Want your Nerdy Item Reviewed? Here are the Rules

This is also now a page at the top. But I figured I would post it as well.

So I have gotten a couple of random requests to review things again. I figure I can open reviews up for those who are serious about it. I will only review certain things, and with certain guidelines and rules regarding them. Here are my rules, and how you go about requesting a review.

Be aware reviews will be done in video form. I no longer do written reviews.

Things I will review (Specific Rules Below):

1) Books
2) Games
3) Music
4) Comics
5) Movies
6) Loot Crates (of the Nerdy Variety)

Now, here are some specifics about the above categories. In ALL CASES you must be willing to provide the item you want reviewed. I am not spending what little money I have to buy a copy. Sorry guys.

Books:

I will accept books in EPUB or MOBI format. I do not do anything of an overtly sexual nature. I primarily read sci fi and fantasy. I will read the book until I either finish OR it loses me. Sorry but if the book can’t hold my attention that is a problem in and of itself. The book “getting better later” is not a valid excuse for poor pacing.

Games:

For video games, I need a copy of the game via Steam Key, GoG Key, or Humble Bundle Key. I do PC Games only, as I do not have any consoles. I tend towards almost anything but sports titles and anything akin to Dark Souls. Sorry, I have no tolerance for “git gud” games. I am also not a huge fan of MOBA styled top down games. Beyond that, I promise to play the game for a minimum of 2 hours. If I want to keep going after that I will. However, I have a 2 hour rule and if the game cannot hold my attention for those 2 hours, well, thats the end of it.

For Physical Games, I need a copy of the game. I can provide an address for it to be sent to, if need be. Beyond that I am pretty open to trying anything.

For Tabletop RPG games I prefer physical copies of the rules. If you prefer, you can give me a EPUB or MOBI formatted copy. I do adventures or systems. These will take a while however as I have to find time to play using the rules after reading em / play the adventure.

Music:

No Rap, Regge, Hip Hop or Country. I am willing to try anything else. I will review it song by song. I tend to prefer albums. MP3 or Physical release is acceptable. If digital, give me some album art please.

Comics:

Electronic format PDF / MOBI / EPUB or a physical version. Either or.

Movies:

Electronic format is fine. I don’t do horror or anything politically driven. Not my thing.

Loot Crates:

I like gaming, nerdy shit, tabletop games, wrestling. If your loot crate has nothing to do with these things please do not approach me. The answer will simply be no.

If you want me to review something, you can either contact me on Twitter via DM (@cbsa82) or by email at cbsa82@gmail.com

Be aware I may not accept it. If you just send me something randomly, there is no promise I will review it. If you want to see if I am willing its best to just ask me first. And I am picky. You need to WOW me.

Timeframe wise I promise that if I accept is I WILL review it. Just might not be immediate. I work a 40 hour a week job and have a personal life.

Also be aware I am a harsh but fair critic. I will tell you what I like, what I don’t like, and why.

For examples of my review style I present the following. First, my written reviews are a good idea of how I judge things.

A List of Books I have previously reviewed
Game Reviews I did for Vox Ludicus

And all video reviews will be in a format similar to the below video, and posted to that channel:

Liberty: Deception Chapter Zero by Travis Vengroff (A Comic Book) – A Review

Lets start with my usual disclaimer:

I was given this comic by the creator with the intent to provide an honest review.

And now I will add the following little EXTRA bit. I am a personal friend of the creator. In fact, I would consider him one of my two best friends. I got my wife, a gent named Dan, and Travis here. I have watched him work on this creation for a LONG time, provided some feedback here and there, played in the D20 Modern DND system he has been working on, hell even read part of the first draft of his script (which was so boring but he assures me he has changed it)

A Comic is a little outside my purview as it were. I am used to either video games, or books. And the occasional album. But a comic?

Lord of have mercy. Time to dive in.

Anyway, lets visit the Fringe, and delve deep into a world of lawlessness, gang rivalries, slavery, cannibalism, and the darker side of humanity.

——————————————–

THE ART.

So this was the high point for me. The art is very nice, pops out and conveys the action. Everything is really colored well. Here is an example panel.

P1_LIBERTY_ZERO_sample_01

Its all high quality! I cant really say much about it honestly, I enjoy it. And I hope that the art is just as solid in the upcoming series.

THE STORY.

