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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-01-17 07:36
War Robot-Manning Persons, Fighting Dukes, and Bioengineered Religious Soldiers — A Review of The Warriors Anthology Edited by G. R. R. Martin
Warriors - George R. R. Martin (Editor), Gardner Dozois (Editor)

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on January 17, 2018.

 

 

The King of Norway by Cecelia Holland

 

3 Stars

A Viking adventure with all the gore and blood that you could ask for. If only I could have been made to care for the characters…

 

Forever Bound by Joe Haldeman

 

3 Stars

Soldiers learning to maneuver robots in the war have to do as part of a hive mind. Pretty soon, real life cannot compare with the virtual one that they lead with the other members of the hive.

 

The Triumph by Megan Lindholm/Robin Hobb

 

 

4 Stars

A retelling of the myth of Marcus Atilius Regulus, a Roman Consul. In the story, he is tortured by Carthaginians before his death. Everything in the story is actually setting up the reader for the way he dies.

 

Clean Slate by Lawrence Block

 

3 Stars

An abused child grows up into a sociopath. You can guess what happens next!

 

And Ministers of Grace by Tad Williams

 

3 Stars

It isn’t that bioengineered soldiers haven’t been done before. Here though the author makes it all about religion.

 

Soldierin’ by Joe R. Lansdale

 

4 Stars

A black man joins the army in the eradication of Native Americans. The story remains localized and makes no claims about the big picture.

 

Dirae by Peter S. Beagle

 

3 Stars

A coma patient becomes an avenging spirit with a special soft place in her heart for kids.

 

The Custom of the Army by Diana Gabaldon

 

4 Stars

I have been wondering if I would like Gabaldon’s writing and I wonder no more. This story is based on a skirmish between the French and English soldiers on Canadian soil.

 

Seven Years from Home by Naomi Novik

 

4 Stars

Nature and “people” come together in this story to save the land. I liked this one because plants featured in it.

 

The Eagle and the Rabbit by Steven Saylor

 

3 Stars

POVs change as we see Carthage fall and a Roman general plays mind games with the Carthaginians he will be selling off to slavery.

 

The Pit by James Clemens/James Rollins

 

4 Stars

Canine gladiators and sibling love made this story one of my faves!

 

Out of the Dark by David Weber

 

4 Stars

An alien race tries to take over the planet and humans band together to stop that from happening. They also have help from the unlikeliest of sources.

 

 

The Girls from Avenger by Carrie Vaughn

 

3 Stars

Women have faced discrimination whenever they have dared to step into a profession. Flying planes during a war isn’t any different.

 

Ancient Ways by S. M. Stirling

 

 

4 Stars

A mercenary is hired to rescue a princess who didn’t really need to be rescued. The princess was a pleasant surprise.

 

Ninieslando by Howard Waldrop

 

3 Stars

A utopian dream to unite the world while a war goes on outside. Didn’t take too long for it to unravel.

 

Recidivist by Gardner Dozois

 

4 Stars

AIs rule the world. Humans don’t stand a chance against them yet they won’t give up fighting back or remembering how life used to be.

 

 

My Name is Legion by David Morrell

 

3 Stars

Sometimes, the enemy on the other side of the border is your friend. In this story, soldiers who trained together are forced to fight against each other when France daren’t go against Germany.

 

Defenders of the Frontier by Robert Silverberg

 

3 Stars

Soldiers have been manning an entry point into their empire for years now. No reinforcements have arrived for some time. The absence of enemies starts to make them think. Does the empire they have been defending even exist anymore?

 

The Scroll by David Ball

 

3 Stars

A bully of an emperor keeps an architect alive just to torture him. The ending was a letdown.

 

The Mystery Knight: A Tale of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin

 

3 Stars

A tale of Egg, the squire who isn’t a squire, and the knight he serves.

 

I’d say, you won’t be missing much if you didn’t read this anthology. But that’s just me…

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review 2018-01-14 02:13
Audio Book Review: Hyperborea
Fantasy Online Hyperborea: A LitRPG Saga... Fantasy Online Hyperborea: A LitRPG Saga - Harmon Cooper,George C. Hopkins,Jeff Hays

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Ryuk and Tamana have gamed together for years. At Tamana's request, they restart with new avatars in Titania. When they logout, Tamana is attacked and Ryuk watches her jump to her death in a train station. Then Ryuk is attacked by a Thulian warrior from the game. He knows it can't be real but seeing it makes it hard to believe. With the help of his human droid bodyguard Ryuk realizes it's not real. There are posts in gaming forums that people have been experiencing this, and dying. Someone's hacking their iNet. Ryuk is determined to warn others he once knew, and spend time with his lost friend in the world of Titania.

Jeff is always a treat for me to listen to. I have high standards going into one of his narrations, and he delivers! I expect to the characters to each have their own voice and life to come through as he acts them. I expect to have the characters easily differentiated in their voices and personalities. I expect to be entertained with the enthusiasm of the narrator. Jeff hits all these points and more with clear audio.

Harmon takes the world we last visited with Quantum and creates it's own series with it. Titania is the perfect world to play with as a spin-off. There are three layers to the world which you can only get to by reaching different levels in your character.

But! We also have a new trouble for the players several years after Quantum and his battles. Their iNet, a program in their eye, is hacked and they are seeing the evils from the world they just logged out of. It's getting them killed! Ryuk is a character that is not going to take this, especially after the girl he's known for years and asked out is now dead because of it.

