Review: Barry vs. The Apocalypse by Ross Cavins



Publisher: Ross Cavins

Publishing Date: April 2015

ISBN: 9780982772058 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.2/5

Publisher Description: Introducing Barry Glick, a middle-aged Superhero with Super-Speed, Super-Strength, and a mullet. He thought he’d retired twenty years ago …

Review: First off, this author should have a full publishing deal. The mounds of crap I have read in the last year by “published” authors fails in comparison to a lot of Indie authors out there. 

This was a short but fun ride. Really good character development coupled to constant movement. Barry is a slovenly half breed superhero who reluctantly goes into action at the urging of his childhood friends, Gordon and Kimmy. Hannah is a great addition that should get more play as the series progresses.

Barry’s libido is always evident as are his rebuffs from a plethora of pretty women. He’s at once crass, lovable, frustrating, dimwitted, intelligent and pithy. A great character that never takes himself seriously so neither should you.  Looking forward to the series next installment as he continues to battle the Anunnaki  for the world.



Review: Ancient Shadows by Joanne Pence


Publisher: Quail Hill

Publishing Date: April 2015

ISBN: 9780692415757 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.5/5

Publisher Description: Archeologist Michael Rempart finds himself pitted against ancient demons and modern conspirators when a dying priest gives him a powerful artifact–a pearl said to have granted Genghis Khan the power, eight centuries ago, to lead his Mongol warriors across the steppes to the gates of Vienna.

Review: “Enter the Pearl!!!”.  I almost threw up laughing so hard. Only this was not a comedy. This novel follows a very formulaic script in another Dan Brown-esque attempt at a movie deal. 

Rich, rumpled, kung fu master, NATGEO presenter and banger of Hollywood starlets, Michael D-bag, has stumbled his way into a demonic presence that resides in a red pebble that was once guarded by an ancient sect of Christians somewhere on the Silk road. Add in a computer genius that can hack into anything, anywhere (Deus ex), Kato and an FBI psycho-consultant (that can tell when anyone lies) and you have another dismal archeological thriller.

See 5 navy guys are in Egypt and they somehow get tied to a demonic presence that makes them all richer than Solomon after a night of fugging black foxes and each other in a tent. Sound stupid? It gets dumberer. Father bro-man happens upon the guy that possesses the red pearl and accidentally kills the little shit and rifles his dead body for nick nacks. Sound like a priest? He finds a picture of the 5 navy porn stars, puts 1 and infinity together and is now the guardian of the pearl, rock/ amalgam/ philosophers stone. He then bequeaths guardianship to Mikey. Yay.

The characters were flat as their personalities didn’t change much during the movement through much of the novel. The scenes were stilted with patterned dialogue that also contributed to the characters flatness. Not much in the way of entertainment imho. Get this if you like screaming babies.



Review: The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc Helms


Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9780857664341 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.5/5

Publisher Description: Street magician Missy Masters inherited more than the usual genetic cocktail from her estranged grandfather. She also got his preternatural control of shadow and his legacy as the vigilante hero, Mr Mystic. Problem is, being a pulp hero takes more than a good fedora and a knack for witty banter, and Missy lacks the one thing Mr Mystic had: experience. 

Review: This read like a rabid weasel seeking frenetic copulation with a pinecone.  Do they need a new editor at Angry Robot? Someone to infuse some sense of logical progression?

Missy Masters is a girl but you will continued to be confused as the character goes from guy to girl and back. Then it is revealed that she is a she who can make herself up real good with shadows and shjt. The novel hops around from “Then” to “Now” in a contorted temporal twister. Within each “Event” or chapter is this confusing mélange of characters and spastic scene progression. It gets worse as the author seeks to impart her own brand of social commentary  with the tried and true liberal shtick of “It’s for the greater good”. Which is code for, “If you don’t think like us you’re evil”.

So Missy er Mystic or Lieng Shi Fu Quan Whu, goes back to “Then”, to be trained by a Dragon God who used to train her grandfather in the ways of guy on guy sex. Then for some reason Missy gets the hots for Dragon boy and he of course reciprocates cause she’s so hot and frustrating. And then “BAM” she is pregnant with twins. Huh?

This was an excruciatingly long read that lacked character and scene development of the cogent sort and world building that fails to capture the imagination by limiting descriptive detail. Missy is a one dimensional character that was built separate to her ongoing experience i.e. movement. 

Get this book if you’re planning a root canal. The pain will fail in comparison.




Review: Secret Samurai: Book One Tangled Lives by Jill Rutherford


Publisher: Troubador

Publishing Date: March 2015

ISBN: 9781784629571 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.2/5

Publisher Description: This is the start of an exciting and intriguing romantic adventure trilogy which, in 2012, time-slips feisty young graduate, Bebe Bell, into the mind of Kai Matsuda, a samurai fighting to save his country in the civil war of the 1860’s which ended the samurai system and gave birth to modern Japan. 

Review: Meh? Bebe is a boring character. She falls unconscious and lives a life through a late nineteenth century samurai thereby affecting his thought patterns, mannerisms and emotions. So it’s not a past life regression kind of thing. Almost as if there is no temporal limitation to the experiences of both Bebe and Kai.

Bebe teaches English and is of course hot. She gets a new student, Kenji, with a ruffled mien and shadowed past whom she falls in insta-love. Throughout this pedantic history lesson, Bebe runs around like a frightened geisha crying at her predicament (because living through the eyes of a samurai must be traumatic).

Despite the stilted dialogue, lack of movement and lame character development, the world building is creative and merits an extra star. Hopefully the next installment in this continuing saga will pick up the pace, otherwise you will be mired in Bebe-isms.




