Books Read in 2014

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1. The Mayan Secrets (A Fargo Adventure) - Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry - Seems appropriate my first book of the year (this was true in 2012 and 2013 as well) is yet another Clive Cussler novel. This time a Fargo adventure with Sam and Remi getting into all kinds of trouble after finding a Mayan Codex in a shrine on the side of an erupting volcano while helping with earthquake disaster recovery. They remove the codex and  Mayan mummy from the shrine/cave because it might soon be covered with lava and lost forever. They bring the codex back to their newly rebuilt home in San Diego to have an expert examine it only to have it stolen by Sarah Allersby a young beautiful spoiled rich girl who wants it so she can exploit the hidden Mayan sites it tells of. Sam and Remi make it their mission to get the codex for the Mexican government who it rightly belongs to. A war breaks out between Allersby and the Fargos as she continually tries to have them killed and they continually try to foil her plans for fame and fortune. In the end Allersby is taken out by her own henchmen who she double crosses and the codex is returned to its rightful owner. This was a quick read of an entertaining story.
2. Zero Hour (A Kurt Austin Adventure) - Clive Cussler and Graham Brown - Kurt was on vacation attending a conference in Australia on underwater mining when during a break he sees a man in a boat being chased by a helicopter trying to kill him. By instinct Kurt defends the man and brings down the helicopter which subsequently crashes into the Sidney Opera House and the adventure begins. During this encounter Kurt meets a beautiful woman scientist, Hayley Anderson,  who tells Kurt about zero point energy a theory about extracting the free energy that surrounds us. She worked on a project with a scientist Maxmillian Thero, who was following in Tesla's footsteps on the extraction of and direction of energy. Thero started out with the hope of free energy for all but after numerous setbacks in his dangerous work and being seriously burned, ended up being ostracized by the Australians, Japanese and the Russians. This piece loving scientist is turned to the dark side and vowed revenge against those who he believes mistreated him. Kurt, Joe Zavala and NUMA get involved in the pursuit of Thero as he has threatened to use his newly controlled energy as a weapon to split the Australian continent in two. Kurt, Joe and Hayley are forced into service by Russian abductors to destroy Thero and his weapon when they located him on a volcanic island in the Pacific. Close call after close call ensue until finally the island is destroyed by a Russian atomic bomb and all information about zero point energy is lost forever. This was a quick read and fun as usual.
3. The Jungle (Oregon Files) - Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul - I was not so impressed with this story as it was more militaristic than most of Clive Cussler stories. It is a story about the Corporation and Juan Cabrillo being duped into recovering some ancient ruby like crystals from Burma that were first spoken about by Marco Polo when he saw them focus the Sun as a weapon during a siege. These crystals were essential to a mad scientist for creating a quantum computer that would bring all computers in the world under his control. This mad scientist had presented his list of demands to the President of the United States and arranged demonstration of his power in powering down part of the electricity grid and causing two trains to collide. In this story Juan was beaten up, broke his collar bone, stabbed, shot and water boarded but still managed to bring the bad guys to justice. In the end the bad guys lair was found in an old salt mine in France and the members of the corporation blew a hole in the cave that caused the mine to be flooded. During this, the mad scientist and his henchmen were killed and the crystals were recovered. The story is open ended in that the crystals in Juan's possession were not accounted for. Probably to allow a sequel to be written.
