Monthly Archives: June 2021

Kimeno By Ross Kingston

When I started reading Kimeno I was not sure how I felt about it. I almost felt confused, as confused as Kimeno is by the world! The concept of a world where people are named through actions and given magical artefacts. However, the more I read, the more I realized I was fascinated by the ideas and wanted to learn more about the world. Particularly in one major area, what are artefacts and how are they made?

Beyond my curiosity and amazement induced questions, I found myself genuinely enjoying this very original world. Now when I say an original world, I mean a genuinely original world. This is not a copy and rename of the usual fantasy worlds. Everything in this novella feels new. And I love it! I strongly suggest this novella for anyone who is looking for something that feels new. Sick of the same fantasy troupes? PICK THIS UP! You will not regret it.

Also… I need to know more about the Immaculate Butlers! I want more!

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood is the sequel to The Handmaids Tale. I did not know this addition, which was published recently, even existed till Audible started pushing it towards me because I had listened to The Handmaids Tale. Much like with the first book, I listened to the sequel in audiobook format. Which I am pleased I did. It took me longer than usual as I have been doing a lot of physical reading lately so I only listen to audiobooks while I drive or clean. But this book was certainly quiet good.

Unlike the first novel, which covers the view of the Handmaid followed by scholarly discussions on a country that has seen the last of its days, The Testaments follows the paths of multiple characters as they work towards the getting information that can change the land they are trapped in, or sometimes call home.

It was interesting to hear about how things progressed in this land, and how certain characters from the first book changed.

I strongly suggest picking up The Testaments if you enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale.

Alchemist Apprentice – Review

A fantastic story about a young man giving everything he can hoping to make sure his younger sister has the best life she can, and trying to find a place for himself. This fantasy story is far from just a repeat of similar tales of magical academies. The relationship between Sam, the main character and his little sister is heavily part of the reason for any of the story happening. Orphaned, he knows his little sister has talent and goes to some extremes to make sure she had a place in the Academy for Arcane Arts.

The world of Alchemist Apprentice is original and well made. There is a lot more than just the tale involving the school here. There are also heavy influences of family, war and friendship. The style of magic and alchemy created for this world is fascinating and I hope they go in to more detail in later books. The first of a series it is clear that the creators of this book have a good grasp on their world.

The characters are realistic and exciting to learn about. They have emotions and flaws in their thinking that make them more interesting than some of the perfect fantasy protagonists that come out of some novels. I look forward to picking up the next novel soon.

Everyone is Tulip

So, we have another graphic novel to review! Much like with the last one that I got my hands on this copy of Everyone is Tulip was sent to me via an ad I put up through Facebook and Instagram. This time it was Dave Baker looking for podcasts to go on to and discuss this new work. Sadly, I am not a podcaster but he was willing to let me read and review Everyone is Tulip, anyway! And I have to say I have been absolutely blown away!

The story of Everyone is Tulip is difficult to get through. Not because it is bad, far from it the story is amazingly well written, but because of the emotions it causes. The series of events that shape Becca, or Tulip as she comes to be called, are both realistic and heartbreaking. And it resonates, particularly if you are an artistic type.

Now the art of Everyone of Tulip is also lovely. It fits the story well. Full of colorful pinks and blues and then suddenly darker fit the mood of each scene perfectly. I enjoyed the artwork so much, I actually went through it a second time to properly enjoy the art by itself. Which in and of itself says something as I often find myself reading a graphic novel once and not picking it up again for a few months.

Everyone is Tulip should be read by every fan of graphic novels. More so, if you are an artistic type of any format. Seriously, pick this up and add it to your collection. I know I intend to go back to it again and again. Dave Baker, Nicole Goux and Ellie Hall have created a brilliant work.

The Spyder in the Cracked Mirror

Now and then, you pick up the start of a series that leaves you wanting more. A tale that has wrapped up cleanly but with enough enough loose ends to tie in to the next book. The Spyder in the Cracked Mirror by Syrena Seale is one of these books. Book one of the Entropy Beckoning Chronicles, this sci-fi novel leaves you with a curious combination of fear, sadness and adoration for characters who can be as far from human as you can imagine. 

This novel is a rough tale of abuse, affection, brainwashing and going to some extremes to achieve your dream. I know, heavy topics, but handled wonderfully and inside an entertaining tale that by the end leaves you wondering what is going to happen.

The characters are well rounded and you genuinely feel for the trials the characters go through. The story itself is interesting, sending you back and forth through the memories of the main character as you follow him through his very dark and dangerous adventure. 

If you enjoy science fiction with entertaining alien species, some of which can have some very dark, but realistic personalities, this is a must read for you!

Dragon Hill and Other Stories

Dragon Hill and Other Stories is a colorful collection of short stories by Stephen E Seale. The stories are of different genres but each one is well written and entertaining. With four stories, the book as a whole is a quick read, but this is far from a bad thing. Each story gives you a little taste of the author’s ability to work with different worlds and genre. This quick read will leave you grasping for more of Seale’s work.

