Reviews by Writer Dan

Review

The Last Harvest

Posted: August 3, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: Kim Liggett, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
The Last Harvest

As I’m sitting down to write this review, I’m reminded of a card game that my oldest child taught us one night. It’s very similar to Uno, only played with a deck of face cards, and there are a whole lot of rules that the “director” of the game gets to make up. The rest of the players then spend the rest of the game trying to figure out what those rules are by watching the director abide by them and then trying to decipher what the rule governing the director’s actions might be. And then obviously duplicate all of them in such a way as to win the game before the director does. It is a wholly frustrating and ridiculous game, and I’ve forever banned it from being played at my house if I have to be involved. What can I say? I guess I just like knowing what the rules are when I get involved in something. That goes doubly for my reading experiences.
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Review

The Empty Ones

Posted: July 13, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: Robert Brockway, Urban Fantasy
The Empty Ones

So I was reading a book with my daughter the other day and she skipped half a line, mid-sentence. There were two “ands” in a single line and she went from one “and” to the other “and” without a beat. Just kept reading without realizing what she’d done. So, I called her on it. “How in the heck do you even do something like that?” I wondered aloud. We both had a good laugh over it. It was only considerably later that I realized while reading the book for this review I felt EXACTLY like I had when my daughter had skipped half the line while reading: like I was missing a ton of story that should have been there, but just wasn’t. No surprise on the rating then, eh? Yeah. This one was kind of a rough go. Okay, maybe not kind of.
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Review

Humanity 2.0

Humanity 2.0

This one comes as yet another in a long line of short-story anthologies that have fallen into my lap. Most of the others up to this point have been fantastical (urban, heroic, horrific), but this one instead is of the science-fictiony variety. More specifically, it tries to deal with how humanity might change when, not if, interstellar travel becomes possible. Was hoping for some goodness out of this bunch of stories. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much.
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Review

Arm of the Sphinx

Posted: June 15, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Josiah Bancroft, Fantasy
Arm of the Sphinx

Early in my author-hopeful career, I attended a meeting for a local writer’s group where a middle-aged woman gave a presentation about writing character. Somewhere in the middle, she made a statement along the lines of, “If you want to change your point-of-view-character in the middle of a chapter, you must do it very carefully.” She then read an excerpt from a book she’d written that contained just such a change in point of view. When she’d finished reading from her book, I admit that I was completely flummoxed, as I didn’t understand at all how she’d been “careful” during the point of view shift. At the time, I was considerably too timid to raise my hand and tell her that she’d done it wrong and that, in fact, there was no correct way to do such a thing and not risk losing your reader’s attention. These days I highly doubt I’d be quite so demure.
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Review

Cosmic Powers

Cosmic Powers

It feels like I’ve been reading a lot of short fiction lately. Well, more than usual anyhow. There’s something about the quick in and quick out that’s attracting me right now for some reason. Perhaps it’s because I’ve run into a dearth of new novels from my favorite authors and I need to find some new sources for brilliant storytelling. It’s kind of a disquieting feeling for me to not have something in my queue that I’m ridiculously excited to read. This anthology definitely fit the bill, and it was science fiction to boot, which is a genre I’m always looking to fill with new favorites. And this time around, I think I might have found one or two. Praise.
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Review

The Monstrous

Posted: May 18, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Ellen Datlow (Ed), Horror, Short Fiction
The Monstrous

There is a certain way that little old ladies look at you when they find you reading books with covers like this one. There were several times while reading the book, however, that not only did I catch some of those little-old-lady glances, but I caught myself looking at the book itself with what I imagine to be a very similar facial expression to those ladies. It’s been a while since I’ve come across quite so many great stories as those that have been contained in these horror anthologies compiled by Ellen Datlow. The best part is that I have one more of these beauties sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to sink my claws into it. And after this one, I can’t wait to do just that.
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Review

Sins of Empire

Posted: May 4, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Brian McClellan, Epic Fantasy
Sins of Empire

I’ve been meaning to read this guy’s books for quite a while now. Well, ever since his first book came out, because I heard it was pretty awesome, and how could you not love a story that mixed magic with black powder? For whatever reason, though, I just never picked one up. Until I listened to him speak at a writer’s convention. He mentioned something about how awesome Daniel Abraham’s most recent fantasy series was, and I figured if the guy loved Abraham’s method of storytelling, then he likely wouldn’t have written a bad book about black-powder mages, which was still a freaking cool idea, and I should give the guy a shot. The sooner the better. And after reading it, I think if you haven’t read his books yet, then you should “give him a shot” too. Ha. I kill myself sometimes.
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Review

