Interview: Scott Rhine, Author of the Military SF Novel Void Contract

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Scott Rhine. We chat about what authors we’d want by our sides in difficult times or in a classroom, first book, and plenty more. Enjoy!

1) If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

The Lost Room. My character would give out the items to people who ask me for handouts on the street.

2) If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Jaime in Game of Thrones. I would have had him realize that Brienne could rock his world.

3) What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Carrying a beeper for software customer support and having workers in India page me when they had any questions at all. It gave me an ulcer. Writing may have ups and downs, but creating relieves stress.

4) You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

Allen Steele, hard sci-fi expert who has written a lot on space.
Carl Sagan, because he knows a little about everything science and math.
Robert Heinlein because I think he actually worked with radar in WWII.

5) If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

NF
Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style”
Stephen King’s “On Writing”
Campbell’s “The Power of Myth”

SHORTS/HISTORY
Arthur C Clarke’s “Tales from the White Hart”
Asimov’s “I Robot”
Card “Ender’s Game” the short story.
Gibson “Burning Chrome”

FIC
Zelazny’s “Lord of Light” for incorporating myth.
Kress’s “Beggars in Spain” for taking a simple idea to the furthest extent.
Vinge’s “A Fire on the Deep”
Niven/Pournelle “Mote in God’s Eye”
Haldeman “There is No Darkness”
Williams “Voice of the Whirlwind”
Stephenson “Snow Crash”

mention:
Heinlein “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”
Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse 5”
Simmon’s “Endymion”
Brinn “Startide Rising”
Vance “Languages of Pao”

6) Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I correspond about once a year with LE Modesitt. I’m a huge fan. When I told him that I modeled the Batman feel of my latest novel “Quantum Zero Sentinel” after his “Flash/Archform” world, he asked me to send him a copy of the paperback.

It’s an awesome world.

7) What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

The best strategy for getting experience points in Pokemon Go. My kids both backed me against my wife, who values each monster she has nurtured and doesn’t want to trade any.

8a) Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works?

Guildenstern and Rosencrantz
The dagger in Brust’s Jhereg series

8b) What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

In “Foundation for the Lost”, Eoin goes on a front-lawn Santa hunt with a baseball bat and a pack of Guinness. I end up reading that scene when I visit the local library for events. Elves who hate Santa strike people as funny.

In “Empress of Dreams”, one of mothers of a contestant is the ultimate dirty-tricks mistress. You just have to love Lady Evershade because she is so committed and scares the tar out of the heroes. Though she is a pure product of her culture, and the ideal aristocrat’s wife.

9) What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

10) You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Ang from Last Airbender. If I could make it funny, he’d help me win.

About Author Scott Rhine:

Scott Rhine wanted to find a job that combined his love of reading with math problem solving, so he studied both short stories and computer languages. As a techno-gypsy, he worked on optimizing some of the fastest and largest supercomputers in the world. A couple of degrees, patents, and children later, at forty-eight, he still didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up. When his third publication, “Doors to Eternity,” hit #16 on the Amazon epic fantasy list, he decided to become a full-time author. Since then, each book of his “Jezebel’s Ladder” series hit the high-tech science fiction top 100. His new medical thriller, “the K2 Virus,” is his highest rated novel with the first 12 reviews ranking it five stars.

Humor is a part of every story he writes because people are funny, even when they don’t think so. In the real world, something always goes wrong and people have flaws. If you can’t laugh at yourself, someone is probably doing it for you. Strong female characters also play a major role in his stories because he’s married to a beautiful PhD who can edit, break boards, and use a chainsaw.

Website | Facebook

Synopsis of Void Contract:

Max Culp escaped his low-tech home world by serving in the marines as a medic. Unable to adapt to civilian life as a medical intern, he joined Special Forces to track down the Phib war criminals who caused his recurring nightmares. By the time the final Phib is captured, Max has become an urban legend among the aliens. He isn’t sure how to apply those skills to a new life until someone kidnaps his last surviving friend.

Audible ~ Amazon

Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey

Narrator: Jefferson Mays

Publisher: Recorded Books (2012)

Length: 19 hours 50 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Expanse

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 in the series and really should be enjoyed after having read Book 1.

Several months have passed since the events of Leviathan Wakes. Holden and crew are now working for Fred, basically being his enforcers in their sleek Martian ship the Rocinante. In fact, they’ve become rather humdrum about having to deal with space pirates. The ship’s broken coffee maker is a bigger nuisance than space pirates! But then something horrible happens on Ganymede, the bread basket for the Belters and stations. Holden and his crew are drawn into some protomolecule nastiness and they might not survive as a whole.

