#BookReview: Broker Of Lies by Steven James

The True Successor To Vince Flynn. That’s basically what this entire review is going to boil down to – if you liked Vince Flynn (and particularly if you object to someone else using his name on their books after his death) and have been searching for an author who can tell that type of tale at least as good as Flynn ever did… welcome to Steven James and Broker of Lies. One huge difference here is that while Mitch Rapp almost tends into superhero/ super-soldier status, our heroes here are very skilled… yet also very flawed in their own ways. Ways that enemies can exploit, if they are known. Ways that enemies do exploit here, because our heroes are not as hidden as they would like to think they are. So yes, we get a lot of different (yet fairly plausible) tech – including some fairly scary, yet known for over a decade now, ways to exploit any body scan security -, several car chases, several fight scenes of various forms from extremely up close and personal to more building level, a lot of cat and mouse, and one heck of an explosive revelation at the end that pretty easily sets up at least one more book here. This isn’t a short book, clocking in at nearly 420 pages, but that last 20% or so in particular… you’re not going to want to put this book down through that stretch at minimum. Very much recommended.

This review of Broker Of Lies by Steven James was originally written on December 9, 2022.

#BookReview: Khaos by Jeremy Robinson

The New God Of Science Fiction Strikes With His Best Yet. Robinson, the New God of Science Fiction, squarely takes on an element of scifi/ fantasy that he has been circling a bit tangentially for a few books now via Mind Bullet and Tribe in particular, and in this particular book takes the characters from both of those former books + The Dark and combines them into an “Avengers” crossover event… to travel through Khaos and encounter many creatures from the Greek myths. In classic Robinson style, we get a lot of heart, a lot of action, a lot of banter… and in the end… well… you’re going to want to have SINGULARITY, the final book in the Infinite Timelines “MCU approach to storytelling” event, in your hands the moment you finish this book. Yet again, Robinson proves himself capable of using any element of science fiction and spinning his own unique brand of chaotic action into it, masterfully telling his stories his way incorporating any form of prior science fiction, from the ancient to the bleeding edge. Truly masterful, and very much recommended.

This review of Khaos by Jeremy Robinson was originally written on October 8, 2022.

#BookReview: Emerald Dragon by David Wood

Solid And Short Maddock Adventure Perfect For Longtime Fans And People New To The Universe. Much like Golden Dragon a couple of books prior to this one, this is another short adventure – though at 120 pages, it is nearly double the length of Golden Dragon. It also has seemingly slightly fewer connections and references to other pars of the Maddock universe, though it has several connections to Golden Dragon – which is why readers should make sure they read that book first. (Seriously, buy both and you’ll likely finish both while waiting at the doctor’s office. :D) Here, we’re in Ireland and when you’re studying cryptids and ancient mysteries in Ireland… you get St. Patrick. And dragons. And lots of green stuff. And pagans. And old libraries and castles and crypts. When you’re *Maddock and Bones* virtually anywhere, you know there are going to be fun chase and hand to hand combat sequences, with a few guns going off here and there to boot and maybe some interesting mystical objects that turn out to be weapons of various forms. So pick this book up, have a couple of hours of relaxation and fun… and then go back to whatever awaits you in the “real” world, happier now that you’ve had the break. Very much recommended.

This review of Emerald Dragon by David Wood was originally written on September 2, 2022.

#BookReview: Toxic Effects by Joel Shulkin

Complex Story With More Action Than Medical. I came into this book after having won an ARC of it in the Readers Coffeehouse (Facebook group) Great Big Book Giveaway Day 2022 and having not read Book 1 (Adverse Effects). Honestly, with the amount of story that happened before this book began (that gets repeatedly referenced when necessary here – in case anyone wants to avoid spoilers from that book), it seemed like this book was *much* deeper into the series than just Book 2. I honestly thought this was somewhere in the Book 3 – 5 range as I was reading it.

And while the overall story here is absolutely more action based than medical – though there is certainly a major medical mystery happening – and *is* very complex (more complex than say a typical Crichton, less complex than say a Robert Ludlum Bourne series book), it is also quite interesting and compelling. Shulkin here manages to take some scifi-ish concepts (ala, arguably most famously, Total Recall) and combine them with some more modern dissociative identity stories (ala Kerry Lonsdale’s Everything trilogy) to create an innovative mythos and rare (in my vast reading) hero and villain who each share the same condition and use it in completely different ways.

As complex as this is – and perhaps those coming from Book 1 won’t find it as complex – this is also one of the more interesting overall mythoi I’ve found in recent years, and I will absolutely be back for the next book, whenever that may come. Very much recommended.

This review of Toxic Effects by Joel Shulkin was originally written on August 25, 2022.

#BookReview: Fatal Conflict by Matt Hilton

Reacher Fans, Meet Tess, Po, and Pinky. This is a somewhat standard mystery-with-badass-heroes where there is a baddy (in this case, a team of them) who does bad things (we find out, and it is pretty dang terrible – though fortunately the worst of it is off screen and in the past, relative to our current story), and the hero of the series (heroes, in this case) meet up with the baddy through some circumstance… which the baddy winds up not appreciating in the end. 😉 Within this scope, this is Hilton’s particular blend of charm, wit, charisma, and caring. As with the entire series, you find yourself wanting to see what happens to Tess, Po, and Pinky next – which is the hallmark of any solid procedural. The *singular* reason for the single star deduction is that COVID (and masking) are mentioned heavily throughout the book, and *I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID*. I am on a one-man war to eliminate this topic from fiction, but the only weapon I really have is this single star deduction – and so I use it on every book I read that mentions COVID, and I mention why in every review. Still, for readers who aren’t as adamant about this position as I am or even those who may disagree, there really was nothing too objectionable about this entry in this long running series, and quite a bit of fun escapism (minus the COVID aspects). Very much recommended.

