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Posted on October 17th, 2011

Dave!People offer to send me free things all the time in the hopes that I'll review their stuff on my blog. I always say "no" because if somebody gives me something, then I feel obligated to say something nice even when it's a lie. Sure it means I have to pay for crap that I could get for zero dollars, but at least then I can say what I really feel.

So when my blogging pal Rob "Diesel" Kroese said he wanted to send me a preview copy of his new book, Mercury Rises, I was torn. On one hand, I really liked his first book, and so I'd probably like the sequel too. But, on the other hand sequels can be bad, so what if it sucks ass like REVENGE OF THE NERDS II: NERDS IN PARADISE? What then?

I'll tell you what.

First you make a donation to my favorite charity Doctors Without Borders in Rob Kroese's name so you don't feel bad about what you're saying about his book...

Rob Kroese Tribute Gift Card

Then you sit down and write a review on your blog because you promised you would.

Mercury Rises is a story about rebel FBI agent Bruce Willis protecting some autistic kid who has unwittingly discovered the key to cracking a top-secret government code. Because of this, the government wants him dead, and only Bruce Willis can save him. Formulaic absurdity ensues. About the only bright spot in this entire mess of a book is villain Alec Baldwin, who manages to deliver some of the cheesiest dialog ever written in a way that makes you not quite want to kill yourself. Which is about the best thing I can say about Mercury Rises.

What I want to know is what Kroese was thinking. I mean, his first book, Mercury Falls, had memorable characters, witty dialogue, and some genuinely funny situations. Why did he jettison all that this time? I guess the pressure of writing a sequel to a successful book was more than Diesel could take, so he traded in his unique and humorous voice for big budget stars and a by-the-numbers action-thriller that fails to deliver. Overall, a big disappointment.

If you're a die-hard (heh) Bruce Willis fan, this might be worth a look. Otherwise I'd skip it.

UPDATE! Umm... it was just pointed out to me that I was confusing Rob's book Mercury Rises with the film Mercury Rising. I could say this is my fault, but honestly... it's easy to see how I would get the two mixed up. Quick suggestion to Mr. Kroese... name your next book something more clever (like Mercury Rises: Nerds in Paradise or Mercury Rises: The Phantom Menace or Weekend at Bernie's II, for example) so people don't get confused.

Anyway, here's me reviewing the BOOK version of Mercury Rises...

Mercury Rises Cover

It's a pretty darn good read.

IF you've read the original book Mercury Falls. Otherwise, the sequel won't make much sense because there's noooooo hand-holding here. The story picks up right after the original with absolutely no recap or explanation as to what's going on.

But if you HAVE read Mercury Falls, then you're in for a treat, because The Apocalypse is back on and only rogue angel Mercury and recently-out-of-work reporter Christine Temetri can save the world. Again! Along the way we get a peek into the distant past with the origins of Tiamet's Apocalyptic scheming and even more of Kroese's crazy characters and outlandish situations. But past, present, or possible future, it's all wrapped up in the same witty, pop-culture-infused trappings that I enjoyed the first time around.

In more ways than one, Mercury Rises is a more challenging read than the first book. There's a lot going on, a lot to process, and a lot to wade through as the plot moves along. I kind of appreciate this, because it gives me something interesting to latch onto now that the "newness" of Mercury and his heavenly bureaucracy has worn off. But you do have to prepare yourself for some uninterrupted reading time to fully appreciate where the story is taking you. Try to read this one during commercial breaks in Dancing with the Stars and you're in for a tough time of it. Still, it's worth the effort.

I'm giving Mercury Rises ★★★★☆. If you enjoyed Mercury Falls (★★★★★), then you'll probably enjoy the sequel as well. It's available in paperback by following this link to Amazon (or you can buy it for a mere $2.99 by getting the Kindle Edition).

And now a warning.

SHIT! Just a second...

Rob Kroese Tribute Gift Card

About the only thing I didn't like about Mercury Rises is that it's not complete. It is, in fact, a cliffhanger set-up for the third book, Mercury Rests.

I really, really hate it when this happens.

What if Diesel dies before he can finish the tale? What if Mercury Rises only sells five copies and the publisher doesn't want to print the sequel? What if the ACTUAL APOCALYPSE happens before the third book is released? What if I die and never get to find out how the story ends?

A part of me wants to say the same thing I say whenever I talk about a book with a cliffhanger "ending"... wait until the actual ending is released before you buy it so you can be sure you'll be able to read the complete story. But, in this case, that would be a shame. Mercury Falls is one of those books that leaves you wanting more. Well, here it is. If, like me, you've been waiting... I begrudgingly say take a chance and pick up a copy.

Mercury willing, the grand finale of the trilogy will find its way to us soon enough.


Bullet Sunday 248

Posted on September 4th, 2011

Dave!This morning I woke up, decided life wasn't worth it, then went back to bed. But after I realized I didn't have any bread to make toast, I had to get up so I could go to the store. Without toast, life isn't worth living.

