Review: Iron and Ether by August Li


Publisher: DSP

Publishing Date: June 2015

ISBN: 9781632169525

Genre: Fantasy/Gay

Rating: 1.2/5

Publisher Description: Sasha was born to, and has always defined himself by, the secret assassins’ Order of the Crimson Scythe. He chose the love of Yarrow L’Estrella and Duncan Purefroy over his duty to his clan, forfeiting his last mission and allowing Prince Garith to live.

Review: What the description does not reveal is how steeped in gay this novel is. It begins with a demi-god dipping his toes in blood while getting serviced by a man-boy. Fast forward and every sentence is about the three man lovers boinking each other on the road to meet/stop the assassins guild from taking out Sasha. Women are clearly despised as Yarrow lays into a hapless girl who is in an arranged marriage with Duncan. Other epithets are loosely arranged throughout the novel as to the what the gay musketeers feel about the opposite sex.

The prose is a bit stilted and the range of the unexpected that we are supposed to accept verges on the absurd. For example: Gay-Robin has a fight with a goddess, calls her a bitch, releases a lake wurm from bondage (who is now his friend), whom he will ride into battle. Mmmm-k.

Read this while fishing out lice from your hair. 




Review: Evelina and the Time Pirates by R.A. Donnelly


Publisher: RA Donnelly

Publishing Date: October 2014

ISBN: 9781500552985

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.2/5

Publisher Description: Evelina Crimm just wants to be normal. She has her life planned, until she spends summer vacation with two crazy Aunts and discovers she’s a Water Witch. Soon things get a little freaky and she’s living a double life, slinging hash during the week and dodging black magic spells every weekend. Not to mention a certain mysterious warlock she can’t seem to stay away from.

Review: Evelina is, you guessed it, extra-extra super speshul. She goes from schoolgirl orphan to super-witch in a summer at her aunties witch cottage. Ok, forget the story-line for now. Lets talk about for whom this was written for. YA/Teens. I am pretty positive that YA’s would more than likely be insulted with the actions and dialogue of this novel. Take for instance her insta-love for Frankie the Magic Pirate. Page after page of descriptive like how his golden eyes tug deep inside of her and his glistening chest and tanned body. All the while her heart or stomach does flip-flops and her cheeks turn hot. 

The scenes within gradually succumb to this Disney-esque scene progression where the fantastical and serious become comedy. For instance their lives are threatened at one point and the bullet fired becomes a stinging butt missile with a mind of its own that chases the shooter away while stinging him in the ass. HARDY! HAR! HAR!!!!!! Fug. 

This read like a childrens book with a horny 17 year old witch trying to get banged by a 20 year old. So kinda inappropriate. Read this if you happen to get tossed in coach sitting next to a farting sociology major.




Review: The Void of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler



Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date: October 2015

ISBN: 9781503948723

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description: When banished Princess Maia is captured by her father and threatened with execution, it appears that all is lost…until the people rise in rebellion against their king. Suddenly, the cast-aside royal finds herself crowned the first Queen of Comoros. But enemies appear on all sides as her father’s conniving supporters assemble a new army against the fledgling ruler.

Review: In case you haven’t guessed by now that Maia is “Speshul”. She’s not just special she’s super special and everyone loves her and she makes grown men wail and cry whilst pronouncing their undying loyalty. Boo….hoo. As Queen of Comoros she develops a scheme with the ladies-in-waiting…to, hold on now you won’t believe it ….”to take turns leaving the Palace to visit the poorest quarters of the city, distributing alms, baskets of food, and visiting the poor and the sick. They were not to use their names…….merely servants.”. Really? Can anyone be as giving, altruistic and perfect than Queen Maia? When Maia is not helping little urchin girls or forgiving treasonous transgressions, she is blushing at the memory of Collier, her hunky man-boy, who is a King in his own realm. Fug. 

The story line follows the same pattern as prior works and really just elevates Maia to Goddess-hood while fighting the evils of the world. Soft, softer and softly was over-used 51 times in order to expedite scene closure. This was a diminished follow up to the second novel and is a hard sell to wade through.


