The Pharaoh’s Secret

The Pharaoh’s Secret

by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown

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The dazzling new novel in the #1 New York Times–bestselling NUMA Files series from the grand master of adventure.

Kurt and Joe tangle with the most determined enemy they’ve ever encountered when a ruthless powerbroker schemes to build a new Egyptian empire as glorious as those of the Pharaohs.

Part of his plan rests on the manipulation of a newly discovered aquifer beneath the Sahara, but an even more devastating weapon at his disposal may threaten the entire world: a plant extract known as the Black Mist, discovered in the City of the Dead and rumored to have the power to take life from the living and restore it to the dead.

With the balance of power in Africa and Europe on the verge of tipping, Kurt, Joe, and the rest of the NUMA team will have to fight to discover the truth behind the legends—but to do that, they have to confront in person the greatest legend of them all: Osiris, the ruler of the Egyptian underworld.

I’m just gonna say this is less a review of The Pharaoh’s Secret, and more a look at my affection for Clive Cussler books.

I only occasionally read Clive Cussler, but there was a time when he was all I read. Dirk Pitt: of course! NUMA Files: yep! Oregon Files: absolutely! Cussler provided an escape from the petty drama of high school. He was my go-to when I needed adventure during my first round of college. I knew who to turn to when I found myself desperately needing an over the top action read in the weeks leading up to my vacation. Clive Cussler delivered!

I honestly chose The Pharaoh’s Secret because of the cover. I mean look at it! Thankfully the plot was fantastically action packed. Readers were provided multiple plots that melded together seamlessly, and included both historical and scientific points. There was SCUBA diving, underwater battles, car chases, and plenty of snarky one-liners. I loved how readers were exposed to both ancient Egyptian and Roman history. My favorite part was, surprisingly, the side story of the Italian WWII soldiers. I even enjoyed Kurt and Joe, though Dirk and Al will always be my favorite Cussler duo.

Do I have any negative thoughts about The Pharaoh’s Secret? Eh, sure..just take all the points I previously mentioned. These are the reasons I don’t read much Cussler anymore. The stories are too over the top, the action scenes a tad too unbelievable, and the stories too similar. Cussler has a formula that works and he has stuck to it through the decades. But I go into his books knowing, and even craving, these traits when I pick one up.

Dirk Pitt holds a special place in my heart. He’s pulled me through reality when I needed an escape into the unknown. The Pharaoh’s Secret made me smile 😊. It did EXACTLY what I wanted.

Are you a Cussler fan? Which series is your favorite? Let me know and happy reading!

Lindsay

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Hatchet

Hatchet

by Gary Paulsen

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Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake–and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure.

Brian had been distraught over his parents’ impending divorce and the secret he carries about his mother, but now he is truly desolate and alone. Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day’s challenges. Is the water safe to drink? Are the berries he finds poisonous?

Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage–an invading porcupine unexpectedly shows him how to make fire, a devastating tornado shows him how to retrieve supplies from the submerged airplane. Most of all, Brian leaves behind the self-pity he has felt about his predicament as he summons the courage to stay alive.

A story of survival and of transformation, this riveting book has sparked many a reader’s interest in venturing into the wild.

I’m not going to provide a summary because the above synopsis does a pretty good job. Plus, I feel like Hatchet is an American classic; if you haven’t read it you’ve probably still heard of it.

Surprisingly, I had not read Hatchet before last year. This is odd as I adore Julie of the Wolves and read My Side of the Mountain as a pre-teen. And I’ve read pretty much every book written by Bill Wallace. I have no idea why I never read Hatchet, but my husband and I decided to remedy that and listened to the audiobook during our annual holiday road trip.

