Book Review: Seven Blades In Black by Sam Sykes

Publishing Date: April 2019

Publisher: Orbit

ISBN: 9780316363433

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publisher’s Description: Betrayed by those she trusts most and her magic ripped from her, all Sal the Cacophony has left is her name, her story, and the weapon she used to carve both. But she has a will stronger than magic, and knows exactly where to go.
The Scar, a land torn between powerful empires, where rogue mages go to disappear, disgraced soldiers go to die and Sal went with a blade, a gun, and a list of seven names.
Revenge will be its own reward.

Review: This novel follows the revenge trail of Sal from an emotional and narcissistic /self-deprecating view of the world. Her emotions rule her actions to the detriment of others without recourse. Sal is in a constant state of moving through, and creating, catastrophic situations while knowing that the outcomes will be disastrous to friend and foe. The problem with this world view is that it is not believable. To be that aware of yourself and the motivations of others and act without regard, is really steeped in stupidity, and Sal was not written as a stupid person. Quite the opposite. She is obstinate for sure, but not lacking in deductive skills. The question is, can revenge really drive a novel to a conclusive and satisfactory endpoint?

This novel has some spectacular world building and well developed supporting characters. There are some progression issues with the novel, namely how the author forgets to load Cacophony within a scene, to name a few.  What I really enjoyed was Sal’s dynamic perspective that was at once myopic and self-aware. This is also a very long novel that I never tired of. Sal can go on for quite a bit with self-recriminatory drivel, but does not veer too far off the path.

The only big disappointment for me is that Sal was not gifted a return of the “reddish cloud”. So gird your loins as there is a sequel in store.

Book Review: Voyage of the Lanternfish by C. S. Boyack


Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: C. S. Boyack

ISBN: 9780786330786

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.4/5

Publisher’s Description: An honorable man is mistaken for his disreputable father. Now he’s pushed into a political scheme to start a war that will spread across multiple kingdoms. James Cuttler’s fiancé is being held captive to ensure he goes through with the plan. He soon decides his skills are at sea and procures a ship to wage war upon those who disrupted his simple life. He can’t do it alone, so he recruits a band of cutthroats to help him.

Review: Many buckles were swashed in this fantasy adventure novel. From high seas privateers (pirating) to an evilly king’s Regent with manipulative designs for total conquest.

This is a high sea’s adventure with some tongue and cheekiness that can only be internally processed and accepted as palatable due to the author’s intent to do just that. At times Cuttler’s perfect self among a plethora of scrofulous indigents wears a bit thin, as does Fala’s “Hooker with a heart of gold” demeanor.  Serang, Dan, Mal and the bird round out a good supporting cast, while the monsters were just too contrived and veered the story line into the absurd what with their pigeon speak and primitive idioms.

At the end of this novel, I have to say I had a good time. The movement was well thought out and takes you along for the ride. This will be a good adventure series if pursued as long as Fala and the monsters are lost at sea.

Book Review: Philosopher’s War by Tom Miller

Publishing Date: July 2019

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 9781476778181

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.4/5

Publisher’s Description: Thanks to a stunning flying performance and a harrowing shootout in the streets of Boston, Robert Canderelli Weekes’s lifelong dream has come true: he’s the first male allowed to join the US Sigilry Corps’s Rescue and Evacuation service, an elite, all-woman team of flying medics.

Review: This novel follows in the footsteps of ” Philosopher’s Flight” continuing with the life of Robert as he embarks to Europe for the war effort.

What distinguishes this series is not only the story line that has that steampunk vibe coupled with an alternate Earth history, but the writing. The prose just captures you from page to page and creates interesting events and characters in the process. Robert continues to grow in character which is a testament to the writers ability to utilize movement to provide depth.

War is hell. And in this story the gruesome aspects are not shied away from. The gore did not detract from the story line but rather highlighted the direness of the situation while elevating the poignant aspects.

Where the novel falls down is the main plot and scene extension. The “Mutiny” is not really grounded in anything substantive and drives the novel to completion without adequate content. Some of the scenes were fairly long and lacked the alacrity that made the prior novel so good. Some of the supporting characters were not built with enough depth to place them firmly in your imagination thereby rendering them more an irritant than a valuable source of entertainment.

I still had a fairly good time reading this but gave a lower rating as it did not continue to build upon the first novel in exemplary fashion.

Book Review: Rijel 12 by King Everett Medlin


Publishing Date: November 2018

Publisher: Chandra

ISBN: 9781949964028

Genre: SciFi

Rating: DNF

Publisher’s Description: The remote Intergalactic Penal Colony on the planet Rijel 12 is a very profitable enterprise. Its desolate surface is an uninhabitable wasteland relentlessly scorched by its sun, but inside the planet is a vast treasure trove of the most precious resources in the galaxy.

Prisoners sentenced to Rijel 12 know it’s a one-way ticket. It used to be a convict would serve their time and come home. That stopped a while ago. Inmates are forced to work the mines in wretched conditions and the death rate is staggering. Luckily for the warden, new inmates arrive monthly to replenish the labor pool. Business has never been better.

Review: I had a hard time finishing this novel, so I didn’t. I thought the lengthy explanations and exhaustive backstory would subside in favor of the characters interacting in real time. Sadly, the story line is lost in the clutter of lengthy setups to each scene. Additionally the poor Science part of the Fiction is lacking as well. A mining planet that the overseers somehow pump oxygen into, so that the miners can survive, is never adequately explained as are many other instances.


Book Review: Terminal Uprising by Jim C. Hines

Publishing Date: February 2019

Publisher: DAW

ISBN: 9780756412777

Genre: ScFi

Rating: DNF

Publisher’s Description: The Krakau came to Earth in the year 2104. By 2105, humanity had been reduced to shambling, feral monsters. In the Krakau’s defense, it was an accident, and a century later, they did come back and try to fix us. Sort of. It’s been four months since Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos learned the truth of that accident. Four months since she and her team of hygiene and sanitation specialists stole the EMCS Pufferfish and stopped a bioterrorism attack against the Krakau homeworld. Four months since she set out to find proof of what really happened on Earth all those years ago. Between trying to protect their secrets and fighting the xenocidal Prodryans, who’ve been escalating their war against everyone who isn’t Prodryan, the Krakau have their tentacles full. Mops’ mission changes when she learns of a secret Krakau laboratory on Earth. A small group under command of Fleet Admiral Belle-Bonne Sage is working to create a new weapon, one that could bring victory over the Prodryans … or drown the galaxy in chaos. To discover the truth, Mops and her rogue cleaning crew will have to do the one thing she fears most: return to Earth, a world overrun by feral apes, wild dogs, savage humans, and worse. (After all, the planet hasn’t been cleaned in a century and a half!) What Mops finds in the filthy ruins of humanity could change everything, assuming she survives long enough to share it.

Perhaps humanity isn’t as dead as the galaxy thought.

Review: Wow, they should put spoiler alerts on the Publisher Descriptions.

I just couldn’t get through this novel. Too much tongue and cheeky crap that seeks to emulate Douglas Adams in everything but the depth of his characters. A motley cleaning crew of misfits, outwitting everyone and everything while on a quest for righting humanities wrongs. Really? Where have I heard this before?

If you like reading bad space opera with characters and situations that are neither believable nor endearing, then by all means, get this.

Book Review: Amanda Cadabra and the Cellar of Secrets by Holly Bell


Publishing Date: December 2018

Publisher: BooksGoSocial

ISBN: 9781912732234

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.3/5

Publisher’s Description: Amanda Cadabra, covert witch with irascible feline familar, always said that was no place for a research centre. The lost village in Madley Wood, where the leaves don’t grow, and the birds don’t sing. An old secret. A new build. A body. Only one witness. Only one person who can see that witness: Amanda Cadabra. Only one place that can tell the story: the Cellar of Secrets, in 1940. And only one person who can go there: Amanda Cadabra. With, of course, only one grumpy cat. But this is a peaceful English village … who would do anything as criminal as murder? Will she find them before they find her?

Review: The nicest thing I can say about this experience was that it sucked the oxygen out of the plane while I was reading it. Thankfully the masky thingies sprang from their perches before we cycled through anoxia and ultimate demise.

I have been over the same ground, numerous times, where the English style of writing just bores the shjt out of me. Effusive and over-the-top characters coupled with the addled minutia of scene descriptors. The constant and continuous dialogue about shjt that has no bearing on anything will drive you to kick a cat, especially a familiar cat that does nothing other than create pompous instances. This self-aggrandizing and smug approach to writing makes for a reading experience that matches skin abrasions and defenestration.

Really, make me want to like Amanda. Build her within a compelling story line that builds her character with MOVEMENT, not babbling, and definitively not focused on a stupid cat.

Book Review: Soul Remains by Sam hooker


Publishing Date: April 2019

Publisher: Black Spot

ISBN: 9781732935723

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.2/5

Publisher’s Description: It’s Dark in the Old Country. Where do goblins come from? Why do they only turn up in the Old Country, and why do they like swearing so much? In the second book of Terribly Serious Darkness, Sloot Peril—a “hero” who’s staunchly averse to heroics—goes searching for answers. Much to his chagrin, he finds them. Everything changed after the Fall of Salzstadt, but try telling that to the people of the city, whose capacity for denial is unmatched. They have yet to acknowledge that Vlad the Invader cut a bloody swath through their city, that the dead are walking the streets, or that the Domnitor—long may he reign—has fled to wherever despots go on very long vacations while goblin infestations take care of themselves. The worst of villains holds all of the power, unspeakable dark forces are on the rise, and everyone wants to kidnap the Domnitor—long may he reign—for their own nefarious ends. If all of that weren’t bad enough, Sloot’s got the fate of his own soul to worry about. Can his girlfriend help him save the Old Country from annihilation? Is Myrtle really his girlfriend? If all goes well for Sloot—which it never does—he might just sort it all out before the Dark swallows them all up.

