Carla Trystan has spent her life running from monsters. She never understood why she was different, or why she didn’t age. She just followed her instincts and ran whenever she encountered someone that wasn’t human. Vampires, shapeshifters, Djinn and Fae are all involved in this mystery. Azrael is tracking down rogue shifters, and in this hunt, he runs into Carla, he knows instantly she is his one true mate. Carla only knows she is surrounded by monsters and needs to get away but stays to save the young coworker of hers that the rogue has taken hostage. From this point Carla is now part of hunting party. Azrael introduces her to the many supernatural beings that become involved in this much deeper plot than he or the council of Laizahlia ever expected.
This is the second book by Denna Holm I have read, Rise of a Warrior did not disappoint me at all. The novel starts out with Carla telling readers that she has to run again. You can feel the fear she has, but at the same time, her deep desire to protect her friends in the diner. The desire to protect humans is a Laizahlia trait that she is unaware of in her genetic makeup. Over the first few chapters we learn just how strong Carla is. Her need to run isn’t just fear, it is survival. Azrael finds her and she starts handing everything he throws at her in stride. Going from knowing there are monsters out there, to learning you are one is intense, and Holm lets the reader experience all of it with her detailed and precise writing style.
You can find hundreds of books out there on shapeshifters, vampires, fae, and other creatures, but Holm’s version of these beings feels fresh and different. She isn’t taking the same old character sheets and giving them new names, she instead has taken traditional “knowns” about these beings and enhanced them. They come to life more and are relatable in their thoughts and actions. This book is hard to put down because the characters are so engaging, and you get attached and want to know how things turn out. The plot line is complex and layered. It isn’t just a simple story; it builds as it goes and you uncover more and more players all twisted together. There is the building romance of Carla and Azrael, but I wouldn’t classify this as a romance novel, the relationship is just part of the story and mystery, not the end all destination.
While Rise of a Warrior is book five in this series, it stands on it’s own but leaves you wanting more. With so many plot lines twisted you know there will be more to explore, more questions to answer, and even some more romance to build.
Pages: 398 | ASIN: B08KLB36FX
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From the New York Times bestselling author of the Minecraft-inspired Gameknight999 series with over 2 million copies in print.
Who do you trust when you can’t believe your eyes?
A nuclear apocalypse has devastated the human race, turning survivors into four groups of warring Giants, tree-dwelling Dryads, remnant humans, and evil radioactive scavengers. But, not everyone appears as they seem.
Brianna MineShaker was born a giant. However, she’s smaller than normal, bullied by her peers, and exiled to Harmony School, a place for misfits.
At Harmony, there is little peace as Brianna’s size continues to attract abuse, leaving her as an outcast. But then, she witnesses a shocking event…something is taking over the bodies of the other giants at the school.
Faced with an impossible choice, Brianna must venture into the dangerous Wastelands to find the truth, a place where no one has ever made it back alive.
There is no one to trust, except three unexpected companions. If their plan fails, Brianna will never make it home or even survive to help save her family.
Beware of what lurks in the Wastelands. But, also beware of a little giant with a big attitude.
Perfect for fans of the Hunger Games, Divergent, and the Maze Runner series, The Giant’s Giant is a gripping story of a dystopian world transformed by bravery, tolerance, and friendship. Start reading today.
Mark Cheverton is a former high school physics and math teacher, who became a research physicist, and now is an internationally published New York Times bestselling author, with 24 novels on bookshelves worldwide.
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Dead Earth Dreaming details a dystopian future rife with classism that tests the human spirit. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
As a teenager involved in the punk scene in the 80s, watching the public assets of Australia being privatised and sold off by the government to create a surplus despite the long term ramifications was outrageous, and we as citizens were powerless to do anything about it. By the 90s international globalism was on the rise along with entertainment technology to distract the masses, and before you knew it the general public was missing the bigger picture of the corruption that was going on around them. Ignorance is bliss, but standing outside of the box at that time made it obvious what was happening to the world.
