Payback – Book Review

(Warning this review contains the use of one curse word.)

Payback by Michael Botur is the second book in the Lockdownland series. This gritty thriller follows Eden Shepherd as she does her best to recover from not only being in the dreadful survival dome of Moneyland and than being imprisoned after a rough kangaroo court session. Eden is finally free. Though not really. While she was locked away, most of the world seems to have finally downloaded, the singularity happened years ago, and humanity has finally given in and accepted the virtual life. Eden wants to find her dad and settle somewhere with her family naturally, but that goes differently than planned.

Now I am going to be honest upfront. This book, and the series in general, is not for the weak of the heart. If you are offended by anything of a dark nature, skip this series entirely. Michael Botur’s work is not for you. However, if you enjoy exploring the gritty, dark, and disgusting aspects of the human soul, you are in for a real treat. This book uses a lot of foul language and has some simple rough descriptions of bodily functions, violence, and implications of sex. What one would expect from the end of humanity as a mother tries to survive it with her daughter. This book also contains a few ‘holy fuck’ moments. Why the use of a curse word here? Because honestly, that is the best way I can describe it. I won’t tell you what it is, but I had to put the book down, refill my drink and take a few moments regarding what I just read. If you have read this book, you know exactly what I am talking about.

So, with descriptions and warnings out of the way, is this book worth picking up? Well, as long as you consider what I told you above, I suggest this novel. You are in for a roller coaster of a ride. Please pick it up. You will not regret it.

Drive – An Expanse Short Story Review

This review contains not only my honest opinion but a affiliate link for Audible that will lead you to the story. If you sign yup for Audible using my link I get a percentage of the money and it will be used to support this blog. For more information on my affiliate disclosure please see this page.

So some time ago, I started watching The Expanse on Amazon Prime. I know picking up any Amazon show, more so one based on a set of books is a touch-and-go, which is odd, given how the company became so popular. Anyway, naturally being more of a reader than a watcher, I opted to see what I could find about the books the series was based on. I found the series on Amazon, and even better, I found it on Audible. Perfect. I can multitask, getting stuff done around the house and satisfying my curiosity.

Since Audible has the collection labeled by order, I have been going down the list. The first part I listened to was a short story that is part of the series Drive. Drive is, of course, written by the author of the series James A. Corey and is, as I stated before, a short story, which makes it a concise read or on Audible, only about an hour of a listen. While I have not read the series so far, many of the reviews in the comments stated that Drive is optional to take in the rest of the series, but it sure is an enjoyable story.

The story of Drive follows Solomon Epstein as he experiments with a ship he purchased without his wife’s permission. (Never a good idea, guys and gals.) It also flashes back to his life, meeting his wife and friends he spent time with when he was younger. I will not be going into fine details as this is a short story and a quick listen. It would be far too easy to ruin the plot for those unfamiliar with the story. However, I am currently interested in reading more. I may go back and compare the series as I go.

Oh yeah, and if you want to check out Drive and Audible, feel free to use my link here!

Dark Cascade – Book Review

Dark Cascade (Galacticide) by Bert-Oliver Boehmer is a sprawling space epic that ranges multiple races and characters, soaring through dark voids and zealous AIs and reality-bending multi-universe concepts. This story follows Kel Chaada as he travels through the galaxy attempting to prevent another galaxy-wide devastating event by taking the fight directly to the enemy’s home. This story is filled to the brim with amazingly creative alien races, some humanoid some as far away from human concepts as possible. It is difficult, to sum up, this novel in a way that will give it any credit as so much happens. And the whole ordeal is exciting!

I honestly am finding it hard to describe this fantastic novel in a limited word count. This novel offers so much from the fantastic super dramatic aspects expected of a space drama to science fiction world-building that puts many a classic to shame. I found the alien races, in particular, to be particularly interesting to read about. Many science fiction novels will pile on hundreds of humanoid aliens never really departing from what we know. The races in Bert-Oliver Boehmer’s work are so varied that I can not even list them here. As stated before the world-building of Dark Cascade is heavy and multi-layered, you can tell a lot of time and love went into this book. I know after reading this I plan on going back to read more of Boehmer’s work. I would suggest any sci-fi fan does the same. Totally worth it!

