Required Reading

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Venom by Jennifer Estep

Dark, gritty urban fantasy at it’s best. I know, I said that on my Spider’s Bite review. Well this book is outstanding as well. Gin is absolutely ferocious in defense of those she loves. Her ability to take a beating is only surpassed by her willingness and ability to dish out a beating. When the entrenched villains go after her friends, Gin runs amuck.

Superficially this is just another action adventure in the urban fantasy genre. There is plenty of action and adventure but the underlying loyalty and honor are what make Jennifer Estep’s books stand out. Her characters aren’t two dimensional. She provides depth and background. The emotions and character of the cast are what gives the Spider series such appeal to me.

Overcoming daunting odds is Gin Blanco’s hallmark. A willingness to give her all for her admittedly questionable principles characterizes this extraordinarily tough woman. She depends on her physical skills with very little use of her elemental magic. Surrounded by a small cadre of stalwart friends she battles for revenge and her specific brand of justice.

Gin is not sweetness and light, she is razor wire, beautiful, sparkling in the sunshine and thoroughly deadly. Admittedly I am a fan of strong female protagonists and Jennifer Estep has graciously provided a multifaceted, butt kicking prime example.

I highly recommend this book and Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies.

Body of work of Jennifer Estep

Web Site:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lincoln’s Sword by Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald

This is a time skipping novel depicting incidents that impacted the Civil War and influenced Abraham Lincoln.

I intended to really enjoy this book as I was enamored with the Mage World Series done by the same authors. The book is billed as an alternate history of the Civil War. This book was as satisfying as a tofu burger, much ado but little or no substance. My first inclination is to blame the editors as the book bounces hither and thither through time with very little clear connection between events. It read as more of an outline than a book. You recognize the skill of the story tellers and it is as if they are teasing you by wafting the aromatic inklings of a good book and failing to deliver. This book is a disappointment.

If you consider this a short story as opposed to a novel I recommend it but this truly is Doyle and MacDonald light as opposed to the fulfilling work you probably expect from them.

Body of work of of Debra Doyle

Body of work of of James D. MacDonald
Web Site

Thursday, September 23, 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:

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Meeting At Corvallis by S. M. Stirling

There is little change in A Meeting at Corvallis.  Technology is still being suppressed by some unknown force. Beliefs and will seem to be gaining strength and becoming more real. The Protector’s
consistent enmity leads to war. Rudy and Mathilda’s relationship continues to grow. War, death and destruction with a peak of light at the end of the tunnel highlights the book.

I really enjoyed the characterization of Mike Havel’s nobility. The Rangers and their Tolkien fascination is both amusing and understandable. I thought the Stockholm syndrome in regards to those forced to live under the Association’s rule was a bit overdone. I did like the flashes of humanity seen in some of the staunches villains and I lamented over the closing act.

I recommend the book. I think Stirling has done a masterful job with this post apocalypse series.

Body of work of S. M. Stirling

Friday, September 17, 2010

Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb (a.k.a. Megan Lindholm

This is the first book in the Soldier Son Trilogy. Nevare Burvell, a second son, is destined to be the family soldier. His naïve acceptance that birth order is responsible for all aspects of life is challenged by his life experiences.
Once again Hobb creates a believeable society. Her characters have depth and passion. The stratitied nature of Nevare’s society is the basis for much of his behavior. A clear metaphor regarding progress and environment is illustrated. I enjoyed the relationship between Epiny and Nevare. The lack of women’s rights in the story helps to point out some of the continued inequities in today’s world. The author does a nice job of combining modern themes in a fantasy scenario that is extremely entertaining without pontificating.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Robin Hobb
Body of work of Megan Lindholm

Web Site:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Wee Free Men: The Begining by Terry Pratchett

This book contains the stories The Wee Free Men and A Hatful of Sky. Tiffany Aching is a witch. A pointy hat witch with no warts but never-the-less she is a witch. She demonstrates to her peers and constituents that she is a competent witch. This book chronicles her development into a witch and her early encounters with weird things and weirder teachers.

I hate saying I was wrong. My review of I Shall Wear Midnight was not terribly flattering. Well, I’m a convert. I loved this book and I think if I had read this first I would have loved I Shall Wear Midnight as well.

