Review: Raid by K.S. Merbeth

Publisher: Orbit

Publishing Date: July 2017

ISBN: 9780316308731

Genre: Dystopian/Post-Apoc

Rating: 2.5/5

Publishers Description: Bound and gagged in her passenger seat is the most revered and reviled raider king in the eastern wastes. She can’t cash him in and she can’t let him go, so together they cross the wasteworld, following a dying road and dodging bloodthirsty raiders who either want to free Jedediah or claim him as their own. 

Review: Quick pace, a lot of action, great story line and great characters that leap off the page. What more could you ask for? This Mad Maxian romp through the wastes is a gutsy look at a female anti-hero that is half hot babe and half burnt to a crisp. The writing is really good and takes you to a place you would never want to be yet fascinates just the same. “So, why you no give 5 stars!!!”. What to some might be seen as a minor detail yet to me changed the course of the novel entire was the characterization of Clem. So sit back and relax while I pick the corn out of this shjt. 

Clementine. Her whole life revolves around guns. She is an expert with them, cleans them religiously, places them higher on a list than any human being in terms of importance, notes and admires others guns, got her handgun off an infamous (now dead) raider and feels naked and itchy without one in close proximity. Clearly she is obsessed as it is an important aspect of being a bounty hunter in the wastes. With every scene this intense focus on guns in general and her gun in particular, we never learn what exactly IT is. Make, model and caliber are sadly absent. Why is this important? Gunfighters know their guns and when specific elements about guns are expressed it lends authenticity to the tale and brings the reader into the inner processes of, in this case, Clem.  Additionally, relating specifics is critically important when constructing battle scenes. It is not enough to say that a rifle is good at distance (that distance and caliber is never given) and quickly discarded for a handgun during close quarters battle (CQB). There is never any scale that lends authenticity to these actions. She has a holster as well, but we don’t know if its cross-draw, thigh holster or hip. Is it FBI cant, plastic, leather? Also, AR does not stand for “Assault Rifle” like the media would have you believe. AR stands for Armalite Rifle Co.

This was easily one of the best novels I have read in a long time that sadly lacked the research necessary to bring it to great heights. Either a lack of insight into all things “gun” or really poor editing input did this novel no favors.

Review: Scion of the Fox by S.M. Beiko

Publisher: ECW

Publishing Date: October 2017

ISBN: 9781770413573

Genre: Fantasy/YA

Rating: 3.4/5

Publishers Description: Roan Harken considers herself a typical high school student — dead parents, an infected eyeball, and living in the house of her estranged, currently comatose grandmother (well, maybe not so typical) — but she’s uncovering the depth of the secrets her family left behind. Saved from the grasp of Death itself by a powerful fox spirit named Sil, Roan must harness mysterious ancient power . . . and quickly.

Review: This was a pretty good YA fantasy novel of which I am usually averse to reading. The writing style captured my attention in a big way. It flows (when allowed to) in comfortable fashion where everything evolves in a synchronous dance.  

*Rant On*  It is too bad that the first AND second run ARC were so miserably fuked up with sentences and paragraphs gone missing on every page. I asked the publisher to send a better corrected copy and they said “tough shjt”. Nah, they were nice about telling me to fukoff.  There is so much missing from the story line as to render some areas nonsensical.  Perhaps the author might be better served with a competent publisher as these ARC’s often define subsequent sales due to early reviews.  *Rant Off* .

Roan never devolves into a mewling, whiney little, love-struck dipshjt and that is a very good thing as the characterization wins the day for this novel. The cast is as diverse as it is interesting and never fails to deliver the desired emotional intent. While the story line seems fairly simple and straightforward it is mired in complexity rendered in elegant fashion. Almost as if what you’re reading is wholly acceptable in the normal course of daily life. Animal denizens that have hidden forms and intent, frozen demons under the river and Roan’s slow discovery of an inner power are just a few examples of what awaits. 

