Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Spotlight - Babette: The Many Loves, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth by Ross Eliot

Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth
By Ross Eliot

Genre: Memoir, LGBTQ/ Trans Nonfiction, NW History

This narrative begins in 1998 when, in his early twenties, Ross Eliot relocates to Portland, Oregon and eventually the basement pantry of a grand house owned by Dr. Babette Ellsworth, an arcane history professor. 
Her past unfolds in stories, from the 1928 kidnapping in central Washington carried out by a mysterious wealthy French woman, to life in occupied Europe during World War II with the Czarist assassin of Rasputin a frequent houseguest. The professor’s later life experiences in America only create more intrigue, from teenage prostitution to her late-life sex reassignment, involvement with the Catholic Church and connections to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose cult perpetrated a notorious 1984 bio-terror attack in Oregon.
Eliot cares for Dr. Ellsworth until her death in 2002 before an entire class of students, however, the shroud covering her story has only partially raised and murkier secrets than ever suspected emerge. Part memoir, part mystery, part history lesson– this true tale binds drama from classic Greek tragedy together with revelations worthy of the most bizarre fiction. From gender and sexuality to religious theory and existential philosophy, it’s an unorthodox love saga between pupil and mentor, yet also for the city of Portland where they live.

Author Info
Ross Eliot is a writer, roofer, auto mechanic, DJ and commercial fisherman based in Portland, Oregon and Sitka, Alaska.  He is best known as publisher and editor of the critically acclaimed counterculture gun politics magazine American Gun Culture Report from 2006-2011 and the current internet journal Occupy the 2nd Amendment.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Review - What Comes Around by Ted Bell

What Comes Around (Alexander Hawke, #7.2)What Comes Around by Ted Bell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Kindle Edition, 100 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by William Morrow Impulse (first published November 26th 2013)
Source: Publisher for Review

'An esteemed former CIA director dies off the coast of Maine.

Another senior CIA officer is found dead of a "heart attack" in a posh Paris hotel. Counterspy Alex Hawke and his friend Ambrose Congreve think this could be more than coincidence. Hawke discovers that the victims are connected through one man: Spider Hyde, a rogue intelligence officer whose dangerous exploits got him barred from the CIA. Now Spider believes he's been wronged and is out for vengeance-and Alex Hawke is his number-one target.

Hawke's only hope is to lure his deadly enemy into a trap he can't escape-and it's a place Hawke knows better than anyone: his seaside home in Bermuda.

My Thoughts:
This was my first taste of reading anything written by Ted Bell and it was definitely a short and sweet adventure.

Obviously now knowing the character Alex Hawke from any of his previous novels, I was pleasantly surprised at how similar he seemed to be to a James Bond type character but with a bit more grit and less of the suave appeal that Bond has.

As this is only a very short novella, the storyline and action starts pretty much straight away and doesn't really stop until the end. There isn't much room for any 'filler' material and the reader gets a good taste of what is to come in the next instalment in the series.

What I liked about Hawke is that he is a very confident character, but also not without his flaws and Bell doesn't make him the perfect 'think of everything' hero like some others.

After reading What Comes Around I'm definitely interested in going back to the beginning and seeing how these stories begin and how Hawke's character develops along the way.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review - Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp

Nothing Lasts ForeverNothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kindle, 245 pages
Published December 17th 2012 by Graymalkin Media (first published January 1st 1979)
Source: Netgalley

'This bestseller was the basis for the blockbuster film "Die Hard" starring Bruce Willis.

High atop a Los Angeles skyscraper, an office Christmas party turns into a deadly cage-match between a lone New York City cop and a gang of international terrorists. Every action fan knows it could only be the explosive big-screen blockbuster Die Hard. But before Bruce Willis blew away audiences as unstoppable hero John McClane, author Roderick Thorp knocked out thriller readers with the bestseller that started it all.

