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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.