Dancer’s Lament (Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #1) ★★★★ ½

dancerslament (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dancer’s Lament
Series: Malaz: Path to Ascendancy #1
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 418
Format: Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Before there was Cotillion and Kellanved, there was Dorin Rav and Wu. Taking place in the city of Li Heng, this is the story of how they became partners.

The plot of the book, however, is how the city of Li Heng survived a besiegement by a jumped up king who thought he was somebody. The 4 mages of the city, under the direction of the Protectress (a tiste liosan) end up confining Ryllandaras, the man-jackal in a magical prison. The Itko Kan’ians, the besiegers, have the help of a Jaghut and it takes the Protectress unleasing the full might of her Warren of Light to drive back the besiegers.

Wu, and Dorin, have plans to take over the city during the turmoil but they simply aren’t strong enough and end up being exiled from the city. But now they are partners and can begin working together.

 

My Thoughts:

Finally. A Malazan book that I can simply sit down and read straight through and enjoy fully without feeling like I’m juggling 3 different 5000 piece puzzles all mixed together. You have no idea how much that upped my enjoyment of this book.

I think Esslemont showed his true colors with this book. He is a good standard fantasy writing kind of guy. His Malazan Empire novels felt very much like he was trying to copy Steven Erikson’s style and it just didn’t work for me. But this? Besides Gardens of the Moon, this was the most enjoyable Malazan book that I’ve read. Now I am really looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

In the Malazan books, Cotillion/Dancer and Kellanved were shadow’y characters doing things behind the scenes and never being fully fleshed out. Even when they were supposed to be main characters, they were actually hiding and felt like side characters. This time, they were simply people. It was refreshing.

There were lots of hints and little asides from other Malazan characters, so if you’re one of the Book of the Fallen fanboys who who loves unlocking a ton of meaning from 2 sentence fragments, you’ll still have something to chew on with this book. The rest of us can simply sit back and enjoy the story.

In Esslemont’s The Return of the Crimson Guard the malazan army unleashed Ryllandaras and in this book we see how, and why, he was confined. It was nice to make a clear cut connection between one book and the other instead of having to guess and speculate and turn my brain into 77 pretzels to make my pet theory fit.

Another aspect of this that I enjoyed was the lack of Existential Despair philosophy. Everybody was NOT whining about how meaningless their lives were. In fact, they acted like real people and didn’t even think about that. Dorin and Wu had to survive, plan how to take over a newly discovered Warren of Shadow and see if they could take over the city. Not much time to sit on their fat asses and complain about how hard they have it (unlike almost every Steven Erikson character. Man, that guy has his characters doing more talking than doing, in the middle of freaking battles for goodness sake!!!).

To end, I really enjoyed this book. A lot. In fact, I plan on buying it in hardcover, I enjoyed it so much. How don’t know how much more of an endorsement I can give a book. * grin *

★★★★ ½

 

bookstooge

Sixth Watch (Night Watch #6) ★★★★☆

sixthwatch (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Sixth Watch
Series: Night Watch #6
Author: Sergei Lukyanenko
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 403
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

A rogue vampire has started biting people in broad daylight and what’s more, they’re just taking a “sip” from each victim. Anton figures out that the vampire is sending a coded message to him using the initials of the victims.

Once he figures that out, ALL the prophets have the exact same foretelling. Something dealing with the numbers 1-6 and the End of All Life on Earth.

So both Watches, Night and Day, give all acting Authority to Anton to figure out what is going on. It turns out that an old Agreement by the Sixth Watch and the Twilight, in the personafication of the Two In One, has been breached and that gives the Two In One the right to wipe humanity down to 1%.

The solution is to invoke the Sixth Watch, which involves both Watches, the Witches, the Vampires and Other “Others”. Huge sacrifices are made by many people and the Agreement is null and voided. Humanity and the “Others” are all saved.

