The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke

The Revenant: A Novel of RevengeThe Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Simply stated, The Revenant is one of the worst books I’ve read in a long time.

I admit, I didn’t know the book existed until I saw the trailer for the Leonardo DiCaprio movie. Now, I admit, I really don’t like Leo, but the movie trailer looked very interesting to a boy that grew up in the Rocky Mountains and have always enjoyed tales set in the days of the fur trappers.

So, what didn’t I like about it?

Characters: The way Mr. Punke wrote each of the characters left nothing for me to like. I could sympathize with the young Jim Bridger, but even here, I felt that the character was acting outside of the the author has set up for his motivations to work on him. All of the other characters I couldn’t even sympathize with. Well, maybe the bear.

Plot: Ok, probably my fault here. I should have realized a book that includes “a novel of revenge” in it’s title probably would be pretty bleak, but (spoiler alert) it was. However, the thing that was the most annoying is that the lead character didn’t even follow through and there was no reason given. Change of heart? Don’t know. Bored? Well, I don’t know if he was, but I sure admit to it.

View all my reviews

Die Trying (Jack Reacher 2) by Lee Child

Die Trying (Jack Reacher, #2)Die Trying by Lee Child
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series is quite popular amongst a certain crowd. I’m just a bit perplexed who that crowd might be.

While I’m enjoying elements of the stories (enough to keep me reading at least a couple more) there are incongruous bits that leave me wondering what research the author has done.

In this story, a random act of kindness sets up Mr. Reacher to be kidnapped and for the duration of the book it seems like Reacher is in as much confusion as what is actually happening around him as the reader is. And not in an intended way.

I would have actually scored the book much lower if the story in itself didn’t hold my interest in a way the character wasn’t.

View all my reviews

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher 1) by Lee Child

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Just starting the Jack Reacher books, and I’m willing to forgive what at the time would have been a new writer quite a bit. However, to be honest, the writing is kind of cliche and at times, it seems like the author is out of his depth on certain topics. I’ll continue to read though.

Book Review 35: Nightborn (Thrones and Bones, book 2)


Nightborn by Lou Anders  (book 2 in the Thrones and Bones series)

  1. Title: Nightborn (Thrones and Bones book 2)
    Author: Lou Anders
    Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
    Release Date: 14 July 2015
    Available Formats: Dead tree, ebook, audiobook
    Rating: mild PG for mild violence

As I recounted for my review of Mr. Anders’ first book in this series, I met Mr. Anders several years ago at a convention and have been a fan of many of the books he has edited. I greatly enjoyed Frostborn and was very anxious to pick up with Karn and Thianna and see what they were up to.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: From the author of Frostborn comes Book 2 in the acclaimed Thrones and Bones fantasy-adventure trilogy for fans of Lloyd Alexander and Brandon Mull. Karn Korlundsson is a gamer. Not a riddle solver. But in order to rescue his best friend, Thianna Frostborn, he will need to travel to the faraway city of Castlebriar (by wyvern), learn how to play a new board game called Charioteers (not a problem), decipher the Riddle of the Horn, and tangle with mysterious elves. Meet Desstra. She’s in training to join the Underhand—the elite agents of the dark elves. When she crosses paths with Karn, she is not all that she appears to be. Everyone is chasing after the horn of Osius, an ancient artifact with the power to change the world. The lengths to which Karn will go in the name of friendship will be sorely tested. Who knew that solving a riddle could be so deadly?

Setting; Mr. Anders fleshes out his Viking world by introducing southern cities and fantastic variations of his decidedly Norse inspired races. The world you grew to know and love in Frostborn has grown up and out a bit, but still holds the same charm as it did last fall.

Plot: Thianna has disappeared. Karn has been charged by a dragon to find her. Along the way new friends and enemies are met. Not all is as it seems and we see that expectations can be a readers best friend and worst enemy. I refuse to spoil the plot, but I will state that it evolves along the way and riddles abound.

Characters: Karn and Thianna are two of my favorite characters in modern fiction. I admit, I’m tired of stories where one gender or race is constantly at war to gain recognition or equality. Mr. Anders has completely sidestepped this by making all the characters in his book play on equal footing. Karn and Thianna are joined in this book by the unlikeliest of allies and the deadliest of foes. Mr. Anders has written each one with a voice of their own that I found enthralling and engaging.

