The Fireman – Joe Hill


In a word – enthralling.

This book grabbed me at page one and didn’t let go until page 768. I finished this book in breathtaking speed and didn’t want it to end.

In this story, a mold spore has been released and the infected people develop a disease come to be known as, Dragonscale or simply ‘scale. The infected get marks on their bodies that make it hard to hide that that have it. After some time, the infected burn to death (spontaneous combustion) and usually end up starting fires that spread thus taking over cities and forest and sometimes even states in ash clouds and fire. As the disease spreads, the healthy and the sick are pitted against each other. Governments have ‘camps’ for the sick, that end up being just places for people to burn without harming the healthy. Cremation Squads led by fanatics roam the streets and kill anyone who is infected before they can burn and cause more damage. Structure and government break down, and chaos ensues. The sick go into hiding and wait to die, but one man may have found a way to beat it. He can somehow control the fire and use it at will.

We meet the Fireman through Harper, who is a school nurse turned emergency room nurse who contracts the virus after leaning she is pregnant. She saves a boy the Fireman brings into her hospital and for that, he is in her debt. After she contracts the virus, her husband slowly unhinges and tries to kill her and her unborn baby. She flees and finds a a group of sick people living together in an abandon summer camp. There she officially meets the Fireman and learns that he has a way to keep from burning up; she wants to learn how so that she can deliver her baby.

Through out the whole book you see how sick people want to live, even knowing that that they have a death sentence one them. You see healthy people panic and do deplorable things. You see people control people with fear and ‘miracles’. You read about compassion, love, and humor in unlikely places.

One of the most real passages I have ever read I read in this book and it resonated because how true it is. “But you know…by dinnertime, I had mostly quit thinking about it. It didn’t take long to feel like just one more of the century’s possible but unlikely apocalypses, like an epidemic of bird flu wiping out billions or an asteroid cracking the planet in half. You can’t do anything about it, and it’s happening to poor people on the other side of the world, and the kids need help with homework, so you just stop thinking about it.” If that doesn’t speak about how desensitized we get from all the bad news we hear I don’t know what does.

Another passage that terrified me in this book: – we meet a woman (Renee) who is confined to the hospital but making the best of it. She starts a reading circle for the kids and a book club for adults and when Harper asks Renee about her choice in books, (Because of how short it is), Renee says: “There is something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out. “

How terrifying is that? That we might die and never know the end the current book we are on?


Unbreakable – Will McIntosh


I really enjoyed this novel. I went through a few books that I started and just couldn’t finish, so I was so glad when I found out that this one was available for Kindle download.

The story follows Celia as she discovers that everything she knows about the world and her life has been a lie. She lives in a walled-in town called Record Village, where all the inhabitants have to compete to break records, like longest to go without sleeping, or holding your breath, or eating hot dogs. When you break a record you and your team get rewarded with food and lodging. If you don’t break the record, then its possible you and your team have to live in squalor. When Celia’s close friend, who has been like a mother to her, needs medication that Celia thinks she can only get beyond the walls of her village, Celia doesn’t think twice about. Problem is, no one has ever gotten out and come back to talk about it.

On her journey she finds new friends, the truth of her existence, her town, and everyone in it. The truth ends up being much more horrible than she could have imaged.

I think this is good novel for anyone who enjoys science fiction or dystopian novels. Will McIntosh is an excellent storyteller that leaves the reader excited for each new chapter.


Micro – Michael Crichton and Richard Preston


Remember, Honey I shrunk the kids? Great movie that made you really feel bad for ants. When I would watch that as a kid I would often think how cool it would be to explore my backyard and only be an inch tall. After reading, Micro, I have decided I would like remain above 12 inches tall, thank you.

The late Michael Crichton had left a few unfinished gems when he died. They have since been found by his wife and, with the help of other talented authors, like Richard Preston (whom you may know from The Hot Zone), they are being finished and published so that fans can continue to enjoy his work. I have always loved his books, even if I had to read them at a snails pace. The reason I have to read them so carefully is the same reason I love them. He goes into immense detail and does mountains of research for each book, so when you are reading it, it feels like it has or could possibly be happening. Evident in, Micro, there is a bibliography that spans five pages. All data and research for this book. Everything from the habitat of spiders to journals by Nicola Tesla. What you get from all this hard work is a wonderful, rich, suspenseful, and beautifully detailed story.

Micro is a story about a group of grad students in varying fields of science, who get an opportunity to work at a cutting edge facility that says they are creating groundbreaking medicine and medical research. Once the students get to Hawaii, where the facility is located, they quickly come to realize that all is not what it seems. Once they get shrunk down to micro sized humans and thrust into the Hawaiian forest, they quickly find themselves in a whole new world, as alien to them as a different planet would be. They find new species  of insects and bacteria never before seen with the human eye, fight off dangerous monsters, like centipedes, and learn to trust each other and each others individual knowledge about the world around them. Each student is a specialist in something, beetles, spiders, poisons etc, and that all becomes life or death information as they travel to find help.

One great example of how richly detailed this books is, is when they are so hungry that they hunt a katydid and butcher it for a meal. insect_musicians_ptero-camel_LEa_WHITE

The description of them craving this thing up almost made me a vegan. No joke. I am not sure I could ever be that hungry. But in all lost survivor novels or movies, you often find the main character doing things you couldn’t see yourself doing. Killing, eating weird food, finding strength, endurance, and the primal will to survive. That is what makes these stories so good, because you sit and squeam about eating a bug while you snack on your crackers, saying you would never do it, but deep down…what would do if you were tiny?

This book was absolute joy to read. It was exactly what you would expect from a two very seasoned authors and it felt like Michael Crichton the whole way through. I think this would appeal to anyone who loves his work, or enjoys science fiction, biology, suspense or just loves a good book. You will have a book hangover after this one.

Seriously though – I don’t want to see one of these at 5’6 – can you imagine seeing it if it was bigger than you?


The Gunslinger -The Dark Tower Series – Stephen King


So first I must tell you, in case you didn’t know, Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. I have a few whose books I will devour whenever new ones come out, and I am always searching for older ones I may have missed. My first journey with Stephen King was Pet Sematary – to this day I look under my bed before sleeping. Kidding, but you get the idea. I have read everything I can by Mr. King, and have thoroughly enjoyed most of work. My favorite will always be The Stand; however, each book is like finding a long-lost friend.

It is because of my love for him and his works that I write this with unwilling fingers. The Dark Tower series, for me, just isn’t interesting. I tried and failed to read this book many times over the years, and just couldn’t get into it. I finally finished it, and to be honest, don’t think I missed much. However, I am told it all makes sense and it all comes together when you read the rest of the series. Since I know Mr. King, and have had a hard time with some of his earlier work (Salem’s Lot comes to mind), I will continue to try this series out.

To the review though:

It starts with Roland chasing the Man in Black. Anyone who has read any novels by King will instantly recognize the Man in Black as Randell Flagg or the Dark Man. Roland is the last of his kind, a Gunslinger and from what I gather, his home has been destroyed. The world they live in is like our world, but it is either a parallel world, or many years in our future. They know things like Bible and the Beatles, but don’t have any knowledge of skyscrapers for example. King never comes out and says parallel or future, but I am sure the next books divulge deeper into that.

Along the journey to meet the Man in Black and in his search for the Dark Tower, he meets some colorful characters that sometimes confuse more than help the plot line. It spans a massive dessert and goes into pitch black caves. The descriptions were great, as was the character development. I personally just didn’t care if Roland ever met the Man in Black. HOWEVER, I feel this is all me and not Mr. King’s writing or the story itself. I must emphasize that because as I said, I love his writing and most of his stories, so when I come across one I don’t like I know it must be me.

Anyway – this got off tangent – I would recommend this book (and series) to anyone who likes adventure, science fiction, alternate universes, maybe even westerns. I think it could be a very enjoyable book to anyone familiar with his work.