Book Review: “FOOLS AND MORTALS”

TITLE: FOOLS AND MORTALS
BY: Bernard Cornwell
PUBLISHED BY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-06-225087-2
Review copy purchased by reviewer
Review by Ida Vega-Landow

I was pleasantly surprised to find this book as one of my selections in the Doubleday Book Club. I was also surprised to find that I knew the author from one of his previous works. Bernard Cornwell is the creator of the Saxon Tales, which served as the basis for “The Last Kingdom”, a TV show I was fond of about the dawn of the British Empire, when the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes were still fighting over England.

The story is about William Shakespeare’s younger brother, Richard. He is an actor, or player as they called it back then, in his brother’s company at The Theatre, a forerunner of the Globe. (In real life, the Bard of Avon was the third of eight siblings, so it’s possible he might have had a brother who was as talented an actor as he was a writer.) You’d think that being related to the head of the company, who’s also its scriptwriter, young Richard would be one of the stars. But alas,‘tis not so.
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Book Reveiw: “Indigo”, a mosaic novel

Indigo, a mosaic novel
By Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden, Jonathan Maberry, Kelley Armstrong, Kat Richardson, Seanan McGuire, Tim Lebbon, Cherie Priest, James A. Moore, and Mark Morris.
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN 978-1-250-07678-6
Book supplied by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This is the second book I’ve read that was written by a committee. The first one was “Naked Came The Stranger”, back in 1969, written by Penelope Ashe, which was a pseudonym for a group of twenty-four journalists led by Newsday columnist Mike McGrady. He wanted to write a book that was both deliberately terrible and contained a lot of sex, to illustrate the point that popular American literary culture had become mindlessly vulgar. McGrady was convinced that any book could succeed if enough sex was thrown in. He was right; the book became a bestseller. After the hoax was revealed, it sold even more copies. This proves that you can never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, according to H.L. Mencken, renowned author and cynic.
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Book review: Joe Steele by Harry Turtledove

I’d like to publish the following guest review by my favorite collaborator, Pet Leopard, as a warning of things to come after the nomination of Donald Trump on January 20th. God help America.

“Joe Steele” by Harry Turtledove
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication Date: 12/01/2015
ISBN-13: 9780451472199
Book supplied by Reviewer

Guest Review by Pet Leopard

Well, according to a popular old saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same. Harry Turtledove’s thought provoking masterpiece, “Joe Steele”, is a testament to the truth of that line of reasoning.

As a child of the early 1960’s, I have lived through both Kennedy assassinations, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the Gulf War, the attacks on the World Trade Center, and a horrible decade-long period of warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although Mr. Turtledove references an alternate history that’s set well before the earliest of those events had taken place, there are many parallels that resonate very closely.
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Book review: Sadistic Pattern, by Michael J. Molloy

SadisticPatternBookSadistic Pattern
by Michael J. Molloy
Published By: Gypsy Shadow Publishing, 2015
ISBN: 13: 978-1619502758
Review copy sent by author

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

It’s been said by the philosopher George Santayana that “those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it”. I think that saying should be amended to “those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it”. Such is the case with Professor Roger Lavoie, the central character of this new suspense novel by Michael Malloy, whose previous novel, “The Diamond Man”, gave us a look at love and baseball. Now branching out from romance to suspense, Mr. Malloy has given us a study of one man’s slow descent into madness as events from his past repeat themselves in the present.
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Book review: Ruth’s Journey

“Ruth’s Journey: The Authorized Novel of Mammy from Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’”
By Donald McCaig
Published By: Atria Books, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-4516-4353-4
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

From the man who gave us “Rhett Butler’s People”, a version of “Gone With The Wind” written from Rhett Butler’s point of view, the creative mind of Donald McCaig has given us a plausible backstory for the faithful Mammy, Scarlet O’Hara’s beloved black nurse, who raised her and her two sisters. She was also mammy to Scarlett’s mother Ellen Robillard and her two sisters. But she wasn’t always the big, black slave woman in charge of a white woman’s babies.
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Book review: The Boleyn King

The Boleyn King
By Laura Andersen
PUBLISHED BY: BALLANTINE BOOKS, A DIVISION OF RANDOM HOUSE, INC.
ISBN: 978-0-345-53409-5
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This book is an historic romance/reconstruction, in the style of Harry Turtledove, an author who enjoys rewriting history by speculating what would have happened if a well-known historic event had never occurred, or had occurred differently. The premise of “The Boleyn King” is: What would have happened if Anne Boleyn had not “miscarried of her savior”? Suppose she had actually given King Henry VIII the son he so desperately wanted?
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Book Review: Dead Ever After

Dead Ever After
BY: Charlaine Harris
PUBLISHED BY: Ace Books, New York
ISBN: 978-1-937007-88-1
Review copy purchased by reviewer

