Category Archives: Fiction

Panga Online: Death and Axes by Rowland

I enjoyed Sentenced to Troll so I was happy to check out these two books. While I enjoyed this book the similarities to Ready Player One in plot and characters and even environments are really hard to miss. I’m showing this book came out six years later so which influenced which seems obvious.

Death and Axes

Pangea Online #1

By S.L. Rowland

Self-published

2017

But to be clear, a pastiche is a work that imitates not plagiarizes another work. So I am not saying that. And, I’m also not saying it’s a rehash. It just seems clear that this imitates RPO.

How? Both MCs grow up in the stacks/boxes. Both are super poor. Both have a best friend in the game they’ve never met. Both have a love interest met online. Both have a huge immersive MMORPG with many worlds, each having its own rules (science, magic, pirates, 3tc). Both have a huge contest with three phases and leaderboards showing standings. [SPOILERS] Both end with the MC becoming owner/part owner of the game. [END SPOILERS]

However, it was enjoyable. And unlike RPO, this is much more LitRPG with stats, spells and level ups. There also wasn’t an evil corporation trying to take over, so that was nice.

In the end, I enjoyed it like this author’s other work and will definitely read number two.

Enhancer by Kane

A loser every-guy works as a janitor and tech at a local club and has no hope for the future. Then two superpowered men fight to the death right in front of him, one of them with his dying words telling the lower to take a device from him and run. Ty does and joins the ranks of superpowered.

Enhancer
Enhancer Book 1
by Wyatt Kane
Grave Audio Productions
September 2018

The device snaps onto Ty’s arm and he is instantly transformed as nanobots enter his blood stream and analyze then enhance his DNA and capabilities. When he wakes from the initial transformation he finds his body is enhanced and he has a new skill based on his DNA – enhancing technology. Think Toby McGuire in Spider-Man. He’s an almost perfect version of himself. No longer a loser. No longer destined for cleaning toilets.

The setup is pretty standard fare, but the idea that he becomes a technology mastermind rather than an overpowered superman is interesting. His power works well in allowing him to support and enhance the other superheroes. Where this goes would have been interesting to find out. But the book has several key drawbacks, not the least of which is repetitive, low reading level writing and a completely unnecessary and gratuitous focus on sex.

As for writing, every couple of sentences it seemed that the author reworded what he just said. And the same things get repeated throughout the book. How many times did Ty think that the two female heroes were “perfect?” Apparently, every couple pages. How many times do we need to hear about how loathsome Bane is to Ty? Every time they think of each pother. We get it. A thesaurus and an editor who could help tighten this up and raise the reading level. “Some superhero you are!” and “Get them! Don’t let them get away!” and “You little insect!” (real quotes from Bane to Ty at the end of the book,) isn’t exactly The Killing Joke level banter. This isn’t a big deal though as most books that I’ve seen and read recently – especially small publishers or independents – suffer from this gap. It goes with the territory for books in genres like this.

The main reason I’ll not be finishing the series is the juvenile focus on sex. There are three sex scenes in the book. But the conversations and focus is throughout. Ty and other superheroes who have the same alignment (neutral good, Ty’s case) have an overwhelming attraction for each other. From the moment that Ty meets the two female supers all the book is about is how amazingly attractive they are. Tempest is the perfect blonde. Dina is a deer-kin (her body has been adjusted to have hooves, antlers, and mottled skin). The author obviously has some kinks that I don’t share. The first scene is pretty short and a fade to black type scene. Not so bad if they were all like that. The second is a threesome with some more details. The third comes after Dina is kidnapped and the two heroes are despondent about her capture and not sure how to survive so they take the few moments they have before the showdown to have some rough sex. The fourth and final is a full fade to black. To clarify: Ty has known Dina and Tempest for maybe 3 days and there were 4 sex scenes wrapped around a day at work for Ty and a final battle with Dina kidnapped. It’s all about sex, which doesn’t make sense if the story is the point. But since sex is the point, it makes total sense.

This should have been placed in erotica even though this is mild compared to some of that stuff. It isn’t a superhero book or a LitRPG book. As such, I have no time for a poorly written harem erotic book and don’t recommend it.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Ask Me to Stay by Kade

Bree, Zoe, Cara and Jessica are good friends. They will do anything for each other. This is Jessica’s story.

Ask Me To Stay
Against All Odds Book 3
by Savannah Kade
Griffyn Ink
April 2020

Jessica Valverde is an Los Angeles Police Detective. She is a badass and doesn’t take anything from anyone. She is working for a promotion. Alex Copeland, a uniform cop, is always asking her for a date. He is such a flirt, so she just ignores him.

