Saturday, December 31, 2016

Zero One, Zero Two: We Are All Dead

I won a print copy of Zero One, Zero Two: We Are All Dead by Amanda Baker in a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway.

Zero One, Zero Two is a scifi story, but probably not like you are used to. It certainly was not what I was expecting. It is told as a memoir mixed with current action. There is also a healthy amount of poetry mixed in as well. I am no authority on poetry style, all I can say is that it is not nursery rhyme, every line rhymes, poetry.

Also a commentary on human history, a very cynical and angry commentary. A "glass is half empty" kind of commentary, or more accurately; the "unfairness that some people didn't even get a glass" observation. It seemed to be trying to make me feel guilty for ever enjoying any amount of success when others weren't so fortunate. I can't (or won't) say that the commentary is wrong, or even that I necessarily disagree with it, but I do maintain that it is negatively skewed.

But as a story, Zero One, Zero Two is well presented and entertaining. Dystopic society and an exaggerated reliance on technology have had their way with humanity. Again, I'm not well versed in poetic style, but I did enjoy most of the poetry included. The story is well focused and the main character is sympathetic. It is a tale told during a particularly bleak period and there is little reprieve from that bleakness. But there are some brighter moments. A good thing for me or the book would have been just too depressing.

So, although my review may sound more negative (and that is the tone of the book), I did enjoy it and am glad to have read Zero One, Zero Amanda Baker. The book is 125 pages long, so it is a quick read. If darker commentary is your thing you'll like this book. Enjoy!


Friday, December 30, 2016

Devil's Vortex

Don't have to write a lame disclaimer; I actually bought this book!

Devil's Vortex, penned under the house name James Axler is the 125th Deathlands book and the final installment of the series. Note: The final installment not the finale. Sadly, for fans of the series we get no closure, no happily ever after, no peace for the companions. Not at all thrilled with Gold Eagle for just leaving us hanging.

The book itself is a good representation of the series. Devil's Vortex was for me a great comeback after the disappointment of the last book. As usual I do not know who the actual author was, or indeed if they have written any others in the series. We are back to the companions being in control of their own situation. Plenty of brain splattering violence, just like we've become accustomed to in The Deathlands. A little reminder here and there of how hot Krysty is and what happens to men who see her naked against her will (it doesn't end well for them).

I was amused by the authors tip of the cap to Lerner and Loewe's Paint Your Wagon, naming one of the main ancillary characters "Mariah" (they call the wind...). Nice touch. The kind of thing I often enjoyed throughout the series.

I was a bit surprised that the story was set in the Black Hills near MT. Rushmore without mentioning the big base in that mountain which was the focus of an earlier book (no, I didn't bother to look up which one). The story has Indians (excuse me, Native Americans) fighting among themselves, whitecoats behaving badly (they are whitecoats after all), and of course, our old friends kicking butt and not needing to take names.

Devil's Vortex is disappointing in that it doesn't conclude the story line, but I have a feeling the author did not know it was such (bad Gold Eagle, BAD!).

For some time the Deathlands books have been my secret (sort of) indulgence. I have always liked to fantasize about being the "last man on earth", so I'm sad to see the series end. Fortunately for me, there are still about 20 of the books in the series that I have not yet found or read, so I guess I'm not really done with the series.

If your a fan of Deathlands, Devil's Vortex by the ever non-existent James Axler will satisfy your need for a fix of post-apocalyptic violence and mayhem. Enjoy!


Monday, December 26, 2016

Chase: The Hunt for the Mute Poetess

I received an e-copy of Chase: The Hunt for the Mute Poetess by Thomas Dellenbusch, for review.

An interesting side to this review; The book itself is a "movie-length-story" meant to only take a couple of hours to read. Its origin is Germany and the story has been translated into English (very well by the way). Currently an English language web site is under construction. The German site is MeinKopfKino, in English literally; My Head Movie Theater. Comfortable translation; My Theater of the Mind. Seriously similar to the very blog you are reading right now eh?

