The Rain Never Came by Lachlan Walter

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This is an interesting story. At first I had difficulty with the slow pace, but soon it seemed natural to the time, place, and the depth of despair and pain the people endure and exude. Even their surroundings – dust, dead vegetation, no living animals except for the occasional bird – drag them down.

Bill and Tobe are the best of friends and brother-in-laws. Bill’s sister died many years ago and perhaps that loss helps keep them together. Tobe has a tendency to disappear for long periods of time, but he always comes home, sharing his adventures with Bill. They exist in a village with a small population in an abandoned part of their country, where people who want to still live their own lives hide from the government, rather than be imprisoned.

Bill has days of thirst and hunger, accepting this as part of his way of life. Food is scarce and water even more so. Food usually means hunting kangaroo – a very dangerous endeavor. Water is brought in from an individual who is lucky enough to have water on his property. It has been a long time since the military visited this area. Known as the CRP, or Creeps as people prefer to call them, they are generally viewed as killers and it is rare for anyone to survive their intrusion. These poor people’s lives consist of surviving day by day, oppressive heat, and lots of dry dirt. The economy is only what they are able to make of it, and some try to live off the land, such as it is. It is hard not to admire these characters.

One night, several people see strange lights in the sky. Bound to their small patch of earth, they have no idea as to what would cause something so odd. Tobe, who has always led Bill – even as boys – decides they must investigate. Bill, although, would just as soon stay home, but he has never refused one of Tobe’s adventures, so he packs his canvas bag. Having lived in a deserted land for so long, all they fear is dying at the hands of the Creeps. What they had not planned on was being captured.

The author brings to life a fascinating landscape which cannot be ignored, mostly because it engulfs everything and everyone in a manner that I saw as total control – no escape from its hardship, nor relaxing from the stranglehold. You know – not just by the book’s title – that there will never be the relief of rain, which gives hope to those who suffer.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – This is definitely dystopian. Anyone who enjoys reading this type of story will probably enjoy the challenges this book presents. It is appropriate for older teens and adults.
  • Level of sexuality – Mild.
  • Is there graphic language? Nothing distracting.
  • Did I cry? I was more than a little sad over their struggling existence with the heat, dust, and dead vegetation.
  • Did I laugh? No.
  • Is this part of a series? No.
  • Level of character development – Bill’s eyes were opened for the first time to the reality of being Tobe’s friend. In the past, he was able to put aside his questions, but he shows real maturing when he finally acknowledges that he cannot ignore his new take on Tobe.

I felt like I suffered right along with Bill and Tobe in this fascinating tale, and I happily award it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

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Fortune’s Rising by Sara King

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This book is about those who have and those who don’t. The native population of this planet are enslaved. The conquerors are basically a military society. Those that live in slave camps are forced to work in caverns collecting eggs from strange blobs called Shriekers. The eggs, once processed, have the ability to give a person unbelievable intelligence, as long as they continue to ingest them. One fearful aspect of these slaves’ lives is that if they do it long enough they lose their minds.

The slaves are constantly harassed by the guards – from the moment they get up until they go to sleep. Many of them are broken people, knowing they will die in the mines, for no one is ever released and no one ever escapes. Although, there are a few with stubborn hearts and minds, whose goal is to fool the military machines and escape. Of course, the story is about some of those brave individuals.

It is also about one of the territories in the wilderness that is home for some of the people who are able to avoid the military in every way possible – afraid for their lives, their families and friends, and the small villages they live in. Often these homes and the people are totally demolished if a team of soldiers find them. Everyone knows a rebellion is on the slow burner and it won’t take much for one to begin.

This book is a great read. There are several characters who strive to survive and, if possible, improve their lives. They have horrendous interactions with the enemy, and they rescue and protect each other. There are times where the story is actually somewhat light-hearted in the midst of the daily challenges having to be met. I will admit that they didn’t seem to take place among the enslaved.

