Category Archives: Books

Rich Eating

Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics
by P.J. O’Rourke (1994)

American political humorist takes a world tour, from the “good capitalism” of Wall Street to the “bad socialism” of Cuba, in search of an answer to the age-old question: “Why do some places prosper and thrive, while others just suck?”

It looks like someone has funded a world tour for the author. He visits Albania to point out their faults. Sweden, where he complains that things are just too good. Cuba to try the food. Russia, because he can and Tanzania for the wildlife.

Just like all Americans, he conflated Socialism with Communism and makes no distinction between the various types of Capitalism.

However he is an amusing writer with a good turn of phrase and a sharp eye to hypocrisy.

It’s just that he should have finished the book before the final chapter where he follows all the other Americans by moralizing to the rest of the world.

 

Xibalba

Xibalba
(Dane Maddock #9)
by David Wood (2017)

The discovery of a treasure in the Yucatan sets former Navy SEALs Dane Maddock and Bones Bonebrake on a search for the legendary Maya city of the dead, and into the path of deadly enemies. From ancient ruins to perilous jungles, Maddock and Bones must outwit the vicious Serpent Brotherhood, and find the fabled city before an old enemy unlocks its secrets and plunges the world into shadow. Can they survive the descent into Xibalba?

Yet again.. they can.

This is more adventure in the Indiana Jones style that a thriller or crime caper. However it does suffer from one too many plot threads. These detract from the story, and while giving background don’t add up to much in the end. Still, it’s another solid thriller as can be expected.

 

Fold

The Fold
(Threshold #2)
by Peter Clines (2015)

Far out in the California desert, a team of DARPA scientists have invented a device they call the Albuquerque Door. Using a cryptic computer equation and magnetic fields to “fold” dimensions, it shrinks distances so that a traveller can move a long way with a single step.

The invention promises to make mankind’s dreams of teleportation a reality. The scientists insist that traveling through the door is completely safe.


This starts as an interesting science fiction premise. Transportation, but what could go wrong ?

Most of the story slowly evolves, with an interesting premise and characters. Then, about 3/4 of the way through the ‘secret’ is revealed and it’s familiar. In fact it’s just the final part of the previous book (14) bolted onto the end.

This changes the tone and genre from interesting and light-hearted to tense, action horror. It’s an abrupt change and a very unsatisfactory ending.

I won’t bother with the third in the series, as it’s probably the same formula.

Forteen

14
(Threshold #1)
by Peter Clines (2012)

Padlocked doors. Strange light fixtures. Mutant cockroaches. There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much.

What’s surprising about this book is how it manages to keep the reader interested despite the slow pacing. It’s like a drip drip drop of pacing, revealing just a bit more each chapter. And it’s kept up for almost 130,000 words.

It’s strange mixture of horror, science fiction and fantasy, set in current times.

I only read this as the next book in the series, ‘The Fold’ is the Sword and Laser podcast book for the month.

 

Ark

Ark
(Dane Maddock #8)
by David Wood (2015)

A Native American artifact points the way to one of the greatest legends in history!

Archaeologist Dima Zafrani receives a mysterious package containing fragments of an unknown text that proves the existence of the lost Book of Noah. Pursued by a shadow organization known only as The Trident, Dima crosses paths with former Navy SEALs turned treasure hunters Dane Maddock and Bones Bonebrake. Can the three find the legendary Noah Stones before the Trident can harness their power?

You betcha they can !

From rednecks in America to North Africa, the globetrotting duo (with a few female add-ons) track down the myth of Noah’s Ark.

Another fun romp through violence and bad quips.

 

Master Apprentice

Master and Apprentice
(Star Wars)
by Claudia Gray (2019)

 

When Jedi Rael Averross, a former student of Dooku, requests assistance with a political dispute, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi travel to the royal court of Pijal. What should be a simple assignment quickly becomes clouded by deceit and politics.

This is less of a Star Wars adventure and more of a court intrigue story. Gray writes with a smooth and easy prose, however the pacing is slow and in the hands of a less capable author I would have given up without finishing. In the end, it’s not very intriguing or exciting. And the majority of the plot is crammed into the last quarter of the story.

So in the end, only  an average read.

 

 

Atlantis

Atlantis
(Dane Maddock #7)
by David Wood (2013)

Dane Maddock, Bones and a new team race to find the remnants of Atlantis and battle against The Dominion (the organization out to cleanse the world). Teaming up with Tam, Willis, Avery, and Corey from previous novel, they must race to find the legendary cities of Atlantis to prevent the Dominion from gaining controlling of technology that could be used to bestowed upon the world a fate only Atlantis has every experienced.

So it’s back to the Dane Maddock Series. This time with some more characters and subsequently more plot lines. I always found that the thriller genre was best using first person narrative. Here there are occasionally to many plot lines to keep the pacing up.

But as usual, the author throws in everything, including magic and aliens to spice things up.. and it works.

Dark Disciple

Dark Disciple
(Star Wars)
by Christie Golden (2015)

Based on unproduced scripts from the blockbuster TV show Star Wars: The Clone Wars! Set in 19 BBY.

The only way to bring down the dark side’s most dangerous warrior may be for Jedi and Sith to join forces.

The Jedi council bring together Quinlan Vos:

with Asajj Ventress:

to bring down Count Dooku.

Given that we know Dooku will not die until later, this makes an interesting read. At first, it is a bit difficult to get into, mainly due to extraneous characters that get cast aside. When the plot narrows down to the three main characters, things get more interesting. There are a lot of plot twists and characters surviving to keep the plot going. But in the end, there are losses, just not predictable ones.

So in the end, a good read for those wanting some background stories before the time of Darth Vader.

 

Ahsoka

Ahsoka
(Star Wars Disney Canon Novel)
by E.K. Johnston (2016)

This novel covers the period after Ahsoka left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars and before she re-appears as the operative Fulcrum.

Competently written, but not extraordinary.  It covers one episode where she is in hiding, the Empire arrives, she leaves and returns to save her friends.

It fills a gap between the TV series ‘The Clone Wars’ and ‘Star Wars Rebels’. But apart from that, there is little to recommend.

 

EXO-Hunter

Exo-Hunter
by Jeremy Robinson (2020)

THE YEAR IS 1989

Callsign: Dark Horse and his Marine Rapid Reaction Force team have been sent to recover a strange artefact near Antarctica’s Soviet-controlled Vostok Station. Confronted by a team of Ruskie Spetsnaz, a battle for control of the strange device, frozen in the ice, breaks out. They are transported hundreds of years to a new future, where they … ???

This has all the elements of a great Jeremy Robinson story. It has the gee-wizz technology. The witty banter and action sequences…

BUT

Just what are they doing ?

What is the mission/objective.

It just doesn’t exist, and it all feels like a series of episodes strung together without a plot. So despite the writing, I became frustrated with the non-plot and gave up after reading over half the book.