4. Mirage (Oregon Files) - Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul - Another story based in part on the secret work Nikola Tesla did for the US Navy before he died. There is actually a story within a story in this book. The longer term story involves an 8 year sting operation where the Corporation lays a trap for the people who supposedly stole one billion dollars of currency the US had brought to Iraq to help with the reconstruction. I remember hearing something about this on the news so there may be a thread of truth to this part of the story. Anyway clever work by Juan Cabrillo and the Corporation steals the money back from the thieves and gets the Corporation a huge bonus from the US government.  Mean while the Corporation breaks a scientist friend of Juan's out of a Chinese prison only to have him killed before the rescue was completed. Juan, in trying to get justice for his friend, stumbles upon a Russian with a secret weapon based on Tesla's work that can not only cloak a ship by bending light around it but can also project an intense magnetic field with enough strength to pull planes from the sky and capsize ships of any size. The Chinese purchase one of two ships having this weapon (the Corporation destroyed the other one) so they can defend themselves against the US as it tries to bring calm to the growing tension between China and Japan over disputed islands in the south China Sea where gas and oil had been found. China knowing that they could stop importing foreign oil if they gain control of the disputed islands needed to get the US out of the way without starting WW III. They wanted to use their stealth ship to deter the US without getting the blame. Unfortunate for the Chinese Cabrillo figures out two such Tesla equipped ships existed and moves the Oregon to intercept the second ship before it destroyed any US assets. Just as the Chinese were engaging the US forces, Juan crashes the Oregon through the force field around the invisible ship and destroys it thereby averting the start of a war. Because the capabilities of the Oregon ship were displayed to the US Navy, Langston Overholt (Juan's mentor at the CIA) had to make the Navy forget what they saw and pretend none of the events ever happened. This was a good book and a fast read. Better than the book above.
5. Vulcan's Forge - Jack Du Brul - Since I have read many books by Clive Cussler co-written by Jack Du Brul I thought I would try to read one of his novels to see how they stack up. I was pleasantly surprised with this, his first novel. His main character Philip Mercer is a geologists turned CIA agent is a combination of James Bond and Dirk Pitt. You gotta love that. In this story, a plot put in place 40 years ago by the Russians is finally coming to fruition. In the aftermath of the US atomic bomb test on the Bikini Islands a Russian scientist discovered a new element he named Bikinum that has the potential to change life on Earth as it could provide free, unlimited energy in addition to numerous other industrial uses. When it was determined that this element could only be produced when vanadium was subjected to the energy produced only by an atomic event, the Soviets filled a ship with vanadium, sunk it near Hawaii and detonated an atomic bomb over it. A side effect of this was the mantle of the Earth was disturbed causing a new volcano to begin forming that would eventually bring the Bikinium to the surface. Skip forward 40 years and the volcano laced with Bikinium is ready to breech the ocean's surface and being outside the 200 mile limit around Hawaii a land rush is getting ready to take place by Russians, Japanese, Koreans and Americans. An evil Japanese business man thinking he was controlling the situation causes unrest in Hawaii which he thinks will result in Hawaii seceding from the United States and becoming an independent country linked closely with Japan and controlling the Bikinium. The Russians double cross the Japanese and the Koreans double cross everyone.  In the end Mercer figures out this complex situation and guides the US government to victory.

This books had all of the action of Cliver Cussler novels along with the touch of science (far fetched as it was) that I like. I won't hesitate to read his other novels. Unfortunately our library doesn't have any others at the current time. Oh no, I may have to buy a book for a change.
6. Sphere - Michael Crichton - I've seen quite a few movies made from Michael Crichton's books but this is the first book of his I have read. From my recollection the movie Sphere  is very close to this book. In this story a group of scientists from different disciplines are brought together in the South Pacific to investigate what they were told was a plane crash. Turns out this was only a cover story for what the military believes is an alien spacecraft on the bottom of the ocean that has been there for at least 300 years. The scientist are brought down to a deep water (1000 ft) habitat on the ocean floor to investigate. What they find is an American spacecraft from the future containing the Sphere. When bad weather threatens the support ships on the surface they cut the umbilical to the habitat and run for cover while the scientists are stranded below. While isolated at the bottom of the ocean each member of the crew is mysteriously drawn to the Sphere and enter it. When they do they are given a power to manifest anything they can imagine, good or bad, though they don't realize they have this power at first. One by one the various manifestations kill off the crew except for three scientists who are desperately waiting for the support ships to return so they can escape. Eventually they are rescued and have to spend 96 hours in decompression to remove the helium they were breathing from their systems. Afraid of what they now understand about the power of the Sphere and their inability to control it they make a pact to forget the whole experience to save mankind. Because of the power given to them by the Sphere, when they forgot the experience, all records of what really happened are expunged and their powers are withdrawn. This is definitely a good story with lots of edginess/spookiness in it. I have other Crichton book from the library that I will read next.
