Pawn’s Gambit: And Other Stratagems (ARC)

0843bc2fb9dcd9a38fe9974f528ce3e6I received this copy from the publisher through Netgalley.com and that in no way has influenced my opinion in regards to this review.

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Pawn’s Gambit: And Other Stratagems

Series: —–

Author: Timothy Zahn

Rating: 4 of 5 Battle Axes

Genre: SFF

Pages: 342

Format: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

A collection of short stories that Zahn has published in magazines. The first half of the book was stories that I’d read in other paperback collections of Zahn’s collected short stories and the last half of the book, with the exception of the titular story, Pawn’s Gambit, were all new.

 

My Thoughts:

I was expecting all new stories, so to have the first half be ones that I’d read before, or multiple times [as I’ve bought almost all of Zahn’s old books in paperback] was a bit of a letdown.

Even with that, those stories were still excellent.

Then came the new stories and it was evident that Zahn has NOT lost his touch for encapsulating an idea and creating a story around it. His latest Cobra books have been rather a disappointment to be honest and I’ve been wondering if Zahn’s time as an author was starting to get near the end. These new stories show that he is on top of the game as never before.

Which leads me to wonder, who has changed more, me, or Zahn? I read Cobra back in middle school and it has stayed on my “I love this book!” shelf ever since. Maybe the latest books in that series are showing me how “I” have changed as a reader and not so much that Zahn has changed as an author.

All of that is just to say that this short story collection is good! It would be a great way to introduce someone to Zahn without overwhelming them with a series. For those of us in the old guard, who have devoured all the older books by Zahn, this is still worth it for the new stories.

One of the main reasons I took a star off was because several of the stories have ending commentary from Zahn, when they were part of another collection. Those commentaries show their age and in some cases, show they are part of another collection. Very lazy on the publisher’s part. Cut or update. It was just jarring the way they cut n pasted.

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King of Thieves (Odyssey One: Star Rogue #1)

 d3898bf67ee2ca29592072f16978b4deThis review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: King of Thieves

Series: Odyssey One: Star Rogue

Author: Evan Currie

Rating: 4 of 5 Battle Axes

Genre: SFF

Pages: 352

Format: Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

Now that earth has survived the drasin, humanity has regrouped and is sending out patrols to search for other drasin strongholds so they can send in the big guns to take care of them.

Captain Passer and crew are one such patrol. What they find is something even more important than the drasin and potentially just as deadly.

That’s no moon. It’s a space station.

 

My Thoughts:

When this was released on Netgalley back in February, there was NO indication that it was the sequel to the Odyssey One series.  Now if you go to the amazon page, the series is listed as Odyssey One: Star Rogue. It is things like that that keep me from considering Currie as a serious author. Even while I enjoy his books.

With that out of the way…

Thoroughly enjoyed this adventure story. Space marines fighting dragons on an artificial moon that is invisible, can see all through the galaxy AND can act as a super duper magnifying glass for a star’s energy.

Just fun military sf, plain and simple.

Cobra Outlaw (Cobra Rebellion #2) (ARC)

coverI received this copy from the publisher through Netgalley.com and that in no way has influenced my opinion in regards to this review.

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.com by express permission of this reviewer.

Title: Cobra Outlaw

Series: Cobra Rebellion

Author: Timothy Zahn

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 320

 

Synopsis:

The Broom/Moreau family [don’t get me started on this whole Broom thing. I know Zahn is doing this to keep it from becoming patriarchal, but blast it, I started this series with a Moreau and I want to stay with a Moreau] is pretty much all over the place.

Some are on Aventine dealing with the Dominion of Man take over of the Cobra Worlds.

Some are on Qasama trying to enlist their aid against the Dominion.

Some are in Troft space, trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

And some are just in space running all over.

 

My Thoughts:

First, lets get all the ARC crap out of the way, because that has nothing to do with the book itself.

Netgally ONLY allowed me to send this to my kindle. Not to download it to Kindleforpc or to Adobe. Nope. Email only to my kindle. That rather irked me because I really, really prefer to download, put into Calibre, use the count-page plugin and then sideload to my kindle. Using the countpage plugin allows me to get a page count based on number of characters and page breaks, thus allowing me to have a uniform way to compare the books I’m reading. Not having that is like using your hand while it is asleep; you can do it, but everything is just a bit off.

Ok, on to the review proper.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first one, Cobra Slave. I felt like there were too many threads running at the same time for such a small book [small only in comparison!] and hampered each thread in what was told.

I really just want one, maybe 2 points of view for these books. It feels like Zahn is trying to write “bigger” than he can. The original Cobra had one viewpoint and one continuous storyline. Given, we’re 8 books in and 100 years later, but still, I LIKED the original formula.

On the plus side of things. This wasn’t boring like the previous trilogy [Cobra War trilogy]. There are several great Cobra action scenes [building hopping is one of my favorite Cobra abilities]. Also, the Trofts are being introduced as real characters, with one from the Unknown Demesne taking a large role near the end of the book.

Overall, a good solid SFF book by Timothy Zahn. As a caveat, I do hope that he stops writing the Cobra books soon. Don’t milk it because after reading what I have, I’d be satisfied now with the Original Trilogy.

Unbreakable (The Chronicles of Promise Paen #1) (ARC)

cover I received this copy from the publisher through Netgalley.com and that in no way has influenced my opinion in regards to this review.

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.com by express permission of this reviewer.

Title: Unbreakable

Series: The Chronicles of Promise Paen #1

Author: W.C. Bauer

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 399

 

Synopsis:

Promise Paen joins the Republic’s Space Marines to escape the bad memories from her home planet Montana.

Now’s she headed back to protect a place she’d rather forget about while her dead mother seems to be alive and well, in Promise’s mind.

 

My Thoughts:

This was an ARC [Advanced Reading Copy], so the misspellings and such [fourty anyone?] will hopefully be fixed in the actual release.

First. Bauer appears to have read and been greatly influenced by Mike Shepherd and his Kris Longknife series. Smart metal. By that name. A heroine who worries about not being a curvaceous sex kitten (though to be honest, this only happens once or twice, unlike every other chapter in Kris Longknife). The whole Brave Girl taking on Incredible Odds and Overcoming, Even if not Winning thing.

Thankfully, Paen is a local girl who makes good, not an interstellar debutante with a drinking problem.

Second, I’d REALLY like to find out more about the history of this universe. The little hints we’re given tantalized me while giving me just enough for this story. But I want more.

Thirdly, I removed and then added a star right at the introduction. I removed a star because he thanks Ronie Kendig [I have nothing personally against Mrs Kendig, I simply had a very bad experience with one of her books where expectations were taken out an airlock and hung, shot, drawn and quartered and then vaporized] and then added another because he appeared to be a Christian. It was a rollercoaster beginning.

Finally, I did enjoy this. There is a lot of action, a lot of “we’re outmanned, outgunned but we’re going to make them choke on us” kind of attitude. A hint of shallow romance [which I’m FINE with. Save that stuff for the likes of Austen, who can write a GOOD romance] and 2 big space empires just waiting to go at it.

As long as this series doesn’t turn into the Series That Never Ends [ala Taylor Anderson or David Weber], I’ll be looking forward to more by Mr. Bauer.

Tarkin (Star Wars) (ARC)

89bdb3e0b52da066249ad32cf3f48371 I received this copy from the publisher through Netgalley.com and that in no way has influenced my opinion in regards to this review.

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.tumblr.com by express permission of this reviewer.

Title: Tarkin

Series: Star Wars

Author: James Luceno

Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 289

 

Synopsis:

This book is the dual story about past and present of Tarkin. The past is about his beginning of life and rise to power and the forces that shaped him while the present story is a little adventure about the beginnings of the Rebellion and the Deathstar.

Which I believe completely throws the book Deathstar under the bus continuity-wise, but eh, what else is new in the Star Wars universe these days?

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed Kenobi but not this. It was bland, not that interesting and I found myself constantly checking my Kindle to see how much more I had before I would be at the end.

Which, to be honest, is how a lot of Star Wars book are but it used to be that I could ignore that and pick out whatever good I could because I really enjoyed the Extended Universe. But with Disney’s eradication of the EU my fandom turned to distaste and hence my thoughts are no longer so charitable.

I’ve been reading a lot of Forgotten Realms recently and the Star Wars books reminds me of those but not as fun. I guess I was looking for this book to redeem the actions that Disney took and it failed beyond belief in that regards and as a story was just a typical Star Wars book.

With that being said, I think I’m pretty much done with the Star Wars book universe. Doesn’t mean I won’t read the occasional one, especially once the sequel movies come out, but I certainly won’t be waiting for each book to come out so that I can devour it.

A big fat ‘meh’.

The Gatekeeper’s Son (ARC)

a1a528b4784576d41018386aa593a01f I received this copy from the publisher through Netgalley.com and that in no way has influenced my opinion in regards to this review.

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.tumblr.com by express permission of this reviewer.

Title: The Gatekeeper’s Son

Series: —–

Author: Chris Fladmark

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 313

 

Synopsis:

Junya [who I insist on calling Junior in my head] is the grandson of a billionaire, the son of a ninja and the Inheritor of a brand new power of the gods of light and darkness.

Another world is involved, lots of fighting, a cute chick and lots of YA’ness.

Junya must fight the minions of Light AND Dark, as he is the cross between them. He must save his grandfather, save his mother, destroy an evil monster and keep a legion of other worldly super ninjas from killing him, all at the same time.

 

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this for what it was, a boys’ fantasy novel. I don’t think I’ll be reading any more by this author but that isn’t a negative on his part. It just means that it is a bit too YA for me to handle.

It takes consummate skill to write a novel for both men and boys and as this is Mr Fladmark’s debut novel, he deserves credit for writing a very good boys novel.

Lots of fighting, your prerequisite cute girl, secrets out the wazoo, ninjas and a badguy who helps Junya for his own ends, *insert evil laughter*. That was the good stuff.

The 2 main issues for me were as follows:

1) Junya goes from being a shy, almost cowardly boy, to this strong young man who can manage a multi-billion dollar company with no real in between phase. It felt very awkward to me.

2) Junya’s father. He is in the story, but is so token that the reality is that Junya might as well have been raised by a single mother. He is supposed to be with them and part of their family, but he plays such a small part, even emotionally, that he comes across as a prop more than a real character.

Other than that, no real issues worth discussing. This is the beginning of a series, but it ends up just fine that I don’t feel the need to read any sequels. And the Series title is missing because Fladmark hasn’t given it one yet.

The Fatal Tree (Bright Empires #5 Final) (ARC)

3e75748517fbdc4eaa07d6ce8895f5fa I received this copy from the publisher through Netgalley.com and that in no way has influenced my opinion in regards to this review.

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 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 Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.tumblr.com by express permission of this reviewer.

Title: The Fatal Tree

Series: Bright Empires #5

Author: Stephen Lawhead

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Pages: 360

 

Synopsis:

All the Universes are ending, since Arthur bringing his wife back to life with the Spirit Well pretty much buggered up everything.

Now there is a Fatal Tree guarding the Well so the group can’t get to it and stop Arthur and set the Universe back on track.

Burleigh has a change of heart and tries to help the group.

In the end, everything gets back on track and Evolutiongod can continue its plan.

 

My Thoughts:

Thankfully, this series ends.

It felt VERY fluffy and it was hard to feel connected to any of the characters. My last book by Lawhead. Sometimes you just don’t want to review a book and this is one of those times.