Saturday, January 29, 2011

CBR III Review #28-#30 The Giver Series by Lois Lowry

CBR III Review #28: The Giver by Lois Lowry

I may be one of the few people who never read Lois Lowry's The Giver growing up. For some reason it was never assigned to me in any of my English classes but I remember seeing people carrying it around. I would like to start off by saying I am so glad I decided to read this book. I wish I had been assigned this book to read this novel growing up instead of an entire year of Shakespeare and and entire year of Greek plays. I read The Giver a few days ago and the novel still haunts me.

Twelve year old Jonas has grown up in a community where nothing bad ever happens and every decision is made for you.  In this society everyone's career is chosen for them at the age of 12.  Sexual impulses are squashed with a well regimented drug therapy, and later in life the society decides who your partner will be.  The society then provides you with two children to raise, One girl and one boy.  Once the elderly become a burden they are "released" from the society.  Infants who do not grow at an ideal rate as also "released".

At first glance the society seems perfect.  There is no crime, no poverty, no unemployment and everyone appears to be happy, but there is also no sex, no pure joy, no large families, and worst of all no love.  The society's mission is to promote "sameness".

The novel follows Jonas after he is  picked to be the next "Receiver of Memories."  This position is a very prestigious position because there is only ever one "Receiver of Memories" at one time.  Under the guidance of the man known as "the Giver" he begins to learn the mysteries of the world.  Jonas slowly learns about war, famine, love, and is educated on some things as basic as weather and colors.  As Jonas progresses in his chosen career path he starts to wonder if the perfect society is worth all the sacrifices.  Jonas and the Giver decide to try and change their society but will people who have never experience any true emotions be able to handle the history of the world?

CBR III Review #29: Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

I wanted to start off the review by letting everyone know that it isn't obvious that the novel Gathering Blue is a sequel to The Giver until one reads Messenger then all the pieces of the three novels fall into place.

The Giver is set in the distant future, the society relies on technology and medication to remain emotionally repressed.  Gathering Blue is set in a society that is the exact opposite of this. Kira is a young woman who is dealing with her mothers death when the novel opens.  Kira was born with a twisted leg and is unable to contribute to the society in a way that society feels is productive.  Once her mother dies the village takes it upon themselves to kick her out of the society and abandon her outside in the woods where the "beasts" will mostly likely eat her.  Fortunately for Kira, she is a gifted weaver and the societies leaders decide to take her in as long as she promises to repair a robe that has the society's history woven into it.  Kira is placed with a young man who is talented carver and very young girl who is a very talented singer.  Together the three of them start to unravel the secrets to their society and what they have been hiding.

Gathering Blue did not evoke the same feelings and emotions that The Giver was able to.  The characters are not as fleshed out and I really did not like the abrupt ending.  It felt like the novel just ended without a lot of explanation that was still needed.  I'll be honest I'm not sure if I disliked Gathering Blue because I was comparing it to the The Giver.  I wonder if I had picked it up with no expectations if I would have felt the same way.


CBR III Review #30: Messenger by Lois Lowry

Matty is a character from the novel Gathering Blue.  He is one of Kira's only friends even though he was much younger. Messenger picks up a few years after Gathering Blue and follows Matty who lives in a village that is close to the first village in The Giver and is also close to the village in the novel Gathering Blue.  Matty moved to this village after the conclusion to Gathering Blue.  Matty in the opening of Messenger has begun to realize he has the ability to heal the sick and injured and has watched others in his community begin using supernatural powers to trade with others in the community.  However, Matty has noticed that those who trade their powers have changed emotionally and are no longer kind peopleThose who are trading their gifts have also become very vocal about closing their borders so people from the other villages would no longer be welcome.

You come to realize that the leader of this village (who is against closing the borders) is Jonas from The Giver you also realize that The blind Seer that has been looking after Matty is a long lost relative of Kira's from Gathering Blue.  Unfortunately, Messenger doesn't really offer any explanations to how society is in the other two villages.  What happened to the people in the village that Jonas was from once they started to experience emotions?  Does the village that Kira is from still murder parents of talented children so that they become orphaned? What happened to Gabe?  What is Kira doing in the village from Gathering Blue to make them more open to acceptance of those with defects and differences?  Why are those in the village who appear to have powers so against having new people enter their village?

Lowry is a gifted writer but I honestly I just hated how Gathering Blue and Messenger asked more questions then answered.  I felt like I was watching "Lost" all over again. Messenger had a bit more closure than Gathering Blue but I still feel like one should read The Giver then forget the other two novels in this series ever exist.  On their own I think I would have enjoyed them more but the fact they were linked to The Giver really took away from their stories.


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    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    CBR III Review #27: In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks: . . . And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy by Adam Carolla

    CBR III Review #27: In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks: . . . And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy by Adam Carolla

    My fiance loves Adam Carolla to the point that I was a little worried he may never propose because he was going to hold out for Adam Carolla..  He listens to his podcast daily and agrees with most everything he has to say.  I personally never listened that much to Carolla but the few podcost I did listen to were always fairly funny. My fiance bought his book and while he was reading it he was ALWAYS laughing out loud, which is kinda annoying at midnight and you are trying to sleep. He was laughing out loud so much I decided to read the damn thing for myself, and I'm actually really glad I did.

