The Time Bender, by Debra Chapoton

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An odd little alien romance that’s pretty well-suited for the target audience.

Tasked with abducting a human time-bender, aliens Marcum and Coreg get much more than they bargained for. Competition, sleeper-aliens, and the threat of other, more dangerous aliens keep these characters on their toes while they navigate through their feelings.

And a love-triangle. Beneath the sci-fi exterior, there was a very familiar romance formula. It was done better than most, though. Overdone, but not inherently detrimental.

My favorite part was how Selina’s friend, Alex, was incorporated to be important to the narrative. Rather than being left as the goofy sidekick/love-interest, he was given a solid character and treated to character development. He had his own storyline that assisted with the plot. The only thing that bothered me was how fast things were learned during the climax. Not just for Alex, either. Several characters fell victim to that category. And it all occurred about the same time.
The characters were very likeable and, for the most part, relatable. I liked the way they meshed together to push the story along. Their storylines intertwined without getting in the way of the overarching plot. Not only was Selina’s character development assisted by it, but it also catapulted minor characters into the spotlight. I enjoyed the dialogue; it flowed naturally and helped the characters be engaging. This played towards the more light-hearted tone that the narrative maintained.

The switching between first and third person was jarring, no matter how much I understood the desire to tell both sides of the story.

Overall an interesting read. There was definitely more than enough there to pique my interest in the rest of the series.

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Blades of the Fallen, by Ross Harrison

An awesome, Mass Effect-esque adventure of galactic proportions.

What seemed to be a simple assignment for two aspiring Vanguard turned into a haunting nightmare. Necurians are generally a peaceful race, but the upcoming conflict is going to test any and all of their convictions as they pursue a merciless killer across space.

Let me just say: wow. This was excellent from start to finish. Such a beautiful, expansive, and detailed world was created amidst so few pages. There were only a few instances of long, lengthy explanations of history or backstory. The rest was spread out and drip-fed as it became relavent to the plot so as not to overwhelm the reader. Great care was taken in the creation of the world and it really shows.

Allegories for sexism and racism in the modern world were also heavy themes throughout. There were arguments done from both sides, and it was tasteful, meant to actually make the reader ponder about morality for a moment.

The characters were wonderful as well. Significant differences were seen in their personalities at the end. Their development was thorough, emotional, and relevant to the kind of character they were. Psionic abilities were given to the Necurians, but they weren’t all-powerful. Appropriate nerfs were applied to their powers so that they still had challenges to overcome.

The depth of the plot was astounding. There were a few different storylines intersecting throughout, all coming from different characters and different corners of the galaxy. Some were shorter than others, yet still necessary to either plot or character development. I didn’t have any questions left over at the end, nor was I left feeling unfulfilled at the resolution itself. Fight scenes are hard to pull off, and this novel excelled at them.

This was an excellent book. The opening was a little slow, but once past that, it doesn’t stop. I can see inspiration drawn from several big-name fantasy and sci-fi sources. And, it was sci-fi made accessible for the casual reader. The writing style kept the readers attention, and felt fresh and fun the whole way through. This was a wonderful book. Definitely an author I want to keep an eye on.

Matters Arising From the Identification of the Body, by Simon Petrie

A detectives job is always significantly worse when the investigation involves those of wealthy backgrounds. For one reason or another, there just always seems to be something sinister and off about them. Tanja Morgenstein’s apparent suicide is causing Guerline Scarfe a serious headache, mostly because nothing is as it seems on Titan.

Okay, first of all, awesome setting for a detective story. Titan, and I assumed it’s the one we all know and love as Saturn’s moon, was where all of this took place, which makes this a sci-fi detective story. And the science fiction aspect is wonderful. Technical, without being overwhelming or jargon-heavy, so that casual sci-fi fans could also enjoy.

As far as the mystery genre goes, another point for this novel. The pacing seemed right, and the reader was drip-fed enough information to let them draw their own conclusions without holding their hand.

Scarfe was a wonderful protagonist to follow. She didn’t really follow many of the stereotypes present in either the mystery/detective genre, nor much in science fiction, either. I also can’t say that much stood out with her—she wasn’t a super-genius, a “hero”, or anything like that—she just was. And I think that’s what made her so appealing to me. She was well-suited for the nature of the novel.

Speaking of, the nice ended on an excellent cliffhanger. The author crafted their book to keep the readers turning pages, and it worked like a charm. I’m so looking forward to the next installment of the series.

