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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The novel Modern Day Cowboy: The Making of a Gunfighter depicts the life of Mattie, a young woman living in the middle of nowhere, Canada. Mattie struggles to recover from a painful incident which took the life of a mentally disabled boy that she cared for, and as a result, Mattie takes up employment at the local gun shop in town. It isn’t long before the owner senses Mattie’s need for revenge, and sends her to a boot camp in Arizona to train to become a gunfighter. She quickly becomes proficient at her newly acquired trade. But being rising talent comes with many disadvantages, as other female gunfighters come out to challenge Mattie. When she’s not off to a fight, she is conflicted with feelings for her contract and love interest, David. When his safety is threatened, unlikely friends come to Mattie’s defense, and old histories begin to reveal themselves.
What’s most interesting about this story is the idea of real life gun-fighting. The concept is very unique and Nathaniel Sheft really brings this hobby to life with his novel. The possibility of the organization, a multi-billion-dollar underground business, where women are trained for months at a time to go out and kill each other in a few brief seconds is fascinating. It’s even more empowering that the novel focuses on the sport as it is played by women. Sheft really challenges gender roles and introduces us to some of the most conniving, evil, clever, and entertaining female characters throughout this book, and it’s nice to read through a novel where the protagonist is a strong female character. Mattie’s transformation from depressed, isolated girl, to confident a, in your face, woman is what gives the story it’s flavor. She shows readers that you don’t have to be drop down beautiful or have any sort of history in etiquette. As long as you’re determined to accomplish your goals, you’ll be alright in the end.
The drawbacks to this novel however was that the writing style fluctuates between being great and just okay, especially when it came to dialogue or the inner monologue of characters. When any of the characters were joking or angry, their dialogue came through as more aggressive, however, the language was more colloquial – some slang words here, mispronunciations there, which is fine. However, it was unbelievable for every character to speak in that manner when they were angry. Also, throughout the book, we get a lot of David and Mattie’s inner monologues. These are so elegant, almost philosophical, especially with David. It’s such a strong contrast to the average, or less than polite language found throughout the rest of the novel. It seems that many characters in the novel have the same sort of inner monologue, so it doesn’t leave room for much originality in the words and thoughts of the characters. The language used to describe a scene was jumbled or vague at times which made it difficult to figure out the setting, who was talking, what action was going on, and what point in time the story was actually taking place.
Overall, the idea behind Modern Day Cowboy is intriguing and leads to fascinating possibilities.
Pages: 487 | ASIN: B01LXC2GTL
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The Heart of Hannen follows Christine Clavin who is not a typical teenage girl, her past is marred by a violent attack. This tenacious teenager must survive a dark world where men own women like cattle. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this story?
I wanted to see if I could fuse all the genres that I love into one work. I’m a huge horror fan. I love the way it makes my heart race and my skin crawl. But I also enjoy a good fantasy, especially those set in dystopian worlds where it’s a constant battle just to stay alive. I guess I just love a good challenge. Add to that my love of a steamy romance and the result is what I like to call a fantastic, erotic, horrific tale like no other.
Christine could use her wits, temper, and sharp tongue to do great things, even under the control of an oppressive culture and evil men. What morals and obstacles did you feel were important to highlight the character’s development?
Christine’s primary obstacle is her violent temper. She quickly comes to realize that failing to control it could mean her demise in this new brutal world. She must win the battle against her own inner demons if she is to survive the monsters of Atriia.
The best part of this book was the invented language. How did you set about creating such a unique and interesting language?
I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed the Atriian language. Unfortunately, not everyone shares that sentiment. This is a series that takes a bit of extra work. It didn’t make sense to throw Christine into a completely foreign world where they spoke perfect English. At the same time, I didn’t want to make the Atriian language so difficult that it would detract from the reading experience. It’s primarily English, with a smattering of Atriian words, most of which have meanings that are easily deduced. Sola=sun, sol=day, luna=moon, lun=night, aya=yes, naya=no, and so forth. I tried to introduce the words slowly, a few per chapter, so the reader didn’t need to constantly turn to the dictionary. As the story progressed, the language grew word by word until it was more extensive than initially intended. By the end of book III, my readers are fabulously fluent in Atriian.
The Heart of Hannen is book one in the Atriian Trilogy. Where does the next book in the series take your characters?
