Review: Earthman Jack Vs. Ghost Planet by Matthew Kadish

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Publisher: Privateer
Publishing Date:April 2014
ISBN: 9780991064717
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 2.2/5

Publisher Description: Jack Finnegan only has to worry about dealing with school bullies, suffering through detention with his homeroom teacher, and getting noticed by the girl of his dreams… at least until an army of evil aliens invade Earth. Suddenly, this teenage slacker finds himself at the center of a galaxy-spanning conflict – where the lives of everyone on the planet are in jeopardy, soldiers use Quantum Physics to become superheroes, and the enemy uses some mysterious form of magic to make themselves practically unstoppable.

Review: Cover art is pretty good.

This was built for the YA reader, yet some adults will have a good time with it. This novel attempts to combine a lot of elements; adventure, budding love, teen angst, dry wit, strange alien characters and a reluctant hero. This novel is better utilized for adults that missed their plane to Bora Bora and have 6 hours to kill.

Earthman Jack is the last ummm…..earthman, whom has the lost ancients ship at his command. He survives the destruction of Earth with the Princess of the galaxy and her cohorts. There were parts of this novel VERY reminiscent of the “Last Starfighter” movie, what with the video game training/starship flying parallel. This has a whole heck of a lot of ridiculousness coupled with serious instances (earth blowing up etc.).

The author utilized the tried and true overuse of verbs and adjectives to expedite scenes and glibly describe character responses. The word “actually” was used 108 times. “grumbled” 73 times. “mumbled”, 39 times. “growled”, 69 times. “muttered”, 78 times. Fug. Besides the painful overuse of certain words that grind on my psyche every time they come up, there was the “Ole scallywag space alien pirate” shtick that lessens any novels believability. Really. Alien space pirates that talk like Captain Sparrow’s mates on the Black Pearl…..fug me. There is just no way you can visually render pirate aliens, let alone one called ‘Scallywag’. It is even lame to attempt an insult of such magnitude on the reader.

That all said, the novel was entertaining and definitely does not take itself seriously, so why should I? It is glib and transient and glides along the edges of a “Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy”. Only the Deathlords are not funny, in any way, shape or form. Zarrod, the supreme Deathlord is not real convincing in that he regales others about himself…”I am supreme….Omega…culler of worlds…blah, blah blah”. The author kills of the most interesting man in the Galaxy, Paragon Shepherd. I mean, wtf? He mentors Jack, is going to train him as a Paragon, saves everyone’s life multiple times, has kewl armor and wields badass weapons. Really? BANG! Yur dead. Fuggin A’.

It is kind of too bad that the story-line spent most of it’s time embedded on the Deathlord’s ship with Jack and his cohorts constantly being recaptured here and there. This novel might have been better served with an adventurous escape across the galaxy, discovering ancient alien ruins on their quest to uncover the hidden secret of the universe and stop the tyrannical Deathlords. Plays better for the YA crowd. Instead we get a whole lot of interaction with Deathlords on their ship, or on Jack’s ship with one destination….the ghost planet. Ho hum.

This was a surprisingly long-winded read and despite the novels word over-use and static placement or lack of movement, I enjoyed the story-line. It just needs to be tightly edited and pointed in a more interesting direction.

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Review: Inspector Hobbes and the Curse by Wilkie Martin

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Publisher: The Witcherley Book Company
Publishing Date: October 2013
ISBN: 9780957635135
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.2/5

Publisher Description: This is the second in Wilkie Martin’s humorous mystery series unhuman. Set in the Cotswolds, this installment in the adventures of Inspector Hobbes, Mrs. Goodfellow and Dregs is narrated by the ever disaster-prone Andy Caplet. It can be read as a stand-alone novel and is suitable for a wide readership from teenage upwards. It will appeal to anyone with a quirky sense of humour. It is a rip roaring, funny and moving tale of Andy’s infatuation with a dangerously beautiful woman, starting off during investigations into sheep deaths and the mysterious disappearance of pheasants. These incidents appear to be connected to a rash of big cat sightings, and something horrible seems to be lurking in the woods. Is Andy cursed to be always unsuccessful in love, or is the curse something much darker, something that will arouse his primeval terrors?

Review: Cover art is kind of Scooby Doo-esque.

This was a light hearted fantasy novel with funny instances and observational humor of the dry kind. Andy is kind of a trusting/bumbling good hearted kid a little down on his luck. He lives with inspector Hobbes whose human tendencies are suspect. Like getting upset to the point where he eats raw cow tails, fur and all, on the living room floor. Mrs. Goodfellow (collector of human teeth) finds this a normal course of behavior which leaves you wondering if she is in on it, or not human either. At least they are self-directed in an honest capacity.

Two large panthers and some werewolves are prowling about town at the same time a few murders are uncovered. This is kind of the classic whodunit with a fantasy twist. The subsequent course of events leading up to an unresolved ending is fun and not to be taken too seriously.

The characters are lovable and/or interesting, hence fairly well developed. The scenes are well done and coupled nicely to a solid story-line. This novel makes no demands upon your psyche. All told I had fun relaxing with this novel, cigar in hand.

Review: The Kraken King by Meljean Brook

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Publisher: Penguin
Publishing Date: April 2014
ISBN: 9781101639207
Genre: SciFi/Fantasy
Rating: 1.0/5

Publisher Description: Former smuggler and thief, Ariq—better known as the Kraken King—doesn’t know what to make of the clever, mysterious woman he rescues from an airship besieged by marauders. Unsure if she’s a spy or a pawn in someone else’s game, Ariq isn’t about to let her out of his sight until he finds out…

Review: : The cover art is good. I like the depth and the Kraken tentacles.

Steampunk coupled with airships and Victorian frivolity mired in romance. Despite the sleeping drool I find upon waking up, this novella had some moments of entertaining value. Mara and Cooper were interesting characters. Kraken town, an interesting setting as well as the plummet from an airship. Too bad the main characters were as boring as a bag of starfish. Love befuddled idiots with hormonal pangs, ripe with pulchritudinous fervor. Nothing like wasting a fragile plot on two douche bags.

The cliché’s are endless. Precious Gurl with hidden identity (of course she’s super hot and really smart). Hunky swashbuckler with massive bulge in the breeches. Semi-retarded ambassador’s wife, pregnant with another’s child. A tantrum toting brother to hunky-man. All this wound around a limp story line of burgeoning WUV coupled with denials, self-recriminations, misunderstandings, unrequited lust and boner-tension.

I won’t go into the endless uses of “heart thudded” or “thumped” or my favorite; frowned, frown or frowning.

Review: Lex Talionis by R.S.A. Garcia

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Publisher: Dragonwell
Publishing Date: March 2014
ISBN: 9781940076126
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 3.8/5

Publisher Description: A battered young woman wakes from a coma in a space port hospital with no memories of her past. The only thing she remembers are two words: Lex Talionis—the Law of Revenge. To discover her identity, she must re-live the nightmares of her past, and face the only survivor of a terrible massacre that connects her with her abductors.

Review: Cover art is lame. Better if that alien, Oux was on the cover with a spaceport/moon sky backdrop.

I had some preconceived notions about this novel as the author is new and the publisher fairly unknown. What surprised me was how much I enjoyed everything about this novel. The characters were very well developed within the movement of the story-line. I really liked Troi and Chris even though they had minimal appearances. The world building is splendid in that you get a sense of the alien/human interaction that promises a truly unique experience.

The only minor discrepancies was the over-use of some word fillers (growled) but the use wasn’t over the top. The other issue was that the overall plot was really thin. Lex is found in an alley; beaten, raped and stabbed. She convalesces in a hospital for awhile and is found to be an extremely modified genetic human that does not exist in any database. Part of the plot, I guess, is her rediscovery of self and her subsequent vengeance on those that have wronged her. There is usually a culmination of some grande design and the players acting it out on a bitter stage but there has to be sequels these days, so…… I was hoping for more offworld adventure driven scifi but still enjoyed this scifi mystery/thriller venue. There are some Nora Robert’s inspired love scenes but thankfully they are relatively short.

There is about 3 years of Lex/Shalon’s life that we miss out on where she robs the Conway’s of trillions in order to exact revenge (next novel). There really is a ton of dialogue and time spent at the hospital but the author does a good job of keeping the movement interesting as she casts back to Lex’s life prior to her current situation.

The only real downer is the author’s lengthy credit diatribe. “Oh thank you, I love you, this would have never have happened unless “X” pushed me to complete it….Anna Kashina is great….not published without her…….” Fug. Aggrandizement in the form of self-deprecation.

So Dragonwell Publishing may have a winner on their hands. Hopefully the author does not get mired down with Nora and Anna K. styles of writing and stays true to the genre. Well, Shalon always wanted a space ship and that’s a great start.

Review: Kings Crusade by A.D. Starrling

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Publisher: Starrling
Publishing Date: April 2014
ISBN: 9780957282636
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.2/5

Publisher Description: When a team of scientists unearth scriptures older than the Dead Sea Scrolls in a cave in the Eastern Desert mountains in Egypt, a mystery lost to the tides of time is uncovered. Heading the expedition is Dimitri Reznak, the Head of the Crovir Immortal Culture & History Section. But the monumental discovery is spoiled by evidence of looting and half the priceless artifacts Reznak has been seeking for centuries have disappeared.

Review: Cover art is bleh.

