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Greater Things Than Thou

Greater Things Than Thou (Blood of the Prince Book 1) by [Dean, R.L.]

His first memories were of his town burning to the ground. He doesn’t remember his parents or where he lived, only flames, death, and fear. Baler, a mentally unstable ‘king’ to his community of bandits, takes him to raise as his own son. In this bandit camp he is known only as boy. On a raid several years later Galin and Garret save him and give him a real home, hone his skills and give him a name, Patrin. A mix of medieval style living and culture with an alien technology thrown in to add a unique twist to the tale of an exiled king recovering his thrown.

Greater Things than Thou by R. L. Dean is well written with each chapter starting out with a sort of monologue / overview from his perspective as an old man. On the surface the setting and time period is that of medieval style though not from standard Europe. There are clear class systems from farmers to royalty. Most technology, for the non-Gifted, is what you would find in Medieval times, horses, carts and crossbows. The world that R. L. Dean has created involves the addition of an alien technology. This technology allows them to heal at remarkable levels and see things within their mind that no one else can see. It increases their intelligence and augments their bodies based on their individual packages and their jobs. Patrin is trying to destroy all remaining tech to prevent further use of it by anyone. The remainder of the story is his life from a small boy to young adult. I really liked the detail that went into Patrin’s thoughts and how he processed everything. How he adapted to each new situation life throws at him, and the technology that is implanted into his body. He is genuinely a character that wants to see the good and morality in all people and do the right thing. He eludes to his oath to Galin as being the cause of his moral missteps and failings later in life. The reader can get a real feel for the people he develops emotions for, Garret, Serin, Xadik and especially Lena. His relationship with Lena is one of young love, the awkwardness of first loves, and highlights the complications of his life thanks to his oath of loyalty to Galin.

As the first book in the series, Blood of the Prince, it is a great introduction to the main characters and how Patrin gets his start in life. Based on the monologues at the beginning of the chapters, I can tell the rest of this series is going to be full of adventures, plot twists, and action. It is a story about loyalty even to a fault, finding your way, and redemption of character. This is going to be an exciting series to follow.

Pages: 283 | ASIN: B077BVF5HT

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The Misplaced Man

The Misplaced Man: Who is in charge of his destiny? by [James, Nick]

Sam Blades is not your ordinary twenty-something. He has a girlfriend whose abuse he relishes, a job with company whose name could and should be attributed to that of a lingerie label, and an almost absurd fixation with The Matrix. Sam is, on the other hand, a curiosity to more than one person of interest. His job with Shimmering Dreams has made him a target, and poor Sam is none the wiser. Shimmering Dreams capitalizes on the technology that makes it possible to download one’s dreams and store them on mobile devices. Sam, caught in the middle of the “greatest invention its age” and the conspiracy surrounding its misuse, is about to meet face to face with those who want him out of the picture once and for all.

The Misplaced Man by Nick James is a short story/novella centering around Sam Blades, a young man newly-employed and eager to please his beyond demanding girlfriend, Bunny. Nick James is a master at humor, and his main character is his chosen vessel. Not meant entirely as a work of comedy, James provides several laugh-out-loud moments as Sam struggles in his day-to-day life with Bunny. It is rare for me to find the written word comical enough to emit an audible guffaw, but James definitely delivers. Sam’s personality more than makes the book; he is a memorable character in his own right and is well-developed in first-person accounts.

James’s choice to alternate chapters with varying first-person accounts is quite effective. The story, though brief, is packed full of descriptive and revealing scenarios which serve well to differentiate each character. As the reader, I was easily able to discern which character was taking his turn at bat without having to rely on the chapter title–James is just that good at character development.

It is worth noting that The Misplaced Man is a combination of realistic fiction and science fiction but leans heavily on the realistic fiction element. The book is much more about each character’s own personal conflicts than the underlying component of groundbreaking technology. As interesting as the concept of capturing dreams is, it is explored and detailed much less than some science fiction fans will likely expect.

Sam Blades is ruthlessly humorous and has the makings of a fantastic central character for his ensuing series. I recommend Nick James’s short story to anyone looking for a quick science fiction piece with strong characters laced with humor.

Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07K3Q6QRD

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Real-World Conflict

Sarah Katz Author Interview

Sarah Katz Author Interview

Apex Five is a thrilling science fiction story following several races as they try to restore the balance of power to the Plane. What was the inspiration for the setup to this novel?

