Review: A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier

A Borrowing of Bones by Paula MunierA Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier

Series: Mercy & Elvis Mysteries #1

Genre: Mystery

Setting: Vermont

Source: Hardcover book, Library

Publishing Date: 2018

352 pages

Synopsis: First in a gripping new mystery series about a retired MP and her bomb-sniffing dog who become embroiled in an investigation in the beautiful Vermont wilderness.

My thoughts

I liked this book so much! The dogs in the book are great. I am so enjoying reading so many books about dogs. They are wonderful animals! I also thought the author did a great job with the military portions of the story. Both Mercy and Elvis (her Belgian Malinois) are Army veterans. She was an MP in the Army and Elvis was a bomb sniffing dog. His human partner was Mercy’s fiance who was killed by a sniper while out on patrol. Mercy promised him she would take care of Elvis and she was finally able to adopt him when Elvis retired.

A baby in the wilderness

Both Mercy and Elvis are still suffering from the aftermath of Afghanistan and she has closed herself off from other people. Mercy does take Elvis on a walk almost every day in a Vermont wilderness near their home. Usually they see a few people on the trail, but it’s the Fourth of July weekend so she expects to see more people on the trail. However, she doesn’t expect Elvis to find a baby or to alert for explosives. Thus, starts a mystery! Who left a baby in the woods? Are there explosives where Elvis alerted? She isn’t an MP any longer, but it’s hard for Mercy and Elvis to stay away from this case especially when the baby disappears from the hospital.

Troy and search-and-rescue dog Susie Bear

When she calls in the discovery of the baby, Troy Warner a game warden answers the call. He has a part Labrador Retriever and part Newfoundland search-and-rescue dog (Susie Bear) with him. When Mercy shows Troy where they found the baby both Elvis and Susie Bear search for any further clues about who left the baby. The dogs don’t find clues to the baby, but they do find a shallow grave with bones in it. Lots of mysteries in this forest!

Mercy and Troy team up–sometimes with mixed results

Mercy and Troy plus their dogs team up on several occasions to search for more clues. However, this case belongs to the state police and the detective in charge doesn’t take kindly to either Mercy or Troy investigating the case. That was probably the weakest part of the story for me—that Mercy continues to investigate. I did understand why she did so. She had discovered the baby plus a dead body plus she doesn’t have any confidence in the state police detective. She drags Troy into several of the investigations which endangers his job. That’s not good for either one of them.

At any rate, I enjoyed this book a lot. Elvis and Susie Bear are wonderful dogs and Mercy is a great character. I’m looking forward to more books in this series and want to read more about the dogs, Mercy and Troy. I’m hoping Mercy gets a job in law enforcement so she has good reason to investigate crimes and mysteries!

My Rating: B

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

June 2018 Books on My List

I keep a list of all the books I might want to read and add to it as the year goes on. As each month comes along I create a list on my blog for others and for me to keep track of asbooks-on-my-list the months go by.

I don’t buy all these books–since I already have way too many books to read and some of the new books are expensive. I’m trying to stick to a budget.

I hope people reading my post may find some new books to read. I also hope these people will point me toward books I missed.

Note: I’ve added a book published on May 31 that I missed last month!

May 31

Bone Driven

by Hailey Edwards

Series: Foundling #2

Published by Piatkus

Genre: Fantasy

352 pages

Synopsis: Life as a cop in Canton Town, Mississippi, is never dull – particularly when hiding deep within you is a demon bent on the apocalypse. Luce is doing her best to pretend her two worlds aren’t crashing into each other, but what should be a routine arson investigation takes a shocking turn when Luce discovers a link between the suspects and her own dark secrets. There’s no turning back, even though her search for the truth threatens to burn her old life down around her.

Lines are being drawn in a war Luce barely understands, and she just might be on the wrong side of them. Now she must embrace her powerful destiny, or the ones she loves most will pay the ultimate price.

June 5


Brief Cases

by Jim Butcher

Series: Dresden Files #15.1

Published by Ace

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Anthology, Short Stories

448 pages

Synopsis: Brief Cases is the sequel anthology of Side Jobs, and will be released before Peace Talks.

June 12

Yosemite Fall

by Scott Graham

Series: National Park Mystery Series

Published by Torrey House Press

Genre: Mystery

220 pages

Synopsis: Archaeologist Chuck Bender arrives with his family in Yosemite Valley to study the 150-year-old murders of a pair of gold prospectors in the midst of preparations for the annual Yosemite Slam rock-climbing competition and a reunion with his old climbing buddies. The trip quickly turns threatening when one climber never shows up, climbing equipment fails, and Chuck and his wife, Janelle Ortega, are suspected in the shocking, present-day death of one of Chuck’s former rock-climbing partners. Together, Chuck and Janelle race against time to solve the dual mysteries and prove their innocence—all while facing down a ruthless killer on the loose.

The Sleeping Lady

by Bonnie C. Monte

Series: Unknown

Published by She Writes Press

Genre: Mystery

Synopsis: Thirty-five-year-old Rae Sullivan owns a thriving home décor shop in the San Francisco Bay area, near majestic Mt. Tamalpais (to locals, The Sleeping Lady). But when her business partner, Thalia, confides that she has a lover in France, Rae’s comfortable life starts to unravel. Soon, an anonymous note-writer threatens to reveal the affair, and Thalia—who, unswayed by Rae’s warnings, insists on confronting the blackmailer—turns up dead in Golden Gate Park.

June 19

The Privilege of Peace

by Tanya Huff

Series: Peacekeeper #3

Published by DAW

Genre: Science Fiction, Military

352 pages

Synopsis: Former space marine Torin Kerr returns for one final adventure to save the Confederation in the last book in the military science fiction Peacekeeper trilogy.

Warden Torin Kerr has put her past behind her and built a life away from the war and everything that meant. From the good, from the bad. From the heroics, from the betrayal. She’s created a place and purpose for others like her, a way to use their training for the good of the Confederation. She has friends, family, purpose.

Unfortunately, her past refuses to grant her the same absolution. Big Yellow, the ship form of the plastic aliens responsible for the war, returns. The Silsviss test the strength of the Confederation. Torin has to be Gunnery Sergeant Kerr once again and find a way to keep the peace. 

Shadow Dancing

by Julie Mulhern

Series: Country Club Mystery #7

Published by Henery Press

Genre: Historical Mystery

210 pages

Synopsis: Visiting a psychic is outside the norm for Ellison Russell. Finding bodies is not. Unfortunately, the psychic’s crystal ball says she’ll soon be surrounded by death. Again. 


Now there’s a corpse in the front drive, a witchy neighbor ready to turn Ellison and her (not so) little dog into toadstools, and a stripper named Starry Knight occupying the guest room. 

How did 1975 go so wrong so quickly? 

Ellison must handle Mother (who’s found a body of her own), make up with a certain handsome detective, and catch a killer, or the death surrounding her might be her own. 


by C.L. Polk

Series: Witchmark #1

Published by

Genre: Fantasy

272 pages

Synopsis: In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.

Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans’ hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.

When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.

June 26

A Steep Price

by Robert Dugoni

Series: Tracy Crosswhite #6

Published by Thomas & Mercer

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

380 pages

Synopsis: Called in to consult after a young woman disappears, Tracy Crosswhite has the uneasy feeling that this is no ordinary missing-persons case. When the body turns up in an abandoned well, Tracy’s suspicions are confirmed. Estranged from her family, the victim had balked at an arranged marriage and had planned to attend graduate school. But someone cut her dreams short.

Solving the mystery behind the murder isn’t Tracy’s only challenge. The detective is keeping a secret of her own: she’s pregnant. And now her biggest fear seems to be coming true when a new detective arrives to replace her. Meanwhile, Tracy’s colleague Vic Fazzio is about to take a fall after his investigation into the murder of a local community activist turns violent and leaves an invaluable witness dead.

Two careers are on the line. And when more deadly secrets emerge, jobs might not be the only things at risk.

Kappy King and the Pickle Kaper

by Amy Lillard

Series: An Amish Mystery #2

Published by Zebra

Genre: Mystery

352 pages

Synopsis: Kathryn “Kappy” King is happy being a plain-spoken unmarried odd-woman-out in her Pennsylvania Amish hometown. Her talent is making the special kapps local women use to cover their hair. But her skill at uncovering trouble in this quiet valley is about to be truly tested . . .

