Scion of Conquered Earth by Michael J. Allen is a young adult science fiction novel, the first book in the Scion series. I absolutely love science ficScion of Conquered Earth by Michael J. Allen is a young adult science fiction novel, the first book in the Scion series. I absolutely love science fiction, and after reading the description, I thought I would love this book. Sadly this one wasn't for me, being too odd and kind of claustrophobic for my tastes.
We view a dystopian near-future after an apocalyptic alien invasion through the eyes of The Teen -- aka Maggot, later aka Alaric -- a reluctant hero type with amnesia. When we first meet The Teen, he is running, through rotting corpses and decimated buildings, from cannibalistic lawyers and aerobics instructors. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
Then it gets odd. (Okay, let's say the oddness amplifies) Scion of Conquered Earth is confusing in many places. The post-apocalyptic world-building left a lot to be desired. A better foundation of what has happened and how it has become what it has would have been helpful to frame the activities. I often felt lost, like I'd missed the preface that gave us an overview of where we are and why. Additionally the book jumps ahead a lot, and doesn't explain the transitions at all, so as the reader you have to stop often and try to orient yourself. He's in some building, then The Teen is a prisoner in a parking lot next to (the same?) building, then he's running through rubble, then at a train and then *boom* we're in Colorado. After a while I stopped stopping, and just let myself be confused, hoping it would all make sense later. And it did, to a small degree, and I get where the author was going with our unconsciously unreliable narrator, but could it have been handled more stylistically and methodically? I vote yes.
Also oddly, there was a lot of gore that seemed unnecessary and, in my otherwise horror- and gore-loving mind, did not enhance the effectiveness of the story. It may seem like a powerful example of the unspeakable to force a starving captive to eat his own vomit, which came up when he found out the food was actually another prisoner, but honestly, it was too much and just came across as gimmicky. And gross. Very, very gross.
The narrator of the audio version, A. W. Dickson, did well with the content, though his attempts at distinguishing between characters and minor accents left a lot to be desired. He made a good effort with the female voices, something that is no easy feat for most male narrators. I want to recognize that it must have been difficult for Dickson to resist glossing over grammatical errors, but it seems he read true to the written word, mistakes and all.
The ending leaves us with a cliffhanger, which I am never happy with. Each novel should always wrap its own plots, even if it leaves an opening for a sequel. In my opinion, leaving most everything open is a cheap attempt to manipulate readers into going for the next book. If an author wants people to continue the series, then give them quality writing and great characters they can't help but follow.
I received this audiobook from Audiobook Empire in exchange for an honest review. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it....more
Rob Dircks does it again with Gigi Make Paradox. And yes, I mean he did it in the best way possible,because I'm talking about another fun-loving, nevRob Dircks does it again with Gigi Make Paradox. And yes, I mean he did it in the best way possible,because I'm talking about another fun-loving, never serious (except for seriously geeky), time traveling adventure novel about Chip and the gang.
Chip and his darling little two year old, Gigi, are joined by Pete and his equally darling little two year old, Hannah, on yet another goofball adventure in time.
The group enters the ITA (Interdimensional Transfer Apparatus) for a little celebrating for Chip's birthday, but of course, nothing ever goes as planned. What fun would that be? Things go sideways when toddler Gigi accidentally enters "Old Man's" (Nicola Tesla's) 1947 apartment. The universe doesn't break, as you might expect from what we've learned in the first two installments, but as we come to find out, it's only a matter of time before all the dimensions could go bye-bye.
And of course, our adventure through all the parallel worlds wouldn't be complete without Chip's attempts to understand humanity and how we interact with the chaos of the universe, this time with a little parenting and aging knowledge thrown our way:
But why does free will have to be random? We're not talking about luck, like the lottery. Because if you knew the outcome of your choice, it wouldn't be free will now, would it?
Our reluctant heroes work their way through all the calamitous mess. I won't spoil it, but rest assured we all live to enjoy this end of the Where the Hell is Tesla? series....more
The Silver City: An Adventure/Sci-Fi Classic wasn't for me, but with a little (a lot of?) line editing, I could see this introduction to The Father EaThe Silver City: An Adventure/Sci-Fi Classic wasn't for me, but with a little (a lot of?) line editing, I could see this introduction to The Father Earth series becoming something I might rate much higher. Brad W. King's writing often seemed amateurish, and C. J. McAllister's narration of the audiobook sounded inexperienced. The first thing I'd do is ask an editor to remove all the adverbs and clean up the awkward phrasings, like "he agreed affirmatively" and "said with witticism".
References to characters were too focused on appearance, and often verged on misogynistic and bigoted. Casual comments like "helpless little man" or explaining how surprising it was that Finn's sister wasn't waiting for a Romeo to sweep her off her feet were incredibly off-putting. Why was it so important to mention how tall all the men were or whether Alyssa was or was not wearing makeup (and not caring if she wasn't)? It was difficult for me to power through the first third of this book, but I'd made a promise to listen and review, so (annoyed) I stuck it out.
Despite the fact that I didn't care for the author's style of writing, there was a unique and interesting story lying underneath that didn't make an appearance until the last third of the novella. Things got adventurous and Indiana Jones-styled interesting, and I could see this series actually going somewhere fun. Then, just as quickly, things got all kinds of ridiculous.
I was hoping -- oh, how I hoped -- that Finn would wake up and everything would have been a dream on his way to the King Tut site for his first job.
Bonaire of the ABC Islands in the southern Caribbean was never on my radar before, but this little piece of heaven certainly is now. I stopped Deep ShBonaire of the ABC Islands in the southern Caribbean was never on my radar before, but this little piece of heaven certainly is now. I stopped Deep Shadow many times to go to Google to look up photos of all the amazing places the main character, Boone, traveled to. And I remained jealous as I sat listening in road ragey traffic during my commute, wishing I were in that island paradise eating pastechis and sipping something ice cold.
I have to admit terrorism plots aren't necessarily my go-to, so when I discovered this adventure had the island inhabitants pitted against drug and Semtex smuggling terrorists, I wasn't thrilled, but for what it was, I can put my preferences aside and admit Deep Shadow is a compelling read.
I had the Audible version, and found that Nick Sullivan also narrates the book. In some cases having the author narrate can be all kinds of tragic, but to my pleasant surprise, Sullivan does a bang up job with the voices, the pacing, even the accents.
If you're looking for a suspenseful adventure with some of the richest atmosphere around, Deep Shadow would be a solid choice. The character development and plot are not quite as richly woven as the paradise setting, but if you want a decent story that will transport you to into amazing underwater dive spots, you'll get that in dazzling turquoise here.
I received this audiobook at no-cost from Audiobookworm Promotions. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it....more
Such a creative retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood!
In Off The Given Path, the beginning of the Outer Red series, wSuch a creative retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood!
In Off The Given Path, the beginning of the Outer Red series, we meet Red, the last survivor of the Riding Hoods, defenders of the Galactic Kingdom.
The young, red-headed Commander ("Red") of the starship Goldilocks is warned not to stray from the path of her mission, but is shot down onto an alien planet. She and her A.I. GRIMM search the planet for anything to help repair and power the ship. They find another (alien) organic ship with uncomfortable mossy stump-rock seats, other items that are too cold or too hot -- you get the picture.
Once Red manages to get Goldilocks up and running, she knows she must get back on her path or risk running into The Darkness, an army ("dominion") of Wolves. A basket of information, really a data drive, is given to her to take back to her people, to help arm them against the return of The Darkness.
I was gifted the Audible version of this book in exchange for an honest review. In this audio version the narration by Dana Dae was very good, especially voicing the rather sarcastic A.I. However, some transitions and edited-in changes were less than seamless, resulting in volume inconsistencies and breaks that were a bit distracting....more
Cloven by Kady Monroe is a creepy little novella about a man, Mack, who has sequestered himself on a small Scottish island after a painful betrayal anCloven by Kady Monroe is a creepy little novella about a man, Mack, who has sequestered himself on a small Scottish island after a painful betrayal and brutal divorce. He's looking for solitude, but instead finds scrutiny from his fellow islanders and creepy (mostly) unseen things going bump in the night.