This book is great for fans of short stories, scifi and fantasy! 

The Handmaid’s Tale Audiobook Edition

So I finally read The Handmaid’s Tale, or rather, I listened to it on Audible, read by Claire Danes. How had I never read this classic before? Well, it fell off my radar; I heard some had to read it in high school but it was not on the special education reading list so it never came up. I also intended to get to it after the Hulu show came out a few years ago but I usually put well-known classics on the back burner while I go through various indie published works. So thanks to the power of audiobooks I could finally add this to my list of books I’d read.

I have to say, overall I enjoyed the story. A dystopian tale of a woman just trying to survive in the hard regime of a religiously based society that has placed her in her role where she is used for the procreation of children based on her (by them) perceived foul history and her genetic ability. I like dystopian stories so it was easy for me to find the appeal in this one. I wanted to root for the main character, or at least hoping she would survive.

I have often read and heard people complain the story has a very ‘men are evil’ feel to it, but after finishing it I can certainly say that there are characters in it that are guilty of some horrible things and it is not just the male characters. It is certainly not a cut and dry story by any means, and has a lot of aspects that should be considered while reading, even after. 

The audiobook presentation is well done. Claire Danes reads the story clearly and confidently. Her voice fits well with the narration of the story.

Given the story was published in 1985 it has held up pretty well to the test of time. It is certainly still worth reading. I would suggest this for anyone who has ever been curious about this classic, or those who enjoy digging in to the dirty parts of dystopian worlds. Or perhaps even someone with a feminist flair to their life. I know that was how I picked it up.

The Year Before the End – A review

Usually when you dive in to a science fiction novel, any fiction you expect to have to allow for some suspension of reality. That you have to give up some reality to accept what you are reading. And if you have any interest in space and science, sometimes it goes too far. You leave the book scratching your head. What in the world did I just finish? Maybe it’s just me, but if a sci-fi novel is far too experimental, I lose interest and it is a chore to get through. Well, I am happy to say I had none of this issue with The Year Before the End. In fact, much of it felt plausible. Not anytime soon, mind you, but eventually.

So now you may ask, why the random opening paragraph when this is supposed to be a review? Well, The Year Before the End has several explanations throughout the story. These range from histories, to how gravity is simulated, to the state of planets involved in the story’s conflict. All very believable explanations and issues, plus they were interesting to read about and clearly not half thought up explanations to keep us picky readers happy.

So, is The Year Before the End a good book? Is Mars covered in red dust? (The answer to this question is an resounding YES, if you are not aware.) The story, while starting off like a detailed space heist, quickly turns in to a solar system wide crisis as the team finds out they are in deeper than they expected. Naturally I will not ruin the story for you with long detailed analysis of the plot and characters. I’m a reviewer, not an English teacher.

I will say that the characters are well rounded and believable. There is a tiny hint of a potential romance, but it is not a heavy portion of the plot. Though the dedication of the characters to one another plays heavily. This is a story you can sink your teeth in to, and with sequels in the works this is shaping up to be a science fiction series that will keep us entertained for some time.

So, if you enjoy sci-fi, pick this up. Vidar Hokstad’s world is impressive and should be read by many! You can find information about this book and more about the series (including some amazing cover art like I used in this post) at https://galaxybound.com/b01

Dust by Elizabeth Bear

I recently picked up the book Dust, the first novel in a series by Elizabeth Bear. And it was certainly an experience. Though perhaps not one I will be repeating. Which is a pity because I always enjoy a good book series. It is a well-written and presented book. However, this sci-fi story feels far too experimental for me. It has a curious world, that could have been wonderful to visit, but its technology was far too soft in explanation for my liking. 

This story also has a lot of biblical elements, which is not a bad thing. I enjoy a good allegory or metaphor or various other forms of representation, but I did not see any of this in the story I read. Perhaps I missed something. I left the book with a strange feeling of ‘what did I just read?’

While I did not enjoy it, I can suggest this book for people who enjoy more creative and experimental science fiction.

The Last Battlemage

The Last Battlemage is the squeal to The Dragon’s Touchstone, so if you have not read that one I strongly suggest you pick it up before you look at this one. Now on to the review.

This book picks up right after the events of The Dragon’s Touchstone. It better expands on the Irene Radford’s fantasy world, bringing us to places that we had not been in the first book. This already amazing fantasy world is made even more impressive when you are allowed to see the size of it. World building is a complicated process, and it is always satisfying to pick up a book where the author has provided a world that feels alive.

I will say, while this is an excellent book, I do not think The Last Battlemage is as good as The Dragon’s Touchstone but if you read the first, this one is worth picking up if you want to see the conclusion of the story and how the characters complete their journey. It is an amazing story for fantasy fans.

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