Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review::Bane of Souls by Thaddeus White

Bane of SoulsBane of Souls by Thaddeus White

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Bane of Souls by Thaddeus White

A friend suggest this read because I've been doing indie authors and they thought this one might do the trick. I'm glad they did. This was an entertaining read that is well written in the grammatical sense.

This is one of those books that almost lost me at the beginning. It opens with Francis who is being trussed up to drown in the River Axe by Wilf who is one of many corrupt Watchmen in the city of Highford.They are both despicable characters in their own way and in truth are very much alike. But this night Francis will meet a disembodied spirit who befriends him and can't help him and a magistri -mage who can and does help him. We do find that Francis has a tiny speck of loyalty in him that prevents him from revealing who left him out there to drown. He also has an almost unlikely girl friend named Sarah. The disembodied spirit named Samuel manages to assist Francis in obtaining a better life than his begging has given him and a better chance with Sarah. His intersection with the mage Julia brings him in contact with the other mage and possibly with the Main Character Horst. This is Horst's story, I think, but there are so many to chose from.

The other main character is the setting. This is possibly overwrought as far as description of what it looks like, but as long as the descriptions are there seems to be very little that brought me into the taste,smell, and feel of the story. Even Horst, who by default becomes the main character when you reach the end, is distanced by his desire to be somewhere else all the time. And there are so many characters that take the focus it is often difficult to keep up with and sort through them through the cover of all the description. If you love books that describe the setting down to tiny detail you should love this book.

There were few if any characters that peaked my interest or garnered sympathy. The most interesting character is Thaddeus who is basically an orbital character who floats out there intersecting with the other main characters periodically and even garnering the limelight now an then. Thaddeus is a thief in a world of thieves who is the only one who really seems to be comfortable with who he is and makes no pretense with special title or anything like that as do the rest of the community of thieves. He's the only character that rings true to himself all the time and he probably deserves his own book.

Being limited in my scope of reading in this genre I couldn't help get a certain feeling as though this were a slightly more mature Harry Potter type novel. I think it might have been the disembodied spirits and the notion of the great evil being one of those and needing to find the perfect vessel to bring him closer to this world and to greater power.

What I found missing was a good solid plot to grab onto. Oh, I'm sure it's there and I'll figure it out as I write all this. We have at least a handful of stories. The story of Horst the Kuhrisch who's last wish would be-to become a mage. The story of Francis the begger and Sarah and Francis' brief rise in society. We have the story of the Mage community a tight community devoutly protecting the city and other cities throughout the land. We have Thaddeus the head of the underworld so to speak and his fight to retain his power. And we have the officials of the city and their miriad of stories. And we have the evil spirit. These are all definitely part of the world building and are interesting; again, if world building is the readers interest. What they don't all do is come together clearly all the time, so there are things that don't seem to move, I can't say plot , the story and they don't even always move each other along, but just occasionally contribute a bit here and there.

There is so much going on and so much description that in a way, for me, it was hard to keep up and keep things straight. I had to go backwards a few times to figure out if I zoned out or if the story just japed into a different direction. (A couple of times it really was me zoning out.)

This is one of those stories that a lot of people die in- and the very ending had a predictable element to it. The Plot might be best described as good vs evil though in this case, with few if any redeeming characters, it might be grey vs black and the victory of the many over the one evil. And with as many times as that victory seems to occur it, is uncertain there has been a victory.

There could be more books coming though this seems to leave the stories in a fair place.

This is a great book for the SFF fans especially those who like the descriptive world building of a world of magic and evil spirits.


J.L. Dobias



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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review::Garden of Iden (A Novel of the Company) by Kage Baker

In the Garden of Iden (The Company, #1)In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Garden of Iden (A Novel of the Company) by Kage Baker

I had not previously heard of Kage Baker and was just a bit skeptical about this book but I have read Connie Willis's To say nothing of the dog and after reading the sample of this book decided it was worth the try. I'm delighted that I did because not only does she have the fresh humor that Connie Willis demonstrates, she also has a depth of character and story that are quite compelling.

My first warning to anyone starting to read this is that it might be misleading to think that this is a futuristic time travel novel. The bulk of this novel reads more like a period piece with the incidental that time travel and future technology and immortality are integral in the event that stirs the main character into the story. Also it's a clever device that Kage Baker uses to enable her characters to think along anachronistic lines that actually make sense when you consider the whole.

To explain-in the future they develop technology to extend life-but are in a hurry to test it without having to wait the length of time it would take to verify first that it appears to work second that there are minimal side effects and third that it actually does work. But then they create time travel and have a host of common people to chose from on which to test this and if it works they just look them up in the present and test them for side effects and such. Presumably after much testing our main character, Mendoza, has the latest greatest with least amount of side effects.

Now a number of rules apply here that make the story interesting. They can't change the past-even if they try- so they don't try. They can go to the past and return to the present but can't go to the future- which means those they make immortal in the past have to stay in the past, but that's key to what they want to do anyway. So the premise is that if they find and alter people who have no visible impact on history it won't alter time and no one will know about it because those people were just common folk and there are just so many of those around that it makes no difference.--Sure there might be a hole in this somewhere in real causality but we can overlook that for now--.

These past participants are then isolated and trained to preform special tasks for the Company that will result in saving things for the Company to use in the future such as works of art that history never noted or perhaps were mysteriously lost and herbs and plants that had gone extinct and perhaps even some animals that had gone extinct. They would have to be isolated somewhere where they wouldn't be discovered until around the dawn of time travel so to speak. Mendoza is a botanist by training so is intent of getting specific things from the Garden of Iden.

These inductees are pumped full of nanites and drugs that make them immortal and it becomes questionable whether they are any longer human and their isolation makes them weary of and in many cases fearful of the apes known as man. They also have knowledge of history that extends well into the time time travel began so they have all sorts of influence from movies tapes and books that they would otherwise not know about. This leads to some interesting thoughts from Mendoza that seem anachronistic when the reader forgets that she learned all of the history and culture and literature that would give her this knowledge. So even though this takes place in mid 16th century she makes reference to things like Shakespeare and Don Quixote and more. Which means they have to be particularly careful when they are around the normal human animals.

What this story is really about is Mendoza's coming to terms with the notion that even though she is immortal she may still be human and it takes an unlikely romance with one of the human animals to bring this to her attention. Still throughout she constantly tries to deny that she might still be human. The reader on the other hand can have no doubts as they see her so easily fall sway to normal human pitfalls and prattles. Basically she's smitten and love sick. Of course since she is brought up to be areligious it makes perfect sense that she fall for a devout Protestant during a time of turmoil in England when the Catholic church and the Inquisition are going to be, for a short time persecuting Protestants and heathens. It's a tragedy in the making.

Mendoza is torn between duty to the Company and her job and her love for Nicholas and she vacillates between desire to run off with him and the knowledge that since she is immortal any such relationship would end badly. There is one particular incident when she is dancing with her beloved Nicholas that she is almost resolved to go with him when somehow her own conversation inadvertently leads to Nicholas having a logical conclusion that removes the possibility for them to run off together. Later there is a suggestion that part of the training imparted on Mendoza is full of subliminal triggers that prevent her from abandoning her work with the Company but Kage Baker's writing is so tight that even so, as a reader, I felt that it might have just been some human part of Mendoza that managed to crash things now and then.

Another clever piece of writing in the story is that we never quite cross any pivotal moments that make the history books, creating a sort of leeway for guiding the story where it needs to go.

