By: Aidan Harte

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

Set in some sort of alternative history Europe, Irenicon is a fantastical mash up of traditional fantasy and elements of steampunk and military histories.  The story sucks you in immediately, and then hauls you along for the ride while Harte weaves a tale that’s engrossing and fulfilling.  Even during the slower seeming spots, there’s a message or bit of history that is needed for a later plot point.  It’s an intricate plot that is, as far as I can tell, bulletproof.

The world that Harte has created here is full and rich with amazing detail of martial styles and the emergence of the worlds engineers.  You can almost feel the world teetering on the precipice between the older hand-to-hand combat styles and the new combat styles devised by the engineers.

Much like many other fantasy epics (this is a 500 page first of a trilogy), Irenicon gets a bit wordy at times.  If you’re a fan of epic fantasy, that probably won’t bother you at all.  All of the language in the book is well written, and I never felt that there were any awkward spots that you had to stumble through to get to the next section.

Unlike a few trilogies I’ve begun before it, Irenicon has a good ending to several plot lines.  Some first novels in trilogies like to leave you with no closure at all.  Not that they have to.  I just like when a single book can stand alone on it’s own without the necessity of reading the rest of the series.  Irenicon does that.  It’s the world you’ll read the rest of the series for, not some hanging plot line.



By: Peter Clines

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

Ex-Purgatory is the fourth novel in the Ex series by Peter Clines.  The first three are Ex-Heroes, Ex-Patriots, and Ex-Communication.

Clines does an interesting thing with this entry into the series.  He takes the characters we’re familiar with from the first three novels and throws them into a world completely different.  A world where the plague never took place, where they’re all just regular old folks without any super powers.  Or, at least, that’s what they believe.  The truth, it seems, is a bit different.

The whole story line is very clever, and Clines pulls it off very well.  I found it fun to read along and find the heroes we know from the series as their “normal” counterparts.  I was even a bit disappointed when I missed a few. 🙁  There’s plenty of references to pop culture too.

As I mentioned in my reviews of the first two novels in the series, the writing isn’t going to win any awards for literary excellence.  It’s not meant to though.  It’s meant to be fun, light, and easy to cruise through.  And it is.  I tore through the pages, as I was dragged into the story, and the characters again.  I love the world that Clines has created, with it’s mix of Zombies and Superheroes.

It was also fun to see the superheroes struggle with what they perceived as the real world as it was invaded by memories and visions of the world they belonged in.  It didn’t get taken too far, and the resolution was believable.  The only part of the book I was even slightly disappointed with was the ending.  Mostly, that was because it felt like the overall resolution was a bit quick.  But, I also got the feeling that there’s another book in the works and so maybe some of that will carry over into the next.

If you’re a fan of Zombies, or Superheroes, I don’t think you can go wrong by reading this series.  Obviously, start with Ex-Heroes, but if you’re already into the series, certainly continue on with Ex-Purgatory.

Swords of Good Men

Swords of Good Men

By: Snorri Kristjansson

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

The back of my ARC of this novel calls it “AN EPIC VIKING SAGA ABOUT THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE OLD GODS AND THE NEW”.  I really wish they wouldn’t have done that.  Maybe they were talking about the entire series?  Even so.  It’s hardly within the realm of the jacket copy folks to decide whether a story is “EPIC” or not.  It unfairly sets the book up for failure if you ask me.  The reader goes into the story expecting some broad story of epic proportions.  I don’t think they got that in this first novel.  It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not, in my eyes, an epic novel either.

The language is good throughout which is sometimes hit or miss with a translation.  The translation team here did a pretty good job. (ooops.  It’s not really a translation. I made the assumption, and I was wrong.) It’s quite obvious that Kristjansson knows a great deal about the viking life and took great care in crafting the viking world that he sets the story in.  The characters are good, but could have done with a bit more development.  Some of them were very quickly glanced over in the beginning and middle of the book, only to become somewhat important cogs to the story towards the end.  I don’t think they needed to be main characters, but they went from being what I would call “filler” characters to being integral characters.

The plot and story is very good.  It draws you into the world, and the lives of the characters easily.  As the series continues, I expect that the “conflict between the old gods and the new” will become more pitched and more evident.  Even here, as we set up for it, there’s plenty of action, and a good job is done of contrasting the old norse gods and the new “white Christ”.

