Angel’s Wings

Angel’s Wings

I received a free copy of this book.

(Spoilers within)

It’s been a few days since I finished reading the book, so hopefully I remember everything.

One day a young boy turns up on the steps of a church, murdered brutally. Inspector Arthur Harbreak has to solve the crime. But, he’s really a small-town person who doesn’t feel he’s even actually qualified for the job. He asks for help from a longtime friend of his, Doctor Thurston, and they investigate the case together.

In the beginning I wasn’t taken in by the writing style. Not that there were tons of errors or anything was particularly wrong. Something about the style just didn’t draw me in. At first, anyway. That faded the longer I read and I got more into it. I think, perhaps, it was because there was a lot of telling for the set-up instead of showing.

The story revolves around the two questioning the residents of the little village and trying to find evidence in a time before forensics were terribly reliable.

In general, there weren’t too many errors. I spotted some, but not enough to be distracting.

Thurston swallowed but keep calm.

…Anthony’s soul was more corrupt then he’d thought.

…creeping stealthy forward…

As if in in anger of her situation…

I usually had a pretty good idea of what was happening, too. I think the one point that confused me was when Harbreak and Thurston were having a meal out together. In the narration it specifically says that Harbreak, who often drinks, wanted to keep his head clear. So I thought he wasn’t drinking or wasn’t drinking as much as he normally would. In the end, though, he was drunk a bit later, and I didn’t really get much of an indication that he was drinking a ton, particularly compared to usual. I got the opposite indication. I think that part could be cleared up a bit more to show that, despite his intentions, he’s continuously drinking more.

Part of it was that just because he was having a drink doesn’t mean he’s getting drunk, especially if he’s used to drinking and has a tolerance for it.

I liked Harbreak and Thurston together. To be honest, I hoped they would end up together. I didn’t mind Anthony, but the relationship between him and Harbreak was mostly in the past, so we get told about it more than we see it.

It was a pretty good read. I’d say that if you find the premise interesting then go for it. I give it a 8/10.

The Lion of Rivers (The River Chronicles Book 1)

The Lion of Rivers (The River Chronicles Book 1)

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

The story starts with Evan, an abused boy who is studying to be a blacksmith in a rural country. A knight passing through sees that he’s being mistreated and offers to take him with him. Evan decides to go, and he and Falcon go traveling together. After that many storylines happen. Sometimes the story follows Evan while he’s trying to survive in the big city. Sometimes it’s following Falcon as he’s sent on another mission. Sometimes it’s following Bailey, who watches over Evan after Evan leaves, and once in a while a different character takes over.

Overall, I liked this story. I like Evan’s evolution as a character. He starts lowly, and by the end he has good reason to have changed and be angry. I like that some characters introduced early on end up coming back. There were some good twists in the story that I liked.

One thing I did notice is that there were errors. What it felt like to me was an author who couldn’t get someone to give it a second lookover, so some noticable errors slipped through.

Even knew there would be no more work today,

Stephen turned to guide and looked down on him,

Memory of where he was, how he got there was slow to return.

Olin’s words haunted him as set out.

He tried to sit up but the ground titled underneath him…

“I was glad when you choose me last night,” she said.

They’re the type of errors that aren’t likely to be caught with a spell checker.

There were both good and bad points with the romances. Evan is learning to become, essentially, an assassin, and he’s given a gold coin to ‘enjoy himself’ out on the town. He goes to a brothel that’s recommended (though he had no idea it was a brothel) and ends up sleeping with one of the girls there. They’re talking about running away together before he even knows her name.

Then, he meets up with her one more time quite a while later. At that point his master decides a woman can get in the way of his training. At first, I thought he would kill her, but I was pleasantly surprised that he decided to go a different route. At this point I like some of the things that happen. He bribes and threatens her, giving her money to leave and also implying that bad things will happen to her if she doesn’t She accepts the bribe and leaves. When Evan finds out that she’s gone, he says:

“I was quite relieved, actually.”

I really, really liked this. For me, that made the relationship work much better. I could believe that he got caught up in the moment and made a stupid promise that he regretted, with a girl he knows nothing about. I also like that she went ahead and left, which seemed like the smart thing for her to do. There is a hint of her seemingly wondering how much she would regret leaving Evan behind, but thankfully it doesn’t dwell on this. She’s a prostitute, and not a new one. She’s seen Evan all of twice, and it’s doubtful that he’s the first person who has made promises to her. There’s no reason someone who has experienced the world as she has such be greatly lamenting leaving behind some guy who paid to sleep with her once.

