Scavenger Girl – Season of Atchem

Scavenger Girl – Season of Atchem

Jennifer Arnston

Una lives with her family outside the village. They are scabs, with no rights, no protection under the law. Not only are they supposed to be invisible as they dig through trash heaps for things they can use, but any citizen who speaks to them can lose their position and become scabs themselves. The Authority rules the people with law and religion.

Together with her mother, father and two brothers, Una ekes out a living. The only cloud on the horizon is when she may be sold as a slave to some citizen. She meets Blue, the grandson of the only citizen who is kind to them, and things start changing and shifting out of Una’s control. There are secrets which challenge everything she thinks she knows about herself, and that is only the beginning.

Scavenger Girl shows that dystopian books don’t need to be set in the future. Jennifer has created a dystopian as compelling and bleak as any other I’ve seen. Una is a compelling and flawed heroine, and we’ve only begun to see her development.  The supporting cast is varied and well drawn. The plot will keep you telling Una to stop being foolish and make the obvious right decision, yet aware of her frailty.

I recommend this book to lovers of dystopian fantasy, and fantasy lovers who like a bit of edge to their reading.

Look for it to be available Oct 21, 2017 through Amazon

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The Beast of Talesend

The Beast of Talesend

Kyle Robert Shultz

The Beast of Talesend is set in a world in which fairy tales are history. Distant history, and most of the people no longer believe in Magic. Nicholas Beasley made his living debunking magic, proving it was a fraud. Then Lord Whitlock a long time enemy of Nicholas’ hires him for a job. Things get strange as Lord Whitlock’s daughter has plans of her own. When those plans go sideways, Nick has to change his understanding of the world.

The plot is a great introduction to them as first in a series, though this a standalone book.

This is a fun read, the characters are unique and well developed. It reads a bit like Jim Butcher meets Snow White, but Kyle doesn’t make the mistake of pushing too many fairy tales into the one story. He leaves plenty for the rest of the series. What he does bring in he twists in wonderful ways.

I highly recommend the book for people who enjoy fantasy.

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Frankenstein Reborn

Frankenstein Reborn

Dean C. Moore

Soren fights a minotaur, paying attention to the women who watches him from the shadows. He follows her, discovering she is not nearly as impressed with him as he is with her. Events conspire to force her and her group of friends to cooperate with Soren to deal with evil beings being brought to Earth by Victor, a man who intends to rule the world.

This book is Dean’s usual mix of technology and spirituality, but he throws magic into the pot and stirs. What you get is a captivating tale of a possible near future where technology has split humans into different regions by interest, and where people can be, almost, anything they desire.

He explores the costs of those desires and the need, even for the most advanced humans, for relationships.

I recommend the book for those who are interested in transhumanism, but also people who want a different take on dystopia from the usual youth rebelling against an oppressive government. There is some strong language in the book.

You can buy the book here.

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White Wolf and the Ash Princess

White Wolf and the Ash Princess

Tammy Lash

I came to this book through an online book club. These days I have trouble reading a book in more than half hour bits, but this book grabbed me and pulled me into the story. Izzy lives in a cottage with Jonathan and Miss Margaret. She has a young friend name Tubs who plays an ongoing game with her as she tries to guess his name. Izzy has forgotten everything prior to arriving at the cottage, Jonathan is holding her past for her, but she wants to know what he knows about her.

Izzy is covered with burns and we gradually learn the cause, which is also the reason she spends most of her time in the library reading. Even Jonathan can’t convince her to go past the wall of the garden. One day when Jonathan is off on one of his trips, Izzy is convinced by Tubs to go fishing with him. To her amazement she is able to follow him past the wall, and thus begins the unravelling of her life.

The book took me by surprise several times. It is not what I originally imagined from the opening, then it goes on to keep morphing in new and unexpected directions. The pleasant thing is the story always make sense and comes together at the end in a powerful conclusion. Izzy is a fascinating character, she begins timid as a mouse, but makes a conscious choice to be brave and it changes both her and the people around her.

