No Words Wasted Sale
 
 

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

Customer Comments

nrlymrtl has commented on (240) products.

Blood on the Mississippi by Colin Webster
Blood on the Mississippi

nrlymrtl, January 19, 2015

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it stood well on it’s own.

Clay and Maria are newly weds and they are being constantly attacked as they travel up and down the Mississippi. Maria is a newly minted vampire and still getting use to her powers and how to control her thirst for human blood. Clay turned over a new leaf with his marriage, trying to earn an honest living (usually via gambling) instead of robbing trains. They have a pet vampire horse that was a pretty cool addition to the story. The Order hunts them with priests and guns; a stone angel wants Maria destroyed; and Clay has been invited to an exclusive (and shady) riverboat poker game.

This books starts off with action (a hunt through a moonlit graveyard) and only lets up well past the half-way mark when Clay and Maria are tricked into a deadly game of poker. Maria sleeps buried in the earth (snuggling her pet vampire horse) while Clay roams around buying new clothes, drinking whiskey, gambling, and usually trying to get himself killed. A rather spooky young priest leads the charge in hunting them down, flinging insults at them along with deadly knives. Just when it looks like the two newly weds will get in some quality marital bliss time, the stone angel Michael finds them and attempts to destroy Maria (and Clay along with her since he is deadly earnest in defending her). While each action scene was well written, I found myself in a battle fatigue well before we get to the poker game that takes up the last third of the book. It started to all blur together for me.

The poker game itself had an interesting twist to it that I enjoyed even while the game itself lacked the intensity of the previous obstacle course of gunfights, knife throwing contests, and stone angel evasion. I am not much of a card game player myself, so I think some of the nuances of the poker game were lost on me and that another reader who enjoys poker games would take more enjoyment from these scenes.

The story was full of western cliches and stock idioms. At first, this helped set the scenery and gave me the impression that Clay was not from the Mississippi area (and later we find out that he is from the desert Southwest). But after a while, with repetition of the cliches and idioms, I was a bit dulled by them. Maria herself is from Mexico. She does fight hand to hand several times in the book, but later has to ask what to do with a gun (which might have been in sarcasm but it was unclear), has to be protected and rescued more than once, and doesn’t know how to play poker. I felt that her character was underutilized; she definitely played second fiddle to Clay. In fact, we didn’t have a single other female character until the poker game at the end of the book. So I guess there are know knife-wielding, vampire-arse kicking nuns out there to help out The Order.

The book was mildly entertaining though I can see how the author has left the door open for both character and series growth. There is potential for it to get better as the series continues.

The Narration: Hubert Williams has a deep voice that I enjoyed listening to. However, his accents came and went and were often muddled. Sometimes he seemed to get into a reading rut himself and there was no emotion to the performance. Also, several times throughout the book there was an odd background sound and I think it was the sound of rustling papers as he read.

What I Liked: The setting was fun; plenty of action; the zombie horse was an excellent little addition; the stone angel was worriesome!

What I Disliked: The story was cliched to the point of being predictable and repetitive; I got battle fatigue from the gamut of fights; Maria’s character was underutilized.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No



Mr. Grimm by Drew Avera

nrlymrtl, January 19, 2015

Mr. Alexander Grimm is in servitude. The Twin Cities (Minneapolis & St. Paul) is a special place, concealing a door into The Realms. This is not good for humans as The Realms contain things of myths and legends such as vampires and demons. Mr. Grimm serves The Raven, who rules over The Realms with an iron fist. But several factions with The Realms would like to see a change in leadership. Mr. Grimm may be the key to that change.

This was a dark urban fantasy that was treat to listen to. Avera has created a noir world, albeit much of it behind the scenes. It’s gritty and dangerous, with things waiting the shadows. I loved the mystery to the story, the hint of deeper secrets to be told in forthcoming installments. Mr. Grimm is a deeply conflicted character. He’s in servitude to a vampire (that he hates) and yet he is pretty darn good at carrying out his job ��" taking out anyone The Raven points his finger at. He has a daughter he must protect at all costs and as the years go by, that cost becomes steeper and steeper.

I only have one quibble. There was a leap in time in the storyline and it had me slightly confused for a bit. During the first part of the story, Mr. Grimm is a family man, but then we move forward a decade or so. Perhaps the first part of the story was flashback for Mr. Grimm? I’m still not sure. Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The secret world that Mr. Grimm moves through was intriguing and I look forward to listening to future installments of this series.

Narration: Al Kessel did a great job. He was a good voice for Mr. Grimm. He also did a few accents competently and had distinct male and female voices. His French vampire is entirely creepy, in a sophisticated way.

What I Liked: Dark, noir feel to the story; plenty of mystery left to explore; intriguing characters all over the place; Mr. Grimm is left in an impossible position.