I especially enjoyed the level of detail that Kristjansson put into the world and the main characters.  It never felt forced, and wasn’t filled with long prose filled paragraphs of explanation.

I’m not sure what genre this book really is going to land in.  I suppose you could call it a historical fiction, but I also want to call it a fantasy.   It’s certainly more rooted in the historical fiction category though.  Swords of Good Men will be a book to watch if that’s your genre of choice, as will the series.  The series might live up to the “epic” tag.



By: Peter Stenson

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

What if the Zombie apocalypse came and the only survivors were addicts?  It’s not a premise that you hear often when discussing the zombie genre.  That’s the premise of Fiend, the breakout novel of Peter Stenson.  Written from the perspective of Chase Daniels, a meth addict, who comes out of a bender to find the world he knew forever changed, Fiend is a blazing fast read.

I found this book to be a somewhat borderline book for me.  The style is something that I just didn’t mesh with.  Dialogue is strewn into the prose with no clear identification, leaving the reader to figure out what was said and what was thought.  Maybe that was the purpose, but I struggled with it.  The three main characters were moderately well developed, but needed more.  And most of the secondary characters barely got a name and a few physical characteristics.  And, while it’s dubbed as a zombie novel, if you’re planning on buying it strictly for the zombie genre it falls into, you might want to pass on it.

It is a zombie novel, but the zombies felt like little more than scenery that chased the characters into the different situations they found themselves in.  Instead, the novel is far more a deeply moving story about addiction and how it plays in peoples lives.  From the start, the characters are embroiled in the paranoia, withdrawals, and overall addiction and the real story is in how they deal with the end of their world and adapt to the new world they’re thrust into.

Without giving too much away, it’s a sad story, as most stories about addiction tend to be.  Throughout, I found myself empathizing with the characters, as they struggled with the life and death scenarios they fell into, and how they slipped in and out of their addictive fogs.

Fiend is a dark tale about addiction that happens to feature some zombies.  The characters, while not fully developed, drew me into their lives and the story of their attempts at survival.  Don’t buy the book just because it has zombies in it.  Buy the book because you want to read a story that is, ultimately, almost uncomfortably human.

The Mongoliad: Book Three

The Mongoliad: Book Three (The Foreworld Saga)

By: Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Cooper Moo

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

You might want to read my reviews of Mongoliad: Book One and Mongoliad: Book Two before moving on.  I don’t do spoilers, but it might make more sense to start at the beginning.  In the reviews for both of the first two books, I make mention of how the multiple, seemingly disjointed, plot lines bothered me.  And, in the review of Book Two, I closed by saying how it would be a sad thing to see the whole series fail if those plot lines weren’t brought together in some way.  In book three, the plot lines did finally merge.  While that, in and of itself, doesn’t make the series a success, it will certainly help it.

Much like in Book Two, it took me a while to get back into the story.  Book Three is nearly twice as large as Book Two, so even the 50-100 pages it took me to reacquaint myself with the characters and plot lines left me with plenty of book left to enjoy the story, and the ways that the authors finally tied all the lines together.  It was never dull.  In fact, being the last in this series of the saga, it was filled with plenty of action as the different plot lines were brought to a conclusion.  It becomes obvious, at the end of the book, that, while the series might be over, the saga is not.  We’ll be seeing far more of this world before the authors are done with it.

Throughout the series, the writing has been well done.  Despite having seven different authors contributing to the novels, it’s impossible to tell who wrote what, or notice any differences in style.  I can only imagine that is a hard task for even two authors.  I can’t imagine just how hard it is to do when there are seven authors contributing.  It’s either a testament to the aptitude of their editors, or to the skill of the authors themselves.  Either way, well done!

Overall, the series is wonderfully crafted.  I had a few moments where I got lost, or wasn’t entirely sure who the character was, but once I got my bearings, I fell right back into the story and was easily lost in it.  I’ve long been a fan of medieval fiction (must be all the Arthurian legend I read), and have read a few other stories set in the Mongolian Steppes, and the way the series melds and molds those two worlds together is very nice.

If you’re a fan of epic fiction, or historical fiction (which tends to be epic), you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by not reading this series.  It may soon be remembered as the Wheel of Time of historical fiction.


