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River’s Child

When Mavin Cedarstrom heads to the Svalbard Seed Vault for another day on the job, he can’t possibly imagine the turn his life is about to take. His former life gathering seeds as an assistant to his favorite professor pales in comparison to the life he leads working in the exclusive and formidable vault housing samples of every seed variety in the world. Mavin’s job helping to protect and preserve the future of the planet’s primary food source leads him on a journey like no other when he awakens to find himself in what he soon learns is the future–the distant future.

Right out of the gate, Mark Daniel Seiler introduces readers to an intriguing set of circumstances. He wastes no time in keeping his audience guessing as to both time and place. The opening pages of River’s Child reveal a scene with an amalgamation of characters with varied backgrounds. It isn’t until Mavin reaches the vault itself that the reader is treated to the splendors of technological advancements. Seiler springs this futuristic setting on his readers in a wonderful contrast with the opening bar scene.

Reading River’s Child is akin to reading three different books, but it works well. Mavin’s time working in the vault and the tragedy that befalls him when he reports to work that fateful fall day are a far cry from the way he is found and worlds apart from the scene that greets him when he is pulled from beneath Earth’s surface. Once he and his rescuer/guide, Simone Kita, make the year-long trek to civilization, the story takes on a completely different feel which somehow also makes sense. To say that Mavin has taken a step into the past would not be wrong, nor would it be wrong to say he is almost light years in the future upon being pulled from the remains of the vault. Seiler presents for readers a picture of an Earth recreated after its destruction and, somehow, simultaneously archaic and advanced.

Seiler’s choice to make males subservient and females revered in the new world is both refreshing and entertaining. Simone, a strong woman in many ways, teaches Mavin the proper way to show respect and how to remain demure in his foreign surroundings. The author has pulled from multiple cultures to create the portrait of a lesser sex in this futuristic world which blends ancient customs with the discovery and mastery of unique and highly developed talents. Simone’s amazing ability to control space and time is superhero-like and takes the reader as much by surprise as it does Mavin the first time she tries to discreetly display it.

Seiler offers readers a picture of  what is essentially a post-apocalyptic world that is different from any I have read. He takes readers on a journey that begins and ends with the soul survivor of a catastrophic event and allows them to watch as he struggles to find his place among those who now inhabit Earth. Seiler peppers his writing with the perfect amount of suspense and humor as he weaves this unforgettable tale.

Pages: 312 | ISBN: 1947003399

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Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison (Reverence Book 6)

Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison (Reverence Book 6) by [Landeros, Joshua]

Joshua Landeros is at it again with a sequel to his prequel series with Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Julissa Marconi is ready to take on the ultimate villain, Chancellor Venloran. All that stands between the United Nation Republic and Mexico is the rebels, who seek to resist the tyrannical influence of the more powerful country. This struggle will not end cleanly as Venloran deploys his cyborg soldiers, which leaves Julissa questioning if she can really stop this assault. She may have to become what she fights.

And once again Landeros hits it out of the park with this novel and there is a maturing of his prose in a way that should greatly satisfy his readers. Poison centers around the conflict, or rather, Expansion, that the United Nation Republic is forcing upon Mexico. There is a resonance here with the current events of immigration and Mexico with the US, which does not make this seem like an accident on Landeros’ part. The engagement not only of the struggle of soldiers, but of entire populaces, bumps up the stakes of what has been up until now, a waltz down memory lane to contextualize his main Reverence series.

This installment breathes new air into the series and gives the prequel series more weight going forward. In some ways the look at the national conflict tends to make the conflict become too political and the characters are lost in the back and forth, but it eventually re-centers and the story becomes an intimate tale about identity and duty.

The style of Landeros is largely unchanged aside from his deeper engagement with thematic elements helping his subtle prose along. Robert Heinlein would be proud as would Atwood with his struggle to both dignify the society he has created, and draw parallels from our world to the world of Reverence. For the science fiction reader, there may be more thriller, political drama than one is used to, but we can always count on Landeros to bring the fight to us.

In the grander scheme of his series and world building, Posion begins to show the end game that will follow, since the Expansion is only a piece to Venloran’s ongoing long game. We all know the players who are involved at this point and it’s really just seeing it all unravel. Truly, a pulse-pounding thrilling read.

