Required Reading

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Black Khan, Book Two of the Khorasan Archives by Ausma Zehanat Khan


The second book in a possible four book series, The Black Khan, again features Arian a strong female protagonist who is facing implacable misogynist foes.   Arian’s vocal power, called the Claim, is muted by a villain called the Authoritarian.   This, second book, shows how Arian and her allies deal with the search for the Bloodprint which for better terms is the bible of the Claim.

Arian is a driven character who is nearly overwhelmed with guilt over the loss of her sister in a Talisman raid when they were children.  In this book she meets her sister but the reunion has mixed results.   The Silver Mage finds himself defending Arian while sublimating his own desires. 

The problem with reading series one book at a time is continuity.  The first fifty pages of this book were taxing my memory as to who these people were and what were they trying to do.   There are a lot of characters and subplots.   After I got into the book, I was able to sort them out but with some difficulty.

The book was interesting but not captivating.  Some of the deprivations and behavior could have been pulled from headlines regarding religious zealots across the world.  That sadly provided some gritty reality to the story.

Treachery and duplicity seem to be the traits most valued by the bulk of the characters in the book.  

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, December 20, 2018

Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee


Astounding is not a compilation of stories from the science fiction magazine titled the same.   It is a story about John W. Campbell who is widely regarded as the father of modern scifi.   This biography discusses, in depth, the relationship of Campbell with the towering pillars of scifi, Asimov, Heinlein and L. Ron Hubbard.  

Asimov and Heinlein provide the ball bearings that led to my personal conveyorGlory Road which is one of the few fantasies that I have read multiple times. 

belt of ongoing love of science fiction and (gasp) fantasy.   Heinlein authored

Nevala-Lee puts together a narrative that provides an in-depth picture of Campbell and those around him in the “Golden Age” of science fiction.   The quotes are based on my skepticism as to the golden age as I have read relentlessly for over 65 years and I have found hundreds of stories, that don’t fit into that time period or narrow genre slot, that were outstanding and quite Golden!

Having just read the reviews previous to mine I have concluded I am a philistine.   I found this book interesting but hardly compelling.  I would much rather read science fiction and fantasy than read about people who wrote it.  Their work stands as their tribute.

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, December 15, 2018

Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik


This was a good story.  Rich girl meets bad boy.  A little more passion than the usual science fiction story. 

This is another story that portrays the future dominated by family run corporate oligarchs.  It seems to be a common theme and one, while enjoy it, I have trouble believing.   Corporate control I can envision but family held corporations seem like a stretch when pushed into the future.
There is genetic manipulation, blaster fire, loyalty, friendship, family and a smattering of passion.

I enjoyed the book and recommend. 



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, December 10, 2018

Into the Fire by Elizabeth Moon

Elizabeth Moon writes a good book and they most often include a strong female protagonist. This story reads well and stands alone well in spite of it being a follow-up to a series.  The characters are familiar if you read the series but it doesn't matter if you haven't it as it works very well as a standalone story.

Ky Vatta is the heroine and she and her fiancĂ© hope to buy a ship a blithely sail through the Galaxy in a Star Trek kind of way.   However, responsibilities prevent that from occurring.

Ky returns home to find that family enemies are once again pursuing their vendetta.  Ky’s families enemies have infiltrated both the military and business community.

Their vendetta has reached out to incarcerate the former staff and personnel of Ky when she was an admiral.  Ky’s responsibility for people under her command literally forces her into making an attempt to rescue them.


Moon provides a lot of details and excellent character studies and you also find a lot of action this book was enjoyable and I recommended.

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, December 4, 2018

Spotlight on The Shattered Sun by Rachel Dunne





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, November 30, 2018

Roar of Sky by Beth Cato

This is the final book in an excellent trilogy.  Call of Fire and Breath of Earth were the preceding volumes.  I would recommend reading them before reading this book.   This book wraps up the adventures of Ingrid, a geomancer, and her beau, Cy, an inventor.   

Cato does a good job of weaving social commentary into steam punk fiction.   Fenris has a secret and Cato makes it clear that a rigid societal structure can prevent an individual from reaching their potential.   Ingrid faces prejudice due to her skin color and her gender.   Cato makes it clear that talent should be seen and lauded regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.

The story brings into play the ambitions of a adventuristic Japan with history as a guideline.  Theodore Roosevelt adds color to the story albeit in a minor role.   The fantastics, creature of imagination also add color and interest to the story.   

I enjoy Cato’s books and highly recommend this series and any other of her works. 

Deep RootsWings of Sorrow and Bone, The Deepest Poison, The Clockwork Crown and The Clockwork Dagger are all worth reading.  Click on the titles to go to my reviews.



