Tuesday, July 26, 2011

'Full Black' by Brad Thor

Def: “Black Operation” or “Black Ops” is a covert operation typically involving activities that are highly clandestine and often outside of standard military protocol or even against the law.

Def: “Full Black” – a black operation on a six-pack of Red Bull.

Harvath is back and he’s in the rare position of having worked a couple of operations that have gone horribly wrong.  Because of this, the sand cowards will unleash an attack on America that shocked even me.  The maniacal nutcase in this book is named James Standing; a billionaire that hates capitalism (figure THAT out).  He has the power, the money, the connections, the strategy, and the brain damage to plan for the destruction and forced socialism of America.

The amount of destruction reeked in this book is pretty staggering even for Thor.  As with all of Thor’s books, your reading will struggle to keep up with the pace as danger and honor come from all sides and every corner of the globe.  ‘Full Black’ is Thor doing what Thor does best; stomping the hell out of the radical Islamic terrorist cowards by our favorite human superhero, Scot Harvath.  Thor’s books are always current, political, steeped in action, and more than a little controversial.  This one is going to tick off a LOT of people.  On the menu this time, socialism. 

Now, I will be honest and say that this book was the first time that I’ve ever felt that Brad was preaching at me.  I know that a lot of people (usually the ones who don’t agree with him) have felt that way about his work in the past.  It’s no secret as to where Brad stand politically but I never felt like it took away from the story until now.  There is a small section near the middle of the book where he just goes off!  And I don’t mean like your backyard 4th of July going off, I’m talking the six barge San Diego 4th of July bang-slam-a-jamma going off!!  Usually Brad does his “preaching” within the context of the story amongst the bullets and blood, but this time I felt it was different. 

The paradox here is that I agree with Brad but as a reader it caught me by surprise.  That’s the only hiccup but I felt it was worth mentioning.  He does some more preaching in this book but it was within the context of the story.  The conversation between James Standing and Julia is just pure brilliance!  I think he needs to cut and paste that into an email and send it to the yahoo’s in Washington.  The difference was that it was within the context of the story and that’s what made it powerful.  Some of you may think that I’m off my rocker but I’d love to hear what you think when you read it.

The Carlton Group comes across information about a series of attacks that will not only collapse America financially but collapse us… period.  The plans of the terrorists are bold in scope and they have the full backing of socio-psychopath (is that a word)?  It’s hard to believe that Washington could get any friendlier to the terrorists… but they have.  Harvath has had enough and devises a plan so dark and so off the books he must go “Full Black”.  (No spoilers) Unfortunately, despite his best planning and his dance with lady luck, things happen that will make you wonder how things can ever be the same again in America.

Despite that little hiccup in the middle, I highly recommend this next installment of the “don’t ‘F’ with America cause Scot Harvath is back” series.  


Friday, July 22, 2011

'Caligula' by Douglas Jackson

I had a lot of fun reading this book.  I bought this book at face value based only on the title and cover.  Well… not really.  A friend of mine suggested I read Mr. Jackson because I was looking for another who wrote fictional books on Rome.  The initial gut feeling I got when I saw the cover was a good one and you should always go with your gut.  Once I read the prologue I knew I had my next book.  The main character is a slave named Rufus, and Rufus has a special gift of working with animals.  Because of this his life is put on a collision course with the infamous Roman emperor Caligula. 

Now despite this book being named ‘Caligula’ it really deals more with Rufus than that depraved cretin.  Like I said Rufus has a special gift and he is bought (more like stolen) from his current master to serve the emperor.  Caligula has an elephant and has hired Rufus to care for her.  Of course this being Rome and Rome being the beautiful ancient enigma she is, nothing is what it seems.  Even olives carry the hint of conspiracies.  Before Rufus started his corporate job as the Emperors elephant keeper he was a slave and semi-reluctant friend of his master named Fronto.

Fronto recognizes Rufu’s gifts and teaches him probably more than a master should teach a slave.  Because of this they develop a bond and this bond leads Rufus to meet Cupido.  Cupido is a gladiator and one of the best of his time.  He’s a killer through and through but to call him a reluctant killer wouldn’t place you far from the mark.  Two slaves with a unique friendship, haunted by their demons, and ruled by a man that is crazier than Slingblade wearing a nut-coat hanging out on the Green Mile. 

