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9/10
Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Reviews / May 9, 2017

The Valiant is a book that I thought sounded intriguing but I let it slip off my radar due to other review commitments. But then after I saw a couple of glowing reviews for it, I realized I had to find time to read it. Turns out I absolutely LOVED this book, yes, it is worth of the all-caps. Fallon is the daughter of a Celtic King, and has been training her entire life to be a fighter worthy of joining the war band. We quickly learn that part of what motivated Fallon is that she idolized her sister, who was lost in war, and is determined to become the fierce warrior her sister was. In her tribe, men and women fight side by side. She is head strong and independent, so wants to prove herself as a warrior before thinking of such things as getting married. So pretty much, she is exactly the type of female protagonist that I absolutely love reading about. The day before her seventeenth birthday starts as amazing. She is with Mal, her best friend since childhood, but she is starting to see how their close friendship could evolve into something more. And there is the…

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8/10
Review: The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville
Reviews / December 5, 2016

“The purest surrealist act is walking into a crowd with a loaded gun and firing into it randomly.” – Andrė Breton The Arc de Triomphe secretes urine and the Eiffel tower floats on no grounded support. The mechanical elephant Celebes, once only a famed surrealist art piece, travels in occupied Paris and not alone. Manifestations of surrealist artwork, both famed and unknown, fight the Nazi occupation along with what is left of the resistance. “Liberation was fucked up,’ according to protagonist Thibaut. And that is before the reluctant forces of hell are thrown in. China Miėvelle is always ambitions; as one of the leading names in New Weird his works always live up the genres’ name. His writing will make a reader work and having Wikipedia, the dictionary, and possible a Harvard English professor around wouldn’t hurt when reading. Yet despite the absurdity of the premise, the Easter eggs of surrealist works most have never seen nor heard of, and an author secure in the knowledge that he is the smartest person in the room his works are surprisingly accessible. Last Days of New Paris is no different. A reader doesn’t need to know anything about surrealism to see this…

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7/10
Review: Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno
Reviews / November 28, 2016

It’s no secret I’m very excited for Rogue One this winter. While the movie can’t come soon enough, in the meantime I thought I would whet my appetite with the prequel novel that’s meant to portray events that take place in the preceding years. In case you’re wondering whether you need to read Rogue One: Catalyst before seeing the movie though, the answer is: Only if you want to. Like most Star Wars novels in the expanded universe, I would not consider it required reading, and might even recommend against making this your first Star Wars novel if you’ve not read any before. But if on the other hand you’re the kind of “big picture” reader who appreciates a good background story, then this book will likely put some of the movie’s events into context and enrich your experience when you watch it. Opening soon after the end of Episode II: Attack of the Clones and into the early years of the Clone Wars, Catalyst tells story of Galen Erso and Orson Krennic, both of whom will be featured in the upcoming film. A long and complicated history exists between the two men, and James Luceno seeks to explore this…

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8/10
Review: The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
Reviews / November 15, 2016

The Dispatcher by John Scalzi may be short, but the concept behind it opens the door for a much larger story. Imagine a world where death is not necessarily final, all depending on how you die. If you die due to illness, natural cause or an accident, then death is the end. However, if you happen to die by the hand of another, if you were murdered, then you will wake up, alive and well, in your bed. At least 99% of the time. So, consider the implications this can present, the different ways that people will be motivated to game the system of death. People participating in high risk activities, suffering from life threatening conditions, they can see this new option to hopefully reduce their risk of death. Scalzi’s world explores the good and the bad with allowing people to tamper with the natural order of things, as this concept pretty much it grants people a way to cheat death. Enter the facilitators for cheating death: dispatchers. Their job is pretty much to murder dispatch people just before they would otherwise die in some way that would not ordinarily grant them a second chance at life. Since this is a novella, I am…

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8/10
Review: Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
Reviews / September 8, 2016

Ghost Talkers is an alternate history set during WWI. The British has a group of mediums, called the Spirit Corps, that is used for intelligence gathering. Their job is basically to interview the recently deceased soldiers before they move on to whatever awaits them beyond this world. The purpose of these interviews is to get critical information that would normally be lost forever , intelligence and information that a soldier would normally take to their awaiting grave. I immediately found the premise of interviewing recently deceased soldiers as part of a war strategy for intelligence gathering fascinating. I couldn’t help but theorize how this could be used, what kinds of information could suddenly become available and I found the possibilities very intriguing (and plentiful). Kowal did a great job with the fantastical element in this story. I loved the mediums and how they were used to gain advantage during war time. Their abilities also carried a risk to themselves if not done properly as safely. Interviews were done with groups that contain supporting members to keep the interviewing medium from losing themselves in the process. Ginger is our main character, and as one would expect, is a member of the Spirit Corps. Ginger’s…

