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Posts Tagged ‘guns’


One of the things I get to do on a monthly basis is to sit down with a big list of upcoming books both fiction and nonfiction and decide which ones will make it into my library branch. It is a tedious, but it lets me know what’s out there and though not everything I desire do make it, at least I know that other branches have it and I can stalk their stacks. A few months ago, I came across Vigilance in one of those lists and as I read the synopsis, at first gave me a chuckle and I knew it was only a matter of time before someone wrote about this. And then I decided … why not. But enough with the bollocks of librarian life and let’s get on with the blooming review. Yeah?

John McDean is on top of his game (literally) and the name of the game is Vigilance. Apparently, mass shootings have become as common as having cereal for breakfast in the morning, which someone decided to not only monetize this “phenomenon” but turn it into a game show. This John McDean’s Noble Prize moment. And yes, welcome to 2030 America, where your murder will be televised on ONT (Our Nation’s Truth) tv network. Yes, I kid you not, that’s name of the network … sound’s almost like OAN (but we’re not going to touch that mess … for now). To get on the show, anyone can register online and then they have to go through a “screening” process. Apparently, not just any backwater psychopath can muster the cut (to paraphrase Debra Foreman from Real Genius): folks have to have standards. Bloody hell, an actual Debra Foreman reference (Google her, folks). For those that make the cut, the rules are “simple”: if the active shooter dies, all of his contacts get one million dollars; the surviving shooter (yes, there are more than one) providing there are no civilians, other shooters or law enforcement official left alive in the “arena”, gets 20 million dollars; if a civilian or law enforcement official kills the shooter they get 5 million dollars. Now here’s the kicker, the “arena” could be anywhere at anytime on a given day. In other words people know the day, they just don’t know the when or where. Who knows, it could be the very bar that you are sitting in watching the next Vigilance broadcast (order something more than the hot wings for it might be your last meal). Or the mall. Or a metro station. Hence, this is why people are encouraged to be armed where ever they go, just in case. Hence, the name Vigilance.

Believe it or not, Vigilance is a bit of sci-fi dystopia as we deal with exquisitely vicious uses of big data, AI that produce computer-generated, ex-military, tactical commentators (yes, there are commentators during the bloody show) or can real-time CGI an armed Vietnamese girl into an apple pie Nordic American female spouting all kind of propaganda bollocks as she squeezes off rounds. Then there is virtual and holographic sex involved. Just going to leave it at that. The book is mostly centered around to perspectives: John McDean and Delyna, a waitress at the South Tavern Bar. A new game of Vigilance is about to begin and McDean is about to cream his pants as he and his staff analyzes possible game arena prospects. On the other side of town, Delyna is serving up hot wings and drinks to bunch of mostly armed patrons all gathered there to watch the next exciting game of Vigilance. Yes, hot wings, alcohol … and armed patrons … what can possibly go wrong? I’m afraid that you’ll have to read that for yourself. Trust me, it’s good.
Slightly under 200 pages, Bennett packs a ton of suspense, gore, dark humour and surprising twists (with a smattering of racism and misogyny) … all done at a decent pace. Vigilance doesn’t come across as preachy (as some might logically assume) but it entertains while subtly screaming a wake up call of sorts. It is simply a story projected into a stark future using a social plague as an exaggerated background. It is the Purge meets the Running Man meets Battle Royale. And whether you are pro-gun, no-gun or in-between you’ll start reading Vigilance with one reaction and end with another. And for the most … one can only hope that Vigilance remains condemned to the white pages of fiction (in light of all the bollocks we are enduring) and is not a harbinger of things to come. And for some, might actually give us something to think about. Bloody hell.

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Yes, it is almost the end of 2017 and it has been quite a year. A year that most of us would love to “edit” out of our collective memories. Lost a lot of good folks along the way both in body and spirit. Hopefully, 2018 will offer a bit or sliver of hope’s ray of a most delightful year … which is what I wish for everyone out there: those who read my blog, and those who don’t (give them time, I’m as patient as an Arctic wolf) … and even regardless of how you voted (yes, I mean that). So in light of the strange, topsy-turvey, dark and gloomy year, and just before you rush of to freeze your nips and other body parts in watching balls drop (aye, there is a dirty joke in there somewhere), I have to mention Strange Weather. See it even has the word “strange” in the title.

Ever since having read NOS4A2 and The Fireman, I’ve become fascinated with Joe Hill’s writing and … yes … he has written other titles that I’ve yet to read, but all in good time. Of course, the fact that he is Stephen King’s son did not play into this until I discovered this fact much later (after having read The Fireman). I guess, like father like son … good show, Stephen, good show. So there I was, sitting at the reference desk, allowing myself to calm down (moving from green back to normal skin colour) after having kicked out a bunch of disruptive teens, when I noticed the strange Joe Hill cover on the New Arrivals stack. Slight detour here: whatever happened to folks plugging their phones into their ears? Why is it that so many folks, especially teens, seem to feel the need to “share” their listening/viewing experiences with the rest of the public … in a bloody library? Alas, the devolution of civilization. I’ve detoured enough. To the review. Yeah?

Strange Weather is actually a compilation of four stories (or novellas) that are eerily strange, dark, disturbing, and/or all of the above. In other words, great reading material on a cold, dark windy night … possibly in wooded area.

In Snapshot, we encounter an awkward teenager, Michael Figlione, who becomes an unwitting hero. Mike lives with his father and apparently are bunch of nerds since Mike attends some kind of robotic club during the weekends. Note this is set in the early 80s, so, yes, no smartphones, social media or any of that bollocks (such simple times yet so much fun). They also live next to an older couple, the Beukes, whom Mike is rather fond of. The husband use to be a bodybuilder that now owns a chain of fitness clubs. Mrs. Beukes stays at home and occasionally asks Mike to run errands for her which he does lovingly. But something sinister is happening to Mrs. Beukes, as she claims that someone called The Polariod Man is stealing her memory. Sure, sure you might say, that’s just some old codger losing her mind and imagining things. That is until Mike (and us) encounters someone known as the Phoenican who is this strange character with a Polaroid type camera (Solarid … whatever) that actually steals memories snap by snap. And then the crap hits the fan. Any more will be spoiling the story for you and that would make me a tosser.

In Loaded, there is a bunch of intermingling stories: a philandering tosser and his female teenage lover; a young (ill-fated) Afro-American on his way to attend a dancing school in London; an ex-military type turned security guard that’s dealing with separation from his wife and daughter; an Afro-American journalist dealing with a ghost from her past and trying to change the world. The common denominator in all of these stories: guns. When Jim Kellaway, during his shift as a security guard, stops what could have been a mass shooting at the mall, he is hailed as a hero. That is until Aisha Lanternglass starts poking around, finding holes in his story and causing him to unravel viciously and in a way that would leave most gasping (though maybe not so shocked). It is a nice twist on one of the NRA battle cries about when “bad folks with guns run into good folks with guns”. Just saying, mates.

In Aloft, there is Aubrey, Harriet and June. Aubrey is in love with Harriet and Harriet is in an indie band (called The Junicorns) with June. Aubrey passes up tons of awesome musical opportunities just to be in The Junicorns, simply because … well, it’s a chance to be closer to Harriet. Sort of like a Duckie and Andie thing going on there … and for those you that are wondering, that was a Pretty In Pink reference. Ah, Molly Ringwald, I was supposed to be married to you. A wee bit of detour … ( and too much information). Somewhere along the line June dies of cancer, and so to memorialize the passing of June they decide to … skydive. Personally, a good swig at the pub with a few pints, some Mazzy Star in the background as a DVD plays a looped photo montage of the departed would be fine … and safe. But that’s just me … something about jumping out of perfectly good planes and all that bollocks. So Aubrey, after finding the nerve to jump finds himself stranded on what seems to be floating cloud island. Of course, with his tandem instructor along with the harness being blown off the cloud leaves our man with little more than vertigo to worry about. And then the strange odyssey begins, as the cloud seems to offer all sorts of strange, delightful, erotic (yes, you are reading correctly) and terrifying possibilities. Fascinating, strange stuff that’ll keep you wondering how this poor chap will find his way down to earth. Don’t be surprised to hear Iron Butterfly’s In A Gadda Da Vida playing in your head. Or is that only going to be me?

In Rain, we get the visit a near future Boulder, Colorado through the eyes of a young gay woman named Honeysuckle Speck. Honeysuckle lives with her lover, Yolanda, in possibly one of the most strangest neighbourhoods. Below her apartment lives a Russian meth dealer with his stripper girlfriend Martina (also Russian) that are always fighting. A few blocks down the street is an end-of-the-world cult, led by an enigmatic Elder Bent, who is known to prowl the streets singing Phil Collins songs. Only from the mind of Joe Hill. And to top things off, Honeysuckle babysits a charmer named Templeton Blake who thinks he’s Dracula and lives with his (single) mom Ursula. And then it begins to rain … nails. Yes, again you are reading correctly. Mother Nature decides to go postal and instead of nice, soft, wet, delightful water, people get showered with nails. Yolanda gets caught and in the downpour and dies saving Honeysuckle’s live. I guess being perforated by nails via nature will do that to a person. And so as Honeysuckle makes her towards Denver to inform Yolanda’s parents about her passing she encounters psychotic cult members, a strange Billy Jack drifter type that saves her, the National Guard, murderous, homophobic neighbours and creepy crows (yes, birds). On top of that, in lieu of all the nailstorms happening across the country, we have president in his bunker tweeting about “biblical retribution and payback” on North Korea. Yes, nothing like that will EVER happen in real life, because that would like a really bad dream of sorts. Aye, a president using social media platform to mouth off absolute bollocks … nope, never … only in fiction. Preposterous. Absolute balderdash and rubbish. Aye … we’ve strayed and detoured again. Now you’re wondering what would be the cause of those strange nails and it is in the exciting conclusion to this story. A twist that you’d never see coming.

Strange Weather is indeed a potpourri of strange stories. Dark, disturbing, creepy, occasionally trippy with little touches of heartwarming pecks on the cheek and definitely entertaining as it keeps you riveted as you hurtle towards the end. Rock on, Mr. Hill. And Happy New Years, America. You are already GREAT in my books (pun possibly intended). Cheers.

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andaluciancvr

A lot of good things have come out of the Scandinavian countries: Danish cookies, hot Swedish women, some awesome beer, and ABBA. Yes, I said it … ABBA (which holds a prominent spot in my Zune mp3 player). And as of lately, so is the writing thanks to the Steig Larsson and his Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Yes, I have seen the original Swedish version with Noomi Rapace but has yet to actually read the books (aye, shame, shame, shame). And yes, I did see the American version also. Now I’m not going to be one of those pretentious tossers that’ll go around being snooty about the different versions and other such bollocks. Let’s just say that Mara did a great job, but she’s no Noomi, who’s got that dark-haired, sensual, mysterious European thing going for her. Let’s pause for a moment to think about this. Hmm. Aha. Yes. Jolly good. Sadly I have detoured and may have ventured into strange territory. To the review … shall we?

Sophie Brinkmann is a widow, single mom and nurse living a sublime life in some Swedish suburb. Her son, Alberto, is the joy, heart and apple of her eye. During her rounds at the hospital, Sophie encounters an exotic patient named Hector Guzman and despite her training she develops a friendship with Mr. Guzman. Apparently, Hector is quite the Lothario and Sophie is subconsciously drowning in his charm. Unknown to Sophie, she is also unwittingly drawn into a sinister web of sorts as she gains the interest of a Machiavellian female commanding police officer named Gunilla. Yes, that is her name (sounds like a cross with Gun and Godzilla) and yes, she is as vicious as she sounds. Maybe a wee bit more. It turns out that Hector is a subject of interest for Gunilla, and apparently so is anyone that makes his acquaintance. The moment Hector leaves the hospital, it doesn’t take long for the intrigue and violence to rear its head as the reader finds themselves immersed with coke-sniffing, gun-running, Russian Mafiosos; thuggish and corrupt cops; a prescription drug addicted cop that doesn’t mind pilfering the occasional panty or two from female surveillance subject’s house(ah, those kinky Europeans); and as mentioned before, a ruthless, manipulative female commanding police officer that is willing to use anyone or anything as a means to an ends.