It's neat how the game world is connected to the real person. See, if the person dies in the real world they will be reborn in their game - RPC (reborn player character).

There are mentions of Quantum and the characters from the original series. This book takes place years after Quantum has been through the game. We hear the name of the guild that Quantum started, Ryuk had been part of that guild before he reset to start over in the game. Then he goes in search of them, leveling up, to tell them what is happening in the world now. Ryuk is determined to help his friend in RPC form as it's the closest thing to her he can get, and wants. Ryuk's wants seem to go against what he should be doing in Titania. But this is his inner conflict with what has happened to his dearest friend. This is something he'll have to work through in order to move on to what the next step is.

We are introduced to Ryuk and his friends and family here. The new problems in the gaming world of Titania is strongly influencing the real world. We learn there is more going on and in the end we are anxious to get to the next book. It felt a bit like a cliffhanger with the leads on Kodai. I want to find out who he's working with and what the next phase is. There is something bigger than Kodai knows going on here, and I want to know what!

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review 2018-01-14 01:26
Audio Book Review: High Fantasy
High Fantasy: (Book Three) (Sci-Fi LitRP... High Fantasy: (Book Three) (Sci-Fi LitRPG Series) (The Feedback Loop 3) - Harmon Cooper,George C. Hopkins

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Jeff returns to continue with the series as narrator. Cool! I've grown to know the voices he's assigned the characters and enjoy the vast cast he can voice in a book with this many characters that speak. Totally mind blowing! It's great to hear. He also has Quantum's personality locked down, along with all the characters we've grown to enjoy. Another amazing job in vocals and audio.

Quantum likes a challenge, like trying to attack and kill with unconventional weapons in the loop. lol. Him and Aiden have a great friendship. I have enjoyed Aiden, aka Morning Assassin from the first book. I'm glad we get to carry on with many of the secondary characters that are created for in games. You wouldn't think they would have personalities, but goodness do they have them. And Quantum's interaction with them brings them to life.

Frances isn't as highly present in this story as previous one. But she still knows how to play Quantum in what needs to be done. In listening to the audio book, we can hear and get the feel of the excitement of Frances on the pain medicines in the hospital. And see her interact with Quantum in the real world. But with her accident and not diving into the loop it opens the opportunity for us to meet and interact with other members of The Dream Team. We do get to spend time with Zedic Woods. Zedic seems rather cool when we meet him. And he's in a band, which we get to "see". I like him thus far.

Oh, the FDA guidelines for foods and drinks. lol. This is terrible. The government regulates types of food and amounts one should eat. Quantum doesn't follow these guidelines and hears about it constantly. It's a continuous battle for him to get what he wants. It would get on my nerves too. I feel Quantum's irritation when he reads these emails as I'm irritated for him.

Other than fighting with the FDA, Quantum seems to be settling into real life. He's not as sassy. He seems to have found the balance in fighting in the Proxima worlds and living. We get to see Quantum interact with more people, and he does well.

I feel we get a closure to one piece of the story with Quantum. With his Proxima world he's lived in for eight years and finding Strata Godsick. This book also leaves open the next mission started here, finding Strata's son. We are left looking forward to the next book with plans of what they are to do.

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review 2018-01-12 01:04
The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future - Dav Pilkey,George Beard,Harold Hutchins
For more reviews, check out my blog Craft-Cycle

There was nothing necessarily wrong with this book. It was entertaining and funny to the degree I expected of a George Beard and Harold Hutchins original.

However, I think Dav Pilkey kind of wrote himself into a box with the Captain Underpants/Super Diaper Baby series. The book greatly lacked the gross-out humor of the other books. It was still good, but I missed that raw disgust I felt when Super Diaper Baby literally fought a piece of poo or when Captain Underpants got eaten by a giant toilet. There was a little, tiny glimmer of gross stuff in this book, but it pretty much just stopped at purely-liquid puking (that really just looked like water). This may sound weird, but as a grown-up, I wanted this book to be grosser.

Having said that, I still liked the story. It was still ridiculous like the others with a weird, all over the place plot. But I would say this one relies more of awesome-ness elements (cavemen, dinosaurs, kung-fu, time travel) than gross-out humor.
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review 2018-01-10 16:49
Lincoln in the Bardo / George Saunders
Lincoln in the Bardo - George Saunders

February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a thrilling, supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory, where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

 

The format of this book will mean that its not going to appeal to everyone. It is told in multiple voices—book excerpts, newspaper quotes, and numerous ghostly voices. It can feel a bit chaotic and I often found myself searching to determine who was speaking.


Despite that, if you can live with the writing style, this is a tale of grief and love. Not only between Lincoln and his son Willie, but the love of all the poor souls who inhabit the bardo in hopes of being “just sick” instead of dead. Saunders’ vision of what this half-life would be like is original and interesting.

I found it curious that Abraham Lincoln, a respected president today, could be so reviled during his tenure. The brutality of the Civil War, of course, was the reason for the mixed opinions, leading me to muse a bit about how the leaders of the last number of decades will be remembered.

This novel touches on all the big themes—love, death, politics, religion—sympathetically but with humour too.

Read to fill the PopSugar reading challenge—a novel based on a real person.

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