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Review – The Pride of the Damned

The third and final book in Peter Grant’s Cochrane’s Company trilogy, The Pride of the Damned, is out.  If you enjoyed the first two books in the series, you’ll love the story’s climax:

The shadow war started as a simple contract to defend a system against asteroid thieves. The harder Andrew Cochrane and Hawkwood Security fought, the worse things became. Now they find themselves embroiled in an interstellar war with an entire mafia!

Worse yet, the proceedings are so profitable – not to mention bloody – that they’ve attracted the attention of some of the worst criminal organizations in the galaxy. If Hawkwood is to survive, it’ll need all the wits, cunning and ingenuity it can muster – and the unwavering courage and dedication of its people.

The galaxy’s not big enough for both sides. One or the other will go to the wall.

The universe is well and truly built and the characters are well developed by the time this book begins, so the story moves quickly to the events leading up to its finale.  The Pride of the Damned has a lot of space opera in it, with a touch of thriller and spy novel thrown in for flavor.

The author goes into good detail of how Cochrane continues to build his fleet and the family of friends and colleagues he’s put together.  The space battle scenes are well thought out and keep the reader turning the page.  The characters are believable and the way that Grant makes them move within the story is the mark of a master storyteller.

This is not a juvenile by any means, but I’d be comfortable suggesting this series to anyone who enjoys a carefully laid out arc that travels quite nicely across three books.  If you’re looking for something to binge read during the dog days of summer, Cochrane’s Company is it.

The Stones of Silence – Sets up the story and introduces us to most of the characters

An Airless Storm – Develops the characters and pits Cochrane and his crew against an intractable foe

The Pride of the Damned – Brings everything together to a thrilling conclusion.

Review – Shattered Under Midnight

Dorothy Grant’s new novel, Shattered Under Midnight, mixes action with romance, and is not the kind of book you want to start reading while you’re trying to fall asleep.

Raina escaped to Freeport with a tour booked under a stolen ID, and a plan to lose herself in the city. Instead, she found a city in revolt, and now both sides are after her to control the alien gifts engineered into her DNA.

Her only ally is an offworld investigator trying to get to the bottom of the explosive mix of on-planet and alien politics… but his secrets are even deadlier than her own.

From the back alleys of the souk to the depths of alien ruins, they’re now in a desperate fight to stop the revolution before everything is lost!

The action in Shattered Under Midnight starts in the first paragraph and keeps coming until the very end.  Raina is a gifted young woman who is running away from oppression and worse.  She meets up with Akrep, a dangerous man who may or may not be one of the good guys, and together they have to fight to protect new friends and ancient artifacts.  The book has romance, ancient aliens, and gunfights, so there’s something for everyone.

The pacing in the story is pretty good.  Mrs. Grant does a good job of convincing the reader to keep turning the pages without making you feel like you’re sprinting through the book.  At the end of the story, I wanted to know more about both principle characters, so I hope that this isn’t the end of their story.  There’s definitely more to tell, both before and after this particular novel.

Raina develops quite quickly in the short time span of the story.  Like I said, there’s more of her story to tell, so I hope Mrs. Grant can flesh both her and Akrep out in future works.

This is a quick read, and the way it’s told is appropriate for teenagers to senior citizens.  I whizzed through it in just a few hours.  Shattered Under Midnight is a perfect, light story for when you just want to climb inside a book for an evening.

Review – Requiem for Medusa

Jason Anspach and Nick Cole have come out with a new novel based on the Tyrus Rechs character from their best-selling Galaxy’s Edge series:  Requiem for Medusa.

The scum hiding deep inside the Reach out along galaxy’s edge thought they could kill her and not pay the price. For years these hardened killers have run roughshod over the lawless worlds where Republic justice is never as fast as the blaster in your hand and where double-crosses and death are a part of every deal. They thought this time would be no different.

They were wrong.

This time, the Guild sent the legendary bounty hunter Tyrus Rechs.

As the infamous Rechs pursues the men who murdered his colleague, he’s hell-bent on justice, heedless of the trail of destruction he leaves across ruined worlds and fantastic gambling meccas alike. Because for Rechs, this isn’t just another Guild contract… it’s personal.

Requiem for Medusa begins a new series in the Galaxy’s Edge universe, which is titled “Tyrus Rechs:  Contracts and Terminations”.  Anspach and Cole use the story to flesh out the bounty-hunter that we first met in Book 2 of Galaxy’s Edge, and as I’ve come to expect from the authors, it’s a fun, fast read from cover to cover.

The plot revolves around Rechs’ quest to find, fix, and eliminate the folks who betrayed and murdered someone close to him.  The writing moves quickly through a world that we’ve come to know, so there isn’t much need to stop the action to build it.  The story does, however, slow down to explore Rechs as a man.  Anspach and Cole deftly switch between careful character development and faster-than-a-speeding-bullet action.

