Book Reivew: The Third Coin by J.A. Howard

Publishing Date: June 2014

Publisher: Apple Isalnd Press

ISBN:9781500550912

Genre: Fantasy/ YA

Rating: 4.4/5

Publisher’s Description: Bea Brightman is smart; smart enough to know that being popular matters. And after attending eight schools in as many years, she’s got making friends down to a science. That is until her famed archaeologist father moves them to New York City in search of an ever-elusive coin. There she meets Nisha Lakewood who may hold the key to finding it. The only problem is, Nisha wants nothing to do with her.

Review: A very intricately crafted novel that is surprising in delivery with an attuned sense of creative intent. That surprise may have to do (in part) to the Scooby Doo cover art coupled with the Publisher’s Description lending itself to teens flouncing about with one-dimensional interest.

Bea is a superbly written character and draws you in with her focus on the mundane and insightful commentary. A great role model for kids yearning to be comfortable and at peace with who they are without regard. Inter-scholastic pressures not withstanding, the story line takes a comfortable turn into the fantastic and immediately pulls the reader into rooting for the home team. Meanwhile there is this constant build of uneasiness coupled with moments of positive interaction and clarity. This is very intelligent writing that keeps the reader yearning for mystery while providing a comfortable base in the form of family and friendship.

A few bad reviews rounds out what is considered generally favorable by the Goodreads crowd. There was nothing consistent in their dislike of the novel that I could find. One reviewer said there were plot holes everywhere but I think she meant “pot holes” as I could not discern the holes that she was referencing. Sure there are impossible events but this is a work of fantasy. “Preachy writing style” and “Annoying parts” are also referenced without elaboration. Yet I suppose the author deserves this kind of coverage as she rates reviews without content as well (“Becoming” by Micheal Obama).

All in all, a read I looked forward to every night. The ending hints at continuance so lets see if the characters continue to grow.

 

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Book Review: A Chain Across the Dawn (Excerpt) by Drew Williams

Publishing Date: March 2019

Publisher: Tor

ISBN:9781250186157

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher’s Description: It’s been three years since Esa left her backwater planet to join the ranks of the Justified. Together, she and fellow agent Jane Kamali have been traveling across the known universe, searching for children who share Esa’s supernatural gifts. On a visit to a particularly remote planet, they learn that they’re not the only ones searching for gifted children. They find themselves on the tail of a mysterious being with impossible powers who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the very children that Esa and Jane are trying to save.

Review: I am going to have to refrain from doing a thorough review on a Preview. I will state that this follows the same story line tenure as told through Esa’s eyes rather than Jane’s.  Not sure that was a good choice in perspective shifting. I like where the world building is headed, just not sure about the excessive internalization.

Book Review: Billy Blacksmith: Demon Slayer by Ben Ireland

 

Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: Ireland Ink

ISBN:9780997786026

Genre: Fantasy/YA

Rating: 2.7/5

Publisher’s Description: Billy has spent his whole life keeping his head down in school and trying to survive the endless parade of foster homes.When a three hundred pound spider emerges from under his bed intent on drinking his blood, Billy discovers he is the main player in an ancient war between demons and humans. With his best friends Ash-Lea and Greyson, and a reformed demon as his ally, Billy prepares to face an invasion of demonic spiders and the General that leads them.

Review: A short read that encompasses all the things YA. Teen angst, demons and giant portal hopping spiders rounds out the story line. I will say that in our current era of “So it is above, as it is below” brand of secularism, it is not surprising to find writers embracing the “Demons are good” rhetoric. This progressive societal branding only diminishes those who embrace it while programming young minds to accept the negative as palatable and normative.

Book Review: Drowned Under By Wendall Thomas

Publishing Date: March 2019

Publisher: Poison Pen Press

ISBN: 9781464210624

Genre: Mystery

Rating: DNF

Publisher’s Description: Eggnog notwithstanding, travel agent Cyd Redondo is not looking forward to the holidays. The borough of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn—along with most of her family—holds her responsible for landing her Uncle Ray in a minimum security prison. So, when Cyd’s ex-husband, Barry Manzoni, announces his parents have disappeared from an Australian cruise, she rushes Down Under to enlist the help of travel liaison and friend Harriet Archer, who offers a free cabin on the Tasmanian Dream and insider assistance with the search.

Review: I am wondering how anyone can find this novel (tripe) entertaining. In the author’s attempt at being glib and funny, the pages are peckered with this constant stream of internal dialogue that is supposed to encompass every scene with commentary in the form of witticisms. Add in how hot she thinks she is and how every guy wants a piece of her middle aged flesh and you have pure literary drivel. What really detracted from the overall story line was the focus on all of Cyd’s accessories. From designer bags, dresses and shoes, this barrage of nonsensical bullshjt was never ending.

Cyd’s characterization is at once vapid, scattered and vaguely offensive to females.  The supporting characters are one dimensional and drive the scenes to awkward resolutions that favor dimwits flouncing act. The scene development is right on the verge of fantastical. I think the author hoped this would add vibrant movement, only it comes off as thinly sheathed in reality and lacking in clarity.

