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review 2017-05-24 12:01
Scratching my head with this one...
Red Knight Falling (Harmony Black Series Book 2) - Craig Schaefer

I really liked Harmony when she was first introduced.

 

I think the strange suit and tie thing didn't really work well, but was willing to overlook it.

 

Now I feel like she completely lost her voice. She morphed into a strange protag between Daniel Faust, some unknown law enforcement and someone totaly non-descript.

 

She was a by-the-book kind of character. After one and a half stories, she starts to cut corners.

 

Hence the Daniel Faust deja vue.

 

The story like could have been done without including the Nazis, but ok.

 

The overall "new" story arc with the "kings" - I am just not interested in it.

 

And the overall theme of the good guys always being outgunned and outsmarted, got old real fast.

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review 2017-05-24 07:41
Werewolves are black
The Black Wolves of Boston - Wen Spencer

I like everything written by Spencer, but this book is not my favorite. In fact, I liked it least of all her novels.

This one starts with Joshua, a regular eighteen-year-old high school senior, suddenly becoming a werewolf. Afraid to hurt his family and bewildered by what's happening to him, Joshua runs away from home and ends up in Boston. While Joshua tries to get his act together and adjust to being a werewolf, he meets a variety of characters: Decker, the vampire, Winnie, the medium, Elise, the angelic warrior who fights evil, and finally, other werewolves, the ones responsible for his transformation.

One of the werewolves, probably the most important to this story, is Seth, a sixteen-year-old werewolf and a Prince of Boston. To keep all of Boston from contamination by evil is his reason for existing, and he’ll do anything to keep Joshua safe. Unfortunately, Seth has troubles of his own, one of them being a minor – he is only sixteen.

All of the above are the good guys. Mostly. There are bad guys too, the Wickers, the villainous cabal of witches and warlocks, and Joshua is central to their plan for world-domination. Joshua himself doesn’t realize it, and nobody but the Wickers know what they plan to do with him, except that it would surely be something horrendous. Most of the story is a mad scramble by the other characters to keep Joshua safe, discover the Wickers’ heinous ploy, and stop it before Boston is plunged into darkness. 

 

Bad stuff

  • Too many POVs. There are 4 POV characters – Joshua, Seth, Decker, and Elise - and the chapters for them alternate, which makes for a jumpy ride for the reader. Joshua and Seth are paramount to this story. Their POVs are needed. The other two just dilute the reader’s attention and distract from the protagonists’ struggles. Even worse: less page space for each of the two heroes result in sketchy characterization for everyone. We don’t have time to bond with any of the characters; they are all too distant. I wasn’t emotionally involved with any of them, and that’s a huge flaw in fiction.  
  • Proofreading. Or rather the lack of it. There are too many extra words or missed words or words out of place. I read a hardcover, but it felt like a bad Kindle file.

 