This is a little issue, only 12 pages long and about 9-10 of it are actual story. And its very short. It basically tells about a group of gun runners going to do a gun run, an attempt at double crossing, and then quick violence. And some cannabilsm. Its ok, honestly. But very very short. I mean, I literally just summed it up right here, in these few sentences. Does it whet my appetite for more?

Well…kinda? I mean, its an interesting glimpse into the world of Atrius but its very very brief and all, but otherwise its kinda quick. It took me, even with examining the artwork and reading it twice, all of about 15 minutes to get through it.

This is my primary issue with single issue comics in general. I would much prefer a trade paperback book, and in general thats how I purchase comics when I do.

——————————————–

Overall what makes this interesting is the glimpse it provides. There is actually more if you are interested at all in this sort of world.

First, there is an offical preview of Issue 1 – http://imgur.com/gallery/2NMfT

The preview is honestly more interesting, story wise, then this little Zero issue haha. And interestingly enough, it appears to be mostly what I read back when I checked out his script. Looks a lot better with art.

Next, you can visit the offical website: http://www.thelibertycomic.com/home.html

And finally, you can visit his Kickstarter, which as of this posting ends in about 6 days: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/randomencounter/liberty-deception-vol-1-a-sci-fi-comic-adventure

I hope you all check this out. The project itself is very cool, and while honestly the Zero issue is kinda dull, the overall presentation and style makes up for it.

Liberty Endures!

Demonkin by T Eric Bakutis – A Review

This book was provided to me by the Author in exchange for an Honest Review

The Blurb from the Authors Site – “For years Jyllith Malconen ended lives and damned souls to avenge her family, only to learn all her victims were innocent. Now others like her, children twisted to hate, raise a new threat. Alone and haunted, Jyllith must infiltrate their Demonkin cult and stop them… even if it costs her soul.

Meanwhile, Kara Honuron’s journey to Tarna has taken its toll on family and friends. Before they can recover, an ancient demon attacks Tarna and scatters those she loves. Facing an enemy who seeks her complete destruction, Kara sets out to stop the demons once and for all. Pitted against each other on converging paths, these two young women will either save the Five Provinces …or doom them to a horrific fate”

This is the story of Jyllith. No. Really. She is the star. Well her and Ayrn/Tania.

I am going to try to be as spoiler free as possible with this review, as far as Book 1 goes. But if you have not read Glyphbinder, then stop right here. This book has nothing for you. Go and read the first, lest you be lost.

This book showcases Eric’s writing style, with fast paced action and well paced story. Again, much like before, not a single word is wasted nor a single scene pointless. Everything he does either builds up characters or expands on the world. And I absolutely love it.

The blurb really does explain this well without actually giving anything away. This really is the story of Jyllith. She is a main focus here. Kara actually gets very little “screentime” as it were till the end of the book. In fact, honestly, for me Kara was the weakest of the characters. She becomes more of a hormonal teenager then anything else, traumatized from the events in book one, and gaining a sort of “I have to save everyone alone” complex later on. Which honestly was what I was hoping to avoid seeing. She basically apparently decides that she is in love with Trell, and when he goes to sacrifice everything to save people, she flips out and tries to rescue him against something that she clearly has no chance of beating, and she knows it. But she does it for love! Love…for a man she has known at this point for 3 weeks, give or take.

See? hormonal Teenager moment. Blah.

Storywise, the book takes a breakneck pace and leaves you very little breathing room. Everything is tense, as it should be, given the circumstances. I found myself unable to put the book down, which is always a good sign.

However, the book has no ending. Its a cliffhanger. A hard, blatant, cliffhanger. It makes sense, in a way. This is the second book of a trilogy, but its hard for me to excuse it. The book just…ends, with a very clear “Join us next week as Kara continues to try to save the world!” with no real resolution of the events of this book.

Yes, Jyllith manages to do what she set out to do…partially. And Kara manages to do things…partially. But at the end of the book, nothing has really been resolved and things are even worse then when they started. And only Kara can save them, apparently.

This ending, combined with the fact that this is written as a squeal, are two problems I cannot forgive. For me, these things are a major strike against the book.

If someone had never read the first book and came to read this, they would have no idea why Cantrell, Jyllith, Byn, Sera, Aryn, Xander, Mellysa, and others are important. They would have no idea why they are connected, what made them who they are now. Nothing. It gets…somewhat explained in this novel, but in very small amounts and in passing.

