Iron & Blood (Expansion Wars #2) ★★★☆ ½

ironblood (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Iron & Blood
Series: Expansion Wars #2
Author: Joshua Dalzelle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 362
Format: Digital Edition



The Darshik have declared war on the Federation and taken over the star system Juwel and its single human occupied planet of Juwel.

A force of Marines reached the planet’s surface but none of their supplies did. Jackson Wolfe must run the barricade that the Darshik have set upto deliver vital supplies if the Federation wants to keep Juwel under their control.

A taskforce, under the control of Edward Rawls, is tasked with providing support to Jackson to give him fighting support. It was supposed to be led by Celesta Wright, but she has been pulled to transport the Federations top diplomat to another meeting with the Ushik.

Rawls’ cowards out, leaving Jackson high and dry. The Ushin ship is destroyed by a stealth Darshik ship so Celesta heads back to support Wolfe. Everyone fights and kicks the Darshik’s butt. They also discover a huge construct on the planet, which appears to be a Quick Terraforming Device, ie, it will only take 10 years to convert the atmosphere to something the Darshik can use.

The Federation Wins. And it is revealed that the Ushin and the Darshik are the same species but controlled by very different ideologies.


My Thoughts:

I hate to say this, but I think that Jackson Wolfe is back into the storyline. While the plot was split between him and his protege Celesta, it “felt” like he had a greater part. Dalzelle really tried, in the previous book, to create another “hero” character with Celesta Wright but he just didn’t have the same handle on her that he had on Jackson Wolfe.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Wolfe. He was what drew me into Dalzelle’s writing with his Black Fleet trilogy. But a really good author can create another character and still keep you invested. I think that Dalzelle is a good author but has not yet reached that “really good” peak yet. I was really hoping he’d break that barrier and that Celesta Wright would be someone who could carry the story on her own shoulders. She was more of a really good supporting character this time around.

The space battles were pretty good. Having the super-stealth Darshik ship was awesome and I really liked how the characters reacted to having such a threat around. There was a tiny bit of ground based battles with the marines and some Juwel militia against the Darshik, but it wasn’t much. I’m a ground forces kind of guy, so more on-planet fighting would have been nice. However, the main characters are all starship captains, so ground fighting is not going to be a thing.

Right on the covers of these books it says it is a trilogy. I suspect that there will be another trilogy after this to wrap this storyline up. You just can’t start an interstellar war in book 1, scratch the surface of it in book 2 and wrap up things in book 3. That might have worked with the Phage in the Black Fleet trilogy, but that was a different series. But I am looking forward to the final book in the Expansion Wars trilogy, whenever it may come out.

★★★☆ ½



  1. New Frontiers (Expansion Wars Book 1)
  2. Warship (Black Fleet Book 1)
  3. Call to Arms (Black Fleet Book 2)
  4. Counterstrike (Black Fleet Book 3)

The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter – General Update

32177852Ok, this post is a promo post about a book that I’m excited for.

I’ve been reading Sullivan’s various Riyria books since 2010. I’ve enjoyed all 10 books of them so far.

Sullivan is a hybrid author, doing his thing for the Publishers while releasing other books as an indie. He’s one of the few indies I don’t rant on, as he does a good job of actually DOING his job as an author.

His newest book, The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter, is coming out December 5th. However, much like with his Death of Dulgath, he’s going to be doing a Kickstarter for it to provide hardcovers and trade paperbacks for those of us who love more than just ebooks or mass market paperbacks. Here is his latest post about the project:

In His Own Words


Quick and dirty? Kickstarter starts October 1st, runs for 3 weeks. There will be early bird specials, just like for Dulgathand be aware, the early bird specials for that were GONE within HOURS of the kickstarter going live. I’m going to be backing this project and hope that I can get in on the early bird stuff this time around.

I’ll try to do another post the day before the Kickstarter starts, just as a reminder to anyone who is interested. You can also get on the email list from Sullivan’s post so you’ll be auto-reminded.




Stonewielder (Malazan Empire #3) ★★★☆ ½

stonewielder (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Stonewielder
Series: Malazan Empire #3
Author: Ian Esslemont
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 638
Format: Digital Edition




Emperor Mallick sends another army and navy to take over Korel, where all previous attempts have failed. Not only that, but the one time a Malazan army DID make it through, they cut off ties and setup their own little kingdom. Time for the Emperor to remind them that they’re still his subjects. Almost all green troops bolstered by a navy of Blue Moranth. Facing them are veterans and turncoats and a whole contingent of Black Moranth.

Kyle and Greymane, trying to live life as teachers at a dueling school, aren’t doing quite so well. Greymane gets drafted by the Emperor to lead the invasion. I’m still not sure how the Emperor convinced a former Crimson Guardsman to do that! Kyle’s along for the ride as an Adjunct.

Lord Hiam is protecting the Wall that borders the sea and Korel. He and his special guards fight year after year for The Lady, throwing back the annual attacks by the Stormriders, magical sea people. For years they have used unwilling prisoners as well. This year, unbeknownst to them, they have some captive Crimson Guard. Understaffed, the Wall in desperate need of repair and the Lady’s Favor apparently turning against her own Chosen, Hiam has only his faith to sustain him and with the revelations about the Lady at the end, even that will shatter.

The Cult of the Lady is trying to wipe out all other religions in Korel. The Lady thrives on blood sacrifice and it is by that power that she can hold back the power of the Stormriders. She also negates all magic associated with the Warrens, so Malazan magicians are almost useless. In response, all the poor people of the land unite under a mystical prophet who quickly dies and passes on his legacy to some Arena Champion who has vowed to never kill again.

Politics and religion each using the other to further their own agenda.

And some little side thing with Kiska, from Night of Knives, looking for Tayschrenn, who has been sucked into some sort of vortex’y thing’y.


My Thoughts:

I had waited to read the Malazan Empire novels until after I’d finished the Malazan Book of the Fallen. So when I was reading these and their lack of pages of banal philosophizing, which I got in spades in the last 3 Books of the Fallen, I was overjoyed. So much action, so much story actually moving forward.

This time around, I wasn’t quite as enthused. My main complaint is that there are just too many story lines going on. Not storylines that all come together in the end, but that are multibook. My other complaint was HOW the stories were broken up. Sometimes you’d get pages and pages and pages. Then would come a 2 paragraph insert. Then on over to a 3rd storyline, etc, etc. And as far as I could tell, there was no repetitive order to them to help you remember. It felt like a jumble all thrown together.

The action was pretty good. I liked that.

With all of that, I’m definitely going to be reading Esslemon’t latest, Dancer’s Lament, before I read anymore of the Malazan Empire novels. If I don’t like it, then I won’t feel guilty about stopping these as well.

★★★☆ ½


  1. Stonewielder (2011 Review)
  2. Return of the Crimson Guard (Book 2)
  3. Night of Knives (Book 1)

The “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire” Mystery Blogger Award

Yesterday Kelly tagged me in a post of hers for one of those Award posts. I politely thanked her and told her I had NO intention of doing it, because I’m me, and that means I’m contrary, at times, just because.

So here I am, 24hrs later, showing what a Liar I am. *insert very loud fire engine noises*

With that spirited intro, here we go!



The Rules:

There are NO Rules! That’s why this is a Mystery. Who knows what the rules are?


Three Things About Me:

I am 7ft tall.

I’m totally a vegan.

I would rather poke out my eyes than sit on a couch all day, reading a book and listening to Enya. Ugh!


Questions From Kelly:


1) What is a book that you can read over and over again?

Space VampiresIt’s just SO smexylicious!!

2) What is your least favorite book you’ve read?

Probably Way-Farer by Dennis Schmidt. I hate that book so much I’ve read it at least 5 times, just to torture myself.

3) Where is your favorite place to relax and de-stress?

Work. Nothing relaxes me like a couple of feet of snow and sub-freezing temperatures!

4) What is your favorite thing to buy other than books?

Rockstar. I drink it by the gallon until my heart explodes from all the caffeine!

5) Coffee or tea?

I prefer the Blood of My Enemies. Zesty tangy drink with that great iron after-taste!


My Questions for Nominees: 

How many banks have you robbed?

Would you rather die by eating Mcdonalds fast food or drowning in someone else’s sweat?

Do you know our lord and destroyer, Saint Cthulhu?

Which torturous death would you give your dear old mum from the movie The Abominable Dr. Phibes?


