The Calla’cara Gambit is a high- fantasy science fiction novel by author Robb Bartlett. It is the sequel to the award-winning novel The Turing Revolt: The War Against Infinity. Starting with the prologue, Lilith Morningstar´s plan goes awry when she is shockingly defeated and sent to an unknown planet by a powerful and mysterious man, identified as the “Chosen of the Adversary”. As she is discovered and forcibly escorted away by two individuals, she silently plots revenge against everyone who ever wronged her. Milo Sapphire finds himself in a difficult position, after being blackmailed into helping the Sentient Ships emancipate from the Empire and killing Lilith Morningstar (or so he thought), he’s aware of being targeted by three groups: the Lotus Eaters Society, the Khan of Calla´cara, and the Emperor himself. When one of his lovers is captured by the Empires ambassador, who threatens her should Milo do anything against the Emperor’s agenda; he must find a way of getting the job done before the deadline without risking the lives of his crewmembers while navigating a harsh political climate.
The Calla’cara Gambit is a space opera that combines the best elements of science fiction with elements of epic fantasy to create a consistently riveting novel. I enjoyed the detailed political and financial climate that the story exists in. I felt like these types of details made the world feel real. The story is mostly narrated in first-person through Milo Morningstar, a witty and sarcastic yet charming man who feels elevated because of his past actions, which have proven him to be the one chosen by the creator of the universe. The way the story is narrated through his point of view helps the reader form a deeper understanding of his character, his decisions, and his way of seeing the universe. Milo is cunning and therefore overconfident, which at times can be annoying but ultimately makes for a complex character and an interesting read.
The universe the story takes place in feels vast and is formed by many different worlds and planets, particularly Calla´cara, an exotic planet ruled by intelligent reptiles who seem to have their own agenda. The writing is unique, alternating between Milos first-person narration with third-person POV´S from different characters, this makes for a refreshing break from the main character’s monologue. Sometimes the mixture of genres can make the tone feel inconsistent, but that’s just a very minor concern.
The Calla’cara Gambit has a unique plot that is helped along by an engaging protagonist. Fans of Star Wars or space opera’s will have plenty to enjoy in Rob Bartlett’s dramatic novel.
Pages: 454 | ASIN: B08FWV5TBQ
Tags: author, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, metaphysical, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, rob bartlett, science fiction, scifi, space opera, star wars, story, suspense, The Calla'cara Gambit, thriller, writer, writing
Y’keta has been banished and is on his own only to learn that the new place he calls home could be lost forever. He knows that he could help them, and others know he’s hiding something. What should Y’keta do? Should he tell the truth and save the village, or destroy everything these villagers have ever believed in? The right choice is not easy and takes a brave soul to make it.
I am a fan of North American Legends, so this book kept my attention the whole way through, and I felt myself anticipating each new page. The book feels realistic, and for much of the book, I felt like I knew the characters and that we were connected. If you like North American legends, I feel like this book would be a good one for people to read as it is a great journey to take. It also touched me to see the characters reacted to one another and their sense of duty in a genuine way.
I enjoyed the characters and the fact that Siann wants to forge her path. There were qualities in both her and Y’keta that I admired so much, though I was not Siann’s biggest fan, although I did like her character as a whole. I feel like there aren’t enough good female characters in novels today, and I liked that Siann didn’t fit into the stereotypical role. She was inspiring. However, more than the characters, I loved the author’s skills at details and creating such an exciting world. One of my favorite things about diving into a new book is the author’s ability to make such a fascinating world and such an intricate plot. The attention to detail was amazing.
When you read a book, you want to be hooked; this book certainly does that. Although I enjoyed the book, it took me a while to get into the story and feel invested on a deeper level. But after I did get invested I found this book to be riveting and emotional. I also enjoyed the intertwined stories that made me feel like I was connecting with all of the characters. I felt a personal kinship with Y’keta and his struggles and it’s for this reason that I will be looking into the author’s other books.
Pages: 287 | ASIN: B01N9V4M8C
Gary Miller is a religion and philosophy college professor living a pretty average life. He hardly gets by on his meager salary, has a wife he doesn’t love and struggles with a sexual orientation that conflicts with his faith. But his life takes an interesting turn when Bob, his long-time friend and former colleague, introduces him to seven experiments. They are designed to help Gary manifest his wishes with the power of his mind. Skeptical at first, Gary takes on the challenge and goes through each experiment. As he progresses, his belief in this new discovery grows. It appears better days are ahead and he could finally get all he wants out of life. But how far will Gary go in using his newfound power to satisfy his longings?