Alex and Rex, his roommate, apartment is on fire. Luckily they were at home. He began evacuating the building. Soon help is on the way. His apartment is toast. Jessica invites him to share her apartment.

Things work out very well as their shifts are different. Jessica goes out on a routine call to identify a body found in an alley. Several detectives and Alex are on the scene. A drive by shooting occurs and her partner is killed. Jessica and a couple others were wounded.

Jessica and Alex settle in a fairly normal routine, but things seem to be changing. Alex is getting to her. She can’t have feelings for him. Alex is also looking at Jessica in a new light. Jessica doesn’t know how to handle this and ask Alex to leave.

Can Alex convince Jessica to give them a chance? Will they find true love together?

I enjoyed the book and recommend it to mature readers.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 89 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

Promise Me Always by Kade

Bree Jessica, Zoe and Cara are good friends. They would do anything for each other. This is Bree’s story.

Promise Me Always
Against All Odds Book 4
Savannah Kade
Griffyn Ink
April 2020

Bree kissed her husband Kevin goodbye in the morning and never saw him alive again. He was killed in an automobile accident. Bree is devastated, she can’t stop crying.

Someone is at the door. Before she can answer, Marco, Kevin’s friend comes in. He has always stayed with them when in town. Marco is an A-listed actor and starting to be recognized. Bree had not told him of Kevin’s death. He is dumbfounded and very upset that she had not notified him. What is he going to do without his brother? He moves in to help her.

Marco continues to go on locations for his movies. Bree is an EMT. Time passes and Bree is still not over Kevin. She has nightmares and calls out for not leave her.

Marco is having feelings for Bree, but she doesn’t seems to recognize them. Marco is scheduled to go to Africa to make a movie. He has had enough – he can’t compete with Kevin, a dead man. When Bree learns he is going alone, leaving her behind, she is devastated.

Will Bree finally see Marco for the man he is and admit she has feelings for him? Will they have a second change to find happiness?

I enjoyed the book and recommend it.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

The Surface by Scudiere

Gage and Jules have graduated and are enrolled at Stanford University. They are settled in their dorm and have made close friends. Suddenly everything changed.

The Surface
Black Carbon – Book #2
by A. J. Scudiere
Griffyn Ink
May 2020

It has rained for days. The water is rapidly rising to a dangerous level. The water is a weird color and something is definitely below the surface , but what?

Several students are missing. Search parties located body parts with strange marking. What is killing the students? Bull sharks are in the first floor of their dorm building. Where have they come from? Things are becoming very dangerous. It is time to seek higher ground. Jules had purchased floating boats. Getting them out of the building created a problem, but they finally got them out the window and were on their way. The route is extremely difficult as they have to stay clear of the sharks in the water.

Finally reaching the housing development above the college, they need to locate an empty house and food. They are attacked by bears and one member is bitten by a rattlesnake . Bears and snakes are not suppose to be in this location. What is happening?

Will the students survive and be rescued? Read the book to find the answer. You will enjoy it.

As usual AJ has written a page-turning book. I enjoy all her books and looking forward to her next one in the Carbon Book Series.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

Steal My Heart by Kade

Cara and Walker are friends with benefits. They have “booty” calls when neither one is involved with someone else.

Steal My Heart
Against All Odds Book 1
By Savannah Kade
Griffyn Ink
March 2020

Cara is looking for the perfect man and Walker isn’t that person. Walker and Cara don’t have a relationship, it’s just sex.

Cara believes she has found the perfect man when she starts dating Clark. He is everything she has been waiting for – a guy who knows how to treat a lady. He takes her to the best restaurants. A perfect gentleman – not rushing her or trying to get her in bed. Walker tells her Clark isn’t who she thinks he is, but she doesn’t listen.

It’s Cara’s birthday and she is tried of waiting for Clark to make his move. Tonight she is going to seduce him. She will go to his apartment and surprise him. She is in for a rude awaking. Arriving at Clark’s apartment, she find him having sex with another woman. She is beyond shocked.

Clark apologizes and wants her to forgive him. He starts sending her flowers, jewelry, even asked her to marry him on the internet. He has become a stalker. She turns to Walker for comfort. He is the only one who will understand.

Will Cara recognize that Walker is her perfect mate? He fulfills every one of her requirements.

Great read. I enjoyed it and look forward to Savannah’s next book.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

8-Bit Bastards Level 2 by Mason

I’ve never zoned out so much during a book as I did with this.

8-bit Bastards Level 2
By Joshua Mason
Spectrum Audiobooks
December 2019

The idea of a retirement in virtual reality where you can do anything you want forever that gradually gets old is fascinating. The 8-bit Easter eggs and gaming mechanics is fun. But the characters were not interesting, IMO, and I never got to the point where I cared what was happening or if they succeeded. The story is not over in this collection and it ends abruptly.

