Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review:At the Gates of the World's Rim by Shiva Winters.

At the Gates of the World's Rim by Shiva Winters.

What I like about Shiva is that not only is there no end to her imaginings but each book gets much better. This is not one of those series where the second book is less than the first and the third is having trouble getting up to par. No. She makes each one better than the previous and they read quite well so that you might shuffle them up while reading and not get too confused.

This installment begins to add to the already large dynamic family of Monorth. He and his sister now share a daughter through her partner. This is no ordinary young girl, its Monorth's offspring after all. We'll be seeing a lot more of her.

Monorth's name basis relationship with the gods is growing as the gods seem to be drawn into his life as though he's some sort of spiritual lightning rod. Nix and Monorth are getting into the serious business of visiting and mapping out the gates to all the worlds beyond the rim.

Monorth is still an outcast from the Salak'Patan so he's playing it all close to the vest but he's collecting such a vast library of knowledge that it's becoming evident that he shouldn't keep it to himself. He is going to have a tough time trusting others to handle it all .

Nix and his fire cats are beginning to also grow their family and as they start expanding out into more preserves he and Monorth soon discover there are other being such as the fire cats who seem to represent each of the godly elements. Monorth also seem to be collecting a number of the 7 legendary swords of the gods.

It's all leading up to a major turn of events.

If you like Science Fiction, Fantasy, steam-punk, furry stories, Sword and sorcery, and even a few fire breathing dragons. (to say nothing of the cats). These novels are for you and it would be a shame to let a few spelling errors spoil the best read of the year.

J.L. Dobias author of Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric

Monday, January 16, 2012

Touchstone Trilogy by Andrea K Host.
I purchased this book after reading a sample of Andrea K Host's -And all the Stars-. I had already put the three books in my wish list prior to that. But after reading that sample I had a feeling I should just buy the whole and totally unrelated trilogy. I read through them in three days.

People have told me that writing in first person is hard to do. They have given various reasons why it does not work and sometimes those reasons are conflicted. Some even suggest that it's this decades fad to write in first person. Because this is written as a diary it's naturally in first person. Andrea nails first person right on the head, and right out of the box.

Cass is such an engaging character in Stray that she sucks you right into her story at the beginning. There is not doubt of Andrea's world building abilities and her strong characterization. But what really got me in this story is in the chapter February when Cass's birthday arrives. And I'm not giving anything away, other than to honestly say I was so into Cass by then that I nearly cried. It's not often a book does that.

And then there was Lab Rat One. And by now this series is peopled with a couple of handfuls of characters that you would think you'd need a score card but there are more to come and Cass has a way of making sure we don't lose track of who is who. Or maybe I should say that Andrea does.

It doesn't take long before Andrea does it to me again. Even though Cass sometimes begins to sound a bit whinny I just get so into her whole dilemma that I can't help but feel what she must be feeling.

So by Caszandra the third installment, you would think I was steeled and ready to handle it. But, Andrea through Cass has a way of now drawing you into her life and the extended family of people around her.

This series of books is one powerhouse. Well told tightly packed. Emotionally charged.

But what really got me was how it all touched me. I would need more stars if I gave a star for every time I was greatly affected by this story.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Essential Reading in Science Fiction by David Scholes seems to be neither of these.

I purchased this e-book and I read these all straight through to the very end. I wouldn't call it science fiction as much as fantasy though it does contain a lot science fiction'y descriptions.

This appears to be a collection of 24 stories that could very well stand alone. Yet there is this convoluted thread that runs through them all to make it look like a disjointed effort to make a novel.

I say this because the first story has a character named Urrle who at one place gets miss-named as Earle. Earle seems to be a recurring character through out. And there are threads of Asgard myth's with Odin and Thor in prominence. And there is some almost faceless benevolent but non interfering alien race called the Brell. So, it becomes difficult at best to divorce these from one another. There are some other names recurring but often with disturbing conflicted time lines - such as Chris and Jenny.

