Book Review: The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre’

Publishing Date: 2001

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 2.3/5

Review: I will be brief here, since there are thousands of reviews on this work. Ted Scheinman (The rated this novel at #5 in the rankings list of Le Carre’ novels.  My issues are many with this work so let’s get on with it.

1) Incredibly self-indulgent best describes this novels foray into the big bad pharma-killer industry. The biggest plot hole resides within the main story line. A pharma company knows that further research will be inevitable before the product hits open markets yet kills people on a whim to protect any deleterious product information from getting out?  Not buying what the author is trying to sell here.

2) The idea that Justin has no idea what his wife, Tessa, is up to is beyond farce. The excuse given is that she wants to protect him from all the bad things she has to uncover, BUT, everyone else seems to know about it. Even if you are willingly ignorant, there is no possible way that you could not glean a simple map of your partners efforts.

3) The ending is a lame injustice to the novels evidence.  There really is no point to the novel when the main protagonist is killed and no further illumination is rendered.

The best part of the novel are the area descriptions. Le Carre’ paints a vivid backdrop, at least where visualizations are concerned and moves the characters through it in robust fashion.  I would have liked more of the spy angle in this work, but was constricted in presentation. Too bad really.

Book Review: The Atlantis Cipher by David Leadbeater

Publishing Date: September 2018

Publisher: Amazon

ISBN: 9781503903128

Genre: Fiction/Archeo

Rating: 2.8/5

Publisher’s Description: Five ancient statues have been unearthed in South America, each containing a mysterious coded message hinting at an origin many thought impossible: the mythical world of Atlantis. As word of their discovery spreads, the prized figurines become a treasure bounty hunters will kill for.

Review: Well, once again we follow the exploits of Guy Bodie (lol) and a mostly snarky (but deadly MMA expert) Carrie Something Something. Rounding out this duo of dynamic douche bags is a computer whiz, an old dude and a planner. Wow. And, they make their living retrieving (stealing) ancient relics. Um kay. Only ancient relics have untold sources of unimaginable power, that left in the wrong hands would send the USA back to the dark ages. Hence the CIA stepping in to save the day and hire these morons in order to disavow their involvement yet simultaneously giving Team Bodie an international pass from extradition and imprisonment.

Now, if you can swallow all of that, you are good to go on reading. Me not so much. BUT, I did read this to the end and although parts were intriguing, the whole A-Team shtick with the CRASH, BANG, BOOM!, and expert douchebaggery coupled with the tough but tender CIA hot chick, just fuking wears on your entire being. However, the author makes no excuses for exhibiting a “cinema” type story line, perhaps in hopes of getting a movie deal.

This is still quite a bit better than the first installment as the characters are not as annoying and the movement is quite a bit tighter. I do hope (in order to keep reading this series) that the CIA Historical expert joins the team and that Carrie falls out of a plane to her long and agonizing demise.

Book Review: The Relic Hunters by David Leadbeater

Publishing Date: June 2018

Publisher: Amazon


Genre: Fiction

Rating: 1.2/5

Publisher’s Description: Relic smuggler and expert thief Guy Bodie is a tough man in a dangerous world, loyal only to his elite team of five. But when one of them betrays him, landing Guy in a hellish Mexican prison, he finds himself making a bargain with the most unlikely new ally: the CIA.

Review: Well what to say. In short, this was terrible. Over the top story line, unbelievable events, carried out by A-Team retards is just the icing on this dog turd.

Sooo, the premise is that a group of relic smugglers gets hired by the C.I.- fuckin’ A to take down the Illuminati. Why? They stole a map that will take them to the statue of Zeus and lots of evilly power. MUAHAHAHAHA!!….<cough>. Never mind what a relic hunter is as it is never really explained but just know that they are so good that special forces operators around the world use their escapades as a blueprint for infil/exfil ops.

