Review: Extreme Dentistry by Hugh A. D. Spencer

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Publisher: Brain Lag
Publishing Date: April 2014
ISBN: 9781928011019
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5

Publisher Description: Aurora Award-nominated author Hugh A. D. Spencer weaves a hilarious tale of sarcasm, Mormonism, and oral hygiene that spans the globe. From Singapore to Germany and back to Toronto, Extreme Dentistry explores love and loss, terrible workplaces, babysitting, and those seediest centres of monstrous activity both human and inhuman–shopping malls.

Review: Cover art kinda bleh.

If this novel had babies they would be a cross between zombies and body snatchers. The world is infested with inter-dimensional hive beings that need our juices (pheromones, hormones, DNA) in order to expand in numbers and subsequently shape shift. All faiths of the world have united to fight this threat to humanity and this story takes place mostly in Canada within the guise of the Mormon church.

Unbeknownst to Mr. Arthur Percy, the people he is working for are Hive beings that have been feeding off his adrenal output for ten years by inducing work related stressful situations. He has memory gaps in his work life and after being rescued by a Mormon dentist (lol), he finds out under hypnosis that not only have they been feeding on his blood cocktail, but also butt fucking him.

While the story-line is interesting, the narrative is hilarious. Constant dry wit and rejoinders, social commentary and sarcastic wit are in constant evidence. My kind of humor. The character development is really good and flows with the story-line quite well. Characters are built throughout the novel and grow in complexity based on life’s travails. The overall plot is a good one but there was no real resolution to the issue. Hence the hint of a series at the end.

Very funny author whom writes with Grande freedom and concerted abandon.

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Review: Tales of the Hidden World by Simon Green

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Publisher: Open Road
Publishing Date: July 2014
ISBN: 9781480491120
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description: Seventeen delightfully unexpected stories from Simon R. Green—including a brand-new adventure of the Droods—take us deep into the Darkside, embroil us in the Secret Histories, and lead us into the shadowy places where monsters and demons roam

Review: Cover art is way weak. When in doubt, put a raven on it, preferably in water color.

This is a collection of short stories. Some are good, some are not so good. After about halfway through this “collection” I thought “Fug, this reminds me of Mistworld”. Lo, and behold back in January I wrote a rather scathing review on Mistworld by Simon R. Green. My issues with Mistworld were many fold, but the main detraction was the constant use of adverbs, verbs and nouns conjoined into non-sensical phrases for finishing a persons emotive inclinations.

So here we are again, with a collection of short stories by a very creative author that uses phrase crutches to imply a deeper characterization than really exists, as building characters takes effort which, short stories by their nature, are loathe to develop.
Kudos to the author for minimizing the use of his unique phraseology from Mistflop and gets an extra star for the effort. BUT, in one short story we had…(ahem) “glared impotently x3”, “said diffidently x3”, “said grimly x2”, “said carefully x2”, “tugged thoughtfully”, “sniffed moodily”, “said crushingly x2”, “sniffed sourly x3”. And of course throughout the novel we have multiple uses of “scowled, scowl, growl, growled, sighed, moodily and thoughtfully”.

Lets look closer at a couple of these “phrases”. “Closed the door thoughtfully”. How the fuck do you close a door thoughtfully? Why would you need to close a door thoughtfully, unless said door likes a good banging. Is the door in need of repair, so as you ruminate on how best to repair the door, a thoughtful look comes across your face? And what is sniffing moodily? Is the act of sniffing a noun that now requires an adjective emotive quality? I mean, most of these phrases do not fit the scene and if they did, you have a hard time visualizing what the author is trying to impart.

I will say it again. The author should take an advert out that goes something like: “Good writer with a lot of creative ideas, looking for hot narcoleptic book editor. Will win lots of awards if a leash is used in the restraint of idiotic prose. Looking for candidate that likes to edit in their underwear. Cheers.”

Review: Zero Time by TW Fendley

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Publisher: L & L Dreamspell
Publishing Date: March 2014
ISBN: 9781603183338
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description: When Philadelphia science writer Keihla Benton joins an archeological team at Machu Picchu, she learns ancient prophecies about 2012 have special meaning for her. As Zero Time nears, only she can save two worlds from the powers of Darkness. But first she must unlock the secrets of Machu Picchu and her own past.

Review: Cover art is worthless. Can’t tell what is going on.

This was a very uninspired attempt to finish a novel that gifted so much agony. To be fair, there may have been a problem with the e-ARC copy as the paragraphs would end suddenly, and a new scene or storyline would commence from out of nowhere. Really impossible to track the plot and storyline.

What little I did discern of the storyline was that it jumped around and between moments in time and space with little regard to informing the reader. The old catch-up game with regard to discerning the authors intent with building their world.

The character development was non-existent to the point where their backstories were meaningless in any emotive sense to the here and now. The author attempts to sweep the reader up in a quickly moving storyline where events outpace the characters personalities.

Taking a knee on this one.

Review: Seven Kinds of Hell by Dana Cameron

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Publisher: Amazon
Publishing Date: March 2013
ISBN: 9781611097955
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.2/5

Publisher Description: Archaeologist Zoe Miller has been running from a haunting secret her whole life. But when her cousin is abducted by a vicious Russian kidnapper, Zoe is left with only one option: to reveal herself. Unknown to even her closest friends, Zoe is not entirely human. She’s a werewolf and a daughter of the “Fangborn,” a secretive race of werewolves, vampires, and oracles embroiled in an ancient war against evil. To rescue her cousin, Zoe will be forced to renew family ties and pit her own supernatural abilities against the dark and nefarious foe. The hunt brings Zoe to the edge of her limits, and with the fate of humanity and the Fangborn in the balance, life will be decided by an artifact of world-ending power.

Review: The cover art is as confused as the content.

This started off pretty damn good. Interesting character, unkown events, on the run and seeking answers. Then we get story-line confusion, information dumps, internal dialogue with debates, more internal narrative and plot turns that make no sense but are soon made good by deus x machina.

Zoe is the offspring of a werewolf and an oracle and soon discovers that she is the focus by Fangborn and normals in the hunt for Pandora’s box. See, the Fangborn were at the bottom of the box when evil was unleashed upon the world. So, they are humanities hope…blah, blah…..blah?….kidnap friends….coercion to find figurines…blah..love triangle…..emo sex……chase….kidnap….wolf shifting. Fug. This went from a good novel into a confused morass of pedantic drivel where Zoe wanders around like an idjit in disbelief about most everything. She makes all the wrong choices, but everything goes her way in the end. On top of this confusion is information dumping in the form of backstory. Very tedious reading.

The characters were poorly developed because you just didn’t care when they died off. Sean, who is a long-time friend of Zoe and Will, dies in the end from a gunshot. Oh, well. That sux. Didn’t really know you. Knew you were just cannon fodder for the main character. What’s funny is when Sean dies and Zoe kind of feels bad, you’re no closer to liking anything about her.

Skip this novel, or better yet, read the first 15% then skip to the 90% mark.

Review: A Calculated Life by Anne Charnock

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Publisher: Amazon
Publishing Date: September 2013
ISBN: 9781477849514
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 4.0/5

Publisher Description: Hyper-intelligent Jayna is a star performer at top predictive agency Mayhew McCline, where she forecasts economic and social trends. A brilliant mathematical modeler, she far outshines her co-workers, often correcting their work on the quiet. Her latest coup: finding a link between northeasterly winds and violent crime.

Review: Cover art is pretty good.

Finally, after a weekend of wading through shit novels, I find a diamond amongst the turds. This was an incredibly engrossing novel. Jayna is a simulant. Really the best way to describe her is that she is a manufactured clone with a variety of genes that make up her enhanced IQ. She lives in a kind of warren with other simulants that the Constructor pays for. The Constructor leases simulants to various businesses that derive a monetary or service benefit from their work. They really have no personality or personal interests outside of working.

Initially Jayna comes off as one cold bitch, but she is a hyper analytical simulant where everything is black and white and emotions do not fit into her processing of events. This leads her to question others actions around her, and so begins her mental journey as a self-discovered human being.

The author has amazing character development. She moves you together with Jayna throughout her journey as a non-personality simulant to someone who marvels at the worlds facets while finding love. Jayna recognizes people that she loves but can’t seem to put those words down. She merely notes how her body responds and the subsequent thoughts that flit through her consciousness. The ending is appropriate and offers hope for the reader. It is a tough sell when you care for the writers chosen simulant.

This was a wonderful read. I would have rated it at close to 5 stars but the author contributes to the Huffington Post, so that makes her inherently evil.

