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review 2018-03-25 00:00
Hidden City
Hidden City - Alan Baxter Hidden City - Alan Baxter Disclaimer: I received a copy of this from the author for review consideration.

Alan Baxter did a great job with Hidden City. This is a book that sufficiently creeped me out enough that I had initially had it listed as horror before I went to Goodreads and saw that it was listed as Urban Fantasy. Hidden City definitely is Urban Fantasy, but sweet baby Cthulhu, Baxter brings the skin-crawl. This was a book that managed to keep me uncomfortable for most of the read. My skin crawled, my scalp prickled, and I was always just on the verge of putting the book down and doing something else to give my overactive imagination time to die down.

The 'unnatural connection' between Hines and Cleveport was an interesting one. The author does a great job of illustrating the relationship between the two without every truly anthropomorphising Cleveport. Yes, it might have emotions and even a limited intelligence, but it's not exactly yearning to turn human and screw someone's brains out. (At least that I could tell.)

I loved that Hidden City doesn't have a drip of happening romance in it. Abby Jones really is just Steven's friend. There's no unrequited lust there. Even though she is pretty much is a walking cliche of the "Hard-nose copy with the back story and the drinking problem", she's a nice contrast to Steven's unassuming personality. This book is all about what's happening on Cleveport's streets, and the desperate fight to save not only the people on them but the city itself.

Hidden City kept me guessing. I truly didn't expect it to end quite the way it did. I was over-the-moon about it ending the way it did. Some authors know how to walk that fine line between giving us the cliche happily ever after, and not quite burning the whole world down to embers. Baxter walked it perfectly. I can't even complain about the final chapter, and that's normally one of my biggest gripes!

Can I just mention the creepy factor again? Because ew. Ewww. Eww. Eww. Okay? Days after reading the book, I still have the imagery in my head. It just..ugh. There are some things we don't need to visualize, and Baxter heaps them on you here. 

Overall, Hidden City was a delightful read that creeped me out and delighted me in that special way that only some books can. If you like your books a-typical, your urban fantasy not filled with love-sick werewolves and/or vampires, and your fungi of the dangerous kind, given Hidden City a try. It won't spore you wrong.
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review 2017-04-02 15:00
Bound Review
Bound (Alex Caine) - Alan Baxter

Bound wasn’t an easy book for me to read. I had some initial reservations about it, but as I do love the occasional dark fantasy book, I decided to give it a shot. Alas, Bound and I never quite bonded. It is the perfect dark/urban fantasy read for readers who love the Chosen one spiel. It is also absolutely absent of even a whisper of a love triangle.The epic quest is, indeed, epic, and the evil guys are very evil. The Chosen one, as one might expect, does have trouble coming to terms with his powers, but eventually begins to master them. Soon he is a force to be reckoned with, but you know everyone’s going to try.

 

Alex Caine is the macho man with the dark past that he doesn’t talk about. His companion is a feisty, sexy female who attaches herself to him for non-epic reasons. Actually, most of the men portrayed in Bound come across as strong/macho characters except for a few bit-player parts. Sex and sexuality play a large role in Bound. If you like your ‘adult interactions’ to be on the violent and/or demeaning side, you’re sure to be pleased. Unfortunately, sexuality is part of the problem with Bound. All the female characters ooze sex appeal and/or seek validation through it. That, combined with Caine’s macho-man persona, give the story a ‘teenage boy fantasy’ air that is not particularly appealing.

 

But, Bound is not awfully written and I don’t want to give the impression that is. While I do think the author has some more skill development to do, it’s obvious the talent is there. Bound is held back by a bit too much introspective weight around its middle, and a cup full of ‘struggle for control and temptation’ where periodic dashes would do better instead. However, mostly this is simply not a book that appealed to me. I prefer, when I dabble in fantasy, to deal in ghosties, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night. My urban fantasy needs wise-cracking anti-heroes that you want to smack even as you can’t help but root for them. Bound is a more traditional fantasy read in an urban/modern setting.

 

Still, I have no doubt that there is a large market out there that would enjoy Bound. The action sequences were fun to read and easy to visualize. Alex Caine is the book version of the on-screen action hero. As the series develops and Alan Baxter has a chance to refine his writing and flesh out his characters, I think there’s a pleasant surprise awaiting. (There are two other books out in the series as of the time of this review, but I obviously have not read them, so I can only guess.)

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review consideration

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/bound-review
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review 2017-03-13 00:00
Bound
Bound - Alan Baxter Bound wasn’t an easy book for me to read. I had some initial reservations about it, but as I do love the occasional dark fantasy book, I decided to give it a shot. Alas, Bound and I never quite bonded. It is the perfect dark/urban fantasy read for readers who love the Chosen one spiel. It is also absolutely absent of even a whisper of a love triangle.The epic quest is, indeed, epic, and the evil guys are very evil. The Chosen one, as one might expect, does have trouble coming to terms with his powers, but eventually begins to master them. Soon he is a force to be reckoned with, but you know everyone’s going to try.
Alex Caine is the macho man with the dark past that he doesn’t talk about. His companion is a feisty, sexy female who attaches herself to him for non-epic reasons. Actually, most of the men portrayed in Bound come across as strong/macho characters except for a few bit-player parts. Sex and sexuality play a large role in Bound. If you like your ‘adult interactions’ to be on the violent and/or demeaning side, you’re sure to be pleased. Unfortunately, sexuality is part of the problem with Bound. All the female characters ooze sex appeal and/or seek validation through it. That, combined with Caine’s macho-man persona, give the story a ‘teenage boy fantasy’ air that is not particularly appealing.
But, Bound is not awfully written and I don’t want to give the impression that is. While I do think the author has some more skill development to do, it’s obvious the talent is there. Bound is held back by a bit too much introspective weight around its middle, and a cup full of ‘struggle for control and temptation’ where periodic dashes would do better instead. However, mostly this is simply not a book that appealed to me. I prefer, when I dabble in fantasy, to deal in ghosties, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night. My urban fantasy needs wise-cracking anti-heroes that you want to smack even as you can’t help but root for them. Bound is a more traditional fantasy read in an urban/modern setting.
Still, I have no doubt that there is a large market out there that would enjoy Bound. The action sequences were fun to read and easy to visualize. Alex Caine is the book version of the on-screen action hero. As the series develops and Alan Baxter has a chance to refine his writing and flesh out his characters, I think there’s a pleasant surprise awaiting. (There are two other books out in the series as of the time of this review, but I obviously have not read them, so I can only guess.)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the author for review consideration.
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