Legionnaire (Galaxy’s Edge #1) ★★★☆½

legionnaire (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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Legionnaire
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #1
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 308
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Sergeant Chunn, along with his fellow Legionnaires (elite soldiers of the Republic), are on a planet running a political mission, ie, support the natives who want to join the Republic. They’re supported by Repub-Army and are led by a political appointed “Legionnaire”, Lt Devers.

Things go sidewise when the orbiting support ship is destroyed, their base on the planet is over run and their supposed native allies turn on them with help from an alliance that is opposed to the Republic. The Legionnaire’s commander, Pappy, is out of commission and Devers takes over. To disastrously bumble everything, to the point that the soldiers attack a village of natives that are hosting some Republic scientists.

Pappy wakes up long enough to make Chunn a brevet Lt and the current Lt Ford, a brevet Captain. One of the Legionnaire grunts, Exo, tries to kill Devers for all his mistakes but is pulled back by his buddies.

Everybody holes up and makes a last stand, only to have the MCR (Mid Core Rebels) show up with an old star ship and fighters. Only to have the Republic’s Big Guns show up and rescue them.

The book ends with Devers getting all sorts of awards and Exo drinking himself into a stupor wondering why he’s even in the legion. He runs across an old legionnaire who tells him a story to hopefully inspire him to get back in the fight.

 

My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this Military SF story. It was all about the ground pounders and that is what I like.

I think the authors did a good job with the characters, as I was cheering for the Legionnaires and absolutely hating Devers the political appointee. When you can feel that much distaste for a character you know the authors did their job correctly!

There are no real surprises, which I was perfectly ok with. When it comes to Mil-SF, I prefer the tried and true formula of SNAFU, Fight, Good Guys Win, Bad Guys Lose. It is very comforting. It is like eating mashed potatoes. Good, warm and filling.

This is a longer series, currently running around 9 books. I have no idea if the series goes into a longer story arc or if each book is a standalone’ish story. Personally, I’m hoping for standalone story time but we’ll see. We shall also have to see if the authors do the whole “token SJW wokeness” thing. I’d like to think not, but considering how I’ve seen it in other indie books, I’m not holding my breath.

To wrap up, a thoroughly fun book that hit all the right buttons for me and the start of a series. I hope the series continues as well as this book.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

It’s Hell to Choose (Kurtherian Gambit #9) ★☆☆☆☆

itshelltochoose (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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: It’s Hell to Choose
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #9
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 313
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

TQB Enterprises is going semi-public. Not only have they revealed their space capabilities but also that they have other tech that is very advanced. Tech that companies and countries want, now, for free. A group of highly skilled mercenaries are hired to infiltrate the American base that is the current headquarters for TQB and to data mine it and then destroy it, with a nuke. This is sanctioned by a US government Senator.

At the same time TQB advances its space plans to create a space station in months, instead of years. Bethany Ann wants off the Earth so she’s not entangled in the politics. She also begins the process of integrating the Vamps and Weres into a single fighting unit instead of splitting them up, as has historically happened.

Most of the TQB tech is moved into space and given protection by the new fighter units. They outmatch some French fighter jets and put one of them on the Eiffel Tower. They also move everything from the United States base into storage or prep it for space. They fight off the mercenary attack but Michael sacrifices himself to get rid of the nuke.

The book ends with Bethany Ann being all broken up about Michael’s death, since she confessed that “she loved him”. She begins to focus that fury into accomplishing her goal of protecting the Earth against whatever maybe coming.

 

My Thoughts:

So this is where the Kurtherian Gambit and I part ways. First, there are the token homosexuals that Anderle throws in, for wokeness points, then there is the unspoken deification of Bethany Ann and finally the “character growth” that was meant to happen by Michael’s supposed demise.

Obviously, the first issue is one that I’ve made my stance on very clear. No need to talk about it yet again.

