Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Book Review - The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg

The Last Jihad (The Last Jihad, #1)The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I got these out of our local library on a whim, the title was intriguing and the geo-political implications were looking better on the book blurb.

Once I started with the book, it almost became a chore to finish it. The characters are not well etched and as I write this review I have already forgotten what the book was all about.

The book opens explosively with a kamikaze plane attack on the POTUS motorcade but it sort of writes itself down from there with conveniently forgotten characters and not too much of a redeeming plot.

Sorry to say so but the series lost its ability to hold interest to me after this one.

A forgettable read.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Book Review: The Midnight Watch - James Rollins

The Midnight Watch (Sigma Force #10.5)The Midnight Watch by James Rollins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More and more writers are writing mini vignettes in between their books to act as a filler for the next installment of their book especially for a series. James Rollins is no different. The Sigma Force is an ever expanding world, there are too many characters and too many plot lines involved that it is difficult to give each character the necessary book time to grow them organically. Vignettes help in this scheme of things and provide a side incomes as well.

The Midnight Watch focuses on Kowalski, one of the side characters from the sigma series who has been under appreciated time and again. It also sheds more light on the newest sigma recruit Jason - the computer geek.

The story line also effectively ties in to the next novel in the series The Bone Labyrinth by setting up the context for the plot of the next book here.

Going into the story line would give it away to the reader who have not yet read this vignette. The only grouch I have with fillers and vignette is that they should be free to read rather than charging a dollar or two as they are amazingly shirt and breezy reads and as such should not be more of a burden to the series fan...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book Review - Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge

Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace, #1)Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My many thanks to Net Galley, the publisher PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW
and the author M.J. Arlidge for providing me with the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

This book came highly recommended from my group in GoodRead "A Good Thriller" group. and I must say it was worth it's weight in gold. I started this book very late due to being busy with other work but I must say I am glad I finally caught up to this little nugget.

Dark is the work I have heard used often with this book. I must admit I was having problems identifying the genre of work as I am not used to reading many dark books. But this one was different. Once you got started into it, the book grabbed hold of you and never really let go. Even when the book ended because you need to know what happens next in the life of Detective Helen Grace. Ohh.. Just where do I start with this one??

A diabolical villain or a deeply flawed and psychologically scarred heroine or the gory murders. Charles Darwin proposed the survival of the fittest theory but Arlidge has taken it to another level. Humanity when reduced to its basic is just that, survival at all costs. The emotions like empathy, kindness and kinship does not mean much.

The story line is very intricate, the plots and twists are planned to the perfection and the execution is pretty amazing, so much so that when the common thread tying up the entire exercise in macabre flies at you you are pretty much blindsided and left thinking how the hell did I miss this.

The story has a little bit of everything to keep the readers from different genres satisfied. Suspense to keep those indulged, action to keep the junkies interested, darkness, macabre and gore to keep the darkies engaged, thrill to keep the seekers seeking and finally a fitting finale to satisfy all.

Arlidge has just shot to the top of my must read authors. The only difficulty here is I would like him is smaller doses rather than one big chunk to keep the dark in me satisfied while not overwhelming my senses as well.


Book Review -- Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria's Unholy War by Mike Smith

Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria's Unholy WarBoko Haram: Inside Nigeria's Unholy War by Mike Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My many thanks to Net Galley, the publisher I.B. Tauris and the author Mike Smith for providing me with the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Somalia and Nigeria are two hotspots of trouble in Africa. One affected by piracy and the other by militant Islamism. I don't believe in the fundamentalist interpretation of any religion. IMO it is just an excuse to cover bloodthirsty behavior. Islam is a peaceful religion, none of my friends who practice Islam subscribe to the school of thought propagated by the fundamentalist. It is their own greed for power that makes them cloak their fight in the garb of religion to give it legitimacy.

Boko Haram is no different. Emerging through the crucible of Nigeria's impoverished North east region, Boko Haram is using religion to cloak its bloodthirstiness. Mike Smith has forged a convincing tale of emergence of this terror group from its initial years under radical preacher Mohammad Yusuf, the Boko Haram group was based on the Wahabi ideology. Initially attracting followers with his fiery speeches and opposition to Nigerian government rules and thoughts, the group evolved into a ultra conservative terror outfit after Yusufs death and the emergence of his deputy Abubakar Shekhau as the new leader of the group.

Nigeria is a important country in African continent. It has a semblance of democracy and is oil rich. This makes it the de facto leader for growth, prosperity and stability in the African region which is inundated with myriad problems like famine, poverty and ethnic conflicts. Nigeria's is too divided between an impoverished and reeling under the aegis of Boko Haram North and the relatively affluent South with its oil riches. Overall the country is still in doldrums due to deep rooted corruptions and the lack of political will in the Nigerian leadership to grow the country.

The schism between the top elite of the country and the poor is exploited by Boko Haram. Denouncing the government the group emerged initially as trying the overthrow the government to replace it with Islamic Caliphate. But the methods and the legacy left behind by the group is too bloody and too gory to justify any teachings of Islam and the group remains as a terrorist organization in its entirety.

Mike Smith spins a cohesive story about the emergence of the group, the growth under Yusuf, the downturn after Yusuf's death and their bloody reemergence under the aegis of Shekau. It gives insights into the cultural, economic and social crucible that is Nigeria which has forged one of the most deadliest terror outfits in the world today.

Back to Reading

Almost 3 months of being out of sync with my books, I am finally making a comeback. The year started off great, I read some really great books this year, courtesy of my group A Good Thriller in GoodReads. The books that they recommended were excellent. I was really on a high….

But then life happened and priorities took precedence over pleasure. I missed out on reading for around 3 months now. The last book I read was in May until I started stealing time here and there to get back into the groove of reading.

This month I have finished two books, including my book pal book of the month for this month. Eeny Meeny and Boko Haram - Inside Nigerias Unholy War. Two books a month is by far smallest of the reads that I have done in the month, but it gives me hope that I will pick up the pace and hit my target of 40 books by the end of this year.

I have started to blog again and with that I hope to restart my other blog OutSpoken and True as well. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Review -- The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of ChinaThe Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Matt Reilly is my favorite action/adventure author. Nobody does it bigger, better and badass than Matt. People tend to crib about the lack of factuality or the over the top action sequences, but hey… if you can digest Hollywood then there is no reason not to digest this with a pinch or a bag of salt…which ever you would prefer.

The sheer scale and the grand stage of each and every action/adventure book of Matt Reilly is what sets him apart from his peers. I read The Seven Ancient Wonders first and since then I am hooked and I am an unabashed fan boy…

Coming to the latest novel, The Great Zoo of China, when I first saw the title I was a bit intrigued and I was thinking what can you write about a Zoo Matthew? My curiosity was piqued and I got my hands on the book first from a friend while I was travelling from USA to India and the then got a copy from Net Galley in exchange for an honest unbiased review courtesy of the publisher Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and the author himself. Boy oh boy what a ride it has been….

China - when we think China we think an industrial powerhouse of production, flooding the world markets with goods made cheaply and efficiently that anywhere in the world. The place where the world comes to get their things built according to their blueprints. But that said let it not be said that the Chinese are not ambitious enough. They are…. They most definitely are on the quest to become a world superpower not only militarily but also economically and most importantly socially. That means bringing tourists to China, so what can they do that will get them enough tourists and put them on par or even above America with its Disneyland?

