Tag Archives: RedStarReviews

First Of Nine: The Magic Of Recluce

Hello all! I am challenging myself to return to regular sharing/posting on my social media sites so I have taken a series of nine photos to share with y’all over the next nine days! I picked out books 1-3 of three separate series that I love and will write about them here, on bookstagram, on twitter, and possibly finish it all off with a podcast!

For the first of the nine posts I am featuring my favorite “comfort read” series of all time: L. E. Modesitt Jr’s Recluce Saga! What exactly do I mean by “comfort read”? WELL I AM GLAD YOU (possibly) ASKED! For me a “comfort read” is a book/series/author that when you pick up that book you feel like you are coming home. That is exactly what reading the Recluce Saga feels like to me after all these years of reading it. More on that later in this blog, let’s discuss this book!

The Magic Of Recluce is a wonderful coming of age tale set in a magical world that exists within a balance between Chaos and Order. Lerris (the star of this tale) discovers he has the potential to be a focal point for either side of the balance and is sent away from his homeland in order to discover exactly who and what he is and can become. Kind of harsh that his own country kicks him out, but they do give him a little schooling before he goes where he meets others who are like him in that their country doesn’t feel they belong, but thinks they might belong after traveling abroad. Here’s the thing: the rest of the world doesn’t really like their home country so the odds of survival aren’t going yo be in their favor. I have to admit I’ve always been a touch jealous of the schooling that Lerris was offered, but definitely not jealous of the exile.

While on his personal journey of discovery Lerris also becomes quite the carpenter! One of the most magical things for me about the Recluce Saga is that you get to learn about different crafts in each book. Modesitt educates while entertaining. In other books you get to learn about being a cooper or a scribe or any number of amazing crafts!

The Recluce Saga is a multigenerational High Fantasy tale which is not written in chronological order. Modesitt takes you on a journey into the concept of Recluce as you read along in publication order so definitely read in publication order. Normally you will find two consecutive books dedicated to one primary character, but sometimes there are standalones.

Ok on Bookstagram I had promised I’d tell the tale of how I discovered this series, and I will but not fully in this post! I’ll share that in the next Recluce post which will be soon in this series if nine posts BUT as a teaser for those of you who love High Fantasy can you name the artist who painted this cover and maybe guess the other High Fantasy series I saw this artist’s art on that drew my eye to Recluce? That is the teaser! More next time.

Book 36 Of ?

I’ve just completed reading the 36 book of The Horus Heresy and I really enjoyed it a lot!

The Path Of Heaven by Chris Wraight features the White Scars who are an interesting Legion to follow. Based off of a Mongal Horde sort of group their Legion cherishes speed as one of their primary traits, and they feel like outsiders from the very Imperium they’ve fought to expand and protect. This outsider mindset plays heavily into their decisions on which factor to support in the Galactic Civil War.

The book started a little slow, ironically as speed is so cherished by this Legion, but I think the slowness was primarily a result of over focusing on the enemies in this book, and setting up the deception that warfare brings with it. That said once this book started rolling it really drew me right into it and didn’t let go until the very end! One of the better books in the series.

So let’s talk about this series a bit! This is book number 36 of…. well right now 56 I think m, but as the series is still ongoing who really knows? And that is honestly something that I’m really enjoying about this series, the fact that it just keeps on going and growing. I’ll admit I was a bit frustrated with how sideways everything went early on after a quick start out of the gate with the first few books, but now I know I’d rather the series be this sprawling and wide ranging. The Heresy itself is supposedly only a ten year period of time but the series has jumped around to ten or forty or two hundred years before the “present” time. Each jump deepens the story and increases the build up! The best analogy I can think of is if you ever watched Dragonball Z and you remember how they’d spend like three episodes building up energy for one powerful punch, that’s similar to what the authors are doing here! If they’re going to tell a story of galactic civil war they’re going to truly make it as epic as the galaxy itself!

As a plus for any considering if they want to dip their toes into The Horus Heresy I can truly say I’m still loving this series 36 books into it and I’m eager for however many more books it will last!

PS: it appears WordPress just changed their App and now instead of writing one long blog post it’s split it into several boxes which is causing me some consternation and throwing me off my blogging game just a little right now, but hopefully it posts ok and I get accustomed to it soon! Hope y’all are all well!

#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!

A Voice That Gave A Voice

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!

Modern Military SciFi In War Stories!

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!

READ THIS BOOK!

If there is one book I could convince you to read right now it’s this book I’m about to tell you about! As y’all know one of my goals with RedStarReviews is to draw attention to books that are published either independently or via a small publisher with my Star In The Sky reviews. The concept is that there are so many stars shining brightly in the sky and I want to use my platform to point out some that have grabbed my eye and today I have a very bright shining star of a story to share with you!

