• Archives

  • Topics

  • Meta

  • The Boogeyman - Working Vacation
  • Coming Home
  • Quest To the North
  • Via Serica
  • Tales of the Minivandians
  • Join the NRA

    Join the NRA!

Review – Gold on the Hoof

Peter Grant’s latest in his Ames Archives series, Gold on the Hoof, is the best of his fiction that I’ve read.  Go, read it now and see for yourself.

OK, that’s the short review.  Now for the details:

The Comanche and Kiowa are painting for war in the Texas Panhandle. The US Army is preparing to stop them – but it needs horses to do so. Lots of horses. Walt Ames knows where to find them, and breeding stock for his horse ranch, too. All he has to do is ride down to Mexico, buy them, and bring them back safely. That’s easier said than done.

He and his men will have to cover more than two thousand brutally hard miles, and deal with Indian raiders, Comanchero renegades, bandidos, and would-be horse thieves… not to mention a certain Irish-Mexican redheaded beauty who can make him forget everything else in the emerald glow of her eyes. Walt’s going to need every ounce of his grit and determination, plenty of firepower, and a lot of luck if he’s to convert the gold in his pockets to gold on the hoof.

Gold on the Hoof occurs a few years after Rocky Mountain Retribution.  Ames is looking to expand his business into providing horses for the Army, so he puts together a plan to acquire them in Mexico.  He and a band of good men head south to do business and end up crossing the path of several bad men.  Grant gives the business end of this story a light touch, but lays it on thick with the action and characters.  I read the entire thing in one gulp.

Grant has a special knack for getting into the heads of his characters and exploring the world through their eyes, and this is on prominent display in Gold on the Hoof.  The character of Ames is especially well fleshed out, and the new characters Grant introduces quickly become three dimensional and interesting.

The author did a good job of pacing the story, and the research to paint the people and places we encounter is top notch.  Like I said, I read it all in one stretch, so don’t be surprised if you find you can’t put Gold on the Hoof down.

Review – The Grey Man – Down South

Jim Curtis has returned to his Grey Man series with a short, well-written entry that fills us in on the earlier life of the series’ principle character in Down South.

After too much action, too much peace gets on a man’s nerves. John Cronin’s back from Vietnam and bored, when Billy Moore suggests he check out the brand new Drug Enforcement Agency. He’d expected paperwork and meetings; he got on-the-job training in South America with stakeouts gone wrong and ambushes exploding into firefights.

This isn’t Cronin’s first rodeo, and now he’s taking the fight to the cartels, from the laboratories hidden deep in the highland jungles to the enforcers in the cities and secure compounds!

Down South opens as John Cronin is getting over his post-Vietnam hangover and trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life.  He can’t sit and watch the grass grow, and he can’t find a place in local law enforcement, so he looks further afield to a new organization.  Soon, he’s in the thick of the drug war, and he’s taking the war to the enemy.

Like I’ve said before, Curtis is one of the best story tellers I’ve ever encountered.  In a few short lines, he paints the scene of a steaming jungle or a dark alley, then fills it with well-rounded characters and well-paced action.

Of course, by now, we know John Cronin, but as we delve into Down South, we learn more about his family and the friends that we encounter in the rest of the series.

I’m not sure if the author meant for this to be the start of another story arc in the series, but I certainly hope so.  There’s a lot to explore, and I can’t wait for more.  Down South is definitely recommended.

Musings

  • My hand surgeon was less than enthusiastic about my suggestion that it might be easier to just take my finger off rather than fusing one of the knuckles.
    • In my defense, I had already been given my pre-surgery meds and I was as high as a kite at the time.
  • A nerve block that makes it so I not only can’t feel your entire right arm, but cannot even twitch my fingers is one of the oddest things I’ve ever experienced.
  • Irish Woman is always watching out for me.  She even took away my phone when my stoned self was looking to buy $1700 plane tickets to North Dakota.
  • You know, if Boo’s out in the front yard and I’m in the basement, and I can hear him scream when he falls out of the tree swing, you know he hurt something really bad.
  • Poor Irish Woman.  She was just getting me to the point where I was semi-functional when Boo needed to be taken for X-rays.  I’m just glad we stocked up on bourbon during our mini-vacation.
  • Boo ended up with a broken foot, a set of crutches, and a bad attitude.
  • He does, however, seem to enjoy the knee scooter the orthopedist rented to us so that he has a bit more mobility.
    • Now to convince him that it’s not a skateboard.
  • I’ve been trying to write, I really have.  But typing when you don’t have use of one of your index fingers is really, really hard.

