Category Archives: Book Review

Review: Bands of Mourning

Bands of Mourning

by Brandon Sanderson

Reviewed by JMD Reid

B00R697BC8.01.LZZZZZZZIt is the day of Wax and Steris’s wedding, and he is not ready to remarry. The wounds of being forced to kill his first wife for the second time still haunts Wax. His marriage to Sterris is one of political and economic necessity. But Wax has promised to marry her, and he will grit his teeth and get through the ceremony.

Of course, nothing ever goes right around Wax. When a kandra shows up needing Wax’s help and the nearby water tower collapses and floods the church in the middle of the ceremony, another adventur has begun. In New Seran, a kandra has almost been killed after coming across the location of the Lord Rulers bracers, the Bands of Mourning. Reputed to be the source of the Lord Rulers inhuman powers, they are coveted by all, including Wax’s devious uncle and the nefarious group he works for.

Not wanting to help Harmony and the kandra after their betrayal, but unable to resist the urge to hunt his uncle down and recover his kidnap sister, Wax joins the group. Accompanied by his disreputable friend Wayne, the intrepid constable Marsai, his fiancee Steris, and the kandra MeLaan, Wax heads off on an adventure that will change everything for the people of Elendel.

Bands of Mourning was a rollercoaster ride. Brandon weaves almost every pulp story in existence into this tale from Westerns (including a classic train robbery), detective story, and more (I don’t want to spoil this one). Wax and his group have never faced such danger as they try to dicover what the mysterious Set, the shadowy organization bent seizing power in Elendel. The characters have grown and changed, but Steris really shines. In Alloy of Law I did not like her. I wanted Wax to end up with Marsai. But the last two books, especially this one, shows just how great a match she is for Wax.

But there’s more than just Wax’s love life in this book. So much happens. Just when you thought you understood how Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy works, Brandon throws curve balls. MeLaan and Wayne continue to entertain, and it’s great seeing how far Marsai has come from the first book where she blushed at everything (though she does have her occasional blush).

The stakes only grow higher in this book, setting the stage for the final book in the Mistborn Era 2 series, The Last Metal. This book packed some emotional wallops. There were times I was at the edge of my seat, my stomach twisting in disbelief at what was happening.

If you’re a fan of Brandon Sanderson, Mistborn, and the Cosmere, you will eat this book up. And if you’ve never read Brandon Sanderson, you are missing out. Pick up the first Mistborn book (this is not the place to start) and fall in love with one of the modern masters of Fantasy.

Bands of Mourning is available from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: Burning Doors

Burning Doors

by Renee N. Meland

Reviewed by JMD Reid

B00W7GV018.01.LZZZZZZZIn the wake of an economic collapse in the United States and a plague that devastated Europe, the world is a darker place. Crime is rampant in the US, particularly juvenile crime. Cain lives in fear of his abusive father, waiting for the day that the Parental Morality Act is passed. But it doesn’t come fast enough, and he beats his father to death with a pipe.

Forced to flee to the streets, Cain is plunged into the underbelly of third-world America. His life is aimless until a priest takes pity on Cain and gives him shelter. When Cain wants to return the favor to a younger boy, he finds himself embroiled with a sixteen-year-old madam of a brothel/drug dealer.

Maureen is strong, ruthless, and beautiful. Cain can’t help his attraction to her even as he is repulsed by her business. But when one of Maureen’s johns gets violent, she’s forced to defend herself. The only problem, the dead man is a corrupt cop.

I wasn’t expecting Burning Doors to be a prequel to the Extraction List. It follows the life of Cain and shows how he becomes such a ruthless, yet caring, man. The man who would help a young girl and her mother escape to safety. It’s a tragic tale and while I had hoped for a continuation of the story, I found myself caught up in the story. This is a bleak look at society’s crumble.

Burning Doors is available from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: Dragon Dreamer

Dragon Dreamer

by J. S. Burke

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

B00K9DHTU2.01.LZZZZZZZ“But there had to be more to life than avoiding danger. Helping a friend was certainly more important…”

Arak is a young dragon on his first ever solo flight, a right of passage for his kind. He’s a dreamer, the odd dragon out always thinking and imagining, forever getting his head lost in the clouds. And this time it may cost him his life. He went out too far, hoping to be the dragon to find new copper mines for his race and an ice storm has caught up with him. Injured, he falls to the sea ice below, his wings hurt, his leg broken.

