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.

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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: Melokai by Rosalyn Kelly

Publishing Date: October 2017

Publisher: Kobo

ISBN:9781999816605

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.3/5

Publisher’s Description: Ramya’s time is up. Bracing herself for the gruesome sentence imposed on all Melokais who have served their purpose, she hears instead a shocking prophecy. Is the abrupt appearance of a mysterious, eastern cave creature the prophesied danger? Or is it something darker, more evil? And what of the wolves? Will the ferocious war with their kind oust her from power? Suddenly Ramya must fight threats from all sides to save her mountain realm. But while her back is turned, a conspiracy within her inner circle is festering. Ramya and her female warriors must crush an epic rebellion before it can destroy her and devastate her beloved nation.

Review: A couple of reviewers gave this novel two stars based on their inability to connect with the characters. Contrary asswipes looking for attention among a sea of 4 star reviews or legitimate insights into a publicly praised novel? A little of both in my opinion. The characters were never built with any depth and you are asked to accept a marginal backstory while focusing on quick paced movement. Ramya never is deserving of her rise to Melokai. She was an angry child that learned to be a warrior and was chosen by a stone phrophet. That is not enough to instill a sense of regard by the reader for the main character.

What IS writing genius is Ramya’s life choices during strenuous times that distances herself from her closest allies and subsequently the reader. This sense of betrayal forms the basis of the novel and cries for constant redemption. This redemption is never fulfilled and alienates the reader due to a protagonists non-conforming personality. Ramya just honey badger’s her way through the novel. I found it refreshing as the writer did not attempt to pattern her main character after the hero fantasy mold so often seen.

What I really liked about the novel were the different kingdoms and lifeforms that expanded the world and enhanced the characters through movement. These quests instilled a solid foundation upon which the novel rests through a creative eye. An ambitious amalgamation of human derivatives in the form of blue haired pygmies, walking wolves and hump backed desert residents.

There is much gore and sex to be had so enter at your own risk.  As the novel unfolds the characters do gain in depth through the tribulations endured. A definite read.

Book Review: Lift by L. M. Ransom

 

Publishing Date: April 2018

Publisher: L. M. Ransom

ISBN: 9781732058804

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.1/5

Publisher’s Description:For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Flynn, moving into the heart of the Michigan woods with her family is the biggest adventure she’s ever had. A self-proclaimed geek girl with a penchant for Sherlock Holmes, she wonders if she’ll ever have an exciting quest of her own.
But when she discovers an antique carousel tucked into the woods near her new home, her life soon spins out of control. For the ponies are so much more than their faded paint portrays. Filled with primal magic, the ponies are alive, and they have been waiting for her for a long time.

Review: This was a real push to get through but it is my own fault. I got sucked in on another book description that sounds interesting but is a front for patterned YA fantasy.  So I take full responsibility for stepping in it but waded through in stalwart fashion to the bitter end….or is it?

Charlotte (call her Char) is fooking speshul and likes boys…a boy, and then two boys so I guess it is a love tribangle but without the banging. She gets lot’s o’ shivers down her spine, eighteen in fact if you’re counting, and trembles, fumbles, blushes and pouts her way into your heart. Only she really can’t because she was not built as a solid and believable character. Translated: that means she doesn’t really grow with the movement, and the depth required to build  a character that you care about fails to culminate. What we get is a whiny disbelieving asshat that constantly asks the wrong questions and accepts what everyone tells her. Awesome role model for the YA crowd, eh? Personally I like characters that are independent and gutsy, relying on their own “can-do” attitudes and not swoon or blush at the drop of a hat.

What was really the stone anchoring the mutinous seaman to the ocean’s depths was the constant overuse of descriptors. “She looked at his handsome face ….”, “He put his hands on his slender hips…”, “He raked his hand through his jet black hair “, and on and on and on. Do YA readers really need to be walked through the scenes in order to bring them to life? It was like reading a writers workshop 101 class project.

But thank your lucky little stars as this is first in the series which ended much like the book started. So yay for you if you hang in there.

Book Review: Taste of Wrath by Matt Wallace

Publishing Date: April 2018

Publisher: Tor

ISBN: 9780765393241

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: DNF (2.5/5)

Publisher’s Description: Bronko and his team of crack chefs and kitchen staff have been serving the New York supernatural community for decades. But all that could be about to change. The entity formerly known as Allensworth has been manipulating Bronko and his team from Day One, and the gang at Sin du Jour have had enough. Old debts are called in, and an alliance is formed with the unlikeliest of comrades. Some will die. Some will descend. And some will rise.

Review: To be honest I have only read one novel (plus this one) in the series and was not a big fan. Why? The extent of serialization that I will tolerate is a really good trilogy and even that is stretching it. Serialization meanders along the same story line with inserted characters providing levity or interest in the reader. This is overlaid upon the core characters like a wet blanket, only the blanket was interesting.

