Such a combination of genres, I'm not even sure where to start!
How about science fiction? F Science fiction, fantasy, romance, oh my! Fantastic read
Such a combination of genres, I'm not even sure where to start!
How about science fiction? Fighting Gravity is, in my opinion, much less sci than fi. Very little of the standard tech of scifi is present, and the same with interstellar travel and other worlds, except almost in passing (such as an unscheduled stop at a nebula to sightsee). Don't get me wrong, this is by no means a complaint, but as a lifelong scifi fan I do look for that 'definition' of traditional scifi (to paraphrase, if the science is taken out of the story it would collapse). Fighting Gravity has scifi elements, but is not necessarily scifi. The story could have easily taken place in Elizabethan England with horse-drawn carriages without missing a beat.
Which brings me to fantasy. Again several elements of fantasy, even high fantasy, are contained within Fighting Gravity. You have emperors and empires, children taken away from their homes for bigger and better things, other worlds and time frames, and so on. But again, no elves, no magic spells, no flying carpets.
Romance? Now we're getting closer. Fighting Gravity is at its heart a romance between a royal and a commoner; a privileged one surrounded by wealth, opulence, and advisers, in love with an 'unclass' nobody. Now we've got the elements: forbidden, hidden love with the empire in the balance. But that's still not Fighting Gravity as a whole.
So what is the story? To paraphrase James Carville, "it's about the characters, stupid." From page one, I was captivated by Jacob Dawes' story and couldn't stop turning the pages. I'm normally a reader looking for things blowing up and bullets flying, but the story was that good I didn't miss them. Some have called the early parts of the story a little slow going, and I can see that, but it's such a great look at a character developing, becoming who he is later in the story, that one doesn't need cliffhangers and fire-breathing dragons.
Jacob Dawes is fascinating. I absolutely loved watching him grow up and mature, fall in love, get in trouble (no spoilers here) by continually running his unclass mouth in front of the privileged, and seeing his emotions run the full gamut. And the emperor is no less fascinating, as are the secondary characters (like Kirti, his childhood sweetheart he leaves behind).
The writing style is truly flawless and was a joy to read. I'm a HUGE stickler for the mechanics (spelling, punctuation, grammar, sentence structure) and Fighting Gravity was one of the best I've seen from any author. The writing style itself made me continue on reading well into the night, and the inter-character dialogue was spot on.
Oh wait, did I forget something? Right…the emperor's name is Peter. Yes, Jacob and Peter fall in love. In today's day and age, this is such a hot button topic for many, but Leah Petersen has written such an incredible story around a gay romance that it's immaterial. It could be Jacob and Petunia, or Jane and Peter - didn't matter. It's a testament to Petersen's writing style and her story that a controversial subject is secondary and accepted as just part of the overall plot.
Very well done. Ms. Petersen, I'm looking forward to the next one. Especially because you hinted at some very intriguing possibilities at the end of this one. ...more
I’m not normally a short story reader; I prefer my time to be spent with full length, involved works, but the concept of Unspoken Stories (according tI’m not normally a short story reader; I prefer my time to be spent with full length, involved works, but the concept of Unspoken Stories (according to the author’s blog, named because without some friendly motivation and a new outlook on writing itself, he may never have written them) sounded fascinating. Five separate, unrelated, stories, all based in a different science fiction niche (some more scifi than others), all in one volume. I’m very glad I took the chance.
Unspoken Stories consists of Copy Bird, Going Home, Josie Dorri and the Coffee Ban, The Present, and Running to Keep Her. The author explained he wrote each one in a fairly short time frame; as such there are some minor editing issues, but nothing that would pull the reader from the story. One by one, my thoughts on each:
Copy Bird: A very unique present tense telling of a post-apocalyptic world. A man awakens in a burned out future society, thinking he’s alone, only to hear the call of a bird, speaking to him, pulling him along to an unknown destination. This was probably my favorite of the five. Great emotion and feelings of the protagonist, and a heartwarming ending.
Going Home: A young man has leave from military service against an alien invasion sweeping the human populated worlds, and takes time to visit his family and tries to keep his promise to them. This story started and ran slow for me, but when I completed it, my thoughts on it completely turned around. Looking at it as a whole, knowing the way it ends, made it an excellent tale.
Josie Dorri and the Coffee Ban: A different way of looking at the future Big Brother type society, one where cofee is banned, both for drinking and possessing. Easy to relate to, as well as easy to compare to some of today’s odd rules and regulations.
The Present: A view on time travel from a personal perspective, and a twist on “what would you do if you could” with the added facet of how it affects others. Good flow, and relatively (no pun intended) easy to follow the timeline.
