Books Read in 2017


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1. Sand Storm - James Rollins - This was a good story that combined anti-matter and ancient and modern times. It starts with an earthquake in the middle east that just about levels an historical site but that also opens up an unknown room where an ancient book had once been stored. This book was supposedly the gospel of Jesus. Then in London, at the British Museum, a strange explosion occurs that has the ear marking of an matter/anti matter explosion. This fact brings in Sigma to investigate specifically Painter Crowe and his beautiful assistant, Coral Novak. When an ancient artifact exposed in the explosion points the way toward Ubar, the legendary “Atlantis of the Sands”. Painter travels across the world in search of the lost city and a destructive power beyond imagining in an attempt to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Unfortunately Painter has competition. A band of ruthless mercenaries, led by a former friend and ally Cassandra, are also intent on claiming the prize, and they will destroy anyone who gets in their way. Ancient history collides with cutting-edge science with the safety of the world at stake! The description of Ubar is especially vivid. A city underground made of sand stone and glass. This was a good story that I could see myself reading again at some point.
2. The Hunt For Atlantis - Andy McDermott - This was the first book from a new author and I really enjoyed it. McDermott is like a clone of James Rollins who I also really like. The story unfolds as a graduate student is trying to pursue her degree by speculating on where Atlantis might be located. Her adviser rejects her proposal saying Atlantis is just a legend and that she should find something else for her dissertation. In steps an ultra rich Norwegian who offers to finance an expedition to see if she is correct about the location. So off to Brazil they go after following various leads and they find an unknown tribe of natives that are protecting a copy of Atlantis where the Atlantians went after their island off the coast of Portugal collapsed into the sea. They soon find an enemy (which happens to be an ancient society called the Brotherhood) who is trying to erase all traces of the civilization because they consider Atlantians evil. Of course a battle occurs which results in the underground city being totally destroyed. From clues they found prior to the city's destruction they determine the location of the original Atlantis so off they go again. As they are researching the sunken city, they are again attacked by the Brotherhood and their research vessel is sunk in an attempt to destroy all traces of the ancient city. To save the crew of the research vessel from being murdered, the graduate student, Nina Wilde,  offers up herself and leads the Brotherhood to the last remaining Atlantian city in Nepal. Her bodyguard and protector ex-SAS Eddie Chase sets out to rescue her at the final Atlantian site. Come to find out the rich Norwegian backer finds out that about 15% of the people distributed across the Earth have Atlantian genes so he bio-engineers a virus that will kill everyone without this gene so that descendants of the Atlantians can once again rule the Earth like they did in antiquity. Nina is placed on a jumbo jet carrying the virus and will be killed if she doesn't agree to join their cause. Chase get on board and of course messes up their plans and ends up getting the jet to crash into the Norwegian's labratory. In the end the plot is destroyed along with the Norwegian and his lab. This was a good read because the plot twist of having the Norwegian be the bad guy was not revealed until the last minute. I've already download the next McDermott book and an looking forward to another good story.
3. The Tomb of Hercules - Andy McDermott - Another adventure in which Eddie Chase and Dr. Nina Wilde find themselves in mortal danger while trying to find the legendary tomb of Hercules. Dr. Wilde was prohibited from claiming the discovery of Atlantis so she was dead set on finding another ancient marvel that she could discover and confirm her place in the world of archeology. The adventure starts off with Eddie going to Singapore to rescue his ex-wife Sophia. Little did he know that the rescue was all a part of a plan that Lady Sophia Blackwell was hatching to not only get back at (and kill) Eddie but also to kill her other two husbands (both in one week) so that she could take over their vast empires. Her plan was to smuggle a nuke on board a ship heading to New York harbor so she could blow it up and crush the world's financial markets with the chaos that would ensue. Her riches would be protected because of the massive amounts of gold and jewels found in Hercules tomb in Africa. Sophia tries to kill Eddie and Nina over and over again as they got progressively closer to thwarting her plan. In the end of course they destroy Sophia's support system and finally bring her to justice as well. They also find that they still love each other and mend their relationship that was strained by the politics of their jobs. This was a decent read but nothing great. Still, I'll go and find another McDermott novel to read while I'm at it.