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, November 25, 2018

The Valley of Shadows by John Ringo and Mike Massa


This is actually a prequel to an excellent series about a zombie apocalypse. The Smith family is introduced and their background is provided to explain many of the following books. In this instance is the political interplay of all the parties in New York City at the advent of the zombie apocalypse.
The authors do a nice job illustrating the inability of people in political positions to play well with others. We aren't currently in a zombie apocalypse but the interplay between bodies of government and elected officials with the public has some similarities to a zombie apocalypse.

Having read a substantial part of the previous books which actually take place after this book I really enjoyed finding out the motivations of the characters and how they became who they were in the later books.

You'll find plenty of action and entertainment regardless of whether you read any of the other books in the series and it read well as a stand-alone.


I enjoyed the book and recommended

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, November 20, 2018

The Storm by David Drake


The Storm by David Drake

Lord Pal is a warrior, a champion and a Maker.   He is unusual as most Makers are not warriors.  He is also unique in he is modest.   As a Champion he is expected to defend the Commonwealth.  This book details his travels doing just that.

Drake creates another environment in this book.   There are nodes of normalcy surrounded by waste.  The nodes are connected by roads which need to be traveled by those who can see it.   Lord Pal can see through the eyes of his dog.   Dogs appear to be able to travel and guide those who travel the road.   The adventures Lord Pal has are interesting and have a fair amount of action. 

The humble nature he exhibits is contrary to the norm of Champions or Lords.  He is in love with Lady May and finds relationships confusing.   A Maker is one who can see the connections apparently and the molecular level of the tools of the ancients.   Makers can recreate what they can sense in the tools of the Ancients. 

As confusing as this sounds it read easily and entertainingly.

I recommend it.


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, November 15, 2018

Denver Moon:The Minds of Mars by Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola



Sometime in the future, Mars has been settled and is undergoing terra forming.  Denver is a private eye who finds herself in a family nightmare.   Her dead grandfather is communicating with her.

I enjoyed the characterizations of the AIs.   Looking at Alexa and Google and one has to wonder how soon this science fiction will be reality.   I’ve been a scifi fan for 60+ years and so much of what I read is  now reality.   The book appears to be a vehicle for setting up a series.  It left a lot of loose ends to lead to another story.

The status of self-aware beings brings up questions that led to our own civil war and slavery.  

There was action and colorful adventure, I enjoyed the book. 

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, November 10, 2018

Black Triumph by Brendan DuBois


This is the sequel to Dark Victory.  Sgt. Randy Knox is back and so is his K9 companion, Thor.  They are still fighting Creepers, the alien invaders that look like scorpions.   Randy has to face both personal and professional obstacles.   He thought the Creepers were defeated but….

The author does a good job showing the vulnerability of teens as well as their resilience.   The Creepers and their mission are explained but does that really change anything.  Randy is forced to rely on his hard-earned common sense.

Good action and some thought provoking soul searching provided to Randy.

A very good YA book that I enjoyed. 

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, November 6, 2018

November 6, 2018 GET OUT AND VOTE



Graphic from IVN (Independent Voter News)
Just Do It!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Saints: Monster Hunter Memoirs by Larry Correia and John Ringo


Saints: Monster Hunter Memoirs by Larry Correia and John Ringo

I am relatively new to the Monster Hunter series and I have to admit they are fun to read.  There is a general irreverence and specific suspicions as to the veracity and reliability of government.  This is description of Iron Hand AKA Oliver Chadwick Gardenier exploits in a monumental battle in New Orleans.

The authors show an acceptance of a wide variety of beliefs and faiths that merely accompany an action enhanced plot.  It is also shown the belief that as soon as the government gets their fingers in a pie that you may as well throw out the pie and start over.  The broader than reality brush used sometimes lulls the reader into missing the philosophic lessons the authors are providing.

On the other hand, you can ignore all the nuances and just enjoy a rousing shoot’em up.

I enjoyed the book and I have enjoyed the series.



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, October 31, 2018

Barren by Peter V. Brett


This is a novella which surprisingly does not mean a small nova.   If you have read any of my reviews you have to be aware that my sense of  humor is an acquired taste.   The book takes place as part of the Demon Cycle that is Brett’s bread and butter.   Selia, the town speaker, is forced to defend both her body and her reputation as the demons demonstrate new threats.

The author attacks preconceived notions on sexuality.  He does a very good job on showing why prejudice is short sighted.  In the book, prejudice isn’t short sighted but dangerous to boot.

I am not familiar with Brett’s universe but this novella impressed me with both its willingness to address societal issues and the vibrant color of its setting.

I recommend the book. 



