Saturday, October 29, 2016

Review: Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

Manfred Bernardo, Midnight resident psychic, has gone to Dallas for a few days to do personal readings. He has a suite in a pricey hotel. One of his favorite clients, Rachel, a wealthy woman who comes to Manfred to connect with her recently dead husband, Morton, dies just as Morton comes through and touches his wife's fingertips. Manfred sees Rachel let go of her earthly form gladly follow. Could the day get any worse?

Not unless you consider the murder and suicide of the couple Manfred saw in the dining room the night before with Olivia. Three deaths in the same hotel in the same day will not look good to the police -- and it doesn't.

Reporters lay siege to Manfred's house, disturbing the usually quiet Midnight. Now that the old hotel has been renovated and 4 senior citizens are living their full time, supposedly waiting for a spot to open up in a nearby senior community.  The Rev takes in a young boy of about 8 whose appearance changes daily.  His rapid maturation has not gone unnoticed as one of the new residents from the Midnight Hotel stops by Fiji's to let her know he and the ladies noticed. Joe Strong tells Fiji someone needs to get rid of the extra attention before the next full moon.

After Barry the Bellhop arrives in town, he brings the solution, but not without the promise of more trouble.  His grandfather, Shorty, was moved from his Las Vegas to the hotel with the other three senior citizens. As always, nothing remains quiet for long in Midnight and Fiji, Olivia, and Manfred will have to sort it out.

The Midnight series has three books in the series so far. Day Shift is the second in Charlaine Harris's latest supernatural series. It seldom takes long before Charlaine drops a series and moves on to the next supernatural venue, I don't hold out much hope anything will change, not even with the new NBC series, Midnight, Texas debuting in 2017. At least, Barry the Bellhop and Quinn, characters from the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, add a bit of spice to the life in Midnight with a promise of more trouble to follow.

Once again, I have been drawn in Charlaine's storytelling and her ability to show how easy it is to slip over the line into the supernatural with her. Although the NBC series will be bloodier and scarier, there is no end to the mysteries found in Midnight. The only denizen of this haven not present is resident vampire, Lemuel Bridger, who is tracking down someone to help him translate some of the books Bobo Winthrop stored away. No doubt Lemuel will be back in time for the Night Shift.  

Charlaine Harris's cozy mysteries spins a nepotistic web between all of her supernatural southern stories. The storytelling shares the seductive quality of many southern tales, treating the strange and supernatural as nothing out of the ordinary. The veil between the mundane and the special is thinnest the South. Manfred mentions Sookie Stackhouse when Olivia discovers Barry is reading her mind. Midnight, Texas it seems is not so far removed from Bon Temps, Louisiana after all. In the end, Midnight's denizens welcomes a new resident who adds a special touch to the neighborhood. Definitely 4/5 stars for Day Shift because I know I won't get to visit Midnight for long. At least I have another piece to the puzzle that is Olivia.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Where is Obama Now?

Obama has been selling man-made climate change for the past 8 years and claiming climate change is behind the fighting in Syria and the reason for hordes of Syrian immigrants (most of whom are not from Syria or women and children) rampaging across Europe. In the 7th century and during the Dark Ages, the immigrants raging throughout Europe were Muslim jihadists as the Ottoman Empire spread death and chaos in order to convert Christians, Jews, and pagans to Islam. The same force still spreads death and war throughout the war, not for the Ottoman Empire, but in the name of the Islamic State and for the same reason: Death to infidels. The infidels are everyone who refuses to bow to Allah and the Islamic jihad.

Climate change is the boondoggle Obama, as the front man for the Global Elite, has been selling for the New World Order, a world with no boundaries governed by one man, one religion, and one world. Even Pope Francis has been selling a world without boundaries, but Pope Francis believes the one religion will be the Roman Catholic Church while Obama may be pushing Islam. There's no telling with Obama since he lies with pathologic regularity -- about everything, especially climate change.

