Category Archives: 2 Stars

Review: The Way of the Black Beast by Stuart Jaffe

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Disclaimer: This was read and reviewed at the request of the author, who provided me with a free digital copy of the book in order for me to do so.What can I say about this book? In short.. It wasn’t all that great. The plot was bland and repetitive, the bad guys were very stereotypical and weak, and the main character.. She wasn’t interesting at all. No personality, nothing to make me either like or dislike her. The side kicks all felt very interchangeable, you couldn’t really differentiate one character from another. They all felt the same; very one-note and boring.

As for the world building… It hit on one of my pet peeves. The story reads like it’s set on earth.. But it’s not earth, it’s some other place. I can’t even recall the name of this other planet/place, because it was only mentioned once. But for all intents and purposes, it was earth with a new name and a couple new words/terms thrown in along with a couple of invented creatures. This annoys the shit out of me. For the love of God, if you don’t want to invest some real time and energy into world building, just call it earth. It was supposed to be post-apocolyptic anyway, why does it need to be PA on another planet? It just feels lazy.

Back on the plot.. Bland. Repetitive. Yes, I used these words before, but I feel like they needed to be used again. It was just the same thing over and over.. Tracking down the bad guys, a plot point hurdle to jump, an anti-climatic battle scene, rinse and repeat. And talk about anti-climatic.. The final battle? Really lame. Just saying.

The only reason this is getting two stars instead of one is that it was actually written pretty well, all things considered. Any time I read a self published author, I go into it expecting typos galore and awkward writing.. I didn’t see much of that at all in here. There were a few typos here and there, and a couple of sections where the writing made me cringe, but overall it was much better than I expected.

Review: Sheepfarmer’s Daughter by Elizabeth Moon

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My oh my… Oh my oh my oh my.

When I started reading this, I thought I was going to love it. It had come with such high recommendations, and it sounded like it was right up my alley. I was so excited to finally have time to dive into it! Unfortunately, I was ultimately disappointed. It just didn’t work for me… Try as I might, I just couldn’t make myself like it.

It was just so boring. It literally put me to sleep whenever I tried to read it. Which was great for those late nights that I just couldn’t fall asleep… But not so great during my lunch break at work, or in the middle of a weekend afternoon. Seriously though.. It was beyond boring. Nothing happened! Thinking back now, I can’t tell you what the book was about, other than to say it was about a chick who joined a mercenary company, marched around a bunch, acted dense a lot, and fought from time to time. So basically, what the blurb says. That’s all. Just page after page of clinical descriptions of marching here and marching there. Half of the time I didn’t even realize a fight had started until it was halfway over.

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Review: The Baker’s Boy by J.V. Jones

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I went into this knowing that it was the first book in a trilogy, and that it would be mostly setup for the other two books in the series. I went into this knowing that it was very standard, crunchy granola fantasy. A coming of age story with a pretty girl met by chance on the road, stereotypical villains, a coming of age type quest, stuff like that. But… Come on. Nothing happened in this book! And when I say nothing, I mean nothing. Nothing was resolved in the end, and for that matter, I never really even figured out what there was to be resolved. All of the hurdles in this book were such trivial matters.. I never discovered any overarching story line, nothing bigger and badder out there that would come crashing into the story to help tie it together. I still kept holding out hope as I turned each page.. But it never happened.

So obviously this was a pretty big disappointment. I didn’t hate it, but I think “meh” is as good as it gets when it comes to finding a word to describe it. And that sucks! I really wanted a crunchy granola standard sort of fantasy. It’s been a long time since I read anything like that, I was hoping that reading it would feel sort of like coming home. And I guess it did.. If by “home” you mean some place super boring where nothing ever happens and there is a lot of sex and groping and slutty chicks.

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Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Standards…

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This is the second retelling of Rapunzel I’ve read, and unfortunately, I just felt that it did not do the story justice. This is a dark story – an evil witch, or in this case an evil sorceress, steals a baby, and locks her in a tower cut off from the world. When she chances to find happiness anyway, that is snatched away as well… and then only by luck is there a happy ending. For all its darkness though, this story read like a Wikipedia summary. There was no feeling of danger, or fear, and the “terrifying” evil sorceress was about as scary as vanilla ice cream. I don’t think even children in the age group this is aimed at would find her scary if this was read to them… probably only if they saw her picture.

I did find it terrifying in a different, disturbing way, though. The story, being rewritten for such a young audience (ages 4-7), feels like all of the substance of the story was removed. There’s no personality. The evil sorceress is just the ugly lady who stole a baby and locked her away in a tower to punish her parents for petty theft. Rapunzel has no personality at all, is barely even a character in the story, despite being the TITLE character. She has one line, and that’s it. But she’s described as being the most beautiful girl under the sun, so who needs personality when you have your looks? They’re the only thing of value a girl has anyway, right fashion industry?

Not only is that message incredibly disturbing, but after Rapunzel is cast out, and her beloved falls from the tower and is blinded, and then Rapunzel and the prince meet again for their Happy Ever After, we hear no more about the evil sorceress… does she live, die, stay in the tower in Rapunzel’s place as other versions suggest? Is there NO punishment for the stealing and imprisonment of a child? Are children just supposed to think this is OK?

I know that this is a fairytale, but this is also a retelling aimed at young, impressionable children. And this one was very disappointing. The more I think about it, the less I like it.

The only things I DID like about this were 1)the choice to place the story in an African village setting, rather than having yet another beautiful, blonde haired white girl as the main character; and 2) the collage style artwork, which I thought was great.

So two generously given stars for this blase retelling.

Review: Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman

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There were some good elements of story here, and some good world concepts. However, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The prose is choppy, full of adverbs and redundancies. If I had to hear “he smiled grimly” one more time, I was prepared to gouge out my eardrums (I listened to the audio, obviously).

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