Review: The Guild of Assassins by Anna Kashina


Publisher: Angry Robot
Publishing Date: August 2014
ISBN: 9780857665287
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 1.0/5

Publisher Description: Kara has achieved something that no Majat has ever managed – freedom from the Guild! But the Black Diamond assassin Mai has been called back to face his punishment for sparing her life. Determined to join his fight or share his punishment, Kara finds herself falling for Mai.

Review: Cover art is a lot better than the first novel but not by much.

We now find our intrepid gang of post adolecsents embroiled in Majat code, where Mai spared Kara’s life and has been recalled to the Guild to answer for his impertinence. We not only still find Ellah bumbling around and blushing every time she looks at Mai, but now Kara is blushing as well. Why do you ask? Well, it seems that Kara left the Guild for her love of Prince Douche Baggery, yet just broke up with him in order to go back to the Guild with Mai as she owes him her code of life…blah, blah. So, anyway, as a freshly single Diamond assassin, she finds Mai encamped and soon they are banging their brains out in a clearing (Nora Roberts love scene with arched backs and heavy panting). Wow, Kara must love….er love? What is even more ludicrous is the Jilted Prince is already checking out Princess Hotness Cornupia that just so happens to be at the castle on some exchange program. She is handy with vitriol, sharp as a tack politically, good with a bow and hotter than a two dollar pistol. Good recovery batman. You were only crying your eyes out 2 hours ago.

This all happens within the first third of the novel. Quite astounding really. Love must be a flippant and flighty thing in Majat world.

While I am hard pressed to entertain any seriousness related to the story-line, the author’s overuse of words to expedite scene development still exists in spades. Take for instance “shiver”, “shivered”, “quivered”, “quiver” or “shivers”. Used approximately 72 times. “She shivered as he entered her”…”He shivered as the memories came welling up…” and on and on. As in the first novel we are assaulted with the old “He had mischief in his eyes” and my favorite “He smelled like mountain pine” or “He inhaled her scent of wild flowers”. Fug me.

The fight scenes are still ludicrous. In one instance Mai takes on the Guilds finest warriors with Kara and “moving as one” (as they are bang mates), they take down scads of assassins. YAWN……Well, fug. Of course they are not only the hottest looking assassins around, they are the best of the best as well. Would you have it any other way, minion?

I just don’t get Angry Robot sometimes. They can have the best cutting edge novels and at the same time, publish really weak drivel. While this installment is better than the first, it still needs better story-line and character development. This rushing into and out of relationships in a love quadrangle is not believable. When your main character gives up all she has for love, which is the basis for the whole story-line, and then without a care starts humping someone else, the whole process falls flat. What next? Kara starts banging Princess Cornupia in the third installment?

I want to like this novel, yet there is too much love addled spooge draped in assassins mien. The infatuation levels skyrocket for both Kara and Mai….THE LEGENDS OF THE GUILD! -barf-

Review: The Bleiberg Project by David Khara


Publisher: Le French
Publishing Date: July 2014
ISBN: 9781939474063
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description: Are Hitler’s atrocities really over? For depressive Wall Street trader Jeremy Corbin, absolute truths become undeniable lies overnight. He finds out his long-lost father is dead and boards a plane to Zurich with a Nazi medallion in his pocket, a hot CIA bodyguard next to him, and a clearly dangerous Mossad agent on his tail. What was his father investigating? Why was his mother assassinated?

Review: The cover art is as confused as the story-line.

This could be called the ultimate flashback novel. The story-line jumps around from Hitler’s era on up to the 60’s and 80’s. This usually degrades a novel, but in this case it was a boon. Very interesting and intriguing where the author takes you. His supposition that genetic experiments under the Nazi regime and a hidden world consortium manipulating events on an epic scale has been visited many times. Only the author makes it believable. His travels into the past were riveting to say the least.

What is not credible is the general story-line whereby one of the CIA investigators leaves his son a safe deposit box with some cryptic information and from there he is co-opted as part of a covert CIA team to recover some answers about Blieberg, what it means, and ultimately destroy the heinous and insidious plot. So… have a drunk idiot, with no military training whom is now part of a high level operation to ferret out a cabal that has been in existence since before the 1900’s. The same cabal that exercises covert authority over all the worlds military and political leaders, eliminating anyone that stands in their way with impunity. So Jeremy dummy drunk guy, in one of his self-destructive fits stumbles into and out of a hit team sent to kill him, for???? I don’t know. Some key?
Well, anyway, as team incredible (CIA HOT CHICK and GIANT JEW MAN) set off to set the world right, this cabal is hot on their trail.