There is climate change, and some of it is man made, but it is not the result of SUVs and cars and buses and planes. The Pacific Ocean is dying and heating up because of the 9.0 earthquake that rocked Fukushima, Japan and caused a nuclear meltdown from the power plants along the fault line that have been spilling radioactive waste into the ocean and killing marine life every day for the past 4 years.

In what has been called an extinction level accident that includes the entire Pacific Ocean in the Ring of Fire, radioactive waste from Fukushima has killed, and keeps killing, everything from plankton and krill to the larger animals that depend on both for food. The tuna and salmon wild caught from the Pacific are full of radioactive waste and the unexplained deaths of walrus and seal communities up and down the west coast of the Americas are a direct result of thousands of tons of radioactive waste spewing from Fukushima that are also heating up the oceans.

The most I've seen and heard about this disaster and its implications for the planet are in brief side notes in the mainstream media, which is why I go to the alternative media for the facts and honest reporting.

While Obama continues touring with his man-made climate change as a result of too many cars and fossil fuels, he seems to have left out the Fukushima disaster that has been destroying the Pacific Ocean and killing all life within it's reach, and the radioactive waste has a very wide reach as can be seen in the above diagram.

The worst part of this news isn't that the facts have been somehow missed in the mainstream media reports over the past 4 years and from Obama's climate change spiel is that the Japanese government knows that it does not have the technology to repair the damage to the power plants or to this planet's oceans and the lives lost. And no one is talking about it. Not Obama. Not the prime ministers of the world's governments. Not the European Union. Not Pope Francis. Not anyone except for the report linked above.

The continuing Fukushima disaster affects every government, every country, and every person, plant, and life on this planet and no one has the tools to repair the damage. By the time the tools and technology are available, there won't be a planet or a life left to save and no one to laugh at Obama and the man-made climate change scientists that continue to blame the undocumented and unproven rise in global temperatures.

Don't worry about World War III and who will drop the nuclear bomb that will begin a nuclear holocaust. We're dying now and have been dying by inches for 4 years as raw radioactive waste has daily poured into the Pacific Ocean.

That is all. Disperse.

Review: Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

After the disappointing and out of character ending of the Sookie Stackhouse series and being left hanging with Charlaine Harris's other two short-lived series, I swore would never read another Harris book. Then I saw the trailer for a new series set in Midnight, Texas and was hooked. Maybe, I thought, this time the series will last longer than 3 books.

That is the problem with Charlaine Harris. She draws me in with complex characters, hooks me with interesting relationships, and leaves me hanging when she moves on to new characters, new situations, and the same provocative come hither sideshow buildup only to be let down again and again. Sookie Stackhouse was different in that the series had a much longer and more fascinating life. Charlaine let me down (let all her readers down) when it became clear she was no longer interested in Sookie, the vampires, or the were creatures and was only phoning it in. The ending to Sookie's story was a let down and the last couple of books the characters were not acting like themselves like a lover hot one minute and frigid in the end.

Here I am into the second book in the Midnight Texas series, Midnight Crossroad and I can already see the hook and know without doubt that I will be left hanging again. Maybe not since the books have sparked a new TV series that feels different from the life of Manfred Bernardo and his new neighbors on Witch Light Road. There is a vampire working the night shift at the local pawn shop who has a mysterious girlfriend who might be a high class traveling hooker or a mercenary assassin and a tall, blonde, and handsome guy left in the lurch when his new girlfriend walked out on him 2 months ago. A witch and her marmalade cat live across the road next door to a dark and silent reverend who tends to the burials of pets in his back yard and performs a 3 or 4 weddings a year in his bare living room chapel. A father, daughter, and son own the Gas 'n Go down the road near the diner where a statuesque beauty, her handyman husband, and baby son offer home-cooked meals. Chuy and Joe Strong own the antique store and beauty salon where they live with their dog.

Into this tight knit community comes psychic, Manfred Bernardo, who conducts his business online and fits right into the neighborhood. The background and characters are pure Charlaine Harris and seductively readable. If Charlaine's past series are anything to go by, I have already been set up and will once again find myself down when she moves on to a new neighborhood and denizens with their own affinity for living on the boundary between reality and the supernatural.

