Category Archives: Book Reviews

My Review of “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Author: Becky Chambers
Website: otherscribbles.com

Thumbnail sketch: A well-written, imaginative and emotionally satisfying space opera that follows the multi-species crew of a wormhole-boring ship as they journey to a big job in far reaches of the galaxy. Various members of the crew take turns in the narrative spotlight as surprises and dangers occur along the way. 4 Stars


My Take On The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

I realized what other book I was reminded of two-thirds of the way into The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It was a question that had been tickling the hindquarters of my brain almost from the first page; because even though it felt faintly familiar, it’s not the type of story which I usually read. To be sure, it’s character-driven sci-fi space opera — and extremely well-written — but … it was not quite the same as my ‘usual’ read.

Anyway, the light bulb eventually flashed and I realized the book this reminded me of is the great classic, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Both involve long and arduous journeys, with surprises and dangers along the way, and a lead character whose otherwise ordinary life is irrevocably changed by making the passage. The Long Way also features a fleshed-out ensemble cast who take turns in the narrative spotlight, but in both books what happens when the party reaches journey’s end is less important than how they got there. Continue reading

Advertisements

My Review of “Allies and Enemies: Empire (Book 5)” by Amy J. Murphy

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: Allies and Enemies: Empire (Book 5)
Author: Amy J. Murphy (@selatyron)
Website: amyjmurphy.com

Thumbnail sketch: After setting the stage in the previous entry, Allies and Enemies: Empire begins the pay-off as events set in motion veer off on unexpected paths. Deftly shifting between multiple plot lines and characters, the author delivers another entertaining entry in this character-based space opera. 4 Stars


My Take On Allies and Enemies: Empire (Book 5)

This character-based space opera series continues to entertain, as the stage-setting events of the previous book (my review) have given way to a whole lot of action in Allies and Enemies: Empire. But Book 5 isn’t the end of this particular tale of political intrigue, revenge, betrayal, and marauding sentient spaceships, set in a fascinating distant galaxy. No, A&E: Empire is merely Act 1 of … well, who knows? There will be at least one more to wrap up this storyline, and perhaps set the stage for a new arc if we’re lucky.

This review is based on a copy of the book provided by the author for that purpose.

Throughout the series, Ms. Murphy has steadily opened the aperture through which the reader views her creation. New characters, organizations and settings have been added, examined and then folded into the overall narrative of life and conflict in the backwater region of space known as The Reaches. As much as a enjoy spending time with rogue ex-military officers Sela Tyron, her husband Jon and his sister Erelah, the expanded cast allows the author to stretch the narrative canvas.

Continue reading

My Review of “The Peripheral” by William Gibson

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: The Peripheral
Author: William Gibson (@GreatDismal)
Website: williamgibsonbooks.com

Thumbnail sketch: A fast-paced and engaging puzzle box of a tale, with an innovative take on time travel. Fully realized characters and thought-provoking ideas about a future that is too close for comfort.

4 Stars


My Take On The Peripheral

Having recently finished the comic book adaptation of William Gibson’s screenplay for Alien 3 (which would have made a much, much better film, although sadly the bar to clear isn’t very high), I decided to check out some of his fiction. Of course I’ve heard of him before, but … well, there’s just a whole lot more I’d like to read than there are hours in the day.

It took me a bit of reading before I felt comfortable with Gibson’s The Peripheral — comfortable in the sense that I had an idea of what was going on; more on that below — but when the gears meshed I found myself racing through the pages to find out what happened next. Gibson has crafted an intriguing take on time travel, one that upturns many of the tropes associated with the genre. His prose is lean but engaging; the characters stubbornly complex; and his brilliantly imagined futures, one nearer to us and one farther away, are sobering and cautionary.

Continue reading

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

Bottom Line Up Top

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

Thumbnail sketch: The war’s long over, but that doesn’t mean a life of leisure for Sela Tyron, her husband Jon Veradin and his sister Erelah, as threats new and old arise in this great sci-fi series. There’s a bit more political intrigue and less action in this installment, but it sure feels like the stage is being expertly set for the next book to be a real corker.
4 Stars


My Take On Allies and Enemies: Legacy

At the very end of Allies and Enemies: Exiles (my review), the previous book in this exciting sci-fi series, there is some welcome news about Sela Tyron, one of the main characters. A twist I did not see coming had negatively affected this former military officer, but there at the end was a sliver of good news.

