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.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


This novel by Alan Brennert is a wonderful read in between heavier works. I found the story very interesting with a lot of historical fiction. This novel informs the reader about: how "Pidgin English" came about, how the term being "a local" started, and how these locals became third-class citizens.

The story begins in Japanese controlled Korea in the early 1900s. A daughter to the Pak family is born with the name Regret, because she wasn't a boy. A female born in Korea was not afforded a last name, education, or respect. As a matter of fact, she was really a slave to her father and the entire male household. Regret spent her childhood rebelling to the Korean ways. Disobeying her father, she secretly learned to read. Women were confined to the inner rooms to sew and cook, and allowed to enter the outer rooms only to serve meals to male family members. The father arranged his daughters marriage, where she would become a slave to a new family, including all of the clan's female in-laws. I could imagine that this is still that way in North Korea considering how backwards that country is.

Regret gets out of Korea by becoming a "Picture Bride" to a Korean living in Hawaii. She is joined in this venture by four other Korean brides to be. They were told that these gentleman were handsome, young, and rich. Well, as you can imagine, when they arrived in Hawaii, the men were ugly, old, and poor. This starts their stormy adventure in Hawaii.

The story then follows the lives of Regret, now Jin, and her four other picture bride friends: Sunny, Beauty, Jade Moon, and Wise Pearl. They go through many trials and tribulations from about 1900 to 1957. What a life it must have been living on sugar plantations, working in pineapple factories, then living amongst the prostitutes of Hotel Street. We also meet the real Charlie Chan and Sadie Thompson! Even the legendary Duke Kahanamoku makes a appearance in this wonderful story. My suggestion is grab a copy of this book and enjoy! I plan on reading Brennert's Moloka'i in the very near future.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment: Mr. Brennert is more widely known as a television writer and producer, winning a Emmy Award for L.A. Law in 1991. He also writes a lot of science fiction and fantasy short stories. Alan lives in Southern California, but is a frequent visitor to the Hawaiian Islands. Everybody should be a frequent visitor. I know I am!

Friday, April 22, 2011


It's 1939. England has just declared war on Germany! And, the luxurious Pan Am Clipper, a gigantic seaplane, is set to make its final flight from Southampton, England to New York. That is the setting of this exciting, nostalgic thriller written by Ken Follett, the famed author of Eye of the Needle and The Pillars of the Earth. Being a fan of World War II movies and novels, I loved this book! My only disappointment was that Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet were not on the passenger list. But, this $675 round-trip luxury flight does have nineteen interesting guests that rival any Bogart movie cast.

The guests include a fascist marquis and his family, a grumpy Russian princess, a talkative movie actress, a Jewish nuclear physicist fleeing Germany, a baron, undercover British and American police, four American industrialists, a British millionaire chasing his wife, and a jewel thief. Add to them, terrified flight engineer Eddie Deakin, who is under orders from his wife's kidnappers to await further instructions from passenger Tom Luther. Believe it or not, Ken Follett manages to develop all of these characters, making the reader either root for or against every person in the novel...Great job!

Tom Luther informs Eddie Deakin that his mysterious boss expects Eddie to cause the thirty hour flight to land short of their destination, so that they can remove a passenger. But who, why, and how? The guessing game begins here and ends at the Bay of Fundy, Newfoundland. This is the main plot, but there are many delightful subplots.

The subplots include: the shoemaker owner, Nancy Lenehan, trying to maintain control of her company from her treacherous brother, Peter Black; Mervyn Lovesey trying to win his wife back from American, Mark Alder; the Oxenford daughters trying to escape the control of their fascist father; the jewel thief, Harry Marks, a.k.a. Harry Vandenpost, wooing Margaret Oxenford, while pondering the theft of famous jewels owned by her mother, the Marchioness; the fates of the fleeing German Jew Carl Hartmann and gangster Frank Gordon. And finally we have the wishy-washy Diana Lovesey flip-flopping between her husband Mervyn and Mark Alder. There are more, but these are the most noteworthy. Somehow the author ties all of these events together into an amazing climax!

This novel reminded me of an airplane version of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, but without Hercule Poirot. This is a must read for historical fiction and Ken Follett fans alike.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment: Pan Am was in business from the 1920's till 1991. As a young Marine, I flew Pan Am to Hawaii several times between 1964-1966. I remember those flights as being special with superior food and service. One of the legs of the North Atlantic Clipper service was a stop over at Foynes, Ireland. In 1942, passengers were served a drink in Foynes, now known as Irish Coffee.

