Book Reviews from Rider of The Waves, Living the Writing Life

Review # 5 of 30

 

The Rainbow Virus *****

By Dennis Meredith

This is by far one of the best books I’ve read in the last twelve months. Robert Louden, a somewhat disfavored FBI agent has been getting crap assignments but when seemingly random individual citizens in California start turning up with inexplicable color changes; blue, red, green, orange, yellow, and shades in between, the suspicion grows that this may be the result of a strange virus. Then, a common element turns up; the newly “colored” people are all patients of an allergist who’s given them injections. rainbow-virusBut the allergist is as mystified as everyone else, so what can Louden do but go to work, as ordered, with the CDC? As Louden and the old CDC master, Doc, whose partner is the beautiful but unapproachable and unpredictable Kathleen Shinohara begin to gather facts and follow evidence, they realize little is what it first seems to be. The person who’s disseminating the virus—is he a prankster or a dangerously sociopathic microbiologist who does not have the world’s good health as his primary aim? When bullets, not aimed by the good guys, start flying toward the elusive skin-color-tinkerer, Team Louden has to consider that may Someone Even Bigger has an interest in this entire mess. But what interest? What aim? Good or bad? And worse, what Alphabet Agency might it be? Domestic? Otherwise? Those they thought the could trust, well, maybe they shouldn’t. But if this is all for real, it’s their duty to bring the perpetrators to justice before it’s too late–even if it means going against orders.

Though this is a serious book that warns of world-wide dire repercussions with terrifying possible outcomes if the virus is weaponized and not contained, it’s also extremely funny. As Meredith takes us through his delightful tale and turns nearly all of Denver into a multi-hued fruit basket (or maybe that should be ‘nut’ basket), the characters come alive and his rich sense of humor crops up over and over, leaving the reader smiling, grinning, and even laughing out loud with his quirky turns of phrase and exquisite timing.

Really, don’t miss this book.

♠♠♠

And now, not a review, but an announcement, My latest novel, CAVERNS, Book 4 in The Chronicles of Storn is now available pretty much wherever digital books are sold, readable on most, if not all, devices.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it starts out with REFUGE 2nd Edition, in which a dedicated group of scientists and others who care, plan to escape from a draconian Committee that oversees every aspect of life the settlers live on their accidentally-arrived-at new home planet, Storn. Storn is not what they were promised. The winters will kill them unless precautions are taken. Summers, as the planet swings too close to its primary, Magnus, are equally deadly. But somehow, those who care are determined to rescue a couple dozen extraordinary children whose talents terrify the committee. If the Refuge they plan proves inadequate, will the special abilities of the children be enough to save them all?

I you’re wondering, why a Second Edition, I needed to go back and make some changes so when the characters from The Group eventually meet up with those from the Dirtsider Troop, there is better cohesion. This series had been a long, ongoing work which I’ve enjoyed for some time. I hope readers will too.

REFUGE 2nd Edition IS FREE across the board. This link will take you to Kobo, Apple, Scribd, and many other venues. https://www.books2read.com/u/3LdK73

For Kindle, copy and past this link into your browser. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=Refuge+2nd+Edition

Next time, I’ll talk a bit about LIFELINE, Book 2 in the series.

 

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Book Reviews from Rider of The Waves, Uncategorized, What writing's all about

Reviews 3 & 4 of 30

Review: Blaming the Wind **

By Alessandra Harris

www.instafreebe.com gave me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blaming the Wind is primarily the story of two couples, next-door-neighbors and good friends. Unfortunately, the novel, which is well-crafted as to plotting, grammar, spelling, and points of view, failed to hold my interest. I found my mind wandering throughout the tale of these people and their various problems. The trouble was, I did not like any of them. Each, in his or her owblaming-the-windn way, whined too much, was too self-absorbed, and showed little evidence of working to make life better. I found few uplifting moments, fewer reasons to cheer for any of the characters, and had to force myself to keep reading to the end.

