Monday Book Picks 2014


My Monday book picks from the Blog

1/13/14
The Forever Engine by Frank Chadwick
Crunchy Steampunk goodness from one of the founders of the genre. Yes, it's that Frank Chadwick, creater of the Space:1889 RPG. Those of you, like me, will find a good deal familar with tale of adventure and Mad Science. Including Liftwood, stout hearted British Marines, and a five barrel Nordenfelt!

1/27/14
The Sword of Exodus by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari
The sequel to Dead Six. Valentine and Lorenso are in even deeper shit than they were before. Plenty of action and raw meat for the firearm enthusists.

2/17/14
Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD: Empyre by Will Murry
Will Murray is well known to pulp fans for his new Doc Savage novels. This book is about Marvel's Nick Fury, Director of Shield. It was published back in 2000, and features the "old school" Nick Fury. The one who lead the "Howling Commandos" back in WWII. This is before someone decided that Sam Jackson would make a Bad Ass Nick Fury (which he did/does). In this adventure, Nick Fury has brought back the psychic division (called "Special Powers" in this iteration), and just in time too. The Special Powers group plays a major role in solving the latest evil plot from Hydra to cause death and destruction around the world. The afterword to the book says that Will Murry is a practicing psychic and has used all the of the techniques the SHIELD Special Powers group uses, including remote viewing. For you skeptics, consider this. This book was published in 2000. Spoiler alert here: It has a Middle Eastern base group (a fragment of Hydra and a thinly disguised Saddam Hussein) using commercial airliners to attack major cities by crashing the airliner into the target city. OK, Tom Clancy also used that one his books back before 9/11/2011. Still, the point had to be made. Either way, this is old school Marvel adventure with a flying SHIELD Humvee taking out Iraqi (of course they use another name, but it's not hard to figure out) MIGs and Nick Fury at his cigar chomping best.

3/17/14
Big Boys Don't Cry by Tom Kratman
Tom Kratman writes a Bolo Novella. OK, they aren't called "Bolos", but Parthas. They are just huge, tank like, war machines with an AI core, that are pretty damn smart by the time they reach revs in the late thirties. Let's just say that in this morality play, the Partha's human masters do things to them that no Bolo (or Partha) should have to live through. I know a few things about the military, military history, and training. Subjects that Kratman is an expert on, and all three play a part in this story. An interesting read, with a happier ending than you would expect.

4/21/14
The Given Sacrifice by S.M. Stirling
Once again, S.M. Stirling proves himself to be the current master of the epic trilogy. Set in his Emberverse, he wraps up another historic period of his alternate universe where Powers have denied technology beyond gunpowder. Don't worry, there will be more epic trilogies set in the Change series. It's just time for the next generation.

4/28/14
Hard Magic by Larry Correia
Larry Coreia makes the book pick again. This time with the first book in his hard-boiled noir series complete with more than a bit of magic thrown in. It's the 1930's and magic has been around for about a hundred years. It started with just a few people, but it's been growing pretty steady, so by the time this story takes place it's pretty mainstream. Magic takes different forms in different people. Some can move objects with their mind, others can heal people, others can change the effect (more or less) the effect of gravity, others can teleport, and so on. Then there are the Cogs. They are just really, really smart in specific areas. Einstein was a Cog, as was Count Von Zeppelin, and John Moses Browning. Larry Correia is a former firearms instructor, so of course John Moses Browning in the book, and he is a hero. I enjoyed this book a lot. Good characters, both good guys and bad guys, and those who are really a bit of both. An interesting setting, and lots of action. I'm glad there are two sequels to this already in print.

5/5/14
Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia
Larry Coreia makes the book pick again. This is the first book in his first series. He had self-published this book, after getting turned down by multiple publishers, and it was selling pretty well. Then Baen contacted him and Correia followed up his first hit with string of others, including three more Monster Hunter books and two other series with five books between them. In this book we meet Owen Z. Pitt, who has a soul sucking accounting job in Dallas that only gets worse, when his already bad boss gets bitten by a werewolf and attacks Pitt on the next full moon. It is close, but Pitt manages to kill his boss and get threatened by some Feds who tell him to keep his mouth shut or they will put a bullet in his head. Enter Monster Hunter International. A private company that hunts monsters and collects the federal bounty on them. Yes, Pitt finds his true calling. Hunting monsters. Zombies, werewolves, Vampires, and all that stuff. Stir in some Lovecraftian horror and an old Jewish monster hunter spirit guide and you have one fun read! It has monsters. It has romance. It has detailed and accurate firearm discriptions. Fun for the whole family!

