Category Archives: book review

Book Review: CHANGER by @mattgemmell

I just finished a REALLY neat book by Matt Gemmell, CHANGER, and I thought I’d capture my reaction in the form of a book review.

Being a fan of both SFF as well as military/action thrillers like the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child and the Jack Ryan books by Tom Clancy, this one really tickled my fancy.

An European military task force is summoned to respond to a growing threat. A threat that hooks you in from the get-go. I started and couldn’t put it down.

Having read Schrödinger’s Kittens and The Search For Reality a few dozen times, this story really clicked for me. HINT: That book has to do with non-locality and multiple outcomes. That’s ALL I’m going to say.

So if any of that sounds interesting, then you can read the Prologue and the first three chapters for free.

Cons

As an author myself, I noticed a few things that could have been improved. For one thing, the scenes had a bit too much head hopping. I prefer for a given scene to stay with one character. And sometimes the adverbs were a bit much. If some of them had been traded in for a little more show-don’t-tell, it would have been beyond perfect.

Pros

As stated in The Irresistible Novel, the things I’m mentioning are preferences. My friend calls them MOOs (My Opinion Only). The most critical thing you can have in your story isn’t writing craft. It’s actual story that draws the reader in. CHANGER has exactly that.

Cover art

As I’ve already said, don’t skimp on the cover. Matt certainly did not. The front and back is a feast for the eyes. For fun, I’ve thrown in the full cover so you can read the back cover copy. Delicious, huh?

changer-backcover

Book Report: Area 51 by Bob Mayer

As indicated before, I started reading break away or debut novels by prominent authors last year. And here I am to deliver another book report!

Area 51 – Bob Mayer

Bob Mayer was one of the speakers at last year’s Clarksville Writer’s Conference. He was hilarious, gung ho, maybe a tad bombastic (retire Green Beret), and best selling author that had no hesitation to brag he makes about $1000/day with his trove of published novels.

Like or hate his personality, he has succeeded so I wanted to read one of his first works. It turns out, this novel was released under the pen name “Robert Doherty” through classic channels. He has since gotten the IP rights for all these past novels reverted back to him, a business move worthy of respect, and moved on to e-books.

Back to the story. It really is pretty neat. The writing is crisp, the dialog cool. I kept turning page after page, wanting to know what happens. I also had an inbuilt curiosity as to what this author would do. I have seen TV shows set in Area 51 like Seven Days, Stargate: SG-1 (based near Area 51 and steeped in similar military conspiracy), and other movies.

There was a bit of investigative journalism gone wrong combined with other historical legends. I must admit that part (won’t give it away!) really whet my appetite.

Bob Mayer indeed knows how to write. He knows how to make you turn the pages. I think I spent 3-4 days tops reading this book. I’ll confess it didn’t match my hunger in reading the debut Jack Reacher novel KILLING FLOOR. But then again, I’m finding it hard to spot the next novel that will compete on that level.

I’ll shoot with you straight on this: it wasn’t as hard to move to another novel by another author when I finished as it was for certain other novels. There were other series novels I read last year that made it hard to stop and move on instead of continuing the series. This one wasn’t the same. Will I ever go back and read more of Bob Mayer’s books?

Maybe/maybe no. I have read some of his other non-fiction books on writing craft, so in a sense, the man has already scored additional sales. It takes a top notch story with top notch characters and top notch writing to score that with me, and Jack Reacher has made me picky. Don’t take it a nock.

If you like SciFi and military conspiracies, you’ll find this book most entertaining.

Happy reading!

Book Report: The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Over the past year, I have been on a bit of a reading binge. I got this idea at the 2015 Clarksville Writer’s Conference to read the debut novel of top notch authors. Instead of reading a series or stack of novels by one author, I’ve been jumping from author to author, looking for a cross section of writing styles, views on things, and varied tastes.

This is my first of many book reports, so without further ado….

The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton

There was a movie by the same name released in 1971. As a kid, I had seen it a dozen times. Okay, maybe not that much, but anytime I spotted it, I had to stop what I was doing and watch it. It’s so cool, despite its dated look. When I learned, years later, that this was the break away novel (not debut) of the famous Harvard doctor Michael Crichton, it blew me away. I finally bit the bullet and read it last year.

A team of scientists battle a strange disease that threatens all of mankind. But instead of being loaded with cliches, the scientists battle it with real science. And they have real, believable issues that hamper their pursuit of a cure.

One scientist spots a key symptom early on that would result in a solution, but a strange, unexplainable incident causes him to forget this epiphany. Having seen the movie, I knew what happened. I won’t spoil it for you and tell you what it is, but suffice it to say that I have suffered the same in the past, and this connected with me on a personal level.

Michael Crichton has a strong basis in biological science with his medical education. He clearly shows preferences for the hard sciences as did Isaac Asimov. He takes things into the realm of “this may not exist today, but I believe it could in the future.”

The novel isn’t as dated as the movie. The scenes with the military sound realistic. I can visualize the parts in the labs where experiments are conducted. I may not be on top of medical research, so perhaps some of the stuff mentioned is ancient. But it gripped me. And it doesn’t slow down and bore you with research, but instead makes things exciting.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that little was changed from novel to movie. The novel has an all male set of characters whereby they changed a key doctor to a woman in the movie, for the better. Kate Reid delivers a superior performance as a sassy, knows-what-she-knows microbiologist. But the core story and the big wrinkles are all there. Makes me want to go and watch the movie, again.

The whole thing is cutely wrapped up as a government memo you are reading implying this event DID happen. I always enjoy little bits like that, and I hope you do as well.

Happy reading until my next book report!