Michael's Book Reviews

Gun RunnerGun Runner by Larry Correia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thrilling sci-fi adventure! I read a review that said the reviewer considered this YA. It is not YA. The main protagonist is in his twenties. In the Prologue, he starts as a teenager, though. I love the characters; they have lots of personality. There's something to like about each one, and a lot of characters have solid backstory. The dialogue in this novel is whip-smart, which I really liked! It has an anime-inspired feel to me, with all the mecha action, giant creatures, modded/cybernetically enhanced characters, and even murderous microbots, which is a good thing! In the Author's Note, the authors said they kept asking themselves, "What's cool?" They definitely integrated and implemented a lot of cool sci-fi elements. I wonder if they intentionally incorporated anime elements. So, who is this novel for? It's for anyone, adult or teen, looking for a light-hearted sci-fi action and adventure story! And I'd say, if you're anime fan, check this out as well.

View all my reviews Dragon Two-Zero (Fury's Fire Book 1)Dragon Two-Zero by William McCaskey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

All ground-based sci-fi military action! Don't expect a lot of in-depth background story for the characters, or the enemy for that matter. This is strictly a shoot-um-up. Not saying that's a bad thing, though. It all depends on what you're looking for. The tech and arsenal the characters use were created with a lot of detail in mind and were pretty cool and rooted in believability. I enjoyed the action, and though the characters didn't have a lot of background, and wasn't needed for this type of story, I would buy the next book if there is one. If you're a fan of military sci-fi action and want to get straight to the firefights, pick this up.

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Trapped (Chaos Core, #1)Trapped by Randolph Lalonde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a novella, not a full-length novel, and a fun one at that. Great sci-fi for a short read.

The main character, Aspen, was well-written. She's a heroine on the run from a fiend who wants to essentially re-enslave her, ripping her from a life of galivanting the stars. She gets caught, reunites with the past friends, and has to escape. It's a thrill ride. I'm giving it 3 stars. It wasn't the most spectacular book I've read but definitely good for a quick read.

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Drifter's War (Drifter, #3)Drifter's War by William C. Dietz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun science fiction adventure! I enjoyed the main protagonist and his crew; they had lots of character. There are gun battles, encounters with alien species, daring rescues, and more. Good novel to suspend your imagination and just entertain yourself.

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was an awesome read! I was looking for some good urban fantasy to read and am glad I picked up this one. I love the idea that the main heroine, Cat, is an every-day college student, who happens to be one-half vampire, trying to tackle every-day problems whiles hunting bloodsuckers at night.

Cat at first sees all vampires as evil beings to be wiped out, due to the rape of her mother by a vampire, which led to her birth. But when she meets Bones, a full-blooded vampire, her biases start to evaporate. Bones, who seems to be a stuck-up, cunning vampire who wishes to keep her enslaved, turns out to be a charming, heart-warming ally in the fight against evil vampires, not those who mean no harm to humanity.

Cat eventually falls for Bones, and they form an intimate relationship as they try solve a string of female kidnappings and murders. I laughed as Cat often tried to keep her undead boyfriend a secret from her mother, I got exhilarated by the action, and was fascinated by the unique romance between Cat and Bones. Pick this book up if you're looking for some great urban fantasy that is sexy, fun, and action filled. You won't be disappointed.

The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan, #1) My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Better Part of Darkness is great urban fantasy! I love the main protagonist, Charlie: A witty, single mother working to take down supernatural criminals, who has supernatural gifts herself that she must learn to harness, control, and understand.

Not only must Charlie face supernatural problems, but personal ones as well, such as trying to take care of her daughter while dealing with Atlanta's devils. As you can imagine this isn't easy, sometimes having to leave her daughter with her magic-wielding sister, in fear of her daughter being a target for those who want to harm her. And when her daughter is nabbed by her supernatural foes, Charlie's reaction are that of what any mother might me, wanting to get the goons who nabbed her. But this mom is one powerful chick and has the power to mow through anyone or anything in her path to keep her daughter safe.

