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Books Read 2018

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Kasey Chang
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Kasey Chang » Fri Dec 14, 2018 5:12 am

Finished the entire Kutherian Gambit series of 21 books. I was buying the books one at a time for like $5, then I said f*** that and paid for Kindle Unlimited. :)

The first 7 (first arc) was excellent. The second arc (8-14) was pretty good. Third arc is getting a bit weird, good but weird.

I know I've reviewed the book before, but here's a recap. Everything you know about vamps and weres were... wrong. Aliens known as Kutherians find races to manipulate to play some sort of galactic chess against each other for amusement. The twelve split into two factions... Evil Seven, and Benevolent Five. One of the Five crashed on Earth thousand years ago. When an injured human stumbled upon him up in the Carpathian mountains of Romania, the first vampire, Michael, was born. But due to misunderstanding of human physiology, and Michael's escape, the "enhancements" are incomplete, resulting in defects such as the need to drink blood and so on. What really happened is alien nanocytes are working within the body. In the present day, Michael had tried to keep the Unknown World hidden, but even he admits he needed help, and a young woman dying of inoperable cancer called Bethany Ann, is his choice... And Michael, Patriarch of vampires, has gone missing...

Let's just say the first 7 books is Bethany Ann learning her powers, and started to build the global organization, clean up the were and vamp communities around the world, while setting the stage for second arc. Second arc is building TQB Enterprises, the company that will eventually take everyone out of the atmosphere, but also fighting various hostile agents and governments, while taking down hostile secret organizations like Majestic-12. Third arc is they finally leave earth and fight aliens, "conquering" alien kingdom (who's actually a Kutherian puppet), fight space battles, and eventually return to earth.

First arc, with ass-kicking on Earth, is excellent. Second arc seems to be more about geopolitics, and while there are some ass-kicking, it feels more "reactive". Third one, where they have to push Bethany Ann's powers to practically god-like powers (ability to throw energy balls, punch people into alternate dimensions, walk through alien dimensions, etc.) giving her a challenge is a bit of meh, enough so that she had to invent an Avatar "Babba Yagga" to go scare bad guys with when she doesn't want to be Empress. Still, it's good reading.

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Finished the entire Terry Henry Walton Chronicles 11 book series

This is an offshoot/collab in the Kutherian Gambit universe. After Bethany Ann and her fleet left Earth (at the end of 2nd arc) a few years went by, then some fighting triggered third world war, and EMP fried everything, and world entered 2nd dark age, known as "World's Worst Day Ever" (WWDE) with collapse of civilization and most of technology. Terry Henry Walton was one of the enhanced humans that survived (but his wife and daughter did not) and after living in the wild for years, he rejoined civilization by helping out a small Colorado town, helped their trek northeast to resettle around Chicago, and setup a paramilitary force with garrison around the world to help fight forsaken (evil vamps) and were's, as well as bad humans. The 11 book arc covers over 100 years (with nanocytes, they live couple hundred years easy). Post-apoc stories are interesting. Post-apoc storeis with weres and vamps? Fantastic. Again though, the first couple books are pretty good, but later books start to wander a bit, as we got more and more characters to cover (children, grand-children, some enhanced, others not, extra characters, their mates, etc.)

Book 11 seems to be a collection of deleted scenes from other books.

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Finished Second Dark Ages which is yet another Kutherian Gambit offshoot. 150 years after Bethany Ann left Earth, Michael, who managed to shift into the Etheric dimension just before a backpack nuke exploded, was able to return. But the civlization had collapsed after "World's Worst Day Ever" (WWDE), and now humans exist in isolated pockets, and honor is nearly nonexistent... And Michael is determined to bring justice and honor back to Earth... and he's now the Dark Massiah.

Basically, he became a knight errant, killing bad guys, cleaning up towns, and so on and so forth. He even started wearing a trench coat and a cowboy hat. After helping Valerie (see below) in New York, he heads to Europe to deal with a problem he left undone centuries ago... that came back to haunt him. But he has help, two "wards" (proteges) he picked up, and Akio, one of Queen Bitch's elite guards, and other help.

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Currently reading another Kutherian Gambit offshoot: Reclaiming Honor series.

