Review: Come, Seeling Night (Paxton Locke #3) by Daniel Humphreys

Well, Dan’s done it again! Another excellent book in this series that has left me wanting more. Review is below!

Happy Reading!

Amazon’s blurb & preview

Drugged and shipped to who-knows-where on an airplane, he’s locked up by men who seem to be Feds. But they haven’t given him his phone call, and Pax isn’t sure if his cell mates are even human.

This is one cell he can’t get out of, but he’s got to find a way to escape. Mother has his girlfriend, and she wants a redo of the night she killed Paxton’s father. But this time she won’t be interrupted. Paxton’s got to find Cassie, and he’s got to stop his mother.

Or the world might end.

Apocalyptic visions from Mother’s grimoire have haunted him for years. Now she’s close to making it happen. And all Paxton can do is wait in his cell for someone to realize he’s not the bad guy.

Can Paxton escape his magical prison and stop Mother? Or will he be too late, and lose Cassie just like he lost his dad?

The third installment of the Paxton Locke series delves deeper into the meaning of love and forgiveness, while providing plenty of action, magic, and Humphreys’ signature subtle horror.

Will Mother bring about a world on fire, or a dead Earth? Can Paxton defeat her? Find out and read Come Seeling Night today!

Come, Seeling NightCome, Seeling Night by Daniel Humphreys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another page turner in the ever evolving series. You start in the middle of it, and you have to hang on for the ride as the White Haired Knight pulls you along his never ending saga of action, adventure, sorcery, and mommy issues!

Things are looking kind of sideways for Paxton Locke at the opening of this one, but it seems to be his favorite direction most of the time. With his typical roll-with-the-punches attitude, Paxton soon finds himself at the top of his game working with a new crew (that’s actually a very old crew) as the New Warlock On The Block. For the rest of humanity, that’s very good thing! Oh, yeah, and his mom kidnapped his girlfriend to use as a bait to bring him to the end of the world party up in Maine… at least the scenery is nice.

I highly recommend this book, and the whole series! 5 stars and calling it a Hurry Up And Write The Next Read!

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Have any of you Happy Readers checked out my two books yet? If you haven’t, check them out on Amazon. If you have, Thank You!

PS – If you have read either of my books, please consider leaving a review for them on Amazon. This is how I gain notice and a wider audience!


If you like intrigue, humor and a bit of speculative technological supposition, you should pick up a copy of my technothriller-comedy eConscience Beta from Amazon today!

Peacekeeper Incorporated’s breakthrough nanotechnology could bring repeat offense crime to an end, freeing society from the need for criminal incarcerations. But first, they have to finish testing it. With funding on the line, and time to prove out the project getting short, the lead scientist must find a way speed things up. That’s unfortunate for his guinea pig, and anyone who would stand in his way.

Can the goal of ending most crime justify committing one… even a few?
And what happens when you conflate altruism with egotism?

Find out in eConscience Beta, where two lab techs and an uncouth petty criminal must outwit a brilliant but sociopathic scientist who’ll stop at nothing to establish his legacy as the man who ended crime.


If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

HAPPY READING!

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Review: Fade & Night’s Black Agents (Paxton Locke #1 & 2)

I decided to do this review blog as a two-in-one. I read the first two books in Daniel Humphreys’ Paxton Locke series because I got to be Tuckerized (and red-shirted!) in book two. Of course, that meant I had to read from the start. Now I’m totally hooked on this incredible series!

So, here are my reviews (on Goodreads) for both books. Enjoy.

Autograph - Daniel Humphreys - Night's Black Agents.jpg
Signed book placard from LibertyCon


Fade (Paxton Locke Book 1)Fade by Daniel Humphreys

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Contemporary Paranormal Fantasy. That’s the term that comes to mind for this book. Yes, there is a mixture of horror, but paranormal captures that, I think. This is not my normal genre (let’s face it, I’m a sci-fi junkie), but I have two ulterior motives for picking this one up.

1) I beta read for Daniel Humpreys’ Z-Day series.
2) I’m a red-shirt character in book 2 of this series.

The book was not given to me, however. Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, here’s the review.

SHIVER! GASP! ZOOM! BANG! POW! HOLY…!