Senlin Ascends

Senlin Ascends

So every once in a while I’ll perform what I affectionately call a “dummy test” to check and make sure I’m not being a dummy about something in particular. I have my opinions, my habits, my modus operandi, but as the world is constantly changing I figure I had better allow myself to change along with it every once in a while as well. It’s no secret (based entirely on my most recent SPFBO review) that I thought The Grey Bastards was head and shoulders better than any of the other entries that made their way into the final ten novels in the contest. After finishing my read of ALL of them, I happened to come upon some comments that Mark Lawrence made about one of the books that hadn’t made it past the initial winnowing of the bevvy of novel hopefuls: SENLIN ASCENDS. Specifically, he said that it was, “my best read, one of my favourite books of all time in fact. So read it.” Whoa. How then, I wondered, had it not won out in round one? I tried to read the story that had taken the proverbial cake in the first round of that group of stories, THE PATH OF FLAMES (EBR review), and quit after about 65 pages. So the situation left me wondering if I was a dummy, or if perhaps I might just like Senlin Ascends. So, I decided to put my money where my mouth was–or more specifically, I guess, my money where Mark Lawrence’s mouth was–and I bought both of the currently self-published Books of Babel.
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Review

Shadowed Souls

Shadowed Souls

When I saw that this anthology had a new Dresden story in it, I snatched it up quick and then found myself regretting the decision. Because, you see, I’m kind of still catching up on that freaking amazing series, and it only took reading the blurb on the back of the book to determine that this story takes place at a point in time significantly later than my current location in the series. Had the story been by anyone other than Jim Butcher, I likely would have canned the project and either handed the book off to another reviewer or not read the story before reviewing it the anthology myself. But the thing is, The Dresden books have been absolutely genius to read, and even though I like the twists and turns and revelations in that series a ton, so much of the story comes by living it through the experience of reading. And so, already somewhat spoiled, I committed to reading the Dresden story with the understanding that getting from where I am in the series to where this story takes place was still going to be awesome-sauce fantastic. Oh, and there were some other stories in this book too. Even some really good ones. 🙂
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Review

The Grey Bastards

The Grey Bastards

There are times that I grow tired of all the profanity and sexual content in books these days. I might have added violence here as well, but there is a part of me that realizes I’ve become fairly inured to it over the years, and as Dave Matthews has said, “I’m still a boy,” and boys do love to see a fight. 🙂 Still, it makes me happy to find a great book that avoids all the potentially offensive content. Now, up front, you should probably understand that this is definitely NOT one of those books. Yeesh no. Not by a long shot. But it was a story that made me think about the concept, because there was just so dang much of it. Now, I know many of you will likely be crying foul right now amidst references to all my “Books We Loved” reviews by authors like Joe Abercrombie and Sam Sykes. What I need to emphasize though is that in those cases it is the author’s ability to tell great story with great characters that I love, and rest of everything only plays second fiddle in comparison. But sometimes, one or two of those second fiddles can become kinda loud.
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Review

Revenger

Posted: February 23, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Alastair Reynolds, Science Fiction
Revenger

So I’ve been sitting on my hands for the last five months, fairly disgruntled, that I didn’t have this story in my hands yet, because it was published in the UK last September and as part of that cycle, released in ebook/Kindle format. I’m pretty much a hard-copy only kind of guy. I don’t buy eBooks. I’ll read them. I just don’t buy them, because I so love seeing all of those bound blocks of paper sitting on my bookshelves at home. As Tracy Hickman refers to them (per my sometimes sketchy memory), the “physical reminders of the experience we found within them”. I guess I always have the option of importing hard copies, but that can get expensive fast, and for the most part I end up just shaking my head and dealing with it. Regardless, it’s always nice to get a new Alastair Reynolds book.
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Review

Over Your Dead Body

Posted: February 9, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Dan Wells, Horror
Over Your Dead Body

