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Saturday, February 18, 2017

PUSH Review




Jared Garrett is now one of my new favorite authors. He wrote a book called PUSH, which is the second of his series, which starts with BEAT (although there is a side story called Keepers that fits somewhere between BEAT and PUSH). I haven't read his other books yet, but I just bought them. I want to know how this story started.

Push flies by like a post apocalyptic comet, scattering rubble everywhere, causing calamities in its wake. Nik Granjer and his band of rebel outcasts spend the entire book running from impending doom. Somehow Nik, who seems to be around sixteen or so, is thrust into the role of de facto president, leading his raggle-taggle band to some kind of safety. 

Only there isn't any.

The monster, Adam Holland, has obliterated most of the non-compliant people in the world with a disease they call the Bug. He's after Nik and his keeper (gun) toting teens to end their trouble-making days. He sends the Ranjers out to round up families and friends, kidnapping and holding some for ransom, killing others indiscriminately. Holland's aim seems to be complete annihilation of the free-thinking human race in order to sweep the planet in preparation for his new breed of superhuman to take over.

Nik has to grow up at light speed, charged with making life or death decisions for all of the survivors. For some reason, he doesn't want to comply with Adam the freak. In fact, Nik is pretty torked that the Ranjers have taken his parents in order to keep him away from Holland. Unfortunately for the megalomaniac, he badly misreads the boy. Nik and his unit race to get ahead of the oncoming avalanche of superhuman cyborgs, (or whatever they are) staying only a toenail's length ahead of terrible doom.

None of this is easy. Nik and his people are damaged, hungry, exhausted, and mad as heck. Did I mention damaged? We're talking sieves here. But what's a guy to do when the lives of humankind are resting in his shaking, bloody hands? And it's not even that easy. He has to stop and prioritize. And those priorities rot.

This book has no sex or swearing (except the made-up kind). It does have lots of violence, sucking chest wounds, flying bullets, explosions, clones, newfangled gadgets, action, cyborgs, and a great setting. I love how Garrett has worked to imagine how San Francisco would look in 120 years, after a huge earthquake drops the elevation enough to flood the city during every high tide. It never fails to amaze me how fast roads can deteriorate, even now.

This book is believable. People actually get hurt and have to work around their wounds. Bad things happen to them that can't be fixed by some amazing band-aide fix that suddenly shows up right when they need it. Nothing works when it's supposed to. I love it.

In fact, I stayed up until two am trying to find out if they killed the bad guy or just one of his clones. I still don't know for certain.

Since it's part of a series and I was coming in in the middle of it, I would have liked a couple of clues at first that let me know what the Bug is, why Adam Holland is such a freak, and why Nik Granjer is the hinge on which the whole human race swings.

So now my only choice is to get the other books and fill in the empty spaces in the story.

My take on this? Five grenades out of five.
You can get PUSH at Amazon.
Thank you, Jared, for a fast, though bumpy, ride.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Val-n-Fork-tines

So I went to the store the other day in search of a Valentines gift my husband wouldn't punt through the back door into the waiting jaws of the dog. Since our anniversary is on Groundhog Day I try to find things at roughly the same time. You'd think it would be easy.

Women are easy. You give her a box of chocolates, maybe some roses or any other plants living or dead (except maybe poison ivy or skunk cabbage), maybe a sweet romantic movie or book or music and she's good.

In fact, she'll love you to bits if you just treat her like a queen and acknowledge the fact that she's your whole world.  She'll rock your world if you show her how much she means to you. I know. I'm a woman.


But it seems to me that Valentines Day is mostly made for WOMEN. "Why is this?" you ask. It's supposed to be all about LOVE. Or so 'they' say. "They" are trying to push all kinds of heart-shaped, fuzzy, cinnamon-scented crap as stuff you'd give your significant other. Yeah. Let's just get him an enormous stuffed animal that will take up all the space in his room otherwise needed for oxygen and comics. As a boyfriend, he'll have the perfect thing to tear the head off of when your relationship goes sour.

Most of that stuff they would punt as soon as your back is turned. Have you actually seen any guy keep a stuffed animal on his bed? Ever? Or lacy heart-shaped pillows stuffed with potpourri? I didn't think so. And there are only so many heart-embossed mugs and smelly candles they'll stand for. He still has music you bought him five years ago for Christmas with the plastic wrap intact on it.

