Those Who Disappeared by Kevin Wignall

Having read all of the awesomely named Kevin Wignall‘s books, when given the opportunity to grab Those Who Disappeared on NetGalley I jumped at the chance. And like most Wignall books, I can say that I enjoyed this one and read it pretty quickly.

When a man’s body is discovered in a Swiss glacier thirty years after he went missing, his son, Foster Treherne, hopes he’ll finally have closure on what happened to the father he never met. But then the autopsy reveals signs of a struggle, and what was assumed to be a tragic accident suddenly looks more sinister.

Foster tracks down his father’s old friends, but when he starts to ask questions it becomes clear that there’s something they don’t want to tell him. While some are evasive, others seem to wish the body had never been found. What exactly is their connection to each other, and why are they so reluctant to discuss the day his father disappeared? Who are they trying to protect?

If he wants to uncover what really happened, Foster must follow the trail of secrets and lies—no matter how devastating the consequences, and what they might reveal about his father. Because the truth can only stay buried for so long…

It was a thought provoking and engaging read. Wignall’s characters are always interesting and unique and Faster is no exception

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A Creepy, Atmospheric Young Adult Story From Kevin Wignall

An interesting exploration of teenage relationships within a creepy ghost story.

Speaking of books by longtime friends. OK, maybe that is a slight exaggeration. I have never met Kevin Wignall, unlike Jim Geraghty, but I have been reading his books since 2004 and interacting with him via email and blogs nearly ever since. We are “friends” on Facebook so perhaps that counts nowadays.

Anywhoo… Mr. Wignall recently released a short horror story for young adults, This Place of Evil (he also has another book coming out soon, Those Who Disappeared, but more about that closer to publication).



It was an enjoyable and quick read but definitely not something I would have picked up or read if not for it being written by Kevin. It’s basically an exploration of teenage relationships set against the backdrop of a ghost story in an abandoned school (jock. popular kid, underachiever, girls, etc.).

The backstory, in the form of journal entries from their teacher when he was at the school, continues to provide more context/history interspersed with current events, but the creepiness is really just the perception of what it would be like to be trapped in an old, abandoned building with no way to reach anyone after your teacher just disappeared.

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Jim Geraghty Returns with Another Dangerous Clique Novel

“Ripped from the headlines” plot with Geraghty’s sense of humor makes this a quick read.



When I went to post my review of Jim Geraghty’s latest book, Hunting Four Horseman, on Goodreads I was again cursing the lack of half stars (although, does a half star really mean a lot?) and wrestling with judging a book by the genre it is or the appeal of that genre to you personally…

Which is to say I enjoyed the second Dangerous Clique book but realized these books really aren’t my prefered genre or style within the genre.

Having known Jim for some time, and appreciating his writing, I wanted to buy and read his novels. And they are full of his research, knowledge and sense of humor, which is why I enjoyed them.

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The Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson

For those of you not following along, I’m reading the Wingfeather Saga to mark the release of new collectable hardcover editions being released this year.  Specifically, books three and four being released today, October 6.

As I noted with book 2, the books seems to be getting better as we go. I enjoyed On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, and found the second half of the book more engaging than the first, and that pattern continued with North! or Be Eaten.

And that pattern continued with The Monster in the Hallows.

Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby, the Lost Jewels of Anniera, are hiding from Gnag the Nameless in the Green Hollows, one of the few places in the land of Aerwiar not overrun by the Fangs of Dang. But there’s a big problem. Janner’s little brother–heir to the throne of Anniera–has grown a tail. And gray fur. Not to mention two pointed ears and long, dangerous fangs. To the suspicious folk of the Green Hollows, he looks like a monster.

But Janner knows better. His brother isn’t as scary as he looks. He’s perfectly harmless. Isn’t he?

Each book builds on the previous; more history revealed, more surprises, more depth to the characters, etc.

Peterson continues to balance a focus on the inner lives of the children, Janner in particular, with the history and myth of Anniera. He adds in secondary characters that help flush out the details and color of the world he has built but also keeps readers on their toes with twists and turns.

The last third of this book in particular is pretty intense as the action and intrigue ratchets up. Things are barrelling towards the fourth and final book.

As I have said before, great series for young readers and particularly a read out loud or audiobook to share as a family.  But something adults can enjoy too.

North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

For those of you not following along, I’m reading the Wingfeather Saga to mark the release of new collectable hardcover editions being released this year.  Specifically, books three and four being released on October 6.

Alas, rather than hardback I am reading them on Kindle so I am not getting the full effect of the new covers, maps, and illustrations by Joe Sutphin.  Kindle reading does make it easier to read in bed at night without disturbing my wife so it has that going for it.  And it does give me a sense of the added material even if not quite as grand as the hardbacks.

I am pleased to report that the books seems to be getting better as we go. I enjoyed On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and found the second half of the book more engaging than the first.

And that pattern continued with North! or Be Eaten

Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby thought they were normal children with normal lives and a normal past. But now they know they’re really the Lost Jewels of Anniera, heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and suddenly everyone wants to kill them.

In order to survive, the Igibys must flee to the safety of the Ice Prairies, where the lizardlike Fangs of Dang cannot follow. First, however, they have to escape the monsters of Glipwood Forest, the thieving Stranders of the East Ben, and the dreaded Fork Factory.

But even more dangerous are the jealousies and bitterness that threaten to tear them apart. Janner and his siblings must learn the hard way that the love of a family is more important than anything else.

I think I enjoyed this second book in the Wingfeather Series more than the first because there was more action and much more of the larger picture was revealed.

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Make Russia Great Again by Christopher Buckley

The bad news is I am back from vacation in Michigan and no longer have access to a lake simply by stepping out of my tent and choosing the form of my water transportation (pontoon boat, row boat, or kayak). The good news is I read another political satire and am here to report back.

