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.

Friday, February 25, 2011


It seems to me that Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are engaged in a duel to see who can write the best thriller. This book is Preston's turn, and he didn't disappoint. Both of these authors continue to write novels that you can't put down, don't want to put down, and will not put down! Mr. Preston takes us from the Moon to New Mexico to New York and back to New Mexico, along with a stop 65 million years ago for a day in the life of a Tyrannosaurus rex.

The story starts with Apollo 17 astronauts bringing back rock samples from the Moon in 1972. Mysteriously, one sample goes missing for 30 years. Meanwhile, Stem Weathers, a veteran prospector, is found dying from a gunshot wound in the New Mexico desert by Tom Broadbent. Before he dies, Stem gives Tom a "number-coded" notebook that he wants delivered to his daughter. After Tom leaves, Stem's killer, Weed Maddox, returns to the scene looking for the notebook, but only finds a piece of dinosaur bone. Weed flies to New York to give his boss, Dr. Iain Cuvus, assistant curator of the American Museum of Natural History, the bad news. From here on in the story explodes with excitement, intrigue, and mysterious characters.

Dr. Corvus gives the dinosaur sample to museum technical specialist, Melodie Crookshank, to analyze in secret. She is amazed by what she finds. The bone is from a fossilized T-Rex, but there is something else - something that can change the theory on what really caused the dinosaurs' disappearance for good. Conversations between Melodie and Dr. Corvus are picked up by a government listening devise, causing a black-op detail from the CIA to join the chase. Does this dinosaur sample have anything to do with the missing Moon rock from thirty years ago? Will the government use deadly force to obtain the location of the T-Rex and it's secrets?

Tom Broadbent, his wife Sally, and Wyman Ford, a ex-CIA agent (now a monk!), hit the desert looking the fossilzed T-Rex. Wyman, a ex-coder in the CIA, figured out what they were looking for. Meanwhile they are being followed by the crazed Weed Maddox, Detective Jimmie Willer of the Sante Fe police, and the secret black-op group, led by the murderous Mr. Masago. And what happens to Melodie and Dr. Corvus in New York? Who lives and who dies? What is the secret that people have to die for? What does the Moon and 65 million year old dinosaurs have to do with it?

For thrill seekers, this is a must read! The action is non-stop and rivals writing partner Lincoln Child's book Utopia for thrills and chills. I highly recommend reading novels like this in between serious reads. Between the two authors, this is the ninth book I've read, and they are all enjoyable.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment: Wyman Ford and Tom Broadbent have appeared in several of Mr.Preston's solo novels. Since Preston worked for the American Museum of Natural History from 1978 to 1985, the paleontology facts in the book are highly believable. Besides writing novels, Preston writes for three magazines including The New Yorker. If you read Prestons' The Monster of Florence, you will remember the stupidity of Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini. I find it interesting that he was involved in the recent Amanda Knox conviction, and so does Douglas Preston.

Friday, February 18, 2011


This is an intriguing way to write another book about zombies. The book consists entirely of interviews of three to seven pages with the survivors of the Zombie War. Max Brooks is both the author of this book and the interviewer. After giving the United Nations Postwar Commission the basic facts of the ten year war, Brooks decides to write a book about individual survivors of many countries. Since Brooks tells you upfront that humanity won the war, there are no "spoilers" required.

The first case of zombie infection was in China, involving a boy bitten by someone unknown. China basically stonewalls the problem, resulting in the virus spreading worldwide via black market "organ donor" traffic and bitten people leaving China. Soon the whole world is fighting zombies that can only be killed by destroying their brains! Cape Town, South Africa, is the first country that uses the "Paul Redeker" plan, which puts a certain amount of their population in safe zones and leaves the rest as bait. Israel, under a quarantine program, closes their borders. Pakistan and Iran have a nuclear war over fleeing refugees from Pakistan. The U.S.A., under the assumption they have a vaccine, have little concern of the black cloud approaching. Too late, they find out the vaccine is for rabies - not very effective for zombie bites.

The Great Panic starts when, in the battle of Yonkers, the zombies overwhelm the military. It seems conventional "shock and awe" strategy against people already dead doesn't work. Using air strikes, tank attacks, hi-tech rockets only works if you manage to destroy each individual zombie brain. If not, they will drag their damaged body forward in a continued effort to eat you! The U.S.A. retreats to the Rocky Mountains, Japan evacuates to South Korea, the North Korean people disappear completely and are presumed underground.

In the Honolulu Conference, the President of the United States, decides the only way to defeat the zombies is by deploying the old Revolutionary War two-line attack. Using a military rifle line running north to south, moving west to east they slowly eliminate the zombies, with single head shots, one by one. But this war is far from over- what about the rest of the world? Zombies walking under the ocean? And, zombies thawing out in the spring? After reading all the interviews, you will have all the answers.

This is another entry into the recent literary explosion of zombie and vampire books. Although this novel is unique, I find myself tiring of this genre. I only recommend this book to the hardiest of ghoul readers. The only book in this field that I give a five star rating to is The Passage, a 766 page beauty written by Justin Cronin in 2010.

