Tag Archives: GuestReview

A Word From The Father: Andre Norton’s The Sioux Spaceman 

Today’s Circle Of Bookish Friends challenge on Bookstagram is about the father figures in our lives and I am fortunate to have an incredible dad who invested his life and love into his family and will always be my inspiration and standard. I grew up in a reading family and my parents to this day are discovering new to them authors! My dad just read his first Andre Norton book and gave me the following review to share on The Sioux Spaceman. Enjoy this word from my father:


First off, “The Sioux Spaceman” by Andre Norton was written in 1960 when I was 12. Skip forward to a great many years and this paperback edition caught my attention on the $0.50 sale rack at The Book Nook, a local treasure house of primarily used books that I like to frequent. Knowing nothing about the author, I looked her up (yes, her) on the Internet only to find out that she was a science fiction and fantasy (along with a couple of other genres), but that she the first woman inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, among other awards (twice nominated for Hugo awards). She wrote for over 70 years having over 300 titles published. I also found it interesting that like another woman author S. E. Hinton, she was advised to publish under a male’s name to increase her marketability to young boys, the main consumer of fantasy.

Since “The Sioux Spaceman” was primarily written for the young adult market in 1960 it would not have caught my eye back then since I was more interested in comics at 12 years of age. Today, 57 years later it caught my eye on that 50-cent sale rack. After all, what’s 50-cents really worth now-days? I found that it was well written, with excellent main character development and well worth my investment of time for an enjoyable read of older works of science fiction. The protagonist, Kade Whitehawk, a Trader for the Space Service, finds himself being reassigned to a Team on the planet Klor in disgrace. Once on Klor, he is slowly being drawn into a battle to help the indigenous population free themselves from the alien Styors who have enslaved mercilessly enslaved them. Again, Whitehawk goes against Space Service policy and sets a plan in motion to help the Ikkinni get free from the hated Styor’s star empire. The plot is, well, just a bit juvenile (after all it was written with that reader in mind), but is sufficient to keep the reader engaged. Since Whitehawk is of Sioux warrior descent he succeeds in getting horses delivered to the planet and helps to get the natives to trust in using them to begin the their liberation. After the battle begins, he is abandoned on Klor in the not so gentle grasp of those he was trying to help. The Space Service sent a rescue ship to his summons and what is revealed to him after the ship lands astounds him. With the Space Service there is the Policy (think Prime Directive of Star Trek) and the Plan. He is one of the few whom the Space Service consider a black sheep who serve in a rebellious state they call the warrior breed. He is then given the opportunity to remain and continue assisting in the Ikkinni’s freedom struggles or go. After all, he is told, “a push here, a push there topples a star empire.”

A Word From The Father: The Invisible Man

A special guest post from my Father! In honor of #VintageSciFiMonth he chose to read and review The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. My parents were my primary inspiration to read so it is with great joy that I share this review from my Dad with y’all:
It’s always good to find one’s roots, whether that is in life or in a chosen genre of literature. The roots of Sci-Fi can be traced to H. G. Wells and one of his classics “The Invisible Man.” Sci-Fi or fantasy literature works when a reader can “suspend belief” or have a “plausible impossible” story line. 


In “The Invisible Man” Wells provides such a story line through a scientist who discovers the ability to render objects invisible. After a few experiments the protagonist turns himself invisible. The crux of the story then becomes his struggles and mad obsession of establishing a “reign of terror” and being able to use his exceptional situation to establish himself as the leader (and benefactor) of his reign. He soon finds that he is ill equipped to survive his invisibility without assistance. Once his secret is out, he struggles to continue and ultimately falls victim to his own avarice and unstable mental condition. As the story unfolds, the reader can see and understand how Wells has crafted a theme that is now a classic in Science Fiction writing. “The Invisible Man” is well written and should be read by all lovers of Science Fiction.

Guest Review Of The Name Of The Wind 

While we were away on vacation some friends contributed Guest Reviews for our website! We couldn’t be more thankful especially as having our friends join in on the fun of book reviews was one of the reasons we started this site! Today Danny reviews The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Very honored to share his thoughts on this excellent book!