    Adam Carolla is a first class complainer, he should be given a gold medal in complaining, and just a heads up he manages to offend every group of people under the sun.  It's not the type of book you want to read if get easily offended.  Carolla's more socially liberal and fiscally conservative and that comes out in the novel in a few places. In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks: . . . And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy is essentially a 250-page standup rant.  If you like Carolla's podcast you'll love the book.  If you think he is an unfunny whiny man then you'll hate it.

    Here is one of my favorite parts of the book: " If you can’t afford a TV or you pawned your TV because of a gambling debt, you get a pass. But this is the guy who doesn’t own a TV for the sole purpose of announcing he doesn’t own a TV. This is his way of declaring he’s better than you. He acts like everyone who has a TV just sits around staring at Night Court reruns and Ashton Kutcher commercials. He would never admit there’s provocative, informative, entertaining programming such as my favorite new reality show I’m a Pretentious A--hole Who Tells Everyone I Don’t Own a TV."

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    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    CBR III Review #26: Autumn by David Moody

    CBR III Review #26: Autumn by David Moody

    The novel Autumn by David Moody is in one word bleak. In minutes about 99.5 percent of the population of a British city is dead.  The few survivors that remain watched everyone around them suddenly choke on their own blood and suffocate to death.  Millions upon million of people lay dead in the street, in their offices, and homes. Autumn follows three survivors:  Michael, a company executive who watched an entire High School die within seconds, Emma a medical student who was at home with a cold, and Carl a mechanic that came home to find his wife and child dead.

    The novel follows the three survivors as they find each other and start to prepare how they can go on surviving in a city that in a few weeks will be crawling with disease and pests.  Much to the horror of the survivors their plans are complicated by the fact that the dead, after a few days, have begun to rise and as the dead begin to regain their most basic senses they also start to turn violent.

    I really enjoyed Autumn but when I call the novel bleak I'm not kidding.  It's so depressing you just start to wonder why the survivors don't just go ahead and kill themselves.  Autumn is the first in the series so the open-ended ending didn't bother me too much.  Although almost the entire population drops dead this is not a blood and guts type of thriller it's more a cerebral thriller that keeps you asking the question "what would you do if all your options pretty much sucked?"

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    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    CBR III Review #24-25: Hater Series by David Moody

    CBR III Review #24: Hater by David Moody

    David Moody's book Hater was originally self-published but because of it's success and cult following a larger publisher picked it up. Hater follows Danny McCoyne, an ordinary family man trying to support his wife and three children. However, things start to get a bit alarming when a series of violent outbreaks occur across an unnamed British city. Eventually those who appear to have these violent outburst are coined "Haters" but as this affliction spreads across the city Danny realizes his once previously mundane life is extinct and him and his family must survive in a city surrounded by people who want to kill them.

    The novel occurs in much of the same fashion as a zombie novel would occur - except those who are attacking the "Unchanged" aren't dead and they can still talk and function as humans, they just happen to have an animalistic primal urge to kill everyone who is unlike them. As the novel continues the city rapidly dissolves around Danny and his family. The novel paints a very bleak picture and does a great job of making you grasp how desperate the situation is for the "unchanged".

    I personally love reading stories where the cities crumble and civilizations disintegrate and this book was particularly dark. The only real problem I had with the story is a lack of information on why people were turning into "Haters", but on the other hand if an event like this were truly to occur the public would never receive a honest answers from the powers that be.

    As far as the overall novel is concerned there are parts of it I loved and there parts of it where I felt like the plot was seriously dragging. There were also a few times I wished Danny was a real person so I could hit him in the face. He constantly complains that his kids are exhausting and annoying but how often can you complain about them especially when the apocalypse is occurring outside your front door. Reflecting back on the novel I honestly think that is what the author was aiming for. In every Zombie/Disaster novel all the main characters tend to turn into outstanding heroes, but honestly in real life a lot of people would still float along unsure of what to do and still really annoyed by their children and their lot in life and just bitch until the end comes.

    Product Details

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 328 KB
    • Print Length: 288 pages
    • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1 edition (April 1, 2010)
    • Sold by: Macmillan
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B002EF2AOI
    • Lending: Enabled
    • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews
    CBR III Review #24: Dog Blood by David Moody

    I have no idea how to start this review without spoiling the entire ending to Hater. Dog Blood is the second in the trilogy Hater Series written by David Moody. I'm going to try and keep this as vague as possible for now and maybe in a few months once people who are interested in reading Hater will have completed it.

    Dog Blood takes a different approach from Hater and this time the narrative follows one of the "Haters". It explains how the sudden urge to kill takes over and how the "Haters" feel about what they have become. The novel follows the war between the "Haters" and the "Unchanged" and it's funny what side you see yourself rooting for at different points in the novel, but if I write a sentence more it'll ruin the entire plot to both novels and I really don't want to do that to anyone.

    Product Details

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 405 KB
    • Print Length: 336 pages
    • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)
    • Sold by: Macmillan
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B003JTHZ1Q
    • Lending: Enabled
    • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews
    Just a heads up there is a third book in the series, but I have no idea when it may be released.
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    Friday, January 21, 2011

    CBR III Review #23: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

    CBR III Review #23: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

    I love to read but there are very few books that once I finish I want to start rereading immediately. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is a series of first person accounts that details the world's war against the zombies.  The novel interviews military personnel, survivors, and intelligence officers across the world as they recount the war.  