This is a great story for people who like historical fiction and for SFF fans who are interested in immortal beings and time travel; even though it is mostly a sort of comedy tragedy about a romance between a radical Protestant and a Cyborg Atheist set in 16th century England. A great start to a series and fantastic debut novel.

J.L. Dobias



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Friday, April 11, 2014

Review::The Alembic Plot (A Terran Empire Novel) By Ann Wilson

The Alembic Plot A Terran Empire novelThe Alembic Plot A Terran Empire novel by Ann Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Alembic Plot (A Terran Empire Novel) By Ann Wilson

Of The three Terran Empire Novels of Ann Wilson that I can locate this one was by far the most difficult read. It is still done as well as all the rest but it contains an element that I don't particularly agree with. But one thing that some of the best authors do is put the reader in an uncomfortable situation specifically to take them out of the comfort zone.

The World that Mike Odeon lives in is a colony of worlds that have been kept far from the influence of Terra because they had left on bad terms. In this world there is a church organization that might be called similar to the Catholic Church, but is so far removed that it's easy to see how they could have left Earth on poor terms, although one point here is that the current Terran Empire seems much more tolerant of all religion than any past earth empires.

In Mike Odeon's worlds there is a fight going on between the reigning governing body and an organization known as the Brothers of Freedom. The BOF are ruthless and are terrorists and the only way to deal with them is to catch them and torture them to death and this is all made acceptable by offering them a chance to repent before they finally die. And it all smacks of the Spanish Inquisition, so its no stretch to understand that Mike belongs to the Inquisitors.

It is no surprise since Ann Wilson's Terran Empire has a thread of Honor and epic religious lore that is traveling through all her pieces, that this book is heavy on the religious and somewhat prophetic symbolism. What is interesting is that the church is undergoing some change and it soon begins to look like Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land and Valentine Michael Smith. Only this time it seems that it is all being started by a female figure. Joanie the heroin -think Joan of Arc- is a military person who is captured by the BOF and tortured and Raped and left to die, but she doesn't die and she's bent on revenge and becomes a high Inquisitor with almost a Carte Blanche authority. She not only becomes the best in torture but creates a whole new way for everyone to see their religion. But she's not the expected savior because she's just the Herald.

One thing that this book does have to it's detriment is too much description and time spent on the torture and there is an erotic element placed into it all so this is definitely an adult novel here. Some people might become offended over any number of the uncomfortable things in this book. Even with some of it left for the appendix at the end it is still a bit much and the stuff sent off to appendix could just have easily been left in or for that matter completely left out.

All things as usual will lead to some connection with the Terran Empire which in this case the players are reluctant to address until they have to. But it seems that the one the Herald is bringing in won't be revealed until contact is made with the Terran Empire.

This gets us to the most disappointing part of this story and that is that it mentions the next story in line 'Resurrection' and it appears that the book may once have existed, but as of the time of writing this it is lost and the only known possible internet electronic copy is unrecoverable. So though this book is complete in itself it is the stepping stone to the most exciting part, which might be lost.

This is a great read for Adult SFF fans and it truly shows the maturity of Ann Wilson's writing from her fan fiction roots to a well polished author.

J.L. Dobias




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Monday, March 31, 2014

Review::Fearful Symmetry (A Terran Empire Novel) by Ann Wilson

Fearful Symmetry A Terran Empire novelFearful Symmetry A Terran Empire novel by Ann Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Fearful Symmetry (A Terran Empire Novel) by Ann Wilson

2568 CE
14 years after Hostage and 1 year before A Matter of Honor this novel tells the story that is recounted in A Matter of Honor. So there are spoilers if you read them out of sequence as did I.

In this story Ranger Esteban Tarlac is coerced into being taken to the home-world of the enemy. With a promise that there is a possibility to end the war and the threat that should he refuse his life will end right now; he finds he has little choice.

We start once more with the enemy, which seems to be a method of writing for Ann Wilson. It doesn't fail because we do need to build some empathy for the enemy in this story. The Captain of the Traiti ship does not agree with the notion of deception that will create the moment to capture a Ranger. And it's not just any Ranger but it Esteban Tarlac so the whole deception takes a lot of planning and forethought.

Tarlac finds out he has to join a Traiti clan and undergo an Ordeal which most likely will be his death. But should he survive it could mean the beginning to the end of the war.

In A Matter of Honor I felt there were some things including potential for inter-species romance that the author danced around and never developed and I had wondered if this was some personal preference of hers. This time there is no dancing around but there are some odd contingencies in this romance that you will have to read to understand. Needless it doesn't quite answer the burning question I had.

This novel does have a strong resemblance to a retelling of a Christ like story. Again you will have to read to see what I mean. There are also again elements that remind me of Babylon 5, which only enhance the suspicion that the published dates on these are not accurate, but if they are accurate it would be nice to know because that would make it all very curious.

We come narrowly close to a Deus ex machina solution at one point in the story, but overall it doesn't dominate the outcome and seems to work well within the story. There are enough bread crumbs spread throughout to help the reader think something like this is possible within this universe.

Once again this is a well told story with more tragedy and yet some hopefulness. Great SFF as usual with the caveat that it is not the Simon Pure variety.

So far with the Novels and short stories Ann Wilson has not disappointed me.

J.L. Dobias



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Friday, March 28, 2014

Review::A Matter of Honor (A Terran Empire Novel) By Ann Wilson

A Matter of Honor A Terran Empire novelA Matter of Honor A Terran Empire novel by Ann Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A Matter of Honor (A Terran Empire Novel) By Ann Wilson

This novel was a pleasant surprise and it seemed to only be available in a creative commons license format. I really enjoyed it both for entertainment value and some of the thought provoking themes.

The Irschchan are a bipedal catlike race that have developed Telepathy and Telekinesis as a form of combat and defensive discipline.

They were already in possession of rudimentary space travel technology when the Terran's came and began changing their entire sociopolitical structure.

The story begins with a group known as the White Order who are plotting to overthrow the Terrans. There's as strong belief that the Terrans are unsuited to running the Empire since they have no higher mental functions such as the Irschchan do.

But by this time the Terrans influence is so entrenched that the younger generations of Irschchan have long since been tutored under the rule of the empire, and that is how Corina was raised.

Through training Corina's mental abilities have almost equaled to her mentor and because of this she accidentally discovers her White Order High Adept, Thark, is plotting an overthrow of the Terran Empire. When she senses this she has to make a quick decision to follow the White Order or betray them to the Empire. Once she decides her loyalties are to the empire she is marked for death as the only honorable way for her to be dealt with according to Irchchan cultural beliefs.

The novel was written back in the late 1990's is almost a blend of Star Wars and Star Trek and maybe even some Babylon 5. They have a mix of technologies and the technology seems to take a back seat because the story itself is more about the people and and a matter of honor. It also seems to be a tragedy.

At the beginning it's difficult to see that Corina is the main character because we start with a lot of Thark's point of view and then we go onto the Terran Ranger James Medart's point of view. But this is Corina's story and how her decisions change not only her life but the the life of all the Irchchan.

An interesting aspect of this story is that Ann Wilson does some very interesting framing to bring in back-story and some of the world building. She even uses a framing device to show the effect of Corina and James having their minds patterned during her attempt to teach James better control of his mental abilities.(It turns out Terrans have abilities that have remained latent. )This is important because it's one of the reasons Corina finally decides to become a Ranger and that very act sets up the main plot to the story and to the true tragedy of the rebellion.