5/19/14
A New American Space Plan by Travis Taylor, Ringleader of the Rocket City Rednecks
NASA rocket scientist and self identified redneck, Travis Taylor, has a plan for getting America back into space.
Which is something America really needs right now, for many reason which Doctor Taylor lists in this book.  Here is one that he wrote about, and has come to pass.  The US currently has no method of getting Astronauts to the Space Station and back.   Our current President put the budget for the Orion program on life support.  I guess that is G.W. Bush's fault, since the program started when he was President, so Barry felt he had to kill it.  His solution was to outsource American jobs to Russia.  In case you haven't been paying attention, the US government pays Russia to get US Astronauts to the Space Station and back.  Now the Russian are saying Nyet to that.   It's a good thing that the private sector is stepping up, but this is a problem we didn't need to have.
Unlike this post, Travis Taylor's book is mostly upbeat and positive.   It should also be read in American high school science classes.

6/16/14
The Daybreakers by Louis L'Amour
Louis L'Amour was one of best known masters of the American western. The Daybreakers shows him at the top of his game. Part of his Sackett series, this tells the tale of how Orrin and Tyrel came out of the mountains and made their way west. One of my favorites from the series.

7/14/14
Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny
The first book in the Amber series. Two sets of five books, plus a fist full of short stories and an amazing amount of fan fiction. It starts with a common theme for the author. The protagonist has to discover who he is, and why he is in a bunch of trouble. In this case he just isn't a very long lived mercenary who wakes up in a private 'sanatorium', where the staff tries to keep him heavily sedated. Nope, nothing that simple. It gets weirder from there damn quick and stays there! Zelazny has the delightful talent of taking the line between fantasy and Science Fiction and using it to play jump rope. For Carl Corey is really Prince Corwin of Amber. The Kingdom at the center of all the varied realities. Toss in some wonderfully detailed sword fights (Zelazny was a fencer and an Aikido instructor), massive battles, treachery, and that special blend of wry Zelazny humor, and you will be be looking for the next book in the series straight off.

7/21/14
Sunset of the Gods by Steve White
Jason Thanou is back (26 Aug 2013 Book Pick) and things are getting even weirder in his trips to the past. He finds out that there are worse things than finding that the anicent Greek Gods were aliens mucking with human development. At least they were slowing dying out. One a mission to observe, from a lot closer viewpoint than he planned, the battle of Marathon, things go pear shaped right quick when he runs into Pan!

7/28/14
Not A Good Day to Die by Sean Naylor
This is the story of Operation Anaconda. The book covers it from its first planning stages in January 2002, through its conclusion in early March 2002. Up to this point, the war in Afghanistan had been conducted mainly by US Special Forces troops working with various Afghanistan groups and calling in US air assets. Anaconda was the first operation to involve large scale use of regular US forces. In this case elements of the 10th Mountain Division and the 101st Airborne Division. The first third of the book covers the planning and the background of the key players. This is fairly dry, but interesting and informative on why and how the fog of war effected the operation. Intelligence said that there were 200-250 Al Qaeda fighters in the intended AO.  The plan was for Afghan forces, with Special Forces 'advisers' to confront the enemy, with 'escape routes'  to be blocked by Afghan forces and elements of the 10th Mountain and 101st Airborne.  The motto, 'no plan survives contact with the enemy' is often referenced in various forms in this book.  There were a lot more than 250 AQ fighters, estimates put it at 800 or more.  They opened up the US forces almost immediately after they got out their helicopters with small arms, heavy machine guns, mortars, and in some cases artillery.   The US forces responded with much more accurate fire and air strikes.  Lots and lots of air strikes.  From the CIA's armed Predator drones to B-52s dropping JDAM bombs. The most effective though were the Apache helicopters, which got close enough to see the enemy and pour firepower right were it was needed.  The fighting continued much longer than expected, in areas were it wasn't expected, from a well dug in, and well supplied enemy force.  Many of which got too see Allah personally.  A well written book about a major operation that dispelled the common notion in early 2002, that the war in Afghanistan was almost over.

