Book Review: Eyes of Prey by John Sandford

WOW! Pretty messed up book!
Hello, my lovely peeps🐥!
Today’s post is a review for the third book in the Prey series, Eyes of Prey by John Sandford! I actually started to read this as I was reading Ocean Prey and to see and compare the young[er] Davenport to the current and older one was pretty fascinating to say the least.

Still, I had a blast with this book and one of my best reads of 2022 so far!

Book Description

Title: Eyes of Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport / Prey Series Book: 3
Author: John Sandford
Edition: Ebook > Libby
Length: 357 Pages
Genre/s: Fiction, Mystery, Crime, Suspense
Rating: 5 Golden Eggs

Blurb (Goodreads)

Lieutenant Davenport’s sanity was nearly shattered by two murder investigations. Now he faces something worse…Two killers. One hideously scarred. The other strikingly handsome, a master manipulator fascinated with all aspects of death. The dark mirror of Davenport’s soul…This is the case that will bring Davenport back to life. Or push him over the edge.

Review

Eyes of Prey is the third installation of the, soon to be, 32 book long Prey series by John Sandford and it focuses on a younger Lucas Davenport from back when he worked in the police as Minneapolis’ detective lieutenant. Having barely scrapped by a serial killer followed by a group of killers resulting in his daughter’s injury and his partner, Jennifer, to take their kid and go off, it’s been a hard hard time for Davenport. He’s majorly depressed and starts his side of the story off by pummeling a teen, for injuring one of his best snitches, someone who was so close to Davenport, she was “almost a friend”.

The story starts off with Stephanie Bekker, the wife of Dr. Bekker, who is killed one night, her face destroyed in the act of violence, and her eyes mutilated. A narc, by the name of Del Capslock, was there with Davenport when he beats the living hell out of the teen, and just manages to drag Davenport away before things escalate even further. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help with the internal affairs claim that shortly follows, parents of the teen accusing Davenport of police brutality with no good proof…

Everyone’s worried about the poor guy and to help him back into the game, his boss, Daniel, suggests that Davenport take up the case of Stephanie Bekker, coupled with the fact that she was Del’s cousin and this would be helping him get to the bottom of things. It’s an intriguing case for sure, the eyes were of special interest. No lover’s quarrel would usually result in eye gouging or mutilations…

Davenport agrees to just take a look into the case, but eventually finds himself very very deep in the craziest of crazy cases as he finds himself with not just one, but perhaps two people working together and of the two, at least one of them was batshit crazy. More and more bodies begin to show up, seemingly connected to the Stephanie Bekker case; all victims with their eyes either destroyed or gouged out.

I couldn’t get into this book at first. It felt slow and I didn’t know where it was going to go. Here, we are slowly [re]introduced to more characters that eventually come back again and again in the series, people like Sloan and Del. But the main point is not Davenport, or any of the good guys. Sure, he makes for a pretty good, pushing the boundaries, kind of detective, and while I love the main characters in both the Prey and Virgil Flowers series, this time I was much more interested in the killers. As things picked up, I found myself unable to back out and found none of the earlier hesitation I had when I’d first started reading.

This time, the highlight is on two killers, both awful in their own ways, but one of them is nuts while the other is somewhat more pitiable. Their names are immediately given away in the first chapter, but occasionally, Sandford refers back to them simply as “Beauty” and the “Troll” and to avoid spoilers, I’ll call them as such here too. Complete opposites, night and day, one of the killer is beautiful, so beautiful that Sandford points out multiple times through the story just how beautiful he is, either via other characters or by “Beauty” checking himself out in the mirror. The other killer works with “Beauty” and is nicknamed “Troll” for his disfigured face from a childhood burn incident, the main muscle of the duo compared to “Beauty”‘s brain behind the plans. The “Troll” is more apathetic towards the killings while “Beauty” is elated, nearly ecstatic. His own colleagues at work secretly call him Dr. Death!

I thought that “Troll” was slightly less interesting, although I felt just an ounce bit of sympathy towards him since he’s pretty much never had a friend in his life and had simply gravitated towards “Beauty” and with every successful killing and with “Beauty”‘s praise, “Troll” seemed to smile with happiness and that made me feel a little sad (still awful people though).

