The Last Mammoth ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Last Mammoth
Series: ———-
Authors: Manly Wade Wellman
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 139
Words: 40K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

Sam Ward was yearning for adventure when a Cherokee man arrived from a distant village with a tale of a monstrous hairy creature threatening his land. The formerly peaceful beast went rogue upon the death of its mate, and the chief of the Twilight People sent Otter to ask for help. Sam’s quest quickly turns dangerous with new challenges and new enemies, but using their wits, skills, and courage, Sam and Otter finally face Giluhda, last of the living mammoths.

My Thoughts:

I was introduced to Manly Wade Wellman back in my middle grade days through his Silver John series, of which the library had several. In my desire to expand my reading circle I remembered those fantasy stories (or urban fantasy maybe?) and went alooking. Well, there don’t appear to be any ebook version of Silver John and the hardcovers run up to $900, which is so out of my price range. Therefore I had to settle for some other stuff by Wellman and this is the first of the prizes I found.

This is an action/adventure Western about a woolly mammoth going mad and trying to destroy an indian village. The omens tell them they must find a white man to help kill the mammoth and so they gt our main character. He has a nice rifle given him by Daniel Boone and so of course it gets destroyed near the beginning of the story. Can’t have the hero doing something silly like shooting the dang mammoth through the eye or something.

Overall, the interaction between the hero and his indian guide and friend was pleasant to read about. Seeing two brave men face danger together and overcome it is so much better than a lot of what gets written today.

At only 139 pages, this can slip into almost anyone’s busy reading schedule, no matter who they are. Do you remember when books were regularly under 150 pages. Bookstooge remembers, and approves!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The King of Plagues (Joe Ledger #3) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@30%

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The King of Plagues
Series: Joe Ledger #3
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 492 / 160
Words: 151K / 50K



Synopsis:

DNF@30%

My Thoughts:

By the 30% mark Maberry had used the term “hate crime” 15 times. I quit reading when he used the term to justify a muslim special forces guy beating people so badly that they ended up in the Emergency Room because they used words he didn’t like. It’s called Free Speech, for good AND bad. When you start telling people what words they can and cannot say or use, you have entered the Deep State.

So adios Maberry, you confirmed my fears about you and I’ll be avoiding you like the plague from now on.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

On the Far Side of the Mountain (My Side of the Mountain #2) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: On the Far Side of the Mountain
Series: My Side of the Mountain #2
Author: Jean George
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade
Pages: 107
Words: 38.5K



Synopsis:

Sam Gribley continues to live on his mountain. His family moved back to civilization when Sam’s dad realized that farming the mountain was simply untenable. However, his younger sister Alice decides to stay and make her own way.

A conservation officer confiscates Sam’s bird Frightful, as she is on the endangered species list. At the same time Alice takes off to find her own place and takes a pig with her. Sam shadows her to make sure she is ok. Sam legs it all over New York and finds out his bird was taken by poachers to be sold to a Saudi Arabian sheik. Alice rescues Frightful, the law arrests the bad guys and Sam lets Frightful go into the wild.

My Thoughts:

This was not nearly as engaging as the first book. Part of that was that Sam was in a funk about Frightful being confiscated and instead of asking any adult about the laws or getting help, just decides everything on his own. And while he’s in that funk he reads old journal entries which chronicle all the improvements he and Alice have made on the mountain. It felt very, ummm, like George was trying to recapture some of the feeling of the first book and failing.

I did enjoy the journey of Sam and his friend as they tracked Alice down. It was a new aspect of the story and felt fresh.

While My Side of the Mountain felt like it could be read by almost any age, this book definitely felt middle grade. This was a decent sequel that I’d recommend to kids but not to anyone else. There is a third book that I’m going to dive into but my expectations are going to be very low going in.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Consent to Kill (Mitch Rapp #6) ★☆☆☆☆

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Title: Consent to Kill
Series: Mitch Rapp #6
Author: Vince Flynn
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 514
Words: 174.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia & Me

In Flynn’s previous novel, Memorial Day, CIA counter-terror operative and assassin Mitch Rapp uncovered an Al-Qaeda plot to use a nuclear weapon obtained from abandoned Russian nuclear storage bunkers. The ultimate goal was the destruction of Washington, D.C., and Rapp was forced to torture the only man who knew the details of the plan: Waheed Abdullah. Rapp then faked Waheed’s death to prevent the Saudi Government from learning of it and rescuing him, while preserving a useful source for himself. To keep Waheed from being discovered, Rapp puts him in an Afghan prison.

However, this plan backfires: Waheed’s father, Saeed Ahmed Abdullah, a billionaire Saudi businessman and a jihadist himself, learns that Rapp has “killed” his son. Saeed beseeches Saudi Prince Muhammed bin Rashid for help. Rashid puts Saeed in contact with a former East German Stasi officer, Erich Abel, and Saeed puts a $20 million contract on Rapp’s head.

Abel, through his contacts, approaches two assassins, a husband and wife team, Louis Gould and Claudia Morrell. For $10 million, they agree to kill Rapp. Claudia, who is pregnant, specifically asks Louis not to kill Rapp’s wife, Anna, as she is also pregnant. Louis agrees, and both leave for America.

In Washington, Rapp is angered by the new Director of National Intelligence, Mark Ross, who authorized surveillance of Rapp’s co-worker and friend, former Navy SEAL Scott Coleman. Ross sends the IRS to investigate Coleman, and requests Coleman’s personnel file from the Navy. Ross has ambitions to the presidency and views his current position as a stepping stone to the White House. He has no respect for Rapp because of Rapp’s reckless actions and, despite his contributions, wants to fire him.

