Review : Thinning The Herd by Adrian Phoenix



Publisher: Pocket
Publishing Date: January 2016
Genre : Fantasy
Rating : 3.5/5

Publisher  Description : Someone is picking off fortune tellers and hippies in Oregon, snatching them out of their Birkenstocks mid-stride. And when the legend himself, Hal Rupert, Animal Control Officer, gets a whiff of the mystery, he knows he’s the man to solve it. In between proudly wrangling out-of-control cats and dogs, he’s noticed a peculiar uptick in another sort of animal…werewolves.

Review : That cover is hideous and should be burned before it injures somebody.

Hal (the hero) read like Ash Williams in Army of Darkness where he has a grandiose idea of who he his and backs it up.  With his cat and wolf shifting friends and his would be love, Goth Girl, Desmedona they take on a supernatural threat to the people of Eugene/Springfield.

I had a good time reading this. The characters were well built and developed well with the story line. Definitely not to be taken seriously as it is fairly glib and at times has very pointed humor. Note to author: A handguns trigger is not cocked, the hammer is.

Review: Home World by Bonnie Milani


Publisher: Promontory

Publishing Date: October 2015

ISBN: 9781927559239

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.6/5

Publisher Description: Centuries of ruinous war have left Earth little more than a dusty tourist world within the star-flung Commonwealth she founded. Now, amid the ruins of a post-apocalyptic Hawaii, Jezekiah Van Buren has found a way to restore Earth – Home World to the other worlds of the Commonwealth – to her lost glory.

Review: This was a long novel, which is a good thing in our serialized culture. Jezekiah is next in line for the protectorship of Earth and machinates an alliance with a race of powerful lycans. He only has to get his crazy, murderous sister to marry the head Lycan in order to seal the deal.

The character development is good as the novel is long, so there is plenty of movement to accommodate even the bit players. Letticia is a wonderfully funny, crazy and scarey character whom is constantly seeking to kill Jezekiah in order to be next in line. Some of the characters didn’t ring true, or fell a little flat due to an exorbitant amount of focus, for little return. For instance, Mote, aka Keiko Yakamoto is super speshul. Grandfather Ho seeks to use her, Jezekiah and the Lycan want to bang her, the Security chief has a daddy complex for her, General Yakamoto lends her grief and Letticia wants to kill her.

The world building is pretty good, considering that the story line is set entirely on Earth. There is no alien planet starhopping or bizarre aliens to contend with, just genetically enhanced humans made for diverse environments.

A very good read that could have used a dose of adventure to limit the emotive interactions.

Review: First Circle Club by Alex Siegel


Publisher: Smith Publicity

Publishing Date: September 2015

ISBN: 9781517544737

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.2/5

Publisher Description: When Virgil is betrayed and murdered, he thinks his days of catching fugitives as a U.S. Marshal are over. He is condemned to an eternity of filing paperwork in the First Circle of Hell. Then a demon lord gives Virgil an unprecedented assignment. He will return to Earth as part of a team: two souls from Heaven and two from Hell.

Review: Not much to say about this novel. It was a fun and engaging read. The characters are well developed and grow within the story line. The world building is first rate and captures the imagination.




Review: Horizon by Tabitha Lord


Publisher: Wise Ink

Publishing Date: December 2015

ISBN: 9781940014791

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.6/5

Publisher Description: Caeli Crys isn’t living—she’s surviving. On the run after the genocide of her empathic people, she witnesses a spaceship crash near her hidden camp. When she feels the injured pilot suffering from miles away, she can’t help but risk discovery to save his life.

Review: Caeli Crys is….you guessed it, Speshul. She’s always blushing or being demur, quiet, thoughtful, brilliant, beautiful, strong and giving. Not to say people cant have those qualities but there is never anything wrong with Caeli. She can heal with her mind and empathically read others minds as well (so she can speak alien languages in a few seconds). Her only downside is the rage she feels for others subjugating her people. Wah?

So as per the recent pattern of romantic novels that try to be SciFi or thriller or fantasy, we get hunky space man Derek, whom she saves with her MIND and soon they are on his spaceship banging each other amongst the stars. Caeli is so great that she endears herself to suspecting crew members and saves everyone with her MIND. The characters are not deeply developed enough with the movement so their antics are rendered flat. The scene progression is all about Caeli with some infusion of new characters that are also uninteresting. The world building is finite, meaning some names of other aliens(?) are thrown out there but they are human?? “Actually” was used 30x which is not the most that I have encountered but is getting up there.