At first, young Sally June Esh’s tragic death doesn’t look like murder. Even in peaceful Blue Sky, collisions between buggies and Englisch cars aren’t unheard of. Still, the Eshes are skilled drivers used to delivering their popular pickles for miles around. And after Kappy notices Sally’s buggy was deliberately run off the road, her ex-Amish friend Edie gets strange texts saying the crash was no accident . . .

Kappy won’t let her community’s silence keep justice from being done. And even though a still-shunned Edie thinks of moving back to the city, she and Kappy start rooting out secrets about the Eshes’ long-time neighbors–and new pickle-producing rivals. But when they learn that Sally’s brother is secretly courting an Englisch girl, their investigation takes a disturbing turn . . . 

Trail of Lightning

by Rebecca Roanhorse

Series: The Sixth World #1

Published by Saga Press

Genre: YA Fantasy

304 pages

Synopsis: While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World. 

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe

by Alex White

Series: The Salvagers #1

Published by Orbit

Genre: Science Fiction

480 pages

Synopsis: Boots Elsworth was a famous treasure hunter in another life, but now she’s washed up. She makes her meager living faking salvage legends and selling them to the highest bidder, but this time she might have stumbled on something real–the story of the Harrow, a famous warship, capable of untold destruction.

Nilah Brio is the top driver in the Pan Galactic Racing Federation and the darling of the racing world–until she witnesses the murder of a fellow racer. Framed for the murder and on the hunt to clear her name, Nilah only has one lead: the killer also hunts a woman named Boots.

On the wrong side of the law, the two women board a smuggler’s ship that will take them on a quest for fame, for riches, and for justice.

June 30

Rough Justice

by Kelley Armstrong

Series: Cainsville #5.5

Published by Subterranean

Genre: Urban Fantasy

192 pages

Synopsis: Mallt-y-Nos. Matilda of the Hunt. The lone woman who rides with the Wild Hunt, tasked with finding killers who’ve escaped justice and letting the hounds reap their souls. For Olivia Taylor-Jones, Matilda isn’t just a legendary figure from Welsh lore. She is Olivia’s past, and her future, one she’s finally embraced.

Having accepted her role as Matilda, Olivia must now lead her first Hunt. Seems simple enough. But when she questions their target’s guilt, the Hunt is halted, her mission failed. Still, it’s just a matter of getting Gabriel’s help and investigating the man’s past to reassure herself that he’s guilty. He must be. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be a target. But the deeper she digs, the more problems she finds, until she must question everything she knows about the Hunt and the choice she’s made. 

What books are you excited about this month?

Review: The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

the-ghost-brigadesThe Ghost Brigades
by John Scalzi
Series: Old Man’s War #2
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Published by Tor Books, 2007
E-book, purchased
356 pages
Grade: A
Synopsis: The Ghost Brigades are the Special Forces of the Colonial Defense Forces, elite troops created from the DNA of the dead and turned into the perfect soldiers for the CDF’s toughest operations. They’re young, they’re fast and strong, and they’re totally without normal human qualms.

For the universe is a dangerous place for humanity – and it’s about to become far more dangerous. Three races that humans have clashed with before have allied to halt our expansion into space. Their linchpin: the turncoat military scientist Charles Boutin, who knows the CDF’s biggest military secrets. To prevail, the CDF most find out why Boutin did what he did.

Jared Dirac is the only human who can provide answers – a superhuman hybrid, created from Boutin’s DNA, whose brain is uniquely able to access Boutin’s electronic memories. But when the memory transplant appears to fail, Jared is given over to the Ghost Brigades.

Jared begins as one of these perfect soldiers, but as memories begin to surface, he begins to intuit the reason’s for Boutin’s betrayal.

As Jared desperately hunts for his “father”, he must also come to grips with his own choices. Time is running out: the alliance is preparing its offensive, and some of them plan worse things than humanity’s mere military defeat.

Not for the first time, Cainen reflected that evolution didn’t do this particular species any great favors, physically speaking.

It just made them aggressive, dangerous and damned hard to scrape off a planet surface. A problem, that.

. . .

“Fucking humans,” he said.


