Book Review: Troll Nation by Eden Hudson

 

Publishing Date: June 2019

Publisher: Shadow Alley Press

ASIN: B07RSXPWQ9

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

Book Review: The Legend of Diablo by V.S. McGrath

 

Publishing Date: September 2019

Publisher: Brain Mill Press

ISBN:  9781948559362

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.7/5

Publisher’s Description: Hell’s not so scary when you’ve been there twice already…It’s been three years since she lost her sister, Abby, to the Division, and Hettie Alabama has gone rogue. Roaming the West with an outlaw posse, robbing banks and stealing magic, she’s broken every rule she once believed in. Nothing matters anymore but finding Abby. Meanwhile, the world is on fire. Hungry for power, the Division leaches magic from the vulnerable, with dire consequences that set Hettie’s pursuit of her sister on a collision course with dangerous monsters and even more dangerous men. It’s up to Hettie and her cursed revolver, Diablo, to find a way to save the world—or end it.

Review: Yowsa, that cover art………….

Vicki So, an asian writing western fantasy. Whoda thunk it? And good fantasy too. She even got her shjt together on the firearms end of things this go around. I notice she did not thank me for pointing out all the gun fails in her prior work i.e. no check was sent.  She does keep it simpler in terms of the “bang-bang!” aspects of this novel to reduce unintended mistakes.

Hettie is back, more ornery and older than ever with a musky man-hunk trailing after her grim visage. I like that she can kick him to the curb in favor of higher interests which releases the story line a bit from the usual romantic tropes. But don’t hold your breath that romance is a fleeting thing in this novel.

The supporting characters, as usual, are built better than Anne Margret. The only down side was that the story line tended to wander a bit due to the world building growing a bit out of control. This “ballooning” of worlds was not expected and did not fit the theme of the series. Still, high stars for a work built from a romance writers perspective.

 

Book Review: The True Bastards by Jonathan French

Publishing Date: October 2019

Publisher: Crown

ISBN: 9780525572473

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.3/5

Publisher’s Description: Fetching was once the only female rider in the Lot Lands. Now she is the leader of her own hoof, a band of loyal half orcs sworn to her command. But in the year since she took power, the True Bastards have struggled to survive. Tested to the breaking point by the burdens of leadership, Fetching battles desperately to stave off famine, desertion, and the scorn of the other half-orc chieftains, even as orcs and humans alike threaten the Lots’ very existence. Then an old enemy finds a way to strike at her from beyond the grave–and suddenly only one, faint hope for salvation remains.

Review: The story limps in with the rape-spawn of orcs living in squalor with barely enough resources to live.  Throw in a lot (A LOT) of crude language and interactions and you have the basis of half-Orc existence. Or is it?

From the first page, this novel never slows down and characters are built swiftly and efficiently. Fetching (Lot Chief) is immediately imbued with character that runs up and down the personality scale. The world building is expansive and embraces a variety of beings and their unique cultures. The supporting characters are built very well to the point that they are missed when removed. The only issues I had were the hasty story line inclusions of Fetching’s birth and the constant deus ex scenarios in every impossible circumstance.

A very long novel that captures the imagination while relegating the minor inconsistencies to the background.

 

Book Review: The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

Publishing Date:  September 2019

Publisher: Ace

ISBN: 9780451492784

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 3.6/5

Publisher’s Description: Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and is a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan’s burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies.

Besides the ghastly cover art, this was a novel rich in movement and varied in approach. Liobahn as a believable character, is not. I know, the author wants a strong female lead that carries all the tropes in one package…. “Red hair that is a match to her fiery heart and determined nature….blah, blah, blah. tougher than all the dudes except one that is obviously going to be her boner. Oh but she hates him, right? All the boys are interested in her, she loves little children, is a warrior, a healer (oxymoron?) an expert thatcher, cattleman (person?), farmer, spy and musician.” Whats not to love?
Brocc really carries the novel and would have been just fine on his own without dummay, er Liobahn flouncing around in all her perfection. Dau is intentionally myopic with regards to life and this gives him all the breadth to grow into a solid character. The trek through the countryside is too short and truncates the movement that would have built Dau to a greater degree. The good news is that Dau is built from the ground up while embracing constant movement.
This novel and the style of writing will grow on you. I think I re-wrote this review a few times as I was developing it throughout the read. It went from disappointment through to “meh” and finished at “wow”.
I want more of this world without Liobahn as she is a patterned character with all the commonalities. Make her a short, scarred up, feisty lesbian with a penchant for mushrooms and perhaps I will tune back in.

Book Review: Cinders On The Wind by Louis Emery

Publishing Date: May 2019

Publisher: Unfurled Scrolls

ISBN:9781070243566

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5

Publisher’s Description: A strong-willed young woman prophesizes the future, triggers fiery telekinetic abilities, and discovers she holds immense power. A Kingsguard with past demons must protect this young Seer on a perilous journey, difficult for him to accept, but soon he risks everything for this woman who resembles the sister he lost. The Royal Asker for King Greenvale uses her sorcery investigating the murders of island lords. Can she find the perpetrator before she or the king is the next victim? A Cylarnti warrior leads soldiers on a volcanic island in the midst of rebellion. A conspiracy is taking place and the clock is ticking for him to unmask it. Who these four trust and who they fear are as unknown as the outcome of war. They must fight to vanquish the enemy in the shadows and on the wind.

Review: There were quite a few story lines that were carried by various characters, showcasing their unique perspectives in a world filled with medieval war. Throw in a speshul seer, a couple of dragons, a handful of wizards and some giant bears and the stage is set for a fantasy ride that is grounded in the arcane.

To say there was war is understating the approach. The kingdom of Greenvale is beset by war on multiple fronts and within the rebellious in-holdings lies another kingdom seeking to destabilize the regime, prior to invasion. There are savages in the woods that would sooner kill you than make you a slave with scrofulous indigents to ply their sickly mores upon your wasted frame. Hey, that was pretty good.

The only problem(s) I had with this novel was the use of descriptors that did not fit the period.  For instance, Malcom gazes up at the night sky, describing or rather internalizing what he sees in emotive vein. As he looks upon the stars he reflects…“Others, distant galaxies emanating from afar.” Now how does a knight that lives in a world that parallels our development in and around the 1100’s know anything about galaxies? The misplacement of verbiage, mainly descriptors used by the characters is scattered about the novel. “Evolution, Testosterone, Psychic, Graffiti and Anthropomorphic:” round out the list of “Not to use”.

I think there is more to come and would like to see where this all goes.