Review: Angelbound by Christina Bauer


Publisher: Ink Monster, LLC.
Publishing Date: November 2013
Rating: 4.85/5.0

Publisher Description: Eighteen year old Myla Lewis is a girl who loves two things: kicking ass and kicking ass. She’s not your every day quasi-demon, half-demon and half-human, girl. For the past five years, Myla has lived for the days she gets to fight in Purgatory’s arena. When souls want a trial by combat for their right to enter heaven or hell, they go up against her, and she hasn’t lost a battle yet.

Review: This was a great teen angst/daemon novel set in Purgatory, where the Quasi-demons reside under the fateful rule of ghouls that are aligned with the King of Hell. Our heroine, Myla and her friend Cissy make for a dynamic duo that is both funny and poignant. Cissy is the best of friends, until her envy side rears it’s ugly head and Myla is only interested in invoking her wrath in the purgatory arena to take out truly evil souls that have chosen trial by combat.

The author creates some great interactions in descriptive settings and has a splendid imagination with regard to the various daemons and angels in her world. There are arachnid daemons, Queen of Angels, King of Hell, Ghouls that can open portals, Gelatinous daemons and a high school with quasi demons (human and daemon) that sport different tails. Myla is an expert at killing demons of every kind imaginable. She is tough and tender with a great sense of witty self-deprecation that allows for the reader to genuinely care what happens to her. the cover art is really good. Myla in a dragon suit,…kewl.

Wow, I loved this novel. The novels concept and subsequent story-line is fantastic. The scene development really transports you to a different alternate reality. Although primarily written for the Teen/YA crowd, adults should really take a look at a wonderful talent in the fantasy genre. Much like my fave new writer, AJ Salem, I plan on adding Ms. Bauer to that list.

Review: The Devil Dances by K.H. Koehler


Publisher:Curiosity Quills Press
Publishing Date: November 2013
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.8/5.0

Publishers Description: My name is Nicholas Englebrecht and I’m the heir to hell. I’m the Angel-breaker. I’m the goddamn son of the fucking devil and you should know that if you piss me off, things are going to go very bad for you…

Nick Englebrecht is lured to a strange, isolated Amish colony by the mysterious death of a nameless young man. It’s supposed to be a simple enough investigation. Find the kid’s family. Find out what happened to him. But when you’re the devil’s kid, with angels and demons gunning for you at every turn, things have a habit of turning bad fast. Before Nick knows it, he’s up to his ass in bodies, femme fatales, and ancient, bloodthirsty gods with a taste for human flesh.

Review: This is the second novel in the series, showcasing our anti-hero, Nick, the son of Satan. The cover art has this colorful comic vibe to it. I really think this is a great cover. Will draw in a wide variety of readers.

Basically without giving the novel away, Nick heads out to Amish country with his GF, Vivian, whom is also a daemon. From their they tussle with locals and an ancient god. Not to mention a host of angels. I frickin’ loved this novel. It was funny, witty, had a great story-line and fantastic character development. Even the minor bit players were very well developed.

There were some minor points where the novel fell down. Like, how does Nick go from super bad-ass one moment, to getting the crap beat out of him by a farm-hand, then back to destroying Angels, then getting his ass handed to him by a Satyr. Just a bit inconsistent for the Prince of Lies. The hetero sex while evident was not really well developed, unlike Nick’s gay interactions. The author placed WAY too much focus on the homo-erotic, IMHO.

The ending sets up an epic finale, where may haps ( and I ‘am guessing) Nick gets his well deserved picket fence.
GET THIS NOVEL! You will enjoy yourself for hours.

Review: The Dream Thieves (2) by Maggie Stiefvater


Publishing Date: September 2013
ISBN: 9780545424943
Genre: Fantasy/YA
Rating: 3.1/5.0

Publisher Description: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after….

Review: I would really recommend reading the first in this series prior to reading this as a stand alone. The author makes no attempt to catch any new readers up to speed. I have always appreciated that type of approach as it lessens the filler bullshjt and is less likely to cheapen the novel. Being on the receiving end of this approach kind of sucks, especially when there are words that the author has developed that relate directly to the story-line. Cabeswater, Greywarren and other things? Locations? Events?

The writing style is a love it or hate it type. The story-line progresses through fits of personal interactions and back to the main story-line. Once you think you’re progressing, the author drops everything and your re-living an event in the first novel, but the author provides no background for the reader. Again, a good reason to read the first novel. There is also a lot of personal history between the characters that leaves you scratching your head at why these people react a certain way to others in seemingly benign situations. There are constant story-line shifts that run the gamut of finding a certain something or someone, to deciphering material objects garnered from the dream-world, then back into intense teen angst.

