Reviews by Writer Dan

Review

Tiamat’s Wrath

Posted: March 21, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: James S.A. Corey, Science Fiction
Tiamat’s Wrath

When I received the eARC of this book, it came with a request that reviews not go up more than two weeks before the publication date. The book is slated to be released on March 26th, and so this review is absolutely within that deadline. I was curious though as to how many people listened to the request of the publisher, and so I went searching for any sign of preemptive book reviews. And you know what I found? Pages up with “reviews” from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. I’m not going to link them because I’m kind of perturbed by both of them right now. Not only did they post their “reviews” better than two months early, but their “reviews” consist of what amounts to a book-cover blurb and two sentences of something that might be vaguely interpreted as a “review”. Honestly? This is what EBR has to compete against in the SEO world? I can’t say that I’ve ever actually read a review from either of those sites before, and now I doubt that I ever will again.

But no worries. The actual book is absolutely smashing fantabulous! Here we go!
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Review

Grey Sister

Posted: March 15, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Mark Lawrence, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
Grey Sister

This is another one of those books that got buried a little too deep in my TBR pile last year and got lost. I am ashamed. Thankfully, I have awesome friends that remind me about missing out on books like this and then telling me that I’m running out of time before the sequel is released. You just can’t put a price on friends like that. Because seriously, if you start doing things like that, pretty soon all your friends are six feet under and no one new wants to be your friend anymore because they know what happens to those that happen to say the wrong thing…

Okay, maybe that got a little dark, but after all, what good is a book review about an awesome dark fantasy novel without a little morbid humor to kick us all off in the right direction. 🙂
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Review

Dead Moon

Dead Moon

So, despite what Goodreads might seem to imply, this isn’t the third book in any kind of connected series. It’s a single novel that may or may not be the first in a series, and that might be in the same loosely bound universe as other books that the author has written. But that’s about it. I spent the entirety of my time listening to this one believing that this was the third book in a series and wondering what story might have been told in the first two books. It’s not written like the follow-on to any kind of other story.

Now I guess I know better than to blithely accept the information I’m given on Goodreads.

This is also another one of those books that doesn’t look like it’s going to get a dead-tree release any time soon, if at all. <<sideways glance>> I just don’t get that. Part of the book market, I guess, that doesn’t include me. Still, I was more than happy to give the thing a listen, as I had a hole in my audiobook schedule.
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Review

Wrath of Empire

Posted: March 5, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Brian McClellan, Epic Fantasy
Wrath of Empire

Here’s another one of those late reviews that totally should have been up last year, but that I just didn’t make it to. On the whole I’ve kind of been a late-comer to the Powder Mage world. What I found in this series was fun, and interesting, and engaging to say the least. Was hoping to find more of the same, when diving into this one. Especially after mentioning that we expected goodness from the short list of missed reviews in 2018 and being so disappointed in the first one of those books that I got to.

Thankfully, I found that this book was just as good as I had expected.
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Review

Blood of Ten Kings

Posted: February 21, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: Edward Lazellari, Fantasy
Blood of Ten Kings

This is one of the books on our makeup list from last year that I just didn’t have the time to get to. Actually, it kind of took me by surprise. The most recent book in the series, THE LOST PRINCE (EBR Review) came out more than 5 years ago, and I guess the possibility of seeing this sequel had completely fallen off my radar. Still, I was really excited to finally see it. THE LOST PRINCE was an absolutely brilliant book, and I was so looking forward to seeing how it would all come together for the Guardians from Aandor.
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Review

Zero G

Posted: January 31, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Dan Wells, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Audible
Zero G

I don’t read a lot of middle grade books. Last ones I got to were probably the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket (Amazon), which are brilliant good fun, especially when they’re read aloud. I was trying to remember what books I was reading around that age and realized that at 11 I was pretty deep into the Dragonlance Chronicles series by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman (Amazon), thanks to my good friend Scot. It might be because of this, that I don’t remember reading an awful lot of funny, goofy, adventure romps like this one. There’s a part of me that thinks I might have missed out, but another that can’t help but remember how much I enjoyed reading back in those days. So I can’t have missed out on too much, can I?
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Review

The Hod King

Posted: January 22, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Josiah Bancroft, Fantasy
The Hod King

It certainly seems like it’s been a considerable period of time since I read the first two Books of Babel. Thanks to the words of Mark Lawrence during the 2016-round of his Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off, I was made aware of this brilliant series that had yet to be picked up by a traditional publication house. In point of fact, it’s been a little less than 18 months since I closed the pages of THE ARM OF THE SPHINX (EBR Review) and began my wait for this next book. Would it be the last? Or just the next? Would it be as good? Bah, how could it not be? Tom finally knows where his wife is, and he’s bound to get to her! I had a difficult time believing that anyone that had read the previous two books (that you? hmmmmm?) wouldn’t be just as ecstatic to get into this story as I.
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Review