Pages: 226 | ASIN: B07BNTQRTJ

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Real or Imagined

Lisa Diaz Meyer Author Interview

Lisa Diaz Meyer Author Interview

All Roads Destined is a collection of stories from fantasy to science fiction with links back to your first collection. What was the inspiration for this collection of stories?

As for the Outposts, I wanted to continue on since I’d left it as a cliffhanger in All Roads Home. I then felt I wanted to bring more loneliness and some addiction awareness into the equation as these subjects, real or imagined, can be sad and frightful.

I felt that this book was a bit darker than the last collection. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this book?

I did want to go darker, bring more science fiction in but based off subjects that make people uncomfortable. Again the addiction issue, some odd poetry. As you said in your review, the short story The Crone was your favorite. It was also mine, too. And I love when something like that can just come upon me, the imagery and the way I want it to be read.

You also included a selection of poems in the section titled The Fragments. What was your favorite poem from the collection and how did you pick which poems made it into this collection?

The poems or fragments I write in between or even during a WIP. My favorites in this book were Clocks and The Water Globe, both having to do with the passage of time.

What is your process like for writing short stories? Does it differ from longer novels?

There’s a certain pace with short stories that I prefer. I may be inspired to write a longer novel one day, just not yet.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

All Roads Destined: A Collection of Dark Fiction and Poems by [Meyer, Lisa Diaz]Destiny is what we bring to the world where the roads are stained with tears and blood, and paved in eternal stone. In Part One, the continuation of The Outpost Trilogy shifts from post apocalyptic to science fiction. Part Two, The Enduring contains five dark fiction short stories. Part Three, The Fragments include fifteen poems of urgent struggle and destination. New York author, Lisa Diaz Meyer relates to the odd, macabre & funereal. ALL ROADS DESTINED is the second of her ALL ROADS trilogy.

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The Forsaken Book Trailer

In the distant future, religion is against the law, and the Earth is a war-torn world ruled by an insane United Nations. All military forces are put on high alert when an ex-bishop of the outlawed “Catholic Church” decides to steal an artifact called “The Shroud of Turin” to help save the Earth from herself. He claims to have the power to use the cloth to help bring about “The Second Coming” – but what’s even more terrifying: he might just do it!

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Return of the Sagan

Return of the Sagan by [O'Donnell, Neil Patrick]

Francis, a twenty-three year old man dealing with his own overwhelming fears brought on by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, happens to be humanity’s next best chance at establishing life on Earth once more. Traveling aboard the Sagan, Francis faces all the struggles of a man coping with life in space and the anxiety of having one of his own forgetful moments bring about the destruction of the entire vessel and all who inhabit it. As a professor and trusted expert, it is Francis to whom the rest of the crew turn to as they make plans to return to Earth. Forced to break out of his comfort zone and abandon the safety of his classic literature, Francis obliges and proceeds to help save life as it was once known.

Professor Francis Burns, the main character in Neil O’Donnell’s Return of the Sagan, is one of the richest and most well-drawn characters I have encountered in a book in the science fiction genre. He is endearing from his first appearance and continues throughout the book to be relatable on a level most characters never reach. Francis’s battle with OCD is just one of the many aspects that keeps him down-to-earth. His constant references to Tolkien and the effortless way with which he quotes lines from Tolkien’s novels make him a less intimidating personality among the other characters.

O’Donnell’s desire to pepper his text with pop culture references adds to the book’s overall appeal. I am not a science fiction fan, but familiar names, books, movies, and song titles pull me in and give me more of a reason to continue reading when the more technical lingo tends to have the opposite effect. The author places these pop culture hooks in the perfect spots throughout the reading.

The unique blend of science fiction and fantasy emphasized by Francis’s extensive knowledge of literature and history is quite amazing to behold. The repopulation of some of the world’s most endangered animals was beautiful to visualize. However, the reappearance of extinct species–and aggressive predators, at that–was simply breathtaking. I hesitate to compare it in any way to Jurassic Park, but in some small ways, O’Donnell’s story bears a resemblance to the original movie’s plot.

