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Preview: Speculative Book Review

Speculative Book Review

Updated: 2018-04-10T04:57:46.344-07:00


I Bid You All Adieu


After a long contemplation over my family's vacation overseas, I thought long and hard about whether I had the strength and energy to continue reviewing books weekly. When I started reviewing books on my own blog, State of Review, I did it as a way to keep track of what I was reading and my initial thoughts on the books. Over time the audience grew. It was never my intention but it did allow me to meet and become friends with fellow book lovers and reviewers, which I am proud to say are a great bunch of guys and gals.

I continued my passion and reached out to some like-minded individuals and started this blog, Speculative Book Review, over the years people came and went as life got in the way, as it often tends to do. While Yagiz and I have done our best to bring fresh, new content each and every week, it is now my turn to bow out and say my goodbye.

I have had the pleasure of meeting some of my favorite authors and they in turn have introduced me to their favorite authors and friends. I have been given opportunities I never thought I would have in a million years. I have edited books, done interviews, and helped up and coming authors with their manuscripts. Each opportunity I never took lightly and cherished every opportunity. But with my work becoming more involved, my son finally starting to walk, talk and want more of my free time (which I gladly give),  and my wife and I working on a second child; I just don't have the time to read the novels and then hop on the computer and hash out my thoughts and opinions about the book I just read.

While I never considered myself a family man until I had my own family, I have found that they are all that matters and I want to spend as much time with them and watch my child (and hopefully children) grow up and give them experiences I never had.

I am sure I will return to reviewing books at some point in my future, for now I plan on reading when I can and being the best husband and father I can. I hope that our readers understand and I hope you are patient with Yagiz as he continues to post reviews sporadically, although I have a feeling he will retreat to his personal blog to pick up where he left off. I created SBR on my account and plan to leave it open until blogger decides to deletes it.

In the words of my favorite author, Ernest Hemingway, "Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another." And it is this reason that I choose to move on from book reviewing (for the time being)

I want to personally thank each and everyone who stopped by and read one of our reviews or commented. Keep on reading friends.

-Tyson M
January 2018
Seattle WA

REVIEW: The Green Angel Tower by Tad Williams


The Green Angel Tower by Tad WilliamsPublishing information: Paperback; 1104pgsPublisher: Daw; 3 May 2005ISBN: 978-0756402983Series: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn 3Copy: From PublisherReviewer: TysonAmazonSynopsis: "The evil minions of the undead Sithi Storm King are beginning their final preparations for the kingdom-shattering culmination of their dark sorceries, drawing King Elias ever deeper into their nightmarish, spell-spun world.As the Storm King’s power grows and the boundaries of time begin to blur, the loyal allies of Prince Josua struggle to rally their forces at the Stone of Farewell. There, too, Simon and the surviving members of the League of the Scroll have gathered for a desperate attempt to unravel mysteries from the forgotten past. For if the League can reclaim these age-old secrets of magic long-buried beneath the dusts of time, they may be able to reveal to Josua and his army the only means of striking down the unslayable foe...."The Green Angel Tower is quite the doorstopper and there were times when I wondered if I had made the right decision to read this series but I have wanted to get a taste of Williams' writing for quite a while and so I made it a goal to read the first Osten Ard series by the end of the year, and I am proud to say that I completed it just a few weeks before the deadline.The Green Angel Tower is the finale to the original series (a new trilogy has been released this year) and while the book and series definite takes a page out of Tolkien, with the slow burn that leads up to the final confrontation. I found myself enjoying the book. The Green Angel Tower, like the books that precede it, take a slow, meandering approach to get where all the characters need to be before we finally have the confrontation between good and evil. Simon has grown up, seen combat, and finally learns of his heritage. While it had been foreshadowed in previous books, his background wrapped up things quite nicely and allowed him to get the girl. While I have no problem with happy endings in books it was a little too perfect. While the new series will reveal how well he rules his kingdom, I would have liked to have seen things not tied up in a bow the way Williams chose to go.Williams does do a good job of writing strong female characters as many of them played key roles in the various confrontations and decisions that affected our heroes. Miriamele has a major role to play and takes a major role in confronting her father.While I did enjoy the book, there were a few issues I had with how everything came together. The Sithi joining the conflict was a major turning point in the battle and yet they came late, had a few skirmishes and then at the final battle engaged the enemy but in the end they had very little input in bringing about an end to the conflict. In fact, just about all of the confrontations meant very little in the grand scheme of things. While they did alleviate a few camps from death at the hands of the enemy, they didn't actually do anything that truly changed the course of the conflict.While this is a minor concern, it was in the back of my mind as the book and series came to a close. I am glad that I finally sat down and read this series as I see it every time I head to the bookstore and dares me to give it a go. When the publisher reissued the first book, I knew it was time to give in and read it.I now have the first two books (well, one novella and the first book in the new trilogy) and plan on giving it a shot some time down the road after I have had a chance to put a few more books that have been on my Mt. TBR for a while. The series is worth the slow pace as it has that 80's fantasy feel to it but is easy enough to get into if this one was left out of your fantasy reads and want to see what it is all about.Overall 8/10[...]

REVIEW: Shadow and Claw by Gene Wolfe


Shadow and Claw by Gene Wolfe
Publishing information: Paperback; 419pgs
Publisher: Orb Books; 15 Oct 1994
ISBN: 9780312890179
Series: The Book of the New Sun 1 & 2
Copy: Out of Pocket
Reviewer: Tyson


Synopsis: "The Book of the New Sun is unanimously acclaimed as Gene Wolfe's most remarkable work, hailed as "a masterpiece of science fantasy comparable in importance to the major works of Tolkien and Lewis" by Publishers Weekly, and "one of the most ambitious works of speculative fiction in the twentieth century" by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Shadow & Claw brings together the first two books of the tetralogy in one volume:

The Shadow of the Torturer is the tale of young Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession -- showing mercy toward his victim.

The Claw of the Conciliator continues the saga of Severian, banished from his home, as he undertakes a mythic quest to discover the awesome power of an ancient relic, and learn the truth about his hidden destiny."

The Book of the New Sun is a series that has been on my bucket list for quite some time and when I received some gift cards I decided to pick them up and see if they would live up to the hype. Unfortunately, the story that unfolded just never grabbed my attention.

The first two books are found in the first installment of the series and they tell of a young apprentice learning from the Executioners Guild when he is exiled and must find his way and himself. For me the book took a really long time to get anywhere and by the time it did, I was already uninterested and leering at my bookcase for my next read. Try as I might, I just couldn't find the books flow and Severian never really caught on.

The world building was interesting but it too just seem to have something missing that would allow me to enjoy my experience. Perhaps it was my mood, as I was busy doing my job and two others, or the fact that I was attempting to read this in summer when I would rather be out enjoying the sun, but I couldn't find any interest in the book and I just wanted out.

