I’ve been itching to get my fix for a well-thought out, fast-moving technothriller for a while now. So when the opportunity presented itself for me toI’ve been itching to get my fix for a well-thought out, fast-moving technothriller for a while now. So when the opportunity presented itself for me to dive into a new series of thrillers by an up and coming author, I took the plunge. As expected, The Race for O’Shima’s Anchor by Troy Vance delivers the goods. Anyone familiar with thrillers knows this genre abounds with tales of vast government conspiracies, clandestine threats, and spirited hunts for national treasures. But Vance takes a well-trodden concept and puts his own original spin on things.
In this story, we are introduced to Ryan Hartmann, renowned conspiracy theorist and journalist for a popular info blog known as d-bunked.com. After Hartmann goes on assignment to the Land of the Rising Sun to research what seems as a standard, run-of-the-mill field project, he finds himself entangled in a complicated web of intrigue, lies, theft, and murder as powerful forces ranging from the local Japanese government to international gangsters jostle to locate a priceless ancient artifact that could potentially lead to World War III. To get to the bottom of who is pulling the strings, Ryan must navigate a dangerous and intersecting world of politics, global commerce, criminal organizations, and secret cabals.
The tone of the story is rather light-hearted which caught me off guard at first. However, as the plot thickens, the storyline takes on a more serious edge. I found Ryan to be a compelling lead. It was clear from the very start that this guy has a giant ego the size of Texas, but it’s tempered by his fast wit and ofttimes bruising humor. Ryan’s sidekick, the seductive marine biologist Claudette, is a wonderful addition to the story, as they play well off of each other, with romantic, and sometimes, comedic fare.
The tale is filled with a cast of well-developed characters who do a wonderful job of advancing the plot. However, the large number of players, many of which only show up for a single scene, or disappeared for large stretches of the book, sometimes made following the story a bit challenging.
Overall, The Race for O’Shima’s Anchor is a well researched, tightly scripted, and complex narrative with many moving parts. It was exciting watching the story play out like a game of chess as it hurtled to its inevitable climactic conclusion. Needless to say, I was thoroughly entertained every step of the way.
This is the first book I've read from author Troy Vance and expect that it won't be my last. I am excitedly looking forward to the reading more installments of this exciting series.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for an honest, unbiased review....more
I'm very disappointed with this book. It started off fairly well and in spite of some silly science, it was exciting to read. But shortly afterward, tI'm very disappointed with this book. It started off fairly well and in spite of some silly science, it was exciting to read. But shortly afterward, the story started to go downhill. Fast. The story plays out like a bad RPG where the hero spends the first part of the book assembling his team (or band of merry men as I like to call them). Then the reader is bombarded with every tired cliche and stereotype you can think of from various scifi tv shows and movies. All the while I felt my IQ dropping as I got further along. I know the author's forte is in writing fantasy books. But, since he couldn't leave the fantasy baggage behind, it worked against this story.
