Author: Travis

In Retrospect

In Retrospect

Review by Travis Starnes In Retrospect is time travel story mixed with a who-dun-it style mystery set against a dystopian sci-fi backdrop.  It sounds like a strange mixture but Larson completely pulls off this interesting collogue of genres. When it comes to sci-fi, and especially dystopian and post-apocalyptic future (or in this case post-post-apocalyptic) sci-fi, the setting is what makes or breaks the book for me.  Larson did what I think works the best by creating a detailed world and just hinting at all this past information.  Similar to Tolkien’s work you can feel the history of the world the book never focuses on that far history.  You know there was some kind of apocalyptic event, that prior to that a limited form of time travel was invented and that after the event new civilizations rose to take the place of the old powers.  I would actually be interested to… Read more »

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The Punishment Imperative

The Punishment Imperative

Review by Travis Starnes The Punishment Imperative is an in-depth look at the growth of the prison population and some of the things that led to the fivefold increase in the number of incarcerated over the last 35 years. This is a subject I find completely interesting and a topic that I think is important for most Americans to know about and discuss.  There is no argument that the prison population in the US is growing at an astonishing rate and this book is one of the better attempts I have read in explaining why things are the way they are. The writing style of this book isn’t bad.  In fact in comparison to many books focusing on sociological studies it does an excellent job of presenting information in a conversational style.  Most books in this genre tend to be on the bland side and come off closer to text… Read more »

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Glorious War

Glorious War

Review by Travis Starnes Glorious War is a biography covering the exploits of George Custer’s Civil War career as well as touching on some of the years just before and after the war.   It attempts to give a more in-depth look at one of the few soldiers whose life after the Civil War over shadowed his actions during it. I read a lot of biographies and to me they are really hit or miss.  While the subject is important in getting me interested in a biography it is really the tone the author uses that makes or breaks it for me.  In Glorious War Thom Hatch uses a flowing narrative style that does an excellent job of combining the need to relay information about the subject’s life while still making it an enjoyable read.  For me this is one of the most enjoyable biographies I have read and joins a… Read more »

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Malice

Malice

Review by Travis Starnes In Malice an old prophecy seems to becoming true as signs and portents begin appearing across the land.  The kingdoms of the Banished Lands must deal with old feuds while preparing for the return of violence from their past. This is a straight up fantasy novel more in the swords and sorcery linage like was found in the Arthurian legends rather than the Tolkien version of the genre.  Magic clearly has a place in the world and there are many fantastic creatures, most notably giants, but the world is closer to a medieval feudal world then one where you would find orcs and wizards. Having finished this book I really did enjoy it but I found the first half to be a harder read.  Half way through the book, I was sure if I was enjoying reading it or not.  By the end I had no… Read more »

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The Murder Code

The Murder Code

Review by Travis Starnes The Murder Code follows detective Andrew Hick and his partner as they try and solve a series of violent and random serial murders.  As an American reading this book the first thing that really jumped out at me is how very British it is.  That is not a bad thing mind you, just something that stuck out to me. Overall I really enjoyed this book.  As with any mystery novel the most important part, at least for me, is the mystery itself.  And the mystery in this book works well.  It isn’t something the reader can figure out ahead of time, you just don’t get enough information, but it is enjoyable to watch Hicks work through it.  There are some red hearings and a nice, although not unforeseen, twist at the end of the book.  As a mystery this The Murder Code is firing on all… Read more »

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Binder

Binder

Review by Travis Starnes Binder is a straight up thriller that follows as former military operator as he heads into coal country West Virginia to track down the missing daughter of an Army Colonel.  What he finds there is much more convoluted and deadly then just a missing girl. This is a straight up adventure thriller and makes no apologies about it.  While there is a mystery you the reader clearly are not meant to “figure it out” but instead follow along the ride as it slowly unfolds.  What you get instead is a lot of butt kicking.  This was just a fun read.  It might not win any awards for prose or changing the world but if you like military-esq adventure books then this book offers time well spent. None of the characters are all that fleshed out and you generally get a collection of 2 dimensional stereotypes, but… Read more »

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Standoff

Standoff

Review by Travis Starnes Standoff follows agent Vin Cooper’s investigation into a dead USAF airman during a massacre at an El Paso airport and on to an adventure into Central America. I have to say first off I have not read any of the previous Vin Cooper books and was not aware this was a series when I started reading it. Thankfully Rollins built in a learning curve for people like me and while there were moments where it I noticed things being brought up that were clearly from earlier works, those were usually minor and didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the books.  There were enough intros to the character that I wasn’t left guessing as to what was going on. As a character I generally really liked Cooper.  He isn’t as hard boiled as I usually like my main characters in this type of thriller but was enough… Read more »

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Nowhere Was There Peace

Nowhere Was There Peace

Review by Travis Starnes Set in the England of King Henry III, Nowhere Was There Peace follows a single man caught up the king’s struggle against the followers of Simon de Motfort.  This historical novel looks at the life of a peasant soldier in 1200s England and highlights some of the issues with the system of Feudalism. I have read some of the history of England, but this is one time period I am unfamiliar with so I will be honest that it took a little time for me to get my bearings when reading this book.  That however isn’t a criticism of the book, as what history I do know of the time period matches up well with this book. The character of Hugh Franklin, while a little overly stubborn at times, I found pretty well written.  He has a good backstory that is conveyed well by Pilling but… Read more »

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Pinkerton’s Great Detective

Pinkerton’s Great Detective

Review by Travis Starnes Pinkerton’s Great Detective follows the life and exploits of James McPharland, one of the most famous investigators of the famed Pinkerton Detective Agency.    Involved in major episodes in US history, McPharland was a key player in taking down the Molly Maguires and chasing down Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Riffenburgh is a very detailed writer and has done his homework on McPharland.  I will admit that although I was familiar with the Pinkertons and many of the situations described here, until I read this book I was not aware of McPharland.  Although I have little to judge it against, Riffenburgh seems to have completely cataloged McPharland’s life and there seems little left out.  It is quite amazing how many major events in the late 19th century that the detective was involved in. The writing is well done and easy to read.  Those expecting a true… Read more »

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Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.

Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.

Review by Travis Starnes Rob Delaney, a comedian who broke out through his well-received twitter account, wrote a tongue and cheek look at his life. The book is sort of a rambling series of funny events or thoughts strung together very loosely in a narrative.  That isn’t a knock on his writing in any way.  Think of it as the literary equivalent of a stand up set, and that is essentially what this book is.  I am not sure if we work shopped the material prior to putting it on paper, but most of the bits are very funny and work well.  Delaney is a funny guy and it shows.  As with most comedians most of the shots he takes are at himself and he masterfully turns the art of self-deprecation into entertainment. While the book is very funny, and worth reading on that merit alone, there is also some fairly… Read more »

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