#BlogTour: One Deadly Eye by Randy Wayne White

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a tale of brutal and effective violence that Jack Reacher would be proud of. For this blog tour, we’re looking at One Deadly Eye by Randy Wayne White.

First, the review I posted to the book sites (Hardcover.app / BookHype.com / BookBub.com / TheStoryGraph.com / Goodreads.com):

Brutal And Effective Violence That Jack Reacher Would Be Proud Of. Admittedly I stepped into this book not realizing when I signed up for the blog tour that this was number 27 in a series, so there are likely elements to this tale that I completely missed out on.

That noted, the tale as told works within itself to tell a complete tale + a couple of open ended teasers (not really “cliffhangers” as at least one other reviewer described them) such that it *is* possible to enjoy this book for itself, but obviously if you are an “absolutely no spoilers of any minute kind” type of reader… eh, start all the way back at book 1 here. ๐Ÿ™‚

As for the story told… I wasn’t joking in the title of this review. I’ve read more graphic violence than this (hello, Code Alpha by Joseph Massucci and Without Remorse by Tom Clancy), but this is certainly up there. Hell, even the modern Mortal Kombat games with their ultra-realism and X-ray moves sometimes seem less graphic than some of the violence White gives us here. And yet the expected quippy banter is still present as well, providing just enough smiles to keep this from going to near slasher level action.

Set during a Cat 5 hurricane, some of the stuff described seems a bit implausible… but then, this is an action book, so meh, already suspending disbelief for the rest of the plot, might as well suspend it a bit more there. Otherwise, the hurricane doesn’t provide much “atmosphere” to the book, but *does* provide quite a few set pieces for the action sequences to look that much cooler.

Ultimately, this is one of those books that as long as you approach it as you would say WWE or the Fast and Furious franchise – ie, just go with the flow and enjoy the spectacle – it absolutely works. If you’re looking for anything more serious than that, you’re going to be disappointed.

Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book info, description, author bio, social links, and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: One Deadly Eye by Randy Wayne White”

#BookReview: Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth

Excellent Twisty Thriller With Uniquely Broken Characters Will Be Far Too Difficult For Some. Straight up, I loved this one. It was so *oppressively* dark, yet done in such a way that even though there is truly little light to be had and also with no supernatural element to the darkness at all… you still want to see exactly what happened to make this tale this way.

The reason it will be difficult for some, perhaps many, is because of the *rampant* child abuse, including some sexual abuse and even a rape – though while “on screen” it is more “dark room” based. Still described, but not as… vividly… as it could have been. Showing that Hepworth *does* show restraint when going even more explicit doesn’t add anything further to the actual story. There is also a rather horrifying birth scene, though this is far from the “splatterpunk” / “horror” that one reviewer described it as. Though going further would perhaps spoil what happens there *too* much, so I’ll show the same restraint in the review that Hepworth did in the text. If such scenes are difficult for you… this may not be the book for you.

The reason I actually enjoyed the book though was because of how the central characters – three chosen sisters bound not by blood, but by shared trauma and survival- were both broken… and how they used that brokenness as adults, showing that even some of the most difficult times, the darkest times of someone’s life, *can* be overcome to varying degrees. Not that any of our adults are truly “normal” healthy – again showing a great deal of reality here – but that they’re still, to use a term used to describe Autistics that I truly despise but fits here, “functional”. Ish.

Ultimately this is one of those books that will likely prove divisive in at least some groups, but I thought was done well, with the author using so many real world horrors (and yes, in my own work through my church as a teen and just generally being an observant adult, I’ve seen this and so much worse on occassion) to craft the story she is trying to tell… while showing restraint where further graphic details don’t add any more needed information to extract the desired emotions from the reader. Showing that Hepworth truly is a master of her craft, even when she is somewhat intentionally pushing some buttons of some people.

Very much recommended.

This review of Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth was originally written on April 24, 2024.

