Book Review: The Soldier by Neal Asher

Publishing Date: November 2018

Publisher: Skyhorse

ISBN: 9781597809610

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.3/5

Publisher’s Description: In a far corner of space, on the very borders between humanity’s Polity worlds and the kingdom of the vicious crab-like prador, is an immediate threat to all sentient life: an accretion disc, a solar system designed by the long-dead Jain race and swarming with living technology powerful enough to destroy entire civilizations.

Review: This was an ambitious voyage into a complex SciFi universe. Principally the players in this universe exist either as functional AI derivatives or fully aware and in control of the subterfuge game. The humanistic element is left bereft except for a pair of humans transformed by their adopted planet.

I initially had no interest in continuing after the first couple of chapters, due to the quick immersion of a complex universe via a rabid story line.  So, with nothing else to read I girded the loin-age and finished what became a very long novel.

The Good~ Hard SciFi at its finest resides within these pages. The scope and range that is expressed within is wholly expansive and leaves you meek under the grandiosity of the Universe depicted. From runcibles that capture and move singularities to a planet-sized alien that can jump through the folds of space. Android golems and lobster/crab like aliens round out the weirdness.

The Bad~ Like a few reviewers out there, the character development was pretty thin. You really don’t give a shjt what happens to anyone/thing/alien. Although you really want to care for Dragon, the author doesn’t give you any emotional toe-holds and your hope that Angel finds his humanity, is severed in favor of the grander “plan”.

The Ugly~ Not much ugly here other than this is a really long novel and rest assured, there is no closure to be had.

Am I going to read “The Jain Universe” #2? For sure but let’s get some character depth to balance out the clinical AI approach.

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Book Review: The Winter Riddle by Sam Hooker

 

Publishing Date: November 2018

Publisher: Black Spot

ISBN:9781732400702

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.7/5

Publisher’s Description:  In this updated version of Sam Hooker’s humorous dark fantasy novel that’s a perfect holiday read, The Winter Riddle destiny calls on an unlikely hero to save the North Pole. The Winter Witch would have been more than happy to be left alone entirely, and that’s exactly the sort of person who sticks out like a sore thumb when destiny goes shopping for heroes. Destiny has a nose for a bargain. Why pay full retail for a willing hero who’s all biceps and tally-ho?

Review: If you like a narrative that embraces “The Princess Bride, Monty Python and A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“, then you will love the Winter Riddle. A fantasy realm with despotic rulers, wizards, sarcastic familiars, Norse Gods and Santa!

I really enjoyed this novel, mainly for the characterization which is set within a lively moving story line. The Winter Witch is just too funny/snarky for her own good and is rivaled in sarcasm by her crow familiar…..Redcrow. I really hope we get more tales of the Winter Witch to add some levity to a genre gone mostly romantical.

Book Review: The Late Great Wizard by Sara Hanover

 

Publishing Date: September 2018

Publisher: DAW

ISBN: 9780756414344

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.7/5

Publisher’s Description: A young woman must work with a magician who is not what he seems to find her father in this new contemporary portal fantasy series. With her father vanished under suspicious circumstances and her old life destroyed, Tessa Andrews is determined to pick up the pieces and forge ahead. If only their borrowed house didn’t shake and rumble as if haunted. But at least she and her mom have a roof over their heads, so her luck couldn’t be all bad, could it?

Review: Wow, two excellent novels in a row. How lucky am I? While you’re picking jaw of said floor, this was not all cookies and cream. Let us start with…..

The Good~ Tessa is a great character. Strong willed, tough in a fight, independent and curious. She grows wonderfully with the movement while the supporting cast is purveyed in a slow reveal. The story line, overall, is interesting and the magic, palatable.

The Bad~ Intentionally slow parsing of critical information was relayed between the characters in order to create suspense. This muddling of the story line does not a good novel make. It tended to lurch here and there, especially when Tessa had critical information. She keeps clandestine interactions mostly to herself when that knowledge would benefit the group and enhance the quest. This faulty reasoning insures that things will eventually go awry.

The Ugly~ This goes out to all authors of the YA/Romance bent. We (men), do not fucking smell like pine needles, leather and musky chocolate. At best, we smell like turpentine and b.o. Mostly we smell like ass. We do not know anyone named Kai, and if we did we would beat him senseless. So why, why, why did Ms. Hanover ruin a very good novel with this teen-lusting crush shit, slavered within a love tribangle?  Covering the bases by appealing to all types of readers in hopes of scoring a popular read was my guess. Did she succeed?

Tuco’s Remarks~ I think the romance was secondary to Tessa’s outlook on life and the novel, as a whole, really shined with the authors writing ability. There is a highly creative mind behind the pen and I look forward to any subsequent novel by this author.

Book Review: The Razor by J. Barton Mitchell

 

Publishing Date: November 2018

Publisher: Tor

ISBN:  9780765387929

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.9/5

Publisher’s Description: Brilliant engineer Marcus Flynn has been sentenced to 11-H37 alongside the galaxy’s most dangerous criminals. A hard labor prison planet better known as the Razor, where life expectancy is short and all roads are dead ends.