Anton is sacrificed and gives up his “Other” powers and becomes truly human. Thus ends his story in the Night Watch universe.

 

My Thoughts:

What a great end to this series. This was just as good as all the previous books and had that perfect mix of pathos, humor, tension, fear and maturity.

I think what I liked best about this book and the series, even while I’m opposed to it, is the fact that Anton goes from an idealistic Light One to a pragmatic Human. I suspect I enjoyed his journey because in SO many ways it mirrors my own journey through life.

I also liked how Anton’s sacrifices include having his family make sacrifices. The load wasn’t all on his shoulders and there was nothing he could do about it. Watching his 16year old daughter choose to sacrifice her future as a Zero Ultimate Other, man, that’s tough.

While there are a lot more stories to be told in the Watch series, I suspect that Lukyanenko has reached the end of his interest and thus chose to wrap things up nice and neat. Anton has always been the center of the stories and with his story done, I think the flavor would irrevocably change, enough so to affect any future stories.

This is one of the few Urban Fantasies that I’ve been able to stomach over the last couple of years and I think that speaks well to Lukyanenko’s skill. I also think it shows that somewhere I’ve got some Russian blood in my past. That or I’m the reincarnation of Turgenev. Haha.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Night Watch (Book 1)
  2. Day Watch (Book 2)
  3. Twilight Watch (Book 3)
  4. Last Watch (Book 4)
  5. New Watch (Book 5)

Book Tag: The TBR Tag

Saw this at Dragon & Zombies a little bit ago and decided I’d save it and do it later. Later is now Now.

Picture heavy and complicated. I had a lot of fun putting this together though, as organizing things brings joy to my heart.

 

bookstooge

 

 

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

This is a complicated procedure, at least the setup. Once it’s setup, then it rolls along like a well oiled machine.

  1. Choose a book to put on my TBR
  2. Put said book into Calibre with the TBR tag and sort by “date added”
  3. Load 100’ish books onto my Kindle, sorted by Series
  4. Remove TBR tag from those books in Calibre.
  5. Repeat Steps 1 & 2
  6. When I finish a series on my Kindle, I remove said series from my Kindle
  7. Replace finished series with the next series that has the TBR tag from Calibre
  8. Keep my Kindle filled with 100-150 book so I’m not reading the same thing within weeks
  9. Keep my Calibre TBR library at 100-150. Ruthlessly not adding books does this just fine.

 

All picture should be clickable for more detail.

calibretbr

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kindle3

kindle2

kindle1

 

Is your TBR mostly print or ebook?

Ebook

 

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

By whatever is next. My reading is like a grindstone. It goes slowly, but I crush that TBR into fine meal.

 

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest:

In Calibre, the Starfisher trilogy by Glen Cook has been on my TBR since August of 2016

 

A book that you recently added to your TBR:

Stinger by McCammon and Mr Mercedes by King. Both are Halloween’ish reads and the King book is in preparation for doing a buddy-read with BookCupidity.

 

A book that’s on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover:

Stranger of Tempest

stranger-of-tempest-final

With my avatar coming from the game Heretic/Hexxen, something like this is going to instantly appeal to me.

 

A book on your TBR that you never plan on actually reading:

I’m not one of “those” kind of people. I used to be though. But now, I only add book that I know I’ll read.

 

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for:

The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter by Michael Sullivan.

The kickstarter for the hardcover should be starting up soon and I’ll be doing a post for that.

 

A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read except you:

Once again, I’m not one of “those” people. I only add a book if a reviewer I trust has reviewed it or if there are enough other reviews for me to figure out if it will push my button or not. The whole “popularity” reading thing is for a different generation than me.

 

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you:

Thankfully, almost all of you never recommend books to me. I’m thankful for that. I read your review and make up my own mind.