These are the typical onomotopiatic & exclamatory words you will generate in your mind as you read this book. It starts you at the top of the roller-coaster drop, then yanks the track out from under you, then turns on the jet engine on the back car. Now we’re not talking about combat or physical action here… we’re talking about suspense building. You don’t get a break. The reveal for the first bit of tension is done in the middle of the build-up of the next.

Am I exaggerating a bit? Maybe a little, but I’m telling you this book is well written, and a page turner. It has some of the best ‘info-dump hidden within the scenes’ writing I have seen in quite a while. Even the backstory portions are so tantalizing that when they interrupt the main action, you don’t want to stop hearing THAT PART to go back the first.

I guess I should mention what it’s about. Paxton Locke, a man in his mid 20s, is a ghost hunter. His ability is an after-effect of some really ghoulish crap foisted upon him by his demented mother some 10 years previous. I won’t spoil anything else. Think Paranormal (TV) crossed with Dresden Files, crossed with… well, that other thing that happens in book 2.

If you like paranormal, read this book. If you like ‘urban fantasy’ in it’s current definition (circa 2018), read this book. Mystery, thriller, horror… yep, those too. These are not my typical reading genres, but this book still pulled me in for the ride.

I give this book four stars and call it an engrossing read.


Night's Black Agents (Paxton Locke #2)Night’s Black Agents by Daniel Humphreys

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Picking up where the first book left off, Paxton Locke tries to move on with his self-appointed task of ridding the world of ghosts… and maybe his mother the witch… the real kind.

So, disclaimer… I bought this book, but:
1) I beta read for Daniel Humpreys’ Z-Day series.
2) I’m a red-shirt character IN THIS BOOK.

There. Now the review.

HOLY CRAP! There is a lot to digest in this one. While a bit slower than book 1, it is chock-full of reveals and new twists that move the series to a whole different level.

The main character is starting to realize that his little ‘dismiss the ghosts’ thing is just the frost on the tip of the paranormal iceberg. While he is helping his stand-in father-figure to solve some really strange goings-on in Denver, his fugitive Mommy Dearest is tearing around the country gathering her power to… well, gather more power. And a shadow agency begins to reveal its presence to the reader as well. The book is just as engrossing as the first, but for different reasons. You get many new characters with backstory teasers you have to keep reading to figure out. You get much more in depth into Helen Locke’s personality (can you say, ‘Bitch’ with a capital ‘B’?) And you get sucked into a whole other arc of story that is seperate, but just as deadly. It’s a wild ride.

My only complaint is the cliffhanger ending. I plan to keep reading the series, but I don’t like books that end with serious unfinished business. Robert Jordan burned me out of that. Hopefully, the next book will be out soon, though, so I won’t have to wait long to find out what’s next.

I give this book four stars and call it a ‘The Hits Keep Coming’ read.

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Review: Black Tide Rising (Anthology – Book #5)

Black Tide Rising (Black Tide Rising anthologies Book 1)Black Tide Rising by John Ringo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An anthology of stories in the Black Tide Rising universe created by John Ringo. A great mix of well known authors play around in the sandbox of the master of Mil-SF. It’s a great adder to the overall universe. Typical mix of good and mediocre found in an anthology, but mostly good. The final Ringo story also might leave you gape-jawed at the potential for things to come in the series.

TLDR: The Flint, Williamson, and last Ringo stories are worth the price of the book. These three get 5 stars. There are other good ones as well in the anthology. My average rating for the book is 3 stars (36 over 12 stories), and I call it a Worthwhile Read.

Individual story ratings below. Beware of spoilers (I try not to, but they are short stories, so…)

Never Been Kissed by John Ringo (2 star)

Very short. Musings of Faith about the fate of all the people she knew.

Up on the Roof by Eric Flint (5 stars)

An excellent story of a group of survivors who make an excellent choice to ride out the apocalypse atop a gasoline tank farm. Really good setup, detailed enough without being boring, and good character development in a short time. I would like to read a full novel about this group.

Staying Human by Jody Lynn Nye (1 star)

Missed the mark on several key points about the behavior of the zombies in this universe. Sentiment is all over the place and turns very preachy about being better and not seeking revenge against the ‘poor infected’. Waste of my time.

On the Wall by John Scalzi & Dave Klecha (2 stars)

Annoying. Some humor, but of the obnoxious variety. The entire story is dialogue, which makes it read like an episode of Gilmore Girls. One of the characters is such a douche that he needed to be thrown to the zombies.

Do No Harm by Sarah Hoyt (3 stars)

An ER nurse must come to grips with ‘kill or be killed’ as the hospital is overrun with zombies. Good story. Great character development for a short story length tale.

Not in Vain by Kacey Ezell (3 stars)

A group of cheerleaders and their coach must step up if they want to reach a safe haven in the zombie apocalypse. Excellent character development, but too short. I want more!

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Grandpa? by Michael Z. Williamson (5 stars)

Grandpa is a vet, but his grandkids think he’s a gun hoarder that needs an intervention… until the zombies hit. Best one in the book. Grandpa was right, and he ain’t taking no more of your crap, you little shits!

Battle of the BERTs by Mike Massa (3 stars)

Interesting story of the teams sent out to control infected on the streets of New York before everything gets completely out of control. This one ties in directly with events form Book 1 in the series.

The Road to Good Intentions by Tedd Roberts (3 stars)

A small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains could be a refuge for some, but only if they can keep outside influences from ruining things. One man struggles with his own religious issues as the local pastor calls his survival of the fever a miracle and sets him up as a beacon of hope. A decent story with good details, but the ending is abrupt and left hanging. The use of religion as a plot device is bothersome.

200 Miles to Huntsville by Christopher Smith (2 stars)

A post-war Vet turned cop, his dirty-cop partner, and the prisoner they are escorting find themselves in a cultish Hicksville, Texas as the final shoe begins to drop. I didn’t care for this one mainly because of the use of religion as a plot device. The writing and characters were ok, but the blurring of good/bad would not be something I’d want to keep reading for much longer.

Best Laid Plans by Jason Cordova & Eric S. Brown (2 stars)

A group of thieves are determined to rob the Louvre despite the zombie apocalypse. Interesting, but too short to get to know the characters well. The humor is quirky and not all that funny to me (others might find it more so).

The Meaning of Freedom by John Ringo (5 stars)

An interesting interlude that shows the true nature of the ‘beta’ zombies that has been hinted at in the main series. It raises a huge moral question, which I won’t spoil. This one is a thinker, unlike the ‘killing infected’ or ‘using infected for medicine’ questions that I found to be trite in the main series itself. This story is a must read for the series.

Happy Reading!

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Review: Strands of Sorrow (Black Tide Rising Book #4)

Strands of Sorrow (Black Tide Rising, #4)Strands of Sorrow by John Ringo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another winner in the Black Tide Rising series. This one finally brings the recovery of America back to the home shores. The hyper-effective Faith Marie Smith, who has now become the central character of the series, continues to push the limits of get it done action and zombie stomping. Luckily, she is surrounded by survivor types that come up with more ingenious ways to rid the land of its post-human plague.

The action in this one is almost non-stop. The logistics-speak is so finely woven with the next big zombie killing spree that you hardly notice it. I continue to learn new mil-speak each book I read, and I absolutely love to see what goodies that go boom will come from tackling the next hurdle in the race to save as much of humanity that remains. Characters continue to grow, and some new one get added to give yo more to like. Even the screw-ups seem to get a chance to shine.

From more guns on a helicopter than should ever be thought about, to tomahawks raising an entire host of infected, to the unparalleled bad-assery of an M1A1 Abrams (named Trixie of course) that pirouettes like a ballet dancer on a zombie juice slip-and-slide, this book will most assuredly peg out your kick-assometer! I give it four stars and call it a Kick Ass Read!

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Movie Review: The Cloverfield Paradox

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Orbiting a planet on the brink of war, scientists test a device to solve an energy crisis, and end up face-to-face with a dark alternate reality.

The Cloverfield Paradox is a great science-fiction romp. I highly recommend it.

The critics’ response to The Cloverfield Paradox once again proves that ‘Critics Don’t Know Science Fiction’ or what’s good. The special effects are awesome. The suspense is great. The science referenced is deep (but don’t over-think it). The actors, although completely unknown to me, are terrific.

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This third installment of the Cloverfield franchise is much more on par with the first.

The original Cloverfield was a great movie. The style (jerky camera footage) made me a bit nauseous when I watched it at first, but it made for a sense of realism that pulled me in as a participant rather than just a viewer. That feeling of not knowing what would happen next (or what the heck was really going on, for that matter) was what made it a great movie to me. Well, The Cloverfield Paradox does that again, only this time it’s in space!

Spaaaaaaaace!

Image result for spaaaace

Now, I won’t compare it to the fail that was 10 Cloverfield Lane. That was just psycho-thriller garbage with aliens thrown into the mix. It was like Signs, but with John Goodman manifesting the crazy of the entire cast himself right after a screeching fight with Rosanne Barr. Swing away Dan!

goodman

Anyway, below I’ll discuss some details about the plot and give some nitpicks. There are going to be spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it first. But come back and read the rest of this and see if you agree. I’d love to hear your comments!

—————-SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT—————-

The movie starts off in the middle of a gas shortage line. I was thinking we were going to get some Clover action right up front, but it was the character back-story instead. You find out that Earth is in energy depletion hell and about to fight about it. Soon though, you are on the space station where the super-collider is being built that will generate infinite power (nitpick #1). Fail, fail, fail again. Then success, but a BIG BADA-BOOM fail.

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After that, all sorts of weird happens. Not mega-critter or creepy critter a la Clover weird, but more Event Horizon without the malevolence weird. There’s plenty of eepy-creepy to enjoy. There’s also lots of space ‘spoldy stuff and a good bit of intrigue. Like I said before, trying to figure out what is happening is what makes it so good. And it has lots of different genre styles meshed together.

Now it’s time for my usual nitpick where I point out the things I didn’t like (sci-fi nerd complaints). 1) Infinite Power from the supercollider – Nope. Not even a theory as far as I know. I am not a particle physicist, however. 2) Play it again, Sam – They run the Shepherd (Collider) again to get back home. How does that work? They randomly jumped to the parallel dimension they were in, so why is the second time reversed? Why not another random jump. This was never fully explained to my nerdly satisfaction. And the third time they run it everything is fine because they blow all the condensation out. Huh? OK, whatever. 3) Displacement & Destruction – They appeared on the opposite side of Sol from Earth. Why did the other station go boom then? It crashed in the ocean (w/o burning up?). Why were they displaced. Why were able to go right back to Earth orbit when the returned after they spent days in a new solar orbit. It comes down to a case of ‘How Do It Know?’ for me.

Oh well, nerdy nitpick done. It’s sciency enough to enjoy, but like I said, don’t over think it (I don’t follow my own advice on this most of the time… which is why you should ignore most of my nitpicks in reviews.)

I give the movie 4 out of 5 stars with a healthy suspension of disbelief for the sake of enjoyment.

Review: Islands of Rage & Hope (Black Tide Rising Book #3)

Islands of Rage & Hope (Black Tide Rising, #3)Islands of Rage & Hope by John Ringo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

YES! Finally we get to a real Ringo ringer! This one was perfectly balanced in terms of action, character development, and that patented Ringo ‘Holy crap, how did you think of that! That’s so friggin’ cool’ factor. I got several ‘Hell, Yeah!’ fist pump moments in this one, and one hell of an ending!

The plot takes you from the Atlantic crossing from the Canary Islands to Gitmo. Then you have lots of different scenarios encountered during the clearance of the Windward Isles as they search for the ingredients to make vaccine for the sub sailors that are still trapped in self-imposed quarantine. The last two ‘missions’ are pretty awesome, but I won’t spoil those.

The main characters grow a lot in this one, and the Smith girls are still hyper-capable, but not as in-your-face Mary Sue as the last book. You get to meet some other folks that I found quite interesting, but I won’t spoil that for you. Hey, you even get to meet some royalty in this one!

Even the logistics portions of the book seemed to be more interesting and less info-dumpy that the last book. Probably because it’s interspersed with more action. And, thankfully, the mil-speak was much better explained in this one. I actually learned quite a bit.

