Alice Takes Back Wonderland by David D Hammons – A Review

A Copy of this book was provided to me by Netgalley in Exchange for an Honest Review!

As always lets start with the blurb: “After ten years of being told she can’t tell the difference between real life and a fairy tale, Alice finally stops believing in Wonderland. So when the White Rabbit shows up at her house, Alice thinks she’s going crazy.

Only when the White Rabbit kicks her down the rabbit hole does Alice realize that the magical land she visited as a child is real.

But all is not well in Wonderland.

The Ace of Spades has taken over Wonderland and is systematically dismantling all that makes it wonderful. Plain is replacing wondrous, logical is replacing magical, and reason is destroying madness. Alice decides she must help the Mad Hatter and all those fighting to keep Wonderland wonderful.

But how can she face such danger when she is just a girl?

Alice must journey across the stars to unite an army. She discovers that fairy tales are real in the magical world beyond the rabbit hole. But they are not the fairy tales she knows.

Fairy tales have dangers and adventures of their own, and Alice must overcome the trials of these old stories if she wants to unite the lands against Ace.

With the help of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White and heroes old and new, Alice may have the strength to take back Wonderland.

I find myself torn with this one. On the one hand, I really honestly enjoyed myself with it, for the most part. The re-imagining of the various fairy tales were inspired and unique for one. The idea, for example, and Snow White is a booze runner was hilarious, and that she was having a feud with Red Riding Hood was just the right amount of insane.

The basic story here is that Alice in Wonderland really happened, and that Alice is not a girl from the Victorian era of England, but rather a girl from our time. Apparently, the “rabbit hole” that connects the dimension of Wonderland to ours is almost a wormhole, and echos of events that take place in Wonderland and its fairy tale neighbors escape to our world, and become the books we read. Because Wormholes don’t follow time and space laws, you end up with the story of Alice going to another reality and becoming a book written in the past, for example.

When Alice gets back home however, no one of course believes her in regards to her adventures, and they start drugging him with anti schizophrenia and ADHD medications. This was something I could understand, as today parents frequently heavily medicate their children.

Eventually Alice grows up, and around 17 years old sees the White Rabbit, who steals her meds, and drags her back into Wonderland, where all hell has broken loose…because Wonderland is changing.

From there Alice goes on a journey to find a way to save Wonderland. She meets a colorful cast of characters, deals with a few challenges, and then the one thing that pisses me off about the book occurs.

Romance happens. Suddenly, without warning, and without any logical reason I could see.

One of the first people Alice meets is Peter Pan, who tells her that she is a Fairy Tale to him as he remembers his book before he came to Neverland. She knows Peter Pan as a fairy tale.

She askes for his help and they team up after she helps him solve some issues. They act, for the majority of the book, as just a pair of friends. No real hints of romance or anything. Then suddenly after a major battle…Peter kisses her, and next thing you know the two are inseparable. I had to sit there and think for a minute pondering if I missed something.

I did not.

The ending in fact happens the way it does SOLELY because of the two of them being suddenly in love.

At least the ending did not sequel bait.

Overall I enjoyed the book but the ending honestly soured it for me. If the romance had made sense I would have been fine with it, but it did not. Not for me at least.

I rate this a 3/5 and suggest it to anyone who likes twisted fairy tales. Honestly, they are the best part. Alice is nice and all, but when you meet Pinocchio you will smile broadly, I promise.

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Quick Post: Somehow I got into the World of Warcraft Legion Alpha

So I took screenshots, since according to the email there is no NDA or anything.  Its an Alpha so a few shots even had errors I was getting.  The starting area felt good, fit the Demon Hunters, although I got REAL TIRED of hearing them say “I have sacrificed everything, what have you sacrificed?!” over and over again.

Stupid emo Demon Hunters.

As a class, the Demon Hunter is kinda neat.  Felt strong, fun, and a bit more mobile.  Granted, all thats available for testing is a literal hour and a half of gameplay right now, so who knows.  Also, the tank spec is locked out so you can only test the DPS spec for them.

