Review: The Void by JD Horn

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Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date: November 2014

ISBN: 9781477825747 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.2/5

 

Publisher Description: Mercy and her husband, Peter, are happily preparing to welcome baby Colin into their lives. But their excitement quickly becomes overshadowed by a gruesome discovery: someone has scattered severed limbs throughout the city. After a troubling visit from an old foe, Mercy learns dark magic is at play, and someone—or something—wants her and her unborn child out of the picture. To uncover the shocking reason why, the amateur witch must face a force beyond her power…or risk losing everything.

 Review: This received fairly good reviews. Is this a cult of personality where author’s earlier works touched a chord within the misspent youth of lonely housewives and resulted in this maudlin hero worship? Were pillows bunched under hips in hopes that reclining comfortably would lessen the bitter disappointment? Perhaps I am being unfair, as the reviewers in review-landia commented on bludgeoning yourself with the two novels that came before in order to understand the intricacies of witches, witching, witchy-poos and flying monkeys.  How you are able to drag your bleeding eyes across pages and pages of nonsensical blather, uninteresting characters and a bloated story-line is beyond the hitch in my gait.  Reading this was like having your nails peeled off one by one.

Review: Horizon by Keith Stevenson

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Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: November 2014

ISBN: 9781460704653 

Genre:  SciFi

Rating: 2.4/5

 

Publisher Description: Thirty-four light years from Earth, the explorer ship Magellan is nearing its objective – the Iota Persei system. But when ship commander Cait Dyson wakes from deepsleep, she finds her co-pilot dead and the ship’s AI unresponsive. Cait works with the rest of her multinational crew to regain control of the ship, until they learn that Earth is facing total environmental collapse and their mission must change if humanity is to survive.

 Review: This was masterfully written. When an author can take a limp story-line and failed plot and make that dialogue engaging, it speaks volumes about his technical ability. Where this failed was in the execution of the plot. So much time was spent in-ship, dialoguing about how this person died, or what each persons political motivations were or the endless petty and juvenile interactions and subsequent responses to EVERYTHING. Everyone has  personal convictions, no doubt, but I really don’t want to read pages and pages about it when there is a bigger universe out there. So little time was spent on the SciFi aspect of the novel that it was rendered a space opera, rather than an epic “other world” alien adventure. Rather than building a novel around the character interaction, build the characters through engaging movement i.e. shorten the time spent in space/dialogue and more on Horizon.

The Earth and it’s political machinating entities and Cait’s subsequent plans to force the Compact and the UNS into collaborating/cooperating was fairly weak. If the goal of the novel was to bring this Uber awareness to societal parallels that we ourselves face (according to liberals) of a planet wasted of resources and on the brink of extinction, then this fails as a work of science fiction. I am not even sure that Horizons’ predicted outcome of inhabitability was useful, only in that it supported the plot.  

When adult characters behave like spoiled children, especially on a space ship, you would think that due to their expertise and professionalism that they would not be mired in petty jealousies and imagined slights. There would be a willingness to grasp the bigger picture of discovery and work towards supporting each other, especially in light of their dire circumstances. So much easier, and plausible, to insert a mole that creates havoc rather than have a bunch of pissy scientists dialogue f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

 

 

 

 

Review: The Griever’s Mark by Katherine Hurley

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Publisher: Katherine Hurley

Publishing Date: November 2014

ISBN: 9780692299470 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: DNF

 

Publisher Description: Before Astarti’s mother abandoned her to the deadly ocean tides, she gave her infant daughter a parting gift: a tattoo known as the Griever’s Mark, meant to carry her into death. But before the tide could claim her, the Earthmaker Belos, cast out by his people for his cruelty and for delving into forbidden magic, found and saved her. At least, that’s his story.

 

Review: Just couldn’t get through or past all the dialogue.

 

Review: After The End by Bonnie Dee

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Publisher: Bonnie Dee

Publishing Date: September 2014 (2010)

ISBN: 9781452447261 

Genre: Fantasy/SciFi

Rating: 2.6/5

 Publisher Description: Zombies are on the loose and the world comes unraveled. A group of strangers on a Manhattan subway are brought together in the name of survival following the lead of Ari Brenner, a young man who represents authority because of his army uniform. Even though Ari doesn’t feel worthy of their trust, he steps up during the crisis as he’s been trained to do. 

Review: Cover art is trippin’ balls.

This was a pretty solid read. The writing was really well done yet the editing for spelling and grammatical, not so good. This was written by an author known for her romance novels aka: frustrated housewife syndrome. The plot involves a kind of “Escape From New York” themed process where a group of people are trying to survive and escape the city island that is covered in zombies. 

One reviewer commented that the characters were comprised of the usual zombie fare of : reluctant hero, love interest/care girl, geek, feisty old woman, Dr. Dude, macho guy and lesbian couple. Pretty spot on with quite a few post-apoc genre novels. Ari and Lila spend a lot of time thinking about doing each other. I don’t know if I would be thinking about banging chicks/dudes if zombies were eating faces around me and every second was spent in the adrenal glands. One of the biggest suspensions of belief came in the form of Quantum lab tech dude, Carl, who happens to have been working on the virus serum (which caused the zombie outbreak). The quest soon becomes one of escape and delivering the data on a hard drive. 

During what was a good story, there were a plethora of scenes where either Lila’s stomach/loins are doing little flips or she is blushing when she checks out Ari. Ari gets a chubby whenever he’s around her and likewise has somersaulting acrobats in his belly. I get that the author is primarily a romance writer, yet romance at the level presented has no place in post-apoc zombie novels.  Maybe a little groping with some quick sex to feel as though they are alive and human but not this drawn out little gurl crushing/boy fumbling. I still had a good time reading this yet it lost a star for the inappropriate mush content and a lack of resolution to the ending.

