Category Archives: Self-published

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.

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Quickie: The Corpse King by Christopher Kellen

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I was pleasantly surprised but this short! I’ve read quite a bit of self-published work lately and this ranks up there with some of the best I’ve read. Of course, it helps that this is Sword & Sorcery…a favorite of mine. 😉

There were a few things that bothered me – the section when D’Arden meets the old man felt a little off and I would have liked a bit more depth in some places.

One of the things I would have liked to have seen given greater explanation was the magic system. I do realize that this short story is prequel to a full trilogy but I feel that each portion needs to be able to stand alone. In this story the magic isn’t explained – it’s taken for granted that the reader had some prior knowledge of the series.

I rather enjoyed it and I’ll go into reading the first book in the trilogy (Elegy) with a lot more excitement.
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Review: The Troll Hunter by Keith C. Blackmore

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A warrior with a secret. A band of cutthroats. And a monster of legend.

A morning that no one wanted. Battle rusty from the war infirmaries, a company of Sujins are ordered to march north through a war torn country, guarding a mysterious koch. They are whipped by the murderous Rusk the Two Knife and led by the enigmatic Bloor, the only cavalier to survive the Field of Skulls.

Together, they will march into the unknown, and arrive at the teeth of hell.

And only one man will possess the skills necessary to bring the survivors back.

A tale of heroic fantasy. Some graphic violence and language.

Trolls – mindless, destructive monsters, driven by their hunger and willing to eat any living thing – especially humans. Terrorizing the countryside and any towns they cross, trolls kill and eat all the humans they can. From far and wide, people travel to locate The Troll Hunters – the only men able to track and kill these man-eating beasts. How did these men become Troll Hunters and what motivates them? This is their story.

That little summary above is a lot closer to what the book is about than the actual blurb. But even then it really doesn’t tell the reader what the book is about before the reader picks it up. And that is the major problem I had with this book – the description of the book does not give the reader any real clue as to what is going on. A friend recommended this book to me – telling me that it was very like David Eddings (one of my favorite authors).

If I had to try to compare this book or author to anyone I would say that Keith C. Blackmore and The Troll Hunter is a lot closer to Glen Cook and The Black Company. This is Military fantasy without any magic…just a really big and really bad troll. Not an evil troll, just destructive and hungry. So, I really wasn’t expecting Military Fiction…and I’ve been a bit of a moody reader lately. I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book. The book is very well written and I did enjoy it…I just wasn’t expecting it.
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Review: Always by Carol Rose

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Always (or “The Angry Heroine”) by Carol Rose

The Blurb:
Elinor Prescott has come home at last…to Oakleigh, the gracious antebellum mansion that was home to generations of her Southern family. But the beautiful old house is a near-ruin and she can’t afford to restore it. Elinor hopes to find a buyer who will cherish the home as she does. But she has one rule–she won’t sell to handsome, self-made millionaire Cole Whittier.

Cole has the locals upset over his plans to build a factory nearby and Elinor’s leading the opposition. He’s got a fight on his hands to convince the stubborn beauty of the merits of his plans–and of everything else he discovers he wants to offer her.

It’s up to Cole to persuade Elinor to see things from his perspective. The sexy industrialist is convinced that Elinor is well worth winning over.

I had a lot of problems with this book. There are a lot of good ideas but the bad execution destroys a lot of that promise. The story should have been right up my alley…but I found myself wanting to toss this book across the room on several different occasions. I also found myself putting it down and not coming back for long periods of time. In fact, I had to force myself to finish. That’s never a good sign. This book is in need of a good editor, STAT.*

I think that a lot of my issues with this book deals with characterization and the lack of character growth. Elinor was just too…angry throughout the entire book. She was mad about this, mad about that…yelling and screaming and flinging accusations left and right. With all of her explosions…I never once thought of her as feisty or as a spitfire – she was just plain annoying as hell and slightly unlikeable. I’d see her as more of a nag and really couldn’t understand why Cole liked her. I felt sad for him that he was dating her.

There was very little emotional or sexual tension between the hero and heroine. I saw Cole try and try with her…but all I saw from Elinor was anger and reverse snobbishness. In fact, by the end of the book I was so sick and freaking tired of her money issues that I wanted to shove some money down her throat so she could choke on it. Most people – especially Americans – respect riches that are the result of hard work. Cole came from nothing and did it all himself…but the reader is subjected to Elinor’s angry money issues time and time again.

While still carping on Elinor’s anger issues, lol, I wanted to say that her anger made it hard for me to believe the story. WHY would Cole want to marry her?? WHAT had she done beside be a bitch? I never saw any real growth in their relationship that would make me feel that leap was possible. I can’t even remember Elinor instigating affection between the two of them.

The only point that Elinor had in her favor was that Cole lied to her – by omission – about being the anonymous buyer of her grandfather’s house. And then he kept up that lie throughout the entire book…which – of course – clues the reader in to the final “big misunderstanding” that the couple will have (much too early).

And the ending. Wow. It just made me so angry. Wow, so angry.

*Note: a good editor is NOT a proof reader.

Review: The Geek Job by Even Langlais

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From the book: Protect the geek, that’s the job she’s been hired for, but little did this shewolf expect to fall for a man of science.

As a werewolf who hires out as a bodyguard, Lexie is paid well to perform dangerous jobs that sometimes involve taking off her clothes. When she takes on the protection of a science geek for a vampire clan, she doesn’t expect her temporary girlfriend status to come with lots of pleasure. But a geeky human who pushes all her right buttons—and plays her body oh so right—isn’t reason enough for her to break the rules and fall in love.

Everything changes after an incident in the lab, but before she can decide if it’s safe to give him her heart, she has to help him survive.

This was a rather fun book with some hot sex. I liked both characters for different reasons. I’m a pretty big fan of kick-ass heroines – a description that fits Lexie perfectly – and I loved Anthony.

I really enjoyed watching Anthony slowly gain confidence in himself and his powers of attraction and I enjoyed the relationship that developed between Lexie and Anthony. What I absolutely hated – while still enjoying Lexie as the science slut – was the deception that the relationship started with. I felt that Lexie should have told Anthony that he was in danger and that she was there to protect him. Lexie should have also had to do a little more groveling. If a man had perpetuated the same deception that Lexie did, it would have been handled as a bigger transgression.

The ending felt a tad contrived while still being somewhat believable. All in all, it was a short but fun read.

I think it’s safe to call me a fan of Eve Langlais. I own a decent amount of her work and – even though she originally annoyed the crap out of me by writing such short novellas that her characters and/or stories would never develop to full potential – have plans to buy much more. I can certainly say that the length of her books seem to slowly get longer while the voice that originally intrigued me has stayed fresh. 🙂

With that being said, the book is cute, a little funny, kinda sexy and I think you should read it – if you like erotic romance, that is. 😉
Three and a ½ stars!

Review: The Voyage of the Minotaur by Wesley Allison

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The Voyage of the Minotaur by Wesley Allison is the steampunk version of Imperial colonization. The Dechantagne siblings – Iolanthe, Terrance, and Augie – are nobles who live in Mallontah (a country similar to colonial England). They – Iolanthe – have used all of their family’s influence and sunk their family’s fortune into a venture to colonize a newly discovered continent, Birmisia. This book covers the settlers’ voyage, landing, founding, and first interactions with Birmisia’s natives – intelligent two-legged lizard-men that the Dechantagnes’ want to use as labor and dinosaurs.

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