This is what creates the rather disjointed whole at best.
It's not that these might not be good stories its just that my limited intelligence kept having me say "Huh" straight through to the end. I tried in my mind to break them up into their separate selves but that was just worse.

Here's a challenge for other readers- read this and tell me what it is really all about.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Shiva Winters - Of Forgotten Days and Lost World - continues to weave the magic of the Salak'Patan series.

The story picks up after the life changing and somewhat life shattering first book with Monorth out in the field trying to continue the work of rebuilding the Salak'Patan. As his reward he is subjected to backstabbing and treachery until he has no choice but to retire from that, which he has been so driven to complete.

So begins the wandering through the halls and out to the very Rim of the Empire. His ever strange sometimes dysfunctional family growing around him and their support for him also growing. Out on the Rim his destiny brings him to Phoenix or Nix as he calls himself. And I was almost fooled into thinking this was going to be another man with ultra intelligent cat stories of which many abound.

In a way it is. But the rich detail of the story- often confuse as Purple Prose- yet in fact it is Purple Patch. And for those who don't know- there is a difference. Purple prose detracts and takes from the story. Purple Patch enhances it with its poetic beauty. The consistent depth of the characters that walk through this story - though sometimes it seems they can do no wrong - are all painted with their own quirks that give this story its excitement and adventure and romance.

I've already warned those who are distracted by the occasional misspellings and grammatical errors so this time I'm going to rate the book on what it did for me.

It gave me a pleasant exciting good read filled with a patchwork of poetic beautiful worlds, characters and ideas. Getting us ready for the next great book.

I won't recommend this for everyone- but, then some of you are going to miss some really good stuff.

Keep them coming Shiva.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review - Chasing Power by Genevieve Pearson

Chasing Power by Genevieve Pearson:Book Review

I really liked this book- that's a sort of mirroring of what that star selection says. I might have given into one more star but there were elements of the style that kept me rolling back to clarify what I'd just read. The sad thing is that I believe its the fault of the Kindle book and not the author.

Chasing Power is a really good book. It grabbed my interest and kept it most the way through. Though it took a while before I started seeing elements of something new or surprising. Some of the sequences were predictable such as Harry being thrown off from his protective guard duty by an attractive females uncanny attention to someone like Harry. Eventually though the author , Genevieve Pearson, shows her stuff as she begins to throw in a few twists to the plot.

I really enjoyed the main character, Samantha's, distrust of the others. Of course it's only fair that she doesn't trust Lane, Al, and Harry while she views them as her kidnappers. She has trust issues. I think that this was all handled well and the subsequent miscommunication because of mistrust was quite believable adding much to the story.

The one little issue- and it most cases it works just fine to use this style- is that there were whole sections of dialogue without any classifiers as to who was speaking. And though in most cases when I went back I could sort it out there were e-book related formatting problems that munged dialogue together at some of these points.

I'm certain this boarders on nit picking since it might work the other way for other readers who would be put off with the inclusion of too many he said- she said - cluttering the pages.

I recommend this book to anyone who reads Science Fiction or Fantasy or who loves those super hero graphic books. This has elements for all those people put together with some original plot twists and it's begging for a sequel.

Or maybe that's just me begging for the sequel.

J.L. Dobias Author of Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Book Review - If You're Human Don't Open The Door by Jennifer-Crystal Johnson & N. Jones

If Your're Human Don't Open The Door by Jennifer-Crystal Johnson & N. Jones

If You're Human Don't Open the Door is a collection of 4 stories of well crafted Terror and Horror.

Jennifer-Crystal Johnson (together with N.Jones) has written several chilling tales with a variety of female protagonists who have to quickly run the gamut from terror to horror to terror again. And Jennifer does it well. And, in keeping with the genre, things don't always work out for the hero. The tempo of each story is different as she takes us through;

Frozen moments of horror:

"I found that I, too, was frozen as I watched the creature seem to pulse and shake on top of him." -Emily The Day the Demons Danced

To moments of active Terror:

"I shut the door slowly and locked it. My knees grew weak and it was getting harder to breathe but I had to push onward. I felt faint. I looked to my left to see the washer and dryer there and rested a hand on the washer. My pulse began to increase. I had to move now before it was too late- too late. Wasn't it already too late?"-Emily The Day the Demons Danced

The final story is full of interesting imagery.

