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Thursday, April 27, 2017

STEEPLEJACK by A. J. Hartley















Spotlight ON:



ABOUT THE BOOK

​“What a world Hartley has created! A world of great danger... murder... suspense on just about every page. And enough twists and surprises to keep the pages turning long into the night.” —R.L. Stine, bestselling author of Goosebumps

“Readers who come for the tightly plotted mystery will stay for the heroine who does all she can to resist.” —Kirkus, starred review


“Hartley has composed another electrifying fantasy that buzzes with intrigue and timely political and social issues, making this a must-have addition to any collection.”—Booklist, starred review

 “A richly realized world, an intensely likable character, and a mystery to die for.” —Cory Doctorow, New York Times-bestselling author

​​

Thoughtfully imaginative, action-packed, and set in a 19th-century South African fantasy world, Steeplejack by New York Times-bestselling A.J. Hartley was met with resounding critical acclaim from authors, reviewers, and readers alike. Steeplejack introduced the world to Anglet Sutonga, and brave and smart young woman navigating the complicated world of Bar-Selehm. In Firebrand, Ang goes undercover at an elite club in order to unmask a thief selling government secrets, but stumbles upon a greater plot that endangers the most vulnerable in Bar-Selehm.

Once a steeplejack, Ang is used to scaling the heights of Bar-Selehm. Nowadays she assists politician Josiah Willinghouse behind the scenes of Parliament. The latest threat to the city-state: government plans for a secret weapon are stolen and feared to be sold to the rival nation of Grappoli. The investigation leads right to the doorsteps of Elitus, one of the most exclusive social clubs in the city. In order to catch the thief, Ang must pretend to be a foreign princess and infiltrate Elitus. But Ang is far from royal material, so Willinghouse enlists help from the exacting Madam Nahreem to train Ang in the ways of Bar-Selehm’s upper class.

Meanwhile, refugees are trickling into the city, fleeing Grappoli-fueled conflicts in the north. A demagogue in Parliament is proposing extreme measures to get rid of them, and Ang soon discovers that one theft could spark a conflagration of conspiracy that threatens the most vulnerable of Bar-Selehm. Unless she can stop it.

A.J. HARTLEY is the international bestselling author of a dozen novels including several archaeological thrillers, the Darwen Arkwright children’s series, the Will Hawthorne fantasy adventures, and novels based on Macbeth and Hamlet. He is the Robinson Distinguished Professor of Shakespeare at UNC Charlotte. Find out more at http://ajhartley.net/























This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Dastardly Miss Lizzie by Viola Carr



This is the third book I have read by Viola Carr, the first being The Diabolical Miss HydeThe Devious Dr. JekylI was the second. I found this book as entertaining as the last she does a good job with her characterizations and the Steampunk theme is done quite well.

The author does an excellent job painting her characters.  This book too, could be a good study in schizophrenia.   Many of the scenes are very graphic and somewhat disturbing sadly fairly accurate for the time it portrays.  This book provides more insight into the Lizzie side of Dr. Jekyll.  It also shows a different side of Mr. Todd.

Steam Punk alternate history horror might aptly describe an interesting take on a mixed mélange of iconic fiction.  

This is an interesting mélange with lots of twists and turns.   Schizophrenic Eliza is an often naive soul.  She is also a police physician in a misogynist society.   Victorian style England is depicted as a soul less police state.   The scene settings are squalid and vile and lead to incessant hand washing after reading.   Seriously the squalor is palatable!  This book seemed darker than the previous two.  

Lizzie is both appealing and appalling while simultaneously depicting unbound, unrestricted liberation.

The author did a masterful job in depicting an alternative environment where electricity ran amuck amid the muck.  Some interesting technical paradoxes are drawn in this volume.  Murder and mayhem abound in this tale of kindred soul discovery.

I recommend.  

site: http://www.violacarr.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Gears of Faith by Gabrielle Harbowy

This is a fantasy featuring Keren, a knight of Iomedae and her partner Zae, a gnome priestess of the clockwork goddess Brigh along with their war dog Appleslayer. 
The two lovers are thrust into a highly dangerous adventure with minimal information.

