Review: The Time Roads by Beth Bernobich

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Publisher: Tor
Publishing Date: October 2014
ISBN: 9780765331250
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 1/5.0

Publisher Description: Éire is one of the most powerful empires in the world. The Anglian Dependencies are a dusty backwater filled with resentful colonial subjects, Europe is a disjointed mess, and many look to Éire for stability and peace. In a series of braided stories, Beth Bernobich has created a tale about the brilliant Éireann scientists who have already bent the laws of nature for Man’s benefit. And who now are striving to conquer the nature of time.

Review: How does the cover relate to Dr. Breandan O Cuilinn? Breandan was a young dude.

Reviewers (all three of them) had this one at 5 stars or 1-2 stars. Seems that the low ratings were due to plot shifts and story-line progressions that didn’t make sense. The bit characters were thinly developed and the main characters, Queenie and Aidrean Ó Deághaidh were built fairly one dimensionally… ” I want. I feel. I am mad. I don’t feel like it. I am horny.” etc. You never really get to know reactive characters as the movement is separated from revealing their inner emotions when placed under stress. For instance, Queenie gets shot and throws up on herself, then ends up sequestered. There is no plight or fight with another, whether foe or friend in this instance. If she is alone in her pain, build on that instance to mold and develop a different person. Perhaps she becomes Super Bitch Queenie and starts lopping off heads and takes the fight to those who would see her unseated.
Sadly this receives a DNF, mainly due to the lengthy dialogue that IMO was not needed.

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Review: Dragons on the Sea of Night by Eric Van Lustbader

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Publisher: Open road
Publishing Date: August 2014
ISBN: 9781497654945
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.7/5

Publisher Description: he was but a man named Ronin. Trained as a swordsman, endowed with breathtaking skill, he was not destined merely to live and then die in a doomed city beneath a frozen world. Many years have passed since he first ventured into the void. Now he possesses powers beyond all imagining—godlike abilities both marvelous and terrible. Now he is revered and feared as savior and avenger, the tamer of monstrous beasts, the destroyer of the dark angel of Chaos—and dearly loved by his devoted bond-brother, Moichi Annai-Nin, and the beautiful, enigmatic, and lethal Chiisai. Now he is Dai-San, the Sunset Warrior.

Review: Having read The Sunset Warrior and not been too excited about this series, I decided to take a chance on “Dragons on the Sea of Night”. My issues with Sunset Warrior were many yet was very surprised how good this installment was. Gone was the confusing story-line, inexplicable plot twists and unappealing characters. This had great story-line progression, characters with great depth and really good scene development. It is almost like another person wrote this novel.

The magic is not over the top and coupled with Moichi and Sardonyx traveling far and wide it makes for an interesting and enjoyable read. There is a bit of info dumping at the end, almost like the author wanted to conclude this installment because he had a publishing deadline. Bjork the Bear was a good character that might have had a better and longer run in this novel. The Dai-San really doesn’t make too many appearances throughout the novel and isn’t too integral to the plot until the end. This is mostly about Moichi and Chiisai’s ultimate destinies intertwined with Chaos.

Review: The Distance by Helen Giltrow

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Publisher: Doubleday
Publishing Date: September 2014
ISBN: 9780385537001
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description: Charlotte Alton is an elegant socialite. But behind the locked doors of her sleek, high-security apartment in London’s Docklands, she becomes Karla. Karla’s business is information. Specifically, making it disappear. She’s the unseen figure who, for a commanding price, will cover a criminal’s tracks. A perfectionist, she’s only made one slip in her career—several years ago she revealed her face to a man named Simon Johanssen, an ex-special forces sniper turned killer-for-hire. After a mob hit went horrifically wrong, Johanssen needed to disappear, and Karla helped him. He became a regular client, and then, one day, she stepped out of the shadows for reasons unclear to even herself. Now, after a long absence, Johanssen has resurfaced with a job, and he needs Karla’s help again.

Review: Cover art sux. The side of a car and half a redhead’s face?

(zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)…WHA? Oh yeah review time. If you read the reviews on this novel, you would think that it is up for the Nebula/PKD/Edgar/Hugo/Nobel award(s). For instance the accolades read like the author’s that pay Kirkus. “Expertly done!”. “An incredible debut!”. What was funny was one reviewer stated plainly that she didn’t like it but gave it 5 stars.

