Category Archives: Scott Asher

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.

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.

Everybody, Always by Goff

I’d heard so much good stuff about Goff’s Love Does (2012) with 3000+ reviews on Amazon with a 5 star rating! I was excited to get my hands on his follow-up book, Everybody, Always (2018), which also has a 5 star rating with over 1200 reviews on Amazon. With so many people loving these books, I was bummed to find that I had mixed feelings.

Everybody, Always
by Bob Goff
Thomas Nelson
April 2018

Before I get into the things I wasn’t enthusiastic about, let me first say that I listened to this audiobook read by Goff himself and it was excellent. Goff is clearly a true believer and his enthusiasm and story telling are outstanding. There is almost nothing in this book that I wouldn’t want people to emulate or attempt to do in their own life. But there are some thing I think Goff responds to by going from one extreme to the opposite extreme. From legalism to hyper grace, from in-your-face proselytizing to vague loving acts. I think at root here, Goff has too much faith in humanity’s ability and desire to be good and do good works. Let me give some examples.

Goff seems to believe that humans are inherently good. At one point he says that the difference between the sheep and the goats (Matt 25) was those who “just didn’t know what to do so they did nothing.” That is absolutely not what Jesus is saying here. Jesus is calling out a callousness of heart. Goff is making excuses for the goats. Which is it? The total depravity of mankind means that we are inherently selfish and sinful. We don’t always premeditatedly sin, but to say we sin only on accident is equally incorrect. We choose to give and love because He first loved us. Without this regeneration, we could do good things sometimes but we wouldn’t actually be good. So unregenerate people aren’t frozen by a lack of understanding how to take care of those in need. They don’t want to. Those are the goats Jesus is talking about.

He also focuses on good works without providing the reason why we are doing them (the hope that lies within). When I heard Goff say, over and over, that you don’t need to tell people about Jesus, but just love people like he did I recoiled. There are so many stories, like, how he sometimes buys 20 In-N-Out burgers and drives around giving them out to people who are hungry. This is a great story and I agree that it is definitely a loving and kind thing to do – something we are commanded to do by God. But the reason for why we should do this is where I’m confused and I think Goff is missing the whole picture. Why do we love people? Because Christ first loved us. Do we love only because of Christ? Do we love only when it’s a selling point for Christianity? Of course not. But why one or the other? Why not both? I wondered about the motive here. Is our motive to make the world less sucky? Or is it to point a dying world to the life-giver?

Goff says things that lead me to believe that the whole purpose of Christianity is to love our neighbors with good works “patience, kindness and understanding.” But nothing at all about making disciples. In case you think I’m splitting hairs, it’s not me! He keeps making division where none needs be.

“Knowing things about the Bible is terrific, but I’d trade in a dozen bible studies for a bucket full of love and acceptance. And truth be told, so would everyone around us.” Why not both? We learn to love by learning about God’s love for us, which is in the Bible. Studying the Bible is where we learn our purpose – and it’s not just kindness, patience and understanding. It’s also speaking truth, teaching others about God and the right way to live (disciplining).

Ironically, Goff continues to tell us to not tell others about their behavior and how to act yet his whole book is his attempt to tell us how to live.

Goff, to me, is an example of an overreaction to the hyper legalism of those who stand with signs and shake their finger at the sinful world around them. So turned off by the unloving attitude and behavior, Goff responds by going too far toward “loving” that they go from one rut on the side of the road, across the road to the rut on the other side. The narrow path is a razor’s edge that’s difficult to stay on. We have to avoid judgmentalism, legalism, finger pointing and disdain AND total affirmation of the unrepentant and good works.

One last thing. I was struck by was the overwhelming sense that Goff’s life is richer than mine and probably most of the people who would read this. I mean richer in the sense of he is clearly richer than the average reader. He buys cars and airplanes and houses whenever he wants. He travels half a million miles a year. He can do anything he wants. But I can’t and probably you can’t either.
For instance, he gets a collect call from a prison, which costs $9.95. He accepts that call at least three times in that story, then buys an ankle bracelet that costs so much that Goff says he “gasps and clutched his chest” but he pays it for a stranger. I tried to find how much that would by searching online and it looks like this was probably a couple hundred bucks to set up then maybe $10-20 a day. Goff said this bracelet costs him a “bundle.” This one story has Goff paying an unexpected several hundred dollar charge. The stories in the previous chapters where he rents airplanes or even buys a water airplane are even more. Can you afford this? I can’t. So as I listened I kept thinking that many of these stories were out of touch with average Christian.

This isn’t to suggest that if we get that call that costs $9.95 we shouldn’t accept it. We should. And we should give out food, donate to the Goodwill or shelters, volunteer time for charities and be kind to people we meet. It was that I was turned off by Goff’s generally expensive examples of these. It didn’t come across as encouraging, but discouraging. It felt like I was reading about the privileges of wealth were a guy tells us about all his extra time, extra money and perfect family with his daredevil sky diving and airplane flying son and his “Sweet Maria.”

Like I said at the beginning of this review, I liked the book for the most part. And if a reader hears and acts more loving then great! But I think this is a shallow Christianity that has more in common with the feel good Osteen faith than the real Gospel that focuses on not just making someone feel better in their sin, but helping them find life and relationship with Christ and feeling better about the freedom that they now have from sin.


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.

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.

Dead Six by Correia & Kupari

I didn’t know what to expect here. This book was recommended to me and I actually thought it was scifi. I thought it would be all the way to the half way punt when I realized that “Dead Six” wasn’t some kind of matrix style VR thing. This is straight up warfare, like a Call of Duty game set in the world of today.

And I liked it.

