Required Reading

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Wolf Star by R. M. Meluch

The U.S.S. Merrimack battle class starship continues her journey battling the forces of evil. The Roman Empire’s strange behavior is explained by a new and ominous development. The book has lots of great battles and epic heroics.

I’m an admitted space opera addict. I love the action and the charismatic leaders. I enjoy the hard bitten marines and the no holds barred Captain. The political aspects of combat are not ignored. The knee jerk reaction to intrigue and politics by the line troops was one of the few clearly predictable behaviors.

The Farragut and Hamster and Steele and Blue relationships remain unrequited with a realistic look at the difficulty of interpersonal behavior between ranks. This is my second Merrimack book and I have purchased two more.

I highly recommend the book and the series.

Body of work of R. M. Meluch

Web Site:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is up to his hips in naked women. Asked to be security on an adult film set, Harry discovers it just isn’t that sexy. Harry makes a discovery that changes both his life and the way he looks at life in this story.

Once again, I enjoy the self depreciating humor that Butcher imbues in his protagonist. Harry is an eminently likeable person with an admitted rough around the edge skill set. His choice of friends and foes provide the basis for entertainment. Murphy is beginning to be seen as more than just a friend and Harry’s discovery of family colors his entire outlook.

I highly recommend the entire series. You will be seeing more as I have finally purchased all the ones that have currently been printed.

Body of work of Jim Butcher

Web Site:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Best eBook Reader for the Price The Book by Augen

Augen's The Book is an excellent value for the money.   $89.99.
Read my review at Money Saving Tech Tips. 

5/15/11  Not such a good deal, Zero tech support!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Trading In Danger By Elizabeth Moon

Once again Moon has captivated me with her characters and her plots. This author has the ability to create a character that is like the girl next door but with super powers. Kylara Vatta is no super hero but she has grit and determination that overpowers all obstacles. Her dismissal from her life’s dream and her resultant resurrection in another direction provides the focus of the story. The trials, tribulations and action are icing on a delicious cake.

Kylara’s introspection into her own motivations and her questioning attitude flesh out her character with reality. Kylara’s character becomes real and you keep paging because you begin to care for her and want to see what she is facing next. The book is the first in a series and I have refrained from reading it until I could acquire all the books or at least all that have been announced and published at this point. This looks like the beginning of a terrific series with some similarities to David Weber’s Honor Harrington and as far as I am concerned that is a very good thing.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Elizabeth Moon


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Masked An Anthology edited by Lou Anders

A compendium of not quite super heroes’ short stories provides some new looks at the super hero genre.

I’m never sure how to review an anthology. It doesn’t seem realistic to try and review each short story. The common thread seems to be that super heroes are not always heroic.

Showing that super heroes may have insecurities or anger issues provides a different look than you usually see in caped crusaders. I liked the way they had feet of clay. Matthew Sturges’ “Cleansed and Set in Gold” may have had one of the more unique ways for super heroes to get their powers that I have read.

None of the stories really grabbed me and made me go Wow but they were mostly entertaining. I would suggest running out to buy it but walking out to buy it would not be unreasonable. A caveat for my review is that I am not overly fond of short stories and that, no doubt, impacts my review.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Stephen Baxter
Body of work of Bill Willingham
Body of work of Peter David
Body of work of Kathleen David
Body of work of Mike Carey
Body of work of Mike Baron
Body of work of Mark Chadbourn
Body of work of Paul Cornell
Body of work of Daryl Gregory
Body of work of Joseph Mallozzi
Body of work of James Maxey
Body of work of Ian McDonald
Body of work of Chris Roberson
Body of work of Gail Simone
Body of work of Matthew Sturges
Body of work of Lou Anders

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hell Hath No Fury by David Weber and Linda Evans

Book two of the Multiverse series is also most engrossing. Evan’s and Weber’s portrayal of two unique civilizations on a road to conflict progress to the actual conflict itself. Arcana base magic technology challenges Sharona’s psychic talents and their science based technology. The multi-universal aspect is that both civilizations have discovered portal to alternate earths that have no populations until they confront each other.

David Weber and Linda Evans do a superb job in describing two dissimilar cultures and those cultures’ idiosyncrasies. As they alternate back and forth from culture to culture you find your sympathies vacillating as well. The beauty of their work is that you truly find things that are both laudable and stimulating for each culture. They are being drawn into conflict by serendipitous contacts and malicious behavior in spite of their root similarities.

The contrast of opposing technologies is interesting. What makes the book great is the emotional undertones. The ability to evoke strong emotions regarding the characters is rare. I cared for Emperor on Sharona and his family and loathed the Arcana villains.

My biggest disappointment with this book was the cliff hanger ending. Normally I don’t mind cliff hanger endings if there is a proposed forthcoming book to get you off the damn cliff. Sadly according to what I can see on the web there is no forthcoming volume let alone a conclusion in process. I wish the authors would have done a better wrap of the work if they weren’t planning on proceeding with the series in a timely manner.

I highly recommend the book with the caveat that I can almost guarantee that you will be strongly annoyed at the ending and the fact there is no foreseeable conclusion.

Body of work of David Weber
Body of work of Linda Evans

Web site
Linda Evans keeps a very low profile. I could find no website, no info or no photos.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day By Day Armageddon, Beyond Exile by J.L. Bourne

When I read Bourne's first book I was surprised to discover there is a Zombie story genre. This is the 2nd  Zombie story in his series.   It, too,  seems to attract a loyal following.  Once again the  protagonist is an active duty military officer in a nation that is combating an unknown disease. The disease turns out to be Zombieism (?) and the bulk of the world is infected. This continuing story centers on the survival of the few remaining uninfected humans.

