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!

View this book on Amazon
View this book on Goodreads

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.

View this book on Amazon
View this book on Goodreads

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.

View this book on Amazon
View this book on Goodreads

The Spirit Collectors by M. Amanuensis Sharkchild – A Review

A Copy of this Book was provided by the Author in exchange for an Honest Review

And an honest review he shall have. First lets do the book blurb: “What is the worth of your spirit?

In the world of Awya, where life is scattered across isles in a seemingly endless ocean of black liquid, the Isle of Winder is home to uymns whose primary trade is agriculture and flower cultivation. Here, an umyn boy by the name of Amory Demshen becomes obsessed with Tempertime Cemetery—a collection of portals powered by spirits that link the isles of Awya together, and a place forbidden to those without proper training and knowledge.

Amory disobeys the laws and his mother, sacrificing the qualities of youth and the virtues of his upbringing to pursue a selfish adventure connived by a hidden, sinister force. Unnerving truths and perilous consequences await as Amory—equipped with an authoritative jar, a chest of bewitching cards, and a flying stone slab—plunges into the darkness of the spirit collectors.

Will Amory learn the worth of a spirit in time to save his own?”

Let me begin by saying I did not finish this book. I made it to page 65 out of 200. That was it. And you are most likely asking yourself “Why?” The premise is interesting, and visually the book is a joy to look at. The author was nice enough to send me a hardcover copy of this book and what made me want to read it was the very lovely cover art and style of the book. Each chapter has a small image at the heading, which is very nice, and the inside covers hold some very nice landscapes showing the island world.

Check out my Unboxing Post when I got the book to see how visually stunning this book was.

Sadly, the cover is about the only thing I can really say was good about this book.

Now again, I hate to do things like this. I struggle with reviewing things negatively. However, at the same time, I feel its my duty to provide honest feedback and opinions when I am given something.

I cannot, under any circumstances, recommend this book to anyone. At all.

Let me start by saying that the one good thing outside of the actual artistry of the book is that the premise seems interesting and the world is unique. The concept that there are these islands, separated by a vast ocean with the only real method of travel being these gates inside of graveyards is very very interesting.

But that is it. Let me start with our protagonist, Amory. He is a little kid, most likely around 10-12 years old although its never clearly defined in the bits that I read. He acts like a little kid as well, which is fine. He is super curious, and seems to feel that the rules should not apply to him because, well, he knows better. Within the first 65 pages all we get is his life on the island. No real plot development or anything. Just following him around from day to day, and watching as later on he starts to become a brat. He has two! near death encounters in the graveyard with the portal. The first one he basically forgets about because of a guard who finds him. The second he falls unconscious from. After the second he gets put under watch to keep him out of the graveyard and away from the portal, and he basically just gets madder and madder. It makes him unlikeable. At least as an adult reading it. Bratty children are not someone I want to cheer for personally.

Next is the plot. We have a 200 page book. The writing needs to be tight and focused to tell a good story in so short a time. But its not here. After 65 pages, about a 3rd of the way into the book, and I STILL had not seen any plot development. None. I did get an entire chapter devoted to a flower festival in the village though, and about how much Amory and his mother don’t like it. Why did that need to be there? It served very little purpose beyond fluff and world building, but in a 200 page book you gotta be careful with how much time you spend on that.

Another thing that drove me nuts was the writing style. First, Sharkchild is one of those super descriptive authors. Amory himself was described very little. He came off as a generic little boy. His mother however got 2 full paragraphs devoted to detailing her physically and mentally. His cottage got a full paragraph just for the exterior. I don’t know how Amory really looks, but I can tell you his cottage is wooden, with trellis on the outside, and on that trellis are green vines, and on those vines are purple flowers. This was important for me to know.

In addition to the overly descriptive nature of Sharkchilds writing, is his use of words. I am going to give you three sentences from the book. These are from the chapter devoted to the flower festival and are purely descriptive.

“The landscape was a glimmering rainbow of translucent resplendence”

“There were hundreds of different flowers – all transistors of moonlight – dispersing the flow of warm, ashen beams between their foliage and their petals, emanating neon radiance.”

“The golden glow of the candle fires meshed with the youthful, dull light pouring through the partially exposed windows”

Now if you see nothing wrong with those sentences and actually like them, then please, give the Spirit Collectors a read. Because the entire 65 pages that I did manage to get through? Its peppered with that sort of writing. It drove me mad. I even asked several other adults I work with, intelligent people, how they felt about these sort of sentences, and generally the response I got was “The hell does resplendence mean?” I had to explain it basically means really pretty and bright.

And this writing style touches on my final issue: Who is this book for? The way the plot is written, and who the main character is, implies that this is a young adult or children’s novel. Its short length also attributes to that. But the word choices make it seem like its for a much older audience.

Overall I cannot in any way recommend this book. I am giving it a 1/5. Stay away from this book. Unless you want a showpiece on your shelf cause seriously, the art is amazing. But that is all this book is: Window Dressing. A Showpiece. All style, no substance.

View this book on Amazon
View this book on Goodreads

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….

Glyphbinder by T Eric Bakutis – A Review

GlyphbinderCoverBigI received a copy of this book from the Author in exchange for an honest review

The Book Blurb! “Kara was thirteen when she learned her mother was dying. Five years later, the last component of her mother’s cure waits in the city of Tarna, but that is one journey she may not survive.

Even as a Glyphbinder, a wielder of blood glyphs created by a people long dead, Kara is no match for the madman that hunts her or the dark forces at his beck and call. As those Kara loves fall one by one, her hunter’s purpose is finally revealed.

