Review: Nightblade’s Vengeance by Ryan Kirk

Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date: October 2017

ISBN:9781542047326

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.8/5

Publishers Description: In a feudal land, a Kingdom is at risk. With no heir to the fragile throne, its future rests with the powerful members of the dying king’s Council, including Minori, a nightblade warrior, and Kiyoshi, a dayblade healer. The two men are bound by the sword but divided by two opposing principles: rule the land, or serve it. In their challenge for supremacy, a spark has been lit.

Her name is Asa. Her creed is revenge.

Review: This tale follows the lives of three Nightblades’ life journey through a kingdom fraught with violence and political intrigue. One is bent on revenge, another on control and the last on redemption. Their lives merge and interact on stage set for destruction.

This is one of the best novels I have read in a long time. The world building was epic and pales in comparison to the story line, movement and character development. To go into detail is to give the novel away. Trust me when I say that when you can’t wait to get to the next chapter to follow a certain character, then you have found a gem. I only wish I had discovered this author sooner.

The ending sets up nicely for another installment with perhaps a wandering Nightblade under the shadow of a corrupt regime.

 

 

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Review: Spectre of War by Kin S. Law

Publisher: City Owl Press

Publishing Date: October 2017

ISBN: 9781944728533

Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: A third Victoria has ascended the throne of a steam-driven country where enormous clockwork giants walk the streets and airships carry news of the Ottoman threat in the East.
In the wake of a calamity that engulfed all of Europe, Inspector Vanessa Hargreaves of Scotland Yard is given the dubious task of policing steamcraft crime. Along with flamboyant detective Arturo C. Adler, she stumbles upon a conspiracy to use a horrific plague in an effort to prevent war.

Review: The second novel in the Lands Beyond series, delivers a thirst for more. Hargreaves wends her way from the Royal Palace to the sewers of New York City in search of a solution to the plague corpse. Arturo is along for the ride in all his Liberace like regalia along with Cezette, Hallow, Cid and the crew of the Huckleberry.

Once again the author paints a grand picture with incredible movement and characters built with elegant simplicity. You care for every single one of them and that says a lot about the writing talent. The story line has many interludes with separate tales that are a part of the bigger world building picture. No 5 stars here though, as the novel ends abruptly and the author likes cats.

Just a bit on cats and why they suck. They decimate all forms of endemic wildlife, in particular neo-tropical migrant bird species. They spread disease, most notable the feline leukemia virus affecting  the endangered Florida Panther. They carry toxoplasmosis (killing sea otters), ringworm, tularemia, hookworm and CSD to name a few.

Review: Atlantis: The King’s Return by D.K. Combs

Publisher: DK Combs

Publishing Date: August 2017

ISBN: 9781522056379

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.0/5

Publishers DescriptionAmbrose. The name is not only feared, but shunned and reviled. He’s a monster sentenced to a life of desolation and loneliness, and no one but his tormentor knows his whereabouts — at the bottom of the ocean. A creature of the sea cursed because of one simple mistake…

Review: Ah where to start. The opening to this novel was dam good. Mari has strength of character seldom read and is immediately thrust into an interesting story line with impeccable movement.  After her cruise ship sinks, she finds herself in a cave with a tortured merman and helps him escape his imprisonment. In order to save her life he turns her into an Atlantean and so begins the long slide into the shitter.

Mari not only turns into a mermaid but into a juvenile, petulant, recriminatory asshat. Her tantrums are epic, her tail denotes that she is a goddess (of course) and she loves mer-dick, specifically the guy she rescued who happens to be….. a King! At the end of this novel Mari is on land and behaving like an adult and is embarrassed by her behavior while under the sea. Well she went through the “CHANGE” and that made her emotionally unstable, which is a great excuse for writing pure shjt.

Why would an author knowingly sabotage her main character for the sake of writing juvenile romantic fantasy? It really boggles the mind that with writing talent in evidence that a constructed character with depth and strength was sadly, not built. This novel had HUGE potential. Great movement and writing talent coupled with a strong character and a story line on the verge of intricacy. Just a dam crying shame…..on YOU, DK “Sellout” Combs.