Thank you kindly! The inspiration for this clash of civilizations largely stemmed from real-world conflict, such as ongoing political strife in the Middle East and the colonization of the Americas and Australia.

We’re introduced to many different and distinct races throughout this book. What were some themes you wanted to capture in each race?

With the dominant nation of Tabira, I seek to capture an adamant emphasis on technology as the primary means of progress. With the Lir and Garo, I aim to capture two nations at war, though each representing a side two the occupier-freedom fighter coin. Each sees the other as the perpetrator of oppression and violence. Finally, the Ayam symbolize the nation least impacted by technology and industrialization.

I really enjoyed the character progression in this story and the ease with which you introduced each. Who was your favorite character to write for?

My favorite character has to be Rohem. Writing for a person who doesn’t even know where they come from is always interesting, as it allows for relatively free reign as far as their life decisions. That said, Oria is a close second, as her proximity to super-human individuals despite not being one herself provides the opportunity for much self-improvement and exploration as she learns how best to help protect her nation.

This is book one in The Plane series. Where will book two pick up and when will it be available?

Book Two will pick up quite literally from the scene where Book One left off. This sequel, Eon One, should be available by late 2019.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

Apex Five (The Plane Book 1) by [Katz, Sarah]For millennia, the people of the Plane have worshipped five megaliths as relics of the mysterious Zaam. In recent years, the nation of Tabira has employed remarkably advanced technology to subjugate the entire Plane and eradicate all belief in the Zaam. 

Now, the three remaining nations must uncover the secret behind Tabira’s sudden forward leap in civilization. At the forefront, a doctor, three intelligence officers and a freedom fighter embark on their respective journeys to restore a balance of power to the Plane.

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The Infinite Wisdom

The Infinite Wisdom (The Snow Adventures Book 2) by [Estes, Danny C]

You can tell a good book from the first chapter. I loved the first paragraph, as the author used animal characters which I enjoyed reading. The story line is fun, and the reader easily falls in love with the characters. One good thing about this book is that the reader learns a few lessons after every chapter. Reading about animal characters is exciting, as apart from the knowledge we have about animals, the author added other traits to make the book more interesting.

Mr. Thomas Thelin and his wife were among my favorite characters in the book. I also loved Mrs. Svea Dovell as she was a bold character. She was also not afraid of showing her disgust towards the characters she didn’t like. Though aggressive at times, I loved her attitude. Some stories are broken into smaller bits, which make it easy for the reader to understand.

What better way of making the book a little colorful than to add pictures of characters? I loved that the author added images in between the chapters which made it easier to picture the characters’ habits and their physical looks. Johnny Roo’s outfit fits his character.

The Infinite Wisdom is a great read for fans of the fantasy genre as I found this book to be engrossing. The character development, as I’ve seen in many pieces by Danny Estes, is superb. Using anthropomorphic animals to tell the story adds an extra layer of intrigue to every piece of character interaction. This book is a fun read and I was quickly swept away as the characters navigate a genetics lab and track down the hairless apes.

The Infinite Wisdom is an excellent book for both young adults and anyone looking for a lighthearted read that still captures your imagination. Like any good author, Danny Estes has a good command of language and sets his character up for twists that I surely didn’t see coming.

I enjoy books that make me lose myself when reading and this book did exactly that. I couldn’t stop once I started.

Pages: 287 | ASIN: B07HD79PW5

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Replace Normal Human Beings

Stefan Vucak Author Interview

Stefan Vucak Author Interview

Lifeliners follows Nash as he navigates a tumultuous future with the next evolution of human’s, lifeliners. What was the inspiration behind lifeliners and how did that develop as you were writing?

Lifeliners began as an idea for a short story on a long flight from Europe to Melbourne, Australia, my home. I always have my notebook handy, never knowing when inspiration would strike. Tired of browsing through inflight entertainment, I began jotting down notes to flesh out a story about an emerging new human able to draw energy from someone by touching them. From previous reading and watching documentaries, I knew that birthrates in Western countries have been falling for a while, accompanied by growing sterility. Could this be a product of our high-pressure technological lifestyle and high density urban living? I decided to develop this theme into a story. Nature decided that lifeliners were the answer to who would over time replace normal human beings. Of course, people would not be prepared to simply let lifeliners take over, but that only added to the story’s depth.

