We bring you a break from your regularly scheduled programming…

Courtesy of wikipediaSo I felt like doing something outside my usual milieu of urban fantasy and talk about one of my all time favorite authors, Clive Cussler. More specifically, his book Inca Gold. I’ve been reading Clive Cussler for about twenty years now (ouch, I’m old! Well, older) and he’s still a great author. This book is one of my favorites of his.

Like all of Clive’s books, we start back in time, to a piece of ‘forgotten history’ involving the Inca, the Chachapoyas and the Spanish. We’ll start with Sir Francis Drake, who is one of my all time favorite historical figures, ever since I did a report on him in the fourth grade. 🙂 Drake has plundered a couple of Spanish vessels during his circumnavigation of the globe and found a magnificent collection of Inca artifacts. He sends one ship back around to the Straits of Magellan while he takes the rest of the plunder with him. The other ship never makes it, having run afoul of a tidal wave that leaves it stranded deep ashore. On board that particular ship is a quipu, a type of proto record that the Inca created using a series of knots in ropes. Obviously a very basic description, but click the link for more details.

Anyway, this quipu is the key to finding a long lost Inca treasure. Its a detailed map of the journey that a secret group of Inca troops made in order to hide this treasure from greedy Spanish conquistadors (and really, those guys were pretty greedy). Fast-forward about 400 years and an archaeologist and her team are excavating a sacrificial pool high in the Andes when they run into trouble under the water. Coming to the rescue are Cussler’s main heroes, Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino, who are working relatively nearby on a NUMA project. They fly in with their scuba equipment and come to the rescue, luckily finding Dr. Shannon Kelsey and her companion alive.

Lucky, that is, until the whole lot are kidnapped and marched through the jungle while Dirk is left to drown in the sacrificial pool. Of course, the bad guys underestimate Dirk’s tenacity. He climbs free with the help of a few items on his dive belt. Once he recovers at the destroyed base camp, he tracks Al and the others through the jungle.

Its a long, hard slog to catch up with and then rescue his friends. Dirk and Al manage to steal a military helicopter to get away from the bad guys. Military because the bad guys are antiquities thieves who have their sticky fingers in all levels of the Peruvian government in order to ease their smuggling, including the clout to order military intervention on two NUMA people and a number of untrained archaeologists and students.

Long story short, they get away but not without injuries and shenanigans. The adventure doesn’t end there. They just scratched the tip of the iceberg on a huge art and antiquities smuggling ring. Its a race to find what the bad guys are after, a literal treasure trove of Incan artifacts that could add to the knowledge of the short lived empire. This race will take Dirk and Al all over the US, Peru and Mexico.

The thing I really like about Cussler is that his adventures are fairly believable. Sure there are things that make you go yeah right but they aren’t really egregious things like supernatural creatures. Its more like I don’t believe that as being possible for the science of the time. At any rate, Inca Gold is one of my all time favorite books and one of the first that got me rereading books. Can you believe I used to be a one-and-done type of girl? What was I thinking?! At any rate, if you’re looking for something different from your usual, give Clive Cussler a shot. And if you like vintage automobiles like I do, definitely give his books a shot. There will be at least one new vintage car in each book! Rating: A+

Incidentally, the National Underwater and Marine Agency from his books is a real agency. Clive Cussler was behind the raising of the C.S.S. Hunley, so if you love old ships and shipwrecks, check them out. And again, if you like vintage autos, check out the Cussler Museum. One day, I will get there!

Ghost Finders

Courtesy of goodreads.comSo I love Simon R. Green. He’s one of my all time favorite authors. It saddens me that he’s wrapping up his amazing series before he’d planned to because he has diabetes and he’s afraid he’ll leave his fans hanging. I’m not sure if his diabetes is currently manageable or life threatening, but its sad that he feels he has to do that. On the other hand, when it comes to his Ghost Finders series…I’m kinda okay with it. I’d classify this more as an urban horror/fantasy than a straight up urban fantasy novel, if only because Simon R. Green can get amazingly graphic with his descriptions.

The Ghost Finders work for the Carnacki Institute. Their job is to deal with ghosts and all ghostly related situations in Britain. Apparently this is quite the job. Our three main characters are JC Chance, “Happy” Jack Palmer and Melody Chambers. JC is your typical smooth, charming leader type. In the first book, he gets touched by something from the Outside and now hides a strange golden gaze with a pair of sunglasses.

