Review: The Perpetual Motion Club by Sue Lange

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Publisher: IBPA
Publishing Date: August 2013
ISBN:9780988748866
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 1.0/5.0

Publishers Description: Elsa Webb just wants to make it through her high school years with her dignity intact, but everyone – parents, teachers, basketball team – seems to be against her. She turns to the murky world of perpetual motion phenomena for answers. She starts a perpetual motion club and immerses herself in a strange, new scene filled with dubious characters intent on defying the laws of physics.

Review: This novel was intended for YA and consistently delivers in that regard. Novel is pretty focused on banter and diatribe between the nerdy/cloistered and myopic teen, Elsa and her “friends”. I am not sure whether the author is reliving her own past of stunted teen hormonal desires and self-justified anger or telling a tale. There is definitely a chip on her shoulder that sure comes through the story-line at the beginning that can only be generated by direct experience. Yet I may never really know what formative experiences shaped her motivational muse.

TPMC was a lengthy read about the day to day affairs of a young girl going through teen angst, and all it’s associated tedium. It involves reams of petty internalizations and justified recriminations tethered to blame. The only story line here was waiting for something to happen. YA novels should, IMO, build a framework of solutions for those that identify with the characters and their situations. Show the young reader a positive path of growth and maturity through the story-lines that they identify with. Cementing recriminatory behavior through a set of negative responses is no way to tell a story to impressionable people.

This story-line was not for me as there was none. However, the author’s prose (flow, logical progression) is very good. This was placed in the SciFi genre by the publisher/author. It is not SciFi. Teen/YA fiction is more accurate. SciFi should embrace a combination of attributes intrinsic to the genre like; new tech, alternate worlds/realities, new terms/definitions/language, constant movement/action, and usually some aliens/space travel (but not always). This novel embraced a known future in limited scope, with some tech that is not really a new idea, just re-invented to “not-work”.

I wanted to shoot myself a few times while reading this drivel and found myself skipping pages in order to escape the internal dialogue. The only notable portion of this book was the cover art that is somewhat inventive. This novel has no plot, a jumbled story-line involving hormones, no finale’ and weakly developed characters other than Elsa. The author could have built emotional intricacies between the characters that reached a positive catharsis and invested a large portion of the novel into actually developing new tech. The future in which the story takes place is mundane, in that the only things that separate our reality from the story is talking doors and punks wearing ads from sponsors. Oh right, it’s the same.

Review: Witch Hunt by Tabitha Morrow

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Publisher:Diversion Books
Publishing Date: July 2013
ISBN: 9781626811119
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.8/5.0

Publishers Description: For sixteen-year-old Ruth, life in New Salem is simple. Obey her parents, go to school, stay inside the walls, and never question the will of the Council. The Council governs New Salem and keeps its people safe, burning mysterious effigies to remind the villagers of the physical and spiritual dangers that seek to infiltrate New Salem’s walls.

Review: This novella was a surprisingly fun read. Good story line (to a point) coupled with good character development made for an interesting read.

The places where it fell a little flat were the unexplained portions of the story. Like if there is a modern world behind the “Wall”, why can’t the modern world see the wall? That was never explained. I thought the inclusion of the world beyond the wall, brought an interesting alternate world story to the brink of failure. Stories that gift you with fantasy visualizations of times and places unknown then bonk you on the head with a reality that reflects your own tends to detract from the story-line.

Overall, I like the writing style and the first half of the novels story line, until it devolves into commonality. The cover art is bizarre. Is that a burning pyre or a malformed fire witch? At least depict Elsa, on a hill overlooking the town with the “wall” in the distance. Or Elsa in the warlocks grand chamber, skulking around. Marry some images from the story-line to gain some perspective at least. I would give this one a chance, in hopes that future works develop experience.

Review: Timegazer by Moses Solomon

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Publisher: Moses Solomon
Publishing Date: May 2013
ISBN: 9780989490245
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 1.8/5.0

Publishers Description: Shot down by an unidentified particle beam while en route to a resort planet, Morgan Teggo and Rayna Choff find themselves on a quest to discover the nefarious plans of the mysterious man behind the ancient weapon.