Running to Keep Her: A touching story about loss and what a man does to remember, and how that affects his life going forward.
Overall I enjoyed the volume. B. C. Young has a knack for storytelling and keeps the reader interested from start to finish. Even though each story was completely unrelated and stands on its own, they all have similarities and common threads that show Young can write. Looking forward to a few more short stories from him (never thought I’d say that…)...more
Cleaning up loose ends may have unintended consequences
A hired hit man who previously worked for the mafia. An innocent friend by his side. A corruptCleaning up loose ends may have unintended consequences
A hired hit man who previously worked for the mafia. An innocent friend by his side. A corrupt corporation with leak. A gruff CEO with a mysterious and beautiful security agent. A target with questionable morals and a shady lifestyle. This is the cast of characters put together in Loose Ends, a thriller novella from debut author AJ Powers.
It's a short novella, borderline long short story (sorry for the oxymoron), but a very entertaining read. A hitman is sent to clean up a loose end, but finds he gets closer to the job than he expected. Good story flow, page-turning, and realistic dialogue and settings. Powers has extensive knowledge of weapons, but doesn't overwhelm the reader with technical details. Good character development, getting inside the main character's head in first person point of view, something I've seen many debut authors fail miserably at (first person isn't as easy as one might think). And of course, a nice twist at the end, leaving the reader wanting more of the story (sequel, perhaps?)
This is an absolute no-brainer priced at $.99; I'd certainly recommend Loose Ends for a quick, entertaining thriller. Oh, and Powers designed and created the cover art from scratch - an enviable talent to have....more
When a greedy corporate power threatens the status quo in Weber Rexall’s town and he’s tasked to do something about it, nothing will stand in his way.When a greedy corporate power threatens the status quo in Weber Rexall’s town and he’s tasked to do something about it, nothing will stand in his way.
Tough guy Rexall, his underground fighting ring cohort Berger, and a synthetic Serve-O named Simmer are just three of the incredibly interesting characters Rush writes into Chasing Filthy Lucre, the first part in a novella series, one that entertains right from the first page.
Rush seamlessly blends cyberpunk technology and post-apocalyptic settings with deep characters the reader can truly feel for. The tech itself is fascinating; without giving anything away, when Rush describes the hothouse and its patrons, the remarkable imagery he puts together could easily have been pulled from a scene in today’s world. The scene descriptions, such as the underground fighting and the ‘package delivery’ scene (again without giving too much away) are rich, and really paint a detailed picture in the reader’s head.
The story is fast-paced and progresses logically, with a couple of twists, and an exciting climax, then easily feeds into the next novella in the series. Definitely a page-turner, and very well edited for a self-published work. Absolutely worth the download, I’m looking forward to the next in the series!...more
Interference starts off with a bang, literally. I won't be giving anything away by saying this, as the book jacket reveals it, but the dramatic assassInterference starts off with a bang, literally. I won't be giving anything away by saying this, as the book jacket reveals it, but the dramatic assassination of the President of the North American Union sets events into motion that turn a science fiction novel into more of a suspense/mystery, and Blackstone definitely keeps the pages turning. However, that's not saying it's not science fiction!
Some fascinating ideas Blackstone has written into Interference. The Kingdom, man-made terraformed area in the far northern reaches of the North American Union, populated supposedly by backwater barbarians. Sonic shields that snap into place at a threat detection. Mech assault robots with impressive weaponry. Cloning and genetic engineering to create better and better humans. Floater vehicles that can be shut down by command of authorities, or tasked to hunt. Blackstone weaves the ideas well into the overall story, never overemphasizing them, and perhaps more importantly, never violating the "Show, Don't Tell" rule.
I found the story to be compelling, and I was actually more drawn to the character of Detective Henry Corvasce as opposed to Damien Reyes, the one blamed for the President's killing and the one each chapter starts off with (Reyes being interrogated in a unique fashion - interrogated for lack of a better term that might give away part of the storyline). Corvasce made for an excellent main character; deep, well-written, believable, and likable. If another story is to follow, I hope that Blackstone brings back Corvasce as the primary character in another mystery-type setting.
Sections of the story do get very complex at times, as Blackstone has certainly done his homework on quantum physics and mathematics, but no so much as to get lost in. The book was well-edited; minuscule typographic errors, I don't even think I can count them on one hand, and certainly far fewer than I've seen in mass-market novels. My only comment (because gripe would be far too strong a term) would be the 'interrogation' at the beginning of most chapters is all dialogue in quotation marks, and with some of the dialogue being multiple short statements, I did find myself having to read back a few lines to really determine who was speaking. But that in no way whatsoever took away from the overall mystery/suspense story, the excellent characters, and the resolution at the end I was very much looking forward to reading.
Blackstone has put out a good story - entertaining, good characters that are well-developed, an intriguing political mystery with science fiction settings and technology. I can certainly recommend Interference. ...more
A few weeks back, I was privileged enough to twitterview* Dr. Kerwin Swint, author of The King WhispeReview of The King Whisperers by Dr. Kerwin Swint
A few weeks back, I was privileged enough to twitterview* Dr. Kerwin Swint, author of The King Whisperers.
*Twitterview – what a cool word, huh? Even cooler concept. Following along with a Twitter hashtag (#emlyn) and creating a real-time, online dialogue, audience members from around the world can peek in, see Q&A, and even throw in a question or two. I had a blast in March doing several!
Going into it, before taking a look at his work and the overview of his book, I had read that he was a professor of politics at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta. So…thinking back to a poli-sci course I had in college, with possibly the most droll and monotone professor I had in my four (well, four and a half) years there, I was hesitant. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea…how interesting could a professor of politics be, and would anyone care enough to ask questions?
Just a few minutes into the twitterview, I found Dr. Swint incredibly engaging, personable, knowledgeable, and really down-to-earth. At the end of the standard questions, audience members jumped in with some great questions, and Dr. Swint had some equally top notch answers. After it was over, I had to (a) rethink my bias towards poli-sci professors, and (b) make it a point to get a copy of The King Whisperers. The first was easy, since I’m not sure how many more professors I’ll run into in the future, but the second took a couple of weeks. Once I received it, I dove into it, and my goodness, it turned out to be a truly fascinating book.
Before I give a little summary of the book itself, I thought I’d pull out some of the most interesting Q&A’s from the twitterview:
Q: What do you write? A: Mostly politics and history: The King Whisperers tells the stories of some of the greatest power brokers and manipulators in history. Q: Who were the most fascinating ‘evil geniuses’ you found when researching the book? A: My favorites are the really bad guys, the young Stalin, Hitler’s right hand, but also today’s power brokers like Cheney and Rove. Q: There are so many “whisperers” for every leader nowadays. does this, and pollsters especially, diminish the power of the electorate? A: The messages get clouded up with partisanship and ideology, which is too bad. Q: When it comes to writing political, historical fiction, how soon is “too soon” when covering an event? A: Great question, cause over time the details and interpretation can change, can’t they. Usually it takes 5 or 10 years for context. Q: Sooo…. how is Obama doing? A: Toughest job in the world. would probably be reelected today, but who knows about 2012!
As for the book itself, I found it to be an incredible peek behind the scenes of some of the most famous and most powerful leaders in history. Machiavelli, Che Guevara, Rasputin, and dozens more, all arranged by “type” – whether they be Fixers, Schemers, Kingmakers, Empire Builders, Rebels, or Silver Tongued Devils.
This non-fiction book never read like a history text, which could be how it appears from the cover, book jacket, and overall theme. It was very well-written, done in layman’s terms, easy to read, and actually hard to put down. The fact that this figures existed, and the stories are so fascinating, makes it an excellent read.
I’ve never been a history reader, but I can absolutely recommend The King Whisperers just from the standpoint of a reader in general. ...more
Mekans…even the name sounds foreboding. Machine intelligence, stripping the resources of planet after planet, making their way across the galaxy, leavMekans…even the name sounds foreboding. Machine intelligence, stripping the resources of planet after planet, making their way across the galaxy, leaving burned out husks in their wake. The only hope for the survival of countless species are The Chosen, small groups of four different species who are watched over and trained by Guardians from the planet Gentra. The Gentran prophecy says The Chosen hold the key to defeating the Mekans, but when one Chosen is killed, the prophecy may be in jeopardy. This is the epic science fiction/fantasy story Shay Fabbro has begun to weave with Book 1 of the Portals of Destiny.
Fabbro paints a vivid picture of five distinct worlds, and pulls it off with no trouble, something many world builders have issues with in just one. There is a wide range of characters, many of which are delved deeply into, enough so that the reader can identify with several at once. Fabbro makes it easy to follow each, as the races are significantly different enough not to get confused. A reptilian warrior race, a clone race, a magical race, and of course, humans - albeit post-apocalyptic.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, from start to finish. The detail in the worlds, the depth of characters, the grandiose far-reaching plot are all done in an easy-to-follow format and style. At certain points I do feel it gets a bit deep into description, but knowing this is the first part of a series, and knowing the full story will not wrap up by the final page, it all makes perfect sense.