I have the second installment of the series sitting on a shelf but I have to be honest with myself, there is a very strong chance it will never see the light of day as the first book just didn't do anything for me. I keep thinking that I will give this series another shot when life isn't so busy but with as many books vying for my attention it may never come to pass.

Overall: 6/10

REVIEW: A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden


A Gathering of Ravens by Scott OdenPublishing information: Hardback; 320pgsPublisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 20 June 2017ISBN: 9780312372941Possible seriesCopy: Provided by publisherReviewer: TysonAmazonSynopsis: "To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind--the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that's changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir's vengeance cannot be denied.Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning--the Old Ways versus the New--and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?Scott Oden's A Gathering of Ravens is an epic novel of vengeance, faith, and the power of myth."Scott Oden's A Gathering of Ravens is gathering a lot of steam in the grimdark reading community and with good reason as he tells a really dark and bleak story with a unique character, an orc. He is Grimnir, the last of his kind and he is out for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother.Grimnir is a compelling character, not just because he is an orc, although that helps, but because of the world Oden has created where the Norse Gods are slowly retreating into obscurity and the Christian god is gaining ground in Northern Europe and with the religion's rise, magic and the fae are in retreat as their power is dwindling from the world. Because the magic is waning in the world it is reflected in Grimnir's world view and places him in the center of the conflict as even the evocation of the word "Christ" can lessen affect of magic and the old ways. This makes Grimnir especially gruff when his companion, a young woman preparing to take the vow to become a nun, is always calling forth her "Nailed God" whenever she sees magic or proof of the old ways.While the characters and magic system are especially good, Oden surpasses many other authors in his ability to create atmosphere. For that reason alone the book is worth reading. Drawing upon historical events and locations Oden is able to weave a tale that is easy to be conjured in the mind's eye and it easily became one of my favorite books of the year. If you like historical fiction, grimdark, and a good tale of revenge then look no further. A Gathering of Ravens deserves all the praise it is receiving and should be on more best of lists this year. Highly recommended.Overall 8.5/10[...]

Cover Reveal of Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames


The stellar debut of Nicholas Eames, Kings of the Wyld, has been very popular since its publication earlier this year. Tyson and I loved it (here's Tyson's review, and here's mine).

Orbit recently revealed the cover of the much anticipated follow up, Bloody Rose. It is another great cover by the amazing Richard Anderson

Live fast, die young. 
Tam Hashford has always dreamed of living through glory days of her own. With a renowned mercenary for a mother and an illustrious bard for a father, battles and adventure seem the only way to really live. 
So when she learns that the most revered mercenary crew in Grandual is in need of a bard, she grabs her lute and goes on tour. Led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam and her new band embark on a mission that will earn them everlasting fame — or certain death. 
It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side. 
Bloody Rose will be released on July 10, 2018

REVIEW: Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald


Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
Publishing information: Paperback; 398pgs
Publisher: Tor Books; 22 Sept 2015
ISBN: 9780765375513
Series: Luna #1
Copy: Out of Pocket
Reviewer: Tyson

Synopsis: "The Moon wants to kill you.

Maybe it will kill you when the per diem for your allotted food, water, and air runs out, just before you hit paydirt. Maybe it will kill you when you are trapped between the reigning corporations-the Five Dragons-in a foolish gamble against a futuristic feudal society. On the Moon, you must fight for every inch you want to gain. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.

As the leader of the Moon's newest "dragon," Adriana has wrested control of the Moon's Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family's new status. Now, in the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation-Corta Helio-confronted by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana's five children must defend their mother's empire from her many enemies... and each other."

The moon wants to kill you. A phrase you will hear many times as you read this first book in the Luna series. I became interested in the book when I heard it was similar to George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series only on the moon. While there are similarities with the various houses vying for control of the moon and its citizens, it is an original story with its unique characters and motivations.

One of the things I truly enjoyed with the series is that the main characters are originally from Brasil before making a name for themselves on the moon. We get a lot of vocabulary that is unique and fresh. The nice thing is that it many of the terminology used is close to English so it quickly becomes familiar and not a novelty or distraction.

The story follows a few individuals but mainly the Corta family as they wrestle control of the Helium-3 production on the moon, which has made them enemies as they rise to the top. We quickly learn that the matriarch of the family is dying and doing her best to set up her family to continue their dominance on the moon. Her sons and daughters all have their own agendas, some which coincide with her own and others that clash. All of this is happening while they do battle behind the scenes with the various families, or dragons, who control the moon and its inhabitants.

While I enjoyed the premise of the book, I didn't like it. It took a very long time, roughly 1/3 of the book, before we actually get to the overall plot and by that time I had lost my interest in the story and the people involved. I know a lot of other reviewers have enjoyed the book and the series but by the time I reached the actual story, I didn't care anymore. The concepts and world building were outstanding but because of how McDonald started the book and then dragged it out before revealing the motivations and plot of the story my excitement waned.

Other readers may enjoy the book if they hang in there until things start to cook but I was already looking for my next read and looking forward to finishing this book up and moving on.

Overall 4/10

REVIEW: The Death of Dulgath by Michael J Sullivan


The Death of Dulgath by Michael J Sullivan
Publishing Information: Paperback; 448 pgs
Publisher: Riyria Enterprises; 1 Dec 2015
ISBN: 9781943363001
Series: Riyria Chronicles #3
Copy: Kickstarter out of pocket
Reviewer: Tyson

Synopsis: "Three times they tried to kill her. Then a professional was hired. So was Riyria.

When the last member of the oldest noble family in Avryn is targeted for assassination, Riyria is hired to foil the plot. Three years have passed since the war-weary mercenary Hadrian and the cynical ex-assassin Royce joined forces to start life as rogues-for-hire. Things have gone well enough until they're asked to help prevent a murder. Now they must venture into an ancient corner of the world to save a mysterious woman who knows more about Royce than is safe and cares less about herself than is sane.

From the best-selling author of The Riyria Revelations comes the third installment of The Riyria Chronicles. Although part of a series, it's designed to thrill both new readers looking for fun, fast-paced fantasy and Riyria veterans wishing to reunite with old friends."

I have been a fan of Michael J Sullivan from the beginning and whenever I read a book based in the world of Riyria it is like coming home to old friends so it was a real treat to jump back into the Riyria Chronicles and complete the last book in the saga. It was also a little bittersweet as it is the last book feature the duo of Royce and Hadrian. Although I have a feeling Michael isn't done with them.

In The Death of Dulgath the newly forged mercenary duo take a trip down south to provide a service on determining how an assassin could kill the noble daughter in charge of a small kingdom. Along the way Royce already feels that something isn't right while Hadrian is enjoying himself and their journey. Sullivan does a great job of making the dialogue humorous as the pair are still learning to work together and iron out the kinks. While their personalities are polar opposites, you can see they care for each other and want their partnership to work out.

