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!
Creative titles are fun aren’t they? I mean I at least think it’s creative. Ok on with the reviewing before I think I’m more clever than I already think I am ha!
Years ago I accepted an ARC of A Crown For Cold Silver by Alex Marshall and was really excited! A GrimDark Fantasy of a conflicting character from an earlier generation setting out to make the world bleed for their vengeance. Sounds promising! Unfortunately it failed to live up to its promise.
I know I know I rarely books that I don’t enjoy. I rarely read books I don’t enjoy or DNF them and then move on. Life is too short and my TBR too massive to spend time on books I’m not enjoying. However I felt I owed this one a read through as I did accept the ARC. It was taking me ages to make any headway though and so I ended up buying a physical copy to accompany my Ebook ARC. Maybe that will help me connect with this story but again I just wasn’t feeling it. I kept wondering why I wasn’t enjoying this tale, where was the disconnect? Suddenly it hit me: The characters didn’t have anything to truly distinguish themselves from each other.
Oh sure they had different names and physical attributes and backgrounds, but all of the characters were the same dull overly snarky attempting to be witty tough character. You could have replaced any of the primary characters with any of the secondary characters and not noticed a difference in the story. That’s frustrating.
I felt I owed it to the publisher to not give up, but a third of the way into the book I almost caved. Then I remembered I had an Audible credit and needed a new audiobook! Did this one have a good narrator? I decided to find out and I am so glad I did!
Angele Masters is an amazing narrator and she breathed life into the various characters within the pages of this book! Her reading of it and the voices she made for each of the characters turned my experience of this book completely around from one I was about to DNF to now having me interested in listening to the next two volumes of the trilogy.
If you enjoy GrimDark this story is worth a try. You may find more life within the characters than did I. If you enjoy GrimDark and audiobooks then this is a must listen because you’ll enjoy the experience!
Y’all, when Apex Publications asked if reviewers would be interested in reviewing books from their back catalog to help spread the word that in September their entire back catalog would be on sale I jumped at the opportunity to join in! Now I know September is flying past so I’m only now letting you know that their back catalog of books is on sale for 25% off for this month if you use the discount code of SEPTEMBER and I apologize for that lateness BUT when you look at the cost and value of the book I’m reviewing for them I think that even if you read this post at a later date you’ll still want to obtain this book and give it a read! Ok let’s dive into this book now:
First off: it is tricky to get a good photo of an e-book cover! Ha! But this cover is perfect for this book. WAR STORIES is a short story collection of new Military SciFi by a variety of authors and it is hard hitting and thoughtful right from the start! If you’re curious what Military SciFi is then I’ve got a lovely post for you on that topic HERE but the short version would be SciFi that deals with military experience as a central factor rather than a story that just has a conflict/war in it. Military SciFi takes a deep look at humanity and holds a mirror up in front of us to confront us with ourselves and what we as a species do to one another and for what purpose. I love Military SciFi and in reading this short story collection I’ve been hit hard with the stories I’ve read. Well thought out. Very thought provoking. Fiction that feels real and challenges me. This is the type of book that takes me a while to work through because I find myself stopping to reflect after every story I read. Y’all, War Stories is an excellent intro to Military SciFi for those new on the scene and it’s an excellent one to cause lifelong Military SciFi readers to gain new perspective. It’s available HERE on APEX Publication’s website.
While you are there please look around at their entire catalog and even if you can’t take advantage of their September discount I think you’ll find books that will capture your interest!
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!
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.
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.
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!