  
The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Guest Review by Danny

First and foremost I have to say this book is Tolkien in its grandeur. I say this bold statement because that’s exactly what the book is: bold. It also has a hint of George R.R. Martin in its violence, setting and mood. Again, another BIG NAME analogy. And you know what? That’s exactly where Patrick Rothfuss belongs: Among the BIG NAMES. 

The Kingkiller Chronicles takes place in the time of knights, bards, traveling performers and musicians, kings, and…..wizards. Heard it, read it and hell they’ve even made movies so we can see it but…..Patrick spares us the clichés that so many have ripped off from Tolkien and spares us the political chaos of Song of Fire and Ice (not that its bad but, who wants to copy what being done well already). Yes indeed folks a breath of fresh air.

The story is centered around Kvothe. A thief, a musician, a rogue, a hero, an Arcanist….Patrick’s version of a wizard. Kvothe is not some muscled barbarian with a mighty blade and mighty steed. Kvothe is a musician with a quick tongue and a great mind. Kvothe is given the opportunity to “set the record straight”, to give the true accounting of his deeds. As Kvothe documents his life you realize two things. Kvothe while still young, has lived more than some old men. The other, is that he regrets it.

Now if the books sound glum forgive me. Its just I don’t want to give anything away and the books are extremely detailed and deep. I could probably write an entire essay on one of the books alone. This book has so many layers. What really drew me to the books was the songs. The music, The way Patrick Rothfuss incorporated songs, poetry, plays, mythology, folklore and science all into one coherent vision is just astounding. To any who are musically inclined these books especially will speak to you.

These books are hard to put down. They read easy and they’ll ruin your social life…..ok maybe not that far but it can if you let it. Do yourself and your book collection a favor and pick up Patrick Rothfuss’ books. If you like Lord of the Rings, A Song of Fire and Ice and Star Wars novels this is a series you want to have.

An Irish Murder Mystery With A Twist! 

RedStarReviews is happy to bring you a special guest review by FrenchFryWife

The Likeness by Tana French 

Tana French made a splash with her debut novel In the Woods, which circles two mysteries and ends with raising even more questions. It is the first in French’s multi book set, which is (awesomely) titled The Dublin Murder Squad Series. The Likeness picks up shortly after ITW and follows Cassie Maddox, a previous undercover detective who now works domestic violence. She is called to a crime scene that normally wouldn’t involve her unit because of a highly unusual find: the murder victim looks exactly like Cassie and has an ID card with her old undercover alias.

 

Realizing an amazing opportunity to (literally) walk in the victim’s shoes, Cassie’s former boss Frank Mackey convinces her to impersonate “Lexie Madison” in an attempt to solver her murder. The police claim that Lexie made a miraculous recovery at the hospital and doesn’t remember much from the evening of the attack. Cassie returns to the house shared by Lexie and her four roommates, a motley crew of grad students who are the main suspects. Cassie falls easily in step with her new lifestyle and begins digging through Lexie’s world to find information leading to her tragic death. It’s not long before the line between Cassie and “Lexie” blurs, putting the murder case and Cassie’s life in danger.

 

First off, you must know that it’s not required to read In the Woods before starting this book because all the major plot points are discussed. However, if you enjoy rich character development and back story, I highly recommend it. I really enjoyed The Likeness because it weaves through shady pasts and mind games. At first I found myself wondering which of the roommates were lying, but later found myself much more interested in why. The odd group of friends can seem at once fiercely loyal and inseparable. Then, like a light switch, they are guarded and vague with each other.

 

For a good portion of the story, there is much more psychological play than real action. It may seem slow for some readers but I liked falling down the rabbit hole with Cassie. The one true problem I had was suspending belief for the basic premise: the idea that a total stranger, no matter how talented, could replace another person so convincingly that even the people who saw her every day would not know.  Frank holds a boot camp of sorts and in just a few days, Cassie masters Lexie’s cadence, accent, laugh, and dry humor. To be fair, she falters a few times but Cassie recovers with quick thinking. To be more fair, my favorite movie is about a theme park with dinosaurs so I will not begin casting stones.

 

The Likeness is that special type of book where I was hungry to know the truth but didn’t want the story to end. I look forward to continuing French’s series and meeting more quirky, authentically Irish, and sometimes homicidal characters. If you are looking for a murder mystery with layers of psychological intrigue, I highly recommend The Likeness. 