Rapp decides to visit Ross to stop his investigation of Coleman, but he loses his famous temper when he finds a satellite photo of Coleman and discovers his friend was an active topic of interest. He physically holds the National Security adviser by the collar and slaps him with a folder holding Coleman’s files. Rapp warns Ross not to interfere with the War on Terror. His words fall on deaf ears, though, and Ross decides that he must fire Rapp. Since Rapp has the president’s full support, Ross decides he has to do it carefully.

Later, Rapp injures his left knee during a morning jog, and encounters the assassins Gould and Claudia, both dressed as bicyclists, examining his house. Rapp doesn’t suspect anything and continues limping back towards his house. The next day, Rapp undergoes arthroscopic knee surgery. He and his wife Anna come home and as they settle down in their house, Louis detonates a bomb that kills Anna and throws a severely wounded Rapp into Chesapeake Bay where he is saved by a nearby boater. The CIA fakes Rapp’s death and takes him to a safehouse to recuperate.

In a secret meeting with Irene Kennedy, Director of the CIA, President Hayes tells Kennedy that Rapp has his consent to kill any and all people involved in the murder of his wife.

Saudi Prince Rashid, who is visiting U.S., finds out from Director Ross that Rapp is in fact not dead. Ross carelessly informs Rashid of Rapp’s safehouse location. Rashid orders his assistant, Saudi intelligence agent Nawaf Tayyib, to kill Rapp and Abel. Tayyib hires Latino gang leader Anibal Castillo to kill Rapp at the safehouse. Tayyib then goes hunting for the go-between Abel with two of his men, to sever the chain of contacts leading back to the prince.

Castillo and thirteen of his men attack the safehouse. Rapp kills all of Castillo’s men, then wounds Castillo and brings him in to be questioned. Through different leads Rapp discovers Saeed was the one who put a bounty on his head.

Rapp goes to Afghanistan and gets Waheed out of prison, giving Waheed the impression that it is a hostage exchange. Rapp has Waheed unknowingly wear a vest full of explosives. As the released Waheed embraces his father in the street, Rapp pulls out a detonator and blows Saeed and Waheed and twelve of Saeed’s bodyguards to pieces.

The CIA in the meantime has found out about Erich Abel’s role in hiring the assassins and sends Rapp to Abel’s office. There Rapp finds Tayyib torturing Abel’s secretary for information on Abel’s whereabouts. Rapp kills Tayyib’s men, and he and Coleman capture Tayyib. A conscience-stricken Claudia is revealed to be the one who gave the CIA information on Abel.

Abel’s secretary reveals to Rapp and Coleman that Abel is in Austria. Rapp flies there and captures Abel at his mountain retreat and tortures him for information. Abel reveals that Rashid was the mastermind behind the plot. He also gives information on the assassins. After hearing this, Rapp, who has become much more violent and vengeful after the killing of his wife, burns Abel alive inside the house.

Rapp travels to Spain where Rashid is staying. Coleman bribes Rashid’s guards, who are British SAS sympathetic to Rapp, to let them in. Rapp completely covers Tayyib’s body with explosives and drops him off in front of the mosque where Rashid is staying. Once Rashid’s personal guards have Tayyib in custody, Rapp detonates the explosives, killing Tayyib and all the guards. Rapp finds Rashid and beats him severely before he puts a thermal grenade in his mouth and pulls the pin, melting Rashid’s head.

In the epilogue, set nine months later, Rapp trails Louis and Claudia to Tahiti. Claudia has had her baby and Louis has retired. Rapp aims a gun at Louis’s head, but once he hears that the baby was named after his deceased wife, he realizes she would not want her death avenged like this. He turns and leaves Louis, Claudia, and Anna unharmed. He then throws the gun into the ocean and continues walking down the boardwalk outside.

My Thoughts:

The reason this gets a 1star from me, and the reason for my “Oh no!” Currently Reading post a couple of weeks ago is because Rapp’s wife is killed in this story. And she was pregnant.

I knew this event was going to happen at some point. The kind of character that Rapp is and his public outing of his job in earlier books made this even inevitable. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, or to like the fact that the author bowed to the inevitable instead of fighting against fate. I almost dnf’d the book right then and there when it happened. As it is, I’m pulling this series from my reading rotation and going to think about if I want to continue with it.

Flynn has really disappointed me with this. I was hoping he was going to take the harder writing road and make things work with Mitch as a married man since he’d chosen to make him a married man. It just felt like he threw up his hands and said “Oh, this is too hard. I’m going to do the easy thing”. Have her wounded, have her divorce Rapp, but don’t kill her and their baby. It just felt wrong.

The rest of the story didn’t really matter to me. I didn’t really notice it. I was just seething. And that is why I’m going to wait until next year to make a decision about continuing the series. Emotional reactions are a fact of my life but I refuse to be controlled by them.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

The Dragon Factory (Joe Ledger #2) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Dragon Factory
Series: Joe Ledger #2
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 578
Words: 162K



Synopsis:

From Theledgerfiles.fandom.com

The story starts three months after the events of Patient Zero. Joe Ledger and Echo Team has run a number of missions for the DMS, terrorists cells closed, assassination attempts thwarted, and the like. Joe is visiting the grave of his former girlfriend, Helen, when he is approached by NSA agents. Under the orders of the Vice President, while the President is in heart surgery, they are attempting to seize control of all DMS staff, properties, and equipment. DMS teams and facilities are trying to keep their control, using threats and dissuasion. Joe ditches his tails and gets the info from Church. Jigsaw team has gone dark, and they’ve received a weird email from an unknown source. Joe is sent to Denver to find out what happened.

