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The Reluctant Reaper: Death Is What Happens While You’re Making Other Plans by Gina X. Grant #review

The teaser for this book sounded really quirky and fun. Like a mish-mash of Piers Anthony and Dead Like Me. I love the Xanth novels. I loved Dead Like Me for the 2 seasons I got to enjoy it (thanks alot Showtime). Combining the two seemed like a good idea.

In fact I still think it is a good idea. Just not as executed in this book.

Gina X. Grant fails to create characters that are sympathetic or even really likeable. Kirsty is an annoying whiner. She also seems incredibly dense. They way her actual death is set up makes her seem like the least observant, slowest person in the world. This is due to the heavy handed way the story is setup. The reader is being smacked upside the head with hints and clues that a 2 year old couldn’t miss. There is no subtlety or craft employed.

So we find ourselves reading a scene with more bad situation warning bells than a Scary Movie sequel and wondering how on earth our protagonist Kirsty could possibly be so naive. And the truth is there is no plausible or logical way she could be.

This is how we meet a reaper named Dante.

Yes – that Dante.

Who in this book is a ridiculously awkward man-boy with no eloquence. Seriously no eloquence from the guy who wrote The Inferno?

I wish I had stopped reading there.

Puns the world over should be rising up in revolt against their shabby treatment in this book. Where Piers Anthony deftly wields puns to create whimsically literal worlds and situations – Ms. Grant lobs them about like a drunken darts player. Instead of being seamlessly woven into the story she is creating they seemed forced and often painfully setup.

I wanted to like, even love this book. But I just couldn’t. Aside from essentially uninteresting main characters and poor use of puns, the story itself felt cursory and pedantic. She attempted to create a new and different idea of Hell. Some of the elements had great potential. Sadly that potential was unrealized.

I still think the underlying idea could be pretty brilliant.

I was provided a gratis copy of this book for review.

Legends of Amun Ra – The Emerald Tablet

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I started Legends of Amun Ra- The Emerald Tablet with high hopes.
I have been interested in myths and legends, specifically Greek and Egyptian since I was a wee little one. This book sounded like it would mix some of my favorite old legends with a modern sci-fi twist.
Joshua Silverman has created a concept that is very intriguing, playing on the whole Stargate idea of aliens and earth’s history. The basic ideas behind the story are great. The execution is not quite as flawless.
Let me start with the fact there are typos and other errors in the copy I received – which is an ebook. The formatting was off. There were lines of space in the middle of sentences for no reason and page breaks in incorrect places. This made it difficult to read. Occasionally some of the text almost appeared formatted for poetry – I hope that was unintentional as it made no sense. The choice of order for some of the chapters and how they were divided was confusing as well.
I understand the need to provide exposition and back story – but it is not done in a very easily understandable manner. I can respect wanting to create mystery and questions that will be answered, but that needs to be tempered with making sure the reader can firmly grasp everything they need to enjoy and understand the rest of the story.
And the one, for this book, semi-graphic sex scene at the beginning of chapter 2 seems like it comes from a completely different book. It felt ill-fitting the first time I read it and I understood why after finishing the book. It doesn’t match with anything else in the book and what needed to be conveyed in that scene could have been provided in another way – much less awkwardly.
The story itself is an interesting one. Leoros is an adolescent boy who has been dragged around the world by his archaeologist mom. It is on one such dig that Leoros manages to get himself transported to another planet via an Egyptian artifact.
One thing I am still not clear on is how this other planet (and the moon that some people were banished to) fit into our timeline. At times it seemed as if the number of years talked about on Earth versus this other planet were not matching up.
There are some very interesting characters and when I could force myself past the poor formatting and rather heavy handed writing I found myself being drawn into the story. Unfortunately I would be popped right back out when I had to pause to try to clarify some point by going back in the book or when there was no clarification or reason for something that I could find.
Complicated interesting stories are great but they can’t be so complicated as to be rendered almost incomprehensible. At times it felt almost as if too many ideas were being worked into one story. Egyptian mythology, magic, coming of age, space travel, saving the world, falling in love, rebelling against your parents, revenge, action – it is quite a bit for one story. Not to mention jumping back and forth between Earth, a far off planet and some moon and about 12 different story lines.
The ending of this book really chapped my hide though. It was as if someone cut the power to the TV 10 minutes before end of a movie you had never seen or ripped out the last 10 pages of a book you had never read.
It may seem like I am being really harsh and critical – and I am – but it is because there is some really great potential in there. Joshua Silverman needs a really firm editor to help focus his ideas and he could be creating something amazing. Someone to help him sift through and hone what is a potentially a really great story.
All in all this is a book with great potential but that probably needed another round of editing before being released.