Review: The Ballad of Elva and Chester by Adrian Archangelo

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Publisher: Wildblue Press

Publishing Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9781942266679

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.6/5

Publishers Description: Elva and Chester are space aliens who look like humans but have been on Earth since the year 1100 with the goal of helping humanity develop more empathy and compassion. (The rest of the beings in the galaxy don’t want us flying around out there until we do.) The duo have no human habits to contend with, but they are extraordinarily responsive to chocolate and hold it in special regard. However, Elva and Chester find human behavior baffling, and continually see their plans twisted by human responses.

Review: This was really dumb. The storyline tries too hard to follow in the steps of Douglas Adams but never really reaches the absurd where that type of writing needs to be. Elva and Chester are not believable as characters, because after about 1,000 years they have not changed and are still pretty ignorant about humans. So we go back in time, with them and their overlords to review all of their blunders throughout history. YAY!

Well how to fix this. The author has some great wit and insight that is pretty funny but is ruined by Elva and Chester blundering around like blind puppies. Focus on the observational wit, make our two aliens either completely absurd or at the very least, embracing growth through temporal experience. They are not robots because they are alien so throw out the one dimensionality and you might have a fun novel.

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Review: Wizardry Goes Wild by Sunayna Prasad

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Publisher: Trafford

Publishing Date: February 2016

ISBN: 9781490770215

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.4/5

Publishers Description: After months of living a normal life, thirteen-year-old Alyssa McCarthy faces magic again. Only this time, though, she is cursed with it, thanks to an old depressed skeleton named Errol. Alyssa’s time with her godfather, Alex, will never be the same again, as she can perform sorcery, but never control it. From letting out enchantments at school to creating outdoor disasters, Alyssa is bound to face consequences. She can only get rid of her powers if she can boost her confidence levels and improve her bravery.

Review: I must have missed a big fattie being passed around the campfire. Like the feeling you get when everyone around you is high and having a good time and you’re the unwanted designated driver.

This was written for middle grade-ish brats, yet I have a feeling it would sail under their little myopic heads. Almost every sentence in this story could have ended with “…and one time at band camp..”. Stilted sentence structure, weak and jumbled scene progression and really poor character development were just a few of the problems with Wizardry Goes Wild. Alyssa is, you guessed it, super-speshul and runs around creating shjt out of thin air while denying her magical ability.<Panting>…”She just has to get more confident in order to control her magic that showed up late in life as most kids get their magic early and master it by her age <takes deep breath> and oh my, there’s a dragon I created and it’s slavering and my little dog is whining and barking at it and, and, and ONE TIME AT BAND CAMP.

Review: Jerusalem Fire by Rebecca Meluch

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Publisher: DAW

Publishing Date:  December 2016 (1985)

ISBN: 9780756412203

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.3/5

Publishers Description: The captain was a notorious rebel runner. To most of the known galaxy he was a legend without a face, to the rest, a face without a name. He was called Alihahd. “He left.” It was the word Na’id enforcers heard when they demanded to know where the rebel had gone—always one step ahead—as if he knew his enemy very well. Hero, villain, coward. Three times a legend on both sides of the same war. 

Review: The publishers description and the cover do not even remotely describe or resemble this novel.  This was more about the internal struggles of a man coping with a past while residing on an alien planet within an alien culture. The aliens take up a large portion of the story line, and a particular human whom has embraced the alien path and discarded humanity.  The writing is unique in that there are gaps in the human and alien interactions that leaves you wanting for resolution. It forces you to let go and move on, much like life. While the ‘why’s’ are tumbling around your head, the world building, while in a specific place, embraces a descriptive narrative that pulls you into that alien world. The character development is exemplary and builds well with the movement. 

“So why you no give 5 stars?”. There were quite a few holes in the story line that were never filled or adequately explained. When Alihahd wrecks in space and is picked up by a swashbuckling rebel, he is drunk. How does he drink a bottle of wine while in a  vacuum sealed spacesuit? Also it is never even mentioned why the rebel picked him up, floating in space or how in the heck he even knew he was there, let alone finding a planet that has been lost for 2,000 years. Why did a rabbit eared alien, all of a sudden start chewing on Alihahd’s  leg? Did his past catch up with him?  Who are the familiars, what is their purpose and where do they come from? This novel poses a lot of questions that may never be answered. Still, really well done SciFi.

Review: The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

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Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date: August 2016

ISBN: 9780857665560

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.2/5

Publishers Description: On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself. 

Review: “Don’t cram it all in at the same time boy, you’ll choke yerself.  And save some room for desert.” I always say “feed the reader” yet in this case I was so bloated with backstory, world building and forced character development that by the third chapter I threw up (figuratively).  Every paragraph is this forced combination of backstory under an existing scenario. This forced attempt at delivering a panoramic story line leaves the character development wanting in a big way. ” Yar Har! The shadow moved and I plunged my black sword (built by the finest smith in the 3 worlds, under the tainted moon of Ragnar for its indelible power and a blade that never dulls), as he stepped from the shadows I saw that it was MaiKai and heard the sizzling of flesh as he self-healed, yet he still carried a limp from when he could not heal as at that time he had no Umibato sensei goddess that would empower his feeble male-mind into and from the 4 realms of Diagathar in the southern hemisphere where I found the holy scabbard of UL……” You get the picture?

