Book Review: Haven by Adam Roberts

Publishing Date: August 2018

Publisher: Solaris

ISBN: 9781781085660

Genre: Post Apoc

Rating: 4.8/5

Publisher’s Description: Rural English Post-Apocalyptic survival for a new generation. Young Forktongue Davy has visions; epilepsy, his Ma calls it. He’s barely able to help around the family farm. But something about the lad is attracting attention: the menacing stranger who might be the angel of death himself; the women-only community at Wycombe; Daniel, sent by the mysterious Guz. They all want Davy for their own reasons.

Review: A really well done novel that captures your imagination and pulls you in relentlessly with each new character.  There is so much unfinished business with the story line that this begs a subsequent installment. Like wtf happens to Amber and will Davy find her? What happened to Hat and Daniel? Are their stories to remain stunted without resolution?

Get this novel before someone smacks you for passing it up.

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Book Review: Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves

Publishing Date: September 2018

Publisher: M. Graves

ISBN: 9781949272000

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.5/5

Publisher’s Description: Aaron Sheridan doesn’t want to live anymore. His entire family had just died in a shuttle crash and he’d been the one flying it. Unable to deal with the guilt, he signs up for the Fleet expecting a fatal deployment to the Rim War, but instead ends up at their most prestigious command school, Corinth Station.

Review: Like a few of the reviews out there, the story line has been done and echoes “Ender’s Game” and “Star Ship Troopers”. There are many not as popular novels that this one traces with alacrity but I think you get the gist.

So what stands out about this novel and sets it apart from the rest while maintaining entertainment value? Characters baby! Wow, the interleaving of personal development with movement was superb. Aaron moves from a suicidal teen into someone that looks beyond himself while maintaining a core of integrity. Seb begins a transition from stunted social misfit into an accepted member of a group while retaining a sense of innocence. All characters morph under the hot cauldron of daily military strife.

The world building lacked expansion which was not expected where Corinth was stationed.  There was not any space sex, which would be an integral part of the story line structure. Thousands of young adults under a pressure cooker military school would be banging each other like fruit flies in a punch bowl.

A good start for a new writing talent. Just make up your own shjt next time.

Book Review: Tower of the Arkein by Chase Blackwood

Publishing Date: May 2017

Publisher: Plenary

ISBN: 9781546559177

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.7/5

Publisher’s Description: Trapped as a slave, facing an impossible decision, Aeden must choose between his friends and his soul… The clock is ticking as the world descends into darkness. He’s been called the Scourge of Bodig, the Bane of Verold, but most know him as the Kan Savasci. He’s one of the most feared men alive. Chaos and war have followed him like an angry shadow. The one problem, as the world faces the wrath of forgotten gods, Kan Savasci is nowhere to be found.

Review: An incredibly fantastic journey of a young slave warrior struggling with his sense of self in a world of epic conflict.  Kind of has a ring to it, eh? I should write jingles for slimy Kirkus. Anyhoo, honor and guilt drive Aeden to avenge his murdered tribe, sacrificing many along the way to that goal. The world building is a grand canvas upon which the story line resides. The shifting religious/political and geographical landscape captures the imagination with a rich cultural history described through the eyes of the characters.

“So why you no give 5 stars!!”.  Aeden’s got this over-the-top infatuation with the Duchess of Bodig.  Page after page, chapter after chapter of love struck puppy panting verbosity. Yah, we get it, Aeden’s got a boner. Another act hard to swallow is Aeden’s age throughout his trials. He has all this vast training and experience as a warrior, killing 10 guards at a go at the age of 15/16? Prior to that he is a Thane warrior/monk/slave/guard and then academic student. Time compression magic? It is rather surprising that towards the end of a lengthy novel with much slashing and questing that he is only just turning 17.

Besides the love turd air drop for most of the novel and the constant backstory guilt coupled with self-recrimination, this was a fun read and well worth the time.

Book Review: Shotgun Bastards and other Stories by Andrea Speed

Publishing Date: July 2018

Publisher: LTTP

ISBN: 9781684313129

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.8/5

Publisher’s Description: A collection of tales filled with monsters, be they human or beast, ranging in setting from dystopia to pitch black noir and even general silliness. From the ludicrous to the frighteningly plausible; from deep space to after the end of the world. There are clumsy werewolves and bloody revenge, monster sleep overs and a dieting fad sure to kill your appetite. Whether looking into the past or the future, you’re sure to find that stuff gets really weird.

Review: “Well, what we have here is a failure to communicate….” So, the author uses a plethora (gaggle, murder, flock, school??) of short stories as a platform for her own identity. Which in the realm of egos and minds is right up there with Caligula. Some of the stories quickly move in a direction that is not only interesting but palatable, then……..it ends. Like wtf, you finally write a good story that could be an epic novel and cut it off. Is that as far as the creative juices flow?

Sadly, or depending on your perspective, elatedly, the collection holds no promise as the stories are an amalgamation of considered personal invective within an endless turn of drivel. Go be a whale luggin’, tree huggin’, eco-feminazi lesbian or whatever, I doubt anyone gives a fook. If an author wants a job, they try not to alienate the readership on which they rely. I think this author has talent that lacks an expansive focus. Instead we get mired in opinionated aggression veiled by imaginative characters. I am kinda looking forward to a toned down Andrea that can embrace the novel entire.

Book Review: The Elf and the Amulet by Chris Africa

Publishing Date: May 2018

Publisher: BooksGoSocial

ISBN: 9781976223358

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.3/5

Publisher’s Description: One summer day, their idyllic lives start to unravel, when a freaky creature straight out of a legend arrives spouting prophecies about the destruction of their village. Then an old wizard sends them on a quest with a bunch of useless gifts, but he dies before even telling them where to go. Retrieve the Amulet of Hope or all is lost! That’s all they know; that’s all anyone can tell them.
So they set off in pursuit of this mysterious amulet, each for his or her own reason. They learn that the world outside of Waet Tree Village is nothing like the storybooks they grew up with, and the Amulet of Hope is only the beginning of their adventures.

Review: This was a fun read. Not mind boggling or ground breaking with regard to the story line, yet rife with inventive characterization and constant movement in the form of a quest.

As with any quest, the goal is what drives the story line, and in this case the patterned road to culmination is never realized as it sputters down with interruptions in lieu of a sequel. Initially I thought this was pretty good slow reveal of magic, where it is earned or discovered rather than thrust upon the characters. What we get is a mix of earned discovery and speshulness that at once disappoints and elevates interest.

The characters and their interactions with each other are what really drives the novels success. I like that Nita punches guys that get out of line but hate when she blushes and gets girly around handsome men. Chassy is a great character that reveals a depth not displayed by the others. A really good character to shoulder a novel. Andrev is a dick and continues to be a sour dickhole for most of the novel, which got really tiring after the first few chapters. William is a stalwart mystery that begs his own story along with his band of really interesting cohorts.

This novel really walked the line between 3 and 4 stars so let us be hopeful that the sequel burns brighter.

Book Review: The Soldier by Neal Asher

Publishing Date: November 2018

Publisher: Skyhorse

ISBN:9781597809610

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.2

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: I did not finish this novel. In fact I barely started it and got incredibly bored. Perhaps I will re-visit this novel and finish, say on a long flight to Christmas Island.

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.