July 19, 2017

The Jewel in the Skull by Michael Moorcock

Title:  The Jewel in the Skull
Author:  Michael Moorcock
Pages:  128
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  The History of the Runestaff, Book 1

Synopsis:  Those who dare swear by the Runestaff must then benefit or suffer from the consequences of the fixed pattern of destiny that they set in motion. Several such oaths have been sworn in the history of the Runestaff's existence... - The High History of the Runestaff.

Dorian Hawkmoon, late the Duke of Koln, fell under the power of the Runestaff, a mysterious artifact more ancient than Time itself. His destiny, shaped by a vengeful oath sworn by the maddened Baron Meliadus of the Dark Empire, pitted Hawkmoon in battle against his own allies and forced him, by the Black Jewel embedded in his skull, to betray his very heritage.

Review:  This book is actually part of the larger Moorcock universe of The Eternal Champion.  I've read other novels from this universe, but this quartet of books is completely about one Champion in particular, Dorian Hawkmoon, with some scenes also including Count Brass, another Champion.

Dorian travels across the area that used to be Europe, finally ending up in Persia.  The Dark Empire is chasing him every step of the way.  This story was fun and exciting, full of sorcery and science all mixed together in this post-nuclear version of our world.  It was fun to read and very short.  I'm already starting on the next in the series.

Rating:  7 / 10

July 17, 2017

End Day by James Axler

Title:  End Day
Author:  James Axler
Pages:  315
Genre:  Action / Adventure, Sci-Fi
Series:  Deathlands #122

Synopsis:
TIME WARPED
Ryan Cawdor and his six companions struggle to survive postnuclear America, a grim new world where hope for the future is lost amid the devastation.

APOCALYPSE REDUX
In pursuit of a hardened enemy - Magus - Ryan and the companions find themselves in a land more foreign than any they've encountered. After unwittingly slipping through a time hole, the group lands in twentieth-century New York City, getting their first glimpse of predark civilization. And they're not sure they like it. Only Mildred and Doc can appreciate this strange metropolis, but Armageddon is just seventy-two hours away, and Magus will stop at nothing to make sure Ryan and his team are destroyed on Nuke Day?

Review:  Well, this was a really great story!  The nuclear holocaust happened on January 20, 2001.  Ryan and his companions are shot back in time to January 19, 2001, right into the heart of New York City.

They have to escape in time and try to stop the really bad guy, Magus.  It was fun, having Ryan and his group visit a time before the nukecaust.  The excitement (and violence) kept coming and it wasn't until the very end of this book that I knew how it would turn out.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

July 13, 2017

Gauntlgrym by R. A. Salvatore

Title:  Gauntlgrym
Author:  R. A. Salvatore
Pages:  345
Genre:  Fantasy
Series:  Legend of Drizzt, Book 23

Synopsis:  Drizzt joins Bruenor on his quest for the fabled dwarven kingdom of Gauntlgrym: ruins said to be rich with ancient treasure and arcane lore. But before they even get close, another drow and dwarf pair stumbles across it first: Jarlaxle and Athrogate.

In their search for treasure and magic, Jarlaxle and Athrogate inadvertently set into motion a catastrophe that could spell disaster for the unsuspecting people of the city of Neverwinter—a catastrophe big enough to lure even the mercenary Jarlaxle into risking his own coin and skin to stop it. Unfortunately, the more they uncover about the secret of Gauntlgrym, the more it looks like they can’t stop it on their own. They’ll need help, and from the last people they ever thought to fight alongside again: Drizzt and Bruenor.

Review:  This series is very good.  I've enjoyed it up until now.  I think I waited too long to continue the series.  I read book 22 in 2010.  It took a while to get the next few books and then, by the time I had them, I had other books I wanted to read.  Now, I've just lost interest in Drizzt Do'Urden and his adventures.  I've forgotten too much of the back story and just found myself not all that interested.

I've taken the remaining three books from this series off my TBR and I won't be trying to get the rest.  For me, it's just time to part ways with the brave and exciting drow named Drizzt.  He sure was fun while it lasted though.

Rating:  6.5 / 10

July 7, 2017

Mount TBR Checkpoint #2

Well, I'm just over half way there!  I think I'm actually going to make it!  29 out of 48 and still half the year to go!

Revelation by C.J. Sansom and Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay are both mysteries.  I loved them both!  Picnic at Hanging Rock was my first book by Joan Lindsay and it's set in Australia, a place I've always wanted to visit!!

I have read FOUR books all purchased on March 1, 2008 so far.  The most recent one of these is The Prophet of Akhran by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman.

1.  My ex was/is:  a Trouble Magnet (Alan Dean Foster)
2.  My best friend is:  Song of Susannah (Stephen King)
3.  Lately at Work:  I've had to deal with Zombies and Other Unpleasant Things (William Bebb)
4.  If I Won the Lottery:  I'd buy The House of Bairn (Thomas K. Martin)
5.  My Fashion Sense:  makes more sense By the Light of the Moon (Dean Koontz)
6.  My Next Ride:  will be Big Trouble (Dave Barry)
7.  The One I Love is:  Flinx Transcendent (Alan Dean Foster)
8.  If I Ruled the World. I Would:  think it was A Time of Madness (Thomas K. Martin)
9.  When I Look Out My Window, I:  see Beauty (Sheri S. Tepper)
10.  The Best Things in Life are:  told by The Storyteller (Jodi Picoult)

Once Upon an Autumn Eve by Dennis L. McKiernan

Title:  Once Upon an Autumn Eve
Author:  Dennis L. McKiernan
Pages:  378
Genre:  Fantasy, Romance
Series:  Faery Series, Book 3

Synopsis:  Based loosely on the fairy tale of the Glass Mountain and the Scottish ballad of Tam Lin

Once upon an autumn eve, a wounded knight named Sieur Luc rides into the Autumnwood - and into the heart of Princess Liaze. But even as love blooms between them, dark forces snatch him away. Guided by the enigmatic Fates, Liaze sets out on a desperate quest to follow the trail of her true love no matter what perils she may encounter.

Review:  This series is one of the very few romance series I read.  These books are full of wonderful fantasy settings and characters.  I love that each of the books is a lengthy retelling of one (or more) fairy tales.

This story was quite good.  It's not the best one of the series, but it is good.

Rating:  7.5 / 10

June 29, 2017

Hive Invasion by James Axler

Title:  Hive Invasion
Author:  James Axler
Pages:  316
Genre:  Action / Adventure, Sci-Fi
Series:  Deathlands #121

Synopsis:
DUST DWELLERS

Seeking refuge in a post-Armageddon America, Ryan Cawdor and his crew of misfits travel together for survival and sanity. Known as Deathlands, this lawless hellscape is defined by destruction, death and despair. Only those who persevere with the belief in a better future stand a chance in this world where each day brings a new, and potentially lethal, struggle.

HARNESSED MINDS

Desperate to find water and shelter on the barren plains of former Oklahoma, Ryan and his team come upon a community that appears, at first, to be peaceful. Then the ville is attacked by a group of its own inhabitants—people infected with a parasite that has turned them into slave warriors for an unknown overlord. The companions try to help fend off the enemy and protect the remaining population, but when Ryan is captured during a second ambush, all hope seems lost. Especially when he launches an assault against his own crew.

Review:  I've seen these books called "serial novels" and "a stupid men's action series" online and I disagree and am even a bit offended.

The front cover of this novel shows one of the main characters, Krysty Wroth.  Sure, she's eye candy for the men who assuredly read this series.  Yes, she and her long-time lover, Ryan, have fairly descriptive sex scenes in nearly every book.  She's also tough and smart and, while she's probably not exactly role-model material, I'd like to be a lot more like her.

Today, while I was reading on my lunch break outside work, a guy walked by and asked what I was reading.  I said, "A really good book!".  He asked (a little snidely), "Oh, one of those girl books?".  I assume he meant a mushy romance.  I really wouldn't know, since I've never been one of those girls.  I told him it had gun fights and lots of violence.  He looked shocked and then muttered something about that being nice and backed away.  Hah!  I smiled for the rest of the day.

Guess I should really talk about the story now.  It's about a group of parasitic slug things that can take control of a human.  Think Aliens meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers and you'll get some idea of what I mean.  It was gross and scary but ended on a positive note.  There's no happily ever after in these books, but this one had as close as they get.  Another of the goodies!!

Rating:  8 / 10

June 27, 2017

Polestar Omega by James Axler

Title:  Polestar Omega
Author:  James Axler
Pages:  314
Genre:  Action / Adventure, Sci-Fi
Series:  Deathlands #120

Synopsis:
ARMAGEDDON'S NOMADS

Banded together to survive, Ryan Cawdor and his companions travel the barren wastelands of a post-nuclear world. There are no laws in Deathlands—only fear, destruction and annihilation. As each day brings a new struggle, this group journeys toward the shaky promise of sanctuary.

COLD WAR

Ryan and his friends become the subjects in a deadly experiment when they're taken captive inside a redoubt at the South Pole. A team of scientists is convinced the earth must be purified of mutants, and now they have the perfect lab rats to test their powerful bioweapon. Within Antarctica's harsh and unstable conditions, the companions must fight the odds and take down the whitecoats before millions are killed. But in this uncompromising landscape, defeating the enemy may be just another step toward a different kind of death….

Review:  One-hundred and twenty books later and I still love this series.  The guns, the action, the blood and gore, and the same main characters I've come to know and love makes this hands-down the longest series I've ever read.

This one is set in Antarctica and between the icy cold and the 300-pound mutant penguins, it is a great deal of fun indeed (and a little scary, truth be told!).  There's also a group of scientists and soldiers who are descendants of the people who were there when the nuclear bombs fell on the entire world.  Interbred and believing that they are the last 'unmutated' humans in existence, they are pretty awful examples of humanity.

These books aren't always great, but this one was.  Finished it way too quickly and I'm hankering for more so I've already selected #121 for my next read.

Rating:  8 / 10

June 25, 2017

Big Trouble by Dave Barry

Title:  Big Trouble
Author:  Dave Barry
Pages:  292
Genre:  Comedy / Thriller
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  Dave Barry makes his fiction debut with a ferociously funny novel of love and mayhem in south Florida.

Review:  This book had me laughing out loud while sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what happened next.  There are so many great characters.  Puggy, the homeless drunk who works at a bar run by Russian gun runners and who just happens to fall in love with a housemaid named Nina.  Nina is an illegal alien of Hispanic descent and she loves Puggy back.  Then, we have Eliot, the failing advertising agent whose ex-wife is getting a little tired of him being behind on his support checks.  Eliot falls in love with Anna, who is married to a man who may be the largest ass in the continental United States.  Seriously, the list goes on but I won't give the other truly hilarious people away.

Add to the great cast a suitcase sized nuclear bomb, an airplane, and some goats and the story just gets funnier and scarier.  It holds onto the laughs and the nail biting until the very end, all at the same time.  Set in Miami, it is just about the perfect book to sit down with and finish in an afternoon (at the beach, even!).  It took me longer than that but that's my fault.

I have just realized this book was made into a movie with Tim Allen starring as Eliot.  Oh, I am absolutely going to watch it!  I'll wait a while though because it cannot possibly be as good as this book was.

Rating:  10 / 10

June 23, 2017

Flinx Transcendent by Alan Dean Foster

Title:  Flinx Transcendent
Author:  Alan Dean Foster
Pages:  398
Genre:  Science Fiction
Series:  The Humanx Commonwealth, Book 26

Synopsis:  From one of the most brilliant imaginations in science fiction comesFlinx Transcendent, Alan Dean Foster’s thrilling conclusion to the series that began over thirty-five years ago–the epic adventures of Flinx and his flying minidrag companion, Pip.

Flinx is the only one with even the tiniest chance of stopping the evil colossus barreling in to destroy the Humanx Commonwealth (and everything else in the Milky Way). With time running out, Flinx is a man in search of a solution and in search of himself. His efforts take him to the land of his mortal enemies, the bloodthirsty AAnn, where chances are excellent that Flinx’s discovery–and summary execution–will eliminate all his demons and doubts in one masterstroke.

The way Flinx is feeling, that might not be the worst imaginable end. After years of searching for his father, he finally has–and must bear–the truth. And now he must also seek out an ancient sentient weapons platform wandering around somewhere in the galaxy and then communicate with it, a powwow that could very well fry his already frazzled brain. Then there are the oblivion-craving assassins determined to stop Flinx before he can prevent total annihilation.

With a future that rosy, it’s no surprise he’s flirting with disaster. Still, Flinx is no quitter, and he’s got something else going for him–an uncanny ability to improvise and triumph (or at least survive) in impossible situations. He’s certainly been through enough of them, and now he’s going to need every ounce of that know-how, because he’s venturing to places where the laws of physics fear to tread, where no one’s ever been, to do what no one’s ever done, and where his deadliest enemy is so close it’s invisible.

Review:  Finally, I got to find out how Flinx would save the universe.  It's been a long time coming and I'm glad I stayed with this series.  I have two more books set in the same Commonwealth universe, but neither of them involve Flinx.  I'm glad.  I really like the ones that he's not in better.

I understand the author is writing more books about Flinx and what happens after this novel.  I'll be passing on them.  I'm happy with the closure from this book and am not really all that excited about reading more about Flinx.

Like the last book this is solid science fiction, but the main character (Flinx) is just not my favorite.  Not by a long shot.  I will most miss the Thranx.  They are incredible and believable aliens who I'd very much like to meet.  Mr. Foster has created an entire universe full of some of the most wonderful aliens (and humans) out there.  The series is well worth the time.

Oh, and I'll miss Pip.  Who doesn't want an empathic Alaspinian mini-dragon as a pet?

Rating:  7.5 / 10
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