Review: Baby Gone Bye by Marilee Brothers

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Publisher: Belle Books
Publishing Date: December 2013
ISBN: 9781611944242
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.3/5.0

Publisher Description: High school senior Gabe Delgado is trying to trade his bad-boy ways for clean living. He remembers nothing about the night a mysterious girl loved him and left him at a party, except . . . there was a kind of magic around her that had nothing to do with his hangover the next day. Now he finds that “magic” in a basket on his doorstep, cooing at him like a happy little bird.

Review: Although the cover art kind of gets to the heart of the matter, it is really lame-o. Baby in a basket on a doorstep….wow..zzzzzzzz. I usually don’t comment on the titles, but in this case the title is also pretty bad. This is a great read and needs some oomph to garner readers. I know I almost passed up reading this novel based on the cover and title but it was free and I was short on books. The author had a plethora of titles written within the novel more suitable. “Vanishing Gift”, “The Witching Game”, “Gabriel’s Angel”, just to name a few. I think the publishers originally came up with the “Blue Rose”, which would have been better if the babies name was Rose.

So Gabe is a high school douche bag whom likes to bang every post-pubescent girl that is half-way decent looking. He doesn’t remember banging some chick at a party who later drops their baby at his doorstep. Within the span of a few months Gabe goes from having the morals of a cannibalistic rat who wants to give up the baby to social services, to stalwart defender of magic baby. Yeah, I guess you could have an epiphany in life, but knowing high school douche bags whom are at the pinnacle of ego-centrism, I doubt it. Still it is just a story and a good one at that.

The author develops her characters with fore thought and consideration within the context of the story line. So the characters grow as the story line develops. There was a tad too much emphasis on the main characters, with just snippets of the evil woman, Samantha left to develop. Because of this, her character was not that believable as it felt compressed and a bit contrived. For example, we are given this quickie background as to why Samantha is currently in the position she is in. Killed her husband to get the wealth as he had a conscience yada yada. Villain’s should have a well developed back story that unfolds at appropriate moments. Samantha’s development felt two dimensional.

Despite my nitpicking, I had a hard time putting the novel down. There was excellent movement and the characters were well written within the story-line. The author kills off the “Baby Birdies” mother but she was never that integral to the story-line, other than as kind of a back story. We never get to know her and her death makes room for Abby who is Gabriel’s new love interest. It plays well for subsequent novels should they be developed. Samantha’s disappearance also plays well as a future threat to the Delgado family. Even if you don’t like the story, the writer is good enough to keep you reading. Get it and have fun.

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Review: To Sail A Darkling Sea by John Ringo

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Publisher: Baen
Publishing Date: Feb 2014
ISBN: 9781476736211
Genre: Scifi/Fantasy
Rating: 2.5/5.0

Publisher Description: With human civilization annihilated by a biological zombie plague, a rag-tag fleet of yachts and freighters known as Wolf Squadron scours the Atlantic, searching for survivors. Within every abandoned liner and carrier lurks a potential horde, safety can never be taken for granted, and death and turning into one of the enemy is only a moment away.

Review: Not a fan of the cover art. I don’t think that design is going to attract many customers. Two argumentative quasi military types sends a negative message. Looks like two juveniles playing dress up.

I am going to start with some of the technical problems that I see in this book, some of it subjective in nature but perhaps relevant. The author pretty much begins the novel with firearm calibers and their effective stopping power on zombies. Faith (a 13 year old super zombie killer-yeah I know), iterates that the .556 is a Barbie gun and that shotguns and the .45 caliber are what stops a zombie. She goes on to give a ratio of bullets used to weight carried etc. I am a firm believer in ability to effectively and precisely put rounds downrange in a dynamic and not static, effort. Sydney Vail, a trauma surgeon wrote a great article where he stipulates that “stopping power” is really a marketing tool (and always has been) and that the information currently pedaled around is based on hype as well as flawed standardized testing. Stopping power, as defined by me and others is “a calibers stopping power is only effective when it hits a vital structure”. This implies accuracy and precision with shot placement. I think the authors reasoning is flawed in that it takes 5 rounds of .556 to every one round of .45 to stop an entity. Faith also points out that the .556 is no good in CQB (close quarters combat) and therefore is useless in boarding ships versus the .45 handgun and the shotgun. I have shot many 3 gun matches that require engaging multiple targets, while running, at close range (50 yds. or less). I use a CQB site rail that is affixed to the side of scope, and it is quite accurate and effective. Faith also describes how the 1911 is an antiquated pos while the HK tactical .45 is far superior due to its double stacking of rounds. While I agree with SF selection of this weapon due to it’s durability, I think the Glock is a better choice for a lot of reasons I won’t get into here. Back to the 1911 and it being the “titanic” versus the “more modern HK”. In all my years competing at the highest level of practical shooting, have I seen anyone using an H&K USP .45 to compete with. There is a reason for this. They suck. Jamming is the least of this guns foibles. It is highly inaccurate once you get past 7 yards, it has a short site radius, crappy sites, bad balance, trigger pull is around 12 lbs. on double action and about 5 lbs. single action. I have shot both, and since I subscribe to ability and that effect on accuracy, I would say that the 1911 single stack is a very accurate and repeatable weapon. Since I translate accuracy into stopping power, this “Titanic” would be the better choice in any situation except perhaps shooting sharks underwater. My last firearm to focus on is Faith’s use of the Saiga Shotgun. While the Saiga is a pretty cool idea (a shotgun based on the AK platform) it requires an incredible amount of work to get the gas opsys functioning properly. If you know an expert gunsmith that specifically works on Saigas’ to get them to run (like Jim at Firebird Presion and maybe a couple of others in the USA), then you mayswell trash it or get your face eaten by zombies. Saigas have horrible build quality and the matches I have seen them NOT run are due to major malfs that take longer than 10 seconds to rectify. Gunsmiths will go through quite a few to get one running and at that point the client will have spent close to $2k on modding. AND IT STILL WILL FAIL! In any situation the most reliable shotgun with a long tube is the pump. My choice would be the FNH Mark 1 Police.

I don’t really want to get into how a 13 year old is a master zombie killer whom teaches marines CQB tactics and her ability to kill zombies with timed firearm bursts to her music of choice. Not sure how a marine (Janus) can tell that she is timing her bursts to music being that live fire is REALLY LOUD. She does all this while having a perfect soprano voice. Of course she does. Despite the huge suspension of disbelief about Faith and the author’s take on firearms, I thought that the character development was superb. While the story-line tended to jump around from page to page, the premise of finding boats with survivors evoked the Darwin Elevator’s intent. There is something magnetic about uncovering the unknown especially when there is booty to be had. While Faith is not believable as a character I found Sophia and Gunny engaging in all aspects.

There is some weird instances where Ms. Gowen, the only female in a group of trapped Marines, is pretty much required to be passed around in order to maintain discipline in a tense situation, because well, Marines need to F**K or go crazy, right? She eventually comes around to liking threesomes, because there is not much else to do other than f**K, and oh by the way, she’s pregnant. Oh well. Jeez. Not sure if I am looking forward to the next in this series or just like watching a slo-motion train wreck. The fascination is there but the inner self-loathing that accompanies it might be stronger deterrent.

Review: Mistworld by Simon Green

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Publisher: Open Road Media
Publishing Date: December 2013
ISBN: 9781480471986
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 1.2/5.0

Publisher Description: Investigator Topaz is one of the few honest people left on this cutthroat planet. With her husband, Sergeant Michael Gunn, Topaz does what she can to keep the crooks who run Mistworld in check.
But when the corrupt Empire devises an unprecedented scheme to attack the ESP shield that guards Mistworld, Topaz is the only one who can save the planet from being overrun. An enemy fleet lurks just off world—but it is the enemies at home whom Topaz and Gunn should fear the most.

Review: Oh my, the cover is so bad. It is hard to fathom a novel written in the spirit of SciFi to render such inescapable tedium. I often wonder who comes up with this shit.

