Book Review: The Search for Gram (Codex Regius Book 1)

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Chris Kennedy Book Reviews

Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m a member of the TRMN. It’s a fan club for the Honor Harrington Universe by David Weber, and they do contests for their members all the time. There is a reading contest going on recently, and we get bonus points for reading authors who are on the TRMN Author List. And, if those authors will be at the 2017 Honor Con, we get even more points! So, you’ll see my next several reviews on books by Chris Kennedy, Marko Kloos and David Weber before I get back to Richard Fox’s Ember Wars stories.  I’m also working on book four of The Sleeping Legion Series.  Finally, if you haven’t read it, Operation Breakout is live!

But enough about me, onto this specific review. Now let’s get to it!

Title:  The Search for Gram (Codex Regius Book 1)

 Author:  Chris Kennedy

 Narrator:  Craig Good

 Price:  $3.99 USD (Kindle Edition) & $1.99 USD (Audible Add On)

 Obtained:  I bought the story and audiobook combination from Amazon.

 Pages:  402

1914995891

Rating: 5/5 Grenades

Summary:

First, let me say that none of what I’ll say in this section couldn’t be found on the back copy of the novel.  Heck, I cribbed this summary from the back and then I add my own twist!  I wanted to provide a spoiler free review, so here goes nothing!  This novel carries on after The Theogony Trilogy, and is the first novel in follow-on The Codex Regius Trilogy.  Lieutenant Commander Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs has saved Seattle, traveled to the stars and forged new alliances with alien races.  With the latest war concluded, he turned his attention to deciphering the strange rod an ancient alien civilization gave him as a test.  Was a little “down time” to work on the project too much to hope for?  Obviously, because what kind of boring work would that be?

Whelp, no rest for the wicked and something, or someone, is destroying starships from the alien Aesir race.  The elven Aesir are in need of help, and all of the signs point to Calvin as the hero they need.  He’s tired, sick of being the “hero” everyone seeks but just to stubborn to walk away and retire.  Calvin has already defeated the merciless Drakuls and saved Earth from alien invasion, but is he prepared to face this unknown challenge?

As the Theogony trilogy comes to a close, a new chapter for Calvin is set to begin. “The Search for Gram” initiates the “Codex Regius,” a trilogy that will once again take Lieutenant Commander Hobbs and his Special Forces platoon to the stars. Not even the universe can hold him this time!

  

Characters: 

In this novel, we get more in depth with Shawn Hobbs, with the other characters in the series given secondary status.  As many of the original secondary characters die gruesome and bloody deaths, we meet new and interesting people for Chris Kennedy to kill.  This novel didn’t lose any of the characters that were awesome in the previous books in this universe, except by natural attrition, nor did Chris Kennedy sacrifice what made Occupied Seattle Duology, The Theogony Trilogy, and now The Codex Regius awesome.  Calvin Hobbs was a flushed out, three-dimensional character that I thought was a lot of fun.  He’s so flushed out at this point, maybe we should advance him to four-dimensional!  I still felt like I could relate to him as a person, and was someone I would want to hang out with.  Seriously, this is my sixth book with Calvin and I still want to read more of his adventures!  I’m sad to think that they’re only two books left.  While we see most of the story through Hobb’s eyes, there was still plenty of red shirts and glorious death!  The author, Chris Kennedy, calls them secondary characters but he kills so many of them off that they might as well be red shirts.  Here’s a summary of the main character.

Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs:  He is a fighter pilot for the US Navy who becomes an instant war herp/celebrity once he got shot down during the opening salvo of the Sino America War.  He built on that as he led several successful ground assaults, aerial missions and various other death defying combat roles in the mission of the Republic of Terra.  By now, the battles he was involved with during the Sino American War seem like child’s play.  He’s fought the blood thirsty Drakul’s who want to eat him and managed not to get killed by flying snakes who wanted to sacrifice him to their gods.  In the strange world he finds himself, he must adapt when old allies become enemies and enemies become allies.

Overall, I will give these characters 6 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see where the author takes this character throughout this new series!

Plot: 

Like most of the military fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel.  The story is set in the post Drakul invasion world where the Republic of Terra barely survived becoming food for predatory aliens.  Humanity is again confronted with the fact that most of Earth’s mythologies are actually tales of aliens who visited humanity in its infancy and those who witnessed it and left told the stories of these “gods” to their people.  As the Terran Navy is returning to the Mworry home world part they’re again confronted by another alien who want the great “hero” Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs to assist them on a dangerous mission.  Again, the premise for the series was interesting and the set-up was well executed.  We watch the crew of the TSS Vella Gulf stumble into a mission they were unprepared for and the cost in lives is impressive.  I would love to give some examples, but you should just buy the series and find out for yourself!

With my military background, I thought the way the military was portrayed was credible.  Well, as much as we could say about futuristic tech!  This book kept gave an even balance of the ground combat that I love reading about and added in equal parts spaceship porn.  Loads of explosions, action and all kinds of gooey dead aliens.  A few red shirts from the ranks of humanity get the ‘privilege’ to suffer glorious deaths for Terra.  It was all excellently handled, with tactics that fit the world Chris created.  I really loved the premise of this plot, and more importantly I enjoyed how he executed it.  The pacing was excellent and there was never a slow moment.  I couldn’t ask for anything more; excellent premise, perfect execution and wonderful pacing!  I again give Chris 5 out of 5 Grenades!

  

World Building:

This is the first book in The Codex Regius Trilogy, and I’m still hooked on this universe!  I’m thrilled to be back into this universe that I love so much.  Like in the previous trilogy, this novel had a very flushed out world.  It was consistent, made sense and sucked you in.  I loved the way he handled inserting new aliens into the world, and letting them become part of the larger world.  I liked that these new species, planets and technology made sense and it didn’t feel like they were added just to have shiny things.  Overall, the world building was well done and I was sold on the way it happened.  It felt believable and the characters fit within the universe Chris created.  It was a fun ride, that made me wanna suit up… which is the goal of action/adventure authors!  I wouldn’t mind the warrior package that the space marines get with their implants either, hear they take off a few pounds!  I give the world building 6 out of 5 Grenades.

  

Description: 

Like the previous book, this novel was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world.  The only scenes that were confusing and difficult to envision were the color schemes in the alternate/parallel universe.  I believe this was my color blindness getting in the way, so I’m giving that part a pass.  Also, like the previous novels, he balanced the explanation of the various military minutia with the need to move a story along.  This book didn’t have a single place where I couldn’t picture the scenery and the equipment, which added to world that felt tangible and I enjoyed it.  Well, except for the previously mentioned color issue.  The world he created evoked visceral emotions, heck I wanted to get my implants and join up again after this novel!  As an author, Chris Kennedy was still lite on the details of what the various characters looked like but by now I just didn’t care.  I wanted the action, the adventure and the PEW PEW!  Overall, I give Chris 6 out of 5 grenades in this category because he definitely stepped up the PEW PEW!

 

 Narration Quality:

Like the previous novels, this audiobook was excellently executed.  The narrator, Craig Good, did an amazing job narrating this book.  He didn’t bore you, or make you zone out because of his monotone.  His performance didn’t feel robotic, like a machine was reading the novel too me.  Instead, it felt like a friend was sitting with me reading an amazing story that he couldn’t put down.  This time the way Craig did the voices of the various characters had grown on me and kept me engaged throughout the periods I was listening to this book.  He must be growing on me?  And in case you notice that my review of his performance has been the same for his last five books, it’s because he provides a steady and consistent performance.  Overall, I give him a 5 out of 5 grenades for his performance.

 

 Overall:

I really loved this book, it made my drive home from my brother-in-law’s wedding very enjoyable and I was able to escape the multitude of bad drivers that littered the highways and die-ways.  With this book, I listened to all but a few chapters, which is a testament to the quality of the audiobook.  Heck, now I want to take a road trip just to have an excuse to listen to the next book!  Like the previous trilogy, the covers in this one were amazingly invocative.  The military culture shown in this book was spot on, even the ground combat.  Such accurate portrayal of the tactics is rare, especially when coming from a sailor like Chris Kennedy.  Seriously, the author weaponized the awesome power of the PEW PEW for this gripping start to The Codex Regius Trilogy!  He wove the action in such a compelling way that you could almost forget that has become the standard for this awesome author!  Basically, Chris had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel.  This is a book I would happily recommend, and an author I will definitely read again.  Heck, I would even recommend that you buy the novel!  But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money!

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out, you won’t regret it!  Well, unless it motivates you to go looking for your own aliens.  And on the search, you drive to Area 51 and try to push past the gate guards.  Which would mean you’d get shot, since those guards have big scary guns.  The guards, amped up on Red Bull unload a full clip into you, turning you into Swiss Cheese and leaving you to bleed out on the burning hot asphalt.  Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for you.  But hey, at least you got to see eternity pass you by as you fade into nothing.  On second thought, be warned, fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be wary, you were warned and if you have to go out like that at least enjoy the view from up there!

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

JR

> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are videos used by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Book Review: Terra Stands Alone (The Theogony Book 3)

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Chris Kennedy Book Reviews

Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m a member of the TRMN. It’s a fan club for the Honor Harrington Universe by David Weber, and they do contests for their members all the time. There is a reading contest going on recently, and we get bonus points for reading authors who are on the TRMN Author List. And, if those authors will be at the 2017 Honor Con, we get even more points! So, you’ll see my next several reviews on books by Chris Kennedy, Marko Kloos and David Weber before I get back to Richard Fox’s Ember Wars stories.  I’m also working on book four of The Sleeping Legion Series.  Finally, if you haven’t read it, Operation Breakout is live!

But enough about me, onto this specific review. Now let’s get to it!

Title: Terra Stands Alone (The Theogony Book 3)

Author: Chris Kennedy

Narrator: Craig Good

Price: $3.99 USD (Kindle Edition) & $1.99 USD (Audible Add On)

Obtained: I bought the story and audiobook combination from Amazon.

Pages: 448

Terra Stands Alone 1

Rating: 5/5 Grenades

Summary:

First, let me say that none of what I’ll say in this section couldn’t be found on the back copy of the novel.  I wanted to provide a spoiler free review, so here goes nothing!  This novel carries on after When the Gods Aren’t Gods, the second novel in The Theogony Trilogy.  Lieutenant Commander Shawn ‘Calvin’ Hobbs and his special forces platoon just returned from their eventful second mission to the stars.  The technology they brought back will help, but it won’t be enough to hold off the alien menace headed their way.  And things just got more urgent, because the Drakuls have found the Solar System.

A merciless race, there is nothing left once the Drakuls have conquered a civilization except the bones of its dead.  When the first Drakul exploratory ship emerged from the stargate, Earth’s days became numbered.

Although Lieutenant Commander Shawn ‘Calvin’ Hobbs and the crew of the TSS Vella Gulf came back with a battleship from their last mission, it won’t be enough to defend the Solar System from the Drakul menace.  The Mrowry and the Terran artificial intelligences have run the numbers…and Terra has come up wanting.