And that ending. Ugh. That just aggravates me.

One thing I do want to point out involves the new character of Tania. And some parallels I noticed. Tania is a blind girl, who is an Earther. She specializes in Earth magic. Further, she is sassy, sarcastic, and learned how to see without using her eyes. Does this remind you of anyone reader?

If you said Toph, from the Last Airbender, you would be right! She is clearly inspired by Toph. Once I noticed this, well, I started noticing other parallels between these books and the last Airbender. Byn is Sokka, a solid physical styled fighter with a good heart and humor. Sera is Katara, a healer and fiercely loyal character. Kara is clearly Aang, mastering all forms of Glyphs/Bending. Aryn is Zuko, a scarred fire master trying to regain his place in the world. I started noticing these comparisons and have to wonder if Eric was subconciously influenced by Avatar. Granted, if you are gonna be inspired by something, you could do worse the The Last Airbender.

Overall, I would have to give this book a 3/5. For fans of Glyphbinder, its great. You get a real good look at Jyllith and learn a great deal more about her, and Aryn and Tania are fantastic as well. Hell, my personal favorite character was the demon general Abaddon and his interactions with Trell. Seriously. I need more Abaddon.

But the ending left me unsatisfied, and the lack of context for new readers is definitely an issue. So again, read Glyphbinder. If you enjoy that, then come and read Demonkin. And personally, I am excited for book 3. Get on it Eric!

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The Stolen Child by Peter Brunton – A Review

A Copy of this book was provided to me by the Author in exchange for an honest review.

The blurb: “There are roads that are not on any map. There are worlds beyond our own, where cities hang between the clouds and Guildships sail on steam and lightning.

There is a girl living on the streets of London, hunted by ruthless mercenaries and a boy made of shadows and smoke.

There is a place beyond the furthest edge of the Dreaming, where the Lady of The Falling Leaves is calling her home.

And there is a secret, buried in the heart of Rachael’s city, that will change our world forever.

The Stolen Child is a breathtaking young adult adventure that takes the reader from industrial chaos of modern London to the vast and impossible world of the Borderlands, a world of flying ships, floating cities, magical automata, and ancient wonders. Drawn together from across distant worlds by events that were set in motion before either of them was born, two young women discover a strange connection, and a friendship that will change their lives.”

This is a hard one to pin down for me. And there is a funny story to how I got a hold of this book. I use Reddit a lot both at home and work. I browse tons of subreddits on various topics. One of those was Star Citizen, and I ended up mentioning in a thread that I had started reviewing books. Then the author of this one contacted me, and here we are.

Strange places to get review copies. But I digress.

This is the story of two girls: Rachel, a homeless runaway living in London and Arsha, a girl living in the Borderlands, outside of our known reality and connected to a multitude of places via the Ways. You could get all that from the blurb, but the story is really hard to define, genre-wise. It has elements of Urban Fantasy, regular Fantasy, and a dash of what I can only call Steampunk, although its more like A Vanishing Glow as its magical tech not steam based (They use caged Lightning to power their airships, and the only magic they wield has to do with Fate).

First lets discuss the good aspects of the story. Firstly, it ENDS. That’s right, no cliffhanger, no poor ending. There is a solid ending that ties up everything about the primary conflict and story, and then leaves a door open for the inevitable sequel. Considering he calls this Book 1 its safe to assume there will be more adventures with Arsha and Rachel. Secondly, the world building is solid and the author is actually pretty solid at “show don’t tell”. He doesn’t drown you in exposition but instead focuses on the characters and story, letting the world build itself in your mind based on what is going on around everyone. And he does it well. Not perfectly, by any stretch. But well enough that it kept me turning pages and wanting to see where things went.

Also the world of the Borderlands is interesting to say the least. I want to know more about the Borderlands and how its structured, who the Guild really is and the various peoples of the world.

Now for a bit of the bad. And this is a personal issue rather then a technical one.

I cannot, for the life of me, stand Teen Angst. This book is a Young Adult novel. And its a solidly written one. But Rachel is a ball of angst and rage and issues. And it makes her, for me at least, unlikable. Arsha also frequently gets into fits of angst and “my life is terrible!”

