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

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The Eye of Hermes by William Howard

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Yannick DcCullen is a blue and green Trionyx – seven-foot-two, spikes down his back and razor-sharp claws on paws and feet. Buddash Kyo is a Cranitian – skin cheddar-hued and large saucer-shaped eyes on either side of his oblong face. He has his own personal body armor – a scaled protective layer from the back of his head to below his ankles. Then there is Legate Prime Buzz, Diabolox, Dr. Rabun, and Sobek Bokhan, just to name a few. The names and species just kept coming. I only had a vague sense of the storyline, because I was overwhelmed by so many players. Also, there were several goals, individually, involving many characters.

What it comes down to is that these are bugs. Big bugs. Humans barely have a place in this plot and it turns out bugs are just as greed-driven as humans, and just as murderous. If they are not plotting to rob one another, they are plotting the demise of some equally nasty bug. Almost each chapter is a bombardment of some bug fighting other bugs, discussion of their ability to fight, and the body type needed for surviving fights. I was fascinated by the fact that you never want to kill a bug outright, because it immediately births a whole slew of more bugs. Incapacitation works much better, so the best way to handle bugs is to whack off appendages.

This story obviously involved a lot of brain-power from the author and, unfortunately, an awful lot from the readers. I was half-way through the book before I started recognizing who was up to what and why. Sadly, part-way through, the editing broke down and there are several confusing sentences sprinkled about. I decided by the time I neared the end of the book that I was liking the story. However, it took too long for me to appreciate it and the editing did muddy the writing. Is this a good story? I think it can be and some readers may enjoy this buggy tale. If you want to dive deeply into this, bring a roadmap and take notes. However, if you are just plain interested in what bugs may be thinking, this is the book for you.

Oh, don’t ask what the Eye of Hermes is. I barely know myself.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – I’m going to call this sci-fi and the reading age is anybody who likes bugs.
  • Level of sexuality – There were some pleasure bugs, but overall I don’t think they’re too interested in that kind of stuff.
  • Is there graphic language? Some, but it was all spoken in Bug-ese and easily ignored.
  • Did I cry? Are you kidding? These are bugs!
  • Did I laugh? After I finished the book. After all, it’s about bugs!
  • Is this part of a series? No.
  • Level of character development – What can I say? Bugs.

I give this ⭐️⭐️…Bugs!

Available here on Amazon

 

Traveller Inceptio by Rob Shackleford

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This is a very long book and I was surprised by my willingness to stay with it. Of course, this means it is a very good story. Although they are somewhat entwined, there are three threads woven through this futuristic tale. Here futuristic doesn’t mean an earth beyond recognition, but it does mean time travel.

The first thread consists of six college students who want to be recognized for their talents, receive lucrative job offers, and a PhD. They have been selected to work on an upgraded security screening device for airports. Humans are known for a certain amount of clumsy stumbling and that is what happens here. Their wiring is somewhat fried and suddenly they’ve developed something out of this world: a time machine. After a suitcase is sent out and returned, the cat goes next, and the next logical step is a human. If one gets to go, why not all of them? In their excitement, they are unable to keep their secret for long and, although they continue to fine tune their machine, they are forbidden to time travel again.

The second thread is the military grab for the machine involving power plays, the occasional threat, and who has the best financing. During this time two students, Phil and Yeti, are the most involved with the time machine. The others have pretty much moved on to other things.

The third thread is the most powerful part of the book. This is the telling of what it takes to prepare a military team to be prepped for time travel. One of the interesting parts is that the time machine will only travel one thousand years back in time and then it will return back to home base on command. It’s very attention grabbing when the reader is led through the training required to prepare the team for old England and the Saxons. Who knew they might one day need to be able to skewer everybody and everything with a sword, knife, or even a stick?

My question is, and always has been, at which point is the timeline of history compromised? Is it when someone stays in the past, dies in the past, or someone comes to the future? Also, how can one travel completely without the doo-dads of their time, such as aspirin, shampoo, and ,obviously, deodorant? There is some mention of how important it is to keep one’s loin cloth clean. Yuck. The last third of the book is where the story really takes off and I couldn’t put it down. I was drawn into the need to help some people, but always remembering the native population is to lead their lives as they normally would. That’s a tough one when you remember you have an aspirin in your fanny pack!

I believe most readers will find the author has laid out a well-done story that draws you simply because it’s easy to place yourself in this tale of the past, when it was a tale of the future.

Now for the rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – This is a futuristic fantasy for older teens and adults, just because there is a lot of story.
  • Level of sexuality – Low.
  • Is there graphic language? Low, if any.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Did I laugh? No.
  • Level of character development – These characters were set at a high level of development and, thankfully, had nowhere else to go.
  • Is this part of a series? No.

I don’t think I will ever look at time traveling as a ‘well, what are you going to do’ type of story ever again. Anyone who is interested in a ‘what if’ will be totally engrossed and that is why I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars!

Available here on Amazon

Available here on Barnes & Noble

Infected by Scott Sigler

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Originally, this was a slow read and took me several days to finish. It’s not bad writing, just wordy with a high page count. I would get bored and wander away – for the whole day. But that’s only for the first half. It gets better.