The crew of the Vella Gulf knows what a Drakul invasion means: the end of civilization as we know it.  Can they find a way to stop the devastating onslaught of the Drakul fleet?  Even their new allies, the Mrowry, think Earth’s salvation is unlikely.  The Earth has more enemies than it can count and no prospect of aid.  In the face of extinction, Terra Stands Alone!

 

Characters:

In this novel, we get more in depth with Shawn Hobbs, with the other characters in the series given secondary status.  This novel didn’t lose any of the characters that were awesome in the previous books in this universe, nor did Chris Kennedy sacrifice what made Occupied Seattle Duology and now the Theogony Trilogy awesome.  Calvin Hobbs was a flushed out, three-dimensional character that I thought was a lot of fun.  I still felt like I could relate to him as a person, and was someone I would want to hang out with.  Seriously, this is my fifth book with Calvin and I still want to read more of his adventures!  While we see most of the story through Hobb’s eyes, there was still plenty of red shirts and glorious death!  Because I’ve mentioned how my military service has helped me understand these books, it is important to note that by now Chris Kennedy writes novels so accessible anyone could read them.  I think that was the case before, but my wife, who had to listen to books 2 & 3 of this series, mentioned this book was easier than the second for her.  She’s never served in the military, and thought that here he made things even more accessible.  Here is a brief summary of the main character.

Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs:  He is a fighter pilot for the US Navy who becomes an instant war herp/celebrity once he got shot down during the opening salvo of the Sino America War.  He built on that as he led several successful ground assaults, aerial missions and various other death defying combat roles in the mission of the Republic of Terra.  By now, the battles he was involved with during the Sino American War seem like child’s play.  In the strange world he finds himself, he must adapt when old allies become enemies and enemies become allies.

Overall, I will give these characters 5 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see where the author takes this character throughout this series!

 

Plot:

Like most of the military fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel.  The story is set in the post Sino American War world, after China invaded Seattle as a feint to keep the US from honoring our commitment to Taiwan.  Immediately after the war ends, aliens make contact with Earth.  We find out that most of Earths mythologies are actually aliens who visited humanity in its infancy and those who witnessed it and left told the stories of these “gods” to their people.  As part of the quest to find allies in the pending war against the Drakuls, Shawn Hobbs gets to meet these aliens.  Except the war isn’t “pending” anymore, they’ve found Earth.

Again, the premise for the series was interesting and the set-up was well executed.  We see a conclusion of the goal of a unified Earth waging war against the Drakul in a desperate bid for survival.  Chris covered the needed inter planetary political maneuvering very well, with the required non-action scenes not bogging down the plot.  I would love to give some examples, but you should just buy the series and find out for yourself!

With my military background, I thought the way the military was portrayed was credible.  Well, as much as we could say about futuristic tech!  This book kept some of the ground combat that I love and added in some more spaceship porn.  Loads of explosions, action and all kinds of gooey dead aliens.  A few red shirts from the ranks of humanity as well.  It was all excellently handled, with tactics that fit the world Chris created.  I really loved the premise of this plot, and more importantly I enjoyed how he executed it.  I couldn’t ask for anything more; excellent premise, perfect execution and wonderful pacing!  The only bad part was that the series came to an end!  I again give Chris 5 out of 5 Grenades!

 

World Building:

This is the third and final book in The Theogony Trilogy, and I’m still hooked on this world!  Kinda sad that it’s over to be honest.  Like in the previous novel in this trilogy, this world was very flushed out.  I loved the way he handled the evolution of alliances that led to the salvation of Earth from the threat of being food for the Drakuls.  Hey, it’s not a spoiler when you know the main character has another trilogy in his future!  Overall, the world building was well done and I was sold on the way it happened.  It felt believable and the characters fit within the universe Chris created.  It was a fun ride, that made me wanna suit up… which is the goal of action/adventure authors!  I wouldn’t mind the warrior package on the implants either, hear they take off a few pounds!  I give the world building 6 out of 5 Grenades.

 

Description:

Like the previous book, this novel was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world.  There were some scenes which were confusing, and difficult to envision, but like the last novel he balanced the explanation of the various military minutia with the need to move a story along.  This book didn’t have a single place where I couldn’t picture the scenery and the equipment, which added to world that felt tangible and I enjoyed it.  The world he created evoked visceral emotions, heck I wanted to get my implants and join up again after this novel!  As an author, Chris Kennedy was still lite on the details of what the various characters looked like but by now I just didn’t care.  I wanted the action, the adventure and the PEW PEW!  Overall, I give Chris 5 out of 5 grenades in this category!  Seriously, he was only one more PEW PEW scene away from 6 grenades people!

 

Narration Quality:

Like the previous novels, this audiobook was excellently executed.  The narrator, Craig Good, did an amazing job narrating this book.  He didn’t bore you, or make you zone out because of his monotone.  His performance didn’t feel robotic, like a machine was reading the novel too me.  Instead, it felt like a friend was sitting with me reading an amazing story that he couldn’t put down.  This time the way Craig did the voices of the various characters had grown on me and kept me engaged throughout the periods I was listening to this book.  He must be growing on me?  The only issue I had was that the scenes where characters used a stage whisper were hard to understand.  An easy fix was available, I pulled off the road and popped open the novel with my Whysper Sync and then went back to the audiobook!  Further, you might notice that my review of his performance has been the same for his last three books, and it’s because he provides a steady and consistent performance.  Overall, I give him a 5 out of 5 grenades for his performance.

