Category Archives: Book Previews

A quick look at what I’m reading.

First Author Contact: C J Cherryh

I am a fan of Science Fiction. I have been a SciFi fan all my reading life and probably will be one for the rest of my days. When you are heavily invested in a particular genre you notice certain authors often. Their books stand out. Their names grab at you as you pass by. Your friends rave about them and are shocked you haven’t read them yet. Yet is the important word. This month I am addressing one of those yet situations.   
C J Cherryh is an author that I have heard about for decades. I’ve seen her books and wanted to read them for years but for various reasons never got around to it. She is a celebrated and respected author who has contributed greatly to the SciFi genre and is still contributing! Her work has entertained and challenged countless readers since she was first published in 1976. 

Having obtained a hardback copy of Foreigner, the first book published in her Foreigner Universe, I decided to make April the month I finally achieve First Contact with C J Cherryh’s work. What better place to start than with a novel of First Contact? A lost generational starship at the end of its five hundred year journey coming in contact with an alien species sounds like a wonderful way to meet an author’s work.  


 I am inviting any and all who want to join me in starting C J Cherryh’s work to join in! Several friends have decided to give Foreigner a read this month with me and I’d love to have more join in. I don’t have a set reading schedule of so many chapters a week or a scheduled date to be done with the book. I know time zones, schedules, and TBR Piles don’t always allow for identical reading goals so this one is a very loose one. I’m starting Foreigner today and hope y’all join me in reading it this month! 

Feel free to follow my progress on GoodReads as I will mark my progress there. Or you can follow on Instagram/Twitter as I will be using the hashtags: #FirstCherryh #FirstAuthorContact and #CJCReading on those sites. I’ll post a review of my final thoughts here on my website. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Foreigner by C J Cherryh! 

February Reading Theme: #Finish15

January and Vintage SciFi Month have come to a close and it was an enjoyable journey! I normally don’t select themes for my monthly or yearly reading but while reading through January I decided I would set a theme for February too. 
Welcome to Finish Fifteen! #Finish15 is my attempt to finish the ten books left on my GoodReads Currently Reading List from 2015. I’m excited for it as I was enjoying each of the ten books, I just haven’t finished them yet for various reasons. 

What are the ten books you ask? Well the ten book (in no particular order) are:


Last Argument Of Kings by Joe Abercrombie 

This is the final book of The First Law Trilogy and I’m eager to see how the story ends. 

Stormbringer by Michael Moorcock 

Book Six Of The Elric Saga is setting itself up to be the most dangerous of his adventures. 

Orphan’s Destiny by Robert Buettner

The second book of the Orphan Saga follows fast on the heels of the first. It’s difficult seeing one made to soar be brought down hard, but hopefully he’ll be soaring again soon. 

Flood by Andrew Vachss

The first book of his Burke Series. His Burke books are always darker seeming then any of his others. Maybe because after 18 books you feel closer to the title character so it seems more personable. 

Winterbirth by Brian Ruckley

Book one of The Godless World Trilogy. This one seems the larger of the books I’m attempting to complete. However I loved his standalone novel The Free so I have high hopes for this series. 


Caliban’s World by James S A Corey

For me: Attempting to read the second book of The Expanse Series right after completing the first was like changing gears without a clutch while rolling downhill, and then going backwards to go forwards. I have no doubt the series will win me back over and wow me, I just felt they could have advanced the primary story and characters differently while introducing their new characters in a way that might cause me to like them more. More on that after I finish the last 30% of the book. 

Born Bad by Andrew Vachss

A collection of his crime fiction short stories. Sharp precise scalpel cuts into the darkness. 

The Claw Of The Conciliator by Gene Wolfe

The second book of The Book Of The New Sun started abruptly skipping in the story similar to Caliban’s War did. After ending on a cliffhanger in book one I found myself wanting to skip forward in book two to see if you ever learn what happened next. Time to find out. 

The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs

Yes! I am so excited to dive back into this alternate history! Rome meets the Old West with Magic?! Excited. 

