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Review

Children of Blood and Bone

Posted: August 20, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Tomi Adeyemi, Fantasy, Heroic Fantasy
Children of Blood and Bone

I think there are a lot of readers these days that are “coming to an awareness” of the fact that there are considerably more books written by people that belong to neither the male half nor the white portion of the world’s population. Whether they’ve come to that realization by dint of the more vocal portion of the reader/authorship populace, or just because of their own level of self-awareness, I think that it’s by-and-large a good thing. At least, if they decide to do anything about it. I’ve always been one to share my opinion that I’m a staunch supporter of this widening of our story-source base. At the same time, however, I do my best to never pull any punches expressly because of who the author of a book is or what they’ve decided to write about. If a story is good, I’ll crow about it. If I feel like it let me down, I’m going to say so. And why. I am trying to review these things, after all, right?

This book is the first of my concerted efforts to make sure that the books I choose to read are “diverse” enough. Prior to this point, I just plainly never paid attention. I read what I was given. Granted, there were definitely times when I steered away from cliched-sounding YA or those that looked like they were going to be primarily romantic in nature, but that was about the extent of my filtering. The decision to diversify my reading choices will by no means keep me from passing by a book that just doesn’t sound interesting, regardless of who wrote the thing. It will, however, encourage me to make sure that I’m looking for options that will widen my view of what is currently being written in today’s publication sphere. I know there are going to be some of our readers that will groan at this, and some that crow. I hope to be able to both disappoint and please all of you in turns and become better overall as a result. Wish me luck.
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Review

Zenith

Zenith

ZENITH (Amazon) opens on Androma Racella, aka Andy, aka The Bloody Baroness, flying free. She and her all-female crew are between jobs when they’re intercepted by Andy’s old flame, Dextro. Dex is a bounty hunter and Guardian (of the Galaxy… don’t sue me Marvel) who is working for General Cortas. Cortas is Andy’s old boss and the father of her best friend, whose death she feels responsible for.
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Review

Midnight Riot

Midnight Riot

So I recently read on social media (that salacious den of way-too-accurate ads and oodles of wasted time), that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost had optioned a book series called Rivers of London by some bloke named Ben Aaronovitch (Official Announcement) for a movie. I’ve absolutely loved all of the movies from Pegg and Frost that I’ve seen, and as the book was listed as being “urban fantasy”, I thought it worth a few ticks of my progressively aging ticker.
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Review

The Silver Scar

Posted: April 25, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Betsy Dornbusch, Urban Fantasy
The Silver Scar

Betsy Dornbusch’s writing in THE SILVER SCAR (Amazon) is spare and lean, which gives the novel an immediacy that works in concert with her grim vision of a post-apocalyptic Colorado. While the book builds steadily, the beginning was rocky enough that I had a hard time getting into it and I bumped it down a ratings category or two.
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Review

Dead Moon

Dead Moon

So, despite what Goodreads might seem to imply, this isn’t the third book in any kind of connected series. It’s a single novel that may or may not be the first in a series, and that might be in the same loosely bound universe as other books that the author has written. But that’s about it. I spent the entirety of my time listening to this one believing that this was the third book in a series and wondering what story might have been told in the first two books. It’s not written like the follow-on to any kind of other story.

Now I guess I know better than to blithely accept the information I’m given on Goodreads.

This is also another one of those books that doesn’t look like it’s going to get a dead-tree release any time soon, if at all. <<sideways glance>> I just don’t get that. Part of the book market, I guess, that doesn’t include me. Still, I was more than happy to give the thing a listen, as I had a hole in my audiobook schedule.
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Review

The Antidote

Posted: February 19, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Shelley Sackier, Fantasy, Young Adult
The Antidote

THE ANTIDOTE (Amazon) by Shelley Sackier reads like a fairytale–and not one that the Brothers Grimm recorded; there is no real peril here in Sackier’s stage-set world building. With a lively protagonist and a plenty of twists, THE ANTIDOTE should be a bubbly little read, but a fumble on some story fundamentals makes it more frustrating than fun.
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Review

Avengers of the Moon

Posted: January 24, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Allen Steele, Science Fiction
Avengers of the Moon

Sherlock. Queer Eye. Sabrina. An endless parade of Spider-Men (is ‘parade’ the right collective noun for spiders? Update: the internet informs me it might more correctly be called a ‘cluster of Spider-Men’).

Anyways.

Reboots are everywhere and Allen Steele’s AVENGERS OF THE MOON is one of them, a reboot of a classic, pulpy sci-fi series called Captain Future. I’m going to date myself by saying it was WELL before my time and that I’ve never read the previous series; regardless, I think the reboot criteria are clear:

A reboot should stand on its own.

A reboot should make characters and story arcs more accessible to modern audiences by updating the piece’s sensibilities.

A reboot should retain some of the essential qualities that made the work popular in the first place.

So does Steele deliver?
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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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