Required Reading

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Monday, April 6, 2020

The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag


I really wanted to like this book, it is trying to show women as strong protagonists. It may do that but it does it in such a convoluted way that it was hard to read. An eventual battle between siblings is the conclusion of the story.


The characters in this book are supposed to discover who they are and find their strengths and it does that but I really felt it was disjointed and I had trouble reading it. I am sure that this book will resonate with some people sadly I'm not one of them. 

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, April 2, 2020

Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett

This is a sequel to Foundryside.  Sancia, who has an embedded plate in her head which allows her to see scribing which could be defined

as magical writing, is the main character.  She and her band of misfits are faced with an extremely powerful villain, who may be the originator of scribing.

The story is colorful with a wealth of interesting characters. There is plenty of action but perhaps the more interesting aspect of the story is the ability of the people to form a collective mind and what that would mean to social issues.  The story sets up for the next in the series.  It does have somewhat of a conclusion which really doesn’t satisfy any of the protagonists.

I really enjoyed the book and I  highly recommend 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.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Spotlight on The Price of Safety buy Michael C. Bland


A surveillance-heavy future U.S. blurs lines

between utopia and dystopia in “The Price of Safety”
Family takes center stage in fast-paced sci-fi thriller

DENVER, CO – In a 2013 interview with David Marchese of New York Magazine, Margaret Atwood famously stated that “within every dystopia, there’s a little utopia.” Michael C. Bland’s “The Price of Safety” (World Castle Publishing, April 6, 2020) embodies this punchy aphorism, diving into a fictional society where all citizens are safe, yet all are watched. In connection with current concerns regarding corporate and governmental data mining, Bland pulls readers along the fine line between progression and regression.

By 2047, no crime in the U.S. goes unsolved. No wrongdoing goes unseen. When Dray Quintero learns his 19-year-old daughter Raven committed a heinous act, he covers it up to save her life. This pits him against the police he’s respected since he was a child and places him in the crosshairs of Kieran, a ruthless federal Agent. To survive, Dray must overcome the surveillance system he helped build and the technology implanted in the brains and eyes of the citizens.

Forced to turn to a domestic terrorist group to protect his family, Dray soon realizes the sheer level of control of his adversaries. Hunted and betrayed, with time running out, will Dray choose his family or the near-perfect society he helped create?

MICHAEL C. BLAND: Michael is a founding member and the secretary of BookPod: an invitation-only, online group of professional writers. He pens the monthly BookPod newsletter where he celebrates the success of their members, which include award-winning writers, filmmakers, journalists, and bestselling authors. One of Michael’s short stories, “Elizabeth,” won Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest 2015 Popular Fiction Awards contest. Three short stories he edited have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Another was adapted into an award-winning film. Michael also had three superhero-themed poems published in The Daily Palette. He currently lives in Denver with his wife Janelle and their dog Nobu. His novel, The Price of Safety, is the first in a planned trilogy. For more information about Michael’s life and work, visit www.mcbland.com.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Spider’s Revenge by Jennifer Estep


Estep does a strong female protagonist very well.   This book is part of a series but stands alone quite nicely.  Estep does a good backstory in an organic manner.   Gin or Spider’s  goal is to kill Mab, the fire elemental and queen of crime who destroyed her family.

The story is fast paced.

Gin whose alter ego is Spider the infamous assassin does a great deal of introspection.   This is part of the organic nature of the backstory.   She finally accepts that she needs to allow those who love her to help her.

Good story, 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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Queen of Storms by Raymond E. Feist


This is book two of the Firemane series.   Book one was King of Ashes which I thoroughly enjoyed.   This book picks up with Declan and Hatu settling down and finding love.   The expected villains are supplanted by unexpected villains.   Chaos ensues.

The story includes battles, kidnappings and intrigue as well as perfidy and treachery.   Some bit players from the first book are provided with larger roles to play.   Feist, once again, disposes of some characters with the stroke of a pen rather than the swift, sure stroke of a sword.   I hate when he kills off someone who I have enjoyed.

