Spotlight: We Are 100 by Nathan Timmel

Featured Books

Wow, that was amazing!
That’s what went through my mind as I tried to stay composed after closing the book.
What I physically did was squeal until my mam looked at me like, “What’s wrong with this chick, now??”

I just finished reading “We Are 100” by Nathan Timmel and while I haven’t had time to sit and write the actual review (By the time I finish up this spotlight post for schedule, it’ll be well into the midnight of an alarm day *sob*) but hey! That means more to look forward to, after work, tomorrow! Not that anyone really needs more of an incentive to want to go home on a Monday.

So a spotlight it is.
I look forward to writing the review.
And hope it does the book enough justice without me shoving the book at people’s faces like “READ! IT!”

We Are 100 by Nathan Timmel

Bookcover of a book with multiple blank photos, one of which has a bloody red X across the profile. The author's name, Nathan Timmel, is across the upper right in all lower case while a chalk like font spells out the title of the book in upper case lettering. The title sandwiches "ARE" in between "We" and "100" totaling three lines of the title "We Are 100"
Cover is grey scale with the red X and all title and author font is in black.

Blurb (from Goodreads)

After losing his wife, Evan Francart is depressed. He has an axe to grind with the pharmaceutical company that jacked up the price of her medications, but feels powerless against a billion-dollar corporation.Then he meets Cassandra.She shows Evan a way to both end his life and become a hero. With her guidance, Evan interrupts a company board meeting and blows the building sky-high.As FBI agents Susan Chamberlain and Michael Godwin discover, Evan is the first of many. Ninety-nine more like him wait anonymously in the wings, their targets just as personal as Evan’s: the prosecutor who lets rapists walk free, the inept surgeon who maims patients yet keeps operating, the phony evangelist preying on those seeking solace… and that’s just the beginning.Will the FBI unearth Cassandra’s identity before all 100 have carried out their plans?

About the Author (from the back of his book)

Nathan has been writing since he could scribble using crayons. As a comedian, he has released six albums that can be streamed on Pandora, Spotify, or anywhere else you stream your audio-based entertainment. Should you be interested in parting with your hard-earned cash, these albums can be purchased anywhere and everywhere (e.g., Amazon, Apple Music, Google Play, etc.)

Nathan has told jokes all over the world, Iraq and Afghanistan included, for American troops stationed far from home.

Nathan currently lives in Iowa (on purpose) with his wife, kids, and cat named Turtle.

(You can thank the daughter-unit for that.)

He is an avid fan of Billy and the Boingers, and enjoys a fine pair of pants.

Nathan has written more nonsense than you can shake a stick at, including:

  • I Was a White Knight… Once
  • It’s OK to Talk to Animals (and Other Letters from Dad)
  • Hey Buddy (Dubious Advice from Dad)

Please visit nathantimmel.com for anything and everything Nathan-related. Look for his podcast, “Idiots on Parade,” wherever you find your favorite podcasts, and his vodcast, “Artificially Intelligent,” on Youtube.

If you can, go see Nathan perform live. Failing that, dial up his YouTube channel. You’ll giggle and have a good time.

Promise.

===== 🎙 =====

Esther note: Don’t worry Nathan. At least your kid was more imaginative than I was as a child. I named my pets [turtles], “Turtle A and Turtle B”…

Renegade by Rob Sinclair [Book Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

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

Mordecai’s Ashes [Book Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year


Book Name: Mordecai’s Ashes
Series: Larsson Investigations Book: 1
Author: Arlana Crane
Book Type: Physical > Paperback
Pages: 350
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Suspense

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

A big thank you to Arlana for sending me a copy!

Trigger Warnings and Content Warnings: Drugs, mention of drug related death, death, blood and gore, violence, guns

When I received it, I was obsessed over the cover. The combination of the raindrops and color choices made for a beautiful cover! It wraps around to the back of the book too!
The PI field is worlds away from his old job!

His wife has left him and he’s out of a job, luck isn’t on Karl Larsson’s side and it doesn’t look like it’s picking up anytime soon either. He’s distant from his family aside from his sister who, while being a bit naggy, is halfway across the globe and still makes sure to check in on him from time to time. Even if her calls can occasionally be a little bit condescending, Karl still favors her as his favorite sibling, because after all, it’s either Tilly (Matilda) or his two brothers and he much rather a call from her than a call from either Jakob or Liam.

Having his life rolled downhill and currently living in the valley of it all, his future didn’t seem promising…at least until he suddenly inherits his grandfather’s detective agency from his aunt Matilda’s will. He’s shocked, because he doesn’t even know his grandfather! 