Cyrus Jakoby, and his assistant Otto, are brilliant geneticists. They are celebrating their greatest achievement yet: in one week, the extinction wave will begin, and all of the mud people of earth will be dead. Paris Jakoby, and his sister Hecate, god-like specimens of beauty and genius geneticists in their own right are pushing their own agenda: making billions of dollars and standing on top of the world.

While Joe was visiting Helen and escaping the NSA, the rest of echo team is approaching a man hiding out in a rundown hotel. It was a routine pick-up turned bad as their newest addition, Big Bob Farraday, got half his body shot up by Russians with automatics; Bunny and Top take them out. Church contacts them and fills them in in a hurry, they must leave and move fast to avoid the NSA and rendezvous with Captain Ledger in Denver for backup.

Church informs Joe that Captain Peterson and Jigsaw team has gone dark on a mission in a storage facility called Deep Iron in Denver. Maybe NSA got to them but he doesn’t think so, he wants Joe and echo team to find out. Church also contacts Linden Brierly, and uses a Presidential Alert protocol to make him wake up the president from his surgical recovery as soon as possible and put an end to the Vise Presidents coupe. He reaches out to the President’s wife, who has tremendous respect for Joe Ledger since he saved her life at the Liberty Bell zombie outbreak. She agrees to help them out.

On the flight to Deep Iron, Joe video-conferences with Dr. Hu and Church and is shown a video from the unknown email of a hunting party tracking and shooting a real-life unicorn, very poor audio but the video was clear. Hu and his team verify its legitimacy. The video was sent by an anonymous person in an old email account held by Church. Church recognizes one man from the video, Gunnar Heckel, who should not be alive. Heckel was involved in a group called the Cabal. The Cabal was an evil group active during the later years of the Cold War, bent on ethnic cleansing and was behind racial conflicts over last half of the 20th century. A younger Church, apart of a group known as The List, systematically took apart the Cabal and everything they had created. Seeing Heckel in the video, they think someone has re-formed the Cabal and is picking up where they left off. Heckel’s family had a storage unit of information inside Deep Iron, and Echo team must retrieve it.

Upon landing on an airfield near Deep Iron, echo team meets up with Brick Anderson. Brick is a DMS soldier with an artificial leg driving a Mr. Softee truck which is also a rolling arsenal. He drives echo team to Deep Iron and guards the entrance while they make they way down to the lowest parts of the facility, wishing for back-up, but with the NSA hounding down all of their agents none can be provided. Moving to their destination, where Jigsaw team was headed looking for Gunner Heckels data storage, Echo encounters blood, lots of it. There are Deep Iron staff and Russian special forces torn to pieces; some still alive to put up a fight. Finally reaching their destination, they are ambushed by two huge berserkers: modified super soldiers, ape DNA and other sorts added to their genes to be stronger, fiercer, and more aggressive. Overpowering Top and Bunny, Joe is fighting quick and smart, with his rapid release knife and going for the head and face, its only vulnerable parts. The berserkers run off injured, but they got what they come for; although echo has a lot more of Heckels data they can comb through to find answers. The DMS brings in Jerry Spencer to go through the crime scene to uncover any data they can salvage. Spencer uncovers many documents and also the remains of Jigsaw team, who has been killed. The papers are revealed to be medical data and horrible experiments: pain and endurance testing on human beings in the nazi camps, performed by Joseph Mengele.

The President wakes up, very pissed off, reams out the VP for his actions, and the DMS is able to get its backup and resources they desperately need. Rudy is sent to the Hub, DMS’s Denver site, to talk through the recent events and the loss of Jigsaw. The twins lost their tie to the VP, they have been manipulating events to try and acquire MindReader from Church and the DMS to further the progress of their own research.

Back at the warehouse Joe, Grace, Hu, and Bug go over all the new data and recent events. Friends of Church from The List have been killed over the last few months. When they first killed off the Cabal, Church acquired Pangea, a software package they used to steal research around the world without a trace. Church later upgraded and added functionality, it is now known as MindReader. He and Aunt Sally are the last surviving members of the List. The team discusses Mengele’s work and the data recovered from Heckle’s bin at Deep Iron. But are at a loss as to what may be going on.

The team is interrupted by another email, sent by a kid, who sent the previous email with the unicorn video. The kid is using video chat this time to get his message across, he is trying to reach Church and get his help to stop the bad men. He explains the horrible plans that are about to commence and the location of the bioweapons factory called The Hive.

Echo team rolls out to his location, to make contact and retrieve him and any information he has. The kid helps them in, but they hit heavy resilience against guards and modified creatures called Tiger Hounds: giant fierce dog beasts. Echo team acquires the kid and saves a strange group of people called the New Men, although with every new bit of info they recover their hatred increases. Unable to get info from their computer drives, Joe Ledger forces the information out of the guard, Carteret, by slapping him into submission. Church and Bug discover the extinction wave plans. Backup clears the island of remaining enemies and Joe and Grace can get back into each other’s arms.

