April 2013 Book Reviews

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Unbelievably, today is the last day  in April and the start of something new for Scattered Thoughts.  I am going to post a summary of each months books reviews on the last day of the month.  Hopefully, this will make it easy to find a new book to read, a book review you might have missed or a book you just might want to reconsider.  It also helps me gather my  Scattered Thoughts when it comes to the year’s Best of in  December.

It was a very good month, with some remarkable stories from new authors and beloved writers and everyone in between.  Trust me, there really is something for everyone here this month:

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           April 2013 Review Summary

5 Star Rating:

Collusion by Eden Winters

On The Lee Shore by Elin Gregory

The General and the Horse-Lord by Sarah Black

Touch & Geaux  by Abigail Roux

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

A Beautiful Disaster by Willa Okati (4.25)

Brute by Kim Fielding (4.5)

Fire For Effect by Kendall McKenna (4.5)

Freedom by Jay Kirkpatrick (4.75)

Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune (4.5)

Josh of the Damned, Triple Feature #2, The Final Checkout

by Andrea Speed (4.25)

Loving Hector by John Inman (4.25)

Masked Riders by Lucius Parhelion (4.5)

The Fight Within by Andrew Grey (4.5)

The Good Fight by Andrew Grey (4.75)

Unearthing Cole by A.M. Arthur (4.25)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Highland Vampire Vengeance by J.P. Bowie (3.75)

Love You Like A Romance Novel by Megan Derr (3.5)

Sensei by Karenna Colcroft (3)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Astral Mage by Hurri Cosmo (2.75)

Review: The Astral Mage (The Captains Of The Wolf #1) by Hurri Cosmo

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

The Astral Mage coverKyruis has had a life full of woe.  Shuffled from one foster family to the next, unwanted because he is different, a freak of nature, Kyruis has never felt safe, never been safe a day in his life. Kyruis a wanted man. He’s an Astral Mage, better known as a “Soul Giver”, a race of people who can bring people, animals, things back to life by reattaching their energy or souls.  Now most people believe that Astral Mages are but a myth so few exist in the galaxy.  But for those who know better,  the Astral Mages are captured and traded for the highest fee and that is Kyruis’ current fate.

Kyruis is a prisoner on a spaceship, captured and sold to the highest bidder when pirates attack the ship he is on.  Captain Tilbarr of the spaceship Wolf brings Kyruis on board his ship, he has no idea that not only has he found a true Astral Mage but also the one person who makes him feel alive and in love.  But the Confederated Authority, the governing body for planets, is hot on their trail and it wants Kyruis at any cost.  Just as Tilbarr realizes how much he has come to care for Kyruis, Tilbarr also realizes that he might have to give the Astral Mage up or lose his ship and his friends in the bargain.  When the Captain must choose between love and loyalty to his crew, can there be any winner?

The Astral Mage is the first book I have read by this author and it appears to be the first in a science fiction series.  However, I think that although this book shows some promise, I will be stopping here with The Astral Mage.  Let’s go over some of the more winning aspects of the story.  Cosmo works very hard at building a detailed and interesting universe in which to place the story.  At the end of the book, the author has placed a  complex and lengthy Terms and Definitions section that covers construction  elements and minerals, names of the Wolf’s crew to extinct bird species and insects.  One glance at this part of the book and you have the pros and cons of this author’s writing.  Hurri Cosmo is so absorbed in her world building that minutiae that is not relevant to the story basics is included but not a lot of information about the titular race of the story. For example, here is her entry for Screaming Vulture Beasts:

Screaming Vulture Beasts: They are large birds that live in several of the extremely deep craggy valleys that exist on Velel. They are brutal beasts that rip apart their living prey when they capture it, usually in flight. Ancient history of the planet denoted tribes would throw livestock off the cliffs to keep the beasts fed so they would not feed on the people. In modern day, though, the beasts have become wary of the people knowing they can and will kill them if they come close. There are warning systems in place that warn the towns and cities as well if the birds approach. They have become more of a tourist attraction although to get close enough to watch them feed is still considered very dangerous and ultimately stupid.

To be honest, I don’t even remember them in the story as interesting as they sound. But this story is so jammed packed with “stuff” that the important facts and issues are overlooked. There are pages of entries like this. But her entry for the Mages? This is the sum total, already given in the same words in the story:

Astral Mage: The Soul Givers. There are also “carriers”, who are the only ones able to give birth to an Astral Mage. The blood line started to dissipate due to inter-relations with other species. A full-blooded carrier is rare and full-blooded Astral Mages are even rarer.

The author gets so lost in the extraneous details that she forgets the focus of her story is that of the Astral Mages and that happens from the beginning.  We begin the story of The Astral Mage with Kyrius a prisoner on a spaceship rocketing to a destination where he is to be handed off to some unnamed buyer.  Kyruis is a rare almost mythical creature but the Captain of that ship treats him as he would a whore.  This makes no sense considering the fees that are being paid for Kyruis and has been inserted to bring a prurient angle to the story.   You know the author is in trouble when things so south right from the beginning.  Then the story switches focus from Kyrius to Tilbarr, the Captain of the Wolf who attacks the ship Kyrius is on and the book becomes The Captain of the Wolf (The Astral Mage #1) instead of the other way around.  And once the attention is on Tilbarr and his feelings about the mage, it remains there for the rest of the story.  While the reader is patiently waiting to learn more about the Mages, their history, genetic makeup, anything about mages, we get more information about cargos, and metals, and insects and things we really don’t care about.   One of the first things I wanted to know was why only one type of mage?  That doesn’t make any sense either.  Surely if there is one type of gift or magic, there are others.  But as we are given absolutely no information, who knows?

Then there are the characterizations.  Cosmo can’t decide if Kyruis is a young, innocent victim in need of a savior or a sexually experienced being with hidden resources and strengths, wounded faun or clever mouse, child or sex object.  Cosmo swings back and forth between the two with a rapidity that will give the reader whiplash.  The same divided characterization haunts  Tilbarr as well, seasoned pirate or gullible sailor with a need for love?  Honestly, the wavering characteristics make it hard to believe in any of the characters you meet while reading this story. That lack of believability has always meant a lack of connectivity for the reader as well and it shows here.

So while there are some nice points and creative aspects to The Astral Mage, in the end it is overwhelmed by too many extraneous details, weak characters, and a missing focal point.  I would give this a pass, there are better m/m science fiction stories out there.

Cover design by Lee Tiffin doesn’t make any more sense than the book does.

ebook, 243 pages
Published March 16th 2013 by Silver Publishing
ISBN 161495903X (ISBN13: 9781614959038)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttps://spsilverpublishing.com/the-astral-mage-ebook-p-1414.html
seriesThe Captains Of The Wolf

A Cluttered Sunday and the Week Ahead In Reviews

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Somehow I’ve done it again.  It  creeps up on me with all the discretion of a whispering wind, but its effects can feel more like a nor’easter by the time I realize it’s occurred once more.  It starts with one project, maybe overhauling one small section of a garden, then spreads to cleaning out the library, and then, like some  giant amoeba, slides gelatinously over every aspect of my life, sinking me in projects, expanded plans and , oh yes, clutter.  Clutter of the gardens, house, Kindle, and mind, making me plant my butt in my favorite chair, mouth dropped to the floor as I stare in horror at the chaos I have created.

I have ferns, hostas, primroses and toadlilys amassed by the backdoor, the library looks like  the yarn fairy and the book gnome had a brawl, throwing their wares willy nilly around the room, cook books are spread open in the kitchen to various receipes needed to cook for Mothers Day (have to try them out first you know, another thing on my list to do), and Kirby has found the mole holes, gleefully rolling about in the muck.  Dogs to wash, add to list.  My Kindle is loaded with books to read and review.  And I promised one author to beta his book immediately.  So many promises and things waiting for my attention. Then the tsunami arrives.  My father becomes seriously ill due to the effects of new medication.  Things come to a complete standstill until he is home once more.  Then the reality of Dad getting sick (this man never gets sick) hits my Mother, she gets ill, and things remain in status.

Now both parents are back at home and doing well.  But the effects are still reverberating through my life.  As I sit amongst the clutter of my life, I can only think, my parents were seriously ill and I am stunned.  At their age and mine, this should not surprise me, but it does, hitting me with an emotional wallop I was in no way prepared for.

So I need to move forward and start to clear away the chaos that life, generously helped along by moi, has created.  The plants will start to go in the ground  on Wednesday when they say it will be warmer, the books I will tackle one at a time, the library will see its books reshelved and the yarn organized starting tomorrow (ever so slowly), I will apologize to Brandon once more about his novel and get to it, and slowly, ever so slowly order will be restored.  Sigh.  Even without my parents getting ill, I can see that things were getting a little out of control.

How does that happen again?  Oh yeah, life.  I know there are people out there this never happens to.  Organized, compartmentalized gems of folks.  I just don’t know them.  I often wonder what their lives must be like, with uncluttered surfaces that gleam and spotless floors with nary a dog toy in sight.  I do know that will never happen here.  Welcome to my world, lowered expectations!

Now I had a thought at the beginning of this post……I just don’t know where I put it.  It’s somewhere under the yarn or maybe out in the garden.  It’s time to go look for it.  In the meantime while I am gathering up my scattered thoughts, here is the week ahead in reviews:

Monday, April 22:              Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune (yes really)

Tuesday, April 23:              On A Lee Shore by Elin Gregory

Wed., April 24:                   Masked Riders by Lucius Parhelion

Thursday, April 25:           Unearthing Cole by AM Arthur

Friday, April 26:                 Astral Mage by Hurri Cosmo

Saturday, April 27:             Scattered Thoughts On World Building in Fiction