Sunday, June 14, 2015

26 Books of Note (More Flash Reviews)

Science Fiction and Fantasy

1. The Familiar, Vol. 1, One Rainy Day in May

Mark Z. Danielewski
The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May…


Perhaps Danielewski’s most accessible work to date. Nine lives destined to intertwine… But at what cost?

2. The Name of the Wind                                    
(Kingkiller Day 1)                                                      
Patrick Rothfuss
The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss


Best pure fantasy series I’ve read in a very long time. Harry Potter for adults.

3. The Wise Man’s Fear                                       
(Kingkiller Day 2)                                                      
Patrick Rothfuss
The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller…


4. The Slow Regard of Silent Things                           
(Kingkiller Novella)                                                            
Patrick Rothfuss
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick…


5. The Long Earth (Long Earth 1)                             
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett


Good story, fast paced read, unique premise. Millions of Earths ready to be explored.

6. The Water Knife                                                       
Paolo Bacigalupi

The Water Knife: A novel by Paolo Bacigalupi


Water shortage wars between the states of Nevada, California, and Arizona. Believable, frightening, and perhaps, prophetic.

7. Seveneves                                                                                  
Neal Stephenson
Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson


The best hard science fiction I’ve read in 20 years. And yes, that’s a six start rating! What happens when the moon is fragmented into seven pieces by a wormhole?

8. Flowers for Algernon                                            
Daniel Keyes
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes


A classic worth the time to re-read. What is intelligence?

9. The Dead Lands                                                              
Benjamin Percy

The Dead Lands: A Novel by Benjamin Percy

4 1/2 STARS

Lewis and Clark in post-apocalyptic America.

10. The Pilgrims (Pendulum 1)                                        
Will Elliott

The Pilgrims: A Novel (The Pendulum Trilogy)…

4 1/2 STARS

A strange door into a fantasy world filled with intrigue and war.

11. Lexicon                                                                                    
Max Berry
Lexicon: A Novel by Max Barry


Sticks and stones may break your bones… but words can annihilate you!

12. Station Eleven                                                                
Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven: A novel by Emily St. John…


Excellent post-apocalyptic quest.

13. Revival                                                                          
Stephen King
Revival: A Novel by Stephen King


The fine line between good and evil. Crossed, over and over again...

Western and Weird West

14. The Last Kind Word Saloon                                   
Larry McMurtry
The Last Kind Words Saloon: A Novel by Larry…


Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday ride again.

15. The Revenant                                                      
Michael Punke

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael…


Revenge has a long memory… and one fur trapper is on the trail of those who left him to die.

16. The Winter Family                                               
Clifford Jackman
The Winter Family: A Novel by Clifford…


A rare western as seen by the perspective of the outlaws.

17. The Son                                                                           
Philipp Meyer
The Son (Pulitzer Prize in Letters: Fiction…


The best “western” I’ve ever read and another of the rare six star ratings I’ve given. Generations of Texans survive the difficult trials of the west.

18. The Big Sky                                                                        
A. B. Guthrie Jr.
The Big Sky by A. B. Guthrie Jr.


Excellent historical novel about mountain men who prefer the great expanses of the west over city life.

19. Dead of Winter                                                             
Lee Collins

Dead of Winter by Lee Collins


Western-paranormal-urban fantasy with a twist…

20. One Night in Sixes                                                 
(Children of the Drought 1)                               
Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson
One Night in Sixes (Children of the Drought)…


A dark and intense fantasy western filled with both supernatural and natural elements. Very good series.

21. Medicine for the Dead                                            
(Children of the Drought 2)                                  
Arianne 'Tex' Thompson

Medicine for the Dead (Children of the…


22. Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology      
John Joseph Adams (Editor)
Dead Man's Hand: An Anthology of the Weird…


Over twenty short, weird western stories by some of the greats, including Joe Abercrombie, Orson Scott Card, Kelly Armstrong, Elizabeth Bear, Ken Liu, Tobias Buckell, Tad Williams, and Jonathan Maberry.

23. The Good the Bad and the Infernal                    
(Heaven's Gate 1)                                                                      
Guy Adams
The Good the Bad and the Infernal (Heaven's…


Excellent supernatural western series. 

24. Once Upon a Time in Hell                       
(Heaven's Gate 2)                                                                      
Guy Adams
Once Upon a Time in Hell (Heaven's Gate…


25. For a Few Souls More                                
(Heaven's Gate 3)                                                                      
Guy Adams
For a Few Souls More (Heaven's Gate Trilogy)…


26. Black Hat Jack                                                             
 Joe R. Lansdale
Black Hat Jack by Joe R. Lansdale


The old west as told from the perspective of a black buffalo soldier.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

21 Books of Note (Flash Reviews)

Or, How I Spent my Cabin Fever Season


Please accept my sincere apologies for the lengthy absence of reviews. (Has it really been since October?) I have no good excuse other than "LIFE" and a lot of reading. With that in mind, I've created truncated versions of my normal reviews in the following flash (short, succinct) book review format. Every one of the books listed here is an excellent read and I’ve rated them from 4 ½ stars (very good read) to 6 stars (instant classic) and they’re all worth your time. I promise!