Cyrus and Otto, always at odds with the twins Paris and Hecate, not knowing where their Dragon Factory is, putting up with their disrespect, are tricked into believing their treachery because of the DMS attack in the Hive. They make plans on attacking the Factory with their Russian mercenary army, killing at least one of them, and acquiring all of their research. Their personal assassin, Conrad Veder, will join them. Veder has been on the hunt for surviving members of The List for the past few months, to clear the road for the ne Cabals plans.

The DMS has taken in the kid, although he doesn’t feel at home anywhere. Church is looking through reports, the kids DNA and fingerprints are a match to Gunnar Heckel and Hans Gruber. With the information the kid provided, and what they got out of Carterette, they realize the scope of their problems. This is a global ethnic cleansing happening, and they need to stop it. They might have caught it sooner if not for all of the NSA slowing them down. DMS locates another facility, the Deck, and moves in, but as the are moving in, Cyrus and Otto are being picked up by the twins to be taken to their facility, the Dragon Factory. Joe and echo search through the Deck while Grace and alpha head to the Dragon Factory and take it before echo arrives.

In the factory, the twins are giving a tour to Cyrus and his group, culminating at the Chamber of Myth, a room of their most fantastic creatures. Cyrus surprises the twins by killing their little dragon and unveiling his grand plans, admitting his disappointment in them, while his soviet team attacks the island. Grace and alpha team are attacking the island as well. Cyrus unveils the extinction wave to them and who he really is; after many plans over the previous decades, he, Joseph Mengele, still alive after finding the anti-aging gene, has the extinction wave set to play.

Alarms sound and grace is separated as she dives into chamber after the group, wanting to get the trigger device that will launch the extinction wave in the coming hours. The whole island is hit by an EMP to stop them from launching the wave, but also cutting down all their team’s electronics. Joe and echo race to catch up to alpha and grace, cutting through soviets, berserkers, and other mutations on the island. Cyrus group makes their way to Hecate’s office, where she has a computer unaffected by the EMP so they can start the wave. Grace follows in pursuit, and Joe is trying to catch up to help. The rest of echo is backing up DMS teams and catching up further behind.

Grace Courtland bursts into the office and shoots down everybody, but not before Cyrus was able to get the Go-Order out. Still alive, Cyrus as the abort sequence, but before Grace could make him say it, she is shot in the back by Conrad Veder and dies in Joe’s arms. Joe snaps inside of his own head. Conrad Veder escapes as Joe is forced to stay to ferociously kill the remaining berserkers and get the abort codes from Cyrus, which he does, at great and painful lengths put on Cyrus Jakoby.

They had successfully stopped the global attack. Joe spends weeks in the hospital recovering, reflecting on what happened. Thousands turn out to Grace’s funeral, she was a celebrity who had saved the world. The teams working with the Jakobys’ to release pathogens were hunted down and dismantled by the DMS and local officials. Joe is done with hunting evil, he is tired and worn out. He quits the DMS. And on his way out, has a folder from Church, containing the recent location and relevant info on Conrad Veder.

My Thoughts:

I’m going to write about the reasons this was only a three star then I’ll go into the reasons I still enjoyed the book.

There is a semi-graphic sex scene between Joe Ledger and Grace Courtland. How it was handled reminded me of how this type of thing was handled in Maberry’s V-War series and I’m wondering if perhaps Maberry is a perv. Doesn’t matter though, it was there and I didn’t want it to be there. Then you have some extremely snide and derogatory comments about President George W Bush. At the same time Maberry makes it clear that the President in this story is President Obama but how he writes him has no bearing on reality unless you’re coaked to the gills and on prescription meds. I don’t mind idolizing a President that you (as an author) admire but when it goes hand in hand with denigrating the previous administration by name, that’s not so ok. It is typical of a certain politial party here in the US though. In the V-Wars series, there was a character created by Maberry who was of the “Oh, Vampires are People too and can’t we all just get along” type that grated on me like I was cheese. I thought then that maybe Maberry was writing him to give a counterpoint to the rest of the story. However, that exact same attitude seems to be creeping into this series and I’m worried that it is actually springing from Maberry. If it is, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the series. Finally, some of the badguys were a pair of twins (man and woman) and there was a real twincest vibe going on with non-graphic descriptions of their orgies with them both using the same lover. It was disgusting.

With all of that being said.

This was a fantastic action/adventure story. Maberry really ratchets up the stakes by having the DMS, the agency that Ledger works for, being taken out of action by the Vice-President of the United States at the behest of the nazi’s who are secretly plotting to kill every non-white in the world. Yep, super-secret mad scientist nazi’s. No joke.

Ledger is a killing machine and the monsters and other special forces operators that take out regularly trained guys left and right, well, he just mows them down like grass. I mean, he shoves a knife down a genetic super-soldier’s throat and lives to tell about it. You can’t beat that kind of action 🙂

The mad scientist nazi’s felt a tiny bit over the top but not by much. That says something that Maberry can write that and get away with it. I would have been impressed if I hadn’t been rolling my eyes just a bit. Of course, now I am left to wonder how Maberry is going to one-up that situation? Joseph Stalin Terminatori’ized? The devil breaking through from a portal on Mars? Whatever he decides, he’s definitely got his work cut out for him.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Breakout ★★✬☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Breakout
Series: ———-
Author: Paul Herron
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 237
Words: 88.5K



Synopsis:

Publisher’s Blurb

Hurricane Anna: a superstorm made up of two Category 5 hurricanes coming together to wreak unprecedented havoc along the eastern seaboard.

When the superstorm hits, the correctional officers at Ravenhill flee, opening all the cell doors and leaving the inmates to fend for themselves as the floodwaters rise. But Jack Constantine, an ex-cop serving ten years for killing one of his wife’s murderers, isn’t going to just lay down and die. Not when his wife’s two remaining killers are among the prisoners relocated to the Glasshouse to ride out the storm.

Meanwhile,

Kiera Sawyer, a Correctional Officer on her first day at work is the only officer left behind when the others flee. Sawyer rescues Jack and offers to team up. If they can make it to the Glasshouse they might just survive the hurricane. But that involves making their way through the prison, fighting off eight hundred blood-crazed inmates as the building fills with water and the wall crumble all around them

My Thoughts:

I have to admit, when I was done reading this I was left disappointed. For a slightly more positive review, check out Mogsy’s Review from earlier this year.

This was a big action’y story with tons of tension and drama. I didn’t find the two main characters quite up to snuff though. Jack is a tortured ex-cop ex-military, who didn’t hear a bloody thing when his wife was killed. Wouldn’t want him on guard duty! And for an ex-military guy, forgetting that the prison had an armory was just unforgivable. I don’t expect all military characters in books to be Special Forces level, but come on, weapons?!? Then we come to Lady Guard Sawyer. She’s an attractive female guard in an all male prison, most of whom are in for a VERY long time. And they pretty much leave her alone when all hell breaks loose and everyone is free. Now, if she had been raped, I probably would have dnf’d the book, so I appreciate that. But at the same time, outside of one token badguy doing some vaguely nebulous “a wimminz” thought, there was nothing. It rang as false as a wooden nickle.

A decent read but nothing more. I won’t be reading anything else by Herron on purpose.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Patient Zero (Joe Ledger #1) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Patient Zero
Series: Joe Ledger #1
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 346
Words: 141.5K



Synopsis:

From Theledgerfiles.fandom.com

The book opens with Detective Joe Ledger attempting to enjoy a day at Ocean City Beach in Maryland, when he is approached by FBI agents and escorted to an undisclosed location. He reluctantly goes with them knowing he could easily escape if he had to, wondering if this is about the warehouse raid his task force had done the week before. They bring him to see a man named Mr. Church who wants him to audition for a position in his new organization, an ultra-secret counter-terrorism group called the Department of Military Science (DMS). He does so by subduing a man he had killed the week before at the warehouse, Javad Mustapha, by breaking his jaw and snapping his neck. Zombies, Joes’ world turns upside down. Church explains the possibility of other terrorist cells with potential zombies out there, and says he may be in touch in the future for help. Joe is returned to his car and advised not to try and look for any information on Church or the DMS, because he won’t find any.

Joe picks up his friend and psychiatrist Dr. Rudy Sanchez and explains to him everything that has happened. Rudy believes him, and they both spend days trying to find information regarding Church, the DMS, and prion diseases causing zombies to no avail. Even the police report on the warehouse raid is gone. Rudy then vanishes, taken by the DMS to the warehouse, and Joe heads out to rescue him. He is welcomed inside, taken to Mr. Church, sees Rudy with a gun to his head, and is forced to agree to join the DMS in their fight on terror. The drama is explained away by their dire situation, and Rudy joins up with the DMS as well. Joe is then put into a room with five other candidates to decide who the leader of the new team will be, big and tough looking guys from Marines, Force Recon, and the like. Joe knocks them all into submission within seconds, and takes the title of Captain of Echo Team, with the men he just pummeled as his crew.

Afterwards Joe is introduced to Major Grace Courtland a former SAS member on semi-permanent load to the DMS. She and Mr. Church explain to him what the DMS is, their tool MindReader, and the disaster at St. Michaels, where their first zombie outbreak got out of control. We learn this is generation three of the pathogen. With how terrible things went down, Echo team is called to move out immediately, before they can even start their first bit of training, to hit the newly found site of another cell with potential zombies. Echo Team witnesses horror at the meatpacking plant, scientists pushing walkers towards screaming children, and in a moment of rage, Echo team runs in guns blazing to take down the enemy and save as many kids as they can. Having to put down a turned child, Joe and Echo are even more enraged, and demand to hit the second site ASAP.

They are forced to rest for few hours first; it’s been a long and traumatizing day. Joe meets the DMS scientists and Dr. Hu, who explains the science of this disease happening. Suddenly, the zombies being held for study by the DMS get out of the lab and attack the staff. Joe, Bunny, and Top respond first on site to put down the threat with minimal losses. Church starts an investigation with team leaders about the incident. With the knowledge of at least one traitor in the facility and a bitten soldier, Echo team is sent out to hit the second site immediately.

At the crab plant, Echo team is on a look-and-see mission only, with Alpha and Bravo on back-up. Information is the most important thing they need now. But after their successful infiltration, they stumble into what turns out to be a huge ambush. Hundreds of walkers are set loose on the team, communication jammed, explosions kill many of their back-up, Ollie and Skip go missing, and they fight to their last bullet and ounce of energy to stay alive. Gus Dietrich and the cavalry save them in their last surviving moments. They manage to keep a prisoner alive for a short time and get information out of him concerning the terrorist responsible El Mujahid and the disease Seif al Din; they also realize the possibility of creating a cure for something this frightening bringing in trillions of dollars to the research and distribution industry, and wonder if someone there might have a hand in this.

Joe brings in Det. Jerry Spencer, a former Baltimore Police Crime Scene Inspector that worked with Joe in the past, to join the DMS and learn what he can from the horrible scene at the crab plant; He is the best at what ae does. Joe questions Skip Tyler and Oliver Brown about them going missing under suspicious causes as there is a mole in the DMS. They learn their ambush at the plant was all a set-up to make them think their new information was legit. And that a pharmaceutical company, or something in the industry, must be behind this terrorist group, in it for the money.