The people in the book are varied and well drawn, then change through circumstance as they learn and grow.

I recommend the book for people who like Native American stories and history.

You can buy the book here.

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River of Teeth

River of Teeth

Sarah Galley

I’d heard about this book which brought feral hippos to the Mississippi River in an alternate history. The concept is irresistible, so when I had a chance to pick up the book, I snatched it.

The story runs like this Houndstooth is asked to deal with the feral hippos in the Harriet, a swamp which is bordered on the north by a dam and the south by a gate. Travers is the owner of a number of riverboats in the Harriet where he runs a gambling empire using the hippos as deterrent and punishment. Houndstooth and his companions ride their domestic hippos as they put their plan into action.

My problem is the characters are hardly developed past their role in the operation. One is introduced only to produce a shock in the next chapter. Some of them have interesting relationships, but I have a hard time imagining them existing outside the action of the moment, as if they leaped fully formed onto the page.

Aside from this the book is an enjoyable enough read. The idea of the hippos and the implementation of them is well introduced (there is a sequel to arrive soon). There are sufficient moments in the book to carry it past the weakness of the characterization. If you like westerns in which role is more important than character, you will thoroughly enjoy this book. If you like to see what the auto does with a very strange concept, you’ll have fun.

I recommend the book for people who are looking for a fun read, who want to see what Sarah does with hippos in the Mississippi.

You can buy the book here.

 

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The Golem of Wacza

The Golem of Wazca

Oliver D’Alton

The Golem of Wazca is an interesting concept. I like the idea of golems, created by Jewish magic, though the magician here is Christian, or at nominally. Religion doesn’t play a big part, except as something forbidden by the Emperor, and one character’s mania.

The Emperor sends his soldiers through the peasant villages, raping, looting and kidnapping children to be trained as soldiers. Five people in Wazca, not exactly friends, but people who share a hate, decide to ask a hermit for help. The result is the golem, a stone being with no soul and no remorse, who much be controlled by a human. It destroys progressively larger forces set against it, while sparking new growth and defiance in the human population.

The book promises to be the opening of an epic fantasy, and as one would expect, a large part of it is setting the scene. This doesn’t mean there is no action or plot, but all of it serves the purpose of setting up the greater conflict to come. The characters are a mixed bag, some are complex and layered while others remain the usual tropes. Space is left for those people to grow in future books.

I enjoyed the story, and watching the pieces move into place. Personally, I found the need to stop for a detailed description of each new character a bit annoying, but not enough to spoil the read. It is written in Third Person Omniscient and does a good job of it for the most part. A little stronger feel for the narrator would help smooth it out.

My major complaint I can’t say much about as I don’t want to spoil anything for the reader, but the ending left me disappointed. I look for a conclusion in books, even those which are part of larger series. Like many, this story ends somewhat arbitrarily as if the author had reached his word count and stopped. I’ll admit to being old-fashioned in this regard, and those who are used to long series with no intermediate conclusions will have no trouble with the ending, other than needing to wait for the next book.

I would recommend the book to those who like epic fantasy, and especially look for a different culture as a base. For more information on the book and to read a sample, check here.

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Setup: Android Assassins

Setup: Android Assassins

Dean C. Moore

In my opinion, this is Dean’s best book to date. Max Chase witnesses the assassination of a super-spy by androids and immediately guesses he’s been setup up by the notorious FBI Future Division. He attempts to warn his family to hide and stay clear, but given neither his wife nor son like him, his warning falls on deaf ears, at least until they uncover part of the plot themselves.

In Setup we are given a near perfect mix of cutting edge science, sardonic wit and family dynamics. Dean likes showing the ultimate technology as spiritual, but in this book, he makes that work in a way which feels natural and satisfying.

If you like interesting characters, humour and out there science and conspiracies, this book is definitely for you. If you enjoy a good thriller romp around the globe, you’ll like Setup.

