Categories
Crime Fantasy Paranormal Science Fiction

Book Review: Night Terrors by Tim Waggoner

Thank you so much to Angry Robot Books for the finished copy of Night Terrors in exchange for an honest review!  This is a perfect Halloween time book.

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Night Terrors
  • Series: Shadow Watch, #1
  • Author: Tim Waggoner
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot Books – 2014, reissued October, 2020
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ yes for Urban Fantasy fans!

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

When you dream, you visit the Maelstrom. Dream long enough and hard enough, and your dreams can break through into the living world.

So can your nightmares.

And who’s there to catch the dreams and nightmares as they fall into reality?

Meet the Shadow Watch. Pray you never need them…

I am usually not an urban fantasy reader at all, but Night Terrors was an absolutely perfect #Spooktober read.  Certain humans are able to dream their nightmares into creation, and then become ideators.  No longer needing sleep, the humans and their dreams – called incubus/incubi) – tend to stay together in the real world.  With violent tastes at night time and a desire to live freely on Earth, an agency called the Shadow Watch has developed to keep the order in both Earth and Nod, the alternate realm.

This book kept me flying through the pages.  There isn’t much info dumping so you get to learn the world while experiencing the action.  Audra is a Shadow Watch agent and her partner is her incubus, a delightfully homicidal clown named Mr Jinx.  During the day these creations take on normal aspects, and Jinx turns into an art loving papa bear.  At night though he wreaks havoc on rogue Incubi with Audra and an arsenal of funny weapons.

Or they try anyway. They completely botch a case and end up going rogue to foil a plot against the two realms.  Jinx and Audra are both funny and interesting characters, so are the other host of humans and Incubi in the book.  A giant dog and pirate man, some terror being called The Darkness, and a living hearse are some of the other awesome characters.  The banter is about as amazing as you’d expect from this group.

Add in some psycho villains, sci fi level weapons, and a Circus Psychosis complete with a group of insane clowns, and you have Night Terrors.  It’s probably the most fun I’ve had reading a detective type novel since Men In Black, and oddly enough I was getting some Daughter of Smoke and Bone vibes, in the creation and alternate world aspects as well as ridiculous looking chimaera/Incubi.

I wish the end was a little less easily resolved, but I am 100% on board for book 2 to find out more.

Thank you again so much to Angry Robot Books for the review copy! As always, all opinions are my own 🖤

Categories
Dystopian Fantasy Science Fiction

Book Review: Skyhunter by Marie Lu

Thank you to Bookish First and the publisher for providing a finished copy of Skyhunter in exchange for an honest review!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Skyhunter
  • Series: Skyhunter, #1
  • Author: Marie Lu
  • Publisher & Release: Roaring Brook Press 9/29/20 
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 for the target age range, sure

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A broken world.
An overwhelming evil.
A team of warriors ready to strike back.

Talin is a Striker, a member of an elite fighting force that stands as the last defense for the only free nation in the world: Mara.

A refugee, Talin knows firsthand the horrors of the Federation, a world-dominating war machine responsible for destroying nation after nation with its terrifying army of mutant beasts known only as Ghosts.

But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? What secrets is he hiding?

Only one thing is clear: Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers for the only homeland she has left… with or without the boy who might just be the weapon to save—or destroy—them all.

To put my rating into perspective, I look at the target age range of the book and how appropriate it is for that group too, not necessarily for my own adult enjoyment. In this case 12-17 is advertised and I am not necessarily rating these in comparison to adult novels.

Skyhunter is a pretty exciting YA scifi/dystopia where a conquering nation is taking over it’s continent and one free nation, Mara, is left to fight back. Mara presents an elite force of fighters, mainly teens because death forces a high turnover rate, that fights against the war-machine monsters created by the Federation. All bets are off when one of the Federation experiments breaks loose and joins forces with Mara’s soldiers, especially with Talin, the main character.

