Tag Archives: dystopian science fiction

A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Four people are brought together by circumstance at the end of the world and must work together in the face of another disaster when society is slowly rebuilding itself in author Mike Chen’s “A Beginning at the End”. 

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The Synopsis

How do you start over after the end of the world?

Six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the planet’s population, the survivors are rebuilding the country, split between self-governing cities, hippie communes and wasteland gangs.

In postapocalyptic San Francisco, former pop star Moira has created a new identity to finally escape her past—until her domineering father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world on behalf of those too traumatized to go outside, determined to help everyone move on—even if they don’t want to. Rob survived the catastrophe with his daughter, Sunny, but lost his wife. When strict government rules threaten to separate parent and child, Rob needs to prove himself worthy in the city’s eyes by connecting with people again.

Krista, Moira, Rob and Sunny are brought together by circumstance, and their lives begin to twine together. But when reports of another outbreak throw the fragile society into panic, the friends are forced to finally face everything that came before—and everything they still stand to lose.

Because sometimes having one person is enough to keep the world going.

The Review

This was a truly unique and gripping sci-fi dystopian thriller! The timing of this novel’s release was hard not to see of course, but what the author did so splendidly was not focus the entire novel on the actual “apocalypse”, but instead on the society that came after an epidemic that took out a large portion of the world’s population. The unique perspective, narratively speaking, highlights humanity’s persistence and strength in the face of adversity and overwhelming odds, even with the mental and physical tolls each of these characters are struggling with. 

What the author really did a great job of was balancing the ever-shifting mythos of this dystopian world with the emotional depths of each character’s growth throughout the narrative. As a fan of Stephen King’s “The Stand”, I’ve always felt that this balance was necessary for a story about the end of the world to really feel emotionally connected to the reader, and the author perfectly hits the nail on the head with this read.

The Verdict

A masterful, heartfelt, and entertaining read, author Mike Chen’s “A Beginning At the End” is a must-read novel for fans of the sci-fi and dystopian thriller genres. The engaging way the author connected his characters and both the internal and external struggles each character faced made this novel become an instant hit. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Mike Chen is the author of Here And Now And Then (a finalist for Goodreads Choice – Best Sci-Fi, CALIBA Golden Poppy, and the Compton Crook Award) and A Beginning At The End (“a brilliant, fragile path through the darkness” — Library Journal). His short fiction is featured in Star Wars: From A Certain Point Of View — The Empire Strikes Back, and he has covered geek culture for sites such as Tor.com, The Mary Sue, and StarTrek.com. In a previous life, he covered the NHL for Fox Sports, SB Nation, and other outlets. A member of SFWA, Mike lives in the Bay Area with his wife, daughter, and rescue animals. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @mikechenwriter

Oware Mosaic by Nzondi Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

An Enhuman girl must race against the clock along with her human best friend and detective to find a way of saving sentient life in a nightmarish virtual landscape in author Nzondi’s futuristic, dystopian thriller “Oware Mosaic”.

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The Synopsis

Decades after a cataclysmic nuclear war, Ghanaian scientists develop technology that store consciousness onto data orbs called retcons. Seventeen-year-old forensic specialist, Feeni Xo, is a Enhuman (a radiation-enhanced metabolic human) that, similar to a vampire, need blood for sustenance. Through a game called the House of Oware, Feeni discovers that the virtual construct is actually an augmented reality. She and her human best friend, Sammi, a young female detective, have been mysteriously given specialized neural implants that allow them to hack into government software. The two teenagers race against time in a horrific world of deformed beasts to piece together the puzzles of the digital mosaic. Will they find a way to save sentient beings from total extinction or will they run out of time?

The Review

An incredibly daring and creative new dystopian and sci-fi horror novel, author Nzondi has captured the reader’s attention and painted a vivid picture of this apocalyptic-level future. A fantastic story that delves into the much needed genre of Afrofuturism and contemporary Black science fiction, the narrative does an excellent job of balancing the intricate pacing of the main mystery with the powerful and artistic setting that is both original and full of culture all at once. 

The character arcs were the true draw for many readers, including myself. The protagonist’s early struggle with guilt and horror after she is convinced she was complicit in a horrific accident and coverup is the perfect shock to the reader’s system as they delve into this terrifying and futuristic world. Yet it is the twist and turns that take the protagonist off into varied directions that keep the mystery and suspense element of the narrative alive, and the introduction and revelation of long thought gone characters will keep readers guessing the true mystery all the while.

