Review: Make Me by Lee Child

Make Me

After a couple of a disappointing entries in the Jack Reacher saga, it’s nice to see Lee Child get back to form with Make Me.

Traveling cross country by train, Reacher stops in the town of Mother’s Rest. Curious about how the town got its name, Reacher inadvertently steps into a conspiracy and cover-up. He meets up with Michelle Chang, a private investigator who came to Mother’s Rest at her partner’s request. Now that partner is missing and Reacher is drawn into the mystery behind his disappearance.

The set-up for Make Me is classic Reacher. And for the first half, watching Reacher take swings in the dark as to exactly what he’s stumbled across is a great deal of fun and makes for a compelling mystery. It’s once we get to the second half of the story that that things begin to break down a bit. It’s not terrible by any stretch of the imagination and it certainly fits well into the Reacher mythology. But I couldn’t help but feel a bit like, “That’s it?” when we finally figure out what’s going on in Mother’s Rest and meet the various forces behind a massive cover-up. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday: Sophomores


Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) asks us which debut authors we’re looking forward to reading their sophomore book or story.

If this had come up a few weeks ago, at the top of my list would have been Sally Kilpatrick.  However, Sally’s sophomore novel Bittersweet Creek was released in stores last week and I’ve already read it.  It’s fantastic — even better than her first novel and I highly recommend it.

As for the rest, here we go.

  1.  Rebecca Albertalli
  2. Paula Hawkins
  3. Lance Rubin
  4. Tommy Walluch

So, it’s only four.  But I look forward to seeing what others recommend today and maybe finding a few new books and authors to sample.

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Musing Mondays: A Book By It’s Cover


Time to kick-off the week with Musing Mondays (hosted by A Daily Rhythm).

This week’s random question asks: Have you ever chosen a book, mostly because of its cover art, and then regretted it because the content didn’t live up to your expectations?

There’s the old adage that we should never judge a book by its cover.  But it’s something that I know I do.  In my college days, I learned that magazines have six seconds to get someone to pick them up and/or purchase them on impulse.  I think the same thing is true for books.

I’ve judged a lot of books worthy of my attention and reading time by their cover over the years. And many times this pays off. And then, there are others where it did not.   Continue reading

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Comic Book Friday: Afterlife with Archie, Volume 1: Escape from Riverdale

Afterlife with Archie, Vol. 1: Escape from Riverdale

When Jughead’s old pal Hot Dog is hit by a car, the distraught teen takes him to Sabrina and her family to bring him back to life. While her aunts refuse, Sabrina is moved by Jughead’s plight and taps into some dark magic to bring Hot Dog back to the land of the living.

Apparently all the copies of Pet Semetary were checked out before Jughead decided to this. Because while Hot Dog does come back, sometimes dead is better. Before you know it, Hog Dog has unleashed a wave of zombie terror in Riverdale — and wouldn’t you know it, on the night of the big dance!

Afterlife with Archie is a hybrid of the squeaky clean stories of Archie, Jughead and company and the gritty, over the top horror of The Walking Dead. Reading that sentence, you might think these are two things that won’t go well together. But instead of being jarring, the two pieces fit well together, giving us a band of survivors that we know and can root for all while watching their world go to hell in a hand basket as several familiar faces become zombies and begin attacking.

And yet for all the humans who did in this collection (and there are a few), it’s interesting that the death that readers may feel the most is Archie’s beloved old dog pal. Heading home to check on his parents, Archie comes across the zombie Hot Dog and looks doomed, only to see his old pal step in to save his life one last time. The use of thought balloons to narrate Archie’s pal’s internal monologue and thoughts about saving his beloved master are moving at first, turning tragic as the zombie virus consumes him and he turns on Archie.

I won’t lie and say I wasn’t more than a bit moved by this moment and the emotions that this comic taps into. I also won’t lie and say I caught every nuance of the storyline because I’m not necessarily familiar with every character and cliche from the world of Archie comics on display here.

But none of that matters because this collection of five issues works well as a homage to both the tropes of Archie and horror stories.

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All Good Things: A Star Trek Podcast: Episodes 53 & 54: TNG Season Three


The last two installments of All Good Things: A Star Trek podcast have celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s third season.

This is the season when Next Generation came into its own and helped the franchise soar to new heights.  It also has the greatest cliffhanger in television history capping off the season. (“Mr.!”)

To discuss this season it took Barry and I two episodes.  We discuss each episode and give you our top three episodes from the season.   We did put “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “Best of Both Worlds, Part One” into the Hall of Fame and took them off the table because, quite frankly, we’d rank them one and two and then have to do lots of honorable mentions.

So tune in to Episode 53 and Episode 54
and find out why we love this season so much.