"I could feel millions of cuts on my body as I crashed through this curiously contradicting wall of the world, beautiful and painful, brilliance originating from a painful source, and an animal scream permeated the air and resonated throughout my bones, each laceration in my skin humming as if electrified."-Jennifer-Crystal Johnson Mirror Demon

In the short span that these stories allow, Jennifer finds a way to make the reader empathize with each of the main characters so that they find them selves mentally shouting don't open the door. In some cases the reader is taken on a sustained chain of thrill a minute gut wrenching terror. It's a good thing they were short stories.

On the other hand there were only four. I could have managed a few more. Maybe next time.

J.L. Dobias Author of Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review - Shiva Winters:: Once Upon Another World

Shiva Winters Once Upon Another World

The title and the cover almost had me thinking 'fairy tale'.
Once I dove in feet first it was more like Zelazny's Amber series and Farmers Tier series rolled together and given a special Shiva Winters touch. Raven Sinclair is a powerful character well matched by his counterpart LeShana, who is not only lovely but also as powerful and kick-ass as Raven.

Suffice it to say, I loved this book, and there is only one reason I give it 4 stars instead of five. There are so many errors in spelling, grammar, and questionable usage of some words and missing words- sometimes extra words that just don't belong there. I can live with some of this in dialogue- no one speaks perfectly all the time. But it leaks heavily into the narrative portion and that gets me to believing that maybe those characters don't really speak that way either. This book is offered free, but as a representative of self publishing it could have used a bit of polish. (Another couple of pairs of eyes.)A number of people I know might toss this book down after the first 50 pages and that's their loss.

One thing I disagree with other people about is that an editor could have pared it down some. I'm not a fan of muting the authors voice. An edit will help the spelling grammar and other but the author's work should stand unless the author decides some portions might not be necessary or should be reworked. I did not see anything that just jumped out at me and said I don't belong here.

As it stands Once Upon Another World is a well packed novel with a fairly tight plot that has plenty of twists to keep the reader guessing. It also demonstrates some skill in world making that Shiva should be proud of. She has a writing style that I was comfortable with, though I'll need to read more of her work to see if the style changes as she becomes more polished.

If this book ever goes to paper print copy I would suggest a strong look at some editing and a signed copy for me.
Bravo! For an awesome first novel.

J.L. Dobias Author of Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book Review : Vivid by Andrea Murray

Vivid by Andrea Murray : Book Review

The novel Vivid by Andrea Murray is definitely YA though I would add Mature to that- that's just me.

There are some familiar elements- that's not a bad thing - in fact it made my hair stand on end to see Vivian and her friend Abby in high school facing the usual angst that life dishes out plus being the target of Trista and the bully elite. When Vivian displays some rather remarkable powers that's when the chills start and I got shades of Stephen Kings Carrie.

Fortunately we have Easton Garrett and Cooper McNeal to ground them. These fellows are almost unbelievable. That might be why it takes the girls so much time to figure out that they are real.

Just when things begin to look like they are getting better Vivian discovers her families dark secrets and it supplies some answers to some rather frightening memories she's been having. Vivian is beside herself trying to keep her secrets and live a normal life. But, prom is on the way and we all know what that could lead to.

Because she's been using her powers- even though its sparingly- she's running the potential for putting a pin on the map for some very bad people.

By the time things get rough we have moved on into something similar to Stephen Kings FireStarter and the feeling that this could get really bad.

And though I mentally draw these similarities Vivian and the people surrounding her are nothing like the characters in those other books. Andrea Murray uses her knowledge to draw us into the lives of some convincing teens trying to deal with their normal lives while they get thrust into something that is far from normal.