Joe has a hunch on an impending attack, a possibility from the intel they’ve found. He requests that Echo Team, along with Grace and Rudy, be put inside the Secret Service detail that is on guard at the Liberty Bell Re-Dedication ceremony on the Fourth of July. They interview Linden Brierly, regional director of the secret service, and Robert Howell Lee director of special operations for the FBI/Homeland joint command, to get info on the event and the men they sent to the DMS when Church was first building it up, searching for their traitor.

Joe was correct; this was the event El Mujahid was using to unleash his pathogen onto the western world. Disguised, Mujahid unleashes generation 10 of the pathogen into the crowd, the most virulent of the strain so far. Joe and Top Sims chase him down, but he has infected himself with generation 12 of the strain. Immortal, able to keep his consciousness and higher brain functions. Top battles with Skip, who turned out to be the traitor, while Joe takes down El Mujahid in an intense close-quarters fight that ends with Joe taking off Mujahids’ head with the blade of a table top paper cutter. Bunny, Gus, Grace, and Rudy saved as many lives as they could at the main event, many were lost and turned, but the entire outbreak was contained.

The director from Homeland, Robert Howell Lee, attempted to kill himself, being a mole for the terrorist group, but was revived and questioned by Church. Lee admitted everything the DMS didn’t know, the involvement of the famous Sebastian Gault , hero of the world for all his Red Cross funding and million dollar medical research company. He was funding El Mujahid and his wife Amirah to just threaten the USA with this horrible disease so they would make billions developing the cure, but was betrayed when they wanted to actually release the plague to kill the western world. Sebastian and his assistant Toys destroy El Mujahids’ bunker in Afghanistan where the disease was being developed and kill Amirah who has also taken generation 12 of the pathogen. They are last seen taking a Red Cross boat away, with fake identities, covered in bandages and burns.

Church returns to the DMS base called the Hanger in Floyd Bennett Field, and leaves Joe and Grace in charge of the Warehouse in Baltimore.

My Thoughts:

Talk about the perfect book at the perfect time. I wanted some serious kick butt macho man action and boy did I get it in spades here! If this book had been a hamburger, it would have been Wendy’s Triple Cheeseburger.

Joe gets recruited into the super secret DMS (Department of Military Science) where they stop super threats before they happen. They are blacker than Al Sharpton and have all the power and the toys needed to do their job. Joe is immediately thrown into action stopping a zombie plague from being released. On top of that, there appears to be a traitor within the ranks of the DMS that he needs to worry about too. Then they find out the zombie plague is set to hit the United States on July 4th and decimate the nation. Joe can’t let that happen and he kicks butt to stop it.

While Ledger is Action Man in the flesh, the side characters play just as big a role and made this book what it was. Mr Church, the mysterious head of the DMS is appropriately mysterious and scary all at the same time. Ledger has a head shrink who gets caught up in the whirlpool and sucked into the DMS. There’s a British chick that plays the love interest and honestly, she and Ledger hooked up WAAAAYYY to fast. Slow it down buddy or she’s going to end up as plot fodder. There’s some scientists and other Action Men to round out the Good Guys. The bad guys were deliciously bad. No grey namby pamby pansy wimpos. These were the geniune article of Bad Guy. They were smart, devious and dedicated to the death of all America. THAT is how you write a bad guy!

For some reason I was expecting there to be a supernatural element to the series but at first blush it would appear to be a Super Science Goes Wrong kind of thing more than any supernatural forces forcing their way into our dimension. I’m ok with that. Big Enemies and Big Guns means Big Action.

★★★★☆

Memorial Day (Mitch Rapp #5) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Memorial Day
Series: Mitch Rapp #5
Author: Vince Flynn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 450
Words: 137.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia & Me

Intelligence gathering has indicated unusual activity in financial markets, and Rapp, back in the field after a long stint on desk duty for insubordination, unearths a bomb plot during a daring commando raid on an al-Qaeda stronghold in Afghanistan. A decision is made for the President and his cabinet to leave Washington, D.C. in early morning hours based on the bomb threat. However a United States strike force manages to intercept and disarm the nuclear weapon moments after it arrives by freighter in Charleston, South Carolina. Everyone, including series stalwart President Robert Hayes, congratulates themselves on a job well done, but Rapp is not convinced; he believes al-Qaeda leader Mustafa al-Yamani has smuggled a second nuclear weapon into the country and plans to detonate it in Washington, D.C., during Memorial Day celebrations.

Rapp, a ruthless terrorist pursuer by temperament and training, turns it up several notches this time around, following al-Yamani’s scent with feverish abandon. When a missing Pakistani nuclear scientist is found to have passed through LAX on his way to Atlanta, and a truck driver turns up dead due to radiation sickness, the chase is on again. Ultimately the terrorists approach Washington D.C. by water, are spotted from the air, and killed by Rapp. The second bomb, however, has been activated and is in its countdown, unable to be deactivated. After an assessment of options, Rapp transports the bomb to a secure underground facility where it explodes with minimal human or environmental affect.

My Thoughts:

Oh man, I love a good “nuke loose in the United States” thriller story. It sends a frisson down my spine to even contemplate such a thing in reality, but in a book, I can handle it and it really amps up a story, that’s for sure.