Of the pair, the more interesting character is “Beauty.” A doctor who self-prescribes enough drugs to kill a field of elephants, this guy’s downing pill after pill and is simply insane. I joked halfway through the book that Eyes of Prey‘s “Beauty” was a walking “Don’t Do Drugs Kids” commercial. He goes after kids, the elderly, anyone. It doesn’t matter, so long as he can watch as they pass away, stare into their eyes as they experience their last minutes. There are some terrible terrible moments in this book. He does a little “jig” dance every time he experiences a high of some sorts; sometimes from a drug high and others from watching people die. Already unhinged from the start, his mental decline from the beginning to the end was terrifying to watch.

The book takes some massive turns and there are twists everywhere, right up to the very end with the book finishing off on a plot twisting last sentence. A fantastic book and of the handful of Davenport books I’ve read so far, this has probably been the best one yet. My emotions were all over the place, heart soaring and dropping with every few chapters, especially towards the end.

I already have a favorite Sandford book (Shock Wave), and in Ocean Prey‘s review, I remarked that that had been a close second, but now, I think Eyes of Prey beats even Ocean Prey, maybe even Shock Wave! Still, there are a little over 25 books I have yet to read in the Prey series and it’s still too early to pick favorites.

Midway through Eyes of Prey, I’d begun to schedule my March and April reads. I had picked up and read the blurb of book 4 so it kind of spoiled book 3 here, but nevertheless, I cannot wait to see how things will follow, especially with how Eyes of Prey ended.

5 Shiny Shiny Eggs

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Book Review: Tomorrow’s End by G.R. Morris

Oh gods, I’m finally done. Only took me about 3 weeks…and look at the cover! I can’t stop staring at it!

Book Description

Title: Tomorrow’s End
Author: G.R. Morris
Publisher: Dark Light Publishing
Edition: Physical > Hardcover
Page: 421
Genres: Sci-fi, horror, dystopian

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me, via a Goodreads Giveaway, in exchange for a fair and honest review. This does not affect my review in any way and all opinions are my own.

TW/CW: Swearing (and a few in my review too), death, torture, death of children, torturous death, extremely graphic levels of gore, body horror, childhood abuse, abuse

Blurb from Goodreads

Do you have free will?
He never asked to be a hero, but the universe didn’t give him a choice.

Kevin Knight never wanted to be the one to save the galaxy. But when tragedy upends his life and demonic forces steal his soul, the fate of time and space are sealed. Until a scaly, trench-coat-clad alien appears and gives him a glimpse into the true nature of all things.

Astounded, Kevin learns the world he knows is merely an illusion created by alien beings who control humanity’s every move. With an invasion imminent, he must defeat the blackness and perfect his powers before the bloody battle begins.

Which prophecy will Kevin fulfill… the one of darkness or the one of light?

Review

Bizarre.
Gripping.
Occasionally cheesy.
Creative.
High tech.
Dystopian.
The matrix.
Insane levels of gore. Insane levels of gore.
Thought provoking. Mind blowing.
Sheer unbeatable levels of details.
Info dumping, but still enjoyable and attention grabbing dialogue.
Saturated in philosophy and religion.
SO MUCH CONFUSION.
So many book tabs.
So much enjoyment.
Thrills.
Chills.
Brill.

There’s no better way to start a review for this book than like this. This book left me feeling like I gained a bigger head. Someone check me. Does this book make my head look fat?

The edge of my copy looks like a candy store with how many tabs I put in. I stopped counting halfway through at around 40 flags. I found myself tabbing nearly every other paragraph because everything sounded like something my Phil 101 prof would spew out his mouth, laced with such thoughts that I had to pause and just think about what I just read for a solid minute and then moving on (saving that paragraph with a nice little tab of course). Over and over again.

It’s extremely thought provoking.

Theme wise, there’s a lot of talk about free will and choices (are you truly free?), light versus darkness, the concept of sin, morality and grey areas, the difference between murder and killing, sacrifices, religion (our Earthly religions mixed with fictional), the illusions of the world we know, the concept of destiny, what dictates our choices, what is ultimately right and wrong, the idea that souls choose their destiny and choices prior to their current mortal shells and everything they do builds on that, and so on… The strongest/main theme, is free will.