By the end of the story you will definitely want to know what is going to happen in the next of the trilogy.

J.L. Dobias Author of Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric

Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Review - Strangers With Familiar Faces (poetry)

Strangers With Familiar Faces by Jennifer-Crystal Johnson...Poetry BOOK REVIEW

I hunted a bit- maybe not enough- for some ideas on how to review poetry.
I managed mostly to run across everything from laughable to silly to downright ludicrous.
I took a lit class in college where we studied and wrote buckets of poetry so I have a notion of the mechanics involved. I'm not sure a review should focus on that. I'll let someone else obsess about those.
So I decided to say something about how it affected me.

To that end I'll pass on this quote to set things up a bit.

"The biggest hurdle we have to leap in this world is the one we place in front of ourselves. No one cares whether you live or die unless you care.” –Dr. Mieko Mitchell
This is a line from the novel Murder on the Pier by Jere Myles.

I mention this because this is exactly what an abusive person and relationship attacks.

This set of poems is the poets heart and soul at the very moment of these attacks. Even though in a way, for me, some of these are difficult to read they are typical of what poetry is. It's the heart and soul of the poet often in the moment and sometimes in moments of reflection. There is a message here also - maybe a warning- something that might have been useful even to me when I was seeing this happen to someone close to me and feeling so helpless.

Domestic violence is not good for anyone including the entire family of everyone involved. Because once there is the erosion of love for oneself it propagates like a disease. And these poems made me want to hold the poet and say you do matter and if you can get to the end of the tunnel you will find all of those who care. But, as the quote implies it starts with the abused person returning to the point where they care about themselves.

It's not an easy journey and these poems chronicle a part of that long winding path. They will resonate with anyone who has seen this happen. Perhaps they will even help someone identify this before it gets this far.

I recommend this for everyone.

It is a testament to a strong will that something so touching and beautiful could come forth and help.

J.L. Dobias author of Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Book Review - Fifth Man

Fifth Man by John B. Olson & Randy Ingermanson

Having been surprised to find the Fifth Man in e-book I devoured it in one day.

I love that John and Randy put their definition of High Concept in the back of the book.

It's quite different from the other definitions I've seen.

I liked the story and it was a page turner for me. I'm not sure that it was because of the High Concept.[even by their definition.]

It reminded me of the survivor and big brother reality shows.
I don't watch reality shows much.

But over all the interaction worked to keep my interest so I must not be averse.

I suppose that the finger pointing in both settings kept the excitement going but you'd have expected by this time they'd learned some lesson from the flight out in Oxygen.

[minor spoilers here and below]
Some of the more die-hard fans might raise a fuss about communication taking 40 min while the robots often appear to react too appropriate to the moment as though they are getting instructions instantaneously from long distances.

In most cases I could resolve it in my mind to mostly serendipity.

The excitement was a lot like the movie leviathan and It was perfect that they ended it mostly with rational explanations for almost everything.

I really did like it despite my apparent tone above and I can at least say that I read this from cover to cover without judging it by its cover or its blurb.

Which is something that can't be said about everyone.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Review - The Originals by William Voigt

The Originals by William Voigt is one amazing book that takes place in the early 50s.

Willow Rogers an adolescent girl on vacation on the rustic and dangerous wilderness Dumas Island encounters a wild boy claiming to live on the Island. She knows only that he's saved her life and that she's inexorably drawn to him.

As she grows from an awkward teen to a beautiful young woman she is still haunted by her wild boy. Her thoughts and dreams are filled with his memory though each year that she returns to the Island she is unable to find him.

As the years go by and the Island business is closed and Willow goes to college she tries to forget the wild boy. Her fiance, Barry, coaxes her to take a camping tour of the Lake Superior shore line in Canada. Willow once more finds her life in danger and everything changes.

The wild boy, Mike, has returned from a tour of duty in Korea. When a service buddy and friend gets into trouble he helps him out. This puts them both on the run. They head for the now quiet and deserted Dumas Island.

Two separate sets of thrilling and deadly circumstances are destined to somehow bring these two together again

This book is a story containing mystery and suspense along with a deep romance. What is woven into or around it is a mystical mythos that has the Island and Lake Superior moving things in a specific direction.

This is a well crafted tale I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys suspense , romance, and a bit of the fantastic.

I was fortunate to obtain a copy of this in a small used book store in Charlotte MI.
I'm not sure how obtainable are copies of this book.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review - Once We Were Human

Once We Were Human by Randall Allen Farmer

"When I screamed myself awake, nothing had changed. Metal cot. Straitjacket. Legs shackled together. A single tiny light bulb on the ceiling, behind a metal cage, bright enough to hurt my eyes."

Farmer, Randall (2011-11-09). Once We Were Human (The Commander) (Kindle Locations 39-41). MajorTransform Unlimited. Kindle Edition.

For me this is where the book begins. There is some preface and it does have relevance. But, as a reader the line above is where the story grabbed hold of me and began to draw me in.

There seems to be some discussion about genre- I have no qualms with calling this Science Fiction. There were many similarities that I could draw between this and the Novel Darwin's Radio. And for anyone who liked that book this book will be a satisfying read to you. For those who felt as I did that Darwin's Radio had a tendency to dwell too much on the stale scientific end of things ;then this book will not disappoint you.

There are some similarities- but mostly about the conjecture that there is some disease involved in what is happening.

This book is what I would term an Alternate Universe story - the story takes place in the 1960s. And in many places there are hints at speculation that what is happening may have happened one or more times in the past. This might create a feeling that its dwelling on myth and fantasy, but I believe as with other books like this it still stand strongly in the category of Alternate Universe Science Fiction. I'm not sure that it needed to be in the 60s, but it was a good place for these characters to be coming from.

In this story the reluctant Heroine is thrust into a nightmare that she would only relegate to what in her mind was the worst of sinners and criminals. She has to face her own prejudice and self loathing in order to cope with what she's become. And all around her are the barriers and abutments of a society that is living in fear of what she and others like her represent.

Randall Farmer takes us into our own paranoid 60s and creates some believable characters who are all working sometimes at odds with each other to try to contain something they can't begin to understand.

It's been a while since someone has written a novel that has kept me as engrossed in the story and immersed in the characters. This was both a thoughtful and fun read that I had difficulty putting down. There's a lot of room left for the next story in the series. I shall move to that after I catch my breath.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Review -Murder on the Pier::Murder Behind Closed Doors

Murder on the Pier by Jere Myles and Murder Behind Closed Doors by Jere Myles.

I love a good mystery and I thrive on good drama. The best old movies were well acted dramas taken from stage productions and put onto film.

In Murder on the Pier I feel that the author Jere Myles has woven a drama entwined in a mystery that is more evident to the readers than to the players. For the players it’s the story of their search for love and affirmation in a world that seems to have gone mad. Though the world would argue the players are the ones gone mad. The nature of their lives as it all unfolds is at the very least thought provoking.

"The biggest hurdle we have to leap in this world is the one we place in front of ourselves. No one cares whether you live or die unless you care.” –Dr. Mieko Mitchell

This is life seen from a place many people I am acquainted with do not often want to go. And yet in this place I found many words and ideas I've often tried to express, put on a page in such an eloquent way it drew me in.

In Murder Behind Closed Doors Jere Myles brings the players up to the level of the readers regarding the mystery, while continuing to resonate with the same voice.
"How can you expect someone to say they love something they have been taught to hate? My friends would never have let me turn my back on my...my faith.”-Eleanor Evelyn JoyLynn Moore.

Anyone who likes mysteries or suspense or drama will love these books. But, more so, if you don't mind stepping out of your comfort zone to examine yourself.
This series is like a multifaceted mirror with page upon page of interesting unusual reflections.

