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Many of the books I review were FREE in exchange for an honest review. I do not get paid to review them. Spotlights are promotional and should be regarded as ADs. They are promoting books but I do NOT get any money or goods for posting Spotlights. 
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

1635: A Parcel of Rogues by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis

If recollection serves me this story is connected to the premise of a chunk of current time real-estate transported back to 1632.   The last book of this I read was  Grantville Gazette back in 2011.  

I enjoyed this series in the past.  This book never captured me.  I don't know if it was the lack of action or the tedious pontificating of some of the characters.  I have read quite a bit of Eric Flint and this is the first one I struggled to read.  I taught English history years ago and the populating it with time transplanted characters who are familiar with Cromwell and other notables was entertaining but not sufficiently to entrance me the way so many other Flint books have done.

Web site:  http://www.ericflint.net/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

This is hopefully the first book in an excellent new series.   Hunter Joyeaux is dragooned from her cold nest in the mountain monastery by the rulers of Apex.  Joy is a hunter of creatures and she uses magic and her hounds for that purpose.   Her hounds are not dogs but outsiders from some other place.  We are never sure where or what that other place may be.   This book is her initial adventures in Apex.

Joy is an orphan and her only family is her Uncle, the Prefect in Apex.  Political and magical intrigue are rampant in Apex.  Joy is more used to the rural outback where if folks don't stick together they end up dying alone.  

Lackey's character development shines in this book.   She creates a realistic and hyper-capable teen who is laudable and nearly believable.   Mercedes Lackey has that rare ability to elicit a strong emotional response to her characters.   I can only hope this is just the initial book in a new series.

I highly recommend the book. 

web site:  http://www.mercedeslackey.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Barsk by Lawrence M. Schoen

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT give up on this book.  I was not captivated and almost put it down but I persevered and it was well worth the read.   Anthropomorphism runs in a heavy vein through my favorite books and one would have expected me to fall immediately in love with this book, which I eventually did.   This book is fraught with symbolism and consequently very thought provoking.  

The author paints the galaxy as being populated by the animal kind of Earth.   The story starts on Barsk, the home of the Fants.   There is skullduggery afoot and the Compact, protecting the planet Barsk, is being systematically violated by no greater villain than their own interplanetary government.  

Prejudice is, perhaps, the most deeply flaunted ill illustrated by the book.   The author shows both the destructive nature of individual and group prejudice.   Resistance against change regardless of it's negative or positive potential is also illustrated.

Schoen provides social commentary in a fictional setting that nevertheless forces one to contemplate issues.   If self identity is the linchpin of person, does amnesia lead to personality disintegration?    Ponder that!

I recommend this book.

Web site: http://www.lawrencemschoen.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel

 My initial fear as I started this book was it was a romantic fantasy wrapped in a SciFi pseudonym.   I guess I was unprepared for the exceptional story that was revealed.  Conflicting life styles characterize the story line.   Planet bound corruption is juxtaposed with laissez-faire government and gypsy policing.   The book is people focused with the trappings of a future that is both hopeful and predictable.

The predictable part is that corporate greed and corruption continues after space travel becomes common place.   The interaction between disparate lifestyles with Elena of the Corp and retired PSI captain, Treiko Zajec, is the core of this excellent story.  (I'm finding that trying to type while listening to the outstanding Lizzy Hale on YouTube is providing far more typos that normal, but my typing speed is dramatically increased.)

A inherited mystery of a starships disappearance along with the interpersonal conflict between Elena and Captain Foster is leavened with the sadistic violence of the so-called authorities.  The interpersonal stuff is the root of the story but the trappings of wormholes, starships and corruption provide the hot sauce that jolts this story into the realm of great success.

I really liked this book.

Web site: https://elizabethbonesteel.wordpress.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Hell's Foundations Quiver by David Weber

This  is another book in the excellent Safehold series.  Safehold is a planet intentionally  hidden at a low tech level from an alien intelligence that has wiped out mankind except for Safehold.    Safehold’s founders founded a new religion to deter industrialization in hopes of not attracting the attention of mankind’s nemesis.   Much of the review here is the same for the whole series.

The aforementioned theocracy has become dominated by the gang of four.   The gang of four, are four corrupt churchmen who will do anything, no matter how despicable, to remain in power.   Mass murder, terrorism, torture and even instigating civil war and denying all progress, it still manages to trumpet it’s godliness.  

As all of Weber’s works he has deplorable villains and laudable heroes.   Weber works many of current society’s ills into his work.   Fanaticism, jihad, corruption, facile politicians, evil empires; he manages to include or refer to through proxy.

There is an afterword of 101 pages listing characters who have populated the series and a glossary of definitions of terms.   If that doesn't convince you that Weber is detail oriented, I don't know what will.   Weber is one of those rare authors who can infiltrate your emotions with his characters and feel you full of empathy for their actions.   This book shows the Charisian Empire again but focuses more on a next generation of characters.  Merlin and Nimue plus their many alter egos play a large part in the action in this volume.   Their need for blood shed causes them emotional angst.   Religious warfare is shown in it's brutal reality.  Something that has sadly been illustrated by current events and being propagated by questionable Presidential candidates.

I did have to agree with some reviews that complain that Weber is wordy but each brush stroke can increase the depth and beauty of a work although in this book and the last (Like a Mighty Army) I did feel he got a bit effusive.  

I recommend the book.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Blood Of Innocents by Mitchell Hogan (Sorcery Ascendant Sequence Book 2)

Sometimes I am redundant, "I don't often rave about a new author, today I make an exception.  Hogan is good!  Ok, not good, GREAT!"  This is not commentary on his first book, A Crucible of Souls but commentary on his second.   The story continues as an orphan, Caldan, struggles to understand and grow his abilities amidst a conflict that he does not understand. 

Caldan grows in both ability and cynicism in this volume.   Hogan does not hesitate to dispose of characters that you are led to believe will continue in the story.  There are multiple plots but the story really revolves around Caldan. 

Hogan creates a good plot with characters that are believable because he incorporates normal human flaws in each.  Caldan discovers things about himself and his rulers that force him to reevaluate his world.

"His characters charm and bemuse you, some will utterly disgust you.   This book moves at a very fast pace and keeps your interest high and your eyes wide open.  I can't wait for the sequel. "

I highly recommend it.  

Web site:  http://mitchellhogan.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Thinning the Herd by Adrian Phoenix

I'm not sure if Urban Fantasy as a genre is normally funny or if it is just coincidental with the ones I have read.  This book has it's tongue in it's cheek so deeply I imagine it reaches the ears.   Hal Rupert, an animal control agent, is the main protagonist and his main weapon is his catch pole.  His sidekicks are shape changers and his love interest is a purple hair, black lipstick goth chick.

Phoenix definitely has a strange sense of humor.  She sacrifices hippies and urban chic on the alter of strangeness.   Rupert has a major hero complex and no lack of confidence while being apparently oblivious to the distain he seems to encourage from the common citizens he claims to be defending.

The book has an amusing plot with casual violence.  It was entertaining.

I  recommend.  

Site:  http://adrianphoenix.com/

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.