If anything, the promises and such that she had him made to her could very well be her purposely manipulating him in the hopes of leaving that life. It’s much more suitable than having a “true love” story. I didn’t like how it started because of how quickly they were talking about running away together and I was expecting the book to try and convince me that they’re super in love, so I was pleasantly surprised when he was relieved that she left and she was able to be bribed to leave. It was a good depiction of what that situation would probably be like.

On the other hand, in part of Falcon’s story, he meets up again with a knight they met early on named Aaron. While they’re escaping from a prison together and wandering in the woods, they meet a foreigner from the north named Sulla. Aaron seems interested in her fast, and while I can’t say she necessarily returns his feelings immediately, they do start to present themselves soon. That’s all right, but it seemed like their relationship developed ‘off-screen’. It’s mentioned that she starts to like his horse, and they develop some of their bond over that, but we don’t really see it.

When they arrive at her home and there’s a conflict about the fact that she’s meant to marry someone else, and she shouldn’t have a relationship with Aaron (which isn’t the only part of the conflict. There’s also the fact that people in certain jobs dedicate their lives to that job and don’t take a spouse). It didn’t strike me very hard, because while they had been traveling together for a while and the story implies that they’ve grown closer, I didn’t really see it.

I will say that in some of the scenes shown of Aaron and the late Stephen, I started to think they were a couple. I don’t think they were, and I’m saddened by that.

Were they bad characters? No. I’d say that I like the characters in this book. There were some parts that I don’t think got developed quite enough, and others that might have lingered too long, but as a whole I thought it was an enjoyable read that did go somewhere. The book is the beginning of a series, so not everything is resolved at the end, but it does have a satisfying conclusion for this novel that felt like it was earned. The author went in some directions that I didn’t expect and found refreshing.

If you’re into epic fantasies, go ahead and give it a try. I give it a good 8/10.

The Last Night on Earth

The Last Night on Earth

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

This is very short, only about 17 pages. It takes place during a future war, switching its point of view between a few citizens. David, the husband, Kara, the wife, and Simon, an actor. We’re given hints about what their lives are like in this dreary future where over a billion have been killed.

David and Kara’s marriage isn’t going well. He wakes up to find she’s gone, and the first thing he does is check for any messages reporting her death. As it turns out, she’s elsewhere after having had an affair. She then steals the other man’s car to try and bring some thrill in her life. Simon is the man she slept with, who essentially has a job of reporting the dead in a mandatory play.

David is an angry, abusive person. While Kara is cheating and stole the car, she has other problems, too. When someone needs medical attention at the play, she simply says she “isn’t that kind of doctor” when David starts telling her to go help. He’s an angry man, but he’s also frustrated that Kara isn’t trying to save someone when she can. Kara, on the other hand, isn’t sure what the point is in bothering when a billion people can be wiped away in a single nuke anyway. Simon has a little less development going for him, mostly having lost the thrill of being able to sleep with a lot of women.

I’d agree with other reviewers I saw in that this is too short. The writing is good. The issues are there, and even though none of the characters can be described as great people you can kind of relate to their situations and how depressing it’s gotten. You can’t get overly attached to them in the short amount of time, though. It’s a very brief glimpse into their lives.

As an author, it’s probably better to hear that someone “wants more” than “wants less”.

I only noticed two errors while reading, and that’s actually the only notes I took for this book when reading it.

…only fire and chaos and says “I don’t know…

But the show must go on.The show must go on.

I’m actually not certain about the second one. The second line in it is italicized, so it looks like it’s missing a space between sentences but maybe it actually is there.

Anyway, if you’re interested then take a look. It’s well-written and it wouldn’t take very long to read, but I think its short length is a little detrimental to its impact in this case.

I give it a solid 8/10.

Letters to Nan

Letters to Nan

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

This is going to be one that is difficult to say much about. The story is fairly simple. It’s about James and his relationship with his Nan. He’s about to pursue his dream job, which means leaving to go to another country, when they find out that she has Alzheimer’s. He leaves for several years and has to deal with the fact that when he comes home she probably won’t remember him anymore.

I would say it’s written well and the characters are well fleshed out (although other characters are mentioned, for the most part James and his Nan are the only characters who appear a significant amount in it). That’s why it’s hard to say a lot. I neither have whole lot to talk about (the overall story is fairly simple) nor much bad to say about it.