Our professionals are put on a job and things seem to be going well and in their favor when things begin to unravel and they learn that things aren't quite what they seem. Hadrian still looks for the best in people where Royce barely restrains his instinct to stab first and walk away without bothering to ask any questions. It is Royce's ability to distrust everyone that keeps them a half-step ahead of the plot against them.

The story is tight, the action and intrigue build until the final pages. There are a few revealed insights that I wouldn't want spoiled for readers new to the series, I would recommend reading this series AFTER you have read the original trilogy as it will lessen the big reveal in the series and could ruin the story. However, that said The Death of Dulgath delivers on everything I was hoping for in this installment of the series. If you haven't set your sights on Michael J Sullivan's work, you need to go out and find them now as he continues to produce high quality stories that leave you wanting more. Highly recommended.

Overall 8.5/10

REVIEW: Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb


Assassin's Apprentice by Robin HobbPublishing Information: Kindle; 464 pgsPublisher: Spectra; 5 Nov 2002ASIN: B000FBFMG6Series: The Farseer Trilogy #1Copy: Out of PocketReviewer: TysonSynopsis: "Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father's gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him sectetly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz's blood runs the magic Skill--and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom."According to Amazon I purchased this book way back in April of 2009 and I am just finally getting around to reading it. There is a lot of hype surrounding this book and the series as well as the additional trilogies featuring FitzChivalry so I am not sure why it took me so long to finally read the opening book to Robin Hobb's world. The novel opens with FitzChivalry, or Fitz, being left on the doorstep of his father's keep and placed into the care of Burrich, the Prince's man in charge of his animals. No one really knows what do do with the young boy as his father isn't there and while his appearance confirms he is the son of Chivalry and must be treated well since royal blood runs in his veins, his position as a bastard makes his future murky. As he travels to meet the king, he learns he is to train as an assassin to further the goals of the king and the kingdom.Fitz is a little slow on the uptake as he is never quite told what his final goal is as he goes from tutor to tutor learning how to care for animals, engage in combat, the art of assassination, and eventually how to use "The Wit" or magic. Fitz demonstrated early the ability to telepathically enter the minds of animals and through those bonds control the animal and draw strength from them. While Fitz does seem a little behind the curve in the beginning, he does show an aptitude for the art of assassination and also a mind for tactics both in combat and politics. A gift that will help him along the way. Fitz's status as a bastard also causes friction with his family as they see him as possible upsurper to the throne and the status quo. One uncle despises him and the other is enduring to him.The world that Hobb has created is interesting, we know there are other factions besides his kingdom but overall the world is at peace, except for a viking like clan that seems to not just terrorize the villages of Fitz's kingdom but transform them into a single-minded creature that looks out for themselves and does their best to take what their heart desires at that moment. Not quite a zombie as they can think but along those lines.While magic does play a major role in the story, it isn't the end all be all. The Wit takes many shapes but what makes it truly useful is the ability to mobilize armies with a though making it a very powerful tool on the battlefield. Hobb also gives us very brief glimpses of magic's potential but never really lets us see what it is truly capable of.I really enjoyed the first book in the series and will definitely return. If you haven't picked up Assassin's Apprentice I highly recommend you do. It is well-written with some truly unforgettable characters.Overall 8/10[...]

REVIEW: Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry


Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry
Publishing Information: Paperback; 292 pgs
Publisher: Berkley Books; 4 July 2017
ISBN: 9780399584022
Copy: Out of Pocket
Reviewer: Tyson

Synopsis: "From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a familiar story with a dark hook—a tale about Peter Pan and the friend who became his nemesis, a nemesis who may not be the blackhearted villain Peter says he is…

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.

Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter's idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.

Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever."

Every once in a while there is a novel that takes a well-known character or story and flips it on its head, Lost Boy is one of those books. In this novel we learn that Captain Hook was once apart of Peter Pan's group of Lost Boy and eventually outgrew his forever young friend.

Henry does an impressive job of really capturing the world of Peter Pan and then takes it another step forward by subtly providing clues as to Peter's dark mindset. As the novel opens Peter and the Lost Boys are up to their classic hijinx harassing pirates and swimming when Peter decides to bring a much younger boy for the gang, this action upsets his oldest and best friend who would eventually grow up to be his mortal enemy, Captain Hook.

While the story isn't new, the viewpoint that the novel takes is. The way in which the author blends the well-known and then twists it into a much darker and grittier storyline is well done. While I had a fairly good idea of where we would end up the journey was so well done it was a book that was hard to put down and I am not even a fan of the Peter Pan mythos.

Lost Boy is a gritty take on the Peter Pan story that paints Captain Hook as the best friend of Peter until he started growing into a man and how horrible of a person Peter Pan truly is as he only cares for his Lost Boys as long as he is having fun, if the fun stops then he will find a way to feed you to the Many-Eyed Monsters that roam the valleys or the Crocodiles that hunt the beaches to make room for new playmates that will offer him entertainment for a brief period of time.

Lost Boy was an unexpected treat. The premise sounded entertaining and it didn't disappoint. Even if you don't care for Peter Pan this is a book worth picking up as Henry does an exceptional job of telling a well-known tale with a dark twist. Recommended.

