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Showing posts from September, 2011

CR3 #78: Treachery at Sharpnose Point by Jeremy Seal

The full title of this book is Treachery at Sharpnose Point: Unraveling the Mystery of the Caldonia's Final Voyage. And that is a fairly accurate description of what this book is about.

The author, Jeremy Seal, begins by discovering an antique masthead planted in the ground at a quaint Cornish cemetery. He finds that it's a memorial to several sailors who died during a shipwreck in 1842. Seal is intrigued with the possible story behind this monument, and decided to do some research to find out who these men were, what might have happened to them, and how they came to be buried in this particular graveyard. In his research he uncovers the history of shipwrecks along the coasts of Cornwall, and the effect these wrecks had on the locals--plundering the battered wrecks of ships was a village effort, especially due to food shortages and high taxes. Seal starts to suspect that perhaps the people of Morwenstow had more to do with the wreck of the Caledonia than noted in the historica…

CR3 #77: 48 by James Herbert

James Herbert's 48 begins three years after the end of World War II. In this world, Hitler's final act before committing suicide was to release the Nazis' top secret bio-weapon over London. The weapon is a blood disease that causes most people to drop dead wherever they may be. Some take slightly longer to die, some linger for years as their blood slowly turns black and congeals in their veins. Some, it turns out, are totally immune due to a sheer fluke of genetics. One such person is an American pilot named Hoke. He's spent the past three years surviving alone in London, accompanied by a stray dog. As the book begins, he's on the run from a group of "blackshirts," a group of "slow-death" suffers lead by a mad nobleman. Hoke runs across a small band of fellow survivors, and soon all of them are fighting for their lives in a post-apocalyptic world.

This was not a bad read. The characters are a tiny bit cliched, but it is after all not a character…

CR3 #76: Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

Gaudy Night is technically part of Dorothy L. Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey series, but it isn't narrated by Wimsey. Instead, he is a secondary character, and the narrator is author Harriet Vane. Harriet has returned to her alma mater, Shrewsbury College at Oxford, for her "gaudy" (reunion). She finds while she is there that there is a malicious poison-pen writer stalking the current students and faculty, and what begins with childish pranks soon becomes more and more terrifying. Harriet, as a mystery novelist, is called upon by the dean to try and investigate the situation while ostensibly staying at the college to work on some academic writing. Eventually, she finds herself beyond her depth and calls upon Lord Peter Wimsey--who managed to save her from hanging a few years previous when she was accused of murder--to assist her. He brings with him his own set of difficulties, as their relationship isn't really what either of them wants. They have to work together to…

CR3 #75: Deus Ex Machina by Andrew Foster Altschul

I know that reality television is destroying our brains. I know that it's irreparably damaged the scripted television industry. I know that it is a worthless waste of time. And yet...I still love some of it.

I'm picky about the reality I watch. I don't like anything medical-related. Both Hoarders and Intervention are deeply psychologically upsetting to me. I generally avoid dating shows (with the notable exception of Rock of Love--that was trashy in ways I had previously never imagined). I feel particularly strongly about not watching reality shows featuring children (they are at the mercy of their attention-whoring parents, and thus unable to avoid the damage that comes from being exposed to the world). I try to be ethical about my reality show choices. I don't want to give my support in any way to shows that include the word "wives" in the title, nor do I want to support shows that reward people for popping out an unreasonable number of children (both that …

CR3 #74: Stand Firm Ye Boys From Maine: The 20th Maine and the Gettysburg Campaign by Thomas Desjardin

One of my peculiar enthusiasms is the Battle of Gettysburg. It's probably in the "Top Five Subjects I Know a Lot About" along with the Titanic, the Lincoln assassination, the Holocaust, and the American campaign in Europe in WWII. I've always been particularly fond of Colonel Joshua Laurence Chamberlain and the exploits of the 20th Maine regiment during the second day's battle at Little Round Top. This book details how that particular regiment arrived at that point in history, who their opposition were, why the battle turned out the way it did, and what happened to the group after that notable day.