RATING: 3.5 stars out of 5

Comment: Max Brooks is the son of actors Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft. Now that's what I call a talented family! Paramount Pictures has recently acquired the movie rights to this novel.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valley Forge

This is the sequel to To Try Men's Souls and the second book of their American Revolutions series by the prolific writers' Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen. And, it is well done. We are introduced to new historical figures: General Marquis Lafayette, General Baron Von Steuben, General Horatio Gates, General "Mad" Anthony Wayne, and Captain John Andre. The fictitious Allen Van Dorn returns as a British Lieutenant, and one of the heroes from the Trenton victory, Peter Wellsley, also returns.

The book centers on the 1777-1778 winter headquarters of the Continental Army at Valley Forge and that of the British Army in Philadelphia. Once again, Congress has been uprooted and is now making their temporary home in York, Pa. At this point, Congress has been nothing but a hindrance to General Washington's army by failing to supply food, tools, uniforms, boots, and usable money. Many of the Congressmen returned home for the winter; the rest were mired down in useless committees that criticized the efforts of George Washington. If you believe the authors, without George Washington and Ben Franklin's work in France, the war would have surely been lost.

Can you imagine General Washington arriving at Valley Forge, in a snowstorm, finding a empty field! Congress had promised cabins built for 10,000 men, food, boots, and perimeter defenses already dug. Thousands died of flux and exposure before cabins could be built. Meanwhile, the British were enjoying their winter in a warm and well supplied Philadelphia. Even though the British were only twenty miles away from Valley Forge, they saw no need to attack during the winter- let Washington's men starve and freeze to death!

After Washington had the shelters built, he needed to find a way to fight the British in a open field. Enter the Prussian Baron Von Steuben, ready to drill the army in modern tactics. In 90 days with the help of 19 year old Marquis de Lafayette, the Continental Army was ready to face the professional army of England! That day would come in June at the Battle of Monmouth, the turning point of the Revolutionary War.

This book was a history lesson, but also a very strong novel. I felt compassion for all the characters, real or fictitious, because of the strong character development, which was lacking in the first book of this series. I can only hope there is a third book in progress. The surrender of British General Cornwallis at Yorktown would be my choice to end this enjoyable work.

RATING: 4 stars out of 5

Comment: One has to wonder if the Revolutionary War would have been won if not for Benjamin Franklin securing foreign help in France. After the American War, the Marquis de Lafayette led a fiery life going back and forth to France. Baron Von Steuben never left America and retired to Utica, New York. He wrote the first drill instructor manual for the U.S.A. that stayed in use until 1812.

Friday, February 4, 2011


The subtitle says it's a thriller, and that is a understatement! Lincoln Child, in his first solo book, has written what I call a dessert book. You can literally read all 385 pages after dinner in one sitting. (I took two!) The pace of this novel is fast and furious with each chapter starting with the time of the day. After the prologue, the entire sequence of events runs from 7:30 A.M. to 4:32 P.M. The excitement of each chapter automatically draws you into the next chapter, until you realize it's two o'clock in the morning, and you are still reading!

The story centers around a futuristic theme park with a glass dome, located outside Las Vegas, Nevada. This park is divided into four sections: Gaslight, Callisto, Camelot, and Boardwalk, all featuring the latest in robotics and holographic imaging. The system that coordinates the activities of all the robots is called Metanet, designed by Dr. Andrew Warne, commissioned by the parks magician and visionary, the late Eric Nightingale.

After a roller coaster accident caused by robotic failure, Dr.Warne is called in by the park's general manager, Sarah Boatwright, an ex-girlfriend of his. Dr. Warne arrives at the park with his 14 year old daughter, Georgia, thinking the park wants him to expand his Metanet into the next themed section called Atlantis. But he is surprised to find out from Sarah and Fred Barksdale, head of systems, that they want him to disable his Metanet system. It seems there have been other failures, and the Board of Directors want it out. Already reeling from the recent failure of his company, Andrew along with Teresa Bonifacio, systems controller of Utopia, start investigating the mishaps.

Enter the mysterious John Doe, a brilliant criminal mind. He barges into Sarah's office and announces that he is responsible for all the accidents! Unless he gets a copy of the Hologram disk, all hell will break loose in the park. Apparently this state of the art holographic disk is worth millions. But, is this all he wants? He disappears into the crowd, vowing that he will demonstrate his control with more accidents. In the ensuing hours, failed hand-offs of the disk cause more robotic mishaps and many deaths. John Doe and his cohorts are well hidden and deft at causing chaos and mayhem!

Now it is a race of time for Dr. Warne, Teresa, Wingnut the cyber dog, and a park guest, Angus Poole, to find the criminals before they blowup the park. They stumble upon John Doe's alternate reason for being there and find out who the park's inside helper is. This will surprise you! The ending is well conceived and ends with a Fourth of July blast! For Lincoln Child fans, this is a must read.

RATING: 4 stars out of 5

Comment: This novel written in 2002 is Lincoln Child's first of many authored without Douglas Preston. They still write the agent Pendergast novels together, which are very unique and enjoyable. Utopia reminded me of Michael Crichton's great works: the 1973 film Westworld and the book Jurassic Park, written in 1990.