More of Me, by Kathryn Evans

more-of-me

Teva’s life seems normal: school, friends, boyfriend. But at home she hides an impossible secret. Eleven other Tevas. Because once a year, Teva separates into two, leaving a younger version of herself stuck at the same age, in the same house… watching the new Teva live the life that she’d been living. But as her seventeenth birthday rolls around, Teva is determined not to let it happen again. She’s going to fight for her future. Even if that means fighting herself.

 

I have a pretty regular reading schedule. I know how long it should take me to read a book based on page counts. When a book is engrossing, I end up breaking my reading rules and reading more. I almost finished Kathryn Evans’ More of Me in a single night. The book is compelling, and finding a chapter break that I could stop for the night was almost impossible.

The story deals with many issues and worries that teenagers have before “officially” becoming adults. Relationships, the future, past mistakes, and family secrets are already pretty tough for sixteen-year-old Teva, but toss in her “condition,” and you just have to keep flipping pages to find out what happens next.

What happens is a taut thriller with mystery elements wrapped up in a science fiction young adult novel. I was a bit skeptical with the premise, but it quickly captured me and wouldn’t let go. I’m glad I took a chance on this story when I saw it on NetGalley.

I wasn’t sure about Teva’s reality several times in the story. Like Paul Cleave’s Trust No One, I kept flip-flopping to what I thought was really going on. The author dropped enough clues and red herrings, which kept me engrossed throughout.

More of Me is definitely a five-star read, and when you start it, make sure you have time to read the whole thing. The kindle version doesn’t come out until June 13th, but the paperback can be had now for just over ten dollars including shipping.

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Following a degree in drama and a short career in theatre, Kathryn Evans quickly realised she was likely to starve unless she got a proper job. She didn’t get a proper job, she married a farmer and set up a strawberry farm. And now she’s writing books, will she never learn?

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War of the Worlds: Retaliation

Chinese cover

I’m sure that I’ve mentioned that John J. Rust and I collaborated on a Historical Fiction sequel to H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. I know I’ve bragged that NYT #1 Best Selling author, James Rollins, liked it. I’m stoked to report that sales are brisk, and we broke the 20k threshold in the Amazon kindle store over the weekend. You already know that the digital, paperback, and hardcover all came out in January. The Spanish paperback and ebook came out this month. March will see the release of the audiobook narrated by Samuel Hoke. April is the German paperback and ebook. And the Chinese version should be out in January 2018. I know, I know, I won’t shut up about my book. It what we authors sometimes do…

John and I are so psyched that this story resonates with so many people. We’ve gotten some really awesome and thoughtful reviews on Amazon US & UK. We have a few glowing five-star reviews, and I want to thank each and every one of you that took the time to read and review. As authors, there’s an unwritten rule that we’re not supposed to respond to reviews, so I have to thank you all here instead of on Amazon or GoodReads. I wanted to remind those of you who are interested, but haven’t yet pulled the trigger, that the $5.99 Kindle version is an introductory price, and after the Amazon infamous 90-day cliff, the price will go up. Also, for those of you who are retailers, the 55% wholesale discount on the hardcover will also end on the same date.

John and I will be at the Payson Book Festival in late July. It occurred to me that I’ve never introduced you blog denizens to John. That’s a gross oversight on my part since without him, War of the Worlds: Retaliation would not exist. Here’s John’s official bio:

John J. Rust was born in New Jersey. He studied broadcasting and journalism at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey and the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York. He moved to Arizona in 1996, where he works as the Sports Director for an Arizona radio group.

For those of you who know about my background, yes, John and I work for the same radio group in Arizona. I’m blessed to both work with John and write with him. I hope you’ll check out his works, including his sea monster novel, Sea Raptor, published by Severed Press. I know that John has a sequel to his military/political thriller coming out this year. He’s also a sports nerd, and has written two different non-fiction sports books.

Anyway, The english trailer and the audiobook prologue are after the jump, so please share these on Twitter and Facebook. Heck, I’d be happy if you shouted it from the corner at passers by.

