Crash / From the Wreckage (books 60 and 61)

Crash / Michael Robertson

Synopsis – After the European economy completely crashes, electricity and water are shut off, jobs become nonexistent, the police and government are dismantled, and the 99% rise against the 1%. Or so it seems. As in any mass crisis situation, a specific demographic jumps at the chance to loot, pillage, rape, torture, and murder with impunity. From a window in his once posh home, a (former) 1%-er watches a gang of brutal thugs destroy his neighbors’ homes, torture and murder the males and the pets, and imprison the females as rape slaves in a cage in the back of their truck. With his young son at his side, and his wife and daughter mysteriously gone, the 1%-er must make a series of decisions which will have the lowest high chance of fulfilling the unimaginable suffering he and his son face. Not easy to do when you’ve slowly watched your family fall apart, you’re trapped in a freezing cold house, slowly starving, and the bad guys are strolling up your driveway…

Reaction – This is a very violent book. Yes, it can easily be classified as torture porn, but the violence and gore are broken into manageable (in my opinion) chunks by the interspersion of ridiculously humorous pre-crash flashbacks. Robertson knows my brand of humor. Stereotypical characters and no satisfying character arcs in this one. Not for the easily queasy. For ironed-lined stomachs only.

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Crash-Book-One-Michael-Robertson-ebook/dp/B00DJBJVY8

*

From the Wreckage / Stacy Stanford

Synopsis – Head Cheerleader Buffy can’t wait to start her senior year of high school with her two besties and cheerleadin’ side-kicks. Together, The Three MuskeCheers will rule the school! Yea-Rah! But who knew a tornado would rip through town, destroying the high school and killing one of Buffy’s besties? What’s a Head Cheerleader to do‽ She’s got to keep on keepin’ on in her super cute and sexy cheerleading outfit with the short skirt that flips up in the back when a breeze or a tornado blows by. Not only that, she’s got to break up with her wealthy and handsome golden boy captain of the football team boyfriend, and make a play for the mysterious and broody motorcycle-riding loner (but not totally creepy because he was once part of the popular clique) handsome bad boy. Yeah-Rah!

Reaction – An eye-rolling-ly ditzy book. Lots of teen hormone-fueled leering and groping, and lots of intertwining fingers and skirt flipping. Lots of texting. The characters are stereotypes, but they’re fun. The storyline held my interest for its bubble gum-popping teen angst entertainment. A fun fluff book for YA fans.

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Wreckage-Michele-G-Miller-ebook/dp/B00KXIJ4H4

*

A Thousand Bridges / Lost Girl of the Lake (books 58 and 59)

A Thousand Bridges / Michael McKinney

Synopsis – Florida Man, not having learned his lesson, gets in over his head again in the Floridian labyrinth of corrupt politics. But it’s not his fault (this time). Florida Woman and Florida Girl are to blame with their tales of shootout and rape survival at the tentacles of a burgeoning band of power-hungry politicos. Can Florida Man bury the memory of his dead girlfriend long enough to (temporarily) save Florida and the USA from the latest batch of rich and rogue Florida Rebels? Will any of this knock http://bit.ly/1vzjEoP off the front page of Florida News?

Reaction – I’m a big fan of Florida Man, and all things Florida (from a safe distance), so this tale of wild and wacky Floridian crime and corruption easily held my interest. The characters – though larger-than-life (I expect as much from Florida) – were palpable, and I ended up caring about the fate of every one of them, even the sick and sleazy slimeballs. I also appreciated the vivid descriptions of the varied Florida landscape as a counterbalance to the alternating rage, wrath and carefree cluelessness of the Florida People. Read this Florida Book if you’re a Florida Man fan, or simply if you’re Florida-curious.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Thousand-Bridges-Michael-McKinney-ebook/dp/B0061YAU5Y

*

Lost Girl of the Lake / Joe McKinney and Michael McCarty

Synopsis – A rich and privileged teen goes on a country club summer vacation with his family. After enduring the glorified boredom of idle childhood wealth, he finally cuts loose and meets a mysterious girl skinny dipping at night in the lake. His joins her, but you know how teen boys are. She has to put him in his place. After the requisite period of teen angst and brooding, she finally shows up again to give him another chance. Only this time she has a posse of snakes. Or maybe she’s a snake and she wants him to meet her snake family. Or maybe the boy has a snake fetish, and he’s imagining all this. In any case, this is the summer he comes of age via the serpent… somehow.

Reaction – A charming tale of coming of age told in a personable, friendly voice. The main character was likeable in a “sympathetic underdog” kind of way. The story was clear and solid for most of the book, but at the conclusion it got a bit tangled up the arcane and esoteric. Did the boy lose his virginity? Did he have a bad acid trip? Was he psychologically disabled? I have no idea. Read this if you like the mystery of the serpent and you don’t mind an open-ended… ending.

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Girl-Lake-Michael-McCarty-ebook/dp/B00BODKYOY

*

First Contact (book 57)

Synopsis – Humans on a survey starship finally make first contact with technologically advanced alien life forms. Will these strange aliens be friendly? Hostile? Indifferent? Turns out they’re violent psychopaths bent on human destruction… according to human standards. And now the sole survivor of the starship – mysteriously spared by the alien warriors – must warn his species that their worst alien nightmare is about to come true. But are these alien freaks really so bad? Maybe they’re just misunderstood in their bloodlust. Plus they’re even giving their human prey some prep time…

Reaction – This book did not give me cancer.*An excellent supposition with a long, drawn-out execution. I appreciated the jettisoning of philosophical anthropomorphism, but this story of alien life with alien motivation could’ve been told in half as much space. The characters started out sketchy, and by the middle of the book, were further described only in their emotional engagement in life-and-death battle. Read this if you enjoy long, drawn-out battle scene after long, drawn-out battle scene…

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it herehttp://www.amazon.com/First-Contact-Last-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B004IPQE0I

*To my knowledge.

Rosemary’s Baby (book 56)

Rosemary’s Baby / Ira Levine

Synopsis – Rosemary desperately wants to have a baby. The time is right, and everything is in place. She’s married to a loving, successful man. They have enough money, a coveted spacious apartment, and dear, doting neighbors. And now Rosemary’s husband is finally on board with delivering a baby. But something’s not right with the pregnancy. Come to think of it, nothing is quite right, including the fact that the pregnancy is the result of rape. How could Rosemary’s sweet, caring husband rape her while she was passed out? Well, maybe he wasn’t the actual rapist, but he’s not off the hook… And never mind that, she’s several months along and rape is the least of her worries. Seems Rosemary and her rapey hubby aren’t the only ones who desperately want a baby…

Reaction – A great book to read if you like to explore “what if” scenarios. Rosemary seems incredibly a bit daft at times, but I was able to attribute that to the influence of love and pregnancy hormones. And all the drugs her caretakers were giving her. This story is skillfully written and palpable, with a sinister plot and believable characters. Read this for breathless suspense and an ending that leaves you hanging…

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Rosemarys-Baby-Ira-Levin-ebook/dp/B004W8NS5U

*

A Murder in Time / Spellbound (books 54 and 55)

A Murder in Time / Jonas Saul

Synopsis – Marcus is a guy who thinks he has little to lose. In his 20s, he knows he will develop early onset Alzheimer’s disease in a few years. His mother is dead, and his father is a broken-down alcoholic. He works for low pay in an adult toy store. So he figures he’s gotta grab that brass ring one way or another before his lucid time runs out. But when Marcus robs the toy store, his plan doesn’t go off without a hitch or three. He doesn’t factor in that actions have consequences. Enter the secret weapon – Marcus discovers he can travel backward in time to “fix” his actions. But each “fix” leads to another consequence, and the consequences quickly become unbearable…

Reaction – Smooth, fluid writing, but the storyline gets more confused as the novel progresses. Granted, it’s a paradoxical time travel book, but at the end I was wondering if Marcus was already displaying Alzheimer’s symptoms. Marcus inexplicably seeks help from a therapist he knows has been drugging and raping him for years. That bothered me. He also keeps making little jumps back in time to prevent little mistakes, instead of jumping back to prevent the big mistake which started the whole mess. That also bothered me. High suspense, and I really rooted for the guy, even though he was an idiot.