One, a stay-at-home-dad, resents his wife’s success and in a way, seems to hold her responsible for his own unwillingness to find a new job, a different way of earning a living after an accident deprived him of his original career. For her part, the “successful” woman comes across as weak and indecisive and much too easily influenced by a charmer anyone with the good sense of a gnat should have spotted at ten paces. If she’d been starved for love at home, it might have made some sense, but she was not.

The other couple consists of a childless woman who wants a job almost as much as she wants a baby, but fears while she needs the first, won’t be able to cope with the second. Her outside influence, her mother, drags her down. Her husband, who likes to live well above his means, is frantically trying to hold onto his position as a sports agent so he can maintain the large house they can ill-afford.

The characters lie not only to themselves, but to each other, and to the peripheral personalities in the story, making for a typical “tangled web” that simply did not have to be if only they told each other the truth. Of course, if they had, there wouldn’t have been a story, but their numerous motivations seem thin and not strong enough to hang the plot on. Ms. Harris clearly has talent and potential as a writer, but this book doesn’t cut it.

Review:  The Day After Never ***

by Russell Blake

 

the-day-after-neverThis is a long, Post Apocalyptic series. Its main saving grace is that it doesn’t contain zombies. The world (read: The U.S.) as we know it, has all but disappeared thanks to a pandemic and the subsequent monetary and societal collapse. Anyone who enjoys a story that reads almost like an old-fashioned Western, shoot-em-up adventures will certainly find this series of episodes captivating. The author displays a keen knowledge of  battle tactics, guns, and fighting. The books are well-written, but they are only installments in an ongoing struggle for supremacy. None of them can be considered even close to stand-alone novels as each ends with a cliff-hanger which, if the reader is concerned enough, begs one to make another purchase. When I buy a book, I like to think I’m getting a beginning, a middle, and an ending, a resolution to the plot twists and the lives of the characters, not a requirement to buy another book to see what happens next. Because I liked Book 1, Blood Honor, and felt sufficiently involved with the characters, I did continue with the series. The next book. Purgatory Road, takes the story one step farther, but still offers no resolve. So, on to Book 3, Covenant. Again, no chance of closing the book with a sense of satisfaction because it, too, ends with a question as to how—and even if—the promised or proposed treaty will work to the betterment of the community. The inevitable cliff-hanger pushes us on to Book 4, Retribution. By that point, this reader was tired of Blake’s particular Post-Apocalyptic America, and declined to carry on with the characters and their (always) perilous journeys.

 

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Uncategorized

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Well, okay maybe not “ridiculous”, but definitely showcasing the difference between a really good writer and one whose work, in my (seldom) humble opinion, doesn’t quite make the grade. The first one of my 30 reads and reviews for 2017 is an incredible yarn written by one Helen B. Henderson. I’ve read a number of her books, most of them Dragon stories which, while equally wonderful, don’t qualify for this blog because they weren’t 2017 reads. I’ll undoubtedly review them at another time, but here’s the one I’ve most recently read, though not the one she’s most recently written. I often find myself playing catch-up with writers whose books I’ve discovered and gotten started on their back-lists.

So, here is my review, Number one of the 30 I’ve promised for 2017–

Windmaster windmaster

By Helen B. Henderson

 

This beautifully crafted novel is filled with fascinating characters, both two- and four-legged, both magical and worldly.A strong, independent and talented woman must choose which realm holds her future. A man of many different abilities is forced to bury his love for her in order to protect her from evil.

The scruffy dock-hand Captain Ellspeth of Sea Falcon hires to help unload her vessel’s cargo, turns out to be Lord Dal, a mage, soon to be her passenger. When he must use his magic to save the ship, he nearly dies. In her desire to save the handsome and intriguing magician, Ellspeth soon finds her own, untapped and hitherto unsuspected powers struggling to surface. Try as she might to suppress them, they are alive and a great threat to the captaincy she’s spent much of her life striving to attain, for as everyone in her world knows, ships, the sea, and magic are a bad mix. Will she have to give up one to retain the other?