Odin’s recommendation: I am a reader. I enjoy a good story. I could care less what age a good story is intended for. If you’ve read Lloyd Alexander, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis or J.K. Rowling as an adult and enjoyed them, you know what I mean. In fact, if an author feels an adult story needs strong language and sexual situations, I’ll stick with something written for a bit younger audience. Mr. Anders has written a good story. A very good story. A really, really very good story. You get the point. Yes, a more mature reader might not be surprised by some of the plot developments, but I’ll read a good story over and over again even once I know whats going to happen. By that standard, Nightborn must be a very good book indeed, because I know it will be read regularly over the years.

Oh.. and the best part? Nightborn is released tomorrow. So go get it wherever you get books and set aside a night or two to enjoy a good story well told. However, if you haven’t picked up a copy of book one, Frostborn, grab it while you’re there and read it first. You’ll be glad you did.

An aside to Mr. Anders: please write faster. I sincerely am anxious for book three.

Book Review #34: Frostborn (Thrones and Bones, book 1)

Thrones and Bones

Thrones and Bones by Lou Anders

Title: Frostborn: Thrones and Bones
Author: Lou Anders
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 5 August, 2014
Available Formats: Dead tree, ebook, audiobook
Rating: mild PG for mild violence and undead creatures

I met Mr. Anders several years ago at a convention and have been a fan of many of the books he has edited. Somehow, in my absence from social media, I missed that he had authored a book. Knowing a good editor leaves there mark on an author’s story, I wondered what kind of story Mr. Anders would tell when it was his to begin with.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Meet Karn. He is destined to take over the family farm in Norrøngard. His only problem? He’d rather be playing the board game Thrones and Bones.

Enter Thianna. Half human, half frost giantess. She’s too tall to blend in with other humans but too short to be taken seriously as a giant.

When family intrigues force Karn and Thianna to flee into the wilderness, they have to keep their sense of humor and their wits about them. But survival can be challenging when you’re being chased by a 1,500-year-old dragon, Helltoppr the undead warrior and his undead minions, an evil uncle, wyverns, and an assortment of trolls and giants.

Readers will embark on a sweeping epic fantasy as they join Karn and Thianna on a voyage of discovery. Antics and hair-raising escapades abound in this fantasy adventure as the two forge a friendship and journey to unknown territory. Their plan: to save their families from harm.

Setting; The first thing that caught my attention upon reading the synopsis of the book was the obvious Norse connection and flavour. It really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I have a not so secret fascination with Norse mythology and find it hinted at in many stories, but portrayed in very few. Frostborn is definitely an exception. Mr. Anders world is populated with enough humans, ice giants, trolls, wyverns and dragons to satisfy any viking lore master.

Plot: Our two young protagonists are unsatisfied with the life fate and the gods have handed them and strive to achieve the life they envision. However, things don’t turn out as they have intended and they must embark on a mission to save their respective families and discover there is more to the world than they had ever expected.

Characters: Karn and Thianna are about as different as two people can be. Though they are both teens, Karn is a young man destined to the bucolic life of being the leader of a farming community, while Thianna is a half human  frost giant that desires nothing more than to find a way to fit in with her father’s people. Both Thianna and Karn are written with a wry sense of the understanding of dealing with teenagers and the issues that concern them.

Odin’s recommendation: I was warned by Mr. Anders that Frostborn was written with an intended audience considerably younger than myself. Indeed, the book reads easily and quickly, and I expect many 10 year olds could read it without trouble. However, one thing I’ve discovered over the years is that a good story transcends age, and make no doubt about it, Frostborn is a very good story. I enjoyed looking over Karn and Thianna’s shoulders as they discover more about themselves and humanity in general. I enjoyed that the male and female heroes received approximately equal time in the book. I greatly appreciated that, while there was a journey, there was no quest (really!). Finally, I simply enjoyed a good story told in a straightforward manner. Mr. Anders isn’t trying to trick anyone with the outcome of the book and the violence and monsters are toned down to a considerable extent in order to make this a good story for almost any age. I intend to share it with my 8 year old son as soon as we finish the series we are currently on.