  

Guest Review Of You Are A Writer

Today we have the joy of sharing a guest review from our friend Jesse (who goes by @dzhecci on Twitter). Jesse chose to review: You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins. Without further ado here are Jesse’s thoughts:

You Are A Writer (review)

I am a writer. If I learned nothing else from Jeff Goins’s book, I learned that. I learned other things, too, though, which is the point. But the most important thing I learned is that I am a writer.

You Are A Writer is, essentially, a book about how to get published. More than that, though, it is a book about how to improve your writing, further your career, and prepare yourself as a marketable commodity in the publishing world. From tips on writing and editing to website design and construction, there is something for everyone. If you already have a substantial blog with many followers or have only ever written grocery lists, if you want to get published this book is for you.

Goins pulls from his own experience as a writer, both as an amateur and a professional, to explain how to get from point A to B in a way that seems both practical and possible. It will not tell you exactly whom to contact at exactly which magazine to get published, but it will tell you how to find those people for yourself, and how to appropriately contact them.

In addition to being a valuable resource for freelance writers, the book is enjoyable to read. It’s well-written, well-paced, and at least my copy had an interesting formatting system that I found intriguing.

I would have liked a little more detail at certain points, regarding some of the suggestions, but this is my only real critique. It was a book I could not put down. But it was also a book that I found so inspiring that I paradoxically wanted to put it down so that I could return to my own writing.

It is a book that I will likely read and re-read throughout my life. I suggest you check it out.

GUEST REVIEW: Does Not Love

Today’s Guest Review is by our friend Indreni. She selected to read Does Not Love by James Tadd Adcox. Without further ado here is her Guest Review:

Does Not Love

Chicago author James Tadd Adcox’s debut novel, Does Not Love–a noir thriller, social commentary, and in-depth meditation on marital love all rolled into one page-turner–was released this past October and published by indie press Curbside Splendor. What’s more fun than taking a gamble on a debut author’s small press novel that you stumble across at your favorite local indie bookstore?

Part of what caught my eye with this book right away was its setting in an alternate version of Indianapolis. Midsize Midwestern cities are relatively untapped goldmines for dystopian or science fictional novels, filled with post-industrial landscape, abandoned (or not really) buildings, homes, or entire neighborhoods, and colorful characters who struggle to redefine and re-engineer the new urban order they find themselves in.

Adcox’s novel has all of these—the main character, Viola, works in a grand old public library in a tough Indie neighborhood that’s seen better days. Her husband, Robert, is a corporate downtown lawyer representing the local pharmaceutical giant Obadiah Birch. The supporting cast includes a shady-but-romantic FBI agent sent to Viola’s library to enforce “the secret law,” which gives the nation’s authorities complete power over its citizens, and a ragtag, mistreated tribe of drug company “guinea pigs” that have taken up residence in abandoned storage facilities and are planning to overthrow the pharmaceutical company Robert represents.

But all this is merely the surrounding storm to the fact that Does Not Love is a surprisingly intimate and detailed case study of a marriage. The social malaise, upheaval, and paranoia that Adcox so accurately nails is a mirror reflecting that malaise in the characters’personal lives. Viola and Robert find themselves at a crossroads after dealing with a series of miscarriages, each grieving in their own ways–Robert wanting to turn more towards Viola and Viola turning away from Robert. Viola is a refreshing female character—she’s analytical and distant, whereas Robert is more sensitive, lovelorn, and perhaps the more sympathetic one.

The forces of social and personal unrest and upheaval converge when Viola becomes involved with the FBI agent, who is all too willing to fulfill her S&M fantasies that cause Robert alienation and discomfort, and when Robert’s friend, an Obadiah Birch representative, tells him “there’s a drug for that”—a drug that can make Viola fall in love with Robert again. He explains that love is a purely chemical process that can easily go wrong, resulting in such physical maladies as, “Hypoactive Desire Disorder…Erotic paranoia. Erotomania, also known as Clerambault’s syndrome…Sexual Aversion Disorder….” From here on, we can no longer trust Robert and Viola’s actions and feelings—where the organic stops and the drug effects begin—but Robert’s ultimate desire to uncover the truth leads him directlyinto the underworld of pharmaceutical “guinea piggers,” their secret society, and their struggle for revenge against Obadiah Birch’s unethical research.