What I Disliked: I didn’t like the cover for the audiobook (seen here are the right), so I used the ebook cover for this review; there is one time leap in the storyline that caused some little confusion.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No



Jack Templar Monster Hunter by Jeff Gunhus
Jack Templar Monster Hunter

nrlymrtl, January 19, 2015

Jack Smith, who will be 14 tomorrow, is headed off to school for another boring, mundane day. Or perhaps not. He’s feeling stronger, faster, more agile than ever before. And strange things keep happening ��" like the creepy dude of pale skin on the way to school who wished him an early happy birthday. Then there was challenging the school bully while protecting his friend, and winning. But things got really weird with the principle, who seems to be more monster than school matron. Pretty soon, Jack is caught up in battling monsters left and right, his aunt is more than she seems, and the Monster Hunters (a secret society) need Jack because he may be the ‘One’.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read filled with plenty of action and monsters out of myths and legends. While it has a definite Young Adult genre feel to it, we also had some darker issues in the background which gave it a touch of seriousness that pulled it all together for me. Jack is a fun kid who has a secret identity that even he isn’t aware of at the start of the story. He has a crush on a girl at school, but is too shy to do anything about it. He has 2 friends in the school who are both outcasts (each for different reasons). And his parents died when he was kid, leaving him to be raised by his Aunt Sophie (who has secrets of her own).

Then in steps Eva and she is an awesome one-handed (the other being whatever weapon she needs at the time that can screw on to her stump cover) Monster Hunter. She shows up and starts explaining the rules of the whole Creach society (the monsters ��" creatures) and what the Black Guard (Monster Hunters) are all about. However, she keeps getting interrupted by this flow of monsters who want Jack either dead or captured. This creates a great pacing of the story, where we get these little tidbits of background in between action scenes. No big info dumps here!

But if you are concerned that this is just one big monster slayer fest, don’t worry! Some of these ‘monsters’ have more going on for them. Of course, this leads to grief and consternation for some of the Monster Hunters. That was quite OK with me, as it added another layer to the story and left plenty for the author to explore in future installments of the series.

The book does break the fourth wall and speak directly to the reader several times through out the tale. Mostly, this is Jack telling us (the readers) to beware! Horrid monsters will hunt us if we read this book! While I didn’t exactly dislike these sections, I felt that they were so much younger than the tale itself and the break in narration always took me out of the story. I think I would have preferred to just let the story speak for itself.

What I Liked: The cover art; Jack is easy to get attached to; monsters galore!; not all the characters (including the monsters) are what they seem at first glance; loyalty of friends; Jack’s secret past.

What I Disliked: The narration breaks at several points so that Jack can speak directly to the readers, and this kept taking out of the story when I just wanted to stay in the story.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No



Jack Templar Monster Hunter by Jeff Gunhus
Jack Templar Monster Hunter

nrlymrtl, January 19, 2015

Jack Smith, who will be 14 tomorrow, is headed off to school for another boring, mundane day. Or perhaps not. He’s feeling stronger, faster, more agile than ever before. And strange things keep happening ��" like the creepy dude of pale skin on the way to school who wished him an early happy birthday. Then there was challenging the school bully while protecting his friend, and winning. But things got really weird with the principle, who seems to be more monster than school matron. Pretty soon, Jack is caught up in battling monsters left and right, his aunt is more than she seems, and the Monster Hunters (a secret society) need Jack because he may be the ‘One’.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read filled with plenty of action and monsters out of myths and legends. While it has a definite Young Adult genre feel to it, we also had some darker issues in the background which gave it a touch of seriousness that pulled it all together for me. Jack is a fun kid who has a secret identity that even he isn’t aware of at the start of the story. He has a crush on a girl at school, but is too shy to do anything about it. He has 2 friends in the school who are both outcasts (each for different reasons). And his parents died when he was kid, leaving him to be raised by his Aunt Sophie (who has secrets of her own).

Then in steps Eva and she is an awesome one-handed (the other being whatever weapon she needs at the time that can screw on to her stump cover) Monster Hunter. She shows up and starts explaining the rules of the whole Creach society (the monsters ��" creatures) and what the Black Guard (Monster Hunters) are all about. However, she keeps getting interrupted by this flow of monsters who want Jack either dead or captured. This creates a great pacing of the story, where we get these little tidbits of background in between action scenes. No big info dumps here!

But if you are concerned that this is just one big monster slayer fest, don’t worry! Some of these ‘monsters’ have more going on for them. Of course, this leads to grief and consternation for some of the Monster Hunters. That was quite OK with me, as it added another layer to the story and left plenty for the author to explore in future installments of the series.