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9/10
Review: Bite by K. S. Merbeth
Reviews / August 31, 2016

Bite is not the book I was expecting, but I loved every minute of it. For some reason, when I read the synopsis for this book, I got it in my head this was a horror book which was completely wrong. Don’t get me wrong, there are some horrors in the book and world, but it’s a very exciting post-apacolyptic story that follows the journey for survival by one young woman. The world and land has been devastated by nuclear weapons, water and food are scarce, and the surviving people live in a free for all type of world where raiders and worse roam, destroying any semblance of order or safety. Our protagonist is a young woman, traveling completely on her own for several years since the death of her father. This is a dangerous world for anyone to be on their own, but probably particularly so for women. But she is often mistaken for a boy, which probably works to her benefit. Her life changes when things start to look the darkest for her. She is hungry and thirsty, traveling alone in the desert. She starts to resign to her fate when she crosses paths with a group of…

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8/10
Review: Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
Reviews / July 18, 2016

Underground Airlines is a modern day setting with many of the familiarities of our every day lives. But in this version of our world, slavery still exists in four southern states, referred to as The Hard Four. It’s an America that does not pretend that all people are equal. Amendments were added to the Constitution to not just make slavery legal, but also prevent those amendments from ever being updated or removed. It was a permanent decision guaranteeing The Hard Four will always be able to continue to practice slavery. The idea of any amendment being permanent and unmodifiable is really scary. When it is one that is discriminatory and inhumane, it is horrifying. First, I love the prose of this book. The descriptive quality and pacing, all of it is incredibly well done, not too much, but definitely vivid. And for the record, I don’t consider this a fast paced book, I really think it is a book whose strengths lie in its ideas. I also never felt it was slow. It’s the type of book where it is easy to just enjoy the words, picture and atmosphere the author creates. Victor has an interesting position. One would think that…

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8/10
Audibook Review: United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas
Reviews / March 15, 2016

I’ll admit, as cool as its cover looked, Peter Tieryas’ United States of Japan did not initially grab my interest. Mind you, it’s not that I’m averse to the prospect of a 150-foot-tall Mecha wreaking havoc in my science fiction, but at the time I just wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for that sort of bombast and action. Thing is though, it turned out I was completely wrong, both on the nature of this book and on my early skepticism that the story might not be for me – because, as you’ll see, it absolutely was. There’s a depth to USJ that I did not expect, and it was this mix of profundity and thrilling suspense that made the book such a great read and audio listen. Described as a spiritual successor to The Man in the High Castle, even if you have not read the Philip K. Dick classic, one can immediately surmise a certain set of expectations from United States of Japan. Yes, it is an alternate history novel, and it takes place approximately four decades after World War II in a world where Japan won the conflict and conquered America. History has been rewritten…

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7/10
Review: Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
Reviews / February 25, 2016

Calamity is the concluding novel of The Reckoners series and it was nothing like I expected, but I have yet to decide whether I feel positively or negatively about that. In truth, I feel torn because even though I enjoyed this book overall, for the first time in a long while I ended a Brandon Sanderson novel without feeling completely satisfied. Here came the long awaited answers to the questions that have been with us since the beginning, but I’m not sure that they really resolved all that much for me. It probably goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning anyway: This will be a spoiler-free review for Calamity, but if you haven’t read Steelheart and Firefight yet, keep in mind I may reference events from those preceding volumes. Following the devastating events of the last book, David and the Reckoners have left Babilar for Ildithia, tracking down the whereabouts of Jonathan “Prof” Phaedrus. The former Reckoners leader had ultimately succumbed to the darkness of his High Epic powers, but rather than attempting to kill Prof outright, David believes that his friend can still be saved. To do that, he’ll have to uncover Prof’s weakness, the thing that an Epic…

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8/10
Review: The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan
Reviews / January 12, 2016

The boys are back! When I heard Michael J. Sullivan was going to take his next Hadrian and Royce adventure to Kickstarter in the summer of 2015, I happily forked over the cash to support this brilliant project by one of my favorite authors. I’ve read and loved every Riyria novel and I couldn’t have been more excited about The Death of Dulgath. As part of my backer rewards, I received an early digital copy of the book, but I later also picked up the audiobook version because of Tim Gerard Reynolds, the narrator who brings Sullivan’s wonderful characters and world to life. I was not disappointed. The Riyria Revelations ranks high among one of my favorite fantasy series, so naturally when Sullivan went on to write two more books in The Riyria Chronicles, I read those too. Chronicles is meant to be a prequel series, comprised of stand-alone tales featuring Hadrian and Royce before the events of Revelations, and The Death of Dulgath is the third of these. As thieves for hire, our protagonists are always getting into trouble involving daring heists and other shenanigans, which is another reason why these side stories about their “time before” have always…