Review: Dukkha Unloaded by Loren W. Christensen

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Publisher: YMAA
Publishing Date: June 2014
ISBN: 9781594392832
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 1.7/5

Publisher Description: Detective Sam Reeves is barely seated in a cab when he learns that during his two-week trip in Southeast Asia, hate crimes have rocked his city of Portland, including one very brutal lynching. As the crimes continue, thousands of fearful protestors march the streets, clashing with police and demanding more be done to put an end to the escalating violence!

Review: Nice cover art, although the caliber bullets don’t look like they belong to that gun.

Honestly, I had a hard time finishing this novel due to the lengthy dialogue that took up more than 2/3 of the novel. Blah, blah, blah race this, hate crime that and poor bully stories. All tendered to generate some kind of emotional angst and self-righteous indignation in the reader. Only it doesn’t. Rather than draw you into the characters and story-line, you’re left with a tired rendition of hate that has been overplayed. This constant pummeling of the race card, which is myriad in this novel, doesn’t move you as it should. It is a blame based conflagration with no real sentiment other than vengeful pride.

I get that in order to sell books you have to put yourself out there. The “I am a martial artist so I know” is anathema to the art. This is, IMHO, is an Americanized perspective on martial arts which is largely ego driven. There are a lot of writers out there that preface their work with being an expert martial artist much to their detriment. My advice is to just write.

The writing is good yet the characters are thinly developed and lack depth. The story-line is just tired and suffers from over-abuse. Characters really come to life when movement (action) is coupled with character discovery. The stresses of the action reveals the character under pressure and subsequently the reader is immersed. Pure dialogue doesn’t evoke or pull emotions from the reader. Pure dialogue leaves the reader flat.

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Review: Shadow Memories by Nicholas Erik

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Publisher: Tinderboxed Press
Publishing Date: September 2014
ISBN: 9781940708331
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 4.5/5

Publisher Description: Kurt Desmond and Cassie Atwood are private investigators in the ramshackle town of Seaside Heights. It isn’t quite the California pictured on the brochures, but the pair manage to eek out a living chasing down stray dogs, errant husbands and other small game. Life is peaceful, if boring – until a strange man comes to town, asking the pair if they can track down an ancient cave drawing. With an offer of forty grand dangling in front of them, Kurt and Cassie take the job.

Review: That cover art is just awful. Some kind of 35mm moiré’ nightmare.

This novel was a really fun read. Full of acerbic wit, comedic sarcasm and engaging characters. Kurt has this funny take on life that is constantly at the forefront of every scene. His glib internalizations ride shotgun to his outer expressions. This novel had great movement and an engaging story-line.

This work was a mystery/thriller until aliens were introduced. Cassie, Kurt’s live in GF is a tough gal with a lot of secrets, including banging rich millionaires. She is one of the guardians, a group working for the aliens and against the machinations of “The Singularity”. The ending is really just the beginning of this story and I can’t wait for the continuance.

A short read for sure, but turn the pages slowly so you can savor it.

Review: Silvern by Christina Farley

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Publisher: Skyscape
Publishing Date: September 2014
ISBN: 9781477820353
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.4/5

Publisher Description: Jae Hwa Lee is ready to forget about immortals and move on with her life. Until the god of darkness, Kud, sends an assassin to kill her. She escapes with the knowledge that Kud is seeking the lost White Tiger Orb, and joins the Guardians of Shinshi to seek out the orb before Kud can find it. But Kud is a stronger and more devious god than Jae ever imagined. Jae is soon painfully reminded that by making an enemy of Kud, she has placed her closest friends in danger, and must decide how much she can bear to sacrifice to defeat one of the most powerful immortals in all of Korea.

Review: Cover art is trippin’.

This was made for the YA crowd, so I will attempt to keep that in mind during this review. Jae Hwa Lee is a whiner. There is no easier way to put it. She whines and cries about everything. If she is not indignant about people making choices for her, or her boyfriend being too clingy, then she is whining or crying. She cries constantly about her aunt and whines about being too sore or having no energy. She is always falling into the arms of her protector, the Prince of Douche Baggery..Marc. Marc is a constantly worried and clingy boyfriend whom will drive you bat shit crazy in about 20 pages. But, Jae always sees the “TWINKLE IN HIS GREEN EYES” or the beating of his heart through his muscular chest. Fug.

So we have three sixteen year olds, battling super evil, looking for a creation Orb and generally saving the world from destruction. Yeeeeah. Of course our little band of intrepid hormones experience near death at the hands of bad thingies, but Jae’s kung Fu is better than yours, so suck it. There is burgeoning WUV triangle, but Jae quickly gets over it because Marc is so hunky and attentive and the other dude is pure evil. Do you hear my inner scream?

This is a really long novel that you literally have to have Triathlete type endurance to get through to the finish. And the ending is just another interlude to the next in this series. NO RESOLUTION FOR YOU!

Review: Immortal at the Edge of the World by Gene Doucette

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Publisher: Writers Coffee Shop
Publishing Date: October 2014
ISBN: 9781612132754
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5

Publisher Description: In his very long life, Adam had encountered only one person who seems to share his longevity: the mysterious red-haired woman. She appears throughout history, usually from a distance, nearly always vanishing before he could speak to her.

Review: This is the third in the Immortal trilogy. These publishers are weird. They turned me down for the first two books in the series but approved the third one. Cover art is really good.

