Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Apocalyptic Review: Nicolae (Left Behind #3) by Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins

Nicolae  (Left Behind #3)
by Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins

First they were Left Behind. Then they formed the Tribulation Force. Now they must face Nicolae. In the most explosive of the three books so far, the seven-year tribulation is nearing the end of its first quarter, when prophecy says that "the wrath of the Lamb" will be poured out upon the earth. Rayford Steele becomes the ears of the tribulation saints at the highest levels of the Carpathia regime. Meanwhile, Buck Williams attempts a dramatic all-night rescue run from Israel through the Sinai that will hold you breathless to the end.

My Review:
Again, pretty good.

I enjoyed Buck's rescue mission most due to the many close calls and quite a good chase near the end. Still, there were some issues with how things go down, particularly in how careless Buck is with his identity, and then just going home as though nothing happened.
That leads me to the next point. How do any of these people think they're fooling Carpathia? They are so careless in so many ways, thinking Carpathia is unaware, but with his resources, that wouldn't make sense.

Do I want to keep reading? Sure. I'm curious. The books feature a good deal of intrigue and action, including some epic disasters. However, a lot of things don't quite add up, particularly the main cast thinking they're pulling something over on Carpathia.

Overall, I liked this book and would recommend it to folks who enjoyed the first two in the series. This installment features some thrills and a major cliffhanger.

I purchased my copy of this book.

About the Authors:

Timothy "Tim" F. LaHaye was an American evangelical Christian minister, author, and speaker, best known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, which he co-wrote with Jerry B. Jenkins. He has written over 50 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Timothy "Tim" F. LaHaye was an American evangelical Christian minister, author, and speaker, best known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, which he co-wrote with Jerry B. Jenkins.

He has written over 50 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Jerry Bruce Jenkins is an American novelist and biographer. He is best known as co-author of the Left Behind series of books with Tim LaHaye. Jenkins has written over 185 books, including mysteries, historical fiction, biblical fiction, cop thrillers, international spy thrillers, and children's adventures, as well as non-fiction. His works usually feature Christians as protagonists. In 2005, Jenkins and LaHaye ranked 9th in Amazon.com's 10th Anniversary list of Hall of Fame authors based on books sold at Amazon.com during its first 10 years. Jenkins now teaches writers to become authors here at his website. He and his wife Dianna have three sons and eight grandchildren.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Science Fiction Review: The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams

The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul
by Douglas Adams

Beloved, bumbling Detective Dirk Gently returns in this standalone novel from Douglas Adams, the legendary author of one of the most beloved science fiction novels of all time, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

When a check-in desk at London’s Heathrow Airport disappears in a ball of orange flame, the event is said to be an act of God. But which god? wonders holistic detective Dirk Gently. And how is this connected to Dirk’s battle with his cleaning lady over his filthy refrigerator…or to the murder of his latest client? Or are these events just another stretch of coincidences in the life of the world’s most off-kilter private investigator?

Douglas Adams, “one of England’s top exporters of irreverence” (Chicago Tribune), continues the implausible adventures of supersleuth Dirk Gently in his quest to solve the mysteries of the universe.

My Review:
This was, as expected, a totally unpredictable read. There was no knowing or guessing at the outcome, merely holding on and keeping a sharp eye out and hoping to catch all the threads that would at some point reveal the ultimate interconnectedness of the universe.

Dirk’s epic, passive-aggressive standoff with his cleaning lady, interesting way of becoming unlost, and comedic larceny were delightful. The fridge was probably the most ridiculous and fantastic plot point of the whole thing. I did not see any of it coming.

Reading at night wasn’t working so much. As soon as I’d get tired, I’d start missing things, and as everything is linked to everything else, I decided to read the majority of it during the light of day on Saturday. Turned out to be a wise move.

Anyhow, I loved the story. It’s odd, clever, and makes a lot more sense in the end than it seems like it should. I’d recommend it to anyone who fancies Douglas Adams’ unique brand of nonsense.

I purchased my copy of this book.

About the author:
Douglas Noël Adams was an English author, comic radio dramatist, and musician. He is best known as the author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Hitchhiker's began on radio, and developed into a "trilogy" of five books (which sold more than fifteen million copies during his lifetime) as well as a television series, a comic book series, a computer game, and a feature film that was completed after Adams' death. The series has also been adapted for live theatre using various scripts; the earliest such productions used material newly written by Adams. He was known to some fans as Bop Ad (after his illegible signature), or by his initials "DNA".

In addition to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams wrote or co-wrote three stories of the science fiction television series Doctor Who and served as Script Editor during the seventeenth season. His other written works include the Dirk Gently novels, and he co-wrote two Liff books and Last Chance to See, itself based on a radio series. Adams also originated the idea for the computer game Starship Titanic, which was produced by a company that Adams co-founded, and adapted into a novel by Terry Jones. A posthumous collection of essays and other material, including an incomplete novel, was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002.

His fans and friends also knew Adams as an environmental activist and a lover of fast cars, cameras, the Macintosh computer, and other "techno gizmos".

Toward the end of his life he was a sought-after lecturer on topics including technology and the environment.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Romance-Thriller Review: Chased by Kate Carley

by Kate Carley

Sixteen years ago their lives were ripped apart...

Whisked away from her beloved home as a child and raised by her elderly relatives on the Pacific Coast, Kendall Aasgaard has learned to roll with the punches. She's strong, resilient, and independent. But when Kendall finds herself in more trouble than she can handle, her survival instincts tell her to run. She turns to the person she trusts the most-Ben Montgomery.

