Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Cold Dish – Book Review

 1-7-2014 7-33-50 PM

The Cold Dish is the first of many Walt Longmire mysteries. This one came highly recommended by a friend, so I gave it a try. At first I had a hard time with how the author, Craig Johnson, handled the characters’ dialogue, but I got used to it (sorta) or I just skipped over trying to sort out who was talking since I understood what was going on.

Set in Wyoming, the scenes are nicely described without overdoing it. The characters you should like are likable. The characters you shouldn’t like are written so that you dislike the ones you’re supposed to dislike. So when I learned the first murder victim is a rapist of a mentally handicapped girl who got off on easy jail time, I wanted to know who the killer was to give that person a pat on the back.

This whole book series has spawned a TV series on A&E called Longmire. I can say that I like the book (singular since I have only read one thus far) better than the series. The pilot episode was rather vanilla and loosely based around this book. Another later in the season episode circled back around to this book, but was still quite different. So the book to TV series association is a bit loose. The biggest thing going for the TV series is Lou Diamond Phillips plays Walt’s friend, Henry, and he is fantastic at it. I do like Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck from the newer Battlestar Galactica TV show) in her role. The other TV characters are ok….not real crazy about them or sold on the lead character/actor, but that may just be me.

Since this is a review of the book….back to the book. My guess is it’s probably PG-13-ish. No graphic violence. No graphic sex. But the language gets sketchy with one particularly potty mouthed character, Vic. (In the TV show, Vic isn’t quite so foul mouthed). The murders that happen in this book are interesting with some nice twist action for solving the mystery. It drives me crazy to know who done it long before the writer ever gets to that point. I had a suspicion, but it was well into the book and shortly before the big reveal anyway…so this was good writing in my opinion that it kept me guessing for a while.

I will be reading more of these books because I liked the first one and have been told subsequent ones are even better. For the TV series, I may watch some, but I won’t be tripping over myself to keep up on episodes.

Ender’s Game – Review

EG 2

Ender’s Game, the first of a five part series, has been out for a while. The first edition was released in 1985. It has received recent hype due to the movie of the same name that came out in November which I have not seen. I got sucked into reading it through the recommendation of a fellow SciFi fan friend. Thanks, Juan! The hero is a six year old genius being trained by the military to be the next amazing military mind to fight against aliens threatening Earth. It’s set at some unknown point in the future, and has some plausibility issues since six year old Ender is being trained to lead all of Earth’s military forces into battle before he hits puberty. He’s a whopping ten years old when he gets shipped off to Command School. In the story this is a big deal because kids don’t go to Pre-Command School until the age of twelve and Command School at sixteen, but Ender makes the jump at ten. TEN! That stretches things quite a bit for me.

However, I like SciFi because it stretches the imagination, so I can go along with it. I don’t get too hung up on the age thing because I like the story overall. I’m not finished with the book yet, but I do like it and will finish it. Ender has an older brother, Peter, that is also a genius and basically a psychopath that I’m sure will take over the world at some point since the dude is so twisted. I mean, who else could possibly rule the entire world if not a psychopath? This is my own prediction here, so I have no idea if this is what happens or not.

Ender also has a genius older sister, Val, who I am still trying to figure out her role in the story other than a prop. She offers Ender some minuscule balance back to reality (remember Ender is a six year old being trained to be a fighting machine and be a general before he has his first zit), but she also goes along with her psychotic older brother’s plans….and she knows full well that Peter is bat shit crazy. So there’s a genius kid sister, who knows her genius older brother is whackadoo and likes to kill and torture things for fun, she goes along with his plans and is happy as a canary. She’s a genius too? Per the story, she is. Per my opinion, she’s not so bright.

The villain of the story is portrayed as the evil aliens reportedly bent on destroying the Earth after two failed attempts. There are some minor villains in the other kids in the school who hate Ender for being perfect. However, it seems to me that the real villain is the military forces behind the training of the children, and the impending alien attack is all hype. Again, this is my own prediction.

