1632

1632

Review by Travis Starnes 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… 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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Agent of Change

Agent of Change

Review by Reynold Starnes Agent of Change, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, initially published in 1988, is the first book featuring the Liaden Universe.  There are currently sixteen novels and numerous short stories set in this universe, with several later novels and stories set chronologically before the events in Agent of Change. Agent of Change introduces three strains of humans, Liaden, Terran, and Yxtrang, and an alien species, Clutch Turtles.  The key to the plot and set up for Agent of Change is xenophobic behavior by some humans and most Liadens.  There are four specific sequels to this book, but each stands alone. Val Con yos’Phelium, future head of Clan Korval, the most powerful of Liaden Clans has been brainwashed by the Department of the Interior, a clandestine organization intent on establishing Liaden supremacy.  As the plot unfolds, he saves the life of Miri Robertson.  They become involved in… Read more »

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Blog Tour Stop: The Man from 2063 (Dec. 4th)

Blog Tour Stop: The Man from 2063 (Dec. 4th)

Home of Reading will be be hosting a stop on the blog tour for The Man from 2063.  We will be putting up both a review of the book and an interview with the author on December 4th, 2013. About the Author: Jack Duffy spent the last 40 years researching the important facts surrounding the JFK assassination. This includes interviewing several key witnesses that were part of the assassination investigation. This also includes doctors who treated Kennedy at Parkland Hospital. Book Synopsis: Who really killed President John F. Kennedy? Sean Zumwalt is about to find out. I knew it. I knew it, he repeated to himself. A conspiracy. But who had planned the murder? Was Lee Harvey Oswald even involved? If only one could go back in time and solve the mystery. I have to pursue this, he told himself. Someone has to find out the truth once and for all. On… Read more »

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Wormholes

Wormholes

Review by Travis Starnes One of the few sci-fi novels I have read that is set in the current day, Wormholes has a lot going for it.  Focusing on a geologist and an absent-minded astrophysicist trying to figure out a series of unexplained natural events the title makes a nice blend of science and thriller.  Of course given the title it will come as no surprise that the events are caused by wormholes but it is still a good ride watching these two figure out what is going on. Knowing that the author spent his previous career in the world of science explains why the science in this book is very solid and well detailed.  Everything that happens in this novel comes off as completely believable and if I had not known some of the science covered beforehand, the parts of the book where he jumps from actual science into speculation… Read more »

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Comics and Language

Comics and Language

Review by Travis Starnes I recently got a hold of a copy of Comics and Language: Reimagining Critical Discourse on the Form and was genuinely excited to read it.  I do a lot of study on the medium thanks to a project I have been working on for several years and consider myself well versed on the subject and am always looking for new ways to examine the art form. Although not a long time comic person as it has only been the last few years that I revisited comics since I was a child.  This book was marked that it would “appeal to the general comics reader” and seemed like a great way to start a new direction in conversations on comics. Unfortunately neither the marketing nor the book lived up to even my least expectation.  This book reads like someone published their English doctoral thesis, in fact I… Read more »

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The Boys’ War

The Boys’ War

Review by Andy The Boys’ War by Jim Murphy is an interesting book. Its perspective of the Civil War is different from any other book about the conflict. In most books, you’ll probably find some historian with lots of facts and statistics giving you a bystander’s point of view. The Boys’ War however will put you in the action and still have factual information you expect from a history book. More importantly it shows you the war from the perspective of boys who were involved. The reads almost like a historical fiction even though it is all true with firsthand accounts from letters, diaries, and other sources. It puts you in the war with boys’ giving the reader a sense of what they observed and felt. I definitely found it much more enjoyable than something like The Tigers Are Burning where you have a historian talking about how Hitler should… Read more »

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Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

Review by Reynold Starnes A reviewer for the New York Times called Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era the best one volume history of the era he had ever read.  I have read many Civil War histories; Battle Cry of Freedom may be the best, single volume status notwithstanding. James M. McPherson’s masterpiece justifiably won the Pulitzer in 1988.  It is volume six in the Oxford History of the United States.  McPherson is obviously a good scholar; he is also an excellent writer.  His narrative style is serious, but clear.  The book works in both conception and execution. The book has several distinguishing characteristics.  It is about the era, not just the war and its immediate run up.  It is not only a military and social history, it is a political history throughout. The polarization of the populace and the politicians in the pre-war era is described in… Read more »

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