The fight scenes that involved doofus and CIA HOT CHICK (whom Jeremy wants to bang like a snare drum) are ridiculous. You have Jackie HOT CHICK whom is not much over 5 feet tall taking out huge Aryan dudes and BREAKING THEIR NECKS!! Are you fugging kidding me? She was abused as a girl and because of that is an expert in Tae Kwon Do. In one scene she un-cuffs herself (2003 model French handcuffs that come apart if you bang them) and punches a 6 foot 6 inch monster in the face, removing his eye, and on the way down she breaks his neck and does the same with the other tough. REALLY? So how does a 5 foot tall person punch someone in the eye that is over 6 feet tall, let alone have the strength and technique to break their necks with Tae Kwon do which is mainly a kicking style. So immediately after this scene, HOT CHICK and Jeremy douche run to save GIANT JEW MAN, and Jeremy kicks the shit out of a trained commando and saves HOT CHICK from a severe beating. WTF? A super neck breaking chick gets saved by a drunk stock broker? Well it gets better, when they get through the toughs, Jeremy jumps on some huge Aryan evil chick whom is torturing GIANT JEW MAN, and decides he is not going to snap her spine because, well, he is “not a killer”. Fug.

So GIANT JEW MAN, stays behind to destroy the laboratory, and Jeremy and Jackie end up married with kids thinking GIANT JEW MAN is dead. ONLY, they get a cryptic email from non other than GIANT JEW MAN!!! HE IS ALIVE!! And out to wreak havoc on the consortium. So stay tuned for the sequel and let me know how it goes.

Review: Template by Matthew Hughes


Publisher: Matthew Hughes
Publishing Date: June 2014
ISBN: 9780988107847
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 4.8/5

Publisher Description: When professional duelist Conn Labro escapes indentured servitude as the star player of Horder’s Emporium, he abandons the gaming world of Thrais and sets out on an interstellar journey filled with murder, deceit, and self-discovery. His only friend on Thrais, discovered dead and tortured, left him enough money to buy himself out of his contract and a curious encrypted “bearer deed” to a mysterious property on the distant edge of the galactic Spray. With the seductive, secretive showgirl Jenore Mordene at his side and a villainous pleasure cult dogging his every move, Labro sets out to learn the truth behind his bearer deed and more about his own past than he had ever dared bargain for.

Review: Cover art is kewl.

Wow. Having read the publisher description I thought I was in for a juvenile read. Not even close. This had really good dueling scenes, great character development and a schizophrenic story line. Conn’s internalizations and views on life in general are very logical and have less emotion than Spock fixing a broken transporter. As emotions trickle into mind you get to follow along in this slow reveal of humanity as he plies his way across the Spray.

The story line has a few tangents where there is an inordinate amount of time spent on Old Earth with Jenore and her family. The pace slows way down as Conn tries to figure out himself and only picks up when Jenore’s evil and fat betrothed starts machinating.

The story culimates on a planet once owned by two brothers of the Caligula bent and deeded to Conn. There is a finality to the story that left me strangely disappointed. I really wanted to keep following Conn Labro, Jenore and Captain Erkatchian across the Spray and into the Back and Beyond. A wonderfully poignant story of self-discovery interlaced with hard-boiled SciFi and Epiniards.

Review: Anthem’s Fall by SL Dunn


Publisher: Prospect Hill Press
Publishing Date: July 2014
ISBN: 9780991622412
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.0/5

Publisher Description: Above a horrified New York City, genetics and ethics collide as the fallen emperor and a banished exile of the same herculean race ignite into battle over the city’s rooftops. In the streets below, a brilliant young scientist has discovered a technology that can defeat them both, yet might be more terrible than either.

Review: The cover art is pretty bad.

Well I got to give props to an author that did it all himself. A true indie author if there ever was one. I give him a star for that.

The story-line was going along pretty well then we are transported to another world with super beings in constant conflict. Was this really SciFi? I dunno. It is a stretch that super beings in another galaxy would behave like the knights and kings of old earth and be fairly obstinate in their progression as advanced beings. To me if you reside outside of our solar system, I doubt there would be parallels in culture and especially not in form.

So Emperor High Farty Pants Vengelis ends up on earth after being ousted by the Felix on his home planet of Anthem. While there he fights with a banished super-being, Gravitas whom cares for these pathetic earthlings. Blah, blah, blah extended fight scene and THE END.

