Book Review: Fortuna by Kristyn Merbeth


Publishing Date: November 2019

Publisher: Orbit

ISBN: 9780316453998

Genre: SciFi – I think?

Rating: 1.7/5

Publisher’s Description: Scorpia Kaiser has always stood in Corvus’s shadow until the day her older brother abandons their family to participate in a profitless war. However, becoming the heir to her mother’s smuggling operation is not an easy transition for the always rebellious, usually reckless, and occasionally drunk pilot of the Fortuna, an aging cargo ship and the only home Scorpia has ever known.
But when a deal turns deadly and Corvus returns from the war, Scorpia’s plans to take over the family business are interrupted, and the Kaiser siblings are forced to make a choice: take responsibility for their family’s involvement in a devastating massacre or lay low and hope it blows over.
Too bad Scorpia was never any good at staying out of a fight.

Review: I think this is a new writer and I am the first one to plant an ol’ review on here. So I am thinking kind(er) thoughts and expressing in a more…voluble way.

This would have been great…IF the story line either shjt or got off the pot. The long winded and winding road that leads to a culmination in barely audible farts, left me bereft of the want I feel for characters. Take for instance, Scorpia. Well, how many times do we have to experience her stupid choices and drunkard lifestyle? Once is enough for me and if I see that she is growing into something better or worse, then kudos to the author for building a character you can root for. Shey, constantly “BITING HER LIP” does not a vulnerable character make. She should have been blown out an airlock when found stowed away. Mainly for her actions but mostly for her characterization.

So without hammering on all the characters and the thinness therein, the idea that 4 habitable worlds exist in the same solar system might be statistically improbable. One is tidally locked, yet supports life and a breathable atmosphere. Hmmm, a lot of things have to go right for that to happen. Like only the twilight strip of land between the cooked side and the freezing side might support life.  So planet Gaia, in this instance, is a fail. Not enough information is given about the other planets to make a call, yet I suppose this was on purpose in order to create a novel without a solid science foundation.

So there is much clenching of fists, biting of lips, clenching of teeth aaaaaaand, the rising of bile in ones throat to emphasize emotions that are adolescent in theme and wildly inappropriate. Still, I kept reading this train wreck because somewhere within lurks some talent that can rise with time and good editing advice.

Book Review: These Wicked Waters by Emily Layne


Publishing Date: October 2019

Publisher: Owl Hollow Press

ISBN: 9781945654398

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.0/5

Publisher’s Description: A centuries-old curse plagues the island of Viaii Nisi and an ancient enemy lurks beneath the depths of the surrounding water. Annie Mayfield has heard all the stories and rumors about the island that is now home to the brand new Mayfield Villa resort, and she is definitely not psyched about having to spend her summer working there. The island s name alone Viaii Nisi, or violent island is enough to make any sane person seriously reconsider it as a vacation destination. Then there are the mysterious deaths of every previous owner!

Review: Thinking mystery? Think not. Think hormone addled dimwit flouncing around checking out hot boyz. Think Tinder….under the sea or some shjt. Do teens really read this? I thought they couldn’t dig their collective noses out of their phones long enough procreate. Anyhoo, this author needs some polishing in the ol’ story line and character development departments. If you build flouncy hormone addled douche bags that fail to grow with the movement, then thin characters you maketh.

Fairly exhaustive reading due to the lengthy forays into dialogue and prolonged scenes. It just took to long for the story line to culminate. All the scene “backing -and- forthing” was tedious where the novel could have been compacted while delivering more emotional punch. The sirens were inventive in construct and believable in delivery. The fight scenes are a jumbled mess and really make no spacial sense if you follow along with discernment.

The author gets points for being hotter than a two dollar pistol (misogyny works both ways baby!) and does have a lot of talent waiting to flourish. 1.5 stars for the work, 1 star for the hotness.

Book Review: Soot by

Publisher: Doubleday

Publishing Date: February 2020

ISBN: 9780385540223

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: DNF

Publishers Description: It has been ten years since Thomas Argyle, Charlie Cooper and Livia Naylor set off a revolution by releasing Smoke upon the world. But the consequences were far greater than they had imagined, and the world has fractured. Erasmus Renfrew, the avowed enemy of Smoke, is now Lord Protector of Engand. Thomas Argyle is in India, on a mission to find out the origins of Smoke. Mowgli, whose body was used to trigger the tempest that unleashed the Smoke, now calls himself Nils and is a chameleon-like thief living in New York. Elizabeth Renfrew, Erasmus’ niece is in hiding. Her uncles experiments endured has given her a strange power over Smoke. Believing her uncle’s agents have found her, so she flees to New York with a theater troupe led by Balthazar Black, an impresario with secrets of his own. There they encounter Nils, and a Machiavellian Company man named Smith. All these people seek to discover the true nature of Smoke, and thereby control its power. As their destinies entwine, a cataclysmic confrontation looms, and the Smoke will either bind them together or rend the world.

