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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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.

November TBR

I figured I would start doing this. At this point, I am already 2 books in.


First I read Genrenauts and just finished that on Wednesday.


Next up, I am working on Alice Takes Back Wonderland!


After this one, I am going to be moving to Alistair Grim’s Odd Aquaticum!


I also need to continue working on Writers of the Future Vol 31.


And I still have to read Monsterland.


And Shadows of Self.


And Railsea.


Steampunk!


Oh and Sky Ghosts.

Not sure I have enough….