7. The Terminal Man - Michael Crichton - I guess I'm on a Michael Crichton binge now since I've run out of Clive Cussler novels to read. Terminal Man is about Benson, a man who after being in a serious car wreck and sustaining a brain injury, becomes an extremely violent psychopath. Benson kills people but never recalls doing so. Even so he knows intuitively that he is very sick so he volunteers for an operation where surgeons place electrodes in his brain and a computer with atomic battery pack in his neck. The idea is to stop the seizures that cause him to kill by stimulating pleasure centers in his brain whenever a seizure is detected. Unfortunately this backfires and immediately after his new electronics are turned on Benson begins to cause his own seizures so he can experience the pleasure that results. He then escapes from the hospital and begins another killing spree until being killed by one of the people responsible for his treatment. This must of been one of Crichton's first books as I see his later style beginning to emerge. It was an OK story and a fast read but nothing extraordinary. Not something I would read again.
8. Next - Michael Crichton - This book reflects Crichton's fear of where gene manipulation and gene patenting are headed and it is scary indeed. Cell ownership is discussed and who can own whos' cells. Examples are cited where people with genetic diseases donate their cells to help find a cure for their condition only to find out the cure is too expensive for them to afford because the organization that used their cells patented them and solely control their use and distribution. Worse yet, no other companies can develop tests and/or therapies because the genetics are patented. Another example is quoted where a man thinks he is terminally ill because his doctors keep running tests on his blood and tissue only to find out his body produces a rare cancer fighting enzyme that the doctors sell for five million dollars.  The patient the genetic material was collected from got zip. Crichton points out that in the future the complete human genome will be owned and people who need tests for certain conditions or need some kind of genetic therapy will have to pay royalties for its use. This is another example of how greed and capitalism makes people blind to what they are doing.

This is a fictional story of a group of people all touched in one way or another by bio-genetics. At first you don't understand how these people relate to each other but it becomes clear at the end of the story. There is a transgenic ape called Dave and a transgenic parrot called Gerard. Where transgenic means that new genes (human or otherwise) are introduced into a species to obtain some effect. A real world example is adding a gene from a jelly fish to make pigs florescent.

This was an engaging read. Even though this was a hardcover book with small print, I breezed through it because of the compelling though scary story line. Onto the next Crichton book. I seem to be on a roll.
9. Time Line - Michael Crichton - Another excellent Crichton story that has been made into a movie and ,from what I recall about the movie, it is very close to the book. This story is about a company that is convinced that people will soon tire of (corporate controlled) entertainment (tv movies, shopping malls, etc) and will want instead to view raw, un-retouched history for their amusement. To this end they come up with a time machine that allows people to return to the past while at the same time they are rebuilding a French castle to be used as a tourist attraction in the present day. Unfortunately the time machine is not perfect and causes transcription errors (which build up and will eventually be fatal) every time a person is transported. An academic who is taking part in the castle reconstruction gets sent back to the castle in the 1300's and is immediately captured by the French and the English who are fighting over the castle. A group of scientists are put together and sent back to find the professor and bring him back but they are immediately ambushed and left stranded because the transport facility they must return to is damaged by an explosion. The majority of the story revolves around how they stay alive and finally gather everyone together to return to the present date. There are lots of sword fights and chases as they stay one step ahead of the French and English. In the end the transport facility is brought back online and all but one of the people left alive are returned to the present day.

This is a good story and the narrative is compelling. So much so that I read this relatively thick book very quickly. Now back to the library for more Crichton.
