The Brothers Three by Layton Green

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New Orleans, Louisiana

Will works evenings at Medieval Nights, a joust-themed dinner theater. A few nights a week, to help his finances, he engages in staged battles with a group of fellow under-achieving twenty-somethings. To Will’s disappointment, he knows this is as close to Middle Earth as he will ever get. His brother, Caleb, is a bartender at the House of Spirits, and Val is the oldest brother and a corporate lawyer. Will’s routine includes two drinks at the House of Spirits, a little online gaming, then asleep by midnight, so he can get to his day job as a general contractor’s assistant.

Will’s unfortunate tendency towards severe panic attacks precludes him from any career with danger or stress. Because of this, the closest he gets to excitement is with Lance Wesson, his high school friend, who is a police officer. One evening during Will’s ride-along, they receive a call about a dog howling in the cemetery. Thinking this could be interesting, even Will gets out of the car. As they move through the headstones the howling dog can be heard and is suddenly directly in front of Will, leaping on him with chomping teeth. Lance fires his pistol and the monster runs. The young men give chase and see it disappear in the direction of the nearest home, a huge two-story with a wrap-around porch. At first, it seems to be abandoned, until a man opens the door, dressed as an eighteenth-century French aristocrat, reminding Will of a costume party. During their conversation they learn absolutely nothing, other than the fact that this situation is starting to creep Will out.

The next night, having nothing to occupy his mind, Will decides to spy on the freaky guy in the mansion. Climbing a tree and using his binoculars, he sees the man in a room lined with shelves, crammed with books and the occasional skull. Two people enter, dressed in white, and begin dusting and sweeping. Only they’re not people dressed in white; they are skeletons busily cleaning. Suddenly, one turns towards the window and Will can sense that he’s been noticed. The man jumps to his feet and rushes to the window, just as Will’s branch gives way with a loud crack.

Charles Zalinkski, a friend of the brothers’ father, calls Will and requests a meeting with all the Blackwood brothers, which Will finds odd, but lately there seems to be a lot of weird things going around. Upon meeting with Charles, they are shocked and disbelieving when he explains he is a member of an organization that studies magic. Also, he has promised their father to watch over them if there came a time that the boys needed to know more of their circumstances, and just perhaps some of their talents. Charles explains their father was a wizard and from another world. As Charles tries to tell them more about their father, the back door of the bar is flung open, as the man from the cemetery comes striding into the parking lot carrying a bag of bones.

Thus begins the adventure of a lifetime.

This is an intriguing story with lots of action. One thing with fantasy is that the author can take the story almost anywhere, stretching the reader’s imagination. It’s a long story at three-hundred and thirty-three pages, but it never drags. I enjoyed the interaction between the characters and, of course, Will’s mental health issue is a real attention grabber. Naturally, they will visit another world and that is total entertainment, as they adjust to being Beginners in the arena of magic. This is a great read and I think most of us will enjoy this book.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – This is YA fantasy. Both adults and teens will appreciate it.
  • Level of sexuality – Low.
  • Is there graphic language? Very little.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Did I laugh? Sometimes.
  • Is this part of a series? Yes, this is book one of the Blackwood Saga.
  • Level of character development – I found them to be fairly well-developed and obviously some of the main characters will be embellished in the sequel.

I gladly give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

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How Speleology Restored My Sex Drive by Michael Bernhart

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First things first, I had to look up ‘speleology’. Having never heard this word I was intrigued, since it was linked with everybody’s favorite word, ‘sex’. I suspect we’re all disappointed to find that it is simply the study and exploration of caves, but without this great word the book would lack direction. This is written in first-person by Max, whose wife is Sally and nine-year-old twin daughters are Mary and Margaret. Max and Sally find them adorable, however, they are not blind to their daughters’ tendencies, which consist of going their own way in spite of their parents, easily convincing and dragging innocent bystanders right along with them.

Let’s begin. This is a very entertaining story. Apparently, Max has gone treasure hunting in the past and now has two daughters and a wife who think spending their summer vacation doing a rather dangerous activity is just the thing to bring new meaning to the word vacation. Max can’t stand against his family of women and, being the only dissenting vote, he prepares to spend time with them in the Georgia mines, searching for Confederate gold.

Sally has a fascinating uncle, Skeeter. As a young man he excelled at whatever he put his hand to and always tried to do the right thing. His return from serving in Vietnam brought home a very different man, one who brawled his way through his enlistment along with accumulating several AWOLs. No one knows how he supports himself and as they grow accustomed to his conversations, consisting of spies, implanted chips and chemicals, the family decides Skeeter is just as fine a man as he was before he served. Skeeter has a lot of stories about Confederate gold: who had carried it during the Civil War, who had delivered it during the war, and who had likely buried it during the war. He is more than happy to share what information he has and, as they sit in a local restaurant, they pour over maps of mines in the area. They make their plans and agree to meet the next morning.

Max and Sally awake to discover their daughters have talked Skeeter into starting their hunt early. They have not left a note and Max and Sally have no idea where they are or which mine they should hit first. They decide to go to Skeeter’s place to look for clues. What they find is vague, but they finally settle on a mine to investigate, looking for their twins.

There is always a bad guy(s) and, unfortunately, their waitress from the prior evening is married to one. Once she spreads the word of the possibility of gold in the mines, there is no way to keep it quiet. Being the only ones on the dirt road near Skeeter’s home, Max and Sally are passed by several men in pickups. Wondering why anyone would want to travel the bumpy road to Skeeter’s, Max turns around and follows. They hide in the brush while the men begin yelling for Skeeter, carelessly shooting guns and hitting Skeeter’s dog. Max can tell by the look on Sally’s face that she is not going to forget what happened to this dog. Well aware that the men are drunk, Max is much more careful following them. Since they are looking for Mary and Margaret also, there is no way Max and Sally aren’t going to be right behind these men until they can manage to get in front of them. However, these guys are playing for keeps and they discover they better find the girls before anyone else does.

I like a story that has fun and action and this one does. Max and his wife can’t help but meet interesting people with wild backgrounds. Such as the young employee, Shawn, at the car rental. Who knew that shortly his car would be blown to smithereens and for his own safety he should travel along with the treasure hunters? Or Bob and Brenda, an older couple who live along a trail to one of the mines. Bob looks to be in his seventies and Brenda appears to be in her fifties. He has hair sprouting on his shoulders and she, wearing a bikini, has more leathery skin than any human should be forced to see. There are plenty of fascinating characters and, unfortunately, the bad people are truly bad. I couldn’t wait to see what Sally was going to do when it came to revenge for Skeeter’s dog. Did I mention she carries a gun?

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – I would call this book suspense with humor for adults and teens.
  • Level of sexuality – Low.
  • Is there graphic language? Some.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Did I laugh? I did and it also made me smile in amusement a lot.
  • Is this part of a series? Yes, the Max Brown series.
  • Level of character development – These are well-rounded characters.

I believe I would enjoy the other Max Brown books and I give this one ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 stars.

Available here on Amazon