I’m sure I’ll finish this book by the end of the week. As I said, I am enjoying it. Ender is a likable character, and I can handle the plausibility stretch of the characters’ ages. There are other interesting things happening in the story which I won’t reveal here. Read it for yourself if you’re interested. Remember, it’s SciFi, and it’s ok to stretch the mind.

EG 1

The Hangman’s Daughter Series – Review

hangmans daughter

Ok, I’ve been a little behind on my weekly post. I wish I could claim the dog ate my post (which if you knew my dogs, you would know this is completely plausible!), but I can’t. I have been up to my eyeballs getting book 2, One in the Chamber, ready for release in the next couple of weeks, but now it’s catch up time.

I recommend all four books in The Hangman’s Daughter Series. They are set in 1660’s, Germany, and they are a murder mystery/thriller/historical fiction combo. I’d say they’re rated more PG-13 rather than PG only because of some of the historical things of that time dealing with war, plague, and the hangman’s trade of being paid for executing criminals.

The first book, I thought, centered more around the Hangman rather than his daughter, which was fine because Jakob is an intriguing chap. Books 2, 3, and 4 brought more focus onto Magdalena, his daughter, as the book title suggests.

In my “Names” post, I mentioned this series as an influence for deciding to give Magda her name in The Monster Within.

For this book review, I just finished the fourth in the Hangman’s Daughter series. The last book, The Poisoned Pilgrim, took me a while to get through, not because of poor story arc or slack writing, but because I was distracted by other things like getting OTC ready.

My only beef with book 4 was the way the story unfolded at the end. Instead of  the characters solving the mysteries on their own, at the end, the villain, who is completely cuckoo, spills his guts and tells everything. I found it a little anti-climactic and disappointing. Sure, they solved many of the questions around the murders, but to have most of the murder sub-plot revealed in a huge confession really reminded me of a Scooby Doo episode.

“And I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you pesky kids and your dog….”

Overall, they’re worth the read.  Keep your Scooby Snacks handy for the end of The Poisoned Pilgrim. Scooby will want his reward! Ruh-roh!

Story Engineering – Review

10-22-2013 6-58-58 AM

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks is a book I’ve been working on for some time now. So this “review” isn’t based on the completed read; however, I think I have been chipping away at it long enough to be able to give you some info on it.

If you’re interested in writing, this is a good book to have. It has lots of good info in it, but I do find that the author spends a lot of time repeating himself. Initially I was pouring over this book reading every single word, trying to soak it in, and progressing very slowly through it. As I continued reading, I realized I had just read that same piece not long before, but it was worded differently now.

To me this reads like a conglomerate of blog posts made into chapters. There is still great info in here, but I would recommend a little more skimming…it’s what I have started to do. But if there are parts that you find confusing, slow down and read more in-depth. One of those slightly different ways of explaining the same thing will likely hit the mark and you’ll understand it.

I’m a bit over halfway, had made a few highlights on my Kindle, and then promptly lost all of my highlights when I moved the book to my tablet. Luv me some technology. I might go back and skim the first half again to recover the highlights. As I said, there is good information in this book. But on my second time around, I’ll likely jot down the key pieces I want and hang onto the vastly shorter version of key points as they apply to me.








Elements of Style – Review

elements of style


I wanted to start posting a little information on books I’ve been reading or have recently finished. I also wanted to give you an image of the book to know what to look for. This book is The Elements of Style, 4th Edition by Strunk and White. It’s been several years since the last time I read this, and I just finished reading it again. It’s not a huge book so it doesn’t take long to read, but for it’s size, it has volumes of information in it.

If you want to write and write well, this book covers the dos and don’ts. Personally I liked how it gave examples of a sentence and then an example of a better sentence. It also has a glossary at the end. Noun, verb, adjective, and the rest of the usual suspects. Other definitions for words I probably at one point learned in High School but promptly forgot. So it was a good refresher.

This is one of those books that I will keep close and certainly re-read at the end of each book I write to look for the mentioned common errors or poor writing examples and get them corrected before going to print. If you’re writing or thinking of writing, this is a book to have, not in your library, but on your desk next to your keyboard. Get it!