American Gods by Neil Gaiman

 Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. (Book description from Goodreads).

I want to begin by saying that this is not a review.  There is nothing that I can add to what has been said by others who can articulate their thoughts much better than I.  I  do feel though that this is the best book Gaiman has ever written.  (While I think it is the best that he has ever written my favorite will always be Stardust.  I have a love for fairy tales, but that is a post for another time.)

Great quotes

You are the nearest thing I have to life. You are the only thing I have left, the only thing that isn’t bleak and flat and gray. I could be blindfolded and dropped into the deepest ocean and I would know where to find you. I could be buried a hundred miles underground and I would know where you are.”

On religion (page 397)

Religions are, by definition, metaphors, after all: God is a dream, a hope, a woman, an ironist, a father, a city, a house of many rooms, a watchmaker who left his prize chronometer in the desert, someone who loves you – even, perhaps, against all evidence a celestial being whose only interest is to make sure your football team, army, business, or marriage thrives, prospers, and triumphs over all opposition.”
“Religions are places to stand and look and act, vantage points from which to view this world.”

Gaiman’s books always leave me with a feeling of melancholy, as if, for a brief moment the veil has been lifted and I see the inner workings of the world around.  I am forever changed.  I love this feeling.

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Impasse by Royce Scott Buckingham

Book Synopsis

A man is left to die in Alaska while on an “adventure vacation” and must somehow survive to get his revenge on those who betrayed him.

Forty and facing a mid-life crisis, Stu Stark has lost his mojo. He simply gave up after being fired from his prestigious job as a prosecuting attorney for losing the biggest case of his career. So when Stu’s best friend gifts him a one-week trip into the Alaskan wilderness to rediscover his manhood, Stu thinks it just might do him some good. But after a horrible week, Stu is crushed when he realizes that no one is coming back for him. Dying, Stu is found by a grizzled old hunter who informs that winter has set in, and they’re not going anywhere for a while.

So begins Stu’s training to become the man he never was…and to get revenge on those who betrayed him. This adult debut by the internationally bestselling YA author is a modern day take on The Count of Monte Cristo.

My Thoughts

Impasse by Royce Scott Buckingham is a fast paced and enjoyable, modern day version of The Count of Monte Cristo. Though it does lack the long term planning that went into Count of Monte Cristo (Impasse took place over the course of six months), it was still an exciting read. It makes me wonder how soft I have become sitting behind a desk all day and wonder what would happen if I was forced to survive in the wilderness with nothing.

I love a good revenge tale and the only real negative thing I have to say was how quickly (and neatly) things came together in the end. I would have enjoyed reading another 50 pages or so about what happened in the aftermath. That being said, I really enjoyed this book.

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Old Man’s War by John Scalzi


With his wife dead and buried, and life nearly over at 75, John Perry takes the only logical course of action left: he joins the army. Now better known as the Colonial Defense Force (CDF), Perry’s service-of-choice has extended its reach into interstellar space to pave the way for human colonization of other planets while fending off marauding aliens. The CDF has a trick up its sleeve that makes enlistment especially enticing for seniors: the promise of restoring their youth. After bonding with a group of fellow recruits who dub their clique the Old Farts, Perry finds himself in a new body crafted from his original DNA and upgraded for battle, including a brain-implanted computer. But all too quickly the Old Farts are separated, and Perry must fight for his life on various alien-infested battlegrounds. 

My Thoughts

Wow…..just, WOW. I am not much of a science fiction reader, not because I do not like it, but because my TBR pile (affectionately know as Mt. Readmore) is full of fantasy books. But this book, this book rocked my socks off. I would call this “hard” science fiction, “hard” in the sense that there is lots of science and technology, no “mystical force” or “hokey religions” (to quote Han Solo), there are very techie explanations for every thing that occurs. The story, the characters, the plot, I loved them all. I will definitely to adding this series to my reading list.

And the title, very, very appropriate. Well done, Mr. Scalzi, well done indeed.

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The Companions by R.A. Salvatore

Book Synopsis

This latest installment in New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore’s beloved fantasy saga, The Companions moves Salvatore’s signature hero Drizzt into a new era of the Forgotten Realms. As Drizzt’s fate hangs in the balance, he reflects on the lives of the trusted allies who stood by his side throughout his early life–the friends now known as the Companions of the Hall. Meanwhile, the first stirrings of the Sundering begin.


My Thoughts

The Companions by R.A. Salvatore is the first in the six book Sundering series, a realms sweeping event that will once again change the face of Toril.

I have been a longtime fan of R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt series, following each and every adventure since the beginning.  Never once have I felt that the story dragged or had outlived itself.   Readers of The Last Threshold were left with a cliff hanger.  What would happen to Drizzt?  Had the series finally reached its end?  Had the mighty Drizzt finally reached the end of his adventures?  All of these questions ran through my head after finishing The Last Threshold.

I want to begin by saying that, in my opinion, The Companions represents Bob’s best work to date.  The book is filled with such heart rending emotion from both the characters and Drizzt’s signature introspection (which happen to be my favorite part of the Drizzt series). If you look back at my previous reviews you see that I mention emotion quite a bit.  This is an important factor for me.  I like books that make me feel what the character feels.  If I can cry when a character cries, feel his or her fury in battle, or laugh along with them, then I have experienced a great book.   Salvatore gave me this experience with The Companions more so than any other book he has written.

What would you do if you could live your life over again?  What things would you change?  What if you had a goal to work toward?  Something that could mean the life or death of a dear friend? All of these questions are asked and answered in The Companions and the journey to the end (or should I say a new beginning) was very entertaining.

I received a ARC through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp

Book Synopsis

On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.

For Syndulla and Isval, it’s the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet’s surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries.

My Thoughts

Paul S. Kemp is one of my favorite authors, his ability to draw me into a story is unparalleled. As the title and cover state, this book is about the Lords of the Sith, Palpatine and Vader.

I tend to romanticize Vader a bit in the sense that he is a fallen hero destined for redemption and the one to bring balance to the force, but Kemp reminds us that that person is not here yet and regardless of our knowledge of Anakin/Vader’s destiny, he is a villain. Actually, he is more than just a villain, he is a monster.

There is a scene at the beginning of the book that send shills up my spine.  Vader is chasing a group of rebels but instead of engaging them in ship to ship combat he wants to get up close and personal.  I won’t give away any spoilers, but he gains access to the rebels’ ship and takes a comlink.  All that can be heard is the sound of his respirator, and then he says, “I’m coming for you now.” <goosebumps>  But if Vader is a monster then Palpatine is something all together worse. We get a peek at just how powerful the Emperor is. So much so, that is makes his battle with Yoda in Revenge of the Sith look like a simple sparring match.

I enjoyed every minute of this book and I hope we see more Vader/Palpatine stories by Paul. He has captured their collective voices perfectly.

Lords of the Sith will be available on April 28, 2015.

I received an eARC from the publisher through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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The Three by Sarah Lotz


Book Synopsis 

Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right?

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed ‘The Three’ by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children’s behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival…



My Thoughts

The Three by Sarah Lotz was a very enjoyable read. The premise was interesting, four planes simultaneously crash in different corners of the world and the only survivors are three children. I enjoyed the multiple viewpoints and mediums that were used to tell the story. Part news reports, part interviews, and part personal narrative, all woven together in a tale that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. Quite possibly the creepiest part of the book was the description of the Aokigahara Forest, Japan’s infamous suicide forest. I still shudder when I think of it.

It took me longer than normal to finish this book because I kept going back and rereading certain sections. The Three is a wonderful example of how media reports can skew the actual events.

Were the events supernatural, extra-terrestrial, or a sign of the End Times? As I read I came up with several different theories, but I was very satisfied (and more than a little creeped out) with the ending. I certainly will not be traveling by plane anytime soon.

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Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne


Book Synopsis

The Galactic Civil War rages on after the destruction of the Death Star and Luke Skywalker struggles to learn more about the Force without the aid of Obi-Wan Kenobi – or indeed without any aid at all. But the few memories he has of Obi-Wan’s instruction point the way to a stronger control of the Force, and he is encouraged to pursue it by a new friend in the Alliance. When Luke, R2-D2 and his new ally are tasked with liberating a valuable asset from the Empire and delivering her to a safe planet where she can aid the Alliance, their journey across the galaxy is fraught with peril – and opportunities for Luke to discover the mysteries of the Force.

Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne , the author of the popular Iron Druid series, is the third book in the Empire and Rebellion series.

I have read well over 100 books in the Star Wars Expanded Universe and I still get chills of excitement whenever I read “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…..”.  I love the stories of the iconic Star Wars characters while they were still young and finding their place.  I especially like ones about Luke Skywalker.  Luke, son of the infamous Darth Vader, founder of the new Jedi Order, and probably the most powerful force user in the galaxy.  How does he go from unsure farmboy to Jedi master?  How does he learn to master the force when everyone that could have taught him the ways of the force are gone?  Heir to the Jedi gives us some insight into that.

I had originally given this a book a 3 out of 5 but I went back and watched Star Wars A New Hope and bumped it up to a 4 because, for me,  this book does have that “Star Wars feel”, that newness and excitement that I got from watching A New Hope for the first time. Yes, there are several few laughable, eye-rolling moments in the book, but for readers of Hearne’s Iron Druid series, this is one of his strong suits.  I also liked the first person view from Luke’s perspective.

Heir to the Jedi was a fast paced, hyperspace ride through the galaxy with a young Luke Skywalker coming to gripes with the loss of loved ones, and becoming part of something bigger to make a galaxy a better place.  This Star Wars fan loved it.

I received an electronic review copy from the publisher through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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