Review: Black Magic Academy by Emily Martha Sorensen

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Publisher: Emily Martha Sorensen

Publishing Date: January 2012

ISBN: 9781468081497

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.4/5

 

Publishers Description: Mildred doesn’t like black magic. But her mother was once valedictorian of Black Magic Academy, so her aunts insist she needs to follow in her footsteps and become one too. 

 Review: This was a fun, short read. I liked the characters and the premise. The novel would have been much better served had the world building been expanded and movement utilized to create a greater depth of character development. This may have been due to the YA bent of the novel. 

The storyline was good as was the writing. I look forward to more from this author and their “world”.

Review: The Awakening by Adair Hart

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Publisher: Quantum Edge

Publishing Date: September 2015

ISBN: 9780996717205

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.4/5

 

Publishers Description: A heavily damaged alien research vessel in the Andromeda galaxy is hurtling toward a planet. The aliens should not be there. They have been traveling through space and time, abducting apex predators and sticking them in virtual simulations for research. The problem is the virtual simulations are powering down, unleashing the specimens on the ship.

 Review: This was a fun read. Lots of aliens from across the multi-verse, unleashed to run amok in an alien research vessel. There were some hiccups with scene progression that you often wondered “how did I get here?”…from there, but overall not too distracting. The characters developed marginally as the movement stole the show as the storyline focus. I look forward to the Evaran chronicles to see whether or not this series adds some much needed grit.

 

Review: Pawns Gambit by Timothy Zahn

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Publisher: Open Road

Publishing Date: January 2016

ISBN: 9781504016209

Genre: SciFI/Fantasy

Rating: 2.8/5

 

Publishers Description: The pieces included in Pawn’s Gambit range from the adventure science fiction Timothy Zahn is famous for to post-apocalyptic tales and humorous fantasy. In “The Price of Survival,” an alien ship arrives in our solar system without hostile intentions—but with a desperate need that could destroy humanity. “The Giftie Gie Us” is set in a post-apocalyptic United States, in which two lonely survivors find love among the ruins. And in the title story, a human and his alien opponent face off over a game that will decide which one of them will return home—and which will not. This collection also includes the Hugo Award–winning novella Cascade Point and eight stories previously unpublished in book form. 

 Review: A collection of old short-fiction stories that “launched” the career of the author. Self-aggrandizement where is thy sting? Some were good, some were so-so.   Pretty average fair when you add in a lot of phrasing to expedite the scenes (said softly, growled and murmured). Get it, don’t get it, no one will care.

 

Review: Drake by Peter McLean

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Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date: January 2016

ISBN: 9780857665126

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.6/5

 

Publishers Description: Hitman Don Drake owes a gambling debt to a demon. Forced to carry out one more assassination to clear his debt, Don unwittingly kills an innocent child and brings the Furies of Greek myth down upon himself. Rescued by an almost-fallen angel called Trixie, Don and his magical accomplice The Burned Man, an imprisoned archdemon, are forced to deal with Lucifer himself whilst battling a powerful evil magician.

 Review: Drake reminds me of an old hard-boiled detective and the setting is reminiscent of said era. Only the hot blonde is a fallen angel that is charged with killing the Furies and a tiny demon familiar called the “Burned Man” that expedites assassinations and suckles blood from his chest.

Fug, this was good. The movement is non-stop and the characters, myriad. The author does a great job developing characters that reside in a fantastic world. I WANT MORE!

 

Review: The Tea Machine (preview) by Gill McKnight

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Publisher: Ylva

Publishing Date: November 2015

ISBN: 9783955334321

Genre: SciFi

Rating: NR

 

Publishers Description: London 1862, and Millicent Aberly, spinster by choice, has found her future love—in the future! She meddled with her brother’s time machine and has been catapulted into an alternative world where the Roman Empire has neither declined nor fell. In fact, it has gone on to annex most of the known universe.

 Review: This is a preview that is somehow supposed to render itself salable through 3 or so chapters. Its generally about two lesbians (one hot and one manly) that interact through time/universes from the Victorian age to some future era where there are spaceships and space squid.

Read this if you want your bloodline cursed for many generations.

 

Review: Destroyer (#2) by Brett Battles

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Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date: January 2016

ISBN: 9781503951594

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.2/5

 

Publishers Description: With the whole of human history altered, Denny Younger may be the last rewinder in existence—and the last person on earth with a chaser unit capable of time travel. While caring for his ailing sister, Denny must discover a way to recharge his device before he’s left with no defense against a past that wants him dead.

 Review: This is still a fun read but readers of the first novel beware. There are even bigger plot holes in this installment. Lidia is on the loose (how? I have no idea) and wants to exact revenge on Denny for taking their original world away. A good follow up to “Rewinder” with the usual 6 foot Denny getting his ass kicked by a hundred pound gurl.

