Review: Empire by John Connolly, Jennifer Ridyard

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Publisher: Atria

Publishing Date: February 2015

ISBN: 9781476757155 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.2/5

Publisher Description: Empire continues the journey of Syl and Paul as they fight to regain planet Earth from a ruthless alien species, in this next installment of a stunning new science fiction trilogy that “should not to be missed” (The Guardian).

Review: Syl is now residing with the sisterhood while seeking answers about an alien parasite that may infest the Illyri.  While the other gifted sisters develop their powers, Syl does so in secret, in order to hide her immense psychic ability. Meanwhile, her human love, Paul, is out there blasting space aliens light years away and generally being a swashbuckling mercenary and all that.

I didn’t want to like this novel, at all. Why? It started with a hiccup where the broad history of the Illyri is recounted along with humanities struggle under their yoke and the résistance therein. Also there is some stilted dialogue here and there, coupled with gurl cliques and constant shaming. Then this novel just takes off with great movement and unexpected turns. There are great alien life forms and the planets that house them. Mechanized androids (Mechs) that are self-aware that believe in a Creator. There is also an ancient race whose only mark of existence are the scattered and aging remains of monuments spread throughout the galaxies. New story line developments occur at a consistent clip as each scene shifts. Wormholes enable the story-line to move in fascinating directions with characters that continue to develop as new ones are added.  Really, a fantastic and entertaining read.

 

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Review: Catalain The Book of Secrets by Jessica Lourey

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Publisher: Toadhouse

Publishing Date: January 2015

ISBN:  9780990834212 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.5/5

Publisher Description: Ursula Catalain, current keeper of the Book of Secrets, is content to concoct spells in her garden cottage until the ghost of the man she murdered when she was 12 appears at her door in a new form. His return pulls Jasmine, Ursula’s daughter, back into the fold. Once believed to be the most powerful of the Catalains, she foreswore her gift years before to bury a shameful secret. The ghost of the murdered man also calls home Katrine, Jasmine’s sister, who has been banished for fourteen years. Finally able to return to Faith Falls and the beloved Queen Anne, Katrine must claim her true Catalain power to save her mother and sister from the dark family curse.

Review: This really wasn’t a book built for logical and cogent people that operate in the real world. I guess that’s why we have escapist fiction. This novel really didn’t transport my imagination anywhere. It was at once pedantic, verbose and filled with internal ruminations. Much like a cow chewing endlessly while standing in a field, this novel encompassed the realities and past experiences of three very boring people. 

Most of this novel reads like a journal diary or an expository oration where the characters are just there to educate and inform the reader. There is some man crushing by one of the witch girls which flattens the story line even more. I have read this story numerous times in all its clichéd’ inventions. From Accession to the Witches of Eastwick only this iteration is neither creative nor riveting. A very good writer with a bad idea.

 

Review: The Commons by Michael Alan Peck

 

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Publisher: Michael Alan Peck

Publishing Date: June 2014

ISBN: 9780986082313

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.9/5

Publisher Description: Paul Reid died in the snow at seventeen. The day of his death, he told a lie–and for the rest of his life, he wondered if that was what killed him.”

And so begins the battle for the afterlife, known as The Commons. It’s been taken over by a corporate raider who uses the energy of its souls to maintain his brutal control. The result is an imaginary landscape of a broken America-stuck in time and overrun by the heroes, monsters, dreams, and nightmares of the imprisoned dead. Three people board a bus to nowhere: a New York street kid, an Iraq War veteran, and her five-year-old special-needs son. After a horrific accident, they are the last, best hope for The Commons to free itself. Along for the ride are a shotgun-toting goth girl, a six-foot-six mummy, a mute Shaolin monk with anger-management issues, and the only guide left to lead them. Three Journeys: separate but joined. One mission: to save forever. But first they have to save themselves.

Review: This was an amazing read. Each character rivets you to the story-line with complimentary movement that enfolds the plot development. Paul finds himself transported away from a bus crash by a strange man when black suited commandos begin to bludgeon what seem like crash survivors. People that he had passing interactions with on the bus are not so lucky. They are captured, and placed in working servitude to Mr. Brill. 

The creative imaginations are really good. Mr. Brill’s golem is fantastic. Made from the essence of souls, it is relentless in its pursuit of Paul who has become somewhat of an ignorant prophet (one of the 36). Ken the mummy along with Po (Kenpo haha) and Rain are a great supporting cast that offer disparate if not challenging world views and personal laments.  Every scene is like opening up a Christmas present. Its that good. Get it. NOW!