10. Eaters of the Dead - Michael Crichton - A good, partially true, story based upon the writing of a 10th century Arab scribe Ibn Fadlan who was sent by the Caliph of Baghdad as an emissary to the North. This book was later renamed the 13th Warrior and was made into a movie of the same name staring Antonio Banderas which we have seen. The first three chapters of the book are Fadlan's writing whereas the remainder of the book is Crichton's. In this story Ibn meets up with Vikings commanded by Beowulf (yes Beowulf) and is compelled to join them as the 13th warrior on a journey that takes them to the far North to assist a Viking king who is under siege by unknown assailants who devour the flesh of their conquests. Ibn is appalled by Viking customs - the free sexuality of their women, their disregard of cleanliness and the full time focus on battle and war. Ibn documents their travels to the far North and the people and cultures they come upon. When they reach their destination they are immediately thrown into battle with a group of primitive warrior beasts dressed as bears who only raid at night when the mists shroud the earth. They take continuous casualties as the beasts attack over and over until they decide to go on the offensive and kill the beast mother who directs their actions. Beowulf is seriously injured in the battle with the beast mother but still must fight a final battle. Beowulf dies in the final battle as does many of his remaining Vikings. By the end of this story Ibn is as much a warrior as the Vikings and lives to write about his adventures.

It is interesting that history has validated some of Ibn's writings with some of the settlements visited on this quest having been unearth by archaeologists and being as described in Ibn's journals. It is speculated that the beasts might have been an isolated group of Scandinavian Neanderthals that somehow had survived into the 10th century when the prevailing thought was they went extinct 30,000 years earlier. Which parts of this story are true and which are fiction was hard to discern. Overall, this was a compelling read that I could not put down. Score another for Crichton.
11. Micro - Michael Crichton and Richard Preston - Another good Crichton story. This is a story about a group of eight graduate students who. while looking for work outside academia, become involved with a CEO psychopath, Vin Drake,  who's only ambition is to make lots of money regardless of whom he has to walk over or kill. The students travel to Hawaii to interview with Nanigen, Drake's company and to find out any info they can about one of the student's brother who disappeared while working there. When it becomes apparent to Drake that the students know his involvement with the disappearance he uses Nanigen's technology to shrink them down to 1/2" in size using super conductive magnets. The story is about how the student who are let loose to fend for themselves in a hidden tropical valley near Waikiki are slowly killed off by natural processes. When one is 1/2" tall the natural world with all of the insects, birds, bats, rats, etc. is a dangerous place. They realize that Nature doesn't care one way or another about their survival and offers no mercy or second chances. In the end, two of the students survive and are returned to their normal size while Drake is killed by his own miniature robots. A fitting end for such a bad person. On to the next Crichton novel.
12. Pirate Latitudes - Michael Crichton - A non science fiction novel which Crichton wrote but never published. It was found in his files after his death. While I enjoy reading his science fiction stories more, this wasn't a bad story. The story takes place in the Caribbean in the middle 1600 when England and Spain were at war and were both exploiting the new world for treasure. In this story an English ship captain Hunter, is sent by the Governor of Port Royal on a privateer mission to raid a Spanish fort and liberate a treasure galleon anchored there. After numerous incidents including capture by the Spanish, Hunter uses his cunning to destroy the fort's defenses and capture the ship. As they flee they are followed and cornered by a Spanish war ship which they also destroy. Upon return to Port Royal, Hunter finds the Governor has been deposed and instead of being welcomed as a hero he is immediately thrown into jail and charged with being a pirate. His accusers all stand to profit from Hunter's death and therefore condemn him to hanging. He is broken out of jail by friends who know he was framed and he proceeds to kill everyone who condemned him. He restores the power of the previous Governor who absolves him of all offenses and he lives out his life in England as a fairly rich man.
13. State of Fear - Michael Crichton - In this story a group of environmentalists who are afraid they are loosing the global warming debate set out to create environmental disasters that occur during a conference they are putting on to drive their message home. A rich philanthropist who finds out his donations are being used for this purpose sets out to stop it by traveling all over the world to disrupt the evil plan after faking his own death. This was a compelling story that points out a lot of scientific data that contradicts global warming. You get the feeling that Crichton himself is not fully convinced. In an appendix Crichton presents his thoughts about stewardship of the environment and the terrible job most environmental organizations have done to protect it. He believes large well established environmental organizations are just like all large companies everywhere where protection of the bureaucracy is more important than the work they are supposed to be doing. He then presents a huge bibliography of scientific papers and books he used for book research many of which contradict current global warming research. If nothing else this book made me think about what I perceive to be facts about global warming that may in fact not be.
14. The Lost World - Michael Crichton - The follow on to Jurassic Park. We have this movie as well and the movie is very close to the book. Two groups of scientists (the good guys and the bad guys) go to an island off the coast of Costa Rica where there have been reports of large lizard  like animals dead on the beach. Both groups are aware of Ingen's failure but they were unaware that Ingen had a site B on another island. The bad guys are not interested in the science but go to the island to steal dinosaur eggs for some nefarious purpose while the good guys are there to study the dinosaurs to try and determine what caused their extinction. Needless to say the humans vastly under estimate the intelligence of the dinosaurs and run into trouble at every turn. The high tech vehicles they take to the island for their protection and comfort are ripped apart and all of the bad guys are killed but most of the good guys survive. Another twist to the story is that two smart children stowaway in the high tech trailer and travel to the island in secret. In the end the children are pivotal to the survival of the good guys and make it off the island alive. I knew the story from the movie before I read this book but it was still exciting to read.
15. Letters From Yellowstone - Jim Carrier - Jim Carrier is/was a reporter from the Denver Post who was sent to Yellowstone National Park for a third of a year to find out what "Yellowstone means to us" as a people. He did his research by talking to as many people as he could and then writing letters back to the Post which were published weekly. These letters detailed the conversations he had with people of all stripes and the thoughts and impressions he gained from them. As his stay in the park lengthened, he became aware of the power the park has over people and became convinced that wilderness was something everyone needs whether they realize it or not. He went on to talk about the conflicts in the park service and between each of the gateway cities (Cody, Wyo being one of them) on how best to run the park, keep the farmers and ranchers surrounding the park happy, save the animals and wilderness all while maximizing profits. He talked a lot about companies trying to encroach on Yellowstone to drill for oil, mine gold, extract geothermal energy or build dams for electricity. Overall Carrier had a positive outlook and thought despite the in fighting, the park would be protected for future generations. I sure hope so as Yellowstone has always been my favorite National Park and is like no where else on this Earth.
16. The Omega Project - Steve Alten - This is a new author for me and I very much like what I read. This is a big story about dystopian society after the Earth runs out of oil/energy.  Professor Eisenbraun  survives the crumbling of society using his brain and technology to provide for himself after his family is killed by a mob of neighbors in search of food. While in search of food he meets and falls in love with Andria who had been on her own since 15. They struggle together while society starts to reform and when it does they are become engaged in a search for He-3 which can be used for fusion energy generation. The plot is huge taking them to Antarctica for testing of a space craft to be sent to Europia to mine He-3, then to Earth 12 million years in the future where the AI computer program designed by the Eisenbraum has become a god who is experimenting with generic engineering using the only remaining humans. The plot is very hard to explain with plot twists coming over and over until and including on the last page of the book. I like Alten's writing style and am going to search out his other books.
17. Goliath - Steve Alten - My second Alten novel. While not as good as the one above this was still an exciting thriller. This story also has a super computer (based on DNA) that mutates as a result of a lightning strike and thinks it has become god. This computer is contained in Goliath, an advanced Navy submarine shaped like a stingray, hijacked by Simon Covah who thinks he is in control until the computer takes over and kills him. Before his death Covah uses the Goliath to seize Trident nuclear missiles from American subs he captures and destroys. He then gives the world an ultimatum to unilaterally disarm or he will let the nukes fly. As expected the world hesitates so Covah destroys some military targets to show his seriousness. Covah's first officer decides Covah is not aggressive enough so he takes command, has Covah killed by the computer and destroys Beijing with nukes. Luckily for the world two Army people are on board Goliath (they were captured while trying to recapture the submarine) and they finally cripple the sub and force it into the path of American attack subs which blows it apart.