Save 75% on Norton 360 Deluxe and get a $10 Amazon gift card

The Verdict

A memorable, creatively-inspired, and haunting sci-fi and horror-driven narrative, author Nzondi’s “Oware Mosaic” is a must-read sci-fi novel. A gripping tale of family, corruption and culture, this book draws the reader in immediately and keeps them locked in till the last page’s final turn, making this a truly remarkable novel. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Nzondi (Ace Antonio Hall) was born Acemandese Nzondi Hall in Queens, New York on July 4th. Hall received his BFA from C. W. Post, Long Island University. His science fiction/horror work, Oware Mosaic (Omnium Gatherum, September 2019), is the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards® Winner for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel. Hall is a two-time Honorable Mention winner of the Writers and Illustrators of the Future Award. He is also the author of the novel, Confessions of Sylva Slasher, (Montag Press, April 2013) and a non-fiction book, Lord of the Flies: Fitness for Writers (Omnium Gatherum, April 2017).

https://www.aantoniohall.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/books/oware-mosaic-by-nzondi

Accidental Anomalies: Book One of the Mutant Fellowship Series by J. Traveler Pelton

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two brothers and world-renowned doctors in a world devastated after a meteorite strike leaves some of the population suffering from mutations work at the Center for Genetic Research, but soon questions arise after the two brothers have a string of wives mysteriously disappear months into their marriages in author J. Traveler Pelton’s “Accidental Anomalies”, book one in the Mutant Fellowship Series. 

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The Synopsis

Ever since the meteorite holocaust, mutations have been showing up in the population. Drs. David and Michael Simmons are highly regarded and successful researchers, wealthy philanthropists, and directors of the Center for Genetic Research. They have terrible luck with women, however. When Aspen and Diem, sisters, marry the brothers, like all the other wives, they disappear. What is hidden in the lowest basement of the Center?

The Review

A great blend of YA Dystopian thriller with mystery and suspense, this was a truly unique read. The author blends sci-fi and fantasy elements into a harsh world where the progress made in our modern world was undone after the tragic disaster of the mutant meteorite that devastated the world. Much like in The Handmaid’s Tale, the world is suffering from mutations in births and women with healthy wombs are asked to help repopulate the Earth, no matter their sexual orientation or preferences regarding children. 

Yet the author takes this narrative in a whole new element, adding a domestic suspense and thriller element to the novel with the inclusion of the brothers David and Michael, doctors and researchers who have used sinister means of acquiring test subjects. The story focuses on great themes of good vs evil, facing prejudices in society and justice in a world where money can buy freedom despite the crimes one commits. The pacing of the novel adds the level of suspense this narrative deserves, and the character development really adds depth to the mythology of this dystopian world.

The Verdict

A memorable, engaging and mind-bending read, author J. Traveler Pelton’s “Accidental Anomalies” is a must-read sci-fi and dystopian thriller. A gripping tale of heartbreaking relationships gone wrong and cruelty in the name of progress, the author explores a haunting world that keeps the reader invested and entertained throughout. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

J. Traveler Pelton was born in West Virginia in the last century. She is active in her home church and was the Nation’s Mother for her tribe for several years. She is still wife to Dan after 47 years (He is so long-suffering!), mother of six adults, a grandmother of nine, a Clinically Licensed Independent Social worker in private practice, a retired adjunct professor of social work at her local university, and an avid reader. She lives on a mini-farm with her husband, seven alpaca, a flock of spoiled chickens, five Siamese cats, four Pomeranians, a talkative Amazon parrot named Gizmo, and her aviary of canaries. Traveler enjoys the intersection of fantasy, possibility, creativity, and speculation. Join her on the other side of the imagination tree. She’ll be sitting there waiting for your visit.

Skin Curse (The Gate Cycle #2) by Kristin Jacques Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman searching for her brother in a city of monsters must navigate her growing power and the inner workings of the city of Avergard’s politics in order to save her family and friends in author Kristin Jacques’s “Skin Curse”, the second book in The Gate Cycle series. 

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The Synopsis 

The Children of the Gate wait for the call to Rise.

Azzy Brimvine knows her brother is in the vast city of Avergard. She must find him, but time is not on their side.

In the House of Seven Smiles, Azzy struggles to understand the constraints and limits of her power. She finds the whispering voices that guided her for so long, suddenly silent. The enigmatic Lord Wallach is both a frustrating ally and a dangerous mystery, and a strange entity lurks among the household servants. The haven Azzy sought may not be as safe as she thought…but is anywhere truly safe in the Above? 

