Book Review: The Shape of Rain by Michael B. Koep

Publishing Date: October 2018

Publisher: Will Dreamly

ISBN: 9780997623420

Genre: SciFi? Fantasy?

Rating: DNF

Publisher’s Description: Discredited mythology professor Astrid Finnley believes gods and immortals once battled for a place in creation. When she is summoned to a secret archaeological dig site in Northern Idaho to translate an ancient script, she uncovers an unthinkable nightmare: a woman buried alive for over a thousand years. Meanwhile, titular psychologist Loche Newirth – the author of prophetic writings that are changing the course of history – is in mortal (and perhaps immortal) danger. With his former mentor attempting to torture, command and control him, Newirth must face a new threat. He discovers that his son is also a target. To right all that has seemed to go so wrong, he chooses a path that ultimately takes him back to a time when a venomous army of gods lay siege to the City of Immortals.

Review: As evidenced by the amount of time I put into crafting review templates so you, the reader, can have a cogent if not biased opinion on novels you are considering. I do not DNF novels lightly. I consider many aspects of this choice, boredom being right up there with writing inability.

In fairness I will attempt once more down the road a bit to read this in it’s entirety. For now, no thanks.

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Book Review: First Lessons by Lina J. Potter

 

Publishing Date: April 2018

Publisher: Lithunter

ISBN: 9781980565512

Genre: SciFi/Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5

Publisher’s Description: A brilliant Medical school graduate Aliya, a sporty and active girl, dies suddenly in a car crash… only to find herself reborn in a completely different body, in the middle of a dilapidated castle during Medieval times. While confused and dismayed, Aliya realizes she has been given another chance at life — so she rolls up her sleeves and gets to work on restoring her new castle and her new life.

Review: This story line has been done before….a lot. I remember reading an old scifi novel where an engineer ended up in Poland prior to WWII and reshaped that countries destiny. Since then, there have been many a spin-off of the parallel world/time travel variety. So what sets this novel apart from the rest that have gone before? Read on!

The rendering of the period is just what you would expect. Dirty, muddy, stinky and gross. Hygiene was considered unholy and the author captures this slice of life to perfection. Rotten teeth round out the players in this medieval tale. Women are considered beneath consideration unless born to nobility, and even then, lack the pro-active ability that men share.

Reviews were up and down on this novel with “Jumpy narrative” and “Incomplete story” leading the charge. I agree that the story line sometimes shifted a bit and I didn’t have a problem with the serialized aspect as the novel was lengthy enough.  What kind of sucked was the drawn out story line in places where it did not need to be. For instance ruminating over and over what you need to do in repetitive fashion and belaboring scenes until they are beaten to death, makes for more filler than actual story.

Despite some much needed editing, I liked this novel as the author crafts a main character that you constantly pull for. There are many collisions in Aliya’s future with not only her husband but the nobility at large. This dark cloud persists in driving the reader to root for her successes before the ax falls.

Get it and see where it goes if so inclined to serialized content.

Book Review: The Iron Codex by David Mack

Publishing Date: January 2019

Publisher: Dark Arts

ISBN: 9780765383211

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.3/5

Publisher’s Description: 1954: Cade Martin, hero of the Midnight Front during the war, has been going rogue without warning or explanation, and his mysterious absences are making his MI-6 handlers suspicious. In the United States, Briet Segfrunsdóttir serves as the master karcist of the Pentagon’s top-secret magickal warfare program. And In South America, Anja Kernova hunts fugitive Nazi sorcerers with the help of a powerful magickal tome known as the Iron Codex.

In an ever-more dangerous world, a chance encounter sparks an international race to find Anja and steal the Iron Codex. The Vatican, Russians, Jewish Kabbalists, and shadowy players working all angles covet the Codex for the power it promises whoever wields it.

Review: I don’t know what took me so long to read this. I think I was enjoying this read a little too much, hence the dribbling reads late at night. Guilty pleasure or a solid novel to soar from great heights? Read on!

What I liked about this novel was the grounded entertainment value. It has this Captain America World War II vibe meshed with the improbability of magik that is also grounded in frailty. That is to say that no one is invincible whether they wield a gun or anchor demons and angels.  The characters all have personality flaws and life choice baggage that helps build depth without detracting from the whole.

There is constant movement interleaved with different journeys involving different characters. These characters seem to coalesce and expand as the story line shifts to add resonance to the overall plot.  Very intelligent writing.

There is a love interest that is rebuffed (Yay!) and then re-kindled (boo!) which dropped this novel into average-ville. Anja is also speshul but denies her heritage and takes a discerning look at everyone’s intentions with regard to her role in Armageddon.  A refreshing character that remakes the “reluctant hero” meme. I kept pulling for Briet and I still don’t know why. Perhaps the cold exterior, when melted by loss, helped imbue her with a deeper sense of humanity. I loved that Cade is a druggy, alcoholic wizard with a boner for Anja. He just kinda lays his emotions out there for all the world to see, and gives no fuks in the process. There is the gay sidekick trope, because authors these days have to cover all their bases.

I had high hopes for this novel, and elevated this novel to stardom before it slid into romance and artificially rendered characters. It still had some great moments.

