Reviews :: Book Rating :: Books that are Mediocre

Review

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel

Posted: December 11, 2018 by Vanessa in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Alyssa Palombo, , Books for Chicks
The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel

If you’ve never read the original Washington Irving short “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” you should (it’s easy to find a free version online…but be sure to have a dictionary on hand, it’s not necessarily an easy read). You’ve probably seen the silly Disney cartoon, but the original story has an ambiance and mystery about it that is enhanced by its brevity and style. Alyssa Palombo attempts to re-tell this American classic in her recent THE SPELLBOOK OF KATRINA VAN TASSEL, while retaining the setting details and characters, but giving it a modern twist.Read the rest of this review »

Review

Artemis

Posted: November 16, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Andy Weir, Science Fiction
Artemis

I never took the opportunity to read The Martian. Saw the movie, tried to pick up the audio book once but it was a bad CD copy, and I just never got back to trying again. Recently, one of our illustrious fans requested that we read and review Weir’s next book, Artemis. Oddly enough, I also had to wrangle with a bad CD copy of an audiobook for this one (I love my library, but yeesh this seems to happen a lot) but I set my rocket scientist mind to the problem and figured out how to get it to work. And here we are. Interested in what we thought of it? I figured you might be.
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Review

Priest of Bones

Posted: October 2, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Peter McLean, Fantasy
Priest of Bones

I’m always leery about books that tout themselves as dark and gritty. “I’m dark! Read me!” they yell. “And I’m gritty! Read me!” But what is “dark” and what is “gritty”? So many authors, and even publishers, get it dead wrong all the time. You don’t become dark and gritty by including profanity; though such stories usually do contain a bundle of profanity. And stories aren’t dark and gritty because there’s a lot of violence in them either; although they typically contain a lot of the bloody hack-and-slash as well. And yet, there are constantly those that will try to throw a bunch of violence and profanity into a book and call it “dark and gritty”, and then try sliding it in under the noses of you wonderful readers.

<<eye roll>>

When will they ever learn?
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Review

Iron Dragoons

Posted: September 20, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Richard Fox, Science Fiction
Iron Dragoons

Military Science Fiction is a sub-genre that I don’t very often find myself reading. Not that I don’t like it, or even that I think I might not like it, but I just haven’t read much of it. Kind of the same way that I don’t very often find myself singing while riding the city bus. Not that the other patrons on the bus might not like my warbling voice or that I might not enjoy such an experience… I just don’t do it all that much. So this was a bit of a departure for me, but I got a copy of the ebook for free from the author on Facebook, if I remember correctly. Trying to drum up some business and get his name out there, I’d gather, and two cheers for him, I say! I think that more beginning authors should be giving a decent smattering of their stuff away for free. Take note, newbie authors. Especially those that are self-published. Just make sure that what you’re floating in front of people’s noses for FREE is also awesome-sauce, […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Moons of Barsk

Posted: September 5, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Lawrence M. Schoen, Science Fiction
The Moons of Barsk

BARSK: THE ELEPHANTS’ GRAVEYARD (EBR Review) was such a pleasant surprise that I can’t help but smile every time I think about the experience of reading that book. And feel bad, of course, because it took so long to finally make its way to the top of my reading queue. It was fun and engaging and intelligent without feeling like it was pandering in any way. So, when I saw that there was going to be a sequel… I determined that I was going to do right by it. To mention nothing of the fact that I was actually quite excited to hear that we’d be getting more from the world of Barsk. In fact, I can still feel that excitement in the slightest bit, even on this side of my reading experience.

Which is somewhat interesting, because it’s been a long time since I’ve been quite so disappointed with a sequel.
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Review

Tales of Ruma

Tales of Ruma

RPGs are for nerds.

You know it. I know it. They know it. Erm… well, I guess technically I should say “we” know it, because there ain’t no way I’m gonna skirt the issue on this one: we’re pretty much ALL nerds here at EBR. 🙂 And you know what? I think if more “non-nerdy” people would put their petty pride aside for one freaking minute and let themselves get lost in the imagination, adventure, and sheer brilliance of some of the good RPGs out there, the ranks of the RPGers would quickly swell. Because RPGs aren’t just a story; though indeed they are that. And they’re not just a game; though indeed they are that as well. They’re imagination and spontaneity and characterization in a form that you just can’t find anywhere else.

