Review: Don’t Fear the Reaper by J.E. Taylor

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Publisher: All Night
Publishing Date: June 2012
ISBN:9781477621790
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:3.5/5.0

Publisher Description: The day Nick Ramsay’s eighth-grade teacher drops dead in his classroom, Nick sees his first reaper. When another cloaked figure appears at his grandmother’s bedside, Nick issues an order for the vile creature to leave her alone.

This simple act of defiance creates a domino effect that brings Fate and Death to Nick’s door and reveals his true lineage, throwing his world into chaos. To make matters worse, a group of rogue reapers declares war on humanity and Nick is the only one who can stop them.

Review: This was a pretty entertaining short novel. There is a heck of a lot of movement in this novel coupled with the old “suspension of disbelief” where the characters are concerned. Nick is a 13 year old kid, that has a girlfriend (whom is hot of course) and often times behaves like a 22 year old man. His interludes with his girlfriend seem to be written by an adult rather than the high school co-author. His interactions to events and people are really the determinate actions of an adult. Not buying that. He should have been written with a total sense of awe at his sudden circumstances of being Deaths kid and his future role as Deaths successor.

Additionally, there are deaths that occur to his family and to his girlfriend’s family where only a brief display of remorse is displayed, then back into the intense involvemet within the main story-line. Again this is not real believeable but just fine for the audience that this novel was intended to entertain (YA).

The cover art is comic-y yet seems that it is a good way to draw in buying readers.

I rated this fairly high for this type of light fantasy genre. It has some good moments in the descriptive and some bad in the character development. I had a good time, so in the end, that’s what counts.

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Review: Carousel Sun by Sharon Lee

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Publisher: Baen
Publishing Date: January 2014
ISBN: 9781476736235
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.2/5.0

Publisher Description: Kate Archer, owner-operator of the vintage wooden carousel, is caught up in the excitement—and is quite possibly the cause of it. Because Kate leads a double life, as carny, and as Guardian of the land. Her recent return to the home she had forsaken has changed the town’s luck—for the better—and energized the trenvay—earth and water spirits who are as much citizens of the Beach as their mundane counterparts.
But the town’s new energy isn’t the only change afoot. Joe Nemeier, the local drug lord, whose previous magical consultant was vanquished by Kate, has acquired a new ally—and this one plays with fire.

Review: Hmmm. Quandary time. Great writer, superb prose, great character development………..that should all add up to a very riveting novel. It just doesn’t and here is why. Pages and pages of diatribe on carousels, theme park business management, history, and overly descriptive scene development. The author does a really great job of rendering this particular world but not really needed IMHO. It just drags the whole story-line down. I just don’t think readers are really interested in how an amusement park works (hiring practices, ride maintenance, technicians, hiring’s etc.) and the subsequent characters that work there if they are not relevant to the story. Nor are readers interested in town meetings that discuss topics not relevant to the premise of the novel (ex. Guardian Kate vs. X). The cover art is really juvenile. Kate looks like a pubescent albino with narcolepsy. The rooster referent I get but not really the best idea to put it on the cover. And who the f*ck is that dude behind her? David Copperfield jr.?

When the action unfolds, it is very apparent that the author has a great sense of developing creative action with regard to magic use. It is just so sporadic throughout the novel, that you almost yearn for it to appear amidst the pages of filler. There is so much non-relevant filler that the first 40% of the novel is Kate wandering the town involved in the carousel, pining for Borgan, yacking about and to, her Gran and Mom, and going to meetings. When she conducts spell development training with Belignatious, you are instantly involved and riveted. Then all of a sudden, it’s over. Ho Hum, back into town she goes to yap about inconsequential events.

This novel leaves you perplexed in that when the story draws you in, it all of a sudden drops your interest as the character just moves on without regard to what just occurred. The author does not take you anywhere past what concerns her most i.e. developing her town in Maine. For example, Kate gets a huge dose of magic and Borgan is there to help her out. He walks her out to the ocean and soon they are back on the beach headed to her house after a quick dip. Huh? No reason is given as to why and no descriptions follow of her time in the water, other than that she hangs on to his braid. Why not foray a bit into the Sea King’s world and throw in a couple of Ronsitbles for good measure. Mix it up with a lot of magic and magical creatures and minimize the townie shtick. This novel just gets real boring, real fast. Creative development and story-line were so poorly done that what could have been a 4 or 5 star review, plummeted quickly to 3 stars. If you read the first novel you mays as well get the second with no harm done. If you’re new to this series I recommend that you skip it.

Habitat for Wolves

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I may begin to include the 30 years of my professional life into this blog in order to provide possible solution pathways on resource issues from a political, geopolitical and practical context.
Hopefully more will follow in that regard.

This is a picture from a monitoring station on 600 acres of ag-land that I purchased in Northern Idaho 12 years ago. Up until this point, there were no wolves on this property. Once we acquire blocks of habitat we conduct operation and maintenance activities that include debris cleanup and habitat improvement actions. This picture represents untold person hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars of dedicated effort in the wolf and wildlife habitat recovery effort.

Review: Have Wormhole, Will Travel by Tony McFadden

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Publisher: Smashwords
Publishing Date: November 2013
ISBN: 9781491272015
Genre: Scifi
Rating: 3.0/5.0

Publisher Description: Vampires? No Such Thing. Aliens, though, that’s something else. They’ve been here, living quietly among us, since before the Industrial Revolution. Their goal: To ensure we never leave our Solar System. We have a bad habit of wiping out indigenous populations, and theirs is the nearest inhabited planet to ours. So when a scientist at Sydney University harnesses the power of wormholes, making interstellar travel a virtual walk in the park, one of these tall, pale-skinned aliens, Callum, is forced to choose: destroy us, or help us survive the inevitable Armageddon. 8 billion Earthlings, and our survival is in the hands of one guy – alien – meant to wipe us out.

Review: This novel had some funny moments, specifically some of the banter between Mandy, Jackie and Sabs. But that is pretty much as interesting as this novel gets. When I think Wormhole travel and eclectic friends, I don’t expect to get mired on earth, debating string theory, dark matter and cold fusion. Plus the tired relationship interactions. zzzzzzzz. People want to travel, especially in their minds if the story sets itself up to be that transport vehicle.

Ok, premise time. So we have two aliens that look human, residing on Earth for the last 400 years to stop the advent of wormhole travel and other perceived destructive technologies that may arise to threaten their home planet. Mmmmm. Well, if you’re here for 400 years and can’t figure out that wormholes are centuries, if not millennia away then you have no right to the technology yourselves. So, once you determine that a civilization on any alien world possesses the means or understands wormhole travel, then they get fried with re-directed Gamma rays from a formed wormhole, in order to stamp out the inter-galactic threat. Anyone else see the problem with this logic? So these two aliens, Callum and Jacob help technology along and also thwart developing new tech if it may pose a threat. So if their species waits around for the inevitable development of wormhole theory, then summarily wipes that species out, then it would stand to reason that ANY ALIEN SPECIES WITH SUFFICIENT TECHNOLOGY COULD DEVELOP WORMHOLE THEORY. So, wouldn’t they just wipe out any species with any tech in order to save time and personnel??? Why wait? See that is the big elephant in the room or gorilla. If a species is threatened enough to monitor another species with an eradication pogrom in place, then they would just wipe them out, regardless of any reason. But noooooooo, our intrepid good hearted alien heroes decide to save humanity by re-directing the gamma rays back to their HOME PLANET. WTF? Well so much for patriotism or, er planetriotism, er….

Some other issues with this novel involve some of the characters like Jackie. See, Jackie is this VERY HOT jock chick (and knows it), that is an expert in martial arts (Wushu Pork Fung Koo) and finds that alien men turn her on, but doesn’t believe her PhD boyfriend that he has invented a wormhole. Got it? I don’t. Anyway, he talks down to her, she calls him crazy and the next instant she is going to go all martial arts on his ass. And after she kicks his ass, she is going to tell everyone on campus that she did. Wow, nice. So, your boyfriend is a geek, you don’t believe what he says, you don’t like how he says it, and you bully him with threats. Not only does Jackie crow about how hot she is, and how much she would like to have alien cock in her mouth (really it says that) but likes to bully people weaker than her. What a fucking POS character. Why is it when authors try to imbue woman with determined traits, always default to some physical prowess in martial arts coupled with an attitude to use it in every instance. The other POS character is Mandy, whom is the resident slut. She gets it: up ways, down ways and side ways, and boy is that fucking endearing or what? No. I find women and men whom copulate indiscriminately to not be “fun”, “funny”, “witty” or “endearing”. The author promulgates this weird adolescent culture and ascribes it to burgeoning adults. It is just too fucking weird for words.

Why does this rate 3 stars? The writer is good. His prose and flow are exceptional. What lacks is his logic path coupled to character and story line development. The creative awareness that comes with good scifi was lacking. I think the author, in order to pander to a specific audience (person) crafted a novel based on someone else’s idea. I think some relative asked repeatedly “Dad, you should really create a novel based on wormholes and alien watchers and the subsequent calamity that could ensue should we discover this technology before humanity is ready. Have it set on a university campus and include my bullying, egotistical and slutty friends as characters..” Not to mention the myopic, uncoordinated and geeky PhD character.

