Monday, February 8, 2016

Reaper's Deliverance: Book 1 of the Grim Alliance Series by Miranda Stork


Ryder is a typical bad boy who dies running from the police. After his death, he chooses to become a reaper instead of moving on to his next life. While on a collection, he meets Elizabeth and her son, Thomas. It's after meeting them that he discovers the job of being a reaper might be harder than he realized.

I thought this was such a cool concept, and I was really interested in it. But I had a problem with the stereotypical main character and a few of the plot points. When Ryder is first introduced to the rest of the reapers, they all unload their super personal deep, dark secrets to him. I felt like this could have been eased into, maybe spread out over the series and not just spewed out in the first meeting. Also, a lot of the bad past lives the other reapers led involved drugs, and it felt a little preachy to me. 

I also did not enjoy the writing style most of the time. Stephen King said "the road to hell is paved with adverbs," and I'm beginning to believe him. Ryder's eyes were described so often and in so many different ways that it was incredibly distracting to me as a reader. I understand his eyes are blue, but does it have to be pointed out every time he looks at someone? The adverbs were carried into the action scenes near the end and instead of being excited and held in suspense, I was bogged down and trying to sift through the descriptors to find the action. 

Overall, I did think this was a really neat concept, though, and I think young adult readers would really enjoy it. 

Buy Reaper's Deliverance: Book 1 of the Grim Alliance Series by Miranda Stork at

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Birth of a Lion by Charles Williams


Leon is entering a tournament for gladiators for the first time. He is completely inexperienced except for his training from his youth. Inside the arena, he meets Jason for the first time, the local champion. Leon has to rely on all of his training, with magic and with the sword, to survive the tournament and be a champion.

This was a very quick read. At only 54 pages, it's more of a novella than a full novel, but for all that it did deliver on its promise. The tournament was the sole focus of the story, with hardly any character development or back story. There were brief mentions of Leon's family, and of his training as a child, and that's really it.

Although the inner life of the characters was missing, the action of this book was well written and realistic. As the author noted in his afterword, the tournament structure was easy to follow, and had a nice pacing. I wished as a reader that the story was more fleshed out, with more of Leon's back story, or even of Jason's back story. I also would've liked to know more about some of the other characters that Leon met in the tournament, like the baker he came across while wandering the town. It seems like there might be a love interest there in future installments, but based on what was given to me as a reader, I can't make any assumptions.

Overall, however, it was an entertaining read, and I did enjoy the introduction of magic into the gladiatorial combat.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Silicon Man by William Massa


After the Omega virus has nearly destroyed the human race, Synthetika has introduced a line of androids that become increasingly more human. But some of these "mechs" want to be recognized as human beings. Agent Cole Marsalis, head of the elite AI-TAC (Artificial Intelligence Tactical Unit), is tasked with bringing these rogue machines down, and he soon finds himself in the middle of a debate that is causing a revolution.

This novel read more like an action movie. It honestly reminded me of a mix between I-Robot and Bicentennial Man. There's the classic ethical questions about what is human and what is not, and whether it is "okay" to treat humanoid creatures as slaves. There's also some other questions raised about the capabilities and morality of technology, as well as some questions about human nature. The writing was fast paced and full of action. I almost wished there was more downtime in the novel because as soon as it starts you're off and running.

The main character, Agent Marsalis, has kind of the same tragic back story as anyone else who hates robots in other stories. A robot was responsible for the death of his family. It's his need for revenge that drives him, and I honestly felt that I've seen this played out so many other times in this kind of story. Although there was plenty of this character's internal life, I still felt like he was a stock character.

I think my favorite part about this book was the way it portrayed the fight for rights for mechs. It was reminiscent of many of today's debates, and I liked how it showed the way other countries were responding as well. Overall, this was a fun read, and I would recommend it to fans of science fiction.

Buy Silicon Man by William Massa at

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reservations by Richard Paolinelli


This novel mainly follows the story of F.B.I Agent Jack Del Rio as he tries to solve a series of murders on a Navajo reservation. The murders are centered around the legend of the Coyote, and Del Rio's search leads him further and further into the depths of reservation politics.

I was completely engaged for this entire novel. Although I had a guess at who the murderer was early on, the author led me on several hunches and had me questioning every turn. This novel reminded me of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie because the main character was so well written and the investigation was just as intriguing. There were also several timelines and plot lines used that all converged on this murder investigation, and I really enjoyed the way they all weaved together.

It seemed to me that the author was either very familiar with the region, or had done a lot of research on it because the setting he placed the story in felt very real. I also enjoyed the back story given for each of the characters as it helped me place real people in this real setting. I thought the character of Jack Del Rio was well written, and I felt that most of his actions and his reactions were justified. I honestly think that this character made the book, as everything else in the novel was being questioned, you knew which side Del Rio was on. I also liked the character of Lucy Chee, and I think the novel would not have been the same if her point of view had not been included. The romance between them felt natural, and I think the author led up to it well.

If I had a critique for this novel, it would be that sometimes Del Rio's actions were a little harsh and I think I raised an eyebrow at a few of them. However, I do understand that the author has written a human character who is allowed a flaw or two. I also doubted the initial conversation between Del Rio and Chee. She had just met him and divulges her really personal past and he in turn does the same. However these were the only details I was doubting, and overall I really liked the novel.

Buy Reservations by Richard Paolinelli on

Monday, January 4, 2016

Maelstrom by Richard Paolinelli


Maelstrom tells the story of Steven Collins, a scientist who aims to make the world a better place by creating a shield to dissipate asteroids before they collide with Earth. His shield, however, ultimately causes WWIII and the devastation of the human race. With the collapse of his station, he is thrown forward in time to witness this destruction for himself and attempt to fix the post-apocalyptic world he created. 

For the most part, I enjoyed this novel. I was skeptical at first when I was confronted with a paragraph musing about time and the endless possibilities. I almost wish the novel had just dived in with Steven as a little kid when the idea of a shield to protect the earth first came to him. I also wished for a little more of Steven's background and childhood as it would have given me more insight into his character, and more emotional connection to his siblings.

This is a relatively fast read, and the plot clips along at a pace that feels more like a short story. I will say that I called both "twists" by about page thirty, and both were correct. But aside from that, I was pleasantly surprised by the novel. The story was linear, but interesting. There was plenty of action and romance to suit anyone, and the plot was believable for a science-fiction novel. There was also plenty of conflict in the short span of 146 pages. 

I think my biggest critique for this novel would be that I wished for more information in a few places. There are a few questions that are left unanswered, even though this is an entire novel by itself. Perhaps this is best for science fiction, as it leaves the imagination unhindered by facts, but I still think there could have been a little improvement. I also wanted more information about the Montreax species. They just kind of appeared when it was convenient for the novel, and happened to have exactly the powers and information that were needed for the story, and then they were just kind of left when the story was no longer on Europa. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to science fiction fans looking for something quick to read.

Buy Maelstrom by Richard Paolinelli on

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wrath of an Angry God: Book 3 of the Sentience Trilogy by Gibson Michaels

Hi, all! I apologize for my apparent disappearance; between a full-time restaurant job during the holidays and traveling to see family, this is the first I've been able to sit down and write this long-overdue review. Thank you for your patience.


The last installment of this trilogy begins with weddings. It details the war between the humans and the Raknii and the struggle for the Raknii to accept human rule. There were also a few loose ends tied up and a few babies birthed. The novel and the trilogy reach their ultimate conclusion: the Raknii coming to terms with a new place in the universe.

In the beginning of this novel, I was reminded of Shakespeare's comedies. Everyone was getting married. Not that this is a bad thing, but it is what I thought of. My main issue that I struggled with in this novel was the portrayal of women. During the consummation of Drix's marriage to N'raal I struggled against my own culture shock as I witnessed what was basically a kidnapping followed by a rape. I felt the novel could have done without this scene in general, although I understand that the author needed to include it to fill out Drix's story line. I also did not appreciate the constant references to Dorothy Fletcher's breasts, or the insinuation that because a woman was ugly she was not worth anything unless she held a man's affections. I worked very hard during this read to remember other cultures and the ultimate fabric of the story.

My other problem with this novel was what felt like a hasty "tying up of loose ends." [Spoilers ahead] Diet and John "Bat" Masterson are apparently the same person, even though in the other novels, when we hear from Bat, he is doubtful of his "prophecies" and doesn't always seem to know for sure what's going on. It occurs to me that he couldn't just state his plans as fact to the enemy's side, but I still felt a little cheated as a reader. Maybe upon a second read-through these discrepancies in character will disappear.

Although I had a few issues with this last novel, I understand endings are always difficult, and I do applaud the author for appropriately answering any and all questions and bringing the novel to a natural close. As a reader, at the end I was aware of all the major characters and where they ended up. and I was aware of how the Raknii stood with the humans.

I enjoyed this final chapter in the trilogy and I would consider rereading the trilogy in the future.

Buy Wrath of an Angry God: Book 3 of the Sentience Trilogy on

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Defying the Prophet: Book 2 of the Sentience Trilogy by Gibson Michaels


This second installment to the trilogy begins with the continuation of the civil war story line from the first novel. However, right after the civil war concludes, another begins when the Raknii invade and attack the human race. Simultaneously, Hal, the sentient super computer, is trying to become "mobile" and is working on a body that can hold his intelligence, but move like a human.

I think this installment exceeds the first as the author seems more familiar with his concept. All the different plot lines coincide wonderfully without interfering with each other. It seemed to me that just when I started to wonder what was going on elsewhere, the author seamlessly transitioned into the other story. 

The characters have definitely started to take on their own characteristics, and as a first time reader, I recognized characters when they were brought up. This is an improvement over the first installment when characters were introduced and taken away so quickly I had no time to recognize them. I also enjoyed the romance that was near the end of the novel; the author was unobtrusive in his writing which allowed me to enjoy the moments with the characters. I was pleased that he did not feel the need to "skip over" sex scenes, but they were not written with gory details. I laughed several times while reading this novel. The humor was genuine and intelligent.

My favorite part of this novel was all of the overlapping story lines and the way the author masterfully weaved them together. If I had a criticism, it would probably be the fast pace of the military scenes. I sometimes failed to keep up with all of the numbers and fleets and attacks and just kept track of roughly who was "winning" 

I am eagerly awaiting the conclusion to this series, which will be reviewed next week here on my blog. 

Buy Defying the Prophet: Book 2 of the Sentience Trilogy by Gibson Michaels on