The Legend of Drizzt 25th Anniversary Edition, Book I

The Legend of Drizzt 25th Anniversary Edition, Book I

Review by Andy The first of the Drizzt Do’Urden trilogies is quite good. Parts of the plot are a bit slow but it is good overall. Drizzt’s and Zaknafein’s characters are very interesting in contrast to the rest of the drows, who find pleasure in killing, especially killing and not getting caught. Then when Drizzt moves to the surface and finds the prejudiced hatred of the surface people. The plot has exciting chases and battles, which fill up most of the book, as well as interesting parts about drow society, with Drizzt growing up in a world going against his principles. Getting into the book is confusing with the battle, since you have no idea what is going on or why, but soon enough it gets good. Also, the part when Drizzt first gets to the surface is not as good, as well as the part with the illithids. The… Read more »

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Ex-Purgatory

Ex-Purgatory

Review by Travis Starnes Ex-Purgatory starts you in the middle of a story already in progress with characters you should already know but who don’t seem to know themselves.  If you have read the previous volumes in this series then this book has an interesting opening that should keep you riveted.  If, like me, this is your entrance into the series then you will spend the first 30% of the book trying to figure out what the heck is going on. To be fair this clearly was not intended to be a place for new readers to pick up the series and the book makes no qualms about it.  There are really two ways you can go with a series, the stand alone approach where each book resents for new readers and each installment works unto itself or the episodic approach where each title builds on what came before it. … Read more »

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When Soldiers Fall

When Soldiers Fall

Review by Travis Starnes Since Vietnam the public discourse of casualties has become a major issue in American politics but it has been something examined and considered for since the first casualty reporting during World War I.  When Soldiers Fall examines how the government has dealt with the issue of military casualties and the reporting of casualties to the public. Often when a book examines a very minute and specific area of public policy I expect something more academic then geared for entertainment.  That was my expectation when coming into When Soldiers Fall and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  While there was clearly a lot of in-depth research done for this book Casey does an excellent job of presenting his data and thoughts on the subject in a very conversational and accessible manner.  The book flows very well and is a fast and easy read if you… Read more »

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Secret Prey

Secret Prey

Review by Travis Starnes Secret Prey is the 9th book in the Lucas Davenport series and this time he is trying to find out why the CEO of a bank was murdered.   While the main plotline follows this search for truth we also have the fallout of Lucas’s troubled relationship with Weather and the personal drama that comes with it. Davenport books come in two flavors, adventure/thriller style and mystery.  The adventure/thriller style books we already know who the villain is and even most of their motive.  In those it is more about the chase between the crook and Davenport rather than a mystery.  Then there are the books that are mystery, or at least semi-mystery, where the reader has to figure out who the criminal is along with Davenport.  Secret Prey, as the name might imply, definitely falls in that second camp.  Not only do you not know who… Read more »

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Call of the Wild

Call of the Wild

Review by Andy Call of the Wild is one of the best classics I’ve ever read. That isn’t much considering I don’t like many classics and that I haven’t read many, but it’s up there with Sherlock Holmes. I even liked it better than Jules Verne which I thought was pretty good. The beginning is a bit boring, but it gets a lot better as the story progresses. The characters are good enough, and overall, it’s not a bad book. There aren’t really any strong characters except the main character Buck. Spitz is as well but other than those two there aren’t very many stand outs. The incident with Thornton’s bragging – Buck’s favorite master – was an interesting and shows of why you shouldn’t brag. Buck is odd since he strives to be leader, and to prove he’s better than everyone else, yet he is from the “soft” south… Read more »

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Fear Nothing

Fear Nothing

Review by Travis Starnes Fear Nothing is the 7th book in the D.D. Warren series and follows her on the track of a gruesome serial killer and recovery from an excruciating injury.  As seems to be the trend lately this is a book in the middle of a series that I am coming into cold.  Luckily this is another one that works without having read the previous adventures of Detective Warren. As characters go Gardner’s seem fairly aggressive, which isn’t unusual for detective style mysteries, but it does make them a lot less likable.  It is hard to tell if this is an offshoot of the story, seeing as how a character sidelined because of a debilitating and extremely painful injury would indeed be very angry and aggressive, or if this is just her way of writing characters.  Regardless the continuing characters get enough of an introduction to be fully… Read more »

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Hive Monkey

Hive Monkey

Review by Travis Starnes With Zeppelins, a gun touting monkey, some cross dimensional hygienic, Neanderthal assassins, and a cult made of hive-mind connected creeps, Hive Monkey really throws a lot of stuff at a reader.  This alternate earth sci-fi story set in almost present day on a world that took a different path then our own. I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started this book.  I had never heard of the series and the only reason I picked it was l loved the cover.  Turns out it is the second in a series about Ack-Ack Macaque, an up-evolved monkey that curses, smokes, and flies a Spitfire to relax.  While I enjoyed this book I did find it a little bit difficult to get into.  I think I might have been about to get into it more, and even enjoyed it more, had I read the… Read more »

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The Invisible Code

The Invisible Code

Review by Travis Starnes The Invisible Code is a classic detective style mystery turned on its head by the addition of the mystic and the supernatural, but not really. I will start by saying the overall core mystery in this book isn’t bad.  It has some interesting twists to it, although the “ah-ha” moment where the facts are reveled do not stand up to scrutiny of the original passages of past events.  When the “real” way an event in the book went down is revealed, it in really doesn’t resemble what the reader actually experienced.  That however isn’t too big of detraction since that is not so unusual in mystery books and it is the journey and not the re-read that is the real test of a book. My big issue with this book is the detectives specialize in puzzling murders and during the investigation put up all sorts of… Read more »

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Interview with John Gwynne

Interview with John Gwynne

Interview by Travis Starnes John Gwynne, author of the fantasy novel Malice and it’s upcoming sequel Valor, was nice enough to connect with me and agree to my request for an interview about his book and the rich world he created for it. One thing that I found interesting was that while this is an old school fantasy novel it isn’t in the wizards and orc school of fantasy that we see so often. What was your inspiration for the style of this? Did you intend for it be unique from the standard style of fantasy or was that just a coincidence? The short answer is that I tried to write something that I love, and I love reading fantasy and historical fiction, so I wanted Malice to reflect something of both those passions. I didn’t have a game plan with Malice, it started as a hobby, evolving from very… Read more »

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Hammett Unwritten

Hammett Unwritten

Review by Travis Starnes Hammett Unwritten is an interesting take on the author and his creation.  It starts with the premise that the events in the Maltese Falcon were autobiographical and that Sam Spade was in fact Hammett himself. I have to give this book points for uniqueness.  I haven’t read a novel quite like this and considering how many books, and specifically mysteries, I read that is saying something.  The book takes meta to a whole new place and for that I commend Fitzstephen.  If you are knowledgeable about Hammett himself then this book might be tough to read as it completely recreates the author’s life and experiences.  However if you only know him from his works then this book is a unique mystery worth checking out. There is however some reliance on knowing the original works.  If you haven’t read any of Hammett’s books then first, shame on… Read more »

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