My Bookish Ways

The Kills: The Massive by Richard House

thekillsThe Kills: The Massive by Richard House (Picador, August 2014)-The US release of The Kills is actually four books in one, and after starting off with a bang with Sutler, it’s time to move onto Book 2: The Massive. The Massive is the “city” at Camp Liberty that all that money that disappeared in Sutler was supposed to fund. It’s Iraq, it’s hot, bullets are flying, IEDs are par for the course, and while the work pays well (if you can get it), it can also be backbreaking and emotionally difficult. House’s introduction to The Massive is grueling, detailing the lives, and deaths, of a group of men called Unit 7, operating under Rem Gunnersen (recruited by old Geezler himself.) It’s a grim opener, but a nonetheless fascinating rundown of lives ruined by HOSCO and their own bad decisions, and it goes far in setting up the main story itself.

Rem’s marriage is stagnating and his business is failing. He owes employees money and is reeling after one of them commits numerous thefts while on the job. Cue Paul Geezler. He’s got an offer that Rem finds hard to refuse, and although Rem has done contract work in Kuwait before, this is a different animal. But, the money is good and he wants to make things right with not only his employees, but also his wife, Cathy, who’s having issues of her own. Geezler, however, wants more than just to give Rem a job. He wants Rem to keep an eye on the operation and report back to him. Rem agrees. After completing a questionable bit of “training”, Rem is sent to Amrah City, more specifically, the Amrah City Section Base (ACSB) and spends quite a bit of time there before finally ending up, with the team that he hand picks, at Camp Liberty, aka Camp Crapper. This is where the burn pits are, and every manner of substance is burned there. The team is in a remote area of Iraq, with substandard equipment, no clear instructions as to what exactly they’re supposed to be doing, and among some of the most dangerous substances known to mankind.

Then Stephen Lawrence Sutler shows up with plans for The Massive…

Sutler, the first book, dealt with Sutler’s flight from Southern-CIPA during an explosion and subsequent frame job for the theft of millions of dollars. The Massive is the story that leads up to that flight, but we’re not in Sutler territory anymore. This is Rem’s story. I’m sure you probably think that the work of US contractors in the Middle East isn’t very interesting. You’ll think differently after reading this book.  It’s fascinating. The narrative alternates between Rem and his men at Camp Liberty, and his wife, Cathy, back in Chicago. Cathy, to her dawning horror, does some digging of her own into the kinds of substances that her husband is burning in Iraq, and eventually begins corresponding with family members of Rem’s team.

Hieronymus Bosch has got nothing on these burn pits. This is not the stuff of fiction, and they’re just now starting to recognize the health horrors that might be a very real consequence of manning these open pits, that use jet fuel, and other things, in the burning of toxic substances. Do a search online for Iraq burn pits and you can find some mind blowing photos. But, I digress…

Rem is a man who cares too much doing a job where one can’t really afford to care, and after Sutler arrives, he feels everything start to slowly slip through his fingers. To him, the idea of building a city out in the desert, from scratch, is a ridiculous notion and struggles to understand his team’s place in this seemingly outlandish scheme, while his wife does her best to understand what might be happening to Rem and his men, and as a gulf widens between them that’s more than just physical distance.

This is heady, intense, sometimes melancholy stuff, made even more so by its basis in reality. Big themes like the aftermath of war, government responsibility, and just generally things that can sometimes be so big, so awful, that our eyes just skim right over them, come together into one fantastic, very tense narrative, and he does all this without sacrificing a bit of his characters’ humanity, while never underestimating their capacity for greed. It was also quite interesting to see Sutler from a completely different point of view. Of course, House continues his sly references to events in the other three books. These books are very smart,very scary, and very cool. Richard House, frankly, should be a household name. Stay tuned for Book 3: The Kill.

September 2014 New Releases in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

Here are the new releases in SF, Fantasy, and Horror for September 2014. You’re sure to find something to fatten up your TBR list! 


September 1st-8th, 2014:

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September 2014 New Releases in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction

Here are the new releases in Mystery, Suspense, and Fiction for September 2014. Look at all the pretty covers!! 


September 2nd-8th, 2014:

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It’s time for the weekly Kindle deal round up (they’re all under $5)!

Lots of great deals, all under $5! As always, double checking before you click the Buy button is always in order, because sometimes these deals don’t last long. Lots of great stuff here, just in time for the holiday weekend!


