Archive for the ‘action’ Category

The President
For President Jonathan Bennett, reaching the White House was the realization of a lifetime’s ambition. He’s leader of the free world and the most powerful man on earth. But public support for his administration is wearing thin. And if the terrible truth about his rise to the top was exposed it would bury him. He will not let that happen.

The Assassin
As a boy, Evan Smoak was taken from his foster home and inducted into a top secret Cold War programme. Code-named Orphan X, he was trained to become a lethal weapon, then dispatched around the world to do whatever was required to keep his country safe. When Evan discovered the mission was rotten to the core, he got out using his skills to hide in plain sight while helping those who can’t help themselves

The Reckoning
But Evan knows about the President’s dark past. And that’s dangerous knowledge. To save himself and his country, Evan must ask himself one simple question: how do you kill the most well-protected man on earth? And, when he knows you’re coming for him, how do you stay alive long enough to try? One thing is certain: a desperate call for help from another unfortunate in urgent need of Evan’s protection isn’t going to make it any easier . . .

Out of the Dark: Orphan X #4

Gregg Hurwitz

Michael Joseph

Borrowed from Auckland Libraries

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

After finding out why the President wants him dead, Evan knows the only way he can live is to kill the President of the United States.  A simple task. NOT.

The Nowhere Man also has the task of helping a mentally challenged man – Trevon – find safety from a drug lord.  He hideously murdered Trevon’s entire family and framed him to send a message to others not to cross him.

I liked seeing past characters – some surprisingly helpful – and I enjoyed leaning of Joey’s scorched earth plan for her school friend’s rapist.  The whole family sound sleazy and I have no doubt she’ll succeed.   I loved the character of Trevon and adored how close his family was.  I hated the drug lord and wished he’d suffered more.

More of the incredible action and breath-takingly fast paced plots that are every Orphan X story.

Impatiently waiting for Orphan X #5!

Hellbent: Orphan X #3 review here

To some he was Orphan X. Others knew him as the Nowhere Man. But to Jack Johns he was a boy named Evan Smoak. Taken from an orphanage, Evan was raised inside a top-secret government programme and trained to become a lethal weapon. By Jack. And yet for all the dangerous skill he instilled in his young charge, Jack Jones cared for Evan like a son.

But Jack knew too much about a programme that had gone rotten – he was a loose end that needed to be dealt with. But if you go after the only person who ever treated him like a human being, you can guarantee that the Nowhere Man will be coming for you. Hellbent on making things right . . .

Hellbent: Orphan X #3

Gregg Hurwitz

Michael Joseph

Borrowed from Auckland Libraries

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

The man hunting Evan made a huge mistake.  He went after the man who made Evan who he is, the man Evan thought of as a father – Jack Johns.    Jack loved Evan like a son, so sacrificed himself for him.  But not before giving Evan one final mission…….

While Evan hunts down Van Sciver, the man trying to kill him, he answers a call on his RoamZone from a father desperate for help with his son.  Though not fitting the Nowhere Man’s criteria of who to help – needing help for yourself, not someone else – Evan accepts and finds himself in a deadly fight with the most feared street gang in the world, Mara Salvatrucha.

The plot is very clever, tightly wound, moves rapidly, and with lots of action.  There are some familiar faces – does Candy NEVER die! – and we finally find out why the President ordered Van Sciver to kill Orphan X dead, though the details of the why are unclear.

I loved the story and need to read Orphan X #4!

The Nowhere Man: Orphan X #2 review here

He was once called Orphan X.

As a boy, Evan Smoak was taken from a children’s home, raised and trained as part of a secret government initiative buried so deep that virtually no one knows it exists. But he broke with the programme, choosing instead to vanish off grid and use his formidable skill set to help those unable to protect themselves.

One day, though, Evan’s luck ran out . . .

Ambushed, drugged, and spirited away, Evan wakes up in a locked room with no idea where he is or who has captured him. As he tries to piece together what’s happened, testing his gilded prison and its highly trained guards for weaknesses, he receives a desperate call for help.

With time running out, he will need to out-think, out-manoeuvre, and out-fight an opponent the likes of whom he’s never encountered to have any chance of escape. He’s got to save himself to protect those whose lives depend on him. Or die trying . . .

The Nowhere Man: Orphan X #2

Gregg Hurwitz

Michael Joseph

Borrowed from Auckland Libraries

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

Evan is the Nowhere Man, helping those trapped in impossible situations who cannot help themselves.  His latest mission is successful and he finds details of another innocent who needs help.  Then he is captured, drugged, and wakes up in a locked room, with no idea where he is or who captured him.

He has to discover who took him, where he is, why he was taken, how many guards he needs to kill………  There are a lot of chess moves in the plot and the action is incredibly fast and clever.  One move with a Perspex prison was so clever – I didn’t see that coming!  An unexpected face saves the day and Evan must feel so betrayed.

