Coalescence, by Zen DiPietro

coalescence

Fallon’s back, and ready to settle things with Blackout once and for all. If she and her team can’t take control, the PAC will splinter and galactic war will decimate the populace. Can one little rebellion save an empire? Avian Unit–and their friends–are sure as hell going to try.

 

 

The Good: I knew that I’d like Coalescence since I enjoyed Fragments and Translucid. Fallon’s pansexual relationships with Raptor and Wren are an interesting look into fluid sexuality. The chapters in Coalescence were a bit on the longer side, but not nearly as bad as Translucid.

The Bad: Some of the villainous acts committed by Blackout against the PAC seemed rather counter-intuitive. Parts left me scratching my head. It seemed as if the villains were the villains just to push the story along. The fall of the PAC that would incite galactic war wasn’t fully explained, and I didn’t feel as if I cared about the completion of Avian Unit’s mission other than to stop the bad guys from doing bad things. I guess I just wasn’t invested in the galaxy.

The Beautiful: Like Fragments and Translucid, there was a lot of action with enough going on that I just had to keep reading. I found some of the ancillary characters rapidly becoming my favorites, including a certain lizard doctor.

The Final Word: If you’ve read books one and two, then you will not be disappointed with this third book. If you’d a fan of Firefly, Deep Space Nine or The Expanse, you’ll totally grok this series. With the short story, The Cost of Business being free, and all three parts of the trilogy free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers, you simply cannot go wrong reading this series. Even the nine bucks is an easy sale. Get the series and read it. I look forward to more from Zen DiPietro in the future. Like the previous two stories, Coalescence is 4.5 stars.

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Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, writer, and a mom of two. Perhaps most importantly, a Browncoat Trekkie Whovian. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. A recovering gamer, but we won’t talk about that. Particular loves include badass heroines, British accents, and the smell of Band-Aids. Being an introvert gets in her way sometimes, as she finds it hard to make idle chitchat or stay up past 9 p.m. On the other hand, it makes it easy for her to dive down the rabbit hole of her love for books, stories, movies and games.

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Will Victorious Maiden be completed?

As I’m sure some of you are aware, artists tend to want to be around other artists. I’ve never really considered myself an artist. I can’t draw worth a [crap]. Other typically “artisty” things like sculpting elude me. But, I need to embrace the artist moniker because writing is art. My wife is more of what I’d consider an artist – specifically she loves drawing cartoons. Now, my eleven year old daughter, may just be the most artsy-fartsy person in my household. She loves to draw anime fantasy characters:

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About two years ago, I took a stab at writing a young adult novel. It’s something I’ve never been able to do, and I like to challenge myself. When I finished what I like to call the “vomit draft,” (that’s where you just barf the words onto the page,) I put it away to percolate for a month or two. When I came back to it, I realized that I didn’t have a finished novel; I had the beginnings to three novels in a trilogy. After breaking out the individual storylines and seeing what I had, I realized that the one that was the most done only had about 18k words written. I shelved the project (that shelf is getting full!) and worked on other things.
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Curse of Stars, by Donna Compositor

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Sabi Perez is the last Diamond Crier, only she doesn’t know it. Not until a crazed ruler from another world comes to collect her priceless tears and won’t take no for an answer. Living in New York, Sabi’s seen some nasty things, but the lengths to which her captor will go to keep his crown are things found only in the darkest nightmares. Afraid and alone, Sabi finds solace in her cellmate, Anya, and Cabal, a fellow Crier who also has powers, a rare combination that buys his favor from the ruler. Only it’s a favor he doesn’t want. In a fit of rage, power erupts out of Sabi, the same power Cabal has, and a spark of hope ignites. Together they may have a chance at escape, something no other Crier has done. Except a ruler hellbent on draining them of every last diamond tear isn’t their only hurdle. If they escape they’ll be hunted to the ends of the earth, if they survive the trek to safety. If they stay the ruler will leech them dry. Sabi would rather die trying than lie down and die, even if that means running away into even more danger.

I saw Curse of Stars on Netgalley, and I was interested in Donna’s work. The story is a rather novel take on a standard YA trope: A young woman is something more than she had originally thought, and she’s thrust into a situation where her true hidden talents are revealed resulting in her impressing the first cold and now hot native who just wants her to reach her full potential and rid both worlds of a particular evil that scores of trained persons couldn’t defeat in all the years she was hidden in exile on Earth.

Following existing tropes is not necessarily a bad thing, and Donna’s story definitely has an interesting take. Sabi Perez cries diamonds. The bad guy wants her for her ability. But wait, she has hidden allies! The story is most definitely dark, even bleak. There’s lots of action, and what romance is in the story is minimal. Young Adult novels tend to be cheery or angsty, so it was nice to read a YA story that that didn’t shy away from difficult situations or ignore the negativity that the world Sabi ends up in is not a nice place. Donna doesn’t ignore the fact that people are sometimes selfish, and do things to hurt people to get what they want. The tense storytelling requires you to keep reading until the end.

Fans of YA will enjoy Curse of Stars. It’s pretty much standard fare as far as the genre is concerned. Fans of dark fiction, or even grimdark fantasy will also enjoy it. Personally, I’d rate it just shy of four stars. Hopefully I’ll see Donna at Phoenix Comicon this year, and I can say “hello.”

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Donna Compositor has been writing since she was in the single digits when she first realized she needed to do something about all the thoughts in her head. After a stint with bad poetry she finally found her way to novels, mainly of the young adult fantasy variety. When she’s not cranking out more stories she works a regular 9 to 5, reads anywhere from 2 to 3 books a week, drinks copious amounts of tea, eats way too much, and makes her own beauty products because her skin turns into a sentient hive if she uses anything else. This is mostly because she lives in the desert where the air siphons water clean out of her. She lives with a man named Steve and several quadrupeds: three cats named Renfield, Sam, and Dean; and a MinPin named Malfoy.

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Moonrise CH42 – No Guts, No Glory

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[1085 words Prompts: Tina on Flickr via Terribleminds, #3WW, Sunday Scribblings 2, #SoCS]

“How can we…” The dude with knife tattoo cleared his throat and raised his voice. “Why we talking to this fool? He loco!”

Joaquin shook his head. “You fools have powers and all you’re doing is sittin’ here playing counsel? That’s some lame shit! You should be out there.”

The woman looked up at him. “And what are we supposed to do ‘out there?’ Rob banks like the other people with these abilities? Kill someone? We’re no one! And we can barely contain our powers.”

“Contain them?” Joaquin spit back at her.

“What do you think this place is, Fight Club? We’re trying to learn how to control this thing, how to suppress it. We want normal lives,” the woman continued.

Joaquin aimed an impish smile at her. “But you don’t need to do that mama, not when you have me. I’ve seen what others like us can do and it ain’t some petty ass pick and run. We’ve led armies, fought nations. We can do some crazy shit! I’ve seen a guy age people jus by touchin’ em. I’ve seen this immortal chick take a handful of shells and walk on.”

The silence they returned to him made Joaquin wave his hand. They didn’t buy his crap. “What kind of powers do you fools have anyway? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. C’mon I ain’t biting. I’m jus’ like you earning it hard.”

The teenager was first to raise his hand though reluctantly.

“Put your hand down mijo, we’re not in a classroom.”

The boy cleared his throat. “I have x-ray vision but it’s kind of like a super sight. I can see through pretty much anything.”

The languid security guard had remained silent until that moment let out a sigh. He took a knee and thumped the ground with his fist lightly. Joaquin felt a high-pitched vibration in his ears. The ground beneath his feet vibrated and that vibration threatened to turn into a quake but the man removed his hand. “Can’t do full earthquakes but can sure knock you down on your ass and keep you there.”

The woman looked uncomfortable. “I’d rather tell and not show. My ‘ability’ is to create a vacuum of space around you. As in Cosmos. Crushing you and choking you with absolute zero if I lose my temper. It lasts short though, so…”

Joaquin brandished a wide white-toothed smile. “Imma turn you pussies into superheroes. You’ll be vigilantes tomorrow payin’ back Globe for Miles and all those of us he turned to enemies of the public.”

“You and what right, mano?”
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More of Me, by Kathryn Evans

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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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