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.




Review: The Storm by Virginia Bergen




Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Publishing Date: October 2015

ISBN: 9781492629795

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.2/5

Publisher Description: Ninety-seven percent of the population is dead. And the killer rain keeps falling. Ruby’s not sure she can make it on her own much longer. So when a chance encounter leads her to a camp with the last boy she may ever kiss (it’s not easy to date during an apocalypse), Ruby gratefully accepts the army’s protection.

Review: This was a conflicted novel in review-land. People either loved it or didn’t think it measured up to the first novel. Having not read the first, I thought that while this was superbly written, there did seem to be some disjointed moments throughout the novel where the story line jumped around and was hard to follow. I enjoyed Ruby and her internal musings as much as I liked the world building.

The novel has some fails with regard to water being toxic as it carries bacteria that can kill. What is odd is that those that are not immune somehow survive when water is everywhere and gets into everything. A low relative humidity in the air would carry the bacteria to living hosts as well.  Still some fun was had in the reading.




Review: The Oncoming Storm by Christopher Nuttall



Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date:

ISBN: 9781503947085

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.5/5

Publisher Description: In the year 2420, war looms between the galaxy’s two most powerful empires: the tyrannical Theocracy and the protectionist Commonwealth. Caught in the middle sits the occupied outpost system Cadiz, where young officer and aristocrat Katherine “Kat” Falcone finds herself prematurely promoted at the behest of her powerful father. Against her own wishes, Kat is sent to command the Commonwealth navy’s newest warship, Lightning.

Review: This read like a LARPing rehearsal for ConQuest…. “Lord Vansooth from the Trulax Star System and Vice General Habbard were long in their dislike of the mannered realms…..”. And, really you could make it up as you write like I just did, and be pretty close to novels content. There was a lot of info-dumping as well, which made it hard to get through, which I thankfully did not.  DNF.




Review: INCI by Mike Resnick and Tina Gower



Publisher: Phoenix Pick

Publishing Date: August 2015

ISBN: 9781612422664

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description:

Four people uncover a secret that has the power to shake the foundation of faith as we know it. Reverend Joshua Barker feels that it is his duty to bring the Word to the oppressed beings on alien worlds, to teach them to repent their sins and cherish the teachings of the Good Book. It’s a noble ambition… until he discovers something that challenges his understanding of everything he believes.

Review: This was a compilation of stories based on the same plot that moves through time as the story line advances. Resnick talks about his writing protégé that pens some of the stories. Oddly, I think that Tina Gower should have written the entire novel as her stories were at once compelling and subtly riveting. She crafts the emotive while delivering the innumerable facets of an alien culture as viewed from a human perspective. 

Where Gower excels at character development, Resnick fails to deliver a meaningful story line with a one dimensional character coupled to halting movement. His anti-hero travels here and there in the universe looking for an alien spiritual connection under the veil of a centuries long cover up. In the end the novel held no interest for me as Gower’s writing is a tough act to follow.