Good stuff

  • Beautiful, full-page B&W illustrations. Almost every chapter has one, and they enhance the reading experience tremendously. In the past, artists routinely illustrated adult literature, but the practice has fallen off the wagon in the past couple hundred years. Modern publishing mostly relegated illustrations to picture books for children, but I hope the tradition will make a comeback soon, and we’ll see the artistic interpretations of our favorite characters on the pages again, not just in the movies.
  • Humor. Oh, yeah! There are many places in the book where I laughed, and chuckled, and giggled, and shook my head at the absurdity of the familiar, as seen through the sharp eyes of the author.
  • World building. It’s a strong aspect of Spencer’s writing in general. Every stand-alone book and every series of hers introduces a world that is unique and interesting. In this one, there are werewolves and vampires, like in many other paranormal fantasy books, but the writer sees them in a different way. Her werewolves are magical creatures who guard the Earth from evil monsters and prevent breaches in reality that spawn the aforementioned monsters. Her vampire is an original. He doesn’t drink blood. To sustain himself, he drinks life-essence through a kiss. Besides, he is depressed and lonely, and his depression manifests as hoarding.
  • Story. Yes, the story is fascinating, and the tension builds the way it should. Despite my general disappointment with the characters, I still want to know what will happen to them next. If there is a second book in the series, I’ll definitely read it.
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review 2017-05-22 18:38
Awesome addition to this series!
Lochlann (Order of the Black Knights) - ... Lochlann (Order of the Black Knights) - Andrea Speed
Independent reviewer for Divine Magazine, I was gifted my copy of this book. This book?? This book here is a prime example of why I LOVE this series. TOTALLY. FREAKING. AWESOME. Lochlann was recruited to Alpha after the death of his brother and father. Cas infiltrated Alpha to try to get information to bring it down. This is book 6 in The Order of The Black Knights, but you don't NEED to have read the other five. But hear when I say you SHOULD read them. All written by different authors, in their own style and manner, but they all follow a theme, that of a meet, love, kill, rinse and repeat until they meet the one enemy that will be spared. And they are all 4 and 5 star reads. SO, read the damn books already. This is, for me, a far far bloodier read. Quite literally. Being members of Alpha is like a Black Ops team, on steriods. In, kill, and out. And there is a lot of killing here. And it is gloriously written! I loved Inga. SO she was deadly, but totally scary and messed up. She left me with lots of questions about her. Loved the reasons all the other team members were with Alpha too. You don't get much, just enough to be able to connect, but then again, you don't need them all to have a say, because Lochlann and Cas have a lot to say on their own. It takes time for things at Alpha to come to a head, and I wasn't sure which way things were going to go, til right til the very end, and I do so LOVE being kept on my toes. BUT!! What made this for me, what made it stand out from the other five books, is that it is almost CLEAN. Like NO sex at all. Sorry, there is sex, its just not described in any way. Its all left to the reader to fill in the blanks. And I absolutely LOVED it. Go figure! Me, who will say she much prefers her books on the sexier side, hell I'll even read porn, I don't care. BUT know this. For Lochlann and Cas, it's freaking perfect. I think that is Andrea Speed and her way of writing. But brilliant here. OH! And this cover. I don't usually take much notice of a books cover, but this one?? It fits Lochlann, perfectly. Stunning side view. Love it! There is a book 7 listed on Goodreads, but I have insider information that there will be more. I am so loving the way each author presents these books. Its giving me a whole host of new reading matter too! I didn't quite manage to read it in one sitting, but I tried so bloody hard to. Work got in the way! Still, a stunning... 5 stars **same worded review will appear elsewhere**

 

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review 2017-05-22 18:35
Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman
Black Mad Wheel: A Novel - Josh Malerman

Black Mad Wheel is a story which defies categorization and instead focuses on delivering characters that you like and can believe in.

 

The Danes are a band consisting of ex-army men, (even if they were only in the army band), who are asked by the military to investigate a noise in the African desert. I know it sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but I found it be compelling dark fiction.

 

From Philip's point of view, (Philip being the band's keyboard player), the narrative switches between the trip to Africa and the present, in which he is hospitalized with every. single. bone. in his body broken. He wakes up not quite remembering everything that happened to him or what happened to the rest of the band. The very fact that he wakes up at all is a miracle. Or is it?

 

Featuring some of the creepiest scenes I've read in quite some time, the author's talent for dark fiction really shines through. I doubt that I'll ever look at a goat in the same way again and I'll probably freak out if I ever see a red piano in real life. I loved the writing and the descriptive scenes and I even loved reading about the two prior military teams that were sent to investigate this mystery sound. (Not to mention the story of the couple native to that part of the desert-it was truly disturbing.) The only difficulty I had was that the premise wasn't really believable-at least not to me. However, I suspended my disbelief, and once I did, I just went along for the ride and what a ride it was!

 

If you've ever felt a song in your heart, I believe you'll be able to identify with Philip and Ellen, his nurse, because it's the music they discover is a common bond between them. The ties between band members are also incredibly strong, (especially when they've been together as long as The Danes), and those connections are not easily broken. (In this respect, Black Mad Wheel reminds me of Robert McCammon's THE FIVE, easily one of the best fictional books about a band that I've ever read.) The last scene nearly broke my heart and I can't think of a more perfect ending.

