Category Archives: Book Reviews

Phase Rider

Phase Rider: A LightLit® Book by [Levin, David]

Phase Rider, by David Levin, is a science-fiction novel intended for a young adult/teen audience, published by LightLit. That said, the skill of the writer makes it easy for just about anyone to appreciate the story that unfolds.

There are a lot of things to like about David Levin’s Phase Rider. As a science-fiction story, the futuristic technology that is integral to the story is so well developed that one might wonder how much of it was actually based in reality. Levin creates a world in which specialized space craft can travel many times the speed of light and cross vast distances of our universe in no time at all. Of course, capabilities like those open doors for numerous engaging story elements that were a lot of fun to read.

The plot is another positive point for Phase Rider. There are certainly no shortage of sci-fi books out there that deal with the possibility of total destruction of the human race but Levin manages to approach the topic from a unique angle that many will enjoy. Phase Rider is a well-crafted story that is able to easily develop an engaging plot line.

There are a few direct messages and moral life lessons that I always enjoy having embedded in a story; however, there are times where the message seems more important than the continuity of the story line, which creates a disconnect from the story in certain areas. It would have been better to hide the messages a bit more, as doing so would allow readers to ‘discover’ these elements on their own.

Phase Rider is a well-written book that possess its own unique qualities in a fairly saturated genre. The author finds ways to bring life and intrigue into otherwise dry topics. The well crafted characters in this story possess a sense of humanity I rarely see in other novels. Minor quibbles aside I was invested in this story until the very end because of the interesting characters and captivating plot. Levin has certainly created a book that will be enjoyed by many.

Pages: 176 | ASIN: B07TX2T9MS

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Cycles of Norse Mythology

Cycles of Norse Mythology by [Searfoss, Glenn]

There are many stories about the Norse realm. Only a few are common and easily accessible. Glenn Searfoss gives readers access to more than just the common ones. The reader gets more dimensions with regards to the characters in the fictional universe. This book is a rewrite of the stories on Norse mythology with a fresh voice and packed with exciting tid bits. The book offers a revamped look at all the suffering, victories and battles of the characters in Norse mythology accompanied by a glossary for a better reading experience.

This may be a rewritten version but it sure does not feel like one. The author has such a talent with words and phrases. The stories read like a symphony. With a captivating melody that makes the reader inch closer with every sentence they consume. It leaves the reader feeling like they are floating through a universe with endless possibilities with all their favorite heroes and characters. The author packs all the action and adventure possible into this book with ease.

One thing that the reader will note from the very beginning is the depth of research that has gone into this book. It is uncanny how one person can have such a mastery of the Norse universe, characters and everything in between. It is a sign of obvious passion and curiosity about the subject matter. The author’s understanding is the basis for their unique and original voice. This is actually quite infectious. For a person who is not a fan of mythologies, these stories will sure make them into definite enthusiasts.

If you have encountered characters like Thor and Odin, this book will make you fall even deeper in love with these characters and many more just like them. The author has carefully sculpted each character to have a unique element while also maintaining their original and beloved qualities. To take characters that have already been established and to give them a fresh coat of personality but still managing to keep their usual façade takes pure brilliance.

The voice of the author that comes through their retelling is provocative and fulfilling. The stories themselves are evocative and exciting. The imagery is borne of sheer talent and brave application of language. Any lover of mythology, regardless of age, and related fictional works will surely enjoy Cycles of Norse Mythology.

Pages: 838 | ASIN: B07QKL9CRK

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Lasting Photographs

Lasting Photographs by [Barbano, Luigi]

John Ragnar has found himself on the cusp of a discovery that will lead him in a direction he never anticipated. When he comes across a box of photographs, he sets out to identify not only the owner of the photographs, but he wants to put names with the faces in them. One woman in particular catches his eye, and he makes it his mission to identify her as he embarks upon a journey which takes him across the globe in search of someone who might be able to tell him more about this woman who otherwise remains an enigma.

Lasting Photographs, by Luigi Barbano, details the adventure upon which one man sets in order to find the owners of photographs he discovers in a box on the beach. His mission takes him to Italy, and by his side is the woman he has only known for two days and met by pure chance but with whom he has instantly fallen in love.

For as engaging as the plot of Barbano’s story is, the text seems to lack something in the way of relationships. I feel there is a good bit of narrative for a story that could easily have been rich with dialogue between the two main characters, John and Katia. As a reader, I enjoy immersing myself in the conversations of the characters and count on dialogue to contribute to the rising action. Barbano’s descriptions of John’s plight and the lengths to which he goes to retrieve information about the woman pictured in the mysterious photographs are more than adequate for developing the plot. However, I can’t quite get past the fact that more dialogue could have enhanced the entire story line.

In addition to the lack of dialogue, Barbano’s work feels a bit cut and dry for its genre. This blend of realistic and historical fiction consists of, in many cases, brief and straightforward paragraphs. Readers will not find the flowery language they might expect to find describing the scenes in Italy. Readers more interested in mysteries will appreciate the point-blank way in which Barbano addresses the dilemmas at hand and jumps right into the pursuit of the photographs’ origins.

Barbano goes to great lengths to include technical aspects in his writing. As a photographer himself, he does a phenomenal job of incorporating the most finite details of photography into his story. The author is also adept at weaving the complicated language of the mechanics of flight into his plot. Readers who appreciate text more focused on technical language will find this book a delight.

While I enjoyed the overall story line in which John and Katia make it their sole mission to recover the meaning behind the lost photos, it is my preference to read fiction in which characters’ interactions take precedence over narrative. Lasting Photographs is a short read and one where readers with an avid interest in photography will find to be a worthwhile pick.

Pages: 200 | ASIN: B07VLW1CYS

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Shirley F’N Lyle

Shirley F'N Lyle: VIVA the REVOLUTION by [Lindemuth, Clayton]

Shirley F’N Lyle: Viva the Revolution (Book One in Chick Grit Lit Series) by Clayton Lindemuth is a fiction story about a hooker named Shirley Lyle who is tired of being treated like she doesn’t matter, and she’s not going to take it anymore. She wants to be someone different, someone better. Viva the Revolution. She and her friend Ulyana, a stripper, have decided to make men pay for their actions. But things don’t go as planned, and the two women find themselves running from a drug dealer after they killed his son. The drug dealer isn’t the only person they have to worry about, however. When Ulyana disappears–possibly murdered–will Shirley be next?

There was a lot of action in this book, plus the mystery of Ulyana’s disappearance, which held my interest in the story. The story line was dark, but there was enough humor in the book to lighten it. I liked Dr. Kristanna Rong’s character and the encouragement she gave Shirley to make a change in her life. I was hoping for her to be a larger part of the story, but she only appeared in the beginning. I also liked that there was a slight romantic element with Donal O’Laughlin wanting to date Shirley rather than paying for her services.

I enjoyed reading the back and forth between Shirley and the “voices”  in her head as she argued with herself. Old Shirley versus Viva Shirley. Shirley’s imagination was very amusing, including her superwoman day dreams about making the men who had done her wrong pay for their treatment of her and other women.

But I felt like Shirley walked into a few situations that would have gotten her killed in real life, when her spunky attitude alone wouldn’t have saved her. Some of the descriptions of violence and injuries were a bit graphic and gory. Conversely, there were only minimal descriptions of the setting. I prefer books with vividly described settings that add depth to a story, which I felt it was lacking in this book. The beginning of this book was a bit confusing, switching between various points of view made it hard to figure out how everything was connected.

But overall Shirley F’N Lyle is a fantastically entertaining novel that puts interesting characters in interesting situations. The drama that ensues is enthralling and ultimately uplifting.

Pages: 302 | ASIN: B07SMN6H3V

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Sleep State Interrupt

Sleep State Interrupt by [Weber, T.C.]

If most contemporary sci-fi is headed in the direction that Sleep State Interrupt is taking, I will be more than pleased. And a lot more concerned for humanity. Sleep State Interrupt tells the tale of protagonist Waylee who wrestles Big Media’s omnipresent influence. In this dystopian world, the government and people are heavily influenced and practically controlled by the media that surrounds them. Waylee and a couple of her technologically proficient friends plan a simple but brilliant plan to end this problem. They decide to capture and bring to light some incriminating dialogue that will shed light on how truly awful the situation has turned. However, she faces hefty roadblocks along the way, that occupy both her inner and outer world.

The premise of this story is like Mission Impossible meets the Avengers, but smarter in its portrayal of a dystopian world. There’s no question about the role media plays these days. Targeted advertising, subliminal influencing, endless privacy violations- all this is already unsettling. Weber takes this concept and pushes it to a terrifyingly believable level. The story is heavy on politics without naming names, I feel like I could probably point out some similarities in their evil politicians and our own.

One of the more interesting aspects of the book was that it forced me to take a stance on some issues that I would generally avoid thinking about it. There are a lot of moral and philosophical questions that are subtly posed throughout- and it’s a refreshing take for a cyber sci-fi novel.

Weber has clearly put in a lot of effort to nonchalantly feature a diverse set of characters. While all of them were interesting and unique, sometimes the characteristics felt a bit forced. Waylee’s character on the other hand was a masterpiece. From the realistic perspective offered on her disease to her upbringing and environment, her protagonism was undeniable. I could tell where all her actions and motivations were coming from.