 

A book on your TBR that you’re just dying to read:

For these kind of book, I have a High Priority collection on my Kindle. I keep that Collection on the front page of my kindle and cycle through it whenever it gets to the bottom of the page. I also try to follow this same procedure for my manga reading.

kindle1

The books in it right now are:

Sixth Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko [Currently Reading]

Dancer’s Lament by Ian Esslemont

The Punch Escrow by Tal Klein

 

The number of books on your TBR shelf:

130’ish on my Kindle

130 in Calibre

260’ish in Total

The Last Good Man ★☆☆☆☆

lastgoodman (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Last Good Man
Series: ———-
Author: Linda Nagata
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 464
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

True Brighton, former military, has started up a mercenary group. They rescue kidnap victims, etc, etc. A couple of years ago True’s oldest son, Diego, was captured while on a special forces mission. He was tortured on tape, and that video went viral. He became a worldwide phenomenon. His whole group was wiped out and True has never gotten the answers she wants about the whole situation.

In a pro-bono rescue mission, it becomes apparent that the leader of Diego’s group might not have died with his men. Thus begins True’s hunt for answers.

And be damned to the consequences of her actions, even if it means her friends die, her coworkers die and she leaves her husband and 2 adult children in the dust.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed the story and the writing. Mrs Nagata is talented and this book shows that her The Red trilogy was not a fluke.

However, my problem with this book was how True acts and what motivates her. She is obsessed with her dead son and the facts surrounding his death. She allows that obsession to take over everything. She leaves her husband, wondering if he’ll ever see her again. She makes decisions that directly lead to her coworkers dying. She saves a man, time after time, who has kidnapped, tortured and killed American civilians.

Depending on how you feel about those issues will directly affect how much you enjoy this book. I will continue reading Nagata’s stuff due to how great the Red books were. But if she writes another one like this, well…

★☆☆☆☆

bookstooge

Kantovan Vault (The Spiral Wars #3) ★★★★☆

kantovanvault (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kantovan Vault
Series: The Spiral Wars #3
Author: Joel Shepherd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 545
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Captain Erik is in the middle of Tavali space, under the protection of a special branch of the Tavali armed forces. They are searching for a data core of an old Drysine Queen so that the queen on board, Styx, can become fully functional and help in the fight against the Alo, who seem to have been suborned by the Deepynines, another supposedly extinct machine race.

The Tavali are even crazier in their politics than humanity and some of their sub-allies are just plain nuts. The long and short is that Erik’s sister is kidnapped, which forces him to mastermind a break-in of the Tavali’s most secret treasure cave, the Kantovan Vault. Within said vault is a journal that will help Styx find the data core and the Tavali military gain the upper hand against their civilian counter parts.

Of course, the Tavali military doesn’t know that Erik has the help of Styx, a Drysine. The Tavali have specially trained units to deal with remnants of Drysine machinery and if they know that Erik has an active Queen, well, he and his crew have as much chance of surviving as I do if I pissed straight into the sun.

Yeah, no chance.

 

My Thoughts:

This was almost as good as the previous two books. I hadn’t realized it had been just over a year since I read book 2 though. Which leads me into my first issue.

Names. There was not a glossary or character list at the beginning of the book. Usually I don’t care about that, but when single names get tossed about, with a military designation, it would be nice to know WHO that person is. It wouldn’t be an issue if this was a completed series and I was reading them every month or two, but with a year between reads, it would have been nice to have a character list. And a sum-up of the previous book, even 2-3 paragraphs to remind me what has gone on.

Second, and final issue, was that things seemed a bit dragged out. I found myself skipping descriptions of “whatever” and sometimes even conversations if they didn’t seem 100% on point to the plot. I suspect Shepherd would have gotten a “what a simplistic book” if he HADN’T added all those extra bits, so maybe he just can’t win? But drag is something to be aware of.

The battles, once again, were the high point. All ground force fights, ranging everywhere from remote mountain tops to a subway system with mecha. The Tavali military calls up some of its retirees to help out Erik and Co on a planet and man, that was awesome. Pitched battles in slum’y areas. Buildings toppling, explosions, etc, etc. It was glorious.