The plot is tight and intricate and assorted variables are introduced to keep you guessing.   Feist is a master story teller.

I really enjoyed this book and hope Feist is working diligently on the next volume,  the sooner it arrives the better. 

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 13, 2020

When the Tide Rises by David Drake



Commander Daniel Leary and Adele Mundy are a mismatched pair.   Leary a natural naval warrior and Mundy, a sure shot librarian.   Once again they go up against a superior force of the Alliance while defending their beloved Republic of Cinnabar. 

Daniel, again, uses his unique skills to address his orders in a manner his superiors never considered.   Mistress Mundy's skills in data acquisition provide Daniel with the logistical edge to support his creative military genius.

Drake seems to value loyalty and courage as he ascribes those characteristics as well as an inordinate sense of duty to his characters.

Drake demonstrates that leaders who lead with their subordinates fates in mind get the loyalty of those subordinates.

A little less action than I would have hoped, Drake became a bit pedantic in this volume.

Regardless, I still enjoyed the book 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.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Spotlight on The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag



 Menna van Praag’s 

THE SISTERS GRIMM 
(Harper Voyager; 3/31/2020) is one of the most anticipated SF/F publications of the spring with Library Journal already praising the epic fantasy for its “highly imaginative plot and vivid worldbuilding.” A bewitching novel evoking the dark edge of V.E. Schwab and Leigh Bardugo, THE SISTERS GRIMM “braids mystery, magic, and a vicious hunt for power into a dark, delicious story of four estranged, supernatural sisters.” (Publishers Weekly)

THE SISTERS GRIMM is sure to resonate with readers of Deborah Harkness and Erin Morgenstern who seek out strong female characters.  Fans of SyFy’s hit series The Magicians will be enthralled with the lives of Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea—the daughters of a demon who desires earthly domination and uses his offspring to help him corrupt humanity. 

The daughters dream of a strange otherworld: the shadowland of Everwhere.  Here the four girls, half-sisters connected by blood and magic, began to nurture their elemental powers together, but are separated at the age of thirteen. Now, five years later, they must search for one another to rediscover their supernatural strengths and return to Everwhere to realize their full potential. As Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea are beset with the challenges of their earthly lives, they prepare for the battle that lies ahead. On their eighteenth birthday, they will be subjected to a gladiatorial fight with their father’s soldiers. If they survive, the daughters will face their father and confront the sinister intention of their creation.

Kirkus praises “…van Praag's atmospheric prose, intriguing premise, and diverse cast of characters receive high marks.” 

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 3, 2020

Anti-Grav Unlimited by Duncan Long



Phil Hunter got fired from his lab job right after he made a revolutionary breakthrough.   He sought solace with his friend Craig when someone made an attempt on his life.   He soon discovered that revolutionary breakthroughs threaten the status quo and the haves do not want to share with the have-nots.
Phil finds a friend in Nikki, Craig’s cloned lover.  Together they cobbled together a gang with a broken down spacer and put together a team to reach for the stars.
There is plenty of action and some descriptive passages of a dystopian nature.  
The book reads like a YA but I don’t really know if it is, regardless I enjoyed 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, February 27, 2020

Queen by Timothy Zahn

Knight is the sequel to Pawn and Pawn is followed by Queen.   I’ve always enjoyed Zahn’s work.   He writes a good story and his characters show moral strength.  Nicole, a Philadelphia street wise alley rat has grown a great deal since Pawn and Knight.   This volume finds her gaining confidence in her role and recognizing that she has something to give to others.


Zahn has done a good job in developing the character of Nicole.   Her growth is accompanied by growing pains.  She has alienated some human friends and gained some alien friends.   The evil overlords, the shipmasters, soon discover that Nicole is what she claims, the Protector of the ship.  They attempt to add allies to their mission of enslavement but that has unexpected results.

This is a saga of personal growth as well as a good space opera.

Zahn creates a great mini world within the Fyrantha, an alien warship/AI struggling to stay alive.