 

Review: The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross by Lisa Tuttle

Publisher: Random House

Publishing Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9780399182204

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.2/5

Publishers Description: Witch!” cries the young man after stumbling unexpectedly into the London address of the consulting-detective partnership of Mr. Jasper Jesperson and Miss Lane. He makes the startling accusation while pointing toward Miss Lane . . . then he drops dead. Thus begins the strangest case yet to land—quite literally—on the doorstep of Jesperson and Lane.

Review: Not really sure why I looked forward to reading this novel in the evenings. There is just something about a Sherlockian team of investigators that draws me in. Although the characters lacked depth and Watson (Miss. Lane) was relegated to an uninformed position while narrating the novel, I still enjoyed the sudden shifts in the story line while ferreting out the mystery.

So what is inside? Two murders, one kidnapping, three sisters who may be involved, a vanishing maid and a wealthy priest. Their story lines flow together quite well even with a bit of the fantastical thrown in. An interesting investigative duo within the bounds of Victorian propriety.

Review: The Squirrel on the Train by Kevin Hearne

 

Publisher: Subterranean

Publishing Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9781596068476

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.0/5

Publishers Description: Oberon the Irish wolfhound is off to Portland to smell all the things with canine companions wolfhound Orlaith and Boston terrier Starbuck, and, of course, his human, ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan. The first complication is an unmistakable sign of sinister agendas afoot: a squirrel atop the train. But an even more ominous situation is in store when the trio plus Atticus stumble across a murder upon arrival at the station. They recognize Detective Gabriela Ibarra, who’s there to investigate. But they also recognize the body—or rather that the body is a doppelganger for Atticus himself.

Review: I usually don’t rate novellas higher than a 3, due to their truncated nature and limited world building. Squirrel is an exception to the rule. This was brilliantly rendered, cogent in it’s simplicity and entirely too funny.

A constantly witty and intriguing story as told from the perspective of a dog that will leave you wanting way, way more. 4 Woofs!

Review: Macro-Micro by Ishmael Carol

 

Publisher: First Design

Publishing Date: August 2017

ISBN: 9781506904573

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.7/5

Publishers Description: In a galaxy of conscious celestial beings, ex-rogue planet Chandra protects her adopted sister Gaia from enslavement by aliens and must destroy an army of macro and micro entities to break the blockade on their star system. Aided by her teacher Master Sun and the digital beings living on her planet, Chandra must make choices that will alter forever the fate of humankind – and the Galaxy herself.

Review: “It is all a bit too much”, is a quote from the first and lone reviewer of this novel and is at the story lines’ core.  It is at once compelling, drawn out, smothered, burgeoning, sublime and intriguing.

Chandra (our moon) was killed by the evil apostates and flung into the void, barely alive. The Sun (our Sun) draws her into our solar system where she collides with Gaia (earth), another celestial being. From there the Earth and Moon beings grow in consciousness and ability as they are trained by Master Sun to protect humanity and the digital beings that reside on the moon.

This was a really long novel and because of that it was hard to stay in the game. I kept reading because I needed some closure after 500 pages. This novel could have been edited for length, content and grammar. There were instances where the interchanges between scenes was so long that you lost interest and to lose interest is to lose the story line. So don’t do that. Most of the chapters jump across the time line so if you’re expecting a linear progression of events with maybe a bit of time jumping, tough luck. At times it is not real clear where or when you are in the author’s universe, but if you pay close attention you can work it out. Still, it is not for the faint of heart to follow the story line to a conclusive endpoint.

The supporting characters were well built and interesting while the main characters were a little too speshul. The evil Dyapon and his tube cell cohorts are not easily visualized as the author never really gets to a high degree of descriptive aptitude. While this lack of detail can be filled with your own imagination, it is not the readers job to develop a plethora of characters off the top of  their heads. I thought this was a major failing of the novel with most of the characters.  What was needed was a reduction in the lengthy exchanges between the speshul entities and an expansion of the descriptors in order to draw in the reader.

This was a major undertaking of what I assume is a new author or an established author using a pen name. While at times beautifully rendered this novel fell under it’s own weight. I would still keep an eye out for this author as he/she has the talent to become one of the best in the genre.