Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners
If you haven’t read Grunge, the previous memoir by these fine collaborators, you should buy that first because that is where our primary character’s awesomeness is fully explicated. Oliver Chadwick Gardenier, Iron Hand, is literally on a mission from God.
Often you hear a book described as being non-stop action. With this one it is true. It has action ranging from dueling with multiple werewolves in a cemetery at night to action of a different kind with some of the more attractive denizens of New Orleans. I said the protagonist was on a mission from God; that doesn’t mean he’s religious, or anything . . . inhibiting like that.
N.O. is very strange for our friend Chad because the feds are not trying to pretend the mystic source of monsters does not exist. That would not work in the Big Easy. Everyone knows. So from having to be as clandestine as you can be, blowing off tons of ammo and slathering the streets with blood/ichor, our monster slayer is a public hero. It gets him laid frequently. Since he wound up with this assignment by fleeing an indiscretion with an underage trailer park elf, you would expect that of him. Great swashbuckling fun!!!
John Ringo, Larry Correia
Tomorrows End Book One
Tomorrows End is the first book in a series by author G. R. Morris. This book starts with some pretty basic science fiction themes and extrapolates out in some interesting and unexpected directions. Focusing mainly on two teenage main characters who come into their abilities in varying stages of reluctance, this novel follows Daren, a girl trapped in a horrible foster home, and Kevin, a boy trapped in a home with an abusive stepfather. Both characters become major players in an age old battle of light vs. dark. Mr. Morris also introduces a very interesting theory about free will and destiny in Kevins story arc, while also informing readers about alien technology that is running the world, as well as aliens who are impersonating and replacing humans.
Part one unfortunately begins with a few stumbles and has lines of banal text such as; Some people believed love conquers all. And they were right. It had beaten him. However, I would urge readers to keep reading past the initial pages and really discover the original ideas that Morris has integrated alongside traditional sci-fi staples. The dual story lines are not perfect, but they are handled well and have completely different styles and tones. I enjoyed Darens story line more because the audience was allowed to share her story and her experiences, we got to know her as a person. Kevins story seemed more like exposition. There was an entire three or four chapter section in the middle of the book devoted to explaining the philosophy behind the story. At one point the author seems to even make light of the length with this exchange; Stop interrupting. Robert yelled, I have a whole speech going on here. Sorry, Im beginning to get bored Kevin laughed.
While Tomorrows End may not be the most entertaining novel I have read recently, it is one of the more thought provoking. In a genre that is already crowded with rehashes of ideas, it is truly remarkable to find a debut novel with something new and compelling to offer readers. I hope to see this creativity continue throughout the rest of the series.
The Methuselarity Transformation
Raymond Mettler is a wealthy recluse, obsessed with his personal safety and staving off death at all costs. Marcus Takana is a poor athlete with big aspirations and no hope of realizing them. They would never have met, if not for a stranger named Terra, wielding an incredible offer: making Marcus’s dreams come true if he agrees to let Raymond’s mind inhabit his body when Ray dies. In a world where genetically engineered grass is choking the planet and aging can be held off indefinitely for the right price, both Ray and Marcus will discover the dark side of the secret Faustian bargain they’ve struck.
The Methuselarity Transformation feels like vintage sci-fi, tackling hard questions like social equality, economic disparity, and the consequences of genetic tinkering by crafting a human narrative around them. As Ray and Marcus’s bargain with Terra plays out, the reader slowly gains a foothold in this advanced – yet still very familiar – version of Earth.
That ambitious storytelling spirit also informs the novel’s pacing, as frequent jumps forward in time grant a glimpse of years in the lives of our protagonists, all told in the looming shadow of Ray’s eventual death and transfer into Marcus’s body. (Though, as the novel moves between the two main characters, it’s sometimes unclear how much time is passing.)
The various romantic and scientific subplots that weave in and out of our paired narratives help move Marcus and Raymond beyond being pieces on the gameboard, giving their stories a depth and resonance that move this beyond a simple “what if” scenario. But while the HibernaTurf crisis subplot provides intriguing insight into both Ray and Marcus’s individual histories (and adds a touch of backstory to the narrative), the SPUDs/sentient beings subplot never really gels with the novel’s major themes, adding color but little substance.
Cleverly, Moskovitz’s social commentary and scientific insight add a timeless quality to the book, preventing it from feeling too anchored to a 2014-fueled mentality. The Methuselarity Transformation is socially conscious sci-fi, something we could use more of these days.
Maya Rising (Last Call for Caviar, vol.2)
SPOILER ALERT: The following contains spoilers for Volume 1 Last Call for Caviar.
This sequel to Last Call for Caviar is equally delicious as the first installment. A warning for persnickety readers, this is not a standalone volume. It will make almost no sense if you havent read the first book. This isnt to say that author Melissa Roen doesnt weave the storylines together seamlesslyshe doesbut she doesnt fully set up volume 2 the way she does volume 1. I recommend reading the books in order to get the full effect. And do NOT miss the prologues. Start at the very beginning.