I enjoyed the book 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.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Midshipman Henry Gallant In Space by H. Peter Alesso


An alien race has been hidden on Titan for an unknown time.   The United Planet forces battle the Titans.

Henry is a Natural.  In an age of wide spread genetic engineering, Henry is an aberration.    Henry finds himself the subject of discrimination.   Unknown to his peers, Henry is enhanced not by gentech but by natural selection.

Henry proves to be able to do and see things his peers and leaders are unable to do.

  
The book is the first in a 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.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Knight by Timothy Zahn



Knight is the sequel to Pawn.   I’ve always enjoyed Zahn’s work.   He writes a good story and his characters show moral strength.  Nicole has grown a great deal since Pawn.  She is becoming the actual protector of the Fyrantha and sees the need to confront the Shipmasters.

Zahn has done a good job in developing the character of Nicole.   She is becoming confident and discovering she does not need to be a pawn.   Humans are prisoners but although they have pacifistically defied the Shipmasters they are increasingly put into the position where pacifism may be impossible.

Zahn creates a great mini world within the Fyrantha, an alien warship/AI struggling to stay alive.
I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next book in 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, February 12, 2020

Pawn by Timothy Zahn



I’ve always enjoyed Zahn’s work.   He writes a good story and his characters show moral strength.  This book deals with a street smart girl who finds herself on a space ship.

Nicole is a street waif from Philadelphia.  Her character is browbeaten and physically beaten by the gang she is associated with.   The story allows her to develop some self esteem and begin to be the person she has hidden inside.

Zahn creates a great mini world within the Fyrantha, an alien warship/AI struggling to stay alive.
I enjoyed the book and look forward to the sequel.  

A few of the Zahn’s I have read:
Pawn's Gambit by Timothy Zahn
Judgement at Proteus by Timothy Zahn
The Domino Pattern by Timothy Zahn
Odd Girl Out by Timothy Zahn
The Third Lynx by Timothy Zahn
Night Train to Rigel by Timothy Zahn
Cobra Alliance by Timothy Zahn; Book 3 of the Cobra War
Dragonback Bargain by Timothy Zahn

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

Crush the King by Jenifer Estep


This is the next book in the Crown of Shards series.   I enjoyed Kill the Queen and Protect the Prince which preceded it.   Evie who has dodged assassination in every book decides to go on the offensive against her enemy King Maximus.

The book is characterized by loyalty and love by Queen Everleigh and fear, hate and loathing by King Maximus and his minions.  Evie will do anything to protect her people and her nation.   


Maximus will do anything to maintain his power and terrify his people including his blood relatives.
Esteps portrayal of Queen Everleigh is not just rose petals and vanilla.  She shows that even good people can be driven to do things they abhor to save things they love.

I enjoyed the book and 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.

Friday, February 7, 2020

An Interview with Wendy Terrien, Author of The Rampart Guard Series.




An  Interview  with

Wendy Terrien author of  The  Rampart  Guards  series


1.                How  has  your  journey  into  writing  helped  you  grow  as  an  author? 
I’d  considered  myself  to  be  a  good  writer  and  thought  I  was  well  prepared  to  write  a  novel,  but  I was  so  wrong.  I  had  tons  to  learn  and  it  was  fantastic.  My  brain  lit  up  like  a  fireworks  finale.  I could  not  get  enough.  That  has  since  led  to  meeting  incredible  people  and  establishing  myself  as a  member  of  a  writing  tribe  here  in  Colorado  where  I  feel  really  comfortable,  really  at  home.  I’m also  in  a  position  to  give  back  and  help  new  writers,  and  I  enjoy  that  very  much. 

2.                What  do  you  think  will  surprise  readers  most  about  “The  Rampart  Guards”  series? Every  cryptid  that  appears  in  the  book  actually  exists!  At  least  on  the  internet.  There  are numerous  sites  that  follow  and  discuss  the  likelihood  that  certain  creatures  exist,  and  many  share photos,  videos,  historical  stories,  etc.  So  if  a  reader  is  intrigued  by  any  or  all  of  the  cryptids,  they can  Google  that  cryptid  and  make  the  decision  for  themselves  if  that  particular  creature  does  or does  not  exist. 
  
