Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review:Run,Witch,Run (Mountain Witch Saga) by Jonathan Grimm

Run,Witch,Run (Mountain Witch Saga) by Jonathan Grimm

I purchased this eBook off of a recommend and the blurb that Amazon has listed with the book. It seemed potentially to be out of my usual fare but as it turns out the scientific explanations for the magic were handled quite well and could plausibly place this in the Science Fiction realm.

I enjoyed the first book though I was left a bit puzzled by the ending and went on to read some reviews for the second book before I realized that to do a proper review it might be necessary to purchase and read the second book. That's just me and how my mind works.

I'm not sure why the author decided to make this two books as the total number of pages is less than 400 and the second book is only 158 of those. Still the first book does somehow wrap up enough to be considered complete. From the reviews there might be some confusion for anyone who tries to read only the second book. I didn't have a problem with it but then I had all the background from the first book to get me past any difficulties. I think for anyone to appreciate these books they should purchase both and read them in order. The price of each is not that bad and I would expect to pay as much for the 400 page book.

The first book Run, Witch, Run is the story of an orphan,Rachel, who is beginning to realize special powers that would be considered out of the ordinary. She's being tutored by, Katie, a person who has introduced herself as a Mountain Witch.

Rachel is hiding her talent and just trying to get through life with her adoptive parents and her situation, which seems to be leaving her isolated from other teens her age.

The Mountain Witch, who is a child size person, has warned her about others who will try to abduct her and is trying to teach her how to hone her abilities so that Rachel can evade these others. Katie also warns Rachel of other creatures out there that might try to harm her. All of these seem to come from some other dimensional space through some sort of gateway.

In what seems to be a side story there is a possible serial killer or kidnaper who has abducted several girls and the reader is introduced to Candice who is an investigator who later plays an important part in the story.

After a confrontation with her adoptive father while at church,(we never seem to know which faith it is except that it's not Mormon) Rachel decides to run away both to get away from the situation and to try to draw away the mysterious others who she can sense are all around her now waiting for a chance to grab her.She feels in a way she is shielding her adoptive parents from whatever harm may come.

While in flight she meets Dan and Eric, father and son. These two also will play important parts later.They consider themselves as devout agnostics. I'm not sure what significance the religion or lack thereof is to this story- probably not that much since it's not really mentioned much afterwards.

The tale of Rachel's attempt to survive on her own catapults the story into the second part which takes us into more of what looks like magic than science. It sets the reader up for the coming conflict that puts Rachel at the center.

It's an exciting story well written though I'm not sure I'd set it down to a YA without first examining some understanding about some of the minor charterer's prejudicial attitudes about certain types of people. I know of some older people that would agree with these misguided characters; who are clearly displaying enormous ignorance and prejudice.

It has an interesting take on the human soul and what happens when people leave this realm of life.

I enjoyed both books and think most people who like fantasy science fiction and stories with magic and witches will.

I would very much recommend to anyone interested in reading this book, to read both books in order to gain the full understanding of the story the author is telling.

J.L. Dobias

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review:Perfection Unleashed- A Double Helix Novel by Jade Kerrion

Perfection Unleashed- A Double Helix Novel by Jade Kerrion.
Might be considered YA and Science Fiction- It's also pretty good story telling.

I recently started twittering- the doctor said that if I ignore it it will go away. It was to trace some specific activities and I hadn't thought to get too involved. What I did do was I started getting some interesting leads into reading material. Mostly in the form of- gentle- spam.

What that yielded was a pretty good read.

The story starts with Zara and this line:

[quote] On another Friday night, she might have been out at a Georgetown bar, accepting drinks from attractive men and allowing them to delude themselves into imagining that they might be the lucky one to take her home.[/quote]
Kerrion, Jade (2012-06-23). Perfection Unleashed (Book 1 of the Double Helix series) (p. 1). . Kindle Edition.

I know, gag me. I somehow think this line is meant to mislead- don't let it put you off. This does not even begin to describe Zara.

Zara is a mercenary and we find her working with two colleagues, a clone named Xin and a fellow mercenary named Carlos breaking into a lab where some seedy scientist, Rolland and Michael, are keeping an experiment they call Galahad--The perfect human. Zara's goal is to obtain some genetic matter from the experiment.