    Max Brooks when discussing World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War mentioned that he purposely mirrored the book to look like the historical account of Studs Terkel's The Good War.  The interview style of the novel makes the novel truly come alive and it starts to feel a little too realistic, which is a hard task to do when the novel's major enemy is in fact the walking dead.

    Brooks mirrors some of his characters after actual individuals in Government and Entertainment today but without truly delving into the context clues some of them are hard to identify.  

    How would individual countries react to the zombie outbreak? This books examines this question. It also examines how you can fight an enemy that never physically tires or becomes psychologically weaker. It also takes a look at  how those who survive are currently handling their survivors guilt.  My favorite sections of the book were the parts that discussed how far some governments were willing to go to win the zombie war, even if it meant sacrificing  thousand and thousands of survivors to protect some of their military assets.  After reading novels in the zombie genre for the last few weeks I truly feel that Max Brook's War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is truly one of the best novels in the genre.*

    *I'm categorizing The Walking Dead a graphic novel.

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    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    CBR III Review #22 : Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry

    CBR III Review #22 :  Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry

    I keep a running list of the books I just finished reading then when I have some spare time I sit down a write a few reviews for the Cannonball Read.  I had to look this book up on Amazon to make sure I had actually read it. I had.  After rereading the descriptions I realized I had enjoyed this novel, I just forgot about reading it.  In other words it wasn't all that memorable.

    I have an odd habit that when I read a new author or genre that I enjoy I try to read as many books as I can find by the author or on the subject.  At the moment I'm in zombie fiction mode.  Patient Zero was a decent addition to the genre it just didn't stand out.

    Joe Ledger, a police detective for the Baltimore Police department is recruited to work in a special sect of the government that is so secret not even Homeland Security knows it exist. This special sect known as the Department of Military Sciences. Ledger is selected to lead a special team with very impressive military and fighting skills. The first assignment that Ledger and his team receives is to track down a group of terrorist who are planning releasing a bio-weapon that turns people into zombies.  Joe Ledger as a character is immediately likable and I found myself rooting him on, but he is one of the only characters that you get a good grasp on. The book sometimes rambles as it describes all the weapons and fighting tactics used, but I'm a girl   Now a Coach purse that may deserve a paragraph or two but a high grade military weapons usually a line or two of description is usually sufficient.  For the record I was kidding about the Coach purse.  If you enjoy a book with lots of fighting, lots of weapons, and a lots of explosions you will love this book.  If you prefer a book with more character development I would probably pick up something else.

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    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    CBR III Review #21: Torment by: Jeremy Bishop

    Cannonball Read 21: Torment by: Jeremy Bishop

    I hated this book.  Hated. Hated. Hated.  The book started off with a bang.  Governmental conspiracy, nuclear war, zombies!  Honestly when I read the description of the novel I thought I was going to be in love with a new author, but Torment by Jeremy Bishop just left me annoyed.

    The first part of the novel is a whirlwind of activity.  In just a few chapters the world goes from thriving to a post apocalyptic wasteland in matter of minutes.  The survivors are still trying to a grip on everything around them when the realize that those who were caught in the blast are now for a lack of a better word, zombies.  The zombies main purpose appears to be to destroy the few remaining survivors on earth (nothing new here). When the survivors start to run for their life - the book turns into a major pile of crap.  The book drips in religious allegory. It alludes to the fact that the whole reason the world was destroyed was because God was angry and those who are now zombies were bad people who never asked God for forgiveness for their sinful lives.  All the Religious crap quickly destroys a  post apocalypse novel with lots of potential.  I'm not a zombie purist by any means but I prefer my zombies to be cannibalistic.  These zombies were more animated corpses that could not be killed even with the brain destroyed and who constantly apologized for trying to kill the survivors.  Zombies that apologize that is a zombie travesty.

    Also if anyone happens to read this novel and actually understand the ending please let me know what the hell it meant. If you like Zombie or Apocalypse fiction look elsewhere.  If you enjoy religious rants that come out of nowhere and an ending that doesn't make any damn sense then pick this novel up for your next read.

    Product Details

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 568 KB
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B004AYCTH4
    • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews 
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    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    CBR III Review #20: I'd Know You Anywhere: A Novel by Laura Lippman

    CBR III Review #20: I'd Know You Anywhere: A Novel by Laura Lippman

    Eliza Benedict is a woman with a beautiful family and very idyllic life when a letter from a death-row inmate forces her to look once again into her past.  The letter is from Walter Bowman, the man who kidnapped Eliza when she was 15 years old and who kept her hostage for weeks.  He claims he only wants to apologize before he is executed but as the story progresses you learn Walter has an ulterior motive.  The story switches from present to the summer when Eliza was kidnapped.