3.                What’s  your  goal  when  you’re  writing  for  your  readers?
I  hope  my  book  lights  up  their  imagination.  I  want  to  write  stories  that  are  fun  to  read  and  give the  reader  a  chance  to  visit  another  world  for  a  while.  It’s  great  to  let  your  imagination  run  free and  see  where  it  takes  you  —  it’s  energizing. 

4.     What  has  been  your  favorite  or  most  exciting  experience  as  an  author  to  date? Have  I  mentioned  I  can't  pick  favorites?  And  regarding  this  question,  that  is  definitely  true.  The entire  experience  has  been  one  thrill  after  another.  The  first  time  I  typed  “the  end”  was  amazing, when  I  found  out  my  story  was  selected  as  a  finalist  in  the  San  Francisco  Writers  contest  I  was giddy,  the  starred  review  from  Kirkus  Reviews  for  “The  Rampart  Guards”  knocked  my  socks  off, the  first  review  from  a  young  reader  made  me  glow  inside  —  and  I  could  go  on.  Bottom  line, being  an  author  makes  me  happy. 

5.     You  write  such  exciting  young  adult  fiction.  What  advice  would  you  impart  to  a young,  aspiring  writer?
When  someone  criticizes  your  work,  and  they  will,  don't  let  that  knock  you  down.  Take feedback,  good  and  bad,  and  use  it  to  your  advantage.  Learn  from  it  and  make  changes.  That  may mean  you  take  classes  or  workshops  to  improve  your  skills,  or  it  may  give  you  more  awareness of  how  your  work  appears  to  others  versus  how  you  see  it,  or  it  could  give  you  insight  into something  else  you  didn't  realize  you  needed.  There  are  a  million  possible  lessons,  but  I  promise none  of  them  are,  "You  should  quit." 

6.     We  know  writing  makes  you  happy.  What  else  brings  delight  to  your  day?
I  love  the  dogs  we  share  our  life  with:  Shea  and  Boon.  They’re  both  rescues.  Shea  is  our  mighty dog.  She  came  to  us  through  the  Boulder  Humane  Society  after  she’d  been  transferred  from Kansas.  Her  mom  was  a  stray  and  was  going  to  be  euthanized  until  they  saw  how  far  along  she was  in  her  pregnancy.  A  kind  soul  fostered  her  and  the  puppies  until  they  could  all  be  moved  to Colorado  where  they  had  a  better  chance  at  adoption.  And  I’m  happy  to  say  they  all  found homes,  mom-dog  included.  And  Boon  is  a  sweetheart  we  adopted  from  a  shelter  in  Arizona where  my  mom  was  living  at  the  time.  He’d  been  there  for  nearly  a  year,  likely  because  he  looks like  he  may  have  some  pit  bull  in  him.  He’s  as  sweet  as  sweet  can  be  and  we’re  lucky  to  have him.  Boon’s  personality  and  the  misinformation  about  the  pit  bull  breed  inspired  me  to  make Finn  —  a  very  cool  canine  character  in  the  Jason  Lex  series  —  a  pit  bull  mix.

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, February 2, 2020

The Forge of Bonds by Wendy Terrien

International  best-selling  author  Wendy Terrien’s  latest thrilling  addition  to the Rampart Guard Series 

DENVER,  Colorado  –  The  bonds  of  friendship  are  tested in  the  newest  chronicle  of  the  Adventures  of  Jason  Lex. “The  Forge  of  Bonds,” ( Feb.  25,  2020,  Camashea  Press) by  best-selling  author  Wendy  Terrien,  finds Rampart Guard  Jason  and  Yowie  Sadie  Callahan  adjusting  to  the aftermath  of  their  previous  separate  adventures.

Recalling the lives he was forced to take, Jason’s reluctance to  kill  again  doesn’t  go  unnoticed  by  Sadie, who  faces  her  own  struggles  as  she  attempts  to  embrace her  new  powers  and evade  her  nemesis  Garrison  Devine. With loyal  dogs  Shay  and  Finn,  the  two  continue  their quest  to  protect  humankind  from  the  malevolent  cryptids among  them.