Europe In Autumn by Dave Hutchinson

This book holds so much promise to be amazing. I can’t wait to dive back into the splintered Europe of the near future. 

Those are the ten books that #Finish15 will consist of and I’m excited to get back into them and see how they turn out. Wish me luck as I try to do this during the month of February! Feel free to follow my progress on GoodReads. Have you read any of these books? Do you have any reading goals for February? 


From My Bookshelf: Armor by John Steakley

Armor by John Steakley has been on my TBR list for the past two decades and this weekend I’ve picked it up #FromMyBookshelf to finally read it! It is a classic of Military SciFi and follows Felix as he leaves a mysterious past to enlist in humanity’s military, put on a futuristic suit of Armor, and fights for mankind amongst the stars.

It gets off to a fast start with the promise of plenty of action to follow.
Here’s hoping it lives up to its promise!   

Zombies And Knights? A Bright Star!

RedStarReviews presents the second monthly installment of Stars In The Sky our hunt for independent books. In these reviews we are focusing on finding quality indie books and bringing them to your attention. 
This month our book selection was The Scourge by Roberto Calas which is a medieval zombie tale and quite enjoyable! 
The Scourge features three Knights who are making their way across a zombie filled England. Their mission is to rescue the wife of the leader of the three, and they’ll allow nothing to stand in their way. 
In a market saturated with zombie stories this is the first I’ve encountered set during this time in history and it works perfectly. The populace is already used to hardships and plagues and honestly a person in that time period might have stood a better chance than we would in our own time! 
The banter between the primary characters is excellent and keeps the story advancing at a fast pace. The author tries to be respectful of the settings and time the story is set within, and does a great job of telling a good story. The anguish and personal hell that Edward (the lead character) is going through while trying to reach his wife is exquisitely displayed as is his turmoil of seeing the country he has fought for and sworn to overrun by an endless enemy. You’ll find yourself caring about and invested in these characters. 
Our goal (as stated above) with Stars In The Sky is to find quality independent works and give them greater visibility. Last month the bar was set high with The Crown Of Stones: Magic Price and this month the level of quality has been maintained by The Scourge. Looking forward to reading and enjoying more by Roberto Calas!

The Heretical Heresies Of Horus

Within this post we shall examine the foundation of The Horus Heresy, what the series is, what it is connected to, information that would greatly assist you as you undertake the journey of reading this excellent series, and some of the practical notes on the logistics of the series all in a fairly Spoiler Free method. In future posts we will discuss the actual books in a little more detail and as such those posts may contain a few Spoilers just because they cover the series as it grows, but they won’t be Spoiler laden. Our goal is to interest you in reading the books we review, not in spoiling the fun. 

Please note: there are also games, models, miniatures, comic books, and audio books that detail this series. For the purpose of this review we will only focus upon the books.

Now on to the Heresy! 