    Lippman is a skillful writer and you find yourself quickly engaged in Eliza's and Walter's story.  The novel also takes a good look at the Death Penalty and makes you take a look of the issue from both sides. However, I think this story is misrepresented. People categorize it as a mystery or thriller, but It's more of a character study on how one handles tragedy and how it effects those around them even 23 years later.  I expected suspense, mystery, and intrigue when in actuality the novel has very little suspense. Despite the lack of mystery and suspense it was still an interesting read - just not what I expected.

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    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 529 KB
    • Print Length: 384 pages
    • Publisher: Harper Collins, Inc. (August 17, 2010)
    • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B003VIWNOY
    • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews
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    Monday, January 17, 2011

    CBR III Review #19: Casket For Sale (Only Used Once) by Jeff Strand

    CBR III Review #19: Casket For Sale (Only Used Once) by Jeff Strand

    After the events in Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) and Single White Psychopath Seeks Same Andrew Mayhem has made a promise to himself and his wife.  He will become a new man.  He will get a new job, he will not take money from strangers in a coffee shop in exchange for doing strange tasks.  He will do whatever he can do to avoid danger.    

    Of course Andrew has no such luck and he finds himself and his family being pursued through a booby-trapped forest.  The novel follows Andrew as he tried to keep him family intact and his body parts attached. Thankfully Andrew's bad luck is good for us because Casket For Sale (Only used once). Once again brings the humor and the horror to its reader.

    Out of the three Andrew Mayhem novels this is probably my least favorite because the plot just gets more and more ridiculous (and considering his other plots you can imagine how ridiculous Casket for Sale (Only used Once) gets.  However, despite it's insane unbelievability factor the novel is still a funny and grotesque read. From corpses modified to be robot killing machines to Filicide, this novel has a bit of everything.

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    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    CBR III Review #18: Single White Psychopath Seeks Same (Adventures of Andrew Mayhem) by Jeff Strand

    CBR III Review #18: Single White Psychopath Seeks Same (Adventures of Andrew Mayhem)  by Jeff Strand

    Andrew Mayhem, returns in Single White Psychopath Seeks Same, a sequel to Strand's earlier work, Graverobbers Wanted: No Experience Necessary.   This novel comes 18 months after Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) and once again Andrew Mayhem approached in a coffee shop to help someone with a "small" favor in exchange for some money.  Andrew apparently didn't learn his lesson the first time around and once again he finds himself in an impossible situation surrounded by psychopaths. This time the psychopath killers that  have a created a mansion in the Alaska wilderness for the sole purpose of torturing, disfiguring, and murdering helpless prisoners.

    If you enjoyed Graverobbers Wanted: No Experience Necessary then you'll enjoy Single White Psychopath Seeks Same.  It has the same tone and hilarious dialogue all mixed in with a decent amount of blood, gore and sadism. However, if the tongue and cheek type of dialogue is not your type of humor than you will absolutely hate this book.

    Here is a brief excerpt to help one decide if this author is for them:  "Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you just know it's going to be the kind of day where you end up tied to a chair in a filthy garage while a pair of tooth-deprived lunatics torment you with a chainsaw. So as I struggled against the ropes, I can't say I was all that surprised."
    I really enjoy the Andrew Mayhem novels and I hope Jeff Strand keeps them coming in the following years.

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    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    CBR III Review #17: Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) by Jeff Strand

    CBR III Review #17: Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) by Jeff Strand

    Strand's first novel in the Andrew Mayhew series, in my opinion, is a pure gem of dark and grotesque humor at it's best. The novel ranges from incredibly dark to incredibly hilarious all at the same time.

    Andrew Mayhem is a slacker to the millionth degree so when a mysterious stranger offers him $20,000 to procure a key (that just happens to be hidden in her decreased husband's grave) he agrees despite the ethical and legal quandaries it presents.  Unfortunately the husband isn't completely dead and what he hoped was one evening of manual labor turns into a twisted game with a unknown killer, one with a sick, twisted, and "funny" streak of his own.  Soon Andrew is receiving  clues that leads him on a scavenger hunt around town. To complicated matters further his list of available babysitters keeps dwindling and he is forced to bring his children along.

    This book is perfect for a quick read and if you want a good laugh mixed in with your gore and disturbing imagery this book is for you.  The main character, Andrew Mayhem, doesn't always make the right decisions, but you still root for him anyways.

    Where the book may lack in believability it makes up in it's dialogue and snappy repartee.  His writing reminds me a lot of J.A. Konrath but with a bit more sarcasm tossed in.

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    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    CBR III Review #16: Thirst No. 3: The Eternal Dawn by Christopher Pike

    CBR III Review #16: Thirst No. 3: The Eternal Dawn by Christopher Pike

    I love Christopher Pike.  I started reading his books when I was in middle school and I have probably read every book he has ever published 3 or 4 times.  I actually recently went on a mission to collect all his old books because I wanted to re-read them as an adult.  I'm glad I did.  The books are considered Young Adult, but after re-reading them I'm a bit shocked I was ever allowed to read them.  There is enough sex, drugs, and nudity to challenge some of the racier novels I use to read in college (everyone is allowed a few guilty pleasures). While I was going through some of his older novels I found out that he had released a new novel Thirst No. 3: The Eternal Dawn.  I was ecstatic.  This novel is a continuation of the Last Vampire series that he wrote, which in my opinion is the best Vampire series out there.  The first six novels int he vampire series were written over 15 years ago.  The sixth novel in the series was a definite ending but Christoper Pike has gotten around that and renewed the series. Christopher Pike may have decided to start the series back up because of the huge surge of vampire popularity or maybe he just decided he wanted to return to writing, in either case I'm glad that he did.