This novel just did not grab me in anyway. It should have. Good writer, good story-line, fairly well developed characters. Maybe it was the non-believable nature of an alien humanoid race that speaks like ancient earth royalty. Or maybe it was the over the top fight scenes that perhaps lasted too long and were unbelievable as well. Still it gets three stars for a good effort but definitely needs cleaning up to make a more poignant delivery.

Review: The Culling by JC Andrijeski


Publisher: White sun press
Publishing Date: April 2014
ISBN: 9781499306743
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 1.5/5

Publisher Description: Jet is a 19-year-old skag, one of the humans still living free on Earth following an invasion of creatures called the Nirreth. Squatting in the ruins of Vancouver, Jet and her family eke out an existence underground, hiding from culler ships and fighting off raiding humans.

Review: There are a couple of covers out there. This one is perplexing. Why is the hot bad ass chick always have her back to you while looking over her shoulder? Not a real good self-defense tactic.

Ah, dystopia where is thy sting? Oh shjt, I said I would never read another novel by this author after “Rook”. Oh well. The general plot has a pretty weak premise as far a science fiction goes. Why would an alien species, capable of inter-stellar travel, come to a back water planet in a back water galaxy to take up residence and enslave the human race? Earth chicks are hot? They lost their lease on planet X? And how in the fug did they find us? Are they like a spacefaring plague that spreads galactic tentacles, ensnaring populated worlds? Why no, they are here to subjugate, enslave and place human combatants in a fighting arena against themselves. Make sense? No? Tough shjt.

Jet and her sword, Black (get it?) fight in order to survive. And did you know that her sword maker Mishimo, told her that “Jet”, in Latin means black. In case you were unaware about black, jet and the Latin connection…….So she gets captured, cause, well, we need a fugging story-line and meets the Captain of some hovering ship that turns out to be, Richter!!! DUN! DUN! DUN!. Some human sleeze-ball colluding with the aliens. But he’s hot and is just trying to survive and has mischief and steel in his eyes and a smirk or a smile about his lips 24/7. Fug.

The dialogue, much like “Rook” is endlessessesssessss. Every scene is fraught with an over abundance of needless detail and internalization. “Should I run here, go there, (ruminates on past life while fleeing)”. And then boom-splat, she is having a face to face with the Captain and getting all hot an bothered while freshly captured and stung with poison from the tail of an alien. In one scene where she first meets Richter, Jet “folded” or was “folding” her arms at least four times. Did the author forget that she had folded her arms already, or had she dropped her arms, only to fold them again to purvey an emotional tense? Who knows. Throughout this conversation the author takes not so subtle pains to describe Richter. “Meeting her gaze with those coffee colored eyes…..smiled at her with those perfect white teeth…..laid his thick arms on the table……patted her shoulder with his big hands…” blah blah blah. Jets jaw either “hardened”, got “hard” or was “hardening” at least 24 times throughout this novella, which I must say, is quite a bit grindage.

This novel has scant action, even less story-line appeal and a never ending spew of dialogue of the internal kind. Not to mention the constant yapping between the characters and Jet’s ever present frumpy indignation over EVERYTHING. Just be a mean slave girl. Why the air of humanity and false bravado when there is no hope? This novel could of had a great character in Jet. Make her a self-reliant bad-ass of the future whom survived underground, was captured and now fights in the ring. There would be no love interest, no arguing politics about rebels or aliens. Just a chick with a sword with an attitude to kill.

Review: Sharkman by Steve Alten


Publisher: Rowman
Publishing Date: October 2014
ISBN: 9781630760199
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 1.8/5

Publisher Description: Depressed and feeling isolated, Kwan is befriended by his new principal, who tells him about an internship at a genetics lab in Miami working with shark stem cells that are being tested on rats to cure cancer and spinal injuries. Kwan passes . . . until he learns the beautiful Anya Patel is an intern at the lab. The good news is that the stem cells are curing their rat subjects; the bad news—it alters their DNA before killing them. When a promising breakthrough is made, Kwan decides to risk his life and inject himself with the experimental elixir of stem cells—

Review: Cover art needs some work. Like maybe a whole new concept.

This started out very intriguing. Paralyzed kid takes a chance on untested stem cells in a life or death bid to regain his life. And then we get a canned story-line. From teen angst and wuv interests, to bully’s and ultimate paybacks. Even the scenes that have yet to fully develop you can determine the outcome. For instance this guy and his hot wife in line at a dance club that are being harassed by 3 “bad Dudes”. You know right at the get-go that Kwan is going to save the day while showcasing his shark attributes. And then you really have to suspend your disbelief when it turns out Kwan’s rear admiral father is behind the stem cell research, unbeknownst to both of them. Really?

There are the standard digs on Cheney/Rumsfield (conservatives) and the accolades for Oprah/Obama that you come to expect when you read any of Alten’s books. The guy just can’t help but use his work as a mouthpiece for his political platform.

Was it all bad? Not at all. While the story-line could have taken an interesting turn into the covert world and left the laughable suitcase nuke/military industrial complex theory out, the characters were fairly solid and the pace moved at a good clip. Sabeen (a super hot middle eastern spy chick) really seemed like an inserted character that was an after thought. She takes out a couple of navy seals underwater, well, because she had such a bad life that turned her into a stone cold killer at 19 yo. Are you laughing yet? I did. Then “Poof”, she is gone. Then she gets called back by the Admiral to become a tiger shark. Huh? She does get an epilogue where she randomly kills innocent divers around Key Largo.

The whole “Kwan can outthink the military, evade capture, hide a nuke, create a diversion and plant the nuke on the Admirals boat while saving his friends locked in a freezer with C4” is a stretch. I think if you’re up to 15 years old you might like this. Me, not so much. I knew I was in for it when the author kept using “point” nine millimeter (.9) to designate a handgun caliber.

Review: Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia


Publisher: Baen
Publishing Date: July 2014
ISBN: 9781476736556
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.8/5

Publisher Description: Agent Franks of the U.S. Monster Control Bureau is a man of many parts—parts from other people, that is. Franks is nearly seven feet tall and all muscle. He’s nearly indestructible. Plus he’s animated by a powerful alchemical substance and inhabited by a super-intelligent spirit more ancient than humanity itself.

Review: I like the cover art. Kind of a retro comic look.

This was a pretty fun story-line. Franks was great. His persona and internalizations were great as was his physicality. A huge golem-like human inhabited by an ancient spirit that is a monster wrecking ball. While the grammatical and spelling errors were fairly high we can only hope that this work will have further editing processes to go through before final publication.

I really don’t have a lot to say on this one. Very entertaining.

Review: Daunting Days of Winter by Ray Gorham


Publisher: Ray Gorham
Publishing Date:April 2014
ISBN: 9781475604214
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3.0/5

Publisher Description: Kyle Tait, having survived the harrowing, cross-country journey home to his family, must now struggle for existence in a post-EMP world that no one could have imagined just three short months prior. Each day brings new challenges – how to fight the bitter cold, where to scavenge food for the table, how to best fend off intruders and keep their community safe.

Review: The cover art is pretty good in a low budget approach.

This was a pretty damn good post-apocalyptic novel. That is to say, it had some issues, but overall was entertaining.

Kyle is accused of raping and killing a young girl and is sentenced to death by the towns jury. It is quite a stretch in believability that a respected and contributing member of a surviving society is convicted on scant evidence. While the premise is kind of weak, this particular side-story took up a lot of the novel. It has this trial like atmosphere with endless dialogue. This kicks off Kyle’s new quest under the onus of banishment from framily. At one point Sean asks Kyle that he heard he was going east, to Idaho. As they are in Montana (Deer Creek) Kyle would need to head west.

While Kyle is banished and traveling overland, Rose (from the first novel) is on her way up north from Wyoming in hopes of getting in touch with Kyle again. This looks like a hookup made in heaven but Kyle is still attached to his frigid wife. Rose has her own set of challenges to face and makes for interesting reading.

I really liked the authors political and social voice as read through the character, Frank. Frank is ex-military and will tell you what he thinks, straight from the hip. Refreshing after reading so much PC garbage lately.

I would have enjoyed a more in depth take on prepping and existing in a post-apocalyptic environment. I think the trial dialogue could have been edited way down and the dire ramifications expounded on in a burgeoning survival community. Still, there was a lot of good info for those of us “inclined” in that direction. The author falls short on the existence and pervasiveness of illness and disease that would have impacted society. Steps taken to eliminate contact with outsiders was non-existent nor were the host of flus/infections and other illnesses associated with malnutrition and starvation. The 1,000 yard shooting accuracy and the bear attack are not believable but “that’s entertainment”.

I had fun reading this as it is more of a story rather than a Wesley Rawles “Patriots” type of novel. The author seeks to entertain, but I felt that part of the entertainment was to keep events and situations as accurate as possible with regards to a post-apocalyptic scenario. The authors take on the value of silver and gold and other commodities is good. Jennifer (Kyles wife) is a lame, whining, needy, frigid nut case that Kyle should have dumped for Rose. Frank should have been expounded upon as a character and offered a good opportunity to get into the ideals and processes of prepping. While living in a community has its benefits, it can mostly be a drain on resources that you might already have plus the added problem that people tend to suck.

