Tag Archives: science fiction book review

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

Rembrandt’s Station (Exiles of the Drift Book Two) by Christie Meierz Review

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

An exiled aristocrat and head of a space station must decide whether to genetically alter himself in order to be with the man he loves in author Christie Meierz’s “Rembrandt’s Station”.

The Synopsis

Stationmaster and exiled aristocrat Albert St. John Rembrandt—Bertie to his friends—is in love with someone he’s always believed he can’t have, and finding out the hard way that some Tolari are as poisonous as their planet is only the beginning of his troubles. A ship has gone missing. His station is in crisis. Bertie must somehow recover his health and manage the disaster while trying to decide whether to accept genetic modification in order to be with the man he loves.

And no Rembrandt has ever taken a gen mod. 

The Review

This was an incredible read. The amount of world-building and mythos the author is able to establish and expand upon from the rest of the Tolari Space Opera saga was given life on the page through exquisite imagery and tone. The narrative was both out f this world and yet somehow familiar and relatable, giving readers a chance to really explore this vast universe through a unique blend of setting and atmosphere. 

The heart of this narrative rests in the author’s character development. The story already comes into play in a spinoff of a much grander-scale sci-fi series, but the one-on-one interactions that these characters have as a  result of their connection to the Earth and one another. The relationship between Bertie and the Monral and how it evolves both characters over time was fascinating and emotionally investing for me as a reader to get behind, and the LGBTQ-driven romance that helps evolve this sci-fi narrative and the future it resides in made this a captivating read.

The Verdict

Engaging, thoughtful, and rich in mythology, author Christie Meierz’s “Rembrandt’s Station” is a must-read sci-fi epic. The perfect sequel and next installment in this space opera franchise, the evolution of Bertie in particular was a great storytelling device, allowing the reader to experience the man he was and everything in his upbringing melt away into the man he was meant to be. The love, adventure, and mythology that the character experiences in this future made this one compelling story that readers will not be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Rembrandt's Station - Christina Meierz

Christie Meierz has a new MM sci-fi romance out: Rembrandt’s Station. And there’s a giveaway!

Stationmaster and exiled aristocrat Albert St. John Rembrandt—Bertie to his friends—is in love with a man he’s always believed he can’t have, and finding out the hard way that some Tolari are as poisonous as their planet is only the beginning of his troubles.

A ship has gone missing. His station is in crisis. Bertie must somehow recover his health and manage the disaster while trying to decide whether to accept genetic modification in order to be with the man he loves.

And no Rembrandt has ever taken a gen mod.

Warnings: mention of past off-screen rape of a character who doesn’t appear in the book

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Giveaway

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

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Excerpt

Rembrandt's Station meme

Bertie was dying.

The Monral bent over him. “My love, I beg you—”

“Must… must stay human… the Duke…”

The Monral slammed his other hand onto the treatment bed and looked up at the apothecary, knowing his face betrayed the pain of his next words. “You cannot give it to him unwilling.”

She nodded, her own face betraying nothing. Grimly, he poured more of his own strength through his fingers into Bertie, who rallied a little, bringing the pain roaring back. Pain itself could kill a human. The path to keeping Bertie alive lay along a cliff’s edge. Any mistake would plunge him into the dark.

The apothecary pointed her chin at his hand. “We will do all we can for him, but high one, you must pace yourself.”

He shook his head and turned back to Bertie, willing him to remain in the light. Stay alive. Stay alive! Stubborn human! Why? Why did he risk losing his own life to remain unmodified, to hold himself apart from a belonging he clearly desired?

Poisoned, sickened, in extreme pain—Bertie could not be thinking clearly. Did that give the apothecaries an excuse to disregard his oft-stated opinion about the blessing?

Or—he could make Bertie want the blessing.

The Monral lowered his head. No. That, Bertie would never forgive. When he realized he had been manipulated—and he would—he would hate them all.

At least he would be alive to hate them.

