My Review of “Allies and Enemies: Rogues” by Amy J. Murphy

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: Allies and Enemies: Rogues
Author: Amy J. Murphy (@selatyron)
Website: amyjmurphy.com

Thumbnail sketch: Second entry in this sci-fi space opera series takes everything I liked about the first book and gave me more: character development, exciting action, interesting settings, and plot twists — all delivered cliché-free and with tantalizing potential plotlines for subsequent stories.

4 Stars


My Take On Allies and Enemies: Rogues

Amy J. Murphy’s Allies and Enemies: Rogues is an outstanding follow-up to the first book of the series (see my review), which I thought was a fun sci-fi space opera with interesting characters, a plot that steered clear of clichés and a setting with great potential for future stories. My expectations were more than met in the second entry, as the author expands not only the reader’s knowledge of this cast of characters, but also their universe.

Continue reading

Advertisements

My Review of “On a Sunbeam” by Tillie Walden

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: On a Sunbeam
Author:  Tillie Walden (@TillieWalden)
Website: tilliewalden.com

Thumbnail sketch:

Beautifully illustrated and written tale about love, growing up and the importance of supportive families, either found or blood relation. Surreal, whimsical, funny but never trite.

5 Stars

 

My Take On On a Sunbeam

After four-plus decades away from comics, I returned a few years ago to find a medium of storytelling significantly different from my pre-teen memories of cartoon characters, costumed super heroes and heroic soldiers. These books still exist, of course, but writers and artists have pushed and pulled comics into new and exciting directions, telling complex, layered stories in every genre about any type of character you can imagine – man, woman, child, animal, mythic creature, historic figures,  undead, gods, super-powered, magical, good, bad, and morally ambiguous … to name a few.

Because my local comic shop can only carry so many titles, I’ve taken to picking up the monthly industry Previews catalog so I can get a better idea of what’s coming out. Often, I’ll see something interesting, a new series or graphic novel, and write myself a reminder note to check into it further after it gets published.

Continue reading

My Review of “Kite Fall” by Kep Lagrange

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: Kite Fall (Pervideo Series Book 2)
Author:  Kep Lagrange (@KepLagrange)
Website: keplagrange.com

Thumbnail sketch:

Beautifully written, smart and atmospheric sci-fi novella that continues the story begun in Yellow Tag. Like a roller coaster, it gently glides out onto the tracks before suddenly twisting and turning, ratcheting up the tension as cascading crises place the well-drawn characters in peril. 5 Stars

 

My Take On Kite Fall (Pervideo Series Book 2)

Those who are patient will be rewarded.

That’s a saying my mother always liked, and in the case of Kite Fall by Kep Lagrange, it is so, so true. The first novella of this series, Yellow Tag (my review), really struck a chord with me, so much so that I named it the Best I Read in 2014 (see the rest of the list) and eagerly awaited the follow-up.

Good things come to those who wait (Another one of my mom’s favorites).

Kite Fall continues the story of the deep space survey ship Pervideo and her crew, and to prepare myself properly I re-read Yellow Tag first (and reaffirmed my opinion about how good it is). Starting shortly before the events of the first novella, which featured systems technician Conroy and to a lesser extent survey leader Wolfgang, the second entry explains what happens to the rest of the crew, astrogeologist Ash and robotics technician Bots.

Continue reading

My Review of “Uroboros Saga (Book 8)” by Arthur Walker

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: Uroboros Saga (Book 8)
Author: Arthur Walker (@ArthurHWalker)
Series page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y4BCLPH

Thumbnail sketch: Another outstanding entry in a really fascinating and engrossing futuristic sci-fi series. Starts out like an old-time Western, as a new sheriff — who is, by the way, a giant bear — takes up his post in a small and isolated town, but by the end there are plenty of new threads exposed in the global conspiracy at the heart of the series.
4 Stars

 

My Take On Uroboros Saga (Book 8)

After the big events taking place on Mars in Book 7 (see my review) and a slam-bang prologue, Uroboros Saga Book 8 begins to tell a decidedly more measured story. The arrival of Eamon, the giant metasapient bear police officer, to serve as the sheriff of the small, isolated Montana town plays out like an updated version of an old-time Western. Although the townsfolk are wary of ‘non-humans’ and a violent white supremacist and anti-metasapient militia group is operating in the area, the town is located at the foot of mountain housing an AI sentience core, a vital asset in the post-Shutdown world that was first featured in Uroboros Saga Book 4.