I really liked the plot and scheming and felt like the action remained steady enough to keep me reading. The chapter lengths were perfect too to keep pages turning. Teens should have no problem staying engaged here, even if some of the action and plot revelations happen rather conveniently, i would expect this in books geared for 12 year olds. There is some monster face mashing gore and war scenes that might be a bit much for the low age range but it wasn’t too graphic.

I just loved the characters too. Talin can’t speak and is a bit of a pariah among the Strikers due to her ethnicity, but she remains strong in the face of it and continues to be a strong fighter. Red the Skyhunter is interesting too, I liked him ever since his little mouse friend popped out.  The book puts a huge emphasis on enemies and “enemies” also having human faces, and he is a great example of this.  There were a whole host of funny, strong, soft, ancillary characters too and I liked their little war band family of proximity.

The book remained more action than character driven, which I prefer. More world and action than character/relationship building and I am thankful that any romance remained contained mostly to shy glances and observations. One of my favorite aspects was how each enemy, even the monsters, had a human face presented as well and it kept the characters truer to their own humanity I think.

The ending too, omg the ending. I will need to refresh myself on this book before the next comes out because honestly I’ll probably forget it in two weeks but I definitely want to know what happens next!!

Categories
Science Fiction Thrillers

Novella Review: Dust & Lightning by Rebecca Crunden

Thank you so much to Rebecca Crunden for sending an epub copy of her sci-fi novella in exchange for an honest review!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Dust & Lightning
  • Series: standalone
  • Author: Rebecca Crunden
  • Length: 124 pages
  • Publisher & Release: Self – February 2020
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes for fans of scifi and action!

Here is the description from Amazon:

In the near future, humans have gone beyond simple space travel. By the year 4054, multiple solar systems are inhabited, and taking a spaceship is as commonplace as taking an aeroplane.

Unfortunately, not everything about the future is so advanced. The central planets, led by Earth, have risen high at the expense of cheap labour on distant worlds. Dissent is widespread and arrests are common. Sometimes prisoners are released; sometimes they disappear without a trace, sent to labour camps in other solar systems.

When Ames Emerys receives a letter telling him that his brother Callum has died en route to the remote planet of Kilnin, he takes the first ship he can off Earth, desperate for answers. But the secrets Ames uncovers prove far more dangerous than he could have imagined.

And trouble isn’t far behind.

I read this in one session because the action just never stopped and it was impossible to put down. It was believable action too, involving a lot of narrow escapes and cool powers, and I felt like it was well paced.

It’s only 117 pages but there is enough description to get a visual image of the important places and objects, as well as a good sense of setting.

In the brief span of knowing these characters I definitely felt like I knew Ames pretty well, and could at least appreciate Violet for her sense of daring and Callum for his strength. Ames is out to rescue his brother and discovers a whole can of worms (ha ha) involving the corruption of the Democratic Planetary Alliance.

I hope there is a part 2 to this because I really want to know the outcome of the rebellion!


Author and purchase links:

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51004978-dust-lightning
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Dust-Lightning-Rebecca-Crunden-ebook/dp/B084HKS69M/
Website: https://rebeccacrunden.com
Categories
Science Fiction

ARC Review: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Thank you so much to Tor Books via NetGalley for the e ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
  • Series: currently a standalone in his new ‘Fractalverse’
  • Author: Christopher Paolini
  • Publisher & Release: Tor Books – 9/15/20
  • Length: 880 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟✨ For fans, yes

Here is the description from GoodReads:

Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds. Now she’s awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .

My first thoughts upon putting the book down were “can I come up now? Is it over?” Not necessarily in a bad way but this is an extremely long book to read on a Kindle. It’s a reviewers biggest nightmare to end up with a super long book that eats into the reading productivity of the month. Literally I wanted to finish this weeks ago before pub date but it wasn’t a quick read, it was impossible to skim for fear of missing anything, and then I had to collect my thoughts.

I think if people have time to get lost in this massive world that spans everything from xenobiology to history of lost alien races, from intergalactic war to peace, multiple settings and two full crews, and immense amounts of world building along the way… It’s a pretty solid space epic.

