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James Tepper "I ain't gonna be treated this o' way" RSS Feed (Boonton Township, NJ United States)
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Instinct (Extinct Book 2)
Instinct (Extinct Book 2)
Price: $3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Post-apocalyptic SF-Horror ending to the story begun in EXTINCT, August 21, 2015
INSTINCT is part two of a two-book single story that began with EXTINCT. Read no further either here or in the novel itself until you have read EXTINCT; the two are not novel and sequel but parts one and two of one story.

The epic journey to find the source of the apocalypse continues. Robby fell into some sort of catatonic state at the end of INSTINCT, and is being carried along and cared for by Brad, Lisa, and Romie as they try find the rest of their group that fragmented during the latter part of EXTINCT. We get some more explanation of what is going on and what has happened. In the interests of avoiding spoilers, if you have already read EXTINCT I think it is safe to say that Robby believes that all the events that have occurred are part of an alien invasion, but of an original and bizarre kind.

There are very clear hints that this has happened before, and that it is possible to do something to stop it There are strange glyphs in a completely unknown language that survivors find strewn, graffiti-like, written or painted on walls and various surfaces. Looking at them under certain conditions causes very strange behaviors in the viewer. The narrative drops in and out on several different groups of survivors who have banded together, first to just survive and then try and do something about what has happened. The main characters speak with different voices and we care about them. Some new ones are introduced and some old friends die. Again, the "feel" of the story, but not necessarily the writing style, was very Stephen King-like, either by intent or subconsciously, as author Hamill lists King as one of his major influences.

Just as in EXTINCT, the writing and pacing are excellent, and the book is hard to put down. The characters are memorable, and mostly likable. The ending is a real ending and is satisfying, although there remain several unanswered questions of the who and how variety that might bug some readers. The same was true of Hamill's THE CLAIMING, and I think it is just a part of his own unique style of story telling. It didn't really bother me at all.

Recommended.

JM Tepper

disclaimer: I received an electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


Berzerker: A Mystery Horror Thriller
Berzerker: A Mystery Horror Thriller
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Tasty and suspenseful sci-fi horror, August 20, 2015
BERZERKER is my first Theo Cage novel. It's a SF-horror story set in North Dakota, one of the double handful of states that I have never visited. If the climate in BERZERKER is anything like that in the real North Dakota, I think I'll just take a pass.

Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman Sean Chiller (nice double or triple entendre there), his wife, Tracy, and their little girl, Ashley, are on their way to Fargo ND to seek treatment for Ashley's cystic fibrosis. She's got it bad, and lives on intravenous antibiotics delivered through an indwelling central line. The prognosis is grim with conventional medicine but there is a clinic in Fargo, ND (not NYC, Boston or Quebec??) that offers a possible state-of-the-art gene therapy cure. It's winter and there is a horrific blizzard dumping feet of snow as Sean and family are en route. Eventually the conditions are so bad that, in need of gas, they exit the highway and find themselves in a tiny town called ominously, Berzerker. The townspeople are strangely unfriendly, the one "hotel" is dirty and disgusting, and Ashley is running a fever and the Chillers have run out of antibiotics. The power goes out and thing go from bad to really fahrblonjet.

BERZERKER is both sci-fi and horror, and both elements are done well. As a biologist, I need for the science to be at least minimally feasible and that criterion is satisfied, with a McGuffin that involves genetically modified organisms or GMOs. The horror is scary, and the suspense, particularly at the end is high. Interestingly, the suspense does not revolve around a big reveal, as what is really going on in the town of Berzerker is revealed to Sean and the reader about halfway through. But there are other twists and turns to the plot, and eventually all the birds come home to roost.

Recommended.

JM Tepper

disclaimer: I received an electronic copy of the novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Extinct
Extinct
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent creepy post-apocalyptic SF-horror, August 20, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Extinct (Kindle Edition)
I first came across Ike Hamill with THE CLAIMING, an excellent and original modern horror tale. I really enjoyed it and found that he had written several others (actually something like 13 since 2011, a remarkably large number of novels)! I asked his what he recommended next and he said EXTINCT. EXTINCT is actually part 1 of a two part novel (the second half is called INSTINCT and is not so much a sequel as a continuation of the former. EXTINCT starts out introducing a number of characters in several settings. Very soon, extremely odd and bad things start to happen. People disappear in broad daylight. A strange, rapidly growing prickly new vine appears in a Maine field. Strange tornadoes, killer streams and then a massive snowfall. Pretty soon, the large majority of folks up and down the Northeast are dead. Survivors meet up with one another (a la THE STAND) and follow Robby, a preternaturally intelligent young teenager, to search for the source of the catastrophe.