Then there's the personal problem of Charlie still having the hots for her ex-husband, who she felt betrayed by when he started practicing black magic, but he did it to try to make a better life for his family. Sometimes desperation can drive us to do foolish things. That's something we can all perhaps relate to. And I think that's one of the best things about the novel, characters remained relatable.

In short, part of this book (not all) is about a single mom facing single-mom problems, accept turned up a notch for this fictional world.

There's a lot more I could say about this book, but I'll stop here. In the end, The Better Part of Darkness is an awesome urban fantasy novel. It's got action, humor, steamy scenes, interesting supernatural chracters and a hot, witty single mom. Pick it up. Male and female readers alike will enjoy this one.

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Insurgent (Divergent, #2) My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Insurgent was a great novel. It was definitely an emotional roller coaster ride: Tris trying to cope with Will's death at her hands, and Four being reunited with the mother who he thought abandoned him to an abusive father.

It was also exciting to see relationships tested, such as the fallout between Christina and Tris over Will's death. I must admit, though, Tris and Four constantly keeping secrets from each other and not informing each other of their decisions became a little annoying at times. I understand that they sometimes withheld secrets or didn't inform each other of certain decisions to keep the other from getting hurt. But it happened a little too much to me. And relationships are supposed to be trustworthy. Then again, maybe part of the story's intrigue was them getting to that level of trust, which they seemed to have did in the end.

Overall, Insurgent was awesome. I'm not in the young-adult age range, but I enjoy a good story with well-developed characters. And that's what Insurgent offers.

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Crossover (Cassandra Kresnov, #1)Crossover by Joel Shepherd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I greatly enjoyed the author's writing. It was very detailed and exciting. I was able to envision every firefight and physical battle. The author sucks you into every page with his savvy use of words and makes it difficult for you to put the book down. And the high-tech world he created was very imaginative, some of the best world-building I've read.

This novel was also thought-provoking, as it delved into the concept of humans and artificial-intelligent androids not being too different, both having feelings and emotions. And though one is born naturally and the other created artificially, it is still the birth of a sentient, living being, and the latter should be treated and given the same rights as such.

I also loved the main protagonist, Cassandra Kresnov. She was someone who simply wanted to escape her past as a combat machine and enjoy life, but her past does not let her, as she gets sucked back into the war between the League and Federation. I was definitely emotionally invested in the main character, and that's always a plus for me, when reading a novel.

I must admit, the war between the League and Federation and the president being ousted from power and then returning became a little complicated and hard to follow at times. Nonetheless, this was an awesome novel, and I definitely intend to purchase the rest in this series.

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Of Love and Distance My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This novel is a great start from a developing author who seems to have a bright future. The main character, Lisa, is a strong-willed young woman who faces a traumatic experience that perhaps many women might be able to identify with here in the 21st century, whether from personal experience or by association with someone who has gone through such turmoil. Though this novel is a work of fiction, I believe it offers a look into the lives of women in many countries who have been victimized the same way Lisa has and the ostracization from home, family, and community that may follow. The story feels believable to the point that is seems the author perhaps knows someone who has had to endure through the same ordeal as Lisa.

I liked how in the midst of Lisa's unwanted and unexpected turmoil, she finds unintended love and romance. This is indeed a heartwarming story that will keep you hooked from beginning to end and offers a look into Indian culture as well. It is not very long, but this novel proves that good stories don't always have to be long; I'd say the length was just right for the story being told.

Personally, I would have liked a bit more description of the environment and the emotions the characters were going through. But this is my opinion, and not all may share it. Overall, this was a good romance novel. Overall, this was a good romance novel.

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Star Rider on the Razor's Edge My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Heidi Skarie is definately a talented writer, and it shows in Star Rider. This was indeed a fun, interesting novel. I found myself especially intrigued by the characters. There was a lot to like about each one. Their different personalities shined, and it was easy to become emotionally invested them. Passion, pain, sorrow, and action-packed fights are good ingredients for any novel, and this one has them all.

I must admit, it took time for me to get used to the concepts of Inner Worlds and out-of-body travel, for a sci-fi novel. And though the novel does incorporate fantasy elements, such as sorcery, I found these concepts a little too mystical and spiritual for me at first. But as I continued to read, I got used to them. I came to the conclusion that these concepts were part of what made the world of Star Rider unique and different from other novels and would not be quite the same without them. However, the spiritual/mystical concepts may not be to everyone's liking.