I might have enjoyed the book more spread out and developed as a trilogy, bringing the different crews and adventures and timelines into more separate stories. As it was, I felt yanked from one setting to another just as I was getting comfortable with the place and people involved in the prior one. It takes place over…. Somewhere between 2-4 years I think.

The world building and science involved is something amazing though, the years put into writing this are quite clear. I think I read 8 years he spent drafting and writing and re-writing. Sometimes the details and world building dragged the plot to a standstill, which explains the length in both time count and reading time for me.

The Wallfish crew were my favorite characters. Falconi and Trig and Sparrow and the ship’s pets were up my alley of dark humour at times. That is a crew that I would happily spend endless hours with. I never really connected with Kira herself, she never felt real and although I liked her well enough, I felt kind of blah about what happened to her.

I think Gregorovich, the ship mind, is widely a fan favorite and I 100% agree.

The crew is gathering in the mess hall, if you wish to partake, O Spiky Meatbag. – Gregorovich

Or when he calls the alien Be-tentacled friend, Queen of Thorns, or Sparrow Birdname! But then also Gregorovich:

I screamed, though I have no mouth to scream. I wept, though I have no eyes for tears. I crawled through space and time, a worm inching through a labyrinth built by the dreams of a mad god. This I learned, meatbag, this and nothing more: when air, food, and shelter are assured, only two things matter. Work and companionship. To be alone and without purpose is to be the living dead.”

Definitely some pretty well multifaceted characters, I think that crew together is one of the more shippable ones in adult literature that I’ve read.

I was totally ok with that ending too, bittersweet and I get along really well.

All in all: not bad but I think the book got lost in itself at times for being a standalone. At this point it is the starting point of a new universe, but apparently to be a standalone within that world so all that worldbuilding may make more sense later on.

Also: I think PigFinger should have been included in the dictionary at the end 🤣

Have you read it? Want to discuss it? Leave a comment!

Categories
Dystopian Horror Literary Fiction Paranormal Science Fiction

Book Review: The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier

Thank you so much to Angry Robot Books for the finished copy of The Phlebotomist in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own.

Quick facts:

  • Title: The Phlebotomist
  • Series: standalone
  • Author: Chris Panatier
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot – September 8th 2020
  • Length: 345 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes!

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

War brought the Harvest. Willa Mae Wallace is a reaper.

To support herself and her grandson Isaiah, Willa works for the blood contractor Patriot. Instituted to support the war effort, the mandatory draw (The Harvest) has led to a society segregated by blood type. Hoping to put an end to it all, Willa draws on her decades-old phlebotomy training to resurrect an obsolete collection technique, but instead uncovers an awful truth.

Patriot will do anything to protect its secret. On the run and with nowhere else to turn, Willa seeks an alliance with Lock, a notorious blood-hacker who cheats the Harvest to support the children orphaned by it. But they soon find themselves in the grasp of a new type of evil.

My dark sci-fi dystopian blood drawing nurse heart was all about this book. My patients not-so-lovingly call us night shift nurses “vampires” because we are always after blood at night, and I was immediately drawn to the synopsis where a mandatory blood harvest has created a segregated society based off of blood types.

Willa Mae is in her 60s and a fantastic older main character. Lock, the blood hacker, can’t be much younger, and for some reason reading about older women playing the heroes struck a chord with me. They are snarky and wholesome and so caring for their young charges. Both rely on their knowledge and use of older technologies in a highly automated big-brother type world to undermine Patriot and practice some old-school phlebotomy to (at least try) to save society.

I can’t talk about Patriot too much without spoilers but the company runs blood collection stations all over the country to fuel the need for blood transfusions after nuclear bombs struck in certain “gray areas.” The lies, murders, and political structure of Patriot.. let me just say that I couldn’t put this book down once I started.

100% not what I expected.

The side cast of characters was great too, there was so much hope in one area called “bad blood” where everyone that was undesirable for transfusions was sent. They grew gardens and repurposed factory stores. The book definitely was not always happy, there were some significant and bloody deaths which I 100% endorse in any good resistance based dystopian.