Söderberg’s Friend is marinated in intrigue, in a topsy-turvy world filled with virtuous criminals and dreadfully corrupt lawmen. The violence is quick, vicious and merciless often catching the reader off-guard and occasionally knocking them senseless. You’ll find yourself rooting for Sophie as she maneuvers through this vicious labyrinthine game of cat and mouse, a game that she was unwittingly thrusted into. Each character has a story to tell, some heartwarming, and some very dark and disturbing that adds to an intense, fiery tale that thunders towards a breathtaking conclusion that’ll keep you guessing to the very end.

Note to self: must read more Scandinavian writers. Paging Jo Nesbø.

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This book review is loooong overdue. I just hope Mr. Colbert can forgive me. And now with the pleasantries out of the way … we plod forward.
Unless you are living under a rock encased in a meteorite and buried at the bottom of the Marianna’s Trench … you should have an idea who Stephen Colbert is. If not, then you are probably Communist (just kidding … or am I). In I Am America, Stephen Colbert brings forth his brand of “truthiness” and slight illogical fear/hatred of bears to everyone living under the great blue skies in this fair, great land. It is hilarious, somewhat troubling and then hilarious again. Troubling yet hilarious bits include things like sleeping with a loaded gun underneath your pillow and firing away at any shadow that moves in the house after 8 PM … as mandatory duty of the man of the house. Troubling, maybe, but bloody hilarious (as it turns out, I am not only easily amused but have a dark sense of humour). And the there is the downright hilarious bits like illustrating why it is better to be poor or rich but not middle class, where you practically piss yourself silly until you get to a point where you find yourself going, “hey, that shit’s not funny” … and then you move on the next chapter, and the laughter and pissing regains full momentum. Trust me, it never misses a beat. Now like every red-blooded male in this land, most of us don’t waste our time reading absolute bollocks like the “acknowledgements” and “foreword” and other such shite. Nay. We just plunge into the book, headlong, or as the 80s rock group, Accept, would say, “balls to the wall”. Bloody hell, an actual reference to Accept. Detouring … must … stay .. on … track. In I Am America, my advise to everyone is to read every part of this book. From cover to end. Simply hilarious, with some subtly disguised truths and great for destressing. To add to this, Mr. Colbert leaves a transcript of his cringeworthy performance at some press dinner in Washington that really makes you feel it for the ex-prez. Well, almost. The minerals on that Stephen. Brilliantly funny book, look forward to the sequel. There IS a sequel, right mate? Ahhh, c’mon.

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Running Title – No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey To The Inner Circle Of Hells Angels

Meet Jay Dobyns. Real-life ATF agent. A walking, talking line that protects the law-abiding from the psychos. In every sense, Mr Dobyns is an unsung hero. In No Angel, Mr. Dobyns recounts the ordeals of life as an undercover agent infiltrating the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle gang. Reading the book feels like throttling down the highway at full speed on a 1200 cc chopper with no brakes … and on a highway that is also filled with blind turns. Infiltrating bike gangs are a lot more work than most folks can fathom. There are rules and certain codes of conduct that one must observe. Violation of certain “biker etiquette” will not get you slap on the wrist by a gloved hand but in some cases could result in a hole in the head … by a leather gloved hand. The type of holes that are somewhat terminal. And as the Dobyns and his “crew” try to build up a club and a reputation, they are constantly tested everyway and they often have to be on constant guard as if their life depended on it … which strangely in many cases it usually does. And sometimes people have to become innovative … like taking a piss in the bathroom and dropping a few bits of pee on your boots for “good luck” to impress some VIP in the biker gang. Needless to say, I do not envy these chaps. I’d prefer to take my chances in a Brazilian creek filled with ravenous piranhas … whilst bleeding profusely. Still it is a testimony to the work that these special breed of individuals do in order to protect the Joe Public from the outlaws out there. Something that we often take for granted. Quite often undercover law enforcement agents are constantly held under severe scrutiny by the public but few really do understand what many of these individuals have to deal with. No Angel shows life on the razor’s edge by through the eyes of an agent and the mental roller coaster both he and his family had to endure whilst undercover. Very suspenseful, filled with intrigue, and keeps you dry in the throat as you turn every page. It is the closest you can get to going undercover. If you know any one that works in law especially as an undercover agent, then be sure to pat them on the back or give them a firm handshake in acknowledgement for what they put on the line. Great read. Awesome bloke, Mr. Dobyns.

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