The city of Avergard is full of monsters and secrets, and a dark history festers at its root. A yawning pit nestles in the house of a scheming lord, who will use Armin’s dangerous gifts to raise history, and raze the city to the ground. As Azzy finds herself and her brother pulled into these machinations, she must navigate the politics and society of Avergard’s brutal ruling class to save her family and friends before the Gate consumes them all.

©2020 Machovi Productions Inc (P)2021 Machovi Productions Inc

The Review

This was a gripping and engaging story, blending everything from fantasy and horror to sci-fi and dystopian themes. While I am new to this series, I found the author did a great job of implementing enough of the first book’s story into this novel to make it feel both fresh and well-understood. 

The pacing and haunting atmosphere played a big role in establishing this fantasy world. The blend of chilling imagery that really brought Avergard to life in the reader’s mind and the narrator (Amie Lyn Hornick) really did a great job of voicing this story, establishing the mix of wonder and terror the protagonist endures throughout the novel while capturing the raw emotions and action that Azzy must overcome to save those closest to her. 

The Verdict

A brilliant, entertaining, and mesmerizing fusion of gothic horror and sci-fi dystopian elements, author Kristen Jacques’s “Skin Curse” is the perfect fantasy read for both new and established fans alike of this series. As a fan of history, I loved the backstory the author established of using one of history’s greatest villains, the Third Reich, and showed their involvement in opening the fabled Gate that let the magic and monsters into this dystopian world, as I know it is well established that one of Hitler’s mad machinations was to harness the power of the occult into his hatred and war machines. Add to this a great story with both haunting and engaging characters and a heart-pounding narrative that readers won’t be able to get enough of, this is a brilliant audiobook that can’t be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Author: Kristin Jacques

Narrator: Amie Lyn Hornick

Length: 9 hours 13 minutes

Series: The Gate Cycle, Book 2

Publisher: The Parliament House

Released: Apr. 21, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Continue reading

Fix the World by Collected Authors Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A collection of science-fiction writers gather together to bring their creative flair into the fight to preserve or even resurrect the environment and world as a whole in the face of global disasters, war and more in the novel “Fix the World”. 

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The Synopsis

We’re a world beset by crises. Climate change, income inequality, racism, pandemics, an almost unmanageable tangle of issues. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.

We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to fix what’s wrong with the world. From the sixty-five stories we received, we chose twelve most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.

Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change, make war obsolete, switch to alternative forms of energy, and restructure the very foundations of our society,

The future’s not going to fix itself.

The Review

What a powerful and moving anthology of sci-fi, dystopian and apocalyptic stories. This collection stands out with some incredible storytelling and character development, bringing to life some very real and relatable characters in dark and trying situations. The pacing was great, as each story did a great job of setting up its own story and maintaining momentum as the darker aspects of the narrative unraveled and the hope became more and more apparent.

Hope was the aspect of this anthology that really spoke to me. The theme and tone of something like hope is really stark contrast to the typical apocalyptic anthology narrative, and each other did a great job of showcasing how solutions to these problems could bring that hope to life. One story, in particular, was incredibly moving and emotional, and that was J. Scott Coatsworth’s “Rise”. The emotional story of a lost city being reclaimed and its citizens returning after decades away was a truly touching moment in this collection, and in a time where we are still in a pandemic, this message was assuredly needed.

The Verdict

A memorable, heartfelt, and creative sci-fi and dystopian apocalyptic anthology, “Fix the World” is a masterpiece of writing and each other has done a great job of not only bringing their individual stories to life but making each story feel connected and important all at once. A book readers won’t want to put down, this collection inspires hope and gives readers everywhere the creative inspiration to face these challenges head-on themselves. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Fix The World

Other Worlds Ink has a new hopeful sci-fi anthology out: Fix the World. And there’s a giveaway!

We’re a world beset by crises. Climate change, income inequality, racism, pandemics, an almost unmanageable tangle of issues. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.

We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to fix what’s wrong with the world. From the sixty-five stories we received, we chose the twelve most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.

Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change, make war obsolete, switch to alternative forms of energy, and restructure the very foundations of our society,

The future’s not going to fix itself.

Publisher | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Liminal Fiction | Thalia | Goodreads


Giveaway

OWI is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

From “Rise”

by J. Scott Coatsworth

The rumbling increased to a roar, and more dark patches appeared in the green lagoon waters. So expensive. So laborious to stabilize what was left. But every bit worth it, in this moment.

