Review: Daunting Days of Winter by Ray Gorham

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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.

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Review: Troll Mountain: The Complete Novel by Matthew Reilly

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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

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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.

Review: Sky Streak of Terror by Dan Griffin

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Publisher: Publication Consultants
Publishing Date: April 2014
ISBN: 9781594334375
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 0.1/5

Publisher Description: Sky Streak of Terror, a novel about heroism, love, and betrayal, when a young man from the small community of Spruce Hills, Alaska, has his peaceful farming life turned upside down, when he learns that he is responsible for freeing an immortal and murderous, extra-terrestrial prisoner from a fallen meteorite. The gifted young man with newly aquired enhanced abilities, is soon forced into action.

Review: The cover art makes no sense. Golden dude running.

This novel was bad in quite a few ways. The endless monologue where every character tells you exactly what they are thinking, the choices they are going to make and the subsequent ramifications/outcome. Fug. Even the alien makes Grande statements before he try’s to kill people….” You two are a thorn in my side,..hindering my plans…I was about to burn the town down and force everyone into my clutches!” Really? This is how aliens talk? Or my favorite…”Your useless friend surely fled like all cowards do and left you here alone, and now I have a sudden change of plans! The smell of your blood that you continually cough up has triggered my hunger, and I’ve decided to feed!”. MUAHHAHAHAHAHA!!. Er, huh? This alien is so unbelievable as a character as to be reminiscent of nothing you have ever read in scifi literature. He has human emotions, language, facial expressions, comments and dialogue. So I thought it was cool that the alien could shape shift until it turned into an equitable version of a Suzuki Hayubasa motorcycle and chases after a soldier trying to get away on a Suzuki at 200 mph. Stupid stuff.

So we have Benjamin super guy who was the greatest athlete, in like, ever and has a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt (of course). So as we move along the story-line the author takes pause to tell us “He first began spraying his blue jeans which covered his flexibly muscular legs…then sprayed his shirt covering his rippling six-pack abs, muscular chest and broad shoulders……tight forearms and bulging biceps of his brown-tanned arms…..then gave his thick neck a touch up….” I don’t know about you but my Gaydar just went off. The military constantly discuss special ops in front of Ben-prick, well because, he is freakin’ Ben-jammin! Ben-dick wants to go revenge himself on this murderous alien but first must prove his new found abilities with the military, because they just aren’t up to the task. Editing errors ensue as it is repeatedly stated that the 2 mile run record for military soldiers with backpack is 15 seconds flat. I wait for a correction later in the paragraph, and its still states 15 seconds.

Then we move on to what a great marksman Ben is. “He could drill tacks at fifty yards with his favorite large-caliber handgun.” Oh really? Just because your writing fiction doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice credibility. I can hit a 6″ steel plate, while standing, at 50 yds consistently, but in no way does a handgun allow for the precision required to hit the same spot (a tacks width apart), repeatedly with iron sights.

Ben-dummay is in the hospital and has JUST FOUND OUT HIS PARENTS HAVE BEEN MURDERED. So what does he do? He daydreams about a hot nurse, whom (bad metaphor coming) ” melted him like cold butter in a hot frying pan”. He goes on to describe her in detail, “desirable 5’5″ and 115-pound petite frame, silky black hair, …thick pink lips, glossy white teeth.” What is this guy doing, buying a horse? As she walks away Ben exclaims, “Oh my, I think I love her!” Really? Insta-love. Fuggin A’. He goes on to take her home, checks out her tits and hips and gets a kiss. Wow, nice recovery batman. Only your parents are in body bags in the same hospital that you are in. Fug this turd. The next day (A DAY AFTER HIS PARENTS DIED) Ben and his hottie nurse, Taryn go to see his parents in the morgue. After viewing the dead bodies, WHILE STILL IN THE MORGUE, they start making out. Only to be interrupted by Sgt. Wilson. So the insta-love is not over for Benny-doo-doo. After being jilted by Taryn (she’s a spy for the military) he run’s into Joi Li, an even hotter Asian babe he saved and was subsequently KILLED by the alien at the beginning of the novel. See, this other GOOD ALIEN saw what went down, and took her to his spaceship and revived her (Ben-jiz stuffed her corpse in a sunken car in the river). So Ben-douche sees her in a forest by the spaceship, falls in insta-love again but this time has sex with her in the spaceship and they pledge their eternal love, ALL WITHIN A FEW HOURS. Fug me to fuggin heck in a fuggin hand-fuggin’ basket.

Review: The Doomsday Kids by Karyn Langhorne Folan

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Publisher: Doomsday
Publishing Date: August 2014
ISBN: 9780615966083
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2.8/5

Publisher Description: Separated from their parents by a nuclear blast, eight kids must work together to survive. Liam’s Promise is the first of six books in The Doomsday Kids series

Review: First of six books in a series you say? Better change the cover art to follow a theme if you’re planning a series. Presently it is reminiscent of a Twilight movie poster.

This was a very compelling post-apocalyptic survival novel. Kind of a cross between “The Road” and Rawles “Patriots” series. Where Rawles novel has quite a bit of factual detail concerning survival after a cataclysmic event, Doomsday Kids is more about telling a particular story about some kids as they make their way to a Mountain retreat.

As the author was attempting to entertain the reader, there were some fall downs here and there with survival tactics related to poor choices. Yet the author makes it clear that there are distinct options that may improve their collective chances at survival. It becomes quickly evident that any poor choices that are made, no matter how minor, have lasting ramifications on their chances of surviving through the exodus. Poor choices in route selection lead to capture by a band of surviving adults. The kids manage to over-power and out-smart this group of killers using a child’s scream as a diversion. Not buying it. What’s weird is that there is no ensuing chase after the kids when the killers have atv’s and AR-15’s. There is also the starving bear attack scene which is fairly unbelievable. If a bear attacks a group of people, most, if not all of the people will be maimed or killed. So they decide to eat the bear and string it up in the middle of a cement railway tunnel. How are a group of starving kids going to hoist a 225-300 lb black bear up in the air in order to gut and skin it? Where is the attachment point at the top of a tunnel. Who went up there to do it? The author kind of glosses over a lot of details that I feel are pertinent to the story lines credibility.

The characters have fairly good development but I ended up not really caring about them too much. Sad backstories just don’t get you sympathizing with them as their current behavior is mostly combative and self-centered. The only ones you like are the 10 year olds that continue to have trusting mentalities. The author used the word “muttered” over 69 times in this novel in order to expedite the scenes. This was a big fail in a novel that was not that long.

I will probably get the next in the series to see where this story-line and plot go. It has good movement coupled with scene development. The flow of the novel is pretty good. Needs a good editor that won’t blow smoke up the author’s ass about the realities of survival. Really, a 10 year old girl walking 100-200 miles while starving and sick with a mental disability. Riiiight.