This starts out bad in both scene believability and prose. As the novel introduces an adult Alexa (SUPER DUPER IMMORTAL BADASS) we find her on some cliff in the desert with a red tailed hawk sitting next to her. See, the hawk for some reason is not afraid of super duper Alexa hottie (hotter than any model) immortal panties. Must be the ancient pheromones of an Uber immortal. As she readies herself (oh my, what could she be doing!!????) she jumps off the cliff in her flying squirrel suit. She has been planning this abduction for weeks. She is going to squirrel glide her way onto the back of a single engine plane that makes regular voyages through the area. So she lands on the plane with her Okinawan Sais punching through the plane to gain purchase and walks her way to the cockpit where a fight ensues with the pilot. He pulls a gun and fires, she dodges (cause she’s so goooooood and even better looking) he tries to fire again and she snap kicks the gun away, pulls him out of the plane, locks onto him with a thigh master death clench and lands softly while dumping said scumbag on the ground. Where do people come up with this shjt?

The fun is not over. We have 11 uses of the word “muttered”, multiple uses of the word growled, scowled, frowned, drawled, mumbled, muttering, and murmured, all within the first 4 chapters. I lost count after chapter 4 but trust me, it is very high. Fug. “Hey lets expedite my lack of character and scene building by utilizing canned responses to everything.” We also have conjoined words (phrasing) that are utilized in much the same way. For example: “stares skeptically”, “stares impassively”, “watched silently”, “said gruffly”, “exclaims distractedly”, “said accusingly”, “replied curtly”, “grasp reluctantly”. Fug me to heck and back.

As we move along the story-line we find that Alexa super hottie immortal-pants is an expert tracker…..”she brought her hand to her nose, rubbed the thin smear and sniffed…’Engine oil,’ she said after a few seconds. Wow, and here I thought tracking was only done by Indians in old-timey westerns. Well duh me huh?

The plot is pretty good and the story-line is interesting kind of like a physicist pitching an adventure screenplay to a movie producer. It may sound good, but the execution of the product might be suspect. I really don’t get the high reviews on this one. Must be a cult following.

Review: The Garden of Stones by Mark T. Barnes

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Publisher: 47 North
Publishing Date: May 2013
ISBN: 9781611098938
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 1.0/5

Publisher Description: An uneasy peace has existed since the fall of the Awakened Empire centuries ago. Now the hybrid Avān share the land with the people they once conquered: the star-born humans; the spectral, undead Nomads; and what remains of the Elemental Masters.

Review: Cover art is nice. Lots of depth.

This was a pretty jumbled attempt at world building. There was a sense that a lot of the backstory was inserted into current scenes in a forced attempt to create characters and their history. There are so many names and places jammed down your reading throat that it is hard to digest much less comprehend. You wait for clarification, and when none is forthcoming the scene suddenly shifts into lengthy backstory mode.

I know I hammer on the use of verbs, adjectives and conjoined words to create phrases that help the author expedite emotions without the effort to deeply build characters. In the first 3% of this novel there is an overuse of verbs in the form of; “murmured x6”, “muttered x5”, “drawled”, “scowled”, and “snapped or snap x5”. Again the author needs to read Simon R. Greens novel Mistflop to get a handle on the errors of writing phrases and the repeated overuse of words to expedite the scene and minimally develop the character.

Some people loved this novel and try as I might I couldn’t get over the reading hump. Sorry this was a DNF.

Review: The Fury by Charlotte McConaghy

Publisher: Momentum
Publishing Date: March 2014
ISBN: 9781760080822
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.1/5

Publisher Description: Eighteen-year-old Josephine Luquet wakes up naked and covered in blood on the same day every year—when the blood moon is full. Josi has not responded to the “Cure”—an immunization against anger mandated by the government—and believes herself to be a threat to others.

Review: I just don’t understand publisher’s idea/visions for cover art. Disappointing.

Within the first 5% of the novel there is repeated use of the expedited phraseology of conjoining adjectives and verbs (mainly transitives). I see this constantly in the indie group. Author’s hope to build characters and scenes with as little effort as possible. For instance: She “snaps”, “mumbles”, “murmurs coldly”, “smiles disarmingly” “said bluntly”, “says faintly”, “faintly”, “says impatiently”, “says abruptly”, “says flatly”, “flatly”, “bluntly”, “tells me bluntly”, “grins wolfishly”, “grins”, “asks softly”, “mutters, mutter, murmur, murmurs, murmured”, “laughs softly”, “says calmly”, “softly”. This crap is oft repeated to the detriment of character and scene building.

As far as dystopian universes go, this one is just ok. Drones and cures and bloods, oh my! Nothing really new or inventive. You generate little sympathy for Josi as she comes off petulant and negative. Then she suddenly fwalls im wuvs wif wong wanky Wuke. Fug. I think this author should read some of Simon R. Green’s work, mainly Mistflop, to get an idea of what NOT to do.