Reviewed for Reader’s Favorite

Dusk Upon Elysium – Book Review

Dusk Upon Elysium follows Geoff as he does his best to cope in a world that has been overcome by the dreadful Nergal virus, a terrible disease said to have infected even plants and animals. Locked away inside small enclosed homes with only government-distributed work and food to keep them busy, the people of the world trudge along assuming what they are told by the news outlets is true. There is hope, however. A virtual reality program called Paradiso allows people to escape their troubles and reality into the paradise they always wished they could have had before their lives were torn apart by disease and questionable government tactics. nothing bad could come from this situation. What could happen here?

I found Dusk Upon Elysium to be a really exciting book one that I found managed to skirt the line of being just similar enough to our post-COVID reality without being too close for comfort. That nearness in the story, while done in many a dystopian novel, particularly the ones written in the last few years, is particularly well done by Tamel Wino in this novel. I found the slight hint of biological horror and the ideas of what could be happening outside of the assumed safe homes of the people of the world intriguing. Even more so I found the mental tribulations of the people of the story even more exciting. Geoff and other characters are thrown through a variety of mental turmoil that is both relatable and traumatizing. 

Reviewed for Reader’s Favorite

Cinder – Book Review

I have stumbled on to another surprising library find. Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a dark retelling of the classic story. Following Cinder, and abused young woman in a future where World War IV has ravaged the world that has become a single Empire whose greatest enemy is i their not so distant Lunar cousins. Cinder it turns out, is not just an abused young woman in this telling of the classic fairytale, but in fact a Cyborg, made so because of a childhood accident. This is not as cool as it sounds, as Cyborgs in New Beijing are considered less than human.

This young adult novel is a exciting tale. While I have read many a fairytale rewrite, this one kept my attention with its gritty under belly and politics of a seemingly at peace futuristic Earth. The characters and their thoughts, and paranoias plus the explanations of the various ‘magics’ that take up this world all fit nicely in to a fun science fiction novel that any fan of the genre would enjoy. Like most young adult novels, there is an aspect of romance, however while it has a center point in the story, it is far from the main characters only concern making the story feel a whole lot more related than just another fawning teenager story.

In short, if you are looking for an exciting fairy tale retelling, I strongly suggest you pick up Cinder.

Kingdom of Acatalec – Book Review

After reading S.M. McCoy’s Divine series, I was thrilled when I got an email a few months ago from her informing me of the first book in her new series. Kingdom of Acatalec. Equally thrilled was I to read it was a science fiction romance, a change from the fantasy aspects of her previous series. As a fan of the author’s writing, I could not help but dive head first into Kingdom of Acatalec and I was certainly not disappointed.

The story of Kingdom of Acatalec follows Tyler Beryl as her best friend pulls her into a complicated drone race, hoping to make some easy money and get out of dodge. She soon finds out that the group running this race are aliens. But have no fear, dear review reader, these are not some strange little green men, oh no, these are hunky gorgeous drop dead beautiful tall men that reading about certainly makes one’s day.

S.M. McCoy takes this concept and runs with it. The characters are delightful; the story is thrilling, and the ending is just enough of a cliffhanger that I regularly check her Amazon pages to see when the next book of the Acatalec series is on the way. Pick up this book, particularly if you are a fan of exciting original romance stories.

Pick up Kingdom of Acatalec here!

Believe by Sohail Malik – Book Review

Believe by Sohail Malik is a fascinating tale following a young man as he does his best to survive as a religious worshiper in a world where the religious are slaves to those of the state. Joseph is a first-born child, which means at the age of seventeenth he will be ripped from his family by the state. Despite knowing this will happen, Joseph does his best to cling to a happy life, including marrying his sweetheart. Naturally, when the state comes to claim the firstborn children, Joseph finds himself separated from his loved ones and soon fighting for his life in an attempt to save his fellow enslaved children and get back to his loved ones.