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Time-Novel-Jonas-Saul-ebook/dp/B00GJ2IHAS

*

Spellbound / Tim Kizer

Synopsis – What if you drive to some podunk town, check into a motel, and within a few days, start meeting people who say you’ve been there for months? What if you start to believe them? After all, these people seem friendly and honest. Heck, the whole town is downright likeable. And the motel itself – you wouldn’t mind calling it “home.” Come to think of it, that’s just what you’re gonna do. Be a permanent guest. Just like all the other guests at the motel. Never mind about your spouse and job left back in your former hometown. Mind control or demonic possession – who cares, as long as you and your new friends are happy.

Reaction – The first half of this book was staccato and flat. The characters were dull and the action was monotonous. But still, the writing had a nice dream-like quality, and I gradually found myself getting into the zombie-like rhythm. The second half of the book got more active and exciting. The spouse of the main character concocted all kinds of craziness to try to break the motel’s spell, which made for humorous reading. The repeated “penis” and “erection” references, however, only seemed to add to the odd one-dimensionality. Then the end was a true WTF moment. The storyline “resolved” itself without real explanation, unless you count an oh-so-brief non sequitur thrown into the last paragraph.

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Spellbound—Suspense-Novel-Tim-Kizer-ebook/dp/B00KN9FHS8

*

Blood Land / River on Fire (books 52 and 53)

Blood Land / R.S. Guthrie

Synopsis – The wife of a small town sheriff is murdered. The confessed killer? The victim’s brother. The motive? No motive, it was an accident. Or so it would seem. Generations of pride and prejudice run deep in this saga of steel-jawed ranchers gone bad(der). A family feud has boiled over and flame is still stuck on high. Personal demons and crippling self-doubt be damned, this sheriff must see the trial of his wife’s killer through to the bitter end. Which weaknesses will he choose to obey? And who is ultimately guilty in a family ruled by greed and guns?

Reaction – A fair amount of grandiosity and cowboy angst, but the seamy and mysterious undercurrent made this modern western highly readable. The characters were well-balanced and kept me on the fence. High plains suspense with a mysteriously likeable antagonist. Read this if you’re in the mood for a for a broken cowboy hero tale with a satisfying double twist at the end.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Land-James-Pruett-Mystery-ebook/dp/B008J4NKA6

*

River on Fire / Scott Pratt

Synopsis – A boy, abandoned as a baby, grows up in an orphanage in the 1960s. As an outcast in school, and a victim of circumstance at the home, he learns to endure physical, sexual, and verbal abuse as a rite of passage. Through the tedium of years of abuse and mentoring, he transforms from a sensitive pacifist to a brawling army enlistee. On the cusp of adulthood, underneath his hardened exterior, he might still embrace a sliver of innermost childlike peace…

Reaction – This coming-of-age memoir-style novel lent itself to immediate empathy with this main character. As it was set in the turbulent 1960s, the cast of characters were swept up in intense social struggle and ideological transformation. The ending was wrapped up rather quickly, but upon finishing the book, I found my views on what it means to survive an abusive childhood had changed. Despite the harshness of the hardships, the story, as a whole, was uplifting. I highly recommend this book to those interested in exploring childhood abuse survival in a novel context.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/River-Fire-Scott-Pratt-ebook/dp/B006ZPRRVY

*

Haunted House / Floor Four (books 50 and 51)

Haunted House / Jack Kilborn

Synopsis – Torture porn survivors are offered one million dollars each if they survive one more night of torture porn in a supposedly haunted mansion. All in the name of science, of course – a mad scientist wants to make an anti-fear serum from the torture porn survivors’ blood. But a real scientist wouldn’t really torture actual people, right? That would be unethical as well as illegal. Most of them survivors sign up and show up, and the torture begins. Damn. And when the would-be millionaires realize the mad scientist really is a mad scientist, the plucky band of survivors must figure out how to survive… again.