I don't want to give him something that'll encourage him to spend even less time with me. It's counterproductive and against everything Valentines Day actually stands for. That gets rid of computer games, Magic cards, and D&D paraphernalia.  

And movies? Don't even get me started. Most men call anything that doesn't explode or feature tanks, guns, cars, sports, or scantily clad women a chick flick. The closest you can come to a touchy feely love movie is one where the guy just got blown to Kingdom Come and the scantily clad chickie comes and kisses him. So that pretty much leaves every movie with the least loving message out in a blizzard.

So what the heck do you buy a guy for Valentines that he actually wants? 

@>-->-----Tools? 'Cause a new drill so says "I love you, my Sweetheart."
@>-->-----Sweats and a gym membership? Because you love him so much that you want him to be super healthy? See the above retort.
@>-->-----A new set of sleepwear (preferably with hearts)? Because his holes have holes? Meh. Maybe.
@>-->-----A new watch band to replace the one he keeps breaking? Meh.
@>-->-----Fudge? 'Cause you don't want him to be too healthy? That's a possibility unless you still have a pound of it in the freezer from Christmas.
@>-->-----Movie tickets (or sports you can also stand to watch) and an Olive Garden card in hopes he'll share it with you? A little self-serving and sets a bad precedent. What's to then stop him from giving YOU the new drill?
@>-->-----More computer hardware? Not until he gets rid of the other computer crud from your bedroom, bathroom, hallway, kitchen, shed, kids' rooms--in fact every other freaking room in the house. NOPE. Hard pass.
@>-->-----A set of tubs to put his junk in that is cluttering up your bedroom? Right. He'll use them less than you do.
@>-->-----A book? He doesn't even read the ones you've gotten him for the last several Christmases.
@>-->-----How about food? They'd actually like to eat that cinnamon roll more than a candle that just smells like it and reminds him he's hungry all the time. So that's a possibility.
@>-->-----Probably not paint ball gear...'cause he'll shoot you with it.
@>-->-----Pass on the new puppy. Probably. Unless he's really adorable. And intelligent enough to train quickly not to pee on your floor. It's a whole other box of dog doo-doo.
@>-->-----A new truck? Not unless you're independently wealthy--which I'm not. 
@>-->-----Do you settle for socks or a tie? Probably. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

So, hey. If you can think of better options, PLEASE fill up the comment box. I'm open for good suggestions.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

MORONI'S PROMISE Review


 It's been a while since I posted because I've been sick for around two months. I don't wish what I had on anybody.

So today I'd like to review a book called MORONI'S PROMISE by Kristoffer Neff. At first I was ready to put down the book because I'm not really into books about gangs. But I'm really glad I didn't.

This is a well-written, thought-provoking read full of adventure and time-travel in the vein of Chris Heimerdinger's Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites books. The characters were well drawn and believable. The story gripping. I ended up really enjoying the book deep into the night.

So this is the deal:
Moroni (Ronnie) Clah, a Navajo teen, has just lost first his parents to an accident, and then his sister to gang violence, leaving him without any family. Ronnie joins a gang in order to kill the man who killed his sister. The members insist he go through with killing the man, while Ronnie has some reservations. His choices lead him to run from the gang.

Due to some strange events, Ronnie finds himself transported into the 360 AD American wilderness. He is rescued by a man calling himself Zelph, who takes him back to his cliff dwelling and family. At first Ronnie has a difficult time trying to keep up, being a typical modern city-dwelling teen. He works hard to harden himself into a productive member of the cliff-dwelling society.

Unfortunately his stay is cut short when a band of vicious Lamanites comes to kill Zelph and his family. Ronnie has to choose between his own urges and Zelph's kinder, more honorable way of living. The family flee for their lives, leaving one member behind to give them a chance to escape. At every turn there are choices that define Ronnie's whole life.

 I give this book 4 3/4 Liahonas out of 5. Here is where you can pick up this book from Amazon. 
Here's where you can pick it up from Deseret Book.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cassandry's Ball

Charlotte and her wonderful Mr. Harris are so excited. They are going to Lyonstoke to keep Christmas with Lady Cassandry and her Gerolt and Anthony. Again they shall travel through time to a castle hall.

