Tag Archives: Eden Hudson

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Zero Reviews Challenge.

I have a new challenge for myself, and this one is a little dangerous. Dangerous in the sense that there is a large potential to be unenjoyable. As such, I’m setting it as a long-term challenge. I don’t have a lot of reading time right now (because of university). So, I’m reluctant to donate any of it to read that I won’t enjoy. Despite that, I still want to try this. (You never know, I might love each of these books, after all.)

What is this? Reading the books on my Goodreads shelves with zero reviews. I was inspired to check this by someone I saw over on Tiktok (that I can’t seem to find again, so I can’t give credit to). But they said that sometimes when they have trouble deciding what to read, they order their books by review numbers and read the book with the fewest. This way, they can give a small-time or new author some attention.

I liked the idea and was somewhat surprised by how many books I have with no reviews. Then I thought about it a little more and was no longer surprised. This is for the same reason that this challenge has the potential to be either a lot of fun or none at all.

You see, I collect signed books. And one of my absolute favorite ways to find them is at charity shops. I always feel like I’m rescuing a book when I buy one from Goodwill or Savers. And sometimes I buy them because they are signed, not because they look good. (Though I try to fight my impulses on this habit.) The problem is that a lot of times, they are actually quite old—from back when self-publishing was still considered vanity publishing, and editing was often iffier than it is today.

Obviously, this isn’t the case for all of them. I am a magpie when it comes to collecting books. They come from everywhere. But the same kind of gotta-collect-them-all mindset accounts for a lot of them. So, while I love owning them, reading them is a real crap shoot. Some have been great, others every bad vanity press stereotype you can imagine. But I alway want to give them a try.

In terms challenge of logistics, I’m going by Goodreads review numbers. So, some of these might have Amazon or other reviews (though I doubt it). I’m not going to take the time to look. Similarly, I suspect some might be re-publications of older books that, if I looked hard enough, I might find history for. But, again, I’m not going to do that work. If it has no reviews on Goodreads and I own it, It qualifies for the challenge.

I’m not going to count anything that is brand new and can, therefore, be expected to garner reviews in the near future. I’m really going to focus on anything older than a year with no current reviews. And I’ll make decisions on books that are later books in a series on a book-by-book basis. The same will go for some of the odd non-fiction (don’t judge).

A lot of these are physical books that have befallen the all too common fate of books in my house. They got put on a shelf, which puts them out of sight and, therefore, out of mind. So, clearing some shelf space is a nice little bonus to the challenge too. But I’ll warn you now, being slotted in, spine out is a blessing for some of these books. There are some bad covers in the lot!

The goal is to list them below, and as I read them (no doubt slowly), I’ll come back and link to the reviews. Wish me luck. I very well might need it.

no reviews challenge books

The Coming of the Light & Piercing the Darkness, by J.W. Baccaro
The Clubhouse, by Frederic W. Baue
The Bones Dance the Foxtrot, by Donan Berg
Good as You, by B.A. Braxton
Feast of Darkness, Part II, by Christian A. Brown
The Queer Magician in Europe, by Brand Doubell
Paracord Knife Handle Wraps, by Jan Dox
Unwilling Bride, by M.J. Drakkon
Lost Faith, by Maia Dylan
Unmarked Trails, by Jane Flink
Cursed, by Athena Floras
Dust of a Moth’s Wing, by R. Ramey Guerrero
Star Crossed, by Eden Hudson
By Light of Phoenix, by Shade Jalo
Tom and Me, by Robert Lowe
Ankle to the Soul, by Shelly McDuffie
To Save My Father’s Soul, by Michael William Molden
The Wisdom Seeker, by Amy Peterson
Corporeal, by Danielle Powers
The Companions, by Michael Rader
Dragon of the Hesperides, by Dean Reavey
Gloaming, by Addison Taylor Rich
Sex, Intimacy, Love, and Romance in Elderly and Alzheimer’s Patients, by Sandy Sanbar & Judy Rector
For the People I Love and Can’t Forget, by Maria Szapszewicz
Gotta Be Down!, by Booker T.
Blood Revenge, by Robert F. Thompson
To Ocean’s End, by S.M. Welles
Reckless Dreams, by J.R. White
Defiled, by Elskidor Xell

So, there you have it. Those are the 29 books I own that Goodreads says have no reviews, the oldest being Tom and Me from 2016. (How can it have no reviews?) I’m fairly sure at least two of the authors have passed, one of which was a local-to-me author. Several are parts of series, the rest of the series’ books have few reviews too. And, honestly, none of them light me on fire with excitement. But that’s part of what makes this a challenge.