Flash Book Review - The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke


Science Fiction

4 ½ Stars


It was only a matter of time: Robot love but with a very human touch. Makes me wonder about the evolution of Artificial Intelligence and the inevitable "Artificial" being that can feel emotions. How Clarke handles the subject of unrequited love makes this a masterful work.


Cassandra Rose Clarke Official Website



Flash Book Review - Asylum by Madeleine Roux



4 ½ Stars


Very little exposition is required to lend that uncanny feeling that something very bad is going to happen in a book entitled Asylum. And indeed, we are not disappointed in this debut Young Adult novel.

Madeleine Roux Official Website


Flash Book Review - Travels in Elysium by William Azuski


Literature/Murder Mystery

4 ½ Stars    


Suspense, archaeology, and a well written mystery and the search for Plato’s lost city of Atlantis. Sprawling scenery, secretive characters, and an archaeological dig on the brink of being closed down by the Greek government make Travels in Elysium a compelling read.                  


Flash Book Review - The Secret History by Donna Tartt


Fiction/Murder Mystery

5 Stars


Classical Greek literature and language students in the pursuit of true Bacchanalia commit a murder, then another. But why? The Secret History is a suspense novel that reads like poetry yet contains all the best elements of a Greek tragedy.

Donna Tartt Shrine


Flash Book Review - Crusoe (Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox and the Creation of a Myth) by Katherine Frank



5 Stars


Crusoe is beautiful mix of biography, detective story, and the history of the first recorded men to be stranded on tropical islands. One of the very best biographies I’ve ever read it follows the lives of Daniel Defoe, Crusoe’s author, and Robert Knox, a real sailor stranded for 19 years on the tropical island of Ceylon.


Flash Book Review - Zoo City by Lauren Beukes


Urban Science Fiction

5 Stars


Criminals acquire animal familiars (it happens right after the crime is committed) and most acquire a unique “gift”, as well.  Zinzi can track items but can she track a missing person? Does she even want to?  From the slums to high society she must find the girl or live in debt the rest of her life.


Lauren Beukes Official Website


Flash Book Review - Three by Jay Posey


Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction

5 Stars


Book 1 of Legends of the Duskwalker is a wild romp through a broken world full of genetically diseased monsters, cannibals, and enhanced human beings. Can Three, bounty hunter extraordinaire, return a very “special” child back to his home?


Official Jay Posey Website


Flash Book Review - Year Zero by Rob Reid


Science Fiction/Comedy

5 Stars


Do Earth’s copyright violations count in outer space? The visiting extraterrestrials think so and the illegal downloading (since 1977) of every pop song ever by everyone in the entire universe is bound to bankrupt even the most remote galactic bank and ice farmer in the universe. Perhaps copyright lawyer Nick Carter (the other Nick Carter) can figure a way out before the aliens decide it’s just easier to destroy the earth.

Official Rob Reid Website


Flash Book Review - Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh


Cyber Science Fiction

5 Stars


In the future, the meaning of love and the finality of death are more complicated than ever.  When Rob accidently runs over a jogger and kills her he sacrifices everything he owns to visit her to ask for her forgiveness. What happens next is a romance at Minus Eighty.

Official Will McIntosh Website



Flash Book Review - The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski



5 Stars


Yet, again remarkable wordsmith Mark Z. Danielewski creates something total unexpected and unique in the literary world. His House of Leaves is a marginalia lover’s dream-quest; Only Revolutions is a book that can only be read by flipping it over from time to time; and now comes the unique invention named The Fifty Year Sword. What do five orphans, a seamstress, poetry, textile/fabric art, an uninvited storyteller, and a black box have in common?  Don’t answer that question….

Official Mark Z. Danielewski Website


Flash Book Review - The Return by Michael Gruber



5 Stars


Despite a very unattractive cover The Return is pure adrenaline, high suspense, and is full of unexpected twists, turns, and scenes of violence and action. This one had me by the throat from page one and never let go (even though I was losing consciousness). Endorsed by Stephen King this was action packed and thrilling cover to cover.

Official Michael Gruber Website


Flash Book Review – Nox by Anne Carson



5 Stars


Nox is a peculiar work of art in both form and content. Created as an homage to the author’s brother it is a tribute to a family member lost much too early. Nox is a facsimile of a handmade, accordion-style journal Carson created after the death of her brother. More than poetry, it is a physical artifact of love and one of the most poignant reading experiences I’ve ever encountered. Collage, letters, photographs, and poetry create a unique glimpse into the life, and death of someone truly loved.


Flash Book Review – Glass, Irony and God by Anne Carson




5 Stars


Throughout the reading of The Glass Essay, the first narrative poem in this book I couldn’t help but think what a truly gifted poet Carson is. Even more compelling is the fact that the entire narrative centers on lost love and the complex emotions felt in the midst of that experience. Every word in this much too short work is impactful and moving and I felt every word of it. I now have a new favorite poet!



Flash Book Review – The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt



6 Stars


The Goldfinch is one of the finest and most engaging stories I’ve read in the past ten years. Full of adventure and emotion The Goldfinch is a coming of age story like no other. Loss, drug and alcohol addiction, ambiguous morality, and urgency drive this story into unexpected places. Donna Tartt’s voice is both unique and poetic and has been added to my “Author’s you must buy” list. What might a lost masterpiece broker on the black market? And how many hands will it touch before someone dies?

Donna Tartt Shrine


Flash Book Review – The Monster Hunters (Omnibus) by Larry Correia


Science Fiction/Monster Hunting

6 Stars


Got an infestation of monsters, vampires, goblins, shape shifters, shades, succubus, or werewolves?  No worries, Monster Incorporated’s professionally trained monster exterminators will take care of those unwanted beasties. With the bounty on monsters hundreds of times that of bail skippers who wouldn’t strap on an RGP and head out to the nearest vampire nest? But not monsters are created equal and Owen Pitt is soon to find out that Heroes aren’t either!

Official Larry Correia Website


Flash Book Review – The Dog Stars by Peter Heller


Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction

6 Stars


Surviving a pandemic is one thing but holding off the looters, cannibals, and crazies is another. When Hig hears a random transmission on the radio of his Cessna he takes it upon himself to see if paradise is really out there. What he finds is much more than he bargained for and better than he could have ever hoped. But in a world gone mad sacrifices must be made…


Official Peter Heller Website


Flash Book Review –The World of the End by Ofir Touche Gafla


Science Fiction/Fantasy

6 Stars


Every once in a while a book comes around that just floors me. (i.e. Dhalgren, More Than Human, Gateway, Perdido Street Station, Cloud Atlas) and I know that it'll be one of those books I will read over and over again. The World of he End is just such a book. It's a strange story of love, death, death again, life after death, cheating death, staying dead, and our perceptions of others. Did I mention death?



Flash Book Review – The Wasteland Saga (Omnibus) by Nick Cole


Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction

6 Stars


For readers who thought Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was the last word on the post-apocalyptic world – you’d be wrong. The Old Man and the Wasteland, the first story in the collection, is poignant, poetic, beautifully written, and full of emotion. It is hands-down the very best Post-Apocalyptic story I’ve ever read (and trust me, I’ve read them all.) The gloom, depression, and emotional heartbreak of losing everything are found embedded in every poetic line written here. Nick Cole, in my opinion, has created a modern masterpiece. Everyone should be reading him…

Official Nick Cole Website


Flash Book Review – Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky


Science Fiction

6 Stars


Roadside Picnic, while written in 1971, feels like it somehow belongs to the Golden Age AND the Modern Age of Science Fiction. Based on the after effects of an alien visitation Roadside Picnic feels like it could have been written in the 1930’s. However, the language and the way the strange occurrences are handled are definitely modern. This is some of the wittiest, humorous, and downright scariest Science Fiction to come around in a long time. (Psssst, it’s scary as hell because it reads real…)


Flash Book Review – Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell



Science Fiction

6 Stars


If you’re read this blog for any length of time you’d notice that I enjoy and review a lot of Science Fiction, history, adventure, poetry, and fantasy. Imagine my surprise when I found all of them scattered throughout one book. Besides hitting on all my favorite subjects Cloud Atlas does even more. It is a Gordian knot of a puzzle that bends traditional Science Fiction/Literature and makes us wonder if we are bound by fate to certain individuals regardless of time, gender, or position. Creative, inventive, and poetic Cloud Atlas has moved into my top ten greatest books.

Official David Mitchell Website


Flash Book Review – Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson



6 Stars


Autobiography of Red is the very best in narrative prose and retells the story of Geryon and Herakles told in modern vernacular. What a wonderfully full voice Anne Carson possesses. She manages to fill a classical story with poetry, prose, narration, fable, emotion, love, desire, loss, and every one of the myriad of human emotions into a single touching account. This is one story that will stick with you forever…