The cover art is pretty cool. I like the 2D effect. LOL!

Premise holes, character holes and slut holes. What is wrong with having a threat to earth, but getting the FUCK OFF OF EARTH in order to explore the universe for a solution. Nope, we are in Australia and that’s where we are going to stay. The aliens transport back in to a secure room on their home planet to give reports, and that’s it folks.

Review: A darkling Sea by James Cambias

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Publisher: Tor
Publishing Date: January 2014
ISBN: 9780765336279
Genre: Scifi
Rating: 4.5/5.0

Publisher Description: On the planet Ilmatar, under a roof of ice a kilometer thick, a team of deep-sea diving scientists investigates the blind alien race that lives below. The Terran explorers have made an uneasy truce with the Sholen, their first extraterrestrial contact: so long as they don’t disturb the Ilmataran habitat, they’re free to conduct their missions in peace.

Review: Finally, a Scifi novel that lives up to the genre we experienced 20 years ago during the renaissance. Daley, Dietz, Chalker, Asimov and Niven would enjoy this alien interlude. This novel revolves solely within an alien planet, deep beneath the ice covered waters.

There was good scene development, coupled with multiple character progressions that allows for the story to evolve with a complexity that involves the reader. Although the novel has constant movement in the form of action, it is not the “bash, boom, crash!” variety of action novel. Aliens interact and share emotions in the context of living and working in a hostile environment with dangerous factions within each representative species.

I think the resident aliens, the Ilmatarians, had emotive qualities that mirrored humanistic processes as did the Sholen. I am of the opinion, that aliens should be alien from the inner to the outer expression than human norms. Aliens that look differently, reside in strange environments and have bizarre cultural and sexual practices, should process their world in a very alien fashion. The Ilmatarians, while different in many aspects exhibited anger, jealousy, petty envy, rage, war like attributes etc. The base emotions that humans exhibit. The Sholen, while bizarre in their own right, also exhibited these baser humanistic qualities, with a “consensus” rider attached to their decision making. Perhaps it was the authors intent to render all species that reside in this physical plane, exhibiting the qualities of the universal lament; that by being here you will be of the “mind” and not intrinsically aware. There were some processes that were interesting. The Ilmatarian had this weird short-term memory gap-osis and this ready disregard for death amongst familiar brethren. The Sholen were also fairly dispassionate about the loss of familiars, which was odd coming from a species whose culture revolves around copulation.

The cover art is pretty cool except for the big yellow letters smeared across it.

I like aliens that process mental and emotional instances, WAY differently than we do. In order to develop the alien mindset involves time and creative insight. It must flow with the novel in that this process drives the novel in it’s entirety. It was kind of an easy out for the author to lend anthropomorphism to alien beings. There were some rendering instances, like how did the humans and Sholen truly discern their surroundings if the world is in complete darkness. Lights, sure…sonar…? How did the surface of the planet evolve? What is it like now? How is inter-stellar space travel achieved, what other aliens reside in the author’s universe? Still this was a very good novel in all aspects and I highly recommend anyone whom is interested in alien worlds and resident alien interactions to get this.

Review: The Duke of Uranium by John Barnes

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Publisher: Open Road Media
Publisher Description:
ISBN: 9781480456969
Genre: Scifi/YA
Rating: 4.1/5.0

Publisher Description: Jak Jinnaka plunges into a world of danger and intrigue beyond imagination as he is forced to ask: “Where’s the party?”

Review: This was a really fun scifi novel that spans our solar system. Jak Kinnaka is a bleary eyed teen with no real interest in school. He is at once likable and interesting. The character development throughout this novel was very well done. The characters grew into something more as the story progressed. New characters were infused as the story line shifted with good result.

A good scifi novel, where morals are somewhat diminished, has a bit more of a “graphic” edge to it. This novel fell a little short in that regard but left room for your imagination. Jak’s love interest, Phrysaba, could have been better developed along with their “social” interactions. Myx is a great character that needs a voice of her own, and her story-line expanded. Smart, bold, slutty and a born leader makes for a good read. Uncle Sib has marginal development, but just enough to get the story-line rolling.

This novel is part of a series and the publisher’s didn’t waste anytime putting a really shitty cover on it. A craps table? Really?
I think this one is a little better…

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Besides some world description failures, that did not render well for visualization, this novel was fun and light hearted. Some reviewers thought that this was a fairly shallow piece of work. I just don’t think the author’s intention resided with making this too heavy. It has just enough to draw you in, then have a good time.
The author does a great job with alien introduction and development (the Rubahy) and their culture system. I am looking forward to the next in this series as the author is a great story teller.

Review: The Tenth Circle by Jon Land

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Publisher: Open Road Media
Publishing Date: December 2013
ISBN: 9781480414792
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 1.2/5.0

Publisher Description: Blaine McCracken pulled off the impossible on a mission in Iran, but his work has just begun. Returning to the US, he faces another terrible threat in the form of Reverend Jeremiah Rule, whose hateful rhetoric has inflamed half the world, resulting in a series of devastating terrorist attacks. But Rule isn’t acting alone. A shadowy cabal is pulling his strings, unaware that they are creating a monster who will soon spin free of their control.

Review: The cover art is pretty bad. How many of these thrillers set in the political realm, always have the Capitol building, the White House or some other institutional edifice on the cover? Publishing houses really do themselves a marketing disservice in that regard. Ho hum.

This novel moved at a good clip, mainly because the author breaks up the novel into about 100 chapters. Gives you a false sense of movement. Right from the get go you are assaulted with a pretty formulaic political thriller. Example. McCracken, ex covert ops/Phoenix-nam/Delta-beret/Deep cover expert/ all around super guy, conducting his biz with a straight forward, in the moment “tude”. He can bring it, sing it and just so you know he was the one whom got deep underground in Iran to destroy their nuclear facility when no nation on earth could. . And the final kicker…wait for it…….he has a 7 foot tall native American sidekick called…..WAREAGLE! BAHAHAHA! Oh, and Wareagle is the one carving the Crazy Horse monument in South Dakota along with…..you guessed it, McCracken. The Crazy Horse Memorial was completed in 1998 while this novel circles current events.

Besides the crappy, tired and old story-line that has been used more than a gigolo at a cougar party, this novel is made up of stilted conversational backstory. For example, the assassin Zarrin (whom happens to be one of the best musicians in the world ) is in her room after a concert. Colonel Kosh an Iranian handler, begins discussing her next job. “Amazing the things you can learn in a Palestinian refugee camp…….as an orphan witnessing Israelis murder both parents….rescued and trained by a legendary Palestinian intelligence official. Zarrin, specialist in every weapon, renowned for making use of objects that aren’t weapons at all, allowing for close-in kills…” Blah, blah, blah. You get the idea. This is an authors easy out for backstory creds. Rather than build the backstory as you get to know them in a slow reveal, we get people talking in a room whom obviously know each other and would never re-iterate to each other what they already know.

There is quite a bit of Deus Ex Machina in this novel. One particular scene is when McCracken, our freakin’ nuclear one-man army super hero, faces off against 12 armed men in a deserted town (with an operating roller coaster) to get his “not” grandson, and is wheeling him away, only to face certain death in a deadly crossfire. He throws a handful of “Bug Bombs” into the air, and they miraculously find all of their targets, thanks to the resident smart software. . And lying at his feet is an assault rifle that just happened to fall out of the window. He takes care of the rest of the baddies and straps the top bad guy to the roller coaster tracks and you know the rest. Scene after scene is this tired “insurmountable odds” shtick, but they weren’t trained in live action fire where you must be in the moment without thinking in order to prevail against the enemy and……zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Another big effort to suspend disbelief, is when commandos raid an old folks home of retired octogenarian veterans from WWII and the Korean war. These ragtag lovable hero’s throw bocce balls, wheelchairs, mace, little clubs and hot coffee at trained commandos and overcome them in grand style. Leaving SUPER MCCRACKEN to swiftly and effortlessly take out some commandos as well. Because, well, he’s FREAKIN’ SUPER MCCRACKEN!!!!!

The whole novel is rife with unbelievable actions and scenarios by ATOMIC SUPER BATMAN MCCRACKEN and his trusty sidekick the 7-FOOT TALL SUPER INDIAN (er…Boy Robin). Not only that, the author un-retires the homegrown religious zealot as the arch enemy (oops, the Joker) that many authors now avoid as being overdone ad nauseum. In order to make this drivel palatable, the author pulls shjt out of a bag called the lost Raonoke Colony and why they disappeared. See, they didn’t disappear at all, the village well had carbonic freakin’ acid in it called the White Death which killed them off. See, now someones got barrels of this stuff…ah, forget it, my brain hurts.

Adding insult to injury is the authors scant knowledge of live action fire. So, SUPER PENIS MCCRACKEN runs up some stairs, blazing a trail of glory, gets shot at with a pistol, manages to dodge live fire, DOES NOT RETURN FIRE, disarms the bad guy and bops him in the nose with the rifle barrel. REALLY? Oh but we are not done, this is all leading up to the Grande diatribe (repeated throughout the novel) where MCRACKEN SUPER DUDE-MAN is going to tell you how bad you are, how wrong you have been, how much he despises non-super heroes, and what he is going to do to you, because you not only deserve it, you earned it…MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!