Book Review: The Seclusion by Jacqui Castle

Publishing Date: September 2018

Publisher: Inkshares

ISBN: 9781947848511

Genre: Dystopian

Rating: 3.3/5

Publisher’s Description: In the year 2090, America has walled itself off from the rest of the world. When her father is arrested by the totalitarian Board, a young woman sets out to escape the only country she’s ever known. While on a routine assignment scouting the country’s dwindling natural resources, Patricia “Patch” and her coworker and best friend Rexx discover a cache of dangerous contraband—printed books from before the Seclusion. These texts spark an unquenchable thirst for the truth that sees Patch’s father arrested by the totalitarian Board, which runs the entire country. Evading their own arrest, Patch and Rexx set out across a ruined future United States, seeking some way to escape the only home they’ve ever known. Along the way, they learn about how their country came to be this way, but their newfound knowledge may lead to their own demise.

Review: Kind of spoiler alert.

The Good– The first movement where Patch is more or less a drone to the ruling Board is wonderful.  Strange deaths, blind programmed allegiance among a sea of potential traitors and a history uncovered was just the tip to this wonderful story line. And finally a main female character that is not constantly swooning over a hunky boy(s), but rather focused on SURVIVAL. What this created was room for character expansion while making intimate interactions more poignant. Thank you Jacqui for that.

The Bad- The main premise behind the whole novel is one of great acceptance. The idea that the entire United States is overthrown by our own government, is a stretch. There is no way that our government acting without a common threat or under bleak economic circumstances (i.e. Hitler), would be able to corral 260 million people, especially when everyone hates their actions. Add to that, Wisconsin alone is the third largest standing army in the world. There are some referents to nuking our own people but that does not make sense either (contamination and subsequent extirpation of resources). The world built is hardly supportable, if indeed you reside in a nuclear wasteland.

The Ugly- So again we have a story line that is reminiscent of the Mockingjay what with the Katniss clone and a hunky unrequited love interest. There is the big bad Board and all the trappings of a dystopian society. Of course Katn…….er, Patch is the lone savior. What bothered me most was the weak character development. There was plenty of movement but it was not tied to the characters growing with the story line. There are many pivotal moments in the story that could have provided this depth but the author chose to go into pages and pages of backstory. Building a history of a person based on past events does not a character make. Characters are made by the current actions they embrace and the emotional interactions that ensue. For instance; to be wary of someone, then not, just doesn’t endear you to their plight.

Blondie and Tuco have a drink- At the end of the novel I had a hard time swallowing the whole speal. It really lent credence to an unsupportable world. But, reluctantly I had a good time with it. Mainly because Patch hadn’t glued her boobs to Rexx’s chiseled abs while smelling his chocolaty/pine musky scent. Really, you don’t know how much of a relief that is. The writing is good but lacks it’s own voice. Ideas are borrowed from other established works, only the names have been changed. You see this a lot with authors that have the technical talent but lack the inner creative voice.

I kind of look forward to this new author to see whether she can build depth of character and create a believable world based on her own wild imaginations.

p.s. Note to author: Leave Rexx where he currently is. That’s a start, is it not?

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Book Review: Saving Paludis by Clayton Graham

Publishing Date: June 2018

Publisher: Books Go Social

ISBN:9780994495631

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.2/5

Publisher’s Description: To keep his home world alive, Stefan must team with two strangers, a botanist and a mysterious seer. As embattled factions vie for control of the universe, the trio must trust in each other to keep the new technology from ripping time and space apart. Saving Paludis is an electrifying sci-fi thrill-ride. If you like futuristic technology, alien political intrigue, and high-octane, paranormal action, then you’ll love Clayton Graham’s interstellar adventure!

Review: This was some hard SciFi where it embraced the premise of alien life on a conquered world and the technology used to overcome interstellar distances. Initially, the aliens played well in this universe as the perspective was rendered as it should be….wholly without humanistic forms of expression. The native life on Palludis was interesting but never wandered far from the Earth norm. The characters evolved nicely with the movement (generally) and the few that stood out were entertaining.

“So why you no give 5 stars!!?”.  The aliens became not that “alien” as the novel progressed and reverted to brandishing humanistic reactions to emotionally charged situations. They just dd not come off as alien as the story line progressed.  The flora and fauna were not expounded upon to lend the planet the “alien-ess” that it needed. A big lizard that can be tamed and some kelp just about rounded up the all the weird that the planet had to offer.

What really nose dived this novel from 4 to 3 stars was Clare. Oh my fuk, what a turkey. She is not only speshul by way of brains and hotness level, she was singled out by the evil empire to spy on Palludis unbeknownst to, well …herself. Captain Stefan has a space boner for her and she wants to be compliant but is/was currently having her brain purged while fending off various men from raping her (because she is so hot). She is in a constant state of helpless bewilderment but seems to find her spine when there is no man to cling to. She starts to snivel and whine when guns are either mentioned or brandished and always manages to muster the strength for action when in this enduring state of frailty. So good job author of tanking a really promising piece of work with one lame character.

Book Review: Redemption’s Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Publishing Date: July 2018

Publisher: Solaris

ISBN:9781781085790

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.3/5

Publisher’s Description: Ten years ago, the Kinslayer returned from the darkness. His brutal Yorughan armies issued from the pits of the earth, crushing all resistance, leaving burnt earth and corruption behind. Thrones toppled and cities fell. And then he died. Celestaine – one of the heroes that destroyed him – has tasked herself with correcting the worst excesses of the Kinslayer’s brief reign, bringing light back to a broken world. With two Yorughan companions, she faces fanatics, war criminals and the Kinslayer’s former minions, as the fragile alliances of the War break down into feuding and greed.
The Kinslayer may be gone, but he cast a long shadow: one from which she may never truly escape.

Review: Not sure if the cover art is relevant to the story line. Don’t remember reading about someone with a long white beard.  So, scant written reviews so far on this adventure fantasy novel set in the time after a great war that united the disparate kingdoms against the evil Kinslayer.

To say this was an enjoyable read does not quite do justice to the effort rendered. I found myself wholly transported into another world with rapt attention paid to every detail. The writing wends it’s way into your psyche, so much so that you empathize with all of the characters.

“So why you no give 5 stars?!!”. Celeste and her cohorts are on a quest, only I don’t exactly know what was in it for Ned and Heno. Heno is banging Celeste (which was kind of gross) and they were involved in the slaying of the Kinslayer but you never get the sense at what is really the driving force. Riches? Something to do? A higher calling? I think it was in there somewhere (the reason) but I may have missed it. Additionally the last third of the novel tended to drag a bit. There were some forced outcomes to situations that did not fit very well with a well established story line. Those events never elevated to a broader outcome but were of the same confrontational bent.

Still, a great read that will keep you up until the wee hours.

Book Review: Domani: The Outer Ring Series, Volume 1 by Carolyn Gross

Publishing Date: December 2017

Publisher: Carolyn Gross

ISBN: 9780692979419

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.4/5

Publisher’s Description: Lulu knew the people of Dalia deserved to live in darkness. The knowledge existed in her bones as surely as she knew that the flames were coming to end their existence. But their protector planet was shifting away from them and the shadow that once sheltered them was disappearing. The strength and power Lulu discovers about herself will place her at the head of a massive uprising that will span across an entire galaxy. Does she become the catalyst needed to destroy the empire that created her?

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: I would first like to get something out of the way that relates to a Goodreads review on this particular piece of work. It received a DNF for the simple reason that it was confusing. Now mind you that the review that was written was confusing and lacked an iterative attempt at cogency. So we must consider the source (reviewer) in this instance. Add to that all the spelling and grammatical errors and, well, there you go. So rather than go through each point and dispute it, I discarded that notion due to my own identity inconsistencies.

The Good– In the first movement of this novel, Lulu is scrambling about like all the other castoff of denizens of the Domain on a moon rife with religious control. Her smart ass personality comes out in spades under a determined and independent mien. When the head religious leader speaks the truth about coming events he is about to be assassinated until Lulu saves him.  The novel only gets better when events escalate, new characters are introduced and the twist in the story line pulls you under it’s spell. Is life on a moon orbiting a gas giant that protects them from the sun supportable? Probably not, but I just did not give a shjt as the writing was fantastic.

The Bad- And then ………Lulu is???? Yup, speshul. Not just a gal that may have an inherent gene sequence that is valuable to the Domain. Noooooooo. Her fingers fukin’ glow as she lights a beacon and can manipulate light and burn people to ash or take out hundreds of soldiers with a thought.  As I kept reading the second movement I thought, “Who the fuk wrote this?”. No really, it is like two different people sat down and hashed out two disparate pieces of a novel and forced them to mate and have a novel baby.

The Ugly- Well at the end of the day, we have a promising author with fleeting brilliance that lost her own voice to patterned tropes. Romance and aliens that are not alien but thingies with an anthropomorphic bent round out some of the crap to swallow.  Evilly Domain people meting out rape and cruelty on a whim does not a believable SciFI novel make.  The Over -the-Top good vs. evil shtick, while reminiscent of Star Wars, lacked the lengthy build to draw you in.

I really hope this author pulls her head out of her….well, finds and builds upon the voice we heard in the first movement. Make it alien, weird and SciFI, not this mix of Fantasy/Romance crapola littered with the kind of shjt people churn out en masse. Make the effort.

Book Review: To Die Again by Sandy Parks

 

Publishing Date: March 2018

Publisher: Kobo

ISBN:9781941787168

Genre: SciFi/Romance

Rating: 1.0/5

Publisher’s Description: Dr. Mona Signoretti has the rare ability to shield her Infinitas life energy from others, making her appear human. She uses that talent by going undercover for a special FBI unit to investigate one of her species suspected of developing a deadly toxin to gain power in the human world. If she fails, not only are humans at risk, but also the mission to save her race from destruction. When her role is discovered and her life-sustaining energy threatened, an all-too-human agent, Grant Thornton, is assigned to keep her alive—not an easy task in a world where enemies refuse to die.

Review: Not a lot of reviews out on this one, but dang they are of the 5 star variety. I don’t know about 5 stars, but lets read on to find out.

The Good- Initially this was really well written (cogent) and the premise is spot on. Alien hottie immortal, seeking evidence of a bio-toxin aimed at killing humanity. Ah, the stage was set for a pretty kick ass novel with a tough and interesting heroine leading the charge.

The Bad- But….sadly no. After a lab disaster aimed at killing Dr. Alien Hottie-Pants, Carey Grant Huge Johnson saves the day and therein after, Mona has her head buried in his lap. Forget that she is a 2,000 year old alien with literally years of experience and wisdom behaving like a hormone addled adolescent.

The Ugly- The dialogue within various scenes lacks not only logical progression but fails at making a cogent argument about what is being considered. Usually when you have two people making assumptions, developing hypothesis and communicating in a iterative way, there is a culmination of rational perspectives that embraces a choice or two. In this novel, all the assumptions are made by asshats that 1) have nothing to do with the story line 2) wander to and fro and then totally abandon the initial premise 3) are extremely juvenile and pedantic in approach to the problem, and 4) spit out some non-related outcome that suddenly moves the story line in the direction intended.

Well, once again I am reminded that just because it says science fiction and has a snazzy cover does not mean that the content is rife with romantically inclined trash. My sincerest wish is that romance writers stay out of the SciFI/Fantasy genres and build a novel like all the others. Set on a dude ranch, strawberry blonde hair, heaving breasts, that bitch mother-in-law, love triangles and a sketchy past that erased all trust…blah, blah, blah.

Book Review: Antler Jinny and the Raven by Chris Dews

 

Publishing Date: Jine 2018

Publisher: IBPA

ISBN:9781732339309

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.7/5

Publisher’s Description: Set in 65 CE, Antler Jinny and the Raven combines beautifully descriptive narrative and page turning action in a story populated by distinctive, colorful characters. At the book’s center is a young, disabled Celtic girl, Jinny, and the raven princess she is sent to serve as a slave. Both have suffered terrible reversals in their lives and both have overwhelming, irreconcilable reasons to become Queen of the Dragons.

Review: This was a pleasant surprise that kept me interested and sometimes captivated.

The first movement is inspired by Jinny and her love of life and dancing until she loses her leg. As the ancient Fomors arise her village is plunged into despair. The depth of the daily struggle that must be endured is only surpassed when Jinny becomes a slave to the Raven. In this second movement, Jinny begins to accept her awakening to something greater yet is often dragged down by her circumstances and her own lack of self-esteem.

What a great tale for the YA to take heart in, as there are real life lessons to be had. Building self-esteem, being personally accountable, standing for what is right and holding a moral compass and liking yourself for just being you. The Fomors represent all of the manifestations of the mind/ego that trend towards the negative in action. Pride, hatred, fear etc. are showcased in an epic war (which also rages in the psyche).

The only Debbie Downer was the lengthy and suddenly abrupt, and confusing ending. I missed the first in the series but I had no problem getting up to speed. GET THIS!

Book Review: Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Publishing Date: May 2018

Publisher: Tor

ISBN: 9781250186928

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 4.4/5

Publisher’s Description: It has a dark past—one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more. Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue. What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

Review: This was a really fine read. Great world building coupled with superb characterization. The novella flows really well for a work truncated in nature and builds interest to the point where you cannot put it down. An easy 5 stars if written to length rather than as part of a multi-series.