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.

 

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Book Review: Knight by Timothy Zahn

Publishing Date: April 2019

Publisher: Tor/Forge

ISBN: 9780765329677

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.8/5

Publisher’s Description: Nicole Hammond was just trying to survive on the streets of Philadelphia, then she and her partner Bungie were abducted by a race of mysterious moth-like aliens and taken to a strange ship called the Fyrantha. Now she is a Sibyl, a special human that has the ability to communicate with the aliens and their ship, and no one is happy. Competing factions control different parts of the Fyrantha with the humans and other sentient aliens caught in the middle. But Nicole is done being bullied, and now she has a plan to take control of the ship. She just has to outsmart war profiteers and slavers to do it.

Review: This was a story line that languished in dialogue while moving at a snails pace. Remember the movie “Speed”? Great movement tied to a simple story line that kept you involved despite the flimsiness of the overall plot. Think of this novel as “Speed 2”. Boring story line set on a boat in the friggin’ ocean going fast…er? Even the idea that Super Speshul Nicole is trying to hide the fact that humans can fight from the slaver aliens is a stretch.  The premise that slaver aliens would ever pit other aliens against each other (on a space ship) in order to determine the best fighters for war farming practices, is really not believable.

This novel was not even alien weird. All the aliens understand each other with a universal translator while exhibiting common humanistic idioms.  The fractured AI within the ship is the only interesting event as are the Wisps that reside within.

Nicole was a big fall down as a main character. A hot gang/street urchin with a heart of gold, plucked from the streets of Philly and now on a space ship where the Artificial Intelligence has made her it’s “Protector”. She is either in a state of anger or tiredness while constantly being snarky. Most of the dialogue is spent on her internal ruminations. The story line meanders it’s way through corridors while to and fro-ing between the fighting Arenas. The tropes are many what with her former gang mates trying to “get some action” while “sneering evilly”.

Despite the slow delivery, the novel holds promise if more movement were added and the city of Philadelphia was edited down a bit as a point of relevance. Make the aliens more alien in the next installment.

Book Review: Androcide by Erec Stebbins

Publishing Date: September 2017

Publisher: Twice Pi Press

ISBN: 9781942360322

Genre: Thriller/Fiction

Rating: 0.1/5

Publisher’s Description: Detectives link gruesome murders to the Eunuch Maker, a serial killer targeting men. The stakes soon escalate to global proportions.

Review: This started out pretty good as the story line is split and the commonality hard to determine. And then it goes to pure shjt.

What do I always say about authors inserting their own political perspectives couched in effusive moral platitudes? DON”T DO IT!! Well this douche wastes no time (while wasting ours), with super lesbian geniuses, trans-gender genius cops and a genius Asian hottie (with a limp) that saves the fooking world. Can’t forget the lengthy illegal alien dialogue (whitey bad) which has absolutely nothing to do with the novel. Forget that all white people are portrayed as evil hate-filled Nazis because they prefer the opposite sex.

This author makes a real effort to twist A Republican candidate into some myopic vision of horror in an alternate universe. I get that people have opinions but this reveal shows someone whose identity is warped by their own misplaced ego.

Book Review: Station Zero by Phillip Reeve

Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: Capstone

ISBN:9781684460533

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.8/5

Publisher’s Description: What happens after the adventure of a lifetime? For Zen, it’s a safe, comfortable life of luxury. But it’s not what Zen wants. He misses the thrill of riding the rails, of dodging danger, and of breathing the air of different planets. Most of all of course he misses Nova, lost to him forever in a distant world. But then one day a mysterious message arrives, and that’s all Zen needs to head right off, ready for anything. Except that no one could be ready for what he finds…Thrilling, thought-provoking, and breathtaking, this finale to the Railhead trilogy weaves a web of wonder, full of characters and events you will never forget.

Review: This took me a long time to complete so perhaps this review might convey a lack of consistency. The reason is that this particular download was only for an Adobe Reader and not Kindle. Big PITA.

This novel had it’s ups and downs yet was fairly entertaining. While the movement was very good, there were times that the story line languished under the personal ruminations of various characters.  The tech and subsequent SciFi were very good and highly creative. For a final novel of the trilogy, this was a let down. The build of tension that is expected was diluted with multiple scenes and the expected details of a war, were glossed over.

Zen is a great character that carries this series on his shoulders but was somehow relegated to “meh” status in this installment.

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.