The second issue is one that has been building for me for the last couple of books. Bethany Ann is growing so powerful, with no checks upon her and we as readers have no idea what sets her moral compass. Anderle throws in some stuff about “loyalty” and general goodness and crap, but when a character is the most powerful entity on a planet, and pretty much is going to run things how they see fit, as an author you’d better make sure that you’re not creating a tinpot tyrant. I don’t see that happening with Anderle. Bethany Ann is a tyrant with unfettered power and an attitude of “my way or the highway, bub”. While Anderle writes her as protecting humanity, there is no real reason given. She’s just “good”. I know I’m using a lot of quotation words here, but this issue really bothers me. What makes her so good, what sets her apart from all the other humans on the planet (those same humans who show their worst at a moments notice by the way), etc. Being Good by authorial fiat works in a shorter storyline, but we’re up to book 9 here.

I took a step back from this issue to make sure it wasn’t a gender thing. I have some strong opinions on that issue that are about as popular as my stance on the whole homosexuality thing so I sat back and thought. Would I have these same issues if this series had been about Michael? And the answer is a resounding “Yes!”, if he’d been Bethany Ann’ized into Good Incarnate. Bethany Ann is just inherently good and every decision she makes, while not necessarily the best one, is always the right one. I am obviously over-thinking that aspect, but it has cropped up enough for me to realize it would have bugged me for the rest of the series.

Finally, the character development, or lack thereof. I was perfectly fine with these books being action packed, wham bam books. Introduce the characters, give them a hint of a personality and then just go from there. But don’t try to make your characters “real” if you don’t have the writing chops to do it. We’re led to believe that Bethany Ann and Michael have this deep soul connection, because they go out on a couple of dates and sleep together and Bethany Ann confesses she loves Michael? Come on, even I can write that! So don’t do it. Telling me something, as a reader,  is very different from showing it. And it is hard to show character development in a 300 page book with so many characters and so much going on.

So that is why I’m done with the Kurtherian Gambit series. Anderle does have another series, the Amazing Mr Brownstone, that I’m hoping to start sometime next year. It is another long running series that I hope doesn’t have the same issues as this series. With my drop in reading, I certainly won’t be waiting until book 9 to make a final decision about it.

★☆☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Ragged Man (Twilight Reign #4) ★★★★☆

raggedman (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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Ragged Man
Series: Twilight Reign #4
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 612
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

At the end of the previous book Isak killed the son of Lord Styrax, the most powerful man in the world. In his rage, Styrax did not just kill Isak, but sent him directly to Ghenna (hell) to be tortured forever. Isak had dreamed about this scenario and he and his friend Mihn, the failed Harlequin, had set in motion a plan. Mihn had covered himself in magical tattoos of invisibility to both physical and spiritual entities. With the help of a witch, Mihn travels to Ghenna and recovers Isak. Upon their return though, Isak is a thoroughly broken man and it is up to Mihn to nurse him back to some normalcy.

Styrax is a broken man by the death of his son and heir and it takes the child Azeur to snap him out of his funk and to begin leading his Menin army again. Azeur posits a passive coalition with Styrax without revealing it’s actual goal and Styrax agrees. Styrax forces a non-aggression pact with the Farlan since Lord Isak is dead and half their army destroyed. They accept since if they refuse they’ll face civil war. This allows Styrax to concentrate on the one man who might be able to stop him, King Emin.

Azeur has set in motion its plans for the Harlequin nation and has recruited them to act as preachers and messengers for it. They begin by slightly changing their stories to make the gods appear more buffoonish or tyrannical or any extreme than originally intended. The Harlequins also begin preaching about a child savior that will lead the entire land without any interference from the gods. King Emin sees the danger of this and hires men and women to kill these preachers. Many Harlequins are killed but almost nobody understands what is going on, as Harlequins have always been neutral parties before this.

Styrax and his army marches on the kingdom of Narkang and begins razing it to the ground. Isak and Emin concoct a plan, one throw of the dice, where all will be won or lost. Emin confronts Styrax and his army at a castle and a huge battle ensues. Isak catches Styrax in a trap because he doesn’t try to kill him. Isak forces the gods to help him and they strip all memories of Styrax from the land and take Styrax’s identity from him. Styrax is now the Ragged Man, a legend of a man who lost his soul and now kills in the shadows to try to get it back. The Menin army falls apart without any memory of Styrax but Emin and the kingdom of Narkang have paid for this victory in more blood than they can truly afford.