Review: The Paladin Caper (Rogues of the Republic 2 and 3) by Patrick Weekes


Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date: October 2015

ISBN: 9781503948730

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.2/5

Publisher Description: Loch and her crew are determined to stop the ancients from returning to reclaim the world they once ruled, but the kidnapping of a friend throws their plans awry. When a desperate rescue turns into a shocking reunion, the ancients return and seize power. Determined to stop them, Loch and the group look for a way to close the gate to the ancients’ world, but this time, they find themselves up against an enemy that has insinuated itself into the highest ranks of the Republic. Cruel, cunning, and connected, the ancients target the crew’s families and histories, threatening to tear friendships apart.

Review: I really liked the world building and storyline of these novels. It is at once complex and compelling and often distraught as it tries to find logical purchase in the frenetic pace.  An easy high 4 stars if not for some spelling, grammatical and scene logic errors.




Review: Hero Engine by Alexander Nader



Publisher: Booktrope

Publishing Date: June 2015

ISBN: 2015139781601

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.2/5

Publisher Description: Jim Quig has one love, his job as a cop. He has to be fine with the fact that the superheroes get all the credit while he protects the streets. When the director of the Super Hero Initiative (SHI) needs Jim’s help in solving a mystery, he’s not interested. It’s not his problem that an ancient artifact called the Hero Engine has been destroyed and the after effects are causing mass chaos. 

Review: “Cool” Jim Quig is hired by SHI to find out why a Hero has gone bonkers and is razing every city she turns up in.

The character development and the movement is excellent in this novel. As the characters gain in depth, the story line moves towards completing the mystery. The idea that normal humans are vetted in order to enter the Hero Engine and become super human, is very creative and sets the stage for successive novels. The world building is that good. 

“So why you no give 5 stars!?”.  Too many grammatical errors to overlook with some scattered logic in scene development. This novel needed to go through a final editing/beta process before publication. Still, a great read and a very talented writer. I look forward to more from this author.




Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep


Publisher: Kensington

Publishing Date: October 2015

ISBN: 9781617738265

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.8/5

Publisher Description: As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there’s no escaping the spotlight–or the danger. 

Review: I almost round filed this novel as the beginning starts with a love addled descriptions of hunky magic men….”Warm rays filtered down….danced across his muscled body….intense green eyes…honey highlights in dark-chocolate brown hair….whiffed his crisp pine scent.” Fug.

In the land of Cloudburst Falls, everyone pertinent to the story line is hot. Devon with his muscled body and honey blonde chocolaty hair; Katia’s dark red hair and bright hazel eyes with a runway models body; Deah the deadly beauty with golden hair and dark blue eyes from House Draconis; Felix with his wavy black hair and bronze skin whom is even more handsome than Devon, if possible. Surprisingly the author drops the “everyone is beautiful and speshul” shtick and continues to develop a pretty good story line. Yeah the writing is a bit stilted what with the overuse of words to expedite scene development like murmured, muttered, grumbled and actually (59x) but it was creative and had some good character development coupled to the constant movement.

I should hate this but found enjoyment in the oddest of places.




Review: Sing Down The Stars by L.J. Hatton


Publisher: Skyscape

Publishing Date: October 2015

ISBN: 9781503946569

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publisher Description: When they arrived, they spread across the sky like a sea of jellyfish—silent, unknown, alien. When they left, a year later, it seemed as if nothing had changed. But soon, certain girls were born with peculiar abilities—inhuman abilities. An international commission was formed to investigate…and fear began to spread. Families were swept from their homes and, one by one, any girl that was different disappeared.

Review: Wow, this novel was all over the place, temporally. Penn goes from carnie life to traveling vast distances in an instant while raining down hell fire. It verges on the edge of steampunk with animatrons that are perhaps more than just mechanical to an alien visitation that left an imprint on humanity. 

“So why you no give 5 stars!?” The only fall down was Penn. She has all these powers at her disposal but fails to use them in crucial moments like defending herself. She goes from creating earthquakes, raining down flaming meteors and controlling robotics to getting slapped around, knocked out and placed in bindings by two wardens. Repeatedly.  Really? Major fail there. She also fails to really develop as a character with the movement. She is all spit and vinegar from beginning to end without any real depth. Instances that would impact someone emotionally are evident, but there is no lasting impression as she just moves on and into what concerns her at the moment.  Additionally, although minor, was the lack of logical scene progression in some areas.

