Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Devil Colony" by @JamesRollins. Reviewed by @mrneil98

The wait is over but was it worth waiting an extra year? Heck Yes!! I will try to review the book without giving away too much but first some background. I discovered James Rollins and the Sigma Force series at a library book sale in 2005 where I purchased Sandstorm, mostly due to the cool holographic cover. After reading it I was hooked; with ball lightning, killer scientists and hidden cities under the desert, how could I not be. As a reader of all seven novels, I think of the characters as family, the most thrilling family evah! We have shared loss of friends and body parts, struggles with family and relationships and become cognizant of the latest developments in science and technology usually mixed with historical fiction.

This is exactly what The Devil Colony offers. There are two missions that keep overlapping. In the first Painter Crowe, Kowalski and the geologist Chin are investigating the aftermath of a mysterious explosion in Utah. The fireworks were outside an ancient Native American cave containing mummified bodies and artifacts and the perpetrator may have been a young Native American activist Kai who is also Painter’s niece. The other story line has Gray, Seichan and Monk investigating the true story of the Guild. (Sorry Rachel fans but this is Seichan’s book.) At the end of the e-short story The Skeleton Key, Seichan receives papers embossed with The Great Seal of the United States containing clues to the Guild. She delivers them to Gray and their search is on!

In true Rollins fashion, The Devil Colony is filled with historical and religious information concerning Native American, Mormons, Israelites and our Founding Fathers. Several times I paused to “wiki” some of the topics like the Caucasoid mummy remains or Chief Canasatego, as well as nano-bots and neutrinos. I love when my novels peak my curiosity and my adrenalin, and Rollins consistently delivers. There are many locales visited by the two groups but this time the majority of the action takes place in the United States. Painter’s group journeys up and down the Rockies while Gray’s stays east of the Mississippi (Iceland is east).

While the action is fast and furious, what distinguishes Rollins from many others in this genre, is the balance of duty to country (or world) and duty to family. Gray’s struggles with his father’s Alzheimer’s seem to weigh on him more than being caught in a volcanic eruption. Painter must decide how to deal with his niece Kai while heading off impending disaster. Kat, eight months pregnant, is left in charge of Sigma and must send her husband out on a life threatening mission.  Then there is the mutual attraction of Seichan and Gray. Her transformation over the last several novels from cold assassin to team member and even confidante has been subtle.  Will they or won’t they? Of that, my lips are sealed.

After reading The Devil Colony this, I listened to Map of Bones audio book while doing yard work and I am amazed by the way Rollins has intricately incorporated recurring themes through all of his novels almost as though he had all seven mapped out. The m-state white gold from Map of Bones is eerily similar to substances in The Devil Colony. There is also a reference by Raul of the Dragon Court to secret societies during the founding of the United States. Each time I revisit one of the earlier books I pick up more of the threads that have been so deftly woven  into The Devil Colony.

Do you need to read the previous books to enjoy The Devil Colony? No, but it will enhance your understanding and satisfaction. Just a note to the author, since when do books end with bombshells? Please don’t make us wait too long before the next Sigma adventure.  You can purchase Devil Colony here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Non-review of Rollins' "Devil Colony"

Okay, so I tried.

I tried to do something else this week.  I don't have a review of Devil Colony, because it hasn't come out yet (unless you're reading this after the 21st).  As of it's posting, there's still 2 days left until THE DAY.

So, rather than review another novel that is great, but not Rollins (sorry, other novel, I do love you, but...), I decided to just talk about how excited I am that Devil Colony is finally coming out.  And in case you missed the implication--I AM REALLY EXCITED THAT DEVIL COLONY IS FINALLY COMING OUT!

I read (and reviewed) The Skeleton Key.  I devoured the excerpt from Devil Colony that was included in the $.99 price tag.  I loved them both.  But at the end of the day, all they did was make things worse.  I have been on figurative pins and needles since then.

And so, by all rights I should be talking about some other novel here.  Instead, I'm raving about how awesome the excerpt was and how excited I am to read this stinkin' novel.

If there's any frustration on your side that I've done so, I apologize profusely.  But, since it's my blog, while I will beg your forgiveness, I'm gonna go ahead and wax poetic about Rollins some more.

