Tag Archives: #scifi

Rewinder, by Brett Battles

You will never read Denny Younger’s name in any history book, will never know what he’s done. But even if you did, you’d never believe it. The world as you know it wouldn’t be the same without him. Denny was born into one of the lowest rungs of society, but his bleak fortunes abruptly change when the mysterious Upjohn Institute recruits him to be a Rewinder, a verifier of personal histories. The job at first sounds like it involves researching old books and records, but Denny soon learns it’s far from it. A Rewinder’s job is to observe history. In person. Embracing his new duties with enthusiasm, Denny witnesses things he could never even imagine before. But as exciting as the adventures into the past are, there are dangers, too. For even the smallest error can have consequences. Life-altering consequences. Time, after all, is merely a reference point.

**This will be the shortest of three reviews for the Rewinder series, by Brett Battles. These were written in 2015, but I never posted them to the blog.**

I’m a sucker for alternate history. I love time travel. I totally dig dystopian. This sci-fi novel has it all. One of the best things about this story is that the author didn’t spend chapters world building and giving the history. Instead, we learn about the world that Denny lives in as that world happens to him. It builds up suspense, and allows the reader to enjoy the plot as it unfolds.

I’m writing this review after reading both books, and I successfully predicted the lynchpin in the second book. This book is an easy five stars, and I’m glad I saw it on NetGalley. I knocked out the book in two days, which is a testament to my liking it.

Brett was born and raised in southern California. His parents, avid readers, instilled the love of books in him early on, and there were many days his mom would kick him out of the house in the afternoon just so he would get a little sunshine. He is the USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels. Though he still makes California his home, he has traveled extensively to destinations which play parts in his current and upcoming novels. He has three very cool kids—Ronan, Fiona, and Keira—who are all quickly becoming adults, which both excites and unnerves him. As for his neurotic, paranoid, cute Australian Shepherd Maggie, that’s more of a…developing relationship.

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Ghost Star, by Roger Eschbacher

When his father and crewmates are attacked and killed by a ruthless alien commander, young Galen Bray becomes the new captain of the GHOST STAR, a notorious smuggling vessel. Barely escaping capture, Galen sets out to rescue the only other survivor of the vicious attack, his sister Trem. Along the way, he discovers a mysterious people thought wiped out long ago, his family’s surprising origins, and a destiny he never imagined…

 

So, Ghost Star, yeah… I really enjoyed this book. It’s tough to nail down why exactly. The story isn’t original in any way. The villain is so clichéd – let’s kill all the people different from us because they might give us cooties and I’m just a really scary individual. Every single part of the story has been done before. Some have done it worse, and some have done it better.

I know, I know, it sounds like I’m bagging on Eschbacher’s first book in the Ghost Star Adventures trilogy, and I am, kind of, but I really liked Ghost Star. It’s a short read – three or four hours. Makes sense since it was a Kindle Scout entry. Probably just above 50k words. Nothing pulls you out of the story, and there are no complex political or socioeconomical themes that you need to understand: The bad guy wants to kill Galen Bray, and exterminate his people. Bray wants to save his sister and their people from the megalomaniacal villain. We cheer for Bray, and jeer the villain.

I think that the best thing about Ghost Star is that it’s an utterly simple story with a straightforward telling that doesn’t require a lot of deep thinking. In today’s politically charged climate, we’re inundated with hate and malice, and have to wade through levels of crap to find the truth. It’s nice to just get lost in the narrative. And Eschbacher does a great job leading the reader from point A to B to C, etc. The ending is satisfying, and sets up more adventures, more books in the trilogy. I love it.

Roger Eschbacher writes in a varied spectrum of genres and even has a children’s book. This has no bearing on this story, but as a multi-genre author, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one that hasn’t figured it all out. Anyway, Ghost Star is an easy read. It’s a four-star read. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. Since he’s a Kindle Scout winner, and published by Kindle Press, I expect Ghost Star to be included in Kindle Unlimited when it comes out in a month. Get it. Read it. Preorder it if you want. However you get it, turn you brain off for a few hours and enjoy this popcorn sci-fi romp.

Roger Eschbacher is a writer/actor who lives and works in Los Angeles, California. In addition to writing YA fantasy and sci-fi adventure novels, he’s also written children’s picture books and is a professional television animation writer. He loves hearing from readers and personally responds to every message.