There are two major characters and both are part of the prophesy that foresees saving the universe. Kevin Knight is a 16 year old teen who, along with his mother, has lived a life of abuse under the hands of his stepfather. He’s the main character through most of this book, but somewhere midway, we are introduced to another MC, Daren, an orphan born under extraordinary circumstances. The book leaves on a cliffhanger so I’m assuming major things are coming in the future for the both of them. They both start infants to their potentials and are bound to grow and book one focuses on their initial histories, discoveries, and this growth. Then, there is a small cast of supporting characters, mainly Kevin’s trainer/teacher, Robert, (and said trainer’s sidekick, Jason).

Daren’s story, I find, to be the most interesting. Her growth is short, compared to Kevin (faster and less chapters), and she seems to realize her powers a little earlier than Kevin, despite not knowing how to fully control them. Kevin, on the other hand, has always been told he’s the Savior, but not being a believer in the religion, needed a wider growth arc filled with tons of training, realization, self-discovery, and acceptance. Both characters were so well-developed and you would watch them blossom from the seedlings they were to their current positions, their current place now in the prophesy. The ending was so unexpected that it gave me a bit of a whip-lash.

The book was so engaging and I’m invested in continuing to book two, to which I eagerly await, although with slight hesitation because this first one already threw me in a hurricane and I’m still trying to process half of what’s happened, and what’s learned.. It’s mind-blowing for sure. I repeat. This book blew my mind. It’s the type of book where, were it to be a Youtube video and if I were to do any form of drugs I’d comment, “I’m way too high for this s***.” Goes beyond shower thoughts. Beyond laying on your pillow questioning your existence and the meaning of life. The book is written in a way to provoke the reader to question reality as we see it.

There was a lot of dialogue and I really appreciated that Kevin was bloody clueless about everything as opposed to Daren who had, at least, a good handful of knowledge that had to be taught to Kevin. Why? Because I’m clueless 40% of the time while reading, and loved having Kevin act as an audience surrogate. As he learns from his trainer, we the audience learn too. There were a few moments where Kevin remarked that this was wild or his head was starting to hurt and I literally tabbed that paragraph with “You’re head hurts? B**** my head hurts!”

And so, much of the dialogue was between him and Rob (and a moment between him and himself) where everything’s pretty much taught to him. I didn’t even realize that a lot of it was essentially info dumping (it’s literally Robert teaching him everything about himself (Kevin) and the prophesy) because my mind was blown half the time and I just didn’t even notice. Don’t get me wrong in any way. I think I’m in love with the dialogue, actually.

Conclusion? No conclusion. I’m still processing half of the stuff. Have a commercial break and look at some quotes below. We will uhh -stares at cue card- resume this conversation in book two. Shoo shoo, I think I’m developing a book hangover.

“Proof is drawing a conclusion, and that conclusion isn’t always drawn from truth; they just have to believe it is. Proof is evidence when the mind is compelled to accept the evidence as true. Unbiased is not equal to objective. Even if proof was unbiased it would still not be objective.”

“How do you know that tomorrow gravity will still hold you to the ground…that the sun will still shine? How do you know I’m not still tricking your senses to believe it’s an orange, but it’s actually a pear.”

“Remember: when you decide something, you cut away all other options.”

“Fantastic. I’ve been broken out of prison by an alien…named Bob.”

“This body sheds itself and is ever growing, ever changing. Existence is malleable, your focus determines your reality.”

Renegade by Rob Sinclair [Book Review]

Title: Renegade
Series: A Ryker Returns Thriller [Book 1]
Author: Rob Sinclair 
Length: 9hrs 14 minutes
Book Type: Audiobook
Narrator: Marston York
Publisher: W.F. Howes Ltd

Obtained: NetGalley
Disclaimer: An audio-copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
TW/CW: Violence, gore, murder, death, kidnapping, torture, using someone’s child as a bargaining tool/threat

Blurb

James Ryker, a veteran intelligence agent now freelancer, working for the secretive Joint Intelligence agency on an op-by op basis, finds himself embroiled in a complicated mission that will test him to his limit.
When a simple surveillance mission goes awry and the key target is kidnapped in broad daylight in a busy London square, Ryker knows he has his work cut out.
Ryker is tasked with figuring out what went wrong. But when his good friend Sam Moreno disappears without trace, the mission becomes more personal than he could have imagined.
Torn between toeing the government line, and finding the answers he needs, Ryker realises there’s only one way to find those responsible, and to punish them.
His way.

Review

This book had me holding my breath enough to put a YA book to shame!

That’s it. That’s my one whole mood through the entire book.