I have a confession to make. Is there a booth around here somewhere? No? Dang. Okay, so here it is: I sometimes end up relying on EBR to let me know about upcoming books by authors that I love. I know. It’s horrible. Please don’t throw tomatoes though. I’m allergic. I’m having a difficult time even approaching the possibility that I might have missed the release of a John Cleaver book. But, WHAM!, up comes our Best-Of post, and I find John Cleaver book six sitting on the list of our own “2017’s Most Anticipated”. What happened to five? I wasn’t exactly okay with that situation. So, I bought it, read it, and now I get to review it. Because apparently the review fairy is being kind this year and left me a blank space on her dance card. And also, somehow, no one else got to it before me. Praise.
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Review

The Liberation

Posted: January 28, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Ian Tregillis, Alternate Historical Fiction
The Liberation

Endings are always tough when it comes to book series. For readers, for authors, and quite usually for the characters as well. They’re the showdown, the climax of everything written thus far, the point where we as readers have to say goodbye. For many, the ending is the part of the book, or series, that will determine whether you like or hate it, despite everything that has led you as a reader to the point. I’m more in the camp of “joy in the journey” than “how-does-it-end”. So, a great read that has a decent ending gets higher marks than a ho-hum read with a brilliant ending. It’s really nice though when I don’t have to make that distinction; when I get to read something that was a great series, had a great last book, and a great ending.
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Review

Babylon’s Ashes

Posted: January 12, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: James S.A. Corey, Science Fiction
Babylon’s Ashes

If you haven’t at least heard about this series by now, it’s likely that you’re not a fan of science fiction. If you’re looking to be a fan, this is a great series to start with as it is, in my not-so-humble opinion, one of the best Science Fiction series being written today. The writing duo of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck have been doing a bang up job of it, and this book has FINALLY arrived. I include the emphasis here only because it feels like I’ve been waiting for this book for so long, and nothing to do with the book being delayed. The authors have been doing a great job of keeping these books coming on a regular schedule, and I can do nothing but applaud the work they’ve done so far. That being said, it did feel like a long time since book five, and I know that has to be because of the zinger of a hit the story took, when the Free Navy finally brought their war from out of the shadows.
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Review

Red Right Hand

Posted: December 15, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Levi Black, Urban Fantasy
Red Right Hand

For the last few weeks I’ve been binge listening to the new Metallica album after finishing my last audio book. In amongst the new brilliance from this, one of my favorite bands, is a song called Dream No More that’s all about Cthulhu awakening from the deeps in which he resides. So, when I got this next book in the mail and checked out the Acknowledgements page that included a shout out to Lovecraft and the necessity of his Mythos to this book, it felt like I was already on board, strapped into my seat, and yanking on the whistle chain. Just couldn’t wait to grab it and go, go, go.
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Review

Battlefield Earth

Posted: December 1, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Like...and Hate Meta: L. Ron Hubbard, Science Fiction
Battlefield Earth

I’ve been hearing about this book for a long time from a few friends of mine, and so it has been on my TBR list for a while now, but I have to admit it wasn’t ranked very high. And then, lo and behold, I get notification that they’ve made an audio book out of the thing and I’m getting a free copy in the mail for my listening pleasure as long as I’ll post an honest review of it afterward and then pass the copy on to my local library. As my father always says, “Such a deal!” Once I got the thing though, I found I was in for a bit more than I’d expected, for the copy of the audiobook I received was 44 CDs long. Guess I hadn’t realized just how long the book was (despite the fact that I have a paperback copy sitting on my shelves at home). And the recording wasn’t just an “audio book”. It’s “dramatized”, which I haven’t seen a lot of in the past. The recording included the talent of 65 voice actors performing almost 200 individual characters and included more than 150,000 different sound effects. Pretty impressive, eh?
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Review

The Doll Collection

Posted: November 17, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Ellen Datlow (Ed), Horror, Short Fiction
The Doll Collection

Dolls can be creepy. We’ve been telling horror stories about dolls for ages. Usually, it’s only through the darkened glass of adulthood though that these constructions of plastic, wood, cloth, and porcelain become anything more than the facimilies of infantile life they represent. That’s why evil dolls and the innocent youngsters that tote them around so often find themselves brought together. Occasionally though, a story, or a doll, comes along that lacks these boundaries. Just ask my toddler-aged niece about the sunken-eyed “Scary Doll” that haunts the hallways of my own house. These are the kinds of stories that I expected going into this collection, based solely on the very creepy front cover of the book. And there were definitely some of those that I found within.
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Review

Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard

Posted: November 3, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Lawrence M. Schoen, Science Fiction
Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard

I’ve had this book for a long time. Like, a long time. Completely my fault. Well, more appropriately my bias’s fault, because the quick-uptake I did of the book when I first got it revealed that it was science fiction. So, it got shelved until just recently, in favor of other books that I thought I’d likely enjoy more. Now, after finally picking it up off the shelf and reading the thing, I’m feeling REALLY bad that it took so long because this is a great book.
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Review

What Dreams Shadows Cast

Posted: October 21, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Barbara J. Webb, Science Fantasy
What Dreams Shadows Cast

Hey, how’s it going, Barbara? Sorry it’s been a while since you sent us this novel, and I’m only now getting to a response for you. Life, as they say, has a away; what with SPFBO-round-twos, vacations to Hawai’i, and other such takers of precious time. Anyhow, thought I’d drop you a line because I was really quite excited to read the next story in your Dying World series. Hope this format is okay as well. I know you might get the feeling that a few others are reading over your shoulder, and you’re totally right. They are. 🙂 But you should be used to that by now, what with having so many of your stories out in the wild. So, here you go.
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Review

The Great Ordeal

Posted: October 6, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Like...and Hate Meta: R. Scott Bakker, Epic Fantasy
The Great Ordeal

There’s this unfortunate but sometimes entirely true analogy I’ve heard about how particular kids can be a kind of birth control for their parents. If the kid is especially difficult or energetic, they’ll entirely remove the desire of the parents to have another one anytime soon. Despite this, it is also true that time is the great eraser of memory, and after long enough even the trauma of those months and years can fade away and parents will find themselves diving back into the shark pond of parenthood once again. I found myself in a very similar state of mind, and yet completely cognizant of the decision that I was making, when I picked this book up. After all, I had been less than satisfied with the previous book in the series, but still I found myself wanting to read this next one. Thus, it came as no real surprise to me that it had been something like five years since THE WHITE-LUCK had been released, and I was able to uncheck the mental box that was pleading insanity and instead was able to chalk it up to good old memory loss given the ravages of time. And yet, once I got into the book, I found much of my same feelings about the previous book rushing back in to fill the supposed void of time. So much for memory loss.
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Review

A Borrowed Man

Posted: September 20, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Gene Wolfe, Science Fiction
A Borrowed Man

I was first introduced to the works of Gene Wolfe through the Books of the New Sun and the torturer Severian. Found the first of those on one of the random, wandering trips I took through the college library during my graduate school years. There were lots of those, and now it seems like they were longer ago than they actually are. I got through the first book in that series and then half of the second from what I remember. They were interesting enough, but didn’t really keep my interest, so I moved on to something I liked a little better. Funny enough, this book obviously included a library and I hadn’t read any Gene Wolfe in a while, so I was fairly excited to dive into it.
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Review

Sharp Ends

Posted: August 25, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Joe Abercrombie, Dark Fantasy
Sharp Ends

It is unsurprising and yet somewhat telling that when I received this book in the mail from Amazon, I was completely surprised not only by the fact that it was a small book but also that it was a collection of short stories. When I’d found out about “Abercrombie’s next book” I instantly pre-ordered the thing and eagerly anticipated the date of its arrival. Unphased in the slightest (though slightly disappointed, if I’m being honest, by the fact that it wasn’t a full novel) I dove into it’s pages and lost myself in the world of the First Law.
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Review

Morning Star

Posted: August 11, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Pierce Brown, Dystopian SF
Morning Star

I like movies. They’re fun and entertaining and worthy of our time as consumers. Well, at least some of them are. Books are much the same, and we here at EBR are more than willing to tell you which of them you should be willing to give your precious time to. In this aspect, books and movies are quite similar. They are also quite different though. For instance, story-telling techniques that work well in a movie, don’t always work good in a book, and vice versa. Sometimes catastrophically so. I was reminded of this fact quite pointedly while reading this book. Mainly because I know they’re working on the movie for Red Rising, the first book of this series. A movie that, in my opinion, cannot come soon enough, but better not come before it is absolutely perfect, dangit. Because this series deserves a perfect movie.
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Review

Good Girls

Posted: July 29, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Glen Hirshberg, Horror
Good Girls

