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!
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.
As y’all already surely know if you’ve been following me for any amount of time: January is always Vintage SciFi Month and this January’s reading was incredible! Let’s take a look at the three books I read this year.
Tactics Of Mistake by Gordon R Dickson is the fourth book of The Childe Cycle which I’m working my way through bit by bit each January. While it isn’t the best book in the series it is really good! It is a strong addition to an excellent series. If you’ve read Dorsai and wanted to know how the Dorsai became the most badass soldiers in the known universe then this is the book for you! If you’ve never wondered that but you still enjoy Military SciFi combined with Vintage Philosophy then this is still the book for you!
Up next was Philip K Dick’s classic of SciFi: Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep and it was an excellent story! I watched Blade Runner as a kid but I had never made time for the story it was based upon. I am glad I finally did! It was a very subtle story with a slow burn that once lit wouldn’t go out. Very enjoyable and easy to lose yourself in the story.
This January close to fifty people joined me for the #ReadDune Group Read, several of them reading Frank Herbert’s Dune for the first time! The good news is that almost everyone loved it! I mean how could you not love this book? This was either my fourth or fifth time to read it and I enjoyed it yet again! Getting to see everyone’s reaction to it was so much fun. Dune will always be special to me and I’m happy to report that it gets better with each reread!
I hope to see y’all join in on Vintage SciFi Month next January!
The only way to complete a never ending book series is to never stop reading it! Y’all know I love The Horus Heresy, and since I’m now twenty-six books deep into this forty plus book series it seemed a good time to pause and reflect on it!
I first started reading this series when it was first published but after reading the first six books I was distracted and I had set it down. Well, discouraged would be more the phrase. I had not expected the overall story to be put on hold while we saw everything else going on in the universe! And that’s kind of what happens. But I still thought it was a great story and had potential so four years ago I started the series over and this time I LOVED it! I knew more of what to expect. So when I heard it was over twenty books I wasn’t surprised. So grand a heresy, so great a tragedy deserved several books to lay out the whole story. Then it passed thirty books. Then it passed forty books….. but then I realized something: How do you finish reading a never ending series? By never stopping reading it!
I have just completed reading the twenty-sixth book in the series. Nick Kyme struck gold with Vulkan Lives. This book has almost perfect pacing! And within its pages you reach one of the primary questions/frustrations so many have had with this series. The question of WHY. Why do we have this heresy? Why didn’t the principle parties sit down and sort out their issues since they are described as gods? Well in Vulkan Lives we are reminded that as much as the Emperor elevated all the good, noble, true, and incredible traits in the Primarchs, he also elevated all the bad, evil, selfish, and dark traits in the Primarchs.
But I don’t mean to get lost in the weeds for this post. I mean to reflect. From the first book Horus Rising through the twenty-sixth book Vulkan Lives the authors have crafted an immense and awesome STORY. It’s a rabbit hole to be sure but one that’s worth jumping down and exploring. You don’t have to be a Warhammer40K fan to appreciate this story. You’ll truly learn enough by starting with the first book and reading on. I do think you’d have a difficult time if you aren’t a fan of SciFi as it is GrimDark Military SciFi, but at its heart this is a tragic tale of children rising against their parent and their siblings and the stakes in this family struggle are nothing less than the galaxy itself.
Years ago when I first joined Twitter I encountered an author who was witty and wise, and also had a history of serving his country. After reading Myke Cole’s tweets for ages I knew I had to give his books a try! I just wasn’t sure where exactly to start so I asked him. He suggested I start with Gemini Cell which is a prequel to his Shadow Ops Series. When the author gives you a suggestion on where to enter their work, it’s normally a good idea to follow their advice!
The story is about Jim Schweitzer who is a Navy Seal. Jim has dedicated his life to taking down the many threats to his nation and loved ones. Unfortunately that means he sees things he shouldn’t and as a result he’s gunned down in front of his wife and child.
But death isn’t the end for Jim! He’s brought back by a combination of science and magic, infused with superhuman powers, and an inner demon he must battle with for control of his new life. Surrounded by enemies and deceitful allies he strives to discover the fate of his family, and to see if he can remain human.
Gemini Cell is a hell of a tale that starts off with action, continues with action, and ends with action! Fast paced, brutal, thoughtful, engaging, and well thought out. This is an incredible story that worth reading! Now that I’ve finished it I plan on continuing on in the series, and I hope you give it a chance too!
When you review books you often encounter very pushy people who only talk to you because they want their book reviewed. It happens! I can even understand it from their perspective. It helps to get your name out there. But there are right ways and rude ways to go about getting reviews. Let me tell you about how much of a class act Edward Lazellari is and say if you want to gain someone’s interest: Edward is an author to model your approach after!
Here’s an author who is published by Tor (and if you don’t know who Tor is then suffice to say it is one of my most favorite and trusted publishing companies) who talked with me as a person with shared interests and just politely asked if I’d be interested in reading his book. I normally don’t accept submissions as I’m trying to work through my unread books on my shelves, and I cautioned him that I was very backed up in my reading stack, but he was very polite and sent me an autographed copy of his book AWAKENINGS. A class act from start to finish!
Awakenings joined my currently reading stack and I also purchased a copy for my Kindle to be able to read while on trips. This book is an Urban Fantasy and it’s the first book of The Guardians Of Aandor trilogy. It’s also incredible!
Awakenings is a take no prisoners kick ass fast paced all out battle of a book! Right from the start you’re deep in the action and striving to learn what is happening around the characters just as they are! You see it spans across multiple worlds and the primary characters have unfortunately lost their true identies along with their memories and they’ve lost their purpose. That past quickly charges up at them and threatens to destroy them before they have the chance to learn who they are….
As I said this is a kick ass story! I took it around town to read and was quickly drawn into the world the author created. The characters are strong, the action first rate, the world building interesting, the plot compelling, the drama engaging, and the story is great!
This is a book I not only recommend, it is one I have purchased the sequel to and look forward to reading more!