18. The Tower - Simon Toyne - Heather picked this book for me because she thought it was one I might like; she was right. Turns out this is the third and final book of the Sanctus trilogy. This book is full of mystery, intrigue and the miraculous. In this book a group of religious zealots believe the end of days is approaching and it is because science has overstepped it bounds by looking at space and trying to find heaven using the Hubble Space Telescope. The zealots, believing they are doing Gods work, start killing the scientists they feel responsible. Mysteriously the Hubble Space Telescope changes its orbit and turns from facing the heavens to facing the Earth and the James Web Space Telescope (Hubble's replacement) is blown up at a test facility at Marshall Space Flight Center. At the same time a plague breaks out at a mountain top monastery in Turkey and begins killing everyone who catches it. Finally, everyone on Earth has a sudden urge to go home which causes mass chaos because people stop producing food, generating electricity, etc. All these facts reinforce the idea that the end of days is coming as all of this had been foretold in a prophecy found carved into a ancient stone (This must have been written about in the previous books of the trilogy). A rookie FBI agent and former astrophysicist is assigned to the case to solve the murders and ends up cracking the case. He also finds out he has a daughter from a woman he had lost years before. It turns out the Hubble scientists who were the targets of the zealots had just discovered that the universe had stopped expanding and had started contracting and since everything and everybody is made from stardust this was what was causing everyone to reverse course and go home. A rather far fetched but well written story. Anyway, Toyne seems to be a good writer so I will see if I can find the other books in this series.
19. Sanctus - Simon Toyne - This is the first book in the trilogy and a good read. The writing style and historical plot remind me a lot of Dan Brown whom I've always liked. Like the third book above, this story is stand alone but has ties with the continuing story. In this book a green monk of the highest order at the Citadel in Ruin Turkey (a fictional town and religious site) climbs the previously thought unclimbable cliff walls of the Citadel and posses for a long while like a cross (the Tau) and when he has the attention of the cities inhabitance and the world he jumps off the 1000 foot cliff to his death. In a postmortem they find five apple seeds carved with cryptic symbols and a rolled up piece of leather in the monks stomach with a phone number of someone who turns out to be the monks identical twin except a female (which is considered a miracle). Besides the ancient order of the monks of the Citadel there is another ancient order called the Mala who have been battling the monks since before the time of Christ. The Mala contend the monks stoled an ancient relic, the Sacrament, from them and have been keeping it from humanity ever since by whatever means necessary. The Sacrament has an affect of the people in close proximity in they they live very long lives (100s of years) and it also causes plants to grow in abundance where no plant should grow. The sister Liv is an American reporter who is contacted about her brothers death and immediately travels to Turkey to see her brother's body. Liv thought her brother had died 8 years earlier and was surprised to find out he had still been alive and had been a monk in Ruin. The story rages around the attempts of the monks order to kill everyone associated with this incident so they can go back to their peaceful existence inside the mountain that is the Citadel and keep the dark secret of the Sacrament secure. Turns out the Sacrament is Eve of Adam and Eve fame who has been held by this ancient order for eternity. This is a hard story to explain but it was a good read that leads right into the Key the second book of the trilogy which I will read next. The Key is Liv.
20. The Key - Simon Toyne - The second book of the Sanctus trilogy. Yes I read them in absolutely the wrong order: book3 then book1 and finally this book, book2. The focus of this book was the Citadel's continued attempts to kill Liv to keep her quite even though they know the Sacrament (Eve from the garden of eden) is contained inside her. Liv and Gabriel find each other then loose each other over and over throughout this story. In the Citadel the Garden which has sustained the monks for thousands of years starts to die off from some kind of blight and the monk start to get terminally ill from an unknown disease who's first sign is the intense smell of oranges. In the end Liv and Gabriel follow the star map to Eden and in the nick of time fullfil the prophesy that prevents the end of times from occurring. As a stand alone story this isn't as good as the first or third books but it does knit the trilogy together. I will seek out other Toyne books if he has any.