Book 1 was really good and Book 2 surpasses that. There are so many great points about this book. First, my only complaint from Book 1 has been addressed. We have more female characters and they affect the plot! Yay! Chrisjen Avasarala is a cross between a Spy Master and a top-notch politician. She’s got her reasons for going after the goals she sets and she’s got a harsh mouth. I loved her commentary. Then’s there’s Bobbie, a Mech Warrior with the Mars Military. She’s a very large Polynesian woman, all muscle with a good balance of brains and skills. Naomi didn’t shine as brightly for me in this book, but I didn’t agree with all her choices. That’s OK; I don’t have to agree with all the heroes to enjoy the book.

Amos got some depth on him and there were several great scenes with him. That canned chicken scene still stands out. Amos likes to fight but he also uses his violence as a tool. He’s not just some angry brawler. We still haven’t gotten much on Alex but he did get some good jokes now that there’s another Martian for him to joke around with. Jim Holden is still the central character and I enjoyed they various scenarios he’s put in that make him question his ethics.

So let’s talk about that protomolecule that everyone thought was safely locked up and in Fred’s custody. Well, somehow somewhere someone got their hands on some and started doing experiments with it. Now Ganymede is another goo zone. Prax, a botanist living on Ganymede before the incident, is desperately searching for his daughter. The crew of the Roci get pulled into this affair and Prax temporarily becomes both part of the crew and a paying customer.

There were so many moments in this book where I thought for sure we’re going to lose this character or that one or a planet or a spaceship. Mobile protomolecule monsters! Plenty of political intrigue. One man very determined to make life tough for everyone. The hunt for Prax’s kid, Mei.

The ending held some surprises. It closed out the big events for this book but set us up for the next one. There’s a character that’s back which I didn’t expect. Also, there’s big stuff happening on Venus and it looks like humanity will finally have to do something about it.

The Narration: Jefferson Mays continues to do a really great job with this series. I love his accents for Avasarala (Indian) and Alex (Texan). His female voices sound like ladies. He’s able to keep all the characters distinct and he pulls off the big and nuanced emotions alike.

What I Liked: Holden and his crew are more cohesive; space pirates!; mobile protomolecule monsters!; the hunt for Mei; Avasarala’s potty mouth; Bobbie’s skills; the ending wraps up some things while setting us up for more; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – a lot of fun!

What Others Think:

Fantasy Book Review

SFF World

Geekritique

The Book Smugglers

Beer Rants & Books

Obsessive Book Nerd

Elitist Book Reviews

Adventures in ScFi Publishing

Caliban’s War Part IV

The read along of Caliban’s War, Book 2 of The Expanse is off and running! I’m a bit late in posting but this is an awesome group that isn’t rigid about such things. Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering Chapters 43-END, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. Bobbie’s idea turns out to be sneakier than I expected! Do you think this is a case of brains as well as muscle power, or is she learning a thing from Avasarala?

Yes, definitely. Bobbie has been watching Avasarala maneuver and I think this has pushed her to rely on more than her mech suit and military training (tho both serve her quite well). I don’t expect she will ever become the great political chess master that Avasarala is, but she’s learning to step outside her comfort zone.

2. The crew split up to take on various missions, all different but all important. Holden, Prax, Bobbie… Which final battle POV sticks with you most, and why?

I was holding my breath until they found Mei as I was definitely concerned that she was a goo monster. I was also worried that Holden wouldn’t make it through this book. I agree with him shooting what’s his face on the ship instead of negotiating with him. Time was of the essence and I felt that man needed to be executed by someone. I hope Bobbie gets a new mech suit.

3. “What’s that?” What indeed. What do you make of whatever the heck just lifted off from Venus, and where do you think it’s going?

Oh my! I think it’s headed for either Mars or Earth. I expect it’s a giant protomolecule ball built to infest whatever it lands on. I really hope they can stop it. If not, humanity will either fall or expand further out into the galaxy… and since the series is called The Expanse…. well, that Mormon generation ship may well be more important than we first thought.

4. Speaking of what was on Venus, let’s discuss THAT ending. When you’re done (presumably) flailing, of course… Thoughts? Reactions? Theories?

