Review: Journal of the Plague Year An Omnibus of Post-Apocalyptic Tales

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Publisher: Rebellion
Publishing Date: August 2014
ISBN: 9781781082461
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 2.5/5

Publisher Description: WHEN THE WORLD ENDED…
The Cull swept the world in the early years of the twenty-first century, killing billions and ending civilization as we know it. Only a fortunate few, blessed with the right blood, were spared. But in times of need, heroes rise. Leaders, soldiers, rebels – even children – take a stand, to hold back the tide of savagery and set a light in the darkness.
Journal of the Plague Year offers three new tales from across the world of The Afterblight Chronicles, from the International Space Station to the wilds of the Australian Outback and beyond.

Review: Good cover art in an Arthur C. kind of way.

This is a compilation of the three stories set during a world wide pandemic (The Cull). Definitely not dystopian.

Book one is set on a space station where they watch the world crumble from above, and ultimately have to deal with someone on station murdering other astronauts. This was a compelling story, as the characters lives are laid bare along with their emotions. A good solid read. Rating: 3.0/5

Book two follows the life of a murdering psychopath as he moves through the lives and instances of other people and their surviving groups. I thought the premise was good yet the scenes and general story-line verged on fantasy writing. Dead Kelley is made out to be some kind of killing super-hero, where all life or death scenarios, no matter how impossible, he survives. This rated about 2.2/5.

Book three begins by following two scientists fleeing a religious cult (The Order) bent on eradicating anything they deem unholy. Emil has been branded an atheist (which he is) and is set to hang until Katy Lewkowitz manages to rescue him. After a lengthy chase, The Order catches them yet are subsequently saved by, what seems at first, another cult with a slightly different agenda. While the story line and characters were engaging, some of the fight scenes were not realistic. Katy (a biochemist) faces off against a group of the cults warriors, and pretty much gets the best of them until knocked in the head from behind. During a particular scene, she rushes a couple of bad guys. Both of them seem to lack the ability to draw a firearm, or when they do, to get their gloved fingers into firing position. Really? You are post-apoc Joe-badass, and you can’t draw and shoot a firearm. Well, Katy grabs the barrel and the guy shoots his own face, and she burns and bruises her hand in the process. Searing your hand on the barrel of a firing shotgun doesn’t happen btw. There are other not too credible scenes where Katy fights off 3 assassins with a little knife, while they have guns but don’t seem to use them. Ultimately the Abbot should have tossed Emil to The Order in hopes of a temporary respite from hostilities as Emil was an argumentative, thankless turd. Still a good story-line overall. Rating” 2.3/5.

Overall average: 2.5/5

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Review: Blood Drive by Jeanne C. Stein

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Publisher: Belle Books
Publishing Date: June 2014
ISBN: 9781611944884
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.2/5

Publisher Description: My name is Anna Strong. I’m a woman caught between two worlds—my past as a bounty hunter, my present as a vampire. I do my best to hold on to what makes me human—my family, my job, my lover. But the pull of the undead is a siren song that’s becoming impossible to resist . . .

Review: There are a couple of covers that pretty much replicate a theme….Jaguar, Hot Chick with floating hair and a gun. Publishers Keepin’ er real…..

This was not too bad. I liked Ms. Strong’s character but the other characters were thinly built. Her ripply muscled boyfriend Max was a real downer as were her parents. Her shape shifting new lover was a vast improvement only because he was, well, a frickin panther. (Note to author, Panthers can swim.)
The story line, while thin, had good moments of interest when the seedier side of being a vamp was revealed. When Strong has to travel to the underbelly of Mexico to feed was a great reveal yet ends rather abruptly.
Strip most of the internal dialogue and needless descriptive elements and this work is an easy 4 stars.

Review: A Message to Deliver by Jeremiah Peters

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Publisher: Chalfont
Publishing Date: June 2014
ISBN: 9781938708503
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5

Publisher Description: Melissa is on a mission from God. With no memories of her life on Earth, she is immersed in a foreign world, far different from her home in the paradise of Heaven. As Melissa struggles to discover the intended recipient of God’s message, she simply tells everyone she meets the good news of God’s love.

Review: The cover selection crew should be fired for this one. It evokes nothing….emotion, interest…nothing.

After being bludgeoned by Michael Vorhis’ and/or his sycophants after I made a less than glowing review on Archangel and another reviewers personal attack due to a hyper inflated sense of identity (and an armored heart), I almost quit reviewing for awhile. Yet, this novel seemed to drive away the doldrums and instill a newfound sense of forgiveness.