#BookReview: Point Nemo by Jeremy Robinson

Immersive And Inventive Tale Of Survival Horror From The New God Of Science Fiction. This was yet another fun scifi action thriller from the New God of Science Fiction, Jeremy Robinson, that manages to combine certain aspects of a few different comic book tales (Venom’s origins in Spiderman, the current(ly ending) era of XMen, early Greig Beck books, and even another classic tale whose name alone would be a massive spoiler and yet tell a tale entirely its own. Hell, knowing how Robinson writes from having followed him since basically the beginning (and now nearly 100 books later…), he is probably generally aware of the stories I referenced, but I doubt he would actually label them as “influences” on the story.

Some of his detractors who think they know his personal politics will probably have some more ammunition here, as the story told actually also brings forth certain aspects of US history (and, some would argue, even its current actions).

But ultimately this is simply an inventive and fun horror-based tale of survival, a well Robinson has dipped into a few times before and yet always manages to create an entirely fresh take on the general idea every time he comes back to it.

Truly a wild ride that will leave you breathless… and wanting to come back to this world or at minimum see if it plays into his *next* “Avengers Level Event” (which likely won’t be actively seen for at least 2-3 more years).

Very much recommended.

This review of Point Nemo by Jeremy Robinson was originally written on March 15, 2024.

#BookReview: The Berlin Sisters by Soraya M. Lane

Soraya Lane Goes *There*. Particularly in the current era of American politics, with “both” sides (rightfully, in certain aspects) comparing each other to the Third Reich, I don’t think you’re going to find an American author with the balls to take a high ranking Nazi official’s family – in Joseph Goebbel’s inner circle, no less! – and make them a sympathetic and even heroic unit.

Enter New Zealander Soraya M. Lane.

Lane, whose last WWII historical novel – The Secret Midwife – tackled the horrors of Auschwitz directly, now takes an entirely different tack and places us in the political intrigue of 1944 Berlin, when the only Jews left in the city were in hiding and SS officials – along with their Fuhrer – were becoming ever more suspicious of everyone. When the White Rose was openly defying the Reich and Sophie Scholl and others paid the ultimate price for this defiance – an event that is discussed among our characters here. When other resisters inside Germany were actively looking for – and ultimately attempting an ill-fated attempt at – a way to assassinate the very Fuhrer in question and attempt to restore some degree of sanity to their government. An event that plays directly into the story here.

The story here, with the real world knowledge of what was going on and what was to come, is so tense you would need a space laser to cut through it – and Lane manages to ratchet the tension up so high that you’re going to be afraid of giving yourself a heart attack reading this tale.

Yet ultimately this *is* a tale of hope and survival. That even in the darkest, most desperate times, when survival for anyone is in doubt and the smallest misstep could get you and everyone you know or who knows of you at all killed, there are still those willing to take those risks to do what is right. That no matter how evil a group may be, this does not mean that every single member of that group is equally evil. That no matter how vile you think someone is because of some aspect you’ve been taught to believe about what you think they believe, there are still those within that out group that are truly *noble* and truly trying to do the right thing, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Indeed, with all of the fighting in America today noted at the top of this review, this may be one of the more interesting and essential fictional tales for Americans to read leading into the 2024 Presidential election that will be in a period of less activity when this book releases in mid May.

Truly one of Lane’s strongest works to date, and very much recommended.

This review of The Berlin Sisters by Soraya M. Lane was originally written on March 9, 2024.

#BookReview: Homestead Survival by Marty Raney

Solid Guide To Things To Consider Before Committing To Homesteading. If you’ve seen so much as a single episode of Homestead Rescue, the Discovery Channel show where Marty Raney travels the US with his younger daughter Misty and his younger son Matt assisting homesteaders with critical issues on their properties, you largely know what to expect from this book – both in terms of content and style. Listening to the Audible in particular, which Raney narrates himself, you absolutely hear the exact same speech cadences and tones Raney is known for on the show in the Audible. The overall book content is basically a summation of a lot of the same points he makes throughout the show regarding the various elements of homesteading, though in the case of the book here you also get a few specific places to look for information that aren’t always discussed on the show, as well as some specific product recommendations. Raney is also clear, however, that he does in fact make mistakes – including among the final chapters when his own mistakes in a COVID-based mental fog cost him the house he had built and lived in for decades as a fire began specifically because of a wood burning stove he both knew he had to replace… and already had the replacement stove in the house, waiting to be hooked up!