Shadow Captain

Posted: January 15, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Alastair Reynolds, Science Fiction
Shadow Captain

It’s always an interesting ride, I think, when an author that typically writes for readers within a particular age range ventures outside their normal boundaries. Age ranges being groups like Children, Middle Grade, Young Adult, blah, blah, blah. In this, I’m thinking Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea (EBR Archive) or Rowling’s Casual Vacancy are decent examples of this jump in readership. Sometimes they work; other times, not so much. I’ve never tried any of Rowling’s non-Potter books, but of the three YA books that Abercrombie gave us, I thought the first and third not quite as good as what I was used to getting from him, but the second, in my estimation, was possibly the best book he’s ever written. And while Revenger wasn’t necessarily my favorite book from Mr. Reynolds, and I’d likely be more interested in getting another in the Prefect Dreyfus series, I was still super excited to get another anything from him, as he’s easily one of my favorite science fiction authors these days.
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Review

The Ember Blade

Posted: December 27, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: Chris Wooding, Epic Fantasy, Audible
The Ember Blade

This book was on my radar for a while, but I didn’t think that I’d be able to get to it. Then, I forgot to cancel my Audible membership after going through that mess with THE SIGNAL, and suddenly I found myself with another book credit and no direction to run with it. After a quick perusal of my options, I found that the audiobook for Chris Wooding’s next book was only 10 days away from publication. Trust me, with our history of loving the books lobbed at us by him (EBR Archive), I quickly made my decision and started into it.
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Review

Kill All Angels

Posted: December 13, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: Robert Brockway, Urban Fantasy
Kill All Angels

I think I can safely admit that I wasn’t even planning on reading this book when it first showed up in the mail. I hadn’t been particularly enamored with either the first or second books in the series, I had no idea where this third book might go that could possibly change that opinion, and the cover was so blaringly pink that the thing gave me a headache every time I looked at it. But it was a quick read (which I needed), and the cover was removable (thankfully), and… my experience with its pages was exactly what I expected it to be: a jumbled conglomeration of “What in the world did I just read?” Ever had one of those? For your sake, I hope not. Still, as the saying goes, “In for a penny, in for a pound,” and so I decided to finish this series off with one last monumental push.
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Review

The Consuming Fire

Posted: November 29, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: John Scalzi, Science Fiction
The Consuming Fire

Tell you what, the more I read of this guy’s stuff, the more I like him. Still haven’t gotten to the Old Man’s War books, but the LOCK IN series (EBR Archive) has been really good, and this one is also shaping up to be some serious goodness. When I got this one in the mail, I failed to realize though that we had already reviewed the first book, THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE (EBR Review, thanks be to Shawn), so I tackled that one first. Was awesome. In fact, I think I liked that one considerably more than he did. Likely would have read it anyways, as I have issues with reading middle-series books without first reading those that have come before. This can sometimes cause headaches for my EBR TBR pile, but as Popeye would say, “I yam what I yam.” I was also extremely happy to find that this book absolutely doesn’t fall into anything like second-book syndrome and was oodles of good fun.
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Review

Artemis

Posted: November 16, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Andy Weir, Science Fiction
Artemis

I never took the opportunity to read The Martian. Saw the movie, tried to pick up the audio book once but it was a bad CD copy, and I just never got back to trying again. Recently, one of our illustrious fans requested that we read and review Weir’s next book, Artemis. Oddly enough, I also had to wrangle with a bad CD copy of an audiobook for this one (I love my library, but yeesh this seems to happen a lot) but I set my rocket scientist mind to the problem and figured out how to get it to work. And here we are. Interested in what we thought of it? I figured you might be.
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Review

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown

Posted: November 8, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Seanan McGuire, Urban Fantasy, Ghost Stories
The Girl in the Green Silk Gown

So I REALLY wanted to get this one put away before Halloween, what with this being an actual ghost story and all. For some reason, those don’t come along all that often. But, it didn’t happen. Them’s the breaks. Hopefully though you’re recognizing this as the culmination of the promise I made to several months back to buy and read these books after the author, Seanan McGuuire, tweeted about the freak that uploaded an electronic copy of this very book to a free download site. She was less than ecstatic about it, to say the least. Still gets me riled up just thinking about it myself. I’d like to think that book-reviewing peoples as a whole are a pretty solid bunch of honest individuals. Unfortunately they’re not all individually solid, honest people. What can you do? It’s always going to be that one guy that ruins things for everyone. Way the world is. Still, regardless of the events that prefaced me being introduced to and reading these stories, I’m really glad of the outcome. Because finding these books and fitting them into my reading schedule was SO worth it.
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Review

Off Armageddon Reef

Posted: October 25, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: David Weber, Science Fiction
Off Armageddon Reef