8/24/14
Black List by Brad Thor
A modern techno-thriller about shadowy government agencies fighting one another. One agency is trying to take out another so they can hatch their plan to take over the Internet and generally reduce the level of freedom in America to pretty much zero. The plan doesn't work when they try to take out Scot Harvath (the hero of the series, of which this is book 11). After much killing, computer hacking, and other spy craft stuff, the good guys win (not much of spoiler there, I'm betting Mr. Thor is working on number 12). A good, entertaining read, and with more reality thrown in than is comfortable to think about.

9/15/14
Kildar by John Ringo
The sequel to John Ringo's military thriller Ghost, which also won an award as a romance novel. At the end of the first novel, our (anti) hero has been touring Eastern Europe and sampling its pleasures. Kildar starts with him lost in a snow storm in Georgia (the country, not the state). A series of events result in him buying a farm, complete with a manor house and tenant farmers. The "tenant farmers" turn out to be the descendants of a long lost band of famous warriors. This book tells how Ghost, now known as "The Kildar", trains up a company of commandos (with plenty of expensive help), and breaks them in by killing a lot of bad guys trying to sneak into their valley in order to kill, pillage, rape, etc. It also tells how the Kildar just happens to obtain an harem of teenage girls, and is forced into hiring an older (26), and incredibly beautiful harem manager. So Ringo is continuing the themes that won the previous novel that romance award. Additional books in the series pick up the pace, with more killing of bad guys, and rescuing of young women, some of which just happen to be submissive enough to warm the cold, hard heart of a Dom like the Kildar.

10/13/14
SpellBound by Larry Correia
Larry Coreia makes the book pick again. This time with the second book in his hard-boiled noir series complete with more than a bit of magic thrown in. It's the 1930's and magic has been around for about a hundred years. It started with just a few people, but it's been growing pretty steady, so by the time this story takes place it's pretty mainstream. Things pick up where the last book left off. The good guys have managed to defeat what they thought was their greatest enemy, but they were mistaken. Not about killing the bad guy, just about him being their greatest enemy. The hard part is convincing even their allies about the oncoming evil. Before they can face that evil, they have to deal with a plot to register and round up all the magically active people in America. Hitler was put in front of a firing squad early in this reality, but there are still "good progressives" that want to put people in camps and eliminate the trouble makers. Lots of action. new bad guys, plot twists, and did I mention lots of action. Oh, and remember, don't get on Faye's bad side.

10/20/14
A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny
A classic by the late Grandmaster. It is set in the month of October, which each day being a chapter. The story is told by Snuff, a watchdog, who like his companion Jack, is the owner of several Curses. One of Jack's involves a large knife. Whenever there is a full moon on October 31, a group of people and their animal companions gather together and work toward a ritual on the night of the 31st. They are trying to either open or keep closed, a gateway for the Elder Gods (think Lovecraft). So far, the Closers have always won. Up until the end, it's hard to tell who is an Opener and who is a closer, or even who is in the game. Others who are in the area with Snuff and Jack include: a vampire called "The Count" and his bat; a mad Russian monk and his snake, Crazy Jill and her black cat, the Great Dective and his sidekick; and Larry Talbot and his furry alter ego. Zelezny had a lot of fun with this book. If you can pick up a copy with the Gahn Wilson illustrations, you are in for a bonus treat.

11/24/14
The Many Deaths of Joe Buckley by Assorted Baen Authors & Barflies
This is raw meat for Baen fans. The complete collection of all the ways Baen authors have killed long time Barfly Joe Buckley.

12/8/14
Pirates of the Timestream by Steve White
Jason Thanou is back (26 Aug 2013 Book Pick) for round three. This time is it in the golden age of Pirates. His team links up with Captain Henry Morgan while they battle it out with time traveling Transhumanists! Even worse, he has to deal the uncaring bureaucracy of his own government.


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