Posts Tagged ‘Liam Reviews’

It has been a little while since my last review and I couldn’t have received a better novella to read than Lee Mather’s First Kiss, Last Breath. The story is brimming with gripping characters, intense psychological problems – or maybe they aren’t – and beautifully laid out scenes filled with hope and despair.

Two very unique and broken young souls struggle to become whole again; each of the pair would be lost and alone in the darkness without the other. Andy is an artist of exceptional talent and he sees the world very differently from you or I. Andy lives with his dead and decaying grandfather; seriously, the man is dead. Andy is also tormented by a blue demon named Glib whom Andy painted. Glib sucked out his grandfather’s soul and appears to take a liking to anyone who gets close to Andy.

The other troubled individual is Nor, who takes a liking to Andy and his mystique. Nor is a rebellious young girl who wants nothing more than to be a journalist or writer which is a stark contrast to the doctor her father wants to her to be.  When the two main characters’ paths collide I wouldn’t say sparks fly but a budding attraction takes place that blossoms throughout the story as the pair becomes more involved in each other’s lives.

Some of the scenes are written so vividly it is as if Mather is holding our hand, dragging us along and forcing us to witness everything that Andy see and experiences right along with him; scenes such as Andy’s dead grandfather rotting in his chair, the carnage of a bus crash, a concert and a riot. The dialog and the realism truly shine brightly in this novella. The interactions between other characters an Andy in First Kiss, Last Breath are so spot on it draws you in and lends another aspect of added depth which gives a bit of strength to my favorite thing within the novella. The fact that Lee Mather never completely crosses the proverbial line between Andy’s reality and imagination with the demon Glib, even at the very end Andy leaves us with a bit of doubt was my favorite bit.

First Kiss, Last Breath is a great story, written superbly well, and the fast eye-opening pace leaves you wanting more until the final end. 9 out of 10 Liams for Lee Mather’s excellent work. I have already been telling many of my friends to check this one out and read it. It really is worth it. I have reviewed some of Lee Mather’s work before in the Fading Light Anthology, you can find my review here. Mather continues here with his strong writing style and gripping prose.

You can find Mather’s website here  and his twitter here.

 

 

Sean Farrell and Jimmy Cobb might just be two of the most deplorable human beings I’ve ever encountered in my readings. This definitely makes for an electrified atmosphere if you add in the fact that these two hoodlums are hellbent on revenge and crazy enough to try or do literally anything. Grip the bars tightly and prepare for impact from Farrell & Cobb in Ray Bank’s Wolf Tickets.

When Sean Farrell is swindled by his own girlfriend, Nora, for twenty grand and on top of that she steals his favorite Italian leather jacket, he doesn’t handle it very well. He kills the dog she left, calls up his army mate, Cobb, and boards a plane all the while mad enough to kill her on sight. Farrell and Cobb leave a trail of proverbial shit and piss so high in their wake that you could build a mountain with it. An attempt to obtain a gun during a run in with Goose, a “classy” drug dealer stuck in a wheelchair, instantly turns sour. This is only the beginning of their long list of impending troubles. Also, who knew how much damage could be done with steel-toed shoes, a sock filled with batteries, and a little army training? If you ever see these two guys in a bar, keep your head down and slowly walk away, or you will most likely end up with you balls shoved down your throat and nose broken, for the simple reason they didn’t like you breathing their air.

The true culprit behind the scenes is Nora’s ex – Frank O’Brien. You’ll find out more about him, but for now just keep in mind that he is very handy with a knife.

The  major strengths of Wolf Tickets lies in Ray Bank’s writing style. It’s gritty, it’s in your face, and it’s real. I don’t know much about the European haunts Farrell and Cobb hit-up since I’m from the States and they don’t let me out of the cage much, but if you told me that Mr. Banks wears cardigan sweaters and has never been near many of these places I’d call you a liar.

I did have some trouble with the vernacular in Wolf Tickets; the main characters’ common terms, speech and slang were extremely foreign to me and I had to do a little outside research on some of these terms. This didn’t impede the flow or stop me as a reader, but instead added a more authentic flavor and vibe to the read.