Review: The idea that this tidally locked planet supports life in a thin band between the hot and cold sides is, pretty thin, almost razor like. Ha. What we know about tidally locked planets (that are not gas giants) is that life would find a hard purchase. Not impossible just not very likely. I like that this author takes a step off an established scientific idea and ramps it up. Gives it that “Ringworld” feel that I have been missing. I think Mathew Costello said it best in reference to this novel, “Cutting-edge SciFI “.

This is a fantastic novel. Period. It has everything you could hope for and is nice and long so the ride lasts a good long time. This definitely has a few more sequels to get through and I am exited as fuk for them. Only minor misstep: A firing pin is not pulled back to charge a gun as it is inside the bolt carrier.

Book Review: Alen Bounty Hunter: Vol. 1 by Adrian F. Wassel

Publishing Date: August 2018

Publisher: Vault

ISBN: 9781939424273

Genre: SciFi Comic

Rating: 3.0/5

Publisher’s Description: Ben Madsen is a bounty hunter. Yeah…he knows how that sounds. But Ben likes his job—until the bondsman convinces him to take a bounty he doesn’t want, to get the kind of paycheck he needs. When the big payday turns out to be more than Ben bargained for, he’s swept into an otherworldly conspiracy and dropped into alien city hidden right here on Earth. Good thing he’s the best man for the job—sort of. Hero or fall guy, Ben Madsen will prove one thing during his misadventures: He’s really good at jumping from high places and surviving.

Review: A bit of a departure from the norm, this comic scifi barely delivers a cogent story line. The only two things good about it was the characterization of Madsen and some of the illustrations. The aliens were marginal and the world building finite.

Book Review: Dead Reckoning (911: Book 3) by Grace Hamilton

 

Publishing Date: June 2018

Publisher: Relay

ISBN:9781721136407

Genre: Post Apoc

Rating: 1.4/5

Publisher’s Description: After destroying the Church of Humanity, Jim Parker is a hero of the rebellion. But his mission is just getting started. Living on the run takes its toll on Finn, Ava, and their friends, but Parker gains hope from the ordinary people he sees performing small acts of resistance every day. When word reaches the rebels that the malicious Colonel Brian Hays is inside the Council compound, they hatch a plan to infiltrate the stronghold and take him out. Parker offers to lead the operation, but he has another goal in mind: convincing his daughter Sara to join his side—whether she wants to or not.

Review: I was looking forward to this third in the series, 911, due to the prior novels use of movement to build characters. Yeah there was a a lot of rapey gangs, raping the rape out of anything rape-able, but some perspectives are driven in that direction. Me, not so much.

In this installment we get a more static look at our players as they settle in to fight FEMA. Although the movement is good, Sara and Ava languish under patterned roles. How Sara goes from church spy rape victim to Recon Scout Uber Killer Babe whom everyone calls a hero and makes old men cry with their rapey stories, in the span of months, is fooking beyond me. Ava is a bit more believable as she has been in the trenches the longest, but strangely takes a back seat to Sara. Oh and lets not forget covering the PC bases with Ava getting hot for Sara. Fug.

The other not so bright spots in this novel were the guns. I have harped on this in the past so I won’t bore you with the details. (Me) professional action shooter for years….blah, blah blah. Anyhoo, Sara likes to cup her shooting hand, which would make Sara a very bad shot. Sara and the bad guys also seem to have a penchant for Sig Sauer’s and Beretta’s. Both of which are shit guns and no one uses in competition. How everyone gets a Sig, is again, beyond me. Dumb FEMA I get, as they are all issued the same side arms in the military (except for specops).  But this is also another fall down as FEMA seems to have both gun models. Does Everyone only shoot Sigs and Berrettas in this novel? There is also this weird penchant our heroes exhibit in collecting guns from the fallen. Where are they putting them? Why would they do that if they have the same gun/caliber? Would you not, in a heated situation, just grab the ammo/magazines? When Wisconsin (based on guns owned) is the third largest standing army in the world, you would think there would be a large variety of guns without the need to pick them up in tight situations.

Mostly the novel read as an interplay between Sara, Ava and Parker’s tribulations. The constant life history interludes halted the movement and reduced the novel to the mundane. So what I got out of this novel was the developing inclination that the author really doesn’t live what she is writing about even though she could be a prepper. Her knowledge seems to be derived by supposition and study but not actively living it.  The small things that you should know are missed and that lent an inauthentic air to the novel. Her bio is long winded and is more about selling herself as a survivalist in order to lend some sort of credibility to the novel. I am not buying it.

Book Review: The Night Crossing by Robert Massello

 

Publishing Date: September 2018

Publisher: 47 North

ISBN: 9781503904101

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.7/5

Publisher’s Description: It begins among the Carpathian peaks, when an intrepid explorer discovers a mysterious golden box. She brings it back with her to the foggy streets of Victorian London, unaware of its dangerous power…or that an evil beyond imagining has already taken root in the city. Stoker, a successful theater manager but frustrated writer, is drawn into a deadly web spun by the wealthy founders of a mission house for the poor. Far from a safe haven, the mission harbors a dark and terrifying secret.

Review: I had read ” The Jekyll Revelation” or rather gave it a DNF due to some perceived inconsistencies. I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this work, due to the well built characters and shifting movement. The world building is great as is the era in which it is depicted.

“So why you no give 5 stars!!?”. Without giving too much away, the last third of the novel takes a shift into an area (place in time) I was not a fan of. It is purely a personal preference and most assuredly will not echo others sentiments.