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Musings

  • It would appear that sleep deprivation and over-scheduling is how Irish Woman and I live now.
  • The bad news is that I didn’t win the Mustang raffle at the church picnic.
    • The good news is that I won’t have to make the choice of finally owning a Mustang in my late forties or taking the cash.
  • Boo did some good works by handing out ice cream to the folks who were eating chicken dinners at the picnic.  More than a few folks noticed that several young ladies his age were clustered around the ice cream cooler during his tenure.
    • Irish Woman was unavailable for comment.
  • Irish Woman has relearned that Guinness makes me goofy.
  • I’m not going to say that the weather during the drive home on Friday evening was rough.  I’m just going to say that I’ve never had my truck powerwashed so thoroughly before and leave it at that.
  • We’ve reached that sweet, sweet part of the summer where we’re ordering school uniforms and taking inventory on our pencils and notebooks.
  • I’d like to thank LawDog for the fact that my youngest son can now quote the Baghavad Ghita and Melville, as well as call an ambulance “the big white taxi”.

Review – The Pride of the Damned

The third and final book in Peter Grant’s Cochrane’s Company trilogy, The Pride of the Damned, is out.  If you enjoyed the first two books in the series, you’ll love the story’s climax:

The shadow war started as a simple contract to defend a system against asteroid thieves. The harder Andrew Cochrane and Hawkwood Security fought, the worse things became. Now they find themselves embroiled in an interstellar war with an entire mafia!

Worse yet, the proceedings are so profitable – not to mention bloody – that they’ve attracted the attention of some of the worst criminal organizations in the galaxy. If Hawkwood is to survive, it’ll need all the wits, cunning and ingenuity it can muster – and the unwavering courage and dedication of its people.

The galaxy’s not big enough for both sides. One or the other will go to the wall.

The universe is well and truly built and the characters are well developed by the time this book begins, so the story moves quickly to the events leading up to its finale.  The Pride of the Damned has a lot of space opera in it, with a touch of thriller and spy novel thrown in for flavor.

The author goes into good detail of how Cochrane continues to build his fleet and the family of friends and colleagues he’s put together.  The space battle scenes are well thought out and keep the reader turning the page.  The characters are believable and the way that Grant makes them move within the story is the mark of a master storyteller.

This is not a juvenile by any means, but I’d be comfortable suggesting this series to anyone who enjoys a carefully laid out arc that travels quite nicely across three books.  If you’re looking for something to binge read during the dog days of summer, Cochrane’s Company is it.

The Stones of Silence – Sets up the story and introduces us to most of the characters

An Airless Storm – Develops the characters and pits Cochrane and his crew against an intractable foe

The Pride of the Damned – Brings everything together to a thrilling conclusion.

That Day

I won’t go into details, but today was not a good day.  It was the kind of day where the little voice in my head told me “I’m glad that’s over” when I started getting ready for bed.  Ever have one of those days?

But it wasn’t That Day.

We all have That Day.  It’s the day when we look back and wonder how we got through it.  It might have been stressful, or even deadly.  It’s the day that lays opposite The Best Day in our spectrum of experience.  All other days are measured against those two days.

That Day is the one that wakes you up in the middle of the night.  It’s the one that drags you back to relive it when you see or smell or hear something that reminds you of That Day.  It’s the one that every parent wants to shield their child from.

Everybody I know has had That Day, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not a part of the human experience.  Perhaps the reason that folks who get freaked out over relatively minor stuff get on my nerves so much is that to them That Day was something that a lot of us just call ‘Tuesday’.

Anyway, here’s hoping that That Day is behind all of you.

At least today wasn’t That Day.

100 Years On – End of the Romanovs

On the night of 16 to 17 July, 1918, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, who had abdicated his throne following the first Russian revolution in 1917, was executed by Communist forces in the Russian city of Ekaterinburg. Additionally, his wife, children, and several servants were also shot, clubbed, and stabbed to death by their Communist guards.  Their bodies were looted, stripped, disfigured, and buried in a concealed grave.

Since his abdication, Romanov and his family had been kept in increasingly harsh and isolated conditions.  In the end, their world had shrunk to several rooms and a small courtyard.  Under constant guard, they were even forbidden to speak with their guards or look out the window.

Communist Red Army leaders feared that the Romanovs would be a rallying point for opposing White Forces in the burgeoning Russian Civil War.  At the time of the execution, White elements were drawing near to Ekaterinburg, and the Communists moved to prevent the Tsar’s liberation.

After consulting with authorities in Moscow, including Lenin and Dzerzhinsky, the local Communist leader replaced the guards surrounding the Romanovs with men who swore to kill the tsar, if ordered.   A site outside the city was carefully prepared so that the family’s remains could be hidden.

