Monday, December 15, 2014

Authors Read 1 Star Reviews

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014 Review

Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014

Rich Horton

Diamond Book Distributors

Pub Date: Jun 10 2014

4/5 Stars


         So I always have some trouble with anthologies; I should probably be used to reviewing them by now.  But I haven’t gotten there quite yet.  But here we go…

          There are plenty of cool stories in this collection but here are my favorites, in no particular order:

                  A Stranger from a Foreign Ship, Tom Purdom

                  Effigy Nights, Yoon Ha Lee

                  Rosary and Goldenstar, Geoff Ryman

                  The Bee Her Heart, The Hive Her Belly. Benjanun Sriduangkaew

                  Dragonslayer of Merebarton, K.J.Parker

                  Loss, with Chalk Diagrams. E.Lily Yu

                  They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass, Alaya Dawn Johnson

                  A Window or a Small Box, Jedediah Berry

                  Live Arcade, Erik Amundsen

                  Found, Alex Dally MacFarlane

                  A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel, Ken Liu

                  It’s the End of the World as We Know It, and We Feel Fine, Harry Turtledove

                  The Dead Sea-Bottom Scrolls, Howard Waldrop

                  Out in the Dark, Linda Nagata

                  On the Origin of Song, Naim Kabir

                  Town’s End, Yukimi Ogawa

                  The Discovered Country, Ian R. MacLeod


               What I found so exciting and interesting about most of these stories is that they are so original, different from most of what is out there right now.  I also found the fact that the best stories are written by authors who have only written short stories or at least are only famous for writing short stories.  Some of the stories are seeming, at least to me, a tipping off point for any number of novels.  I’m kind of amazed that NONE of the authors that had my most favorite stories had never written in the longer form.  But perhaps that’s why these stories were so well crafted and interesting.  I would certainly recommend that anyone with a descent amount time, picks up these short story collection.




Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab(Preview)



A Darker Shade of Magic (Preview Excerpt)

V.E. Schwab


Pub Date: Feb 24 2015


     Kell is a traveler.  One of the last.  He is a magician who can move through parallel dimensions.  He is little more than an errand boy for the powers that be.  Whether it’s the Royalty of Red London, where there is magic to spare, the wastes of Grey London where magic is almost just a memory, or the war torn White London where magic is drained from people as if they were vampires because it is so precious.  But in these strange places there is something even worse coming.  Something to do with the Final London; Black London.  Where the magic ran so chaotic and rampant that it destroyed everything.  How is this all connected?  What does it have to with Kell?  And what part does the thief Lila have to play in all of this?  Well, I guess we will have to read the Darker Shade of Magic to find out.

     I read probably about one hundred pages of Darker Shade of Magic and I have to say that it one of the most engaging books I’ve read this year.  I found it very difficult to put down and I couldn’t help be completely lost in the worlds of the three Londons.  I love the mysteries that seem to lie just out of the reach of the reader.  The sheer talent that oozes from every page of this book, speaks to the master writer who created Vicious.  Given Victoria Schwab’s obvious talent; it isn’t hard to imagine that this book will be even more of an adventure than it has already hinted at.  I cannot wait until February to read to this book, which this preview read has made this book my #1 Must Read book of 2015!  It should be yours as well…

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

And Now for Something Completely Different(Doctor Who Season 8 and some History)(Spoilers for Season 8 AHEAD)


    When I was young, there was no internet, no cellphones, and very few TV channels.  I think back then we had around 100 channels on our cable when we had cable(it was rather expensive).  But back then we had Doctor Who.  Yes, it was on PBS and they were all reruns.  In fact, I don’t think I’d seen any Doctor but Tom Baker, until I was around 12 or so.  I watched it rather religiously, or at least as religiously as you could when it was on half of the year, every other Saturday night at Midnight.  Which is when I would use my VCR to tape them.  Anyway, back then the Doctor was incredibly niche and looking back on those shows now; they were horribly campy.  I probably would not be able to sit through an original Doctor Who episode all the way through, these days;except maybe Tom Baker(you’re awesome man).

    However, our little article here concerns Tom Baker and the history of Doctor Who coincidentally.  I recently watched the latest episode of the Doctor and it just broke me.  Not because it was so bad, but because it was SO GOOD and the rest of the entire season has been so horribly awful in comparison.  I don’t have BBCA or BBC, so I have to buy every episode or buy them all on BluRay(which is VERY EXPENSIVE).  So I buy them on a season pass from Amazon(about half the price of bluray).  So when I speak about the quality of a show, please ladies and gentlemen who don’t pay for each episode(LUXURY), don’t give me platitudes about how hard I am on this show or other…

     The season finale part 1, was one of the best episodes of Doctor Who I’ve seen this year and for that matter the one thing it did that made me most excited was that it reintroduced the Master.  But perhaps, the showrunners don’t understand what they have done here.  The Master did appear in a couple of strange appearances in first couple of seasons of the new Doctors.  I mention this because the New Doctors have DEFINTIELY taken some liberties with the core story.  But hey, they are the ones who now say what’s canon; so far be it from me to complain(except I usually do).

     That Master, lasted I believe two or three episodes and he killed himself.  That gentleman is pictured below…

      He wasn’t much of a villain, mostly because he was insane.  Which was a trait from the original Master.  Except that the original Master wanted to destroy all the Time Lords and become the ruler of the entirety of Space and Time.  Which I believe he thought was possible somehow.  The new Doctor’s version, I believe wanted to rule the earth and then decided maybe he would rather destroy all of space and time.  Not as interesting…

     The original Master was incredibly intelligent and had his own crazy cool Tardis.  It could camouflage itself into the environment and back then there was also mention that he could control how and when he regenerated.  He was usually trying to either kill the Doctor or get him to join his cause.  Which he felt made sense, as the Doctor stole his Tardis and became a rogue to the Time Lords.  He certainly wouldn’t have given a rat’s tail about earth(all his stories were set on earth, which is the new Doctor’s envogue place to be).There was also some mention of the Master and the Doctor knowing each other back at the Academy on Gallifrey.  The Doctor explained that the chameleon circuit in his own Tardis was busted and that he liked the Police Box anyway.  He never mentioned the regenerating but this too appears in a New Doctor episode with Matt Smith and River Song.

    What wonderful lore, right?  Well the man pictured above had none of these traits.  He was just crazy and had some inexplicable powers and even though with the second appearance they tried to back pedal with this a little the damage was already done and the Master was just a minor bump in the road for the new Doctor.

