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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Off Armageddon Reef

Off Armageddon Reef

Review by Travis Starnes Low-tech meets high-tech science fiction.  This is not the first time we have seen this from David Weber, he used a somewhat similar idea in Heirs of the Empire.  That being said it is a good concept, worked in Heirs of the Empire and it works here.  I am glad Weber has taken that nugget of an idea and expanded it to epic proportions. In Off Armageddon Reef we have an advance human society pushed to the brink of extinction and forced to live without the benefits of modern technology in a last ditch effort to survive.  Not only do they draw the line at pre-industrial revolution levels of technology but this idea of technological stagnation is culturally programmed to ever person on the planet.  When a holdover from the past gets dropped into the equation the entire world is turned upside down.  It is an amazing… Read more »

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On Basilisk Station

On Basilisk Station

Review by Travis Starnes What if someone took Horatio Hornblower and put him in a sci-fi setting?  What you would get is a one of the best military sci-fi books I have read.  Weber has morphed the character into Honor Harrington and made her the captain of a Starship, but you still get a headstrong, duty bound, extremely competent naval officer that C.S. Foster would recognize. The setting itself is a big strength of On Basilisk Station.  Weber has done an excellent job of fleshing out his universe and you can feel the detail everywhere the characters go.  The way the space travel and technology work feel well researched and plausible.  While this isn’t hard sci-fi everything that happens does not break the realm of believability.  While the filled out nature of the world is a benefit for me it also leads to one of the few complaints I hear… Read more »

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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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