Windmaster is undoubtedly one of the best books I have ever read. It kept me reading long past my bedtime, despite my iPhone’s attempt to tell me what to do. Trust me, if you’re an avid reader, never sign up for that iPhone “bedtime” feature app. The developers may mean well, and have my best interests at heart, but since I was about eleven years old, I’ve chosen my own shut-eye-time, if not my wake-up time. Next, if I dare, I plan to delve into  WINDMASTER LEGACY, the sequel to WINDMASTER.

 

And now, review Number 2, for 2017

 

SOMEONE ELSE’S DAUGHTER ***

By Linsay Lanier

 

 

As I said above, the following novel is not exactly ridiculous, and it may be grossly unfair of me to compare the work to one of a writer so much more adept with a plot whose talent far exceeds what someone-elsesMs. Lanier managed to convey. In truth, I did enjoy SOMEONE ELSE’S DAUGHTER, a mystery with a romantic theme, though the problems it presented with regards to the writing quality dropped it from a possible 4 stars down to three.

Miranda Steele is bold, brash and independent, as well as tough, and maybe a little too roughly spoken, but she wasn’t always that way. When her brutal, sterile husband took her newborn daughter (born as the result of a rape) and put her up for adoption, then threw Miranda out with nothing, not even shoes, she made two life-changing decisions: She would not be bullied, beaten, or taken advantage of ever again–and she would find her daughter. She learned self-defense and has practiced it well in the new life she concocted for herself. Her search for her child has already taken over a decade when she ends up finding the body of a murdered child. While afraid the dead girl might be hers, she can only cling to the hope it’s someone else’s daughter. She teams up with the area’s wealthy, powerful, and handsome Private Investigator to find not only the murderer, but her own child. Her affair with the man can, she is certain, go nowhere, but that’s all right with her. She has yet to complete her self-imposed task and is determined to finish it, not allowing the desires of her body to sway her from the path she has chosen. Ms. Lanier does provide a sneaky twist at the end that made the read well worth-while. It just took a long time to get there.

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Book Reviews from Rider of The Waves

My Latest Reviews

As fellow writers have come to know, I not only write novels, I read widely in many genres, and review a lot of what I read, to the point I’ve been getting review requests from other authors sometimes three and four a week. I don’t accept all, of course, or I’d never get my own writing done, but if I like the concept and the query letter is well written, I usually say yes. My goal for 2017 is to read AND REVIEW a minimum of 30 books. These two don’t count, as I read them and reviewed them in late December, 2016.

Once A Wife (A Mother’s Heart Book 2) (Kindle Edition) ****

Patricia Keelyn gives readers an insightful look into the lives of a couple who married too younonce-a-wifeg, for the worst reason, and parted for reasons equally wrong, but completely understandable. Reece, from a family of wealth, is hard-working and driven. Sarah, with a background unacceptable to his parents, abandons not only Reece, but her ailing infant son, determined to make a life for herself apart from them, to give them all a chance at a better life. When she realizes how wrong her actions were, she sees how much too late it is. But, with children involved, can she do anything but fight to regain what’s hers?

Momentary Stasis (The Rimes Trilogy Book 1) (Kindle Edition) ****momentray-stasis

P.R. Adams presents a well-written tale. The author clearly has a good grasp not only of battles and the psychological effect on the participants, but also uses the language well.
Jack Rimes is a warrior. It’s what he does. It’s what he knows. He fights for his unit, his team, and his country. But when he suspects he’s being drawn deeper and deeper into the unknown, when he begins to suspect and doubt those he has a.ways trusted–himself included, he becomes a troubled man. Still, he fights on, trying to right wrongs, even those he might have unwittingly committed, because he is a man of honor.

If you have a book you’d like reviewed, please let me know. I accept only e-books because that’s become the only way I read.

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Living life as it comes, Living the Writing Life, What writing's all about

Bodice WHAT? Or… What’s a bodice?