I’ll admit I didn’t get very invested in the story but I don’t think it’s because anything was wrong with it. The characters have specific interests that I don’t share and they discuss them a lot. I liked them and I thought it was good, but it didn’t grab me emotionally. This isn’t even something I would suggest changing because the characters are who they are, it just didn’t get me personally attached. Someone else will probably relate to them more.

My main criticism would be that it starts out in past tense and switched to present. I usually find present tense to be jarring, but especially when there’s a switch. I would have liked it more if it had just stayed in the past tense.

I can definitely see how another person might get a lot more out of this than I did, so if you’re interested in a sad story about Alzheimer’s, I’d recommend it. I give it a 8/10, it’s pretty solid.

Diary of a Gay Teenage Zombie

Diary of a Gay Teenage Zombie

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

I should start this off by saying it wasn’t exactly the type of book I was interested in reading. I do like material that features gay men in particular, but I usually look more for stories where the character happens to be gay, rather than the story revolving around the character being gay. I’m also not into the zombie craze. I wouldn’t say I went into this book with something against it, but it wasn’t something that quite lined up with what catches my attention.

Since it wasn’t a subject I was attracted to, the beginning didn’t really catch me right away. Jay was very much a spoiled teenager, so he started off not being the most pleasant person to be around. Not that he was particularly horrible, but it had the sort of stuff where he complains that he didn’t get a car for his birthday as he plays on his new X-box. That sort of attitude that can be insufferable pretty quickly.

Luckily it didn’t become the main subject, but there was also a mention of him thinking he’d be the only virgin left at school. He’s 16. It reminded me of 90’s films like “Hocus Pocus” where there is a strange fixation on teenagers not having had sex yet. But, I’m glad this subject was abandoned early.

It took a while with some frustration for it to get started. Mostly entries about Jay hiding that he’s a zombie and sometimes saying he should tell someone, but he doesn’t. I’d say at around the 50% mark it gets better. As he runs into more and more problems with being a zombie, he has to make many decisions about if it’s safe for him to be around people, if he should bite his boyfriend, if he should attack an abusive man, among other things. In the later part his thoughts felt less shallow and he took greater consideration in what people around him were going through.

The character’s were fine. I was glad that CC, Jay’s ‘goth’ friend, didn’t follow stereotypes and acted like a pretty typical teenager, with smiles and jokes. Jay grows from the beginning to the end, and his parents felt like real people. When he complained about his mother, I felt more like they were “teenage complaints” than that his mother was a bad person. His mother is also shown taking in an abused woman and protecting her.

I’d say the only other character we see a lot from is Archer. Because Jay idolized him, it might have made it more difficult to put a finger on exactly what type of person he was, other than he liked Jay, too.

There were some errors in it. A little much for such a short book, I think.

…I was sure that already been drinking.

There was no way that Jay would be seen with me… (The character narrating is Jay)

…he didn’t show up f for work…

There are a few times it says “patents” instead of “parents”, as well as many times that there’s no period or comma when a character is speaking, like:

“Mom didn’t even ask me” I reminded him.

Some of the symbolism is a bit too hammered in, but it isn’t a bad read. If the summary for the story interests you, you’ll likely enjoy it. I didn’t have the excitement for it, but I found it to be an overall enjoyable story.

I give it a 7/10.

Read more reviews here.

The Lioness of Kell

Lioness of Kell

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

My first impression of this book after reading the first few chapters was that it’s very busy. I didn’t particularly have a problem with the stories or characters, it’s just that things were flashing by so fast I didn’t have time to get absorbed into the story. For example, when Maud arrives in Port Brisa, she must have had half a dozen confrontations, all squished into one chapter. Every time she takes a step random people are popping out and attacking. It feels like an on rail shooter rather than a character in a new city.

I think it would have been better and more meaningful to have fewer confrontations, but flesh them out more. And have characters react more realistically to the fact that, though she is a woman, she’s quite a bit larger than them and obviously well muscled.

There was also so much use of the “ess” endings that it was distracting. On page one, “warrioress”, “lioness”, “tigress”… There’s six on the very first page, which isn’t including anything else that ended with ‘ess’ like “huffiness” or “breathless”. I especially didn’t think “warrioress” was necessary. It sounds very awkward and was overdoing it. This happens throughout the story with things like “archeresses”. We already know they’re a clan of female-only warriors, so it doesn’t need to be reiterated with every word they use to describe themselves.

There are many characters, and while I got to know the main ones relatively well I did get lost with side characters. Maud is a warrior who comes from a clan of all-female-only warriors. She’s large and enhanced using magic to make her even larger. She’s only 19, but she has been training her entire life. She’s sent on a training mission outside of her home with a veteran leading her.

