Review: The Dog of Pel by Mary Holland

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Publisher: Holland Books

Publishing Date: July 2015

ISBN: 9780996230711

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.3/5

Publisher Description: All Jamie Pel wants is a quiet life in his demesne and someone to share it with. As the secondary heir—the spare—of the Magne of Pel, his uncle, he’s avoided the pomp and ritual other Magnes and their primary heirs seem to relish. But with talk of a nascent slave trade circulating in Gallia, the Magne of Pel recruits Jamie to join an observation mission to the Scour, the blasted, burned-out territory where people sell themselves into slavery to get out.

Review: I had my doubts going into this, mainly due to the prior fail in “Matcher Rules“. I am really glad I gave this one a shot, only because I liked the cover art.  The character development coupled to the constant movement of the story line is fantastic. The scenes are descriptive enough to render vivid mental images and does not bludgeon you with minutia.

The only mild downer is that the world building is slightly compressed to fit the bounds of one novel. A shame really, as this could have been an epic series if Jamie’s travels were extended. I thought that once he was in the Scour he was going to be lost for months, trying to survive and finding lost magic and unlikely allies etc. 

The sinister elements could have been built with more depth in order to weave a sense of foreboding into the story line. The evil characters were quickly revealed as to their intent and motivations and thereby lost a fair amount of impact. The Void and the Boundaries were never fully explored and developed. Stumbling into the Void and escaping then using the Aaber to navigate within the Void was just too easy and patterned.

Interweave the Void into the lost Magne of Pel and a rediscovered ancient magic within the Scour with a malignant evil and you got yourself an awesome novel. As it stands, a really well written and creative world.

 

 

 

 

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Review: The End of the World is Rye by Brett Cottrell

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Publisher: Rosarium

Publishing Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9780990319108

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5

Publisher Description: What would you do for the perfect sandwich? Kill? Die? Well, if you were a rogue angel, you might cause the Apocalypse. And it looks like that’s just what this darkly funny fantasy’s rogue angel is about to do when he lands in a polygamist cult in Utah. Now it’s up to the rest of God’s divine posse, including Jesus and Lucifer, to save all of existence from certain destruction.

Review: The title should have been….”on Rye”, but don’t want to give it all away. lol. This was a real entertaining and provocative novel. It really gets you thinking about all things biblical and why the author has his own set of unique perspectives on, well, everything. His delivery is at once satirical and verging on the sardonic.

I enjoyed the authors witticisms, especially between Leviticus, the Devil and Jesus. Really an excellent novel with great movement coupled to a multitude of interesting characters .GET IT!

 

 

 

Review” Daimones by Massimo Marino

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Publisher: August 2015

Publishing Date: Booktrope

ISBN: 9781503093584

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.1/5

Publisher Description: Nothing could have prepared them for the last day. Explore the future of humanity in Massimo Marino’s sci-fi debut, Daimones, an apocalyptic tale that feels like it could happen tomorrow. You may never sleep through a windstorm again.
Death swept away the lives of billions, but spared Dan Amenta and his family, leading them to an uncertain future. When merely surviving isn’t enough and the hunt for answers begins, memories from the past and troubling encounters lead Dan to the truth about the extermination of the human race. Distressing revelations will give new meaning to their very existence.

Review: Get all that? Whew, this was boring with a capital ‘B’. Page after page of internal freakin’ dialogue and inner ruminations. The story-line is bland as it resides mostly inside Dan’s stale brain. Really, get this if you’re contemplating existential relativism.

 

 

Review: The Terrans by Jean Johnson

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Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: July 2015

ISBN: 9780425276914

Genre: SciFi

Rating: DNF

Publisher Description: Born into a political family and gifted with psychic abilities, Jacaranda MacKenzie has served as a border-watcher and even spent time as a representative on the United Planets Council. Now she just wants to spend her days in peace and quiet as a translator—but the universe has other plans…

Review: The story line was drowned, pummeled and assaulted with HEAVY dialogue and inane and lengthy scene descriptors. The big question is how in the fug did they get a publishing deal when there are so many great indie authors out there?

 

 

Review: Descent by Katie O’Sullivan

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Publisher: Wicked Whale

Publishing Date: July 2015

ISBN: 9780996278904

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.4/5

Publisher Description: When a freak tornado devastates his Oklahoma farm, fifteen-year-old Shea moves to Cape Cod to live with a grandmother he’s never met. Struggling to make sense of his new surroundings, he meets a girl along the shore who changes his life forever.