As always, you’re welcome to join in. Let me know how it goes.

Review of the Redneck Apocalypse series, by Eden Hudson

I picked the first book of the Redneck Apocalypse series, Halo Bound, up as an Amazon Freebie. I then bought Hell Bent and God Killer. It would have been cheaper to just buy the boxset, but of course I didn’t think to do that in advance. Oh well. I wrote the following reviews as I finished the books, prior to reading the next in the series.

This description is for Halo Bound, but it describes the whole series well enough:

The holy champion chosen to save the world is enslaved to a sadistic fallen angel and losing the battle for his sanity.

The guy chosen to save the holy champion is his binge-drinking redneck brother.

So, basically, the world is screwed.

Meet the Whitney boys:
Colt—a mentally unstable holy soldier with a rapidly deteriorating hold on reality. His last plan to rid the world of evil either failed horribly or went off without a hitch. With the constant torture and brainwashing, it’s getting hard for him to remember.

Tough—a smart-mouthed honky tonk hero addicted to music, women, and good times. He hasn’t spoken to Colt in five years—not since their disagreement over a nymphomaniac vampire turned into a drunken slugfest—but they’re still brothers. Tough knows he can’t leave Colt fighting for his life and his sanity alone. The question is whether Tough can fight off his personal demons long enough to save Colt from the literal ones. 

Halo Bound, also called How to Kill Youself in a Small Town:

Good enough that I immediately bought book two. (And when you have thousands of ebooks on your reader, buying a new one to continue a series is a big compliment to the author.) 

It started out quite rough. It’s set several years after a big human/fallen angel war and you definitely feel like you’re missing a little something…and like people are just getting on with the new normal a little too easily. There’s no sense of it the new laws are only in effect in Halo or in the rest of the world too. 

Also, the characters are meant to be in there twenties, but they feel very much more like teens. Take the sex out and this could easily be a YA book. I do wish they felt a little older. Lastly, the naming convention for women is a mess. Honestly, Mitzy, Tiffani, Sissy, Tempie and Desty? (I’ll add a post-read edit to mention book two has a Candi too!)

But despite those two real complaints, the book is dark, funny and plot is an interesting one. It grapples with some heavy themes that I appreciate. All in all, worth the read. I’m glad I took a chance on it. 

Be warned however, it’s a cliffhanger. And not the ‘some threads wrap up, while others are left open’ cliffy. The sort where the plot just stops because the book is the prescribed length and the story needs to be broken into a series. 

Hell Bent:

This is an enjoyable second book. The characters are still dealing with some dark issues and it turns out being the chosen of God isn’t all holy robes and angelic music. Being his representative in a Holy War is just as dirty and bloody and shit-stained as any other war…more so. 

I didn’t think this one had quite the depth of book one. A lot more of it is spent in the minds (and spiritual warfare) or two characters. It fills the pages, but the plot didn’t progress as far as I’d hoped. Having said that, I plan to read book three.

God Killer:

This ended largely as you’d expect, given the subject matter. But it was still nice seeing how it came to be. Though, Hudson doesn’t shy away from letting people die. She and George RR Martin must lunch on Mondays or something. But it’s good. As much as it hurt, what sort of Holy War would it really be if everyone miraculously survived? When playing in the field of the divine, humans are small and fragile.

I do have to point out that though book one uses Christian mythos in the plot, I wouldn’t have called it an explicitly Christian novel. Book two is…well it’s a middle book, but I’d mostly say the same for it. But here in book three? I think you really need to buy into the Christian belief to roll with the ending.