This novel entertains the idea that events, instances and perceptions are created by our minds and that blame can never be boldly placed at the feet of someone else, despite the circumstances. The story-line weaves about the rationale whereby the justification process allows our egos to promulgate righteousness in the guise of deposing the “other” in order to shore up our sense of self. The enmity we find in others is only by our own design. Kind of a feel good moment where you can never be wrong. A limited version of this existence is mirrored in the rampant narcissism we find today. To gauge anyone’s sense of self-importance just listen to how many times they say “actually”, as it usually precedes a rebuttal to what once was a normal conversation. Melissa carries a very simple message from God that addresses the act of forgiveness and what it truly means. “God Loves you, and I forgive you”. That was the message Melissa was sent to deliver, only she changes the last part to …”and God forgives you”.

When Melissa lent forgiveness, which for us is usually an internalized process, she recognized that people are mostly unaware, that their minds/ego are the driver and that they “know not what they do”. As she forgives certain trespasses, she has diminished her mind/ego and allowed for spiritual expansion. Only, she came from heaven self-realized and slowly begins to discern that humans are infinitely fallible and wholly fragile at the same time. Her friend Todd, whom she believes she was sent here to deliver the “message” to, is easily manipulated by a demon that masquerades as a caring co-worker, consistently manipulating events to garner negative net results. Melissa’s Angel, Jonathan has an unrevealed mission yet watches over Melissa while she adjusts to Earth.

This had a simple message, simple story line and great characters. Sometimes the simplest message is just what we need to gain clarity.

Review: Archangel by Michael Vorhis

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Publisher: FreeFlight
Publishing Date: January 2011
ISBN: 9780983898504
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description: But coincidence, perhaps Fate, causes Mick Calahan to become entangled in the equally mysterious saga of strangers. And circumstances bring him unwillingly into the open, where looms his greatest fear–that his decisions might affect and destroy real lives.

Review: The cover art truly reflects what resides within.

Oh yay, reluctant hero with checkered past and a heart of gold,..time. There is evil white men and poor downtrodden natives with a hottie native temptress thrown in. And it all takes place in Buttfug, Montana. This was published back in 2011, so not sure why it is getting a new release.

So Padre Mick finds himself appointed by the Catholic Church to preside in Buttfug, only to find that the towns inhabitants are fugging weird. I mean, most people, if not all, are fugging weird but this town takes the cake. Mick finds two native boys lying in the street, unconscious and Joe Shmuck says that the first thing to learn living here is to mind your own business. Street toughs working for LUCIUS KNOX (lol) walk the town with impunity, raping and pillaging with the Sheriff’s collusion.

This read like Walking Tall, Billy Jack and Jack Reacher had a love child (see how I made a love triangle? Khul huh). Mick finds that LUCIUS KNOX is evil (duh) and is stealing Tribal land to conduct mining operations and means to eradicate Native life as we know it. His thugs walk around town beating up natives, raping native girls, hurling racial epithets and generally being dodgy all day long.
Mick’s final straw is when super racist thug, Daryl, rapes native temptress Gabriella. Blah, blah, blah Mick takes everyone down with the help of the Washokki and Tissoma tribes whom speak a Kalispel dialect.

FWIW, there is no such thing as the Washokki and Tissoma Tribes of Montana. There are no native “chapters” and corralled youth speaking in hushed Kalispel dialects. There is no Kalispel dialect (Kalispel, Spokane and Flathead speak a Salish dialect). Additionally, there are no towns with racist assholes walking around raping native girls, prostituting native girls. beating and killing native people and talking like that kid on the bridge playing banjo. There are no groups of Indians planning to kill whitey over a mining claim. There is no paying off or buying the Bureau of Indian Affairs. What this novel attains is the conjoining of two perceived disparate groups, the heavy application of race bait and culture trampling and POOF! there is your emotive content and story-line. I might be wrong about the tribes mentioned in this novel, but according to the Tribe I work for, there is the Salish-Kootenai, Crow, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Sioux and a few others in Montana.

Here is my own opinion that resides outside the bounds of this novel. ” There seems to be this weird mockery of the tired and well worn racial shtick you saw in westerns as a kid is just not applicable by modern standards. Today, some groups that see and point the racist finger where none exists or hoist their culture in hopes of claiming ascendancy over others are guilty of inciting tension and fail to understand that by their lack of awareness and entrenched identities, that they merely serve their own egos.”

I get that this is just a fictionalized story meant to make some money and possibly broker a movie deal. The novel was really built for Hollywood and not the reader.