Review: The Falling Woman by Pat Murphy

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Publisher: Open Road
Publishing Date: April 2014
ISBN: 9781480483149
Genre: fantasy
Rating: 1.5/5

Publisher Description: When night falls over the Yucatan, the archaeologists lay down their tools. But while her colleagues relax, Elizabeth Butler searches for shadows. A famous scientist with a reputation for eccentricity, she carries a strange secret. Where others see nothing but dirt and bones and fragments of pottery, Elizabeth sees shades of the men and women who walked this ground thousands of years before. She can speak to the past—and the past is beginning to speak back.
As Elizabeth communes with ghosts, the daughter she abandoned flies to Mexico hoping for a reunion. She finds a mother embroiled in the supernatural, on a quest for the true reason for the Mayans’ disappearance. To dig up the truth, the archaeologist who talks to the dead must learn a far more difficult skill: speaking to her daughter.

Review: There are a couple of covers floating around for this novel. I really like this one.

This was originally published in 1987 by Tor and won the Nebula Award. Why Open Road Media is re-publishing this drivel is beyond me.

Wow, the Nebula. Was no one else writing anything of note that year? Did George RR Martin just one day in 1987, say “Fuck it. I am done writing for awhile. I need some time off to draw some weeners.” This was the era of Orson Scott Card, Larry Niven, David Brin, William Gibson and Greg Bear for fucks sake. Is this a case where a review panel fell in love with the notion that iterative dialogue, if psychotic enough, deserves some ass-play?

I am going to have to hang up writing reviews if this POS seriously won the Nebula. Eighty five percent of the novel is Mom/daughter drama and endless dialogue. Then throw in some spots from “I see dead people…er…Mayans” and that is it. There is a faint rejoinder at the end that we may have a sequel to look forward to. Seriously, I would rather have a sockeye salmon shoved up my ass.

You know what, I need to get over myself. This happened in 1987. 1987 was a damn good year for me. I finished college at my fourth university, Stevie Ray Vaughan was Live in Nashville, and …….ok, it was a lame year in history (Except for the SRV Nashville thing) so maybe it was time to elevate a novel based on daily happenstance, the dialogue that ensues and dead people talking. I guess if you make your main character demonstrably “Eccentric” and olde (yes old-ay) at 51 years, then fuck, here’s your Nebula. You could literally walk around for the rest of your miserable life surprising people with your award. Even if you wrote nothing, say for forever, you could still bash someone over the head with that award and have nuns chenuflecting at your feet.

I feel like Lewis Black. I am so pissed off right now, I have this degenerative scream that fails to escape a frustrated throat crammed with curses. I could kick a puppy right now. Nah, I love dogs. I could seriously kick a kitten right now.

Review: The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher

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Publisher: Tor
Publishing Date: March 2014
ISBN: 9780765374189
Genre: Scifi
Rating: 1.0/5

Publisher Description: Our world is no longer our own.
We engineered a race of superior fighters–the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us.
In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.
Some of us intend to do more than survive. Asha and Pax—strangers and enemies—find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there. Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource—information—viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society. Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check. But neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie. With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other’s secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.

Review: Cover art looks like a discarded fashion magazine cover of Kathy Ireland.

This was really painful to get through. Endless pages of dialogue that follows a loosely defined story-line and no plot. Asha and Pax meet in weird circumstances and he holds back on “raping her” as she is pure human and he is attuned to females who are sending hormonal signals of reproduction. So from there they kinda run around getting horny or beat up all for ????? It just so happens that Pax is the son of the Manti Amir which makes him a kind of…..(wait for it)….PRINCE! There is the usual human resistance effort along with the Manti “Rebelion'” blah blah blah.

This fooking novel goes nowhere, takes the reader nowhere and reduces characters to exhibiting surface emotions with no inner development of any substantive worth. Now why was this painful to get through? The author used the tried and true scene development word crutches like; “growled, growl, mumbled, muttered, frown, frowned and frowning”. Over and over and over. There are chapters devoted to the “50 shades of grey” approach to writing that Nora first capitalized on. Here it just comes off mechanical as the author has no talent in developing the characters to the point that you could possibly like them enough to envision their sex.

The novel has no plot, lots of dialogue, word crutches, poor character development and a wandering story-line. The characters are self-centered myopic douche bags that think the center of the universe starts and ends with them, especially their annoying “nuzzling” or “nibbling”. Fug.