This is a story of a glib and somewhat sarcastic journey of an immortal. It was really quite funny and entertaining. The historical perspectives are funny and interesting as told from a person who lived through these times. There are goblins, Satyr’s, pixies, vampires, ifrit’s, djinn’s and elves that Adam has interacted with over the millennia. Ultimately, the forces of not so good are out to obtain the secret of immortality and the ability to transport to parallel worlds.

The most engaging aspects of this novel were Adam’s past, especially when he travels with Hsu to find the astrolabe. It takes place in exotic countries coupled with an engaging story-line and interesting characters. While everyone around Adam has supernatural ability, Adam has very little. Surprising for one that has been around for 60k years. The only real fall down in this novel, known as the “know-it-alls crutch”, was the use of the word “Actually”. Used a record 111 times.

Get this, have fun and don’t think too hard.

Review: Doomsday Kids #2: Nester’s Mistake

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Publisher: K Squared
Publishing Date: September 1, 2014
ISBN: 9780692261034
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3.2/5

Publisher Description: Inexperienced with firearms and conflicted about killing people, Nester struggles with whether there’s a place for compassion in a world without laws or authority. Then, as nuclear winter sweeps over their mountain home killing crops and animals, a medical emergency threatens one of their number. Nester must make a desperate choice that shatters their little community and irrevocably alters their chances for survival.

Review: I guess that’s Nester on the cover. In the novel he supposedly is bald with broken glasses and looks like a blind naked mole rat.

All or most of the Doomsday kids have arrived at the promised land….Liam’s cabin in the mountains, where life quickly devolves into the Lord of the Flies. There is a constant inter-play of petty jealousy and angst ridden recriminations that thread through daily challenges. Kids and animals are dying of radiation poisoning and live under constant threat from outsiders. The author does a great job creating this myopic world of malaise where constant fear drives the juvenile mind in all sorts of directions.

Back in the 60-70’s I grew up with an M.D. as a father whom was way before his time in terms of being a prepper. Reloading room, organic garden, medical supplies etc. In the landscape of TEOTWAWKI guns and ammo are rare commodities with ammo worth its weight in gold. In order to give a post-apocalyptic novel some credibility, writers have to infuse a knowledgeable sense of firearms/calibers and their use. Like the first novel, this one was pretty thin in that area. Shotgun blasts don’t “zing” off metal and young kids like Amy are not shooting champions especially without any specifics given. Other critical details like; what are the bullets in the bandoliers?, what are the guns?, what are the calibers? I am sure Liam’s dad taught Katie and Marty something?? These details help to build a credible story-line and were sadly non-existent.

When the reader cares enough about a novel to read any subsequent novels in the series, I think the author should spend the time getting every facet correct, as this shows that they care for their works as well. This novel really needed a good editor as there were quite a few grammatical errors.

The great thing about TEOTWAWKI is that no one really knows what will happen to society after a myriad of events that could occur. That leaves this particular genre wide open in terms of creative license. As long as the writing is good (which it was) you can take this story line/plot anywhere. There will always be someone who disagrees with future outcomes and that’s ok as long as the story line maintains a credible foundation. I initially scored this pretty high but the grammatical errors and weak firearm portions brought it down.

Review: It Waits Below by Eric Red

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Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publishing Date: September 2014
ISBN: 9781619220706
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 2.7/5

Publisher Description: It waits no more!
In the 1800s, an asteroid carrying an extraterrestrial life form crashed to earth and
sunk a Spanish treasure ship. Now, a trio of salvage experts dives a three-man sub to the
deepest part of the ocean to recover the sunken gold. There, they confront a nightmarish
alien organism beyond comprehension, which has waited for over a century to get to the
surface. It finally has its chance. As their support ship on the surface is ambushed by deadly modern-day pirates, the crew of the stranded sub battles for their very lives against a monster no one on Earth has seen before.

Review: This novel was written in a style that begged for a movie deal. To me, underwater action and the images invoked are just kind of ho-hum. This novel only got really good at about the 80% mark where the alien beast rises to the surface in hunt of one woman that destroyed most of its hive in the depths. Yawn. It is the old shtick “Ellen Ripley battles Alien while everyone around her dies”. At one point we come to the culminating battle between the alien and Clark, and much like Ripley in “Alien”, Clark screams “GET THE FUCK OFF MY PLANET!”, before blowing it away. Double yawn.

This is an ok read. The characters interactions also read like a movie script where emotions are laid bare, especially cowardice, and you know right away they are dead because redemption arrives in the form of martyrdom. Look for it this summer in a theater near you!

Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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Publisher: Hodder
Publishing Date:
ISBN: 9781444758993
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 4.9/5

Publisher Description: The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope. Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Review: Love the cover art.

This novel was pure awesomeness. Darrow is a Low Red (lowest Class) and perform most of the work that supports society. Society is made up of super enhanced humans with a Caligula/Caesar type bent, where power supersedes everything, including love. This novel had it all. Martyrs, psychopaths, hi-tech, low-tech, great movement, fantastic character development and a plot that I hope continues in subsequent novels. Some reviewers call this a dystopian society or an “anti-utopian” society. I think that depends on your perspective. If your anything but a “Red” life aint too shabby.

As with most reviews on well written works, there is not a lot to say. This novel was entrancing and gets my highest rating to date. I look forward to this authors burgeoning world.