Azeur can begin its plans in earnest now that Styrax isn’t around to keep it in check.

 

My Thoughts:

You know, I’ve said it before, but I am watching Lloyd’s writing skill increase right before my eyes with this series. The first 2 books were pretty rough but now, things are flowing smoothly. His skill in handling multiple points of view no longer leaves me stumbling about and the awkwardness from before is almost gone. It’s not perfect, but it is noticeably different. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever noticed such a skill increase from an author before? Maybe I never started with one that was so amateurish though. But whatever, this was good!

Mihn’s journey to hell and back was a bit slow and not very action oriented. It had me worried that the entire book was going to be like that. Thankfully, once the main story switched back to Styrax and King Emin, things got moving. The battle at the end of the book was massive. It was enjoyable. It was everything I wanted from a big epic fantasy book.

While I had serious reservations about recommending this series based on the previous books, I’d now recommend this series as long as you’re willing to deal with Lloyd’s lack of skill in the first couple of books. I realize that is a back-handed compliment, but it’s the truth. But even with that, I’d still recommend starting with Lloyd’s God Fragments series. It starts off, skill-wise, where Twilight Reign ends.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

We Will Build (Kurtherian Gambit #8) ★★★☆½

wewillbuild (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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: We Will Build
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #8
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 356
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Things are REALLY starting to move. A Forsaken from Asia pops her head up to cause problems and Bethany Ann and her Chosen smack her down so hard it’s not even funny. Michael and BA hook up. The Analyst woman from the previous book realizes she is the dupe for a super black agency and asks BA and Company for help. Said Black Agency realizes something is going on at the former military base and sends in a spy. Who gets captured by some vamp guards and everything he knows is dragged out of him.

The scientists are planning for a moon base and buy some land in a South American country that never participated in any legal agreements about Space. Therefore the shell company doesn’t have to worry about any superpowers making legal claims. They send a bunch of sealed containers into space to make the first Moon base and televise it. BA’s way of letting the world know her Company exists. Also a way to draw in more manpower. BA is also thinking about making more vamps as regular humans just can’t handle everything she needs handled.

ADAM begins taking down malicious hackers and working on a way to stop the Chinese dead in the water, as they have backdoors all over the world.

 

My Thoughts:

Much better than the previous book. No crap at the end of the book.

This wasn’t so much a book as I think of it, with a beginning, middle and end like a traditional novel. This was a very long chapter in the saga of Bethany Ann. It’s what happens when writers go “serial”. Not necessarily a bad thing but something to be aware of.

Time is something that I did notice that wasn’t handled real well. A character makes a reference about something that happened early and uses the words “years ago”. While it was true, almost no thought is given to how time passes and so it becomes a non-starter for the reader. It does make it feel like everything is happening within a month, even as you know it is physically impossible.

My final complain, before I start on the positives, is how BA is gathering power to herself and the author excuses her tyranny (and trust me, it IS tyranny) is how good and wonderful she is. There are no checks and balances. BA is the ultimate Mary Sue and she’ll never have a bad day or kill people wrongly or do anything wrong, thus it is ok that she’s the End and All for any decision. I realize this is fiction, but ignoring human nature so blatantly is a bit off putting. I would certainly oppose her if she was a real person with that kind of power. Every imperfect Power needs a Check of equal power. And since she’s sexing it up with Michael, no one else is even close to being able to keep her accountable.

On to the good stuff.

I really liked the whole space/moonbase side of things. Showing the world they exist and are making a run to colonize the moon was great. It also opens up writing options for Anderle. He can now use shadow’y government agencies from the world over to be the new bad guys since BA has basically taken down every Forsaken. I hope we get some more creditable bad guys, as the Forsaken have been steamrolled in every instance.

Speaking of steamrolling, the action scenes were once again pretty good. Anderle might not write the best fighting scenes ever, but he writes what people who are reading this kind of book are looking for. I was satisfied.