     So that brings us to the season 8’s Season Finale Part 1.  We find out at the end that…


      It is spectacular and cool.  But yes, folks we are still on Earth and like I said, what does the Master care about earth?  No idea…  Anyway, the episode wasn’t most well done Doctor Who ever(I miss Matt Smith).  And their first interaction is a little strange and disjointed which I guess points back to his insanity.  But it is the first sign of life in this meandering train wreck that has been more about Clara’s love life than about “Righting the Wrongs of the Past!”  Which was what it was supposed to be about.  I frankly love Jenna Coleman, I think Clara is an awesome character.  But I think Danny Pink is boring and unnecessary in a season which had no real high points except in a couple of philosophical question shows that felt absolutely so contrived that you could read,”We have a moral for the story.”  In the end credits!  That’s not Doctor Who people, I’ve been watching Doctor Who for around 20 years now and I can tell you that Doctor Who is primarily:

     Other worlds

     Non-violent solutions to problems

     Cool and sometimes cheesy monsters

       (And recently)

     Awesome Companions that are more interesting than the Doctor himself sometimes


     Peter Capaldi seems to be a master of holding back.  He is such a good actor and he is being used so poorly here.  He and Jenna have virtually no chemistry and you can see it from the very first episode.  Although that episode was definitely in the top 3 episodes of the season.  What were my favorites in this bad season?

      Deep Breath(episode 1)

      Deep Water(episode 11)

      Mummy on the Orient Express(episode 8)

    Exactly in the order!  Mummy would have been a bad episode in a regular season but at least it wasn’t some world ending catastrophe that had a very lame and blunted conclusion(just because).

     So what am I saying with this?  I cannot believe we just had a 11 episode season of Doctor Who with 2 good episodes and on that was just OK.  And another 8 episodes that were just crap!  What is going on with this show?  I thought things were going to get better but they just stayed the same.  There are critics that want the show to move away from it’s roots.  But if they move ANY MORE AWAY from their roots the show won’t be Doctor Who.  It will be “Some Alien guy and some human fly around time and space and do stupid stuff.”  Because frankly people, that is what it is starting to become now.  Doctor Who needs to embrace it’s roots and get back to themes that Matt Smith and David Tennant had in their stays as the Doctor.  Because those were epic shows, that here and there had a misstep.  Not all missteps with shots of brilliance occasionally sneaking in.  I have loved the show overall, and everyone has a bad season.  But I just don’t understand the direction that this season was heading in; what was the purpose?  For me to care about Danny Pink or for me to care about his relationship with Clara?  Or for me to care about her feelings for him?  Sorry didn’t work…

    Well, I guess there is always the Christmas episode, right????

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Hobbit: What Peter Jackson did right and what Tolkien couldn’t have understood…

            When I was twelve, I read the Lord of the Rings.  It was one of the best books I’d ever read.  This book was probably what put me on the road to loving fantasy fiction.  I had also read the Hobbit way back then as well.  But I have to admit my memory of it was lacking when I saw the first of the Peter Jackson movies.  I also remember the animated film of it quite a bit better than any of the written material.  However, recently due to beginning to play Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.  I decided to reread all of the books, just to have a better idea of the more detailed world.  Also, I felt like Alexa Ray Corriea probably knows more about the works or J.R.R.Tolkien than I do and I I can’t have that(just kidding Alexa).  But enough backstory.  Suffice it to say that I recently finished the Hobbit and I’ve seen both of the released Peter Jackson Hobbit movies.  I also, just started the Lord of the Rings, which seems just as good as I remembered.  But the Hobbit was a completely different story.

            The Hobbit is not a very long book; around 300 pages or so depending on your edition.  Too long for a single movie, which is probably why Peter Jackson broke it into three.  However, the movies and the book hardly bare much of a resemblance to each except in extremely broad strokes.  I won’t go blow by blow here.  Rather I will make some assertions to reveal some of the more obvious problems correlating the two works.

            Many people feel that the Peter Jackson movie is a bad imitation of the book.  Many people feel that Peter Jackson, has changed the plot and themes of the Hobbit to more easily run into the Lord of the Rings; rather than just the prologue that it was never meant to be until the Lord of the Rings was done to begin with.  Peter Jackson has already explained that the movies are a combination of the original story along with some things from the annotations, appendices, and so on.  The first and second movies were great in the sense that they do work well in the themes and tone of the Lord of the Rings movies.  The actual action of the plot was also wonderful.  Not in correlation with the novel, but on it’s own.  Which is a very good thing, because a faithful retelling of the Hobbit in the 21st Century would certainly flop.

            The Hobbit, the novel; is not a well written or plottedl.  The book is not interesting to the modern reader at all.  Less happens than in a similar book of that length.  Also, very few of the characters, even the heroes are interesting or very heroic.  The main characters of the Hobbit are Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf.  The dwarves are not in anyway heroic or very interesting.  Other than Thorin and Balin, they are little more than a list of names that Tolkien continuously goes over.  Tolkien takes any chance to go over the names.  I don’t know why, but he does this at least two dozen times in the book.  I don’t know what he found so fascinating about creating situations where he could do this.  But every single time, it takes the reader out of the story completely.  The Elves are proud and a bit apathetic.  They are little more than wraiths and even when things go well toward the end; there was little to discover about the Elvish race in the Hobbit.  All you know about dwarves by the end is that they are a bit dishonest, very cowardly, and very greedy.  Men fair little better.  The Bard is the only man who really fairs well in the Hobbit.  Bilbo and Gandalf are really the only characters who come off as heroic.  Gandalf less than Bilbo.  I’m not sure why Tolkien had this animosity toward people in general, whether a made up race or his own.  But it seemed like he was quick to point out people’s flaws and slow to show their strengths.  Even the hobbits, who he seemed to love above all others, were shown in less than a flattering light most of the time.

             Now, the Peter Jackson movies are a completely different story.  From the tidbits and pieces that they must have gleaned from the appendices and such.  They created not only one plot but three.  Probably because they were making three movies.  But creating these plots and characters make the movies much more interesting and far more modern than the book.  The book on the whole is rather boring and the fact that majority of the book takes place over months rather than the way the movies run over probably a few days.  The pacing of the two is what I’m considering here.  While the movies may be argued to move too quickly; it is hard to argue that the book does not move far too slowly.  The slow movement gives the narrator lots of time to make the characters complain about their lot.  Which I found rather funny considering they aren’t saving the world.  They are going after a dragon’s gold.  So why complain?  If you don’t want to do it anymore, don’t.  This was also quite prevalent in the book, that one could simply give up and go back home.  Yes they hundreds of miles from home, but I guess they just jump on the Middle Earth Mass Transit and go home.  If you are in the middle of no where hundreds of miles from home; you really don’t have the option to just give up.  But it certainly seemed a constant theme.