There are thoughts and actions that you, the reader, are privy to but make no sense. We are usually in the heads of various characters emotions as they live them out, but in the end we are no closer to understanding them (or caring for them) as there is no emotive justification. The author does not generate enough interest in any of the characters because their development is more EMO and black. The process is more like scratching the surface to see what bleeds rather than looking for the heart.

I really liked the cover art. Ronan with multi- Chainsaw ravens. Real cool.

This novel generally got really good reviews, from people with an un-requited lust for imaginary Raven punks. I really liked the author’s writing style, but still stand firmly rooted to the ideal that if a novel in a series can’t stand alone, then it fails the reader. Now before all you Emo/Stiefvater sycophants go ape-shjt, I DID like this novel. It had a few problems with the jumbled story-line, one dimensional characters and failure as a stand-alone BUT the author has brilliant prose that is almost hypnotic. Theres your bone to gnaw on while I run away.

Review: Ragnarok by Brian James


Publisher: Smith
Publishers Date: November 2013
ISBN: 9781462694280
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5.0

Description: The Viking gods have been banished from Asgard by Odin. Today they make the best of life on Earth. Thor is a professional athlete, Freya a prostitute, and Loki sells cheap products on QVC. Lurking in the background of their lives is a prophecy; one that declares that their time is at an end. Ragnarok is about to throw the gods into a state of civil war and the one who controls the hammer of Thor may be able to change the arc of destiny.

Review: This is an epic commentary on todays American pop culture. The author pokes fun at anything from Bill O’reilly, and Oprah to Area 51. It is a hilarious romp through pop culture coupled with an epic tale of Norse Mythology and their Gods.

There were some fall downs within the novel that were minor like pistols with 40 mm ammo, which is impossible. I think the author meant 40 caliber. Also, you will wonder why the God Freya with all her abilities, chooses to become a prostitute when she obviously hates it. Wouldn’t it have been easier to shack up with one rich dude? Would not have been as interesting but the Freya story-line was not real believable. The cover is really bad. It is like the publisher pulled a cover from an un-related novel and stuck it on. Looks like a bunch of birds at a lava feeder. None of what is depicted relates to the story.

The author takes a mythos-story and turns it on it’s ear. Odin is a dick whom trades his children like cattle. Thor is a whoring drunk whom hates Odin for trading his wife, Sif to a demon whom rapes her. Thor’s brother stabs him in the back as does Sif. Odin tries to kill Thor, repeatedly. Idun, the goddess of longevity is summarily killed without a second thought. The only true relationship in the whole novel is Freya and Thor, and even that is a pretty loose relationship throughout the whole novel up until the end.

Get this novel if you enjoy glib and witty commentary that pummels popular culture at every turn. The story-line is funny and interesting with solid character development that both enhances and sets up the commentary.

Review: Blood Moon by Geoff huntington


Publisher: Diversion
Publishing Date: October 2013
Genre: Fantasy/YA
Rating: 4.3/5.0

Publishers Description: The mystery of the Tower at Ravenscliff is at last revealed, in the long awaited continuation of The Ravenscliff Series. A returning threat roams the halls of Ravenscliff Manor, the mad sorceress Clarissa, but she is only one of many problems facing Devon March. His budding relationship with Cecily takes a hit when he discovers she might be his (gulp!) sister, while his pal Marcus is mysteriously linked with the savage, gorilla-like beast that turns up in Misery Point on nights of the full moon.

Review: This is the third in the Ravenscliff series, featuring our intrepid, hormonal sorcerer, Devon. We finally see why Marcus has a pentagram floating in front of his face and Cecily’s mom’s secrets revealed to all.

The author lets you walk beside some real inductive reasoning retards, where anyone with half a brain could put two and two together and get the desired outcome. Devon still thinks Cecily could be his sister, even though the evidence and her mom say otherwise. It is patently obvious who the werewolf and Clarissa are, but Mr. Dumbshit kid-scorcerer can’t find his butt with two hands. I really don’t think this style of writing adds to the suspense. In fact, I think it detracts. If you want to be suspenseful, make the clues hard to discern and cleverly disguised, not out in plane site, where you, the reader, are left waiting for the imbecilic characters to catch up.

