Category Archives: Book Reviews


Title:  Of Blood and Bone

Author:  Nora Roberts

It looks like an ordinary life, an everyday family: chores to be done, squabbling at the dinner table, a basketball game or a swim in the peaceful stream.  But beyond the edges of this peaceful farm, he world has changed.  Fallon Swift has two loving parents, but her true father died long ago, in what was known as the New Hope Massacre.  The distant city where her mother once dabbled casually in the craft has ben in ruins for years, reclaimed by nature, desolate since the Doom descended and billions grew sick and died.  Traveling anywhere now is a danger, as vicious gangs of Raiders and fanatics called “Purity Warriors” search for their next victim.  Those like Fallon, in possession of gifts, are hunted–and as her thirteenth birthday looms, her true nature, her identity as The One, can no longer be hidden.

Now the time has come for Fallon to walk away from her home, into a mysterious shelter in the forest where her training can begin.  Under the guidance of Mallick, whose skills have been honed over centuries, she will complete three quests: She will learn the old ways of healing, and find powers within herself that she never imagined.  And when he ime is right, she will take up the sword and fight.

For she until grows into the woman she was born o be, the world outside will never be whole again.  The people of New Hope are still standing, clinging to survival–but under constant threat from the darkness.  In the fragments of her vision, she can see them, trying to defeat the suffering and injustice.  She cannot yet join the battle.  for two years, in the idyllic hideaway of their cottage, she must study and spar with her mentor, and come to understand the forces of the light, the magicks of faerie and elf and shifter.  but the time is coming when she must face the darkness too–for the sake of the family she left behind, and all those who have placed their hope and faith in The One.


Title:  Pet Sematary

Author:  Stephen King

Has Stephen King ever conceived a story so horrifying that he was for a time unwilling to finish writing it?  Yes.  Pet Sematary is that story.

As king says in his introduction, “When I’m asked what I consider to be the most frightening book I’ve written, the answer I give comes easily and with no hesitation. Pet Sematary.”

When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true.  Yet despite Ludlow’s tranquility, an undercurrent of danger exists here.  Those trucks on the road outside the Greeds’ beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing….as is evidenced by the makeshift pet cemetery in the nearby woods.  Then there are the warnings to Louis, both real and from the depths of his nightmares, that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard.  A blood-chilling truth is hidden there–one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful.  An ominous fate befalls anyone who dares to tamper with this forbidden place, as Louis is about to discover for himself.

As the story unfolds, so does a nightmare of the supernatural, one so relentless you might not want to continue reading but will be unable to stop.  There’s a reason King put this novel in a drawer for several years, ” thinking I had finally gone too far.”


Title:  The Deadly Deep

Author:  Iain Ballantyne

At the heart of this thrilling narrative lurks danger and power, as acclaimed naval writer Iain Ballantyne reveals some of warfare’s murkiest secrets.  The cast of colorful characters includes an American who devised plunging boats to attack the British, who then switched sides and tried to help the Royal Navy defeat Napoleon: a former monk who created submersible boats to assist the cause of Irish liberation: and a spy who, during the American Civil War, hid Confederate submarine secrets in her bonnet.

The reader is plunged into the epic convoy battles of the twentieth century’s two world wars, when hopes of victory were placed on the shoulder’s of daring young submarine captains, many of whom perished along with the men they commanded.  We learn of efforts by the British to seize Enigma material from U-boats, how Germany’s so-called Grey Wolves were not always brave or invincible, and the role of American submarines in bringing Japan to its knees.

With skill and verve, Iain Ballantyne expertly narrated attacks by Royal Navy X-craft on Tirpitz: Nazi plans to bombard New York with primitive cruise missiles; and episodes when the Cold War era turned hot–not least the sinking of the Belgrano.  This definitive history concludes with a look at the resurgence of submarines as political and military tools and the threat of nuclear annihilation they pose.


Title:  Heads You Win

Author: Jeffery Archer

Leningrad, Russia, 1968.  Alexander Karpenko is no ordinary child, and from and early age, it is clear he is destined to lead his countrymen.  But when his father is assassinated by the KGB for defying he state, he and his mother will have to escape from Russia if they hope to survive.  At the docks, they are confronted with an irreversible choice.  Should they board a container ship bound for America, or Great Britain?  Alexander leaves that choice to the toss of a coin..

In a single moment, a double twist decides Alexander’s future.  During an epic tale of fate and fortune, spanning two continents and thirty years, we follow his triumphs and defeats as he struggles as an immigrant to conquer his new world.  As this unique story unfolds, Alexander comes to realize where his destiny lies and accept that he must face the past he left behind in Russia.

With a final twist that will shock even his most ardent fans, this is #1 New York Times bestseller Jeffrey Archer’s most ambitious and creative work since Kane & Abel.





Title:  Sea of Greed

Author:  Clive Cussler

After the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico destroys three oil rigs trying two revive a dying field, Kurt Austin and the NUMA Special Projects team are tapped by the President of the United States to find out what’s gone wrong.  The trail leads them to a brilliant billionaire in the alternative energy field.  Her goal is the end of he Oil Age; her comp[any has spent billions developing the world’s most advanced fuel ell systems.  But is she an environmental hero…or a rogue genetic engineer?

The NUMA crew discovers that the oil fields are infected with a bacteria that is consuming the oil before it can be pumped out of the earth—a bacteria originally lost decades ago when two submarines vanished in the Mediterranean.

With hired killers on his trail, can Austin locate a submarine that’s remained hidden for more than fifty years?  And even if he can, can the biological terror that’s been unleashed be stopped?



Title:  Rampage

Author:  James Scott

Before World War II, Manila was a slice of America in Asia, populated with elegant neoclassical buildings, spacious parks, and home to thousands of U.S. Servicemen and business executives who enjoyed the relaxed pace of the tropics.   The outbreak of the war, however, brought an end to the good life.  General Douglas MacArthur, hoping to protect the Pearl of the Orient, declared the Philippine capital an open city and evacuated his forces.  The Japanese seized Manila on January 2, 1942, rounding up and interning thousands of Americans.

MacArthur, who escaped soon after to Australia, famously vowed to return.  For nearly three years, he clawed his way north, obsessed with redeeming his promise and turning his earlier defeat into victory.  By early 1945, he prepared to liberate Manila, a city whose residents by then faced widespread starvation.  Convinced the Japanese, under the command of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, would abandon Manila as he did, MacArthur planned a victory parade down Dewey Boulevard.  But the enemy had other plans.  Determined to fight to the dearth, Japanese marines barricaded intersections, converted buildings into fortresses, and booby-trapped stores, graveyards, and even dead bodies.

The twenty-nine-day battle to liberate Manila resulted in the catastrophic destruction of the city and a rampage by Japanese forces that brutalized the civilian population.  Landmarks were demolished, houses wee torched, suspected resistance fighters were tortured and killed, countless women wee raped, and their husbands and children wee murdered.  American troops had no choice but to battle the enemy, floor by floor and room by room, through schools, hospitals, and even sports stadiums.  In the end, an estimated 100,000 civilians lost their lives in a massacre as heinous as the Rape of Nanking.

Based on extensive research in the United States and the Philippines, including war-crimes testimony, after-action reports, and survivor interviews, Rampage recounts one of the most heartbreaking chapters of Pacific War history.



Title:  The Rain Watcher

Author:  Tatiana De Rosnay

Linden Malegarde has come home to Paris from the United States.  It has been years since the whole family was all together.  Now the Malegarde family is gathering for the seventieth birthday of Linden’s father, Paul.

The members of the Melegarde family ae on edge, holding their breath, afraid one wrong move will shatter their delicate harmony.  Paul, the quiet patriarch, and internationally renowned arborist obsessed with his trees and little else, has always had an uneasy relationship with his son.  Lauren, his American wife, is determined that the weekend celebration will be a success.  Tilia, Linden’s blunt older sister, projects an air of false fulfillment.  And Linden himself, the youngest, uncomfortable in his own skin, never quite at home no matter where he lives–an American in France and a Frenchmen in the United States–still fears that, despite his hard-won success as a celebrated photographer, he will always be a disappointment to his parents.