Valerie, "vamp daughter" of "The Duke", was left for dead by her "vamp brother Donovan", after showing honor and mercy toward humans. Her maid/companion saved her, and they chose to cross the Atlantic and head for the US, hoping to stop the pending invasion of the US by the Duke, lead by none other than her brother Donovan. They encountered Diego, a were-cat shifter and chose to journey together to New York. But the US they encountered is just as broken... Human CEOs use weres to hunt down vamps and drain their blood (as bloodbags) for aphrodisiacs and more...

Valerie managed to clean up enough of New York... just when Donovan and invasion fleet arrived with vamps and nosferatu (basically fast zombies) and Valerie have to duel Donovan, just when Michael, the first vamp, arrived, and forced them to have a "fair" duel, which Valerie won, and Michael "fixed" her to be a daywalker with extra power, and appointed her to fix up the US while he deal with the problem in Europe (i.e. the Duke). The rest of the series (just finished book 5) is her dealing with internal and external threats, have to leave a love interest behind, fake her own death, destroy the blood trade, and take out pirate hangouts.
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Kasey Chang » Wed Dec 19, 2018 12:00 pm

Still reading the offshoot from the Kurtherian Gambit series.

Finished the entire Reclaiming Honor series (8 books), where Valerie cleaned up bad guys in America and Canada, and went as far as Greenland chasing down pirates.

Finished the entire Theric Academy series (4 books), where a new class of cadets got into trouble one way or another, sort of YA version of KGU.

Finished Trials and Tribulations series (3 books), set during the "Lost Years" where TQB Enterprises (Bethany Anne's company) tries not to offend people on Earth while it prepares to depart, but Terran governments and power-hungry individuals tries, nonetheless, to "compel" release of tech. In this case, Stephen, one of the vampires, heard an unsettling rumor... Someone is capturing weres... a whole clan at a time, and so far the only clue is howling in the night from a castle on Bulgaria. Someone with resources wants to turn weres into supersoldiers... // Pretty good intrigue and evil scientist thing.


Finished "Live Free or Die" yet another KGU offshoot (3 book series), except this time, it's... zombies?! Someone unleashed some sort of nanocyte virus in the dark ages (200 years after WWDE) and turned a few individuals into zombies, typical zombie behavior (headshot, feel no pain, scratches and such transmits, etc.) while Ryder, a girl disguised as a guy and trying to survive in a vampire's doomsday bunker (6 levels filled with people as his personal experiments and feeding grounds) engineered her escape and was rescued by a were that's losing his ability to shift, a vegetarian vampire (!?), and a whole slew of other badasses, and over the series, they take the fight to the vampire, while fighting off the "mad" (zombie horde) and fight their way into the bunker (which has its own infection problem) and liberate the population... and defeat the evil vampire by the name of Afana. It's pretty good, if a bit change of pace.

Finished Whiskey Tango Foxtrot books 1-3 by W L Lundy. It's a zombie novel... What if ISIS, in their desperation, launched a bio attack, except instead of ebola or such, they unleashed zombies instead? Military units are cut off across the world, and struggles to survive and hit the evacuation point, while trying to avoid being overrun by "primal" zombie hordes. A MRAP crew found itself alone and had to make friends with smugglers. An elite SEAL squad found itself stranded onboard an oil platform with God knows how many zombies below... Good tales with twists. Primals gets smart"er" alphas that seems to have some brain power left.
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Kasey Chang » Sat Dec 22, 2018 9:57 am

Reading another KGU offshoot: Superdreadnought series -- space opera 3 book series (so far)

SD Reynolds has been sent to explore a new galaxy... and seek out Kutherians (and destroy them). However, he's but one ship, so he needs a crew, and with bots, he got one... And liberated a couple planets in the process, but its enemy is a Kurtherian with a planet believing in its God-like powers... and plenty of tech that may rival the SD in firepower... There's obviously more to come.

Think of it as Star Trek with a lot more combat and swearing. It's... also a bit more comedic in tone than I am comfortable with, and after a while, some of the schticks got a bit old.

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Finished Valerie's Elites series -- 4 books -- Valerie, her partner Robin, and her crew of elites try to spread justice and form alliances for the Etheric Federation but they are against a race of shapeshifters under control of a "high priestess", an evil entity "Ten" that also lives in computers, and more.

Vampires in space, except they are fighting enemies with modern weapons, and not even vamps can stand up to a rocket launcher and grenades, at least not directly. Lots of double-cross, heavy combat, sacrifice, and even a few jailbreaks. Good adventures.

