Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: The Crimson Campaign

The Crimson Campaign The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm loving this series. This one was even better than the first, and definitely sets up the third really well. I was a little skeptical about this new "Flintlock Fantasy" trend, but if this is typical of the subgenre, I'm sold.

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Review: Seeded

Seeded Seeded by Benjamin Descovich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great little piece of flash fiction that serves to introduce the author's style. I'm definitely interested in checking out some of his longer works. This little teaser was a great first chapter in what could be a pretty good novel.

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Review: Gwendy's Button Box

Gwendy's Button Box Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hell yes! This was an afternoon of audio delight. I'll read it in print someday because I'm a completest, but I am very glad that I got absorbed into this novella by way of Audible and the narration by the fantastically wonderful Maggie Siff, who I grew to love on Sons of Anarchy:

And the story! It was just..so Stephen Kingly. I mean...(view spoiler). And Castle Rock, circa 1970s. It was like going home.....

I should also add that the bonus story "The Music Room" was enjoyable in its own right. Creepy and short, it was a nice added bit to the package. As was the short interview with the authors, King and Chizmar.

I hope to see more of these kind of things. With the Dark Tower movie coming out this year and the new version of It and this Mist tv show, there's a lot to look forward to in the Kingiverse. Stories like this just wet the appetite almost as much as a gunslinger burrito.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Review: Behind the Throne

Behind the Throne Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars, and I'm going to round it up. Why? Because even after I worked all week and had a lot of things to do around the house last night, I stayed up until 3 am to finish this book. I could barely walk to get to the bed after I finished, but I did it. And really enjoyed the whole experience.

This wasn't as detail-rich or epic scope as most of the top ratings I give, but when a book hooks you from the word 'go' and keeps you racing through pages and unable to put it down, that counts for something. I mean, that's why we read to begin with, isn't it?

Definitely looking forward to the next book(s) in this series.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: The Policewoman

The Policewoman The Policewoman by Justin W.M. Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, then. Just when I thought I was getting an interesting and detailed insight into a possible coalition of international police and military units working together against a drug cartel, a very human story took root and hooked me right in.

The was some info-dumping, particularly early on. There was a lot of detail and a lot, I mean a lot, of acronyms. But these things were done well, in that at just the moment when I wanted to know what something was or what an acronym stood for, there it was. I didn't have to go look it up, so that was convenient.

But then out of nowhere I realized I was attached to these characters and cared what happened to them. By the ending, I was swiping my e-reader as quickly as I could scan the page with my eyes. And wow....these action sequences are pretty amazing...

All said, I won't say much. I'm being intentionally vague on dropping plot points, as I wouldn't want to give anything away. There's plenty of unexpected here, let's say. But I will say that Roberts can spin a tale and get the reader to really feel for his characters...

5/19/17 Update: I now have a new hardcover edition of the final product and word is that some of the "infodumping" I mentioned earlier has been revised. I'm looking forward to reading the finished product, but haven't fit it into my schedule yet. When I do, I'll do a new review on the hardcover edition.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Review: Kiss: The Elder, Volume One

Kiss: The Elder, Volume One Kiss: The Elder, Volume One by Amy Chu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was provided an eARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

When browsing through the available titles on NetGalley's website, was there reallly any chance that I'd see this:

and NOT press the "Read Now" button immediately?

Not so much.

I mean, I've been a Kiss fan for as long as I can remember...



So here's a bit of a reboot. That is, a new "version" of the story told on the 1981 album Music from the Elder



It featured hits such as....well...there really weren't any hits. The song "A World Without Heroes" is somewhat well known, but for the most part this was a concept album for the band and a huge departure from their signature sound.

That said, as I dug out my cd of the album and gave it a listen, I was reminded of how it's really not a bad album. Shocking to Kiss fans at the time, there was still some beauty there. This graphic novel captures some of that, telling the story from the perspective of four young folks that are unsatisfied with what their post-apocalyptic, dystopian society has told them life is all about.

As a story in and of itself, The Elder isn't anything remarkable. But what makes this memorable are the references to the band itself and its legacy, and the way that is all tied into the "history" of this tale.

The art is fantastic, both of the futuristic society and in the iconic images. It's definitely worth a read, especially by a Kiss fan.

Maybe only by a Kiss fan. But still...

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: Harley Quinn, Volume 1: Die Laughing

Harley Quinn, Volume 1: Die Laughing Harley Quinn, Volume 1: Die Laughing by Amanda Conner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received an eARC copy of this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



Well, for eye candy, Harley doesn't disappoint. The artwork overall is pretty great. The first story, "Die Laughing" is decent, with some good Harley humor chuckles. "108 Ways to Die" was pretty meh, and the final three parts "Undercover Punker" were pretty awful.