What this gives in spades is creative world building and a solid cast of supporting characters. A pretty damn good read.


Review: The Ciphers Of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler



Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date: September 2015

ISBN: 9781503947115

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.2/5

Publisher Description: From the moment she was banished by her father, the king, Princess Maia journeyed to seek sanctuary at Muirwood Abbey, the epicenter of magic and good in the land. Now safe for the first time since her cruel abandonment, Maia must foster uneasy friendships with other girls training to be Ciphers: women who learn to read and engrave tomes of ancient power, despite the laws forbidding them to do so.

Review: Maia is “speshul”. Amend that. Maia is “super speshully goodness wrapped in sweet sugar”. So Princess Maia escapes her daddy King’s clutches and resides in Muirwood, waiting for her initiation as a Maston. 

The whole novel resides in Muirwood as palace intrigue, slut shaming and burgeoning love transpire around Maia. Maia is at once doe-eyed, wiser than Buddha,  prettier than a Labrador puppy and smarter than Einstein. Oh, and she has magical connections to the “Medium”. Hate her yet? She is married to a King (but never consummated) which makes her a Queen and all of the Realm is depending on her to open magical gates and depose her evil daddy. So why does Maia suck besides the obvious? See her King Daddy killed her mom, Queenie the First, while banging a lady in waiting and tried to have his Speshul daughter killed multiple times. He deposed and subsequently killed the Earl of whatever and all his sons and is now banging a new lady in waiting. He kills his last lady in waiting to make room for the new lady in waiting because as her then, new wife, she started banging some musicians. And yet, at every opportunity, Maia implores those that really care about her, to not harm her daddy. She refuses to go against him in any way. Huh? That’s like letting a rabid skunk play with your kids in the backyard.

The writing is good as is the overall story line. The characters are well developed but Maia just plane sucks. There were some annoying phrases throughout the novel like “soft, softer, softly” over-used 70 times but minor compared to Maia’s perfection. This would have gotten 4 stars except for Maia’s cloying sickly sweetness.

Review: Winell Road by Kate Foster


Publisher: Jet Black

Publishing Date: April 2015

ISBN: 9780994318701

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.5

Publisher Description: Winell Road is the most boring street on Earth and 12 year old Jack Mills is sick to his molars of living there. But when a UFO nearly abducts him outside his home, his life takes a terrifying and mysterious turn. With the help of his new friend and neighbour, frighteningly tall Roxy Fox, Jack discovers there’s a lot more to Winell Road and his life than he’d ever imagined.

Review: A really good YA SciFi adventure novel with a “save the universe” theme commonly found in this genre.  The author does a good job developing compelling characters and the scene descriptions are easily visualized. The pacing/movement is fast enough to keep you interested while advancing the characters personalities. This strains the boundaries of being a complete novel as it was fairly short yet hints at serialization.




Review: Once Humans by Massimo Marino


Publisher: Booktrope

Publishing Date: September 2015

ISBN: 9781513702926

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.3/5

Publisher Description: The last day has come and gone, but the saga continues in Once Human as Massimo Marino continues to explore the future of humanity. When you’re surrounded by peace and plenty, think of a malignant power lurking from the depth of the darkness. 

Review: This was boring with a capital “B”.  Aliens kill off our race but make some humans better than they used to be while leaving the majority as worker bees with no ability to reproduce. Yet somehow Lieutenant Dan is grateful to the aliens for all that they do or maybe it is a sense of morbid acceptance. Either way the story line was not believable. And yes, it kind of has to be plausible for our ordered minds to follow. 

The novel mostly follows the growing development of a “New Race” of humans as they farm, cavort and mince around the hills of Europe. The End. Nah, Dan gets to ride in a spaceship and have halting, innuendo laden conversations with aliens. Oh, and he has powers that are growing so he’s gaining in coolness. The End. No, I kid. Everything is perfect, then a bad race of aliens start destroying their hydroponics but Dan can sense their deep evil and knows when to duck. The End. No, really, Dan can now mind meld and shjt but you don’t know when he is doing it because of all the grammatical errors that run rampant throughout.

Read this while grappling for change in a smelly bar.