So don’t let anyone sway you from standing up for the oft-berated RPGs and RPGers alike. For it’s from those very annals that Steven Erikson gave us the Malazan Book of the Fallen. And Misters Abraham and Franck gave us the wide tapestry of The Expanse. And for all of you “non-nerdy” people: is there any way you’re going to nay-say the awesome goodness of Stranger Things?

<<crickets>>

I didn’t think so.
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Review

Starless

Starless

About halfway through STARLESS (Amazon), Jacqueline Carey’s latest novel, the narrative takes a distinct turn towards myth and fable. The move from specific to generic forfeits much of what was interesting in the first half of the book in favor of an almost childlike story of wonder and adventure, leaving the reader holding a novel that feels less than satisfying despite many interesting elements.

STARLESS takes place, perhaps not surprisingly, in a world where all of the stars have fallen to earth. Each of these fallen ‘children of heaven’ now rule as a god or goddess in the realm where they fell. Born at the exact moment of an eclipse, Khai is chosen by the Brotherhood of Parkhun to be raised as the ‘shadow’ to Princess Zariya, who was also born under this same celestial event. Zariya is part of the House of the Ageless, the royal family who partake each year of a special seed that prevents aging, keeping them alive for hundreds of years.
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Review

Writers of the Future, Volume 34

Writers of the Future, Volume 34

I find it somewhat unsettling how quickly I tend to look past the art associated with this annual anthology. Well, if I’m being truthful, I tend to naturally look past most of what is offered in these anthologies other than the stories from the winners. Because it’s those stories that most have the chance of speaking to my soul, as an aspiring author myself. And yet, this time around, I’ve made it a goal to give special attention to those “extras”. After all, it’s the winners of the “Illustrators of the Future” that will be penning the future covers that will catch my attention enough to get me to pick up books and give the first handful of written pages a chance at catching my mind afire. As well, it is the extra writings–the essays and sometimes stories from the judges of the contest–that represent what they admire and enjoy in fiction. There is indeed much more to this anthology than just a simple collection of stories by a bunch of newbie, but not always unskilled, writers of fantastical fiction.
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Review

Killing Is My Business

Killing Is My Business

The line between an homage and a pastiche is as thin as a sheet of New England lake ice. At times refreshing when done right, but often as bitter as an old flame’s sudden departure, the Noir genre has for decades fascinated, riveted, and influenced literature, both pulps and classics alike. When I caught wind of a fusion of a hard-boiled mystery staged in an alternate 1960s LA, still as iconic as it was in the days of yesteryear, I had to crack it open over a bottle of ten-year-old stale gin for a compulsive reason. Why I have gin in my rickety desk is only my business, but I was feeling pretty cozy with this little spine opener of a yarn.

But it didn’t have that pop you’d expect from a Coke. It was more like a flat Coke. Sure, it’s got the feel, the look, and even the shape of a Coke, but it don’t have the taste of it. You can feel it in your gullet. Something just ain’t right about this one. But that’s ok. Not every tale’s got to be a real sob story, a mournful heartbreaker, or make your gray matter noggin do some joggin and thinking real hard about all the bad stuff that goes on in life. So it goes.
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Review

American Elsewhere

American Elsewhere

So, we put this book on our “Best of” back in 2013 without posting a review for it. I know. Naughty us. I thought it was about time that we rectify the problem. Plus, it gave me another chance to read a Robert Jackson Bennett book. 🙂 After reading his Divine Cities series, I made a point of putting his name on my go-to list of authors to constantly check in on. Interesting story that’s actually on topic: I was having dinner with a few friends back in February. Brian McClellan (of Powder Mage fame) was part of the group and talking about how he was helping beta read Robert Jackson Bennett’s most recent work in progress. Nearly lost my stuffing. Can you say jealous? Whoa. Anyhow, I found this story on my audio book app, and the rest, as they say, is history.
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