They finish dressing each in their respective times, and out they slip to the summerhouse. The moon glows golden as a galleon on the crest of a wave of stars. They feel the pull of the summerhouse as it works its mysterious magic.

Lord Gerolt has left beautifully caparisoned horses for them when they arrive. The snow is deep, with a crunchy shell of ice. It sparkles in the sun like a myriad of diamonds, for they have arrived early.

They clatter over the bridge and into the yard of the castle, which stands perched on a hill, it's walls stretching upward into the winter sun. They are met by Gerolt's men, who take their cloaks and usher them into the hall. Such rich scents of roasting meat and greenery boughs and boughs of mistletoe and holly greet their noses.

Cassandry comes to greet Charlotte, curious about her strange manner of dressing. The two are much of a kind, however, and they go off chattering, leaving Mr. Harris and Gerolt and Anthony together.

When the ladies return, Charlotte is gowned in a burgundy gown of velvet, lovely as a ruby to Mr. Harris. He feels so blessed to have acquired such a gem. Cassandry invites them both to sit at high table, just below the salt. They share a trencher and marvel at the delectable repast.

Mummers and jugglers perform throughout the meal, beguiling in their feats of derring-do. After the feast is past, the musicians arrive and strike up. It is most felicitous that Charlotte and her Mr. Harris have taken pains to learn dance steps from the period.

The candles flicker as a slight breeze flutters the rich tapestries. Charlotte cannot contain her longing to actually touch Mr. Harris' hands and feel his arms about her.

Cassandry dances with Anthony and Gerolt, both. Charlotte watches for a moment before she discovers their secret--something Cassandry and her friends may not even know themselves.

You may join the celebration here. Don't forget to click on the clip and let it pull you back to Cassandry's time as Charlotte and Jack were.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Francesca's Ball

Charlotte and Jack are so excited. Tonight they'll attend a ball at Stirling Hall. Mr. Daniel Stirling will be their host. Charlotte has heart whispers that Mr. Stirling may propose marriage tonight to the stunning bluestocking, Miss Francesca Kennington.

With gleeful anticipation, Charlotte dresses in her new white velvet, very cozy for a Christmas ball. Mr. Harris puts the finishing touches on his tux, very dapper for a twenty first century man. He has never danced so much in his life, but he enjoys it immensely, even though he cannot in actuality touch his sweet Charlotte. He hopes he won't alarm the other guests by appearing as a phantasm. 


Miss Pennington and her beau arrive fashionably late, pulling up just as the orchestra strikes up its second set. The moon sails from the silver-edged clouds just as Charlotte is handed down by a very attentive footman. Mr. Harris comes around and places his hand at the small of her back, with a touch too light to be felt. Charlotte's smile lights the evening sky. Her sweetheart is still learning to be a proper nineteenth century gentleman and hopes not to slip.

Their wraps are taken and the couple pause at two ornately carved doors.  

"Do you know how very stunning you are tonight, Miss Pennington?"

"My goodness, Mr. Harris. You have swept me quite off my feet."

"That's the idea. Observation the second, have you noticed how closely your last name matches that of Miss Kennington?"

"T'is strange, however I have heard that Miss Kennington is a wonderful sort of person and I shall love to be acquainted with her."

"I have eyes for only one person tonight, and it is not her."

"A very good thing, as you might be obliged to fight Mr. Stirling, and I cannot think that would end well."

Jack makes a muscle. "What? You don't think I'd come off the winner?"

Charlotte is just taking his arm with a smirk when the doors open.

Stirling Hall is alight with thousands of sputtering candles. The lofty ceilings are picked out in scenes from Diana's Hunt. Gilt candelabras dot the edges, around which fluttering matrons gather to chatter about their offspring. The set is already underway, so they make their way to the host, who is alone.
 Charlotte makes her curtsy and Jack pulls off a serviceable bow. 

Jack smiles and offers his hand. "We met at the last ball," he says. Charlotte gives him a tiny shake of her head, but he blunders on. "You were speaking of hunting grouse, I believe."