Review: Troll Mountain: The Complete Novel by Matthew Reilly


Publisher: Momentum
Publishing Date: May 2014
ISBN: 9781760080983
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.0/5.0

Publisher Description: In an isolated valley, a small tribe of humans is dying from a terrible illness.
There are rumors, however, that the trolls of Troll Mountain, the valley’s fearsome overlords, have found a cure for the illness: a fabulous elixir.
When his sister is struck down by the disease and his tribal leaders refuse to help him, an intrepid youth named Raf decides to defy his tribe and do the unthinkable: he will journey alone to Troll Mountain and steal the elixir from the dreaded trolls.
But to get to Troll Mountain, Raf will have to pass through dangerous swamps and haunting forests filled with wolves, hobgoblins and, worst of all, the ever-present danger of rogue trolls …

Review: The cover art is a slight improvement upon the original novella but still shite.

So…..Raf has saved a Troll named Dum and added Ko, a wizened cohort living in a swamp in the badlands. They decide to go through the mountain tunnels to reach the castle in order to obtain the Elixir. The tunnel entrance has an undisturbed huge spider web spanning the entire width of it. So they
assume that no one or thing has been through in quite awhile. Upon entering they run into 11 hobgoblins and 4 or so mountain wolves who summarily chase them. My question is how did the wolves get in there without disturbing the spiders web (writers logic used here) and how were both the wolves and goblins able to coexist in the cave prior to Raf’s arrival? The wolves do a good job chewing on the goblins while the battle ensues, so not sure what prompted this sudden discovery.

I thought the bulk of the novel might follow Reilly’s hidden treasure/trap scenario as in other novels. Those were inventive and fascinating. The hero’s and villain’s are challenged to figure out a way through without killing themselves. In Troll mountain it is mentioned initially that traps abound in the tunnel, but our merry band of hero’s pass through without one mechanical challenge.

Despite some fight scene and rope scaling fails, Reilly delivers lovable characters and adventure that is entertaining. Too bad this was a Novella as it lacked depth due to the pace. The authors interview at the end where he answers questions related to the crafting of the novel seems kind of narcissistic and over done. I think most of his novels follow this “self-interview” format.

Review: The Buried Life by Carrie Patel


Publisher: Angry Robot
Publishing Date: July 2014
ISBN: 9780857665225
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.3/5

Publisher Description: The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Ricoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.

Review: I agree with the author. The cover art is good.

This novel started out really, really slow and I almost gave up on it. Kind of felt like following a real boring version of Holmes and Watson.

Malone and Sundar, having recently been teamed, are following a string of murders that are occurring to the ruling class (whitenails) of Recoletta. Recolletta is ruled by the Council that presides over pretty much everything. From the city guards, factories, trade and even the Municpal Police (inspectors). The council approves any “contracts” that the officers can work on. This novel was high with intrigue that swirls within the body politic.

The story line was solid as was the character development. Liesl Malone comes off as kind of an unemotional, directed woman without too much concern for humanistic frailties. Much like Sherlock. Rafe Sundar, a rookie investigator with scads of charm and personality, is a former improv actor turned detective. He balances Malone much like Watson to Sherlock.

There is never any clarity through most of the novel, about where this is taking place in relation to time and place. South America is mentioned at one point, so you begin to mentally sift through any tidbit of information that tells you whether or not your in the future, past or an alternate universe. When those questions are finally answered it becomes apparent that this was central to the plot although minor in impact. Perhaps knowing your relative place in the context of world building may have helped me enjoy the novel more. Kind of an awareness while reading thing.

I get a kind of Victorian era/steampunk vibe without the steam. There are trains and carriages, torches and illumination lights. This would have been a great story with an infusion of steampunk, even of a limited sort. Instead we get a kind of dystopian post-apocalyptic look set in the mundane future. There were some grammatical and spelling errors that need some cleaning up as well.

This was a very well written novel. Attention to the logic of not only writing but writing a detective novel was superb. Behind this detecting logic there lurks an obvious perpetrator but you always seem to know that that would be too easy. The fun is in determining the who, and seeing if subsequent events play out in your favor. I like a novel that challenges you AND gives you enough information to figure it out. Despite my infernal nitpicks, I loved this novel and look forward to Ms. Patel’s next.