After the last book where I questioned if I could continue the series this book brought me back on track and I foresee no problems as long as things stay at this level.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Rath’s Gambit (Janus Group #2) ★★★☆☆

rathsgambit (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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Rath’s Gambit
Series: Janus Group #2
Author: Piers Platt
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 210
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Rath is on the run. With other Operatives from the Janus Group tasked to hunt him down, he has to escape, disappear and then hook back up with Operative 339 so they can begin their campaign against the Group and hopefully live through it.

Things start to go off the rails when Operative 339 doesn’t show up at the rendevous point. Rath waits for quite awhile before realizing something is wrong. What he doesn’t know is that Operative 339 was caught by some civil authorities on another planet while she was free-lancing. She was sentenced to a prison term and her her plan was to serve for a year or two and then get early release for good behavior. Of course, Rath knows none of this.

Rath enlists the aid of the man who has been investigating the Group on his own. They track down O339 and Rath breaks her out of prison. Bungling up all her careful plans of staying under the radar.

The book ends with them trying to escape a whole batch of Operatives that had been following Rath, hoping he would do exactly what he did, ie, lead them to O339.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this BUT between the non-resolution ending, Rath acting like an idiot (for an Operative who made his 50 kills, he sure is incompetent and stupid) and the continued prison reform schtick, I’ve decided to not read any more by Platt.

When I finished this book and it ended with them being chased, I realized I simply didn’t care how it turned out. Rath is a bungler who can’t seem to plan out even basic strategy. I couldn’t tell if that was deliberate on the part of the author or what, but it wasn’t what I wanted to read about. I wanted a story about a highly trained Operative who kicked butt, oh you know, like say Operative 339. But nooooo, I get Rath the Bozo who can’t seem to find his own bum with both hands, a wall mirror and someone directing him.

The parts dealing with O339 were great. She kicked butt. She was smart and knew when to lay low and when to fight back. She had a plan and she knew how to adjust that plan as circumstances changed. WHY couldn’t this series have been about her?

Overall, while Platt hasn’t written any atrociously bad books, he certainly hasn’t written any very good books. I’m done sampling the Mediocre Buffet.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Grave Thief (Twilight Reign #3) ★★★☆½

gravethief (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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Grave Thief
Series: Twilight Reign #3
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 548
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

With the fall of Scree, the gods have been enraged at what the Shadow has done. Unfortunately, all this has accomplished is to make the priest of various gods more warlike and to incite them against their own citizenry. This in turn places a huge strain on the Kingdoms that are trying to oppose Styrax and his Menin, who are taking city after city.

Styrax’s goal is to take all of the crystal skulls and to become a god himself. He is studying a puzzle at one of the conquered cities and unearth’s another skull. He also happens to set free its guardian, a very big and very cranky dragon.

While this has been going on, Isak has been trying to keep his kingdom from tearing itself apart. The priests are out of control and have hired their own mercenaries to act as their law. Eventually Isak declares a Crusade against Styrax and his godless Menin. This accomplishes getting all the nutjob priests out of the way and allows Isak to oppose Styrax and hopefully slow him down before he reaches Farlan.

At the same time, Azeur the Shadow has been born in human flesh. He attaches himself to a duchess of one of the soon to be conquered cities so as to remain under the radar from King Emin and Isak. He sets priest and citizen against the other so that at the right time they will look to him as a savior. He is growing at a rate of years in months time and at the time Styrax takes his city is about 5 years old.

Some of the gods, the lower hierarchy, realize that this time is an opportunity for them to rise. As such, they begin bonding with mortal humans and creating a new level of human power structure. Duke Vesna, one of Isak’s closest allies, is one such human. How it all plays out and what the final cost will be is yet to be seen.

The book ends with a battle between Farlan and Menin. Isak knows he can’t best Styrax so he follows a plan (that is unknown to us the readers) hatched by his Secretary of Everything. Isak kills a huge amount of the Menin with magic and then kills Styrax’s only son. Styrax kills Isak and sends him to hell using the power of his crystal skulls.

 

My Thoughts:

Much better. Now that I’m not floundering around trying to get adjusted to Isak as a character, I could concentrate a bit more on Azeur and Styrax. Of course, with Lloyd killing Isak right at the end, I’m not sure WHAT the next 2 books hold. I highly doubt Isak is “really” dead though. If he is, then I’ll be wicked pissed off in the later books.