In the oceans below, Scree the octopus healer leaves the safety of her pod’s home on the reef to look for supplies. She’s an inquisitive and helpful octopus, with a caring heart. While collecting slug eggs near the surface, she is shocked when Arak crashes onto the ice. At first frightened by the massive dragon, her caring nature compels her to help poor Arak. And thus starts a friendship that will change the fortunes of both Arak’s dragons and Scree’s octopi.

Dragon Dreamer is the fascinating tale of two cultures meeting and growing better for their union. There is no great enemy to vanquish or dark prophecy to prevent. All that faces the dragons and the octopi are survival. From underwater volcanoes to sickness, Arak and Scree work together to help both their peoples prosper.

While Dragon Dreamer is clearly aimed at a younger, grade school audience, the story is both sweet and heartwarming and at times suspenseful. J.S. Burke has crafted a unique fantasy world unlike any I have ever read. Out of all the unlikely pairing in storys, a dragon and an octopus is the most out there, and yet J.S. Burke makes this story work. I would recommend this book for any child embarking into the wonderful world of books with great characters, stories, and values.

You can buy Dragon Dreamer from Amazon!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: Lands of Ash by H.L.Burke

Lands of Ash (Elemental Realms 1)

by H. L. Burke

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

B00X50R0XC.01.LZZZZZZZIn a fantasy world ravaged by invading Fire Elementals, humans struggle to survive. Every year, the fire elementals burn and consume, driving back the human settlements. The strength of man is failing. Only a few strongholds remain. When Ketyl comes across signs of scouting portals, he realizes the elementals have discovered the Fortress.

As Ketyl and his brother Karvir summon the remaining militias to the defense of the Fortress in a last stand against the elementals, a young boy flees his home with his pregnant step-mother. His father has died fighting the elementals, and it is no longer safe at their farm.

The forces of men prepare for their final battle when Ketyl comes across a vital piece of information. He has a plan to end the war. It maybe folly. It may be suicidal. But what choice do they have?

Lands of Ash was a surprising book. When I first came across this book, I was intrigued by the premise. The story seemed very predictable, the characters familiar, but H.L. Burke packs surprising twists and powerful moments between her characters. I couldn’t put the second half of the book down and I can’t wait for the sequel to come out next year.

Any fan of good, imaginative fantasy will love Lands of Ash. H.L. Burke is a wife of a soldier, and her experience comes through, particularly with Karvir’s wife and daughters. Strong characters, magic, danger, and heart-pounding action is painted across the pages of this fantastic book.

You can buy Lands of Ash from Amazon!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: The Extraction List

The Extraction List

by Renee N. Meland

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

B00V8KADEY.01.LZZZZZZZIn the wake of an economic collapse in the United States and a plague that devastated Europe, the world is a darker place. Crime is rampant in the US, particularly juvenile crime. When Riley’s brother is killed by gang violence, her mother goes on a Crusade to save the children. The Parental Morality Act is passed, and Riley’s mother is the face of this controversial legislature. If a parent is found unfit to raise their children for committing a crime, unemployment, alcoholism, or many other reasons, their children are placed in a boarding school run by the government.

Children live in fear of the day government agents will come and take them. When Riley’s name ends up on the extraction list, despite her mother’s prominence, she is forced to flee. Riley is plunged into danger as her mother and her mother’s friend Bo make contact with a guide, a man who sneaks children and their families out of the country. Cain is a dangerous man, but will he be enough to guide Riley to safety?

This young adult novel is a fast-paced read, thrusting you into the dark, dystopic future. What starts as a good idea, to save children, spirals so far out of control. Claire, Riley’s mother, is forced to confront the horrors she helped create when she championed the Parental Morality Act. The writing flows swiftly, leaving you wanting to keep turning the pages. This story is unflinching when tackling the world that Riley is put into.

The Extraction List is a great read, illuminating the problems of depending too much on the government to change behavior of its citizens. Change through force will never be lasting change. And force is the only tool the government has at its disposal. So be careful the power you give your government. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

The Extraction List is avalable from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: Spirit of Life

Spirit of Life (Rise of the Five Orders 3)

by Autumn Brit

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

91wuXBO2NKL._SL1500_War is coming. Sinika, the power-hungry fire elemental has taken control of the Church of the Four Orders through murder, blackmail, and betrayal. He wants vengeance on Niri for almost killing him in the Temple of Dust and to ensure the Church’s rule is absolute throughout the land.

