What I’m Listening To!

I thought it’d be fun to share what podcasts I’m listening to and enjoying! Not all are book related but each one has grabbed my attention and has an impact on my life so I wanted to let you know about them and about what they mean to me. Here’s a few podcasts that are off the beaten path!

First there’s mine! 😂 but for real if you didn’t know I have a podcast I do want to let you know about it! RedStarReviews is a labor of love that has provided a creative outlet that really brings me joy. Keep on reading for more amazing podcasts including the one that helped inspire me to launch mine!

If you follow me on any social media then you’ve seen me talk about The No Fly List because it is AMAZING! In it you have a comedian and a journalist who interview incredible people on what it is like to be a POC in America. It’s funny and insightful, and I recommend it so highly!

Read This F___ing Book is a book discussion podcast that not only features two great hosts: they also feature SciFi and Fantasy books!!!!! They feature books I’ve read or want to read and that makes for a fun experience.

The Robcast is the podcast that finally gave me that last little push I needed to launch my own podcast! Rob Bell has long been an inspiration to me, and he constantly encourages his listeners to do the thing they’ve been thinking about for ages. Just step out and try. So I did and I’m thankful I did! He brings wisdom, insight, motivation, and peace. This podcast is SO GOOD!

Y’all know I consider Battlestar Galactica (Reboot) to be the greatest tv show EVER!!! I’ve been wanting to rewatch it and so imagine my joy when Battlestar Galacticast launched! Here’s a chance to rewatch the series and enjoy some fine discussion about it!

I just recently discovered The Frontline Club and I’ve greatly enjoyed this news show’s formatting and content. They take journalists and politicians who were at the heart of conflict and have them discuss those situations in front of a very argumentative audience. Recommended for those who like modern history.

Fareed Zakaria is the host of the best news show in America and while I love watching his tv show on Sunday mornings I enjoy getting to hear his thoughts and interviews while commuting to and from work!

Stories With My Muslim Mom is a great podcast in which a son interviews his mother about her life experiences and opens our eyes to so many things! https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/stories-with-my-muslim-mom/id1434519106?mt=2

And for fellow history lovers Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History just can’t be beat! Do yourself a favor and dive right into his episodes on WWI https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dan-carlins-hardcore-history/id173001861?mt=2

So while you’re waiting for the latest episode of RedStarReviews you now have a list of some excellent podcasts to enjoy!

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An Arrogant Tale

Wolfling by Gordon R Dickson is the first book I completed for this year’s Vintage SciFi Month! It’s a really enjoyable page turner of a book, which places humanity and Earth high up on a pedestal. Mild spoilers to follow the photo below.

The cover itself is excellent! And I have enjoyed reading Gordon R Dickson’s books each January for this special month and this book was a good continuation of that enjoyment! That said it’s really arrogant and human-centric. I doubt seriously if we came in contact with a superior alien race that we’d be able to go toe to toe with them much less outplay them at their own games. Also… some of the terminology and situations were troubling from both a modern perspective and from the age in which GRD wrote this tale too. The plot and primary character is interesting though so overall I enjoyed this tale.

The question what put forth of how these Vintage SciFi books age. Do they stay applicable or get passed by. It’s a tricky question that probably applies to each book differently. I think for the most part GRD’s books don’t stay applicable as they rely so heavily on the author’s outdated philosophies, but the stories remain interesting and there are thought provoking points which are worth mining out of the stories. I don’t want to sound unfair to GRD, I really do think he’s a great author, I just think the more I read of his the more I see his biases shining through.

Cleaning The Bookshelves

Cleaning the bookshelves! Or maybe better put as organizing the bookshelves? 🤔 Any way you phrase it working on your bookshelves is probably something that every book reader does once in a while. Some more often then others!

Sometimes the bookshelves are messy because friends came over and you had to move all your nicknacks into your Study, or maybe you were just given a bunch of books, or maybe you needed five books for one photo and eleven for another….

Or maybe your bookshelves are always immaculate but you realized you want them organized by color scheme rather than by author! It’s an adventure to go through your books no matter the reason! The real question is: How many books can you move before you pick one up that meant the world to you and you get lost in the memory of it?

Books are like best friends. The stories helped you through some tricky parts of life. Maybe you felt all alone and thought no one understood you and then you picked up THE BOOK in which the lead character was totally you and you realized you weren’t alone. Others went through the same stories. That’s a powerful feeling and now every time you move that book from shelf to shelf you remember that moment.

Maybe the book reminds you of that song you were listening to when you read it! Or it again sparks the creativity within you to make your own art! Or it politely waves at you and asks if it is finally its turn to be read.

