Book Reviews: Joe Ledger: Unstoppable, An Anthology

First, I should say, I have had the very great pleasure of meeting and talking with a few of the authors in this anthology in real live person.  Some of them are very dear friends.   I have also been reading the Joe Ledger series since the first book came out (and there’s a story behind how I got introduced to the series that will be its own post later on) and the idea of an anthology in the canon with the characters I love so much made me ecstatic.

Unstoppable cover (taken from Indiebound.org)

Now, if you have no idea who Joe Ledger is and you like weird thrillers with extremely plausible science (the type of ”no wait, that’s a real thing that is plausible and could happen…oh crap”)  then hie thee to a library or to your favorite bookseller.   They start off with a bang and just get better and better from there.   I’ve heard them  described as “comic books in novel form” and there’s some truth to that.   Jonathan Maberry is amazing at what he does and how he structures his books and it’s the best kind of thing to pick up one of these books and go for a ride down a fantastic, all too plausible rabbit hole.  He’s written an introduction to Joe and his world in the beginning of the anthology in case you want to pick up the anthology first for a taste of what the Ledger books are all about.

The anthology itself spans over the entire timeline of the canon novels and even includes a couple of crossovers with other book series, a thing that has added a few new books to the list of to be acquired.     These stories made me laugh, cheer, and in a couple places, cry (Three Times, by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks). All of the short stories in this anthology are amazing, but I wanted to focus on two of the stories that stayed with me the most.   The first being Mira Grant’s  Red Dirt, which is a short that takes place after the events of the second book in the series, The Dragon Factory, and if you know Mira’s writing…it’s flawless in how the prose grabs you and sucks you into the story she’s weaving.  You don’t read this short, you experience it.   Her sense of place is magnificent.   You can feel the despair and the heartache and the way that red dirt sticks to everything it touches.   It’s gloriously executed and a perfect coda to the second book.  It also made me sniffle for the remembering of certain events.

The second is actually my favorite out of all of them and it’s written by Keith DeCandidoGanbatte, features a member of Joe’s team, Lydia Ruiz who is one of the first members of an all-female SEAL fire team.   She is easily one of the most badass characters in the series and this story gives us a snippet into how she got to be a member of Echo Team.   Lydia is a hell of a martial artist and Keith’s own expertise in that field shows in this story.    It also touches on a sensitive topic around one of the people in Lydia’s life and while the situation is an all too real one, the outcome was one that I appreciated the hell out of as much as I simultaneously wished that situations like that would really end that way in actual life.    Just like with Mira’s story, you don’t read this one so much as you experience it.   You feel the wind in your hair, that smell you only get when driving on the overseas highway.  It’s easy to get into Lydia’s head, to see what she sees.   Ganbatte deepens your understanding of Lydia Ruiz as a character and a person.

So all in all, this anthology was exactly I wanted and hoped for.  Some of my favorite authors writing in one of my favorite series.   Definitely a book worth picking up if you haven’t already.  Get it here from your favorite indie bookstore!

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An Update: Let The Water Flow

New Year,  new goals, fresh start to everything…it’s supposed to be an energizing part of the year right?    Sadly, I’ve spent whatever time I haven’t been at work or feeding the cats/myself pretty much sleeping or driving.    The reason for that goes back to Christmas really.    The holidays were great, my little brother flew in from Brasil just as The Lovely Housemate flew out to spend sometime with her family.    Christmas was really lovely and spread out over the weekend since we did Christmas with Housemate first and then normal Christmas Eve and Christmas with the parents, brother, and his Wonderful Girlfriend.

After Christmas was when it got interesting.   My day job is a payroll/garnishment specialist and while my job is amazing and I honestly love what I do…to work in payroll during the holidays is never a cake walk.  There are three months out of the year where it kind of sucks to be a payroll specialist, for the pure and simple fact that everything is super crazy and super high stress due to a couple of factors beyond anyone’s actual control (December, January, and April, in case you were wondering).    So with it being Year-End and having a couple of people out, the last week of December was more brutal than most.    Add to that, the fact that the temperatures in Tennessee started dipping down into the single digits and it was pretty hard just making it through for someone who doesn’t have pressure/weather-sensitive chronic pain.

And then it got interesting.   My parents’ are moving because the renovation of their upstairs is starting this next week AND they had to deal with an unexpected massive water leak as well as their furnace being broken.   My father was also gone for a week to visit his family and help his sister out for a short while.   So it was Mom, my brother, the Wonderful Girlfriend, and I working to get as much as we could moved downstairs or packed up and shoved to the upstairs balcony so that when Dad got back, there wasn’t that much left to do.   Got the vast majority of stuff moved downstairs/packed up and Mom got the leak handled.

However since the furnace still hadn’t been fixed yet ( the parts were wrong several times in a row), they had space heaters and the wood burning stove going constantly so that they didn’t have any of their pipes freeze in our almost subzero temperatures.   Which means that one person needs to be in the house at all times to make sure that the fire doesn’t die down too much and that the four-five space heaters don’t spontaneously spark and start fires.

So that meant instead of us hosting New Years Gaming, we packed everything up and put on a couple of extra layers and went up there for gaming fun.   Not a big deal, though I did make the Lovely Housemate drive (since I’d made four-five round trips up and back in addition to four trips to the airport and a full week’s worth of driving for work – I was a little tired).   Then came Tuesday and the realization that one of the three times we’d lost power on Tuesday had shorted out the power strip that the heat tape and heat lamp were plugged into for our water softening system and the pipes were frozen.

This is the first time since we’d owned our house that it had a) been THIS cold and b) we’d had any serious plumbing issues other than some flooding in a few places.

So begins the week of literally trying everything we can think of to thaw the pipes including calling the plumbers twice and yet all they could tell us was that we’d have to stick it out and wait until the ground warmed up.  We were doing all the right things, the pipes were just frozen.

We hit up the store for jugs of purified water for hair washing and bottled water for drinking for both us and the cats and made do as best we could.   It’s been an adventure.

Yesterday (Saturday)  we gathered up laundry piles and shower gear and headed up to the parents’ place to shower and do laundry since their water was still nice and hot and they’re always happy to have kids drop in.   Hung out, watched some movies and shows in between actual showers and laundry being done.

Today, their furnace got fixed and then we got some water flowing back into the house.  So progress right?

Until the pipe burst.  Luckily, it’s a small pipe attached to the water softener and not one of the ones in the ground and the plumber has been called again and we’re on the list of stops he’ll make.  We haven’t been the only ones dealing with frozen or burst pipes in the last week or so.   So that’s been one of the things eating up all the spare time in between work, food, and transit times.

Hopefully, your New Years have started much less eventfully than mine has. Anyways, normal blogging should get back on track this week, providing the stars and my energy levels comply.    I’m currently in the middle of reading some of the Christmas books I got this year as well as a reread of Kushiel’s Dart because weirdly, that’s one of my comfort books.

I have several More Joy posts that will be appearing and some articles about various research type things I’ve been doing.

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New Patreon Post Up!

The December Patreon story is up!  It’s a fun little portal fantasyish story set during Solstice.  If you’d like to check it out,  1$ gets you access to all the short stories.   The link is below.

https://www.patreon.com/DJGray

In other news, Happy New Year everyone!    There will be a more in depth 2017 recap post later but for now I leave you all with this picture of Laurens!Cat.

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