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

★★★★★

 

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Saints (Monster Hunter Memoirs #3) ★★★★☆

saints (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: Saints
Series: Monster Hunter Memoirs #3
Author: John Ringo, Larry Correia
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 288
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Chad blows up at MCB after the experience in New Orleans. This puts him on their Super Shit List and one of the agents starts making things personal. A bad scrying shows Chad is involved with a black magic group kidnapping virgins to raise an Old One. Turns out it is Chad’s brother but that makes Chad involved anyway. Chad takes down his brother and stops the ring. That’s enough proof for the agent AND Agent Franks. Franks beats Chad almost to death and hospitalizes him. Chad then sues MCB and while things are in full swing heads over to England to do some research at the Van Helsing Institute.

There he investigates why some of the occurrences are happening in New Orleans. Turns out, his brother has slightly awakened an Old One’s cocoon. The Agent in charge of MCB in New Orleans has taken MCB being sued by Chad extremely personal so he does nothing when even Earl Harbinger tells him there is a baby Old One about to wake up and eat the world. That means its up to MHI to toe the line again and stand between the Earth and total destruction. MHI wins. Was there any ever doubt? Of course, they get a little help from the Fey and a High Hunt.

The books ends with Earl taking over and describing the events at the Christmas Party where Ray Shackleford IV almost destroys MHI. Turns out it is Earl and Chad who close the Portal to the Old One and Chad gives his life to allow Earl to do so.

My Thoughts:

This was a great wrapup to the trilogy. A nascent Old One growing under New Orleans? Man, how much more of a threat can you get than that? Everything leads up to that though, so the story goes from threat to threat to threat.

Everything isn’t directly connected, so things feel a little discombobulated sometimes. The whole thing with his brother ends so quickly that there was no tension and besides it leading into Chad getting the snot beat out of him, was rather anti-climactic.

Chad’s time in England was boring. It didn’t help that the story about the ghost and the super special metal was included in the Monster Hunter Files anthology so I kind of felt cheated. Him teaching was just as boring.

The final battle was EVERYTHING I want out of a Monster Hunter International fight. Guns, bombs, flamethrowers, Holy Water, and so many monsters. So many, many monsters. Ringo and Correia did a fantastic job of making this a pulse pounding fight!

The ending, with Chad’s sacrifice, was how this trilogy needed to end. Chad’s story had a beginning and this was his end. For all his philandering, dickheaded braggodocio and general arrogance, Chad goes out like a hero.

Overall, this was a worthwhile read in the MHI universe, even if a little bit off from Correia’s style.

★★★★☆

 

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Sweet Silver Blues (Garrett, P.I.) ★★★☆½

sweetsilverblues (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: Sweet Silver Blues
Series: Garrett, P.I.
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Garrett, a Private Investigator, is hired by the Patriarch of some cobbler elves to carry out his sons last wishes. It doesn’t hurt that the son and Garrett both served in Cantard and survived their army stint in that region. The father reveals that his son was getting rich in speculating on silver prices, with help from a woman in the Cantard who is probably on the enemies side. This same woman is one that Garrett fell in love with back in the day. So to help out an old dead buddy and maybe see the love of his youth, Garrett agrees to go into the Cantard and get the woman back to TunFaire where she will inherit a small fortune.

Unfortunately, the dead brother has a sister named Rose and Rose wants all that money for herself. She tries to hire Garrett, seduce Garrett, threaten and assault Garrett and eventually she is forced to team up with Garrett. Garrett also hires the help of various people to go on this trip with him.

Turns out the Lady is a vampire now. Garrett and Co kill the Bloodmaster, escape with the Lady and another vampire Garrett’s coworker wants for reasons of his own and make it back to TunFaire. The Lady is welcomed by the cobblers as an unofficial inlaw and given the best treatment to reverse the vampirism. Morly, Garrett’s coworker uses his vampire to destroy the local crimelord who has been making threats against Morly.

Everyone is relatively happy and everybody gets paid. Garrett also hooks up with Rose’s cousin so the detective fulfills the mission AND gets the girl. Not bad.

 

My Thoughts:

Nothing brilliant with this book but it was the most fun I’ve had so far this month besides with Shaman King. Light hearted rompy fun.

Cook is obviously riffing on the Hardboiled Noir Detective thing and if I was better versed in that genre I might be able to appreciate this even more. As it is, a hard drinking, hard headed, hard fisted detective living in an Urban Fantasyland works really well. I guess this isn’t strictly Urban Fantasy, as it isn’t our world at all, but it has all the earmarks of a mixed group of humans and supernatural and a city and the goings ons that happen in cities (the stinking, filthy, cowflop places).

Cook still yanks his readers around with making his characters know things that aren’t revealed to us and having “things happen” very suddenly with almost no warning. I know I missed particulars but I just sat back and let the story roll, even if I didn’t perhaps catch all the whys & wherefores. Cook has a style that while not exactly the same, is similar enough so an astute reader can pick up on it from his Black Company books or his Dread Empire series.

