Review of ‘Raven’s Flock’
Raven’s Flock by Todd Matthews is a story that dedicated gamers will love. For those unfamiliar with the gaming world, it’s a bit hard to get into—an interesting story, but not everything about is apparent at first glance.
The main character, or at least, the character that seems to be the principal, King Cain Santos is in a kind of temporal holding area in the year 2024. His adventures are amusing to watch unfold, but I came to the end of the story unsure of what really transpired. I did finally realize that Raven Spade (for whom this book is names) is actually the main character, and Santos is just a foil. Following Raven’s efforts to escape the tyrannical bonds of Columbia’s rulers and recapture the freedom of the past—therein lies the parts of the book that I found most interesting.
Like experimental fiction, I can read and enjoy stories that I don’t fully understand, and Raven’s Flock falls into that category. I enjoyed it, got a glimmering of understanding—just a glimmering, and was impressed with the author’s skill with the written word.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Read it one and a half times just to try to better understand it. I give it three and a half stars.
Review of ‘The Neuromorphs’
In the year 2050, a class of androids have been created to make people’s lives easier, but greedy rogue programmers and Russian thugs have reprogrammed the androids to kill their wealthy owners, take their place, and siphon off their wealth. Former navy SEAL Patrick Jensen and his wife, Leah, discover this, but also learn that the crooks have unwittingly created a new race of androids with a desire for survival. The Neuromorphs now threaten humanity’s survival. With help from his former SEAL team members, Patrick must stop the seemingly unstoppable evolution of what could be Earth’s new dominant species.
The Neuromorphs by Dennis Meredith is part futuristic military action, part sci-fi, with plenty of action to satisfy thrill junkies. The science behind the Neuromorphs is not as strong as sci-fi fans would like, but the author keeps the action going fast enough that most will probably not notice.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give it three and a half stars.
Review of ‘Immortal’
Tim Boston and Samantha Turner are working on Francis MacKenzie’s signature project, MedOps, a scheme to provide free medical treatment, essentially immortality, to people in exchange for their willing participation in polls that allow massive data mining. Though they have misgivings about MacKenzie’s true motives, the monetary rewards keep them quiet. Then, they receive a strange message from somewhere in Neptune’s orbit; a race of beings calling themselves the Ankor, warn that Earth is about to be bombarded by gamma rays, and in exchange for following their enigmatic directions, they will help save humanity.
Immortal by Nick M. Lloyd is a sci-fi novel of humanity’s first contact with an alien species that is not your usual ET invades earth story. It combines some current-day issues, such as invasion of privacy and government misuse of personal information for profit with the all-too-human reactions to the unknown, in this case, a mysterious race of beings who it turns out want 50,000 human brains to help their species survive.
This story has more twists and turns than a Coney Island rollercoaster, and it will keep your pulse racing from page one. I received a complimentary copy of this book.
I give it four stars.
Review of ‘The Scent of Distant Worlds’
Cassie Clearwater, a Seminole, has forsaken the traditions of her tribe for science and has won the position of science officer aboard the interstellar exploration ship, Far Traveler. When they arrive at a dark, forbidding planet many light years from earth, which they name Obsidian because of its blackness, Cassie learns the wisdom of things her grandfather told her just before his death, things like ‘travelers to strange lands must keep an open mind,’ and ‘trust your heart when your brain is confused,’ when they encounter strange plants and animals which she suspects are intelligent.
The Scent of Distant Worlds by W. D. County is a deep science fiction novel that explores the complexities of encounters between entities whose systems of communications are incompatible, and how intuition and the intangible elements of trust and love can succeed where hard, objective fact fails.
A thoroughly riveting and interesting book, particularly when the author switches to the alien (non-human) point of view. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give it four stars.
Review of ‘Space City’
At sixteen, Neil Ericson tries to join the Air Force, following in his grandfather’s footsteps. When that fails, he’s invited to join an academy on Space City, a space station beyond the moon. Soon after arrival, he befriends another student, and together, they face the daunting challenges designed to prepare them for—who knows what. In addition to challenges that can literally kill them, they also must contend with traitors in Space City who are selling out the human race.
Space City by Jared Austin is a fast-paced sci-fi story for young adults that will also appeal to older fans of the genre. The ending was a tad disappointing, but it was still a worthwhile read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give it four stars.
Review of ‘The Deepening: First Contact’
Kelly Brewer’s First Contact, the first book in The Deepening series, will grab you by . . . well, whatever part of your body you consider most sensitive, and squeeze every drop of laughter out of you possible. Kyle, a former Marine turned mega-rock star, is off for a galactic tour with his band and his soon-to-be wife, Mercy. An oddball combo, they face even more oddball situations as Kyle must decide what to do to save humanity. Do I have your attention?