Both men have to deal with everyday life in Rome as well as the brutal mood swings of Caligula.  We all know how insane Caligula was but it’s still a shock to read about, in graphic detail mind you, some of the things he does for sport.  Despite the many duties an Emperor must perform to keep Rome running, it’s one that he can’t mention that is the most important.  Assassination.  The way nutty Caligula thought, to mention it was to make it so.  So how Rufus and Cupido get caught up in such a conspiracy is pretty much the center of this story.  “All roads lead to Rome”, right?  Douglas Jackson thrills us with numerous storylines that will make you laugh, cringe, cry, and shiver all before converging and leading us toward an “ending”. 

There really is so much here within these pages that you’ll forgive me for not touching on them all.  (NO SPOILERS)… a few things you should be on the lookout for though… who Caligula chooses for Rufu’s wife, what Caligula chooses as his game of choice after dinner, his…ummmm… interrogation techniques,  what was blocking the Cloaca Palatina, and his unique and brutally horrific punishment of someone who he deemed a traitor.  With all of the brutality that I read and crave, even this one made me whisper a quiet “damn”.  I really enjoy the way certain authors end their books, and Douglas’s last sentence cemented me as a fan.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Open Letter to the African-American Media

To: All African-American Media Outlets

“If you want to hide something from a Black person put it in a book”.

It seems that statement has been around as long as time itself.  Unfortunately, as old as that statement is, it is still sadly very relevant today.  Reading is the fundamental backbone of everything we do in society.  While our (African-American) authors are working harder than ever, writing more than ever, and self-promoting more than ever, they are fighting an uphill battle.  The battle is making our authors more visible in the eyes of our people.

While our African-American entertainment shows are popular now more than ever, you have reached that pinnacle by blatantly ignoring one of the most important contributors to our societyAuthors.  We celebrate our actors, our musicians, and our athletes, but not composers of the written word.  Our authors, on a consistent basis, populate the New York Times Bestseller Lists but do not populate your guest lists.  This is an omission that must not continue.  Our authors are some of the most intelligent, insightful, and humorous scholars the literary fraternity has to offer.  They need to be treated with the respect they have more than earned. 

Please don’t misunderstand me.  These authors don’t want a handout, nor are they sitting around waiting for one.  They are grinding hard and being extremely creative in promoting their craft.  And with book industry struggling to find a new identity in the world of e-books and closing bookstores and libraries, the need for exposing our literature is great.  We do not have the luxury to wait for someone else to do it.

YOU must take responsibility now for your lack of action.  When was the last time you had an author on your program?  When was the last time you even asked?  The fastest demographic for new readers is our young adults.  You know the young people that we are grooming to run this world?  What message are you sending them when you fawn over everything but books?  I’m not asking for anything huge.  I don’t even think I’m asking for anything unreasonable.  You have no problem inviting actors when they are starring in a film.  Why not make the first step and inviting the person that wrote the book that film is based on?

Our authors are superstars.  Our authors are literary wizards.  Our authors influence beyond the pen.  Our authors produce masterpieces.  Remember how you felt when you read ‘The Color Purple’, or ‘Roots’, or ‘Makes Me Wanna Holler’, or ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’, or ‘Kindred’?  What about ‘Devil In A Blue Dress’?  That same inspiring literary art is still going on today carried on by authors that are as much fans of the craft as they are creators.  To continue to ignore them is to continue to insult them. 

Who am I?  I’m a book lover.  I manage one of the few remaining Independent bookstores in California and it hurts to see my book industry in such turmoil.  It hurts to see the authors I love and support, struggle to get people to read.  It hurts when I know that this could have been fixed, yesterday.  All I’m asking is that you save a couple jokes and trivial news about the current hot celebrity and put on someone who is already creating an influence.  

To be clear, our media is not to blame for our apathetic view on books and reading, but you have not done anything to help either.  In this situation, complacency is just as bad as illiteracy.  Thank you for your time and ear.

