Review: Extinction Aftermath (Extinction Cycle Book 6) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Review:

ecycle6

Odds are, if you’re reading a review of this sixth installment in Nick Smith’s popular Extinction Cycle series, you’re already a fan and I won’t be able to tell you much you don’t already know. If you’ve not yet picked up any of these books, and provided that military horror thriller creature features are your bag, then you’ll want to stop here and proceed directly to the first book in this series, Extinction Horizon.

Extinction Aftermath picks up in the months following Extinction End, and Team Ghost, now under the leadership of Master Sergeant Joe “Fitz” Fitzsimmons, is preparing to invade Europe in an effort to quell the Variant threat overseas. Back at home, Reed Beckham is settling into civilian life with the very pregnant Dr. Kate Lovato, and President Ringgold is trying to stitch America back together through a series of Safe Zone Territories. Needless to say, everything goes to hell in a handbasket, and pretty darn quickly, too.

For my money, Aftermath just might be the best EC book yet, which says quite a bit about Smith’s growth as an author and thriller writer. This title hits a few sweet spots that I’ve been waiting for the series to tackle, particularly taking the war to Europe (we get plenty of well-staged action scenes in France) and the introduction of some quite interesting mutations on the Variant side of things. The cover gives you a good hint of what one such mutation Smith’s introduces is, but there’s a few others that are pretty spiffy.

More intriguing, though, is the sense of scope Aftermath possesses. Now that the war against the Variants has gone global, there’s a great sense of sprawling epicness to the story, with the action taking us from the shores of France, back home to Plum Island, Florida, and a few other locales. And the new threat facing America serves to heighten and propel the threats abroad to dangerous levels, while also raising the stakes for our series heroes considerably.

My only real complaint with Aftermath is the lack of resolution. Nearly every plot thread ends on a cliff-hanger, some bigger than others, making this book merely a prelude to the next novel, Extinction War. On the other hand, it’s not like I wasn’t going to continue on with this series regardless. Even if everything had been neatly wrapped up, I’d still be plunking down the cash for whatever Smith has lined up next. From the looks of it, Book 7 should certainly be a doozy.

 

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Review: Extinction Aftermath (Extinction Cycle Book 6) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Review: Order to Kill by Kyle Mills

mitchrapp-ambassador

 

Review:

order-to-kill-9781476783482_hr

When Mitch Rapp returned last year with the help of a new author following the death of his creator, Vince Flynn, I was initially skeptical. Kyle Mills proved to be an adept writer fully capable of handling Flynn’s characters though, and The Survivor won me over pretty quickly. Order to Kill proves that Mill’s prior effort was hardly a fluke or one-off. Mills is not only capable of taking on Flynn’s rough-and-ready CIA assassin, but shows he’s the natural heir apparent to continue this series for the foreseeable future.

This fifteenth installment, which picks up mere weeks after the finale of The Survivor, finds Mitch Rapp squaring off against a Russian assassin who is not only Rapp’s equal, but may be even better. This is framed within a story of rogue Pakistani nukes and ISIS idiots, and a particularly violent, and personal, attack that strikes close to Rapp’s heart when a mission goes awry.

The most important element here for me, and one that I think Mills did a superb job with, was making Rapp a bit more three dimensional and human. In his latter books, Flynn was turning Rapp into very nearly a caricature of his former self, with his with-me-or-against-me attitude and desire to kill anybody who dared to disagree with him. Mills, thankfully, has dialed that way back and we see a Mitch Rapp who may finally be emerging from the darkness brought on by his wife’s death and who isn’t afraid to feel. While this certainly is not a guy who will soon be crying into his cup o’ tea anytime soon, there are certain events that occur here to remind Rapp that he is at least human and we see a man now seeking to reconnect with the people around him after so many devastating losses.

It’s these losses that I feel also highlight Mills work over these last two books. The operators and assassins of these novels are certainly men and women who fit into the Hero Worship mold pretty easily, and there’s a lot of extrajudicial fantasy stuff that goes into them (somebody says something about the Constitution you don’t like? Well, just snap their neck and grab a can of Coke afterward! And while we’re on the fantasy aspect, the next time one of these jihadist morons refers to our Christian Constitution, could we please have Rapp correct that erroneous, much too-widespread misunderstanding of this secular document before cracking their skull apart?), but too often they feel like larger-than-life superheroes. Mills has been working hard to make these people human, and while the characters are unquestionably adept and skilled at their jobs, they can still be hurt (and quite badly, at that) and killed. The Survivor presented a big shake-up to the status quo, and Order to Kill packs a certain punch of its own kind with a long-time series regular in serious danger.

