Thursday, May 23, 2019

Review: My Sister's Fear

My Sister's Fear My Sister's Fear by T.J. Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"A girl is missing, another is kidnapped, a third is forced into prostitution. Three girls, all victims of men they thought they could trust."

If a summary could be written that would lead me to click "buy with one-touch", that's the one. "My Sister's Fear" is number two in T.J. Jones's Slater Mystery series. There is a backstory that predates this installment, about the murder of Maggie's brother, and it didn't feel forced as sub plots sometimes can. This is set in Florida, a place many forget is very much the deep south. That mentality is crucial to the tone of this novel and, in my opinion, makes the plot pop all that much more. That fact is surprising especially considering the author is a Minnesota native. I loved the main characters, Maggie and Slater, as well as the supporting ones. I found the dialogue witty and natural feeling and the pace of the story flowed perfectly. This was simply an enjoyable read, easily recommended to friends and family.

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Review: Nothing But A Ripple: A Sex Surrogate Story

Nothing But A Ripple: A Sex Surrogate Story Nothing But A Ripple: A Sex Surrogate Story by Seraphina Arden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nothing But A Ripple: A Sex Surrogate Story
by Seraphina Arden

Americans are notoriously uptight when it comes to sex. Where I live, in one the Fly Over States, this title alone is enough to garner a side eye and possibly a casual mention of said giver of side eye's church of choice, you know, to redeem my wretched soul. I was almost sad I didn't have a physical book to hold in public. Sometimes I like to cause a stir. Sue me.

Unless you delve into the author bio and more in-depth information regarding the book, a reader could be confused as to whether this is a biopic or fiction. Either way, "Nothing But A Ripple" is enjoyable. Arden's style of writing is modern and refreshing and her story telling talent is unmatched. I thought this topic was tackled in a fun and unique way while still making a bold statement about the human reaction to sexuality. Something a little out of the box is nice once in a while.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Review: Kill Code

Kill Code Kill Code by Clive Fleury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kill Code by Clive Fleury

The summary has this to say: A world decimated by climate catastrophe, where the sun's heat is deadly and the ocean rises higher every day. A world ruled by the rich, powerful, and corrupt.

Oh, you mean like right now? Just throwing that out there.

"Kill Code" is a fairly short read at only 120 pages. The hero, a way down on his luck ex-cop, gets the opportunity to regain his old life and right the wrongs of the past. Gritty and dark, Fleury's plot thrives on the catastrophic events that have created the backdrop against which Hogan Duran must fight. Fully fleshed characters and well paced action propel the reader on a particularly enjoyable journey into an unforgiving world. Thrilling and refreshingly profound, this science fiction novel is a pleasant surprise.

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Review: The Cross Worked.: Why You Can Have Confidence On The Day of Judgment

The Cross Worked.: Why You Can Have Confidence On The Day of Judgment The Cross Worked.: Why You Can Have Confidence On The Day of Judgment by Zach Maldonado
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Zach Maldonado is the young author of "The Cross Worked: Why You Can Have Confidence On The Day of Judgment." Obviously, this sits squarely on the Religion shelves of the bookstore and therefore might have been disregarded by me had it not been for something bristling inside me at the dreaded "Judgment Day" portion of the Christian religion. Judgment Day being the only aspect of Christianity that pisses me off more than tithing. J Day takes top billing when used to scare the hell out of followers (pun absolutely intended) for disregarding some twisted interpretation of one part of a collection of myths translated about a thousand different ways, six thousand years ago by people who still thought the world was flat. Never mind that it's probably contradicted in the same book at least a dozen times and just ignore the rest of the absolute absurdity throughout as well. Grimm's Fairy Tales are more realistic than the Bible. Yes, I'm a Godless heathen, I've accepted it.

Something I will admit to is the positivity contained in "The Cross Worked." I was kidding when I said I was Godless but my idea of God has zero to do with any 'religion' and is about love, acceptance and positivity - all of which Maldonado captured perfectly here. For that, I am grateful.

