Category Archives: From My Bookshelf

Sixth Of Nine: False Gods

From The Godless World Trilogy over to False Gods for our sixth post out of the nine! False Gods is written by Graham McNeill and it is the second book in the Horus Heresy. As y’all know I’ve committed myself to reading this neverending and highly enjoyable series, and it is important to look back at the roots as we progress.

First off let’s talk about thus amazing cover! Philip Sibbering is an extraordinarily gifted artist who does a great job at capturing masses of Space Marines united in a singular purpose of the devastation of humanity’s enemies. Next let’s talk about why there are Space Marines and Primarchs and what is the Emperor trying to accomplish.

The Emperor is the most powerful Psyker (human able to use supernatural powers) in the known galaxy. He has existed since the early days of humanity and has tried guiding the species through the years. However humanity grew too far too fast and imploded in upon itself after spreading through the galaxy. A time known as Old Night descended in which humanity lost its science, art, communications, and soul. We had spread through the galaxy but now we were lost and adrift.

The Emperor at this point came from behind the scenes to the forefront and conquered Earth, determined to reunite humanity and to guide it into a great golden age. To do this he created genetically enhanced soldiers known as Space Marines and created his “sons” the Primarchs to lead them. Then he launched humanity on a 200 year long crusade to reconquer the galaxy. Reuniting the splintered worlds of humanity under one banner, his banner, whether they wanted it or not. Thus the Imperium Of Man was founded.

To truly understand the Heresy you must understand how vital Horus is, and how much the Emperor trusted him, and how badly the Emperor misled him. To unite humanity the forces of the Imperium have to travel through the Warp. A dark place full of wonder, mystery, terror, gods, and Chaos. The Emperor thought he could conquer this too without letting his people know that chaotic gods existed and were striving to destroy the universe. But through a series of events detailed within the pages of this story Horus comes into contact with these beings. Beings his father told him didn’t exist, while knowing they did. Now Horus must decide who to trust. Chaotic false gods, or a deceitful father.

The stage is set, the players are present, and now the greatest soul to ever exist besides the Emperor must decide what path is right not only for himself, but for all of humanity too.

Fifth Of Nine: Bloodheir

For the fifth ofvthese nine posts we return to the world of The Godless Trilogy for book two: Bloodheir.

Second books are the make or break points to a trilogy. I think it is universally accepted that the second film of the original Star Wars Trilogy was the best, yes? The ability to pick up a story, tell a new tale, and bring it to such a conclusion that you must go on to the final book is a powerful ability and Brian Ruckley has that ability in large quantities! Bloodheir picks you up right where the the opening book Winterbirth left you and quickly throws you into… well into a despair really. This one is a dark and moving tale where you really are in fear for any character you care for, and truly you find yourself caring for some characters you didn’t expect to care for!

One aspect of this story that I really love is that the world itself is a part of the story too. That is something I love about Dune as well. In this case it isn’t a hot desert planet. It is a vast frozen wilderness. It is ancient and hate filled forests. It is breathtaking mountains. Above all it is snow. And in this snow a battle takes place. A battle that will stretch loyalties to their breaking points. An intense battle first against the elements and then against the enemy. I love it when the world itself is a huge part of the story.

I admit that I was concerned when I started this book that the story wouldn’t draw me in further. That it would feel unneeded. However I quickly grew to appreciate this story. Truth told I thought the disasters and catastrophes that happened in the first book would be the worst of the series. Then I read this book and learned how disastrous it could still become! This book was even better than the first book. But it wasn’t the best book of the trilogy! That book is yet to come! We’ll talk about it soon.

Four Of Nine: The Towers Of Sunset

The Wheel Of Time turns and as it turns facts become stories, stories become legends, legends become myths, myths become forgotten, and the forgotten comes again…. or something like that. Why on earth would I start a post about the second book of the Saga Of Recluce with a butchering of the opening of the WOT? It is in answer to a question posed in the First Of Nine post from a few days back (which you should check out for an explanation of this crazy numbering system) about what led me to Recluce.