I found that Flynn’s way of handling Rapp, now stuck between being a desk jockey and wanting to be a Field Operative, was handled well. For the most part Rapp doesn’t go cowboy’ing it and laying the smackdown on the terrorists. That job is mostly left to the other Special Forces. Rapp does get into the thick of things near the end when they are chasing down the remaining nuke and have to find a safe place to let it go off.

Mrs Mitch Rapp is out of the story, as she’s at her family’s cabin on the lake for the Memorial Day Weekend. Kind of sneaky of Flynn to get around the issue that way but it works for this book and I know Flynn isn’t ignoring the overall situation of the Rapp’s as a couple. I’m sure the nitty-gritty of their relationship will pop up once again.

On an aesthetic note, the cover I chose was the only one that was even half-way “actiony”. Every single other one was boring, political logo branding. I have no idea why the covers are made that way. While not The Executioner, they should have an appropriately cool military/assassin/spy cover. Give me goodguys with guns or badguys with bombs. Or planes, trains and automobiles. Just something besides the generic “looks like a folder on the desk of a bureaucrat” that I’ve seen.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Executive Power (Mitch Rapp #4) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Executive Power
Series: Mitch Rapp #4
Author: Vince Flynn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 412
Words: 134K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia & Me

CIA field agent Mitch Rapp’s cover has been blown following his last assignment, preventing Saddam Hussein from obtaining nuclear weapons. Rapp receives public acknowledgment by the president in response to the latest Congressional leak to the media. Though the praise is of the highest quality, the President might as well have placed a bulls-eye on Rapp’s chest and that of his loved ones by singling him out as the most important person in the fight against terrorism. The spotlight makes the former covert operator an ideal international target for eradication by terrorists as the symbol he has become.

Rapp moves from CIA operative duties to that of a counter-terrorism bureaucrat. As special advisor on counter-terrorism to CIA director Dr. Irene Kennedy, Rapp uncomfortably sits in an office. However, everything changes when radical Islamic terrorists ambush Navy SEALs on a top-secret rescue mission in the Philippines. The leak had to be in either the State Department or the Philippine diplomatic corps, but nobody knows for sure. However, worse yet is that someone is trying to cause a Jihad on a scale never before seen and that unknown invisible individual is close to achieving the goal with only a too visible Rapp in the way.

Rapp leads a team to avenge that loss by defeating the Philippine terrorist network that killed two SEAL team members and rescuing the American hostages. In order to successfully accomplish this mission he must keep its existence from the turncoats who betrayed those who went before him. The coincidental plot-line has forces plotting to upset the tenuous balance in the Middle East’s geopolitical situation. A flamboyant Saudi Prince, who is banished from the Kingdom, elicits the help of a Palestinian assassin to murder the leaders of terrorist cells as well as Saudi and Palestinian Ambassadors in the hopes of dissolving US support for Israel and the eventual establishment of an official Palestinian state.

The assassin completes his tasks and has Israel, the US and the UN exactly where he wants them. Unfortunately for him, Rapp finds out who he is, what he has done and leaks some of the assassins talks with Israel to the Saudi Prince, who kills the assassin. Rapp then in turn kills the prince as an object lesson to other Saudi Royals to stay out of the “terrorism as a hobby” business.

My Thoughts:

This was another enjoyable read but the dual storylines never connected and so it almost felt like two different books mashed into one. I have to admit, I wish the author had simply concentrated on one or the other and expanded it to fill the book.

The palestinian assassin storyline could have been fantastic and I was waiting for him and Rapp to duke it out assassino a assassino style. So it was a letdown the way things went. The biggest thing is that Rapp’s cover is permanently blown and so his days of secret assassinations are pretty much done. And yet there are a lot more books to go so I’m left wondering how the author is going to keep the interest going. I guess I’ll just have to keep reading and find out, hahahahaa.

The author handles Rapp being recently married very well. I was wondering how he was going to deal with the relational side of things and he doesn’t shy away from it. Rapp and his wife Anna have a huge blowout about him going back into the field, against orders no less and the fact that he’d been wounded made it even worse. Thankfully, Rapp isn’t a pigheaded jerk and he cares about his wife and her feelings and realizes that he is going to have to change some things if he wants their marriage to work. It was so refreshing and encouraging to see a character in a book place the needs of their marriage before their own personal desires or using “work” as an excuse. We will have to see how this part of the overall storyline works out in future books because it can not turn into a cycle of Mitch Rapp doing what he wants, his wife blowing up at him, making up and then promising to do better.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how this series is progressing. It is book 4 and I have no real complaints. The author hasn’t pulled any boneheaded moves but simply tells a good action/adventure story. Keeping my fingers crossed he can keep that track record.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Separation of Power (Mitch Rapp #3) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Separation of Power
Series: Mitch Rapp #3
Author: Vince Flynn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 378
Words: 133.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

About a month after the events in the previous book, CIA Director Thomas Stansfield has succumbed to cancer and has chosen Dr. Irene Kennedy, The director of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, to take his place as director. Meanwhile, Henry “Hank” Clark, a corrupt Republican senator and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is making plans to prevent Kennedy from becoming the director of the CIA. His plan involves embarrassing her before she can be confirmed for the position, and handpick a new director and have them open up “ECHELON”, a global surveillance program, and give its secrets to his investors in Silicon Valley, who will then help him get elected to become president. His original plan to kill Rapp and embarrass the CIA failed, so he begins the process of his new plan.

