Mark Terry

Friday, August 10, 2012

What I've Been Reading

Okay, so here's the last ten...

1. Monster: Nightrider's Vengeance by JD Nixx
Otherwise known as JD Rhoades when he writes crime novels, this is SF. Sort of. Way in the future, the powers-that-be decided to genetically engineer a bunch of super soldiers. For psychological purposes, they genetically engineered them along the lines of archetypal nightmares - vampires, werewolves, and zombies.

The main character is supposedly the sole remaining vampire. Once the powers-that-be realized that the vampires (Nightriders), were getting out of control, they developed a virus that wiped them all out. Except her. And with her lover, who is a genetically engineered medic, she goes a-hunting for the people who wiped out her brethren.

Frankly, this book is so much fun it should be illegal. You've got your space battles, your land battles, your vampires, your werewolves, your zombies, your sex, your violence, your artificial intelligence run-amuck computers, revenge, exotic planets, all well-told with a non-stop slam-bam pace. I'm not really a huge SF reader, but when Nixx comes out with the next book, I'm there.

2. Red Shirts by John Scalzi
More SF. In this case, sort of satire. Everyone by now knows that "red shirts" refers to Star Trek's habit of dressing disposable away-team members in red shirts. in Scalzi's novel, a new science officer on a starship notices that certain people always seemed to die in horribly weird (ice worms, anyone?) ways on away missions. And, in fact, large segments of the ship's crew became noticeably scarce whenever the Commander or Captain come looking for away-team members.

Hilarious. Although the book seems a little thin, it's also called "A novel with three codas." It's the three codas that elevate this book to something far more than it would be otherwise. Highly recommended.

3. Damage Control by John Gilstrap
I had some issues with John's last book, but not with this one. When a group of teenagers and their chaperones are on a missionary trip in Colombia, they are kidnapped and held hostage. Jonathan Grave and his partner Boxer go in to rescue them, only to find a far more complicated conspiracy going on involving the CIA and the church. This book moves without taking a breath. Loved it.

4. The Third Gate by Lincoln Child
A techno-thriller involving Egyptian crypts and a giant archaeological dig in a giant swamp in Africa (whose name eludes me), a main character who calls his job title an "enigmatist," a doctor whose researches near-death and life-after-death experiences. It's a good book, probably not his best, but I enjoyed it.

5. House Blood by Mike Lawson
Everyone's favorite political bagman, Joe DeMarco, is told by his boss to look into the murder conviction of a friend's son. So, Joe, being a good little bagman, does so, becoming deeply entangled in  a conspiracy involving a drug company and international clinical trials. I really liked this one.

6. The Trust by Norb Vonnegut
I wrote about this earlier. Good, not great, but the stuff about how money filters through charities and foundations is fascinating.

7. Bloodline by James Rollins
His latest Sigma Force book and, I think, probably his best. We learn more about the mysterious Guild, what their missions is, where they come from. The science in this book involves longevity/immortality, as well as AI robotics with swarming behavior. As in all Sigma Force books, there are about 3 (at least) intersecting plotlines, all racing along until they intersect with a satisfying and explosive finale. Absolutely loved this one.

8. Star Wars Legacy: Volume 2: Shards
This is a graphic novel, as it says, Volume 2 in the Legacy series. It is also a nearly incomprehensible mess. The "Shards" in the title refers to the fact that each chapter of this book is pretty much a different story. In other words, in the series, this introduces about 10 plot lines that presumably will intersect further along the series. Some of them were interesting, some of them were, WTF?, and I didn't know what to make of it.

9. The Last Minute by Jeff Abbott
The sequel to his first novel to feature former CIA agent Sam Capra. In the first book, Adrenaline, Sam's wife apparently turns traitor and disappears with his newborn son. He becomes entangled with a worldwide criminal group known as the Nine Suns, and, eventually, with their counterpart, the supposed good guys, the Round Table.

In this book Sam, with Mila, hunts for his son. A parallel plotline is a hacker called Jack Ming holds a notebook full if details that could destroy the Nine Suns, so they're hunting him, too. So the Nine Suns contact Sam and tell them if he tracks down Jack Ming and kills him, he will get his son back. He is teamed up with another woman whose child is being held for ransom as well, who is supposed to do the hunting while Sam does the killing. Meanwhile, there is a million dollar ransom on Mila's head (she's with the Round Table), so there are assassins coming out of the woodwork, some who think Sam can lead them to her. Complicated? Yes. Fast-paced? Yes. And, to its credit, I liked Adrenaline reasonably well, but hated the McGuffin, the technology at the end of the book that was supposed to cause a horrible terrorist attack. No such problem in this book. Gritty, fast-paced, quite moving in many ways, and we learn far more about Mila in this book. I was impressed by how well Abbott is able to deepen characterization while keeping the pace moving.

10. Sink or Swim by Paul Levine
This is a short story featuring Solomon & Lord, the 2 squabbling lawyers from a couple of Paul's books. It's fun, light, and a reasonably good advertisement for the other books in the series.


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