Book Reviews

Insomnia and Seven More Short Stories by Jeremy Robinson

insomnia_robinsonInsomnia is a collection of great short stories from the author of Pulse and Instinct, Jeremy Robinson.  As the title implies, there are 8 shorts in total.  Each story is followed by an editorial by the author explaining why he wrote the piece and detailing what he recalls from the experience.

Each story is interesting in its own right.  Robinson explores genera’s that he normally does not write in and explores writing in the first person.  For those who are already fans of his work, this is extremely interesting since it offers a glimpse behind Robinson’s other published works.  Its like getting a brief look into the creative process as a successful writer toys with new ideas and considers new ways to expand and perfect his writing style.
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Antarktos Rising, by Jeremy Robinson

antarktos-risingA global cataclysm strikes in the form of a polar shift changing the balance of power across the planet.  The earth’s magnetic field shifts by several degrees throwing the planets climate into complete chaos.  Most of North America is transformed instantly into an arctic wasteland while the middle east becomes a fertile wonderland.  This is the premiss Antarktos Rising is based on.

As North America literally freezes over, Antarctica thaws to becomes the most sought after continent on the planet.  And since no nation had land rights to a contentment that had been locked in ice for millennia, suddenly every nation in the world is in competition to lay claim.  Despite the apocalypse that is presented at the beginning of the book, competition for Antarctica is the main plot of the story.

Not only has the continent thawed offering a potential refuge for millions of the displaced pollution, but it turns out that Antarctica has its own secrets that have laid hidden from the civilized world for thousands of years.  And as countries compete to lay claim to the newly freed land, the teams in placed scouting the continent struggle to survive secrets long since forgotten.
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Changes by Jim Butcher, Book 12 of The Dresden Files

changes_butcher_iconFans of The Dresden Files have a new adventure in their hands.  April 6th was the release for book 12 of the series chronicling the supernatural exploits of wizard and private detective, Harry Dresden.  Dresden is the worlds only publicly practicing Wizard.  Don’t believe it?  It says it right there on his business card.  But while earlier books were more centered on cases brought to him as a private investigator, Changes is entirely focused on Harry’s personal life.

The Dresden Files has been one wild adventure after another.  Vampires, trolls, werewolves, wizards, fairies, and all manner of mystical beings congregate around modern day Chicago.  And where supernatural forces frolic, supernatural bedlam often ensues.  And over the years Dresden has made powerful friends and even more powerful enemies.

This time around Harry’s personal life catches up with him.  And in the course of the tale, author Jim Butcher does an amazing job of pulling in characters from novels past and linking them all into a potent and action packed crusade that will change the future of the Dresden character forever.  Every previous book literally brought Dresden to the events detailed in this book and the consequences of this edition threaten to have far-reaching ramifications.

It’s hard to review the story without giving away twists or turns critical along the way.  It’s impossible to mention the peripheral characters that come into play without giving away information that is key to the resolution of the story.  I consider this a mark of the true craftsmanship that Jim Butcher employs when telling his tales.  The characters are compelling and long lasting as they are developed further from one book to the next.  Later books directly reference the outcome of events that were important in earlier books and surprisingly consequential in continuing storylines.
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Instinct by Jeremy Robinson

instinct_book_iconInstinct is book two in the Chess Team series by Jeremy Robinson.  And it was a book I read in a weekend because I found it nearly impossible to put down.  The action and suspense keep the pages flying by.  The story takes turn after turn as the team struggles with a mission that could alter the course of human evolution forever.

An assassination attempt is made on the President of the United States.  But its not the sort of attempt that a Secret Service Agent can throw himself on top of.  This plot is viral.  One of the viruses unique properties is that it only infects men, but does so at a genetic level.  And once infected, it is 100% fatal.  While the American government struggles to contain the contamination, and works to hide it from the American people, the Chess Team is sent to Vietnam’s Annamite mountain range to track down a cure.

Along the way, they discover the origin of the virus as well as who has weaponized it.  The team also discover an Anthropologist who has been lost in the jungles of Vietnam since 1995.  And while the Chess Team struggles to discover the cure, they find a lost race of savage creatures that may challenge man’s claim as the dominant species on the planet.
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Raising the Past, by Jeremy Robinson

raising_the_past_iconAnother great work from Jeremy RobinsonRaising the Past opens 10,000 years ago as an ancient Inuit woman struggles against a raging ice storm in an effort to reach a destination and save her people from a pervasive evil that is twisting the values of a long peaceful civilization.  As the storm builds, she realizes she might not reach her goal, and if that is the case, all hope might be lost.

