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.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


About a third of the way into this novel, I became aware of the dreaded words on page 502, “To be continued…” Mira Grant, are you kidding me? I don’t like reading trilogies unless all three books are available to read now. By the time the next novel comes out, I will have forgotten this one. I know that I can go to Wikipedia for a recap, but most of the time I’ve already lost interest. Oh well, I should have been aware of her tendencies with the previously published, The Newsflesh Trilogy . Okay, enough said. The first novel is a success, but  it makes the reader wonder if these ‘tapewormed- sleepwalkers’ are going to morph into ordinary zombies. Mira, don’t do it, because what you have here is a fresh idea that should only get better in book two and three. I, for one, am tired of zombie novels. Keep your thoughts on what you started and develop it further. Your last chapter was dynamite waiting to ignite. I thought that was where the story was heading, but I wasn’t sure. The future readers will know what I’m talking about after they get to the end of this intoxicating work.

It seems that SymboGen Corporation has developed a tapeworm that once implanted into a human body shields the person from sickness and actually dispenses drugs to fight any disease. Dr. Banks, Dr. Jablonsky and Dr. Shanti Cale are the three architects of this ‘Intestinal Bodyguard’ that has been ingested by most of the population. The year is 2027. The protagonist is Sally Mitchell, who had a horrible car accident, which left her in a near plug-pulling state, until her tapeworm somehow pulled her out of her coma. She was twenty at the time of the crash, and now six years have passed. She has no memory of her first twenty years and had to be re-taught everything as if she were a baby. Dr. Banks of SymboGen has taken an interest in her case and monitors her health and life at no expense to Sal (she changed her name since she has no memory of her first twenty years). Sal has a Dr. Bank’s arranged job at a animal shelter and has a boyfriend, Dr. Nathan Kim, who is a parasitologist at a San Francisco hospital. Sal has ‘night terror dreams’ of being in a hot and warm dark place with the distant sound of drums. Nonetheless, all’s well until she and Nathan run into a strange man and his dog in a park. He seems to be suddenly aggressive while sleepwalking. Sal and Nathan leave with the dog, who becomes their lovable pet named Beverly. Dr. Kim finds out that there are many similar cases nationwide. He discovers that a wand with a purple light run over your skin can detect whether you have an parasite infection, or not.

Meanwhile Dr. Shanti Cole has disappeared. Dr. Jablonsky has committed suicide. What’s going on? Sal and Nathan meet the mysterious Adam and Tansy. Who are they and why does Adam call Nathan... brother? Are implants taking over their human host? Sal’s father, Colonel Alfred Mitchell, director of research at a U.S. Army research institute for infectious diseases gets involved in a big way. So in book one, Mira Grant has introduced the eight to ten main characters (good job). We know that the originally beneficial tapeworms seem to be revolting and taking over the brains of some human host. We suspect that there is a chief tapeworm, but I will not guess who that is at this time, although I think I know who it is. This is a well written piece of horror/urban fantasy from Seanan McGuire (writing as Mira Grant). She managed to keep me wide awake and feeling empathy for the characters while reading this thriller. A writer can’t do any better than that. I highly recommend this novel, but with the caveat that two more books are coming before we meet the denouement.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment: According to Barnes&Noble, this isn’t the first parasite themed novel. Parasite Eve  by Hideaki Sena (translated by Tyran Grillo) was a massive hit. “When Dr. Nagashima loses his wife in a mysterious car crash, he is overwhelmed with grief but also an eerie sense of purpose; he becomes obsessed with reincarnating his dead wife. Her donated kidney is transplanted into a young girl with a debilitating disorder, but the doctor also feels compelled to keep a small sample of her liver in his laboratory. When these cells start mutating rapidly, a consciousness bent on determining its own fate awakens, bent on becoming the new dominant species on earth."

"Parasite Eve was the basis of the hugely popular videogame of the same name in the U.S. and has been cinematized in Japan. Hideaki Sena Ph.D. Pharmacology, was still a graduate student when his first novel, Parasite Eve, turned him into a pop cultural heavyweight. He became the first recipient of the Japan Horror Award and is credited--alongside Koji Suzuki, whose Spiral appeared the same summer--with initiating a smart, new style of horror writing in Japan. Subsequent novels include the Japan Sci-Fi Award winner Brain Valley and Tomorrow's Robots. Dr. Sena, who lectures on microbiology and genre fiction, lives in Sendai, Japan."

What’s the best zombie novel? What about, The Last Bastion of the Living  by Rhiannon Frater. says : “The Bastion was humanity's last hope against the fearsome undead creatures known as the Inferi Scourge. A fortified city with a high wall, surrounded by lush land rich with all the resources needed to survive, protected by high mountain summits, and a massive gate to secure the only pass into the valley, the Bastion became the last stronghold of the living on earth. But one fateful day, the gate failed and the Inferi Scourge destroyed the human settlements outside the walls and trapped the survivors inside the city. Now decades later, the last remaining humans are struggling to survive in a dying city as resources and hope dwindle."

"Vanguard Maria Martinez has lived her whole life within the towering walls of steel. She yearns for a life away from the overcrowded streets, rolling blackouts, and food shortages, but there is no hope for anyone as long as the Inferi Scourge howl outside the high walls. Her only refuge from the daily grind is in the arms of her lover, Dwayne Reichardt, an officer in the Bastion Constabulary. Both are highly-decorated veterans of the last disastrous push against the Inferi Scourge. Their secret affair is her only happiness."

"Then one day Maria is summoned to meet with a mysterious representative from the Science Warfare Division and is offered the opportunity to finally destroy the Inferi Scourge in the valley and close the gate. The rewards of success are great, but she will have to sacrifice everything, possibly even her life, to accomplish the ultimate goal of securing the future of humanity and saving it from extinction.”

Monday, November 11, 2013


This book by Reza Aslan flitters around a lot, but is an unqualified eye-opener. It’s the gospel Jesus versus the historical Jesus. Who is right and who is wrong is up to each reader to decide. Mr. Aslan has certainly done plenty of research, but he has the undertone of a former Muslim about him. I say this only so the reader can take what Aslan says with a grain of salt. He is obviously schooled in both religions, but seems to prefer the historical Jesus as the true son of God. With the gospels written many years after Jesus’s death, does anybody really know the truth? The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written well after Jesus’s death. The events of Jesus’s life are hazy at best since Mark and Luke (some say he was) were not eyewitnesses to Jesus’s life. The gospel of Matthew is by an anonymous author, and the gospel of John is authored by ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’, but is not named. Aslan states that his research took two decades, and he supplies about sixty pages of notes at the end of the book. I guess one can’t ask for more. But for me, some of his revelations are truly stunning. Why was this Christ so different from all the other messiahs that traveled through Jerusalem during Jesus’s time preaching repentance and damnation? They were also convicted of sedition (rebellious acts against the Roman Empire) and crucified, or beheaded. Why were they not the true Christ? Especially, John the Baptist .

According to Aslan, Christ didn’t leave Nazareth till he was about thirty years old. On page 88, (to paraphrase Aslan) he says, “Before his encounter with John (the Baptist), Jesus was an unknown peasant and day laborer toiling away in Galilee.” If Jesus was the main man, why did he come to the Jordan River to be baptized by John? Yet the gospels try to make the reader feel that John the Baptist was inferior to Jesus. In fact, After John was seized and put to death by Roman Tetrarch (governor of the region) Antipas, only then did Jesus’s first disciples, Andrew and Philip, leave John the Baptist and follow Jesus on his quest to cleanse the souls of mankind. This is some strong information. Aslan also states that Jesus was born in Nazareth, and not Bethlehem. Jesus had brothers, most notably, James, who took over the leadership of the Catholic Church after Jesus’s death. Also stunning is that Jesus, because of his peasant status, could not read or write any language. This is not me talking. This book is very thought provoking and obviously highly controversial.

Another fact that is historically disputed is the disposition of Pontius Pilate, the fifth governor Rome, sent to oversee Judea. The gospels present Pilate as a weak-willed governor who didn’t want to kill Jesus until the Jews demanded that Jesus should be put to death. The Jews were not pleased when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey with a mob of people shouting, “Hosanna!” Aslan says in his book, “The message conveyed to the city’s inhabitants is unmistakable: the long awaited messiah-the true King of the Jews-has come to free Israel from its bondage.” Aslan says history shows Pontius Pilate to be a very violent man who hated and killed Jews at will. Wow, that’s not the Pilate I saw back in the 1970s, when I went to the marvelous play, Jesus Christ Superstar: A Rock Opera . Pilate with the help of the Jewish High Priest, Joseph Caiaphas, had no hesitation in sentencing Jesus to death.