This review of Fatal Conflict by Matt Hilton was originally written on June 6, 2022.

#BookReview: Deep Green by Rick Chesler

Breathless Adventure With A Ripped-From-The-Headlines Hook. This is one of those adventure tales that doesn’t sound like it would be an adventure tale… until you read it and realize it is an adventure tale. 😀 Ostensibly, this is a near-future tale of the race to find a full-on *cure* for COVID-19. Not just a drug or vaccine to alleviate some symptoms, but an actual cure for the disease. Along the way, we get quite a bit of real-world commentary smoothly rolled into the overall plot so that even while it really *is* kind of preachy… it doesn’t actually *feel* like it is kind of preachy. There is quite a bit within these sections that some readers will be more familiar with than others, but which anyone outside of academia generally and Big Pharma specifically will likely learn a touch about how things actually work. Which is always interesting to see in fiction. Ultimately the single star deduction here was not for the quality of the tale – it really was excellent – but instead because Chesler uses the race for a *COVID-19* cure, rather than literally any other disease. It is an excellent attempt to tap into the current zeitgeist (though one might argue a race for a cure would have been even more buzzworthy in 2021, prior to full vaccine rollouts), but I am waging a personal war against any book that mentions COVID for any reason at all, and the automatic one star deduction is really the only tool at my disposal in this war. Very much recommended.

This review of Deep Green by Rick Chesler was originally written on May 6, 2022.

#BookReview: Never Go Home by Christopher Swann

Wherein My Own Reading Habits Do Me In. The story itself here was an excellent romp through mostly northern, Inside The Perimeter, Atlanta, and a great tale of a woman who has become quite good at skills few have. Maybe it got a touch bogged down in the backstory in Iraq, but before that point – when our main character is trying to really figure out what is going on – and after that point – when the tale switches gears to a cat and mouse game with someone even better at these skills than she is – this is actually a remarkably different book than its predecessor. It also *ends* with the title… which blatantly sets up at least one more book in this series.

But here’s where my reading habits did me in: I never once realized that this book was the sequel to 2020’s Never Turn Back while reading it. Because I had read 434 books between the two entries in this series. Yes, over a span of just 17 months or so. Indeed, I only realized it was the sequel when coming to Goodreads to write this review and seeing it labeled as “Faulkner Family #2, then reading both the description and my review of Never Turn Back.

So do yourself a favor: Don’t wait hundreds of books between the two in this series – and when you finish this one, you’re going to wish Swann already had Book 3 ready to put in your hands (which he may have, depending on when you read this review/ read this book). Very much recommended.

This review of Never Go Home by Christopher Swann was originally written on May 16, 2022.

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Finalist by Joan Long

This week we’re looking at a great bit of escapist fiction set on a tropical island and written by a debut author. This week we’re looking at The Finalist by Joan Long.

Solid Debut. This is one of those books where the premise draws you in, and the author begins executing with the very first page. Solid mystery/ action tale of murders happening on a supposedly secure remote tropical island, this one does a bit of setup before the murders start, but once they do the action picks up reasonably well and stays reasonably well paced through the end. Ultimately one where you can see the promise of this author’s ability, while also still showing some things that need some improvement generally. Still, this reader for one is looking forward to Long’s next book. Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Vital Lies by Daniel Pyne

This week we’re looking at the second book in Daniel Pyne’s Aubrey Sentro series of spy action thrillers. This week we’re looking at Vital Lies by Daniel Pyne.

Fast Paced Action Thriller. This is a spy thriller for those who like more of the pacing of a Jeremy Robinson / Matthew Reilly / James Rollins action thriller. It isn’t *quite* so action packed / always-on-the-move as those guys, but it is a solid blend of their style of insane and unexpected action combined with a more Robert Ludlum (Bourne series) level complex spy game.

Whereas the first book focused to a certain degree on Sentro’s older child, here the focus is more with her younger child as Sentro continues to try to repair their broken relationships… while getting drug into the very life she is trying to leave.

There are elements here that will give some pause – including a fairly brutal yet also passing/ flash-in-the-pan rape scene that works within the context of the story being told – but overall this is a great read for those who like a *touch* of thinking with their action… without having to be a Stephen Hawking level intellect to keep track of everything. Truly a great read, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Pyne takes this next. Very much recommended.

#BlogTour: The Hostage by John Ryder

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a tale that is essentially a retelling of the Biblical story of Job… in a modern action thriller context. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Hostage by John Ryder.

What Would Job Do? For those unfamiliar with the Biblical story of Job, Job was the most honorable man on Earth. One day, God and Satan decided to test Job to see if he would ever turn his back on God, in any situation. And… that is where the tie to this book comes in. Meet Jerome. Jerome is a stand-up guy that generally tries to help people where he can and is known to all – certainly to his superiors at work – as an absolutely honest man. So what is this man going to do when he wakes up to guns pointed at himself and his wife, and his wife kidnapped to ensure his compliance with the scheme of the kidnappers? Well… you’re going to have to read this explosive yet realistic (within reason, this *is* fiction) tale to find out. Very well crafted, this book does a tremendous job of keeping you in the heads of both Jerome and his wife, Alicia, as they try to stay alive long enough to figure a way out of this mess. This is one of those books that will keep you guessing and racing to the end… even as it has a few unconventional elements that might make you think there is no possible way the author can keep the tale going that much longer. He does, and you’ll be glad he does. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” – including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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