Fear: Trump in the White House
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 2nd edition (September 11, 2018)
Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton
I’m pretty sure this was the first time I ever picked up a new book anticipating a depressing reading experience.
That’s because, like many Americans, I watched the election results of Nov. 9, 2016 with amazement and horror. I saw my country go insane. In the months and years since Trump’s inauguration, I’ve seen a narcissist, often paranoid president looking at the world through Trump-colored glasses. Policy wise, it’s been clear he has protectionist, populist, and nationalist views. It’s been clear he operates on the fly, often responding emotionally to any perceived threats or attacks. He’ll lie at the drop of a hat.
And all of this has been publicly chronicled on a daily basis since the presidential campaign. So Bob Woodward’s controversial new book doesn’t offer many surprises, other than the minutiae of who said what to whom and when. For me, I occasionally felt a glimmer of hope when I realized Trump has had some clear-headed advisors who’ve butted heads with more right-wing ideologues, although usually for relatively brief periods.
The greatest surprise for me was reading claims that some of these more clear-minded advisors found all manner of tricks to keep Trump from signing potentially dangerous documents, notably curtailing long alliances with countries like South Korea. True, as others have noted, this means unelected members of Trump’s inner circle have subverted the will of our elected president. I admit, I’m glad they did. I realize this places me inside a serious moral conundrum, but I’m too far away from any offices of power for my thoughts to matter.
Woodward’s uncited sources provide great specificity to all the conversations and actions the interviewees shared with Woodward, although not every issue of the Trump presidency was covered. There’s no discussion, for example, of the president’s ban on Muslim travelers to the U.S. But, without question, the most controversial aspect to the book is the lack of attribution to the “anonymous sources.” As Woodward has been assuring us in interviews the past few weeks, all his notes, memos, diaries, and tapes will ultimately be open to public scrutiny when he donates them all to a library archive.
Till then, I think Bob Woodward has built up enough of a record that give him serious credibility and trust. Also, the book is a straight-forward bare-bones narrative of information with little obvious editorial postulating, although it’s clear who he thinks are the heroes and who are the villains.
My one hope is that Trump supporters will take the time to read this and not respond like the Morgan County Library in West Virginia which has refused to shelf the book. On what grounds? No one is saying.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Sept. 18, 2018 at BookPleasures.com:
The Blockade Runners
Print Length: 379 pages
Publisher: Endeavour Media (August 17, 2018)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton
My first paragraph here is almost word-for-word how I opened my 2017 review of Peter Vollmer’s A Question of Allegiance:
I may not have been the very first one, but I was certainly among the earliest reviewers of the novels of South African writer Peter Borchard a.k.a. Peter Vollmer. My reviews began with 2011’s Relentless Pursuit, continued with 2012’s Diamonds Are But Stone, and 2015’s Left For Dead. Of special interest was his 2015 Per Fine Ounce, a continuation novel featuring a character named Geoffrey Peace created by fellow South African novelist Geoffrey Jenkins, a writer with notable connections with Ian Fleming.
Once again, I’m happy to report Vollmer remains a master in his descriptions of international settings and very developed characters. He’s able to vividly capture historical times and places; in the case of The Blockade Runners, his focus is on Rhodesia in 1965 when the U.N. has imposed an embargo on the country to put pressure on Prime Minister Ian Smith to accept majority rule and not continue his minority white government.
The main character of the novel is rugged, womanizing South African banker David Tuck. Despite his military background, he’s known for his accounting skills, especially with international accounts. His South African bank, in its Rhodesian offices, recruits him to be the paymaster for smugglers wanting to bring in oil, weapons, and helicopters illegally into Rhodesia. He has no idea what he’s getting into, to put it mildly.
Soon, he’s paired with the alluring Gisela Mentz, a former East German operative for the Stasi. Together, blending Gisela’s undercover training and Tuck’s quick reflexes and resourcefulness, they travel to Europe and the Middle East to arrange for the secret transfers of funds to smugglers willing to run the U.N. embargo. While France and Germany are willing to look the other way, Britain has a very different agenda. MI6 goes so far as to send out assassins to take out Tuck and Mentz as covertly as possible.
So Tuck and Mentz, quickly romantically involved, are in constant danger and have a series of near-misses and escapes. Adding to the danger, Mentz has inherited a Rhodesian farm targeted by black revolutionaries who want to chase whites out of their country. So, the pair are literally under the gun both when operating around the globe and at home as well.