Things don't go quite as planned and Zara ends up taking the largest sample available--Galahad himself. This snowballs into a number of events that introduce us to a whole slew of other character that for me were just a bit hard to keep up with at first.

There's plenty of good world building inserted in the narrative to help sort things out. The world is one where there are clones and mutants- both considered sub human. Galahad seems to fall somewhere in between all this. There are even Pro humanist extremest.

Zara is not fond of mutants because of tele-paths and em-paths and its no help for her that her friend Lucian Winter brings in his own em-path, Danyael, to help them when everything goes wrong. There are other surprisinge complications to this, but you'll have to read it to find out.

The list of important characters in this story keeps building, but it all works out quite well, though at the beginning there were some moments when I lost track of whose POV I was in. The POV thing may have just been me and I got used to it quick enough that it became a non-issue.

I found a lot of familiar elements in this story. Lucian reminded me of the rich and discerning quietly helpful protagonist that always showed up in Robert Heinlein's work.

The relationship between the Pro human movement and the scientist had shades of twelve monkey's written all all over it.

The mutant and clone situation was reminiscent of X-men and other comic fiction, which may help account for the cast of thousands and many protagonists throughout.

I found many of the plot elements to be predictable while at the same time there were moments of wow when Jade takes us in another direction than expected.

The overall story is well paced and well told and even though it requires more reading in the series to resolve some of the plot issues it sticks together well into itself to satisfy.

Perfection Unleashed:
Is a great read to anyone who likes a good thriller and interesting diverse characters, lots of Science Fiction and plenty of thought provoking ethical issues.

A great beginning to a promising series of books.

J.L. Dobias

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review:The Nine Inch Bride: Conundrum by Anonym

Being a frequenter of I came across this gem of a book as The Nine Inch Bride. It was probably a title far from what would interest me. But, with goodreads I always get the free offers about three days too late and I expected that to be so with this book anyway. To my surprise I saw that it was offered for a much longer time than usual. The caveat being that I would have to write a review.

Being no stranger to the need for reviews I thought this was quite reasonable and download the book which it turns out is the first half of a whole, which has been split and is named Book one: Conundrum.(the first conundrum being that my copy calls itself the Stone of Conscience)

I must admit that the beginning of the book intrigued me. But as with some other readers it segued soon into something less bearable for a time. For me it was just that it was bit too morose with the downward spiral of the life of our protagonist. It's when the suspension of belief occurs that the story picks up pace again. So does our protagonist's life.

At this moment it is almost safe to say that one might wonder that the events that follow isn't just a fabrication of our protagonist. But slowly we get the notion that the fantastic has happened and it is all real. But, the most interesting and intriguing part of this portion of the novel is that it becomes almost a political science diatribe. Unfortunately it takes getting about half way through the book to get there.

It's worth the trip.

In some way the long political discussion borders on perhaps a intimation that this might be a commentary on socialism. The real and elusive never quite attainable socialism that lives only in philosophical discussions.

The character that delivers it runs their own gamut of potential - from angel to devil. They just draw the reader in with what seem like selfless acts- to what seem like intelligent conversation about current political failing in democracy - to a bit of an imp suggesting almost the unthinkable.

Ultimately we're led to believe the goal is to help the real and elusive never quite attainable democracy that lives only in philosophical discussions to finally come to full bloom. Something that possibly is being held back by circumstances of today's global economy and capitalism.

I mentioned socialism earlier because along the line there is a familiar thought mentioned about how once the system is allowed to purge itself- capitalism will dissipate or just sort of go away to make way for the true democracy. Our protagonist's new friend wants to help this process along.

I want to see how this works out for them, that means I will have to obtain the next half.
(Which might be named A Stone of Conscience.)

It's a shame the author is Anonym-ous but there seems to be a measure of paranoia in writing when simple names are misspelled deliberately to inadequately obfuscate the reference of whom they are speaking.

J.L. Dobias author of Cripple-Mode Series

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review:Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a girl with Scissors by Benjamin X Wretlind

Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a girl with Scissors by Benjamin X Wretlind.