…to the extent that Special Forces had any reputation at all beyond its military prowess, it was that its members were profoundly lacking in tact and patience. Being three-year-old killing machines didn’t leave much time for social graces.


  • I like how this book starts out from an alien’s point of view.
  • Oh, I like this series! The world Scalzi has created is interesting, detailed and dangerous to humans.
  • Humans have made it off Earth and have colonized a number of planets, but they’ve had to fight for every scrap. The universe is full of other races and they don’t really like humans.
  • John Perry who was the protagonist in the first book isn’t in this book and I missed him, but Jane Sagan whom we met briefly in the first book is in this book as well as a great cast of other characters.
  • I really like the way Scalzi shows the human response to the threat humans face: Taking older humans off Earth to re-make them into young, green bodies to fight wars is inspired. And to create special forces from the DNA of the dead and then have them born adults who very quickly become fighting and killing machines even though they would be considered babies by the “Realborn” as the Ghost Brigades call the humans actually born as babies.
  • The way the Ghost Brigades–special forces–are created is very interesting. It’s interesting to read about their creation, training, thoughts and purpose.
  • The Ghost Brigades and other humans must figure out why one of their scientists faked his own death and now is helping the enemy. What made him turn into a traitor?
  • I like that they give the special forces the last names of famous scientists.
  • This book (especially the early part) explores what it means to be human. Reminds me of Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • This is science fiction which explores ideas, but is also very human and entertaining.


  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I began reading John Scalzi’s books in 2014 and since then he has become one of my favorite authors.
  • I’ve already read the third book in the series and hope to read the fourth book soon!


  • Prometheus Award for Best Novel ( Nominee 2007)

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • (From Wikipedia): John Michael Scalzi II (born May 10, 1969) is an American science fiction author, online writer, and former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is best known for his Old Man’s War series, three novels of which have been nominated for the Hugo Award, and for his blog Whatever, at which he has written frequently on a number of topics since 1998. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2008 based predominantly on that blog, which he has also used for several prominent charity drives. His novel Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. He has written non-fiction books and columns on diverse topics such as finance, video games, films, astronomy, and writing, and served as a creative consultant for the TV series Stargate Universe.

Reading Challenges

Review: The Better Part of Valor by Tanya Huff


The Better Part of Valor
by Tanya Huff
Narrated by Marguerite Gavin
Series: Confederation #2
Genre: Science Fiction (Military/space opera)
Published by Tantor Audio, 2009 (originally published by DAW, 2002)
Audiobook, purchased
416 pages
10 hours, 11 minutes
Grade: B+
Narrator grade: A-
Synopsis: Telling a two-star general what she really thought of him was the mistake Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr made with General Morris. But as a battle-hardened professional, she took pride in doing her job and getting her troops back alive. So after she’d saved the mission to bring the Silsviss into the Confederation – instead of losing them and their world to the enemy known only as the Others – she let the general know exactly how she felt.

And Torin’s reward – or punishment – was to be separated from her platoon and sent off on what might well prove an even more perilous assignment. She was commandeered to protect a scientific expedition to a newly discovered and seemingly derelict spaceship of truly epic proportions. And Confederation politics had saddled her with a commanding officer who might prove more of a menace to the mission’s success than anything they encountered.

Only time would tell if the ship was what it appeared to be or a trap created by the Others – or the work of an as yet unknown alien race with an agenda that could prove all too hostile to other life-forms.

The opening lines of the book:

“And the moral of the story: never call a two star general a bastard to his face.”

Stretching out his regenerated leg, Captain Rose leaned away from his desk and drummed his fingers against the inert plastic trim. “I’m a little surprised you didn’t already know that.”

“You and me both, sir” Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr stared down at the general’s orders on her slate. “You and me both.”


“Then, for God’s sake keep her happy, Staff Sergeant.”

Torin glanced down the passage to where Presit sat sulking. She had finally threatened to gag the Katrien before they’d shut up.

“The last thing we need,” the general continued, “is for this to look worse than it is in the media.”

“Yes, sir.” Which could be, when necessary, a polite way of saying “Fuk you.”  Torin couldn’t remember it ever being quite so necessary before.

General Morris missed the subtext.


