Nicholas Hall, Nick to his friends, has done it. He’s completed his first official mission for the Allied Consortium. Now, finally, he’s ready to return to the deep reaches of space. His crew of four has turned into a family of six, and they are back for more in Michael J. Farlow’s newest book, Retribution: Records of the Argos.
As the second installment in the series, Retribution brings back all the characters we loved from Crucible, and I have to say I’m thrilled. While the writing is clear and easy to follow, the book’s best part must be the crew and their interactions. Nick, the narrator and resident human there to bridge the gap between his otherworldly crew and us. He brings readers quick quips and his stockpile of pop culture references. Then there’s Wizzy, the outgoing and outstanding AI of the Argos. Each interaction feels realistic. From banter to strategy all the way to politics, nothing about Retribution feels forced.
Moreover, this book brings more than just a quirky cast of characters to the table; Farlow has also graced us with a beautifully written plot. Unlike other sci-fi stories that rely heavily on action, Michael J. Farlow chooses to set his sights on something more: politics and strategy. While there’s no lack of fighting, Farlow makes it clear that sci-fi is more than just lasers and ships. Each mission and every action the crew takes is well-thought-out. Acting as peacekeepers and, some might say, heroes, it makes sense. What they do matters, along with what they say and even how they say it.
Retribution: Records of the Argos is a riveting science fiction novel that takes readers on an exciting adventure. Farlow’s ability to write realistic characters and a plot that’s more than just gun smoke and space. In addition, he does a fantastic job of bringing back old, beloved characters while introducing new ones. I, for one, can’t wait for the next entry in this series.
Pages: 358 | ASIN : B0BH41NKPW
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Price of Life follows a hidden race living among humans who, along with human fanatics, come up with a horrific plan for world domination. What were some key aspects that were important for you to explore in this narrative?
Price of Life was initially conceived as an action-adventure story. During its creation, I realized that the richness of the described events, people, places and character motivations made me consider a far broader perspective on things. It became very important for me to explore the issues of immortality and human condition, revelations of the origin of the immortal secret race and dreams and desires of everyone involved, be they individuals or a group. Each participant in the story sees the world as they would like it to be but changing the world for good or bad reasons may not necessarily be the right thing to do. Humans often think that end justifies the means, but not everyone pauses to think how many innocents would suffer for the price of a better future.
What scene in the book was the most emotionally impactful for you to write?
It is a very interesting question. My novel contains many powerful and emotional scenes that touch the souls of both humans and immortals. There are moments of deep introspection, stunning revelations and emotional as well as physical suffering. I believe the most emotionally impactful moment for me was the scene Dina Amulai encounters after her unsuccessful attempt to murder young Adolph Hitler during World War I. Fueled by rage against the visions of the terrible future resulting from his rise to power, she later finds her entire adopted Gypsy clan executed by the Germans who did not spare anyone. Dina later makes another clever attempt to kill Hitler during the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games, but is betrayed at the last moment by a greedy mercenary whom she is forced to kill.
Did the novel develop in any surprising ways as you wrote the story?
Actually, yes it did. Initially, the story involved a singular apocalyptic mass murder plot by the immortal group bent on world domination. Then, at some point during my second draft, I thought about creating a similar group, which includes humans with their own diabolical agenda to change the U.S. politics and take over the United States. The goals and methods of both groups are different, but they interact well in the story. Both secret societies plan to use weapons of mass destruction, which makes them very dangerous for the good guys to handle. Battles of good against evil often demand sacrifices but true heroes are willing to die for what they believe.
You published this novel in 2015. How do you feel your writing has changed since then?
I started writing in 2010, initially working on short stories and ideas for the longer pieces. It took me 5 years of writing and practicing my craft as well as attending numerous writing groups and literary sessions to learn about being a better writer. Since the publication of Price of Life in 2015, seven years have passed, and they were very good seven years. I believe that my writing had improved in terms of quality and deeper analysis of my work. I read a lot of excellent books before I became a writer. They inspired me to put my ideas on paper not to earn fortune and glory but to enjoy the labor of love. I continue to abide by this principle and hope to produce many interesting books for people to enjoy.
Posted in Interviews
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Boone and Jacque are back again in Boone and Jacque: Cytrus Moonlight! It has been 15 years, and they are living their best lives. Boone got married to Shammy, and they have two amazing children together. Boone and Shammy just want to live a life of peace and quiet. Jacque, on the other hand has become a detective and loves his job and his woman named Xantia, who happens to be a detective as well. Boone and Jacque still have a very strong friendship, but their lives turn upside down when a new mysterious murder happens. This throws Jacque and Boone into a new quest that they never wanted. They just want to live their simple lives.
The new book in the Boone and Jacque series is stupendous! Readers that have enjoyed prior books in this series will be blown away by the new characters and adventures. AG Flitcher takes readers on a magical and fantastical adventure that surpasses prior novels, going in a completely different direction and showcasing the growth of Boone and Jacque. In addition, this an inclusive novel. Jacque, Xantia, and Coralie are all part of the LGBTQI+ community.