Overall a seemingly comprehensive guide to the various issues to consider before attempting to create a homestead yourself, if mostly general and a touch prevaricating (in that he is quite honest that specifics you need in your situation will always come down to the details of your own property and what you may have access to on/ near it), this is absolutely a book to read if you’re remotely considering the possibility of living this particular lifestyle at all. Even if you’re not, this is still a great general guide on how to prepare for a wide variety of scenarios that one may face even in suburban or even urban situations, though his recommendations for handling those scenarios are more explicitly designed for a more rural lifestyle. (As a general example, his suggestions for say livestock in particular won’t work in an urban setting where even chickens tend to be banned, but at least some of his suggestions for gardening could work in even window planter sized gardens.)

Truly a fascinating book, though one that I do suspect will have more market share among those already fans of the show and/ or already active in the homesteading community than necessarily a wide public appeal – but hey, maybe I’m wrong there.

Very much recommended.

This review of Homestead Survival by Marty Raney was originally written on January 11, 2024.

#BookReview: North Of Nowhere by Allison Brennan

Bone-Chilling Survival With Lots Of Moving Parts. This is one of those excellent lost in the wilderness/ lost in the blizzard survival tales that also happens to be a chase tale that is actually a story about family and breaking generational problems. So clearly, there is a LOT going on here, and a LOT of moving parts. And the non-moving parts – the wilderness and to a lesser extent the blizzard – are given their own fair respect here as well, both in the area natives’ respect for them and in the out-of-towners’ disrespect. One of Brennan’s most complex stories I’ve yet come across after working a couple of her other series over the last few years, this is truly an excellent tale of a different type from her, with her usual excellent execution in all aspects of the story. You’re going to *feel* the impacts here, from the coldness of the wilderness – and the coldness of some of the characters. Which is great, for a summer release during several consecutive days of “Excessive Heat Warning” events. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

This review of North Of Nowhere by Allison Brennan was originally written on August 8, 2023.

#BookReview: The Secret Midwife by Soraya M. Lane

Soraya Lane Takes On Auschwitz. How can you be a historical fiction writer who mostly focuses on the European theater of WWII… and *not*, at some point, do a story about Auschwitz? Well, the answer here is… you can’t, and this is Lane’s take on it.

Now, how can you be an amateur historian, with large amounts of knowledge about large amounts of things – and familial ties to the liberation of concentration camps during WWII to boot – and *want* to read a story about Auschwitz, knowing all too well the very real horrors there, among the worst humanity has ever inflicted upon humanity? (Arguably worse than the Imperial Japanese military’s Unit 731 in overall scale, though it seems that Unit 731 may have been even more horrific – if such a thing is possible.) My answer is… I didn’t and don’t, but I’ve read many of Lane’s books and trust *her*.

As it turns out, my trust is well placed. Lane manages to craft an Auschwitz tale that never shirks from discussing the horrors of that facility – while never showing them in brutal, sadistic detail the way an author with a more horror-genre nature might. Instead, Lane takes a page from Titanic (and a school assignment I once had that I’m fairly certain predates that movie, and which I’m coming to realize ever more that I had really done the way I want to now as an adult when it was possible as a child) in creating a dual timeline (shocker, I know, for long time fans of Lane) tale of hope and survival against the most brutal and desolate backdrop possible in Europe during that particular period. Taking inspiration from a variety of real life people who really did a lot of the things Lane has her characters doing to help people survive, Lane manages to show the goodness of some people and the willingness to risk their own lives in order to do the right thing, even in the very heart of the place doing so many very wrong things. Indeed, even the Angel of Death, Josef Mengele is a recurring character throughout the tale – though to be clear, while always being clear about the horrors he was responsible for while never directly showing them “on screen”.