Does Not Love is a fast-paced, offbeat, and truly perceptive read that questions at what point societydeems our human emotions and actions pathological, as well as how arbitrary that point might be. It is also a biting satire of our nation’s nebulous post-9/11 laws, and the potential outcomes when the extent of corporate and government involvement in our lives isnot so much blatantly dictatorial, but unclear.

GUEST REVIEW: The Wolf Of Wall Street

(RedStarReviews Note: From time to time we will feature a review from my family or a friend. The reviews will be their thoughts on books/movies/music that caught their attention. This is the first guest review we’ve featured and it is given to us by our friend G X Knight who is an author himself! Hope you enjoy!)

The Wolf of Wall Street

I have to be honest. This is not my type of movie. I knew it before I watched it, but I watched it anyway. It wasn’t going to have enough aliens, explosions, or space ships to keep me entertained. Why did I watch it you ask? The answer is simple: Because of a girl.
That being said I went into it with an open mind. All I knew about the movie was that it starred Leo, people thought this was finally going to get him his unicorn-flavored Oscar, and the premise probably had something to do with money.
I did not know that this movie had two things against it.
1: It was based on a true story. There are few, and I mean few, movies that I’ve seen based on real life that I’ve enjoyed. Why? Because it’s real life. If I want real life I will walk outside my door, step in the cruel reality of bills, sickness, and the public’s alarmingly shrinking sense factor once known as “common,” sigh to myself and think, “Is this really it?” That’s why I’m a sci-fi/fantasy author.
2: The entire movie pretty much revolves around rampant drug use. I did appreciate learning what a “Quaalude” is, fell in love with the way Leo said it with his Hollywood-doused New York accent, and I even feel inspired to possibly name a future brain-blitzed novel character something synonymous. While this isn’t some point to rail on the glorification of drug use, it’s just meant to state that most of the time I find drug related plot points in movies to be largely uninteresting. Yes, I am one the one percent who didn’t get excited about Breaking Bad, Weeds, or Nurse Jackie.
I hate spoilers. All you need to know is that there are more F-bombs than actual bombs Hitler dropped on London during the height of The Blitz, and it’s got enough TNA sprinkled throughout to make this a movie you don’t want to sit down with mom and dad and watch together over the holidays. I’m okay if we put that in the “Pro” column.
The actors were all fantastic in their roles, and as expected from a Scorsese flick. It’s got a great turnout of talent looking to play in his box of black sand. The dynamic between Hill and DiCaprio was fun, and as always McConaughey killed his appearance with such conviction that it makes me want to thump my chest and hum a dirge during my next fancy lunch… at Applebee’s. (That’s as fancy as my wallet allows.)
The movie is way too long. Running time is one minute shy of three hours. THREE HOURS. Unless you’re characters are navigating their way to Mount Doom, there is never a need to make a movie that long. EVER. It’s one of those “I don’t care anymore” stories you don’t feel the need to pause during the many bathroom breaks your “I can survive this” 12 pack of beer will send you on. The ending was fitting to that of a real life story: Anti-climactic, a little sad, no real payoff beyond the value of a pen, and no huge victory won through touch-and-go trials by fire. Sure, it had a small taste of overcoming, but even then there was such a posh price paid, the victory was diluted. You sit back and feel that maybe cutting corners, cheating, and living for just yourself is truly the only way to make it in this world.
So yeah, it’s real life. I know what that’s like. Give me something to hope for. Unfortunately, I found nothing to hope for in that movie except the credits.
Summary: Leo probably should have gotten his Oscar, he took a candle to the ass for God’s sake, the disgustingly rich, drug abusing, cheating asshole this movie is about has made even more money than you and I will ever have, and somewhere someone will try the drug tactics they saw laid out in this film to get ahead and subsequently ruin their life in the process. But I guess that’s real life. That being said, The Wolf of Wall Street was way too long, overly pointless, and the ending sucked.
– Rent don’t Buy.
– Rating: Buzzkill.