Ann Wilson writes this in a crisp and clear multi-close-third point of view that she manages to use well enough to keep the reader interest in the story. And though she crafts a potential for romance, she manages to dance around and eventually ignore the whole thing which might be annoying to anyone expecting sparks to start flying. Similarly she creates potential character conflicts that don't get developed beyond a sort of tease phase. Still the overall strength of the story is still there without those elements developed and there is plenty of real tension and conflict to keep the reader entertained.

The final resolution might be a disappointment to lovers of overt action and conflict, but I think that's because it's written more as a tragedy.

Great stuff for fans of SFF with lots of familiar elements and really interesting characters.

J.L. Dobias



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Monday, March 24, 2014

Review::Thirsty Planet by Robert Tell

Thirsty PlanetThirsty Planet by Bob Tell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Thirsty Planet by Robert Tell

This is a classic example of why we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover.(of course now the cover for the e-book has changed.) This one brought to mind-a steamy romance. I usually read the blurb and then read the sample. So I must have read the sample-or since I do have someone who likes steamy romances maybe they downloaded it. In which case it's a good thing for me they judge a book by it's cover-not so good for them- but quite good for me. I really enjoyed this story and it was both thought provoking and entertaining.

Oddly though it began in a way I usually hate- We have a nameless character who gets killed at the beginning, or it looks that way. It starts in the year 2121 with a dystopic world and this squatter is drifting across the water toward home with his cargo of stolen potable water. In a world that's under water and suffering from the effects of global warming-life seems cheap. Next we move back in time closer to us in the year 2022 where Cassie and Paul Lopez fight the evil corporate world that is turning a blind eye to global warming. This book contains a lot of arguments that I can't say I particularly agree with but they do make the story interesting and move it forward.

We quickly jump back to 2121 where Keesha Leder is our next victim while her husband is away at work. Dr. Moss Leder works at Pulsarsoft where they are working to find solutions to the global catastrophe. (The reader will soon learn that corporations and politics are still as troublesome in the future as they are to Paul and Cassie in the past.) Moss is secretly working on a time machine as his belief is that the only way to fix things is to be sure they never happen. He's kept his work secret from even his lab assistant. Only he and his wife knew of it and now it's just him, which is why he decides he has to tell his assistant, Zoe Reuel.

This story touches heavily on the corruption of government in 2022 and the blind eye of most people to the global warming. What helps it is that the future has all the earmarks of there being a true dilemma. In 2022 Paul and Cassie are dangerous to the people in power and need to be silenced. In the future the time machine Moss is building threatens those in power who have taken advantage of the global situation to remain in power. This is how these two stories are on the verge of converging.

In 2121 most people have abandoned religion, but somehow Robert Tell manages to weave religion into the whole story with a multi-religious Zionist movement that decides to help the people working on time travel. Everything goes wrong on both sides of the time equation until the time machine is ready.

The story almost ends abruptly-but not badly. The ending makes perfect sense and leaves much for food for thought. You will have to read it to find out.

Great SFF for fans of the genre-not so much a romance-good book to make you think without getting too heady about it. There's a lot of room between the last two chapters for a whole bunch of story that the reader gets to infer so who knows maybe someday Robert will decide to Tell us a bit about it.

There are some weird formatting issues with this book where paragraphs get separated in the middle but it's not something that I feel should cause the star system to collapse.


J.L. Dobias



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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review:Time Change (Book Three: The Way Back) by Alex Myers

Time Change Book Three: The Way BackTime Change Book Three: The Way Back by Alex Myers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Time Change (Book Three: The Way Back) by Alex Myers

I think that Alex Myers writing is still quite solid in this iteration of the time series, but I have to side with the people who came out a bit disappointed. I think my disappointment might be hinging on some different factors.

The trouble with time travel novels is that once through the looking glass and then back to the future there are often changes that have rippled through the reality so unless you do as Marty Mcfly did and go further back you run the risk of immediately changing from a time travel novel to alternate history. Ultimately even after the first time through Mcfly was showing us altered history for at least portions of the story. The beauty of traveling forward is that you can do that with impunity and return to your own time with little change to worry about unless you change something through the influence the future had on you. Ah, the confusion of time travel epochs.

Even so as an alternate history this story didn't bother me and I enjoyed the chance to wrap up a few things with the characters and see some resolution. What blindsided me in this novel was that there were questions in my mind from the first novel that were presented by the prologue or first scene that don't fully get addressed or answered and I'd been under the impression that this was a trilogy so I was expecting some understandable conclusion for me to grip with my feeble mind.

Somehow I missed that and it disappointed me.

Still the end is good enough and satisfying enough that it's not a great disappointment that I might have to wait for more stories to come before all the answers arrive.

This is good solid writing for the SFF fan to grab onto and a great ongoing series in the now alternate universe of the Time Change novels.

J.L. Dobias



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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review::The Beginning (Astronomicon)by Paul Vincent

The Beginning (Astronomicon, #1)The Beginning by Paul Vincent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Beginning (Astronomicon)by Paul Vincent

I found this novel or set of novels to be entertaining. It has an interesting premiss that brings it close to notions captured in the novel 2001 Space Odyssey. But it starts out more like some typical first expedition chronicle. What I found difficult to swallow was the large cast of characters that are there in that hazy area characters get stuck in when dealing with a horror novel that promises to have a lot of scares and thrills.

In a way it's fitting that this is like a horror novel since the Astronomicon seems to derive out of the fictional term Necronomicon created by a horror classic great H.P. Lovecraft. So the first novel or part of this novel involves a long slow journey across a desolate cold planet woven together like a sort of mix of Eiger Sanction by Trevanian and Treasure of the Sierra Madre by B. Traven.

We start out on the Elysian-a vessel that will take a group of settlers of around 60 people to Proxima 3 around Proxima Centauri in the Alpha Centauri System(4.367 light year away). Everyone will be in stasis-frozen- for the thirteen year flight at speeds close to the speed of light. There will be three other ships headed out each for a different location. What is not really made clear is the reason mankind has chosen to send colonists that far and why split them up and why such a small number of settlers. The last might be explained in that there are more ships planned for later although you would think that if they were to be totally committed to this it would be cost effective to send as many as they can and send supplies in other ships. But you would also think they would concentrate on one planet at a time.

So to spice things ups and just like with the Jupiter 2 there is the threat of possible terrorist who want the missions to fail. These take the form of religious zealots-of course. So just before he gets into the freezer Chris our MC gets a message about a possible mole among the settlers which he can do nothing about at the moment but he's informed that Earth will notify him with more clues to help him when he thaws in approximately 13 years.

Just prior to entry to the system and readiness to slow to an entry orbit the Elysian suffers damage from what is supposed to have been a comet. Chris and a few others are brought out early and they lose one member to an explosion caused by a bomb. They thaw a few more people and hunt for more bombs as they speed toward their goal. They send the next bomb outside and possibly get some external damage when that blows. Then for some reason they seem to have no option but to land on the surface of the planet and send a distress signal although it would seem to have made more sense to just stay in orbit and wait there if help could come.

Nothing is definite because they have to communicate with Earth and somehow someone must decide if they should divert one of the other ships to rescue them Elysian so perhaps that drives the decision to land, which goes all way of bad and they crash, but not before they split the craft into three section and leave most of their survival gear strewn behind them. They have the entire group thawed out for the landing and the disaster takes a large portion of group.