This blend of MilSF and Space Opera grabs you and pulls you over the edge with it.  We get to know Rechs, and several details from earlier novels are fleshed out as the story progresses. This is, of course, mixed in with a generous dollop of gunfire and explosions.

I’d suggest reading at least the first few Galaxy’s Edge books before trying this one out, because certain plot details definitely make more sense if you know the rest of the story.  That being said, Requiem for Medusa will take you out to the edge and keep hold of you until you get to the last sentence.

 

Review – Galaxy’s Edge, Part II

Question:  How much do I enjoy the Galaxy’s Edge series by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole?

Answer:  Enough to spend an Audible credit to listen to the audiobooks, read by R.C. Bray, after I’ve read all of them already.

Legion Dark Ops calls upon Chhun, Wraith, and the survivors of Victory Company to form an elite Kill Team of legionnaires in the aftermath of the Battle of Kublar. Their mission is clear: find and eliminate those responsible for the Kublar disaster.

Standing between them and their objective are a maze of corrupt Republic officials, a spy on the verge of losing himself in deep cover, and the Zhee – a murderous species that will stop at nothing. But the biggest threat of all might be the truth they seek to uncover – a truth that could ignite a revolution. And engulf the galaxy in flames.

Fleets collide in this audiobook in a moment-by-moment account of tactics, heroism, sacrifice, and the start of the final war of the Republic. The stakes have never been higher – and it’s winner takes all.

Galaxy’s Edge, Part II, includes the third and fourth books in the series, ‘Kill Team‘ and ‘Attack of Shadows‘.  The first half of the audiobook deals with the aftermath of the Battle of Kublar, as Chhun and his team are drawn into the shadowy world of Dark Ops.  They soon find themselves embroiled in a race against time to stop a devestating attack.  The second half brings us back to Goth Sullus and his forces as they begin their war against the Galactic Republic.

As always, Bray does an outstanding job in voicing and pacing. He brings the tension and urgency needed for Kill Team, but then works magic as he hops from one scene to the next in the frenetic battle sequences in Attack of Shadows.

This is an excellent book to listen to while you’re on your morning commute.  I found myself lingering in the truck for several minutes so that I could get to the end of a chapter.

If you’re a fan of military science fiction that moves at the speed of light, you’ll enjoy Galaxy’s Edge, Part II.

Review – An Airless Storm: Cochrane’s Company: Book Two

Peter Grant has debuted the second book in his ‘Cochran’s Company’ series, An Airless Storm.  The book picks up a few months after the end of the first book, and continues the story of Andrew Cochrane and his crew.

Andrew Cochrane and his mercenaries have warded off a deadly onslaught by asteroid thieves. Now they’re riding high, buying more ships and looking for more contracts.

However, the criminal Brotherhood isn’t about to accept defeat – not after Cochrane’s Company killed their Patriarch. They’re out to rebuild, rearm, and get revenge.

What started as a simple patrol job in a deserted binary star system explodes into a multi-planetary arms race, with survival on the line!

Airless Storm is a treat, especially for fans of space opera.  Grant does a good job of developing his characters and their stories, as well as introducing new folks to add to the mix.

The book is well plotted, and reads fast.  It’s not a thriller, but Grant has a talent for pulling you into a story and holding on for dear life.  I read it over several evenings and was always surprised by how much time had passed while I was wrapped up in the book.

I’m looking forward to see how this story continues in the next book, due out next month, and I hope you enjoy An Airless Storm as much as I have.

Movie Review – The Incredibles 2

For Father’s Day, Irish Woman and Boo took me out to see Incredibles 2, the long-awaited sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles.  The sequel literally picks up right where the first one ended, and it’s a roller coaster from beginning to end.

The whole gang from the first movie, including the voices of Samuel L. Jackson, Helen Hunt, and Craig T. Nelson, return for this installment.  Catherine Keener and Bob Odenkirk join the cast as brother and sister bazillionaires who want to help the supers regain their place in the sun.  As before, the development and voicing of the entire cast is excellent.  While the baby Jack-Jack stole the show, the most interesting character, to me, is Violet.  She spends the movie trying to figure out how to be a healthy teenage girl who happens to have superpowers, and goes to extremes in that quest.

We rewatched the original yesterday, and I am amazed at how well the animators and voice actors kept the same look, sound, and feel for both movies.  I was worried that after almost a decade and a half, the transition would have been rough, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Like I said, the plot moves quickly, and it’s easy to slip into it and stay there.  All three of us laughed, hard, at many points, and the places where there was action or tension were done with an expert touch.

The only quibble I had with the story is the shop-worn “Dad has to take over for Mom and he’s a mess” schtick, but it fit with the story and Mister Incredible figures it out eventually.  I guess I can’t blame Pixar for using a cliche if it’s done well.

If you’re a fan of the original, or if you have kids that can take a little action in their entertainment, Incredibles 2 is a great summer watch.  This one is definitely going to be added to our collection when it’s released on disk.