I mentioned my initial reaction to the first book  was disdain. Zombies have never caught my attention. Bourne wrote the story as if it was a journal. He did a nice job capturing the qualities of the protagonist that enabled him to be a survivor. I was surprised that I liked the book.  It held my attention and if you changed the word Zombie to evil bikers or Nazi’s it seemed like just a good story. The action was solid and the close brushes with death seemed realistic. I still have trouble with the concept of Zombies but then there are probably some poor souls out there who have trouble conceptionalizing a dragon or troll.

This book continues the story and adds new characters.  The book has an authentic feel too it, complete with sketches and mis-spellings.  It really feels like a journal.  I liked this second volume too and as I said on the first review, ignore the label of A Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Novel and read this book as a war journal, it was surprisingly good and I recommend it.

Body of work of J.L. Bourne


Monday, July 12, 2010

Book of Shadows by Alexandra Sokoloff

A brutal murder becomes a paranormal nightmare for a pair of Boston homicide detectives. Adam Garrett finds himself unwilling to believe and yet unwilling to turn away from “wicked” help is solving some horrific murders.
Adam is a solid skeptic who struggles with inexplicable behavior. Garrett’s internal strife between his burning ambition and his overwhelming need to serve justice provides a lot of the tension in this book. A high profile murder with an easy solution seems like an ideal situation to feed his ambition and sate his “perfect” girlfriends need for a status successful mate.

Landauer’s gruff concern for Garrett’s well being and his stalwart loyalty were laudable emotions aptly illustrated by the author. She did a great job at creating believable characters and seemingly rational explanations for irrational behaviors.

I’ve never been a fan of satanic evil fare but this book combines a solid mystery and main stream acceptable protagonists with the, oh too popular, paranormal strife in a highly readable format. I liked it.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Alexandra Sokoloff

Web Site:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Chronicles of Nick)

A young man’s coming of age is complicated by werewolves, vampires, gods, demons and eccentric rednecks. When your Mom is a stripper and your Dad is on death row, life can be complicated. This story is a glorious escape down a New Orleans rabbit hole of fantastical characters.

Nick is a somewhat nerdy hard case. His doting Mom makes him crazy and his impoverished inclusion in a prestigious private school does not provide him with a sedate lifestyle. Sherrilyn Kenyon has a vivid, perhaps demented, but absolutely vivid imagination. The characters in the book are extraordinarily colorful and equally unbelievable. I guess I am going to have to track down more of her work. My only criticism is there could have been a little more back story on Ash and Kyrian and others who it seemed like should be familiar. Bubba was a hoot.

I truly enjoyed Nick’s smart mouth. I no doubt identified with the personality type that leads to the mouth running amuck, sadly I have no off setting powers.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Sherrilyn Kenyon

Web Site:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep

Retirement is difficult for Gin Blanco. Running the Pork Pit is enjoyable and cooking is wonderful but a lack of action is creating some boredom. The intrusion of an immature giant and a cowboy dwarf miner provides the impetus to reengage her assassin skills but this time for free.

Gin is a likeable rogue. (rougette?) Her tenacity is awe inspiring. She kicks butt with the best of them. Her unrequited love for Donavan Caine is a bit confusing. Owen Greyson seems like a better fit and has far fewer emotional hang-ups.

Finn, Sophia and Jo-Jo are loyal friends. I enjoy stories that highlight things like altruism, loyalty and honor. Gin as a character would reject all those attributes but exhibits them all. There is plenty of action and intrigue to the story. The end leads gracefully into the next book in the series, Venom.   This book was a good follow up to the first Elemental Assassin book, The Spiders Bite.

I love butt kicking female protagonists and Gin kicks butts with gusto.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Jennifer Estep

Web Site:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bio of a Space Tyrant Refugee Vol.1 and Mercenary Vol. 2 by Pierce Anthony

Volume 1 details how Hope Hubris reaches Jupiter and the horrific conditions he faced on getting there. Volume 2 details the rise of Hope Hubris in the Jupiter Navy and his campaign against the asteroid belt pirates. The books purpose to be the biography of the tyrant of Jupiter. It is written in almost a text book style.

I have mixed feelings about the book. Anthony seemed intent on providing a sense of normalcy for all manner of abnormal actions. It seemed like he wrote some sections to blatantly provoke emotions. This was done with a baseball bat style as opposed to his more smooth style seen in his later books.

The overt ethnic prejudice in the book dismayed me but that could be Anthony’s intent. My hopes when reading about proposed futures is that racism is a thing of the past and sadly the present but that we as a society will out grow it. This future illustrates a continued commitment to despicable practices.

The characterizations are somewhat superficial on any but the main characters. Spirit, who is Hope’s sister, plays a huge part in his growth. Helese his first love preyed on his mind throughout both books.

One of the things I did like about the book was Hope’s realization that he was not the center of the universe. He showed an understanding that great men become great due to surrounding themselves with an outstanding staff. It provided a more realistic protagonist.

The books both had pedantic moments. The author often described situations or explained things ad nausem. I have read a great deal of Piers Anthony’s work and this series is not a stellar example. It is worth reading but take a look at his Xanth series to see what he can really do.

Body of work of Piers Anthony

Web Site: