September 29, 2016

Blood Red Tide by James Axler

Title:  Blood Red Tide
Author:  James Axler
Pages:  316
Genre:  Action / Adventure, Science Fiction
Publisher:  Golden Eagle, 2014
Series:  Deathlands, Book 119


In a nuclear wasteland where death and destruction are the norm, Ryan Cawdor and his fellow survivors seek out refuge while looking to one another for protection. Civilization no longer exists in the barren Deathlands. There is only the will to survive and the dim hope of a promised land.


Taken captive on a ship in the former Caribbean, Ryan and his companions must work as part of the crew or perish at the hands of the captain. But the mutant in charge of the vessel is the least of their worries. Each day is a struggle as they face rivalry among the sailors, violent attacks and deadly storms. Worse, a powerful enemy is hunting the ship to destroy everyone on board. Fighting for their lives and those of their shipmates, the companions must find unity within the chaos or die in the attempt.

Review:  This book is one of the better recent additions to the series.  I found a new character to love.  Mr. Squid will not likely continue in the series, but he's an incredible, intelligent, loyal octopus and I really like him.  Except he's actually a female, but that's part of the story and I won't give too much of it away.

I started this series back in 2009.  I was so enchanted that I read a huge number of the books nearly back to back.  I finished the first 90 books in 2009, I know that much.  Of course, back then, I was reading about 160 books a year.  Obviously, that's not the case any longer.  And since then, it's been waiting for the next one to come out and (sometimes) being disappointed when they did.

Even when I'm not disappointed, the stories just seem to take too long to read for the number of pages.  But, I'm almost done now.  I'm not giving up, not on something I've been reading this long.  However, I doubt I'll read any more this year.  I don't have the time to spend on them, not with so many challenges to be finished.

Back to the story itself.  This one was really terrific!  Even though it took a week to read, I loved the story line.

Rating:  8.5 / 10

September 23, 2016

Peacemaker by C. J. Cherryh

Title:  Peacemaker
Author:  C. J. Cherryh
Pages:  376
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  DAW, 2014
Series:  Foreigner, Book 15

Synopsis:  Civil war on the world of the atevi is finally over. And Cajeiri, son and heir of Tabini-aiji, atevi leader of the dominant Western Association, is about to celebrate his fortunate ninth birthday. Bren Cameron, brilliant human diplomat allied with Tabini, has managed to arrange a visit for Cajeiri’s three special associates from the starship Phoenix—ordinary human children who developed a bond with Cajeiri during his two years in space.

After a year of political upheaval, this is a happy event: the heir is safe, the aiji is back in power, and a massive celebration is planned in the capital. The whole world is watching.

But Bren Cameron has received evidence that security has been severely compromised from the aiji’s high office on downward. The powerful Assassins’ Guild—which provides the judicial system, law enforcement, and personal protection in atevi society—is in the hands of a man who would like to turn the entire world back two centuries.

Bren now knows the details of a decades-old plot that’s been threaded through Guild actions since before his arrival on the continent. The enemy’s best chance is to strike now, at the public celebration that is much too important and far too advanced to cancel.

Review:  This book had such a great ending!  There were some scary and exciting moments, but at the end it all worked out very nicely.  I'm sad, though, because I've got some waiting to do before I can read any more of this series.  The author is still working on the last book of the next trilogy and I don't have the first two yet.

I guess now I have no choice, not that I really want one.  I simply must get the first books from this series that I'm missing.  I have the time to reread them all, possibly before I get the newest books.

Rating:  9.5 / 10

September 19, 2016

Protector by C. J. Cherryh

Title:  Protector
Author:  C. J. Cherryh
Pages:  375
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  DAW, 2013
Series:  Foreigner, Book 14

Synopsis:  It's coming up on Cajeiri's birthday. The boy has been promised he can have the young human children he knew from his voyage sent down from the space station for a two week stay. But there's far a darker business going on in the background--a major split compromising the Assassins' Guild, which furnishes security and law enforcement to the whole continent. Tabini's consort's own father has been barred from court, and may be involved in a new conspiracy against him. For safety reasons, Tabini wants Bren and Ilisidi to take charge of Cajeiri, and protect him and his young guests. They themselves are very likely targets of whatever's going on, no question of it. So is Cajeiri. But having the targets separated and contained is an advantage. It's Bren's responsibility to entertain the guests, keep the security problem secret...and let a lonely eight-year-old prince reestablish his controversial relationship with the only other children he's ever met...inside the best security they can manage.

Review:  The atevi.  I love them and they would never understand that.  To them, the word 'love' doesn't apply to people.  They can love salad, but they cannot love each other.  The human word 'friend' is not at all the same as the atevi word 'associate'.  Man'chi, the driving force in the atevi lives, has no direct translation into the human language.  It's something like loyalty, but more instinctual in a way humans cannot comprehend.  Even speaking of these words and their differences can cause discomfort and trouble between the species.

Yet, young Cajeiri has spoken about these things with his human associates.  They have not reached complete understanding, but have come to accept their differences.  These are children, but I believe they will change the entire atevi/human relationship.  They are the future.

Meanwhile, my favorite characters remain and I so enjoy these stories.

Rating:  9.5 / 10

September 14, 2016

Intruder by C. J. Cherryh

Title:  Intruder
Author:  C. J. Cherryh
Pages:  374
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  DAW, 2012
Series:  Foreigner, Book 13

Synopsis:  In the wake of civil war, Bren Cameron, the brilliant human diplomat of the alien atevi civilization, has left the capital and sought refuge at his country estate, Najida. But now he is trapped inside Najida-which has been surrounded by enemies- with the powerful grandmother of his ally, Tabini-aiji, atevi leader of the Western Association. Ilisidi, the aiji-dowager, is not inclined to be passive and sends Bren into enemy territory, to the palace of the leader of the rebels. Bren's mission is to negotiate with Machigi-a young atevi lord who has never actually seen a human-and somehow persuade him to cease his hostile actions against the west. Is Bren a shrewd enough negotiator to stay alive, and not alienate Ilisidi or Tabini, while also representing the interests of their enemy?

Review:  I love this series.  It is my very favorite science fiction series of all time.  I used to own the complete set, but I lost all of them in a move.  I've now decided to get all 12 books that I no longer have.  I could start from the beginning again.  I'd love that!  I read the first book in the mid-90's and still wait impatiently for the next installment.

The characters are all so wonderful - from Bren to Jago to Banichi to Ilisidi.  All of them.  I love the Atevi and I love their culture.  Each story is exciting and impossible to put down.....and each has a completely original storyline that continues the saga.

This series is done in sets of trilogies.  Thank goodness, I have the next two that go with this one!

Rating:  10 / 10

September 10, 2016

Greenmantle by Charles de Lint

Title:  Greenmantle
Author:  Charles de Lint
Pages:  327
Genre:  Fantasy / Thriller
Publisher:  ACE, 1988
Series:  Stand Alone
He has always been a reflection of what one brings to him.
Synopsis:  Not far from the city there is an ancient wood, forgotten by the modern world, where Mystery walks in the moonlight. He wears the shape of a stag, or a goat, or a horned man wearing a cloak of leaves. He is summoned by the music of the pipes or a fire of bones on Midsummer's Evening. He is chased by the hunt and shadowed by the wild girl.

Review:  What an extraordinary book!  It's like The Godfather was combined with an incredible, magical story of the mysteries that surround us.  The main characters are wonderful:  Tony, the retired mob hitman; Frankie, the divorced mother with a gift for choosing the wrong men; Ali, Frankie's daughter, who is wise beyond her fourteen years; and Mally, the little mystery who is trying so very hard to do the right thing.  The secondary characters, both good and bad, are equally well-drawn.  And then there's The Mystery - call him Pan, call him the Green Man, call him Greenmantle.  It doesn't matter.  He is part of us and we are part of him....and he is at the heart of the magic and mystery that is life.

Rating:  9.5 / 10

September 5, 2016

Serpent's Reach by C. J. Cherryh

Title:  Serpent's Reach
Author:  C. J. Cherryh
Pages:  287
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  DAW, 1980
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  The constellation of Hydri, known as the Serpent, is compact and obscure from Earth and remained so in the era of interstellar colonization. For it was under strict quarantine--harboring an intelligent race, powerful and alien. Yet there were human colonies within the Serpent's Reach, cut off from the galaxy beyond, with their own inbred culture and their special relationships to the inhuman majat.

 This is the novel of Raen, the last of the massacred Sul Family, and of her lifetime pledge to find vengeance. It was to take her across the worlds of the Reach into the very center of the alien webwork that knit the forbidden constellation into a complex of interbred cultures that no outsider could hope to unravel.

Review:  The majat are awesome, intelligent, and very large ant-like creatures.  Their hive-mind cannot fathom our individuality.  Our lack of continuance disturbs them profoundly.  The life in the hive is drawn from what I can only assume is in-depth research into the life of these types of creatures.  This author has, in her Humanx Commonweath series, explored another ant-like creature, the Thranx.  The majat seemed more realistic to me, not quite anywhere near as 'human' as the Thranx.

There are three classes of humans in the Reach:  the Kontrin, who are descendants of the first travelers to Hydri; the Betas who are descendants of the eggs that were brought along on the voyage; and the Azi, who are clones, created by the Betas to do the majority of the work.

The Kontrin are immortal.  The Betas live what we would consider normal lifespans.  The Azi are genetically altered to automatically die at the age of 40.  The majat have a hive memory that spans millions of years.

Between the obvious societal problems with the human faction in Hydri and the complete inability for the humans and majat to truly understand each other, it makes for an interesting and exciting story.  Toss in Raen's master plan to change the entire Reach and I was hooked.  I've so been needing a really great science fiction tale.  I found it.  This was superb.

Rating:  10 / 10

September 4, 2016

Start of September Wrap-Up

Better late than never!  This wrap-up runs from July 15 through today.  I'm struggling just a little bit.  I've been choosing books that are taking a really long time to finish.  I'm not sure I'll ever meet my new goal for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge, but I'll sure try.  Plus, I met my original goal, so that counts for something!!

But, I have completed two new challenges -- 20 Books of Summer and Flights of Fantasy!  That's a total of 14 ~ only 2 more to go to complete the Reading Challenge Addict!!

I loved Moonheart by Charles de Lint the very best this time around!

Eight new states for the Around the World Reading Challenge for a total of 35!  This has become one of  my very favorite challenges!

I'm really feeling blessed this year.  I have plenty of time to read and plenty of wonderful books to choose from.

September 2, 2016

Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror edited by Ellen Datlow

Title:  Darkness:  Two Decades of Modern Horror
Author:  Various (Edited by Ellen Datlow)
Pages:  470
Genre:  Horror
Publisher:  Tachyon, 2010
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  Compiling the finest in frightening tales, this unique anthology offers a diverse selection of horror culled from the last 25 years. Hand selected from cutting edge authors, each work blends subtle psychology and mischievousness with disturbingly visceral imagery. In the classic "Chattery Teeth," Stephen King provides a tautly drawn account of a traveling salesman who unwisely picks up yet another hitchhiker, while in Peter Straub's eerie "The Juniper Tree," a man whose nostalgia for the movies of his childhood leads to his stolen innocence. Renowned fantasy author George R. R. Martin weaves a sinister yarn about a young woman encountering a neighbor who is overly enamored with her in "The Pear-Shaped Man." Combining acclaimed masters of the macabre, such as Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite, and Thomas Ligotti, with bold new talents to the genre including, Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King's son, Joe Hill, this distinctive collection of stories will delight and terrify.

Review:  Twenty-five short stories, all published between 1984 and 2005 and written by some of the best-loved authors of our times.  Stephen King, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, and George R. R. Martin, just to name a few.

I wanted to love all of the stories.  I loved a few of them.  I liked a few of them.  The rest?  Well, they just weren't scary.  They were odd and different and interesting, but not scary.  But, fear is subjective and individual, so perhaps the stories I didn't find frightening would frighten someone else.

My favorites were The Power and the Passion by Pat Cadigan and The Pear-Shaped Man by George R. R. Martin.  I'd read the story by Stephen King already and, while I did enjoy it, it's not his best short story.

It was a long book and not a quick read, but I am glad I read it.  I'd give it a higher rating, but some of the stories were just bizarre and gross, but not at all scary.

Rating:  6 / 10
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