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

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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Review

Seventh Decimate

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

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. Read the rest of this review »

Review

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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Review

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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Review

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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Review

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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Review

Urban Enemies

Urban Enemies

In general, I tend to steer clear of Urban Fantasy. Always have. Every once in a while I’ll make a foray into the realm, but by and large I’ve been disappointed with what I’ve found. The obvious exceptions, for me, being Butcher, Correia, and Hanover. The really difficult part is that there is quite literally a metric ton of Urban Fantasy books out there, and there are more and more showing up on the shelves all the time. With all those possible choices available, how does one go about finding the next great Urban Fantasy series/author to start reading? Well, short stories can sometimes help give you an idea as to whether you’re going to like an author or not. Trouble is, even some of the really popular novel authors don’t know how to write a good short story. So how can you tell? I’ll always fall back on recommendations. Anyone got one for me? I’ll trade you a few. Check it out.
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Review

Arabella of Mars

Posted: September 11, 2017 by Vanessa in Books that are Mediocre Tags: David D. Levine, Steampunk
Arabella of Mars

Teenage Arabella Ashby was born and raised on the planet Mars–in a steampunk Victorian Era of inter-planetary ship travel. So imagine sea ships that travel between planets, Victorian manners and mores, and a Burroughs-like Mars landscape. David Levine’s ARABELLA OF MARS has been compared as a mashup of Horatio Hornblower, Burroughs’s Mars books, and Jane Austin, a conglomeration of all the things we love best about those three genres with steampunk thrown in.

Unfortunately it’s also dreadfully dull.
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Review

Cosmic Powers

Cosmic Powers

It feels like I’ve been reading a lot of short fiction lately. Well, more than usual anyhow. There’s something about the quick in and quick out that’s attracting me right now for some reason. Perhaps it’s because I’ve run into a dearth of new novels from my favorite authors and I need to find some new sources for brilliant storytelling. It’s kind of a disquieting feeling for me to not have something in my queue that I’m ridiculously excited to read. This anthology definitely fit the bill, and it was science fiction to boot, which is a genre I’m always looking to fill with new favorites. And this time around, I think I might have found one or two. Praise.
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