Review: Spellstorm by Ed Greenwood




Publisher: Wizards of the Coast

Publishing Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9780786965717 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.2/5

Publisher Description: Rumors race around Cormyr regarding the mythical Lost Spell, a powerful enchantment designed centuries ago by the presumed dead god of spells—a spell long thought lost to the ages. Found by some magic-less merchant, rumor has it the Lost Spell is to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Review: This is “Dungeons and Dragons” hooked up with “Clue” and had a love child called Spellstorm. Every Arch Mage is dying only everyone is guessing at the killer(s) identity and method. It all takes place in a creepy crumbling castle with wandering ghosts and fragile gates into other worlds. 

Evil Arch Mages have made it through the spellstorm which surrounds Castle Oldspires in order to wrest away the Lost Spell from Lord Halaunt. The Wizards begin to better the odds by killing the competition by various means.

I was delightfully surprised with the writing and the creative story line. Characters were rendered wonderfully and scenes were built to move the characters around in a static environment. I liked that the Spellstorm and the Weave were there to mitigate magic use as it would have rendered a dismal story line otherwise. The only downsides were some word and phrase crutches here and there like “growled” and “said dryly” etc. Although it runs a bit longer than it should, get this. It’s a solid read.


Review: The Dragons of Dorcastle by Jack Campbell



Publisher: Jabwerwokky

Publishing Date: April 2015

ISBN: 9781625671196 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.9/5

Publisher Description: Mari is a brilliant young Mechanic, just out of the Guild Halls, where she has spent most of her life learning how to run the steam locomotives and other devices of her Guild. Alain is the youngest Mage ever to learn how to change the world he sees with the power of his mind. Each has been taught that the works of the other’s Guild are frauds. But when their caravan is destroyed, they begin to discover how much has been kept from them.

Review: This novel surprised me in it’s plot line due to the nature of mixing genres. Mari and her Guild evoke the 1800’s Steampunk era and Alain is a sorcerer of a sorts. A kind of science vs. magic premise. They are thrown together due to the separate machinations of their respective guilds and build a forbidden relationship.

This was an entertaining read as the story line pulls you in. The characters….meh. Mari is entirely self-absorbed based on her endless internal ruminations and you never really get to develop any connection to her as everything always works out for her. Saved by Alain at every turn she soon discovers deeper feelings for this unemotional oddity called Alain. The pace/movement was good yet failed to develop the characters in any meaningful way. Alain developed a little because he had to. The only way for him is UP, as he was stripped of all humanity within the Mage Guild.  Still, a pretty creative plot.





Review: Pines by Blake Crouch




Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Publishing Date: August 2012

ISBN: 9781612183954 

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.7/5

Publisher Description: Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. 

Review: I am so late to the party on this one. Published a few years ago and made into a T.V. movie (which I missed), Pines, details the captured life of an injured Secret Service agent in a small town.

Ethan wakes up all battered and bruised and recalls a auto accident while on his way to Wayward Pines to locate some missing agents. As I read this, I thought that this guy must be in hell or purgatory. There is this mysterious road out of town that takes you back into town and people that were his contemporaries that are now aged. Kind of like “Children of the Corn meets “The Dark Secret of Harvest Home”.  

High pitched unearthly screams pierce the night and when viewed for the first time, are translucent skinned predators that resemble humans on all fours. I thought, fuk yeah! Agent Burke is being kept in purgatory and the Sheriff is an unearthly demon residing over the town. It gets even freakier when people dress up and murder certain individuals who haven’t accepted the “program”.

Things that didn’t make sense were the computer chips in their thighs and a high voltage fence. Why would you need something like that in Hell? I was pretty much off the mark on this one but still had a really good time reading it. Really good writing coupled with a solid story line and great movement. The character development was a little weak in that the movement didn’t aid in any character reveals. Kind of a “What you read is what you get” type of character(s). Still, I read this in one sitting and enjoyed myself but maybe it was the cigar(s).



Review: H.A.L.F. The Deep Beneath by Natalie Wright



Publisher: Natalie Wright

Publishing Date: January 2015

ISBN: 9781505524727 

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.5/5

Publisher Description: Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement meets shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll say adios to the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined. 

