Author Archives: redstarreviews

About redstarreviews

A reader (primarily of SciFi & Fantasy) who desires to share his thoughts on the books that he reads. Also on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr with the same username.

From Beauty To Ashes: A Tale Of Two Halves

Y’all know I try to not post negative reviews. It’s just how I tend to prefer running my page. I try to avoid reading books I won’t like so that I’m not stuck feeling like I have to explain why I don’t like a book. One of the reasons is that I know if there’s a book I dislike one of you probably would love it so I don’t want to color your experience. That said this will possibly be as negative a review as I give. As this book is already widely loved and revered I’m confident I won’t scare any of you away from it by sharing my personal opinion. Mild spoilers ahead. Ok. Let’s talk about The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.

This book started out heartbreakingly beautiful! The whole first half of this story is a gorgeously tragic look into the heart of humanity and it is such a rewarding read! The first half is incredible! The second half is almost as if it was another book that the author was told they have to make fit into the pages of the story. It’s boring and uninspired. The beauty in this book was never going to be in the alien civilization, it was in the human interaction. The author lost that in the second half.

If the second half had only been the interrogation/debriefing then the story would have been true to itself. However that isn’t the story written, and the story written doesn’t measure the promise of the start. As a result I forced myself to finish this book, but I wish I had walked away halfway through it so that I didn’t have to read the second half and be this disappointed.

Please keep in mind I’m in the vast minority in my opinion on this book. Also I should note that it isn’t the fates the characters encountered that turns me off for the second half. It’s the story itself. The time spent on the planet was so boring, clunky, and dull. This author did such an amazing job looking into humanity, then lost the plot and thought the aliens were the story. They weren’t and a beautiful book was wasted. As it stands I finished it, and I won’t be reading the sequel.

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It’d Be A Sin To Miss This

Every now and again a friend will recommend a book by their friend and you wonder if it’s as good as they say it is. It’s a reasonable doubt to have because we all want to paint our friends in a positive light. So needless to say when several of my Bookstagram friends started insisting I need to read Michael Reid Jr’s books I had some hesitations because I was worried they might just be being nice to their friend, but so many voices I trust kept echoing this so I said ok! I am so happy I did!

Sins Of The Father is the first book I’ve read by Michael Reid Jr but it won’t be the last! This was the best thriller I’ve read since Tom Clancy. That’s not hyperbole that’s just truth. Part political thriller, part adventure, part anti terrorism, part special forces, all intensely woven together into one fast paced drama that quickly delivers on stories!

Sins Of The Father is actually a sequel to Debt Of Fear which I haven’t read yet but I’ll be reading soon! I always suggest reading books in order but from personal experience I can say you can read these in any order you want to. I just suggest you read them. A lot of stories try to build tension by hiding the story from you. This book doesn’t have to use tricks like that: it’s tense from the start and the story immediately unfolds before your eyes! It draws you in and keeps you turning page after page.

Seriously check this author out! Click on the links I provided to see his books on Amazon or his website. Once you read one book by him you’ll join me in eagerly reading everything by him.

Vintage SciFi Month 2018 Recap

As y’all already surely know if you’ve been following me for any amount of time: January is always Vintage SciFi Month and this January’s reading was incredible! Let’s take a look at the three books I read this year.

Tactics Of Mistake by Gordon R Dickson is the fourth book of The Childe Cycle which I’m working my way through bit by bit each January. While it isn’t the best book in the series it is really good! It is a strong addition to an excellent series. If you’ve read Dorsai and wanted to know how the Dorsai became the most badass soldiers in the known universe then this is the book for you! If you’ve never wondered that but you still enjoy Military SciFi combined with Vintage Philosophy then this is still the book for you!

Up next was Philip K Dick’s classic of SciFi: Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep and it was an excellent story! I watched Blade Runner as a kid but I had never made time for the story it was based upon. I am glad I finally did! It was a very subtle story with a slow burn that once lit wouldn’t go out. Very enjoyable and easy to lose yourself in the story.

This January close to fifty people joined me for the #ReadDune Group Read, several of them reading Frank Herbert’s Dune for the first time! The good news is that almost everyone loved it! I mean how could you not love this book? This was either my fourth or fifth time to read it and I enjoyed it yet again! Getting to see everyone’s reaction to it was so much fun. Dune will always be special to me and I’m happy to report that it gets better with each reread!

I hope to see y’all join in on Vintage SciFi Month next January!

Read Dune Weekly Goals

We recently announced the #ReadDune Group Read and now that we’re only a week away from starting we wanted to share the weekly target reading goals! This is a little tricky as there are so many different editions and each has its own page count. So it makes sense to do this by chapter, right? Right! Only… Frank Herbert didn’t number or name his damn chapters! The NERVE of that author! 😂

So everyone will need to keep count of the chapters they’ve read because we’re going to read a certain number each week. As this can get tricky we have another visual aide: each chapter starts with a section from fictitious history books and we’ll watch for specific chapter openings! This will (hopefully) work!

January week one we will read chapters one through fifteen and stop at the start of chapter sixteen you see pictured here! When you read “Greatness is a transitory experience.” you will have reached stopping point one. Everyone should be here by Saturday January the sixth. Next stopping point:

We will read chapters sixteen through the end of twenty-six and stop at the start of twenty-seven when you read: “At the age of fifteen, he had already learned silence.” This will be the stopping point on Saturday January the 13th. The next stopping point is fun:

That’s right! We stop at Book Three The Prophet! Frank Herbert came through for us on this split! Everyone should strive to be at The Prophet by Saturday January the twentieth.

