Posts Tagged ‘Books’

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The latest book to join the Halo universe, New Blood by Matt Forbeck, is also the shortest. It details the story of Sergeant Edward Buck in his own words, and his experience as an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper for those not familiar with Halo lingo) before volunteering for the Spartan-IV Program. The book kind of acts as a little bit of a prologue to Halo 5, where Buck is already a Spartan, but the main focus is to add a little bit of depth to someone who’s really just a background character.

Forbeck does a pretty good job of making Sgt. Buck stand on his own as an interesting character. However, the story is somewhat generic. There’s really nothing new here in terms of the universe. At just under two-hundred pages, this is a short read for the really intense fans of the Halo extended universe. If you’re just a casual fan, I would say leave this one on the shelf.

The Verdict for Halo: New Blood:
3 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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One of the more recent entries in the Halo universe, Hunters in the Dark, by Peter David, focuses on a joint task force of Sangheili and humans who make their way to the Ark, the ancient Forerunner structure that assembled the Halos, in order to prevent the rings from firing after they were mysteriously activated once again. The story takes place a couple of years following the end of the Human-Covenant War and shows us the consequences of the actions taken by the characters at the end of the Halo 3 video game.

Peter David tries his best to craft an interesting story here, but at the end of the day it just comes across as bland. Sure there are tremendous consequences at stake if the characters fail, but realistically, it just never seems that interesting. Certain characters are introduced, only to fall by the wayside and be forgotten. The whole effort just seems a little shallow for a novel in such a rich universe of content. It’s missing the heart of Eric Nylund’s Halo novels, and the gravity and personal nature of the Kilo Five trilogy. However, It’s not all bad, there are some genuine moments throughout, and some of the new creatures introduced are pretty interesting, but ultimately, unless you’re a really big fan of the Halo universe, I’d say  you should probably skip out on this one.

The Verdict for Halo: Hunters in the Dark:
3 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Author Mike Russell puts together a collection of surrealist fiction stories in. Each one with a vague dream-like (or nightmare, depending on your perspective) quality to it. The title of this anthology might be Nothing is Strange, but that is far from accurate. Everything in this collection has a sense of oddity or absurdity about it, but when that becomes the norm, maybe we truly can come to the ultimate conclusion that indeed, nothing is strange.

To be perfectly honest, many of these stories went completely over my head. I didn’t “get” what the author was driving at in telling them. There may very well be some vast, deeper meaning to all of it, but unfortunately it was lost on me. However, that isn’t equivalent to the works not being well constructed. Quite the opposite actually. The overwhelming majority of the stories here are very well-written, to the point where even though I wasn’t necessarily understanding the underlying meaning, I still enjoyed reading them, and was never hesitant about being ready to start the next one. Which brings me to my final point. Most of the tales here are short, which helps in the desire to want to keep reading after you finish one. It also helps in the desire to finish the one you’re currently reading. Had these strange and surreal stories been dozens of pages long, it would have made it that much more difficult to work my way through them, but taken in small portions like this, they’re actually very manageable.

In short, if you’re in the mood for something different, VERY different, give this anthology a shot. At the very least, it’s a pretty solid example of good writing and plot construction, even if it doesn’t always make the most sense.

Nothing is Strange can be purchased on Amazon.com.

The Verdict for Nothing is Strange:
3 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Cats-Deadly-J-D-Wallace-ebook/dp/B0153POH9Q

Silent Cats: Deadly Dance by J. D. Wallace tells the story of two international super spies, Alyn “Kat” David of the Israeli Mossad, and Marcus “Pantera” Sinclair from the American CIA.  I don’t feel like I’m spoiling anything if I tell you that Kat and her two daughters are dead within the first ten pages, especially when that is mentioned in the back cover description.  Marcus, her husband, is told the news and immediately rushes to identify the bodies of his wife and children.  Once he is by their side, he remembers exactly how he and Kat met sixteen years before, as well as the better part of the first year that they knew one another.  It’s these memories that make up the largest part of Silent Cats: Deadly Dance, and they take the reader on a roller coaster of emotions.

This book is a high-octane thriller from the the start.  Military and covert action scenes are described with an intensity that comes from a writer who seemingly knows exactly what he’s talking about.  That familiarity with the material really allows the reader to trust Wallace as an authority to this secretive world where few can be believed, and even fewer can be trusted.  The other part about this novel that I really enjoyed is the building of the relationship between Kat and Pantera.  It doesn’t go as one would expect, and it is certainly not perfect from the start.  Each of them has to work to gain the other’s trust, and that is a long, bumpy, and often painful road for both.

There were two minor issues that I had with this book.  The first is the plot structure.  As this is supposed to be the first book in a series, I understand why the ending was effectively the first part of the story, however, I don’t think it was necessary.  It leaves the novel with a slight feeling of being incomplete because the narrative starts with this major catalytic event and then drops sixteen years into the past to tell the story of how the two main characters met, without giving anything of what happened over that span of more than a decade.  I can’t say too much without spoiling the story, so unfortunately I’m going to have to leave it at that.  My other issue was the chapter breaks.  Wallace does a decent job in this respect, but I feel like some of the breaks just happen at odd times, in the middle of scenes.  The novel has 114 short chapters, plus an epilogue.  I feel like many of those chapters could have easily been combined together to make more cohesive scenes without some of the odd interruptions.

Despite the two minor structural issues, I really enjoyed this novel and had a great time reading it.  I would highly recommend it for fans of thrillers, spy stories, and romance.  You won’t be disappointed.

Silent Cats: Deadly Dance can be purchased on Amazon.

The Verdict for Silent Cats: Deadly Dance:
4 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.