Review: The Bound Folio by Rob J. Hayes

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Publisher: Ragnarok

Publishing Date: June 2016

ISBN:9781941987605

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: The world is full of heroes, villains, and all the shades in between. The Bound Folio tells their stories from the tortured childhood of the legendary Blademaster the Sword of the North, to the humble origins of the Queen of the Five Kingdoms, to the death of one of the world’s greatest assassins.  

Review: I usually am not in to short stories due to the truncated effect yet may have turned a new leaf after reading The Bound Folio.  Really well done. Each story was compelling and quickly binds the reader with a depth of characterization tied to compressed movement within an incredible story line. Really makes you want to read all that this author has to offer. 

“SO WHY YOU NO GIVE 5 STAR!!!” Short stories are too abrupt to give novel length review ratings. In this case I can almost guarantee that his other work will bury you deep into the night.

 

Review: A Night Without Stars by P. Hamilton

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Publisher: Del Rey

Publishing Date: September 2016

ISBN:9780345547224

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.5/5

Publishers Description: With the Fallers’ numbers growing, and their ability to mimic humans allowing them to infiltrate all levels of society, it’s only a matter of time before they surge to victory. Then, on a routine space flight, Major Ry Evine inadvertently frees a captive vessel that crash-lands on Bienvenido carrying the last, best hope for human survival: a baby. But a far from ordinary one.

Review: This was a pretty good SciFi novel that follows a self-exiled man, Florian, descended from “Eliters” that have enhanced abilities. Florian is tasked to take care of a baby from a crashed starship that houses an artificial intelligence. Once taking custody he is chased by Governmental fascists, criminal elements and alien “Fallers” that want to destroy the baby that may herald a new world.

The world building and character development in this novel was fantastic. Each personae is built with consideration and even the alien “Fallers” have a developed sense of self, combined with an almost sociopathic hive mind that came off creepy as heck.  The technology of the Commonwealth was very believable and places you in a plausible situation that is almost daunting in its clarity. Reminded me of reading Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” where you can almost, but not quite touch the advanced technology that it soon creates a yearning within. It is that visceral.

“SO WHY YOU NO GIVE 5 STARS!?”.  There were one too many instances of phrasing where “He grumbled” or “murmured” or “growled” was used to expedite the dialogue without having to build the scenes. Additionally, the word “actually” was used 115 times. Fug me. Still, a riveting novel despite my shjtpicking.

Review: The Conclave of Shadow (#2) by Alyc Helms

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Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date: July 2016

ISBN: 9780857665195

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.2/5

Publishers Description: Ever since she saved the spirit guardians of China by selling out to her worst enemy, Missy Masters — a.k.a. the pulp hero Mr. Mystic — has been laying low. But when knights serving the Conclave of Shadow steal secret technology from a museum exhibit on the Argent Aces, everyone looks to Mr. Mystic for help. If Missy doesn’t want her masquerade blown, she’d better track down the thieves, and fast.

Review: Like the first novel, the format generally follows a scrambled story line and extremely boring characters that love themselves more than providing a novel that is just and credible. Every scene is a heightened morass of over-the-top characterization that ultimately leaves a gaping hole in your psyche as it renders every interaction flat and without purpose. Clenching hands, gritting teeth and flashing eyes do not a character make.  Of course every one is beautiful and can become other ” dragon thingies” but since you’re lost in backstory land most of the time while attempting to discern present circumstances, your left with guessing what role is being played and by whom. 

Additionally, phrasing was heavily used to expedite scene development (murmur, murmuring, murmured 24x) as well as shiver, shivered and shivering. 

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Review: The Poisoned Quarrel by Duncan Lay

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Publisher: Momentum

Publishing Date: June 2016

ISBN:9781760302511

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.8/5

Publishers Description: Fallon and Bridgit are reunited at last, but time is still against them. Having evaded treachery, escaped slavery, and thwarted a hostile invasion, they now find themselves in the eye of a ferocious military and political storm. 

Review: Well perfect, speshul, loving, level-headed, hot, pregnant, smart, spit and vinegar Idjit……er Bridgit is back. Showcasing her extra-speshulness as a commoner Queen. Well lets just say it, she’s the Queen or should be. But, she is so fair and honest that rather than make all the decisions for a country (she does anyway) she converts that trust into a voting council. Oh, altruism let your farts be named Bridgit. So we know from past reviews on this series that I despise Bridgit’s character as being ” too good to be true” which it usually is. All the women in this novel are mostly of the Bridgit variety (just put different colored hair on them) or super-hot (but evil) with designs on a/the Kingdom.  Weird world building dichotomy, but there it is. 