    The novel, like it's predecessors, follows Alisa aka Sita a five thousand year old vampire.  Alisa once again finds herself alone in the world and her loneliness draws her to make contact  with her only living descendant from her human life, a college student named Teri.  However, because of those who have become aware of what Alisa is the two of them find themselves in great danger.

    For those of you who are worried that Pike has lost his touch, don't worry he has not.  It's amazing how easy it is to get back into a story that I originally read 15 years ago. I forgot how much I loved the character of Alisa/Sita and the vampire mythology. Pike tends to lean heavily on Indian Religion, and while I find it fascinating, a lot of people may find it distracting or odd.  I wouldn't recommend this novel to a Pike newcomer but if you read him as a child and loved him then  I would pick up Thirst No. 3: The Eternal Dawn for a wonderful dose of nostalgia.

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    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    CBR III Review #10-15: Jack Daniels Series by J.A. Konrath

    Just a heads up these reviews are short. The Entire Jack Daniel Series reads very similarly and looking back it's hard to distinguish what happened in each novel, but they are all very entertaining novels.  However, one probably shouldn't read them all in a row.

    CBR III Review #10: Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath

    Jacqueline Daniels (yes she is known as Jack Daniels) is a homicide detective in the Chicago Police Department. Jack is a 46 year old divorced woman who carries her share of baggage. She is an insomniac who tries her best to have a life but often fails because she gets caught up in a case.  The case that surrounds Whiskey Sour is the Gingerbread Man Killer, as in You can't catch me I'm in the Gingerbread Man".  I know it sounds horrific but Konrath does a decent job of making sure the killer comes across more twisted than corny.

    A lot of mystery novels read like watching a CSI show.  It is very formulaic and there is a consistent lack of character development.  The Jack Daniel series doesn't offer much more that is different, but J.A. Konrath has a wicked sense of humor and it makes the books fun to read.  Whiskey Sour would be one in a million mystery/crime fiction novels if it didn't have the humor as a strong backbone for the novel. However, the dialogue can sometimes come across as too witty. It almost has a Joss Whedon ring to it.

    One of the best descriptions for this novel I ran across was, "Suspense, with humor, and just a dash of gratuitous violence."

    CBR III Review #11: Bloody Mary by J.A. Konrath

    When two arms (just the arms) show up in one of Chicago's morgue many questions are asked.  When it turns up the handcuffs that joined the two arms belong to Chicago's homicide  Det. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels more questions unsurprisingly spring up.  One of my favorite complaints I've read about the novel is the overabundance of gore.  Personally, if I'm reading a fairly predicable mystery novel the more gore the better!  I've read some of J.A. Konrath other novels and trust me the gore in this novel is nothing compared to some of his others.  Bloody Mary, much like it predecessor Whiskey Sour has tons of witty remarks and humor to keep the novel going even with the mediocre mystery.

    Part of the novel deals with Jack Daniel's personal life which include: her boyfriend Latham, the reappearance of her ex husband, her ailing mother who refuses to accept the limitations that come with age, and her partner who appears to be going through a midlife crisis.

    There are some great twist in the novel and it kept it from feeling too predictable, but it's really once again J.A. Konrath's humor that saves the novel.

    CBR III Review #12: Rusty Nail by J.A. Konrath

    This was my favorite of the Jack Daniel's series.  It's J.A. Konrath's third novel in the series and like the first two Whiskey Sour and Bloody Mary this novel offers violent thrills, gruesome gore, and some wonderful one-liners and sarcastic dialogue.

    Det. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels receives an anonymous snuff film and it looks like it can only be the work of the notorious, and very dead, Gingerbread Man.  Her hunt for the supposed copycat answers the question: "What kind of family does a depraved serial killer come from?".  It turns out in this case the apple didn't fall too far from the tree. The level of depravity that is uncovered makes me wonder a bit about Konrath's own sanity.




    CBR III Review #13: Dirty Martini by by J.A. Konrath

    Biological terrorism is the set up for Konrath's fourth novel that follows Chicago's homicide Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels.  A terrorist and extortionist is spreading botulism across the city and 30 people have all ready died.  The homicide department is brought in to capture the terrorist while the city debates if they are willing to negotiate with an extortionist who wants $2 Million to stop spreading the deadly toxin.

    Between chasing down a terrorist and trying to keep the City of Chicago calm she has to deal with the fact that her boyfriend has proposed. To complicate matters even more she finds out her long-deceased father isn't all that dead after all.

    At this point either you really enjoy Konrath's sense of humor and writing style or you hate it.

    CBR III Review #14: Fuzzy Navel by J.A. Konrath

    Lieutenant Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels from the Chicago Police Department is in a fairly steady point in her life, until a group of vigilantes decide she may have seen too much and they decide to take her and her loved ones out of the picture.  Things go from bad to worse when a criminal from her past shows up hell bent on revenge. How can Jack navigate both threats and keep herself and everyone she loves unscathed?