Yeah! WTF? Either Holden is starting to lose it and his mind is doing it Miller fashion because that’s the best example it has or he really does see some version of Miller. Could the protomolecule have psychic abilities? Who knows. Either way, I’m intrigued and in many ways it’s good to have Miller back in the mix because he balances out Holden’s Justice For All attitude with a solid dose of reality.

Other Tidbits:

I love Bobbie’s banter with Holden’s crew. She jokes with Alex and calls Amos out on his open appreciation of her battle suit one piece.

I want to hug Avasarala for giving her backing to Prax, ensuring him and his daughter have a secure future.

I hope Bobbie stays with the crew even if she and Alex never hook up.

The crowd funding campaign for Prax to find his daughter was awesome, though I don’t like how his wife tried to turn it (I expect she was both threatened and paid to do so).

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Caliban’s War Part III

The read along of Caliban’s War, Book 2 of The Expanse is off and running! I’m a bit late in posting but this is an awesome group that isn’t rigid about such things. Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Sarah at The Illustrated Page is our host. We’re covering Chapters 28-42, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1) So a lot happened this week! What do you make of all the POV characters meeting up? Do you think there will be any new additions to the crew of the Rocinante?

I was hoping that Avasarala would join the group at some point. The Rocinante needed someone with great swearing abilities! But I doubt that she will end up staying with the crew long term. She doesn’t really like changing gravity, does she? Also, she’s got her career (which might be on the rocks at the moment but she could have a come back).

I half hope that Meng will join the crew. I think the crew could really use a botanist/scientist on the crew, especially with the possibility of more unexpected labs holding bits of the protomolecule.

2) Holden has had some self realizations. Do you think he’ll really change his ways? And how does it tie into the new decisions for the Rocinante?

I’m on the fence about this one. Yes, he’s not the great thinker he was in Book 1 but is he a violence-happy man? No. Amos enjoys violence a lot more than he does, tho we do see him using it judiciously here (like when he insults the port security so they don’t notice how nervous Holden is). I felt a lot was made of this little storm in a tea cup.

3) What do you think they’ll find on Io?

Goo. Lots of dangerous goo. And hopefully clues to finding Mei. I really hope she isn’t one with the goo.

4) Apparently, the UN was involved after all, and now Avasarala’s been out maneuvered! But Bobbie thinks she has a plan to save their skins. Any ideas what her big revelation was? And do you think they’ll succeed?

I really like how Avasarala can reflect on the ‘how’ of being outmaneuvered and still keep her eye on the ball – she’s moving forward. Bobbie has a mech suit. I think she’s going to go all Iron Man on us. Yay! I do hope they succeed and I think they will win this one but will they both survive the end of this book? Not sure. After all, the first time I read Book 1 I didn’t expect Miller to go out in a blaze of glory.

Other Tidbits:

I think it’s very telling that Amos chooses to stay with Holden instead of following Naomi off the ship. I think she’s leaving for the wrong reasons and it’s more about her instead of it being all Holden.

Bobbie is my new favorite hero.

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Leviathan Wakes Part IV

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Sarah at The Illustrated Page is our host. We’re covering Chapters 44-END, so be prepared for spoilers below!

 

1. So first off, what do you make of what Miller found inside Eros?

What a big gooey mess! For whatever reason, this alien protovirus (?) had enough time to bond with Julie to the extent that some of her personality and intelligence is now melded with it. It’s a sentient life of sorts and if this was Star Trek, then we’d have to preserve it, coddle it, give it a name… unless it had a Borg-like need to assimilate all known life.

I still feel that folks are jumping to conclusions about what this thing is.. but they had to in a way just to make decisions about what to do with it. I hope we get more science on it in the next book.

2. Was Miller’s end a noble sacrifice or was it the act of a suicidal man? Is Holden right in wanting Miller to be presented as a person, not a symbol?

I think Miller had suicidal tendencies for some time now, perhaps even before we meet him. Recall he used to talk to his ex-wife’s image at the beginning of the story the same way he came to talk to Julie’s image. However, something always held him back from doing something truly suicidal, so I think he needed to make a difference for someone somewhere before he gave up the ghost.

I love Holden’s insistence that Miller be presented as a real person (which makes me think of Speaker for the Dead) but I also think Earth, Mars, and the Belt are headed for war. Perhaps the right symbol would help stop that, or at least minimize the body count.