           I found myself being less and less sympathetic toward Biblo, the more he complained.  I also felt the dwarves, especially some that were little more than names, were even less sympathetic considering it was kind of a,”fair weather friend,” situation.  Where in, they were more than up for anything as long as it was easy and didn’t involve any danger.  These maybe relatively realistic responses from the average person, but not something I want in my fantasy fiction protagonists.  Also, I would say that in retrospect; not seeing EVERY SINGLE travel sequence played out in the movies is wonderful.  Because there is practically no benefit in them; in the book they just add to the word count.

            One of the other things that sticks out toward the end of the book; are some of the insinuations about the “dragon’s hoard effect” or “dragon’s gold fever.”  Both of these referring to people who get a bunch of gold and then worry that people are going to try and steal it from them.  So they go off and start killing people or making life miserable for their fellow man in the pursuit of keeping all the gold for themselves.  Which is mentioned but never explained in the story. In the Peter Jackson film there is definitely this effect on the Arkenstone.  So much so, that it almost mirrors the effect of the One Ring. But much like many other things in the book, people seem to be the only ones susceptible to this.  Being that dwarves seem to act this way anyway, dragon’s gold or no dragon’s gold.   The Arkenstone is rather a small thing in the book, a kind of postscript, or icing on the cake of betrayal and greed that the final few chapters show.  But in the movies it is much more prominent and rather than creating non-heroes which was what the book seemed to be trying to do.  The movie tries to make corrupted heroes.  Which, personally, I prefer.  I would rather a heroic person become corrupted than make a relatively relatable character greedy and cowardly for the sake of the story.

            I think many people remember the Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien from their childhood and probably remember it a certain way.  Which I can certainly agree with and relate to.  I wish I hadn’t read the book as an adult.  Because in there I didn’t find a wonderful children’s book that filled my mind with wonder.  Rather a poorly written book about people who just wanted gold and didn’t care what they did to get that gold or who was hurt in the process.  There is a lot more that I could say about the novel version of the Hobbit but suffice it to say none of it would be good.  I think J.R.R Tolkien did an excellent job with his first book and certainly the first REAL example of Epic Fantasy.  But by modern standards the Lord of the Rings is far more like what we expect from Fantasy Fiction today.  Perhaps, back in the 60s people just took books at surface value, especially those aimed at children and didn’t discuss them properly.  Also, I feel this may have been one of those instances of adults getting one message from the book and children getting another.  Much like Chronicles of Narnia.  It also could be just another example of some things not holding up with age.  I don’t believe I read about a single female character in the entirety of the book for instance.  But again, I could speak at length about what Tolkien did right and wrong.  Suffice it to say; I applaud the creativity and earnestness of Peter Jackson; because if in twenty years everyone remembers the Hobbit the way he portrayed it and not the way Tolkien did, we will all be better off.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fire in the Blood Book Review

Fire in the Blood

Erin M. Evans

Wizards of the Coast

Pub Date: Oct 14 2014

4/5 Stars


          When I heard that Erin Evans was doing a sequel to Adversary I was pretty surprised.  Not because Wizards of the Coast is unknown to do sequels even sequels within a series as Adversary was in the Sundering Series.  But more because, the book was so middling.  It seemed like the author created it for something else and then transplanted it into the Forgotten Realms rather than making completely from the ground up for the world.  When I read the book, I kind of imagined that the author owed Wizards a book and this was her way of fulfilling your obligation.   I guess I was wrong and I must to some degree apologize to Erin Evans for this supposition; because Fire in the Blood is an excellent book and while it took me almost a month to read it.  When I reached the end I could hardly believe that I didn’t want it to end.

        Everyone from the first book is back and while I was very critical of the characters the first time around.  I have to admit they grew on me.  I was less excited about the setting as the whole Netherese War is REALLY wearing out it’s welcome.  But the actual plot and the characters who participate in it are interesting and I was surely hooked all the way to the end.  Also, as this appears to be the first in a series of it’s own.  I was pretty happy that the author executed on it so well.  All of the things I disliked about the first book seemed better explained and the quality of the writing itself was better.  The end was especially well done.  While I was a little put off by the fact that one of the major plot lines that at least is represented to the reader as a major plotline, is not dealt with in the end.  I can certainly understand that the author is using this to get people to read the next book in the series.  Which is good, often Wizards books have no through line plot which makes each one almost too self contained. 

      While this series is definitely not my first choice in the worlds of Wizards of the Coast; I have to say that from my perspective it gets the award for VERY MUCH IMPROVED.  If you even liked the characters from the Adversary you owe it yourself to read this book.  But if you haven’t read the Adversary you need to, I’ve seen a lot of people complain about not being able to follow this book coming to it cold.  Which is understandable, and while I didn’t love the first book; I did give it three stars.  So it isn’t bad, it just wasn’t great. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lock In Book Review

Lock In

John Scalzi

Tor Books

August 26, 2014

4/5 Stars


       When I first heard about Lock In; I was a bit skeptical of the premise.  All of these people contract this flu that has three stages and in the third stage they suffer from lock in.  Which is essentially being a prisoner in your own body.  This would normally, be the entire of plot the book.  How does the disease progress?  How do we stop it?  Our intrepid young hero(scientist usually) tries to discover the answer to all of these questions and the mysterious origins of the disease.  Yes, well, John Scalzi decided not to do that, thank god.  He wrote a book that was a post-outbreak world.  Which is even more interesting.  How does the world cope with the victims of the disease?  What are the political ramifications of all this? How does it effect economies all over the world?  These are some interesting questions that are more or less in the backdrop of Lock in.  Instead the story mostly focuses on a series of strange murders being investigated by a new FBI agent Chris Shane and his partner Vann.  Chris is a victim of the lock in, in fact, he is one of the most famous people who has.  So we see the world from his perspective.  While Chris is a pretty good main character there are plenty of things about the book that, from time to time.  Made me cringe a little.

      John Scalzi is famous or infamous however you want to look at it for his dialogue and lack of description.  He rarely describes things, people, or places.  He just doesn’t, can tell you why but he doesn’t.  Anyway, some of his dialogue hand offs in the final third of the book are just bad.  I mean awkward in a way that makes the reader cringe and then try to reread it, thinking they made a mistake.  Unfortunately it was John Scalzi who made these mistakes.  If your writing style is so committed to dialogue that you make it your central feature.  That’s great, you just better do it right, all of the time.  Overall, the author does a masterful job with the dialogue and the plot progression.  The mystery is a descent one, although it’s not one that you’re probably going to be able to figure out on your own.  I’d imagine if I’d read the book in a shorter period of time I probably would have been able to see the end coming more easily.