4. Return To Atlantis - Andy McDermott - More of the same with this story. Eddie and Nina are chased relentlessly by Sophia (Eddie's evil ex-wife) and Stikes who was Eddie's arch nemesis. This time a collection of three statues made from a meteorite were discovered in three separate Atlantis locations across the world and when brought back together they exude a strange earth energy that only a few humans can tap and control; with Nina (she has Atlantian blood in her family) being one of them. Two groups of people are trying to  use this power, one for good and one for evil. The group trying to use this power for good (and who were quickly dispatched) wants to generate unlimited energy for the world. The other group (the bad guys) think the original human DNA was brought to earth on this meteorite and think they can use the original DNA to make a virus that will cause all humans to become docile and follow their orders. Possession of the three statues changes hands multiple times as each side tries to take control for their cause. At the end of the story Eddie and Nina locate the skystone from which the other statues were made in a volcano in Africa. They attempt to destroy the skystone so the bad guys cannot accomplish their goal but in the process almost get themselves killed as the volcano in which the skystone resides erupts because of the concentration of earth energy and Nina's presence. In the end Eddie and Nina narrowly make it out alive but Stikes falls into the lava lake and Sophia dies when the parachute she dives out of a helicopter with catches fire and causes her to fall to a fiery and well deserved death.
5. The Obsidian Chamber - Preston & Childs - I hadn't read a P & C book for a while so I thought I would check this one out. This was like going to a family reunion in that all of the characters from his other books were present in this story. The last P & C book I read had Pendergast swept out to sea with the assumption he was dead but I knew better. I knew he would come back to fight crime with the FBI again. This story mostly centers around Diogenes (Pendergast's evil bother) and his attempt to woo Constance Green who he previously used, got pregnant and then tossed aside. As a result she tried to kill him by pushing him into the volcano on Stromboli island near Italy but that didn't stick either. With Pendergast presumed dead, Diogenes goes to the Riverside Drive mansion and slowly makes his presence known the Constance. Previously he hatched a plot to convince Proctor (Perdergast's butler, driver and body guard) that he had kidnapped Constance so Proctor would travel across the world to try and get her back. Diogenes finally convinces Constance that he was a changed man and tells her he is deeply in love with her and wants her to live with him on his private island. Meanwhile, Pendergast is picked out of the ocean by drug smugglers who, when they find out he is an FBI agent, try to ransom him. Pendergast of course breaks his bondage and kills all of his captors. He quickly heads back to Riverside Drive only to find Proctor and Constance both missing so he has to puzzle out why. In the end Diogenes is tracked to his island hideaway and Pendergast rescues Constance but lets his brother go to wallow in his loneliness and shame. This was a good read and I read the book faster than I have read many other books recently.
6. The Third Gate - Lincoln Childs - I have read many Preston and Childs books and many Preston books so I thought it was time to read a Childs book. I have to say I think this was a very good book that kept me in suspense the whole time. It is a story about a treasure hunter that has found the tomb of what he believes is the first ruler of united Egypt. The tomb is found in the Sudd which is a huge swampy area in Sudan near the source of the Nile. The treasure hunter is under extreme time pressure as the area is situated in what is to become a new reservoir and will soon be flooded. The dig has been kept secret from the Egyptian authorities because of the red tape that would slow things down. They find the tomb under about 40 feet of stinking mud in the Sudd and have built a large excavation facility over the top of it. The doctor on this dig has a research facility for NDE or near death experiences since his wife was clinically dead for 14 minutes and he brought her back (minus her soul come to find out). She was brought to the dig because she seemed to be in contact with a spirit of the dead pharaoh who keeps warning people to stay away. Strange things keep happening at the facility with many people getting hurt or killed and it is attributed to the curse on the site. Knowing the risk of opening the tomb they proceed anyway and find lots of treasure that they came for. Unbeknownst to the treasure hunters the wife is taken over by the mummy in the tomb (who happens not to be who they thought it was: a woman instead of a man) and proceeds to blow up the facility to punish the infidels. It then become apparent that the problems the facility had been experiencing was caused by her and some other unscrupulous archaeologists. Like I said I liked this story alot because of the suspense so I will get another Child's book from the library and see if it is as good. I hope so because it gives me another author to read.