EXTINCT reminded me of a Stephen King novel, in particular THE STAND in several ways. The coming together of strangers in the face of a world-ending apocalypse, nature gone rogue, a young hero who knows more than he should, and an arduous, epic journey. The writing is very, very good. Not quite as graphic as SK's, perhaps less vividly descriptive, but with excellent pacing, plotting and characters nonetheless. The mystery of what is happening is revealed only very slowly throughout the novel, adding to the tension and suspense.

And there is a kind of resolution and ending, but one that is much more like a semicolon than a full stop. It is as obvious that there is more to come as there would be if the author had ended with "To be continued...". Nevertheless, a number of the early reviewers quite clearly failed to see this and gave this novel one or two stars because there was no ending. This did not matter to me, because it was so clear that all I had to do was look at Amazon to find that the second part of the story had already been written and published. I suppose this accounts for most of the earliest reviews consisting of one and two star pans of the novel while the vast majority of the latter reviews were 4 and 5 stars.

I liked it a lot, and downloaded and started INSTINCT immediately after reading EXTINCT. If you like Stephen King's stories, I'll bet you like Ike Hamill's too.

Recommended.

JM Tepper

disclaimer: The author sent me an electronic version of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


Onyx Webb: Book Two: Episodes 4, 5 & 6
Onyx Webb: Book Two: Episodes 4, 5 & 6
Price: $4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Part two of ONYX WEBB ghost story, August 11, 2015
ONYX WEBB: BOOK TWO: EPISODES 4, 5 & 6 picks up immediately after the events of BOOK ONE; This is actually a very long serialized novel, akin to Stephen King's THE GREEN MILE, that will ultimately comprise 10 books and over 2,000 pages. As in the first installment, it constantly switches time periods; from the mid-1930s, the 1980s and 2010. It begins again with a section narrated by Onyx, as a ghost in 2010. The three main threads established in book one begin to converge as we get some strong hints to the relationship between Onyx and at least one of the other two main character/families in the novel.

We get a lot more of Onyx in BOOK TWO: EPISODES 4, 5 & 6. Onyx is now all grown up and has, against her father's wishes, run off with Ulrich Schröder at the end of BOOK ONE. Ulrich has gotten himself into some trouble and is now on the run with Onyx in tow. Daddy was right, and Ulrich is NOT the kind of guy that you want anywhere near your daughter, but, well that's how life goes sometimes. Onyx has turned onto a beautiful, trusting woman who is also a fantastically talented painter, blindly in love with Ulrich.

The founder of the Mulvaney dynasty, Declan, is an orphan in a church run orphanage, where things are, shall we say, no bed of roses. One of the connections between threads is revealed in his story, that also takes up a substantial portion of the story, both in the 1930s and 2010. The story of Koda and Dane continues and gets complicated and a ghost in the story is introduced.

And then there are Juniper and Quinn, and his Quinn's best friend, Wayne, in the late 1970s and 1980s the latter of whom finds himself in some serious trouble.

Amy more would be bad spoilers and I want to avoid that at all costs. I raved about the first installment , ONYX WEBB: BOOK ONE: EPISODES 1, 2 & 3 with a five star review. This one is even better and I am completely hooked. I am repeating myself when I say that the writing and pacing are terrific and that all the main characters are very well drawn and realistic Some are very likable and some not.

Highly recommended but needless to say, you MUST read part one first.

J.M. Tepper

disclaimer. The authors were kind enough to gift me a Kindle copy of ONYX WEBB: BOOK TWO: EPISODES 4, 5 & 6 after I asked for more after finishing BOOK ONE.


Onyx Webb: Book One: Episodes 1, 2, & 3
Onyx Webb: Book One: Episodes 1, 2, & 3
Price: $0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting set-up to a very long, multi-part ghost story, August 9, 2015
ONYX WEBB: BOOK ONE: EPISODES 1, 2 & 3 is the first foray into fiction by the Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz, a husband and wife team who have previously published a series of successful motivational non-fiction books. ONYX WEBB: BOOK ONE is projected as the opening salvo of a 10 book, 27 episode series. With each book so far (Book Two has just been released) coming in at well over 200 pages, OW looks to be a 2,000 page story.

But this is good news for lovers of mysteries, ghost stories and horror fiction, as OW 1 is a very interesting, thrilling opening to the longer story. It flips back and forth in time from 1904 to 2010, with several intermediary stops during which the main characters are introduced. The opening narration is by Onyx, who in 2010 is a ghost, but somehow still able to interact with the world of the living. As a little girl in 1904, she is abducted at the St. Louis Exposition by an insane serial killer, but with the help of her father, Catfish and a police detective, she manages to escape, freeing the imprisoned next victim just before she was about to be killed as well.