      While Chris and Vann have a nice, but short buddy cop relationship.  I often found myself thinking, that it was a little bit too brief.  We don’t really care about Vann; mostly because almost until the end we know virtually nothing about her.  While Chris seems like a nice enough guy;  it’s kind of like caring about a celebrity that decides he wants to start playing baseball or something.  It’s interesting but you rarely care if he fails or succeeds.  Many of the more supporting characters like Tony for instance, seem a lot more interesting and while they aren’t quite as fleshed out as Chris(we are reading from his POV).  I felt like Tony was a lot more relatable guy to most readers.  I don’t know why the author decided that the main character should be rich, famous, and an FBI agent.  But there was only so far things began to stretch before the reader just had to forget about the whole thing and except it on suspension of disbelief terms if nothing else.  I think for a book with so many supporting characters, I would have liked more information about the more central characters rather than more dialogue that was essentially meaningless in the end.

       All told, I was happy with Lock In and I would definitely recommend the incredible audio version narrated by Wil Wheaton or Amber Benson depending on which you choose.  I found listening to the book even more engaging than reading it.  So keep that in mind.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Doctor Who Bog Warrior Review

Doctor Who Bog Warrior

Cecelia Ahern

Random House UK, Ebury Publishing

BBC Books

4/5 Stars


        Let me say first that I am a big fan of Time Trips.  I pretty much read them whenever given the chance.  They come out more slowly in the United States than they do in the UK so we are usually quite a few behind the curve.  I’m told that the latest Dr.(#12) has some Time Trips stories already.  Which I’m excited to read.  But anyway, this one was quite interesting.  I have to admit this was the first time I’d read a non-serious story in Time Trips.  These stories definitely happen in the series on television.  But rarely have I seen them see print in any form.  While I did truly like the story and the concept.  I found it to a be a little blatantly on the short side.  Also, the Dr. was more of an observer than a participant.  Which is interesting because some of the older shows were actually like that.  But I found this to be a bit jarring.  Although, like I said I really liked the story and thought it all very clever.  I found that there wasn’t much “Dr. Whoness,” to it.  Don’t ask me to explain that.  Beyond that it seemed like it could just have been another Science Fiction short story not necessarily set in the Dr.Who universe.  But as I’ve said before for 99 cents it’s really hard to go wrong with Time Trips!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Doctor Who Tales of Trenzalore Book Review

Doctor Who Tales of Trenzalore

The Eleventh Doctor's Final Stand

Justin Richards , George Mann , Mark Morris , Paul Finch

BBC Books

Pub Date: Feb 27 2014

3/5 Stars


           The Trenzalore episode of Doctor Who was probably one of the strangest and most climatic that I’ve ever seen in the history of the series(when I say this I mean the 11 doctors not the three or so of the modern series).  I also felt that for as much as the show wanted the viewer to take in, it seemed a rather short affair.  However, this book was not exactly what I’d envisioned when I thought they should have lengthened it.  The four stories are all descent and they do all have the flavor of Doctor Who.  Which is usually a problem in these books.  Often the main characters get rather messed up and you end up following some supporting character around trying to figure out what’s going on.  While this is flirted with several times in this anthology it never happens.  Which is good, because none of these stories are particularly long or very good and if you had to follow some one around to figure out the plot it would probably be a deal breaker.

           Some of the oddities of Trenzalore and the town called Christmas are explained.  Which I thought was interesting and probably worth the read, at least for me.  But I think the average reader will quite put off by the over all tone of most of the stories.  I can say that I’m completely split on this book.  I liked the second two stories much more than the first two. Which in anthologies is not all that unusual but it is rather strange when there are so few stories presented.

            All that said, if you are a big Dr.Who you will want to read this book.  In fact, you probably already have.  But if you are just a casual watcher of the TV Show, then maybe not.  Also, as of the time of this writing there is no Kindle Edition available.  Which also makes this book a bit harder to recommend.  Although, I’m sure there are still lots of you out there would like print books.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Rise of the King Book Review

Rise of the King: Companions Codex Part 2


Wizards of the Coast

September 30, 2014

4/5 Stars


        Rise of the King is the second in the Companion Codex.  This book was obviously meant to be the dark middle chapter of the series so I’m assuming that this is a trilogy.  The book continues the story began in book one which was begun in the much longer series that more or less ended with the first book of the Sundering.  All this taken into account, I can certainly understand why this book didn’t quite meet the standard that the author, himself set.  The book has some high points, but more or less the work which ends; very much too soon.  Makes the reader harshly aware that there is a lot of story left to be told.  And while Mr.Salvatore has his standard measure of exciting fight scenes and intrigue.  It is hard to say anything other than this middle book, was a good middle.  But taken only in the view of the entire work.  I would be hard pressed to say quite what will happen in the that long view.  Which is excellent, because any writer that has overly showed their hand and has atleast one book left of their series; is doing a sorry job.  That being said, I really didn’t appreciate how aware the author makes the reader that this IS indeed just PART of the story and if you want to read the rest you better get the next book.  The Epilogue isn’t even an after thought but a literal continuation of events that weren’t resolved in the story and aren’t in the Epilogue either.  This book would have gained quite a bit from another hundred pages or so. Might have even benefitted from having been a MUCH longer work altogether.  This might have helped the work seem less limited and less abrupt when it ends.

      I will say however, that this is NOT a book to skip by anyone who read the original book.  Progress is made and events occur.   But I would imagine that most people who follow the exploits of Drizzt Do'Urden and friends.  Are as familiar with this sort of thing as I am and while I was disappointed by the abruptness of the end, it certainly wasn’t a deal breaker for me.  So any fan of the series will be well served here, if not entirely satisfied at the end.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Dresden Files: There and Back Again


        I began reading the Dresden Files; with Storm Front and Fool Moon a couple of years ago.  I believe I may have read Storm Front around the time the television series premiered(I will always consider Dresden first as Paul Blackthorne, who played him in series.  Also every time I watch him in the series, Arrow.  I think of him as Dresden first.  Sorry, Paul typecast in a one season flop.)  But I could be wrong on that one.  I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed.  In fact, while I thought that they were descent enough books; even upon rereading them recently.  I never really liked them all that much.  I knew, of course, that the Dresden Files consisted of quite a number of books.  I believe when I read Storm Front originally there were nine or ten.  Now, there are fifteen.  But a couple of months ago, I decided to read through the entire series from beginning to end.  Because I was so excited by it.


