PG's Books

Computer engineer/software developer, movie (especially Sci-Fi) fantast, audio/video equipment and gadget geek, book reader and photo amateur.

Command Decisions

Command Decisions - Terry Mixon It seems like I cannot let go of this series until I have read all the books published. Command Decisions is book three of The Empire of Bones Saga and continues the adventures of Jared, Kelsey & Co. It is, naturally, in the same style as the other books which means it is a simple, fast paced and enjoyable space opera adventure.

Commander Jared and Princess Kelsey continue their effort towards getting back home at the same time as they try to disrupt the enemies efforts. As with the other books new discoveries are made and there are of course more fighting going on.

However, their successes are severely hampered with the arrival of Captain Breckenridge. I have to say that Captain Breckenridge dragged down the book somewhat for me. He is so absolutely over the top that it becomes just ridiculous. His stupidity, egoism, bigoted worldview and utter lack of any competence or redeeming qualities whatsoever makes him not only ludicrous and annoying but also utterly unrealistic. I'm sure this person would really not be able to tie his own shoes let alone command anything, not even a garbage transport. There is no way in hell this person could have been given command of anything in a more realistic setting despite his powerful connections.

Naturally Captain Breckenridge not only disobeys lawful orders from the Princess, refuses to follow the agreed on plan but manages to utterly screw up, in a way that is almost laughable, at the worst possible moment causing the loss of the overall target objective as well as thousands of his own crew's lives. Fortunately his incompetence manages to screw him up himself after having screwed up everything else. Unfortunately it now falls on our heroes to save his bacon if for nothing else than to put him in front of a court marshal.

Having said that the book was still a quite enjoyable read and it was really sad that the author went so over the top in the portrayal of Captain Breckenridge.

Veil of Shadows (Book 2 of The Empire of Bones Saga)

Veil of Shadows (Book 2 of The Empire of Bones Saga) - Terry Mixon This is another fun read in The Empire of Bones Saga. It continues in the same style straight from where the previous book left off. The first book created a nice set up for the story to continue from and this one goes full speed ahead from there.

The story develops as Princess Kelsey struggles to adapt to the implants that was forced onto her. I think Kelsey has become my favorite character in the series with Commander Mertz coming in as close second. Kelsey is quick with her mouth, sharp and, after having received the implants, she is truly a “kick ass chick”.

The book is an enjoyable mix between adventure, discovery and action as in kicking the butts of the bad guys. It is fairly fast paced but not too fast. As with the previous book it is perhaps somewhat light reading but I found it to be a quite fun read nonetheless.

Each time Jared & Co think they have a handle on the situation a new surprise pops up around the corner. Sometimes it is a good one and sometimes it is a bad one. In either case it leads to more adventure for our friends. They themselves makes some new interesting friends as well as some new enemies. One thing I like with these books (small spoiler ahead) is that the bad guys generally receive the clobbering they deserve. Maybe not at once in the same book as they are introduced in but sooner or later their judgment day is coming (yes I am lagging behind with the reviews and I am already a few books ahead).

I was about to write that I am looking forward to the next book but that is rather meaningless since I already bought as well as read it.

Urban Shaman

Urban Shaman - C.E. Murphy This is a fairly light read somewhere just above the middle of the pack for Urban Fantasy but it is a fairly entertaining read nevertheless. Enough entertaining for me to want to have a go at the second book in the series although I cannot really say that I am in a rush to do so.

I like the general story but then I always like stories were the main character suddenly becomes aware that there are things that go bump in the night and they are one of these things.

The main character is likable. A bit obnoxious and somewhat stupid at times but quick with her mouth, on the home team and do not hesitate to fight when it is needed. Her taxi driver friend is very likable to the extent that he almost steels the spotlight at times. Even her police station boss becomes, almost, likable towards the end of the book.

The story is quite okay as well as the world building even though it sometimes goes into la la land and becomes a bit difficult to follow. I have to agree with some of the other reviewers that the car analogy used felt somewhat silly. On the other hand the author takes a decent enough amount of time to gradually introduce Joanne’s new powers and the book has quite a few “surprise” moments. That is surprise for the other characters when Joanne’s powers allows her to perform unbelievable feats. I quite like that.