I really enjoyed the story and the ending – wow!  I can’t wait to read Orphan X #3!

Orphan X: Orphan X #1 review here

The Nowhere Man is a legendary figure spoken about only in whispers. It’s said that when he’s reached by the truly desperate and deserving, the Nowhere Man can and will do anything to protect and save them.

But he’s no legend.

Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He’s also a man with a dangerous past. Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as part of the off-the-books black box Orphan program, designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence assets—i.e. assassins. He was Orphan X. Evan broke with the program, using everything he learned to disappear.

Now, however, someone is on his tail. Someone with similar skills and training. Someone who knows Orphan X. Someone who is getting closer and closer. And will exploit Evan’s weakness—his work as The Nowhere Man—to find him and eliminate him.

Orphan X: Orphan X #1

Gregg Hurwitz

Minotaur Books

Borrowed from Auckland Libraries

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

The fifth book is being released this year so I thought I should catch up and read the first four. I’m so pleased with that decision.

The hero is Evan Smoak, who was enrolled in a top-secret operation known as the Orphan Program.  The goal of the program was to train orphans to be assassins for American government agencies.  He was the 24th recruit in the program and known only as Orphan X. The program was officially shut down after Evan discovered he was being lied to and not all of his targets were bad guys.

In an effort to make amends, he now helps people trapped in impossible situations to get free.  Each person he helps is told to pay it forward by giving someone in need of help his phone number – 1-855-2-NOWHERE.

The action begins with Evan taking on a corrupt LAPD officer and never slows down.  The plot is breathtakingly fast and very tightly woven, full of twists and turns as you try to figure out who to trust.  As well as his vigilante justice side, we see how he hides in plain sight and meet the boring, mundane Evan Smoak.

I really enjoyed the story and the only fault was it kept me reading ‘just one more chapter’ – making me stay up far too late and causing tiredness the next day.

But wow! I DID NOT expect that epilogue!  I need to read Orphan X #2!

An all-new collection of short stories from the world of Magnus Chase!

How well do you know the nine Norse realms? Do you get all those heims mixed up?

Well, this collection of rollicking short stories – each set in a different world and told by a different character from the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series – will help straighten you out.

And even if it doesn’t, you’ll enjoy reading about how Alex saves Amir’s pants, Samirah plucks a giant’s harp, Mallory teaches a dragon how to throw down insults, and much more.

Just watch out for Thor, who is running through the whole thing and raising quite a stink . . .

Magnus Chase: 9 From the Nine Worlds

Rick Riordan

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

I get the feeling that Rick Riordan had these spare chapters that didn’t make the cut….But they are entertaining and have plenty of trademark snark.

Niflheim, Muspelheim, Asgard, Midgard, Jotunheim, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Svartalfheim, Helheim. Are you ready for mad shopping skillz, dragon insulting and seven other adventures from our favourite characters from the Magnus Chase series? Be nice to think that Hearthstone, Blitzen, Samirah, Alex, Jack, T.J., Mallory and Halfborn could stave off Ragnarok until Magnus gets back from holiday but maybe not…

Jack Reacher plans to follow the autumn sun on an epic road trip across America, from Maine to California. He doesn’t get far. On a country road deep in the New England woods, he sees a sign to a place he has never been – the town where his father was born. He thinks, what’s one extra day? He takes the detour.

At the very same moment, close by, a car breaks down. Two young Canadians are trying to get to New York City to sell a treasure. They’re stranded at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere. It’s a strange place … but it’s all there is.

The next morning in the city clerk’s office, Reacher asks about the old family home. He’s told no one named Reacher ever lived in that town. He knows his father never went back. Now he wonders, was he ever there in the first place?

So begins another nailbiting, adrenaline-fuelled adventure for Reacher. The present can be tense, but the past can be worse. That’s for damn sure.

Past Tense: Jack Reacher #23

Lee Child

Bantam Press

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

More Jack Reacher!

Reacher is once again travelling the backroads of America on his way to California.  He finds himself in New Hampshire and sees a roadsign for the towjn of Laconia, his father’s hometown.  Curious, he decides to investigate and begins piecing together some of his family history, at least until his father fled to join the Marines at the age of seventeen.  Scanning through records at town hall and researching census from long ago makes boring reading but it brings him in contact with a lot of different characters – some nice and some not-so-nice.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, two Canadians arrive in their beat-up vehicle, hoping to only pass through on their way to Florida.  Shorty and Patty have a fool-proof plan where they’ll drive from Canada straight through to New York to make a quick sale for some easy money. Unfortunately they break down and are stranded at a creepy motel.  The motel is being run by the most depraved and money hungry bunch of goons, headed by a man with the last name of Reacher.  It’s not clear what they are up to until the 3/4s into the book but it’s chilling.