The book does break the fourth wall and speak directly to the reader several times through out the tale. Mostly, this is Jack telling us (the readers) to beware! Horrid monsters will hunt us if we read this book! While I didn’t exactly dislike these sections, I felt that they were so much younger than the tale itself and the break in narration always took me out of the story. I think I would have preferred to just let the story speak for itself.

What I Liked: The cover art; Jack is easy to get attached to; monsters galore!; not all the characters (including the monsters) are what they seem at first glance; loyalty of friends; Jack’s secret past.

What I Disliked: The narration breaks at several points so that Jack can speak directly to the readers, and this kept taking out of the story when I just wanted to stay in the story.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No



Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

nrlymrtl, January 16, 2015

I learned and I laughed. I read another chapter, quirked my eyebrow once again, and laughed some more. Packing for Mars is my third Mary Roach book and it is just as intriguing and entertaining as the other two, Stiff and Bonk. This book is about space ��" what we’ve pondered, what we’ve done, trials and tribulations of doing it, and what we hope to do next. I’ve never really paid much attention to the space program. I mean it currently isn’t much like Star Trek or Battle Star Galactica. So you all probably already know some of these facts.

About 90% of an International Space Station (ISS) mission is spent on repairing, assembling, or maintaining the station. Space stations have by and large dispensed with seats as there is no need due to zero gravity.

The early days of cross-cultural missions lead to some misunderstandings. One dude would occasionally light a bit of trimmed hair on fire. He was use to Spanish haircuts where the barber singes the ends of the hair. It made him feel at home while at the same time nauseating his colleagues. I have to wonder if he was making up the ‘Spanish barber’ part.

I learned that such a thing as Earth-sickness exists for some returning astronauts. A lot of study has gone into motion-sickness to benefit the space program. Unless you have a specially malformed inner ear, you get motion sickness to some degree when you go into space. Those little stones that roll around in you inner ear and sit on tiny hairs ��" allowing you to sense if you are lying on your side or standing upright ��" they float in space, same as everything else. There’s a great chapter is this book that talks about what havoc human vomit can wreak in a space suit, shuttle, or station. Regurgitation is nearly always inconvenient, but even more so with zero gravity. Oddly, guinea pigs and rabbits appear to be immune to motion sickness.

The Antarctic Research Stations have acted as impromptu astronaut training grounds and recruitment pool. For years, women were not allowed at the Antarctic Research Stations ��" mirroring Space. This despite the fact that women in general are smaller, more compact, and consume less food and water (based on studies and not just my snotty opinion). There is also some crater in northern Canada where extraterrestrial ATVs are tested out along with moon/Mars treading suits. We take the harshest environments Earth has to offer and try to pretend we’re on the moon or Mars, or the ISS. Except for that gravity bit. Oh, and lunar dust. Since there is no wind or water to take the edge off the dust particles of the moon, they remain sharp. With no gravity, the dust tends to coat everything.

There was a time when we didn’t know what zero gravity would do to a human ��" Madness? Would your eyes boil? Would internal organs fail? A series of tests were done over the years starting with animals in rockets. Eventually, we moved on to parabolic flights. This is basically like a roller coaster ��" up and down and up and down again. At the crest, we achieve about 20 seconds of zero Gs. Each flight usually consists of multiple crests. Parabolic tests continue on today ��" mostly for equipment, like new toilet designs. So if you sign up to test out equipment for space, you might end up in a special seat on a parabolic flight.

Approximately 50% of humans have the gut flora to produce methane in their flatulence. Hence, some people can light their toots on fire and some can’t. I bet you can guess which is preferable in an astronaut. Only body fluids exposed directly to a vacuum boil. So if you stick your arm out in space, your blood, as long as it remains on the inside, will not boil. I am not saying it’s good for you to wave your arm out in a vacuum. I’m just saying boiling body fluids won’t be one of your concerns. Still, don’t be a dumb ass.

In space, your organs float giving you a most desirable waist line. Blood also tends to pool in the upper half of the body, sending erroneous signals to the brain that you have too much blood. So two things happen: 1) you drop like 10+% of your water and 2) your body cuts back on blood production. If you stay in space long enough, when you come back you have to contend with the need to build your blood supply back up. Additionally, most astronauts suffer considerable bone loss. Most of this bone loss can be rebuilt over time.

I’ll leave this tidbit as a close ��" male dolphins have prehensile penises. Yeah ��" go ponder why that was in Packing for Mars.

What I Liked: Everything!; some of the most entertaining non-fiction I have read; so informative and laugh-worthy at the same time; now I have extra trivia to liven up the next boring office party!

What I Disliked: Nothing ��" this was a great book!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No



1-5 of 240next
spacer
spacer
  • back to top

FOLLOW US ON...

     
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.