The Blog's Mission

Wikipedia defines a book review as: “a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review”. My mission is to provide the reader with my thoughts on the author’s work whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. I read all genres of books, so some of the reviews may be on hard to find books, or currently out of print. All of my reviews will also be available on I will write a comment section at the end of each review to provide the reader with some little known facts about the author, or the subject of the book. Every now and then, I’ve had an author email me concerning the reading and reviewing of their work. If an author wants to contact me, you can email me at I would be glad to read, review and comment on any nascent, or experienced writer’s books. If warranted, I like to add a little comedy to accent my reviews, so enjoy!
Thanks, Rick O.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


It seems our protagonist, Tyler Hawthorne, should have died on the battlefield of Waterloo some 200 years ago. Luckily Adrian deville, Lord Varre, shows up to save his life with one catch. Tyler must hear final thoughts of terminal people and convey the messages to the loved ones. He is also given a cemetery dog, Shade, to protect him along with a ring that seems to heal any of his injuries immediately. Why Lord Varre would loan Tyler the ring just so he could age a bit is unclear.

This is the first novel I have read by Jan Burke, and I enjoyed it. However I did think the tale about the mysterious ring and Lord Varre a tad nebulous. I think Jan Burke could have given the reader a little more background on how the ring and its powers evolved.

The story starts off with Eduardo Leblanc, a salvage diver, finding a small locked chest below the Caribbean sea. The chest apparently holds the ashes of our antagonist, Lord Varre! How did he survive 200 years without the powers of the ring? It seems Lord Varre wants his ring back and uses Eduardo and others to locate Tyler Hawthorne. While his servants are locating Tyler, Lord Varre is being resurrected by millions of disgusting bugs! Jan Burke doesn't explain to the reader how this is done. The lack of clarification throughout the novel is the weak part of Burkes' writing.

When Tyler meets a haunted Amanda Clarke and her friend Ron, the story is off and running. I'm not going to give away any more details, but the story starts to get interesting after this occurs. To Jan Burkes' credit, the rest of the novel takes off as a real page turner. The ending was well constructed and conceived. I prefer a novel to be about 500 pages, so I was a little disappointed with the 305 of this book.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Comment: Since I haven't read any of Jan Burkes' Irene Kelly series, I shouldn't be so critical, but it is how I judge it. For Burke fans, she has a new Irene Kelly book coming out 6/21/2011 called Disturbance: An Irene Kelly Novel.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Isabella is not a character in this book, but is a 40 billion dollar supercollider particle accelerator. America hopes to find new sources of energy from this project, but is this what project leader Gregory Hazelius has in mind? Douglas Preston writes a exciting book with the action going back and forth between Washington D.C. and the Red Mesa area of a Navajo Reservation in the Arizona mountains.

Presidential Science Advisor Stanton Lockwood hires ex-CIA agent Wyman Ford to find out what's delaying the research. You might remember Ford from previous novels. He goes to Arizona, undercover as a Navajo liaison, and runs into plenty of trouble with the Navajos and the insane Pastor Eddy followers. Washington D.C. lobbyist Booker Crawley, in a attempt to bilk money out of the Navajo nation, inspires the disgraced televangelist Don T. Spates to incite the Christian world. Spates tells the world that the goal of the project is to prove The Big Bang Theory is real and the Bible is not.

Meanwhile in Arizona, the researchers are having continuing program malfunctions. Can this be a glitch or is GOD trying to talk to them? Is GOD guiding mankind to a new religion? You will have to read all 414 pages to find out the explosive ending! This is a book that you will not be able to put down. Kudos to Douglas Preston for a fresh idea marrying religion and science. The theory that a supercollider particle accelerator can suck Earth into a minature black hole has always intrigued me. We will find out since The Cernier Company, a physics research firm, is currently building the world's largest supercollider just outside of Geneva, Switzerland.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment: I was starting to sour on Douglas Preston till I read this novel and The Monster of Florence recently. If you like this book, also read the agent Pendergast novels written with Lincoln Child.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


This is a 2004 sci-fi book that I'm reviewing because I think it's important to sci-fi fans. Once you read this book, you will immediately want to read the next three in this John Scalzi series. It reminds me of the Mars series written by John Varley.

Can you imagine yourself at 75 years old joining the Army? Can you imagine the consciousness of your brain being transferred to a brain in a young green body? Now you are a member of Colonial Defense Force (CDF). You now have Smartblood, a brainpal computer in your head, and a ten year hitch. But you are not on Earth, you are fighting aliens in a faraway galaxy. If somehow you survive the ten years, you will be transferred out of the green body into a normal body and be given property on a alien planet that you helped colonize! Wow! I have to give John Scalzi credit for making everything in this book so easy to understand, unlike author Vernor Vinge.