The two story lines converge near the end of the book, with Jack Reacher coming across those in trouble just when he is most needed.

I really liked the duel storyline.  Shorty and his smarter girlfriend, Patty, break down at an isolated, creepy motel not far off from Laconia. Unbeknownst to them, they are about to enter hell. They are in desperate need of Reacher’s help. The two stories converge with a lot of action and excitement. This was a fun read and I’d would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about good guys and bad guys and series fans who want to see yet another unique angle to this ever-evolving collection.

A futuristic action-adventure novel about a teenager caught in the middle of a centuries old war between wizards and robots, who finds the world’s destiny is suddenly in her hands.

When a young man breaks into her home claiming her life is in danger, Ada Luring’s world changes forever. Geller is a wizard, on the run from his father’s hidden clan who want to kill Ada and her mother. Sara Luring is the scientist who will create the first robot, the wizards’ age-old foes.

But a robot has travelled back in time to find Ada, and will lay everything on the line to protect her, as she may just be the key to preventing the earth’s destruction in the future.

Ada, Geller and the robots must learn to work together to change the past and secure the future. But they don’t have much time before a mysterious enemy launches its attack on Earth . . .

WAR: Wizards and Robots

Will.i.am & Brian David Johnson

Penguin Books

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

I’m always suspicious when I see a celebrity’s name in the by-line of a novel, and when it’s that of a popular hip-hop artist, it seems fairly certain that this book was published on the strength of that name’s ability to sell books. And after reading it, I don’t think that I was far wrong.

The writing itself wasn’t too bad, it’s more the story I have issues with, or more properly the setting. It feels like the authors took the grab-bag of science fiction and fantasy tropes, emptied it on the floor, picked out a handful of unrelated ideas not normally found in the same novel and decided to make a book out of it. So, you have wizards and robots, that’s obvious from the title. And then you add in time travel and invading aliens from another dimension…. It’s a mess, never totally resolved. If wizardry is dependent on a technological device in the form of a ring, then where and when did these rings come from? Perhaps some amphibians know?

The primary characters; a computer genius girl and a boy wizard are obviously designed to meet and form some sort of relationship, but why call the girl Ada Luring (rhymes with Turing)? I can see why her mother might name her Ada, but… It’s all a wee bit twee… and a bit silly. So, I’m afraid, is the plot. Time travel is almost guaranteed to create plot-holes and here they’re all over the place. There is a resolution of sorts, and evil is defeated, but it really is way too complicated for its own good. You may want to leave this one and its shiny silver cover on the shelf.

. he highly anticipated coming-of-age story of kick-ass super hero: Catwoman by international bestselling author Sarah J. Maas.
When the Bat’s away, the Cat will play. It’s time to see how many lives this cat really has . . .

Two years after escaping Gotham City’s slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Batwing is left to hold back the tide of notorious criminals. Gotham City is ripe for the taking.

Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove he has what it takes to help people in his role as Batwing. He targets a new thief on the prowl who seems cleverer than most. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and together they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman may be Batwing’s undoing.

In this third DC Icons book-following Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker-Selina is playing a desperate game of cat and mouse, forming unexpected friendships and entangling herself with Batwing by night and her devilishly handsome neighbor Luke Fox by day. But with a dangerous threat from the past on her tail, will she be able to pull off the heist that’s closest to her heart?

Catwoman Soulstealer

Sarah J. Maas

Penguin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Piper Mejia

Gotham City is not an easy world to leave; the heroes always have something to prove and the villains always have someone to destroy. But not all heroes are admirable and not all villains are despicable. Sarah J. Maas’ Catwoman Soulstealer is the third in the DC Icon Series delving into unexploited backstory of one of our favourite anti-villains, Catwoman.

In true Gotham style, the setting is gritty and unforgiving of weakness in either the wealthy or the deprived. Selina Kyle uses her mental and physical agility to not only protect those she loves and survive, but to thrive. A woman of many enviable talents, her strongest skill is her humanity. In a world that cultivates mistrust and crushes hope Selina forges alliances will Ivy and Harlequin, two similarly broken dolls barely keeping the pieces together, to  pull a robin hood (or two) against the rich and powerful of Gotham’s elite and its underbelly.

Throughout the novel, the reader is taken on a well-crafted trip into a world we think we know, teased along the way with promises of a happy ending. We are not disappointed, and though we don’t get what we expect we get what we deserve, as just like in the real world, the Sarah J. Maas’ characters are complicated, their experiences shape them in unexpected ways and the ending is only the beginning.

Hitler is determined to start a war.

Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace.

The issue is to be decided in a city that will forever afterwards be notorious for what takes place there.

Munich.

As Chamberlain’s plane judders over the Channel and the Führer’s train steams relentlessly south from Berlin, two young men travel with secrets of their own.

