Traveller Inceptio by Rob Shackleford

Traveller

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.

Protocol One by Jacqueline Druga

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I was initially drawn to this book by the humorous dialogue between the main characters, Anna and Tony. Sadly, the book quickly lost that humor and became less entertaining. Even though the story is driven by a comet about to hit Earth and destroy life as everyone knows it, I still think a little humor would have gone a long way, especially since it started out funny.

I did not find Anna to be a sympathetic character. For one thing, she unquestioningly follows the orders of her EX-husband (you heard me right, not her current man, but her long-time ex) and buys obscenely large amounts of aluminum foil and cardboard, shipping these truckloads all around the country. Who in their right mind wouldn’t ask why? She doesn’t and that says a lot. Of course, at this point she has no idea what is going on, but that is no excuse. Curiosity killed the cat, but this cat would have been safe in wanting to know the reason behind the world’s strangest request.

As the story progresses, she becomes completely wrapped up in the self-serving idea that she is always right, saving everyone, and knowing what is best for all involved. Does she take into account what others say? No, she ignores all questions and concerns. Sounds like a hero complex to me. She certainly means well, but her arrogance got old really fast. I’m stunned that her boyfriend, Tony, didn’t get sick of it as well. After all, they’re about to be roasted by a comet, perhaps he should have put in his two cents and stood by it.

Traveling across country, picking up specific “special” people sounds promising, but suddenly she gets a mind of her own, and decides to take charge, letting everyone she wants to hop on board the savior bus. But there’s only so much space and food in a bunker. That’s just common sense. She blindingly followed the orders of her EX before, so why she ignores him now is beyond me. Needless to say, she winds up with too many people crammed into a space meant for a fraction of them, due to her staunch administration and refusal to listen to anybody besides herself. She tries to base her decisions on the needs of the group and not of the one (Star Trek reference for all the Trekkies out there). Unfortunately, her drive for sainthood just endangers them all on more than one occasion. Am I being too harsh on Anna? Possibly. She is the leader of this story, whether I like it or not, but it doesn’t mean I have to like her.

There are several other characters, including Tony, that I think could have added to the story and made it more interesting, but they’re just sidenotes. Maybe the sequel will give them a chance to shine, instead of being backup for the Anna Show. There is a certain amount of suspense, which I liked and I think the author was clever in her development of the story’s timeline. Overall, I enjoyed the central theme, which is, “let’s survive this comet and make a new world.” It’s not necessarily a bad story and the next book might prove worth reading, especially since the last chapter has a few enticing spoilers. Of course, that means cliffhanger. However, this wasn’t enough to really draw me in and the likelihood of me continuing with this series is next to nil.

For the rating:

  • Genre and general audience: science fiction fit for just about anyone.
  • Level of sexuality: very, very mild.
  • Was there graphic language? Not overwhelmingly so, which is surprising since they’re about to meet their maker.
  • Did I cry? Not once.
  • Is this part of a series? Yep. The Protocol One Saga.
  • Level of character development: Basically none.
  • Did I laugh? As I said, the beginning is funny, but it dies quickly.

Overall, my rating for this book is ⭐️⭐️ stars. A genre I usually love, but a lackluster book. The author tried and that’s obvious, though, so there is hope for the future.

Available here on Amazon

Chalice by Callaghan Grant

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I find Callaghan Grant to be a very talented writer. This is the first of her books that I have read and, in spite of some difficulties, I was captivated by the storyline and how she pulled Erinn, Michael, Paeter, and the audience out of the mire. One must be alert in order to catch the name changing and the tricky timelines. Occasionally, I had to turn back a few pages to make sure I, or the author, knew where we were going.

With that said, I hope to present a review that prepares you for a challenging book. Erinn is the heroine, Paeter and Michael are not only very important love interests, but they are Vampyres. This is another exciting aspect of the story. Erinn spends a good deal of time wandering through life confused by her dreams. They do not spark memories for her, however, for the reader they usually end with her wheezing for air as she suffers to escape a deep, dark abyss. There’s reasoning behind the dreams and the unknown, even for her battle to catch her breath, which will affect her life deeply.

Rather early on, she is lured to Spain, believing that it is of her own volition, but soon I found out that there are men who await her. Good ones and not so good ones, even some terrible ones. The presentation of these men, one by one, left me wondering why there are no women in the book other than Erinn. She is quite flirtatious in the way she handles them, as she maneuvers through the maze they create. By the end, I realized why and appreciated the author’s handling of a story dominated by men.

Now, the timelines. There seems to be a lot and it took quite a while for the confusion to be clarified. Erinn has known some of these men all her life, even though she is unaware of this. So, then timeline slips and we get to see how someone was a part of her life even as a small child. It slips again and we are in the rarely seen present. Slip again and it is back to her life in Spain. Here, I was surprised to find that she is forty years old. That is another fascinating characteristic of the story. All too often the heroine is a young woman who couldn’t possibly endure all the changes that Erinn goes through.

There is an abundance of description in this novel and the author handles it well. However, after a length of time I did wish for less. There was an extremely well-written nighttime beach scene where Erinn is enjoying the solitude. Through the author’s words I could literally feel the peacefulness. Then the peace is shattered and the destruction is made even more devasting by the beforehand sense of beauty and peace with the ocean and the sand. By the time I had read several scenic descriptions I was ready for a break. The beach was by far my favorite, but, alas, it was just another description at this point.

Spoiler ahead, so if you wish to remain in ignorance skip this paragraph; don’t even peek. There is always someone at the top of the food chain and in this story it is Stuart. Even our most riveting and intruiging Vampyre is wary of him. Stuart would like to have Erinn, but not in a romantic sense. She is part of a genetic program that the Vampyres have designed in the hope of survival, as their women are unable to carry babies to term. Spoiler over. You now know why all these men flock around her; she is special and vital to for their existence.

This is not a story of shifting and growing, but is the story of Erinn finding herself as she becomes what she is destined to be. She is in love, but with whom? These men who start out stronger and controlling soon discover that she knows how to play their game, even in a state of semi-ignorance. She will choose who she will love and she will fight for it. Vampyres are a sneaky lot, and if this group isn’t careful they will lose their freedom and perhaps even their lives. Prepare yourself for a cliffhanger.

My rating:

  • Genre and reading age: Mystery/Sci-Fi and for mature audiences only.
  • Level of sexuality: I didn’t find it to be overly graphic, but there was a lot alluded to and there is a rape scene, but it is only realized later as rape.
  • Graphic language: Not really.
  • Did I cry? Not a tear.
  • Is this part of a series? Yes. The Vampyre Episodes.
  • Level of character development: I don’t know how the author did it, but I didn’t find the characters lacking at all.
  • Did I laugh? Not once. It’s not that kind of book.

I was torn between 3 or 4 stars, but since this is a story that I am not likely to forget I give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars. It pretty much blew me away, but I had to persevere. This is not a light read.

This is unpublished at the time of posting.