Archive for June, 2012

Dead End Deal

Dead End Deal by Allen Wyler

4 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) World renowned neurosurgeon Jon Ritter is on the verge of a medical breakthrough that will change the world. His groundbreaking surgical treatment, using transplanted non-human stem cells, is set to eradicate the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease and give hope to millions. But when the procedure is slated for testing, it all comes to an abrupt and terrifying halt. Ritter’s colleague is gunned down and Ritter himself is threatened by a radical anti-abortion group that not only claims responsibility, but promises more of the same.

Faced with a dangerous reality but determined to succeed, Ritter turns to his long-time colleague, corporate biotech CEO Richard Stillman, for help. Together, they conspire to conduct a clandestine clinical trial in Seoul, Korea. But the danger is more determined, and more lethal, than Ritter could have imagined.

After successful surgical trials, Ritter and his allies are thrown into a horrifying nightmare scenario: The trial patients have been murdered and Ritter is the number one suspect. Aided by his beautiful lab assistant, Yeonhee, Ritter flees the country, now the target of an international manhunt involving Interpol, the FBI, zealous fanatics and a coldly efficient assassin named Fiest.

Jon Ritter has spent the last ten years working on stem cell research in the hopes to cure dementia. On night as he is leaving his office, two guys approach him. They demand that he stop his “baby killing” work. When a Jon’s mentor happens into the confrontation, he is shot and killed. The FBI gets called in because of recent activities from the Avengers group. This is a radical group that puts different doctors that are working on stem cells on their “hit list.” Jon was placed on the list two months prior.

Jon is in a panic and decides to accept an offer from Richard Stillman, leader at Trophozyme Corporation. Jon does not want to commercialize the cure, but feels there is no other way to continue trials, especially since they are on the verge of human trials. Jon strikes a deal with Richard to go to Korea and perform human trials with a scientist he worked with years before, Jin-Woo.

But Jon is not free to go on with the trials. Shortly after agreeing to work with Richard, he is attacked again. Then he is followed to Korea where things take a drastic turn for the worse. Now Jon needs to try to get back home, clear his name from the murder charges, and figure out who is trying to stop his work.

This was an interesting story. Here is this guy that is so driven to find a cure for dementia that he would leave the country and try to fly under the radar just to see it succeed. It’s amazing how fast things go wrong for him. There is great action and an interesting story. The running around reminds me of the Bourne stories.

The only thing that I noticed was the story seemed to drag in some parts. It felt like you had to keep repeating that portion of the story before it skipped on to the next step.

Beyond that, I thought it was a good story. If you like medical thrillers, you will really like this one. Now I’m going to have to read Allen’s other stories.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Darkest Desire: The Wolf’s Own Tale by Anthony Schmitz

4 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Wolf’s life in the wood might be happy, except for one problem. He can’t control his urge to devour children who stumble across his path. His runaway desires have made him an outcast among his peers. He lives an unhappy, solitary life — until he encounters the Brothers Grimm. Wolf is thrilled to realize that in the presence of these scholars, he can speak. The Grimms take Wolf into their camp, fill him with brandy, and poke at the source of his easily apparent unhappiness. When they learn the truth about Wolf’s cravings, they propose a cure.

Now Wolf must make a decision. Can the satisfaction of a “normal” life outweigh the joys of his perversion? Are his desires truly dreanged, or is he simply giving full expression to his personal nature? Does he have an obligation — as his occasional companion Devil argues — to live as a unique individual in the manner to which he was born? Wolf trust his new friends, and agrees to their cure. The brothers construct a complicated and dangerous scenario to discover how Wolf will behave. Is Wolf nothing more than a subject for research? The Grimms no more than conniving reporters?Ultimately, Wolf, Devil, the Brothers Grimm, an outraged Frau, and her endangered babe collide at a pool in the dark wood to settle ancient questions: Can the deepest and most perverse desires ever be overruled? Or more important, “should they?

Wolf is an outcast amount his kind. He desires the flesh of people, especially children. He feels wrong about his desires but, like any addict, can’t stop himself. It doesn’t help that Devil keeps encouraging him.

One night he stumbles on the Brothers Grimm in the forest. He is drawn to their story about wolves but is discovered when he voices his disapproval over the treatment of wolves. When asked about his darkest desire, he admits his passion for children and how he wishes to not have that craving. The Brother’s Grimm offers to cure him.

This is a good twist to the standard fairytales. We see the story through Wolf’s eyes and realize that he is more of an addict than evil creature. That doesn’t make him any better of a creature or justify what he does. I liked the Brother’s Grimm. They are portrayed in a manner that I think would be closer to home in real life. It makes you think about the real truths behind the stories.

I liked this story. I think if you like twisted fairytales you would really be drawn to this book. I am definitely going to be getting Anthony Schmitz’s other stories.

I received this book for free from the Library Thing Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review.

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The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14 year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda’s world but at home Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda’s life is her family’s Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation.

Determined to find her friend Jesús, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Boquillas, Mexico. There a peyote-addled bartender convinces her she won’t be safe traveling alone into the country’s interior. So with the bartender’s help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús.