    This novel is unique because the storyline takes place in a small 8 hour window, but you wont be disappointed because it pacts in the action and emotion.  However, I will warn you that this novel feels the most cartoonish out of the bunch and often times I had a hard time following who was shooting at who and why.  This wasn't my favorite novel of the series but it kept me entertained.




    CBR III Review #15: Cherry Bomb by J.A. Konrath

    If you made it to the end of Fuzzy Navel by J.A. Konrath it's pretty much an obligation to read his newest addition to he Jack Daniel series.  There isn't much I can say about this novel without giving out the ending to Konrath's previous installment.

    I can say this novel may have the highest body count of his Jack Daniel novels and the deaths are anything but routine and boring.  I will put out a warning to those who have masculine body parts, because there is a scene that even made me cringe.  This novel was darker than the others in the series, but it wasn't without Konrath's signature sarcasm.
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    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    CBR III Review #9: The Immortals by J.T. Ellison

    CBR III Review #9: The Immortals by J.T. Ellison

    This novel is 5th in the Taylor Jackson series by J.T. Ellison and while it does a decent job of being a stand alone mystery I would really suggest reading her previous novels:  All the Pretty Girls, 14, Judas Kiss, and The Cold Room.  This makes sure that you have all the necessary back story to make the novel more enjoyable.

    Halloween Night (or Samhain, the Blood Harvest) 8 Nashville teenagers are found dead, their dead bodies mutilated with occult symbols.  Detective Taylor Jackson finds herself and her newly reassembled team on the case.  Jackson and her team must dig into the occult and separate myth from fiction to help solve the case.  Ellison did a wonderful job researching the occult and goth life style and really brought it to life without making those who partake in the lifestyle come across as cartoons or villains.

    Meanwhile in DC, Taylor Jackson's fiance Special Agent John Baldwin has been summoned to DC to testify in front of a committee about  a previous case that had a deadly outcome.  New evidence has come to light and that may cost Baldwin his job.

    J.T. Ellison isn't redefining the thriller genre, but The Immortals is a decent addition.It's a gripping novel with two well written story lines and a well researched plot.

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    Monday, January 10, 2011

    CBR III Review #8: Feed by Mira Grant

    CBR III Review #8: Feed by Mira Grant

    It's the year 2039 and 25 years ago a virus was introduced to the population that caused animals and humans to reanimate after death, and sometimes animals and humans catch the virus spontaneously.  The virus, named Kellis-Amberlee, has the normal zombification qualities that the reader will be use to, IE a taste for human flesh.
    Twenty-Five years ago when the virus hit, the majority of people started to distrust established media outlets due to the fact that they were a major source of disinformation and outright lies to help calm the public and keep them in the dark to the dangers of the Kellis-Amberlee virus. Due to this distrust bloggers have become the new and upcoming trusted media source in 2039. Feed follows a blogging team who has been invited to follow a presidential candidate on the campaign trail. The reader gets an inside view of the way politics and a society runs after a zombie apocalypse.  Unfortunately, for the blogging team a terrorist has targeted this presidential candidate, and this terrorist has decided to weaponize Kellis-Amberlee.  The bloggers report on the attacks and decide to stay on the campaign trail even though their lives are now in danger.

    The science level explanations for the virus is amazingly well done.  Grant made the possibility of a viral outbreak that actually creates zombies seem very real. I also really enjoyed the details given about the character's living conditions and the new technology and how one goes about surviving in a nation filled with zombies and what freedoms people are willing to give up to stay alive.
    I do have a few complaints, the author spends a lot of time rehashing certain aspects of the novel and it gets tiring.  The "big bad" of the novel is also more of a cartoon  than a believable character, but overall I really enjoyed the novel.  It's no World War Z, but as far as the zombie genre I think it adds a decent amount of humor and terror.  Apparently two other novels are planned for this series and if you do read this novel you will be just as curious I am as to how the author plans on continuing the series.

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    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    CBR III Review #7: Dweller by Jeff Strand

    CBR III Review #7: Dweller by Jeff Strand

    Jeff Strand returns to literature with a novel titled Dweller. After reading one of his first novels Pressure I was really looking for this to novel, but it Dweller wasn't 100% my thing, but I did enjoy it. An outcast, a young boy named Toby likes to roam around the woods. One day he stumbles upon an animal that could only be accurately be described as a monster. The book then spans a 60 year old friendship between the two outcasts. The novel is listed as a horror novel, but it's a more of young coming of age novel, but instead of a dog for a best friend the main character befriends a monster. A monster that every once in a while likes to eat people. However, the few times that the monster does dine on human flesh whose fault is it really? A question that leads to a more important question, who really is the monster in this story?

    I did find that authors sick sense of humor managed to come across, even more so than in his novel Pressure. The book is touching and emotional but if you are going into this book expecting pure unadulterated terror you will be disappointed, but if you want to read a novel about a boy and his best friend Owen (who just happens to be a monster) I think you'll find the novel delivers.
    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 394 KB
    • Print Length: 292 pages
    • Publisher: Leisure (March 30, 2010)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B003FS0KK4
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews
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    Friday, January 7, 2011

    CBR III Review #6: The Walk by Lee Goldberg

    CBR III Review #6: The Walk by Lee Goldberg

    The Walk by Lee Goldberg is a novel that I put in the category Apocalypse Fiction. The novel starts with "the big one" hitting California and one man's desperate journey home. The Walk is based in Los Angeles and the freeways are destroyed, buildings have toppled everywhere. The main character, Marty Slack, tries to ignore the chaos around him and get home, where he hopes his wife Becky is waiting.