The writing is somewhat centered on Margaret and Amos, who are the only scientists in the nation that are allowed to know about the infection (the title gives that tidbit away) and will hopefully soon understand how to defeat it. This requires a good amount of guesswork and fiddling with disintegrating, goopy bodies. Overall, they’re almost as clueless as I am. I did grow to like them, but not a whole lot. They are trying to save the nation from this horrible infection, so I would expect to see a little more drive and ambition. Definitely some demands made upon their employer; they have very little to go on and a small amount of help or tools.

When Perry Dawsey was introduced, I was fascinated with his character. He’s full of emotion, a need to be the best, and the ambition to overcome his childhood raised by a highly abusive father. Fortunately, he has his best friend, Bill, who is the only source of stability Perry has ever had in his life. They met in college where he had earned the name of “Scarey Perry” as a football player. It’s safe to say that he’s got some anger management issues. He’s also the main character who is infected. I believe that it is his mental hang-ups that make him a man who will not go down without a fight.

Perry, along with several others, has no knowledge of being infected and when he starts having a most amazing case of itching, he thinks he can wait it out. When this turns into a continuous distraction and hinderance, he is finally sent home by his employer. Perry sees no purpose in doctors or anti-itch creams, but comes to think that he just might need both. Pulling up his sleeve, he sees a blue triangle under his skin and soon discovers others on his body. I found the triangle intriguing, but the itching business needed to be dealt with straightaway. Fortunately, it does subside, but the triangles don’t. In fact, they’re rather busy making themselves at home in his body.

I don’t want to give away the whole story, but the second half of the book is where I got caught up in the story. We follow Perry as he battles physically and mentally against the infection. Also, the other characters come into play and, finally, we have a fascinating story. Suddenly, everyone, including me, is enlightened and we get an inkling as to who, what, why, and maybe when. I couldn’t tear myself away from it and finished the last half in one day. My final say on this book, is give it a try.

Now, the rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – Science fiction and for adults.
  • Level of sexuality – There wasn’t enough room in the plot for sex.
  • Was there graphic language? Yes. If I had uncontrollable itching and blue triangles I’d swear too.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Did I laugh? No, it’s not that kind of story.
  • Is this part of a series? This is a cliffhanger. The second is Contagious, which is followed by Pandemic.
  • Level of character development – They developed slowly and not fully to my satisfaction, except for Perry.

Because I found the first half of the story slow, but a powerhouse of action in the second, I have to give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 stars. Perseverance paid off. The last half was powerfully written, grab your skirts (ladies) and go, go, go!

Available here on Amazon

Beacon by Callaghan Grant

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This is an enjoyable continuation of Erinn’s story. It is an easier read since the first book has a lot of background information, the two books tie nicely together. She is continually surrounded by several lusty Vampyres and by this time she has become one herself, as Michael had intended. While she is still the same Erinn, she is also a blood-thirsty, sexpot Vampyre leaving dead bodies in her wake.

I found it interesting how the author worked around what must have been a very revealing conversation between Michael and Erinn, without actually writing it. I was glad for this fact, because it would have felt like backtracking. So, moving forward, she discovers that he is extremely possessive when it comes to her unrecalled memories of her times with him and what transpired.

Thankfully, there are new characters involved that help alleviate some of the mental weight left over from the first book. This provides a much needed time for Erinn to try and come to some reasonable conclusions regarding her new life. However, so far, she doesn’t seem to have a reasonable bone in her body as she refuses to follow Michael’s instructions, putting them both in jeopardy. She remains as rambunctious as ever, but at least some of the time she stops to consider her actions before doing what she had intended anyway.

I have to speak about the dream sequence, but it’s not possible to give anything away; you have to read it. I’ve never dwelled much on the metaphysical, but that is the only word I can think of to describe it. The reason behind the dream is up for interpretation, but it must be important because it happens twice. She crosses over into worlds unknown, to places she knows yet doesn’t, and it’s all a confusion that I could have gone without. However, I must mention that it held my attention as I tried to muddle through it to find the author’s true meaning and reason behind it.

Michael tries desperately to follow her, as she continues to run away in her own desperate attempt to flee. When he finds her, she is no longer the Erinn he knew and loved. This entity tells him that she is his twin, his wife, and guide. Initially, he doesn’t have a clue what is going on. Neither do I. Be prepared for words like “lateral realms” and “astral realms,” as they just dig a deeper hole for the reader to climb out of. That said, it was a very well done, if weird, bit of writing.

Being Vampyre means the ability to be overwhelmingly athletic, telepathically gifted, stronger than any human, and able to stare down anyone. I rather like these talents and the fact that they make her a woman that is not to be trifled with. The men in her life haven’t quite figured that out yet, but they better get on page soon or there’s going to be a great deal of regret.

This is an interesting read and flows smoothly. There’s a lot of action that kept me engrossed. I cannot begin to fathom where the author is taking us, but this book was a great follow-up and I was more than willing to stay with it.

Now the rating:

  • Genre and general audience – mystery/sci-fi for mature audiences only.
  • Level of sexuality – There is definitely sex, some of which is rather graphic.
  • Graphic language – Not enough to make me notice.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Is this part of a series? Yes. This is the second book in The Vampyre Episodes. Cannot be read as a stand-alone.
  • Level of character development – The characters are a bit one-sided. Michael is a large man with the urge to kill without fear, if need be. Erinn is so in love with him that she makes unwise actions without thinking about the consequences, sometimes leading to dire situations. She is working on this issue, but not very quickly.
  • Did I laugh? No.

I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

This book is unpublished at the time of posting.