All in all, I think I'm about Harley'd out. Still love the girl, but I might have become overexposed at this point.

Maybe a break is in order.



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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Review: Deathstroke, Volume 1: The Professional

Deathstroke, Volume 1: The Professional Deathstroke, Volume 1: The Professional by Christopher J. Priest
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received an eARC copy of this graphic novel from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

First off, I loved the artwork. The characters were drawn vividly and the color really jumps out and is pleasing to the eye.

But. The story? Eh. There were good moments, but overall it was pretty disjointed. Even within each issue, the storyline jumps from past to present to not as past but more past than present to kinda present to huh?

And, where I though this was a reboot of sorts, it did not help a new reader (me) to understand who was who or who was in relation to each other and whatnot. I'd recently read another Rebirth title, Suicide Squad, Volume 1: The Black Vault, and very much got the feeling that it was meant as an introduction to the team and characters. This one seemed to require a good bit of prior knowledge of who Slade Wilson is and how he relates to the side characters.

I do find Slade interesting, but would like a more linear way of learning about him. All I knew going in was what I'd seen on Arrow and a brief appearance with The New Suicide Squad during the New 52.



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Friday, April 14, 2017

Review: The Mirror’s Truth

The Mirror’s Truth The Mirror’s Truth by Michael R. Fletcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I probably need some time to process.

"There are no myths or monsters, just things people haven't hallucinated recently."


Well, that was fun. It's actually a bit disturbing that I get these books so well. Does that mean I'm sane, or quite the opposite? Perhaps my own delusions help me understand how this world works. Perhaps the mirror knows, but will it tell me truth?

As a concept, I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it, and it's so perfectly executed. I'm being a bit vague, I know. But really these books are better experienced without too much knowledge going in. There is just so much to discover.

Let's just say I'm a fan.


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Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: The Collapsing Empire

The Collapsing Empire The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a lot of fun. Scalzi is really becoming one of my favorite writers, as his work is so readable yet so full of ideas. His science is plausible and he tells it in a way that an ordinary person can understand. He takes serious situations and balances them with snarky dialogue and humor. I wouldn't call his work comedy, but there is enough humor in it to keep it upbeat most of the time.

This is the beginning of a new series, and this first book shows such great promise. I'm definitely looking forward to the next one!

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: Suicide Squad (2016-) Vol. 1: The Black Vault

Suicide Squad (2016-) Vol. 1: The Black Vault Suicide Squad (2016-) Vol. 1: The Black Vault by Rob Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love Suicide Squad. I can't say why, I just do. Probably the whole anti-hero thing and gray morality and dark humor rolled up into a super hero being team I can get behind. I even liked the film, despite everyone instructing me to dislike it.

And you know, I just freakin' adore Harley Quinn.



Now this particular collection was enjoyable to me as a re-reboot in the Rebirth era of the Reboot-not-a-Reboot DC Universe that comes after the actual Reboot that was the New 52. Huh?? Yeah, what I said. Regardless to the backstory/reboot/restart status of the series, this was a great introduction to the series. A new reader would be able to follow what's going on. I did notice that the team makeup is very similar to that of the film, and I suspect that is an audience they are trying to appeal too. Not entirely, though.

I did feel it was a bit short. The intro mission itself was wrapped up, but finished up a lot sooner than I expected. I will say that I enjoyed the short backstory pieces on the individual members, though they didn't cover everyone....at least not in this collection.

Definitely up for the second one.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review: A Conjuring of Light

A Conjuring of Light A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All in all I'm going to say that this was a decent way to wrap up the series. A bit underwhelming a review, huh? Well..

Schwab's writing is excellent. Her worldbuilding is top notch, and her characters are engaging. She's definitely a name in the fantasy field today and for years to come.

I just think she's got some unlocked potential that wasn't ever fully realized with this series. She was close, oh yes. Very close. But she really has the potential to go from being very good to being one of the best in the genre.

I'm hoping she'll get there sooner rather than later.

Oh yes, and the audiobook was excellent too. :)

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Review: Fire and Flesh: A Manifest Delusions Short Story

Fire and Flesh: A Manifest Delusions Short Story Fire and Flesh: A Manifest Delusions Short Story by Michael R. Fletcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, that was a fun (and disturbing) little story! These delusional manifestations of Michael R. Fletcher's world are amazing.

I loved Beyond Redemption when I read it late last year. I needed a quick read last night before bed and this seemed like just the thing. And it was! The instant I finished it I was taken to the Kindle store and bought the second book in the main series, The Mirror’s Truth, which I started reading today.