    The novel The Walk is an odd one. Apocalypse Fiction is suppose to be depressing as hell, but this was more humorous than horrific. Granted the author doesn't skirt away from the death and destruction but it's dealt with in such a light handed fashion it's hard to take the novel too seriously.

    Marty Slack encounters the same crises of conscience over and over again on the way home: Should he risk his own life to save others that are in danger around him? The answer to this question is no shocker. For some reason the novel feels the need to put in a major twist at the end, which just came off as lame.

    Interesting enough Lee Goldberg is more popular for writing novels based on the Monk series. I truly think he has a possible future in writing novels not based on mediocre television, but his strengths are more in humor than horror/suspense novels.
    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 311 KB
    • Print Length: 235 pages
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Publisher: Five Star (May 31, 2009)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B002BSHHTQ
    • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews
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    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    CBR III Review #5: Serial by Blake Crouch and Jack Kilborn

    CBR III Review #5:  Serial by Blake Crouch and Jack Kilborn

    I personally love it when two authors I respect come together on a collaborative work. Blake Crouch and Jack Kilborn come together in the novel Serial.  The novel is a story of hitchhiking at it most terrifying.  Everyone knows that hitchhiking is dangerous, but this novel follows what happens when one truly depraved person picks up another truly depraved human being.  The novel was written in an odd fashion with Kilborn writing the first part and Crouch writing the second with the two of them finishing it over email with 100 - word exchanges without reading what the other person had opened with.  Trust me it makes sense if you ever read it.
    The Novel Serial is alot like if Dexter met Dexter but neither one of them had a moral code.  I really enjoyed the novel I just wished it had been longer.  Maybe I'm a little twisted but I would have preferred to at least be rooting for one serial killer over the other.  The characterization is minimal but if you want to have a few disturbing images seared in your mind before bed time this book will deliver.  Hopefully Crouch and Kilborne will attempt a project like this again soon but aim for a full sized novel.  I wish there was more to review but with a story so short and to the point all you need to decide is if you have 2 extra bucks and free hour.

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 259 KB
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B003CFB4DW
    • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews
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    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    CBR III Review #4: Pressure by Jeff Strand

    CBR III Review #4:  Pressure by Jeff Strand

    Pressure by Jeff Strand may have been the best $2.39 I had ever spent.  I actually felt like I owed the author money. You can purchase the novel herePressure has a simple enough premise - what is a psychopath like when he is younger and what happens to him as he grows up, and how would someone handle being friends with him?  Alex Fletcher is shipped off to Branford Academy, a boarding school for kids who need a bit more discipline.  One of Alex's new roommates is a bit off but as the book progresses you realize just how "off" he is.

    The first chapter had me hooked and I immediately purchased from Amazon to continue.  The first part of the book slows down a bit as it establishes the characters but by the time Alex goes off to college I was unable to put the book down.  I highly respect an author that can keep me guessing and I honestly had no idea what was going to happen next as I read on. The book is more than depressing at times, but I enjoy a novel that embraces the darkness of the horror novel instead of trying to wrap everything up perfectly.

    Honestly this is not an easy book to review because everything after the few chapters could be considered a major spoiler - so this one you will have to read for yourself and decide.

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 381 KB
    • Print Length: 323 pages
    • Publisher: Leisure; Original edition (May 5, 2009)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B003LN2A3S
    • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews
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    CBR III Review #3: Desert Places: A Novel of Terror by Blake Crouch

    CBR III Review #3: Desert Places: A Novel of Terror by Blake Crouch


    I'm loving the $2.99 price point on Amazon.  It has introduced me to several great authors. Desert Places: A Novel of Terror by Blake Crouch can be purchased here for anyone that is interested.  I stumbled across Blake Crouch because he appears to be friends with Jake Kilborn.

    Novelist Andrew Thomas is enjoying a peaceful night at his home in Western North Carolina when he receives a letter stating their is a body on his property covered in Andrew's blood.  He must do everything that the letter instructs or the police will be notified about the incriminating body.  The novel takes off from there and the instructions Andrew most later follows put him and those he loves in great danger.

    Desert Places is the typical cat and mouse game, but this being Blake Crouch's first novel you can see where a future horror novelist is emerging.  It does ask a few unique questions.  For example, would you turn in a killer if the evidence was most likely going to lead to your own incarceration?  I definitely plan on giving Blake Crouch another shot because the novel showed lots of promise and for $2.99 I could have done a lot worse.

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 482 KB
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00452V71A
    • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 
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    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    CBR III Review #2: Trapped by Jack Kilborn

    CBR III Review #2: Trapped by Jack Kilborn

    I decided to pick up another novel by Jack Kilborn (aka J.A. Konrath).  I have a bad habit once I start on a author if I enjoy their novel I have to read the majority of everything he or she has written.  Trapped I found on Amazon and the kindle novel was once again only $2.99.  I love an author that realizes they should embrace the new eBook instead of trying to charge more for a Kindle edition then the new release hardcover cost.  I'm looking at you James Patterson (who incidentally hasn't written anything worthy of a hardcover release in the last 10 years).
     
