Solar Scavengers by Barry L. Marshall

Summary:

He just wanted to be a pilot, and then the scavengers attacked…

Solar Scavengers are considered a security threat to the Commonwealth. StarSec has hunted them for years, but the balance of power shifts when alien technology abandoned on Mars is discovered by a faction of the scavs.

This technology could benefit humanity, but unfortunately, it falls into the hands of a tyrant named Feng who plans to use it against the Commonwealth. The solar system is plunged into war, and now, the future of the human race depends on a young man drawn into the situation by a mysterious girl…

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Characters:

I struggled with the characters throughout this book. Stormy was probably my favorite, but even she didn’t stand out. Cody was written like the unintended hero. I never really connected with him. Cris was a good balance when he was added. I actually really loved the idea of a handicapped main character, I only wished it had lasted longer. There were a wide cast of supporting characters. Most of the characters seemed to instantly trust everyone…which made for unrealistic circumstances.

Plot:

The winning part of this book was this books twists and turns. Honestly it lulls you into a state of predictability and then throws a curve ball. I fell for it, missed the hint earlier on about what was coming. Despite that the plot was a bit all over the place. Sometimes it felt like it was caught in a feedback loop—trust, clever idea, successfully outwit…repeat.

Excellent and very detailed action scenes. It was the winning part of the book. I could envision each moment in my mind. They were vivid and excellent science fiction scenes.

Overall:

This is a Young Adult novel to the max. Over the top villains, too trusting main character that gets everything (nearly) right. So much teenage angst! Not to mention that everyone just seemed to connect instantly. This book has a tendency to tell rather than show.

The characters were a major failing of the book but they did improve by the end of the book. The plot was much more interesting but punctuated by more than a few surprises. The dialogue is clumsy and choppy—stilted in parts. There was a lot of potential in this book but just as much wrong with it. A good start that could easily be refined.

Rating:

2.5 stars (rounded up)

A YA novel with a Sci-fi backdrop. There is as much that I liked about this book that I didn’t. That being said there is more good than bad.

Where did I get a copy?

Author provided a copy. This is a voluntary review.

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A Monk’s Tail by Kyle Spencer

Summary

For Bow, a gun-toting, hard-drinking, foul-mouthed firefox monk, life as a monster-hunter is pretty straightforward. Until, that is, he runs afoul of a power-hungry warlord and gets himself imprisoned. There he helps a young maus named Susi escape, but in doing so unleashed nightmarish forces hellbent on capturing his new ward. Now, with the help of a giant bear alchemist and a violent nun, Bow must stay one step ahead of his perusers and certain death. But Susi is harboring a dark secret, one that could spell doom for them all.

Amazon Link

Characters

Quirky—that is the word that comes to mind when I think of the characters in this book.  At its lead is Bow, a charming dumba**. He is a jerk but in a mostly adorable way…mostly. Susi the second front runner and a sweetie with a secret. After Susi and Bow become fast friends there are a few others that show up. My favorite of the bunch is Talia—she is also a firefox like Bow and a good balance for him. It has a similar feel of Guardians of the Galaxy but in the fantasy genre. My biggest complaint is there are multiple points of view…all in first person. *groan*

Plot

The plot has a tendency to run all over the place. Where the main group is mostly being chased but also hunting monsters. It zigzags like a Dungeon and Dragon (D&D) campaign. Not necessarily a bad thing but it does cause lulls in a few areas that thankfully don’t detract from the story. That being said there are lots of impressive action scenes. Ones that make the pages and minutes melt away. There are a few past flash backs that didn’t really feel necessary and detracted from the story. That being said the ending is shocking and unexpected and yet realistic. People don’t always make the best choices and sometimes they make really terrible ones.

Overall

There is this kiddish charm with adult themes. Sometimes it is difficult to match the flippant attitude/feel of the book with the violence. I laughed out loud more than once. It had very vivid characters and scenes. The book is littered with fandom references. It make the world seem a little all over the place but had solid enjoyable characters to make up for it.

The author is clearly a D&D lover. It is apparent from the start. Furthermore, there is D&D overload when one of the characters plays D&D. Like D&D inception. I half expect the ending to be a critical fail on a roll because of how unexpected it was but that just added to the feel of the story. An absolute bonus! I have a feeling Bow’s adventures are far from over.

Rating

3.5 Stars (rounded up)

It was entertaining. If you love D&D and would like an amusing fantasy adventure—pick this up!

Where did I get it?

Author provided a copy. This is a voluntary review.

Murder Comes to Elysium by Daryl Anderson

Summary

PI Addie Gorsky is still struggling with her father’s death when a friend asks her to look into the sudden death of his niece, Elena. The young woman died minutes after being discharged from Tender Mercies Psychiatric, one of the darker places in the Sunshine State.