The story is a coming of age of Keren who struggles to find her relationship with her goddess.  Appleslayer is a war dog and mount for the diminutive Zae.

The author does nice character development with a very tasteful presentation of the relationship between the two main female protagonist.   The beauty of fantasy is that the relationship can be depicted without any of the baggage and outrage of the current political climate.

The plot has magic, gods, goddesses, sword play and violence.  It is a smidge rough around the edges but still a good story.

I recommend.

Web:  https://gabrielleharbowy.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Devious Dr. Jekyll by Viola Carr

This is the second book I have read by Viola Carr, the first being The Diabolical Miss Hyde .  I found this book as entertaining as the last she does a good job with her characterizations and the steampunk theme is done quite well.

The author does an excellent job painting her characters. Could be a good study in schizophrenia.   Many of the scenes are very graphic and somewhat disturbing sadly fairly accurate for the time it portrays.  This book provides more insight into Captain Lafayette and into Dr. Jekyll.


Steam Punk alternate history horror might aptly describe an interesting take on a mixed mélange of iconic fiction.  

This is an interesting mélange with lots of twists and turns.   Schizophrenic Eliza ia an often naive soul.  She is also a police physician in a misogynist society.   Victorian style England is depicted as a soul less police state.   The scene settings are squalid and vile and lead to incessant hand washing after reading.   Seriously the squalor is palatable!

Lizzie is both appealing and appalling while simultaneously depicting unbound, unrestricted liberation.

The author did a masterful job in depicting an alternative environment where electricity ran amuck amid the muck.   Murder and mayhem abound in this tale of kindred soul discovery.

I recommend.  

site: http://www.violacarr.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Gathering Edge by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller




This is in Liaden Universe series.  I read Alliance of Equals and felt it stood alone quite well.  I did not feel this book did as well as a stand alone.  I felt there was too large an assumption of the readers' awareness of the back story.  

The AI ship Bechimo is featured prominently as is his bonded Captain.  The other characters are vaguely familiar.

They crew picks up two of the Troop who have arrived in this universe out of sync with time. 

I like the authors' ideas and writing but felt this was too disjointed for me to really like it.


Web: http://korval.com/alliance-of-equals-press-kit/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden



This book is about the awakening of Gods in mankind and apartheid of mechanicals.
In addition the author addresses transgender issues so be aware that you may be overwhelmed by controversial ideas.

The author postulates a South Africa in a not too distant future that has assimilated races but now is discriminating against mechanical or perhaps they are just the mobile descendants of Alexa.  She also has two boys who somewhat reluctantly realize they are a bit confused by their own sexuality.  

Inject a capricious minor deity that hopes to remedy her minor status by acts of terror and you have a volatile story mix.   The genetic potential of human kind is tweaked, enhanced or maybe recognized as having deified potential.   A politician discovers how important it is to know which side of the closet is closest to the heart. 

Finally the dik-dik which contrary to you first thoughts with transgender, gay and liberated beings might bring to mind has nothing to do with human sexuality.  The dik-dik is a pest extraordinaire in the book.  I have included a photo of a dik-dik as I was pretty sure it was some type of antelope but had to Goggle it to be sure.

This was a thought provoking and possibly (if you are thin skinned) offensive book.

web: http://www.nickydrayden.com/

A dik-dik is the name for any of four species of small antelope in the genus Madoqua that live in the bushlands of eastern and southern Africa.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Spectacle by Rachel Vincent



As much as I like Vincent's Changling P.I. novels, I liked this better.   The book is populated by not so mythical creatures.  They are referred to as cryptid species and all treated as animals regardless of whether they are truly sentient.  In a previous book they appear to have freed themselves but in this book they are captured by a group that apparently overdosed on the Roman Circus theme.

Regardless of fact or fiction, it is hard to read about such abuse of animals or people.   Definition of people seems one of sentience from my limited point of view.   We ignorantly ignore (intended redundancy) tests that indicate dolphins, elephants and chimps understand far more than we credit them.  With AI reaching out, it makes me wonder where the boundaries will be for sentience.   While this seems like it has little bearing on a book review, these thoughts were initiated by the fine work that Vincent put in her book.  It is enormously thought provoking while providing an entertaining plot and plenty of action.

I highly recommend it.

web site:  http://ruthvincent.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, March 27, 2017

1636: The Ottoman Onslaught by Eric Flint



Perhaps jaded is my first reaction to this book.  It has the feel of it's predecessors but not the excitement. 

I really enjoyed the first books in this series but I have missed to many of the intervening books and consequently I've lost touch with them.  

If memory serves me, the premise was introduced in 1632 (book title not year) when a chunk of West Virginia was dropped in East Germany in 1632 (hence the title).

I will guess that my blasé reaction to this book will offend die hard Flint fans but since the election process of 2016 did nothing if not teach us that offensive remarks can pay off,  I really didn't care for this book.  I am sure the die hard fans will enjoy it. 

www: http://www.ericflint.net/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

SIMS by F. Paul Wilson

This book is 13 years old and yet is still cutting edge.   Genetic manipulation and it's results are the focus of the book.   The development of an evolved chimpanzee and it's enslavement is the key plot line.

One of the more interesting factors about the book was the syndicated article in the Naples Daily News last week dealing with the court fight to get some chimps declared human.     If you are reading this review on Amazon, there will be no link to the Associated Press article as Amazon review policy doesn't allow links. 

The author deals with bi-polar disorders and refers peripherally to the dangers of cosmetic genetic modification.  

Dispensing with the educational and philosophical aspects of the book, it was an exciting and captivating story that challenges stereo-types and prejudice.  Sadly that is probably more important in today's political climate than it was 13 years ago.

I recommend the book.

Site:  http://repairmanjack.com/
Link to Associated Press article on chimps.


This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Caine's Mutiny by Charles E Gannon



Once again I find that I have started a series on the last book instead of the first book.  Apparently I have found it too cumbersome to look up the author and see if the book is one of a series.  I have listed the series below, courtesy of the web site fantasticfiction.com. Sometime in the future after an invasion of Earth by Snorks, Caine finds himself semi-in-charge of a mixed crew sent to repatriate a even more mixed bag of inadvertent time travelers.  

Gannon does yeoman's work in seeing that there is a moderate back story for the characters that span multiple alien races as well as persons out of the time stream.   There is solid action and positive camaraderie.  

The story is good although I am not fond of such an abrupt conclusion.  It leads me to believe a 5th book is in the works.

I recommend reading the books in order and I recommend this specific book.

Web: http://charlesegannon.com/wp/


Caine Riordan
1. Fire with Fire (2013)
2. Trial by Fire (2014)
3. Raising Caine (2015)
4. Caine's Mutiny (2017)

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Learn how to be a: "Harper Voyager" super reader!

ARE YOU A HARPER VOYAGER?


Are you a fan of Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy or Horror?
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Please Note: This program is asking super readers to post honest reviews on Goodreads and consumer sites, participation in online Voyager events; virtual support of Voyager authors across social media. If you chose to post these reviews online at consumer websites, you must disclose in the review that you received your copy for free and send us a link to the review.
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Monday, March 13, 2017

The Skill of our Hands By Steven Brust and Skyler White.



As the second book in the series, this one made a lot more sense with the first book as background.  I’m still not sure if this is a philosophic treatise or a novel.  The ethical issues of near immortals influencing events by meddling begs the question of how they have the chutzpah to assume they are qualified to direct man’s destiny.  

This book had more action and slightly less conversation that the last one.  For me, that made it easier to read.  I’m still not overly thrilled as the verbosity tends to glaze my eyes.  A little more action would help to carry the story line although I did like this book better than the first one.  The book addresses some current issues particularly if you considered the current tumultuous political turmoil.


My evolution regarding Brust’s work is shown by the links’ below.  The guy is talented and perhaps just more esoteric than I am.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 2008

FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2009

SUNDAY, MAY 3, 2009


http://dreamcafe.com/



This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Incrementalists By Steven Brust and Skyler White.

The Butterfly Effect in Action



Brust has a tendency to be confusing and this book is no exception. My head was doing a little exorcist spinning about with the triggers, gardens, seeds and the shifts and the pushes and all the little mental tricks these people used to change society.  The book seems more like a philosophic treatise than it does a fictional book.