You see long long ago when I was a teen reader I encountered this series around the same time I encountered Wheel Of Time by Robert Jordan and noticed that they both have the same cover artist and RJ complimented the Recluce Saga in a cover blurb. Now this story should go that I read WOT, trusted RJ and picked up The Magic Of Recluce because that is the first book of the Recluce Saga. However as ages have passed since I was a teen reader the story has moved into the legendary myth status so I need to write it down before I forget it. Here is the true myth:

My library didn’t have The Magic Of Recluce. It did have The Towers Of Sunset. It didn’t have The Eye Of The World but it had other WOT books. I tried to figure out which book came first in Recluce but there wasn’t an internet and I was horrible at figuring out library records so I figured that this book looked interesting and that author I want to read recommended this one so… yep. You guessed it. I read book two of the Saga Of Recluce before I read book one. The Towers Of Sunset were my gateway into this wonderful world.

The good news is The Towers Of Sunset don’t really spoil The Magic Of Recluce as there is almost a thousand years between the books, mainly I knew the answer behind who was in some paintings Lerris sees in TMOR. Overall the stories are very separate. That said this does again raise the Publication vs Chronological reading order question and I’ll again side with the author and say the Publication order is the way to go as the concepts being explored in this series grow as you read the series.

The Towers Of Sunset features two primary POV characters who find themselves linked in ways they might not fully understand as they both start to journey inwardly and outwardly in their lives. This is a book of great change and upheaval, and what remains at the end is different than what is present at the start of the story. This story is one with deep emotions and transformations. Really a great story for those who enjoy character development.

Recluce is a saga that pulls me back into its embrace time and time again. It is a series I find both challenging and comforting and one I can’t praise enough! I am really looking forward to my next post on Recluce as the third book of the Saga is one of my all time favorite books! Tomorrow’s post though returns us to a Godless World.

Third Of Nine: Horus Rising

Today’s post is sneaking in just before the end of the day. It was a busy one today, y’all! For more info on why I’m doing bine posts nine days in a row please check out post one of nine. For today’s post I’ve chosen the first book of a series that means a lot to me: Horus Rising by Dan Abnett which is the first book of The Horus Heresy

Trying to watch Horus rise….

Y’all know I’ve made the joke that the only way to finish a never ending series is to never stop reading it, and I’ve followed that advice and am currently on book thirty-nine of the Heresy. This series is an intense drama that spans the galaxy. It is GrimDark Military SciFi at its finest. Totally over the top action and emotions and a moving storyline! If you want a series to lose yourself in then this one is perfect for that.

At the heart of this series is a conflict between a father and his son, The Emperor Of Mankind created twenty superbeings know as the Primarchs. These Primarchs were created in the Emperor’s image with each carrying on a specific trait of his. Horus is the most favored and the greatest of all the Primarchs. Horus is who the Emperor entrusts the crusade to reunite all of humanity under the rule of the Imperium. Horus is who turns from his father and embraces a darker power.

If you are familiar with the lore of Warhammer40K then you know that ten thousand years prior to WH40K something terrible happened that almost destroyed humanity. That terrible thing is The Horus Heresy. This series is WH40K delving deep into its roots! Horus stands at the heart if it all, and now having read Horus Rising three times I think I understand his choices a bit better. Now I am not condoning galactic civil war, it’s just that you start to get a better feel for Horus and for why he makes the decisions he does. It is easy yo assume that just because someone is a superbeing they shouldn’t be prone to petty jealousies and they should be able to move past betrayals, but what if BECAUSE they ARE a superbeing they FEEL these raw emotions even more deeply than we could ever imagine? Worth considering!

This book introduces you to sone of the lies that Horus has been fed by the one he trusted the most, but it doesn’t spell out those lies clearly, and it doesn’t offer you the deeper truths. This series is one you have to dig in to in order to find out all the lies and truth, and once you do I think you find that the Horus’ rise makes more sense.

On the next post featuring book two of this series I’ll talk a bit more about the supporting cast! Hope you’re enjoying this journey through nine days of blogging!

Second Of Nine: Winterbirth

In keeping with my nine days of posts to get back in the swing of reading and writing (see previous post for details) I am featuring another of my favorite Fantasy series: The Godless World Trilogy and specifically featuring book one: Winterbirth

First off let me talk about the book itself: Orbit has perfected the large trade paperback book style! They create the best large fwompy books! Which is the sound they make when you fwomp them down. Go ahead and try it. Fwomp. Great bookish sound! The design of this trilogy is also eye catching as they went very minimalist and bright with the red title popping off the cover. Literally as it is raised. So I discovered this trilogy because the cover caught my eye and I am a cover buy reader! The concept is interesting too. Check out the summary from the back cover:

The general concept is that the gods created the world and the living beings on it. Then the beings went to war amongst themselves and so deeply offended the gods that the gods washed their hands of the world and left it. Some still believe they can bring the gods back if only everyone believes exactly how they do and they are willing to kill everyone who disagrees until they have their unity. Those that believe this way have been driven into the far north where existence is hard and have been ignored while the lands further south grow wealthy and prosperous. However there are changes stirring and deep magics awakening, and that which has been hidden is coming back into light.

This book launches one of the most beautiful Dark Fantasy stories I have ever read. I’ll detail that more when I post about the last book in another of these posts because of course I need something non spoilery to discuss in the posts for books two and three, but just know that the story that starts here grows beyond the roots of this book. It grows into the hearts of the readers.

That said have you ever had a book you bad to give up on and return back to at a later date? That was this book for me. I got 70 pages into it the first time and the people/place names all just seemed the same and I wasn’t feeling it. So I bailed, but decided later on to give it one more try and that next try I found that everything clicked. Truly amazing when that happens!

I’ll discuss the second and third books in upcoming posts and will do so in a way that hopefully doesn’t ruin any plot points for you. I’d rather always say too lite about plot than too much, but I think the next two posts on this trilogy will be safe. Thus ends the second of nine days of reviews!

#20For20Books

All of us have massive TBR piles, or shelves, or lists, right? Well a friend on Instagram @Jetwithjess has created a fun “challenge” for attacking your TBR this year called #20For20Books in honor of the year 2020! It’s easy to join in. All you need to do is pick out twenty books that you already own from your TBR and read those twenty books over the course of this year! If you want to include a reread or want to add a book you don’t own yet but have wanted to read for ages that’s fine too, it’s all meant to be fun!

The difficult part for me was selecting just twenty books! There are so many boos on my TBR that I want to read! But I have narrowed my list down to these twenty books:

1 Beyond Apollo Barry Malzberg

2 Best Served Cold Joe Abercrombie

3 The Curse Of The Mistwraith Janny Wurts

4 Inversions Iain M Banks

5 Ancillary Sword Anne Leckie

6 The Land You Never Leave Angus Watson

7 Relic Of Sorrows Lindsay Buroker

8 The Deadbringer E M Markoff

9 The Mirror’s Truth Michael Fletcher

10 The Crown Of Stones Magic Scars C L Schneider

11 The House Of Sacrifice Anna Smith Spark

12 The Heart Of What Was Lost Tad Williams

13 Shadow And Flame Gail Z Martin

14 Eye Of Terra Aaron Dembski-Bowden

15 Fleet Of Knives Gareth L Powell

16 The Scorched Earth Drew Karpyshyn

17 The Sword Of The Lictor Gene Wolfe

18 The Citadel Of The Autarch Gene Wolfe

19 Fallen Dragon Peter Hamilton

20 Iron Gold Pierce Brown

Do you see any favorites on the list or ones you’d like to read to? Are you going to join in? I’m curious what books will make your #20For20Books list! Hope you join in!

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!

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!

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.