Friday, August 22, 2014

On Scope, by Jack Coughlin

This novel starts off rough: the author tries to use as many adjectives as he can fit into a sentence in some parody of descriptive writing.  Fortunately that awkwardness abated after a few pages, except for some instances of repetitiveness.  Overall, Mr. Coughlin would benefit from a better editor.

The genre is "extreme jingoism, forget about civil liberties or even the Constitution, special forces operators are going to kill bad guys as they see fit."   The good news is that Mr. Coughlin included key female operators as characters and gave them every bit the capabilities as the men.  The plot was a bit cookie cutter, but interesting enough to read to the end.  This isn't a champagne read, but it is like cold light beer on a hot day.

On Scope: A Sniper Novel (Kyle Swanson Sniper Novels)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Abomination, by Jonathan Holt

Mr. Holt refers to this novel as the first in a trilogy and I look forward to reading the next installment. The setting is Venice, and from the detailed descriptions of the city I can't decide if I'm eager to go there or happy to avoid it at all cost.   Three heroes are introduced:  Carabiniere Captain Kat Tapo, US Army 2nd Lieutenant Holly Boland, and strange mathematician and computer programmer extraordinaire Daniele Barbo.   All three end up in Venice and come together in a beautifully orchestrated intertwined plot.

The story is credible; this is dramatic fiction not a shoot-em-up mass market suspense novel (and I enjoy those too).  The writing is great, the plot, the character development - simply outstanding.  Highly recommended.

Boland gets involved due to a Freedom of Information Act request by a woman who is later found murdered, hence Tapo's participation.  Barbo plays a role for two reasons: he built the massive multi-player environment in which several informants communication for anonymity, and because his long term mentor, Gilroy is a former CIA agent in Italy who is also involved in the situation.  That situation being a conspiracy including the Catholic Church taking offense to women who claim to be priests, private military contractors, and NATO.   But really, it does all come together.

The Abomination: A Novel (Carnivia Trilogy, The)

Buddha's Brain, by Rick Hanson

Imagine you're curious about "new age" concepts of meditation or positive imaging, but you're an analytical empiricist for whom touchy feely books about Buddhism or meditation feel too far out.  Then this book is for you.   Dr. Hanson is a (PhD) neuropsychologist, and his co-author Dr. Mendius (MD) is a neurologist.  Their book takes an approach of mapping a physiological and neurological view of the brain to behavioral changes that can benefit the reader.

The introduction of concepts like breath awareness and meditation are so subtle that I can't imagine anyone would be put off by them.

My only objection is the authors' promotion of supplements (vitamins) at the end of the book; recent reputable studies[1] imply that there is no value to using any of these.

[1] Guallar E, Stranges S, Mulrow C, Appel LJ, Miller ER 3rd. Enough is enough: Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements. Ann Intern Med. 2013 Dec 17;159(12):850-1. Erratum in: Ann Intern Med. 2014 Jan 21;160(2):143. PubMed  PMID: 24490268. Retrieved from

Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Plague, by Victor Methos

With the right editing, this might be a good novel.   As is, the plot jumps around quite a bit.  The book did keep my interest though I was not pleased with the ending.   Plot spoiler follows, if you plan to read the novel, stop here. I doubt many discerning readers will be encouraged to stop.

The hero is Dr. Samantha Bower, who works for the CDC and makes irrational and poor decisions.   Some of the other supporting characters are interesting, but - did I mention that everyone dies at the end?

Plague - A Medical Thriller (The Plague Trilogy Book 1)

Primal Origin, by Jack Silkstone

In this first volume of Mr. Silkstone's series, a wealthy young businessman in the Emirates decides to fund a group of former military special forces ops to build his own vigilante organization.  Presumably targeting terrorists that otherwise are off the table for government intervention due to political reasons. The group's name is the acronym PRIMAL, hence the title.

Given that description, this book is everything you would expect.  Sketchy plots, impossible saves, and a general disregard for the law.

PRIMAL Origin: A Novella (The PRIMAL Series Book 1)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Nostradamus File, by Alex Lukeman

I'm on a roll, going through all the books in Mr. Lukeman's "Project" series.   See my prior posts for context.

The Nostradamus File (The Project Book 6)

The Tesla Secret, by Alex Lukeman

I'm on a roll, going through all the books in Mr. Lukeman's "Project" series.   See my prior posts for context.

The Tesla Secret (The Project Book 5)

The Seventh Pillar, by Alex Lukeman

I'm on a roll, going through all the books in Mr. Lukeman's "Project" series.   See my prior posts for context.

The Seventh Pillar (The Project Book 3)

The Lance, by Alex Lukeman

After reading volume seven of Mr. Lukeman's series about a small US spy organization called the Project, I decided to read more of his books.   I'm not sure why I started with number two, this one, but I'll get to the first volume eventually.

This isn't literature; it is fast moving adventure / spy writing.  Forget credibility and artistic turns of phrase.  But you do get a well paced plot and just enough character development to keep it interesting.

The main character is super spy Nick Carter.  His boss is Elizabeth Harker who is portrayed as sane and competent.  Carter inevitably has a girl friend as a team member, Selena Connor.  Stephanie is the mandatory computer genius / hacker.  Ronnie is the mysterious American Indian and Lamont the obligatory black man.

Sounds trite, yes?   Perhaps, but I'm going to keep reading this series.

The Lance (The Project Book 2)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kinder Than Solitude, by Yiyun Li

The writing is good but this novel just isn't my cup of tea.   Ms. Li represents real literature (as opposed to the usual rot that I read), so I'm a bit distressed that I didn't like it.  But that's the way it goes.

Part of the problem for me is that I dislike books that shift back and forth in time, as this one does.   I also found myself ambivalent about learning who among three one-time friends poisoned Shaoai long ago, leading to her death many years later.   But there's much more to the story than this mystery; it is about the feelings of two Chinese emigres to the USA.

Kinder Than Solitude: A Novel