Tag Archives: WhatImReading

A Snippet Of A Space Opera!

Y’all know I love a good Space Opera! The galaxy wide themes, everything living at stake, huge empires colliding, all of it makes for very dramatic stories! However in the midst of those mighty Space Operas it is easy to miss out on all the little side stories that would combine together into the greater tale. That’s what reading The Long Lost War by Jeff Walker brought to my mind!

This brief SciFi story is cinematic in nature! It felt like something that would easily translate to the big screen, and dealt with deep questions while not slowing down the ever moving plot line!

It is a short SciFi story that features clones and warring forces, and one clone who seeks to question everything going on around them. One who needs to know the why of things. Is there a purpose to this war? How long has it been fought? What are the goals? Can it be stopped? Why isn’t anyone else asking these questions?

This story delivers. It pushes you to think and leaves you wondering. Really fun, quick to read, I recommend giving this SciFi a read!

Storytellers On Tour: The Wrack

Let me just start out by saying you should read The Wrack by John Bierce! This book is such a unique Fantasy! I’m really happy I had the opportunity to join in on this blog tour featuring this book and thankful to Storytellers On Tour for allowing me to participate! Please click that link to view the tour schedule so that you can see all the great reviews by other reader/reviewers who also took part. Ok ok I know you’re interested in what this book is all about so without further ado I present to you the book blurb:

(Ok so a little more ado in the form of this excellent cover art)

Book Information

The Wrack by John Bierce

Published: April 23, 2020

Genre: Epidemiological Fantasy

Age Group: Adult

Pages: 232

Book Blurb

Plague has come to the continent of Teringia.

As the Wrack makes its slow, relentless march southwards, it will humble kings and healers, seers and merchants, priests and warriors. Behind, it leaves only screams and suffering, and before it, spreads only fear.

Lothain, the birthplace of the Wrack, desperately tries to hold itself together as the plague burns across it and its neighbors circle like vultures. The Moonsworn healers would fight the Wrack, but must navigate distrust and violence from the peoples of Teringia. Proud Galicanta readies itself for war, as the Sunsworn Empire watches and waits for the Wrack to bring its rival low.

And the Wrack advances, utterly unconcerned with the plans of men.

I had never heard of Epidemi… that word that I’d have to copy and paste to spell… Fantasy before, and so this was my very first dive into this subgenre! It was FASCINATING! Most Fantasy books focus on characters or a quest, so I started reading this book with that as my loose expectation. I was wrong. The structure of this book is uniquely situated so that each chapter reads like a short story, and those short stories follows the plague! There are characters who reappear as the story develops, but the main driving force of this book is The Wrack itself, and it is neat to see how it develops as the story unfolds! That said there is one chapter in particular that just gripped my heart featuring a beautiful soul of a person who finds themself isolated in the desert. You’ll know it when you read it, and I’ll bet you tear up too just like I did.

For me the ending of a story really matters. I can forgive all kinds of flaws in books if you give me an ending that causes me to stop and say “That is the right ending for this story” and this book delivers on that. With the structure of this story it can be tricky to end a story like this but the author pulls it off masterfully.

Speaking of the author here are some links if you would like to know more about John Bierce:

Website: https://johnbierce.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/john_bierce

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/johnbierce

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18510329.John_Bierce

Now one thing I really enjoy about this book blog tour is that not only am I able to read this excellent book and encourage y’all to read it, I am also able to tell you that you can win a free physical copy of the book! There are five copies being given away free! Details on that are found here.

Seriously I hope you give this book a read! You can find it on GoodReads and on Amazon and I think you will really enjoy it. One thing I neglected to mention earlier is that if you enjoy WorldBuilding (and I do) then I think you’ll really appreciate this book! It is a bright star in the sky worth noticing.

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.

#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!

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.

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!