Impossible Hope

 

Impossible-Hope-Generic

A few months ago, a friend put out the call for folks to do a good deed, and I was fortunate to donate a few thousand words to the cause:

My desire is to help my sister in any way I can. Being a man of modest means and resources, aside from being there for her and assisting whenever possible, there is little I can do alone. However, with help, I intend to do more. I was able to get in touch with a number of writers, all of whom have donated their time and effort and art for an Anthology of short stories, entitled “Impossible Hope”. Anyone who donates through here will receive a copy of the book as a thank you for their generosity. All of the money you donate will go to paying for the costs of the surgery and what it will take to get Bonnie and her husband there and back again. We ourselves will cover the costs of publishing the book, and once the book is published, all proceeds from it will go to the Ehlers-Danlos Society for the benefit of those like my sister. https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/ All those who donate through this effort will receive their copy before we officially publish the material.

I’m honored that my short story, Battle Buddy, is part of this remarkable collection of stories.  Each one shows the importance of never giving up, of always having hope, even an Impossible Hope.

Here are the stories and authors in the collection.  I really struggle to name a favorite, because they are all great, uplifting yarns.

  • Do Something – Logan Lewis
  • Battle Buddy – Tom Rogneby
  • Queen’s Gambit – David Freiberg
  • Glastonbury Abbey – Josh Griffing
  • Four Funerals and a Wedding – L. Jagi Lamplighter
  • A Random World of Delta Capricorni – John C Wright
  • Shoulders of Giants – Dave Higgins
  • Sir Ronan and the Smooth Road – Frank Luke
  • Buddy – William Joseph Roberts
  • Bullies and Soggy Soup Bones – Woelf Dietrich
  • Battle Within – Musaab Sultan
  • Take My Breath Away – Sam M. Phillips
  • Ghosts of Camlan Hill – Ben Wheeler
  • Moulin Rouge’s Last Secret – Denton Salle
  • Life on the Fringe – B. Michael Stevens
  • Blue Pearls – Benjamin Tyler Smith
  • The Other Side – Heather Hood
  • Invisible Battles – R.J. Ladon
  • With Royal Beauty Bright – Nicholas Arkison
  • The Switchman’s Lantern – James Pyles

The other authors got together to discuss their stories, and it is really interesting to hear about how things came together.

 

So, if you’ve got a few extra dollars you can spare, and you’re in need of something hopeful to read, please consider donating to Bonnie’s fund.  Enjoy!

World War II – Einstein’s Letter

The false peace of the Munich Agreement was tailing off in August of 1939.  Preparations for the invasion of Poland were beginning. Secret negotiations between the USSR and Nazi Germany were underway.

In the United States, Albert Einstein, a Jew who had escaped the Nazi’s, penned a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt that predicted the eventual end of the coming war:

Albert Einstein
Old Grove Road
Peconic, Long Island
August 2nd, 1939

F.D. Roosevelt
President of the United States
White House
Washington, D.C.

Sir:

Some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation which has arisen seem to call for watchfulness and if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration. I believe therefore that it is my duty to bring to your attention the following facts and recommendations.

In the course of the last four months it has been made probable through the work of Joliot in France as well as Fermi and Szilard in America–that it may be possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future.

This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable–though much less certain–that extremely powerful bombs of this type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might very well prove too heavy for transportation by air.

The United States has only very poor ores of uranium in moderate quantities. There is some good ore in Canada and former Czechoslovakia, while the most important source of uranium is in the Belgian Congo.

In view of this situation you may think it desirable to have some permanent contact maintained between the Administration and the group of physicists working on chain reactions in America. One possible way of achieving this might be for you to entrust the task with a person who has your confidence and who could perhaps serve in an unofficial capacity. His task might comprise the following:

a) to approach Government Departments, keep them informed of the further development, and put forward recommendations for Government action, giving particular attention to the problem of securing a supply of uranium ore for the United States.

b) to speed up the experimental work, which is at present being carried on within the limits of the budgets of University laboratories, by providing funds, if such funds be required, through his contacts with private persons who are willing to make contributions for this cause, and perhaps also by obtaining co-operation of industrial laboratories which have necessary equipment.

I understand that Germany has actually stopped the sale of uranium from the Czechoslovakian mines which she has taken over. That she should have taken such early action might perhaps be understood on the ground that the son of the German Under-Secretary of State, von Weizsacker, is attached to the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, where some of the American work on uranium is now being repeated.

Yours very truly,

SignatureAlbert Einstein

Book Review – Taghri’s Prize

Peter Grant has a new book on the streets, Taghri’s Prize.

Taghri has left the Sultan’s army to seek his fortune – and he seizes opportunity when it knocks. In the confusion of a pirate raid on a trading caravan, he kills their leader and captures their ship. The vessel is now his prize of war… but some prizes may be more trouble than they’re worth!