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

And so we come to the end of the Sookie Stackhouse saga, as Sookie’s relationship with Eric Northman comes to an end as well. Due to his late makers’ meddling, the hunky vampire Viking is now engaged to Freyda, the Vampire Queen of Oklahoma. He is forced to end his “marriage” to Sookie by his boss, Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Nevada, Louisiana and Arkansas, who after witnessing the dissolution ceremony in Eric’s office at his bar Fangtasia, forbids her to ever come to the bar again. You’d think he’d show a little more gratitude to the person who saved him from being killed by his predecessor’s bodyguard. But as they say on The Sopranos, “It’s just business, nothing personal.”
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Book review: Fairy Rides the Lighting

Fairy Rides the Lighting
By Patrick Thomas
Published by Padwolf Publishing Inc. 2012
ISBN: 978-890096-50-2
Review copy purchased by reviewer

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

If you believe in fairies, clap your hands. If you believe in Terrorbelle, give her a high five. But brace yourself! She’s not your typical fairy gal, with dainty hands and butterfly wings, so light you could knock her over with a feather. No, this badass fairy is more likely to knock you down, or at least leave you with a badly bruised hand when you high five her. She’s half pixie and half ogre, which means she’s built like a brick house and has razor-edged wings that can slice your hand off if you try to touch her inappropriately. In other words, Terrorbelle is no stranger to trouble. And in Patrick Thomas’ latest account of her adventures, our little fairy warrior is up to her pretty pink hairdo in trouble.
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Book Review: Peggy Pinch – Policeman’s Wife

Peggy Pinch Policeman’s Wife
Written by Malcolm Noble
Published by Matador
ISBN: 978-1848767-867
Review copy purchased by reviewer

Review by Jane Seaton

We all love an idyllic 1920’s English village, lightly peppered with a few tasteful murders, all of which are solved in calm and timely fashion by an elderly spinster, or titled gentleman.

So get real. In 1926, an English village too far from the nearest main road to merit a reliable bus service is already nervously aware that the threatened General Strike will bring real hunger. The policeman’s wife senses that the local Police Inspector is going to take out his frustration over this crime on her husband. That’ll mean humiliation, unemployment and loss of their police house home.

As the gentry talk up the possibility of full scale, communist-led revolution, the feudal certainties of village life are degenerating into a kaleidoscope of scandal. Peggy Pinch can’t even bring herself to say ‘arse’ but that doesn’t protect her from the village scolds. The only thing she can do now is solve the mystery, by Thursday.

Book review: Mystic Investigators: Bullets & Brimstone

Mystic Investigators: Bullets & Brimstone
By Patrick Thomas & John L. French
Published by Dark Quest Books
ISBN: 978-0-9826197-3-5
Review copy purchased by reviewer

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Fresh from my review of Stefan Kanfer’s bio of Humphrey Bogart, here’s my review of another Bogie fan created by New York homeboy Patrick Thomas. Those of you familiar with the world of Murphy’s Lore will welcome the return of Negral, the forgotten fire god of Sumeria who became the Devil’s Detective to avoid fading away. Fresh from his triumph in Patrick’s previous publication, “Lore and Dysorder”, which this book keeps referring to (or was it this book that preceded “Lore and Dysorder”? Let’s do the Time Warp again!), Negral joins forces with a mortal cop, a police detective named Bianca Jones, to track down one of the Devil’s lost souls. That’s someone who signed a contract with the Devil and tries to get out of it.
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Book review: Lore and Dysorder: The Hell’s Detective Mysteries

Lore and Dysorder: The Hell’s Detective Mysteries
By Patrick Thomas
Padwolf Publishing 2011
Book purchased by Reviewer

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Sure, and if it isn’t another fine book by that fine Irish laddie, Patrick Thomas! This one is about another of the regulars at Bullfinch’s Bar, a forgotten Sumerian fire god who goes by the name Negral. He’s the chief of Hell’s secret police, 666th Precinct, who channels Humphrey Bogart. I kid you not; Negral is such a big Bogie fan that he manifests himself as a tall, dark man in a suit wearing a trench coat and a fedora. He talks tough like Bogie too, and doesn’t bother to tell his suspects their Miranda Rights. That’s because most of them are the damned souls who inhabit Hell, or the demons who own them. Satan thinks so highly of him that he gave him the right to investigate and interrogate any resident of Hell, answering only to His Satanic Majesty.
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Book review: Night of the Living Trekkies

Night of the Living Trekkies
By Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall
Published by Quirk Books
ISBN: 1594744637
Review copy provided by Quirk Books

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Horror and sci-fi have been combined in an unholy and hilarious alliance by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall, both admitted “lifelong science fiction geeks and proud of it”. Inspired by George Romero and Gene Roddenberry, these fanboys have created the ultimate no-win scenario, one that makes the Kobayashi Maru look like deciding between Coke and Pepsi.
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Book review: Boleyn: Tudor Vampire

Boleyn: Tudor Vampire
by Cinsearae S.
Published 2010
ISBN: 1451559496
Review copy provided by the author

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

This book has everything for the reader who loves horror, romance and historic fiction. It’s about Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife, for whom he created a whole new church just so he could divorce his faithful first wife, Katherine of Aragon, to marry her. The author supposes that when Henry got tired of Anne and had her convicted on a slew of made-up charges, among them witchcraft, she was not beheaded like a noblewoman, but hanged like a commoner. Or, as the blurb on the back cover of this fascinating book states, “The slightest tweak in history makes all the difference in the outcome…”
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Book Review: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
By Jane Austin and Ben H. Winters
Published by Quirk Books, Philadelphia, PA 2009
Distributed in North America by Chronicle Books
ISBN: 9781594744426
Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow,

Once again we are entertained, or afflicted, by a smartass who has decided to “improve” Jane Austin by adding an element of horror to one of her classic romance novels. As if “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Seth Grahame-Smith wasn’t bad enough (and by that I mean good enough to be skewered on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”, if it were still on the air, and if anybody brave enough to film PP&Z could be found), we now have “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters”, in which the course of true love not only seldom runs smooth, but frequently has blood-stained water. You see, in this alternate version of Miss Austin’s novel, dear old England has been afflicted by “The Alteration; which had turned the creatures of the ocean against the people of the earth; which made even the tiniest darting minnow and the gentlest dolphin into aggressive, blood-thirsty predators, hardened and hateful towards our bipedal race”.
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Book Review: The Never-Ending Sacrifice

The Never-Ending Sacrifice
By Una McCormack
Published by Simon & Schuster, 2009
ISBN: 1439109613
Review copy purchased by reviewer

Review by Kathryn Ramage

“The author is supposed to be chronicling seven generations of a single family, but he tells the same story over and over again. All the characters live lives of selfless duty to the state, get old and die–and then the next generation comes along and does it all over again!”

“That’s the whole point, Doctor. The repetitive epic is the most elegant form of Cardassian literature, and The Never-Ending Sacrifice is its greatest achievement.”

–Dr. Julian Bashir and Elim Garak, in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, The Wire

The classic Cardassian novel, The Never-Ending Sacrifice by Ulan Corac, opens with a dedication “For Cardassia,” and exemplifies the Cardassian ideal of unwavering dedication to the homeworld and placing the needs of the State above personal considerations. As noted by Dr. Bashir’s and Garak’s discussion above, the plot is extremely repetitive and some readers, particularly human ones, might find it a dreadful bore. Fortunately, Una McCormack’s novel of the same name is neither.
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Book review: Roanoke, A Novel of Elizabethan Intrigue

Roanoke, A Novel of Elizabethan Intrigue
By Margaret Lawrence
Published by Delacorte Press, February 2009
Copy supplied by the publisher
ISBN: 0385342373

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

If you’re looking for a good mystery to read during this Season of the Witch, I recommend “Roanoke”, which is about the first, failed English colony in America. Nobody really knows the ultimate fate of the little group of Englishmen and women who settled on Roanoke Island back in 1585. It’s now a thriving city in the state of Virginia, but back then it was a backwater island up the windswept coast of the Carolinas, past Cape Feare, inhabited by the Secota Indians.
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Book review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
by Jane Austin and Seth Grahame-Smith
Published by Quirk Books, Philadelphia, PA 2009
Distributed in North America by Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA
ISBN 10: 1594743347

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

As a longtime lover of Regency Romance, I thought I would hate reading this satirical version of “Pride and Prejudice”, after Seth Grahame-Smith finished adding his touch of Gothic Horror to the well-loved romantic classic. Surprisingly enough, it turned out to be readable; not only romantic, but funny! Especially in parts where Grahame-Smith expands upon Austin’s sometimes overblown prose to the point where you suspect him of having watched one too many episodes of “Month Python’s Flying Circus”. Continue reading “Book review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”

Book review: The Unit

The Unit
by Ninni Holmqvist
Published by Other Press
ISBN: 978-1-59051-313-2

Review by Ginger Mayerson

Sometime in the not so distant future, in Scandinavia (I assume), laws regarding human usefulness based on age and station have been passed. Women over fifty and men over sixty who are childless or have no dependant family members who “need” them are moved into Units where they are useful for “humane experiments” and spare parts. The Unit is the story of Dorrit Weger who has just turned 50 years old and is obeying the democratically enacted laws of her land.
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