As it turns out, Basil, the son of one of the warlocks, has a disfigurement that could have him thrown out of the warlockry and have his magic removed, in something akin to receiving a lobotomy. His father has summoned the two warriors in order to find a double for his son, in a desperate attempt to save him. His son is sheltered and finicky, but is rightfully angered that his brain will be cut up, so he runs away while Maud and her superior are still looking for his double.

For a while the stories are split, with Maud finding Basil’s body double, Jurgis, on her own and Basil fleeing with a pirate friend of his, only to end up captured by some more loathsome pirates. Maud is forced to take control of the mission when the veteran she was with passes away, and she and Jurgis end up taking another path entirely than what was originally ordered. Eventually they all meet up and have a series of adventures, uncovering secrets and finding out what truly happened to cause a war 100 years before.

Probably around 60% into the book, another two main characters are introduced: Wargall and Wemawee, both Kells. For me, the introduction of Wargall brought a lot of problems in the book. Throughout the book male Kells are constantly described as weak. Other characters compare it to the way female characters are treated elsewhere. However, when we finally do meet Wargall, a male Kell, as it turns out they’re not weak at all and they’re just not quite as strong as the women (who are enhanced by magic). It hardly feels like there’s any real challenges towards Wargall becoming a warrior. He’s not actually weak, he almost immediately picks up a sword and is able to kill a bunch of people, he doesn’t receive much resistence save from a character who had been set up as troublesome and abusive…

It made the entire comparison with how female characters were treated fall apart, as well as made almost the entire setup about how weak male Kells are feel like lip service. I was expecting male Kells to be small and soft like Basil or Jurgis were, especially considering how Maud had been attracted to them, but it ended up being a cop out.

There’s a part where he’s introduced where they discover a trap they have to disarm, and the woman who drags Wargall around, Wemawee, forces him to help disarm it because he’s expendable. After it’s disarmed, Jurgis tells Wemawee that Wargall was braver than her because he helped with the trap. I would have liked to see more of that, but after that it just turns into telling the big strong guy that he is a big strong guy. There were no real obstacles. I would have rather they ran into one of the “whores” they mention from Jurgis’ place and she became a warrior, because a character like that would have had to face much more discrimination and challenges. But, more than that, I would have liked for the male Kells to be weak as they were described, not “they’re slightly smaller than us and didn’t get enhanced with magic”.

Even when Wargall first fought I didn’t feel the struggle. He’s temporarily frightened by a large battle mage who is sending snakes at him, but then he just stabs him and it’s fine. Things like this could have been changed to make it feel a lot harder for him than it does. Like, when he runs into the mage, he could have trembling with fear and jabbed the sword forward while trying to step back from the snakes. He could have even fallen over while trying to back away. He still would have killed the battle mage, but in that scenario it would actually seem like it was something new and frightening for him.

It does serve a second unfortunate purpose as well. If the whole book has been spent telling us how weak Kell males are, and the first Kell male we bump into can pick up a sword and, completely untrained, take out several enemy soldiers and one of their giant battle mages, then how intimidating is this enemy? Send some children after them, that ought to take care of it. For the other characters their skills coincided with the lives they led.

The sex between Wemawee and Wargall bothered me, too. Not because I think that writers shouldn’t write about rape, but because of the way it seemed to brush aside the fact that it was rape. It is clearly stated that she would use him, and he didn’t want to, but then later that’s softened up with him saying he didn’t mind sex with her and that he’d have gladly done it if she just asked. It’s like it sets him up as someone who has been raped for years, and then backs off from that and tries to make it less horrible.

I liked Weamwee’s character growth for the most part, save for the fact that I didn’t feel like the sexual abuse was taken seriously enough.

As for the rest, there was still a lot happening quickly, but I did enjoy the story. I liked Maud’s and Basil’s growth. Maud starts out as a rookie, and her progression into someone who leads felt natural. She doesn’t go straight into knowing how to do everything. At times she looks back at her choices and realizes she could have done things better – she neither ignores the faults nor obsesses over them, but learns from them and moves on.

Basil himself goes from a shut-in with an ego to an adventurer with an ego. Though the relationships seemed to progress very quickly, I did like the way he was introduced to Yarwan. He’s attracted, and he spends a long time discussing how they figure out their location on a ship using measuring tools. It was good to focus less on the initial attraction – though attraction is certainly there – and have them actually talk. Not only that, but in a way that would interest both, since it’s something Yarwan loves and Basil is interested in learning. It worked.

