On the nightstand

Book Blog

November 12, 2017

Utah Blaine (Review)

amilies have dark secrets. My sister likes romance novels. Me, I love an occasional Louis L’Amour western. It’s all wide open spaces and honest heroes who have to fight against massed opposition for the sake of good and right (rather like my own life, seems to me). L’Amour can hold an audience; that’s been proven around the world. So the hero with his cool name, Utah Blaine, is on the run after springing himself from a Mexican jail (for attempting to help a revolution). He’s moving north, back into the states, on foot, without a gun. Then one night he […]
October 29, 2017

Stone Lake (Review)

tone Lake was an odd book sent to me by a friend (you want to challenge me, Boy? Think you can send me books and not get ones in return? Well, we’ll see about that). When I first got it, I frowned at the cover, frowned at the back, and thought “Why is this guy sending me chick-lit?” So Jon (See, chick-lit) is a dude who lost his company to his shitty best friend. Most of his time is spent working for free. Most of his money goes to his blubbery lazy mom. He’s divorced – and his ex hooked […]
October 22, 2017

Pygmy (Review)

ll the Cedar family knows is that they have, at the urging of their church, adapted a young boy from a third world country, one that they wish to share the blessings of American culture and consumption with. This family is pretty screwed up, with the son a moraless turd and the daughter sniffing solder fumes, mom burning every battery in the house in her vibrator and dad just oblivious to it all. They’ve even renamed him “Pygmy” without the slightest thought or hesitation. All Agent Number 67 knows is that he’s succeeded in being imbedded (along with several fellow […]
October 16, 2017

He gave me Barn Cats (Review)

met Maria Santomasso-Hyde in her art gallery in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful art, all sorts of country paintings. But then we got to talking. We’re both writers. We’ve both lost cats. Then she mentioned she had a book she was selling off a stack to one side, an autobiographical work she’s put together. Of course, I almost always buy such things – you gotta help those as hungry as you, right? Maria’s deal is that she’s very Christian and very loving, so when she went through a year where she lost nine loved ones (her mom, her loyal dog, […]
October 8, 2017

How to be happy (Review)

o, I didn’t get this because I was depressed about my cat’s passing (well, maybe a little). Titled as above, and subtitled as Not a Self-Help Book, Seriously), it intrigued me. The cover shows a hand holding a wick of sorts, which turns out to be the light (we find) that surgeons on night-shrouded battlefields and inside shot-ravaged frigates used to illuminate their patients. It’s a desperate form of healing illumination – fitting. So inside this curious book, we see a dedication to a bunch of people “but not Sandra”, and the statement (which I love) – “On day, if […]
October 1, 2017

Alive Day (Review)

his was our drive-home cut from the aforementioned Four Summoner’s Tales, an interesting piece about a strange special ops group, kinda a combination of Seal Team Six and Ghostbusters. It was a good closeout to the set. This is an existing character from an existing series, but that’s okay – you can pick up the characters pretty quick in this novella. The writing is that Hooyah style, all weapon descriptions and “bad guys” and buff, haunted yet caring heroes (not that there is anything wrong with that). The author carries it well – it’s authentic and enjoyable. Kick ass! Turns […]
September 24, 2017

A Bad Season for Necromancy (Review)

ach of the stories of the Four Summoner’s Tales gets better than the proceeding one, just wilder and more edgy. First we had the story about the frontier Canadian town where children lost to a sickness could be brought back to life, but at an awful cost. Then we had the one about the Texas rancher, part of a community raided by the cartel, who could get his daughter back but only if she was used as part of a literal army of the dead, thrown against the cartel’s headquarters just over in Mexico. And now, it’s this one. Strange, […]
September 17, 2017

Pipers (Review)

nother one from the collection Four Summoner’s Tales, the second of the set. You’ll remember my review of the first one of this group, Suffer the Children, and how I thought that was going to be pretty much the sorts of stories we were going to go through in this necromancy collection (people of the past raising their dead out of Salem graveyards or the like). Well, Pipers blew that assumption out of the water. So in this novella, Zeke is a practical rancher down in a Texas border town. He lost his wife years back and so his world […]
September 10, 2017

Moonfleet (Review)

often root for old books. I want them to be good, even better than novels of the current day, just to throw something in the face of people who assume that people of the past were simplistic clods who suffered because they didn’t have access to the likes of Clive Cussler. And now I’m delighted that I found an old book of 1898 vintage, Moonfleet, that tops everything. No, it’s not a book about spaceships. Moonfleet is a story of youth along the southern coast of England, of 1757, of smugglers slipping in past the watch, of barrels unloaded on […]
September 3, 2017

Suffer the Children (Review)

his is the first review from the Four Summoner’s Tales collective, which is an audio book we brought with us on our long vacation drive. In a nutshell, it’s four novellas that follow a loose format – the tales have to involve a stranger who can raise the dead. We’ve got three of the four down and are looking forward to taking on the last one for the drive back. Since these are novellas (i.e. spacious tales with far more legroom than mere short stories) I’ll review each in turn. And in an advanced rating, I’m going to tell you […]