The idea is building a Zoo, the most biggest, most baddest and the most unique zoo ever seen by the world. A one of a kind zoo… A zoo with… DRAGONS… yes you read me right.. Dragons…

Jurassic Park comes to mind immediately…. Well the Chinese have seen it too and learnt their lessons from it. It is a project that has been in the making since the last 40 years when the Chinese quite literally stumbled into a nest of dragon eggs. Since then it has been a ultra mega $240 billion project to build and showcase the might of China with the greatest zoo ever built by man - A Dragon Zoo with the different species like Red Bellied, Yellow Jacket, Purple Royals, Brown Swamps and so on…

The Chinese claim that they have tamed these beasts, and in fact even trained them… nothing can go wrong in the zoo, of course it is perfectly safe, they even make the dragons put in an performance for the VIP guests from the West including writers from NY Times, the US Ambassador to China and Dr. CJ Cameron and her brother Hamish from Nat Geo. It is a wonderful world, an exquisite but controller world, where the dragons know who their masters are.. So what can go wrong???

Except that everything does, in typical Reilly style it goes to hell hand over fist. With the Great Zoo Matt Reilly delivers his first action heroine Dr. CJ Cameron. She has faced alligators in the everglades, and is the worlds leading expert on reptiles, but soon she finds that Dragons are a different ball game. They are intelligent, they are planners and they are after a bigger goal… Freedom… or is it???

Read the book the find out more, but with the Great Zoo Matt Reilly has taken his game up a notch further. Pitting man against beast, The Great Zoo of China is a high octane adventure that will grab you by the scruff of your neck and will not let you go until the book is finished. You will feel like you have completed a roller coaster ride of your life, but expect a sleepless night if you pick this book up as a night read as you will not be able to put it down… Beware….

Book Review -- Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'BriensInside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and the author Lisa Genova for granting me the permission to read this ARC of the book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Your efforts are much appreciated...

Dr. Lisa Genova a neurologist wrote this book to bring forth awareness on the most cruel disease ever know to man - Huntington's.

I must admit I was not aware of Huntington's before I read this book. I must also say I did not think much about the disease which statistically only 37,000 people suffer in USA… There are bigger stuff happening was my take on it… until I read the book…

Huntington's is cruel - it rightly called out by Dr. Genova. There can be nothing, I repeat nothing worse than watching yourself waste away bit by bit and do nothing to stop it. Lisa Genova paints an haunting story of the O'Briens there Joe gets diagnosed with Huntington's.

It is difficult when you know you are going to waste away to nothingness, but it is even more challenging knowing that you may have passed on the disease to your kids. There is nothing more hurting, more cruel or emotionally draining to a parent than knowing that your kids are going to suffer in their life and you are cause of it…. My heart went out to Joe. From a strapping, in shape, physically fit police officer to a wasted away person not even in control of his own limbs. From being self sufficient to being dependent on people around you for even the smallest thing in life.

While Joe struggles to find balance in his life after being forced into retirement with disability, he also has to deal with knowing that 2 of his 4 children are bound to get the disease. Both of them in the best of their health and at the peak of their challenging professions, a firefighter and a ballet dancer. To complicate the problem Joe is about to be a grand parent and they don't know if their grandson may/may not be infected with this disease… it makes the struggles in their life almost seem inhuman. Disease is a great leveler, it does not do emotions.

As Joe tries to find a semblance of balance within himself, his youngest daughter struggles with her own set of problems. Growing up in the shadow of a talented older sister (the ballerina), Katie is still trying to find her place in life and dealing with the complexities of being in a relationship with a black man and having trouble bringing him into open with her Irish Catholic family. She also struggles to move ahead in life when confronted with the scepter of Huntington's hanging over her head.

The book in essence is the parallel stories of Joe and Katie, as one struggles to come to terms with what is and the other struggles to come to terms with what may be. Ultimately it is the story of Joe trying to set an example for his children that the disease cannot be beaten, but it can definitely be lived with.

Inside the O'Briens gave me a healthy respect for the message that Dr. Genova is trying to convey. Bring about an awareness for Huntington's while helping the readers understand that Huntington's can cause you problems, but it cannot take away from you your quality of life.

A quality read which gives insight into how really life is…

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review -- Ghosts in Macau by H.N. Wake

Ghosts in Macau (A Mac Ambrose Short Story)Ghosts in Macau by H.N. Wake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks H.N for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest, unbiased review...You rock!!!

H.N. Wake turns up the heat with this short Mac Ambrose novella. China - a rising dragon from the east and the Macau is its Las Vegas.

Amid the glitz, glamor and lights of Macau is set the thrilling story of old school espionage, retrieving an hiding an asset deep from the heart of the country. It is a thankless job, never acknowledged or credited, the op goes south - the agent is left hanging in the wind, the op delivers on what it promises, the bosses at the top take all the credit for a job well done... And there is a third way - The bosses dump the op because it is too risky and you are left stranded again...

China and Mac Ambrose have a turbulent history as hinted by Wake in the previous book, she is a fearless operator, but this time around we see the emotional, the human element of Mac Ambrose. I will not get much into the story line for the fear of giving out too much and spoiling the story for  others, but one thing I would say for Mac Ambrose she is a gritty operator with her head screwed on at all times.

She differentiates between right and wrong; God have mercy on you if you are on her wrong because she definitely won't.

A quick read, whetting the appetite for the next book in the series. If there were any grouse I had it would be that it ended too soon...

Friday, May 8, 2015

Reading List -- May 2015

You just cannot have enough books. Whoever said that was absolutely, utterly and completely right and my hero. I dig books. I just can't get enough of them... and my traditional gluttony leads me into all sorts of jams which then has me contorting as a trapeze artist to get my way out of it.

Ok coming to this months reading list, where do I start???

Let me divide it into sections:

Net Galley: By far this is where I am feeling the pinch. I have a tendency to request 5-6 books at a time and being super busy these days, I am not able to plow my way through the books as I usually do. So currently my feedback to request ratio is languishing at 24% or so. I have way more books on my reading, approved and requested shelf than on my feedback shelf. Well I am not going to list all my Net Galley books here.. coz then I will never get done. So this month my reading list from Net Galley is:

1. Inside the O'Briens by Dr. Lisa Genova - It is about how a family deals and copes when they know that the father is having Huntingtons.

2. The Sound of Glass by Karen White

3. The Devil Will Come by Glenn Cooper

4. The Morganstern Project by David Khara

I also have The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins my Book Pal - Book of the Month to read with my A Good Thriller group member to read and discuss.

Also I have my perennial book pal Freda and books selected by us to read and discuss among ourselves.

It will be shaping up to a very, very, very busy May but I would not have it any other way...

Happy Reading,

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Book Review -- Key Witness by Sandra Bolton

Key Witness: A Southwest MysteryKey Witness: A Southwest Mystery by Sandra Bolton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Courtesy of NetGalley, publishers Amazon Publishing, Thomas & Mercer and author Sandra Bolton. Many thanks for making the advance copy of this book available to me at my request in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Key Witness is a murder mystery investigation involving multiple stakeholders, the Italian Mafia, the Mexican Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang and a few others thrown in to make it a complete pot pouri.

As a murder mystery cum chase I would rate it just about 3. But what pushes the rating up 1 more star is the background scenes. The book is mainly based in the Navajo Nation. The author does an incredible job of describing and bringing the haunting landscape to life.

You experience the land through the eyes of the newbie in this case the protagonist Abe Freeman, who has embarked on a road trip to find himself after losing his girlfriend to cancer. He gets mixed up in a murder of a fellow drifter he chances across overnight and subsequently becomes a Key Witness in the whodunit.

Brought in by the female protagonist of the story Emily Etcity, he has to stay in the state so that he can give witness when required. Emily is a Navajo and she takes him on board to keep him out of the way.