 

Unless you’re a dressmaker or the author of even one romance novel you probably haven’t even heard of a bodice. Miriam Webster Dictionary meaning: Bodice—the upper part of a woman’s dress. Oh, yeah, another class of citizens knows, too, all about bodices, and they, like others of limited intelligence—specifically, certain truck drivers and too many fourteen-year-old boys—believe they were put on earth to be ripped.

Truck driver, you say? What would a truck driver know about that? Apparently a great deal. An editor who shall remain nameless, formerly with Bantam Books back in the day, explained it this way. “When truck drivers come to the warehouse to pick up a shipment of books most of the boxes have a cover pasted to the box. They typically looked for books with nursing-mother bosoms in low-cut gowns.” Why? Because they liked them. Little boys, weaned too soon, grown up to be truck drivers, actually drove the market when it became clear they were the ones choosing the books (well, the covers, because most of them could probably only read at 3rd grade level if that). Those were the books that went flying off the warehouse shelves, case after case, truckload after truckload, to the retail stores. Naturally, publishing houses’ art departments took note of what books were being shipped out most often and by golly, there went the titty-books like it was a fire-sale! “Hey!” they cried. “We’re on to a good thing! Let’s dress all the heroines in period costumes with low-cut gowns and put them on the decks of pirate ships. Doesn’t matter if there’s a pirate or a ship or the story takes place in modern-day Brooklyn or Tulalip. Historical cover with big bosoms sell. If it works, don’t fix it!”

As a former bookseller, I can attest to the phenomenon. Of course, I put what purported to be NYT Bestsellers front and center, and who stood there gawking, hoping against hope for a “costume malfunction”? Why, fourteen-year-old boys, of course, likely destined to be come truck drivers. These same little boys, in their fantasies, pictured themselves as theyoung guy only half-seen hero standing near the big-boobed cover girl. They envisioned themselves as ripping that dress right down the middle so they could create in their own little minds the sensual pleasure of tearing a woman’s dress off her chest so they could get at the goodies they knew were inside.

No, these male children who dreamed these secret dreams didn’t know the term “bodice”. That it came into popularity, I confess, is entirely my fault. “Get out of my store, you little creeps. I hate it when you stand there drooling down a cover model’s bodice.” Oops! Then I had to send them to the dictionary aisle to look up “bodice.” Alas, one day, a kid a little bit smarter than the others whined, “I wasn’t drooling, lady. I just want to rip her bodice right off her so I can touch those golden globes the guy beside her is looking down at. He’s gonna get to do it, so why can’t I? Gimme a chance! Gimme cleavage! I wanna rip bodices. Lots of them. All of them. If those guys get to do it, why shouldn’t I?”

I explained that ripping bodices was definitely not permitted. It could be seen as insulting, even worse, sexual harassment—maybe even leading to charges of the r-word I dared not utter lest it put even wilder ideas and fantasies into those little, scarcely developed young minds. But, again, alas and probably alack, as time went on, the term “bodice ripper” swept the world until everyone who ever wrote a story about a man and a woman falling into…er…love or some other convenient place, was accused of writing Bodice Rippers, even if the cover of the book had a posy or a decorous little Amish woman wearing a tiny white cap, if the author was a woman, she was surely writing “Bodice Rippers” aka “Trash.”

My own romance novels fall somewhere in between a historical and a sweet romance and only a couple of times did I have a cover that could have been given that insulting moniker and in the example below, the guy has almost as much cleavage as the woman, though she is well endowed. Oh, right. You don’t think it’s insulting. I get that. You’re just having fun with me. Teasing. You know I write stories about mature relationships between a consenting adult woman and an adult man of her choice. You know my books nearly always have children in then, or pets, oLWLr both, and they involve a couple sorting through options, making considered choices that will benefit not only themselves, but may, in some way, assist other women in taking a harder look at their own lives, deciding what’s right for them. Or what’s wrong.

