Welcome to My Monday Minis Reviews where I share short reviews of books I’ve read. For today I’ll be sharing my reviews of three books from my TBR shelves.
by Tim Johnston
It was supposed to be a fun family vacation. The last one before Caitlin went off to college. Her parents are also hoping it will give them time to reflect and maybe repair their failing marriage.
When Cailtlin’s younger brother, Sean, is hurt while he and Caitlin are on an early morning run in the hills, a stranger stops his vehicle and offers to take Caitlin to get help. Torn between knowing better and doubting herself, Caitlin makes a choice that echoes through the family, setting them all on different paths.
I’ve often wondered why people do what they do. Caitlin knew better than to go with a stranger. But think about it. What would you do? Your little brother is seriously injured. You need to get help for him fast. There’s someone offering to take you. She could have been thinking, it won’t happen to me. Everything will be fine. Or, what else can I do? So many things must have gone through her mind in a flash. Then, to know she made the wrong choice.
This is much more than just a story about an abduction. It’s a families journey. The brother is overcome by guilt. If he hadn’t got hurt, Caitlin would be okay. The parents are torn over letting the kids go off by themselves. Didn’t they stress to the kids enough about the dangers out there.
As time passed and doubt and guilt wormed their way through this fractured family, they all changed. They all coped with it differently. And the author takes you inside their heads and hearts. Helps you see the hows and whys of each characters actions.
Powerful, disturbing, suspenseful, emotional. All are just words to help describe this story. You need to read it and experience what these characters go through. I was asking myself questions long after I finished this book.
The Rocky Mountains have cast their spell over the Courtlands, a young family from the plains taking a last summer vacation before their daughter begins college. For eighteen-year-old Caitlin, the mountains loom as the ultimate test of her runner’s heart, while her parents hope that so much beauty, so much grandeur, will somehow repair a damaged marriage. But when Caitlin and her younger brother, Sean, go out for an early morning run and only Sean returns, the mountains become as terrifying as they are majestic, as suddenly this family find themselves living the kind of nightmare they’ve only read about in headlines or seen on TV.
As their world comes undone, the Courtlands are drawn into a vortex of dread and recrimination. Why weren’t they more careful? What has happened to their daughter? Is she alive? Will they ever know? Caitlin’s disappearance, all the more devastating for its mystery, is the beginning of the family’s harrowing journey down increasingly divergent and solitary paths until all that continues to bind them together are the questions they can never bring themselves to ask: At what point does a family stop searching? At what point will a girl stop fighting for her life?
Written with a precision that captures every emotion, every moment of fear, as each member of the family searches for answers, Descent is a perfectly crafted thriller that races like an avalanche toward its heart-pounding conclusion, and heralds the arrival of a master storyteller.
Forest Of Memory
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
In an unspecified future where everyone is connected, Katya, a dealer in Authenticities, items from the past, falls off the grid. This is her account, typos included, of what happened during the three days she was off the grid. Believe it or not, she swears its true, even though she has no proof, technical or physical.
Such a riveting tale. The synopsis tells you a lot, but actually reading the story from Katya’s point of view was fun. She rambled a bit and apologized for her typos. Once I could shut off my editing filter, I found it quite fun.
A mysterious hunter, alias – Johnny, kidnapped Katya and revealed to her what his involvement was with the missing deer in the forest, and at this point the story took me down the proverbial rabbit hole.
Science fiction and futuristic technology along with intriguing characters captured my imagination. But I had some difficulty navigating the ending. It felt somewhat abrupt and I reread it, trying to squeeze more of a conclusion out of it. If the author chose to, she could make this part of a larger book and I’d gladly reenter this world.
Katya deals in Authenticities and Captures, trading on nostalgia for a past long gone. Her clients are rich and they demand items and experiences with only the finest verifiable provenance. Other people’s lives have value, after all.
But when her A.I. suddenly stops whispering in her ear she finds herself cut off from the grid and loses communication with the rest of the world.
The man who stepped out of the trees while hunting deer cut her off from the cloud, took her A.I. and made her his unwilling guest.
There are no Authenticities or Captures to prove Katya’s story of what happened in the forest. You’ll just have to believe her…
West Of Dead
A Nathaniel Caine Adventure #1
by Eric Bahle
I love a good zombie story. Throw in the unique challenge of dealing with them in a western setting, with less technology and none of the fancy weapons of modern day, and my curiosity gets tweaked.
Early into the story, I knew I wanted to know more about Nathaniel Caine. He wasn’t that surprised about the idea of flesh eating zombies, so I wondered what else he might have bumped up against in his past.
It’s an odd group of passengers sharing the stage coach. Most don’t detect anything wrong when they pull up to the deserted way station. A few know right away somethings wrong. It doesn’t take long for the zombies to attack and its a humdinger to get out of there alive.
I was imagining how bad it is when zombies attack you in your car. Think how much worse to be in a windowless stagecoach pulled by horses. Zombies like horse flesh too. I remember how bad it went for Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead show when he was riding a horse through town.
The only place even close to them might not be safe either. The zombies had to come from somewhere. And one passenger seems to know a whole lot more than he should about the phenomenon.
This was a fun one. There were some interesting characters, a new twist on zombies, and a super villain. There has to be a villain in an apocalypse, right? This guy was a real scum bag. Made it interesting to see whether he made it out alive or eaten, or maybe turned into one of the undead.
There’s a second book available with Nathaniel as the main character and I plan to see what he encounters next.
Solid writing made this an easy read and even though it was a short story, it felt big.
Fans of Joe R. Lansdale, Robert Davis, and Adam Millard will love this fast paced tale of the Weird West.
What good is a six-shooter against a horde of the undead?
Nathaniel Caine wants to forget the War and see the frontier, and a trip by stagecoach seems like the perfect way. When the stage pulls into a deserted way station with obvious signs of violence, but a disturbing lack of bodies, he suspects things are going bad. Things go from bad to worse when the passengers fall under attack by people that should be dead, and Caine must call on old skills just to survive. He’ll also need the help of a fellow passenger who knows more than he’s telling if the restless dead are to be put back in the ground.