There is no need to remember what each team member does as it is brought up almost every chapter. Cassidy, hot and brash underground bare knuckle MMA fighter, looking for that one fight that gives her a tough time. Guy Bodie (he’s so handsome) leader of this rag tag group of people that hunt ancient thingies, always calm in a storm and finding answers to predicaments that only a writer can manufacture. Add in a “Planner” whom, well plans and a Geek and Weeeeeeeeee!!!!!!! Oh, and they all swear undying loyalty to Bodie because he was an orphan that stole stuff, but then felt bad and someone rich raised him and taught him the tricks of the trade…<zzzzzzzzzzzz>.

This was like reading a Dan Brown novel only without the Dan or the Brown giving a fuk about a cogent assembly of story line and believable characters. The situations are absurd as are the fight scenes that are of the “Crash, Boom, Bang!” Batman variety. You might think with so much movement that the characters might develop into something tangible, but sadly no. They are still the same patterned buffoons you were introduced to.

So, get this if you like…..<ouch>, stabbing….<ouch>, your frikin’ eyes for betraying you with a fancy cover and a description that promises high adventure for the ultimate escape.

Book Review: Daughter of War by S.J.A. Turney


Publishing Date: April 2018

Publisher: Canelo


Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3.8/5

Publisher’s Description: Europe is aflame. On the Iberian Peninsula the wars of the Reconquista rage across Aragon and Castile. Once again, the Moors are gaining the upper hand. Christendom is divided. Amidst the chaos comes a young knight: Arnau of Valbona. After his Lord is killed in an act of treachery, Arnau pledges to look after his daughter, whose life is now at risk. But in protecting her Arnau will face terrible challenges, and enter a world of Templars, steely knights and visceral combat he could never have imagined. She in turn will find a new destiny with the Knights as a daughter of war… Can she survive? And can Arnau find his destiny?

Review: Strange title for the novel as the main protagonist is Arnau with Titborga getting very little play. The action is centered around opposing forces seeking to abduct or kill her for her fathers wealth, but really the whole story is about Arnau’s development as a Templar Knight under siege/war like conditions.

I found this novel pretty riveting as the movement interleaved with the character development in subtle fashion. For instance, Arnau struggles with letting go of a life as a lower noble to embrace the Templar Order. Events transpire to edge him in a direction that is more noble than the life he once lead.  Redemption? Not really, just a way out of a current predicament.

The story line’s culmination was expected, as in you could see it coming from the beginning of the novel. A shame really, as there were parts of this novel that took you by surprise. The villain was a little too “villainy” and not real believable as were the ruffians fighting on his behalf. A bit contrived but entertaining.

Pick this up, you will have a good time transporting back into the life of a Templar.

Book Review: The Imposter by Daniel Norrish

Publishing Date: January 2018

Publisher: BooksGoSocial

ISBN: 9781386163442

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 3.8/5

Publisher’s DescriptionHe’s taking them all, one by one, and their criminal industries of drugs, prostitution, money laundering, kidnap and armed robbery are collapsing in spectacular, immediate implosions.
This vigilante collects the cash and the final words of Australia’s most deviant criminals, and his identity is as mysterious as the way in which he hunts his victims. They cannot hide, and there is only one possible explanation for the vigilante’s omnipotence; he must be one of them. The murderer must be an imposter in their illegal organisation, and his final act in this rampage is certain to bring the whole gang to its knees.

Review: This was a fascinating read except for the fall down on who the Imposter was. I like the shifting points of view from chapter to chapter and the overall concept was executed very well. I had a great time reading this.

Spoiler Alert!!!

So, how does a hooker/junky become the imposter? Well, guess she had help from the “Cleaner” but it is never elaborated on whether he is doing the heavy lifting or if the barmaid/hooker/junky/lesbian is. Kind of a weak way to hide who the imposter is without giving any clarifications at the end.

Book Review: The Omega Project book 2 by Angus MacM. Hodgson


Publishing Date: February 2018

Publisher: Dog Ear

ISBN: 9781457562259

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 1.5/5

Publisher’s Description: This book starts off with Jon reminiscing about one of his early CAG missions in Afghanistan hunting for Taliban controlled caves. Later during a lull in operations he is invited to go hunting on the surface with the Chiricahua Apache. After the hunt one of the Chiricahua medicine men has a vision of the future that reveals a new enemy. An invasion from Mexico by a coalition of Mexican and Chinese forces. Jon has a little time to prepare for this threat while at the same time eliminating another threat that started in Book 1.

