Tag Archives: NetGalley

Book Review of “Steel and Song”

“Steel and Song” was published in 2014 and was written by Ani Bolton (http://www.anibolton.com). This is her second novel and the first in “The Aileron Chronicles” series. The eBook is available on Amazon.

I obtained this novel for free in advance through https://www.netgalley.com for review. This story is a Young Adult / Fantasy / Alternate History / Steampunk tale told in the third person. Due to Mature Language, Mature Situations and Violence, I categorize the book as ‘R’. The novel is set in Russia, but in a different Russia than we know. In this story the Cossacks, rulers of Russia, are at war with the Franks. The primary characters are Tova Vanaskya and Piers Nikolayevich.

Tova is a young peasant girl living in rural Russia. She, as many of her fellow gytrash, have magical skills. In Tova’s case she is an Air Witch with an ability to control the wind. Because of her young age and ability to use her power to navigate a coal barge, she has escaped being drafted into the Cossack’s army. Her luck finally runs out though and she is torn from her mother and younger sister as a conscript.

Piers is a Cossack and is the last young male of the House of Rus, one of the seven Houses. He commands an aileron, a military air ship, and repeatedly throws his ship into battle. He has tallied many kills, but he is never satisfied with his successes, fighting internal demons on every flight. He lost his Air Witch on his last mission and goes looking for a replacement. By the time he makes his way to the replacement depot, all that is left is Tova, which he takes as better than nothing.

Tova displays high skills for someone untrained flying the Aileron. She makes friends with other of the conscripts and finds that there are some ready to revolt against the Cossack’s oppression. She makes friends with the other Aileron crew members, and impresses them and Piers with her ability. There is also a growing attraction between Tova and Piers but as a Cossack, his social position is far above hers.

I enjoyed the five hours I spent reading this novel. There is a touch of romance along with the action Tova and Piers face against the Franks. I thought the characters were well developed, and I liked the story. Over all I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “The Travel Writer”

“The Travel Writer” was published in 2014 (June) and is the first novel by Jeff Soloway. This is a mystery novel set primarily in contemporary La Paz, Bolivia, and at the luxury resort The Hotel Matamoros located just a few hours outside of La Paz. The eBook is available on Amazon.

I obtained this novel for free in advance through https://www.netgalley.com for review. The story is told first person from the standpoint of travel writer Jacob Smalls. He has been enjoying himself on complementary hotel visits for some years, and making just enough actual money to get by.

An old girlfriend, Pilar Rojas, contacts him to help investigate the high profile disappearance of travel editor Hilary Pearson from the Hotel Matamoros. Pilar works PR for the hotel and is able to get him a free visit, ostensibly to write about the hotel. He is really going so that he can help her find Hilary, or at lest find out what happened to her. Not only does Jacob want to do this in the hopes of getting back together with Pilar, but Hilary was the editor that gave him his start.

Before leaving New York for Bolivia, Jacob visits Hilary’s family and her place of employment. He runs into Kenny Rawls, who worked with Hilary and has a crush on her. When Jacob heads to Bolivia, Kenny is on the same plane. He has taken off from work to go search for Hilary. Jacob takes Kenny under his wing as Kenny is clueless of Bolivian customs or Spanish.

Together they poke around La Paz for a couple of days looking for clues. They make contact with Pilar and she seems to have information, but puts off revealing much until later. Jacob and Kenny run into some dangerous men associated with the growing political party Condepa. The intrigue, mystery and danger just gets deeper once Jacob and Kenny finally arrive at the Hotel Matamoros.

The writing was good enough, and the pace of the story keeps the reader moving right along. I liked the basic plot of the story, but the way it was developed seemed shallow and simplistic. Both Jacob and Kenny were totally inept investigators, doing things that anyone with common sense would avoid. There were implications as to who was behind things and why, but the details were never entirely clear.

Over all I give this novel a 3 out of 5.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Maxwell Street Blues”

“Maxwell Street Blues” was published in 2014 (August) and is the first of the “Jules Landau Mystery” series. It was written by Marc Krulewitch and it is his first novel. The eBook is available on Amazon.

I obtained this novel for free through https://www.netgalley.com for review. This story is told first person by Private Investigator Jules Landau, and is set in contemporary Chicago, IL. Jules’ estranged, ex-con father Bernie comes to him to let him know that Jules’ long time friend Charles “Snooky” Snook has been murdered, and hires him to investigate. This is Jules’ first murder investigation, but he is motivated to take it on as Snooky was like a brother to him.

Falling back on eight years of experience as a PI, and many contacts with the criminal elements of Chicago that go back for generations in his family, Jules digs into the case. Along the way he runs into the police detective Jimmy Kdigero that had put his father in prison years before as well as an Internal Affairs Detective Voss that is trying to get something on Jimmy.

