Ty Johnston: life on the written page

Home to fantasy, horror and literary fiction author Ty Johnston

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 15 -- The Gate House

by Nelson Demille

Started: April 3
Finished: April 15

Notes: I came about this novel by accident, and almost by tragedy. I was visiting a friend a while back when we dropped in at his parents' house. Sitting in the garbage can in the kitchen was the hardback version of this book. Which is why I call it "almost a tragedy." Never throw away a book. Never! Sell it or give it away, but don't throw it away. So I rescued the book and took it home. I have never read this author and know next to nothing about him, other than I believe he is known for thrillers, but I always enjoy experience an author for the first time. Let's see how good this guy is.

Mini review: A pretty decent novel. Not great, but entertaining enough, especially as the protagonist is pretty funny in a sarcastic fashion. I won't go into too many details so as not to spoil anything, but this one involves an attorney and his ex-wife and their children and an unfortunate past they shared with a late mafia boss, but now it's ten years later and the mob chief's son is grown and comes looking for payback. I can't say I'll go out and buy any DeMille novels any time soon, but I can say this: Of all the modern thrillers writers I've read in the last few years, this is the only one who didn't send me away feeling as if I'd been insulted as a reader, as if I'd been written down to. DeMille is a pretty good writer, though I only base this upon this one novel, yet he's no Mario Puzo or Ed McBain, both of whom are tops in my book.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 14 -- Crawlspace

by Evans Light

Started: April 2
Finished: April 2

Notes: This is another writer and book recommended to me by author Edward Lorn, and since I trust Lorn's opinion on such matters, I decided to check this one out.

Mini review: This is a pretty darn good horror tale. The title tells you everything you need to know to get started. Yes, it's that kind of horror story. The protagonist isn't all that likable, but he's far from the worst sort of person, and his fate ... hmm, it probably outweighs the sins he has committed ... but he's realistic enough that you feel for him in the end. I do wish this story had pushed the boundaries of horror a bit more, but then I tend toward being a sick bastard, one who doesn't enjoy gore for gore's sake but often gets a good chuckle at the level of insanity of violence in some horror tales. This one is dark, but it's not overly gruesome, so those who enjoy Laymon, King, Koontz, Lorn, and the like, should enjoy this tale. I give it a solid four out of five stars.

Books read in 2014: No. 13 -- So Long As You Both Shall Live

by Ed McBain

Started: April 1
Finished: April 2

Notes: I just finished an 87th Precinct novel and I didn't come away completely satisfied, so I thought I'd give another one a go. This is an older one, usually my favorites, from 1976. This novel centers around the wedding night of Detective Bert Kling and his bride, who goes missing.

Mini review: Now that's what I'm talking about! From beginning to end of this short novel, the action never lets up. Right in chapter one, things move along well, then continue through to the last page. And when I say "action," I don't mean there were constant fist fights and gun shootings and the like, but that the text flows so swiftly one can hardly keep up with it. This is the type of novel that makes me love McBain and the 87th Precinct all over again. It has to top my list of favorites.

Cover reveal: The Company of Seven

At right you will find the cover for my upcoming novel The Company of Seven, the latest in my Ursian Chronicles and another adventure of Kron Darkbow.

This cover might change, but for the most part I believe it is finished. I'm not crazy about some of the coloring, but I've tried all kinds of different shades and so far this is the one I like best. So, tinkering is still possible, especially as the novel is currently with an editor and it might be some while before I get it back.

For those of you who are familiar with some of my earlier Ursian novel featuring Kron Darkbow, this cover has a hint at a returning villain, one you might not expect to be returning (no, they didn't come back from the dead ... that would be cheesy ... let's just say the last time this villain was seen, they were seemingly out of the picture permanently, but without being dead ... if that makes sense).

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 12 -- Mischief

by Ed McBain

Started: March 18
Finished: April 1

Notes: Right now I'm pretty deep into some dense historical non-fiction, and I needed a little break. So, as I often do, I turned to Ed McBain and his 87th Precinct novels, of which I've read more than a few and thank God there are still plenty more for me to read. This time the infamous master villain the Deaf Man makes one of his handful of appearances within the series.

Mini review: This wasn't the best of 87th Precinct novels, but perhaps I was distracted since I was reading much of it while also reading another book. Another thing, this was one of the most complex of all the 87th novels I've read with 5 or 6 plot lines all running around one another with some of them finally mergingi nto 3 major plots with lots and lots of characters, even moreso than usual, which is a lot of characters. Here you've got the Deaf Man up to a heist, a madman on the streets shooting graffiti artists, an outdoor concert causing headaches for a rap group, somebody mysteriously going to public places and dropping off old people without any identification, and ... and ... actually, I could go on. There's an awful lot happening in this novel, and all at less than 300 pages, which could be why this one isn't a favorite ... because you never get to spend much time with any of the characters, and that hurts, especially when dealing with serial characters who are old friends. But still, it's not the worst novel I've ever read, and I was glad to drop in on the 87th once more.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 11 -- The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government

by Jefferson Davis

Started: March 9
Finished: March 29

Notes: I find myself in the mood to read some history, so I turn to this e-book. I've had this one a while but been putting it off because it is quite long, and also because I have to be in the right frame of mind to read something so obviously one sided. Currently I'm in that frame of mind, in no small part because I believe the times and situations discussed in this book are quite relevant to today's America. Also, having grown up in a border state and spending no small part of my life in the South, I've been surrounded by this history, though I've never considered myself an expert on it. I've always been drawn more to the period after the Civil War than to that of the war itself, but the two are intertwined, and here I hope to educate myself further.

Mini review: The subtitle on this one should be, "Why Everyone Else Was Wrong, Including My Allies, and I Was Right." The actual title is a little misleading, though not completely so. You will indeed read about the rise and fall of the Confederate Government here, but you won't get the whole picture, only parts of it, the parts Davis decided to focus upon, which leaves out years and even the end of the war. Roughly the first fourth of this book pertains to arguments justifying secession based upon the writings of the Founding Fathers, and while I can admit the evidence is fairly strong (not just here, but in other readings of mine), Davis shoves aside any talk on the ethics of slavery in a matter of one sentence. That's it. One sentence. There is no discussion to be found here concerning why the South or Davis believed slavery to be ethical; one is simply expected to understand and agree with the notion of slavery. That, to my way of thinking, is not only a sign of obstinance, but a sign of a lack of an ability to even try to understand one's enemies, whether strictly political or across a battlefield. The middle section of this book is closest to the subject matter of the actual title, focusing upon the creation of the Confederacy, but even here there are few exacting details, mostly Davis' opinions or a handful of recollections, though later in the book he does get into government revenue and some logistics. Roughly the last half of this book are letters and appendixes, many written by Davis himself but just as many written by comrades or friends. Here is where Davis comes darn close to sounding whiny, because most of the material here is basically to refute any and all of his critics over the years. Any serious student of Civil War era history will want to read this, but the casual armchair historian can probably skip it. One thing I found interesting was how much Davis sounds like a lot of today's politicians. Also, this book can give a good notion of the philosophies behind Southern politicians of the time, but not so much the common person.

Review of "Mage Hunter Omnibus"

David Reickmann over at the Indie Authors and Books site has left a solid review of my collection, Mage Hunter Omnibus. If you've been wondering if this book or e-book might be for you, or even if you haven't but are looking for some action-driven fantasy to read, please allow this review to guide your purchasing decision. You might like what David has to say about my book, or if not, at least you'll know this one isn't for you.

Happy reading!