The Deadbringer by E M Markoff is the first book of The Ellderet Series and it is AMAZING!!! The author is a member of the Bookstagram Community and I somehow missed that she was an author! One day I saw her post about her characters and thought that they sounded cool so I decided to give the first chapter of the book a try. I hoped I’d like it. I didn’t just like it, Reader, I LOVED IT. This book is so damn awesome! It is a Dark Fantasy with elements of Horror within it. The world created by the author is interesting, the characters are so alive they could step off the pages and into your home. The interpersonal conflicts are some of the best I’ve ever encountered in a book in my reading life. This is a book that grabbed ahold of me and refused to let go! Seriously if there is one book this year that I recommend that you give a chance to please let it be this book! E M Markoff has created such an incredible story that I know you’ll love. After you’ve read it please let me know what you think!

If you’d like to hear me talk more about this story check out the latest episode of my RedStarReviews Podcast

Also! Another reviewer of books Nick T Borrelli has constructed a list of his Top Ten Favorite Fantasy Series and it is an excellent list! It’s inspired me to construct my own top ten so right now I’m stuck with 16 possibles and trying to narrow that down so I can share it with you. Hope to have my list for you soon, but please check out Nick’s list while waiting, and please read The Deadbringer!

What I’m Listening To!

I thought it’d be fun to share what podcasts I’m listening to and enjoying! Not all are book related but each one has grabbed my attention and has an impact on my life so I wanted to let you know about them and about what they mean to me. Here’s a few podcasts that are off the beaten path!

First there’s mine! 😂 but for real if you didn’t know I have a podcast I do want to let you know about it! RedStarReviews is a labor of love that has provided a creative outlet that really brings me joy. Keep on reading for more amazing podcasts including the one that helped inspire me to launch mine!

If you follow me on any social media then you’ve seen me talk about The No Fly List because it is AMAZING! In it you have a comedian and a journalist who interview incredible people on what it is like to be a POC in America. It’s funny and insightful, and I recommend it so highly!

Read This F___ing Book is a book discussion podcast that not only features two great hosts: they also feature SciFi and Fantasy books!!!!! They feature books I’ve read or want to read and that makes for a fun experience.

The Robcast is the podcast that finally gave me that last little push I needed to launch my own podcast! Rob Bell has long been an inspiration to me, and he constantly encourages his listeners to do the thing they’ve been thinking about for ages. Just step out and try. So I did and I’m thankful I did! He brings wisdom, insight, motivation, and peace. This podcast is SO GOOD!

Y’all know I consider Battlestar Galactica (Reboot) to be the greatest tv show EVER!!! I’ve been wanting to rewatch it and so imagine my joy when Battlestar Galacticast launched! Here’s a chance to rewatch the series and enjoy some fine discussion about it!

I just recently discovered The Frontline Club and I’ve greatly enjoyed this news show’s formatting and content. They take journalists and politicians who were at the heart of conflict and have them discuss those situations in front of a very argumentative audience. Recommended for those who like modern history.

Fareed Zakaria is the host of the best news show in America and while I love watching his tv show on Sunday mornings I enjoy getting to hear his thoughts and interviews while commuting to and from work!

Stories With My Muslim Mom is a great podcast in which a son interviews his mother about her life experiences and opens our eyes to so many things! https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/stories-with-my-muslim-mom/id1434519106?mt=2

And for fellow history lovers Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History just can’t be beat! Do yourself a favor and dive right into his episodes on WWI https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dan-carlins-hardcore-history/id173001861?mt=2

So while you’re waiting for the latest episode of RedStarReviews you now have a list of some excellent podcasts to enjoy!

An Arrogant Tale

Wolfling by Gordon R Dickson is the first book I completed for this year’s Vintage SciFi Month! It’s a really enjoyable page turner of a book, which places humanity and Earth high up on a pedestal. Mild spoilers to follow the photo below.

The cover itself is excellent! And I have enjoyed reading Gordon R Dickson’s books each January for this special month and this book was a good continuation of that enjoyment! That said it’s really arrogant and human-centric. I doubt seriously if we came in contact with a superior alien race that we’d be able to go toe to toe with them much less outplay them at their own games. Also… some of the terminology and situations were troubling from both a modern perspective and from the age in which GRD wrote this tale too. The plot and primary character is interesting though so overall I enjoyed this tale.

The question what put forth of how these Vintage SciFi books age. Do they stay applicable or get passed by. It’s a tricky question that probably applies to each book differently. I think for the most part GRD’s books don’t stay applicable as they rely so heavily on the author’s outdated philosophies, but the stories remain interesting and there are thought provoking points which are worth mining out of the stories. I don’t want to sound unfair to GRD, I really do think he’s a great author, I just think the more I read of his the more I see his biases shining through.

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!