I have to admit, I saw the plot going in a much different direction once the crew reached Earth. I won’t say I am disappointed, but I will say, without giving away the ending, that I looked for a resolution that never arrived. O’Donnell has left me to reach some of my own conclusions–and that, I appreciate. Whereas, some readers prefer to have the story wrapped up in a nice little package by the concluding lines, I prefer an author leave me with the desire to reread for clues and leave the book open for a sequel. O’Donnell definitely inspires as many questions about the fate of Earth’s human population as he does answers about the resurgence of plant and animal life.

I give Return of the Sagan 5 out of 5 stars. With a relatable main character and a plot filled with action from the opening chapter, O’Donnell has provided readers with a hit. Science fiction fans who seek memorable characters will not be disappointed with Professor Francis Burns, his extensive knowledge base, and his undying love for J.R.R. Tolkien.

Pages: 304 | ASIN: B00SP4BOZS

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Characters to Love, Hate or Identify With

Lisa Diaz Meyer Author Interview

Lisa Diaz Meyer Author Interview

All Roads Home is a collection of your short stories covering many genres and topics. Did you write this collection with the intention of putting them together in a book or did you write them separately?

All the stories, poems and plays were written at different times in my life and I decided to put them together thinking to showcase the many different genres and writing styles I enjoy.

The book is split into six sections with each covering a different theme. The Enduring was my favorite section. What was your favorite from the collection?

The Outposts were my favorite to write as it was my first time trying a post-apocalyptic story line which I later I turned into a saga that runs throughout my current books.

What do you find enjoyable and challenging about writing short stories over longer novels?

I like the idea of creating short stories and many different worlds. The challenge is to pack as much of a punch in a small amount of pages and create characters to love, hate or identify with in a short amount of time.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on my fourth book of dark fiction short stories and poems. I am hoping to have it published in the early months of 2019 or sooner.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

All Roads Home: A Collection of Short Stories by [Diaz Meyer, Lisa]A collection of bizarre short stories, poems and plays.

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Interflow of Things

Interflow of Things by [Dröge, Dave]

The year is 2050 and the overreaching A.I. is about to achieve total domination of the planet. If it succeeds, the end of humanity is certain. No resistance is expected since the human race has been herded into obedience and a false sense of security using high tech illusions and complacency. But the resistance is brewing – the Free Hackers are moving in the shadows, avoiding the scanners, blending with the crowd. They will cross the world, from Rotterdam to Sicily and all the way to California, in hopes of stopping the inevitable.

Interflow of Things by David Droge is a highly realistic vision of the future brought about by the constant revolutions in computing we have been witnessing in the past few decades. His A.I. starts its journey in our time but quickly spreads to control the world from the shadows. Its insatiable hunger for processing power has it manipulating governments and even change entire stratas of society. It uses high tech gadgetry to mask its debilitating effect on the planet. I enjoyed the superbly technical implementation of the technology which was always believable, especially when we remember how human totalitarian regimes have been able to accomplish the same effect without it.

Human emotions are the bedrock of its power – living in the A.I. controlled reality is comfortable. So much so that unplugging from it requires drug treatments and therapy. Julia, the first character we meet, needed extensive therapy provided by the Free Hackers before she got her emotions and clarity of mind back. And she was one of the lucky ones. Augmented reality dream is a prison of your own mind and you carry it everywhere. Why wouldn’t you? It makes everything, vision, smell, feel and touch, more beautiful! Droge is able to touch and develop every detail of the story so that you are completely immersed by the time you are just a few chapters in.

But the human emotion is something the A.I. doesn’t understand. Throughout the book we get inklings into the operation of this vast mind. Millions of calculations are being done in hopes of understanding basic human concepts and abilities, all in vain.

These passages serve the purpose of giving us the idea of the incomprehensible A.I.’s motivations. They turn out to be one of the few passages of the book that make sense. Dave Droge has translated this novel into English and the results could have been better. A layered and interesting world of the future was hard for me to comprehend. His human characters are intriguing but their motivation was obscured by poor translation.