The Native American landscape is drawn in haunting beauty and through the various characters living on the land, you can feel the pride, the sense of attachment and the love that they have for the land.

The connect and respect that the tribe people and their ways of life give a very profound and powerful message of communing with Nature in a world shadowed by consumerism.

IMO that lifted the quality of the book from Like to Love.

The ending leaves a unconcluded story of Abe Freeman, the murder mystery is solved, but Abe Freeman is still on the road to self discovery and he needs to find himself first and then deal with the relationship that he has with Emily and her family.

The book deserves a sequel. We deserve to see the story of Abe Freeman played out to the end.

Book Review -- Blood Ransom by John Boyle

Blood Ransom: Stories from the front line in the war against Somali piracyBlood Ransom: Stories from the front line in the war against Somali piracy by John Boyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Courtesy of NetGalley, publishers Bloomsbury USA and author John Boyle. Many thanks for making the advance copy of this book available to me at my request in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Piracy… reminds us of the buccaneering Jack Sparrow and his group of rag tags aboard the Black Pearl. Treasure hunters, swashbuckling adventurers romanticized by Hollywood to bigger and bigger glory.  Pirates are something people thought active in olden days, the 1700's and 1800's at the height of imperial glory. Something nostalgic…

Not true, just look at the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia, aboard a ship carrying cargo, chances are 8 out 10 times you would have seen groups of 6-7 people aboard a fast moving skiff firing AK-47s and RPGs at your ship. Who are these people? Somali Pirates

High Seas piracy is big business. Somali's have the control of the entire market for piracy, the ransom amounts from 2008 to 2014 run to more than 150 million dollars, an amount that is almost equal to the GDP of the entire country.

Somalia is a failed state. Europeans drew borders on the land of Africa and divided it into different countries. But the people who have a nomadic lifestyle and absolutely no concept of country but great believers of the clan system immediately started fighting amongst themselves for supremacy. How do you bring unity and peace among tribes or clans who have been at each others throats for hundreds of years? The result is a country divided by chaos.

With nobody interested in their welfare and hammered on all sides by war, natural calamity and disastrous deep sea fishing by greedy corporates and countries taking advantage of a non existent government, Somalia has been looted and raped at will. Toxic wastes have been dumped off its coasts further wrecking havoc among the populace already struggling with famine.  What do ordinary people do when the only choice between life and death is a way of crime?

Piracy in high seas is a lucrative business in Somalia. As it with all illegal business, it is organized and has deep ties to the Mafia and is extremely well organized and efficient. Well it was until the world sat up and took notice of the loss being caused by the Somali's to the world economy.

The navies of the entire world converged on Somalia to stop a bunch of couple thousand Somali's risking life and limb to conquer ships thousands of miles out into the open sea aboard only tiny ships and skiffs. It is an unequal war one Somalia is in the process of losing but it was not won without a bitter fight.

Blood Ransom takes you behind the scenes, what makes a person become a pirate? Why does he risk his life? What is the life like at in high seas hunting for a ship?

Blood Ransom is the sad truth of a nation left behind by the world, a story of human greed and profiteering, a story of struggle for existence that mutates into a life of crime. It is a in depth look at the rise and fall of Somali piracy, the book is fast paced, deals with anecdotes from both sides of the fence, the ones that pirated and the ones that tried to prevent. It is also the story of the victims who have been kidnapped. Some who are lucky enough to be ransomed, some who have spent years in captivity and some who are still waiting for their freedom.

If you feel that piracy is something romantic like Johnny Depp portraying it in The Pirates of Caribbean, then think again and read this book.

View all my reviews

Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Review -- The Kill Switch by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

The Kill SwitchThe Kill Switch by James Rollins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Kill Switch is the first in a new series starring Tucker Wayne and Kane whom we saw first in the novella "Tracker" and subsequently as a part of the Sigma Force team in Bloodline. Rightfully getting their own marquee, the odd pair of man and dog head up into their first solo missing for Sigma.

Tucker and Kane are best buddies, the know each other well and are living extensions of the other. They don't need nobody else in their lives. In Russia on a protection gig for a Russian business oligarch, Tucker is drafted by the wily Sigma boss Painter Crowe for a side mission to escort and protect a pharmaceutical tycoon out of Russia who is being chased by a Russian General who used to run Soviet Unions bio labs.

The hullabaloo is all about a ancient pest in the form of fungus or plant which has the capacity to either revolutionize the world or wipe it out depending on which way you use the pest. The discovery is too significant for it to fall in the hands of the Russians (who knows what havoc they may wreck with it) and since there is no counter agent or "kill switch" in military parlance, it becomes a issue of utmost importance that the Sigma Force protect it at all costs. The only fly in the ointment is that the path to the pest is known only to the Russian tycoon who is being chased by the Russian secret service.

Enter Tucker and Kane, the delta and the MWD. What I liked about this book is that Rollins and Blackwood spend time on the level of bonding between Tucker and Kane and how they are essentially so tightly coupled that they really are extensions of each other. Kane understands what Tucker wants from him and is trained enough to override his basic responses.

The book uniquely also contains a POV from Kane's perspective as he dives into the various caves and tight spaces based on Tuckers command. The reader is taken into Kane's mind, his senses and essentially made to feel what he feels in such scenes. It is a refreshing concept and the authors rightly using it sparingly to retain the effect of the POV switch.

Overall the book is a good read, nothing too outstanding, Rollins's background as a veterinarian comes through in scenes involving Kane and though process behind it. The plot twists are a bit too convenient and at some places the situation appears to be contrived to generate more difficulties for the lead pair. I would rate this book 3.5 stars rounded off 4. The blurb for the next book in the series appears interesting, but so many more interesting things available to read, I would say the next book will be spending some extra time on my waiting list unless it is mind boggling in its own right.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Reading List - April Update

Hey All,

April is with us and there is a lot of reading to get through before the month is out.

First up is my Good Read - A Good Thriller group Book Pals book The Martian by Andy Weir which my book pal for the month Mallory Heart has selected for me to read.

Next up are my various books requested from Net Galley which are essentially ARCs for which I have to provide feedback. Currently making my way through the Consortium series by French author David Khara.

Finally we come to the books that I have taken out from my local library. Me being a glutton for reading I just can't resist myself. I have 4 books,, FOUR from the library to be read. I am currently making head way through one of my favorite authors in thrillers James Rollins's The Kill Switch

I still have 3 Simon Kernick books that I picked up on strong recommendation from my Good Reads friend Sean.

I am hoping to make my way through these books in the month of April, wish me luck and I am going to keep my fingers, toes crossed and hope like hell that my eyes don't cross out on me...

Happy Reading folks,


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Book Review -- The Bleiberg Project by David Khara

The Bleiberg Project: A Consortium ThrillerThe Bleiberg Project: A Consortium Thriller by David S. Khara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Net Galley, the publishers Le French Book and the author David Khara to have provided me with this free edition of the book in exchange for an unbiased and an honest review.

This book is the first of a series about something called as The Consortium and another one of those gems which has been translated from French to make its debut in the English market. With the sheer number of languages spoken and being printed in the world, what we may be missing boggles the mind. But then that is a story for another day as they say…

The novel opens in 1942 Poland with an SS soldier reminiscing of about a Germany free from Hitler's paranoia and ambition all the while awaiting the arrival of Heinrich Himmler himself to the camp that he is guarding. All his reminiscing is for nothing as he is soon dead… an official victim of an assassination attempt against Himmler.

