Category Archives: Fiction

Book Review of “Ribbons of Death”

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“Ribbons of Death” was published in 2015 and was written by Edita A. Petrick (http://editapetrick.biz). Ms. Petrick has published 6 novels.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Fantasy Thriller novel is set in contemporary times in several locations, but mostly in the US.

The two principal characters are Timothy J. Carter and Dr. Stella Hunter. Carter has a long military career, including time in the Special Forces. At the time covered by the novel, he is a contractor for the US government. His role is not well defined, filling the area between the FBI and CIA allowing him to go where ever a situation leads him.

Hunter is a PhD with a focus on myths and mythology. She had been a professor at Michigan, but has left after her husband left her for a younger woman. Carter shows up at Hunter’s door one cold night asking for help.

Months earlier a riot had broken out at a peaceful demonstration in Cairo, Egypt. Hundreds were killed and injured. Carter was there and was uncontrollably drawn into the mayhem. Now, he is trying to track the cause. Similar deadly periods of mayhem break out in a few US cities. After talking with Hunter, they believe that the events are tied to a myth she had included in her book. Seeking to stop further deaths, Carter, with Hunter in tow, try to track down those behind the incidents.

They spend nearly a month traveling across the US trying to track down leads. They soon face deadly opposition to their investigations, but every step brings them a little closer to the source of the trouble. This 9 hour read was interesting, though the plot was not unusual. Unlike so many tales like this, there was no romance between the two major characters. I thought both of the characters were interesting, and the story compelling. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Joe Steele”

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“Joe Steele” was published in 2015 (April) and was written by Harry Turtledove. Mr. Turtledove has published over 100 books.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘PG’ as there are some instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Alternate History novel is set starting in 1932 and then continuing into the 1950s.

Son of Russian immigrants Joe Steele is a US Congressman with higher political aspirations. He is contending with Franklin D. Roosevelt for the Democratic nomination for President, when Roosevelt dies in a fire. Steele sweeps into office on a campaign to pull America out of the depression. His methods are ruthless, but his actions start to bring America back. Soon though, he is faced with the growing conflict of World War II, followed by the rise of Communism.

Bothers Mike and Charlie Sullivan are both reporters, Charlie based in Washington DC and Mike in New York. Mike does not like the steps that Steele is taking to control America, and speaks out in his columns. Before long, Mike is arrested, convicted of being a “wrecker” and sentenced to 5-10 years in a work camp. The outbreak of WWII offers Mike an opportunity to leave the camp and fight for the US.

Charlie sees the threat Steele is posing, but knows better than to openly say anything. Before long, Steele “invites” Charlie to join his staff as a speech writer. Knowing that saying ‘No’ may send him to join his brother, Charlie joins Steele’s staff.

I have read many of Turtledove’s other novels and have enjoyed them. I thought this alternate history was interesting but not as good as some of his other novels. The 13 hour story shows the US taking a very rigid, dictatorial path. It is not an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but it was an interesting read if you like Turtledove. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Rome is Burning”

“Rome is Burning” was published in 2014 and was written by Roy A. Teel Jr. Mr. Teel has published six novels, with this being the third in his “Iron Eagle” series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this Fiction Thriller novel as ‘R’ as there is Mature Language, Mature Situations and Violence. The novel is written in the third person and is set in contemporary Los Angeles, California. The primary characters are FBI agent John Swenson and Sheriff Jim O’Brian.

John Swenson is The Iron Eagle who has appeared in the first two novels of this series. While an FBI Agent, he anonymously sees justice carried out when the system fails. He has assembled a tight knit group of fellow Special Operations combat veterans around him to help with imposing justice when needed. They hold back nothing to succeed, and are not hesitant to resort to torture to get the information that they seek.

Sheriff Jim O’Brian is added to his group as Swenson discovers a plot to take over the US government. He and his crew strike out against terrorists attacking the Los Angeles area, and move to block those who wish to overthrow the government.