Phil is a 2000 year old poker player and Ren is his new squeeze, a new convert to societal conversion.   They are the main characters in the story. The Incrementalists are a group that uses psychological or sociological skills to push society in a manner that the group thinks is positive which is obviously pretty subjective.

Overall I had to push pretty hard to finish the book and give you points to ponder but as far as picking it up and wanting to read it for fun I can't recommend it. I've agreed to read the sequel and will make an attempt but I can't promise I'll finish it if it isn't any more exciting than this one. With that said If you're looking for some cocktail hour philosophic talking points you may enjoy this.

My evolution regarding Brust’s work is shown by the links’ below.  The guy is talented and perhaps just more esoteric than I am.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 2008

FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2009

SUNDAY, MAY 3, 2009


http://dreamcafe.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Kill Before Dying by Travis S. Taylor


Trail of  Evil was the first Taylor book I read.  It only earned three starships mostly because I felt out of it having not read the three previous books.  This jumps to 4 starships due to having had some background, the story makes more sense.  Former President Alexander Moore has taken his task force to the enemy, the Chiata.  The Chiata are a locust like scourge trying to cleanse the galaxy of all life but their own.   Moore doesn’t see that as a viable option and takes the war to a distant star system that may hold a key to human survival.

This, the fifth book in the series, made more sense having read it’s immediate precursor.  The characters were more familiar and the action was as non-stop as before.   Taylor’s books are a bit light on story line and very heavy on action.   That is not a criticism, merely an observation. 

I enjoyed the book, the addition of new entities and the guns, guns, guns action.

http://www.baen.com/authors/travis-s-taylor-4.html

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black



This was an outstanding story.  Earth is fighting Romeo through multiple alternative realities after surviving a Pearl Harbor kind of event. 

The planet is divided into non-incorporated people, settlements and cities.  The cities are the core of the defense, the settlements feed the cities and the others range the world in an unstructured, random tribal manner.

Black provided a large cast but spent sufficient time crafting each so that you got a good feel from their behavior, feelings and actions.  The aliens inadvertently introduced the Earth to a magic like power fueled by fontani people who provide the power to build the marvels of the city and defenses.

Black successfully blends the nomadic gypsy like folks with the settlement people and the often arrogant city people.  Black shows how cooperation, particularly from diverse elements can succeed where fighting alone would fail.

This was a totally captivating book and it seems to set up a sequel, I can’t wait to read it.


I highly recommend.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Rising by Jon Land and Heather Graham


This story starts with a football hero and a stereotypical nerd.  Alex is the hero and Sam is the nerd.   Samantha is Alex’s tutor.   The two discover that Alex isn’t what he seems and that the world as they know it is about to change.

The authors have crafted a likeable pair of teenagers.  They clearly show the over the top confidence that some teens exhibit but in this case, Alex isn’t posturing, he really is both physically and psychically a strong and good person.   Sam is a very bright young lady who starts to discover that her fiber is far stronger than she realized.

There are evil aliens, friendly aliens, a demented billionaire, a psychopathic soldier, drones, astral projections, stoners and ethnic diversity in the book.  It is hard to imagine how the authors could add any more variables.

They do a nice job is denigrating racial prejudice.   They also exhibit how obsession and self centered actions can lead to ignoring common decency.

There is non-stop action and a bit of mayhem.


http://www.theoriginalheathergraham.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Bone Cave by Sarah Remy




Remy has crafted an entire world that is subtly different from our own.  Mal has returned home but changed from his exposure to the draw of the sea.   Liam has grown both is size and in distrust of the man who he idolizes.   The prince/captain/captor has returned with Mal and Liam to draw their kingdom into an alliance.

Avani has served as Vocent, the king's counselor, mortician, detective and assassin while Mal was captive.  She has also grown in power and in skepticism.     The introduction of the desert people and their threat forces her to more fully accept her new role.