Overall 8/10

Review: Star Wars: Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden


Star Wars: Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie GoldenPublishing Information: Hardback; 307 pgsPublisher: Del Ray; 25 July 2017ISBN: 9781524796808SeriesCopy: Out of PocketReviewer: TysonSynopsis: "The Rebellion may have heroes like Jyn Erso and Luke Skywalker. But the Empire has Inferno Squad. After the humiliating theft of the Death Star plans and the resulting destruction of the battle station, the Empire is on the defensive. In response to this stunning defeat, the Imperial Navy has authorized the formation of an elite team of soldiers, known as Inferno Squad. Their mission: infiltrate and eliminate the remnants of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans. Following the death of their leader, the Partisans have carried on his extremist legacy, determined to thwart the Empire—no matter what the cost. Now, Inferno Squad must prove their status as the best of the best and take down the Partisans from within. But as the danger intensifies and the threat of discovery grows, how far will Inferno Squad go to ensure the safety of the Empire?"With EA Games upcoming release of the Star Wars Battlefront II video game, the tie-in novel was bound to happen. This novel takes the prospective of the Empire where the last novel, Star Wars: Battlefront: Twilight Company (review here) took the prospective of the Rebel Alliance. In Inferno Squad we have a small specialized unit that is tasked with infiltrating the remains of Saw Gerrera's (from the movie Star Wars Rogue One) resistance group "The Dreamers" and eliminating them from the inside. While the novel is well written and takes place inside the Star Wars Universe, it doesn't have much heart. The characters in the novel are all new, although a few minor characters that we have met before do make an appearance, which makes it especially hard to care for them. Our main protagonist, Iden Versio, is a Tie Fighter pilot and daughter to Garrick Versio, the admiral of Imperial Intelligence. She is gifted when it comes to tactical analysis and has been breed fro the military. For all her gifts as a capable military officer, she lacks any personality and I found it virtually impossible to care for her and her unit as they undertake their assignments. Inferno Squad has a few more individuals that are also very two dimensional. We have Seyn Marana who was originally a elint officer, or electronics intelligence officer, She is a prodigy when it comes to anything computers. The second member of the squad is Del Meeko and his ever evolving droid, he was originally a soldier turned engineer and is able to manufacture nearly anything they need while on mission. Finally, there is Gideon Hask, a family friend of Iden and a fellow Tie Fighter pilot. He is very capable and nearly as intelligent as Iden. Together they make up inferno Squad, a unit created to hunt down the enemies of the Empire after the destruction of the Death Star and the defeat at the Battle of Scariff.Inferno Squad just didn't have the feel of a Star Wars novel, it may take place within the Universe but it failed to launch for me. Perhaps it suffered from taking the side of the Empire or maybe it is because there was little to no growth with the characters as they undertook their mission. Regardless, the book didn't do much for me. I find myself in the same quandary regarding the purchase of the video game as well. Overall 6/10[...]

Anomaly - Graphic Novel


Unfortunately I don't read as many comic books as I used to. So it's not surprising that I miss some great ones.Recently I came across Anomaly, which is a very interesting production, to say the least. It is the longest original full-color graphic novel ever published, and it is enhanced by an augmented reality mobile application. Here's how its official site describes Anomaly:"Anomaly is an epic tale of deception, redemption, and unity set on a strange alien world and the longest original full-color graphic novel ever published. With lush illustrations, action-packed storytelling, and awe-inspiring interactive features, Anomaly is a must-have multimedia experience for science-fiction, fantasy, and comic book fans alike. Immerse yourself in this groundbreaking space opera via a 370-page hardcover book and companion augmented reality app or through a standalone tablet app complete with cinematic voice acting and sound."Folks! Here, we're talking about a big book... A very big book. It is at a wide-screen scale. You're not going to take it with you to the beach. It's going to want you to have some dedicated reading time when you're comfortably installed at a table or curled up in a sofa. It is definitely an impressive book.Anomaly was published in 2012. And now Anomaly Publishing is getting ready to delight the fans with a sequel. Anomaly: The Rubicon is going to be published on Nov 15, 2017. It has the same dimensions as the first installment, and it promises a better multimedia experience with a new mobile app:I'm hoping to review both Anomaly and Anomaly: The Rubicon very soon. Stay tuned![...]

REVIEW: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames


Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
Publishing Information: Kindle
Publisher: Orbit; 21 Feb 2017
Copy: Provided by publisher
Reviewer: Tyson


Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best -- the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk - or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay's door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It's time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld."

Kings of the Wyld is getting a lot of word of mouth and all of it is positive for very good reason. The story is solid with some of the best dialogue I have read in a long time. Eames does a really impressive job of writing conversations between comrades and old friends, readers are let in on inside jokes and easily feel right at home with the individuals talking. It was a rare treat from a debut author.

Kings of the Wyld is a story about a rescue and the situations the group gets into along the way. Some of them are quite funny where others are quite dark but it all leads up to one amazing romp with some truly unforgettable characters.

Speaking of characters, each member of the band has a very distinct personality and it leads to some interesting situations as we meet them and learn what they have been doing since the band of mercenaries retired. No matter who you find as your favorite you will still end up enjoying the entire group.

The world building is perhaps the only low point of the book but it is only a minor complaint as Eames does fill readers in on the world but only so far as how it relates to the story. I would to learn more about the world and perhaps we will when the next book comes out.

Kings of the Wyld is one of my top books of the year and I am a little disappointed that I didn't get to read it sooner. If you are on the fence and considering purchasing it, I say pull the trigger and you won't be disappointed.

Overall 9.5/10

REVIEW: Spider-man: The Cosmic Adventures by Gerry Conway


Spider-man: The Cosmic Adventures by Gerry Conway
Publishing Information: Paperback; 192 Pages
Publisher: Marvel Comics; 1993
ISBN: 9780871359636
Graphic Novel
Copy: Out of pocket
Reviewer: Tyson

Synopsis: "Spider-Man's Gone Cosmic!

If wit great power must come great responsibility - what in the world must come with power beyond imagination?! Enemies galore - that's what!

When Magneto, Dr. Doom, the Kingpin and the Wizard mastermind a plan to defeat their enemies, Spider-Man's at the top of their hit list. As Earth's greatest villains set their acts of vengeance into motion, Spider-Man finds himself possessing powers of a truly cosmic nature.

Now it's a fight against time as Spider-Man is attached by wave after wave of super-villains.

Will he master his newfound powers in time to defend himself against the final onslaught?!

Written by Spider-Man veterans Gerry Conway David Michelinie and illustrated by the top talents in the business: Sal Buscema, Alex Saviuk, Erik Larsen and Todd McFarlane, these "cosmic adventures" an instant classics!"

I am a huge Spider-man fan and I read this comic many moons ago and recently found it in an pile of old comics and random novels and decided to give it another read. In this collection of comics Ole Webhead has been zapped with electricity he begins to exhibit strange new abilities. Abilities that couldn't come at a better time as a legion of villains have come up with a plan to eliminate their mortal enemies by switching things up in the hopes that the superheroes will not be able to handle new adversaries and their powers.

While it is fun to see Spider-man fly and shoot lasers from his fingertips, the problem is that as you read the graphic novel the writers do a lot of narration and tell you rather than show you Spider-man's new abilities and personal difficulties. Comics are a visual medium and it failed in this regard.

When I read this comic originally I really liked the idea and concept, reading it now I am a little disappointed. Especially considering the talented individuals working on the story line. I don't need anyone telling me what Spidey is doing or thinking, show me through the visuals.

