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Book Review – Rimworld – Into the Green

The latest from Jim Curtis, Rimworld – Into the Green, is out, and it’s a great yarn.

After a chance encounter with Dragoons and Traders turns a routine planet exploration into a rout that kills his team and his career, Lieutenant Ethan Fargo, medically retired, wants nothing more than to hole up in the backwater Rimworld he’d explored and enjoy a quiet retirement far from people or problems.

Unfortunately, he’s about to find out that he’s not as retired as he wants to be, and that his new home system comes with dangers, politics, and Dragoon sightings of its own. What promised to be a boring retirement will turn out to be anything but.

Into the Green occurs in the same universe as Curtis’ earlier short work, Stranded, in which humanity struggles against the voracious alien Dragoons and their human toadies, the Traders.  The main character, Fargo, is a veteran of both combat and exploration who returns to a nice, quiet planet to retire and enjoy the rest of his life.  Of course, the universe is having none of that, and soon he is embroiled in conflict with both invaders and turncoats.

This is a fast-moving story, and I enjoyed every page.  If you’re looking for something for the beach, the cabin, or the lake and you enjoy sci-fi adventures, you’ll like Into the Green.

New Book From Peter Grant

Peter Grant, proprietor of the Bayou Renaissance Man blog, has brought out the second book in his Ames Archives western series, titled Rocky Mountain Retribution.  The new book is the sequel to last year’s Brings the Lightning, and it is an excellent continuation of the story.

In the post-Civil War West, the railroads are expanding, the big money men are moving in, and the politicians they are buying make it difficult for a man to stand alone on his own. So, Walt Ames moves his wife, his home and his business from Denver to Pueblo. The railroads are bringing new opportunities to Colorado Territory, and he’s going to take full advantage of them.

Rocky Mountain Retribution is an excellent yarn that takes Walter Ames all over the American west, through all kinds of conditions, and follows his fight against a new enemy.  It’s a page turner, so don’t be surprised if you don’t finish it in one sitting.  If you haven’t read Brings the Lightning yet, it will definitely bring the second book into focus, but this one could also be enjoyable as a stand-alone novel.

If you like Louis L’Amour or Zane Grey, you’ll enjoy these.  Grant is one of the best story tellers I know, and I’ve enjoyed his westerns more than anything else he’s written.  I definitely recommend Rocky Mountain Retribution to anyone who enjoys adventure, honor, and grit.

Book Review – Scaling the Rim

My friend, Dorothy Grant, has come out with her debut book, Scaling the Rim.  It’s an engrossing, well plotted coming-of-age story that draws you in and holds on.  Here’s the blurb:

Never underestimate the power of a competent tech…

When Annika Danilova arrived at the edge of the colony’s crater to install a weather station, she knew the mission had been sabotaged from the start. The powers that be sent the wrong people, underequipped, and antagonized their supporting sometimes-allies. The mission was already slated for unmarked graves and an excuse for war…

But they hadn’t counted on Annika allying with the support staff, or the sheer determination of their leader, Captain Restin, to accomplish the mission. Together, they will overcome killing weather above and traitors within to fight for the control of the planet itself!

Dorothy’s writing flows smoothly, and her description of a cold, forbidding landscape paint vivid pictures of snowy mountain passes almost instantly.  Her characters are well thought out, especially Annika. This young lady transforms from a pigeon-holed underling into an independent, treasured member of a society that treasures her.

Dorothy has been instrumental in my own writing, and it’s great to see her turn her considerable skills toward telling her own stories.  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where she takes us next.

Scaling the Rim is a quick read, and perfect for a winter evening in front of the fire.  I definitely suggest it for someone who is looking to escape and relax for a few hours.

Review – Rogue One

Rogue One is a stand-alone Star Wars film set just prior to 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope.  It goes through the story of how the Rebel Alliance was able to steal the plans for the Death Star.

The movie stars Felicity Jones as Jin Erso, the heroine who is the key to the mission, and Diego Luna as Cassian Alder, a Rebel agent tasked with finding Jin and her father.  The cast also includes Alan Tudyk as droid K-250, a heretofore unseen Empire droid model sent along for strategic thinking and comic relief, and Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera, a Rebel guerilla leader on the mandatory desert planet. Ben Mendelsohn plays Director Krennic, the ambitious Imperial officer in charge of building the Death Star.  All of these actors, along with the entire cast, do an excellent job drawing the viewer in and feeling the story.