Thus begins a wild adventure that explores the borders between the United States and Mexico, adolescence and adulthood, male and female, English and Spanish, and adult coming-of-age and Young Adult novels.

Rhonda has a tough life. He father owns a big pharmacy and brings home drugs to keep her mother mellow. He only friend is Jesus, the Mexican gardener. When he paints the trees, the homeowners association rallies together and calls INS and has him deported. This along with other things sets Rhonda’s mom off. Her father doesn’t help matters when he challenges her to do the right thing for Rhonda.

Rhonda is asked on a father/daughter vacation with her friends. Other stuff happens on the camping trip, which makes her feel hurt and alone. She decides to cross the Rio Grande and find Jesus. She believes that if she finds her Jesus, then everything will be put right.

The story follows her as she looses everything, decides to reinvent herself, and meets a variety of people that help her on her way. These different encounters and events help her to fill the dark hole in her and help her to mature. I don’t want to go too much into the story and give away what happens.

I liked this book. I admit that it was a little hard to get into. But after the first fifty pages, I started getting sucked into Rhonda/Angels adventure. It is a heart-breaking journey that she goes on. There is everything from starvation, drug use, robbery, and rage amount a few things that happen. I felt so bad for Rhonda and came to accept her ask Angel.

I loved the ending. This poor girl that had so much happen to her but she uses it to grow into a strong young woman. This is a must read book. I admit that I’m not one that usually picks up stories like this. Step out of your comfort zone and read this book!

I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Black Light

Black Light by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, and Stephen Romano

4 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) If you have a supernatural problem that won’t go away, you need Buck Carlsbad: private eye, exorcist, and last resort.

Buck’s got a way with spirits that no one else can match. He was normal, once. Until Something Horrible killed his parents and left him for dead.

Buck has spent years using his gift to trace his family. It’s his only hope of finding out what happened to them-and what made him the way he is.

Now the voices say that something big is coming. Buck already knows what it is-a super high-tech bullet train running express across a stretch of unforgiving desert known for the most deadly paranormal events in history. A place where Buck almost died a few years ago, and where he swore he would never return.

But as the train prepares to rumble down the tracks, Buck knows it can only be the inevitable hand of fate pulling him back to the most harrowing unfinished case of his career at four hundred miles per hour.

We start the story as Buck is extracting the ghost of a pedophile from his own home. He absorbs the Mark then later locks the remains in a silver urn. This is hard on Buck and takes time off of his life, which is measured in gray hairs. Buck is one of a handful of people that can remove spirits from the areas that they are haunting. This is not a pretty procedure or one that is healthy; most of the people that have these skills turn to alcohol to live with what they do.

Buck also has parental issues. He remembers nothing before he was found at the age of seven. He is trying to find out more about his parents. When he has a Mark inside him, he sees glimpses of the past and has been able to retrieve items from the past. But this power comes with a price. The deeper he goes, the harder it is to return to real life.

He is convinced to help out Jaeger Laser with some trouble he has had on a new super fast train that he has made to link LA to Las Vegas. It seems that the train runs through a section of haunted area called the Triangle. This is a super high concentration of spirits. Buck has had some experience in the Triangle that got him the closest to finding out about his parents and almost killed him.

Because of his past, he decides to help out incase he can find out more about what happened to his parents. But when the train gets moving, things go to hell very fast. This is going to be the biggest job of Bucks life, if he can survive it.

I liked this story. There is a great concept and I was very surprised by the ending. I have to say that the descriptions of when Buck was in the Blacklight were a little disjointed. They are short, blunt statements that did get a little annoying after a while.

Having said that, I did like the book and would recommend it to those that like the paranormal thrillers. I would be interested in finding out if there may be a sequel. There is the possibility.

I received this book from the Goodreads First Read program in exchange for an honest review.

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Dead of Night

Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave.  But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects.  Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up.  Hungry.  Infected.  Contagious.  This is the way the world ends.  Not with a bang…but a bite.

The story starts at Hartnup’s Transition Estate, the local funeral home. The body of recently executed murderer Homer Gibbons has just arrived. A last minute change of plans has Homer coming to his aunt instead of the usual prison grave. But Homer is not really dead, and he is very hungry.

Dez, Desdemona Fox, and her partner JT Hammond are called out to check out the funeral home. When they get there, they find the mortician and the housekeeper chewed on and dead and an empty body bag. When backup arrives, that’s when everything goes bonkers when the mortician and housekeeper start snacking on the local police.

At the same time, reporter Billy Trout has hear about the mysterious aunt that wants Homer Gibbons buried with family. There he stumbles upon Dr. Herman Volker. He used to experiment on people during the war. He was sent to the states, under supervision, to keep versions of those experiments going. When he stumbled upon Homer Gibbons crimes, he felt he must act. He injects Homer with Lucifer 113, a concoction that will keep him alive as he rots in his grave at the prison. Unfortunately, with Homer being moved elsewhere, Lucifer 113 has broke out.

