Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Review: The Perfect Assassin

The Perfect Assassin The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

From the blurb, "A novice assassin is on the hunt for someone killing their own..." this pretty much sums it up nicely. I was pleased with this debut effort from K.A. Doore, who may very well be an author to keep an eye on.

Great worldbuilding and lots of action highlight this one, and though some of the twists and turns aren't totally surprising, the novel was very well written and engaging all the way through.

I understand that this will be a series, but this book would work as a standalone for those leery of starting yet another open series. It left me plenty satisfied, yet interested in more if and when it comes to light.

3 1/2 stars, rounded up.

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Review: Red Sister

Red Sister Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Even better the second time, this time on audiobook.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Review: Grimdark Magazine Issue #18

Grimdark Magazine Issue #18 Grimdark Magazine Issue #18 by Adrian Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Hunger and the Lady” by Peter McLean – Wow! That was brilliantly amazing! I’ve never read McLean before, but I keep hearing great things about his recent novel Priest of Bones. Now I know why. The heartache is real, and this book is going on my TBR stat. ETA: Before I even finished this issue, I found myself online purchasing McLean’s novel...

“An Interview with Davin Madson” by Tom Smith – This was a great interview, with another author I haven’t yet read. But she’s also climbing my TBR after I read this, because like any good author interview, it made me want to read the books she’s talking about.

“Building a Career with Small Presses” by Alan Baxter – Great article for aspiring authors. As one that has written here and there but never finished a manuscript, this article had some great information for me. Some great tips, and it made for a good read even for the informational value.

“Review: The Ingenious by Darius Hinks” reviewed by malrubius – This was interesting, showing me another reading possibility, this one I hadn’t yet heard of. I give GdM credit here for publishing a review that points out the good as well as some things that didn’t work for the reviewer. I can appreciate the honesty. And I loved this summary: “So, if you’re not a nitpicking prose fetishist arsehole, you might want to pick up The Ingenious.” That made me laugh out loud.

“Hatred for Heroes” by Cameron Johnston – This was a cool story, told from the perspective of the “other side”. This story would have definitely fit in the Evil is a Matter of Perspective anthology. The execution wasn’t as brilliant as the McLean story, but it was still good. I just found some of the dialogue to be a bit off. The idea was damn cool though.

“An Interview with Cameron Johnston” by Tom Smith – here’s another good interview, and once again it does that trick of making me want to check out the author’s work. Nice to be combined with the story as a sample of his writing.

“Scene and Summary: An Indispensable Internal Structure of Showing and Telling” by Mike Myers – Here’s a great article that could help an aspiring author, or one that wants to improve his/her craft. Great info, and the little example paragraphs are amusing.

“Rage Wolf” by Andy Remic - That was intense. In the bio notes it mentioned that Remic is considered to be “the Tarantino of fantasy”, and I can believe it after trying his work with this story. Yet again, GdM is exposing its readers to great stuff that will result in wish lists being filled beyond capacity…

All in all, this issue was a hit out of the park. I loved the stories and the articles and interviews were fascinating as well. Grimdark Magazine once more showcases great work in the industry, specifically to those of us who likes our “heroes” that tread the darker side in their pursuits.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Review: Never Die

Never Die Never Die by Rob J. Hayes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an eARC of this book from the author.

Now, that’s what I’m talking about when I say I love the Grimdark subgenre. This is it exactly.

Many describe Grimdark fantasy as that which is bleak and full of misery, lacking in hope. But to me, that’s not what it is at all. It might have some of these things on the surface, but it’s much more than that. I see it more as the story of grey characters striding the line between being a hero and a villain. It’s a struggle within and the study of the internal conflict that the characters must deal with as they contemplate and live with their choices.

Never Die is full of blood and mayhem and poor odds of survival and success for our characters. But at the heart of that is hope, as each of them looks within and considers the balance between right and wrong.

Ein is a child “gifted” with the ability to bring fallen heroes back from the dead. In exchange, they are bound to him and his quest, with the promise of being returned to full life from their current status as “mostly alive”. We start with the heroic Itami Cho, also known as the Whispering Blade, as she is first killed and then brought back at the end of the battle she’d fallen in. She joins Ein in his quest, swearing an oath as Shintei, bound by her code of honor as much as by his power. Cho helps him find and “recruit” the rest of his team of heroes as they join him with varied amounts of reluctance with the goal of defeating the evil Emperor of Ten Kings.

What seems like a hero’s quest might not be, as the team is assembled. They really have a variety of motivations and intentions, only joined by the fact of being bound to their savior, Ein. This turns into a great character study though as we learn what makes each of them tick through Hayes’s brilliant writing and shifting of point of view from one to another. The reader can’t help but get on board as they learn to work together and interact.

Hayes has two things that really bring color to his dark fantasy: humor and an Asian influence. Much like Joe Abercrombie and Michael R. Fletcher, the grittiness of the violence in this story is offset by humorous interactions between the characters. I found myself laughing as the banter between The Emerald Wind and Iron Gut Chen, in particular. Also, the Asian flavor to the worldbuilding made this one stand out from the rest of the genre.

This book was a pleasure to read from cover to cover, and I offer a high recommendation to any that like the qualities in a story that I’ve pointed out here. It is all of that, and so much more. I strongly urge fans of dark fantasy to join Ein on his quest alongside the likes of Whispering Blade, The Emerald Wind, Iron Gut Chen, Death’s Echo, the Steel Prince, and the Master of Sun Valley.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Review: Strong Ending A Journey from Combat to Comedy

Strong Ending A Journey from Combat to Comedy Strong Ending A Journey from Combat to Comedy by Audible Originals
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So after my last couple of audiobooks didn't go so well, I wondered if it was me. I couldn't concentrate, couldn't focus. Couldn't give a rat's ass about the story I was ignoring.

This was just what I needed. It was short, so it wasn't intimidating at all. But it was long enough to show that I do have focus and an attention span if I'm interested in the subject.

As a veteran, I appreciate the efforts made to help these vets treat their depression and PTSD and anxiety through comedy. I cracked up several times, and I could hear how therapeutic it was for the vets sharing their experiences. I never went through any combat situations during my time in the Air Force, but I have always had a spot in my heart for those that have.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Review: City of the Dead

City of the Dead City of the Dead by Kristi Belcamino
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Want a fast paced story that you can't put down until you're finished, go with Gia Santella. It took me a few chapters, but once I was hooked, I could do little else. I have the first four in a collected ebook, and held off the temptation to jump right into book 2, only because I have a few other things I need to finish before the year ends.

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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Review: Bound - A Book of the Ancestor Short Story

Bound - A Book of the Ancestor Short Story Bound - A Book of the Ancestor Short Story by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was amazing. A short story, yes, but it was as satisfying as a longer work. Fans of Nona and Ara and the Book of the Ancenstor books will love this. It's a self contained story that gives us a snapshot into the lives of these girls, a great teaser for the next book. I'll be reading it again, and it even made me want to go back and reread the first two novels.

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