Fast forward to the present day, we are presented with Jeremy Corbain or Jay Novachek as he calls himself a high flying, self pitying Wall Street broker who is greeted with the news that his estranged father is dead. Suddenly thrust into a shadowy world where he no longer knows the good from the bad, Jeremy seeks to make sense of what's happening around him.

The Bleiberg Project takes to the times of writers like Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy who could spin a mean conspiracy thriller of shadowy organizations, secret cabals. The Bleiberg project gives us a shadowy group going by the name of Consortium which wants to redesign the world in its shape. The storyline moves back and forth in the past and present and is tied together effectively with various POVs from the main characters in the stories - Jeremy, his father, Eytan Morg.. The pace is frentic and the story holds your interest in the premise that is monstrous to consider but somehow looks implementable given the state that the world is in right now - genetic mutation on humans.

The quintessential Nazi quest for the perfect Übermensch and the Consortiums quest for creating a new World finds perfect partners in each other and years on clinical trials on humans give them a perfect specimen a child - number 302. When the child escapes from the its captors and with fall of the Reich, the Consortiums returns to the background continuing with its research and pulling the strings from behind.

The novel has its moments of humor with the interaction between the various characters and the dialogues which are alternatively funny, cynical and sarcastic in turns. All kudos to the translator for retaining the humor and the integrity of the dialogs in the process of translation.

A solid 4.5 stars. I would love to read the follow to this ASAP. Ohh… Wait I do have the follow up novel courtesy Net Galley. Well I must get started...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Review -- The Resurrection Maker by Glenn Cooper

The Resurrection Maker: A ThrillerThe Resurrection Maker: A Thriller by Glenn Cooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The very first book that I requested from Net Galley. My many thanks to Net Galley, the publisher Lascaux Media and the author Glenn Cooper for providing me with the ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

The Resurrection Maker is a curious mixture of science, spirituality, religion and quest. The book manages to mix all these aforementioned scenarios while keeping the tempo high enough to sustain interest. Arthur Malory is a grail aficionado. In company of the Grail Loons they meet and debate the various theories of where the Grail might be found.

When Loon founder finds a trail which may lead back to the enigmatic times of King Arthur and his quest for the Grail, Arthur gets involved in the quest when he finds out that he is indeed from nobility carrying the blood and an extra rib right from the time of King Arthur.

The book is plotted very intelligently. The novel movies between the various POVs like Sir Thomas Malory, King Arthur while it is being told in a third person narrative when referencing the current time lines. Cooper plots a tale that makes Jesus's resurrection a scientific fact rather than a religious miracle.

As in all tales you have good questors and you have bad questors… In this game the bad men are the Khem an ancient society of over 2000 years who have been on a quest for the Grail for their own purposes. To study and achieve immortality by using it. The Khem are all brilliant scientists who have come through ages by trying to find the Grail and study it scientifically. They have been alchemists, chemists and finally they are physicists.

The quest for the Grail takes Mallory to a variety of places while trying to be one step ahead of the Khem. I loved the way Cooper introduced the Cathedral of Sangrada Familia in the book and I was thrilled that I learnt about a new place and person from this book. The architectural genius of Antoni Guidi is marvelous and the book is a brilliant tribute to the great man.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review -- I Am Pilgrim by Terry Haynes

I Am Pilgrim: A ThrillerI Am Pilgrim: A Thriller by Terry Hayes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where do I start? This book blew me away. In fact it just torpedoed me out of my slow, mundane and painfully normal existence. Terry Haynes is a screenwriter so the inspiration for the layout of the book is definitely inspired from his screenwriting background. What can I say about this book that has not been said before? It was rated as the Thriller you should not miss for 2014.

Shamefully I missed it, but I am glad I made up for that by reading this sooner than later. The Pilgrim is the story of investigation. It is the story of what happens when you put into mind to chase a ghost and you do chase that ghost successfully. I Am Pilgrim is the story of succeeding when there are no odds in your favor, when you know the last dice has been rolled and you have lost.

Simply put Pilgrim is an audacious read. Once you finish reading the book, it will take you at least an hour to come down to the mundane. The book starts slow with seeming very loose threads, a perfect murder in NY city, a disturbing revelation in the Afghan mountains and a seemingly bizarre death in Turkey.  All unconnected and in no way linked to each other --- or that is what you feel.

Each of this separate incidents are just pieces of a bigger jigsaw puzzle. One that needs to be put together fast, but nobody knows if they have all the pieces of the puzzle. The Pilgrim asks a lot of questions, uncomfortable questions: does a single life outweigh multiple lives? Who decides right and wrong? Hate or Love which is more powerful?

It may look like I am rambling in this post, but the Pilgrim is essentially the story of one person the "Rider Of the Blue" who strives to find the balance between the right and wrong, going till the edge of his sanity but not snapping. In short the Pilgrim is a must read.

There are some drawbacks in the plot as well known well by my Book Pal Freda, which has lead to me to dock half a star, but it is the perfect debut. Good Reads does not let me give .5 stars.. So in a spirit of generosity I rounded it up to 5 instead of rounding it down to 4. A rare few books deserve this honor. I would still ask my friends to read this book, coz this is a book on which hours and hours of discussion can be had. It is a sure shot…

Book Review -- Pandora's Grave by Stephen England

Pandora's Grave (Shadow Warriors #1)Pandora's Grave by Stephen England
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a book that I read in February 2015. But I have gotten time to pen down my review only now...

Stephen England's debut novel Pandora's Grave is a speedy read. The action in the book pretty realistic and the suspense keeps the reader guessing to an extent. If you keep in mind the concept of expecting the unexpected then the suspense in this book is guessable but if you are newbie to the thriller genre the book is bound to surprise you.

I will not go much into the plot premise, that can be found from the book blurb anyways. Harry Nichols is a team man, he lives and breathes and trusts his team, he knows that he has been in some tough spots with his team but with them backing each other to the hilt they have always come up on tops. He trusts his team implicitly. But things are starting to go wrong with the planned mission, there are slip ups and there are mishaps, nothing very serious but they are setting back the tempo of the mission and are causing problems that need to be dealt with.

But the problem is that there is a leak in the team. Somebody is leaking information and Nichols trusts his team, he knows it cannot be one of his people, it has to be someone new who has come into the team. But the stakes are high and failure is not an option. The final show down is in Jerusalem. A place where three major religions have a huge stake and any slip up here can cause a religious war of disastrous consequences.

Major players like Israel, Iran are involved in this and the potential to offend the sensibilities is tremendous. It is a tripwire of humongous proportions and England comes up in spades in managing the taunt storyline while maintaining the suspense for as long as possible without letting up on the action.

This is the first that I have seen on Harvey Nichols and based on what I have seen I would like to see more and happily for me there is more coming up in the form of other novels in the series. A great start and really worth the 4 stars for the high octane action… Action Thrillers have a new star and Stephen England is thy name.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Book Review -- Shadow Ritual by Eric Giancometti and Jacques Ravenne

Shadow RitualShadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to the Author Eric Giancometti and Jacques Ravenne, Publisher Le French Book and NetGalley for providing me with an Advanced Copy of the book for review purposes. I in no way make any profit from my reviews and all the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine and genuine.

I quote this from the publisher "When this book was first released in France, it sold 250,000 copies and was translated into 17 languages. Now it is finally in English. The nine-book series has gone on to sell 2 million copies worldwide."

Now that's a boast and an inherent confidence in the book. This looks intriguing enough to request an ARC from NetGalley for reading...

Having sold a quarter million copies in 17 languages, the English edition of this book is here. I did some searching on GoodReads and discovered that this is the 2nd book in a series of 9 books, but the first released in English.

