Friday, November 29, 2013

Abominable Book Review


By Dan Simmons

Little Brown and Co.

October 22,2013

1/5 Stars


        As a writer you are taught a few things right off the bat.  Things that publishers and editors will never deal with.  Things such as too much exposition and a plot that moves too slowly to engage the reader.  Also, you are taught that if you promise the reader something you had better make good on your promise.  It is the idea of Chekov’s gun, “If you put a gun on the mantle piece in act 1, you better fire it at some point.”

      I would like to submit to you, my fine reader; that Dan Simmons has actually made every single one of these mistakes as well as a few more in Abominable.  An aptly titled work, not for the story but for the quality of it.  I will begin by telling you that under no circumstances would I recommend reading this book and I was not furnished with it by the publisher.  So I’m $12 in the hole here.  I’m hoping to make sure you aren’t.  There will be SPOILERS and I try not to do this but in this case it is necessary so.  If you don’t want to be spoiled, then STOP READING THIS REVIEW NOW!  But if you are going to follow my advice and not read the book or you don’t care about spoilers please continue.


      The first problem I have with this book is simple.  It is TERRIBLY BORINGLY LONG!  The book wears out it’s welcome while talking about Alpine style mountain climbing circa 1925 for the first 400 pages!  Yes, you get to read about how they did it in old days for 400 glorious pages.  Thanks Mr.Simmons, but no thanks.  This I might have been able to muster if the work then, around 429 didn’t tantalize you with stories about yetis only to drop the subject completely only a couple of pages later.  Obviously trying to foreshadow future events…  But not really…

       Second, the author decides that the characters in it are so interesting and exciting that every time we learn some new fact about one particular character named, Deacon.  The entire conversation and paragraph should stop as if to say, “Dun, dun, dun…”  There is an entire section near the end of the book where there are people hunting our four main characters and we find out that Deacon is a Buddhist and the entire book stops while he talks about why and how he became one.  Making us think this is somehow important or interesting.  I could have left Deacon completely alone considering how poorly characterized he was and he certainly fails in his mentorship of Jake Perry our main character so I’m not entirely sure why as a reader we should have cared one iota about Deacon.  But Dan Simmons obviously loved him to death.

        Third, the entire book is told in limited 3rd person until we reach Part 3 which is around 500 pages in and then the author switches to first person.   The problem is that the author’s conceit about the book is that it’s a found journal.  I’ve never known anyone to write a journal in third person and the author even highlights this himself in the introduction to part 3 by trying to explain why 2/3 of the book was written that way.  It was sloppy and the book’s story up until that point was so unnecessary that it could have and probably should have started with Part 3

        Fourth, the book breaks a fundamental promise to the reader.  This book is a horror book where there will be yetis.  Many reviews have talked about the reader feeling as if, for some reason this should have been a horror book and it wasn’t.  That’s because the author basically plays a Scooby Doo on the reader.  Except that in Scooby Doo you are EXPECTING the monsters not to be real.  It is supposed to be a mystery.  This book’s lead up was framed in such a way that it made the mystery be the excuse for the story not the reason for it.  Unfortunately, the author was actually trying to make you believe that the mystery was the book.  He acknowledges this many times in Part 3.  And the worst part about this is that the reader never sees this coming.  Part 3 begins on page 444 of a 663 page book.  Which means that by the time the reader realizes that he/she has been duped they figure they might as well read through the rest of the book.

          Finally, I would like to say that this book is the most unimaginative drivel that I’ve ever had to waste 663 pages of reading on.  It was like watching a bad made for TV movie, where there wasn’t the budget for monsters so they had to make them imaginary.  And better still, in made for TV movie style the villains were Nazis.  The actual text and plot of this book don’t even pertain to the subject of this blog but I was reviewing it because other publications had the book in their best of October 2013 features.  It isn’t horror, science fiction, or fantasy.  It’s historical adventure fiction and horrible adventure fiction at that.  I’ve read worse books this year, but none from award winning authors and none that were so terribly long!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Grimm Fairy Tales” Robyn Hood: Wanted Graphic Novel Book Review

Grimm Fairy Tales: Robyn Hood: Wanted

Larry Watts

Diamond Book Distributors


Pub Date   Nov 19 2013

3/5 Stars

         When I picked this up it was because I had been meaning to get into the Grimm Fairy Tales series for quite a while.  I heard a lot of good things about it; and thought this one might be the place to start.  Grimm Fairy Tales comics are basically the theme or idea of a fairy tale or traditional archetype world and hero and put them into our world.  They are kind of like urban fantasy comic books.  This one keeps shifting from a medieval Nottingham and a modern day city.  Eventually the two worlds collide and madness ensues.  It’s not a bad story, if a little predicable.  I really liked the cover art.  All the covers are full page layouts in the back of the book.  But the panel art itself, I found a bit lackluster and much to light in most places.  I was a little put off by how much pastel seemed to be used in this book.

        Overall, a fun book.  But with stuff like Fables out there; I think they have a long way to go to compete.

Evil Ernie Volume 1: Origin of Evil Graphic Novel Book Review

Evil Ernie Volume 1

Origin of Evil
Jesse Snyder and Tim Seeley

Diamond Book Distributors

Dynamite Entertainment

Pub Date   Dec 31 2013

2/5 Stars

      As a side note here I would just like to say that I really like reviewing graphic novels and while the site has been a little light on them in the past I’m hoping to do more of them.  If anyone would like to contact me about reviewing their graphic novel please email me at  Thanks…



              Evil Ernie is a horror based comic that stars a serial killer as a demonic kind of “hero.”  Who is basically just out to do one gorey thing after another until you’re just sick to death of it.  The art is good in places in this six issue volume.  But not anything overly impressive.  I was also a bit put off by the reasoning of the whole book.  I guess there really was none, but I would have appreciated a little more in department of explanation.  Lord knows they had the room to do it.  I suppose that’s my problem with the series in general.  There just doesn’t seem to be enough connective story tissue holding all the gore together to make me care what happens next.  Also, ripping off the Watchmen smiley face button seems kind of poor taste to me.

            I would not under and circumstances purchase this volume.  But if you are a fan of the series, you get six issues, some behind the scenes writing that may or may not appear in the comics.  Also, there are some covers in the back of the volume as well.  All full page and all very well done.  The best thing about this set are the extras.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders Book Review

Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders

Richard Ellis Preston Jr.

Amazon Publishing

Pub Date: Jul 2 2013

3/5 Stars


         Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders is a tale set in the frame work of the old adventure stories.   Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow the movie is an obvious example of this or even Indiana Jones.  But the problem with Romulus Buckle is not the setting or the way the story was told.  No the problem, is Romulus himself.  He is a very broadly drawn hero character.  He kills but feels bad about it, he has a forbidden love, and a strict obligation to his family.  If any of these had been really expanded upon I think the book would have been excellent.  He is just an archetype, a plot device, he moves things forward.  There are far too many crew members in this relatively short book to even remember all their names.  This too is a little bit of a problem toward the end.  The author must have been aware of this because during what is supposed to be poignant funeral scene the names of the dead aren’t even mentioned.  I really loved the two characters Sabrina and Max.  Both women were incredibly well characterized and both had exciting and interesting backstories with the author going deeply into both their emotional motivations and their thoughts about things.  Perhaps these two characters should have taken the place of old Romulus Buckle.  Because they were certainly the real captains of this story.  Even if he was the Captain of his airship.  While Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders is by far one of the most steampunky books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.  It certainly needed a little more focus on it’s story and while the early climax might have been fine in theory.  In practice, I think it bogged down the rest of the book just when the plot was starting to get interesting.