===== X =====

This was my first full audiobook story that I’ve completed. I have a half-read book (that I already finished the ebook version of) in my Kindle, a choose your own story, and an anthology, but Renegade would be my first full and actual story in terms of audiobooks.

And it’s been one massive adventure with a lot of action, espionage, torture, and holding your breath because you never know if someone else was going to get caught; be that character a minor, side, or even the main character himself. Here, the fear of a character getting caught is amplified with the knowledge that the prospect of falling into enemy hands would result in something far worse than death; neverending and brutal torture. 

Now, I’ve never read any books by Rob Sinclair, let alone any of his previous series (James Ryker series) which seems to link to this one (A “Ryker Returns” thriller series), but I was able to follow through well enough despite the occasional nod to past references; minor things I didn’t particularly connect with because I didn’t read the prior series. Still, I had no problem with this book and the book, by itself, was a spectacular read.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I was going in. I only picked this one up because I was fresh out of new audiobooks which I’ve started to play during my work hours as it helped me pace my work and made the time go by quicker (not that my busy day needs any more encouragement and nudging than it already does). I was prowling the audiobook sections of NetGalley, looking specifically for a mystery thriller and eventually landed myself on this one.

It didn’t let me down.

There was so much action to be found. The story already starts off with a “babysitting” job gone wrong when a surveillance mission goes badly and is botched when their target is whisked away and eventually discovered dead. The entire operation and story only goes downhill from there and not even stopping at the ground. Instead, the floor opens up with stairways down to hell as things seem to spiral out of control over and over (with bits of luck every now and then; luck and wits).

There’s two main storylines going on at once, eventually merging into one single event as things from both sides begin to intertwine or…rather…after the stories start to come together, everything else finally began to make sense and things fall into place. The first storyline and POV, of course, belongs to James Ryker, while the second comes from a very different angle. It follows the story from Daisy Haan’s perspective on a much different case. While I was initially mostly interested only by Ryker’s story, somewhere midpoint my attention shifted massively to Daisy’s story because at that point, shit hit the fan and the hopping between their POVs drove me nuts because I NEEDED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!

Of course, halfway through Ryker’s own story, most of his personal missions were beginning to hit the fan as well and honestly, ending each chapter was painful because then it becomes a rollercoaster from one cliffhanger to another cliffhanger. Between the two POVs, there was no rest in emotions because things felt like it was spinning out of control on both ends. 

Lots of action. Lots and lots of very gorey, unsettling, and stomach turning torture. This isn’t just a plain thriller book. The amount of suspense in this book was insane. Sure, the beginning wasn’t as fast paced, even with all the action already taking place, but by the end, with each cliffhanger chapter, you were practically biting your nails waiting on this new chapter to end so that you could find out what happened to Ryker or Haan only for this chapter to also suspend you in an agonizing wait. 

My favorite thing about this book was the massive plot twist near the end of the book that left me gasping. I was not expecting it to turn up that way and it was wonderfully done because, boy was I surprised!

It was a great read that I wasn’t able to put down; easily throwing the entire book down my throat. I’ll have to eventually go back and read Rob Sinclair’s previous books to put the remaining little pieces to this puzzle together, but a fantastic and heart thumping and heart stopping first Sinclair read. 

5 Stars

Red Hail [Book Review]

To me, there’s two kinds of good: the “devoured in a single sitting good” and the “I want to savor every page” good and Red Hail was the latter.

Book Name: Red Hail
Series: Standalone Book: N/A
Author: Jamie Killen
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle 
Obtained: Review Request
Pages: 356
Genre: Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Sci-Fi
Rating: 5/5 

A copy of this book was provided to me by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are mine. 

Bookshop Link >HERE<
Goodreads Link >HERE<
Amazon Link >HERE<
Author’s Site Link >HERE<

Instead of the pale color of fresh ice, though, the hailstones had the raw crimson hue of uncooked meat. As Anza watched, they piled and began to melt while new stones fell onto the slush. It only took a minute for Dove’s front yard to transform into a red mass of gore. It sluiced down her driveway and into the road, forming a river of blood flowing down the slope

Page 6, Red Hail by Jamie Killen

Summary

Taking place in two timelines, 2020 and 1960, Red Hail weaves a story that connects both timelines together with a mysterious illness. Those that lived and survived through that horrid summer, back in 1960, wanted nothing more than to forget about the incident. 