On to the important part; How is the book? Fear not, it's very good. Chase... is a fast paced action story the reader can easily see in their minds eye. It's taut and well organized, flowing like a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Good-guys vs bad-guys, martial arts, a secret force capable of cracking any fortress (think IMF and Mr. Phelps), a hunt for hidden secrets, Mafia and other organized crime (politicians), and a little romantic tension round out a fun and entertaining read. As in a movie as opposed to a traditional novel, we don't get a lot of backstory on the characters, only what is necessary to the plot. All the detail is focused on the current story., if I understand correctly, a part of a series of movie-length-stories meant to be read in this fashion. I don't know if the characters in this story will be ongoing, although this story could easily be serialized. I would personally like to read more of Rique (The main character) and his teams' exploits.

Author Thomas Dellenbusch has the ability to write a full story with enough detail to move the tale along but not so much as to slow down the reader. Chase... is not meant to be a book to get lost in for days, but to entertain the reader who needs to treat themselves for a couple of hours, like a plane, train, or automobile trip. Or as I did, in bed before going to sleep. In that case be sure and leave yourself time because you probably won't want to stop, and you'll wind up staying awake to finish the story.

Thomas Dellenbusch has great concept here with the movie length story format, one that fills a real niche in the reading world. Chase: The Hunt forth Mute Poetess is a great introduction to the genre. Enjoy!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Zombie Christmas 2

I won A Zombie Christmas 2 by Anthony Renfro in a Goodreads Giveaway.

First I have to admit; I read A Zombie Christmas 2 out of order. I try to read books in the order I receive them, but with Christmas only a few days away I decided to read this Christmas themed book right away. Apologies to other authors awaiting reviews (in my defense, A Zombie Christmas 2 is only 61 pages long so it won't slow things up too much).

Actually A Zombie Christmas 2 only takes up the first half of the book, the second half is entitled The Dead of Winter. These two stories are part of (at the time of this printing) a six part series of zombie themed short stories.

Our hero, Mike (good name) is on a mission to rescue a six-year-old boy stranded in a zombie filled city. You'll have to read the book to find out how he goes about his mission. Graphic violence (of course it's graphic, c'mon, zombies? Hello) A little sex (short story authors always seem to end their stories right when the sex is going to happen!) not particularly graphic.

The Dead of Winter (nice play on words, Mr. Renfro) is the tale of two men tying to make it through a night in a zombie filled city. Actually a few good survivalist tips here. Zombie violence, no sex (two men; not that there's anything wrong with that, but thank you), and zombies on skis (never heard of that before). My kind of twist at the end.

A Zombie Christmas 2 By Anthony Renfro, a good fun (yeah I said fun) zombie read. Enjoy!


Friday, December 23, 2016

Shift World

I won a print copy of Shift World by Christopher W Gamsby in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Shift World was for me a very different kind of fantasy read than I am used to, and different is a good thing in this case.

In this instance "Shifters" are people who can move between worlds. The worlds are geographically the same, but technologically different. Here the difference is that the world that can be shifted to has metal, and is inhabited by various monsters, where the "main" world does not have the metal (or the technology to produce it anyway), and the shifters make a living bringing it between worlds.

A stylistic tool author Christopher Gamsby utilizes here, even if not original to him, is still very impressive. There is a fair amount of dialogue in the story and rather than relying on; Slart said, or Nort said, or Karp (the main character) said, our author puts each characters dialogue in a different font. When you see italics you know it is Karp, no one else. Each characters has their own font, making the dialogue flow fantastically. An aspect of the book I enjoyed greatly.

Written with a knights in armor kind of flavor, Shift World definitely qualifies as an action/adventure fantasy rather than a quest story. Graphic violence, only hinted at sex and a bit of coming of age (or coming into their life roles). Our characters have to come to terms with some uncomfortable truths (and that is all I'm going to tell you, read the book).

The book is still in need of a little editing (things like; one "dons" their armor, not "dawns" their armor) not riddled with such errors, but prevalent enough to warrant another look.

I have to say the ending was a little flat. The story built the necessary tension throughout, moving towards a grand finale, but kind of left me going "Huh"? Not bad, but not really living up to the story in my opinion. More anti-climactic.

Overall the pluses far outweigh the minuses, so I think action/adventure or fantasy readers will find Shift World by Christopher W Gamsby a worthwhile read. Enjoy!