While The Blockade Runners may not be a pure spy vs. spy espionage thriller, it has all the tropes of such novels.There are numerous chase scenes, deadly fights in exotic locations, clever twists from David Tuck’s fertile mind, generous sex scenes, and complex international chess moves. In short, The Blockade Runners should appeal to readers of Fleming, Graham Greene, Eric Ambler, and all the other old-fashioned thriller writers versed in international intrigue. Vollmer has gone down this road before—I’m delighted to see he’s at it again. I also appreciate the irony—from beginning to end, readers will be rooting for the bad guys. After all, blockade runners are the criminals.
Wes Britton’s review of A Question of Allegiance first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Sept. 23, 2017 at:
Wes Britton’s 2011 review of Relentless Pursuit was posted at:
Wes Britton’s 2012 review of Diamonds Are But Stone is up at:
Wes Britton’s 2015 review of Left for Dead is up at:
Wes Britton’s 2015 article,” The Re-Boot of PER FINE OUNCE: A Continuation Novel That Isn’t What You Think” was published at:
Wes Britton’s review of The Blockade Runners first appeared Sept. 11, 2018 at:
Flying Saucers from Beyond the Earth: A UFO Researcher's Odyssey
Hardcover: 460 pages
Publisher: BearManor Media (October 1, 2018)
Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton
The bulk of Gordon Lore’s latest book is a compilation of summaries describing apparently every UFO sighting reported to the National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) from 1956 to 1980. During that time, Lore served as Vice President, Assistant Director, Secretary-Treasurer and investigator for NICAP, then the world’s largest UFO organization.
The summaries don’t stop there. While Lore focuses on sightings in the continental U.S. in his first chapters, he also presents sightings and close encounters internationally, at sea, and in the air up to the present day. In fact, just before the appendices begin, Lore closes his journey by providing readers with a website and e-mail address where they can report new sightings in the future.
Lore’s approach is both objective and personal. Objective in that he rarely editorializes on the credibility of UFO spotters other than frequently noting scientists, two presidents, police officers, astronauts, military personnel and many other believable folks claimed to have seen unidentified flying objects near their homes or job sites. Credibility for many such occurrences is underlined when numerous witnesses reported what they saw at the same time and same place. Lore also shows how the U.S. military and government engaged in a long and often silly cover-up of UFO sightings by giving the public usually implausible explanations of how UFO phenomena could be explained away. Lore doesn’t have to add any commentary on any official agency’s lack of professionalism or believability. Instead, he lets the facts stand for themselves.
The odyssey is personal in that Lore was on the inside of UFO explorations for several decades and worked with the most eminent researchers in the field, appeared in Congressional hearings, and advised Stanley Kubrik while 2001: A Space Odyssey was being filmed. So he is able to provide portraits of many of the key figures involved in NICAP during its heyday and afterward.
One perhaps irrelevant question I have is, just how much of this book is new material? In addition to the numerous articles and special reports Lore either wrote, co-wrote, or edited over the years, his past books include Mysteries of the Skies: UFOs in Perspective, Strange Effects from UFOs and UFOs: A New look. Of course, if you’re a reader who’s read none of Lore’s previous work, his Flying Saucers tome will be new to you, just as it was to me. I rather suspect Flying Saucers may well be Lore’s culmination of all his UFO work, pulled together in a grande finale.
I admit, before reading this book, I was willing to accept the possibility that alien visitors had come to our earth. I’m now convinced they have. Many, many times. I’m still amazed how these visitors haven’t made any noticeable effort to communicate with us. Why come all this way just to fly around and check things out? Well, those aren’t the sorts of questions Lore addresses. His purpose is to establish we’ve been getting visits on numerous occasions that defy any explanation other than we are not alone in the universe.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Sept. 6, 2018:
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Sequart Organization and Respect Films are proud to announce that their feature-length documentaries Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts are now available to watch for free on Sequart's YouTube channel!
Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods was produced in close collaboration with Morrison and features extensive interviews with him, as well as never-before-seen photos and documents spanning his childhood to the present day. Complimenting Morrison’s own words are interviews with his closest collaborators and friends. The film makes extensive use of found and abstract footage to make the documentary feel like a Morrison comic.
Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts features the most extensive interview ever given by Ellis. His acerbic wit and core belief in humanity come across like never before, revealing the unique point of view that has made him such a pivotal and influential figure to his massive audience of artists, journalists, scientists, and fans.