Snooky was well known to the criminal element of Chicago. He was an accountant and handled the money of many of those criminals, generally finding a way to “launder” it. Jules discovers that a few of Snooky’s clients were involved in some sort of kick-back operation associated with real-estate development on Maxwell Street.

jules finds that there are several people with wealth and or reputations at stake, and both of the cops he encountered are far from being sqeaky clean. He is threatened and assaulted more than once as he pursues the murderer.

The pace of the story is good, never leaving the reader bogged down. It is also well written and the plot was reasonable. That being said, I only give it a 3.5 out of 5. There were loose ends that were never addressed, and some of the characters were poorly developed.

I didn’t particularly like the main character Jules. He also seemed an inept PI for someone who had been in the business for over eight years. Some situations where he should have had more of an emotional response were simply shrugged off. I am unlikely to read any more novels in this series.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Two Hundred and Twenty-One baker Streets”

“Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets” is an anthology of Sherlock Holmes short stories compiled by David Thomas Moore. It was published in 2014 (October) and it consists of 14 short stories with very different versions of Holmes and Watson. This book is available on Amazon.

I obtained this novel for free through https://www.netgalley.com for review. I must first say that I am not a fan of short stories. I find that they are simply too short!

In this case I did find the collection interesting. Most of the stores I was sad to see end so quickly. I have read all of the original Holmes stores written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I found these to be complimentary of those original works. I give this a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “World of Fire”

“World of Fire” was published in 2014 (August) and was written by James Lovegrove (http://www.jameslovegrove.com/). Mr. Lovegrove has published over 25 novels and many short stories. This book is available on Amazon.

I obtained this novel for free through https://www.netgalley.com for review. This is a Science Fiction novel and I would rate this novel as ‘R’ due to Mature Language and Violence. The story was told first person and is set in a distant future where mankind has spread to distant stars. As they have spread they encountered the Polis+, an AI based race who are humankind’s rivals. A bloody war was fought with the Polis+ and after a particularly costly battle to both sides an uneasy truce was declared. While there is no longer open warfare, along the border with Polis+ space there is constant tension.

The main character of the story is Dev Harmer, an ex-soldier who currently is a troubleshooter for Interstellar Security Solutions (ISS). ISS provides contract services to worlds that have problems, particularly problems that seem to stem from Polis+ activities. He is sent to Alighieri, a planet with an extremely hot surface, at the request of the local government. The planet is very near Polis+ space and is principally a mining colony for helium-3. The underground colony is being threatened by a series of earthquakes. Dev is there to find out what is causing the tremors.

Dev’s investigation leads him across the planet. Dev is not the most likeable character and he quickly rubs many of the Alighieri inhabitants the wrong way. There is a lot of action and intrigue as Dev seeks out the cause of the tremors.

I enjoyed the eight hours I spent reading this first novel of the Dev Harmer series, though I have to say that I did not particularly like the Dev character. His constant wise crack humor irritated me. Other than that the story was interesting. The characters were well developed and the story line was not what I expected. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com)

Book Review of “Yesterday’s Kin”

“Yesterday’s Kin” was published in 2014 (September) and was written by Nancy Kress (http://www.sff.net/people/nankress/). Ms. Kress is a Nebula and Hugo award winner, and has published more than 25 novels as well as many novellas and short stories. The book is available on Amazon.

I obtained this novel for free through https://www.netgalley.com for review. This novel is written in the third person and is set mostly in New York, New York at sometime in the near future. I would rate this novel as PG only because of some violence that occurs. The primary character is Marianne Jenner Phd. She is an evolutionary biologist at a small university in New York. Other principal characters are he children Ryan an environmental biologist, Elizabeth a federal border patrol officer and Noah her youngest with drifting interests.

Aliens, the Deneb, have made contact with Earth, and have set up an “Embassy” in New York harbor. They seemingly have come in peace, but have said very little. After four months of little communications, they suddenly request a handful of humans to visit the Embassy. The group is made up of the UN secretary General, the Russian and Chinese representatives to the UN, and most unexpectedly Marianne.

The aliens reveal that the Earth is facing a biological disaster from space in only 10 months. The Deneb have come to warn Earth and ask for Earth’s assistance. The Deneb have already lost outposts to the biological threat, and their home world will be facing the threat in only 25 years.

As Earth scientists begin to work with the Deneb at the Embassy, tension rises around the world. Marianne’s relationship with her children is strained, and surprising discoveries are made regarding the Deneb’s origin.

I enjoyed the four hours I spent reading this novel. It was well written and the characters had depth to them. I thought that this novel had a different twist on first alien contact and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

Other book reviews I have written can be found at https://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/blog/.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Out of this World”

“Out of this world” was published in 2014 (August) and was written by Maggie Morton. This is Ms. Morton’s fourth novel. The book is available on Amazon.

I obtained this novel for free through https://www.netgalley.com for review. This is an erotic fantasy novel. This story is told first person by principal character Iris. I would definitely categorize this book as ‘R’ due to Mature Language and Mature Situations.

Iris is devastated when her partner Jane suddenly leaves her. To get back on track she travels to Amsterdam on a solo vacation. She falls asleep in a cab from the airport, then wakes up in the middle of a field. She goes to explore a nearby building and falls through the floor of the building. Iris lands in the bed (literally) of beautiful Ananda.

Iris soon discovers she is no longer on Earth, but in a world with magic. Iris sets out with Ananda to find a way back home. Iris is attracted to Ananda and the two girls often share a steamy intimacy. Along the journey she develops deep feelings for Ananda. Iris is also caught up in a plot by the evil Queen Tressa to take over and discovers unexpected details of her family history.

If I exclude the many steamy sex scenes and just look at the fantasy story, it is pretty simple. I also felt like there was little depth to the two principal characters. I spent five hours reading this novel and have to say that I only feel that it is worth a 3 out of 5.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Patton’s Spaceship”

“Patton’s Spaceship” was published in 2014 and was written by John Barnes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Barnes_(author)). This is the first book in the Timeline Wars series. Mr. Barnes has published over 30 novels. This eBook is available on Amazon.

I obtained this novel for free through https://www.netgalley.com for review. This is a Science Fiction novel that includes time travel and alternate histories. The novel is written in the first person. Some of the novel is set in Pittsburgh, PA, but much of it is in other locations.

The main character is Mark Strang. Mark’s wife, mother and brother have been killed in a car bomb that was intended for his father. His father had been writing about the middle eastern terrorist group the Blade of the Most Merciful and they had responded with an attack. Mark drops out of college where he has almost finished his Phd in Art History and becomes a body guard after a second failed attack.

Years later Mark is approached by acadamecian Harry Skena for body guard services. It turns out that he has been delving into organized crime and found a link to Blade of the Most Merciful. They are now after him and he needs protection. As Mark tries to keep Harry alive, he encounters a group from a different time line – Athenians – who are at war with those who are behind Blade of the Most Merciful. Mark joins with them and takes on a mission in another timeline where he meets several historical figures who are on the loosing side of a World War II where the Nazis won.

I thoroughly enjoyed the nine hours I spent reading this novel. It was well written and I liked the characters. I also liked the different spin on time travel and alternate history it takes – several parallel universes each with a different time line. The book reminds me of stories by Harry Turtledove. I rate this novel a 5 out to 5.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “I Am the Mission”

“I Am the Mission” (also known as The Lost Mission) was published in 2014 and was written by Allen Zadoff (http://www.allenzadoff.com). This is the second book in the “Unknown Assassin” series. This is Mr. Zadoff’s seventh book. This eBook is available on Amazon.

I obtained this novel for free through https://www.netgalley.com for review. This is a Young Adult Thriller, and I would categorize it as R only because of some violence. The novel is written in the first person. The primary character is 16 year old Zack. Just after finishing the mission described in the first book “I am the Weapon”, Zack is sent in to investigate a man, Eugene Moore, who is recruiting and training teenagers in military skills. While the source of some controversy, the camp is similar to other summer camps for kids, though it focuses on military skills. The fear is that Moore may change focus from a training camp into a terrorist force.

Zack goes in under cover, but the situation changes and he is forced to exceed his mission mandate by not only attending a recruitment meeting, but going on to the camp, Camp Liberty. He looses touch with his contacts at The Program, so he is forced to make decisions on his own. Zack calls on the boy he friended in the previous book, Howard, for assistance. Zack makes friends with Moore’s son and daughter, Lee and Miranda, who are both youth leaders in the camp.

The doubts and questions that began to trouble Zack in the first novel continue in this story. He questions even more some of the things he has been told, and his trust of The Program is beginning to fade.

As the story unfolds there is intrigue, a little romance and action. The story moves along well, never letting the reader bog down. The story is a little far fetched (16 year old assassin), but it is well written, and I enjoyed it more than the first book. Overall I give this novel a 4 out of 5 for an entertaining 3.5 hours of reading.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “The Forever Man”

“The Forever Man” was published in 2014 (July) and is the third book written by author Pierre Ouellette. The eBook is available on Amazon.

I was given early access to the book for review through https://www.netgalley.com. This is a Science Fiction, post apocalypse novel set in near future Portland, OR. The writing was well paced, never letting the reader get bogged down.

The primary character in the story is Lane Anslow who is an aging contract police officer for Portland. His younger genius but bipolar brother Johnny contacts him asking for help, then disappears. Lane contacts Rachel Heinz, who is chief of staff to Harlan Green, and a girl friend of his brother’s. Something starts to spark between Lane and Rachel as they work together to find Johnny.

Harlan is the head of a growing political party and has a lot of power. Both Lane and Rachel begin to have doubts about him as they continue to investigate.

Thomas Zed is fabulously wealthy and 127 years old. He is deeply interested in life prolonging technologies, and Johnny was one of his chief scientists.

The deeper Lane digs into his brother’s disappearance, the more dangerous the obstacles he runs into. There is quite a bit of action and intrigue through out the story. There are some parts that verged on the far-fetched, but it is a SciFi thriller.

I enjoyed the story, giving it a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also posted on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).