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Moonrise CH41 – To Forbidden Passengers

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[1150 words | Prompts: TerribleMinds, #3WW, Sunday Scribblings 2, The Writing Reader]

Joaquin jumped down from his pallet spy tower. He rubbed his knuckles against his eyes and willed the bleeding white stars away, an after effect from the super power he’d witnessed in secret. With the world now returned to its colors, objects took healthier shapes, outlines and details became solid, Joaquin found his way back to the red door with crimson light seeping into the night. He rapped the signal against the decaying dented surface. Rust flaked off of it where his fist landed urgently.

After a palm-sweating moment a man’s face appeared through the opening of the door swung ajar. His face was pinched, and his eyes narrowed. Joaquin made sure he was first to speak spitting his thoughts out fast.

“Do you have room for one more bruh?”

The man in the door chewed on his bottom lip sizing up Joaquin. He saw crusted blood over Joaquin’s brow, torn clothes and bullet holes without matching wounds. Joaquin was a circus attraction, a sight to behold, but a deep plea in his eyes still watery from the impossibly fast transition from light to no light spoke a powerful enough tale to the man guarding the door. He stepped aside and let Joaquin enter.

Joaquin felt the man grab him above the elbow and lead him through the pitch black. It was like walking blindfolded and no matter how much he blinked Joaquin couldn’t detect any shapes. He followed the directions blindly, allowing the man to steer him by the elbow. A lit barrel emerged instantly from nothingness. Glowing embers faded as they launched on fragrant wisps of smoke. The scene reminded Joaquin of some space sci-fi movie. That’s how he felt too, stepping into seemingly thin air approaching a circle of light supported by nothing, surrounded by nothing. It just floated there ominously. But he heard – proof of a solid plane under his feet and of reality. There were people and sounds that they made that were too audible for his ears. Did the oppressing darkness heighten other senses? Joaquin would never know.

The people in a circle around the barrel emerged from nothingness; they were all quiet waiting for Joaquin to enter the halo of light and reveal his face. A woman in her mid-thirties stood up first from her red plastic chair. “We won’t turn you back now that you’re here but-” she paused and met each of her companions’ eyes, “how did you find this place?”

Joaquin took in the sight of them. They appeared to be ordinary people. Even his former guard was behind him toying with the keys on his belt. It was such a common thing to do. The one playing with his keys was the short one; the tall man had his hands in his pockets but his eyes were dark and sharp like the knife tattooed on his left cheek. The woman had the look of a kindly kindergarten teacher as she nervously pushed her glasses back up her nose. A pimply teenager somewhat younger than Joaquin kicked his backpack further under the red plastic chair and stared at Joaquin with wide eyes.

Completely ignoring the woman’s question, Joaquin’s laugh echoed off the tall roof of the warehouse. “You guys have powers!”

The quartet looked at each other.

“Are you fuckin’ retarded esé? Isn’t that why you’re here?” The tall man with the knife tattoo chuckled rubbing the back of his head.
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The Last American Hero, by Nicole Field

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In the aftermath of the accident that revealed his identity, famous superhero Captain Hart has gone missing. His best friend Bruce waits anxiously for any sign of him, any clue as to where Leo Hart might have gone—even though he knows full well he’s not the only one looking, and that it might be best for Leo to stay gone. Then Leo returns, and Bruce starts to wonder whether it will be the good thing he expected it to be.

 

I saw The Last American Hero on NetGalley, and I liked Nicole Field’s The Shock of Survival, so I figured I’d check this one out. I wasn’t disappointed. More than one review has compared this story to April Daniel’s Dreadnought, and I’d go one step further and liken the two stories to being cousins. They both have trans protagonists. I’ve been trying to diversify my reading in the past year or so, and it’s so wonderful to read these touching stories that I may not have been exposed to otherwise.

The Last American Hero is just a good story. It provides us a small glimpse into the life of a trans person and allows us to empathize. We also see thoughts and opinions on the nature of being heroic, and how perception can deify or demonize those that are different. Most of all, though, we get a fun story about what happens after a superhero thwarts an alien invasion.