Well, I wrote the short story, posted it on my website, and I thought I was done with it. Time to finish what was then my latest book project Legitimate Power. Once I had it published, I began reviewing ideas for a new book – and kept coming back to lifeliners. It was one thing to write a short story, but fleshing it out into a full-length novel was not something I had in mind, wanting to write another contemporary political drama/thriller. But the bug had bitten me and the characters clamored to have their say. Lifeliners began to haunt my days. The only way I would have peace was to write the damned book, and I was glad that I did.

I really enjoyed Nash’s character and the relationship he has with Cariana. What were some important themes for you when creating these characters and their relationship?

Nash was a lifeliner in a social environment that is growing increasingly hostile, fanned by propaganda by governments the world over – it was easy to blame lifeliners for the problems people had. His natural instinct was to survive, and if possible, secure his future, provided no one found out he was a lifeliner. Having someone to love, raise a family, was an obvious and normal goal, but one he was not sure he could achieve. Would it not be better to wall himself in from social contact and ride out whatever troubles might lay ahead? That is how he lived for a few years, especially after thugs murdered his first love, Sally. Meeting Cariana, not a lifeliner, generated normal human feelings, and he ignored his inner warnings and allowed himself to become ensnared by her, which regrettably led to all the subsequent unpleasantness. Having found out that remaining walled in did not work, he needed to change things, not only for himself, but other lifeliners as well. This led to a gradual transformation of his world view and as a person.

Falling in love with Cariana, cool, beautiful and accomplished, was easy. Her work as a geneticist alarmed Nash, knowing that she could expose him, and if the relationship was to mature, he would have to reveal himself to her anyway and face possible rejection. For Cariana, starting to fall for Nash, she faced a psychological burden having her brother killed by a drunken lifeliner. It embittered her against all lifeliners. She recognized the sick nature of her attitude, but she could not help herself. When she learned that Nash was a lifeliner, the image of him as a dashing prince was shattered, and she hated him, yet she could not extinguish her love for him. I believe the interplay of emotions and feelings the two had for each other, and the emotional baggage both carried, hopefully made them more real, something readers would expect in any couple.

I enjoyed the realistic portrayal of science in this story. Did you conduct any research for this book, or were these things you were thinking about?

Although the idea of drawing bioelectromagnetic energy from another person is a fictional foray, I spent a lot of time researching material for Lifeliners, which reinforced the information I already had about the complexity of human biochemistry. The loss of our ability to synthesize pyruvate into leucine and valine is a fact, as are their functions. However, I have taken some liberty when I suggested that lifeliners can also synthesize vitamin C. But who knows what nature may have in store for us in the future. Although Lifeliners is a work of fiction, I always thoroughly research every one of my contemporary novels to ensure the validity of my facts and that I do not stray too far from what is scientifically possible with my science fiction.

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

Having just completed Lifeliners, and busy marketing it, I need to take a break and recharge my creative battery. It usually takes me a couple of months before I start nurturing ideas, seeing which of them can be turned into a novel. However, this does not mean that I have stopped writing. As a matter of fact, I just added a new short story to my collection, Doorways of the Mind, and I have another that I will write within the next few days. Until the urge overcomes me to tackle a new novel, I will be spending some of my time doing book reviews and editing for other authors.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

Lifeliners by [Vucak, Stefan]When everybody is against them, it is tough being a lifeliner, as Nash Bannon found out. Lifeliners are ordinary people…almost. They can draw energy from another person; they live longer and are smarter. Scientists claim that Western high-pressure living and growing sterility in developed countries has triggered the rise of lifeliners, and homo sapiens will replaced by homo renata within ten generations. So, what’s not to like about lifeliners? Protest marches by extremist groups, riots, attacks against lifeliners, repressive laws enacted by governments everywhere, were portents of a dark future. Young, successful, Nash Bannon did not like what was going on, but he thought he had the world at his feet and life in Australia was good, provided no one found out he was a lifeliner. A chance encounter with Cariana during a lunchbreak develops into something he considered important. The Australian government calls a snap election, and Nash stands as a Senate candidate on the Lifeliner Party ticket. Unless lifeliners rise up and fight for their rights, they can expect sterilization, incarceration, and possible extermination as democracies everywhere turn into autocracies. To survive, the Lifeliner Party must employ the same dirty tricks the government used against them, but they were not prepared for what awaited them.

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What if it Were Possible?

