Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sword and Laser Author Spotlight Max Gladstone

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hive Monkey Book Review

Hive Monkey

Gareth L Powell


Pub Date: Dec 31 2013

3/5 Stars


          Parallel Worlds, Apocalyptic invasions, and mysteries of earth shattering proportions are all in a day’s work for Ack-Ac-Macaque and his friends.  Unfortunately, this book is light on depth and heavy on action.  Very often it seemed like the author assumed you hadn’t read the first book and were not exactly reading every word of this one either.  Very often, I found information repeated in multiple places, multiple times.  I was reminded constantly where Ack-Ac-Macaque came from and that the previous ship captain was dead.  Also, the new character they introduced, William Cole had his own perspective chapters which did nothing for me whatsoever.  His relevance to the story, especially by the end, had gone completely.  The whole premise was such a bad side story that any attempt it was supposed to make to pull at the reader’s heart strings had long since devolved into an awkward, so what?  It fascinated me that the author felt it necessary to keep coming up with William’s perspective when Victoria’s perspective alone seemed tiresome.  The book wasn’t bad, it had some good action and good one liners from Ack-Ac-Macaque.  But on the whole it was not as exciting as it should have been and everything seemed to work out somewhat predictably near the end.  This is the kind of thing where you go big or go home.  The author should have just gone home.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Almost Girl Book Review


The Almost Girl

Amalie Howard


Pub Date: Jan 2 2014

4/5 Stars


         One part Hunger Games, one part Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and one part Timecop.  If you think that’s a strange combination you haven’t read Almost Girl by Amalie Howard.  While the book definitely has these themes in common, for the most part this book is something you’ve probably never read anything like before.  I did find the ending a bit predictable.  But the rest of the book was excellent and I would definitely read a sequel if there is one.  The other excellent thing about this book is that it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger.  The climax is the REAL climax and the plot has a satisfactory conclusion.  There are no last minute twists, with a “Haha, you thought it was over!  But you are wrong!”

          I was especially impressed how the author managed to populate the cast with such strong female characters.  Especially the two sisters in the book.  I loved both of their characters.  While I did really enjoy the girl power aspect of the book; I thought couldn’t believe how one sided it was.  If the character was female, she was good.  If not, they are probably evil or at least untrustworthy.  This wasn’t the so in EVERY case in the book, but enough that it was noticeable even when not really looking for it.  But all in all, I would recommend Almost Girl; a great book for anyone who likes Science Fiction or Fantasy.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bedlam Book Review



Christopher Brookmyre

Little, Brown Book Group UK

Pub Date: Jan 21 2014

1/5 Stars


             Bedlam is the video game equivalent to Ready Player One.  Except that it isn’t half as good.  The story is at it’s best when the characters aren’t jumping from video game world to world.  The interactions are pretty good and even though the back story that is filtered in through the chapters is SO BORING, it practically put me to sleep by the end I could see the reason for it.  Perhaps, making it a little more interesting wouldn’t have hurt though.  The main problem seems to be that the author can mention names of video game franchises but probably didn’t have the rights and permissions to ACTUALLY use those worlds or the names associated with them.  Therefore, it is all just name dropping and everything else is just a long boring description of something that is “like” this or that video game world.  The ending is pretty bad as well, the whole main character with amnesia and turns out to be the chosen is pretty much the main plot here and it is really as rote as it goes.  I was even thinking that the majority of the plot might have been lifted from Neverending Story, the movie…  But I could be wrong on that, I didn’t actually look it up.  But it isn’t too far off.  For all the action in Bedlam, it is a very slow paced book on the whole and by the end other than the last two or three chapters you start wondering how much really happened over the course of the book.  If you want to write an homage to video games, you might want to be able to actually use the video games that you mention in the book.  Or maybe have the book set so far into the future that you can make up your own game and make it “like” the others and crack wise on that basis.  But this half step was horribly boring and so slow paced that if I wasn’t reviewing it; I wouldn’t have made it half way through.  Being an ex-video game journalist this book should have been right up my alley, instead it was more like slumming in a bad part of town.


Sword and Laser Author Spotlight with Hugh Howey

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Something More Than Night Book Review

Something More Than Night

Ian Tregillis

Tor Books;(December 3, 2013)

5/5 Stars


           Sometimes the whole is actually greater than the sum of it’s parts.  Something More than Night is that all over.  I was a little uninterested in the noir vibe, I’ve read far too many books in the past year to be all that excited about yet another one.  But I have to say that I weathered the storm because Ian Tregillis is, in my opinion, one of the best authors out there.  I was not disappointed.  The longer the story went on, the better it got and by the end(a deus ex machina ending done perfectly).  I was excited and happy with all that had come before.  I absolutely love this book and in retrospect there isn’t a single thing that I would change.  Even if while I was reading it, I felt like I was suffering.  It was an incredibly fast read and I was usually thinking about reading it even when I couldn’t.  I cannot wait to see what comes next for Ian Tregillis because he has quietly moved from my top ten favorite authors to my top five.  He is in some pretty damn good company.  Sorry birds, I gotta scram now. (I couldn’t resist).

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Honor’s Knight Book Review

Honor’s Knight

Rachel Bach

Orbit Books


Pub Date   Feb 25 2014

5/5 Stars


       Honor’s Knight is the sequel to the excellent Fortune’s Pawn.  Which was one of my favorite books of last year.  This book continues the story right after the end of Fortune’s Pawn.  Which as always is appreciated.  I love sequels that start right where the previous book left off.  The overall story of the Paradox series is not exactly what I would call one that if told to me as a plot I would enjoy.  In fact, I probably would have never picked up the first book without knowing something about the author and reading about her.  But as usual my expectations for the series have been blown away by this book.  It’s a page turner and by the end you feel pretty defeated that you can’t just open the third book and continue reading.  That is one of the things I love about Rachel Bach’s writing.  She makes the reader commit so much to the story that you really can’t get enough by the time it’s over.  This is one of the reasons that Paradox is one of my favorite series out there today and certainly why Rachel Bach is one my favorite authors.