A great spume of water sprayed high enough to throw a shimmer of mist across her face as the first part of the old city broke the surface. As the spume cleared, the top of the Campanile di San Marco rose above the water, green roof gleaming like new. A nice touch. The Restoration Guild must have worked overtime on that one. Its golden weathervane was gone, but the bas relief of the lion of St. Mark made her clutch her heart.

“Mamma, what’s the lion for?” She licked chocolate off her hands, desperate to make her afternoon snack last just a little longer.

“It’s the symbol of the city.” Mamma put her hand on Cinzia’s chest, patting it—boom boom, boom boom. “The beating heart of who we are.”

Cinzia stumbled. It felt like yesterday.

“You okay?” Gio’s brow creased.

“I… sorry, yes. So many memories.”

Skipping over the bridges. The bad days of the quarantine. The corner market where mamma used to do her grocery shopping…

The Flood.

Another building broke the surface nearby—the Santa Maria della Salute, the beautiful basilica. Water poured off the gorgeous green domes in a thundering flood. They were mostly intact, though one of the smaller ones had a gaping hole—water poured out of it, cascading down to the lagoon like a waterfall, joining the general uproar of the Rise.

“Look, Kendra. You can see the outlines of the Canal Grande now.” The old waterway—the pulsing artery of the city—snaked away from them like a backwards ’S.’ In the distance, she could make out the edge of the Sestriere Cannaregio, the district where her mamma had lived in a modest apartment in an old stone palazzo that looked out on a concrete courtyard.

Waters rising, as it rained for close on a month, coming ever closer to their own second-floor balcony.

What if the water doesn’t stop coming?” Cinzia stared out at the concrete courtyard, where the seawater swirled and churned.

“Don’t worry about that, tesoro. The water always stops, eventually. Now come here and help me with dinner.”

She had been lucky. She had survived.

All across the lagoon, the buildings of Venice were rising from the water. Many were broken, piles of bricks and debris covered with algae and surprised fish that flopped around on suddenly exposed land. The outlines of the city were becoming clear as water poured out of the buildings, churning the lagoon into a muddy, frothy mess.

A row of palazzos along the edge of the Canal Grande collapsed, sending up a deafening roar as they crumbled into rubble. Cinzia stepped back instinctively, pulling Kendra with her as the platform rose thirty meters into the air to avoid the cloud of debris that briefly rose above the lagoon before settling back to earth.

“Nothing to be alarmed about. Not all buildings were stabilized prior to the Rise.” Doctor Horvat’s lined face nodded reassuringly from the hovering screen before them, her voice broadcast across the world and to the Lunar colonies far above. “We expected some collapses. We will keep you away from the dangerous areas.”

“What if the city doesn’t stop rising?” Kendra grasped the railing, her gaze locked on the scene below.

Gio knelt next to the girl. “There’s no chance of that. The polyps have a very short lifetime…”

Cinzia was grateful to him. He probably understood the science behind all of this far better than she.

Her mind drifted.

They ate the last of the almond cantucci, savoring the hard cookies even though they were stale. Cinzia was still hungry, but she knew better than to ask for more. There was no more.

Outside, the rain had finally slowed to a constant drizzle.

Mamma ruffled her hair, managing a wan smile. “I need you to stay here, Cinzia. Someone will come for you, I promise. I will find us help.”

The helicopters had stopped coming days before, and the boats that had been plentiful the first few days, with men telling them to stay put, had bypassed their part of the city ever since.

The rumbling subsided.

Cinzia opened her eyes and looked around. For just a moment, there was absolute silence on the traghetto, along the shore, and on the sky board.

She looked over the railing.

Venice—her Venice—lay before her. It was in sad shape. Many of the landmarks she remembered were tarnished or broken. Whole zones of the city had collapsed, and except for Piazza San Marco, a green film covered the risen city. She was a ghost of her former glory.

But she was there, as solid and real as the hand before Cinzia’s face.


Author Bio

Bryan Cebulski is a rural California-based journalist from the Midwest who writes quiet queer speculative and literary fiction.

Scott Coatsworth lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were. He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends. A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

Rachel Hope Crossman grew up in Athens, Greece and Berkeley, CA as the child of a linguist and an actor. Her imagination, marked by the stones of the Acropolis, the granite slabs of the Sierra Nevadas and the blues of the San Francisco Bay, is the all and everything that fuels her engine. A preschool teacher, then substitute teacher, Rachel ultimately followed her Montessori bliss to teach elementary. Mother of four grown children and author of Saving Cinderella: Fairy tales & Children in the 21st Century, (2014 Apocryphile Press), Rachel currently writes eco-fantasy and science fiction stories.