Thing is, they have legitimate reasons FOR this angst. It makes sense in the context of the story. But I am not a huge fan of it, on a personal level. For Arsha, its not too frequent, but for Rachel? That girl is broken. She has had a terrible life and it shows. She has massive issues involving trust, and constantly tries to be strong and run from her problems. Every time someone tries to help she basically bites the hand that feeds, and it gets frustrating at times for me because I start to scream in my head “YOU IDIOT CHILD STOP BEING A NARDMUFFIN!”

Oh and there were a couple of grammar and spelling issues, but sadly I forgot to mark them down in order to send em to the author. Nothing major, and not really frequent. In a 400 page book I can recall 3 errors roughly.

Overall, this is a solid debut from a new author, and if you are interesting in a strange blend of Urban Fantasy and Magical Tech/Steampunk, you should give this a read. I rate this a 3/5. For me, it was pretty average at the end, but it was still a good story. And I am curious to see where it goes.

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Alistair Grim’s Odd Aquaticum by Gregory Funaro – A Review

A Copy of this Novel was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

The blurb, as always: “When Grubb, an orphan and runaway chimney sweep, entered the wondrous world of the Odditorium, his life changed forever. Apprenticed to the mechanical marvel’s strange proprietor, Alistair Grim, Grubb unfortunately must settle into his new position on the lam, as the whole of London is convinced that Alistair Grim is a villain bent on mass destruction. Grim, however, has come up with a plan to expose the real villain: Prince Nightshade, a wicked necromancer who wants the Odditorium’s power source for himself.

With the evil prince hot on their trail, Grim, Grubb and the rest of the Odditorium’s crew embark on a perilous adventure to find the legendary sword Excalibur: the only weapon capable of penetrating Nightshade’s magical suit of armor. As expected, their quest turns out to be anything but ordinary. Not only can the Odditorium fly, but it can also swim! And so the crew battens down the hatches and sets off on an underwater voyage to the otherworldly realm of Avalon, home to Excalibur. Along the way, they must battle a banshee assassin, sea monsters, and a witch who seeks revenge on Alistair Grim for stealing her magical objects.

But that’s not all. Unbeknownst to Grubb and the others, their fate has been written in an ancient Avalonian prophecy—a prophecy that holds the key to a destiny not even Alistair Grim could have possibly imagined.”

So before I really get into anything here, be aware of this: This is a sequel. To a book I personally have not read. And unfortunately, this book reads as a sequel.  Go read the first one if you are even remotely interested.

Because honestly, here is very little time spent on character development or interpersonal relationships, because its obviously been built up in the previous book.  Everything in this book was setup in the first.  EVERYTHING.

My biggest issue here was the fact that I was unaware it was a sequel. The blurb kinda hints at it, but doesn’t really make it clear. However, within a few pages it becomes very clear very quickly that things occurred in a book prior to this, major things, and these things are never really explained or gone over in any detail for those of us who are coming in mid-series.

Now, I don’t mind this generally. Plenty of book do this, but the issue here is that there are also a ton of books and even long running series that do not do this, and are actually able to be read in really any order, as each book is a self contained story.

The Dresden Files are a good example of this.

But my personal favorite example is The Elenium Series, by David Eddings.

I actually received the 3rd book of that series as a gift when I was a kid and did not know it was book 3. I read it, loved it, found it there were 2 other books, and went and read them in order.

And I missed NOTHING.

Every major event from the first two was referenced perfectly in book 3.

Alistair Grim’s Odd Aquaticum really does not do that. The author clearly assumes you have read the first book and just goes forward with the plot.

And truthfully, the plot is not that great if you have no vested interest in the characters. And if you have not read the first book, you won’t have that connection. And thus everything falls apart. Which is exactly what happened to me.

On a technical level, the writing is good. But I found myself rather bored with the whole thing. I didn’t click with any characters, and really did not see any reason to care. Nothing was bad, but nothing was really fascinating.

I am curious as to why the author felt he had to make up a word to replace Artifacts. Cause these folk refer to Artifacts…as Odditoria. And going on an Aquaticum refers the an underwater adventure.

Because WHIMSY!

I give this a 3/5. I would suggest checking out the first book before even touching this one, otherwise you will miss a whole lot.

And truthfully I most likely won’t bother with the first one simply because this one failed to interest me on its own.

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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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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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