Do you remember when the movie Wrath of the Titans came out? It was a sequel to a remake of Clash of the Titans, made back in ’81, which didn’t have a sequel. I remember seeing the trailer for Wrath that first time and having that moment of temporary disorientation–as if the world had just tilted on its end and sent my head spinning–thinking that this movie shouldn’t exist. The first one was a remake after all. I almost felt the exact same way when I saw this book in my lineup. Just hadn’t expected it, I guess. After taking a quick glance back at the first book though, I realized that there was the beginnings of a slightly-larger story that the author had been setting up, and so a sequel–nay, a TRILOGY!–actually made perfect sense. Now, if only we can get someone to make a third Titans movie…
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Review

An Affinity for Steel

Posted: July 14, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Sam Sykes, Fantasy
An Affinity for Steel

It’s not very often that I get to write one of these kind of reviews. I had couple of them a few years ago when (oddly enough) Orbit picked up another favorite author of mine and did a new printing in omnibus fashion of an earlier series of his. In these instances, it never even crosses my mind to skip over reviewing such a book. It gives me a chance not only to go back and remember my reading experience with them (actually, I remember saying something recently about wanting to do that for this series…), but mostly to introduce new readers to an awesome author. And also doing our best to help the current publisher of our favorite authors might be wrapped up in there somewhere too as well. So, lots of reasons to write such a review. Pick any of them. Pick all of them. Just know that I’m happy to be able to do my part.
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Review

Golden Son

Posted: July 1, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Pierce Brown, Dystopian SF
Golden Son

I think I’ve mentioned before just how utterly cool it is to have this job as a reviewer. The other week I was having this conversation with a couple guys from work that went something like this:

Guy1 to Guy2: You like reading fantasy, Guy2. You should read Dan’s review blog.
Guy2 to Me: You have a blog? Which one?
Me to Guy2: Elitist Book Reviews. It’s a website now, but yeah I write for them.
Guy2 to Me: Wait. You write for Elitist Book Reviews?

Turns out he’d been following our site for quite some time and we were only then figuring it out. Way cool stuff. Love it when that happens. Of course, there are down-sides to the job too. The one that probably irks me the most is that there are times when I just don’t feel like I have the free time to read a book off-the-schedule that I’d like to because I really need to read from my ever-growing review pile in order to keep up with what I’ve committed to writing. Occasionally though, I do get to go off track for a bit, and thus it was, with a good degree of tardiness, that I finally got around to read Red Rising (EBR Review) recently. Immediately after finishing, I ran out and got Golden Son, because RED was seriously amazing. And now I’m here writing this, and I’m able to tell you that the next book in the series is just as amazing, if not completely more so.
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Review

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys

So, I totally picked this audiobook off the shelf because the cover totally caught my eye and the title latched me solid before I could move my eyes away. Absolutely couldn’t pass it up once I’d seen it, and I’m so glad that I read this one. Lots of potential in a title like that, don’t you think? Well, if you’re in for a little horror that is, and we’re usually game for that around here at EBR. And even though all of the stories weren’t exclusively about slasher girls and monster boys — there were, for instance, some slasher boys and some monster girls, heh heh — nearly all of the stories did a great job of staying true to the theme of the anthology.
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Review

The Mortal Tally

Posted: May 26, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Sam Sykes, Epic Fantasy
The Mortal Tally

I don’t typically re-read books. Aside from the fact that I just don’t have the time for it–too much new stuff to read all the time–I rarely come across a novel that calls me back loudly enough to hear it over the call of all that new stuff. While reading this novel though, I found that the voice wanting me to re-read the earlier books in this series was rising, because of just how much the story is now beginning to open up, and I’m wanting to go back and see what I’ve missed by not understanding just how large the story and the world that Sykes is building here actually is. As such, this is absolutely not a fantasy novel to miss.
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Review

Champions of Aetaltis

Champions of Aetaltis

Whilst in the midst of reading this anthology I was reminded of a concept that is occasionally important for me to revisit. That is the idea that my opinion is not everybody’s opinion, AND (a twofer for the masses…) there can frequently be a wide range of goodness separating multiple stories written by a single author. Thus, as a reviewer, it’s my job to give an honest review of what is given to me, and, quite honestly, to enjoy what is given to me as a reader, plain and simple. For it is when I forget that I am a reader that I lose the view of who these stories were meant for. Maybe a little deep for an everyday book review intro. I seem to be on a kick lately though. So, if you must, TLDR; this bit and jump straight into the good stuff.
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Review

The Devil You Know

Posted: April 26, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: K.J. Parker, Fantasy
The Devil You Know