Book II takes poor Christine to horrible places. Just horrible. And book III, oh my gosh, horrendous!
Christine, a troubled teen with a dark past, is miserable in her small town. Shadowed in shame, she feels destined to live her lonely life as an outcast. She has no idea that her true destiny lies in a different town, in a different world; a most brutal world called Atriia. There she learns the true meaning of misery, the true meaning of loneliness, the true meaning of shame. But she also learns that her bravery is boundless as she battles against a formidable foe, a dark shadow that tries to smother the land. And in the arms of a most unlikely candidate, she also learns the true meaning of love. He is Hannen Fallier, the one they call the foul fraigen dropper, revered by men for his fearless feats, but looked upon by women with open disdain. With a face horribly mauled, he hides behind a mask of shame, deeming himself unworthy of love. That he would seek acceptance from Christine is irony in its purest form. That he would seek her love . . . the ultimate betrayal.
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In a whirlwind of action and danger, peppered with instances of magic, Master Athina by Danny C. Estes comes to a gallant close. For four books we have followed the journey of Jim, construction manager from our world into the body of Athina; lady of another world. Jim’s evolution into Athina as a full human being has been carefully crafted and readers should be satisfied with how things have come to pass. Our poor Athina has lost the voice of Jim but retained his knowledge and parts of his personality. It is as if they have melded to become a new Athina. Unfortunately, as we have well learned, Athina does not have an easy life.
Our story picks up a short while from where it left off. Athina is happily married and is about to have twins. She has learned that her entire existence was not two souls switching occupation in her body, but one soul that has lived two lifetimes. This revelation is incredible in that it takes the struggles Jim had in being in a young woman’s body and feeling out of place and brings about the idea of reincarnation and multiple lives. Estes does a great job in slowly, but surely, melting the two into one throughout the course of the Athina series.
There is only one disappointment in this book and that is the very few spelling errors that pop up now and then. It doesn’t take away from the story, but it is a sharp distraction in a series that has obviously been crafted with care.
Athina has been born into a world where her greatest short coming is the fact that she is a woman. There is much she cannot do because of her gender and it shows in her frustration when the rebuilding of her home commences. She clearly has the knowledge to be a master builder, yet she is not allowed to. Athina does obtain her Master title, however, in a discipline that might come as a surprise to readers of the series. It is a title that she wears with confidence and brings about some unexpected conversations.
The action scenes in this novel are still well written and important to the tale. There is no action just for the sake of action which can be a downfall for many fantasy-adventure stories. Estes knows his craft and he has definitely had the time to hone it.
Master Athina opens with a helpful and refreshing prologue which considerably compresses the events in the previous books. This is great for those who have gone a long time between installments and need a refresher, or for those who are picking up Master Athina without reading the predecessors. This final installment in such a thrilling adventure that wraps up the journey nicely and should satisfy all curiosity while leaving bits for the imagination to go wild over.
Pages: 316 | ASIN: B01FPDV1LS
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Storm of Arranon by Robynn Sheahan is a science-fiction fantasy saga of Erynn and her people. This book is a fictional self-journey. Erynn is not entirely who she thinks she is, and as a result, she goes on an epic adventure of self-discovery and acceptance. Along with her personal growth, she discovers another world within her world. Erynn then embarks on a journey with new friends filled with mystery, magic, and murder. Through this excursion from an omnipotent narrator, you are sucked into a unique, wonderful world and learn the intimate thoughts, wishes, and desires of everyone.
This book is astonishing. It is a thrilling ride filled with excitement from the beginning to the end. The opening line in the book grabbed my attention and made me want to continue. There is an air of mystery that also kept me hooked and wanting more. It was difficult for me to put the book down.
Sheahan also creates a refreshing book with a female lead. In most books, the man is rescuing the woman, but Erynn is a strong, independent women calling the shots and fighting her own battles. One part of this I did not like was that Sheahan compared the leading female to a man to show her strength, something I could have gone without. Another aspect was that she was small, which is also another trope with female lead characters. Otherwise, it strays pretty far away from the stereotypes of female leads.
The story is complex, interwoven with various plot devices. There is an entire world the author creates complete with a made-up language. Some of the words were not explained or given context, but you find out what they are or what they represent later. One writing style device I had issues with was the use of italics; there were some instances I was not sure why the author used them.