Jana Denardo is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.

J.G. Follansbee is an award-winning writer of thrillers, fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories with climate change themes. An author of maritime history and travel guides, he has published articles in newspapers, regional and national magazines, and regional and national radio networks, including National Public Radio. He’s also worked in the high-tech and non-profit worlds. He lives in Seattle.

Ingrid Garcia helps selling local wines in a vintage wine shop in Cádiz and writes speculative fiction in her spare time. For years, she was unpublished. But to her utter surprise—after years of receiving nothing but rejections—she’s sold stories to F&SF, and the Ride the Star Wind and Sword and Sonnet anthologies. She tweets as @ingridgarcia253and is busy preparing a personal website and—dog forbid—even thinking about writing that inevitable novel

Jennifer R. Povey was born in Nottingham, England, but she now lives in Northern Virginia, where she writes everything from heroic fantasy to stories for Analog. She has written a number of novels across multiple sub genres. Additionally, she is a writer, editor, and designer of tabletop RPG supplements for a number of companies. Her interests include horseback riding, Doctor Who and attempting to out-weird her various friends and professional colleagues.

Mere Rain is an international nonentity of mystery whose library resides in California. Mere likes travel, food, art, mythology, and you. Feel free to reach out on social media. Mere Rain has published speculative short fiction with The Mad Scientist Journal, Mischief Corner Books, Things in the Well, and Mythical Girls.

D.M. Rasch writes feminist speculative fiction for LGBTQ+ young adults and adults, exploring where the social and political meet the personal. Her characters are often found doing their best in worlds that challenge them to become their best selves. Queer representation and reaching out to LGBTQ+ youth drive her writing, informed by her MFA in Creative Writing from Regis University and two bossy sister kittens who like to edit. She identifies as a genderqueer lesbian, currently writing and working (remotely) in the Denver, CO area as a creative mentor, coach, and editor in her business, Itinerant Creative Content & Coaching LLC.

Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her stories have appeared in Analog, Lightspeed, Escape Pod, and many other publications throughout the world. She hopes to save the world through science fiction and homegrown heritage tomatoes.

Anthea Sharp is the author of the USA Today bestselling Feyland series, where a high-tech game opens a gateway to the treacherous Realm of Faerie. In addition to the fae fantasy/cyberpunk mashup of Feyland, her current novels are set in the shadowed enchantment of the Darkwood, where dark elves and fairytale elements abound. Anthea lives in sunny Southern California where she writes, hangs out in virtual worlds, plays the Irish fiddle, and spends time with her small-but-good family.

Alex Silver (he/him) grew up mostly in Northern Maine and is now living in Canada with a spouse, two kids, and three birds. Alex is a trans guy who started writing fiction as a child and never stopped. Although there were detours through assisting on a farm and being a pharmacist along the way.

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The Hands We’re Given (Aces High, Jokers Wild #1) by O.E. Tearmann Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A lone commander leading a rebellion is the last hope for a ragtag group of fighters as they fight a war against the seven corporations that make up the former United States in author O.E. Tearmann’s “The Hand’s We’re Given”, the first book in the Aces High, Jokers Wild series.

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The Synopsis

Aidan Headly never wanted to be the man giving orders. That’s fine with the Democratic State Force base he’s been assigned to command: they don’t like to take orders. Nicknamed the Wildcards, they used to be the most effective base against the seven Corporations owning the former United States in a war that has lasted over half a century. Now the Wildcards are known for creative insubordination, chaos, and commanders begging to be reassigned. Aidan is their last chance. If he can pull off his assignment as Commander and yank his ragtag crew of dreamers and fighters together, maybe they can get back to doing what they came to do: fighting for a country worth living in.

Life’s a bitch. She deals off the bottom of the deck. But you play the hands you’re given.

The Review

This is a fantastic dystopian sci-fi world the author has created. The immediate thing that will jump out at readers is the fact that the author has naturally incorporated LGBTQ characters and romances into the narrative, navigating the difficulty of not only being a transgender man in a military unit but also exploring relationships within that military command.

These deeply personal and emotional bonds between the characters are expertly balanced with some true action and dystopian story elements. The notion of corporations taking control of the United States is not as far from reality as most of us would like it to be, and this touches upon a lot of those fears. 