Interflow of Things – the name of the novel is an obvious, ominous allusion to the current “Internet of Things” trend in computing integrated with ordinary business of living. It shows the future that we might be heading in. Droge gives us a warning that we might become willing slaves of computer controlled social constructs that we don’t really understand or care to understand. If the object of our desires is a real person or an android, will we know? Will we even care at that point? This is a fantastic science fiction story that can only get better.

Pages: 196 | ASIN: B07BTT6KRK

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All Roads Shattered: A Collection of Dark Fiction Short Stories and Poems

All Roads Shattered: A Collection of Dark Fiction Short Stories and Poems by [Meyer, Lisa Diaz ]

All Roads Shattered by Lisa Meyer is the third book in the All Roads collection. This collection of dark fiction stories and poems begins with The Outposts III, which satisfyingly continues with the story of Georgia and Mitchell who we have been following through both books one and two. As we left them in book two to come to terms with their new life together, in this collection, Lisa picks up with the journey the two still must endure.

Then there is a three-part story in the form of People of Gods, a haunting selection of 12 pieces of poetry in the section titled Fragments, two further extended stories in the section The Enduring and finally, to end the collection, three small but perfectly formed short and simple stories which pack a huge punch in the section of The Oddities!

The Oddities features three ‘out there’ stories with Preacher, Crooks, and Helge. In a word, wow is what springs to mind when reading through each of them!

With Preacher, I never saw it coming at all, but the conclusion was oh so satisfying! Crooks was a great concept and equally mesmerizing. However, Helge had to be the most disturbing story of them all! I had, in fact, become so captivated by the last three stories that I wasn’t expecting the book to end when it did.

Helge produced some near awful visions in my mind as I read through, think Jack the Ripper style, back streets of grey and misty London; enough to give you nightmares. Yet, it was a tremendous and thoroughly satisfying end to a superb collection.

Having read both the first and second books in the collection, a part of me would have thought that perhaps by now Lisa may have run out of steam. After all, All Roads Home and All Roads Destined were for me, both 5 star reads. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

When you have read all three books, you may begin to feel that Lisa has a stronger connection to the futuristic sci-fi genre. This is perhaps because it is always the more extensive of stores and at the very beginning of each collection, with a continuation throughout the three.

However, in All Roads Shattered, the story I found the most compelling and atmospheric was Dinner with Myles. This was a story which I didn’t want to leave and could easily imagine Lisa writing a book based on this genre; such was it handled so well.

The ending to this story was, yet again, superbly accomplished by Lisa, as all her short stories have been throughout. However, I would still love for her to write a prequel to this one! Neil and Myles are wonderfully drawn, and complex characters and I could very well imagine them as partners working on crimes and investigating mysteries!

The great thing about reading Lisa Meyer’s collections is that each one gets better as you go along. That is particularly hard to achieve for many writers of such collections, but the All Roads Shattered collection is perhaps the most extensive and best written one yet.

It almost feels as though Lisa’s confidence has grown with each outing and this is therefore reflected in the intensity and broader scope of her writing. Her stories seem to expand and take on a deeper meaning in their unique genres in this collection, and I believe her writing style almost borders along the lines of perfection this time.

If you only manage to read one story, then Dinner with Myles should be that one. I can guarantee you that once you’ve sampled this nearly perfect piece of prose, you will feel compelled to read on.

Pages: 252 | ASIN: B0718Z38LD

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All Roads Destined: A Collection of Dark Fiction and Poems

All Roads Destined: A Collection of Dark Fiction and Poems by [Meyer, Lisa Diaz]

All Roads Destined by Lisa Diaz Meyer is the second book in the All Roads Trilogy. Consisting of a collection of dark fiction stories and poems, the book is divided into sections including one story in four parts, four shorter stories and a selection of poems to finish off with. I would strongly recommend reading Lisa’s first collection, All Roads Home, as the four-part story in this collection continues from a story in the first book, charting the characters activities since we last read about them in book one.

Slightly different than the format of her first collection, All Roads Destined leads with a prologue and then three parts of one short story, alternating in each chapter with Mitchell, Gerard, and Georgia.

The Building, The Alpha Post, The People’s Government and Notas Territory are all chapters of a story which cleverly links back to the first book and includes the character of Georgia, whom we discovered was being held as the subject of scientist’s aim for cancer immune females.

