Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Rose and the Thorn (Riyria Chronicles #2)

The Rose and the Thorn (The Riyria Chronicles) - Michael J. Sullivan Author: Michael Sullivan

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Hadrian and Royce must work together to save the girls of Medford House without becoming implicated in an attempt on the Royal family.

My Thoughts
With each book that expands the Riyria world, I hesitate before reading, afraid that maybe THIS is the book that Sullivan disappoints me with. For even Sanderson, he who needs no first name, has let me down.

Thankfully, that book wasn't this book.

I was just as impressed with this book as I was the previous Chronicles book. Royce and Hadrian are much more of a functioning team than just 2 individuals working for a common goal.

We get a good bit of the backstory of Melengar and Arista and Family that fleshes out what we know from the Revelations series. Some of the Church's motivations and schemes are revealed and more of the political landscape is in sight.

And finally, we get to see Royce do some slicing and dicing.

Crossposted at

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Murder is Easy

Murder Is Easy - Agatha ChristieAuthor: Agatha Christie

Rating: 2.5 Stars of 5


A little old lady runs across a retired policeman and tells him of her suspicions of mass murder in her little village. After she dies, the policeman visits the village to find out if the "little old lady from Pasadena" was a nutter or onto something truly horrible.

My Thoughts:

I enjoy Christie's standalone novels much more than her series based around a main character. Part of that is because each book is just as shallow and light as the previous and the continuation of a character with no growth irritates me. Whereas standalones aren't expected to be filled with character development and life growth.

This was a typical mystery, but unfortunately, Christie felt the need for the main character to go over every possibility of who and how. I think I skipped almost 10 pages when he started going over that info in his mind.

About 3/4's of the way through I realized who the killer was, because everyone else was too obvious or not obvious enough. So I got to watch the MC flail around.

There's a little bit of romance involved, but it felt formulaic at best.

Overall, not bad, but mediocre at best.

Crossposted at

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jupiter War (Owner #3) (Polity)

Jupiter War (The Owner) - Neal Asher Author: Neal Asher

4 of 5 Stars (1 extra star for ultra-awesome violence)

Saul must turn "his" space station into a spaceship capable of interstellar flight to escape the powers of earth. All the while fending off those same powers who desperately want him back on earth for vengeance and the data and tech he now owns.

My Thoughts
This was really a 3star book. We get Saul transforming the station into the ship, chipped humans on the ship rebelling, Saul debating the true meaning of freewill, responsibility and freedom, Galahad having her delusions of grandeur even while the whole structure on earth is falling to pieces, and finally, we get fighting. And that is why I gave it 4 stars.

Asher knows how to write a gritty, awesome, massively bloody fight, in space and with ground troops. That is the main thing I read his books for, awesome ideas about humanity/tech and violence. He does them both so well.

I didn't like Saul in the first book, and I still don't like him here in the third, as a person. As the Owner, however, he makes a kickbutt demi-god.

While it appears obvious that Asher has more to write in the Owner series, I really hope he returns to the main Polity Universe soon and gives us new stuff there.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Black Arrow

The Black Arrow - Robert Louis Stevenson Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

2.5 of 5 Stars


We follow the adventures of Dick/Richard Shelton during the War of the Roses, the war between the Houses of York and Lancaster in Merry Old England.

My Thoughts
I first saw this children's classic on some list of "Classics to read". My only real connection to Stevenson is Treasure Island, but even that is more of the movies. I mean, who can forget Muppet Treasure Island? I still love that movie. And Treasure Planet was a good Disney movie too.

Sadly, this mess of a book does not do much for Stevenson's reputation with me. Shelton is a stupid young man who does one dumb thing after another and yet everything works out in the end.

You want to know how stupid he is? After being alone with someone all night, he still thinks they are a young boy. Instead of the girl he ends up marrying. He meets "her" as her for all of 5 minutes and suddenly she's the love of his life and sets him off on several escapades to rescue her, most of which end in disaster for those around Dick.

He is a typical upperclass dickhead. People die for him, around him and because of him, and it means nothing to him.

Part of all this is that this is really a children's book. So everything is simplified. But it is simplified to the point of destroying the potential of this story.

I plan on reading Treasure Island next year and I hope it fares better than this!

crossposted at

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Iron Gray Sea (Destroyermen #7)

Iron Gray Sea (Destroyermen Series #7) - Taylor Anderson Author: Taylor Anderson

4 of 5 stars


The new British Empire is dealt a grievous blow, the Alliance is beginning to break into factions due to its size, the Grik are quickly becoming "civilized" while the rogue Japanese are growing in influence, the Dom Empire is barely mentioned and finally, we are introduced to the "new" Empire who appear to want to be part of the Alliance.

My Thoughts:

While I enjoyed this (obviously, as I gave it 4 stars), the growth of the scope of the war and the continued introduction of yet more "empires", with no resolutions to any of the already introduced problems, is beginning to wear on me.

I am still wrapping my head around the New British Empire and the Dom Empire and now I'm supposed to just accept another one? Tech is growing quickly and the Griks are changing so fast that I feel like they are also a completely new enemy.

Speaking of the Grik. They are changing as a species under the secret direction of the Japanese. It doesn't work for me. A whole species, while it can adapt to new circumstances and new equations to their way of life, simply cannot continue as a cohesive whole while changing how Anderson is changing them. It just smacks of Deus Ex Machina for badguyness.

The Alliance. So far everything has worked well because strong, charismatic leaders have put the idea of wiping out the Grik ahead of politics and self interest. Sadly, that is changing.

And that leads me to my final point. This series is starting to scare me. Book 8 is already out and on my TBR and I see absolutely no way that it will be the final book. Shades of Robert Jordan are beginning to rise before me and I am wondering if this Destroyermen series will be the series that never ends.

I've bought the first 2 books but I don't know if I can in good faith buy any more until I know that some resolution is in the works.

Crossposted at

Friday, November 22, 2013

M.Y.T.H. Inc in Action (Myth Adventures #9)

M.Y.T.H. Inc. in Action - Robert Asprin Author: Robert Asprin

3.5 Stars of 5

Guido and Nunzio must somehow stop Possiltum's army from invading everybody. So they join the army to destroy it from within. And hijinks ensue.

My Thoughts

The whole book is written from Guido's point of view, along with his language. So instead of Skeeve blundering through the narration, we get Guido skillfully informing us of the events.

It was a refreshing change at first, but then started getting a little old after nothing was happening. You can only take so much 'mob talk' with loquacious asides for so long.  Thankfully, there was a bar fight between the soldiers, the town police, the bar patrons and the military police. I was crying I was laughing so hard. But ymmv.

Overall, I found this a refreshing change from Skeeve's fake it and make it approach to life, and the bickering between him and Ahzz, I didn't miss that either. A good addition to the Myth books.

crossposted at

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Perilous Shield (Lost Stars #2) (Lost Fleet)

The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield - Jack Campbell Author: Jack Campbell

4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed every page of this book.  The only caveat I have is that you really do need to have read the Lost Fleet series and Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier trilogy and obviously the first Lost Stars book.

You get more of the same. Iceni and Drakon continue their dance of mistrust and romance. More military maneuvers , more backstabbing by some mysterious source. Drakon's subordinate nutcase shows her true colors and you find out why she seduced him.

We also get a bit more of a look at the Syndic and Alliance security officers who fell in love with each other.

Overall, this was different enough from the "Black Jack saves the day" but still similar enough that I liked this [even though it is book 11 in the series] and am looking forward to the next book. And have no fear, there will be a next book. Too many questions are raised with no answers.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Kenobi (Star Wars)

Kenobi: Star Wars - John Jackson Miller Author: John Miller

4 of 5 Stars

Excellent book! Miller does a great job of showing how Obi-wan, the famous general, jedi and do-gooder, starts down the path to being Ben Kenobi, the crazy old wizard in the desert.

Main story is about Kenobi trying to find a niche on Tatooine and his interactions with a local bar/store/whatever family called the Caldwells. In many ways, the Caldwells [or it might be the Callwells, not sure, don't care] are the main characters. There is the widowed Mom, the teen daughter and slightly younger teen son.  Ben's story is told through glimpses as he pops in and out of the Caldwell's story.

Tusken raiders are involved, a greedy/stupid/arrogant landowner, some of Jabba's minions and the general populace of the region.

In the last several years most of the Star Wars books that have come out have left me feeling very meh and wondering if I really wanted to keep reading in this universe. It is books like Kenobi that keep me coming back.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Night of Thunder (Bob Lee Swagger #5)

Night of Thunder (Bob Lee Swagger Series #5) - Stephen Hunter Author: Stephen Hunter

3 of 5 Stars

I guess it was inevitable, but I was hoping that Swagger wouldn't roll around in his hick roots.

A freaking bank truck robbery. With a HUGE gun and helicopters. Give me a break.

And the Pye in this story is just as evil as his relatives from previous stories.

No sniping. Speed drawing/shooting.

I wanted to read about sniping.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Terminator Salvation: Cold War (Terminator)

Terminator Salvation: Cold War - Greg Cox Author: Greg Cox

3 of 5 Stars

A prequel to Terminator Salvation, but not directly related, more tangentially.