My reading experience was challenged by some disbelief in one chapter when a naked woman climbed down a steep cliff to find a gun. There was no way to protect herself or to carry this gun back up the cliff. Being a woman, I could not quite get past the image of a naked lady scaling a cliff. Another interesting note was the mechanical soldier. The pilot of this machine kept referring to it as “the soldier”. I continually watched for a person and wondered where was this soldier he was talking about. It is a strange-looking thing, standing on two appendages, well-armored, two arms, and various weapons arrayed upon it. The top half opens and the bottom half is filled with gelatinous goop. The naked human sits down in the soup and proceeds to hook up to the machine by various portals in his body. Soon, the top closes and the human begins to breathe goop and function as a part of the mechanical soldier. As I contemplate this, my response is “Eww”. However, I am totally impressed with an author who can think up such a soldier, but not so much by the naked woman clinging to the mountainside.

I did not find this to be a sweet, easy read, but a fascinating sci-if without being so far out I had to slog through to the end. I was disappointed when the book ended and wanted to go straight into the next. I decided not to focus on individual characters, because this is truly a fantastic read – higher reader involvement on every level. I read this in four days, even though it is a staggering page count of over six hundred pages.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – I decided to label it science fiction, but there are probably several other genres that it could fit into. The age is more adult, just because of the length and involvement of the story.
  • Level of sexuality – There are some flirtatious innuendo, but overall there is not much action.
  • Is there graphic language? Some, but it did not distract me.
  • Did I cry? No, but I felt sadness at certain times.
  • Did I laugh? A bit. There were scenes that deserved it.
  • Is this part of a series? Yes, the Outer Bounds series.
  • Level of character development – It was interesting to see the characters develop. I did find that there was believable maturing in many.

Since I was intrigued by the story and totally entertained by the characters in one way or another, I give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ shiny stars.

Available here on Amazon

Workman’s Complication by Rich Leder

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This is a super entertaining book! It is the story of Kate McCall, who basically will only admit to being a way off-Broadway actress, never mind the dog walking or being an apartment manager for a bunch of quirky people. At this moment, she is Farina LeBleu, star of Blood Song and Dance and vampire extraordinaire. Too bad her fangs make her sound as though she’s from another planet. She’s never done much acting beyond commercials that are only watched by insomniacs. Kate is informed that her father, Jimmy, has managed to be murdered by having both eyes shot out of his head. Always knowing her father was a do or die private investigator, Kate had feared this day for a long time.

When Kate attends the reading of the will, she finds her father’s interesting take on life in evidence. Jimmy leaves his blue suit to his cousin, in hopes he will one day get a job. His Volvo goes to his drunken Uncle Mike, although the keys are left with his wife. The house in the Pocono’s goes to his fishing addicted brother, Kevin. To his oldest daughter, who believes money is all there is to life, he leaves all his money, of course. To Kate, he leaves a box and an urn with what little of him there is left. Kate grabs her box and urn and heads home, wondering what she is going to do with her inheritance. The box can always go in the trash, but what does one do with an urn full of ashes?

Kate happens to be the live-in manager of a five-story walk-up brownstone, which she refers to as ‘The House of Emotional Tics.’ Her tenets consist of what you would call ‘different’ people. Edie wears evening gowns and her husband, Ray, likes to speak of the great results he gets with Viagra. Al Cutter complains of a backed up toilet and having to fill Gatorade bottles as a consequence. There’s also a Chinese assassin, who lives in the basement and does the maintenance. Unfortunately, he doesn’t deal with toilets. That is just the tip of the iceberg. There is plenty more for the reader.

This book is made to entertain and it succeeds from the very beginning to the very end. I found Kate to be a deep character with a sense of humor that doesn’t end. Even though she is shaken by the death of her father, she is constantly involved with her tenants and their strange ideas of how life should be lived. They are basically good people who are more than willing to help her find out who murdered Jimmy. I would not change a single one of them, even though she finds them to be a pain in her backside occasionally. I think Kate is right where she needs to be. People fill her life with their love and care, and she reciprocates by desiring to embellish the lives of everyone she comes in contact with.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – Comedy/Suspense. Can these two be mixed? Reading age is adults, just because there is a lot of story.
  • Level of sexuality – Low.
  • Is there graphic language? Not so much that I noticed.
  • Did I cry? Certainly not.
  • Did I laugh? I certainly did.
  • Is this part of a series? Yes, the McCall & Company series.
  • Level of character development – Kate is a deep character to begin with. I don’t think she or her supporting cast need any help.

Naturally, this book has ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

Available here on Barnes & Noble