I felt the mix of science fiction (clones, weaponry) and fantasy (magic, transformations) was very well done. The overall crafting of the story reminded me a bit of The Empire Strikes Back, mixing the science fiction scenes with the Jedi training fantasy aspect.
The only negatives I encountered, and completely my personal opinion, would be a little bit of point of view confusion, but only very rarely; and (possible spoiler alert) I felt the key killing of the Chosen happened a little too late in the story (I kept waiting for it to happen, as the 'book jacket blurb' emphasizes it). But absolutely nothing that detracts from the overall story, which was well edited…much more so than most independent authors' works I've read before.
I'm very much looking forward to Book 2, which I understand is just around the corner, as Fabbro has put together the beginnings of an epic story arc with very interesting characters. And it's just starting!...more
This was one of the first novels I downloaded for Kindle, as I'm slowly integrating myself into the wonderfuReview of No Shelter by Z. Constance Frost
This was one of the first novels I downloaded for Kindle, as I'm slowly integrating myself into the wonderful world of e-readers. I saw Frost's name mentioned on a message forum, so I thought I'd take a look. Very eye-catching cover, intriguing blurb, so I decided to grab a sample. I burned through it in one night, got to the end of the sample section, and immediately clicked to buy the entire novel…it was that gripping.
Holly Lin is a nanny by day, and assassin by night. Frost takes the character around the world, from Vegas to Paris, from shootouts in the desert to a frantic tractor trailer chase scene, and never takes her foot off the gas (pardon the pun). From page one, the story, the action, simply grab a hold of the reader and doesn't let go until the breathless end.
Holly is part action hero, part innocent young woman, and Frost brings an incredible range of emotion to the character. She writes excellent dialogue and uses the first person perspective very well in bringing Holly's thoughts and feelings to life. It's very easy for the reader to get inside her head, and feel the rage, sorrow, excitement, and more.
It's not all gloom and doom, however; Frost weaves humor and one liners into the story well (one I remember, without giving any spoilers, was when introduced to the Russian guard named Boris, she stops dead and says, "Is his name really Boris?", and later refers to Natasha - all without ruining the pace or plot line, like many other authors I've read have done when trying to integrate humor).
All in all, an excellent read. Fast-paced, hard to put down, full of characters the reader can truly feel for. I understand Frost is working on a sequel; I'll be watching for that, no doubt. For a debut work by an independent author, No Shelter is an enjoyable, emotional thriller well worth the reader's time (and small amount of money). Highly recommended - much better value than a latte!...more
What a steaming piece of poo...sorry for the language, but this guy must be the most overrated author out there. Completely selling out to get a movieWhat a steaming piece of poo...sorry for the language, but this guy must be the most overrated author out there. Completely selling out to get a movie made (Crichton did the same thing, but at least he had some semblance of writing style). Dan Brown completely destroys the adage of "show, don't tell" by having two people, knowledgeable in similar areas, blab on and on about a particular subject just so the reader knows. I'm shocked how often that happened in this book. Oh, and the cell phone with the CIA logo that gave away the bad guy's true identity? Really?
I liked Angels & Demons a lot; DaVinci Code I thought was overblown. This one...my goodness, he should be ashamed of himself....more
Just wrapped up Asylum Lake last night, and I have to say I really quite enjoyed it, even thought I'm definitely not a typical horror reader by any stJust wrapped up Asylum Lake last night, and I have to say I really quite enjoyed it, even thought I'm definitely not a typical horror reader by any stretch!
It was very well written, the descriptions were vivid enough to show the scene in one's imagination, yet not overly wordy. The characters, I thought, were well-developed, and the POV didn't jump around so much as to lose sight of who was speaking/thinking/feeling. It started a bit slow, but really took off a few chapters in, and the chapter where Ellis 'takes over' during the car ride (I won't throw in any spoilers) was *excellent*. I can always tell when I'm enjoying a scene when I tear through it so quickly I have to make a mental note to slow down.
I also thought the flashbacks, the scene changing from past to present, worked very well for describing the characters and their backgrounds, and it was easy to keep track of where/when the scene was. I've read others that simply mix them all up, and the reader gets lost.
I was a little surprised how...calm might be the word?...the ending was. It was really building up to a crescendo, then the final scene wrapped it all up quietly. It all made perfect sense and tied everything together neatly, and flowed well into a sequel or follow up.
Overall an excellent story, well told - recommended for a good read, just not too late at night!...more