So, we don’t normally do reviews for books that were written so long ago (first published in 2007). Especially for books that weren’t just awesome-sauce fantastic. In fact, we generally frown on writing reviews for books this old as a general rule, unless they’re considered a “Classic”. There are a few extenuating circumstances, however, that made just such a review feel justified in my mind. One: this is the first book in an ongoing series that has not yet been completed. Two, the next book in the series (#10: THROUGH FIERY TRIALS — Amazon) has a release date of January 2019. So, at least the series is current. Three, I’ve come across several references in my time from individuals that like this series very much. And there are soon going to be ten books in the series. So, this whole situation got me to thinking. If someone were to see the release of this newest book, and then decide that it sounded like something worth checking out, and then went on to find this, the first book in the series: how would their experience be?

And giving opinions on this exact situation just happens to be our specialty here at EBR. So I dove in, hoping for some goodness.
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Review

Foundryside

Posted: October 18, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Robert Jackson Bennett, Epic Fantasy
Foundryside

So my first whiff of this book came last February while I was sitting in a group of friends at LTUE, which is a writer’s conference that meets in Utah every year, and Brian McClellan (EBR Archive) casually said that he was reading Robert Jackson Bennett’s new book and that it was really good. I was immediately jealous and began wondering how I might be able to find my way into Mr. Bennett’s in-group. To say the least, I was excited to hear that the next book from this great author was coming along smashingly. After sailing my way through his Divine Cities series (EBR Archive), I was really looking forward to some more goodness from his direction.
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Review

Priest of Bones

Posted: October 2, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Peter McLean, Fantasy
Priest of Bones

I’m always leery about books that tout themselves as dark and gritty. “I’m dark! Read me!” they yell. “And I’m gritty! Read me!” But what is “dark” and what is “gritty”? So many authors, and even publishers, get it dead wrong all the time. You don’t become dark and gritty by including profanity; though such stories usually do contain a bundle of profanity. And stories aren’t dark and gritty because there’s a lot of violence in them either; although they typically contain a lot of the bloody hack-and-slash as well. And yet, there are constantly those that will try to throw a bunch of violence and profanity into a book and call it “dark and gritty”, and then try sliding it in under the noses of you wonderful readers.

<<eye roll>>

When will they ever learn?
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Review

Iron Dragoons

Posted: September 20, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Richard Fox, Science Fiction
Iron Dragoons

Military Science Fiction is a sub-genre that I don’t very often find myself reading. Not that I don’t like it, or even that I think I might not like it, but I just haven’t read much of it. Kind of the same way that I don’t very often find myself singing while riding the city bus. Not that the other patrons on the bus might not like my warbling voice or that I might not enjoy such an experience… I just don’t do it all that much. So this was a bit of a departure for me, but I got a copy of the ebook for free from the author on Facebook, if I remember correctly. Trying to drum up some business and get his name out there, I’d gather, and two cheers for him, I say! I think that more beginning authors should be giving a decent smattering of their stuff away for free. Take note, newbie authors. Especially those that are self-published. Just make sure that what you’re floating in front of people’s noses for FREE is also awesome-sauce, […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

Signal

Posted: September 7, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Hate Meta: Tony Peak, Science Fiction, Audible
Signal

A couple weeks ago, a public relations specialist from Audible contacted us about possible interest in reviewing a new book slated for immediate release. Publishers contact us quite frequently to review their books, but this was the first one that I could remember coming directly from Audible. The book was Science Fiction, so naturally I picked it up. What with me loving Science Fiction and all. 🙂 My first surprise of many came when I found out that this book wasn’t going to get any kind of print version. Meaning no physical book and likely not even an ebook. This understanding gave me the immediate feeling of a very tiny dagger stabbing me in the heart. How could someone do that to a story? Especially if it’s a good one. I mean, doesn’t everyone love the feel and the smell of the paper? The heft of the bound pages? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good audio book (Simon Vance is a voice-talent god). I listen to them quite often actually, so I felt fairly qualified to give Signal a go. Thus, I dove in.

And that’s when I got my second surprise.
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Review

The Moons of Barsk

Posted: September 5, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Lawrence M. Schoen, Science Fiction
The Moons of Barsk

BARSK: THE ELEPHANTS’ GRAVEYARD (EBR Review) was such a pleasant surprise that I can’t help but smile every time I think about the experience of reading that book. And feel bad, of course, because it took so long to finally make its way to the top of my reading queue. It was fun and engaging and intelligent without feeling like it was pandering in any way. So, when I saw that there was going to be a sequel… I determined that I was going to do right by it. To mention nothing of the fact that I was actually quite excited to hear that we’d be getting more from the world of Barsk. In fact, I can still feel that excitement in the slightest bit, even on this side of my reading experience.