Reaction – The bulk of the first half the book vaguely describes the torture the survivors endured before they arrive at the mansion. The second half of the book describes the torture at the mansion. Gruesome stuff. But it’s unapologetic torture porn, and some people delight in reading it. One-dimensional characters, a predictable plot, and a cartoon ending. For torture porn fans only.

Recommendation – I guess some people would find this book worthwhile in some universe somewhere.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Haunted-House-Terror-Jack-Kilborn-ebook/dp/B00BOWPZUS

*

Floor Four / A. Lopez, Jr.

Synopsis – A serial killer is finally shot and dies in a hospital, leaving his ghost behind to haunt the fourth floor. And the killer isn’t done killing. It seems he’s figured out a way to alternately possess people and take on material form. There’s some mad ghostly skills right there. After the hospital is abandoned, a trio of junior high school boys get caught up in the ghostly aftermath. Why won’t these kids listen to their elders these days? And wouldn’t ya know it, a dang whippersnapper’s done got himself possessed.

Reaction – A juvenile story with juvenile writing which may appeal to pre-teens. Shallow characters, a clunky storyline, and an unclear differentiation between imagination and reality, which I suspect was unintentional. The saving grace was it had the ineffable charm of a campfire story. A scary tale safe for all ages. Read this if you’re in the mood for an endearingly goofy ghost story.

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Floor-Four-Lopez-Jr-ebook/dp/B00CTF9OOM

*

Pulse / Thirst (books 48 and 49)

Pulse / Kailin Gow

Synopsis – Poor Kalina. Her weird boyfriend died in a DUI accident, and now her dead boyfriend’s two half-brothers show up at her place with the hots for her. What’s a super smart and sexy high school girl to do? Resignedly, she must choose between these two devastatingly handsome, yet weird and kind of creepy beaus. To make matters worse, it turns out all three of the brothers are vampires, and (the smell of) Kalina’s Life Blood is irresistible to vampires. It gives them extra super vampire powers. And to further complicate the issue, she’s a virgin, and her blood isn’t ripe yet. And now vampires are coming out of the woodwork to get a taste of her. Or at least a sniff, until she ripens.

Reaction – Lots of windy weather and rogue wind gusts blowing around this YA novel. A high schooler dating a man centuries older than her was kind of creepy, but at least they didn’t do the deed. Shallow, under-developed characters and a predictable plot. The ever-present sexual tension was as irritating as the constant air-sniffing. This breezy teen vampire book might appeal to Twilight fans.

Recommendation – I guess some people would find this book worthwhile in some universe somewhere.

Get it here – http://smile.amazon.com/PULSE-Vampire-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B0041D8CPC

*

Thirst / Claire Farrell

Synopsis – Ava is a human-vampire hybrid – an outcast from both worlds. She wants desperately to suck blood, but the thought of it is icky. So her life sucks. But Ava has special Daywalker powers, which makes full-blooded vampires jealous. One day she rescues a human from a vampire and inadvertently “charms” him into being her minion. Now she can’t get rid of him. So she enlists the help of the vampire world and its fringe characters. Then things really start to suck. So to speak.

Reaction – This YA book had a promising start with the main character struggling against a life-long compulsion which repulsed her. But then it delved into vampire history and politics and the plot stalled. It picked up somewhere with a confusing cross and double cross of alliances. The supporting characters were stereotypical and lacked clear motivations. Too much “vampire,” even for a vampire book. Where did all the humans go? An odd, unexplained cold presence kept feeling up the main character. A disturbing torture scene toward the end. For die-hard vampire fans only.

Recommendation – I guess some people would find this book worthwhile in some universe somewhere.