The book opens in 1945 Berlin, Germany. Hitler's Nazis are about to be overwhelmed by invading Russians. Officers from SS are pulled out for a special mission by the Thule the organization dedicated to the Aryan race within the German Reich, to E&E and then become sleeper agents, waiting for further instructions. Hitler and Nazi Germany is about to be vanquished, but the mind that fuelled the growth of this Reich is being preserved and mutated in a new form for greater purposes.

This is first book that I have read in the series and I am intrigued by the concept. The author weaves together various estoric and cult groups like Knight Templars, Freemasons and the Thule-Gellescahft into a very fast paced and speedy story that races through France. The repartee between the two lead characters Detective Marcas and Special Agent Zewinski is good, they contrast and balance each other effectively and the chemistry between them gives me hope for the upcoming books in the series.

A great debut and very fast paced thriller. A breezy read.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Book Review -- Imperfect Strangers by David Staniforth

Imperfect StrangersImperfect Strangers by David M. Staniforth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Emotions -  they can be so very understood and misunderstood in the same go.

Imperfect Strangers - The title is apt. When does a person change from Stranger to somebody you know? How do you know that the person you think you know is the same all the time? Do you ever know a person completely? So many questions that David Staniforth made me ask myself while reading his debut novel.

The story of Keith is heartbreaking. What strikes you most in the book once you really get started is the bleakness of Keith's surroundings. Keith wants to be normal desperately, but does not know how. He tries hard, he really does, but years of being bullied has left him so socially awkward that he just does not know how to be in company of people.

Imperfect Strangers is the story of emotions. You can live through envy, greed, jealousy, anger, love, hatred with the characters in the book. There is literally a plethora of emotions running riot in the book. Staniforth does not talk or write about heros or do gooders, he writes about people, regular everyday people with their own hopes and aspirations about what their life should be. You can see the need in Keith, the hope for a good life and love in Sally.

It is an explosive debut from a great author. I know of David Staniforth from our common GoodReads group. Our interactions have always been funny, Imperfect Strangers came to me highly recommended from the other members of the group. Reading through the book has been a amazing experience, it takes you through a gamut of emotions. Once I finished the book, it was as if I had undergone a roller coaster ride of emotions. It was a emotional journey. Keith has some serious psychological problems, his childhood chaffing under a brutal parent has left some deep, very deep scars on him which he has been struggling to overcome all his life. Sally is a breath of fresh air in his life. He wants to give her a life she aspires to but him by her side.

Slowly she becomes his all consuming obsession, he wants to give her the perfect life. Even when his actions start becoming creepy you can feel his emotions, his almost desperate desire for Sally and his need to put his past to rest. Staniforth with his portrayal of Keith manages to keep you feeling sorry for him all through the book. Even when the book ends you feel sorry for Keith at the end.

Sally I have mixed thoughts about how I feel for her. While I liked her trying to bring Keith out of his shell and seeing him for more than the bumbling loser, I did not like the way she behaved with him around her peers or that she did it for him out of pity.  She was always out there giving mixed signals about what she wanted from Keith.

I would recommend this book if you are looking for something very emotional and thrilling, it is a roller coaster experience of emotions and a must read in your library. My only peeve is there are some supporting characters whom I would have liked to see more of like Keith's elderly neighbor, Steve and Sally's niece who was the only person who could connect to Keith unconditionally.

A full 5 stars.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Book Review - New China by Barry Sierer

New ChinaNew China by Barry Sierer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: I received a free copy from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

China is in the middle of political transition. The once in a decade changeover of power is taking place in Beijing and in the middle of a turbulent transition of power in China, it implodes. The compromise candidate put in place by the powerful business group faction of the Politburo decides to crack down on the protest happening in HongKong over the rising disparity between the rich and poor in China. A Chinese General with his own interpretation of right and wrong and what the country needs cracks down in the protest and does so brutally. In scenes reminiscent of the Tienanmen Square massacre people are butchered in broad daylight and every attempt to muzzle the media is made. But a tape of the massacre survives and thus begins a series of power plays and activities by various groups struggling to control China. 

[Spoiler Alert]
In a follow up  bloody coup the entire top level leadership of the Politburo is exterminated with extreme prejudice and suddenly the situation takes a turn for the worse and makes it a free for all. With various international powers having various vested stakes in China it is a race suddenly it is a free for all for the different groups to have their own pliable group having the power in China. Britain has its own ambitions in wanting to bring an transition into China, the President of America is being blackmailed to get into the escalating conflict because of the vested business interests. The situation is tenuous and feels like a power keg. [End Spoiler Alert] 

Who will benefit if China implodes? The complex Geo political constraints of the Asian sub continent make it difficult to predict. The Chinese have always marched to their own beat and have been insolent at times to the point of snubbing their noses at their neighbors or the Western Countries. What makes the plot even more plausible is the lack of transparency in China. Everything is controlled by the government or the party. The Media, the internet, the television..  you name it and they control it. Also China's human rights record is known. Enough said on that. China is irreplaceable in the current world economy and it wields its financial muscle without any prejudice. But the stability and the peace will be maintained as long as people don't dig deep. The moment you do so, it is a difficult game altogether and not a pretty sight.

Sierer deals with the complex equations and various players in the game very efficiently. The action is good and the complexities are very real and possible. New China is a look at the worst case scenario, it may not necessarily happen, but if it does, the implication are terrifying is not downright horrifying.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book Review - Follow The Leader by Mel Sherratt

Follow The LeaderFollow The Leader by Mel Sherratt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would like to thank NetGalley, the publication house and the author for making this copy available to me for a free unbiased review.

My first Mel Sherratt book courtesy NetGalley. She came highly recommended from my goodread group "A Good Thriller" so I was excited and anxious to read the book. It was worth the praise, every bit of it.

Follow the Leader is thought provoking, the suspense, the intrigue is good, but what resonated the most with me as a reader were the emotions. Emotions of the killer even as he killed and you wanted him stopped it made you think "Isn't he justified?". Emotions of a sister who shares the guilt and blame for the rape and brutal assault of her sister. Who wants her sister by her side even if it is a half existance. She would rather take that than not have her sister with her at all.

Most importantly Follow the Leader through the eyes of the killer shows us that actions have consequences. The antagonist is bullied as a child, mercilessly even by his peers and his home conditions are even more deplorable. These things by itself may not mean much, but taken together they paint a very dark picture about the conditions in which the antogonist grows up. These events, incidents leave a mark on him and make him into the killer that he becomes when he wants revenge from his old nemesis.

By giving a look into the pysche of the killer and his reasons for his killing spree, Sherratt generates empathy for the antagonist. The rationale behind the killings is apparent, even though the crimes are heinous can anybody blame the antagonist for going on it especially when the victims made his life hell on earth everyday. The actions may be childish but the outcome was a huge scar on an already scarred soul.

A dark read, but all too chillingly real. This could be a story in progress currently at any part of the world today. This could be the future of some person tomorrow and that precisely is what makes the book so soul tearingly haunting. If the antagonist carries a chip on his shoulder from his woebegone childhood, then DS Allie Shelton is hounded by nightmares of her guilt in what she believes is her part in the rape and assault of her sister almost 17 years ago. When the serial killing takes a turn with a rape and assault of a teen, Shelton rightly believes that it is a message to her from her sisters assailant.

The book is a work of art and I am now a worshipper at the altar of Mel Sherratt. A must read.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Book Review -- Exclusive by Sandra Brown

ExclusiveExclusive by Sandra Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Exclusive by Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown’s novels are typical in their approach, a good drop dead looking hero, a unassuming all around bleeding heart heroine, a villain who will go any lengths to achieve his objective and a plot which follows the formula.