Hatchet was fantastic. For those who don’t know, my husband and I are both pilots and minimalist campers. I have been flying for most of my life and M is really good at survival style camping. Paulsen’s descriptions of the flight (and subsequent crash) are spot on, obviously written by someone with aviation experience. Brian’s successes, and failures, at survival are also quite realistic. Paulsen provides exquisitely detailed descriptions that pull the reader through the story, and Hatchet is a fantastic example of solid character development. It’s a ‘coming of age’ story that was actually enjoyable, without the pages upon pages of teenage angst that now represents the genre standard.

The only ‘negative’ point is there are some pretty gruesome moments as Brian survives the plane crash, multiple injuries, a moose attack, and a tornado. The book is not for the faint of heart and there are a number of people I wouldn’t recommend it to because the well written passages would leave them terrified of small aircraft and the great outdoors. This is not necessarily a fault against the book, just a point audiences need to be aware of.

Hatchet holds up as a classic survival story and I personally think it needs to remain as standard reading for preteens…especially as society forgets the skills of basic survival. I feel like its a book for any season, and look forward to picking it up again.

Does anyone else love Hatchet? What are your favorite survival stories? (I have so many on my list!)

Happy Reading!

Lindsay

The Most Dangerous Game

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Connell

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The Most Dangerous Game features a big-game hunter from New York who becomes shipwrecked on an isolated island in the Caribbean and is hunted by a Russian aristocrat.

When asked ‘what is your favorite short story?’ (because that happens often..) my immediate response is always The Most Dangerous Game. I have no idea how old I was when I first read it, though I am pretty sure it was per a school assignment. I do; however, vividly remember reading it for the first time. The emotions evoked by The Most Dangerous Game were intense, from the confusion at Rainsford’s predicament, through a shared sense of shock, to the wild fear coursing uncontrolled in my gut as I frantically turned through the pages. It was brilliant!

Rereading it as an adult will never be the same as that first time, but each reread stirs up that memory. That haunting and chilling memory still leaves goosebumps racing up my arms.

The story is simple, with a basic writing style that modern readers may find overly simplistic. And yet, Connell manages to connect to your primal emotions despite a writing style that lacks the detailed, showy language of modern literature. I think the simplistic style easily allows the reader to tap into their imagination, triggering a deeper emotional response. In my reread, I was also realized the historical aspects of the setting. Reading it for school meant discussing emotions and the moral complexities of big game sport hunting, but this time I recognized that the General and Rainsford both survived the Great War. I was able to acknowledge Zaroff’s Cossack heritage and the evolution of his life after the Russian Revolution. And of course, I was fascinated at this unique approach on how boredom affects a mind. There is just so much packed in those 20 pages.

I will always recommend The Most Dangerous Game. Always. It takes everything for me not to restart it each time I turn that last page. So, do yourself a favor, and pick this story up for a late October night read.

Is anyone else a fan? Let me know so that we can nerd out together!

Lindsay

Red Dog

Red Dog

by Bill Wallace

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TERROR IN THE MOUNTAINS
In the rugged Wyoming territory, the red pup is Adam’s best friend.
Adam and his family live in a lonely cabin in the mountains, facing the dangers of the wilderness alone. One day, Adam¹s stepfather announces that he must leave for a weeklong trip to Cheyenne. Adam is put in charge of the family. Everything goes smoothly until three cutthroat gold prospectors come crashing into the cabin and hold the family at gunpoint.

Late that night, Adam manages to escape. Unfortunately, the men let the red pup loose, and the one thing that dog does best is track Adam…Will the pup lead the men to Adam? And if he does, can Adam still save his family?

I am finally getting around to sharing my review of the last book in my Back to School series, Red Dog. Honestly, this is the perfect time of year to talk about this story, as I first discovered the works of Bill Wallace one amazing afternoon in my elementary school library. They were never assigned reading, but I read every available book by Wallace in one year (probably all before the winter break). And Red Dog is my favorite.