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Executed, by RR Haywood

The team of heroes extracted from their timelines to stop the impending apocalypse didn’t think they needed a leader. But they’ve got one anyway. With their mission in tatters, Miri has been called in to steady the ship. And to focus them on their assignment: preventing the end of the world. The problem is, the world doesn’t know it’s in danger. With governments pursuing them relentlessly, attempting to steal the time-travel device to use for their own ends, the heroes are on the run—fighting for survival in a world they’re supposed to save. Meanwhile, Miri has motives of her own. And when the existence of a second device is discovered, the team’s mission and their lives are in mortal danger…

Who doesn’t like a time-travel science fiction book? Did I start this review the same as I did for Extracted? Yep, I sure did. Whereas Extracted spent too much time on Ben Ryder’s mental breakdown, Executed spent way too much time on this epic gun battle. The character stereotypes continue from the first book. Miri is frustrating, and I suspect that that’s the point.

I’m not sure how the developmental process was with this second book, but it seemed like they decided to just wipe the slate clean and insert the characters from book one into a new story. Many of the dynamics were rewritten, and a new character other than Miri is introduced, and she is ssllooww!! I figured it out early in the book. The other characters figured it out in the middle of the book. Why the heck doesn’t the new character figure it out until the last chapters? (Intentionally vague because, spoilers!)

The excruciatingly long chapter structure is gone from the first book. All my complaints and praises from the first book carry over to the second. I do think that Executed is a better story than extracted. I wholeheartedly look forward to reading the final book in the series. Like Extracted, I’d rate Executed just shy of four stars because it’s better than 3.5, but not quite a four-star read. They’re both available on Kindle Unlimited, so give ‘em a shot.

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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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Wraith Hunter, by Clara Coulson

It’s been four months since the devastating battle on Primrose Avenue, and DSI still has its hands full. The local ICM chapter is now unstable, no leader to corral its members. The werewolves are moving in strange ways, like they’re keeping secrets. And there’s a traitor inside DSI, waiting to strike again. Cal Kinsey and his team, now back on the job, are desperately searching for the answers they need to restore balance in the supernatural community. But so far, they’ve had little success. Then, to make matters exponentially worse, a major Aurora convention center collapses without warning, killing dozens and injuring hundreds more. With all signs pointing to a supernatural terrorist attack, Cal and his team are thrust back into the danger zone once again. And this time, they’re playing for keeps. Because according to the riddle-filled letter that arrives on DSI’s doorstep, addressed to one Captain Nicholas Riker … the destruction of Aurora is only just beginning.

I read Soul Breaker back in 2015, and both Shade Chaser & Wraith Hunter in November 2017. As with Clara Coulson’s work under a different nom de plume, I have enjoyed every book that Ms. Coulson has written.

The Erica/Cal intensity I had hoped for at the end of Shade Chaser didn’t materialize in Wraith Hunter. Instead, well, no spoilers… Let’s just say that something happens between Erica and Cal. I’ll also tease that something happens between Erica and Cooper. And of course, between Cal and Cooper. How’s that for a teaser?

I’ve lived in Michigan, and have experienced wintertime at its worst. Coulson does an excellent job recreating the woodsy winter wonderland that is suburban Michigan, and I can easily see Aurora as a stand in for Lansing (I lived in Eaton Rapids, a suburb of Lansing.) I remember spending time in the endless woods behind my grandparent’s farm in Charlotte, Mi. Coulson does an excellent job recreating both the urban sprawl and the rural living in the City of Crows series.

The stakes are getting higher as the repercussions from the events in the previous novels keeps building. It’s like a high-octane race, but each driver forges his or her own path. They crisscross and with plenty of near misses to keep the reader guessing who’ll win, and in some cases, who to cheer for.

I look forward to reading book four, out in less than two weeks. I’m excited to see the results of Erica/Cal/Cooper, and hope that Team Riker finally gets the break they so deserve. All three books are available on Kindle Unlimited, and like books two and one, Wraith Hunter is a solid four stars. This one is the best one yet, and can’t wait to read Doom Sayer when it releases on December 10th.