 

Review: Rewinder by Brett Battles

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Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date: July 2015

ISBN: 9781477830833

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Publishers Description: You will never read Denny Younger’s name in any history book, but the world as you know it wouldn’t be the same without him. Denny was born into one of the lowest rungs of society, but his bleak fortunes changed the day the mysterious Upjohn Institute recruited him. The role: “verifier of personal histories.” The job title: Rewinder. After accepting the offer, Denny discovers he’ll have to do his research in person…by traveling through time.

Review: This was a fun read. The characters were entertaining, although they lacked depth in places but overall Denny seemed to grow with the movement. There are a lot of plot holes as mentioned by numerous reviewers but this failed to limit the fun I had reading this (teenagers impacting time events, choices not obvious to the characters that have better outcomes, world building constraints etc. ). 

If you want fun within the bounds of alternate history, get this.

 

Review: City of Light by Keri Arthur

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Publisher: Signet

Publishing Date: January 2016

ISBN: 9780451473509

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5

 

Publishers Description: When the bombs that stopped the species war tore holes in the veil between this world and the next, they allowed entry to the Others—demons, wraiths, and death spirits who turned the shadows into their hunting grounds. Now, a hundred years later, humans and shifters alike live in artificially lit cities designed to keep the darkness at bay….

 Review: The world building and the story line were fantastic. Rift portals, vampires, shifter soldiers, underground bunkers and a world still recovering from a decimating war. Tiger is a Dechet, a genetically designed human(?) that is part shifter, vampire and white tiger, blended to make an inviting lure for opposing foes. She can talk to ghosts, particulate her body, draw light or darkness to herself in order to disappear, morph her body, telepath your ass and is immune to poison. 

Initially, this novel had some major info dumping issues at the beginning to get the motor started yet quickly settled into good character development with some fantastic movement. This had a good scifi vibe until “Magic” started being thrown around with earth witches and her own abilities to become particulate. I don’t know if “feeling the magic” is another way of saying she is utilizing her own genetic abilities or is using something externally. Most likely the former. Perhaps Nuri the earth witch was genetically modified as well, yet the details were never revealed.

Where this lost a star was the phrasing utilized to expedite the scenes. “Softly” was used 50 times and murmured (20x).  Throughout this novel, Tiger is constantly in an erotic state. Even when facing dire circumstances she manages to notice his smell or the “luscious contact when he touches her hand or his grip seeping into her body flushing the chill”. Fug. Additionally the grammatical errors were fairly consistent. The novel hints at Tiger going it alone, which bodes well as we can truly see her in an independent light without all the gushing tingles and heated pheromone desire from Jonas’ touch.

 

Review: Steal The Sky by Megan E. O’Keefe

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Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date: January 2016

ISBN:9780857664914

Genre: SciFi Steampunk

Rating: 4.7/5

 Publishers Description: Detan Honding, a wanted conman of noble birth and ignoble tongue, has found himself in the oasis city of Aransa. He and his trusted companion Tibs may have pulled off one too many cons against the city’s elite and need to make a quick escape. They set their sight’s on their biggest heist yet – the gorgeous airship of the exiled commodore Thratia. 

 Review: Holy shjtballz this was good. The storyline and world building were impeccable as were the depth of the characters that inhabited it. I am really looking forward to more from this author.

 

Review: Love The Witch Hate The Craft by Nora Lee

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Publisher: Masterful

Publishing Date: October 2015

ISBN:9781517761738

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.4/5

 Publishers Description: When Rowan Middlebrook left Secret Hallow for college, she swore she would never return home. It’s not that she doesn’t like her hometown. It’s just kinda weird there, what with the eternal autumn thing, the hauntings, and…oh yeah, all the witchcraft.

 Review: I am on the fence with this one. Most of the novel was complete drivel. Rowan, our reluctant hottie hero, lacked depth as did all her cohorts. The storyline was rushed, and where a mystery could have easily been inserted, in its place was a mundane love triangle and a dying tree. Epithets or exclamations were adolescent outbursts that sought to bring a “witchy” vibe to the dialogue. “Oh cauldron/goblins”, “Oh my pumpkins!” and “Oh, dragon eggs” were a few unmemorable moments. 

The idea that a college girl that has been gone for 6 years has no contact with her world traveling parents is ridiculous. If you’re estranged, then yes but she gets all her info about her parents from her Grandma. Rowan constantly is sniffing out the musky sweat scent of men while denying her birthright yet fights for her place as the leader of the coven. Huh?

Despite all the negatives, this was well written. The writer has talent yet trended the novels as a serialization rather than putting in real effort to make a substantive novel. Insert a mystery, create some character depth through movement and quite possibly you have a winner.