Tag Archives: military thriller

Code Name Atlas by Tony Evans

Code Name Atlas by Tony Evans

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Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Thriller/Sci-Fi

Rating: **** Four Stars

Pages: 310

Veteran Author: Yes, Army

Availability:

Kindle: YES Nook: Yes Smashwords: NO Paperback: YES

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Author:

Tony Evans is an American writer of science fiction. He is a military veteran who completed a tour in Iraq conducting more than 50 combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he recieved the Army Commendation Medal. He has a bachelors degree in Computer Science. His debut novel is Code Name Atlas.”

Description:

“Atlas is a war hero caught between his wife’s love or saving the survivors of earth. Earth has been destroyed by unknown forces leaving it in ruins. The closest thing to organized leadership is the packs of scavengers that take what they want. To keep his wife safe he builds an army. To give her the life she wants he fights. To win back their home he must go to war. But, she doesn’t believe that his sacrifice is for her and his selflessness is driving them apart. As he struggles for his wife’s devotion he is caught in a war with a tyrannical dictator. To win the war and his wife safety he must give her up and fight a war where defeat is expected. To fight a dictator he must become a warlord.

Hovering over everything is the threat of an alien invasion which Atlas slowly pieces together through unreliable stories told by the survivors. He soon learns that his fight is only a small part in a war that has been raging for hundreds of years and reaches throughout the galaxy.

A gritty and realistic feel blends with minimal use of science fiction elements to create a rich, believable contemporary story of one soldier’s heart-wrenching post-apocalyptic journey to keep his family alive.”

My Two Cents:

A breath of fresh air during the end of the world.

Definitely a new twist on the post-apocalyptic thriller genre. I mean, the hero’s girl isn’t supposed to resent him for being a hero and the good guys always win, right? From the big to small twists, this tale bucks every rule of action adventure. The bad guys are sympathetic and the good guys have a dark side.

This is no prepper tale of survival, but a military veteran’s take on rebuilding the world. As such, it stresses discipline, organization and teamwork over heroics. All with several mysteries hanging over the survivors… and did I mention the aliens?

My only real complaint is that these huge questions, there’s a lot of them, don’t get wrapped up until the end. Some of the most interesting tidbits come only in the final chapter. Sure, the best is saved for last, but I wonder why?

Still, a fun and different book that’s well worth the read.

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Into Darkness by Richard Fox

Into Darkness by Richard Fox

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Genre: Spy/Military Thriller

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Estimated word count: 95,000 words

Availability:

Kindle:  YES  Nook: NO Smashwords: NO Paperback: YES

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Author:

“Upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Richard Fox began his decade-long service in the US Army as a Field Artillery and Military Intelligence officer. During that time, he served two fifteen-month tours in Iraq and was awarded the Combat Action Badge, the Bronze Star, and a Presidential Unit Citation.

Drawing upon his personal experiences, Fox infuses authentic details regarding the people, customs, languages, and ever-present threat of death that US Soldiers encountered while serving in the Iraq War.

He lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona, with his incredible wife and two-year-old son, an amazing child bent on anarchy.”

Author’s Facebook page

Description:

“A deadly ambush leaves two Soldiers in al-Qaeda hands. With few leads to follow, a covert arm of the CIA called the Caliban Program charges Captain Eric Ritter to help rescue the missing men. Despite his reservations with the CIA’s “by any means necessary” methods, Ritter accepts the mission.

Once embedded with an infantry company deep inside enemy territory, Ritter must keep his true allegiance hidden from his brother-in-arms, Captain Greg Shelton. Shelton leads the search for his missing Soldiers while maintaining the high moral standards required of every Army officer, standards at odds with Ritter’s mandate. Deceiving his comrade is Ritter’s first step down a dark road paved with good intentions.

The terrorist responsible for the kidnappings, Mukhtar, is Ritter’s old enemy—an enemy Ritter thought was dead. Mukhtar is the local emir for al-Qaeda, and has enough fighters and willing suicide bombers to rule his piece of Iraq with a bloody fist. When Mukhtar learns that Ritter is within striking distance, he vows to settle the vendetta he’s carried against Ritter for years.

War and politics make for strange bedfellows, and Ritter finds an unlikely ally in Abu Ahmet, an Iraqi insurgent. While Abu Ahmet proves useful, Ritter suspects he may have American blood on his hands.

The harder Ritter tries to uphold the honor and integrity of the United States Army, the more he finds himself betraying those who are closest to him—and turning to more and more extreme methods of extracting information to track down the kidnapped Soldiers. Torture, murder, and ugly compromise push Ritter further from his oaths as an officer and into the arms of the Caliban Program.

Written in the brutally honest voice of one who has lived it, Fox’s experiences bring an edge of pathos to the book reminiscent of All Quiet on the Western Front, The Things They Carried, and The Yellow Birds.”

My Two Cents:

Spy thriller, war story, mystery adventure- all those labels fit this tale, but still don’t do it justice. Perhaps, as a vet myself, I’m somewhat biased and overly impressed by the author’s attention to detail and willingness to tackle tough subjects. Into Darkness pulls no punches and sharply contrasts “Big Army politics” with the field realities of fighting a 21st century insurgency.

This is no jingoistic, “America rocks” story. Due to the complicated nature of each character, I’m still not sure who really was the bad guy. The Al Qaeda warlord or the supposed hero? The author neither glorifies nor laments modern war; he simply shows it how it really goes down. The tongue-in-cheek writing style and the shadowy organization pulling strings behind the scenes prevents the reader from becoming lost in the war though. This also helps keep the story fresh and racing along.

I found the ending a little too dark for my personal tastes. The main character’s personal development arc is also incredibly steep. To the point where you get annoyed with him for becoming an extremist. Of course, isn’t that a hallmark of great writing? These aren’t simple characters; both the “good” and “bad” people truly come alive. It’s very hard to stay emotionally disconnected!

FYI:

Of all the military fiction I’ve ever read, none has captured the realism and immediacy of this book. The writer struck a fine balance between appealing to veterans and lay-folk alike. Details of weapons and tactics are watered down enough so as not to drown people in acronyms, but the meticulous detailing of every minor aspect of day-to-day deployment life gives vets that “he gets it” flavor they crave.

By the way, if you feel you’re missing the back story, check out the author’s short story prequel:

The Caliban Program

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Mythical (Stone Soldiers Series) by C.E. Martin

Mythical (Stone Soldiers Series) by C.E. Martin

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Genre: Paranormal/Military Thriller

Rating: ***** Five Stars (for a novella)

Estimated word count: 48,000 words

Availability:

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Author:

“C.E. Martin resides in the midwest with his wife and two daughters.

After serving four years in the USAF, C.E. returned to the midwest in 1994. Toiling by day as a civil servant, C.E. enjoys classic pulp novels and B Movies in his spare time. When not writing, C.E. can be found lurking around the internet or on Xbox Live–when his kids let him have the TV.”

My Two Cents:

This was surprisingly entertaining. Maybe I just went in with lowered expectations for a paranormal novella, but I was impressed. Mythical is set in an alternative timeline where “superheroes” are a mundane, and often pathetic, part of everyday life. That small percentage of the population with superhuman abilities pretty much all do contractor work for the government… or are hunted down by them.

To further live up to the title, the author tosses in magic, alternate universes, commandos, the entire menu of mythical creatures, ancient legends… even Medusa makes an appearance.

Despite being an action thriller, there’s also quite a bit of character introspection and slow suspense building. Personally, I found some of the dangers comically ridiculous (a dragon?!), but that doesn’t distract too much from the story.

Overall, this well-polished and professionally edited novella rates 5 stars, but with a caveat: only when compared to other novellas in its genre: paranormal military thrillers.

As is standard practice in this industry, I received a free review copy of this book.

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Review of 3 YEARS AFTER… by G. R. Mountjoy

3 Years After… (A Military and Zombie Apocalypse Series) by G. R. Mountjoy

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Genre: Sci-Fi

Rating: *** Three stars  

Estimated word count: 44,000 words

Availability    

Kindle:  YES   Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paperback: YES

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Author:

 “G.R. Mountjoy was born in Indianapolis, IN in 1974. He went to the Franklin Central High School and Graduated in 1993. Upon graduation he enlisted in the United States Army, and was stationed at Fort Bragg N.C. as a member of the Scout Platoon in 1/504 PIR. He spent 14 years in the Army with various assignments that included the Infantry, Aviation, and Recruiting. He has been stationed in Georgia, New York, North Carolina, South Korea, and on the island of Great Exhuma Bahamas. He medically retired from a simple kidney stone surgery gone bad. His interests include science fiction reading, movies, golf, and sports. He is an avid sports fan, loves the Chicago Cubs, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Indiana Hoosiers, Indianapolis Colts, and Alabama Crimson Tide. He is married to his wife and has a daughter with another child on the way.”

Description:

“3 Years After” is a story about a Special Forces team put together to help our nation in a most fragile time. The post 9/11 world has forced the United States government to develop new ways to fight and counter terrorism. During the initial testing of the latest technological breakthrough, Time Travel, a catastrophic failure occurs. This strands the test team three years into the future. They are greeted by a new world which has been decimated by war and infested by zombies.

Will the team and humanity survive?

Do they figure out what happened in time?

This is the new version that has been edited.”

My Two Cents:

Mr. Mountjoy really tries to give the reader everything at once: zombies, time travel, a commando story and post-apocalyptic world rebuilding. He comes agonizingly close to pulling it all off. With a bit more detail- the book is too short- this might have been an instant cult classic.

A mixed team of different high speed operators are assembled for a “secret project” that lands them 3 years into the future… just after the zombie apocalypse. They spend surprisingly little time worrying about that, shrug their shoulders and set off on a mission across the country to link up with the remnants of the US Government. Along the way they slaughter zombies by z-bucket full, of course. Where it gets really interesting is how they unite various bandit and survivor groups and inspire hope in the pockets of the scattered human resistance. A fun improvement to the simple survival tale.

What’s disappointing is that you never feel the warriors are in real danger. They’re armed to the teeth, are always conveniently given excellent intel ahead of trouble and are just way too lucky.

Now, the action is incredibly fast paced and does flow quite naturally, but when that speed is combined with the lack of real stress for the heroes I just couldn’t get really excited or emotionally invested. That said, the author’s character dialogue is spectacular. Earthy and real, without being over-the-top macho. I bet they’ll remind you closely of people you know.

All in all, an entertaining read. The flaws are not deal breakers; this book is worth the time. This book is one heck of a teaser for the rest of the series. I’ll most definitely read the next one.

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