Happy Jack isn’t very happy at all. Its an ironic nickname, like calling a tall man Tiny. Happy is a telepath, a very strong one. He’s also a coward, and the combination leads to him trying everything and anything chemical to be able to live with himself and the voices he hears. He’s currently sleeping with teammate Melody Chambers, who firmly believes that her tech can do and should do everything they could possibly think of on a mission. And she gets mighty pissed when it doesn’t. She’s a kick-ass tech geek who doesn’t take anyone’s shit.

I like those three characters. I like the dialogue he gives them and the way that he writes them as a dysfunctional buy loyal team. Their cases, though, are only mildly interesting. And there’s some sort of overarching conspiracy going on that I just can’t be arsed to care about. He could wrap this series up tomorrow honestly. I’ll still read it, but it’s more of a ‘Oh, I don’t have anything else to read and there’s a new Ghost Finders out’ sort of way than a ‘OMG, new Simon R. Green!’ sort of way.

If you really want good Simon R. Green, go for the Deathstalker series, the Nightside series and the Secret Histories series. Oh, and Hawk & Fisher natch. The nice thing about Simon is that all of his stories are subtly connected. Its amazing. Every time I read one of his books and he’s slipped in something from another novel, I have a fan girl squee moment. So, those are great. The Ghost Finders? I’d say Rating: CNot great but not unreadable.

Rylee Adamson

Book one cover. Courtesy of goodreads.comWell work has been craaaaaaaaaazy lately so now I’m back, missing a week. Still, it gave me time to read a few books. And by few I mean five. Granted they’ve all been just about 300 pages, which is kind of short for my usual fare, but still. Five books. Well, five and a half. I picked up Shannon Mayer’s Rylee Adamson arc because the first four books were on sale for .99 cents each on Amazon recently. They may be short but they’re interesting.

Rylee Adamson is a Tracker. That is what she was born to do. She has not been and never will be human, though she didn’t know that when she was little and her abilities kicked in. She’s had a tough life, abandoned by her parents and her sister missing, presumed dead at a young age. That’s why Rylee does what she does. She uses her innate ability to track any creature (human or supernatural) to find missing children when the police can’t do anything. She doesn’t always get them back alive, but she will bring them back to their parents. She also happens to be Immune to pretty much any magic or poison. Not all, though. But it would have to be incredibly strong to get through her natural immunity.

With her in this world is werewolf Alex. Alex was a pretty meek and mild human when he received the bite. Unlike most fantasy books where once bitten, you become super aggressive simply by virtue of being a werewolf, the bite in this universe just enhances your natural characteristics. So Alex is strong, fast, heals quickly and has enhanced senses…but he’s incredibly submissive. And not in a sexual way. And because he’s so submissive, he doesn’t have the power to fully shift between human and wolf. He’s stuck in between.

There’s also Milly, an incredibly powerful witch. She and Rylee grew up together, adopted by a Reader named Giselle. Milly is a bad person all around. She’s a literal home wrecker, seducing the leader of a local coven and arranging the death of his wife. Betraying Rylee and Giselle. Trying to kill Alex, a harpy named Eve and Rylee’s love interest, a former FBI agent turned werewolf Liam O’Shea.

There are Shamans and Druids, cat shifters and ogres, trolls and giants, dragons and vampires. There are Readers, who can see glimpses of the future, which also tends to drive them mad. Unicorns travel in herds called crushes and are a lot more bad ass than most fantasy novels make them out to be. Also, they don’t really have a thing for virgins. Oaths are taken incredibly seriously and breaking them has repercussions, which is a common theme amongst most fantasy novels.

Rylee isn’t quite as naturally gullible as a lot of female fantasy novel leads tend to be, but she is easy to play. Because she’s an orphan who found herself a family, if you threaten them, you can get her to do what you want. She’ll also do her level best to kill you for it so you’ll really have to decide if that’s worth it.

If you’re looking for a quick, fun read, these books are for you. Like I said, I’ve made my way through five and a half in about a week. Then again, I’m a crazy fast reader. Rating: A-. There are some cliche bits but when isn’t there these days?