Longtime fans of Lane will note her usual stylings are completely in play here, as is her usual historical accuracy to a relatively high degree, while still taking the occasional artistic liberty where necessary to tell the story she is telling in the manner in which she wanted to tell it. Even here, the liberties are more subtle than jarring, almost to the point of being indetectable.

The horrors of Auschwitz in particular are some of the most well known brutalities of the Jewish Holocaust of WWII, at least in the West. (I’m told they still aren’t as well known in certain Eastern circles? But I have no real way of knowing, having never lived outside the southern US.) At on that level, perhaps some might argue that an author like Lane should instead pursue her “normal” focus and tell the *other*, far lesser known, stories. To that, I point out that among the first books I read from her was about perhaps *the* most famous event of WWII in the American zeitgeist at minimum (*arguably* more famous than even the events of D-Day nearly three years later), the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In between these two well known events, Lane *has* been writing about lesser known events, indeed some that even this amateur historian had never heard of and had to learn about in more detail after reading one of Lane’s books. (Which I absolutely encourage all of her readers to do.) I also point out that just because a particular thing is well known, doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t continue to be explored – even as I readily encourage exploration of the lesser known topics as well, which again = Lane also does.

Overall, this is an appropriately sober and stark tale about one of the darkest stories in all of WWII, while still shining a light on the very real lives women lived in the period and events in question and still showing the goodness of humanity and the light of hope even in the darkest of situations, as Lane tries to do in all of her tales. Very much recommended.

This review of The Secret Midwife by Soraya M. Lane was originally written on July 27, 2023.

#BookReview: Have You Seen Her by Catherine McKenzie

Not McKenzie’s Strongest Work, Still A Solid Read. I suppose this is how you know when an author is truly good overall – when they can have a book that is rather far from their best, and still create a mostly compelling tale from it. Here, it almost seems like McKenzie is phoning it in. Clearly, *something* happened here, but that is for her to know and we readers to simply move on from. ๐Ÿ™‚

The book itself is both interesting and yet slow. There is enough of the mechanics built in to move the plot along and to ratchet up the mystery and tension before a wild curve late in the book that very nearly gives a sense of whiplash, and there is even room here for a sequel, should McKenzie choose to go that route. There is a lot of telling what happens rather than showing what happens, and yet McKenzie overall makes this work within the space of this tale and how she is telling it.

If you’re a fan of Yosemite National Park and/ or want to vicariously live a summer there, this may be of interest. If you’re interested in learning something about the volunteer search and rescue teams that spend summers in some of these parks, this may be of interest. And if you’re a long time fan of McKenzie, this will absolutely be of interest. But for anyone else, I actually recommend reading almost any of McKenzie’s *prior* works first, to see how good she is and build some trust first. *Then* come into this book with that trust, and hopefully it works out for you. I know it did for me, as I’m still looking forward to the next one. Recommended.

This review of Have You Seen Her by Catherine McKenzie was originally written on June 19, 2023.

#BookReview: The Belonger by Mary Kathleen Mehuron

Compelling Survival Story Marred By Inexcusable Missed Details. As someone who cruises more than many – I’ve got over 100 days at sea with Carnival Cruise Line over the last 16 years and now routinely spent roughly two weeks per year at sea with them – I’ve been to Grand Turk several times. I’m even going back yet again on my next cruise in Fall 2023. I love the island, it is easily one of my favorite common ports in the Caribbean. And this is exactly what drew me to this book. The setting on and around Grand Turk in this book is truly amazing, for the most part it very much feels like you’re actually there, even in areas I’ve never experienced. If this book doesn’t make you want to get into the Caribbean ASAP, I’m not sure of anything short of Jimmy Buffett that could. Then, when the storm hits – the other factor that drew me into the book, as I’ve personally seen some of the devastation Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria wreaked across the Caribbean, and even had a cruise or two diverted to other ports because of the damage sustained where we were supposed to be going – the story shifts into survival mode, and here too the book is remarkably (mostly) realistic. Particularly for the isolation of the island if things truly go bad, as they tend to do during a Category 5 hurricane making a direct hit.

But it is that (mostly) during the survival section in particular that mars an otherwise truly amazing book.