Stephen Kanicki weaves an intriguing tale in The Seven Experiments. It’s been a while since I read a story with a healthy dose of eeriness like this one. It’s nothing too close to horror, but it’s just creepy enough to make your skin crawl. Set in present-day New York City, The Seven Experiments is a fictional novel that examines religious, pseudoscientific and metaphysical themes.
Kanicki’s interest in placing religious beliefs on the spot really jumps out. His main character Gary asks some difficult questions of the Christian faith. The book’s context adds a fascinating spin to many of these subjects. For example, Gary’s success at wishing things into reality leads him to question the need for prayers. He wonders if praying to an unseen God is anything more than a waste of time. Maybe we are inherently self-sufficient and can get whatever we want without any external interference. These are Gary’s thoughts.
Somehow, Kanicki was able to take a conservative college professor and transform him into a frightening maniac. I never saw that one coming (that’s the point of a good story, but Gary made quite the jump from super cool to super not-so-cool). Gary’s downward spiral is another suggestion that given the right opportunity and enough motive, we all are capable of much evil. And I couldn’t help but imagine if our strongest beliefs still exist because they’ve not faced real conflict. I mean, how deeply have you questioned your values? Or are they shallow platitudes just waiting to be uprooted by the slightest problem?
Kanicki does a great job of passing his message and keeping the reader engaged. However, a couple of characters were unsolved mysteries. I couldn’t really wrap my head around who they were or what their motives were. But that aside, you’d enjoy The Seven Experiments if you fancy spooky but thought-provoking stories.
Pages: 213 | ASIN: B07X4KM2CY
Tags: author, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, horror, kindle, kobo, literature, metaphysical, mystery, nook, novel, paranormal, psychic, read, reader, reading, Stephen Kanicki, story, supernatural, suspense, The Seven Experiments, thriller, writer, writing
Limbo Jubilee follows Neala as she experiments with what it means to be human as her panic escalates with every page. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
I experienced an existential crisis, the gut punch of grief, at a formative age in my life, which inspired me to write Limbo Jubilee. I wrote Limbo Jubilee as an ode to my family, my ancestors, and the misty mountains where I grew up. I wanted to illuminate the intricacies of culture, trauma, and healing. I wanted to share the message that humans can be the curse and the cure and to not give up on each other as tempting as it may be.
My granny taught me that it hurts to be human, and pain is inevitable, but she also taught me that what matters most is how I respond to my pain. Humans are masters at avoiding, ignoring, and numbing their pain in all sorts of destructive ways. Humans are sly creatures and can spread their pain to others along the way. Humans are also incredibly good at getting so stuck in their pain that they can’t imagine living life any other way, but my granny taught me to face my pain with courage. Writing Limbo Jubilee was my way of transforming my brokenness into something beautiful.
Neala is an interesting and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I was born in Appalachia where the line between fairy tales and memoirs is imaginary. What many people call fairy tales and folklore, I call reality. Folk magic is as real as the rolling hills in West Virginia. My granny talks to the rivers, the sunflowers, the moon, and the stars, and she believes that they talk back to her. Granny’s mountain medicine is not a complementary or alternative medicine for me. In fact, there is nothing as powerful as the first sip of granny’s elderberry tonic on a cold, October night by the campfire.
Neala’s character reflects my own experiences growing up in Appalachia where magical realism is a way of life. It is a reality of its own. The human brain constructs memories and narratives, and to some degree, all memoirs are imaginary, existing in the planes of shared realities and unique realities. Memoirs are cultural artifacts, spinning tales of who we are and where we come from. Neala’s character reflects the values and beliefs of her culture, shifting between different voices and different planes of reality. Is she the alien or the human? The little girl or the therapist? The healer or the wounded? The sinner or the saint? Neala is all of them, and she writes in a style that is authentic to her experience.
The way that humans experience the world is based on so many different factors. Naturally then, readers will have a variety of reactions to Neala and to Limbo Jubilee. As for me, Neala is a raw and real character with both light and dark qualities, and at its core, Limbo Jubilee is a story of empowerment and healing.
What were some themes you felt were important to explore in this book?
Limbo Jubilee is a visionary celebration and explores visionary and metaphysical themes. Limbo Jubilee is a metaphor for being human and alien, earthly and otherworldly, broken and blessed, and all in the same breath. To be in the wheelhouse of visionary and speculative fiction with incredible authors like Margaret Atwood is a dream come true for me.