Overall 6.5/10

REVIEW: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames


Title: Kings of the WyldAuthor: Nicholas EamesPublishing Information: Paperback, 544 pagesPublisher: Orbit (Feb 21, 2017)ISBN-10: 0316362476ISBN-13: 978-0316362474Copy: Out of PocketReviewer: Yagiz"GLORY NEVER GETS OLD.Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best, the most feared and renowned crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld. Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk, or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay's door with a plea for help--the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for. It's time to get the band back together."I regularly give out about hype. Being bombarded by too much information wreaks havoc with our expectations, and this, at least for me, ends up with a certain number of disappointments every year.Earlier this year, I kept hearing about Kings of the Wyld from fellow bloggers. Naturally, I was curious. One night right after it was published, I went online to have a look at its sample chapters. I read the first four, and that was it! I immediately ordered a copy."I myself was directly inspired by both Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch when it came to writing something with elements of humour, though their books are decidedly more serious than mine." - Nicholas Eamesp, li { white-space: pre-wrap; } One of the great things about Kings of the Wyld is its humor. It's not silly, mind you. As the author admits himself, his humor is reminiscent of Abercrombie's and Lynch's. It is a delightful and very entertaining read. And it's easy to understand why when you hear the premise of the book: what if mercenary bands were treated like rockstars? What if they were called "Bands"? What if they had "bookers", they had "gigs" and they "toured"?Our main protagonist is Clay Cooper, one of the retired members of the greatest band there ever was. When his old friend needs his help, he is unable to say no and Clay leaves with him to try to "get the band back together".All of the band members has different personalities with their flaws and abilities. I'm pretty sure you'll end up liking one of them more than the others. I had my favorite one. But this diversity creates memorable characters in an interesting story filled with sword, sorcery and monsters.Eames is a skillful storyteller. Kings of the Wyld contains numerous ups and downs, quickly becoming a page turner. What it lacks in court intrigue it makes up in sheer adventure.The setting is a land with many kingdoms, where magic and monsters are aplenty. The author doesn't develop all parts of this world as much as The Wyld, the monster-ridden forest that is the source of an incurable disease. I'm hoping that the author is going to develop other parts of his setting in future installments. Last but not least, the book has also a great map (I love good maps).Kings of the Wyld is one of the most entertaining page-turners that I've read in recent years. If Eames can deliver a second book with the same quality, he would take important steps towards becoming a big name in fantasy. [...]

Do Yourselves a Favor and Read Some of Paul Kearney's Works


Over the weekend, a friend of mine and I started to talk about the books we were reading. When I said I was reading Paul Kearney's The Wolf In The Attic, unfortunately I wasn't too surprised to hear that he didn't know one of my favorite authors.Knowing that my friend likes epic fantasy, I recommended him some of Paul Kearney's books. Then I realized I haven't blogged about Kearney's work for a while. Here I am doing this.I'm currently a quarter through The Wolf In The Attic. It is the story of a young refugee girl in Oxford in the 1920s. So far I really like the book.But if you're into epic fantasy I would highly recommend the following books:Hawkwood and the Kingsby Paul Kearney(The Monarchies of God, Vol 1)The world is in turmoil. In the east the savage Mer­duks, followers of the Prophet Ahrimuz, have cap­tured the holy city of Aekir. The western kingdoms are too distracted by internecine bickering to intervene and the Chruch seems more obsessed with rooting out heresy. It is an age where men go to the stake for the taint of magic in their blood, where gunpowder and cannon co-exit with werewolves and sorcerers. It is the turning point when two get reilgions will fight to the death and the common folk will struggle to merely survive.Century of the Soldierby Paul Kearney(The Monarchies of God, Vol 2)By the mid sixth century of Ramusian reckoning the great struggle is approaching its climax. For the victor there will be supremacy; for the vanquished, cultural annihilation. Fighting that war, Corfe of Torunna will find that court intrigue can be as murderous as any martial foe. The monks Albrec and Avila will explode a bombshell of secret knowledge which will change the continent irrevocably. And Richard Hawkwood will return with the discovery of a New World. The sixth century is the crucible of history. The century of the soldier.The Ten Thousandby Paul Kearney(Macht Trilogy, Book 1)On the world of Kuf, the Macht are a mystery, a seldom-seen people of extraordinary ferocity and discipline whose prowess on the battlefield is the stuff of legend. For centuries they have remained within the remote fastnesses of the Harukush Mountains. In the world beyond, the teeming races and peoples of Kuf have been united within the bounds of the Asurian Empire, which rules the known world, and is invincible. The Great King of Asuria can call up whole nations to the battlefield.His word is law.But now the Great King¹s brother means to take the throne by force, and in order to do so he has sought out the legend. He hires ten thousand mercenary warriors of theMacht, and leads them into the heart of the Empire.Corvusby Paul Kearney(Macht Trilogy, Book 2)It is twenty-three years since a Macht army fought its way home from the heart of the Asurian Empire. The man who came to lead that army, Rictus, is now a hard-bitten mercenary captain, middle-aged and tired. He wants nothing more than to lay down his spear and become the farmer that his father was. But fate has different ideas. A young warleader has risen to challenge the order of things in the very heartlands of the Macht. A soldier of genius, he takes city after city, and reigns over them as king. What is more, he had heard of the legendary leader of the Ten Thousand. His name is Corvus, and the rumours say that he is not even fully human. He means to make himself absolute ruler of all the Macht. And he wants Rictus to help him.Kings of Morningby Paul Kearney(Macht Trilogy, Book 3)For the first time in recorded history, the ferocious city-states of the Macht now acknowledge a single man as their overlord. Corvus, the strange and brilliant boy-general, is now High King, having united his peo[...]



Just a quick announcement. I am currently working three jobs, my own and two others since people have left my department so reviews are temporarily on hold until someone gets hired. I have a few books read but just not enough time to write the reviews. I am hoping to get a few reviews up before September comes around. Please bear with me. Thank you.


REVIEW: The Necronomicon by H.P. Lovecraft


The Necronomicon by H.P. Lovecraft
Publishing information: Audible
Publisher: Blackstone Audio; 2014


Synopsis: "The only audio edition of Necronomicon authorized by the H. P. Lovecraft Estate!

Originally written for the pulp magazines of the 1920s and '30s, H. P. Lovecraft's astonishing tales blend elements of horror, science fiction, and cosmic terror that are as powerful today as they were when first published. This tome brings together all of Lovecraft's harrowing stories, including the complete Cthulhu Mythos cycle, just the way they were when first released. It will introduce a whole new generation of readers to Lovecraft's fiction, as well as attract those fans who want all his work in a single, definitive volume."

I have always loved the rich, dark world that Lovecraft created and have read several short stories by him over the years but with spring and summer upon us, figured a great way to re-read some of his famous tales and catch a few I have never read than through an audiobook that I could listen to while doing yard work around the house.

This particular volume of short stories isn't Lovecraft's complete collection but rather a sampling of some of his more famous stories as well as a few lesser known short stories. Each story is told by a different author and many of them do a wonderful job of setting the tone of the story just by their voice alone. Tom Weinier and Keith Szarabajka are standouts.

While not all of the stories in this collection are instant classics, there are a few that standout from the rest. It is a must have for Lovecraft fans. Below is a list of the tracks as they are not labelled well and that is one major disappointment with this collection.