Clara Coulson was born and raised in backwoods Virginia, USA. Currently in her mid-twenties, Clara holds a degree in English and Finance from the College of William & Mary and recently retired from the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC to return to the homeland and pick up the quiet writing life. Clara spends most of her time (when she’s not writing) dreaming up new story ideas, studying Japanese, and slowly reading through the several-hundred-book backlog on her budding home library. If she’s not occupied with any of those things, then you can probably find her playing with her two cats or lurking in the shadows of various social media websites. In the publishing sphere, Clara is currently occupied with the City of Crows urban fantasy series, and its companion series, Lark Nation.

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Shade Chaser, by Clara Coulson

Two months after the infamous Etruscan incident, it’s back to normal for DSI—as normal as life can be when you hunt monsters on a salary. The rest of Nick Riker’s elite team has finally returned from France. Cooper Lee has healed from his nightmare trip to the Eververse. The remnants of the battles with Charun and Tuchulcha have been swept under the rug. And the exploding boathouse in Holden Park has (almost) been rebuilt. All is calm in Aurora, Michigan. Until a grisly triple murder in one of the city’s most popular bars destroys the delicate balance between three powerful forces. A high-ranking werewolf, a seasoned wizard, and a former mayor turned watchmaker wind up in body bags, and their deaths pit the ICM, DSI, and Aurora’s largest wolf pack against each other in a blame game of epic proportions. And as the accusations spiral out of control, threatening a supernatural war on Aurora’s streets, it’s up to Riker’s team to keep the peace before blood stains the sidewalks. Meanwhile, Cal is struggling to overcome the consequences of his trip to the Etruscan Underworld. Haunted by visions of the future in the form of disorienting déjà vu, he’s terrified he’ll fail his team at crucial moments. But with the threat of violent riots hanging in the air, Cal has no choice but to power through and pray for the best. Because one misstep on this case could mean the downfall of the city he loves.

I pretty much knew that Shade Chaser would be a great read. I’ve yet to encounter something by Clara Coulson that I haven’t liked. Part police procedural, part supernatural, and all urban fantasy, Coulson delivers an engaging read with a rookie protagonist who actually learns from past mistakes. Unlike Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, who makes the same mistakes over and over, our favorite “hot crow” makes all new mistakes. We want Cal to win the girl, defeat the supernatural, and prove his mettle within a team of grizzled veterans.

I enjoyed the subtle politicking in this book. I don’t know that the author specifically was commenting on our world, but in Aurora, Michigan, the specter of politics threatens to derail the fragile balance of the various factions. Accusations and the blame game mirror current (as of the book writing) events and scandals.

Of all the characters in the City of Crows, Erica is by far my favorite, and I hope we get to see more Erica/Cal action in future books. Like it’s predecessor, Soul Breaker, I’m rating Shade Chaser four out of five stars for a great urban fantasy read. I look forward to reading more books in the series. All three books are available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers, so get to reading!

Clara Coulson was born and raised in backwoods Virginia, USA. Currently in her mid-twenties, Clara holds a degree in English and Finance from the College of William & Mary and recently retired from the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC to return to the homeland and pick up the quiet writing life. Clara spends most of her time (when she’s not writing) dreaming up new story ideas, studying Japanese, and slowly reading through the several-hundred-book backlog on her budding home library. If she’s not occupied with any of those things, then you can probably find her playing with her two cats or lurking in the shadows of various social media websites. In the publishing sphere, Clara is currently occupied with the City of Crows urban fantasy series, and its companion series, Lark Nation.

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Soul Breaker, by Clara Coulson

Two years ago, Cal Kinsey was an up-and-coming cop in the Aurora Police Department. But during a fateful nighttime stakeout in search of a prolific killer, Cal witnessed the darkest corner of his dreams come to life. A rogue vampire slaughtered his partner — to put it nicely — and introduced Cal to the supernatural world he never knew existed in the shadows. Now, Cal is a newly minted detective at the often mocked Department of Supernatural Investigations. By day, the agents of DSI are called “Kooks” by local law enforcement. By night, they’re known as “Crows,” reviled by the supernatural underworld. Mere weeks out of the academy, Cal catches his first real case, a vicious murder at a local college. An unknown sorcerer has summoned a powerful creature from the Eververse, a realm of magic and mayhem that borders Earth, and set it on a dangerous warpath through the city. Between butting heads with his grumpy team captain, stirring up ill will with the local wizards and witches, and repeatedly getting the crap beaten out of himself, Cal must find a way to stop the Eververse monster and send it back to the hell it came from … preferably before Aurora, Michigan runs out of coffins for the dead.