Lastly there is a bit of transfusion based science provided just for informational sakes and I thought that was great. We have to do so much checking and double checking of blood before transfusing and I think Panatier did a phenomenal job putting this all into layman’s terms for readers.

If you are even slightly into dystopias, sci fi, resistance based novels, even fantasy/paranormal readers could cross over and enjoy this, I totally recommend it.

Happy Book Birthday!!!!

Categories
Science Fiction Thrillers

Book Review: The Price of Safety by Michael C. Bland

  • Title: The Price of Safety
  • Series: Yes – the first of a planned trilogy
  • Author: Michael C. Bland
  • Publisher & Release: World Castle Publishing – April, 2020
  • Length: 331 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⚡ Yes!

Thank you so much to Books Forward PR for my copy of The Price of Safety by Michael C. Bland.  I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review and all opinions are my own.

This is a sci-fi thriller and I can solidly recommend it to fans of either genre.  Also the book deserves a huge congrats for being an Indie Book Awards finalist in both genres as well!!

Here is the description from GoodReads:

By 2047, no crime in the U.S. goes unsolved. No wrongdoing goes unseen. When Dray Quintero learns his 19-year-old daughter Raven committed a heinous act, he covers it up to save her life. This pits him against the police he’s respected since he was a child and places him in the crosshairs of Kieran, a ruthless federal Agent. To survive, Dray must overcome the surveillance system he helped build and the technology implanted in the brains and eyes of the citizens.

Forced to turn to a domestic terrorist group to protect his family, Dray soon realizes the sheer level of control of his adversaries. Hunted and betrayed, with time running out, will Dray choose his family or the near-perfect society he helped create?

The government has us wired. Neural nets track our data and deceive our minds. There are cameras in our eyes, and crime is practically nonexistent. Or is it? The government is controlling every aspect of life and the engineer who helped create it all is now on the wrong side of the law. How can Dray escape the cameras and keep his family intact after a brutal crime sets them on the run?

The book has everything from futuristic medicine to technologically enhanced Agents to machine gun battles, and many harrowing escapes. The last half was so incredibly hard to put down as the action just never stopped.  It was almost a brain-overload at times as one huge wild scene after another played out.  I can’t wait for the second book!

I liked Dray and the girls too.  He is trying to keep his family together and there is a battle of wills between him and his teenaged daughters that will have parents smiling to themselves at times for sure.  I am not a parent but there is a lot of thought provoking content related to protecting one’s children, and the future of technology, social media, and medicine (yay!) in general.

I would 100% gladly recommend The Price of Safety to any fans of sci fi, thrillers, and even family adventures.  Between dark matter powered flying motorbikes and a mother’s torment over losing a ‘perfect’ life, there is truly something for everyone here.

 

About the author:

MICHAEL C. BLAND: Michael is a founding member and the secretary of BookPod: an invitation-only, online group of professional writers. He pens the monthly BookPod newsletter where he celebrates the success of their members, which include award-winning writers, filmmakers, journalists, and bestselling authors. One of Michael’s short stories, “Elizabeth,” won Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest 2015 Popular Fiction Awards contest. Three short stories he edited have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Another was adapted into an award-winning film. Michael also had three superhero-themed poems published in The Daily Palette. He currently lives in Denver with his wife Janelle and their dog Nobu. His novel, The Price of Safety, is the first in a planned trilogy. For more information about Michael’s life and work, visit www.mcbland.com

Categories
Middle Grade Paranormal Science Fiction Young Adult

ARC Review: Catalyst by Tracy Richardson

  • Title: Catalyst
  • Series: The Catalysts, #2 (reads as a standalone though!!)
  • Author: Tracy Richardson
  • Publisher & Release: Brown Books Publishing Group: June 2, 2020
  • Length: 248 pages
  • Rating & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for younger readers

Thank you so much to Books Forward for my advanced copy of Catalyst by Tracy Richardson!  This is the second book in a series but reads as a standalone with no spoilers, so no worries there.

Here is the description from Goodreads:

Marcie Horton has a sixth sense. Not in the “I see dead people” way, but . . . well, maybe a little. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained – an intuition that goes beyond the normal. Then there was that one summer four years ago, when she connected with a long-departed spirit . . . But nothing that incredible has happened to Marcie since.

This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds-something Marcie knows only vaguely that her brother has also had experience with.

Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken, and she and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history. It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting.

This book contains a lot of really great messages for young readers, first and foremost the environmental consequences of our actions.  Marcie and her team are dealing with an energy company that wants to expand fracking in the area, and there is a great amount of info about that and other environmental disasters.

Marcie has an interesting character arc as well.  She knows there is something about the world that she can sense, but isn’t sure what it is.  With the help of Zeke and Lorraine, two grad students on the dig, Marcie and the other teens learn about the Universal Energy Field and the implications of the fourth, fifth, and dimensions beyond.  Leo is the other main character and provides the opposing point of view on fracking, as his father works for the energy industry.   Their relationship is interesting because it pretty accurately portrays how teens have trouble with opposing viewpoints, and how to talk around issues and make compromises. I really shipped them.

I’m also Greek and ran cross country and share a name with the alien space ship…so…yeah, there are those things too.  I liked Marcie a lot.  The book reminds me of The Celestine Prophecies, which I was obsessed with in high school, and I’m really glad that this generation of young readers gets a book like this too.

The book turns from fairly normal, to paranormal, to sci-fi Jesus in a spaceship REAL quick, and I loved it.  I thought the context of spiritual leaders made sense, since it would be pretty egocentric to assume that the gods and goddesses and religious leaders are only dedicated to one planet.  The sci-fi element is definitely a bit out there in left field but it worked for me.

The book is relatively short at 248 pages.  The pacing is pretty even and I’m sad that it took me so long to start because once I did, I read it in two sittings.  I was never bored at all. I would totally and fully recommend this for teen readers as an environmentally and self-conscious read that has some great examples of conflict resolution and interpersonal relationships within the team.

The paperback releases on September 22nd, while the Kindle version released on June 2nd.

Have you read it? Want to discuss it? Let me know!

Categories
Fantasy Science Fiction Young Adult

ARC Review: Sisters of the Perilous Heart by Sandra L. Vasher

  • Title: Sisters of the Perilous Heart
  • Series: Mortal Inheritance #1
  • Author: Sandra L. Vasher
  • Length: 414 pages
  • Publisher: Mortal Ink Press, LLC
  • Release: May 5th, 2020
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟✨ likely

Thank you so much to Xpresso Book Tours via NetGalley for the digital ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!  Sisters of the Perilous Heart is a unique sci-fi / fantasy crossover novel that got delightfully deadly for the genre.  There is a tad bit of romance too, half of which is actually…cute.

Here is the description from Goodreads:

What would you do to save a sister?

As the last mortal kingdom of Kepler resists the Immortal Empire, its young queen faces a devastating attack. Queen Vivian is two minutes into her reign when an arrow pierces her heart and infects her with the Immortality Virus. But she has too much magic to become immortal and not enough to survive. She must find more magic fast, or she’ll die.

Meanwhile, another young mortal faces an uncertain future of her own. Carina is fleeing for her life, but her magic is a tracking beam for immortals. She must learn to harness and control it, or she’ll be captured and killed. Then she meets the queen of South Kepler.

Vivian needs Carina’s magic, and she can offer safe haven in exchange. But can Vivian trust this common girl? Carina isn’t on the kingdom’s registry of magicians. What if she’s a Northern rebel? A spy for the Immortal Empire? And will the truth be revealed in time to save them both?

Immortality is engineered by a virus strain in a future Earth.  Ships with Immortals are sent out to colonize other planets, and the events of the novel take place some 4000 years later.  Once we read through some boring-ish but important epidemiology stuff, this book became truly enjoyable. I will not say spoilers but the end of the book was BRAVE on the author’s part!