Heroine is down on luck, do gooder who catches a seemingly luck break - Check .

Hero is a tough, macho guy who keeps his silence - Check

A heinous, nefarious crime that has been covered up and needs to be exposed for what it is exposing the villain - Check, check

A twist at the end of the tale Check

While formulaic, where Brown excels is in her characterization, she creates various plots and scenes where nobody looks innocent, the motives of everybody is questioned until the end where the reader gets to know the suspense and then wonders back how the hell did they miss those clues.

This is what makes Sandra Brown stand out from the crowd of writers writing mystery, suspense, romance thrillers. The ability to draw the reader into the conclusions that she wants them to draw and then spring a surprise on her.

Sandra Brown scores consistently high in the thriller genre due to this. Hence the 4 star rating even though the book is formulaic.

Verdict: The plot twists will keep you engaged. Give it a whirl.

Book Review -- The Tesla Secret by Alex Lukeman

The Tesla Secret (The Project, #5)The Tesla Secret by Alex Lukeman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Picked this book up for free from Amazon Kindle courtesy of The premise looked interesting and book looked short enough in terms of number of pages to read through in a single day.

The title in GoodReads did say it was #5 in a series written by Lukeman about a agency called THE PROJECT. But still I figured what the heck!! I will read through this and if the book feels good then I will pick up the remaining book in the series as they become available through Amazon on a lowered price range.

The book was interesting, it did not offer too many technical details, the action was good and the scenes moved at a decent clip. The series is touted by Lukeman based on the lead pair Nick Carter & Selena Connor, it is more involved in its characterization as based on different members of THE Project team.

It is a quick breezy read, the action is good and there is right amount of emotions within the team members and the dynamics between the lead pair. I was intrigued and will pick up the other books from the author as and when they are available.

A good start and another good author find. I would give the book a good 3 stars in rating.

Verdict: Read

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review -- The War Planners by Andrew Watts

The War PlannersThe War Planners by Andrew  Watts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow!!! Andrew Watts's  The War Planners  is an amazing novella. It has suspense, it has mystery and most importantly it ends with a cliff hanger. A short read around 86 pages, but it is nonetheless packed with twists and turns.

David Manning is a retired Navy soldier working for In-Q-Tel a CIA  backed venture fund which spotted potential technology which will allow US to maintain its technological advantage over its contemporaries. He is abducted on his way back home and flow to a remote island in the middle of nowhere where he meets other people with experience and expertise in technology, military, intelligence, strategy and what not... They are called The Red Cell and they have 3 weeks to put together the most devastating plan where they will forecast the worst possible attack scenarios that China can come up with if it wants to overcome the United States in an unconventional warfare.

Asymmetric warfare at its deadliest. Everything looks legit... but David's instincts are off, and he is worried that things are not as they seem...

The novella sets the right tone, the dialogue is crisp without going too much into the technical details which may divert the readers attention.

My only peeve with this is that it left me hanging at the end... I want to read through to the end and know what happens and I want to know it now....

Andrew are you listening... Andrew....

Book Review -- Eye for an Eye by Ben Coes

Eye for an Eye (Dewey Andreas, #4)Eye for an Eye by Ben Coes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fates hate Dewey Andreas. Whenever Andreas has something good going on in his life, Fate seems ready to rain on his parade. One Tough Man showed the world, what one-pissed off Delta out for revenge is capable of. Coup D'Etat was more of the same.

In these two books, while Andreas was always a mean son of a bitch he was also slowly mellowing down from his always angry, always drunk redneck attitude. The reason for that mellowing was Jessica Tanzer. Parallely introduced along with Andrews in Book#1 she has been a bigger part of the reason why Andreas was returning slowing to the civilization after spending a decade as a loner out in the woods after the death of his son and the suicide of his wife.

Andreas’s life changed with his increasing interactions with Tanzer, while he will always be the rough, kick ass Delta; the self-destructive and suicidal behavior was a thing of the past. With life looking up for him in the form of Tanzer, Andreas slowed a bit, he got more used to planning things, asking for help from others and slowly being ready to work as a part of the team as we saw in Book#3 which enabled the rescue of Kohl Meir and the recovery of Iranian nuke.

Andreas also exposed the mole within Mossad who is then killed brutally by Meir as Book#3 ended. Retaliation was always expected, when it did I was expecting it to come from the Iranians. Coes outdid himself when he introduced a new albeit the most ruthless and malevolent villains in the form of Fao Bhang.

Operating with impunity from the shadowy corridors of power within Beijing, Bhang has a personal vendetta against Andreas. The Mossad mole was somebody who Bhang owed his position and power to and his death was a direct insult to the powerful chief of the Ministry of Secret Service (MSS). Bhang wanted Andreas dead at any cost. A kill team is readied to take him out and Tanzer gets caught in the crossfire.

Andreas loses somebody important from his life again. This time right in his arms and he his pissed. He is beyond pissed. Learning of the role played by Calibrisi and his co-horts in drawing out Bhang, Andreas loses his composure and breaks off from them.

Never piss a Delta to the point where he doesn’t care what happens to him, coz you can never plan for what he will do, Andreas in a daring and unimagined move, kills Bhangs half-brother inside China. While CIA and MI6 tries to catch up to Andreas and protect him, Bhangs blood is up at the death of his brother. A TEP order for Andreas is issued internationally by the MSS and it is open season on Andreas. With personal recognition and the highest possible service award at stake, the Chinese operatives are ready to take unparallel risk to eliminate Andreas.

What follows is a no hold barred, only one will survive fight between Andreas and the entire might commanded by the MSS. With even his family is targeted for extermination, only the quick thinking actions of his 13-year old nephew who fortunately was in the right place, at the right time with the right weapon to save the Andreas family from being killed outright. [Spoiler Alert!!] Plots and counter plots within Chinese politburo played by Bhang against the Chinese Premier Li and Li’s counter strategy gains Andreas an unlikely ally when he targets Bhang inside China and exterminates him with extreme prejudice. [End Alert!!]

Eye for an Eye is an entertainer. It is rare among the thriller books that character development takes place for any character other than the lead character. But Coes manages to develop important characters like Hector Calibrisi, Rob Tacoma, President Denenbach amongst other. Interspersed with action are real nuggets of spying and sleuthing when the team formed to find Andreas turns over the smallest rock to get a clue.

In conclusion, Eye of an Eye is an emotional journey for Andreas. Book#3 saw him take on unparallel odds in debt of a friend, this one sees him take on the might of any entire country to avenge his love. At the end of the book Andreas is at a crossroads, he straining under emotional loads with nobody to talk to, Tanzer was his safety valve, his release outlet, now she’s gone he has to start all over again and his enemies are still around. Let’s not forget Abu Paria or even Mahmoud Nava from Book#3. It is clear that they will not forget Andreas saving Meir and taking their nuke from them so easily.

Book#5 will be a cracker IMO as it will have Andreas emotionally unstable and the world which needs saving.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review -- A Spy Came Home by H.N.Wake

A Spy Came HomeA Spy Came Home by H.N. Wake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author in return for an unbiased review. I can attest that the review below is unbiased and entirely my own thoughts.

The premise of the book was interesting. It deals with a topic on which America is completely, utterly and absolutely divided. Gun-Control. The books mirrors the current situation in America so in addition to a thriller it is a political plot as well. Hmm.. that's enough to garner my interest on any day.