Review: This novel was very short, pretty much a novella. In short it read like a 1950’s scifi B-movie. Jumbled plot, erratic story-line, no back story and a huge suspension of disbelief as the story advances through time. This story was so erratic, that once you thought you had it visualized, the author would introduce something that shattered any notion you originally had.

There were some interesting pieces within, like the native race on the planet and the indigenous wildlife, that I thought the author could have developed better. Novellas should be elegant and straight forward in order to realize the limits and express the wonder. Timegazer has neither.

Review: The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

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Publisher: Del Rey
Publishing Date: October 2013
ISBN:9780553804690
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5

Publishers Description: Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body—though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.

Review: This is the third novel in this series, and perhaps the last? I am kicking my unaware ass right now as I missed out on the first two novels in this series. This novel picks up on the life saga of Locke, the "Oliver Twist" in an alternate reality. There are quite a few parallels to the Dickens novel that are more interesting to note, than shamefully replicative. I think the author is paying homage' to the great writer.

The author makes visualizing the scenes effortless and is wholly remarkable. The story-line interleaves with the scenes and character development to create a seamless work that moves forward with rapidity. You want to keep reading, it is that good. The cover might be confusing, in that it is most likely a scene from "The Republic of Thieves" play, that our Gentlemen Bastards enact as part of the novel. I think the cover art was more expedience than actual invested thought into what would best depict the entirety of the novel. Below I have posted the other two covers that were published. Not quite there with any of them. You decide.

This is a very long novel, (about 800 pages) and well worth it. I initially gave this one of my highest reviews when I was halfway through it. I have adjusted my rating down a couple of tenths due to some lengthy acting diatribe, that I think was more self-indulgent authorship than really critical to the story-line. Perhaps I will order the first two in the series as a determinate in addition to the author getting a haircut.

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Review: Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi

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Publisher: Smith Publicity
Publishing Date: July 2013
ISBN: 4444455889977
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: When eighteen-year-old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.”

This novel was well received by most reviewers on Goodreads. Pretty trippin’ fantasy novel with an Asian theme. Dragons, guardians, elemental Gods, etc. round out a great story-line and well crafted character development. In a short span of reading, your drawn in through the action and sympathetic to the characters.

While some reviewers thought the subject matter was “too heavy” (as opposed to too light?), what they may have meant was that there may have been too many tangents to the main story line. The author gives a little background on those prior relationships, which I think is just enough to develop your understanding and current placement of the characters in the story. Does it enhance the novel? Maybe. I am in between detraction and enhancement on that one.

While Keiko should annoy the crap out of me, I find that she is just the right amount of incredulous, blended with a growing acceptance of her role in the weakening of the Boundary. As the story grows, so does her inner strength and subsequent abilities. The author is careful not to retro or incapacitate her emotional/physical abilities like a lot of authors do. When authors periodically weaken the main characters through second guessing, emotional frailties or loss of physical/magical ability, it creates a frustrating scenario for the reader. Those author’s goals are to draw you in to the character, and root for the home team, so to speak. This is a failed formula that is too often repeated in novel after novel, especially the Fantasy genre.

This author is a great find. Powerful (and short) scene descriptive really helps the reader to visualize the story as it unfolds, with practiced ease. As you learn the authors style, you no longer read the words but live the dream. There are some scene developments that you just can’t visualize, as the authors intent is not discernible. A little frustrating, as you have to conjure your own imaginative depictions. I love the cover art, as in clouds you find the answers to life.

My recommendation is to buy it if you like heavy duty Fantasy, coupled with non-stop action. If you like prancing unicorns on quests to find the fabled One Tree of Flagicornia, then this novel is not for you.