The last week we shall read to the end of the story. With this pace we will all finish on Saturday January the twenty-seventh and then we’ll all hit play on the cheesy 80’s film adaptation and enjoy!

Read at your own pace but be aware that the conversations will include possible spoilers once we hit a Saturday goal as discussing anything from the week’s reading is fair game on a Saturday and beyond. Above all else please have fun!

Damming The Heresy Or Adding To The Flow?

When reading a never ending series you realize the only way to reach the end is to never stop reading. That said every so often it’s good to pause and evaluate if you’re enjoying the series. Upon finishing the thirtieth book of The Horus Heresy I decided to do just that.

One of my early complaints about The Heresy was that every few books you’d get a story that didn’t advance the overall storyline. It felt like it would go sideways. This was a way of building up the series, of showing you what was happening all around the Imperium Of Man during The Heresy. The Damnation Of Pythos by David Annandale felt like one of those sideways books and I won’t lie I was a little frustrated by that at the start. Especially considering the previous book actually featured Horus and advanced the story greatly! To go from a book that’s focused on one of the central characters to the Heresy to a book that features a battered and near destroyed company of Space Marines trying to pull themselves together after being almost destroyed in events that took place in the fifth book of the series was a little like changing gears while driving without using a clutch.

However I must admit that as I read on in the book I started to see how this story fits in the overall story, and I was able to appreciate the added depth it brought to series. It’s also an amazing example of GrimDark SciFi such as you often see in the pages of a Warhammer40K book, I say that to say it felt more WH40K than Horus Heresy style and I’m happy with that. This book, whether intentionally or not, started to form more of a bridge between the events of The Horus Heresy and the events of the every day Imperium Of Man in the 40K universe. Less hope and more faith combined with inner struggles and ultimate sacrifices for gains you can’t yet see.

Thirty books into this Heresy and I’m still quite happy with this series and the directions the authors are taking it in. Truth told I’m going to be sad when I reach the end of this never ending series. I’m going to miss it because it has been such a great reading experience.

That said I’m also starting the thirty-first book right now. Because the only way to reach the end of a never ending series is to never stop reading it. Let The Heresy Continue.

Announcing The #ReadDune Group Read For Vintage SciFi Month!

Officially announcing the #ReadDune GroupRead I’ll be hosting for #VintageSciFiMonth this January!

We’ll be using the #ReadDune hashtag to help keep track and follow along of each other’s posts and be able to enjoy more discussions on it! So break out your copies of Dune by Frank Herbert and let’s start spreading the word!

For those new to how I handle GroupReads here are some details:

Each week we have a target page/location goal in the book. We don’t discuss in detail anything that takes place in the book until we reach that Saturday Goal, and then we discuss only the sections we’ve read so far. You’ll find it works really well. The Group DMs are normally very fun and respectful, and allow for discussing shared emotional reactions, general observations, and encouragement to reach the goal. Once we’ve reached a goal we discuss things that happened in detail and have fun with it. If anyone hasn’t reached the goal they’ll need to be careful about the Group DMs on the weekends as that’s when a lot of specifics get discussed. I’ll be looking into the page counts of the common versions but it’ll probably be between 130-150 pages a week of reading.

What are Group DMs? Everyone who wants to participate will be invited into a group DM on Instagram or on Twitter (whichever social network you prefer). There’s a limit on how many can join so there’ll be a few group DMs created. I’ll be in each one to help moderate and help keep spoilers to a minimum. We’ve got several first time readers joining in so everyone needs to be conscious about posting spoilers! That’s where the page goals will come in to play.

Since we tend to have more than one Group DM I’ll also post a #ReadDune Instagram post and Twitter Post every Saturday Morning so that everyone can publicly discuss the book (up to that page goal) with everyone else easily.

Ready for the cheesy fun part? At the end of it all on either Saturday the 27th or Sunday the 28th depending on people’s schedules we’ll all hit play at the same time on the fun and cheesy 80’s movie edition of Dune and have fun watching the movie together to celebrate finishing the book!

Posting photos of your reading of Dune is highly encouraged! Please post away and use the #ReadDune hashtag and we’d love if you used the #VintageSciFiMonth hashtag too! Above all have fun! This is one of my favorite books, and I think it has a broad appeal. I’m hopeful you’ll like it, but there is no pressure to like it! If you don’t it’s really ok as I’m not the author, just a fan.

Let me know on Twitter or on Instagram if you’ll be joining in! Check out my latest post on Instagram or my pinned tweet on Twitter to respond and let me know if you’re joining!

A Bright Star With A Unique Voice!

As y’all know one of my goals is to feature independently published (or small publisher) books that I feel shine brightly in the night sky! I want to bring quality stories to your attention that you might otherwise miss, and I have an excellent one to bring to your attention!

Abigail Rhodes: Seeds by Michelle Allen is one of the more uniquely twisty turny stories that I’ve read! The author’s unique voice shines through as the story draws you in deeper and deeper with each new revelation. The description from Amazon sets the stage well:

The Lamp Light Society believes they own the world. The Organization believes they can control it. In a world where humans, monsters, and even gods are attempting to maintain a fragile balance, an unknown entity has arrived whose agenda may only be chaos. Her name is Abigail Rhodes.

Right from the start you are thrown into this world, but you don’t feel lost! You feel intrigued and curious. Before you know it you’ve read more, and the style has drawn you in while the substance grabs ahold of you! I was very impressed by the story and found that I couldn’t set it down. I had to keep on reading to see where it went, and now I can’t wait to see where the next story the author tells will take us!

This is a bright star that is worth your attention, and a story that will intrigue you! I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it so please give this book a read and let me know what you think!