After several almost encounters with these curious creatures who leave small cloven footprints, Mack starts to doubt his sanity. When he is finally attacked, things go south quickly. The physical pain, the isolation, and the fear all mount, and over the edge he goes.
***Small spoiler ***
We get no answer to what was going on, the story just "dies". I feel like this may have been left as an opening for a sequel?
The Audible version was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. Neil White does a very decent job of the narration, especially with the accents for the Scottish island locals....more
In Not So Gone, Charles Levin's second novel in the Sam Sunborn series, we find our protagonist, Sam Sunborn, living digitally after he and his DigitaIn Not So Gone, Charles Levin's second novel in the Sam Sunborn series, we find our protagonist, Sam Sunborn, living digitally after he and his Digital 3000 partner, Frank Einstein, were murdered by a terrorist group led by The Leopard. This terrorist group has lofty plans, and the world itself is in jeopardy. The powers that be are onto this group's nefarious plans, but they are always a few steps behind.
Digital 3000 digitized personalities, memories and emotions to the cloud, which was fortunate for Sam and Frank. They are "living" inside the web, which is almost like a super power, but is also restrictive -- no physical pleasures or senses/sensations. They can Skype with their loved ones and watch over them, but there is always that barrier. They also have insider information about the terrorists, which can be helpful, but only to a certain point.
When Sam's son Evan is kidnapped by The Cub, the younger brother of The Leopard, he is desperate to find a physical body to download into. Inhabiting the cloud gives him instantaneous access to information, but not the ability to take real world action. Sam and his compatriots find a man on the edge of death, a crazed murderer named Valiente jailed in Mexico, who seems the perfect candidate for their plan. They decide to liberate Valiente and download Sam into his brain. As you can imagine, personalities and memories clash while Sam tries to adapt to his "new" body and his reincarnation as a living, breathing human.
In my opinion, there were too many characters to keep up with or to develop fully, and the plot held too many sub-plots to do justice to any one of them. But overall a few strong threads kept me interested, and the charge toward the resolution of all the different story lines was exciting.
I was given the Audible version of this book in exchange for an honest review. The narrator, Daniel Greenberg, does a great job with novel, smoothing some rather awkward wording and unrealistic conversation so it flows better than it might on the page....more
While I appreciate that the author was trying to bring awareness to an important and timely topic, sexual harrassment in the workplace, with the uniquWhile I appreciate that the author was trying to bring awareness to an important and timely topic, sexual harrassment in the workplace, with the unique twist of a moral test thrown in, I really hated this novel and its wholly pathetic main character.
Review to come, once I figure out how to use my words to effectively express my disappointment and disbelief.
---------------------------- Review time!
29 Seconds was an insanely simplistic book about a woman who was being sexually harassed at work and felt helpless in confronting the issue. She happens into an unrelated situation where she kinda, sorta does the right thing and her reward is the proffered option to get rid of someone, anyone, and we're all thinking "yeah, duh --the sleazebag terrorizing your worklife."
"You give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear. For you."
"I don't have a name to give you. There isn't anyone."
"Nonsense. Everyone has someone they would like to punish. To have just a little bit more just in the world."
"Maybe I'm the exception."
He considered her for a long moment. "Are you sure?"
Of course she's sure. The a**hole she works for, Professor Hawthorne, deserves to be taken down. But she's too scared and pathetic to own her own feelings or her own success, so she second guesses everything ten times over.
I could not stand Sarah as a character. We're supposed to like her and root for her in 29 Seconds, but we don't. We can't. She wasn't brave, she wasn't strong, she wasn't a leader. Any thoughts of greatness she held were never turned into action. She stumbles through life, and feels like injustice just keeps finding her.
A woman would not have written this book, and *this* woman wishes she hadn't read it....more
Environmentally Friendly is a fast-paced and exciting short story about a man hellbent on exacting revenge on Mother Nature. At only 19 pages, we don'Environmentally Friendly is a fast-paced and exciting short story about a man hellbent on exacting revenge on Mother Nature. At only 19 pages, we don't have the luxury of hearing his back story or receive much in character development, so it takes a few pages to understand what's going on. Then at the end, we learn more to help frame the fiery nightmare that has unfolded in front of us.
If I were asked to beta read, I would offer Zanbaka the advice of keeping sentences to no more than ~25 words, and removing most of the adjectives and adverbs. Too much description detracts from the message, and forces the reader into a box. Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft states it best: “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
A special thanks to Elias Zanbaka who honored me with a copy of his story in exchange for an honest review....more
This is my first foray into LitRPG, and what a nice surprise! Stepping out of my comfort zone was fun, and I believe I have found a new genre to add tThis is my first foray into LitRPG, and what a nice surprise! Stepping out of my comfort zone was fun, and I believe I have found a new genre to add to my favorites list! If all LitRPG is this much fun, it may become my new obsession. My sons, both early 20s, listened in a bit while I was enjoying this audiobook in the car, and they thought it held up well to similar books in the genre.
That said, I do think a good part of my excitement here comes from this particular novel, Dragonsbane. The held-hostage-in-a-VR-world premise, the world building, the endearing characters (especially Justine/Mel), the audio narrator, the writing in general -- it all came together into a thrilling and fun adventure. The fact that I've finished and am still insanely curious to find out what happens to the new guild and what happened to the original Toxic Muffin guild members proves this was a story well done. I do hope the originals appear in the next book.
For those of you wondering, I don't believe it would take a gamer to enjoy this novel, but it certainly requires a bit of knowledge about high fantasy role playing games to understand all the lingo. And while the narrator definitely gave a valiant effort to the multitude of voices and accents, you might need to let go of some expectations of authenticity. Maybe 1% of the narrators out there could hit all those accents out of the park, and Amy is really good, but she's not *that* good.
Bottom line: The next in the series is a definite yes, as soon as the audiobook is released. I know it's in print already, but I'm happy to stay on the audio train for this series....more
"If there was one thing Clay and Caesare had learned from previous missions, it was that when things seemed to be going well…that was just about the t"If there was one thing Clay and Caesare had learned from previous missions, it was that when things seemed to be going well…that was just about the time the bottom usually fell out."
Of course things are going to get messy, but we have faith the good guys will pull through!
If you are a fan of Michael C. Grumley's work, then you can't resist reading the next in the The Breakthrough Series, Ripple. You, just like me, simply have to know what heart-stopping action and scientific discoveries await our team of IMIS researchers and protectors.
In Ripple, we have three storylines in one, and all our favorite The Breakthrough Series characters are here to continue their heroic efforts toward getting all mammalian life on the planet communicating:
Allison and Will are with Sally and Dirk, heading to Trinidad.
DeeAnn, Caesare and Clay are with Dulce and Dexter heading to Rwanda where Dian Fossey did her groundbreaking gorilla research.
Sheng Lam is chasing a frighteningly enhanced (by the alien bacterium) Li Na Wei through China.
And we even have a special appearance from Ronin and Palin, the aliens from the dying ecosystem, the race that was taking our water to replenish their own.
If that isn't enough to make you rush out to buy this book, let's add the promise of All-Star narrator Scott Brick for the Audible version -- coming very soon, I hear! And the impending release of Book 5, Mosaic. I know I couldn't sleep, not knowing what's happening with our IMIS team. Could you? Seriously, they're like family by now....more
I'm in the minority here, but I have to say I didn't find The People to be all that compelling a read. It was a great story idea, creepy like you'd exI'm in the minority here, but I have to say I didn't find The People to be all that compelling a read. It was a great story idea, creepy like you'd expect to find The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, but the writing was unpolished and lacked the clever turn of phrase one expects to find in a published book. Is there potential here? Of course. Is this a stellar first work? Well, in my humble opinion, no. That said, I'd love to read more from Zachary Byrd as he sharpens his creative writing skills over time....more