Monday, June 10, 2019

Review: The Shiva Syndrome Trilogy: The Mind of Stefan Dürr, the Cosmic Ape, and the Interdimensional Nexus

The Shiva Syndrome Trilogy: The Mind of Stefan Dürr, the Cosmic Ape, and the Interdimensional Nexus The Shiva Syndrome Trilogy: The Mind of Stefan Dürr, the Cosmic Ape, and the Interdimensional Nexus by Alan Joshua
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is a trilogy, released here as one book, though you can purchase and read them separately if you wish... I admit, I'm very confused as to why the option; if this shouldn't be experienced fully as separate novels, then it should simply be one novel instead of three. Anyway, "The Shiva Syndrome Trilogy" consists of "The Mind of Stefan Dürr," "The Cosmic Ape," and "The Interdimensional Nexus." Alan Joshua gives us nearly 700 pages of science fiction mixed with paranormal cut with psychological thrills and mythology, and then double dipped in social and philosophical dilemmas. There is nothing simple about this story, so much so that it can be quite hard to follow at times. Characters are plentiful, nearly to the point of over-saturating the plot, and never mind that I actually couldn't stand any of them and couldn't possibly care less about what happens to them. I tried to give this a fair chance and I believe I made a good effort. The fault doesn't lie with me. I think this author should go back to the drawing board, take only the bare bones, core concepts, and give this sci-fi idea a brand new lease.

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Review: A Place to Stay Forever

A Place to Stay Forever A Place to Stay Forever by Mark L. Lloyd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have been watching a lot of "Black Mirror" on Netflix and "A Place to Stay Forever" reminded me especially of "San Junipero," but also of several other episodes in the series. The concept of a future where the limits of human consciousness are less and less defined is a common science fiction theme. Author Mark L. Lloyd certainly has a knack for that genre of fiction on the whole. There are some things that must be written well to make a science fiction novel believable in at least an abstract way. In my experience, those 'things' aren't universal; for instance, if everything else is right, the characters can be completely absurd and still, it can all work. Here, I found the time-travel aspect a little confusing and hard to follow. The characters were straight-forward and maybe not one-dimensional, but only moderately fleshed out, in my opinion. Still, I can't say that overall, it didn't work because it did. It defies logic, as science fiction tends to do, I suppose.

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Review: Blood Upon the Sands

Blood Upon the Sands Blood Upon the Sands by Sheldon Charles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Blood Upon the Sands (An Evan Davis Tale Book 2)
by Sheldon Charles

I loved Sheldon Charles' other Evan Davis novel, "From Within the Firebird's Nest," so I was excited to dive into "Blood Upon the Sands," another political thriller, this time set in the Middle East, also featuring the Evan Davis character. One thing became crystal clear and that is that this author is a consistently competent writer and I sense more Evan Davis in the fiction world. Unfortunately, I didn't fall into this, as I did with his last novel, and I think it is due only to my near complete lack of interest in the Middle East. I suffer from a very real ignorance when it comes to that part of the world so I genuinely struggled through these 400+ pages, knowing all the while that my being closed off to the subject would stunt my experience. As with his other novels, Charles has written engaging characters, perfectly choreographed action and smart dialogue delivered with practiced cadence. Despite not falling in love with the story, I know this is a well written novel and lovers of political thrillers will eat it up.

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Review: The Circle

The Circle The Circle by Sage Sask
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Circle: Taken
by Sage Sask

This novel is science fiction, of the dystopian variety, featuring rather young heroes and heroines. When I think of the audience for Young Adult fiction, I picture high school seniors to college aged young people but this felt as though it were written for more juvenile fans. It is worth noting that though it felt 'for' younger readers, there are some decidedly more mature aspects; specifically, a higher level of violence than I expected. The premise is intriguing but overall, felt forced, especially the all-important-romance that seems a necessity in the YA genre. Characters felt one-dimensional despite the author giving them natural faults and realistic reactions almost all the way through the story. I am fully willing to admit that my prickliness about this book is probably due strictly to personal preference and I am most likely too far removed from the target audience to form an appreciation for the story on its own merit.

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Review: Ellen's Song

Ellen's Song Ellen's Song by Ben Kalland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The novel, "Ellen's Song," has just become another of those books I might never have chosen, thinking it not to my taste - the exact same way I initially thought of Pete Hamill's, "Forever," which has yet to be unseated as Number One on my favorites list. Now that I've finished "Ellen's Song," I'm so glad I read it! Despite the tragedy and general decimation of this fictional family and hereby, this fictional world that Ben Kallad has woven into my consciousness - a plot ploy I normally despise - I found a sense of hope and resilience I refuse to let go of. This is a modern story, though it smacks of that multi-generational, historical drama sensibility, and it worked magnificently.

Kallad's dialogue is well written, yet concise without coming off clipped, and his characters... they will stick with a reader long after they've closed the book. Even Sophia, technically gone from page one, packs a punch. They're all so easily relatable without being contrite. "Ellen's Song" will be easy to recommend to friends and family.

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