Book Review: EN by Michelle Reynoso

Publishing Date: April 2018

Publisher: IBPA

ISBN: 9780999718902

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.2/5

Publisher’s Description: High School senior Faith McDaniels is struggling to find a place to belong. She never knew her father. She lost her mother to cancer three months ago. Now Faith is starting a new life with her brother Eddie in the small town of Madison, but this ‘fresh start’ is more than just a move to a new town and a new high school, it’s the beginning of a series of strange events that puts her on the precipice of discovering that pendants and portals, other worlds, and energy-bending are not just ideas from a fantasy story. It is her life. A life that is about to get even more complicated when Faith discovers her own extraordinary abilities to bend and manipulate energy, a power that can be the bridge, or the barrier, to saving the world of Enlitra and her own world.

Review: This was more like a novella in length, a rather quick read. I liked Faith as a character, initially. Then the novel gets patterned with her super speshulness and idiot friends and love tribangles.  Most of the story line resides in and out of an abandoned house which is supposed to scare you but comes off contrived. Because so much time is spent at the house the story line works at being relevant and interesting but comes off manufactured and boring.  Don’t worry though, there will probably be another 5 novellas that follow the unwilling trail of asshat …..er, Faith,  and her host of myopic and vacuous friends.

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Book Review: The Darwin Variant by Kenneth Johnson

Publishing Date: June 2018

ISBN:9781503954113

Genre: SciFi

Rating: DNF

Publisher’s Description: When the icy shards of a rogue comet fall to Earth, they bring an unknown virus that accelerates evolution to extremes. Suddenly, infected plants grow stronger, choking out those uninfected. Animals turn aggressive and deadly. The eyes of loved ones go cold, and infected neighbors begin exhibiting signs of brutal domination.

Review: Honestly I did not give this novel a chance because it didn’t give me a chance to like it. It opens with this jumbled narrative of interviews and perceptions of various people as they live through the outbreak. Not my cup of tea. Additionally the whole “alien virus from space” shtick has been over done. Perhaps I will complete it at a later date should reviews pan out.

Book Review: Sygillis of Metatron by Ren Garcia

 

Publisher: BooksGoSocial

Publishing Date:  March 2011

ISBN:9780982565322

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.0/5

Publisher’s Description: When an enemy Black Hat is taken prisoner aboard Captain Davage’s ship, the powerful Sisterhood of Light has every intention of executing her, to put her to a slow, painful death. That is what’s done to Black Hats, and no one dares challenge the Sisters’ authority. They are astounded when the Captain refuses to allow it.

Review:   The start of this novel was pretty cool. Lord Blanchefort shunning royal life in favor of military service. A saucy and dangerous former love plying the night in search of his destruction and a family riddled with questions about their sanity and fortitude. While fighting some galactic battle they run up against the Black Hats’, a murderous cult that utilizes dark energy in the form of Shadow Tech. After taking the Black Hat prisoner, Lord Blanchefort sees an uncanny resemblance to a friend that died and pursues a redemptive course rather than have her killed. Sygillus is way fooking creepy with her constant death iterations and vacuous approach to humanity. Like dealing with a hot Hannibal Lechter. And then………..

Have you ever been walking on a nice sunny spring day, sun warming your back and the scent of new life filling your lungs and then you step in a pile of dogshit. The glorious day suddenly leaves you while  frantically wiping the shit off on the grass. But still it hangs with you while you scrape the shit off the sides with a piece of bark. And, even though you get most of it off, it still rides your psyche back home until you can hose it off. That is what happened to this novel. Went from genius to pure shjt in a flash.

So, Lord Blanchefort presses on in his efforts to redeem a Black Hat, while his whole crew and the covenant of Sisters (The good witches) swear undying loyalty to him while wanting to bang him. As he works a miracle on Syg, she finally comes around and wuvs the Captwans with a jealous heart and plenty of sex kitteny like actions. Syg goes from a serial killer to a flouncy dim-witted romance figure with pedantic designs on marrying Lord Blanchefort cause she had a “vision”. The pure sap and corn continue to roll off every page in desultory fashion when it turns out she converted the Dark Shadow Tech into…..SILVER TECH!!! Fuk, she is just so damn speshul my balls ache. Well most everyone that is speshul has speshully powers in this novel so it is not surprise that they win at everything. The End.

 

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

 

Publisher: Brain Mill Press

Publishing Date: April 2018

ISBN:9781948559010

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.3/5

Publishers Description: Welcome to the birthplace of the Devil’s Revolver, where magic is draining from the land and untold danger lurks for our truly unforgettable gunslinger heroine, Hettie Alabama. The second book in the Devil’s Revolver series follows Hettie and her crew south of the Wall into Mexico, where they must unmake the Devil’s Revolver while confronting a magic- and land-hungry army and a monster from hell drawn to the infernal powers of Hettie’s mage gun.

Review: That cover art diverges quite a bit from the Hettie visualized in the novel.

One reviewer stated that this is “The feminist western you’ve been waiting for…”. Really? I thought it took a left turn from the first novel, headlong into romance. I think blushing and hearts going pitter-pat over silky baritones and ripply muscles is a fair shift away from feminism. But, wtf do I know about feminist ideology? Perhaps there is room for a tough nut female protagonist with a fragile inner core that begs for a manly man to sweep them over the threshold with their musky scents and hard abs.

Well, as Hettie flirts around the edges of jealousy and getting banged it was nice to see the author apply some restraint with regard to her romance writing background. Still, the restraint lacks authenticity and reads like a dime store romance novel. Hettie is cool, complex, opinionated and obstinate. Her stubbornness often lands her in stupid land but that is her allure.  So why muck up a great character with romance? I just don’t fuking get it. Now I could get all indignant and rail for hours on the good writers out there that make bad choices, but I will show some restraint and allow for the complexities of artistic license to blah blah blah blah.

At the end of the day, I like Hettie without horny dudes and her sister which speaks volumes about this installment. The next novel sets up pretty good in answering my prayers so here’s to forgetting #2 and picking back up where the genius of #1 left off.

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.

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.