First, the basics:

Make Russia Great Again Book Cover
Make Russia Great Again Fiction Simon & Schuster Kindle 288 NetGalley

The award-winning and bestselling author of Thank You for Smoking delivers a hilarious and whipsmart fake memoir by Herb Nutterman—Donald Trump’s seventh chief of staff—who has written the ultimate tell-all about Trump and Russia. Herb Nutterman never intended to become Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff. Herb served the Trump Organization for twenty-seven years, holding jobs in everything from a food and beverage manager at the Trump Magnifica to being the first general manager of the Trump Bloody Run Golf Course. And when his old boss asks “his favorite Jew” to take on the daunting role of chief of staff, Herb, spurred on by loyalty, agrees. But being the chief of staff is a lot different from being a former hospitality expert. Soon, Herb finds himself deeply involved in Russian intrigue, deflecting rumors about Mike Pence’s high school involvement in a Satanic cult, and leading President Trump’s reelection campaign. What Nutterman experiences is outrageous, outlandish, and otherwise unbelievable—therefore making it a deadly accurate account of being the chief of staff during the Trump administration. With hilarious jabs at the biggest world leaders and Washington politics overall, Make Russia Great Again is a timely political satire from “one of the funniest writers in the English language” (Tom Wolfe).

Of the recent political satire books I have read Make Russia Great Again was by far the best.

Christopher Buckley makes the White House activity all too believable and doesn’t go so far over the top as to spoil the humor. The dry humor works with just enough absurdity to add spice. Sure, it is at times sophomoric and crude, but given the subject matter what do you expect?

Why the three stars? I guess there is a fine line between humor that is funny and that which is depressing. So even as I smiled wryly at the humor, I was shaking my head at the reality that makes satire of the Trump era so difficult.

And this is where judging this book becomes difficult. If you WANT to laugh at/with Trump World, Buckley provides the opportunity. But in some ways it seems to normalize the absurdities involved. Ironically, the humor works in important ways because Buckley gets at the absurdity that lies close to any form of politics and celebrity culture and plays it straight. And he highlights how Trump turns this all up to 11. There isn’t a seething anger or a bitterness either.

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Frozen Dreams by Moe Lane

Last week I mentioned my policy of reading books by friends, online or “in real life,” in relation to Jim Geraghty.  Well, it was actually a conversation about Moe Lane which sparked my memory of not reviewing Jim’s book. Which brings us around to Moe’s book. Wait, what?

Let me start again. I try to read and review books written by people I know.  Writing a book is hard. Getting it published is too. So I try to do my small part by reading and offering thoughts in pixels when friends/acquaintances achieve this milestone. Well, Moe-another blogging friend from way back- has a book out. Frozen Dreams.

Frozen Dreams Book Cover
Frozen Dreams Flying Koala; Kindle 210 pages Amazon

It’s a very straightforward detective story! Well, one where the detective lives in a post-apocalypse fantasy setting where there are orcs rampaging in the eastern desert, evil sorcerers lurking in their towers to the north, and Adventurers looting and exploring the post-American ruins. But they all come to Cin City: Cinderella, the capital of the Kingdom of New California. Maybe it’s because of the glitter. Maybe it’s because of the giant iceberg in the middle of the Gulf of California. And maybe it’s because they got nowhere else to go.

I should confess that I am not really a Geek in the sense of plugged into and fluent in the language of fantasy, comics, and elements of pop culture (TV, video & role playing games, etc.). I am sorta Geek adjacent, if you will.

I bring this up because, Frozen Dreams is a mash-up of classic detective fiction and urban fantasy with a dash of dystopia. Someone on Goodreads explained it this way:

Dragonlance ala Dashiell Hammett during a Canticle for Leibowitz.

Sounds about right. I enjoyed it because I know Moe and found it interesting to picture him creating the world and story; and voicing the main character, to be honest. Could have used a little more world building setup and character depth, but as I have frequently noted, most first time novels do; particularly in what is the first in a series.

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The Captain and the Glory by Dave Eggers

I get that it is hard to make satire of our current situation but isn’t that what talented writers are supposed to offer?

This is the question I have been asking myself this summer. OK, perhaps that is an exaggeration. But it is a useful literary device for a blog post…

If you are scoring at home, I am on a quest to read 100 books in a year.  As a result, I am always tempted by short books.  I stumbled on two politically orientated satires this summer which I thought would be both entertaining and present a theme for this on-again off-again blog.

No so much…

First was The Cockroach by Ian McEwan which I found rather sad all things considered.

Next up, The Captain and the Glory by Dave Eggers

The Captain and the Glory Book Cover
The Captain and the Glory Satire Knopf Hardback 114 pages Library

When the decorated Captain of a great ship descends the gangplank for the final time, a new leader, a man with a yellow feather in his hair, vows to step forward. Though he has no experience, no knowledge of nautical navigation or maritime law, and though he has often remarked he doesn’t much like boats, he solemnly swears to shake things up. Together with his band of petty thieves and confidence men known as the Upskirt Boys, the Captain thrills his passengers, writing his dreams and notions on the cafeteria wipe-away board, boasting of his exemplary anatomy, devouring cheeseburgers, and tossing overboard anyone who displeases him. Until one day a famous pirate, long feared by passengers of the Glory but revered by the Captain for how phenomenally masculine he looked without a shirt while riding a horse, appears on the horizon . . . Absurd, hilarious, and all too recognizable, The Captain and the Glory is a wicked farce of contemporary America only Dave Eggers could dream up.

My quick take: it was funny (and depressing) in spots, but just too heavy handed and preachy by the end. Better than its British equivalent, The Cockroach, but that is a low bar.

Perhaps reassuringly, many critics agree with me.

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