Get it here – http://smile.amazon.com/Thirst-Ava-Delaney-Book-1-ebook/dp/B004E9U9AY

*

Barbie Girl / Dollhouse (books 46 and 47)

Barbie Girl / Heidi Acosta

Synopsis – The queen skank ho of the local high school is failing another class. So she makes a deal with coolnerd. He tutors her, and she will make the popuprep of his dreams jealous by pretending to be his skanky girlfriend. Too bad crackpot high school schemes do not always go as planned. Despite the tutoring, she is still failing, and in the meantime, skank ho and coolnerd fall in love lust. But miraculously, popuprep claims coolnerd, and skank ho and coolnerd have a falling out. Can they reclaim the lust they once shared?

Reaction – Lots of smelling and touchy-feely going on in this tale of hormones and high school cliques. And apparently the characters skipped English class the day contractions were covered. Aside from the implausible jealousy scheme, this YA book had some riveting scenes, including a suspenseful OD scene, and a harrowing beating scene. A couple supporting characters added charm, and the ending was well-executed.

Recommendation – You are taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Barbie-Girl-Baby-Heidi-Acosta-ebook/dp/B00A1GHSCG

*

Dollhouse / Anya Allyn

Synopsis – Four teens take a hike in a forest to complete a class assignment. When one of them goes missing, the other three decide to camp out in the forest to find her. The teens are kidnapped and held prisoner in a giant underground dollhouse. They now live with other kidnapped girls in the dark, cold, and damp twilight zone. Can they survive being drugged and malnourished long enough to execute their escape?

Reaction – Three teens camping out in a forest unsupervised is a bit implausible, but once the story got into the actual dollhouse, the mood and pace fell into place. Lots of teen angst and suffering. This YA book slowly immersed itself into the fantasy genre as the teens spent more time underground. A slow start, magical middle, and abrupt ending. Note – the version I read is no longer available on Amazon, and this book is not a standalone book, but rather the first one in a series.

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get a different version here – http://www.amazon.com/Dollhouse-Anya-Allyn-ebook/dp/B00IY6QXN0

*

This Perfect Day / Plague Zone (books 44 and 45)

This Perfect Day / Ira Levin

Synopsis – In the future, a supercomputer controls civilization. The supercomputer decides everybody’s names, schooling, and careers. All eat the same, all play the same. All are content, cooperative, and drugged into compliance. But now and then a few individuals glimpse through the unity fog and wonder about a life without the lock-step conformity. What life was like before the supercomputer, when people where violent and selfish and sick. And now and then a few of these sick-minded individuals break away to try to destroy the supercomputer.

Reaction – The first third of this book was a bit dull with mechanical writing and shallow characters, even considering everybody was drugged. An odd preoccupation with sex ran throughout the book. A child sex scene, creepy and awkward, disrupted the flow of the story. Further on, an unexpected male on female rape scene also didn’t fit the story, and just added to the general misogyny reflected in the writing. Aside from those flaws, the book picked up in its action and intrigue just before the half-way point, and presented unexpected and intelligent questions about the meaning and value of freedom and conformity. An excellent premise with several exciting plot twists.

Recommendation – This hit and miss book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/This-Perfect-Day-Ira-Levin-ebook/dp/B004XEC084

*

Plague Zone / David Wellington

Synopsis – A family man decides to be a hero after the zombie apocalypse. Not by destroying all the zombies, buy by destroying just one of them – the one who took out his wife and child. And if he has to annihilate a few extraneous zombies in the process, well, that’s the price he has to pay. Now if he can only escape the little pocket of civilization he was lucky enough to stumble into, and immerse himself into the zombie masses to find and kill one particular undead brain-eater…

Reaction – The characters were a bit hung-ho and implausible, and the revenge motivation was eye-rollingly ridiculous. Nonetheless, this was a rip-roaringly exciting zombie apocalypse story. Plenty of walking dead suspense and action. Gruesome and creepy zombie descriptions and edge-of-your-seat escape scenes. A must read for zombie lovers.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Plague-Zone-David-Wellington-ebook/dp/B009HNKE3O

*

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