I have zero interest in straight up detective fiction. Not mysteries, but Detective Fiction. However, throw in some paranormal stuff and bam, it really works for me. And Garrett is no whiny, crybaby, “poor me, the Council doesn’t like me” miserable sodding jackass like some other character I can think of whose name rhymes with Harry Dresden. I can’t say that if you hate Dresden you’ll like Garrett, but if Dresden made you give up on Urban Fantasy, Garrett might be able to punch you in the head until you admit you really DO like Urban Fantasy now, honest sir!

As long as no pedophile wizard shows up to ruin the series like Cook did with his last Dread Empire book, I suspect I’ll be glad to work my through the 15+ books in this series.

★★★☆½

 

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Rites of Azathoth ★★☆☆½

rites of azathoth (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: Rites of Azathoth
Series: ———-
Author: Frank Cavallo
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Horror
Pages: 420
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Diana Mancuso, FBI agent, is carrying on an affair with her boss, one of the Assistant-Directors of the FBI. She is assigned to a high profile murder case of a potential vice-presidential candidate. The profile indicates a man who up until 24hrs ago, was 1000 miles away in a maximum security prison. He has mysteriously disappeared. It turns out that the VP candidate has ties to all the previous victims, who were ritualistically murdered.

Doctor Carter, former protege of Gamaliel a discredited historian who dwelt on Elder gods as the true history of mankind, has been invited to join a mysterious group headed by a reclusive billionaire. Carter has been recruited to translate an elder language that he was taught by Gamaliel.

The ritualistic murderer is acting as supernatural conduit for Azathoth, who the billionaire is attempting to awaken. Said awakening will grant all knowledge to those involved but might destroy all of creation as well. Luther Vayne is acting on Azathoth’s will to prevent this awakening.

Everything comes together, a gateway is opened by Carter, Mancuso and Vayne prevent Azathoth from awakening, the occultic group is destroyed and Carter is taken into the realm of Chaos and he thinks how wonderful it all is.

 

My Thoughts:

I feel like I am being rather generous in giving this 2 ½ stars. Mancuso was a very unpleasant character. She’s just a jerk to everyone, even her so-called friend. This friend covers for her, breaks the law for her, lies to FBI agents for her and said friend tosses it off as “Oh well, that’s what friends do”. And Mancuso takes it as her due instead of as the huge thing it is. Then comes her affair with her boss. He’s married and trying to fix his marriage AND keep Mancuso on the side. She’s pissed off that she’s the side woman and is always put out that he won’t toss his rich, beautiful, young wife for her. She’s the very definition of an angry bitch. It was NOT amusing or enjoyable.

Carter was an arrogant ass who was divorced and failing at pretty much everything, including being a dad. He stays arrogant, assuming and overbearing during the whole book and his little “Oh, how wonderful the other side is” comment at the end was completely out of character and had NO place in a horror story about eldrich horrors beyond mortal ken.

The horror side of things worked pretty well. Demon children adopted by a cabal of women, hunted down by a supernatural blind killer, a half demon billionaire who sacrifices the blood of virgins to his own mother, it was fantastic. It was what you’d expect from an HP Lovecraft themed story. So the whole thing about Azathoth using Vayne to prevent the end of everything didn’t fit. Elder gods don’t care. And Carter saying how beautiful the chaos of the other realm was? That was complete bollux. The other realm drives men mad, period.

So unlikeable characters and an ending that didn’t fit with the theme made for a rather bleh read. There was also a lot of profanity.

★★☆☆½

 

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The Dead Town (Frankenstein #5) ★★☆☆☆

thedeadtown (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 Dead Town
Series: Frankenstein #5
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 447
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Everything begins falling apart for Victor Immaculate. His vat grown creations once again transcend their genetic coding and that transcendance is always in the form of breaking. Builders take on non-biological matter and can’t reproduce properly, the replacement clones begin to obsess and lose sight of their mission.

Through it all, Michael and Carson begin helping the townsfolk defend themselves while Deucalion hunts Victor down. Deucalion snaps Victor’s neck, the creations fall apart upon their creator’s death and Deucalion can now walk quantumly through the Light instead of skulking through the Shadows.

 

My Thoughts:

Even while I was expecting this story to turn out like this, it was still disappointing to have it actually happen. This followed the exact same pattern as the first trilogy but without any finesse or style. Evil simply falls apart and the good guys win by default.

Also, I already wrote this review, forgot to post it online, forgot I hadn’t posted it and deleted the hard copy from Open Office. So I’m writing this all over again. That always ruins things.

Basically, I didn’t enjoy this book or this series overall. I wouldn’t recommend it but I am going to continue dipping my toes into the Koontz universe. I’ve got 20 of his books available so I’m going to go exploring and see what I find. I hope I find better things than this book.

If anyone has read some of his standalone stuff, feel free to make recommendations in the comments, otherwise I’m just going to start picking stuff randomly.

★★☆☆☆

 

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Queen Bitch (Kurtherian Gambit #2) ★★★★☆

queenbitch (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: Queen Bitch
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #2
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 258
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Bethany Anne must begin cleaning up the mess left behind by Michael. She has to start cleaning up the Forsaken who are starting to make inroads in North America due to Michael’s absence. She has to start putting Michael’s “good” children back on the straight and narrow and have them go back to their duties of keeping the supernatural outside of the purview of the normal world. She also has to put the Council of the Were in their place, as several members are thinking that without Michael around they can begin shoving the humans around, perhaps even ruling them.

While ALL this is going on, Bethany Anne also has to keep in mind that the overall threat is so much greater and her final goal must be to get humanity into space and ready to fight off potential hordes of ravening aliens.

Sometimes, being Queen Bitch just isn’t worth the hassle.

 

My Thoughts:

This was F-U-N!! Nothing deep, nothing worth a re-read but my goodness, Bethany Anne kicks some serious butt. She is pretty much a Mary Sue, but only if Mary Sue was a psycho violent vampire who was trying to protect the planet. I can handle that.

Even through all of this, Bethany Anne is still planning on just how she is going to save the planet. She might be violent but she’s not at all stupid. She’s beginning to make more and more use of TOM and she’s already thinking about how she can use its knowledge to grow humanity’s knowledge AND give her the funds necessary to build the space stuff that will be needed.

Thinking about this book, I would compare it to the earlier MHI books in terms of action and violence. I’d compare it quality-wise to the first MHI book as well. The thing that gives me pause is that Anderle has a bajillion books while Correia has a steady output of steadily increasing quality. I’m kind of afraid to find out where Anderle plateaus or even nosedives. That’s the only problem and that is all in my head.

I almost started in on the next book right away but thank goodness my inner core of self control kept me safe. Nothing is worse than having too much of a good time all at once.

★★★★☆

 

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Death Becomes Her (Kurtherian Gambit #1) ★★★☆½

deathbecomesher (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: Death Becomes Her
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #1
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 271
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Michael, the Father of All Vampires, is awoken after one of his children is killed. He sets out to find a replacement but there is only 1 candidate that fits Michaels very exacting standards. He contacts General Reynolds to setup the interview.

Bethany Anne Reynolds, a black ops of black ops agent, has been diagnosed with an incurable blood disease that will kill her in less than 6months. She has only told 2 people, neither of them being her father. So when she is summoned to her father’s base, she assumes one of the two spilled the beans.

Bethany Anne is recruited by Michael. She is now officially dead and her record of existence has been closed. However, Bethany Anne was not recruited to simply be a new child of Michael’s, but Michael’s own replacement as he realized that events in the world were moving faster than his 1000 year old brain could handle. New blood was needed (I think I made that pun all by myself!).

It turns out that what turned Michael into a sunwalking alpha vampire a millenia ago was an alien scout sent to change any sentient races it found into beings capable of fighting an enemy that the aliens, the Kurtherians, were no longer able to fight. Now with an alien computer in her head, Michael disappeared and the kickass attitude that has gotten her through life so far, Bethany Anne must face down all of Michael’s children plus all the residents of the Unknown World (what the supernaturals refer to themselves as collectively).

The book ends with Bethany Anne forming a new proto-team of her own and taking down of Michael’s grandchildren who had gotten out of line. But with the Forsaken, children of Michael who have rejected all his strictures, life, or death, isn’t going to be easy for Bethany Anne.

 

My Thoughts:

My first impression of Bethany Anne (you have NO idea how sick to death I became of that two name nomeclature by the time this book was done) was that I hated her guts. She was piss and vinegar with a bad attitude. Thankfully, once she is made over by the alien machine, and starts acting like an alpha vampire, it’s more palatable. I still don’t particularly care for her, but I stopped actively disliking her by the end.

There was a lot of setup in this book, what with introducing vampires, the shape changers and then the whole “alien” thing. That took this from a “so stereotypical urban fantasy that I want to gag” to a much wider scope of story that could be, and will be, told. Also, Bethany Anne didn’t have any love interest in this book at all, so that was nice.

The action scene where she destroys the werewolves and then goes after the vampire that set them on her was nice and I wish there had been more of that. But at under 300 pages, Anderle had to really choose what to include in this and honestly, I think he did a good job of balancing everything.

This was another book that came across my radar because of PG’s Ramblings. He was dead on about the profanity too, so be aware of that. It only took me a year to get around to reading this. So take that into consideration if I ever tell you that your review has inspired me to read Book X. It’ll be a while

* grin *

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)