If you enjoy these films, you can also purchase a download, including extra footage, on our website's store. And of course, we have plenty of Grant Morrison- and Warren Ellis-related books for you to enjoy, including:
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Grant Morrison: The Early Years, by Timothy Callahan, was the first book ever published on Morrison's work.
Our Sentence is Up: Seeing Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, by Patrick Meaney, examines Morrison's classic series in an easily accessible fashion.
Warren Ellis: The Captured Ghosts Interviews contains the full transcript of over 10 hours of Ellis interviews, ranging in subject across his entire career.
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Flying Saucers From Beyond the Earth -- Exploring the History of UFO Research with Gordon Lore
Flying Saucers From Beyond the Earth is Gordon Lores fifteen-year UFO odyssey through the 1960s and 1970s, the most formative research and investigation years of this constantly ongoing phenomenon. It is highlighted by his work with Major Donald E. Keyhoe, known as Mr. UFO because he wrote the first book and article on the subject in 1950, Richard H. Hall, and James E. McDonald, one of the premiere UFO scientists during the 1960s whose tragic death in 1971 left an enduring gap in the early history of UFO research and investigation.
This new book gives the reader both personal and scientific insights into many perplexing flying saucer sightings and the authors investigation and research highlighting their importance. The author has worked with such respected UFO researchers and scientists as Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Dr. Jacques Vallee, Francis Ridge (honcho of the NICAP website), Barry Greenwood, Jan Aldrich, Raymond Fowler, Stanton Friedman, and Paul Cerny. The book also highlights the authors personal investigation of prominent UFO sightings in several states and his leading the NICAP subcommittee work of a number of prominent investigators. He can be seen sitting with Major Donald E. Keyhoe and Richard Hall at a conference table at the National Press Club in 1968 in a segment of NASAs Unexplained FilesSecret Aliens.
I was fascinated by Gordon Lores account of UFO history and NICAPs ceaseless struggle to uncover and reveal the truth. Working with highly-charged, up-to-the-minute material, the author invokes military and civilian aviators, police officers, trainmen, abductees, scientists, CIA moles, gold miners, FBI bureaucrats and the everyday people whose sightings are the backbone of the UFO phenomenon. If a book dedicated to evidence-based research can be thrilling, Flying Saucers From Beyond the Earth is it.
David J. Hogan, author of UFO FAQ: All Thats Left to Know About Roswell, Aliens, Whirling Discs, and Flying Saucers
Gordon Lore provides us with a marvelous look at the Golden Era of flying saucers and UFOs, giving us an uncommon look at the past from the perspective of one who actually lived it as an official of NICAP in Washington, D.C. This inside look at many classic saucer sightings comes from the time when UFOs made national headlines, were the subject of official Air Force investigations, and were targeted for two Congressional hearings in 1966 and 1968. It is pure nostalgia for those curious about the controversy over life in space.
Barry J. Greenwood, co-author of Clear Intent: The Government Coverup of the UFO Experience
Gordon Lore has given us a careful, comprehensive and honest reportage of the UFO phenomenon based on his many years of investigating the phenomenon. He is neither an alarmist nor a radical in his conclusions. The reader will find this an essential counterweight to distortions that sometimes muddy this ever-timely subject.
Neil Earle, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in American Popular Culture
Available exclusively from BearManor Media in hardback, paperback, and e-book editions.
David Bowie: A Life
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Crown Archetype (September 12, 2017)
Reviewed by: Dr. Wesley Britton
When Prince died on April 21, 2016, just four months after the passing of David Bowie on January 10, there were immediate and numerous comparisons made between the two giants of music in terms of importance and influence. I well recall one TV commentator certain Prince was the more influential of the two.
I can’t figure out that reasoning at all. For one matter, by the time of Prince’s first successes in 1979, Bowie had already made a decade-long cultural impact difficult to match. As some of the interviewees in Dylan Jones oral history of the life of David Bowie opined, Ziggy Stardust was where the ‘60s ended and the ‘70s began. A large number of British acts from U2 to Duran Duran acknowledge Bowie as an important influence. Not to mention acts like Mott the Hoople, Iggy Pop, Lulu, and Lu Reed who all benefited from Bowie’s career-saving hand. Later, Madonna and Lady Gaga also pointed to Bowie as a seminal influence on their careers. And all this before Prince set foot into a recording studio.