  • This was a re-read for me though this time I listened to the audiobook. The narrator is excellent.
  • Just the type of military science fiction I like.
  • I bought and listened to the first two books in this series and they’re so much fun to listen to.
  • I love Staff Sergeant Torin. She’s an idealized NCO (noncommissioned officer)–always one step ahead of both the troops she’s in charge of and officers in her chain of command. She knows what her duty is and always attempts to follow through. She takes it personally when one of her marines is killed.
  • In this case, she’s taken away from her platoon and given a group of marines she has to turn into a cohesive team and try to protect an officer who’s a menace to everyone around him. They’re supposed to protect a group of scientists on a top-secret mission.
  • The book also has politics which gums up the military mission much to Torin’s disgust.
  • Craig Ryder is a great new character in this book. He’s an irreverent civilian salvage operator who doesn’t take orders well and gets under Torin’s skin.
  • Presit a Tur durVilintrisy is a journalist and just as irritating as some of our journalists!
  • Tanya Huff puts a lot of humor into these stories.
  • Many of the Confederation allies are “above” the fight with the Others (who want to conquer Confederation space by killing or enslaving anyone they meet).
  • The aliens in this series are all interesting. They all have distinct characteristics and at times cause Torin and her troops instinctive reactions. One group may look like giant spiders or another group like cuddly pets. Torin must remind her subordinates not to objectify their allies who are pacifists and all very intelligent.
  • The book leaves a lot of questions–just what was the “derelict” ship found by Craig Ryder and who created it?


  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I read this series about 10 years ago and loved it. It’s just as good as I remembered it.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (a book by a female author)
  • COYER Winter Reading Challenge–hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @ Because Reading (Audiobook–$5.95)

WoW: The End of All Things by John Scalzi


I’m participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to coming out in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.


The End of All Things by John Scalzi

Series: Old Man’s War #6

Publication Date: August 11, 2015

Genre: Science Fiction (Military)

Synopsis: Hugo-award winning author, John Scalzi returns to his best-selling Old Man’s War universe with the direct sequel to 2013’s The Human Division
Humans expanded into space…only to find a universe populated with multiple alien species bent on their destruction. Thus was the Colonial Union formed, to help protect us from from a hostile universe. The Colonial Union used the Earth and its excess population for colonists and soldiers. It was a good arrangement…for the Colonial Union. Then the Earth said: no more.

Now the Colonial Union is living on borrowed time—a couple of decades at most, before the ranks of the Colonial Defense Forces are depleted and the struggling human colonies are vulnerable to the alien species who have been waiting for the first sign of weakness, to drive humanity to ruin. And there’s another problem: A group, lurking in the darkness of space, playing human and alien against each other—and against their own kind —for their own unknown reasons.

In this collapsing universe, CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson and the Colonial Union diplomats he works with race against against the clock to discover who is behind attacks on the Union and on alien races, to seek peace with a suspicious, angry Earth, and keep humanity’s union intact…or else risk oblivion, and extinction—and the end of all things.


Why I want this book:

  • John Scalzi is one of my favorite authors.
  • I’ve only read the first book in the series, but it was so good.
  • Military science fiction is one of my favorite genres.

Review: Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff


Valor’s Choice
by Tanya Huff
Narrated by Marguerite Gavin
Series: Confederation series #1
Genre: Military Science Fiction (space opera)
Audiobook Published by Tantor Audio, 2009 (originally published by DAW, 2000)
Audiobook, purchased
416 pages
9 hours, 39 minutes
Grade: A
Narrator Grade: A-
Synopsis: In the distant future, humans and several other races have been granted membership in the Confederation — at a price. They must act as soldier/protectors of the far more civilized races who have long since turned away from war….


When the Confederation first started integrating the di’Taykan and the Krai into what was predominantly a human military system, xenopsychologists among the elder races expected a number of problems. For the most part, those expectations fell short. After having dealt with the Mictok and the H’san, none of the younger races – all bipedal mammals – had any difficulty with each other’s appearance. Cultural differences were absorbed into the prevailing military culture and the remaining problems were dealt with in the age-old military tradition of learning to say “up yours” in the other races’ languages. The “us against them” mentality of war made for strange bedfellows.