Jump ahead ten millennia and an archeological dig in the frozen tundra of Canada uncovers a perfectly preserved mammoth buried in the ice.  An experienced team is assembled to recover the valuable specimen.  But without a proper team leader the expedition is already in peril.  The entrepreneur financing the mammoth recovery reluctantly agrees to bring on an old acquaintance to lead the expedition.  But the teams would be leader is reluctant to join the expedition, still traumatized after a failed archeological recovery that ended in disaster years earlier.
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Vulcan’s Forge by Jack Du Brul

Vulcan’s Forge was the first book in the Phillip Mercer series by Jack Du Brul.  It was first published in 1998.  I have read the Oregon Files series of novels by Jack Du Brul and Clive Cussler and had been eager to find out what Du Brul’s initial solo effort was like.  Not only am I eager to read the second book in the series, but I’m actually very excited that there are 5 more books in this series after that.

Vulcan’s Forge introduces the lead character, Phillip Mercer, a creative and high energy Geologist with a knack for getting into trouble.  The story actually starts in 1954 when a then state of the art transport ship is scuttled on its maiden voyage.  The plan behind the destruction of the ship turns out to be a Soviet plot that will be decades in the making.
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Vulcan’s Forge by Jack Du Brul

vulcans_forge_iconVulcan’s Forge was the first book in the Philip Mercer series by Jack Du Brul.  It was first published in 1998.  I have read the Oregon Files series of novels by Jack Du Brul and Clive Cussler and had been eager to find out what Du Brul’s initial solo effort was like.  Not only am I eager to read the second book in the series, but I’m actually very excited that there are 5 more books in this series after that.

Vulcan’s Forge introduces the lead character, Philip Mercer, a creative and high energy Geologist with a knack for getting into trouble.  The story actually starts in 1954 when a then state of the art transport ship is scuttled on its maiden voyage.  The plan behind the destruction of the ship turns out to be a Soviet plot that will be decades in the making.

Jump forward to present day and Phillip Mercer receives a telegram from an old friend that once saved his life.  The telegram explains that the recent sinking of a Navy vessel 200 miles off the coast of Hawaii was no accident and that the only survivor of that tragedy is in danger.  The survivor of that ship happens to be none other than his old friends daughter.  But the mystery thickens for Mercer given that his old friend actually died several years ago.

On top of that, political problems in Hawaii increase the tension as the United States approaches a possible civil war.  As North Korea and ex-KGB operatives manipulate the politics of the United States, a new chemical compound is discover to be the result of early underwater detonation of an atomic bomb.  This compound could lead to breakthroughs in modern superconductor technology and is exactly the type of technological breakthrough that any nation would kill to acquire.
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Kronos, by Jeremy Robinson

kronos-iconKronos was my first exposure to Jeremy Robinson’s work.  It introduces oceanographer, Atticus Young, an intelligent former Navy SEAL struggling with family issues.  His wife has recently passed away and his relationship with his daughter is not what he wants it to be.  In an effort to mend broken fences with his daughter, Atticus takes her diving off the coast of Maine.  A once in a lifetime dive to explore a pod of peaceful humpback whales turns out to be anything but expected.

Atticus and his daughter are nearly killed when the pod of whales suddenly stampede.  This leads to the shocking realization that there is an unknown super predator of the deep that even a humpback whale fears.  Though narrowly, Atticus escapes and becomes driven to hunt the newly discovered ocean predator.  In the process, his path crosses that of Trevor Manfred, an eccentric billionaire and a desire to claim the creature as a one in a life time prize.
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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

lincoln-the-vampire-hunterI expected Seth Grahame-Smith’s latest book, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, to be a tongue-in-cheek look at the life of Abraham Lincoln.  I assumed it would be a parody of sorts attempting to use the timeline of Lincoln’s life as map and having a little fun with US history.  I expected vampirism to be an analog to slavery.  That was simply not the case.  Seth Grahame-Smith went well beyond all of that.  He took the biographical history of Lincoln, and the historically pertinent parts of US history from Lincoln’s time and wrote a compelling alternative look at one of the greatest presidents in our nations history.
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The Didymus Contingency by Jeremy Robinson

didymus_contingencyIf you could jump to any point in time and anonymously observe history, what time would you travel to?  Its a question many fantasize about.  And its the question on which Jeremy Robinson based The Didymus Contingency.  The book centers around two physicists: Dr. Tom Greenbaum and Dr. David Goodman.  Together they pioneer a new technology that lets them travel through time.

Through an interesting and compelling turn of events, Tom Greenbaum has suffered a lapse in his religious faith.  This leaves him somewhat at odds with his research partner, David Goodman.  Finally, Tom decides to prove to David that his faith is unfounded.  He jumps into the past arriving at a period several years before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  He plans to witness the supposed miracles of Christ and with a scientific mind, debunk them.  David ends up chasing Tom back through time in an effort to prevent him from interfering with history.  Together they spend a great deal of time witenessing biblical events first hand.

The novels biblical central plot almost turned me away from the book.  I’m not a particularly religious individual and I don’t tend to enjoy religious debate and have little patience for those who try to foist their ideals upon others.  Early in the book it became obvious that this was not the goal of the story.  Though the plot centers on biblical events, it does so from a historic perspective and is not the least bit preachy while finding a remarkable balance that both religious and non-religious readers can enjoy.
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