My biggest issue would be that some of the names of weapons and spacecraft sounded a bit platitudinal, such as “Jug 50” or “Annihilator.” But others were fine. In the end this was not a major deterrent. I continued to stay glued to every page wondering how this adventure would conclude for its heros and heroines.

Overall, Star Rider is a good novel and is definitely worth reading. There are fun moments that will make you laugh and there are moments that will keep you in suspense. The book was vividly imagined and written. Its sci-fi, fantasy, and mystical/spiritual elements combine to create a story that offers something unique, original, and different from other novels. And I will definitely pick up the next installment in this exciting series.

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Divergent (Divergent, #1) My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is a lot to like about Divergent. Veronica Roth's writing is some of the most vividly descriptive I've ever read. When reading Divergent, you can envision and see every locale and action scene.

When I read fiction, I want to be mentally transported to another world or place and feel like I was actually there after putting the book down. I want that place or world to linger throughout my thoughts. Divergent does this. And as a writer myself, Veronica Roth set a new bar for me, in descriptive quality. She really does show readers just how powerful words can be.

One of the things that makes me care about a book is if I am emotionally invested in the characters. Divergent does this as well, once again through vividly descriptive writing. Whatever a character is going through emotionally, you feel like you are going through it with them.

Speaking of characters, Tris was an awesome female protagonist. She was strong and courageous, but still had weaknesses, making her human. But what really made Tris so awesome for me is that she was a symbol. A symbol of what, you may ask. Answer: independent thinkers.

Part (not all) of being Divergent meant that Tris could not totally conform to any of the factions' train of thought. Thus, I see her as a representation or symbol of an independent-minded person. Think about it: We live in a society that seems to say we have to choose a certain train of thought, like a certain political ideology or maybe a certain religious denomination. But some people cannot or choose not to. Many people are independent thinkers, kind of like being Divergent. Tris mother even said about being Divergent: “ . . . our minds move in a dozen different directions. We can't be confined to one way of thinking, and that terrifies our leaders. It means we can't be controlled.” I thought it was cool how the novel portrayed independent-mindedness as a threat.

As I myself am an independent-minded person, I found myself loving the concept of Divergence and was able to connect with Tris and was able to relate.

I am not in the “young adult” age range. But as a lover of great novels, even if it is YA, I found Divergent to hold my interest. And it was just as thought-provoking as any novel that is not YA.

Overall, Divergent is a great book. I can see why it has such a fan base and has international acclaim. I can't wait to read the other two installments to the Divergent series, and maybe even see the upcoming movie.

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Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism: Turning believers into non-believers and non-believers into believersMany Many Many Gods of Hinduism: Turning believers into non-believers and non-believers into believers by Swami Achuthananda
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this book as a free copy.

To gain a true understanding of Hinduism, I feel as if I don't need to look any further. This book was enlightening and informative and had me glued to every page. And I found that the author describes what might seem like complex philosophies and concepts, regarding Hinduism, in a simple manner. His writing style makes this book easy for anyone to understand and very fun to read.

This book made me clearly understand how the many, many, many Gods of Hinduism are simply manifestations or representations of a whole. I also like how the author took the time out to talk about many aspects of Indian culture such as the Namaste greeting, Chakras, the bobble head, etc. And things such as the bobble head which might seem or appear to be odd will seem perfectly logical and normal and will be well-understood, after reading this book.

The author debunks any Western misguided beliefs or perceptions about Indian culture one might have. He educates you.

I could go on and on about what I liked about this book and what I learned from it, but I'll stop here. Overall, it is an excellent read for anyone wanting to know more about Hinduism. And for anyone doing research, I would say that it is a great resource. Read it for yourself and experience how good this book is, experience a part of Indian culture through well-written word.

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Unchained (Nephilim Rising, #1)Unchained by J. Lynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The action, sex, and great characters had me thrilled to the very end. Hopefully there will be a second installment.

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