The Romanovs were taken to small cellar room, were informed of the decision to execute them, and killed.  After the family was murdered, their bodies were burned and buried.  At first, the Communists announced only that Nicholas was dead, leaving many to hope that the rest of his family, including his son, had survived.  Soviet leaders suppressed any discussion of the Romanovs for decades.  It was not until the 1970’s that their bodies were discovered, and not until afte the turn of the next century that they were given a decent burial.

The death of Nicholas and his heirs brought the end of a 300 year dynasty.  It was only one of the first atrocities committed by the Soviets, but it is a stain on their history that will live forever.

100 Years On – Second Marne

On July 15, 1918, the German Army in France began its final offensive of the war.  In two major pushes against British, American, and French forces, the Germans were able to establish a bridgehead across the Marne, but met stiff resistance by Allied defenders.

Combined Allied action, including the use of tanks, bombers, and several fresh American divisions, stopped the German offense.  Both sides had learned lessons in the years of fighting.  French defenses in the first hours of the attack were arrayed so that their soldiers were not open to German bombardment in the front lines.  In the counterattack, the Allies were able to coordinate their plans and movements in a concerted effort to throw the Germans back.

By early August, the Germans were pushed back across the Marne and back to their original positions.  This action was followed by the final Allied offensives of the war, which saw the Germans begin to slowly lose the territory they had held since 1914.

Travel Rumblings

  • When we all get together to take a trip on the big silver ski taxi, we, by definition, all have somewhere to be.
    • Taking fifteen minutes to find your seat, stow your things, sit down, make friends with the folks around you, strap in, unstrap in, retrieve your electronic thingie, binkie, and blankie, and then strap back in, is a black-letter law justification for keelhauling.
  • The row and seat numbers are in an easily deduced pattern.  Also, the airline has gone to the trouble and expense to put up little signs to help out those who never passed that part of kindergarten.  Please, for the sake of our sanity and your own safety, learn to use them.
  • Sitting/laying down in the main walkway of a gate seating area in order to do stretching/yoga/walrus-in-rut impersonations for half an hour may or may not help your bad back.  It will definitely make me wish your bones would start to spontaneously snap into small, easily digested pieces.
  • If you are giving your pre-teen children a sugary coffee drink five minutes before getting on a small aircraft, I hope that, someday, your children put you into a substandard nursing home built on an abandoned graveyard.
    • Now, I may not be the best parent on Earth, Lord knows.  But I’m pretty sure that letting little Susie and Bobby watch “The Purge” during a flight might not be the best decision you could have made.
  • If the first-class passengers aren’t routinely asked to remove their shoes, belt, electronics, and dignity when going through airport screening, then there’s probably no good reason for everyone else to do it.
  • Showing up to your job serving coffee to folks in an airport on a Sunday morning when you either dropped acid right before work or you’re still coming down from the night before is not cool.
    • Seriously, her pupils were the same shape, size, and color as a shot of espresso.
    • She was, of course, pleasant.  Most stoned folks are.  She just wasn’t very efficient.
    • It took her five minutes to take my order for a coffee, large, one each, then about another three to find the cup, then find the coffee, then fill the cup, then remember to turn around and hand it to me.  I had to remind her to swipe my credit card before handing it back to me.
  • If it takes two flight attendants, a quarter pound of bacon grease, a come-along, and rhythmic drumming by the co-pilot to get your My Little Pony carry-on into the overhead bin, then maybe you should have let your mommy pack for you.
  • Riding your motorcycles four abreast, thereby taking up both lanes of traffic, does not make you rebels without a cause.  It makes you a bunch of douchebags.
  • I’m guilty of forgetting that Nissan put their gas tanks on the wrong side of the car, thereby causing me to have to pull out of a fueling area in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and turn around at 1:30 AM on a Sunday night.
    • Pointing this out and laughing at me does not help the situation.
    • From the look on your wife’s face, she thought you were an asshole, too.
  • There are fewer things I want to hear after getting home from a long trip than hearing Irish Woman ask “Honey, do you know where my camera is?”
    • In related news, the hotel, airline, and rental car company all had “I lost my stuff” links on their websites.

Musings

  • Our plan to land in Minneapolis on a Sunday evening, drive for a few hundred miles, sleep for a couple of hours, then finish the drive to my home town looked good on paper.
  • If you’re going to design a hotel that has intense spotlights shining on the front of the building, please make sure that the curtains in the rooms near said spotlights will:
    • a) Shut out all of the blindingly bright, white light so that guests can sleep
    • b) Close more than 25% of the width of the windows
  • I expect to receive, any day now, a letter from the FAA and the North Dakota Highway Patrol asking us to either put wings on our rental car or slow the heck down.
  • Apparently, having a hot flash while trying to get across the Minneapolis airport was not part of Irish Woman’s plans.  However, the beautiful ladies at the Hertz desk accomodated her by getting us to our car as quickly as possible and pointing every fan they could find in her direction.
  • You know your son is tired when he won’t wake up to go get pizza and ice cream.
  • I now have a firm agreement from Irish Woman to move back to North Dakota as soon as I can find a way to guarantee that her bourbon will not turn to slush, parts of her anatomy will not freeze solid and snap off, and Boo has finished school.
  • After a week of being to see the horizon as a faraway line, Kentucky feels almost claustrophobic.