I highly recommend this book, and it alone make the series worth diving into. I give it five stars and call it an Hoorah! Read.

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Review: To Sail a Darkling Sea (Black Tide Rising Book #2)

To Sail a Darkling Sea (Black Tide Rising, #2)To Sail a Darkling Sea by John Ringo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book 2 of the Black Tide Rising series is the continuation of the exploits of the Wolf Squadron, a rag-tag flotilla of ships and survivors of the zombie apocalypse. John Smith and his daughters Sophia (age 15) and Faith (age 13) continue to save as many people as possible at sea while pushing forward with plans to save humanity by reclaiming the land. First, they have to perfect their techniques for moving the fleet and clearing some beachheads.

The plot of this sequel is basically the continuing story of trying to get your ducks in a row… and the ducks are drunk. The hinted at objective from book 1, reclaim Guantanamo Bay and start manufacturing a cure, is postponed due to weather (hurricane season) and is only launched on the last pages. The rest of the story is about the re-establishment of military discipline & organization, and supply lines. It’s a book about logistics. It’s interesting, but it is also NOT much of an action adventure book. Sure, there are a few zombie encounters which keep the pacing decent, but the focus is heavily on military maneuvers, the reasons for following orders, and a lot of inside jokes that you almost have to BE military to understand. I am not, so they fell on deaf ears.

I also find that the Sophia & Faith characters are annoyingly Mary Sue. It’s difficult to suspend my disbelief at times, especially when they all start talking the same. The stilted replies of “Point” (meaning ‘You have a point.’) and “Works” (meaning ‘That works.’) from different characters is standing out so much that I cringe when I see it.

I like the series. I like the premise. I even like the logistics discussions. I just hope the third book is better with more action. I give this book three stars and call it a Mediocre Read.

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Review: A Place Outside The Wild

A Place Outside The WildA Place Outside The Wild by Daniel Humphreys

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Place Outside The Wild is not a typical dystopian novel despite its setting – eight years post zombie apocalypse – which I think makes it a unique read in the genre. The characters are fully fleshed (no pun intended), as is the world. There are twists to the plot that grabbed me by the collar and shook the crap out of me. The biggest flaw was the slow build up to said twists. It was never boring (good suspense), but it is very light on action (after the opening grab) up to almost the 70% mark. I like the work very much, and plan to read the next in the series.

The story is centered on a small enclave of survivors who have managed to ‘wait out’ the zombie life-spans (or so they believe) and scratch out a steadily improving life post Z-day. They have their internal struggles: politics, psychological and social issues, that are all consequences of the apocalypse. The society described in this book is totally believable and will suck you into itself.

The overall plot arc of the zombies and their origins is also a major deviation from most of the stories I’ve seen. You are given hints throughout, some of which I admit I questioned as odd at first, until the final shoe drops. When it does, it’s a Bozo the Clown sized sum-bitch that will leave you gaping at the ramifications!

Now for the ‘critical’ part of my review, which I almost hate to give because I know the difficulties in writing… but I started these reviews to remind myself about my feeling on the books I read, so… here it is. I have two things that keep me from giving the book the fifth star on Goodreads. They are related to pacing and conflict resolution.

Firstly, the drawback to having many small side arcs in the novel is that while they do help build tension and give the overall world more detail, they are also a bit dull to hold onto all the way to the end. All the side arcs fed the climax. If they had been a bit more self-contained I think they would have helped the pacing, giving it more of an ebb-and-flow of action and resolution.

Secondly, the resolutions in the end felt a bit dues-ex-machina in nature. The climax of the overall plot was exciting, but the side arc resolutions were a bit of a let-down, especially when I had already felt them to be a bit slow in the first place.

I can’t explain this well without spoilers, so let me smooth out the criticisms here for anyone reading this review… these are only slight negatives. The book is still getting FOUR STARS!

If you like being immersed in a world and surprised by new concepts to an already expansive genre, then this book is one you need to read. It puts a twist to the zombie origin story that has so much potential it will stagger you. It also doesn’t drag you to the depths of despair, but shows the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable odds. Read the book. I give it four stars and call it a Great Read!

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