I received this book through Amazon- free after having read a rant by the author. I enjoyed his words so well that even though this is out of my usual genre I decided to give it a try.

I admit to being somewhat squeamish sometimes- more so with movies than books. Often enough I've seen movies that have made me shut them off part way through wondering why I endured it that long. This book made me squeamish that way sometimes, but I had decided that I wanted to see it through. As a horror novel it's quite balanced and sustains just the right element throughout to make it top notch.

A problem though, with part of the squeamishness, is that I kept seeing this less as a horror and more as literary fiction. It reminded me of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest mixed with Richard Farina's Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up to Me.

Maggie tells us her story in a simple almost innocent honest fashion. Not apologetic or deflective, but earnest description of the things that have happened and are happening in her life.

This is realistic story of abuse from her mother's boyfriends and even her own mother sometimes. Both physical and mental in the way that more often than not reduces the abused person to a point where they have no self worth. The result is that Maggie is distanced from most other children her age and is more often than not picked on by them. She takes it all in stride; possibly because of her experience at home she might view it as natural. It is easy to empathize with this child as she attempts to grow up. Her only port in the storm is her grandmother.

Maggie's grandmother is the person who has raised Maggie and she protects her when she can from both the myriad of boyfriends who are in and out; and her mother's wrath. It's ironic that grandma might figure more than anyone in Maggie's descent into madness. Maggie is afraid of storms- particularly the dust storms that seem to plague them and they often leave her with a mess of sand and broken glass that she's expected to clean. Grandma tries to help Maggie with this fear, often through telling a sort of tale of castles in the sky.

I somehow read between the lines that there is some sort of indictment here against telling children certain fairy tales and fanciful stories. In particular in this instance because there seems to be a thread running though the generations of this family that involves abusive relationships and often what take the form of anti-male sentiment. Always the abuse from the men seem to overshadow those of Maggie's mother. The notion that the bricks used to build the castle in the sky are used by girls to make castles for girls.

There is another realistic thread in this novel that has to do with Maggie's apparent descent into madness. This is played out well, as the reader comes to understand that Maggie has no real grasp on how far she might be slipping. When Maggie's only defender, her grandmother, dies; Maggie must take care of herself. And when grandma's ghost visits her constantly along with the discovery of strange sand eels, it become increasingly difficult to tell if this is a descent into madness or if it's a page out of something akin to a Stephen King horror and suspense.

I'll admit that there's a point half way through this that my sympathy for Maggie sort of dies. In a twisted way though it's like watching a loved one you've tried to help, who is in a bad relationship and can't seem to fight their way out. You don't want to give up on them but there's a point where they could drag you down with them if you're not careful. In Maggie's case at the beginning she has less control over her destiny because she's a child.

There are no other characters in the story that I felt sympathy for. They get their just deserts. This is not their story. It's a study in abuse and how some people handle that abuse and about how rebelling against that abuse can easily take someone down the wrong road for all the right reasons.

This book is well written literature and though I'm not sure how soon I want to venture into any more of Benjamin X Wretlind's worlds, I recommend this read as; Something great for a good thought provoking jarring of our regular everyday complacency.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review:Empire(In Her Name:Redemption) by Michael Hicks

Empire(In Her Name:Redemption) by Michael Hicks

I received this book free and what a bargain. This book reminded me of C.J. Cherryh's Faded Sun series. Mix that with James Clavell's Shogun (I have only seen the mini series- not read book). And an eerie shades of William Golding's Lord of the Flies.

We first meet Reza as a seven year old whose parents are fighting a deadly battle against the Kreelan's. The safe place where he had been was under attack and he came looking for his parents. He arrives in time to witness their death at the hand of a Kreelan priestess and he expects to die and strikes out with a knife slashing the Kreelan's face. Rather than killing him, the Kreelan uses her claw to mark his face in an identical fashion.

A few year later Reza is at an orphanage on a world full of orphans. He's younger than some, but has become a leader of house 48 by force of character. Here we see the shades of Lord of the Flies when an evil warden, Muldoon, attempts to rape a new arrival,Nichol. Reza steps in and immediately all the other children gather round. It gets a bit tense before diffusing, but it looked as though these kids might be willing to do more than complain.