Believe is a well written novel. Sohail Malik has provided us with an exciting dystopian world that, while being similar to other novels, managed to make itself stand out. While there are a good deal of books taking place in twisted futures with hidden dark aspects, most of the time the government who is oppressing the people in these situations is hidden behind the guise of a religious aspect. This makes Believe interesting ad Malik has turned this idea around, giving us a view from the religious oppressed first person view of Joseph, and later on, another lost soul. If you are looking for a story about the oppressed fighting for their right to live peacefully, this is definitely the person novel for you.

This book was reviewed for Reader’s Favorite. Which you can find at this link!

The Warden by John Richter – A review

The Warden is an interesting tale. The story taking place in both the present and a few years from now. The story centers on a world desperately trying to cope with advancing COVID complications as well as how the people being tucked away at home have allowed tech companies to flourish where many other industries have taken horrible hits to their ability to keep their doors open. Many non-essential human workers have been replaced by automated and easy to deal with mechanical workers. All things that are rather relatable in our current world, making the story feel believable, even towards the obviously fictitious parts.

Beyond being relatable in our even changing and coping world, The Warden is told from the perspective of multiple characters. A man who lives in a tower run by an AI created to cater to the needs of people in a world where they cannot leave their homes because of the possibility of a horrible death by illness, the woman who created the AI, and the AI itself. These characters are all well made, their needs and desires folded out nicely creating wonderfully well rounded characters. Even the AI has an interesting personality that makes its actions and reasoning work well in the story.

The story itself is a speculative fiction wonderland that constantly left me wondering what would happen next. Even ending the book on a note that could scream for a sequel but also leaves the story on enough of a mysterious note that fits so well with the rest of the story that the unknown feels like a satisfying close to the story.

So in short, is The Warden worth reading? If you are in to modern day science fiction and mysteries, I would heavily suggest picking this up!

Resistance – Book Review

Resistance is a science fiction novel following the adventure of Major Brett Johnson as he follows the extremely difficult to follow requests of the Space Force and Federalist Worlds to infiltrate the hivemind of Oceania. The hivemind comprising a large portion of the planet’s inhabitants. These hiveminds, or overminds, have a questionable history and maybe believe they need to be ended.

So first, Resistance is a story that will make you think a bit. Brett goes from being insanely against the idea of the hivemind, fearful that he will lose himself, to embracing this. There is a variety of reasons, and I will certainly not go in them all for fear of spoilers, however you leave the book thinking. Did he really change his mind himself? The people are him do seriously influence his views. 

Now, I somewhat think that his opinion changes a bit too quickly and a little drastically. I also felt the initial romance felt a bit forced. However, as the book continues, it starts to feel a bit more natural as the characters actually get to know one another.

So is Resistance worth reading? Most certainly! It is a solid science fiction novel any fan of the genre should pick up!

The Spyder in the Cracked Mirror

Now and then, you pick up the start of a series that leaves you wanting more. A tale that has wrapped up cleanly but with enough enough loose ends to tie in to the next book. The Spyder in the Cracked Mirror by Syrena Seale is one of these books. Book one of the Entropy Beckoning Chronicles, this sci-fi novel leaves you with a curious combination of fear, sadness and adoration for characters who can be as far from human as you can imagine. 

This novel is a rough tale of abuse, affection, brainwashing and going to some extremes to achieve your dream. I know, heavy topics, but handled wonderfully and inside an entertaining tale that by the end leaves you wondering what is going to happen.

The characters are well rounded and you genuinely feel for the trials the characters go through. The story itself is interesting, sending you back and forth through the memories of the main character as you follow him through his very dark and dangerous adventure. 

If you enjoy science fiction with entertaining alien species, some of which can have some very dark, but realistic personalities, this is a must read for you!

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