Well once you get past the “Spooky Vision” lettering inside of a bubble-cover art, it just doesn’t get much better. Characters were thinly developed due to the over abundance of them. The author tried to give every character in this novel depth and ended up shorting everyone. The story-line is really weak, and I am still not sure that the premise holds up under scrutiny. So you have Mistworld, sort of a haven world for refugees fleeing from the Imperial bad dudes, whom blow up every threatening planet (don’t planets have usable resources? Seems like a waste). Sooooo, why is Mistworld still around you ask? Well, they have this cadre of “Espers” whom somehow are able to protect the planet with some kind of directed force field even though the Imperials have Espers and planet leveling disrupters??? So there is this sneaky plan, whereby the Imperial spys are seeking to topple the current government with plagues etc. in order to wrest control of a shitty backwater planet with no real resources and no real threat to anything. Plus it is colder than fuck with evil and ravenous Hob Hounds. These Hob Hounds are not sentient but kill because they “Delight in the slaughter and the torturing of prey”. Most people know better than to get anthropomorphic when it comes to describing animal behavior. Wildlife just do what they do to survive. It is our own emotive qualities that we ascribe to their actions that ultimately fails.

Now we come to the part where the novel gets really bad. I bookmarked every page where the authors use of adjectives and adverbs coupled with nouns and verbs to describe the actions and feelings of his characters was so bad and overused, it felt as though this was being written by a retarded Hob Hound. FOR EXAMPLE: In the first chapter alone we have Cat (a burglar, really no shit) who either “grins”, “frowns thoughtfully”, “grins scornfully”, “shakes his head dolefully”, “grins broadly”, “smiles complacently”, and “thoughtfully studies”. In the following chapters we are assaulted with this form of descriptive drivel that it begins to seep into your consciousness like a viral malady, slowly gnawing at your sanity. Here is a sampling of tripe that is oft repeated: “sighed regretfully”, “sighed resignedly”, “swallowed dryly x 10”, “smiled ingratiatingly”, “frowned thoughtfully”, “frowns dolefully”, “sighs quietly”, “caressingly”, “creaked complainingly”, “scowled thoughtfully”, “glare thoughtfully”, “gnawed thoughtfully”, “smiles sourly”, “stretches elegantly”, “gnawed hungrily”, “drifted hungrily”, “shook wryly”, “stared worriedly”, “thought wistfully”, “drifting tiredly”, “frowned fiercely”, “padded cautiously”, “crouched thoughtfully”, “shuddered suddenly”, “smiling grimly”, “looks reproachfully”, “nodded grimly”, “smiling ruefully”, etc. etc. I don’t even know how you can thoughtfully frown, crouch or glare. How is it done? How do you heft a sword thoughtfully? I just cannot seem to visualize most of these expressions that the author avails us with. It is literally page upon page upon page of this shit. The editor of this book should be fired, slapped and gnawed on thoughtfully.

There is also a healthy does of Deus ex, where Skye is believed to be dead, but it just so happens that her sister, Jessica, was visiting (a surprise visit on a planet with one town) and the organ legger killed her “mistakingly”. So it is with a doleful frown that I must tell the viewers to pass on this one. If your the author reading this review, you may be smiling sourly.

Review: Black Arts by Faith Hunter

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Publisher: Penguin
Publishing Date: January 2014
ISBN: 9780451465245
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.2/5.0

Publisher Description: Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker who always takes care of her own —no matter the cost…. When Evan Trueblood blows into town looking for his wife, Molly, he’s convinced that she came to see her best friend, Jane. But it seems like the witch made it to New Orleans and then disappeared without a trace. Jane is ready to do whatever it takes to find her friend. Her desperate search leads her deep into a web of black magic and betrayal and into the dark history between vampires and witches. But the closer she draws to Molly, the closer she draws to a new enemy— one who is stranger and more powerful than any she has ever faced.

Review: Meee-frickin’-eeeowww, what a cover. Hotty badass in leather with chains whipping around. Fug me. Well, here is a earthly parallel type story of vampires (many kinds of), were-wolves, skinwalkers and witches (good and bad). I am sure I left out many magical entities, but you get the gist. One of the characters that I really liked, yet did not get a lot of play, was the Madame Vampire, Katie. Way creepy and alluring. Like being really horny for someone and there is no protection handy. Anyhoo, one of the cases that Jane is working on, other than finding Molly, is the Madame Vampires’ two prostitutes whom have been abducted. What follows is a disconcerting trail of violence that leads to one bad ass source.

I kind of liked this novel. The characters were fairly well developed. The dialogue, while rather mundane, did have moments of interesting exchanges. The story-line was really straight forward, and not much of a mystery. Our heroine kind of lags behind in the ol’ brains department when figuring the machinations that occur around her. I thought the story could have used a GOOD dose of mystery; where the reader is involved to uncover the secret of the missing persons with just enough information to draw conclusions, both accurate and off the mark, coupled with a surprise ending. This was more of a magical powers/entity battle driven kind of novel, with blades, guns and magic.

Jane Yellowrock is kind of a visual slut. Meaning, that she has the hots for just about every guy she meets. Oh, and all the guys she meets happen to be hot. Go figure. She is either looking at ass, or imagining some kind of tryst with whomever. And here I thought women were mostly singular in their approach to mates once they “mature”. One of my peeves about writers, can be their overuse of certain words. If there was one glaring problem with this novel, it would be that. Her “beast” that resides within her, talks. The author’s constant use of “Chuffing”, or “Huffed” of “Chuffed” or “Growled” by every character, GETS REALLY OLD. There are quite a few descriptors, that although may take effort, can be used to describe a situation without relying on the overuse of certain verbs. The author’s use of J. Bonamassa as integral to her novel during the Gathering would have been better served with Sonny Landreth as the novel takes place in Louisiana.

What this novel lacks in depth it makes up for in creative design. The entities and their Modus’ are really inventive, while the depth of the story-line is kind of one dimensional. “Read or don’t read, won’t hurt either way” He chuffed menacingly .

Review: Something More Than Night by Ian Tregillis

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Publisher: Macmillan-Tor/Forge
Publishing Date: Dec 2013
ISBN: 9780765334329
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.3/5.0

Publisher Description: Somebody has murdered the Angel Gabriel. Worse, the Jericho Trumpet has gone missing, putting Heaven on the brink of a truly cosmic crisis. But the twisty plot that unfolds from the murder investigation leads to something much bigger: a con job one billion years in the making.

Review: Fug me was this a great read. In one instant it is freakishly bizarre in the Angels realm and at once riveting as we follow our hero’s through the Mundane (earthly) realm. This novel has it all; characters so bizarre you have to cast your creative imaginings to a place seldom visited coupled with alien thought processes, compelling humanistic situations/characters, impeccable story-line development, creative insight into machinating minds of Angels and humans, and above all this hilarity in the guise of cryptic witticisms embedded in the antiquated verbiage of the 1920’s. I like the cover art except for the big red X on it. Kind of ruins the whole “Marlowe Angel” effect.

This novel reminds me of the ramblings of Tom Robbins’s, “Still Life With Woodpecker” if he put his twist on Angels, the realm of Angels and their universal interactions. There is this constant banter by Bayliss that provides comedic relief at every turn. His caustic wit is spot on and highly inventive. Molly, whom is set to take the place of Gabriel, develops into a wonderful character as she learns about her powers as a newly formed Angel. She is a great humanistic component to the story-line that beats savagely at the paradox that surrounds her life. She is at once hard edged and achingly open to love, much like ourselves if we allow life’s agonies into our souls.

Some passages can drag on a bit, but I found myself reading through them as it added weight to the story. Usually I relegate this to the author’s mode of providing page filler, but not in this case. These passages provided insight into the characters, especially Molly, as she trips and falls on her way to becoming a realized Angel. The author explains his bizarre universe in captivating detail, that is still hard to visualize in the context and scale, described. How do you visualize the universe and the physics that support it without adding your own visual experiences to help render it in a cogent fashion? Tough stuff, but fun all the same. Some reviewers had a hard time with the authors use of physics to describe and develop his world, to the point where there was just too much information that didn’t make sense. I get that, but did not get too hung up on it. I just applied our own sense of reality to situations and scenes where I had no descriptive insight.

Even if parts of this novel may confuse, I would buy it for the Banter and wit of Bayliss, the emotive and compelling, Molly and the mystery that unfolds within the story-line.

Review: Peacemaker by K.A. Stewart

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Publisher: PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW
Publishing Date: Jan 2014
ISBN: 9780698140820
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.6/5.0

Publisher Description: Caleb Marcus is a Peacemaker, a man who rides a circuit of small towns, bringing law to the frontier.

Armed with only his badge, his Arcane staff, and his trusty six-gun, Caleb and his jackalope familiar ride into Hope. It seems like every other border town he’s visited in his role as itinerant Peacemaker. But the children of Hope are being mysteriously robbed of their magical abilities, a charming land baron is running most of the town with an armed force of men at his back, and the nearby Cheyenne tribe is raiding the outlying homesteads with increasing frequency as earthquakes shake the very ground under their feet.

Something isn’t right in the Wild West, and Caleb has to figure it out before he finds himself at the end of a noose or an arrow.

Review: This is a pretty cool take on the Wild West with a fair dose of magic thrown in. I really liked this novel. The characters were great and the story was a lot of fun to read. It was not compelling in any way, but it was not meant to be. The characters were humanistic in that they had flaws, especially Caleb the Peacemaker. A tattered past during the Great War, that left a hole in his magic, Caleb is a departmental embarrassment whom is relegated to patrolling the frontier. There was a fair amount of dream-scape flashback scenes that helped build Caleb’s character, that I thought were inventive. The visual scene descriptions are very well done and lend quite a bit to the story-line. I like the cover art, pretty cool.

I would have liked to have seen a romance develop between Caleb and any number of women that were a part of this story. Now that he has an Indian partner riding alongside in the form of River Falls, we will see if things develop in subsequent novels. A great read.

Review: Winner-Book One: The Awakening by Marc Bolda

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Publisher: Smith Pub.
Publishing Date: May 2013
ISBN: 9781614345145
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 4.3/5.0

Publisher Description: Join now in the adventure of a lifetime by reading book one of the Winner Trilogy, The Awakening, in which our hero, Martin Slice, discovers his destiny amid a plot to destroy all of mankind. Throughout, we learn of how the guardians of the Universe have fought a multi-dimensional eternal war against the most ancient of evils, a horror so profound that it will consume all of existence unless Martin alone can stop it…

Review: Gawd, I totally failed on this one. I was perusing some titles on my phone, and saw this. I thought I had not read it yet, and started to read and could not put it down. I looked up my book reviews and found that I had placed it in the DNR (Did not read) shelf due to the boring simplicity of the story-line. So here I am to conduct an honest review having completed this novel in a few hours.

This novel had great character development and an even better story-line. Martin and his buddy Wolf begin their epic journey upon finding L.I.S.A., a kind of self aware computer program on Martin’s laptop. Prior to this event (which is at the end of the novel) we follow a whole cast of developing characters as their lines begin to converge. This first installment sets the stage for the epic series that will soon follow. A great beginning to garner interest in the outcome. There were only a few missteps, IMO. There was verbal inter-change between Martin and his uncle and Martin and wolf, where they used this stilted high-English. Things like “old chap”, “My boy”, “bloody great” and “splendid fellow” to name a few. As Martin is from Canada and his Uncle resides in the States, where do they come up with the British phrasing? Additionally, there is an element of the self-indulgent, that can drag a novel down. Martin has won the lottery, and his Uncle is, of course, rich and perverted. The author wastes no time iterating his knowledge on the finer things in life. Throughout the novel we find ourselves bludgeoned by a richly appointed setting. What does a Baume & Mercier watch, Bollinger, crystal goblets with finely aged cognac blah, blah, blah, have anything to do with anything? Cover art missed the mark in a big way. Moon over water? WTF?

Other than that, I loved this novel. The story line was compelling as were the characters. Now that Martin has fallen in love after knowing a chick for a few hours, I am looking forward to seeing how this “Love” holds up when the evil twin sisters pay a visit. Knowing the author, it will go something like…”Martin had no interest at all in being seduced by this voluptuous pair as his Victoria is way hotter and Love is the greatest barrier to lust…..” Buh-blah…