Monday Book Picks for 2013

My 203 Monday book picks from the Blog

Tiger by the Tail by John Ringo and Ryan Sear
The latest in John Ringo's Paladin of Shadows series. Mostly written by Ryan Sear from an outline by John Ringo. As you should remember, the first book in the series, Ghost (a Monday Book pick in in 2009), was one Ringo felt he had to write from a personal perspective, but never thought it would be published. Not only was it published, but it was a run away best seller that won an award as a Romance novel for its open and honest look into the B&D/S&M world from the viewpoint of a Het male Dom. Tiger by the Tail follows the Kildar and his dour band of warriors to the South Pacific, where they are hunting pirates as a training exercise. Of course, things get interesting from there. It's a fun filled action series, so expect battles, adventure, beautiful exotic women, spies, and references to really good beer. Ringo handed the bulk of the writing to Ryan Sear. Sear has been the fellow writing the current Executioner series (originally written by Don Pendleton). A gritty pulp series about an Army sniper in Vietnam who's family has been destroyed by the Mafia, so he declares a one man domestic war on the�Organized�Crime families. One of the cool things about that series was the firearm gearhead detail. This is something that Ryan Sear has brought into the Paladin of Shadows series and personally, I think it fits well. The characters are a little wooden compared to the previous books, but that isn't unexpected since this is the first time Sear is taking them out for a spin. Close enough to be recognizable to fans of the series, so as they say "good enough for government work." Like most books in the series, there is some sex, but this primarily an adventure pulp of the old school, which is a good thing.

Super Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
The Rogue Economists are back. This one is as fun as the first one. They tackle a wide range of issues, including:

Oh, there is more, those are just a sample. Here is one data point that shouldn't suprise you, a "low end" prostitute in Chicago is much more likely to have sex with a Chicago police officer than be arrested by Chicago police officer.

Area 51 by Bob Mayer
The first is a series of ten books (currently). I've just read this one, the series intro, and found it fast paced and fun. Now I enjoy a good conspiracy as much as the next person, perhaps more, and this book is based on the infamous Area 51, and throws in Pyramids, the Nazi obsession with the occult, and Ancient Astronauts! A good adventure pulp novel. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

The Mad Goblin by Philip Jose Farmer
I'm seeing a lot of Philip Jose Farmer's work come back into print, which is a good thing. The Mad Goblin is one of two parallel sequels to A Feast Unknown. This one focuses on James "Doc" Caliban (yes, based on Doc Savage), half brother of the fellow Tarzan was based on. Both are former agents of "The Nine." A group that discovered the secret to extremely prolonged life thirty thousand years ago and has ruled the Earth from behind the scenes since then. This is adventure pulp at its finest, with Farmer paying tribute to one of his favorite fictional characters.

The Five Tibetans: Five Dynamic Exercises for Health, Energy and Personal Power by Christopher S. Kilham
I learned these yoga exercises at a martial arts seminar a couple of decades ago. Found the book years later. I find them very useful in jumpstarting your metabolism. Best done in the morning. I find that if I do them in the evening, I'm up past 2AM.

Time's Last Gift by Philip Jose Farmer
This classic is back in print, so if you haven't read it yet, go do so! In the not so far future from now, time travel is discovered. You can only travel backwards in time, and there is a limit of how far back you can go. So a team of scientist is sent back as far as possible, to the early days of Homo Sapiens. So far back, North Africa was lush plains and forests. Here is the plot twist, one of the team members is not quite what he presents himself as. He is in fact, much older than his other team members, since he been given the gift of immortality (or an extremely long life span) by a Witch Doctor he saved from a leopard in the African jungles he was born in. If you haven't guessed who the tall gray eyed ringer is by now, you haven't read enough Farmer.

The Sting of the Scorpion by Warren Stockholm
Delightfully dark pulp. Kurt Reinhardt is the product of Nazi genetic engineering in a world were the Germans won WWII and occupied America for sixty years. He was bred to be super solider but didn't like the job. After another war which saw American regain its independence, he immigrates to America and works his way to wealth. Of course he has serious issues, which he works out by fighting crime in slums of Pittsburgh. It's dark, gritty, and nasty. Just what you want in Noir Pulp.

Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy by Gwyneth Cravens
In honor of Lenin's birthday, I'm going to repeat the Monday Book Pick from May 11, 2009. An environmentalist opposed to Nuclear Energy did some honest research and came to the conclusion that only Nuclear Power can provide the base load of clean electricity needed. Actual science trumps rhetoric.

Scope of Justice by Michael Z. Williamson
The first of MZW's MilFic Sniper series. The story of two US Army snipers taking on a dangerous mission in Pakistan to take out a high ranking al Qaeda member. It's full of SNAFU, FUBAR and TARFU. In other words a good description of a military mission. An engaging and interesting read.

Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior by Rorke Denver
Memorial Day Special. Rorke Denver was one of the actual Navy SEALs who starred in the movie Act of Valor. He is a combat vet, having lead a SEAL team in Iraq and has been of of the officers in charge of SEAL Training. An interesting book that goes into how the program molds highly motivated men at the peak of physical conditioning into highly skilled special operators.

The Dracula Tape by Fred Saberhagen
Vampires have been all the rage with the kids lately, but back in the mid 1970, Fred Saberhagen wrote one of the best Dracula books ever, IMNSHO. Dracula tells his side of the story told by Bram Stoker. In his version, it is Van Helsing that is the blood thirsty monster and Vlad is the misunderstood hero. A fun read, but better if the you read the Stoker version first.

The Third Girl by Agatha Christie
It's been a while since I've read murder mysteries. I've started back in with some of classics. This is one of her later ones, written in the 1960s. Complete with Beatniks, Mods, and shaggy haired artists on drugs. This one features Hercule Poirot, the fussy Belgian detective, along with a cast of larger than life, yet stereotypical characters, including the dotty old British military officer writing his memoirs. A fun read. Agatha Christie mysteries are classics for a reason folks.

Attack of the 50 Ft. Democrats by R.K. Delka
R.K. Delka mixes a few genres in this story. Political satire, B-Movie SciFi Horror flicks, and a good dose of humor. Word of warning, anyone who cried in disappointment when Keith Olbermann was tossed off MSNBC won't find this funny. People who pay attention to a wider spectrum of news will. While Mr. Delka approached this subject with tongue firmly planted in cheek, aspects of the story struck home with precision accuracy. The majority of the "mainstream" media giving up all pretense of objectivity to become 'fan boys' of a President who can't be trusted to speak without a teleprompter (he messes up words with a silent 'p', just like President who said 'corpsemen', twice, while giving speech honoring US Navy Corpsmen) is one example. The more subtle one was the 50 ft democrats roaming the nation destroying sections of cities. They don't need to be 50 feet tall to do that. Just look at Detroit. 50 years ago it was a thriving, vibrant city with one of the highest per capita incomes in the nation. 50 years ago was also the last time a Republican was involved in the city government. 50 years later, large sections of the city lies in ruins, the people are impoverished, almost half the streetlights don't work, and the city is bankrupt. Attack of the 50 Ft. Democrats is funny, but it is also a warning. Congressional democrats may not actually have the brand of certain billionaire who spends orders of magnitude more money than the Koch brothers, but they are certainly more under the influence of his money than they are the votes of the people they are supposed to represent. So laugh away, but pay attention to the message, which includes this, It Is Not Too Late. Oh, and he set the stage for a sequel. So expect more adventures featuring the former US military fighter pilot turned politician.