The world-building and history is extremely well done.  It comes in bits and pieces.  In the beginning things are a bit confusing, but by the end of the book the various Strains of Immortals and Mortals and mostly everything else makes sense.  The world itself is very well constructed with terrain, geography, architecture, food and dress that is very Earthlike at times.  We even get a glimpse into the Royal family, succession, and political maneuvering but the novel never felt info dumpy in the present-day chapters.  My favorite bit was to see the native citizens and some animals too.

The two main characters are both sweet and pretty relatable. Carina the girl from the brewery and Vivian, the Queen, poisoned two minutes into her rule. I liked these two, and the funny thing was that every single side character was a huge wildcard while the main characters stayed their courses.  The princes obviously have their own agendas, and who knows what’s going on with Carina’s travelling buddies.  A lot of character development was built around angst and hiding things, but teens in books rarely have open communication and that would make it too easy, right?  Poor Queen Vivian though I really liked her and everyone thinks she’s a monster because of her god-terrible mother.  I did like the dynamic between the trio of siblings – ha ha usually.  I repeat: pay attention to the side characters while reading!

The magic was pretty straightforward.  Certain Mortals in the Cardinal families have strong abilities in telekinesis and either heat or cold, while most people have some mild telekinetic skill.  They vary from the interpersonal threads similar to Truthwitch to moving objects, healing, sensing people’s where abouts, to being able to tear a building apart.

Quick note: once it got going the pacing is perfect.  I promise the plot and character twists toward the end are worth the reader’s time. Some is foreshadowed, some really isn’t.

Last but not least, the OneReadingNurse medical rant©! As a medical professional I am not sure how I feel about HIV+Flu mixing to cause the Immortality virus.  I feel like it would just … kill people.  I did like how much thought Vasher put into the etiology and epidemiology of the virus, but caution readers not to take it as advice on any specific modern day viruses.  I also think her magical healing makes sense – Danielle Jensen and Kristin Britain in the past have written similar magical healing elements – it takes ENERGY to heal! It would likely wipe out the healer, and I like how the energy transfer is acknowledged and realistic here!

Anyway! In summary: Miscommunication as a  plot device is not always a bad thing.  There is political intrigue, sibling banter, and a whole lot of ‘why murder me when you could have just asked’?  I liked the mix of modern, medical, and fantastic elements. I definitely recommend this book to both sci-fi and fantasy readers.  I rated 3.5 stars for the learning curve at the beginning and amount of time it took to clear up the different factions, and I didn’t like Carina’s group’s dynamic.  I definitely have 100% respect for the author for doing what she did at the end of the book 😉 and definitely need to read the next installment!

Categories
Science Fiction

Book Review: Sixteenth Watch by Myke Cole!

Thank you so much to my partner Angry Robot Books (thank you!) for the finished copy of Sixteenth Watch by Myke Cole! The book was provided in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.

Here is the description from GoodReads:

The Coast Guard must prevent the first lunar war in history. A lifelong Search-and-Rescuewoman, Coast Guard Captain Jane Oliver is ready for a peaceful retirement. But when tragedy strikes, Oliver loses her husband and her plans for the future, and finds herself thrust into a role she’s not prepared for. Suddenly at the helm of the Coast Guard’s elite SAR-1 lunar unit, Oliver is the only woman who can prevent the first lunar war in history, a conflict that will surely consume not only the moon, but earth as well.

I usually enjoy books with fictional military bearing and love my sci fi, so this book seemed like a natural pick.  It is my first romp into  current American military fiction, featuring mainly the Coast Guard and Marine Corps/Navy.  Sixteenth Watch is what they call a tour in space, and one central plot is a huge military branch jurisdiction battle…in space.