The only chance for our heroes is to return the four Spheres to their proper place in the world. But only the Sphere of Air is in the right place. The Sphere of Earth is in the dungeons of their enemies, the Sphere of Fire was lost to the seas, and the Sphere of Water was sent to the spirit realm. Without this balance, the world is doomed to Sinika’s tyranny.

The odds of success are long as the Church launches its assault against the land of the Kith. The last free groups of elementals make their stand while Niri, Lavinia, Darag, and Ria set out on their quest to reclaim the missing spheres.

Autumn ups the action with this one. What had been skirmishes between elementals in the last book turn into full on war. She uses creative blends of powers and magic, weaving together all the powers she had introduced into a conflagration of exciting, fantasy war. Her characters have to rise to the occasion.

If you loved the last two, I don’t need to twist your arm to read this one. It is fast paced and a great end to a wonderful Fantasy trilogy. Autumn had to juggle quite a few story lines and she brought them all together in the end, answering the last lingering questions of the series. If you love fun Fantasy, then the Rise of the Five Orders trilogy will delight you as you fall in love with the world and the characters.

You can buy Spirit of Life from Amazon!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: Blood of the Fallen (Blood Scrolls Trilogy 1) by Poppy Reid

Blood of the Fallen (Blood Scrolls Trilogy 1)

by Poppy Reid

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

A1c9ZO68mEL._SL1500_On the eve of the Tyran’s attack on a small, Elven village, a Tyran warrior named Villid is approached by a Seer. Villid respects the Seer and listens to the old man’s prediction that cataclysm will befall the world if the Tyrans kill the Elven seer. But the Tyran warleader is bent on exterminating the elves. Villid’s loyalties are torn and he makes a fateful decision.

Aya is a young, Elven woman, an acolyte of the Elven seer helping her village get ready for a festival. But horror descends as the Tyrans attack, and Aya finds herself saved by a Tyran warrior. Forced to join with Villid, the pair are hunted by the Tyrans as they search for the Elven seer. But enmity burns in Aya’s heart. Her people were just butchered by Villid’s. Can they work together, or will their races bitter history drive them apart?

Blood of the Fallen is a fun read. Villid is torn between his loyalty to his people and his loyalty to the Seer, forced to make a moral decision. Aya starts out as a weaker character, the innocent waif, but she gets her eyes opened by the far more world-wise Villid as the pair are both the hunters and the hunted. The plot takes a number of twists and turns and at the end, I was left wondering what would happen next.

Poppy Reid’s first book might not be the most original fantasy plot, but it is written with heart and with characters that you’ll come to care for. I enjoyed this book immensely. Poppy is just starting out, but I know she’ll have a great writing career ahead of her. So if you love a fun Fantasy with great characters, you’ll love Blood of the Fallen!

You can pick up Blood of the Fallen  from Amazon and Amazon UK

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: Born of Water (Rise of the Fifth Order Book 1)

Born of Water (Rise of the Fifth Order Book 1)

by Autumn M. Brit

Reviewed by JMD Reid

81vG6hkWFyL._SL1500_On the night of the summer solstice festival, Niri, an acolyte of the Church pf the Four Orders, hunts through the streets of to find the girls he had witnessed during the ceremony. The girl had shone with potential—she was an Elemental. And Niri had to find her. Niri was a water elemental, like all elementals, she was raised by the Church, taken from her family at a young age. And if she doesn’t find this girl and returns empty handed, she knows her punishment will be sever.

But when she finds Ria, the potential, with her best friend Lavina and Lavina’s brother Ty, Niri can’t bring herself to ruin this girl’s life. But when a group of armed men accost the group, Ria uses magic. Not elemental powers, but the forbidden arts that had caused a war a thousand years ago.

Panic fills Niri. She knows that the Curse, a shape-changing beast bred to hunt down mages, is even now coursing from the Temple of Solaire to hunt them down. Niri can’t stand by and let this young, innocent girl be killed and flees with Lavinia, Ria, and Ty by boat, sailing south to the lost Temple of Dust where, according to a message from Niri’s mentor, answers might be found.