If you are looking for a gritty, action-filled tale where every fight scene makes you cringe with imaginary pain, you found it. Wolf Tickets seems a little short, maybe novella length-range, but it works perfectly and I wouldn’t have wanted the author to try and drag the story on. I can definitely see Farrell and Cobb getting themselves into a lot more trouble in the future as this duo is a dynamic combination of despicable badness.

Wolf Tickets gets 7.5 out of 10 Liams, although I don’t know about splitting the Liam in half  (his mom might be a tad unhappy with me if I tried that).  On a side note the addition of Post-It Notes is extremely funny. (Read the book to find out why or forever be confused.)

If you have yet to read anything from Blasted Heath Publishing make sure you do and quickly. I’m 2 for 2 on their novels and have been pleasantly surprised with the quality and uniqueness of the stories. Up next from them is Hot Wire, another novel by Gary Carson. (Previously reviewed his book, Phase Four Here).

Find Ray Banks Here.

 

(Here is Liam trying to do his best Farrel and Cobb Impression and being a shit)

Sword of Justice stars the hero of the Empire, Ludwig Schwarzhelm, in a tale riddled with deception, political intrigue, and chaos. I’ve been on a Warhammer Fantasy kick lately and this book by Chris Wraight has been sitting on my back burner for far too long.

The majority of the setting lies in and around Averland, a place Ludwig is intimately familiar with since childhood. Averland is currently in a state of what I would consider relaxed turmoil. While there is no clear Elector count to rule over the people and wield its runefang, the merchants and the two other opponents vying for power aren’t exactly crying about it as they continue to profit from the current lack of direction.

This brings us to the main point of conflict from which a multitude of problems arise and when I say a multitude, I mean a crapload. Ludwig is tasked by the Emperor Karl Franz to preside over the hearing between the two parties and select the next and rightful Elector ( in as lawful a manner as possible). In the meantime reports of Orcs massing around the outskirts is drawing a lot of attention. Ludwig decides to divides his loyal servants and each is anointed with a vital task. My personal favorite of Ludwig’s tools is the Spy/Counselor Verstohlen and his discovery of the “Joy Root”, along with the fact that he is the most interesting character in the entire book from my perspective.

The initial start to the book felt a tad heavy-handed until around page one-hundred or so and then things really started to heat up. Keep in mind that this is a two part book so Mr. Wraight does have a lot of wiggle room.

Lately I’ve been having a bit of a connection problem with some of the characters in the stories I’ve read, whether it is the side characters I found unmemorable or in this case the big man himself. With Sword of Justice, I absolutely loved Grunwald, Bloch, and Verstohlen. I would actually pay to read more about Verstohlen in a series of collected shorts or something of that nature. Ludwig to me is represented as the perfect, gruff, common man’s soldier, except he is a giant impassible object that can’t be defeated in combat by anyone or anything (as of yet). I think I prefer Verstohlenso much more because he compliments Ludwig perfectly in his ability to maneuver politically without stepping on toes and the his character’s back story flashes have me wanting to read deeper into his origin. I expected Ludwig to have more of a crafty old general side to him and less hot-headedness. As I said before, however, there is book two and plenty of space for character growth.

Near the end of this tale things are getting really, really messed up – especially if you keep waiting on a certain “someone” and their certain powers of chaos to rise up and just wreck havoc across the lands and slaughter everything. Bit of a spoiler – The ending has three major questions left unanswered and I’m dying to get the answers.

Overall I’d give Sword of Justice 7 out of 10 Liams. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great book and I’m completely hooked and rearing to start the next one. But I think I kept trying to compare Mr. Wraight’s book to the Ambassador Chronicles by Graham McNeill and it is an unfair comparison since I haven’t read those in such a long time. The epic conclusion lies with the next book, Sword of Vengeance, and I’ll be getting there shortly.

You can find Chris Wraight Here.

Liam’s Special Review!

 

Liam turned 1 year old today and in his honor, he is doing a special review over his favorite book!

The Big Boo Rescue!

I loved the huge colorful pictures on nearly every page. While the story is a tad long for a me, the size and entertainment this Classic Disney adaptation of Monsters Inc. provides is priceless. I try to tear out the yummy pages but my dad won’t let me!

Happy Birthday To Me!

 

(I LOVE MY BALL PIT!)