00:00:17 Dagon
00:16:55 Herbert West, Reanimator
01:33:13 The Lurking Fear
02:25:06 The Rats in the Walls
03:16:06 The Whisperer in the Darkness
06:18:21 Cool Air
06:43:23 In the Vault
07:06:48 The Call of Cthulhu
08:33:03 The Color Out of Space
09:48:10 The Horror at Red Hook
10:44:15 The Music of Eric Zahn
11:06:38 The Shadow Out of Time
13:44:15 The Dunwich Horror
15:47:02 The Haunter of the Dark
16:46:49 The Outsider
17:05:02 The Shunned House
18:16:39 The Unnameable
18:38:16 The Thing on the Doorstep
19:52:54 Under the Pyramids

Overall, this collection is worth checking out.


REVIEW: The Hike by Drew Magary


The Hike by Drew MagaryPublishing information: KindlePublisher: Viking; 2 August 2016ASIN: B01839Q436StandaloneCopy: Out of pocketReviewer: TysonAmazonSynopsis: "From the author of The Postmortal, a fantasy saga unlike any you’ve read before, weaving elements of folk tales and video games into a riveting, unforgettable adventure of what a man will endure to return to his familyWhen Ben, a suburban family man, takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania, he decides to spend the afternoon before his dinner meeting on a short hike. Once he sets out into the woods behind his hotel, he quickly comes to realize that the path he has chosen cannot be given up easily. With no choice but to move forward, Ben finds himself falling deeper and deeper into a world of man-eating giants, bizarre demons, and colossal insects.On a quest of epic, life-or-death proportions, Ben finds help comes in some of the most unexpected forms, including a profane crustacean and a variety of magical objects, tools, and potions. Desperate to return to his family, Ben is determined to track down the “Producer,” the creator of the world in which he is being held hostage and the only one who can free him from the path.At once bitingly funny and emotionally absorbing, Magary’s novel is a remarkably unique addition to the contemporary fantasy genre, one that draws as easily from the world of classic folk tales as it does from video games. In The Hike, Magary takes readers on a daring odyssey away from our day-to-day grind and transports them into an enthralling world propelled by heart, imagination, and survival."I don't recall how The Hike made itself known to me. It may have been something I read from Jeff Vandermeer, or it could be from a list of books that I should be reading. Either way, I ended up purchasing this one and only knew what I read from the blurb on the Amazon page.When I was a few chapters into the book I had debated about calling it quits as it is one of those tongue-in-cheek, smarter than you type books, or at least that is how it felt in the beginning. But knowing it was a short book, coming in at less than 300 pages, I knew it would be over quickly and I could put it out of my misery. However, as I continued to read the story of Ben and the smarminess disappeared and I started to find myself engrossed in the story.While the "Producer" became a little predictable a little before the reveal, there is another little ending that was foreshadowed that I had forgotten about until Magary brought it back to my attention. It was this even, an event I won't spoil for you, that made the whole adventure worth reading.The Hike has a lot of great moments in it and once you get past the smugness of the beginning truly unfolds to be a decent little read that doesn't get enough publicity. There are quite a lot of little nuances to the book that I would probably really pick up on if I were to do a re-read. Overall, The Hike won me over. Overall 7/10[...]

REVIEW: Power Down by Ben Coes


Power Down by Ben CoesPublishing information: Paperback; 449 pagesPublisher: St. Martin Press; 28 Sept 2010ISBN: 9780312580742Series: Dewey Andreas #1Copy: Out of PocketReviewer: TysonAmazonSynopsis: "A major North American hydroelectric dam is blown up and the largest off-shore oil field in this hemisphere is destroyed in a brutal, coordinated terrorist attack. But there was one factor that the terrorists didn't take into account when they struck the Capitana platform off the coast of Colombia--slaughtering much of the crew and blowing up the platform--and that was the Capitana crew chief Dewey Andreas. Dewey, former Army Ranger and Delta, survives the attack, rescuing as many of his men as possible. But the battle has just begun.While the intelligence and law enforcement agencies scramble to untangle these events and find the people responsible, the mysterious figure of Alexander Fortuna--an agent embedded into the highest levels of American society and business--sets into play the second stage of these long-planned attacks. The only fly in the ointment is Dewey Andreas--who is using all his long-dormant skills to fight his way off the platform, then out of Colombia and back to the U.S., following the trail of terrorists and operatives sent to stop him."It is tough finding author's that give you a believable story and still manage to pull off a badass character in military fiction. They either go buck wild and tell and entertaining story but you end up having to suspend belief in order for you to stay on board with everything going on, or they stay so close to reality that the story loses its audience. I picked up Coes' first novel quite a while ago but finally found the time to give him a shot.In Power Down we have Dewey Andreas, a former Ranger and Delta operator who has ran away from his past and taken up a job with an American oil corp in order to hide from his former life. One of the reasons I enjoyed the novel is the way in which Coes writes about Dewey, he isn't a macho superman, nor is he a gray man doing his best to stay in the shadows. He is just doing a job in the middle of nowhere and keeping his head down while managing an oil drilling platform. Coes foreshadows Dewey as someone not to be messed with but overall the way in which he writes the character it isn't in your face and always looming on every page.It doesn't take long for the action to heat up as terrorist have a cunning plan to bring down America by hitting their energy grid. They destroy the oil rig Dewey is working on and destroy a dam that provides power to the eastern seaboard. It is up to Dewey to find a way to uncover the players and bring them to justice. The plot is a unique one that is an actual concern to America's stability. The villain, which is a nice change of pace, is unexpected and written well.My only issue with the novel, and it is a small complaint, is the fact that Coes continually uses the word "clip" to describe a gun's magazine. While the average person wouldn't bat an eye at the word, gun enthusiasts, law enforcement, and military readers will notice it right off the bat. In my case, it would bring me out of the story for a few minutes every time it was used before I would get back into it. Using the word clip is something that most people with firearms training avoid. Power Down was a fun read that left me wanting more. It is a perfect Summer read that was entertaining and exciting. Overall 7/10[...]

REVIEW: Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 4 by Keiron Gillen, Salvador Larroca


Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 4 by Keiron Gillen, Salvador Larroca
Publishing information: Paperback; 144 pgs
Publisher: Marvel; 6 Dec 2016
ISBN: 9780785199786
Copy: Out of pocket
Reviewer: Tyson


Synopsis: "Collects Darth Vader #20-25.

Darth Vader has been secretly pursuing his own agenda, but now it is time for the End of Games. As Inspector Thanoth returns with some startling information, it seems that Vader may have passed his master's tests. But even after finding favor in the eyes of the Emperor, the Dark Lord's schemes may yet prove his undoing. While killer droids Triple-Zero and Beetee wreak havoc in their own homicidal adventure, the Empire's dreadnought The Executor moves closer to launch. But Vader faces tumultuous battles with the cybernetic Cylo — and himself! Lost in visions of the Force, is he now more machine than man? Or can he fight his way back from the brink to see his missions and machinations finally come to fruition? The imperial march of the dark side reaches a crescendo!"