The main character in this book is John Perry, who meets and fights many aliens, including the superior Consu race. We also meet his dead wife, Kathy. Kathy died before she could enlist, but returns as Jane Sagan, as a member of the Ghost Brigades. The confrontation between them is comical, since she doesn't know who John Perry is.

In this book, you will learn about skip drive, the old farts, the Rraeys', and CDF colonies. This is where I will stop. I'm not going to give the ending away, but it is good. You will be depressed that the book ended, but good news - there are three more books in this series waiting for you!

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment : I didn't give it five stars, because I wanted the book 200 pages longer! John Scalzi's new book comes out 5/10/2011 called Fuzzy Nation. Another of my favorite authors, Dan Simmons, has a new book coming out 7/1/2011 called Flashback.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

THE FORT, A Novel of the Revolutionary War

Bernard Cornwell, the great historical novelist, has written a tale about a little known battle between Britain and America in the summer of 1779. The results of the siege gave America its worst naval defeat prior to Pearl Harbor in World War II.

The novel begins with the British sailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Penobscot Bay, Massachusetts (now Maine). The 700 troops were led by Brigadier General Francis Mclean and three sloops of war by Captain Henry Mowat. They were welcomed to the area by the locals, since they were loyalist to the King. The only non-loyalist living there were the fictional brother and sister James and Bethany Fletcher. Bernard Cornwell makes the novel easier to understand by explaining before the novel starts that the fictional characters' surnames start with F, with a few minor exceptions.

Meanwhile, the State of Massachusetts Militia decides to oppose the British without the Continental Army's approval with an untrained, ragtag militia and over forty ships, mostly privateers. They are led by Brigadier General Solomon Lovell (a farmer by trade), second-in-command Brigadier General Peleg Wadsworth, Continental Navy Commodore Dudley Saltonstall, and Artillery Lt. Colonel Paul Revere.

**** Warning: spoilers ahead ****

The siege of the British fort starts well with the Americans storming the cliff near the fort. Then, things go terribly wrong. Instead of pursuing the attack, they are scared off by a few cannon balls shot their way. The British General was ready to surrender, but then to his surprise the Americans dug in defensively. This begins the indecisiveness between American General Lovell and American Commodore Saltonstall on who should start the attack. It gets worse when Lt. Colonel Paul Revere shows himself as an egotistical, disobedient, and inept coward. The only heroes of the siege were the few Continental Marines and General Wadsworth.

Reinforcements from the British Royal Navy arrive during this indecisiveness and destroy the fleeing American fleet. Instead of fighting back, the Americans actually set their own ships afire, even though they greatly outnumbered the British Royal Navy.

As a result of this conflict, Navy Commodore Saltonstall was dismissed from the Continental Navy, and Lt. Colonel Paul Revere was court-martialed. The reputations of Generals' Lovell and Wadsworth were unharmed.

I found myself very intrigued by this book. Did anyone even know about this conflict? The only thing I can criticize this book for is the lack of developing the characters of the Fletchers.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars.

Comment : I find it ironic that 82 years later, General Peleg Wadsworth's grandson Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the legendary poem "Paul Revere's Ride". He wrote that poem to spur on the North's spirit before the start of the Civil War, not knowing of Paul Revere's conduct at Penobscot Bay.

Monday, November 15, 2010

THE LAST BOY: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood

Jane Leavy has written a wonderful book about my boyhood hero, Mickey Mantle. This was a view shared by millions in the 1950s and 1960s, but nobody really knows why. There were other major stars in baseball, such as Willie Mays, Duke Snider, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Hank Aaron, but they didn't have that magical name. There was only one boyhood hero - The Mick, number 7.

This book is not your typical biography showing only stats and career highlights. These items are in the book, but the emphasis is on his real life - alcohol abuse, infidelity, late-nights out, and his strained family relations. All the facts in this book are supported by her own 500+ interviews with the Mick's family, friends, and teammates. She intertwines her 1983 weekend interview with the Mick in Atlantic City, NJ with Mantle's career years, 1951-1968. Jane! What took you so long to write this book after the 1983 interview?

The book highlights his whole life, but the following are the parts I found most interesting: his relationship with his father, Mutt Mantle; his 1951 World Series injury supposedly caused by the great Joe DiMaggio; his boyhood in Commerce, Oklahoma, especially the sexual abuse; his legendary home runs (and there were many); his stories with his friends Billy, Whitey, Yogi, Hank, and Moose; and finally, his fatal bout with liver cancer. The book even has a new Yogi Berra story (p. 358). According to Yogi's wife Carmen, they "were watching Steve McQueen in a late-night movie and Yogi said, 'He musta made that before he died'". There are many more wonderful stories and tales throughout this 456 page book.

RATING: 3 out of 5 stars

Comment: a similar book that shows the good and the bad side of a personality is Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life by Richard Ben Cramer, published in 2000 by Simon & Schuster.