           When boasted as being “…one of the most unique novels you will have ever read…,” it piques one’s interest to challenge such a statement.   However, Lee Battersby’s  novel The Corpse-Rat King certainly fits the bill.

The style and flow of The Corpse-Rat King has a very author-specific and definitive edge to it, in which Battersby utilizes his distinctive voice to craft out such an atypical fantasy story. The storyline is pure brilliance and the world, characters, and imagination superb. But I found myself questioning the main character, Marius Helles, several times. As I never give out spoilers I won’t divulge too deeply in to this and it was my only qualm within the novel. In short, I found Marius to be a much too conflicted and diverse individual, his former roles and life experiences a tad too expansive for my liking.

That being stated, nothing beats a fresh and exciting fantasy novel, The Corpse-Rat King included. The rest of the cast play their parts admirably, especially the grateful or not-so-grateful dead. Dead villagers, dead mad kings, dead regal kings, lots of dead things in general and most of them seem somewhat confused of their deadness, including Marius and his somewhat of a companion, Gerd.

The majority of the conflict within this book lies with Marius trying to save his own skin and run away as far as possible from the task he has been anointed for by the unguided dead. They need a king to lead them and Marius is tasked with finding them one. Whether or not he finally wakes up from his self-serving ways and completes this task, you will only be able to find out when you pick up Battersybee’s  Novel and read it yourself.

Other elements within the novel worth noting are the underground backwater ways, pagan witchcraft on a guano-infested isle, gambling in a secret underground venue, the guttersnipe language of the streets,  and the simplistic ways and beliefs of the working class peons.  Each have their own passionate vibrancy brought to life as Marius journeys from one uncertain venture to the next.

I try not to focus on a story’s ending as much as the entire piece as a whole. Naturally, though, one tends to gravitate more towards the coup de grace – as it’s so vivid in your memories. That said – the last three-fourths of this book are beyond spectacular.  Lee Battersby definitely saved the best for last in this unforgettable tale of death, dead things, and more awesome dead stuff. I knocked a few Liams off due to the over-the-top complexity and diversity of lead character Marius, but The Corpse-Rat King still merited 7 out of 10 Liams.

(Liam is trying to cover up his deadness like Marius don Hellespont with a bathrobe.)

Guardian of Dawn is a free short story ebook by prolific Black Library author, William King. King is best known for his Space Wolves and Gotrek and Felix novel series set in the Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Fantasy settings respectively.

While only a short story, you can’t complain with the excellent writing quality and price in this little teaser of a tale that leaves you crying out for more.

Kormak is a knight within the order of the Guardian of the Dawn, a sect that is sworn to uphold an ancient treaty protecting the Children of the Sun from the Shadow or those known as the Moon’s Children.

Kormak first appears to us grievously wounded and banging on the door of a farmer’s cottage. Through a round of banter and persuasion Kormak is given entrance. In hindsight this might not have been the most fortuitous of situations for either party.

The farmer’s daughter is being threatened by the Children of the Moon. The farmer and his family beg Kormak to protect them and honor his order’s oath. Being the man that he is, Kormak is obligated to fulfill their request. While confronting his adversary the Shadow, an uneasy truce is formed; however,  even with that pact a morose conclusion is brimming on the horizon.

An astounding short story, made even more enjoyable by its free price tag. I can easily envision a wide series of short stories about this knight’s order and their quests compiled into a dazzling anthology.

As far as free short stories go, this deserves every bit of its 5 out of 5 Liams rating.

If authors of outstanding novels could be compared to baseball players mashing mind-blowing homeruns, then Madeline Ashby would test positive for a high dosage of synthetic steroids and robot growth hormone.  A captivating conglomeration of Stephen Spielberg’s A.I., a little mix of I, Robot, and even The Matrix seem to infiltrate their way into vN, Ashby’s first novel with Angry Robot Publishing.

A “young” von Neumann (vN) robot named Amy, lives in a healthy, happy, family environment with her human dad and robot mom but all that changes in a blink of an eye when granny decides to show up. After wholly devouring her grandmother, Amy unknowingly is infected with her crazed grandmother stuck inside her. Suddenly, innocent Amy isn’t so innocent after all and “… the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed..,” which makes Amy target number one in literally everyone’s eyes. Thrust together with an unscrupulous vN known as Javier, Amy is forcefully shoved down into the rabbit hole and has little hope of coming out unscathed.