And, judging from the countless verbal snapshots in Dylan Jones oral history, Bowie’s impact on the many people who knew or simply met him was profound on many levels. For one matter, he was a figure with a deep well of interest from music to the visual arts to theatre and film to fashion to literature. Because of his shifting guises throughout his career, he worked with a wide range of collaborators, producers, musicians, and business advisors. Depending on your point of view, Bowie was simply following his vision or was callous in his leaving some of his associates behind as he changed directions throughout his career.
While painting a “warts and all” portrait of Bowie in the words of hundreds of personal interviews, Dylan Jones presents a more than rounded portrait of an artistic giant worthy of the many accolades Bowie received before and after his death, but certainly he was no saint. In his personal life, he enjoyed a wide range of sexual experiences. Many of them, by 2018 standards, could be considered child molestation. During the ‘70s, Bowie did a bit too much coke. And during the ‘80s, his artistic vision let him down when he crafted some admittedly substandard albums.
But, in the main, most commentators on Bowie in Dylan Jones’ biography remember Bowie in a very favorable light, from his private personal life to his work in the studio to his interactions with, well, seemingly everyone he ever met. From start to finish, Bowie is seen as an innovative artist with drive, talent, a special physical presence as well as intellectual abilities and curiosity. It’s such a personal book that those looking for insights into Bowie’s creative process may feel slighted, but there are no shortage of other books that explore such aspects of Bowie’s output.
I’ve always shied away from using the term “definitive” for any biography as many are comprehensive but usually lack in one aspect or another. Dylan Jones A Life comes close as he actually wrote very little but instead compiled a year-by-year history of Bowie and his circles using the voices of so many observers. It might not be the one and only book you should read about Bowie, but I can’t imagine any other tome out there that touches so many bases. Maybe not definitive, but certainly indispensable.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Aug. 20, 2018:
Sequart is proud to announce the publication of A More Civilized Age: Exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe, edited by Rich Handley and Joeseph F. Berenato.
Almost as soon as there were Star Wars films, there were Star Wars novels. Alan Dean Foster got the ball rolling, ghost-writing the first film’s adaptation for George Lucas, as well as penning a sequel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Novels covering the exploits of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian soon followed, ushering in what would come to be called the Star WarsExpanded Universe. The EU, like the Force itself, has helped to bind the galaxy together.
More than 250 Star Wars novels have been published by Del Rey, Bantam Books, Ballantine Books, and other companies, aimed at both young and adult readers. Spanning the decades before, during, and after the films’ events, the books have spawned new galactic governments, explored the nature of the Jedi and the Sith, and developed the Star Warsmythos well beyond merely a series of films and television shows. The Expanded Universe — recently re-branded as “Legends” following Disney’s acquisition of the franchise — has grown exponentially, comprising not only the books but also comics, video games, radio shows, role-playing games, and more.
With A More Civilized Age: Exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe, editors Rich Handley and Joseph F. Berenato continue their look back at the franchise’s highs and lows, which began with A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe and A Galaxy Far, Far Away: Exploring Star Wars Comics. This third volume offers insightful, analytical essays examining the Star Wars EU, contributed by popular film historians, novelists, bloggers, and subject-matter experts — including fan-favorite Star Wars novelists Timothy Zahn and Ryder Windham. The films were just the beginning. Find out how the universe expanded.
The book runs a massive 348 pages.
A More Civilized Age: Exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe is available in print and on Kindle. (Just a reminder: you don’t need a Kindle device to read Kindle-formatted books; you can download a free Kindle reader for most computers, phones, and tablets.)
Find out more on the book’s official page or its Facebook page.
Reviewers may request a PDF of the book for review, and the book's editors are available for interviews. If interested, please send inquiries to email@example.com
Flash Friends: A Perry County Novel
Paperback: 334 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 23, 2017)
Reviewed by: Dr. Wesley Britton
I was delighted to meet author Dennis Royer at a local writers’ conference this August. I was intrigued to hear his description of his latest Perry County novel, Flash Friends, as that’s the locale where my stepson and my grandson live. I was curious to hear that one of his main characters is blind. So am I.
With these connections in mind, I bought one copy of the book for my grandson and asked Dennis to send me an e-book version so I could write this review.
In short order, I was feeling mixed messages, to mangle one usually tried and true metaphor. In many ways, the character of the blind twenty-two-year-old blind character, Annalise DaVinci, was very believable. Her resentment of anyone or anything that frustrated her proud independence is something I’ve seen many, many times. On the other hand, I couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t using a white cane, especially as she was living out in the boondocks and apparently taking long walks in the country. Without a cane?