The 1960 Red Hail was described as an incident where pieces of red hail fell from the skies in Galina, Arizona. Residents of Galina had no idea where it came from or what it was, only that it came suddenly and that the mysterious illness quickly followed. Paranoia and mass violence began to rip the town apart, in a witch hunt style, as fingers were pointed and races and religions were blamed to be the root cause of this madness. And then, just as instantly as the red hail and illness arrived to plague Galina, it had disappeared without a trace. In the end, the incident was written off as a summer of mass hysteria, there were no other new patients to follow nor did those already plagued with the symptoms continue to have them.

60 years afterwards, we follow the story of Professor Colin Ayres and his partner Alonzo. Colins had spent years researching the incident and had concluded it to be mass hysteria. However, soon Alonzo begins to exhibit the same symptoms as the Galina residents had several decades ago. As Alonzo’s condition worsens and others begin to show the same exact symptoms, Colin must get to the bottom of what’s happening and quick. 

Review

My take on this book? I loved it. To pieces. I shivered under blankets because of this book. Not particularly scary in any paranormal way, the symptoms that the people suffering from the illness displayed where horrifying to imagine. Coming in stages, the first stage wasn’t particularly terrifying but the second sure was. Hell, even when the illness progressed further, I think it was the second stage that still terrified me the most. Because it wasn’t human. The symptoms shown by those struck with the illness felt unreal, nightmare-like, and were very otherworldly. The chills crept in when you could feel Colin’s cold almost-lonely fear, through the pages, as he watches these symptoms develop in his beloved partner and he can’t do anything about it because nothing makes any medical sense! Even medicine can help alleviate symptoms when you can’t cure the disease, but what medicine do you give for symptoms that have no explanation? Alonzo (and the others suffering) doesn’t recall any of this. He just blacks out, one minute talking and the next wondering why people were staring at him.

I loved the split between the two set of characters and timelines. In the present day timeline, we have Colin, his partner Alonzo, and another person who makes contact with the professor after they also begin to exhibit symptoms. In 1960, we have a similar group of people who are going through the same thing. One tale shows the very beginning of when everything started and one tale uses the clues left behind by those same people to understand what’s happening in present day.

I loved both settings and characters, though the story in 1960 was much more riveting to read as people tried to piece together what the hells happening, but since they couldn’t, they turned to violence. The 1960 tale revolved around a much larger set of characters (besides the main three, there were also many different families, different churches, politicians and such). If I had to briefly sum them both up 2020: time to solve this mystery using clues from the first “plague” and 1960: chaos.

Absolutely a shining gem, the characters felt so real and all their fears tingled my own heart. People were frustrated, no answers were given, and by the end of the first “plague,” back in 1960, the residents didn’t even get any closure, the mysterious illness simply vanished. They just…had to move on with their lives like they aren’t all traumatized bringing us to 2020 where the mystery continues.

There were also several very strong female characters that I loved; a single mother who just wanted to get to the bottom of this thing plaguing both her and her son, and two in 1960 Galina who were there to experience the beginning of the end of the town when the hail first fell. 

The violence and riots that summer in 1960 felt so real. It gave the reader an huge sense of insecurity and it felt like nobody was safe, be it from the illness or the violence. You never know who was up next to fall ill. You don’t know whose is getting blamed next. Religion played a huge part because the first thing many folks think, when the sky rains blood, is that the end of the world is coming or it’s the devil’s work. And in times of uncertainty, many turn to prayers and look towards the church’s guidance and it’s up to the church leaders to act appropriately because desperate people are probably the scariest people out there. They will believe any theory and will do anything to get rid of the illness in a very violent “ends justify the means” way.

Eyes glued to the book, I went in slow, I went through slow, and when I realized the book was beginning to draw to an end, my paced dropped even further, I didn’t want it to end. 

Yet another hidden sci-fi gem, I had an amazing read.
Thank you Jamie for reaching out and for the amazing book!

Book Review: Storm Front by John Sandford

Book Name: Storm Front
Series: Virgil Flowers Series Book: 7
Author: John Sandford
Book Type: Physical > Hardcover
Obtained: Library > Borrowed
Pages: 376
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Suspense
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ (3.5)

Link to Goodreads >HERE<
Link to Amazon >HERE<

Goodreads Summary

In Israel, a man clutching a backpack searches desperately for a boat. In Minnesota, Virgil Flowers gets a message from Lucas Davenport: You’re about to get a visitor. It’s an Israeli cop, and she’s chasing a man who’s smuggled out an extraordinary relic — an ancient inscribed stone revealing startling details about the man known as King Solomon.