Review: Not sure what to make of this novel. The stilted dialogue between the characters that is overlaid with backstory and their personal histories came off a bit contrived. There was no flow to the exchanges and everyone in Omega 11 is either an expert commando do-gooder/jujitsu master, or a hot looking female sharp shooter/Olympic gold medalist x2/sword expert. The delivery is a bit smug with every event showcasing how great they, and their Indian neighbors are. If you have read any of John Ringo’s books, this follows the same pattern. The whole “Klavia The Superdog” shtick wore a bit thin especially when the narrative switches to her perspective. Anthropomorphism really has no place in literature except SciFi/Fantasy.

A few instances where you really needed to suspend your disbelief is the inaccurate portrayal of “The Hunt”. In about a day they kill 42 wolves that are attacking their small party. Wolf behavior is thrown out the door on this one as is the idea of hunting “vicious” coyotes with spears. Of course Becca kills a 170 lb. cougar with a spear and shoots freehand a lame deer at 740 plus yards with iron sites. She uses a .308 round that is special because the bullet and load is different and custom made by Westley Richards. The round “looks different” than a regular .308. Huh? A custom load is a well developed process of matching your gun to bullet type/weight, powder type/weight and most importantly, distance from the lands for seating depth. Not to mention all the prep that goes into case selection, sizing (neck or case), fire sizing to chamber, trimming/chamfer, truing- out of round necks, truing primer pockets and flash holes, weighing each bullet for consistency and proper crimp. To say that a round is custom because it looks different is not sufficient. Additionally, Westley Richards does not make custom loads for clients.

The idea that John and his MWD-k9 and Becca are accepted into the Chiricahua nation as warriors is pretty funny. In case you missed the last 150 or so years, natives don’t really like us. How do I know? I have worked on Indian reservations for 25 years an am a First Nations decendant. Sure I have a lot of friends, but generally, Tribal Council’s are careful to exclude non-tribal employees/members from ANY tribal events and you will not lead from the front on any policy issue. Also the idea that there is a traditional tribal gathering being acted out in ancient Indian escape tunnels where elders have visions which the military takes seriously, is ridiculous. The whole special warrior knife thing where “warriors have to kill anyone that touches their knife”, is bullshjt.

This novel never gets off the pot. The war that you waited for, never comes and each day is an endless hashing of “topside” conditions. I will say that the guessed at political perspectives might be pretty close in a real situation based on the current state of anarchy that resides around the world. The characters are fun to follow in that the movement flows at a good clip WHEN MOVEMENT OCCURS.  The writing style grows on you and only wastes your time with verbose military verbiage if you’re not into it. There were way too many firearm, Indian and wildlife fails, but was balanced out with some good action and interpersonal interactions.

The novel was cogent but I would say that the author either lost his voice or never developed one to enhance the characterization. Every character was patterned: like watching a B-grade military movie where characters exchange patterned dialogue. I will not be visiting the next in the series unless the author pays me.

Book Review: Ray Vs the Meaning of Life by Michael F. Stewart


Publishing Date: May 2018

Publisher: The Publishing House


Genre: Fiction/Humor

Rating: 4.9/5

Publisher’s Description: Grandma’s last will and testament names Ray to inherit the trailer park. It’s a million-dollar estate with one hitch: to prove he’s not as aimless as he seems, Ray must discover the meaning of life by the end of the month. (She left the answer in an envelope.) If he fails, the camp goes to his estranged family. How does anyone find the meaning of life while running a park full of misfit miners, would-be truck racers, and one demanding little girl? There’s a bear too. A grizzly. Maybe that’ll help?