Born of Water is a fun read. Autumn sets the stage right from the beginning, putting you in Niri’s panic mind as she searches the city for Ria while reflecting on the cruelties the Church of the Four Orders is capable of committing. When she decides to betray her order and join the youths in flight, you understand why.

The journey is full of much bickering. Niri is the oldest, but she’s barely an adult, and Ria and Lavinia are teenagers. Their flight is punctuated by teenage squabbling and angst that seems quite real, but can be a little tiresome.

But the book really shines with the magic, from the way Niri’s eyes cry tears of lavender when she works magic, to the battle between elementals. The action scenes are crisp and imaginative, with some creative uses of the powers. The book has a level of adrenaline through much of it that keeps you reading, wanting to find out what new obstacle the band of four will have to contend with as they sail the world. And while the teenage angst can be annoying, it fades as the four work through their problems.

If you’re a fan of fantasy and great world building, then you’ll love Born of Water. I can’t wait to start reading the sequel, Rule of Fire. Born of Water is a great foundation for a fantasy series!

You can buy Born of Water from Amazon. Follow Autumn on twitter @Weifarer and check out her blog.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: The Wastelanders by Tim Hemlin

The Wastelanders

by Tim Hemlin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

In the future, ecological disaster has struck the world.

51xGYBugSbL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_The US has survived by building domes to protect their city and desalination plants to provide water. The great President Litz kept the country from sliding into chaos by bending the Constitution. The Cartel, the company that owns the desalination plants, is the greatest political power in the country.

Those that disagree with the direction of the US, who yearn for political or religious freedom, or have fled the rules of society  dwell in the Wastelands of the central United States. These Wastelanders are a diverse group of cults, opportunist, and criminals.

When Bernie Hawke, a former cop turned security officer, had a bad bout of food poisoning, his life was saved. Desalination Plant #23 in the Houston Bubble was destroyed and Bernie becomes the suspect. He was conveniently sick and, worse, his son Joseph had left the Bubble to join one of the ragged groups existing outside the control of the country.

Now Joseph is wanted for the terrorist bombing.

Bernie has to deal with the suspicious HomeSec while trying to discover if his son really is a terrorist.  As he searches, he stumbles onto a vast conspiracy that will change the direction of the country.

Tim Hemlin weaves the lives of multiple characters into his SciFi, political thriller. The plot twists and turns in a fully realized world. Tim has a varied and vivid cast, each with their own motivations and goals colliding together. If you’re a fan of Sci-Fi, thrillers, and a fast-paced plot, then you’ll enjoy this story.

You can pick up The Wastelanders for  from Amazon

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: The Universe Builder: Bernie and the Putty

The Universe Builder: Bernie and the Putty

by Steve LeBel

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

What if God got a C- in Universe Building 101?

UntitledThis one sentence blurb captured my imagination and I had to buy this book. Steve LeBel has created a unique world were Gods work for the Company building universe for reasons. The reasons don’t matter, what matters is the fascinating why they build their worlds as they try and create new and interesting realities.

Enter Bernie. He’s wasn’t the best student in school. He has some difficulty with ethics (he foolishly believes higher life forms shouldn’t be snuffed out at the whim of their creators). But he is the son of the famed builder, so Ezrah (head of HR), with the urging of his secretary Suzie, decides to gamble on hiring young Bernie, assigning him to Shemal’s department.

Only there’s one problem. Bernie’s childhood rival and bully, Billy, is Shemal’s nephew, and Billy is looking to get payback on Bernie. As Bernie tries to build his first universe and pass his probation period, Billy begins to sabotage him to get Bernie fired.

With the help of his friends Suzy and Lenny, Bernie fights back against Billy’s attacks on his Universe. But unbeknownst to Billy, higher life had formed on his Universe and the inhabitants, led by Alcandor struggle to understand the cataclysm befalling their world.

Steve has created an absolutely interesting world. The Gods exist in a world not unlike ours. They go to school, they have jobs, they get married and have kids. But they also create universes and its fascinating reading about Bernie and Billy’s war as Bernie has to fix every problem Billy causes.

And while there war is going on, he explores how primitive people attempt to explain the events beyond their understanding as Alcandor’s people are afflicted by Billy’s attacks. The characters are great, and Bernie and Suzy have a cute relationship that grows so slowly as the dense Bernie finally realizes Suzy is more than just his friend.

You will not be disappointed by The Universe Builder. You can buy it for $4.99 on Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather