Non-Spoiler Review of The Last Jedi

This is going to be a pretty short review.  I have plenty to say about The Last Jedi, but much of it would require me to spoil various plot elements (and the ending).  I don’t want to do that.  At least not yet.  So I will keep this review spoiler-free and post another review with spoilers tomorrow.  DO NOT post any spoilers in the comments.  We can use the comment section on that post to talk spoilers to our hearts’ content.

I liked but didn’t love The Last Jedi.  It improves on my two biggest complaints about The Force Awakens, but there was one plotline and one specific scene that I hated.

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The Force Awakens Is More Rewatchable Than A New Hope

That’s right, I said it: The Force Awakens is more rewatchable than A New Hope.

Hold on before you burn me at the stake for heresy!  Note what I didn’t say.  I didn’t say that The Force Awakens is better than A New Hope.  And I didn’t say that The Force Awakens is more rewatchable than Star Wars.  Those are both very, very important points.  How so?  Read on.

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The Hidden Face has a Great Premise for an Epic Fantasy

A face without a face.  An unmasking that leaves the mask.

The Hidden Face has a great premise.  Every several hundred years the “Face” of Akhen is unveiled.  The likeness of the Face and the Face’s powers are either intentionally or magically never described, but invariably the Face’s powers shift political power toward the country in which the Face unmasks.  It is always a different country, thus spreading the Akhen religion.  It has been hundreds of years since the Face last appeared, which means that the Faustian Empire’s days are numbered.  The Face always unmasks at 30.  Locating the Face before unmasking could mean control over the Face and all the Face’s power.  Dayraven, son of a legendary hero and former hostage, and Sunniva, a woman masquerading as a soldier in order to search for her missing father, get caught up in such a plot.

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My Pet Tag: Strider

I saw Sarah’s post for her bunny over at Dragons and Zombies and couldn’t resist.  And I haven’t been featuring the world’s Saddest Puppy nearly enough these days.


1. What is your pets name?

Strider, obviously.  You can guess the origin, I’m sure.  I really wanted to make a Wheel of Time reference and name him Hopper, but my wife liked Strider better so we went with the Lord of the Rings reference.  He is both quite the strider and quite the hopper.


2. What kind of pet is it and what breed?

We were pretty sure he is part wolf, fox, coyote, dingo, and cat, but it turns out he is a dog.  We had him tested and he came back 5/8 Husky, 2/8 Rottweiler, and 1/8 Chow.  The Husky is obvious; the Rottweiler and Chow are not—that must be where he gets his bulk.

And maybe part cow

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Throwback SF Thursday: Michael Reyes’ Clock’s Watch Out Now in Paperback and Hardback

Throwback SF Thursday: retro edition. Buy Reyes’ book here.


Awhile back, I’d mentioned that I’d helped Michael Reyes, one of Cirsova’s contributors, put together an anthology of his Clock stories. I did interior formatting and cover layout (though not the front design/layout).

It’s now available in paperback and hardback.

The next story in the sequence, The Iynx, will be featured in the Spring 2018 issue of Cirsova. Pre-Order Today!

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Siege Line Is Satisfying as a Conclusion to Its Trilogy, If Not as Part of a Larger Universe

Siege Line is book 3 in Cole’s Shadow Ops: Reawakening prequel trilogy and his sixth book in the Shadow Ops universe.  I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of each, and it has been interesting to see how Cole how evolved as a writer and storyteller.  (You can find all of my reviews under my Military Fantasy tag).

If you haven’t read any of these books, the obvious question is where to start.  Cole would tell you to start with the prequel trilogy.  But the truth is that the author is the least reliable source of a reading order recommendation.  It is only in very rare circumstances that publication order isn’t the way to go.  No such exception exists here, and, frankly, the original Shadow Ops trilogy is the better trilogy (more on that after the jump).

Javelin Rain ends with undead super soldier Jim Schweitzer finally taking some initiative and turning the tables on the Cell.  Schweitzer can finally start to go toe-to-toe with the Cell, and what follows is a whole heck of a lot of action that is far more satisfying than the weak chase from Javelin Rain.

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A Place Called Hope is as Much Military Thriller as Zombie Apocalypse Book

Happy belated Thanksgiving.  If you are looking for things to be thankful for, here are a couple:

  • Good books
  • No zombie apocalypse (yet)

If you haven’t read Daniel Humphreys’ A Place Outside the Wild, go read my review of that book.  I can’t really talk about its sequel, A Place Called Hope, without spoiling major surprises in the first book.  And A Place Outside the Wild may be the best zombie apocalypse book I have ever read.  Humphreys incorporates the familiar canon and builds on it, both in service of the meticulously plotted story.  Another highlight is the attention to detail regarding everything from guns to farming—an attention to detail in service of building narrative tension.

My only quibble with both books is that the dialogue—especially the manly banter—is a bit clunky.  (The actual presence of manly banter, on the other hand, is nice to see.)

A Place Called Hope is every bit as good as A Place Outside the Wild.  It may not be able to deliver the same shocks as its predecessor, but Humphreys continues to surprise us, and there are some awesome action set pieces.

Major SPOILERS for A Place Outside the Wild, and very minor SPOILERS for A Place Called Hope below the fold.

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