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
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.
Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall
Barras world is dying. Slowly, ring by ring, the loft grows darker, less vibrant. With clues left in her fathers research notes, Barra and her friends, Tory and Plicks, must find a proof to show the elders. To save their world, they must Fall and go farther into the darkness than anyone before them.
Sunborn Rising by Aaron Safronoff is a young adult novel set in the imaginative world of Cerulean. Safronoff has built a rich and vibrant world, full of layers. Each of the main characters is unique and complex.
Barra, Tory, and Plicks are typical teenagers still on the threshold of childish behavior, but wanting to be taken seriously in their thoughts and endeavors. As with most coming of age sagas, this leads to trouble. The story really picks up about a third of the way through when the trio makes the discovery that leads to said trouble.
The accompanying drawings are beautifully detailed and allow the reader to see the world of Cerulean through the eyes of its creator. They are reminiscent of the movie Avatar in the vividness and color palette.
Although the descriptiveness of the writing will be sure to appeal to the YA crowd, the author uses a bit of a higher level of vocabulary, so older readers shouldnt feel like they are reading a childrens book. Dont be surprised if you have to look up the definitions of a couple of words.
My one complaint regarding the story is the elders journey to find the wayward trio. It seemed glossed over and summarized in an effort of expediency to move the story forward.
Even though Sunborn Rising is the first part of a two-part series, it doesnt end in a huge cliffhanger. While it sets up for the second half of the battle, it provides a satisfying close to the first chapter. That isnt to say you wont be left wanting to know what happens next, but you also wont feel like you were left with no answers to the saga that took place.
Siege of Praetar
In the midst of conflict and the exploitation of one race of people over the other, determination, optimism, and resolve are tested. In Tales of a Dying Star, Book 1: Siege of Praetar, cosmic circumstances have pushed members of both races to a desperate pursuit for survival. In this first book in a series of books, the people of the planets of Melis and Praetar are faced with the imminent destruction of their star, Saria. Motivated by fear, the people of Melis are exploiting the people of Praetar as they prepare for the relocation of their empire.
Perhaps one of the books most compelling features is its ability to captivate, both right from the start and as the story progresses. The first chapter contains action, suspense, and an appeal to human sensibilities. This approach to story-telling continues throughout the narrative. With the introduction of every new character, there is early delving into each one. They become authentic and believable very quickly. And, with the complicated relationships among the characters and the looming natural disaster, it is, likewise, easy to readily care about all of the characters, regardless of any wrongdoing.
The writing is concise and picturesque. It is easy to imagine the abject living conditions that befall many of the people in the story. The author wields an impressive less-is-more approach to writing. With a wonderful balance between dialogue and description, this story is amazingly well-crafted.
As the first book in a series, this volume does a tremendous job of setting the stage for the conflict between the two races of people. The tension between them is established, and the looming destruction of their homes creates an impetus for action. Several key questions are posed, yet not answered, in this first volume, furthering reader interest in learning the ultimate fates of the planets and the people who inhabit them.
The promise of learning more about these characters and finding out what happens to them is almost seductive. This story has mass appeal as it taps into a universal fear that anyone could envision. For a story about perseverance and survival, look no further than Tales of a Dying Star, Book 1: Siege of Praetar by David Kristoph. This book is a gem.
Dreamtime: The Gil-Garem
Dreamtime: The Gil-Garems story involves Edmund Mortani, a soldier who fought for the Sorisentine Dominion during the Garemoth Wars. In those wars, he lost his wife, Eurydice, on a mission. He continues to be haunted by dreams and visions of her 10 years after the war ends. When robot attacks begin again, Edmund suspects the Gil-Garem have come back to life, even though they appeared to be eradicated a decade earlier.
From the start, it is clear that Dreamtime: The Gil-Garem was once a screenplay. Character actions are written in the present tense, and several errors in grammar, spelling, and formatting show that a good spell-checker and the Chicago Manual of Style were not contributing resources to this sci-fi epic. Upon finishing the book, I found out the author had created a hybrid tense system for writing around his screenplay format. While it was a good effort, subverting English grammar didnt completely iron out the difference in experience between screenplay and novel, and, ultimately, the author would have done better to start from scratch and use proper storytelling conventions.
Its difficult for a reader to grow attached to a character without even knowing what they look like. If this book were to be made into a movie, viewers would have the luxury of seeing what Edmund looked like, as portrayed by an actor, along with the other characters and the scenery. For the first several chapters, I felt blind, like I was feeling my way along the narrative with indistinguishable human beings and nondescript robots doing things. While it might have slowed the pacing, I would have enjoyed the book more for its ability to paint a clear picture of the action in my mind.
The atmosphere of the book reminded me of a Star Trek fan fiction, intriguing in its development and ideas, but amateurish in its execution. However, a major strong point the book has going for it is its action sequences. Edmund and his crew go on missions to determine what the robots are and where theyre coming from, and the fight scenes are described in richer detail than many of the other elements of the book. Clearly depicted scenery, deeply developed characters, and a coherent adventure plot are the cornerstones of a good sci-fi novel.
I will gladly enjoy a several-hundred-page space opera because I know from its in-depth world and character building, as well as the narratives ability to paint clear pictures and develop tension and conflict that its good science fiction. In addition, good science fiction addresses deeper themes: the search for utopia, the human condition, the hubris of man, or leadership under duress. While some broader ideas were touched upon, such as Edmunds sense of loss and the relationship between artificial and organic intelligence, the themes werent completely clear.
Dreamtime: The Gil-Garem was a good start; the shell of a more developed story, but it is sure to leave readers wanting more.
The Light Who Shines
During the 1600s, the first Vampire was created, bringing about extreme chaos and the beginning of the Red Ages.
Over two thousand years later, Bluebell Kildare, homicide inspector for the Supernatural Investigation Bureau, is faced with solving the murder of a boy found naked, tortured, and beaten near a bar. She is able to examine the emotions and feelings left over in the area, as well as of those near her through the use of her sixth sense; she is Gifted, and very good at her job. By closing her other senses off, she can focus in on the many emotions that permeate the area, so as to center her attention in on evidence and clues that others may miss.
Sadly, despite Blues passion for her job, and the other Daylight Vampires who ensure the safety of the people around them, not everyone during this time is so understanding of sharing the world with people who have come to be so different from themselves. Extremist groups, such as the Dilectus Deo, are constantly protesting the very existence of the Gifted humans among them and the Daylight Vampires that protect them from the dangerous Dark Vampires — beings who have fallen prey to their more base natures and given up their ability to roam in daylight after killing in bloodlust. It is a dangerous world, and it takes only the best and bravest to search after criminals who would do harm to others.
Fortunately, Blue is not only a talented investigator, but she also counts on the help of her boss, Jack Tanner or as she prefers to think of him, quite possibly the sexiest man alive. He exudes danger in a quiet, stealthy sort of way. I often think I should be frightened of him quite possibly because hes a very old and incredibly strong Vampire. But I cant seem to muster any fear, even when hes in an obvious rage. That only makes me question my sanity. Its a complicated and strained relationship but the clear and palpable tension between them only makes watching them work together all the more enjoyable.
In The Light Who Shines, Lilo Abernathy has created an amazing and fantastic world in which normal humans, Gifted humans, Daylight and Dark Vampires must coexist despite the magical dangers, intolerance, and greed that run rampant on a day-to-day basis. The mystery of the tortured boy is the driving force behind this intriguing novel. As clues are discovered, witnesses questioned, and tips followed from one place to another, it becomes progressively more disturbing to get closer to the person responsible for such a heinous crime. Yet, the more we learn about Blue and her commitment to fight for those who have been victimized by this bigoted society, the more we realize she is just the investigator needed to get to the bottom of these kinds of transgressions. She proves to be not only fully dedicated to her job despite any dangers that come her way including her own safety and surprisingly strong-willed for someone whos most prominent gift is the ability to sense emotions. Still, it is her imperfections and limitations that make her an even more likable character we can all relate to especially when it comes to her weakness for Jack.
As the story unfolds, it becomes increasingly evident that there is much more at stake than meets the eye. The torture and death of this young boy leads Blue down a path of unprecedented self-discovery and a much larger role she must play not only at the Supernatural Investigation Bureau, but the world. Furthermore, it brings her and Jack much closer than theyve ever been. The Light Who Shines is a fast-paced, extraordinary, and provocative tale of high stakes and deep losses that demands to be read!