It is important to note that you must pay close attention to everything going on in the book. Something or someone you would deem as insignificant in most books turns out to be important. There is also a lot of action going on at the beginning of the book, and then throughout the rest of it, do not let that deter you. It may be overwhelming for some, but it is easy to keep track of and incredible. Storm of Arranon is a fascinating, fun read. Overall, the world Sheahan created is a wallop of a tale that fully immerses you.
I got to discover this novel world with Erynn as she discovered it, which left me with a feeling of wonderment. I highly recommend this book to others. I have also seen there are more books in the series, and I am looking forward to reading more about Erynn and her adventures with her friends.
Pages: 287 | ISBN: 1466234970
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No Quarter: Wenches follows two characters; Atia Crisp as she finds herself imprisoned in the wickedest city on earth, and Captain La Roche who must find a way to liberate the woman he loves while waging a war against the English. What was your inspiration for creating a women’s adventure novel involving pirates in the 1600’s?
I am inspired by stories/movies with strong female characters, so naturally if I was going to write a story, I would be drawn to having strong female leads. I wasn’t particularly drawn to writing historical fiction until I read the original No Quarter Series (Dominium and Wenches) scripts written by GM O’Connor. He’s always been fascinated with history, particularly during the time of pirates. He asked me to read the scripts and I thought they would make a great book series. So we collaborated our interests and I became fascinated with getting all the details (locations, costumes, furniture, architecture, ships) as accurate as possible. We also use a combination of real-life inspired and fictional characters, which adds realism and adventure.
No Quarter crosses many genres. What books or authors were the biggest inspiration for you?
Moonfleet by J. Meade Falkner was the most inspirational book as it told the tale of smuggling, pirates, treasure, a sea voyage and a hurricane in 1898. It was very rich in details and I felt very transported by it, so I wanted to do the same for No Quarter. Also the book Port Royal, Jamaica by Michael Pawson was inspirational as it gives a glimpse of every day life in 17th century Port Royal and details locations, how they imported food/water and even what ships were around and what they were used for.
This is a very fun novel. Did you have fun writing it?
Yes, it was very fun writing this. My co-author GM O’Connor and I would have brainstorming sessions to come up with entertaining names and comedic dialogue/scenarios. Or sometimes we’d come up with something just buying groceries, watching movie or wake up at 3am with something hysterical and had to write it down before forgetting it.
No Quarter is the first volume in a series. Where do you take the characters through the rest of the series and how does the development of their characters progress?
Atia for example, is indentured, so she’s quite complacent, but she also has a rebellious side that hasn’t been fully explored yet. When she starts working at a Port Royal tavern, she starts to understand the workings of the city and she learns manipulation and eventually turns to being a spy. Basically, she grows up and becomes a fighter. La Roche is already set in his piratical ways, it’s in his blood, it has been since he was a child. When he meets Atia, he’s drawn to the idea of a “normal” life with marriage and children. His development hinges on his willingness to let go of violence and piracy. He wants to retire from it all, but that’s not an easy task, as situations arise which require him to be piratical. He eventually comes to peace with his internal conflicts and finds balance.
In 1689, Atia Crisp finds herself imprisoned in the wickedest city on earth, Port Royal, Jamaica, while the refugees from Strangewayes’s plantation in the Blue Mountains are on the run and seeking a new home, deep in the Caribbean. Captain Jean-Paul la Roche must get them to safety and find a way to liberate the woman he loves while waging a war against the English with the pirate Laurens de Graaf. While besieged people suffer and starve, a group of women form a secret and illegal society deep from within the bowels of the city called: WENCH. A network that deals with smugglers, merchants, cutthroats and thieves. Dragged into the struggle for supremacy of the Caribbean, the women are divided and find themselves engulfed in bloodshed. The pirates of Port Royal and former enemies may be their only hope of escape. Hell hath no fury like a cross wench!
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The Eyes Behold Tomorrow by Ken Hart is fast moving action filled fantasy novel. Ken Hart describes his writing perfectly, “believable, without incredibly ridiculous situations that suddenly appear to solve all the character’s problems” (Hart p166). This novel merges human and a race called the Feletian into an intertwined future encompassing alliances and some galactic waring with other races. Feletian is a matriarchal society where the men are claimed into what are called stables. Women rule and men are expected to defer to them in almost every situation. They are also known for their peace keeping ways. They are non-violent and only use force when absolutely necessary. The two main characters are Robert Teach, a millionaire playboy from Earth, and Kamini a Feletian recruiter and Princess from Feletia. The two of them end up having a volatile relationship with good and bad moments, but always working together for what is in the best interest of Feletia, even if their views and tactics don’t always agree. Robert is a hot shot that likes to shoot first and ask questions later, Kamini prefers a more peaceful approach and always looks to see the good in others.
The story starts out with the recruiting of men from Earth. Typically, the Feletian’s were looking at the best military men Earth had to offer when Kamini approached Robert and asked him to join up. Having nothing better to do with his life at that point he agreed. The character of Robert is your typical arrogant playboy that thinks he knows it all and doesn’t take orders well. He makes an enemy in the first few days with another recruit, Desaris. Robert and Deasaris’s relationship is almost as interesting as Robert and Kamini. They might not like each other but will have to work together to save the Feletian’s and ultimately Earth from the alien races known as the Lyonians and eventually the Grrulagan.
Queen Aphelia is the peace keeper; she takes great interest in Robert from the start. In reference to the title, The Eyes Behold Tomorrow, some of the women of Feletia have what they call the gift. This is an ability to see into the future. She sees Robert’s future and his importance to her world. Because of this, she puts up with a lot from him, his lack of conforming to protocol, and his unorthodox, by their standards, tactics in just about every area of this life. He is a great commander and becomes the captain of their new prototype space craft. His role as captain makes things challenging as his relationship with Kamini and her family grows. Robert develops a strong attachment to Kamini’s little sister Princess Selena. This attachment starts showing Robert there is more to the world than himself and what he wants to do, he starts thinking critically and growing. The transformation in Robert is dramatic by the end, but not so much he loses his charm. Kamini proves to be a strong leader and capable of enduring the worst the world throws at her. Together they set out to create peace in the galaxy they reside in.
Overall the world that Hart has created is original and captivating. The strong female roles show how women can be strong and nurturing and still rule without faltering. I think this book would appeal to a wide variety of readers, science fiction lovers, people looking for strong independent women fiction, and anyone that just want a little less outlandish science fiction. The book does not have happy resolutions, there is no perfect bow to wrap up the story line. The book is open ended enough to leave room for sequels but even if Hart does not continue this story line, there is a satisfying ending. It does end on a happy note for those that want a book that can stand on its own.
Pages: 274 | ISBN: 1629891177
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No Quarter: Wenches is a short novel that takes place in the late 1600s on the Caribbean Sea. It follows several characters of the pirate variety, but the main focus, in my opinion, is on Atia, a young woman captured by the English. The plot follows her troubles, and the troubles of the English, French, Spanish, and pirate groups, as she waits for Captain Jean Paul La Roche to rescue her from the prison in Port Royal.
The city of Port Royal is scrambling to defend itself against French ships and buccaneers, all while trying to sort out its military advances on the surrounding islands. Meanwhile, the pirates are struggling with their own political issues, adding more intrigue to the choices the characters make.
I really enjoyed the engaging dialogue, which was the strongest aspect of the novel, although the characters could use more development, their conversations were often witty and entertaining, finding ways that make otherwise boring topics fun to read about.
The setting is a perfect backdrop to deliver this exceptional story, I just wish I was given more of it so that I was fully immersed. The characters are fun and interesting, but beg for more depth because of this. These two things could be lacking because it’s a short novel, and designed that way, but I think it’s because there is exceptional writing here and I want more of it! More of the world, more of the characters. I’m probably just being greedy, and I suppose I’ll get all of that as the series continues.
There is an interesting dichotomy to this novel; it does not take itself very seriously in some spots (one of the characters is named ‘Lief Blower’) and this serves to keep the story light and engaging, but then parts of the novel is tense and thrilling. It’s an unusual blend that is a rarity.
Overall, this short novel has set up what might end up being a tale on an epic scale. Dozens of characters, all with varied political motivations, have been introduced, and there is still plenty of space for these plots to move forward. Hopefully the authors choose to develop and add depth to these characters, as I was just starting to get comfortable with them as the first volume of the series came to a close.
Pages: 123 | ASIN: B01HP7TOP2
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