Remy crafts memorable characters and creates a new look at those who live under the barrows.   She has put together a plot and has woven a story of intricate tapestry with vivid colors and startling scenes.  The introduction of magic induced technology only adds to the delightful flavor of  this series. 

I really enjoyed the book.

Web: http://www.sarahremy.com/?book=stonehill-downs


This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers


This is a follow up to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, a story of tolerance, relationships and love set on the Wayfarer, a utilitarian space ship.   This story picks up on Pepper and Blue who were peripheral characters in the previous book.   It also details the coming of age of Sidra. 

Once again Chamber wrote a story that was far more than a space opera.  She explores intolerance and the definition of what is sentient.   With the increased mention of AI in today's headlines, Chambers is looking down the road at the ramifications of artificial intelligence.  

In addition Chambers addresses genetic manipulation and the impact that might have on society in general.  

The demonstration of tolerance and the facing of intolerance was an unflattering mirror to our less than tolerant society as demonstrated by the past election process and some of the vicious and racists demagoguery.

Chambers clearly showed the camaraderie and loyalty that is inspirational and laudable.   This could be a workbook for team building.    Pepper's quest to find Owl is an inspiration to the definition of loyalty.

It should be abundantly clear that I really enjoyed this book.  

I highly recommend it.

Web Site: http://tinyurl.com/zyupsup

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Unveiled by Ruth Vincent


This is a Changling P.I. novel.  Mabily Jones is out of place in New York.  Of course she is out of place anywhere in our world.   Mab is an Elf.  She has been stranded in the mundane world and must find some way to support herself.   This is the second story in the series.  Mab is now a private investigator.   She is shocked to find a cross over between one of her cases and her previous life.  

Obadiah is back but the tension is gone from the relationship and they seem to be a happy couple.  Obahdiah is suffering from withdrawal type symptoms that Mab is convinced is tied to the world of Faery.  

Someone or something is sucking the life out of young women and Mab is determined to stop it.  This leads to a trip to see her mother which is far more difficult to achieve than the norm and involves sharp instruments.

Elves are often portrayed as laudable characters in touch with nature.  Ms.Vincent sees elves in a different, novel way.   The story has action and romance. 

I recommend it.

web site:  http://ruthvincent.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Across The Long Sea by Sarah Remy




The follow up of Stonehill Downs may be better than the original.   Avani is growing into  her power while Mal takes an unwanted trip across the long sea.   Once again we see violence, talking to the dead and unrequited love.

Avani tries to avoid her destiny as a Vocent replacement while Mal struggles to stop a plague.   When Mal discovers the extent of his power when traveling by ship he recognizes the potential for addiction to destruction.  

Remy crafts memorable characters and has put together an excellent sequel with a consistent plot while maintaining separate story lines.

I really enjoyed the book.

Web: http://www.sarahremy.com/?book=stonehill-downs


This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Way To Glory by David Drake


Daniel Leary is still a Lieutenant in this book.   His beloved Sissies are still with him as is  Adele Mundy, Tovera and Hogg .  A munity and subsequent execution of the mutineers puts Daniel and his crew in an uncomfortable position.   Daniel's  normal creative interpretation of orders provides the excitement to the story.

The Horatio Hornblower series was one of my favorites series as a boy.  Drake uses that story type beautifully.  The camaraderie, loyalty and idolatry shown in Drake's characters is a hallmark of this series.  

Once again into the breach is the overriding theme.

I enjoyed the book and have enjoyed the series.

Web site: http://david-drake.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Stonehill Downs by Sarah Remy


A tale of cultural clash and poignant love, violence and discovery is told with compassion and detail.   Remy has created a land where lies magic and death and barrows and others.
This story details murder and growth.

Avani is a survivor of a natural disaster and both lonely and alone.   She tends sheep and weaves, seen as an outsider in Stonehill Downs.   Mal is a Vocent, the king's counselor, mortician, detective and assassin.   He is ghost ridden and is some ways as lonely as Avani.  

Remy crafts memorable characters and creates a new look at those who live under the barrows.   She has put together a plot and has woven a story of intricate tapestry with vivid colors and startling scenes.

I really enjoyed the book.

Web: http://www.sarahremy.com/?book=stonehill-downs




This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.