No Fail ★★★☆☆

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Title: No Fail
Series: Galaxy’s Edge: Dark Operator #3
Author: Doc Spears
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mil-SF
Pages: 281
Words: 100.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

Failure is a Hateful Word

For Dark Ops Sergeant Kel Turner, it’s unthinkable. Until now. Kill teams are accustomed to achieving the impossible, and Kill Team Three has done the impossible more than any other. Tasked with mission after mission, against a never-ending list of enemies, Kel and Three brace themselves to rise to the occasion yet again.

Kel lived under no doubts about his kill team’s ability to win against any odds, until an enemy thought long defeated reappears. From a dingy city locked in the center of a cold war to a nightmarish alien landscape, the one constant that defines their latest missions is that a kill team is always alone.

Living in the black world of covert operations, there are secrets, then there are secrets. The first might lead to his death. The second might lead to failure.

For this Dark Operator, in a galaxy filled with potentials, death is preferable to failure.

My Thoughts:

Decent Mil-SF but that’s about it.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Rebellion ★★★✬☆

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Title: Rebellion
Series: Galaxy’s Edge: Dark Operator #2
Author: Doc Spears
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mil-SF
Pages: 283
Words: 104K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com & Me

For Sergeant Kel Turner and Kill Team Three, the wait is never long. Whether it’s on a core world snatching a delusional genius who knows too much, or on the edge forging allies among a complex alien culture, Dark Ops are the foot soldiers of the House of Reason’s galactic game for dominance.

Danger looms over Kel and his teammates like taxes over a Republic citizen. The promise is written in blood. Now they face a crisis that makes their worst firefight tame in comparison. Kel learns that sometimes there are no clear answers, manuals, or templates to follow. Isolated from Republic help, when the lives of thousands hang in the balance, a planet looks for a savior. Fortunately, when there’s a dark operator on hand, the odds favor the Legion.

KT3 kidnap a rich genius and disappear him. Then the entire book switches to them being on an alien planet that the Republic is woo’ing for the rare elements available. The Company has made a deal with the largest tribe, arming them with modern blasters and tanks, etc. Several Kill Teams are training this new army. The army rebels, the supposed leader declares herself the leader of the world and plans to wipe out every single human on the planet.

The Ambassador gets all the surviving humans (many were killed in outposts they were doing research at) into one city and begins evacuating them. But with a brand new army and guns and tanks, the rebel isn’t going to let that happen. So she begins to march on the city, which is pretty much defenseless. Kel figures out a way to send an asteroid onto the army and destroy it without cracking the planets surface.

The book ends with an extremely powerful Senator making note that Kel is too resourceful for a Legionnaire and needs to be cut off.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed my time reading this but have realized that what I really like about the Galaxy’s Edge universe is the original authors writing. Jason Anspach and Nick Cole write what I want to read, military space opera. Everybody else who is playing in this sandbox seems to be writing just military science fiction. I enjoy mil-sf, but not as much as space opera.

The beginning of the book felt like a short story inserted to pad the page/word count. I kept waiting for what happened then to have ramifications when they were on the alien world, but it never did. The beginning chapter/s (I forget if it was longer than a chapter or not) simply had zero integration with the rest of the book. It was very jarring.

Decent read but not mind blowing or anything like that at all. I’m giving this 3 ½ stars but really, I think that half star is just for the name Galaxy’s Edge. If the next book is of the same quality and holds my interest the same, I’ll be knocking things down to a more realistic 3star. Mind you, this isn’t bad. It just isn’t what I got in the original series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dark Operator ★★★✬☆

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Title: Dark Operator
Series: Galaxy’s Edge: Dark Operator #1
Author: Doc Spears
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mil-SF
Pages: 355
Words: 130K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com & Me

Legion Dark Ops has always been a unit shrouded in secrecy.

Tasked with performing covert missions, its kill teams are filled with the best warriors from within the ranks of the Legion.