7. Deep Storm - Lincoln Childs - Wow another good book by Childs. In this story a Navy research facility is positioned over an anomaly in the Atlantic ocean that some think might be the remains of Atlantis. This amazing facility is over 12 stories tall and is a city unto itself even though it is located under 2000 feet of ocean. The facility is divided into two levels: the non-classified and the classified levels. Something however is amiss because many of the personnel are becoming sick with unexplained aliments. A specialist name Dr. Crane is brought to the facility to investigate but everything he looks at as a cause is negative. All the while the security of the facility keeps getting more intrusive and soon the scientists are being watched by an elite security force. As the ailments gets worse Dr. Crane is given a clearance so he can continue his investigation in the secure portions of the site. He soon finds that the story of Atlantis was bogus and that the military was actually digging down to the MOHO layer in the Earth's crust because they have found what they believe is alien technology embedded in the ocean floor. As they get close to the boundry, Dr. Crane discovers the reason for the ailments in that peoples brain waves are being manipulated by the alien technology in an attempt to keep people away from this area. Dr. Crane comes to the conclusion that these are warning signs and that the drilling should immediately stop. As things get progressively worse the head of the elite security squad takes over command cause he believes that the alien technology could be used for weapons and so wants to secure it for the USA before some other country finds out. So in the final phase of drilling he descends into the drilled tunnel and finds an alien storage for weapons of unimaginable power built from matter and anti-mater black holes that have been stored there for possible later retrieval. He makes the mistake of trying to touch one of the weapons with a robotic arm which sets off a major explosion that completely destroys the facility. Luckily Dr. Crane has gotten most of the personnel to the escape pod and ascending to the surface when the explosion goes off.

This again was a riveting story and so I am off again to the digital library to find another Childs novel for my next read.
8. Lethal Velocity - Lincoln Childs - This was a different story in that it wasn't directly related to science like most of Childs' other novels. Instead the story is about a terrorist plot against a state of the art amusement park called Utopia that is situated outside of Las Vegas. Utopia is run by an AI network that controls just about everything in the park. When some of the attractions start having issues the designer of the AI network is called in to shut the network down until the problems can be found and fixed. The unexpected arrival of the expert causes the terrorist's plans to have to be accelerated. Their plan was to hold the park hostage until they are given the advanced technology that makes the park run and until they can steal all of the money that normally gets transported from the park in an armored car. The AI expert becomes the unintentional hero as he counters the terrorist every move once he understands what is going on. Of course the bad guys just about pull this off but are stopped when the AI expert attacks the armored car with fireworks used for the nightly displays.

This wasn't Childs' best book I don't think but it was somewhat entertaining anyway.
9. Seventh Plague - James Rollins - A new Rollins novel that brings together Stanley and Livingstone, Mark Twain, Nikola Tesla and the Sigma Force team to fight a deadly plague that is spreading across the world. The premise, if the biblical plagues of Egypt truly happened could they happen again–on a global scale?

Two years after vanishing into the Sudanese desert, the leader of a British archaeological expedition, Professor Harold McCabe, comes stumbling out of the sands, frantic and delirious, but he dies before he can tell his story. The mystery deepens when an autopsy uncovers a bizarre corruption: someone had begun to mummify the professor’s body–while he was still alive. His strange remains are returned to London for further study, when alarming news arrives from Egypt. The medical team who had performed the man’s autopsy has fallen ill with an unknown disease, one that is quickly spreading throughout Cairo. Fearing the worst, a colleague of the professor reaches out to a longtime friend Painter Crowe, the director of Sigma Force. The call is urgent, for Professor McCabe had vanished into the desert while searching for proof of the ten plagues of Moses. Before Director Crowe can investigate, a mysterious group of assassins leaves behind a fiery wake of destruction and death, erasing all evidence. With the professor’s body incinerated, his home firebombed, Sigma Force must turn to the archaeologist’s daughter, Jane McCabe, for help. While sifting through what’s left of her father’s work, she discovers a puzzling connection, tying the current threat to a shocking historical mystery, one involving the travels of Mark Twain, the genius of Nikola Tesla, and the adventures of famous explorer, Henry Morgan Stanley.