Naturally the book leads up to a big showdown with the bad guy(s) and I have to say that here certain things went a tad too fast. Joanne got a grip on her powers and performed the most remarkable feats after only having acquired her powers a few days ago. Felt a bit too much to me.

Anyway, on the whole I was entertained by this book and, as I wrote above, I will probably have a go at the second one in the series as well.

Empire of Bones

Empire of Bones - Terry Mixon This book is not exactly a literary masterpiece but it is a quite fun and entertaining little space opera novel nevertheless. It is a fairly straight forward adventure story with the usual elements, a fallen empire, surviving factions trying to rebuild, monarchs and emperors rule, heroes are heroes and bad guys are bad guys. Naturally a lot action and a little bit of romance is thrown in.

The book starts of in the space of one of these surviving factions that have rebuilt a small empire in the model of the old fallen one. They are in the process of exploring further into the fallen empire’s space and this is the story about the adventures the men and women undertaking that exploration.

Naturally the exploration fleet pretty soon encounters some quite interesting things to explore and, when doing so, to none of the readers surprise, the unexpected happens and they find themselves in quite of a pickle. Luckily the commander, which his superior and clueless fleet officers looks down on of course, is more than capable of handling himself and his fleet. So, it turns out, is the Princess. The state of not talking to each other does not last very long.

Our heroes finds both friends and foes and the foes are of a particularly nasty nature. The fighting is of course fierce and it is only by superior skill and quite a bit of interesting discoveries that the good side overcomes their troubles.

The characters are simple but classical hero and bad guy material and I personally find them quite likable. Sure it is a bit of a sci-fi action/adventure TV-show style over them, as well as over the entire story, but what the heck. I quite liked them.. Once the story starts to roll it is not that difficult to figure out where it is going to go. As I wrote it is not very deep or complex. The heroes invents strategies, sucks up and uses unknown technology and generally overcomes any trouble thrown in their way with incredible ease. Having said that the story is a good foundation for some good old adventure and action.

After reading this first book in the series I felt it was good enough so that I had a go at the second book and now I am already reading the third. If you are looking for deep characters, complex stories and hard core sci-fi go elsewhere. If you are looking for a simple to read and fun sci-fi adventure story in the good old fashioned way this book might be for you.

The Sergeant's Apprentice

The Sergeant's Apprentice - Christopher G. Nuttall This is another great book in the Schooled in Magic series of books. Emily is back in her own time in the Allied Lands yet for most of the book it is another change of scenery for Emily. As the book blurb states the Nameless World goes to war and, of course, Emily is on the front lines. I rarely give a 10 out of 10 star rating and it is almost unheard of that I give it to two books in the same series straight after one another but, although I think I liked Paste Tense just a tad better, this book definitely deserves a 10 out of 10 rating.

Emily and Sergeant Miles travels to a free city on the edge of the Allied Lands where the necromancer has chosen to attack. Unfortunately for Emily she not only has to fight the necromancer and his horde of Orcs and twisted humans but also the usual political bickering and stupidity among the aristocrats, old traditions and a traitor amidst their ranks. It always surprises me how many people are willing to put their greed and their own twisted desires ahead of the well being and even existence of their own society…in books as well as in real life.

The book is, as usual, well written with great characters, a good plot with lots of suspension as well as plenty of action. Although the main cause of Emily’s, and the Allied Lands’, predicament is the necromancer, they take quite a beating from the treacherous acts of the traitor in their midst. Luckily he gets what he deserves in the end, or rather a few chapters before the end. The end? Well the book more or less ends with a spectacular showdown between Emily, some of her friends, and the necromancer (or should I say the necromancers, you have to read the book to see what I mean).

This was a great read for me and I could put the book down only with great difficulty. I can hardly wait to see where Emily’s adventures leads us next.

Star Legion (Book 1)

Star Legion (Book 1) - William C. Seigler I had high hopes for this book since I quite liked the story idea as outlined in the book blurb. The book was indeed quite good…some of the time. Unfortunately, on the whole, the implementation is somewhat lacking making the book a bit uneven and dragging it down from being a good book to an enjoyable but mediocre one.

The book starts off by introducing the two main characters as they live on Earth before being dragged into the mysterious world of the human legion. It starts quite well with good, interesting and fairly well constructed characters.