Which is somewhat interesting, because it’s been a long time since I’ve been quite so disappointed with a sequel.
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Review

Sparrow Hill Road

Posted: August 30, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Seanan McGuire, Urban Fantasy, Ghost Stories
Sparrow Hill Road

Most of you should remember my post from a few weeks ago. One, two, three, four… okay, well, seven IS more than a few, I’ll grant you that. Anyhow, my post was about Seanan McGuire’s book being uploaded to one of those free download websites before it had even been released. If not, you can go read it. (EBR Post). Hearing about what happened really bothered me. Like, a lot. At the end of my short rant, I said I’d pre-ordered the book and would be following up with a review of it. Well, the book that got hijacked was the second book in the series. So, I bought the first as well, and this is the review for that one. The next is still in the works though and will be coming soon.
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Review

Summerland

Summerland

Mr. Rajaniemi has been on my watch list for a while now. Although I missed reading his Jean le Flambeur series (EBR Archive), I did read a collection of his short stories (EBR Review) back in 2015 and LOVED it. Then I didn’t hear from him for a long time. Not even a phone call, you know? 😉 But as soon as I saw this book in our pile, I was all over it. Didn’t want to pass up a read like I expected this one to be.
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Review

Brief Cases

Brief Cases

I was a late comer to this series, and I have to thank my boss Steve for pushing me to read past the second book in this series much like he pushed me to read past the second Malazan Book of the Fallen novel. So it was, that I found little moments, mostly nights and weekends (whenever I found a spare “extra” reading opportunity) to creep through the main sequence of books as quickly as I could. Jim Butcher has done an amazing job of this series. Guy knows his stuff. Thus it was, about six months ago, that I finally finished reading Skin Game and went looking for the next entry of one of my favorite addictions: Harry Dresden stories. At last update, Jim is still working on “Peace Talks” (Book 16), but until we get that one (can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait) there is some new short fiction to be had, and it is absolutely brilliant.
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Review

Tales of Ruma

Tales of Ruma

RPGs are for nerds.

You know it. I know it. They know it. Erm… well, I guess technically I should say “we” know it, because there ain’t no way I’m gonna skirt the issue on this one: we’re pretty much ALL nerds here at EBR. 🙂 And you know what? I think if more “non-nerdy” people would put their petty pride aside for one freaking minute and let themselves get lost in the imagination, adventure, and sheer brilliance of some of the good RPGs out there, the ranks of the RPGers would quickly swell. Because RPGs aren’t just a story; though indeed they are that. And they’re not just a game; though indeed they are that as well. They’re imagination and spontaneity and characterization in a form that you just can’t find anywhere else.

So don’t let anyone sway you from standing up for the oft-berated RPGs and RPGers alike. For it’s from those very annals that Steven Erikson gave us the Malazan Book of the Fallen. And Misters Abraham and Franck gave us the wide tapestry of The Expanse. And for all of you “non-nerdy” people: is there any way you’re going to nay-say the awesome goodness of Stranger Things?

<<crickets>>

I didn’t think so.
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Review

Purple and Black

Posted: August 4, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: K.J. Parker, Fantasy
Purple and Black

So I’m in the middle of updating all of our old reviews and disentangling the hard-coded links to the old blog. Not particularly a lot of fun. But it has been cool to be reminded of all those old reviews, and see how far the site has come since the early days. While doing so, I realized something that really bothered me: we didn’t have a review up for this book.

And I just couldn’t let that pass.
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Review

Mockingbird

Posted: July 26, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Chuck Wendig, Horror
Mockingbird

I’ve been waffling for a long time over whether to read these books or not. I don’t know why. You see, there’s this moment when you’re reading a review–even when it’s a review from the very site that you write for–that you just know you’re going to read the book. That happened to me when our illustrious reviewer, Nickolas, reviewed BLACKBIRDS by Chuck Wendig (EBR Review). Because, you see, I go in pretty hard for a good character. Especially a good tortured character, and once you’ve read Nick’s review and the actual book, you can almost see the torture spread across that skein of words. They rend you and twist you, and after you leave those pages behind, they haunt you with the understanding that not only is Ms. Miriam Black a real person under all of that grime and grit, but she also might as well be you, or me, or anyone else for all the good it does her. Because Miriam’s life is like none you’ve ever seen, and anyone, given her life, might have understandably made the same choices as she.
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Review

Black Goat Blues

Posted: July 10, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Levi Black, Urban Fantasy
Black Goat Blues

There was a part of me that was really kinda pumped to get this book in the mail for my TBR pile. Granted, it was the dark, twisted, macabre and grotesque side of me, but a side of me, nonetheless. Levi Black’s first book, RED RIGHT HAND (EBR Review) caught me at a very opportune moment, and as I dove into the next offering from this author that so brazenly takes his mythos from that containing Cthulhu, I found myself digging through my music downloads to find that song by Metallica that had hit just the right spot the first time around. It was a good way to start my week.