“First of all, I work for a living.” … Then she turned on her heel and walked toward the hatch. “SSgt Kerr?” One hand on the hatch release, she paused. “You said there were two reasons? What was the second?”

“The second reason, Sir? My parents were married.”


  • The narrator is excellent and I was able to follow the story, but I think someone just coming into the story might have problems trying to sort out who is who and where it all fits.
  • A favorite series and joy to re-read. This time it’s an audiobook which was a great way for a re-read.
  • This series is every bit as good as I remembered. I like the characters a lot and the banter between the marines.
  • Humans and other intelligent species make up the soldiers of the Confederation. They are expected to fight wars for the older, more civilized members of the Confederation.
  • The dialogue is spot on for the marines.
  • Torin Kerr is a very good marine Staff Sergeant. She knows each of her troops, is a good leader and deals with her soldiers professionally and with humor. She is also an intermediary between the new second lieutenant and the rest of the company. It’s her job to give the lieutenant the options and then gently move him toward the correct choice.
  • In this first book, Kerr, her lieutenant and fellow marines are sent to a planet for ceremonial duty to convince a planet of fearsome warriors to join the Confederation. They are just supposed to march and “show the flag,” but, of course, things don’t go as planned.
  • The book begins with a funny incident–Torin coming off leave suffering from a sex pheromone hangover. The book ends with battles and a more somber note.
  • This is an excellent, exciting military space story.


  • None. Except for a warning that the story may be difficult to follow because of the names of the different species as well as the many marines’ names.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I’m looking forward to rereading this series. My second book is also an Audible edition so I have that to look forward to.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge (Hoping to read 100 books this year)
  • Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • Re-reading Challenge–hosted by Lianne at

Review: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

This book is part of the Literary Escapism blog’s 2014 New Author Challenge, Anne & Kristilyn’s Book Bingo Challenge as well as the Bookish blog’s TBR Pile Challenge.

This is the first book I’ve read this year for my new author challenge!

old-mans-warOld Man’s War
by John Scalzi
Series: Old Man’s War series, Book 1
Genre: Military Science Fiction, Space Opera
Published by Tor, 2007
E-book, Purchased
362 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.

 “…Part of what makes us human is what we mean to other people, and what people mean to us. I miss meaning something to someone, having that part of being human. That’s what I miss about marriage.”

What worked for me:

  • Lots of action
  • The concept is interesting–taking humans off Earth when they’re 75 years old to turn them into soldiers…the fact that the life you’ve led, your life learning are useful to an army. On the other hand, your preconceived notions just might get you killed very quickly!
  • The 75 year olds take a leap of faith that their life is going to be better in the colonies.
  • What keeps people human? John Perry asks that question during the book. I like the things he thinks about, the things he asks.
  • The battles the army fights are brutal and sometimes seem unnecessary. The politics, the battles, morality of war, the individual soldiers are all part of what makes this book a good read for me.
  • The book is realistic about how many people die in a war.
  • The book has been compared to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers which I can understand.

What didn’t work:

  • Part one is a little slow
  • I feel removed from most of the characters except John Perry. This is partly because the book is written in first person and we spend a lot of time in John’s head.

My thoughts:

I liked the book a lot and bought the second book in the series–The Ghost Brigade. Even though there are things which didn’t work for me I look forward to the next book and I hope I relate more to characters besides John.

Have you read this book or something else by John Scalzi? Do you enjoy military science fiction?

Favorite Books Read…January-June 2013

toptentuesday2Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog. I don’t always participate, but try to at least once a month or so. This month I’ve managed more than that so that’s been fun. Sometimes I have a hard time coming up with anything to say and sometimes I feel like I’m saying the same thing over and over so those weeks I try not to participate. I think I repeat myself enough as it is! Some of this is also repetitive since I’ve already reviewed most of these books. but anyway here goes…

This has been a pretty good reading year for me so far. I haven’t read as many books as last year so far, but I’ve read some that I really like. I’ve reviewed all but three of these books so far. My backlog of reviews is getting smaller, but I still have at least a half dozen books to review.

Fair Game by Patricia Briggs— A (An Alpha and Omega series book also set in the Mercy Thompson world. Very good and I like how it ties into Frost Burned!)