This is yet another novella in the numerous offerings that have been dropped recently from the infamous K.J. Parker. I’m a sucker for these kinds of stories from him. (See that? I’m getting better at this whole K.J.-Parker-is-a-guy-thing.) His short fiction is some of my favorite. It’s his writing, I think, that just lends itself to the short form so well. Sharp. Witty. Sarcastic. Always something to entertain and make me laugh.
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Review

The Spider’s War

Posted: April 8, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Daniel Abraham, Epic Fantasy
The Spider’s War

Back when I first heard that Daniel Abraham had signed a contract to do these books, I was uber excited. I’d absolutely loved his Long Price Quartet and had been anticipating what he would do next. The Dagger and The Coin series has been one of my favorite series to read these last few years, and now that it’s all over… of course I’m looking frantically to find out what this guy is going to do next. As with most series-ending books, I had a tough time reading this one. I wanted it all now, now, now, but at the same time I found myself avoiding it. Letting it sit on the shelf, when I normally would have been busily reading away. This was the end, and I was going to miss this world, these characters, their stories. But, as with death and taxes, all of Mr. Abraham’s stories (at least thus far) have all had a definitive end. And this one was no different.
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Review

Downfall of the Gods

Posted: March 31, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: K.J. Parker, Fantasy
Downfall of the Gods

I feel blessed. I couldn’t have been more happy to see some potential goodness like this story show up in the mailbox to help me out of the funk that most of my last few reads have left floating around in my head. What better to help me out than a novella from one of my favorite authors? Although, I was kind of surprised to find yet another novella coming from Mr. Parker. It seems as though, despite all evidence to the contrary that such a sales model doesn’t typically work, at least one author has figured out how make a goodly number of sales with fiction that is short of novel length. Hmm. Go figure. A sign of good things to come? Hopefully, my friends. Hopefully. 🙂
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Review

Jonesbridge

Posted: March 25, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: M.E. Parker, Science Fiction
Jonesbridge

Bad writing. We all know it’s out there, and unfortunately the odds are that eventually it will end up landing in our lap. When it happens in a book I’m reviewing I have one of two options: can the read, or mention the fact in my review. I really don’t feel like I can do anything else. Sometimes it baffles me how certain levels of writing can make it through the publication gamut. I mean, I expected to find some as I strolled through the SPFBO, and I did, but some of it was also quite good. But when a book has gone through a publication house, it seems to me that there should be some base-minimum level of goodness that applies because if the book doesn’t sell any copies, the publishers don’t make any money. Although, a good friend of mine had her books picked up by a small publication house and she got just about zero editing help. So. What can one really expect?
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Review

INCI

Posted: March 15, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Mike Resnick, Science Fiction
INCI

After seeing my most recent review of a Mike Resnick book, you might be surprised that I’d pick up another so quick. The fact of the matter is that I actually read this one before that one, but there’s a condition that most reviewers have where if they really love or really hate a book, it’s oh so easy to drop everything else, forget the queue, and just bang that one out first. The fact that this happened with my previous Resnick review should probably tell you that there wasn’t much to this book, and you’d be mostly right, but let’s be complete and get all the details, because it wasn’t all that bad…
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Review

The Widow’s House

Posted: March 11, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Daniel Abraham, Epic Fantasy
The Widow’s House

I vividly remember reading a review of THE DRAGON’S PATH when it was first released, and the reviewer was complaining about the lackluster magic system that “sounded a whole lot like ‘those aren’t the droids you’re looking for'”. At the time, I wanted to berate him for suggesting that a Daniel Abraham book would contain a magic system as benign as something like that. Although, given the facts available at the time, I wouldn’t have been able to provide him with anything definitive that said his opinion was wrong. It was only that there absolutely WAS more to the magic system, and I KNEW it. After reading this penultimate volume of the series, I could now provide him with some great examples of why his opinion isn’t true. In much the same way that there were no dragons in that first volume and now we’ve finally got one. Yes, there is one, and if that’s a spoiler to anyone at this point, then you’re even further behind in finding this brilliant series than I am in finally writing this review. Although, my review is just in time for the lead up to the final novel in the series. So, lemme prattle on for a bit and hopefully whet your whistle for that one, if I may.
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Review

The Aeronaut’s Windlass

Posted: March 2, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Jim Butcher, Epic Fantasy, Steampunk
The Aeronaut’s Windlass