In a review I did of “Prides Spell”, I was alarmed to read that a reviewer, whom I respect and could adore, rated it 4 stars. It was almost like finding your High school girlfriend making out with your best friend. But, betrayal is always and only, in the mind of the accuser. Although that respect is tarnished but not diminished, I thought I might use it to ferret out her logic and come to a different conclusion. But alas, I defaulted to my own opinion, and at the end of the day, don’t really give a shjt. So cheers to Carol for having a different perspective and me to self-banished inversion.

This novel just did not capture my attention so although I did not finish it, that in no way means it is crap. The writer is accomplished and the characters mildly interesting. The story line (to me) was boring as were the character exchanges. The world building is finite and lacks the expansiveness needed when dealing with “things” from different realms. So roll them dice, you may like it…..or not.

Blood Ghast Blues by Jake Bible

Publishing Date: April 2018

Publisher: Bell Bridge

ISBN:9781611948608

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5

Publisher’s Description: Chase Lawter and his crack team—an omnisexual yeti, an ex-Fae assassin, and a business savvy zombie—are tasked with transporting the One Guy to Washington, D. C. where the Department of Extradimensional Affairs will put the crime lord into protective custody. That is, if Chase and Black Box Inc. can evade blood ghasts, dimentionalist rednecks, vengeance-seeking kobolds, and whatever other enemies are in hot pursuit of the One Guy.

Review: Early into this ARC, the reviews are quite favorable. Most credit the high entertainment value to those stellar reviews, and I couldn’t agree more. The movement is of the “splat” variety and seeks to outdo itself from scene to scene, ramping up the gore in the process.  The interactions and descriptions of other dimensional beings was highly creative and inventive when put in practice.

“So why you no give 5 stars!!?”.  Derailing this express train of viscera was the author’s infusion of political and racist digs. Not that I am a fan of either side of the political spectrum, I just think it reduces the story line to the pointedly mundane. So rednecks are bad, and because they are rednecks they are generally racist? And the stupid meter for G. Bush is measured against other presidents that were smarter? And all white cops in the deep south are racist by design and breeding, especially when they see dark skin? I find that the people with the most biased and deranged opinions to be those that have never lived it. Trust me, I have lived it and this writer knows absolutely jack shjt in that specific arena.

That said, I still had a great time reading this and look forward to the next in this series as the ending hints at more fun. Hopefully the author keeps his stupid political opinions to himself as it has no place in fantasy land.

Book Review: Heaven’s Irregulars by Ria Dimitra

Publishing Date: April 2018

Publisher: IBPA

ISBN:9781593309404

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.0/5

Publisher’s Description: It’s been 15 years since Michael LeClaire defeated the Devil in a swordfight high above the rooftops of Milan. Since then, he’s been content to lead a quiet life in New Haven with his wife Maggie and their son Gabriel. But Gabriel is no ordinary teen. When he saves a bus full of passengers in Aachen from a terrorist attack, he draws the attention of both sides in a new Crusade for the soul of Europe. Does he have what it takes to face down the Prince of Darkness?

Review: This novel has some good moments but was plagued with a few issues. One of the first things that jumped out at me was the lack of story line consistency. Mostly, you are expected to be on board when the story shifts into “not believable” mode. For instance the whole idea that your family goes on a trip to Europe , meet a bunch of Angels whom collectively decide to overthrow every European state leadership and successfully complete this task in a week or so, is……..ridonkulous. Add to this: sending your 14 year old son and his two buddies to kill Satan, and you have a recipe for boredom.

The other issue, just touched on, was the characterization. Micheal, Gabriel, Maggie and Vanessa are just too perfect. Take for instance Micheal and Maggie. They come off smug and all knowing which is a testament to the author’s lack of voice in the characters. They are flat and patterned after most of the novels you read in the romance genre. There is nothing interesting about them. The same holds true for their son, Gabriel, who at 14 years old is almost 7 feet tall, a sword master that gets perfect grades in school, subdues jihadists and saves drowning little girls in his spare time.  Vanessa is uber smart with a photographic memory and Satan is portrayed as Super Evil-y with definite issues where self-control is concerned. You would expect a super natural being to be highly intelligent and instilled with a sense of  subtlety. What you get is a bombast with bulging eyes and a domineering persona.

So as we wend our way through the story I found that the political observations were spot on and that the plausible outcomes, for Europe in particular, are getting pretty close to reality. The author does a good job relating the inherent fallacies that reside within the progressive movement by calling to attention the trampling of opinion, especially if it does not align with their agenda. This may be a call to arms where free speech is concerned and is of relevant concern where religious zealotry is embraced in lieu of common sense.

So, while the author’s voice was lost in some areas, namely the story line and characterization, her religious/politico voice was loudly heard. I laud the author’s courage to laugh at being politically correct but am still disappointed that there was a creative slide into the patterned.