And finishing this book was a great way to end it.
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Review

Writers of the Future, Volume 34

Writers of the Future, Volume 34

I find it somewhat unsettling how quickly I tend to look past the art associated with this annual anthology. Well, if I’m being truthful, I tend to naturally look past most of what is offered in these anthologies other than the stories from the winners. Because it’s those stories that most have the chance of speaking to my soul, as an aspiring author myself. And yet, this time around, I’ve made it a goal to give special attention to those “extras”. After all, it’s the winners of the “Illustrators of the Future” that will be penning the future covers that will catch my attention enough to get me to pick up books and give the first handful of written pages a chance at catching my mind afire. As well, it is the extra writings–the essays and sometimes stories from the judges of the contest–that represent what they admire and enjoy in fiction. There is indeed much more to this anthology than just a simple collection of stories by a bunch of newbie, but not always unskilled, writers of fantastical fiction.
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Review

Head On

Posted: June 5, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: John Scalzi, Science Fiction
Head On

The first time I ever read a story by John Scalzi was a short of his about something to do with an alien, but I don’t remember the details. He was selling it for whatever you wanted to pay for it, but hoped that you would pay more than a buck because, ya know, it cost him a solid buck per sale to run the transaction through Paypal. Even before I’d read his story, and the dude already had me laughing. I remember enjoying that one quite a bit, but some of his others I haven’t been too enamored with. I still haven’t read his Old Man’s War series, although there have been several times when I’ve been tempted to pick them up. After reading this one, I think I might just have to do that.
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Review

Red Sister

Posted: May 24, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Mark Lawrence, Fantasy
Red Sister

Mark Lawrence is one of those authors that I’ve been chasing for a while. As in, I’ve been trying to convince my subconscious that I need to read his stuff. Ever since PRINCE OF THORNS came out, I’ve been telling myself, “That looks good. I should pick it up.” But for whatever reason, I never have. Regardless, I’ve always held him in high regard because of Steve’s opinion of not only Mark’s books, but the man himself. I actually bought PRINCE OF FOOLS about a year ago. Haven’t read it yet. But this year, I just took the leap. Because… well because I knew he’d be a good read and I had some Amazon credit and I just didn’t hesitate when the notion came to me this time. Actually got the sequel to it at the same time. Really looking forward to that read. Until then, we have this one. And it’s a pretty good read indeed.
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Review

American Elsewhere

American Elsewhere

So, we put this book on our “Best of” back in 2013 without posting a review for it. I know. Naughty us. I thought it was about time that we rectify the problem. Plus, it gave me another chance to read a Robert Jackson Bennett book. 🙂 After reading his Divine Cities series, I made a point of putting his name on my go-to list of authors to constantly check in on. Interesting story that’s actually on topic: I was having dinner with a few friends back in February. Brian McClellan (of Powder Mage fame) was part of the group and talking about how he was helping beta read Robert Jackson Bennett’s most recent work in progress. Nearly lost my stuffing. Can you say jealous? Whoa. Anyhow, I found this story on my audio book app, and the rest, as they say, is history.
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Review

Tomorrow’s Kin

Posted: April 26, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: Nancy Kress, Science Fiction
Tomorrow’s Kin

A while ago, I had a dearth of books sitting on my shelf for which I was foaming at the mouth to read. Several times I walked by the stacks and asked myself which of those various offerings I would dive into next. After several attempts, I just started grabbing books at random, and decided to choose the one that I thought had the best potential based on the first two pages of story. This is usually about all it takes for me to decide whether I’m going to be able to like a book or not. Like there’s a base-minimum amount of goodness that my inner reader is willing to accept, and after about two pages I can just tell. After parsing through a dozen or so of the possibilities, I whittled my choices down to this single book. It was even science fiction, which is always a good thing in my opinion because I feel like I need to read more science fiction. Problem is, I need to read science fiction that’s better than this.
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Review

Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon

As with my previous review, the decision to finally read this novel came as a result of consuming media outside of the book realm. Prior to now, I hadn’t picked this book up because of the complete underwhelming Richard K. Morgan had given me in previous books. Granted, most of his stuff that I’d read was in the fantasy genre. Although I have also read THIRTEEN, but that didn’t really ruffle my feathers either. Still, the trailer for the series that Netflix recently did just looked AMAZING. Grabbed me and would not let go. And wouldn’t you know it, about that same time the book came up in my audiobook queue at the library as available and I just couldn’t help myself. Turns out, I probably should have listened to myself and/or watched the show instead.
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Review

Iron Gold

Posted: March 22, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Pierce Brown, Science Fiction
Iron Gold

