Review: The Windrunner’s Daughter by Bryony Pearce

cover107732-medium

Publisher: Xist

Publishing Date: February 2016

ISBN: 9781623953775

Genre: SciFi/YA

Rating: 2.3

Publishers Description: It is forbidden for women to steal the wings that allow a select group of runners to carry messages and goods between colonies. It is forbidden to cross the wastes with a sand storm on the horizon and it is certainly forbidden to share the secrets of the windrunners with those who spend their entire lives in the biospheres. 

Review: Basically this is a story about Wren residing on Mars in dystopian fashion, where runners fly through the air from colony to colony bearing messages and whatnot. She longs to be a runner and soon circumstances force her to blaspheme against the ruling council. 

The Good: Wow, what a storyline. Mars colonists barely surviving within a caste system of runners and grounders. Soaring high above the landscape with terrible sand beasts tracking your progress below, waiting to eat you. The character development was great along with the movement. Wren grows a little, but Raw morphs from a hateful turd into a stalwart buddy that has your back at every turn. The world building is epic and along with the descriptive detail, you feel like your walking er…flying along with Wren. I give this section 4 Blondie’s.

blondie-2

The Bad: At about the 50% mark the novel takes a literal nose-dive into the sands of Mars. Wren becomes this clingy weirdo that feels her breasts swell when a guy kisses her. There is the very tired and used tribangle where Raw and another dude want her naughty bits. She flies around as a boy but only one guy can tell that she’s a woman when women are in such short supply? I give this section 2 Angel Eyes. 

angel-eyes

The Ugly: The foundation that makes up good science fiction was severely lacking in this novel. The idea that you can glide/fly for a whole day in a wing suit is ridiculous. Martian atmosphere is close to vacuum. Even with some terra forming which this novel alludes to, no numbers are given as to how much they have converted the planet. As the only places where growing and living things abide is in controlled biospheres, one can assume the planet is still a completely hostile environment. This novel should have been rendered with airships of one design or another as those are about the only unpowered vehicles that can operate in Mars thin atmosphere.  Additionally another glaring hole in the plot is why, with the lack of a functioning ecosystem, is it possible that Mars can support huge sand beasts, sand snakes and hives of beetles? Is there some subterranean source of water that produces plant like matter with huge refracting natural crystals providing light or some form of cave dwelling ecosystem? This section gets 1 Tuco.

tuco4

This was so close to becoming a 5 star novel. With just a bit of supportive science as a nod to the genre this novel could have soared. I just don’t understand how, with so much information out there on Mars, that the author did not evolve the planet scientifically. Moving Wren from a gutsy do-anything person into a dopey eyed love-struck bimbo really ruined the novel in it’s entirety. The author speaks about writing for her daughter in order to show her that girls can do anything. I get that, but I also get that her swelling breasts couldn’t have done it all without Raw and his rippling muscles, flashing mischievous eyes and an anger that is …..raw.

Advertisements

Review: Kokoro by Keith Yatsuhashi

cover107522-medium

Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date: April 2017

ISBN: 9780857666192

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.5/5

Publishers Description: On the planet of Higo, without the guidance of the Great Spirits, its people are descending into religious civil war. Baiyren Tallaenaq, Prince of Higo, is exiled after causing the death of his mother.
Freed from his responsibilities and the looming war, he steals their greatest weapon – a giant, sentient, armoured suit – and uses it to open a Portal to a world he never knew existed. A world called ‘Earth͟’…home of a magical young woman called Keiko.

Review: I am not sure what happened here. Where Kojiki was streamlined, Kokoro was laden with too much of, well everything. Characters, names and places and back history, all inter-leaved with constant over the top action. This process rendered the story line indiscernible and vague and subsequently lacked the detail required to visualize. 

 The cliché’ presented the form of Juno, really put me off this novel. Selfish, myopic (to the point of blindness), demanding but oh so hot and uber smart, Juno. Running from her bad CONSERVATIVE daddy who happens to be a US Senator and armed services committee chairman and into the mountains of China on a dig. Political bias. A big buzz kill no matter what side of the fence you’re on.  Well, while Juno flounces around demanding everything from everybody because she is an entitled little brat you get the sneaking suspicion early on that because the Heartstone is connected to her, that she is…SPESHUL!!!! YAY! Fug. Yup, speshulness rears it’s ugly head in this sequel in the form of spit and vinegar, hottie archeologist, Juno! See, she wuvs a pwince and he wuvs her so dang, hold on to your hotpockets cause here come the shjts. 