True, Royer tells us Annalise doesn’t use her cane to look less conspicuous. As the story progresses, we get more and more clues about Annalise’s past from which she is running and hiding. Still, not using a cane, or guide dog and just relying on the apps in her cell phone, I can promise you, is dumb. And dangerous.
The other main character is Bo Camp, a rookie volunteer firefighter who lives on a dairy farm with his parents. They’re neighbors to the Johnsons, who have leased a duplex to Annalise. Annalise is the first person to learn a massive fire is devouring the Johnson house, and Bo is the first person to arrive on the scene to help out.
In short order, fire companies from all over the region descend on the blaze and one firefighter dies of a heart attack at the scene. This leads to a number of investigations of the incident where various law enforcement agencies view Bo, Annalise, and the Johnsons with suspicion. Why? And what is Annalise afraid of? Who is she hiding from?
As the story progresses, I realized Royer is extremely good with character development, offering very believable emotions, motivations, and actions by all his leading and supporting characters. He’s also very good at distributing clues and foreshadowings of several mysteries he’s developing. I was more than surprised by the final third of the book where most readers who know this area will be amazed to see Perry County in this light.
I also realized Flash Friends is an ideal YA novel, and likely too the rest of his Perry County stories. The rural setting is vividly sketched, especially the Camp dairy farm where Bo’s father is concerned his son won’t follow in his footsteps into the family business. The area described around West Perry County, not surprisingly, is clearly drawn from the author’s personal experience. On the other hand, I know Mechanicsburg doesn’t have a store selling adaptive technology for the disabled and there’s no such thing as a Dauphin County School for the Blind.
Of course, the book is fiction so poking holes into the verisimilitude regarding the Central Pennsylvania blind community isn’t really fair, especially as the reader would have to really have specific knowledge to know about such details. Right now, I’m eager to find out what my grandson thinks of the book. I’m also curious to find out what readers think who know little or nothing about this area. Let me know—
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Aug. 15, 2018:
The President is Missing
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Audible.com Release Date: June 4, 2018
Reviewed by: Dr. Wesley Britton
On so many levels, the powerhouse collaboration between best-selling novelist James Patterson and former President William Jefferson Clinton has ignited nearly every kind of possible critical response. Some readers nearly gush with effusive praise; other reviewers are far less kind, and not always for political reasons.
Some reader games would seem unavoidable. Guessing who wrote what is more than problematic, although I’m certain Clinton wrote both the first and last chapters. The first as it seems so much like Clinton’s own experiences during his impeachment hearings, the last as it reads like one of Clinton’s famously long speeches. To the chagrin of some readers,it’s a speech that touches on many issues not dealt with in the novel at all.
Another game is trying to decide how much of Clinton is captured in the character of President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan. Other reviewers have pointed out a handful of biographical similarities as well as major differences. Me, I read the book noticing the absence of any sex or romantic relationships. Was this a means of avoiding the smirks and/or guessing games of readers who’d want to connect Clinton’s erotic life with his fiction?
The fingerprints of James Patterson are evident throughout the bulk of the thriller. For one thing, the pace of the book is partly driven by his very short chapters that jump from scene to scene, from character to character in a rapid-fire delivery. Throughout, there are many very familiar tropes of the political thriller genre that are reminiscent of numerous authors, not just Patterson. For example, the rudder of the plot is a terrorist named Suliman Cindoruk who wants to activate a computer virus that will cripple the U.S. by erasing all internet data of the military, government, business, medical facilities, and infrastructure. In an often convoluted storyline, President Duncan believes he’s the only man who can meet with Abkhazian separatists to avert the catastrophe. That’s why the President is missing, although political opponents think he’s pulling a fast one to avoid impeachment hearings.
Typical of such novels, one fly in the ointment is a traitor at the very top echelons of the government. But who is the traitor? And why is the female sniper code-named Bach not assassinating world leaders when she has them in her sites, but instead shoots defectors from the terrorist ranks? And who is paying for all this carnage?
Part of the story focuses on discussions between Duncan and his advisors, part is action-oriented with shootouts, car crashes, Viper helicopters, and deadly infiltrations into secret government facilities. It’s either a pleasure or an annoyance to read so many red herrings in the book that lead to a number of very surprising reveals and conclusions in the final chapters.
