Book Review: Flotsam by R J Theodore

 

Publisher: Parvus

Publishing Date: January 2018

ISBN: 9780997661361

Genre: Mixed but mostly Steampunk

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: Captain Talis just wants to keep her airship crew from starving, and maybe scrape up enough cash for some badly needed repairs. When an anonymous client offers a small fortune to root through a pile of atmospheric wreckage, it seems like an easy payday. The job yields an ancient ring, a forbidden secret, and a host of deadly enemies.

Review: A crazy blending of Steampunk, Fantasy and SciFi that takes you on a genre bending wild ride through the skies of Peridot.

The world building is incredibly epic for a newly minted author and hints at uncovering even more as this series evolves. The characters were not only well developed with the movement but continued to draw interest as their personal histories unfolded.  At one point I thought this novel was going to take a nose-dive into many buckles being swashed and overly elaborate descriptors on how they were dressed for battle (if hot looking sky pirates are your thing). Thankfully the instance was short lived and the novel gained in grittiness what it lost in glamour.

Although mixing genres has been done before, this author elegantly combines the visceral and fantastical into a salable whole. Well done noob.

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Book Review: The Mongrel Mage by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

 

Publisher: Tor

Publishing Date: October 2017

ISBN:9780765394682

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: In the world of Recluce, powerful mages can wield two kinds of magic—the white of Chaos or the black of Order. Beltur, however, has talents no one dreamed of, talents not seen in hundreds of years that blend both magics.

Review: A wonderfully written tale about a young mage finding his true place in the world of magic. Although Beltur is a little dense at times, he manages to escape death at the hands of the ruling Prefect and finds a corner of the kingdom to hide while discovering a different form of magic.

Wow, this was really good world building and character development. So much so, that you feel a part of the story line and manage to care what happens. I looked forward to the nightly immersion while reading about the travails and successes of Beltur.

The only minor drawbacks in characterization were the lack of character flaws in Beltur and Jessayla. Jessayla is all vim and vinegar while being hotter than a half-fugged fox in a February forest fire. She gives so much of herself that she almost dies while healing all the sick and injured. There is also a weird insertion of gay characters that strangely works in this novel as it isn’t this overt rendering that most authors like to parade around.

Get this and enjoy yourself for awhile.

Review: Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci

Publisher: St. Martins

Publishing Date: January 2018

ISBN:9781250117847

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 1.8/5

Publishers Description: Cade Sura holds the future of the galaxy in his hands: the ultimate weapon that will bring total peace. He didn’t ask for it, he doesn’t want it, and there’s no worse choice to wield it in all of space, but if he doesn’t, everyone’s totally screwed. The evil Praxis kingdom is on the cusp of having every star system under its control, and if that happens, there’ll be no contesting their cruel reign. Especially if its fanatical overlord, Ga Halle, manages to capture Cade and snag the all-powerful weapon for herself.

Review: This was written as an ode to Star Wars according to the author yet may have been better served as a space adventure for kids in the 8-12 yo range.

Although the premise and story line had merit, this novel was fraught with flaws in character and scene development. For instance, as Cade moves through the story line, his internal dialogue not only fills in the back story but discerns events and interactions not yet revealed but turn out to be factual. Kind of like guessing the future and having it realized. While we are constantly reminded that Cade is a misfit with self-esteem issues, he goes out of his way to be negative, obtuse, self-centered and belligerent when there is really no need to be that way. He is “disgusted” with others behaviors and wears the reluctant hero crown too well. He eventually embraces his whatever “self” and suddenly becomes super paragon galactic savior guy whom sacrifices his life for the Galaxy and others etc. etc.

The fight scenes are a big stretch of the imagination, especially the Dasher bike incident and the whole exchange between characters within culminating scenes reads like a comic hero space adventure. I get that the author wrote/writes comic books and this somehow was re-invented into a space operatic novel. It just didn’t work for me but may for others.

Review: Nightblade’s Vengeance by Ryan Kirk

Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date: October 2017

ISBN:9781542047326

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.8/5

Publishers Description: In a feudal land, a Kingdom is at risk. With no heir to the fragile throne, its future rests with the powerful members of the dying king’s Council, including Minori, a nightblade warrior, and Kiyoshi, a dayblade healer. The two men are bound by the sword but divided by two opposing principles: rule the land, or serve it. In their challenge for supremacy, a spark has been lit.

Her name is Asa. Her creed is revenge.

Review: This tale follows the lives of three Nightblades’ life journey through a kingdom fraught with violence and political intrigue. One is bent on revenge, another on control and the last on redemption. Their lives merge and interact on stage set for destruction.