        I think this fast paced style of writing is pretty rare in Science Fiction as a whole.  And this fast pace and action packed writing is the main reason that every time I finish a Rachel Bach book I go out and pre-order the next one.  If you even like Science Fiction, you should give this series a try; from the beginning with Fortune’s Pawn.  If a reader would start here they wouldn’t be lost so much as lose out on important nuisance and detail that they would gain from reading the first book.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Paper Sword Book Review

The Paper Sword

Robert Priest


Pub Date: Jul 14 2014

4/5 Stars


      The Paper Sword is another fine example of Middle Grade Fantasy done right.  This book was excellent; I loved the fast paced plot, the engaging characters, and the story was also excellent.  Right up until the end, this would have been a five star review if not for the abrupt ending that comes absolutely out of now where.  It is almost as if the writer hit is word count for the book and just stops at the next sentence.  I was annoyed by this and it was certainly jarring after such a well told story.  But this IS the first book in the series, so I suppose we will all find out what happens in book two.  I would have just like some closure; it is always good when an author is able to make a series book as standalone as possible.  Both for the reader’s sake and the sake of sales.  If someone HAS to start with book one and then HAS to read book 2.  It can be a little off putting for some readers, especially if book two is a year away from being published.  But overall, the book was great and I cannot wait to find out what happens next.

      Finally, I would like to note that readers of any age will get enjoyment out of this book.  The author is writing about younger children, but the story itself is very good, and much like Harry Potter there really isn’t an age limit on the enjoyment of this work.



Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Cusanus Game Book Review

The Cusanus Game

Wolfgang Jeschke


Pub Date: Oct 15 2013

3/5 Stars


             The Cusanus Game is like every movie or television show about hard science fiction you’ve ever seen.  There is a distant future where things have gone to hell.  There are time travelers, there are cross timelines, there is an oppressive government that is trying to purify the races.  There is an elitist church faction with seemingly unlimited funds and questionable motivations.  I was both surprised and disappointed by Cusanus Game.  I found the beginning of the book much too drawn out and the changes in perspective often lead to not knowing exactly what was going on for half or quarter of a chapter.  The book uses multiple points of view and even in those points of view there are some changes in perspective here and there.  This was very disorienting and while I certainly understand why the author did it.  This kind of thing should be seen as a lesson  to other authors who want to do this and perhaps teach them that when the voice changes it should be predictable or obvious from the chapter heading.  Such as George Martin’s names under his chapter numbers.

             I certainly appreciated what Cusanus Game was trying to achieve, I just feel that it took far too long to get there.  As someone who was writing about this book for review;  I had to continue reading even when the pacing slowed to a crawl.  Most readers won’t be in that position.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Romulus Buckle & the Engines of War Book Review


Romulus Buckle & the Engines of War

Richard Ellis Preston Jr.

Amazon Publishing

Pub Date: Nov 19 2013

4/5 Stars


            This was a hard review to write.  As I felt that the first book in this series wasn’t very good except for it’s adventurous spirit and it’s dealing with the added Martians to the Steampunk world.  In fact, the world of the first book was one of the only things I felt was unique or interesting about it.  I also loved the character Max, for was a Martian herself.  Max was sidelined for most of this book and really plays little to no part in it.  This was disappointing.  But the story itself was much better than the first and the pacing had been tightened up quite a bit.  There are still some of the problems from the first book; like Romulus being more lucky than good and acting like he was more good than lucky.  But if the whole rest of the book is good, I can deal with a main character that sometimes makes me roll my eyes.  I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the end but now that the book is firmly in a place where it is definitely going to be a series.  I guess that I can deal with that as well.  The very much improved second book in this series is definitely worth a look; especially if you liked book #1.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Deaths of Tao Book Review

The Deaths of Tao

Wesley Chu


Pub Date: Oct 29 2013

4/5 Stars


           Having not read the first book in this series made this book all that more impressive to me.  I was coming to the world, characters, and setting completely fresh and the author effortless made me aware of everything that I needed to know to enjoy the story.  This is one of the things many authors struggle with when they write series.  I really loved the characters in this book, both the good guys and the bad guys.  They all were very real and relatable.  For a science fiction novel, this book was incredibly realistic and certainly an exciting read for any reading it seriously.  I truly cannot wait to read the further adventures of Tao, The Prophus, and The Genjix.  My only problem with the book was that it had a bit of a slow start and for a sequel this is doubly strange.  But shortly afterward it certainly found a descent, albeit slow pace.  The story and characters were good enough to save it from it’s pacing.  On the whole the book was very good and I can’t wait to read the next one.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gregory Wilson On Sword and Laser

Beyond the Rift Book Review


Beyond The Rift

Peter Watts

Tachyon Publications

Pub Date: Nov 18 2013

5/5 Stars


        I’m not usually one for short story collections; normally I usually like one or two stories and then chuck the rest.  But this one is freaking amazing.  One story better than the next.  I was thrilled with each one.  None of the stories were so long that I got bored and none were so short that they seemed unfinished or rushed.  However, a couple of these stories definitely have the spark of a whole novel in them; at least in my opinion.  I really loved this collection and I’m actively looking for other books by Peter Watts.  He definitely has an incredible voice for science fiction.  He is an amazing author and perhaps his personal hardship has only reinforced the power of his literary voice.  I would suggest to any fan of science fiction to give this short story collection a shot.  It is far and away the best science fiction collection I’ve read in years.