This is where it starts to get like the Eiger Sanction. Chris and a group of the uninjured survivors must make a trek along the deadly terrain to retrieve the things they need to survive. Somehow after having been explosively separated during entry these parts may have survived the impact and remained intact so they can retrieve the supplies from them. Of course the terrain and the very cold atmosphere begin to slowly whittle down the team until they are down to a handful of which somehow the mole has survived. For me there was a bit of disappointment about who the mole was and then how dramatically they change from the character portrayed throughout. But it's all in the spirit of creating the conflict that leads to resolution and were close to the end of the first part which was called Voyage of the Elysian.

The second part(Discovery) departs from the excitement of the first and begins that quest that follows some parallels to 2001 Space Odyssey.

The colonists of the planet are from three of the four ships. One was destroyed and the other two were diverted to rescue the remnants of the survivors of Elysian. On this planet after a generation of new people are born; man finds an alien artifact.(I have some question as to why the first baby was born three years after they colonize, but that's just me.) Earth has ceased all colonization and the Colonist have been on their own and when they contact Earth about the possibility of alien artifacts they are not well received or believed. Earth is having it's own problems and even the colonization of the solar system is being backpedaled to Earth isolation.

This part of the story seems to be mostly filler and world building for the remainder of the books to come.

Both parts have strong stories that have been used before and have been successful in the past and this could well have maintained a 5 star for me if the second half could have survived the distancing that was set as the pace for the first half.

I think because the first was story of the rugged new planet and the survivors of a crash trying to survive the harsh environment the reader gets the planet as a major player and that eclipses the main characters. Add to that that one of those at the very least has to be the traitor and you have this distancing from the main characters that never really gets the reader into any of the characters leaving the plot the story and the scenes to carry the whole and it works well for the first story. It seems to stick with the reader into the second story and even though we Still have Chris and Kate from the first story there is no real settled character that the reader is allowed to zero in on. So once again the plot the story and scene and technology have to carry the story and this time the astronomicon just doesn't do it.

We have a monolith type block that seem impenetrable and a bit obtuse painting a picture where there is some great old race that created it and has seeded the universe with intelligent life for some obscured reason that we won't get cleared up about in these two parts. It all begins to sound like that shadow race of Babylon 5 who want to set the seeded intelligences against each other as the one means of survival of the fittest. Only so far it's not even that clear yet; only that there seems to be a goal of setting intelligent races against each other.

Meanwhile mankind is doing a fair job against itself in the solar system.

There are a lot of good ideas drawn together here in an ambitious stepping stone to a larger series which I will be interested in following.

This is good stuff for the SFF fans and even the (Simon purists) although there are some caveats with that; where realism is stretched a bit thin. There's at least one rapid decompression scene that's more reminiscent of Arnold's character in Total Recall than in reality. (honestly-do not hold your breath it will just make it more painful and damage more quickly.) Well to be honest I have not yet tried this so I can't say from experience.

J.L. Dobias



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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review::Sentinel by Joshua Winning

Sentinel (Sentinel Trilogy, #1)Sentinel by Joshua Winning

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Sentinel by Joshua Winning


This is another of those books I can love to hate. You want to give it the benefit of the doubt because it really is a well told story in many ways. There are few if any problems with the grammar and though there is a small amount of hopping back and forth between characters it's not enough to drive you out of the story. And the story is a really nice story with well paced action and story development. What is missing is the heart of the story for me. I usually like the characters in the story more than the story itself. Especially when the story is one that's been told many times already. Unfortunately here we have a twice told tale with mediocre characters.

This story starts out sounding like Harry Potter. We have the orphaned boy- a bit older than Harry was when he was orphaned, but the boy is the main character and has a pivotal role that involves a nasty evil that wants to get its clutches on him. This story also talks of myths or legends or fables, often in a sort of tongue and cheek manner while trying to impress upon the reader that we are headed into the the gritty realism of these fables. As with the potter stories we have the division of factions some good and some evil and the tipping of the scales as some of the good are turned to the evil side.

There are many good and winning moments in the story and the telling of the story, but there is also a bit of deliberate withholding of information and obfuscation to deliberately mislead the reader perhaps in the same tone as some fable lead the reader down one path only to throw the moral or final outcome in their face as a sort of jarring reality. Much of the time Nicholas is asking for answer from people who have the answers but fail to give them not because they are dying before telling or they are too busy fighting for their survival (although that one is a close call), but mostly because they say it's not time. Which mean in this case it's not time to let the reader know what's going on and that's what hurts the most in this book. There are so many deliberate red herrings and misdirections and left off explanation that by the time the reader receives the picture it's really too late and it become almost the deus ex machina except in this book it works primarily toward the evil's benefit.

All of this would have worked for me if the characters had been allowed more dominance in the story, but I felt constantly that the story was what this was all about and the characters really didn't matter. That proves out by the ease with which the evil is often finally thwarted despite it's having all these godlike powers. Nicholas is constantly a so so character throughout the narrative and though many other support characters have the grit and determination that it takes for the task Nicholas seem short shrifted with just the distinction of being the one person who is suppose to help overcome the evil(he has a long way to go).

Even so this is a trilogy and we are left still wondering about what significant power Nicholas has or if his power might be that he has only little power. And once again I will emphasize that this would work if the reader were given as much a picture of Nicholas in all his timidity as they are the bloody battle scenes that he rarely gets to participate in.

There's definitely enough action and suspense to keep the story moving and for that I'm giving this high marks for entertaining with a fairly solid story and well paced suspense. Unfortunately characterizations and the ending reminded me a lot of the movie Howard the Duck.


This is still a good Young Adult Fantasy Fable type of story for those fans of youthful world savers. It has an interesting story that is a blend of several other stories and plenty of suspense for those who like the thrill of a chase. I will be checking to see how well Nicholas develops in the next two books.

J.L. Dobias



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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review::Shifter Evolutions Bundle, Books 1-5 of SciFi Shifter Dystopia Romantic Suspense by Ami Blackwelder

Shifter Evolutions Bundle, Books 1-5 of SciFi Shifter Dystopia Romantic SuspenseShifter Evolutions Bundle, Books 1-5 of SciFi Shifter Dystopia Romantic Suspense by Ami Blackwelder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Shifter Evolutions Bundle, Books 1-5 of SciFi Shifter Dystopia Romantic Suspense by Ami Blackwelder

I really enjoyed reading this collection of books and my enjoyment is what saved it from being tossed to the side. This is one of those sets of books you can learn to love-hate. The story is a good tale well told in many ways, but there are style choices that seem constantly to be at odds with that and that's what kept it from being a five star collection for me.

The books themselves appear to have been written in a rather strange order. In this collection they show up chronological- which is good- but it seems they were written in a much different order. The last or fifth story was the first written while the first appears to be the last or fifth written. The third is the second written and the forth is the third and the second is the forth. But for sanity they are in chronological order to the dates of the occurrences in the story. The actual sequence they were written in serves mostly as a curious thing to keep in mind in regards to some of the style choices. For me the reason I highlight this is because I liked the last book in this series which was the first written and it is written in a different style from the others.

The fifth book, the one I liked the most, is written in first person POV from the character April. I think because it was easy to identify with her and what was happening to her and the realization of what was happening around her brought me more fully into the story than the other four books.