The plot is full of conspiracy theories, some kind of far fetched in my opinion. I also felt that there was not a lot of depth to the characters. There is a lot of action. I give this novel a 3.5 (rounded up to 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Twinkle”

“Twinkle” was published in 2014 and was written by S. J. Parkinson (http://sjparkinson.com). Mr. Parkinson has published 5 novels.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this Military Thriller novel as ‘R’ as there it does include some Violence. The novel is written in the third person and is set in more or less contemporary times. There are several characters that are followed in the book, but the primary character is US Air force Colonel Alvin Smith.

Hiding behind a world wide publicity stunt, the Chinese make a surprise attack on America. Most people world wide are left blind. The few who did not get a chance to observe the fireworks display that caused the blindness are left to take care of the rest. Colonel Smith is one of the few US officers that retained his vision.

Smith rallies troops together and aided what a cure to the blindness discovered by Doctors in Seattle, is able to oppose the Chinese forces that occupy the United States.

I liked this novel, the plot was good. I did find it difficult to believe that Smith and his forces could travel around so easily without discovery by the Chinese. That to me was a major hole in the plot. There is a bit of Science Fiction and some Romance, but the majority of the plot was Military Thriller. All that being said, I did enjoy the novel and give it a 4.5 (rounded up to 5) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “The Cruiser”

“The Cruiser” was published in 2014 (December) and was written by David Poyer (http://www.poyer.com). Mr. Poyer has written many sea related novels, this is the 14th in the “Tales of the Modern Navy (Dan Lenson Novels)” series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. The novel is set in more of less contemporary times. The primary character is the newly promoted to Captain Dan Lenson.

Lenson is thrust into the command of an advanced cruiser that the previous Captain has let run aground. Lenson steps into command of a stressed crew and a tenuous peace in the middle east. His ship and the bleeding edge missile system it carries is critical to keeping the situation from getting out of hand.

The story is filled with the modern US navy and even though this is the 14th novel in the series, it stood well as a stand alone read. There was action, intrigue and the drama of conflicting personalities. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to 5) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Inferno”

“Inferno” was published in 2013 and is the sixth novel by Dan Brown (http://www.danbrown.com). This action thriller is the fourth in the Robert Langdon series. The eBook is available at Amazon.

This novel mostly takes place in Italy. First in Florence, then later moves to Venice. It ends in Istanbul, Turkey. As with his other novels in this series, the reader gets a good dose of art and history as the story progresses.

In this novel Robert Langdon, Harvard Art History Professor, wakes up in a hospital in Florence having no memory as to how he got there. Adding to his confusion, a young woman bursts into the hospital and attempts to kill him. He escapes with the assistance of one of his doctors, Sienna Brooks.

Thus begins an exciting race that evolves around Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and associated art work. As Langdon and Brooks search for the answers to their puzzle, two different powerful groups seem to be working feverishly to intercept them.

This novel follows the same general plot of the first three books in the series. Langdon is presented with a puzzle, then follows a series of clues through art and history to find the solution. I enjoyed this novel as I have the others in the series, but I felt that this one had a little too much description of the sights. Perhaps the same general plot is getting a little stale for me. I give the novel a 4 out of 5.

Book Review of “I am the Weapon”

“I am the Weapon” was published in 2014 and is the fifth novel written by Allen Zadoff (http://www.allenzadoff.com). It is the first in the “Unknown Assassin” series of thrillers. The book is available on Amazon as an eBook.

I would characterize this as a Young Adult Thriller novel as the primary character, Zack, is 16 years old. Zack is not the normal teenager though. He is a highly trained assassin working for The Program. His own family was killed by a fellow member of The Program and he was recruited at age 12. Following two years of intensive training he has been working assignments for The Program for the last two years. His assignments address what he believes are problems of national interest, where risks to the American government have to be handled quietly.

The other main characters are:

  • Samara “Sam” Goldberg is a High School student at a private school in New York City. She is popular and beautiful.
  • Jonathon Goldberg is a brilliant computer scientist and business man. He is currently the very successful mayor of New York City, and Sam’s father.
  • Howard is a classmate of Sam’s. He is a nerdy computer hacker that is considered an outcast by all at the school but Sam.

Zack is handed an unusually short five day assignment to get close to Sam and assassinate her father. Zack never knows why he is sent in to take action. He just follows orders and moves on to the next assignment, but this time he hesitates as he gets to know Sam and her father.