I didn’t think Maud and Jurgis’ beginning worked out as well as theirs, with the way Jurgis got huffy and angry the second she refused to sleep with him.

I did like the main characters, and I felt like they were different from each other.

There were some pretty good parts. I particularly liked one where a rival merchant has trashed the shop of Yarwan’s mother, and the guards are demanding answers since the rival is the son of a noble. In response each character starts announcing their titles, with Yarwan now a captain, Darquine (his friend) the daughter of another prosperous merchant, Basil the Spellwarden, and Maud the ‘lioness of the Kell Queen’. It finally gets around to Jurgis, who had lived his life in the streets:

Jurgis opened his mouth, but then he shook his head. “I’ll not boast to the law of my status.’

I like the way they call back to Yarwan and Basil’s meeting later, and measure the direction an enemy flew away from two different points to determine where he was hiding.

Although I already said what I disliked about Wemawee’s part of the story, I like that when she was captured she was obstinate, even tossing and turning in her cage purposely to create noise and prevent the guards from being able to sleep.

I also liked that this was a complete story. Everything was wrapped up at the end, and while it could be continued if the author wanted, I wouldn’t feel like anything was missing if it was left as is.

There were a few errors, but not enough that I found it particularly distracting.

If the book sounds interesting to you, I would say go for it and realize a lot of stuff is going to happen almost immediately. If you can get through the opening and understand that a multitude of side characters will flutter in and out, you will probably enjoy it. The characters are overall enjoyable to be around, and I liked some of the revelations in the plot. Although it’s called the “Lioness of Kell”, there are several characters who play large roles. I would say I started out worrying that it was going to be a very long read, and ended up enjoying it in the end.

I give it a 8/10.

Brave New Girls: Tales of Girls and Gadgets

Brave New Girls: Tales of Girls and Gadgets

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

“The Outpost” wasn’t bad but it took me a while to get into it, and in the end I was left with mostly questions. Maybe because it reads more like the first chapter to a book than a short story (I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there is a book). It’s the setup of a story rather than a complete story in and of itself. I think it overdid it with the techno-babble, too. But, if there was more to the story, I would have been interested in continuing to read. Instead I’m mostly left with questions like, “How did her dads know the pilot?”

“Blink” was about a girl who inherited a time travel machine and some of her misadventures trying to stop an embarrassing moment from happening to her. This one suffered a bit from being short, too. It was okay, but different things weren’t explained well. I’m confused if, when she time travels back a day, the other versions of herself who traveled back are also still there. Some parts seem to imply “no”, and other parts seem to imply “yes”.
I thought they did, but then one of her past selves bumped into a girl, and when she went back again that didn’t happen anymore. Also, because of the short length, the time travel aspect starts confusing the main character long before it confused me. About the second time she’s using it she starts getting overwhelmed with how many realities she has to remember, while I didn’t find it difficult at all to remember what she’d done so far.
It was an all right story.

“Courage Is” I really liked. It’s set up on a massive space ship type scenario, with billions of people flying to some destination. There’s an advanced AI, Rostom, that takes care of everything, and when people turn 16 they’re hooked up to the AI and become like a hivemind. The main character, Gracie, is 15 and her friends have turned 16, so she’s feeling alone.
But, she happens to see something odd in a building, and decides to investigate. In this case investigating means hooking up to the network. There, she meets up with another girl she knows, Georgie, who is comatose in real life but able to interact with others by having her brain hooked up to the network. As they investigate together a real threat seems to appear and goes after Georgie, who can only defend herself by using the network. She lives out of bounds of the rest of society, so Rostom won’t protect her, and it’s up to Gracie to find and save her.
I really liked this one. It’s good that it focused on a few things – the main characters, Gracie and Georgie, and Rostom as an everpresent side character who can be anywhere at anytime. It gave the short story enough focus. In the end, when Gracie gets to Georgie, I think it had a wonderful setup for more story. Georgie and Gracie had a good reason to have a close relationship, and it could be very interesting for the pair to work as a ream, with Georgie being nothing but a hologram and able to control the ship with her mind and Gracie able to take care of other things. I thought it integrated what it would be like to be comatose in the future in an interesting way, and because the story spends the majority of the time with just them it gives the reader a chance to get attached.