The end is when you are going to escape Mardun and hit BT.  So hopefully they open that up so I can continue with the testing.  I will take my screenies, and maybe even some video at some point.

A Message from the Madhouse

So lately, I have been….meh. It usually happens around this time of year actually, where I get kinda blah.

Nevermind that this year other shit has been going on that is draining my brain.

So for now, except posts to really slow down. One review a week, generally on Friday, for the foreseeable future.

Other posts will appear when time permits.

Gotta get my head on straight folks.

Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter by Kent Wayne – A Review

So I picked this little novella up due to the hilarious ads that a fellow blogger, Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha, writes for it. He is the author by the way. I mention this because unlike a large portion of my previous reviews, this was a purchase by me, and not given to me.

Not that would really change how I write about this. Lets start with the Blurb from Goodreads:

“In the far future, humanity has settled Echo, where it has endured over a thousand years of dark age. Corporations and government have merged, becoming the oppressive authority known as the Regime. Military and police have merged into the Department of Enforcement, their only mission to crush a huge rebel network known as the Dissidents. Over half the planet is covered by decaying cityscapes and the elite live high above; removed and remote from the populace on the moon-city of Ascension. Hope lies in one man, a bitter and crippled former Enforcer named Atriya. But before he can break the cycle of darkness and ignorance on Echo, he has to do it within himself.”

Lets be honest here: This needs work. Not on the technical level no. The world building in this volume is fascinating, and the mythos are well done. Further, knowing that Kent was a former military man (I think Marines) lends the military bits some authenticity, as well as the philosophical bits about being a solider versus a warrior. The one action scene in the book is very well done as well.

There is a LOT of Philosophical bits too. More then I would care to have in a “sci fi dystopian action story” that is billed as having cybernetic ninjas. In fact, the only time a ninja is referenced is at the tail end of the story…when we hit my major issue with this novella.

Its not a story. Its pure setup. It ends in a blatant cliffhanger and the entire time in the novella is spent building up the main characters mental issues and his “approaching shatter”, a term they use to describe the moment when a Crew members world basically falls apart due to stress and they can’t take the pressure anymore.

What I got from reading this mostly was a sense that the author himself was trying to work through some issues he himself might have been having. Maybe things he had to do while in the service, or his own philosophical beliefs.

Its not bad, its actually really interesting.

But the fact that the “story” by itself goes nowhere pisses me off. I paid $3 for this, and I wanted a story. I got an ending that literally could have had an announcer at the end going “Join us Next Time as we find out what happens in the Warehouse Raid!”

Now, Kent is working on “Volume 2” which at the last post I saw of his was at something like 32k words.

My hope is that he gives those who already purchased Volume 1 a discount or even gives Volume 2 to us for free, because frankly I am not going to pay for another Volume with the possibility that there is no ending again. Also I suggest that once Volume 2 is created, that Kent takes both Volumes and combines them into a single story and takes Volume 1 off the market.

I give this a 3/5. The lack of ending absolutely kills it for me. Completely and irrevocably. And I am really tired of authors doing this.

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The Shootout Solution, Genrenauts Episode 1 by Michael R Underwood – A Review

A Copy of this Novella was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an Honest Review

First up, as always, we have the blurb: “Leah Tang just died on stage.
Not literally.
Not yet.

Leah’s stand-up career isn’t going well. But she understands the power of fiction, and when she’s offered employment with the mysterious Genrenauts Foundation, she soon discovers that literally dying on stage is a hazard of the job!

Her first job takes her to a Western world. When a cowboy tale slips off its rails, and the outlaws start to win, it’s up to Leah – and the Genrenauts team – to nudge the story back on track and prevent major ripples on Earth.

But the story’s hero isn’t interested in winning, and the safety of Earth hangs in the balance…”

So this caught my eye. I had heard whispers here and there about this concept, this idea. A series where the idea that all genres of fiction, from Romance to Fantasy to Historical Fiction were real, and that there were people who would police them.

This is the first in a series of Novella’s exploring a team whose job is to go into these places, and correct the Story.

The basic idea is that each of these worlds follow the general Genre conventions of their particular style. Western’s are categorized as being gritty, with clear Heroes and Villains. Fantasy has your wizards and dragons. Sci-Fi with its spaceships. Spy World would have non stop skullduggery. And each of these places affect Earth via Ripples. When a world gets out of balance, we get affect, generally in a negative way.

In this book, the Western world goes off the rails, with the Bad Guys actually defeating the Hero and making off with a ton of loot. Its up to the Genrenauts, and their new recruit Leah Tang to fix it.

While the book is short (it is a novella after all) I could not help but get sucked right into the concept. Everything is explained just enough to get me going. The characters are great and interesting, and they included both our main character who is an Asian Female (this is rare as hell) and even had a Transgender lady (male to female). It comes up briefly, and then just moves right on. Its well done, and fun.

And that’s the biggest draw here. The entire book is just FUN. Its not deep, or meaningful. You won’t find answers to your own self doubt or anything here. But you will find action, adventure, and just a generally fun time.

I honestly can’t wait for the next book in this series. I want to see where things go!

I rate this a solid 4/5. If the concept interests you I urge you to grab this up, read it, and become a fan like me. Also its like $3 for the Kindle edition, so no excuses folks! Bookworms really should give this a read!

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The Builders by Daniel Polansky – A Review

A Copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

The Blurb: “A missing eye.
A broken wing.
A stolen country.

The last job didn’t end well.

Years go by, and scars fade, but memories only fester. For the animals of the Captain’s company, survival has meant keeping a low profile, building a new life, and trying to forget the war they lost. But now the Captain’s whiskers are twitching at the idea of evening the score.”

So I admit, freely, that the blurb explains almost nothing. But it gives you a solid idea none the less. This sounded like a story of betrayal, revolution, and vengeance. And you know what? It delivers on all these fronts.

Firstly, I ended up grabbing this book because of the cover. It showed animals, and I have a thing for animals acting like people in fiction. I love the Redwall series, for example, and movies like The Secret of Nimh, Watership Down, and the Wind in the Willows. Basically, even as an adult, I love these sort of books.

And honestly, I figured this would not be that dark. I was WRONG.

This is NOT for kids. If Redwall is for kids, this is for those who grew up on Redwall but want something more….gritty. This is the story of The Captain. That is the only name he is given. He is a mouse, who is described as having a “face of stone”. He is grizzled, violent, grim, smokes cigars, and wields a pair of pistols. He is known for being highly intelligent as well.

He is aided by the rat Reconquista, the owl Elf, the stoat Bonsior (and never call him anything BUT a Stoat, or a Frenchman), the opossum Boducia, the salamander Cinnabar, the mole Gertrude, and the badger Barley. And each of these characters has their own wit and charm. Cinnabar, for example, is nicknamed the Dragon and is known as a master gunfighter, faster then anyone else. Boducia is a sniper and camouflage expert. Bonsior is an assassin and thief. And so on.

Each is introduced in a flashback, but its a flashback about the Captain going back to recruit them for “one last job”. This story takes place after another story, but as far as I can tell that other story does not exist in written form, its simply referenced here. And the writing does a solid job of referencing things while keeping everything current.

This book is brutal with its action scenes. At one point, in order to recruit Barley for example, the Captain sends a pair of rats into his store to try to kill him. Barley goes berserk, basically turns the rats into paste, and then nearly kills the Captain. Everything is graphic and bloody and would make GRR Martin proud.

The world is also interesting. The story takes place in “The Garden” which is not really defined, geographically. However, there are references to real world places like France and the like. It makes me wonder just were this story takes place. In our world? In a world like ours? It got me thinking, and that is always a good thing.

The writing just oozes character, and its hard to really discuss this book without gushing over it. I saw no grammar problems or spelling errors, and the pacing was just spot on. At times, in fact, I forgot I was reading about animals. Each character had personality, especially the villains, and by the end of it I wanted more. There was no cliffhanger ending however, and everything was resolved by the end.

Overall I give this a solid 4/5. If you want a gritty but humorous story with a great setting, fun characters, and solid action, give the Builders a look. Bonsior would be most happy if you did, and trust me, you want to make him happy.