What if it Were Possible? by [Collins, C. Ray]Ray Collins’s book, What if it Were Possible?, is a space-age adventure set not too far in the future. Protagonist, Ray Holland, finds himself heading up a top-secret mission that he didn’t sign up for. He had spent his career working in public relations for NASA, and is a self-proclaimed “average guy.” He couldn’t have predicted that he would be leading a crew of ex-cons on a recognizance mission into the unknown. Ray and the crew set out on this dangerous mission knowing they won’t see earth for years, if ever again. Like any good adventure, there are I was figurative and literal bumps throughout the journey.

This is an entertaining space adventure story that appealed to the kid in me that is always hoping for a whirlwind adventure. The book flows well, but sometimes hit patches where it would drag. I wanted them to get to space so badly that the buildup was killing me. I liked the way the middle section was written with Ray’s logs giving insight into current scenarios and how much time had passed. I preferred the writing in the parts that dealt with space travel. Apart from a few typos the book is written very well. They were few and far between.

Collins did a great job of explaining how the ship flew with the cabin area moving independently of the ship to keep that area level. He explained the ship’s technology in an understandable way. He also explained the wormhole and other space elements in a way that made sense. I didn’t get too lost in the details and could get a pretty good grasp on what was happening and how.

I wasn’t a big fan of the “aliens” being so similar to the people of earth. I could have gotten past the physicality being the same, but there were an overwhelming number of similarities that I couldn’t wrap my head around. Being an 80s/90s kid, I loved the Star Trek and Star Wars throwback references. It was a nice way of keeping everything from getting too technical or heavy. It also showed Ray’s humanity and made his character one that will be identifiable to readers. The references also made it feel like the story wasn’t too far from our own reality or time.

There is a love story that develops in the begginging chapters that I would of liked to see developed further, but the story takes a sharp turn into an entertaining space adventure story and left that bit behind.

What if it Were Possible? was a good read that I recommend to readers of the Sci-Fi genre, especially anyone looking for a space adventure story that stays true to it’s roots. The journey through space was my favorite part and kept me engaged. Readers will root for Ray and his crew of misfits. I look forward to reading more of their adventures in the future.

Pages: 292 | ASIN: B077ZDCWBN

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The Enigma Source

The Enigma Source (The Enigma Series Book 10) by [Breakfield, Charles V, Burkey, Roxanne E]

Su Lin and Andy have everything they want on their farm–solitude, livestock to occupy them, and one another. Most importantly, Su Lin is worlds away from her old life. However, Su Lin and Andy are not as free from Su Lin’s past endeavors as they would like to believe. She is a genius in her own right, and that, in and of itself, may just be the downfall of her family and the entire team. As digital currencies begin to lurk behind the world’s financial curtain, Su Lin rises as one of the most desired faces on the planet as she possesses the unbreakable code that can help turn the world’s currency system upside down.

The Enigma Source, by Charles V. Breakfield and Roxanne E. Burkey, features the dynamic team from Breakfield and Burkey’s long list of Enigma books and is every bit as engaging and brimming with technological advancements as each of the pair’s previous installments in the series. The Enigma Source takes readers on a journey eighty years into the past as events in Poland are related via a set of books discovered by Jacob. Throughout the book, the authors have juxtaposed Jacob’s reading of said books with the events endured by Su Lin, Andy, and the rest of the team as they fight to stop Su Lin’s nemesis, Guano.

I am never disappointed in the strength and depth of the relationships between Breakfield and Burkey’s characters. Su Lin and Andy are the focus of The Enigma Source. Their love is intense, endures each and every test thrown their way, and is to be envied. They are among the most vivid of the authors’ couples–second only to Juan and Julie.

I didn’t want to be, but I was struck by Mathias’s sense of loss over Dutch. Breakfield and Burkey have a way of making the reader see the humanity in their antagonists. A sense of pity and sorrow overwhelmed me as I read of Mathias’s grief and his tragic revelation with regards to his own staggering lack of true friendships.

ICABOD, the ever-present supercomputer, remains one of the most fascinating aspects of the Enigma series. ICABOD is a unique blend of technology and humor. Throughout the book, the team of experts turns to ICABOD for intelligence and briefings and are able to obtain the needed information almost instantly–always amazing. In addition, there exists a friendly banter between the team members and the supercomputer that lends a welcome level of levity to rather serious and many times, dark situations.