Review: Wow this was tedious. Just read the full description and your head will bounce off the table sans narcoleptic fit.

This is a tale woven from the British literary spirit; copious dialogue, endless scene descriptions and an overly contorted story line peppered with outlandish characters. Wading through this was like sticking your hand in a badger hole to find your dropped wallet.

Book Review: The Second Death of Daedaleus Mole by N. Slater


Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: Unbound

ISBN: 9781912618330

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 0.5

Publisher’s Description: The plan: fly his unwanted passenger, Erin, to her destination, squeeze her for every last penny, then immediately find refuge in the nearest pub. Unfortunately, when the galaxy is on the verge of economic collapse and your passenger has a bounty the size of a planet on her head, there’s only so much another drink can do to help.

Review: This may take a bit, and hopefully does not trend into the dramatic (as reviewers are wont to do).

This was one of the best space operatic novels I have read since the late Brian Daley. UP until about the 70% kindle mark and then it turns to pure shjt. Here is why.

The Good: Mole is a great character along with his crazy resident ship’s AI, the alternatively move through universe in an interestingly expansive and at once myopic way. This is mostly due to Moles penchant for drinking himself into oblivion while attempting to make a living. His dualistic nature of depression shielded with forced narcissism makes for a very compelling character. Along the way he picks up a non-human alien that has been bartered as a slave and is now on the run. She is also a compelling character that rejoices in her freedom in rather infantile ways. Add in a huge lumbering female Petradon and the tropes are satisfied.

The Bad: What once was a straight forward story line that progresses in logical fashion turns into a rash of incomprehensible instances. Why in a universe littered with life forms is Erin suddenly so extra fooking speshul as to lead the RESISTANCE! as a figurehead <cough>. How and why is Mole suddenly selected by a semi-omnipotent being to do something of which I am still unclear?

The Ugly: Besides the derailment of the story line which sends the flow of the novel to a screeching halt, you have Erin having inter-species alien lesbian sex with her shipmate. Forget the improbability of alien love-sex and our acceptance of it in literature, as it was none of that. It just did not fit the story line to that point. It was almost as if it were a secondary in consideration and added to satisfy a community or create character depth or……….???

I have only read a couple of novels that went from good to poor in abrupt fashion. Never have I read a novel that begins as a solid 5 stars go to unreadable.

Book Review: The Amulets of Sihr by Abu Bilaal Yakub


Publishing Date: July 2018

Publisher: Books Go Social

ISBN: 9781999387020

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.8/5

Publisher’s Description: As the world plunges into darkness, how will mankind survive the purge? Mukhtar is a young blacksmith, facing everyday struggles to support himself and his widowed mother. Life is brutal and harsh, even harsher while governing body of the empire looks only after its own, and the rest of the people are left to fend for themselves.

Review: Really not much to say here. As with all good novels, the author covers all the bases. Story line, character development, world building and movement all interleave to create a fantastic synergism. Thankfully, the story doesn’t end here and I await the next like a patient grass viper.

Book Review: Darkness by Iain Richmond


Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: Lore Mountain

ISBN:  9781946807090

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.8/5

Publisher’s Description: Lieutenant Jack Falco woke up, said goodbye to his wife and daughter, three hours later his family and half the world’s population was dead. When he couldn’t put a bullet in his head, Falco did the next best thing, took a commission as captain and left for humanity’s furthest boundary, Station Pluto. Five years in a scout-class boat refitted for the long haul, and Falco escapes the horrors of earth only to find something worse waiting in the vast Oort Cloud, an ancient civilization with a history of violent expansion and humanity has unwittingly entered their territory.

Review: At first I thought this was a little smug and self-serving in writing style. Hero flyer/martial expert/doting father/lover/estate owner and all around mans man. Kind of like being in a room of all knowing liberals basking in pseudo collective entitlement. But…..that lasted only a few pages and Falco transforms into a shattered wreck.

So Jacky-boyo captains his ship of devoted followers to the outskirts of the solar system to sniff around for mining opportunities and some anomaly in the Oort cloud. Consummate to his mission, Jack has plenty of naughty/guilty thoughts for his brilliant staff officer. She happens to be hotter than a popcorn fart what with her shaven, tattoo crowned Brazilian noggin’ sitting on top of a hot chassis. MEOW! Thankfully this is not the story line, entire. Humanity has way bigger problems other than whether or not Jack whets his whistle.

The aliens were fairly “alien” and the worlds in which they reside is bizarre in the extreme. This novel was one that grew from so-so beginnings into a vast world of possibilities, so extreme as to be rejected from the pits of normalcy. The follow up novel should bring more of the bizarre galactic to life.