The War That Ended Peace

The War That Ended Peace

Review by Travis Starnes The War that Ended Peace looks at the pre-war politics that lead up to World War I.  It examines in detail the politicians and military leaders, notable events and attitudes of those involved and how a world that seemed set on a lasting peace fell into one of the bloodiest conflicts the world has ever seen. McMillan is both a talented research and historian as well as a skilled writer, a combination that you really appreciate when you later read a history book where only half that equation is true. My first impression of the book is that he made some interesting conclusions.  Other fairly notable works on the period talk about how eager many of the leaders were to go to war, and how many saw it as a forgone conclusion.  Her focus on the various peace movements and beliefs of many that it was… Read more »

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Tell Me When I’m Dead

Tell Me When I’m Dead

Review by Travis Starnes Tell Me When I’m Dead is a fairly straightforward zombie tale of a small down overrun by the undead.  I am both the perfect audience for this book and a somewhat biased reviewer because I read lot of zombie fiction and love the genre.  This book does several things right with the genre and a bunch of things wrong. I will start by saying the book is competently written.  The zombie outbreak and how it works is all well-reasoned and the books pacing is solid.  Following the main character David through the various hurdles he faces in living in this world and keeping his family together is totally liner and not hard to follow.  I liked the addition of the military contractor akin to Black Water and the local opposition to them.  The one problem with zombie fiction is it tends to become a one track… Read more »

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The Garden of Stones

The Garden of Stones

Review by Travis Starnes The first book in the Echoes of Empire series, The Garden of Stones is an epic story of a civil war, a madman’s vicious path to power and the noble warrior that stands in his way. The description of the book made me eager to get a copy and start reading.  I have to say from the outset you can tell how intent Mark Barnes is to build this world.  It is obvious on every page how much care and detail he put into the world, the politics, the people and the language.  Generally I admire when an author really builds out the world the story is set in.  For me it is what elevates The Lord of the Rings from a good read to an amazing novel and the keystone all fantasy books should follow. Unfortunately, Barnes does not successfully pull of the world building the way Tolkien did. … Read more »

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Abominable Science!

Abominable Science!

Review by Travis Starnes Abominable Science is a look at several major staples of cryptozoology (read that as the study of Bigfoot, Loche Ness and the like) by two experts, one a scientist the other a professional skeptic.  The authors tag team throughout the book with one author taking up Bigfoot for example while the other looking at the Loche Ness Monster. I find the area of cryptozoology infinitely fascinating.  Although I am a non-believer in such things, the myths, history and legends behind the seemingly endless search for these creatures is like the very best Saturday afternoon television.   While one is a scientist and the other is clearly versed in the science behind these claims, this is more of a historic and anthropological examination and debunking of the myths.  They spend a lot of time talking about how the claims came about, the morphing of the legends and the… Read more »

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Lincoln in the World

Lincoln in the World

Review by Travis Starnes Lincoln in the World looks at an area generally ignored by most of the books on one of the US’s most famous presidents.  The book examines Lincoln’s foreign policy and his place in global diplomacy; specifically how his actions on the world stage kept foreign governments from recognizing the Confederacy or stepping in on the side of the south. When I heard about this book I was intrigued.  There have been a lot of books written about President Lincoln and I feel like I have read most of them.  So I was happy to hear about an angle on the president I had not read before.  Getting into the book it became clear Peraino certainly did his research.  The world of international diplomacy can get pretty convoluted real fast and he manages to steer the reader through that world effectively. I particularly liked how he decided to… Read more »

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Undead Chaos

Undead Chaos

Review by Travis Starnes Undead Chaos is set in a world where the mystical and supernatural are real and live side by side with the “normal” world.  It follows the wayward son of one of the great magical houses as he gets pulled into a mystery that will rock the entire supernatural community. I will start by saying I generally am not a fan of the urban fantasy genre.  I have been talked into reading several of the major works in the genre and almost universally disliked all of them.  Thankfully this book broke that streak, although maybe that is because it didn’t step on the same landmines that so many of the books in this genre hit.  Most importantly this isn’t a romance novel dressed up to be science fiction or fantasy.  It is closer to a fantasy novel dressed up as a mystery, a fusion of two genres… Read more »

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Parasite

Parasite

Review by Travis Starnes Parasite really took me off guard.  It is the story of a future where humans have purposely made themselves hosts to a genetically modified species of Tapeworm.  Everything seems great until the parasites start getting restless, then things get interesting. I was really unsure what to make of this book.  Even after reading the back of the book I wasn’t sure if it was a mystery, sci-fi or horror story.  Turns out it is a little of all three.  Something I didn’t know going in, but I think most readers should be warned about before reading it, is this is part one of a larger story.  The book ends on a solid cliff hanger, which honestly killed me.  By the end of the book I was totally invested in what was going on and when I flipped the page and found the afterward and a “to… Read more »

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Fire Base Illingworth

Fire Base Illingworth

Review by Travis Starnes Fire Base Illingworth looks at one small area of the Vietnam conflict, focusing on an assault on an American Firebase near the Cambodian border.  The book is a straight up history but told in a very narrative style that I have always felt works for this narrowly focused type of history. The author clearly has an affinity for this area of the war and this is not his first history about it.  He previously wrote a book about a small conflict just days before the events in Fire Base Illingworth and involving some of the same men.  If anything this book is a continuation of that previous work, although he does a good job recapping the events of his previous book for readers not familiar with it. Keith’s writing is excellent and he clearly has talent as a military historian, a very specific skill set to… Read more »

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Combat Doctor

Combat Doctor

Review by Travis Starnes Combat Doctor was written by a Canadian doctor who served in one of the field hospitals in Afghanistan and details his experiences.  I will say up front that I am really impressed by what these guys do and was really looking forward to reading this book.  I have read several war memoirs from both support (medical, etc.) and front line soldiers and generally always enjoy these types of books. This is essentially Dauphin’s thoughts on the war told in a series of events and anecdotes.  There are some scenes that you can’t help but be affected by, such as the story near the beginning of the book about the guy trying to save his kids arm.  As far as it being a glimpse into the world of the military field hospital, the book is brutally honest about what really happens to soldiers. While the events can… Read more »

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The Heavens Rise

The Heavens Rise

Review by Travis Starnes With how direct and clear they make story synopsis these days it is rare I am surprised with the direction a book takes, but The Heavens Rise took some turns I didn’t see coming.  I did noticed when I started reading this book it was tagged by the author as both a Mystery and Science Fiction, yet by the time I was half way through I was pretty sure it was just a mystery.  It is the tale of a small group of contemporaries, I won’t say friends since they aren’t all so friendly, and a tragedy that affects their lives. This book is written very well.  Christopher Rice manages to create tension and suspense expertly, even in situations that aren’t themselves very suspenseful.  This isn’t a horror story and there isn’t a killer lurking around the corner but Rice creates the same tension that you… Read more »

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