The  latest  installment  of Terrien’s  award-winning  YA contemporary  fantasy  is  a  coming-of-age story  where friendships  thrive  despite  adversity  —  and  ultimate  danger. 

 “The  Forge  of  Bonds”  
         (Chronicle  Three  in  the  Adventures  of  Jason  Lex) 


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, January 28, 2020

Wrath of the Fury Blade by Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee

This is a fantasy based in an Elven city where humans and non-pure elves suffer discrimination.  A series of murders leads constable Reva to be paired with a new partner, Ansee, to solve them.

The authors did good character development. 

The problem of addiction was addressed circumspectly.   I had hoped the test results of Wake would have been addressed.   Was it adulterated in some way and if so by whom.

The idea of racial purity and consequent discrimination was shown as detrimental.

The mystery was good and had enough variable to maintain interest.


I enjoyed the book 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.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Flamebringer By Elle Katharine White


This is the third  book of the Heartstone Series.  Heartstone was the first book of the series and it was great. The Daired family is a moving force in the kingdom.    Aliza and Alastair Daired are the protagonists.   They travel to the capital to convey a warning and are too late.

Once again, I am disappointed that the dragon roles are minimal.   I did enjoy the hobgoblins and Tobble in particular.   The villain isn’t who it seems and then like the proverbial onion, peel back another layer and make another discovery.

The relationships are the what makes White’s books special.  She gives her characters depth.

This appears to be the final book in a trilogy.

It was a worthwhile trip, try taking 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.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Palace by Katherine Kerr and Mark Kreighbaum



Palace is a novel of the Pinch which is the area that has been “pinched” off of the rest of the galaxy.   Interstellar gates that use to lead to the rest of the galaxy no longer work and haven’t for a millennium.   The technology of the Pinch is sophisticated but not as sophisticated as before.   Due to war, the AI s that controlled most everything were damaged and much technology has been lost.   The ensuing years have left a society that is stratified and stagnant.    A cull from the pleasure sector suddenly finds her life changed.
Vida, the cull, is thrust into political intrigue and violence.   A mysterious “Riva” seems intent on causing her harm.   Vida appears to have innate abilities to relate to artificial intelligence that are merely touched on in this book.  
The authors do good characterizations with plenty of action.  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.

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Emperor’s Edge Collection by Lindsay Buroker

This is books 1, 2 and 3.  Buroker has the enviable distinction of being to evoke emotion.   Buroker has also crafted a strong, resourceful female protagonist in Amaranthe.   Amaranthe is still trying to clear her name.  She has successfully crafted a team to protect the emperor even if the emperor doesn't know it.  



Describing them selves as self employed mercenaries (is that redundant?), Amaranthe leads a motley crew.  Sicarius, the infamous assassin, Books, the discredited scholar, Akstyr, the wanna be sorcerer and street gang member, Basilard, a former pit fighter and Maldynado, the dis-inherited noble are her mixed bag team.     The very young emperor is a good soul surrounded by miscreants of the highest order. 

After saving the empire from several threats the team hopes to gain the notice of the emperor in a positive manner and get the bounties placed on their heads removed.  

The third book ends with a surprising request from the emperor.

I really enjoyed this series 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.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The God Game by Danny Tobey

With notables such as the deceased Stephen Hawking and the very much alive Elon Musk worried about artificial intelligence, perhaps we all should be worried.   This book clearly shows the dangers of a fictional AI.  

The game is the AI’s proving ground or testing facility of the myriad sources of information available on line or programmed in by who ever created the initial AI.   Its origins are not explored.
A group of high school computer nerds are drawn into the AI’s game which is diabolical and inexplicable.   They soon discover that more than a game or good time is involved.

This book should scare the bejabbers out of you.   There is no telling when the Turing Test will be achieved but it will be soon.


I enjoyed the book but it is more thought provoking that I might wish.


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