• Star Redux. I've been in a real renaissance with the original Star Wars films lately. I've been re-watching the real movies on LaserDisc... taking another look at the amazing "Making of" books... re-reading the novelizations... going through the comic book adaptations... that kind of thing. This is probably in anticipation of the movies coming out on Blu-Ray later this month. And even though there's a lot of controversy raging over George Lucas once again crapping all over the films, I still can't wait to see them in high-def. I especially can't wait to have all the deleted scenes with one of the more interesting characters in the entire franchise... Biggs Darklighter...

Biggs Darklighter

Now, if you've only ever seen the original movie, you might remember Biggs being mentioned in passing when Luke is whining to Uncle Owen... and again when the Rebels are off to attack the Death Star... and then again at the end where he gets blown up by Darth Vader. But, in the original Star Wars script, there is more to the character than that. Unfortunately, those scenes got cut (though some snuck through to the novelization). And while these cuts were probably a smart move story-wise, they're disappointing fan-wise... especially for fans who have read Biggs' back-story in the "Expanded Universe" books and comics. These rumored "never-before-seen scenes" will help add yet another dimension to an important character we only thought we knew (or didn't know).

• Dance Redux. On a list of things that I couldn't possibly give a crap about, Dancing with the Stars would be near the top of the list. As far as entertainment goes, it's right up there with Pauly Shore movies and diarrhea. But once I heard the controversy over the casting of this season's contestants, I decided to investigate who would be on the show. After taking a look, I admit that I am very upset. I simply cannot fathom how such a popular program would intentionally decide to attack this country's sense of decency and our respect for the Natural Order. I am disgusted at the thought of children tuning in and being exposed to a total freak show and abomination towards God. I am mortified that this "person" will be given even more media exposure so they can further destroy all that is good on this earth with their reprehensible behavior. I am, of course, talking about Nancy Grace...

Disgusting Evil Nancy Grace

This vile, disgusting, evil, pathetic excuse for a human being has absolutely no business being on television. And it only goes to show that the people behind Dancing with the Stars only care about one thing: stirring up controversy to get ratings. Just like Nancy Grace, they obviously don't give a fuck how many people they hurt in their effort to attract viewers. For once I agree with the lamestream conservative media... this is absolutely disgusting, and just one more reason I won't be tuning in for this stupid shit.

UPDATE: Oh. Some readers have pointed out that all the controversy isn't about Nancy Grace after all (as one would expect)... it's instead over Chaz Bono?!? I don't get this at all. So he used to be a woman. Big deal. I'd argue Chaz Bono is more of a man and less sexually confused than Marcus Bachmann or "Doctor" Keith Ablow, yet you don't see anybody complaining about them being on television...

Chaz Bono Marcus Bachmann Keith Ablow

What a crock of bullshit. I have to wonder if all the people in an uproar over this are just confused about their sexual identity, and are taking it out on Chaz Bono because he has the balls to get it all sorted out. Or they are sexually attracted to Chaz Bono and don't know what to do with their self-loathing. Or they really, really hated being subjected to Cher's auto-tune travesty, Believe, being constantly blasted on the radio in the late 1990's (if that's the case, I guess I see their point... Cher's not on television much anymore, so I suppose torturing her offspring is the next best thing?). Whatever the case, I find it fascinating that people are still freaking out over this kind of stuff in the year 2011.

• TV Redux. I have more than a couple friends who are "periphery Apple fans." Meaning that they're not Mac users, but they do like their iPods, iPhones, iPads, and whatnot. This morning I got a call from one of these friends with an Apple TV. He knew I had one, and was wondering why I haven't blogged about it...

Apple TV

I explained that my older television didn't seem to support it because the picture was all fuzzy and jumpy. And since I'm unable to use it, the thing has been collecting dust in my closet for over a year. That's when he drops the bomb and tells me that the Apple TV firmware had been updated a while back which fixed the video display problems for a lot of people. So I dig it out, plug it in, and apply the latest software. Now it works perfectly. And it is awesome.

I love being able to use "AirPlay" to stream stuff from my MacBook, iPhone, and iPad. I really love how much easier it is to use Netflix Streaming (compared to using my Xbox like I do now). And iCloud makes it dead-simple to stream all the television shows I've purchased right to my TV without having to download them to my Mac first. It's an amazing little device and, now that I can use it, worth every penny of the $99 price tag. If you've got an HD television with HDMI, it's worth a look.

• Mercury Redux. In anticipation of his new novel Mercury Rises being released next month, Thrice Fiction contributor Rob Kroese has unleashed a FREE Kindle eBook short story... Mercury Swings...

Mercury Swings Cover

You can get your copy at Amazon and have it sent to your Kindle or any device with Kindle Reader installed (like Macs, PCs, iPhones, and the like). It's funny and it's free, so what are you waiting for? Go and get Mercury Swings today!

And that's all she wrote for this edition of Bullet Sunday. Tune in next week when all my bullets will be double-jacketed.



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