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Review: Song of Mornius

Song of Mornius Song of Mornius by Diane E. Steinbach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Song of Mornius" is the first in what will be author, Diane E. Steinbach's, The Talenkai Chronicles series. Based on this introduction to a world bursting with sensational fantasy, enchanting sword & sorcery and breathtaking adventure, fans will surely be waiting with bated breath for each new installment to be released. Four hundred plus pages can either seem tortuously long or entirely too short, depending on where the reader might fall on the love it or hate it scale. This went too quickly for me and many others, I imagine. Everything from the characters, both good and evil, to the flawless momentum of the plot made "Song of Mornuis" a pleasure to read.

I have to point out Steinbach's use of words like 'hie', an old fashioned verb left-over from Shakespearean era literature, and the way she uses dialogue to bring a sense of renewed fullness and life to a genre that can easily get bogged down for readers like me.

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Review: The Prince of Manhattan

The Prince of Manhattan The Prince of Manhattan by Alexei Iskander
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"The Prince of Manhattan" is a young adult, romantic, fantasy/time travel novel (though at 148 pages, nearly a novella) featuring Miranda Hazelgrove, a modern day college student, who meets Leofric, a portal jumping prince from a thousand years in the past. I believe this is author, Alexei Iskander's first book - it was published first anyway, if Goodreads can be believed. Despite my desire to support new writers, this was not ready for publication based on need for editing alone. I admit I am not this book's audience and that is not where my negativity comes from. I can easily forgive the absurdly multi-layered genre and even the at times cringe worthy dialogue but come on, the term is not "saddled up", it's "sidled up", sentences should not be eight lines long and for crying out loud, sync up the tenses within paragraphs at the very least. Okay, I'll take off my editor hat now.

Iskander has the bones of a good novel here. I would like to see that potential fulfilled.

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Review: PARAHAN, 2nd Edition: The Earth We Live on Has Been an Imprisonment System

PARAHAN, 2nd Edition: The Earth We Live on Has Been an Imprisonment System PARAHAN, 2nd Edition: The Earth We Live on Has Been an Imprisonment System by Kevin Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, simply reading the summary, I would have had zero idea what "PARAHAN" is about beyond it being in the science fiction genre. After finishing Kevin Brown's South Korean written novel, I continue to be baffled as to the true meaning. There are a lot of philosophical and political type themes winding through the plot. The plot itself is intricate to the point of convolution. Being that this is a translation, I tried not to be so harsh but I just didn't get there with this novel. I felt no connection with any of the characters, I cared not one iota what happened on either planet and I fought a general sense of discombobulation through all 246 pages.

I feel guilty ripping this to shreds because if the blurbs are true, "PARAHAN" has been a hit with readers from South Korea to the United States. It could be that I am not the intended audience Brown was writing for, and that's okay. Based on positive feedback from others and overall good press surrounding this sci-fi book, I am settling on an intermediate rating.

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Review: Dolph the Unicorn Killer & Other Stories

Dolph the Unicorn Killer & Other Stories Dolph the Unicorn Killer & Other Stories by Martin Lastrapes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When the cover image is animated/cartoon, my mind jumps to the conclusion that this is a kid's book. Pretty dead wrong assumption here and this one is, in a word, unnerving. I mean I know the title of the book is "Dolph the Unicorn Killer" but rainbow blood dripping from the neck of a decapitated unicorn head is a bit extreme, isn't it? But hey, to each his own.

I have found that I am enjoying books of short stories more and more. I am a self-proclaimed novel junky but sometimes a story idea can be fully explored in a much shorter venue such as a short story or a novella. Martin Lastrapes proved it here with this collection of short stories bound by a few characters, the Dolph comics series and the backdrop of Vas Vegas; cleverly linked, I thought.

For those of us who have a hard time getting back to the business of real life when in the middle of a good book, short stories are the perfect tidbit for the literature breaks in the day. I will recommend this widely.

