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Evolution isn't working fast enough. More dumbasses need to be shot.

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Curses!

My review of Aaron Elkins story in the Gideon Oliver series, Curses!

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Mayan ruins in the Yucatán . . . a secret room in a tomb . . . age‑old skeletons. To anthropologist Gideon Oliver, the renowned Skeleton Detective, the invitation to join the archaeological excavation of Tlaloc promises two months of paradise on Earth.

That is, until an ancient series of Mayan curses against desecrators of the site is unearthed. When the first one comes to pass (“The bloodsucking kinkajou will come freely among them”), it is taken by all as a practical joke. But by the time the fourth one is apparently consummated (“The one called Xecotcavach will pierce their skulls so that their brains spill onto the earth”), nerves have begun to fray and suspicions and discord are mounting.

The steamy jungles weigh down on the band of eccentric anthropologists as one by one the curses continue to materialize. It takes Gideon’s special talents for deduction—along with the enigmatic insights of Mexico’s one and only Mayan Indian inspector of the state judicial police—to resolve an ancient riddle and a modern, murderous mystery.

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The Palace Guard

My review of Charlotte MacLeod’s The Palace Guard

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When a museum guard takes a tumble, Sarah and Max find a forgery

It has only been a few months since Sarah Kelling’s elderly husband passed away, and she is struggling to adapt to life as a penniless young widow. To make ends meet, she converts her stately Boston home into a boardinghouse, a decision that brings something even better than money: the company of art-fraud investigator Max Bittersohn. The budding couple is standing on a balcony, recovering from a second-rate concert at a third-rate museum, when something plummets past them. The museum has been robbed, and a guard has fallen to his death.

Dozens of priceless paintings have been stolen and replaced with forgeries, and to recover these masterworks will mean tearing the lid off the quiet life of the Boston upper crust. But it is a chance Sarah and Max must take, lest they join the guard on his long trip down.

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Champion Dog: Prince Tom

My review of Champion Dog: Prince Tom by Jean Fritz and Tom Clute

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This is the true story of a loveable, under-sized blonde cocker spaniel with big ideas. Prince Tom, who lives in Adrian, Michigan, with his owner, Tom Clute, spends his life surprising people, doing the impossible, and adding new titles to his name. Today he is one of the most famous dogs in the country with an official name so long that it takes two breaths to say it. (Try it.) Prince Tom III, Companion Dog, Companion Dog Excellent, Utility Dog, National Field Trial Companion.

(excerpted from the dust jacket of the Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club edition)

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The Family Vault

My review of Charlotte MacLeod’s The Family Vault

Family Vault, The - Charlotte MacLeod

A mislaid corpse strikes terror in the hearts of Boston’s strangest family.

Like many old New England families, the Kellings live to die. Although their family vault is spacious and comfortable, for Sarah Kelling’s Great-Uncle Frederick it will not do. In his will, he demands to be buried inside the ancient family tomb at Boston Common, which hasn’t admitted a new member in over a century. But when the Kellings crack the old vault’s door, they find a recently built brick wall. And behind it lays a surprisingly fresh corpse — a skeleton with rubies in its teeth. 

Her name was Ruby Redd, and many years ago she was the toast of Boston’s burlesque scene. Her murder case is ice cold, but when Sarah begins investigating it, she finds that the burning passions behind this beauty’s death still burn white hot. With the help of art-fraud investigator Max Bittersohn, she will solve the stripper’s murder, or take her own place in the family vault.

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Tales From the Uplands

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Uncanny things haunt the high country, where mountains bring justice and men tell mysterious tales. A place where churches seek the lost and deadly forces lurk below the peaks.

Contains eight short stories drawn from locations and legends of Central Europe, including the Drachenberg version of a famous folk-tale, and an excerpt from the next Cat Among Dragons novel.