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews— A (Book 5 of the Kate Daniels series…Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs are my favorite authors for urban fantasy right now. The next book in this series come out at the end of July. Every book is excellent.)

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs— A (I love Patricia Briggs’ books. It’s always hard to wait two years for a new book in the Mercy Thompson books. She is moving the series along in a very good way!)

Written in Red by Anne Bishop— A- (The author’s voice, world building and characters are wonderful. This is probably my favorite new series of the year so far.)

A Hint of Frost by Hailey Edwards— A- (This was a unique fantasy for me…using spider characteristics for the characters.)

Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos— B+ (Very good military science fiction…one of the best I’ve read in a long time.)

God Save the Queen by Kate Locke— B+ (A modern day Victorian setting with vampires, humans, werewolves and goblins…I liked the author’s voice a lot)

The Girl With the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir— B+ (The voice in this book…mostly Max the cat…is very entertaining.)

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning— B+ (I’ve read three books in this series so far and they are all very good…though they keep getting darker as they go along.)

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan— B+ (Courtney Milan’s books have all been favorites of mine. I like her voice and characters.)

How about you? What are your favorite books of the first half of the year?

Review: Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos

I believe this is the author’s first book. So not only a new author to me, but to all his readers!

Update (May 7): I forgot to add this to the Literary Escapism blog’s New Author Challenge 2013. I’ve done so now!

Terms of Enlistment
by Marko Kloos
Series: I hope so
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Published by: Frostbite Publishing, 2013
E-book, Purchased
293 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: The year is 2108, and the North American Commonwealth is bursting at the seams. For welfare rats like Andrew Grayson, there are only two ways out of the crime-ridden and filthy welfare tenements, where you’re restricted to 2,000 calories of badly flavored soy every day. You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world, or you can join the service.

Andrew chooses to enlist in the armed forces of the North American Commonwealth, for a shot at real food, a retirement bonus, and maybe a ticket off Earth. But as he starts a career of supposed privilege, he soon learns that the good food and decent health care come at a steep price…and that the settled galaxy holds far greater dangers than military bureaucrats or angry welfare rats with guns.


This book was recommended to me by fellow blogger Li from Me and My Books. Thank you so much, Li, as Terms of Enlistment is one of my favorite books of the year so far. She recommended it after I read and reviewed another military science fiction–The Scrapyard Incident by Phillip Nolte. I’ve read military science fiction for years (Robert Heinlein, Elizabeth Moon, Tanya Huff, David Weber) and regular military fiction (mainly books about WWII when I was a teenager). I like adventure stories and military science fiction pretty well guarantees that!

I enjoyed this book very much. It’s an exciting adventure story. Written in first person, present tense…gives it an immediacy…it’s a bit like a journal or listening in to Andrew’s thoughts. The author does a good job with the mechanics of writing this way. I don’t imagine it’s that easy. The book is self-published, I think, but the editing and writing are first-class.

The book opens with Andrew getting ready to leave the next day for his enlistment in the North American Commonwealth (NAC) military. These opening pages give the reader a flavor of the life he’s led in the tenements where he was born and grew up. This is a good backdrop so we know why he’s so determined to leave, succeed in the military and get off polluted, overcrowded Earth.

We experience the life of a recruit with Andrew as he learns the discipline and skills required in a military…what thousands of other recruits have learned through the ages.

It feels strangely liberating to do precisely as instructed. I don’t have to worry about displeasing the sergeant as long as I follow his orders exactly. For now, I resolve to not even scratch my nose unless being ordered by someone with chevrons on their collar.


It feels a bit like a college dorm, only with guns and uniforms, and instead of learning trigonometry or North American History, we learn better ways to kill people and blow up their stuff.

This book does a good job of letting the reader discover the world through Andrew’s eyes rather than with an omniscient POV. The book has some romance in it, but as happens in military life Andrew and Halley have to go their separate ways after Basic Training. But they continue to correspond with each other. Mr. Kloos also shows the closeness one feels towards comrades when in a unit together. Each person counts on his fellow soldiers. We’ve seen that comradery in recent years as soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are eager to return to their unit even after terrible injuries. They don’t want to let their fellow soldiers down.

