Greetings! This week, I have four books to review, a book of short stories by Angus Woodward titled Down at the End of the River, a Non-Fiction release coming out this week by James C. Sanford titled Blueprint for Theocracy, an excellent work of fiction from Preston Fleming Forty Days at Kamas, which is volume 1 of a trilogy. I must say that Fleming is becoming one of my favorite authors, and after you read this futuristic, dystopian novel, you will be impressed as well. Finally, my favorite of the week is a Graphic Novel. Now don’t go calling it a comic, because Manifest Destiny vol. 1: Flora and Fauna (Image Comics) is a retelling of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804, and it is historically correct. Well, except for the buffalo-headed minotaur. So read up, and when you can read no more, scroll down and hear what I have been listening to this week in the Thugbrarian Set-list. New albums from Woven Hand, Triptykon and The Kill Circuit await you. And to make everyone especially uncomfortable, I am adding the new release from Isolated Cockpit…my musical project. I am shameless, I know. Follow us on twitter@ https://twitter.com/thugbrarian if you can, so you won’t miss a thing. As always, I thank you for reading my little blog thingy. Enjoy.
Down By the End of the River
by Angus Woodward
Margaret Media, Inc. (2008), Edition: First, Paperback, 139 Pages
Down at the End of the River, by Angus Woodward, is a collection of short stories that take place in various areas of Louisiana. Each story presented a different theme, through a different lens, with well thought out characters, and mundanely human experiences that are somehow made to seem out of the ordinary. This is usually accomplished by adding one subtle aspect which gives the story an added flare. While showing signs of Steinbeck’s Humanity, Woodward’s writing style is distinctly Southern, and conjures memories of the writings of William Faulkner, or Flannery O’Connor. Having lived in New Orleans for a decade, I was instantly drawn to the descriptions of familiar places in Louisiana. All in all, I absolutely enjoyed this collection, and I am anxious to read what comes next from this gifted writer.
out of 5
Blueprint For Theocracy
by James C. Sanford
Expected publication: May 15th 2014, Metacomet Books, Paperback, 288 pages
As a left of Center, secular-minded individual, who does not claim any religious denomination as my own, much that was written by Sanford resonates with me. I can also say that I have learned a good amount of knowledge about the Religious Right movement in the United States, particularly in regards to the careful and premeditated infiltration of our government through grass-roots avenues, ultimately ending within the Supreme Court system. Having said this, as a historian, and information professional who values an unbiased historical monograph, I believe that this book misses the mark. It is obvious that the author has strong feelings where the Conservative Christian mind-set is involved, and his unbridled opinions are clearly evident. To equate Fundamentalist Christian anti-abortion groups with Islamic Jihadists is irresponsible at best.
However, I found this to be an interesting, thought-provoking read; Mr. Sanford offers a historical timeline of events, and biographical information on the main characters of the Moral Majority, and the Religious Right. I give this book 3 stars simply for his writing style, which strays from the usual dry tone of a book of this nature, and for a good amount of historical data, although, the one-sided, biased nature of his presentation left me somewhat disappointed. I would recommend this book for those that are interested in the U.S. Government, American Religion, Political organizations, and Modern American History. There are some flaws here, but overall, this is an interesting and informative book.
out of 5
Forty Days at Kamas
by Preston Flemming
PF Publishing (2013), Edition: 1st, Kindle Edition, 365 Pages
Set in the not too distant future, Forty Days at Kamas envisions a United States with a president for Life ruling over an Authoritarian Government, where Unionists have control over the political landscape, and the intelligentsia are sent to squalid labor camps. Sounds a little familiar? This is the first of a trilogy, and if Forty Days at Kamas is any indication, the next two volumes are sure to be excellent reads.
The story bounces back and forth between a former executive who has been deemed a traitor to the “cause” and sent to a maximum security facility, and his daughter who escapes capture, and is searching for him across the country. The descriptions of violence and political intrigue are well written, and at times it felt as if I were in the midst of the action, which is always a good thing. The book is well written, and the characters are deeply developed ; the villains are most definitely despicable, while you will be rooting for the underdogs.
Forty Days at Kamas made me nervous, and even angry at times; with our current political atmosphere, I could see this happening in the here and now, which at times made the story feel realistic. The depiction of prison life was detail oriented-paying equal attention to the personalities of the prisoners, as well as the guards. Imagine a literary version of the Stanford Prison Experiment, where prisoners who are made orderlies become as violent as the guards towards their fellow inmates.
I highly recommend this book for lovers of dystopian fiction, thrillers and futuristic fantasy. I could not put it down, and was actually sad when it ended. Luckily, there is a volume 2 available now, titled Star Chamber Brotherhood, so the story-line continues. Look for a review of volume two of the trilogy in the next couple of weeks.
out of 5
Manifest Destiny Volume 1: Flora and Fauna
by Chris Dingess (writer) & Matthew Roberts (penciler/inker)
Image Comics & Diamond Distributors, Published may 27th, 2014, Edition: 1st, Paperback/Graphic Novel, 128 pages
Image Comics has put out a really cool graphic novel retelling the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804. In this re-imagined history treatment, President Thomas Jefferson has commissioned our famous explorers to not only survey, and catalog new wildlife within the newly acquired lands west of the Mississippi, but to also…wait for it…destroy all monsters that would impede the safe transit through the new territories. I am not much of a fan of mash-ups, like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, so I wasn’t sure I would cotton to this story-line. Of course, I loved it. First of all, the art is really beautiful, Matthew Roberts (Pencils/inks), Owen Gieni ( Colorist),and Pat Brosseau (letterer) have done a great job bringing this story to life. The Matthews/Gieni cover art was inviting, and is a good representation of what you will find inside: great illustration, vivid colors, and a lot of action. The art alone is worth the price of admission.
The writing of Chris Dingess folds in the historical records of the expedition with the added plot twist of monsters, and other unnatural life forms along the journey. One creature encountered was a stone-ax wielding Minotaur with the head of a buffalo! And rest assured, the creatures become more creative as the story progresses. There are plenty of side stories, most dealing with the soldiers accompanying the expedition, as well as ex-convicts and other unsavory characters brought along as human fodder for the beasts that the group must face. These men plot and generally wreak havoc throughout the tale, as they try to find a way to escape the madness, without being caught and hung for desertion.
As far as Graphic Novels go, this is an excellent multi-volume project, and I am looking forward to following along with the remaining volumes to come. Highly recommended for readers of history, action/adventure, comic books and graphic novels. Volume 1 will be published to the masses on May 27th.
out of 5