 Although this did not meet my expectations, I kinda knew that a great follow up to Kojiki was wishful thinking.

*UPDATE* I just received a complaint from the author filed to his publisher. The publisher (author) requests that my review be removed as I did not grasp the main theme of the novel.  The author could have made a lot of headway contacting me directly to explain my review. This has happened in the past and I am no stranger to re-reading novels with additional information and HAVE changed my reviews to reflect this.

Review: The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett

cover103523-medium

Publisher: Berkley

Publishing Date: June 2017

ISBN: 9780399585111

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.8/5

Publishers Description: All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit…

Review: Jamie, Jamie, Jamie. Jamie this and Jamie that….me, me, me, me. Besides this being about you know who, the storyline was great until it got bogged down with Jamie’s strange and often wrong perspectives on life, people, furniture….whatever. This was such an un-compelling read due to the character disaster that is Jamie. For instance, Jamie doesn’t like a particular woman (Rena) in their group and due to the author’s penchant for theatrics, this woman is rendered as a  thin lipped, scrawny, flat chested shrew in EVERY scene where she is pivotal. We get it, she’s a bitch and you don’t like her. Fukin A, get over it. 

What was most strange about this novel was the lack of the science element in a fictional work. Why are the alien planets not explained in detail? How do the ships travel faster than light (not mentioned that they do) while still needing to be refueled constantly? What is the fuel used that allows for inter (trans?) galactic travel? Nope, no siree-bob, you just have to accept the world building like dog breath and dryer lint….it just is.

 This novel was mired in Jamie’s constant inner-ruminations when it would have been better served enjoined with the external elements that make up this universe so as to balance out the novel. I think English authors are predominately dominated by dialogue which pivots around personal turmoil.  A novel that traverses the universe to an expected climax that in the end is nothing of note almost feels like a cheat.  This will appeal to those that like a novel steeped in heavy personal exchanges and inner-ruminative dialogue, but not me so much.

Review: Special Purposes by Gavin Smith

cover106792-medium

Publisher: Rebellion

Publishing Date: April 2017

ISBN: 9781781085219

Genre: SciFi/Horror

Rating: 4.6/5

Publishers Description: World War III was over in a matter of hours, and Vadim and most of his squad are dead, but not done. What’s happened to them, and to millions of civilians around the world, goes beyond any war crime; and Vadim and his team – Skull, Mongol, Farm Boy, Princess, Gulag, the Fräulein and New Boy – won’t rest until they’ve seen justice done.

Review: With the plethora of zombie movies and novels, filling up every available media-space, I have become deadened and immune to the re-animated corpse movement. As I shuffle and bounce a path through a trampled genre, I no longer have the will to groan in disgust, until…… Holy shjtsnacks, this was goooood (mmmm brains). Well these zombies are not the brain eating type, but have a vast unquenchable hunger to bite the living.  I always wondered what zombies are thinking. Is there a war within, between the higher self and the animalistic? Are zombies even self-aware? Shit, are people in general even self-aware. This novel plunges into those depths and pulls out a winner.

The character development was pretty good but you expect that from the author as well as his crafting  exceptional movement. What sets this novel above all others in the genre is Vadim’s personal narrative throughout his ordeal. His constant internal struggle and his absolute control over a virus that constantly beckons him to give in to those baser instincts is riveting. The supporting cast was excellent as were the villains. I definitely would not want to live in this zombie world and that’s what makes this such a great read. GET IT!

Review: Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks

 

cover106154-medium

Publisher: Skyhorse

Publishing Date: May 2017

ISBN: 9781940456706

Genre: Dystopian/SciFi

Rating: 4.0/5

Publishers Description: Seventeen-year-old Star and her sister Nene are orphans, part of a thirteen-wagon caravan of nomadic traders living hard lives travelling the Sand Road. Their route cuts through a particularly dangerous and unforgiving section of the Dead Red Heart, a war-ravaged desert landscape plagued by rogue semi-sentient machinery and other monsters from a bygone age.