The Horus Heresy is a 30+ (and growing) SciFi book series that sets the stage for the WarHammer40K (WH40K) Universe. What’s that you say? You don’t know about WH40K? Well imagine a GrimDark future Imperium of Mankind that spans across our galaxy. It’s been running for 10,000 years and is always on the brink of destruction but barely keeps enduring thanks to the heroic actions of the Space Marines: genetically altered super warriors who live an almost eternal life of fighting humanity’s enemies and protecting us from falling into Chaos. 
The future isn’t pretty. It’s very dark and dangerous but it wasn’t always so! There was a time at the foundation of the Imperium of Man when the superhuman Emperor walked amongst us and was guiding us into a Golden Age of promise, of science, of hope. From his very being he created the Primarchs: superhuman beings made in the image of the Emperor. His sons. Gifted in ways as he was. Each Primarch was given a legion of Space Marines of his own that had been created from the Primarch’s genetics just as the Primarch was taken from the Emperor’s genes. 
The Emperor then led his Primarchs and their legions of Space Marines on a two hundred year long war of reunification of humanity that had previously migrated from humanity’s birthplace of Earth. After two hundred years of this conquest the Emperor is returning to Earth to start the next phase of the Golden Age and leaves the task of the never ending wars of expansion and reunification in the hands of his favored son: the Primarch Horus. 
This is where The Horus Heresy begins. On the eve of the greatest possible age of humanity, Chaos creeps in. Dark Powers that have been taking shape behind the scenes for decades start to rise to the fore and even the most pure and mighty will face temptation and possibly fall. When many beings have godlike power and purpose what hope of survival does the galaxy have when those purposes and powers find themselves at odds?
Someone asked how The Horus Heresy compares to A Song Of Ice And Fire. This was a question I wasn’t expecting because while both series are excellent they are quite different in nature. One stark contrast (don’t lose your heads over the pun ASOIAF fans) stands out: ASOIAF tries to take the giant characters you see in High Fantasy and make them human. In The Horus Heresy the authors are taking the major characters and making them so much more than human. The Emperor, the Primarchs, the Space Marines all are much larger than life characters and this series examines events in the WH40K universe that have been much alluded to but never examined. As a result the primary characters are seen as giants in every way and as the noblest of beings. This is so that when the darkness wells up from within or surrounds from without you can truly see it for the evil that it is. 
But what is good and what is evil? That has been a question that plagues us all and is one of the primary drives within this conflict. Is the Emperor good? Is he saving humankind from ourself or is he a tyrannical conqueror enslaving us to his will and condemning us to an empty future? Is the Emperor’s chosen son Horus evil for rising against his father or is he good and bringing freedom to choose our own destiny to humanity? 
And conflict it is. The Heresy spreads and sides are chosen. Misunderstanding, doubt, jealously, hatred, rage, and miscommunication flourish in the heart of Chaos and destruction follows close behind. The greatest war to engulf our species breaks out and you’ll see the greatest of heroics and darkest of treacheries. There is no war darker than a civil war and this one might tear the universe apart. 
Time to discuss some of the logistics of this series! The series as I said is already greater than 30 books long (and growing) with each book typically being between 400 to 500 pages in length. Multiple books are released within the same year and sometimes the books cover the same events but from very different perspectives. This is able to happen and be maintained by the fact that it is being written by multiple authors and not just one. Several excellent authors who have helped to shape the WH40K Universe have joined forces to examine this dark time at the foundations of its history, each a very talented author who brings certain strengths to the development of the story overall. 
How long does this Heresy take for there to be so many books? Well future historians have offered differing opinions upon this fact but most agree that this chapter in human history lasted around a decade. However as this conflict spans the galaxy there are several different stories to be told as it all comes together. The first few books of the series set the stage for the Heresy and advance the story, then the series starts examine events taking place from different angles, often advancing the series bit by bit but always expounding upon the characters and events that make up this greatest of conflicts.
Within the overall series you’ll find there are a few short story collections. These stories will sometimes go further back in time to show you the origin of some of the characters and organizations within the conflict and often add valuable depth to the series. It’s an interesting way to tell the overall story. 
Overall the experience of reading The Horus Heresy has been an enjoyable one as you meet so many characters that you truly care about and you experience the devastation of this conflict through their eyes. The authors do a fantastic job of bringing these godlike beings alive within the pages, and capture your imagination with their storytelling abilities. Though there are many authors writing this series they aren’t at odds with each other and they truly accentuate each other with each author bringing something to the table. 
Future posts on this subject will delve a little deeper into the specific books of the series and as such may contain some Spoilers for those who haven’t read them. We will try and avoid this but it can be difficult to discuss book 11 of 30 without divulging something that happened within book 8. We’ll try and mark Spoilers but we encourage y’all to open the pages of the books and enjoy the series so that we can discuss it together! 
The Horus Heresy is the definition of an epic and it is a tale deserving to be told. RedStarReviews will continue reading this story and recommending it!
I’d like to thank my puppy as she helped me with all of the photos. Thank you Piper! 

Strong And Compelling Characters In Half The World

Half The World by Joe Abercrombie is an incredible story. Although it is the second book in a series it truly could stand alone on its own merits.

