Tag Archives: science fiction thriller

Trashlands by Alison Stine Review

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

A mother struggling to save enough money to rescue her child finds an opportunity to change her and her child’s life through her art in the sci-fi dystopian thriller, “Trashlands” by author Alison Stine. 

The Synopsis

A resonant, visionary novel about the power of art and the sacrifices we are willing to make for the ones we love

A few generations from now, the coastlines of the continent have been redrawn by floods and tides. Global powers have agreed to not produce any new plastics, and what is left has become valuable: garbage is currency.

In the region-wide junkyard that Appalachia has become, Coral is a “plucker,” pulling plastic from the rivers and woods. She’s stuck in Trashlands, a dump named for the strip club at its edge, where the local women dance for an endless loop of strangers and the club’s violent owner rules as unofficial mayor.

Amid the polluted landscape, Coral works desperately to save up enough to rescue her child from the recycling factories, where he is forced to work. In her stolen free hours, she does something that seems impossible in this place: Coral makes art.

When a reporter from a struggling city on the coast arrives in Trashlands, Coral is presented with an opportunity to change her life. But is it possible to choose a future for herself?

Told in shifting perspectives, Trashlands is a beautifully drawn and wildly imaginative tale of a parent’s journey, a story of community and humanity in a changing world.

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The Review

Captivating and thought-provoking, author Alison Stine shines brightly in this emotional and relevant eco-thriller/sci-fi dystopian read. The novel’s brilliance comes through early on in the use of shifting perspectives, allowing readers not only to see how this dystopian world evolved and grew but allowing them to see how the bonds between these characters formed and how they came to be who they are. The chilling atmosphere comes not from some horrendous mutant beast or alien invasion, but the horrors humanity inflicts on our own planet, forcing the Earth to reshape its landscapes and forcing good people to do whatever it takes to survive.

The character arcs in this narrative are the true heart of this book. The various perspectives we have to allow the reader to see the balance Coral must find in not only surviving for herself but in finding the means to save her son, taken years ago from her to work in a factory. Her ability to find beauty and the means to create art for others while still putting herself through perilous work to earn the means of leaving everything behind and saving her son showcases mankind’s ability to persevere in the face of adversity and find hope in the darkness that surrounds us, a message that rings true for so many people. 

The Verdict

An engaging, emotionally-driven, and thematically important read, author Alison Stine’s “Trashlands” is a must-read novel of 2021! The perfect story of survival, hope, and finding beauty in the most troublesome of times, this story will take readers on a roller-coaster of emotions and showcase a depth of world-building that readers will come to love from this eco-thriller. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Alison Stine is an award-winning poet and author. Recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and an Ohio Arts Council grant, she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and received the Studs Terkel Award for Media and Journalism. She works as a freelance reporter with The New York Times, writes for The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, 100 Days in Appalachia, ELLE, The Kenyon Review, and others, and has been astoryteller on The Moth. After living in Appalachian Ohio for many years, she now lives and writes in Colorado with her partner, her son, and a small orange cat.

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Q&A with Author Alison Stine

1.      Give us an out of context quote from your book to warm our hearts.

“People had thought there would be no more time, but there was. Just different time. Time moving slower. Time after disaster, when they still had to live.” 

2.      What’s the last book you read that inspired you? 

Lily Cole’s Who Cares Wins: Reasons for Optimism in a Changed World. I’m quoted in the book, which is how we met. She had me on her podcast. It’s a book of ideas and hope for sustainability and environmental action. And it inspires me that she is able to leverage her platform as an actor and model to try to do good in the world. This world really wants you to be just one thing, and she resists that, and converts the attention into calls for action.

3.      Name one song or artist that gets you fired up.

Lana Del Rey’s “Swan Song.” It has a slow build, dark and intense, like I hope my work is. I don’t listen to music with lyrics when I draft, but I listen to the same song over and over again when I revise. That song becomes the heartbeat of the book. And “Swan Song” was one of the heartbeats of Trashlands.

4.      How do you find readers in today’s market?

There’s only so much a writer can control. I do everything in my control–post on social media, do events, publish essays–but at the end of the day, my job as a writer too is to tell the best story I can, to the best of my ability, in the time I’m given. What happens after that is a function of money and attention and decisions that don’t include me. As a disabled writer, it’s especially hard– nobody does year-end best lists about us. I try to remember that the writers I most admire–Octavia Butler, Angela Carter–wrote a ton. They just kept writing. I have to just keep writing, keeping going, too. 

5.      Do you come up with the hook first, or do you create characters first and then dig through until you find a hook?

Every book is different and every book teaches you how to write it. For me, trying to be analytical about things like plot or meaning doesn’t work. If I have a story I can’t let go of, something I dreamed, or something that keeps coming back to me, I listen to it. Often a character speaks first.

6.      Coffee or tea?

Definitely coffee. I’m a lightweight, so I try to limit myself to one cup a day.

7.       How do you create your characters?

One thing that I think is missing from some contemporary literary fiction is work. As someone from a working-class background, what characters do for money, how they feed themselves and live, is important to me, and can define character. Often what you want to do is different than what you have to do. I try to make it very clear how my characters support themselves, which can be a big part of characterization and plot–like in Trashlands, where several major characters work at a strip club at the end of the world– but also, what are their larger wishes? What are their unfulfilled dreams? What do they regret? 

8.      Who would be your dream cast if TRASHLANDS became a movie?

Lana Del Rey as Foxglove, Erin Kellyman as Coral, Eric Roberts as Trillium, MJ Rodriguez as Summer, and the late John Dunsworth as Mr. Fall. 

9.      If you could grab lunch with a literary character who would it be?

Jet from Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic series. I just read The Book of Magic, which reminded me how much I love Hoffman’s characters and that world. We all need an aunt in our lives who’s a witch, someone who’s both no nonsense and a lot of nonsense–and who serves cake for breakfast. (It just occurred to me that I may be turning into that kind of witch myself.) We need someone to remind us of our own personal magic. 

10.  What are you currently reading?

Township, a collection of stories by fellow Ohioan Jamie Lyn Smith, which is slated to be published this December. 

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Here is an Exclusive Excerpt From “Trashlands”

1

Early coralroot

Corallorhiza trifida

Coral was pregnant then. She hid it well in a dress she had found in the road, sun-bleached and mud-dotted, only a little ripped. The dress billowed to her knees, over the tops of her boots. She was named for the wildflower which hadn’t been seen since before her birth, and for ocean life, poisoned and gone. It was too dangerous to go to the beach anymore. You never knew when storms might come.

Though they were going—to get a whale.

A boy had come from up north with a rumor: a whale had beached. Far off its course, but everything was off by then: the waterways, the paths to the ocean, its salt. You went where you had to go, where weather and work and family—but mostly weather—took you.

The villagers around Lake Erie were carving the creature up, taking all the good meat and fat. The strainer in its mouth could be used for bows, the bones in its chest for tent poles or greenhouse beams.

It was a lot of fuel for maybe nothing, a rumor spun by an out-of-breath boy. But there would be pickings along the road. And there was still gas, expensive but available. So the group went, led by Mr. Fall. They brought kayaks, lashed to the top of the bus, but in the end, the water was shallow enough they could wade.

They knew where to go because they could smell it. You got used to a lot of smells in the world: rotten food, chemicals, even shit. But death… Death was hard to get used to.

“Masks up,” Mr. Fall said.

Some of the men in the group—all men except Coral—had respirators, painter’s masks, or medical masks. Coral had a handkerchief of faded blue paisley, knotted around her neck. She pulled it up over her nose. She had dotted it with lavender oil from a vial, carefully tipping out the little she had left. She breathed shallowly through fabric and flowers. Mr. Fall just had a T-shirt, wound around his face. He could have gotten a better mask, Coral knew, but he was leading the crew. He saved the good things for the others.

She was the only girl on the trip, and probably the youngest person. Maybe fifteen, she thought. Months ago, she had lain in the icehouse with her teacher, a man who would not stay. He was old enough to have an old-fashioned name, Robert, to be called after people who had lived and died as they should. Old enough to know better, Mr. Fall had said, but what was better, anymore?

Everything was temporary. Robert touched her in the straw, the ice blocks sweltering around them. He let himself want her, or pretend to, for a few hours. She tried not to miss him. His hands that shook at her buttons would shake in a fire or in a swell of floodwater. Or maybe violence had killed him.

She remembered it felt cool in the icehouse, a relief from the outside where heat beat down. The last of the chillers sputtered out chemicals. The heat stayed trapped in people’s shelters, like ghosts circling the ceiling. Heat haunted. It would never leave.

News would stop for long stretches. The information that reached Scrappalachia would be written hastily on damp paper, across every scrawled inch. It was always old news.

The whale would be picked over by the time they reached it.

Mr. Fall led a practiced team. They would not bother Coral, were trained not to mess with anything except the mission. They parked the bus in an old lot, then descended through weeds to the beach. The stairs had washed away. And the beach, when they reached it, was not covered with dirt or rock as Coral had expected, but with a fine yellow grit so bright it hurt to look at, a blankness stretching on.

“Take off your boots,” Mr. Fall said.

Coral looked at him, but the others were listening, knot-ting plastic laces around their necks, stuffing socks into pockets.

“Go on, Coral. It’s all right.” Mr. Fall’s voice was gentle, muffled by the shirt.

Coral had her job to do. Only Mr. Fall and the midwife knew for sure she was pregnant, though others were talking. She knew how to move so that no one could see.

But maybe, she thought as she leaned on a fence post and popped off her boot, she wanted people to see. To tell her what to do, how to handle it. Help her. He had to have died, Robert—and that was the reason he didn’t come back for her. Or maybe he didn’t know about the baby?

People had thought there would be no more time, but there was. Just different time. Time moving slower. Time after disaster, when they still had to live.

She set her foot down on the yellow surface. It was warm. She shot a look at Mr. Fall.

The surface felt smooth, shifting beneath her toes. Coral slid her foot across, light and slightly painful. It was the first time she had felt sand.

The sand on the beach made only a thin layer. People had started to take it. Already, people knew sand, like everything, could be valuable, could be sold.

Coral took off her other boot. She didn’t have laces, to tie around her neck. She carried the boots under her arm. Sand clung to her, pebbles jabbing at her feet. Much of the trash on the beach had been picked through. What was left was diapers and food wrappers and cigarettes smoked down to filters.

“Watch yourselves,” Mr. Fall said.

Down the beach they followed the smell. It led them on, the sweet rot scent. They came around a rock outcropping, and there was the whale, massive as a ship run aground: red, purple, and white. The colors seemed not real. Birds were on it, the black birds of death. The enemies of scavengers, their competition. Two of the men ran forward, waving their arms and whooping to scare off the birds.

“All right everybody,” Mr. Fall said to the others. “You know what to look for.”

Except they didn’t. Not really. Animals weren’t their specialty.

Plastic was.

People had taken axes to the carcass, to carve off meat. More desperate people had taken spoons, whatever they could use to get at something to take home for candle wax or heating fuel, or to barter or beg for something else, something better.

“You ever seen a whale?” one of the men, New Orleans, asked Coral.

She shook her head. “No.”

“This isn’t a whale,” Mr. Fall said. “Not anymore. Keep your masks on.”

They approached it. The carcass sunk into the sand. Coral tried not to breathe deeply. Flesh draped from the bones of the whale. The bones were arched, soaring like buttresses, things that made up cathedrals—things she had read about in the book.

Bracing his arm over his mouth, Mr. Fall began to pry at the ribs. They were big and strong. They made a cracking sound, like a splitting tree.

New Orleans gagged and fell back.