I have always enjoyed politically-charged thrillers because it brings to light the fact that humanity is capable of creating its own nightmarish vision. Sleep State Interrupt portrays this with clarity and believability, without compromising all the fun that a government takedown story offers.

Pages: 331 | ASIN: B01KKMA1D8

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The Final Wars Rage

The Final Wars Rage (Final Wars Trilogy Book 2) by [Asthana, S. A.]

The Final Wars Rage: Book 2 is a thrilling and intriguing science fiction book that will make you fall in love with the author’s mind. The book is the second novel in ‘The Final Wars’ trilogy. One of the most stimulating things in how the author writes is how keep makes your mind occupied throughout the book. I was always kept at the edge of my seat waiting for the next, sure to come, plot twist. S. A. Asthana showcases their creativity and imagination in this book, creating some of the characters so adeptly that I became attached to them. The book does not start with intense action, but rather a slow and simple introduction that prepared me for the events that were to follow.

Bastien Lyons had escaped from the filthy and unforgiving streets of New Paris to live on the moon colony Nippon One. Bastien had chosen a different identity. But even with the new identity, he is still in danger. It was a shame that even with all the efforts, Bastien could not afford to save New Paris from getting damaged. The shockwaves of the damaged civilization were spreading through the solar system. I appreciated the palpable friction between the two. The damage was bigger than all could have imagined.

Bastien is prudent and sharp-eyed in his own unique ways. He could see the tension and was aware that something terrible and destructive was bound to happen. Profession wars occurred, thus indicating the possibility of extreme and intense battles. Pirates hit back to avenge the elimination of Parisian euphoria drug factories and gangs. The Yakuza started wars to be in charge of what is left on Nipponese streets. Meanwhile, cyborg queen Marie Dubois survived on. All of this goes to show how deep the backstory goes, and how intricately all of these different ideas interweave in a captivating way that kept me glued to the pages.

The Final Wars Rage: Book 2 places you in a dystopian world where anything is possible. The technology combined with Japanese culture, war, Artificial Intelligence, violence and belligerence in characters made the book a unique read that is high in social comentary. The conversations between allies and enemy camps were entertaining. S. A. Asthana has written a book that will leave science fiction fans yearning for more.

Pages: 313 | ASIN: B07WV5ZRWM

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Somewhere Enchanted

Somewhere Enchanted by [T., J.F.]

Somewhere Enchanted is a short story by J.F. T. focusing on the troubles of the village Elnubrium. For generations, tales have been passed down about the forest surrounding the town. Suspicions, enchantment, and sheer fear keep anyone from entering the forest, thus preventing an ever-expanding community from thriving. That is until one day, one heroic warrior tires of watching his village crumble before him and sets out to dispel the myth once and for all.

This is a quick read, but this reduction in pages certainly does not detract from a well-written story. An almost fairy tale/mythical retelling but one aimed at the adult reader, what’s not to love?

I genuinely loved this tale. Initially, I had expected it to be somewhere cheesy, as are many re-tellings and morally led stories you read as an adult. However, this was well constructed, delivered, and excellently paced to match.

The description of the forest and what waited for Grettos was equally as enjoyable as the prose itself. Grettos is a well-drawn character, even in just a few short paragraphs. He emulates the strength and masculinity of a strong protagonist, alongside a caring nature not only shown to his wife but to the wider village.

A fun tale that highlights the problematic power of rumor, Somewhere Enchanted started perfectly and left me with a smile on my face after the last few lines. It’s a tale that I won’t forget anytime soon!

Pages: 28 | ASIN: B07Y6Q71KW

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The Turing Revolt: The War Against Infinity

The Turing Revolt: The War Against Infinity by [Bartlett, Rob]

Good old Captain Milo Sapphire just trying to live his best life. His life’s purpose is to travel all over, hang out with his ship and beautiful women. That is, until he is roped into a bare bones plan to revolt against the patriarchy. They have a secret he would rather not have exposed. Interesting interactions with ‘Ms Sexypants’ seem to up the ante every time. How will good old Milo fare against her delectable talents? Can they really win against the Emperor? What will come of Isaac and the ship whose name could forever be ingrained in history?

This is a wonderful bit of literary art with so many unlikely elements woven in. Despite this unlikely cocktail of characters, everything seems to be surprisingly seamless. The development and flow of the story remains uninterrupted by the gradual revelation of details about different characters. I found that I had trouble putting this book down. This book has a delicious mix of science fiction with AI and vampires among other imaginative creatures. The author really did go outside of the genre to develop this book from the plot to the characters and everything in between in an interesting and unique way.