Review: This novel starts out pretty good with young Shea living in Oklahoma with his Dad when a twister devastates his life. He abruptly moves to Cape Cod to live with “Gramma” and suddenly finds insta-love in the form of a mermaid.  Then it goes downhill from there.

Well fast forward and suddenly we are in the realm of mermaids that behave like petulant humans. There is much warring and killing, coupled with scene and story line development that is rushed and stilted. The characters are one dimensional and flat due to the compressed story line and lack believability as a separate species due to their all too human traits. There is nothing that separates the merfolk as an interesting alien species. They are humans with tails and “sea magic”.

Shea is turns out to be a Prince (of course) with a speshul mark that makes him even more of a speshul threat to Prince Evil-pants.  There is much gnashing of teeth and flicking of tails. What really drives the nail in this novel coffin is the constant use of lame metaphors, if you can call them that. The merfolk use corny phrasing like; “By Poseidons Beard!” or “Oh my Starfish!”.  Insults used are: “Impudent Mollusk!”, “Squidbrain” and “Jellybrain”. Really? Prince Demyan takes the cake for over the top characters. At one point during an evil rant/monologue he calls Shea and his hot merchick jelly brained urchins that shall not spoil his plans (of which he just revealed)…Muhahahahaha! I am still not sure why its bad thing to be the “son of a manatee”. 

Read this while on the Trans-Siberian railway, day 4, Novosibirsk .

A note to the author; Grant, Garfield and Taft HAD actual summer homes on Cape Cod, while only Kennedy in your liberal trifecta had one. 

 

 

Review: Ithaka Rising by LJ Cohen

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Publisher: Interrobang Books

Publishing Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9781942851912

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.2/5

Publisher Description: When Jem disappears, Barre and Ro race to find him before he sells his future and risks his mind for a black market neural implant. But locating The Underworld along with its rogue planet Ithaka has political consequences far beyond what Halcyone’s crew imagine, pitting Jem’s life against deadly secrets from a war that should have ended forty years ago.

Review:  I missed reading the first in this series, “Derelict”. By all accounts it is very good and not really pivotal in understanding the world building that continues in “Ithaka Rising”. 

A generational, made for YA, SciFi novel set in deep space. The main characters are youngish and ruled by their emotions. There is much clenching / grinding of teeth, hurt looks and sour saliva mouth gulping. It is too bad that the novel verged on the patterned with regard to Jem. Jem is speshul. He’s a brilliant and caring kid that behaves better than his parents whom you just want to hug while ruffling his hair. Throughout the entire novel you have to wade through Jem’s roiling stomach, lurching gate, dizzy spells, throw up, darting eyes and snarky attitude. We get it. He has a brain injury. The characters of Ro and Barre are also brilliant and super speshul. They can hack any system, fix any ship and find a hidden planet that the Commonwealth with all their military might, have not found in 40 years,…. in a day. Riiiiiiight.

Most of the novel revolves around coffee. Where to get it, what it tastes like, why its bad, when to get it and where the good stuff is. Besides the frequent use of the phrase “pooling of sour tasting saliva” or derivatives on the theme, I liked the story-line. The characters just fell flat. Developing all the characters that wear their emotions on their sleeves does not create depth nor does it balance the character in opposition to their brilliant genius personas. It is a way to get around fully developing a complex character.

A note to the author, you can’t taste your own saliva.

 

 

 

Review: The Hidden and the Maiden by Eben Mishkin

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Publisher: CreateSpace

Publishing Date: March 2015

ISBN: 9781506119601

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.0/5

Publisher Description: A wizard’s failed apprentice and a self-doubting medium embark on a race against time in Eben Mishkin’s fantastical debut, The Hidden and the Maiden.

Review: A kind of convoluted and bizarre take on the afterlife and the Gods and Ghosts that inhabit alternate realms. 

The God of Death, Kherty-Aken (sp) is summoned by a human that stumbles upon an old wizards cache of herbal goop, which he quickly ingests. Now that he has power over Death he gets busy controlling ghosts and making a tidy prophet as a medium of sorts. Meanwhile, Zephyr’s plight as a schizophrenic and James’ derailed attempts at wizardry are told in parallel. They somehow stumble into believing that ghosts are real and the threat to humanity, all-pervasive. If you can get past that crumbling premise, then the novel works in a way that confounds.

The story-line remains consistent even when the scenes reach fantastical heights. The characters are well developed with the Ghosts stealing the show. Especially JJ. She has this divine sense of the acerbic and the rhetoric is constant.

Mishkin is a talented writer that will only get better. Here’s to hoping that he does (get better) and continues to do so (write).