3. Do you believe war between Earth, Mars, and the Belt is inevitable? Will the they achieve peace, even peace for now?

We haven’t really seen Mars and Earth in this book but the Belt and even Mars talk as if Earth (and the Moon) are the rich, opulent neighborhood, Mars is for the mid-economy folks, and the Belt is for the poor grunts working their lives away. However, we see that there’s those that are better off than others within the Belt and I suspect that’s going to be the same for Mars and Earth… but will Earth have slums? Hmmm…  Anyway, perception really counts here and is a major factor in the brewing war. Belters can’t live on Earth without some serious medical care (since they grew up in a much lower gravity) but Earthers can travel the solar system and do OK. I think the best the Belters can hope for is better trade agreements with Earth and Mars. They can’t successfully invade and take over, nor can they break off completely from the two and survive for more than a generation.

4. Do you have any predictions for the next book? Things you want to see more of or find out about?

I too would like to see the fish farms in space. I saw a documentary about tilapia farms in the desert, so I expect some of the same techniques are used.

I’ve watched the first season of The Expanse and it takes things from Book 2, mostly the Earth politics (according to my man who’s caught up on the books). So I look forward to reading about that.

I’d also like to know more about Alex, especially with war brewing. Will he feel loyalty to Mars and decide to leave the crew?

Of course I want to see what happens with the Julie/Miller/Alien mashup. It’s already making crystal towers so I wouldn’t be surprised if it started talking soon.

Other Tidbits:

If Julie and the alien virus are now besties, what about those people on the ship which is now in the hands of Fred and OPA? Did they not have enough time to bond with it? Julie took care to reduce heat and radiation exposure, so perhaps that is what made it possible for her. But perhaps when they thaw those folks, they will get a nasty surprise, right?

I loved Amos’s response to Holden and Naomi being in a relationship. Ha!

Throughout this book, I have noticed these little snippets that I think could be nods to other great scifi works. Near the beginning of the book, there was a reference to voices in the whirlwind (a Walter Jon Williams novel), then this thing with Miller being seen as a real, flawed human in death (Speaker for the Dead), and finally this line about ’till human voices wake us’, which is the title for 1 scifi novel and 2 short SF stories by various authors. Did anyone else catch such nods?

I did feel a bit sorry for the Mormons losing their big generation ship, especially since it missed it’s mark and didn’t get to be a big piece of saving the solar system.

 

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. Also, we’re planning the group read for Book 2. So check over there for updates.

Leviathan Wakes Part III

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More is our host. We’re covering Chapters 29-43, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. After a skin-crawling start, our crew get back into space with information in their back pocket – and our two POV characters disagree on whether it should be shared. What do you think?

Right now, I agree with Miller. From the start, Holden only had a piece of info, one at a time. He’s been sharing with everyone as he comes upon stuff instead of collecting all the data, analyzing it, and then sharing the findings. At first, I think part of this sharing (like the Martian bomb) was to keep himself and his crew alive. But it’s lead to widespread riots and now a war. So at some point, Holden should have noticed that his efforts to keep the solar system in the loop was just leading to more deaths. Now they have all the info but things are already in motion. Sharing this info and implications now won’t matter to many folks because they have already made up their minds, some have committed acts of war, and they have taken sides.

2. The villain is unmasked! What did you make of Antony Dresden’s little speech?

He liked having power and this gave him a supreme excuse to wield that power.

On the other hand, he does have a point about some alien race planting the Phoebe Bug in our solar system as much as 2 million years ago.

On the other hand, (and yes, now I have 3 hands, so I guess I caught the Phoebe Bug!) do we really know that the Bug was intended as a weapon? Was it really placed in our solar system intentionally? And does that alien race even exist anymore? So many questions! And because we don’t have those answers, Dresden’s ‘justification’ for his actions don’t hold water.

3. After the action, we get another round of comparative morality: this time on the act of killing. Whose view do you sympathize with more (and why)?

While Holden had the right to kick Miller off his ship and crew, I can’t say that Miller was wrong in this case. This Bug scares people, even hardened folks. Dresden is smooth, assured, convincing. If he wasn’t executed then and there, he would have ended up helping one faction or another gain control of the Bug and use it for their purposes. Plus, Dresden wasn’t disgusted or disturbed or regretful over his actions. He wasn’t going to change as long as he lived. I grieve for Miller and what this act cost him.

4. Somehow, this rollercoaster isn’t over yet. What do you expect from the final act?

I recall some of the big things that happen in this last section. Let’s just say I’m very much looking forward to seeing what you all think and then also reading book 2. I hope everyone would like to continue the series.

