Category: Books

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Every now and then, a book comes along with a great premise and solid execution that a lot of people like and recommend with great gusto. Ready Player One by Ernest Kline is such a book. And it is good — very good — except for the places where it can’t get out of its own way fast enough.

Book Review: John Dies at the End by David Wong

When I was a kid, I used to read Mad Magazine. My local grocery store carried it. I also noticed there was a competitor to Mad called Cracked, and I started buying that as well. The age of magazines eventually passed into relative obscurity, and the magazines themselves had to change or die. I don’t see much from Mad anymore, but Cracked seems to have survived the digital transition to become a website that lives in my RSS feeds and that makes me laugh every day.

So when Cracked.com senior editor David Wong released a novel called John Dies at the End, I knew it was fairly likely that I’d enjoy reading it. Thing is, I never got around to it, not until the filmed version was available on demand. I decided it would be best to read the book first.

And then I spent four days trying to figure out how to write the review.

(Warning: this review contains mature language.)

Book Review: Serpent’s Storm by Amber Benson

This review contains spoilers for the first two Death’s Daughter books, Death’s Daughter and Cat’s Claw.

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So here’s the thing about Serpent’s Storm, the third Death’s Daughter book by Amber Benson: at first I thought she’d turned into Laurell K. Hamilton. Then I thought she was writing a madcap roller-coaster adventure. Then I got completely lost. Once I got to the end, I was really pleased with the destination… but unfortunately the journey didn’t work for me.

Book Review: Cat’s Claw by Amber Benson

This review contains spoilers for Death’s Daughter by Amber Benson.

Following her enjoyable adventure through Hell with Calliope Reaper-Jones, Death’s middle daughter, I think it was pretty much understood that actress and author Amber Benson would return to her Death’s Daughter universe. She did so in 2010 with Cat’s Claw, a sequel that pretty much depends upon the main character making bad decisions for the story to succeed. Make no mistake, I still had fun reading the book, but there was an awful lot of narrative convenience in it.

Book Review: The Tyrant Strategy: Revenant Man by Jonathan C. Gillespie

I’m not a huge fan of military SF. But I am a fan of post-apocalyptic SF. I’m not a huge fan of augmented-humanity SF. But I am a fan of humans-aren’t-the-most-powerful-people-in-the-universe SF. So when author Jonathan C. Gillespie put out his new novel The Tyrant Strategy: Revenant Man I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my cup of post-apocalyptic, augmented humanity, military-style, humans-aren’t-so-great tea.

That’s an awfully complicated blend, by the way. Not too many people sell it.

25 Days of TNG, Day 19: The Relaunch

This article contains major spoilers for all TNG relaunch novels up to and including the Typhon Pact series.

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Even though Star Trek canon says that, after Nemesis, there was no more official Trek until Spock attempted to save Romulus, I think we all knew the intellectual property was too valuable to just be left lying there. The TNG novelists — old and new alike — were given free reign to do whatever was necessary to keep the story going, and they certainly did that.

The relaunch novels can, at this point, be broken down into three main story arcs.

25 Days of TNG, Day 16: The 10 Best Tie-In Novels

As I was researching the tie-in novel articles, I realized just how many of the TNG tie-ins I didn’t read. Not that I’m going to go back and read them now; it’s just interesting to me. But even with missing some of them, I can confidently say that the following list are ten of the best tie-in novels TNG has to offer.

The same caveats from the previous article apply to this one.

25 Days of TNG, Day 15: The 10 Worst Tie-In Novels

I first started reading Star Trek tie-in novels when I was about eight. My dad hurt his foot and was in the hospital, and my mom brought me to a bookstore before we went to visit him. I found three Star Trek novels — My Enemy, My Ally by Diane Duane, Dreams of the Raven by Carmen Carter, and How Much For Just The Planet? by John M. Ford — and haven’t looked back. When TNG tie-ins started appearing, I bought them all, saving my allowance and gift certificates until I could afford them.

Unfortunately, while many were great, some… well, some were big-time stinkers. So here’s my opinion on the 10 worst TNG tie-in novels.

A couple of caveats: I stopped reading the tie-ins quite so religiously in the late 90s, so I might have missed a few. Also, this list will not cover the relaunch novels because they’re getting their own article.

So, here goes.

Book Review: Apollo’s Outcasts by Allen Steele

Every time I read a YA novel, I wonder why all novels don’t move at the same pace. I’m not missing anything in the YA genre — the characters are just as developed, the action is just as action-y, and the story is just as engrossing. I just don’t have to slog through hundreds of extra pages of tangential plotlines and lovingly-rendered character descriptions to get to the good stuff.

And I think that adequately describes Allen Steele’s new YA sci-fi adventure, Apollo’s Outcasts, which will be published this November by Prometheus Books: for the most part, everything extraneous has been trimmed away, leaving a tightly-written, fast-paced novel that I quite enjoyed.

Book Review: Wrayth by Philippa Ballantine

The following contains spoilers for Geist and Spectyr, the first two books in the series.

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Well, I finished reading Wrayth, the new novel by Philippa Ballantine.

I tried several different thematic ways to approach this review, but I had a lot of difficulty doing that. There’s a lot going on in this book, and I couldn’t really find any singular thing to tie it together because, the moment I thought I was on that path, things changed.

Let me explain.