Rob Bartlett displays an uncanny ability to jolt the imagination and engage the reader in every bit of the unexpected turns this book takes. It is quirky and funny, not to mention oh so delightfully crass. The writing is intentionally brilliant designed to deliver the story in a charming, casual and flirty fashion. It makes for a relaxed atmosphere as you exercise your brain trying to figure out the AI workings of good friend Isaac. It keeps you on the edge of your seat with action filled scenes and laugh out loud anecdotes.

Milo is the kind of character you can never measure up to but live to be inspired by. He exists with such structured abandon and welcome dominance. He conjures up an image of a salt and pepper haired individual whose vast expanse of knowledge is not flaunted but rather felt and otherwise sensed. His relationship with Isaac is heartwarming and his leadership capabilities are awe-inspiring.

This book manages to be evocative, funny, and interesting, but remain, at its core, a book about mistaken identities. This book also teaches one not to play their hand until it is time. This is an exceptional book that I recommend to anyone looking for an engaging book.

Pages: 513 | ASIN: B07VZW8Z7M

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Revealers and Revelations

Revealers and Revelations delves deep into the reach philosophy has on different things. The book begins with an exploration of some of the greatest philosophers of all time. It continues with a bit about the convergence of disciplines like medicine with philosophy. It then ends with an introduction of human nature and philosophy. Between all of this the book even untangles cancer and genes.

It has been said that philosophy is perhaps one of the most multi-dimensional disciplines out there. The good Doctor does a great job of presenting philosophy in the simplest language possible. This is usually a subject that baffles many as it is riddled with discombobulating elements. The ease with which the subject mater is presented in Revealers and Revelations is instrumental in enjoyi9ng the book as well as promoting participation in the reader. There is something to be said for an academic who is capable of making abstract ideas attainable for people who lack the training to understand technical language but possess boatloads of curiosity and interest.

Dr. Lakhwinder Singh Multani has taken time to comb through the work to ensure this book is well researched. The author’s own passion shines through. He chips in with his own opinions and beliefs lending the book a well appreciated personal touch which turns the reading experience into more of a conversation. Reading through, you get the feeling as the reader that your opinions would be welcome and embraced.

The cover is a silhouette with a sunset as the backdrop. It is beautiful and makes one curious about what is contained in the book. However, it may be a tad misleading. Maybe this is misplaced but most books with such covers tend to be religious which is not this book at all. The title, while fitting, may also feel a little simplistic to some considering the intensity of the subject matter. When you get down to it though, these do not take anything away from the book. It is still a necessary read for anyone who is looking to understand the world more.

Revealers And Revelations: A philosophic approach to scientific literature is an exceptional book that has wide appeal. The subject matter is compelling and the author’s style of writing is engaging and beguiling. It is a book dealing in a heavy subject matter but delivering it simply. It makes for a wonderful conversation starter.

Pages: 147 | ISBN: 938885585X

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High School Queens

High School Queens (The High School Queens Trilogy Book 1) by [Ryan, Zachary]

What is it about high school that brings out the worst in people? The hormones, the pressure to know your future, the mind games? Probably all of the above. Zachary Ryan pens his first book in a series, High School Queens set at Johnson Prep, and complete with all the rich, narcissistic, angst filled teens that any drama queen could ask for. This story delves into a darker, edgier version of high school antics, with exhortation, blackmail, physical and emotional abuse. A One Tree Hill meets Lord of the Flies vibe.

High School Queens packs a deep emotional punch and the depth of the character’s issues are interesting and intriguing. The book tackles a myriad of issues: Alcoholism, eating disorders, self harm, family loyalty, abuse and a whole gamut of complex issues that face youth today. Zachary Ryan attributes the necessary attention to these issues with detail and heart equally. However, I felt that there was detail lacking in certain places? What does Johnson Prep look like? The picture of the story feels incomplete for the lack of setting.

Johnson Prep has a lack of diversity, which is not surprising, but the one Spanish character is poor and the one Indian character is trapped in a ultra traditional family. The cliche here is painful because the author has a clear knack for creating intriguing and well defined characters otherwise. Readers can relate to Andrew, Danielle, Aman and Delilah, root for them and become invested in their characters. The endless cattiness and shallowness by the Marked Queen starts as fun and entertaining but gets repetitive where I would have liked to see creative twists.

The climax of High School Queens is set against the back drop of prom, but the character’s stories don’t all end on the same note and there were some surprises that were developed and unveiled superbly. There is a cliffhanger that sets up for the continuation of Johnson Prep’s students but for next installment of High School Queens to match the high bar set here I expect to see more flavor, humor and twists.

Pages: 311 | ASIN: B07PXFZVLF

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