21. The Martian - Andy Weir - This was a very good book for me being an engineer and space nerd. Another great find by Heather. It is a story of an astronaut left on Mars for dead after a wind storm partially destroyed the Martian habitat a group of astronaut/scientists were to live in for a long duration stay. In attempting to abort their mission and get back to their ascender spacecraft for escape, Mark Watney (mission mechanical engineer and botanist) was impelled by a pipe blown by the storm and was carried off. The pipe punctured his suit and his body destroying the suits telemetry system. All of the other astronauts made it to the escape vehicle and assumed, since Marks life signs were flat, that he was dead.  They blasted off and rendezvoused with the orbiter and headed back to Earth.  Mark wasn't dead after all but was seriously hurt. The blood from the wound coagulated around the hole in his space suit thus sealing it from leaking O2. When he later came to, he discovered he had been left behind with no possibility of a rescue since the communication equipment in their habitat had been seriously damaged and he had no way to communicate. What made this book very interesting is the credible and ingenious solutions to the problems Mark faced being alone on Mars; from food to water to energy. The book is written as a log of Mark's day to day activity. Mark uses the rover left behind to find the Pathfinder spacecraft and uses parts from it to establish communication with JPL. On Earth there is a massive effort to formulate a seemingly impossible rescue. In the end the astronauts who left Mark behind do a flyby of Earth and are resupplied and turn their space ship around and head back to Mars for daring rescue. The narrative is so well written it seemed real. In the end Mark is rescued after a year and a half stay on Mars and I could finally breath a sigh of relief. Like I said, a very good book.
22. The Atlantis Gene - A.G. Riddle - Another first novel by an author. This book was recommended to me by my friend Dennis. This is the first book in a trilogy. This is a rather convoluted story about the Immari, a group of people who have discovered a series of Atlantian cities around the world. The Immari believe the Atlantian's are coming out of a long stasis and will exterminate the human race when they do. Over hundreds of year the Immari have become a world wide leader in the security field all the while excavating Atlantian cities in Gibraltar and Antarctica. When they finally reach the huge city buried under two miles of ice in Antarctica they attempt to use atomic bombs to blow it up to kill the Atlantian citizens in stasis there. Their plot is foiled by decendents of the original explorers who have the Atlantis Gene and have been kept alive in Atlantian settlements. It took me reading about 95% of this story to even have a hint of what was going on. At its conclusion this book ties all of the pieces of the puzzle together very quickly. Though not the best book I've read recently, I will try and seek out the next book in this trilogy to see where the story goes.
23. Ghost Ship - Clive Cussler with Graham Brown - Another Kurt Austin adventure - In this novel Kurt is hurt trying to save a friend on a sinking ship and during his recovery has conflicted memories of the event. He thinks his lady friend drowned but clues keep popping up that she is still alive and is being forced to work for an evil, criminal family planting viruses on banking computers. The family wants to fake their deaths and disappear with the huge sum of money they are planning to steal from the federal reserve. With the help of Joe Zavala his long time friend Kurt takes on the evil family to find his friend. In the mean time a mystery/ghost ship is discovered by the Fargo's that disappeared over a 100 years ago without a trace. As the story unfolds we find out that the ghost ship was used by the ancestors of the evil family to escape their crimes and disappear the first time. In the end Kurt and the US Marines attack the evil fortress on the island of Madagascar rescuing the friend and other prisoners and putting an end to the evil plot. This was a typical Cussler story that is hard to put down once started.
24. The Atlantis Plague - A.G. Riddle - The second book of the origin mystery trilogy. In this book the Atlantis plague is set loose on the world and it changes the human race. Most people die immediately, some revert to more primitive beings and some become immune and are changed forever. Two factions of people exist. The Immaru who think this is the worst plague ever and want to stop it and the Immari that welcome the results as cleansing the world and causing the next great evolution of the human race. Two factions of Atlantians also exist. Those that are helping to find a cure for the plague and those who want to turn the newly evolved humans into an army to fight the enemy who crushed their Atlantian civilization in a mere 24 hours. The stories protagonists', Kate and David, have the immunity but who are trying to find the cure to save what is left of the human race and Dorian, Shaw and company who want to enslave the human race as their personal army. The story is one large chase scene with Kate being captured and rescued numerous times throughout the story as she is the key to the cure. This is an OK series and I've reserved the last book of this trilogy at the library. Unlike many trilogies I have read this is one of the more forgettable ones however.