Abercrombie is known as a master of GrimDark Fantasy and deserves that accolade but he also deserves praise for creating realistic and endearing characters that you can admire and identify with which is exactly what he did with the POV characters he created for this story.

You will be put through the emotional wringer with this book! Abercrombie will surprise you, excite you, anger you, cause you to fear, but he’ll also cause you to clutch greedily to hope as you turn page after page. This isn’t a book you can easily set down.

This book will be released for sale on 02/17/15 and I do highly recommend that you get ahold of it!

Revival Is At Hand!

Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton is an interesting story of life after death set in rural Wisconsin.

At first I was led to believe that this would be your typical zombies need brains tale from a few of the reviews I had seen but nothing could be further from the truth! This is an engaging story about many things and central to the story is how and why several dead people returned to life in a small town and how it affects everyone.

The art is great and sets a perfect stage for the story. The pacing of the story draws you along scene by scene giving it the feel of a movie. The characters are well fashioned and believable. This is one story that I can’t wait to read more of! Looking forward to seeing how this unfolds.


Golden Son: Best Book Of 2015?

I’ve just finished reading my advance copy of Golden Son by Pierce Brown and though it is very early in 2015 I may have just finished reading the best book I will read this year.

Red Rising (the first book of this series) captured my imagination in 2014 early on and held its place as the best book I read all year. As a result my expectations for Golden Son were extremely high. I was not disappointed. In fact Pierce Brown exceeded my expectations with this book.

Golden Son returns all of the intensity and excitement of Red Rising while raising the scope of the story. We move from the training grounds on which our hero Darrow was forged into the crucible of war. We face open enemies and the hidden daggers of secret enemies. We encounter new allies and old hatreds. With this book Pierce Brown lets all the world know his success with Red Rising was not a fluke, only an opening salvo in a hopefully long and sure to be impressive career.

If you haven’t read Red Rising yet you should pick it up as soon as you can and then dive right into Golden Son. If you’ve already read Red Rising then open up Golden Son and enjoy the wonderful intensity you will find within its pages. Truly a wonderful story and quite possibly the best book you’ll read in 2015.


My Unexpected Book Holiday And What’s On The Horizon

So today I had an unexpected day off work (thanks poison oak!) and I used that time combined with the weekend to get caught up on my book reviews!

I had fallen behind on books I had been approved of for NetGalley and I had promised a couple authors reviews so this seemed to good an opportunity to pass up.

First I read The Martian by Andy Weir (loved it! Read it ASAP) and then I followed that up with Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells (gripping page turner!). Moving away from SciFi I picked up HellBoy In Hell by Mike Mignola (a masterpiece) and then I finished it all off with a Russian SciFi from the 60’s: Hard To Be A God by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (beautiful but difficult read) that I had started a while back but just hadn’t finished yet.

I considered spacing out the reviews more, but honestly I was having too much fun reading and sharing about the books, so I’ve been posting like a mad man lately. Unfortunately I know this will slow back down with my return back to work, but I did want to let everyone know that something special is on the horizon!

One of the reasons I created RedStarReviews was to open up the door for fellow book loving friends of mine to be able to share their thoughts on the books that they’re reading. I’m happy to report that a few of them are now preparing to write some reviews for everyone to enjoy! The books are their own selections and their reviews will be in their own style and voice. I’m very excited about this and hope to be able to share these reviews with everyone soon!

As always I am very thankful to all who have joined me on this journey of being a book reviewer. Really this has been such a source of joy to me and all of y’all who have encouraged me are appreciated beyond words. Thank you all for being a part of this and here’s to a bright future!

My Wife Starts Her Summer Reading List With Odd Girl Out

My wife (who works full time as a High School Teacher) is starting off her Summer Reading List with Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons. It explores the hidden culture of aggression in girls and my wife is hoping to gain a better understanding and ability to help girls who are struggling with anger and aggression. I’m really looking forward to her thoughts on this book and will be posting her review once she finishes reading the book!