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review 2018-03-05 00:23
Review: Blood Binds the Pack
Blood Binds the Pack - Alex Wells

An excellent follow up to last year's Blood Binds the Pack, this is more of the same biker mayhem and worker plight on Dune with great characters and plenty of action. 


I'm going to qualify the Dune comparison with "desert planet" and "genetically modified navigators" as opposed to being another story about a rich, well educated, cultured boy being the chosen one for an indigenous population. Unions and company towns are more in line with this setting. And a clear line is drawn between oppressor and oppressed.


Two great books so far. This ends with what feels like a conclusion, but I could easily read a sequel. Or another book set elsewhere in this universe.

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review 2018-03-01 03:26
Hob and the Ghost Wolves are Back a Sequel that's Bigger, Badder, and Bolder
Blood Binds the Pack - Alex Wells

How do you follow-up a book like Hunger Makes the Wolf? Which took the elements of a biker-gang, oppressed miners (and other blue-collar types), magic, space travel, and corporate greed to create an action-packed, fun, suspenseful and surprising read. Well, you take that foundation, and build on it to create a book that takes those elements and does a better job with them.


The pressure on TransRift Corporation is mounting (even when they don't realize it), especially on their operations base on Tanegawa’s World. There's a growing level of unrest with the miners -- which they respond to in a way that hasn't worked for anyone since the opening of Exodus. There's the constant need for more resources, if possible, resulting in stronger and more efficient product. The government is sniffing around, wondering about what they're up to and how they're treating people. Meanwhile, the loose organization of miners in each city is getting stronger as are the ties between them. All in all -- it's a powder keg ready to blow.


Not having to create a world, Wells is able to spend more time on characters this time (at least that's my impression -- it's not like I was dissatisfied with the characters in Hunger). We see depths and shadings of character in people I wasn't sure where capable of depths and shadings -- and if we get that from beings like that, imagine what we get from the more fully-formed people.


When writing about the last book, I said that I wanted more with the Ghost Wolves as a whole, to get a better feel for them. I got that this time -- but not quite enough. I'm not sure what it would've taken, however. They seem more cohesive as a unit -- Hob taking to leadership, and the Wolves taking to Hob. It's a fascinating group -- and one I clearly can't get enough of.


There were plenty of mysteries, questions, enigmas wrapped in each other about the nature of the Weathermen, the Bone Collector, Hob's abilities (and those of others, too) and what TransRift Corporation has found in the mines left over from Hunger -- and Wells doesn't answer them all. Are some things clarified? Are some things better understood? Yup. Does everything get spelled out for the reader? Nope. I love the fact that there's a whole lot that we don't get to wrap our brains around, but that we just have to accept -- just like the characters. But it's done not in a way that you feel unsatisfied with what you're given.


There's even a little bit of sweetness to be found in friendship, family, and romance. Not so much that it becomes a "kissing book" or anything, it's just an added touch.


I find the politics a little hard to swallow and simplistic -- but I can't think of the politics of any SF book/world that don't strike me this way, honestly. At least not once they get beyond the most vague notions. I'm only mentioning it because it seems that important to the novel. Which is not to say that it detracts from things too much -- if I can suspend disbelief enough to buy the capabilities of the Weathermen, or a fire-throwing, one-eyed, space-biker; I can buy whatever the workers on Tanegawa’s World try to replace the corruption they've suffered under.


I get the feeling that this is going to be a duology -- there might be more stories to tell with the Ravani, or Tanegawa’s World, but they probably won't be as closely tied to these two. I'm satisfied with a duology -- we got a complete story and a very satisfying one. Wells started strong and ended stronger -- can't ask for more than that.


I'm excited to talk about this book and I want to say a whole lot more -- and feel like I should. But I'm not sure what else to say without giving anything away. Hunger Makes the Wolf was one of my favorites last year, and this is better. Ultimately, there's not much more to say than that.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/02/28/blood-binds-the-pack-by-alex-wells
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review 2017-11-23 04:53
Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells - My Thoughts
Hunger Makes the Wolf - Alex Wells

Thank you SO much, KJ Charles for bringing this book to my attention.  I loved it!  :)  I have to say, I don't read everything that KJ recs, but I have found that the ones she recommends that catch my interest with the genre and blurb are never a disappointment.