Dead Six
by Larry Correia & Mike Kupari
Baen
September 2011

It’s been a really long time since I read a pulp military thriller. I gave up on popular fiction like Clancy or Cussler when I realized every book was the same. This has the thrills, a significantly more MA rating, and wasn’t by the numbers.

I enjoyed the two main characters and how they had their own personalities, capabilities and interests. I liked the secondary characters although when you get into it you realize there aren’t a ton of different characters, just the same ones over and over: techy, heavy gunner, their, hot lady who also can fight, rich criminal, etc.

And because there were so many characters the narrator starts to recycle voices. I’ve enjoyed this narrator before, but it seemed this time people were either nasally or gravelly.

I’m definitely going to read the next one.


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.

It Can’t Happen Here by Lewis

I’m a fan of cautionary stories like Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm and 1984 so I thought I would enjoy this book, but I was wrong.

It Can’t Happen Here
by Sinclair Lewis
1935

Unlike the messages of those other books – control of information, totalitarianism, surveillance state, thought control, dangers of socialism/communism due to human nature – the message here that fascism could take root in America like it did in Germany and Spain doesn’t survive the antiquated time and setting of the story. Further, the main character seems to bounce around from Liberal to Communist to a sympathizer of socialism in his fight against fascism. And like most of these types of books from the early-mid 1900s the issues are more important than the story, which suffers by the end. Listening through this book was tedious.

The Audible narrator is pretty perfect for this book, though. Exactly the old timey sound I would want.


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.

Jennifer Blood, Vol. 1 by Ennis and Batista

With the release of Garth Ennis’ The Boys on Amazon, I’ve been checking out some of his previous work. Jennifer Blood is one such work.

Jennifer Blood, Volume 1
A Woman’s Work is Never Done
written by Garth Ennis
art by Adriano Batista
Dynamite
Feburary 2012

From the publisher: “Jennifer Blood is a suburban wife and mom by day – and a ruthless vigilante by night! Every day she makes breakfast, takes the kids to school, cleans the house, naps for an hour or two, makes dinner, puts the kids to bed, and kisses her husband goodnight. This suburban punisher is ready to be unleashed in a story that can only be told by the legendary Garth Ennis. Collecting issues #1-6 of the hit series, along with additional bonus material, sketches, cover gallery, and interview with Garth Ennis!”

The first five issues in this collection start with “Jennifer” narrating the story of her revenge against her uncles in her diary. The story is driven largely by the diary text and we know very little of what is going on until mid-issue five. All we know is that this woman lives a normal life during the day but has been planning for a long time to go on a killing spree of this mafia-like family over the course of a week. It is entertaining and violently satisfying. But then at the end of issue five, Ennis seems to want to speed things up so the diary says she will stop writing until the main bad guy (and last uncle) is killed. Issue 6 starts – starts! – with the infiltration of his base complete, all his men dead, and him dying while “Jennifer” spends almost the whole issue explaining to the uncle (and us) why she is on the killing spree. It completely jumps away from the cool planning aspects and straight to exposition. It feels rushed and unfinished.

There are multiple other volumes written by Al Ewing so the story goes somewhere, I guess. But the first volume falls flat. It builds to the very baddest of the bad guys and then just fast forwards to the end. I hope that The Boys doesn’t follow this template.


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.

Solaris by Lem

I had no idea what to expect here. the description seems to imply a love story and Very Serious Deep Thoughts. Man was I disappointed.

Solaris: The Definitive Edition
By Stanislaw Lem
Audible
1961

I’m going to tell you what I wish someone had told me [SPOILERS]: this is boring as heck. Not the charming slow moving classic SciFi with quaint science and thoughts on the future. No, this is an incredibly long winded story where long sections are nothing but back story on the planet. At first I thought it was interesting and wll thought out. After a time I just want to move on.

As for love, the way the main character treats the female lead is incredibly chauvinistic and demeaning. Very little actual love. In fact, he “falls in love” with the alien created version of his dead wife for almost no reason even though he loves her for not being his wife. Huh? If he doesn’t love her because she looks and acts like his wife what exactly is it he loves? Her lack of memory? Her charm? The fact that she a fake version of his dead wife? Makes no sense. But he does fall in love with his suicidal alien construct. Maybe. I don’t care. This story isn’t about love, it is about a man who longs for something he can’t have. That’s not romantic. It’s pathetic.

The alien (Ocean) is interesting. You’ll get no resolution here and that’s actually fine. But I’d prefer more time spent on the Ocean than on the constructs. A better solution is the main character recognizing that the Ocean is sentient and attempting to contact it, rather than longing for his dead wife/ dead construct to come back.

I powered through this but I don’t recommend it. There are simply too many better options.


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.

Discriminations and Disparities by Sowell

Current events and cultural hot topics can be very difficult to understand. The media, pop culture and uninformed loud people on social media all have opinions. But what’s really going on? That’s why I chose to go to a real expert.

Discrimination and Disparities
By Thomas Sowell
Read by Robertson Dean
Blackstone Audio, Inc
March 2018

I’ve come to realize that almost everything is more complicated than people think they are. Sowell’s book is an extremely readable explanation of how, all too often, people settle for prevailing sympathies instead of digging into the reality that no one thing causes no other one thing. Starting in the very first chapter, Sowell uses examples to explain in very easy to understand ways how only one-factor out of many can impact chances for disparity in outcome.

Sowell moves through several common misconceptions about how the world is the way it is and why certain policies have unintended consequences. While not advocating for any political party, Sowell is clearly Capitalist and open market. He makes compelling arguments that seeing decisions through an economic world view can help us make decisions that are based on facts rather than feelings.

I found this to be very interesting and read it in only two days.


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.