I recommend reading the Hachette Audio edition of the book to hear the passages narrated by Dennis Quaid, January LaVoy, Peter Ganim, Jeremy Davidson, and Mozhan Marnó . It’s also interesting to hear the chapters focused on Bach read by a female reader and often spiced with musical backgrounds by the classical composers Bach is listening to while setting up her kill shots.
For my money, The President is Missing is a fun read occasionally laced with political observations no doubt offered by Clinton. Maybe some of these lectures will resonate with readers who don’t often listen to voices not coming from their political bent.
You can download the book for free and hear samples at various sites on the net, such as
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Sat. Aug. 11, 2018:
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Paranormal Privateers: The Adventures of the Undead (Life After Life Volume 3)
Publisher: Jule Inc.; 1 edition (May 5, 2018)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton
Paranormal Privateers is my third go-around with author Andy Zack. First, I read his bizarre Zombie Turkeys (How an Unknown Blogger Fought Unkillable Turkeys) (2016). Next came My Undead Mother-In-Law (The Family Zombie with Anger Management Issues) (2017). As the titles suggest, Zack’s world of zombie animals and people aren’t meant to terrify readers. Instead, Zack is out to amuse and entertain us with the most unusual situations and scenes most of us will ever experience on the printed page.
Paranormal Privateers continues the weirdness with a handful of returning characters and the type of zombies few of us would want to kill, destroy, or dismember. They’re, for the most part, super-heroes with superior strength, resistance to diseases like cancer, and the ability to regenerate limbs and other body parts. These zombies don’t want to lose these abilities so they carry around vials of infected blood to make sure they have the means to become a zombie again in case somebody cures them.
This time around, a crew of zombies has a presidential commission and a super-yacht to take on missions the U.S. Military can’t. Their leader is the impatient Diane Newby, the “Undead Mother-in-Law” of the previous volume. She fiercely leads her comrades as they battle Somali pirates, Crimean human slavers, and London terrorists in Harrods department store with the aid of huge zombie bulls. (Talk about a bull in a china shop!) then, a more serious scenario pulls together three storylines as the zombie team infiltrate a North Korean nuclear facility. One of these storylines centers on a North Korean defector who first becomes a zombie, then a Christian, and then he does his best to spread both in a prison camp.
Along the way, the heroic zombies and their human allies must suffer with the schemes of Sid Boffin, a 120-year-old criminal genius who wants to rule the earth and destroy all zombies with viruses carried on fly feet. Despite his efforts, Diane and her group fight on even after losing their zombie strength and regenerative abilities.
And then . . . we get an alien spaceship bringing powerful aliens to earth. It’s almost a completely different book from that point forward, beginning about 2/3 of the way in Paranormal Privateers.
All three volumes of the “Life After Life” series so far are fast-paced romps with minimal character development full of quirky humor and off-the-wall satire. While not billed as YA novels, I see no reason why young adults wouldn’t especially enjoy these yarns. There’s much about blogging, Skype, and other contemporary matters throughout all the adventures. How about a Kickstarter campaign to fund a cure for the anti-zombie virus? Political correctness? Say “paranormal people,” not “zombies.”
No reader needs to read the previous books to jump into the action, although it wouldn’t hurt to read My Undead Mother-in-Lawfirst to get some character background. But all you need to get into the quirky world of Andy Zack is to have a healthy sense of humor and the willingness to travel to a world that never was and never will be.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Aug. 6, 2018:
Bob Hope On TV: Thanks For the Video Memories
Publisher: BearManor Media (December 15, 2017)
Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton
No other modern entertainer can claim the longevity or scope of what Bob Hope accomplished between 1919 to 1997, nearly 80 years in show business. Before his death at the age of 100 in 2003, Hope was a vaudevillian, actor on stage, radio, film, and television. He helped define just what a “stand-up comic” is. He was also a singer, dancer, sometime athlete, and author. He starred in 54 feature films, appeared in many more, and hosted the Academy Awards show 19 times, more than any other host.
Those Academy Award Shows are among the seemingly countless Bob Hope TV appearances chronicled by Wesley Hyatt in his Bob Hope on TV. The heart of his book, not surprisingly, are the numerous specials Hope hosted for NBC television starting in 1950 which continued until 1997. Among those specials were a number of shows performed live before military audiences for the USO (United Services Organization), including the 1970 and 1971 Christmas specials taped in Vietnam, now listed in the Top 46 U.S. network prime-time telecasts. Both were seen by more than 60 percent of the U.S. households watching television.
