Monday, November 19, 2012

Kindle Spotlight -- Hunted (The Flash Gold Chronicles #2)

In another first for my blog, I'm reviewing a sequel: Lindsay Buroker's Hunted. It is the second book in her Flash Gold Chronicles series.

Since we last saw Kali McAlister, she has moved to another town in the Yukon and gone into the bounty hunting business with mysterious tough guy Cedar. She dreams of making enough money to build her own airship and finally leaving the frigid region. Cedar has his own goal: Taking down the nefarious Cudgel. Doing that will grant him satisfaction and money to fulfill Kali's wish. In order to do this, though, they have to cozy up with Kali's slimy ex, Sebastian. Sebastian has his own agenda, but he may not be the biggest threat to Kali. A shadowy woman is stalking them, but I won't spoil that.

My biggest problem with the first book in the series, Flash Gold, was that I felt the big sled race didn't live up to its potential (see the full review elsewhere on this blog). Hunted has no such problem. It's a fast-paced adventure which builds upon Flash Gold in meaningful ways. We get to see Kali and Cedar's relationship grow further, more of Kali's secret heritage is revealed, more newfangled steam-powered contraptions are introduced, and we learn Cedar's real name! This is truly how a sequel should be. There are a few typos, but nothing that even begins to bring down the story. Lindsay Buroker is a talented writer, and you should definitely start reading this series.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Kindle Spotlight -- Sliding Void

Stephen Hunt recently made the first book in his space series, Sliding Void, free on Kindle. Since I particularly enjoyed his Jackelian series, picking this up was a no-brainer, and so here we are.

Prince Calder Durk is having a pretty rough week. Betrayed by those closest to him, he finds himself on the run from an enemy army. A disreputable sorcerer, however, gives him one option for salvation: Exile. As it turns out, exile lies in a world previously unknown to Calder--as crew member on the starship Gravity Rose, captained by the foul-mouthed Lana Fiveworlds. For those of you who--like me--had only read Hunt's Jackelian series, this book may be a shock to you. In space, no one can hear you scream, but they can sure hear you swear, something the characters in this book do a lot of. Unlike the Jackelian books, the Sliding Void series was written for an audience of adult sci-fi fans. Aliens, robots and technical jargon abound, ensuring trekkies will feel right at home. The massive, city-sized Gravity Rose, along with the funny yet cute robots, reminded me especially of the old sci-fi series Red Dwarf (no smeg-heads here, sadly).

There isn't a whole lot of plot progression in the first volume, as it focuses more on character development. We get to meet the characters and feel them out, especially Calder. In the world of Sliding Void, learning is done via VR headsets which download information into people's minds Matrix-style. Once this is done to Calder, it's interesting to watch his newfound technological prowess clash with his medieval upbringing.

Sliding Void has an engaging narrative (barring the occasional formatting issue) and likable characters. That being said, I still prefer the Jackelian series, at least at this point. That steampunk world overflows with magic and wonder, while Sliding Void is pure science fiction. I guess it just depends on your personal preferences, really.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Kindle Spotlight -- Cameo the Assassin (Trilogy of Shadows Book One)

Today, in a first for Mirror Slide Junction, I am reviewing this blog's first fantasy novel, Dawn McCullough-White's Cameo the Assassin.

The story revolves around the titular Cameo, a mysterious woman with a shadowy past, milky white eyes, and strange powers. As you can probably guess, her job is to kill people for the infamous assassin's guild, the Association. Predictably, a twist of fate quickly forces her to sever all ties with the murderous organization, and thus she becomes their target. A few people become caught up in her plight throughout the course of the story, the most interesting being Black Opal, who is basically a more effeminate version of Jack Sparrow from the Pirates movies with a bit of Han Solo thrown in for good measure.

Cameo has an interesting story and a few compelling characters, but a number of problems bring it down. First--the dialogue is frequently awkward. Second--the pacing is bad. There are too many scenes in taverns that go on for too long and don't contribute enough to the story. Also, characters have a habit of going on and on about mundane things and, as I already stated, the dialogue is awkward (not to mention the fact that new paragraphs begin even if the same character is still speaking). Third--the revelation concerning what exactly Cameo is, which should have been a bombshell, is casually mentioned, as if the reader was supposed to already have guessed it.

While this series has definite potential, I'm just not too keen on the first book.