Ghostmaker (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #2) ★★★☆½

ghostmaker (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: Ghostmaker
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #2
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Imperials are on the world of Mothraxx trying to prevent the forces of Chaos from taking it. On the morning of the final assault Gaunt walks among his troops and talks to various ones. Each time he talks with a trooper we get a story flashback from that soldier about a previous battle. We get 5-10 of these and then move on to the battle.

Mothraxx was home to a Lord of Nature (I don’t know the proper term in WH40K vernacular) and there is a gateway to a Homeworld that Chaos wants to invade. Humanity has been drawn there by the will of the Nature Lord even while thinking they’re doing it for themselves. A huge battle ensues, the Nature Lord gives his life to hold off the Chaos Forces and one of the Psykers, an Inquisitor goes to the Homeworld to close the gate.

Humanity destroys the forces of Chaos and everyone is less sad.

 

My Thoughts:

Having a bunch of short stories to fill in past battles worked really well. Considering how many troopers die, getting some backstory before they die feels more satisfying. At the same time, you don’t get invested enough in somebody that you’re emotionally scarred when they get their head ripped off by some Chaos warrior or their guts torn out and eaten or something like that.

The psyker who gave her life was introduced with just a hint of possible romance for Gaunt, so I knew she had to disappear. Can’t have attachments in this universe! Outside of Gaunt, his cabin boy and some of the ranking officers, anybody is liable to be killed off. I’ve adjusted my thinking for these books so it doesn’t bother me.

What does bother me though, still, is the very nature of this universe. If Chaos is bad, and the Inquisitors hunt down any human with psychic powers, using psychic powers, how does that work? And the Emperor. I’m going to have problems with him just existing, so get used to me complaining about him. He is as Chaos’y as Chaos so why does Humanity worship him? Grrr, I just don’t understand.

As Ground Pounder SF goes though, this is pretty enjoyable. Gaunt’s Ghosts are scouts and fighters so no spaceship to spaceship battles. I’m all for that!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

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Kneel or Die (Kurtherian Gambit #7) ★★☆☆½

kneelordie (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: Kneel or Die
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #7
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 336
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

There is one son of Michael left, one final Forsaken, who is defying Bethany Anne. He begins the process of a multi-prong attack based on what he learned from the last attack in the previous book. However, BA and Michael teleport in and Michael simply kills him. Bam, Forsaken are no longer a problem.

BA has been pushing for space worthy vehicles and her crew is really pushing themselves to get this project off the ground. BA needs a moon base to get out of the control of Terrestrial Powers. The team uses the new and improved vehicles on several missions and being able to get from one point on the Earth to another in a matter of minutes makes them even more deadly.

ADAM continues to grow and confronts a group of chinese government hackers. Now some part of the world knows it exists.

At the same time, the Team begins going after some terrorists that had struck in France. They begin hooking one member after another and working their way up the food chain. BA simply disappears each victim into the Etheric. No body, no mess, no evidence. This does lead to a lowly analyst at a small government agency discovering the disappearances and she begins tracking them. She realizes that “somebody” is making raids into foreign countries and killing people. So she sets out to track down this mysterious group of blacker than black operatives.

The clock is now ticking. BA must get her defenses in order: militarily, politically and technologically, as she is about to be discovered by the world at large.

 

My Thoughts:

The profanity has reached stupid levels now. It’s not all the time. It’s almost like Anderle has a checklist and there is one scene or two exclusively written so BA or one of her teams can simply swear in the ridiculous manner that Anderle has plotted. It simply is annoying and trying to figure out how I can just skip over it in future books.

I felt like the whole Forsaken problem was wrapped up way too easily. It was like the Forsaken were setup as bowling pins and then between BA and Michael, the author knocks them all down with a spare. It was rather anti-climactic. Hard to believe the Forsaken were such a problem if they were taken care of so easily.

Unfortunately, at the end of the book the author felt the need to include pages and pages and PAGES of reviews of previous books. Even more tactless and stupid was the fact that he RESPONDED to those reviews in the book. I believe most of them came from Amazon, so I’m not sure how he legally did that(Anderle being an indie I suspect he just did whatever he felt like without giving 2 figs for anyone else). Who the feth does he think he is doing something like that? If I found out he’d done something like that with one of my reviews without permission I’d buy a plane ticket to the nearest metro area, gear up and hunt him down for being the sick son of a bitch he is. This was completely inappropriate to be included in a book, without even going into the legal side of things. I knocked off a whole star for this section. Things like this are why I detest indies in general.

Other than those 2 major items, this was fun, just like all the previous books. There are some real kick butt action scenes and the little bit we get to read about TOM and ADAM and their interactions are fun. Anderle also pulls no punches about terrorists and what religious group they mainly come from. Of course, he soft peddles it with some pretty Politically Correct appeasement language but considering how blinded the West is to Islam, that really isn’t surprising, even if just a bit disappointing.

I really liked the whole Analyst figuring stuff out. It wasn’t that she was a super character but the implications are pretty important. Of course, Anderle will probably deal with that in the same way he dealt with the Forsaken. He seems to be much better at setting up cool scenarios than in writing them out with the right balance of tension and “the good guys win”ness.

There are 15 or 18 books in this particular series. I was sure I was going to be able to work my way through them all when I started but after this one, I don’t know. Him including and responding to reviews really undermined the enjoyment I had experienced. It tainted everything.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Torchship Pilot (Torchship #2) ★★★☆☆

torchshippilot (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: Torchship Pilot
Series: Torchship #2
Author: Karl Gallagher
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 346
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

War has broken out between the Fusion and the Disconnect. The Fusion is convinced that AI is a threat to all humanity and the only way to stop it is with a united humanity, under their control. So while humanity should be fighting off the continued probes by the AI of the Sol System, instead they’re fighting each other.

The Diskers end up with a radio weapon that shuts down all computer based activity. They got this from the treasure trove that Michie helped recover in the previous book. They also got a lot of history. Said history showed that the AI Betrayal wasn’t an actual betrayal but just a carrying out of orders by spiteful humanity. Turns out is was more of an overload/crash/accident than an intelligent take over.

With their new weapon the Diskers defeat a Fuzie fleet, reveal the secret history and find out that the AI’s are just running whatever their last command was. Michie makes contact with an AI on a former Fuzie world and communications between AI and Humanity has begun.

 

My Thoughts:

So, these aren’t AI in the “I am self-aware and want to destroy you” Skynet kind of way. They’re just suped up computer programs. Big whoop de doo. I was rather disappointed at that. And then to have the salt added to the wound that they’re just big cuddlies carrying out their programs and they don’t actually mean to be mean to anyone? Boo hoo hoooooo!

This gets the romance tag because Michie and her husband are always having quickies. After they get up in the morning but before going on duty. Before that meaning in 15 minutes. After dinner. And on and on and on. It was reading about 2 newly-weds who acted like they’d been virgins before getting married. Except Michie was a whore to steal information, so that doesn’t hold up. She also giggles a lot. And her husband just thinks “I love her. I’m going to make this marriage work” as an excuse to let behavior by Michie slide. Beta male all the way.

And this got 3 stars from me? Yep. The rest of the book was pretty good. Several of the characters from the first book either die or move on. Sadly, no one really moves in to take their place and it becomes the Michie and Husband show. I complain about them but I do think that the author does a better job of focusing on the story when he only has 2 main characters to interact with instead of a whole crew.

I am planning on reading the final book but have no intention of reading more by the author if he has even written anything else.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Target Rich Environment (TRE #1) ★★★★★

targetrichenvironment (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: Target Rich Environment
Series: TRE #1
Author: Larry Correia
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Short Story Collection
Pages: 359
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A collection of many of Correia’s short stories that have only been published in magazines throughout the years. 2 Audible Exclusives were also turned into text, one taking place in the Grimnoir Universe and one about an Interdimensional Insurance Agent.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a rollicking good time. I was reading along, having a blast, figuring I’d give it 4 stars and then I read the final piece about Tom Stranger the Interdimensional Insurance Agent and this rocketed up to a 5 Star lickety-split! The humor in Tom Stranger might not appeal to everyone but it was certainly right up my alley.

I’d read a couple of these before, namely Tanya, Princess of the Elves that takes place in the MHI universe and is about how Tanya and Edward the Urk meet. Just as good the second time around. There were 2 Grimnoir Chronicles stories, one a prequel, Christmas in Detroit and a sequel, Murder on the Orient Elite. Jake Sullivan is a fantastic protagonist as he’s smart, capable and not just a Gary Stu.

The rest of the new stuff was a lot of fun to read too. Several of the stories took place in pre-existing franchise universes (mainly games) and while good, didn’t stand out to me. The one that really did stand out was a Cthulhu horror’esque story about a planet where humanity accidentally awakens an old one of that world which ripples out and the story ends with the Old One on Earth beginning to stir, so you know Humanity is DOOMED! If you’ve ever read much Lovecraft, this story would have fit in perfectly.

I don’t know what else to say. I never review each story in a collection, as that would make a review of a short story collection about 10,000 words and that would kill any joy for me. I am giving this the “Best Book of the Year” tag not for any richness or deep insights but because it kicked ass in every single story and I had so much fun reading it. After the debacle of Valor, this was needed to restore my faith in authors as a whole. If you ever do read this, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Highly Recommended

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Rath’s Deception (Janus Group #1) ★★★☆☆

rathsdeception (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 Deception
Series: Janus Group #1
Author: Piers Platt
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 350
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Rath grows up with very options. His older brother is in a gang but wants Rath to graduate so he can join the cops and move up to middle society. Unfortunately, said brother is caught working for the cops and his gang kills him. Rath’s parents are druggies and end up killing themselves and burning their dwelling down. Rath moves out on his own and finishes school.

He is approached by a recruiter and goes through some trials and becomes part of the Janus Group. Their motto is “50 for 50”. Make fifty successful kills and half the bounty is yours and live the high life for the rest of your life. With virtually no organized crime, the Janus Group is the only game in town if you need something impossible and illegal pulled off.

Rath becomes Operator 621. Considered a Tier 4, odds are he won’t make his 50. On one particular mission he is sent after a rogue Operator, Operator 339 and gets 2 kills from killing her. Rath goes on to slowly climb up the ladder one harrowing mission after another. He finally makes his 50th kill.

However, when he goes back to the base camp, he’s met by a welcoming committee of merc’s hired by the Janus Group who specialize in taking out Janus Operatives. See, the Janus Group makes a LOT more money if they never have to pay out. Thankfully, Rath’s encounter with Operative 339 prepared him for just this eventuality (she revealed the truth to him when he was hunting her down) and now he’s a free agent, ready to go after the Janus Group with help from Operative 339.

 

My Thoughts:

This was much better than the Falken Chronicles books by the same author. Much more action oriented.

But first, the bad and mediocre and downward trending stuff. Platt seems to be all in favor of legalized prostitution if one of the page long soliquy’s a side character goes on is anything to judge by. Prostitution is evil, period. You don’t make it better by making the conditions better or safer or anything. You make it better by stamping it out. You call it the evil it is and do your damnedest to destroy it. And you start with people calling for the legalization of it. They are the real danger.

Secondly, Platt does his “reformed” prisoner thing but goes a step further. Rath meets the boss gang member years later and he claims to be born again, “but not in a religious way”, oh no. He had his memory wiped and now he’s just a perfect Mother Teresa giving sanctuary to an old grandmother and her 2 little grand kids. I’m not sure where to even start with such stupidity. Humans are fundamentally broken, that is known as the Doctrine of Total Depravity. It states that human nature is thoroughly corrupt and sinful due to the Fall of Adam and Eve. So for a human to fundamentally change, the change must come from outside themselves because any change by themselves will be broken since it comes from a broken source. This idea by Platt also buys into the thought that you are no more than your memories. If you are a mean, selfish, murderous asshole one minute and suddenly wake up with no memories, your body remembers and you’re going to act that way. It has became your “Nature” and that is way more than just your memories.

On to the stuff I actually liked 🙂

This had some really good action scenes. Rath’s completing his training evaluation to see if he even qualified was good. I also liked when he went on missions. I do wish there had been a couple more of those instead of showing Rath being a lonely teenager. The author also did a good job of interjecting the view from the Controllers of the Operatives and this gave us our first clue that all wasn’t as it was purported to be. So when Rath and Operative 339 had their little clash, it was obvious that Rath had been turned.

I enjoyed this and I’m looking forward to the next book. However, if Platt keeps up his “all criminals are really misunderstood cuddle bears” or keeps on promoting evil as good, I’ll have to seriously evaluate if I want to keep on reading this series.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days (Revelation Space #5) ★★★★☆

diamonddogsturquoisedays (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: Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days
Series: Revelation Space #5
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 296
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

This book consists of the two Revelation Space novellas that make up the title of this book.

Diamond Dogs follows a man driven to explore a mysterious tower on a forsaken planet. The tower is made up of rooms with a puzzle in each room. Answer correctly and the door to the next room opens. Answer incorrectly and the Tower punishes you. This man gathers a group together and they begin the journey. They have a geneticist with them who helps change their bodies and minds to answer the various challenges. Along the way it is revealed that the man is actually a clone of the original man. Each clone is programmed with the memories of all those who came before and convinced that that particular clone CAN beat the tower. Eventually, only 2 other members of the group and the clone survive and the 2 remaining members turn back before they die. The clone continues on. Eventually one of the members can’t resist the lure and the story ends with him sneaking off on a spaceship to return to the Tower.

Turquoise Days follows 2 sisters on a Pattern Juggler world. Pattern Jugglers are ocean wide remnants of a civilization. They take in the mind of anyone who swims in their oceans and sometimes rearrange the swimmer’s mind and gives them a boost. The planet sees a spaceship coming and one night there is unprecedented Pattern Juggler activity. The sisters go swimming illegaly and one becomes one with the ocean and other has nothing happen to her. The spaceship arrives 2 years later with a contingent of scientists who want to study the Pattern Jugglers. Only it turns out they trying to revive a specific memory in the Pattern Jugglers and imprint it on all of their members. Said memory is of a Tyrant. The remaining sister convinces the Pattern Jugglers to resist the invaders and it does, agains all the humans on the planet. The book ends with the remaining sister giving herself to the ocean and the Pattern Jugglers destroying everything.

 

My Thoughts:

Cheery stories, eh? I’d read the first one in the book Beyond the Aquila Rift back in ’16. I couldn’t remember if that was the whole story or not. I enjoyed the story this time around too but my goodness, it was depressing. Not only the clones (all of them) megalomania but then the story ending with the other main character being drawn back by his own lust for knowledge. So good and evocative but I just groaned inside.

The second story was new to me so that made it quite fun to read. The ending wasn’t quite what I was expecting but considering Reynolds’ penchant for extinction events, once I thought about it it didn’t really surprise me. Reynolds is definitely a gloomy gus of a guy so don’t expect human exceptionalism to be part of the story. We don’t get to pull a rabbit out of our collective hat and save the day.

I really liked that Reynolds didn’t have 3 story plots going on that ever so slowly tied together. A good way to start the month out.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

First and Only (Gaunt’s Ghosts #1) ★★★☆½

firstandonly (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: First and Only
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #1
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Ibram Gaunt lost his father at a young age and the data surrounding that loss was classified. This drove young Gaunt to become a Commisar, a military and political appointment where he is able to root out the evil of chaos in the emperor’s name.

During his first battle right before becoming Commisar, he is confronted by a prophetess who foretells several things. While everyone else thinks she is just raving, Gaunt keeps all she says in memory and uses it to steer his life.

Once a Commisar, he finds out that his uncle, a highly decorated officer, committed a grave act of cowardice that doomed Gaunt’s father to death. Gaunt duels and executes his uncle, thus leading to a schism between Gaunt’s new military order, the Ghosts and the order headed by his uncle.

During one battle against Chaos, Gaunt increases his fame. A second battle does the same and marks him as a target. The third battle is for a world overrun by Chaos that holds a secret that only the Leader of the Expedition knows about, and Gaunt. The Leader wants the power of the artifact for himself so as to become Warleader of the entire Host while Gaunt knows it is truly chaos tainted and something that lead to the downfall of Humanity many millennia ago.

Gaunt wins and with the surviving Ghosts (known because they are trackers and spies) truly begins his career.

 

My Thoughts:

This is formulaic franchise fiction. So I expect certain things and this didn’t disappoint. Another thing is that I’m reading about an already established universe and so my questions might have been answered 14 thousand books ago or simply dismissed. Franchise Fiction never stands up well to scrutiny; it’s simply not meant to.

So my questions. If Chaos is so bad that it can infect people, planets, etc out of no where, why the heck doesn’t the Imperial Fleet destroy every planet that has Chaos taint? Sure, that seems extreme but if Chaos is worse than the black plague and way more virulent, why is it treated so casually? Why aren’t Imperial scientists working on ways to “vaccinate” against Chaos? Why all the money on the military and NO money on research? If the Emperor is, in essence, just an undead Lich King, how is he any different from the forces of Chaos he claims to be striving against? These all popped into my head and were never addressed. So I just tossed them aside so I could enjoy the book.

This is a fun “soldiers kill stuff and fight battles” kind of book. The infighting between Imperials pissed me off, but it was supposed to. Abnett shows just how corrupt Humanity is, even in the face of raw Chaos. Considering this is Ground Pounder action, I am planning on reading all 14 or 15 of these. Wouldn’t surprise me if Gaunt dies right at the end though, that’s how Warhammer seems to roll.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)