    For clarifications purchases the Amazon purchase of this novel includes two copies of the novel.  The first version has been edited down and the second version is his uncut version of the novel.  I've read the first version.  I plan on reading the second version as soon as I clear up some novels on my nightstand (well my virtual nightstand).  I am slightly apprehensive about reading his second version of the novel, it apparently has more gore.  
    Here is the Amazon summation of the novel:

    "It was supposed to be a harmless camping trip. Six wayward teenagers who'd run into trouble with the law, and their court-appointed guardians, Sara and Martin Randhurst. Three nights on a small, deserted island off of Michigan's upper peninsula. A time to bond, to learn, to heal. Then Martin told a campfire story about the island's history. Of the old civil war prison hidden in there, and the starving confederate soldiers who resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. Everyone thought it was funny. They even laughed when Martin pretended to be dragged off into the woods. But Martin didn't come back. And neither did Sara when she went in search of him. Then the laughter stopped....TO DEATH. The group soon began to realize that this deserted island wasn't so deserted after all. And perhaps Martin's ridiculous story had more truth to it than anyone thought. What's the most horrifying thing you can imagine? This is a hundred times worse...TRAPPED by Jack Kilborn. It starts where other horror end."

    First of all who writes these summaries? "The Laughter stopped....TO DEATH" what does that even mean? I've read the novel and that sentences still makes no sense to me.  The description of the novel sucks but in all honestly I loved this novel.  It scared the crap out of me and more than once the gore in the novel made me nauseous.  I've been reading horror novels since I was in 5th grade there has never been a book that has made me nauseous due to graphic content, until now.

    I do have one point of contention with the novel Trapped.  Jack Kilborn's characters, with the exception of one or two, come across as one note and static.  Trapped really does read like a horror movie, with a bunch of a seemingly similar characters who the audience never relates too.

    Trapped has a few twist and turns that will keep you entertained and one twist you wont seem coming, and it doesn't feel like M. Nigh Shyamalan dropped in to rewrite the novel for the purpose of the twist. Trapped is by no means the next great American novel but if you like a decent horror book without having to read more than 1500 pages to just learn all they had to do was beg the aliens to remove the dome,(and if you want to challenge your stomach strength) I recommend picking it up.

    Product Details:
    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 776 KB
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B003TFESNS
    • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
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    Monday, January 3, 2011

    CBR III Review #1: Endurance by Jack Kilborn

    CBR III Review #1: Endurance (A Novel of Terror) by Jack Kilborn

    I'll read pretty much anything and how I choose my newest authors to check out simply comes down to the fact on who pops up on my recommended book section on Amazon and who has a cheap kindle novel I check out.

    I decided to give Jack Kilborn (aka J. A. Konrath a try for the simple fact that his newest kindle novel on Amazon was listed at $2.99.  Click here to check it out.  I was also intrigued because in the description of the novel the author stated that it had been scheduled to be released in paperback in 2010 but the publisher refused to release it.  Now this can mean the book is as he promises "a disturbing, terrifying book" or it sucks and the publisher didn't want to the public to suffer through it.

    The official amazon description of the novel is as follows "The bed and breakfast [Rushmore] was hidden in the hills of West Virginia. Wary guests wondered how it could stay in business at such a creepy, remote location. Especially with its bizarre, presidential decor and eccentric proprietor."

    The novel held up to it's promise of being disturbing. The bed and breakfast was built on the premises of spying on and kidnapping guest.  The building has many secret tunnels and ways for the owners of the hotel to keep an eye on their guest.  The premises of the novel was the creepiest part.  It starts with a young woman named Maria checking into the Rushmore due to the fact her hotel was overbooked.  In the first few pages the novel messes with your head.  Did she move her suitcase?  What happened to the cell phone she placed on the night stand? Is that creaking under the bed?

    Fast forward a year later and due to major triathlon in the area all area hotels are booked and they send the overflow to the Rushmore.  The novel then follows seven characters as they slowly realize the depths of insanity that surround the Rushmore.

    I was more entertained by the premise of the actual novel because now whenever I check into a small hotel I'll be checking the bathroom and under the bed for trap doors, but once the realization of why the hotel propertiers are kidnapping guest comes out the novel takes a turn for the absurd. The novel starts out like the movie Vacancy then does a U-turn and ends up like the movie Wrong Turn, neither of which are the best that cinema has to offer.  It's an odd book and Jack Kilborn has a sick sense of humor that he likes to weave into his novels.  In my opinion for $2.99 it's not a bad purchase.  I just wouldn't recommend reading the novel while out of town.
    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 442 KB
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B003STD7BO
    • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  

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    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Canonball Read 2011 aka CBR III

    I had to start a blog so I could sign up for the Cannonball Read aka CBR III Review contest over at Pajibia.  The goal is 52 books and 52 reviews in one year.  The contest begins January 1st, 2011. My personal goal is 100 books read and 80 reviewed by Christmas 2011.  Wish me luck!

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