But it was either this agency or working in Liam’s trucking business and Karl would rather eat a hornet’s nest than do that! Besides, it seemed interesting enough, even if he has no experience as a PI. With his previous job as an oil worker at the rigs, the detective world is a brand new world to him. His only resources are the file cabinets of records, invoices, procedures and processes, clients and contacts left over from the business’s previous owner. Now, at 27, Karl Larsson is the new owner of Abrams Investigations.

Taking on small cases initially (tracking down ex-partners gone poof with delinquent child-support payments and background checks), he later on hires his cousin, Kelsey, to help with the business. It’s just the two of them taking on small case after small case until he is hired by an old acquaintance and client of his grandfather to take a look at a drug smuggling case. With the matter being quite personal to his new client, Karl is both intrigued and excited, his first big job!

It’s not until shit hits the fan does Karl learn that he’s in way over his head, but at that point, he’s in too deep! With no options in backing out of this, it’s either forward or die!

Review

Engaging with solid characters, I found myself flying through the book. This book takes off right away. There’s no dilly-dalling on how Karl inherits Abrams Investigations. He’s on a call with Tilly to accompany his mother to the lawyer to discuss Matilda’s will and bam, our MC goes from broke, jobless, and living in his sister’s apartment to the owner of a business.

The family in the book consists of Karl’s mother, who comes off as kind of cold to me(?), Karl’s sister Matilda (or Tilly), and his brothers Liam and Jakob. There’s also Aunt Matilda (Tilly’s namesake) who has recently passed and then there’s Mordecai, Karl’s grandfather who he’s never met, the previous owner of Abrams Investigations. With all of Karl’s siblings being pretty successful people (Jakob being a commercial real estate broker, Liam with his trucking business, and Tilly halfway through her 2-year teaching contract (teaching English in Beijing), Karl’s the odd duckling out after losing his job and wife. He’s pretty estranged with his family with the sole exception of Tilly and even she’s barely making it. 

There’s always some form of obligatory love interest in these kind of books and when Karl’s cousin, Kelsey, is introduced as the main supporting female character, let me tell you the joy I felt…! Sure, nothing’s wrong with romance, but sometimes books that don’t need romance just always has that one love interest that always leads to that (minimum) one kiss scene. It’s refreshing. And speaking of Kelsey…

Smart as a whip, she is Karl’s younger cousin. While they haven’t really spoken in the last few years (her introduction scene is a whole “dang you grew!” “Well yeah I not 12 anymore, cuz 😒 ” moment), she is also one of the few that he’s always enjoyed being around besides Tilly. She helps him tend the office and hold down the fort when he’s away on jobs and is Karl’s brain to his drug-ring busting case. Her help was crucial early and Karl wouldn’t have made it as far without her. I really enjoyed her character.

Karl’s character is also written very well and you can see the pasture in him when trying to picture how green he is at this new job. He’s an ex-oiler worker and everyone in the family expects him to sell the business right away so that he can make enough profit to sustain him in his current down-on-luck situation. When he takes interest in Abrams, everyone, including Tilly, doesn’t expect him to make it far. The phrase “playing detective” is thrown around a lot as Karl not only struggles to understand PI work and keep the business going, but now he has to prove to his family that he means it when he said he was taking over. There are moments where I argued out loud with Karl because of something he did that was incredibly risky…but he doesn’t know better. He doesn’t have the mindset or caution of a man with years of detective experience. How could I be mad?

The other minor characters all have quite a bit life to them as well, even if some only get a flash moment in the book. You sort of get to know about Mordecai as Karl goes through past clients and cases (as well as from friends and family). You get to know Karl’s brothers who come off as very “All business, no need for friends” people. You meet Mordecai’s old friends, the downstairs bookshop owner, Percy, and his old client (and also friend) the reporter John Fullerton who is responsible for Karl’s first big case. John’s interest in this case is so passionate and this case is so personal to him, you just want to keep reading to see the reason behind the hatred.. There are plenty of other characters and some are a bit shady; you can easily tell who seems to be the bad guy in this book. Even as sketchy as they are, they’re written in a way that makes you feel almost sorry for them (ALMOST). 

Besides the characters, the writing itself is also done nicely. Engaging, engrossing and captivating, the writing in this book is smooth. The words flow well and it’s easy to read. The plot is great as well. We waste no time in how Karl receives the business and it goes straight to business as he learns to run Abrams. While it does slow down (just a little bit) after he takes over, it’s mostly because he’s taking on mostly only small cases as he learns the rope of the detective role. It’s not long before we get to the big-juicy steak of the story. Even the slow moments are filled with getting to know characters. After all, you have to show the readers that Karl is new and it’s a pretty big leap from small delinquent payors and background checks to a major high-risk drug smuggling case (with, mind you, no supervisor to seek tips and help from…only…only cabinets of old files, his cousin and his wits to guide him).