Actually, Red Dog will likely always be a favorite! While rereading it a few weeks ago (I’m in my 30s y’all) I realized that, once again, I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what would happen to Adam and his pup, and I found myself grumbling at any distraction. So, yes this will be a glowing review. Bill Wallace had this expert way of sharing life lessons disguised as a spellbinding adventure! In Red Dog, Adam is forced to let go of childish insecurities, learn how to properly treat animals, and develop a better understanding of his changed family dynamics. The lessons are at times painful, but the writing shows readers the necessity of choosing to be a better person. This is a reminder from which everyone, both young and old, can benefit. I’m not going to share any details of the actual story, because I don’t want to ruin the reading experience. Just know that the vivid imagery and heart racing scenes will stick with you long after turning that last page.

I do have a few less than positive points that sadly have to be shared. First, Adam is a royal pain for the first third of the book; whining and fighting against his mom and step-father. Thankfully, this only lasts for a third of the novel and it is necessary to show Adam’s personal growth throughout the story. Second, Wallace does not shy away from violence. Red Dog is set during the gold rush and the characters live in the Wyoming wilderness, days away from any town. Wallace does not sugar-coat the unfortunate reality that some people do not have good intentions, which results in a couple of gruesome moments. Both of these aspects mold this story and are necessary. I don’t consider them negative points, just aspects that readers should be aware of.

I have lost count of the number of times I have read Red Dog. I have my own copy of the story and now, so does godson. This is the story I share with parents requesting book for their kids. Wallace was my favorite author and his stories helped shape my childhood. Here were these amazing books that offered an escape to the wilderness when I was stuck inside, and Wallace promised a grand adventure that usually included a cute dog.

I blame Wallace for sparking my love of thriller and mystery fiction, and am forever grateful for finding him on that shelf.

Please share you’re favorite Bill Wallace book. I would love to hear what you think of his stories.
Lindsay

A Tan and Sandy Silence

A Tan and Sandy Silence

by John D. MacDonald

A Tan and Sandy Silence

Travis McGee is the strikingly handsome and ever resourceful invention of John D. MacDonald. Born in the author’s imagination in 1964, McGee drifted into the world on a 52-foot diesel-powered houseboat, the Busted Flush, which he has used as a base of operations through many adventures.

In A TAN AND SANDY SILENCE, news of a former girlfriend’s mysterious disappearance leads McGee to the West Indian island of Grenada. There he takes on a whirlwind plot of double-dealing, shady financing and shifting identities.

I am the type of person who takes a book with me everywhere; going grocery shopping, going to work (lunch break!), and of course I have at least one when on vacation. So it was somewhat of a shock when I found myself staying at a friend’s beach condo without something to read. I’m an early riser and I like to spend a quiet morning with a nice cup of coffee and a good book. Thankfully, the best thing about beach condos is there is almost always a shelf of second hand books for guests to peruse. And that is how I picked up A Tan and Sandy Silence.

I’m going to start with a warning. There will be a few spoilers in this review but I will not reveal who-dunnitt or ruin any part of the mystery for readers. However, these spoilers will discuss certain period plot devices that some readers may find disturbing. You will know about this stuff if you read any of the reviews on Goodreads, so it’s not really going to be a shock. I just wanted to let you know there are a few spoilers. You’ve been warned!

Let’s get started with the positive. A Tan and Sandy Silence was initially published in 1971 (my copy was printed in the 80s) and it is the 13th book in the Travis McGee series. Trav is a private detective living a comfortable life on a boat in a south Florida marina. All is right in his world until a man he despises arrives looking for a lost wife and almost kills McGee in the process. This encounter has McGee worried for the missing wife, who happens to be an old lover, and he sets out on his own to find her. I’ll be honest; the setting and atmosphere is the primary reason I was drawn to A Tan and Sandy Silence. I instantly felt like I was reading a mixture of Miami Vice and Magnum PI (two shows I love) and the beach mystery was the perfect way to jump into summer. The mystery was intriguing, the plot fast paced, and I was pleasantly surprised by the retrospective moments presented by our hero. I like Trav McGee. He is a very flawed and yet extremely likable character. I was drawn in by how smart he is and yet not discouraged during his shallow self-pitying moments. You could easy imagine stumbling upon him at the end of the dock cleaning freshly caught fish while enjoying a cold one. And his reflections on human nature still resonate today even after 40 years since the book was published. It was a thrilling beach mystery that made me think! And that’s something I will always say yes to.