 

Overall:

I really loved this book, it made my drive home from my brother-in-law’s wedding very enjoyable and I was able to escape the multitude of bad drivers that littered the highways and die-ways.  With this book, I listened to all but a few chapters, which is a testament to the quality of the audiobook.

Like the previous book in this trilogy, the cover was amazingly invocative.  I love how the trilogy has a similar theme running through it, and picking the crest for the new Republic of Terra definitely fit this book.  I could definitely see this on some swag, but I always think “this could be on a t-shirt” so take my opinion with a grain of salt!  The military culture shown in this book was spot on, even the ground combat.  Such accurate portrayal of the tactics is rare, especially when coming from a sailor like Chris Kennedy.  Seriously, the author weaponized the awesome power of the PEW PEW for this thrilling conclusion to the Theogony Trilogy!  He wove the action in such a compelling way that you could almost forget that he was just a silly fly boy!  Basically, Chris had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel.  Thankfully, traffic was bad so I was able to listen to the whole novel on my drive home.  Wow, it’s so good the novel makes you thankful for crappy road conditions!  It’s an amazing adventure, a look into Chris’s twisted imagination, and leaves you wondering which grunt he bribed for the insight into how we think!  This is a book I would happily recommend, and an author I will definitely read again.  Heck, I would even recommend that you buy the novel!  But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money!

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out, you won’t regret it!  Well, unless it motivates you to squeeze your fat body into your old uniform and you die from the shock to your system.  And when you die, you end up in limbo, all alone.  And since you’re alone, you go insane from the solitude.  And in your insanity, you try to fly, but can’t.  Instead, you’re left merged with the asphalt you fell onto at your failed effort to recreate Kitty Hawk.  Stuck in the asphalt, your soul wastes away until there is no you left and you fade out just as Ragnarök begins.  Yeah, it would suck to miss that so maybe you should tread lightly!  Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for you.  But hey, at least you got to see eternity pass you by as you fade into nothing.  On second thought, be warned, fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be wary, you were warned and if you have to go out like that at least enjoy the view from up there!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

JR

> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are videos used by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Book Review: When the Gods Aren’t Gods (The Theogony Book 2)

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Chris Kennedy Book Reviews

Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m a member of the TRMN. It’s a fan club for the Honor Harrington Universe by David Weber, and they do contests for their members all the time. There is a reading contest going on recently, and we get bonus points for reading authors who are on the TRMN Author List. And, if those authors will be at the 2017 Honor Con, we get even more points! So, you’ll see my next several reviews on books by Chris Kennedy, Marko Kloos and David Weber before I get back to Richard Fox’s Ember Wars stories.  I’m also working on book four of The Sleeping Legion Series.  Finally, if you haven’t read it, Operation Breakout is live!

 

But enough about me, onto this specific review. Now let’s get to it!

Title: When the Gods Aren’t Gods (The Theogony Book 2)

Author: Chris Kennedy

Narrator: Craig Good

Price: $3.99 USD (Kindle Edition) & $1.99 USD (Audible Add On)

Obtained: I bought the story and audiobook combination from Amazon.

Pages: 432

1119129791

Rating: 5/5 Grenades

Summary:

First, let me say that none of what I’ll say in this section couldn’t be found on the back copy of the novel.  I wanted to provide a spoiler free review, so here goes nothing!  This novel carries on after Janissaries, the first novel in The Theogony Trilogy.  Lieutenant Commander Shawn ‘Calvin’ Hobbs and his special forces platoon just returned from a three-month mission to the stars.  The technology they brought back will help, but it won’t be enough to hold off the alien menace headed their way.  Although they returned alive, they returned without finding any new allies or help in building the fleet necessary to ensure the Earth’s survival.

They’ve got to go back out to the stars.

“When the Gods Aren’t Gods” is the second book in “The Theogony,” a trilogy that takes Lieutenant Commander Hobbs and his special forces platoon to the stars, where they have found out that there is much more to Earth’s history than is written in the history books!

What do you do when myths become reality, and nothing you have ever been taught about history turns out to be true?  How do you find the truth when everything you know is a lie?  What is there left to believe in, when even the gods aren’t gods?

 

Characters:

In this novel, we get more in depth with Shawn Hobbs, with the other characters in the series given secondary status.  This novel didn’t lose any of the characters that were awesome in the previous books in this universe, nor did Chris Kennedy didn’t sacrifice what made Occupied Seattle Duology awesome.  Calvin Hobbs was a flushed out, three-dimensional character that I thought was a lot of fun.  I felt like I could relate to him as a person, and was someone I would want to hang out with.  While we see most of the story through Hobb’s eyes, there was still plenty of red shirts and glorious death!  Like his previous novels, I was helped by my time in the service, because Chris used his military service color this science fiction military thriller.  Here is a brief summary of the main character.

Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs: He is a fighter pilot for the US Navy who becomes an instant war herp/celebrity once he got shot down during the opening salvo of the Sino America War.  He got involved with the resistance and ends up leading a small band of disenfranchised troopers in a war against the occupying force.  These actions caught the attention of the aliens spying on humanity, and end with him being requested to lead humanities efforts to assist their new alien allies.  In this book we follow him as he helps unify the Earth around the

Overall, I will give these characters 5 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see where the author takes this character throughout this series!

 

Plot:

Like most of the military fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel.  The story is set in the post Sino American War world, after China invaded Seattle as a feint to keep the US from honoring our commitment to Taiwan.  Immediately after the war ends, aliens make contact with Earth.  We find out that most of Earths mythologies are actually aliens who visited humanity in its infancy and those who witnessed it and left told the stories of these “gods” to their people.  As part of the quest to find allies in the pending war against the Drakuls, Shawn Hobbs gets to meet these aliens.

The premise was interesting and the set-up was well executed.  We see a conclusion of the goal of a unified Earth and a one world government, which granted access to more bad assed advanced tech from the Psiclopes’s stranded on Earth.  Chris covered the needed political gamesmanship very well, with the required non-action scenes not bogging down the plot.  I would love to give some examples, but this is a spoiler free review!

With my military background, I thought the way the military was portrayed was credible.  Well, as much as we could say about futuristic tech!  On a happy note, this book ditched some of the aviation porn in favor of ground combat.  This was excellently handled, with tactics that fit the world Chris created.  I really loved the premise of this plot, and more importantly I enjoyed how he executed it.  I couldn’t ask for anything more; excellent premise, perfect execution and wonderful pacing!  I again give Chris 5 out of 5 Grenades!

 

World Building:

This is the second book in The Theogony Trilogy, and I’m still hooked on this world!  Like in the previous novel in this trilogy, this world was very flushed out.  I was especially pleased with the way Chris Kennedy handled the evolution from our current geopolitical status quo into the unified Terran Government created in this book.  The new Republic of Terra conversion was handled well, I was sold on the way it happened.  Even with a pending alien invasion, there was dissent and political gamesmanship.  The changes were believable, and there was no waving of the hands to address the realities of geopolitics at the international level.  There would be no panacea for the new world government, as each nation jockeyed for power.  Regardless, the novel built on the modern world and made his divergent path extremely plausible.  I give the world building 5 out of 5 Grenades.

 

Description:

Like the previous book, this novel was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world.  There were some scenes which were confusing, and difficult to envision, but like the last novel he balanced the explanation of the various military minutia with the need to move a story along.  There were very few places where I couldn’t picture the scenery and the equipment, which added to world that felt tangible and I enjoyed it.  He was, alas, a little light on the details of what the various characters looked like.  And he went overboard on the mythology and religion, which isn’t something I normally look for in my science fiction.  Overall, I give Chris 4 out of 5 grenades in this category!

 

Narration Quality:

Like the previous novels, this audiobook was excellently executed.  The narrator, Craig Good, did an amazing job narrating this book.  He didn’t bore you, or make you zone out because of his monotone.  His performance didn’t feel robotic, like a machine was reading the novel too me.  Instead, it felt like a friend was sitting with me reading an amazing story that he couldn’t put down.  This time the way Craig did the voices of the various characters had grown on me and kept me engaged throughout the periods I was listening to this book.  He must be growing on me?  You might notice that my review of his performance has been the same for his last three books, and it’s because he provides a steady and consistent performance.  Overall, I give him a 5 out of 5 grenades for his performance.

 

Overall:

I really loved this book, it made my drive very enjoyable and I was able to escape the multitude of bad drivers that littered the highways and die-ways.  With this book, I listened to all but a few chapters, which is a testament to the quality of the audiobook.

Like the previous book in this trilogy, the cover was amazingly invocative.  I love how the trilogy has a similar theme running through it, and picking military unit patches for the space marines definitely fit this book.  I could definitely see this on some swag!  The military culture shown in this book was spot on, even the ground combat.  Such accurate portrayal of the tactics is rare, especially when coming from a sailor like Chris Kennedy.  He wove the action in such a compelling way that you could almost forget that he was just a silly fly boy!  As for the military equipment, well it was a lot smoother than the previous novel.  None of the future tech was perfect, it didn’t always work and sometimes failed at the worst possible moments.  That is a good thing, as it adds realism to his novels!  As an additional plus, we got to play with his believable small unit tactics when the new Republic of Terra Space Marines were formed and used by Calvin Hobbs.  Basically, Chris had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel.  I even stayed up to late, reading in the hotel bathroom once the kids went to bed!!  It’s an amazing adventure, a look into Chris’s twisted imagination, and leaves you wondering which grunt he bribed for the insight into how we think!  This is a book I would happily recommend, and an author I will definitely read again.  Heck, I would even recommend that you buy the novel!  But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money!

 

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out, you won’t regret it!  Well, unless it motivates you to squeeze your fat body into your old uniform and you die from the shock to your system.  And when you die, you end up in limbo, all alone.  And since you’re alone, you go insane from the solitude.  And in your insanity, you try to fly, but can’t.  Instead, you’re left merged with the asphalt you fell onto at your failed effort to recreate Kitty Hawk.  Stuck in the asphalt, your soul wastes away until there is no you left and you fade out just as Ragnarök begins.  Yeah, it would suck to miss that so maybe you should tread lightly!  Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for you.  But hey, at least you got to see eternity pass you by as you fade into nothing.  On second thought, be warned, fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be wary, you were warned and if you have to go out like that at least enjoy the view from up there!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

JR

> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are videos used by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Book Review: The Ruins of Anthalas

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Richard Fox Book Reviews

Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews.  I’m currently taking a break on reading the Honor Harrington Series to read The Ember War Saga by a fellow Army veteran, Richard Fox.  He seems to be pretty successful, so another author whom might have something to teach us all.  I always want to read novels by well written authors, because I mine everything I read for useful skills.  Nothing has really changed on my end, so I won’t bore your ear holes with gibberish.  Instead, let’s jump right into the nuts and bolts of the story.

 

Title: The Ruins of Anthalas

Author: Richard Fox

Price: $3.99 USD (Kindle Version) or $2.99 (Add on Audiobook)

Obtained: I listened to this through the audio book, which I received for free from Podium Publishing.

Pages: 452 pages

 

Ruins of Anthalas cover.htm.jpg

 

Rating: 5/5 Grenades

5 Grenade

 

Summary:

This follows the story of Marc Ibarra, an alien probe, Marine Lieutenant Hale, Captain Valdar, and the star cruiser Breitenfeld.  The alien probe has successfully saved a sliver of humanity, and now they have to prepare because the Xaros are coming back.  They fly off to the planet Anthalas to discover a lost technology which would allow humanity to use their abundance of omnium to save themselves from the alien threat.  With most of Earth’s defenses destroyed, the survivors must look outside themselves for a solution.  In this story we’ll meet new enemies, new allies and learn that Marc Ibarra isn’t done manipulating the human race. There’s plenty of action, intrigue, and sci-fi adventure, but on a much larger scale as the war grows to include the Alliance that saved humanity from the Xaros invasion.  This novel takes the reader even deeper into the war against the Xaros, and with the fate of humanities very existence, all bets are off.  If you want to know more, read the book!

 

Characters:

There were three main characters in this novel; the star cruiser Breitenfeld, Captain Isaac Valdar, Lieutenant Hale, Marc Ibarra and the alien probe.  The same ones from the previous books, which added to the familiarity with the universe.  Like most novels with multiple POVs, each one served a unique purpose in the evolution of the plot.  Each of these characters were well written, and you could feel enough depth to make them believable.

 

Breitenfeld: While the ship didn’t have any personality, per say, she was such an integral part of the story that she began to have agency and personhood.  I was never a sailor, but I understand our swabbie friends have said similar things about current naval vessels.  Like all good weapons of war, human and machine, she begins to show her age as she progresses through the plot.  Scars, however, show her character as she bleeds oil and vents atmosphere to protect her crew.  The way Richard Fox describes the ship, you could almost believe it was a sentient being!  I also loved how we see the ship get more battered as the war with the Xaros continues to play itself out over interstellar space.

 

Captain Isaac Valdar:  This character allowed you to see the naval action of the story, always at the tip of the spear in the war against the Xaros alien probes.  His position as the ships commander make it extremely plausible for him to be in any action that directly involved the Breitenfeld.  He was a troubled man, who’d lost his entire world when Earth was wiped out.  His flawed nature is on display in this book, but it only makes me like him more.  I could feel his pain, and it became my pain as I read his story.  As an author, if you can make your audience emotionally invested in your characters, you won.  Richard Fox did his job, and this character was extremely well flushed out.

 

Lieutenant Hale: This character allowed you to see the action of the story, always at the tip of the spear in the war against the Xaros alien probes.  His position as one of the junior Marine officers, and a member of a special forces wing of the Marine Corps makes it extremely plausible for him to be everywhere when the Gauss Rifles start firing.  He was a bit too ‘gung ho’ and competent for a junior officer but otherwise he was flushed out.  Admittedly he had a competent senior NCO at his side, but I would’ve preferred to see the LT make a few mistakes so we knew he was, in fact, actually still an LT!  However, as he continues to fight in the war it becomes more believable and was less of a distraction.  The character was even more likeable and well thought out than in the first novel in the series.  I felt he was believable and he showcased the authors own time in the US Army.  Overall, an extremely well flushed out character.

 

Marc Ibarra/Alien Probe:  We meet the unnamed alien probe and a young Marc Ibarra at the beginning of this series, and while we still don’t get a whole lot of face time they’re both so integral to the story that I feel like they’re defacto main characters.  They were flushed out, with just enough information to be believable and yet vague enough we could picture them as embodiments of character archetypes we know and love.  They were just the sort of shady that keeps you up at night, and conspiracy theorists spinning circles at the possibilities.  I will say, the more I get to learn about the terrible duo, the less I like them.  Not because they’re badly written, but because they make me want to punch them in their almost face!

 

Plot:

This plot moved along at a steady pace, though it felt a bit slower than the first novel.  I still loved the story, but maybe it was the history lover in me?  I wanted to explore Anthalas myself, seeing how these aliens lived.  I loved the detail and precision that Richard Fox still paid to the military technology.  I also liked that he didn’t get bogged down in the science of space travel, and most of the action in this book took place on the ground or the derelict space ships.  Richard didn’t ignore the science, but rather he didn’t let it bog down the story.  As a reader, I don’t care how the space flight works, just that the author had a reason that it did.  This novel was heavier on the ground operations than the space combat, but none of it felt lacking.  Compared to book one, it was twice as much ground action than space fights.  While this novel changed POVs several times, it never felt jarring and the shifts were easy to follow.  You might have noticed, it is something I pay attention too when I read.  Again, I read this novel as an eBook while listening to it as an audiobook.  The Whisper Sync feature via Amazon’s pairing with Audible didn’t work with book two, but it didn’t mess me up.  The plotting was definitely five out of five grenades for me.

 

World Building:

The world building of this novel was expertly done, and it never felt like it was done as an “info dump.”  I felt like the world building in this novel was solid, even better than the first book!  There was just enough to understand everything, without slowing the pace of the novel too much.  I could picture most of what he described, which helped me a lot.  I sort of envisioned Incan Temples for the ruins of Anthalas.  If you weren’t rooted in history, then maybe you picture something different?  Hey I have to use that history degree or the bill for Villanova’s graduate program would just be a waste!  However, with regards to the space technology, it was persuasively written, but not substantially different from book one.  And yes, I still want my own Gauss Rifle!  There were some parts where I felt it was still lacking details, but as a lover of stories I recognized them as hooks for what I expect to happen in later novels.  This happens when the story spans several novels.  It never felt forced, or cliff hanger-esq, and it only made me want to keep reading.  I can’t really say anything else here without spoiling it for people who haven’t read the stories, but the world building was a solid five out of five grenades.