Additionally can you say “Man-hater?”. This author either hates men or loves herself. I am thinking both, as men are portrayed as stupid rape-able objects throughout the whole novel. Really sickening perspective. I get that novels, especially war and conquest novels have that element as it lends authenticity to the story line but constantly using this as a story line vehicle got old, real fast. Read this while looking for a trout in a herring barrel.

Review: The Catcher’s Trap by Ricardo Henriquez

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Publisher: Inkshares

Publishing Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9781942645047

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.4/5

Publishers Description: Andres never lived up to his potential. While young, handsome and smart, his life-long struggle with anxiety turned him into a recluse, afraid to step out of his comfort zone. That is, until the night he is kidnapped — seized into an alternate universe and sold into slavery.

Review: This was a bizarre take on not-hell, scribed by a suicidal introvert whom has flashes of heroism in the face of desperation. Sound contradictory? Well it did to me. How is it that a life-long crying, introverted, socially retarded, suicidal bisexual suddenly has bouts of defiance against impossible odds? Andres continually risks his life and/or being tortured for people he has no connection with while in his previous life he would figuratively hide from his own shadow. You would think that after being kidnapped and immediately tortured for days/weeks that he would be catatonic, at the least. Well having never been tortured with a flail and being branded, what do I know. 

If you are willing to accept Andres’ storyline and suspend your disbelief for a few hours, you will be entertained. Not much happens except for more torture, beatings and slave killing. In between the beating and killing the novel is padded with lengthy dialogue between Andres, Roman and Claudia within the confines of a dungeon like prison. Throughout most of the novel you find yourself rooting for the little shjt yet the retribution on a grand scale never transpires. The setup in this novel serves mainly as a bridge to successive novels in a series, so you won’t get the resolution that you are hoping for.

This novel had good technical writing yet the story line suffered as it wallowed in it’s own juices for too long. ‘Insisting upon itself’ is the best way to describe it.  World building was limited to the “Mist”, which is basically another dimensional place with fields and a castle.  If not for the drawn out story line, and easy 4 stars.

Review: Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan

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Publisher: Red Adept

Publishing Date: March 2013

ISBN: 9781940215136

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.1/5

Publishers Description: Carrie works at a diner in South Philadelphia, dispensing advice to humans and angels wise enough to seek her counsel. Carrie must travel into the depths of hell and parley with the demons that control its pathways. As the cost of her journey rises, Carrie must determine how much she is willing to sacrifice to save one good soul. 

Review: I really wanted to not like this novel, mainly due to the character development or lack thereof. If you were immortal and had lived around 5k years plus, wouldn’t you be really interesting if not totally fookin’ weird? You could speak dozens of languages if not hundreds and perhaps had been around pivotal times in history, either proximal or in the thick of it. You may have plowed the depths of spiritually, hung with Buddha, sailed a Viking ship, plunged a sword into a Norman or sat on the steps of the Alexandrian library. But nooooo, you own a fucking diner, talk like an American girl in constant heat for the angelic host (Gabriel) while traipsing around in hell.  Carrie is about as complex as a starfish and in no way evokes the image or mien of an immortal.

BUT, and its a big butt, the writing is pretty damn good and the storyline flows pretty smoothly. The supporting characters are thinly built but provide diversions and comedic relief in the form of Bedlam. I did not put it down and found I enjoyed most of it while ignoring the glaring error that is Carrie.

Review: Wreckers Gate by Eric T. Knight

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Publisher: Knightwriters

Publishing Date: September 2011

ISBN: 9781537776521

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.3/5

Publishers Description: Survivors of an ambush flee into a lifeless desert, where they are lured underground and find a strange relic embedded in a massive, ancient wall. One removes the relic, not realizing that he has just cracked a prison built to hold something even the gods fear. Now something poisonous is leaking into the world. Diseases and monsters ravage the land. In the midst of the chaos an immortal stranger appears, claiming that only he can save the world. With nowhere else to turn, they accept his help, but the weapons he offers are dangerous and uncontrollable and his motives may not be what they seem. And even he is not prepared for what will emerge from the prison…

Review: Lots O’ fence straddlers in reviewlandia on this one. I am gonna hop up there also and say; while Part 1 had all the elements that make up a great novel (character development, world building, movement etc.), part 2 was a fooking boring mess. After reading part 2, I would rather have fallen anus first into a dick patch (e.H.). “Waaah, you don’t like me…..murmur, sigh…..murmur….” fug. Dialogue heavy and Netra. Oh Netra. Not only was your estranged mommy Super speshul with sugar on top, you are even more speshul because you wander around not knowing exactly how you did or do miraculous things. Oh, and the name Netra sounds like an erectile dysfunction drug, except reading about her makes you go limp.

Well anywaaay, Netra is off into the wilds finding out how more speshul she is than others, because well, like part 1, part 2 demands a conflicted hero. At the end of the day, I will read the second in the series because the writing is skillful and perhaps the characters that fell short will shift and grow with an accelerated pace, not wallowing in mournful, narcissistic dialogue. The publishers description is misleading as the weapons of destruction are never found and used and there really is no outright conflict between good and evil. And what is with the title? Where is this “Wreckers Gate”. Shjt, where is there even one gate? The only gate I remember is in a diseased town with a bored guard sitting next to it, drunk.