While I was sold a bill of goods by the publisher trying to get some resolution on a corrected copy, I made do with what was given and believe me, it was really hard to piece this novel together. You can only move on with a truncated story line when entire paragraphs are missing (or so I surmised). A solid 4 stars, completed…..I think.

Review: Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: September 2017

ISBN: 9781473212787

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.5/5

Publishers Description: Humankind is extinct. Wiped out in a global uprising by the very machines made to serve them. Now the world is controlled by One World Intelligences – vast mainframes that have assimilated the minds of millions of robots. 

Review: Brittle is a loner robot that scavenges the wastes for parts while sending mad robots unto their mortal coil with some soft lies before they go completely nuts. Along the way, the One World Intelligence AI decides it needs to eliminate a threat to its control.

A good novel with great writing and a storyline that was epic when centered in the Now. See, most of the novel is backstory and resides mainly in the overthrow of human kind and their eventual extinction. These periods of reminiscence are laborious reading and were better flipped through for more salient instances. When the story line centered on Brittle’s current status as loner/scavenger/fighter in the Sea of Rust, it was epic. World building brought this strange solitary existence to life and patterned the work with brilliant movement and well developed supporting characters. A solid 4 star read that could have been 5.

Review: The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata

Publisher: Mythic Island

Publishing Date: June 2017

ISBN: 9781937197230

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.6/5

Publishers Description: Army veteran True Brighton left the service when the development of robotic helicopters made her training as a pilot obsolete. Now she works at Requisite Operations, a private military company established by friend and former Special Ops soldier Lincoln Han. ReqOp has embraced the new technologies. Robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence are all tools used to augment the skills of veteran warfighters-for-hire. But the tragedy of war is still measured in human casualties, and when True makes a chance discovery during a rescue mission, old wounds are ripped open. She’s left questioning what she knows of the past, and resolves to pursue the truth, whatever the cost.

Review: This novel surprised me at how just how solid it was. Good characterization/development and a storyline that gets better as the movement intensifies. True Brighton is a great character and delivers her mien in a professional manner. The supporting cast was marginally developed due to the hectic movement where really only one persons POV is relevant in describing events as they unfold. I liked that there was no over the top “True Brighton-Rhodes scholar, Olympic heptathlete that answered the call to serve her country while getting her 3rd black belt in Krav Maga“, shtick.  I mean really. You don’t know how refreshing it is to read about someone who could be a real person doing hero’s work. Like most novels if you have one great character, there must be one that sux in order to balance the karmic scales. Miles. Fuggin’ Miles. Why that douche is allowed along for the operation is beyond even common sense. I guess the author thought she needed a mewling whiner to even out the cast.

While I was picking the corn out of my shjt, I noticed some inconsistencies in flow where you lost the scene visualization due to hiccups in descriptive events. Easy to get back on the reading horse so not a big deal. Scene expediters in the form of “said/swear/hisses/etc. softly” are, sadly present. The future tech is magnificently constructed and brings to light a considered look at our collective future. 

Pick this up, it’s damned good writing.

Review: The Management Style of the Supreme Beings by Tom Holt

Publisher: Orbit

Publishing Date: June 2017

ISBN: 9780316270823

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.9/5

Publishers Description: When the Supreme Being and his son decide that being supreme isn’t for them any more, it’s inevitable that things get a bit of a shake-up. It soon becomes apparent that our new owners, the Venturi brothers, have a very different perspective on all sorts of things. Take Good and Evil, for example. For them, it’s an outdated concept that never worked particularly well in the first place.

Review: Wow. One of the best reads I have had in a long time. Funny, acerbic, poignant and relevant to life, it is at once Hitchhiker-esque in approach and Still Life in regard. There is so much going on that any attempt to define any one thing that was best about it is impossible. The characters have a great depth of character and develop wonderfully with the movement. All the disparate pieces of the story line slowly converge into one for a raucous ending that perhaps lends substance to the as yet defined humanistic desire for a familial archetype.