Another story line opens up in 2010 featuring Koda Mulvaney, 20-something heir to a billion dollar family fortune, who with his pal, Dane, has just managed to blow $20M of his inheritance in 2 years flying around the world staying at the most expensive hotels and partying his ass off with wine (mostly Crystal) and women until his father yanks him back home and puts him to work.

And finally in 1971 we meet Juniper Cole, child piano prodigy appearing on the Tonight Show and then a few years later, as a beautiful young woman living with her brother-guardian Quinn who dropped out of College to care for Juniper when they father disappeared with another woman and their mother disappeared into the bottom of a bottle.,

There is no possible way to connect all these events and people, as EPISODES 1, 2 & 3 are merely the set up (part of the set-up) to a very large and complicated story that will span over 100 years. But the writing and pacing are terrific. There are already several very likable characters as well as some not-so-likable ones, and there is Onyx, who hardly appears at all.

If the rest of this series is anything like the ONYX WEBB: BOOK ONE: EPISODES 1, 2 &3, anyone who enjoys a good ghost story, a mystery and/or a thriller will certainly like this. This is not a children's book. It contains no graphic sex but does contain some graphic violence, but Fenton and Webb manage to (skillfully) keep most of that stuff implied and/or off-screen, so if one likes horror thrillers that are PG-13 rated, here you go.

Highly recommended

JM Tepper

disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this novel in exchange for a no-strings-attached review .


HOVEOX Men's Cotton Sports Running Shorts With Pockets
HOVEOX Men's Cotton Sports Running Shorts With Pockets

2.0 out of 5 stars Sizing is way way too small for Americans, August 5, 2015
I ordered a pair of these in size XXL. For my running shorts, I usually buy XL or XXL, depending on the manufacturer (Eddie Bauer, Land's End etc.). These XXL were so small that I could not even attempt to put them on. The material seems fine and the quality OK, but the sizing is way, way off. I would guestimate that would need a 4 or 5XL from this manufacturer. The XXL that I ordered would not even fit my wife and my 14 year old son who wears Levis 28" waist could barely squeeze into them.

Since I couldn't wear them, I can't comment on comfort or wearability.

JM Tepper

Disclaimer: I received these shorts in exchange for a no strings attached review.


Crescendo Premium Capo with Pouch, Professional Grade for Acoustic & Electric or Folk Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Banjo and Mandolin, Quick Change Single-Handed, No Fret Buzz, Lifetime Warranty
Crescendo Premium Capo with Pouch, Professional Grade for Acoustic & Electric or Folk Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Banjo and Mandolin, Quick Change Single-Handed, No Fret Buzz, Lifetime Warranty
Offered by Vertical Lifestyle
Price: $34.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, professional quality capo, August 5, 2015
The Crescendo CR-10 capo is a well-made, beautiful spring lock alloy capo. Mine is electroplated in some gold colored substance and really looks great with my Les Paul Deluxe Gold top and Gibson CS-356 Custom, both of which have gold plated hardware. The capo works great. As you can see from the image on the Amazon page, the mechanism is on the bottom, leaving only the bar on top that makes for maximum playability. The spring is powerful, but not too powerful to manipulate with one hand. I've tried it on both of my GIbsons, my Strat and my Ovation acoustic. It works great on all of them.

It comes with a little soft bag for storage so it won't get scratched. I don't know what the alloy is, but it feels heavy enough to be steel. The capo is very well made, with a thick rubber strip on the top bar and a thinner, ridged strip on the clamp below the neck. This is the best looking, best made capo that I own.

Highly recommended.

JM Tepper

disclaimer: I received this capo from the manufacturer in exchange for a no strings attached honest review.


The Claiming
The Claiming
Price: $3.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great original scary story, July 22, 2015
This review is from: The Claiming (Kindle Edition)
THE CLAIMING is a scary, anxiety-provoking modern horror story that is completely original despite evoking a feeling of familiarity, like a folk tale that is half remembered or a cultural meme that one can’t quite place. Leo and Maria Webb-Sutley have just moved into a large but surprisingly inexpensive and rather run-down mansion that backs onto a cornfield in a high class but strangely deserted neighborhood. Maria is an architect with a new job and Leo (short for Leona) is deliberately unemployed, so that she can work on renovating the house that they intend to flip for a quick profit. Reed has just entered the 10th grade in a new school and Lizzy and Kyra are about 8 and 6 years old respectively.

Author Hamill takes his time introducing all five and their family dynamic that is completely typical, save for the fact that there are two moms and no dad. Reed is a good kid, regular stand-up guy, and the two little girls are best buddies. The reason that the neighborhood is deserted is not entirely clear, but adds a little creepiness. The deeper one reads, the creepier things get. They adopt a faun after its mother is killed by some kind of predator and raise it as a pet after the girls fall in love with it. Leo and Maria are not so happy about it but can't find anyone to take it. Things really start getting very weird when Lizzy starts seeing strange people dressed in robes that set off screaming fits. By this time a feeling of inexorable dread and unease sets in for the reader (for some reason I was reminded of the original film “The Wickerman”, even though the plots of this novel and that movie share almost nothing in common).