“Of Cat’s Whiskers and Klutzes” confused the heck out of me. The main characters are in some sort of universe that exists based on a story that one of them wrote, but they’re from completely different time periods. I don’t know why this universe exists because of a story. The main character is building a transistor. I’m also not sure why. Then one of the storybook characters who helps them out gets attacked. They go to try and help her, but it turns out the warning message they tried to send earlier got there in time and she’s fine. And that’s about it. I almost don’t know how to describe this story. A million things are thrown at the reader and none seems to really go anywhere, nor does much of anything happen.

“Robin Hacker” was probably the longest in the book, being several chapters long. There were little issues. The main character was trying to hide for example, and complained about a ship she was trying to buy looking like a typical merchant ship. If you want to hide, wouldn’t it be good to blend in? I didn’t see why that would be a complaint. Overall, though, it was fine. It probably could have been condensed into a shorter story. The concept was simple enough: a genius girl discovers they’re being deceived and used in order to do bad things. She abandons school and family, and runs away to fight against them. The entire story covers her running away, and might go into more detail than necessary. It never quite grabbed me. Maybe it had too many characters in a short time to feel connected to them, but there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it.

“Panic” is basically characters with psionic powers in training trying to fight off an infiltration of other characters with psionic powers. It sets up a tense situation and has some interesting worldbuilding. I wish I got to know more about Kion.

“Graveyard Shift” started me off on the wrong foot with the main character. She showed up late to work, then insulted her boss/coworker in her mind, and was jerk about it. It didn’t get me rooting for her. The story itself is fine with her uncovering a conspiracy, getting in trouble and getting out. It had an unearned ending, though, with her suddenly being promoted to assistant manager for no reason. The rest of the ending was fine, but that part stuck out to me, I even wrote a note that simply said, “Why?”

“A Little Bit Truer” is pretty solid. It focuses on a mother and daughter. The daughter was born with health problems and was blind, so her mother had to leave her behind to pursue her career traveling the universe. She finally comes back now that Zay is older and has been given her eyesight back with an operation, but she and Zay are disconnected and while her mother wants to have her live the high life with her, Zay is more interested in pursuing her own career as a scientist. She becomes even more suspicious when she reads that their re-uniting will be good for her mother’s ratings. It’s focused, so it works out pretty well.

“Lyra” went in a way I wasn’t expecting when I started it. It’s very Cinderella-like, with the main girl being abused by her family and her only friend being the house’s AI. But they replace the AI with a new one, named “Lyra”, who claims to have been made by her long-missing mother in order to protect her.
But it turns out to be over-enthusiastic in how it protects her. At one point she’s riding in a car with a boy, who has been nice to her, and Lyra takes over the car, throws her out and crashes it. Maybe something was just wrong with the program, but I didn’t get how something like that was protecting her when he had only ever tried to help her, and throwing her out of the car could seriously injure or kill her.
I thought it was too over the top with the abuse she received. It leaves things unexplained, like how Jeremy is a threat, but maybe it just considers everyone a threat. I think it also went too fast from the AI arriving and Elizabeth distrusting it. She immediately doesn’t like it, for no particular reason. It probably would have been better if she trusted it at first and then realized something was wrong.
It was okay, but there was just too much abuse from almost every character for me.

“Flight of the Zephyr” was another okay story. By this time I was a bit tired of the desolate future stories, especially with ones where an evil government kills people for no reason and somehow no one can oppose them. The main character discovers that the government is having people work with material that they know poisons them, and she attempts to expose them. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong.
The only thing I noticed was a part where she was “walking gingerly on the heeled shoes she’d forgotten how to wear”, which didn’t seem to fit the setting. In this world they were issued clothes, and she was essentially issued miner’s clothes her entire life. When did she ever wear heels before?
The main issue for me was that I felt like I’d seen this scenario a million times before and nothing new was done with it.

I didn’t like “The Data Tourist”. It was hard to read because it was boring. When it described what was happening it was mostly tech-babble and a bland list of things the main character was doing. Other times it was just awkwardly telling stuff that happened. Plus the present tense was awkward. I usually dislike present tense. It tends to take me out of the story immediately and then I have to overcome that to get into the story, and in this case I was never able to get to that point.

“Robot Repair Girl” was a nice, complete story. I liked the setup of robots wanting to escape and her helping them. I’m not wild about girls who are into clothes constantly being against tech girls, but otherwise I didn’t have any issues.

“The Hive” was pretty good. It’s a solid setup and gets through the main point of the story. Bees are being kept in short supply by the government in order to create a false epidemic and control through fear. The main character teams up with another woman, and brings in the son of one of the government workers.

“Fledgling” was about a hot-headed girl who is picked out by a military man to join a program that uses advanced technology. It reminds me of a sentai show, where she and others are given power suits to fight evil dictators or something. Who they’re fighting isn’t a big deal. The story revolves more around their group and the fact that they think they’re being drugged and used by the government, and trying to escape that. Each character had a personality in a short span of time. It was pretty enjoyable.

“The Mad Scientist’s Daughter” genuinely felt like a short story rather than the first chapter of a book. I liked the lizard, Cika. Viala is the daughter of a man who supposedly went crazy and killed a lot of people with his inventions, and now she’s dealing with the consequences of his actions and hide the fact that she’s a scientist, lest people believe she’s just like her father. It was a good story.

“Helen of Mars” had a boring start but became a decent story with some good action. The main character’s father invested in an android in order to mine on Mars, but his android was destroyed and his caches stolen by mercenaries. In a fit he throws away his remote, but his daughter retrieves it in order to repair it and see if she can reboot the android. With the action happening so far away, it lowered the stakes and made it harder to get invested because there was no danger to her. In the end she decides to use the droid to fight off mercenary droids and help others, though the android has been damaged and isn’t particularly built for fighting, so I’m not sure how far she’d really get. It wasn’t bad, though.

“The Keys to the Stars” was decent. Judy, the main character, gets a call for help from an alien when she’s younger. After helping, she agrees to meet them again much later in her life. The aliens are interesting, and I like that the alien was retired at the end.

“Takes a Hacker” is about a girl named, Vieve, who begs for help from the main character, Jane. Vieve was in a horrible accident and had much of her body replaced with cybernetic parts. Because of that she’s shunned. When their school is having a large contest, Vieve’s entry is sabotaged and she’s set up to look like a cheater. No one believes her, so she asks for Jane’s help to clear her name.
Jane’s boyfriend, Zared, was a bit of a strawman, but other than that it was fine.

As you can probably see from the review, this book was fairly long. The stories in it had a large range of quality.

My two favorites were “Courage Is” and “Fledgling”. These two stood out to me as something I’d liked to follow. “Courage Is” has a great setup for a pair of girls who fly through space completing missions. “Fledgling” had a good setup for something like a sci-fi sentai show. They weren’t perfect, but they were both written well and I was invested.

My least favorites would be “Of Cat’s Whiskers and Klutzes” and “The Data Tourist”. The first was just a confused mess, and the second was boring.

The rest mostly fell in the middle of the road for me. Some had the issue of not setting up the “girls with gadgets” parts very well. They would be more, “And she was super good with gadgets because” instead of putting together a reason why, or it could feel like they were interested in it because the story required it. It’s hard to explain why, so I’m not even sure if people would get the same feeling.

Would I recommend it? I suppose so. There’s a few good ones in there, and many that weren’t a bad read. I’d actually be interested in hearing other people’s opinions of “Of Cat’s Whiskers and Klutzes”, just because being as confused as that makes me wonder if I missed something. I don’t think I did, but it would be nice to have it confirmed.

I give it a 8/10 overall.

Wrath, Prequel to Tredan’s Bane

Wrath, Prequel to Tredan’s Bane

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

This is just a prologue for a series, so it’s not very long at all. It’s about three chapters worth of a story.

It might be a little bit too short. I haven’t read the rest of the series, only this, and at times it felt rushed. There was often little description of their surroundings, so I could get lost. Sometimes descriptions didn’t actually give me a picture of what to see. For example, when Tredan is in his shop and summons a ghost, it says this:

He wore a Sciomancer’s old-fashioned Church vestments and had empty eyes.

I could see the empty eyes, but I have absolutely no idea what that outfit looks like in this fantasy world.

There’s also the issue of those fantasy names. Like “Arnl’jhott”. I have no idea how to pronounce that.

Besides that, it’s a good setup. It’s in what looks like a high fantasy world. While so much was happening in these chapters, sometimes without much explanation, but the time I finished the third chapter I had an idea of what kind of world this was and some basic overall premises. There’s some sort of Church. It’s evil and manipulative. The main character used to be part of it and has left. There’s constant magic, etc.

I could see this being a prologue for a good book. Maybe if you want to see if you’re interested in reading the series but you aren’t sure, pick this up and see if it appeals to you. It’s short, it gets a decent amount of information out in a long time, and it’s not riddled with errors or anything. If you’re looking for a high fantasy, or if you’ve read the story this is related to, I’d say go ahead and buy it.

I give it a 8/10.