Other men were dropping. Coral heard someone vomiting into the sand. The smell was so strong it filled her head and chest like a sound, a high ringing. She moved closer to give her feet something to do. She stood in front of the whale and looked into its gaping mouth.

There was something in the whale.

Something deep in its throat.

In one pocket she carried a knife always, and in the other she had a light: a precious flashlight that cast a weak beam. She switched it on and swept it over the whale’s tongue, picked black by the birds.

She saw a mass, opaque and shimmering, wide enough it blocked the whale’s throat. The whale had probably died of it, this blockage. The mass looked lumpy, twined with seaweed and muck, but in the mess, she could make out a water bottle.

It was plastic. Plastic in the animal’s mouth. It sparked in the beam of her flashlight.

Coral stepped into the whale.

Excerpted from Trashlands by Alison Stine, Copyright © 2021 by Alison Stine. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Into the Violet Gardens by Issac Nasri Review

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

Social mistrust and tensions rise after a government operated cyborg cripples the cartel controlling Latin America in the future, and soon a cyborg and a CIA operative find themselves caught in the middle of an impending battle between humanity and the cyborgs they built and then rejected in author Issac Nasri’s “Into the Violet Gardens”.

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The Synopsis

The year is 2024. A ruthless cartel dominates Latin America, and the FBI’s Troy Levi gets commissioned to intervene. A cyborg for the bureau’s Virtual Division, Levi delivers a devastating blow to the cartel’s power but encounters a wave of social resentment in the aftermath.

As the people’s feelings for cyborgs grow bitter, former black-op cyborg ally and CIA operative Soriana Salazar finds herself caught between sides. Eliminating the cartel destabilized the region, fueling anti-cyborg sentiments in neighboring countries and afar. But tough decisions await Salazar after civil unrest forces the agency to sever all cyborgs ties. And that’s only the beginning…

Betrayed by the government, hated by the people, a vengeful league of cyborgs spawns a sinister scheme of liberation. And While Levi searches for Solace amid the turmoil and Salazar seeks balance, both will have to take a grave stand if they hope to stall the impending chaos. 

The Review

This is a well-balanced sci-fi and action read. The author does a great job of weaving important political and social themes into the narrative, crafting a thought-provoking read that engages the reader while also entertaining them with high-octane action and shocking twists that will keep the adrenaline pumping in their heart. 

The emotion that the author found within the character growth of this narrative was both surprising and welcomed. The story that revolves around cyborgs and heavy sci-fi themes does a marvelous job of implementing the human element into the story and showcases the good and bad that both humanity and technology can house, as well as the often fearful state that humanity finds itself in when dealing with any sort of advanced technology and life beyond our own. 

The Verdict

A memorable, action-packed, and thought-provoking sci-fi thriller, author Issac Nasri’s “Into the Violet Gardens” is a must-read novel. The emotional bonds the protagonists make not only with each other but the supporting cast is great to see, and brings a real sense of heartbreak and hope to the book’s finale that will leave readers wanting more. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!


Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Isaac Nasri is a self-published author. He grew up in Washington DC and graduated in May of 2017 from the University of Maryland, College Park with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. His stories focus on offering allusion to recent events happening in contemporary society and how they affect his characters.

Heart of the Scrapdog is his self-published work that was released in 2020.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20806995.Isaac_Nasri

Gaslight Paradise by Walrus Review

Three people discover how far they would go to live forever as they discover the sinister motivations behind an innocent seeming party in author Walrus’s “Gaslight Paradise”.

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The Synopsis

What would you do to live forever? Three very different people contemplate this question after it is posed to them at a lavish party where everything is more sinister than it seems.

The Review

This was the perfect fusion of otherworldly fantasy, historically-driven sci-fi, and old-time mystery thriller horror stories all in one delicious literary bite. The authors known as Walrus have perfectly captured both a humorous tone amongst the cast of characters and their interactions with one another and a haunting note of terror in the spine-chilling behavior of the “party hosts”. 

The mystery of the doors that take the trio of protagonists to this “party” is inviting and entertaining, to say the least. The author’s ability to translate fantasy, horror, and sci-fi in a mature and adult way was great to see, as so many stories delve into the YA world for these genres that getting a more adult turn in this genre was a breath of fresh air. 

The Verdict

A heart-pounding, chilling, and engaging sci-fi and fantasy read, authors Walrus and their book, “Gaslight Paradise” is a must-read novel. The story is invigorating and does a great job of adding a new twist on the class thriller-mystery genre. The shocking revelation of this party’s origin will stay with readers long after the book’s end, and the cliffhanger of an ending is open-ended enough for fans to want more but mysterious enough to be a brilliant conclusion as well. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Walrus was once believed to be an urban legend. Very little is known other than Walrus is said to sleep very little, eat very much, and write far more than is healthy for the normal mind.

To bestow a great story on the world is Walrus’ only wish.

https://mindofwalrus.weebly.com/

Power Challenges (Jake Ross #4) by Ben Bova Review

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

Space Advisor Jake Ross takes on the challenge of his life when he decides to send humanity out to the stars and put America back on the map by establishing a permanent moon base in author Ben Bova’s final novel, “Power Challenges”, the fourth book in the Jake Ross series. 

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The Synopsis

Sadly, this is the last book Ben Bova left us before his untimely death due to COVID-19 related causes on November 29, 2020.

“Far-thinking ideas and the characters’ determination to grab the last hope are characteristic. Fans won’t want to miss this coda to Bova’s prolific literary life.”―Publishers Weekly

It is time to start the colonizing the solar system. Ex-astronaut, current space advisor, and all-out trouble shooter for the President, Jake Ross, is determined to make it happen.

And what better way to return to America’s glory than by returning to the moon and setting up a permanent moon-base which can then serve as the launching pad for Mars and beyond.

But as usual, political intrigue and conflicting priorities are threatening the whole program. Add to that a President who is about to die, a strong contingent in the legislative body which thinks that money spent on a moon-base is money wasted and the general apathy of the public, and you have an almost impossible task.

Even NASA, natural enthusiasts of a project like this, are dragging their feet because they have lost control of the top spot in the project.

However, none of those opposing forces have contended with the resolve and the skill of Jake Ross. He will create the base on the moon. He will send humans out to many worlds.

The Review

While it is heartbreaking to lose a truly powerful voice within the science fiction community, this final novel from the author is the perfect example of why Ben Bova always had one hand on the pulse of this exhilarating genre. For the majority of this novel, the author took great detail in outlining the politics and struggles that someone trying to build a permanent presence in space would face in the future. From the divide in party lines in the United States to the economic and ecological struggles that would occur and so much more, this novel does an excellent job of creating not only a realistic setting but a perfect tone that highlights the real hurdles once may face in future space exploration and colonization.

The pacing of the novel was engaging, to say the least, slowly building the political thriller aspect of this sci-fi novel. The novel is perfect for both new and returning fans of this series, as newcomers like myself get the opportunity to get to know the protagonist and the supporting characters perfectly, while longtime fans will be thrilled to see the evolution of the protagonist as the story progresses. The balance of the story’s narrative with the incredible and realistic character development made this heavy sci-fi read truly memorable. 

The Verdict

Entertaining, thought-provoking, and incredibly detailed, author Ben Bova’s “Power Challenges” is the perfect sci-fi read and an incredible final chapter in a great sci-fi author’s journey. With a shocking political betrayal and the epic battle that will determine the fate of a nation, the author shocks readers and creates a memorable end to this series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Ben Bova was born on November 8, 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1953, while attending Temple University, he married Rosa Cucinotta, they had a son and a daughter. He would later divorce Rosa in 1974. In that same year he married Barbara Berson Rose.

Bova is an avid fencer and organized Avco Everett’s fencing club. He is an environmentalist, but rejects Luddism.

Bova was a technical writer for Project Vanguard and later for Avco Everett in the 1960s when they did research in lasers and fluid dynamics. It was there that he met Arthur R. Kantrowitz later of the Foresight Institute.

In 1971 he became editor of Analog Science Fiction after John W. Campbell’s death. After leaving Analog, he went on to edit Omni during 1978-1982.

In 1974 he wrote the screenplay for an episode of the children’s science fiction television series Land of the Lost entitled “The Search”.

Bova was the science advisor for the failed television series The Starlost, leaving in disgust after the airing of the first episode. His novel The Starcrossed was loosely based on his experiences and featured a thinly veiled characterization of his friend and colleague Harlan Ellison. He dedicated the novel to “Cordwainer Bird”, the pen name Harlan Ellison uses when he does not want to be associated with a television or film project.

Bova is the President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past President of Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

Bova went back to school in the 1980s, earning an M.A. in communications in 1987 and a Ph.D. in 1996.

Bova has drawn on these meetings and experiences to create fact and fiction writings rich with references to spaceflight, lasers, artificial hearts, nanotechnology, environmentalism, fencing and martial arts, photography and artists.

Bova is the author of over a hundred and fifteen books, non-fiction as well as science fiction. In 2000, he was the Author Guest of Honor at the 58th World Science Fiction Convention (Chicon 2000).

Hollywood has started to take an interest in Bova’s works once again, in addition to his wealth of knowledge about science and what the future may look like. In 2007, he was hired as a consultant by both Stuber/Parent Productions to provide insight into what the world is to look like in the near future for their upcoming film “Repossession Mambo” (released as “Repo Men”) starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker and by Silver Pictures in which he provided consulting services on the feature adaptation of Richard Morgan’s “Altered Carbon”.

http://us.macmillan.com/author/benbova

http://benbova.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ben-bova

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

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

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

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The Synopsis

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

The Review

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

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

The Verdict

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

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

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

Déjà Doomed by Edward M. Lerner Review

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

The discovery of an alien installation underneath the lunar surface leads both the American and Russian moon teams on a race against time to unearth the secrets hidden under the moon’s surface, but neither realize the ancient evil they are set to awaken in author Edward M. Lerner’s “Déjà Doomed”. 

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The Synopsis

On the Moon’s far side, shielded from Earth’s radio cacophony, Americans are building a radio-astronomy observatory. Russians sift the dust of a lunar “sea” for helium-3 to run future fusion reactors. Commercial robots, remotely operated from Earth, roam the Moon’s near side in a hunt for mineral wealth. Why chase distant asteroids for precious metals? Onetime asteroids must lie close beneath the much-bombarded lunar surface.

Then a prospecting robot encounters a desiccated, spacesuited figure. An alien figure ….

Americans from the lunar observatory investigate. Near the original find, underground, they discover an alien installation. Lunar Russians, realizing that the Americans are up to something clandestine, send their own small team. Each group distrusts the other … even before the fatal “accidents” begin. By the time anyone suspects what ancient evil they have awakened, it may be too late―

For everyone on Earth, too. 

The Review

This was a fantastic blend of Cold War-era espionage and thriller storytelling with a twist of sci-fi and fantasy that readers of both genres will love. The pacing and atmosphere are apparent within the book’s first chapters, highlighting the awe-inspiring nature of exploring space while also highlighting the isolation and tension surrounding the pioneer of space exploration. 

What really stands out to readers is the incredible attention to detail that hardcore sci-fi fans will absolutely love. The story is rife with haunting atmospheres and engaging characters as the two teams of explorers highlight the growing tension between the nations they represent. The attention to detail the author shows even with the technology that the teams use to navigate and survive on the lunar surface is incredible to behold and delves into the sci-fi genre at full throttle.

The Verdict

A gripping, entertaining, and thought-provoking sci-fi thriller, author Edward M. Lerner’s “Déjà Doomed” is a must-read novel of 2021. A fantastic blend of character growth and haunting atmospheric storytelling, the pacing of the story and the tension that mounts not only in the teams as they search for what remains hidden but the suspense and action that takes place really elevates the story and highlights how powerful of a writer the author is. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

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About the Author

I’m a physicist and computer scientist (among other things). After thirty years in industry, working at every level from individual technical contributor to senior vice president, I now write full-time. Mostly I write science fiction and techno-thrillers, now and again throwing in a straight science or technology article.

https://www.facebook.com/EdwardMLerner/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/edward-m-lerner

Unknown 9: Revelation: Book Two of the Genesis Trilogy by Layton Green Review

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

A astrophysics PhD candidate and an investigative journalist must go on yet another globe-trotting adventure filled with ancient history, secretive societies at war with one another, and mind-blowing physics and technology in author Layton Green’s “Unknown 9: Revelation”, the second book in the Genesis Trilogy.

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The Synopsis

The mystery, intrigue, and globetrotting suspense continue in this second installment of the Unknown 9: Genesis trilogy.

After escaping from a watery dungeon in Venice, astrophysics PhD candidate Andromeda “Andie” Robertson and investigative reporter Cal Miller are whisked to Bologna by a member of the mysterious Leap Year Society. A deadly confrontation with the Society’s bitter rivals, the Ascendants, sends Andie and Cal on the run once again, desperate to solve the Star Phone puzzle so they can reclaim their lives and rescue their loved ones.

Brilliantly juxtaposing a modern-day thriller with a historical search for a missing physicist, REVELATION probes ever deeper into the mounting mysteries surrounding Andie and her past.

What is the source of her strange hallucinations?

What are the true origins of the Leap Year Society and the Ascendants?

How are her mother and her mentor, Dr. James Corwin, involved?

From Italy to India and New York to Buenos Aires, Andie and Cal risk their lives to probe a secret world hidden in plain sight, drawing closer to answers that will determine not only their own fates, but who controls a new frontier of knowledge.

From the author of the bestselling Dominic Grey novels, Genesis is a mind-bending thriller about how far two people will go for answers, and to save the ones they love. 

The Review

Much like in his first book in this series, (and in every book I’ve read from this amazing author), this second entry into the multi-media series does an amazing job of crafting the perfect pace for this narrative. The air of mystery and suspense that comes from this cat and mouse game both in the past and the present is fantastic to read, while the author’s writing style definitely invokes a cinematic quality to it. 

The layered approach to the narrative the author takes creates a truly tense and mysterious atmosphere within the novel, and the character growth develops a rich plot that spans the entire globe and beyond. The style of this narrative and its overall contribution to the multi-media series makes this novel even more engaging, as it creates a mythology that not only readers can get lost in, but evokes nostalgia for fans of properties like Assassin’s Creed, The X-Files, and The Da Vinci Code. 

The Verdict

An engaging, entertaining, and highly action-packed thriller and sci-fi novel, author Layton Green’s “Unknown 9: Revelation” is a must-read novel of 2021. The story is intense and has a steady progression for both the narrative and characters that readers won’t be able to get enough of. By the book’s end, the shocking revelation of the mysterious “Archon” will have readers floored and eager to learn more about the next chapter in this series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Layton Green writes in multiple genres and is the author of the upcoming Genesis Trilogy, the Dominic Grey series, the Blackwood Saga, and other works of fiction. Layton’s work has been nominated for multiple awards (including a two-time finalist for an International Thriller Writers award), optioned for film, and has reached #1 on numerous genre lists in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The Shadow Cartel was a #2 overall bestseller on Amazon UK.

In addition to writing, Layton attended law school in New Orleans and was a practicing attorney for ten very long years. He has also been an intern for the United Nations, an ESL teacher in Central America, a bartender in London, a seller of cheap knives on the streets of Brixton, a door to door phone book deliverer in Florida, and the list goes downhill from there.

Layton lives with his family in North Carolina. You can visit him on Facebook, Goodreads, or on his website (www.laytongreen.com).

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08TKSRV32/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F56154938-unknown-9&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Interview with Author V.S. Holmes

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve always been a storyteller and a story-finder. Growing up in the woods without other kids drove me to constantly search for other’s stories, other’s lives, specifically through fiction and imagination. This progressed naturally into writing and my day job as an archaeologist. It was in university that, after years of research, I first decided to take the plunge and write professionally. 

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Travelers, the first in my Stars Edge: Nel Bently Books, began as a dual POV between an archaeologist and one of the people whose life she was studying from 13,000 years before. I realized pretty quickly that the latter was not my story to tell, so I flipped it forward and explored what would happen if some of those people were abducted and returned thousands of years later. I also wanted to debunk the racist ideas behind “ancient aliens” theories while still combining science fiction and archaeology. On a larger scale, all of Nel’s stories explore the ideas about how where we come from impacts where we’re going, and decolonizing archaeology and science. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Heretics is the fourth in Nel’s series of adventures, and with this one Nel returns to Earth in an attempt to save her planet from killer sound waves. She’s suddenly straddling the line between coming home and being a fish out of water. It’s the place that made her, but now she no longer fits in the space she left. A lot of my work focuses on how we differ from others’ expectations–and often our own. This is a theme that’s very dear to me as a queer person. On a more intimate level, I hope readers can learn with Nel as she finds the root of her anger, and navigates her complicated relationship with Lin. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Sci-fi and fantasy were the first places I saw characters like me, so I naturally gravitated toward that when I started writing my own work. Speculative fiction for me has always been a place of solace and hope. When we’re creating worlds from the ground up, we’re able to envision a world we want, or a world we’re afraid of ours becoming. Because of this, I can create worlds where I see more people like myself, and fight the battles I can’t fight in our own world.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Oh this is tough! I’d imagine most of them would have some pretty damning comments to make about what I put them through. Ultimately, though, I’d love to have a nice long chat with Phil–Philos, one of the sentient computers rooted in a man’s head held in stasis. I think it would be fascinating to discuss the science and ethics behind becoming a computer. As a trans and disabled person, conversations around body modification, cyborgization, and transhumanism are really fascinating.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Twitter has, hands-down, been the best site for me. Though it does suffer from some of the same algorithmic issues as other social sites, it’s still easier to curate than many others. Through Twitter I’ve found not just an incredible community of fellow SFF authors, but one of the most welcoming places for queer and disabled people, especially since I don’t have access to those communities, or the freedom of being fully out, where we live.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

There’s a lot of writing advice out there, but the process is going to be different for every author, and honestly every project. I think it’s important to try a lot of different things and find what works best for you and what you’re currently working on. One of the pieces I wish I’d realized earlier is finding out who you are as a writer, as a creator, and then doing it on purpose. And not being afraid of that changing. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

So many projects! I’m currently drafting Fugitives, the fifth of Nel’s books (there will be a total of six) and outlining/drafting my next fantasy series. It takes place within my Blood of Titans world, but follows some new and side characters. 

I’m also working on a complicated, queer, gothic fantasy that might just be the darkest, sexiest, most raw thing I’ve written to date. Regardless, it’s a bit different from most of my other work and I’m enjoying stretching my creative muscles!

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About V. S. HOLMES

V. S. Holmes is an international bestselling author. They created the BLOOD OF TITANS series and the NEL BENTLY BOOKS. Smoke and Rain, the first book in their fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary’s Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015 and a Literary Titan Gold in 2020. Travelers is also included in the Peregrine Moon Lander mission as part of the Writers on the Moon Time Capsule. In addition, they have published short fiction in several anthologies.

As a disabled and non-binary human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds. When not writing, they work as a contract archaeologist throughout the northeastern U.S. They live in a Tiny House with their spouse, a fellow archaeologist, their not-so-tiny dog, and own too many books for such a small abode.

LINKS:

Site: www.vsholmes.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VS_Holmes

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorvsholmes/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vs_holmes/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/vs-holmes

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/v-s-holmes

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

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

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

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The Synopsis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Review

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

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

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

The Verdict

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

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

Twitter: johncadamssf