Book Review: Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

Publishing Date: February 2019

Publisher: Jolly Fish, North Star

ISBN:9781631632877

Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk

Rating: 4.2/5

Publisher’s Description: Thirteen-year-old Lily Harman always dreamed of adventure. A strong-willed girl, Lily felt trapped in a life of Victorian stuffiness at her prim boarding school. But after her father-a famous inventor-disappears on a routine zeppelin flight, Lily’s life gets turned upside down. Now cared for by her guardian, the heartless Madame Verdigris, Lily is quite certain that she’s being watched. Mysterious, silver-eyed men are lurking in the shadows, just waiting for their chance to strike. But what could they possibly want from her?

Review: This had a hard time, initially, getting up to speed. We get a little mired in a “Matilda” like story where Lily is at boarding school with a mean head mistress while her Father suddenly goes missing. I can see where some reviewers lacked the patience to see it through or it affected their perception of the book entire. If you can get through the first 3rd of the novel, you will strike gold and become engaged in a steampunkian adventure.

Like most novels, once the movement begins in earnest, so evolve the characters. Lily is an engaging character from the start and Robert adds a complimentary perspective to the story line. Anna is a great addition and comes at the right time to move events to critical mass.

This YA novel has a bit of something for everyone. For me the writing was engaging enough to stay tuned and I am glad I did. I look forward to the further adventures of Lily and Robert in “MoonLocket“.

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Book Review: Shadow of the Excile by Mitchell Hogan

 

Publishing Date: October 2018

Publisher: 49 North

ISBN:9781503903227

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publisher’s Description: Outcast and exiled, the demon Tarrik Nal-Valim has long been forgotten by the world of humans. At least, so he thinks. But when he is summoned as a last resort by a desperate sorcerer, it seems as though his past has caught up with him. The sorcerer is Serenity “Ren” Branwen, the daughter of Tarrik’s former master—and friend. Though she seems cold, driven, and ruthless, Tarrik can tell that Ren has her back against a wall, and he is compelled by ferocious powers to obey her.

Review: So……this….was…really….good. This parsing of verbiage hopefully drives home that point. Tarrik is called and bound by a sorceress, to help protect her while she pursues a hidden quest of her own. This constant movement creates an interesting and varied world and even more interesting characters. The magic is very involved and intricate in approach and varies from person to person.  The only downer is the oft repeated “Hiding shadow blade” reasoning among others. There is no need to re-iterate instances. We are accomplished readers not idiots.

I was holding my breath, hoping beyond hope that the two main characters in this novel would NOT devolve into a romance. And thankfully Tarrik just wants to find ways to break the sorcerers enslavement in order to kill her. Yeah baby! Who knows, maybe down the road something love-buds, at which point I will shjt-can the novel. So enjoy it while it lasts and get it while it’s hot!

Book Review: Rogue Dungeon by Eden Hudson and J. Hunter

 

Publishing Date: July 2018

Publisher: Shadow Alley

ASIN: B07FKYZFYD

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.6

Publisher’s Description: Roark von Graf—hedge mage and lesser noble of Traisbin—is one of only a handful of Freedom fighters left, and he knows the Resistance’s days are numbered. Unless they do something drastic…But when a daring plan to unseat the Tyrant King goes awry, Roark finds himself on the run through an inter-dimensional portal, which strands him in a very unexpected location: an ultra-immersive fantasy video game called Hearthworld. He can’t log out, his magic is on the fritz, and worst of all, he’s not even human.

Review: Ok, this was really good in that there was great movement set in a real interesting world. The entertainment value is really high and I am already begging the author(s) to send me the next in the series.

So why does it work so well? I think the authors really complimented each other. Take Eden Hudson’s wild and creative imagination (that sometimes gets a little carried away) and add Hunter’s restraint and cogent process and you get novel gold. Just too fun to put down. GET THIS!

Book Review: Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland by Michael Eging

Publishing Date:  July 2017

Publisher: BooksGoSocial

ISBN: 9781532020209

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.8

Publisher’s Description: As the Frank kingdom prepares for war, Roland, young heir to the Breton March, has been relegated to guard duty until a foreign emissary entrusts him with vital word of a new threat to the kingdom. Now Roland must embark on a risky journey to save all he loves from swift destruction.

Review: This novel is at once compelling, ridiculous, entertaining and maudlin. Let’s look at the ridiculous.

Roland is written as an animation hero straight out of Disney, only more visceral in presentation. He is stalwart, honest/truthful to a fault, abhors evil, and men flock to him for leadership in battle. He only has one true love and puts others before himself…in all things. It’s like Dudley Dooright made a night deposit at the Disney sperm bank, and out popped Roland. Of course where would Roland be without a sidekick? He gets one on the field of battle by defeating a giant sized Norseman who then swears undying loyalty to him. Of course the Dane is loud and boisterous while hefting a mighty battle ax (yawn). So the tropes are many, as are the fat-rendered cliche’s and every instance where events become near impossible and most dire…..there is Roland to save the day.

Meanwhile Snidely Whiplash……er, uh….Giselon is conspiring to kill the King and take the throne. Giselon also has a sidekick named Muttley, er……an evil Priest (is there any other kind?) who flitters about the edges of the story line sneering his way into your heart.

So, what did I think of it all? I fukin’ loved it. I know, kick me in the balls and throw away my reviewer badge, but dang this was good.  While Roland dashes to the rescue of those less fortunate or able, AND against superior odds, you cannot but help root for the guy. What’s not to like about blonde locks flying, sword cut cutting and slashing it’s way through the evil that conspires to rid the godly anointed Frank King from this earth?

So throw away your inhibitions and righteous indignation in favor of some literary mastication that may seek a purge on the rolling decks of clarity.  Ok, that didn’t make much sense but neither did this novel.

Book Review: A Breach In The Heavens by NS Dolkart

 

Publishing Date: October 2018

Publisher: Angry Robot

ISBN:9780857667403

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.7/5

Publisher’s Description: The End Times have arrived. For over a decade, the sorceress Phaedra has had a single, vital task: to keep the world of the elves separated from humanity’s. But when her world experiences its first skyquake, it’s clear that something is very wrong. Has all Phaedra’s work been for nothing? She’ll need a new plan – and her friends’ help – to keep the worlds from smashing into each other and shredding all of creation.

Review:

First Movement: For about the first 30% of the novel with get all the main characters crying into their cups, or just basically ruminating about life and the God’s. Throw in some inter-personal tension and there you go. Unlike Silent Hall, where you had quests galore and movement tied to character development, this installment treads water like a retarded beagle. I guess now that the characters are settled (and older) they can express their inner blahs in hopes of adding depth. What you really get is a lot of petty recriminations and self-doubting. Not an expected turn of the writing wheel I was hoping for.

Second Movement: The story line picks up around the 70% mark as the exhaustive backstory runs its course and current events push the characters into action.  The only interesting character through out the novel is Phaedra. She is constantly on the move with entertaining interactions via the “quest”. The others reside in pedantic land, ruminating about life.

Final Movement: This phase of the novel condenses action that should have been spread evenly over the course of the story line.  It is at once surprising in delivery and expected in outcome. When the whole premise of the novel is iterated at length through out, you can only feign surprise at the end reveal. This “no chance at failure” leaves you reading comfortably but lacks the sincerity of unbridled creativity. Where is the chance that events fail to follow a patterned route thereby drawing the hopeful reader in?

Final Thoughts: A great series that ended with a burp. You can still enjoy the writing in this installment as the technical aspects are sound and the characters you have grown to love, still reside within.