One fact that is consistent both historically and gospel-wise is Jesus’s ability to heal. On page 105, Aslan says, “For while debates raged within the early church over who Jesus was-a rabbi? the messiah? God incarnate? -there was never any debate, either among his followers or his detractors, about his role as an exorcist and miracle worker.” Okay, both sides finally agree. This was a time when there were many magicians charging money to perform similar feats, but Jesus never imposed a fee. As Jesus approached Jerusalem in 30 c.e. (common era) “ is not just Jesus’s miraculous actions that they fear; it is the simple yet incredibly dangerous message conveyed through them: the Kingdom of God is at hand.” On page 126, Aslan says, “No wonder, then, that at the end of his life, when he stood beaten and bruised before Pontius Pilate to answer the charges made against him, Jesus was asked but a single question…”Are you the King of the Jews?”

Was Jesus’s last words on the cross (gospel of Mark), “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And did the resurrection really happen three days later? Who is James the Just? Did Jesus really say, "I say to you that you shall be called Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my church."  I’ve only touched on a few of the enlightening discoveries this reviewer learned from reading Aslan’s book about the historical Jesus. I have the feeling that Jesus was more of a man, than the Son of God. In fact, according to Aslan’s research, Jesus rebuffed the messianic titles given to him and preferred the title, “The Son of Man.” In my opinion, Aslan did a remarkable job putting this non-fiction work together. I felt somber when Jesus’s three year old ministry came to an end. Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples (also called apostles), let the Jewish hierarchy know where Jesus was hiding after The Last Supper. Aslan states, “He is praying when they come for him…” This is a sad and provocative book. I highly recommend this book by Reza Aslan.
The Supper at Emmaus by Italian master Caravaggio 1601...Resurrected Jesus reveals himself to two of his disciples. Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment: There are a lot of books about Jesus Christ. One book that defends the Bible is a book by Ben Witherington III with a very long title: What Have They Done with Jesus?: Beyond Strange Theories and Bad History--Why We Can Trust the Bible . says, “Strange theories about Jesus seem to ooze from our culture with increasing regularity. Ben Witherington, one of the top Jesus scholars, will have none of it. There were no secret Gnostic teachings in the first century. With leading scholars and popular purveyors of bad history in his crosshairs, Witherington reveals what we can—and cannot—claim to know about the real Jesus. The Bible, not outside sources, is still the most trustworthy historical record we have today.

Utilizing a fresh "personality profile" approach, Witherington highlights core Christian claims by investigating the major figures in Jesus’s inner circle of followers: Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Thomas, Peter, James the brother of Jesus, Paul, and the mysterious "beloved disciple." In each chapter Witherington satisfies our curiosities and answers the full range of questions about these key figures and what each of them can teach us about the historical Jesus. What Have They Done with Jesus? is a vigorous defense of traditional Christianity that offers a compelling portrait of Jesus’s core message according to those who knew him best.”

And there are some strange ones, such as, The Lotus and the Cross by Ravi Zacharias. says, “Have you ever wondered what Jesus would say to Mohammed? Or Buddha? Or Oscar Wilde? Maybe you have a friend who practices another religion or admires a more contemporary figure. Drop in on a conversation between Jesus and some well-known individuals whose search for the meaning of life took them in many directions -- and influenced millions. Popular scholar Ravi Zacharias sets a captivating scene in this first in the intriguing Conversations with Jesus books. Through dialogue between Christ and Gautama Buddha that reveals Jesus' warm, impassioned concern for all people, God's true nature is explored. It's a well-priced, hardcover volume readers will want to own, and also share with others.”

Even the press throws their hat in the ring with Lee Strobel’s, The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus . says, “Using the dramatic scenario of an investigative journalist pursuing his story and leads, Lee Strobel uses his experience as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune to interview experts about the evidence for Christ from the fields of science, philosophy, and history.”

Finally, there is the old classic, Ben Hur by Lew Wallace. says, “Judah Ben-Hur lives as a rich Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century. His old friend Messala arrives as commanding officer of the Roman legions. They become bitter enemies. Because of an unfortunate accident, Ben-Hur is sent to slave in the mines while his family is sent to leprosy caves. As Messala is dying from being crushed in a chariot race, he reveals where Ben-Hur's family is. On the road to find them, Ben-Hur meets the Christ as he is on the road to Golgotha to be crucified. That day changes Ben-Hur's life forever, for that is the day he becomes a believer.” Picture courtesy Wikipedia.