Now Dez, JT, and Trout are trying their best to stop the spread of Lucifer 113. But when the government steps up, help is the furthest thing going to be offered.

I loved this story. It has elements of possibilities that could come true. There is a great concept for the zombies and I loved the interaction with the government. If you are a zombie lover, you will want to read this book. I’m sad to admit that it was the first Jonathan Maberry story but I’m sure to hunt down his other books and catch up.

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Fairy Metal Thunder by JL Bryan

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) A rock & roll fairy tale.

Jason plays guitar in a teenage garage band called the Assorted Zebras, but they have no fans, no gigs, and they’re going nowhere. Even worse, Jason has a crush on their lead singer, but she doesn’t seem interested in him at all.

Then Jason steals instruments from the fairy world. Soon the band is enchanting crowds, and Jason is a step closer to the girl of his dreams, but the new gear is brimming with dangerous and destructive magic they can’t control.

Their shortcut to success has cost a troupe of innocent fairies their livelihood and turned Jason and his band into enemies of the powerful Queen Mab, who sends supernatural bounty hunters to track them down, including one of my the most dangerous creatures in Faerie…a small unicorn named Buttercake.

Jason plays in a garage band that doesn’t look like it’s going to go much further than their garage. His parents are also not accepting him hanging around troublemakers and wasting time instead of working.

One night when he is babysitting his sister, he discovers a little green man stealing his mother’s earrings. Jason follows him to fairyland. While waiting for the goblin Grizlemor to find the earrings, Jason sees four fairies playing instruments while children dance in a circle. He decides to take the instruments back to the human world for his band.

At first the other band members don’t believe that the instruments are from fairy, but when they start playing and it seems their music attracts everyone, they start to believe. Then when they bring Mitch’s house down, they realize what they have.

In the mean time, an elf has been hired to hunt down the instruments with his unicorn. We also follow the original owners of the instruments as they are punished for the loss of the instruments and how they have to try and go on making a living.

I really liked this story. It’s a modern twist on the fairytale and it has the true, dark fairytale creatures. I got sucked into the story and couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I felt for poor Jason, but I have a feeling that his luck will improve in the next story or two. I definitely will be buying the next books. I think this is a story that anyone would enjoy.

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Where Darkness Dwells by Glen Krisch

4 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) During a hot summer night in 1934, tragedy strikes when two local boys search for the truth behind a local legend. They stumble upon the Underground, a network of uncharted caverns just below the surface of Coal Hollow. Time holds no sway in the Underground. People no longer age and their wounds heal as if by magic. By morning, one boy is murdered, while the other never returns home.

The Underground is hidden for a reason. Certain locals want to keep their lair secret, no matter the cost.

After learning a long-held family secret, Theodore Cooper is set adrift. Once well off and set in his ways, he is no longer sure of his role in society. He leaves his comfortable life in Chicago to tramp the countryside, searching for meaning in this new context. During his travels, he’s drawn to an abandoned house in Coal Hollow and impulsively buys it.

Cooper doesn’t know that a massacre had taken place in his new house. In 1851, a group of bounty hunters tracked a family of runaway slaves to the home. They wound up killing the homeowners as conspirators, then chased the runaways into a cellar tunnel leading to the Underground. The bounty hunters cornered the slaves and killed them. To everyone’s astonishment, the slaves then rose from the dead. Over time, the bounty hunters chose to stay below ground, taking advantage of their new slave labor to build what they term “Paradise.”

Their numbers are augmented by deathbed miners who are offered immorality in exchange for their subservience and labor.

Below a town struggling to survive both the Great Depression and the closing of the local coal mine, there lives an immortal society built on the backs of slavery and pervasive immorality.

The story starts with two teenagers, George and Jimmy, going to have one last midnight adventure. The plan is to sneak into the abandoned coal mines to get White Bane, a legendary fish. But while there, they stumble upon something they shouldn’t. Jimmy is caught and George makes a break for it.

Then a hobo named Cooper wanders into Coal Hallow. While coming into town, he sees an abandoned house and is being pulled to it. There is something about that house that he needs to know.

Ellie, George’s sister, and Jacob, Jimmy’s brother, search for Jimmy after George’s body is found. They go see Greta, the local witch woman. She confirms that Jimmy is close by. But Jimmy’s mother would rather believe that Jimmy ran off to the army and to avoid his responsibilities.

But there is a darker possibility, the Underground. A special place where people don’t die, where they stay young and heal from injuries. But this is not the wonderful world it sounds like. Those that found the place have become full of hate and have corrupted their world.

This was an interesting read. I don’t know what I was expecting but it sure wasn’t what happened. I loved the concept of the Underground. I would have liked to find out where it came from. Great idea with the residents and what happens to them. I’ll admit that I’m a little torn on the ending. I feel like it could have ended with a little bit more dynamic finish to the Underground.

Beyond that, I did really like this story. For those people that like thrillers and horror stories, I think you would really like this story. I can’t wait to read more of Glen Krisch’s stories.

I received this book from Library Things and the author in exchange for an honest review.

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