 

 

Review: For We Are Many by Stuart Thaman

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Publisher: Hydra

Publishing Date: August 2014

ISBN: 9780996086769 

Genre: Mystery/ Thriller

Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description: No one believes Fletcher Lee when he says he sees someone lurking in the shadows. Removed from his middle school for frightening the other children, 13 year old Fletcher is forced into psychotherapy where his visions are believed to be the result of a traumatic childhood experience. Pressured into reliving his worst nightmares, Fletcher’s torments grow until they can no longer be written off as mere hallucinations.

When Fletcher’s state deteriorates to the point of causing harm to his psychologist, Dr.Kendrick turns away from conventional medicine and discovers a much more troubling, supernatural answer. Without enough time to rescue Fletcher, Dr. Kendrick must make a choice: is she strong enough to risk her soul to find him?

Review:  This was a pretty long and drawn out story line that wasn’t all that interesting to me. The characters were very one dimensional and were given to stilted dialogue. The movement is fairly well done yet seems separate from the character development. There are instances of clarity when the “group” are in the void/purgatory/whatever and must confront their past choices/lives. The ending is abrupt and rather pointed in that you don’t really know if the priest is evil and why Fletcher’s church bus is being wrecked/attacked. Cue sequel. Overall….. meh.

 

Review: Test Of Magnitude by Andy Kasch

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Publisher: Andy Kasch

Publishing Date: September 2014

ISBN: 9781492761785 

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.8/5

Publisher Description: Welcome to the Tora star system, home of the spectacular Cardinal-4 space station overlooking Amulen and Banor, twin worlds that share the same orbit. One visit and you’ll understand why this station is the pinnacle of Torian achievement and a wonder of the Erobian Sphere. Brandon Foss, an unhappily married Virginian in his early thirties, awakes from a strange dream to discover he has been abducted from Earth and kept in cryonic preservation on Amulen for two decades. One other resuscitated human is with him, a knucklehead who almost seems as alien to Brandon as their reptilian captors. A friendship of convenience forms as the two Earthlings soon become unwittingly intertwined in Torian politics and military affairs–at a time, it turns out, when the Torians desperately need just such intertwining. 

Review: Are you fugging kidding me? This was so good I almost cried when it ended. I hate the author for making such a fantastic Scifi novel that I yearn for the next installment.  The only thing lacking was some alien on human “relations” which is always good for the show.  There are sequels titled  Flash Move and then Test of Fortitude.

 

 

Review: Strands of Sorrow by John Ringo

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Publisher: Baen

Publishing Date: January 2015

ISBN: 9781476736952 

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.0/5

Publisher Description: With the world consumed by a devastating plague that drives humans violently insane, what was once a band of desperate survivors bobbing on a dark Atlantic ocean has now become Wolf Squadron, the only hope for the salvation of the human race. Banding together with what remains of the U.S. Navy, Wolf Squadron, and its leader Steve Smith, not only plans to survive—he plans to retake the mainland from the infected, starting with North America.

Smith’s teenage daughters have become zombie hunters of unparalleled skill, both at land and on the sea, and they may hold the key to the rebirth of civilization on a devastated planet.

Review: 13 year old girl Marine second lieutenant zombie killer, check. 15 year old girl helicopter pilot, zombie killer, check.  Pink Abrahams tank, check.  Yah the shtick never leaves this series of novels. What surprised me in this installment was the lack of action and the MOUNTAIN of dialogue. If you are into how the military works, coordinates, plans and fights, then this is for you. The military naming conventions are numerous and infuse just about every page.

The novel only gets interesting at about the 90% mark where the sisters go in search of VPOTUS. I really liked that the author is starting to get his firearms shjt together, except for the dumb Saiga and I really loved the social commentary on politicians generally being fucktards. There is some movement in places but all of the action takes place in and around the DC area and Florida so the epic world building movement is gone.  This novel had its ups and downs in terms of dialogue and movement but was still conducted by an accomplished writer. I think he really needs better editing help in order to insure that his story line doesn’t get lost in his efforts to maintain military credibility.

 

 

 

Review: Going Gray by Brian Spangler

 

 

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Publisher: Spangler

Publishing Date: July 2014

ISBN: 978149479798 

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description: Emily wakes to find that her world has plummeted into darkness–the clouds have spilled out of the sky and taken the sun. And there is more to the mysterious fog–the mist is poison, killing everything in its path. Emily’s home is no match for the caustic fog, and her family is suddenly on the run for safety. But when she learns that the machines built to save the world could be the cause of the accident, Emily turns to her father, the original architect, with the hope that they can stop the environmental catastrophe.

Review: This really wasn’t in my wheelhouse throughout the entire novel. Kind of a retake on Stephen King’s “The Mist”. Lengthy escape from the “Outsiders” and her dads disappearance into the “Machine”. Not much to this novel. You can wait and get more of this really boring story line in subsequent novels.