I’m kind of a late-comer to the whole Jim Butcher Bandwagon. I tried his first book of the Codex Alera series and wasn’t all that impressed. A few years later I read STORM FRONT and thought it was decent, but nothing to crow about. Perhaps preemptive, yes, but I think I’ve mentioned my tolerance level for good story somewhere. Then fairly recently, I knocked out books two and three of the Dresden series because people would just not shut up about them… and I haven’t been able to get enough of that series ever since; cramming another book in whenever I can. I’m about halfway to caught up with it right now. I’ve been telling myself for more than a few months now that I needed to pick up this new series, because seriously how could it not be awesome? So,when I found it on audio book laying around at my local library, I checked to be sure we hadn’t already reviewed it and then snatched it up. Really glad that I did.
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Review

Doctor Sleep

Posted: February 25, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Stephen King, Horror
Doctor Sleep

Stephen King is one of those authors I continue to pick up despite the fact that I’m frequently frustrated by the way his books end. There’s just too much good he does right to completely sign off and avoid reading his stuff. This is most especially true when it comes to the way his books begin. This book was one that I was really intrigued with and considerably interested in reading because it’s a sequel to THE SHINING (Amazon), which is probably one of the most preeminent ghost stories ever written. A really creepy book. Was hoping for much the same from its sequel.
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Review

The Fortress in Orion

Posted: February 19, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Hate Meta: Mike Resnick, Science Fiction
The Fortress in Orion

I’d missed this book in the lineup of new Science Fiction, and honestly hadn’t thought to look, but was reminded about it when the second book in this series showed up in a new batch of books to read. The relatively short page count and the fact that it was only number two in the series prompted me to pick up this book first so that I wouldn’t be ignorant going into number two. As it turns out though, I needn’t have worried overly much. By way of resurrecting an old review method of mine, here is this book in ten words:

Military man and operatives waltz through mission to supplant dictator.

Immediately after reading it, I read the first few chapters of book two, and I’m having a very difficult time believing that the first eight words of that book’s ten-word summary wouldn’t be identical. Setting that opinion aside for now though, here’s the skinny on this one.
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Review

Blood Kin

Posted: February 12, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Steve Rasnic Tem, Horror
Blood Kin

I don’t mention cover art all that much in my reviews. It’s likely a failing of mine, but for some reason or another it only very seldomly comes up when I’m putting together my thoughts on a book. This time around though, I really have to mention it because it not only introduced the setting of the novel just perfectly (worth a thousand words and more), but also gave me a solid image to build upon while reading the beginning of the book, which was quite good all on its own, but brilliantly set when paired with the cover.
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Review

Poseidon’s Wake

Posted: January 26, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Alastair Reynolds, Science Fiction
Poseidon’s Wake

Some of the main drives, I believe, of the Science Fiction genre are to instill in the reader a sense of awe and wonder and introduce the idea of the ubiquitous question: What if? Sadly, I have to admit that I’ve never really had that experience in my reading of Science Fiction. There are times, however, when I take the opportunity to stop and just stare up into the starry night sky. It is during those times that I have absolutely felt that sense of awe and wonder and have begun to speculate just what might be up there amidst the stars and planets and vast, sprawling majesty of the universe around us. I’ve always wanted that same experience when reading a good Science Fiction book. I just haven’t ever gotten it. Until Alastair Reynolds wrote this book and gave me one.
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Review

The Unnoticeables

Posted: January 15, 2016 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Robert Brockway, Urban Fantasy
The Unnoticeables

This book immediately caught my attention when I first saw it. The bright colors and dark, almost rorschach-testness of the images were immediately arresting, and the summary on the inside cover did even more to get me excited about reading this one. The impression as a whole was one of weird stuff in the modern world, which falls into the category of Urban Fantasy, although I don’t know if it really fits into that subgenre wholesale. Regardless, this book like any other had a job to do when it landed in front of me:

  1. Catch my eye
  2. Get me to open the cover and read
  3. Catch my interest with its premise
  4. Start me reading Chapter 1

And it absolutely succeeded on all those levels. If I had been a regular schmoe, bumming around the book store, looking for the next good read, this book would have had some serious mojo for me to try and ignore for it to not end up in my hand when I got back into my car. But past that point, what is it’s job? And how did this one stack up where it really matters: inside the content of the book. Check it out.
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Review