Now on to the negative points…A Tan and Sandy Silence is definitely a product of the 1970s. Now for the previously warned spoiler, and well, all of the Goodreads reviews mention this scene so it’s not really a spoiler. About 2/3rds into the story, Travis strangles a female suspect during his interrogation. In my opinion the action was completely unnecessary, as it was rough, kinda out of character for McGee, and did nothing but cheapen the female character. However, I have to concede that I’m not sure what plot device could have been used instead. It did what it was intended to do; it let you know that this female suspect had no respect for herself and would do anything for money, including partnering with a man who threatened to kill her. I will add that one of two things could have happened after this scene. Travis could have taken advantage of the situation and I would have lost all respect for the gritty detective. Or he could have decided not to. I finished the story so that that for what you will. I will advise that the female characters are overly sexualize and are rather shallow. Note that I say SOME, as there are a few strong willed smart business women which was pleasant to read. However, I don’t recommend this story for those wanting well developed female characters. They just aren’t there.

This book provided exactly what I wanted; a written story that invokes the same beachy nostalgia that I get when watching Miami Vice and Magnum P.I. Is it a work of genius? Nope. Is it on the top of my favorites list? Nope. Will I probably read another Travis McGee story? Absolutely! These are the type of stories I crave during Florida’s hot summer days, and you can definitely expect to find me enjoying a second hand Travis McGee story at the beach. So check out Tan and Sandy Silence and let me know what you think!

Have a great weekend.

Lindsay

Last of the Breed

Last of the Breed

by Louis L’Amour

Last of the Breed

After U.S. Air Force Major Joe Mack is forced down in Russia and later escapes from a Soviet prison camp, he calls upon the skills of his Sioux Indian forebears to evade Alekhin, the Yakut native and legendary tracker, on his trail.

My husband loves to learn about basic survival skills; I enjoy reading survival stories.  We both want to be prepared to live in ‘the wild’ if we must.  We aren’t doomsday preppers or anything, but we do fly small airplanes and live in an area frequented by hurricanes.  Things could happen, and these survival stories are for educational purposes!  Louis L’amour’s Last of the Breed is the one story that I just can not stop reading.  I have read it between 5 to 10 times in the last 13 years and each time I am riveted!

Joe Mack is a Sioux who is also a test pilot for the Air Force.  He is captured by the Russians and brought to Siberia for interrogation.  Joe Mack refuses to remain a prisoner and he quickly escapes.  But he now much survive a Siberian winter and it will require all his military and ancestral training to make it out alive.  (Now I want to start reading it again!)

Last of the Breed was originally published in 1986 and the writing style is somewhat different than current publications.  The language is often more telling than showing, which requires a vivid imagination to fill in all the glorious details.  Luckily, I have one of those, but many reviews complain that the novel drags on because of it.  L’Amour also has a tendency to repeat himself…a lot.  I blame the editing process because this should have been fixed before publication.  The only time it bugged me was when the next sentence would be a reworded copy of the previous sentence.  That is an editing issue.

Don’t let this deter you because the story is great!  I am enthralled by Joe Mack and his journey across Siberia.  Plus, L’Amour provides an interesting cast of supporting characters for you to both love and hate.  I hold my breath as Talya and her father rush to the Chinese border.  I whisper “yes!” each time Joe Mack escapes; and I curse Alekhin as he hunts Joe Mack down.  But, this is more than a story of sheer survival.  L’Amour also describes the mental strain of surviving and living on the run.  These passages left me with goose-bumps as the fear of being hunted courses through me while Alekhin closes in on Joe Mack.  I know how the story ends, but that doesn’t matter.  I feel like I am there in Siberia every time I open this book.