The four other books are written in what looks like close third or multi-third POV. If we were to subscribe the the notion of head hopping then I would think this book qualifies so for those who are annoyed by head hopping be warned. This seems to be the style choice for this set of the first four in the series and it took me a while to get used to it. Even more than that though is that there are times when the narration steps away and the reader is given more information than the present close third POV should know and it is close to being Omniscient Third POV. This could possibly be considered the subjectivity/objectivity axis and after I read for a while and understood what was going on it was easier to read. This style is unusual to what I normally read but it seems, from the little I have seen, to be used in many different types of Romance novels and a few of the Horror or Paranormal Genre. After getting acclimated to it, the choice does seem to work well for these stories.

The problem for me is that I couldn't get enough focus on any character to get into the story through the characters and had to rely on the story itself to draw me in. In this case the themes of prejudice and oppression of those who are different and the struggles for power within the oppressive government forces and even the interaction within those oppressed were all enough to keep the story interesting.

An easy comparison in the first story in this series would be to the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I chose this because there is a similarity in the atmosphere at the beginning to that which was in both versions of that movie. Also the first movie from the 1950's could compare as a first person account whereas the more recent version seemed to have been produced as a multi close third type of story which is what this novels style took on. You have this same feeling that something has happened and something might be visiting our planet, but it is all quiet and mostly normal while the bits and pieces of evidence begin to pile up. This story-the 2020 timeline starts with Uri and Julie (Uri shows up later in other parts) and their friends. We will be introduced to Samantha and Raul (Who will be carried through out most of the series)Frenier, Marn, Dray, and Lane (all show up throughout)- Most of these are part of the SCM Shifter Counter-insurgency Military. Then we have a whole list of alien names that are relate to colors since they initially are identified by their different colors. Those alien's names will change when they take on human personalities.

Captain Raul who eventually becomes a general is insane for power and has an unreansonable prejudice against the Shifters. Samantha Croon is a scientist who lost her brother, she thinks that the Shifters killed him and she's out for revenge. A tragedy in the five stories is that she never finds out who killed her brother although the reader does.

Lieutenant Marn is important to the stories because he works under Raul and has a daughter, Melissa, who will also work for the SCM. Melissa shows up in all five stories. To go into too much more detail might give up too much to spoil the story.

The stories all contain an element of tragic love amid the atmosphere of hate and bigotry. The hate and bigotry drive Raul to lack any sense of morals or justice in his quest for power. Everyone caught within his wake is either captivated by mutual desires for power or out right fear of the mad man. It's interesting to note that his quest will ultimately lead him to becoming in all ways worse than his perceived enemy.

The aliens are mostly on a quest to survive although they get caught up in the tragedies just as much as all the humans. And the human population is stuck between with reliance on the military and Raul to guide them with accurate intelligence and superior power. The stories constantly pose that question of how far do we let our leaders take us before we become responsible for the criminal injustice that they commit.

Initially the aliens are also to blame because they approach life on earth almost in a Pollyanna or Candide type of naivete that causes them to treat the military threat almost like a game at the beginning. Once again in the middle are humanity and eventually the Hybrids that the aliens produce.

Ami Blackwelder has a lot of five star stuff in this piece and the thing that dissipates it for me is the style of the first four novels pushed me far enough away that I had to rely on every other element besides the characters because there was no single character that I could feel for or feel with throughout until the final story with April. I suppose that this does create the effect of more closely examining the issues that Ami is addressing in the stories, which is one plus to the style choice.

This is good thought provoking reading for any lovers of Dystopic Romances and some who like SFF and enjoy suspense thrillers.

I'm definitely looking forward to the next Shifter novel.

J.L. Dobias



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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review::War of Honor (Honor Harrington #10) by David Weber

War of Honor (Honor Harrington, #10)War of Honor by David Weber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


War of Honor (Honor Harrington #10) by David Weber

The two times that I have read this I think I came up with the same problem. A person that is used to David Weber and his Honor Harrington series has to slog through about two hundred pages of stuff before things start looking up. One begins to wonder if it is a matter of having so many successes already that it seems important to beat a dead horse. The oddest part of all of that is that much of what is in those pages might be there as a sort of primer for the new reader. After all this is at ten plus book series now and there is a lot of back-story and world building that has taken place. So we do need some of this for background and it is nice to refresh our memories, even those of us who have been with Honor and David from the beginning.

I think I enjoyed this much better the second time through and that might be because I have been going through the series again trying to pay extra attention to the details that normally would put me to sleep. Unfortunately that means that it took about 5 days to get to page 200 and then there were still 680 pages to go.

I remember a long time ago I read Dumas. The Count of Monte Cristo, the Three Musketeers and the Man in the Iron Mask. I was fueled to read them by the movies I had seen and of course was expecting a lot of swash and some buckle in there. I think that the frustration of that experience might best explain the frustration of the experience of reading this massive volume. It's difficult to just say that much of this could have been said with fewer word. Much easier to just complain that perhaps it could have been more entertaining. The funny thing is that the parallels that are drawn from reality to David's Honor universe are in a different time which is one reason I have to wonder how it is it feels like they are coming from the era that Dumas was writing about.

I should be thankful that its not as comparable to the experience I had trying to read Don Quixote, but then I think that was a matter of things not coming through in translation.

Once this did kick in it got interesting to me and there were things I remembered from last time that I was paying particular attention to. The affair between Honor and Hamish for one thing, and the ever forgiving nature of Emily within the whole construct. And of course the increasing level of participation of the TreeCats in the whole mix. A little too convenient that Nimitz's spouse some how manages to adopt Hamish, but it does help heat that situation up a bit.

This book concentrates a lot on the politics of things and the dynamics behind the scenes and the reason that things fail on both ends of the negotiation table. Haven now has a brighter future in the choice of leaders and by an act of Haven the Star Kingdom has managed to have it's heads of state turned into addelbrains. Well they were already a bit off, they just were not in charge until this book.

The Andermani Empire is starting to show its muscle and looking to strengthen its position and to move the Star Kingdom out of its territory with action in the Silesian Confedracy which will bring Honor to Sidemore as she tries to remover herself from the public eye. Manticor's new government is dragging its feet at the negotiation table and infuriating her own allies, leaving an opening for Haven to do an end-run around them by enticing their allies way from them. There is an almost unbelievable comedy of errors with the communication back and forth from Manticor to Haven that's a bit hard to swallow but this will lead to resumption of war.

Possibly the biggest letdown is that the battles are mostly so so battles. This especially after all the time spent about the misinformation between both camps capabilities and their planning or lack thereof; the battles themselves just seem to fall flat.

The up-side to this is that the whole thing will finally position things where everyone is still at war and possibly the best people on both sides will have a chance to face off. The problem is that David Weber is weaving a tale that might have you rooting for both sides when everything finally hits the fan.

Still great stuff for SFF-Military Space Battle -Political Intrigue lovers. I suggest anyone new to these novels get their feet wet by starting at the beginning where it's only shallow because there are not as many pages involved.


J.L. Dobias



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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Review::Endeavour by Ralph Kerns

EndeavourEndeavour by Ralph Kern

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Endeavour by Ralph Kerns

This novel looked interesting in that it seemed to promise to give an experience more representative of what the space program today is like and what it might be like in the future. As I read the story it began to look a lot like the typical star trek spinoff but it was taking the story of the Dyson Sphere further. It in fact seemed to be moving it more toward the more current trend in science fiction to Matrioshka Arrays based on the Dyson Sphere. But first it has to get us into space so we invent a sort of cross between a star-gate and the transporter technologies. I have to admit its been a while since I read a book of this caliber; since John Forsberg's Day One.