Jason Frost – RubiconReader

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

'The $64,000 Question'

Today I participated in an internet conversation about how African American (AA) books and authors are not getting their due.  This was based on a conversation started on the FaceBook page of author Victoria Christopher Murray about why she isn’t a fan of ‘The Help’.  The onus was “why is it when an AA writer pens a book about US it doesn’t generate buzz.  But when a white person writes a book about us it garners praises, literary prizes, and movie rights”.  ‘The Help’ was written by Kathryn Stockett and the two AA books that were being used as “control” were ‘Wench’ by Dolen Perkins-Valdez and ‘Glorious’ by Bernice L. McFadden. 

It was a good discussion that made you feel bad and good at the same time.  Good because you had a page full of people talking, sharing, laughing, sympathizing, debating, all for the love of books.  Bad, because we all see a problem and are not quite sure on how to fix it.  Our authors are writing VERY good books, the readers are chatting it up and reviewing the books, and the bookstores are closing.  Oops.  The purpose of this blog is to answer one of the questions posed by Bernice L. McFadden; “what do we need to do”?  I commented that it was the $64,000 question and others were stumped as well.  So tonight as I was making my bologna and egg sandwiches I jotted a few ideas, thought about them for a few seconds, and decided to write this blog.

So… “What do we need to do”?  Taking everything into consideration I think we (the AA book community) need EXPOSURE!  Discussions on authors FaceBook pages, book talk radio, and blogs are all good but the problem is we are preaching to the choir.  If someone tunes into a book talk radio it’s because they want to be there.  It isn’t like some show on NBC that you keep on only because you are too lazy to look for the remote.  You have to actively GO to a website to listen.  Same with an author’s website or FB page.  Yes, you might have joined as a fan in the beginning, but if you participate in discussions it is because you WANT to.  You initiate the contact.  What we need to do is get to the people who ARE NOT reading.  How?  EXPOSURE.

I know advertising takes money but that is only one venue.  We need to call out OUR media to take some responsibility for their lack of participation.  When was the last time you saw an author on ‘106 & Park’?  I’m calling them out because that show is extremely popular what a ton of influence.  We have numerous authors who would LOVE to have the opportunity, to talk about their book for a few minutes.  I work in a bookstore and I can tell you this for a fact: the fastest growing demographic for readers now is young adult women.  But not young Black women.  The young adult market has blown up as of late due in part to a number of extremely popular series.  So much so that authors that have usually written only for adults are now writing for teens.  Can you imagine how inspiring it would be to have a beautiful, articulate Black woman taking the books she has written?  Imagine a ReShonda Tate Billingsly or a Victoria Christopher Murray speaking to a group of young black women?  Pipe dream?  I don’t think so.

I watch '106 & Park' and they have plenty of time to showcase authors, especially with some of the dumb stuff they put on there to fill in time.  Black men have always brought up the rear in the demographic that reads the least.  Want to change that?  Put Eric Jerome Dickey and let them hear… let them HEAR how intelligent and traveled this brother is.  Let them bask in his sense of humor as I have, let them read about Driver… about Gideon.  And since I’m not the type of person (like some) to put down “street lit”, while you’re at it, put K’wan in front of the camera and watch him grind.  Something like this is NEEDED to help with the exposure.  And it can happen… tomorrow.  And I don’t want to hear about the weak excuses as to why it can't be done.  If ‘106 & Park’ can take time to talk to some B-rated rapper then can easily take the time to welcome a New York Times Best Selling author.  They have an obligation to promote the written word, one on which they have fallen embarrassingly short. 

The NAACP Image Awards.  While having a category for literature, does not show the awards live.  This needs to change as of yesterday.  I’m not saying you need to do every category but is two too much to ask?   And with the celebrities in attendance you mean to tell me that you can’t let Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Walter Mosley, or Nikki Giovanni say a few words about the craft that they helped shape?  Again, I’m talking about EXPOSURE.  We all know that anything sells better if you put it in the face of the masses.  I have no doubt that this would be the same with books.  Don’t believe me?  OK then, explain the feeding frenzy that comes when a movie is release based on a book.  Even if the book has been out for YEARS!  Before ‘Twilight’ how many commercials did you see promoting Stephanie Meyer?  Before ‘Precious’ how many magazine adds did you see for ‘Push’?  Hell, even with Harry Potter I didn’t see J.K. Rowling books on the big screen in New York before the movies came out!