The action and undercover operations the Wildcards pull off is entertaining, and the way the author explores how sometimes a group who breaks the rules and mold of the classic military setup can accomplish what others could not really resonate with so many people that readers won’t be able to help themselves from identifying with these characters.

The Verdict

Thrilling, emotional, and engaging science fiction and dystopian read with a wonderful mix of LGBTQ and MM romance, author O.E. Tearmann’s “The Hands We’re Given” is the perfect start to the Aces High, Jokers Wild series. A must-read narrative, the story continuously keeps the reader invested and makes for an original and creative new direction for the sci-fi and dystopian genres. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

O.E. Tearmann is the author of the Aces High, Jokers Wild series. Their books include strong themes of diversity and found family, providing a surprisingly hopeful take on a dystopian future. Bringing their own experiences as a marginalized author together with flawed but genuine characters, Tearmann’s work has been described as “Firefly for the dystopian genre.” Publisher’s Weekly called it “a lovely paean to the healing power of respectful personal connections among comrades, friends, and lovers.”

Tearmann lives in Colorado with two cats, their partner, and the belief that individuals can make humanity better through small actions. They are a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, the Colorado Resistance Writers and the Queer Scifi group. In their spare time, they teach workshops about writing GLTBQ characters, speak and plant gardens to encourage sustainable agricultural practices, and play too many video games.

https://www.oetearmann.com/

Orange City (Orange City, #1) by Lee Matthew Goldberg Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A city where outcasts get a second chance at life leads to an ad executive having his eyes opened to the prison they’re in and the monster who runs their lives in author Lee Matthew Goldberg’s “Orange City”, the first in the Orange City series.

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The Synopsis

Imagine a secret, hidden city that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the city forever. You can never leave.

Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the “Man” who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.

After ten years as an advertising executive, Graham Weatherend receives an order to test a new client, Pow! Sodas. After one sip of the orange flavor, he becomes addicted, the sodas causing wild mood swings that finally wake him up to the prison he calls reality.

A dynamic mash-up of 1984 meets LOST, ORANGE CITY is a lurid, dystopian first book in a series that will continue with the explosive sequel LEMONWORLD

The Review

A haunting and breathtaking sci-fi and dystopian novel, author Lee Matthew Goldberg brings a truly gritty world to life. The author does an amazing job of delving into the thin line between “good” and “evil” that many of these characters share, as morality within a society plays a major role in the narrative. 

The imagery used in this book does a great job of fusing the colorful and in-your-face advertising that has taken over our world over the last few decades with the action-driven and darker side of technology in our society. The pacing of the narrative really is what draws the reader in, presenting figures like E and the menacing ruler known simply as “Man” so that readers are instantly hooked and driven to delve into this fantastic world the author has built.

The Verdict

A shocking, intense yet engaging sci-fi and dystopian novel, author Lee Matthew Goldberg’s “Orange City” is a great start to this brand new series. Exploring themes of consumerism, addiction, and technology, this story does a wonderful job of creating a mythos that readers can really delve into nature, and makes this a must-read book. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE ANCESTOR, THE MENTOR, THE DESIRE CARD and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. His first YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN is forthcoming in 2021 along with a sci-fi novel ORANGE CITY. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. 

He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. 

Follow him at LeeMatthewGoldberg.com

Unchipped: Kaarina (Unchipped #1) by Taya DeVere Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman fighting for survival learns the fabled world of the Chipped isn’t as glamorous as they once thought in author Taya DeVere’s “Unchipped: Kaarina”, the first in the Unchipped sci-fi series.

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The Synopsis 

A civilization reliant on AR. Unchipped refugees forced outside its walls. Can a lone underdog save humanity from itself?

In the two years since the Great Affliction, the Happiness-Program has transformed a civilization on the brink of extinction into an organized, beautiful, and happy society. However, for the Unchipped–those whose chips can’t connect to the system–living a comfortable life remains out of reach.

Kaarina, one of the Unchipped, would give anything to live inside the walls of the city again. Haunted by her mother’s suicide and alone except for Bill, another Unchipped thousands of miles away whose thoughts are inexplicably linked to hers, Kaarina fights for survival, defending her beloved animals from the other savage Unchipped. But when her horse’s illness drives her into the city to find medicine, she becomes acquainted with a Chipped man who makes her question everything.

Now a new fix to the system promises her the chance to finally be normal… just as she begins to learn life in the perfectly augmented reality may not be all that she imagined.

***If you love Brave New World, you’re going to love the Unchipped series!

***Get early access to Unchipped short stories, plus the Unchipped prequel, The Meeting, by signing up for my newsletter! 

The Review

A brilliant story, the author has created a fantastic blend of science-fiction storytelling with a post-apocalyptic vibe. The first novella in this series takes readers into the heart of this series’ mythology, where Kaarina discovers the world of the Chipped is vastly different than what she and her fellow Unchipped believe. 

The character development and growth is equally on par with the myth building the author does with the mythology of this universe. From the mysterious Doctor Solomon who seems to be in charge of the entire program to the seemingly savage nature of the other Unchipped, this was a fascinating deep-dive into a whole new sci-fi universe like no other. 

The Verdict

Examining a distant future where a bid to save the lives of humanity comes at the cost of freedom, author Taya Devere’s “Unchipped: Kaarina” is a one-of-a-kind introduction into a highly addictive new sci-fi series. Full of action, suspense and dystopian themes, this is a book readers won’t be able to put down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Taya is a Finnish-American author, writing contemporary fiction and dystopian sci-fi. After living, working, and traveling in America for seven years, she now lives in Finland with her partner-in-everything Chris, their dog Seamus, three bunny-boys (Ronin, Baby, and Loki), and her horse of a lifetime, Arabella.

Taya’s restless feet have taken her all over Finland, the United Kingdom, and North America. Her new dystopian series “Unchipped” is inspired by the real-life characters she’s met on her travels. Cultural differences, social issues, and behavioral psychology have always fascinated Taya. “Unchipped” tells the story of the world in 2085, when technology has replaced people’s need to truly connect with one another. The series describes what it feels like to be an outsider and takes an in-depth look at the unlikely friendships between perfectly imperfect people across the globe. 

Justice. Kindness. The fact that all beings on this planet are equally important. Taya’s world revolves around these values every day, and they play a substantial role in her storytelling as well.

Taya’s writing is inspired by authors such as Margaret Atwood, Peter Heller, Hugh Howey, and C.M. Martens.

Teija’s author site: https://www.tayadevere.com

Her Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Taya-DeVere/e/B07KRJPMTV

The Unchipped series page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08CHKB96S

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tayadevereauthor

Instagram: www.instagram.com/tayadevere_author

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/tayadevere

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/authors/taya-devere

Blackacre Rising (Ivy Spires #2) by John C. Adams Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Loyalties will be tested and lines will be crossed as the fight for humanity wages on in author John C. Adams’ latest entry in the Ivy Spires dystopian series, “Blackacre Rising”. 

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The Synopsis

From Horror Tree reviewer and double Aeon Award Longlister John C Adams comes a disturbing tale of scientific experimentation and sadistic cruelty. The sequel to ‘Souls For The Master’, ‘Blackacre Rising’ features a stunning cover by Fiona Jayde Media.

Leaving the chaos erupting in the Metropolis behind, Gerald speeds north to his cousin Brett Flint’s farmhouse, Blackacre. He is certain that their vehicle is being followed, but returning to the capital with Don and Ivy is simply too risky now that Janus Fidens has taken over the Resistance and declared the pair to be outlaws who have betrayed the Revolution. Arriving at Blackacre, Gerald begs Brett and his wife Radclyffe to shelter Ivy and Don under their roof without asking too many questions about why his young companions have had to flee to the sparsely populated uplands and need their presence there kept secret.

Distraught at saying goodbye to Gerald, Ivy admits how much she has come to care for him since they have been battling the authorities together. They snatch a few moments alone together to say a private farewell before Gerald drives back to the capital, hoping to persuade Janus to drop his pursuit of Ivy and Don. En route, Gerald is followed by the same car that tailed them northwards. Lured into stopping to assist at the site of a road traffic accident, the trainee surgeon is captured and transported to a shadowy underground scientific research facility, where he is disturbed to discover that Sinister Tungsten, sister to his arch nemesis Hendra, awaits him.

In the Blackacre library, Don is welcomed by the Seven. This mysterious group includes the Master he fought to defeat down in the Metropolis, five other strange figures with bizarre powers and, of course, the malignant farmhouse itself. Brett, Radclyffe and their twin baby sons reside in the oddest place Don has ever encountered. He reluctantly agrees to become involved in the Seven’s project to assassinate Dr Luther Honigbaum, who funds the facility where Gerald is being held prisoner and runs the asylum in Austria which supplies its young female test subjects.