 

Description:

Much like the world building, the detailed descriptions were solidly done.  I could envision what he wrote, and I can’t wait for the graphic novel out of this universe!  Hint, hint Richard!  I definitely feel like the descriptions of this book set the standard, balance the not enough against the too much.  Even having said that about the first one, book two kicked it up a notch.  In regards to description, this was another win for the author.  I’d give this section five out of five grenades.  There was still room to make the descriptions really pop, but it didn’t hurt the overall story for me.  In fact, if he did give more on the description I might’ve complained about the slower pace.  It’s all about balance, and none of these sub-components to the story can exist without the others, so bare that in mind as you read book reviews.

 

Audio Quality:

I received the audiobook free as a proof of concept from Podium Publishing while in we were in negotiation for my own series.  In fact, the quality of this production was why I pushed Boss Man to agree to the contract.  The only real complaint the accents of the various characters made them slightly difficult to understand.  Because of this, I couldn’t tell you a single call sign for the pilots in this novel.  Full disclosure, I lost some of my hearing while in the service, so this might just be my own issue.  Also of note, the first two novels of this series are on the same audiobook.  The whisper sync only worked for the first book but if you pay attention to the chapters you can easily find your place.  Five out of five grenades.

 

Overall:

In spite of my issues with the accents from the narrator, I really enjoyed this novel.  I loved this story even more than the first novel.  The story kept me hooked, and made me want to read the rest of the series.  I’ve bought book three already, and suggest you do too!  This wasn’t a novel to revolutionize the world, but that isn’t why I read military science fiction.  I want explosions, gun fights and cool stories.  A few cool aliens wouldn’t hurt, and in every regard Richard Fox delivers!  I would even recommend that you buy the novel in the digital AND audio format!  This is one book you’ll want to buy for your reading pleasure and keep to read again.  This was a solid 5 grenades.

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out!  You won’t regret it!  Well, unless it keeps you up all night and you’re late to work… and then you fall asleep while driving and wreck your vehicle.  And while you’re stuck on the side of the road your boss calls and fires you because you’re late.  Without viable employment, you become a rabid fan, blowing your life savings buying all gazillion of his novels in this universe.  And then, while looking for a job the alien probe arrives… and well, you know what happens.  Then, you’ll try to tell your friends but they’ll think you’re insane and lock you up in a funny farm.  And then they give you good drugs, making you see even more of the aliens, forcing your spirit to carry on in the limbo as your body sits in a drugged-out comma, restrained by your straight jacket.  With nothing left to lose, you astroproject in Richard’s office because he ruined your life.  But you go insane at the futility because he can’t see or hear you.  Okay, the fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be warned, but enjoy the happy pills!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Indie SciFy Video #5

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jr-handley-header

Hey Space Cadets, today I wanted to bring you some awesome little science fiction films.  They’re indie productions, but still worth the watch!  I plan on posting more of these to entertain you while I’m buried deep in my bunker working.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy this little vignette from HALO fans!  Tomorrow, in lieu of a Marine Monday I plan on posting another book review for book two of Richard Fox‘s Ember War Series.  Meanwhile, enjoy this little video!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry! 

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are videos used by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Book Review: The Ember War

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Richard Fox Book Reviews.PNG

Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews.  I’m currently taking a break on reading the Honor Harrington Series to read The Ember War Saga by a fellow Army veteran, Richard Fox.  He seems to be pretty successful, so another author whom might have something to teach us all.  I always want to read novels by well written authors, because I mine everything I read for useful skills.  Nothing has really changed on my end, so I won’t bore your ear holes with gibberish.  Instead, let’s jump right into the nuts and bolts of the story.

 

Title: The Ember War

Author: Richard Fox

Price: $3.99 USD (Kindle Version) or $2.99 (Add on Audiobook)

Obtained: I bought the novel, but also received the audio version for free from Podium Publishing.

Pages: 426 pages

 

Ember Wars.PNG

 

Rating: 5/5 Grenades

5 Grenade

 

Summary:

This book shares the story of Marc Ibarra, an alien probe, Marine Lieutenant Hale, Captain Valdar, and the star cruiser Breitenfeld.  The alien probe arrives to help Marc Ibarra prepare Earth for the coming invasion.  A series of events and political assignations end with two super powers fighting for dominance and an arms race.  Ultimately this prepares the Naval forces for what was to come when they fight this mysterious enemy force. The survivors of humanity had been tasked to escort a colony mission, but disappeared, only reappearing where they’d left.  Only, it wasn’t the same year they’d left.  They’d returned 60 years into the future, with Earth wiped out and an alien invasion.  If you want to know more, read the book!

 

Characters:

There were three main characters in this novel; the star cruiser Breitenfeld, Captain Isaac Valdar, Lieutenant Hale, Marc Ibarra and the alien probe.  Like most novels with multiple POVs, each one served a unique purpose in the evolution of the plot.  Each of these characters were well written, and you could feel enough depth to make them believable.

 

Breitenfeld: While the ship didn’t have any personality, per say, she was such an integral part of the story that she began to have agency and personhood.  I was never a sailor, but I understand our swabbie friends have said similar things about current naval vessels.  Like all good weapons of war, human and machine, she begins to show her age as she progresses through the plot.  Scars, however, show her character as she bleeds oil and vents atmosphere to protect her crew.  The way Richard Fox describes the ship, you could almost believe it was a sentient being!