This is the spoiler I mentioned above, because I want to address that ending. It basically boils down to God saying ‘X turned their back on me. But I love them and as soon as they call out to me I’m there.’ And when the person does, God saves the day. Now, I’m not oblivious to the story Hudson was telling. I understand that X had to live the horrid life they did so that Y could see one person lose everything over and over again and still choose the path of righteousness. I see that. But why did God wait until the very last moment? Why was it the only one that mattered? X had called out to them many times. His brother literally crawled through the agonies of Hell calling out to him. Their parents raised their children as holy warriors, their belief was so strong. And an entire town walked into almost certain death calling out to him. (That’s just in Halo. One assumes similar things are happening around the world.) Why did none of those calls matter? Only the last one.

This is where I can see an actual Christian simply rolling with God’s plan. Because there obviously was a plan. But as a non-Christian all I see is the same disinterest in human suffering that left Y thinking he was just as cruel as Lucifer himself. The plan seemed to be let humanity suffer until the very end and then claim it was their own fault, as far as I was concerned. So, I really didn’t buy the ending. I appreciate that the writing brought the story full circle and it was well-written, but I don’t possess the needed belief system to make me interpret it the way Hudson obviously intends. I can recognize it, but I soundly reject it as not supported by the evidence. Which left it a little dissatisfying.

I also thought God (or JC as one aspect of him was called) was just a little too guy-next-door. He had no gravitas. And I resented that Desty and Tempie (yeah the naming convention of women was horrible) became rape-barbies. Sure, none of it was graphic. We don’t see them, but we’re certainly told it happened over and over again.

All in all, this is a series with great writing, but one that abandoned me in the end. But for a religious reader, I think this could be a real win. Just know you have to walk through darkness with the characters first. And honestly, that’s what kept me reading the series. Not that I enjoy the horrible things that happened. But I appreciated that Hudson didn’t shy away from them. The characters did horrible things to survive. They made unbearable mistakes. They lost and stole and cheated and sided with the enemy and suffered. But still they struggled on. It’s worth the read.

Note: Please don’t roll up in my comments trying to explain the Bible or biblical lore to me. I understand it well enough for this purpose.

Revenge of the Bloodslinger

Book Review of Revenge of the Bloodslinger (Jubal Van Zandt #1), by Eden Hudson

I won an e- copy of Eden Hudson‘s Revenge of the Bloodslinger.

Description from Goodreads:
Narcissist, sociopath, and shameless backstabber Jubal Van Zandt is the best damn thief in the history of the Revived Earth…and he won’t shut up about it.

But not everybody in the swampy, soggy, feudal future approves of Jubal’s vocation. The Guild—the religious fanatics who helped rebuild civilization after the collapse—in particular are waiting for their opportunity to slip the noose around his neck.

Which is why when the renowned Guild knight Carina Xiao—a.k.a. the Bloodslinger—contacts Jubal about an off-the-books job that violates Guild Law, he’s too intrigued to say no. He is the best damn thief in the history of the Revived Earth, after all.

Half bizarro ecopunk, half outworld thriller, half odd-couple roadtrip, Jubal Van Zandt & the Revenge of the Bloodslinger is a 150% futurepunk quest for blood and betrayal across the Revived Earth.

I enjoyed this a lot more than the cover suggested I would. Both the main character and his client, Carina, are serious anti-heroes. And while she has her faith, they are otherwise both sarcastic, irreverent and capable in their own fields. There is a lot to enjoy here. Not least of which is the interesting histories of both characters.

Plus, it’s never even suggested that Jubal might be neuro-atypical (by which I mean autistic in some manner) and maybe the author never meant him to be, just a narcissistic sociopath. But there were just so many small example of his behavior that made me think he must be—racing thoughts, occasional overwhelming need for movement, minor self-harm when confronted with emotions, a general lack of empathy or normal emotions, insomnia, germ phobia, food issues, inexactitude in measuring the passage of time, strict categorization of people, etc. I appreciated finding this in a character.

My main complaints are that it went overboard on occasion, ends very abruptly and I didn’t at all like the ending. I see what the author is doing with it, but it soured the book for me a bit. Be that as it may, I’d still read another one.