Review: Too Like The Lightning by Ada Palmer

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Publisher: Tor

Publishing Date: May 2016

ISBN:9780765378002

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.6/5

Publishers Description: Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer–a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.

Review:  [In a Helen Mirren type voice]; “Oh, do try to keep up!”

This is the kind of novel that you can’t quickly dismiss for lack of entertainment value for fear the pseudo-intellectuals that have reviewed this folded morass of dialogue will banish you to the hills of Retardo. I say don’t be afraid to place your name tag in the pile of other dimwitted sycophants that secretly enjoy Benny Hill or Zoolander.  Should you find yourself in the drugstore aisle fondling bottles of Pepto then perhaps it is ill advised to even ponder any attempt at reading what can only be described as a liberals dysutopian rendering of a future so far removed from reality that the named descriptions defy cogent reasoning i.e. made up shit-words.

As I continue to read I wonder at my own egocentric impulses to ride this pedantic horse till lathered and spent. If I fail to understand or even reason with the mishmash of worded wonderments, will I be less than zero? Will I have somehow missed the fookin’ Smart Train that rides through clear skies of overwhelming understanding? If I stutter in my attempts to comprehend, will I never gain the secrets of life that allude everyone but the chosen few?

This gets three stars for confusing the fuck out of everyone, and those that pretend otherwise are either godlings, liars or just enjoy bludgeoning narrative.

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Review: Takers by Ann Swan

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Publisher: Ann Swan

Publishing Date: March 2016

ISBN:9781523719952

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.4/5

Publishers Description: When the cosmic fabric separating the dimensions rips open and spits the inhabitants of Purgatory into his hometown, Jack just happens to be below ground, in his school’s basement. It’s the only thing that saves him. The initial rip is so forceful it kills everything above ground, and then the soulless creatures from Purgatory prey on the survivors as they creep out of hiding. Eventually Jack stumbles across a deaf pit bull named Snake. Together they make their way to a safe house in New Mexico. It’s where they will make their final stand. 

Review: I am a bit conflicted about this novel. An interesting story line with good movement that gradually developed the characters through transforming events.  Taken individually, Jack is/was annoying as hell. The reiteration of music, specifically Kansas’ ‘Carry On Wayward Son”, playing in his head that seemingly saves and guides him was repetitive to the point of disgust. Its a big story line crutch that conveniently replaces Deus Ex as a plausible event generator. Can you say “Contrived plot device?”. Still, the supporting characters were interesting and well built, mainly because they didn’t have song artifacts in quotations every time they spoke. There were some minor fails with scene descriptions like boots crunching cigarettes when they were wearing running shoes and an all wheel drive Chrysler 300 that suddenly spins its tires in critical situations. 

I was still engaged throughout the novel and the finite descriptions in each scene lent a broader emotional tapestry to the story line. Usually this slows the movement but was rendered as an effect of the causal action. I am curious to see what the next novel in the series involves as there are some questions not easily answered about the End Game. I rated this a 4 star experience with a half star deduction for dumb Jack and his plot device.

 

Review: Blink by Will Swardstrom

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Publisher: Pew Pew

Publishing Date: February 2016

ISBN:9781523771295

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: DNF

Publishers Description: Agent Smith and the agents of The Utility Company are tasked with the jobs too weird or too strange for other law enforcement agencies. When portals start opening up all around the country from an alternate universe, it’s up to Smith to not only figure out what’s happening, but to put a stop to it. 

Review: This was pretty fun for the first few pages. Then the mirror/portal event shows up in the story line and it is back and forth with the dam mirrors and the pages of internal dialogue.  “What is wrong with me……….its something about those mirrors…….I saw myself blink…….I have to change the mirror…..”.  Now everyone is portal focused and the story line begins to stagnate .  What little movement there is rendered even flatter with the lack of character development.

Besides the obvious shortcomings mentioned, the novel just failed to capture my imagination and I was left flipping the pages to find some sense of the surreal. The cover art doesn’t help either.

 

Review: Mudman by James A. Hunter

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Publisher: Shadow Alley

Publishing Date: March 2016

ISBN: 9781530093250

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: Levi Adams is a soft spoken, middle-aged Mennonite man—at least he tries to be when he’s not murdering people. Levi’s a golem, a Mudman, crafted from the muck, mire, and corpses of a World War II concentration camp—killing is just a part of his DNA. He doesn’t like it, but unfortunately he’s been saddled with a divine commission to dole out judgment on those who shed innocent blood. After seventy years as a cold-blooded murder machine, however, Levi’s trying to change his grisly nature. And the AA meetings and church services are helping. A little. But when he runs across a wounded girl, Sally Ryder, during one of his “hunting expeditions,” he realizes self-help may have to go on the back burner.

Review: This was a dam fun read with plenty of movement coupled with robust characterization. The fight scenes while long, were varied enough in depth to maintain interest.  Sally is a great addition and provides some comic relief in the form of just plain being ornery. The Outworld denizens are creative in design and implementation as is the landscape of that domain. 