If you build it, they will come.

If we would take advantage of what we already have to help with what authors are already doing, I think we can turn this apathy for reading around.  One of the few authors that actually advertise on TV is James Patterson.  Now before you say “but he’s rich”!  1. Yeah… he is.  2. His commercials aren’t all that.  His latest commercial has him standing holding his book looking at the camera 60% of the time.  We can’t do that?  Why can’t we do better than that?  We might not be able to advertise on primetime TV but we can make a commercial.  Can’t we?  Please don’t think I’m making this to be simple, I’m not.  I just think that we need to FIND a way to get the EXPOSURE.  If there is a movie based on a book, why not show a short trailer of the book before the movie?  Give the author a few minutes to speak about their work, make it fun, and then start the 46 minutes of trailers.  The more I think about it, the more sense that makes.  Movie theatres have every toy, t-shirt, and stupid widget known to man and Klingon in their lobbies promoting the movie, why not the book?

Even if a movie isn’t based on the book why could you still not promote a book in the same genre?  Have Kimberla Lawson Roby introduce a T.D. Jakes movie.  Zane could introduce the next ‘Basic Instinct’ movie. (hehehehehehe).  Stephen Carter, the next John Grisham.  I work in the book industry so I know money is tight everywhere, but I think in order to save our industry we must re-invest in our industry.  Borders Books announced today that they will close every single one of their stores.  Books-A-Million said they might buy 50 of the stores.  Good for them.  Re-invest in the industry.  Most of the authors I know bust their butt on tour and even drive themselves around using their own money.  Re-invest in the industry.  One author has started her own chapter-a-month website.  Re-invest in the industry.  How about an ad or three in ‘Ebony’ magazine? 

Can you tell me what day and time gets the lowest viewer ratings?  Sunday morning from 5am-9am.  Why not use this time, in the beginning, to have a 30-minute segment about books on BET?  I would venture to guess that a small segment on the hottest AA books out is a tad more important than an infomercial on the newest way to boil your veggies.  I’d be happy with that because it’s a step in the right direction.  I don’t expect a book segment on The Source Awards, but BET and the NAACP Images Awards should be a no brainer.  We always hear that “we should stick together”.  We lovingly, and at times not so lovingly, call each other brotha' and sista'.  So let’s start acting like it.  Brothers and sisters are family.  Family helps family. 

There needs to be more pride in our written word and those who write it.  Just because society as a whole has fallen off into the non-reading sink hole does not mean that we should follow suit.  Matter of fact, we need to grab a cement truck full of books and plug said hole.  We should set the pace for once instead of following.  It all starts with one.  Who will be first?  To her credit Monique has had a few authors on but she can do better.  Steve Harvey can do a lot better.  Wendy Williams, if she could read, would probably have authors on.  As a bookstore manager I am always in the position of having to think of ways to get people to read books.  I’m always thinking of a book contest or something quirky to post or write.  We are in the position that we must think outside the box.  Did I not see somewhere where Mary B. Morrison had a Lexus dealership to sponsor one of her book functions?  THAT was a very unique move.  EXPOSURE.  That will be the difference between ‘The Help’ being made into a blockbuster movie and ‘Glorious’ being made into a Lifetime movie.

Most people think that the #1 revenue for bookstores is bestsellers.  Most people would be wrong, its book signings.  Wanna take a swat at what #2 is?  Its recommendations by staff.  Let me say that again, with all the useless coupons being forced down our throat and all the gaudy in-store signs, the #2 revenue for bookstores are staff recommendations.  IE: word of mouth.  Believe it.  I’ve seen it, I do it, and I swear by it.  I remember last year (I think) when Victoria Christopher Murray said how phenomenal ‘Perfect Peace’ by Daniel Black was.  She started a wildfire!  So fierce was her word, that for a while Ingram's stock on that book was on back order.  I ordered two for my store and kept reordering to keep it in stock.  A few months later two young ladies came in and were checking out my AA section.  They were shocked and excited that we had the books and bought BOTH copies because they couldn’t find it anywhere … and … AND one of them had taken his class.  Small world huh?