To unravel a secret going back millennia, Director Crowe and Commander Gray Pierce travel to opposite ends of the globe. One will search for the truth, traveling from the plague-ridden streets of Cairo to a vast ancient tomb buried under the burning sands of the Sudan; the other will struggle to stop a mad genius locked within a remote Arctic engineering complex, risking the lives of all those he holds dear. Of course there are evil forces at work in both places trying to kill the Sigma Force teams to capitalize on the plague for both monetary and scientific purposes. In the end they find that the cure for the plague is actually in the brain matter of people who have died from the plague but had been partially mummified using the bark from an obscure African plum tree.

This was an OK read but not one of Rollins' best works IMHO.
10. Innocent Blood - James Rollins with Rebecca Cantrell - This is a follow on to their book Blood Gospel which I read last year. Many of the original characters are back including: Sergeant Jordan Stone, a military forensic expert; Father Rhun Korza, a Vatican priest; and Dr. Erin Granger, a brilliant archaeologist. In Blood Gospel a young boy with cancer is mysteriously cured during an earthquake at Masada Israel while his parents and many other are killed. Little did anyone know the boy became an angel at that time and a key player in the battle to prevent Armageddon. The evil in this story is Judas Iscariot who betrayed Christ and was made immortal so that he could bring about the second coming of Christ at the proper time. Stone, Korza and Erin form a powerful triad that with the help of the cured boy angel has the power to save the world from the chaos. Battles for the end of the world are faught between strigoi (unredeemed vampires) and Sanguines (vampires who have pledged allegiance to Christ). In the end the boy angel sacrifices himself so that evil can be destroyed.

This book started slowly but the tension rose and kept my interest until the end. Now onto the next book in the Sanguines series.
11. Physics of the Impossible - Michio Kaku - I hadn't read any of Kaku's books in a while so I thought I would check this one out. It has an interesting format in that he takes topics from science fiction (Star Trek and Star Wars mainly), examines the physics involved and then classifies them as to how impossible they would be to implement. He talks about four levels of impossible and our science and technology is current at level 1. None of topics he discusses are possible with our level 1 sophistication but a level 4 civilization might be able to utilize many of them. Topics include: force fields, invisibility, phasers and death stars, tele-portation, telepathy, psychokinesis, robots, extraterrestrials and UFOs, star ships, antimatter and anti-universes, faster than light, time travel, parallel universes, perpetual motion machines and precognition. This book is somewhat dated (he talks about the building of the upcoming space station) but interesting never the less. His discussion is targeted towards non-physicists science (fiction) buffs and he never goes deeper than a surface discussion.  I think I will try to read a modern Kaku book to see how his discussions have changed.
12. Physics of the Future - Michio Kaku - This ,I believe, is Kaku's most recent book. This book has a lot of the same content as the book above but does make an interesting proposition about how to classify civilizations as to their energy usage and therefore their ability to control their environment. He talks about Type 0, 1, 2 and 3 classification with each type consuming a logarithmically increasing amount of energy. He pegs our society at 0.7 and he also said this is the most dangerous place to be because we still may parish (annihilate ourselves) before getting to Type 1. Type 3 societies, as an example, have to power to manipulate energy at the galactic level. He talks mainly about technological advances between now and 2100. He talked a lot about semiconductors, fusion, nano technology, superconductors and their effect on our lives in the future. This book was written around 2011 so some of the things he has proposed for the future already are happening. An interesting area of discussion was with assembling anything an atom at a time. In other words, in the future Star Trek like replicators may be possible where raw materials go in one end and whatever we desire comes out the other. He also talks about living much longer because diseases will be detected by things like our toothbrush and replacement organs will be grown to replace ours that fail. One cool invention he talked about was a smart contact lens connected to the Internet that could connect us to the world with the need for any other smart devices. Reading this book convinced me that Kaku is very well read and has the ear of many of the physicists on the leading edge of technology. He firmly believes that science not religion will lead us into the future and I agree.