I remember picking up GOLDEN SON for the first time and being surprised at where the author started the story. RED RISING had finished in such a way that, given the thousands of other books I’d read, I fully expected GOLDEN SON to be about Battle School. If any other author had written it, that book just might have been about Battle School instead of starting at the end of those two vicious years of Darrow’s training. And that single fact made not only that book, but the entire series, rise up above so many of those others and give a mighty shout that it would be heard. Thus, it was no surprise to me to learn that after writing three solid books about Darrow’s rise to power, that Mr. Brown should choose to begin the next book in his series after ten years of hard-fought war later. Ten. Years. From what I can tell, Pierce Brown is not only asking himself “What is the next story in this world that I could tell?” when he sits down to write the next book, but “What is the most brilliant next story in this world that I could tell?”. And people, when an author does that for their readers — when he goes all out to deliver a knockout punch every single time — THAT is the kind of author that you want to pay attention to. THAT is the kind of author that you want to give you money to. Because THAT author deserves his coveted title. The title of “Favorite Author”.
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Review

Annihilation

Annihilation

I really like the trend I’m seeing of speculative fiction comprising a larger portion of the movies and tv (streaming?) shows in production today. In fact, the whole reason I picked this book up was because someone was making a movie out of it, and the trailer totally pulled me in. Got another book in my stack right now with a review waiting to be posted, that I picked up because of the same kind of media inspiration. Netflix has just been upping the game. If I’m honest with myself, most of the new movie/tv speculative goodness seems to be coming from, or associated with, them. Granted, not everything. But lots of it, yeah? Have you been keeping up on your “Coming Soon” trailers and news buzz? Might just be time that you did that. After you read this, of course. What were you thinking?
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Review

Elysium Fire

Posted: February 15, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Alastair Reynolds, Science Fiction
Elysium Fire

Negative boring parts. If you’re not familiar with that term, you should likely go and read my review of THE PREFECT (EBR Review), which was one of those Alastair Reynolds books that I just hadn’t gotten to when the release date for this sequel showed up in my email. I mean, yeah, I could just stop reading anything else altogether and go read all of his stuff that I haven’t been able to yet, and it would be awesome. But then EBR would suffer, and I just can’t justify that. Although, I don’t have to plan on catching up on anything before his next novel comes out. Of course, this means that I’ll remember that fact perfectly well the next time I have a hankering for some science fiction goodness instead of forgetting about it until it’s too late. The reason I won’t have to catch up on anything, is because his next two books are going to be direct follow-ups to REVENGER (EBR Review). But until those are available, there’s lots of currently-available goodness to be had from this author. This novel being a prime example.
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Review

The Prefect

Posted: February 1, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Alastair Reynolds, Science Fiction
The Prefect

After reading Revenger last year, I remember finding out that the next book from Mr. Reynolds was going to be a sequel to this book. As I hadn’t read it yet, I decided to put it on my list of books to read “relatively” soon. I figured I had about a year after all. Color me purple, the sequel caught me completely unawares, and I suddenly realized that I either needed to get on the bandwagon extremely fast, or I was going to have to read that new one without having read the first in the series. Okay, so honestly that second option really wasn’t ever on the table, as the surprise I first felt at finding the sequel in my hands was quickly swept aside by the realization that I now had a valid excuse to read TWO Alastair Reynolds books in a row. Oh goodie goodie for me. So although this review is coming to you all a little late with respect to its actual publication date, I will be following it up with a review for the sequel in short measure. So check this one out, and then watch for my next review in the coming weeks.
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Review

God’s Last Breath

Posted: January 18, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Sam Sykes, Epic Fantasy
God’s Last Breath

I’ve never really gotten into comic books — Ahem. Excuse me — “Graphic novels”. Hey, gimme a break. I’m a child of the 80s and old habits die hard. Anyhow, where was I? Oh yes. I’ve never really been that into graphic novels. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve read a few. And ElfQuest was one series that I voraciously devoured when I first stumbled upon it. Still, despite my very meagre affair with this medium, I can’t help but feel like I need to make a comparison between this book and a graphic novel. I’m fairly certain it’s the fact that the author’s writing style is so visual and visceral that does it for me. It’s what makes this book read like a really detailed graphic novel. The simplicity of his words to imagery. The strong dependence on character to relay the story. I’m not sure exactly. Whatever it is though, no one else does it quite like Sam Sykes.
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Review

Outlander

Outlander

Romance isn’t exactly a genre that we here at EBR dip our toes into very often. In point of fact, I just looked up how many reviews of books we have that are labeled as being tagged as “romance”. Want to know how many there were? Two. And one of those, I was tricked into reading. Seeing as how having only one review in a given genre is kind of silly, and having two seems more like an excuse to remove the genre than even one did, I thought I’d add to that total and provide the third review in this oft-forgotten genre here at EBR. I know. I’m too much. You can thank me later for my generosity. No, in all seriousness I also kind of wanted to review this book because then I could mention the fact that the author of this book is none other than Sam Sykes’s mother, and if you don’t know who Sam Sykes is, then you should watch out for my next review. Until then, there’s this one, and it ain’t too shabby either.
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Review