Having said that
Destruction, death and blood cultsoh my! Maya Jade is still stranded on the continent during what can only be accurately described as Armageddon. Having finally found her way out of the Riviera and back into the arms of sexy surgeon Julian, the future is anything but certain. What perils lurk on the interior of Europe? Will they reach their destination in the safety of Switzerland? Will the safety promised there be real? Again, there are more questions than answers. And the few answers there are lead Maya further into trouble and the deviant and devious schemes for power and control that broil beneath the surface of a splintered civilization.
Finally reunited with lover Julian, Maya believes she has escaped the dangers of her past until they appear right on her tail bumper ready to rear end her into oblivion. And we are there to watch her dangle on the edge. Maya Rising jumps right into the action, and it doesnt let up. The plot winds through the French countryside and down back into the Riviera, coming full circle. Maya is forced to face the demons that have hounded her steps throughout both volumes.
The earth trembles with a mystical power that haunts Maya. The mysteries of this force seem to hold her destiny in its grip and the blazing red eye of the Purifier scorches. Through the melee, Maya has to figure out if her love for Julian is as strong as shes always believed. Could her feelings for another powerful man jeopardize their fairytale ending? Could unfinished business render all of the questions moot? Always just one step away from the end, Maya Jade is on an unrelenting journey toward her truth and the fate of the world.
This novel is a fast paced whirlwind of adventure, hurdling towards an odd conclusion that will keep you guessing until the very end. Roen is cruel in her conclusion. I implore her to reconsider, and serve us at least one more serving of Caviar.
Dr. James Tenace is not your typical doctor. The head of the Falkennest Clinic Faculty, Tenace has a preoccupation with those nearing the final stage of life. Working principally with comatose patients, Tenace hopes to capture that very moment when souls leave bodies. A brilliant scientist, Tenace is also undoubtedly eccentric. There is another side to the mad scientist that no one totally sees nor understands and that is his bouts with what appears to be schizophrenia. Tenace constantly finds himself traumatized by his past, particularly with his mother’s death, and his broken marriage, and often carries imaginary conversations with could be demons or simply his younger self. Yet amid his problems, Tenace’s life and experimentations take an unexpected turn when he gets into a car accident.
Yves Bernas’ debut novel incorporates all the elements of a modern-day Frankenstein tale. Bernas’ plot features Tenace, a man who initially has taken all the correct steps to become a caring doctor. But quickly shifting gears to present a different persona, Bernas’ third person narrative reveals another nature to Tenacethe one that he is becoming and truly a product of his own manifestation. While chapters are replete with the expected medical lingo associated with a story such as this, Bernas creates balance by focusing on the human aspect of this supposed madman. Indeed, readers may find themselves easily sympathizing with Tenace’s struggles, but, hopefully, that compassion will be short-lived because many of Tenace’s illegal medical practices are nothing less than unconscionable. To make these medical scenes complete, Bernas even throws in an assistant, Ralf, whose role is reminiscent of Frankenstein’s Igor.
Bernas keeps his story moving by utilizing the aforesaid elements and placing them within alternating character scenes sprinkled with humorous moments, as well as unexpected situations. For all mad scientist aficionados, add Dr Tenace to your reading list. You won’t be disappointed.
Eons ago, the nation of Caladorn and the kingdoms of the Rhen existed in harmony. Those days are long past. Though they still share a root philosophy, at least so far as the nature of magic is concerned, relations between Bryn Calazar and Aerysius are far from friendly. Braden Reis is a Master of the Lyceum, sent to Aerysius as an ambassador in a last-ditch attempt to prevent war . . . but all is not as it seems. When an Acolyte from Aerysius Hall of Watchers stumbles upon an unholy conspiracy involving the demonic power of Xerys, Prince of Chaos, Braden finds himself embroiled in a struggle against the most powerful members of both Colleges of Magic for the future of his entire world. If he fails, Chaos will reign supreme. If he succeeds, it may mean the end of the world as he knows it.
The world presented in Darkstorm is fascinating, to say the least. I initially feared Caladorn would prove the stereotypical fantasy land where women are forced to rely on men to protect them, but this wasnt quite accuratethat only proves necessary if the woman in question has little status. There are many powerful women in Caladorn, though a good deal of their status and prestige seems to be founded in how alluring they are able to make themselves. Aerysius seems to be a bit more founded on equality, but as we spend a comparatively short time there I cannot say for certain. Fantasy tropes pop up left and right, but usually cast in a new light or employed in interesting combinations that dampen any potential annoyance.
The characters shown here are without fail three-dimensional and complex. One seems inconsistent at times, but that turns out to be intentional. Braden Reis is a man of convictions, with blood on his hands despite (or because of) his strong moral compass. Bradens lover, Master Sephana Clemley, holds a similarly steady morality despite serving a rival nation. Faced with evidence of corruption infecting both their orders, Braden and Sephana barely hesitate before seeking the truth. Also caught up in events is Sephanas apprentice, Merris Bryar, whose nosiness tips the Masters off to the conspiracy in their midst, and Bradens wine-sotted brother Quinlan. Even the antagonists prove complicated, and their motivations understandable even as we deplore their methods. We arent even entirely sure theyre wrong, in most cases.
Bottom line, this was an amazingly entertaining read. I do have some issues with the ending, but I cannot discuss them without courting spoilers, and so will leave off with merely that vague caveat. I look forward to seeing more in this trilogy when the time comes.