             I also think that the book’s beginning was a bit too long.  The lead up to the climax was far too uninteresting and while there was a certain aspect of all these people joining together to go on this mission.  As the reader one knows very little about the world or it’s characters to begin with for us to care about new people so close to the beginning.  While there was a definite need for those people to be there, perhaps adding them in a more interesting way or perhaps making they, themselves more interesting characters would have worked better for what seems like a very plodding first half.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Last to Rise Book Review

Last to Rise

Francis Knight

Orbit Books

Pub Date: Nov 26 2013

4/5 Stars

         “Goddess save me from idiots and holy men..”

                                                      Rojan, Last to Rise.


       I have to admit that Last to Rise was a very anticipated novel for me.  It is the third and as far as I know final book in a trilogy of books, which the first one was Fade to Black which came out back in January of this year.  Yes an entire trilogy in a year.  The book, as part of the trilogy is amazing.  Everything is coming to a head, the Storad are at the gate; literally.  Things are going to get much worse before they get better.  The story is well handled and while there are new characters introduced.  None shine as brightly as the characters who have been there from the beginning.  I find myself at a loss when I talk about Last to Rise because with the trilogy over I mostly think about the trilogy as a whole.  Nothing ends the way one might expect and I have to admit Last to Rise has one of the best Epilogues I’ve ever read.  No matter what Francis Knight writes next, I definitely NEED to read it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Unbound Book Preview(First 8 Chapters)

The Unbound

Victoria Schwab


January 28, 2014


        Unbound starts right from where the Archived left off.  I love books that do that.  But what’s more, if you haven’t read the Archived you are pretty much fully updated by the time you hit around chapter 3 or 4.  Which is also excellent.  As much as I really enjoyed the Archived I have to say that this book seems even better.  Being introduced to more characters and potentially having Mackenzie getting into even more trouble.  Seems like a definite plus for not only this book but the series.  All the great stuff is back from the Archived.  The Histories, the Archives, Wesley(yes girls, I know), and even more emotionally engaging dramatic stuff that this series is definitely known for.  I have to say that I would put this author’s dialog scenes against anyone else in the world.  They are engaging, interesting, and emotionally charged in a way that you really get to care about the characters.  I cannot wait to read the rest of this book.  As much as I loved the Archived, I can only imagine how much better this book will be.  If you want to read the first 8 chapters for yourself head over here.  And read them.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Star Wars Lockdown Book Review

Lockdown: Star Wars (Maul)

Joe Schreiber

Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra


Pub Date   Jan 21 2014

3/5 Stars


     The premise of Darth Maul Lockdown is an incredibly interesting one.  A pre-Phantom Menace Darth Maul is set to a prison colony where he must not reveal his true identity in order to get to a arms dealer who is supposedly going to allow him to make some kind unique deal.  The whole thing made more complicated by the fact that he cannot use his force abilities.  Also, the prison colony holds fights between prisoners that are bet on and televised.  All of this makes for one pressure cooker of a story.  Except it doesn’t…

      The book is too long to support it’s story and I won’t spoil anything here but the last 25% of the book is better than the other 75%.  There are numerous characters introduced, point of view characters change repeatedly.  The book feels like it needed another couple of final edits.  In fact, one of the most interesting characters in the entire book seems to be revealed from no where when the book is 2/3 of the way finished.  I found myself wondering why we as readers had to suffer through this incredibly boring preamble to the good part of the book.  Only for the book to quite abruptly end.  And I do mean abruptly.  I would have either liked to read another one hundred pages with this new character or simply had the boring middle part of the book be replaced by this.  I also felt that the attempt to make Darth Maul a kind of anti-hero also fell pretty flat.  Especially in the end when it seems like he had no character arc.  So if he wasn’t supposed to be the hero, making him a little more villainous might have been a better move.  Not that he wasn’t villainous at times in the book.  But over all, as I said it seemed like the author was trying to make him an anti-hero.  I haven’t read a Star Wars book in a little while so I was eager to read this.  I’m glad I read it, but it certainly could have been a better book.  The author proved that in the last 25%.