Jacque and Xantia are a wonderful couple. Xantia was a great addition to the group and is a strong woman. Her character is well developed and fits perfectly into the story. Coralie is new as well, and I learned a bit about her, but I do hope to learn more about her in the next book. Reading about Boone and Shammy’s children is delightful; they add a new demension to the storyline. Boone’s character is still growing and figuring himself out, but I can say he is a loving father. It made me happy to see his character get some happiness after the childhood readers learned about in past books. Having Shammy to share his life with gives his story the joyful component he had been missing.
I still have some questions, but I imagine the next book will answer them. AG Flitcher seems to be very good at wrapping up loose ends. The story overall was well written. While I have my questions about Dr. Button and Jacque’s aunt and uncle, I am sure I will get my answers over time.
I give Boone and Jacque: Cytrus Moonlight 5 out of 5 stars. This novel felt very different from the others, but I can tell it is leading up to similar adventures with an extra twist. I look forward to the next book in this amazing series!
Pages: 350 | ASIN : B0B5SBNQ27
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The Betrayal, by Doug Dorsey, is set in the future after much of the earth’s population has been wiped out by a series of catastrophic events, but civilization has not yet come to an end. A new government, ruled by Sovereign Alexander Wraith, has risen to power to ensure everlasting peace. In this riveting dystopian novel, not everything is as it seems. In reality, Wraith is a brutal dictator who will do anything and take out anyone to ensure his hold on power. Thankfully, a rebellion is coming.
This rebellion is led by two unlikely heroes. Liam Adler is a loyal citizen and computer genius who specializes in AR and VR technology. All Liam wants is a quiet, respectable life. However, a series of unfortunate events leads him down a rabbit hole, and he discovers his life is a lie. Jessica, on the other hand, is a rebel fighter, an amnesiac, and a fugitive on the run. She has been fighting The Sovereign for years and is a loyal soldier of Mordecai, rebel leader, and prophet. Liam and Jessica are truly compelling characters that make this first book in the trilogy an exciting read cover to cover, which is important in a character driven dystopian thriller like this.
The Betrayal often reminded me of a Christian version of George Orwell’s 1984. One of the main themes of the book is that religion has been banned, and it is down to Christian rebels to free the world. This focus on religion gives Dorsey’s novel an interesting twist. Government surveillance is everywhere, and expression of religious freedom is a death sentence. Liam is constantly thrown for a loop as friends become enemies and vice versa. The Sovereign is always watching. The author deftly borrows from countless sci-fi classics whilst managing to write something new. This is a refreshing twist on some older sci-fi tropes.
The pacing of the storyline is excellent. The first half is a little slower as Dorsey does some important world-building and introduces and begins to define his characters. In the second half, the story ramps up as utter chaos is unleashed.
Liam and Jessica are both great leads who are easy to root for. Liam especially makes for a very cerebral protagonist. Wraith is an immensely dislikable antagonist in all the right ways. The Betrayal, by Doug Dorsey, is a rollercoaster ride and a great read for any science fiction fan.
Pages: 361 | ASIN: B09RPYHM8F
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Surviving the Second Tier by author M.K Lever is a sci-fi novel that is different from anything else out there. It is a combination of dystopian sci-fi, college drama, and an underdog sports story. The setting is nebulous. We know the novel is set in the future, but Lever leaves it up to the reader to decide how distant. Technology has advanced but is not far-fetched. We know that there are drones, automated exercise equipment, and self-driving cars. The setting is what I would call grounded dystopian. There has been yet another economic crash, and once again, it is the younger generation who are paying the price.
This captivating novel takes a close look at the world of college sport but through the lens of a dystopian future. In this world, college sports as we know it has been replaced with the AFA (American Fighting Association). Male and female athletes now fight in an MMA-style fighting league where only the toughest and best-funded succeed. Like most extraordinary sports stories, we follow Sis Jones, a second-tier fighter who is undefeated and coming towards the end of her college career. Sis might be successful in the ring, but it isn’t doing her much good. As a poorly-paid second-tier fighter, the fighting takes its toll on her health and grades. We follow Sis and her teammates as they are pushed and manipulated further and further by their greedy coach and college higher-ups. In the end, enough is enough, and the athletes rebel and take on the corruption directly.
Surviving the second tier feels almost like a more grounded Hunger Games. The setting may not be quite as dramatic and the stakes not quite as high, but Sis is still fighting for survival in many ways. Most of us have never had to fight to the death, but struggling to make ends meet will be painfully familiar to most of us.
Lever is a former college athlete herself, and this shows. She has extensive knowledge of the subject and has gone to great pains to highlight the abuse and corruption that goes widely unreported in college sports today. As well as shining a light on the discrepancies between first-tier and second-tier college teams. For every first-tier college athlete that goes on to great success, many are left behind.
Surviving the Second tier is a gripping dystopian novel with a great underdog story full of easy to root for heroes with an important message. This unconventional combination of genres will give readers a unique look into college sports and much to think about.