“Wait a minute,” laughs Virgil. “Is this one of those mystical movie-plot deals? The secret artifact, the blockbuster revelation, the teams of murderous bad guys? Should I be boning up on my Bible verses?” He looks at the investigator. She’s not laughing.

As it turns out, there are very bad men chasing the relic, and they don’t care who’s in the way or what they have to do to get it. “They’re crazies,” she says.

“What kind of crazies?”

“Palestinian crazies, Syrian crazies, Egyptian crazies, maybe a couple of Israeli crazies. Turks. Some Americans, too, I suppose. Maybe the Pope.”

Perhaps Virgil should start praying.

Review

Moving on to the next book in the Virgil Flowers series, I found myself reading Storm Front; book 7. Like with every book (and most products when I go shopping), I made sure to take a quick peek at the reviews, first, and wished I hadn’t.

Storm Front was written by John Sandford who had mentioned that this novel was written with the help of his partner, Michele Cook. That alone, I had absolutely no problems with until I came across a couple of reviews that wondered if the book was even written by Sandford. I ended up going into this book with a “different set of lens,” ones that had me constantly looking for moments of “Is this Sandford’s writing? Is this the Virgil I know and love?”

That said, I ended up enjoying it anyways. I didn’t even know what I was so worried and worked up over. By the end, I was even disappointed that I questioned anything. While I did get a sense of “Virgil seems more on edge this time around” compared to all the previous times he (and others) have been in serious danger, I chalked it up to him being very angry over Jone’s actions throughout the book, considering his role as a professor and a minister. Weren’t ministers supposed to be good and not cause harm…?

The BCA agent had been working on a fake antique lumber case when he was called in to investigate a dying runaway Lutheran minister and professor who had found and later stolen an ancient stone, a stele, from an archaeological dig in Israel. Jones had grabbed the stone [in the middle of the night] sped down an Israeli highway [in a stolen car], pretty much threatened his way into landing a boat ride and then managed to smuggle the stele into the US where he remained in hiding. All Virgil wanted to do was track the stone down, send it home to Israel, and continue with his lumber case. A simple thief and smuggling case, how hard would it be?

Except things are never that simple with Virgil Flowers; his luck simply would not have it. Dying from cancer and knowing he had a short time left in this world, Elijah Jones had stolen the stele with plans on auctioning it off to the highest bidder so that he could obtain enough funds to cover for his wife, who is residing in a care home with Alzheimer’s, after his death. Now, not only do the Israelis want the stone back, but with the discovery of the stele, it’s what’s written on the stone that’s important. If what’s inscribed on the stele is true, history could be upturned and would need to be rewritten and there are people who aren’t going to just sit there and let that happen.

When Davenport starts the call off with “Got an assignment for you…easy duty” you probably shouldn’t believe it. It was wild from the beginning to end; “Don’t things like this only happen in movies?” kind of wild. With plot twists sprinkled in, this book is fast paced and I found myself occasionally lost and having to flip back to understand what the hell was going on and what the hell just happened. There are multiple parties involved, most of them being the bidders: A Texan, some TV celebrity of sorts, a pair of scary(ish) Turks, Hezbollah, an Israelis antique dealer, and maybe even the Israeli intelligence agency.

The plot, boiled down, is really just chasing after Jones, and the stone, making sure nobody else gets their hands on the stele, and making sure nobody gets hurt. Get the stone, send it back, and get back to lumber business.

The book was pretty humorous at times (considering the stakes and people getting hurt). There were bits of comedic relief in between all of the craziness that I appreciated. It made the book fun to read and get through. The plot and storyline may not have been my favorite, but by the time I finished I was well surprised. I had gone in expecting it to be as bad as the reviews made it out to be but ended up being disappointed in myself for thinking so at all. Virgil, even if he’s a bit more tense, is still the same old Virgil that I love. There wasn’t much of his usual womanizing this time around, which I found as strangely relieving, but his humor and quick thinking remains the same. Virgil being Virgil? That’s all I care about. That’s all I NEED when reading a Virgil Flowers book.

Not my favorite book in the series, but still a highly enjoyable read. I can’t wait to get into book 8.