        I’m sure you’re wondering what happened that I decided to read the rest of the entire series in about three months(if you check my Goodreads profile, I believe that’s how long it took)?  I read Grave Peril.  That would be book three of the series and still one of my favorite books of the series.  But hold on, it occurs to me that for people who haven’t read ANY of the Dresden Files; I’m jumping a bit ahead.  Harry Dresden is a Wizard.  He lives in a modern world that we would recognize.  There are Burger Kings, Walmarts, the internet, etc…  But there are also Faeries, demons, and gods masquerading as people.  For some people they would recognize this as well, but for the rest of us we call it Urban Fantasy.  Harry has a few friends that keep him from getting destroyed on a daily basis.  One of his main best friends, is Karrin Murphy.  She is a police detective who works with a paranormal unit that involves looking into stuff that the rest of the force doesn’t want to deal with.  Kind of like the X-Files without the aliens.  He has other friends, but unfortunately they are involved in the plot development to such a degree that describing them in any great detail could actually be spoiler filled.   So, Harry takes on cases, he’s basically a Private Investigator.  This situation evolves as the series goes on and things get pretty crazy.  One of the things I love about the Dresden Files is how grounded in reality the series actually is.  The police show up when gun shots are fired.  When someone gets hurt there are consequences to their injuries.  While these might seem like small things they work to make the series incredibly engrossing and believable.  Unfortunately, I can’t recommend Storm Front or Fool Moon; except in saying that the books are good background for the rest of the series.  But I ALSO wouldn’t recommend anyone starting reading the series at book three.

        I have to say that the rest of the series is incredible.  Every book in the series is either a four or five star review.  So how does one recommend a 15 book series to someone with no experience in it?  I was a little daunted by this question myself.  I would have a hard time saying to someone, “Hey man, read the first four books or so; by the time book four is over you’ll be hooked.”

        Not because I don’t believe exactly that, but rather that’s around 1,200 pages.  To most folks that’s a lot of reading to do.  So I will let you in on the secret sauce that makes Dresden Files so awesome; but if this is just too much for you.  I certainly understand, and IF you decide you want to start at book three; I’ll understand.  But if you don’t get as much out of the series as you should.  Don’t blame me, I warned you.

       I have to say that the series goes in some incredible directions and that each book is a very fast read.  Even some of the longer ones…  The books have a great deal of explanation built into everyone of them about events or characters that are pertinent to the understanding of the book.  However, having the author give you a quick summary of events is very different from actually reading those events and getting an understanding for the characters that went through them.  That is why I suggest reading every book in order.  I’m not normally into Urban Fantasy as a genre.  Generally, Urban Fantasy to me has always seemed like a lazy way of reducing the learning curve for readers.  Which would be fine, except that so often the stories fall into some really generic and predictable tropes.  But the Dresden Files is, in my opinion, a high cut above all the rest of the Urban Fantasy out there.  Not only in the way that typical material is handled in an excellent way.  But also, in the depth of the characters and complexity of their relationships.  While some of the elements of the Dresden Files could definitely be seen as tropey or even typical of the genre.  What Jim Butcher does with these elements is neither typical nor tropey.

      While the Dresden Files might not be for everyone, I certainly have to say that they are for a lot more people than perhaps the general opinion about the books expresses.  I think that most readers of fantasy will be overjoyed at how different and interesting the characters and world of the Dresden Files is.  While I cannot recommend this series enough, I have to say that it is quite an investment on the part of the reader.  However, I love this series SO MUCH that I really couldn’t miss this opportunity to tell everyone how I feel about the series.  I will say that once you get into the series, you will not regret it.

        Storm Front

        Fool Moon

        Grave Peril


Friday, July 18, 2014

Kindle Unlimited: Not necessarily the Best Title…


                         Long time readers of this blog probably know that I am a big supporter of Amazon.  I always link to their site when doing book reviews and I tend to purchase over 90% of the books I buy for myself through Kindle.  So let me say right off that while this is a stunningly negative and unusual piece.  I will say that I STILL plan on doing business with Amazon and buying books from their site.  But, that being said, Kindle Unlimited; through my investigation today seems to be aimed at a tiny portion of their audience and you, as an avid reader of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror should save your money.  But let me tell you why…

                 I did not, sign up for Kindle Unlimited because I knew that what I wanted it to would, would be virtually impossible for Amazon to create without going out of business.  But what THEY DID create was an unlimited Indies service that allows you to read a few classics and major authors along the way.  Indie books are great, at least some of them are; but the idea is certainly great and I support folks who don’t want to go through traditional publishing.  That being said, however, this service leans heavily on books that normally would cost the reader anywhere from $.99-$5 to read without the service.  Which means that for the price of the service you could read anywhere from 2-10 books a month.  There are also some classics.  Which is great, except that classics on Amazon usually range from $.99-$3.  Which means that for the price of this service you could read anywhere from 3-9 classics a month. 

               There ARE some major author offers such as the entire Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games series.  These books have been on the Amazon Prime service as free checkouts for a while, as well as Hugh Howey’s books.  I thought it was rather amusing that as soon as Mockingjay Part 1 the movie was announced that the book was removed from the Prime service.  But here it is again, if you didn’t get around to reading back then.  They HAVE added a few more books to mix like some Octavia Butler collections and the Lord of the Rings books.  Which were never, and are not at a classics price in the store.  I also spotted some books that are in the most recent Humble Sci fi Bundle.  Such as Timothy Zahn’s Blackcollar.  I’m guessing these were cheap ebooks to get the rights for as they are already practically giving it away over on the Humble Bundle site.

                 The Kindle Unlimited service, seems to be mostly limited to Indie authors, Kindle Exclusives, Classics, and a few cheap ebook titles that could be found elsewhere for practically the price of free.  Their flagship titles, Life of Pi, Water for Elephants, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and the Lord of the Rings.  Have all been out for QUITE A WHILE and you can probably grab them from your local library.  Also if you have a used book store around your house, you will probably be able to get any of these for around $1-$5 each.  Being as most had extremely high circulations and when people turn in their books, those are the books they turn in.  Which drives down the price.

                  There is also an audiobook component to all this.  But the books on offer are the same books as those offered in the ebooks section.  I didn’t exhaustively look through them, but they appear to be the same featured titles, etc…  So if you want audiobooks for a good deal, just jump on a service also owned by Amazon.  For $14.95 a month you get to buy AND KEEP, a book of your CHOICE.  Also, they run nice sales and with the Whispersync feature of your kindle or kindle app.  You can usually pick up additional books at an EXTREMELY low cost.  And KEEP THESE BOOKS FOREVER!  You can cancel your subscription any time and still keep your audiobooks that you got from the service.  Pretty awesome.  I got all my Mary Robinette Kowal books from there and loved the experience!

                  As far as other categories than Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.  There are some interesting book offers for Nonfiction Book Bestsellers and some other classic books from those genres.  Unfortunately, most of these books ALSO appear to be mainly Kindle Exclusives and books that generally range from $3-$5.  There ARE some outliers thrown in for good measure, more so than in the genre examples I gave above and perhaps if you were not an avid reader of a particular discipline of History, Science, or Business this would be a good and cheap way to start.  Also assuming you couldn’t find these books at your local library for free.  The Nonfiction area of Kindle Unlimited is the ONLY place that to me feels like anything more than an abysmal failure.