Like, The Shock of Survival, Nicole tells the story we all want to hear after the villain is vanquished. For every story that you’ve finished, and wondered, “what happens next?” Nicole starts at that point, and we see what we’ve often wondered. The Last American Hero is a fun, fast read, and easily 4+ stars. And just so Nicole knows, #TeamCap.

nicole-field

Nicole writes across the spectrum of sexuality and gender identity. She lives in Melbourne with one of her partners, two cats, a whole lot of books and a bottomless cup of tea. Also likes tea, crochet and Gilmore Girls.

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Extracted, by RR Haywood

extracted

In 2061, a young scientist invents a time machine to fix a tragedy in his past. But his good intentions turn catastrophic when an early test reveals something unexpected: the end of the world. A desperate plan is formed. Recruit three heroes, ordinary humans capable of extraordinary things, and change the future. Safa Patel is an elite police officer, on duty when Downing Street comes under terrorist attack. As armed men storm through the breach, she dispatches them all. ‘Mad’ Harry Madden is a legend of the Second World War. Not only did he complete an impossible mission—to plant charges on a heavily defended submarine base—but he also escaped with his life. Ben Ryder is just an insurance investigator. But as a young man he witnessed a gang assaulting a woman and her child. He went to their rescue, and killed all five. Can these three heroes, extracted from their timelines at the point of death, save the world?

Who doesn’t like a time-travel science fiction book? The trope of grabbing a person or thing just before they die has been has been done before (Freejack, Time Salvager), but it was still a fun read. One of the characters had a mental breakdown and it just lasted too long. It made the middle of the book slow down. The book doesn’t need to be 400 pages, and a little bit of judicious editing in the middle would tune up the story. The characters seemed to be a cliché of expectations… We have the femme fatale, the commando, and the average bloke with a mysterious past who can do just about anything.

As a science fiction fan, I can excuse a lot of tired tropes. I’ve read better sci-fi books in the past, and I’ve read worse ones. I’m sure I’ll read better and worse in the future. I look forward to reading the sequel, and I’d rate Extracted just shy of four stars because it’s better than 3.5, but not quite a four-star read.

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RR Haywood was born in Birmingham, England but has spent most of his life living on the beautiful south coast. He has had a passion for reading for as long as he can remember. One of his favourite genres is Post-Apocalyptic fiction and he has worked his way through every book he could find. Some were great and some not so great and what he wanted was a minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day detailed exploration of what would happen. This desire to explore the world after such an event gave birth to The Undead, which is now the UK’s bestselling zombie horror series, compared to The Walking Dead and many other great works. This underground smash-hit series draws readers from all walks of life with compelling characters, incredible descriptions and breath taking action sequences that have had readers gripping their kindles, laughing out loud and crying real tears.

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Moonrise CH40 – All Flags Fall

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[1234 words – prompts: Inspiration Monday, Terribleminds, #3WW, The Writing Reader, Sunday Scribblings 2]

Betty left the dimly lit corridor and went back through the bland looking door leading to Andy’s secret hospital room. The nurse busied herself with his painkillers and soaked bandages, replacing them with clean ones. He was half drifting to sleep; half-awake asking questions about the fire, about someone named Anne, about Joaquin, but mostly about himself. All questions Betty couldn’t answer. She was given scarce information in the heat of the moment, rushed to the hospital in the dead of night to keep new secrets away from people who desperately wanted to know them. But she was given enough to know something was amiss with the Jensen case, with Major Globe. Massey’s warning had been brief and hurried – she couldn’t trust anyone right now. The world was turning upside down, friends became foes and vice versa.

Betty shivered in her thin jacket; the weight of her service weapon pulled her down. She looked to Andy near motionless in his drug-induced haze. He’d got hurt on account of supers but he was still eager to help. Was it some shared insanity driving everyone to do crazy shit and risk their lives? Or was it a duty of care that they couldn’t turn away from? Did they just crave adrenalin?

