Friday, May 29, 2015

Into the Fire, OP-Center, by Dick Couch (A Tom Clancy Series)

I was a bit torn about my review for this new book in the Op-Center series. I loved the series and wanted this to put a fresh new look on the series and bring back a well tested set of books.

SO, let's start with this, I started reading and quite frankly couldn't put it down. When I read my first Tom Clancy book I had that experience, I started reading and couldn't stop. That happened here as well. It's Dick Couch who is writing, but he caught my attention and interest and I kept reading and reading and reading until I was done. Now I want some more.

NOW, why it was not what I expected. It didn't seem to me that the OP-Center was the main character of the novel. Yes, they are still the best set of intelligence gathering people and they have some good technical and military people involved, BUT, the story revolved more around Captain Kate Bigelow and the USS Milwaukee. This Naval Vessel is not a war time fighting vessel, it is a mine sweeper that carries little to no defensive weapons. But as the Milwaukee joins with the Defender (another U.S. minesweeper) and a South Korean flotilla they are approached by North Korean Naval Vessels that are wanting to capture and take prisoner all the naval personnel on the Milwaukee just like the USS Pueblo from the last century.

But Captain Kate Bigelow is a great leader and she takes her no weapon vessel and uses it as a way to hold off the two Korean Vessels and allowing the flotilla to escape. But she will loose her ship and some of her crew and come close to having everyone captured.

OP-Center is the group that analyzes the situation and provides the U.S. President with a way to intervene and get the crew back. But this could lead to all out war.

The book is compelling with today's political and military situations with North Korea. They are a menace to the world and need to be contained and in a sense reprimanded much as a stubborn child should be.

Dick Couch gets the situation right and does a great job of bringing the situation to a climax that you will find impressive and well written.

I'm happy with this new edition to OP-Center, but must say that it is not like our old OP-Center but still worth the read.

I'll look forward to Dick Couch's next book

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Ghost Fields, by Elly Griffiths

I always enjoy a Ruth Galloway novel, that's because Elly Griffiths is a superb author. The characters are always wonderfully developed, easy to get to know and yet they have a depth to them that you only get as you read story after story. Each new novel brings us even more information about characters that builds on your love or hate for them.

In this particular novel we find Ruth working a dig at what they believe will turn out to be a Bronze Age Burial Site. They have discovered one body and believe that there will be more.

While there on her dig another digger, this one a workman with a bulldozer uncovers a World War II plane and frighteningly enough finds the pilot still in the cockpit. That gives him quite a fright. He stops his work and contacts the authorities. Inspector Nelson is one of those to respond. He realizes that this is an unusual find since the plane is about 70 years old and yet the pilot still seems well preserved. As such he calls on Ruth to come take a look and give them an opinion.

Ruth's opinion is that the body is to well preserved to have been in this plane the whole time, because the soil conditions would not favor the way the body has been preserved. This brings on some questions about who the pilot is, how did he get here, why does he seem well preserved, etc.

The story evolves into quite the "who done it" murder mystery. I won't give away a lot of the plot as the fun in reading a Ruth Galloway novel is the building of the story. But lets just say that the pilot wasn't the pilot of that plane. Lets say he wasn't even suppose to be near that type of plane. He was also supposed to have died at sea in a larger plane crash. BUT, this plane and his body are found near the family Estate in Norfolk which brings all kinds of issues to the surface.

This will not be the only murder that they will end up investigating. It will not be easy to figure out who all the players are, and to top it off Ruth's old friend Frank, will pop back into the scene to again film a TV show about the dig, the find and about Ruth.

All in all you have several Romantic Stories working there way through (4 to be exact) as well as a couple of murders and a couple of attempted murders. The real question is why? As well as who? And the final question, What is the motive?

All these will be answered and more will happen as well.

Enjoy a great novel.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Wood's Edge, by Lori Benton

First of all I want to thank the Publisher, Water Brook, and the author, Lori Benton, for making a copy of the book available to me in exchange for an unbiased review.

In 1757 the British Colonies in America are having a war with the French and their Indian (Native American Indian) allies. Our book starts with the defeat of the British at Fort William Henry in Lake George, New York. Major Reginald Aubrey is the second in command at the Fort and had the privilege of having his wife with him at this posting.

As the fort is falling to the French and Indians his wife Heledd gives birth to their first child, a son. But it is a difficult birth and the child only lives a few minutes after birth. Major Aubrey doesn't know how he is going to tell his wife this. Also he is dealing with the emotions of a massive military defeat and having to make sure that all his men and settlers evacuate the Fort during the cease fire that the French have allowed.

Major Aubrey does the unthinkable, he sees another woman (an Indian Captive) who has also just given birth, for her it was twin sons. Aubrey exchanges his dead child for one of her living children, who will ever know, besides him?

The rest of the novel is the life of Major Reginald Aubrey, his wife Heledd and their stolen son, William. You will be taken on the ride of their life as they leave the military, help the Colonies rebel against England, try and make a life for their family in the English Settlement and while Aubrey deals with the knowledge of his deception.

In the background is the Indian family who knows that their son was taken. They strive to learn who the "Redcoat" was that took their infant. Their struggle is to deal with the loss, the bitterness and the revenge that they want to have on Redcoat Aubrey.

Also running through the novel is the thread of the story of each person coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and how they deal with their new found faith, with their old sins, their bitterness and anger. 

Frankly the best part of the novel is the great way that Lori Benton weaves the Gospel and the theme of Salvation and Forgiveness through each of the lives of the characters. This is another great "Christian Novel" that actually gets it right, it isn't sugar coated or syrupy religious jargon, it is real people with real problems meeting a real savior and finding out what it means to have a true relationship with their Creator.

One of the best novels I have read thus far this year.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Close Quarters, by Adrian Magson

First of all I want to thank Severn Publishers and Net Galley for making a review copy of this book available to me. The book can be pre-ordered on Amazon for an August 1, 2015 release.

The CIA has had to get creative in their way of protecting and extracting operatives in countries where it is not necessarily Politically Correct to be active. As such they turn to free lance talents (former military special forces or previous CIA operatives) to handle some of this work on a contract basis.

One such operative is contacted by CIA deputy director Callahan to enter the country of Ukraine and rescue and oversee the extraction of a State Department Official who went there to try and smooth things over between the Russians, the Ukrainians and the Separatist who are causing much havoc and destruction in the country.

Unfortunately this State Department Official has been placed under house arrest and observation by the Separatist, or is it the Ukrainians? No one is really sure. But Callahan wants to get him back before it is discovered that he is really a CIA analysts who is trying to gather human intel on the situation.

So, enter ‘Watchman,’ more commonly known as Mr. Portman. He is asked to enter the country and oversee the safety of Mr. Travis as CIA cut outs try and get him out of the country.

The only problem is this, there is a mole at the CIA who is feeding information to the Russians which is allowing them to stay a step ahead of the CIA. Thus ‘Watchman’ will have to take a more active role in securing Mr. Travis and getting him out of the country.

The bulk of the novel deals with ‘Watchman’ and his CIA handler and their work to try and get Mr. Travis to safety. The plot is good, the story is reasonable and Magson develops the characters and the situation to perfection.

This book doesn’t have the shoot um up drama and fast pace of some spy type novels, but it is intriguing and plausible enough to help you understand how the hands of our CIA have been tied behind their backs by politicians and Senate Sub-Committees that have their own agendas.

This is an excellent novel for those who love political intrigue, CIA operations, Clandestine work behind the scenes and an honest to god hero who puts his life on the line to help others for no other reason than loyalty and love of country.


The Fateful Lightning, by Jeff Shaara

Sweeping Epic Novel about the final aspects of the Civil War. This 600 page novel will follow Sherman's march to the sea after the burning of Atlanta. Shaara has done his homework in putting this novel together. He hits the historic points spot on and yet turns them into a readable story that will enliven the history as you have never read before.

General Sherman is a famous character in the Civil War. He has been portrayed as ruthless and vile by many. But here we find that Shaara paints the picture of a more contemplative general, one who is haunted by the gore and agony of the civil war. The General is a man who has lost one son, who was the drummer boy for his troops. His other son is an infant whom he has not yet seen. This tragedy marks him with sorrow and pains him to no end.

Shaara will put you inside the mindset of General Sherman and give you a history lesson from one of the great General's of the Civil War. It is like you have sat down with the General for a private interview and he has opened his heart and soul to you about what has gone on. Sure some of this is speculation, but it is speculation that is well founded on the research that Shaara has done on the subject.

If you are a Civil War Buff or someone who loves historical novels then this is a must read for you.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Fall, by John Lescroart

I want to thank the publisher and Net Galley for making a copy of the book available to me in exchange for a review.

This is another in the Dismas Hardy series. In this novel we are introduced to Dismas daughter, Rebecca, "The Beck", who has become a lawyer and is cutting her teeth in the business. She is going to be hired to defend a murder suspect. That is a bit out of the ordinary because of being a new lawyer, but with her father as her mentor it doesn't seem to far fetched.

The police department and the District Attorney have been taking some heat for their handling of cases involving African American's. They seem to be wanting to take this particular case and make it an example of a new attitude. The Beck will have her hands full with the case and the question is will she be up to the challenge or not. Will she provide a good defense for her client or will she screw things up because she is unseasoned.

The courtroom drama scenes are good, the development of the characters and the plot are good.

I enjoyed the novel very much and now look forward to going back and reading some of the first novels in the series. If you are a John Lescroart fan you are going to really enjoy this novel.

The House of Hawthorne, by Erica Robuck

The House of Hawthorne is a Historical Novel that captures the life of Sophia Peabody and her marriage to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Through Sophia's eyes you will come to know Hawthorne is a way that is deep, tender and amazing. But maybe more amazing than learning about Nathaniel Hawthorne is the story you will learn about Sophia Peabody.

Sophia is a young woman who is sickly, so much so that her family sends her to Cuba to have some time to recuperate in a tropical climate. But while Sophia is there she will learn more about slavery and the terrible treatment of slaves than she will learn about her illness and subsequent healing from it. While in Cuba, Sophia will fall in love with a local Spanish Man whose family is settled in Cuba and making their fortune. But unfortunately they also deal in slaves, this is appealing to Sophia as she learns more about it.

Sophia is also an artist. She will paint and draw her way through life and her heart will be on display for all to see through the art that she creates.

Upon returning from Cuba she will meet Nathaniel Hawthorne. She will become enamored with him, and he with her. Their love story is unique and heartwarming. What Sophia will learn from Nathaniel and what he will learn from her is fabulous.

As you read you will be drawn in to their life together and come to see how two unique artists can live together, inspire each other, and create a home where love, warmth, tragedy and family will develop in ways that neither could have imagined.

This was my first novel by Erika Robuck that I have read, but it won't be my last. She is truly a gifted writer herself.