 

Captain Isaac Valdar:  This character allowed you to see the naval action of the story, always at the tip of the spear in the war against the Xaros alien probes.  His position as the ships commander make it extremely plausible for him to be in any action that directly involved the Breitenfeld.  He was a troubled man, who’d lost his entire world when Earth was wiped out.  I could feel his pain, and it became my pain as I read his story.  As an author, if you can make your audience emotionally invested in your characters, you won.  Richard Fox did his job, and this character was extremely well flushed out.

 

Lieutenant Hale: This character allowed you to see the action of the story, always at the tip of the spear in the war against the Xaros alien probes.  His position as one of the junior Marine officers, and a member of a special forces wing of the Marine Corps makes it extremely plausible for him to be everywhere when the Gauss Rifles start firing.  He was a bit too ‘gung ho’ and competent for a junior officer but otherwise he was flushed out.  Admittedly he had a competent senior NCO at his side, but I would’ve preferred to see the LT make a few mistakes so we knew he was, in fact, actually still an LT!  I’ll honestly admit, I was an enlisted NCO and the author was an Army officer so some of this is merely a matter of perspective.  That aside, the character was likeable and well thought out.  I felt he was believable and he showcased the authors own time in the US Army.  Overall, an extremely well flushed out character.

 

Marc Ibarra/Alien Probe:  We meet the unnamed alien probe and a young Marc Ibarra at the beginning of this story, and while they don’t get a whole lot of face time they’re both so integral to the story that I feel like they’re defacto main characters.  They were flushed out, with just enough information to be believable and yet vague enough we could picture them as embodiments of character archetypes we know and love.  They were just the sort of shady that keeps you up at night, and conspiracy theorists spinning circles at the possibilities.

 

Plot:

This plot moved along at a steady pace, I never felt like it slowed down, which I loved.  I loved the detail and precision that Richard Fox payed to the military technology.  Further, I liked that he didn’t get bogged down in the science of space travel.  He didn’t ignore it, but rather he didn’t get bogged down in it like hard science fiction stories do.  As a reader, I don’t care how the space flight works, just that the author had a reason that it did.  This novel was heavier on the ground operations than the space combat, but none of it felt lacking.  While this novel changed POVs several times, it never felt jarring and the shifts were easy to follow.  I read this novel as an eBook, and listened to it as an audiobook via the Whisper Sync feature via Amazon’s pairing with Audible.  The plotting was definitely five out of five grenades for me.

 

World Building:

The world building of this novel was expertly done, and it never felt like it was done as an “info dump.”  I felt like the world building in this novel was solid, there was just enough to understand everything.  I could picture most of what he described, though it started in “modern” America, which helped me a lot.  However, with regards to the space technology, it was persuasively written, believable and fun to imagine myself joining.  Now I want my own Gauss Rifle!  There were some parts where I felt it was lacking details, but as a lover of stories I recognized them as hooks for what I expect to happen in later novels.  I can’t really say anything else here without spoiling it for people who haven’t read the stories, but the world building was a solid five out of five grenades.

 

Description:

Much like the world building, the detailed descriptions were solidly done.  I could envision what he wrote, and I can’t wait for the graphic novel out of this universe!  Hint, hint Richard!  I definitely feel like the descriptions of this book set the standard, balance the not enough against the too much.  In regards to description, this was a success for the author.  I’d give this section four point five out of five grenades.  There was room to make the descriptions really pop, but it didn’t hurt the overall story for me.

 

Audio Quality:

I received the audiobook free as a proof of concept from Podium Publishing while in we were in negotiation for my own series.  In fact, the quality of this production was why I pushed Boss Man to agree to the contract.  The only real complaint the accents of the various characters made them slightly difficult to understand.  Because of this, I couldn’t tell you a single call sign for the pilots in this novel.  Full disclosure, I lost some of my hearing while in the service, so this might just be my own issue.  Besides, if this is my only complaint, I call it a win!  Five out of five grenades.

 

Overall:

In spite of my issues with the accents from the narrator, I really enjoyed this novel.  The story kept me hooked, and made me want to read the rest of the series.  I’ve bought book two and three already!  This wasn’t a novel to revolutionize the world, but that isn’t why I read military science fiction.  I want explosions, gun fights and cool stories.  A few cool aliens wouldn’t hurt, and in every regard Richard Fox delivers!  I would even recommend that you buy the novel in the digital AND audio format!  Some novel’s I’ve only like enough to check out from the library, but this one you’ll want to buy for your reading pleasure and keep to read again.  This was a solid 5 grenades.

 

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out!  You won’t regret it!  Well, unless it keeps you up all night and you’re late to work… and then you fall asleep while driving and wreck your vehicle.  And while you’re stuck on the side of the road your boss calls and fires you because you’re late.  Without viable employment, you become a rabid fan, blowing your life savings buying all gazillion of his novels in this universe.  And then, while looking for a job the alien probe arrives… and well, you know what happens.  Then, you’ll try to tell your friends but they’ll think you’re insane and lock you up in a funny farm.  And then they give you good drugs, making you see even more of the aliens, forcing your spirit to carry on in the limbo as your body sits in a drugged-out comma, restrained by your straight jacket.  With nothing left to lose, you astroproject in Richard’s office because he ruined your life.  But you go insane at the futility because he can’t see or hear you.  Okay, the fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be warned, but enjoy the happy pills!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

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