 

Music, mystery, desert mines and mad doctors, (oh, didn't I mention that before?): with all that going on how can you resist reading this book? You know you want to! Go ahead: invest yourself in Black Mad Wheel , at the very least you'll be intrigued. At the very best, you will end up making space on your bookshelf at home-the one that houses all your favorite books. Highly recommended!

 

Available everywhere tomorrow, May 23, 2017 here: Black Mad Wheel: A Novel

 

*Thank to Ecco books and to Edeweiss for the e-ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This is it. *

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review 2017-05-22 03:56
Long Black Veil Review
Long Black Veil - Jennifer Finney Boylan

I suppose with the world heading in the direction that it's headed, books like this will become the norm: overly PC books that try their damnedest not to piss anyone off. The problem I see with novels like Long Black Veil is author intrusion. When you move forward with a piece of art (music, film, literature, etc.) with the sole purpose of being progressive and inclusive, you better be damned sure your own hangups do not float to the surface. Because, in a book that struggles to always use the proper pronoun and goes out of its way to discuss gender and religion and race with the utmost respect, any deviation from your course will be painfully obvious.

Yes, the political-correctness within this book was strong but not a bad thing, but it is my opinion, founded solely on evidence written in this book, that Jennifer Finney Boylan has a problem with the morbidly obese, or as she calls them in this book "fat fucks". Normally those two words wouldn't bother me, because I am, and have always been, a fat fuck. But when every race, religion, gender, and so on gets treated fairly and equally and suffers no slurs, I find it odd that "fat fuck" would be left in. Which goes a long way in proving that, even in progressive-minded literature, it is still okay to pick on fat people. Poor goddamn Casey, man. He couldn't catch a break. He was either a fat fuck or a walrus or the morbidly-obese friend, or my favorite, "worthless." While everyone was accepting of the two trans characters, poor fut-fuck Casey bumbled around, bouncing off shit and just being all around too fat to be respected. For fuck's sake, I think the only time Boylan described her character's appearances were if they were fat. If they were otherwise normal, meaning not a fat fuck, we got no description of their appearance whatsoever.

Anyway, enough whiny bullshit about how offended I was or was not. I really wasn't offended at all, but I mention it as much as I do to prove a point; everyone has their own prejudices, even Boylan, who makes a point of using as many acronyms as she can in her bio. I honestly couldn't give a fuck what she thinks about chubby bastards like myself. I'm simply pointing out how it's still completely acceptable to shame the fat character, be the author liberal, conservative, or any other asshole. The one thing we seemingly all agree on is, fat fucks are fair game. Moving on...

The writing in this book is fantastic. I can pick on the author for showing her prejudices all I want, but she truly can write her ass off. I enjoyed every bit of this read, aside from maybe the suspense-killing reveal toward the middle. If the characters hadn't been so terrifically drawn, I probably would have quit reading as soon as the killer was revealed. Literary-minded types will scream, "The murder wasn't the point! The book is about identity and WHINE WHINE BITCH BITCH!" I get that, Internet Rage Machine. I might sound like an illiterate fat fuck, but I do pay attention to theme. What I'm saying is, the writing and character-development was what kept me reading, not the pasted-on murder plot. Calm your moobs, dude.

There will be some people who have a fit over the soft-thriller aspects because, for all appearances, it looks like a literary thriller. There is nothing thrilling or suspenseful about this book. It's a character drama. That being said, the final 50 pages were too much melodrama for even me and I found myself simply wanting the book to end. I feel Boylan's points were made just fine without the silly-ass who-lived-and-who-didn't bullshit and the I-died-twice nonsense. You can stuff all that shit right back up where it came from.

One final note, smarty pants. Frankenstein was the doctor, not the creature. So when you write that there were several Frankensteins walking around the party, I hope you meant people wearing lab coats and god complexes.

In summation: If you're into PC-culture and fight on the SJW side of things, this is probably the book you've been waiting for. It is built on an offend-no-one chassis, but its tires are too fat to move too quickly, so expect some lulls. Expect mucho melodrama at the ass-end that no one asked for, and you should be just fine.

Final Judgment: If Nicole Arbour and Lacy Green wrote a book, this would be the eventual outcome.

Many thanks to Crown Publishing for the review copy, which I received for free in return for a review written by a fat fuck, aka me.

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