52Books: The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry

Last year saw the debut of Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series with the outstanding techno-thriller Patient Zero. This was one of my favorite books of 2009 as Maberry introduced readers to a mash-up of fast action thriller, hard science hooks and global terrorism all culminating in Joe Ledger kicking some serious zombie terrorist butt.

The Dragon Factory throws Joe Ledger and Department of Military Sciences (DMS) back into fray again, and this time the trouble isn’t only external. In a coerced move the Vice President, President Pro Tem, sends the NSA after DMS to lock them down and gain access to their super computer MindReader.

This is externally motivated by a pair celebrity geneticist, the nearly perfect Jakoby Twins. Their goal is to mine genetic research from competing companies and labs to fill in gaps in their own research, developing designer creatures.

The attack on Joe Ledger and DMS and the attempted acquisition of information by the Jakoby Twins become confluent to the larger plot dealing with Cyrus Jakoby, father of the famed Jakoby Twins, who in bent on continuing the work of the Nazi scientist Josef Mengele and the purification of the human race.

Cloning, genetic manipulation, genocide, para-military hit squads and all the Joe Ledger you can handle culminate in the final confrontation at the Jakoby Twin’s The Dragon Factory.

The Dragon Factory is a solid follow up to Patient Zero, with great adrenaline pumped action and a reminder that Science is scary but no match for Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Science.

Fans of the book may have something to be excited about. ABC has put a fast track development on Department Zero based on Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series. Read more about it over at Deadline.

Learn more about Jonathan Maberry and his work over at his Big, Scary Blog.

For the jumbled masses keeping track. I read The Dragon Factory the week of March 8, 2010 and started writing this review (at least a version of it) March 15, 2010.  As an aside, not taking away from the well written book, I wasn’t happy at the end. With a certain event.

52Books: Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski

Mickey Wade is an out of work journalist, formerly of the alt-weekly Philadelphia City Press, who is forced by economic times to move into his grandfather’s, who he wants little to do with, apartment in Frankfort, his old childhood neighborhood and now a seedier and dilapidated part of town. Mickey, named after Jagger, not the Mouse, literally only has dollars to his name and no prospects of work. The only bright spot in his life is Meghan, whom he likes but thinks only hangs around him because he’s a charity case.

It can’t get any worse? Right?

If you’ve ever read anything by Philly crime writer Duane Swierczynski, bad isn’t bad enough, there’s always room for worse. And fortunately for the reader Mickey hasn’t hit the bottom yet.

Expiration Date, Swierczynski’s latest, is in my opinion the writer’s best work in a limited bibliography. Unlike his prior books, Expiration Date focuses less on the gritty front story of crime and hard knocks, and slips the reader into an intriguing story where down and out Mickey Wade has a chance to change the worst event in his life. The murder of his father.

The catalyst for Expiration Date is a bottle of old, seemingly safe, Tylenol that Mickey finds in a locked bathroom cabinet. Locked for good reason. When he takes a handful he is transported back to the year he’s born. There are caveats, dangers, and Mickey must figure them out or he could die in the present. Through the discovery we learn more about Mickey and the perils of playing with time. Can Mickey change the one life altering event of his life and come out alive in the end?

Expiration Date, like Swierczynski’s previous books, is a thrill ride, racing all the way to the end. Yet somehow it slows down just enough to enjoy the little things.

Since I’m 20 books into my 52 Books and only 10 or so books behind on reading, this review and future one’s aren’t going to fall in order. I read Expiration Date in the second week of April, my 15th book of the year.

To learn more about Duane Swierczynski, check out his Secret Dead Blog. I hear he write some mean comics too.

The Bagman – Flash Fiction

Sorry for missing Monday. Unfortunate events over the last few days kept me away from the keyboard.

This week’s Flash Fiction Monday was spurned on by NEEDLE magazine’s flash fiction contest. Requirements were to include a needle, of any kind, in the story and keep it under 1k.

A random winner will be selected and win a cool NEEDLE t-shirt. And entries would be open for consideration for publication in the magazine itself.

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52Books: Needle: A Magazine Of Noir – Spring Edition 2010

I’ve got a backlog of reviews, I know. I’m current on top my weekly reading but that sure hasn’t translated over to reviews. Though I’ve got other books in the queue to review I thought I’d start back with a review of what I had read this last week, Needle: A Magazine of Noir edited by Steven Weddle.

Whoa there! I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’m cheating because this is a magazine? In name, technically it is. But it reads and feels like an anthology. An anthology of the best short crime fiction I’ve read. Granted there aren’t a lot of venues dedicated to crime, especially the gritty kind. At least not ones that show case the stories alone. Most are set along side more magazine like elements such as reviews, articles and inteviews. Needle is unencumbered by such. No ads either.

See why I’m treating it like a book? You know the duck analogy, right? Well, there you go.

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Did you miss Cinco de Junius?

For those who missed it, yesterday was Cinco de Junius. The day where all of Seth Harwood‘s family, friends and fans could become the few and the proud to pre-order a limited edition hardbound, cloth covered, signed and numbered edition of Young Junius from crime publisher Tyrus Books. The story that takes us back to the beginning for a young Junius Ponds in 1980s Boston, the Projects. It’s a hard fast hitting story that makes no apologies. If you’ve read Seth’s freshman release Jack Wakes Up, you’re going to want this.

Use the special code to get $3.00 off: DAMAGE or ZOMBIE

Buy It! – http://www.sethharwood.com/junius

Flash Fiction Mondays

I tweeted last week asking what people would think of a Flash Fiction Friday section to my site. Not much reaction. Hey I get it, I’m just a regular Joe who likes to sometimes write. And I’ve got a following of about 3 people. That’s including myself. :/

I do like to write, and someday I hope to make it pay. But nobody’s going to pay if they’ve never heard or read me. So while I write, submitting to various venues for short and long fiction, I’m going to give people a chance to read me for FREE.

OK, not exactly FREE. I do want something from you. I want comments. And if you feel capable or inclined criticism. It’s inspires me and good criticism I hope will improve me. So can you do that for me? A little tit for tat?

To make it easy for you, I’ve set up a special page to link to all the available stories: http://www.ronearl.com/flash-fiction/

Since the first two stories posted on Mondays, I’m going to continue that most every Monday.

Hope to see you Mondays. Till then, Good Reading!

On the Sly – Flash Fiction

I guess Mondays are the day of the week when story contests and challenges are due. Now if I could just discover when they are set, and maybe I could honestly enter.

Again from Steve Weddle I found out about a flash fiction challenge being held by Patti Abbott called Sweet Dreams. 1000 word max and must include a red head in a blue dress. The idea came quick enough, putting it to paper took a little longer.

Continue reading “On the Sly – Flash Fiction”