Hugh Legat is one of Chamberlain’s private secretaries; Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. Great friends at Oxford before Hitler came to power, they haven’t seen one another since they were last in Munich six years earlier. Now, as the future of Europe hangs in the balance, their paths are destined to cross again.

When the stakes are this high, who are you willing to betray? Your friends, your family, your country or your conscience?

Hutchinson

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Simon

Munich, Robert Harris’s latest offering, is a political thriller set during the ongoing political foment of late 1930s Europe. The story is told from two points of view: one is Hugh Legat, a Foreign Office staff member attached to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s office; and the other is Paul Hartmann his counterpart and former friend in the German Foreign Office in Berlin. Paul is also a member of the anti-Nazi German opposition – resistance being too strong a word.

The latest crisis is Hitler’s proposed invasion of Czechoslovakia due to settle the Sudetenland transfer once and for all. That invasion is opposed by the British, French and Czechoslovak governments, and also by large parts of the German regime because the German army, and the German populace in general, is unprepared for war.

Munich the novel centres round the four day period covering the diplomatic negotiations, and attendant espionage efforts of the German opposition, held in Munich that prevented the outbreak of war in 1938.

I found the novel to be an easy and enjoyable read as it re-emphasised the personal nature of Anglo-German relations and the horror of another major European war held by most political leaders of the time.

 

Review of No Middle Name – Lee Child

Posted: September 6, 2017 in action, Review
Tags:

Jaack ‘No Middle Name’ Reacher, lone wolf, knight errant, ex military cop, lover of women, scourge of the wicked and righter of wrongs, is the most iconic hero for our age. This is the first time all Lee Child’s shorter fiction featuring Jack Reacher has been collected into one volume.

A brand-new novella, Too Much Time, is included, as are those previously only published in ebook form: Second Son, James Penney’s New Identity, Guy Walks Into a Bar, Deep Down, High Heat, Not a Drill and Small Wars. Added to these is every other Reacher short story that Child has written: Everyone Talks, Maybe They Have a Tradition, No Room at the Motel and The Picture of the Lonely Diner. Read together, these twelve stories shed new light on Reacher’s past, illuminating how he grew up and developed into the wandering avenger who has captured the imagination of millions around the world.

Bantam Press

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Review by Lee Murray

The bio at the back of No Middle Name says one of Lee Child’s “novels featuring his hero Jack Reacher is sold somewhere in the world every 20 seconds’ and that they’re ‘published in over 100 territories’. So it stands to reason that a fair number of us are familiar with Child’s vagrant hero, the hard-living keen-eyed Marine Corps kid turned military cop. And true to form, this complete collection of short stories featuring Child’s iconic character comprises all the things we’ve come to love about the Child/Reacher franchise:

A bar. Pretty much every Reacher story has one, where the military ex-cop observes every misplaced floorboard, evaluating each shifty-eyed character leaning up against the mahogany before ordering a beer and maybe a cheeseburger. More than once he’ll have a chat with the downtrodden waitress, who typically talks too much, or perhaps says too little which, to an ex-cop, is a tell in itself.

A bus stop, train station, trail, or a road trip in a beat-up van. Child’s hero comes from nowhere, stops a few days, and then moves on to somewhere, which could be anywhere ‒ a fact which makes these stories both fleeting and fierce.

USA. Child’s writing reeks of America, its small towns, sprawling cities, and broken down street corners, and he does it better than most with dusty, weather-beaten worn-out observations which are so familiar they sparkle:

“The city was pitch black, still dead, like a creature on its back.”

“The vacation cabins were laid out haphazardly, like a handful of dice thrown down.”

 “They drove a long, long time in the dark, and then they hit neighbourhoods with power, with traffic lights and street lights and the occasional lit room. Billboards were bright, and the familiar night-time background of orange diamonds on black velvet lay all around.”

And this is Jack Reacher so we cannot go past the obligatory ‘what are you looking at?’ scene, where 6 foot 5 Reacher doesn’t provoke the fight but after weighing up the options and reminding us he doesn’t like running, takes down every two-bit thug in the vicinity. It’s part of his charm.

No story would be complete without the disenfranchised citizen who somehow needs saving, and naturally, Reacher, with no place to go and nothing to lose, is the only one to do it.

And finally, for every story there is the roundhouse kick of a finish that you simply didn’t see coming.

No Middle Name includes five Jack Reacher novellas and several shorter stories. Like Reacher himself, they’re good company for an hour, like taking a rest stop at a small town café to sip coffee and watch the bustle, before stepping back onto the Greyhound of our lives. Recommended.

A multi-award winning writer and editor, Lee Murray’s latest titles include the military thriller Into the Mist (Cohesion Press), and Hounds of the Underworld (RDSP) co-written with Dan Rabarts.