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish

The Last Mrs. Parrish The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was better than The Silent Wife, though eerily similar. Yes, overall, it turns out to be the same "twist" but there are enough differences that both books can be appreciated on their own merit.

I see that many readers dislike both female leads in this novel but I was rooting for Daphne from her first appearance. A gripe I have is about the male characters - could you pigeon hole a gender any further? They're either psychotic narcissists (Jackson) or spineless jellyfish (Gregg). Even men are deeper than that.

Another complaint I saw was the sexual and emotional abuse being too graphic. Are you kidding? There is barely a paragraph dedicated to each instance and the number of instances can be counted on three fingers. In my opinion, if you want to highlight that type of abuse, that degree of glossing over or using the topic for shock effect is nearly worse than using it as a plot crutch. I see no trigger warnings needed.

4 out of 5 stars is my vote just because I save the 5 star reviews for the ones that blow my mind and keep me thinking about them for weeks afterward.

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Review: The Walker on the Cape

The Walker on the Cape The Walker on the Cape by Mike Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Walker on the Cape (Sgt. Windfower Mystery #1)
by Mike Martin

*This first portion is specific to GoodReads, not or*

I'm sorry but I have to call out Goodreads or whoever entered this audiobook there because as you can see above, the title character is spelled W-i-n-d-f-o-w-e-r not WindfLower (or it was as on the date of this review). I noticed that it was an odd but perhaps clever opportunity for the author to go a bit off the reservation with something as simple as a character's name to set his aside from hundreds of other detective series. So... when I began listening and heard the Sgt.'s name pronounced WindfLower, I was thinking, shame on the narrator, that's a big mistake. But it is NOT the fault of the narrator and before you know it, I, as a reader, am thinking more about that discrepancy than what is happening in the story I'm listening to. That is something I think, I, as an author, might be fairly perturbed about.

Beyond that, I thought this story was.. cute. I know that's probably not what the author wants it described as but that's where I am. The townsfolk were quirky and fun, perfectly fleshed out for their role in the plot. Sgt. Windflower felt, to me, like your second choice for prom date but not your "ugh, if no one else asks me I'll go with...". I just didn't really care about him personally, beyond his role in the mystery. The mystery the plot is surrounded by was not necessarily tightly spun but it was enough where I wanted to know the ending. And speaking of the ending, I will admit I thought it was deeper than I expected. In fact, overall, the entire thing felt deeper than its individual parts - meaning that I found the characters to be so so, the mystery level to be so so, peripheral plots to be so so... And in the end, when I sit to think about The Walker on the Cape, I definitely cannot say I hated it. I have many friends I would recommend the book to.

*Something it did take me a while to get past - the Canadian accent of the narrator. I am quite sure it is perfect, but I'm a Southern American and I'm not sure two dialects could be more different than American South and Newfie.

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Review: Piper Robbin and the American Oz Maker

Piper Robbin and the American Oz Maker Piper Robbin and the American Oz Maker by Warwick Gleeson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You had me at homicidal aliens... Okay, not really. Usually that is a phrase where I would be lost, actually. Then I spotted Oz in the title and couldn't resist. Note: I craft my overall impression and subsequent review very much around my first impression with the title, cover image, and summary of a novel and how that either differs wildly or is right in sync with my experience reading the book and feelings afterward regarding the story/book. There are things along the way that can alter that impression, like egregious editing errors, moronic characters and/or a plot that goes nowhere or way off the grid of even fictionalized reality.

Beyond nefarious aliens, sorcerers and witches abound - as would be expected from an Oz based narrative - Piper is hardly a Dorothy, in my opinion. What I mean by that is, I found Dorothy to be weak and annoying in The Wizard of Oz and in Piper Robbin and the American Oz Maker, Piper is anything but weak. I mean, Dorothy defeated the witch by accidentally spilling water on her. That's not the heroine of a story for me. Piper is, simply put, a badass.

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