Terms of Enlistment: Easily digestible, rather average, military SF

Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos

Andrew Grayson wants out. Growing up in the wretched urban tenements of the North American Commonwealth in the year 2108 has left him bitter, jaded and willing to risk his life to avoid becoming another barely surviving victim of a failed social system. His mother and father are no longer together and Andrew knows that if he wants a future the only real way out is to join the Armed Forces of the North American Commonwealth.

In the world of 2108 war is constant. Mankind has gone to space and is colonizing other planets, but we can’t seem to stop fighting each other whether on this world or another. For Grayson, joining the military is risky because conflict is real and there are no guarantees of where he will be assigned if he even makes it through training.

Basic Training in the future is much like it was in the past, except they don’t care if you quit because you are disposab... Read More

Islands of Rage & Hope: This series takes a bad turn

Islands of Rage & Hope by John Ringo 

How is it possible to remain interested in the somewhat plodding description of how mankind slowly tries to save itself after a zombie apocalypse? The first book in the BLACK TIDE RISING series, Under a Graveyard Sky, had the novelty of describing how the world was falling apart and the small, at times very painful steps that were taken to keep some hope alive. The second book, To Sail a Darkling Sea, started to flirt with some of the craziness that would be completely inescapable in a world where order has been lost. Things like pregnancy after four men and one woman have spent four months confined in a small lifeboat and the PTSD like effects of being the person who was willing to kill friends and family when they began to become zombies. All of this was interesting in a bizarre, morbid kind of way. Book thr... Read More

To Sail a Darkling Sea: A credible zombie story

To Sail a Darkling Sea by John Ringo

To Sail a Darkling Sea is the second installment in the BLACK TIDE RISING series.  Ringo continues to tell the story of the Smith family who are the virtual seed of humanity that survives the Zombie apocalypse and starts the fight to save the world from perpetual barbarity.

Trying to re-establish civilization is complex work. For “Commodore” Smith and his family, that becomes increasingly difficult as numbers of people rescued and the implied logistics support begin to increase commensurately.  How do you keep more and more boats running with limited repair parts, limited fuel and even fewer trained people who know how to fix them? With no land area to grow crops or harvest them, how do you feed everyone and keep them healthy when fishing is your primary food source? All of these complexities and the challenges of managing personalities become mo... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: What’s the best book you read last month?

It's the first Thursday of the month. You know what that means. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in August 2014 and why did you love it? It doesn't have to be a newly published book, or even SFF. We just want to share some great reading material. Feel free to post a full review of the book here, or a link to the review on your blog, or just write a few sentences about why you thought it was awesome.

(And don't forget that we always have plenty more reading recommendations on our Fanlit Faves page and our 5-Star SFF page. And we've also got a constantly updating list of new and forthcoming releases.)

As always, one commenter will choose a book from Read More

Under a Graveyard Sky: Here comes the Zombie Apocalypse

Under a Graveyard Sky by John Ringo

I have friends who are “preppers”:  people who stockpile supplies and make solid plans for what to do in the event of a natural disaster or complete collapse of society. Under a Graveyard Sky tells the story of the kind of scenario my friends have planned for, and of how the world as we know it could unravel if the Zombie Apocalypse occurred.

Steve Smith and his family are normal people who have taken serious precautions in case the world comes to an end. Some of their preparations make lots of sense, like being able to secure their home against bad weather and other disturbances. So when Steve’s brother, who shares the family outlook on disaster preparedness, alerts them to a potentially world-ending crisis, the family is prepared.

The story of a virus or other plague sweeping across the world and turning people into mindless, savage, flesh-eating... Read More

Cyador’s Heirs: I read it twice

Cyador’s Heirs by L.E. Modesitt Jr 

Cyador’s Heirs, the seventeenth book in the SAGA OF RECLUCE, takes place after the fall of the great nation of Cyador. It tells the story of Lerial, the younger son of the current Duke of Cigoerne, the heir to the Malachite Throne of fallen Cyador. L.E. Modesitt Jr. follows Lerial as he comes of age and is shaped by people and events around him.

Lerial is an intelligent, angry, slightly jealous younger son of the nobility. He is talented, insightful, and sick of his older brother getting preferential treatment and acting superior to him. Lerial is not a bad guy; he’s just struggling to figure out who he is. His father, Kiedron, is a diligent ruler who has been well trained by his mother, the former Empress of Cyador, on what it takes to grow and develop a country in real prosperity. Those lessons are not always easy for Lerial to... Read More

Veil of the Deserters: Salyards’ world-building is fascinating

Veil of the Deserters by Jeff Salyards

Jeff Salyards’ BLOODSOUNDER’s ARC is a fantasy series in the gritty vein: harsh and bloody, though with a bit of humor mixed in. Veil of the Deserters, its second installment, is an interesting blend of political maneuvering and realistic tactical combat in the era of swords and crossbows.

Arki is the historian/scribe for the company of Captain Braylar Killcoin from the Syldoonian Empire. Momentous events have happened in the previous book as CPT Killcoin and his soldiers continue their mission to create chaos in the city of Alespell. For Arki, it’s a culture clash; his background as a highly educated archivist gives him a very different perspective on life and death than the members of the Jackal Tower who employ him. Arki must learn that mercy and justice often have no place in the murky, violent world in which he now lives.

Salyards’ world-building is... Read More

The Crimson Campaign: A wonderful sequel

The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan

War is hell. That is true on many different levels, and each individual copes with it differently. Brian McClellan’s The Crimson Campaign is a journey into hell from four perspectives — each character’s hell no less terrible than the others’.

Tamas is the acknowledged tyrant, military leader,and  instigator of the overthrow on the Kingdom of Andro when his group of crack powder-mages killed the King and his royal cabal of Privileged (extremely powerful users of magic). Tamas has been through hell, fighting war after war until finally the murder/execution of his wife leaves him with just one goal left: revenge. Fighting the armies of Kez is something he knows well, but losing battles to them is not. When a bold, risky maneuver fails and leaves him trapped with an elite but relatively small group of soldiers behind enemy lines, Tamas has to find a way to save them. Watching... Read More

Night Broken: Mercy keeps growing

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Mercy Thompson-Hauptman’s evolution from grease-monkey rebel to wife of the Alpha of the local werewolf pack has been a slow process. At her core she remains the caring, hard-working, selfless woman we always liked, but life has a way of throwing her curve balls. So, when her husband’s ex-wife/mother of his only child comes running to the pack for help, Mercy has to find a way to cope.

Mercy’s husband, Adam, is truly a knight in shining armor. When someone he is connected to needs help, it’s not in his character to resist. He takes care of those he cares about, even when it’s not easy. Christy, Adam’s ex, is everything that Mercy is not. She is gentle-spoken, domestic, a great cook and really, really pretty.  Well, Mercy is pretty too, but she doesn’t put the same kind of effort into it that Christy does. Mercy is also hon... Read More

Traitor’s Blade: Full of adventure and derring-do

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

Traitor’s Blade is the first installment in Sebastien de Castell’s GREATCOATS series and is an interesting blend of genres — like The Three Musketeers with classic fantasy. At the core it is about a young man whose heart is broken and who has found meaning in defending ideals that are greater than himself.

An oft-used, but nonetheless compelling storyline in fantasy is the abuse of power by the nobility. Whether it’s something as simple as overtaxing and overworking the lower classes or some of the more heinous examples where the Nobles rape, murder and torture with seeming impunity, the concept remains that power unchecked corrupts. Falcio Val Mond has had his fill of exactly this sort of thing. As a young husband his experiences have riven his soul and created in him a desire for justice that drives him beyond his own strengths and forged him into something... Read More

Ever After: Not just another fun flighty urban fantasy

Ever After by Kim Harrison

Rachel Morgan has been through a lot since she left the IS and went private. She’s lost love, found love, been betrayed over and over again, made friends with demons, found out that she’s a demon and now she has to save her friends from the clutches of the demons one more time. It’s nothing she hasn’t done before, except that this time she faces a demon that all the rest of them are afraid of which is truly ironic since he is their creation.

The exact biological issues that are all tied up with being a witch or a demon and the genetic disease known as rosewood syndrome are the major theme of Rachel’s childhood. She should have died just like all the other babies with rosewood. The bio engineering and the cure that were developed at the behest of Trent Kalamack’s father are still illegal according to modern law. So, when babies who are destined to die from rosewood’s begin to survive and then are stolen... Read More

Blade Reforged: Fun cloak and dagger fantasy

Blade Reforged by Kelly McCullough 

Kelly McCullough’s FALLEN BLADE series has been a lot of fun to read. For fans of cloak and dagger fantasy, it’s been a welcome, easy to read morsel. You really don’t need to pay close attention because the story is about humor, a little danger, long lost romance and loyalty to ideals that have been lost. It’s not complex, but it’s good.

Blade Reforged follows Aral Kingslayer through his final transformation back from dissolute, amoral thug-for-hire to someone who at least resembles the rising star of the Order of Namara before her death at the hands of the Son of Heaven. His reformation, as the events of the past books have chronicled, has been very gradual. From relative indifference to the world around him, to caring about a former Novice from his Order, to defeating a former mentor and Master of his Order because he has gone over to the enemy, Aral has become a bet... Read More

American Craftsmen: An exciting blend of genres

American Craftsmen by Tom Doyle

Tom Doyle is a very creative author and his blending of historical fiction and urban fantasy is a really nice combination. American Craftsmen is an exciting blend of two genres that kept me interested and excited for more.

The idea of magic having existed throughout history, just never openly exposed is a well used plotline, but Doyle is able to explain it in a new, interesting way that does not feel stale or repetitive. In American Craftsmen we are shown a picture of the United States and how the pilgrims and other immigrants carried their magical talents into the new world and how they became incorporated into the governance and defense of the nation. The gritty, sometimes dark aspects of how these elite, talented operatives are employed and the truly catastrophic consequen... Read More

The Lascar’s Dagger: Not bad, but nothing special

The Lascar’s Dagger by Glenda Larke

The Lascar’s Dagger is an interesting blend of political intrigue, religious debate and illustrations of how stereotyping is seldom a good idea. Glenda Larke writes at a fairly easy to consume level, neither demanding that the reader track complex plot elements nor boring the reader with nothing interesting to say. For the first book in a new series, it’s not bad, but I’m not dying to read the next book in the series either.

Saker is a rogue. By the classic definition, he lies, he cheats, he seduces women and he is a spy for a powerful religious order. He is also incredibly naive, almost to the point that I was left wondering how he had survived as long as he has doing the job he does. Maybe it’s his incredi... Read More

Marked: I admire Adam the drug addict

Marked by Alex Hughes

For a couple more days you can still enter to win a copy of Clean or Sharp, the first two MINDSPACE INVESTIGATION novels.

My friendship with Adam has covered three novels now. Alex Hughes has taken me into a different future of the world I live in and made it very real for me, but the best part is that I’ve befriended a hero who I completely understand and admire. That’s right, I admire Adam the drug addict.

In Marked, the third book in Hughes’ MINDSPACE INVESTIG... Read More

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