Book Review: Stealing Life by Antony Johnston

Publishing Date: November 2018

Publisher: Rebellion

ISBN: 9781781085202

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.7/5

Publisher’s Description: Nicco Salarum is a thief, and a good one. In the rough-and-tumble city of Azbatha, where every street hustler has an enchantment in his back pocket, Nicco prides himself on using his skills—and the best technology money can buy—to get him into the houses and boardrooms of the wealthy. But Nicco’s last job went sour, leaving him in debt to a powerful gang boss, and deep in trouble. When a foreign wizard offers him a vast sum for a visiting diplomat’s trinket, he leaps at the opportunity.

Review: Nicco. Ah, Nicco. What a character. A thief with a heart of gold that seems to get tossed in the shjt by his own good intentions. Needing money to pay off a mob boss, he takes a job from a wizard to steal a magicked medallion.  From there it is a wild ride of fast action and daring escapes.

This was a quirky blend of SciFi and Fantasy that usually ends up in a tangled mass of contradictions. Yet, the author pulls off this blending of genres with a deft hand and critical eye on the overt. That is to say, the story line is not overwhelmed with magic bashing into an alien world. This supportive role moves the story line in interesting directions while building characterization. There is a taste of steampunk in there as well for those so inclined, and the world building supports the readers visual landscape.

Get it and have some fun.

 

Book Review: Shadow of the Excile by Mitchell Hogan

 

Publishing Date: October 2018

Publisher: 49 North

ISBN:9781503903227

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.4/5

Publisher’s Description: Outcast and exiled, the demon Tarrik Nal-Valim has long been forgotten by the world of humans. At least, so he thinks. But when he is summoned as a last resort by a desperate sorcerer, it seems as though his past has caught up with him. The sorcerer is Serenity “Ren” Branwen, the daughter of Tarrik’s former master—and friend. Though she seems cold, driven, and ruthless, Tarrik can tell that Ren has her back against a wall, and he is compelled by ferocious powers to obey her.

Review: So……this….was…really….good. This parsing of verbiage hopefully drives home that point. Tarrik is called and bound by a sorceress, to help protect her while she pursues a hidden quest of her own. This constant movement creates an interesting and varied world and even more interesting characters. The magic is very involved and intricate in approach and varies from person to person.  The only downer is the oft repeated “Hiding shadow blade” reasoning among others. There is no need to re-iterate instances. We are accomplished readers not idiots.

I was holding my breath, hoping beyond hope that the two main characters in this novel would NOT devolve into a romance. And thankfully Tarrik just wants to find ways to break the sorcerers enslavement in order to kill her. Yeah baby! Who knows, maybe down the road something love-buds, at which point I will shjt-can the novel. So enjoy it while it lasts and get it while it’s hot!

Book Review: Rogue Dungeon by Eden Hudson and J. Hunter

 

Publishing Date: July 2018

Publisher: Shadow Alley

ASIN: B07FKYZFYD

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.6

Publisher’s Description: Roark von Graf—hedge mage and lesser noble of Traisbin—is one of only a handful of Freedom fighters left, and he knows the Resistance’s days are numbered. Unless they do something drastic…But when a daring plan to unseat the Tyrant King goes awry, Roark finds himself on the run through an inter-dimensional portal, which strands him in a very unexpected location: an ultra-immersive fantasy video game called Hearthworld. He can’t log out, his magic is on the fritz, and worst of all, he’s not even human.

Review: Ok, this was really good in that there was great movement set in a real interesting world. The entertainment value is really high and I am already begging the author(s) to send me the next in the series.

So why does it work so well? I think the authors really complimented each other. Take Eden Hudson’s wild and creative imagination (that sometimes gets a little carried away) and add Hunter’s restraint and cogent process and you get novel gold. Just too fun to put down. GET THIS!

Book Review: Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland by Michael Eging

Publishing Date:  July 2017

Publisher: BooksGoSocial

ISBN: 9781532020209

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.8

Publisher’s Description: As the Frank kingdom prepares for war, Roland, young heir to the Breton March, has been relegated to guard duty until a foreign emissary entrusts him with vital word of a new threat to the kingdom. Now Roland must embark on a risky journey to save all he loves from swift destruction.

Review: This novel is at once compelling, ridiculous, entertaining and maudlin. Let’s look at the ridiculous.

Roland is written as an animation hero straight out of Disney, only more visceral in presentation. He is stalwart, honest/truthful to a fault, abhors evil, and men flock to him for leadership in battle. He only has one true love and puts others before himself…in all things. It’s like Dudley Dooright made a night deposit at the Disney sperm bank, and out popped Roland. Of course where would Roland be without a sidekick? He gets one on the field of battle by defeating a giant sized Norseman who then swears undying loyalty to him. Of course the Dane is loud and boisterous while hefting a mighty battle ax (yawn). So the tropes are many, as are the fat-rendered cliche’s and every instance where events become near impossible and most dire…..there is Roland to save the day.

Meanwhile Snidely Whiplash……er, uh….Giselon is conspiring to kill the King and take the throne. Giselon also has a sidekick named Muttley, er……an evil Priest (is there any other kind?) who flitters about the edges of the story line sneering his way into your heart.

So, what did I think of it all? I fukin’ loved it. I know, kick me in the balls and throw away my reviewer badge, but dang this was good.  While Roland dashes to the rescue of those less fortunate or able, AND against superior odds, you cannot but help root for the guy. What’s not to like about blonde locks flying, sword cut cutting and slashing it’s way through the evil that conspires to rid the godly anointed Frank King from this earth?

So throw away your inhibitions and righteous indignation in favor of some literary mastication that may seek a purge on the rolling decks of clarity.  Ok, that didn’t make much sense but neither did this novel.