Review: “And a cold shiver ran up her spine….” That phrase got me thinking as it was used 5 times in the novel. Personally I have never felt a cold shiver run up my spine. Is it just a turn of phrase? A better alternative to “Shudder”? An internal reaction to external stimuli? So Erika, all filled with spit and vinegar, is not ready to love or be loved by Jack, a hunky disheveled musician. So upon seeing him after a long separation she begins sifting the air for his scent like a dog to dog-butt. “She could smell soap and spice and citrus. JACKS SMELL.” Eeeww. She goes on wishing she had a bottle of Jack Smell  to take with her. And then rebuffs his advances. Hate her yet? Oh you will.

They go to the desert, get almost raped, get saved by a telekinetic government created human-alien hybrid and we are off to the races. There is Mrs. Dr. Evil in the form of commander Sturgis who is a professional sociopath and they all run around the desert telepathinkinesising asses wherever they go. Oh, forgot the translocating bit too. As they try escaping to Witch Mountain, er…..Alien Rock? Erika really wants to curl into Jack and allow him to enfold her in his arms (cause that’s what we all wanna do with a deadly alien in the front seat, commandos and a bad deadly alien chasing us) BUT, that would give Jack the wrong impression. Huh? Hate her yet? Later she decides that Jack (although really bad smelling by now with greasy hair and a pimple on his nose) is ok to fondle and wonders at the softness of his hands, which were wondrously calloused at the beginning of the story due to his guitar playing. 

Erika gets away with kneeing a lot of dudes in the nads which makes me think she would be better off batting for the other team. This was a blend of “Paul” meets “Escape to Witch Mountain” but with a cast of self-centered hormonal shits. The character development is absent even with the good movement that was evident. Perhaps it was the dialogue that focused on their particular wants and desires that failed to enhance their myopic personalities. The story-line has been used over and over yet the ending showed some promise. But no, it was a cliff hanger that will quickly jettison your interest in the sequel. This is a good read while waiting for your colonoscopy results.




Review: Class-M Exile by Raven Oak



Publisher: Gray Sun

Publishing Date: March 2015

ISBN: 9780990815754 

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.2/5

Publisher Description: A military beefcake with a grudge, a wartime conspiracy, a stolen ship, a galaxy full of prejudice, and at the center of it all, a young human named Mel in search of the truth. Her search for her past and his quest for knowledge take them across the stars as they uncover the darkness and fear in us all.   

Review: Real short novella that has superb writing but lacks in the creative. An alien with a western hick accent and humanistic traits. Oh joy.  Other aliens that are not very well described and a human who manages to garner support from a xenophobic society.

Eerl (get it?) the alien follows Mel the human across the galaxy helping her in every situation and ultimately finding out what happened to her parents all those years ago.  So you will be scratching your head like I did with the ending and the cover art.

A good book if you’re sitting in subway trying to avoid eye contact with a guy in a spangle suit.

Review: An Oik’s Progress by Steve Eastwood



Publisher: Troubador

Publishing Date: March 2015

ISBN: 9781784629403 

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 2.4/5

Publisher Description: Psychopathic tendencies begin to arise in Benny, which come to light when faced with a local thug with a grudge against his father. How far will Benny go to stop the man from threatening the father that has always put him down? 

Review: I thought this would be ones man’s psychopathic walk through life from child to adult, according to the description. What it turns out to be is a normal jaunt through life for about 99% of the novel, detailing Benny’s mundane life as a policeman. Its really a novel without a plot which makes it a fictional biography?

The stories within are well written and often funny. The novel follows a typical English writing style that details everyday intricacies from scene descriptions to ordinary dialogue and personal interactions. The ending is abrupt and without merit but makes a bit of sense when you follow an ordinary life for most of the novel. It needed something like the ending to make some sort of plot sense.  A really good read if you’re waiting at the DMV for your license renewal.


Review: Corsair (preview) by James L. Cambias


Publisher: Tor

Publishing Date: May 2015

ISBN: 9780765379108 

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.0/5

Publisher Description: In the early 2020s, two young, genius computer hackers, Elizabeth Santiago and David Schwartz, meet at MIT, where Schwartz is sneaking into classes, and have a brief affair. David is amoral and out for himself, and soon disappears. Elizabeth dreams of technology and space travel and takes a military job after graduating. Nearly ten years later, David is setting himself to become a billionaire by working in the shadows under a multiplicity of names for international thieves, and Elizabeth works in intelligence preventing international space piracy.