“You know it’s funny how the world suddenly depends on a street thug, a sociopathic woman, a crazy old detective and a small time hacker,” Andy croaked from his bed. Betty sat on the edge of his bed. “You’d think that among all these people with powers there would be someone, anyone who would, I don’t know, put a cape on and fight crime and corruption. You know, the cliché. Instead, people are proving that prick right.” He tried to look at her but Betty knew his mind was muddied, thoughts ricocheting madly, pain and helplessness and adrenaline jolting his mind awake when it should be asleep, resting. Andy was committed to his emotion exchange, so she listened.

“Once you let fear in it’s pretty much over. I mean I’ve seen the bad and the ugly on the supers side and I’ve seen them on this side, our side. Am I making sense? The pills are kicking in mighty fast. Officer, can you imagine genocide based on something unsubstantial? So many lies were told but people buy them. It’s so easy once you let fear in. These days I guess it’s only common. But we’ll get an uprising. Do you think we’ll pull it off? Save the city? The world?”

Andy’s voice was hoarse now fading away as he was lulled to an unconscious sleep by the morphine that the nurse was injecting. But he did make sense. He summarized the ludicrousness of the situation. A situation that Betty now invested in the outcome.

She rested her hand on his bare arm. “I don’t know buddy. I guess we’re about to find out.” Right now she could believe just about anything.

Without a uniform she felt like a person overstepping the law wielding guns in desolate hospital wings, protecting people she barely knew prophesizing about a world ending and caped crusaders. True, she had her badge uncomfortably biting into her leg inside her pocket, but she was still incognito. So when her personal cell vibrated on the small table in Andy’s room, Betty jumped nearly pointing her gun at it. She mustered all the control she had to pick it up and leave the room to the sleeping and the injured.

“Felix, what do you want? Do you know what time it is?”

“Massey just got arrested! I’m at the station filling out a shit ton of paperwork and that agent what’s his name-”
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Time Siege, by Wes Chu

time-siege

Having been haunted by the past and enslaved by the present, James Griffin-Mars is taking control of the future. Earth is a toxic, sparsely inhabited wasteland–the perfect hiding place for a fugitive ex-chronman to hide from the authorities. James has allies, scientists he rescued from previous centuries: Elise Kim, who believes she can renew Earth, given time; Grace Priestly, the venerated inventor of time travel herself; Levin, James’s mentor and former pursuer, now disgraced; and the Elfreth, a population of downtrodden humans who want desperately to believe that James and his friends will heal their ailing home world. James also has enemies. They include the full military might of benighted solar system ruled by corporate greed and a desperate fear of what James will do next. At the forefront of their efforts to stop him is Kuo, the ruthless security head, who wants James’s head on a pike and will stop at nothing to obtain it.

It was nice to see how addiction and isolation affects one of the main characters. In the book, as with life, James’ relationship with those around him morphs to his new reality. Behaviors that were acceptable when he was a revered salvager and chronman now put his friends and family at risk.

The corrupt Kuo is still the maniacal villain she was in the first book, but in Time Siege, her motives are more rooted in what I’d expect from someone in her position instead of the moustache-twirling villain she was in the first book. The intricacies of the corporations and the governments are fleshed out, and we see how hope for the denizens of the solar system appears lost. The divide between the wealthy and the lowest class is further exemplified with themes of subjugation and genocide.

Both books in the series are excellent sci-fi, and I’m looking forward to reading the third book this summer.

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Unfortunately, Chu’s goals of using Hanes underwear commercials to launch a lucrative career following in Marky Mark’s footsteps came to naught. Despite phenomenal hair and manicured eyebrows, his inability to turn left led his destiny down another road. Instead of creating new realities with his skills as a thespian, Chu would dazzle audiences with his pen. Well, it’s a computer really, but the whole technology thing really sucks for metaphors. He had spirit fingers maybe? In 2015, Wesley Chu won the John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award. Chu’s debut novel from Angry Robot Books, The Lives of Tao, earned him a Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award and a Science Fiction Goodreads Choice Award Finalist slot. His new series, Time Salvager, published by Tor Books, was released on July 7th, featuring an energy stealing time traveler with addiction issues.

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