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.
Get Lost In The Wonder. This is another Kerry Anne King book where she manages to take a delightfully flawed protagonist and spin a tale of wonder (and wander) around her. Set in the apparently lovely (if all the house buying shows I’ve watched on Discovery+ are to be believed, I’ve never been within 1,000 miles of the location) San Juan Islands of Washington State, this book shows off a small island town bound to its tourism cycle remarkably well. Along the way we get a touch of a pair of romances, some mysterious-yet-light happenings, a pair of tragedies, and a treasure hunt to end all treasure hunts. Truly a great tale of adventure and finding yourself in unexpected places. Very much recommended.
This review of Improbably Yours by Kerry Anne King was originally written on October 15, 2022.
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.
This week we’re looking at arguably the closest Rick Chesler has come to date of telling a tale one would nearly swear could have been written by the late great Michael Crichton. This week, we’re looking at Extremophile by Rick Chesler.
Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
Welcome To Our Ool. Notice There Is No “P” In It. Seriously though, after reading this book you’re never going to look at getting into a pool the same again – and certainly will be particularly careful about any sudden urges to just urinate in one. 😉 Overall a very fun, nearly Crichton-esque, adventure tale of a biotech CEO desperate to save his company and willing to go literally anywhere in the world to do so. And that ending. It won’t be for everyone, but dayum I loved it. Great, fun near future scifi adventure and a relatively short read at 230 ish pages. Perfect for a bit of summer thrills and escapism. Very much recommended.
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.