FullSizeRender

Last of the Breed will always be one of my favorites and I plan to keep rereading it.  I mean, just look at my personal copy!  Why hasn’t it been made in to a movie?!  Anyways, happy survival reading everyone😛

Lindsay

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay

by Dana Stabenow

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Shocked by a series of brutal, unexplainable murders, Alaska State Trooper Liam Campbell embarks on a desperate journey into the heart of the Alaskan Bush country — in search of the terrible, earth-shattering truth…

Nothing Gold Can Stay is my first novel by Dana Stabenow and I enjoyed it. This is another audio book I picked up from the library and it seemed like the perfect winter mystery for my current reading mood. Stabenow didn’t let me down!

Wy’s kick butt flying is the best part of Nothing Gold Can Stay! She obviously did her research because Stabenow nailed the aerial descriptions. It was great reading about good flying and I always appreciate the adventures of a fellow kick butt female pilot!! 😜

Other than that, I enjoyed Stabenow’s format style. I liked that readers get the backstory for each character and I enjoyed how different each individual was. I liked reading about Tim adjusting to his knew home, Wy’s struggle to maintain order in her life, and Liam’s dogged determination to fix everything. Moses was definitely one of my favorite characters and Prince was the least. Stabenow’s descriptive language left me feeling as if I had know these people all my life. I felt bad for them, I cheered for them, and I hoped the best for them. That alone makes it an enjoyable read; the flying kept me smiling the whole time!

I like the mystery and the way it was handled but I must warn you that abuse is a primary topic in Nothing Gold Can Stay. This includes child abuse, marital abuse, and sexual abuse. Stabenow is focused on the positive recovery aspects of abuse but you should know that it’s there before picking up this novel. 

My only complaint is there was just too much sex for my taste. And yes I can hear all you romance readers gasp in shock at that statement. I understand the Stabenow utilized the interactions for character develop but every character had sex, or their sex life discussed, at some point in the book. It was just constant and actually took away from the mystery a couple of times. 

Nothing Gold Can Stay is the third book in the Liam Campbell series (I’m kinda ashamed I started in the middle) and I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading the rest of them! Anyone else a fan of Dana Stabenow?

Lindsay

Ice

Ice

By Linda Howard

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’Tis the season for mistletoe and holly, Santa . . . and suspense. And the gift that keeps on giving is Ice: premier thriller author Linda Howard’s breathless tale of a man, a woman, and a battle for survival against an unforgiving winter–and an unrelenting killer. Oh what fun it is to read.

Gabriel McQueen has only just arrived home on holiday leave from the service when his county-sheriff father sends him back out again with new marching orders. A brewing ice storm, and a distant neighbor who’s fallen out of contact, have the local lawman concerned. So he enlists Gabriel to make the long haul to the middle of nowhere, and make sure Lolly Helton is safe and sound. It’s a trip the younger McQueen would rather not make given the bitter winter weather–and the icy conditions that have always existed between him and Lolly.

But there’s no talking back when your dad is the town’s top cop. And there’ s no turning back when night falls just as Gabriel arrives–and discovers that the weather outside isn’t the only thing that’s frightful. Spotting strangers in Lolly’ s home–one of them packing a weapon–is all it takes to kick Gabriel into combat mode. And his stealth training is all he needs to extract Lolly from the house without alerting her captors. But when the escape is discovered, the heat–and the hunt–are on. And the winter woods are nowhere to be once the ice storm touches down, dropping trees, blocking roads, and trapping the fleeing pair in the freezing dark.

So my books of choice the last few weeks have been arctic romantic thrillers….don’t ask me why. Just go with it!

Ice was the perfect book to get me fired up for winter weather. I listened to the audio book and the short gripping passages left transfixed during my drive and frustrated upon parking.