The Rising

Posted: December 24, 2015 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Ian Tregillis, Alternate Historical Fiction
The Rising

At the time I had no idea how it might be possible, but when I got the email saying that this book was headed my way I was totally taken by surprise. As soon as I got it, I barreled through its pages, loving every minute and was completely impressed when I got to the end. Then, as I sat down to write this review, I casually glanced at the publication date of the first book in this series, THE MECHANICAL, and realized why the follow-up hadn’t even been on my radar: the first book was published in March of this year. Whoa. Then I got to be super impressed because not only had this book really entertained me, but it had been released a paltry nine months after its predecessor.
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Review

Seveneves

Posted: December 10, 2015 by Writer Dan in Books We Like...and Hate Meta: Neal Stephenson, Science Fiction
Seveneves

It’s been a while since I read a Stephenson book, and I was in need of his kind of storytelling. Smart, funny, character-centric, inventive, informative — his books, for me, stand tall and somewhat apart from so much of the other writing out there. This one pushed a lot of my buttons, but strained my patience quite a bit, too. It’s a novel for our times. A story of very-near Science Fiction that is about an apocalypse that we haven’t read before (e.g., planetary self-destruction, religious fruition). This one could happen tomorrow, and I think, for the most part, it could all feasibly happen. Made it personal for me and fun to boot.
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Review

The Vital Abyss

Posted: November 23, 2015 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: James S.A. Corey, Science Fiction
The Vital Abyss

Today is the day, and so I thought I’d drop this little review for the newest Expanse novella now. But today is the day that the first episode of SyFy’s series The Expanse airs on internet media. It still won’t officially premiere on the SyFy channel until the two-night release on December 14th/15th, but as of today you can watch the first episode on a pretty fair-sized group of online locations. So, if you’re as ridiculously excited to watch this thing as I am, you can now get a little taste of what is to come. But stick around and check out my review of this first, if you will. Cause if you’re a fan, you’re not going to want to miss this story either.
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Review

Luna: New Moon

Posted: November 20, 2015 by Writer Dan in Books We Hate Meta: Ian McDonald, Science Fiction
Luna: New Moon

After getting a taste of all of the excitement surrounding the SyFy production of The Expanse, it came as no real surprise to me that other TV networks might want to try and jump on the proverbial band wagon. CBS recently announced that they are going to be producing a new TV series based on this novel, and thus I was more than a little intrigued to read this one and see just what kind of “competition” CBS would be trying to bring to the table.
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Review

The Last Witness

Posted: November 6, 2015 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: K.J. Parker, Fantasy, Short Fiction
The Last Witness

Yet another story that comes at a time just rife with new offerings from the fantasy author after a short hiatus. SAVAGES (EBR Review) and the serial novel THE TWO OF SWORDS (Amazon), are two full novels that were released just a few months apart from one another. This one is something more along the lines of a novella, but it’s also one that I didn’t expect given the recent outpouring of new material. Can’t say that I’m disappointed though. In fact, I was far from it.
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Review

Rise of the Automated Aristocrats

Rise of the Automated Aristocrats

It was with a high level of excitement and healthy dose of trepidation that I dove into this book. Another Burton and Swinburne novel for me! But alas, it was the last of its kind. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first read that this would be the end of this amazing series. I’ve had so much fun reading this one, with each story building upon the previous one, and taking me further into the brilliantly detailed chaos of Hodder’s genius. The back of the book promised an explosive conclusion to the Spring-Heeled Jack series, and although I only wanted more! more! more! I still found myself curious how the tale I began a scant five years ago would resolve itself in the end.
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Review

City of Burning Shadows

City of Burning Shadows

For those of you who have been following the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Mark Lawrence has been running for the last six months, you’ll know that we’re into the final round where, theoretically, the ten best novels of the approximately 275 that were submitted are now in our hands. For those of you who weren’t aware of this… you now are. The reading process has moved along smashingly well for me. In fact, significantly better than it should be. As of this moment, I’ve placed my completion mark on all of the stories I’ve been given thus far and only completely finished reading two of them: the one that we submitted to the pool from the first round, THE THIEF WHO PULLED ON TROUBLE’S BRAIDS (EBR Review), and this one. Unlike any of the other stories in the finalists’ pool, this one immediately grabbed me, immediately impressed me, and immediately impressed upon me that it was going to be a brilliant read.
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