Andrew’s military career has its ups and downs, doesn’t always go the way he wants it to and he’s not always sure he’s made the right decisions, but he learns a lot during this book and is a different person than the “welfare rat” we see at the first of the book although the seeds were already there…his absolute determination to work toward a goal (leave the tenements and Earth). Much of the book is a real page turner and I hope Mr. Kloos is writing another book about Andrew and that it will soon be available!

Review: The Scrapyard Incident by Phillip Nolte

Another new author! Another addition to the New Author Challenge 2013. This challenge is hosted by the Literary Escapism blog.

The Scrapyard Incident
by Phillip Nolte
Junkyard Dogs, book 1
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Published by: Amazon Digital, 2013
E-book, purchased
365 pages
Grade: C+

Synopsis: Ensign Tamara Carlisle, a brilliant, beautiful but decidedly quirky young officer on a remote assignment to obtain information needed to finish her advanced degree in Military History…
Lieutenant Ryan Harris, a talented and experienced engineer who harbors doubts about his ability to command…Engineering Technician Angus Hawkins, a savvy veteran and former Chief Petty Officer busted down in rank for brawling…

These three unsuspecting individuals, marooned after a devastating sneak attack on the United Terran Federation Naval Reclamation Center– a huge, orbiting Junkyard located in a remote corner of Federation space– are forced to confront their limitations and team up to fight back against unknown, heavily armed foes who threaten their continued survival…


This is a self-published book and looks like the first book written by Phillip Nolte. I enjoy space opera and military science fiction and I liked this book. It could have been written tighter and I saw some editing errors, but overall I enjoyed the book.

I thought the idea of the Scrapyard was good. It’s a junkyard for spacecraft! The Scrapyard is formally known as the United Terran Federation Naval Reclamation Center–the derelict spacecraft left after a war and additional junked spacecraft brought here. The military has a base here because the parts from the spacecraft can often be sold and used for repairs. The military center is destroyed in a sneak attack and all but three military who are away from the Center in the Scrapyard during the attack are killed.

The three military left after a sneak attack are all engaging characters:

  • Ensign Tamara Carlisle…with a tattoo on her face and especially her habit of talking to herself while she was thinking is a well-drawn character.

She got into the short line that had formed as the newcomers were processed.
“…Reclamation center…checkpoint…credentials…take it easy, Tamara…,” she mumbled to herself.
“Pardon? said the man directly in front of her, turning slightly to acknowledge the speaker behind.
“What? Oh, I must’ve been talking to myself again. Bad habit. My apologies.”

I thought this was a clever character trait and made her more human and individual. However, this makes other people think she’s odd and she hasn’t fit in well with her academy classmates. She is intelligent, but she’s an outsider in the military. This book reminded me a little of Elizabeth Moon’s book Once a Hero about Lt. Esmay Suiza. Lt. Suiza is also young, very talented and an outsider in the military.

  • Lieutenant Ryan Harris is a stereotypical engineer…good at the technical, but not a good people person. During the course of the book he discovers he’s a better people person and leader than he thought.
  • The former Chief Petty Officer–now Engineering Technician Angus Hawkins (demoted due to a fight several years ago)–was the quintessential crusty, taciturn, but experienced NCO. Another stereotype…good officers know they should trust their experienced NCO even if he is crusty and has a chip on his shoulder!

While Lt. Harris, Ensign Carlisle and Engineering Tech Hawkins were having their battles with unknown forces their commanding officer and others on a space station are trying to figure out what force has taken over the space station and why. The book moves back and forth between the two locations as each battle for their lives and to try to figure out why the attacks happened.

I especially like that the military stayed true to being military. There is attraction between Lt. Harris and Ensign Carlisle, but during their fight in the Scrapyard he is her commander and he’s aware that it’s against regulations for them to become romantically involved. Also they were in the middle of life and death battles. It’s much more realistic that the attraction was there, but they were too busy fighting for their lives. There is a slight romance by the end of the book (after the battles are over and Lt. Harris is no longer her commander), but they go their separate ways. This is the first book in a series so perhaps they meet again in the next book. I hope so!

As I stated above I think the book would have benefited from more editing, but I do plan to buy the next book in this series and hope it comes out soon!