The Monral wiped at stinging eyes. He could not betray Bertie now, though the consequences were unthinkable. He touched his forehead to Bertie’s cheek, let his senses wrap around his lover’s presence. Pain. Everywhere, pain. It crescendoed. Bertie cried out, and the Monral drew a harsh, gasping breath. It was too much, and he broke the contact to straighten. A chair touched the back of his legs; he dropped heavily onto it. Bertie had to live. He had to. If he would not take the blessing, then the Monral would do what he could do, even give every last bit of his own strength to save him. He could live with prolonged exhaustion. He was unsure if he could live without Bertie. Not anymore.

Bertie writhed. “I don’t want to die alone,” he rasped. “I don’t—” The last word broke off into another scream.

The Monral’s vision glazed. “You are not alone, my love,” he said, when the scream subsided into choking sobs. “And you will not die. Not while I am here.”

Bertie sighed, and his emotional landscape fell into a disorganized chaos of shallow unconsciousness. His body spasmed and twitched. Around him, the apothecaries, nurses, and aides moved rapidly about their varied tasks, but even unconscious, the pain hardly dulled, radiating from Bertie like heat from a fire. The Monral sagged in the chair, exhaustion fogging his thoughts. He had poured almost everything he had into Bertie. It was still not enough.

“You will not die while I am here,” he repeated, and ignored caution to pull what he still could through his ruling bond, pushing that through his fingers.

He tried to find more. There was nothing left. He would have to wait for the energy available to him through his ruling bond to replenish itself, but he was out of time. Bertie was out of time. Already his glow began to dim again. Tears welled up and spilled down the Monral’s cheeks. He was going to lose him. He was going to lose Bertie.

No. He gathered his remaining strength. If giving it left him unfit to rule, so be it, so long as it kept Bertie alive. If it was not enough—

He took a breath, facing the reality before him. If it was not enough, then Albert St. John Rembrandt, the Duke of New Norfolk’s unwanted youngest son, would walk into the dark surrounded by the love of Monralar.

“I am yours, my love,” the Monral whispered. “I will always be yours.”

He took a deep breath, gathering himself.

A feeling of being watched stole over him, and with it, a sense of Parania’s beloved. He paused. Laura was awake and listening, then. Or she was traveling about while her body slept. Why was she here?

Was it simply to offer comfort when Bertie—if Bertie—when—his thoughts stuttered to a halt. More tears spilled.

Then something touched the very core of his heart and soul, refreshing and replenishing, and suddenly he was alert. Energy poured in from his ruling bond as if he had yet given nothing at all. Startled hope flooded him. He drew another deep breath and directed the energy into Bertie. The dimming stopped.

From across the stronghold, he felt the smile on Laura’s face.

* * *

As dawn approached, the mood in the apothecaries’ quarters lightened with the sky. Even to the Monral’s untrained eye, as bad as Bertie looked, his color was better, pale as a summer cloud but no longer grey. Much of the pain had subsided, to the relief of everyone in the room, and though his breathing was shallow, it had settled into an even pattern. The Monral caught the head apothecary’s eye and lifted an eyebrow. She nodded.

“He is out of immediate danger,” she said. “We will do all we can to repair the damage to his body, high one, but it is extensive, and he will require many tens of days to fully recover. He could not have survived without the strength you lent him.”

Its work done, his connection to the beloved of Parania guttered like a candle flame and went out, leaving his chest aching but his body thrumming with energy. Mother of All, he thought. What power Laura had. And how much longer could her Paran hide the fact of it from those who would use or destroy her?

The Monral turned back to Bertie, whose eyes had slitted open. The whites were entirely stained red with blood. “Good morning,” he told him gently, in English.

Bertie managed a faint smile and said, in a hoarse whisper, “You sure know how to show a man a good time.”