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Finished Bad Company series -- 4 books -- continuation of Terry Henry Walton Chronicles.

Bad Company is basically an undercover spy agency of the Etheric Empire / Federation, and TH and his wife Char is now in command of the "direct action branch" of Bad Company. Now with mech suits and high tech weapons, and their own warship, they are spreading justice across the galaxy... One system at a time, with regular humans, enhanced humans, weretigers, werewolves, vampires...

Each book is they try to fight through one system, and the enemies are definitely different. Book 1 is they try to resolve a conflict, and ended up fighting huge siege engines (basically a primitive ogre tank) while both sides of the conflict are nothing like what they expected. Book 2 is how they try to break a blockade by ships that seems to be crewed by... humans?!?! Book 3 is the group trying to get a miniature power supply that will revolutionize tech... and book 4, which wraps up the arc, is they take on a hostile AI, that was also messing with them in book 2 and book 3.

I think this series tried to spread out in a few too many directions, but it's still good.
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u`

Post by Kasey Chang » Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:34 am

Finished KGU offshoot "Judge, Jury & Executioner" series (4 books).

Rivka Anoa is a lawyer with a talent... shallow touch telepathy. She killed a perp that was guilty... and was caught. Then she was given a second chance: become a Federation Magistrate... be the one who judges and punishes the guilty... be the judge, jury... and executioner. For this, she was given a small ship, enhancements, and a crew. But now, shes' facing more than simple murders, but planet-wide conspiracies, a serial killer that only targets foreign diplomats, and more...

Good action, mixed with lawyer talk, definitely an interesting take on scifi action adventure genre. In a way, reminds me of "Judge Bao" for those familiar with Chinese history.

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Finished KGU offshoot "Vigilante Chronicles" (6 books)

Barnabas, former "Empress's Ranger One", is semi-retired, looking for a purpose. On the planet High Tortuga, a mine owner cut off all communications and decided to keep his "employees" on indefinitely despite receiving order to shut down and pay off all employees. When Barnabas found out about this mine owner, justice will be administered... with Shinigami, formerly Queen's personal craft and AI, at his side...

The series goes on to have Barnabas take out the Yinnae corporation, a giant conglomerate with its own fleet that controls multiple systems, then a giant conspiracy involve evil experiments, brainwashing, and subjugation of entire races by a committee ready to do a coup on its own government and people, then other races. Good adventures, with character arcs for Shinigami (who later gets an android body), and Barnabas even shifted a little.

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Finished Ganked in Space / Intergalactic Pest Control

Feels like a LitRPG where former gamers unite and help blast pests, discovers conspiracy, and meets one badass mercenary by the name of "Sam". Goes for humor, with a good dose of action, but also a bit of the absurd, as their final boss is a moon-sized enemy that just swallowed the space station they were on. There's a volume 2 also.

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Finished "BOB's Bar" 1 and 2 "Tales from the Multiverse"

This is an anthology of short stories featuring characters from multiple series that arrived in this bar sharing "tall tales" from their respective universes. Some of those sounds interesting and I may look into them later.

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Finished another KGU offshoot "Ghost Squadron" 7 book series

Eddie Teach, former Etheric Empire fighter pilot, is without purpose, until legendary Juliana Fregin and her AI Pip tracked him down, and offered him a job: together, they will run Ghost Squadron, with revolutionary Q-ship... But first, they have to recruit a crew, such as the (mad) scientist. Then they have to find Vas and his secret Brotherhood plotting attacks all over the Federation. And who is funding him? And what was his purpose?

Good action adventure, even though the idea of having what's basically a heavy stealth bomber and have the squadron heads run off and do direct action missions is kinda weird. Later they address this by adding some special forces soldiers for ground attacks, but often, it's the two leads who need to do their own fighting.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Kasey Chang » Fri Dec 28, 2018 11:21 am

Currently reading "Animus" series (by Joshua Anderle, son of Michael Anderle of KGU series)

Kaiden Jericho was a part of a gang until a barfight brought him to the attention of Nexus Academy, which had always recruited elite Earthlings, but just started accepting aliens. Nexus Academy prepares its trainees with a special VR environment known as the Animus, and skills can be enhanced through an RPG-like interface. The graduates are trained in all sorts of talents and tactics: fight, hack, lead, spy, etc. After that, they become independent contractors with majority of their income going back to the school to pay off their massive debt. Kaiden also has a special trait: he has the Gemini factor which allowed him to be equipped with an AI he called "Chief"...