The first half and a bit of the book was admittedly a bit slow.  Interesting but slow, I found.  We were getting to know the characters of importance, Hob, Mag, Nick, the Bone Collector etc... and learning some of the way Tanegawa's World works.  It's a mining world with some farm communities and one big city - I think.  In charge of the planet is Transrifts Inc., a mining company that holds most of the planet under its heavy heel.  The company also controls the mysterious people, the Weathermen.  These are also the people who have talents/abilities to facilitate rift space travel.

So, Hob, one of the main characters, is a young woman who is a member of a mercenary biker gang that lives apart from 'normal' society.  Exiles for the most part.  Hob is not native to the planet, she came by spaceship as a child, a stowaway type thing, I think I gathered, and was adopted by the leader of the bikers, Nick.  Nick also has a brother, who is a miner, a team leader if I'm not mistaken.  There's a wife and a daughter, Mag.  Mag is the other main character in the book and is as different as night and day from Hob, her adopted cousin.

Anyway, there are strange things afoot on Tanegawa's World and everything points to some sort of huge change for its inhabitants.  Rebellion?  Natural disaster? Further enslavery by the company?  God knows.  But when you get into the second half of the book, the action picks up and things get really, really good.  The characters come really alive now.  And rebellion/resistance is a trope that gets me every time.  There's some magic involved.  There are spies.  There are raids and assassinations and plots and mysteries afoot.  Hardly anything gets settled by the end of the book, but I didn't find that a problem.  It's a jumping off point, like the first, establishing season of a good TV series.  And this would make a great series, I think. The characters are rich with depth, and diverse, and they feel real, which is very important to me.

I can't wait to read the next one!  Which is out in February.

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review 2017-03-24 13:42
Review: Hunger Makes the Wolf
Hunger Makes the Wolf - Alex Wells

Is Dapperpunk a thing? Can it be a thing? I feel like this dapper AF badass fireball of a heroine could define the genre if it isn't already one.


If I have to stick to actual genres, this is a blend of space opera and western. Motorcycles instead of horses. And, as expected, the future is not evenly distributed. And the people under the boots of the intergalactic corporation are tired of taking shit. Deserts or mines, why not both.


Great adventure. Great characters. Great pacing, meshing never-to-long snappy dialog with action. This is the director's cut of the summer blockbuster movie I've always wanted.


Stand alone, but with hooks for direct sequels and other stories in the same universe. I'm not sure if reading it is the one thing keeping me sane with this endless cold, or the reason I'm not better yet as I read it instead of sleeping.


If you're looking for a fun adventure where you can root for the underdog, check this out.

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text 2017-02-15 21:09
2017 e-book pre-orders
Martians Abroad: A novel - Carrie Vaughn
Hunger Makes the Wolf - Alex Wells

I'm a bit late posting this, as I'm currently reading one of these. This is just my kindle pre-orders. The list is longer than the 2 pictures shown, those were the only two BL had covers for at the moment.



Martians Abroad: A novel - Carrie Vaughn: Currently reading this fish out of water tale, and looking forward to picking up a paper copy for my niece.   



Hunger Makes the Wolf - Alex Wells: Interstellar travel and bikers.  



Owl and the Electric Samurai (The Owl Series) - Kristi Charish: The third book in this UF series following the ongoing shit show that is Owl's life as she fails social interactions and turns every bad situation into a catastrophe. I am a big fan of this series.


River of Teeth - Sarah Gailey: Hippos and such.



The Prey of Gods - Nicky Drayden: This looks to be some sort of misfits save the world kind of thing.  


The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - Theodora Goss: Hate the name, love the concept. Supernatural mystery with links to horror and SF classics.



The Rift - Nina Allan: Sisters and trust for the win. 


Strange Practice (A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel) - Vivian Shaw: Cults, murders, and a doctor of the undead.


At the Table of Wolves - Kay Kenyon: Alt-history, supernatural spy thriller.



White Trash Zombie Unchained - Diana Rowland:  Book 6 in a series that's been quite fun so far.



Barbary Station - R. E. Stearns: Pirates in space!  


I have a separate list of physical books on order with my almost-local indy shop. I'll try to post that list in the next few days.


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