This is the first time he has not carried out an assignment at the first opportunity. Against procedure he reaches out to the reclusive Howard for some assistance.

As the story unfolds there is intrigue, romance and action. The story moves along well, never letting the reader bog down.

I do have some reservations about the plot. I found it hard to accept that Zack is a 16 year old assassin. He repeatedly encounters fully grown trained men, and bests them in hand-to-hand combat. In my opinion it would have been better to have put him in his mid-twenties, but looking young enough to pass as a teenager. That at least would make sense.

Also, there are more than one instance in the story of Zack “projecting his energy” around him to detect those following him. Is he supposed to have some extra ability? Nothing is mentioned if he is other than his projecting energy. This, to me, is out of place for this otherwise straight thriller. If he is not supposed to have some special ability, these instances in the story could have been written in a different, more believable way.

Overall I give this novel a 3 out of 5.

Book Review of “By Any Means”

“By Any Means” will be published in 2014 (May) and was written by Chris Culver. This is Mr. Culver’s fifth novel to be published in his mystery series following the character of Ash Rashid. The book is available through Amazon .

Indianapolis Detective Ash Rashid is currently working community relations. He has had that detail for the last eight months following his encounter and subsequent shooting death of a young man with a gun. He was cleared in the shooting, but still has not been returned to his status as a detective. The fact that Rashid is a Muslim is woven through the story, but really does not enter into the mystery.

He encounters what appears to be an auto accident on his way home one afternoon that thrusts him back into the role of detective. What appears to be an accident, quickly develops into a homicide. To complicate matters, a good samaritan stopping to help has been kidnapped.

Because of the urgency of the situation and the fact that he started the investigation, Rashid is somewhat reluctantly placed in charge by his superiors. As the investigation progresses, the crime seems to be somehow tied to human trafficking and prostitution.

An underworld contact of Rashid’s, the Russian Kostya (a character from earlier books in the series), is somehow involved. While he provides Rashid with information, he also has his own agenda.

I enjoyed this book and give it a 4 out of 5. The characters were well developed, and the story engaging. Given the opportunity I would read other books by this author.

Review of “Apprehended”

“Apprehended” was published in 2014 and was written by Jan Burke (http://www.janburke.com). Ms. Burke has published 10 novels and many short stories. “Apprehended” is a collection of four of her short stories. This book is available on Amazon.

While these would be considered mysteries, they are more straight forward in their explanation of the respective crimes than you would normally expect of a mystery. Each describes a crime, why and how it was committed, without the investigative discovery that you would normally expect of a mystery.

Ms. Burke did a good job of developing her characters and creating short engaging stories. I personally would have preferred more mystery to the stories. I am not a big fan of short stories, still I do recommend this collection with a 4 out of 5 rating.

Book Review “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August”

“The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” was published in 2014 and is the first book published under the pseudonym of Claire North. This book is best considered Science Fiction and is available on Amazon.

This book follows Harry August, who was born on New Year’s Eve in 1918. His mother was unwed and gave birth to him in the ladies washroom of the train station in Newcastle, England. For the most part, Harry’s life was pretty uneventful, and he died in 1989.

But then, Harry was born again. Again on New Year’s Eve 1918, and he remembered his prior life. Harry finds that he never really dies. Every time his body dies, he is then reborn on that same December 31 of 1918. During his fourth life he discovers that he is not the only one who repeats their life, and in fact there is a world wide discrete network in the form of the Chronus Club of others with his condition. It only happens rarely, and no one knows why or how it happens, but out of every million or so born a couple will start repeating their lives.

With the Chronos Club to help him, he lives several comfortable lives. Then in his eleventh life as he lays on his death bed he is visited by a little girl. She is another of his kind and gives him a message to carry back to the Chronos Club when he is reborn in his twelfth life – “The World is Ending”.

Harry begins in his twelfth life a quest to find out what is going on and who is behind the changes that are bringing about a premature end to the world as we know it. The only explanation is that one of his fellows is acting contrary to the Chronos Club’s strict rules and is tampering with the normal chain of events.

This story is a very different take on time travel. I found the book well written and very engaging. I recommend it with a 5 out of 5.