After Karl takes on the drug case, the plot gets intense. It’s truly a “hold your breath” moment then because Karl is really in it and there’s no turning back from it.

My last few mystery thrillers have all been police procedural and the MCs are generally part of the state or government. It’s been a while since I read a PI book and the dangers of the job really shows (not that being a cop is any more or less dangerous). However, as a PI and with Karl not fully knowing the law, he takes major risks and he goes in alone with only his cousin knowing where he might be. There’s no reporting to an upper supervisor. There’s no “I need back up!” It’s Karl alone out there and Kelsey alone to direct him. Both are untrained and new to the profession and it adds to the thrill and danger factor. 

A great book that is full of thrilling moments, you sit there in fear with Karl as he investigates this case. There are bar scenes and stealth scenes, there are scary moments and then there are head-thrown-back laughing moments. An enjoyable and smooth read, this book has well written characters and an engaging plot full of tension and breath holding moments. There’s a major twist in the end that I absolutely got a kick out of.

A great read, I give this book 5 cozy cups of coffee!

Teaser Tuesday 12-15-20

Tea Corner (Blog)

It’s Teaser Tuesday! A weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker where all you have to do is to grab your current read, pick a random page, and select a non-spoiler sentence or two (from somewhere on that page) to share! If you enjoy the teaser, you might even want to add it to your own TBR!

This Week’s Teaser is…

“He limped up the road to where the little orange beater waited, unlocked the door with unsteady hands, and slid carefully into the driver’s seat, even though he felt more like collapsing. He struggled out of his backpack and placed it on the seat beside him, then took several slow, deep breaths before starting the engine.”

Mordecai’s Ashes by Arlana Crane

If you liked what you just read…

The lines are from Mordecai’s Ashes by Arlana Crane!

GOODREADS SUMMARY

Karl Larsson is an out of work roughneck, home from the oil fields of Alberta and back on the west coast for the first time in years. His wife has left him and his future looks bleak. Becoming a detective is the last thing on his mind, but when Karl learns that he has inherited his estranged grandfather’s agency he decides to take a chance.

He doesn’t expect much action in a city as small as Victoria, BC, but Karl soon finds that Victoria is only the base of operations. His grandfather’s business took him across the length and breadth of Vancouver Island, and the Island is a world unto itself, with a culture all its own.

When a reporter from a national news agency asks him to investigate a drug running operation on the Island, Karl is drawn into a dangerous game. Finding the truth sounds simple in theory, but as Karl delves deeper he begins to realize that more than his life may be at stake.

Goodreads Link >HERE<
Barnes & Nobles Link >HERE<
Amazon Link >HERE<

Red Hail [Book Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

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!

The Contractor [Book Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: The Contractor
Series: The Fellowship Trilogy Book: 1
Author: David Scott Meyers
Book Type: Physical > Paperback
Obtained: Review Request
Pages: 302
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Crime, Suspense
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me, by the author, in exchange for a fair and honest review. The fact that the book was given to me did not alter my ratings/judgement of the book in any way. All opinions in this review are of my own.

Book’s Amazon Page >HERE<
Author’s Website >HERE<
Book’s Goodreads Page >HERE<

🥡 Book Review To Go Please!! 🥡

The first book of the Fellowship Trilogy, this book sets in the fictional town of Fellowship, Tennessee. Elias Morgan is the descendent of one of the first settlers, the farm belonging to his family even before Tennessee was a state! But now the farm is in need of repairs and it’s pretty hard to keep up maintenance when you’re getting old! Morgan hires a contractor to help sturdy up the barn, but he soon disappears during construction.

This book was a pretty good book. A quick read, I managed to power through it in a few days, always eager to see the next scene and chapters. I was intrigued in the beginning and I was intrigued to the end. Things happened that I wanted resolved but the book ends up on a cliffhanger (sort of).

The writing is VERY interesting. This book is heavy on dialogue with two separate times where a single character went into a 6 page speech describing two different memories. The book seems to divide into two separate “arcs” of sort where the beginning revolved around Morgan and the hired private contractor and the second half revolving around the town’s deputy.

The book has interesting font that took a bit to get used to, but was refreshingly new to read and actually made it easier to fly through the story. There are lovely drawings in the book to help with imagery, illustrated by the author’s daughter, Hannah Nicole Meyers and the drawings made me realize how much I missed reading the books I read as a kid. Those always had plenty of pictures to go around.