Review: Lately, publishers have been pushing this preview “excerpt” novella crap. Just ARC the dam thing already. But no. They already know its good so they throw out a teaser. What’s the fugging point? This is written by one of my favorite authors and he still delivers in spades. I will post a full review when I get a FULL COPY!







Review: When the Heavens Fall (preview) by Marc Turner


Publisher: Tor

Publishing Date:  May 2015

ISBN: 9780765337122 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.0/5

Publisher Description: A book giving its wielder power over the dead has been stolen from a fellowship of mages that has kept the powerful relic dormant for centuries. The thief, a crafty, power-hungry necromancer, intends to use the Book of Lost Souls to resurrect an ancient race and challenge Shroud for dominion of the underworld. Shroud counters by sending his most formidable servants to seize the artifact at all cost.

Review: If this is a preview, I can’t wait for the novel. Really well written albeit dark in content. This is no fairy tale with a hero battling evil but a novel rife with evil mages, warring factions, intrigue and few gods.



Review: Cruel Summer by K.R. Conway


Publisher: Wicked Whale

Publishing Date: March 2015

ISBN: 9780987476524 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5

Publisher Description: Kian O’Reilly is flawless as a killer. Well-practiced in the art of making murder look like an accident, he is selfish, wealthy, and totally arrogant as a soul-stealing immortal. But when he ends up stranded on Cape Cod with a stolen car and a dead drug dealer in the trunk, he thinks his luck couldn’t get any worse.
That is, until Ana Lane shows up.

Review: Why is there not a corvette on the cover? Love, hate?

The first half of this novel was really good. Kian, a soulless killer with a dead drug dealer in the trunk, stumbles into a spit and vinegar mechanic with a heart of gold. What follows is funny repartee’ between the two, with a shape shifting sidekick and some seriousness thrown in. Then it turns into a self-indulgent Nora Roberts spew where “His deep smooth voice seemed to fill the area like rich smoke…..”, and “My stupid heart was vibrating, causing my voice to turn breathless….”. Plus the rippled abs etc. etc. What the fuck happened here? From interesting characters that breath life into every scene to diminished love struck idiots frolicking on a yacht, mooning at each other and constantly deliberating  “This connection they feel for each other”.  So during all this love struck b.s. , Ana or Pix or whatever is dealing with a drunk, abusive Father that reveals her co-dependent tendencies which runs anathema to her personality, but wtf do I know. 

Why didn’t this novel expand interesting characters rather than inverting them into love struck dummys by moving the story line away from their myopic lives? Why not use the drug dealing ring as a launch to develop the characters with movement  or tangentially create a separate expanded story line with MJ’s shape shifting abilities? Or better yet, the head drug guy is an ancient Mortis and has designs on Ana as her psychic abilities hint at some deep uncovered power. Make her an ancient mermaid/selkie for fugs sake. She likes the water enough.

So Ana makes this internal affirmation that she has never loved anyone as much as Kian blah, blah, blah and then abruptly dismisses him from her life when he won’t heal her drunk abusive Father. Even when he explains that by healing him he would not only become a Mortis like Kian but an evil one without control. What does she do with all this love and trust? Slaps him and never sees him again. For one “Oh so giving in nature” she sure behaves like a self-centered narcissist.

Good show, way to ruin good characters and plunge a promising story line with good writing into unbelievable Harlequin. (slowly claps).

Review: The Last Quarrel ep. 4 by Duncan Lay



Publisher: Momentum

Publishing Date: March 2015

ISBN: 9781760300159 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.0/5

Publisher Description: Fallon and Prince Cavan are getting closer to the truth. They are tantalisingly close to discovering who is really behind the evil inside the country. Or is this all a trap and they are merely about to blunder into it? 

Review: Well this is my third trip down the Quarrel alter and this serialized nonsense IS tiring. Bridgit is even more insufferably stricken with ego, slapping emotional wrecks while they clutch their babies. Fallon continues to get dumber along with Prince “oblivious” Cavan.

Again, the scenes are drawn out and filled with dialogue in order to bridge successive novellas. Seriously, I am done reading these. No really, I kid you not. Done.