Working on cleaning my bookshelves and getting hit in all the feels as I reorganize and move stories around. I don’t mind messy shelves because I know every time I look through them I’ll be taken on another adventure. Here’s to more adventures!

Blogging Can Be Difficult At Times.

Can I just say that’s it? The title I mean. That’s all the content here! Ha. No it isn’t, have no fear. Here there be content, if not dragons.

I love reading, reviewing, bookstagramming, tweeting, blogging, love it all. That said it’s much easier to just snap a quick photo (like above) and add it to a Story on FB or IG and speed along in life. Lately that’s been easier for me because as you can guess life with a little one can be a bit busy. Amazingly incredibly rewarding, but still a bit busy. So time consuming things such as blogging start to take a back seat. It’s ok and natural. If you’re at a stage where your reviews or reading is taking a hit due to life circumstances please don’t fret. Live life and your friends truly will understand. Books will wait on your shelves patiently.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been able to reduce my currently reading pile down to just seven books! Progress has been made! However I haven’t sat down and written up solid blog reviews for the books I’ve finished and they do deserve that. I fully intend to get back into the swing of things and add more content to RedStarReviews including updating a page here to feature my podcast. It’ll take me some time to get it all done, but goals are good to have!

Speaking of goals it’s time to record and release a new episode of the podcast! It will be soon. Very soon!

All of this to say: it’s easy to have your creative focus distracted over multiple avenues of expression, and really easy to focus on the few that bring the most responses. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not getting the interactions you seek. Create to create and have fun. That’s my goal here and it’s stayed fun for me so far and I expect it will continue on!

Now that is it. That’s the blog today. 😊

The Books Of Summer

As I mentioned in episode two of my RedStarReviews Podcast I wanted to write a blog alongside the Podcast to share with you links to each of the twelve books I’m currently reading. If you didn’t know I have a Podcast: SURPRISE! I have a Podcast! It’s available wherever fine Podcasts are found! Here’s a link to it on Apple’s Podcasts: RedStarReviews

In my latest episode I’m discussing the books that I’m currently reading and I’ll be doing so each season of the year to give you a snapshot of what books I’m enjoying. I’m a PolyReader so I enjoy reading multiple books at once. I know this method isn’t for everyone so I’m not trying to convert anyone, just sharing what I’m reading. 🙂

On to the books! I’ll be sharing links to each one in case you’re interested in reading any!

First the books I’m reading on Kindle so I had to grab books of the same length to show off the pages “creatively” 😂

Book 1: Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras is an amazingly fun adventure starring a badass Scottish girl in medieval times who lost her father and brothers into captivity and is now setting out to try and rescue them armed with her wits and a sword! I’m a quarter of the way in and this book is so much fun to read! It is a Middle Grade book so if you have early readers in your house this is perfect for them and if you like a good tale it’s perfect for you!

Book 2: Thistle And Spade by J Addison is an amazingly well crafted graphic novel in which the author is also the illustrated and the publisher! I got to meet them and was immediately impressed with both the art and story in the pages of this graphic novel! An alternate world reaching the end of a world war in which the regular soldiers suddenly turn on the mercenary forces. One merc survives and this is their tale!

Book 3: Another Bloody Love Letter by Anthony Lloyd is a nonfiction account of the author’s descent into heroin addiction and his coverage of the conflict in Kosovo. He’s quite biased but it is his perspective on events and I have to say the introspective look into why he’s a war corespondent and how he handles his addiction is interesting!

Book 4: Against A Dark Background by Iain M Banks is a SciFi written outside of Banks’ famous Culture Novels. It’s taken me half of the book to appreciate this work, but I’ve got the rhythm now. An intergalactic cult is chasing the heroine who is trying to find an ancient lost treasure which could destroy the universe while trying to work with her team which has been split by betrayal. It’s pretty good once you get past the first half 😂 with it being Banks I persevered knowing I’ll appreciate it in the end.

Book 5: Emperor Of Thorns by Mark Lawrence which is the third book of his Broken Empire trilogy. It’s a GrimDark Fantasy which follows the adventures of Jorg who isn’t a hero… he’s not really an antihero either… he’s really a villain and an awful person but he just might be our only hope as humanity is facing destruction! Dark and brutal but with surprising growth and insight!

Book 6: The Tower Of Living And Dying by Anna Smith Spark is the second book of her GrimDark Fantasy Empires Of Dust and it’s AMAZING. Bloody poetry, y’all. The first book Court Of Broken Knives was incredible and this continues on! Prose written in blood and gore and stream of consciousness. Beauty and horror all together. Can’t wait to see where this story goes!

Book 7: Deathfire by Nick Kyme which is the 32nd book of The never ending Horus Heresy and the only way to finish a never ending series is to never stop reading it! Slam bang Military SciFi action and intergalactic civil war!

Book 8: The Balkans Nationalism War And The Great Powers 1804-1999 by Misha Glenny and if you want to understand the Balkan region a little more then this is the book for you!

Book 9: Excession by Iain M Banks is the fifth book of his incredible Culture Novels and y’all, Banks is everything I’ve ever wanted in an author. His writing hits me on a deep level and this SciFi about AI Minds trying to communicate to sort out an issue facing the universe is engrossing and enjoyable!

Book 10: Embers Of War by Gareth L Powell was described as a cross between Iain M Banks and Ann Leckie so how could I pass that up? It’s living up to that promise with wonderfully crafted characters with deep flaws and AI driven starships battling issuers with their conscious. Truly enjoying this one!

Book 11: Winning The Hearts And Minds War Poems By Vietnam Vets is a collection of poems by Vietnam Vets during the Vietnam War and it’s a brutal collection of raw emotion that will break your heart.

Book 12: Poems by Iain Banks and Ken MacLeod is a collection of poems by these two excellent authors and I’m trying to branch out into more poetry by selecting authors and topics that fascinate me.

I’ll close this blog with a line from a Banks’ poem: “The bomb lives only as it is falling.”

Blood And Poetry

A short while back I noticed that several authors whose works I enjoy were talking about a new book that was coming soon, and everything I read about this book sounded fascinating! Y’all know I enjoy a quality GrimDark Fantasy read, and so when authors who excel at GrimDark say you need to pay attention to a book you should pay attention to that book!

The Court Of Broken Knives written by Anna Smith Spark is poetry written in blood. That’s the best description I think I can use for this beautiful tragedy.

Hidden truths behind histories, ancient empires seeking their former glory, dark gods, powerful magic, love, hate, betrayal, twists, turns, death, ruin, blood, war, and dragons. This Fantasy delivers.

One of the aspects of this story I enjoy so much is the style of writing the author uses. So rich and descriptive! You feel each page! Each paragraph comes to life and draws you in deeper to the story. This is a powerful tale told well. This is poetry written in blood. This is a story you will want to read!

Hello, Thank You, And Books!

Allow me to start by saying thank you for staying with me even when it has been a little while since my last post. Life has been a bit busy! A few months back my wife and I welcomed our beautifully amazing daughter into our lives and I also started a new position at work. Both of these life changing events have reduced my reading and writing time, but both have also been very rewarding. One day I’ll post more on being a father but today I can say there is nothing more amazing that holding your child in your hands. It is as if you are holding your heart in your hands. Simply amazing. But this post is about books isn’t it? On to the post!

Once upon a time when I was a young lad with a library card I discovered a few authors who managed to capture my attention and fire up my imagination! Robert Jordan was one such author. Wheel Of Time has just reached its fifth volume (The Fires Of Heaven) and I devoured the series! I read through the first five books three times before book six had a chance to be published and then with each new release I would reread the entire series. I loved it. I discovered friends in the pages of those books that I identified with more than I did the people around me. As a result those first five books are intensely special to me and I’ll forever be thankful to Robert Jordan for them.

Around that same time I also discovered an author by the name of Tad Williams and I leapt into his Memory Sorrow And Thorn trilogy! I was young so I thought I identified with young Seoman Snowlock and I sadly rushed through the trilogy trying to get past all the other bits to enjoy the adventures of Seoman. I loved the story, and I know I appreciated it at the time in my limited way, but just this past year I returned to Osten Ard (the land the books are set in) with a reread of the trilogy. My first time returning to those books in about 25 years! What did I discover? Beauty. This trilogy is a beautiful work of marvelous art and I can’t sing its praises enough! I truly identify with the side characters. The ones whose stories I couldn’t get past quickly enough to get back to what I thought was the main story. Now I see the beauty in their inner struggles and understand how very human they are and how amazing of a work Tad Williams created.

You never know what treasures you might find when you open a book, even if you’ve read that book before! Rereading Dune Messiah gave me a deeper appreciation for Frank Herbert because when you realize just how much he packed into this tiny book you are amazed! Such a short work yet so powerful!

Those are my bookish musings for the moment. I wanted to say hi to everyone and to continue our conversations on books! I intend to be a little more present here but I know you’ll understand if the posts aren’t as frequent as we’d all like. However I do intend to announce something here soon so do keep checking RedStarReviews for some fun upcoming news! 😊 I appreciate you all so much!