The Iron Star (WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #11.5) ★★★☆☆


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Title: The Iron Star
Series: WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #11.5
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 58
Words: 10K



Synopsis:

From the Publishers & Me

Set between the events of Only in Death and the forthcoming novel, Blood Pact, The Iron Star follows Colonel–Commissar Gaunt and the Tanith First and Only across an unknown and mysterious warzone. Here, they face the their old foes, the Blood Pact. But how are long–dead Ghosts able to fight at Gaunt’s side against the enemy, and who are the watchers? The key to it all lies in unravelling the mystery of the iron star.

This short story ends with Gaunt waking up from surgery after being rescued by the Tanith from the Blood Pact. He’d been tortured almost to death and only the efforts of the Ghosts keep him from crossing the bridge into death.

My Thoughts:

I knew this was a short story but for some reason I had completely forgotten that Gaunt had been taken by the forces of Chaos in “Only in Death”. So while I knew this was some sort of dream, I was pretty confused without the salient fact of HOW Gaunt was on death’s door.

I really should have read this immediately after Only in Death instead of waiting my usual time between books in a series. Abnett was aiming for the discombobulated, drugged out feeling and by george, he did an admirable of conveying just that. I was weirded out the whole time I was reading this.

For 58 pages I think these couple of sentences covers all that needs to be said.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Ghost ★★★✬☆


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Title: The Ghost
Series: ———-
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 23
Words: 6K



Synopsis:

Publishers Description

The gold strike which led the fortune-hunters to Murrayville brought with them the usual proportion of bad men and outlaws. Three months after the rush started, a bandit appeared so consummate in skill and so cool in daring that all other offenders against the law disappeared in the shade of his reputation. He was a public dread. His comings were unannounced; his goings left no track. Men lowered their voices when they spoke of him. His knowledge of affairs in the town was so uncanny that people called him the ‘Ghost.’

My Thoughts:

Oh, this was a fun little story! The town drunk is just playing a part but it’s obvious from the getgo so no spoilers there. What makes this really interesting is how he manipulates the townsfolks and the manhunter hired to catch him. It is masterfully done and you can hear the laughter in the background the whole time.

These short stories of Brand’s are working out perfectly for me. Good stuff.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Hole In The Wall Barrett ★★★☆½


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Title: Hole In The Wall Barrett
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 18
Words: 5.5K



Synopsis:

A tough guy lawyer defends a murderer who poisoned his own uncle. The lawyer does this because his wife asks him too and tells him the defendant is her lover. The lawyer wins the case, apologizes to his wife for making her think he didn’t love her and promises to do better if she’ll come back. She does. The lawyer then has a “private” meeting with the defendant in his soundproof room, which we see him in warming up a poker and oiling up a whip.

My Thoughts:

Brand starts out the story by clearly defining who the villain and hero are by how they look. You can tell he is being over the top sarcastic and ironic. It’s not immediately obvious he’s being sarcastic, but by the end when it fades out just as the husband is about to horsewhip the murderous scum who dared mess with his wife, it’s all there in black and white.

How the lawyer makes the jury think his client is innocent by drinking the poison was rather neat. How he makes sure it doesn’t affect him by eating raw eggs beforehand and having a doctor right outside the courtroom to pump his stomach, well, that is going above and beyond the call of duty. But he gets his client acquitted. Of course, Justice is served. That had me pumping my fist and exclaiming “Oh yeah!!!”

I am finding that these short stories by Brand are working great for me. It is just enough of a different taste from my typical SFF/Classic that it cleanses the palate but without being long enough to give me a literary tummy ache.

Technically, the title is Hole-in-the-Wall Barrett, but if I ever go searching for this title by search, there is no way I’m going to remember all those stupid hyphens. You’re welcome, future me.

★★★☆½

The Most Dangerous Game (Short Story) ★★★★☆


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Title: The Most Dangerous Game
Series: ———-
Author: Richard Connell
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 21
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Rainsford is a big game hunter on yacht heading to his next destination. He falls off the boat one night but manages to swim to a nearby island. He is introduced to General Zaroff, a former General to the Russian Czar now living in exile because of the Red Revolution. Zaroff claims to be a hunter from birth and founded his life’s purpose on the thrill of the hunt. Sadly, the hunt against animals paled and Zaroff didn’t know what to do. Until he began hunting men. Now he rescues shipwrecked sailors or kidnaps them and then lets them loose on his island to hunt at his leisure.