Nothing makes me feel better than reading a thread and seeing authors that I know and love respond to the thread.  REAL authors support other authors and know that the world of the written word is not a place for competition.  Because I’m a book reviewer I have a special place in my heart for my kin.  We do a special job because we love what we do.  This is how we contribute.  This is how we do our part.  This is our shouting from the mountaintop.  But even with the work that we do, the authors, and the publisher, it’s still tough out there.  We are a multi-facetted society.  OUR media needs to be the same.  OUR media needs to get just as excited about the new Carleen Brice book as they do about the new Tyler Perry film.  OUR people need to see more authors, writers, publisher, in their everyday life.  OUR media needs to be taught to respect and honor the craft.  OUR society needs to see that reading isn’t just some passing fad; it’s the first step in keeping the populace educated. 

It’s all about EXPOSURE.  Give a man a fish you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.  Give a man a book and he’ll read for a day, teach him what to read and he’ll read for a lifetime.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

'G-Spot 2 Pride: The 1st Deadly Sin' by Noire

‘G-Spot’, to this day is my absolute favorite Noire book.  Hands down, no contest, end of story.  That book was so brutal, so raw, so real, and so sexual that there are still passages that I read to this day.  When I heard ‘G-Spot 2’ was coming out I (of course) got really happy.  When I heard it was going to be a serial novel, my excitement waned a bit.  Pulling off a serial novel is HARD.  You have to keep the reader drawn in with much fewer pages over a longer period of time, and that has proven to be the Achilles’ heel for a number of authors. It’s been said that writing a short story is infinitely harder than writing a full length novel, and there is definite truth in that.

Noire tries to follow up ‘G-Spot’ a FULL fledged in-your-face novel with a snippet… and it just didn’t work.  I understand why authors are doing the .99 e-book thing now, but I wish they wouldn’t and just put out a full book instead of cutting it up.  Unless your work STARTED as a serial novel, it shouldn’t progress toward a serial novel.  Now, I did enjoy this story but not with the same zeal that I did the first one.  Something was missing.  And that something was… the rest of the damn story.  Oh I know I’m going to catch hell over saying that, especially since I went in knowing that it was a short story to begin with!  But understand where I’m coming from… ‘G-Spot’ is easily in my Top 10 erotic novels and then to read a midget version of part 2.  Ummmm no.  

What I’m going to do is wait until Noire publishes ALL the serial novels in this series because then I’ll have everything and not snippets.  Yes, I still plan to buy and read each installment because I still think Noire can write.  It was just tough to go from slow dancing with Toni Braxton to slow dancing with my high school P.E. teacher.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

'Mocha Chocolate: Escapades of Passion' edited by Shani Greene-Dowdell

Not sure what prompted me to buy this e-book but here it is.  What I also didn’t know was that this is the second book in the ‘Mocha Chocolate’ series.  Shani Greene-Dowdell is the editor once again, and once again she brings the erotic fire.  One of the reasons I enjoy reading erotica is because I love trading places with the characters in the books.  A real life daydream that has NO limitations.  Shani opens up this collection with a three-part tale (Baby Girl Strikes Back) of Sasha and ummmm… Babygirl.  I say “ummmm” because you have to read and see who Babygirl is.  :-) King Zulu was just… aint no way!  Great opening to this collection.

‘Roommates’ is self explanatory.  At some point in our lives we have all wanted to act on our impulse and go a few rounds with someone we were living with.  Most of us never did and this story will make us wish we did.  

‘Point and Click Lover’ had me going for one reason and one reason only… the biting of the pillows.  There is NOTHING more sexual or erotic than having your woman bite and scream into a pillow.  That kind of stuff can’t be faked and I found myself re-reading those passages over and over again because of the pure and debaucherious sexuality.  Carla knew what she was doing when she wrote this one!

‘Lemonade Freak’ was funny!  Rex was the man with the ladies and had the ego to prove it.  What happens when ‘the man’ gets turned down?  Well… a lot of sex apparently!  