Starts off with a Russian submarine taking part in Judgement Day, in 2003. Then the alternate story, about Resistance Fighters in Alaska in 2018, takes place.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Russian 2003 story. They're confused, horribly shaken up and then they find the machines, but they don't believe it themselves and nobody  believes them. This storyline wraps up with them joining Ashdown and the Resistance.

Then we get the Alaskan story. I didn't like it. Bunch of people survive and end up fighting Sky-Net any way they can. This was a story that was supposed to be dramatic and moving, but ended up coming across as petty and amateurish.

The 2 storylines mesh with an attack on a trainline supplying Skynet with uranium. I really wish Cox had focused exclusively on the Russians and their fight. Oh well.

crossposted at

Saturday, November 09, 2013

The Shadow Lamp (Bright Empires #4)

The Shadow Lamp - Stephen R. Lawhead Author: Stephen Lawhead

3 of 5 Stars

Stephen Lawhead has been my hero since I read his Arthur trilogy when I was a young teen.
He did what I thought was impossible: he meshed fantasy with Christian theology, seamlessly and realistically. He didn't create a new world that broke the rules of ours, but meshed a fantasy one to ours that adhered to rules of our world and a supernatural one.

But this book Lawhead makes it quite clear that he is a theistic evolutionist and leaning much more towards the deistic side of things.  In most books, I can, and do, ignore the underlying theology of the author. But for Lawhead I can't do that, for my Hero's have no failings.

And unfortunately, that says as much about me as it does about Mr. Lawhead.

So on to this book. Sadly, it was pretty much on par with the previous 3. It just kind of plodded.  That is really the best I can say for this series. It doesn't disappoint, it just stolidly moves on. Kind of like a big dumb cow.

There is one more book to go, coming out in Fall/Winter '14, but after that, I think I might be done with Lawhead. A Hero fallen is one of the worst things ever. :-(

Monday, November 04, 2013

Kafka On the Shore

Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami Author: Haruki Murakami

3 of 5 Stars

First off, this has some graphic sex scenes that are incestuous in nature. So proceed at your own risk.

An interesting tale of 2 men, one old, one young, who both have to find something for their lives to be truly fulfilled.

After reading 1Q84, I was pretty ready for Murakami's style, so the almost dreamlike pace didn't unsettle me. The writing is fantastic and in many ways I did love the story. The pacing, the back and forth of scenes between the 2 protagonists, the surreal atmosphere, the funny little interjections, the ordinary just slightly turned 20degrees of kilter, it all made for a fantastic read.

But, incest? I felt so dirty after reading the scenes that I wish I could have taken them out of the story.  Other than that, this would have been a 5star. Now I am sad.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Valkyrie Rising (Hayden War Cycle #2)

Valkyrie Rising (Warrior's Wings Book Two) - Evan Currie Author: Evan Currie

3 of 5 Stars

In this story, we get to see Sorila upgraded, and along with some other Special Forces, take on some real alien soldiers, not the security guards of the previous books.

There is also a space battle, but honestly, it doesn't bear mentioning, as it was more of a "it happened" scenario than anything else.

What struck me is how episodic this felt. Sorila is barely included in the story and we get 1 ambush and 1 fight and 1 space fight. I don't know, it just felt very quick and unfulfilling.

Oh, and all the "women are just as good in the military as men" schtick got old. Felt like pandering to me. You want to make your women kickass, then do it. I had no problems with Sorila at all. Or the admiral in charge of Fleet Valkyrie. Until I kept getting hit in the face with how equal everybody was.

Finally, why was so much time wasted on describing Sorila at home? It didn't add anything to the depth of her character, or make you feel more connected to her. I think it, and the upgrade process, should have been cut and at least another action sequence of aliens versus special forces thrown in.

Maybe in the next book? I sure hope so!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Without Remorse

Without Remorse - Tom Clancy Author: Tom Clancy

4 of 5 Stars

I have had some hit and miss type reactions to Clancy's books. I LOVED Patriot Games, but Red Storm Rising didn't do much for me at all. I liked the movie Hunt for Red October, but found the book too technical and engineer'y.

So I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I started reading Without Remorse.  I am happy to report that I ended up really enjoying this.

The premise is right up my alley. SEAL commando, who is despondent over losing his wife, meets cute girl. Things end up badly and SEAL goes after those responsible because the Law can't.

Give me a highly trained vigilante with Justice on his side anytime.

The only downside was that this took place in the Vietnam era and I'd really like to read something a bit more modern, kind of like how Shooter [the movie] was updated to Afghanistan from Point of Impact in Vietnam.

So if any of you know of a good modern military thriller, feel free to leave a comment about it.