John Hulet (RETIRED)

JOHN HULET (on FanLit's staff July 2007 -- March 2015) is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years.

Janissaries: My expectations were too high

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Janissaries by Chris Kennedy

I stumbled on Janissaries, the first book in Chris Kennedy's THEOGONY series, as a recommendation by Amazon after some other books that I have purchased. The description is kind of up my alley because I like the idea of the Earth fighting to preserve itself from an alien race. So, I dropped a couple of bucks and picked up this self-published story. It gets good reviews at Amazon.

Sequel



Chris Kennedy has a story that he wants to tell about how the history of the earth is tied into different alien races having impacted us and left traces of them. The problem is that it was incredibly heavy-handed. Instead of having humans gradually piece together that there are other races living amongst us, Navy Lieutenant Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs (yes, Calvin & Hobbs... Read More

Perilous Shield: Worth the effort if you’re a fan

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Perilous Shield by Jack Campbell

The planet of Midway has seen some pretty intense activity since the fall of the Syndicate worlds after their fleets were defeated by Admiral Jack Geary, the legendary Black Jack. Former COEs Gwen Iceni and Artur Drakon now have control of the political machine that was in place under the Syndicate and are crafting something new. They also control the local fleet, have rooted out most of the Syndicate internal spies (known as Snakes) and have successfully worked with the Alliance as they have transited the Midway star system twice. It’s been a busy time for two former CEOs who had been relegated to backwater duty because they were not quite the same as their peers.

Perilous Shield focuses on a couple of key elements and some of those things are so repetitively discussed that it becomes boring. After Tarnished Knight... Read More

Appalachian Overthrow: It’s about Ahn-Kha

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Appalachian Overthrow by E.E. Knight

Appalachian Overthrow the tenth novel in E.E. Knight’s VAMPIRE EARTH series, is about Ahn-Kha. not David Valentine. I wanted to get that out upfront because if you have been following this series for a long time, which I have, then reading this book is interesting because of who it’s about and not because of the way it advances the storyline.

Ahn-Kha is a grog. That’s like saying that he’s an amphibian or a mammal because the diversity between the different species is enormous. As a “Golden One,” he is highly intelligent, very wise and has the physical dimensions of a Star Wars Wookie. Basically he’s huge, strong and super smart. Humans are lucky that the Kurians didn’t do a good job of linking his race to their war or we would have been in even worse trouble.

After Da... Read More

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

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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... Read More

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

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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 interestin... Read More

To Sail a Darkling Sea: A credible zombie story

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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 ch... 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

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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 turnin... Read More

Cyador’s Heirs: I read it twice

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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. Tho... Read More

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

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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. Read More

The Crimson Campaign: A wonderful sequel

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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, Ta... Read More

Night Broken: Mercy keeps growing

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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 honest, loyal and faithful to those... Read More

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

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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... Read More

Ever After: Not just another fun flighty urban fantasy

Readers’ average rating:

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 rosew... Read More

Blade Reforged: Fun cloak and dagger fantasy

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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 g... Read More

American Craftsmen: An exciting blend of genres

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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 consequences they can unleash makes for fast-pace... Read More

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

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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 incredible good looks??

The Lascar’s Dagger follows the mis... Read More

Marked: I admire Adam the drug addict

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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 INVESTIGATION series, Adam is still recovering from all the trauma of having seen previous students go bad. The fact that he saved the Guild from a te... Read More

Half in Love, by Alex Hughes

Today we welcome Alex Hughes, author of the MINDSPACE INVESTIGATIONS series. The second novel, Sharp, was one of my favorite reads last year. I've just finished the excellent third volume, Marked, which will be released on April 1. In Marked, Adam is investigating a case at the Telepath's Guild. Adam continues to be one of my favorite urban fantasy heroes because his struggles feel so viscerally real. The emotional agony and practical physical pain he combats as he struggles to maintain his sobriety in the face of difficult life transitions are poetically beautiful.

Here's your chance to try MINDSPACE INVESTIGATIONS. One commenter will win a copy of either Clean or Sharp (your choice). If you're in the US, you can choose a print or ebook... Read More

Breach Zone: An argument for change

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Shadow Ops: Breach Zone by Myke Cole

If you take the time to look and consider, there are often important lessons you can learn from novels. Sometimes characters exhibit traits and growth that we, ourselves, would do well to emulate. Shadow Ops: Breach Zone contains some of those lessons and role models.

Good people do bad things. We call them mistakes. The hard part about being in a position of real responsibility is that the second and third order effects can greatly exceed even our most jaded expectations. For LTC Jan Thorsson, call-sign Harlequin, those effects manifested themselves when his former lover and the most dangerous woman in the world manages to rip a hole between the Source and downtown New York City to release a flood of goblins and other enemies of humanity.

As a result of having done the right, if not politically expedient thing, rec... Read More

Iron Night: This urban fantasy series has a great protagonist

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Iron Night  by M.L. Brennan

I really like it when an author can keep a character from growing stagnant. It’s not always obvious that it’s happening, but it’s very impressive when the author has enough vision to avoid it. In Iron Night, the second book in the GENERATION V series by M.L. Brennan, Fortitude Scott is a wonderful example of a main character that keeps growing.

Fortitude Scott has not given up on remaining as human as he can for as long as he can. After the drama and partial transformation that took place as a result of his heroic efforts to save innocent children from a terrible monster, it’s harder to do than ever before. After losing his job, getting a new room-mate and breaking up with his cheating manipulative girlfriend, the sky is the limit.

Fort is being expected to take a more active role in his mother’s fam... Read More

Generation V: Not a typical vampire novel

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Generation V by M.L. Brennan 

Adolescent vampire novels are a dime a dozen and most of them revolve around a teenage girl with a love interest who happens to be a not-so evil, impossibly sexy vampire. It’s the kind of boring cliché that drives the male segment of the populace away from urban fantasy. There are exceptions to the rule and these stories can be not only fun to read, but also refreshing because they don’t follow the expected paths.

If you worked at a coffee shop, drove a terrible car, had a girlfriend who was unceasingly unkind and a room-mate who didn’t pay his half of the rent you would be Fortitude Scott. Being broke and working for an awful boss is tough, but lots of people have to deal with that. It’s the other side of Fort’s life that makes it especially rough. As the child of a vampire, Fortitude will eventually become a vampire, but he is fighting the process. T... Read More

The Emperor’s Blades: Starts a promising new epic fantasy series

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The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

Epic fantasy has been heavily stocked over the years with some powerhouse writers — Jordan, Erikson, Wurts, Rothfuss and Martin have been the standard bearers of this genre of fantasy. It’s a pretty challenging genre to break into, but after reading the first book of the CHRONICLE OF THE UNHEWN THRONE, The Emperor’s Blades, I am reminded that there is always room for someone new.

In epic fantasy, great empires are never allowed to simply exist in peace. I... Read More

Rex Regis: A very human tale

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Rex Regis by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Regis Regis is the eighth book of the IMAGER PORTFOLIO and the fifth book following Quaeryt. After literally years of hard work, war, and nothing less than miraculous events, the curtain begins to close on this part of Solidar's history.

The fall of Antiago had been particularly painful for Quaeryt because of the loss of his child when his wife was injured. The reality of the constant threat of power-hungry competitors to influence the future of the continent of Lydar leaves Quaeryt with very little time to heal or mourn. In spite of his incredible success, Quaeryt knows that he must race back to report to Bhayar, now ruler of almost all of Lydar.

As in the previous four books, Quaeryt spends a great deal of time interacting with recalcitrant High Holders. These men enjoyed great power under the previous ruler... Read More

Bared Blade: Light fast-paced adventure

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Bared Blade by Kelly McCullough

Bared Blade is the second book in the FALLEN BLADE series. Kelly McCullough continues the story of Aral Kingslayer, survivor of the destruction of the Goddess Namara turned petty thief and spy.

Aral is still struggling with the revelation that other members of his cult survived the fall of his goddess. His experiences in Broken Blade have started to give him an inkling that there may be more to look forward to than alcoholic oblivion. The relationship between Aral and his familiar/partner Triss has been an interesting twist on typical sword and sorcery tropes.

When a couple of oddly matched women are suddenly attacked in front of Aral, he chooses to get involved. The women have powers and skills far beyond the ordinary, which changes everything immediately. As further evidence of Aral’s re-orientation away fro... Read More

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