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: 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: 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.

Review: The Squirrel on the Train by Kevin Hearne

 

Publisher: Subterranean

Publishing Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9781596068476

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.0/5

Publishers Description: Oberon the Irish wolfhound is off to Portland to smell all the things with canine companions wolfhound Orlaith and Boston terrier Starbuck, and, of course, his human, ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan. The first complication is an unmistakable sign of sinister agendas afoot: a squirrel atop the train. But an even more ominous situation is in store when the trio plus Atticus stumble across a murder upon arrival at the station. They recognize Detective Gabriela Ibarra, who’s there to investigate. But they also recognize the body—or rather that the body is a doppelganger for Atticus himself.

Review: I usually don’t rate novellas higher than a 3, due to their truncated nature and limited world building. Squirrel is an exception to the rule. This was brilliantly rendered, cogent in it’s simplicity and entirely too funny.

A constantly witty and intriguing story as told from the perspective of a dog that will leave you wanting way, way more. 4 Woofs!

Review: Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Publisher: Del Rey

Publishing Date: July 2017

ISBN: 9781101965368

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1.5/5

Publishers Description: Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess renders them indistinguishable from gods?

Review: This is my second review, the first as a Beta reviewer and this review has been re-drafted as well.

The anticipatory suspense that canvasses each scene and rides the story line like a gay linebacker, is never resolved throughout the entirety of the novel. When scenes finally culminate in epic fashion, they are wholly unbelievable. I think that every chapter I reviewed I kept asking the question “what happened to this story line?”.  So what makes it suck? Persephone and a dreary story line that never moves in a direction to develop the characters in a way that draws interest. In short, you don’t care what happens to them.

 I was mildly disappointed by a few things. The final version did not change hardly at all from the Beta which leads me to believe that a) the author dismissed input in favor of his own ideas or b) most of the comments ran parallel with his approval. It is hard to believe that I am not all knowing BUT I know entertaining fantasy, and I know when a novel is derailed by a host of instances. In this case it was a combination of an uninteresting quest coupled with forced movement and characters that were unable to develop under the yoke of stilted scene progression.

This re-write is due in part to me coming down off being put off from Beta reading subsequent novels. Boo-hoo, yeah I know. But I take it seriously and consider it an honor while doing my damnedest to provide good input.  I felt summarily cast aside without consideration for past efforts and my little ego got bruised in the process. Beta reading is a thankless job and you really have to love reading and the author’s work in order to provide some avenues not considered when constructing a novel. I still believe this author is one of the best I have ever read so it is still unclear to me what happened. If I had to guess, I would say his wife is taking a stab at writing.