‘Marco Polo’ is the shortest story in this collection but it still manages to hold its own weight.  I had to smile at this one because of the woman in this story named Kimora.  The way she was described made me nod my head and say “I know who the hell this is”!  I wonder if the real one is as hot and juicy as the one in this story.

‘Engine Trouble’ and ‘Dick Delivery’ made me wish I was Lynn’s mechanic.  The backseat scene and the bathroom scene… damn!!

‘Beijing Beauty’ was my absolute favorite!  I don’t know if it was because of the forbidden Asian freak or the forbidden Asian freak.  Maybe it was because Darnell was so DAMN STUPID!!  Aaaauurrrrghhhhhh!!!  This is the longest of the stories because there was so much crazy drama and the paradox of his life.  He has a wife who he loves but is a pure bore in the bedroom.  And I don’t mean regular boring; this woman won’t even get totally naked when making love!  Not that it would matter because she has to have all the lights off!  HUH?  So when Darnell takes a business trip to China he meets a true freak that apparently sucked his brain out as she was sucking other things.  

Shani chose well when putting together this short story collection and the authors wrote well too.  If you are looking for a collection of pure sexuality then I highly recommend this one.   I see a lot of junk coming through e-mail, FaceBook messages, and word of mouth.  Take my word on this one y’all, this isn’t one of them.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

'Puzzlebook: 100 Puzzle Quizzes' by The Grabarchuk Family

This was gifted to me by the Grabarchuk family.  I’m always amazed that the requests I get because I don’t have one puzzle book on my list because puzzles interest me as much as Amish container planting.  But I gave this one a chance because I DIDN’T have a puzzle book on my list.  I’m glad I did because this one was actually fun.  I will be truthful and say that it took me longer to get through this book because I kept quitting because I kept being made to feel like a fool.  Not really, but you know what I mean. 

I played this book in probably the worst way you could, I play because of a bruised ego.  :-) Once I figured out to stop thinking so “literal” I had a good time with it.  Mind you, I still have a few to get through because there are a lot here, but I have played enough to feel OK about writing a review.  To be honest, it would take even a genius a couple weeks to get through every single puzzle in this book.  This is also a very good book to have on your e-reader because you can play a few puzzles while waiting for… well whatever.  I read this on my ipad so a few of the buttons aren’t exactly where they would be on the Kindle but it’s easy enough to figure out… it’s a puzzle book remember?

All in all I think puzzle people will enjoy this book and maybe another person, like me, will enjoy it as well.

'He's On Top' edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Cleis Press is a publishing paradox.  Whenever I read one of their books I never what to expect, yet I know exactly what to expect.  I know that once I crack open one of their erotic anthologies I can expect a trip in the lands of perpetual sex and the seas of orgasms.  While I’m not a fan of hardcore S&M (this book has all kinds) I can skirt pass that and appreciate the insane amount of sexuality and eroticism in ‘He’s On Top’.  What really drives me over the edge is reading about the dominance these men have over willing women.  A good erotic book personifies a great dream and I would venture to guess that most of us (men) would love to be in a position to do anything… ANY-THING to an open and willing woman.  While our pleasure is paramount, I think that a fair amount of pleasure comes from making her cum in ways that she never thought.  Especially the prudes.

Tied up, bent over, and spread eagle for your willing partner may not seem like a fun idea of sex… but have you tried it?  The people in this book have.  Hell, the more I write and skim through the book as I write I might want to try it.  Having absolute sexual dominance is a drug that most of us wouldn’t turn down.  You’ll find yourself living through the people in these short stories and wondering who you can find to play with you.  Cleis Press and the authors printed here do ANOTHER fine job of personifying sexuality into paper and ink.  I usually list my favorite stories in a story collection, but why bother?  They’re truly all good, all sexual, all erotic, all horny, all juicy, and all chok full of sexual carnage.

A special thank you goes out to Eden Fantasy's for sending me this book and for feeding my sexual habit.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

'The Vault' by Boyd Morrison

The book I read before this one was about a group of vampires putting out a hit on Jesus.  This book was about the search for King Midas’s gold.  I had to laugh for a minute because I had to think how to answer the question “So… what are you reading”? and do it with a straight face?  Well… not sure how I’ll do it but I will.  I have read all of Boy’s books and have enjoyed every single one.  ‘The Vault’ continues Boy’s track record of writing the cliff-hanging “hidden secrets thrillers”.

Tyler Locke, our man from ‘The Ark returns and he’s the pawn in a terrorist’s game to find the tomb of King Midas.  Yes, THAT King Midas.  You know; the guy with the golden touch, Mr. Greedy fingers, “I can’t eat anything but at least I know what a golden buffalo wing looks like.”  That guy.  A guy named Orr has proof that the myth is real and he would like Tyler to volunteer for the job.  Of course that doesn’t happen so he does the next best thing.  He blackmails him.  And for good measure he also blackmails another person, a woman, to help Locke.  The expertise of Stacy and Tyler are needed to decipher a puzzle written by Archimedes, the Greek mathematical/engineering genius.  Good luck with that. 

Just like with ‘The Ark’, Boyd takes a very common story and puts a twist on it that will give you pause.  With ‘The Vault’ he takes what we believe in the myth of King Midas and laughs.  I love a storyteller that can do that, and do it well.  You’ll fly through this latest adventure with the speed of a Lamborghini.  Why a Lamborghini?  Because of a scene in this book.  I’m usually not a car chase guy or a sports car guy but the one in this book was awesome!  Especially when you read about the Porche… send me an e-mail if you don’t chuckle.

Boyd takes everything you know about this popular myth, twists it, throws in some modern science, ancient science, bad guys that will rupture your ulcer, and enough suspense to cause insomnia.  I saw somewhere that this book was placed under a “Summer Reading” sign.  Um, no.  The only time a book like this would be a “summer read” is if you read it while jumping out of a place in the middle of July.  While it’s in orbit. If you do that then maybe, just maybe, your adrenaline rush will match that of this book.  


Sunday, July 3, 2011

'The Devil Colony' by James Rollins

I have read numerous books by Mr. Rollins but never one in the Sigma Force series. With all the talk about this being his best novel and how his crazed fans have waited two years for a follow up, I figure now was as good time as any.  And it was.  I’m a sucker for this genre and Rollins writes it like I’ve never read it.  I’ve said before that I don’t like reading history unless it’s wrapped in fiction, and this book is a big fat breakfast bacon burrito!  The founding of this country has ALWAYS been awash in conspiracy theories, myth, and secret societies.  ‘The Devil Colony’ plows through on the premise that this country was founded with the help of the very culture we almost wiped out, the Native Americans. 

The scope of this novel is vast!  Take Lewis & Clark, Egyptians, Hebrew text, the Founding Fathers, nano-technology, Yellowstone, a super-secret society, black OPS, and mix them up you’ll get this book.  Like I said earlier, I have read Rollin’s other work so I expected the same breathless pace.  It was definitely here but in a different spirit.  I’m one of those guys that don’t go all “ADHD” if I don’t read a series in order because if a story is good, then it’s just that GOOD!  I can catch up with their history once I catch my breath from their present. 

So, ‘The Devil Colony’ is a story about a hidden artifact/secret that has roots that date back to BEFORE the thirteen (+1) colonies.  Yes, if found this secret will devastate mankind.  Yes, if found the world will end.  What is fun about this book is HOW it will happen.  How a secret so ancient could be based on a technology not even fully understood yet is brilliant.  How the wisdom of the ancient Native Americans baffles the greatest minds of today makes you wonder if their frightening myths are not just myths after all. 

Unfortunately, despite their ingenious cryptic clues, a secret society is close to gaining access to that clue; and they will stop at nothing to get to it.  Innocent lives don’t exist in their vocabulary.  So it becomes a race.  A race to find the hidden spot, a race to decipher the language, a race to stay ahead of the assassins, and a race to stop the world from blowing the hell up.  Faithful fans that have followed Sigma from jump will spend two days (or less) in heaven with their friends.  “New” fans like me will go back and add a few past Sigma novels to their wish list.  So bye.


*Special offer from Harper Collins on 'The Devil Colony' and 'Sandstorm'*