Book Review: The Grind by Dante Doom

 

Publisher: Relay Publishing

Publishing Date: February 2018

ISBN: 9781985095052

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.2/5

Publishers Description: In the desolate future city-state of Verre, King Leopold and his lords rule with absolute authority. There’s only one way for oppressed serfs to rise in rank: the MMORPG called ‘The Grind’. Once a year, players in this virtual game can fight for the opportunity to raise their standing by gathering as many points as possible. Peasants can become Nobles, Lords and, with enough skill, sometimes Kings… Savannah “Savvy” deForge is a Grinder—the lowest of the low, who earns a living racking up points for players by “ghosting” them in the game. When a wealthy client named Timon comes calling, she sees him as her ticket out of the classless limbo of Grinder life.

Review: I am not really sure what to think of this novel. It had Fantastic world building both within the game and out.  An improbable story line that fascinates and absorbs your attention.  But average character development that should have enthralled what with the intense movement  it was coupled to.  The main character was a bit flat, myopic, self-centered and dumb. She never learns from the obvious instances happening in real time. Even after an event that should pull her in a certain direction, she is still conflicted or opposes the logical choice. This is called stupidity. It’s not a complex character or one pulled between extremes. You can’t have a self-centered thief with a heart of gold.   And it is the prancing back and forth between those two personas that leave Savannah flatter than a road kill chipmunk.

What is good is some real crazy world building that pulls you into an incredible visualization matrix. I mean, what is not to like about killing crazy monster virus’? The power ups are cool and the trek is epic by design. The fights are continual and take up a fair portion of the novels content. Good or bad, you be the judge. I found it a bit long in the tooth but still palatable.

I would say that this could have been set up better with the outer world and inner world conflicts enhanced to imbue a sense of balance.

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Book Review: The Devil’s Revolver by V.S. McGrath

 

Publisher: Brain Mill Press

Publishing Date: August 2017

ISBN:9781942083542

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.0/5

Publishers Description: She is Hettie Alabama — unlikely, scarred, single-minded, and blood bound to a revolver inhabited by a demon.

Review: Dig that cover art.

I really enjoyed this novel so lets get the bad stuff out of the way. Plot holes. Ling is a celestial, or a fancy way of saying he is Chinese. He works around the farm doing odd jobs and runs up against a bit of trouble where he is in an alley getting his ass kicked when Hettie disrupts their actions and is soon the focus of bad intentions. Body’s fall and Ling flees into the hills. Later in the novel while Hettie is traveling cross country she finds Ling fighting for money in bare knuckle matches with some kind of high level Foo that leaves her amazed. So……getting ass kicked then showcasing martial prowess. Don’t get it, especially when there was no one around to see you Foo some ruffians in an alley. One of  the  biggest plot holes occurs when Sophie helps Hettie et al. escape along with Walker, thereby aiding and abetting fugitives, but miraculously both Walker and Sophie are free to do as they please. A bit too Deus Ex for me.

One of the biggest problems with this novel were the grammatical errors coupled with paragraphs and sentences missing every other page. This problem continues in “The Devil’s Standoff”.  I get that through the process of digital formatting and conversion there are some issues, but this was really bad. Pivotal moments of flow were lost. You would think the publisher would iron out the finished product or make sure that it is cogent and presentable prior to release.

What I really liked about this novel was the story line. Very inventive and built around some solid characterization. The world building was weak but the movement offsets the lack of visualizing where they are. The author is a romance novelist, and flirts with the idea that Hettie wants dick. Thankfully the inhalation of body odor is minimal, and is soon left where it belongs…in the dirt. At times it is a bit corny and patterned but mostly follows the fantasy western ideal with some seriously twisted moments.

 

 

Breathe his scent.

Book Review” Magnum Thrax and the Amusement Park of Doom by Gene Bathurst

 

Publisher: Clickit Press

Publishing Date:December 2014

ISBN: 9781775184119

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.6/5

Publishers Description: When a gigantic cephalopod delivers an unconscious android to the door of Pleasurepit Five, everything changes for Magnum Thrax. As leader of a team of fiesty, combat repurposed sexbots, he’s used to defending The Pit against mutants and legacy ad memes. This time it’s different: the android brings word of an unstoppable, rogue amusement park that is expanding at an exponential rate, threatening to rewrite the world on a subatomic level into sanitized, G-rated blandness.

Review: Words that come to mind in describing this novel are: operatic, fantastical, apocalyptic, ribald and misogynistic. It at once fascinates and appalls by skipping social convention and going straight for the entertainment jugular. The cover art hearkens in the days of Bruce Minney and his pin up style artwork of babes, beaches and Nazis.

What can I say, I loved this novel. It is a brash, in your face “fuck you” to the weird liberal societal norms that are choking the life out of literary freedom. Here’s to Gene Bathurst for taking the risk and Nimit Malavia for bringing back the images of a bygone era.

Book Review: Housetrap by R.J. Hore

 

Publisher: Burst

Publishing Date: December 2012

ISBN:9781927454725

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.4/5

Publishers Description: In a world ruled by committees of wizards and packed with every creature imaginable, in the sleazy backstreets of Central City you can always count on Randolph C. Aloysius to solve your problems. That is, assuming his trusty Girl Friday, Bertha, can track him down.

Review: A fantasy detective novella with a fair amount of wit to keep you interested. The authors universe could do with a bit of expansion to build some depth into the characters and showcase his writing talent. Deceptively good world building brought this novel to the fore. Sadly, I can only rate novellas a max of three stars based on their compressed nature.

Book Review: The Secret of the Great Red Spot by Leonardo Ramirez

 

Publisher: Leonardoverse

Publishing Date: January 2014

ISBN: 9781386696308

Genre: Steampunk/Kids

Rating: 2.7/5

Publishers Description: It is the year 1892 and Ian and Callie Castillo have had to suffer the hardships of a single parent family since their father went missing five years ago. Since then Ian has refused to use the last gift that his father left the wounded boy; a telescope that sits collecting dust in the attic. When Callie decides to peer through its murky lens it activates the device and sends the Castillos to the steam-powered floating cities of Jupiter where they discover the secret behind their father’s disappearance. But can they uncover the secret behind the Red Spot and save the Jovian’s before the Martians launch their attack?

Review: A good novella adventure made for kids. Great movement with limited character development.*  Kids should enjoy this space fairing adventure.

“I can only rate novellas’ a maximum of three stars due the compressed nature of the story line.