If you're a Rollins fan already, you've probably already pre-ordered the book.  But on the off-chance that you're not, I really recommend that you do so, NOW.  Seriously.  Just the excerpt was enough to keep me up at night in anticipation.

So do yourself a favor and go get it here!

And, unless I miss my guess, I'm pretty sure that @mrneil98 will be reviewing Devil Colony for real next week.  If not, you know that I absolutely will in the week after that.

Happy reading!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"The Jefferson Key" by Steve Berry, reviewed by @mrneil98

Arrrrrr mateys. Hoist the sails and batten down the hatches, we’re settin’ sail. No need to check the URL. I promise that this isn’t a review of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. This is ThrillersRock and this week I am reviewing The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry. This pirate infused novel is well worth the price of admission unlike a certain movie. For those of you unfamiliar with Steve Berry, he is the best selling author of ten books, seven involving the adventures of Cotton Malone, a retired government agent from the Magellan-Billet who now operates an antique bookstore in Copenhagen. Of course retirement is never really what you expect.

In The Jefferson Key, Malone is mysteriously summoned by his former boss, Stephanie Nelle, to a hotel room for a meeting only to find a remote controlled automatic weapon aimed at the President’s caravan on the street below. And that’s just page 1. The plot involves present day descendants of pirates, who are continuing their family business (with some minor updates). These privateers were given a Letter of Marque by the Founding Fathers for their assistance in the Revolutionary War until Andrew Jackson tried to stop them and hid some important information. Malone and companion Cassiopeia Vitt must solve the puzzle and uncover the truth in order to save his former boss from the pirates.

For this novel, Steve Berry has kept the action in the United States (and Canada). This allows for a fascinating exploration into pirates and their utilization in the first 100+ years of America’s history. Berry is a master at weaving historical information into his storyline without losing momentum or becoming didactic. He takes great detail in describing many locations from the Jefferson Hotel to Monticello as well as the Jefferson code and cipher wheel.

I have read all ten of Berry’s books (the Cotton Malone series in order) and this one makes the top three. The element I most enjoyed from The Jefferson Key was the introduction of Jonathan Wyatt, a colleague of Malone who botched an assignment and was ousted from the force. He has vowed vengeance on Cotton and is not only a formidable opponent but also an interesting character. For those who want an introduction to Jonathan Wyatt, Berry released an e-book short story The Devil’s Gold as a precursor to Jefferson Key (and it’s only $.99), similar to his friend James Rollins’ The Skeleton Key (see last week’s post).

What is a summer without pirates? Is there any better reading material for bringing to the beach? As a “Malone Clone“, I strongly recommend The Jefferson Key and I would gladly walk the plank for a preview of the next installment Cotton Malone series.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"The Skeleton Key" by @JamesRollins

No, it's not Devil Colony.  That comes out on the 21st (not that I'm counting down the minutes, dagnabit).  And no, it's not available in any other version than as an e-book.

Don't let that scare you.  First off, if you're one of the unfortunates that think you need a Kindle or Nook to read e-books, let me reassure you.  If you have a computer (or even a smartphone) with internet access (which I would assume, since you're reading this), you can get apps that will allow you to read e-books in pretty much ANY format.

If you're like me and you just prefer the feel of a book in your hands, I'm going to tell you what I had to tell myself--get over it.  I still buy my favorite authors in hardback.  I buy books in used bookstores.  I frequent libraries.  I don't think that will ever change.  But I'm also opening myself up to new experiences and new authors (especially indie or self-published ones) that come only through e-books.

And this one is worth checking out.  It's only $.99, it's a short but great read filled with action (Rollins-style, so it has that veritas ring to it).  Plus it's got a lengthy excerpt from Devil Colony at the end.  Totally worth the buck I spent and then some.

So, if you're a thriller reader, you really have no excuse.  If you're not, this is a great place to start.  No long term commitment to a lengthy novel here.  Plus, you get to experiment with a new format that is doing for publishing what mp3 players did for music.

You can get The Skeleton Key here.  You can thank me below. :)