4 book series. I finished 1, and half through 2. It's a bit TOO game like, IMHO. They blab about where to put the points, joke about why one can put 10 points into cooking for only 5 points into mechanical repairs. OTOH, the combat's pretty good.

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Currently reading the Ascension Myth Series, another KGU offshoot

Molly Bates was a military computer expert. When her onboard (read: implanted) computer was hacked by a brand new AI, she had to escape. However, the only way out that doesn't involve kill or be killed will be the most embarrassing one... She met her former partner and started to recruit a team even as she deals with a corrupt politician, and came to the attention of "The Syndicate". In book 2 the Syndicate decided to frame her for mass poisoning of the city to sell a medicinal cure they had stockpiled, but she dismantled that too. Current reading book 3 of 12, when Etheric Federation's head Lance Reynolds made contact...

The series is definitely lower level, less military, more "security/troubleshooter company"

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Kasey Chang » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:26 am

Finished Animus series (all 4 books), and it's a good shift into a new arc in book 4. Our hero cadet ran into the most notorious serial killer who basically takes money for kills, and use that money to turn into mostly a cyborg, no wonder he's so good. It's kinda humbling for him to run into something he can't best despite beating everything the academy had to offer. And the bad guy vowed to nab Kaiden and extract the AI in his head for the paymaster, who wanted that tech as teaser for subsequent volumes.

Still reading Ascension Series, just finished 8 and going onto 9. Now the threat is across multiple systems, with a bit of crossover from a different corner of KGU, Deuces Wild, and Giles Kurn series. Someone is using assassination and illegal policy influence to mess with the political system as a take over. In the meanwhile, Molly realized what roles did her parents really play. It's pretty good, though the volume with Sean ran off and married Karina really made no sense, except it's a good adventure.
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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by xenocide » Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:51 pm

Final update of 2018 books:

Son of the Black Sword: Saga of the Forgotten Warrior Book 1 by Larry Correia - New fantasy series from one of my favorite authors. Good debut book, not a typical fantasy setting (no elves or dwarves). Minor origin spoiler
Spoiler:
Takes place on a future earth after a catastrophe brings destruction and magic. The future earth but fantasy may not be original but that's just background and the world he builds from there is a different take.


The Twelve: The Passage Book 2 by Justin Cronin - I've often said in my reviews that I am not a huge fan of what some consider a "well written" book or literary prose. This is a perfect example. “[A] literary superthriller.”—The New York Times Book Review “Cronin is one of those rare authors who works on two different levels, blending elegantly crafted literary fiction with cliff-hanging thrills.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram WRONG! This is an overwritten self indulgent rambling slog of a boring read. Half the story lines should have been cut from the novel completely and the other half should have been edited down by 50%. I've rarely read a book that can take a scene that has exciting elements and turn it into such a boring read. The sad thing is that there is actually a pretty good base story under it all but it is vastly overshadowed by everything else. I never would have finished this book on paper but this was another I upped the reading speed on audible as fast as I could still understand to get trough it. Will definitely not be reading the third book.

Dungeon Born 1-3 and The Ritualist 1 & 2 by Dakota Krout - My second and third foray into LitRPGs. (technically I read Ritualist book 2 in 2019 but review fits better here). I am enjoying both of these series quite a bit. You can tell that the first Divine Dungeon book is Dakota's first novel. This author is clearly a big fan of puns, so if you don't like puns be aware there are lots in both series. Both have a more humorous tone that The Land did. The Divine Dungeon series feels a bit more juvenile in it's humor but I still liked it (I am a bit hesitant to add this anecdote as it's the type of thing that might turn me off a book if I read it in a review and I don't want to turn people off but here goes: There is a perfectly timed soiled my pants joke in Divine Dungeon that made me laugh so hard I had to stop reading for a bit. For me that is very rare as I am not the biggest humor fan (dark, serious, OR juvenile) but this hit me just right even if a juvenile style joke. Funniest scene of 2018). Both have good plots and characters and interesting RPG systems (magic, leveling, skills, etc.). I still would rank The Land better in the LitRPG field but these are both good, with The Ritualist a little better than Divine Dungeon.