I started writing Dead Earth Dreaming from page 1 without a plan, no step-sheet, and no idea where it would head. I still write like that because to me it flows and goes where it wants, making it exciting to sit down and write instead of a chore. I couldn’t get DED traditionally published at the time, but with some of the recent events happening now like Covid, the prospect of Moon mining, and the satellite technology dependence that is now used every day, I felt I had to get it out there even if just a few people read it.
Kelly is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind the characters development?
Kelly is an innocent, like a child still who has never had a chance to develop within himself. Everything in the outside world is new to him and yet he understands values and morals even though from an almost naive point of view.
His perspective is from an ancestral memory of his indigenous heritage that was introduced into his cloning by whatever means, and I guess it’s a reflection on the plight of the “Stolen Generation” of Australian Aboriginal people who were removed from their families for being “half-caste” never to see them again, as recently as the 1970s in this country. It’s a blight on this nation and an embarrassment for the Government still to this day. Some of those people are only now finding long lost family members.
But as well as the First Nation angle, Kelly earned his name from the great Australian Bushranger Ned Kelly who has a legendary status amongst Aussie battlers for being a Colonial anti-authoritarian figure. He fought his shootouts with the police wearing a steel armour suit fabricated by himself and his brothers, but ultimately died in a gunfight whence his last words were “Such is life”, now a common phrase used in Australia.
The other main character not so far mentioned is Junger, the Upside detective sent for his retrieval. Kelly and Junger are two sides of the same coin. Whereas Kelly has been incarcerated his whole life for thinking freely, Junger walked the line and lived as he should do, but felt discontent and resentment so he was never really free either. He did what he was told even if he felt it was wrong but was conditioned to never question authority, and so was constantly living with internal conflict.
The story explores many societal issues common today and taken to future extremes. What were some themes you wanted to focus on in this book?
I think the theme of Anarchism used in the story is in retrospect probably a bit naive considering human nature can be such a savage beast, but I wanted to stay centrist and criticise all of the above, not just one side of partisan politics. You could say every social movement evolves and mutates, but unfortunately the eyes of business and profit are always watching too. Without getting involved in specifics, when a social movement becomes too political you have to question why and who is actually funding the agenda, and if it involves violence of any sort then it has crossed the line into urban terrorism.
In Dead Earth Dreaming I imagined people actually caring about each other’s welfare at a personal level rather than a political level, and striving together to beat the odds stacked against them as a community.
But in the end, I really just had a hell of a lot of fun writing it and I hope it’s fun to read, because that’s what it’s about, entertainment and a chance to escape for a few hours into another world.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’ve completed a few stories over the years since this my first novel, but they were unfinished as novels and written into screenplay format as an effort to break into film. Although seemingly to my detriment, it did give me an improved perception on description by objective viewing rather than telling, but now I have the epic task of conversion into novel form.
Next book to work on is Alien~Gothic, in 2005 as a screenplay it was well received by several major LA agents but I was told it would be way too expensive to produce, especially for an unknown writer. It is a story that explores the origins of man, and the mythologies of early civilisations that seem to be linked by certain key factors of the Creators that came from the sky. It follows the story of an average man who finds a crystal skull grown in a single formation into the shape of an alien grey skull, and the Greys and Daemons that are trying to retrieve it from his possession.
Also in the back catalogue is Switch, a DID thriller; Cerise, a ghost horror; and The Runic Guide, a short guide to the use of the Futhark Runes which won the 2006 Writesafe Book of the Year with The Cloud Creek Institute For the Arts.
Finding the time to write while working a full time job heavy lifting at 53 is a challenge, as most of my time off is spent tinkering in the garage, drinking beer and napping.
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Scented reimagines the battle of the sexes by having men’s intelligence reliant on womens DNA in a politically divisive society. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting story?
The last thing the world needs is another novel about race relations. This novel offered me another means to repackage our ability to strip another human being of every ounce of dignity in order to ingratiate ourselves with cohorts. Scented lays bare at the readers feet the nature of man that cannot change regardless of his circumstance.
The dichotomy between The Mantle and the Rune was intriguing. What were some themes you wanted to explore in each party?
I couldn’t help but think about the struggle Europeans went through when large segments of their population fought off the State mandated indoctrination of religious and political ideologies. In fact, just about every era in history is about two factions with different ideologies squaring off at the expense of the common man. It was those very same themes that I wanted to revisit because we really haven’t learned from our past, have we?