As for the mystery; Taking place in the 90s and considering the main characters race and sexual orientation this could easily be construed as a hate crime. Adding the dialogue of the killers to that would almost add affirmation. But, remembering the rule of mysteries; nothing is as it seems…

I don’t plan on missing the third book, Murder on Michigan Avenue, which promises to be a thriller.
J.L. Dobias author of Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Book Reviews

Short Reviews of Other Peoples Work

JumpSpace Funny thing: I ran across this book while looking for a book someone had described to me and could not name the author or title. This is not the book they were talking about but it had most of their description. This is a story of pocket universes created through the application of matrioshka arrays and a man and his pet cat who is an AI Avatar for the larger AI that runs the displays. In this story the main character is an architect who just happens to be studying the Implied Spaces that were created when these world were designed. (Those spaces create in a sort of accident of design while the architects are setting the structures and features of their normal designs.) His quest for a simple understanding of these spaces and the flora and fauna that have populated them thrust him and his AI avatar into an adventure across the arrays. An adventure that threatens their lives and the continued existence of the arrays. Though it builds slow. It starts out with a sword and sorcery motif in one of the pocket worlds. It quickly builds up steam and when the mains plot kicks in it grabs your attention.

JumpSpace Having never read this before I jumped at the opportunity to grab up the E-book of Legions of Space by Keith Laumer. Once again Keith pulls through with a timeless tale. This time he rivals Robert Heinlein with a flawed hero who pulls out all stops to stay alive. No matter how hard life has kicked him Legion has a way of surviving and eventually coming out on top. This has a bit of Heinlein's Glory Road and Philip Jose Farmers Green Odyssey. Told only the way Keith Laumer can tell it.

JumpSpace The Making of Legend by Richard Barrs was a fine add to my E-book collection. If you like the old Robert Heinlein and are a fan of The Last Starfighter and other such movies you should love this book. Making of Legend has the making of a new universe of endless tales. The protagonist in this installment is a bit full of himself and has a long way to go to grow up. Pick this book up and you'll see how that works out in a one night read.

JumpSpace This book took me by surprise. The main character was someone who I found so engaging I could relate to her immediately. And the story is peopled with a magnificent supporting cast. There may be a few distractions from errors,(even with a good copy-edit it is hard to get them all) but not enough to ruin the story. Bravo on a first novel. Looking forward to the next. Did someone call for a sequel? I concur.

JumpSpace I'm not a fan of Distopia stories. But I was pointed at After Things Went Bad and decided to give it a chance. My thought is that if you took Rod Serlings Twilight Zone and a bit of Ray Bradbury and blended it up you might come out with this. Some times the writing style is a bit rough but it works because these are gritty stories. They showcase some things about human nature even if it's parts of human nature that aren't too flattering. They are little chunks out of someones daily life. But they hit their point hard and make you think. Still not a fan of Distopia.

JumpSpace I picked up the E-book Retief by Keith Laumer and of course could not resist re-reading stories I've read before. I never tire of reading the stories of this hard hitting diplomat with a penchant for tongue in cheek humor. What I find the most interesting is how they seem to stand the test of time. I can read these stories with the same awe I had for them back in the 60's. I suppose that's because they are more about diplomacy than about science fiction. Anyone who likes Science Fiction containing those suave cut through the red tape action hero's will love this collection.

JumpSpace I acquired Goblin Moon by Teresa Edgerton recently in E-book format. I found it to be entertaining. If you are a fan of Dumas, Dickens, and Tolkien. You'll love this. Add a bit of Shelly and you round it out. The richness of description of the world of the Goblin Moon are reminiscent of Charles Dickens. While the lead Female character would be likened to Little Dorrit. The depth of intrigue is similar to the work of Alexander Dumas. The Male lead is in someways like the Count of Monte Cristo. Throughout is a thread of theme which is like Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. Toss some Dwarves and Goblins into the mix and you'll have trouble putting this one down.