A review of “Bled White” by Tim McBain and LT Vargus

 

Deeper and Deeper

Bled White continues Jeff Grobnagger’s story immediately after the close of “Fade to Black”. Waking up in a strange sort of prison after having been kidnapped by Rison Farber, Jeff tries to come to grips with the events of the past few days. Who is this Riston Farber guy? Why did he abduct him and why does he apparently want him dead?  Things get weirder when Ms. Babinaux releases him and then he discovers Farber, burned to a crisp in the middle of nowhere.

So, now the guy who imprisoned him has turned up dead. Sounds good, right? Problem solved.  Then his body goes missing. Who would want a burned-up body of a fanatical spoon flinging cultist? Attempting to answer these questions, Jeff ends up joining the League of Light and working closely with Louise and Ms. Babinaux to try to figure out what is going on. As Jeff gets deeper and deeper into the process of joining the League and associating with one of Farber’s closest associates, he learns almost nothing. As the initiation rituals become more and more bizarre Jeff gets drawn on a path that leads to a dark well and an uncertain outcome.

The best thing about “Bled White” is that it starts good and get better and better with every turn of the page. The blackouts are gone and replaced with the “white world” … an enlightened state that keeps Jeff conscious if not all the way present. I would say that some of these white out episodes are very comical as it appears to the world that Jeff is simply high. These sequences also provide important information for Jeff to digest in his quest for answers. Ms. Babinaux is intriguing as I can’t tell if she is helping Jeff or pushing him toward an ultimate end. As usual with this series the ending is a wild cliffhanger that will have you eagerly reaching for the next book in the series. Jeff is left right in the middle of a WTF moment, if not completely exposed and in danger. An excellent segue into “Red on the Inside”. This series has turned into one that I am eager to continue.

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A review of “Fade to Black” by Tim McBain and LT Vargus

 

 

Who is Jeff Grobnagger? And what does the League of Light care so much?

Jeff Grobnagger is not what you would call your average every day guy. He’s sort of reserved, closed off and anti-social. He’s also prone to falling out in a seizure like state where while he’s out he finds himself hanging by a leg in an alleyway only to be brutally murdered by a mysterious hooded man. Sounds like a doozie of a nightmare but for Jeff, this is life. When he falls out in the middle of the grocery store he catches the eye of a strange man named Glenn who befriends him. Through Glenn, he learns of a secret society who may want him dead, a mysterious Ms. Babinaux and an undercover private eye named Louise who may have more than work in mind where Jeff is concerned. Oh, and did I mention Glenn’s missing daughter Amity and a possibly occult type thing all going on?
Yeah.. there is a lot going on in this book and for most of it I couldn’t help but think, “What the hell did I just read??” As Jeff starts to figure out the dynamics of his “dream state” things get weirder and weirder, culminating in an ending that will leave you screaming “WHAT!!” and reaching for the next book in the series.

Fade to Black is disjointed and a bit disturbing, with a cliffhanger ending to rival the weirdest paranormal tale. A wild ride that has me looking for some answers in the second book.

 

 

A review of “The Voyage” by Roberta Kagan

A fictional story with a historic backdrop

“The Voyage” by Roberta Kagan is a fictional retelling of the passengers of the doomed cruise liner the “MS St. Louis”. Seeking to escape Nazi tyranny roughly 900 Jewish refugees boarded the ship in May of 1939 for a one-way trip to Cuba and relative safety. What they were not aware of was that by the time the ship arrived in Cuban waters, all but a handful of their visas had been invalidated and much of the asylum seekers would be denied entry. What appeared to be a chance of a lifetime, free from Nazi persecution turned into a cruel joke. Not wanting to return the refugees to Germany at all costs, the sympathetic ship’s captain worked diligently for over a month to find a haven for those who were not permitted to disembark in Cuba.  Kagan’s story follows three passengers and a crew member throughout their journey on the St. Louis and beyond as they settle in their new homes and attempt to rebuild their lives.

It is important to keep in mind that this is a fictional story set with a historical backdrop. Much like James Cameron’s retelling of the Titanic disaster, there are some familiar faces, however many of the main characters are products of the author’s imagination. Going into this story with the knowledge that this is not supposed to be a history book retelling can be the difference between a very enjoyable read and massive disappointment. For instance, the thought of a former Dachau occupant setting foot on the St. Louis is about a hard to swallow as a third-class passenger ever being allowed into a first-class dining hall on Titanic. Suspend your belief for the sake of the story at hand, and both premises oddly work.

All nitpicking aside, I really did enjoy this story. Anna and Alex’s story was very well crafted; sweet and tragic at the same time. Alex’s time in Dachau most likely afflicted him with PTSD before there were even words to describe it. Watching him fight to overcome this and build a life outside of the horrors of Nazi Germany had me rooting for him in all his brokenness. Manny was a good friend and bitter rival all rolled up into one and to me represented the despair of the passengers who were unable to leave the ship in Cuba. Elke and Viktor’s story was a tale of forbidden love during one of the most dangerous times in human history. The lengths they go to protect Elke, I’m sure, is only one small example of several other heroes during this dark time in history.

If you are interested in historical fiction and are also interested in World War II stories, I would recommend this novel. Not a “war story” per se, this is more of a tale of the triumph of the human spirit over insurmountable odds.

 

**On a personal note, it is my understanding that Ms. Kagan has done extensive research the Holocaust and many of her novels strive to tell the stories of the survivors, the victims and the culture of the world during that time. The Voyage for me, was enough of an introduction that I plan to read more of this author’s work. Like she has stated in her biography on Amazon, these stories and the people who lived them must not be forgotten.**

 

A review of “Conspiracy: Global Warming” By Lucian

 

Full Disclosure, I received an advance copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Hoax or Real?

Exploring one of the most controversial hotbed topics facing the world today, Lucian has woven a tale of political corruption, lies, cover-up and suspense like nothing I have read in a long time.

The story opens with a nervous Climatology expert and tenured professor at the University of Michigan frantic for his safety. Throughout the course of his research, he has discovered some shocking information that, if released, could be the ruin of the Solar industry. Meeting his demise before he can get the word out, it is up to his student assistant and a campus cop to finish what he started… or die trying.

Global Warming starts fast, doesn’t let up and for a good portion, it’s almost unclear what it is that has people in high places willing to kill to keep secret. As the Professor’s assistant and campus cop are chased practically across country, the tentacles of the conspiracy in play are revealed to be far reaching and well-funded. For the astute reader, the author does leave a clue in such a way this is brilliant and may also be overlooked. If you’re looking for shootouts and car chases, this story is rife with them as more and more people and law enforcement personnel are dragged into the mix.

As usual with all of Lucian’s stories I love the “this could happen” aspect. With Global Warming in particular but also with “Population Elimination”, there is a ripped from the headlines quality that explores an issue or concern of the day and exploits it in the worse possible scenario. Even while reading these works of fiction, and knowing some of the current political scandals that have erupted, once cannot help but contemplate if there isn’t a grain of truth in these stories.

 

Global Warming definitely had me from beginning to end and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes a good political thriller.

A review of “The Clowns” by Tim McBain & LT Vargus

Not your normal creepy clowns

Perfect for Halloween, and piggy backing off the recent real life creepy clown sightings in the US, McBain and Vargus unleash this delectable little morsel on the world. Very reminiscent of an old 80’s slasher flick, “The Clowns” follows two outcast teens as they band together to stop an ever-growing horde of murderous clowns from terrorizing their city. The catch seems to be that they are the only ones that truly know what is going on. As the duo uncover the truth of this clown plague they realize that there is more at stake this Devil’s Night then just petty mischief.

Not very many books have me looking over my shoulder, but this one did. Especially on those pre-dawn moments prior to starting my work day while I was outside reading a chapter or two my mind often manufactured a rustle in the woods off to my right or a glint of light off a sharp object in my peripheral vision. While not a long book, The Clowns still delivers with an abundance of suspense, gore and a cruel twist of fate. The novella seems to be written more with a teen audience in mind, but for those of us far removed from middle and high school this could also be a brilliant injection of nostalgia as, for me at least, the school environment depicted wasn’t too far from my own.

So… in a nutshell, The Clowns is dark, bleak, with a bit of “The River’s Edge” kind of feel as our two teenage anti-heroes traipse around the town at all hours of the day and night. If you’re looking for something that’s a lot scary a tad comedic and reminding you of days gone by, this book delivers.