The entire premise or plot in this story is the notion of question; where is everybody? I'm not talking about the Twilight Zone episode I'm talking of the Fermi Paradox. Since our sun and world are relatively young then there might be older systems with older worlds with older civilizations with more advanced technology and the universe should be full of explorers and colonies- so where is everybody?

This book begins and embodies the search for the answer that reveals the truth. Endeavour should appeal to all Simon Pure Science Fiction Fans because Ralph Kern does a great job of trying to keep his science well grounded with the physics we know today. There are a lot of recognizable locations that are used in the search and some interesting speculations on what we might find out there.

Ralph Kern does a spectacular job of entertaining us, but I do have some of the usual Caveats. I have a rule that says if I find 6 errors there are likely to be 6 more and so I draw the line at 6, which equals 12 in my screwy system. What I mean by errors is problems with grammar, spelling and punctuation. Most of mine end up mostly concentrated on the first two. The version of the novel that I have (Feb 14 2014) has over 50 suspicious problems I encountered. These are usually things that are easily rectified, in that the reader can figure out the correct word usage or grammar intended. But it means that those people who have problems with that will want to keep that in mind. Some of these might go unnoticed to some people.

The story spans long distances and a long time, but we experience it through the eyes of those chosen to explore and their unique situation allows them to stretch the time of their lives. The search is like searching for a needle in a haystack only it's in the middle of a field of haystacks and it's pitch black out. So what happens when we light a match to see? You will have to read this fine piece to get that answer.

Great stuff for the SFF fans and for anyone who enjoys entertaining and thought provoking speculative fiction. If you're a fan of star trek or Babylon 5 or just someone who enjoys watching the space program you should read this.

J.L. Dobias



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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Review::Luminescence (Luminescence Trilogy) by J.L. Weil

Luminescence (Luminescence, #1)Luminescence by J.L. Weil

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Luminescence (Luminescence Trilogy) by J.L. Weil

First of all this book is a bit out of my genre it seems to be a paranormal romance. Well, on the other hand I seem to end up reading more of these than I used to. I liked this book. I'm not sure yet that I loved it. But we're close.

I usually give a caveat at some point for grammar and spelling problems but I'm also not sure yet because from what I could tell we have mostly style issues with this one. There were a few words that I had to look up because of usage but they really did work in at least one of the definitions given. They were just not words you normally see written in that way. The sentence structure was a bit odd at times and tended to slow things down. Again that's a style decision so those are in an area where you might make note but it's not necessarily going to greatly affect the overall story.

Brianna is far from an ordinary teenager and that's what the reader takes away right away. In the sleepy town of Holly Ridge, North Carolina-somewhere near the coast-she's doing her best to be normal. She lives with her aunt Clara and has two good friends in Austin who is gay and Tori who's family is rich and who is spoiled. And she has your token enemy Rianne who is the one who catapults her into a fit that leads to her meeting Gavin and Gavin's family who are destined to change her world. To be honest her world was never what she thought so Gavin and family have little to do with that, but he becomes her protector and that's what's important.

The story moves the reader slowly dancing around the plot for the first half and almost get's the reader to the point of saying-'just get to the point.' Even the romance seems to wind slowly up as it moves along. Finally near half way we start to see things take a turn as we discover that there be witches in Holly Ridge.

Brianna's character is well defined, but I would have liked to have seen more of Gavin's character other than to be the constant protector at one point. Also the romance seems at one point to hit an unlikely speed bump when Brianna seems unsure that Gavin loves her although as a reader I had no doubts and I was mostly seeing what she was seeing, so again not sure about the likelihood of her not figuring it out. Although there is some small bit of her character that might account for the thickness at that point.

This did have some good climatic points and leaves the reader with a number of unanswered questions because it is a trilogy.

Great fun for a YA Paranormal Romance Fan

Probably one of the better publication from the Nevermore presses.(I have not read them all.)

J.L. Dobias



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Friday, February 14, 2014

Review::The Hunters Daughter (a C-Shapes novel) By matthew fish

The Hunter's Daughter - A C-Shapes NovelThe Hunter's Daughter - A C-Shapes Novel by Matthew Fish

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Hunters Daughter (a C-Shapes novel) By Matthew fish

Having read C-Shapes I wasn't sure what to expect from a novel taken from the other side. I certainly was not prepared for the intense thriller that this turned out to be. I've had authors pull me out of my comfort zone now and then but to do that twice in one novel at such strategic points was quite a risk to take. I almost threw the whole thing away about three quarters of the way through the book. And even though I'm not necessarily please about the way the novel ends, I'm happy I finished it and was able to get the whole experience.

As with other novels I will allow this caveat for those who don't like the grammar errors and spelling glitches. This book has 13 that I found and I usually don't find them all. I'd feel bad about not finding them all but editors these days seem to have a problem finding them all.

This is a gritty story of a teenage-young woman who is brought up to become a killer because time and circumstances require it. In the C-shape world a virus has cause a large number of he population to be affected and eventually it leads to an aggro condition that leaves people dead in their wake and so hunters are employed to take out the monsters.

But as with the first novel not everything is as it seems but as it is it's bad enough. Chloe Bartlow has a brother, Aaron, who is infected. Her mother was but she went aggro and her father had to kill her and Chloe had to witness this. She lives in fear of the day that he will have to kill her brother Aaron, but worse than that she fears some day she may have to do it herself.

Her father has given her rigorous training in survival far beyond what is necessary to be a hunter and when the C-Shapes people decide to have her father train people in their main facility they promote her to a full fledged Hunter. Her life changes dramatically and she must learn to become a cold blooded killer. She tries to resist throughout the entire story.

Once again things are not as they seem and Matthew Fish hits the reader right in the gut a couple of time as he tells a twisted tale.

If you look for well defined happy endings this might not be the place. If you like those thought provoking novels with some kick then this will set you to thinking.

I enjoyed this novel along with hating it sometimes; and getting a bit irate with the author other times. The end packs a real punch and it makes this a book well worth reading.

J.L. Dobias



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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review::Perigee by Elizabeth Bent

PerigeePerigee by Elizabeth Bent

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Perigee by Elizabeth Bent

This is one of those books that defies a few conventions and creates an entertaining read that keeps the reader glued to their seat until the end.

The story starts with Madame Avesta Brunner-Tsu doing a (network) search on Dr. Meridian Woodbury.

It then jumps to Meridian having memories of better times with her husband David who has now passed away. She is in Mescon colony of the planet Ception maintaining the colony's water supply and monitoring for contaminants; basically doing work that any number of other people could do. She's almost doing janitorial work and it's her own hands on approach that almost gets her into trouble.

Meridian is still in mourning for David and despite the efforts of her co-worker Armillaria she is not ready to check out her newest neighbor, Dagan. But when her other co-worker Cern decides to drag his feet with a 'plug' in the system Meridian goes to the source of the problem to remove an unusual pink foam-like ball. This ball happens to be laced with an aphrodisiac which eventually leads to Meridian having her first encounter with Dagan just before he rushes her to the hospital.

