Posts that have been categorized as: "Books that are Mediocre"

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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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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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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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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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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Seventh Decimate

Posted: May 2, 2018 by Vanessa in Books that are Mediocre Tags: Fantasy, Stephen R. Donaldson
Seventh Decimate

It’s probably been fifteen years since I last read any Stephen Donaldson. It started with LORD FOUL’S BANE then the two sequels in that trilogy (which ultimately became 10 books) and, honestly, they weren’t my favorite. The main character was more anti-hero than I’d encountered before, and any reader could see that Tolkien had an influence on Donaldson’s worldbuilding. But Donaldson has a following, so I thought I’d try again with his most recent offering, SEVENTH DECIMATE, which as far as I could tell would be different than the series that introduced me to the author.

Turns out, my first impressions of Donaldson were only reinforced.
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Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon

As with my previous review, the decision to finally read this novel came as a result of consuming media outside of the book realm. Prior to now, I hadn’t picked this book up because of the complete underwhelming Richard K. Morgan had given me in previous books. Granted, most of his stuff that I’d read was in the fantasy genre. Although I have also read Thirteen, but that didn’t really ruffle my feathers either. Still, the trailer for the series that Netflix recently did just looked AMAZING. Grabbed me and would not let go. And wouldn’t you know it, about that same time the book came up in my audiobook queue at the library as available and I just couldn’t help myself. Turns out, I probably should have listened to myself and/or watched the show instead.
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Annihilation

Annihilation

I really like the trend I’m seeing of speculative fiction comprising a larger portion of the movies and tv (streaming?) shows in production today. In fact, the whole reason I picked this book up was because someone was making a movie out of it, and the trailer totally pulled me in. Got another book in my stack right now with a review waiting to be posted, that I picked up because of the same kind of media inspiration. Netflix has just been upping the game. If I’m honest with myself, most of the new movie/tv speculative goodness seems to be coming from, or associated with, them. Granted, not everything. But lots of it, yeah? Have you been keeping up on your “Coming Soon” trailers and news buzz? Might just be time that you did that. After you read this, of course. What were you thinking?
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Gods & Monsters: Mythbreaker

Posted: December 21, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Tags: Stephen Blackmoore, Urban Fantasy
Gods & Monsters: Mythbreaker

Steak and potatoes. These two foods comprise the epitome of a hearty American dinner. So if I wanted to make an apropos comparison of such an eating experience to reading a book, then that reading experience would be: full of goodness, tender and tasty, and most of all filling. At the end of such a read, I would expect to be satisfied, and if not necessarily ready to dive into the next book, at least ready to move on to something new. One could easily make other such comparisons between food and reading. And if I had to make a food-based comparison to reading this book, it’d be a bowl full of popcorn: easy to keep reading, exciting enough to keep my interest, and regardless of how it ends, finding that I have a bit of a belly-ache afterward. As with reading many of these kinds of books, once in a while they can be fun, but too many in a row? No thank you, sir. But it had been a while since I’d read a popcorn novel. So.
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Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

Posted: November 7, 2017 by Vanessa in Books that are Mediocre Tags: Ruth Emmie Lang, Urban Fantasy
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

Weylyn Grey isn’t like other people and he knows it. He’s a kid living with wolves in the woods when Mary first meets him. His parents are dead and his wolf family needs him, but he’s also painfully aware that he doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the kids his age. He wants to try to fit in, but every time he attempts to become a functioning member of human society, there’s always something that goes awry, so he ultimately returns to the wild. And yet, it’s his connection with Mary and a few other people he meets along the way, that reminds him about the power of human relationships.

But it takes him a long time to understand, and we spend the book learning about how different he really is.
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