13.  Blood Infernal - James Rollins with Rebecca Cantrell - A follow on to Innocent Blood. The crack that opened in the previous book as not completely sealed so evil kept flowing into the world. Because of this the strigoli are getting bolder, stronger and faster so the chosen triad, Stone, Korza and Erin must used the Blood Gospel to close the crack before Lucifer himself is released from hell and the Earth is cleansed of human for all time. They travel all over the world in search of clues to Lucifer's chalice and to find three stones that are needed to defeat evil in the epic battle ahead. The final stone is eventually found in Shambala valley in Nepal where the final battle occurs.  With the three stones placed into the three chalices the battle begins but the green stone is destroyed by Legion (a very bad spirit that can control anyone he touched) so evil escapes into the world. Erin is mortally wounded so Rhun Korza turns her into a strigoli to save her life and to allow her to enter the battle with the Blood Gospel and turn Lucifer from a black to a white angel. The jest of the story is that Lucifer who was the snake in the garden o Eden was double crossed by Eve and was never given the knowledge he was promised and therefore knew nothing but evil. When given the gospel by Erin, he now understands good vs. evil and chooses good. He calls back all of the evil that escaped into the world and goes back into the crack at the bottom of the lake and seals it for all time. Before he does, however, he turns Erin back into a human for saving hime. There was only a small hint at a follow on book in that Stone and Erin get married and she was pregnant when the battle occurred so they are not sure if their child will be angelic or not. We shall see.
14. Black Order - James Rollins - A Sigma story involving quantum mechanics and its part in the creation of life and in evolution. Sigma is called to the Himalayas to investigate a mysterious disease that is killing monks and driving villagers mad and while there Painter Crowe is exposed as well and starts to suffer from the same issues. At the same time in Copenhagen an auction is held with the most important item being a family bible of Darwin but everyone who comes into contact with the bible gets killed. Come to find out the bible has some secret runes inscribed in it that supposedly will unlock the secrets of a German weapon from WWII which were used in the eugenics experiments. Sigma follows the clues around the world and discover a bell shaped device that influences evolution at the quantum level and that is what killed the monks and what infected Crowe. The Germans were trying to use it to create the master race at the end of the war and evil people have been experimenting with it ever since. The story ends up in South Africa where an obscenely wealthy but evil family is using the bell to merge human traits with other creatures with the intent to take over the world and rid it of humans, except for them of course. Sigma along with local Zulu's team up to infiltrate the family's compound and re-expose Crowe to the power of the bell and he of course is cured. In the end the family and their compound is completely destroyed and all traces of the bell with it. 
15. The Devil's Gold - Steve Berry - A short story about Hitler, Bormann and Eva Braun and what happened to them at the end of WWII contrary of course to the understood history. In this narrative Bormann and Eva Braun escaped from Germany using a rather clever ruse. Wyatt, a disgraced British agent, is chasing another agent, Combs, who double crossed him and got him dismissed from service across South America with the intent to kill him when the time is right. What Wyatt didn't know is that Combs was in Chile searching for Nazi treasure smuggled out of Germany at the end of the war. So as Wyatt is closing in on Combs he unknowingly gets closer and closer to the treasure which is finally found in the possession of the son of Hitler and Eva Braun who is tired of life. The son has been in hiding so as not to stoke Nazi fanaticism because he wants no part of it. In the end Combs is killed by Hitler's son who lets Wyatt go because he understands how he was wronged and then kills himself. The horde of treasure is then left for Chilean people.






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