JamJam by Yahtzee Croshaw
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was more than a bit ridiculous – and that works in its favor. It only suffered in my opinion because I had just finished two other very amusing books right before I read this one.

The point of view character is… well he’s not particularly bright. He is though, the nicest character in the book. He is also dedicated to his friends and that made him easy to relate to. I struggled with the time line of this story. It seemed far too short for the amount of crazy involved – and there was a lot of crazy. Only a handful of things ‘didn’t translate’ from Australian to American (as opposed to the many things from Oddjobs). The setting was important to the book – but only that it involved a city with an office tower, a mall and access to the ocean.

This was amusing and if you’re looking for something light and fun it’s worth checking out.

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Trampling in the Land of Woe (The Patron Saints of Hell #1)Trampling in the Land of Woe by William L.J. Galaini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Right up front – the author gave me a copy of this book in exchange for a review. I gave that copy away to somebody as a recommended read and bought my own so I could review it in any way I saw fit and not feel guilty about it.

And I don’t feel guilty at all.

Journey through Purgatory to Hell in a quest to get back to a loved one. Reach out because you know that somebody needs you. Sacrifice, suffer and depend on others to get to the one you love. Make that trip wrapped in emotion. That is the truth – emotion drives this story. Do not be put off by descriptions of hollowing out a person to use as a method of travel. You do know you’re headed to Hell, right?

I liked the characters and the setting. You don’t need a degree in theology to get this book. You don’t have to know Dante. While I’m certain those things help and give a little ‘bump’ to the reading experience this reads quickly and easily without those things.

I enjoyed Hephaestion as a character, but I liked some of the others more. I did relate and that made his lack of planning or his total blind spot easy to understand. I want to hear more about Boudica – there’s a lot to tell there (she’s cool!). I could see and visualize the setting easily with clear descriptions. The setting has a huge amount to offer. The description of the book includes that it is “steampunk” but I don’t know if that’s true or not. It is certainly an amalgamation of many levels of technology, but that really fits with the setting. New people arrive all the time… why wouldn’t they bring their version of war or suffering? There are unexplored powers here. There is darkness and light and everything in between.

This was an excellent book. IF you know what it is to feel the need to reach out to somebody you love because you know they need you, you will get this book. Go, read it. Buy many copies and give them out as gifts (journey to Hell as a Christmas gift? Why not?)

Join me in anticipation of the next book.

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Odd – that certainly covers it

OddjobsOddjobs by Heide Goody
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this one directly on the heels of “Mechanical Failure” and I think that timing helped. This book had some actual laugh out loud moments. The level of crazy was unexpected. I thought the idea of a secret government agency that handles monsters and such was an idea that had been played out. I was wrong. What if they know the end of the world is coming and they’re just trying to make it arrive in an orderly fashion? Sound absurd but like something you’d read? This book will be right up your alley.

I struggled with some of the Brit stuff. This book was not “translated” for Americans, so some of the names for things threw me. I figured them out from context most of the time, but it was still something that put me a bit off. IF you can live with that and want to read something funny (even the sociopath makes you want to root for her side) then go and check this out.

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Mechanical Failure

Mechanical FailureMechanical Failure by Joe Zieja
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. There were parts where I actually laughed out loud. There was a little part of me that kind of thought about Captain Lincoln F. Sternn from the Heavy Metal animated movie – only if Sternn was a wimp. There was a bag of absurd in here.

The name (and subtitle ‘please restart your warship’) says it all. IF you’re looking for something light and fun, go and check this book out. You’ll enjoy it.

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Book Reviews – Catching Up

As I said in my last post, I’ve got a back log. I’m going to go through these pretty quickly here with a few exceptions. If you’re connected to me on Goodreads, you’ve gotten most of this already.

First – Blood in the Water (Destroyermen #11) – this is going to get the review it should have months ago. I hope to link to that review here when it gets posted over at MilSciFi.

Since then I have read a bunch of other things, in no particular order:

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle – This was a reading choice from Watch the Skies and I’m really glad to have read it. I had seen the animation but never read the book itself. It was a fun book that I could share with my daughter, then re-watch the animation. Enjoyable all around if you haven’t read it.

Wool – by Hugh Howey – This was an interesting idea and a good read. I’m glad I read it. I don’t know if I’m going to continue the series, but I’m happy to have read the story. IF you enjoyed this story I think you’d really like Maria V. Snyder’s book *Inside* – really good stuff.

Time Traders by Andre Norton – I like to go back and check out classic stuff when I can. I think this came from the Baen free library (GO and check that out if you haven’t yet). A lot of the descriptions and the world political situation is dated, but it’s still worth checking out. Really, really well written.

Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos – I know a lot of folks have a lot of good things to say about this book. It seemed very OK to me. I wasn’t as excited as others seem to be. Solid military science fiction.

Master Sergeant by Mel Odom – IF the book above was “OK” this one landed in the same category, but not for the same reasons. It had a lot of world building and a lot of characters… and a lot of holes and questionable things in the world building. I think there was a lot of potential here that just missed the target.

Armada by Ernest Cline – I know that Ready Player One was aimed directly at me and I loved it. How could I resist reading this one? I couldn’t. You know what? It was predictable and not as flashy and new as some might have wanted it to be – and I still ate it up. I even think you could get away with calling this one military science fiction. IF you liked his first book, check this one out too.

Shadowed Souls (anthology) Edited by Jim Butcher – This is the newest of this list. It’s got a Jim Butcher story in it from his Dresden universe (Molly Story). It was really dark. Dark. Then I read the rest of the stories. Wow. There is some really good stuff in there. Only one story caused me trouble – I’m not going to call it out here. There are some who know and have met me in person. I’ve expressed my feelings for the particular author before and won’t do it again here. This is a worthy collection, go and check it out.

The Lost Heir by Andi O’connor – Watch the Skies had the author in for a visit and it was a great discussion. This is another I could share with my daughter.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley – This was a neat story idea and had a lot of really interesting world building in it. I enjoyed it.

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by John Ringo and Larry Correia – I like what Mr. Correia has built in his monster hunter series. I am not a fan of what Mr. Ringo did in the sand box. I was really disappointed and I don’t suspect I’m going for the next one. We’ll see.

Enter the Janitor by Josh Vogt – This was fun. Your secret monster stopping agency is… janitors. I’m not going to attempt to describe it or compare it. If you want some light fare, this is just what you’re looking for.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman – I’m glad I went back and checked out this classic. If you’re into military science fiction this is certainly one you should look up. I will admit parts were difficult for me to get through with very small parts feeling a little dated – but the ideas were certainly flowing in there. Definitely a good read.

The Chaplain’s War by Brad R. Torgersen – I had a lot of struggles with this one, but I read it a while ago now. The specifics are fuzzy. As I got toward the end of the book there were a few things that felt like they got hammered in there because the end was coming and they needed to be in. It was OK. If you’re into military science fiction it’s worth checking out because it does have some interesting points of comparison.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger – I liked it. It had a lot of potential and I don’t think it lived up to that potential. The cast of characters felt forced. Mixing alcohol as magic could have gone a lot of ways and it didn’t seem to go any of them. I haven’t tried any of the recipes in the book – and I’m not sure if I’ll get the magic if I do.

Halloween Magic, Mystery and the Macabre ed. by Paula Guran – I totally missed the boat on this one. I should have gotten the review out there before the holiday. Good mood pieces and I particularly recommend ‘The Halloween Men’ by Maria V. Snyder. Really neat idea – what if Halloween was the only day you were allowed to go without a mask?

Trampling in the Land of Woe by William Galaini – This one gets a separate and special review all by itself (I knew you’d read this far looking for it William).

I’ve got a couple more that are more recent, so I’ll go back to my regular format for those. More reviews coming soon!

Book Reviews – the backlog

I like to hear what others think of books they’ve read or would recommend to me. This is the best way for me to find new things to read. I also try to share my thoughts so others can check out the things I read and enjoy. I actually also post reviews of military science fiction over at MilSciFi.com. It’s exciting that I can do that for folks.


I have a personal philosophy about my reviews. It’s important to start by stating the fact that I am a fan first. Yes, I help to publish a monthly fanzine. It’s also true that I’m an author and artist when I can squeeze that in along with my day job. It’s important to state these things because I make every effort to be honest and fair with my reviews. If I like something, I’ll tell you. If I don’t like something, I’ll try to figure out what it is exactly that bothers me, but I’m going to say I don’t like it. I don’t intend criticism to be personal about any author. I know how hard it is to make it work when you’re writing a novel.

I intend to stick with the five star rating system. I’ve always considered stars to be very limited, but I can’t really come up with a better system on my own. I’ll make them work. I am a terrible grader, in that I don’t consider average to be a horrible thing. I don’t just give five star ratings away. I consider five stars to be something rarely achievable. I also believe a book has to have gone really wrong to end up in the one star category. I can only recall two I’ve read that have landed at a single star. Getting it really right is tough, but it’s just as challenging to get it really wrong.

An example is probably best here. I would give The Hobbit five stars. The writing style struck a chord with me. The story is one that stands up to a reread despite the fact that I read it the first time when I was nine or ten. I’ve gone back and read the book more than once. The depth of world building shows through the writing without becoming a bludgeon. I feel that is a standard for the full five star rating. It moved me. It changed something in my outlook and really made me think. I haven’t put any others up to that level yet. I say “yet” not because I haven’t read other excellent and moving books, but because I’m not going to rate backwards in time. I will only rate/review a book should I read it *again*. While I consider The Good Earth another five star book, I’m not going to put something like that out for consideration until I read it again.

Having said all that about stars, I will also be upfront about any book (or books) where my own work shows up. Pretty easy to say that a book of my own, or an anthology containing a story of mine would get a five star rating from me. You should know that up front if I expect you to care about my reviews. I’ve seen others that give everything they read a four or five star rating. I don’t give those reviews much weight. I don’t expect you would either.

That’s my non legal disclaimer. I’m a fan. I try to be fair about what I read. I can’t wait to see the next cool story headed my way.

I was supposed to review a book for MilSciFi called Destroyer Men. I got a free copy of the book and dug in. That was April. It’s now December and the phrase “what are you waiting for, Christmas?” springs to mind. I totally stalled while reading that book. It didn’t seem right to review other books when I was supposed to be doing that for a web site that was not mine and they’d given me a copy of the book and how could I bump these others…

I hit something of a mental road block. I normally post my personal reviews here and on Goodreads as I read, but I put a couple off. The couple became a few. The few became everything I’ve read since May. I should have been posting them one at a time, but now they’ve become this giant task all piled up and waiting. I’m going to cheat. I’m going to make one post here in the near future and just list them all at once. It’s the only way I’m going to catch up.

If you happen to be on Goodreads, look me up. I might post longer stuff there – maybe not – but it’s worth making the connection anyway.

Have you read anything good lately?