“So why you no give 5 stars?!” The backstory montage shtick with Sally and Levi got rather lengthy and consistent and IMO, did not contribute to the story line in any meaningful way. You can still create emotional impact with a brief interlude of someone’s past and oftentimes works better than belaboring their past woes. Plus it adds a bit of mystery to the character. 

The author asks that if you want to read more about conflicted Muddy, then write about it in a review. I say, “Hell yah!” Bring back Sally Ryder as his hunting partner and lets just see how Cain affected her “being”. Get….IT…NOW!!

 

Review: Trapped Within Illusions by E.S. Tilton

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Publisher:  E.S. Tilton

Publishing Date: March 2016

ISBN:9781626769229

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.0/5

Publishers Description: Sarenka awakens chained to a dead man, and the price of freedom is higher than she wants to pay. Forced to eat from dog dishes, she fights to survive against pirates, city guards, assassins, and thieves with only her illusions to hide her. 

Review: This got a big DNF rating when I read the first chapter. Then it sat on my Kindle for awhile just staring at me and when I ran out of books to read and needed to start the review process, I picked it up again. Glad I did as this once insipid and weirdly cloaked beginning starts to make sense as you move through the story line. Very clever writing, almost too clever.

The characters are engaging from Sarenka’s hard worn demeanor and gutter scrabbling survival to D’trav and Parian, two men on quests of their own for different reasons. The really interesting portion of the story line were the different, and I can only assume, genetically altered humans that over time have somehow become distinct species. Shape shifters, telepathic felines, assassins and mind manipulators/illusionists are just a few of the odd presences that abound in this novel. 

“So why you no give 5 stars!?”. There were some spelling and grammar errors throughout and some scene fails where Sarenka (for example) has gold hoops as payment for selling two dogs, then later, she only has a few coppers when robbed and beaten by street urchins. Where did the gold go? Which brings up another point. She is a trained knife fighter (supposedly) yet gets the crap kicked out of her by street toughs while armed. The perfidy continues as she kills a Baron and almost kills a trained soldier and is always ready to enact her deadly arts but constantly gets pummeled. So…which is it? Trained adept killer or hapless street urchin begging for scraps and stealing sausages?? Well lets just say this was a very contradictory character.  Another minor fall down is her constant efforts to leave the city, hence “Trapped“. So just leave. Is the city surrounded by 100 foot walls? The city fronts the sea with plenty of boats and at one point she has full access to one but decides to stay.

This was one long-ass novel yet I am glad of it because it was an enjoyable read. Great character development and world building. I loved Burmtin in all its seedy glory and the myriad species that reside there. Plenty of sex and violence to color the slide into hectic oblivion. Get…..it……now!

 

Review: World of Water by James Lovegrove

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Publisher: Rebellion

Publishing Date: March 2016

ISBN:9781781083055

Genre: SciFi

Rating:3.6/5

Publishers Description: Special agents like Dev Harmer, grievously injured military veteran whose only hope for salvation is to travel from world to world as a professional troubleshooter, his brain patterns beamed into cloned host bodies, until he has earned enough credit to return home and be restored to full health.

Review: The idea that brain patterns can be beamed into cloned bodies is great, as it opens up alien interactions and cultures while creating a great platform for world building. The movement was constant with threatening alien life forms and militaristic interventions. 

The novel was a bit weak on justifying (scientifically) how a once frozen solid planet is now completely covered in water and supports a profundity of life. Captain Maddoxs’ character as well as some of his marines came off more “Marvel Comic” than true to life. There was quite a bit of spelling and grammatical errors which didn’t detract from the novel too much. Additionally the Commlink conversations were annoying as there were no breaks to indicate who was speaking; and when conversing with the alien Tritonian’s, the font changed to this weird unreadable glyph

In its entirety, this was a fun, fast paced read that leaves me wanting (strangely) more.

 

 

Review: Academy of Secrets by Michael Carney

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Publisher: Createspace

Publishing Date: February 2016

ISBN: 9781530161034

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.1/5

Publishers Description: It’s the year 1610. The world is in grave danger if a long-missing artifact falls into the hands of the Academy of Secrets, a group whose members have gained unnatural powers through alchemy. And Chrymos, a young woman with a mysterious past, may hold the key. For Chrymos, scrabbling out a wretched living on the streets of Renaissance Naples, the Academy represents a chance to gain special powers and make a difference in the world. But can she leave behind all the people that she cares about? 

Review: That cover art could use a big reset.

Chrymos is a wonderful character. Well developed, with an intriguing story-line that follows her journey from gutter-snipe to….well I can’t tell you, that would be giving too much away. Where the novel falls down are the chapters that detail the assemblage of outcast angels and their lame council. Way too much effort went into characters that really lacked depth and on the whole, seemed like novel filler. If the author had kept Chrymos’ storyline the main focal point and had the outcasts interacting and enhancing her storyline this would have been an easy 5 stars. 

Sometimes less is more and in this case would have been better served.  The world building is outstanding, especially Nekbets realm as it leaks into the 17th century. As it is, a solid three stars with some robust page flipping.