Solid Adventure W/ The Promised Christian Apocalyptic Themes. Going into this review, I was going to call out the heavy use of a particular version of Christian eschatological (end times) thinking, one that the reader of both this review and this book may or may not agree with/ have issues with (but you should absolutely read this book even if you do, as it *does* work within-world). But then I noticed the description of the book, and a careful reading there actually points the reader to knowing that these themes will be there. So hey, you’ve now been warned both in the description and in this review. Still, again, even if you are die-hard 100% adamantly opposed to believing anything remotely similar to this strain of thought… read this tale anyway. It is more action/ adventure/ spy thriller than anything overly Christian, and even when it gets into its (several) eschatological discussions, it isn’t preachy about it. Instead, the tale lays out the in-world reasons for thinking this way, and as this is admittedly a fiction tale, it never actually makes “real”-world claims about the authenticity of any of them. Yes, prayer and conversion are also discussed here, but again, always in world and never overly preachy, and those familiar with American conservative evangelicalism will likely be familiar with most of the speech patterns used here. (Even if you’re not familiar with that particular version of Christianity, it will be close enough and explained well enough in-world to follow along.)
No matter what else, this is absolutely a fun adventure with tinges of the scifi, and absolutely worth the read no matter your thoughts on any “real”-world issue. Very much recommended.
This review of The Ezekiel Code by John Sneeden was originally written on November 7, 2023.
Middle Ages Mediterranean Adventure. One of the interesting things for me when reading this book is that David Wood released his book Baal just a couple of weeks before this one came out, and both books are rather similar at the highest of levels – in that both are adventure books touring the Mediterranean Sea region in search of lost treasures. Separated by a few hundred years and thus with completely different specifics as far as character motivations, transportation, weapons used, cultures, etc. And to be clear, with Beth Morrison – an apparently renowned Medieval period scholar – as coauthor here, the actual historical aspects – from the various factions involved to the different cultures of the various Italian cities to even exactly how different things worked and who would have what skillsets, are apparently spot-on, so best as I could tell anyway. Paired with her brother Boyd’s action story sensibilities, once again the two create a spectacular historical fiction tale that anyone interested in any modern action/ adventure tale can also love – and showing those who “only” read historical fiction that modern tales can also be just as great. Overall truly an outstanding book, and I hope these siblings can continue to work together for many more books to come. Very much recommended.
This review of The Last True Templar by Boyd Morrison and Beth Morrison was originally written on September 28, 2023.
Wild Ride Action Adventure. This one has everything – exotic (at least to American audiences) locations throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, unintentional/ intentional skydiving, long distance endurance swimming, running from bad guys via various means, lots of guns, a few explosions here and there… and a touch of the mystic, just because this *is* Maddock and Bones and, well, that’s kind of what they do these days in particular. 🙂 This time, they’re back with the more complete team, and as such this *is* one of the longer, more involved adventures – this isn’t one of the shortish adventures that may be able to be read in an hour or two, but it also isn’t so long as to feel out of place in the overall series or genre. So sit back, strap in, and enjoy the ride. Very much recommended.
This review of Baal by David Wood and C.B. Matson was originally written on September 16, 2023.
Good Change Of Pace After The Last ‘Trilogy’. The prior three books in the Sigma Force series proved to be almost an in-series ‘trilogy’, with a lot of events playing directly off prior events. Here, we get a good change of pace – Kowalski actually starts the tale, and he has some major things going on. Gray and Seichan come in later, when things get a bit more hairy, and Kat and Monk, and even Painter, are barely mentioned at all after playing major roles in the prior books. The actual story here is one of the more intriguing in the series, particularly with more modern findings establishing that at least parts of the Illiad and Odyssey may have been factual. Rollins then does his thing with combining history and science into fascinating “what-ifs”, with plenty of action and drama and double crossings to boot. If you’re reading these – or virtually any – action/ adventure books expecting 100% realism… well, you’re probably *really* fun at parties, aren’t you? (/sarcasm) For the rest of us looking for a few hundred pages of fun escapism… let’s go on a romp from one end of the Mediterranean to the other, with a couple of stops in some other places to boot, shall we? Very much recommended.
This review of The Last Odyssey by James Rollins was originally written on July 1, 2023.
Like Riding A Bike. It had been quite a while – and a few *thousand* books – since I read the prior book in this series. In the intervening years, I’ve started a few different bookish projects, begun reviewing every book I read, and even met Mr. Rollins himself a few years ago, just before the insanities took over the world. And yet coming back into the world of Sigma Force, to pick up here with Book 12 as I gear up to read an Advance Reviewer Copy of the upcoming Book 17, Tides of Fire, was truly like riding a bike. Even across all the years and all the books, Rollins told enough of the backstory here for me to be able to remember what was going on in this world – without rehashing every minor detail. For example, he would mention Monk’s prosthetic hand… without going into the details of that mission (book) and how he lost it. So this made it quite easy indeed to get into the groove of this particular book… and boy, what a book.
There have been several various scifi tales over the years seeking to explain some or all of the Plagues of Moses, and yet Rollins here manages to do it in a way I’d never seen before, while incorporating several other wide ranging myths and techs as well… as Rollins does. So while the driving force is the Plagues of Moses (and one of them in particular), we also see Nikola Tesla and some of the mysteries around his life. We see the mystery of the elephant graveyard. We even get appearances from both David Livingstone *and* Mark Twain. And cutting edge discoveries such as a strange new class of bacteria.
All rolled up into one action packed, near balls to the wall, globe trotting adventure trying to save the world before the forces of… well, misguidedness, let’s call it in this case… can try to destroy it in their hubris.
Truly a fun read, and one I’m glad I’ve come back to after all these years. Very much recommended.
This review of The Seventh Plague by James Rollins was originally written on June 3, 2023.
Next Up. Yet again, Wood shows that he knows his characters and audience quite well – this is yet another excellent Maddock and Bones tale with both of them working together, along with a wide range of the friends they’ve picked up over the years, to solve some puzzle involving some long lost artifact. We get the same banter and action that the audience has come to expect, and we get the same quick (120 page or so) tale that has come to typify these later works in particular – meaning they’re never too much of a time commitment even for people new to the series. Though this one does reference *several* prior tales, so those who are anti-spoiler absolutists… well, this *is* listed as Book 15 of the series… 😀 The addition of an in-world park that is clearly distinct from, yet also clearly similar to, a certain real world park with complexes in both Los Angeles and Florida is even better, with quite a few solid jokes (and some mild, one-line and move on type, commentary). Adventure fans and/ or anyone looking for a quick read that could likely be completed while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, look over here. Very much recommended.
This review of Desert Gold by David Wood was originally written on May 2, 2023.
Indiana Jones Meets The Mummy Meets Starship Troopers. Ok, ok. Indiana Jones and The Mummy are self explanatory, Sexton. Both of those are adventure stories that take place in the same basic time period, and if you’ve got an adventure in that period that goes to Egypt at all, ok, The Mummy comparison works. We get it. (Sexton notes that it also works due to actual events late in the book…) But WTF dude???? How the HELL can you compare *that* type of book to Starship FREAKING Troopers? Are you out of your FREAKING mind???? (Sexton explains that there is a particular creature in this tale – foreshadowed by events earlier in the tale – that is at least somewhat reminiscent of a particular bug in the movie form of Starship Troopers, one of Sexton’s favorite movies that he can just turn on and let run any time. Enough for his brain to make the connection, at least. 😉 )
But enough of my internal discussion here. Seriously, this is yet another solid adventure from Wood, and one that actually manages to connect this series to Woods’ more extensive one in a rather blatant way… that you’ll have to read the book to find out. Very much recommended.
This review of Curse Of The Pharoah by David Wood was originally written on April 1, 2023.
Perfect – and Perfectly Short – Dane Maddock Adventure. This is one of those tales that is *deep* within a series… and yet still manages to work *perfectly* as an introduction to this character and this author’s style of storytelling. At less than 40 pages, this is a *very* quick read and thus near-perfect for those who maybe don’t know who Maddock or Wood are and maybe don’t want to risk too much time in finding out. After all, investing 300+ pages into a character/ story only to find that you can’t stand the character or the way the author writes can be daunting. I get it. So try this one on for size if you don’t know them already… and prepare to become addicted after your first hit! (Long time fans will still be satisfied as well, if in the way a good amuse-bouche can be satisfying.) Very much recommended.
This review of Thunder Mountain by David Wood was originally written on March 2, 2023.
Another Fun And Hilarious Bones Adventure. Yet again we find Bones getting called off in search of some cryptid and getting sucked into some minor-ish mystery, with all of the usual tracking, fighting, wisecracking, and bone cracking this generally entails with this character. Another short tale at barely 120 pages (in the Kindle edition anyway), this is an easy read perfect for when you need a quick break from reality. As it does heavily reference characters from previous Bones adventures, those at minimum are recommended reading before this one, even if you don’t want to get into the larger Maddock universe quite yet (which is also very much recommended and more tangentially referenced, as in nothing there plays a truly essential role here the way characters from prior Bones stories do). As always here, very much looking forward to the next one and this one is very much recommended.
This review of Lair Of The Swamp Witch by David Wood was originally written on January 28, 2023.
WTF – Welcome To Florida. This is one of those sprawling South Florida/ Everglades “Florida Man” stories that are so extremely entertaining even in the real life versions, and here comedic story master Dave Barry pulls no punches. Similar in tone and style to Jimmy Buffet’s A Salty Piece Of Land, there *is* some social/ societal commentary here – but it is buried in a tale that is so “unrealistically real” (as another reviewer noted) that it is one of those “jokes with a point” that are freaking hilarious – yet also perhaps a touch too real. Specifically, much of the commentary in this particular tale revolves around social media and “fame”/ “celebrity”, and Barry’s observations here – baked into the overall narrative of the tale – are quite biting. And yet… the over the top insanity humor is never far away, and is ultimately the driving force of the tale. If you’ve been experiencing too much seriousness in your “real” life or in your reading and you need a break from all the death, drama, and destruction… this is the perfect getaway, no matter where you may physically be or what time of year it may be where you are. Very much recommended.
This review of Swamp Story by Dave Barry was originally written on December 31, 2022.