My Review of “Empire City” by Matt Gallagher

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Amazon link: Empire City
Author: Matt Gallagher (@MattGallagher0)
Website: mattgallagherwriter.com

Thumbnail sketch: Brilliant sci-fi/alt history/political thriller that is thought-provoking and unsettling. The Watchmen for the post-9/11 era. Read. This. Book.

5 Stars


My take on Empire City

About five chapters into Matt Gallagher’s Empire City, I set aside my Kindle and took a breath, and in that moment concluded this brilliant sci-fi / alternate history / political thriller was the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) era’s Watchmen. Maybe it’s the Seven Days In May, too.

At that point I broke my own rule of not recommending a book before finishing it, and tweeted out a suggestion for everyone and anyone to pick it up. Empire City clicked for me on several levels: as a fast-paced and twisty thriller with interesting and well-drawn characters, some who are super-powered; as a cautionary tale about the importance of history; and as an introspective examination of the military-civilian divide through the lens of veterans of the ‘Forever Wars.’

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My Review of “Machine” by Elizabeth Bear

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Amazon link: Machine (A White Space Novel)
Author: Elizabeth Bear (@matociquala)
Website: throwanotherbearinthecanoe.substack.com

Thumbnail sketch: Intelligently plotted and executed with flair, Machine is a taut sci-fi mystery thriller that eschews popcorn movie theatrics for immersive environments and memorable characters.

4 Stars


My Take On Machine

Most of us have worked with someone like Dr. Brookllyn Jens, the protagonist of Machine, an upcoming novel by Elizabeth Bear. The doctor is great at her job and can hold her own among her workmates, whether trading sarcastic comments or discussing any number of subjects. But then you find out she’s married, or divorced, or has a kid (maybe all three), and suddenly realize just how little you truly know about someone you’ve worked with for months or years.

This review is based on an advance copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley for that purpose. The book is scheduled to be available on October 6, 2020.

Dr. Jens has lived quite a life up to the point where we meet her, standing in an airlock door, waiting to jump from her space ship to an ancient vessel that may or may not have passengers in need of her services as a medical rescue specialist. We’ll learn about that life and her pain, real and figurative, when that jump to the old-Earth generation ship lands her in the middle of a mystery that results in some unsettling questions. Maintaining emotional distance may have been her idea, but Dr. Jens will realize a lot of important information is missed when keeping one’s head down. Continue reading

My Review of “Firewalkers” by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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Amazon link: Firewalkers
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky (@aptshadow)
Website: shadowsoftheapt.com

Thumbnail sketch: Fast-paced sci-fi thriller set on an Earth devastated by climate change and economic inequality. Well-developed characters, economic prose, and unexpected twists made it a page-turner.

5 Stars


My Take On Firewalkers

When you’re offered double-double danger pay to do a job with no other information, you know it’s not something you particularly want to do. But when you pause to consider this fact and the boss instantly ups the offer to double-triple … well. That’s a lot of money — and a whole lot of something to avoid — but if you live in a scorching, apocalyptic hellscape and your family depends on you for survival, literally, need trumps want. Every time.

Such is the thinking of Mao, one of the main characters in Firewalkers, an outstanding dystopian sci-fi thriller by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I was hooked from the very first page and tore through the book, reading in every spare moment and late into the night. This review is based on an advance copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley for that purpose. The book will be available on May 12, 2020. Continue reading

My Review of “The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley

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Amazon link: The Rook
Author: Daniel O’Malley (@DenimAlley)
Website: rookfiles.com

Thumbnail sketch: Sam and Dean from “Supernatural” meet Jason Bourne with a dash of Agatha Christie and a pinch of John le Carre and Douglas Adams. Fast paced and a whole lot of fun.

4 Stars


My Take On The Rook

An ideal take along on a trip or to the beach, or to while away a rainy weekend at home, The Rook by Daniel O’Malley is fast-paced and fun, blending together paranormal, spy, and detective genres.

Imagine suddenly coming to your senses, not knowing who you are, where you are or how you got to where you are (which, by the way, is in the middle of a ring of dead bodies). You find two envelopes in your coat pocket, one addressed ‘to you’ and the other with the number 2 on it. Both were written by you, for you … well, the you you are now … to explain who you are.

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My Review of “Black Wave” by Kim Ghattas

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Amazon link: Black Wave
Author: Kim Ghattas (@KimGhattas)
Website: kimghattas.com

Thumbnail sketch: Highly readable and packed with information. History as I prefer to learn it: using the stories of people around the region to explore key events. The ideal starting point for anyone looking to learn about the region, and how today’s status came to be.

4 Stars


My Take On Black Wave

“What happened to us?” are the first words in Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East , and author Kim Ghattas does an exceptional job of answering the question. I learned so much from this highly readable book, and gained insight and perspective on the things I already knew.

The author effectively uses the stories of different people around the region to examine the origins and short- and long-term impacts of key events including the Iranian Revolution, the Lebanese Civil War, and the Arab Spring, to name just a few. Black Wave is an outstanding primer for those wanting to know more about the Middle East, and especially how today’s status came to be.

Note: I don’t spend as much time on reviews of traditionally published books as I do those of Indie authors.

 

My Review of “Knight Chosen: The Shackled Verities (Book One)” by Tammy Salyer

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Amazon link: Knight Chosen: The Shackled Verities (Book One)
Author: Tammy Salyer (@TammySalyer)
Website: tammysalyer.com

Thumbnail sketch: A fantasy epic that feels decidedly intimate, featuring multi-faceted characters, a delightfully wicked villain, and great swashbuckling action. An outstanding opener to what promises to be a great series.

5 Stars


My Take On Knight Chosen: The Shackled Verities (Book One)

The latest book from one of my favorite authors, Tammy Salyer, is Knight Chosen: The Shackled Verities (Book One). Fantasy isn’t exactly my wheelhouse, genre-wise, but honestly I’d read a grocery list if Ms. Salyer wrote it. She creates interesting, multi-faceted characters and worlds for them to exist in, devises situations that test their temperament, abilities, brains and/or stamina, and then describes it all in direct and flowing prose.

This review is based on an advance copy provided by the author for that purpose. The paperback is available now; the ebook will be available on April 1, 2020.

Knight Chosen is at once an epic tale that feels decidedly intimate, and a modern morality play with plenty of swash-buckling action. For the discerning and interested reader there are currents of subtext on religious faith, loyalty and love, and those looking for a saga of good vs. evil will find a delightfully wicked being corrupting all and sundry. Continue reading

My Review of “The Light Brigade” by Kameron Hurley

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Amazon link: The Light Brigade
Author: Kameron Hurley (@KameronHurley)
Website: kameronhurley.com

Thumbnail sketch: An engrossing and twisty mil/sci-fi tale about a corporate soldier who becomes unstuck in time. War, powerful corporations, and betrayal are timely and timeless topics.

4 Stars


My Take On The Light Brigade

There is much to like about The Light Brigade, by Kameron Hurley, a military sci-fi tale set in a future where the few corporations controlling everything field their own armies, deploying them into battle using a teleportation-like process that turns them into beams of light. As the story opens, our protagonist Dietz enlists in one of the corporate corps to become a hero in the war against Mars, colonized initially by a group of separatists who broke away from Earth and the corporations.

War and devastation. Power-mad corporations. Greed and betrayal. Timely, and timeless, topics.

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