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.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


The publishing consultant sent me a copy of this novel to review:

I was pleasantly surprised with Guy Butler’s second novel of a proposed trilogy. While it didn’t have the suspense of Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle (1978) or the drama of Alistair Maclean’s The Guns of Navarone (1957), it did have it’s moments. I didn’t read the first novel, but I found that I didn’t need to because this invigorating novel can be read as a stand-alone. I am reminded of the various series written by Bernard Cornwell, whose books can also be read separately or out of order. Lastly, I detected the undertone of the alternate history guru Harry Turtledove, author of The Man with the Iron Heart . Whoa! I’m not saying Guy Butler is in the class of the above mentioned authors. I am saying that he is on the right track to have a successful career as a writer. I did find some faults with this book, such as Mr. Butler naming the novel’s elite British group: Special Air Services (SAS on page 30), and Strategic Air Services (SAS on page 200). Which is correct? Also, I find that there are way too many described characters to remember. A sergeant is a sergeant, a officer is an officer, no need to describe them all. I’m still a student of ten or less main characters (Cormac McCarthy’s theory?). I also thought that some of the harrowing events behind enemy lines could have been less predictable and drawn out for a high anxiety affect.

This is the story of Czeslaw Orlowski, aka the Spider or Chez, the fearless folk hero of the Polish resistance of World War II. It seems that the Germans and Spider are being pursued by the Russians in 1945. The Germans for obvious reasons; Spider because Stalin wants no resistance when he takes over Poland. Spider hides out as a farmer with his wife Jadwiga and his in-laws but is hunted down by the Russians. He sends a message to his friend in England, Malcolm McClain, asking for help in getting out of Poland. This prompts Winston Churchill into a meeting with Paddy McBride, a Major of the British elite Special Air Services (SAS). They decide that Spider has saved many British lives with his heroics and should be rescued. A plan is put in place for twelve SAS fighters, known as the Black Widows, to go to Poland and rescue Spider and his family under the noses of the Russians. The mission is successful although it encountered many misadventures. You will have to buy your own copy of this exciting novel to find out what occurred.

This takes the reader to the guts of this novel. Since Churchill saved Spider and his family from sure death, he wants a favor from Spider. The question: Is the real Hitler in the bunker? Brigadier Zumwalt says on page 170, “M16 has solid intelligence suggesting a long standing plot is under way to stage Adolf Hitler’s we stand here tonight, Adolf might already subbed in his stooge and be miles away from Berlin.” Do you smell Harry Turtledove’s style? Anyway, Spider, with the help of SAS volunteers, must somehow enter Hitler’s bunker in Berlin and find out if Hitler is actually in there. Spider on page 248 confirms that...”The entire top echelon of the Nazi Party is planning on flying to Spain within the next couple of weeks to pick up a U-boat to South America and freedom.” These last 100 pages, or so, are worth the price of the novel. So once again, I’m reading a new author that should be under contract from a large publishing house, but is not. Why? With a strong editing job, this novel could have been a bestseller. I do recommend this novel and the writer.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment: In the beginning of Butler's novel, he tells the reader how he came upon the title of the book, "A Gordian Knot is a metaphor for a problem deemed insurmountable, yet easily solved by thinking outside the box. When the impossible problem involves The Spider, it is better characterized as... A Gordian Web."

Let’s talk about two of my favorite World War II novels that I mentioned in the first paragraph of this review. The first is Ken Follett’s 1978 novel, Eye of the Needle. says, “It is 1944 and weeks before D-Day. The Allies are disguising their invasion plans with a phoney armada of ships and planes. Their plan would be scuppered if an enemy agent found out… and then, Hitler’s prize agent, “The Needle,” does just that. Hunted by MI5, he leads a murderous trail across Britain to a waiting U-Boat. But he hasn’t planned for a storm-battered island, and the remarkable young woman who lives there.”

The second book is Alistair MacLean’s 1957 novel, The Guns of Navarone. says, “The Guns of Navarone is a 1957 novel about World War II by Scottish writer Alistair MacLean that was made into a critically acclaimed film in 1961. The Greek island of Navarone does not exist and the plot is fictitious; however, the story takes place within the real historical context of Dodecanese Campaign- the Allies' campaign to capture the German-held Greek islands in the Aegean in 1943, while "Navarone" is an obvious variation of Navarino, the place of a famous naval battle in 1827. The story is based on the Battle of Leros, and Leros island's naval artillery guns - among the largest... naval artillery guns used during World War II - that were built and used by the Italians until Italy capitulated in 1943 and subsequently used by the Germans until their defeat. The story concerns the efforts of an Allied commando team to destroy a seemingly impregnable German fortress that threatens Allied naval ships in the Aegean Sea, and prevents over 2,000 isolated British soldiers from being rescued. The story is based on the real events surrounding the Battle of Leros in World War II.”

Thursday, December 5, 2013


The author sent me a copy of this novel to review:

This maiden novel by James M. Corkill is satisfactory at best. Mr. Corkill displays raw talent, but is still in Double A ball. I can see that he is trying to create a character similar to Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt, but it’s a ‘no cigar’ comparison. I had a hard time believing in Alex Cave’s credentials. What man could be an ex-CIA agent, a college professor, an advisor to the Director of the National Security Agency, and have the ear of the President of the United States at the age of twenty four. Mr. Corkhill, you must age this man quickly. I know the age wasn’t a typo, because you wrote on page 75, “The President stared at Alex while he listened to the suggestions tossed around the table. He found it odd that this young professor…” While I know Dirk Pitt stories are fast paced, this one is on double-time and a little herky-jerky. Sometimes an author has too many subplots and sidebars. Well, this is one. My suggestion for Mr. Corkhill is to slow done. You have the expertise. Let the story breath at it’s own pace and mature naturally. Lastly, If you want Alex to be a man’s man, don’t let him act cowardly like you did when Alex was in the AOS camp. I know he was faking, but Dirk Pitt would rather die then act less a man. Okay, enough said about that. What about the story?