Where the movie succeeded was in making an interesting story with a few hat tips to preceding movies without overwhelming its own story.  The visuals were, as always in Star Wars, outstanding.  The plot was quick and to the point, and I never felt as if I were noticing the two hours that passed between opening shot and closing credits.

Where the movie stumbled, however, was in how the plot unfolds.  It’s a lot to get through in two hours, and a lot seemed to have been cut out in order to cram the story in.  There was a lot of ‘Boom!  We’re Here! Boom!  We’re there!’, and it made the film seem choppy in places.  Character development was shorted most of all.  All of the characters in the movie sounded interesting and rich, but, with the exception of Jin, all they got was a couple “they’re so and so, they do this” lines of dialogue. When the movie comes out for home video, I will definitely be waiting for the extended cut so I (hopefully) get more of the supporting story.

I saw this movie with Girlie Bear and Boo, and both enjoyed it.  The action got intense at times, but Boo seemed to handle it very well.  As we were walking out of the theater, he told me we had to go home and watch Episode 4, so I guess Rogue One grabbed his attention.

Overall, I’d give the movie an A.  It is definitely more enjoyable than last year’s “The Force Awakens,” and is only eclipsed by “The Empire Strikes Back” in my list of Star Wars movies.

 

Spoiler rich analysis follows.  Continue at your own risk.

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Review – En Route

Most of you are familiar with Kelly Grayson, proprietor of the Ambulance Driver Files blog.  He’s been a speaker at a myriad of EMS conferences, educated more people than I’ve met, and has been a helping hand to countless sick and injured people throughout his career.

(Side note – Kelly’s teaching recently came in handy for Girlie Bear.  While doing training with her ROTC class, she surprised her instructors by being able to properly put on a tourniquet in a short amount of time.  She learned it from Kelly in one of his Shooter Self Care classes.)

Recently, Kelly re-released his book, “En Route – A Paramedic’s Stories of Life, Death, and Everything In Between“.  It’s a collection of vignettes from his experiences in the first few years of his career.  He tells us tales that will make you laugh until your sides hurt, as well as those that will make your heart ache.

Grayson is an expert storyteller, and even though these stories are short bites of his life, he draws a complete picture and draws you into every one of them.  His stories flow very well, and you will find yourself immersed as you read.

The book is a quick read, and it leaves you looking forward to the sequel.  If you’re looking for something to read in front of the fire while Old Man Winter shakes the house, this is it.

 

Full Disclosure – Kelly Grayson and I have been friends for several years. I have taken first aid training from him, broken bread with him, and he mentions me as part of his ‘tribe’ in the final pages of the book. That being said, I enjoyed this book and look forward to his follow-on works. I think you will too. I paid full price for my copies of the book, and received nothing from him for doing this review.

Review – Rimworld: Stranded

Jim Curtis, also known as OldNFO, has dipped his toes into the military science fiction pool, and spins yet another great yarn in Rimworld: Stranded.  In it, a maintenance technician misses the “Oh crap, we gotta go!” message when aliens attack his outpost, and is left behind to deal with the invaders with only what he knows and what he has on hand.  The story and character are a break from the regular “I’ve been training all my life for this!” heroes in the genre.  He makes mistakes, has human reactions to bad situations, and is really easy to connect with.

This is a great, quick read for anyone who enjoys mil-SF.  Curtis’ skill as a storyteller shines through, and his writing is crisp and to the point.  I heartily recommend this one.

Book Review – Brings The Lightning

Peter Grant, author of the Maxwell Saga and the Bayou Renaissance Man blog, has taken a new turn in his writing.  His new western, Brings The Lightning, tells the tale of Walter Ames, a former Confederate soldier returning home to Tennessee after Appomattox.  Following his heart west, he meets the love of his life and together, they forge a new life together.  The book explores post-Civil War history as Americans bridged the Great Plains to settle in the Mountain West and the conflicts they fought with nature and the Native Americans there.

