Tag Archives: soldiers

Review of Land of Gods (Falls of Redemption #1), by Justin Sloan

I received an Audible copy of Justin Sloan‘s Land of Gods. I believe I requested it when the author was offering codes for free.

Description from Goodreads:
In a world where men believe they can become gods, Narcel searches for his missing brother while trying not to let the girl of his dreams slip away to his older cousin. Evidence for his brother’s disappearance points to the rival warrior clan, the Mawtu, a viscous group of warriors… which could mean only one thing: war on the horizon. 

The FALLS OF REDEMPTION trilogy: A young man is forced to become the warrior he never wanted to be, attempts to earn the love of a woman he seems destined never to get, and struggles to find himself in a world of betrayal and intrigue.

Sigh, I think this was a case of wrong book for the wrong reader, because while I have no issue with the violence or even that the plot just kind of plodded along, the feminist in me couldn’t not notice the treatment of females in the story. I’ll grant that one of the leaders was female and that’s a plus. But she was virtually characterless. Other than her, every single woman was there to be sexually available. Maybe they were all meant to be prostitutes, I don’t know, but it was very noticeable.

Then there was Kaire, the love of the main character’s life. She was just an object, a prize for two men to fight over. But that wasn’t what sent me into a froth though. What got my goat was the way she was supposed to vacillate between two men. I can see what the author was TRYING to do. Unfortunately I cannot express how poorly he accomplished his goal.

The problem was that Sloan’s characters were as subtle as a sledge hammer, making one a “good man” and one a “bad man.” So, Kaire’s affections for the bad man made no sense. She’d have to be very, very stupid to honestly not see it and she wasn’t supposed to be. Sloan tried to do too much. She was supposed to love one man with all her heart, but still want the second guy. (I kept hoping that she was playing some deeper game, a spy or something.) It made no sense, was not believable and basically ruined the book for me.

It’s the same sort of dissonance Sloan created when he tried to convince readers a person would change national and familial loyalties and become a perfect warrior in six months, but also still be loyal to their homeland. You just can’t do both. So, this whole book was full of contradictions that made no sense to me.

I also lost track of the time line, so people’s ages. But none of them seemed old enough for what they were doing. And I felt quite a lot was left unexplained. Why, for example, did Narcel kill Jordan? What is the ‘room of contemplation’ (or something like that)?

The writing itself is fine and Hays did a fine job with the narration. I imagine guys (who are less likely to be attuned to the poor/stereotypical use of gender in the book) will like it a lot more than me. I gave the author a try and, while they’re a fine writer, they’re not for me.

Review of Flash Bang, by Kellen Burden

Flash BangOver a year ago, I downloaded Kellen Burden‘s Flash Bang from the Amazon free list.

Description from Goodreads:
Sebastian Parks is drowning in a flood of his own creation. Dishonorably discharged from the Army, he’s wracked with night terrors and an anger that he can’t abate. Unemployable and uninterested in anything resembling a normal job, Parks makes his living in fugitive apprehension, finding wanted felons on Facebook and thumping them into custody with his ex-military buddies John Harkin and Eric “Etch” Echevarria. When the body of a teenage Muslim boy is found in front of a downtown Denver nightclub Parks, Harkin and Etch are called on to do what they do best: Find bad men and make them pay.

Wow, color me impressed! I went into this book with very few expectations, but I sure didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Parks is such an incredibly compelling character. He’s funny in a sarcastic, ironic, somewhat desperately sad sort of way. You really feel him and hope ’till the end for his better tomorrow. The book is told from his first person point of view and the narrative is definitely indicative of his mental headspace. Here is an example (pulled pretty much at random):

When we’re done eating, she sighs, a very satisfied, pleasant sound. I don’t remember the last time I sighed because I was content, and there’s something about the way she does it that makes me hope for myself.
Says: “Okay. So, to business.”
And I nod, say: “I really appreciate you doing this for me.”
Says: “Tarik’s geography teacher didn’t have a lot to say about him.

