Caliban’s War James S. A. Corey

Filed under:Favorites,Science Fiction,Series — posted by Randolph on March 27, 2021 @ 2:56 pm

Caliban’s War is the second book in the Expanse series. In this book, some of the protomolecule is found outside of Venus. Holden accuses Fred of releasing it since he has the only known piece. This gets him fired, so he went free-lance. After contracting with Prax to find his daughter he finds himself pulled into a political struggle.

This book introduces Sgt. Roberta “Bobbie” Draker, a gunnery sergeant in the Martian marines, Avasarala, a senior politician with the UN, and Prax, a botanist from Ganymede.

Although Bobbie appeared in the last book, she becomes a major character in this volume. Her viewpoint provides a quick threat analysis of situations and creates an unstated threat to other characters.

Avasarala has a strong personality and provides an excellent political backstory to large-scale events taking place. This gives the storyline a lot of complexity. She hires Bobbie as a bodyguard and general aide. This creates tension for Bobbie, who now has allegiance to opposing sides in the war, Earth and Mars.

Prax provides a focus for the crew of the Rocinante to find his daughter. Being an expert biologist, he reveals that Ganymede’s environmental system is collapsing and that the people there cannot survive.

Through the book, the threat of Venus keeps turning up. The reader is reminded periodically that something is going on and that threat is increasing. The end of the book is a cliff-hanger with events taking place on Venus.

The relationship between Holden and Noami evolves threatening the crew of the Rocinante since Noami is a critical engineer for the crew that cannot be replaced. She also ups the tension between Holden and Fred Johnson, bringing it to a peak when Holden confronts Fred on the issue of the protomolecule.

The book is well-written. I found the narration good and fitting to the respective characters. It is very easy and pleasurable to read.

Maigret loses his temper by Georges Simenon

Filed under:Mystery,Series — posted by Randolph on January 12, 2021 @ 4:01 pm

This is my first Maigret novel and I found it enjoyable. Although there are a number of suggestions that I’m missing some elements of his character development. For one, he is working on a drinking problem. Further, the relationship with his wife suggests prior development.

In this novel, Maigret is investigating the. death of a nightclub owner. His was found two days after his death in a public place, someone killed him, kept the body and then moved it.

The deceased took an effort to remain above-board. He is clean to a whistle, family members are readily ruled out. Other related figures include other nightclub owners, a possible mob connection and his lawyer. The killer’s motive leads to Maigret losing his temper!

All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Filed under:Science Fiction,Series — posted by Randolph on January 7, 2021 @ 12:36 pm

This is the first in a series by Martha Wells. The book has won numerous awards including a Hugo and Nebula.

Murderbot is a self-given name of a security robot. It is a hybrid of cloned organic and inorganic parts that include weapons, armor and communications equipment. He has no sexuality. And the story is told in first person from his point of view. His internal dialog feels alien.

This one had a problem with its control module and was able to bypass it, giving it a certain amount of autonomy.

The story involves a science team surveying the flora and fauna on a planet. When they discover parts of the maps of the world are blank, they investigate, to discover another team that was killed by their security bots.

The planet was home to a dead civilization, someone wants to keep that secret, profits provide the motive. Murderbot comes up with a plan to keep the scientists alive, who purchase his contract and give him his freedom.

The story is short, well-told, and not predictable. It makes the me look forward to the next book.

Transformation by Carol Berg

Filed under:Fantasy,Series — posted by Randolph on April 9, 2020 @ 1:48 pm

Transformation is a fantasy novel about the relationship between a contemptuous and overbearing prince, Aleksander, on his way to becoming emperor, and his slave, Seyonne. The story is told from the Seyonne’s point of view.

Carol slowly builds the character of Seyonne. At the start of the book, he lives solely in the present, his past repressed or forgotten, the future irrelevant. It becomes apparent that he has some special abilities to recognize or see things others cannot. His magic was taken from him in a ritual when he was captured. He had been a Warden, a man with some magical abilities skilled at fighting demons.

The early story of the slave is very graphic and, for me, difficult to read. It deals with punishment, his attitude on survival and his slave past. At the same time, Aleksander sees him only as property and a tool. He things nothing of withholding food or punishing Seyonne.

Once he starts seeing things, his tie to Aleksander become stronger and their relationship really starts to develop. At this point I found the book quite compelling and easy to read.

The characters are very interesting and the story is well-told. Carol Berg has created an interesting world with full cultures that interact with the characters to help make this a fascinating story.

The Dove of Death by Peter Tremayne

Filed under:Mystery,Sister Fidelma — posted by Randolph on December 11, 2018 @ 4:21 pm


The Dove of Death  by Peter Tremayne

When returning home, Fidelma and Eadulf board a ship along with Fidelma’s cousins and diplomat. Then the ship is attacked by pirates and her cousin killed, she and Eadulf jump overboard and find themselves rescued by a monk and taken to an island.

Fidlema is duty-bound to find her cousin’s killer, with few clues other than the ship’s cat and odd comings and goings, she strings together a large collection of seemingly unrelated facts to not only discover the killer, but to uncover a conspiracy to seize power.

This is book 18 is Peter Tremayne’s series of Sister Fidelma. The series still holds my attention, this story is well-told and enjoyable.

The Dark Wind by Tony Hillerman

Filed under:Chee/Leaphorn,Mystery — posted by Randolph on October 14, 2018 @ 2:32 pm


The Dark Wind by Tony Hillerman

Jim Chee has been transferred to a team commanded by Captain Largo. His duties are to investigate the repeated sabotage of a windmill, solve the killing of a man by a witch and to solve a robbery case. When a drug-running plane crashes and several people are killed, things get more bizarre. The crash and related murders are outside of Chee’s jurisdiction, but all the events seem interrelated.

The story takes the reader into the Navajo and Hopi cultures as Chee tries to sort things out. Even the cultures are tied into the crimes.

When the solution unravels, Hillerman has intertwined everything into a fully satisfying solution.

The Barsoom Project by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes

Filed under:Adventure,Mystery,Science Fiction,Series — posted by Randolph on May 19, 2017 @ 4:16 pm


The Barsoom Project by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes

This books is a follow-on to Dream Park. In this, the Dream Park business is running a new simulation, an end-of-the world scenario with mythological connections. But things are going on behind the scenes. When a player dies before it should be possible, an investigation begins turning up murder and conspiracy – and a return character operating under an alias and with a hidden past.

The dream story is interesting. It was well-researched and involves some Inuit history and mythology, and we see the players drawn into an interesting culture.

However, I didn’t feel the story was as good as the previous one. The characters are a bit shallow, which is moderately typical for Niven. But the story is very creative, which is also typical. In the end, I didn’t feel as if everything was adequately explained, such as the code modifications which had to get around security and have a very good understanding of their technology. The mystery player seemed to be far to uninteresting in the end, she had a lot of potential and should have been more complex. With the weak ending and the lack of character development I can’t recommend this book.

Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Filed under:Science Fiction,Series — posted by Randolph on April 28, 2017 @ 3:09 pm


Bloodline by Claudia Gray

This is a story of Princess Leia’s political life. The New Republic is facing new threats from within, the Centrists, a political party wanting to increase control over the galaxy in the name of preserving peace, have created a new role of First Senator. This person has much increased power and my be one step away from another emperor.

In addition to the political issue, Leia is investigating an underground military buildup. But no one believes it is possible. With the help of a Centrist, Ransom Casterfo, they travel across the galaxy to try to find proof of the existence of this army.

I found Ransom to be an interesting and complex character. On his first meeting with Leia, he comes across as an Empire apologist. This created a lot of tension between them. Yet his complexities reveal another side to him which warrants sympathy.

I listed to the audio version of this book. I found January LaVoy to be a good reader, and Random House has done a good job in the production. They have provided good background sounds that really enhance the book experience.

even though neither the political situation nor the military situation reach resolution, the book has good characters and interesting situations. It calls for a sequel.

Myth-ion Improbable by Robert Asprin

Filed under:Adventure,Fantasy,Humor,Series — posted by Randolph on April 1, 2017 @ 2:23 pm


Myth-ion Improbable by Robert Asprin

This books is set earlier than some of the recent books, following Myth Directions. In this adventure, Skeeve gets hold of a treasure map that leads to a golden cow. At the thought of treasure, Aahz loses his senses, with Tananda, they begin a grand adventure. .

Only, the map is magical and changes as the proceed. They meet some odd characters, some peculiar dimensions. Meeting vegetarian cowboys, odd cattle, and redundant towns on their way to find gold, they face odd obstacles and find humorous solutions.

The Long Road Home by G. B. Trudeau

Filed under:Humor,Series — posted by Randolph on April 3, 2016 @ 7:23 am

The Long Road Home by G. B. Trudeau

This is a collection of cartoons relating to B.D.s recovery from an RPG attack near Fallujah. It deals with recovery issues and the loss of a limb. It also tells the story of Fisher House, a recovery house for wounded vets. It not only addresses B.D’s and Boopsie’s recovery, but addresses some of their friends. But Trudeau keeps it light, there is a suggestion we might find out what his initials stand for, and Zonker can keep any subject light.

This collection keeps its distance from politics and the stronger political characters don’t make an appearance. The book really focusses on the recovery issues without any distracting side-stories.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace