Book Review: Jubal Van Zandt and The Garden of Time by Eden Hudson


Publisher: Shadow Alley Press

Publishing Date: November 2017


Genre: SciFi / Fantasy

Rating: 4.3/5

Publishers Description: Jubal Van Zandt is running out of time to find a cure for the plague. His only hope is the Garden of Time, where actual, physical time is grown and stored. Anything that can be stored can be stolen.

Review:  Cover art rocks.

Let’s be clear here….I can’t stand the character Jubal.  A manipulative, sociopathic, undermining sneak trying to steal a good mans woman. While you hope he suffers a million deaths by a pack of fanged venomous Girl Scouts, he still manages to slip the Reaper, time and again. In short I just want him to fookin’ die…by any means possible.  Carina is a fantastic character that was built to balance shjt heads sarcastic, unfunny diatribes.  While this un-dynamic duo scrape their way across the pages, you are forced to revel in their interchanges with interesting turns to the story line.

This really only got interesting once the quest to find the the Garden of Time began. The movement increased with Jubal’s sarcastic anecdotes favorably diminished and the world building was allowed to breath deeply, unfettered.

This author has a hidden talent in the form of world building that couples superbly with the character development; once the movement is enjoined. Her expression is bent in the wrong direction, IMO, to sarcastic denigrating witticisms that derail the story line with embarrassing cringe worthy Jubalisms. You can be a misogynistic sociopathic asshole and still be palatable to read. It almost lends itself to that format by mere quality of association. There is no need to go over-the-top in every instance that Jubal opens his mouth. It makes for a character you really despise when I think the intent is to root for his success in all things. But I am not a mind reader so who knows.

Still a very good read by one of my favorite authors.

Book Review: The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny

Publisher: Orbit

Publishing Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9780316510561

Genre: SciFi/Romance

Rating: 2.1/5

Publishers Description: Year 2950. Humanity has survived devastating climate shifts and four world wars, coming out stronger and smarter than ever. Incredible technology is available to all, and enhancements to appearance, intelligence, and physical ability are commonplace.
In this future, Felicia Sevigny has built her fame reading the futures of others.

Review: I really should have shit-canned this novel after the first three chapters. Imagine you’re a woman that meets a dashing, rich and dangerous man, and within the first 24 hours you are having a standing orgasm while he gropes you at a restaurant and later, fall to your knees in the shower fantasizing about it. Is that really showbiz? Is that kind of unbelievable smut, entertainment? Do those interludes enhance the story line and lend relevance or intimacy to a relationship? I dunno, maybe I am a bit antiquated in that a whole lot of good story line development was wasted. Why not make the attraction unsaid and subtle for say 5 chapters or that one of them is uninterested in the other? But no, we get a tawdry love tri-bangle with the international man of mystery and a beat cop with throw up on his shirt and a pregnant wife. Gee, tough choice.

What is undeniable is that this author not only can write, but has a great attention to detail that moves the plot in a favorable way. Basically you always like where you are. It is at once interesting and inescapable in its attraction. While the characters are fairly one-dimensional (romance) the movement whisks you along so there is never a dull moment. Sure there are boners galore, fingers probing folds along with heaving breasts and Asshat….errr, Felica is a sexually unbridled and insecure dumbfuk BUT, thankfully the world building is pretty good. Mr. Perfection is fascinated with asshat….er Felicia and behaves like a jealous three year old around her. Of course he has a huge dick and she is tighter than a frogs ass.

I rather enjoyed the SciFi element but detested the Nora Roberts crap and for that  it loses a star. This author could write hard science fiction and be very successful at it.

Book Review: The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt

Publisher: Angry Robot

Publishing Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9780857667090

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.4/5

Publishers Description: The shady crew of the White Raven run freight and salvage at the fringes of our solar system. They discover the wreck of a centuries-old exploration vessel floating light years away from its intended destination and revive its sole occupant, who wakes with news of First Alien Contact. When the crew break it to her that humanity has alien allies already, she reveals that these are very different extra-terrestrials… and the gifts they bestowed on her could kill all humanity, or take it out to the most distant stars.

Review: Expansive world building, great movement coupled with interesting characterization and a story line that is not only intriguing but brings back the grande space fairing odyssey.

I really enjoyed this novel especially the world building. To get drawn in by magnificent scale that wholly absorbs your focus and transports your reality is writing talent worth paying for. I am a big fan of the space operatic so I claim bias to this review.

“So why you no give 5 stars!!?” Callie is a great character with a hardened edge and initially has this rough, bawdy demeanor. The transition into stalwart honest captain is mildly strange in that she never recovers that rough cut side of her personality. Elena Oh, a seed ship survivor almost ruined the whole fucking novel. Oh, so hot is Dr. Elena Oh. Diminutive, sexy, perfect, antiquated and caring to the point of self-sacrifice. OH, and she wuvs the captains. Can you hear my inner scream? A real liberal viewpoint was rendered throughout the novel with gun lobbies mentioned (bad), all the gender-isms in futuristic play and anyone wanting to bang someone is not bothered by the sex they happen to be. Pretty central to the novel as it is always mentioned.

The aliens were great. The premise behind being called the Liars was too funny and the sudden shift in presentation was startling in that I was looking for other entities to come to the fore to claim responsibility.  The Axiom aliens, although never revealed lend a disturbing presence that continues to impact even after their departure. The first in a what I hope is a good series.

Book Review: Sienna McKnight (New Praetorians #1) R.K. Syrus

Publisher: Yuan Kun

Publishing Date: September 2017


Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.5/5

Publishers Description: • A year ago Sienna McKnight, fresh out of West Point Military Academy, led her Special Ops team through a frozen hell at the bottom of the world to bring back something they wanted. In the near future, soldier Sienna McKnight seeks revenge on her terrorist cousin. They both gain extraordinary powers during the series and engage in an epic battle over the fate of humanity and a unique orphan girl.

Review: Well, I dunno about this one. Initially I almost round filed this work due to the near super human abilities of a pre-teen 80 lb gurl and the authors anthropomorphic bent on wildlife. See, Sienna has been training in special ops by her Uncle and a crazy dude in the woods and only recently took down one of her trainers by almost knocking him out. Riiiight. Ok. And then we have a snarling vicious Red Wolf with malicious intent that will continue to seek and kill little humans. Wolves just do what biology tells them to. It is only our humanistic emotions that paint them a certain color. Additionally the Red Wolf is at maximum weight, around 77 pounds, eats small mammals and is extremely shy.

So where does that leave us? Well pretty much in the shitter, but if you are game and slog through the unbelievable bullshit, the clouds part to reveal a stunning militaristic novel set in the near? future. Sienna carries along a pretty funny internal dialogue about the people she finds in certain situations whether getting a medical or taking down terrorists.  She is only slightly vulnerable in the things that matter but ruthless to anyone that is considered “bad”. She is manipulative only if it gets her closer to a goal. The supporting characters are a little too Doc Savage/League of Extraordinary for me and don’t follow a patterned special ops team. But that’s showbiz.

The movement is spectacular and continues to build throughout the novel. I read this in one sitting and that speaks volumes.

Book Review: The River Keepers by Michael F. Stewart

Publisher: The Publishing House

Publishing Date: December 2017

ISBN: 9780993757969

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.8/5

Publishers Description: What would you do if your sister turned into a skunk? How about a mouse? Or a frog? Would you want to be a snake? Have you ever wished to swim like an actual fish? Wouldn’t you worry that a snapping turtle might take a bite out of you? In The River Keepers, two sisters must rise to meet an unexpected challenge. It’s a story infused with the magic and drama outside their backdoor — perhaps yours, too.

Review: A short Fantasy novella for the YA that was entertaining and well written. Certainly begs for an expanded world and characters that come of age in the Watershed.

Book Review: Flotsam by R J Theodore


Publisher: Parvus

Publishing Date: January 2018

ISBN: 9780997661361

Genre: Mixed but mostly Steampunk

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: Captain Talis just wants to keep her airship crew from starving, and maybe scrape up enough cash for some badly needed repairs. When an anonymous client offers a small fortune to root through a pile of atmospheric wreckage, it seems like an easy payday. The job yields an ancient ring, a forbidden secret, and a host of deadly enemies.

Review: A crazy blending of Steampunk, Fantasy and SciFi that takes you on a genre bending wild ride through the skies of Peridot.

The world building is incredibly epic for a newly minted author and hints at uncovering even more as this series evolves. The characters were not only well developed with the movement but continued to draw interest as their personal histories unfolded.  At one point I thought this novel was going to take a nose-dive into many buckles being swashed and overly elaborate descriptors on how they were dressed for battle (if hot looking sky pirates are your thing). Thankfully the instance was short lived and the novel gained in grittiness what it lost in glamour.

Although mixing genres has been done before, this author elegantly combines the visceral and fantastical into a salable whole. Well done noob.

Book Review: The Mongrel Mage by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.


Publisher: Tor

Publishing Date: October 2017


Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: In the world of Recluce, powerful mages can wield two kinds of magic—the white of Chaos or the black of Order. Beltur, however, has talents no one dreamed of, talents not seen in hundreds of years that blend both magics.

Review: A wonderfully written tale about a young mage finding his true place in the world of magic. Although Beltur is a little dense at times, he manages to escape death at the hands of the ruling Prefect and finds a corner of the kingdom to hide while discovering a different form of magic.

Wow, this was really good world building and character development. So much so, that you feel a part of the story line and manage to care what happens. I looked forward to the nightly immersion while reading about the travails and successes of Beltur.

The only minor drawbacks in characterization were the lack of character flaws in Beltur and Jessayla. Jessayla is all vim and vinegar while being hotter than a half-fugged fox in a February forest fire. She gives so much of herself that she almost dies while healing all the sick and injured. There is also a weird insertion of gay characters that strangely works in this novel as it isn’t this overt rendering that most authors like to parade around.

Get this and enjoy yourself for awhile.

Review: Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci

Publisher: St. Martins

Publishing Date: January 2018


Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.8/5

Publishers Description: Cade Sura holds the future of the galaxy in his hands: the ultimate weapon that will bring total peace. He didn’t ask for it, he doesn’t want it, and there’s no worse choice to wield it in all of space, but if he doesn’t, everyone’s totally screwed. The evil Praxis kingdom is on the cusp of having every star system under its control, and if that happens, there’ll be no contesting their cruel reign. Especially if its fanatical overlord, Ga Halle, manages to capture Cade and snag the all-powerful weapon for herself.

Review: This was written as an ode to Star Wars according to the author yet may have been better served as a space adventure for kids in the 8-12 yo range.

Although the premise and story line had merit, this novel was fraught with flaws in character and scene development. For instance, as Cade moves through the story line, his internal dialogue not only fills in the back story but discerns events and interactions not yet revealed but turn out to be factual. Kind of like guessing the future and having it realized. While we are constantly reminded that Cade is a misfit with self-esteem issues, he goes out of his way to be negative, obtuse, self-centered and belligerent when there is really no need to be that way. He is “disgusted” with others behaviors and wears the reluctant hero crown too well. He eventually embraces his whatever “self” and suddenly becomes super paragon galactic savior guy whom sacrifices his life for the Galaxy and others etc. etc.

The fight scenes are a big stretch of the imagination, especially the Dasher bike incident and the whole exchange between characters within culminating scenes reads like a comic hero space adventure. I get that the author wrote/writes comic books and this somehow was re-invented into a space operatic novel. It just didn’t work for me but may for others.