Unfortunately, Hollywood has apparently over-dramatized slightly the impressive feat that was accomplished on July 2, 1863. Apparently the brave bayonet charge that swept the 15th Alabama down off the hill was less a brilliant strategy from Chamberlain and more something that occurred almost organically. And it might not have even worked had the Alabamians not been spl…

CR3 #73: The Crossing by Serita Ann Jakes

(I received this book from WaterBrook Press free through Goodreads.com. I appreciate their generosity, but my opinions cannot be swayed.)

When first reading the description of The Crossing, it sounded intriguing. Years ago, at a railroad crossing, a gun-wielding man got on a bus coming back from a high school football game. He shot one of the players in the arm and killed the young cheerleading coach. Many years later, the assistant DA husband of one of the girls who was on the bus, along with the football player--who has now become a police officer--reopen the case to try to get to the bottom of things. The premise sounded good...what I didn't notice was the last bit of the description: "As the Campbells and Casio teeter on the bring of losing everything, will they be able to discover that what begins at the crossing ends at the cross?"

Yes, I had somehow gotten myself involved with contemporary Christian literature by mistake. "Well," I figured, "too lat…

CR3 #72: Lights Out in Wonderland by DBC Pierre

(This book was graciously sent to me for free by W.W. Norton & Co. via Goodreads.com. I think they're going to wish they'd sent it to someone else.)

I hated Catcher in the Rye. I know it's supposed to be some kind of iconic book about about teenage angst or something, but to me Holden Caulfield was just sort of a whiny twit who created most of his problems himself. Boohooo! My parents don't understand me and my lack of effort is resulting in poor school performance and OMG SOMETIMES ADULTS LIE ABOUT THINGS! I tell you this because Lights Out in Wonderland is like all the worst things about Catcher in the Rye combined with a book Chuck Palahniuk might write after a serious head injury.

Gabriel Brockwell is twenty-five. He comes from an upper-class British family, and at the beginning of the book, finds himself in rehab. Deeply unsatisfied with his life, he decides that the best solution is to kill himself. However, before he does that, he feels that he should have …

CR3 #71: A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons

This book is the sequel to Simmons's Summer of Night. Dale Stewart--last seen as a terrified child in Summer of Night--has grown up. He was a literature professor and writer, but now his life has begun to fall apart. He left his wife for one of his grad students, only to be unceremoniously dumped. He's taken a sabbatical from teaching and was pushed to the brink of suicide. At the beginning of the book, he makes the decision to go spend some time in his old hometown. He rents the farmhouse where his (late) friend Duane grew up, determined to work on a novel about the summer of 1960. As it turns out, that summer isn't nearly as distant as Dale would like to think, and real life (represented by a pack of skinheads who dislike Dale's ideology) isn't exactly peachy, either.

This is a ghost story, similar perhaps to Stephen King's Bag of Bones or even The Dark Half. The past dredges itself up and begins to assert itself on the "real" world. Dale's stru…

CR3 #70: The Burning by Jane Casey

(St. Martin's Minotaur press sent me this book for free through a Goodreads.com giveaway. Fear not, my opinions cannot be swayed by free books. Now, were they to send foodstuffs...)

Maeve Kerrigan is a detective in the London police department. She and the rest of her colleagues are on the hunt for a serial killer called "The Burning Man" who beats women to death and then sets them on fire in parks. The stress is building because there have been four deaths already and the murderer doesn't show any signs of slowing down. Then, late one night, another body turns up. Twenty-eight year old Rebecca Haworth is found and it looks like she's become the eighth victim. However, things don't add up for Maeve. Something about this is off, and she makes it her mission to figure out what's going on.

The story is told from both Maeve's perspective and that of Louise North, Rebecca's mousy best friend. Both women's stories entwine as they seek the truth abou…