Reza seems to fall for Nichol though she seems to treat him like a brother. She is older and is able to soon leave the orphan world to join the military, much to Reza's joy and dismay. She leaves in time to escape the destruction of the planet, by the Kreelans. For a change, the Kreelans take captives of the children and Reza is almost disposed of, because he does not fall in the given criteria. Out of curiosity the priestess, Tesh-Dar, checks this captive slated for disposal and finds the scar, which matches her own scar. She chooses to include him into the experiment in which the Kreelans attempt to discern if the humans(animals) might have souls. (Soul is something they can feel between each other in the blood)

Taken to one of the Kreelan home-worlds Reza is treated like a pet housed and fed and eventually trained in the Kreelan Way by Esah-Zhurah. He eventually will be the only of the experiment who survives, perhaps because his will and determination match Esah-Zurah's. Predictably this animosity between them will eventually lead to their growing close.

There is an enormous amount of world building packed into this book. And though it seems strange and alien that the Kreelan's can have such advanced technology and yet seem so savage at times, it is a good thing in that we are, after all, talking about aliens. Though it almost seems that parts of the story are slow and ponderous, it does give one the illusion of the time needed to pass for many of Reza's values and attitude to change realistically.

There are predictable elements, but still a lot of surprises and though things often come close to what I suspect; they often suddenly veer off in a different direction that logically fits the plot and the characters.

It almost becomes a story that could be as tragic as Romeo and Juliet.

After concluding the story I purchased the two other books that follow, and will definitely make time to read them.

Every science fiction and fantasy reader should find something good to take out of this book. I'm expecting a lot out of the next two books.

J.L. Dobias

Monday, February 11, 2013

Review:Spots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth

Spots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth

Is a delicious science fiction tale. Written in a somewhat play or screen play style that can put off many an average reader. For those who can tough it through, its beyond well worth reading. Though the story is told mostly through dialogue M.C.A has a way of crafting her characters through that dialogue. It's a bit more work for the reader and seemed to slow my usual pace down quite a bit, but it's worth the effort.

I would not have looked at this book had there not been controversy about it. It seems the use of Space Marines is being sanctioned by another party.

I find it hard to believe when I see the following information show up. :: has an interesting chart showing the dates and types of usage of space marines dating as far back as 1932

"Misfit by Robert A. Heinlein 1939 (uses term Space Marines)
Lensman series by E. E. Smith's 1938-1940(uses term Space Marines)
Captain Brink of the Space Marines by Bob Olsen 1936 amazing stories
Waitabits by E.F.Russel in astonishing sf 1955 (uses term Space Marines)
Space Marines (Space Opera RPG) by A. Mark Ratner (1980)
In movies as early as 1973(use term Space Marines)
In games as early as 1977 (use term Space Marines)

The United States Space Marine Corps by Eugene R. Hudson. 2011

This book is not a game or not about games nor related to said game and even if said game has an armload of novels at a certain bookseller, that still shouldn't give them the right to contest two words that show up in a cover that has more than those two words.

That much said::

Spots aka Magda Guitart is the seemingly unlikely hero of the story. As it unfolds we find that she's a wife and mother who has been at a desk job for a number of years. When she's deployed into a conflict zone, this doesn't sound good or hold well with her unit members and just about all except for Claws aka Travis Walker treat her with a measure of contempt. She comes off in initial description as someone who might be a little soft in the middle.

The reader begins to wonder how she managed to get shipped out to a remote asteroid where there's a deadly game being played with the enemy. As the reader learns more about the enemy through the dialogue and stage directions and the ensuing battles the stories of the characters are also quite cleverly played out. This seems to me a difficult task using mostly dialogue but M.C.A. pulls it off in what might seem like an effortless fashion.

The reader soon learns more of Spots as they are drawn into her character with a lot of respect for her. The reader soon begins to wonder when Spots unit team-members will start to see the light. There's a lot more to this kick-ass woman than meets the eyes.

This is all cleverly played out as the reader gets the impression that everything the higher ups do lately has been nothing but trouble and disaster for the unit. It's not that difficult to see that they can't recognize that somehow someone has put the right person in the right place.

This is not just a story of how Spots grows and hardens up, it's also the story of how the team grows. There's a lot to get over and to get through including xenophobia towards their alien adviser. And there will be casualties.

This story is so rich with character development and intriguing plot that it's enough to keep you riveted to the seat for a while. I'm sure that it's for the most part my own reading habits that made this such a long read. For me every sentence of dialogue counted and had to be digested carefully.

Even after a longer than normal time reading I was left hungry for more of Spot's, Sam's and Claw's stories. I found this to be much better than Starship Troopers.

Spots is an excellent, strong and well developed female character.

J.L. Dobias

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review:The Chaos Chronicles(1-3) by Jeffery A. Carver

The Chaos Chronicles(1-3) by Jeffery A. Carver

I've got to admit that I really enjoyed the first book of this trilogy Neptune Crossing which I received free from the author's website. So I purchased the Trilogy and it did not disappoint me.

In the first book the reader is introduced to John Bandicut who is some sort of Neuro-link jockey who controls ships and other devices through a direct link to his brain. We discover as it goes that his link was damaged and then further damaged by faulty nano-surgery and he now can no longer link and suffers from occasional withdrawal bouts that he refers to as silence fugue. He's been relegated to part of a survey team on the moon Triton. His employer is searching for alien artifacts which have been detected and not yet located. Because of his fugue he is being watched and considered somewhat unreliable by some of the staff.

We also learn that John's motivation for being where he is; is in part due to his using a portion of his income to help support his orphaned niece,Dakota.

As we come into the story we find John wandering away from his designated search area and stumbling across an alien artifact after falling through thin ice. Almost trapped below the ice he finds a device called the Translator and he's somehow been inflicted with the presence of an alien called the Quarx who seems to have taken up residence in his head. He also discovers he may not have wandered as much as the artifact called him through the broken link.

Johns life is just starting to get interesting. Through these two alien influence he learns of the Chaos theory and how a somewhat nondescript alien race has sent the Translator out to assist sentient beings who they feel are in danger of extinction by way of the culmination of random chaotic events- which they've somehow been able to determine. They've enlisted John to help prevent the possible destruction of Earth and all of mankind. The problem is that they don't want John to tell anyone because there is not enough time for people to examine John to determine he's not gone crazy. And they also don't want the Translator left in the hands of the other humans.

Throughout the story John has to deal with the higher ups who feel he may be unreliable since the accident with his link. He also has a number of friends who help him out. One friend Georgia, introduces him to Julie whom he would really like to get to know better. This becomes difficult because Julie is with exoarch and would really love to know about the alien artifact he's hiding. John would really love to use that to help get closer to her too.

The alien in his head , Quarx is another troubling matter. It seems this alien has a limited life span but manages to spawn an offspring or replacement after dying. Each Quarx is a different personality and almost comes off as some multiple personality disorder more than new creations. Either way they stick with John and some are helpful others grudgingly helpful and others downright xenophobic, while some border on being voyeuristic.

John must in the end chose to go on his secret mission alone but with the assistance of the daughter-stones that come out of the Translator. There are three stones each with a special function meant to be useful in completing the mission.

In the long run John becomes a fugitive from justice suspected of having gone mad while he at best will become an unsung hero if he in fact saves the entire race and planet Earth. All of this while trying to get the girl. All of this is at risk because the Chaos analysis might prove to not be quite so accurate and there might not even be a threat.

This story does have the usual hard science element that Jeffery Carvers other novels have, it also include those element with the alien artifact and the Quarx and the stones that all seem more close to magic. But, these are there to help build the world that will continue into the other two books. As they stand they follow a close set of rules that help keep the story driving along and make them believable for the story.

I'd recommend these stories to everyone who like any type of science fiction with the caveat that this is a series of books and that means that not all of the plot elements are totally resolved because it's meant to keep you interested in finding out what will happen next.

That's why I recommend the trilogy because you will want to know what is going to happen next and get some more reveal about the aliens who sent out the Translator.

J.L. Dobias