Amateur Night: A World War II Historical Adventure by C.P. McKechney
An interesting, but long, story about a Nazi attempt to knock out the Panama Canal just before the US becomes involved in WWII. The plot is foiled by a collection of 'expendable amateurs.' This book was interesting to me personally in several ways. First, I'm a more than average history buff, I enjoy military fiction, and most of the action occurs in the Canal Zone, where I lived for a couple of years as a kid. There are some interesting characters in the book, some of which are slightly more filled out than your typical cardboard cutout character. The action scenes are well written and are clearly carefully storyboarded. There is also a very good, and shorter, book trapped inside this novel waiting to get out. I was reminded of an interview with an author who pays his mortgage with sales from e-books, in which he points out that he budgets for an editor for all of his books. Those carefully storyboarded actions scenes I mentioned, you read almost all of them multiple times as the author provides multiple viewpoints for each fight. These are not blended together to provide a fast narrative that conveys the chaos of combat. You get the full action sequence played out, in full, from two or more perspectives, one right after the other. If you enjoy this type of book, and have the time to kill, give it a go. If you don't have the patience to slog through a book that really is much too long, then don't start this one.

Blood of Heroes by Steve White
A well researched time travel tale. The author lays out the rules for time travel in his future universe up front, which is a plus in time travel stories. Our heros travel back to bronze age Greece to observe a historical event and then the fun starts. They run into humanoid aliens. Very long lived, technologically advanced aliens. These aliens didn't reproduce very often, but they had been there long enough produce a second generation. The older ones had names that included Chronos and Theia. The younger ones included Zeus, Hera, and Apollo. You can see were this is going. There is much action and adventure (adventure: bad things happening to other people far away). A fun read with two sequels already.

Fire With Fire by Charles E. Gannon
A near future SciFi adventure that reminds me favorably of Dr. Pournelle's Future History stories. Smart characters, deep secrets nested inside other secrets, action, aliens, and more action. It sets the stage for multiple sequels, which is a good thing.'

The Evil in Pemberley House by Philip Jose Farmer and Win Scott Eckert
Win Scott Eckert finishes an unpublished Farmer novel set deep in Farmer's Wold Newton settings. Half the fun of this book is spotting all the references. Some are obvious, others require a Farmerphile, such as myself, to spot. Overall, a nice bit of pulp set in the early 70s. Patricia Clarke Wildman, the daughter of the Pulp Hero known as "Doc Savage", is in a rough emotional spot, after the death of her parents, and her recent husband. Then she discovers that she is inheriting an English estate, made famous in the Jane Austin novel, "Pride and Prejudice." Of course there is a ghost involved, and some shady characters among the living up to no good. With only minor spoilers, let me say that good mystery and spot of adventure is just what Patricia needed to get her out of her funk. She is her father's daughter after all. Mild warning about the sex scenes. Very risque by 1970's standards, but not so much today. Milder than what you would find in John Ringo's Ghost series. A good read for the Farmer fan, but perhaps a bit too much 'inside baseball' references for someone not familiar with Farmer's body of work.

Dead Six by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari
This is an upfront adventure story. Two groups of very skilled killers, one a group of mercenaries, the other a group of ruthless thieves. Both end up in a small Middle Eastern country and their missions often put them into conflict. Lots of action, very accurate weapons description and handling, shadow agencies, and grand conspiracies. I really enjoyed this book, a fun read with plenty of action and twists.

Don't Let The Hippies Shower by Stephen Kruiser
Political comedian turns author and produces a funny book that covers serious topics. His theory is that many social problems started when hippies started bathing and blending in with responsible adults. They then needed jobs, and unfortunately selected a job that gave them their summers off let them rot childrens' brains with their hippy dribble. He has an interesting and surprisingly simple solution. Check it out.

Hard-Boiled by Doug Ross
Doug Ross takes a break from political blogging and pumps out a formula pulp Noir detective story. In doing so, he reminds us that there was a formula for these books because the formula worked! It was a fun, fast paced read. Where the good guys have flaws and the bad guys are ruthless killers. It isn't high art, but it is an example of a classic art form. The Pulp Noir Detective Thriller.'

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