I enjoyed the characters in your novel. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Strangely, writing the Jadda’s lines was the best thrill I had writing this novel. There’s something about this middle-aged woman that fascinates me. She has no super power other than her genetic predisposition to retain large streams of data. Yet, she commands with force and her stoic brutally that says more than any line I could have written for her.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on the sequel to Scented at the moment and it should be available in the next two years. I’m a full time teacher, so I can only write when I’m off.
Author Links: Website
Dead Earth Dreaming by Rik Valuks is the story of our future if change does not occur soon! The story follows Kelly, aka C-22108/3, and the detective who’s hunting him down. Kelly is on the run after escaping a corrupt government’s rehabilitation center. Along the way, Kelly meets up with a couple of misfits and befriends an anarchist named Lug. Car obsessed Lug wants to fight government corruption and takes Kelly along for the ride with him. Can Kelly and Lug beat the odds stacked against them? Floating cities, classism, biohazardous-waste, gangs, and anarchy make for an enthralling dystopian tale!
Valuks wrote Dead Earth Dreaming back in 1999, but many of the plot points/devices throughout this novel are eerily similar to current affairs. What may have been surreal in the 90s, like a raging pandemic and climate change, has become real. Valkus is not afraid to tackle these topics and the conspiracies behind them. He does not sugar-coat his prose to comfort the reader; his writing makes you feel the urgency of these real-life issues.
My favorite part about this book was its discussion of classism. Valuks depicts this accurately with the use of segregation, law enforcement brutality, and lack of regard for the less fortunate by the elites. He is able to paint vivid and realistic portrayals of these issues with his descriptive writing.
The character development in this novel is fast paced but never-ending! Valuks covers a majority of Kelly’s backstory within the first chapter! Although, Valuks doesn’t stop there, he continues to flesh out his characters up until the very end of this book. His characters feel like real people, unlike most novels that have characters who resemble mere shells of a human. I must say that at times I felt that this book would benefit from a glossary. With such a complex plot, a glossary of character, city, and event names would have helped the story flow a bit more smoothly.
Valuks has a gift for detailed world-building. In every scene, he describes what the character is seeing down to the smallest of details. He also created a complex but realistic society with its own form of electricity and agriculture. These were nice and appreciated touches. Dead Earth Dreaming is a thrilling dystopian novel that is elevated by the cyberpunk themes it expertly uses to tell a riveting science fiction story.
Pages: 300 | ASIN: B08D3G9LP7
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Scented: The Status Quo by Richard E. Bonostro is an intriguing science fiction book. The story follows Evan a Commissioner of Surveyors tasked by the Senator to destroy Ma’at, an all powerful woman. Evan discovers that his wife Marla is apart of the Mantle, an all female group determined to take capture political power and use it to create equality. This is at odds with The Rune Party, which is an all male society. This turns the story into the ultimate battle of the sexes. The senator is determined to keep the status quo and will do anything to stop the mantle from taking over. Will Evan be able to stop Ma’at, especially when he has so many eyes on him?
It is a little jarring to imagine in order to become fully mature one must have the scent of a woman rather than combining the DNA of a male and female to create a living and breathing human being. Even though the concept is odd I still found the idea to be unique. It was interesting to see women superior to men in this society. Richard E. Bonostro uses this twist to comment on society and put his characters in provocative situations that were consistently riveting.
Scented is an emotional roller-coaster that eloquently combines political issues, corruption and exploitation. Bonostro does a fantastic job building up compelling characters in this story that are authentic and grounded. I was able to immerse myself in the story and understand each side of opposing parties because the character were believable. This book is a fast paced read with rare moments that are held up by exposition. Otherwise, Scented is a riveting dystopian science fiction novel.
Pages: 163 | ASIN: B08FBH2F1G
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A Diary in the Age of Water follows the climate-induced journey of Earth through four generations of women with a unique relationship to water. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting novel?
It started with one of my short stories: “The Way of Water”. I’d been asked by my publisher in Rome (Mincione Edizioni) to write a speculative socio-political short story about the environment—water, particularly. I wanted something ironic, so I chose water scarcity in Canada, a nation rich in water. The story was about young Hilde—the daughter of the diarist in the novel—who was dying of thirst in Toronto. This is a Toronto under the control of the international giant water utility CanadaCorp—with powers to arrest and detain anyone. A world in which China owns America and America, in turn, owns Canada. I realized that I needed a larger story: on how Canada became this water-scarce nation as indentured state; more on Hilde’s mysterious limnologist mother, Lynna (the diarist in the novel); and more on what happens next (explored through Kyo and her strange world of the future).
Kyo is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind the character’s development?
Kyo starts and ends the story in the sacred boreal forest of the far future. she’s a blue-skinned multi-armed human being—essentially a water-being—looking for answers why the world is the way it currently is due to climate change and other things humanity has caused. She frames the gritty diary part of the story. Kyo represents the future. She’s also a young girl, and in some ways, her part of the story is a coming of age, of self-discovery and growing maturity. Given her metaphoric connection to water, the planet and a new humanity of sorts, Kyo’s character serves as a metaphor for humanity and its own coming of age.
The novel expertly captures a post-climate changed world and the changes it effects on society. What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?
A Diary in the Age of Water is a cautionary dystopian tale that is based on real events and precedents. This is partly why I wrote some of the book as a diary. The diarist—Lynna—is a limnologist who sees what is going on but because she is right in the middle of it, she lacks the perspective to recognize the gravity of some of the things she is witnessing and doing herself. She exercises a myopic protectionism that backfires on her time and time again. Perhaps the main theme of this book is one of perspective and how that perspective can influence actions and reactions in surprising ways. Information and knowledge isn’t enough—as Lynna demonstrates. Context and understanding, fueled by compassion and kindness must accompany it.
Ultimately, the book carries themes of hope and forgiveness—of ourselves and each other—and compassion for all things, starting with water. Each character carries an aspect of that theme, from the diarist’s activist mother, to the diarist’s own cynical protectionism, her spiritual anarchist daughter, and lastly the innocent storm of the last generation.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently researching and working on the sequel to “A Diary in the Age of Water”—a thriller about four lost and homeless people who find their way when a phenomenon brings them together through a common goal to free the Earth from the manacles of human greed. The story takes place throughout Canada—from Halifax to Vancouver and the Arctic. It takes place mostly during the 2050s, and features a few ghosts, the Halifax 1917 Explosion, experimentation on humans, espionage, murder, and—of course—a plague. I’m calling it my COVID19 novel…
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Master Defiance follows the survivors of a post-apocalyptic earth who must defend themselves against invading aliens. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
I wanted to suggest that human beings can survive a series of natural and man-made disasters. The setting is a dystopian Earth, but humans are still humans. The hunter-gatherers in the remote regions are toughing it out. But they need a little help from the past. Far-thinking ancestors have left behind Mother, a benevolent AI entity, and a vast store of knowledge. Young bow hunters discover and befriend Mother during a desperate quest for help. Mother helps them with advice, and she can defend herself, much to the surprise of the arrogant Masters.
The Masters were intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their development?
While I appreciate that faster-than-light travel sets up amazing sci-fi story possibilities, my books try to stay within the realm of the possible. Master Defiance suggests that intelligent beings can explore (and try to conquer) our galaxy at say 4% of light speed, if they are adapted (or genetically modified) to living for eons in a generation spaceship. This means vast expanses of time are required to move between stars, which could frustrate fans of ‘super warp speed’ using ‘ludicrous drive’ (a Spaceballs invention). The Masters are further developed during the series, as they are vindictive and persistent. They are also a tri-variant species, as revealed in Covert Alliance. And they view human beings as inferior, and only good slave material after gene-splicing. So, they are creatures that readers will love to hate!
I liked the contrast between the advanced aliens and the regressed humans. How did you want to represent this dichotomy?
Yes, the humans are technologically regressed, but they have retained their humanity. Yes, the Masters are technologically advanced, but they are inhuman. They view other worlds as theirs to conquer, and other species as theirs to enslave. Fighting the Masters is about saving our species, and about saving our humanity.
What do you try to do first when you write, inform or entertain?
Entertain a thinking person.
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