Maybe this will get better as time goes on. I’m just not that interested in finding out.

The writing itself isn’t bad. The narrator does a good job. Production value is high and I loved the occasional sound effects.

 


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

I got this title as a giveaway, but not as a review copy.

Divine Dungeon 1-4 by Krout

I first picked up the first book in the Divine Dungeon series, Dungeon Born, by Dakota Krout over a year ago. After struggling through it I gave up on the series and returned it. I never expected to go back.

Divine Dungeon, 1-4
By Dakota Krout
Mountaindale Press
2019

The problem I had was in understanding a cultivation story. I had misunderstood and mischaracterized this series and assumed it was LitRPG. It’s not, which lead to my frustration.

Dungeon Born, the first book, is about a dungeon. The soul of some poor retch was captured by a necromancer within a gem that became the dungeon. A wisp shows up and for most of the rest of the book, the story is about “Cal” learning to gather in magical resources and cultivate to level up. Why? To build more and more dangerous traps and creatures for the dungeon. Just describing it sounds dull. And even after four books, the truth is that a lot is dull.

I dont get the point of all the detail in the cultivation techniques used or even why the leveling system is so comlicated (it gets more and more as you progress from F to SS, and all the steps in between.) It’s clear that the author spent an incredible amount of time working through everything though.

After hearing so many positive reviews about subsequent books I picked up the rest of the series deciding to give this one more chance. After four book, I’m glad I did.

In the second book, Dungeon Madness, the second book, Cal’s wisp has been stolen by the necromancers. A dungeon that loses its wisp goes mad and Cal is on the verge throughout the book. New characters are introduced and the burgeoning town that has sprung up around the dungeon, Mountaindale, is growing. During this book, I thought the story with the dungeon may take a step back as we focuse on the cuty.

By the end of the third book, the relationship between Cal and Dale, the human “owner” of the dungeon, finally makes sense. And the story could have probably wrapped at the end of Dungeon Calamity and I would have been fine.

Instead, it continues in Dungeon Desolation, the first book where it’s clear that the author has bigger plans for where the story goes. No spoilers, but the ending is great!

The problem I have is that all of the really fun parts are interspersed between long tedious sections of cultivating. There is a war at one point where Dale decided to cultivate for real, I guess, and for most of the war all we hear about it seems is Dale cultivating. In my opinion, probably a third of each book could be condensed and tightened to keep the attention of the reader. It would have worked for me.

However I may have had some complaints, there are some parts that the author should get credit for. I wrote of the complexity, which is well developed, and the master plan in the series. I also appreciated that this book was clean, both in language and content. This means I can listen with my kids and I’m all about finding ways to encourage them and get them hooked on reading.

There is a fifth book, Dungeon Eternium, which I already bought and will read. I’d recommend this to readers who want intensely complex cultivating and an overarching development story included.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

That Night In Nashville by Kade

Hailey had been having the time of her life until she saw him. Maybe it wasn’t him – couldn’t be – in a suit. Adam never wore a suit. He was back in Carroll Hollow ,Tennessee working in the factory. He turns and there he was – Adam Zucker. Maybe he hadn’t seen her. She would go to her dressing room and ignore him.

That Night In Nashville
Ticket to True Love
by Savannah Kade
Griffyn Ink
October 2019

Hailey had left Carroll Hallow to make it big in Nashville. She hadn’t yet made it, but she did have a record label – Heart Beats. She was performing at Nashville Brewer’s Festival and then going on tour.

Hailey and Adam were a couple back in high school with big dreams. Adam’s mother was very controlling, always fouling up things between Hailey and Adam. Hailey had left Carroll Hollow, leaving Adam behind. Now here he was -bigger that life – all her feelings for him came roaring back. When he came the dressing room, she was lost.

After spending time together, talking about what went wrong with their relationship, they discovered they had never stopped loving each other.

Can Hailey and Adam find happiness ever after the second time or will his mother once again foul up everything?

I really enjoyed the book. Highly recommend it to all readers.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

Thor: Goddess of Thunder, Vol. 1

After hearing about Thor 4, I figured I had to read the origin of the Female Thor. After finishing this In not sure it makes much sense.

Thor: Goddess of Thunder, Vol. 1
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Jorge Molina
Marvel
May 2015

Thor is his name, not a title. Seeing a female character get his power through the hammer makes no sense as Thor has the power in him as a god. It also makes no sense for her clothes to change. Whatever, I guess.

Comics are comics. If you’re looking for a primer on the upcoming MCU film, this probably won’t work. Not just because the hammer is destroyed in the films, but also because so little is explained here.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.