Review: Archimedes Nesselrode by Justine Graykin




Publisher: Double Dragon

Publishing Date: October 2013

ISBN: 9781771151306

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.3/5

Publisher Description: Archimedes Nesselrode is an artist who “makes things”–no one knows how–whimsical delights encased in plastic cubes which vanish when opened. 

Review: A novel most Victorian in presentation yet fairly light.  There is a budding romance, a jilted opera star, weird manifestations and an absent minded other-worldly magician. The characters are fairly well built yet remain one dimensional as the story line progresses.

The movement is a bit slow and tends to revolve around Archimedes and Vivian’s feelings about each other and their respective predicaments.  As a love story it is kind of weak in that Archimedes can never consummate his marriage with Vivian as he will lose his ability to create. She goes along with this idea which is no surprise as her character embraces many aspects of a nun spinster.  Archimedes embodies the personality of an inverted gay dormouse, constantly crying or exuberantly fluttering about. Its no small wonder that they only share fleeting kisses and promises of eternal love.

The creative aspects of the story line are very well done. A basilisk, a group of marmosets, a flying snake, giant spider, heron, a bat vole thing, a vibrant lobster, giant starfish, a tiny Bishop and an assembly of cats etc. round out and interesting ensemble.




Review: The Iron Ship by K.M. McKinley


Publisher: Rebellion/Solaris

Publishing Date: May 2015

ISBN: 9781781083505 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.9/5

Publisher Description: In these turbulent days, fortunes can be won. Magic runs strong in the Kressind family. Six siblings strive – one to triumph in a world of men, one to survive murderous intrigue, one to master forbidden sorcery, one to wash away his sins, one to contain the terrible energies of his soul.  And one will do the impossible, by marrying the might of magic and iron in the heart of a great ship, to cross an ocean that cannot be crossed. 

Review: This novel follows the lives of the individual Kressind siblings as they make their way in an epic world built from ancient majiks colliding with science that appeals to a wondrous sense of synergy.  

The character development is astounding. There is constant movement coupled to intense characterization as to be immediately caught up in any characters particular instance. Captain Rel Kressind is sent to the Black Sands for shagging the wife of some noble, the story of which, could ride as a stand-alone novel in and of itself. Changelings, shape shifters, glass fortresses, huge modalman and Dracons top out this frontier borderland that verges on the insane. Guis Kressind, of a fractal mind, has inherent mage abilities that lie stunted as his will struggles with the darkling within. Katriona Kressind possessing the most business intellect and begrudged her fathers legacy, seeks to build an empire of her own. Aarin Kressind guides and releases the souls of the departed, accompanied by two animated corpses.  The myriad story lines thread around the building of a great iron ship, designed by Trassand Kressind, master engineer. 

Truly a wonderfully written novel that embraces excellence in story line and character development and an expansive world building that you can barely get your head around.  This author joins Michael J. Sullivan as another of my favorite authors, and like Michaels works, I look forward to the next.

Review: Finches of Mars by Brian Aldiss



Publisher: Open Road

Publishing Date: August 2015

ISBN: 9781504005890 

Genre: SciFi

Rating: DNF

Publisher Description: Doomed by overpopulation, irreversible environmental degradation, and never-ending war, Earth has become a fetid swamp. For many, Mars represents humankind’s last hope. In six tightly clustered towers on the red planet’s surface, the colonists who have escaped their dying home world are attempting to make a new life unencumbered by the corrupting influences of politics, art, and religion.

Review: I jumped at the chance to read a new work from Brian Aldiss coupled with my favorite publishing house. This was sadly disappointing. Akin to one big jumbled literary dump, Finches Of Mars is often times a schizophrenic foray into the memoirs of a depleted mind. It was so scrambled and heaped with non-relevant story line information that I quickly lost interest in the characters, world building and the plot.


Review: Dragons Are People Too by Sarah Nicolas




Publisher: Entangled

Publishing Date: April 2015

ISBN: 9781633752207 

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.1/5

Publisher Description: Sixteen-year-old Kitty Lung has everyone convinced she’s a normal teen—not a secret government operative, not the one charged with protecting the president’s son, and certainly not a were-dragon. The only one she trusts with the truth is her best friend—and secret crush—the über-hot Bulisani Mathe.

Review: I really like YA. No seriously, I do. The only YA that makes me cringe is when the story line constantly devolves (even when there is blood flying) into this clingy, jealous, myopic love fascination. Kitty is a self-centered, love-struck narcissist who can’t help but smell, sniff, scent, feel, get electric charges from, burn hot, blush at and get weak knees for Sani. For example Sani gets shot, twice and Kitty has the presence to note his  “perfect chest”. Kitty goes from super secret soldier/agent dragon-pants to poor hepwess Kitty dat needs her stwong man to steady her little muffin head….meow.

Besides bad phrasing like ” his arms crossed across his chest, making his biceps bunch enticingly..” or the really bad metaphors, “His tone is harsh and quiet, like polished steel” or my favorite ” The safety of his arms around me is like the sight of a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter in the jungles of Indonesia…..”. Huh? Add in the “guns are bad” message throughout this failure or the ACLU/CNN as the new church of O’merica and you’re left with, well, not much in the way of entertainment.

So why the generous 2 stars? There is so much potential within this work that gets draped and hidden with juvenile Nora Roberts spew. It diminishes Kitty’s character by making her weak and dependent. The only way she comes out of her funk is with her hunky man who either calms her “Dragon Rage” or eases her pouting/tantrums. Why not make Kitty alluring and aloof with tough mission focus while showcasing her skills as a 16 year old operative commander that has been training since the age of two and speaks 4 languages and mastered college level schoolwork and guards the Presidents son while residing in a deep secret  government bunker (lol).