               So who is Kindle Unlimited for?  People who love indie authors and read incredibly fast!  Also perhaps the college student who needs to be able research a bunch of different areas of Nonfiction quickly and can’t, for some reason find a local library that doesn’t suck.  But that is about it.  Perhaps in the future this service will get better.  But for right now, it IS NOT WORTH your $9.99.  If you don’t believe me or think I’m exaggerating go over to Amazon and take a look at the titles on offer.  They will, AT LEAST show you everything they have to offer before you sign up.  Unlike Netflix, don’t get me started…

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Thousand Names Book Review

Thousand Names

Django Wexler


July 2, 2013

4/5 Stars


       In life, I feel as though I’m a pretty patient person.  I usually don’t get frustrated very easily.  But the Thousand Names, was really pushing it’s luck with me.  I reached around the 300 page mark and was JUST starting to see the greatness of this book.  By the time the end happens, which it happens over the course of almost a hundred pages.  The reader feels a little shell shocked.  Maybe like a solider from one of the battalions in the book.  The beginning of the book paints interesting villains but we see them only two more times over the course of the entire book.  There is intrigue and politics, and many other things…  But not REAL forward facing villains.  Kind of like real war, you only see the soldiers not the generals who command them.  I suppose…

       The main viewpoint characters are interesting enough and by the end you feel as if you’ve grown attached to them.  Not because they are so relatable or interesting but more because you feel as though “you’ve been through the shit” with them.  It takes a rare book to make me feel as though I have fictional war time companions.

       By and large I REALLY didn’t like the Thousand Names.  Until you get around half way through the book, it’s incredibly slow.  The characters are unlikable, and some of the situations are ridiculous. The author pushes the boundaries that the reader needs to suspend their disbelief right up until near the end.  But then why am I giving this book four stars?  Because I want to read book 2.  I mean, I want to go get it right now and read it.  Which to me, means a book is great even if I have about ten reasons to the contrary.  I would say this,”Unless you want to get hooked by Mr. Django Wexler, into reading book 2.  DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!”  OK? Fair?  You decide…  Or not, up to you…

Shadows Beneath Book Review

Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology

Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

Dragonsteel Entertainment


5/5 Stars


        Yes, I’m reviewing another Anthology; when less than a month ago I said it would be a VERY LONG TIME before I did this again.  Oh well…  This is less of anthology than a writing tool, anyway.  The idea is that you read the stories and then see how the authors came up with them.  A kind of brainstorming to editing kind of thing.  This is definitely the first time I’ve EVER seen anything like this and it is great!  I loved seeing how things went from brainstormed ideas to a rough story to an edited story with the help of discussion and critique.  The stories, of course, are great.  But I think that seeing the process is ACTUALLY the more valuable thing here.  I would suggest this book to anyone who is an aspiring writer who likes science fiction and fantasy.  This is a really great look into the process that is normally glossed over by other writing books.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What if Harry Dresden was a Woman?


       Hello folks….

             Just wanted to drop a line and let you know I’m still alive.  I know today is the first post since the middle of June.  But things have made it impossible to keep up with my secondary and thirdary(it’s not a word sorry) books.  I’ve been reading the entire Witcher series and then writing a very long piece on it.  Look for that later this month.  Sorry but there are five books, not my fault.  In the meantime.  I wanted to pose a question to you folks….

          What if Harry Dresden was a woman?

          Now I know what your thinking…  Well if he was a woman things in the story would be REALLY different.  But, stop and consider if you will that, that was the only thing that we changed.  No other characters genders or move things around in other ways.  Just enough that it would make sense in the end.

         I’m not that far a long in the series.  I just finished Summer Knight.  It was extremely good as all of them have been so far.  But as I was nearing the end and especially upon starting the next book Death Masks.  I couldn’t help but wonder what would it be like if Harry was a woman?

         For instance, she would be in love Susan; that doesn’t seem that strange.  But what about Michael?  Would his wife be mad that he was out all night fighting evil things or would she be more concerned that he was spending all night with a hot wizard?  Would his relationship with Billy the werewolf seem weird?  Would the White Council treat him differently?

         I’m sure there are lots of things about the novels that would fundamentally change.  But would the popularity of the series be effected?  Would it even have reached 15 books with a female protagonist?  I would like to think so, but the Dresden books, I’ve noticed…  Are incredibly popular.  There are plenty of popular urban fantasy novels out there with female protagonists, in fact it’s quite popular to do that.  But none of those series have reached the heights that the Dresden Files have.  It’s more than just take detective story and add magic.  But considering the amount of similar works out there.  It’s hard to believe that a story of the same ilk, even a very good one.  Could have not only survived this long but flourished.  Because the kind of noire trope of the detective who has to solve his way out of crimes and mayhem with magic added.  Is such a well worn road.  I mean, there are fast food restaurants on the road and there’s even a movie theater it gets so much traffic.  What about the Dresden Files has managed to keep it going?  What makes it so uniquely popular?

        I’m not really sure, the writing is very good.  But not in a “oh shit this guy can write.”  Kind of way, more like it rarely gets in your way kind of good writing.  I can often read, and usually do read the Dresden books a little faster than a normal book.  Mostly, because so much of the world is familiar to me.  I love the humor in the book and I often just wonder how Harry is going to get out of this or that impossible situation. 

      The one thing that I think is rather strange about the Dresden Files is how obsessed Harry is with describing women.  In a given story I can get three or four descriptions of what Murphy is wearing and I might not even find out what Michael is wearing at all.  Being a guy, it doesn’t bother me from a sexist point of view.  More that it kind of interferes with the flow of the story.  It is so different from everything else around it that it naturally calls attention to itself.  It takes you out of the story…  Which is odd, considering how good Jim Butcher is at drawing a VERY believable world, with dragons, ogres, wizards, and the rest.  I was certainly able to deal with this in the first couple of books.  But I’m on book 5 and he’s still doing it.  I’m just confused that no editor or agent didn’t mention this to Jim Butcher and say,

“Dude, I know this guys likes girls.  But we don’t need the play by play with every woman he meets.”

    But that is neither here nor there.  If Jim Butcher wants to write Harry Dresden this way; well he’s on book 15 and it’s worked so far.  So good for him.  I just wonder how people would respond to a woman acting that way or more accurately thinking that way.  Feel free to hit me up on twitter and let me know what you think about all this.