Review: Gods and Monsters: Mythbreaker by Stephen Blackmoore

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Publisher: Rebellion

Publishing Date: December 2014

ISBN: 9781781082553 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.8/5

 

Publisher Description: Growing up an orphan, Louie had conversations with “invisible friends,” could see patterns in the world that no one else could see. In other times he would have been a prophet – someone to make people believe in the gods. But he grew out of the visions, and then into crime as a drug runner.   Now thirty-five and burnt out, he’s had enough. With access to the mob’s money, he plans to go out in a big way. Only he can’t. A broken down car, a missed flight; it’s bad enough being hunted by the mob, but the gods – kicked out of the Heavens, stuck on Earth without worshippers – need someone who can tell their stories, and they aren’t letting him go. 

 Review: I don’t know who this “Louie” person is in the publisher description but the main character was always referred to as “Fitz”.  The cover, combined with the description, lends the main character a sense of anti-hero/reluctant hero mien with a sense of direction. What we really have is an embezzling coward junkie that does everything he can to avoid interacting with the Gods. The only reason that he persists in the story line is that all the Gods are hunting him.

This was a whole lotta fun to read. The novel is packed with humor and sarcastic wit, even in the face of death and destruction. Amanda, Fitz’s companion, is deus x machina in this novel. Just when you think Fitz is totally screwed, Amanda of the Internet is there to save or whisk him away to a safe house. This would usually tend to annoy me but it works as the places are woven into the overall plot. The Gods represented are at once scary and hypnotically funny. The characters are well built around an interesting story line with incredible movement. Get this and have fun.

 

 

Review: Martyr by A.R. Kahler

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Publisher: Spencer Hill

Publishing Date: October 2014

ISBN: 9781939392220 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5

 

Publisher Description: Three years have passed since magic destroyed the world.
Those who remain struggle to survive the monsters roaming the streets, fighting back with steel and magic—the very weapons that birthed the Howls in the first place.
Tenn is one such Hunter, a boy with the ability to harness the elements through ancient runes. For years, the Hunters have used this magic to keep the monsters at bay, but it’s never been enough to truly win the war. Humans are losing.  When Tenn falls prey to an incubus named Tomás and his terrifying Kin, Tenn learns there’s more to this than a fight for survival. He’s a pawn in a bigger game, one with devastating consequences. If he doesn’t play his part, it could cost him his life, his lover and his world. 

 Review:  Tenn is Speshul. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is about Tenn. How Tenn is feeling, what Tenn is doing etc. Additionally, in order to answer the “who and what” is impossible unless you’re everyone else but Tenn. In Tenn’s quest to find, er…search for…himself, he and his little band of kids fight all kinds of evil thingies while conveniently finding refuge in parallel worlds and a forest full of douches witches.

Usually in fantasy quest type novels there is a specific thing (amulet, stones etc.) or a specific place (The Hobbit adventures etc.) that the characters seek to find. This makes the quest tangible (goal oriented) while building the characters in transit. It also creates a menagerie of possibilities that tend to be more linear. In Martyr, events occur in random fashion. There is no linear progression (point A to B to C to A) that involves the reader. When there are random situational events in terms of scene progression, it is hard to build empathy for the characters as they tend to languish in their own emotions. The reason for this is that dialogue is used in place of movement to develop the characters. So Tenn becomes myopic and self-absorbed with reams of inner dialogue while external characters are used to bolster that development with faith/sympathy. Ultimately, Tenn develops into a whiney character that is in constant dis-belief about his entire situation. He also clearly exhibits this stunted sense of self awareness.  Every scene drags as there is never any sense of “becoming”, only more negative introspection.

I thought that this was a great story line and good writing. It just got mired in dialogue in order to develop the characters and lacked progression in terms of movement. I can understand why one reviewer gave this a DNF. At times it was hard to wade through. Even when the scene started clipping along and you found new interest…boom, the character would all of a sudden lose consciousness or find himself struggling with dreams or containing his water power or crying for his lost love or self-recriminations and guilt or………..Anyway, this might still be a great series (if it goes in that direction) and the characters evolve with the story line.

 

The Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

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Publisher: Pocket Star

Publishing Date: January 2015

ISBN: 9781476778679

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.2/5

 

Publisher Description: Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

 

Review: I was pleasantly surprised by this work. I really liked the character development in this novel. From the vampires to shape shifting dragons. Owl is really fun to move through the story-line with. She has this pervasive sense of disaster about her that quickly involves you in the plot. Even her co-characters think she is a disaster waiting to happen. Owl has big relationship/people communication issues and when she finally  gets around to dropping her pants for her love interest, ex-mercenary Rynn, she is still conflicted about her emotional commitment. 

Some fall downs were in scenes where the character interaction did not marry with the action presented. Lengthy dialogue between characters when in life and death situations is not believable.  Rather minor in impact but persistent throughout.  I think that the action superseded the cogent development of scene progression where gaps in logic were apparent.  Also, there are a lot of grammatical and spelling errors.

You have to accept that a large part of the novel is fairly myopic with regard to Owl and her adventure. At times it verges on the narcissistic yet manages to bring in other characters to offset  her state of self-centeredness’. If you like a character that never plans and falls first into action without regard for herself while barely escaping with her life, then this is for you.  A series to look forward to that I wouldn’t hesitate picking up.