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, October 26, 2018

Spotlight on The Rift Uprising Trilogy by Amy S. Foster


THE RIFT CODA
Book Three of the Rift Uprising Trilogy
10/9/2018
Harper Voyager Hardcover | $24.99
ISBN  9780062443236
 The Rift Coda
The Rift Frequency
The Rift Uprising 


The exciting, action-packed finale to The Rift Uprising trilogy that rivals the thrills and action of The Hunger Games and Red Rising.
Ryn Whittaker started an uprising. Now she has to end it.
Not long ago, Ryn knew what her future would be—as a Citadel, a genetically enhanced super-soldier, it was her job to protect her version of Earth among an infinite number of other versions in the vast Multiverse at any cost. But when Ezra Massad arrived on Ryn’s Earth, her life changed in an instant, and he pushed her to start asking why she was turned into a Citadel in the first place.
What began as merely an investigation into her origins ended up hurling Ryn, Ezra, and Ryn’s teammate Levi through the Multiverse and headlong into a conspiracy so vast and complex that Ryn can no longer merely be a soldier . . . she must now be a general. And in becoming a true leader, she must forge alliances with unpredictable species, make impossible decisions, and face deep sacrifices. She must lead not thousands, but hundreds of thousands of troops under her command and in doing so, leave any trace of her childhood behind.
Ryn always knew that she was created to fight. But now she must step forward and lead.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amy S. Foster was born in Victoria, Canada, and studied international business at American University in Washington, DC. Her debut novel, When Autumn Leaves, was published in 2009. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and their three children.


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, October 21, 2018

Dragon Shadow By Elle Katharine White


Dragon Shadow By Elle Katharine White

This is the second book of the Heartstone Series.  Heartstone was the first book of the series and it was great.  Aliza and Alastair Daired are the protagonists and now a married couple.   They accept a contract to rid the Lake Meera area of an unknown monster.   Akarra, Alastair’s dragon did not have a major role in this book, much to my disappointment.  

White tackles some marital issues that are not normally addressed in a fantasy novel.   She does it tastefully and points out that tragedy can be over come.   Her story is populated, once again, by fantastic creatures some of whom are even likeable.

White address love and its nuances quite well.   Some good lessons can be learned.


I enjoyed the book. 


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, October 16, 2018

Stranger Magics by Ash Fitzsimmons



I had no clue what to expect from this book.  It is an urban fantasy which brings the Fae into conflict with mere mortals and wizards while demonstrating the dangers of sibling rivalry.

The author did very good character development, particularly with Colin.  Colin is Fae or at least partial Fae.  He has lived a long, long time and has done things he has later regretted.   His current occupation is working with a priest in pseudo exorcisms. 

The character interplay was good as well as the soul searching by Colin.   The sibling rivalry with his brother was well played.  

Fitzsimmons wrote an excellent book that I enjoyed greatly!


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, October 11, 2018

The Caledonian Gambit by Dan Moren



A repressive galactic imperium intends to conquer another star system when said star system destroys their access to the galaxy.   A lone prisoner, Eli, finds himself scrubbing toilets for the intended victim.   After five long years, Eli finds himself free but immersed in a plot to thwart the imperium he had served.

Moren does a nice job with his characters.   Eli and his PTS is sadly demonstrative of many of our current service people coming home from the wars.   Eli’s teaming up with enemies of his former employer is not far fetched as his home had been a former victim of the imperium. 

Kovalic’s special operations squad tackles a mystery and Eli ends up being torn between sibling rivalry, operational success and self loathing.

I enjoyed the book.


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, October 6, 2018

The Accidental War by Walter Jon Williams

I haven’t read any Walter Jon Williams in quite awhile.   This book is a novel of the Praxis and I’m guessing part of a series.   The story ends without a conclusion so I expect to see a sequel.  The two main characters are Sula and Gareth.   Former lovers and now no more than associates or so it seems.  I just opened the book again and see this isn’t a first book of the series but at least the third.  I guess I have some back reading.

An association of species brought together as an empire by a now deceased race is struggling to maintain the status quo.  A society wrapped in layers of bureaucratic rigmarole and entrenched hereditary leadership is starting to crumble.   Sula and Gareth are both symptomatic and causative. 

The story had enough nuances and action to keep me entertained.



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, October 1, 2018

Silverhorn by Marri Champie




This is a complex book to describe.  It is historical fiction, fantasy and urban fantasy in one slim volume.   An upcoming rocker comes face to face with a blast from the past, that is way back in the past.  In the meantime she is forced to discover some things about her self and her ancestry.

The story illustrates the adage of love conquers all.   The love between friends, family and lovers is shown.  The depth of love for one’s child is demonstrated.  

Willa was and is a wild child.   Close cropped hair, attitude and talent set her apart.   Her band is becoming successful and she is coping with stardom and driven by a need to find her inter-being. 

The historical aspects are intriguing suggesting several well known theories of early migration and tying them to Celtic fantasy.

