Review: Rage by Jonathan Maberry

Title: Rage: A Joe Ledger International Novel

Author: Jonathan Maberry

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 464

Genre: Action/Thriller/Suspense

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Source: Goodreads Giveaway

The Department of Military Sciences is no more, but that doesn’t stop Joe Ledger and the former Echo Team from doing what they do best: protecting the world. When a massacre happens on an island in North Korea, Joe and Havoc team go to find their worst nightmares realized: everyone, women, children, men, the young, the old, have torn each other apart. They soon find the virus or pathogen on another island and witness the madness and rage that drive people to commit monstrous acts. Not only do they need to figure out what is causing the madness, but they have to prevent war from breaking out and discover who is behind this. It’s crunch time, but Joe and his team rise to the occasion.

I have been eagerly awaiting this book for months. I had no idea I’d won it in a giveaway until the book showed up. I was incredibly excited. I’ve followed the Joe Ledger series for about ten years and even named my cat, Cobbler, after Joe’s cat. When I found out Jonathan Maberry was going to continue the series indefinitely, I was very happy. Each book has been new and exciting without the drop in quality that sometimes happens.

This book was no exception. The plot was tightly woven with a lot of intrigue. I do have to admit, I was a little distressed because there was a lot of violence against women and children. It wasn’t graphically shown on screen, but the bad guys cheerfully talked about what they were going to do to the wives, daughters, and husbands of the people they were coercing.

I continue to love Joe Ledger himself. He’s a deeply fucked up man with a lot of demons, but he’s resilient and authentic. I love that he’s always very aware of what he’s feeling, whether it’s angry or deeply afraid of something. You don’t get a lot of macho bullshit from him. He’s a very vulnerable character who wears his battered and sarcastic heart on his sleeve.

I spent a lot of time being afraid one of my favorite characters was the master villain of the piece. At first, I was super excited when he showed up and was amazing, and then I realized that his scene didn’ t really prove he wasn’t the master villlian, so I’m back to being scared. My only consolation is the speech pattern is totally different from the way he speaks, so it probably isn’t him. Probably.

This book was quite an emotional ride and it didn’t let up. The ending was amazing. Devastating, but amazing. I wish I could pick up the next book right away, but this one isn’t even out yet! I am so thrilled about this series; it’s going to be a roller coaster.

Hooha! (Which, in team Havoc speak, is a resounding yes!)

October Wrap-Up

I absolutely cannot believe it’s October all ready! It seems like this year is going by so quickly. Well, not October so much. It was definitely the 500 days of October for me, with the majority of those days crammed into the last two weeks, making them extra long. I did okay with reading. I read 6 books, which is fair for me. I’d like to read more, but I’ve got so much going on that I can’t seem to get above six or seven each month. But that’s okay; at least I’m reading and enjoying what I read, right?

In October I read 6 books:

1 audio

2 e-books

3 physical books.

I read 1693 pages,

listened to 10 hours 13 minutes.

Genres: 2 memoirs, 3 self-help, 1 fiction

4 books borrowed from the library and 2 purchased.

And, I’m just realizing that I also reread Girl, Wash Your Face, which means I read 7 books.

How was your month? I hope November is a great reading month for you!

Snippet Saturday

Hey everyone, I’m back! My shoulder is still a little sore, but it’s out of the sling and doing much better. Even though I’ve got a million and a half things to do plus NaNoWriMo, I should be back to my usual posting schedule. Yay!

I’m here today to bring you another bit of my novel, Dark Goddess.

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4, Part 5

For hours or seconds, she ran.  Her feet led her away, away from the freeway.  Away from Garrison.  Away from death.

She didn’t know what she ran towards.  Home.  Safety.  The police, if she were lucky enough to stumble across a station.  She was lost in a city she didn’t know.  Away was all she had.

So, she ran.  Ran as her lungs burned.  Ran as her legs ached, then screamed, then turned to jelly.  Ran until sweat obscured her vision and she couldn’t catch her breath and her legs refused to move.

Then, she fell.

She pushed herself up to all fours.  Stayed there, panting for air.  A breeze wafted over her, making her shiver.  Sweat ran down her face, under her shirt, between her breasts.  It plastered her hair to her neck and face.  Irritated, she sat back on her feet and pulled her hair into a ponytail, trying to get some air against her skin.

“Hey.  You okay?”

She jumped to her feet, ready to run.

A man stood a few feet away from her.  He had a cigarette in hand and was leaning against the outside of a bar.  When she looked at him, his eyes went wide.

“What happened to you?” He dropped the cigarette and came to her, reaching out a hand

She flinched away.  “I was kidnapped.  He tied me up.  I… I jumped out of his car.  I’m hurt, I… I need the police.  Please.”  Tears spilled out of her eyes.

“Yeah, of course.”  He reached for her again but put his hands up at his chest when she flinched again.  “Sorry.  Come on in.  You’ll be safe here.  We’ll call the police.”  He moved backwards to the building and opened the door.  “I’m Adam.  I own the bar.  What’s your name?”

“Kali.”  Her teeth chattered as she began to shiver.  “Kali Johnson.”

“Come in, Kali.  I promise, you’ll be fine.”

She nodded and followed him inside.  She was too young and too young-looking to have any experience with bars, but this one seemed decent.  It was dimly lit, but clean.  There were two rooms she could see, the main one she was in and one in the back with a pool table, juke box, and a dart board.  The main room had what looked to be a dance floor off to one side, some scattered tables, and a long wooden bar with stools.

It wasn’t crowded.  There were maybe about twenty people inside milling about.  A man stood directly across from the front door, leaning against the partition that separated the two rooms.  He was blond and very pale.  His eyes were half closed, but even from across the room, Kali could see the glint of blue underneath long golden lashes.She stopped moving and looked at him.  She knew him.  Somehow, she’d seen him before.  Not just seen him.  She knew him.

He opened his eyes.  Shock washed over his face when he saw her.

“Hey, Joe, call the cops!” Adam said.  “This girl needs help.”  He touched Kali’s arm with the back of his hand.  “My office is upstairs.  This way.”

She tore her gaze from the blond man and followed Adam.  She could still feel his eyes on her.

“Oh, fuck,” she swore as she took the first two stairs.  In the short time since she’d stopped running, her muscles had turned to stone.  It hurt to even breathe.

“You okay?”  He took her by the elbow.

“Fine.  Just sore,” she gritted out, teeth clenched.  She took another step; it was somewhat easier than the last.

It took forever, but they finally made it to the top of the stairs.  Adam opened the door to the office and led her inside. 

“Is there a bathroom?” she asked.  Her stomach twisted, head pounded.

“Yeah.  Right through that door.”

Kali rushed to it.  She barely made it before she threw up.  Her head exploded into hot-white pain.  Tears flooded her eyes.

She heaved again.  One of her hands held her hair in a bunch from her face, the other gripped the side of the toilet.  She felt like she was going to die.

“You okay?”  She heard tentative steps on the tiled floor.  Then, the man’s thumbs brushed against her neck as he held her hair back for her, managing to get every curl in the bunch.

Kali sat back on her heels.  She squeezed her eyes shut until she’d flushed the toilet.  “Yeah,” she said after a moment.  She wiped her hand over her sweat-slicked face.  “Everything hurts.”

“It looks like everything hurts.”  He helped her stand.  “He really did a number on you.”

“Yeah well, I didn’t go with him easily.”  She rubbed her eyes.  “Can I be alone?”

“Sure.  I’ll wait for the cops downstairs.  And maybe see if there’s anything to help settle your stomach.”

“Thank you.  I really appreciate it.”

“It’s no problem.”  He turned and left, closing the door behind him.

Her hands trembled as she turned on the faucet and stuck her hands under the water.  She washed her hands and face, turning the water red with her blood.  Her arms were scraped from where she fell, pieces of dirt and asphalt ground in.  Her legs were the same, the right knee of her pants torn open exposing the skin beneath.       

She looked around for a medicine cabinet and finally found some bandages and alcohol under the sink.  She cleaned off the scrapes on her arms before bandaging the worst.  Then, she sat on the closed toilet, toed off her shoes and pulled off her pants.  Her legs were a mess.  Her ankle and knee had sickly, purple-green bruises around them.  Angry red scrapes hid behind ground-in dirt and pieces of glass.