Kel Turner is one of the youngest legionnaires ever to be selected to its ranks. After many battles and trials, he is faced with the greatest challenge of his life – operating by himself on a remote planet at the galaxy’s edge, a foot soldier for the policies of the duplicitous House of Reason, tasked with solving a crisis that would take ten kill teams to resolve.

Diplomats, spies, shadowy terrorist groups, and an enigmatic general work with and against Kel as he fights to save a society from itself. What can one operator do alone, separated from his kill team, fighting a war that has no name?

Once Kel has turned around the various police forces of the planet and done a lot of good work, he’s asked to leave. Immediately. By the very man he thought was his friend on the planet, the titular head of security for the Families.

Once he reaches Republic Space, he finds out that that same man used the skills Kel gave him and his men to overthrow the Families and establish himself as Dictator. And all of this was known about and used by the politicians of the Republic.

My Thoughts:

This was MUCH better than the Order of the Centurion sub-series (which I dnf’d partway through). While still not engaging in a tone of space opera that the original series does, this managed to be a thoroughly enjoyable military SF romp. Part of my enjoyment, and focused me on what I didn’t enjoy about Order, was that Kel is a pretty well rounded guy. I guess my problem with Order was that I was reading about guys who were breaking apart in some way or other, and the testing that Tyrus Rechs set up for even getting into the Legion should have weeded out fellows like that. Here, Kel is everything I expect to read about when reading about the Dark Operators, the top of the top of the Legion.

He’s young, not stupid, but naive in terms of just how the galaxy works in certain ways. It takes him by surprise when the Security Chief takes over using a coup. He’s really surprised when his best friend is killed by the Zhee and he finds out that the head of the Dark Operators helped train Zhee back in the day. He’s a great mix of deadly, competent and naive.

The story was good too. Kell is on a world that is experiencing some civil unrest and is helping the security forces get a handle on things. As such there is a lot of military action but it is liberally leavened with social things like going out to eat or going to a party. For me, it was perfectly balanced between straight up Mil-SF and good old fashioned adventure.

I’m looking forward to the next one. And once I’m done with this 5book sub-series, I’ll have to see what kind of back catalog Doc Spears has of his own original stuff.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Stryker’s War ★★✬☆☆

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Title: Stryker’s War
Series: Galaxy’s Edge: Order of the Centurion #3
Author: Josh Hayes
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mil-SF
Pages: 197
Words: 63.5K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

Feel the thunder!

Stryker Company always brings the fight, but when they relieve embittered and embattled Republic marines, they find an enemy unwilling to stand up and face them. Tasked with protecting the Republic’s interests on a mining world, the legionnaires face roadside ambushes, double-dealing locals, and constant sabotage.

And the mission isn’t as straightforward as they thought it would be.

As skirmishes escalate into coordinated ambushes and assaults, two squad leaders, Talon and Lankin, are forced to chase after the sparks threatening to ignite the entire populace into a full-blown insurgency. Denied the legionnaires and resources they need to contain the situation, a single platoon fights to complete a mission requiring all of Stryker Company. The outnumbered platoon must work their way from glittering coastal ports, through steamy jungles and dust-covered mines, to find an enemy hidden seamlessly among the indigenous populace.

The cost is high; the sacrifice great…but nothing short of death itself will stop the legionnaires of Stryker Company from completing its objective. In this stand-alone tale of combat, brotherhood, and sacrifice, these legionnaires will learn what it truly means to make the ultimate sacrifices for their friends.

My Thoughts:

This Order of the Centurion sub-series is straightup Military Science Fiction without a hint of the Space Opera that I enjoy so much from Anspach and Cole.

I had the exact same issues with this book that I did with Iron Wolves. The main character/s are a bunch of worry warts with possible mental issues all the while operating in a hostile environment with idiots for bosses. I’m sure this would appeal to military vets, as it seems to be aimed at that crowd but as someone who came in on the Star Wars’ish space opera vibe for the Galaxy’s Edge, this is not for me.

As such, I’m abandoning this sub-series and will start another one. Sigh, my first letdown in this series :-/

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

The Order of the Centurion (Galaxy’s Edge: Order of the Centurion #1)

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Title: The Order of the Centurion
Series: Galaxy’s Edge: Order of the Centurion #1
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 218
Words: 73.5K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

“The Order of the Centurion is the highest award that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in, or with, the Legion. When such an individual displays exceptional valor in action against an enemy force, and uncommon loyalty and devotion to the Legion and its legionnaires, refusing to abandon post, mission, or brothers, even unto death, the Legion dutifully recognizes such courage with this award.”

Tired of sitting out the war on Psydon in a mobile office hab, Legion Lieutenant Washam agrees to undertake a covert and unsanctioned mission with a band of Republic Recon Marines. Inserted deep behind enemy lines, the strike force uncovers a surprise key to ending a bitter war. Now they must navigate a hostile jungle teeming with murderous alien rebels, pushing themselves to the limits of their abilities, to get this vital intel to Legion Command–if they can survive that long.

THE ORDER OF THE CENTURION is an all-new series of stand-alone military science fiction thrillers set in the GALAXY’S EDGE universe, ranging from the Savage Wars to the arrival of the Black Fleet. Each book features the legendary heroes of the Legion who forgot nothing in their earning of the Legion’s highest honor.

My Thoughts:

As the blurb above states, this series is actually a bunch of stand-alone novels dealing with various heroes of the Legion over time. I’m good with some stand-alones at the moment. A good solid Mil-SF book filled with heroics aptly fits my needs.

I was kind of expecting this book, by Anspach and Cole alone, to be about the first time the Order of the Centurion was awarded. But instead they chose a time period soon after the Savage Wars had ended and as the Republic is stretching its wings. It’s also when the Republic’s House of Reason began appointing Officers to the Legion in an underhanded way to bring it under their control. So not only do the authors choose that time period, they choose 2 Points (short hand for Appointed Officer) to tell the story, as one of them is the guy who gets the award, post-humuously. It also does a fantastic job of showing how much politics goes into even something that should have been sacred from the filthy hands of the politicians.

Usually I thoroughly enjoy the characters portrayed but not so much this tme. The Point who gets the award is everything that the Legion feared a Point would be. The other is his friend but actually went through Legionnaire training and successfully become a Legionnaire on his own. The problem is that the friend kept excusing the Bad Point for the whole book and even at the end thinks well of him. Thankfully all of the supporting characters were great and really pushed the story on.

One of the side characters is an actual Leej and not only that, but a Dark Operator. He’s just biding his time per his commander’s orders so that he can retire with full benefits and get his pension, which will allow him to live with his wife and two sons and reconnect with them. He was the character I connected with and wished that he had received the medal and recognition. He showed the spirit of the Legionnaires and that was enough to carry the story, thankfully.

Like I noted before, this was by Anspach and Cole alone. After this, other authors are going to be writing the stories under the direction of A&C. I am hesitant about that. For my own sake I hope it turns out well but I’ve experienced too many instances of other authors playing in someone’s sandbox and, while not ruining things, just not getting it and so being out of step and awkward for established readers.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rando Splicer (Spiral Wars #6) ★★★✬☆

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Title: Rando Splicer
Series: Spiral Wars #6
Authors: Joel Shepherd
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 475
Words: 176K



Synopsis:

From Fandom.com

Separated from her ship, Major Trace Thakur is stranded on the reeh-occupied world of Rando. The native corbi have suffered beneath reeh tyranny for 800 years, and many have given up hope. But Trace needs the data stored in the reeh’s genetic technology and command center – the Rando Splicer – if she’s to learn how to save humanity from impending disaster, and is planning an assault against overwhelming odds. She’ll need help from the UFS Phoenix, though, which is caught in a ritual medieval battle to change the croma leadership that sees her crew embarking on a perilous journey across a warring desert continent. Should they fail, humanity could be just one of many species to die.

My Thoughts:

Enjoyment-wise, this was a 4star book. But because of the very big issue that I mentioned back in my Currently Reading & Quote Post about this book, I just couldn’t give it more than 3.5stars. Because no matter what I was reading, in the back of my mind was the little voice saying “10 Books. 10 Book. 10 Books!!!”

Thankfully Shepherd IS a good writer and I did enjoy the dual storylines. Unfortunately (for me) there was no “getting the reader up to speed” chapter at the beginning so I just dropped right into things and had to try to remember what had happened in Croma Venture. I actually didn’t try to remember if you want to know. I just read the story and ingested it like a bowl of jello.

Of the two storylines, I much preferred the one that was on Croma dealing with the crew and the “special election” of a new leading party. Elections by battle sounds awesome to me. The storyline following Major Thakur had a lot more emotional navelgazing than I particularly wanted to read about.

I am looking forward to the next book, which I have on tap. With Shepherds output it is going to be at least 3 more years before the series is finished so my interest is definitely tempered. I just hope I can remember not to jump back into this series until it is actually finished.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Hundred (Galaxy’s Edge: Savage Wars #3) ★★★★☆

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Title: The Hundred
Series: Galaxy’s Edge: Savage Wars #3
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 251
Words: 109.5K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

THE LEGION HAS LANDED.

One hundred men met the brutal standards of General Tyrus Rechs and became legionnaires.

One hundred men embarked on a suicide mission to retake New Vega from the Savages.

One hundred men stood up… for the galaxy.

Galaxy’s Edge: The Hundred is the exciting conclusion to the Savage Wars trilogy as the Legion launches a desperate, brutal assault against the overwhelming forces of the Savage Alliance.

My Thoughts:

Out of the 250 pages, the battle was about 200 of them. So if ultra-tough space marines on steriods, ie, the Legionnaires, don’t get your motor running, this book definitely isn’t for you. In all honesty, this sub-series of the Galaxy’s Edge series isn’t for you and I’d even question if the entire GE series was for you or not. This is Mil-SF with enough Space Opera to keep it from becoming Tom Clancy Presents: Jack Ryan the 15th, In Space!

Where the previous book, Gods and Legionnaires, was divided into 2 books, one about the Savages and one about the Legionnaires, this was 90% about the 100 Legionnaires taking back the planet New Vega. The book actually starts 50-100 years after the events take place with the few surviving Legionnaires from that battle being honored. Coupled with the vague references from previous GE books, we knew that the 100 were whittled down to almost nothing before kicking the Savages off New Vega.

Even Tyrus Rechs dies. Of course, because of the magic scyenze mojo the Savages did on him when he was their prisoner, he comes back to life, but he takes a new call sign so that as far as the Legion is concerned, Rechs is dead. He set out to do what he needed to and now it is time to recover.

We’re also introduced to Aeson Ford, the guy from the first season of Galaxy’s Edge. Considering this took place 1500-2000 years before those books, I was wondering if it was the same guy. But right at the end of the book he gets drafted into some sort of Super Magic Scyenze Cryogenics program, so yep, it’s him. That was fun to see.

This was the final book in the Savage Wars sub-series and I thought that Anspach and Cole did an admirable job of relating a story that took place 2000 years before. They didn’t go overboard and try to describe every nut and bolt or color of every bird’s feather but neither were they Idea Only people like some of the old masters like Asimov or even Clarke. The blood, the grit and the determination were here in spades and I loved every second of it.

Next up for me and Galaxy’s Edge is the Order of the Centurion series. I’ll talk about exactly what they entail when I review the first book, Order of the Centurion, but it will be something a bit different as each of the 5 books in the series is mainly written by some other author while Anspach and Cole stamp their name on the book and keep control of their universe. I hope it turns out ok. Sometimes letting other authors play in your sandbox doesn’t turn out well. But for the first time in my entire life, I’m going to think positively and believe that I’m going to love Order of the Centurion as much as all the previous GE series 😀

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Exodus: Empires at War, Part II ★★✬☆☆

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Title: Exodus: Empires at War, Part II
Series: Exodus: Empires at War #2
Author: Doug Dandridge
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 283
Words: 107.5K



Synopsis:

The Royal Family are assassinated, leaving Prince Number 3 as the new Emperor. Only he’s out on a military ship about to go into battle against the aliens who beat the snot out of humanity 1000 years ago. With no way to use faster than light messaging, this story revolves around El Princeo escaping while lots of people die to ensure his survival.

And the scum sucking traitor who set up the Royal Family dies too.

My Thoughts:

Unfortunately, this book could have been at least 25% shorter, if not more, if the author hadn’t felt the need to walk us through every excruciating step of the various space battles. For example, when Enemy Fleet #1 fires 100 missiles at Good Guy Fleet #2, we follow all 100 missiles to the bitter end. 50 get wiped out by 40 Good Guy Fleet anti-missiles. 20 are fooled by countermeasures and speed off into deep space. 10 are destroyed by close point defenses and then the final 10 blow up ships. (So kids, when a daddy missile and a mommy ship get together that’s how you get Space Debris. If you have any questions, go talk to your parents, ok?) And then there was simply over-explanation of every maneuver, every change in speed or gravity, blah, blah blah. I started skipping whole PAGES.

Then there was the sex scene. Any book that has a sex scene(s) I’m going to ding at least half a star for. But for the love of writing, if you’re going to do something, do it well! This scene felt like the thoughts of a 16 year old imagining what sex must be like. If you can’t write scenes like this (because you’re not a pornographer or filthy smut writer) then don’t include it at all. How hard is it to understand that? Gaaaaahhhh!

I called the first book “decent”. This one descended into low mediocre territory. I’ll be reading the third book but if it doesn’t sharply improve I’ll be abandong the series. I’ve got close to 100 books on my kindle and 250 (those do include the 70+ One Piece manga, but still) in my TBR pile in calibre, so I’m not hurting for books. I am working on dnf’ing series much sooner than I have in the past.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Pandora Paradox (Omega Force #12) ★★✬☆☆

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Title: Pandora Paradox
Series: Omega Force #12
Author: Joshua Dalzelle
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 247
Words: 82K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

It started with a revolution nobody had even realized occurred…

Its cruelty sparked a rebellion that everyone refused to admit existed…

Now, the Machine—a terrifying and relentless enemy—reigns supreme in the galaxy, and the real fight is just beginning.

Omega Force keenly feels the weight of responsibility for the Machine’s arrival in the quadrant, but even with the resources of the Blazing Sun organized crime syndicate backing them, there’s only so much the small mercenary crew can do against the malevolent AI that has already usurped control of most of the government.

With the Machine now firmly in control of the ConFed’s military, they are out of time and out of options. Captain Jason Burke knows that along with the Machine, something else came back from the outer regions… something he’s kept a secret from everybody, even his own crew. He knows that he likely has the power to stop the Machine in its tracks, but it means unleashing an equally uncontrollable force. As he struggles to know what the right thing to do is, he can’t help but fear that the cure could very well be worse than the disease.

My Thoughts:

I haven’t got much to say. This book was mediocre and has made me realize that Dalzelle and I need to part ways. Not because of any big issues but simply because I don’t feel his skills as a writer are good enough to keep on giving him chance after chance. I started reading him back in ’15 with Warship, the start of his Black Fleet trilogy. It was pretty good and I enjoyed the whole thing. Sadly, the sequels ended up relying on the main character from the first trilogy because they were lifeless.

What does that have to do with his Omega Force series? Well, I started that in ’16 with Omega Rising and here we are 12 books and almost 6 years later and his skill level still appears to be the same to me. I don’t mind if an author starts off rough. Go read Elantris or Mistborn by Sanderson or Monster Hunter International by Correia to see how some authors started out. Starting out as an author is rough work and with reviewers like me it’s even harder. But I expect improvement as an author continues their craft. If they have peaked at their first book or three and then plateau, that is not good enough for me. If you read 10-12 books a year then Dalzelle might just fit your needs. Just like any old pair of black cargo pants are going to work for me when I go to work. I don’t expect them to make me look like a buff sex god, I just want them to protect my legs from briars and thorns and to hold my phone and stuff. But I expect something VERY different if I put on my suit. I have reached the stage in my life when good enough is only good enough for a few books, not long term.

Therefore this is the last Dalzelle book I’ll be reading. I hope I can remember this when he puts out another book or series and I’m tempted to “give him another chance”. No more chances, this stuff is just not good enough anymore.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Gods and Legionnaires (Galaxy’s Edge: Savage Wars #2) ★★★★☆

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Title: Gods and Legionnaires
Series: Galaxy’s Edge: Savage Wars #2
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 390
Words: 132.5K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

The Coalition is reeling. New Vega and its other worlds have fallen beneath the boot of the newly allied Savage marines, and the death count continues to rise at a staggering rate. One thing is clear: the war to come will be a fight for the very survival of the species. For both sides in this conflict, now is the time to become what fate, and victory, demand.

The Savages—post-human monsters who believe themselves to be gods—are intent on remaking civilization in their own violent and pathological image. Yet their alliance is tenuous. Among the many tribes of the Uplifted, as they call themselves, the struggle for supremacy rages on. All know that in the end there can be only one tribe. One leader. One truth.

Meanwhile humanity’s last, desperate hope is the formation of a new kind of fighting force: The Legion. Those select few who are hardy enough—or foolish enough—to undertake the relentless, grueling, and merciless candidate training will have the chance to be transformed into mythical heroes… or die trying. They will be pushed beyond their physical and mental limits as they seek to survive an unforgiving planet, lost and derelict ghost spaceships, and worst of all, the cold, unflinching brutality of Tyrus Rechs. At the end of this crucible, only the one percent of the one percent will earn the right to be called ….. Legionnaires.

My Thoughts:

In many ways, this was 2 books. The first part, Gods, followed one Savage Marine from after his time on New Vega to a new joint operation by another clan of Savages. What the rest of the Savages don’t know is that the Savage Marine (who I’ll call Johnny) has been tasked by his masters to introduce a virus into the Savage Alliance to subtley draw all the savages under control of one clan, Johnny’s clan.

Between fights we get Johnny’s history from when he fled from Earth during the scattering thousands of years ago, to what happened on the Savage Ship. We also realize how technologically advanced in some areas the Savages are and yet how internally focused they are which only heightens their arrogance, paranoia and sense of godhood. Then you come to realize just much they’ve messed with their minds and you can’t believe a thing they think about themselves. It was intriguing and disturbing all rolled into one.

The second part was about the formation of the Legion itself. Nobody but Tyrus realizes just how brutal the training must be and that only a total bastard can forge others into being the tough mothers the galaxy needs at the moment. Opposed by the very Alliance that is placing their hopes on him, by his best friend Caspar and even by the very soldiers he is trying to train, Tyrus doesn’t let any of that slow him down or stop him. He has a job that only he can do and he’ll finish it.

While I enjoy a good military training montage, something about this one just didn’t quite grab me. Part of it is that Tyrus isn’t much of a person any more. There are a squadron of Legionnaires who we get to know which was good but it wasnt “quite” enough either.

Overall, this was a really enjoyble story and gave a lot of backstory. This Galaxy’s Edge universe continues to keep me interested and to tell a good story.

Rating: 4 out of 5.