Addie agrees to this small favor, despite Elena’s death from anaphylactic shock appearing like nothing more than a tragic accident.

Soon, Addie uncovers small discrepancies in Elena’s untimely death. Even more troubling is Elena herself, not the inexperienced college student described by her uncle, but a woman with a dark secret.

When a second person dies at the Mercies, Addie discovers a connection between the two deaths. A connection leading back to one of the most heinous crimes in Florida’s history and the horrific poisoning of seven small children.

Suddenly Addie finds herself in a deadly chess match with an unseen opponent, a grand master of murder always one step ahead. Somehow, she must find a way to defeat this ruthless killer before another life is lost.

Characters

Addie is the main character. The book follows her very closely. She is an interesting character—sometimes I couldn’t decide if I liked her or not. She is emotionally closed off, head strong to the point of recklessness, but there is a core goodness in her that is evident by her need to right wrongs and seek out justice. Her business partner is a good supporting character. There are a lot of varied supporting characters!

Plot

What a chilling and powerful plot. There are so many twists and turns that it did a good job keeping me guessing even when I was ‘sure’ what might have happened, I missed guessing the outcome. WOW! What an ending. You likely won’t see it coming. There were some heavy themes but the author did a good job of inserting humor into the story. Which was an excellent balance for the potentially darker themes.

Overall

I was really drawn in by this mystery. At first I underestimated the overall complexity of the mystery that the author was building. There were so many aspects and angles that the author introduced one after another. The story had two drawbacks that detracted from the story. The overall flow of the story is not consistent, marked by highs and lows. I also didn’t connect with the romance…it felt like an afterthought that didn’t add anything to the story. I actually liked the idea of it, but it was poorly executed. Thankfully the mystery was great and more than made up for it! I can tell this is the third book in the series but the author does a decent job filling you in so I don’t think much was missed.

Rating

4 Stars

A solid mystery story with not as solid character development. For sure a great read if you are craving a good mystery with a tough female heroine.

Where did I get it?

Author sent me a copy for a voluntary review.

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

Summary

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin. And a cold-blooded killer. His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world. But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good… and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

Characters

Geralt is kind of a jerk. However, he is a clever jerk with a moral code. He is tough and unforgiving. I adore him. Even when he is being…frustrating. Yennifer and Dandelion are both excellent secondary character. I know they will be reoccurring characters. Dandelion is hilarious and is such a contrast to Geralt that they make an excellent team.

Plot

As a series of anthologies they are stories—reminiscent of twisted fairy tales. Ones like Beauty and the Beast for example but with a different take. Where the focus is on the monsters and are changed in very distinct ways. They are all moving towards the crowning story at the end.

Overall

It was a very good fantasy anthology. The author has a tendency to info dump. It isn’t so bad if you’ve played the video games but if you come in it is likely overwhelming. It has gritty feel that is refreshing. The action scenes are well done and easy to follow. There were a few places where the stories lulled but overall were very enjoyable. I would say I enjoyed more stories than I didn’t.

Rating

4 stars

Very enjoyable fantasy anthology with a striking main character. I am looking forward to reading the next anthology!

Where did I get it?

I bought a paperback.

Lady of Justice by Cyana Scriptora

Summary

Anna can’t stop thinking about Prince Audax. She feels like she knows him in a way that no one else does. She spends way too much time staring at his portrait and she’s even read his most intimate thoughts.
No, Anna isn’t a creepy stalker.
She’s a historian and her future career depends on discovering the truth. Her best friend Liz is convinced that Anna has brought her obsession to an unhealthy level, but she refuses to give up. She is convinced that the answers to the mystery of Audax’s death are still out there, and the clues lie somewhere in that dusty room.
Anna is willing to do just about anything to understand what happened, but to solve this enigma she will have to travel a lot further than just her university library.
As she delves deeper into the past, the twisted plot is unraveled and it’s worse than anyone ever thought.

Characters

Anna is a wide-eyed, hopeful. She feels more comfortable with a picture of a long dead prince, Audax, and stacks of old books than with people. Liz is trying to push her friend ahead, to finish her dissertation, and join their (her and Alex’s) teaching ranks. I feel like Liz did some growing in this book but she needed more. I was starting to get impatient with her and Alex’s relationship. While Anna grew in confidence. Audex on the other hand finally was drug out of his shell. Anna and Audex were a good match actually, and that helped. The supporting characters were all great and the ‘darker’ entities were portrayed in a gripping manner. Very little head hopping but there were at least two chapters where I had to go back because halfway through the POV shifted. There was also a ‘love triangle’ but it was very one sided and, therefore, palatable.

Plot

This story followed two main veins: Anna being sucked back into time to try and stop the death of Prince Audax and Liz working to find out what happened to Anna with Alex in the ‘present time.’ Liz and Alex searching for Anna took its own twists, but I felt that the characters in both timelines came to conclusions that were accurate too easily. Their leaps into the unknown were just too convenient.