"Ah yes. We have not had the singular pleasure of your company at any hunts as of yet." Mr. Stirling pauses, still, apparently, trying to remember an occasion where he'd seen Mr. Harris at anything but the last ball. Charlotte knows the man will soon either give up, or catch the scent, as there are only two sorts of people--ones who forsake what they cannot believe, or those who will not leave alone what pricks their fancy. It will be interesting to see what sort their host is.

Mr. Stirling smiles at Charlotte and favors Jack with a curious expression. "Miss Kennington is around here somewhere. I believe she may have gone to the library to secure a few books, as she thinks there may be no time later for such things."

"We shall see her soon," Mr. Harris says, leading his Charlotte onward into the crush. He leans in and whispers, "I know I botched it. But he was eying you and I can't stand the thought of anyone but me considering you for a dance."

"It is a ball, Mr. Harris. Dancing is what one does at these places. I am quite certain other people shall sign my dance card."

"And I am quite certain that I'll find a way to erase each name almost as soon as it's written." With that, he whisks her away into the formation and she has no time even to catch her breath or ponder the nature of her dance card.

You may read about Miss Francesca Kennington and Mr. Daniel Stirling here.
Enjoy the ball and do tell me if Mr Stirling manages to secure Miss Kennington's hand or if she'll spend the entire night in the library with her nose stuck in a book.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Caitlyn's Ball

Charlotte and Jack are having such a magnificent time attending the Christmas balls! Tonight they'll go to Mr. and Mrs. Reel's ball in Europe. Charlotte checks the mirror one last time and catches up her cape and fan. These balls can be such a press.
A ball on the Continent! Charlotte can't wait. She does so love an automobile ride. And before you look askance at her, it's part of the mystery. She snaps open her fan and laughs at you with her eyes.
Just in time, it's Mr. Harris ringing the bell, here to collect her for a Christmas jaunt. Who would have thought it? Going to the ball in a horseless carriage! First a ferry, then the carriage. Charlotte shall have to pack warmly.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tamsin's Coutry Barn Dance

(I tried and tried to find a decent country dance scene without booze signs and smoking and this was all I could find so far.)

Tamsin Tucker and her handsome doctor have invited you to a barn dance in Scipio, Utah. It's a cute little town just off the freeway. They meet you at the city sign and Travis helps you climb onto the waiting hay wagon made into a sleigh. You pull a blanket over and snuggle up as the driver cracks his whip over the horse's head.

You're off in a spray of snow. Your breath plumes around you and until you hide your nose in the blankets, you think your nose hairs will freeze. The cutest guy is sitting next to you. He keeps tossing you amused grins. You wonder if you've got lettuce in your teeth. Luckily no.

You get to the barn and it's a mass of little white lights and greenery. Hay bales line the edges of the wooden floor. The hay door is open to the falling snow, but it's toasty down where the crowd is. Someone strikes up a fiddle and you notice a couple guitars, a string bass and a set of drums in a corner. It smells of pine and horses and aftershave and possibilities.

The floor is filling with dancers. It looks so fun as you watch, hoping. Tamsin and Travis dance past. There's something interesting about Tamsin's gait. Now and then you see the gorgeous girl rubbing her leg. Travis is very solicitous of her. You can tell he's really into her by the gleam in his eye as he looks at her when she doesn't know.

Then you see her tossing Travis little glances. She's just as gone on him as he is on her. There's an electric arc between them. 

Tamsin stumbles and Travis picks her up and swings her around, depositing her on a hay bale as he slips off to get them drinks of hot chocolate.

That cute guy from the sleigh ride strolls over, eclipsing the dancers. He has his hand out, asking you to dance! You jump at the chance, your boots barely hitting the floor. He's such a great dancer. His two step is spotless as he steers you deftly around the floor.

The whole night is a blur of stomping boots and whirling skirts and cowboy hats. You can barely catch your breath. You haven't had this much fun since the last ball.

Finally the dance comes to an end and Tamsin and Travis give you hugs as you pull on your coat for the ride back to your car. You wish you could get to know Tamsin and her handsome doctor better, so you click here.

You hear that the next Ball will be hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Niall Doherty of Dunhaven Place, in Ireland! Perhaps Charlotte and Jack will be able to make the trip tonight. (Quick! Click on Dunhaven Place to go.)