Continue reading

My Review of “Dark Money” by Jane Mayer

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind The Rise of the Radical Right
Author: Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer)
Website: New Yorker archive

Thumbnail sketch: A good start to understanding how the current American political landscape became the way it is. This book frequently angered me as renowned journalist Jane Mayer describes how a clique of the ultra-rich subverted our politics to selfishly serve their own interests. 4 Stars

 

My Take On Dark Money

If you’re wondering ‘how did we get here?’ about the American political scene in 2018, reading Dark Money is an excellent way to begin understanding just why things are, the way they are. Like so many other Americans, I never paid much attention to politics before the 2016 election. I considered myself an Independent, voting for candidates from both of the major political parties for local, state and national office. There were also times I didn’t vote in races after deciding I couldn’t support any of the candidates.

My views were shaped in some part by Watergate — as a kid, I watched the congressional hearings live on my living room TV — in that I felt a vague and persistent distrust of politicians, who all seemed to be morally flawed to some degree. This view was reinforced during my military service, where I served with and under people whose ambition and ability to ‘work the system’ allowed them to rise to positions of authority despite character issues.

Continue reading

My Review of “Waterloo” by Bernard Cornwell

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles
Author: Bernard Cornwell (@BernardCornwell)
Website: http://www.bernardcornwell.net/

Thumbnail sketch: A concise, very readable overview of one of history’s most famous battles. A bit repetitive, but does a good job identifying main personalities, placing the campaign in context, and describing key events.
4 Stars

 

 

My Take On Waterloo

I love history, always have (I even won a medal in high school for it). Mostly, though, I’ve kept my view at the 10,000 foot level — studying the bigger picture in which events like individual battles are just a part. I know where Waterloo fit into the history of Europe, but not many of the battle’s details, so I decided to dig a bit deeper.

Waterloo by Bernard Cornwell hit the sweet spot for me: a very readable overview that covers the major players and events without getting bogged down in minutia. If you want a general understanding of the battle, this is a great option. If, after reading this you want to take a deeper dive, there are undoubtedly other books focusing on the uniforms, tactics, weapons, etc., of the era and this particular clash.

Continue reading

My Review of “The Body Library” by Jeff Noon

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: The Body Library
Author: Jeff Noon (@jeffnoon); Website

Thumbnail sketch: A unique and dream-like Urban Noir Fantasy tale that can be enjoyed as a simple page-turner or by searching for deeper themes. There’s murder, illicit drugs, and a weird and terrifying disease — all connected to the titular book.

4 Stars

 

 

My Take On The Body Library

Once again, Mr. Noon has created a story that can be simply read and enjoyed as a fast-paced and dream-like Urban Noir Fantasy, or it can be examined and pondered, searched for underlying themes. To be sure, I’m unaware of any meaning or purpose the author has intended with The Body Library; perhaps there is none beyond telling a unique and interesting tale. It also wouldn’t be the first time I’ve misinterpreted a writer’s prose, inventing themes or symbolism as a result of my own personal filters. I don’t see that as a negative, really, but part of what makes reading enjoyable (authors, however, may disagree).

Following the strange events of A Man of Shadows (my review), private investigator John Nyquist has relocated to the aptly-named city of Storyville. The creation and telling of stories, monitored by the city’s powerful Narrative Council, is the main occupation, and preoccupation, of Storyville:

Every road, lane, avenue and cul-de-sac was crowded with listeners and storytellers alike, with fables, with myths and legends, with murder mysteries and tales of horror both human and supernatural, with two-line parables and epic sagas which took a day or more to relate, with yarns and anecdotes and accounts of genuine true fictions, with lies galore, glorified. On corners, in kiosks, outside bars, in vast concert halls and tiny wooden sheds that held two people only, one teller, one listener: here the people shared their stories. Joy filled the streets. The stories merged and mingled where narrators vied for the same audience, events and characters migrating from one tale to another, as they often will.

— Noon, Jeff. The Body Library (Nyquist Mysteries) (Kindle Locations 62-67). Watkins Media. Kindle Edition.

Continue reading