Although I understand the spin in fiction, I think the written word can be carefully crafted to imbibe the reader with certain realities while attempting to entertain. I think the author is a good writer but the recipe was way too clichéd’.

Review: The House Of The Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey

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Publisher: Tor
Publishing Date: August 2014
ISBN: 9780765335654
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.5/5

Publisher Description: The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes. Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.

Review: Cover art is lame. Looks like the DVD cover of a bad porno…”Butt Pirates of Borneo” or “Shiver Me Timber”.

So “princess” Clarice (disguised as a man named Clarence) sets out to find her way in the world and make a living. What is weird to me, is that she cannot be a princess if she is the daughter of a Duke. She would be addressed as “Lady” were she single and then it resides in peerage depending on who she marries (Countess etc.). She eventually books passage on a suspect ship with evil officers, excepting a few. It is a short step to mutiny and the privateers life. Based on Clarice’s past, we can all assume that she is fairly pretty. It is stretching the imagination that a woman can dress up as a man, and be taken seriously as one without makeup. A corset and raspy voice would never fool anyone for long, especially in the absence of an adams apple and heavier brow. Never mind mastering a mans movements.

Princess hottie pants is eventually unmasked, and Sir Hotness Dominick loves her back, they trounce the evil witch and find treasure. The best part about this novel were the bit players and character actors in supportive roles. The main characters were kind of dull in a dimwitted way.

The mild/major detractions in this novel was the overuse of phrasing…yes phrasing where at the end of each sentence in a particular diatribe the author uses, for example, “said wryly/dryly” or “said moodily”, “said grimly”, “said mildly”, “thought waspishly”, “said quellingly” or “said repressively”. I am not even sure that ‘quellingly’ is a normative contraction of ‘quelling’.This conjunctive crap to expedite scenes can really wear on you if you let it. This author(s) must have trained at the Simon R. Green school of literature. It’s too bad really, as the novel lost a rating star because of it. There was a lot of word overuse as well. For instance murmured, growled and scowled, our old friends, were back in earnest. The author must be a star trek fan as Dr. Chapman considered changing his name to Leonard Deforrest, post mutiny, in order to hide from the law. There was also a ships mate named Geordie. Coincidence? I think not. Clarice at one point puts her hand on her saber, ready to fight. Only she uses a rapier. Sometimes it is the small details that make a difference.

Despite some writing fall downs, the plot was good and married well with the story line. The characters were interesting and the scene descriptions were vivid and well done. This was a light hearted read, not to be taken seriously. If that doesn’t bother you, you can have fun with this novel and get lost for awhile.

Review: The Door in the Mountain by Caitlin Sweet

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Publisher: ChiZine Publications
Publishing Date: October 2014
ISBN: 9781771481915
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: null

Publisher Description: The Door in the Mountain (Book 1 of a two-part series) is a place where children are marked by gods and goddesses; a place where a manipulative, bitter princess named Ariadne devises a mountain prison for her hated half-brother, where a boy named
Icarus tries, and fails, to fly, and a slave girl changes the paths of all their lives forever.

Review: Cover art is not too bad.

Sorry folks couldn’t get through this one. Almost pure situational dialogue with some fleeting torture thrown in.

Review: Jack Strong by Walter Mosley

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Publisher: Open Road
Publishing Date: July 2014
ISBN: 9781480489141
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.0/5

Publisher Description: Dreaming, Jack hears voices: a frightened child in a hospital, a woman cheating on her husband, a death row inmate. When he wakes, the voices recede, but they do not vanish. He is in a luxurious hotel room on the Vegas strip, and his body is covered in scars. Jack Strong is a patchwork man, his flesh melded together from dozens of men and women, and his mind is the same way. Countless lifetimes are contained within him: people whose lives were cut short, and who see their place in Jack as a chance to make things right.

Review: Cover art is a little too clean for the man depicted.

This is a really short Novella and is subsequently hard to rate. It was fantastic while it lasted, but a few chapters does not a novel make.

Jack Strong is kind of a pieced together, hard-boiled reincarnation of Sam Spade. The Souls in his head aid Jack with a tapestry of individual abilities. He has super strength, hardly any emotion and has a constant boner.

Jack sets about getting $600k back that he embezzled from a casino as someone else who died at the hands of his traitorous girlfriend. This amalgamated patchwork man, resurrected with thousands of voices in his head, is fascinating.

I am going to give it 4 stars as is. Which is pretty good considering the length. Perhaps there is a complete novel in the works.