A dozen heavily armed terrorists have taken hostages, issued demands, and promised bloodshed all according to plan. But they haven't counted on a death-defying, one-man cavalry with no shoes, no backup, and no intention of going down easily. As hot-headed cops swarm outside, and cold-blooded killers wield machine guns and rocket launchers inside, the stage is set for the ultimate showdown between anti-hero and uber-villains. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fight to the death. Ho ho ho!

My Thoughts:
My main reason for reading Nothing Lasts Forever was pretty simple. I am a total Die Hard tragic and have seen all of the movies in the franchise more times than I could count. As soon as I discovered that this book was the basis for the first Die Hard movie, I just couldn't resist reading it to see how it compared.

All in all I absolutely loved this book and got to a certain point around three quarters of the way through where I had to be bribed to put it down. You can just so vividly see the majority of the movie playing out in your mind as you read. Aside from a few major differences in character names and plot developments that I think make both the book and movie great individual works in their own right, the two are extremely similar and I was just as out of breath and eager to find out what was going to happen next while reading as I was when I first watched the movie many, many years ago.

The main character, Joe Leland, is definitely a lot more darker than Bruce Willis made John McClane, but that seemed to add to his overall plight a lot more and explain why he felt he had to become a one-man army and save the day.

I am very glad to have read Nothing Lasts Forever now, especially to see where my favourite movie franchise of all time first got its roots. If you are after a play-by-play re-enactment of the film then you may be a little disappointed after reading this book, but if you have an open mind and don't mind seeing this as a story in its own right, then you may be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review - Outback Ghost by Rachael Johns

Outback GhostOutback Ghost by Rachael Johns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Paperback, 343 pages
Published October 1st 2014 by Harlequin MIRA 
Source: Publisher for Review
'Stella only wanted a holiday… the last thing she expected was a love interest and a possible ghost.

Third-generation farmer Adam Burton has always tried to keep his family together, but twenty years after his little sister went missing from the family farm he’s losing hope. His dad has walked out, his mum is as reclusive as ever and he still blames himself for his sister’s disappearance.

When Stella Reynolds and her young daughter arrive from the big smoke to stay at the holiday cottage on their farm for the summer, Adam is immediately attracted to the beautiful single mum. Although he’s always steered clear of children and doesn’t believe he deserves love or a family of his own, he finds himself spending time with Stella and her young daughter, Heidi, and enjoying it.

As the twenty-year old mystery begins to unravel, Stella wonders if she should take her daughter and run. But doing so is easier said than done, because Stella just might be falling in love with Bunyip Bay and a gorgeous, but hurting, farmer.

From one of Australia’s best loved rural romance authors comes a story of mystery, heartache and hope.

My Thoughts:
Outback Ghost is listed as the final instalment in the Bunyip Bay series after Outback Dreams and Outback Blaze.

For those who have read the first two books you'll already be familiar with the majority of characters from the friendly little Bunyip Bay community and I have to admit that it will be a little sad not to feel a part of this town anymore (unless the rumours are true and Rachael Johns releases a fourth instalment in the series)!

Adam Burton is a young farmer and was kind of my favourite out of all the male characters carried along throughout the books. He seems to be such a nice, likeable and down to earth Aussie guy who wants nothing more out of life except to keep his family farm running while trying to take care of his grieving mother. Adam's younger sister disappeared without a trace when he was only a young boy and the lack of closure to her disappearance has been a huge burden on his whole family for twenty years.

Stella Reynolds decides to come to Bunyip Bay for a month long holiday with her little girl, choosing to stay in the Burton farm-stay accommodation. I found Stella to also be a very likeable character who was easy to relate to. She's obviously had a lot to deal with on her own as a single mother to a daughter with special needs but has developed into a strong and independent person because of it.

I really enjoyed watching the relationship develop between these two characters along with the touch of mystery and the supernatural that pulls the plot forward. This story covers every emotion but still manages to leave the reader content with how it all wraps up in the end.

Rachael Johns writes in a way that seems to flow quite effortlessly, making her books really easy and enjoyable to read. I will definitely be looking forward to reading more from her in the future.

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