Other Tidbits:

Amos and Miller are similar in many ways. Amos has a limited moral compass but he has put his trust in Naomi, and to some extent Holden. If Naomi tells him to do something, or not do something, he obeys. Amos is using Naomi as his moral guidance. Without that, he could be Miller. I think Miller might be seeking that in Holden but he’s got this ghost Julie in his head that could be pushing him towards retribution.

Who else cheered when Naomi turned Holden down? Who else groaned a little in dismay when she invited him over for the night?

I love all the medical science bits concerning the radiation sickness and continuing treatment.

That story about the cheese! Did anyone else picture the crew of the Firefly sitting around in the galley having a meal and sharing stories?

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Leviathan Wakes Part II

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Sarah at The Illustrated Page is our host. We’re covering Chapters 15-28, so be prepared for spoilers below!

The plot thickens! Do you think the sickness has anything to do with what we saw in the prologue? And who ordered it to be incubated? What’s their end goal?

Yes, I believe the sickness has something to do with whatever Julie saw int he prologue. It’s either something crazy man-made bacteria or virus or possibly something alien. I expect that someone wants to monitor it while it does what it does and that’s why we have all the observation equipment on the station. I forget who ordered this devious incubation.

What’s your current take on the POV characters? Think they’ll continue to work together? Is Miller crossing a line in this section?

While Holden seems a bit strained by Miller’s casual violence, I think these two can continue to work together. After all, Holden has been working months with Amos, who has that simmering violence just beneath the surface at all times.

I do recall some of the big things that happen next, so it’s hard for me to say that Miller has crossed a line, though I really do like that he is pondering that same question himself. Since he’s even bothering to ask that question, I still put him on the Good Guys List. Besides, his casual yet specific violence has kept Holden and his crew alive so far.

James S.A. Corey’s set up an entire futuristic solar system. What’s your favorite part about it so far?

I’ve had the pleasure of listening to the authors talk about this futureistc solar system a few times at Bubonicon in Albuquerque. Ty Franck originally created this future solar system for a computer game, but that deal fell through. So he teamed up with his friend Daniel Abraham to create this series and I’m very glad he did. I really appreciate these guys doing a very good job of keeping real physics and the difficulties of space travel and colonization in mind and how that affects humanity over time.

So Miller found Julie. Do you think this effectively ends her involvement, or is there more to learn about her?

Well, Julie’s physical self has been out of the game for some time but now we still have her ‘ghost’, so to speak, that has been in Miller’s head for several chapters now. I expect that Miller will continue to look to Julie Ghost for guidance and possibly reassurance.

Other Tidbits:

Naomi and karaoke!

There were several references to aching balls in this section, whether from high G or from a dedicated whorehouse.

I have forgotten what’s on that little black info box the Martian Navy guy had. But now I’m really curious. After all, we still have half the book.

While I didn’t particularly care for Don Quixote, I do love the name Rocinante.

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Bookish Giveaway & Review: War of the Worlds: Retaliation by Mark Gardner & John J. Rust

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Samuel E. Hoke III

Publisher: Article94 (2017)

Length: 7 hours 38 minutes

Gardner’s Page ~ Rust’s Page

Starting in 1898 with the final throws of the Martian invasion, humanity is at a breaking point. However, the human bacteria prove deadly to the Martians and on mass, they die, leaving their advanced technology for the humans to scavenge. Skipping ahead to 1924, the world leaders have decided it’s time to take the fight to Mars and a massive invasion is launched.

I’m a fan of HG Wells’s works, including the original War of the Worlds. So of course I was thrilled to dive into a novel that told a story of what humans did afterwards. How does a failed Martian invasion change the course of humanity’s history? Gardner and Rust give a decent answer to that question.

I think this book would have extra interest to those who have studied WWI. There’s plenty of European and North American names to recognize in this novel such as Charles de Gaulle, Rommel, George Patton, and so on. You don’t have to be particularly knowledgeable about any of these historical figures to enjoy their characters in this tale. I was a bit surprised that the Asian countries weren’t represented at all. Also, since it was a world wide Martian invasion in 1898, I was initially hopeful to see how that great leap in tech affected many of the countries in Africa and South America. Alas, those continents are barely mentioned.

There’s plenty of great tech in this tale. First, I really enjoyed that some tested and true war machines of WWI were in this book, like the Fokker airplanes. There’s also some brand new vehicles made especially for the Martian invasion. However, I did notice that the physics of Mars was skimmed over when it came to actual battles.

Now, let me get out my little polished soap box. There is exactly 1 female character (Nurse Hill) in this entire book and she doesn’t appear until the last hour of the story and she isn’t plot relevant at all. There’s a few other ladies mentioned as wives or mothers. This pains me. Here we are in this fascinating science fiction novel that’s essentially about the survival of the species, and the women aren’t present. Sigh…

OK, so moving on. I loved that we got a look into Martian society through the Martian characters. Their society is suffering from stagnation and the inability for their leaders to admit that there’s a real threat coming from Earth. I really enjoyed watching the various Martians struggle with this.

The pacing of the story is good with strategy, reflection, and action all well intermingled. I never suffered from battle fatigue nor did I feel that the story bogged down here or there. As an aside, I liked that Hitler was receiving psychiatric help and was an exceptionally minor character in this book.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Samuel Hoke was a very good fit for this story. He performed several different accents as needed and was consistent with them throughout the story. Each character was distinct. 

What I Liked: We’re invading Mars!; fun technology; we get the Martian viewpoints; several historical figures make appearances; a worthy ending.

What I Disliked: Almost no women; Africa, Asia, and South America are barely mentioned; physics of Mars is skimmed over.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Mark Gardner:

Mark Gardner is a US NAVY veteran. He lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degree in Computer Systems and Applications, and is the Chief Operator for an Arizona radio group.

Website ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

About Author John J. Rust:

John J. Rust was born in New Jersey. He studied broadcasting and journalism at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey and the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York. He moved to Arizona in 1996, where he works as the Sports Director for an Arizona radio group.

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Synopsis of War of the Worlds: Retaliation:

1898: Martian tripods lay waste to Earth’s cities. The world’s armies are unable to stem the tide of destruction. When all hope appears lost, common bacteria kills the alien invaders. From the ashes, the human race uses the technology left behind by the Martians to build new, advanced weapons.

1924: Armed with their own spaceships, tripods, and jet fighters, the nations of the world are ready to take the fight to Mars. George Patton, Erwin Rommel, Charles de Gaulle, and Georgy Zhukov lead their troops in battle across the red planet to end the alien menace once and for all. But the Martians have one last, desperate plan to try, and if successful, it could mean the end for all humanity.

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Samuel Hoke III:

Samuel E. Hoke III is a 6’0″ Scorpio who summers in Virginia with his wife two amazingly wonderful black cats named Inca and Maya. In the winter they all head to central  Florida. Samuel is a veteran of the corporate world including IBM and Bank of America he now pursues his lifelong passion of acting.

Samuel has a Bachelors degree in Liberal Studies from Norwich University and an MBA in Global Technology Management from American University. He also conducted a Pre-Doctoral studies in Strategic Leadership at Cornell University. Samuel enjoys Rock and Roll music, photography, fast cars, and international travel.

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Leviathan Wakes Part I

The read along of Leviathan Wakes, Book 1 of The Expanse is off and running! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along. I’m listening to the audiobook, so apologies for any misspellings.

This week, Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow is our host. We’re covering Chapters 1-14, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. First impressions! We’re given two main POVs here, a lot of important information, and a big fat (intriguingly political) murder mystery in space. What’s your take on the setup so far?

I think there’s too many cooks in the kitchen. Perhaps one hand doesn’t know what the other 6 are doing. So the Canterbury is annihilated and that gets broadcast everywhere and perhaps multiple groups see it as a sign to act, and then of course we have government agencies reacting to try to tamp things down. While I read this book several years ago, I truly have forgotten a lot of the details. I would be delighted to find out that there’s some mastermind orchestrating everything but odds are against that.

2. Regarding the narrative: we get the bulk of the story so far from the POVs of Miller and Holden. What do you think of each character, and how do you think they compare to one another? Do you think their paths might cross or are we looking at more of a Game of Thrones style approach to the story’s arc? For that matter, which might you prefer?

I think it’s giving us a good balance of what space freighter life is like versus a stable space station existence. Really, we just need someone living on a planet that has a sky (even if you can only see it thru a bubble) to complete the picture. Holden seems like an upright, always attempt to do the right thing kind of guy. Miller’s morals are more flexible but his core seems to be good; he always works towards stability of his little home station Ceres (spelling?). I do recall the answer to whether or not they will meet in this book, so I will hold my tongue on that.

3. Let’s talk about Julie Mao, and THAT prologue. Given what we know about her by the end of chapter 14, do you think Julie might just be a victim of circumstance or is she more deeply involved in whatever is going on?

Now Julie’s story arc for this book I do recall. Let’s say there’s more going on here than nearly anyone knows and Julie is caught up in it, partly due to her own actions and partly due to other people’s goals.

4. Chapter 14 ends with Miller contacting Julie’s father; do you think his hunch about dear old Dad knowing some things is right, or should he listen to Shaddid on this one?

Tough question! So for my entertainment, of course I want Miller to keep digging and find a way to Julie. However, for his own safety and a future that involves decent medical coverage, I would tell him to drop it.

Other Tidbits:

I love all the bits of SF throughout the book. This isn’t just some light-hearted space opera. This story has real cutting edge tech to far flung hypothetical stuff. The sense-heightening lozenges that the Mars Military guy used when chatting with Holden is a good example.

Back when I first read this book in 2013, I was a bit sad that there weren’t any major female characters. There are several good secondary female characters and my Bill, who has read the rest of the series, says the female characters do get more prominent even with Book 2. So I find myself paying more attention to them during this reread.

And here is the current list of participators:
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Sarah at The Illustrated Page
Imyril at There’s Always Room For One More
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well.

Giveaway & Review: Kill and Run by Lauren Carr

Scroll to the bottom to check out the Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Narrator: C. J. McAllister

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2016)

Length: 11 hours

Series: Book 1 thorny Rose Mysteries

Author’s Page

Set in modern day Washington D.C., a serial killer has just taken out five women. As Murphy Thornton digs into it, more possible victims are discovered as the pattern becomes clear. He will need the help of his stepmom Cameron Gates to untangle this mess!

While there were plenty of things I liked about this book, I often felt that I needed two maps – one for the family tree of all the relatives involved in this story and the second for all the different military and state police groups involved. Basically, I could tell that our main characters had to be very careful of stepping on toes no matter what they did.

Now that I have that little criticism out of the way, here’s the good stuff. I really liked how deep this mystery went. There were plenty of people involved and the events span years. Now there’s a young girl, Izzy, in danger. She was a real treat, being the animal lover that she is. I was on the edge of my seat sometimes hoping things would work out ok for her.

There’s a little romance here as there are a few couples involved in solving the crime. Murphy, who is working with the NCIS, and his wife Jessica Faraday are newlyweds and still figuring out some of their longer term goals. Incidentally, Jessica is related to the main Faradays in Carr’s other mystery series – The Mac Faraday Mysteries.

Cameron Gates, a police detective, lost her first husband to a hit and run many years ago. She since has remarried to Joshua Thornton (a JAG lawyer), Murphy’s dad. As that hit and run is revisited, Cameron and Joshua are drawn into this mystery as well. Cameron and Joshua have their own mystery series that I am sorely tempted to check out – Lovers in Crime Mysteries.

With this talented cast, we need equally devious and dedicated criminals to make a good story and Carr doesn’t disappoint there. A string of rapes is soon connected to certain men rising in the military. Now some of those women are dead. There’s a killer on the loose who is also a sexual predator. It was pretty intense towards the end complete with car chases.

I liked that not every thing came out all rosy. The true villains at the hear of it got most of what they deserved but the good guys didn’t get all they asked for. I like how that reflects life sometimes. With yet another generation of this tangled family setting up for a love match, I had the distinct feeling the author was prepping us for another spinoff mystery series. Hooray!

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: C. J. McAllister did an OK job. The narration started off pretty bland but got better throughout the book. At first, the narrator sounded a bit bored but later on he seems to get into the story and the narration picks up. Also, from the voice acting I thought Murphy was much older and then his dad Joshua is brought into the story and Joshua’s voice sounded about the same or younger to me. The ladies voices were distinct and a somewhat feminine. He did do a really good job with young Izzy.

What I Liked: A deeper mystery; ties in characters from other mystery series; the ending isn’t all roses; Izzy stole the show.

What I Disliked: I needed a family tree to keep it all straight; I needed a military/state jurisdictional map.

Check out more reviews, interviews, spotlights, and more on the blog tour.

 

Synopsis of Kill and Run:

Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.

Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.

The case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.

In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, the Lovers in Crime join newlyweds Lieutenant Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday to sift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives of the Thorny Rose uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?

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About the Author Lauren Carr:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

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