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GROND: The Raven High

In the year 2086, Earth is exhausted. The seas have been emptied, the bedrock and soil stripped of their resources, and the superheated atmosphere churns with terrible storms. Those who can afford to do so live in the limbo of virtual reality, and the billions who suffer in poverty have no work, no clean water, and no security from the chaos.

The only hope for those trapped on a dying Earth are the Changed—the seven bioengineered post-humans who work in their separate manufacturing facilities orbiting high above the planet. Raised from birth for their work and fully matured at ten years old, their genius provides the nanomaterials that have begun to cleanse Earth of the pollutants that have wiped out almost the entire ecosphere.

But for Olga Voronov, youngest of the Changed, the isolation and endless toil are not the greatest of her challenges. Down on Earth there are those who resent and fear her talents—and would prefer that humanity not be given the second chance that only she could make possible…

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Many Stories to Tell

Mary L Schmidt Author Interview

Mary L Schmidt Author Interview

When Angels Fly is a gripping retelling of one woman’s personal and painful experience with life. What was the inspiration that made you want to write down the experiences from your life?

I became sick and I felt the need to take my journals and digitize them. I knew I would write a book eventually back in 1990. That year was a rough one for me and my family personally and I’ve kept journals most of my life. I had many stories to tell but I wasn’t quite ready mentally or emotionally in going headlong into a 300 plus page book. When 2013 rolled around, I knew then that I was going to put words and stories from my journals into digital format.

You do a wonderful job of capturing your emotions in every retelling. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

The hardest and most difficult part initially was actually going into and reading my journals from 1989 – 1990 as my first book is a memoir. I knew my book had to be written and I knew the many messages in my book needed to be published, so that hopefully I could help others through difficult times in their lives or the lives of others they knew. The timing was right as I had left nursing in December 2012. My first book was extremely difficult since the stories were real. Some days I could write one sentence and then I was done for the day. Other days I could write more.

On really tough days I wanted to just stop and sometimes I did for a week or so. Yet I knew in my mind that I needed to finish my book and get it out to the public. I knew all along what the beginning, middle and end would be and I wondered about publishing my book as well. Now that my book is published, I feel a deep sense of peace within myself.

You touch on topics like abuse, suicide and domestic violence. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

My book reaches a wide group from teenage on up to geriatrics and many facets of humanity itself. I know that my book will help others in dealing with such a wide variety of life’s issues, and that no one needs to feel alone in their own situation. My aim isn’t to convey only sadness and family dysfunction but to convey to others who have been in my situation (or similar) that strength and courage can be attained, and that there are options available. Women and men, too, can get out of abusive situations and the cycle of violence can stop. Losing two boys to Heaven changed my life forever. I want to encourage others who have suffered the King of Loss that anger at God is normal, and that faith in God will come back to them. I want those parents to know they are not alone. If a parent loses a child to a horrid illness, I want those parents not to feel misguided gilt. I want to encourage parents on how to be an advocate for their child and how to reach out for help when the pain overcomes them.

This book is a carefully crafted retelling of some of the most private moments of your past. But what about your future? What do you look forward to and how has your outlook on life changed?

I have made peace with the wrongs in my past. This doesn’t mean that those things never happened, the hurt is still there, but one must forgive others in order to move on in their life on this beautiful blue sphere called Earth. With my health so poor, I just take things day by day, and I try to spend as much quality time with immediate family as I can.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsiteGalleryIMDbPRO

When Angels Fly by [Jackson, S, Raymond,A]

We often find ourselves daydreaming about what our futures will be like. This may be especially true if one lives in an environment most would consider less than desirable. Some are lucky to find their futures much like their childhood dreams. Others find the paths to their dreams strewn with hurdles.

Growing up, Sarah dodged her mother’s blows. She often hid in her room crying about her life. Still, she believes in her future and the happiness it can bring. In their book When Angels Fly, authors S. Stevens and A. Raymond tell Sarah’s story–their stories. The authors use their journals to describe Sarah’s experiences of family dysfunction, strength, courage, faith, abuse, grief, and so much more. You’ll read how, like many, she attempts to escape from her mother’s abuse through marriage. And like many, she learns it is not a viable alternative. Then Sarah experiences a parent’s ultimate tragedy twice, the deaths of her sons, Joshua and Eli.

When Angels Fly is about much more than the telling of a family’s tragedy. It is also the story of finding faith after it has wavered. Most of all, it’s a story of love lost and found.

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The Wagon Driver

The Wagon Driver by [Berardelli, David]

A futuristic, dystopian story which combines elements of mystery, tension, and eccentricity. The Wagon Driver is one of David Berardelli’s many stories inspired by the works of Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Ian Fleming, and Rod Serling.

The story is set in the not-so-distant future where eighteen-year-old Kyle Sonnet lands his first  job as an employee of the Department of Population Control. Population control is the pivotal theme throughout The Wagon Driver, and leaves the reader to believe that Earth’s population is more than it can bare. To resolve this issue, wagon drivers are required to follow ambulances and collect bodies and dispose of them. Unsettling, don’t you think?

Kyle Sonnet is the main protagonist of the story, and instantly you feel a sense of empathy towards him. The early chapters of the book point out themes of isolation and loneliness; illustrated by Kyle’s childhood background of growing up in an orphanage. Now, he has left his younger years and is trying to find his feet. However, when he lands this job and is stated that he “cannot quit”, as a reader, you soon realize that Kyle’s luck has not improved.

What I loved about this book is how the story follows the life of a young adolescent who is simply trying to find his way in the world. Instead of finding a job to gain some independence, Kyle soon realizes that he is in over his head. As the story unfolds, we soon realize that the issue of population control alongside the collapse in the healthcare system, means that euthanasia has taken over. Kyle finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy when he witnesses something of utter horror; Kyle needs to make a crucial decision. Does he continue with his job and accept what has happened, or does he face a challenging escape and risk his life in attempt for resolution?

The story moves at a steady pace, and I was pleasantly surprised by the twist in the narrative. What makes for good reading is uncertainty and uniqueness, and I believe the author of The Wagon Driver does this remarkably. The grammar and punctuation is strong, and the narrative is creative and unique.

The Wagon Driver, a book full of entrapment, isolation, and shock is a great read. An emotive, intriguing and dramatic novel set in a dystopian American society. The story goes against the American dream, and instead shows real concern and fear, in the hope that things can change. At the expense of everyone, the world and how it is portrayed is now simply in the hands of a naïve, inexperienced eighteen-year-old boy.

Pages: 402 | ASIN: B0725V6ZKH

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The Nosferatu Chronicles: Origins

The Nosferatu Chronicles: Origins

The Nosferatu Chronicles: Origins, written by Susan Hamilton is a science fiction novel that tells a vivid story of creatures arriving from space and discovering that the planet they’ve crashed onto isn’t what it seems. The Vambir have been in cryostatis and crash land on Earth in the 15th century. This book meticulously sets the scene for many dramatic events. The Vambir discover they have a taste for human blood as Dracula and his army is growing in strength during the tumultuous 15th century.

The story of the alien Vambir landing on Earth is a fascinating twist on the vampire genre. Author Susan Hamilton does a great job of blending her story with the slow and steady rise of Dracula and his army. Together they allow a macabre blend of science fiction and horror to slowly develop. I felt like the myth of ‘Vlad the Impaler’ could have been developed quicker, so that we could have taken a deeper dive into his present and future, because his character and the time period are so fascinating in this story.

The story switches between the Vambir, a member of Dracula’s army and people who are being told the story about the Vambir later on. Because of this constant switching I sometimes found it difficult to understand what was happening.

The story that has been meticulously developed by Susan Hamilton has no loss of detail and a lot of references to vampire mythology. Susan Hamilton delivers the story with such clarity and simple prose that reading it was effortless. This lends easily to the suspension of disbelief; maybe vampires can come from outer space? This seemed as plausible as vampires, but I was never left questioning any of this, I was just thoroughly enjoying the novel.

As I enjoy vampires and mythological creatures, this book was a lovely and intriguing read that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. Hamilton has created a thrilling story that incorporates the vampire mythology while introducing some interesting new ones. If you enjoy your classic vampires, and want a new science fiction twist then The Nosferatu Chronicles is for you.