Friday, December 16, 2016

The War of Spells (The Averot'h Saga Book 2)

Author George Mazurek sent me a print copy of The War of Spells for review.

The War of Spells is the second book in the Averot'h series. I don't know how many books are planned for the series, but if they are all as good as the first two, I trust there will be many more to come.

No spoiler, the book (as is its predecessor) is about a world where magic is commonplace. What I really enjoy is the way magic is treated as just a fact of life. Other stories I have read in the genre have made magic such a big to-do that it can overshadow the true story. We don't have paragraphs leading up to the actual casting of a spell, they just do it, and get on with the story.

The War of Spells supports and expands the story begun in book 1. It gives us some historical background of Averot'h as well as continuing the stories of the main characters. This is a lot to accomplish when the reader realizes the book is only 147 pages long. It is a taut well paced story that kept me engaged from start to finish. Although I don't think The War of Spells can be deemed a "stand alone", the story is sufficient unto itself to be read this way. But I will caution readers here that the experience will be so much richer if they read City of Wizards first.

Even though The War of Spells is a fast read, it does not lack for excitement, adventure and action. There is violence (sometimes graphic), sex (not too graphic), romance, love, honor, human (rather, wizardly I suppose) foibles and weaknesses, dishonor and deception and Dragons (I like dragons). Author George Mazurek does a fabulous job of moving the story along without the reader feeling rushed or cheated. He does not gloss over story line. He provides rich detail. Relationships are complex and the characters are well developed.

Jiri (George) Mazurek is a Czech writer still living in the Czech Republic. I mention this only because though not identified, who ever translated the original Czech language story into English did a fabulous job, it most definitely does not read as though it has been translated from a different language.

The War of Spells is an entertaining second installment in what is developing into a great fantasy series. I look forward to more from George Mazurek with this series. Give it a shot, and I'm confident you will too. Enjoy!


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Lake of Fire (The Apostates #3)

I was given an e-copy of Lake of Fire by author Lars Teeney for review.

Having read the first two books in the Apostates series, I was looking forward to reading the conclusion of this trilogy. There were a couple of particular characters I was interested in following. Author Lars Teeney delivered an entertaining story, with a truly surprising ending.

There are a lot of characters (I mean a LOT of characters) to keep track of. This has of course been the case throughout the series, so nothing new there. Albeit minor, this would the biggest negative I find in this book. It was sometimes difficult to keep track, especially as names for the former rebels have changed. Again minor in the big picture and would probably be even less of a problem if the reader has access to all three installments and could read them closer together.

The only other drawback is the presence of typos and errors (always the bane of e-books). Not an overwhelming number, but enough to interrupt the flow of the read.

Now on to the positive; My favorite character was the 1968 Dodge Charger owned by Ayane Inoguchi. I know, an inanimate character, but it is an awesome car. The things it can do beyond just being a Charger (the coolest car ever made) make it a cooler character than KITT. Personal opinion, but then that's what a review is, isn't it?

Lake of Fire is a great blending of dystopian government, seriously advanced technology, and post-apocalyptic survival. In most books each of these aspects lead to the next. Here Teeney has kept them all alive and well in his story. He demonstrates what could happen in the vacuum left in the wake of rebellion, all the different factions vying for dominance.

The ending, as I hinted at earlier, is a real surprise that I can't see how any reader could see coming. Much to my enjoyment the epilogue does a good job of bringing a solid end to the story, so, kudos to Mr. Teeney for giving us closure.

Lake of Fire is a fitting end to an overall excellent story. Readers of complex, multi-genre, unpredictable fiction will find intellectual stimulation and literary satisfaction with Lars Teeney's epic tale of rebellion, dystopia, technology and societal disintegration. There is ultra-violence, some sex, and diversity enough to satisfy any reader. Enjoy!


Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Gentleman

Disclaimer first: I won my copy of The Gentleman by Forrest Leo in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Set in Victorian London, The Gentleman is the tale of a poet (Lionel Savage) who's opinion of himself exceeds that of most of the people around him. He is a lazy, self indulgent fop who has married for money and is now dealing with the ramifications of that ill-conceived decision.