Review: Powder Burn by Mark Chisnell

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Publisher: Patchwork press
Publishing Date: March 2013
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
ISBN: 9781483940045
Rating: 2.5/5

Publisher Description: If Dragon Tattoo’s Mikael Blomkvist and the Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen could have a love-child, she’d probably be a lot like Sam Blackett…

……..Ummm, how bout’ no. Katniss didn’t strike me as a whiney self-absorbed little baby that’s always crying about her mommy, dirty underwear, job, ex-boyfriend, the cold, sore legs, shooting people, bus rides, and everyone around her. If I was Vegas, I would have done as he recommended…never brought her along in the first place. So the author gives us a good dose of buzz-kill right from the get go. Coupled to a story-line that could put a ferret on meth to sleep and you have a horrific recipe for a writing disaster.

So basically, you have an entire book of people hiking around and whining, until they get to some fantasy realm called Shibde, ruled by really bad guys called the Demagistan. Meanwhile, there are two Shibde getting a lost Emperors magic sword that can oust the Demagistan. But wait, this is no ordinary sword! It was made by the CIA with a force field and auto-DNA imprint recognition. Why, You ask? To start the over-throw of the Demagistan. Really? The only reason this rated a 2.5 is the cover art and the authors prose. Who doesn’t like a hot silhouette brandishing a Katana? Fuk Yeah!

What this novel has is a dam good writer whom understands how to put it all together in terms of flow. It is wholly evident in how easy it was to read. The story-line should have been edited by a good friend not afraid of the authors thousand yard stare. Pare down the whining and the internal dialogue, give it a good kick in the action bollocks and erase that ending. The cover art coupled with the first chapter had me believing that the sword master and the chosen were taking place a thousand years ago and that somehow (fast forward to the present) the hot chick finds it and A-W-A-Y WE GO!!! From there the story could have taken on a whole new and interesting turn.

If you get this book, FOR FREE, my recommendation is to scroll your kindle to the 90% mark, and start there. You get a taste of the mountaineering, the whole story is revealed and you get the final action sequence and the left field ending.

Review: The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond

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Publisher: Angry Robot
Publishing Date: September 2013
ISBN:9781908844262
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.8/5

Publishers Description: Seventeen-year-old Kyra lives in a transformed Washington, D.C., home to the embassies of divine pantheons and the mysterious Society of the Sun. But when rebellious Kyra encounters two trickster gods on her way back from school, one offering a threat and the other a warning, it turns out her life isn’t what it seems. She escapes with the aid of Osborne “Oz” Spencer, an intriguing Society field operative, only to discover that her scholar father has disappeared with a dangerous relic. The Society needs it, and they don’t care that she knows nothing about her father’s secrets.

Most of the reviewers on Goodreads gave this novel very high marks…and were all women…..2 to be exact with one giving it 5 stars but no reviewable content. Hmmm.
Gwenda Bond is pretty hot, in an elfish sort of way so it pains me to say that this novel fell flat. In brief, here’s why. Kyra’s constant infernal dialogue definitely detracts from the entire novel. I have no idea why a lot of chick writers feel the need to fill the novel with drivel. Maybe it is an emotive needs thang. More likely, the writer runs out of creative insight and wants page filler until the Grande finale. The whole premise was never explained in full, so the reader is left with catching up when the author introduces new elements. Not hard to figure out, just a minor distraction. Scenes are jumbled and stilted when they need to follow a logical progression. And then we have the love triangle element that seems to rear its ugly head in so many novels these days. Petty emotions really pull the novel down, much like internal dialogue.

I really liked the story-line. It was just a little under-developed with very little action. The author could have kept the pace up, with the constant introduction and inter-action with a variety of Gods. Now that would have been interesting and historically enlightening. Bring in Shiva, Kali, Frigg, Si-Wang-Mu, and Ixtab. Have them all interact in amazing ways (plots, god love triangles, scheming, powers and relics gifted to mortals so they can complete certain tasks).

Unless you get this for free, don’t buy it. If the author entertains a second novel in the series, she really needs to follow my advice about enhancing the story-line.