For instance, a werewolf is terrorizing the town and Devon’s friend Marcus has had this pentagram floating on his face for quite awhile. During a full moon Marcus disappears (repeatedly) his parents are acting hysterical and wont let anyone see him, and when they do he is all scratched up and bloody. Hmmmmm. Oh, and when Cecilys best friend decides to walk with Marcus to a rendezvous, she is attacked by a werewolf, but Marcus is no where to be found. Hmmmmmm. And all Devon can come up with is “Marcus, I think you are somehow tied to the werewolf”. No shit Sherlock. Even after the werewolf ghost visits Devon and draws a freakin’ pentagram in front of his face and turns into a ghost werewolf. Another weird event is when Devon is in the past and only briefly thinks about seeing his father, but then dismisses it as not being relevant to the task of saving his friend of less than one year, Marcus. Huh? So, the author builds a MAJOR portion of Devon’s character around his dad, and laments about his loss and involvement in the Nightwing for two prior novels AND has no inclination to go see him. Wow. Talk about falling down on the story-line.

I really shouldn’t like the cover, but it’s good in a kitchy way. The only problem is that the birds are not ravens nor are they mammalian bats. The ratio of body mass to wing length is more like a seagulls. (Hey, it’s the finer points).

Despite the wonders of being young and stupid in a gratingly acerbic way, this was a really good novel. Not as good as the first, but definitely better than the second. Again we have a good story-line and great character development. The scene development really makes the novel what it is. The author really describes his surroundings while continuing the story in parallel. Draws you into the depths of the story. Hopefully the resurrected desire of the readership will avail the author to continue the series to finality.

Review: Mars Inc. by Ben Bova


Publisher: Baen
Publishing Date: December 2013
Genre: Scifi
Rating: 3.0/5.0

Publishers Description: How do you get to the Red Planet? Not via a benighted government program trapped in red tape and bound by budget constrictions, that’s for sure. No, what it will take is a helping of adventure, science, corporate powerplays, a generous dollop of seduction—both in and out of the boardroom—and money, money, money!

Review: First off, the cover art is really sad. Poor showing for the Scifi genre with Bova’s name attached. A behemoth ship being built above Earth or hovering over Mars would have been much better. Instead we have a suit in a boardroom with a picture of the Mars landing. Weeeee!!!!

This was a pretty fun read. Thrasher is just great throughout the novel. Well developed in a shallow skirt chasing sort of way. The billionaires were presented as forming a set of very eclectic personalities, but we never saw the development of these personalities which would have made for a very interesting novel. Instead we follow Thrasher around the world on his forays to unite the world in his quest to realize a Mars landing with a live crew. Throw in some hot chicks here and there, either as virtual eye candy or for Thrashers pleasure and we start to get one-dimensional.

There have been some really good scifi novels that embraced the visual antics of sex, kind of like being there too. Bova intimates that sex is occurring without the descriptors. Like, you just have to take his word that it happened. If your going to spend a fair amount of time describing women that Thrasher interacts with or goes to bed with, then go all the way with the scene development. It will not cheapen the novel. If Thrasher has a mild love interest and is not as focused on women, then play it thin on the scenes.

This novel is in the Scifi genre but I would say that it is fiction. There is no culmination with the actual landing of Mars. There are no aliens, bacteria, ancient structures or hidden water caches underground. It is an entertaining novel about the fiscal/political construct to achieve Mars. It is fun and insightful with good writing but not awe inspiring.

Review: Selfish Beings by JL Morris


Publisher: Carina
Publishing Date: November 2013
ISBN: 9781472054814
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.6/5.0

Publisher Description: Unless, like Kaarl, you are a demon and your home is Hell…literally!
While the rest of Hell enjoys cruel games, Kaarl is looking for a new challenge. So he makes a deal with the devil himself: time in the Mortal Realm in return for human souls…
The Mortal Realm offers a taste of freedom he could never experience in Hell and Kaarl jumps at the chance to fulfill his dream. But gathering human souls comes with a cost and as more and more souls lose their way, Kaarl realises that he is creating Hell on his beloved Earth.
Now to save the Mortal Realm, Kaarl’s going to have to switch sides…

Review: This was a great read. Very entertaining. Kaarl plays a demons youngest son whom, gifted with an understanding of the mortal realm is conscripted by Satan to bring more souls to perdition. What made this novel so entertaining was the variety of biblical characters and their innate personalities. I thought Gabriel was really well developed, and offers comedic relief in the form of destruction. The twins were also very well done. They will have you laughing in no time with their sarcastic wit.

The story-line took a bit of a different turn at about the half-way mark. I expected the realm of heaven and paradise to be something that you could not quite grasp the meaning of. This would have been a direct polar opposite to perdition. Instead the author continues the “humanistic theme” into the hosts of heaven and makes them all too real and susceptible to base emotions. At first I didn’t like it but as the novel wore on It was really a good choice for the entertainment value it creates.