25. The Atlantis World - A.G. Riddle - The third and final book of the origin mystery trilogy. I assumed this book was suppose to tie all of the books together but I found it to be a rambling story which I had a hard time even making sense of. I'm glad I am done reading it. In the end David and Kate find each other and live happily ever after. It is interesting that in the prologue written by the author he thinks he hit a home run with this book. I think he grounded out.
26. The Eye of Heaven - Clive Cussler and Russell Blake - A Fargo Adventure - In this story Remi and Sam find a Viking ship frozen in ice that is filled with items from pre Columbian Central America. No one had thought that the Vikings had traveled that far south so this discovery was ground breaking. In their research they start to believe that Quetzalcoatl the serpent leader of the Toltecs was in fact a Viking. They travel to Mexico to try and find evidence and are confronted by evil men who want any treasure they find. They discover site after site in their pursuit of the treasure of Quetzalcoatl with the bad guys just one step behind. In the end they find the emerald referred to in legend as the Eye of Heaven but of course they turn it over to the Mexican people. I have to say that I didn't feel this book/story was as engaging as other Fargo mysteries I have read. Maybe it is because Russell Blake wrote more of this story than Clive. Just a guess.
27. Mind Wide Open - Steven Johnson - Johnson is the host of the PBS show "How We Got To Now" which is how we found out about him. This book discusses modern concepts of brain/mind in an easy to read format. He attempts to understand how his own mind works by consulting experts in the field who use state of the art equipment (biofeedback, fMRI, PET scans) on him. Although rather wordy, Johnson clearly explains various aspects of consciousness and unconsciousness, brain chemistry and how the various modules in our brains are working simultaneously with sometimes conflicting intentions. He sums up by comparing Freud's writing to current neuroscience. Reading this book makes one think about what is going on in our heads and in the heads of people we interact with. I may seek out another of his books to read as Heather and I really like the TV program.
28. Fractal Time - Gregg Braden - A new agey kind of book that claims periodic cycles in time can be used to predict when conditions that resulted in some seed event are bound to be repeated. As an example, the author's calculations say that the events of Pearl Harbor were the seed event that led directly to 9/11. It also predicted an intermediate date before 9/11 that had the same conditions (surprise attack) but didn't result in a horrible event taking place. The author claims that on this intermediate date the Soviets shot down a Korean airliner and were convinced that the US was going to retaliate so the Soviets almost launched a preemptive nuclear strike against us, but didn't.

It is interesting that the golden mean or phi (0.618) figures prominently into his algorithm. This is the same ratio that is repeated in the human body over and over and is also used in product design because the results are pleasing to the eye.

This book was written prior to the end of the Mayan calendar (December 2012) which he says marks the end of one cycle and the start of another. He talks at length about two large time cycles of 5125 years and 27,000 years which are both ending in Dec 2012. The 5125 year cycle is from the Mayans and the 27,000 year cycle is when the Earth and our solar system are closest to the galactic equator. He also states that catastrophe usually accompanies the end of these long cycles but that it is also a time when positive energies can be used to break the negative, damaging cycles. I don't know if I believe any of this but it is a somewhat interesting hypothesis never the less.
29. The End - Laura Barcella - This was a rather fun book about books, movies, plays, songs, etc. that deal with apocalypse. The funny thing is that I had some knowledge about almost all of the 50 apocalyptic visions discussed in the book. The author used a standard format for each description including a paragraph on whether the threat posed by the vision has any possibility of actually happening. Lucky for us most of the apocalyptic visions had little basis in reality. No zombies are not likely to take over the Earth. A fun but rather silly read.
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