Review: I really tried to read this through but was unable. Stilted scene development coupled with flat characters rendered the process of reading interminable. Seemed like more of a personal rendition that met the authors fanciful ideas of an alternate reality i.e. not really written to capture at least a little portion of interest in everyone.  What do they always say?……“Never write novels for yourself…save it for poetry”. ~ A. Mikkelsen

Book Review: The Quantum Garden by Derek Künsken


Publishing Date: October 2019

Publisher: Solaris


Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.8/5

Publisher’s Description: Days ago, Belisarius pulled off the most audacious con job in history. He’s rich, he’s back with the love of his life, and best of all, he has the Time Gates, arguably the most valuable things in existence. Nothing could spoil this……except the utter destruction of his people and the world they lived on. To save them, he has to make a new deal with the boss he just double-crossed, to travel back in time and work his quantum magic once again, tracking down the source of the wormholes.
If he can avoid detection, dodge paradox and stay ahead of the eerie, relentless Scarecrow, he might just get back to his own time alive.

Review: Much like the Quantum Magician, this does not disappoint. Since I loved this novel let’s pick on the points that were a bit weak. The story line was too carefully planned, almost as if every instance is predicated on a definitive outcome. There just weren’t any surprises. Perhaps I have grown used to the writing style in so much that what was once random and surprising is now a bit patterned.

This author does a fantastic job at world building while deftly weaving an intricate story line. There is a sense of optimism coupled with an an underlying unease that creates a pull for the characters to succeed. The alieness of worlds is touched upon with some explanatory infusion and brings great depth to the scenes as they develop.

SciFi is hard to come by these days what with romance writers taking a big smelly shjt in the genre, but GOOD SciFi is really hard to come by and this author nails it….every time.


Book Review: Troll Nation by Eden Hudson


Publishing Date: June 2019

Publisher: Shadow Alley Press


Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publisher’s Description: Roark von Graf—former noble and hedge-mage, current mid-level mob in a MMORPG—has taken down the Dungeon Lord of the Cruel Citadel, but the battle has only started.

Review: Well no free ARC this time, sucker.

Is no one going to fix the massive plot hole that buggers the whole novel from the get go? Well, like it or not I had to move on and douse myself with content to soothe the ragged edges of betrayal. OK, I am not fine.

Anyhoo, this was another fun read from our dynamic writing duo that I hear are soon to be married! Congrats and all that. Eden is already pregnant so they jumped the gun a bit. Eden Hunter has a nice oxymoronic ring to it. I guess the babies name (if a boy) will be Hudson Hawk Hunter or Triple H, and if a girl – Jamie Den Hunter.

I dig this series and all the supporting characters. There is still that dash of wit and ridicule that the griefing and general interplay creates and a love interest is finally consummated (much like our authors!). This installment felt a bit rushed probably because of the imminent birthing. So quickly shell out some coin cause this time you gotta pay for the ending.







Book Review: Remnant by Daniel Peyton


Publisher: Books Go Social

Publishing Date: July 2019


Genre: SciFi

Rating: DNF

Publishers Description: The year is 2522. Anna is a Remnant—a secret Christian in a world that has banned any form of religion. She is also an astro-geologist working with her Robot, named Z, for the Planetary Science Commission. The PSC has worked for 200 years to find alien life on another planet, and finally, after two centuries, a primitive lifeform has been discovered. Faced with the reality of evolved primitives on a forested moon, Anna begins to question all she has ever believed.

Review: In the author’s note, he states that Christianity is a vital part of this novel and that faith is the most profound part of the heroines journey. Did not really find the depth of faith, or even the Christian message in this work. What I found was a kind of dystopian society run by petty zealots that were not believable in any way, shape or form. Additionally, as a main character, Anna is a whiney, myopic cry baby that somehow gets her way in all things while being totally clueless.

The very idea that because someone cries on a bible and then teaches the written word to an alien cat she has sex with, IS NOT A CHRISTIAN MESSAGE.  I really don’t know if they had sex, but once the make out scene started I stopped reading.  The novel resides about 50% of the time following worldly political pursuits (are not our answers found elsewhere?) in the form of Cruella deVille (Jessie) and Dr. Evil (Richard Skye).

There is no scripture here, no deeper message of faith that makes you think about your place in the universe and all that is unseen but wholly evident in a life. To be blunt this story is about a slut that has the hots for an alien. Oh, and a tear soaked bible with a convenient robot buddy to expedite the story line. I would skip this work and read Heinlein’s, “Stranger in a Strange Land“.

Book Review: The Jumpgate by Robert Stadnik

Publisher: Author Buzz

Publishing Date: August 2019

ISBN: 9781077530942

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.4/5

Publishers Description: After being trapped within the solar system for nearly a century, humanity is finally free to explore the galaxy. But questions still remain about the aliens that oppressed them. Where did they come from? Why did they come to the Milky Way galaxy? The opportunity to uncover those answers finally presents itself. But is anyone brave enough to go through…the jumpgate.

Review: Not a lot of reviews out there yet, just a couple of sycophants re-iterating the novel entire. This novels main hang up was the inter play between the characters. I really doubt that officers in an inter-stellar and in-system navy, as high as the admiralty would behave like petty children.  Developing confrontations where none should logically exist is just a vehicle to create ready made drama.

The main plot just didn’t ring true with a star gate that is suddenly mastered and enabled to operate. The idea that a captain goes rogue for personal reasons is just too lame to contemplate. The aliens are never adequately described for new readers to this universe. Take for instance the Senfo. We know that they are small and tip their hats….a lot. Are they humanoid in appearance? Do they mate with their noses? Do they gather once a year to sacrifice their first born? Wtf? The other alien species are slugs and reptiles, but again we don’t know shjt about their morphology. They talk and interact much like humans do, so there goes the weirdness that takes effort to create. 

I will pass on this universe unless lazy writer starts putting in some effort. 



Book Review: Do You Dream of Terra Two? By Temi Oh


Publisher: Saga

Publishing Date: August 2019

ISBN: 9781534437401

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.2/5

Publishers Description: A century ago, an astronomer discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. She predicted that one day humans would travel there to build a utopia. Today, ten astronauts are leaving everything behind to find it. Four are veterans of the twentieth century’s space-race. And six are teenagers who’ve trained for this mission most of their lives. It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years locked in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong.

Review: Remember how I mentioned in other reviews that the English (UK) style of writing leans towards the verbose, novels almost entirely constructed of dialogue. I think that’s where they find enjoyment…in the carefully constructed interactions of PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEOPLE. So while reading this my mind wandered a bit as self-rumination was preferable to the idiots on the page, yap-yap yapping away.

So where the creative was lacking (finite world building) and the characters were fairly one dimensional (teenagers) the writing was so elegant and perfect. The flow is wonderful and does not lack in technical construction.

So what we have is a good technical writer that lacks some experience in the creative, mainly movement to build characters while enhancing the story line. The story needed to move out of the mouths and heads of adolescents and embrace this new universe and all it’s impossibilities. Attempts were made along the way in the form of a major disaster yet quickly morphed back into the old dialogue toad it was before. Additionally a good portion of the novel should have resided on Terra-Two….just sayin’.

I really think (and who cares, right?) that Temi is going to be a really good novelist once the creative gaps are bridged.

Book Review: Lost and Found by Orson Scott Card

Publisher: Blackstone

Publishing Date: September 2019

ISBN: 9781982613419

Genre: Fantasy/ YA

Rating: 4.2/5

Publishers Description: Are you really a thief?” That’s the question that has haunted fourteen-year-old Ezekiel Blast all his life. But he’s not a thief, he just has a talent for finding things. Not a superpower-a micropower. Because what good is finding lost bicycles and hair scrunchies, especially when you return them to their owners and everyone thinks you must have stolen them in the first place? If only there were some way to use Ezekiel’s micropower for good, to turn a curse into a blessing. His friend Beth thinks there must be, and so does a police detective investigating the disappearance of a little girl. When tragedy strikes, it’s up to Ezekiel to use his talent to find what matters most.

Review: Snarky, quit witted and fun rounds up the adjectives for this novel. OSC weaves a tale that draws you in from the beginning by building a myriad of characters with depth. Nothing fancy or overt, just subtle writing at it’s best. 

Book Review: A Hero Born by Jin Yong

Publishing Date: September 2019

Publisher: St. Martins Press

ISBN: 9781250220608

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5

Publisher’s Description: After his father, a Song patriot, was murdered, Guo Jing and his mother fled to the plains and joined Ghengis Khan and his people. Loyal, humble and driven, he learned all he could from the warlord and his army in hopes of one day joining them in their cause. But what Guo Jing doesn’t know is that he’s destined to battle an opponent that will challenge him in every way imaginable and with a connection to his past that no one envisioned.

With the help and guidance of his shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing returns to China to face his foe and carry out his destiny. But in a land divided by treachery and war, betrayal and ambition, he’ll have to put his courage and knowledge to the test to survive.

Review: Don’t be dismayed by the prologue of this novel, what with the characters defined in exhaustive fashion. Not to worry, you will be able to keep up as the novel progresses even with the impaired translation.

This was a really good novel, and I can understand why over a ka-zillion copies have been sold world wide. In short, it is an epic fantasy grounded in historical fact. The martial arts, if put to the screen, would arouse such visuals as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and the awkward scenes with bad acting reminiscent of “The Man with the Iron Fists”. The honor code is always in evidence and is either transcendent (innate) or ignored, which creates the drama and social interplay throughout much of the novel.

I am sure a lot was lost in the translation but the message is clear enough to be entertained. Get it!