Book Probe: Dead Moon, Phoenix Falling, Stray Moon

Book Probe knows you need new books. Here is a helpful list of such things, eliminating all that troublesome freedom of choice. Book Probe is your friend.

Dead Moon by Peter Clines


Audiobooks are the best. They eliminate the troublesome flipping of pages and thus, keep you safe from paper cuts.

I’m a big fan of Peter Clines’ Ex-Heroes books, about superheroes after a zombie outbreak. This one is about bad things who show up on the moon after we’ve been using it as a garbage dump. Naturally, hijinks ensue.

While listening to Ray Porter read the book, it appears that he’s having a difficult time containing his joy at performing the reading. is infectious.

The story is a combo package of a Western and Blade Runner, with a bleak hero and a gritty world and attempts to survive therein. Listen now. Your ears (and papercut-free fingers) will thank you.


Winds of Marque by Bennett R. Coles

This book is good for what ails you: pirates in space!

You can tell how much fun author Bennett R. Coles was having as he created the story. The book is just plain fun, worth plopping on the couch and enjoying.

It’s funny, thrilling, and worth rereading. I need more of this, as soon as possible.


Phoenix Falling by Laura Bickle

Wildlands has an incredible female hero who has a coyote for a sidekick.

I guess I need to write more about the book, but that would have sold me on it right there. COYOTE FOR A SIDEKICK.

If you have not yet read this series, you’ll need to read the rest before you read this one, but hey, new series. That’s always a good thing.

If you’re already a Wildlands fan, this story sticks the landing in a lot of ways. This one has sweet romantic stuff, supernatural evil stuff, and awesome world-building. Pick it up now, but since it’s the last in the series, you may want to savor it. Or just read it more than once, or seek out more from author Laura Bickle. All of these choices are good ones.

Stray Moon by Kelly Meding

This series (it’s book 2, so as of now it counts as a series) is plenty of fun, a cop drama wrapped up in supernatural shenanigans.

It’s technically an “urban fantasy,” I reckon, but at its heart, it’s a police adventure that happens to have werewolves in it (the first book had vampires.)

The story treats the supernatural as just another day at the office, which has been a plot point in some of my favorite things, such as Marvel’s “Damage Control” comic and Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden stories.

My favorite quote: “Magic is a funny bitch.”

Stray Moon is a fun time. I can’t wait to read more from Kelly Meding.

Mythicals by Dennis Meredith

Fun. That’s what this is.

Fairy-tale creatures are real, but they’re aliens bent on wiping out puny humans. Except for some good fairy-tale creatures. Hijinks ensue.

This one goes all-in with a combo package of sci-fi and fantasy, and a surprising amount of emotional eloquence, as author Dennis Meredith goes right for our feelings.

Meredith has created a neat world here that he could probably write 20 more books about. He should get started doing that, right now.

It’s good stuff, as Meredith delivers action and drama with an equally expert touch. Give this one a shot.

The Shattered Sun by Rachel Dunne

This is book 3 in a series that reminds me a lot of playing Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a swords-and-sorcery action story with evil magic users, an intrepid party, and lots of bad die rolls.

You’ll need to read the first two books in this series, but that’s a feature, not a bug. It’s one big story, missing only a fantasy-world map at the beginning of the book. When there’s a map it’s an easy signal, in a good way, that authors think way too much about their stories. In this case, the rest of the book shows the author spent way too much time digging into the world she created.

In short, this is good stuff, and it’ll get you amped up to play more games or read more sword-and-sorcery. At the same time, if possible. I can’t wait to see the next thing that author Robin Dunne does.

Elk Riders by Ted Neill

Reading is fine, but maybe your ears get jealous.  Listening. That’s where it’s at.

That’s the same review I could start any audiobook with, and I just might. Ted Neill’s Elk Riders was a surprise treat — it’s an epic fantasy in an audiobook.

I haven’t yet completed the whole Elk Riders series at the time of this review,  but so far, this whole production is just fun. Listening to this improves drive time by a factor of a zillion.

Family and faith are interwoven in the book’s themes. The stories are cathartic, fun, and thrilling.

My favorite so far is book 3, where the hero is an epileptic. The story doesn’t make him a token or shy away from his challenges. This is not the struggle of a fantasy-adventure character; people I know face that challenge. This is great stuff.

Above and beyond all that, the stories feature magic elk. I should have led with that.

The Lost Puzzler by Eyal Kless

Author Eyal Kless is a classical violinist, but he can whomp up a sci-fi adventure novel, too.

It’s about a ragtag crowd of people in a dystopian society after everything got blowed up real good.

The press release says the book is a combo of “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Canterbury Tales,” and now I can’t un-compare the book to those two things. The author captures the energy and the craziness of “Fury Road” in the world he creates, while the depth of the characters shows that he has thought way too much about the world he has created (I mean that as a compliment.)

This one is the first book in a series, and you will need need the next part, right now. Or sooner.

Political Comedy Bonus: Donald and the Golden Crayon

I’m all in for figuratively flipping the bird at authority figures, and this one takes aim at one Donald Trump himself.

It’s a parody of “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” the classic book for kiddos. As such, it nails the tone and the style of the source material.

As political funniness, the book is pretty good. It pokes PG-13 fun at the prez, going all-in on references to a few dozen of the zillions of Trump-centric things that have happened during the Trump presidency.

A concern of mine is how well this book will age. That’s not a big concern for its makers, probably — it makes fun of a moment in time, like a “Saturday Night Live” sketch.

The book takes good shots at the prez, but not in a mean-spirited way — the book is more Jimmy Fallon instead of John Oliver.

The book ends in a rush, trying to cram in a bunch of Trump references that the book had not yet hit on. However, the final page is a deep pop culture reference that I really liked.

There will be enough material to make a sequel, maybe by the time I’m finished writing this review.

It’s difficult to laugh at some of this stuff, but we have to give it a shot.

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