And then things start to get bloody - very bloody. Disaster strikes the family. There is violence and mayhem. The sanity of some of the main characters begins to come into question. The family dynamic breaks down. And worse. To say any more is to give away too much in this entirely original, yet still somehow familiar thriller.

The writing is excellent and the pacing starts out slow and deliberate, and then begins a steady speed-up as the situation deteriorates from bad to very bad to unthinkable and then some. This is very much a plot driven novel, but Maria, Reed, Leo and the two girls are described in enough detail to make them three-dimensional characters that one cares about. I read a lot of horror and want to be scared, afraid to turn the page to see what is coming but at the same time needing to turn the pages faster and faster. THE CLAIMING did that for me, in much the same way that the best of Stephen King, F. Paul Wilson, Blake Crouch, William Peter Blatty and a handful of others have done previously.

There is my first Ike Hamill novel and there are bunch of others out there that I look forward to with great relish.

Highly recommended.

JM Tepper

Disclaimer: I received a free, no-strings-attached electronic copy of THE CLAIMING from the author with no guarantees that I would even finish it. I’m very glad I did.


Primapore Dressing 11.75 x 4 in./Box of 20
Primapore Dressing 11.75 x 4 in./Box of 20
Offered by Prime Medical Store
Price: $12.43
8 used & new from $11.51

5.0 out of 5 stars A better BandAid, July 19, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These are great. Very convenient, breathable adhesive and extremely flexible. Far, far better than any "BandAid" type product on the market. Expensive, but well worth the price.


The Annihilation Score (A Laundry Files Novel)
The Annihilation Score (A Laundry Files Novel)
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $7.99

7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars And now for something completely different, July 8, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Another excellent entry in the Laundry series. And now for something completely different. Unlike all the other Laundry novels, this one is told from the POV of Mo, Bob Howard's wife who is also a Laundry spook (AGENT CANDID), who, unlike Bob who uses complex computational demonology, high tech and associated spells to communicate with and control the beasties from beyond space and time, Mo's principal tool is a very demonic white violin named Lecter who is made entirely out of human bone (some of his origin remains a bit fuzzy) augmented with Hilbert space pickups for thaumaturgic enhancement as well as a few other mods, and and who is a deadly weapon in the hands of a trained violinist cum demonologist like Mo.

THE ANNIHILATION SCORE's first few pages recap exactly the last few pages to the preceding novel, THE RHESUS CHART, that ends with a terrific row between Mo and Bob who meet at home just hours after Bob has had the worst experience of his life (cue THE RHESUS CHART) that ends with Bob leaving. And thus Mo is the narrator and central character of this novel for this first time in the series. And here is where a number of other reviewers had a problem. This story is about Mo, not Bob, who is barely present. IMHO, MO is here a completely fleshed out individual who happens to be a woman. She and Bob are split, having serious problems caused by what the CODE RED at the end of THE RHESUS CHART did to Bob, and the fact that Lecter (or the entity that infests him) is growing ever stronger and harder to control.. It's not Mo's fault, it's not Bob's fault it's both of them and their incredibly high stress careers. Some have accused Mo of being callous about the trial separation and her behavior during it, and whiny and unlikable as her world falls apart. I didn't see it that way. I thought it was a well done description of someone trying to cope with serious marital problems while trying to prevent potentially tens of thousand of people from dying from Krantzberg Syndrome.

Me, I enjoyed the change of pace and change of view. Mo is not Bob, but Charlie is still Stross and so the in-jokes and dry and not-so-dry humor is still very much in evidence. This one doesn't look like CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN (the end of the world as we know it as the eternal undying ones from beyond space and time finally break through and eat everyones' brain and then some), but rather a side effect of too much magic. Ordinary people are developing what looks like comic strip superpowers, resulting in the predictable clusterfrack of supervillains, superhero wannabes, and everything in between. Something has to be done and Mo gets elected.

Lecter is a much more central player than ever and we hear his voice a lot. We get to know a lot more about Mo and we see some old and some new supporting characters, a couple of whom know (ahem) Bob quite well. Does it all work out? Will Lecter finally eat Bob? Or Mo? Will Mo fall for Officer Friendly? Do we finally actually get to the tipping point of CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN? Read it and find out. But we are clearly not done here, as many balls are left juggling in the air despite a satisfying conclusion to the immediate crises.

Recommended (despite the naysayers) but you really ought to read at least THE RHESUS CHART first to understand what happened to Bob and some of the "new" old characters. If you liked the other Laundry novels, odds are that you'll like this one too.

JM Tepper


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