Grant has always been a wonderful storyteller, and he has fully matured as a writer.  Brings The Lightning reads as if it were written during the golden age of western fiction, and the author did an outstanding job making it a story that can be enjoyed by anyone who loves the romance and realities of the West.  The story develops well, as do the characters.  Grant has paid a lot of attention to the details of technology, especially firearms, from the period.  This works because it enhances the story, rather than distracting from it.

I heartily recommend Brings the Lightning, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Restaurant Review – Bourbons Bistro

If you’re looking for something upscale in Louisville, Bourbons Bistro is a great choice.   If you’re a bourbon enthusiast and want to have a taste of the many liquors Kentucky offers, you’ve come to the right place.  Their bar caused me to just stop and stare for a few moments as I looked at all of the bottles on the wall.  Their food and service put them on the list for special occasions.

Bourbons Bistro is centrally located on Frankfurt Avenue.  Getting to it is not difficult, but it’s not right off the expressway, so budget your time accordingly.  From the fairgrounds, it’s easily a thirty minute drive, especially during busy times of day.  Parking is also something to consider when you go.  I had to park about a block up the street, but after the meal I had, the walk probably did me some good.  They take reservations, which is becoming rare in Louisville, and I suggest you take advantage of it.

The restaurant’s atmosphere is comfortable, but I’d feel out of place dressed in anything less than slacks and a button-down.  The service is excellent, and the staff was very helpful in making sure everyone in our party understood their orders and how they wanted them done.

The food was, to put it simply, outstanding.  We enjoyed most of their appetizer menu, with my favorite being the crab cakes and the spicy fried oysters.  For dinner, I had the shrimp and grits, and I’m not ashamed to say that my plate went back clean.  My dinner companions also enjoyed the pork chop, the filet au poivre, and the Bourbon’s Burger, and I heard no complaints.  By the way, I consider it the best compliment to a restaurant for all conversation to stop when the food comes, because everyone’s mouth is too full to talk.  For dessert, I enjoyed the bourbon bread pudding, while someone else had the bourbon balls.  Both were well received, as was the excellent coffee.

Bourbon’s Bistro is not an inexpensive night out, so budget accordingly.  Dinner for two could easily cost over one hundred dollars, but you’re paying for quality and outstanding service.

Overall, if you’re looking for something a few levels above the normal dining experience in Louisville, Bourbons Bistro should be on your short list.

Restaurant Review – Rocky’s

Rocky’s is one of our go-to restaurants for a nice lunch or dinner.  This restaurant sits on the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The food is excellent, the staff is outstanding, and the view of downtown Louisville is pretty.  One of my favorite places to eat is on the veranda at Rocky’s, watching river traffic go by.

Our favorite items on Rocky’s menu are the bruschetta for an appetizer, pasta carbonara or pasta rosa for an entree, and if we’re in the mood for pizza, the Giuseppe.  If we get dessert, I usually get the tiramisu, while Irish Woman and Girlie Bear prefer the cannoli.

Dinner for the family, with large portions packed in to-go boxes, usually comes to between $60 and $80.

The attached bar prides itself on offering a wide variety of local and mass-market beers, and their wines tend to be very good.

If you’re on the north side of the Ohio, Rocky’s is an excellent place for lunch or dinner.

If you’re in Louisville, Rocky’s Pizza and Panini that offers pizza, subs, and calzones, and is located a few minutes from the fairgrounds on Bardstown Road.

 

Restaurant Review – Roosters Wings

Roosters is a regional chain, with restaurants in Kentucky and Ohio.  There are three locations in Louisville, one of them only a few minutes’ drive from the fair grounds.

The menu consists of chicken wings (of course), burgers, and sandwiches, and salads. My personal favorite is the Big Bob’s Burger, although the Cajun chicken sandwich is also tasty.  Their wings are flavorful, with varying levels of heat to meet the diner’s tastes.  The nachos deluxe can be a meal unto itself.

The two locations I’ve visited in Louisville have well-stocked bars, with a good selection of mass-market beers and soft-drinks.

Roosters is a pretty economical choice, too.  Depending on what you drink and your appetizers, a meal for one person is usually between $10 and $20.

Their tag line of “A Fun, Casual Joint” is spot on.  The atmosphere is relaxed and relatively family friendly.  If you’re looking for a place to relax, have a good meal and a few drinks, and watch sports on their many television screens, this is a good candidate.

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