Tag Archives: Review

5 Sentence Review: The Moscow Vector by Robert Ludlum & Patrick Larkin

the-moscow-vectorThe Moscow Vector by Patrick Larkin is book number six in the Covert One Series originally created by Robert Ludlum. I found this Larkin novel quite a bit more enjoyable than his previous effort, The Lazarus Vendetta. Larkin maintains his edgier style, but presents a more believable and well-honed story. The Lazarus Vendetta read more like a espionage thriller and less like a science fiction work, which I for one, found to be an improvement. Now on to book number seven, which was written by James Cobb, whom I know nothing about, but whom hopefully is up to the task!

3 out of 5 cups of black coffee.


Five Sentence Review: For the City by Darrin Patrick & Matt Carter

for-the-cityLast weekend, myself, Logan, and Gibby headed off to the mountains for our first ever Basileia Church staff retreat. We had a blast, spent much needed time in strategy planning and prayer, and discussed a book by Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter entitled For the City. The book describes what it looks like for a church to so impact a local culture that the community notices and loves the church, even if they don’t agree with everything the church stands for. It’s a rather simple book with a lot of personal stories and some basic, but very important, principles about missional living. If you’re wanting to figure out what “missional” is all about, this is a very basic introduction that excites and encourages as it teaches.

3.5 out of 5 cups of black coffee


Book Review: The Lazarus Vendetta by Robert Ludlum & Patrick Larkin

the-lazarus-vendettaThe Lazarus Vendetta is the fifth book in The Covert One Series created by Robert Ludlum and written in conjunction with other authors. This is the first of the stories written by Patrick Larkin, and the results while acceptable, are not overtly impressive. My main complaint is that the story itself is too far-fetched and unbelievable. As a result, the reader remains an observer of the action rather than a participant in the action. Good stories, I would argue, so envelope the reader that she no longer feels as if she is reading at all. Obviously, believability in every detail is not the essential element to make a story work, but it is fairly important in the thriller/spy genre, especially if said story is set in modern times. Despite how well the other elements of the story may be developed, ultimately the book falls flat if the reader can’t imagine the events actually happening in real life. And The Lazarus Vendetta is just a bit too far gone to be fully enjoyed. Longtime readers of The Covert One series will also note that Larkin’s style is a bit different than other authors. Most notably he’s more graphic (gory), and some of the traits of main characters are portrayed differently. For instance, Fred Klein was addicted to his pipe in the last novel, but his obsession is hardly mentioned at all in this story. In one scene, Jon Smith suddenly develops a conscious towards a would-be attacker and nearly dies as a result. I don’t dislike the book, but it falls a bit short when compared to the stories Gayle Lynds has written in the series. As it goes, Gayle Lynds is the best author in the Covert One Series so far, with Patrick Larkin and Phillip Shelby a distant second and third.

2 of 5 cups of black coffee.


Book Review: M.A.S.H. A Novel About Three Army Doctors

MASHI’m an avid M.A.S.H. fan. I grew up in a household with parents who watched the reruns nearly every night. My mom especially seemed to have it perpetually on. But I never really understood the appeal of the show until I started watching it myself. It’s weird how you pick up on a select number of your parents’ habits as you grow older. But you do. It seems like we all do. Eventually you realize that you’re a lot like your folks, and it scares you a bit. Honestly though, it’s a happy, understanding sort of scared. Like you somehow know them better and love them more deeply, but secretly wonder if your kids will one day look at you like you’re crazy.

In my mid-twenties I picked up a personal love for M.A.S.H., and over the course of three years, I watched through the entire series. Eleven seasons, twenty-four episodes each (usually anyway), for a grand total of 251 total episodes. Steadily one episode after another I watched, and it became a part of my life. When I finished the series, there was a sort of melancholy that set upon me, like I’d lost a good friend, and life would never quite be the same. It literally felt like I was leaving college or something. I felt that way because it’s a show about characters. And you grow to like those characters, even love those characters, and you feel like they’re a part of your life. Now they’re leaving, and it’s sort of sad. I loved M.A.S.H. not just for the characters though, I also loved it because it transported me to another place, one with war and death and adventure and humor and cold nights and hot summers and meaning and moodiness and all-around life. It’s a show about life, about humanity, and I love it.

The movie upon which the tv show was based is a little different. Not too different, but different. Same characters, many of the same actors, but with a much darker sort of humor. It’s a bit of a scandalous movie, touching on subjects that at the time, and even now, seem too taboo to talk about. You watch, and you laugh, and you’re not sure if you should be laughing. A sort of Southpark approach decades before Southpark existed. Many who like the tv show don’t appreciate the movie, and many who like the movie don’t appreciate the tv show. Personally I love them both. And by saying that, I’m not trying to make any sort of moral evaluation, I’m just admitting that I like them.

I just finished reading the book, which I had never read before. In case you didn’t know, the book is the genesis of the movie, the tv show, everything. It was written in 1968 by Richard Hooker. Really it was written H. Richard Hornberger because Hooker is a pseudonym, but whatever. It’s a book about three army doctors, their friends, and all the craziness that they caused as surgeons at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Hooker indicated that the storyline was based roughly on his own experiences in the Korean War while stationed at a M.A.S.H. unit. According to Hooker’s son, the lead character, Hawkeye Pierce, was loosely based upon his dad, and in some senses is autobiographical. It makes me wonder how loosely because it’s hard to believe that the characters in this book, affectionately referred to as “The Swampmen,” could really pull off all the comical hijinks that the book entails. Secretly, as a reader of the book, you sort of hope they really did pull off all of the craziness. It seems a bit too over-the-top to be true, but maybe not. And it’s this sort of flirting with the line of reality that makes the entire book work as a pleasing bit of fiction to read.

M.A.S.H. is hilarious. Multiple times I laughed out loud. But be warned! The humor is even darker than the movie. It would be rather easy to find yourself offended if you didn’t know what you were getting into. But as an avid M.A.S.H. fan, I highly recommend it!

4 out of 5 Cups of Black Coffee.


Five Sentence Review: The Altman Code by Robert Ludlum & Gayle Lynds

the-altman-codeThis is the fourth book in the Covert One Series created by Robert Ludlum. I’m pretty sure this is my favorite novel within the series so far, and it’s solidified my faith in Gayle Lynds as a good thriller novelist. Set largely in China, this novel came alive in it’s accurate portrayal of both that country and the shaky alliance that his been formed between America and the East in recent years. A recurring theme in Ludlum novels is the potential evils of unchecked capitalism and the military industrial complex when they become too tightly interwoven into the fabric of Washington’s politics. Suffice it to say that The Altman Code seems to comment upon both the Bush administration and Dick Cheney as the story of greed and warmongering progresses.

Fun to Read.


4 of 5 cups of black coffee.


5 Sentence Review: The Cassandra Compact by Robert Ludlum & Philip Shelby

the-cassandra-compactThis is the second book in the Covert-One Series by Robert Ludlum and is relatively brief in comparison to most of Ludlum’s other work. The Cassandra Compact finds protagonist John Smith chasing down a sample of smallpox stolen from a Russian Lab that threatens wreak devastation upon the world. This is a fairly typical novel within the thriller / covert-military genre, but honestly less believable than other Ludlum tales. Wheres a book like The Hades Factor made the reader take seriously the extent to which capitalistic greed threatens all of us, I doubt that Cassandra convinces anyone. Still enjoyable, but a little below par.

2 out of 5 cups of black coffee


Five Sentence Review: The Hades Factor by Robert Ludlum & Gayle Lynds

the-hades-factorAfter finishing Robert Ludlum’s The Paris Option a few weeks ago, I realized it was actually part of a series of novels known as the Covert-One Novels. So, I went back and downloaded The Hades Factor, the first in the series. It’s pretty standard Ludlum: Fun to read (especially as an audiobook), enjoyable characters (only somewhat believable), and hard to put down. Since I have a audible.com account, and multiple credits saved up, I’ve now moved onto the next Covert-One Novel: The Cassandra Compact. Should I read more really good fiction? – Yeah; Do I still enjoy reading these novels? – Yeah.

3.5 out of 5 cups of black coffee.



5 Sentence Review: Money: God or Gift by Jamie Munson

money-gift-or-godI haven’t read a ton of books on Christian finance, but this has surely got to be one of the best. In Money: God or Gift, Jamie Munson clearly lays out the basic biblical principles regarding money in the Bible. The book is a quick read (think a couple of days), balanced in its thinking, cheap to buy (only $5 on kindle), theologically focused, practical in application, and includes discussion questions for group study and further probing. The end of the book has useful appendices for planning a budget and resources for further study. This would be my de facto book recommendation for those struggling with finances.

4 of 5 cups of black coffee


Brief Book Review: The Paris Option – Robert Ludlum

the-paris-optionIt would be an overstatement to say that Robert Ludlum is a great author; however, it would by lying to say that his books aren’t enjoyable too. My personal preference is to audiobook Ludlum’s writings in my free time. Am I learning anything? No. Is it a great way to escape and relax? Yes. Think 24 in book form. The best Ludlum book is still probably The Janson Directive. The most famous of his books are in the Bourne Series (great movies!). The Paris Option was decent, but again I’m reading (or in this case listening) for pure enjoyment. The Paris Option is part of a series of Ludlum books known as the “Covert One Novels.” Honestly, I didn’t know this when I began reading, but now that I do, I’m going back to listen to the first novel in the series. If you’ve got some time, check out Ludlum. If you’re not a book snob, you’ll probably enjoy it! At least it’s a way to get your Jack Bauer on in a post-Jack-Bauer-era.

3.5 of 5 Black Cups of Coffee