Review: What is the meaning of life? The author does a great job of delving into the unanswerable with a dose of wit and a load of funny. I found myself wanting very badly to know what the answer to life is, only to be relieved  that perhaps the Dalen Anders’ and Werner Erhard’s of the world have only pieces to my individual puzzle.

Review: The Han Agent by Amy Rogers

Publisher: IBPA

Publishing Date: September 2017

ISBN: 9781940419152

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 1.4/5

Publishers Description: In the 1930s, Japanese scientists committed heinous crimes in their quest for the ultimate biological weapon. The war ended. Their mission did not. Eighty years later, Japanese-American scientist Amika Nakamura won’t let rules stand between her and scientific glory. When the ambitious young virologist defies a ban on the genetic manipulation of influenza, she’s expelled from the university. Desperate to save her career, she accepts a position with a pharmaceutical company in Tokyo. Soon after, a visit to a disputed island entangles her in a high-profile geopolitical struggle between Japan and China.

Review: ‘Nothing new under the Sun here. Move along, move along.”This story line is one of many that have been done over the years. Only this one was not very interesting due to the shallow characterization and weak plot.

Amika is extremely self-centered and narcissistic gurl yet is not so myopic that she fails to notice how hot her rich, handsome and hunky evil billionaire sponsor is. She wants to bang him if only to secure and further her career.  Can you say writing for a movie deal?? Well I can, and as disappointed in Amika as I was, I was more disappointed in the stilted dialogue and not so surprising deus ex moments that littered the pages of this failure. I stopped and started this novel quite a few times but mushed on to the end in hopes of some characterization revival in the form of movement and depth. It just gets worse with evil guy becoming more evil-ish and the storyline more mundane.

I think Harvard is calling and wants their PhD back.

Review: Dead Blossoms by by Richard Monaco


Publisher: Venture

Publishing Date: July 2016

ISBN: 9781300509561

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 3.8/5

Publishers Description: Jiro Tazeko is a ronin samurai – tied to no clan and scorned by many. A hard-drinking mercenary and master swordsman, he is looked down upon by his fellow samurai, thinking him without honor.  

Review: Well I finally made it to the end of a very long and interesting tale of a disgraced samurai whom likes to drink the sake….a lot. This was really good but was flawed with sequencing mistakes and a storyline that sometimes drifted and hopped around. This lack of cogency puts the hard test to the reader to follow along but once you slip into your comfortable shoes, the writing style grows on you.

Tazeko is a wonderfully flawed character that grows and changes through the course of the novel as life impacts him in a myriad of ways. These instances help define the persona and drags the reader along for a sympathetic and jovial ride.

“So why you no give 5 stars!”. At times, the novel had sequencing issues where the story line jumped around and lacked connectedness. In one instance, Tazeko and Yazu are poisoned and Tazeko wakes up in a cemetery but there is no mention of what becomes of Yazu, yet he mysteriously re-appears in the story line.  In another, Tazeko loses his sandals and arrives at his destination barefoot, then proceeds to remove his sandals when he enters the domicile. This disappearance and reappearance of people and items occurs throughout the novel. Still, a riveting novel that gets a solid metric.

Review: An Oik’s Progress by Steve Eastwood



Publisher: Troubador

Publishing Date: March 2015

ISBN: 9781784629403 

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 2.4/5

Publisher Description: Psychopathic tendencies begin to arise in Benny, which come to light when faced with a local thug with a grudge against his father. How far will Benny go to stop the man from threatening the father that has always put him down? 

Review: I thought this would be ones man’s psychopathic walk through life from child to adult, according to the description. What it turns out to be is a normal jaunt through life for about 99% of the novel, detailing Benny’s mundane life as a policeman. Its really a novel without a plot which makes it a fictional biography?

The stories within are well written and often funny. The novel follows a typical English writing style that details everyday intricacies from scene descriptions to ordinary dialogue and personal interactions. The ending is abrupt and without merit but makes a bit of sense when you follow an ordinary life for most of the novel. It needed something like the ending to make some sort of plot sense.  A really good read if you’re waiting at the DMV for your license renewal.