While I know that the Drysines are needed in the fight against the Deepynines, I’m still rooting for someone on board Erik’s ship to blow Styx to kingdom come and back. It feels like having Skynet on board; it’s just waiting to turn on you and kill you. Brrrrrr. I don’t care if Styx becomes a hero, I’ll think of it as a badguy to the bitter end of the series.

Another thing I liked was that no one came across as stupid. Sometimes you’ll get a lazy author who makes the characters act in such a way, to propel the story onward, that you wonder if the character is an idiot. None of that here. Professionals all around and acting like the adults they are written as. Bravo to Shepherd for that!

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Drysine Legacy (Book 2)
  2. Renegade (Book 1)

Monster Hunter Siege (MHI #6) (ARC) ★★★★☆

seige (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Monster Hunter Siege
Series: Monster Hunters International #6
Author: Larry Correia
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 399
Format: Digital Advanced Reading Copy

 

Synopsis: Super Spoilers!

MHI finds out that a group of Hunters is still alive in the Nightmare Zone, after being sucked in there from the story in Legion. Owen has the prophecy talk with his Dad, finds out he has been chosen to fight a World Ending Being that can hold its own against the Old Ones.

Coincidentally enough, the rescue mission that Own wants to run to get the survivors will take them right to the Big Bad Guy. So there is a lot of getting ready, figuring out how they’re going to survive the Zone and how their going to get back to the portal.

The push to get to the portal is pretty intense. Multiple Hunter Companies are taking part and it is on a Russian island. They bring a tank. Only Owen gets through the portal, as his Chosen One status is a bit better than Anakin’s and he rescues his comrades. Only to be captured and frozen in the ground for 6 months.

He escapes back to our world only to find that the Big Baddie has escaped and is on the loose. And his wife and newborn son are missing.

 

My Thoughts: Spoilers x5

This was an e-arc, so any errors in words, grammar, etc in the book were ignored. But by gum, reading this early was worth it.

The previous book in the series, Nemesis, really blew me away, So my expectations were pretty high. I KNEW my expectations were high and looked over my previous MHI reviews to help ground me. It was good that I did. I ended up enjoying this quite a bit and I wasn’t disappointed because it wasn’t Nemesis 2.0.

There was a lot of setup to this story. There had to be. It was 6months to a year I think? Lots of logistics, training Hunters to work together who just 3 months ago were competitors, at best, and enemies, at worst. Throw in the multiple languages, the fact that the portal to the Nightmare Zone is on a Russian island and the Russkies don’t want to admit that the island even exists and you’d better have some solid planning under your belt.

I like reading about Owen. He’s not a slimeball like the guy in Monster Hunter Memoirs and he’s someone I like reading about. One of the reasons I like him is because he’s everything I am not. He’s big, he’s tall, he’s emotionally stable and doesn’t go into a tailspin if his wife doesn’t text him, he’s a leader and he’s wicked good with guns. Reading these books, for a couple of hours I can be somebody who I want to be.

The invasion of the island was tops. Skippy the orc flying a helicopter is always amusing to read about. A tank versus a giant was wicked cool and 100+ hunters in armoured jeeps versus a whole island of monsters, well, that is just what I want to read about.

When Owen goes into the Nightmare Zone by himself, the action didn’t slow down very much. He’s on the run from the Big Baddies’ lackeys the whole time and it turns out that the guys he needs to rescue have been taken by a High Hunt of Fey. He singlehandedly invades their castle, frees his men and then stays back to fight the leader of the Hunt so his men can escape. A 6’5”, 300 pound man versus a 7ft tall nigh indestructible warrior? Yes please! And it is a fantastic one on one fight.