The entire first part of the book which gradually moves towards the revealing of what the “separatist humans” actually are (and then some) is actually very good. After that it goes a bit downhill, at least as far as I am concerned. Once the truth is revealed, well some of it at least, the author kind of looses grip on the story and it becomes less and less believable and more and more filled with annoying bits and parts.

For instance the fact that a group of people that are scientifically advanced way ahead of the rest of the humans cannot figure out by themselves that they should put cameras and sensors on their ships and send logs back to intelligence when encountering hostile elements. Or being trained to use new weapons and technologies in a few short sessions lasting a day or two maximum and then flying out to utterly make mincemeat of the enemy. Or what about a tank with a 120mm Gatling gun. What the f…? Did the author bother to think about how large a 120mm slug is? A M1A2 tank holds 42 shells of 120mm ammunition. Even if we assume that the ammunition in the future did not need a large gunpowder cartridge you would still only be able to carry ammunition for less than a second worth of fire with a Gatling type gun unless said Gatling was incredibly slow or you towed half a warehouse full of ammunition behind you. There are plenty of examples like that.

The book also felt somewhat jumpy and inconsistent. Sometimes the next chapter would jump to another part of the story without a smooth or natural passover leaving a feeling that the previous part of the story was not really concluded. The authors insistence on sometimes using the name Smith and sometimes the name Denver for the same character was also quite annoying.

Luckily the main characters are quite well done as well as likable. I definitely liked fast mouthed Argentina de la Fuentes. Not surprisingly there is a bit of romance going on between them as well although their interactions are a bit reluctant at first. As I wrote the story idea is a good one. It could have been made into a far better book though. Having said that I still enjoyed it and might just pick up the second book if the author writes one.


Escalation - Ryk Brown Escalation is the first book in The Frontiers Saga: Rouge Castes which is part 2 of the initial The Frontiers Saga, a 15 books series that started with Aurora: CV-01. I was a enjoying that series greatly up to the final book which ended in a way that did not sit well with me at all. It was therefore with some hesitation that I picked up this book, the first one, in part 2 of the saga. I am happy that I did since I did indeed like this book. It sets the stage for another interesting adventure in The Frontiers Saga universe.

This book starts 7 years from the end of the last book. As I wrote above it is the first one in part 2 of the saga so naturally it is a bit of a stage setter starting off somewhat slowly introducing the characters building the plot up and so on. Nevertheless it is good reading and it does not really take that long before the action starts. When it starts it starts with a bang. Worlds are falling before the renewed and upgraded Jung war machine. The only question is, will Earth be among the fallen...again? Well if you hope to get the answer in this book you are, not surprisingly, going to get disappointed.

It is a good book with an interesting new story arc that takes off from the old one. New characters are introduced (some perhaps not as new as you might think but you will have to read the book to get the answer to that comment) and old ones are brought back into play. Something that I at least felt was welcome. Seven years has passed since we last met our friends so a few interesting things has happened to them during that time.

There are some twists and surprises along the way including a pretty big one at the very end of the book which certainly did not see coming. There are some political bickering and general stupidity, as always when politicians are involved, going on back on Earth as well but luckily this do not take up too many pages of the book.

Bottom line is that this is an enjoyable book and a promising start of part 2 of The Frontiers Saga.

Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade)

Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade) - Jennifer Estep I quite liked this third book in the trilogy and the ending of the story arc started in Cold Burn of Magic. There is plenty of action and adventure going on. The book starts with a big fight seemingly spelling the doom for the Sinclair family but Victor Draconi did not factor Lila and her friends into the equation. Minor spolier alert! One thing I like with this book is that the baddies actually get what they deserve and not a simple quick kill either but a nice showdown where we get to see, or rather read about, his surprise just before the end. I know, I know... I am sucker for happy endings.

The book does not have very many plot twists. A few mishaps are thrown in the way of Lila but generally it is a pretty straightforward adventure leading us to the, not entirely unpredictable, conclusion of the trilogy's overall story arc. As I wrote there is plenty of action and adventure as well as a wee bit of romance. The book pretty much follows the same style as the other two books in the series.

The writing is good in the usual Jennifer Estep style. Although the plot felt a bit more straight lined in this book it was certainly good enough. I quite liked the world building in all three books and the magical and monster filled world that the author have created. It has to be said though that most of the monsters were rather friendly creatures, at least if you paid them their tribute. Something the bad guys were been known not to do of course.

Overall the Black Blade trilogy was an enjoyable and relaxing read bringing me back to the adventure stories I used to read or watch when I was younger. A quite pleasant experience.

Cold Burn of Magic

Cold Burn of Magic - Jennifer Estep I would classify this book as a young adult category book. Having said that it perhaps a bit less young adult than some of the young adult books that I have read. Jennifer Estep has created a new and enjoyable universe where monsters, magiks and mundanes live together. She brings in elements of mob families a' la maffia families into the mix and throws the young but talented thief Lila into the mix. Jennifer has also created some new and interesting magic powers.

All Lila wants to do is to live her life as a thief alone but, not surprisingly, she is soon thrown into the murky waters of family intrigue and, also not very surprising, things start to heat up and Lila quickly gets her hands full defending herself as well as the man she is, somewhat forcibly, hired to protect.

I liked the world building as well as the characters which are well done in the usual Jennifer Estep way. Lila is a good main character, independent, talented, knows how to fight and has a sharp tongue.

The story itself is good with a few twists in it and the main bud guy, at least in the long run, is a thoroughly dislikable character. Although the story is somewhat young adult it is fairly rich, the plot holds together and it is not as silly as in some young adult book. There are a bit of romance (or should I say romances) but it is not overdone and kept on a reasonable level such that it does not intrude on the main story or becomes a boring filler element.

I liked the book. It is a fun read and I will surely pick up the next book in the series.

We Lead

We Lead - Christopher G. Nuttall, Justin Adams Another good, solid read in the military science fiction genre from Christopher Nuttall. As the book blurb states humanity finally gets an edge over the enemy…or do they? It is an experimental device and a one shot one at that, and the enemies technical superiority when it comes to missiles is still there. This is a book with fierce battles as well as sacrifices.

The book starts off with a bit of stage setting and preparations for the big offensive. As usual there are some political battles to fight as well. Once the mission takes off the action begins. Even with the initial jump without a tramline the humans have some heavy fighting to do before they are in a position to strike at the heart of their enemies.

Along the line they get a few more insights into the enemy they are facing. That includes their FTL communications. Not that the latter made a huge impact on the outcome though. It is pretty much one slug feast after another. As usual the combat scenes are well done and they are glued together with a fairly solid story as well as good characters and interaction between them during the lulls in the fighting.

One thing that I was a bit unhappy about was the fact that the enemy managed to shoot up Vanguard quite badly just in about every engagement and then she popped back with fresh repairs in time for the next battle. Reminded me a bit of Star Trek Voyager. It was constantly mentioned in the book how advanced her armor was and that it was so many times better than Ark Royal herself. Personally I would have liked Vanguard to be a bit more sturdy since she and her crew is the core of the story arc after all.

Once the dust clears it is time to count the causalities and, sadly, there are indeed some of the names we have learned to know that certainly will not be carried over to any future books in the series should Mr. Nuttall decide to write any. Personally I hope the series will continue since it has provided me with many hours of enjoyable reading so far. These books are well written with the usual good story, good characters and good battles, whether they are on the ground or in space, as we have come to expect from Mr. Nuttall.

HMS Nightingale

HMS Nightingale - J.A. Sutherland The books in the Alexis Carew series are somewhat bizarre as Science Fiction goes. They are a mixture of modern science and throwbacks to the days of such characters as Horatio Hornblower. The ships travel faster than light and yet they have sails which are manually raised and taken down by the crew, gun ports that open and manually loaded guns etc…

Once I had started to get over the anachronisms and bizarre mix of old and new I took quite a liking to Alexis Carew and this book series. Unfortunately I have to say that this book felt like the weakest in the series.

The book is as well written as any of the other books in the series. Alexis is the main character of course but the story drags along without really taking off. There are really never any great moments. Alexis goes about her business there are a few skirmishes, the usual “you are just a woman” stuff but it never really leads anywhere. The war is just sitting there in the background but Alexis is never part of it.

A lot of time is also spent back on her home world with her family and Alexis is also having personal problems as well as a drinking problem. I felt that was rather boring to be honest. She never really gets a change of shining as the strong person and hero overcoming any problem thrown in her way as she was in the previous books. Then we have the ending which to me was rather depressing.

It was an enjoyable book but not as much as the other three books in the series as far as I am concerned.

Reconnaissance in Force

Reconnaissance in Force - Terry Mixon Reconnaissance in Force is the continuation of Paying The Price but in a way it also starts a new story arc in The Empire of Bones Saga universe. In the last book our heroes finally came back home and even though they encountered a few issues that they had to solve with their usual application of sneakiness, technology and good old fashioned stuff that goes boom it felt like it kind of finished a first story arc. Once the dust settles we move over to this book where a new adventure starts.

As the book blurb states Jared and Kelsey departs on a new mission deep into enemy space. Before that however there are a few minor things that has to be dealt with. Such as a couple of weddings, finding some interesting old artifacts from the old empire including a “key” of some importance, breaking in a new XO of Invincible and a few other things.

All of this leads up to the mission that brings our heroes back behind the enemy lines again and it looks like, again, they will stay there for some time. At least some of them.

Not surprisingly the book is similar to the other books in the saga in that it has simple but functional story tying together the preparations, the interactions, the discoveries and the action. As before I liked the characters a lot with the exception of the ones that were supposed to be dickwads. I am quite interested to see where the author takes the story next.

Ghosts of Empire (Book 4 of The Empire of Bones Saga)

Ghosts of Empire (Book 4 of The Empire of Bones Saga) - Terry Mixon Here we go for another entertaining episode of The Empire of Bones saga. After the clusterfuck by the unbelievably incompetent Captain Breckenridge it is up to our friends to clean up the mess. This of course leads them into yet another adventure on yet another world of the former Terran Empire.

The story this time revolves around the objective of getting their people back from Harrison’s World. Harrison’s World is occupied by former Terran Empire inhabitants where most of them believe they are still part of the empire and are not aware that they are actually slaves of the AIs. To complicate things the people of Harrison’s World has already made one attempt to overthrow the AIs and been severely punished for it.

The resistance movement remains however and naturally they see this moment as an opportunity. Unfortunately they believe that Jared and Kelsey are part of the AI’s version of the Terran Empire so it is up to our heroes to convince them otherwise.

As an additional incentive Harrison’s world is home for the Grant Research Facility, one of the most advanced military research facilities in the old Terran Empire. For Jared and Kelsey to get their hands on it would be a big bonus.

All these elements makes for the usual entertaining ride through a lot of action, suspense, adventure, good characters and nasty villains. The book is nicely written although, after having read four of these books, I have to say that the author could do with an editor. The dialogue is quite fun at times and the adventure plays out nicely. As usual our heroes gains some additional knowledge and technology on the way, as well as new friends.

Some of the adventure takes the form of political power play between those faithful to the AI “lords” and the supporters of the resistance movement. I quite liked the resistance movement representative. Her opponent is evil all the way and somewhat of a stereotype of a political bad guy but thankfully not as ludicrously stupid as Captain Breckenridge.

All in all this book contains the same kind of enjoyable, although not overly deep and complex, adventure plot that we have seen in the previous books. I found it a good reed.

The Belial Guard

The Belial Guard - R.D. Brady This book started well enough. Not great but okay. But sadly it sent downhill from there. As usual Laney is pursuing her combat against the evil forces but in this book a lot of time is spent on Laney hiding from dumbass media jerks. The more the book progresses the more said dumbasses takes over the story and att towards the end the story deteriorates when the unbelievable assholes in various governments seems to take previously mentioned dumbass media and what they, falsely, claim as the truth of the day. What the f…?

The book does have an underlying story apart from the media circus but it gets overshadowed by these despicable journalists, a lot of brooding and sulking from the main characters and a ridiculous sentiment of not using the best means at their disposal, in particular the computer wiz kid, because they want to protect the children.

Laney saves the day, and quite possibly the world, as usual but receives little gratitude. Quite to the contrary some unusually dense governments seems to base their actions on unfounded gossip and insinuations from ludicrous TV-shows who any half intelligent person would now are unreliable at best and are only concerned about the viewer ratings.

The last straw was when letal force was, apparently, authorized against Laney based entirely on previously mentioned totally baseless insinuations. This is not only ludicrous but totally unbelievable and pretty much ruined the book for me.

This was probably the worst book in the series as far as I am concerned. It has a story worthy of a B-class movie or TV-show.

Unraveled (Elemental Assassin Book 15)

Unraveled (Elemental Assassin Book 15) - Jennifer Estep This is a great book in the series for several reasons. The writing, characters and action is generally good in the usual Jennifer Estep way. However the author makes a welcome change of scenery which gives the book a certain freshness and the usual all powerful elemental bad guy has now been replaced by a mysterious and shadowy organisation, The Circle.

Gin takes a vacation with her friends. Well if you believe that then you are not as smart as you think. Gin believed it…for about five seconds. Naturally the vacation turns into something else and Gin will have to make good use of her elemental powers and her knifes.

The fact that Gin leaves Ashland for a quaint tourist attraction in the form of an old western team park injected a bit of much needed freshness in the book. The change of scenery is quote welcome and adds quite a bit to the enjoyment of the book.

The other change is the introduction of The Circle. Actually that happened already at the end of the previous book. The previous books in this series tended to become a bit stale as it felt like it was the same thing over and over again with Mab just being replaced by a new and more powerful elemental bad guy. The Circle is different. It is a mysterious and shadowy organisation with long reaching tentacles. It is also clear that Gin’s mother had a part in it. It is now a whole new game than just running down the next bad guy that pops up.

Gin has not changed of course. She is still the sharp tongued assassin that we have come to love and her friends and the bantering between them are ever present. The introduction of the grumpy old dwarf made for some fun reading. The book is the usual sneaking around looking for clues, taking down the bad guys in various subtle and less subtle ways. There are a few twists of course and then the usual grand finale and showdown between Gin, her friends and the despicable bad guys.

One thing that annoyed me a little is that Gin has blasted some of most powerful elementals off the planet and now she seems to have difficulties taking on a second rate elemental who’s only advantage is that she learned to infuse her weaponry with her elemental powers. Sure Gin had just taken out more than a dozen of said bad elemental’s cronies but still. It felt like she had much more elemental power in previous books.

Still, this was a great book. Not simply more of the same but a new fresh story arc has begun with this book and the ending of the previous one. I am looking forward to the next one.

Fear God and Dread Naught

Fear God and Dread Naught - Christopher G. Nuttall, Justin Adams This is a good solid military science fiction read. It is the 8th instalment in the Ark Royal series and a worthy one. As usual there is a good story, likable (and not so likable) characters and some good solid action in space and on the ground. It was a very enjoyable book to read.

I was a bit worried when I read the book blurb about the commanding officer, Susan Orinara, being accused of mutiny, dereliction of duty and a bunch of other bullshit. Luckily that was rather quickly dealt with so we could dive straight into the meat of the story.

There is a new mysterious and enigmatic enemy around that shots first and does not bother to talk afterwards. If you want to be naughty one could say that there are a lot of similarities between the story of the first Ark Royal books and this one but there is enough differences to avoid it being a simple rehash of the first books.

There are really two heroins in this book. Naturally one of them is Susan Orinara. The other one is Georgina Fitzwilliam, the first midshipman, and the book alternates between the two giving them more or less half the book each. Unfortunately Georgina’s fellow midshipmen are mostly a bunch of assholes and Georgina quickly runs into problems maintaining order and discipline.

That leads me to a part of the book where I am a bit doubtful whether I liked it or not. On one hand she is discouraged from asking for help from her superiors because it reflects badly on herself and her career. On the other hand she is supposed to bring problems to the attention of her superiors. Naturally this pushes her into a bad situation which does indeed threaten her career. This felt a lot like double messages and like the she was set up to take the blame if something went bad, which it of course did, no matter what she did.

On the other hand I liked the conflict between the aliens and the humans and the ensuing battles, especially in space, a lot. The human fleet is generally outnumbered and/or outgunned. Especially with the long range of the enemies missiles and it takes quite a lot of tactical maneuvering and skill to simply survive the onslaught.

The book is, not surprisingly, well written, with good characters, a good story with a few twists in it, especially one at the end which I certainly did not see coming, and plenty of combat action. We also get to learn a little bit about the mysterious aliens although some revelations actually adds to the mystery of why the aliens went to war in the first place.

As I wrote, a very enjoyable read which I had a hard time to put down once I started reading.

Currently reading

Alien Games by Elizabeth Mackey, T. Lee Harris