Nestled among the gold coins in the captain’s cabin is a stolen Temple sacrificial knife, whose Goddess is now paying close attention – too close! – to its new owner. Among the slaves he’s freed is a princess, formerly being held for ransom, who comes with political and personal intrigues all her own. Even if he survives the attention of both, there’s also a pirate lord out there, hell-bent on avenging the death of his son.

It’s going to take all of Taghri’s skill, experience and cunning to survive winning this prize!

Grant is one of my favorite storytellers, and I’m thrilled that he is stretching out into a new realm.  Taghri’s Prize deals with a setting that is unique in recent fantasy fiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Grant’s world.

The story flows very well. It’s got action, romance, pirates, and a whole lot more that fans of Conan and John Carter will enjoy.  Taghri is no barbarian by any means, but a lot of the elements that I enjoyed in Cimmeria and Barsoom show up in Taghri’s Prize.

Taghri, the eponymous main character, is well fleshed out after only a few chapters, and the other characters develop over the course of the book.  I am really interested in seeing where Grant takes this ensemble in later stories.

If you enjoy a good swashbuckler, I think you’ll enjoy Taghri’s Prize.

Musings

  • I got a very nice letter from the new Mercedes dealership today urging me to bring my truck in for a trade-in.
    • Apparently they’re desperate for 7 year old plain-jane F150’s at the high-end Euromobile store.
    • Unfortunately, Mercedes doesn’t make a long-bed truck.
    • I did, however, see a crew cab, 8 foot bed, F250 today and I got very covetous.
  • Question – How many pleats can a kilt have before the balding hipster has to admit that he’s cross-dressing?
    • There has to be line separating “rugged individualist” from “flouncy”
  • When the orthopedic nurse winces at your xray, maybe you’ve let your joints go too far.
  • I’m going to be having surgery soon to fuse a knuckle in my trigger finger.  This will mean I either have to learn to shoot left handed or use my middle finger.  Since I shoot mainly to relieve stress, the middle finger isn’t a bad option.

Thought for the Day

Here men from the planet Earth
first set foot upon the Moon
July 1969, A.D.
We came in peace for all mankind

 

Musings

  • I’m sure that it was merely a coincidence that Irish Woman planned our little getaway so that we stayed at a lodge across the lake from Boo’s summer camp.
  • Boo managed to lose his right sneaker, his right shower shoe, his wallet, and one of the badges he earned while at camp.
    • That, right there, is talent, pure talent.
  • I learned this week that I have developed expensive tastes.  When presented with a flight of mid to high end bourbons, my favorite was the $250 a bottle barrel-strength selection.
  • Contrasts in dining experiences:
    • Tuesday night, we had cheap appetizers and beer in plastic cups while we fed bits of bread to ducks and turtles.  We had to finish up quickly, because the dock-side restaurant was about to be blown away by the remnants of a hurricane.
    • Wednesday night, we had dinner at a high-end restaurant in Louisville, with meticulously crafted pasta and sauce.  Our dinner companions ranged from a middle-aged accountant with either a wholly improperly dressed daughter or a very well dressed trophy wife, along with the usual assortment of hipsters and retirees.
    • Personally, I preferred the ducks and cheap beer.
  • You know you’ve gone outside of the big city when you notice that all of the folks in the neighborhood have bear-proof trash containers.
  • There are two kinds of people who guide you through a bourbon tasting:
    • “You will notice that the nose of this single-barrel, small-batch bourbon includes caramel, charcoal briquets, and tooled leather.  A small sip will bring you a spiciness on the front end, with sweet notes of cherry, vanilla, and and pipe tobacco.  The finish is warm and sustained.”
    • “Now, take a sniff of that glass in front of you.  Good, huh?  Take a sip, there, and roll it around a bit.  You’ll taste the rye on the tip of your tongue, and the sugar in the middle.  That baby will burn all the way down.  That’s what we call the Kentucky Hug.”

Book Review – True Course: Lessons From A Life Aloft

True Course: Lessons from a Life Aloft is Brigid Johnson’s memoir of a life spent on a flight deck. This is a book that will repeatedly make you sit back and think for a while, either to consider an insight the author gives you, or to relive a memory she brings to your mind.

Each chapter takes on a different subject, such as patience, friendship, or freedom. While all of the chapters tie back to flight and the life of an aviator, Johnson does an expert job of tying her thoughts to the reader’s life. Again and again, I found myself nodding along with her stories. I laughed out loud at some parts, and found emotion tightening my throat at others.

True Course is an excellent book for a slow, hot day or an evening in front of the fire.

%d bloggers like this: