Saturday, June 27, 2015

Measureless Night, by Chris Culver

Another chapter in the life of Sergeant Ash Rashid of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. This time he will be going up against a drug cartel and the Mexican Mafia. The book is well written, the procedures are good, the detective work is solid and the outcome is true to life, you're never sure if the bad guy will get what's coming to him.

Ten years earlier Ash Rashid and his partner were the detectives in a case that put Santino Ramirez behind bars and sitting on death row for the murder of Angel Herrera. But with just a week to go before the execution something is happening. All of the witnesses in the case are being stalked and murdered. Is it Ramirez gang that is doing this or someone else?

Ash Rashid gets drawn in as he guns down an innocent young black man who tries to invade his home because someone convinces him that Ash has murdered his sister. This tragic development is the catalyst to a full blown media blitz to try and get Ash Rashid fired, not to mention that he is already facing an IA investigation for a previous issue.

All this will come together to cause great stress and tension in Rashid's life as he does his best to track down the killers and bring peace and safety to the citizens of Indianapolis.

There will be plenty of issues to weed through. There will be good guys and villains. There will be villains that turn into good guys. There will be good guys that turn into villains. All this will come with a price and that price is purchased in blood.

How will Detective Ash Rashid come out of this? Will he have a job? Will he have his family? Will he have his sobriety?

The story is good and Chris Culver hits another solid home run with this novel.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The President's Shadow, by Brad Metlzer

President Wallace is in trouble, someone is somehow getting passed security and into the Rose Garden and into Camp David. How are they doing it? What do they want? Why are they burying body parts?

The President decides that he needs to talk with Beecher White, the Archivist, and the head of the Culper Ring group. The Culper Ring members have dedicated themselves for over 200 years to protect the Presidency of the United States, not necessarily the man, but the institution, and thus, that means the person holding the position.

Beecher has taken control of the Culper Ring because his long time friend and leader, Tot, is in a coma in the local hospital after having been shot. Beecher is the one that the President turns to at this time because he feels that he can do the best job of finding out the truth of what is going on. But Beecher has an ulterior motive, he wants information on his father and what truly happened to him when he was in the military.

Also, the President thinks that Beecher is the only one that can find Nico, who has escaped and is believed to be the one out there planning on harming the President.

As being an employee of The National Archives, Beecher is able to get his hands on lots of documents and items that the normal public will never see. But he has been unable to get the files on his father and the unit he was a part of in the military.

So, the President offers him information for his help.

Thus starts the new adventure for Beecher White as he tries to desperately find Nico, find the truth, find the files on his father, and find the answers to the questions that have plagued him his whole life.

This second book in the Culper Ring Series was not as good as the first book, but it was a necessary book in the development of the Culper Ring Group and Beecher White. This gives us much more background information and builds the foundation so that the future books in the series can move from "How it all Started," to solving the new most pressing needs of the country and the President.

The book moves along OK, but it is not heart stopping thrills like it could have been.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Under Fire, by Grant Blackwood (part of the Tom Clancy group)

OK, friends, you often see that I have received a book for free in exchange for a review. I kind of wish that had been the case here, but I actually paid for this book. I have always loved Tom Clancy works, so I pay for them. So it is a bit surprising that I only gave this book a three star review. Read further to find out why?

I have loved the Jack Ryan, Jr. and The Campus novels. They have been excellent works in the Tom Clancy fashion. I have felt that Grant Blackwood has been a great asset to the Clancy stable of writers, as I have noted in my other reviews of his work.

BUT, this novel didn't really work for me. My first problem is that it really only had Jack Jr. in the story until about 70% of the way through, then finally Dom Caruso shows up in the field. That misses the mark of what The Campus is about. It is not about lone wolf characters acting on their own and not giving The Campus the full story. So, either Jack Jr. has fallen far from the family tree or he is thinking that he can be the lone wolf hero of political events and spy activities.

Jack Jr. meets with an old friend and finds that he has stepped into a problem in a country that is going to be facing a Coup in the next couple of weeks. Jack Jr. has to figure out what is happening and who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. His friend Seth appears to be having a bit of a break with reality, or is he?

Bottom line, The CIA, British Intelligence and Russian Elite Forces are going to be playing a game of political chicken as the country of Dagestan goes through the upheaval of a political coup as the Minster of Interior takes steps to wrestle control of the country from the President of Dagestan.

Jack Jr. will find himself on the side of the Minister of Interior and will not be sure that this is truly a wise move. Jack Jr. comes off looking tentative at times and not as decisive as his old man would have been in a similar situation.

Jack Jr. will use The Campus assets but not in the way that they should have been used or were used in previous works.

I liked the story, I liked the complex situation with many different intelligence agencies involved, I just didn't like Blackwood taking Jack Jr. and making him a lone wolf on this case.

Next time lets stick with the whole team and get them back involved as they should be.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Trident Code, by Thomas Waite

The Trident Code is the second book in the Lana Elkins series. Last years book, Lethal Code, was a thrill ride that seemed so fast paced that it might never stop. Well, the Trident Code starts much the same way. Lana Elkins our Cyber Guru is called by the NSA because of a crisis that they are facing. That crisis is a Chinese group of hackers that they want to weed out and make impotent. So, Lana is going to help.

But before they can even start their meetings on this issue a new one comes front and center. Someone has hijacked a U.S. Navy Nuclear Missile Submarine. They have released a gas into the air system that kills the entire crew, with the exception of one man who was able to get an oxygen mask on and vent the gas out of the sub and restore the normal oxygen. Is that providence or is it design?

Well, soon it seems design because this sub will be front and center for a cyber attack not just on the United States but on the world. The Cyber terrorist claim they can launch the nuclear missiles unless the world caves to their demands. When the world doesn't cave quickly enough they do launch a missile, but it is not headed towards any major city of the world, instead it is headed towards the Antarctic and the polar ice cap and glaciers. Why?

Well, here is where the story might be taking a political / Global Warming / environmental shift to do a bit of preaching while still in the thriller realm. The nuclear missile melts a major portion of a Glacier plus breaks off the ice in such a degree that it causes the oceans of the world to start rising. This is what environmentalist have said will happen with Global warming, but it would happen over a very long period of time. But with this nuclear strike it happens overnight. The coastlines of the continents are inundated with a four foot rise in sea level (with the threat that another missile will make it an eleven foot rise). To think of this makes you realize what that could actually mean to the world.

Most of New Orleans would again be under water, but it would never recede. The Netherlands would be 60% under water at 4 feet and totally under water at 11 feet. Thousands will drown, economies will be devastated, thousands more will either die of thirst or starvation because of the disruption of food deliveries and water purification.

This is huge.

The charge to Lana and her team, find out who did this, find out how to wrestle back control of the nuclear sub and prevent the launch of another missile, or for that matter the remaining twenty two missiles.

The book is fast paced and excellent reading. So, why only four stars? Well, I thought the ending was a bit to quick, to cut off. While we have had a wild ride it just abruptly is over. Maybe that is real life, but it seemed a bit to quick. I wanted a bit more closure on some topics. But all in all it is a good read.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Hearts Made Whole, by Judy Hedlund

I want to thank Bethany house publishers and Net Galley for making a copy of this book available to me for no cost in exchange for an honest review.

After the Civil War Ryan Chambers needs work. He is an injured veteran who is now addicted to Opium and Alcohol. He is missing most of his dominant hand and the shrapnel still in the hand and arm bring him constant pain. But he needs work.

Carolyn Taylor is the daughter of a light keeper along St. Clair Lake. Her father has cared for the lighthouse for years and she has grown up there and learned the trade from him. But a few months before her father died in the lake while trying to take the family doctor back to Detroit. The storm that took his life took much from Carolyn.

She is now tending the lighthouse and also raising her four siblings. Their mother had died years before and now with the father gone she is the head of the house. But Mr. Finick, the supervisor of the lighthouses along the shore wants her gone. He doesn't feel a woman can do the job and he wants her out. So, he has hired Ryan Chambers to take the job.

When Ryan shows up he is taken back by Carolyn and her family. He didn't know they would still be there. But it is a good thing because he is truly in no shape to be a lighthouse tender. He sleeps to much, is high on Opium and drunk much of the time. But even so Carolyn sees in him the man that he once was and the man that he could be again.

It's a typical love at first sight type of story, with the typical drama of shattered dreams and shattered lives that need healing. So, you have good ideas of what is going to happen as the book develops.

But Jody Hedlund does a great job of developing her characters and developing the real life scenarios that are entrapping her characters. She has captured their emotions and their fears and their guilt perfectly.

She will deal with the guilt and pain that a soldier feels for the things he has done during war that are not humane. She will deal with his pain from being injured and then addicted to pain pills and alcohol. She will correctly deal with his desire to quit but his bodies unwillingness to allow him to, the cravings are to deep.

Then there is Carolyn, she is a woman doing a "man's" work. She faces criticism from her supervisor. She faces the bullying tactics of a local thug who is smuggling goods across the lake and needs a lighthouse keeper who will turn the other way. She doesn't know it but she will also be stalked by someone who is immature and can't have what he wants.

These and other topics make the book a good read.

The best topic of all though is that GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME! That is the lesson that Carolyn's father has taught his children. But sometimes it is hard to live out that truth when the ravages of life bear down on us.

This is an excellent and encouraging read.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Adventures of an Urban Fox, Maggie Arrives, by Yara Evans

What a wonderful children's book. I would venture to say that this would be a 4th or 5th grade reading level, but I'm not good at guessing those.

But it is also a fun story to read to your younger children who will patiently endure the length of time to hear a good story. If they can't sit through the whole thing at once then read just a chapter at a time until their attention span grows.

Maggie the Fox is based on the true life happenings of a family living in urban England and having a red fox that visited their garden on a regular basis. By putting out food for the fox it came often. Thus inspiring the story.

Plot Line: Maggie the Fox comes into a garden where food is left for her many days. While here she meets a Black and a Tabby cat. The cats are not really too happy about Maggie coming around, but there is not much they can do about it.

Eventually they learn to tolerate each other and the Tabby actually begins to like having the fox around.

One day when Maggie shows up she is sick, the cats notice and start to plan with Maggie on how to get the attention of their human owners so that they can help Maggie get well.

The story is about 40 pages long, it details the growing friendship of Maggie and the two cats and then works through the crisis of Maggie's illness and need for help.

It really is well written, the few sketches included are colorful and well drawn, I just wish that there might have been more.


Discover the Jungle with Bangle the Lion, by Alexandra Godfrey

Children's stories are written to be simple, easy to read and fun for the child. Also they might try and teach a lesson as they go along. This book is one that is fun to read and also has a lesson throughout.

Bangle the Lion wants to find a friend, but he wants to find a friend on his terms. He finds many other animals that can be potential friends, Elephants, Giraffes, Monkeys, etc. But he finds that he doesn't like playing their games, he is not good at their games, he wants them to play his games.

He then meets a snake who dupes him into playing games by capturing him in a net. But along comes a Lemur who rescues Bangle from the net. Bangle goes with the Lemur and watches him play. Bangle is introduced to a Jaguar who is a grandfatherly figure and they have a good talk and Bangle learns some valuable truths and learns how to make friends and play their games and then they will play his.

The book is written in poetic prose, but at times to make the story flow that poetry breaks down. But the simple prose is also a good thing because the rhyming makes it easier for a child who is learning to read to follow along and catch on quickly and learn reading as well as rhyming.

The pictures are good, but I kind of wish they were a big bigger. Because of the pictures size and there being more written story than pictures I would think that this children's book is for those learning to read and able to get along with fewer pictures. This would not be my choice for a Toddler whom you want to read to while showing pictures.

I liked the book, so why just four stars? Well, because I wish the pictures were bigger.

But this is a great addition to a collection for your young child or grandchildren who are learning to read.