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Way Back Wednesdays: “Suspense: Dead Earnest”


As we get ready for Trick or Treating Saturday night, I am taking this week to look at a variety of spooky things.  So I figured for today’s Way Back Wednesdays (hosted by A Well Read Woman), I’d look back on something from pop culture that chilled me in my younger days and left an impression on me.

I’m a big fan of old time radio, especially the old time comedies. I was introduced to old time radio by the Star Wars radio dramas.  They used to air on my local NPR station Sunday evenings and that would lead into a show called the Big Broadcast.  The Big Broadcast was a couple of hours of vintage radio shows that aired each Sunday night.  Among those in the regular rotation were The Great Gildersleeve and Suspense.

The good thing about old time radio is that it allowed your imagination to fill in the gaps.  The bad thing about old time radio was that it allowed your imagination to fill in the gaps.  This is especially true when it came to scary or suspenseful shows since my imagination is far better than television or a movie could ever hope to be.

Suspense-logo-300x168Which brings us to the episode of Suspense for today, “Dead Earnest.”

The set-up is fairly straight-forward.  A guy named Earnest is a catalpetic.  This means that he can appear to be dead even if he’s not.  Earnest has a medical bracelet detailing his condition and carries a note in his pocket.   But when he’s almost hit by a car and suffers an attack, he’s separated from both.    What follows is an edge-of-your-seat story as various people find the note and other pieces of Earnest’s wardrobe and we wonder if Earnest will be actually killed when the people at the morgue go to embalm him.

This episode really got under my skin when I first heard it and listening to it years later, it’s still a good study in how to build tension and suspense.

Suspense broadcast the story several times with a variety of casts during its run.

If you want to hear the story, the good news is that most old time radio is in the public domain, so you can download and enjoy it.  The Escape and Suspense web site has an entry on the episode and a couple of versions you can download and enjoy.


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Top Ten Tuesday: Memorable Stephen King Stories


Time again for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish).  This week it’s a Halloween-themed freebie.  So, I thought I’d look at the top ten memorable stories by the master of horror, Stephen King.


  1.  Cujo.  The second novel by Stephen King I read, this one offers scares a-plenty.  The tragedy of the family dog who goes insane due to rabies and becomes a lethal killing machine held my attention and just wouldn’t let go.  White knuckle, scary good.  I listened to this one on audio book a few years ago to see if it can still frighten me.  It did.  I refuse to see the movie version because I figure it will either a)not hold up to the pictures created in my head or b)it will and scare my pants off.
  2. Pet Semetary.  And maybe not for the reasons you think.  Yes, the concept of things coming back from the dead and being not quite right is disturbing.  But for my money, the scariest moment of the book is the flashback to the youngest son running out in front of a semi.  King paints a vivid picture of a father’s desperation to save his son and it’s arguably his most unforgettable passage.
  3. Misery.  If you’ve only seen the movie, you’ve really not experienced this one.  Yes, Annie does horrible things to Paul in the movie, but it’s nothing like being there in the bed with Paul as she does these things.  Again, it’s a case of my imagination creating a far more vivid picture than any movie ever could.
  4. Bag of Bones.   King just finds a different gear when it comes to writers facing demons or haunts.  This one is no exception.  The story of a haunted writer ushered in a second renaissance for King.  If you haven’t read it, you should.
  5. The Shining.  King’s story of one man’s descent into madness.  It starts off slowly, building and building until everything just shatters.  The final fate of Jack Torrance in the book is both horrifying and heartbreaking.
  6. The Library Policeman. Part of King’s Four Past Midnight collection, this one is scary if you’ve ever had an overdue library book.
  7. The Mangler.  It’s a short story by King and while it may not be in his upper pantheon, it still unnerved me.  I think part of it was that it was better related to me over a campfire by a youth group leader.
  8. The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass. From the beginning, we know the romance between Roland and Susan Delgado is doomed to tragedy.  What we don’t know is just how tragic is can be.  This flashback novel fills in the details, giving us a glimpse at the young Roland and his romance with Susan Delgado.  King invests us in the romance and the characters, making her death have that much greater an impact on you once you get there.  I may have cried a bit reading the section when she meets her fate.
  9. It.  King’s mammoth novel is one that I loved when I read it and still love to this day.  I read it in a few days, confined to bed with a stomach bug.  Maybe this helped ratchet up the horror a bit.   Honestly, I’ve seen the mini-series and it can’t hold a candle to just how good this book is.
  10. Gerald’s Game.  While not considered a classic King novel, this one still held my attention when I first read it.   Two consenting adults (husband and wife) are spicing up their love life a bit when he dies, leaving her handcuffed to the bed. What follows as she works to escape is utterly memorable and horrifying.


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