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Catching up with Delilah S. Dawson, author of Servants of the Storm

Please welcome Delilah S. Dawson back to the blog! Her brand new book, SERVANTS OF THE STORM, just came out this month, and I was thrilled to catch up with her about it, and more!


delilahdawsonI’m very excited about Servants of the Storm! Will you tell us more about the book and what inspired you to write it?
Sure! Servants of the Storm is a Southern Gothic Horror YA set in Savannah, Georgia and focusing on Dovey Greenwood, whose best friend Carly died a year ago in a freak hurricane. When she sees Carly at their favorite coffee shop, she impulsively flushes her antipsychotics to find out what really happened to her friend. As it turns out, her meds were actually part of the demon magic devouring Savannah, a dark world gradually revealed as she chases clues with the help of her childhood friend Baker and a new, dangerous guy named Isaac.

The idea came from a photoset of Six Flags New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina destroyed it. I wanted to write a story about it, but I’d never been to New Orleans at the time and didn’t want to do a disservice to those who lived through Katrina. So I moved the story to my husband’s home town, Savannah, invented a hurricane to wreck it, and built Dovey’s world on the places we visit there.

I’ve never seen an albino alligator in the wild, though. Yet. ;)

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Giveaway: The Maze Runner Movie and Book Prize Pack

The Maze Runner movie, based on the best selling book by James Dashner, is coming to theaters on September 19th, and courtesy of 20th Century Fox, we’ve got a great prize pack to give away to one lucky winner (US only), just fill out the widget at the bottom of the post, and good luck (I’ll pick a winner on Sept. 6th)!

Also, you can find out more about THE MAZE RUNNER on Facebook and Twitter!


The Prize Pack includes:

  • $25 Visa gift card to see the film in theaters
  • Copy of the book (movie tie-in cover)
  • Money Maze

MazeRunner-Prize
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Acceptance (Southern Reach #3) by Jeff VanderMeer

acceptanceAcceptance by Jeff VanderMeer (FSG, Sept. 2nd)-Please note: There are no spoilers for this book, but may be minor spoilers for previous books.

Have you read Annihilation and Authority and now you’re ready for some answers? Jeff VanderMeer delivers the answers you want, and much more, in Acceptance, the final book in the Southern Reach Trilogy. This is a hard one to review, because it’s kind of the “big reveal” book, although it’s really not VanderMeer’s style to smack you in the face with shocking revelations. Shocking things do happen, to be sure, but events unfold like one of the deadly flowers you might find in Area X, and you’ll find, while reading, that all the clues were there, in this, and the first two books, and the author wisely trusts his readers to follow the cleverly scattered breadcrumbs.

In Acceptance, we join up with Control and Ghost Bird as they head back into Area X, in search of a team member that Ghost Bird is intimately connected to. The lighthouse keeper, Saul Evans, is a huge part of the story, and his is a poignant and important one, as one of the first to experience the otherworldly encroachment of Area X. The psychologist/Director gets her own story, and it humanizes a figure that seemed a little to the left of human in Annihilation. If you’ll remember, she was manipulating her team, and eventually, as everything fell apart around her, she found herself succumbing to Area X. Perhaps, among the most important things for me, was the mystery of what happened to the biologist, and she has her say as well.

Keep in mind, the border of Area X has shifted drastically, and it seems to be continuing its advance, but what does that mean for mankind? This trilogy is very much about transformation, of the literal and figurative kind, and the author does a phenomenal job in filling out each character’s background, and their motivations. The alternating narrative carries an undeniable sense of creeping dread, a prelude to a quiet apocalypse, but no less terrifying for its subtlety. We learn about who these people were, before Area X took over their existence, and it’s their very human need for answers, at almost any cost, that leads them to their ultimate destination, and sometimes, to their utter doom, although some are caught up in Area X through no fault of their own.

The wild and terrifying beauty that is Area X, and VanderMeer’s ability to create such a rich, immersive, fully realized place, is one of the things that makes these books what they are, and indeed, Area X is a living, breathing character all its own. Area X is the soft rustle of the leaves, a night sky full of alien stars, and the ripples on an ocean as a leviathan breaches the surface, so similar, yet so different from our own natural world. Disturbing, strange, and beautiful in equal measure, Acceptance, like Annihilation and Authority, will transport you, and it brings the trilogy full circle. Books like this don’t come around very often, and this is a series not to be missed.

Interview: Susan Klaus, author of Flight of the Golden Harpy

Please welcome Susan Klaus to the blog! Her new book, FLIGHT OF THE GOLDEN HARPY, just came out in June, and she kindly stopped by to answer a few questions about it!


susanklausWill you tell us more about Flight of the Golden Harpy and what inspired you to write it?
Flight of the Golden Harpy takes place on a futuristic jungle planet that hosts a winged species called harpies. The human colonists believe harpies are dangerous feral animals, rumored to steal and molest women. Despite their slender humanoid frames, harpies are hunted like wild game and their mounted wings are considered prized trophies.

