Reviews :: Book Rating :: Books that are Mediocre

Review

The Lessons Never Learned

The Lessons Never Learned

Okay, so yes. I admit it. I’ve been putting off writing this review. In case you might have somehow missed my response to the first book in this series, ALONG THE RAZORS EDGE (EBR Review), it absolutely left me gasping for more. That story is easily one of the best dark fantasy stories I’ve read in the last year, and I haven’t only been noodling around in the self-published arena during that time. I’ve read some authors that I consider to be some heavy hitters. So to say that I was super excited to get into this book would be a pretty powerful understatement. I absolutely couldn’t wait. Like fingers twitching and stuff, grasping for more of The War Eternal. It stands to reason that there will be some spoilers here. So, if you haven’t read that first one yet… seriously, go buy it and read it and then you can come back for my thoughts on this one.
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Review

Of Honey and Wildfires

Posted: May 19, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Sarah Chorn, Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Of Honey and Wildfires

So this is another of those self-published reads that I picked up during my recent bout of “Ooh. Shiny” that came while reading Rob J. Hayes’s ALONG THE RAZOR’S EDGE (EBR Review). The connection is that the author of this book, Sarah Chorn, edited Rob’s book. In fact, she edited his entire series and then, post editing, proceeded to gush about it on social media, and I just couldn’t say no to it after all the good things she had to say. In addition, I’d come across her previous (first) book, Seraphina’s Lament, multiple times before, but never read it. I’ve since picked that one up as well and stuck it into my TBR pile. This one was hot on the radar though because of the nearness of its publication date, and so I picked up a review copy from her and dove in.
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Review

Ivory Apples

Posted: February 28, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Lisa Goldstein, Fantasy, Young Adult
Ivory Apples

At this point in my “reading career” it is often somewhat easy to look at a book cover, read the first couple pages, and then determine whether a particular book is going to be “my type”. This time I didn’t even have to read any pages. Just the cover alone gave me a pretty good idea that this book wasn’t exactly going to land in my wheelhouse. And that’s exactly why I decided to read it. This is me trying to branch out. Although, truth be told, I’m branching out within the context of the books that get sent to us by publishers/editors/etc. Still, you never know what you’re going to find when it comes to reading a new author. May just end up reading a book that was nothing short of fantabulous.

Spoiler alert: this one wasn’t.
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Review

Buzz Kill

Posted: February 21, 2020 by Jane Funk in Books that are Mediocre Meta: David Sosnowski, Science Fiction
Buzz Kill

BUZZ KILL (Amazon) is a narrative journey without a destination. The journey itself is interesting as author David Sosnowski explores the ramifications of social media; hacking; AI; a networked world, and the unregulated power of corporations to pursue projects for profit. Pandora and George, the two POV characters, are sympathetic. But a weak final third of the novel leaves readers with too many loose character threads and an abrupt conclusion that significantly weakens the narrative.
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Review

Kalanon’s Rising

Posted: February 19, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Darian Smith, Fantasy
Kalanon’s Rising

So it’s been a minute since we were involved with the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off run by Mark Lawrence, and I constantly find myself torn over the fact that we aren’t involved anymore. This annual contest is doing sooooo much good in finding some really good authors that have taken the self-publication route. Whether they plan on sticking to their guns for the long term or are hoping to gain the attention of a traditional publication house, you can’t deny the fact that the efforts Mark Lawrence (and all of the online review houses involved) is making for these authors is nothing but pure gold. Recently, we were approached by the author of a finalist in the current incarnation of the contest for a review, and I couldn’t help but accept.
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Review

Permutation City

Posted: February 7, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Greg Egan, Hard SF, Science Fiction
Permutation City

I’m reaching way back into the vault for this one: 1994. Yeah. I was still in high school and nowhere near mature enough of a reader to pick up half of what science fiction was offering at the time. Sometimes I wonder if I’m a mature enough reader these days to understand some of the stuff that science fiction is bringing to the table. A lot of it just makes me go cross-eyed with annoyance and leaves me wondering why story and character are so often pushed to the back burner in favor of presenting ideas that the author thinks are important. Why do they need to present these ideas in the form of fiction? Why not just fill out encyclopedias with these awesome ideas and essays, if the presented construct doesn’t really matter? Still, there are some really cool ideas that get flung around here and there, and I guess authors aren’t exactly going to stop presenting their ideas in these ways. So, we might as well read them, if we can handle them, and try to get what we can out of them. Yes? Yes.
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Review

Blood Heir

Blood Heir

I was fairly surprised when I saw this book displayed on a wall at my local library. Some of you may be familiar with or remember some of the mess that rose up around this book back in 2018. This is the author’s debut novel, and when it went out for early reviews, there was a bundle of people that started complaining quite loudly about how the book was racist and condoned slavery, and there was a big ruckus about it. By the time I’d even heard about it though, the book had been pulled from publication, by request of the author, and it was no longer available for review. Color me excited though when I saw that the book had quite obviously been published after all, and I was going to get a look at what all the hubbub was about.

Turns out, there wasn’t much to get excited over.
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Review

Age of Assassins

Posted: January 3, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: R.J. Barker, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
Age of Assassins

Recently I’d been seeing frequent mentions about R.J. Barker’s new book, The Bone Ships, but didn’t have ready access to a copy. So I went looking for another book by the same author and found this one. Apparently it’s his debut novel, and was just published a couple years ago. From the publication schedule, it looks like they were probably all written first, and then he got picked up by his publisher. 6-month, very regular release dates kind of point in that direction. Seems like I see this significantly more often from speculative authors across the pond, but not so much from those here in America. Wonder if that’s because I just haven’t noticed them, or perhaps if it’s just something they don’t do here as often. Bonus for people that find they really like the thing, I guess. 🙂
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Review

Writers of the Future, Volume 35

Writers of the Future, Volume 35

So I’m a little behind in getting to this anthology this year. Can’t say that I really have a good excuse for that. Just sat on my shelf for way too long, and then I noticed it a few weeks ago and decided that I had better stop passing it by in favor of other reads. Regardless of my overall impression of the stories this annual anthology contains, I always find it an informative read and well worth the time I put into it. Although, I admit, I have some strictly selfish reasons for feeling that way: I’m still trying to craft a winning entry. 🙂

The anthology included 12 stories this year. No Published Finalists. There were also a couple essays and a couple stories by those associated with the contest, and then the art for each of the winners. For me though, the important part was the stories. Want to know what I thought? Figured so.
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Review

The Poppy War

Posted: December 17, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: R.F. Kuang, Fantasy
The Poppy War

There’s a part of me that wonders if I’d have ever decided to pick up this book if I didn’t have a Twitter account. A few months ago, there was just this rash of people talking about it in my feed and gushing about how beautiful it was, or what a great book it was. So I decided I’d better see what all the hubbub was about. There are a couple other books like that in my to-read queue right now, but this was the one that took precedence because it was the first one I had free access to it. Got nothing but love for my local library.
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