Someone is trying to spice up life for the colony by inserting the aphrodisiac into the water supply and Meridian appoints herself to find out who. This person is going to become annoyed with her interference and set out to have her eliminated. Those two parts of the story are going to continually intersect within the whole plot that revolves around Meridian and Dugan as they form a tenuous relationship with each other.

This story seems to be written in some form of 3rd person point of view possibly going for omnipotent. At the begining it annoyed me because it has the reader bouncing in and out of the heads of Meridian and Dugan. It's handy for the love scene and the underlying pins of the entire relationship and it's easy to tell whose head you are in. It's just that the switch back and forth is so often with hardly a warning that it becomes tiring.

The story itself reaches a point of maximum interest about half way through that finally distracts the reader from the back and forth emotional breakdown.

As has been mentioned by others, Avesta is a rather unique character in this story. She's not the central character but she has some qualities that make her a strong and independent female protagonist within the story.

One other problem with the Point of View is that no matter how close it brings us to the character's it still has the effect of keeping us distant. I'd love to be able to better relate to Meridian, but there just isn't the proper type of opportunity.

Also the circumstance and the twists in the plot and Meridians own knowledge of the worst of it made it difficult to sympathize with her predicament. It might be that was what Elizabeth Bent was going for in way she portrayed things.

This is a great mystery suspense thriller with some bits of humor. It's located in a universe that makes it great for SFF fans although maybe more for those less interested in pure science content. It also has some content that is mature adult.

J.L. Dobias



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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review:: Light Raid by Connie Willis & Cynthia Felice

Light RaidLight Raid by Connie Willis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Light Raid by Connie Willis Cynthia Felice

I really liked this book and would have given it a 5 star except that I was disappointed that the e-book taken from the Ace original has some major glitches in the punctuation and a couple of obvious spelling errors. I try to be lenient toward self published and perhaps its being a bit mean spirited to pick on the traditionally published authors but I do expect more from them.

The story is excellent with really good world building and some great characters. There were a lot of surprises in the plot and I really did get into the character of Ariadne. I was a bit disappointed in the supporting character Joss but his role is much like the role Carey Grant played in the movie Charade so it's a bit of play acting which might contribute to his character coming off rather weak.

At the age of 16 Ariadne thinks that her world will open up to her and she'll be treated as an adult, instead she gets shipped off with some orphans to make her safe from the Laser wars that are beginning.

The world she lives in is a bit strange. There seems to be a section known as Quebec and one called the Western States and then the Commonwealth. I admit to having gotten confused about how the all are sectioned out. The Commonwealth and the Western States have allied to combat incursions of the Quebec who seem to have laser satellites in the sky and are conducting laser raids on select communities trying to influence the mobility of air flight and ground transportation to disrupt trade alliances. Food seems scarce and Ariadne and her parents have been working at their corporation Hydra Corp in Denver Springs trying to keep the land usable.

Hydra Corp is also being used by the Commonwealth to devise a strain of Hydra Virus that can be used in combat against Quebec.

Victoria is a neutral province and is where Ariadne has been sent; where instead of working on Hydra virus's she's changing diapers and taking care of orphans for the benevolent Mrs. Ponsonby, a retired former employee of Hydra Corp.

When correspondences from her father stop and her mother's correspondences seem strangely different Ariadne begins to worry. She now is 17 and is of age to take responsibility for herself and when a friend of her mother's shows up to visit she becomes more suspicious and runs off to get back home. It turns out that there is a lot more than just her safety that accounts for why she was sent away.

Finding her mother imprisoned and her father reduced to a worthless drunk she's left to her own device trying to unravel the mystery around her. Not knowing if she can trust The Commonwealth's representative His Royal Highness, Miles Essex or Essex's equerry Joss Liddell who keep insisting that her mother is only being questioned and not yet charged with treason.

When they release her mother things get even stranger as she has to decide if blood really is thicker than water. Not only is Ariadne in danger but soon the orphans she helped take care of will be in danger because of her own carelessness.

This again is quite a good story but I have the usual caveat that I put in, which is that there are a handful of grammar problems. Something weird either went wrong with formatting the kindle edition or there are serious problems. several time there are commas that are followed by a period and then more text and a comma and it makes no sense. A couple of time there are words that are obviously spelled wrong although one time it might just be that the wrong word was used because its just a matter of including or excluding an extra consonant.

This is a great novel for SFF fans unless you are overly picky about grammar problems then maybe the hard edition would be better if it's available. You can't tell from the samples because they are all samples of the kindle edition and the error is right there in the sample on the first page of chapter one.

I will definitely read more from Cynthia Felice and I'm already a fan of Connie Willis.

J.L. Dobias



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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review::The Mysterious Madam Morpho by Delilah S. Dawson

The Mysterious Madam Morpho (Blud, #1.5)The Mysterious Madam Morpho by Delilah S. Dawson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Mysterious Madam Morpho by Delilah S. Dawson

I can't remember who pointed me in the direction of Delilah S. Dawson. It could well have been someone on twiter. Regardless I have someone to thank and I've no idea who you are so here it is a big Thanks. There are a lot-LOT-of authors out in the field these days but there are few true story tellers. Of those Story Tellers I count Delilah Dawson as on of the best I've encountered in a while.

This short novel or novella if you must was more than I've gotten from many recent full novels. Delilah has a way of starting you out with the most masterfully crafted characters that drive you right into the story without fully comprehending how she does it.

Madam Morpho (Imogene) shows up at the door of Criminy Stain and Letitia(Tish) The owner of the Caravan and his wife the glancer. Imogene is almost written in the appearance of a Mary Poppins but with the magic of the Caravan and the colorful people within the story reads like a mix of Something Wicked this Way Comes and the Circus of Dr. Lao. Toss in the whole concept of a world over run by blood sucking creatures the Blud and you have an intriguing tale and that's not even mentioning the clock work master Mysterious Mr. Murdoch.

Madam Morpho has an act but she lost her stage and when she demonstrates that she has some very rare live butterflies that can preform Criminy is impressed but not certain if she'll fit and only because his wife takes Madam's hand and reads her does he decide to take the risk. It never is directly mentioned what Letitia whispers to Criminy to make him so certain that Madam needs to be in the Caravan but there are enough clues to suggest that she may have read that Madam was someones soulmate.

The story is rich with language that wraps the small mystery into the plot and creates something that I wanted to feast on just to take in all the wonderful prose. And when I looked at the sample for the first and second books of the series I could see that this is all part of the wonderful voice that Delilah has.

This is a great read for Romance and Paranormal and SteamPunk fiction lovers not just for the strange world she has built or even the people she's filled it with, but for that the language and her voice are pure gold; in my book.

I definitely need to pick up the rest of this series.

J.L. Dobias






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Monday, February 10, 2014

Review::Of Sun and Moon (Midnight Guardian Series,Book1) by Bryna Butler

Of Sun & Moon (Midnight Guardian, #1)Of Sun & Moon by Bryna Butler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Of Sun and Moon (Midnight Guardian Series,Book1) by Bryna Butler

I'm not sure how much I can express that I loved this novel. It's a bit out of my usual genre, but it grabbed my interest right from the start. Keira Ryan and Colby Hayes have been friends for life. So this seems to start our like one of those romance novels where the reader gets the sense right away that though they each are pursuing someone else they are meant for each other. But this is more than a romance novel; it's a fractured fairytale.(Guardian story.)

Keira has a secret she's kept even from Colby all these years. As a reader we get the sense of this early on, but the big reveal doesn't come till much later. The first third of the novel is spent mostly trying to convince us that they have an otherwise normal teen life going here. Were about to find out how untrue that is.

While Keira pursues William and Colby pursues Brooke we slowly get the sense that Keira is having some conflicting feelings. Of course right away Keira has other issues such as her explosive reaction to people teaching myths that she feels are inaccurate at best. This stems from the fact that she's secretly a tooth fairy-guardian. There are also some mysterious disappearances which will later factor into the whole story. All the while Keira is training with Nana, the woman who has raised her in place of her parents. Keira calls it piano lessens but it's far from that.

There is one thing that is almost annoying about the novel and that's the almost too easy shifting of Point of View. Mostly it's between Keira and Colby, but they often seem like conjoined twins so it actually works for them. There is at least one case where it happens within the same paragraph so I'm pretty sure there are some people I know who will have a problem with this one. Let that stand as a warning to you who know who you are.

The plot gets rather twisted and convoluted at times and surprises abound and I'm pretty sure there will be more surprises as the series moves onward. The characters are well rounded and as I mentioned the only distraction I had was the hopping back and forth between Colby and Keira almost a bit too leisurely, but for my tastes it works just fine because I could always keep track of whose head I was in.

Because of the withheld information in the first half of the novel some things do not make sense until everything unfolds at the end, which I thought worked out nicely.

This is a well written with a great plot and excellent characters good for lovers of YA Romance and Paranormal Fans.

The Tooth Fairy-guardian- as you've never seen him or her.

J.L. Dobias



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Friday, February 7, 2014

Review::The Death of Miss Mind Shift (Emerald City Nights) by Jayme Beddingfield

The Death of Miss Mind ShiftThe Death of Miss Mind Shift by Jayme Beddingfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Death of Miss Mind Shift (Emerald City Nights) by Jayme Beddingfield

I loved this story almost as much as the previous. There are a few issues I took, but a lot of that is personal and should be taken with grain of salt. What I really enjoyed was the complexity of the character of Ruby aka Miss Mind Shift.

In the previous book Jayme took us through the mundane life of Ruby to introduce us to someone who had been seduced into the criminal way of life. Using her powers to rob and in some case murder. She was beginning to have doubts about that way of life but Madison her now arch foe was her best friend and almost like a mother to her. It was Madison's stepping over the line from petty theft that led to the rift between the two. This led to the death of what few other friends Ruby had left and even the death of someone less involved with her secret life , Charley.

We open this story where the last one left off Ruby is now living in the city with Darcy and Brody and Charley's cat Drizzt. They fight crime while Ruby is waiting for Madison to rear her head again and Ruby is also waiting to die. Jayme takes us on the journey through depression, despair and self-doubt that rivals the mundane of the last novel. It does go on for quite a while but it is handled so well it adds to the depth of the character. Unfortunately it also detracts from getting anywhere close or near the other characters. It's always a hard balance and I think the reader who complains about the depression hanging on too long may be just concerned that the other characters were left as shallow shadows too often.

Along with the depths of despair Ruby has a severe Alcohol, tobacco and pot abuse thing happening. Every-time things get to her she starts into those three and rolls through them all with her family of friends doing nothing better than help it along. To be fair the pot smoking could be considered medicinal because every time Ruby uses her powers she weakens her entire body threatening to bring herself to the brink of death. And it's little help that she has visions of her death all the time and like a junkie she can't quit crime fighting to save herself.

Brody and Darcy are trying to get her to cut back or quit and they say they can handle it all, but things escalate and Madison is back and they need Ruby. Ruby is intent on killing Madison and this further drives her to continue.

The book takes an odd turn toward zombie Apocalypse fiction for a majority of the story adding an element of danger and gore. There was at least one spot that Jayme took me out of my comfort zone. Doing so is not bad, we all need that push out of the comfort zone now and then.

As with last time and with my ongoing efforts to warn those people who have issues with grammar there are over a handful of problems. Mostly missing words, which would work okay in dialogue but not so much in narrative where they were. There were some style issues and a few oddly worded sentences.This one stumped me::
Quote::
My chest constricts in my chest; my throat falls dry.

Beddingfield, Jayme (2013-12-02). The Death of Miss Mind Shift (Emerald City Nights) (Kindle Locations 2629-2630). Sky Portal Publishing. Kindle Edition. ::/Quote Maybe it was supposed to be my heart constricts in my chest- I'm not sure.

This novel seems to target Young Adults but I would recommend Mature Young Adult for a serious number of reasons. This is great SFF for those who like it light but be aware that the characterization is a bit heavy. Those who like complex characters should give this a look for Ruby's character. Also lovers of Zombie Apocalypse should appreciate the novel. There's some seriously good writing in here although the HeMan reference could have been left out.

One great characterization that unfortunately eclipses the other characters.

I'll be looking for the next installment Jayme.

J.L. Dobias



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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review::Ashes of Victory ( Honor Harrington Book 9) by David Weber

Ashes of Victory (Honor Harrington, #9)Ashes of Victory by David Weber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Ashes of Victory ( Honor Harrington Book 9) by David Weber

I enjoyed this novel for what it is and what it is is a large deviation from the normal. This novel is the heaviest tense political thriller to date of the Honor Harrington series. This means that those who love the battles and strategy might be put off. Those don't start till somewhere near the 300th page. That's better than half way through the story. For me that meant that this ended up being a book I kept picking up and putting down depending on how much I could endure of the long political details or in some cases the lengthy explanation of the details of training for use of the new LACs and the Harrington series of ships.

Honor Harrington is sidelined by her injuries from Echos of Honor and In Enemy Hands. While she's mending she spends first some time at her Steadholder estate and then time at her new estate when Manticor's Queen Elizabeth III elevates her to Duchess. This conveniently takes care of all potential problems of the heirs that have taken her place while everyone thought she was dead. To move the story along the Manitoran Navy promotes her to Admiral and assigns her temporarily to Saganami Island Naval Academy to teach. For those waiting for her to go back to battle a forewarning that she see's little action and is in fact being cultivated for a more politically active position.

The People's Republic of Haven is still undergoing dramatic changes as the political landscape is littered with bodies. No one trusts anyone. And there are some devious plans going on that only a few know pertaining to espionage in Manticoran space. This thread is rapidly moving into a demonstration of how they manage to bungle the war efforts.

Admiral White Haven (Hamish Alexander) is rapidly moving toward a special offensive operation which ties in neatly with the training that Honor is putting the students of Suganami through.

On the Grayson political front there is still a conflict with Benjamin Mayhew and the Steadholder Keys and some intrigue that will put Honor and Benjamin and the Queen of Manticor in grave danger.

There are battles, but by the time that they occur David has demonstrated the superiority of the new technology of Manticor and the battles are almost a sure win to further demoralize the People's Republic of Haven.

There are a lot of surprises and suspense but mostly in the way of a suspense thriller with espionage and politics. And this book seems to serve mostly as bridge between Echos of Honor and War of Honor.

One special function of this novel is to fully introduce the sapience of the treecats to a select number of characters.

This novel is great for people who love the SFF Military and Political Suspense novels with the emphasis on Political. I really felt the lopsidedness of the battles made it less of a military thriller.

My favorite quote from this novel is from Peoples Republic of Haven's Commander Shannon Foraker.

"Oops"

You will definitely have to read this to know why this is such a singularly popular quote.

J.L. Dobias



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