The main characters, Gabe and Lolly, aredecently  developed and relatable. Both must deal with their past and budding attraction for each other while also attempting to survive the icy Maine wilderness.  I enjoyed reading Lolly’s introspection about her personal growth since childhood and I loved that they stuck battling both the elements and two drug addicts. I like that Howard had the bad guys be simple meth addicts. I feel that too often these type of stories try too hard to make the villain over the top, like a professional thief, spy, or professional killer. I am pleased Howard opted for a couple that are too high on drugs to feel pain and too greedy to care about survival. She perfectly captured the frantic thinking of their drug addled minds, the intense self obsession of the addict, and their insane ability to survive the elements thanks to the drugs.

Lily and Gabe’s struggle to survive the ice storm is intense and its good Lolly isn’t an outdoors and survival guru. This makes her character even more relatable for the majority of readers.

Their relationship was a little awkward, which makes sense in this situation but I felt that Howard was trying to keep it steamy while the characters are fighting for their lives against drug addicts and the weather. It’s good they don’t have instant love and romance, but it still felt a tad awkward at times. Ice is a tad repetitive as well, especially during Lolly’s moments of introspection. Yes, I know that our minds tend to be repetitive when we are focused on our insecurities and future, but it was a little too much for my liking.

Ice was a great book to read during my work commute! I enjoyed the short survival thriller and recommend the book if you enjoy the genre. You’ll definitely enjoy the frantic escape attempts through icy Maine. Happy New Year’s Eve!

Lindsay

Last of the Breed

Last of the Breed

by Louis L’Amour

Last of the Breed

After U.S. Air Force Major Joe Mack is forced down in Russia and later escapes from a Soviet prison camp, he calls upon the skills of his Sioux Indian forebears to evade Alekhin, the Yakut native and legendary tracker, on his trail.

My husband loves to learn about basic survival skills; I enjoy reading survival stories.  We both want to be prepared to live in ‘the wild’ if we must.  We aren’t doomsday preppers or anything, but we do fly small airplanes and live in an area frequented by hurricanes.  Things could happen, and these survival stories are for educational purposes!  Louis L’amour’s Last of the Breed is the one story that I just can not stop reading.  I have read it between 5 to 10 times in the last 13 years and each time I am riveted!

Joe Mack is a Sioux who is also a test pilot for the Air Force.  He is captured by the Russians and brought to Siberia for interrogation.  Joe Mack refuses to remain a prisoner and he quickly escapes.  But he now much survive a Siberian winter and it will require all his military and ancestral training to make it out alive.  (Now I want to start reading it again!)

Last of the Breed was originally published in 1986 and the writing style is somewhat different than current publications.  The language is often more telling than showing, which requires a vivid imagination to fill in all the glorious details.  Luckily, I have one of those, but many reviews complain that the novel drags on because of it.  L’Amour also has a tendency to repeat himself…a lot.  I blame the editing process because this should have been fixed before publication.  The only time it bugged me was when the next sentence would be a reworded copy of the previous sentence.  That is an editing issue.

Don’t let this deter you because the story is great!  I am enthralled by Joe Mack and his journey across Siberia.  Plus, L’Amour provides an interesting cast of supporting characters for you to both love and hate.  I hold my breath as Talya and her father rush to the Chinese border.  I whisper “yes!” each time Joe Mack escapes; and I curse Alekhin as he hunts Joe Mack down.  But, this is more than a story of sheer survival.  L’Amour also describes the mental strain of surviving and living on the run.  These passages left me with goose-bumps as the fear of being hunted courses through me while Alekhin closes in on Joe Mack.  I know how the story ends, but that doesn’t matter.  I feel like I am there in Siberia every time I open this book.

FullSizeRender

Last of the Breed will always be one of my favorites and I plan to keep rereading it.  I mean, just look at my personal copy!  Why hasn’t it been made in to a movie?!  Anyways, happy survival reading everyone 😛

Lindsay