The Cupid Reconciliation by Mike Underwood

Disclaimer: I received an eARC from the Author. In addition, I have backed the Genrenauts Kickstarter.

Twitter Summary: Twice as Much RomCom, just as much Multiverse SF!

Affiliate Links: The Cupid Reconciliation , The Absconded Ambassador ,The Shootout Solution

First Line: Leah Tang hustled into the Genrenauts HQ at nine-o-eight AM and snuck her way to the ready room, exhaling in relief at having escaped King’s anal-retentive time-cop powers.

Review: It is no secret that I’m a fan of Mike Underwood’s work in general , and his Genrenauts series in particular. My previous reviews of the books are Shootout Solution by Mike Underwood and The Absconded Ambassador by Mike Underwood .

One of the features of most of Mike’s stuff is taking genre and it’s trappings (geekery, fandom, tropes) and examining them from a different angle. He has a gift for writing genre that revels in genre. Much like a child taking apart the DVD player to see how it works, Mike likes to get down to the elements that make up genre and twist them around.

In the Cupid Reconciliation, Mike manages to write about a group of people who are investigating and dealing with a RomCom¬† story line, while simultaneously being part of their own RomCom story line. I don’t know how he story boarded that, but the idea of figuring all that out gives me a headache.

Really, my only criticism of the story, mainly that the antagonist seems a little paint by the numbers/cardboard cutout is really just another extension of the genre that Mike is lampshading.

Mike has a breezy conversational way of writing that lends itself well to quips, wordgames, and great characterization. He’s able to pack in a lot of quirks and personalities into each of his characters, to really make them separate entities.

Final Verdict: Thoroughly enjoyed, very much recommend supporting the Genrenauts Kickstarter.

It’s already funded, and is working towards audio stretch goals.

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The Cupid Reconciliation by Mike Underwood

Kill Switch by Jonathan Maberry

Disclaimer: I received an eARC from NetGalley. In addition, I have previously participated in fundraisers by the author that resulted in me getting some cool books and swag.

Twitter Summary: Pulse-pounding, weird science popcorn thriller.

Affiliate Links: Kill Switch

First line: Where were you when the lights went out?

The Joe Ledger series is a study in what would happen if you took beat cop Steven Seagal and put him in a world where he has to deal with weird science cryptid versions of such staples as ape men, vampires, and aliens. I don’t really like vampire or zombie novels. This (and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles) is my largest exception.

This is owed in a large part to the author’s penchant for, to put it bluntly, beating the crap out of both the protagonist and the world he lives in. By this point, eight books in, the world Joe Ledger inhabits is far different than our own. Ledger’s world has a LOT less infrastructure remaining.

Having covered zombies, vampires, beastmen, aliens, and other such staples, this time the author delves into the Lovecraft mythos, using that as a baseline for putting the world and Joe Ledger through some more heinous crap. My favorite setpiece is a NASCAR race.

Trust me, you do not want to be at a Jonathan Maberry NASCAR race.

The first line of the book, immediately informs the reader that there isn’t going to be much downtime in this book. The pace of the story isn’t just fast but breakneck, hurling towards the end. This isn’t slap dash “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” though. Maberry skillfully builds the tension, throwing in a couple of false climaxes and a few twists, while maximizing the payoff. In true action movie fashion, there’s not much rest for the wicked afterwards, either.

Final Verdict: Highly Recommended. I have preordered each since the 3rd, and I see no reason to stop.

Other recommendations:

Supernatural thriller novels: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole and Seal Team 666 by Weston Ochse

Kill Switch by Jonathan Maberry

Ctrl-Alt-Revolt by Nick Cole

Preface: I was given an ARC for this novel by the author.

Twitter Summary: A zanier, more localized Robopocalypse.

Amazon Affiliate Link: CTRL ALT Revolt!

I ran across Nick Cole’s Soda Pop Soldier because I can no longer bring my Kindle to work, and needed something to read in deadtree. The title, and then the cover art caught my eye, and after reading it, I tweeted to the author, which lead to eventually getting this ARC, which really led to me deciding it was time to get a review site. I’ve been blessed with ARCs from a few authors, and I decided that I wanted to give back more than just Amazons/Goodreads reviews.

Ctrl is a prequel to Soda Pop, but you’re not going to miss any plot points if you haven’t read Soda Pop first. There are definitely a few nods to continuity, but this is a stand alone story.

While not a comedy book, it’s significantly less grim and dystopian than most “Singularity results in machines trying to kill us stories.” There is a level of slapstick comedy involved, resulting in some great moments such as one of the characters cosplaying Evil Dead Bruce Campbell, a protagonist with the name of Fish, and various and sundry geek references strewn throughout. It’s a story that has fun with the tropes involved.

Most of my issues with the book come in the last twenty percent. I enjoyed the Deus ex Machina and thought it was foreshadowed well, but some are going to see it as coming out of left field. My main concern though, is that there seem to be a lot of plot threads that get dropped near the end. A couple of the characters just… don’t show up anymore.

My favorite parts of the book were the same as my favorite parts of Reamde, the video game world building. I love the explanations of how decisions were made, and while I miss the math/geology/science of Stephenson’s take, I much prefer the fact that Nick COle doesn’t seem like he’s beating me over the head with info, and that it’s well integrated into the story.

This book was exactly what I wanted to be. A fun romp with killer robots, men with chainsaw arms, and some cool worldbuilding.

Final Verdict: Enjoyed and the author will go on my pre-order/must buy list.

Other Recommendations:

AI Uprising stories: Wyrm by Mark Fabi and Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Near future: Reamde by Neal Stephenson (Minus the eighty page gun battle. Just skim that) and Daemon by Daniel Suarez

ADDENDUM: The book that originated the world, Soda Pop Soldier, was published by HarperCollins. When the author offered me an ARC I didn’t realize that the book was being self-published by him, through Amazon. His explanation for that is here. Banned by the Publisher

My only opinion on that post is that things are rarely that black or white, that I am reluctant to form any other opinion without hearing from some of the other principals involved, and that “Banned by the Publisher” seems very hyperbolic.

What I do know is that while I did thoroughly enjoy the book, there were some sections that I believe the author’s beliefs on trans persons, social justice, and “political correctness” shown through in such a way that I was not surprised to find that he identifies as a conservative or that he is a supporter of GamerGate and Sad Puppies.

Ctrl-Alt-Revolt by Nick Cole