I won’t go into the plot because that would spoil it for you. Just know that this is a wacky mixture of sci-fi, sociopolitical commentary, and odd doings on a galactic scale. If you like to be entertained while you’re inspired to think—that’s right, it is possible, folks—this is a book I would definitely recommend. Told in dramatic scenes like a fast action movie that has a lot of quick cuts from one dramatic scene to another.
Kept my attention from beginning to end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give it four and a half stars.
Review of ‘Mythicals’
When Jack March, an out-of-work, alcoholic journalist attends a diplomatic function, he stumbles into Deborah Bright, who has had an accident that threatens to expose her for what she really is, a fairy wearing a body suit to make her look human. Jack just happens to see her as he removes the suit, exposing her wings before she flies away. He’s not sure he’s not suffering a drink-induced hallucination, but he responds by shouting out what he’s seen to the assembled crowd.
This drunken incident plunges Jack into a world he could never in his wildest moments have imagined. He learns that there are literally thousands of mythical creatures living among them, disguised as humans, prisoners from other worlds, sent to the planet to atone for their crimes. With the threat of exposure, the Mythicals, as they call themselves, set out to neutralize him. He’s given a choice, become an Ally and work with them, or be exiled to another world where others like him who wish not to be allies are kept.
Things get even harrier when Jack learns of a plan by one group of Mythicals to eliminate most of the population of the planet because they are viewed as a ‘terminal’ species. To add to the peril, another group, knows as the Pilgrims, are planning to take over the planet and make it their home.
Mythicals by Dennis Meredith is a fascinating blend of fantasy and science fiction that will grab your attention and hold it until the exciting conclusion. In addition to the science fiction elements, the author skillfully explains the existence of many mythical creatures, including leprechauns, pixies, ogres, and vampires. A story with humor, mystery, action, and danger, it’s a great winter read; the perfect book to settle down with in front of a blazing fire.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give it four and a half stars.
Review of ‘Becoming Human’
Ken Turner and his friends, after initially thwarting the government’s efforts to find and exploit the offspring of a Russian experiment in human-chimpanzee cross-breeding, find themselves still in a fight, not just for their careers, but their lives, as the power-hungry government agent continues his efforts to capture one or more of the hybrids.
Becoming Human by Kenneth L. Decroo continues the pulse-pounding action begun in Almost Human, moving back and forth between the deceptively serene environment of a politically charged college campus to the steamy dangers of the African jungle. While this one can be read as a stand-alone, I really recommend you read the first one . . . well, first, so that you’re fully in the picture. The author explores some sensitive and controversial subjects, but in a manner that provoked reflection rather than rage.
I received a complimentary copy of this book, and like the first, it did not disappoint. It’s science fiction, but it reads like facts in today’s turbulent world. I give it five stars without hesitation.
Review of ‘The Reunion in Time’
Rick Bellamy, a 37-year-old FBI agent goes to visit his old school regarding an upcoming class reunion. He steps on a grate, and finds himself transported 20 years into his past; a 37-year-old mind in a 17-year-old body. Think that’s complicated? What if it was a few days before 9/11, and he had problems convincing people that there would soon be a catastrophic terror attack. Then, a famous journalist shows up as a 14-year-old, and Rick’s wife, is not far behind him. The three teen/adult time travelers work to convince people they are not crazy, and discover an even greater threat to their own time, making it essential that they go back-forward to 2021 to prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths.
A Reunion in Time by Russell F. Moran is not your usual time travel story. Well, it is sort of usual, but with some unusual elements. He addresses the questions of time travelers and changed history, the paradox of meeting one’s self, etc., in a most logical manner, does a masterful job of portraying the clumsiness of adult understanding of teenagers, and keeps the reader guessing from page one.
A well-written, well-thought out book. I give it four and a half stars.
Review of ‘The Spirit of Prophecy’
Rosetta Barrett is a psychic detective, but she can’t tell her family or the public. Then, when a young girl and a horse are brutally killed by an aggressive driver, and it looks like it was a deliberate assassination attempt, her skills are tested to their limits. The Spirit of Prophecy by J. J. Hughes is a mystery with a bit of a paranormal and sci-fi twist—well, actually, more than just a bit. It involves a centuries-old atrocity that took place across the ocean from England, in New Mexico during the 1870s, has alien visitors with unknown agendas, and pits Rosetta against her husband who, after divorcing her, arranged to keep her away from her children.
I suppose I’d call this a piece of experimental fiction, given the fusion of genres. The author takes the reader through the story from multiple perspectives, and keeps one guessing until all—or, almost all—is revealed.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. It was an enjoyable read that engaged me from the start. I give it four stars.
Review of ‘Fluency’
In the 1960s, NASA discovered a strange alien ship lurking in the asteroid belt. For years, they kept the ship under surveillance until they finally developed the technology to visit it for an on-site investigation. Language expert, Dr. Jane Holloway, is chosen to be part of the team going to the ship in the hopes that she will be able to decipher any communications they find. But, when they arrive, they discover that the ship isn’t vacant, and the alien residing there needs their help. But, only Jane can understand it.
Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells is a riveting sci-fi tale of first contact. A great read for sci-fi fans.
I give it five stars
Review of ‘The Immortal Gene’
An ace homicide detective with a great partner, and about to get married, Jake Wood has it all. But, when a friend is in trouble in the Amazon, Jake goes to his rescue, only to be injured and wake up from a coma 18 months later, changing—not just into someone else, but something else. He learns that his fiancée has married and his partner transferred, so he sells his house and moves on. But, the past catches up with him. Someone is after him, and his old partner is asking for his help to catch a vicious serial killer. In the process, he finds out that he has been experimented on, and now those who did want to erase him.
The Immortal Gene by Jonas Saul is an interesting read. Though billed as a mystery, it’s actually more science fiction thriller. Fairly well written, but the inconclusive ending—possibly a teaser for the sequel—feels like a cheat.
I enjoyed it, though not as much as the author’s previous book. I received a complimentary review copy of this book. I give it three and a half stars.
Review of ‘The Dream Sifter’
When she’s assessed as infertile, a young woman is ejected from her clan (sept) and adopted by a merchant sept. A Guardian, whose job is to locate and eliminate anyone carrying a deadly plague which threatens the very survival of humanity, is assigned to keep watch over her because she holds a secret within her mind, and if she remembers what it is—and who she is—it can also threaten humanity’s existence.
The Dream Sifter by Candice Bundy is an interesting story with an almost-believable universe, and the author does a good job of helping a reader suspend disbelief. Characters evoke empathy, and in some cases sympathy or antipathy. She also built a compelling mystery with lots of subtle hints and revealed it at a crucial point in the story. Unfortunately, she ended the story on a cliffhanger that is only resolved in the sequel to this book, which is unfair to readers who had invested so much of themselves in the characters and their situations.
Well crafted—except for the cliffhanger. I’ll give it three and a half stars. I received a complimentary review copy of this book.
Review of ‘Reverence’
The USA has undergone a revolution and is now the United Nation Republic (UNR), with the mission of bringing utopia to the earth, whether or not the other residents of the planet want it. Enforcing this tyrannical scheme is a corps of super soldiers, cyborgs with massive power, and an almost obsessive drive to accomplish their missions. Will Marconi, one of these super soldiers, begins, though, to question his mission, and himself, and rebels against his masters.
Reverence by Joshua Landeros is a fast-paced dystopian future novel with tons of blood and gore that will more than satisfy fans of this genre—a bit too much gore for those with delicate sensibilities, however, and lacking the tight editing that would make it palatable. The plot hangs up in places due to the poor proofreading, but the author shows promise. So, if you like your stories with nonstop action, and a body on almost every page, you just might get into this series.
I received a complimentary copy of this book, and even though I am a tepid fan of military fiction and an avid science fiction fan, I just couldn’t really get into it. Except for Will, the characters are never really fully developed, and the ‘how’ of the transformation of the US into a world tyrant, even though it does somewhat mirror current political trends, is never adequately explained.
I give the author four stars for effort, but my rating of three stars is due to the execution.
Review of ‘Fly Like an Eagle’
In Philadelphia, in 1824, Samantha Ronaldson’s father wants her to marry his older business partner in order to keep his industrial secrets in the family. Samantha, on the other hand, only wants the freedom to explore science, and she allies herself with the partner’s half-Indian son, Eagle, and accompanies him on a journey through the Flow, back and forth through time on an amazing journey of discovery.
Fly Like an Eagle by S.B.K. Burns is a difficult book to categorize. A steam punk, sci-fi novel, it has elements of the paranormal, as well as steamy romance, that offers a bit of everything for lovers of a variety of genres. A tantalizing romp that challenges historical and scientific truths, it explores the boundaries between science and spirituality in a thoroughly entertaining story that will grab and hold your attention from the first page to the last.
I give this one four stars.
Review of ‘Mindspeak’
Lexi Matthews is a 17-year-old with two secrets she conceals from her classmates at her elite boarding school—she’s the daughter of a famous scientist, and she is able to influence others with her mind. When Jack DeWeese arrives as a new student, Lexi’s life is turned upside down. First, Jack heals her broken wrist with a touch of his hand, and secondly, he seems to know all about her and her secrets. When her father disappears, and she finds herself being pursued by someone who is able to get inside her mind, her relationship with Jack enters a new phase, and she’s not sure if she can trust him, or anyone else for that matter.
Mindspeak by Heather Sunseri is a science fiction thriller combined with young romance, with a plot that is as twisted as your mind will be as you read it. An interesting, and thought-provoking, read.
The ending left a bit too much out. I give it three and a half stars.
Review of ‘Aetna Adrift’
Jack Holloway, orbital station manager over the isolated moon, Aetna, has a relatively good life. Under the control of Unity, a soul-sucking bureaucracy that controls every aspect of its citizens’ lives, Jack supplements his income with a little smuggling that helps citizens maintain a semblance of individuality. Then, Tim Randall, a senior Unity executive, is sent to take control of Aetna, and the killing begins. Jack is dragooned into Randall’s plans—which he does not understand—and is forced to decide just where his loyalties lie.
Aetna Adrift by Erik Wecks is a thrilling space epic that portrays the individual against the bureaucracy, with stunning action scenes and deep-dives into the human psyche. With a hero who is far from perfect, arrayed against faceless, soulless bureaucrats, it is as visionary as it is contemporary. But, most of all, it is entertaining. Hard to put down once you start reading.
I give it four stars.
Review of ‘New York Deep’
Josh Reed and his team are tunneling beneath Manhattan to extend the subway system, when they hit an unusual crystalline wall, made of some unknown substance. When they break through the wall, they find beyond it a vast, empty space, or at least it seems to be empty. But, Josh detects an energy in the space, something he doesn’t understand, but that affects him deeply. Then, he finds himself pursued by the CIA, and the other members of his team mysteriously missing. He is forced to rely on his best friend and boss, Lionel Parker, to solve the mystery, not just to save himself and his team, but his estranged wife and son, and the rest of humanity.
New York Deep by Andrew J. Morgan is a sci-fi tale of time travel and other dimensions that moves at a breakneck pace as Josh finds himself traveling back and forth through time, and with each trip, coming closer to unveiling the secret that lies deep in the earth beneath Central Park.
Once you start reading this story, you’ll find it hard to put down, and the ending will leave you breathless.
I give this one four stars.
Review of ‘Infinity Born’
When a top-secret DARPA project on AGI is sabotaged, Navy Lieutenant Cameron Carr is assigned a one-man mission to find whoever was responsible. It’s not just American security at stake, hostile forces are also seeking control over Artificial General Intelligence, a self-aware computer that can control the world, and which poses a threat to all of humanity.
Infinity Born by Douglas E. Richards is a thriller without parallel. Chocked full of nonstop action and intrigue, with a backdrop of high-technology; some real, so imagined, but with enough authenticity to make it hard to tell which is which, this story will capture your imagination like few of the genre have ever done.
A must-read for hard-core sci-fi thriller fans. I give this one five stars. A compelling read.
Review of ‘Hunting Nora Stone’
Eddie Conrad is an ex-Navy SEAL, still recuperating after a year’s captivity in Syria as the only survivor of an operation gone horribly wrong. On desk duty, he is just marking time until he can retire and put the death and destruction behind him.
Nora Stone, a street urchin, nearly killed in an accident, was given a new lease on life. With many of her damaged limbs replace with enhanced cyber implants, she has been trained as a skilled assassin. But, Nora has gone off the grid, and a tactical team sent to retrieve her is mutilated in a most gruesome way. But, Nora, though she is eluding capture, is not really hiding. She seems to be sending her former masters a message – come and get me!
Eddie is strong-armed into taking the mission to find and neutralize Nora, but when he finally encounters her, rather than killing him as she did the previous teams sent to capture her, she lets him live, and gives him a message, ‘I’m coming for her.’ Eddie is puzzled. Who is Nora after, and why. His life is complicated when he learns of a plot by an unknown, shadowy group of powerful men to assassinate the president of the U.S., and plunge the world into chaos, and of the existence of a powerful cyborg, Tarsis, who has been sent, not to capture Nora, but to kill her.
Now, with Nora as an unlikely ally, Eddie must avert an international disaster.
Hunting Nora Stone by Colin Weldon is a riveting tale of international intrigue with overtones of high-tech science fiction that, despite a number of typographical and grammatical gaffes, will thoroughly entertain action junkies.
I received a free copy of the book. The typos notwithstanding, I was impressed with the pacing and plot, and give it four stars (with a slight minus grade because of the proofreading problems).