Corwyn brings fantasy to life and he and Willa discover each other.   I enjoyed the interplay with the bandmates and the anthropomorphism.  

This was a treat to read and I highly recommend it. 

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, September 26, 2018

Fury by Rachel Vincent


I read Spectacle and enjoyed it, this is the follow up. The stage was set with Spectacle and I would recommend reading it prior to this book as the back story is really important. Delilah, Gallagher and the others continue their journey in this book.   The story is more in the moment and less philosophical than Spectacle

Gallagher and Delilah are on the run as are all cryptids.  There is an outside influence that is loosely, vaguely and briefly alluded to that may be the cause of all of the aberrant problems.  It is never made clear if “others” are who set the stage for the mass murders that are blamed on the cryptids.  

The relationship of Gallagher and Delilah is given greater attention in this book.   The other cryptids are more of a supporting cast.   The confrontation with the surrogates leads to the conclusion of the book.

I enjoyed the work and recommend it.


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, September 21, 2018

Time traders by Andre Norton


I have read Norton for more years and I can remember. This story says the first printing was in November of 2000. I suspect that it was printed by someone else prior to then. The technology is somewhat dated but Norton as a storyteller is outstanding. The US is in a race with the Russians to find a source of advanced technology. The race is because the Russians have found some trove of advanced technology and the US needs to prevent  the Russians from getting ahead of them.

This is a first book in the series. The protagonists are sent back in time to try and discover where the advanced technology the Russians have found originated. The story has a limited relationship to the Russians and more so to the adaptation of the protagonist to the advanced technology they discover.

Their adventures and explanations of alien culture provide the excitement to the book.

I recommend it.

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, September 18, 2018

Need an Illustrator For Your Book?

Introducing DART

Dani has illustrated 10 books for me.  I also produce books for clients and she has illustrated 6 books for them.  My web page is www.bentrim.info .  Click on Terrific Illustrator on the left hand tool bar to see examples of the work she has illustrated.   Her prices are very reasonable. 

I am posting this as a favor, no money changed hands for this recommendation.   Dani is attempting to go full time as an illustrator and needs more work.   Please take a look at a page on my web site to see examples of her work. 

She is available at:


Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Study in Honor by Claire O'Dell



This book is set in a not too distant future that is been impacted by the divisiveness of today's politics. You don't need to be clairvoyant to consider the impact that the divisiveness in our nation today could easily lead to a second Civil War. When the commander-in-chief is suggesting that we assault  our neighbor if they disagree with anything he says then you can see how this could lead to future Civil War.

 The protagonist is a surgeon who has lost her arm in a battle and is currently trying to survive on veteran’s benefits and a prosthetic arm that is insufficient to allow her to continue her profession as a surgeon.

Our protagonist is also black and this fact postulates that in that divisive near future skin color will lead to discrimination and anger. Our doctor is angry, angry at a society that is treated differently based on their color,  angry at a society that can have a civil war and angry about the loss of role of her arm.

She becomes embroiled with a woman who confuses her as to her motivations and talents.  The two of them seek to find what is truly the root cause of the many deaths and the destruction internally of a nation.

This book was really well done and you could feel the anger coming off the pages and say that was justified.

I highly recommend. 

After posting on Amazon, I read some of the other reviews, I don't do that before I write my own for obvious reasons.   I was surprised at the number of people who got hung up on a Sherlock Holmes comparison that seemed like a stretch to me.   

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, September 11, 2018

The Rift Coda by Amy S. Foster


This is a third book and an excellent trilogy.  Foster has created a very strong female protagonist and brings the three book series to a very satisfactory conclusion.

Ryn has matured through the 3 books.  I enjoyed how she learned to deal with maturity.  The plot does a nice job of showing how cooperation even among those who are radically different is necessary to achieve some goals.

I have seen this series as a young adult series and I was a bit put off at how detailed Foster made the final connection between Ryn and Levi.  It is probably naivety on my part to think that young readers are not familiar with everything Foster suggested.   I just thought the final connection was more detailed than it needed to be. 

I enjoyed the book and the series however I will not be giving it to my granddaughter. 

The other books in the Trilogy




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, September 6, 2018

Cyberstorm by Matthew Mather


This book was entirely too frightening considering the incredible amount of technology that is dependent upon communication. If you take out the net think about all of the things that are currently connected to each other via the internet and what would happen if none of it work.

The author does an excellent job of showing a post Armageddon type of reaction in community as densely populated as New York City.

The characters are well portrayed as having faults and flaws and having altogether too human responses to the collapse of society.

Hopefully those with the ability to cripple our infrastructure will recognize the crippling one nations infrastructure in today's interdependent world could easily lead to a worldwide catastrophe.

I can't say I enjoyed the book as much as I found frighteningly plausible

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