True, I had planned to buy and read The Mirror's Truth in the very near future, but reading this little gem of a story sped up that process quite a bit. This story would serve as a nice preview to Fletcher's work, as it cost less than a buck and was read in about half an hour. It's not as deeply explored as the main series of the Manifest Delusions, but it gives a good peek into how the author's mind works.

Which is kinda scary, I suppose :)

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Review: The Reborn King

The Reborn King The Reborn King by Michael R. Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free ebook copy of this title from the author via his website.

And that said, it was definitely worth the time investment. I really enjoyed this story and the characters. The worldbuilding is pretty good too and some of the concepts behind the "dragons" is definitely intriguing.

I stumbled across this book and author while looking around for some new grimdark. After reading it I probably wouldn't classify it in that subgenre, but it does share some things that any reader of epic fantasy will love. Think of some early Terry Brooks for comparison to the magic and depth of the world.

It's definitely a setup for future books in the series, and I'm sure I'll be looking into continuing.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Review: Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys

Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys by Jimmy Palmiotti
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received an early e-ARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 stars. The artwork was really good and the story was well written. It came together nicely and made for an entertaining read. Harley wasn't featured quite as much as she is in her own titles, and that's no surprise given the full name of this one. Her Gang of Harleys proved to be entertaining in their own right though, and worked together well enough when they had to.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: A Gathering of Shadows

A Gathering of Shadows A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Much more satisfying on a reread (listen) than the first book. The alternating narrators did the characters more justice and the story in general was much more engaging. Looking forward to starting the final book very soon!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: Wolf Moon

Wolf Moon Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wow. I really do love the near-future universe that Ian McDonald has set up with Lady Luna. So vivid and realistic, yet one thing he really specializes in is flawed characters. I've found that I even care about the ones I don't much like on a personal level.

This does have a middle-book feel, which does make it not quite as good as the first one, but it is still very good on its own too. And what a setup for the third it's leaving us with!

I think this is going to be a great series to reread once it's all available. I can see that there are lots of small nuances that will be more interesting as the whole picture is observed rather than this one chapter. I'll definitely have the third book on my highly anticipated radar.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a re-listen. It took me forever at 1.5 speed and I got rather bored. But it's still a decent story that just worked better the first time through. Honestly, the 4 stars I gave it the first time should have been around the 3.5 range, so this rating will average that out for me.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Review: Words of Radiance

Words of Radiance Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Now that is why I love to read. This very book captures exactly what I love about the fantasy genre. Wow...

Lame review for a fantastic book. Cannot wait for the next one!

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Review: The Policewoman

The Policewoman The Policewoman by Justin W.M. Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Well, then. Just when I thought I was getting an interesting and detailed insight into a possible coalition of international police and military units working together against a drug cartel, a very human story took root and hooked me right in.

The was some info-dumping, particularly early on. There was a lot of detail and a lot, I mean a lot, of acronyms. But these things were done well, in that at just the moment when I wanted to know what something was or what an acronym stood for, there it was. I didn't have to go look it up, so that was convenient.

But then out of nowhere I realized I was attached to these characters and cared what happened to them. By the ending, I was swiping my e-reader as quickly as I could scan the page with my eyes. And wow....these action sequences are pretty amazing...

All said, I won't say much. I'm being intentionally vague on dropping plot points, as I wouldn't want to give anything away. There's plenty of unexpected here, let's say. But I will say that Roberts can spin a tale and get the reader to really feel for his characters...

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review: Martians Abroad

Martians Abroad Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an eARC of this novel from the publisher though NetGalley.

I love Carrie Vaughn’s books, and I jumped at the opportunity to read this book early. As with her Kitty Norville stories, Vaughn gives us a first-person narrative with a very comfortable and conversational tone. You can’t help but love her protagonists, in this case a teenage Martian girl named Polly Newton.

Polly learns that she’s been chosen to attend the Galileo Academy on Earth, and she’s not too happy about it. She’s perfectly content at her home of Colony One, on Mars. She’s going with her twin brother Charles, and that only makes it worse because he’s so agreeable to the proposition.
This really felt like a YA take on The Expanse, that great series by Vaughn’s friend(s) James S.A. Corey. It doesn’t have the gritty feel of that other universe, but it does seem to have a similar society and political structure. That’s certainly not a complaint, but I do wonder if there was any influence here.

My only real criticism of the book is that it ended rather abruptly. Not cliffhangery abrupt, as it had a satisfying ending, but I do feel it could have been fleshed out a little more and maybe expanded by 50 pages or so without losing anything. I did get the feeling that we’ll be seeing a series here eventually, and if so I’ll definitely be checking in on Polly Newton again.


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