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.

Review: The Ouroboros Key by Patricia Leslie

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Publisher: Odyssey
Publishing Date: March 2014
ISBN: 9781922200334
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.1/5.0

Publisher Description: Prophetic dreams have haunted Dan Tenney since childhood, foretelling him of a life-changing event that is soon to take place. But before he can learn the meaning of his visions, he is attacked by a shadowy group of extremists: the Brotherhood of the Grail.

Finding sanctuary underground, an ancient relic comes into his possession and Dan begins to understand the path his visions have laid out before him. His quest will be fraught with an otherworldly people and an event that could tip the balance in favour of human existence—or disastrously against it. The mysterious Brotherhood will do everything in their power to prevent Dan from fulfilling his destiny as the Bearer of Ouroboros.

Review: They blew it on the cover art. Cave + water + design + raven = lame. Should have expanded the raven as a focal center.

This is a tired and well used story-line that a lot of authors have attempted to re-create in the wake of Dan Brown’s success. Sangreal, Christ’s lineage, Templar offshoots with some fantasy (magic) events thrown in here and there in an attempt to grant the story-line some relevancy. This started out entirely too descriptive as the writer took way too much artistic license in scene development. This is a constant theme throughout the novel. Every scene gets this lengthy expansion addled with descriptive details. It may be interesting that, say, Simone likes Thai and orders from her favorite expensive restaurant as she has high-end tastes in clothes yada yada yada but I don’t need to know that in order to enjoy a story-line. There are pages and pages of descriptors that really don’t enhance the scenes. Even during chase events the author takes a minute to describe why Simone has turned off her phone.

There were some fall downs where weapons came into play like “She put her hand on the butt of her .38 special.” What? She put her hand on a caliber? In another scene he “pulls out his H&K pistol.” H&K what? P9? USP? P7? P2000? HK4? What caliber? Then Glock’s are thrown in with no model number and a Ruger P97 “guaranteed to blow the proverbial shit out of whatever I fire it at.” Huh? Since the P97 comes in .30 luger, 9mm, .40 and .45 calibers, which is the author speaking to? Also blowing the “proverbial shit” out of things is a function of the shooters ability coupled with the caliber. Using a Ruger P97 definitely lessens any innate ability a shooter may have. Elliot mentions his desire for a Armalite MH-12 Maghook (used in the Shane Schofield novels by Mathew Reilly). Too funny as this tool/weapon is fictitious.

Although I enjoyed the story-line I really hated seeing a fairly good writer start using the dreaded word crutches of “scowled, scowl, growled, growl, muttered, mumbled and grumbled” to expedite dialogue in an attempt to convey emotion without truly developing the characters at any point in the novel. Again, when I see those friggin’ words again and again I am disappointed for the author and her obvious fail. Also there was some weird southwest cowboy accents thrown in. Yeah, maybe people in Colorado or New Mexico talk like that, if they are transplanted from Texas. What was weird was that Dan would talk with an accent through one passage, then it would go away. His accent was like a boomerang throughout the novel.

If you like really long novels with a stretched out story-line, lots of dialogue and scene descriptions, then look no further than Ouro.

Review: The Treacherous Path by David J. Normoyle

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Publisher: Normoyle
Publishing Date: March 2014
ISBN:9781311103888
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.2/5.0

Publisher Description: He did the impossible.

This is book 2 of the The Narrowing Path Series. Book 1 is called The Narrowing Path.
He did the impossible. Bowe Bellanger broke all the rules in surviving The Narrowing Path.
The victory is short-lived. Three years of trying to return the Bellanger family to its former glory comes to nothing when one of the other families attacks, forcing Bowe to flee the city. At the same time, powerful forces threaten war and rebellion throughout Arcandis, and Bowe has to take advantage of the upheaval or be overwhelmed by it.
The second book in The Narrowing Path Series takes Bowe on a harrowing journey where he’ll face a terrible decision that will decide not just his future, but the future of the entire society.

Review: The cover art is so-so. A little cartoony.

WTF happened to this story-line? We went from awesome adventure and daring do in the Narrowing Path, to Bowe finding his ineptitude at life in the form of a failed hipster douche bag Guardian.

So Bowe’s house of Bellanger is out of time and support, and House Lessard wants to take over. So everyone splits, Bowe makes deals with the guild and later on, the forest heathen to expedite his escapes. Pretty much it. Add in a love interest, Dulnato the Bad dying at the hand of the White Spider and a Jarindor invasion into Ascor and you’re done.

Throughout this second installment, we have Bowe walking around in disbelief and whining about everything. Suddenly he finds himself a backbone and a way to end this invasion…..with an army of cooking pot wielding Escay and the support of the Guardians and the Guild. Double Fug. Really don’t like story lines that canvas the lame-o and unbelievable in search of reader sympathy.

The Narrowing Path was one of the best novels I have read in a long time. This sucked ass in comparison. Why not continue Bowe’s rise to manhood with experience as the Guardian of Bellanger? Could he not have built something in three years time? Crafted some type of ties with the Guild? This myopic rendition is just that,…three years of self-centered behavior, then thrust into escape, survival and ultimately, victory. Better yet, set out on a quest to save Bellanger with a sea adventure to Jarindor for trade and perhaps find another hidden refuge from the infernam that no one knows about. But nooooooooooooooooooooooo, we have to traipse around the un-interesting countryside with Whiny the Small-Minded.

Review: The Sunset Warrior by Eric Van Lustbader

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Publisher: Open Road
Publishing Date: March 2014
ISBN: 9781480470897
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.5/5

Publisher Description: In an underground world, a rogue swordsman fights to save civilization
Centuries after an ecological calamity turned the surface of the world to ice, mankind has retreated beneath the earth’s crust. In the contained environment of the Freehold, civilization reverts to feudalism and lords known as Saardin maintain their grip on power through the strength of their Bladesmen. Among these subterranean samurai is Ronin, an unaffiliated warrior who lives by his blade alone. When war threatens to engulf the Freehold, this wandering fighter will be called on to save mankind. As battle draws near, Ronin attempts to stay out of the conflict. But in an environment as claustrophobic as this crumbling underground shelter, neutrality is impossible. To prevent what remains of humanity from destroying itself in an underground war, the Bladesman will embark on a quest that takes him to the frozen surface of a forgotten world to feel for the first time the heat of the sun.

Review: No need to read the book after reading the publishers description.
As you can see there are two covers. The horse is pretty cool but has nothing to do with the story as it takes place underground where there are no horsies. The second cover looks like you caught some astronaut dude taking a shit in a space-commode.

This was one choppy read. One second your getting laid along with Ronin and the next sentence you’re talking to Stahlig, the medicine man. The whole novel has weird story-line shifts, as if the author forgot to insert page breaks. In one scene, Ronin declines an invitation to have some wine with his friend, Nirren. Then in the next paragraph he is sharing a cup of wine in Nirrens quarters. Huh?
Borros, the magic man, dies. Then all of a sudden Ronin needs to get back and see him. Huh? And later we find the mad man alive and well where he left him. Fug. Even some of the sentence structure where dialogue occurred was choppy and stilted to the point of incomprehension. I just cruised through those sections hoping all would become clear. Luckily the novel moved at a snails pace in the action department, so you had plenty of time to develop your own story-line to fill in the gaps. Yeah, that’s wrong but sometimes your own imagination suffices in the storm of confusion.

I read where some reviewers had the same issues with this novel and subsequently dropped their ratings. I liked the characters and the story-line but it fell short in terms of cohesiveness. Perhaps the proof reader/editor was a no-show on this one (i.e. snorting coke with orangutans).

K’reen, the hot chick, was scantily clad as well as developed (er, as a character). She could have been a good main character in a supportive role yet was relegated to sex kitten/tantrum bitch. The Salamander could also have been a great character with a bigger than life story-line, but the author chose to limit his development. The author hints that the Salamander likes boyz as evidenced by the toyz in his abode as well as Ronin’s possible reason for leaving his training.

The big glaring hole in the story-line (which may be supported by prior works in the author’s universe) is why the Freehold is in constant training to defend itself. Against what? Where is the threat that could create a long-term warrior society? So you train to become a bladesman, then Chondrin under a Saardin. Why? Where is the supportive logic? Were they historically fighting other Freeholds? Did other Freeholds self-implode (as hinted at) and if so, why?

There is a lot of, secret mincing about, that is tiring as it leads nowhere. Mainly because if you find yourself sneaking along with Ronin, avoiding the shadowy daggam guards and really getting into the story….you suddenly find yourself in an arena fighting for your life and wondering if this is a flashback or a current scene in the story-line.

This novel needs a big reset button on the cover. Keep the story-line, develop the relevant characters, keeps things logically supported and COHESIVE. There, besides solving all the worlds problems I fix shjt I know nothing about.