Ben has it all-a thriving construction business, all the toys a bachelor could want, and a steady stream of brunettes to warm his bed. Love, however, is something Ben has permanently relegated to his past.
When playful, unreserved Kendall lands on his doorstep-or more accurately, in his bed-Ben realizes that his heart has no intention of following some arbitrary rule he'd instituted sixteen years ago. And if Kendall gets her way, she'd abolish that rule altogether to claim Ben's heart for herself.

But as the threat to Kendall intensifies, Ben is faced with an adversary of his own who is determined to destroy Montgomery Construction.

Together, they'll fight for a future that is more than the tragedy that binds them.

My Review:
Chased features Ben, a fellow who showed up in the first book as a best friend with problems of his own. In this one, Kendall Aasgaard drops in on Ben unannounced, making herself right at home and taking a snooze in his bed while he’s out on a bender. To Ben it’s almost traumatic finding her there because she’s the kid sister of his one true love, a woman murdered before their life together could truly begin. But Kendall isn’t there for fun, and her situation sparks feelings Ben thought were lost forever.

This is the third Changing Krysset novel I’ve read, and I must say I’m impressed. Yes, the cover has a man chest, not my favorite kind of cover, but this story, like the others, is much more than a racy romance, though it is that as well. It blends in a rather gripping thriller. I also thought it was good that the intimate scenes are entwined with emotions and sensations, making them feel real and unique to the couple experiencing them. Not just play-by-play, but immersive moments that feel genuine.
I wasn’t quite into how Kendall pretty much seemed out to snag Ben from the start. Maybe it was from reading her sisters words about him? Also, I could have done with fewer asides about Ben having to adjust himself in Kendall’s presence.

Anyway that being said, each of these books have a unique situation and pair of people. This is Kendall and Ben’s story, and they’re themselves, not shadows of the couples in the previous books, making this a fresh read.

Overall, I loved this book. I’d highly recommend the series and this book to folks who like steamy romance paired with some thrills and more than one incredibly close call.

About the Author:

After spending more than a dozen years home schooling her four children, Kate is off and running in a new direction—writing romance novels. It all started out as a mere addiction to reading novels and then morphed into a drive to write one. One became two, and then three, and then four.

Her debut series, Changing Krysset, includes Challenged and Consumed, both released in 2016, and Chased, in 2017.

Visit her online at www.katecarley.com and look for additional books in the near future.

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateCarleyBooks and on Goodreads.

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

New Release: The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness by Paula Poundstone

The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness
by Paula Poundstone

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Is there a secret to happiness? Beloved comedian Paula Poundstone conducts a series of “thoroughly scientific” experiments to find out, offering herself up as a guinea pig and recording her data for the benefit of all humankind. Armed with her unique brand of self-deprecating wit and the scientific method, in each chapter Paula tries out a different get-happy hypothesis. She gets in shape with taekwondo. She drives fast behind the wheel of a Lamborghini. She communes with nature while camping with her daughter. Swing dancing? Meditation? Volunteering? Does any of it bring her happiness? And more important, can the happiness last when she returns to the daily demands of her chaotic life?

The results are irreverent, laugh-out-loud funny, and pointedly relevant to our times. The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness is both a hilarious story of jumping into new experiences with both feet and a surprisingly poignant tale of a working mother raising three kids. Paula is a master of her craft. Her comedic brilliance, served up in abundance in this book, has been compared to that of George Carlin, Tina Fey, Lily Tomlin, and David Sedaris.

My Review:

If I were asked to pin a moral to this story, I’d say that trying new things can result in unexpected adventures. Sometimes those adventures are fun, sometimes aggravating, and sometimes rewarding. This book is a lot of fun, but I think there is real meaning among the gags, the embarrassments, the moody teens, and the cats.

And even more surprisingly, I found this book to be somewhat scientific despite the tongue-in-cheek disclaimer in the title and the heavy use of ironically scientific report headers throughout. After all, what is science but testing out an idea and documenting your results.

This book is the result of seven years of intense personal research, and the results of the experiments are mixed. Some worked, some didn’t, and none were predictable, even within the same experiment. To tell you the truth, I’m impressed with the author for putting herself out there and jumping right into some things that were very much out of her comfort zone.

I loved the chapters that give the results in a running, time stamped log. The movie day one was hilarious. The mortifying foray into swing dancing was another favorite, both because of the humor, but also because the experience highlights another interesting result, that happiness is complex.

Anyhow, I really liked this book. While it wasn’t as over the top as I’d expected from a book by a comedian, it was real, it made me laugh, and near the end there, if I’m honest, it made me cry a little, too. I’d totally recommend this to folks who enjoy memoirs with a good dose of humor and also to those who want the inside scoop on finding their own personal brand of happiness.

I picked up the advance review copy of this book from NetGalley.

About the Author:
Heralded as one of our country’s foremost comics, Paula Poundstone's quick thinking, unscripted approach to comedy makes for the perfect fit as a regular panelist on NPR’s #1 show, the screwball weekly news quiz show WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! where she holds the record for game losses. "The others cheat," she says magnanimously, "you wouldn't think NPR would put up with that."

Paula tours regularly, performing standup comedy across the country. Writes Nick Zaino with the Boston Globe: "You know she’s a great comic the way you know any fine performer when you see one -- there's a disarming ease in her craft, an immediate sense that she's so quick on her feet you need never worry about the possibility of something going wrong.” Paula’s interchanges with the audience are never mean or done at a person’s expense. She even manages to handle politics without provoking the pall of disapproval received by less artful comics. "With the exception of that one time," Paula claims.

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