A good read and looking forward to book two, this one gets a 3⭐️

The book was illustrated by the author’s daughter, Hannah.

🍽 Book Review for Here! 🍽

The first book out of my reading and blog hiatus: The Contractor by David Scott Meyers. The most captivating part about this book was the fact that there were pictures (illustrated by the author’s daughter, Hannah Nicole Meyers). While there are some adult books out there with a few pictures in them, I don’t come across those books often and it took seeing these illustrations to realize just how much I’ve missed reading books with pictures in them. Part of a trilogy, “The Contractor” is the first book of the three taking place in the fictional town of Fellowship, Tennessee with two main POV characters and another minor but just as important character.

The author, David, discussed in his preface, how the book came to be. Knowing that he had written a screenplay for another film, David’s brother, Jeff, had gone to him with another idea for a script. Several handwritten pages of notes later, the foundation of what eventually became “The Contractor” was born. I don’t usually read the preface page of most books. I have a tendency to skip everything until I reach either the prologue or the first chapter of the book. For this book, however, I ended up reading the entire preface explaining how “The Contractor” was started and written. I think having read that the book started out as a script idea helped me through the book because I’m going to end up talking a lot about the interesting writing style here. 

I noticed a few things going into the book. The font, first of all, was bold and popped right out at you. The change up of fonts from the traditional sets of writing fonts to something so…different took a little getting used to, but man it made reading a lot of fun. Heck, even middle grade books aren’t written in fonts like these and it helped make “The Contractor” really stand out. I feel like the font was part of the reason I managed to fly through this book when I was already going through a tough month. 

The Font

Then, there were the pages and pages of dialogue and monologues or memory scenes. I counted one dialogue, where a character was telling another of what their relationship was with each other. While it started off as an exchange between the two men, it eventually ended up being roughly 6-7 pages of one man’s story as the other laid there listening. There was, however, a couple of brief sentences (about five) to break up the speech.

Again, only two chapters later, we have the same man telling a waitress another story; one of how he finally bested his long time bully in one thing, when a woman had chosen him over the bully and how she eventually became his wife. At this point, I just sat there reading and going, “Man this guy sure likes to talk. Like. A LOT.” 

But I chalked it up to his character. The man doing all of this talking is Elias Morgan, the story revolves around him, a contractor, and the town deputy. Old and lonely, his wife having passed only 6 months ago, Elias doing a whole lot of talking was only natural. 

The only other reason I could come up with, in explaining the heavy dialogue/speeches, was because the book started out as a script idea. When I’m thinking about scripts (at least for me), dialogue and single-man speeches come to mind easily. There was a bit more of showing versus telling and when I wrap it all up, it does indeed feel a bit like a script where actors are given dialogue to read out loud with actions and cues to nudge the direction of where the scene is going. It made for an interesting read.

The most interesting moment came in the beginning of the book when there was a quick character POV change from one character to another in the middle of the same paragraph before returning to the initial character’s POV in the next paragraph. It was the strangest thing and it threw me off for a bit. 

The book, as promised, was a quick read. I was able to fly my way through the book. The writing style was interesting, the plot made me angry (the ending annoyed me), and honestly I wanted to get through the book as quickly as I can to see if retribution and justice would be served. I was disappointed to be left on a cliffhanger so I guess we’ll just have to see in the next book what happens. 

All in all, it was a pretty good book that I devoured in days. There are books that just feel slow and ten pages feel like a hundred while other books go by with a hundred feeling like ten pages. “The Contractor” was the latter and I just wanted to keep flipping just so I could SEE if what I wanted to happen was going to happen (like every mystery book I was painfully wrong. This is why I’m not a detective ah haha). However, unlike the rest of my favorite mystery thriller books, in which cases are usually solved by the end of the book, this is a trilogy. Who knows? Maybe I’m right about my list of sketchy people by the end of the third book!

There wasn’t much I was unhappy about. The font was pretty cool and different from the rest of [literally all] of the other books I’ve ever read and it felt kind of refreshing (albeit needing to get used to it first). The writing is the thing that really pops out at you. The characters felt a little rushed (I can’t explain it. It’s just a feeling). The writing was full of dialogue and twice did a man just go into a speech, talking about his memories (breathe Elias breathe!!) and there was that weird POV change mid-paragraph. 

At the end of the day, the writing wasn’t such a bad thing. It just made for an interesting and new experience. 

David, thank you for a great read. I’ll be sure to check out the second book when I have the time! 

Now, time to refill my coffee mug. Toodles!

Storm Front [Book Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

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.