The writing is crazy good and coupled with the social commentary, makes for a novel you can’t put down. GET THIS!

Review: The Nights Too Dark by MH Snowy

Publisher: Pygaso

Publishing Date: June 2017

ISBN: 9781492700850

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.5/5

Publishers Description: Jeremy Sunson is surrounded by crazy. Mrs. Abercrombie, upstairs, is widowed because her husband glued feathers to his arms, jumped off the building and tried to fly. His neighbor, Strykland, has gone mad since his wife died in a freak car accident—his only thread to reality the doomsday machine he’s building and his daughter … and, of course, spacemen invade Jeremy’s living room.
Every night, in glorious Techni-color, there’s a battle royal between two high-tech assassins who continually blast Jeremy’s apartment to shreds. Each man has one mission: Red wants to kill Jeremy, Bronze wants to save him!

Review: Jeremy is a bit of a wanker that somehow is chosen to stave off the apocalypse over 12 nights against beings that somehow need Armageddon in order to mine an alternate realities resources. Never mind how an alternate universe used up their own resources and have been plundering many other Earths for quite awhile. There is much information that Jeremy and the reader are not yet privy to and there lies a bit of frustration as you just know the sequels are coming. Usually there is a kind of love interest in these patterned novellas, where the dork gets the hot gurl and smites the chosen group of bullies. Not here. Just time resetting itself and assassins constantly trying to kill him while saving the universe from a different catastrophe every night. Really refreshing, that.

Anyhoo,  I really liked the characters and the way they evolved in such a short length of time (not adding in time bubbles and alternate universal time).  Jeremy grows into his situation but still tends to internally ruminate to excess. Was it a novella? Yeah, no…not really, but close. Close enough that the max I can rate this at is 3 stars due to my rules on character and storyline compression. I will read the series as I am curious to see if Jeremy continues to develop into something more than a scared accountant.

Review: Space Agent and the Isles of Fire by Angus MacVicar

Publisher: Venture

Publishing Date: 1962

ISBN: 9781545523490

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.0/5

Publishers Description: Jeremy Grant is an agent for the Department for Space Investigation. Mars life on Earth, blah, blah, blah. 

Review: I have really got to do a better job at vetting novels that are re-branded and brought to life from antiquity. This was really quite boring and altogether smug in presentation. “Oi, that’s a strange pair. Ace reporter and the lovely queen of the isles shacking up”.  Fug. Over and over with that crap plus the big Russian professor living larger than life, blah, blah blah.  Oh but it gets better, there is viable and intelligent life on Mars and somehow it hitched a ride back to Earth on a satellite and only her love killed it and, and, and ONE TIME AT BAND CAMP! 

Review: The Cityborn by Edward Willett

Publisher: DAW

Publishing Date: July 2017

ISBN: 9780756411770

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.2/5

Publishers Description: The metal City towers at the center of the mountain-ringed Heartland, standing astride the deep chasm of the Canyon like a malevolent giant, ruled with an iron fist by the First Officer and his Provosts in the name of the semi-mythical Captain. Within its corroding walls lies a stratified society, where the Officers dwell in luxury on the Twelfth Tier while the poor struggle to survive on the First and Second, and outcasts scrabble and fight for whatever they can find in the Middens, the City’s rubbish heap, filling the Canyon beneath its dripping underbelly.

Review: This was some crazy shjt. Not that anything is new under the post-apoc/SciFi sun, but the way it was constructed and interleaved with the characters makes it inescapably poignant. Danyl is a great character and fills the pages with some no-nonsense reasoning, especially as it applies to dipshjt…er, Alania. See, Alania is extra speshul and mostly walks around dazed and confused. When not being petulant she mumbles while in a state of shock. She soon grows out of her innocence and develops into a passable character.

“So why you no give 5 stars!!”. Quite a few Deus Ex moments littered the story line and the ending was just kind of ‘meh’. Still, an entertaining read.