Author James W. Ziskin is not only in the preface, hailing accolades of this work like a Perseid meteor shower, but rates this novel a 5 star work in Goodreads. Coincidentally the author lists James Ziskin in the acknowledgments. We also have Kirkus Reviews spinning their paid-for shtick as well. I would skip all of Ziskin’s novels as anyone who had really read this is busy self-defenestrating.

Book Review: Dawn of the Exile by Mitchell Hogan

 

Publishing Date: March 2019

Publisher: 47 North

ISBN:9781542040303

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.6/5

Publisher’s Description: Years have passed since the demon Tarrik and his master, the sorcerer Ren, destroyed the servants of Samal and suppressed the very essence of the vile lord. The cost was greater than even a demon could have imagined. But in the realms of demons and humans, no evil can be fully controlled, and no one’s true fate can be foretold. Including Tarrik’s. He’s been summoned once more, now by the vengeful Linriel, who’s fallen in with one of Samal’s ravaged survivors.

Review: This story continues on the heels of a very good novel that I reviewed awhile ago, “Shadow of the Exile”. Tarrik is once again summoned by a sorcerer with nefarious plans and away we go.

This author is very good at creating intense movement coupled with great character development. When you look forward to every scene and silently root for the characters to prevail, you have a winner. Most sequels suck and rely on a patterned rendition to create a series. Although this continues the story line, the world building whisks you away to an alternate reality.

The only fall downs were minor where scene consistency lacked resolution. For instance; Sekrie is impaled, has her leg broken and twisted but somehow is fit and hale in the next scene. This lack of continuity diminished a very good novel.

Tarrik’s redemption in the form of a new love will have to wait as I assume there will be another in the series.

 

Book Review: Firebrandt’s Legacy by David Summers

Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: SFFWA

ISBN:9781885093851

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.5/5

Publisher’s Description: Ellison Firebrandt fights the good fight for Earth. Under a letter of marque, he raids the ships of Earth’s opponents, slowing down their progress and ability to compete with the home system. On the planet Epsilon Indi 2, he rescues a woman named Suki Mori from a drug lord, only to find she isn’t so happy about living a pirate’s life.

Review: Where to start. Overall story line was fairly entertaining. A space pirate ship questing the shipping lanes for viable plunder. This approach embraces constant movement while entertaining  elements of the weird. There is this hard authorial push to make Firebrandt this moral relic while capturing the swashbuckling ideal. He is at once ruthless and willing to kill if met with resistance while caring deeply for his crew.

Did I buy it? Yeah, I liked Firebrandt’s dichotomous personality and the author does a good job at keeping the movement constant and interesting. The scenes are variegated enough to capture attention along with the insertion of strange aliens. “So why you give 2 stars!!?”.

Suki fukin Mori. Try this on. “I was found naked and strapped to a chair but the captwins swaved me and now once the crew trusts me, I mutiny but the captwins forgives me cause I am so hot and shjt. I can build an alien jump drive in less than three hours cause I am so smart….and hot. Now I love Firedick but tease him cause sex (due to venereal disease) is taboo but we finally do it and now I run around like a mother hen with my hands on my hips, admonishing him. That’s love right?”

Well, besides the cringe worthy cover art, you can thank Suki for tanking this novel. Personally I would have shoved her out an air lock.

Black Ice by Grace Hamilton

 

Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: Relay

ISBN: 9781793352866

Genre: Fiction/ Post-Apoc

Rating: 2.4/5

Publisher’s Description: Nathan Tolley’s wife is gone, leaving him adrift in a vast ocean of bitter white that promises nothing but heartache and despair. Yet, his weary band of travelers continue to look to him to secure their safety. But Nate’s no leader. Every decision he’s made on their dangerous cross-country journey has taken them from bad to worse. First Detroit. Then Chicago. Now, Wyoming, which proves the deadliest of all.

Review: “Black …..Ice.., because ice is cold and not black but cold like a beating heart that is black with malice…and stuff….”. It is not unexpected, with this author, to get pelted with stupidity from the onset. It is more of a harbinger of what is to come…a warning of content rife with survival errors, cliched characters couched within a “made for movie” story line.

After having read this novel I have to say that I did not do it justice in the preface.  Grace corrects a lot of her firearm fails that riddle the other novels. In one standoff Nathan is able to identify a specific shotgun model when pointed at him. How this is possible is anyone’s guess. Most of the novel resides within the emotional interactive realm where pages are devoted to the interplay of the characters. This tends to stall the movement and really doesn’t develop the characters in a direction that is interesting.

The movie cliches are pretty thick in this novel. Every interaction that goes awry is with some “Boss”-like evilly guy you might find replicates of in Dungeons and Dragons. For example some Detroit Boss is spending all his resources on tracking Nathan and Crew across the wastes of America. Really? Why? And who would give a fuk?

So while Nathan is sparing the lives of Bosses whom sole intent is to hang or torture them, he kills people with his bare hands to “swave hims wittle pumpkin’s” from religious indoctrination. But see that’s o.k. in Graces world where extinguishing a present threat to prevent future harm to the group is abhorrent. I get the whole “humanity” angle that the author is going for, but it just doesn’t work for this particular apocalypse.

I have to say that these novels are getting better and the characters more interesting and complex. The situations are highly contrived and not-believable but provide a good source of entertainment if not taken seriously. Also I don’t think “Blatter” is a word.