Cal Bertrand - a 15 year ATF veteran is in the doghouse. Given a punishment posting pushing paperwork, Cal is waiting for his time out when he gets a confidential State Department cable from an anonymous email account.

Gun Control Legislation is about to come up for vote in the Senate. The pro-Gun lobby SFG is going all out to ensure that it is defeated. Two friends - mothers themselves and having lost people to the violence of guns; recruit Mac Ambrose their childhood friend and a CIA officer - who has spent 20 years of her life working for Langley - to make sure that the Gun Control bill goes through the Senate. They want a free, fair and non-lobbied voting where the Senators will listen to their constituents and not the lobbyists.

The story follows Mac as she goes about sabotaging the SFG to ensure that the Senate Legislation on banning the semi-automatic weapons goes through. The storyline moves along Mac's past and the present where a lot of things that make Mac are revealed. The pace of the book is steady which holds a readers interest and the plot is tight.While there are many exploratory detours made, none which take the spotlight away from the story (always a plus IMO) the focus is on the mission to stop SFG. Wake perseveres in keeping the story on throughout the novel.

The readers get insights on Mac Ambrose and what makes her tick through the snippets of her life as the book moves into flashback and how that situation ties into the current scene. Her personality and her reasons for doing things the way she does are explored thoroughly. [Spoiler] We find out that Mac was compromised in China, she underwent torture and even rape.  [Spoiler end] While Mac is on the mission to ensure that the gun-control legislation goes through, Cal Bertrand is hot on her heels trying to find out who is responsible for sabotaging SFG so close to the legislation. As Cal chases Mac, she always ensures that she is one step ahead.

A Spy Came Home deals with an very interesting subject often ignore, the CIA Officers who spend their lifetimes abroad collecting information, turning and running agents for their country. It is not a glamorous or a thrill seeking or a James Bond-esque life as mentioned by Mac to her lady friends who equate her life to a Hollywood action story.

The question to ponder is what happens to these officers when they come home. Do they fit in or is life a daily struggle as Mac finds out while she tries to reconcile with her old life, pick the pieces and then move ahead.

A solid start a good female lead character in the form of Mac Ambrose whose strong suit is subtlety. Something which her adrenaline fueled male counterparts don’t understand much. I for one would like to read more of Mac Ambrose.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Book Review: The Last Refuge by Ben Coes

The Last Refuge (Dewey Andreas, #3)The Last Refuge by Ben Coes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ben Coes shifts focus from the Indian subcontinent to the war torn, intrigue prone Middle East in his latest explosive Dewey Andreas#3 - The Last Refuge.

The premise is extraordinary. Israel has traditionally been a tipping point, a rallying cry amongst the nations of the Middle East. Coes throws all that pent up hatred and warring into the limelight with the ultimate what if scenario? What if any nation in the Middle East would become nuclear armed? What if they were to bomb Israel? What will Israel do?

It is this fear of Israel’s retaliation that has keep the Middle East in check. The unilateral actions taken by Israel in protecting its sovereign and in pursuing all those who have harmed Israel to their graves is legendary; from Nazi torturers to Palestinian terrorists - Israel has extracted its pound of flesh every time it has been provoked.

Kohl Meir  - Dewey Andreas’s rescuer from Book#2 is kidnapped by VEVAK the Iranian secret service. As the great-grandson of Golda Meir Kohl is a high value target. He is being held at Evin prison, the most secure and frightening prison in all of Iran. Dewey Andreas is not somebody who will let this go, especially as it was Kohl and his Shayetet Thirteen which had saved his life at the cost of sacrificing 7 Israeli soldiers. Andreas makes it his mission to get Kohl Meir out of Iran alive. A tough ask by any sense.

Soon this mission spirals into an impossible one with the news leaking that Iran have successfully created an nuke and is getting it ready to target Tel Aviv. Rescuing Meir and saving Tel Aviv becomes important and an unattainable priority by the looks of it; with leaks in Mossad, CIA and a new President at helm of US ready to extend the hand of friendship towards Iran, Andreas does not have many options and he has to improvise on the fly.

With Israel targeting high profile Iranians worldwide in retaliation for the kidnapping and imprisonment of Meir; the mullahs of the Supreme Council blinded by their hatred of Israel decide to unleash their weapon. Time is running out for Andreas and with no logistical, operational and tactical support from the US government or the CIA this may prove to be an impossible mission for him…

But Andreas has allies,  Iranian information minister Lon Qassom and Taris Darwil a journalist for Al Jazeera are working overtime to find out where the nuke is located, so that Andreas can be informed and Tel Aviv saved. Sacrificing their lives in getting the word out to Andreas, they strive to show that there are some good Iranians still left.

Going up against an fanatical Mahmoud Nava - hell bent on nuking Tel Aviv and the sadistic Abu Paria the chief of VEVAK - a ruthless, intelligent man who will let nothing come in his way of maintaining the status quo in Iran, Andreas has his work cut out for him. Throw in a double dealing Mossad agent, a China working off its own plans - Andreas is facing insurmountable odds.

Reading through the book, the reader understands Andreas’s rationale and his utmost determination to save Kohl Meir. Afterall it is a favor owed to a man who saved his life against improbable odds. You can almost sympathize with Andreas’s feeling of being at cross roads with himself. He wants to live a life of his own but at the same time he can’t let go of his duties to his country when it needs him the most.

Andreas is a flawed hero, he drinks almost excessively, is prone to depression, does not value his life, undertakes almost suicidal missions to make peace with what he feels is his fault for the death of his wife and child. He can also kill in cold blood in pursuit of his aims. Andreas can be any soldier or operative who has survived the forge of war and come back home only to find that while he was busy surviving the world has moved forward without him.

A 3.5 stars rounded off to 4. Ben Coes continues to tell a good story using Dewey Andreas.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tom Wood - The Anti-Hero Writer

Tom Wood is newest, hottest and the most exciting name in Thriller genre today. He exploded on the scene with The Hunter.Victor (no last name known) is an assassin. In face we are not even sure if Victor is his original name. A man who is at the top of his game.  A nameless, faceless assassin. Tom Woods chose to write the story of an anti-hero, a man who stays in shadows. A man who does every movement with economy so that none is wasted. A man who performs to the peak of his ability because he has conditioned his body to do so and above all a man who is supremely and extremely disconnected with the world. Victor is the perfect killer.

The Hunter introduced Victor, Bad Luck in Berlin showed a side of him that was human. The Enemy saw Victor moving from freelance assignments to working as a off books contractor exclusively for CIA under duress due to the events in The Hunter. The Game saw Victor come up against an fellow assassin as ruthless and as deadly as him, but even more cold blooded. Following the events of The Game Victor turned protector as a favor to an old acquaintance instead of being on the other side of the barrel in No Hold Barred. Victor came up against his toughest opponents in the form of Nieve Anderson and Sinclair.

What makes the story of an assassin so enthralling? Authors have always written about assassins, cloaked in mystique and suspense they have always been around serving as a plot device, brought in and out of the storyline as and when desired but never in spotlight. Never the lead. That changed when Tom Wood wrote about Victor.

Victor is a man with no past, no future but only present. Victor is us. There is a Victor in everyone of us. What makes Victor so intriguing or even exciting to read about is we want to live vicariously through him, live a life outside the long reach of the law, always in the moment, always in the tenterhooks and always waiting - ready to strike at a moments notice. It is this darkness that draws us to Victor and Wood does an amazingly good job of writing Victor in such a way that every book reveals one facet of Victors character and leaves you on the tenterhooks wanting for more.

Never has any author dare to glorify the villain, the person who does the dirty deed. Tom Wood has done that with Victor and thus break free of the shackles of right and wrong, the moral compass of the story shifts dramatically with Victor in the spotlight as the rights become wrong and the wrongs become right. This is essence is the true genius of Tom Wood.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book Review - The Masada Complex by Avraham Azriel

The Masada ComplexThe Masada Complex by Avraham Azrieli

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I heard good things about this author in the reviews left by my fellow GoodReaders. It was the reviews that inspired me to pick up this book. This is the first book that I have read of Avraham Azrieli. I must admit I am confused after reading this book. It propagates the idea that Palestinians are all terrorists and Israels excesses are justified due to them fighting for their promised land.

I disagree, the plot was good enough, but it also rode high on showing that there is nothing that Israel does not know or it does not manipulate to suit its purposes.

Masada El-Tal the titular heroine is a disillusioned sabra who left Israel in disgust after the death of her brother due to bureaucratic rigmarole. She has made a new home in America where her investigative skills have earned her a Pulitzer and brought down two Senators with her exposes. Her expose of a corrupt Senator helping Israel push through laws in its favor starts a dramatic political shift away from the Israel in America. Just when we are dealing with this, Azrieli deals an ace by showing that all these events are being manipulated by Levy Silver who is a Palestinian in the garb of a Jew out to destroy Israel by any means and planning this plot for around 20 years now.

In a twist of fate the paths of Levy Silver and Masada are crossed by personal tragedy that occurred at the start of the book where they both lost their loved ones and their paths crossed each other.

The scene is set for a intriguing finale where the reader is holding their breath to find out if the America-Israel relation will be lost and new Palestine will rise in its place or if Masada will be able to expose the conspiracy for what it is - a plot to disgrace Israel.

However Azrieli complicates things by indulging in religious dogma by both Rabbi Josh and Prof. Silver. Also what got my goat was that Masada was literally showcased as a superwomen who survived a car crash, arson, and numerous other assassination attempts.

The ultimate cliche of the entire thing being a plot instigated by Israel just to paint the Palestinians in a bad light was a bit too much. The other stereotypical typecasting of Palestinians and a bit of Islamophobhia came up in the end. The Palestinians merciless disregard for a pregnant woman and turning her into a suicide bomber just to serve their purpose was too much to digest and lead to the loss of couple of stars. Rabbi Josh also came across as a fanatic caught between the scriptures, his love for Masada and struggling to cope with the loss of his wife and son. His character did not serve any purpose other than that of a smokescreen to send Masada on a wild goose chase.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review -- The Warrior by Ty Patterson

The Warrior (Warriors, #1)The Warrior by Ty Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my second Indie author venture. For those of you who don't know Indie = independently published author. An author whose books are published directly on Amazon. No publisher involved or rather self publishing. I came to know about Ty Patterson's books through the group A Good Thriller which we are both members of. Ty commented on one of my posts within the group with a comment that was in no way a self promoting comment. It made me look him up on GoodReads and from there to his books. While I must say I did not pay $0.99 for his book, having gotten this one for free by signing up for his website. I am curious about the series. It deals with the murky and shadowy world of private contracting. This is what I have gotten from reading the blurb on the book jacket so far. It is an intriguing world to say the least, most of the off books and black ops these days are done using the private contractors - they have no oversight, no rules of engagement binding them and they don't answer to the Geneva Convention. For the right price the private contractors can deliver you what you want - no questions asked. They will even gift wrap it up for you if necessary. Such is this world of secretive deals and even secretive operatives. They are for the lack of a better word modern day mercenaries available for sale to the highest bidder.

These facts make it all the more interesting that no big ticket author has take a crack at this angle for setting any of their series. The novel starts off in Congo where a mass butchering has just happened and a person who could help was asked to stay put and just recon. They say to catch a thief put a thief on his trail. Similarly there are some private contractors gone rogue in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Zeb is called in to find and report on them. The narrative changes from first person to third person and back within the chapter and it is a bit jarring at first to go from first person to third person, but eventually the reader adapts to the back and forth. Thus begins The Warrior series. Patterson does a very good job of introducing the readers to a group of special ops veterans who are a tight knit group.

I liked Zeb. The character has a lot of layers built into him. Of course he is a kick-ass operative who is stern and stoic, but he also has a lot of tenderness in him which comes out when he plays ball with his sisters neighbors son Rory. He is determined and ruthless in his pursuit of the mass murderers but he is also careful in keeping the innocents out of the harms way. The Black Warriors introduced by Patterson are equally good and if The Warrior was Zeb's story then I would like to read about the rest of them one by one in the other books in the series while they are out dealing their brand of justice.

Sometimes vigilante style justice is what is needed. The Warrior is the story of powerful people twisting, breaking and manipulating law and getting away with it.. almost. It is about how the world does not care for the lesser countries in the world beyond paying lip service to the cause. It is about the system that manages the world is broken but there are still people who care enough to fight for it.

It is an interesting debut and a very fast read. So looking forward to the other books in the series. I promise you Ty they are on my shopping list at Amazon and very soon will be reviewed here as well.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Review -- Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

Mean StreakMean Streak by Sandra Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sandra Brown is a master of suspense and intrigue. Her books are always set out to bring the worst out of the readers deduction capabilities. After reading a Brown novel when you look back you say how was I so wrong about that? How could I have missed this? How the heck did that happen? The questions that you have once you read through to the end of the novel are along similar lines and none of them provide you any answer other than the obvious one - WE ARE TRAINED TO THINK THE WORST OF A PERSON.

Mean Streak is as the title says, its about the mean streak possessed by everyone the protagonist, the antagonist, the side kicks, the hero, the heroine.. I mean literally everybody. The book has so many twists and turns that it feels as if the reader is on a roller coaster ride, hurtling from one ride to another and thinking where the heck is my stomach? This is only the third novel that I have read from Brown following The Crush and The Alibi earlier. Both books were good solid suspense page turners and I must say Mean Streak does not disappoint either.

Mean Streak deals with the kidnapping/murder plot of Dr. Emory Charbonneau who is a regular do gooder. When she gets kidnapped while training for the upcoming marathon that she is organizing the needle of suspicion falls on her husband who's been having an affair with Emory's friend behind her back. While things seem relatively straight forward, nothing is as it seems including an enigmatic stranger who save Emory when she is concussed. It is only natural that our Dr. falls head over heels in love with the stranger who would not even give her his name. Thus begins a cat and mouse game where the reader is left wondering just who is the suspect there. Everybody seems to be the suspect except for our fair maiden. While the needle of suspicion points sorely at the enigmatic stranger the husbands hands are not so clean as well.

Brown takes the reader on a rollicking ride of suspense interspersed with her trademark steamy scenes. While they come across as a bit crude and written for the peanut gallery, I am docking a star for them being out of place in an otherwise crisp storyline.

Overall the plot is good and keeps the reader hooked up until the end to guess who the murderer/kidnapper is. I would rate this one a good 3.5 stars.

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 - Mission 45

This year I have set myself a target of 45 books in GoodReads. While goodreads will help me keep track on my books, I also plan on writing 45 reviews; 1 for each of the book I read. Keeping that in mind at minimum 45 blog posts will be posted by me on the blog, more traction that the blog has seen in some time.

So the first review can be expected sometime in the next couple of weeks. Currently I am reading Mean Streak by Sandra Brown and that will have the honor or being the first book review post on the blog for 2015.

Keep the view and the comments coming, I know it is a tall ask for comments, but at the very least a line saying the review sucks should not take more than 60 secs of your time.

Cheers and here's to happy reading in 2015!!!!