Demons thought long defeated stir now in the shadows of her world, seeking a dark power hidden in Kara’s blood. Tireless and without pity, these demons will not be satisfied until they claim Kara’s world … and her soul. “

Here. This is my review of this book. Go buy it. Did you buy it yet? Why haven’t you bought it yet?! I NEED YOU TO BUY THIS SO ERIC GOES AND FINISHES BOOK TWO SO I CAN DEVOUR THAT!

Ahem.

Glybinder, as you can tell from the blurb above, is the story of Kara, an apprentice Glyphbinder. What is a Glyphbinder you ask? Well its a mage. But its so much more.

Eric has crafted a wonderfully rich and believable world, with interesting characters and a riveting plot. Now what drew me to this originally were the sample chapters on the web. If you are curious I urge you to go check them out. Sci-Fi and Scary pointed em out to me, and then got Eric in contact with me and I am glad she did.

Its going to be hard to really dig deep here without spoilers but in truth I refuse to spoil anything about this wild and imaginative ride. Suffice to say, right now, this is one of my favorite books that I have read recently.

So what IS a Glyphbinder? A Glyphbinder is a mage who uses their own blood as a power source, in order to channel the power of the Five Who Made the World. Life, Ruin, Breath, Land, and Heat. In addition, some can also channel beast spirits such as the Wolf, Turtle, and Bear, although I cannot recall exact names. Rannoc is the Wolf I want to say.

There are different sorts of mages. Firebrands who specialize in fire magic, Bloodmenders who can heal and transfuse blood, Beastlords who can communicate with animals, and the Glyphbinders who can actually do a little of everything. Kara is a Glyphbinder, as if you didn’t know. On her journey she eventually gets joined by her two best friends Sera and Byn, a Bloodmender and Beastlord, as well as her rival Aryn a Firebrand, and Trell, a man who lost his memory.

The story starts with Kara trying to discover the ingredients to a glyph that will allow her to heal her mother Ona from a terrible disease that is ravaging her. However, things quickly get insane as people appear to try to kill or kidnap Kara, as well as attacking her very school. From there things go off the rails and all sorts of twists and turns occur.

What I really enjoyed was Eric’s ability to keep things tight and controlled while still giving each character some time in the spotlight. You really get to know the group and each character’s motivations. Further, not a single word is wasted. There are no useless descriptions or pointless passages. Everything has its point, and every bit of the narrative is tight.  Also, while there is a bit of romantic subplot here, its not overt between Kara and her love interest, and in fact only manifests towards the end of the book.  And even then its not fully realized.

And finally the ending is actually almost fairy-tale in style. I won’t spoil it but its greatly satisfying, while also hinting at a larger threat in the background.

I will warn you this book does have violence.  And has quite a few twists.  To sum it up I thought at one point we had reached the big climax, but nope, we hadn’t.  That was just the foreplay for the main event…which was just as amazing.

This is definitely a 5/5 for me. If you like Fantasy you need to read this. Its excellent, and I want more. I crave me. I NEED MORE.

View this book on Amazon
View this book on Goodreads

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan – A Review

Yes, I know, a Review on a Saturday?! But honestly, I HAD TO. This book was amazing.

The Book Blurb: “Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he barely knows—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. Uncle Randolph tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .”

I will be frank here. I love Rick Riordan and his style of storytelling. The wit, humor, and attention to detail in regards to the things he is talking about is great. His sense of grammar and spelling are perfect. In short, he is a fantastic author.

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer is no different. Whereas in the Percy Jackson / Heroes of Olympus books he tackled Greek and Roman mythology, and in the Kane Chronicles it was Egyptian, now he is butting heads with Norse mythology. Odin, Thor, Freya and Frey, Fenris, Loki, ect. Its all here.

This book tells the story of Magnus Chase. And yes, if you have read the Percy Jackson series, he is related to one of the important folks there. Her cousin, point of fact. Magnus lost his mother roughly 2 years before the start of the story, and has been living as a homeless person on the streets of Boston. He is a survivor, not above stealing or scavenging if the situation calls for it. His mother frequently warned him to not talk to any of his relatives, and he has done just that.

When the story begins however, said cousin, her father, and his uncle have decided suddenly to start looking for him. Its his sixteenth birthday you see and all sorts of things are about to happen.

I can’t really say too much because I do not want to spoil one single solitary bit in this story. The way the world is connected to his previous works is fantastic. I really got a sense that all his worlds (Kane, Percy, and now Magnus) are interconnected. Its awesome to know that there is a shared world here.

However, at the same time, if you have never read a single one of his other books you thankfully will not be left in the dark. Yes there is a connection to the Percy Jackson world, but its only shown twice and its not overtly mentioned. Rather, this is the story of Magnus. His adventures through the Nine Worlds, his dealings with giants, gods, dwarves, elves, and more.

I am a huge fan of mythology, personally. And while Norse is not my strongest suit I do know a decent amount of it, and he stays true to the mythology of it. He even goes so far as to mention the Odin myth and how Odin learned rune magic: By hanging himself by his neck for nine days after stabbing himself with his spear. Magic, you see, requires sacrifice in the Norse world.

If you have an interest in Mythology, or just want a good solid YA Fantasy read, you should check out Magnus Chase. Also I would like to mention that the story has a solid conclusion, and is definitely part of a larger adventure. I want to see how things pan out after the reveal at the end.

I rate this a 4/5. This absolutely deserves a place on your shelf. Its funny, witty, heartwarming and heartbreaking, and will even teach you a bit.

View this book on Amazon
View this book on Goodreads