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Tom's Book Recommendations

Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries #6) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250765376
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tordotcom - April 27th, 2021

Murderbot is back and the body count keeps increasing! The newest novella in the Murderbot Diaries was released this past Tuesday, and it is an absolute joy to read. The space station murder/mystery ratchets up the intrigue as the plot spirals out from Preservation Station, bolstered by the wry cynicisms of our favorite dour SecurityUnit. The internal narration of the work, like all the Murderbot Diaries books, is a constantly escalating, dangerously fun, kick in the teeth. I highly recommend everything written by Martha Wells, but especially the Murderbot Diaries. Start with the first novella, All Systems Red, if you need a reason that this series is so beloved, but don’t wait too long to read the newest work, Fugitive Telemetry.

Operation Vengeance: The Astonishing Aerial Ambush That Changed World War II Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780062938091
Published: William Morrow - August 11th, 2020

 have always been fascinated by the US policy on assassination of its enemies. The most famous example from World War Two is that of Admiral Yamamoto, the Japanese military leader and architect of the Pearl Harbor attack. I recently realized that there is a great book out that discusses the targeted attack on the Admiral, Operation Vengeance. Written by Dan Hampton, it is aptly titled OPERATION VENGEANCE. I can go back and forth on if the US assassinated Yamamoto, but this book does a pretty good job of laying out the history of the operation

A Man at Arms: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393540970
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - March 2nd, 2021

I’m in the middle of enjoying the newest from Steven Pressfield, author of the classic historical fiction novel about the Spartans’ and Athenians’ last stand at Thermopylae. His new one is A MAN AT ARMS, which explores the chaotic world of the Roman-occupied Middle East. Never slow, A MAN AT ARMS excels in engrossing the reader in the midst of historical events. Pick up a copy for yourself or the ancient historian in your life! 

How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780316498678
Published: Orbit - August 18th, 2020

I don’t generally like unreliable narrators, but I have found a really enjoyable read in K.J. Parker’s HOW TO RULE AN EMPIRE AND GET AWAY WITH IT. Set in the same world as SIXTEEN WAYS TO DEFEND A WALLED CITY, which I raved about as one of the best fantasy books from 2019, this one is another loose alternative history of Imperial Rome. Seven years into the siege of the capital, a cynical actor/playwright is kidnapped and forced to play a role as a key player in the imperial strata. The author constantly plays with the expectations of the reader, while wryly reflecting on what makes a good story. While classified as fantasy, this excellent novel could read like an alternative history of the Fall of Rome, as full of lies and half truths as anything by Plutarch or Virgil. This book is a lot of fun, especially for anyone who has an inkling of interest in ancient Rome.

By Force Alone Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250753458
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books - August 11th, 2020

I’m a sucker for King Arthur retellings. Lavie Tidhar takes the cake for strangest retelling ever, and that’s because he incorporates all the retellings into one. Every strange take and historical retelling from England, Wales, France, and greater Europe gets a shoutout, from a fish-cat monster and Irish invaders to Lancelot and the search for the holy grail/meteor/dragon’s egg. The tip of the hat to the Holy Grail conspiracy theories that include Joseph of Arimathea was particularly enjoyable. The way Lavie winds these tales together to create political satire is brilliant, and this book is by turns hilarious and gritty. After all, as Lavie regularly reminds the reader, kings are made BY FORCE ALONE. Brutal and dark, this tale doesn’t shy away from the filthy tale of Arthur’s rise to power, more akin to gang warfare than the romantically chivalrous tales of knights errant that one might expect from classic Arthurian legends. This is my new favorite King Arthur.