Walks with Sam – Book Review

Book Name: Walks with Sam: A Man, a Dog, and a Season of Awakening
Series: [Standalone] Book : N/A
Author: David W. Berner
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Netgalley)
Obtained: Netgalley > Read Now
Pages: 169 (Kindle)
Genre: Animals > Dogs, Non-fiction > Autobiography > Memoir
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Disclaimer: An e-copy of this book was provided to me via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are of my own.

Goodreads Summary:

A man, his dog, and a long walk can lead to unexpected discoveries. In the tradition of many literary walkers, David W. Berner sets out on foot hoping to reexamine his life, look back and forward, and most importantly, through the help of his young dog, Sam, try to find harmony in new beginnings and the uncertainties of the present.

In a series of chapters, each dedicated to one walk during a summer of hiking, the author finds that it is his beloved pet that allows him to awaken to a new spirit of mindfulness, finding beauty, wonder, and comfort in the ordinary, and to see a life, a neighborhood, and even a country with brand new eyes.

Review:

Slow paced and an easy read, I found myself feeling “bored” but not really. Maybe the word I’m looking for is tranquil or meditative. A page turner in its own way, I quite enjoyed reading this book because of how different it is to my usual reads. I think with so much rushing around in life, we tend to forget about the smaller things. This is a nonfiction book about a man, his dog and their walks. A beautiful concoction that mixes the daily mundane task of walking the dog and rediscovering yourself, Walks with Sam sparked a warmth in me that left me craving adopting a dog of my own an attempt to slow down and just muse about the wonders of life. I don’t have a dog of my own, but I do commute to and from work via walking and both journeys I tend to power walk to the destination, on auto mode, with nothing in mind except for my day ahead and the day gone past.

For some of us, walking the dog (or commuting from point A to B), even with an abundance of time, may be a bullet point, a check box, a line off your daily to-do list. When your brain goes into auto mode, it’s no harder or different of a task than getting your coffee, climbing into your car, and heading to work. Walking the dog is part of [a dog owner’s] life. It’s not something we think about. The task just gets done.

Walks with Sam is written from the viewpoint of the author, David. Having turned 60 and taking a break from teaching, David begins to document his walks with Sam looking for new meanings in life along with the little older ones hidden by the fog of the hustle and bustle of youth and work. We rush to the coffee shop to find the long line there so you end up rushing to the train that [now] you’ve just missed, and then rushing 5 minutes late into work with half the coffee already consumed. Of course you’re not going to take a moment to smell the flowers. But when you’re 60, and taking a sabbatical from work, you had a lot of time to think about a lot of things.

The chapters in this book are broken down into walks around the block such as Walk 4 revolving around David’s interaction with a neighbor that he, at first, deemed as a little off or Walk 22 revolving around training Sam via the goodness of bacon (😩 🥓) or Walk 26 as David contemplates about the concept of Aloneness.

Filled with the muses of one man, inspired by his dog and the world around him (and books!), each chapter is full of thoughts or little philosophical moments. He started documenting these walks with the purpose of rediscovering himself, what he loved and held close to him, who he was before and who he is now. The entire tone and mood of the book is calm, quiet, and soothing and it’s definitely a book to reread every now and then when you’re looking for things to think about.

I absolutely adorned the book, author and his dog. Sam has the playful energy of any puppy turning into an adolescent. Exploration and discovery comes in all forms from the grass to that rustle up there in the tree. Trains are scary. People are exciting. Bacon is delicious. Catch me if you can. The conversations between David and Sam are endearing and adorable. He’s having whole conversations with Sam, with the assumption that hopefully Sam actually understands a good portion of it. There’s even a chapter/walk in there where David, himself, muses about how there are some owners, like his wife Leslie, that speak to their dogs with words that most dog owners say: phrases, discipline, and announcements and then there are those that speak of whole stories with their dogs.

There was a lovely moment in the book where David is pretty much talking and musing out loud to Sam who is just being a dog, taking in the environment and not really paying attention. I loved that scene the most because it reminds me of the times I have lived with dogs myself and sometimes it’s better to just have someone listening to you, even if they aren’t particularly paying attention or even understanding what you are saying. It’s nice to have someone just lay there (or walking) and listening to you ramble on and on and not judge you.

A lovely read with plenty of things to learn off of, this is a book that I could honestly reread again or at least flag certain walks to glimpse through on during bad days.