The cover art is really bad. It looks like a jelly fish with a Christmas hat. This is a well crafted novel with really good pace that involves the reader from the start. I can see this continuing in a series, in hopes that by wanting, it will become.

Review: The Shadow Protocol by Andy McDermott


Publisher: Dell
Publishing Date: January 2014
ISBN: 9780345537065
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 1.0/5.0

Publishers Description: Adam Gray is a cipher, a disciplined loner conditioned not to betray a single emotion. Part of an elite team spearheaded by a brilliant neuroscientist, Gray is a covert agent armed with PERSONA, a device that allows him to copy the brain patterns of the terrorists and operatives he meets in the field. For twenty-four hours he can recall their memories. He can know every detail of their plans. He can be America’s worst enemy—before he’s back to being Adam Gray again.

Review: I have always enjoyed the Eddie Chase/Nina Wilde series as a form of secret reading indulgence. Kind of an epic adventure-fest coupled with somewhat shallow character development. The way the story-lines are crafted you soon forget the flaws and enjoy yourself.

The Shadow Protocol starts off as an interesting read. The technological premise, if not in use already, makes you think that the developmental probability is high. The action scenes are well developed and the movement from scene to scene captures your interest.
I got to the 16% mark of this novel and determined that I could not finish it. Here is why. The author (whom is from England) starts making cracks at America and Americans in general by vetting political positions through his characters. For instance:

Americans think that anyone to the left of Thatcher is a communist….People over here start screaming ‘Socialism!’ about policies that even the most right-wing government in Europe would consider a bit extreme. I don’t know if it is funny or scary. “When it comes to American politics, it’s both.”

My political position notwithstanding, I really can’t stand when foreign authors sling their own brand of political shjt across the pond in the form of fiction. They use this convenient little vehicle as a soapbox to point fingers and lay blame without fear of rebuttal. They know nothing about America, Americans in general or the complex political landscape we find ourselves in with the current polarization crisis. My advice has been to many authors, by direct communication, is to leave your political bullshjt opinions to yourself, as it ruins a novels veracity.

The author is kind of a two-faced fool. He writes in a genre that currently gives the biggest buck for this particular bang (CIA, Military, anti-terrorism), and still finds the time to talk shjt about America.

If the author would look to his own EU poly/econo situation, he might find that his exhortations are better spent in getting his own ship in order. Oh, almost forgot, the cover-art looks like a trapped monkey in an animal testing laboratory.

Review: Moth by Daniel Arenson


Publisher: Moonclipse
Publishing Date: November 2013
ISBN: 9781927601150
Genre: fantasy
Rating: 2.5/5.0

Publisher Description: They say the world used to turn. They say that night would follow day in an endless dance. They say that dawn rose, dusk fell, and we worshiped both sun and stars. That was a long time ago. The dance has died. The world has fallen still. We float through the heavens, one half always in light, one half always in shadow. Like the moth of our forests, one wing white and the other black, we are torn. My people are the fortunate. We live in daylight, blessed in the warmth of the sun. Yet across the line, the others lurk in eternal night, afraid… and alone in the dark. I was born in the light. I was sent into darkness. This is my story.

Review: I didn’t like the beginning of this novel. The dialogue and scene development seemed stilted and “nerdy”. Like someone still living in their parents basement, playing online D&D with other 40 year olds. There were some repetitive lines that were soon grinding on my mind. I think if I read “…and cold sweat trickled down his back” one more time I will fly into a manic rage and start the Emo cutting.

I would have thought that the nerdists that flock to these kinds of epic LARPing novels would have caught some of the basic flaws in the story-line. We have a planet where one side is in perpetual darkness and the other in daylight. If we assume that this is a planet with a sun, then this planet (Moth) would take one year to cycle from day to night, not perpetually in either state as the earth still circles the sun. So the cities on either side would experience half the year in daylight and the other half in night (assuming the planets orbit around the sun is the same as Earths). Temperature swings from season to season would be much greater with those areas along the equator (infernally hot) and their geographical counterpart, extremely cold. We don’t really see the seasons affected on Moth. As we don’t know the latitude or longitude of Moth, I can only assume (based on the map provided) that this area is somewhere along the equator. There is also the matter of Moth being susceptible to harmful solar wind radiation if the planet is not rotating (magnetic field generation).

The novel prefaces their origins as being on a daily day/night cycle when, at some point, it changed to perpetual day on one side and night on the other. The ecosystem/habitat as well as the flora and fauna of Moth don’t parallel a logical evolutionary development to what it is at present. It would take millennia to move an ecosystems development from a day/night daily cycle to a half year cycle. Since a perpetual day/night cycle is impossible on this planet that doesn’t rotate I can’t really give a biological scenario that makes sense. Even with the half year cycle, and the equator being infernally hot, those equatorial areas would quickly become desert (unless there are weather patterns on Moth that support a lengthy monsoon season). Additionally, without an earthly rotation, there would no longer be an equatorial bulge. This spin and bulge hold most of the water at the equator. No spin and the water is mostly at the poles with large land formations at the equator (hence my assumption that Moth is at the equator).
There is a whole world that needs to be built, biologically and astronomically etc. around a consistent and believable story-line. LARPers eating mulberry fruit and thriving in a world that exists in total daylight is not scientifically supportable. Whole biomes would have to be created to accept that this is an alien environment with alien peoples. The author built a world that is essentially Earth, with a twist.

The cover art is really bad. Looks like a third grader with a crayon dropped some acid.

Koyee is an Elorian that differs from the day lighters by having large owl-like eyes (the better to see you with). Koyee is really the only story to follow that is worth a read. She is a great character whom travels to the big city on the dark side to enlist the help of her people against the day lighters. The rest of the mini-stories that make up the story-line are pretty poor in comparison. Take for instance, Koyee’s brother, Okado whom is now leader (Alpha pack leader) of some clan that lives wherever seeking revenge on being cast out. It mostly reads like a comic rendition of a Viking feast. “Yaargh, you are a coward…I will not step aside for long….I will rule this pack….My queen Alpha is hotter than your Viking chick…Yaaargh!!!!” Torin (on the daylight side) is also a weak story-line. They let the monks pretty much run the show and brain-wash everyone into believing that there needs to be a war with the Elorian in order for them to consummate their power as the new religion. Hmmm. I guess people are dumb. Especially people in a village that have lived, thrived and died together for millennia. They all of a sudden abandon trust in their own and place it in a monks new religious zealotry. Not believable considering the setting that was developed. There is no magic, which would have added to the story-line. There was no prognostications of future events foretold in the ancient this or that, that might give credence and validity to our two heroes of dichotomous birth that culminates in the peaceful resolution between two disparate and hostile societies.

This novel is a solid read with Koyee but pretty dismal in other aspects. Most of the novel reads like a covey of LARPers reciting high English poems. I really like the habitat and wildlife/fish descriptions as they are inventive, yet there is no biological fact that supports their existence. The author should have had a minimal of xeno-scientific development to make his dark world more believable. I would have rated this higher in spite of some issues but the World of Moth and it’s lack of scientific fact, makes it’s existence a huge stretch for the imagination.

Review: Almost Demon by AJ Salem


Publisher: Salem
Publishing Date: October 2013
ISBN: 9781629660035
Genre: Fantasy/YA
Rating: 4.75/5.0

Publishers Description: The first in the all-new series “The Sigil Cycle” – a dazzling debut by author AJ Salem!
“Almost Demon” will catapult you into the world of Gemma Pope – high school senior, car crash survivor turned reluctant demon summoner.
The last thing Gemma Pope expects to study in the after-school book club is demon etiquette but that is exactly what she has to do to succeed as a summoner and save her hometown.
Since taking the blame for the car accident that claimed the lives of her twin brother and best friends, she’s been seeing things. Dark shadows, opaque, menacing, multiplying.
The clock starts ticking when the local librarian suffers a psychotic break and pulls a gun on her reading circle. Gemma’s dad is getting weird, her classmates are becoming violent, and the darkness surrounding Harrisport is getting thicker.
Should she trust hot English Lit teacher Mr. Flynn or Ian, the mysterious new kid in town, who has knowledge beyond his years and access to other dimensions?
It is only when the gates to hell are opened, that Gemma learns who her real friends are.
Discover what lies just beyond the veil of humanity in the sleepy town of Harrisport.

Review: Wow. This was a kick-ass ride. Demons with unique looks and personalities, Angels, alternate universes and teen angst. What more could get you interested? The story-line is a well thought out menagerie that has constant movement coupled to focused character development. There is never a stagnant interlude of drivel filler. The cover art is just plane kick ass. Reminds me of Jo Nesbo’s “Redbreast” cover art.

The only time you have a long review is when the novel is really bad and demands an editing commentary. Fact is, most of us reviewers are fault finders. I can tell you that there are no discernible faults from my end. Sure, others may have a different subjective opinion about the story-line etc. but I grant AJ Salem and others that artistic license as it is their creation(s). Get this novel and you will be wanting the next in the series ASAP.