Of course it’s insulting for you to call all romance novels, regardless of content “Bodice Rippers”, especially if you’ve never read even one. If you had, you’d likely have learned that bodices, in most cases, are gently unwrapped to reveal what those kids so longed to see. And that the “ripper” would be firmly smacked down if he did it any other way. It would be insulting. Just as my diatribe about truck drivers and fourteen-year-old boys is. I did that purely as an object lesson. I don’t refer to male oriented “thrillers” where the hero gets it on with a couple of different women before the end, “Dick Lit.” I could, but I don’t because that would be, well, offensive. Besides, I read a lot of those books and I’d be insulting my own intelligence if I were to label them with a “cutsie” little one-name-fits all, to make it easier for those who’ve never read them to simply brush them off as trash not worth their time.

Give it up, guys, love and romance are here to stay. Just like dicks.

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Living life as it comes

Father’s Day

The chorus of Murray McLaughlin’s The Farmer’s Song, “Straw hat and old dirty hankies, mopping a face like a shoe…” has always reminded me of my dad. He wasn’t a farmer. He didn’t have a “face like a shoe” but he always carried a hankie in the back pocket of his jeans. When a weepy little girl said, “Daddy, can I use your hankie?” it was unfailingly available. I don’t know how he managed it, but somehow he could produce a cleanish corner to mop a teary face and wipe a snotty little nose.

He did wear a straw hat on occasion and loved growing things. Had he lived in a different part of the world, he might well have been a farmer. Instead, he was a logger and wore a hardhat. At different times, he was also a fisherman who arose at 4 a.m. to take his salmon troller out to catch fish to sell so the family could buy the things he couldn’t grow. Sometimes, he’d take a daughter who wanted to go with him. Some of my most cherished hours were spent sitting beside him on the stern of an old boat, watching the trolling poles, listening for tinkling of little bells that signaled “fish on” then watching him work the gurdy to wind in the line and land the fish. Many an important question was asked during those mornings, and every one was answered completely and honestly.

We lived on a rocky shelf of land fifteen feet above high-tide mark. This land, he cleared mostly by hand, with a shovel and a mattock and a peavey, digging out roots, large rocks, stumps, and beating back the fast-growing brush of a temperate rainforest. He dug the soil to plant potatoes. Ran strings between pegs to mark even rows for shallow trenches to grow lettuce, radish, cabbage, carrots, swiss-chard, spinach. He hand-split eight-foot cedar poles for green beans to twine their way up. He strung nets for pea vines to climb. He spaded up beds for tomatoes, beets, and onions. With more hand-split cedar, he made racks for raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries. In odd corners where they’d fit, he grew gooseberry bushes, currant bushes, and fruit trees. His garden wasn’t large by flat-lander standards, but required an enormous amount of effort. He built chicken houses, woodsheds, work-shops and ran a forge to create metal objects required on his boat. He also used that shovel to dig a well in a clay bank and ran pipes to provide running water for the house and garden.

These were chores he took care of during the hours he wasn’t logging or fishing for a living. His other “day-off” activities included bucking large logs into blocks, carrying them up from the beach over his shoulder, splitting those blocks into chunks and stacking them to dry in the woodshed—always two years in advance—to keep the family warm. His firewood was also to cook the food, to preserve the harvest for winter use. Now and then, he took time to go out into the woods and bring home a deer, or carried a Coleman lantern to a beach on a winter night when the tide was low, dig clams for more protein.

Somehow, over the years of all this labor, he also constructed a big shed in which he built a boat from the keel up. A bigger boat, one he could take north where he could troll all summer for larger salmon, to earn more money to support his family.

I no longer lived there when he launched his new boat. I never sat on the stern beside him in the early morning, listening for the fish-on bells. He did wear a straw hat, though, and still carried a hankie. After he was gone, when my eyes filled and overflowed with tears at his absence, if I’d said, “Daddy, can I borrow your hankie?” I know it would have been there, with a small corner kept more-or-less clean for a sad little girl.