The mystery that drives Midnight Crossroad is Bobo's missing girlfriend. Aubrey walked away one day and never came back. She left all her things 2 months ago. Bobo boxed everything up and stacked them in the pawn shop's store room and still grieves for her. No one has come looking for her, although Bobo reported her missing to the police a week after she disappeared. She was still missing until the day of the neighborhood picnic up at Cold Rock when Fiji follows her nose to the remains of the girlfriend still wearing her expensive sneakers.

The police are called and the local militia group, Stronghold, come to Midnight to serve their own brand of justice for the death of one of their own. Bobo was already in their crosshairs because his grandfather's cache of weapons, ammunition, and bombs should not be left to a left wing liberal not willing to put all that firepower to use for the coming redneck revolution. In the coming months when Texas secedes from the United States, the members of Stronghold will fire the first shot and lead the charge.

On thing I have learned over the years is that you cannot escape your true nature -- or your past. Nature is inherent and the past always comes back to haunt you no matter where or how far you run. I hope Charlaine will find a neighborhood on the edge of the supernatural that appeals to her long enough to keep her interested and that she will not walk away and leave with nothing but an occasional mention in another new town. I hope Charlaine Harris hangs around Midnight, Texas for a while and does not get too bored with Manfred and his new supernatural friendly neighbors.

I give Midnight Crossroad 4/5 stars for well written prose and a fascinating story that kept me guessing almost to the end. I took off 1 star because I already see the writing on the wall.

Check out the book trailer and keep an eye out for the new TV series.  And, yes, Francois Arnaud, who played Cesare Borgia on the Showtime series, The Borgias, was part of the reason I gave Charlaine Harris one more chance. I'm a sucker for a good story and Charlaine writes memorable stories.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Review: Forsaken Skies by D. Nolan Clark

Forget what you know about science fiction writing. Do not expect the usual tropes. What hides within the pages of Forsaken Skies is not what you have come to expect of science fiction stories. D. Nolan Clark gives you an exciting chase at the beginning and then drops you onto a poly space station servicing the usual travelers, freight, and soldiers on their way to wars or stopping on their way from a war. That is where the story stalls and where I almost gave up on Clark's tale.

The chase was exciting -- a battle hardened pilot chasing down a kid fleeing from a murder in an expensive racing yacht nearly colliding with an automated container ship hauling . . . passengers? From that point the story gets weirder and boring. What could I expect from the commander of a space station who never gets out of his space suit or lowers his helmet? Or an elder from a breakaway group and her aspirant coming to meet a con man intending to fleece them of four years of improvements for their desolate planet? Or a marine who used to be a pilot afraid to fly? Or even an ace turned con man to pay off his debts? Forget about the rich kid in the pricey yacht or the 300-year-old pilot turned rich man's bodyguard and his ex-second in command who redirects a wing of Navy planes for a fool's errand. You won't get the real story unless you can get through the sketchy details about characters who seem to be cut from substandard literary cloth. Clark has buried the lead so far down the wormhole it will take determination and curiosity greater than Pandora's to get to the whole point of Forsaken Skies so why bother?

I bothered because not because I enjoy the minute details of hard science fiction, but because I wanted to give Clark a chance to show me something worth my time.

And he did.

It took two-thirds of the book to get to it. It was almost worth plodding through the dross to find the Arkenstone of Clark's series.

Forsaken Skies earned 4/5 stars for taking so long to get to the meat. The other four stars are because the meat was worth the trek as the characters earn their salt in their corporate monopoly (hence poly) control by reducing humanity to the bottom line of a balance sheet. Even heroism counts only if it is profitable. An old campaigner like Aleister Lanoe had to fight for a cause he finally believed in by riding to the rescue of an impoverished elder of a barren planet nearly killed by a wealthy kid fleeing the murder of his father in Daddy's private racing yacht.

D. Nolan Clark may start a trend with his storytelling. All told, Forsaken Skies was worth digging to the heart of the mountain for the payoff. In the end, I liked Lanoe's worthy cause. At least it didn't take me 300 years to share it with Lanoe.