Add in all the specials hosted by others and TV shows Hope guested on, it’s obvious Hyatt had a daunting task simply cataloguing but one part of the Bob Hope legacy. Gratefully, Hyatt gives us much more than capsule descriptions of each Hope TV outing. Decade by decade, Hyatt gives us useful introductions that describe what Hope’s career was like during each of these periods of his small screen life.
I must admit, Hyatt’s critical analysis of each special, in particular, make it surprising Hope’s tenure with NBC ran for as long as it did. After the 1950s, Hyatt uses few compliments to describe these programs. Hyatt claims that Hope got further and further out of touch with contemporary tastes and mores, especially regarding equal rights for women. During the Vietnam war, Hope was a conspicuous supporter of that unpopular conflict and was a known backer of beleaguered President Richard Nixon. Hyatt goes beyond these already well-known aspects of Hope’s public life and knocks most of the skits and monologues for much of Hope’s TV career. As Hyatt made every effort to screen as many of the Hope appearances as he could, one wonders if boredom crept into his critical eye or if Hyatt is using contemporary standards—as in his distaste for Hope’s targeting of gays—to measure broadcasts that might not have always earn high ratings, but remained popular for many reasons. Audiences kept coming back again and again even as the generations changed. Advertisers usually supported Hope for long periods of time, especially Chrysler (1963–73) and Texaco (1975–85).
Whether or not readers agree with Hyatt’s often unhappy critical analyses or not, without question, you got to be a major fan of Bob Hope to want this lengthy tome. There’s a whole lot of old-timers in that number. And we must all applaud Hyatt for his incredible task of doing the research for this volume. From hunting down rare and obscure copies of the old broadcasts to screening nearly everything he could find to interviewing surviving participants, notably joke writers like Bob Mills, Wesley Hyatt has compiled an impressive work of research most libraries should want to shelve, especially those with good collections of books dealing with entertainment. Bob Hope fans of whatever generation you belong to may well want to skim through these pages—Bob Hope on TV isn’t a cover to cover read unless, like Hyatt, all this television minutia is your cup of tea.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Aug. 2, 2018:
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Press & Publishing Release date:
May 14, 2018ISBN-10:1941948035065ISBN-13: 978-1948035064
It should be no surprise that December’s Soldiers was published by Defiance Press this year. Not only does the house champion Texas writers, but a month before they issued Marvin Tyson’s fictional account of what might happen after Texas secedes from the U.S, they published Daniel Miller’s non-fiction Texit: Why and How Texas Will Leave the Union.
Tyson’s new sequel to his 2015 Fall of the Western Empire opens when an ex-president of the U.S. is drawn into a scheme by a group of rich Chinese underworld figures who will take care of his massive gambling debts if he’ll help ignite a war between the U.S. and the newly created Republic of Texas. They hope such a war would distract all eyes from their planned takeover of all the crude oil leases in Texas. Ex-president Jackson isn’t the only political leader working for the Chinese. An important senator and the Attorney General are also mixed up in the plot.
Opposing them are the presidents of the U.S. and Texas who want a smooth transition for Texas from statehood to independence. A more than capable group of Texas investigators try to connect the dots between troublemakers in Texas and Washington, the leaders of the conspiracy, and the Chinese bosses. And that takes some risky and deadly doing.
The stakes couldn’t be higher in this fast-paced tale of political intrigue. Both Texas and the U.S. are called on to help out Europe in its current economic crisis, the U.N. is concerned about any potential war, and a number of states in the American heartland announce they wish to follow Texas’s lead and secede from the union. The U.S. government says that simply can’t happen. The rich well of main and supporting players includes the movers and shakers at the top of the political heaps as well as the investigators in the trenches who engage in gunfights and prison escapes in their quest to avert any larger wars.
As a result, Tyson has us in locations in or near Austin, Texas and Washington. as well as important scenes set in Macau, China, and the mountains of Kurdistan. In short, Tyson paints a large canvas that isn’t confined within the borders of Texas.December’s Soldiers is a thriller that should appeal to readers well beyond those interested in any potential Texas secession.
It’s, in part, a page-turner of an espionage tale as well as a layered and very believable political thriller. It’s refreshing to meet so many positive political leaders in a story with no shortage of optimism. I have to admit—I have no idea what the title means. I can’t connect it with anything I read. For now, consider December’s Soldiers a hot summer read for hot summer nights.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on July 1, 2018