The story is very busy, with several plots and subplots going on simultaneously, alternating from chapter to chapter. The first scene has our protagonist, Alex Cave, witnessing a flash of light on a oil tanker on the Puget Sound. Just like that the crew and 80,000 tons of crude oil disappear. What happened? The scene switches to Brownsville, Texas were the same event happens to another oil tanker. Six out of the seven crewmen on the first tanker are found 150 miles away frozen to death on Mt. Baker. How did they get there? Seven out of the eight crewmen on the second tanker are found dead on a ranch. How did they get there and where are the two missing crewmen? On page 34, the Director of the NSA calls Alex Cave and says, “The President called a moment ago and informed me the Joint Chiefs think someone is sabotaging our domestic oil supply.” Meanwhile the novel shifts to Boulder, Colorado, where we meet the Minister Menno Simons, his mother and his 350 worshipers. Is the Minister and his group behind the missing oil? He is seen by a government agent passing out vials of a strange crystal to seemingly hypnotised zealots. I think it’s interesting that early in the story Menno Simons seems to be the culprit of the missing oil, yet he disappears until page 322, which is 55 pages from the end of this story. To me, this is incomprehensible.

Now the scene switches to Seattle, Washington, where we meet Harold Woolly, a meek and harassed banker, his wife, Calli, and his two kids, Mark (who loves the military), and Pamela (an A student). Suddenly the West Coast is in a chaotic and rioting mood, since gas and food are now in short supply. The family is on the run when they meet a motel owner, who befriends the family. Mark suggest they drive to Idaho, where a private army, known as the Army of Survival (AOS) resides, headed by a Col. Blackwood. This is the point in the novel were pandemonium and anarchy breaks out everywhere. Now you are probably thinking, “Will all these groups collide, and if so, will it solve the oil problem, or make it worse?”Somehow the author manages the pile-up fairly well, albeit in a semi confused and choppy way. Like I said in beginning of the review, this writer has ability. He needs to get better, and the best way to get better is to write more novels. I will recommend this novel, because it’s the first book in a series that can be improved upon. As for Alex Cave, he needs to get older. If he was born in 1969 (instead of 1989), he would be rejuvenated to a believable 44 year old contender to Dirk Pitt.

RATING: 3 out of 5 stars

Comment: The twenty two Dirk Pitt books by Clive Cussler have been very successful. Two have been made into movies, Raise the Titanic (1976) was made into a film in 1980. states that: 

 “The Sicilian Project is the undercover plan of the decade. It is undoubtedly the best-kept secret since the atomic bomb. And it's the President's baby. If successful, it will create a defense network that will insure America's security from foreign attack for the foreseeable future. The sole hitch is that the project requires a quantity of Byzantium, an extremely rare element. In fact, it looks as though the only Byzantium in the world lies in the hold of R.M.S. Titanic, sunk in 1912 and still resting more than twelve thousand feet deep in the North Atlantic."

"The task is simple enough: Raise the Titanic! The man in charge of the mission is Dirk Pitt, jack-of-all-trades and master of-most. Using highly sophisticated submersible equipment, Pitt sets to work at his Herculean job. The presence of two Russian spies doesn't help, nor does the intervention of one very nasty lady, Hurricane Amanda. For balance, however, there is one very sweet lady who doesn't in the least resemble your average marine archaeologist."

However, the film (1980) starring Jason Robards, Anne Archer, Richard Jordan (Dirk Pitt), and Alec Guinness was a financial disaster. It grossed 13.8 million on a 40 million budget.
Sahara (1992) was made into a film in 2005. states  that:

 “It is 1865. A Confederate ironclad, Texas, fights her way through the Federal blockade and vanishes into the Atlantic as Richmond falls, bearing a secret cargo that could change history... It is 1931. A world-famous Australian aviatrix, Kitty Mannock, vanishes mysteriously in the middle of the Sahara while attempting a record-breaking flight from London to Capetown and is never see again..." 

"It is 1995. Dirk Pitt, on a mission to find the remains of a Pharaoh's funeral barge buried in the bottom of the Nile, rescues an attractive young woman, Dr. Eva Rojas, a biochemist with the UN World Health Organization, from being murdered by thugs on a beach near Alexandria."

"Dirk Pitt and his friends plunge into darkest Africa, battling their way up the Niger to a huge secret, hazardous waste project, a partnership between Yves Massarde, French billionaire entrepreneur, and General Zateb Kazim, the brutal, despotic, corrupt tyrant who rules the West African nation of Mali. Pitt's epic journey up the Niger River against the gunboat fleets and modern jet fighters of two African nations leads him to the discovery of Kazim and Massarde's secret, only to find himself captured and forced to work as a slave under inhuman condition in a gold mine deep in the desert, along with Dr. Rojas and her team of UN scientist."

However, the film starring Matthew McConaughey (Dirk Pitt), Steve Zahn, and Penelope Cruz was also a financial disaster. It grossed 122 million and had a total cost of 241.1 million.