The story begins with Kari, a ten-year-old girl fighting for her life when an eel-like creature snatches her off a lake bank. A teenage golden harpy flies in and saves her. Ten years later and now a young woman, Kari returns from Earth schools to her home planet, hoping her handsome savior, the rare blond, yellow-winged male, has outwitted the hunters over the years and is still alive. Kari dismisses the rumors that harpies are treacherous monsters and is determined to help them. But all the while, she questions her commitment to the harpies and why she is enchanted and drawn to the golden male. Kari, in part, is a main character, but the true protagonist is Shail, the golden harpy monarch who faces a life-and-death battle to save his flock from mankind.

Award-winning author, Barbara D’Amato probably best describes my novel in her blurb, “Flight of the Golden Harpy is a saga of racial hostility between human and the near-human harpies, of environmental destruction versus preservation, and daughter-father misunderstandings. But most of all, it’s a story of star-crossed lovers, a human woman and her beloved harpy.”

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Giveaway: One of Us by Tawni O’Dell

Do you love suspense? Courtesy of the lovely folks at Gallery Books, I’ve got a copy of ONE OF US, the new book by Tawni O’Dell, up for grabs, and I want you to win it! Check out the details and good luck! I’ll pick a winner on Sept. 5th (US only).


oneofusAbout ONE OF US:
Dr. Sheridan Doyle—a fastidiously groomed and TV-friendly forensic psychologist—is the go-to shrink for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office whenever a twisted killer’s mind eludes other experts. But beneath his Armani pinstripes, he’s still Danny Doyle, the awkward, terrified, bullied boy from a blue-collar mining family, plagued by panic attacks and haunted by the tragic death of his little sister and mental unraveling of his mother years ago.

Returning to a hometown grappling with its own ghosts, Danny finds a dead body at the infamous Lost Creek gallows where a band of rebellious Irish miners was once executed. Strangely, the body is connected to the wealthy family responsible for the miners’ deaths. Teaming up with veteran detective Rafe, a father-like figure from his youth, Danny—in pursuit of a killer—comes dangerously close to startling truths about his family, his past, and himself.

In this masterfully told psychological thriller in the vein of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, the past and present collide to put Lost Creek’s long-lived ghosts to bed.


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The Winter Long (October Daye #8) by Seanan McGuire

thewinterlongThe Winter Long by Seanan McGuire (DAW-Sept. 2nd, 2014)-The Winter Long is so chock full of revelations, and more than a few answered questions, that revealing any of them, would pretty thoroughly spoil the book for you. So, I’ll keep it short and sweet, and deliberately, and probably annoyingly, vague. Sorry about that… I mean, seriously, when you see back cover copy like this:

Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score.

She was wrong.

It’s time to learn the truth.

It’s kind of a giveaway that even a vague description of events in the book would be ruinous. I’m gonna give it a try. Toby and Tybalt are enjoying couple time. In fact, they’re enjoying it so much that any expectation of peace can’t possibly be realistic, right? We all know that Toby attracts trouble like white on rice so it’s no surprise when she’s visited by Simon Torquill. Remember him? He’s Sylvester’s twin brother and the charming fellow that turned Toby into a fish (among other things.) He’s desperately trying to tell Toby something, but he’s under a geas, so a big reveal isn’t in the cards. So, Toby and crew go to the best place she knows of to get answers: The Luidaeg. Things don’t quite go as Toby hopes, but she does manage to get a wee bit more info out of The Luidaeg before things go all to hell.

I almost feel like I’m under a geas writing this review, but anyway, another blast from Toby’s past rears, um, its ugly head, and of course, it’s time for Toby to save the day. Like I said, revelations carry the narrative in The Winter Long, and during this journey, Toby will learn some blinding truths about her past, that will have great repercussions on her future, if she lets them. I probably should have just written Betrayals! Revelations! Answers!, and left it at that, so needless to say, McGuire wraps up a ton of plot strings in this one, but as always, a pretty bow tying things up is nowhere to be seen. Seanan McGuire mentions in her acknowledgements that this is the book that all others led up to, that everything she’s done until now was for the sake of getting here. Indeed. What she manages to do is make it very clear how intricate Toby’s story is, and the richness of Toby’s world is a thing of genius. And don’t worry, while The Winter Long clears up a TON of stuff, it’s made clear that Toby’s story is far from over. This is a good thing. The Winter Long is a testament to McGuire’s ability to take so many threads and pull them together into a harrowing, and believable tapestry, and it’s all Toby’s own. While there’s plenty of action, this is one of the most introspective books in the bunch, and of course, another great book in the Toby-verse.

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