This is one of the best novels I have read in a long time. The world building was epic and pales in comparison to the story line, movement and character development. To go into detail is to give the novel away. Trust me when I say that when you can’t wait to get to the next chapter to follow a certain character, then you have found a gem. I only wish I had discovered this author sooner.

The ending sets up nicely for another installment with perhaps a wandering Nightblade under the shadow of a corrupt regime.

 

 

Review: Spectre of War by Kin S. Law

Publisher: City Owl Press

Publishing Date: October 2017

ISBN: 9781944728533

Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk

Rating: 4.4/5

Publishers Description: A third Victoria has ascended the throne of a steam-driven country where enormous clockwork giants walk the streets and airships carry news of the Ottoman threat in the East.
In the wake of a calamity that engulfed all of Europe, Inspector Vanessa Hargreaves of Scotland Yard is given the dubious task of policing steamcraft crime. Along with flamboyant detective Arturo C. Adler, she stumbles upon a conspiracy to use a horrific plague in an effort to prevent war.

Review: The second novel in the Lands Beyond series, delivers a thirst for more. Hargreaves wends her way from the Royal Palace to the sewers of New York City in search of a solution to the plague corpse. Arturo is along for the ride in all his Liberace like regalia along with Cezette, Hallow, Cid and the crew of the Huckleberry.

Once again the author paints a grand picture with incredible movement and characters built with elegant simplicity. You care for every single one of them and that says a lot about the writing talent. The story line has many interludes with separate tales that are a part of the bigger world building picture. No 5 stars here though, as the novel ends abruptly and the author likes cats.

Just a bit on cats and why they suck. They decimate all forms of endemic wildlife, in particular neo-tropical migrant bird species. They spread disease, most notable the feline leukemia virus affecting  the endangered Florida Panther. They carry toxoplasmosis (killing sea otters), ringworm, tularemia, hookworm and CSD to name a few.

Review: Atlantis: The King’s Return by D.K. Combs

Publisher: DK Combs

Publishing Date: August 2017

ISBN: 9781522056379

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.0/5

Publishers DescriptionAmbrose. The name is not only feared, but shunned and reviled. He’s a monster sentenced to a life of desolation and loneliness, and no one but his tormentor knows his whereabouts — at the bottom of the ocean. A creature of the sea cursed because of one simple mistake…

Review: Ah where to start. The opening to this novel was dam good. Mari has strength of character seldom read and is immediately thrust into an interesting story line with impeccable movement.  After her cruise ship sinks, she finds herself in a cave with a tortured merman and helps him escape his imprisonment. In order to save her life he turns her into an Atlantean and so begins the long slide into the shitter.

Mari not only turns into a mermaid but into a juvenile, petulant, recriminatory asshat. Her tantrums are epic, her tail denotes that she is a goddess (of course) and she loves mer-dick, specifically the guy she rescued who happens to be….. a King! At the end of this novel Mari is on land and behaving like an adult and is embarrassed by her behavior while under the sea. Well she went through the “CHANGE” and that made her emotionally unstable, which is a great excuse for writing pure shjt.

Why would an author knowingly sabotage her main character for the sake of writing juvenile romantic fantasy? It really boggles the mind that with writing talent in evidence that a constructed character with depth and strength was sadly, not built. This novel had HUGE potential. Great movement and writing talent coupled with a strong character and a story line on the verge of intricacy. Just a dam crying shame…..on YOU, DK “Sellout” Combs.

 

Review: The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross by Lisa Tuttle

Publisher: Random House

Publishing Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9780399182204

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.2/5

Publishers Description: Witch!” cries the young man after stumbling unexpectedly into the London address of the consulting-detective partnership of Mr. Jasper Jesperson and Miss Lane. He makes the startling accusation while pointing toward Miss Lane . . . then he drops dead. Thus begins the strangest case yet to land—quite literally—on the doorstep of Jesperson and Lane.

Review: Not really sure why I looked forward to reading this novel in the evenings. There is just something about a Sherlockian team of investigators that draws me in. Although the characters lacked depth and Watson (Miss. Lane) was relegated to an uninformed position while narrating the novel, I still enjoyed the sudden shifts in the story line while ferreting out the mystery.

So what is inside? Two murders, one kidnapping, three sisters who may be involved, a vanishing maid and a wealthy priest. Their story lines flow together quite well even with a bit of the fantastical thrown in. An interesting investigative duo within the bounds of Victorian propriety.