Gods & Monsters: Mythbreaker

Posted: December 21, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Stephen Blackmoore, Urban Fantasy
Gods & Monsters: Mythbreaker

Steak and potatoes. These two foods comprise the epitome of a hearty American dinner. So if I wanted to make an apropos comparison of such an eating experience to reading a book, then that reading experience would be: full of goodness, tender and tasty, and most of all filling. At the end of such a read, I would expect to be satisfied, and if not necessarily ready to dive into the next book, at least ready to move on to something new. One could easily make other such comparisons between food and reading. And if I had to make a food-based comparison to reading this book, it’d be a bowl full of popcorn: easy to keep reading, exciting enough to keep my interest, and regardless of how it ends, finding that I have a bit of a belly-ache afterward. As with reading many of these kinds of books, once in a while they can be fun, but too many in a row? No thank you, sir. But it had been a while since I’d read a popcorn novel. So.
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Review

Persepolis Rising

Posted: December 5, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: James S.A. Corey, Science Fiction
Persepolis Rising

…and so here I am, writing a review for a book that I haven’t even received in the mail yet, and I realize just how upside-down the world has turned. I mean, YES, I was uber-excited to get the story early, but there’s just something that I miss about being able to turn the actual pages of a real book. The feel of the paper in my fingers, the visual cue of the turning of the page, the smell of it. It all just seems a bit MORE when I get the physical book. When I can see it on my shelf, sitting there staring back at me. For some reason, ebooks just make a story seem somehow… easier than they should. Less substantive. So am I over-exaggerating at all when I tell you I’m even more excited to get my actual book in the mail later tonight, on the date of “publication”, than I was to get the eARC I actually read? Not in the slightest. In fact, I may just have to start reading this one again. When I get home from work tonight. Just… you know… don’t tell my boss or anything. Cause I really should be reading the next book in my queue. 🙂
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Review

The Unholy Consult

Posted: November 30, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Like...and Hate Meta: R. Scott Bakker, Epic Fantasy
The Unholy Consult

Less than an hour before I sat down to write this review, I pulled my youngest daughter’s loose front tooth from her mouth and thought what an amazingly apt comparison I might make between that act and this effort. Writing this review is a concept that I’ve done no small amount of pondering upon.

If you’ve had the pleasure of reading my previous reviews on the books in this series, you’ll know I’ve not been much of a fan. And yet, they also contain within them some of the most amazing “fantastical stuff” (highly technical term) that I’ve read in literally any other fantasy book/series. So, much like my moments-earlier tooth extraction, I’ve decided to pull the painful review that I might otherwise have written, and instead put together a review that addresses everything I’ve been thinking about this book. Taking it, holding it aloft, and examining it from every angle, so to speak, now that it will no longer be paining me.

Granted, such a review is going to be considerably longer than my regular fare, so I feel as if I need to give a small qualifier to all you readers. If you’re up for a bit more of my blabbering blatherskyte than usual, by all means sally forth and tally ho. I’ll begin in short measure. If, however, you’re just looking for the Cliff’s Notes version, well, here you are: TL;DR Nearly identical in every aspect to the previous books in the series. If you liked them, you’ll like this one. If you didn’t, you won’t.
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Review

Strange Dogs

Posted: November 9, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: James S.A. Corey, Science Fiction
Strange Dogs

When originally planning out my review for this one, I thought about beginning with a strongly-worded letter to the publisher about ebooks in general, but decided against it. Instead, I’m going to opt for writing a strongly worded letter to all publishers of ebooks with the purpose of letting them know about my little beef with the way they’re doing things. So, here we go. “To Whom It May Concern: I am a huge fan of reading awesome books, and I read many of them on the e-reader of my choice. At the bottom of every page of every story I receive for my e-reader is a little percentage scale, which I quite frequently reference while reading, that let’s me know just how far I am into the story and how much goodness I have left to go. This tool has become a staple for me when reading books for the purpose of reviewing them. While reading this book, however, I came to a point that my e-reader’s scale said was about 65% of the way through the book when I found these unexpected words on the next page: THE END. I was incredibly perturbed by finding that the story I was reading was inexplicably over, and that the remaining 35% of the file was filled with sample chapters I had no interest in reading whatsoever. Hrm. How to say this nicely? Please do not do this to me again. There. If you want to give me sample chapters, which I am usually quite amenable to receiving, please instead include a link to said sample chapters on your website or other online location so that I do not feel cheated when suddenly finishing the awesome stories I expected to get in the first place. Thank you. Sincerely Yours, Your Somewhat-Disgruntled Yet Still Mostly-Friendly Neighborhood Team of Elitists”
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Review

Luna: Wolf Moon

Posted: October 12, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Hate Meta: Ian McDonald, Science Fiction
Luna: Wolf Moon