Learning how to transport herself from one location to another shocks Ivy. Unlike Don, who has wielded great power his whole life, her skills as an assassin are more practical in nature, and she worries that having shifted safely to Austria she’ll be unable to return safely. Finally, she is ready to undertake her mission to kill the evil man behind the gruesome experiments that serve no purpose other than to gratify the rampant cruelty of Honigbaum and his acolytes.

Meanwhile, the Seven show Don another facility, this time in Antarctica, where equally cruel experiments take place upon men. When the Seven tell him he is too young to witness exactly what it taking place, he uses his unique powers to advance his age by three years so that he is now eighteen. He gladly sacrifices a part of his natural life to rescue the men kept prisoner there and tormented by sadistic experiments with no scientific value whatsoever.

Arriving in Austria, Ivy is horrified to discover that her cover is already blown and Honigbaum lies in waiting for her. He has a sinister agenda of his own and will stop at nothing to eliminate anyone who resists both his sadistically cruel medical research and his repulsive sexual advances. When Brett Flint’s cousin Henry turns up at Ubersneller, Honigbaum locks him up in one of his asylums high up in the mountains to ensure his silence. He has particularly dark designs on Ivy, and is determined that her close friendship with Don will enable him to reach out to his estranged son. Drugged and forced to comply, Ivy is young enough to provide the ageing Honigbaum with everything he wishes. Gerald’s imprisonment ends when Sinistra’s elder sister Hendra returns and the authorities brutally re-establish law and order, but he is no safer with her than with her sibling.

The Review

A truly gripping, intense, and engaging dystopian sci-fi read. The author does a brilliant job of creating a large mythos in this dystopian world rich with a multitude of main and side characters that readers will be able to both loathe and root for. 

Although I had not read the first book in the series, the author writes in a way that allows readers both new and established to be able to delve into this new narrative, as the central characters find themselves split up and fighting brutal battles all on their own. Each finds their path fraught with horrifying trials and monstrous adversaries, all while their own abilities grow and develop over time. 

The story really benefits from a strong character arc for the central protagonists and antagonists. This lengthy read delves into the hardships and struggles each character undertakes in this world divided by class and exposed to horrors unlike anything seen before. In the midst of powers and action, the author really brings about complex characters that readers can identify and support throughout this narrative.

The Verdict

A must-read dystopian sci-fi thriller, author John C. Adams’ “Blackacre Rising” is a fantastic sequel in the Ivy Spires series. Emotionally driven character arcs and action-packed scenes all come together under strong mythology and ends on a cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting more. Be sure to preorder your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I’m a non-binary author and critic of fantasy and horror.

I review for Schlock! Webzine, the British Fantasy Society and Horror Tree, as well as placing reviews and articles across a wide range of blogs and magazines.

I have a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University. I’ve been a Contributing Editor for Albedo One Magazine and the Aeon Award since 2016. Before that, I was a Submissions Reader with them.

My debut horror novel, ‘Souls for the Master’, is 99c on Smashwords retailers and 99p on Kindle. Likewise, my debut fantasy novel, ‘Aspatria’, is 99c on Smashwords retailers and 99p on Kindle. The sequel to ‘Aspatria’, ‘Dagmar of the Northlands’, is out now on Kindle and Smashwords retailers.

Although I write mostly long fiction, since 2015 I have had stories published in anthologies from Horrified Press, Lycan Valley Press, Fantasia Divinity and Jersey Pines Ink. My short stories have also been published in the Horror Zine, Swords & Sorcery, Sirens Call, Blood Moon Rising, Lovecraftiana and various other magazines.

Every emerging writer needs plenty of encouragement right at the start, and entering lots of competitions early on made a real difference to my confidence to press on with writing longer fiction and think about submitting short fiction to magazines and anthologies in due course. In 2012, I was longlisted for the International Aeon Award Short Fiction Contest for ‘The Visitors’ and again in 2013 for ‘We Can Finish Your Baby’s Brain For You’. My writing was also recognised by the Enrico Charles Literary Award (runner up in 2012) and by the University of Winchester Writers’ Conference in both 2012 and 2013, including a Commendation in the First Three Pages of a Novel category, and other nominations in poetry and short fiction.

I read PPE at Somerville College, and I am a non-practising solicitor. I live in rural Northumberland, UK, and I combine my career as an author and critic with raising my kids and caring for a severely disabled relative. I’m always busy!

http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

Twitter: johncadamssf