The ending is a kind of cliffhanger or in this case, unresolved spew that hints at a series of MIND numbing journeys featuring Caeli the speshul and her douchebag boyfriend, Derek the Dumb.


Review: Dragonflies by Andy Straka


Publisher: Fountain Hill

Publishing Date: July 2015

ISBN: 9780984843886

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.2/5

Publisher Description: Former Army helicopter pilot Raina Sanchez, grounded after being shot down and desperate to be back in the air, plunges into a brave new world of stealth-killing micro-drones. 

Review: Raina used to fly helicopters and you will be reminded of this, constantly. Between the flashbacks and the pining of her lost foot you will be bludgeoned with her almost otherworldly abilities. She has a hunky SF dude that saved her life in Afghanistan that she has the hots for, and they both just happen to be working for the same shadow organization.

There were some plot holes that were not adequately explained. For instance, Raina gets kidnapped for the second time and they whisk her away. Meanwhile, Tye (lol) is watching this all go down, and suddenly is able to track her to a mobile unit in which she is trying out new tech in order to pass the kill test. Later, the authors try to make sense of this passage in an interlude and fail to resolve anything. So Tye steals a truck where she is being kept (why would he need one if he followed her in something??) and a laughable shootout ensues where Tye shoots people through the neck while driving one handed with a fugging Beretta pistol.

Then we have Major Williamson that always finishes his sentences with “That is on a need to know basis”, or “I have my sources/connections”. Why would Tye and Raina continue to work for someone that wont tell them anything while they are being shot at and abducted? Got me. Well, never fear, Williamson kind of tells them more about the situation they face, and like good little robots they follow him blindly. See, the bad people kidnapped Raina’s brother who hates the military but somehow knows that there are micro drones out there assassinating people. But despite their differences, Raina loves him, well, like a brother. Fug. Really? 

I get that Williamson is Cloak and Daggery and he provides the story line with a slow reveal. Excessive and not too believable? Probably. I get that Tye and Raina are hooked up together in this, but the blind allegiance is laughable. The tech is there (MAV’s) but is never fully described or explained. You just have to accept that the tech is viable. The flashbacks that Raina and Tye have are unnecessary and hinder the flow of the story line. Most of the characters don’t fully develop as expected with the movement, so you don’t come to give a shjt about them. The only thing that develops is Tye’s erection and Raina’s tingling naughty bits.

This lost a star due to the spelling and grammatical errors that plague the novel throughout. Read this at your Grandmas and her 38 cats.



Review: Jungle Jim and the Shadows of Kinabalu


Publisher: Troubador

Publishing Date: October 2015

ISBN: 9781784626402

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.0/5

Publisher Description: ‘Jungle’ Jim swings into action in his first exciting adventure, as the superpowered simian tries to shed some light on the mysterious Shadows of Kinabalu. 

Review: Pretty fun romp through fantasy land built for the YA crowd. It kept me reading which may reflect on my shallow perceptions. A lot of light hearted fun to be had.



Review: Eleanor and the Iron King by Julie Daines


Publisher: Covenant

Publishing Date: August 2015

ISBN: 9781680472370

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.8/5

Publisher Description: Eleanor de Lacy has been bartered: her hand in marriage in exchange for a truce with her father’s sworn enemy. Now the headstrong beauty must leave her ancestral home and the man she secretly loves to become the wife of the infamous Welsh King Brach Goch. 

Review: Eleanor jumps to conclusions based on scant evidence throughout the novel. She blames Brach for killing her brother and raiding her homeland yet can’t resolve her feelings for the King. He’s nice to her and reasonable whereas her father deals in cruelty. So yeah, Eleanor is dumb about most things yet it is this seesawing of emotion coupled with blind insight that gives the novel its depth. 

The movement is really well done and builds the characters in spectacular fashion. Most of the time you are cheering for Eleanor to get a clue and the slow reveal of the Welsh King’s personality is almost maddening. Owain, Anise and Gil are great supporting characters that lend dumbass a hand at pivotal points in the storyline.

I really expected this novel to expand as the world building potential is high. Sadly, this was not intended to be an epic adventure but rather about a woman’s gradual enlightenment. Still, good writing and story telling to be had.