My Best Posts: (I’m being Fo’Real, schizzle mcdizzle, on dis one!)

A Milestone

Night of Knives  (what?!  I have NO idea why to be honest)

I Will Make Them Cry



I Nominate:


And if I see this post going around, I’ll hunt the perpetrators down like rabid kittens!



Teeny little postscript:

Thanks Kelly. This was a lot of fun to twist around and I never would have done it if you hadn’t given me the initial push!



Rivers of London (Peter Grant #1) ★★★☆ ½

rivers (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Rivers of London
Series: Peter Grant #1
Author: Ben Aaronovich
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 396
Format: Digital Edition




Peter Grant is a constable in good ol’ Merry England. Of course, he’s not actually a very good constable. In fact,he’s being shuffled over to the section that deals with all that nasty paperwork stuff, because there, he’ll be “making a contribution”.

Until the night that he sees a ghost while guarding a murder scene.

He then is taken as the apprentice to the apparantly sole magical cop and starts hunting down the killer from the murder scene. With the help of the ghost, Father Thames and Mother Thames (who are having a turf war at the moment), his friend who he wants to be more than a friend and his “Master”.

Peter Grant solves the case, but not without several instances of random people beating each other to death with a 4foot club and then having their faces fall off. Oh,and don’t forget the riot filled with all the cultured people from the opera, who go out for a night of looting, vandalism and a little murder on the side.

Along with all this, it is up to Peter, as part of his apprenticeship, to solve the problem of the Thames’.

That’s asking a bit much from a loser like Peter who can’t concentrate on one thing for more than 10minutes.


My Thoughts:

I read the Gollancz edition of this book, which is the proper English release. I kind of wish I had read the American release entitled Midnight Riot. One, I think that Midnight Riot is much more of an apt title for this book’s specific villain and two, I would hope that some of the slang would be changed to make actual sense to someone who doesn’t live in downtown London. It might have been English, but it wasn’t the Queen’s English, that is for sure.

And that was about my only complaint.

I don’t enjoy Urban Fantasy for the most part, not even Harry Dresden. But every once in a while a book or series will transcend the inherent weakness in this sub-genre, the cliched banality, the soap opera level pointless dramatics, the “makes no sense whatsoever” so called romance and impress me. So I tend to be rather hard on the poor book when it comes from “that side of the tracks”. Oh, all those “quotes”? Another thing I hate about UF.

But this isn’t a rant about me hating on UF. It is a review of a book that I rather enjoyed when I wasn’t sure I was going to or not.

There was a lot more dry humor than I was expecting. For about the first 75% anyway. I enjoyed the style of humor and never found it boring or over the top. Then things got serious and the humor went away. I missed that. The magic system wasn’t explained, but since I’m not a huge “give me the details” kind of guy when it comes to spaceships or magic, I was pretty ok with that. I know some people thrive on “world building” like that though, so be aware.

The Rivers of London bit was well done too. Every river having its own little godling? And it all being a family thing? Top notch. We’ll see how, or if, it plays into the series in a bigger way or not. But considering that one of the nyads has a thing for old Petey and he’s not saying no, and his friend/dream lover that will never be, is potentially out of the picture and that Peter pissed off one of the older nyads, well, there is just too much potential story there to let it all go to waste.

Glad I started this and I hope it continues strong. If the series stays as good as this story, I’ll probably be bumping my ratings up to at least a 4star.

★★★☆ ½



Sixth Watch (Night Watch #6) ★★★★☆

sixthwatch (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Sixth Watch
Series: Night Watch #6
Author: Sergei Lukyanenko
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 403
Format: Digital Edition




A rogue vampire has started biting people in broad daylight and what’s more, they’re just taking a “sip” from each victim. Anton figures out that the vampire is sending a coded message to him using the initials of the victims.

Once he figures that out, ALL the prophets have the exact same foretelling. Something dealing with the numbers 1-6 and the End of All Life on Earth.

So both Watches, Night and Day, give all acting Authority to Anton to figure out what is going on. It turns out that an old Agreement by the Sixth Watch and the Twilight, in the personafication of the Two In One, has been breached and that gives the Two In One the right to wipe humanity down to 1%.