Captain Oliver is trying to prevent a war with China.  Tensions have been heating up on the moon and the Coast Guard is the branch for the job, but the Navy has pushed them into a corner.  The solution seems to be to win a military competition that the Marines have been dominating for years in order to win public support.   The Coast Guard team is capable but still reeling from losses incurred in a surface skirmish years ago where they lost two team members and Oliver’s husband.  There are also overarching themes of dealing with grief, self forgiveness, teamwork, and standing up for yourself and your team when things get hairy.

I did enjoy the book a lot but the plot was scattered all over the place at times. Boarding Actions were interesting enough to carry the action for the most part, and jurisdictional conflicts were individually interesting, but I wanted more cohesion.  The SAR-1 team went from disgruntled to cohesive VERY quickly after a few weeks and one particular incident in the field, and I think even before presenting the team competition there should have been a little more proof of their friendships forming and teamwork solidifying.   Cold packed way too much into the end and then just ended the book with a sense of closure that I didn’t feel, at all

I did absolutely love Oliver and the team though, she was such a bad-ass. I wanted to root for her team of Coasties, like who doesn’t love watching a team come together??  The pacing of the entire novel just felt off even though they only had a few weeks together,  most of the action was in the last quarter when the book got interesting.  Prior to that the story seemed to be a cycle of grief and exposition, which was needed but set it off to a slow start for me.

The other thing I need to mention are all the abbreviations and editing.  A glossary is provided for us non-military people but it was a bit of a struggle for me to keep up sometimes.  There are also multiple typos and areas that needed another read over,  and since this is a finished copy I allowed it to distract me a bit.

This is definitely a must for military fiction readers.  I think sci-fi readers will enjoy it too but it was less about sci-fi and more about the military and strategy and Marines waving their d!cks (sorry I lived with one for a LONG time and this seemed quite accurate).  I would still recommend it too for those who like kick ass female characters and stories with team competitions.

Thank you again to Angry Robot Books for the book (Gemma is amazing)! All opinions are my own.

Categories
Science Fiction Thrillers Young Adult

The God Game by Danny Tobey

Thank you so much to St Martin’s Press for the ARC of The God Game by Danny Tobey! This is a technological thriller with mythological and sci fi elements, read on to find out why I’m recommending this book!

Synopsis from GoodReads:

You are invited! Come inside and play with G.O.D. Bring your friends! It’s fun! But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then th threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

If cool rainbow-reflective lettering on the cover wasn’t enough, this book was completely addictive as well. The premise is that a group of five high school friends (but is this really a YA book? I think all ages will enjoy this with no problem) stumble upon a chatbot that claims to be G.O.D. This moral experiment has tons of players all over the world and attempts to crowd surf morality.

All five students have their own secrets and family issues. At this point they are trying to get into college, or just survive. The game puts each teenager against them self, each other, and the community, causing them to make choices and understand that each action has a consequence.

I think these are important topics for teens to read about. Themes about lying, bullying, suicide, child abuse, religion, and taking responsibility for your actions are all included in the book. Some are discussed thoughtfully and others less so. My favorite part was seeing how each teen reacted once they learned that their choices, actions, and decisions all had very potentially harmful flip sides for someone else.

“Donald Trump is a shape shifting lizard”

The other part I enjoyed was the humor! Isn’t it great that we live in a country where we can publish “Donald Trump is a shape-shifting lizard?” I did something similar to that to George Bush and it was made clear to me by the teacher that I should be thankful I didn’t live in a country where I could be imprisoned or worse for writing bad presidential poetry. Just saying. That part had me absolutely rolling though, but then The God Game got more intense and progressively darker to the point where I wasn’t laughing anymore.

I also enjoyed that progressive descent into ruin. It made the book so hard to put down. The end got a little bit convoluted and murky which is why I dropped the rating to four stars. The other part that threw me was some of the talk about code, I don’t know anything about coding and although it didn’t throw me off too hard – I just had no idea what they were talking about during those passages. The hacking parts were still interesting.

I thought after they had been though that the characters deserved a nice wrapped up ending after the game answered it’s biggest question of morality…. but that’s not how G.O.D. works.

The book releases on January 7th, 2020, mark your calendar if The God Game sounds up your alley!