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The First Marines on Peleliu and Okinawa.


With the Old Breed

Presidio Press, 1981, 326 pages



With the Old Breed is a modern classic of military history AND has been called "one of the most important personal accounts of war that I have ever read," by distinguished historian John Keegan. Author E. B. Sledge served with the First Marine Division during World War II, and his first-hand narrative is unsurpassed in its sincerity. Sledge's experience shows in this fascinating account of two of the most harrowing and pivotal island battles of the Pacific theater.

On Peleliu and Okinawa, the action was extremely fierce. Amidst oppressive heat and over land obliterated by artillery shells, the combat raged ferociously. Casualties were extreme on both sides, and by the time the Americans had broken through at Okinawa, more than 62,000 Japanese soldiers were dead. Against military policy, Sledge scribbled notes and jammed them into his copy of the New Testament. Those notes form the backbone of what Navy Times said "has been called the best World War II memoir of an enlisted man."


One of the best "War is hell" books.Collapse )

Verdict: With the Old Breed is highly recommended for anyone who is interested in World War II history, but especially for anyone who find war memoirs interesting and would like to know what war looks like to someone who's just another rifleman, not a general or a destroyer captain or a pilot, but a Marine whose job was to hack through jungles and shot and get shot at until the shooting is over. Read this book, and be grateful you will never have to go through that. 10/10.




My complete list of book reviews.
Thank you, everyone for your understanding and encouragement regarding my lack of writing. I did mean what I said about not having "quit" - it's just on an indefinite hiatus. In the meantime, writing book reviews at least has me writing something, and I do enjoy those too. So I'll try to resume those.

Collusion Stolen Souls The Final Silence


Violent Irish potboilers - the Jack Lennon seriesCollapse )

Verdict: Stuart Neville's Belfast noir series is gritty and hardboiled, sour like whiskey, violent like Belfast, tough like the Irish. I enjoyed all four books, though the first was the best, and by the fourth it was starting to show some signs of wear common to most detective series. The writing is tight and the plots never went off the rails, so it is a good series for connoisseurs of crime thrillers.

Also by Stuart Neville: My review of The Ghosts of Belfast.




My complete list of book reviews.

Where I'm at

A few people have PMed me* to ask if I'm dead or have abandoned writing, etc.

I am not dead. I have not, exactly, abandoned writing.

The same situation I have alluded to earlier in a very non-specific manner has not changed. And unfortunately, isn't likely to change in the near future. And I just can't manage to get any real writing done until there is a resolution.

(No, I'm not unemployed or terminally ill, but I just don't want to discuss real life issues.)

Sorry to be so vague, and I'm sorry I've been disappointing you for years (!) now. I really have not lost interest in writing, or finishing AQ. But it's best if you just assume there is no prospect of seeing the next volume any time in the foreseeable future. I genuinely and sincerely do want and intend to finish it someday. I just can't tell you when.


I've been avoiding LJ or even writing new book reviews because I feel so bad about not giving any news of progress on AQ. I might try to start posting book reviews again (I suppose a few people actually like those), but every time I do, I can't help feeling like I'm just disappointing all the folks who wanted to see an AQ update.

I do think about AQ every day (seriously), and now and then, I manage to add a few paragraphs, but I don't want to lead you on and make another promise about finishing it by the end of this year or at any point in the future.


* Speaking of which - agogobell, your LJ settings are on full privacy mode, which refuses all messages, so I can't reply to you.

Book Review: Dawn, by Octavia Butler

An alien race saves humanity, for its own reasons.


Dawn

Warner Books, 1987, 248 pages



In a world devastated by nuclear war with humanity on the edge of extinction, aliens finally make contact. They rescue those humans they can, keeping most survivors in suspended animation while the aliens begin the slow process of rehabilitating the planet. When Lilith Iyapo is "awakened", she finds that she has been chosen to revive her fellow humans in small groups by first preparing them to meet the utterly terrifying aliens, then training them to survive on the wilderness that the planet has become. But the aliens cannot help humanity without altering it forever.

Bonded to the aliens in ways no human has ever known, Lilith tries to fight them even as her own species comes to fear and loathe her. A stunning story of invasion and alien contact by one of science fiction's finest writers.


Alien sex and metaphors.Collapse )

Verdict: Dawn is a very interesting novel, and while I found some parts a little predictable (like almost all the other humans inevitably proving violent and untrustworthy), and the prose was sometimes so plain as to be dry, I will probably continue the trilogy. 7/10.


Also by Octavia Butler: My reviews of Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents, and Fledgling.




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Book four in the Frontlines series about a war against aliens is rather lacking in aliens.


Chains of Command

47North, 2016, 386 pages



The assault on Earth was thwarted by the destruction of the aliens' seed ship, but with Mars still under Lanky control, survivors work frantically to rebuild fighting capacity and shore up planetary defenses. Platoon sergeant Andrew Grayson must crash-course train new volunteers - all while dulling his searing memories of battle with alcohol and meds.

Knowing Earth's uneasy respite won't last, the North American Commonwealth and its Sino-Russian allies hurtle toward two dangerous options: hit the Lanky forces on Mars or go after deserters who stole a fleet of invaluable warships critical to winning the war. Assigned to a small special ops recon mission to scout out the renegades' stronghold on a distant moon, Grayson and his wife, dropship pilot Halley, again find themselves headed for the crucible of combat - and a shattering new campaign in the war for humanity's future.


Time to go nuke some traitors.Collapse )

Verdict: Chains of Command is not a good entry point into the series - start at the beginning. But this one won't let you down, even if it lacked some of the climactic moments of previous volumes. 7/10.


Also by Marko Kloos: My reviews of Terms of Enlistment, Lines of Departure, and Angles of Attack.




My complete list of book reviews.
The (kinda) former supervillain adds a few more lines to his character sheet.


Secrets of a D-List Supervillain

Self-published, 2014, 196 pages



Cal Stringel may be dead to the world at large, but a select few know that he's still alive and in control of the most powerful suit of battle armor ever created. He's part of a rogue superteam taking the world by storm and changing the dynamic for both heroes and villains alike. With change comes resistance, and those holding control and power are not ready to just hand it over without a fight.

For the former D-list supervillain, it's time to break out the spare synthmuscle, charge the massive railgun pistol, and bring the pain. With his new team, he thinks he can take on the world, but is Cal biting off more than he can chew? He must deal with sanctioned hero teams and power-mad bureaucrats on one side and the major supervillains of his world on the other.

As Cal and his allies ready themselves to face friend and foe, he will also have to deal with his relationship with Stacy Mitchell, also known as the Olympian, Aphrodite. Separated for more than a year, they've only just reunited and are faced with the prospect of being on opposite sides of the coming conflict. Can they find enough common ground between the secrets and half truths to sustain their fledgling relationship, or are they doomed like the last time to crash and burn?


Still fun, but not as solid as the first book.Collapse )

Also by Jim Bernheimer: My review of Confessions of a D-List Supervillain.




My complete list of book reviews.
A post-apocalytic dark fantasy about a twelve-year-old harper.


Black Fire Concerto

Haunted Stars Publishing, 2013, 185 pages



The Red Empress is the only home Erzelle has known since the day her family was lured aboard and murdered, victims of a grisly ritual meant to make the elite immortal. Erzelle plays her harp for the diners inside this ghoul-infested riverboat, knowing her own death looms, escaping through the music that's all she has left of her parents.

Her nightmare's upended in the space of a day by the arrival of Olyssa, a fellow musician, but so much more.

Erzelle is swept up in Olyssa's quest to find her ensorcelled sister Lilla, a journey across a mutated landscape that leads them to an enemy responsible for the deaths of millions. To stop the slaughter of countless more, the pair has no choice but to draw on the deadly magics that reshaped the world... a power that's as dangerous to its wielders as it is to its foes, that's killing Erzelle even as she fights to control it.


Atmospheric dark fantasy with music and black fire.Collapse )




My complete list of book reviews.
A brutal story about a girl with a mother who loves her but loves her abusive stepfather more.


Bastard Out of Carolina

Penguin Books, 1992, 336 pages



Greenville County, South Carolina, is a wild, lush place that is home to the Boatwright family - a tight-knit clan of rough-hewn, hard- drinking men who shoot up each other's trucks, and indomitable women who get married young and age too quickly. At the heart of this story is Ruth Anne Boatwright, known simply as Bone, a bastard child who observes the world around her with a mercilessly keen perspective. When her stepfather, Daddy Glen, "cold as death, mean as a snake", becomes increasingly more vicious toward her, Bone finds herself caught in a family triangle that tests the loyalty of her mother, Anney - and leads to a final, harrowing encounter from which there can be no turning back.


Who"s the greater villain: the victimizer or the one who stands by him?Collapse )




My complete list of book reviews.
The classic novel about Earth being invaded by pod people.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Touchstone, 1955, 228 pages



On a quiet fall evening in the small, peaceful town of Mill Valley, California, Dr. Miles Bennell discovered an insidious, horrifying plot. Silently, subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms were taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, his friends, his family, the woman he loved -- the world as he knew it.
First published in 1955, this classic thriller of the ultimate alien invasion and the triumph of the human spirit over an invisible enemy inspired three major motion pictures.


In which humans fight off an alien invasion just by being stubborn. With bonus reviews of ALL FOUR movie adaptations!Collapse )

Verdict: Body Snatchers is a classic that's worth reading for its historical impact on the genre, but it reads like what it is, a serialized 50s SF story. The four movies based on it range from good to pretty bad, and I wouldn't recommend you watch all four of them like certain obsessive book reviewers, but you should watch at least one (I recommend either the 1956 or the 1978 version). Rating: 6/10.




My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: Olympos, by Dan Simmons

God, Gods, Heroes, Robots, Monsters, Aliens, Literary References, Post-Humans, Epic SF Weirdness


Olympos

Harper Voyager, 2005, 704 pages



Beneath the gaze of the gods, the mighty armies of Greece and Troy met in fierce and glorious combat, scrupulously following the text set forth in Homer's timeless narrative. But that was before 21st-century scholar Thomas Hockenberry stirred the bloody brew, causing an enraged Achilles to join forces with his archenemy, Hector, and turn his murderous wrath on Zeus and the entire pantheon of divine manipulators; before the swift and terrible mechanical creatures that catered for centuries to the pitiful idle remnants of Earth's human race began massing in the millions, to exterminate rather than serve.

And now all bets are off.


Prospero battles Caliban, the Demogorgon strikes down Zeus, and pretty much all Greeks are assholes.Collapse )

Also by Dan Simmons: My reviews of Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, The Rise of Endymion, Ilium, and Summer of Night.




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