Review: I really cannot believe that this novel was “read now” on the book site. Meaning the publisher is handing it out to anyone who asks. This was one of the best novels I have read in a long time. Great characters, constant movement and epic world building.  So lets get to the meat of it, shall we?

Initially Star stole the show with her gumption, grittiness and guile. All her flaws are out there to see. She is extremely self-centered which makes sense coming from living in a wasteland where everyone is more likely to stab you than give you a hand up. She has base instincts that she acts upon (sex), has regrets and hopes for a better life somewhere other than where she is. I like that Star grew within the movement but the time compression in order to realize this was not real believable. She goes from a badass wall climbing, knife wielding hell-cat to needing help in every dire situation while burying her head in anyone’s manly chest. I exaggerate but her decline from independence was noticeable as she traverses the wasteland.

Much like the latter part of Star’s tale, the storyline towards the end tended to drag on a bit. It is hard to make a wasteland interesting but the storms keep you on your feet and the beasties that could have added a dash of suspense were sadly absent. This was a solid 4 stars and I would not hesitate to read any of this author’s subsequent novels as the world building was great as were the supporting cast and all the tech.

 

Review: Passages by Laurel Wanrow

cover105525-medium

Publisher: Sprouting Star

Publishing Date: January 2017

ISBN: 9781943469079

Genre: SciFi/Romance

Rating: 1.1/5

Publishers Description: For decades, Eve and her fellow electorgs—part human, part machine—have worked on the quiet planet of Aarde, beating back toxic spores that threaten to poison the native people. When the new commander halts work right before a deadly spore release, Eve frantically plots to protect the villagers she considers friends and family.

Review: Whoa! Way too many alien naming conventions that do not make sense without the proper background. You will be left wandering  the grammatical desert groping for a shade of reasoning. The confusion only lasts a bit until your mind can iron out the details that make up part of the world building. Much of the storyline’s impact is lost due to this malfunction.

 Soooo, why don’t I give a shjt what happens to our two fawning and lovestruck heros? Is it because Eve is super speshul or that Quinn in his befuddled, handsome state, always solves catastrophic events as if he were Dues ex Machina himself? If both of these characters particles got scattered and lost while jumping, I would happily close the book and start another, preferably one with better character development.  For a novel with real promise it quickly got bogged down with intense dialogue, romance and a plot that makes no sense. Why people live on a planet with deadly spores, a ruling class and a dominate alien race that placed them there (while seemingly benevolent cause who doesn’t like a nice doggie?) makes no sense when there is supposedly a whole galaxy from which to occupy.

Besides being more boring than a bag of walnuts, this was a hard sell for me as two strangers sole focus (when not looking for a box) is spent thinking about boning each other. I think if I read “…his chocolate brown eyes.” one more time, I was going to throw my reader against the wall. 

Review: Empress of the Fall by David Hair

cover106372-medium

Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: March 2017

ISBN: 9781784291013

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.3/5

Publishers Description: Emperor Constant is dead and his rivals are scrabbling for power – but any misstep could plunge the land, already devastated by the shocking outcome of the Third Crusade, into a calamitous civil war.

Review: Not sure what to make of this. This novel was a roiling mass of naming conventions that is very hard to track unless you are familiar with the author’s world. This becomes an issue when it clouds the storyline. I get that this is a faction vs. faction vs. (etc.) novel that hints at replicating Game of Thrones, but it really needed an induction of simplicity in order to bring character focus and world building clarity.

I really liked everything about Ril. He was the only character that was built wonderfully with the movement. The rest of the players were somewhat muddied as they traipsed around a diminished storyline. Epic and I mean EPIC movement was utilized to balance the deficiencies in the novel.  There is no grand quest, or side quests for that matter that could have brought the world into focus and provided opportunities for character development and a gradual build to the finale. Yet, everything seemed compressed, almost rushed in order to “fit” all that the author had to say. Still, very good writing that is in need of serious storyline editing.