The Honeypot Chronicles

The Honeypot Chronicles

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

This book is unabashed smut. I’m fine with that, but going into it I knew that I wasn’t the target audience. I’m not attracted to women, so books advertising lesbian sex aren’t likely to be for me. I don’t have a problem with it, so I went ahead and read it with that in mind.

There are eleven short stories in this collection, each one with an entirely different set-up to get straight to the smut. Some really do get right into it, while others give a few pages of background information first. For the most part it’s written well with few errors and delivers what it promises.

There’s not much to discuss as far as plot since the entire premise of the book revolves having almost none. I’d say that if you like larger women and oral sex, then you would probably enjoy this. Not that nothing else ever happens, but an oral fixation is so prevalent in every story that it would probably have to be something you’re interested in for this book to be for you. Oral took up the majority of the passages and when it got to other things it felt like they went by fairly quickly in comparison.

It does get into purple prose territory. Smut can be surprisingly hard to write, and I think because every story covers the exact same kinks it starts to get hard to write it in a unique, different way from the previous stories. If the author wants to keep writing a lot about oral, that’s fine. If the author is more interested in smut in general, I might recommend exploring more kinks to create more variety. There are more out there than I can count.

A few of the setups weren’t that great. The first one is interesting, implying that a girl has some sort of musical power to conjure imaginary men to please her. Good concept, you could do a lot with that. Others were more like what you would see in the average porno, such as a guard wanting to sleep with an (employee? boss? I wasn’t always clear what the situations were). Characters are mostly the same with different names in each story. You’ll see a lot of similar descriptions and there’s not enough to really give them personality.

So, my conclusion is that it’s fine. If you’re looking for a quick smut fix and things like lesbians and oral sex are your thing, go ahead and pick it up.

I give it a 8/10. It does what it’s meant to do.


Roscoe (Torin Sinclair Mysteries Book 2)

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Spoilers within)

I’m not sure I’ll have a ton to say about this story. I have a few nitpicks, but overall it was a good story, and it’s a lot harder to talk about something when it’s fine than when it’s bad. The basic story involves a boy named Tor living in a rural area with his mom. His mother is a doctor, and by chance a man bring a dog and an injured man to her. The injured man holds her at knife point before running away, and the rest of the story revolves around figuring out where the dog (Roscoe) came from.

If that sounds interesting to you, go ahead and pick it up. I didn’t note any particular errors (maybe there were one or two) and the story works well enough. I won’t say it pulled me in as much as some other books, but I’m also probably not the target audience.

There were two things that stuck out to me. In the beginning, when Mr. Hayward drops off Roscoe and the meth addict, the gigantic dog is left with Tor. It’s muzzled, but the only thing they know about this dog is that it attacked the other man, so it was driving me crazy that it was just left with a young boy. In seconds it seemed like he’d taken the muzzle off of the dog that he didn’t know at all (which is why you don’t leave a potentially dangerous dog with a kid). I realize Roscoe wasn’t a dangerous dog, but at the beginning of the book the only information they had pointed towards him being aggressive and violent, not to mention he was enormous and starving. No adult should have left this dog with Tor.

The second was that his friend was an “Ute Indian”. Now, I don’t care that she was a Native American at all, but in the beginning I actually started counting how often it was mentioned because it was constantly being repeated. “Ute campfire,” “Ute beads,” “Ute Indian braids,” “Ute blend,” “Ute Indian stories,” “Ute family celebrations”… You get the point. It got mentioned so many times I was wondering what other objects would have “Ute” stuck in front of them (is it really necessary to mentioned that her family celebrations are “Ute family celebrations”, for example? We already know she’s from the Ute tribe, we can assume that her family is, too. It can just be “family celebration”).

Oh, and there was a part where the kids mention the Sheriff hates them, but I don’t remember the Sheriff doing anything that implied he hated them. In another part Tor picked up his mom, which I had a hard time picturing a boy carrying around a grown woman. But the issues were all tiny things that a lot of people probably wouldn’t care about.

I will say that I liked the overall story until the end. I don’t think the ending worked. Yes, Tor and his friends solved some problems, but most of the townsfolk wouldn’t know much of anything about it because it was kept top secret. For the most part what they would know is that his family was kidnapped and then they managed to escape. It didn’t really set it up for people to come to them to solve mysteries. That part felt out of place.

I don’t even think there’s anything in this book that would ruin it for someone. If you’re looking for a little mystery and are a big dog lover, this could be the book for you. I give it 8/10.