Tears in Rain

Tears in Rain

By: Rosa Montero

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

When I read the blurb on the back of the cover, and it said “Inspired by the movie Blade Runner”, I knew it was a book that I needed to read.  I’ve always been a fan of Blade Runner, although I haven’t read the book (don’t hate me), and so something inspired by the movie, that was about bionic clones called replicants, sounded like it was off to a good start.

Set in a future world where political and social lines have been broken, redrawn, and then broken and redrawn again, we are led into the story by detective Bruna Husky.  Montero does an excellent job of keeping the pace of the book moving, while filling the world she’s created.  It’s a world, significantly advanced from ours to be unrecognizable, and yet has many parallels.  Corruption, greed, and crime still fill the streets and back offices.  When a replicant shows up at Husky’s door and tries to kill her, it sets Husky off on a case that could affect the course of several nations.

Tears in Rain was originally published in Montero’s native Spain, and her native language, Spanish.  It’s been brought to us by Amazon’s amazoncrossing imprint, and translated.  While I found a few places where the translation didn’t come across as well as it probably should have, the majority of it was very good.  It’s hard to tell how much of the writing, and style is Monteros and how much is in the translation, but it came out very well.

If you’re a fan of Blade Runner, and would like a quick foray into a similar world, give Tears in Rain a try.  It’s a good detective novel on it’s own, and the addition of the Science Fiction elements only makes it better, in my opinion.


Devil’s Gate

Devil’s Gate

By: F.J. Lennon

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

I’ve recently found myself being dragged into paranormal books.  There’s something about them that I really like.  Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m a huge fan of Stephen King, and a fan of science fiction and fantasy novels.  Paranormal books seem to bring the psychological thriller aspects of a good King novel together with the fantastical elements of scifi/fantasy novels.  Devil’s Gate started off a bit rough.  Normally, there’s a big event that drags the plot and story into full gear right away, but there really wasn’t here.  The main character, Kane, is an up and coming rock star who just happens to be a retired ghost hunter.  Well, he thinks he’s retired until his partner shows up with a deal too lucrative to pass up.

Once the novel gets rolling and you get into the plot, it’s a fast moving book.  There’s plenty of action, and plenty of paranormal activity.  Lennon does a really good job of melding some real occult history into the story to give the events some credence.  If there’s one thing that continued to drag the novel down a bit, it was the attitude of Kane.  Is that important?  Well, he is the main character.  But, I have to discount that feeling a bit, since this is a novel in a series of novels about this character.  It isn’t the first novel in the Kane Price series, so it’s terribly likely that I’m missing some of the backstory on Kane.  Perhaps knowing some of that might have given me a different perspective on Kane.

The writing of Devil’s Gate is tight and easy to read, which makes it a pretty quick read.  The characters are believable, and the research that Lennon has put into the setting and occult elements is evident.  If you’re up for a good paranormal book, you should give Devil’s Gate a try.



By : Robert Pobi

As my disclaimer, I did receive an ARC of this book from the publisher for review.  As with any book I receive for review from an author or publisher, if I don’t have anything good to say about it, I just don’t review it.  If I buy the book, all bets are off. 😉

As you will probably guess from the title, Bloodman is a book deeply settled into the crime/horror genre of books.  Not exactly my usual reading fodder, but, as I told the publicist that sent me the book, I cut my adult reading teeth on very near the entire Stephen King library, so it’s not out of my realm of reading.  Just not in the Sci/Fi and Fantasy realms that I’ve been reading more of lately.

The book takes us along with Jake Cole, Special FBI investigator, on a trip home.  To a home he hasn’t been to in 33 years, to take care of a father who has somehow set himself on fire and jumped through a plate glass window.  And, honestly, that’s about as normal as the book gets.  Shortly after arriving at his fathers home, he Cole receives a call from a local sheriff who needs his help with a fresh homicide.  I can’t tell you much more than that without getting spoilerish, but I can say that the story doesn’t leave you hanging.  The pace is quick.  All told, the entire book is over in the matter of a couple of days, but I found myself stopping several times when I realized just how much had happened in just a few short hours of story time.

There are a couple of bits that I found to be “off”.  Things that I thought an investigator of Cole’s obvious talent wouldn’t overlook.  Or at least, I didn’t think so.  Later, most of those things turn out to be plot devices, though.  Perhaps Pobi could have found a way to make them less obvious?  On the other side of the coin, there are several plot devices that he make so obvious that you find yourself waiting to see what part it is that they play in the story.

I won’t comment much on the writing itself, since the book was an ARC and probably had a bit of editing done between the version I had and the version Amazon has.  Pobi’s writing style is quick and concise.  He manages to dump a fair bit of necessary information on the reader without meandering into the long winded expository passages that some authors seem to favor.

Finally, I have to make a small comment on the ending of the book.  I’m going to attempt to be as spoiler free as I can, but just a warning.

If you’re like me, you’ll read the majority of this book and fall right into the plot twist that Pobi has set up for you.  My advice? If you’re even half way interested in the book, do yourself the favor of reading it all the way to the end.  Especially the last 10 pages!  In my mind, it took the book from a ho-hum readable to a good readable.  Looking back at it, I probably saw it coming a bit, but Pobi did a good job of directing the reader away from the same conclusion and then springs it at the very last.

Well done, and worth a read.


The Mongoliad

The Mongoliad: Book One (The Foreworld Saga)

By: Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E.D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review.  As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

The Mongoliad is a “saga about the complex, bloody history of Western martial arts.” Or, at least, that’s what the press release I received with the book says.  My suspicion is that the saga part that includes the history of western martial arts will be a bit clearer as the series continues.  While there are certainly some elements of it in the novel, it is not much more than a few passing details during battles.

A few things bothered me about the book.  First, it’s a collaboration between 7 authors.  I’m not sure exactly how that works, but it seems like that would be a classic case of too many cooks in the kitchen.  The second thing may actually be a result of that, I don’t know.  The method of delivery of the story is somewhat intermittent.  It jumps back and forth from the viewpoint of the Mongol side of things to the Christian side of things and then, within those sides, it jumps from one character to another.  A ways into the book, I suddenly found myself reading a section from the viewpoint of a character that hadn’t had a section before.  Which, if he were a new character, wouldn’t have been so jarring.  But, he had been a character from the beginning of the book.  The next thing is more of a personal pet peeve.  It annoys me when a book that is part of a series doesn’t have an “ending” of it’s own to stand upon.  The ending of this novel isn’t really an ending at all.  None of the plot points are wrapped up, and the reader is simply faced with a blank page and the story pauses until the next novel.

Annoyances and bothers aside, the book is fairly well written.  I think I would have been left wondering had it not been, considering there were 7 authors to contribute tot he writing.  For an ARC, I actually found very few typos, which is a bit of a surprise.  Usually, an ARC is loaded up with typos and lost sentences.  Kudos to the editor that edited the ARC.

I found the characters to be believable, dialogue was well thought out, and very rarely felt out of place with the characters.  The plot lines follow well, and served to drag me right into the novel.  It is highly readable, for a book of nearly 450 pages.  It rarely is dry, and isn’t loaded up with momentum killing monologues and remembrances.  It’s well worth a read, and I’ll be looking forward to the next one in the series.

I’m With Fatty

I’m With Fatty

By: Edward Ugel

I’m With Fatty is the story of Edward Ugel coming to the realization that he’s let himself get out of control.  His relationship with food, and, with life in general, has gotten out of control.  A trip to the doctor and a resulting trip to a sleep clinic results in a CPAP machine, and an epiphany of sorts.  He then decides that he’s going to lose 50 pounds in 50 weeks.  It’s unclear whether he decides to write the book before, or after, he decides that he needs to lose the weight.

Parts of the book read a lot like they are excerpts from a personal diary, while other parts are clearly him recollecting the events.  Which is part of the problem I had with the book.  The personal diary parts are written in first person while the other parts are written in a past tense first person.  There’s no clear delineation between one and the other, and I found myself having to shift mental gears often as the tense changed.  The other thing that I found a bit disappointing in the book is that there isn’t really a clear ending to it.  I’m sure that Ugel underwent some pretty extensive changes, personally, during the 50 weeks, but he doesn’t cover them much.  He tells us all about his failings.  But, at the end of the book, he goes straight from a failing to the end.  Maybe that makes it more real for some, but, for me, it just made it a book about 50 weeks in his life.

If the book was meant to be inspirational, I think it failed.   It is a good book in that Ugel does a great job of covering the reasons behind how he got to where he was, and the struggles that he went through as he “recovered” from his condition.  The tense changes, and the lack of any clear resolution (still a requirement in non-fiction, I think.) make the book an average book, at best.