Musings

  • Only mad dogs and Cub Scouts go out in the noon day sun.
  • It’s amazing how quickly a ten year old boy’s minor scrape escalates to “I think I’m going to die!” when a teenage girl asks him if he’s OK.
  • Apparently, to ten year old boys, a couple of raccoons checking the trash can at 1 in the morning sounds like a herd of ravenous bears.
  • I’d like to thank Irish Woman for the new cot, because I’m officially too bloody old to sleep on the ground if there’s any other option.
  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  If you give a Cub / Boy Scout a pack, he will acquire enough gadgets to fill it.
  • Boys who spent half the night yelling and hooting at each other had to be convinced to shout commands during a flag ceremony.

Review – Shattered Under Midnight

Dorothy Grant’s new novel, Shattered Under Midnight, mixes action with romance, and is not the kind of book you want to start reading while you’re trying to fall asleep.

Raina escaped to Freeport with a tour booked under a stolen ID, and a plan to lose herself in the city. Instead, she found a city in revolt, and now both sides are after her to control the alien gifts engineered into her DNA.

Her only ally is an offworld investigator trying to get to the bottom of the explosive mix of on-planet and alien politics… but his secrets are even deadlier than her own.

From the back alleys of the souk to the depths of alien ruins, they’re now in a desperate fight to stop the revolution before everything is lost!

The action in Shattered Under Midnight starts in the first paragraph and keeps coming until the very end.  Raina is a gifted young woman who is running away from oppression and worse.  She meets up with Akrep, a dangerous man who may or may not be one of the good guys, and together they have to fight to protect new friends and ancient artifacts.  The book has romance, ancient aliens, and gunfights, so there’s something for everyone.

The pacing in the story is pretty good.  Mrs. Grant does a good job of convincing the reader to keep turning the pages without making you feel like you’re sprinting through the book.  At the end of the story, I wanted to know more about both principle characters, so I hope that this isn’t the end of their story.  There’s definitely more to tell, both before and after this particular novel.

Raina develops quite quickly in the short time span of the story.  Like I said, there’s more of her story to tell, so I hope Mrs. Grant can flesh both her and Akrep out in future works.

This is a quick read, and the way it’s told is appropriate for teenagers to senior citizens.  I whizzed through it in just a few hours.  Shattered Under Midnight is a perfect, light story for when you just want to climb inside a book for an evening.

Review – Requiem for Medusa

Jason Anspach and Nick Cole have come out with a new novel based on the Tyrus Rechs character from their best-selling Galaxy’s Edge series:  Requiem for Medusa.

The scum hiding deep inside the Reach out along galaxy’s edge thought they could kill her and not pay the price. For years these hardened killers have run roughshod over the lawless worlds where Republic justice is never as fast as the blaster in your hand and where double-crosses and death are a part of every deal. They thought this time would be no different.

They were wrong.

This time, the Guild sent the legendary bounty hunter Tyrus Rechs.

As the infamous Rechs pursues the men who murdered his colleague, he’s hell-bent on justice, heedless of the trail of destruction he leaves across ruined worlds and fantastic gambling meccas alike. Because for Rechs, this isn’t just another Guild contract… it’s personal.

Requiem for Medusa begins a new series in the Galaxy’s Edge universe, which is titled “Tyrus Rechs:  Contracts and Terminations”.  Anspach and Cole use the story to flesh out the bounty-hunter that we first met in Book 2 of Galaxy’s Edge, and as I’ve come to expect from the authors, it’s a fun, fast read from cover to cover.

The plot revolves around Rechs’ quest to find, fix, and eliminate the folks who betrayed and murdered someone close to him.  The writing moves quickly through a world that we’ve come to know, so there isn’t much need to stop the action to build it.  The story does, however, slow down to explore Rechs as a man.  Anspach and Cole deftly switch between careful character development and faster-than-a-speeding-bullet action.

This blend of MilSF and Space Opera grabs you and pulls you over the edge with it.  We get to know Rechs, and several details from earlier novels are fleshed out as the story progresses. This is, of course, mixed in with a generous dollop of gunfire and explosions.

I’d suggest reading at least the first few Galaxy’s Edge books before trying this one out, because certain plot details definitely make more sense if you know the rest of the story.  That being said, Requiem for Medusa will take you out to the edge and keep hold of you until you get to the last sentence.

 

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