Bennett R. Coles – Ghosts of War

Spectres born of combat

The Terran military has defeated the invading fleet, but the war is far from over. As a covert agent embeds himself on Earth, advanced Centauri technology enables him to pry into the military‘s most secure files, accessing secrets that could lead to millions of deaths.

Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane, Lieutenant Katja Emmes and Sublieutenant Jack Mallory again find themselves at the forefront of the planet’s defences. Yet terrorism isn’t the only threat they face. Given what they’ve experienced, their greatest challenge may be defeating the memories of war.

Spoilers! So proceed with caution.  Read More …

Nicholas Eames – Bloody Rose

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listen to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all rolls into town , led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants — and adventure she gets as the crew embarks on a quest that will end in one of two ways:  glory or death.

Nicholas Eames’ Bloody Rose is a textbook example of a coming of age fantasy novel. Except where in my youth the tone was much more positive, this keeps in line with current fantasy trends and is grimmer and does not use the standard tropes. The story follows Tam Hashford, a girl who wants to join a band of adventurers and live the life of the famous. Her parents were both adventurers, so you might say it is in her blood. She is very much a fan when joining the company of Bloody Rose and is starstruck as hell. We follow their adventures from her point of view and see her turning from a teenager into a competent adventuring adult.  Read More …

Bennett R. Coles – Virtues of War

The Terran military launches a mission to apprehend a spy on the planet known as Cerberus. The results ripple through the Centauri colonies and place the system on the brink of war. Aboard the fast-attack craft Rapier, three key personnel –Lt. Katja Emmes, Sublt. Jack Mallory and Lt. Commander Thomas Kane – will be tested as never before. How they respond will decide the fate of the earth itself.

My cats fished Virtues of War by Bennett R. Coles out of our to-read-bookcase. When I saw the cover I thought “I have to read this”. Turns out, I already had, less than three years ago. So either I have a poor memory or didn’t leave a lasting impression. I could not remember much of the story during reading, except for some flashes of recognition. When I was done, most of it came back to me and also why I had forgotten most of it.  Read More …

Paedar O’Guilin – The Call

Nessa and her friends attend Boyle College to train for the most dangerous time of their lives – THE CALL.

Without warning, each one of them will wake in a terrifying land, alone and hunted, with a one-in-ten chance of returning alive.

No one believes Nessa can make it, but she’s determined to prove them all wrong. And she will need every ounce of spirit and courage in order to survive…

The back cover of Paedar O’Guilin’s The Call also has a quote mentioning The Hunger Games and that comparison is apt. I was equally, but differently, bugged out by the dour material that both books deal with. I may not be the intended audience, at 38, but putting teens in a post-apocalyptic world where they have to fight for their lives makes for heavy reading, any way you slice it.  Read More …

Pierce Brown – Morning Star

If this is the end, I will race towards it.

Darrow is the Reaper of Mars. Born to toil, carved to fight, destined to lead. But he is a broken man. Exposed as a Red in a world ruled by Golds, he has been captured and tormented until he is something less than human. And yet he is humanity’s last chance.

In facing a godlike, ruthless enemy, he must call on every last ounce of strength to prove that loyalty, friendship and love are more powerful than any coldhearted machine of war.

He has been first Red, the Gold. Now he must transcend them all. He must become the hero the people believe he is.

I have had Pierce Brown’s Morning Star for over a year now. I really liked this series. It’s up there with The Expanse and the Vorkosigan Saga (I know it is older, just found it last year) as some of the best sci-fi I have read in recent years. In part this is because it is so much more than just its genre: military sci-fi. It also features social commentary, political intrigue and good world building all around. Top it off with an intricate story, great action scenes and you have more than the sum of its parts.  Read More …

Marianne de Pierres – the Parrish Plessis trilogy : a Reread

Nylon Angel

The Tert—a toxic strip of humanity outside the city limits—is no longer big enough for bodyguard Parrish Plessis and her sadistic boss, Jamon Mondo. So with Mondo’s dingoboys on her tail, Parrish cuts a deal with a rival gang lord to steal some files that could send Mondo to death row. At the same time, she’s sheltering a suspect in the murder of news-grrl Razz Retribution. In a networld run by the media, the truth isn’t relevant. It’s bad for ratings, which is why Parrish finds herself tagged for the murder—and up to her tricked-out leather tank top in trouble….  Read More …

Bag of Holding, type V: Books

I have been reading a lot lately at work. This has prompted me to write more reviews for this blog and also gave me the need to protect my books from the hazards of backpack travel. So my wife, the lovely Fantastical Librarian is knitting a lot these days. As I posed the problem of bent cover-corners and folded pages I proposed she make me a book protector. This is the result of our deliberations and the true hero behind my increased reading:

This sack of stretchable wool will fit anything from a hardback (snugly) to a small pocket book (or three). It has significantly decreased damage travel in my backpack does to books and it even protected one from a lunch-box accident. But wait, there is more! It is machine washable! 

I am sure my wife will share the pattern or tips with any and all who can make such a thing and I thank her for the wonderful Bag of Holding, type V: Books.

Wiebe van der Salm

[Editor’s note: If anyone is interested in the pattern, just let me know! – Mieneke]

Jonathan French – The Grey Bastards

Jackal is proud to be a Grey Bastard, member of a sworn brotherhood of half-orcs. Unloved and unwanted in civilized society, the Bastards eke out a hard life in the desolate no man’s land called the Lots, protecting a frail and noble human civilisation form invading bands of vicious full blooded orcs. But on the heels of the ultimate betrayal, Jackal will start to question where his true loyalties lie…

As soon as Jonathan French’s The Grey Bastards came through the mailbox, courtesy of Orbit, I had this tagged as a must read. Sword and Sorcery is really my thing and this one peaked my interest. It was refreshing to see a high fantasy novel done from the perspective of a half-orc, although, with their crass behaviour and sex jokes you could more readily dub it Low-Fantasy. Actually it really is sword and sorcery.  Read More …

Tyler Whitesides – The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn

Another review by Wiebe, who nicked my review copy for this title the moment it came in. The review is short and sweet, but he had his reasons for that.

Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.

When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.

But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory – Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn is good fantasy that differs from the norm, as it is all about the con, or ruse in this case. Tyler Whitesides story reminded me most of the British TV series Hustle or The Lies of Locke Lamorra by Scott Lynch, without being derivative. All three feature a cast of gifted individuals who are so good at what they do, that they can pick and choose whom to con. That leads them to take from the wealthy and criminals, making them way more likeable than if they were fleecing old grannies. The Robin-Hood like approach to the characters makes it easier to like them. And boy, are the characters well written. With a good dose of gallows humour, and a fast pace I was thoroughly entertained.  Read More …

Kate Elliott – The Spiritwalker Trilogy

Wiebe returns with a short review of the entire Spiritwalker trilogy, which if I had to summarise it is basically: “Mieneke, why haven’t you read this already?”

My wife, the lovely Fantastical Librarian, recommended this series to me after I read The Potion Diaries and a discussion of alternative history and romance in fantasy. Based on that discussion, she posited that The Spiritwalker Trilogy by one of her favourite authors, Kate Elliot, would be right up my alley. The titles of the trilogy are Cold Magic, Cold Fire, and Cold Steel. Picking up these three chihuahua killers of the shelf, I was wondering what in the heck would you need three trade paperbacks and more than 2000 pages for, to write some romance?  Read More …