When Rainsford refuses to join, Zaroff decides to hunt him. Armed only with a knife,Rainsford must not only overcome Zaroff, but also his killer servant Ivan and the General’s trained pack of hunting dogs.

Rainsford turns the tables and kills Zaroff.

My Thoughts:

A couple of months ago, The Film Authority reviewed the 1932 movie The Most Dangerous Game. It sounded extremely familiar and it turned out it was based on a short story that I had read “some time, some where, some how”. The original title was The Hounds of Zaroff written in 1924.

This was a fascinating little story and sure does pack a wallop for a mere 21 pages. I read a gutenberg “illustrated” edition, which just threw in random pictures of objects being talked about in the text, so I suspect the real page count is closer to the teens.

There isn’t much to actually talk about. The twist is well known, very well used. Using humans as hunting prey has been around since, well, there has been enough leisure time for hunting culture to develop. Humanity gets bored easily enough and it’s creative enough and broken enough to do something like this. There was an Outer Limits episode where some humans use humanoid androids as hunting targets and the twist there was that the androids turned the tables. Just like Rainsford does to Zaroff here.

Even knowing the story, I recommend reading this if you want a little Action/Adventure to tide you over some afternoon.

★★★★☆

John Ovington Returns ★★★☆☆

johnovingtonreturns (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: John Ovington Returns
Series: ———-
Author: Max Brand
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 20
Words: 6.5K

Synopsis:

John Ovington returns to his ancestral home in Connecticut, to find a series of letters between his Great Grandfather and his fiance. Great Grandfather goes to war, the girl marries someone else and Great Grandfather vows he’ll get the girl in the end.

John Ovington finds out he has a new neighbor, who looks exactly like Great Grandfather’s fiance and that she is running off with a beau. She writes a series of letters exactly the same as the Great Grandfather’s fiance and history begins to repeat itself.

John Ovington gets the girl and breaks the cycle that Fate had ordained for him.

My Thoughts:

For some reason, almost all the editions show this as being a full novel at over 500 pages. It is just a short story at 16-20 pages and I sure do feel bad for anyone who bought it (even for 99cents) thinking it was a full book.

The synopsis pretty much says it all. This is some sort of love, ghost, thingy, story. I tagged it western, but considering it takes place in Connecticut, probably “frontier” might have been more appropriate. I’m guessing this was for a magazine back when it was first published. It has 3 chapters and that fits with a serial short story in a magazine spread over 3 issues.

It was actually nice to read something so short and then be done. I spent 30 minutes or less reading it and then bam, finished. Truth be told, I’ve probably spent more time searching out the correct page number and writing this little piece than I did reading. While it feels like cheating (I’ll including this as a “book” in my monthly roundup numbers), I think that including my Page Count numbers more than makes up for it.

Giddy’up!

★★★☆☆

Galactic North (Revelation Space #6) ★★★★½

galacticnorth (Custom).jpgThis 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: Galactic North
Series: Revelation Space #6
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 356
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A collection of 8 short stories and novellas set in Reynolds Revelation Space universe. Many of them focus on the Conjoiners and we get several stories that provide history about several of the Conjoiner characters we’ve read about in previous books.

There is also a story about the Green Light that is mentioned in an earlier book and while we don’t see how humanity overcomes that, we do see how it gets started.

One of the stories gives a tip ‘o the hat to the novella Diamond Dogs. That story was much closer to a horror story and it meshed with the tone of Diamond Dogs perfectly.

 

My Thoughts:

Man, another winner of a book. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I’d already read one or two of these stories in Reynold’s Best Of… Collection but they were just as good upon a re-read.

I did enjoy the variation in length of story from novella down to a short story. It helped with the flow of the book and never made me feel like I was slogging. I also liked finding out the history and future of several characters we have already met in previous books. Reading this was a nice “rounding out” experience.

By this time, if one has read this far into Reynold’s Revelation Space universe, nothing here is going to deter one from continuing. Not even referencing one’s self in the third person. That being said, I think there is only one more book for me to read and then I’ll have to go track down his other works and figure out what order to read them.

★★★★½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Honour Under Moonlight (The God Fragments 1.5) ★★★★☆

honourundermoonlight (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: Honour Under Moonlight
Series: The God Fragments 1.5
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 79
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Lynx and the Cards are taking the winter off, thanks to the money they earned in Stranger of Tempest. However, Lynx gets shanghai’ed into attending a Costume Ball with Toil. When he goes to pick her up at her place, he finds 2 dead assassins, one live assassin and no Toil. Thus begins Lynx’s night.