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Living life as it comes

My feet are cold

This is one of the strangest problems I’ve ever encountered. Literally and figuratively, I have cold feet. Traditionally, I didn’t even need socks in my ski-boots because my feet were always warm. Also, traditionally, when I started writing a book, I was excited, happy, interested, involved and all that good stuff but right now, though I’ve put on my sheepskin slippers (in June, already! Hmmph. Smarten up, weatherman), my toes want a hot water bottle. As for the writing, I started out excited, etc. but suddenly I’ve come to a dead halt less than halfway through the fourth book in a series. This is where the psychological cold feet come in. The Chronicles of Storn is a project that’s been on my mind off and on for more than twenty years. The first in the series published in 2014, the second and third, in 2015, and this one is supposed to be out later this year. But… when I finally finish it, will my writing life be over? Do I want it to be? Can I put these characters away like I have so many others, and move on, come up with new ideas? Frankly, at this moment, I’m scared to learn the answer.

Throughout the other three books, these people have survived quakes, floods, fires, and fought off vicious wildcats, not to mention horrendous avians that can pick up a cow and fly off with it. They’ve learned to adapt to some pretty severe conditions, and have overcome plenty of difficulties. Some have died in accidents. Some have simply wandered away and may, I suppose, wander back, but maybe not.The main protagonists have a goal. In fact, it could even be called a mission. I know what it is and want to see them and their troop fulfill it.

The trouble for me is they also have the unusual ability to remain at the same biological age as when they arrived on the planet, which means I’ve painted myself and my sheepskin slippers into a corner. They’ve been there, exploring and enduring for three hundred years and none of them has grown any older. I can’t seem to make these characters move on, grow within themselves, develop new ways of looking at life. I don’t even know if they should or could. If a man stalls biologically at the age of forty-five, is he going to keep on learning, keep on questioning, keep on wondering? Oh, right, sure I know a lot of men who have physically and chronologically lived forty-five years yet remain at the age of fourteen in certain situations, such as laughing like lunatics when another guy bashes his thumb with a hammer or falls overboard or loses his trunks when he dives off the high-board.

This doesn’t apply to women, of course. When they grow up, they grow up. Well, mostly. Apart from needing company when they go to the bathroom in a restaurant where they can talk privately and giggle about the men who are still mentally fourteen. None of the women in this particular book seem to feel really bad about not growing physically older. They kind of revel in it. They are between the ages of seventeen and forty, so of course they’re not going to complain about their physical appearance any more than the men do. These gals don’t have sagging boobs and butts. They don’t have wrinkles beyond smile- and squint-lines, but I would like them to begin to show some wisdom as they age. You know, stop giggling together.

I suspect since no one has sagging boobs or butts, I’m simply suffering from middle-book sag myself. (I shall not mention my own body parts here, except to say I cut my finger a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t write until the stitches came out.) Well, they’re out, and here I am at the keyboard again, and still not writing the damn book. I’d rather go swimming. But the water’s too cold even in this shallow little bay, even when it’s supposed to be summer, or darn close to it. What I’d really like to do is run away from home and–

Hey! Hold on here! Remember those characters who wandered away and may, or may not come wandering back? What if one or two more of the main protags do the running away from home thing? That would make the others start thinking things like, what did I do wrong? What did I say? How can I change to ensure this doesn’t happen again if I take up with someone else? Soul-searching’s a good way for a character to grow and change, even over a three-hundred-year period. If a woman’s been living with the same man for sixty or seventy years or even a hundred or two (heaven forfend!) so long as nothing on her sags, what’s to stop her from making a run for it? After all, they’ve shared the same experiences over and over and over again, so why not look farther afield while she can? And if a guy has been sleeping with the same woman for decades and decades and is still randy and rarin’ to go, wouldn’t he be happy for a change of pace? Son of a gun! I think my middle-book sag just got a boob-job and a tummy-tuck, not to mention a new lease on life. Later, folks. Joe Storn’s about to get the world knocked right out from under his size thirteen mukluks.

 

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