I still have issues with Lloyd starting a chapter and not naming the character we follow until several pages in. It is annoying. Plus the character point of view shifts with only an extra line break still gets me. I’m getting better at picking up on those though, even if only subconsciously. I guess Lloyd is training all his readers to be his own personal cadre of Manchurian Candidates.

I didn’t like that some of the characters we’d really been invested in in previous books, King Emin, etc, were sidelined. I almost feel like I need to re-read the first 2 books just to place the new’ish characters like Styrax and his son into better context. I know I read about them in earlier books with all of my attention on the main character, what they did has slid right out of my mind. I think that comes down to the author not handling multiple characters and locations as well as he needs to.

There were also a couple of places where the words that were written weren’t the words meant. I can’t bring any specifics to mind but it is the kind of thing that needs a copy editor to look over and find.

On the positive side, what I am reading is reminding me and more of what I read, and liked, in the God Fragments series. The similarities in authorial voice are much more noticeable. Whereas the first book of this Twilight Reign series had me scratching my head over the fact that the same author wrote them, now I can see it. And I’m liking what I’m seeing.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Dark Run (Keiko #1) ★★★☆½

darkrun (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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dark Run
Series: Keiko #1
Author: Mike Brooks
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 434
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Captain Ichabod Drift is the proud owner of the Keiko and the master of a rather disparate and ragamuffin crew. Before Drift became Drift however, he was someone else, someone who worked for the Federation and committed acts in their name that they disavowed. Having faked his death to escape that life, Drift is dragged back into it by his former boss. All Kelsier wants Drift to do is deliver a package to Amsterdam at a very specific time while avoiding all the tedious stuff like inspections, etc that Earth has setup. Kelsier is also paying quite handsomely.

With no way to say no, Drift agrees and counts on the greed of his crew to overlook any issues. They succeed in getting the package to Earth but don’t quite make it in time to Amsterdam. As they’re preparing to dump the cargo out in the middle of the city, they cut of the locks and discover a nuclear bomb. They immedately head out to sea and dump the bomb, where it explodes and starts a worldwide panic. The crew hide and shake the truth out of Drift. Nobody is happy with him, not at all. They all vow to get revenge on Kelsier.

With some help from their onboard hacker, the crew of the Keiko get GIA (Galaxy Intelligence Agency) credentials and forged letters telling any locals to help them out. They track Kelsier down to a hidden fortress and with the help of the local army, take him out.

The book ends with the crew deciding to stay on board and stay loyal to Drift, as they all have their own little secrets.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a very fun read and I’m thankful to SavageDave for bringing this to my attention.

I am having a hard time finding the words that I want to use for this review. This was a solid book, there was nothing wrong with it, I enjoyed it but at the same time nothing really got me excited about writing about it. I would definitely recommend others read it but I can’t really muster up the “oomph” to write the why’s and wherefore’s. I know, my apostrophes don’t really fit, sue me.

A captain with a past, a misfit crew, a first officer that is super competent yet has secrets all her own, the Laughing Man (the galaxies most efficient killer who has an electronic tattoo of a skull over his face to hide his identity), a nuclear bomb, cage fighting, an extremely diverse ethnic crew (not something I look for in my reading but I know a lot of shallow puss buckets do these days) and some good old fashioned fighting, well, this has it all. I’ve seen comparisons to Firefly and I think they’re pretty apt. I didn’t feel like I was reading a Firefly fanfic though. On the otherhand, I enjoyed Firefly, and Serenity, but it didn’t bother me that the show got cancelled so maybe I’m not a big enough fan to comment on whether this is Firefly fanfic or not.

If it is fanfic, well, I’m just going to kill myself then. Because I hate fanfic, I mean with a loathing and scorn that only an aristo can summon up for pathetic plebes doing really stupid and pointless things. His Grace, Lord Bookstooge, despises Indies and Fanfic. You may now bend the knee.

If you like space opera in any form, you’ll probably enjoy this. I did and I’m looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)