Thanks to Kyle Mills, Order to Kill is one of the best, and certainly most satisfying, Mitch Rapp novels in quite some time. With high-stakes action and some much-needed emotional development, and perhaps even a hint of romance to come, for our series hero, fans of Vince Flynn can rest easy with Mills at the helm.

[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title for review from the publisher, as part of their #MitchRappAmbassador Program.]

 

 

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Review: Order to Kill by Kyle Mills

Review: Javelin Rain by Myke Cole

Review:

Javelin_Rain

Myke Cole’s Gemini Cell was one of my favorite reads last year, so I was looking forward to Javelin Rain with a lot of excitement.

These two books comprise the opening gambit of a new trilogy that serves as a prequel to Cole’s Shadow Ops series (which I haven’t read, but since these are prequels they’re as good as place as any to start, I think), and like a number of middle entries, Javelin Rain struggles as its own entity. It has to continue the story began in Gemini Cell of Jim Schweitzer, an undead SEAL who has been resurrected by a secret cabal within the US military, and picks up literally seconds after the last page of the prior book. It also has to tell a story that progresses the overarching narrative without providing too much in the way of resolution (because that’s what book three in a trilogy is for!) while also serving as a satisfying entry in its own right.

Cole adheres to these points fairly solidly, but Javelin Rain gets a bogged down in its own elements. As a middle entry, it lacks the freshness of discovery the prior book possessed, and as a reader I’m no longer thrust into exciting, unfamiliar territory but instead get a lot of the same elements I was already familiar with. This book is basically Schwietzer On The Run In The Forest, and its a scenario that occupies a lot of pages. A side plot introduces Dadou, a new sorcerer inducted into the Gemini squad to kick up their capabilities a notch, and she’s a pretty cool character tasked with working alongside Jawid, resident Binder of souls to corpses. There relationship helps make Jawid a more interesting character here as Cole explores the depth of his religious fervor and the mental brainwashing of his faith.

Mostly, though, this book just lacked the excitement and freshness I found in last year’s novel. The action wasn’t quite as exciting, although Cole delivers a few welcome surprises here and there and lays out enough details to inch us toward the big finish in book three. If Gemini Cell was great (and I thought it was), then Javelin Rain is merely good. It’s readable, and leaves the characters in an interesting place, but it lacks energy. Still, I’m on-board for the long haul, even with slightly dampened enthusiasm.

 

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Review: Javelin Rain by Myke Cole

Review: Weapons of Mass Deception by David Bruns and J.R. Olson

WeaponsMass_CVR_LRGAbout Weapons of Mass Deception

May 14, 2015

Patriot Games meets The Fourth Protocol in this riveting story of modern-day nuclear terrorism.

In 2003, the world watched as coalition forces toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, then searched—unsuccessfully—for the weapons of mass destruction they were certain existed.

None were ever found, but they do exist. On the eve of the invasion, a handful of nuclear weapons was smuggled out of Iraq and hidden in the most unlikely of places—Iran.

Now, as the threat of WMDs fades into a late-night punch line, a shadowy Iranian faction waits for the perfect moment to unleash Saddam Hussein’s nuclear legacy on the West.

Brendan McHugh, a Navy SEAL, meets a mysterious Iranian diplomat on a raid in Iraq. His former girlfriend and FBI linguist discovers a link to Iran among a group of captured jihadis. And pulling it all together is a CIA analyst who can’t forget about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs—even if it costs him his career.


My Thoughts

[Note: I received an ARC of this novel from the authors in exchange for an honest review.]

Weapons of Mass Deception, a collaborative effort between two Navy guys, is a top-notch military thriller and one that I hope is only the beginning of a new series.

The book is filled with as much heart as it is technical know-how and first-hand experience from the authors in the realm of naval operations and military intelligence.

There is a lot of depth and many moving pieces to the narrative, which concerns Iraq’s fabled weapons of mass destruction. In the story, Saddam’s nuclear arms were very much real and smuggled out of Iraq and into Iran just days before the US invasion in 2003. What follows is a sprawling narrative involving a trio of Naval Academy graduates that the writers track across more than a decade as they settle into their various career paths and remain united by the central terrorist operations of a rogue Iranian Quds Force agent.

Co-authors Bruns and Olson bring a lot of knowledge to the table, having operated in the trenches of the US Navy and Commander Olson’s twenty-one years as a naval intelligence officer and U.S. Naval Attaché to Finland. There’s definitely an “insiders” feel to the level of detail and machinations in both the US Armed Forces and intelligence community, as well as the global operations of a terrorist network hellbent on achieving nuclear Armageddon.

There is also an added layer of heart thanks to the interpersonal relationships between the trio of US Naval Academy graduates and the rocky on-again, off-again love story between Brendan and Liz, the former a SEAL and the latter now working for the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. As the authors chart the lives of these two, as well as fellow Academy classmate turned CIA analyst Don Riley, over more than a decade of their careers, we really get to know each of them very well. The authors also spend a considerable amount of time developing their terrorists as well, particular Rafiq, which helps prevent the bad guys from being overly-simplistic, one dimensional stock villains. There’s a great amount of character development and depth across the board, along with a healthy dose of honor and mission-driven purpose on both sides of the aisle.

Fans of Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, or Nelson DeMille should feel right at home with this story of lost nukes, Navy SEALS, intelligence agency operatives, and up-to-minute global politics. This is a terrific addition to the line-up of military thrillers and should not be missed. Highly recommended.

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Review: Weapons of Mass Deception by David Bruns and J.R. Olson

Review: Extinction Horizon by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

extinctionCover1About Extinction Horizon

THE WORST OF NATURE AND THE WORST OF SCIENCE…
WILL BRING THE HUMAN RACE TO THE BRINK…
OF EXTINCTION

Master Sergeant Reed Beckham has led his Delta Force Team, codenamed Ghost, through every kind of hell imaginable and never lost a man. When a top secret Medical Corps research facility goes dark, Team Ghost is called in to face their deadliest enemy yet–a variant strain of Ebola that turns men into monsters.

After barely escaping with his life, Beckham returns to Fort Bragg in the midst of a new type of war. The virus is already spreading… As cities fall, Team Ghost is ordered to keep CDC virologist Dr. Kate Lovato alive long enough to find a cure. What she uncovers will change everything.
Total extinction is just on the horizon, but will the cure be worse than the virus?

About the Author

Nicholas Sansbury Smith is the author of several post-apocalyptic books and short stories. He worked for the State of Iowa for nearly 10 years before switching careers to focus on his one true passion–writing. When he isn’t daydreaming about the apocalypse he’s likely racing in triathlons around the Midwest. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his family and several rescued animals.If you’d like to hear more about Nick’s books, you can join his spam free mailing list here: http://bit.ly/NicholasSansburySmith.Or visit Nick at: http://nicholassansbury.com.

My Thoughts

[I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.]
Reading a Nicholas Sansbury Smith novel is like watching an epic big-screen, end of the world action flick. The plot is high-concept, the story is visceral, and the heroes are nicely etched and worth rooting for. It’s the sort of book that propels the reader forward with every page, and demands to be read in a single sitting because it’s just so damn uncompromisingly addicting.
I came upon Smith’s Orbs novels on NetGalley a few months back and pegged him as an author to watch out for. With his latest, Extinction Horizon, the first in a new series, he fully lives up to the promise exhibited in those earlier novels. And, dare I say, I think I like this book even more than its (entirely unrelated) predecessors.
Extinction Horizon is a real rip-roaring techno-thriller, and it hits all those delicious sweet spots that I tend to favor – there’s a dose of credible-enough science and a team of scientists, working alongside well-trained US soldiers, to solve a nightmarish end-times scenario, and grisly, tense, rapid-fire action throughout. This is a James Rollins level of fun, and it’s a genre I absolutely love. Smith’s elevator pitch for the novel is The Hot Zone meets World War Z, and if it’s certainly an apt description (and, frankly, if that doesn’t grab your attention, I have no idea what will).
Given the recent over-reactions regarding the Ebola outbreak Stateside, this is also a very timely work. The plot revolves around modifying Ebola with another potent, top-secret viral weapon, to create an even deadlier pathogen. And, of course, that works out about as well as you would expect it to… The nasty bits start flying, and yada, yada, yada, there’s a zombie-like outbreak tearing across the globe and destroying humanity. I really enjoyed Smith’s take on the infected, and zombie is probably too simplistic a comparison. Think of something zombie-like crossed with a little bit of the flukeman from The X-Files, with incredible strength and reflexes. They’re a legitimately gonzo, hostile threat.
Extinction Horizon is a white-knuckle thrill ride, filled with action and loads of suspense. I absolutely loved it, and cannot wait to see what comes next. Highly Recommended!
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Review: Extinction Horizon by Nicholas Sansbury Smith