Memory of Water Book Review

Memory of Water

Emmi Itaranta

Harper Voyager

(June 10, 2014)

3/5 Stars


       Global warming and climate change are not topics unknown to the dystopian genre.  In fact, I’ve probably read more YA dystopian climate change/global warming gone haywire books than I’d care to think about.  While I do understand that these are real issues in the world today.  I often have problems with the way these books tend to implement their theories of how the world ended.  Also, there seems to be a knowledge apocalypse that goes along with these changes.  Which is sometimes understandable be is often not explained well enough to be believable by any modern reader.  Perhaps, someone who isn’t all that knowledgeable or hasn’t been around long enough to remember the way things were when there was no internet.  Might think that if we simply shut off the internet and all our cell phones that we would slip back into the wild west or the stone age.  Yeah, no…

      Predictably, the reason I being this up is that Memory of Water is one of these books.  Also, some of the problems that plague the world itself are a little bit obscure.  I’m sure in trying to create believable story of oppression and intrigue.  The author forget to world build or maybe just forgot to share that world building with her readers.  The actual plot of the story was relatively interesting.  But there seemed to be a lot of things happening that the reader should just accept at face value.  Also, perhaps the fact that the story seemed to take place in a rural Chinese village probably leaves some things a little skewed to a western audience.  Which I would be one of those people.

      The reason for the dystopia is not necessarily important.  But the effects of that dystopia should have been ever present.  Other than a lack of rain and an abundance of bugs.  There really didn’t seem too much in evidence.  And if that was all, it wasn’t enough.  I would love to know how all these bugs survived so easily without water that they kept procreating to be such a problem.  Most bugs lay their eggs in water or at least on moist leaves and such.  If the world was so bereft of water where did they all come from?  The half hearted history lesson around a third of the way through the book didn’t help and while this might have something to do with main thrust of the story.  Like, this is what happened…  But that didn’t seem to be the case.  The reader is never given the “official version” of events so that this promised secret version seems really odd.

      While the story itself wasn’t too bad.  The world building was so poorly done that it kept pulling me out of the story.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Come On People Go Buy Half a King already!

Magic City: Recent Spells Book Review

Magic City: Recent Spells

Holly Black, Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Charles De Lint, and Carrie Vaughn

Diamond Book Distributors

Pub Date: May 7 2014 

4/5 Stars


   Reviewing a short story collection always seems like a difficult thing to do for me.  There are always the stories you loved and the stories you hated.  I’m not entirely sure if that is purely personal taste or perhaps a problem derived from wrongly held expectations.  In this case, I have to admit I’m at somewhat of a loss.  I loved some of the stories I read, but others…  I have less flattering things to say about them.  There isn’t a single story here written by someone who isn’t a professional.  There aren’t any first time writers here and some of them, have had long careers with many awards to their ability.  So when I make this list please realize that I’m doing it based on my opinion of the story and nothing else.

               My Absolute Favorites:

                 Wallamelon- Nisi Shawl

                 In the Stacks- Scott Lynch

                 The Arcane Art of Misdirection- Carrie Vaughn

                 The Thief of Precious Things- A.C.Wise

                 The Land of Heart’s Desire- Holly Black

                 Curses- Jim Butcher

                 Kabu Kabu- Nnedi Okorafor

   The rest my friends were not as good.  Some were just too predictable, so seemed to stretch the theme of the anthology simply too much.  Finally others, were stories I’d read before just with different characters and different places.  That is the main problem with Urban Fantasy in general, not that all of these stories were urban fantasy.  But the ones that were, were VERY TYPICAL.  I was most impressed by the stories by Carrie Vaughn and Nnedi Okorafor who seemed to understand the conventions and purposely refused to give in to them.  But the other stories were of the highest calibur and I would say that for those seven stories I would buy the entire anthology.  As I said before, it is very hard to review anthologies and I will certainly do so again with some trepidation and thought.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Crimson Campaign Book Review

Crimson Campaign

Brian McClellan

Orbit (May 6, 2014)

5/5 Stars


        I finished reading Crimson Campaign quite a few days ago, at around this time of night(11pm-12am).  I put the review off as usual until the next day.  I don’t usually write reviews the moment I finish the book.  Normally because I usually finish reading pretty late at night.  But this book took me a few days to mull over.  Not because I didn’t like it, no I freakin loved it.  But I was having a hard time putting my thoughts about the book into words.  Until today, when I basically forced myself to do so.

         Crimson Campaign is the second book in the Powder Mage Trilogy and it is definitely the dark middle chapter that most book 2s in a trilogy are.  This was not wholly unexpected and I did welcome some of the events that happened over the course of the book.  Some of the stuff with both Taniel and Tamas seemed a bit much but hey, dark middle chapter people.  I also would have loved it if the author distanced himself from his second tier boring characters.  Adamat and Nila, I was really hoping one would caught a bullet, arrow, or sorcery at some point.  But I guess they are here to stay.  I guess I’m being unfair to Nila as her story is picking up.  But Adamat needs to die, really, I’m sorry his POV is SO incredibly off the pace from the rest of the book and has been ever since book 1 that I really wished he would have been ended in the last volume.

         Other than that, I was very happy with the book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who even liked the first book.  But if you haven’t read the first book, go pick that up first.  Because there is NO WAY you are getting into this book or even making through to the end without reading the first book.  With all the wonderful work Brian McClellan has done with this series I cannot wait for next book in the series.  This last book was definitely one of my favorite books of all time and this series is certainly shaping up to be wonderful.  I guess the student has surpassed the master, Mr. Sanderson.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Glamourist Histories: An Unexpected Addiction!



             I have definitely attempted to not have too many spoilers here because this is meant to attract people to the series.  But there are probably going to be some minor spoilers, while I analyze some of the books in the series. 


        I have rarely found myself so addicted to a series so quickly as I was with the Glamourist Histories.  Mary Robinette Kowal is an amazing writer and I found her series to be one of the greatest alternatives to traditional fantasy that exists.  This is the kind of series that really takes chances with what we consider to be fantasy and what most people consider magic to be or not to be.  I found the fact that Mary analyzes the magic system in a very scientific manner and even goes so far in Without a Summer to call Glamour to be examined by science.  Even if it is the science of the early 19th Century.

       I will admit that when most people see Regency Fantasy.  They think of fancy dress parties and people saying, “Oh I say!”

       Which I have to admit is not entirely outside the scope of these books.  But there is quite a bit more to Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories than that.  All of the staples of Regency Fantasy are in there.  But there are no Fae, no elves, no people in long cloaks trying to steal trinkets from each other.  The books take place in the REAL history of the early 19th Century only with the addition of magic.  Glamour specifically; which is a kind of illusion creation.  There is a way to create a bit cold or a bit of heat using Glamour as well.  But neither to any great effect, another words you couldn’t lit anyone on fire with the heat or freeze anyone with the cold.  In the book, Without a Summer, these are talked about in detail.

        More importantly, are the ways that the author wraps you in the world.  There are details aplenty but never so many that you get bored with it or that you just want the action to continue and not care what things look like.  Mary Robinette Kowal, seems to understand this and when there is action she only describes what is ABSOULTELY essential and leaves the rest to the imagination.  During the slower sequences she spends more time talking about the setting and explaining some of the backstory so that the reader can better understand things when the action begins.