Book Review – The Gray Man – Twilight

Jim Curtis has returned to his Gray Man series, and Twilight is an excellent continuation to the story of a Texas lawman who’s a little more than he appears to  be. This is another excellent story about family and duty, told by a man who knows more about both subjects than just about anyone I know.

Never count an old man out, even when he’s hanging up his hat!

Deputy Sheriff John Cronin is looking forward to a quiet retirement, working on the ranch, and handing it off to his granddaughter Jesse. And he’s got to pass on a generation worth of investigations, but it’s not as easy as handing over the case files and the keys. First, he’s got to train Aaron Miller to fill his role, from the way to dress for rural juries to the finer points of stakeouts and murder investigations, Texas style.

Between the oil patch workers and the cartel’s drug runners, there are plenty of loose ends for him to tie off… or terminate…

Twilight tells the tale of how John Cronin tries to pass along his legacy to the next generation, but the world just won’t let him go.  Curtis continues to expand on the work of earlier books in the series, and the action keeps moving throughout this book.  With a wry sense of humor and an eye toward how real people interact in both good and bad times, he shows us how a warrior and peace officer hangs up his spurs.

Book Review – In the Shadow of the Cross

Lou Antonelli has gathered together a number of his short stories and published them as In the Shadow of the Cross.

Over a 15 year career devoted primarily to short science fiction, Lou Antonelli was unusual in that he accurately depicted the role of religion in people’s lives. In a nation and era when religion in general – and Christianity in particular – is being oppressed by the opinion leaders of America, Antonelli – who is a life-long journalist – depicted religion as it should be if political correctness in the science fiction field didn’t suppress it.

This collection gathers up stories Antonelli wrote over the years where Christianity plays a role. They range from down home and next door to far flung and in outer space. They remind us that despite the best efforts of a Godless material world, Christianity is a sturdy creed that remains a vital part of many people’s lives.

This collection touches on religion, especially Christianity, in a variety of touching and creative ways.  My favorite was “On a Spiritual Plain”, where a chaplain must learn to deal with the intersection of alien religion, death, and his own faith.  There is also a series of stories dealing with a world in which no one religion has gained dominance, which explores how a religion based on peace and forgiveness fares when mixed in with equally fervent believers in religions that are not quite as peaceful or forgiving.

I burned through this book in a couple of hours, but the stories kept me thinking for days afterward.  It’s a good summer read, and if you’ve enjoyed Antonelli’s other works or are looking for thoughtful, well told stories, I think you’ll like In the Shadow of the Cross.

Book Review – The Stones of Silence

Peter Grant has started a new series set in the same universe as his excellent Maxwell Saga, called “Cochrane’s Company”.  Its first book, The Stones of Silence, is a great read.

The secret is out – the Mycenae system is the hottest new mineral find in the spiral arm. Now it’s about to become ground zero in a gold rush by every crooked company and asteroid thief in the galaxy.

Andrew Cochrane, with his crew of the finest veterans and cunning rogues, have an even better scheme. They’ve conned the owner into hiring them as a mercenary security company to defend the system. With no oversight but their own, Cochrane’s Company plans to seize the richest pickings for themselves.

But nothing ever comes easy. If they want to keep their loot, they’re going to have to outwit and outfight every smuggler, bandit and renegade after the same prize – and their boss, too!

Stones of Silence spins the tale of how a group of people come together to create a new space-based security enterprise, and the conflicts that arise as they work to secure their first contract and make their fortunes.

Grant is a consumate storyteller.  If you’ve enjoyed his Maxwell and Laredo series, you’ll love this one.  He takes his time to flesh out his characters and their world, while at the same time weaving a story full of intrigue.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Book Review – Bite Sized

Holly Chism, proprietress of the Godshead Tavern, has started a new series call the Liquid Diet Chronicles, and the first book, Bite Sized, is a real treat!

Meg Turner has been a vampire for twenty years. Her favorite food is rapists. Which is how she met Andi Donahue, her new best friend/ girl Friday.

And then the nightmares start. And the bodies start showing up–bled out and raped. Just like Meg was. They don’t have a whole lot of time to stop the killer before he strikes again, and only one way to stop the killer.

But how can Andi help Meg stop a killer she can’t even see?

Chism’s greatest strength as a writer is her ability to get inside her characters’ skins, and she hits the mark with Bite Sized.  Meg is a young vampire who’s had to learn everything on her own, and she has a pentient for thinning the ranks of those who prey on their fellow human beings.  By the end of the first chapter, she is a vivid, well-formed character that makes you want to read the next page and the page after that.

Other characters, especially Meg’s friend Andi, complete Bite Sized as they race to find and destroy a killer.  The story is fast paced at times, but Chism takes time to give her characters time to breathe and be human.  Well, mostly human, but it’s a vampire story, so you take what you can get.

I’d recommend Bite Sized for the beach or the lake house, or for an evening in front of the fire.  I’m already looking forward to the rest of the series!

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