Prachett is known for his wacky humor but perhaps less obvious is the wealth of positive moral or value lessons that are adroitly inserted into the humorous rendition in this book. The Wee Free Men embody the characteristics of intoxicated soccer/football fans the world over. The innate moral fiber of Tiffany is stretched when she inadvertently leaves out some of her less beloved personality facets. She rebounds nicely and is able to integrate her first, second and third thoughts.

I am now a fan, I liked the value teachings, the humor and the stories.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Terry Pratchett

Web Site:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hell’s Gate by David Weber and Linda Evans

Book one of the Multiverse series is a most engrossing 1200 pages. Evan’s and Weber portray two unique civilizations on a road to conflict. Arcana bases their technology on magic. Sharona has psychic talents but bases their technology on science. 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. I can not wait to read the next volume, “Hell Hath No Fury”.

I highly recommend it and all of David Weber’s Work.

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.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Elder Gods by David and Leigh Eddings

This is your basic omnipotent evil villain vs. the good guys with minor gods assisting the good guys.

I haven't read any Eddings in awhile so I don't quite know how to feel. I wasn't as fond of this book as I have been with some of the past Eddings work. I always enjoy the banter and humor illustrated by the protagonists. The plot just didn't seem all that complicated. I guess it just didn't capture me like some of the other stuff they have written.

I do recommend it and plan on reading the rest of the series unless I get totally bummed out after all I bought the four book Dreamer series, I may as well read it.

Body of work of David Eddings

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Captain Bonny Morgan, The Cassandra Prophesy by Robert “Doc” Gowdy.

I expected more and I got less. This should be billed as erotic scifi. The plot was ok but there was way too much effort spent on titillating. (pun intended). I think it would be a better book with more plot and character development and less sex. If it was billed as an erotic novel I would have probably liked it better but when I expect a rousing space opera and instead just get arousing erotica, I am disappointed.
Captain Morgan was a butt kicking female and I like that type of characterization. The butt kicking could have been done without the intense descriptive account of her lack of attire. I just felt that detracted from the story.

I did like the cover art.

I recommend the book if you are into erotic scifi.

Body of work of Robert “Doc” Gowdy

Web site:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Darkest Edge of Dawn by Kelly Gay

Charlie Madigan is a female protagonist that takes no prisoners. In a world that deals with off world beings who have inspired a great deal of human mythology, Charlie thought she was normal. In he first book of this series she discovers that normalcy may not be attainable. In this book she and her partner, Hank, deal with an egocentric off world being with delusions of grandeur.
Charlie is a single mother for all intents and purposes. Emma her daughter and Bryn her sister are her points of vulnerability. She has a love/professional relationship with Hank. Charlie worries whether her attraction to her partner is a result of succumbing to his abilities as a siren and extraordinarily handsome or due to him being a genuinely good guy. Charlie’s self expectations are well beyond reason, she cuts herself no slack. I enjoyed the complexity of her feelings which Gay clearly showed. Most endearing is her loyalty and love for family and those close to her. Least appealing is her unwillingness to let her self reliance slack and get help from those who want to help her.

The off world influence on human mythology and history is an intriquing aspect to the series. I recommend that you read The Better Part of Darkness which is the first book in the series. I have linked to my review of that book. They can be read out of order but I think you will enjoy both books more if you read them in order.

I love butt kicking female protagonists and Charlie kicks butts with as much gusto as Jennifer Estep’s Gin.  I'm thinking a new genre BKFP (butt kicking female protagonists) may be in order.  

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Kelly Gay

Web Site:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Borders Has A $99 e-Reader

Available at Borders for $99.00 until September 14th.
• 5"-Diagonal Screen with Exclusive Monochrome Reflective Light LCD Technology
• Measures 6 x 4 x 0.35 Inches and Weighs Only 7.6 Ounces
• 512MB Total Built-in Memory with 32GB Expandable Memory
• Adjustable Type Size for Customizable Reading
• Built-in Lithium Ion Battery Offers 24 Hours' Continuous Reading
• Supports MP3 Files
• USB Connection Port
• 1 Year Warranty for Parts and Labor

cnet News
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