Author Bio

Rembrandt's Station - Christie Meierz

Award-winning author Christie Meierz writes space opera and science fiction romance set on a world of empaths at the edge of a dystopic human empire. Her published works include her PRISM award-winning debut novel, The Marann, three more novels set in Tolari space, and several short stories.

She is a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA), spent 10 years raising sheep in Broome County, New York, and has been declared capable of learning Yup’ik.

Christie now lives in Rochester, NY, where she and her mathematician husband serve as full-time staff to two parlor panthers known to humans as Banichi the Assassin and Miss Myrtle the Hurricane Cat. (Their true names remain a mystery). When she’s not writing, she writes about writing on her blog, her personal Facebook page, where she welcomes comments and friend requests, and her Facebook Author Page.

Author Website: http://christiemeierz.com

Author Facebook (Personal): http://facebook.com/christie.meierz

Author Facebook (Author Page): http://facebook.com/tolarispace

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristieMeierz

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6550983.Christie_Meierz

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/29733/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Christie-Meierz/e/B009N3UB22/

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Between the Broken Stars (Broken Stars Book 4) by Chad Grayson Review

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

A mission for a young couple to find the man they need in order to complete the adoption of the woman’s younger brother leads to a journey of dangerous missions, the return of deadly enemies, and a harrowing exploration of family and love in author Chad Grayson’s “Between the Broken Stars”, the fourth book in the Broken Stars saga.

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The Synopsis

Journalist Will Corwin and Doctor Amelia Warren have been apart for a month while Will finishes building the school in honor of Father Morgan, the priest killed by hybrid alien terrorist Nod Corvus. But things get complicated when Amelia’s ex-boyfriend shows up out of the blue with an offer…he knows where Amelia’s father is—the man they need to find so that Will and Amelia can adopt Amelia’s younger brother, Jonah– but what does he want in exchange for the information? What will they be willing to give him?

Thus begins a star-spanning chapter for Will and Amelia. First, they must find Thomas Warren and serve him notice about the adoption. But what will he require in exchange for his consent? And when they return to Amara and to the village of Burden, a threat from the past reaches out to try and destroy Will once more and jeopardizes the entire building project.

There’s also the wedding of Will’s sister Natalie, and her longtime girlfriend, Jada. It’s the event of the year and will be Amelia and Jonah’s introduction to the life that awaits them as members of House Sinclair. But dark forces conspire to threaten the wedding and the lives of all who attend.

Can Will navigate the demands of his family and find a comfortable place for himself within it? Will Amelia be welcomed into the society of the Twelve Houses? Can their love survive the challenges that threaten to tear them apart? When the worst happens, who will be left standing?

Between the Sacred Stars is the book that changes everything. Life for Will and Amelia will never be the same.

The Review

This was a captivating sci-fi read. The world-building and mythos the author brings to life on the pages of this book were remarkable. While I am fairly new to the series, the author’s writing style did an amazing job of bringing galactic adventure to life, using imagery to help capture the settings of this universe with ease.

Yet to me, it was the character development and the relationships that were explored in this book that really made the story come to life. The bond that the protagonist share together and the depths that they dive into as they explore their pasts and their connections to their families made this story feel both compelling and relatable in a lot of ways. The LGBTQ characters and themes the story brings to life also made the world feel brighter and more well-rounded, making this a memorable read.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, captivating, and engaging, author Chad Grayson’s “Between the Broken Stars” is a stellar sci-fi and romance read and a great addition to the Broken Stars series. The twists and turns in the narrative and the rich character dynamics will keep readers eager to read more of this author’s incredible series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Between the Sacred Stars - Chad Grayson

Chad Grayson has a new space opera romance out, Broken Stars book 4: Between the Sacred Stars. And there’s a giveaway.

Everything Changes

Journalist Will Corwin and Doctor Amelia Warren have been apart for a month, while Will finishes building the school in honor of Father Morgan, the priest killed by hybrid alien terrorist Nod Corvus. But things get complicated when Amelia’s ex-boyfriend shows up out of the blue with an offer…he knows where Amelia’s father is—the man they need to find so that Will and Amelia can adopt Amelia’s younger brother, Jonah– but what does he want in exchange for the information? What will they be willing to give him?

Thus begins a star-spanning chapter for Will and Amelia. First, they must find Thomas Warren, and serve him notice about the adoption. But what will he require in exchange for his consent? And when they return to Amara, and to the village of Burden, a threat from the past reaches out to try and destroy Will once more and jeopardizes the entire building project. There’s also the wedding of Will’s sister Natalie, and her longtime girlfriend, Jada. It’s the event of the year and will be Amelia and Jonah’s introduction to the life that awaits them as members of House Sinclair. But dark forces conspire to threaten the wedding, and the lives of all who attend.

Can Will navigate the demands of his family, and find a comfortable place for himself within it? Will Amelia be welcomed into the society of the Twelve Houses? Can their love survive the challenges that threaten to tear them apart? When the worst happens, who will be left standing?

Between the Sacred Stars is the book that changes everything. Life for Will and Amelia will never be the same.

Warning: steamy.

Get It On Amazon


Giveaway

One person will win all three of the previous titles in the “Broken Stars” series in paperback.

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Excerpt

Will brought his cameras back from where they had been swooping over the chanting crowd and focused them on the line of police. If this was going to get out of hand, it would probably start with them. They were coming back down the steps now, approaching the crowd. At first, they seemed content to watch and wait. But even Will had to admit the crowd was getting to be too much to handle. Hundreds of people were approaching the CMPD, some shouting at them.

They tensed, forming their line, holding it. The crowd vented itself, then people started walking away. Elsewhere in the plaza, Will could hear shouting. Fights were breaking out, but Will had no sense of what the cause was or how many were involved. Probably just drunk people with no focused outlet, taking out their malfunctions on the passersby.

Will returned his attention to the police. They were standing, looking ready to pounce at the first sign of a threat. Someone, threw a bottle. It shattered against one of the police shields. The cops looked at each other, and apparently, this had been all the signal they needed. They pressed forward, into the crowd, pushing with their shields, batons out, smashing the heads of the people closest to them. Some in the crowd started to scream and run the other way, others surged forward. But the cops were angry now, and they were giving no quarter. Will filmed as they fought the crowd, spilling blood, knocking people to the ground and roughly stepping over them.

One of them suddenly saw Will standing there. Hal took a defensive position in front of him, but Will pushed him back. “Whatever you do,” Will said, “don’t draw your weapon. They will shoot both of us.”

Hal took his advice as the nearest police officer leaned into Will, pointing at his cameras.

“You filming this?” he snarled.

As calmly as he could, Will said, “I’m Will Corwin, with INA, and yes, I am filming this.”

“Turn your cameras off!” The police officer shouted into his face.

“Sorry, I don’t think I will,” Will said. Hal was getting in front of him now, sensing something was about to happen. The cop surged forward, around Hal, and grabbed Will by the arm, yanking him forward. Will dropped the compad in his hand, and the officer grabbed it, throwing it as hard as he could at the stone of the plaza, then finishing the work by bashing it into pieces with his baton.

Will didn’t tell him the footage had already been backed up on INA’s servers. But the cop wasn’t done. He threw Will to the ground, and a couple of his fellows joined him, kicking at Will, their batons raining blows down around his head and shoulders.

Hal threw himself on top of Will now, his arms up, taking the blows for him. But the officers did not let up; they kept hitting Hal and Will. As Hal brought his right arm up to block the blows, Will heard a sickening crack. Hal cried out and dropped his arm. The cops surrounded them now, four of them. They hauled Will to his feet, grabbed hold of Hal, and marched both of them out of the plaza. The pain in his head was so intense that Will thought he might lose consciousness. He tried to keep track of Hal, but his vision was blurry with pain and blood.

The demonstration had devolved into a full-on riot. Will stumbled as the cops led him and Hal away, tossing them in the back of a police wagon, along with several others. Hal’s face was white with pain, his breath coming in ragged pants.

“How badly are you hurt?” Will asked as the wagon filled with prisoners, pushing Will and Hal farther into the back.

“Not sure, but I’ve been better, got to admit,” Hal said, through gritted teeth.

As the wagon filled up, the doors closed behind them, submerging them in darkness. Will leaned close to Hal to whisper, “Sorry I got you into this.”

“You were doing your job,” Hal said. “I’m doing mine.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure we’re being arrested. You have your compad?”

“It’s busted.”

“So, we’ll have to hope they give us a phone call, so I can call Hana and get our lawyers on this.”

The police wagon was moving now, launching itself over the curbs to instead travel on the wide sidewalks. Will settled back in his seat, trying to concentrate on something besides the pain in his head and the sound of Hal’s ragged breathing in his ear.


Author Bio

Chad Grayson has worked as a phone service rep for various tech companies, a gas station attendant, a middle school language arts and history teacher, and even spent one night cutting the mold off the cheese at the cheese factory.

He currently works part time at the local library, and spends the rest of his time writing, reading, hiking, gaming, painting miniatures, and binge-watching Netflix. His superpowers are procrastination and dyscalculia.

He lives near his children in Cottonwood, California, with an assortment of pets including a very bossy cat. He is an associate member of SFWA. You can find him online at chadgrayson.com, on twitter as @chadgrayson, and on tumblr as @therandomavenger.

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

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/ChadGraysonAuthor

Author Twitter: https://wwwtwitter.com/chadgrayson

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Chad-Grayson/e/B091NN68F6

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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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A King Ascends (The Tyrea Trilogy Book One) by Jane Mckay Review

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

A man stolen away from his home planet must fight to rescue both his family and his world from a grueling threat and fight a villain for the right to rule his world in author Jane Mckay’s “A King Ascends”, the first book in The Tyrea Trilogy.

The Synopsis

A thrilling science fiction story of good and evil.

The sentient planet, Tyrea, is in danger. Unaware of the problem, Jon Tor is happy in doing work that he loves but knows something terrible has happened on his home planet when he is kidnapped, injured, and flees for his life. He desperately needs to save not only his family but his entire planet. Friends, on and off the planet, gather to help him survive the struggle to get home in time. He is facing an additional problem because he needs to survive long enough in order to put himself into the hands of his enemy. The two men must come together to battle for the right to rule.

Who will outwit the other and win?

The Review

This was a powerful and thrilling dystopian sci-fi novel. The author did an incredible job of diving head-first into the narrative’s action and showcasing the rich and diverse cast of characters and world-building the author. The tension the author infused into the story and the heavy atmosphere that builds as the weight of this planetary threat makes itself known was greatly felt in this story.

Yet it was the engaging character development and mythology the author built, along with a moving series of themes, that made this story feel alive on the page. The protagonist’s tale of tragedy and overcoming hardships was both relatable and inspiring, and the natural way in which the world around him adapts and engages with the advanced tech and multiple alien species was great to see. The emotional weight of the protagonist’s story and the themes of loss, love, and the grieving process overall made this a masterful sci-fi adventure.

The Verdict

Memorable, adrenaline-fueled, and entertaining, author Jane Mckay’s “A King Ascends” is a must-read sci-fi and dystopian epic, and the perfect opening story in the growing The Tyrea Trilogy series. The twists and turns this narrative takes and the action-packed adventure the protagonist finds himself on against the sinister villain keep the reader invested until the book’s final pages. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jane McKay is a graduate of Ohio State University with a BA in Geography. She loves her field because it touches on all the other sciences and allows her imagination to soar with lots of ‘what if’ questions. All her life she has wondered about the world outside her door. Credit through has to be given to her family who have kept her firmly grounded on this home planet. That’s okay, it only causes her to dream more. The best hope she has is to gather new friends to share her dreams.

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