Six years later as the fourth book of the series, Allies and Enemies: Legacy opens, Sela appears to be back to her old self, kicking butt and taking names as a bounty hunter (key word being ‘appears’). The war Sela, her husband Jon and his sister Erelah helped start between the three guilds uneasily sharing power in the Reaches, a backwater corner of the galaxy, is long over. But winning a war doesn’t guarantee peace, especially when the ambitious and greedy take up positions of power.

Continue reading

My Review of “Salvation Day” by Kali Wallace

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: Salvation Day (pre-order; to be published July 9, 2019)
Author: Kali Wallace
Website: kaliwallace.com

Thumbnail sketch: A fast-paced, twisty and wholly captivating sci-fi adventure, perfect for reading on the beach, on a plane, or anywhere, really. Just don’t forget to take breaks to eat and consider packing another book because you’re likely to finish it quickly.

4 Stars


My Take On Salvation Day

It is wholly appropriate that Salvation Day is slated for a July release as it is akin to a Summer Blockbuster popcorn movie: fast-paced with plenty of action, plot twists and surprise reveals. But unlike so many of those movies, author Kali Wallace’s lead characters are fleshed-out and subject to complex feelings and motivations. It was a captivating and wholly enjoyable read.

This review is based on an advance copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley for that purpose. The book will be available on July 9, 2019.

For ten years, the research and exploration ship House of Wisdom had silently moved through space on a fixed course, orbiting the Earth. The great ship was unapproachable, protected by an automated security screen that was most likely activated by one of the last living people onboard before that person joined everyone else in death. In all the ship carried nearly five hundred corpses as it circled the Earth; just one boy survived what was described in frantic messages as the sudden outbreak of a deadly virus.

Continue reading

My Review of “The City in the Middle of the Night” by Charlie Jane Anders

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: The City in the Middle of the Night
Author: Charlie Jane Anders (@charliejane)
Website: cityinthemiddleofthenight.com

Thumbnail sketch: Original and fascinating setting. Complex and flawed characters. Cultural, political and interpersonal conflicts. Mistakes, redemption and uncertainty. When people say sci-fi is the perfect medium to study big issues, this is the kind of story they point to.
5 Stars


My Take On The City in the Middle of the Night

Has this ever happened to you? You’re deep into a great read, and the story is charging ahead, but you can’t help but notice there aren’t many pages left. You’re immersed in the plot, but around the edges of your brain there’s a slight tickling sensation: How is the author going to bring this dynamic thing to a satisfying ending? Wait ­— is this the first of a series? Did I miss that before starting? Am I looking at a … (ugh) cliffhanger?

I’m happy to report that while that was me in the waning pages of The City in the Middle of the Night, author Charlie Jane Anders stuck the landing with a conclusion that I thought was as true to her story and characters as it was appreciated by me the reader. There was no neat ribbon tying off everything, so a sequel could be written, but more importantly — to me at least — readers can take all they’ve experienced with the deeply realized characters and fascinating setting, and come up with their own version of what happens next.

When the story continues in your imagination long after you’ve turned the last page, well … that’s a damn good story. Continue reading

My Review of “Aftershocks” by Marko Kloos

Bottom Line Up Top

Amazon link: Aftershocks (pre-order; to be published July 1, 2019)
Author: Marko Kloos (@markokloos)
Website: www.markokloos.com

Thumbnail sketch: The entertaining stage-setter to what promises to be an outstanding military/sci-fi space opera series. Exciting action set-pieces are highlights as multiple characters advance a story premise brimming with intrigue.
4 Stars


My Take On Aftershocks (The Palladium Wars #1)

I’ve heard so many good things about the work of author Marko Kloos but haven’t yet had the chance to dive into his popular and critically-praised Frontlines series. So when given the opportunity to read the opener to his new military/sci-fi series, I jumped without hesitation. And now, having finished Aftershocks (The Palladium Wars #1) in just two days — firing up my Kindle over breakfast, between innings of softball games, in lines at stores and late into the night — I understand what all the fuss was about. He’s good, real good.

This review is based on an advance copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley for that purpose. The book will be available on July 1, 2019.

Five years after losing a devastating system-wide war that it started, the planet of Gretia is under occupation, stripped of it’s vaunted military and paying heavy reparations to the winning Alliance comprised of the system’s other five planets. The peoples of the Alliance planets carry a lot of anger, fear and resentment against the Gretians, but for the most part their lives have returned to normalcy; the constant reminders that they were the losers, however, has begun to eat at some on Gretia. Protest demonstrations on the planet have grown in frequency, size and intensity.

Continue reading