Mitch Rapp is called in to visit Kennedy to talk about Peter Cameron, the CIA officer who attempted to have him killed in Germany, but was killed by an assassin before Rapp could capture him. He and Kennedy watch surveillance footage that captured the face of the assassin. Rapp realizes that the assassin is Donatella Rahn, an Israeli assassin and Rapp’s ex-girlfriend. Kennedy instructs him to take his girlfriend, Anna Rielley, to Milan and propose to her, and then go visit Donatella to learn who hired her to kill Peter Cameron. Meanwhile, Clark visits his accomplice, Mossad director Ben Freidman at the Israeli Embassy, who has been helping him become president in exchange for more aid to Israel. At the meeting, Clark orders Ben to assassinate Donatella, who he hired to kill Peter.

Later that day, Ben visits President Xavier Hayes, Kennedy, and General Flood, the chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of staff, at the White House. It is there he informs them that Saddam Hussein, with the help of North Korea, is only a few weeks away from acquiring three functioning nuclear weapons. He also informs them that the facility for making these weapons is hidden under a massive hospital in Baghdad, and that if the Americans won’t take action, than they will do it themselves. Seeing as how an Israeli response could lead to nuclear war, The President and his team start to come up with ways to destroy the facility and the nukes.

At the same time, Mitch and Anna arrive in Milan, and after a day of touring the city, Rapp goes to visit Donatella. In Washington, Clark persuades his accomplice, Albert Rudin, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to investigate Kennedy for corruption and promises him evidence before her confirmation ceremony. In Milan, Rapp can’t get Donatella to tell him who hired her, but realizes they are being followed. When they arrive at her apartment, Donatella is ambushed by awaiting Mossad operatives, but manages to kill them thanks to Rapp’s warning. After Rapp promises her protection in America, Donatella confesses that Ben had hired her to kill Peter. Rapp brings Donatella to he and Anna’s hotel room, where she accuses Rapp of having an affair,and she storms off before he can explain.

In Washington, D.C., General Flood concocts a plan to insert a Delta Force team into Baghdad, disguised as a presidential motorcade, and infiltrate the facility under the cover of a U.S bombing campaign across Iraq in order to steal the nukes. But Kennedy strongly recommends Rapp to lead the operation. Elsewhere in Washington, Jonathan Brown, deputy director of the CIA, meets with Norb Steveken, the head of an investigative firm hired by hank and Rudin to investigate Kennedy. Brown hands off classified information on Orion Team, a secret counterterrorism team led by Kennedy, who Rapp is a member of. Rapp returns to America and is read in on the plan to infiltrate Baghdad. He agrees to the mission and comes up with the idea of impersonating Uday Hussein, Saddam’s favorite son, in order to gain access to the facility. As they prepare for the mission, Rudin reveals the existence of Mitch Rapp and the Orion Team on Meet The press and implicates Kennedy of violating international law, throwing the confirmation process into chaos.

President Hayes orders the bombing campaign against Iraq, which helps Rapp and the Delta team to successfully enters Baghdad. Rapp and the Delta team, disguised as SRG soldiers, are able to enter the facility and steal the nukes. As they fend off enemy fire, they destroy the facility, kidnap the head North Korean scientist, and escape Iraq with the nukes. After they return to the U.S safely, President Hayes reveals the success of the operation and confirms Rapp’s existence by explaining Rapp’s action in Iraq. Rapp returns to his home and apologizes to Anna, and after he does this, he retires from his role as an assassin and proposes to her. His plan having failed due to the fact Kennedy is looked at as a hero, Clark kills Rudin by pushing him off his balcony, making it look like a suicide.

When the Israeli prime minister comes to Washington with Ben Freidman and Yasser Arafat, Rapp and the president interrogate Ben and threaten to kill him. As a result of this, Ben reveals Clarks role in the week’s events. Several weeks after this, Clark is killed by Rapp and Donatella at a bar in D.C, making it look like an apparent heart attack.

My Thoughts:

This was a good wrapup to the initial Mitch Rapp trilogy. Senator Clark (what’s with bad senators? They make horrible presidents and should know better than to try to be president. A senator is a pack group animal, while a president is a lone wolf with the decisions resting squarely on his shoulders) and his plans to discredit the current administration no matter the cost fails and in the end Rapp takes care of him. Permanently. It was satisfying to read.

The thing that I enjoyed that I didn’t think I would was the relational drama between Rapp and his girlfriend. She’s a big time reporter and has to stick her nose into everything and Rapp is beyond secretive about everything on general principle. It comes to a head here and they have a stormy stomp off the stage I’m not going to marry you scene. I really liked how the author brought these conflicting personality types and responsibilities against each other. They are real issues these 2 are going to have to deal with if they want their marriage to last. What I didn’t like was how feelingz and wuv, true wuv overcame all in the end as they get engaged. What these 2 characters need is some serious marriage counseling, as their life paths are going to continue to clash if they can’t figure out how to make it work. I wanted to shake both of them by the scruff of their necks and tell them to go to Pastor Peckham. Here’s to hoping the author uses this dustup to make them examine the issues in their lives and not just as fodder. * fingers crossed *

If the series had ended right here, I would have been satisfied. However, I am very glad that the adventures continue. I need some macho man reading without asshattery arrogance and Mitch Rapp fits the bill perfectly.

There is a movie called American Assassin but it appears to be based on book 10 or 11 of the series, so I’m not even tempted to watch it yet. Who know what kind of spoilers, and probably WRONG spoilers to boot, it contains? I’ll wait til I’ve read the book and then see if my library or Prime has it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.