She gritted her teeth and began working on cleaning them.

Someone knocked on the bathroom door.

She swallowed back a startled scream.  “Hang on!” She pulled her pants back on.  They felt stiff and dirty and rubbed against her injuries uncomfortably.

There was another knock.  Harder this time.

“I’m coming.  Give me a second.”  She limped to the sink and rinsed out her mouth.  When she opened the door, she expected to see the police or Adam on the other side.

It was the blond man from downstairs.

“Um, hi,” she said warily.

His eyes lit up.  He looked over her slowly, delight on his face.  “It is you,” he whispered.  “I thought… I knew it had to be.  I felt you when you walked in, all over.  I just… I came back to life, like it used to be.  And I saw you, and… I knew you looked exactly the same. I’ve seen you, pictures at least, but, my God.  It’s a miracle.

She stepped back and tightened her grip on the door.  “Who are you?”

“I am Gabriel, my lady.”  He bowed.  When he lifted his head again, the force of his gaze made her heart stutter.

Gabriel.  She’d gone to school with a kid named Gabriel when she was seven.  But he’d been from Mexico.  And there’d been a Gabe in one of the group homes, but he’d had bright red hair and a face full of freckles.

“You’re the senator’s slave,” whispered a memory.  “Gabriel.”

She shook her head.  “Do you work here?”

“No.  I don’t.”

“Then you should probably be downstairs.  This is a private office.”  She licked her lips nervously.  “Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I want to be alone.  You need to leave.”

He looked over her, a crease wrinkling the skin between his eyes.  “I can’t leave you, Kali.  You’ll be safe with me.   But we need to go.”

Goosebumps broke out over her skin.  “I’m not going anywhere with you.  Go away.”  She stepped back and tried to slam the door.

He caught it.  Wood splintered under his grip.  “Humans can’t protect you, my lady,” he said urgently.  “Garrison won’t stop until you’re dead.”

“Garrison?  You know Garrison?  How?”

Gabriel seemed at a loss for words.  “He was… He was my teacher, my lady.  Father Pike.  Don’t you… Do you remember me?”

The senator’s slave.  Gabriel.  Gabriel.  My Gabriel.

“I just met you!” she cried.  When he wouldn’t let go of the door, she kicked him.

Her toes cracked against the hard bone of his shin.  Kali gasped and swore under her breath.

He dropped to his knees in front of her.  “I mean you no harm, Lady Kali, I swear.”  He looked up at her through his lashes and tentatively took her hands in his.  “I could never hurt you.  You are my creator.”  He rested his forehead against the back of her hands.

Her stomach dropped.  He had to be working with Garrison.  They had to be playing with her, screwing with her head.

She pulled her hands away.  “I’ve never created anyone in my life.  So just… just go downstairs and leave before the police come.  Got it?”

He stayed where he was but lifted his head.  With that simple movement, her perception suddenly changed.  For a brief instant, Gabriel’s image was replaced by another.  No.  No, it was still him, only… different.  Different clothes, different expressions, different… just different.

“I,” she found herself saying.  “Maybe I… You are familiar.”

“You knew me once.  Before Garrison killed you.  The first time, I mean.”  He stood, keeping one of her hands in his.  “If we stay, he’ll kill you again.”

“Because he thinks I’m a vampire.”

“Because he knows you used to be a vampire.”

She shook her head.  “How do you know this?”

“I know you, Kali.  I’ve known you since I was fifteen-years-old, a slave to a powerful Roman senator.  You rescued me from him and took me in.  When I grew ill, you cared for me.  When I was dying, you made me yours forever.”

She put her hand to her head.  “This is insane,” she said.  “I couldn’t have… You can’t mean…”

“I’m a vampire.”

Review: Girl, Stop Apologizing

Title: Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals

Author: Rachel Hollis

Publisher: HarperCollins Leadership

Length: 240 pages

Genre: self-help

Rachel Hollis has built her platform on the idea that women are powerful and should embrace their dreams. In a companion to Girl, Wash Your Face, Hollis explores excuses women need to stop using, behaviors to adopt, and skills to acquire. Peppering her advice with personal anecdotes, Hollis explores the idea that you should go after your dreams with a solid plan and without shame.

I really liked this book, as should be evidenced by the fact that I read it twice in about two months. The first time, I listened to it on audio. Hollis narrates with gusto and enthusiasm that makes it really fun to listen to. It’s easy to get caught up with her outlook and her belief that if you work hard enough, you too can achieve your goal, whatever that goal is. My hard copy is highlighted all over the place and I may even go back and take notes so I can refer to them in the future.

Things I like about the book:

  1. Hollis’s positive outlook.
  2. Her advice on the excuses, behaviors, and skills.
  3. Her 10-10-1 guide to narrowing down your future dream life to 10 dreams to 1 goal to work for.
  4. Her disdain for the term “girl-boss” (a term that, I too, am not fond of).
  5. Her personal stories.

Things I didn’t like:

Not much. I mean, I felt like her story about her boob job was just in there because she wanted to tell a funny story about getting a boob job, but it’s her book. She can do that if she wants. And it was funny. Her story about Amsterdam stressed me out because I’m a planner, but I didn’t dislike it. Yeah, there wasn’t really anything about the book I wouldn’t like.

I would definitely recommend this book. If you are looking for a fun, lighthearted, but serious self-help book that will help you organize your dreams into goals, this is a great book for you!

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Each week, participants are invited to answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:

I think I’m overextending myself a bit this week. I’m reading Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, which I love, Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin, which is interesting, Rage by Jonathan Maberry, which is super intense,and I’m listening to 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do by Amy Morin, which is good. I’m enjoying everything I’m reading, I’m just reading a lot.

Recently Finished

Even though I listened to Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis a month or so ago, I bought the book and reread it in my spare time (I’m not even being sarcastic; I read during recess). I quite enjoyed the reread and got a lot out it.

Reading next: I have no idea what I’m reading next. Either something off the huge pile of books in my room, or I’ll get something I don’t need from the library. I can’t focus enough to decide.

What are you reading this week?

Top 5 Audiobooks

It’s Top 5 Tuesday time! Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Bionic Bookworm. This week’s topic is top 5 audiobooks.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows is a funny book on its own. Add in the narrator, Katherine Kellgren, and it’s laugh out loud, roll on the floor hilarious. This book was so much fun to listen to. I couldn’t stop listening to it. Every character, every part, every nuance was so well done. Kellgren has such a sly style. You could hear the wink and the nudge at the shenanigans, but she never went overboard and made it a parody. It was just perfect, and I loved every moment of this book.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston was the first audiobook I listened to. I didn’t know what to expect going in and was unsure if it was the medium for me, but this book quickly won me over. It has duel narrators, and both Elle and Dairen’s voices were really well done. While not as hilarious as My Lady Jane, this book was solid and entertaining.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis is a non-fiction book. Part memoir, part self-help, Hollis herself reads it. She does it with an upbeat enthusiasm that really got my charged. I listened to the last bit after going through a terrible moment at work, and it absolutely washed that terribleness away in a fit of rah-rah-rah. I think she’s an interesting writing and an excellent narrator and found the book engaging.

I read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett about ten years ago and really enjoyed it. I loved both Aziraphale and Crowley, probably a little too much, but that’s fine. I liked the idea of the Antichrist being misplaced and all the hullabullo that went along with it. I thought the narrator of this did an excellent job. There were a few things I didn’t like–Adam being the main one–but, overall, I thought he was great.

I went back and forth on whether to include Star Trek: Q-in-Law by Peter David on the list, but ultimately decided I had to. The problem with it is, despite the fact it says it’s unabridged, it’s totally abridged. An entire subplot is dropped! I only know that because I’ve read the book 53 million times. However, it’s narrated by John Delancie, who played Q, and Majel Barret, who played Lwaxana Troi, and it’s just so well done. They are perfect together, and it’s a real shame that the characters never interacted on the show. I would have loved for this book to be adapted into the show; it would have been comedy gold. At last I have the audiobook. And, really, who needs a Wesley subplot?

What are some of your favorite audiobooks?