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Horns Up: Inside the Greatest College Football Dynasty

Horns Up

College football hotbeds are scattered across the country, from Alabama, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Michigan. When you think of the greatest college football programs in the modern era, those schools come immediately to mind. But none of them did what North Dakota State did from 2011-15 and that is to win five straight national championships, in NDSU’s case at the Division I Football Championship Subdivision level (formerly known as Division I-AA). In fact, nobody at any level of college football has ever won five straight. The Bison did it with a unique toughness, including farm kids from the Midwest who were used to working 18-hour days before taking one step on the Fargo, N.D., campus. They did it with a work ethic and an unusual devotion and love to their hard-driving strength and conditioning coach. It didn’t come without some hard knocks. The Bison went 3-8 in 2009, one year after becoming fully eligible for Division I athletics after making the transition from Division II. They lost their head coach during the 2013 title run, a change that was met with resistance and tension within the coaching staff that filtered down to the players. From 2011-15, Alabama won 62 games, Florida State 58, Oregon 57 and Clemson and Ohio State 56 each. North Dakota State, with its collection of lightly-regarded players primarily from the states of North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, won 71. Since moving to Division I, NDSU went 8-3 against bigger FBS schools with wins against the likes of Minnesota (twice), Kansas State, Iowa State and Colorado State. They had some stars, like in 2011 when a quarterback from Bismarck Century with a few scholarship offers decided to stay in-state and attend NDSU. Four years later, Carson Wentz was the second overall pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Draft. The national media paid attention. ESPN’s “College GameDay” came to Fargo two straight years and the network developed a love affair with the city. “Horns Up” is a story of a football program that came out of nowhere. It’s a story nobody could have predicted.

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Yellow Eyes

My review of John Ringo and Tom Kratman’s novel Yellow Eyes

yellow eyes

Stand Against the Posleen Horde!

Earth invaded! The Posleen aggressors eating what population they don’t outright vaporize! Now the aliens are closing in on a vital choke point for the humans: the Panama Canal. No canal, no food. No food—the North American resistance crumbles, and hope fades. What’s worse, slimeball appeasers within the U.S. State Department (surprise!) are set to sell out the resistance to another race of would-be galactic overlords.

One problem for our enemies: when the chips are down for humans, heroes have a habit of arising: A captain of industry who whips a corrupt and inefficient Central American kleptocracy into fighting shape within weeks. A retired Panamanian woman warrior who returns to the field of battle to rally her people in a last stand to save their children. And a battleship that is literally brought to consciousness by the echoes of ancient naval tradition (and a sentient A.I.) to fight ferociously for her country — and the captain she’s come to love.

It’s a rip-roaring epic of tactics, heroism, and survival as only two masters of military SF (both of whom served in Panama during their stint in the Army) can tell it.

Multiple New York Times and USA Today best-seller John Ringo and Tom Kratman, collaborator with Ringo on the intriguing and controversial Watch on the Rhine, deliver another exciting entry in Ringo’s hugely popular Posleen War series.

 

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Bison Football: Three Decades of Excellence

Bison Football

Today the name North Dakota means football – thanks to the North Dakota State University Bison, the dominant team in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division II.

Bison Football: Three Decades of Excellence chronicles the NDSU Bison’s remarkable rise from the bottom of the standings to the upper echelon of Midwestern college football history.

Follow the Herd through 30 historic seasons! Sportswriter Ed Kolpack traces the Bison program from its rebirth in 1962 until today. Here’s every triumph – the magic of the veer offense, championship seasons and postseason bowl games, all-American honors and the dynamic support of the NDSU Team Maker Club.

Bison Football is a story of athletic talent and expert guidance, hard work and brilliant strategy. Kolpack invites players, coaches and fans to reflect on the glory days and occasional missteps in their own words. They reminisce about their days together and share lifetime memories with every Bison fan.

Together, their comments…plus Kolpack’s expert eye-witness reporting…paint a vivid portrait of the NDSU Bison tradition, from great expectations thirty years ago to its victories in the ’90’s.

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Darkship Thieves

My review of Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship Thieves

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Athena Hera Sinistra never wanted to go to space. Never wanted see the eerie glow of the Powerpods. Never wanted to visit Circum Terra. Never had any interest in finding out the truth about the DarkShips. You always get what you don’t ask for. Which must have been why she woke up in the dark of shipnight, within the greater night of space in her father’s space cruiser, knowing that there was a stranger in her room. In a short time, after taking out the stranger—who turned out to be one of her father’s bodyguards up to no good, she was hurtling away from the ship in a lifeboat to get help. But what she got instead would be the adventure of a lifetime—if she managed to survive. . . .


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