Pages: 266 | ASIN: B00X9GWEEM

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The Pace of War

Isobel Mitton Author Interview

Isobel Mitton Author Interview

Across the Realm: When Two Tribes Go To War is the second book in the Across The Realm series that continues the overall story yet is able to stand on it’s own. What direction did you take in this novel that you felt was different from the first book?

In the first book I was introducing my story and how the war that my series is based on came to be. I was giving background information and introducing the main characters. I was also describing this Earth of the 27th century. I knew then that I would write the consequent books in the series based on each territory of the North. There is a book for each one coming.

When Two Tribes go to War is based on the war front of The Arab Territories. That gave me a chance to develop the Arab Territories, show my readers their way of life and their belief systems. I wanted that unique feel of the Middle East.

I created new characters and a new story for the North. I kept my Southern characters intact from book 1. I didn’t use all the Southern characters because I split them up. In each book in the series, four or five of my Southern characters will get center stage. The series gives me a chance to develop them so that the reader gets to know them better.

I would say that When Two tribes go to War goes straight into action and stays there. There is no need for background information because the first book, Across the Realm Life Always Finds a Way had already dealt with that. I could increase the pace of war without being encumbered with explanations. I loved that.

You have a fantastic ability to create three dimensional characters. What was your favorite character to write for and why?

I love all my characters. In fact, I am very protective of them all. But, Khadija stood out for me. She came to me very softly. (I totally believe my characters introduce themselves to me.) She was meek and didn’t have a story to tell for a while. And then she rose and shared with me her past, her present, her strengths and her weaknesses. I fell in love. She lives in a very masculine world and was a child bride whose husband raped her. But, she retained love and compassion despite her hardships and in the war she found her strength.  She was a surprise to me. I had not expected her to develop that way.

What science fiction novels or writers do you feel most influenced you?

I am going to make you laugh at me and admit that I have never read a single scifi novel. Ever. I am however a trekkie to the day I die and I have all of Battlestar Galactica in every way that I could store it. I am a scifi movie or cartoon or comic junkie. Anything scifi and I am there.

My greatest influence in writing. Stephen King. He weaves a world and characters that blow my mind. I read everything he writes and I watch every Stephen King based movie. The shocker is that I don’t like horror stories. His books keep me awake at night, absolutely frightened out of my mind. And that is why I am a fan! That is amazing writing. When I grow up, I want to write like him.

Besides Stephen King, I will have to hand the baton to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. That trilogy blew my mind. I like to think though that the authors who influenced me the most were British Author Enid Blyton of the Famous Five series and William Shakespeare.

Where does book 3 in the Across the Realm series take readers?

Book three, The Land of the Forefathers takes readers to the war front of Asia! The Asian territories get a spotlight. The themes are slavery, heredity and so much more. I must warn my readers that this is a dark story. It is very dark.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Website

Isobel Mitton seamlessly weaves in love, humor, betrayal, loyalty and brutality in a new fantasy novel that stands uniquely on its own. This is one of her best new science fiction books. Across the Realm 2: When Two Tribes Go to War is a reflection from the future that hits close to home as the reader comes to realize that this future world is not so different from our own. There are many fiction books on sale. However this is one of the best science fiction books because it has action, adventure, fantasy, diversity, technology, and more. 

One of the most exciting parts of this tale is its subtle exploration of larger current societal issues like racism; the fuzzy lines of ethics created by scientific advancement and the unwillingness to compromise with those we view as “different” in a futuristic landscape. This Science Fiction Space Adventure will not disappoint. 

Across the Realm 2: When Two Tribes Go to War is a science fiction short story about complex relationships that endure trying times and experiences. Forbidden love, illegitimate pregnancy, strong childhood attachments, betrayal, abuse, and bastard kings reminiscent of the Game of Thrones, all complicated by the rules of a rigid society makes this latest instalment of the Across the Realm franchise difficult to put down.

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Apocalypsia

Apocalypsia

Apocalypsia by Jerry Veit is a saga in the best sense of the word. I was able to read the complete edition of this work, which consists of three books and three parts per book. They detail a post-apocalyptic Earth after what appears to be, for all intents and purposes, the end. Demons comb the land, freed from Hell and what is left of humanity struggles to survive and trust one another. It is left to small bands of warriors to come together and unite the warring factions, otherwise they will all perish with the rising of a new demon army.

The vision that Veit has for this world is expansive. It is also a fun blend of science fiction, fantasy and post-apocalyptic. These elements may seem to much for the casual reader but for Veit they are all ingredients that lend themselves to the epic that this work is. The edition I have, has a couple, very thick appendices, which was helpful for the wide cast of characters Viet details in all of these stories. Some of the terms, locations and overall history of this Earth is also given. All in all the world building that Veit skillfully brings to life is very present and rich for the reader to sink into and lose themselves.

I found Veit’s prose to be stilted in places and I wonder if his work would hold up better in an audio book or audio drama form. He did not shy away from any action and made sure the story kept moving through these pages, especially as the conflict became more and more intense until the dramatic conclusion. He does follow the time tested formula of having a band of hero’s and a singular villain, bent on destruction. The setting he built around this formula is what refreshing for this type of tale and the considerable scale he chose to write it in. The story itself could have been confined to two books but with drawing it out into a third he was able to deepen the plot just enough to please the reader. I won’t say anything else in that regard, lest I spoil the story.

What was difficult was the way that Viet chose to tell his tale. He took some grammatical liberties that a seasoned reader may have trouble reading at first. The most notable one is that Veit does not use traditional dialogue tags or quotation marks but instead uses names labeling who speaks (i.e. ADRIAN: Welcome to Apocalypsia). This is similar to how one labels dialogue in screenplays, which I am aware is in Veit’s background.

All in all Apocalypsia is an epic tale of loss, bravery and learning what it is to be human. Lovers of quests and end of the world tales will find something to enjoy here.

Pages: 387 | ASIN: B0726374N1

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Coming Darkness

Coming Darkness

In Susan-Alia Terry’s novel Coming Darkness myths and legends become real. Known as the Other-kin, angels, demons, werewolves, vampires, and other fabled creatures live among one another. When Archangel Michael appears to seek Lucifer’s help, Lucifer’s comfortable life starts to unravel. The Father and the rest of Heaven are missing, there’s a mysterious black ooze that burns the skin of angels, and an unknown race reveals itself seeking to destroy. As Lucifer struggles with this conflict, his lover Kai sets out to prove himself worthy of respect. But with Lucifer gone, Kai realizes how dependent on the fallen archangel he has become.

I love the world Terry has built in Coming Darkness. She wove together characters from myths and folklore, as well as creatures from different religious sects, to create a seamless and fascinating story. Her characters have distinct personalities, which make the reader want to know more about them and who they are. Terry provides glimpses into interesting backstories – glimpses that explain why Lucifer was exiled from heaven and the relationship he holds with Michael.

There was a lot going on in this novel. Terry uses various sub plots to help us get to know the characters and to move the story along. This is a great technique to use – it adds interest and excitement. It also keeps the reader from becoming complacent since so many things are happening at once.

However, there are so many things going on that I sometimes felt lost, every time I felt I had a direction, the story would change or add a different sub plot. Ultimately, I felt there was too much happening.

The world and characters the author has created are fantastic. Angles on Earth have been written about so many times, but Terry is able to imbue her characters with original personalities that sets this apart from most books in this same genre. The ideas presented were interesting, and I couldn’t wait to read more. There are some steamy sex scenes in Coming Darkness as well. Although I felt that they could have been handled more subtly, they do add another emotional layer to this already thrilling story. Terry’s skills as a storyteller are superb which is why I wish that one or two ideas were really fleshed out so that I could immerse myself in this fascinating story.

If you enjoy reading about werewolves or vampires, or find Lucifer and his fallen angels intriguing, this book would be a good fit for you. Honestly, everything about this book pulls me in and makes me want to like it. As I do with any author with great writing talent, I beg for more focus, detail and character development. Coming Darkness showcases Susan-Alia Terry’s talent and I cant’t wait to read more of her work.

Pages: 258 | ASIN: B01D7MM5IM

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A World of Wonder

A World of Wonder by [Ford, Brent A., Hazlehurst, Lucy McCullough]

A World of Wonder by Brent A. Ford and Lucy McCullough Hazlehurst is an educational combination of photographs and poetry, designed to be enjoyed by parents and children together. Giving the latter an interest in the world and to act as a starting point for appreciating its wonders. It consists of 41 high-quality, color images of nature and natural phenomena across the globe, each paired with a relevant, short poem – some newly written for the book, and some classics. The interactive copy has links to further information related to each photo.

The first thing that struck me was the quality of the photos, which are expertly-framed, beautiful shots of a range of animals, scenery, and weather across the globe, as well as views from beyond the upper atmosphere. As an adult, I still wonder at many of them, so it must be magical for a child. They evoke multiple emotions – some are dramatic, some cute, some calm – but all are of a suitable nature for young children, as should be expected.

The accompanying poems are apt for the stated age range of 3-8, and grade level K-2; they’re short, accessible and fun to read aloud. Some are humorous, while many are more instructive about the habits of animals or natural processes. They match well with the photos, and explore different aspects of life on Earth.

The combined variety of photos and poems are ideal for promoting conversation of all kinds between parents and children; it’s easy to tell that the authors have experience in education. Not just parents, but teachers could certainly get a lot of use out of this book, too.

It’s not particularly long, and because it’s designed to be picked up and put down, it seems perfect for different attention spans and available periods of time. It could be used at bedtime, or for car journeys.

The amazing choice of photographs enables you to revisit this book many times, so parents can ask different questions to highlight different points and to introduce more complex ideas as their child grows. This flexibility of use would is a huge draw for parents. It would be ideal for guessing games – trying to remember the photo from the poem, or even the poem from the photo. Budding artists could get some great inspiration from it, and it could be a very useful starting point for crafting projects or for guided research about animal habits and habitat.

I appreciate the authors’ aims and the work that they have put into the book in order to achieve them. A World of Wonder truly delivers on the wonder that it promises.

Pages: 88 | ASIN: B072LJWBSZ

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Adam’s Stepsons

Adam's Stepsons3 Stars

Adam’s Stepsons by M. Thomas Apple is an interesting science fiction piece. We follow Dr. Heimann who designs the perfect super soldiers for the United America’s in their war against the Martian colonies. Heimann quickly discovers that he did not anticipate the brutal efficiency of the military, nor the attachment that arises from his creations. These clones are not only the peak of what the human form can do, they actually transcend humanity through intelligence and strength. They are the weapon that the United Americas will use to crush the rebellion on Mars. Dr. Heimann is shocked when one clone, Six, begins to call him “Father” and then the can of worms truly opens.

Apple’s novel is almost painfully short, only because I wanted to have more to read and dive into. He anticipates the future of inter-solar system colonization and the struggles that can arise, such as this between the United Americas and the Martian colonies. He does not neglect the complicated matter here or the scope considering the Terran governing force is losing the war and needs these clones to pan out.

The struggle between scientist and soldier is an old one, but one that takes on a new twist with the rise of cloned super soldiers. Apple goes along the lines of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, but does not seek to critique war itself. Instead, the author goes further and asks whether these soldiers are “truly” human or are they  just “equipment” as the military officer Marquez calls them.

The conflict deepens even further when “Seth”, clone number six, as Dr. Heimann calls him when no one else is around, begins to call him “father”. The book bounces between the POV’s of the scientist and Six, which is interesting because as the book goes on Heimann becomes more and more unstable and uncertain of his mission of designing soldiers, who resemble the people that their genetic material comes from. Six, or rather, “Seth” becomes increasingly more confident in his abilities and his intelligence. All of this leads to a climax that may polarize readers, but one that will still make the reader ponder on far after they have finished the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed Apple’s prose. It reads crisp like that of Asimov or Heinlein, but I am still unsure if the short length of the work was appropriate. There is a lot of dialogue and not enough actual “action” going on throughout, so I was expecting more digging into the rich themes of personhood and philosophy of the soul. I realize that may be asking too much.

Adam’s Stepsons is a fun addition to the long canon of science fiction that dares to ask the “what if” of the future. It also seeks to ask the “should we, if we can” question that not enough science fiction is retrospective enough to ask. A good read for any science fiction lover, especially of the Heinlein or Asimov variety.

Pages: 92 | ASIN: B06XJRT8CS

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