Monday, January 3, 2011

Reviews from Barry & Jim

HELLHOLE, Brian Herbert & Kevin J Anderson, Tor, $25.99, 544 pages, ISBN: 9780765322692, reviewed by Jim Brock.

The twenty planets of the Constellation are known as the Crown Jewels. They are controlled by noble families who are ruled by the dowager Diadem Michella Duchenet. The Constellation in turn controls and exploits 54 planets in a far away area of space known as the Deep Zone.

The foremost of the 54 is named Hallholme but is more and suitably known as Hellhole. It was to Hellhole that General Tiber Adolphus was exiled after his failed rebellion against the Constellation. And it is on Hellhole that Adolphus, his followers, and some of the dregs of Constellation society have learned to deal with the harshest of conditions. Not only has Adolphus been the driving force behind survival on Hellhole, he has been secretly developing and implementing a plan to establish the political and economic independence of the 54 and end the ever increasing amounts of tribute being paid to the Crown Jewels.

Herbert & Anderson mirror the vastness of space with the vastness in scope of this novel. Hellhole’s original inhabitants were destroyed when a massive asteroid struck the planet – except that they weren’t – and now they resurrect with multiple factions and perhaps hidden agendas. Not only is there conflict and intrigue between Adolphus and the Constellation, there is conflict and intrigue within the planetary groups. There is politics and murder and an ingenious system for space flight. This book is a veritable buffet of imaginative plots and impressive action. The authors weave a tapestry of action and excitement and grand adventure.

I don’t read a lot of science fiction these days but HELLHOLE was just too good to resist. I’m already looking forward to the continuation of the saga. // This is a March release but I wanted to let you know about it early so you could put it on your must have list. //

COZENED, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Parker Publishing, $12.95, 232 pages, ISBN: 9781600430640, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

After too long a wait, PI Cybil Lewis has returned in a new adventure. Cybil lives in a future that comes close to the reality that is entirely possible if we continue on the course we are headed.

This time out she is hired to find a blackmailer and a missing son for one of the major political families of the day. At the same time, she is involved with the death of a former lover whose family has a mixed agenda for her.

It is a plot filled with twists and turns that show politics has some really strange bedfellows and into what beds they fall makes for a very interesting scenario. Kurtz really shows her pacing and creative ability in this one.

COZENED means “to deceive, cheat or defraud someone”; be sure of one thing, the definition has a lot of meaning for the book, but not for the reader. It is a fulfilling, extremely enjoyable book. Nicole Givens Kurtz is a solid writer, always delivers and has yet to disappoint. If you aren’t already a fan, give this one a try and join her fanbase.

TEMPTING PROVIDENCE AND OTHER STORIES, Jonathan Thomas, Hippocampus Press, $20, 264 pages, ISBN: 9780984480203, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Providence, the home to H. P. Lovecraft and his sense of eerie and dread, but would he recognize it today? Has it changed or is it still the home of sinister events? Thomas shows us here that whatever you think, it is still home to literary pleasures and uncommon stories.

Sometimes a backpacker might end up in a strange place, especially when he ends up wearing “Dead Men’s Shoes”. Justin is having a gallery show of his work and ends up following some of Lovecraft’s footsteps and finds out about “Tempting Providence”. In “A Different Kind of Heartworm” it seems that some secrets in a marriage are better to remain secrets. “The Lord of the Animals” shows how love of a pet can continue on.

Have you ever searched for an extremely rare album? Find out what happens to Craig as he finds the “Power of Midnight”. Other tales show that no matter what the locale, Providence is a state of mind and writing ability. Thomas shows that he has both and I look forward to his future offerings.

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