This was a really boring novel. From the story-line to the characters. So much time is spent on a dreary story-line and insipid dialogue that the characters are never fully developed. The premise that there is some hidden lockup facility is absurd and that anyone would entertain getting someone in to kill a woman that may or may not exist and then extracting said killer from an impenetrable shell is laughable. Then there is this “shadowy” organization that Charlotte works for. Really? Shadow-kee-dee-boom-boom. Why the cloak and dagger? Who gives a shjt? Charlotte needs to determine if this is a legitimate assassination as the mark may or may not exist. Wouldn’t you figure that out before you took the job? What is a legitimate assassination anyway? That’s like an having an optimal enema or a refreshing prostate exam. The scene descriptions are exhaustive. For instance Karla is going to bust into an office complex and this soon turns into a chapter on what every frickin’ office looks like. From the copiers to a glazed bookcase then back to another office. How is this suspenseful?

I feel like the red-headed step kid who gets picked last for sand lot games. While everyone in review-land raves and praises this work, I feel that maybe I should have read this with more alacrity and focused discernment on the hidden emotive climes that existed within and between the characters as they groped in an endless sea of dark, machinating and tentacled agendas…BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Review: The Sword Of Michael by Marcus Wynne

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Publisher: Baen
Publishing Date: November 2014
ISBN: 9781476736891
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.0/5

Publisher Description: Marius Winter doesn’t walk the road of the shaman-warrior alone. He has powerful allies in the Other Realms and in ordinary reality. His spirit guides are a Lakota war-chief and medicine man, First In Front; Tigre, a powerful feminine spirit who appears as a white tiger; and Burt, a spirit raven who channels an old Jewish bookie from the Bronx.

Review: I read this author a long time ago, I think it was one of his first novels. I sent him an email at the time, wishing him luck and grafting kudos on a fine novel. He politely told me that my ideas for furthering his first novel into a series was stupid. Then he comes out with another Dale Miller novel. What a Dick move. This is a bizarre departure from the militaristic suspense novel that I recall. It is this melange’ of ribald, tongue n’cheek fantasy with little kernals of life wisdom strewn within. There is the penchant for subtle mockery for most things/events in pop culture. This dry wit (sarcasm) is channeled through the various characters.

Marius is a dichotomous douche. He’s a shaman that channels God’s minions and can give any USPSA action shooter a run for their money while gazing into the eyes of the hottest chick on earth which happens to be his GF. He likes beer and incense, guns and meditation in no particular order. His best friends are spirit guides, Archangels, a Nazi in a spaceship and a thieving gun runner, Dillon Reloading (lol).

There were only a few minor fall downs. All the chicks are hot, Marius is never really in deep shjt (just his friends), Daniel Defense uppers are ok, but I would have gone with a Larue, SRV is/was the best R&B guitarist ever (not Electric rock guitar) and instead of a Dawson precision +5 base pad why not just get the stock Glock 33 round magazine? Not sure if I would have used a wheel gun either, but there is a practical and reliable side to all things that go bang . Dillon uses quite a bit of ammo that is custom reloads. Why? The only reason I can think of is to save money and reduce your power factor for controlled recoil. But still you have to deal with it. When I talked to Robbie Leatham (The Great One) about reloads he said ” I hate reloading. I shoot all factory ammo which runs about 180-190+ power factor”. (165 power factor is the cutoff for USPSA major/limited class).

This novel seemed to take some effort in pulling all this wildly disparate information into a cogent whole and coalescing it into a sustainable, thought provoking and entertaining novel. There is really quite a bit going on and rather than being a creative mind-dump, the novel is fairly succinct and logical….logical in the sense that there is a plot that involves demi-demons and demons whom are out to kill you while your GF’s soul is held hostage in hell.

Review: Enzan The Far Mountain by John Donohue

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Publisher: YMMAA Publication Center
Publishing Date: July 2014
ISBN: 9781594392818
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 4.2/5

Publisher Description: The Plot:
Chie Miyazaki is wild and spoiled—the pampered child of a cadet line of the imperial House of Japan. When she disappears in the United States accompanied by a slick Korean boyfriend, it sets off alarm bells among people in Japan’s security apparatus.

Review: Nice calming cover art…..

I really enjoyed the various characters within this novel. The author did a really good job in developing even the bit players. This is my first foray into this author’s work as I tend to avoid fiction with a martial arts theme. Usually the fight scenes are unrealistic or the hero is this indefatigable/unstoppable force that can break you with a glance etc. From experience (Shodan Isshinryu) I can fully relate to the dojo life with all the physical pain, fleeting insights and commraderie that barely describes a life long experience. The author touches on these experiences and brings them to life through Connor, albeit with a sometimes metaphysical twist.

At one point in the story, Mori’s journal is given to Yamashita and we discover the truths of Yamashita’s past life. The voice used in the journal iterates a story to Yamashita. Why tell someone a story of their life unless the intent is for the benefit of a different reader? The story should have been a past account by Mori in the first person and not a direct dialogue with Yamashita.

The Enzan or warning to keep focus on important things, to not be distracted seems to me contradictory. The author speaks of ego and a mindless state or being in the moment yet Connor embraces the idea of Enzan and says that it is easier said than done.

I like that Connor gets abducted and the crap beat out him. He is a man that knows his limitations and is wholly fallible and human. Too often we seem to reach our pinnacles of achievement and progress no further, only protecting the fragile ego in the process. The author reveals these contradictions where the choice to do martial arts, for instance, implies ego yet the practice of martial arts is the implementation and/or attainment of a mindless state. I think there is both. The mind, as long as it does not become your complete identity and you are AWARE of those limitations, specifically that you are not your mind, then it is used as it should be, as a tool. The idea, that in our formative society that we can become ascethitc hermits vying for enlightenment is ridiculous. We interact, we think, we do. This begets use of the mind. Yet the ability to embrace an awareness of who you really are while working through the minds endless limitations is a poignant daily exercise.

I had a good time reading this novel. I identified with a large part of this novel, but others that do not have that background will find the authors writing talent/creativeness more than compensates in other subject areas within the novel.

Review: Nexus by Nicolas Wilson

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Publisher: Victory
Publishing Date: july 2014
ISBN: 9781301673568
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 1.0/5

Publisher Description: Captain Anderson Grant of the corporate starship Nexus boldly explores alien worlds (and occasionally the alien women, too). Grant and his crew struggle with the company’s version of manifest destiny, as well as its attempt to coerce them into military force. They begin to question whether the largest threat to their mission and their safety will come from outside the Nexus or from the company that respects them more for their genetic possibilities than their individuality.

Review: Cover art is really bad.

The reason I did not finish this novel was mainly due to the endless dialogue between characters and the lengthy explanations tethered to the dialogue in order to get the reader up to speed. Rather than have the story-line unfold through the process of movement, you get bludgeoned with informational dialogue.

There is this paradigm where one moment you have Mr. Captain Swashbuckling womanizer to Captain Rules and Procedures. It is constantly alluded to that Captain Cod Piece bangs more chicks than Captain Kirk, but is found languishing in a bar, drunk as shjt and crying for a lost love. As the story unfolds you find that the crew are pretty much indentured servants, then all of a sudden you get the space opera vibe. Very schizophrenic. There was also this smug, “yuckity yuckity yuk”, backslapping camaraderie that tended to grind.

Sorry this one is a pass, mainly for the length tied to the dialogue I could not endure.

Review: The Stone of Valhalla by Mikey Brooks

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Publisher: All Night Reads
Publishing Date: July 2014
ISBN: 9781939993281
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.8/5

Publisher Description: Breaking into an old lady’s basement was supposed to reward Aaron with new friends. Instead he finds an enchanted amulet that transports him to another world—one at war with magic. Before he knows it, he is accused of witchcraft and invited to a bonfire—where he’s the main attraction. If that’s not bad enough, a goblin army shows up and toasts the town…literally.

Review: Cover art is weak.

This was a novel built for children but adults will find the story-line, characters and movement to their liking.

Aaron goes from stealing a baseball card, finding a magical necklace and being transported to an alternate universe with Goblins, trolls and magic. He makes new friends, loses a friend, gains a friend back and has difficulty understanding adult motivations.

The story-line was fairly cliche’ (insecure shy boy saves universe from evil and gains in self-esteem) yet the author makes it work with solid and original character development. A fun read.