Limbo Jubilee provides observations and commentary on society. For example, it discusses the pressure for women to have children and how having children is viewed as normal and human. The alien living on planet Spry is a metaphor for how women without children can be viewed in our culture. Limbo Jubilee also explores and challenges the normalcy of addiction, as well as the black-and-white thinking that leads to extremes.
Limbo Jubilee is the anthem for creatures of the in between, shedding light on both earthly and sacred dimensions and exploring religion and spirituality. There are moments in life when we are fully present in our humanity, and moments when we morph into a creature feature, and moments when we shine as bright as the golden gods of eternity.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am very excited to reveal my next book, The Mermaids Melt at Dawn. I am currently waving my magic wand and putting on the finishing touches. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is a departure from my brain-busting and heartstring-pulling debut novella, Limbo Jubilee. I don’t want to spoil the mystery, but I’ll offer a quick teaser. Close your eyes and imagine a rowdy Cajun from Louisiana, a pair of warring mermaid sisters, a greedy Poseidon, petulant gods, and a magical island called Barbiche. The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is a melting pot for Cajun fairy tales and Greek Mythology. It will be released in late July or August 2020!
Neala’s surreal story begins in the backwoods of St. Roscoe, West Virginia. Neala’s hero is her Aunt Betsy, who saves the day in a pair of red cowgirl boots. Neala’s life is forever changed as she witnesses the death of her Aunt Betsy. Neala longs for a love that will heal her wounds, so when she meets Brick, she is tempted to cross the imaginary line, but she finds herself in a dangerous limbo. Neala’s spooky voyage transports her to the fringes of reality where she flirts with some creepy-crawly surprises. While a macabre sickness hunts Neala down, she experiments with what it means to be human. Neala’s panic escalates with every page, but could her paranoia be grounded in wisdom?
Posted in Interviews
Tags: author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Grendolyn Peach Soleil, kindle, kobo, Limbo Jubilee, literature, metaphysical, mystery, nook, novel, psychological, read, reader, reading, romance, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, time travel, writer, writing
Soleil’s novel Limbo Jubilee is a psychological drama written from the perspective of the West Virginian born Neala, who has to overcome the trauma and loss inflicted upon her at an early age and later becomes a psychologist in Arizona while still trying to find herself and her place in the world. While I won’t spoil it entirely, I do have to point out that she isn’t entirely successful, and the book becomes a narrative that slowly unwinds in the same way she does. Slowly, until finally it spirals to a fitting conclusion at the end of the book.
I was quickly taken in by Neala’s story, even as it is interwoven with her growing madness as her psyche breaks down. I was able to easily empathize with her character. You want her to pull through, and heal herself, like she promises she should at the beginning. Neala means Champion—the heroine should be a champion—but midway, as she begins to unravel you know it’s going to end in tears as she loses touch with reality, becomes convinced that she isn’t real, and eventually loses herself bit by bit until there is nothing left except something she has called the “Choisi”. This is wistful and somewhat somber but utterly compelling.
The book and narrative reminds me a lot of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam because I felt like it carried much the same tone. Fans of Atwood’s work in that series will enjoy Limbo Jubilee as I did. In between the rational and recognizable are snippets of what really is happening.
The start of all of this is heavily foreshadowed in the first chapter, beginning with her trying to help her dying Aunt Betsy, and it is in this chapter that the seeds of her eventual anorexia and the lifelong battle with it are planted, as are the seeds of what will come later in the book. I had to read the beginning a few times to catch all the colorful nuances and each time I did, I found another snippet and hint of the prods and disconnects that eventually are Neala’s undoing by the end of the book. While it isn’t a book for the faint of heart, it is definitely one with plenty of potential that needs to be on the bookshelf of anyone that appreciates a complex and thought-provoking read. Not one word isn’t there that doesn’t serve a purpose — Limbo Jubilee has been masterfully written.
Pages: 193 | ASIN: B07ZTTK6BB
Evah & the Unscrupulous Thwargg follows a girl who’s haunted by disturbing visions and finds she has a connection to a supernatural tribe. What was the inspiration for the mystery at the heart of this thrilling story?
Well, there was a white conservative county that I lived in for a while. The banks, the courts, churches, social services, and police department operated with extreme bias through an interconnected gossip circle. Businesses could be destroyed and people singled out and ultimately ruined. This even happened in the family courts. Where it was not uncommon for a parent to hear law advisors and officials tell them, “You have to understand that you will never win in this county. You have to try and take your case somewhere else.” Children were lost and parents socially vilified to the point of being provoked towards some illegal response. The society we live in has a big hurt about parents who don’t stick around in their kids life, but there are some places that aid in ruining that fragile bond and alienate parents from their kids. I thought what was going on in that town couldn’t really happen. It seemed completely monstrous and unreal. I learned that the social services department had been investigated by federal authorities for sharing privileged client information by leaving open files on desks for other people to read and from their the community started their campaign of ill will against the client. It was done that way so negative community experience could not be traced back to officials with direct access to client information. Essentially it was a lynch mob experience.
This core idea developed about an internal group in the political structure that abused its power. Such an internal power could motivate elections and get people murdered if they tried to expose what was going on; or kill themselves out of desperation. Unfortunately, the most innocent would lose tremendously as the cabal pursued its agenda. And of course they would think they were always doing the right thing.
Evah is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I feel very deeply for children who come from broken homes. The kids who get the worst part of an unsettling dispute between parents. It has the potential to lead to social alienation and a loss of trust in any redeemable human quality. It’s a condition that permeates into adult life, causing unfortunate cycles of pain. Above that she’s a girl that just feels different and her differences scare her a little. I guess that’s a struggle for many kids. It was for me at certain stages. We seek to understand what is different about us or why and if our differences have anything of value to them for the world. I personally believe that everybody is called for something in this world and we can all feel more than a little lost before we find some purpose and a tribe. With Evah’s story I wanted to share with the reader that they are not alone and sometimes there are extraordinary factors stranger than fiction that goes on in a persons life. Sometimes we find answers that bring us peace and sometimes we don’t but there is love in the world.
I enjoyed the balanced themes of good and evil in this story. What were some themes that were important to you to explore in this book?
Thank you. Good and evil is something I believe really is a conflict on a most essential level. I’m glad you found something in that that clicked in a personal way. I wanted to write a story that dealt with challenging issues and at the same time keeps the reader entertained. There were three different thematic nexuses. Those of personal, social and political. This is a book about the marginalized (even among the elite), how they respond to their conflict and where grace may be found. Where hope may be found. In many ways that grace is love but even the bravest love has its obstacles and sacrifices. This is a book focused on the feminine development in relationship to the world as a child and as a young adult. The struggle for identity is a universal one though, too. At the core of the tale is how innocence either in a child or the innocence remaining in grown ups can be taken advantage of. For me it begs the question how shall innocence persevere and what will become of a society void of innocence? There is, at one of the most difficult times for Evah, a meeting with the divine. As we go through our lives even as believers in God or the spirit world we wonder if a higher power cares at all and the mystery of it rips us apart when our struggles are deep.
We are living in a world where things we believe in are falling apart before our eyes. We are challenged to believe in priests. The heroes we look up to are exposed as perverts, even murderers. What’s worse now, is that we don’t even know what is real with the current use of misinformation and deep fakes living in a post-truth world. What is innocence to do? Where is its refuge?
There were many themes in the book and they were important to me but if you’re a reader know that there is a lot of fun too. I was just taught as an artist that work should be informed with relevant issues. There’s a talking animal, adventures on strange worlds, supernatural battles, the discovery of awesome abilities and some cool technology but there are important themes too. Here are just some of them. Women’s struggle for identity in a universe that longs to fall back into convenient male modes of control, wrestling with cultural and social alienation, the complexity of living with coexisting spiritual or religious structures, colonialism, abuses of power that destroy lives on a personal and social level, unexplained connections between people who love each other such as psychic phenomena, the struggle to find personal perspective and agency as one matures despite external influence, the dead end choices many people of ethnicity and lower economic strata have to wrestle with and the loss of accurate cultural history that has been rewritten by historians of conquering parties.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Some readers have expressed an interest in reading a sequel to this book. I’m working the kinks out of the outline for the second book now. It’s titled Kahtura and the Magmakyte Cult and tells the story of the new tribal queen’s rise as it coincides with cataclysmic events in the Spirean planetary system. But right now it is questionable whether it will be completed. Unfortunately, I am dealing with cyber stalkers on Goodreads that seem to be pretty dedicated to destroying my book ratings with one star reviews. Unless Amazon and Goodreads are able to stop what is going on I have the feeling any new book produced may only be killed getting out of the gate. Essentially these circumstances could turn the next book into an expensive unsalable product. I am happy that I wrote Evah & the Unscrupulous Thwargg as a stand alone. It was important to me that the book had a satisfying resolution. So, though there is a great deal of story that can be added and explored it has a finale that leaves the lead characters transformed and Evah’s greatest personal struggle is resolved. Thank you for talking with me and happy reading. Stay safe out there as the country reopens.
The Blood of the Nephilim follows a man who’s never been sick and a billionaire that wants to profit off of it. How did the idea for this novel start and change as you wrote?
The idea started as I was researching blood types, as I have the rarest blood type AB-, and I wanted to know where the blood types originated from. What I found out was that the Rh- factor is only found in a very small percentage of the population worldwide. There are theories that it was a mutation somewhere during the evolution of mankind but there is no definitive proof of that. And the one ancient alien theory states that it comes from aliens breeding with humans. The story started out with the young boy never getting sick and how he had a passion for archaeology and eventually searching those sites mentioned by ancient alien theorists. As I began getting into the background I thought how interesting it would be if a billionaire found out about this person and decided he wanted his blood to create a serum for all of the wealthy people so they never have to worry about ever getting sick.
I enjoyed the interplay between science and religion in this book. What were some themes you wanted focus on in this story?
I wanted to focus on themes that are present in society today. One is how people perceive the wealthy as having so much power to do anything that they want by generally using their wealth to influence the laws, property values and politicians and never feeling any repercussions. So I imagined how one wealthy person would use his money and influence to create a serum from a person’s blood so that he would never get sick again. Of course by saying he would help all mankind everyone trusted him.
Another theme I wanted to focus on was the ancient alien theme. If you look back at many of the religious writings many can be interpreted in ways of showing that aliens did come to this planet and interacted with mankind. For example the book of Enoch talks about fallen angels interacting with man and taking wives as well as in the book of Gensis. The Nephilim were known as fallen angels or spirits in the bible and in Arabic they are called Jinn. The offspring of the Nephilim and the human wives they took were said to be giants. Of course this one of many theories about them.
What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
One of my goals was to have people who read the book see that things are not always as they seem. Perhaps the things we read in the ancient texts could have been about aliens who came to help mankind. How did the Rh- negative factor actually come about? There are theories but no definitive proof of how such a small percentage of the population has it. What I want is for people to look at the world and not take what someone says as truth but to do their own research and come to their own conclusion. Many people take what the so called talking heads say as truth when in fact many of them are paid entertainers.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a few ideas that I am working on right now but I believe the next one will be a mystery that revolves around an author. I hope to start outlining it soon and having it down in the fall of this year.
A scientist investigates archaeological sites that could have been built by aliens. No one knows why he has never been sick a day in his life. A billionaire believes his blood is the secret to perfect health. And, he wants it.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: alien, ancient alien, author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, metaphysical, nook, novel, occult, read, reader, reading, religion, science fiction, Steve Zimcosky, story, The Blood of the Nephilim, writer, writing
Evah & the Unscrupulous Thwargg follows a young girl who must contend with bullies while being haunted by disturbing visions. She slowly uncovers a connection she has with an ancient tribe of people who were exterminated. She must find out why she’s been chosen, overcome the strange phenomena plaguing her life and take control of her destiny.
Longoria Wolfe has written a compelling science fiction story that is supported by a curious mystery which unravels through a thrilling adventure. When the book started I thought Evah was a fairly straightforward character, but I was pleasantly surprised when her character quickly gained complexity as her connection to the supernatural tribe was revealed and events are set in motion which provide compelling obstacles for her to overcome.
Evah & the Unscrupulous Thwargg is an immersive story that efficiently handles backstory so that we can focus on character development as well as the eerie mystery at the heart of this riveting novel. I admit that I had to stretch my imagination a bit because some of the things, and places, Evah encounters along the way superbly capture a fantastical surrealism that I wasn’t prepared for.
What I enjoyed the most was how everything is kept grounded by motivations I could understand. Even the strange aliens had desires I think readers can relate to, and with that I was reeled into a fast paced story that I heartily enjoyed.
Exceptional storytelling elevates this odd story line into a novel that is unique and hard to put down. I hope there’s a sequel in the works as this story left me wanting more of this world. Longoria Wolfe is able to twist common story tropes and prose into something that strangely intriguing. This is a thrilling science fiction story that I would recommend to readers seeking an adventure unlike any other.
Pages: 384 | ASIN: B07ZDLZP9V
Tags: adventure, author, book, book review, bookblogger, ebook, Evah & the Unscrupulous Thwargg, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, Longoria Wolfe, metaphysical, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing, young adult