Review: Down Pinhole by Glenn Cooper


Publisher: Lascaux Media

Publishing Date: July 2015

ISBN: 9781515040842

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.4/5

Publisher Description: DOWN – Pinhole is the first book of an explosive new trilogy by international bestselling author, Glenn Cooper. A cross between DANTE’S INFERNO and GAME OF THRONES, DOWN is part historical thriller and part fantasy-adventure, a thought-provoking, page-turning, epic saga that explores the consequences of evil and transports readers to a world unlike any they have ever experienced. 

Review: I almost shjt canned this novel as the beginning read like another author hoping for a movie deal. Like a well worn script, it was formulaic and tired.  BUT, it gets good, really good. After a collider experiment goes wrong, John Camp goes looking for his hot (of course) Scottish physicist babe in hell. Only, in her place is a serial killer that subsequently escapes to rampage.

The author does a great job pulling pieces of our disparate history together to make a thought provoking read. He just doesn’t throw a bunch of famous people at you to make the story line, but rather utilizes  very good movement to develop the characters as they go from kingdom to kingdom in search of Emily. Hell is mostly ruled by cruel historical despots, but you would expect that in hell. I liked that some of the characters are influenced by John and Emily’s presence, enough to grasp what little humanity they have left. It is a poignant iteration that all may seek redemption in spite of their past actions.

The ending is meh. So much so meh that it lost a star. I guess everyone wants to make a series of novels to capitalize. Avoid the authors website as it looks like a Dan Brown alter where you kneel for the privilege to bathe in the waters of brilliance.



Review: Heirs of Empire by Evan Currie


Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date: September 2015

ISBN: 9781503946903

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.9/5

Publisher Description: The Scourwind family legacy brought the empire to the height of its power and prosperity and defended it against all enemies. Now one man’s machinations aim to shift the balance of power—with violent and devastating consequences.

Review:  Nice cover art.

Oh boy, we have a super speshul alert! Prince and Princess twinsy Scourdouchewing, Lydia and Brennan. Brennan, that lovable scamp, can fly anything in the air better than the bestest pilot, like in ever. He’s young but can break grown men’s necks if he wants to. See, there’s a trick. Its harder NOT to break their necks than to just kill them. Princess Lydia, or “Lyd” is hotter than a popcorn fart, is “scarily” brilliant and can snap kick your ass to hell in a second. Hate them yet? Oh, you will.

So, one dude named Corian somehow takes a ragtag group of defectors and steals the most secret and devastating attack ship in the world…. Yeahhhh, right. He has lost an eye and a leg so I guess he is now a pirate. Argh?? So then pages and pages of backstory ensue with a lot of command decisions made by super woman, er…..Mira Delsol, one of the Imperial Cadre “…a fighting force unmatched in the empire, lavished with the highest levels of training….and culled from bloodlines that…”. Fug .

What drove this novel into the dirt was not only the smug twins jocularity in the face of danger and the lengthy backstory throughout but the constant phrasing to expedite scene development.  For example. Said: darkly, softly (x 32), tightly, firmly, sarcastically, simply, calmly, amiably, pleasantly, slowly, idly, (to name a few) was so overused that it left scenes flat and under-developed. 

If you could see me I am “Grimacing slightly” while “Growling (x24)”.



Review: Straight by the Rules by Michelle Scott


Publisher: Carina

Publishing Date: October 2015

ISBN: 9781474045889

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.5/5

Publisher Description: I’m Lilith Straight, the Devil’s servant. You’d think that it would be straightforward, wouldn’t you? Carry out the Devil’s work, that’s all: wreak havoc and cause carnage on Earth…

Review: “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…Wha?, oh yeah”. This novel tries too hard to be witty, funny, sarcastic and cute yet just can’t seem to pull it off. The characters are one dimensional and rely on patterned roles to entertain. There is nothing unique about them. Ariel, that cute little scamp, likes henna tattoos, Goth-ware and French fries with mayo and Tommy. Lilith, a succubus with a heart of gold who is constantly rolling her eyes, has a list of to-do’s that include destroying Helen and getting out of her contractual obligations. Her hot incubus man-love (whom she has not hooked up with yet after 7 months-odd for a single mother succubus) always has a sparkle, twinkle, smolder or something in his eyes. Fug. 

Everything is about Lilith which leaves the story line more than flat and renders  what could be wonderful world building into boring scene development. While the writing is technically good (I have a Masters!!) the novel lacks in creative world building. The movement is almost non-existent and was never utilized to develop the characters to their full potential.

Read this while being pestered by a 5 year old sociopath.