He tracks down Toil using clues she has left behind. Unfortunately for Lynx, Toil is using him to draw out the leader of the assassin group Lynx found in her home. After some good old fashioned torture, there is a showdown in a graveyard and Lynx, Toil and a mysterious stranger in a gold mask take down the assassins.

Lynx is left wondering just what the Cards have signed up for in working for Toil.

 

My Thoughts:

I’m usually not a fan of short stories taking place between books but I wanted to stretch this series out, as book 2 was only released in March. I’ll have to wait at least a year before book 3, so lets make the fun last, you know?

Also, my last 2 High Priority reads were real downers. Algorithm of Power and Gods of the Mountain both left me holding an empty dried out husk when I really wanted a juicy watermelon. Thankfully, Honour Under Moonlight gave me a splatterific watermelon of a time!

Encompassing 8hrs or less, Lloyd packs a lot of goings-ons into one story. This relies upon the reader knowing what happened in Stranger of Tempest, so this would not be a good starting place. But as an appetizer between main courses, it is delightful. Lynx is as brave, snarky, pragmatic and relatable as ever. It really helps that he’s getting older and fatter. Both of those things I can totally relate too, sadly.

I gave the first book the “profanity” tag, as most of the mercs swore like sailors. This time around, only Sitain, who was drunk for most of the story, was the mouthy one. It wasn’t enough to warrant that tag. I have a feeling the next book will return to form though.

The action is intense and since this is less than 80 pages, the non-action scenes don’t last very long before we’re up and running again. Or fighting or being tortured. I’d call it High Octane. I have the next book, Princess of Blood, already in the next High Priority slot and I’m hoping to get to it by the end of this month or the beginning of next.

★★★★☆

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Lucky Thirteen (Frontlines #1.1) (Short Story)

 azure_a22817976464dc4d4347030e9a5c60c2This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.  wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

 

 

Title: Lucky Thirteen
Series: Frontlines
Author: Marko Kloos
Rating: 3 of 5 Battle Axes
Genre: SFF
Pages: 14
Format: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

A short story of rookie pilot Lt. Halley’s first drop ship command.

 

My Thoughts:

14 pages that describes Halley’s trial by fire. Thankfully, Kloos simply dealt with the adventure of Lucky Thirteen and Halley from beginning to end and didn’t throw in padding about her and Grayson’s budding romance. In fact, this is strictly about Halley.

Kloos manages to masterfully give us the full story inside of a short story. I didn’t feel rushed, or underdone. It was just right. A great break between Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure.

Murder on the Orient Elite (Grimnoir Chronicles #3.5)

coverThis review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Murder on the Orient Elite

Series: Grimnoir Chronicles

Author: Larry Correia

Rating: 4 of 5 Battle Axes

Genre: SFF

Minutes: 74

Format: Audio

 

 

Synopsis:

A short story after the end of the truly awesome Grimnoir Chronicles trilogy.

Jake Sullivan must save a luxury air yacht from unknown forces. Sadly for him, that includes the Imperium, the newly strengthened Russians, a German psycho and even possibly his own employer.

 

 

My Thoughts:

I loved the Grimnoir books dearly. I think they are the best that Correia has written and so I was happy to jump into this, especially after Buyer of Gadgets glowing Review.

Thankfully, Jake Sullivan was still the same heavy with the same humor as in the trilogy.  He’s strong and capable and wicked smart. I really enjoy intelligent characters and ones that have a dry, wry sense of humor are even better. Everything that intrigued me about the original trilogy is here in this short story as well.

The narrator does a good job of switching voices so it was very easy to tell who was talking and conversations weren’t awkward because of trying to figure out which character was speaking.

I got this for free back when it was released, but it took me a long time to get around to it. There is another Grimnoir Chronicles that takes place much later in time and I’ll eventually track that down as well. I just can’t quite stomach paying $4 for 60 minutes of audio.

Mitosis (The Reckoners #1.5)

67d755b5fffe47ceee157fe4db1847bcThis review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Mitosis

Series: The Reckoners

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 3 of 5 Battle Axes

Genre: Short Story

Pages: 35

Format: Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

An Epic comes to Newcago. And the Prof is away so it is all up to David to be the hero.

 

My Thoughts:

Not a bad short story acting as an appetizer between Steelheart & Firefight. It is just as YA as Steelheart but being a short story, it kind of comes to the fore a bit more.

All I can say is that “The Power of Music” is cliched and it is cliched in this story as well.