ICABOD is only the beginning of the advancements peppering Breakfield and Burkey’s work. I was fascinated by the capsule used to track Su Lin’s movements. As she prepares to fly to China, her ingestion of the tiny encapsulated tracker mesmerized me. As with each of the other Enigma books, the authors’ storylines are rich with technology that will wow readers from the first page.

I am giving The Enigma Source, by Breakfield and Burkey, an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars. Rich characters and spellbinding storylines permeate The Enigma Source. Readers looking to take a leap into the depths of the digital age will find everything they want within the covers of Breakfield and Burkey’s The Enigma Source.

Pages: 351 | ASIN: B07GD6S9SP

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A Fire in the West

A Fire in the West: Stonegate Book 3 by [Fox, Harry James, Midgway, Lucia]

A Fire in the West is a Christian fantasy novel that is the third installment in the Stonegate Series. The third book takes place a hundred years after the first two, in the west of the Rocky Mountains. Even though the book takes place in the future, it seems that civilization has taken a back step. The novel takes place in the United States, and even though some locations are easily recognizable to the reader, it’s evident that they have changed in many ways. The one thing that has completely changed are the characters within the novel. They are left without the technological advances needed or wanted to face life’s challenges. They’re faced with evil and have to work together to battle it while keeping their basic values intact.

One of the big things that I appreciated within this novel was the authenticity of the main characters. I found there to be a good mix of characters and all were believable. Harry James Fox and Lucia Mudgway do a great job at giving each character a level of complexity that makes them more interesting. The authors also do a good job at setting up the dystopian future that the characters are living in, so these aspects of the novel are believable to the reader as well. I can see how the break from the social norm and downfall of technology came about.

Even though this was the last book in trilogy, the reader can still follow along with the story line without having to read the first to books. It’s a good enough story to want to go back and read the first two however.

I thought that the theme of Christianity within the story was a bit off from what I was expecting. We understand from the beginning of the novel that Christianity has remained with the characters despite the collapse of just about everything else. This story line provides the argument that once everything else is gone, our faith in God remains. But the characters don’t discuss or display an intimate relationship with him throughout the novel. I felt that there was no specific relationship with God illustrated throughout the novel, and I thought that the characters also don’t seem to give a second thought to the devil or the idea of hell. He’s present within the novel, but I never got the feeling that the characters actually feared him, it was more of a loathing towards him. These missing pieces aren’t necessarily a bad thing, just something that I thought might have been incorporated into the tale.

This book can be read and enjoyed by adults and young adults. Fox and Mudgway work together to create an interesting story that keep the reader’s attention and harkens back to an important aspect of any society, culture, or religion – morality.

Pages: 343 | ASIN: B07DRRMZLF

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The Korpes File

Few debut books attempt to achieve what J. I. Rogers set out to achieve, and even fewer are able to create a story that is so unlike everything else out there. The Korpes File is one such work and a stellar debut novel for Rogers. Nash Korpes, a technician, born a Diasporan, the underclass of his world. When he is marked by the ruling class as a threat due to his genetic make-up, it is up to his own intelligence to fight back against not only the ones who hunt him, but the entire ruling class that looks down on everything from their comfortable high-rises.

The goal of Nash and fighting what is essentially the 1% in Korpes’ world is both thrilling and interesting. And danger is never far from the characters in the form of corporate assassins, mass killings, and political intrigue. It is truly a dangerous, but wondrous world to inhabit all at the same time. The city states hide underground from the caustic rains on the surface, while the elites work on new ways to maintain control by subverting the masses under them.

Both a gritty thriller and action-packed adventure, The Korpes File is a fast-paced race to the end, as Nash attempts to survive in this dystopian world. Yet, all of our investment isn’t solely spent on Nash, but on the plethora of other characters who fill these pages. The multiple points-of-view is surprising, especially in a first novel, but Rogers is able to pull this off by making sure all of his characters are dynamic, and at their core real “people.” This was probably one of the best parts of this book, and feeling all of their motivations and emotions was a particular pleasure, especially in a genre when the focus can rely too much on background technology or plot. Some of the pacing at times became a little strange with Rogers’ choice to skip over years in places, but it seemed to be a wash by the end.

It isn’t often that a dystopian thriller can rise on a new set of legs, but Rogers sure does that here and makes sure that the start of his new series starts off running. This book will be a pleasure to readers of all genres, as long as they can tolerate a gritty undertone and sometimes brutal violence. If they can trust Nash, then they will be in good hands.

Pages: 342 | ASIN: B06XCZNTK7

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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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