#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.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Hostage by John Ryder”

Featured New Release Of The Week: Mind Bullet by Jeremy Robinson

This week we’re looking at yet another imaginative scifi romp from The Modern Day Master of Science Fiction. This week we’re looking at Mind Bullet by Jeremy Robinson.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Avengers Level Event 2 Imminent! This book adds yet another compelling – and, by the end, truly powerful – character to the “Robinsonverse” being crafted by The Modern Day Master Of Science Fiction, Jeremy Robinson. We open up with an action packed scene showing off this character’s particular power in an awesome action scene, and we quickly get into an almost Scott Pilgrim vs The World vibe with a wide range of bad guys coming after our hero. We also get the clearest indications yet that the “Avengers Level Event 2” second crossover novel within the Robinsonverse is imminent, as certain characters appear near the 2/3 mark of the tale rather than just in the epilogue as is more normal in a Robinson book. And yes, we *also* get *another* cameo in the “after credits scene” epilogue. Truly an awesome scifi action tale, one with quite a bit of hilarity and a surprising amount of heart… and a surprising amount of F-bombs for an author not generally known for dropping them so casually. Very much recommended.

Update: After I wrote this review, Robinson officially announced his plans for what I call “Avengers Level Event 2”.

#BookReview: The Anomaly by John Sneeden

Fun Read That Veers Close To Christian Fiction. This is another quick and fun adventure/ scifi read that long time fans of this series will enjoy, and yet still works on an “episode” basis for even new readers to come into the series. (Fairly minimal connective tissue here to prior books. This is mostly a Zane tale with a couple of appearances from Carmen.) The action mostly revolves around a possible mole in the mission, with a bit of creature feature thrown in to pay off the build up to that very event – and the ending seems to set the next book in the series directly in motion. A couple of characters in particular have conversations almost never seen outside of a church, weekly church attendee gatherings, or Christian Fiction books, but those are generally no more than a page or two, and likely barely 5 pages – of the 308 here – contain these discussions. So if you’re someone who is hyper-opposed to such talk for whatever reason, know up front that it is here… but also know up front that it is nowhere near a main focus of the story, and can be fairly easily glossed over the few times it does come up. Overall a great new episode in a truly excellent series. Very much recommended.

This review of The Anomaly by John Sneeden was originally written on November 11, 2021.

#BookReview: Water Memory by Daniel Pyne

One Of The More Inventive Kill Shots I’ve Seen. It was the final fight, killing the final bad guy, so I can’t really go into details here because spoilers, but man, that one was fun. As to the rest of the tale, I don’t get all the hate on Goodreads for this book. I’ve read a lot of books across a lot of genres, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this one. Hell, the only thing that confused me about it is because I thought (from months old memories) that according to the description, I was jumping into a woman waking up on a cargo ship under attack with no memory of who she was or how she got there, but that turned out to be exactly the kind of badass that can – and does – save the day. Instead, while we still got the badass that can and does save the day, we also got a much more nuanced bad ass, with a lot of elements here – hello, sudden lesbian shower sex scene, child kidnapping, stay-at-home-dad, and assassin-with-kids, among others – not usually seen in these types of action tales. The setting, once the book got outside the US around the quarter or so mark, was mostly “Third World Sh*thole” ala most any Far Cry video game, and it actually worked quite well. I for one am very much looking forward to seeing where this series goes, and I’ll be starting Book 2 soon (as an ARC). Very much recommended.

This review of Water Memory by Daniel Pyne was originally written on October 31, 2021.

#BookReview: Falling by TJ Newman

I Just Want To Watch The World Burn. I’m of two minds on this book, so I’ll write both reviews here. 😉

Every Airplane Action Movie You’ve Ever Seen – And That Is Why It Works. Briefly looking through the other Goodreads reviews (as I do before writing my own reviews), I saw a few criticisms along the lines of “you can pretty well imagine any airplane action movie you’ve ever seen, and that is what you have here” – and, yes, that is actually valid. But need I remind readers of this review that many of those movies have made *millions* of dollars at the box office, and at least a few others have achieved a cult following over the years? There are *reasons* these movies work, and it is for these same reasons that this book works as well. Another, much more valid, reviewer noted that the opening scene – featuring a hole in the side of a falling aircraft – had absolutely nothing to do with the book, and in fact (my own point here) was immediately retconned at the beginning of Chapter 1. This, along with the visual of the cover that makes the reader think that this will be about a falling aircraft, *almost* smacks of deceptive advertising – which a careful examination of the cover shows is *barely* averted by the fact that if you remove the title and flip the image into a 3D (mathematical) plane such that one end of the cover is closer to you than the other, it is clear that the actual image is *not* of a plane *falling*, but *flying*. Which is actually the action tale we get – a man forced into a Job-esque (or perhaps Solomon-esque?) decision of watching his family be murdered… or he can murder 150 people while committing suicide. Along the way, the FBI gets involved and we get a compelling ground story, though the bit at *Yankee* Stadium (not Dodger Stadium as another reviewer noted) during the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series is in fact contrived yet cool. Ultimately even with these issues, this is still a 5* book – though yet again, I do not understand why *this* book gets all the hype and publicity while other books that are at least as good languish in obscurity.

And from the other side…

“That was then. Now I Just Want You To Burn.” Ok, so that title is a bit spoilery, as it is in fact a line that occurs late in the book. Though out of context, it is just cool. 😀 This is one action-packed book that has a few cliches – hello, ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series- yet still manages to keep the reader glued to the page, desperate to see what happens next. Like some (yet far from most) other airplane action tales, this one has a strong ground game (even the dang World Series scene turns out cool, if contrived) mostly featuring an FBI agent regularly frustrated by FBI bureaucracy and seemingly as immune to damage as Halo’s Master Chief. (Seriously, I think this dude absorbs more critical wounds than I’ve ever seen in any other action movie.) If you’re looking for a straight up “don’t think too much and just enjoy the action” type of tale, this one really is pretty dang good, up there with most any Die Hard *movie* (the books the first two Die Hard movies were based on actually had a *bit* more thinking involved, and yes, I’ve read them both – about three years ago, IIRC). While I still don’t understand the *massive* hype and publicity of this book – I’ve seen as-good-or-better tales languish in obscurity *this year* simply because they don’t have the strength of a Mega publisher behind them – again, for what it is, this book is truly solid and a really fun time.

As you can see from both lines of thinking, this book is still, even with its issues and even with my questions re: strength of publisher, very much recommended.

This review of Falling by TJ Newman was originally written on October 6, 2021.