Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets

Review by Travis Starnes Homicide is one of the better true crime style books I have read, although that might be because it is more crime reporting then true crime. Simon spent a year with the Baltimore police following members of the Homicide division and focuses primarily on 3 of its members.  Many will recognize the names and some of the situation in this book as it was made into the well acclaimed TV series Homicide: Life on the Streets several years after the book came out.  Even without all the hype around this book following the success of the affiliated TV show, Simon was definitely at the top of his game. His writing is very engaging and he has the non-fiction narrative down to a science. The book has more of a novel feel then a biography of the people involved yet never feels like fiction.  More importantly this… Read more »

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Starship Troopers vs. Old Man’s War: A Comparison

by Reynold Starnes Since first published in 1959, Starship Troopers, several later novels have been compared to it, including but not limited to,  Haldeman’s The Forever War, Gunn’s Death’s Head, and Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.  Examining the similarities and differences between Starship Troopers and Old Man’s War provides insights into both. Authors Background and Comparison Robert Heinlein was a twentieth century man.  He was born in 1907 and died in 1988; he was a part of, and influenced by, major events of the century.  He graduated from  the U.S. Naval Academy and served on the first purpose built U.S. aircraft carrier under Captain Ernest King, who as Admiral King led the U.S. fleet in the Second World War. Heinlein had strong and determined political views, although they evolved over his life.  He was an active supporter of socialist Upton Sinclair’s campaign for the Governor of California in the… Read more »

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Murder in Mississippi

Murder in Mississippi

Review by Travis Starnes A real life tale of a murder and a capital trial set in the Deep South.  A self-proclaimed white supremacist who may or may not have been involved romantically with a black man, an Australian “gotcha” style journalist akin to Michael Moore, and a rogues gallery of slightly strange investigators, neighbors, lawyers, and on lookers. The premise of the book caught my eye and I had to check it out.  In the book the author compares his work to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and it is an accurate comparison.  Or rather I can see that the author struck out to get the same kind of story when he stumbled upon a murder with a similarly interesting set of characters.   The problem comes from people he has contact with.  While they are almost always interesting these people feel like they were edited to… Read more »

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Interview with Colin Fulton

Interview with Colin Fulton

Interview by Travis Starnes I recently had a chance to talk to Colin Fulton about his book The Reichbank Robbery which I read and loved.  As I said in my review I am a big fan of historical fiction and this book was hitting on all cylinders.  It had action, intrigue, a very well researched historical backdrop and some interesting twists.  I was pleased when Colin reached out about my review and we had a chance to talk.  It gave me a chance to get some questions I was thinking about actually answered by the author as well as get a small peek into what Colin has coming up in the future.  I have to say I am excited about his future work. On a side note I was also happy that he is such a friendly and well-spoken guy.  There is always that chance when you meet the creator… Read more »

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Vengeance is Mine!

Vengeance is Mine!

Review by Travis Starnes I enjoy a good thriller and a good mystery and this book mixes the two genres up fairly well.  The story follows Mark Kidder and the Alpha Team of “The Dept” as they track down a suspected terrorist and killer, and flashes back to related events set during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. There are some really good things going for this book.  The plot overall is well detailed and complex which works for this type of story.  With multiple factions to follow including the Dept, the schemers in MI5, a serial killing terrorist, and a Bosnian Colonel out for blood there are a lot of threads to keep up with.  For such a spread out plot and so many parties Smith does a good job of pulling all the pieces together at the end, not always a sure thing when the story gets this… Read more »

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By Schism Rent Asunder

By Schism Rent Asunder

Review by Travis Starnes While I am still enjoying this series I was a little let down by this installment.  Not that it was bad but it felt essentially less than the previous book.  By Schism Rent Asunder picks up from the massive battle at the with a new king of Charis, the Church of God Awakening moving  more directly against the kingdom, and Charis picking up the pieces left over from its victory. If anything this book feels more like Weber is working to advance the world building and setting up for bigger conflicts.  It is clear that Weber has a long term goal for the series but all the setup in this issue comes off as a little unsatisfactory when put next to the epic battles that closed out the previous installment.  On the bright side for readers who like political maneuvering and Machiavellian schemes this book will hit… Read more »

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1632

1632

I have said it before and I will say it again, Eric Flint is the most upbeat sci-fi writer I have come across.  His good guys are pure, his bad guys are evil and deserve what they get, and you can see in his writing how much joy he has in telling the story.  He is the literary equivalent of methamphetamine, of course without the life crushing physical addiction. 1632 is the first in a series about a small town in West Virginia that has been torn from its place and time and dropped into southern Germany in 1632, hence the name.  For historians this time period has meaning but it is an unusual choice because it is not one of the flashy, popular moments in history.  The story is set in the midst of the Thirty Years War where Catholic run nations were fighting against those ruled by Protestants. … Read more »

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World War Z

World War Z

Review by Travis Starnes This book is nothing short of brilliant. That being said it may not be for everyone.  It is important to note that this is not a straightforward narrative following a survivor through zombie wasteland.  Instead World War Z is told in the form of an oral history set in a world where a worldwide zombie catastrophe has happened.  Brooks has managed to do such a good job of creating a fictitious oral history that it in fact reads like many real oral histories I have read in the past. World War Z recounts the alternate history of a world where there zombies rise from the dead, how they took over the world, and the ways in which the survivors pushed the zombies back and reclaimed their countries.  Even though it is clearly a work of fiction it none the less comes off as very believable, thanks… Read more »

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The Reichsbank Robbery

The Reichsbank Robbery

Review by Travis Starnes While I have read a lot of historical fiction set during World War II this one takes an interesting perspective on the genre by having the entire point of view take place from the German side.  The story focuses on a group of plotters within the Nazi military and government and their often competing schemes to steal a shipment of gold and escape Germany just ahead of the invading allied armies. Colin Fulton definitely knows his history and it is clear he has done a good amount of research for this book.  He takes a series of real events, all of which he lays out in an appendix at the end of the book, and places his story around the edges of history that remain a mystery in real life.  He takes this one step further by not only using well-known figures from history as a… Read more »

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Dies the Fire

Dies the Fire

Review by Travis Starnes This is book truly surprised me. I have read a lot of S.M. Stirling’s’ work, and while he is a solid writer this book has pushed past what I thought he was normally capable of. The book revolves around an interesting question; What if technology and gunpowder stopped working?  Well of course the obvious answer is all hell would break loose.  Dies the Fire sets up the world that will continue through several titles and introduces us to the 2 groups the series will be following, the Bearkillers and Clan Mackenzie. It is the story that is the real high point of this book. I will say that some of the rules about what happens seem a bit weird and unconnected.  I have read the book several times now and still do not understand how electronics and gunpowder would both be diminished by the same event. … Read more »

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