The solution is to invoke the Sixth Watch, which involves both Watches, the Witches, the Vampires and Other “Others”. Huge sacrifices are made by many people and the Agreement is null and voided. Humanity and the “Others” are all saved.

Anton is sacrificed and gives up his “Other” powers and becomes truly human. Thus ends his story in the Night Watch universe.


My Thoughts:

What a great end to this series. This was just as good as all the previous books and had that perfect mix of pathos, humor, tension, fear and maturity.

I think what I liked best about this book and the series, even while I’m opposed to it, is the fact that Anton goes from an idealistic Light One to a pragmatic Human. I suspect I enjoyed his journey because in SO many ways it mirrors my own journey through life.

I also liked how Anton’s sacrifices include having his family make sacrifices. The load wasn’t all on his shoulders and there was nothing he could do about it. Watching his 16year old daughter choose to sacrifice her future as a Zero Ultimate Other, man, that’s tough.

While there are a lot more stories to be told in the Watch series, I suspect that Lukyanenko has reached the end of his interest and thus chose to wrap things up nice and neat. Anton has always been the center of the stories and with his story done, I think the flavor would irrevocably change, enough so to affect any future stories.

This is one of the few Urban Fantasies that I’ve been able to stomach over the last couple of years and I think that speaks well to Lukyanenko’s skill. I also think it shows that somewhere I’ve got some Russian blood in my past. That or I’m the reincarnation of Turgenev. Haha.




  1. Night Watch (Book 1)
  2. Day Watch (Book 2)
  3. Twilight Watch (Book 3)
  4. Last Watch (Book 4)
  5. New Watch (Book 5)

Book Tag: The TBR Tag

Saw this at Dragon & Zombies a little bit ago and decided I’d save it and do it later. Later is now Now.

Picture heavy and complicated. I had a lot of fun putting this together though, as organizing things brings joy to my heart.





How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

This is a complicated procedure, at least the setup. Once it’s setup, then it rolls along like a well oiled machine.

  1. Choose a book to put on my TBR
  2. Put said book into Calibre with the TBR tag and sort by “date added”
  3. Load 100’ish books onto my Kindle, sorted by Series
  4. Remove TBR tag from those books in Calibre.
  5. Repeat Steps 1 & 2
  6. When I finish a series on my Kindle, I remove said series from my Kindle
  7. Replace finished series with the next series that has the TBR tag from Calibre
  8. Keep my Kindle filled with 100-150 book so I’m not reading the same thing within weeks
  9. Keep my Calibre TBR library at 100-150. Ruthlessly not adding books does this just fine.


All picture should be clickable for more detail.







Is your TBR mostly print or ebook?



How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

By whatever is next. My reading is like a grindstone. It goes slowly, but I crush that TBR into fine meal.


A book that’s been on your TBR the longest:

In Calibre, the Starfisher trilogy by Glen Cook has been on my TBR since August of 2016


A book that you recently added to your TBR:

Stinger by McCammon and Mr Mercedes by King. Both are Halloween’ish reads and the King book is in preparation for doing a buddy-read with BookCupidity.


A book that’s on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover:

Stranger of Tempest


With my avatar coming from the game Heretic/Hexxen, something like this is going to instantly appeal to me.


A book on your TBR that you never plan on actually reading:

I’m not one of “those” kind of people. I used to be though. But now, I only add book that I know I’ll read.


An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for:

The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter by Michael Sullivan.

The kickstarter for the hardcover should be starting up soon and I’ll be doing a post for that.


A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read except you:

Once again, I’m not one of “those” people. I only add a book if a reviewer I trust has reviewed it or if there are enough other reviews for me to figure out if it will push my button or not. The whole “popularity” reading thing is for a different generation than me.


A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you:

Thankfully, almost all of you never recommend books to me. I’m thankful for that. I read your review and make up my own mind.


A book on your TBR that you’re just dying to read:

For these kind of book, I have a High Priority collection on my Kindle. I keep that Collection on the front page of my kindle and cycle through it whenever it gets to the bottom of the page. I also try to follow this same procedure for my manga reading.


The books in it right now are:

Sixth Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko [Currently Reading]

Dancer’s Lament by Ian Esslemont

The Punch Escrow by Tal Klein


The number of books on your TBR shelf:

130’ish on my Kindle

130 in Calibre

260’ish in Total