Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan
Book Review / August 28, 2018

Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan My rating: 5 of 5 stars Modest underrated genius TLDR; Legends of the First Empire are magical pieces of art but accessible to everyone, created by an amazing author and you don’t want to miss out on any of his books if you even remotely consider reading fantasy. I rarely feel compelled to write a review and it’s actually the first time ever I feel an obligation to write one. Michael J. Sullivan is the creator of Hadrian and Royce, two unlikely heroes, put together by circumstance, fate or whatever you prefer. I enjoyed those novels greatly and can hardly wait for the next installment. They, both the characters and the books, are clever, entertaining and feature very unobtrusive yet important morals.Those novel have always hinted at what Michael might accomplish and what, to me, seems to rapidly become his magnum opus: The Legends of the First Empire Calling the books of the Legends a prequel would be unfair because even though their narration predates Hadrian and Royce by far, they shine on their own. In Legends, Michael narrates slowly and patiently (at first at least!) how humanity rose to power beyond the…

Operation Hail Storm by Brett Arquette
Advance Review Copy (ARC) , Book Review / January 12, 2018

Operation Hail Storm by Brett Arquette My rating: 1 of 5 stars I was given this ebook for free by the author. In short: An eccentric rich guy called Hail kills a North Korean bad guy, the US administration notices, sends Hail on a mission to break stuff and sends a female “supermodel” CIA agent, Kara, with him. The story is lousy and the entire book has tons of useless techno babble in it that should simply have been scrapped. One of the main characters puts it very nicely: “That meant nothing to Kara. But she did understand that the ship’s big gun was being loaded and brought online. How it worked, she didn’t care.” Neither do we, especially not after having been treated to pages after pages about steering drones, activating weapons, etc. The protagonist, Hail, is a highly annoying character: Hail is sexist…“It was so damn difficult to register this face, this body, this female package with a hardcore CIA agent.”“It was just so damn difficult to take this supermodel for real.” … a macho with nasty attitudes, seeing himself as “the executioner – an exterminator of vermin”, with a blatant disregard for people in general… “The lieutenant…

Rise by Jennifer Anne Davis

Rise by Jennifer Anne Davis My rating: 4 of 5 stars I received this book as part of the Early Reviewers program. As I’ve often received sub-par books, I was somewhat sceptical about this book as well. Turns out I was wrong, to some extent at least. While “Rise” does have quite a few deus-ex-machina moments (a certain rescue comes to mind), even some (more or less) glaring plot holes (what are the “apparitions” during a trial of our heroine, are some of them actually there, etc. etc.?) and some “why did she do *that* now?!” moments, this book was a real page-turner for me. I’ve lost a not-so-small number of hours of sleep over it, actually, which doesn’t happen all that often. In spite of the shortcomings I mentioned before, our heroine is likeable, smart (sometimes…) and obviously fairly powerful. Her primary adversary is written as a multi-faceted character (but still fairly shrouded in mystery at the end of the book) and due to that, a fairly interesting figure. As are several side-kicks of the heroine (yes, sorry, I’ve forgotten her name as neither her nor the book are ultimately *that* remarkable 🙂 ) who grow (despite formulaically at…

A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George
Book Review / December 17, 2015

A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George My rating: 1 of 5 stars Sodium azide? Just take it and be done with it, George. This book was so extraordinarily bad, I don’t even know where to start criticizing it. I’ve read all the Lynley novels and enjoyed them greatly until one of the protagonists was killed off. From then on, not only a life derailed but the entire series and its author. It looks like George would much prefer to become known for “serious” books instead of mysteries but doesn’t understand she simply doesn’t have it in herself to ever really succeed at that. Instead, she keeps writing horribly bad books that deserve no praise at all because they fail at being mysteries and serious social criticism both. Just calling it a Lynley novel doesn’t really make it one and this certainly was the last sham I’ve fallen victim of. View all my reviews

Into the Decay by Justin K. Arthur
Advance Review Copy (ARC) , Book Review / October 27, 2015

Into the Decay by Justin K. Arthur My rating: 4 of 5 stars This was yet another pleasant surprise from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. This is a classic example for not judging a book by its cover because – let’s be honest – the cover looks like a failed experiment. The book itself, though, is fairly enjoyable. In fact, the story telling, the writing and the overall style (which *is* somewhat rough at the edges) reminds me of an early Brandon Sanderson. The story was interesting and fairly well told.  View all my reviews

Silk by Chris Karlsen

Silk by Chris Karlsen My rating: 2 of 5 stars This is yet another win from Early Reviewers. Unfortunately, it’s a completely forgettable book. I’ve read “Silk” some time ago and waited to write this review for a while to see what I would actually remember and how I would feel about it. The story is pretty much standard murder mystery: Killer kills woman, police tries to find him with the limited means of the time, police catches murders. In between, there’s a bored guy from the landed gentry who tries to achieve eternal youth by acquiring an obscure potion, seduces every woman he meets and kills most of them because it turns him on. There’s the lonely cop with a funny name and his sidekick, their annoying boss and a bit of romance thrown in uninspiredly. The author tries to add a bit of philosophy (“Was he always like that or was it the potion? Everyone seems to have loved him! Must have been the potion” – “No, young padawan, he must have been a monster before because no elixir exists to turn someone into one.”) but fails at that as well. Honestly, find something else to read. This…

Leaving Montana by Thomas Whaley
Advance Review Copy (ARC) , Book Review / September 7, 2014

Leaving Montana by Thomas Whaley My rating: 4 of 5 stars This was yet another surprisingly good book from early reviewers. As usual, I won’t bother with a summary especially since the description is already pretty good. The story is basically narrated on two different levels in time which are slowly being merged into the current day. Especially in the beginning, this is done masterfully and effortlessly. It’s getting slightly harder to understand towards the end of the book when the time frames are getting nearer to each other but it’s still very well done. There are a few minor issues that make me subtract one star:  – There are several occurrences of the nowadays common mistake of using “[I] could care less” when it actually should be “[I] could *not* care less”, e. g. “He acted as if he could care less, but the fact was he did.” (Chapter 5) – A few times, when it should be “then” the author’s mistakenly using the comparative “than” instead. – Fairly regularly, there are instances of a missing comma. These minor issues, though, hardly ever really have an impact on the enjoyment of the book as a whole. It’s brilliantly written,…

Arctic Wargame by Ethan Jones

Arctic Wargame by Ethan Jones My rating: 2 of 5 stars This review may contain spoilers! Since I got this book in a give-away, I really hoped I’d like it. Alas, it was not to be. First of all, the plot is thin. Thinner than a sheet of ice on a puddle. Evil Danes (or rather: a single evil Dane, being blackmailed by clichée russians) attacking Canada with a bunch of common criminals. On the other side are some non-descript Canadians (our bland hero), some noble natives (one of them constantly drunk, corrupted by the evil white men!) and a compassionate American nurse which fight the evil criminal Danes. Oh, and there’s the hero’s love interest who happens to be around for no discernible reason – she adds nothing to the story, doesn’t seem to have any useful talents and is usually just being an accessory. I’m absolutely willing to suspend my disbelief; I might even have accepted the ridiculous notion of a small country like Denmark attacking Canada, an ally, if the storytelling hadn’t been so incredibly boring. The entire story is so unbelievably predictable that only a feeling of obligation towards the author made me finish it. The characters are…

The Normans: From Raiders to Kings by Lars Brownworth

The Normans: From Raiders to Kings by Lars Brownworth My rating: 4 of 5 stars I didn’t really know what to expect from this book. I thought the topic of the Normans was interesting but didn’t get my hopes up high since I had never heard of the author before, popular history books are usually not my taste and the cover was somewhat attention-seeking. I very quickly got drawn into the book deeply, though. Brownworth definitely succeeds in explaining the main Norman rulers and their feats. I was a bit worried about all the names and references but most of the time, a chapter or a few later, Brownworth picks up and expands on the subject he mentioned before and one gets an excellent overview. Sometimes, the chapters are a bit short and there would likely be more to say about the respective protagonist (e. g. Frederick II deserves more attention than he gets here, I think) but all in all, this book makes a very interesting read. I like how Brownworth isn’t shy to voice his own opinion about the respective protagonist at the end of almost every chapter – I don’t always agree with his assessment but I…

A Life Without Fear by Leo King
Book Review / January 10, 2014

A Life Without Fear by Leo King My rating: 2 of 5 stars This book is the sequel to The Bourbon Street Ripper by the same author, Leo King. If you’re interested in this book, you basically have to read the first book because this one starts right after it. You can read my review of the first book here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show… That said, this review must be split into two parts. Basically, “A Life Without Fear” is more of the same in a good way. It definitely improves upon the first book and I definitely enjoyed reading most of it – it’s another page turner. Unfortunately, the same criticisms apply here, too: Some scenes (more than in book 1) are overly gory. It’s not like that was necessary at all but Leo King obviously enjoys writing such scenes. I can live with that but I don’t exactly like that aspect. Furthermore, quite a bit of suspension of disbelief has to be applied – superhuman abilities, strange alliances but I don’t really have a problem with that. Personally, I smiled and decided to let me get carried away by the story. 🙂 There are still the voodoo elements and some hints…