Being someone that alternates her time between New England (Vermont, specifically) and Grand Turk, maybe, *maybe*, the author can be excused for claiming that a 9mm round “isn’t meant to kill”, as she does during the survival section here in one particularly tense moment. As someone who also owns a 9mm pistol… I can very much attest to the opposite – every single round in my 9mm *is* meant to be a kill shot, should I ever need it to become one, and every single round has the power to do so. Now, if you want to argue *shot placement*, as many in the online and IRL gun communities routinely do, fair game – but that isn’t what the author says in this particular passage.

The second major flaw is geographic in nature. Grand Turk is *tiny*, just 6 square miles in surface area, and at least some of that is water. The southern end is dominated by the cruise pier and the services needed to run it. Meaning the actual population of Grand Turk has even less area to live in. And one thing you can easily notice from the bigger ships that dock there in particular is just how *flat* Grand Turk is. If there is a hill bigger than *maybe* 10 feet tall, I’ve never noticed it in all my time on and at the island. And yet, in another sequence, Mehuron, who per her biography spends a fair amount of time actively living on the island, describes one particular journey is both arduous and up a significant hill. The problem is that the biggest “hill” on Grand Turk, even with putting some research in for this review, is no more than about 60 feet or so above the main elevation of the rest of the town there on Grand Turk. As a reference point, a particularly steep hill – among many in the area – just a street over from the house I spent my teens in in my hometown north of Atlanta, GA, is roughly twice as tall. And in a survival situation, I could be up that hill within minutes with minimal effort. Hell, I used to routinely ride my bicycle up it as a younger teenager.

So she gets a major point of geography completely wrong, and hell, maybe you’re arguing “artistic license”. Perhaps. My counter would be that the story didn’t need that particular element. There could have been other, much more realistic, impediments to that particular location to make it just as treacherous or perhaps even more so, without getting such a basic fact so blatantly wrong.

It is for both of the above errors combined that the single star is deducted, as while both are glaring and nonsensical, neither do they *completely* take away from the otherwise strong tale of life and survival told here.

Overall this actually was quite a compelling tale, one that takes the classic disaster format of showing life before, during, and after a disaster and uses it quite well indeed to showcase a particular setting remarkably well while also telling a story of a woman’s family and friends, and her overall community, within that framework. Very much recommended.

This review of The Belonger by Mary Kathleen Mehuron was originally written on May 29, 2023.

#BookReview: Paradise-1 by David Wellington

LONG – And Still Only Tells One Part Of The Story. The biggest thing I was left with at the end of this book was whether I was satisfied with the tale here – and thus the book should get the full 5* rating- or whether I thought it was a cash-grab that only told one part of the story and demands money to get the rest of the story (which I’ve seen in other books and written about in other reviews, though I note here that neither of these refer to books from this author) and thus should get a star deduction. Obviously, I ultimately sided with it being a complete tale *so far as it goes*, and I personally would love a sequel that picks up moments after this book leaves off.

As to the tale itself, think “Dead Space” or maybe a touch of the Suicide Mission in Mass Effect 2 or any number of other movies / tv shows / games / book / etc where our main characters wake up already in a survival situation… and things only get more horrific from there. Here though, we also get almost disaster movie type setup with a bit of the “normal life” of each of our crew members before they are sent on this particular mission, and this both helps ground the characters and serves as a touch of foreshadowing of how the tale plays out. The horror is real and visceral, but of a type that if you have your internal “blood filters” set, you may envision at least somewhat less carnage than others who envision the more complete “Mortal Kombat experience”. And as horrific as the physical horror is, the psychological horror here could be said to be even worse – yes, this book goes *that* deep. Ultimately, if you like any of the franchises I’ve named here – and I’ll even drop in the original, space based, Aliens movies here – you’re likely going to enjoy this book. If you like visceral survival / horror type space tales, you’re going to like this book. Again, I truly do want a sequel here, so I’m hoping either Wellington is already planning that or sales/ outcry is enough that we get one. Very much recommended.

This review of Paradise-1 by David Wellington was originally written on January 30, 2023.