Tag Archives: sci-fi book

Welcome to Opine by Matthew Marullo Review

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

A member of a future society of a new human civilization builds resistance to a gene treatment meant to eliminate selfishness entirely, and discovers the consequences of trying to suppress human nature as a whole in author Matthew Marullo’s “Welcome to Opine”.

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The Synopsis

Nine billion years into the future, the rogue planet Earth is captured by a blue dwarf star in another galaxy, eventually culminating in the rise of Homo Sapiens 2.0.

Imagine a member of the ancient humans had buried deep in the earth a quantum computer containing a vast, digitized compendium of humankind’s history and achievements, all preserved within petabytes of quantum memory.

This new human civilization, calling their planet Opine and themselves the Opinions, the first “i” pronounced with a long vowel, were granted the valuable benefit of hindsight. After spending decades studying “Ancient” history, the Opinions endeavored to expunge selfishness from the human genome through a genetic therapy called the Self Suppressor.

But what happens when one person develops a natural resistance to the therapy? Would he then represent a threat to the gene pool? Will the Opinions be able to correct this genetic anomaly, or perhaps adapt it, in the interest of regaining a sacrificed part of their humanity?

One voice may know the answer. The voice of the man who originally buried the quantum computer billions of years ago…

The Review

This was a captivating and thought-provoking blend of sci-fi and satire. The author was able to find the perfect voice to capture the curiosity and discovery that these futuristic humans find within themselves at the pleasure and gratification resulting from this young man’s immunity. The themes of conservatism and viewing sex not as a pleasurable act but as a scientific necessity to further the human race came to life in an artistic and brilliant way.

The powerful imagery of the author’s work and the world-building helped to elevate the character’s growth and dynamics in a big way. The spark to this “revolution” of sorts within this futuristic society stems from the connection between Aster, the young man who begins to develop immunity, and his longtime friend Dianella. The sudden burst of embarrassment and shock that Aster has at his actions and desires is a stark contrast to the almost deadpan observations of Dianella. Yet, the domino effect of Aster’s actions showcases the futility of suppressing human sexuality and freedoms as a whole.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, mesmerizing, and haunting, author Dr. Matthew Marullo’s “Welcome to Opine” is a must-read sci-fi satire. The twists and turns in the narrative help to bring the rich mythology and world-building of this futuristic society and version of Earth to life in an authentic way. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Dr. Matthew Marullo is the author of three prior novels: The Octave Displacement (2006), Gludman’s Proof (2013), and Till Times Are Done (2019). Reviewers such as Kirkus, Blueink, and Foreword call Marullo’s novels “unique,” “clever,” as well as “expertly” and “masterfully” written. Dr. Marullo lives with his family in Long Island, New York. 

Love’s Call by Fern Brady Review/Preview

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

Two people from rival nations find themselves fighting against the growing attraction between them, but only one of them realizes they are fated to one another in author Fern Brady’s “Love’s Call”.

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The Synopsis

Denipia Leron, a beautiful young painter and visionary from the country of Usmerim, has just won the coveted Innovation Awards in the Arts. During her trip to the award ceremony, she learns that President Nichamir Linput of the enemy nation of Sorusvia is a primary patron and has expressed special interest in her. Fearful of what this could mean for her burgeoning company and artistic career, she vows to be polite, but keep the would-be dictator as far from her as she can.

Nichamir is used to getting what he wants, both personally and politically. Having saved his nation from a Calvernsin invasion, he believes himself justified in how he rules Sorusvia. In spite of the propaganda against him, Nichamir works hard to bring prosperity to his people. Yet the powerful ruler finds himself unprepared for his first meeting with the strong-willed and wary Denipia.

But Nichamir is not what he seems. He is dragonborn, a secret he has carefully hidden his whole life. He knows Denipia is his fated mate from the first moment he catches her scent. For Denipia, the strength of the attraction she feels for a man she should deeply despise is disconcerting, yet undeniable. She wants Nichamir as she has never wanted any other man.

Can Denipia risk giving her heart to this powerful man? Will Nichamir be able to win her trust? Can Love’s Call help them overcome the many obstacles in their path and forge the bond they seem destined to fulfill?

The Review

This was a well-written and captivating sci-fi meets fantasy read. The author did an excellent job of drawing the reader in with a heavy atmosphere of will they, won’t they passion and did an incredible job of building upon the enemies-to-lovers romance trope that kept the political and action elements of the novel elevated.

The heart of the narrative however was in the world-building and the character growth that the two protagonists went through. The mythos surrounding dragons and the dragon-born were incredible to read through, as were the political and sci-fi elements of the setting and world the author created. The tensions that arose from the protagonist’s dividing factions and the heat that sparked between them were engaging and heated as the novel progressed, and helped give the intrigue and suspense more weight.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, passionate, and entertaining, author Fern Brady’s “Love’s Call” is a must-read sci-fi and fantasy romance novel of 2023 and a great way to begin the new year. The twists and turns in the two protagonist’s journey and the tension their opposing backgrounds bring to their possible romance will keep readers invested in the narrative until its climactic conclusion. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Fern Brady is the founder and CEO of Inklings Publishing. She holds multiple Masters degrees and several certifications. She began her professional life as a foreign correspondent, and taught for 15 years in Alief ISD. She has published numerous short stories, two children’s picture books, and a couple of poems. Her debut novel, United Vidden, which is book one in her Thyrein’s Galactic Wall Series, was given a glowing review by Dr. Who Online, the official site of the fandom. Also available for purchase is volume one of her graphic novel/novella hybrid project, New Beginning. She has returned to the leadership of the Houston Writers Guild, with whom she served as CEO for four years previously. She co-hosts on the popular podcast Author Talk. Besides being active in WIVLA (Women in the Visual and Literary Arts), she is also a member of Blood Over Texas, Romance Writers of America, and American Booksellers Association. Fern lives in Houston TX with her parents and her talkative husky, Arya. Follow Fern’s writing at: www.fernbrady.com

Blog Tour Post: Resistance by M.D. Grimm

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Resistance - M.D. Grimm

M.D. Grimm has a new MM sci-fi romance out, Saga of the Bold People book 3: Resistance.

Can a retired assassin be the savior his people need?

How does a former assassin save his fellow humans from extinction? By allying them with mrrogs of course!

But that’s easier said than done as humans are understandably distrustful and suspicious of sescurei, the official species of the InterGalactic community. Leopold must convince them that Mastrodai’s offer of alliance isn’t a trick, which means diplomacy, patience, and tenacity. Times like this make him grateful that he has two strong mates to lean on. And when it comes to understanding his own people, he’d be wise to follow Alex’s lead.

Alex has been too long away from her family and is thrilled to see them again. But with reunions come old pressures, old doubts, and old wounds. She must negotiate who she was with who she is, while helping her mates and her colony come together with the shared goal of freedom.

Mastrodai, meanwhile, finds himself in the minority for the first time in his life, and the constant hostility has him doubting the wisdom of their choices. But he’s devoted to his human mates and determined to see things through no matter the discomfort… or danger.

Not everyone wants what Leopold and his mates have to give, and he needs to break through the resistance humans have built up after generations of degradation, humiliation, and fear. He must win his people’s trust, solve the riddle of his parents’ rings, and navigate the new complexities of his love life.

Being an assassin was so much easier.

Series Blurb:

Leopold is a human in an alien-dominated InterGalactic Community. He gained a reputation as the assassin Voidstriker, until his identity was revealed. He soon finds himself reassessing his life, his mission, and his own identity.

Having spent his entire life driven by hate and fear, he soon finds himself motivated by hope and love. He decides on a new mission in life: freeing the human species. It will be a long, hard road, and one he can’t walk alone. Even as his allies grow in number, he will most depend on his mates–Mastrodai, the mrrog prince, and Alexandra, a fellow human, his best friend, and their lover.

Along with Sasha, a young girl with extraordinary abilities. Leopold is no stranger to challenges but this might be his greatest trial yet.

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Excerpt

Resistance meme - M.D. Grimm

After I docked and killed the engines, the hangar doors closed and the airlock door slid open. In the doorway stood a panting young man, who resembled Alex enough I surmised that was Darius. He had the same pale skin, the same fair hair, and the shape of face was reminiscent of Alex, but his eyes were a dark brown. He stared at the DV as if afraid it would vanish.

I’d kept the opaque shield over the viewing glass to keep Mastrodai hidden for as long as

possible. I suspected there were cameras here, and I needed the reveal to be on my terms.

Alex let out a strangled breath before jumping to her feet and running. She didn’t wait for the DV’s doors to lower completely. She jumped off the ramp much to my and Mastrodai’s panic. We hurried after her but I pressed a hand to Mastrodai’s chest to hold him back. I peeked around the corner and even my stone heart softened a bit. They collided in a flurry of tears and laughter, and he swung her off her feet. They peppered kisses over each other’s faces before he set her back down. But they didn’t let go. Instead they talked over each other, and despite knowing Terran, I couldn’t understand a damn thing.

“Stay inside a bit longer.”

Mastrodai growled.

“Shhh!”

Glowering, he crouched in the shadows of the DV, and I patted his head before trailing after Alex.

Darius was a strapping young man in his black, armored uniform. Two aeunni were holstered at his hips, much like how I wore mine. Both shoulders had a triangle patch. I couldn’t make out the details but they were yellow. He looked like he needed a good sleep but other than that, he appeared well-fed and alert.

Though his eyes were now red from crying.

I stood near them for a moment before Darius noticed me. It amused me when he held his sister tighter, his eyes narrowing. I recognized instant defender mode and couldn’t fault him for it. I was a stranger and that was his beloved, long-lost sister. A sister who’d helped raise him.

I kept my expression neutral and my hands in sight. I nodded to him.

“Hello. Good to meet you.”

“Alex?” he asked, that one word dripping with suspicion.

Alex took a breath and stepped back, breaking his grip. She took my hand and laced our fingers.

“Darius, this is Leopold. He’s my partner, so stop glaring at him.”

Darius’s eyes widened as he flicked his gaze between us. “He… you… what? What happened?”

“I’ll explain everything later, I promise. But we need you to meet our other companion, and you need to help us get an audience with the entire leadership.”

“Why? Dammit, Alex, you have to tell me something. You show up here after cycles of us believing that you were dead or worse, and now you have a partner who looks like he could kill me with his little finger, and you’re acting all mysterious.”

I swallowed a laugh. He wasn’t wrong.

“I will.” She grabbed his hand and squeezed hard enough that he grimaced. “But this is important. Veryimportant, to all of us. Just stay calm while we introduce you to our other partner.”

“‘Other partner’?” Darius scratched his head, looking dazed. “I am so confused.”

Alex bit her lower lip.

I called over my shoulder. “Now’s a good a time as any, Mastrodai.”

I made sure to pronounce his name correctly, not the way I normally did, with all the required growls.

Mastrodai’s heavy steps down the ramp had Darius bracing. I shifted my weight to the balls of my feet and let go of Alex’s hand while taking a subtle step in front of her. Mastrodai wore the armored suit I’d made him almost a Mragin year ago, just as I wore my armtina breastplate, but his head wasn’t protected. It was a gamble that I hoped would pay off. A helmet would other him more than he already would be among a ship full of humans. Mastrodai stepped into view, standing tall and proud, but weaponless and showing his hands.

Darius yelped and went for his aeunn.

At the same time, alarms sounded, proving that someone must have been watching the cameras. Mastrodai glared at the flashing lights, his ears flat against his head in deference to the noise.

“Darius, no!”

I leapt and tackled Darius, disarming him and tossing away his second aeunn. He struggled and fought, screaming. He had strength and passion but I had training and years of practice. I managed to roll him onto his stomach and with a knee to his back, I yanked up his arm behind him, pinning him.

“Don’t hurt him! Oh Void, Leopold!”

“Show him, Alex! Show him that Mastrodai isn’t a threat.”

With a sob, Alex ran to Mastrodai and hugged him. He held her tightly, purring, eyes and ears alert for any other aggression. Alex looked back at Darius, pleading with her eyes.

Darius stilled, frozen in shock.


Author Bio

M.D. Grimm Logo

M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!).

After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier.

Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.

Author Website: https://www.mdgrimmwrites.com

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Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4574220.M_D_GrimmAuthor

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And Now, Here is a Message and Excerpt of Resistance from author M.D. Grimm

Good day lovely readers! Thank you for joining me. I am M.D. Grimm and I am here to promote my newest release, Resistance. This is the latest entry in the Saga of the Bold People. I am thrilled to release a new book in this series. These are super-novels and take twice as long as my other books to write (if I’m lucky). So, if you like grumpy, pessimistic former assassins and their long-suffering mates, as well as a dystopian setting with hope hanging on by a thread, this series might be for you!

Check out the below excerpt to learn a little bit about Alex, the woman who captured both a former assassin’s heart (Leopold) and an elite alien’s (Mastrodai). I was thrilled to finally present her voice. This is from the prologue:

***

“Alexandra Petrov, you get your ass down here now!”

Before I could answer, others shoved Mila down farther, wanting the relative safety of the dark bunker. I let her be torn from me and backed away to help the other mothers.

“Sara, you dropped your blanket, here. June, be careful, the first step is slippery. Here, let me take that, Gabe. No, no Devon, support the head.”

Devon, a new father, shaky with terror, managed to comprehend my words and held his newborn tighter to his chest. Amy, his wife, clung to his arm as she shuffled as fast as she could. She’d been forced to have a C-section, and I feared she’d pass out. I grabbed her other arm and steadied her down the steps, while trying not to block others.

I struggled to count heads in the dark and worried there were too many of us for the bunker. That was the main reason for Gerald coordinating descents. It was for safety as well as to make sure everyone got a turn.

Garbled Veruvian came closer, and the hair on the back of my neck rose as if our pursuers were breathing down my neck.

“Hurry!” I whispered.

But they weren’t moving fast enough and the bunker was almost filled to bursting. Raiders would soon be upon us. I had a choice to make.

A choice that would mean goodbye to everyone and everything I knew and loved. I caught Layla’s frantic glance over her shoulder. I gazed at Tula and Talia, twins who’d also given birth to twins, and their spouses, Roger and Edna. These people were my extended family, forged through shared experiences, both good and bad, rather than blood. 

Tears threatened but I swallowed them back. As with every other time when fear tried to consume me, I bricked it up behind a wall of numbness. Of emotionless instinct. When my father yelled at me, beat me, I’d grown numb. When my mother insulted and berated me, I’d grown numb. And now, it would be my salvation once again.

Mila and the others and their babies were all that mattered.

I turned to face the raiders and ran straight for them. It was too dark for anyone to notice, which gave me a chance at a semblance of stealth. I followed the voices, sticking as close to the shadows as I could. My heart still raced, and my mouth and throat were as dry as a desert, but my mind was focused. Distraction. Time. I needed to give both so the others could close the door to the bunker and secure themselves.

Our little village wasn’t in the best shape, and I used that to my advantage. I grabbed a flimsy plank of wood and broke it into smaller pieces on my knee. The sounds made a few raiders shift away from the rest to investigate. My vision had adjusted to the darkness and, considering none of them had lights on their helmets or rejlfei, they probably had natural night vision. I couldn’t determine their species, and I didn’t much care. It didn’t matter.

With a courage I knew Mila would be proud of, I screamed at them and threw the wood shards at their heads. They flinched, the suddenness of my attack catching them off guard.

“To the Void with you aliens! I spit on your home planets!” I said in Veruvian.

Someone barked out a harsh order, and most came after me. It would have to do. I ran. I ran in the opposite direction. I ran until daggers scraped my lungs, until my legs burned, until fatigue made me stumble. I knew I couldn’t escape. Didn’t matter. Time. Distraction. My freedom was already gone.

They didn’t shoot at me, wanting me alive. Though that didn’t mean they wouldn’t harm me, punish me for the insults. I tightened on the numbness that protected me like armor. It was just my body they would hurt. Not me. They would never touch Alex Petrov. Not where it mattered.

A tranq finally stopped me.

***

The first three books of the Saga of the Bold People are available for purchase at Amazon (also in print!) and Smashwords. I have a newsletter that I send out monthly with all the goodies you can expect in the future. That’s the best way to find out about my current and future projects.

For fans of The Stones of Power series, I have finished the first draft of Jade: First and Last (9) and am now rigorously editing it. I hope to release it in Spring 2023, so keep your eyes peeled for that! I will be releasing Crimson Purity, the next in the Shifter Chronicles book, in January 2023. I am also working on an MMF single title with dragons and outlining the next Shifter Chronicles book. Wish me luck!

More information on my catalog can be found at my website.

I hope you stay safe and healthy, and may dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

Androids & Aliens by J. Scott Coatsworth Blog Tour & Author Interview

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New Release / Giveaway: Androids & Aliens - J. Scott Coatsworth

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi collection out: Androids & Aliens. And there’s a giveaway.

Androids & Aliens is Scott’s third short story collection – eight sci fi and sci-fantasy shorts that run the gamut from cyborgs to (comedic) alien invasions:

Rise: Because of the rise in sea levels associated with climate change, Venice vanished beneath the lagoon half a century ago. But what if we could bring it back?

Ping: I was a real estate agent by day and a museum curator in the evenings at a sci-fi museum. What I saw one night changed everything.

What the Rain Brings: Miriam struggles to make a living in post-climate-change Vancouver. But her friend Catalina has it even worse in the Arizona desert. So Miri hatches a plan.

High Seven: Zan dreams of making full reals – immersive live virtual reality skins – but his low test score may doom him to a life of cheap graphic coding.

Full Real: Dek’s given up his life of spying for the city. But one more case awaits him. Will he regret it more if he takes it. or if he turns it down?

Shit City: The Bay Area’s being walloped by a hurricane, and seventeen-year-old Jason Vasquez has been relocated to a refugee city in the Nevada Desert. Will it be temporary shelter, or a change of life?

Firedrake: Kerry has always wondered about his deadly powers. But a mysterious bunch of violet roses start him on the path to discovery – even if he’s not sure he’s going to like what he finds.

The Last Human Heart: I’m one of the Remainers, the few cyborg humans still living on this busted planet. But if my still-human heart finally gives out, I may not live to find out the truth.

This is the first time all of these stories have all been collected in one place, and the first time the Pacific Climate Tryptich – What the Rain Brings, High Seven, and Full real – have been published in any form.

Warnings: Full Real contains attempted kidnapping and references to off-page physical and sexual abuse.

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Giveaway

Scott is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47265/?


Excerpt

Androids & Aliens meme

From The Last Human Heart

I slip out of the culvert as the sun falls behind the tawny hills on the horizon, a green flash lighting the sky. My heart beats at a steady pace.

Climbing back up onto the highway, I check the co-ordinates. With luck and a steady pace, I should reach the Trading Station by morning.

The stag crosses my mind again, that strange stare, beast to beast. There’s so little out here for it to live on or in, no trees or shade or shelter from the blistering sun. Just grass. Lots and lots of grass. Where did you go?

Taking one measured step after another, I start on my way, timing them to the beating of my heart.

A heady sense of possibility fills my chest. It’s strange, something I haven’t felt in years. I’ve traveled the length of the continent, from New York to California. I’ve been to Alaska and as far south as the isthmus, where rising seas finally finished the work of the Panama Canal, severing North and South America. In a few short centuries, humankind accomplished what Nature had labored for eons to do.

An hour later, I get my first look at the towers of Sacramento. I haven’t been here in decades, but it looks much the same as before. Its hulking skyscrapers and superscrapers look like bloody teeth in the infrared. Many are broken. Some still standing, others long since crashed back to the ground whence they came. They glow with stored heat, slowly bleeding it off into the atmosphere as the air cools.

Whence they came? I snort. I’m in rare form tonight—practically Shakespearian. Erik would have teased me endlessly for that.

I frown. He’s been on my mind a lot lately. Mortality having her fun with me?

I flash back to nights in Shanghai, fighting with my metal brothers and sisters in the street-to-street combat of the last wars. Flashes of light and explosions as nano bombs fell into civilian neighborhoods, eating everything in their path—stone and brick, flesh and bone.

I shudder. I should delete those memories—they only bring me pain. And yet… sometimes we need to remember the pain, so we don’t repeat it. But we can’t let it define us.

Who said that? Erik? My father?

No. It was Cassie. My erstwhile traveling companion for a couple years after the upload. When all that remained in this empty, broken world were the bots and empty, broken cyborgs like Cassie and me.

She’d finally shut herself down two decades ago. I’m tired of living, David.

Pain leaches away some of my good will. Maybe she had it right. Maybe it’s time for me, too, to give in to the inevitable. But I’m not quite ready yet, so I just keep moving.


Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth

Scott 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 the committee chair for the Indie Authors Committee at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth/

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Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

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Author Interview

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.

Yes, always! Ever since I started writing seriously, I’ve made a point of including folks from across the LGBTQ spectrum. I’ve also written BIPOC characters, a deaf character, and one with OCD. In Androids and Aliens, most of the characters are gay, but there’s a non-binary character and a lesbian couple as well. And do cyborgs count? 😛

How do you approach covers for your indie stories?

I create most of my own these days. I’ve been using photoshop in our day job for years to work on photos for our websites, and have learned to use it more creatively these last three. I’ve also had some help with typography and cover design from Kelley York at Sleepy Fox Designs. She did the type for A&A too. 🙂

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Astronomer. Writer. Rock Star.

I always loved signing, but somehow I just didn’t have the rock star vibe. I wanted to be an astronomer, and then I found out how much math it took to be an astronomer. I just wanted to look at the pretty nebulas, planets and stars. So that left “writer”!

What action would your name be if it were a verb?

To bounce one’s leg in a frenetic fashion.

“That guy scotted his leg so hard he knocked over the table.”

*grin*

What are you working on now?

I’m just about finished with a new four book trilogy. Yeah, you read that right. It was supposed to be three, but the last book was too long so I split it in half. It’s called the Tharassas Cycle, and it’s loosely connected to my other two trilogies. Book one, The Dragon Eater, will release in March.

The audiobook version of Skythane, my first novel, will be out in audio in February.

And next, I’ll be starting on Coredivers, book two of the Redemption Cycle, after Dropnauts.

Dusk Upon Elysium by Tamel Wino Review

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

A researcher for a trailblazing VR program hoping to perfect the system gets lost in the darkest recesses of the system itself and must confront his past and the darkness humanity has been plunged into in the real world in author Tamel Wino’s “Dusk Upon Elysium”. 

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The Synopsis

From the award-winning creator of Ékleipsis comes a dystopian narrative of affliction and obsession.

The world as we know it is forever lost. A deadly virus has scourged the planet and ravaged billions. Under the harsh ruling regime, survivors were “cleansed” and confined to isolated units, perpetually tormented by hunger, desolation, and desperation.

Among them is Geoff, a researcher for the trailblazing Paradiso, an authority-regulated virtual-reality program that allows users to momentarily escape their waking lives via implanted chips. He is devoted to perfecting the system—a vessel to preserve future hopes and dreams, where immense worlds prevail, brimming with vast possibilities.

But before long Geoff finds himself thrusted into the darkest recesses of these alternate realities, where he must confront not only his past but persevere against the unknown, fighting for his very existence.

Is all this magnificence just a grandiose illusion? Could there ever be salvation from the living hell into which mankind has plummeted?

The Review

This was a truly engaging novel. The author does an amazing job of capturing the grittiness of this world the author has created. The vivid imagery the author employed here did an excellent job of capturing the rich juxtaposition of the shocking dystopian reality of the real world with the atmospheric and beautiful scenery within Paradiso, bringing this sci-fi epic to life expertly.

The heart of this narrative had to be the dynamic character development and the stellar world-building that the author crafted. The emotional core of Owen’s past meeting the present day and the psychological effect of being so immersed into this virtual world help build upon the mythos of this illness-ravaged world that has left humanity on the brink of extinction and a powerful military keeping the survivors “in check”, mirroring some of our own fears in the heights of the recent global pandemic we all endured.

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, entertaining, and haunting in its delivery, author Tamel Wino’s “Dusk Upon Elysium” is a must-read sci-fi dystopian novel of 2022. A great way to end the year for fans of these genres, the balance the author found between the mind-bending genres and the emotional core of these characters and their arcs made this story truly shine. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Tamel Wino is a horror/thriller short fiction writer from the resplendent British Columbia whose works focus largely on madness and human morality. He attended the University of Western Ontario, majoring in health sciences and psychology which only furthered his interest in human nature.

With inspirations including Alice Munro, Joe Hill, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Edgar Allan Poe; Tamel’s expositions are strongly grounded in traditions of dark fiction. Yet, with his bold, evocative narrative voice and incisive plot construction, Wino is paving a new movement within the space.


When he’s not reading or scribbling away on his laptop, Tamel loves listening to jazz, rewatching good ol’ classic movies and travelling.

Augment Nation by Scott Overton Review

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

In a world where mega-corporations begin to conspire together as brain augmentations replace smartphones, a young man who was one of the first to gain such an implant years before it became popular may be humanity’s only hope to raise a rebellion against these corporations in author Scott Overton’s “Augment Nation”.

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The Synopsis

Since the age of fourteen Damon Leiter has had a brain-computer interface implanted beneath his skull to correct a neurological disorder. As a teenager, it branded him as an outcast—as an adult it endows him with extraordinary abilities. He may represent the next step in human evolution.

When computerized brain augments replace smartphones as the must-have status item, mega-corporations and governments conspire together and marketing becomes mind control. Damon is uniquely equipped to lead a worldwide resistance. But Damon can’t be sure he isn’t playing into the hands of the rich and powerful.

They might even be right:

Maybe the real threat to humanity is Damon himself. 

The Review

This was an absolutely captivating,  near-future sci-fi thriller! The author did an incredible job of really layering this world with vivid imagery that brought this near-futuristic world to life. The juxtaposition of the coldness of the corporations and their machinations against the warmth and beauty of the character’s perseverance really highlighted the theme of technology and its influence on humanity overall.

The harmonious way the author brought together the character dynamics with the gripping thriller atmosphere of the narrative. The complex story behind the protagonist and his connections to both sides of this “war” was so enthralling to get lost in, as it really made his arc so much more thought-provoking. The earnestness with which he pursues his goals and the more extensive overarching nature of the antagonists and their goals kept the murky, shadowy nature of the genre alive as the story continued to evolve. Having the protagonist develop a connection with Valerie also gave him a human connection.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, engaging, and adrenaline-fueled, author Scott Overton’s “Augment Nation” is a must-read sci-fi novel. The twists and turns in the narrative and the complex nature of these characters and the mythos of this world the author has created built up the emotionally charged and shocking final chapters and the revelations of this narrative, making this story readers won’t be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

With a long career as a radio morning show host, Scott’s always had a way with words. But his lifelong devotion to science fiction was destined to lead to a second career as a writer. Although his first novel, the mystery/thriller Dead Air was set in the radio world (and shortlisted for a Northern Lit Award in Ontario, Canada) all of his writing since has taken the reader to even stranger places, including the human bloodstream in his SF novel debut The Primus Labyrinth, a science fiction thriller that readers compare to Michael Crichton and Dan Brown. His most recent novel Naïda chronicles a reluctant hero with an alien being living inside him. Scott strongly believes that science fiction should involve compelling themes and important issues, along with memorable characters.

His short fiction has been published in magazines such as On Spec, AEscifi, Neo-opsis, Penumbra and anthologies including Future Visions 3, Casserole Diplomacy: The On Spec 25th Anniversary Anthology, Canadian Tales of the Fantastic, In Poe’s Shadow, and Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound. Fifteen of his SF/fantasy short stories have been gathered in the collection BEYOND: Stories Beyond Time, Technology, and the Stars. Many more SF novels are on the way. Scott’s distractions from writing include scuba diving, music, and collector cars. He lives with his wife on a private island in Northern Ontario.

http://www.scottoverton.ca/

The Tangled Stars by Edward Willett Review

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

Over a century after the collapse of the network that allowed space-time travel to occur, a thief and conman seeking to escape his debts discovers a possible tunnel that has reawakened and gives him the chance to travel to a new part of the universe in author Edward Willett’s “The Tangled Stars”.

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The Synopsis

This new novel from an Aurora Award-winning author presents a sci-fi caper of high-stakes interstellar travel.

More than a century ago, the network of MASTTs, the space-time tunnels that made interstellar travel possible, violently collapsed, the backlash destroying a lot of the solar system’s space-based infrastructure. Cooper “Coop” Douglas, a thief and conman is in serious debt to outer-system crime-lord Eric Galioto. While trying to salvage a valuable chunk of a space station destroyed by the backlash, Coop makes a startling discovery: MASTT Primus, the tunnel that used to lead to New Earth, is open again. That raises an intriguing possibility: Coop could flee the solar system and his debt to Galioto and make a new life—and possibly fortune—around another star.

Accompanied by his first mate, the wisecracking, AI-uplifted, genetically modified cat Thibauld, Coop sets out to “liberate” the solar system’s only remaining functioning starship from an Earthside museum, enlisting the help of Laysa Grey, a former-lover-turned-cop on Luna. Along the way, he is pursued by Galioto and dogged by law enforcement and thugs.

And beyond MASTT Primus, the tangled stars await . . . 

The Review

This was a fantastic, action-packed, and dynamic reading experience for longtime sci-fi fans. The author did an incredible job of capturing the rich atmosphere that honed in on the heist dynamics that the narrative promises while also hitting the witty charm that great sci-fi thieves who are thrust into the role of a “hero” are known for. The author’s attention to detail on the technical aspects of the laws and physics of this narrative’s space travel and sciences was engaging to get lost in and added to the mythos that the author established early on in this read.

The story found a perfect balance between thoughtful character development and world-building. The dynamics between the protagonist and his allies, including an AI-minded cat, added a human element to the overall narrative, while the multiple POVs between the protagonist and the antagonist gave a well-rounded, three-dimensional view of the characters and their motivations. Yet it was the rich mythology and universe-spanning story that the author brought to life that kept me invested in the book, as its use of imagery brought this story to life perfectly. 

The Verdict

Harrowing, thought-provoking, and highly entertaining, author Edward Willett’s “The Tangled Stars” is a fantastic epic sci-fi novel of 2022. The grand scale of the universe the author has created and the dynamic cast of characters will have readers fully invested in this world, and the cliffhanger ending will have readers clamoring to get their hands on the next saga of this makeshift crew of misfits and heroes. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Edward Willett is an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy and non-fiction for both children and adults.

Born in Silver City, New Mexico, Willett lived in Bayard, New Mexico and Lubbock and Tulia, Texas, before moving to Weyburn, Saskatchewan with his family when he was eight years old.

He studied journalism at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, then returned to Weyburn as a reporter/photographer for the weekly Weyburn Review, eventually becoming news editor. In 1988 he moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, as communications officer for the Saskatchewan Science Centre, and in 1993 he became a fulltime freelance writer. He still resides in Regina.

Willett is now the author or co-author of more than 60 books, ranging from computer books and other nonfiction titles for both children and adults, to science fiction and fantasy for all ages.

His science fiction novel Marseguro (DAW Books) won the 2009 Aurora Award for best English-language science fiction or fantasy book by a Canadian author. He has also won a Saskatchewan Book Award for his YA fantasy Spirit Singer. He has been shortlisted for the Aurora Award and Saskatchewan Book Awards multiple times.

His most recent novels include Worldshaper and Master of the World, the first two books in his new series Worldshapers, and The Cityborn, a stand-alone science fiction novel from DAW Books; the Masks of Aygrima trilogy, YA/adult crossover novels published by DAW and written as E.C. Blake; the five-book YA fantasy series The Shards of Excalibur, published by Coteau Books; and the stand-alone YA fantasy Flames of Nevyana (Rebelight Publishing). He’s also the author of the Peregrine Rising duology for Bundoran Press (Right to Know and Falcon’s Egg).

Other novels include SF novel Lost in Translation (DAW Books), Terra Insegura (sequel to Marseguro, DAW Books), Magebane (DAW Books, written as Lee Arthur Chane), YA SF novels Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star, Andy Nebula: Double Trouble, and The Chosen; and YA ghost story The Haunted Horn.

Shadowpaw Press recently released his short story collection Paths to the Stars and re-released Spirit Singer, a YA fantasy that won a Saskatchewan Book Award and other awards.

His non-fiction titles run the gamut from science books for children on topics as diverse as Ebola Virus and the Milky Way to local history books like Historic Walks of Regina and Moose Jaw for Red Deer Press, awarded a Municipal Heritage Award by the City of Regina in the education category and A Safe and Prosperous Future: 100 years of engineering and geoscience achievements in Saskatchewan, published by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS). He’s also written biographies for children of Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Andy Warhol, Orson Scott Card, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Ayatollah Khomeini.

You can find Ed online at www.edwardwillett.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @ewillett.

His is represented by literary agent Ethan Ellenberg (www.ethanellenberg.com).

Besides being a writer, Willett is a professional actor and singer who has performed in dozens of plays, musicals and operas in and around Saskatchewan, hosted local television programs, and emceed numerous public events.

He’s married to a telecommunications engineer and has one daughter.

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The Free World War by Matthew William Frend Review

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

An alternative future of enlightened people uses simulations to witness how events in history could have been much different than what we know of history if something had just changed, and in so doing showcase how sacrifice in the face of tyranny is how the age of freedom is truly won in author Matthew William Frend’s “The Free World War”, the first in a planned series.

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The Synopsis

The year is 2265 and Earth is a utopia populated by enlightened and contented people.

During this time virtual reality simulations of past events can be generated using unlimited computing power. One such project stems from the events surrounding a car accident in 1945 involving General George S. Patton. The simulation is used to see what an alternative world would look like without the General, who was killed in the accident.

The simulation shows the utopians our world, where humanity has continued along the same path of destruction it has taken for millennia and the Cold War dominates the latter half of the 20th century.

General Patton understood that communism preached world domination and the U.S.S.R. under Stalin would spread its tyranny throughout the post-war world. He wanted to defeat the Soviets while the time was right. Patton proposed a continuation of the war in Europe and said he could make it look like the Soviets had started it.

The simulation’s revelations reveal that contrary to popular belief, it had taken the sacrifices of a war against tyranny for a perfect world to exist.

The Review

This was such a thought-provoking and engaging alt-history sci-fi novel. The intrigue and volumes of world-building that the author deploys here are truly phenomenal. The attention to detail the author provided when exploring history as a whole brought a nice and smooth cohesion between the historical aspects of the story with the more futuristic, sci-fi elements of the grander story being told. 

Yet as with most alt-history books, the defining aspects of this narrative fell to the rich character dynamics found within its pages and the captivating historical action the narrative found as well. The way both fictional and historical figures came to life on the page and became such a defining force in these simulations added to the depth of information the author managed to fit into such a short amount of pages, making this such a thrilling sci-fi read.

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, action-packed, and entertaining, author Matthew W. Frend’s “The Free World War” is a great first entry into this brand-new series and a must-read sci-fi novel. The twists and turns in the narrative and the exploration in-depth of what the Cold War could have looked like not only brought a cinematic quality to the writing style but allowed for a deeper look into how sacrifice and adversity in the face of hardship are crucial to the advancement of our society as we know it. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Matthew W. Frend has always had a passion for writing fiction. Drawing on his diverse background in information technology and military strategy, he created the Free World War series. He lives by the Benjamin Franklin credo of “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Following his time in the Australian Army, Matthew spent over twenty years as a computer programmer, and has lived in Australia, USA and Scotland. He has also been involved with equestrian sports at the grass roots level.

https://mwfrendauthor.wixsite.com/author

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Distant Fantasy: The Return (Book One) by Anthony C. Wray Review

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

A soldier in the Iraq war finds himself and his team responsible for the defense of a planet on the other side of a wormhole as the life he once knew begins to bleed into this new reality in author Anthony C. Wray’s “Distant Fantasy: The Return”, the first book in this new sci-fi and fantasy series!

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The Synopsis

One minute, Colonel John Locklear was in an ambush in Iraq, and the next he was home and his entire team was MIA. In his dreams, he’s drawn into another world where past, present, and future are all happening at once. There are high-seas pirates negotiating with sentient robots and people who feed off of nature’s light energy. Natasha is a leader in this other world and she keeps calling John by the name “Zac.” Then, it isn’t a dream anymore and John becomes Zac, accepting that he—and his team—have a role to play in Lunia, the world on the other side of a black hole, the world Zac needs to save.

The Review

The world-building and storytelling in this book are superb. The engaging story and atmosphere the author builds both in our world and the world of Lunia are spectacular to behold, as the imagery the author uses in his writing allowed the reader to feel the wonder and emotions the characters were feeling during the events of the book.

What really stood out to me was the way the author honed in on themes of PTSD in soldiers returning from or back to war, family, and how trauma impacts us all. The backstory of John’s character and how his experiences shape his world and mission as “Zac” are so raw and emotional, and to see this reflected in his teammates added depth to the lore and mythos of this world. Combine that with a beautiful inclusion of Native American culture and language and readers are treated to a one-of-a-kind story.

The Verdict

Captivating, mesmerizing, and impactful, author Anthony C. Wray’s “Distant Fantasy: The Return” is a fantastic entry into a brand new series and a must-read sci-fi and fantasy novel! The twists and turns of the story are enthralling, and the balance of world-building and meaningful storytelling made this one book I couldn’t put down. If you haven’t already be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Anthony Wray’s writing began with stories about other worlds, but a high school writing exercise challenged him to tap into his emotions. He began writing emotional narratives that became psychological thrillers. He now dives into speculative fiction, combining it with psychological thrillers to blend reality and imagination into tales that balance the two worlds.

After military service, Anthony reintegrated into society using imagination to process deep emotion and believes it may present opportunities for those suffering from PTSD. Anthony has a BFA in Creative Writing and lives in Texas where he writes the Distant Fantasy series.

Stay up to date with Anthony at www.anthonycwray.net and on Facebook @AnthonyC.Wray and Twitter @Anthony_C_Wray.

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