Only to be interrupted by the Big Baddie. Who has been using Owen the whole time for his own ends. So the book ends with the Big Baddie out in the world and Owen’s wife and son unreachable. That kind of catch fits exactly with the previous MHI books. The main story wraps up and then Correia throws out a hook so you’ll read the next book. It’s worked well enough on me that I don’t even mind anymore. But it is something to be aware of.

Another solid entry into the Monster Hunters International series. Good stuff.

However, that cover. I am not a fan of sexual fan service. That cover is nothing but sexual fan service. Ignore the cover, seriously.

The links below, to previous books, are probably just as spoiler’y as this. Just so you know.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Monster Hunter International (Book 1)
  2. Monster Hunter Vendetta (Book 2)
  3. Monster Hunter Alpha (Book 3)
  4. Monster Hunter Legion (Book 4)
  5. Monster Hunter Nemesis (Book 5)

Sungrazer (Outriders #2) ★★★★☆

sungrazer (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Sungrazer
Series: Outriders #2
Author: Jay Posey
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 448
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

A secret asset of the UAF (United American Federation) has gone missing. This asset has stealth capability, can capture, render and output enemy data AND it can perform kinetic strikes, which are almost untraceable.

It is up to the Outriders to find this missing asset, recover it and prevent a war from breaking out between Mars and Earth. Unfortunately for them, someone within the Mars Federation WANTS war. So not only do the Outriders have to prevent war, they have to do so secretly because the very existance of the asset is enough to start the war.

During this time Mike Pence, the sniper who died and underwent The Process in the last book reveals to Lincoln that he’s having memory problems and that The Process might not be quite all that the brass say it is. Which of course means that Lincoln dies near the end of the book and goes through The Process himself. Which in turn leads to the revelation that the big bad enemy lady from the first book not only has access to a form of The Process herself and uses it, but she uses it to replicate herself and put herself in multiple positions of power in various Martian city states.

 

My Thoughts:

Now that I knew I was not going to be reading a Duskwalker style story, which is what I was expecting with the first Outriders book, I was able to read and accept this for what it was. Military SF. It makes a big difference if you know what you are getting into, even vaguely, when starting a book. This was on my “High Priority” collection on my kindle and so I read it as soon as it came out.

This was just as good as the first and nothing stood out either better or worse. Only a couple of issues which I’ll touch on quickly and even those didn’t really let me down. More of quibbles.

Lincoln is able to tell what Amira Wright is feeling by invisible muscle twitches in her eyes or mouth. Once, I can live with. But it happened at least 3 times and was annoying. There were stretches of unnecessary description that really felt like padding. Finally, the revelation that the evil lady replicates herself wasn’t bad, but considering how information greedy Mars is [they make googles seem like your blind, deaf, dumb and DEAD uncle], it seemed improbable to me that no one else had noticed this on Mars and made an issue of it.Unless there is a secret Cabal on Mars who run everything, kind of like in X-Files Season 10 where there is a secret Cabal who run Earth and aliens are just a fake distraction.

Now to the good stuff. Several riveting instances of infiltration, fighting and exfiltration. Not huge gun battles, but tense enough that I felt pumped up after reading them. I like that feeling. The revelation about possible problems in The Process of replicating the Outriders when they die opens up whole vistas of possible paranoia and government conspiracy. I can just see one of the team going haywire in a future book and having to be hunted down by his own team mates. Now THAT would be awesome.

The revelation of clone lady, with its attendant problems, also opens up possible plot lines. Who is funding her replication? Is it the same process, do the replicants think alike, can they think in unison, etc? Is she the mastermind or is there a Martian conspiracy? Or…ALIENS?!? I am so hoping for aliens at some point myself. United States Secret Forces versus the godless, murdering, horribly bestial aliens.

* sings the national anthem *

Man, sometimes I write better plot ideas in my head than actual reviews. Of course, it would take great skill to write that without me lambasting the author for being a talentless hack who couldn’t write an original plotline if their life depended on it. Authors just can’t win with me 🙂

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Outriders (Book 1)