An encounter with The Gentleman (the character, not the book) sets Savage on one of the most incredible and hilarious adventures I have read in a long time. He is surrounded by the most eccentric cast of characters you'll ever hope to meet; a lawyer (the editor of the story), an explorer of places no one else can find, an inventor, a remarkably liberated younger sister, and of course, the Gentleman. Together they begin a quest to recover Savage's wife Vivien from Hell itself (you'll have to read the story to find out how she becomes trapped there).

My wife noticed that I was laughing out loud while reading The Gentleman and it's true. Author Forrest Leo masters the dry wit of British humor. He sets the tone with the Editor's Note at the beginning of the book. Since I am not sure of the legalities involved in quoting I won't copy it here. But I will say: It is priceless.

The group of adventurers (questors? goofballs?) take in stride as completely natural some very bizarre occurrences. They are at times stumped and perplexed by their circumstances, but never overwhelmed by the extraordinary situations they deal with. They apply their own logic to the illogical and continue on their merry way.

The climax was very satisfying (did I really just say that?), I wasn't expecting that end at all.

If you enjoy dry humor as much as I do, and are in the mood for a farcical adventure that will make you laugh out loud, I strongly urge you to give The Gentleman by Forrest Leo a read. You won't be disappointed (at least I don't think you will). Enjoy!


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Child of Slaughter (Deathlands #124)

The Deathlands books are one of my guilty pleasures. There are 125 books in the series and I own and have read about 100 of them.

Child of Slaughter is the second to last book in the series. It ended with #125 last November. Unfortunately Child of Slaughter sent the signal to me that the series was running out of steam. I have always enjoyed the series, the action has been good, the violence over the top, and the stories interesting.

Child of Slaughter does not hold up to that tradition for me. It just kind of fell flat. It read to me like the author was just going through the motions. The story line has been used several times. Basically the companions have been separated and have to find their way back together again.

I know that the series has been written by various authors over the years and I don't know how many were penned by this particular author, but he sounded tired.

I hate to be a downer on this book, but I think true fans of the Deathlands books will feel let down as I did. Bummer.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Flames of the Immolated (Ardalia #3)

Alan Spade sent me an e-copy of The Flames of the Immolated (Ardalia #3) for review.

As the title (Ardalia #3) suggests, this is the third and final installment in the Ardalia series (I'm so smart I scare myself sometimes). Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the first two books The Breath of Aoles (#1) and Turquoise Water (#2), I was eager to read the conclusion. Mr. Spade provided an exciting conclusion to his trilogy.

The Flames of the Immolated continued the stories of several characters we met in the first books. As I said in my review of the second book, the characters continued to grow, no flat, stale characters here. The complexity of the story is incredible, balancing so many story lines and maintaining a coherent story is a real achievement.

The Flames of the Immolated is most definitely not a stand alone story. Refreshing yourself by skimming the second book would probably be beneficial, of course I didn't do that and I don't think I suffered for it. The story is so rich with unique characters both good and bad that I was left in awe of Alan Spade's imagination. That one writer could come up with such a variety of beings to populate his story just blows me away, let alone the fact that he is able to weave them all into such a riveting story.

The trilogy is a "quest to save the world" story that actually involves the whole world, not just a small corner that many of the worlds inhabitants don't even know about. Everybody knows what's going on.

The story is full of action, violence, horror, evil, good, love, romance, loss, redemption, magic, greed, dog and cats living together (okay, not that), but you get the idea. So much more than can be shared in a short (yeah, yeah) review.

Alan Spade does not spare our emotions at all. There are emotional highs and lows, no one is safe, no one can rest on their past achievements, and no one gets things the way they want them. This kept me as a reader on my toes, forget trying to predict the story.

Finally (yes I'm almost done), My favorite part of the book is the final two chapters, not because they were the climax, but because they weren't. So often quest stories end with the end of the quest. I'm always grateful to the authors who give us a strong epilogue. Even though the last two chapters are not officially designated as such, they are a completely satisfying epilogue. So, huge (YUUUGE) thanks to Alan Spade for The Flames of the Immolated. Enjoy!