I said I was done reviewing this series but here I am, suckered and poled. No, really, I just absentmindedly requested this without discerning the content. Anywaaay, this was really not too bad. Yeah, there is Bridgit and “growled” was used 32x to evidence expediting scenes without development among other phrasing vehicles. Fallon really carries the day for me. Yeah sure the self-guilt wears a bit, but he can shrug it off when the need arises which brings us to the movement. There is no lack of it and really helps to develop the characters and build the story line as the characters need all the help they can get.  Meh.

Review: Other Hands by Thomas James

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Publisher: North Loop

Publishing Date: June 2016

ISBN:9781634139953

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.5/5

Publishers Description: The distress call is only a fragment, but it is clear that the starship Telemachus needs help. Well-known pilot and astronaut Jeremy Crane is sent to rescue–or recover–the stranded crew. Ninety-two light-years away on Earth-like New California, Crane finds not one, but two intelligent humanoid species. There he discovers a new love, a new faith, and a secret “Message” that could save humankind. He also runs head on into deception, intrigue, and murder, all the while confronting his own personal demons.

Review: This was a pretty good idea yet was truncated, perhaps by design. The story-line is rather abrupt and fails to develop in any meaningful way. We are quickly brought into an alien landscape where everyone readily accepts an alien culture and language without reserve. There is no sense of discovery within this alien sphere and the world building is discarded for a mundane mystery.

The characters were woefully underdeveloped due to the sporadic movement, and whatever ills befall them leaves you unconcerned as you never cared about them in the first place. Crane as a character fails on every level and never lives up to being a space hero.  The sinister plot is simplistic and lacked credibility. Additionally the ending is abrupt and leaves a lot of room for a sequel but you won’t give a shjt as the novel taken in its entirety is as boring as contemplating Lent.

This novel needed a big re-boot with a universe expanded to encompass this alien addition.  An in depth immersion in an alien culture would have built an incredible storyline coupled to intense movement (sinister plot building). With little effort in building this world the characters would have been pulled along and developed admirably.

Review: The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by M. McClung

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Publisher: Ragnarok

Publishing Date: June 2016

ISBN: 9781941987629

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: A nightmare assortment of enemies—including an immortal assassin and a mad sorcerer—believe Amra is in possession of The Blade That Whispers Hate, the legendary, powerful artifact her friend was murdered for. And Amra’s enemies will do anything to take it.  

Review: This is another novel in a series featuring Amra Thetys, a scarred and accomplished thief whom often finds herself at the center of the otherworldly. How am I just learning about this author and this series? I feel like I have lost out on the preceding adventures of Amra that I am on the verge of emailing the author to send preceding copies. Buuuut, that never works as they always ignore my missives. 

The characters are varied and interesting as is the story line that is woven in a fanciful light coupled with the dark and foreboding . This process really drags you into the novel and leaves you wanting more. The magic is not over the top and edges on the practical making the novel more realistic in delivery. I need another heapin’ helpin’ of this series to satisfy my burgeoning craves for a good serial read.

“So why you no give 5 stars!!!?”. Way too many grammatical errors.

Review: Jacked by Kirk Dougal

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Publisher: Ragnarok

Publishing Date: May 2016

ISBN:9781941987896

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.3/5

Publishers Description: He can repair technology just by touching it. That’s a dangerous thing to be in a world after The Crash, an event that left millions dead or little more than empty, mindless shells. In the aftermath, a new regime hunts down technology and destroys machines with ruthless zeal, even executing fixers like Tar.

And Tar has caught their attention.

Review: Surprisingly good post-apoc/YA novel with plenty of movement that carries the characters through a well thought out story line.  Tar is speshul in that he can fix dead tech and eventually runs into trouble with the Black Shirts that want nothing more than to purge every scrap of tech and the people that harbor it. 

While the overall world building was good, there was a heavy reliance on Deus Ex to expedite tense situations. Every escape just happens to have a concealed door or a tech lock that only Tar can operate with his touch sense. The gang that eventually helps them has a moral code and high ethics which works out well for Tar and his friend as, again, it vaults their eventual escape. This might have garnered an easy 4 stars yet was held back by a multitude of miraculous escapes, especially in near death situations. Still, a good short read.