Category: Book Reviews

Never Go Back

Never Go Back

Review by Reynold Starnes Never Go Back is the eighteenth and latest Lee Child thriller featuring Jack Reacher.  For those new to the series, Reacher is a drifter who, often without intending to, finds himself against very bad people, which never ends well for the bad guys.  He is an ex-Army MP who is six feet, five inches tall and weighs around two-fifty.  He is an accomplished investigator, expert marksman, trained in hand-to-hand combat, and very smart. In Never Go Back, Reacher heads to the special MP unit he used to lead to see the new commander, a woman, whose voice he liked when he spoke to her on the phone.  When he gets to the post, he becomes involved in a conspiracy she has inadvertently touched. Like the other Reacher novels, this is a good read.  It isn’t a favorite, but it isn’t the least favorite either.  Middle of… Read more »

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Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior

Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior

Review by Travis Starnes While I usually read more conflict oriented military history focusing on particular wars there is an interesting sub-genre that focuses on the building and structure of the military.  Books in this sub-genre are more history and cultural study hybrid that true history.  For me Chosen Soldier is one of the highlights of the genre. This book takes that sub-genre and makes it even more focused, and is all the better because of that. Dick Couch’s choice, with the exception of the first chapter, of focusing solely on the training of Green Berets rather than on the whole history of the outfit as a whole really lets him go into details that broader texts miss. As a former SEAL Couch defiantly knows about Special Forces and is able to translate that into really detailed and clear explanation of what these men go through. He gives enough background… Read more »

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Sudden Prey

Sudden Prey

Review by Travis Starnes In the 8th installment of the Prey series John Sandford has decided to kick things up a notch.  Up till now Lucas Davenport has faced a cavalcade of psychopaths who have all had self-preservation at the top of their list.  In this book however Davenport has to face off against criminals targeting cops for all out revenge and a do or die attitude. So far the Prey series has really worked for me.  The stories have all been connected enough that I can feel the thread between them but with plots and even a tone that is different from book to book.  It’s not often a series manages to pull that off and Sandford has does it with flying colors.  As usual this is not a “who done it” type of book, as we see the story from both the perspective of Davenport and the people he is… Read more »

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The Magician

The Magician

Review by Andy As young adult fiction goes The Magician is okay but needs some work. Even though it is fantasy the chances of a fifteen-year-old killing a millennia old giant lizard seems kind of slim. The weak plot is helped some by a subplot that is pretty good and characters that are interesting and funny. As a sequel it does not hold up to the first book in the series, The Alchemyst. What makes this series work is the setting of Earth where magic is very much alive. The series also brings legends, gods, and goddesses out of fiction and puts them beside famous people from history, who are themselves often immortal.  For anyone interested in mythology this combination comes off as pretty clever. While the main plot is fairly weak it does pick up the story where the first book left off and continues the plot through well. … Read more »

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One for the Money

One for the Money

Review by Travis Starnes This is the first in the Stephanie Plum series about an ex-lingerie saleswoman turned bounty hunter. To be honest the premise did not give me have high hopes for this book.  Many mystery novels that I read tend to feel very similar and the “smart mouth, strong willed armature bounty hunter” did not hold a lot of promise for me. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this book. For me the first and most important part of a mystery the quality of the mystery itself.  Is it a good chase with enough clues sprinkled in so you can figure out what is “really” happening but not so many clues that it is simple to guess the ending?  It really is a hard balancing act and in all honesty “One for the Money” does only an ok job at it.  The main reason for… Read more »

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March UpCountry

March UpCountry

Review by Travis Starnes What starts off as a military space fiction in the vein of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series quickly become a high tech meets low tech style of military fiction.  I wasn’t sure what to expect after the first chapter but I really enjoyed the journey this book took me on.  It is an excellent start to a series. Let me start off by saying I felt more of Weber’s influence in this story that John Ringo’s, although I have been unable to find how much each writer contributed.  The overall story arc, character progression, and setting feel like pure Weber to me while the action beats have Ringo’s finger prints all over them. While there are a few things that could be said negatively about this title there are so many more things to like about it. There was a book I read years ago from… Read more »

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Death’s Head

Death’s Head

Review by Travis Starnes It’s been a while since I hit a sci-fi series I wasn’t already reading, and this one seems like the beginning of a pretty good military sci-fi series.  The book focuses on the journey of the main character from a barely functioning legionary to one of the most the elite of the empires military.  While it is straight up military fiction and adventure fodder, it is interesting to have a book which is almost a study in character progression.  Very unusual for a military fiction book. When it comes to the building of the world, it’s hard not to draw comparisons with the world of Starship Troopers, what with the futuristic fascist thing going on.  We have seen this kind of setting before, but Gunn does a good job not making it feel too much like a copy of previous books. While following the Journey of… Read more »

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The Honor of the Queen

The Honor of the Queen

Review by Travis Starnes This second book in the series has a lot right going for it and is a solid follow up to ‘On Basilisk Station’. While Honor of the Queen falls a little short of its progenitor, it is still a solid read.  I enjoy military fiction, whether contemporary or sci-fi, when it is well done; and ‘On Basilisk Station’ was done well.  This story is a bit less straight forward and has more drama attached to it with long standing personal relationships joining the butting head version of personal relationships initially seen in the previous installment. Honor, who is still a little one dimensional, continues to be the strong, hyper-capable commander that Weber seems to prefer. The white hat wearing do no wrong type of character sometimes seen in military fiction can get a bit tedious so the fact that he allows her a small misstep is… Read more »

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1812: The Rivers of War

1812: The Rivers of War

Review by Travis Starnes I will start off by saying I am generally a fan of all of Flints works, he writes the happiest war stories you will find.  His writing tends to be fairly up-beat, he loves over the top characters, and he enjoys not only showing the action and drama beats of his stories but also exploring the larger political and cultural landscapes of the worlds he creates.  This last trait of Flint’s is both a blessing and a curse. Because he writes so much alternate history there are a lot of interesting points to examine however he also tends to get a bit “wander” in his writing.  Long tangents, dead end story treads, and convoluted setups that don’t really apply to the main story of the book can happen. That being said while this book is very typically Flint, although the flow and pacing is much better… Read more »

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The Short Victorious War

The Short Victorious War

Review by Travis Starnes The third book in the Honor Harrington Series this installment keeps up the tradition set by the first two. Although it does have some points where it drops off The Short Victorious War is an all-around good read for fans of serial science fiction. Honor is back ship-side after having large portions of the last book set planet side.   It truly is nice to see Harrington back in her element.  There is almost as much intrigue and politics here as in the Honor of the Queen coupled with larger scale space combat. Honor continues to be one of the strongest and most interesting female characters I have read in a long time. With the addition of a love interest (from a rather unexpected location), Weber has fleshed her out from the competent military leader arch type into something more human.  One of my few complaints about her… Read more »

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