Frostborn is available online at Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes and Noble as well as many other resellers. If you have children, teens, or just enjoy a good story that is well told, go buy it. And then you can join me waiting for the sequel: Nightborn

Book Review #33: Dawn’s Early Light (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences)

Dawn's Early LightTitle: Dawn’s Early Light (A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel)
Author: Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Available Formats: Dead tree, ebook, audiobook
Rating: PG for steampunk violence and enthusiasm

I have been a fan of Ms. Ballantine and Mr. Morris’ Ministry series since the very beginning. Pheonix Rising opened the door of steampunk to me and The Janus Affair firmly cemented my admiration for The Ministry’s duo of Wellington Books and Eliza Braun. When I received my ARC of Dawn’s Early Light, I could hardly wait to see if the third time would be the charm as our adventurers crossed the pond to the United States.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Working for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, one sees innumerable technological wonders. But even veteran agents Braun and Books are unprepared for what the electrifying future holds…

After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States—intended to keep them out of trouble—suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen.

Even with the help of two American agents from the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical, Braun and Books have their work cut out for them as their chief suspect in a rash of nautical and aerial disasters is none other than Thomas Edison. Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious machinations of a new threat known only as the Maestro, they may find themselves in far worse danger than they ever have been in before…

Setting; After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States—intended to keep them out of trouble—suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen.

Even with the help of two American agents from the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical, Braun and Books have their work cut out for them as their chief suspect in a rash of nautical and aerial disasters is none other than Thomas Edison. Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious machinations of a new threat known only as the Maestro, they may find themselves in far worse danger than they ever have been in before…

Plot: As the synopsis states, Books and Braun have journeyed to the U.S. in support of their American counterparts and become enmeshed in an international affair the could change the world as we know it. If that isn’t enough to keep even the keenest agent busy, readers of the series might remember (SPOILER ALERT) that The Janus Affair ended with Welly and Eliza sharing a romantic moment. In Dawn’s Early Light this fledgling romance is tested as the stubbornness of our leads and the interventions of a dynamic cowboy and a charming librarian conspire together to put our heroes at odds with each other. To be honest, this second plot device was every bit as interesting to me as the initial.

Characters: Characters from the first two books are reintroduced as members of the cast in the third. Along with our regular players we are also introduced to two American agents of the Office of the Supernatural, MoPo’s U.S. counterpart.

Odin’s recommendation: In my opinion Dawn’s Early Light is a fantastic read. This latest entry into the series is delicious fun that shouldn’t be missed. Each book in the series has improved on it’s predecessor. No small feat when you consider how well written and how much fun the previous two entries were.

Wellington and Eliza have grown into their own skins, so to speak, and have become a tighter unit. This book also flips the roles of our heroes and allows Eliza to play the lead, a role in which she excels. Ace is sure to be glad they picked up this series as I am positive that with Dawn’s Early Light, we have seen the truth birth of a series that will enthrall us for years, and volumes, to come.

Weather Child (YES… WEATHER CHILD) cover reveal!

Regular readers of this blog know that one of my favorite stories ever has been Weather Child. I still don’t understand why this book wasn’t picked up by one of the big New York City publishers years ago. Well, their loss still looks to turn into our gain! Ms. Ballantine has partnered with Imagine That! Studios and you will be able to hold this beauty in less than 2 months.

So… onto the cover reveal!


Weather Child
The Awakened Epoch
Book One
Philippa Ballantine


Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Imagine That! Studios
Date of Publication:  1st March 2014

ISBN: 978-0615953489


Word Count: 105,000

Cover Artist: Alex White


Book Description:

Never alone. Never apart.

They are the Awakened, a unique breed of people in a remote corner of the world. Faith is one of these gifted carriers of the Seraphim; and in return of her unconditional love, her Seraphim grants her powers of incredible potential.

But not all carriers embrace their blessing.

Jack loathes being an Awakened. He never asked for it, his Seraphim keeping him alive even in spite of his desire to die. Not even a great war could rid him of this curse.

Now a magician of incredible ability and a walking dead man must find a way to work together to save the Seraphim. Someone covets the power of the Awakened, and will not stop until that power belongs to him.


Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 6.22.58 AM

About the Author:

New Zealand born fantasy writer and podcaster Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order and the Shifted World series. She is also the co-author with her husband Tee Morris of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels. Her awards include an Airship, a Parsec, the Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice, and a Sir Julius Vogel. She currently resides in Manassas, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and a furry clowder of cats.

Twitter: @PhilippaJane





Book Review #32: Mik Murdoch: Boy Superhero

71mRBhtNWBLTitle: Mik Murdoch: Boy Superhero
Author: Michell Plested
Publisher: Five Rivers Chapmanry
Release Date: August 1, 2012
Available Formats: Dead tree, ebook, audiobook
Rating: K for kids of all ages

Michell Plested and I have followed each other on Twitter for quite a while. I don’t know who followed whom first. I do know I reviewed his podcast “Galaxybillies” a while back (Podcast Review #48) and that I genuinely enjoy his podcast “Get Published”. I also know that I am ashamed to admit that it has taken me so long to write this review. Mr. Plested provided me with a copy of Mik Murdoch: Boy Superhero ages ago, and I read it quite sometime back and just haven’t gotten around to writing a review. For that, I must apologize.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: A delightful and truly Canadian tale of a 12 year old boy’s quest to protect his prairie town of Cranberry Flats, and in his search to acquire super-powers finds the most awesome power of all lies within his own inherent integrity.

Setting; Cranberry Flats is a small town much like the one I grew up in. It seems like you know almost everyone in the town and with that comes the good and the bad. Mik roams his town firmly encased in his own childlike sense of invisibility while at the same time looking for evil in the large and small things that make life interesting in a small town.

Plot: Mik goes to the movies with his Dad, and after seeing how the hero was transformed into a superhero, determines there has to be a way he to can become a superhuman force for good. Mik embarks on his road to discovery armed only with his wit and his canine companion (and a genuinely understanding and gracious set of parents).

Characters: Mik is the main character and the book is told from a first person perspective, allowing you to become quite familiar with Mik by the end of the book. Other characters appear in vignettes, but none really rival Mik’s predominance in this story of how a young boy becomes the hero of his own story.

Odin’s recommendation: If you can afford this book, buy it. Yes, it is a kids book. Preteen. However, I think most adults will be able to draw correlations between Mik’s adventures and their own childhoods. Most young children will be able to retain their curiosity in Mik as he gallops through his many mini-adventures presented in small vignettes while retaining a cohesive larger story.

I truly enjoyed Mik Murdoch and was delighted with the way Mr. Plested presented this charming story. Mik Murdoch: Boy Superhero is a sweet, enchanting, delightful adventure that should appeal to the child in all of us.

Book Review #29: He Ain’t Heavy by Dan Sawyer

a7b619844d70f88fed4c5f6d7bede1f542923cdc-thumbTitle: He Ain’t Heavy
Author: J. Daniel Sawyer
Publisher: AWP Mystery
Release Date: December 3, 2013
Available Formats: ebook and paperback
Rating: Adult content/language

Last summer, Mr. Sawyer asked me if I’d like an ARC/beta of his new Clarke Lantham novel. If you’ve been reading these reviews, I’m sure you understand that my answer was a wholehearted “YES”. He sent it over and I read it. This was late July early August. Then I wrote this review. In August. Mr. Sawyer asked me to sit on the review while he ironed out some of his other projects (like Crudrat, google it). Late last week, he contacted me to let me know that it was ready to go…

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Along came a spider and killed the insider…

According to the official story, Martin Galloway shot himself in front of two cops. But his bereaved fiancee smells a rat, and when the system fails her, she turns to Clarke Lantham Investigations to prove that Martin was murdered. At stake: the reputation of one of the world’s greatest humanitarians…and his twenty billion dollar estate.

Descending into a web of venture capitalists, patent trolls, security contractors, and evangelists, Lantham and his team must find a way through a world of loyalty and deceit more insidious, and closer to home, than any case so far…

…assuming he can survive the coma, and the arms dealer, and the drug kingpin who holds his life in the balance.

Setting: San Franciso. Mr. Sawyer’s love affair with his adopted home city continues to be a source of education and enjoyment. I believe this is the first of the Lantham books to provide us with a brief road trip as well, going down to visit Tiajuna.

Plot: Clarke Lantham is hired by the grieving fiancé of a silicon valley tycoon to uncover the real cause of his death, a death reported to be suicide. Clarke steps into the world of the victim, a world of devout Christians, hot tubs and big money and smells something that has the sweet stench of decay touching every aspect of the case. Will Clarke discover what really happened, or will he become simply another hot tub casualty?

Characters: Mr. Sawyer continues to develop the main characters in the Clarke Lantham series. While Clarke has had a pretty solid persona from book one, the intrepid duo of Rachel and Nya shine in He Ain’t Heavy”. Significant portions of the book are given to these young ladies, and rather than diminish the action, it only accelerates it. Rachel especially shows us that there are depths unplumbed.

Odin’s recommendation: Mr. Sawyer continues to impress with He Ain’t Heavy, and Clarke Lantham shows he earns his place with the Mike Hammers, Sam Spades and Dirk Gentlys on your bookshelf. If you prefer the smell of cordite, the sounds of highly tuned engines and a sarcastic voice in your head, get your credit card ready and go order He Ain’t Heavy.

Book Review #31: The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

Title: The Shambling Guide to New York City
Author: Mur LaffertyShambling Guide
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Available Formats: Dead tree, ebook, audiobook and podcast for another week
Rating: Adult content warning

Mur Lafferty has been reviewed here more than once. She has appeared on my podcast. She is an active part of the twitter community I often visit. She recently found a home with Orbit books and is now releasing her Shambling Guide series

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Because of the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel book editor in the tourist-centric New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can’t take off her resume — human.

Not to be put off by anything — especially not her blood drinking boss or death goddess coworker — Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her job turns deadly when the careful balance between human and monsters starts to crumble — with Zoe right in the middle.

Setting; New York City. However, this is not your father’s New York City. Unless your father was a vampire. Or maybe a zombie. The New York City in Ms. Lafferty’s book hosts a whole other population living in relative obscurity. This population consists of every monster or fantasy creature ever known. They are called Codery and live in an uneasy balance with humans and are policed by the Public Works office.

Plot: The plot of this book is actually quite well summarized in the above synopsis. Zoe learns to live in both worlds while dealing with a problem from her past that might end the future of everyone in NYC. Only Zoe and a few of her friends stand in the way of the end of New York City.

Characters: Zoe is human, but she has friends in all of the major race groups. Ms. Lafferty has done a good job of differentiating the races and describing how they are all able to cohabit the city without running afoul of one another.

Odin’s recommendation: Again, I admit, I don’t enjoy overly descriptive adult situations in my books. Yes, you can read that as sex. With that being said, you can skip chapter 14 completely and it won’t affect the story at all. I know, because after realizing what chapter 14 was about, that is what I did and I suffered not at all throughout the rest of the story. Initially I was hesitant to pick up this book because of the word shambling in the title. I will confess, I’ve simply had enough of zombies. I truly just can’t get myself to read about them. However, when Ms. Lafferty announced Orbit was allowing her to release this story as a podcast (more about that in a moment), well… how could I resist? Once I realized that the zombies in the story are rather minor characters and the book was about the supernatural element living in our mundane world, I was much more interested.

I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it for anyone that likes a monster story that isn’t a horror story. Ms. Lafferty most often writes with tongue firmly implanted in cheek, and this is no exception.

I posted a pic of myself holding the book, because I wanted to prove that I had bought it (well, as much as a book being held is proof), and if you’re a fan of Ms. Lafferty, I think you should too. However, if you simply don’t have time to read (as I find myself more and more these days), you can download the audiobook in podcast form for free. At least for the next week or so. I believe Ms. Lafferty stated December 5th would be the final day the podcast would be available. As she states however, if you can afford to buy it, please do. I enjoy being able to listen to a story without being charged for the audiobook, and perhaps if this experiment works well, Orbit will allow the sequel to be made available for free in audio form as well.

  • View from Valhalla Podcast

    Available at View from Valhalla
    Available at

    Powered by TalkShoe