Monthly Archives: November 2014

Starfire by Dale Brown


Space is the final frontier…and frontiers always end up controlled. With tension broiling between U.S. and Russia both countries want control. Will politics and a ‘starfire’ power platform that could be more than it seems cause catastrophe?

This book builds suspense through domestic politics, questionable personal motives, and international politics. As a spaceplane pilot states “there was a process called the accident chain…a series of minor and seemingly unrelated incidents that combine to cause an accident- or in this case, an encounter with a Russian antisatellite weapon” (p.341). Brown’s in depth discussion of weapons and technology help make the story feel believable. The motivations of the various characters, such as President Phoenix’s desire to succeed in an election year, add to the suspense and believability. Starfire offers political suspense involving space, a look at space technology, and a near future thriller.

Want other books like Starfire?

A former astronaut must save Kennedy Space Center from terrorists in Ignition by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason.

A passenger trip into orbit goes horribly wrong and a passenger must save himself in Orbit by John J. Nance.

Starfire explores how space could be exploited for military gain. Items like Military Space Power: A Guide to the Issues by James Fergusson explore how space militarization has and could take place.


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Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1)

In Regency England beauty and magical skill are the ways to gain a husband. Jane Ellsworth possesses the latter and not the former. Can Jane find someone who values her?

Jane’s expectation of spinsterhood while cautiously hoping for more makes the reader root for her. Shades of Milk and Honey’s characters and message of looking past appearances lightly echo Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Shades of Milk and Honey is a leisurely paced sweet romance. Manners, clothing, and dashes of spelling such as ‘shew’ evoke Regency England. Magic’s use in ‘womanly skills’ and adding prominence makes it fit well in the Regency. Shades of Milk and Honey offers sweet romance, an alternate England, and magic.

Want other books like Shades of Milk and Honey?

Persy Leland is forced to leave books for the London season and finds romance and plots in Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle.

Elizabeth Bennett learns lessons about love and appearances in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

A pair of cousins looks for love and encounters magic in Regency England in Sorcery and Cecilia, Or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede.


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World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Humanity narrowly overcame the zombie infestation at great cost. This oral history records how the infestation caught humanity unaware, the ‘Great Panic’ which resulted, and the costly victory of the war. Various voices show the best and worst of humanity among compelling tales of battling the infected.

World War Z has gory and psychological horror. There are gory scenes such as a stranded pilot evading zombies trapped inside cars and battling others on a highway. The psychological horror can be summed up as “the monsters that rose from the dead, they are nothing compared to the ones we carry in our hearts” (p. 252). The psychological horror and the story’s alternate history provoke thought about humanity. The various voices, ranging from a suburban housewife to an African fighter, are convincing and compelling. World War Z offers horror, alternate history, humanity in the aftermath of disaster, and compelling characters.

Want more books like World War Z?

A trio of bloggers fights zombies and searches for the secrets behind the zombies in Feed by Mira Grant.

A memoir looks back on how an empire rose after electronics were destroyed in Fitzpatrick’s War by Theodore Judson.

A soldier ponders humanity and the disaster that nearly obliterated it as he struggles to protect what is left in The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway.

A movie, World War Z, was inspired by the book and made in 2013.


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Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes


Waino Mellas sees Vietnam as a part of a brilliant political plan. He’ll enlist as a Marine, fight, and use his success to gain political glory. Dropped into the chaos of war he’ll face the indifferent jungle, battle, and politics. Can he survive and if he does who will he be?

Jungle rot, resignation towards senseless orders, and battle tension provide a disturbing, bleak, and gruesome picture of the Vietnam War. The politics of manipulative officers, racial tension, and lack of support back home emphasizes a nonromantic view of war. Mellas is a complicated character as selfish political motivations clash with growing empathy for his troops. Other characters such as natural leader Hawke and conflicted China also pull the reader into the story. Matterhorn offers a realistic feeling portrayal of Vietnam, interesting characters, and provokes thought about war (why, how, and its cost).

Want other books like Matterhorn?

A man goes to Vietnam unaware of the danger and perhaps unbearable realities he will encounter in Carl Melcher Goes to Vietnam by Paul Clayton.

A Marine platoon struggles to survive the dangers of the Vietnam War in Fields of Fire by James Webb.

Books such as the author’s nonfiction What It Is Like to Go to War provide a look at fighting in war and its effects.

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The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

The Governess of Highland Hall (Edwardian Brides, #1)

Missionary Julia Foster becomes governess at Highland Hall in order to support her family. Highland’s master, William Ramsay, attracts her with his determination to survive a troubled past and uncertain future. When Highland’s survival seems dependent on the two being separate what will be their fate?

Julia Foster is endearingly outspoken to the Rochester-like Ramsay. Their loyalty to their families could push them apart but also makes the reader root for them. Two other minor romances also draw the reader into the story. The strict social and class restrictions are shown well. Details of 1911 like dress, the beginning prominence of cars, and the ‘death tax’ show the time period. Highland Hall is a vivid world which could represent an Edwardian English aristocratic household. The Governess of Highland Hall could be for those looking for Christian or sweet romance, the enclosed world of an English estate, and/or Edwardian England.

Want other books like The Governess of Highland Hall?

Life in Ashton Park will never be the same as WWI begins and the children of English lord Sir William search for love in Ashton Park by Murray Pura.

An heiress disguises herself as a servant at Fairbourne Hall and learns about that life while falling in love with  the hall’s master in The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen. (Click here to read a post I wrote about the book.)

Books such as Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants by Alison Maloney provide information about life during this time period.

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