Steel World: Undying Mercenaries Book 1 by B. V. Larson - I like a good military Sci-Fi origin story. The first book in a series is often my favorite. Yes most borrow heavily from older books (Starship Troopers, etc) and are somewhat similar in form (young person goes to basic, its not what they expect, go to war, its not what they expect but by end of fist book they are now a veteran of some sort.) That's ok, it's a formula I enjoy. This is a good military Sci-Fi origin story that fits into my criteria listed above. But unlike some I have read this one has an interesting enough world that I will read more in the series. The galactic government hinted at is something I want to see more of. I seem to be building up a big pile of series I am now in the middle of so I don't know when but I do plan on continuing this series.

At All Costs: Honor Harrington Book 11 and other various Honor Harrington books post book 9 by David Weber - I like the Honor Harrington series. I really like the beginning of the series, the first few books in particular. Unless you are a big fan of the Honorverse you should probably stop after reading book 9. In terms of plot lines there is a resolution here and makes a good stopping point. After book 9 you kind of need to also read the spin off books to get the whole story. Even the main series books begin to have a lot of things referred to from the spin offs after 9. And while the later books are still good, 1-9 are better than 10+. That said I did read 3 novels and 3 short stories in less than a month so I obviously still enjoy the series, it's just a lot more intertwined.

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir by Felicia Day - This is a bit of a departure for me as I normally read fantasy and Sci-Fi almost exclusively. I listened to the audio version which is narrated by Felicia herself and she does an excellent job. It may go without saying but if you like Felicia Day you will like this book. Even if you don't know who she is you should still enjoy this memoir as she had an interesting life.
Spoiler:
Home-schooled(kind of), full college ride at 17 for violin, graduated with music and math degree, went right to California to act, got addicted to World of Warcraft, started her own web series, got pulled into gamergate, started her own company
An empowering book for young geeky girls. If I had a daughter or niece of the right age I would get this book for them, especially if they were into more geeky things.


2018 in Review:

68 Books read.

Book of the year: The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

Runners up:
Saturn Run by John Sandford
Murderbot Diaries 1-4 by Martha Wells
The Land Book 1-7 by Aleron Kong **Most fun books of 2018**
Last edited by xenocide on Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:59 pm

xenocide wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:51 pm
Final update of 2018 books:


The Twelve: The Passage Book 2 by Justin Cronin - I've often said in my reviews that I am not a huge fan of what some consider a "well written" book or literary prose. This is a perfect example. “[A] literary superthriller.”—The New York Times Book Review “Cronin is one of those rare authors who works on two different levels, blending elegantly crafted literary fiction with cliff-hanging thrills.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram WRONG! This is an overwritten self indulgent rambling slog of a boring read. Half the story lines should have been cut from the novel completely and the other half should have been edited down by 50%. I've rarely read a book that can take a scene that has exciting elements and turn it into such a boring read. The sad thing is that there is actually a pretty good base story under it all but it is vastly overshadowed by everything else. I never would have finished this book on paper but this was another I upped the reading speed on audible as fast as I could still understand to get trough it. Will definitely not be reading the third book.
I completely agree (except I read the third book - I was feeling masochistic). The question is, will you watch the TV series?

A better-focused, character-driven story line could make the story more enjoyable. I'll probably give it a shot, although I felt the same way about The Strain and lost interest in the series pretty quickly.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by ImLawBoy » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:05 pm

I enjoyed all three books in the trilogy, so :obscene-birdiedoublegreen: .

I'm going to try to watch the series, but I have so little time for viewing anything that I don't know how long it will last. I only made it through the first episode of The Strain (which I thought was a terrible trilogy, but with potential for a better episodic TV experience).
We had subs. It was crazy

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by xenocide » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:01 pm

Well I don't have cable so I won't be watching from the get go. If it gets good reviews and lasts a while I may watch in the future. I did like the first book. And like I said the second does have a good story buried somewhere. So in a tv format where they need to do some cuts anyway for the format it could be good.

Edited to add: Just watched the trailer. Looks like the show only covers the first portion of the first book so it will be a while before they get to anything from book 2.

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by Jeff V » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:32 pm

I thought it's going to be on Fox, not cable?

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Re: Books Read 2018

Post by xenocide » Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:40 am

I live in the boonies, no over the air for me so it's all the same

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