I have enjoyed reading Marvel's Darth Vader comic series and was disappointed to learn that the series was coming to a close. In the fourth volume of the series I was even more disappointed when I found the conclusion to the series to be the weakest in the series. While we all know the story of Darth Vader as he finds redemption, the comics did add a little more spice to the story and add more than just wanting to show a few side stories that give examples of why he is our favorite villain. However, in this series final comics we don't quite get the send off the previous books were alluding to. Instead we get an atta boy from Emperor Palpatine and then the story just rolls along.

By the time this I flipped the final page of the book, I just felt as if I was missing something. As if there were still a lot of unanswered questions that should have been resolved before the book came to a close and it left me dissatisfied with the whole book. Even the way in which Vader terminates his relationship with Aphra, a scene that was being built up on the page where they met, left me a little empty. I have enjoyed Gillen's ability for storytelling but this volume just felt as if he phoned it in.

While I think Marvel's Darth Vader series is worth reading, this closing volume to the story didn't do the character or the readers much justice. Of the 140 pages or so there are a few moments but overall the book feels hallow and leaves readers creastfallen. The one bright spot to the book is the artwork continues to shine.

Overall 6/10

REVIEW: Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams


Stone of Farewell by Tad WilliamsPublishing information: Paperback; 588 pagesPublisher: Daw; April 2005ISBN: 0756402976Series: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn #2Copy: Received by publisherReviewer: TysonAmazonSynopsis: "The second book in the trilogy that launched one of the most important fantasy writers of our time.It is a time of darkness, dread, and ultimate testing for the realm of Osten Ard, for the wild magic and terrifying minions of the undead Sithi ruler, Ineluki the Storm King, are spreading their seemingly undefeatable evil across the kingdom.With the very land blighted by the power of Ineluki’s wrath, the tattered remnants of a once-proud human army flee in search of a last sanctuary and rallying point—the Stone of Farewell, a place shrouded in mystery and ancient sorrow.An even as Prince Josua seeks to rally his scattered forces, Simon and the surviving members of the League of the Scroll are desperately struggling to discover the truth behind an almost-forgotten legend, which will take them from the fallen citadels of humans to the secret heartland of the Sithi—where near-immortals must at last decide whether to ally with the race of men in a final war against those of their own blood."Not long ago I read and reviewed the first book in the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, The Dragonbone Chair, and enjoyed it (review here). I have also set a goal of reading the first trilogy before the year is out. So it was only a matter of time before I made my way to the second book in the series, Stone of Farewell. The second book takes place moments after the events conclude in the first book. Binabik and Simon must continue their journey to find the swords that will end an ancient evil from covering the land.The Stone of Farewell is an even slower read than the first. I am told that the series really takes off but the middle book doesn't seem to pick up at all. In fact, aside from a few events, the book moves at a glacial pace. I couldn't help but feel as if I was reading the Lord of the Rings again where everyone is just walking. I was expecting the trees to walk as well in this book as everyone is taking a stroll to reach one destination or another only to head out to a final destination. STone of Farewell is really just a chess match where the author is moving his pieces around so that he can begin the final act of the story.I know that if I didn't have friends who have read this series and not praised it so highly, that I would more than likely put this one down halfway through as just not enough was happening. Even the introduction of a few new characters didn't add much to the story for me. While there was a splendid moment when Simon met the Sithi and lived in their city for a time, it didn't add much to the pacing. It did provide their viewpoint and how their long lives make it difficult for them to come to a quick decision on important matters.Readers who felt that The Dragonbone Chair moved slow will notice the story slow down even more and the ending of the novel doesn't really pick up or prepare you for what is to come in the third book. The final book in the series, The Green Angel Tower, is still a mystery to me as not much can be gleaned from the pages of The Stone of Farewell. The last book in the series is also a massive tome and I know it will take a bit of time to get through so while I have plans to read it and finish this series before the end of the year. I will have to power through a few more books first to give myself ample time to read it and review it wi[...]

REVIEW: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn


Barnes and Noble Exclusive Edition HardbackThrawn by Timothy ZahnPublishing information: Hardback; 448pgsPublisher: Random House; 11 April 2017ISBN: 9780425287071Series: Star WarsCopy: Out of pocketReviewer: TysonBarnes and NobleSynopsis: "One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy."Way back in 2991 Timothy Zahn introduced us to the Chiss warrior known as Mitth'raw'nuruodo, better known as Grand Admiral Thrawn. When Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise they rebooted the expanded universe and made the novels before their ownership part of the "legends universe" making many of the best (as well as many terrible) Star Wars books and characters no longer canon. One of the greatest (if not greatest) character was the elusive Grand Admiral Thrawn no longer apart of the Star Wars universe. Fans went crazy when he was finally re-introduced to the Star Wars universe in the animated series Star Wars Rebels and while I don't watch the show, was glad to hear a novel was planned. Now that the novel is out, we finally have some light shed on the character's beginnings.The first Chronological appearance of Thrawn occurs in a previous Star Wars novel, that is no longer canon, entitled Outbound Flight (also written by Zahn) Jedi Obi Wan Kenobi and his padawan Anikan Skywalker take part in a mission to the reaches of unknown space and come across a brilliant military officer in the Chiss Ascendancy (it appears that Zahn snuck that non-canon novel into the book so it may be canon after all). So it if you are interested in learning the true origins of Thrawn you can start there. However, the original appearance of Thrawn takes place in the Thrawn trilogy with the first book in the series entitled, Heir to the Empire. In the Thrawn Trilogy not much is background is given about the blue-skinned Grand Admiral. It is part of that mystery that made him such a fan favorite. He was a ruthless military commander much like Lord Vader but instead of callously killing those under his command, Thrawn would chose the time to engage the enemy and crush them with superior planning.In Zahn's latest book we finally learn how the only alien in the Empire came to rise to the rank of Standard Hardback editionGrand Admiral. The book starts out with the Imperial Navy reconnoitering a barren planet that may be the base for a band of pirates that are harassing shipping lanes and when a landing party discovers a small hut begin to investigate. After being slowly whittled down through superior tactics they decide to retreat, only to learn that the aggressor has snuck aboard their ship. The encounter sparks the Emperor's attention and the alien is brought before him where he is quickly entered into the Royal Naval Academy on Carida. It is here that Thrawn begins his training as an Imperial Officer.Thrawn quickly shows that he is more than capable of planning and executing complex plans as he navigates[...]

REVIEW: Back Blast by Mark Greaney


Back Blast by Mark GreaneyPublishing information: Paperback; 528 pgsPublisher: Penguin; 16 Feb 2016ISBN: 9781101989173Series: Grey Man #5Copy: Out of PocketReviewer: TysonAmazonBook DepositorySynopsis: "Five years ago, Court Gentry was the CIA’s best covert asset. Then, without warning, his masters at the Agency put him at the top of their kill list. Court fled his country and became an enigmatic killer for hire known as the Gray Man.Determined to find out what made the Agency turn against him, he plans to get his hands on the men who sent him on his last mission, Operation BACK BLAST. What he doesn’t realize is that the questions that arose from his time as an American assassin are still reverberating in the U.S. intelligence community, and he’s stumbled onto a secret that powerful people want kept under wraps. The result: everyone has Court in their crosshairs..."It's no secret that I love a good thriller and I think that Mark Greaney's Grey Man series is one, if not the best series of novels since Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series (a series Greaney has taken over for the late Mr. Clancy). Back Blast ups the ante in the series and gives us an ending on major story arc from the series.In Back Blast Court Gentry decides to come home and learn from his superiors just why he was put on a kill list and once Gentry sets foot on American soil the action doesn't let up. Anyone who has read the previous books in the series knows that the CIA is hunting him and that he has barely managed to stay one step ahead of them in his game of survival. Back Blast takes that knowledge and uses it to keep the pace of the book on full throttle as he works his way to solving the mystery of why his former unit and employer turned against him.Many of the players from previous novels play a part in this novel and I would recommend that you start at the beginning of the series in order to fully grasp how things come together in this novel. Greaney does an excellent job with pacing. The novel reads like the waves on a beach as there is a constant ebb and flow to the story. Court is able to come up for air for a short period of time before the next wave threatens to engulf him in a hail of bullets. I don't really want to give away too much of the story as I think it is worth learning how Court became the most wanted man by the CIA and to say anything may provide clues as to why Court shot up to the top of the Agencies most wanted list. I will say that this is a very strong book and was a lot of fun to read. I ended up purchasing the novel from Book Depository as Amazon didn't have the trade paperback and I wanted my collection to remain in the same format. I haven't picked up the next book in the series, Gunmetal Grey, as I am eagerly awaiting the Trade version to come out. But once it does, I will pick it up without hesitation. If you enjoy a well-written thriller that has a extremely likable character look no further than the Gray Man series. It is the perfect escapist read that truly deserves more attention.Overall 8.5/10 [...]

REVIEW: American Gods by Neil Gaiman


Title: American GodsAuthor: Neil GaimanPublishing Information: Paperback, 576 pagesPublisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 28, 2017)ISBN-10: 0062572237ISBN-13: 978-0062572233Copy: Sent by PublisherReviewer: Yagiz"Released from prison, Shadow finds his world turned upside down. His wife has been killed; a mysterious stranger offers him a job. But Mr. Wednesday, who knows more about Shadow than is possible, warns that a storm is coming -- a battle for the very soul of America . . . and they are in its direct path."Many consider Neil Gaiman's American Gods one of his best works. Consequently it had been on my radar for a long while. But you know how it goes: there are too many good books to read, and never enough time.When I received a copy of the 10th anniversary edition from the publisher, I took it as a sign, and I started to read it the same evening. And I was hooked from the first chapter.The main protagonist, Shadow, is a big fella trying to get ready to leave the prison after serving 3 years when he learns about his wife's death in a car accident. But his life truly changes when he meets a mysterious passenger in a flight on his way home. The man, who calls himself Mr. Wednesday, offers him a job, which truly changes Shadow's life. Let me start by saying that Gaiman's prose is so good that I can probably read anything that he writes. This played a big role in my being captivated by the story from the start.A la Stephen King, Gaiman masterfully weaves multiple parallel threads through a mounting climax. I also loved the historical stories that he interjected in certain parts of the book.The premise behind the story is brilliant: America has been visited and settled by many cultures over the last millennia. Each culture brought here their own gods and myths. But those gods were slowly forgotten. Where are they now? What are they doing today, without any believers and worshippers?And what are we believing in instead? What are we worshipping, now? Money? Media? Technology? Today's America is not hospitable to the old gods.Some of the undercurrents of the story are about the theories on world religions and myths, which enrich the readers's experience. As someone who find religions and world myths fascinating, following the author in these streams was very entertaining.Was it perfect? No. My only gripe worth mentioning is that I found Shadow distant. I think a part (if not all) of this disconnect was caused because of the protagonist's nonchalant and indifferent character.American Gods was a real delight to read. If you haven't read it yet, you're in for a treat. Now I have to decide what book of Gaiman's to read next? Anansi Boys or Norse Mythology?Overall: 9/10[...]

REVIEW: The Plot Against America by Philip Roth


The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
Publishing information; Paperback; 391 pgs
Publisher: Vintage; 5 Oct 2004
ISBN: 9781400079490
Copy: Out of pocket
Reviewer; Tyson


Synopsis: "In an astonishing feat of narrative invention, our most ambitious novelist imagines an alternate version of American history. In 1940 Charles A. Lindbergh, heroic aviator and rabid isolationist, is elected President. Shortly thereafter, he negotiates a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler, while the new government embarks on a program of folksy anti-Semitism.

For one boy growing up in Newark, Lindbergh's election is the first in a series of ruptures that threatens to destroy his small, safe corner of America—and with it, his mother, his father, and his older brother."

The Plot Against America came to my attention when the 2017 Presidential Election came to a close as it was recommended on many different reading lists. The plot sounded interesting so I took a chance and picked up a copy.

The first thing you notice with The Plot Against America is that Roth draws a lot from the public figures of the time. It appears that quite a bit of research was done to bring them to life and work their way into the novel. In many cases some of the famous people of the time are mentioned in passing but other times they are featured prominently and are crucial to the plot. However, the book focuses on a Jewish family living in Newark, New Jersey.

As a professor of history I did enjoy the alternative time line and found it entertaining but there were parts where I found the plot slowing down. Roth would push through a series of entertaining events and then bog the story down as he took a break from the tale to focus on other things that honestly needed to be told but could have done in a way as to not slow down the book.

I particularly enjoyed the book's imagining of a fascist regime in America and I can see how many can see the parallels of the current administration's political moves. Using Lindbergh's popularity was an interesting premise for him to win the presidency and some of the events that he took part in after his transatlantic flight to build up his background and eventual run for the presidency were brilliant.

The Plot Against America is an impressive book but I think it gets bogged down with its creativity combine that with it's uneven pacing and it makes for an entertaining read just not a enjoyable read. While I think the book is worth reading, I found it a slugfest in parts and it made for a difficult read as I wanted to just get it finished and move on to something else.

Overall 6/10