Friday, April 15, 2011


William R. Forstchen has written an apocalyptic novel with a twist. Three electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) triggered by high altitude nuclear explosions wave down upon America. In theory, these would wipe out America's power grid, all computers, cell phones, many types of transportation, and common appliances. Contact with ourselves and the rest of the world would be cut. Welcome back to the medieval times!

The story is set in a town in North Carolina called Black Mountain and centers on John Matherson, a retired Army colonel. He is celebrating his diabetic daughter's birthday when the EMPs strike. There isn't any explosion heard, just a electrical blackout, causing him no initial alarm, until he finds out that no modern transportation is running. Luckily his mother-in-law has an old Edsel that runs. Why? Because it has no computers. He goes to town the next day and finds out things are already get getting dicey.

How long after an catastrophic event would it take for panic to set in? With all communication cut off, it wouldn't be long. No television or radio to tell us what happened. No President advising us. Is there even still a President? Or a government? What happened and what should I be doing? Once people find out, there would be a panicked run on food, drugs, weapons, cigarettes, alcohol, anything for survival.

This story deals with the first 365 days after the Event. Can a well organized Town Council, led by the colonel, survive until help comes? With the nation under martial law, which we learn from the only government radio station working, cult gangs are out of control. The town needs military training to defend itself from the Posse gang heading their way. The students at Montreat College are trained by an ex-Marine D.I. to defend the town. The town is almost out of food, prescription drugs, and energy. The town's doctor, Kellor, warns that the U.S.A. is now technically a third world country and to expect many deaths from cholera, dysentery, and plague. Will the Colonel's daughter get her insulin in time? Will they defeat the Posse gang? Will the town survive the EMP attack, or is it curtains for them and the U.S.A. way of life?

This novel was very enjoyable and a big time eye opener. Mr. Forstchen has written the worst case scenario, but he could be right on the money. It's possible that a bomb dropped on the ground could actually be less damaging. It seems to me that President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative in 1984 was a great idea, but killed by President Clinton in 1993 as Star Wars fodder!

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment: Mr. Forstchen has written over 40 books and is a history professor at the college in the novel, Montreat in N.C. His book caught the attention of Congress and the House Armed Services Committee. Hopefully, they are studying the possibility of an EMP attack. Most of his current work has been historical fiction with writting partner, Newt Gingrich.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


The choice of China Mieville's diction is highly suspect in this weird fantasy novel written in 2010. I think good vocabulary is not necessarily good when one doesn't understand what you are talking about. His loquacious style of penning real and made-up words require a college lexicon! It almost seems that he wrote this book for the late William F. Buckley, Jr. Yet, somehow, I understood what he was saying without looking the words up. He has Charles Dickens's ability to make a fake word seem real. And why does he constantly use double words through out the novel such as, that that! I don't know know!! Anyway, I had my say say.

The novel opens with our hero Billy Harrow, curator of mollusks at London's Darwin Centre, conducting a tour, when he discovers the star of the show, Architeuthis, an eight meter long squid, is missing. Where did it go (tank and all), and what does it mean? A cult squad, made up of officers Baron, Vardy, and Collingswood from the London Police quickly get involved. Apparently London is filled with arcane cults, magicians, familiars, thugs, and spirits without the general population's knowledge.

Billy gets involved with the Congregation of the God Kraken, and finds out the end of the world can result from this purloined squid. Billy and Dane Parnell, a member of the God Kraken, head out to find the preserved squid. They are not alone. Also looking are the shamanic Londonmancers, the Talking Tattoo with his numerous Fistheads, the frightful Goss and Subby, and the infamous Grisamentum and his hired Gunfarmers. The Talking Tattoo on the back of a man named Paul and his hirelings, Goss and Subby, are relentless in their pursuit.

Mr. Mieville comes up with some interesting fantasies: Did you know with extreme origami, you can fold up a person and carry it without the weight? Did you know Angels of Memory exist? What about the Brotherhood of the Blessed Flood, with the Sea as their God? My favorite is Wati, the ancient Egyptian spirit, who leaps from statue to toy to statue to communicate while helping Billy or leading his familiars on a strike. The biggest fantasy is why all these groups think the Apocalypse is coming just because a dead fish is missing!

Although the final chapters are exciting, I'm not sure I understood the ending. With Mieville's writting style and use of unknown words, things get a little foggy. I did enjoy the book, but I am not sure I would read another Mieville novel. Sometimes reading certain authors is painful, but I did finish this in normal acceptable time.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment: China Mieville has won many awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke, Locus, British Fantasy, and the Hugo. Mieville is a accomplished Dungeons and Dragons player. He is active in Englands politics, leaning towards Marxism.