The book will be release June 18, so keep an eye out for this fun read.

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The Making of Legend

The Making of Legend

Richard Barrs

Andrew Biman is a General, son of a General and the fastest rising star in the 56. He’s never failed a mission. Not until he’s asked to be on the Interplanetary Congress. He’s given one last mission which falls apart dramatically and within days he’s running for his life wanted for murder and treason.

Andrew is not about to stand still and wait for the corrupt people who framed him to finish him off. A prototype ship, a rescued princess an enemy turned friend. Andrew’s life will never be the same, but neither will the 56.

This book is as much character study as space opera. Andrew is an interesting character as he is reshaped by events into something very different from who we met at the start, but all the characters grow and shift. There are no cardboard cutouts here.

The space opera is still rollicking action with a few darker tinges than most. More reality for the characters to encounter. The ending is well constructed which makes Richard an author to watch as he works through the series. I recommend this to any who like sci-fi especially space opera and battle plots.

You can buy the book here.

 

 

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Runs Good, No Reverse

From 12 am Pacific time through to Sunday April 2nd, Mike’s book is available free on Amazon. This is a great opportunity to check it out.

Runs Good, No Reverse

Mike Hershman

Mike Hershman’s book about a boy and an 89 Nissan with no reverse gear is the first book to be reviewed under my new process. What attracted me to the book was the understated narration and background feeling that this was a ridiculous purchase.

The narrator and his friend, Fred drive the car home and learn the narrator’s girlfriend Stacy is less than impressed. This is a problem as she is the reason for getting the car in the first place. The narrator’s life is quickly divided into people who think he’s insane to have bought a car with no reverse, and those who admire his determination to make it work. Over the course of the next few months, that car changes his life, and touches a lot of people around him.

Mike maintains the low key narration through the book. The highest point of drama is a threatened suspension over parking on the street. That doesn’t mean there is no emotion or no place which tug at the heart strings, but the book trusts the reader to engage and care about two likable, average boys doing the best they can.

In the end the book is an ode to the fixer-upper car, which is often the first car a young person can afford. Unfortunately with changing technology, they are a dying breed. It is necessity which teaches the basics of car maintenance, and then more advanced work. The car which was bought to impress Stacy becomes a project in its own right.

This is an easy to read book either for those nostalgic for their first beater, or for those who are considering a car which requires them to become at least part grease-monkey. I highly recommend it.

You can buy the book here.

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Unkillable: The Futurist

Unkillable: The Futurist

Dean C Moore

“Unkillable brings a mix of serial killer, mutant critters, and the scary edge of technology to a gritty thriller. Adrian Maslow is the lead Futurist with the FBI, so well-known that criminals brag about being caught by him. This newest case is shaking Adrian’s confidence as the killer is not only killing and dismembering their victims, but bringing them back to life, sort of.

Dean brings a robust cast of characters to the story, each who have their own strengths and quirks. The science, the growth of the human species, and the ability of individuals to function in a world which is changing more rapidly every day, all play a part as the team fights to make a future which humanity will survive.”

Dean’s books tend to be heavy on science or on sex, this one is both. If you are offended by sex, the book is not for you. References are constant and detailed. Dean has managed to integrate this aspect of the book with his book and characters very well, so it didn’t throw me out of the story.

The science is also very present and sometimes very expository, but it all feeds back to the mystery at hand, so I didn’t find it heavy to wade through.

The book reads almost like two books as there is a definite switch in the nature of the plot. This is accompanied by a drastic switch in how sex is used in the context of the story. In the first section, characters mostly talk about sex as a release from the pressures of the job. In the latter part, sex is no longer talked about, but acted out. The purpose also shifts from stress relief to the shaping of personality and inter-personal dynamics.

For the most part I enjoyed the book, the first half more than the second. I might have ended the book sooner, though I understand why Dean worked it the way he did.

If you have a high tolerance for sex and science, and like a good thriller, this book is for you.

You can get the book here.

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