I didn’t like the fact that the author had created this whole big world, but didn’t take the time to make the modern ‘Terra‘ any different than Earth. I assume this was because the author wanted to potentially drawn a parallel between the pieces of Terra being another dimension of Earth. It wasn’t clear if this was the intent and so the present time period world was disappointing. However, the world building in the past Terra was expertly done.

Overall

Despite Anna being in her 20s, this felt like a YA novel. Not all of the scenes and themes were but overall that was the feel. The flow of this book was consistent. It was easy to get wrapped up in and turn chapter after chapter. This was the author’s greatest strength. The book never really lulled, even with the occasional info dumping. The writing was straight forward and easy to read. The story engaging. The one thing this book sorely needed was transitions—between chapters when they jumped between time and breaks when there were changes within a chapter. It was the only hiccup in the writing. The flow was easy and the climax was created to no doubt flow right into the second book.

There are multiple pieces moving. It took me until about halfway through before I put it all together. Usually I figure it out faster, so this was excellently done. Putting the pieces, and there were many, together into a big woven web. I don’t want to say much more for fear to giving anything away.

Rating

4.5 stars (rounded down)

What an enjoyable fantasy read. If you like YA fantasy reads with time travel, romance,  and interesting twists and turns, this is a must read.

Where did I get it?

I received a copy from the author for a review. This is a voluntary review.

Eating Crow by J.D. Buffington

Summary

Kidnapped, bound, and nearly starved, I am forced to watch the torture and murder of an endless parade of innocent victims. What is this murderer after? Why won’t he just kill me and be done with it? How can I ever get out of this nightmare?

Overall

This short story is hair raising. The story doesn’t wait a minute but throws you into the deep end head first. It is dark and twisted. The main character is caught up in a terrible delusion (or is it?) of a killer. He kills without hesitation to prove a point. See it from the victims point of view. What an excellently chilling piece. Easy to read in one sitting and would make a great intro for a bigger series. Won’t say anymore for the risk of giving it away – well worth the time!

Rating

4 Stars

Chilling! If you love horror and want a quick thrill before bed – this is it!

Where did I get it?

Received a free copy from the author. This is a voluntary review.

Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords (Yarnsworld #3) by Benedict Patrick

Summary

Young and filled with idealistic fervor, Arturo packs his blade and travels to the fabled City of Swords in the hopes of joining the dashing Bravadori. Yet upon arriving he discovers these masked vigilantes have more in common with brutal thugs than noble monster slayers. Disillusioned and mocked, he stubbornly refuses to give up his dreams.

When an impending bandit attack threatens untold depravities upon a distant village, and no others will heed the call for help, Arturo joins forces with a worthless outcast and a walking legend to attempt the impossible, to traverse the demon-haunted wilderness and prove that in the City of Swords, true heroes can rise from the unlikeliest of places.

Characters

Arturo is a puppy. Hopeful, idealistic, dogged in his beliefs, and too trusting. Although he is aware of the danger and what a narrow line he is walking trying to become a Bravadori. I appreciated having a mostly positive character in such a dark, unforgiving world. Yizel and Crazy Raccoon are entirely different characters. Yizel is disgraced and broken. In many ways she was a future that Arturo could have had. Crazy Raccoon on the other hand is a very complex character. Strange, disgusting, and yet there is something there. You’ll have to read to find out what but don’t judge this book by its cover.

Plot

Arturo wants to make a name for himself.  He wants to apply his skill, his Knack, as a sword fighter and become a famed Bravadori. Once at the City of Swords he finds out very quickly that what he imagined, is not reality. Circumstances leads to the three unlikely…heroes?…characters teaming up to save a village. What they don’t know is that another game is in play at the same time. These two stories will collide into a epic battle that may end in victory or defeat.

Overall

As always an expertly built world with expertly built characters. The fantasy and stories were interesting and varied. The creature the author introduces is chilling. However, the creature also has a story and an interesting one. It intertwines leads to a fantastical ending. The writing was excellent and enjoyable to read, but this author has always been able to write in an engaging and vivid manner. I appreciated the standalone feel that had an ending that implied ‘this is just the first chapter in these character’s lives.’

Unlike the first two books that had a strong unique theme and setting, this book felt like the run of a mill fantasy novel. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very good fantasy read, but I just didn’t connect to the story as much or have a clever twist that hadn’t been more heavily foreshadowed. At the end of the enjoyable and worth the time!

Rating

4 Stars

Overall a great fantasy read. A solid 4 stars that I’d recommend to fantasy readers. If you loved the first two standalone stories of Yarnsworld, this one is just as good.

Where did I get it?

I want to thank the author for a free copy. This is a voluntary review.