Their hidden fears and secrets slowly unravel as the City of Light undergoes a stunning natural disaster and the Seine bursts its banks and floods the city.  All members of the family will have to fight to keep their unity against tragic circumstances.  In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption,  de Rosnay demonstrates all he writer’s skills not only as an incredible storyteller bur also as a soul seeker.


Title:  Black Flags, Blue Waters

Author:  Eric Jay Dolin

Set against the backdrop of the Age of Exploration, Black Flags, Blue Waters reveals the epic history of American piracy’s “Golden Age”–1700s–when lawless pirates plied the coastal waters of North America and beyond.

Redefining pirate history with an economic and class analysis that takes it beyond the usual narrative of high-seas exploits, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin describes how American colonists  flouted British rule and supported outrageous pirates who brought much needed cash flow and helped emerging businesses obtain the goods and money they so desperately needed.  Dolin also explores common motivations for “turning pirate” and finds that many of these men were displaced seamen and veterans of Britain’s imperial wars who were seeking ways to survive in an uncertain economy.  Over the years, however, as the colonies strengthened their position in the New World, these early Americans–who had once relied on pirates to do their dirty work–turned on them, and by the 1720’s, pirates were virtually (and almost always violently) eliminated from the American Atlantic.

Augmenting his narrative with thrilling episodes of roguish glamour and extreme brutality, Dolin depicts the star pirates of this period–among them the towering Blackbeard, who blockaded the entire city of Charleston in 1718, the ill-fated Captain Kidd and sadistic Edward Low, who delighted in torturing his prey.  Re-creating rousing conflicts and naval battles, Dolin details the pirates’ manifold enemies, including Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop and Puritan minister Cotton Mather, who pressured captured pirates to repent before their inevitable demise on the public gallows.

In a work that upends popular misconceptions and cartoonish stereotypes, Dolin provides a wholly original account of the seafaring outlaws whose stories augment our understanding of the precarious nature of American colonial life.


Title:  Behind the Grand Ole Opry Curtain

Author:  Robert K. Oermann

Any of its members will tell you, the Grand ole Opry is not a place—it’s a family.  And like all families, those who perform on the Opry stage have celebrated and suffered, experienced heart-wrenching tragedy and exhilarating triumphs.  They have embraced joy when their members found love and happiness, and they have grieved together for those they have lost.

We’ll her of stars who overcame tremendous adversity throughout the history of the Opry.  From Deford Bailey who rose to stardom despite being struck with polio during the epidemic of the early 1900’s through the devastating loss of Patsy Cline and five other Opry personalities in the same month, which prompted rumors of “The Opry Curse,” to the controversial romance between country star Vince Gill and Christian star Amy Grant.  These are stories that tell the heart of country–the lives lived that inspire that inspire the songs we love.


Title:  The Brink

Author:  Marc Ambinder

The Cold War’s most dangerous moment:  a high-stakes and secretive game of nuclear brinksmanship that played out in the forest of Germany, in stealthy submarines underneath the Atlantic and Pacific, in hidden London compounds, in fortified bunkers and code rooms across the globe.  The year was 1983.  The world was on the brink.  And American spies were missing the warning signals.

Mark Ambinder explains the anxious period between the United States and the Soviet Union from 1982 to 1984, with the Abele archer 83 war game as the fulcrum of the tension.  With astonishing and clarifying new details, he recounts the scary series of close encounters that tested the limits of ordinary men and powerful leaders.  Ambinder explains how political leadership triumphed over misunderstandings and the strife of interests, helping the two countries work toward a fragile peace.

The Brink provides one of the most comprehensive and chilling descriptions of the nuclear command and control process, from intelligence warnings to the composition of the nuclear codes themselves.  Ambinder reveals, with significant new reporting, the full story of the much-whispered-about continuity of government program that President Regan built up to give the presidency a chance to survive a bolt-from-the-blue attack.  He also provides glimpses into the secret world of preemptive electronic attack that scared the Soviet Union into action.  Amvinder’s account reads like a thriller, as  it recounts the spy-versus-spy games that kept both countries–and the world–in check.

From geopolitics in Moscow and Washington, to sweat-caked soldiers fighting in the trenches of the Cold war, to high-stakes war games across NATO and the Warsaw Pact, this book serves as the definitive intelligence, nuclear, and national security history of one of the most precarious times in recent memory.