Previously, Georgia finally escaped the people who were working on her as an experiment and now has her baby Sylvie with her as well as her partner Mitchell, equaling her own little family. However, there’s still a way to go and escaping her captor’s clutches was only the first part of this journey.

Immediately dark at the first-page of the prologue, with a superbly built up tension permeating the very start of this book, we begin with Georgia once again, though we know very little about the mass confusion that is happening at this moment in time.

The flip between narratives in this story is an excellent way at holding your interest long enough and succeeds at explaining a little about the primary doctor, Dr. Gerard, who worked on Georgia for many years. This is one short story which is experimental in structure, but fascinating to read!

The middle section of the collection is titled The Enduring, and it is here where perhaps my favorite story of the book is, called The Crone. So simplistic in its action but so stylish in its deliverance, this is the story that highlights how easy it is to conjure up any one of Lisa’s characters instantly. However, here the prose also excels. With Harret and the returned Berkstadt left to live out their remaining time together in their beautiful kingdom, this was a thoroughly satisfying and complete short story.

Finally, Lisa has included a selection of poems in the section titled The Fragments. Personally, I found these poems more satisfying than those in the first collection.

I enjoyed the poetry section even more as I’m very selective about poems and won’t automatically reach for a book of poetry when purchasing my preferred books. So, to have it included in a collection such as this encourages you to read it, seeing as you’ve read the stories, and its addition opens your eyes to something new and different.

Ultimately, The Fragments serves as an entirely satisfactory ending to yet again, a beautiful collection.

Pages: 217 | ASIN: B01M0DVEO1

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Damaged Beyond All Recognition

Damaged Beyond All Recognition (Infinity's Trinity Book 1) by [Felyk, Alan]

No one has seen God’s library–or have they? According to Paul Tomenko, actress Katharine Ross is hanging out there. When he is chosen by God to visit his heavenly library and, in essence, save humankind, Paul obliges. Following his brush with death as a result of a car accident, Paul is matched by fate with the woman who almost killed him thus changing the entire course of his life. Author Alan Felyk’s Damaged Beyond All Recognition details the exceptional journey of Paul, the two true loves of his life, and their combined impact upon the universe.

Paul Tomenko is a truly fascinating character. From the trials and tribulations of his youth to his eventual discovery of his love for Maggie Mae and his work for the Creator himself, Paul is strangely relatable. I found myself cheering him on as his writing career reached extraordinary heights and grieving with him through his numerous losses.

Allie, Paul’s second first love as it were, is likely my favorite of the three main characters in Felyk’s work. It is virtually impossible to imagine a young woman so innocent and simultaneously capable of unknowingly holding the answers to the world’s most pressing dilemma. As Allie begins her writing career in earnest and essentially outwrites and outsells Paul, she maintains her selflessness and an unwavering loyalty to Paul. Her devotion to a man she isn’t sure she will ever have is stunning.

Not being a fan of science fiction, I fully expected to lose interest in the most detailed sections of text. Felyk, however, is a master at communicating the most intricate and advanced concepts. I found myself as engrossed in Paul’s visits to God’s library as I was in his relationship with Maggie Mae which he fought so hard to maintain through decades of trials.

I was rather amazed at Felyk’s take on God. The Creator is ultimately dependent upon others, and this mystified me as I read. The notion that Paul is able to help God was a difficult one to get used to. Once I let the idea settle in, I became increasingly fascinated with God’s helplessness. Felyk brings a certain level of vulnerability to God–something virtually unheard of in books addressing Christianity in any sense.

The overarching plot line that kept me coming back for more revolves around Paul and Maggie Mae. To say that readers will envy their dedication to one another is a huge understatement. As years and miles separate them, they do not waver in their loyalty to one another. Felyk proves he is adept at fantasy and equally as skilled at writing heartbreaking romance.

I am giving Damaged Beyond All Recognition 5 out of 5 stars. I can’t imagine readers will find anything lacking in Felyk’s work. His characters have it all: humor, an undying loyalty in each other, a drive to save the world, and an appreciation for all things science. Paul, Maggie Mae, and Allie can hold their own against any characters in recent books of the same genre.

Pages: 367 | ASIN: B077VJGJCD

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