Swivels and pivots in the story keep readers on their toes till the very end and even then there is no guessing in which direction this book could end. Though not my normal read, the ideologies for both the vN robots and the organic humans were played out admirably and realistically with varying and conflicting viewpoints.

The technique for authors known as world building can make or break a book. Another book reviewer, Shadowhawk, touches on the vital importance of the creation of a rich world in his review of The Hammer and The Blade by Paul Kemp. Ashby mirrors her very own creation, Amy, within her games she plays in the book, both of them designing vivid and fantastical creations down to the most miniscule detail with this under-appreciated skill which sometimes defines the difference between a good author and great author.  The garbage dump, the destroyed city of Cascadia, and the fabled vN safe-haven of Mecha are all beautifully designed places within an extremely developed world.

The underlying tones of pedophilia and vN abuse by their organic creators play a crucial role behind otherwise ulterior motives. Also, the fact that a  “global mega-church named New Eden Ministries, Inc,” was the prime investor for creating the von Neumann-type robots in an attempt to give companions to those left behind after the Rapture makes me smile inside at its paradox.

The writer inside me wishes the ending of this wonderful novel would have traversed across different paths, but in its conclusion Ashby had another, more astonishing finish you won’t see coming. It was close to a perfect 5 out of 5, but I found a few actions from my favorite character, Javier, to be contradictory to his current set path in life. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 Liams.

Here is the link to learn more about Madeline Ashby and her book, vN – The First Machine Dynasty.

(vN Robot Liam is trying to eat some synthetic keyboard food)

The words “Review” and “Void Stalker” are like drips of poisonous venom that breach the sanctuary of Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s hollowed out gothic hovel in which only the screams of tortured acolytes dedicated to Corpse-God of Mankind can be heard. The very fingers which type this text tremble at the mere impending notion of what heretical design Aaron could possibly implement in their demise, something akin to a chain-sword severing their hands into bloody, bone-chipped wrists.

The most startling change within this awe-inspiring final piece in the Night Lord Trilogy came to me with such shock, that I had to verify it was my favorite group of Night Lords being led by the noble Talos who committed such atrocities. Then, it dawned on me, perhaps I glossed over it or simply didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that these Demi-god warriors are truly pawns of Chaos. I felt cheated. In my heart I wanted Talos to return his Chapter to its former glory and take up the mantle left by the death of their former crazed Primarch.  Such is the foolish hopes and dreams of a simple fan; these dreams were smashed violently against the wall repeatedly, splitting flesh, breaking bone, and ripping asunder every last slim glimmer of delusional hope that this could be so. I blame these misguided fancies to the fact that Aaron Dembski-Bowden so craftily left the brutalization of the innocent inhabitants to the Night Lord’s former home world till the third book. It finally took hold that these Space Marines are truly one with the Chaos that rules them and they greatly enjoy it. Yet, still I find myself rooting for each and every one of them.

The ambience within this novel is so dark, gritty, and filled with a depth of Chaos that one can taste the Night Lord’s taint, feel their hatred, and see their skin-flayed cloaks billowing out as they come for you in the darkest night; only the soft scuttling of crushed skulls dragged across the  ground give away their presence. Every inch of writing within these pages lashes out with an unparalleled brilliance and foresight, summing up one of the greatest Warhammer trilogies thus far published by The Black Library.

The actions scenes left the reader in a jaw-dropping, drool inducing coma. Lending my friend the book to finish the trilogy, he preceded to text me about how “insanely freaking awesome” every battle was and then show his entire family the epic fight between Xarl and the loyalist marine champion. Apparently he is trying to lobby for a small motion-picture movie for Void Stalker and include this breathtaking duel as the cinematic trailer. I for one would love to see this.

Qualms with this masterpiece are few – a disagreement between Talos and Septimus leads to an altercation that seems extreme. Yes, Septimus went against Talos’s wishes but after all his servant has done for him, could this not be overlooked?

I hate giving away spoilers, but it is so hard not to and when the Eldar come to play, all that can be said is…. wow. The inevitable conclusion keeps the proverbial engines churning and perhaps my slim glimmer of hope for more Night Lords isn’t so distant after all.

I give this fantastic read 5 out of 5 Liams.