I could barely stomach that there were whip-wielding elves and chivalrous knights who still fought with medieval swords in this story. But once the equivalent of dwarves and halflings with the stereotypical sounding fantasy names like Twig and Piston Bergelgruf showed up as the mechanics that serviced a spacehip that looks like a dragon, I was through. Why all the fantasy creatures and themes in a space opera book? Worse, the story came to a grinding stop every time a new character was introduced or there was an action scene. So around the 30% mark, I decided to call it quits. Even if there is a good tale to be had here, I'll never know. Sad, because it seemed promising....more
One sentence. That's all it took for me to realize that this book is going to be one headache-inducing snorefest. The plot sounded great. But the writOne sentence. That's all it took for me to realize that this book is going to be one headache-inducing snorefest. The plot sounded great. But the writing is atrocious. I'm not a book snob. I can overlook mistakes when reading a book. But whoever edited this story should be ashamed of his or herself for allowing this book to be released in this condition. As for the writer, anyone with a grammar school education should know better than to construct sentences where the character's response is given before the action happens. Worse, when you have to re-read every other sentence more than once to make sense of what's going on, there's little hope that the plot or characterization is any better. And I saw no indication that they are. Rather than slog my way through this one, I'm calling it quits early. What a waste of good cover art....more
This book had me hooked from the start. I would probably give it more stars if it wasn't for the disappointingly convoluted climax and extremely preacThis book had me hooked from the start. I would probably give it more stars if it wasn't for the disappointingly convoluted climax and extremely preachy ending....more
In spite of the shoddy production (weak covers, poor editing, formatting issues, etc.), I always enjoy reading this author's work. There's something cIn spite of the shoddy production (weak covers, poor editing, formatting issues, etc.), I always enjoy reading this author's work. There's something charming and unpretentious about books written by Geltab. His (or her) ideas are always interesting and worth exploring. Not the best author out there, but always fun to read. This book is no exception. The twist at the end definitely makes the trip worthwhile....more
I wanted to like this story. It has a great series title and intriguing illustrated cover art. Sadly, there just isn't very much to get excited about.I wanted to like this story. It has a great series title and intriguing illustrated cover art. Sadly, there just isn't very much to get excited about. As a prologue, this book is more of a teaser, than a real attempt to tell a story. There isn't anything wrong with a set-up story per se. But even teasers need to have substance to them. It isn't enough to merely 'tease' us with trite background information and world building. We need to have a reason to care about the characters and what's going to unfold. I never reached that point. Heck, I don't even know what the main characters names are besides 'father' and 'son'. Not a very good way to engage a reader.
As a result of this prologue holding back anything that would truly make it an interesting read, I found myself fighting to keep from skimming its contents. This is really disappointing considering the book is only 8 pages long.
Readers who love a really slow-build up and can put up with having to constantly shell out money for numerous short installments in what appears to be a mediocre ongoing sci-fi serial may be interested. Others may want to wait to see if the author puts out an omnibus edition, at which point, even I may give this series another look. But right now, I can't in good conscience, recommend this series.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book by the author for an unbiased, honest review....more
‘The Scientist’ is my introduction to author Ryan Michael. I haven’t read a book quite like this one before. A story told from the perspective of mach‘The Scientist’ is my introduction to author Ryan Michael. I haven’t read a book quite like this one before. A story told from the perspective of machines, rather than a human one is a new experience for me. The idea of a mechanical scientist that decides to defy its own programming, as well as the imperatives of the other machines that rule over its society, in order to facilitate the rebirth of the human race, is intriguing.
I liked the biblical references in the story, and, in particular, the direct quotes from the New Testament which the Scientist uses to justify his actions in the book. The Scientist is determined to recreate the now extinct human species even at great personal risk. The Christ references weren’t missed by me. It added another dimension of realism to the story.
Eve, the albino human female, the Scientist revives, is an interesting figure. I felt her fear and confusion and appreciated the way she was presented in the story. As the vehicle y which the human race is to be reborn, Eve, without knowing it, carries a heavy burden. If for any reason, she dies before the Scientist can achieve his goal, the human race dies along with her. Unfortunately, the board of machines that hold dominion over the world is staunchly opposed to her existence and has sinister plans for her and the Scientist.
The writing is pretty good, even though a little rough at times. I think there was too much repetition throughout the story, especially when the Scientist would engage in a back and forth with the other machines. They’d often got caught up in a tiresome exchange where they would repeat the same things over and over and over again. For instance, when the Scout would demand that the scientist upload information to the Records, they would literally go on for pages repeating the same dialogue. It got old fast and happened way too often. I was not a fan of that approach.
Another thing I found strange is that the story explains that since they aren’t humans, the machines are unable to feel emotions. Yet, there isn’t a moment in the story where the machines aren’t displaying human motions such as fear, anger, excitement, or disappointment. Truth be told, giving the machines emotions was the right decision, as it made them more relatable. I just don’t understand why this contradiction existed, especially since we know these are sentient machines.
With the exception of those particular complaints, I enjoyed the story and science elements very much. If not for the editorial errors and occasional inconsistencies in the story, I would have scored this book higher.
3.5 stars for an interesting and unique science fiction tale.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ...more
A Smattering of Darkness by Alisha "Priti" Kirpalani is a collection of short stories exploring the darker side of the human mind. The collection contA Smattering of Darkness by Alisha "Priti" Kirpalani is a collection of short stories exploring the darker side of the human mind. The collection contains tales ranging from the macabre to the whimsical.
From the very beginning, it was clear to me that this is the work of a skilled writer who has honed her talent to razor sharpness. Kirpalani’s wordsmithery evokes vivid images that not only stirs the imagination, but leaves the reader pondering the deeper meaning of each story. The way the author shapes words sometimes borders on the lyrical, but always in service of the narrative. Passages such as the following entranced me as I read it:
“The pearly whiteness of her own scars against the knotted green of Mamma's hands. Mamma's sweaty palms, her prize of motherhood, nope, the price of motherhood.”
The collection is full of delicious prose like this, but never comes off as pretentious, overbearing, or stilted. In fact, the writing remained at a high level throughout the entire book.
I found each tale in this collection to be fascinating and even humorous at times, which was a welcome surprise considering the book focuses on dark themes. One of my personal favorite pieces in the collection was ‘A Fable of Fallibility’ a fanciful and tragic tale of two lovers who must face their own demons to secure the other’s love.
My only complaint, and it is a minor one, is that I feel the text could use a little more editorial polish. It was somewhat distracting to encounter grammatical errors and formatting issues in an otherwise masterfully put together work of literature. If not for these errors, I may have given this collection a perfect score.
Still, I highly recommend this collection to fans of short fiction as well as readers who enjoy brilliant, well-written prose. I will definitely seek out for more work from this author.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased, honest review. ...more
Community 17 is the first book I’ve read from award-winning author James Cardona. Due to his accolades, I went into reading this book with high expectCommunity 17 is the first book I’ve read from award-winning author James Cardona. Due to his accolades, I went into reading this book with high expectations. Although, there were a few things I took issue with, overall, there is no denying that this book has something important to say and does it convincingly.
This story revolves around a downtrodden teenager named Isaias. It’s not enough that he faces the same growing pains that any adolescent male does during this very difficult and transitional phase of his life, but he has to cope with living under an oppressive regime that treats the underprivileged members of their society like unwanted trash. You see, Isais is a pleb, living in a dirt-ridden, shanty town filled with crime, poverty, refuse, and despair. Plebs are forced to live outside the walls of the city where, in contrast, the citizens live in peace and safety. They, unlike the citizens, are the unwashed masses who have no future except to spend their days living in misery scavenging trash and robbing each other just to survive. Worse, the government watches their every move, ready to bring down an iron fist on anyone who breaks their rules, adding to the plebs’ seemingly inexhaustible laundry list of woes.
Isaias is one of the few kids from his town who has been given the chance to become a citizen. All he has to do is pass the tests that will allow him to ascend to a better life. But a sudden act of terrorism upsets his universe, threatening not only his future to become a citizen, but his very life as well. Isais must fight to make sense of the powerful forces moving against him and the people he loves, unaware of a grand conspiracy to destroy Isais and condemn the plebs to an even bleaker future.
I found Community 17 to be a thought-provoking and cautionary tale dealing with a very timely subject. The world in which Isais lives mirrors ours in many ways. A world where the elites use the citizenry as pawns in their never ending pursuit of power. The totalitarian authority that govern the plebs in Isais’ world is as brutally oppressive as one would expect. But this story subtly portends an even darker future where the convergence of power within the hands of the government, media, and big business may one day result in the complete and inevitable loss of human rights where citizens live to become disposable wards of the state.
Aside from the theme, plot, and characters, one of my favorite elements of Community 17 is the blossoming romance between Isias’ and Jessia. It’s rare for a romantic storyline to really engross me, but I truly enjoyed watching them go from being friends to lovers. It was very convincing and exciting to read about.
My biggest complaint about this book would have to be the editing. I didn’t enjoy having the flow of my reading interrupted to have to stop to figure out what a particular sentence or passage was trying to say. There were a few misspellings. But more often than not, the wrong word was used, such as “true” instead of “true”, which served to break the spell the narrative wielded.
Most egregiously, was the unconventional use of quotation marks with internal monologue instead of italics. As a result, I sometimes didn’t know when the characters were speaking aloud or to themselves, or even to whom they were speaking with. I wish the author hadn’t taken such liberties with the text, because it’s confusing and hurts the readability of the story. This is frustrating especially since it’s an otherwise well-told story that engages you right from the start.
If it wasn’t for the problems with the editing, this book might have scored higher with me. Still I would definitely recommend this story to fans of dystopian fiction as well as those who like a book to make you think as well as feel.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review....more
Even though it's a short story, this is the best thing I've read from this author so far. The writing is outstanding, the plot is intriguing, and theEven though it's a short story, this is the best thing I've read from this author so far. The writing is outstanding, the plot is intriguing, and the pacing is spot on. Highly recommended....more
I don't read many young adult novels nowadays. But I've been lucky to be treated to some very enjoyable fiction during my last few romps through thisI don't read many young adult novels nowadays. But I've been lucky to be treated to some very enjoyable fiction during my last few romps through this corner of the literature. Living in Suspension by Winifred Morris peeked my interest from the moment I saw its wonderful cover art and I am happy to report that my journey through its pages lived up to my expectations.
The story details the life of a high school student named Sky during the final days of his junior year. His emotional and intellectual detachment goes beyond his lack of interest in school, but to the other aspects of his life as well. He doesn’t have many friends and prefers to spend his days lost in his thoughts, or better still, in the worlds created by his imagination. We watch events unfold through story through his eyes with sadness, alarm, and sometimes dread. It is clear that Sky is a miserable teenager who doesn’t have the sense of urgency about growing up or the responsibilities associated with a boy transitioning into a young man.
This book was a trip down memory lane for me as I could relate to Sky and the growing pains he goes through. He lacks any zest for life and is utterly directionless. The failed attempts by the adults in his life to get him to find his path adds to the drama, but is quite sad to see. You find yourself rooting for Sky, especially when it becomes obvious that his imagination is a talent that needs to be fostered in a positive way. But we also struggle to wrestle with why he is unable to pick himself up even when others reach out to help him. By the final pages of the book, we, like Sky, come to terms with his uncertain fate, but realize that his journey in life is one that will be decided by him and him alone.
This is one of the few books that I would recommend to parents and teachers who have young teens who are struggling to find themselves. I think they can all learn something of themselves with this book.
Well-written by an author who knows and intimately understands the problems Sky faces with an educational system that is increasingly failing its students, Living in Suspension is a sold book that is as informative as it is entertaining.
A solid 4 stars.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book for an honest review....more
…And the Stars Fell Silent is the first of a planned series of books recounting the end of the world. In this dystopian tale, we follow Skylar Whitfie…And the Stars Fell Silent is the first of a planned series of books recounting the end of the world. In this dystopian tale, we follow Skylar Whitfield through harrowing events culminating in the end of the world as we know it. A cataclysm of galactic proportions befalls the Earth leading to the inevitable destruction of all life upon it. Skylar and her family take up shelter in a government built-dome which offers them the only chance of survival. Once there, things go from bad to worse forcing Skylar to risk her life to uncover a deadly conspiracy that threatens the lives of all survivors.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this tale, though I understood it was going to be a dystopian thriller from the blurb. Sadly, the current book cover art doesn’t do this book justice as I might have passed over it if not given the opportunity to read it. Hopefully an upgrade is planned, because this book is a much more impressive read than the artwork suggests or I had even hoped it would be.
I really enjoyed the quotes from Lord Byron’s immortal poem "Darkness" that opens each new chapter. It adds weight and gravity to the bleak situation the characters find themselves in. Although Skylar is clearly the lead character, it was a nice change of pace to see the story through the eyes of other characters’ such as Pastor Tim and John Malcom. The Malcom bits were incredibly moving. I felt his dread as he struggled to find a way to survive a dying world along with his young daughter. Though slightly overdone, flashbacks were used to great effect in this story, allowing us to explore the lives and motivations of many of its players. There were a few editorial errors in the text, but nothing that would prevent readers from enjoying this book.
…And the Stars Fell Silent is definitely a thrilling read that held my attention from start to finish. I am intrigued by the unresolved world crisis and would definitely read the next part of the story so I can see what happens next to Skylar and Co..
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book for a fair and honest review....more
I wasn’t sure what to think when I first started reading this book. The premise sounded good, so I was eager to dive in. But the book started slowly.I wasn’t sure what to think when I first started reading this book. The premise sounded good, so I was eager to dive in. But the book started slowly. Also, the characters seemed cold and distant. I struggled to empathize with the lead character, Inspector Beech. It might have been the intent of the author, but Beech was very robot-like the way he went about his business. Unfortunately, that made him initially an uninteresting character through which to view the events of the dystopian setting. Thankfully, as the plot started to unfold, things started to get interesting and I eventually warmed up to the lead.
Where this story shines is the plot. It’s interesting watching Beech put together the pieces of a conspiracy by clandestine figures within the government to control its citizens. He’s a bit naïve in the beginning and annoying in his gullibility. But eventually we get to see a different side of him that makes him break the mold of being the simpleton that he is initially portrayed to be. The introduction of the Fiona, really helped to bring out more emotion from Beech. She was definitely the vehicle by which we get to see Beech start to act like a flesh and blood person.
There wasn’t a whole lot of action, but what was in the story was compelling and helped the plot move along, which isn’t always the case with action scenes. I liked that Fiona wasn’t the typical damsel-in-distress, but was, in most respects, tougher and smarter than Beech. She seemed to have a much better grasp on the threat than Beech who was in denial for the better part of the story. In fact, without Fiona, I’d say Beech was, for an Inspector, uncharacteristically clueless about everything going on around him.
I enjoyed the plot and setting, but the main problem that I had with this story is that the characters are a bit cold. It’s hard to become emotionally involved with the story’s players since they’re not really fleshed out. It doesn’t help that we’re not given a whole lot of background information on them. These characters are mostly described through their actions, which is suitable for the needs of the plot. But it leaves the reader wanting more especially since we spend so much time with them in the narrative. I would have liked to get to know them better, if only to make them more sympathetic. It’s hard to feel for the characters when they are in danger or die because we haven’t been given a good reason to care about them.
Overall, Dreams of Kratocracy is a good book and worth checking out. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy stories about a near-future world where surveillance and technology threaten the freedom of humanity. Or those who enjoy a good ol’ fashioned yarn weaved around conspiracy plots and insidious governments that abuse their power to oppress its citizenry.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book for an honest review.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a good horror story. I was offered the chance to read this book and jumped all over it. Beasts of the Garden, formerIt’s been a while since I’ve read a good horror story. I was offered the chance to read this book and jumped all over it. Beasts of the Garden, formerly titled Then Came Two, is the first installment in the Eden’s Ashes Serial.
The first thing that attracted me to this book is the fantastic cover art. It’s very macabre and draws you into the world with thoughts of what kind of devilish tale lay within. Equally impressive is the writing, which is very atmospheric, immersing the reader into the story. I was transported to the Deep South in rural Lousiana. All the sights, smells, and places were vividly described, making me feel as if I was right there watching the story unfold.
I was drawn to the characters and found them very intriguing. The more that was revealed about them, the more it seems there was to learn. It was clear from the beginning that the characters all held deep secrets, which sometimes eluded them as well. Following their journey was a joy and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
Overall, this is great introduction, and sets the stage for bigger things to come. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for this series to see where it all ends up.
4 stars for a riveting and delightfully frightening tale.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book for an honest review. ...more