Pages: 429 | ASIN : B09MDR6FYH
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In Mystical Force: Volume 2 Angels and Demons by Craig Weidhuner, Humans do not believe Earth is the only inhabited planet. Sister Rose is one of five nuns who hunt and kill demons. They are called upon by God to destroy the demons using their magical bullets which are specially designed to kill demons. Sister Rose’s parents passed away long ago, leaving her to become a young orphan raised in the church. Her roots are from the church, and their beliefs are deeply embedded in her mind. However, she meets a demon called Tokijin, who can transform into a human form. They fall in love, and Rose is caught between the beliefs she was raised with and her love for Tokijin.
Long ago, it was common for humans to destroy villages they thought were inhabited by demons and to murder any demon that was found. This created a war between demons and humans that has lasted centuries. However, not everyone in the universe feels demons are evil. For example, there is a planet called Orathos. The beings that reside there are determined to bring peace to the races of demons and humans.
Mystical Force: Volume 2 Angels and Demons is told from several viewpoints and at different locations in the universe. Weidhuner has fantastic character development. Each character is well thought out and brings a unique feel to the story. I found getting to know the characters, seeing their development and growth to be one of the most enjoyable parts of this novel.
The author’s writing style is spellbinding, drawing readers into the plot with strong emotional conflicts. However, the book primarily focuses on the romantic relationship between Rose and Tokijin. A demon and a demon hunting nun are two people who should despise one another because of how they have been raised. Yet, despite being taught from a young age to hate, they see the good in one another.
Mystical Force: Volume 2 Angels and Demons is a thrilling young adult fantasy novel. Combining science fiction elements and paranormal activity, the author creates action and suspense that will captivate teen readers.
Pages: 69 | ASIN : B0921PPSGC
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Myracles in the Void is a fantasy/adventure novel by author Wes Dyson. This coming-of-age story follows two siblings who attempt to unravel the mystery that surrounds their family. After the heartbreaking disappearance of their father and uncle, Gai and Lynd find themselves experiencing some mysterious symptoms. This starts when Lynd’s chaotic emotions begin to manifest themselves physically. Next, their hometown of Hop starts to turn against the family, even acting hostile towards their poor mother. Finally, the siblings decide it is time to find answers to the questions that have been looming over them for years.
Wes Dyson has written a teen and young adult novel that will captivate readers of all ages. The protagonists, Gai and Lynd, have that angsty, restless nature that makes for a great adventure read. Themes of good vs. evil and is someone’s nature predestined are examined in this creative book.
From the very start, it’s apparent that Dyson is a skilled writer and an excellent world builder. Developing a world with memorable characters can be a challenge with so many novels in the fantasy and adventure genre. However, Myracles in the Void has found a way to set itself apart from others in the genre and give readers an exciting and fresh new world to discover.
The magic system and language used to describe fantasy elements are familiar yet unique in their terminology. Magic, sometimes called mana in fantasy, is referred to as “Myra” in this story. It has two sides; the Elix and Ruin aspects of Myra, which seem to represent the duality of life and death in nature. While one may seem more important than the other, both are necessary to keep balance and order in the universe. This duality is also reflected in our main protagonists, Gai and Lynd. Through their personalities, we can see a reflection of this two-sided magic, with Gai being much more level-headed and Lynd unpredictable.
Myracles in the Void is a riveting new coming-of-age young adult novel that combines familiar fantasy and science fiction elements while adding a fresh perspective to the genres. Readers will be drawn to the themes of good vs. evil while magic takes the characters on an unforgettable adventure.
Pages: 380 | ASIN : B09SVV6NW7
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The Right to Revenge is a dystopian science fiction novel by author Veronica North. Set in a speculative future where gene editing experiments have split humanity into three categories. The “unstable” Alphas, the “normal” Betas, and the “enhanced” Gammas. This divide resulted in an ongoing genocide and civil war to stop it. In this world, we follow J, a Gamma rebel out to get revenge for the death of her sisters. This layered novel also explores her mental state and reactions to the violence around her as the story unfolds.
North’s style creates a vivid and distinct world for their characters to interact. One in which the sense of desolation caused by the war is apparent and where the motivations of each faction are understandable, if misguided. The author takes the reader on an intense emotional ride filled with action-packed scenes with quick, fluid, and exciting action.
The characters in this riveting novel are well developed and complex, drawing the reader in with their backstories and insightful dialogue. You love the good guys and have a love/hate relationship with the bad guys. The author has included some plot twists, so readers are hooked throughout the unpredictable story. J is such a strong and passionate character, and you immediately are drawn to her. However, I found it interesting that the plot and other characters in the story often influenced the main character’s actions and choices.
The science-fiction aspects of the story do not overwhelm the reader with scientific jargon but instead compliments the plot and help the story progress. In addition, the futuristic world and components add to the dystopian feel, which keeps readers on edge.
The Right to Revenge is an action-filled novel that opens with an NC-17 warning, often pulling from tropes and styles of Young Adult fiction but with some swears and steamy scenes are thrown in.
Pages: 299 | ASIN : B09MDSVRWN
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