***This review was from November 2015, and for some reason it never got posted!*** To me, Soul Breaker was heavier on the magical mysticism, over paranormal. And this works for me, because I like to keep my vampires and werewolves confined to the TV show Supernatural. The main character was written quite well, and I believed that the world could actually exist, instead of cardboard cutouts and clichés. We don’t learn as much about the supporting characters, but that’s cool, we learn just enough to flesh them out. I’m looking forward to more character development in Shade Chaser, and I’ll be sure to pick it up when it comes out in February. 4.5 stars!

Clara Coulson was born and raised in backwoods Virginia, USA. Currently in her mid-twenties, Clara holds a degree in English and Finance from the College of William & Mary and recently retired from the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC to return to the homeland and pick up the quiet writing life. Clara spends most of her time (when she’s not writing) dreaming up new story ideas, studying Japanese, and slowly reading through the several-hundred-book backlog on her budding home library. If she’s not occupied with any of those things, then you can probably find her playing with her two cats or lurking in the shadows of various social media websites. In the publishing sphere, Clara is currently occupied with the City of Crows urban fantasy series, and its companion series, Lark Nation.

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Dalí, by E.M. Hamill

Dalí Tamareia has everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps. Dalí’s path as a peacemaker seems clear, but when their loved ones are killed in a terrorist attack, grief sends the genderfluid changeling into a spiral of self-destruction. Fragile Sol Fed balances on the brink of war with a plundering alien race. Their skills with galactic relations are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, but in mourning, Dalí no longer cares, seeking oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife. The New Puritan Movement is rising to power within the government, preaching strict genetic counseling and galactic isolation to ensure survival of the endangered human race. Third gender citizens like Dalí don’t fit the mold of this perfect plan, and the NPM will stop at nothing to make their vision become reality. When Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again. Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism.

When I saw Dalí on Netgalley, I knew I had to give it a try. Netgalley has yielded me great sci-fi with fluid sexuality (Zen DiPietro’s Dragonfire Station series), and some great trans sci-fi (Dreadnought, by April Daniels), so I had no qualms checking out a fluid gender story.

Dalí, the titular character is well written, as is the story. I’ve come to expect this of LGBT sci-fi. LGBT and indie writers have always had to up their game when it comes to prose. It’s not fair, but these authors are under extra scrutiny due to methodologies and/or content. While traditionally-published works can kick along with weak story because the fans will buy anything that the author and publisher put out, this is not the case in the indie world, and especially so for those that write LGBT themes.

Sci-fi, along with fantasy has the ability for us to tackle issues with humanity under the guise of other-worldness. Racism, hatred, and bigotry are topics easily broached when the characters are aliens or elves. Star Trek was a pioneer in the late 1960s, and indies continue the noble tradition today.

Dalí tackles themes of rape, depression, sex trafficking, bigotry, hatred, eugenics, polygamy, and much more. The story is rife with action. The LGBT rights topics are there, as is a commentary on modern society, but it’s not “in your face,” or preachy. No one involved in Dalí is trying to convert us. The themes are almost an undercurrent. The sci-fi, other than setting, is pretty laid back too. The author took the popcorn sci-fi methodology, and just said that this or that is, without bogging down in the details that some sci-fi authors tend to do.

Over all, Dalí is a great sci-fi read. Those that may be skittish with LGBT-themed stories should be able to get into Dalí. Fans of LGBT works will appreciate an engrossing LGBT story that’s not focused on LGBT encounters. In a world that so often incorrectly associates LGBT with erotica, Dalí is a great read because of the story, and would fall apart if Dalí weren’t gender fluid.

I enjoyed Dalí, and at a risk of over-hyping the book, highly recommend reading this 4-star sci-fi novel.

E.M. (Elisabeth) Hamill writes adult science fiction and fantasy somewhere in the wilds of eastern suburban Kansas. A nurse by day, wordsmith by night, she is happy to give her geeky imagination free reign and has sworn never to grow up and get boring. Frequently under the influence of caffeinated beverages, she also writes as Elisabeth Hamill for young adult readers in fantasy with the award-winning Songmaker series. She lives in eastern Kansas with her family, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse.

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