Book Review – ShockWaves

ShockWavesShockWaves by Suzanna Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ShockWaves by Suzanna Williams is about Jack and Paige, two teenaged orphans who are linked telepathically. They can see what the other sees and feel what they feel through what they call shockwaves. The story picks up when Paige is kidnapped and Jack tries to save her. The action is well written and kept me turning the page.

Yet, the story is not without its flaws. No explanation is given as to why these complete strangers were mentally linked. I expected to read that they were twins separated at birth, or that they were together when a laboratory blew up and spewed a chemical cocktail into the air. But there was nothing.

There is a telepathic police officer in the story, but he wears glasses to block his special powers. You could remove his telepathy from his character and not change the story at all. Yes, he mentally tells Jack how to find a room he’s looking for, but Jack would have found it on his own.

The antagonist is a real nut job, but his reason for abducting Paige is flimsy. If he only wanted to vex the telepathic policeman, any girl would do. And yet he went out of his way to trap and keep Paige as if obsessed with her. I expected the policeman to dream of Paige when he took off his glasses at night, perhaps feeling her plight, but no such connection was made.

Despite its flaws, I enjoyed ShockWaves and recommend it to teen and pre-teen readers.

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Book Review – Vanished

Vanished (Freaky Jules #1)Vanished by Tom Upton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vanished by Tom Upton is about a snarky, angst-ridden teenager with powers. This girl can do it all. She can talk to the dead, read your mind, move things with her thoughts. If she touches you, she can see your past. I thought it was convenient and a little unfair that she could do everything. But there you have it.

Vanished is a fun read for teens and pre-teens.

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Book Review – Warbound

Warbound (Grimnoir Chronicles, #3)Warbound by Larry Correia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Warbound, book three of the Grimnoir series by Larry Correia, is an alternate reality story that takes place in 1933. It’s about magic — the haves and have-nots — and a space monster that is about to destroy the world.

In Warbound, everyone thinks Faye is dead, so she nips off overseas to learn more about why her magic is different from everyone else’s. In her absence, Jake and the rest of the Grimnoir crew enact a desperate plan to prove that the magical space alien is real and about to murder every human on the planet.

Warbound had me laughing, crying, and biting my nails. I love this series and highly recommend it.

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Book Review – Spellbound

Spellbound (Grimnoir Chronicles, #2)Spellbound by Larry Correia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Spellbound, book two of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia, is an alternate history story that takes place around 1930. It is an age when part of the population has magic, such as the ability to teleport, to turn gravity on its head, or to start a fire with a thought, but the majority of the population does not, leading to distrust and prejudice.

In Spellbound, my favorite character, Faye, returns home to face the demons of her childhood and finds a literal demon who is out to kill her. The demon/villain was chilling, and the climactic battle had me on the edge of my seat.

Spellbound is funny and engrossing. It goes directly to my favorite books shelf. I know I’ll return to it whenever I need a pick-me-up.

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Book Review – Hard Magic

Hard Magic (Grimnoir Chronicles, #1)Hard Magic by Larry Correia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hard Magic by Larry Correia takes place in an alternate dimension Earth circa 1930 in which a portion of the population can perform varying degrees of magic. Many of the events from our history books occur in this dimension albeit influenced by magic, and it’s fun to anticipate the deviations. In addition, there are cameos by famous people of the time, such as Herbert Hoover, who does not have magic, and Babe Ruth, who does. The story touches on themes of prejudice and redemption, but mostly it’s a rip-roaring race against a space alien who wants to eat all the magic and destroy Earth.

But the best part of the book is the characters. Jake, Lance, Delilah–they’re all funny and heartrendingly believable. But my favorite character, indeed my all-time favorite of any book I’ve ever read, is Sally Faye Vierra. Pure genius. Literally. Yet she is as humble and insecure as anyone could be.

I cannot recommend Hard Magic highly enough, and I’m sure once you read it you will become a fan as well.

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Book Review – Terms of Enlistment

Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines #1)Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Terms of Enlistment by Marco Kloos depicts a future Earth of overpopulation, poverty, and violence. The story follows Andrew, a young man who hopes to escape his dismal existence by joining the military and leaving the planet.

I was in the mood for a nice book with lots of space battles. This wasn’t it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad book. But the first half takes place on terra firma. There’s a nice action scene at a riot in Detroit, however, it left some questions unanswered. The protagonist wondered why the opponent was so well-equipped, and I also wanted to know. How did starving ghetto dwellers get their hands on top-of-the-line military-grade weapons and ammunition? Why do they have skilled sharpshooters? Why did they spring a trap against the military at all? It seems the answers to these questions would be part of the plot, but since they went unanswered, the Detroit scene had little purpose in the book. Perhaps future books in the series address the issue.

Finally, he gets to go to space and fight the aliens. These are slow-witted giants who don’t wear clothes. They don’t even have shoes on their three-toed feet regardless of the terrain. They don’t have weapons–they throw rocks. I honestly thought that these were the livestock left behind by an intelligent race while terraforming the planets. They must be intelligent. They are spacefaring. Their ships are indestructible. They can terraform an entire planet in a matter of weeks. So, who are these lumbering dinosaurs that the military battles? Again, the questions go unanswered.

Terms of Enlistment is not a terrible book, but I can’t in good conscience recommend it. I did finish it, which is more than I can say about a lot of books.

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Book Review – Tiamat’s Wrath

Tiamat's Wrath (The Expanse, #8)Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Tiamat’s Wrath, book eight of The Expanse series, the crew of the Rocinante are scattered across the galaxy, each on their own secret mission. Holden’s mission is to promote discord and dissension within the Laconian Empire. Amos wants to rescue the Cap and blow stuff up. Bobbie and Alex are playing havoc in their stolen Laconian warship, trying to destroy morale as well as military targets. And Naomi is working to have the rebellion infiltrate key positions within the empire itself. But Elvi is on a different type of mission–she is scouring the galaxy for clues as to what killed the protomolecule race before they kill the human race as well.

Tiamat’s Wrath has two main plotlines–the underground rebellion against a dictatorship and the incursion of murderous trans-dimensional monsters. The story is written in alternating viewpoints with no lack of action and suspense. I recommend Tiamat’s Wrath to science fiction fans as well as to fans of the television series, The Expanse, and I look forward to seeing it come alive on the show.

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Book Review – Persepolis Rising

Persepolis Rising (The Expanse, #7)Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It is a time of peace, prosperity, and expansion. The ring gates have opened the way to 1300 new colonies. The Belters have settled into a position of traffic control on Medina Station. But the gates work both ways. Unbeatable warships from a technologically advanced military state cruise through to take over Sol system and its colonies. As Earth falls before it, the outer planets capitulate. On Medina Station, the crew of the Rocinante put together a ragtag underground rebellion in a last-ditch effort to overthrow the godlike dictatorship.

It sounds like a good book. It isn’t.

Persepolis Rising is page after page, chapter after chapter of planning, what to do next, then changing their minds and planning something else. Then when the time comes to actually do something, to implement all their plans, the story shifts perspective to the Laconian overseer who itemizes that this, this, and this happened and he had a really bad day.

I would have liked to have seen Naomi back-engineer the mechanical suits and have them fail their soldiers. I would have liked to have seen Amos rescue the prisoners, or the rebels storm the docks and steal all the ships to blast off for parts unknown. But the authors decided to simply allude to these events rather than actually write them. And the worst part was, the crew didn’t even win. The best they could do was run away.

I don’t recommend that anyone read Persepolis Rising. Only one thing happens that you need to know to finish the series. xx Spoiler Alert xx Holden is captured by the Laconians. There. Now you don’t have to read the book.

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Book Review – Babylon’s Ashes

Babylon's Ashes (The Expanse, #6)Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you enjoy space battles, this is the book for you. The war between the skinnies and the squats has been brewing for decades and finally comes to a head in Babylon’s Ashes, Book Six of The Expanse series.

The Free Navy, made up of militant Belters, has a real shot at taking over the solar system and stopping the expansion to other worlds. Their cause was understandable. It was interesting to see how guerilla tactics play out in space. It was interesting to watch the founding freedom fighter of the Free Navy descend to megalomania. And it was gratifying to see Holden and the crew of the Rocinante outwit him in the exciting finale.

Babylon’s Ashes is good science fiction and a worthy addition to the series. I look forward to seeing how well the book translates to television on The Expanse.

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Book Review – Nemesis Games

Nemesis Games (The Expanse, #5)Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nemesis Games is the continued adventures of the Rocinante crew from the television show, The Expanse. In Nemesis Games, the crew takes separate vacations while the ship is in for repairs. Flipping back and forth between four stories should have made for a fast-paced tale. But it wasn’t well executed.

Alex’s part of the story had him go to Mars to clear the air with his ex-wife. On the way there, he spends a lot of time bemoaning his guilt and regrets. But when he finally gets to her, he tells her he wants to talk, she says no, he says okay, and he walks away. The scene goes nowhere. His need to speak with his wife is just a vehicle to get him to Mars. Later, he decides to look up Bobbie Draper while he’s there, and the story picks up. He should have planned to see her in the first place.

Amos’ side of things has him going to Earth because the woman who helped raise him has died. He spends a lot of time gnashing his teeth and vowing that if she was murdered, he would go on a vengeance spree. But when he gets there, her bereaved husband says no, her heart simply gave out in her sleep. Amos says okay and walks away. Again, the scene goes nowhere. It’s just a vehicle to get him on Earth. He later looks up Clarissa Mao, who is in prison, and the story picks up from there. The woman’s death could be cut from the book and not change anything in the story.

Naomi’s story has a legitimate beginning. But then she is kidnapped, and there is no logical reason behind the kidnapping. All we get is vague conjecture on her part.

Holden stays behind to babysit the ailing Rocinante, and while exciting things happen to him, two of those things have nothing to do with the story at hand. I can only assume they will be revisited in future books.

There is a lot of telling in this book. For instance, two people will start a conversation, and the narrator will break in to summarize the rest of the conversation instead of letting them continue talking. Also, there are more typos than in the previous books in the series. Fed instead of Fred. The instead of they. That sort of thing. I know typos are a minor thing, but they yanked me out of the story every time.

I was disappointed with Nemesis Games. However, I’m still glad I read it. I intend to continue reading the series, and at least this way I’ll know what’s going on.

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