Notice the use of Say (him)and Says (the other person in a conversation). This is how a lot of the book is written and it takes a little while to get used to. It’s not technically proper and it’s undeniably clipped, but stylistically, for a strong, damaged, silent-type, ex-CID soldier character it works perfectly.

And the man is damaged. He’s a bit of an anti-hero. Though not named, he’s obviously suffering some PTSD issues and struggling with guilt and feeeeeelllings. His two partners are fairing better, but they are all pretty much propping each-other up to one extent or another. (And I do love finding this in a book.)

There are a couple running…not gags, so much, but funnies that pop up more than once. My favorite being the “He said ‘Oh’…not like…but like someone asked who stared in Die Hard and you said Bruce Willis.” It’s dryly funny in context, believe me. I think I highlighted about half the book just because I found so many of the passages memorable for one reason or another—humor or poignancy or just blatant, unexpected honesty.

This book was a surprise hit for me. It’s gritty, and violent, and darkly noir-like. I found myself telling my husband about it in the exact same manner our seven-year-old reports the grand adventured of Phineas and Ferb at the dinner table. Though it’s only Jan. 4, I wouldn’t be surprised to find I finish the year with this still in my top 5 reads of 2015.

Review of Strength of the Pack (The Tameness of the Wolf, #1) by Kendall McKenna

Strength of the PackI grabbed a copy of Kendra McKenna‘s Strength of the Pack on a day it was running free from the publisher (which is a bit of a miracle since it’s normally $8.99).

Description from Goodreads:
A Marine werewolf and his commander bring legends to life while surviving combat deployment in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Lucas Young doesn’t know much about shifters. When Sergeant Noah Hammond is assigned to Lucas’ platoon, the Marine Corps’ True Alpha werewolf challenges the Lieutenant’s authority and his self-control. As Lucas learns to dominate and command Noah, he struggles against a strong attraction and deepening emotional bond. During their combat deployment to Afghanistan, Lucas and Noah begin mirroring legendary partnerships. Their bond and their power grow as they survive dangerous combat and ambushes. When one of them is wounded in battle, they both must embrace the strength of their bond before they lose each other forever.

I’m disappointed. I was really looking forward to reading this book and it started off so well. For close to half of it, I was loving it. I thought both Lucas and Noah were damn sexy. I thought the sexy-scenes were hot (even if there was no actual sex). I thought the set up to go to war was interesting. I happen to have a special love of scenting in fantasy romance/erotica and there is a lot of that here. I was truly enjoying the experience.

The problem is that the book then had its second half, which pretty much just felt like the first half on repeat. It takes far, far, far too long for the relationship to progress. In the mean time, the characters keep doing the exact same things over and over and over again. The author even uses the same phrases to describe the same actions a lot of times. So, honestly, it just feels like the exact same sexy scene again and again (but still no sex until the very end).

I was annoyed by that, but I would have tolerated it. What finally snapped my patience was the fact that the two men had a psychic bond. They were literally in each-others’ heads, hearing thoughts, sharing emotions, etc. So, I find it 100% and absolutely unbelievable that Lucas could go sooooo long without realising Noah’s true feelings or that his situation was not just a professional one. It was beyond the realms of reasonable believability, therefore extremely frustrating to watch the relationship stagnate because one character hasn’t figured something out that I can’t understand how he couldn’t see. Plus, he’d practically been told more than once by more than one person. Gah!

Then there was the whole Dominant of the True Alpha thing. For the first half I understood it (even if I had to force myself to overlook the obvious contraction of it). Lucas was shown to be…well, dominating of Noah. But by the second half he had fizzled out to the average mm romance ‘bottom’ and any domination that might have been happening was not by him. So, it lost all significance for me. Let’s just call a mate a mate and stop trying to dress it up as new and unusual.

The writing was fine. The editing was passable. I noticed a few mishaps, but not enough to bother me. All in all, an OK read that felt far worse than it was because I had such high hopes, but also really was not as good as it could have been, for fairly obvious and easily fixable reasons.