       Within this incredible setting are some very memorable characters.  Jane, the main character is definitely a cut above the norm.  Jane is a VERY strong female lead.  But she is still an English woman of the early 19th Century.  She definitely doesn’t always concede to what is expected of her.  But she also isn’t a woman of the 20th or the 21st Century either.  Her sister begins as a rather typical woman of the era but she begins to show signs of being much more like her sister Jane by the time we reach the end of the second and the entire third book.  Of course, Vincent is also an incredible character in this book.  He is both a typical man of the era but as usual in this sort of work; he has some very non-typical reaction to some of the situations that occur.  So that’s pretty awesome.  There are certainly plenty of other great characters in the books, but these characters are the only ones that are present throughout all of the books.

       Now that I’ve outlined the things that I loved the most about these books.  I’ve rated all these books five stars.  Because I felt that way about each one at the time I read it.  But I have to say that my two favorite books in the series were Without a Summer and Valour and Vanity.  But I DO suggest people read the entire series from the beginning.  Personally, I had some trouble finding the book around at my local bookstores.  So you might want to just buy them digitally through Amazon or one of the other wonderful online booksellers.  I did listen to the majority of these books on audio as Mary Robinette Kowal is an Award winning narrator and she is good enough to narrate her books for us.  I would say THAT listening to them in this way is THE most ENJOYABLE way to experience them.  So if you can do that, I would suggest that course above all others.  I listened to them through Audible audio books but I know they are available through other sources.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Promise of Blood Book Review


Promise of Blood

Brian McClellan

Orbit (April 16, 2013)

5/5 Stars



    The best thing about Promise of Blood by far is the setting.  The world building in this book is amazing.  I don't think I've ever read a better realized world from a debut author.  I absolutely love the complexity of the magic system.  There are tons of memorable characters and the pace of the book is brisk and exciting.
     Other than the scenes and chapters where Adamat is the point of view character.  I was completely enthralled.  Not that Adamat is necessarily a bad character; it just seemed like these chapters or parts of chapters were unnecessarily slow and tended to be much less interesting than the others.
     This is the most inventive and interesting fantasy world I've come upon in a long time and I think it is a MAJOR step forward for the genre as it shows what can be done.  Fantasy is NOT devoid of the new or doomed to fall into the "grimdark."  This novel proves that.
     Any fan of Fantasy should give this book a try.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Brandon Sanderson and Brian McClellan Google Hangout! Because why not?

Heaven’s Queen Book Review

Heaven’s Queen

Rachel Bach

Orbit Books

Pub Date: Apr 22 2014

5/5 Stars


           Heaven’s Queen is part 3 of the Paradox Trilogy.  All three books in the series are excellent and tell a full overarching story.  The fact that none of the three books really tell a full story in and of themselves makes the feeling of the series epic.  Especially when so little time has passed from one book to the next.  But I have to say that I was said to say good bye to Rupert and Devi.  The story as a whole was very good from beginning to end and the depth of both the setting and the characters holds up throughout.  A first person Space Opera told from the female perspective is a nice change.  Especially a hard as nails mercenary like Devi.

           The first couple of books seemed like a cross between Star Trek and Starcraft.  But this novel certainly opened up into something more epic dealing with problems that were of a lot higher magnitude, veering into the saving of humanity type territory.  As usual Rachel Bach does a stellar job with dialogue, character, setting, and especially action sequences which always play out beautifully.  Every book in the series has been consistently excellent and this one is no different.

          I did like the ending but it struck me as being rather final.  Which means that we probably won’t be seeing anymore Devi or Rupert anytime soon.  But hey, Rachel Bach is an inventive author I’m sure she can come up with something if these books sell well.. You know, if they become very popular and lots of people buy them…  Let’s hope she has the need and reason to do so.  Go out and buy Heaven’s Queen if you haven’t already.  You will definitely want to start from the beginning of the trilogy though.  So if you haven’t already just pick up the entire thing.  You’ll love it…

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Martian Book Review

The Martian

Any Weir

Crown; First Edition edition (February 11, 2014)

5/5 Stars


           The story of the Martian is nothing new.  It’s a survival story, they have been around for as long as any one can remember.  But what the Martian has going for it; other than incredible writing.  Is an incredible take on the Hard Scifi Novel.  Not something that we see often.  This is Hard SF for everyone, not just for the science loving among us.  Not that, that is necessarily true or even usually true.  But it is what the average person believes when they hear that a novel is Hard SF.  The best SF Novels, whether they are Hard SF or Space Opera are those that are about characters and their stories.  And that IS EXACTLY what the Martian is about.  Mark Watney is important to the reader by the end.  We NEED him to succeed.  Not that their aren’t other interesting characters in the book.  But mostly its Mark Watney’s show.  Which is also what the Martian has going for it.  More often than not, while the main character in a survival story may seem likable.  They are often whiney and annoying.  Especially if the book goes on for a while.  Or they are just not all that bright and you constantly are screaming at them to do this “thing,” that for story reasons, they just won’t do.  None of this is present in the Martian.  Mark Watney is NEVER whiney and he is incredibly intelligent.

           I would also like to give a shout out to the audio version of the book.  Which is AWESOME…  The narration, while dead pan, grows on you so much that you will probably find yourself listening to this book rather than reading it.  I’ve always wondered if some books are just patiently better if they are read to an audience.  My first exposure to the book was when Andy Weir read the first chapter or so to a seminar group.  This IS what made me REALLY want to read this book.  So I decided to get the Whispersync version.  It was WELL worth it.  Andy Weir is not the narrator but the narrator as I said, is deadpan, but good.

          The Martian isn’t perfect, it is a little predictable here and there.  There are some really questionable lines of dialogue and the framing of some of that dialogue is bad.  I felt some of the third person went on too long and should have been cut in favor of a more cohesive and pace setting first person.  Also, there is a certain instance of third person explanation that undermined the drama of a situation.  Which also, in my opinion, should have been cut.  But this was Andy Weir’s first book, it was an EXCELLENT book; can’t wait to read what he writes next.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Diablo III: Morbed Book Review

Diablo 3: Morbed

Micky Neilson

Pocket Star (April 21, 2014)

Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

4/5 Stars


         Morbed is a pretty short story.  Not that it seemed cut off or anything or prematurely ended.  But the possibilities of this book seemed to be really dashed in the limited space of the story.  But for just a couple of dollars the work is certainly worth the price of admission.  Probably only a big fan of Diablo 3 would be interested in this book.  Which is good because the types of characters that the author chose certainly will make any fan of the series smile.

          The possibilities that were evident in the first few pages are certainly never really fulfilled throughout the work.  I would have really loved to see a full descent work about a necromancer, druid, crusader, and thief.  I was incredibly excited until things started to splinter around half way through.  But again, it was certainly enough bang for the buck.