You may have already noticed, but there’s this little fever burning through the public at large right now concerning a certain speculative fiction series. Its novels are door-stoppers, its HBO episodes are reportedly hitting $15M a piece to produce, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist (heh-heh) to realize that hitching your ride to such a wagon might not be the worst idea in the world if you’re looking to make a few bucks. It’s also available for attaching parallels that can instantly make a connection to the minds of many readers. So, seeing this book’s predecessor described as “A Game of Moons”, is sure to pull in more than a few readers, yeah? You’d think. But the difficult part in all of that would be the actual story, and whether it can stand up to such a comparison to a story that is loved by, literally, millions. Maybe you all can see where I’m going with this, and if you happen to remember my review of that last book, it’ll probably even be an easier line to pick up.
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Review

Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror

Posted: September 28, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Ellen Datlow (Ed), Horror, Short Fiction
Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror

Horror is a genre that I really don’t feel like I’ve been able to fully sink my teeth into yet. I’m really a fantasy guy at heart, with a science-fed brain at the helm, and a soul that can’t help but love a good story. So while I don’t typically go out searching for new horror, I love coming across a new piece of horrific something that just hits my emotional buttons the right way. Of the several anthologies that we received via Ellen Datlow recently, this was the one I was initially most excited to read, even though I recognized the fewest number of names among the authorial inclusions. Someday I’m going to get my name (or pseudonym) in one of these things. Can’t wait for the day. Until then, I’m sure there’ll be a steady stream of them coming from the likes of Datlow and others. Each of them trying to lead its readers down a path that they might otherwise not necessarily want to visit, but are overwhelmingly compelled to, nonetheless. Some will succeed in fabulous fashion. Others, not so much. Depends on which buttons you like to have pushed and how hard. This anthology had a handful of those for me. Not as many as I might have liked, true. But enough that I really enjoyed what I found.
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Review

Urban Enemies

Posted: September 14, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Joseph Nassise (Ed), Urban Fantasy
Urban Enemies

In general, I tend to steer clear of Urban Fantasy. Always have. Every once in a while I’ll make a foray into the realm, but by and large I’ve been disappointed with what I’ve found. The obvious exceptions, for me, being Butcher, Correia, and Hanover. The really difficult part is that there is quite literally a metric ton of Urban Fantasy books out there, and there are more and more showing up on the shelves all the time. With all those possible choices available, how does one go about finding the next great Urban Fantasy series/author to start reading? Well, short stories can sometimes help give you an idea as to whether you’re going to like an author or not. Trouble is, even some of the really popular novel authors don’t know how to write a good short story. So how can you tell? I’ll always fall back on recommendations. Anyone got one for me? I’ll trade you a few. Check it out.
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Review

City of Miracles

Posted: August 31, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Robert Jackson Bennett, Fantasy
City of Miracles

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a series of books as I did here: one immediately after the other. It almost feels like I’m cheating the author in a way. I mean, this guy took five years to write these three books, and I go and burn through them all in just a few weeks. I mean, granted, they were awesome. So, why would I want to put off reading them? Exactly. I wouldn’t. In fact, I don’t think you should either. Get em now. Read em now. Such good stuff.
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Review

City of Blades

Posted: August 30, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Robert Jackson Bennett, Fantasy
City of Blades

I told you this one would be coming really soon didn’t I? Oh yeah. The third book in this series was published in May of this year, and when I realized that a handful of weeks ago, I bought them all and got busy, because I immediately knew how I wanted to do this. So, I’m guessing that you’ll figure out fairly quickly what’s going to be coming your way… um… tomorrow? Ha, ha! Goodness for the readers! And if you’re interested in goodness, I checked out the author’s website last night and he has this killer sketch-rewrite of the Star Wars prequel movies that would have been so genius to see. Well, in all honesty, it wouldn’t take much to come up with a story that’s better than what we got, but trust me Bennett’s ideas are dang cool. I’ll wait to put a link for his blog post at the end of this review though. Cause you’re gonna want to check this out first.
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Review

City of Stairs

Posted: August 29, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Robert Jackson Bennett, Fantasy
City of Stairs

This is another one of those authors that I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time now. Long time. Yeesh. Ever since I read Steve’s review of The Company Man. I’ve even bought two of this guy’s books at a second-hand store without even looking at the blurb since reading that review, but I just hadn’t worked any of them into my reading queue yet. Ugh, and I’m so regretting the fact that it took me this long. Because, you see, there are authors that write decent books, and there are authors that write good books, and then there are authors that make you never want to miss anything else that they ever write. Period. Like Abercrombie. Like Reynolds. Like Abraham. Like Erikson. And even though I wouldn’t say that Bennett writes like any one of these authors in particular, in reading this book I did find that he does have the chops to land himself in the same category of books as those storied authors: those of Books We Love.
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