The Dream Recorder, by C. M. Haynes

Life after death is certainly more exciting than Abby could have hoped for. Being a Dream Recorder means that she watches and records dreams. At least, until something goes awry and suddenly they’re inside the Dreamscape, affecting billions of people worldwide.

The novella is a rather delightful one, featuring a wonderful cast of characters and a well-executed plot. Everything felt smooth from start to finish. The world was planned well and the writing style suited it excellently. There were so many creative, nuanced things that helped enhance the narrative and keep the reader incredibly interested. I had a hard time putting it down.

I will say there are some minor edits needed, mostly involving tense change from past to present. However the rest of the novella is pure quality so those factors can be overlooked.

Definitely a good read. I enjoyed it very much.

My Shorts, by Arthur Doweyko

Fans of science fiction—more specifically, time travel—will enjoy this collection of short stories. They’re the kind of short stories that always end abruptly, but leave enough information for the reader to piece together what happens. They vary from “holy crap” to “nuh-uh!” endings. While the stories hold similar themes, they do differ greatly between them; different theories and methods of time travel and different consequences. The author at least knows their stuff and it shows.

The one drawback is that these are short stories, so whatever world and characters the author creates are short-lived and not very fleshed out. Most of them are interesting enough that I would love to read a full-length novel.

The Rain (The Government Rain Mysteries), by L. A. Frederick

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For me, this one started weird and took some time to adjust to the writing style. Given the genre, some level of ambiguity is expected. Enough of it builds tension and creates the desire for the reader to continue on. The opening of this felt too ambiguous.

 

Once beyond that, however, and into the main story, the curtain raised.

 

Deadly experiments by the government (who else?) to study a very special group of people bring a very unlikely cast together to uncover the truth of the rain before it’s too late.

 

Rain is told through alternating point of views, both good and bad. It felt more like a rounded story, being able to see Doctor Zhirkov’s side of the ordeal; it made him feel more like a character and less of a plot device. We got to see him face off against Evaline the reporter and Reinhardt the vigilante firsthand. It allowed for the reader to gather information without lots of monologuing or following the same character from start to finish. Perspective switches were smooth as well. They gave adequate indication of the person, setting, and time, much in the way Stephen King separates his chapters.

 

All of the characters were connected, a detail the author paid close attention to. Details didn’t really feel muddled between them. The reasons behind their individual story lines were emotional and provided good character motivation.

 

There’s editing needed. There are some elements of backstory (like how Evaline began her research project into this mysterious underbelly) that were either left out, or not explained very well. Remember when I said there was a lot of ambiguity? Things do clear up the farther into the story the reader gets, but there’s still some small, fine details like that for continuity’s sake that were missing.

 

This was still a very interesting novel. Quite a bit of imagination and creativity went into not just the experiments, but the mutations as well. Reading a sequel would definitely not be out of the equation for me.

 

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Icarus, by David Hulegaard

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4 stars

 

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Whatever ending I expected, Icarus did not follow. The storyline veered hard to the right in an interesting way that will surely suck readers right in.

 

After a young girl goes missing, her friend hires Miller Brinkman, P.I. to investigate. What he finds begins a crazy adventure that pushes the bounds of the genre.

 

Aside from Miller sounding like a neckbeard on occasion (“I tipped my Fedora…”) he was a very likeable character. For a mystery novel it progressed in a patient manner that aided the narrative and didn’t give too much away. The foreshadowing was pretty on point as the book managed to hold everything to the end.

 

The mystery itself was also a rather riveting one. Things certainly were what they seemed like at the beginning. That’s what mysteries are for, though, right? At the heart of it were good characters. They were different from each other, with their own voices and their own role to play in the narrative.

 

I liked the way the style transitioned to accommodate the supernatural themes. It definitely had an X-Files theme to it towards the end.

 

While the novel and singular mystery wrapped up nicely at the conclusion, it ended on such a cliffhanger. And it was a good one, done in just the right way with enough tension to still make the reader feel a little anxious. I genuinely enjoyed it. I would love to read the sequels.

 

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Nosferatu Chronicles: Origins, by Susan Hamilton

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Vampires are not my thing. I’m going to go ahead and get that out of the way. Nosferatu and the original Dracula were alright, but I lose my taste for even them after the Twilight fiasco.

These vampires—Vambir, these alien freakin’ vampires—are totally my thing.

First of all, let’s talk about how we have sci-fi vamps. Second, let’s talk about how well they’re integrated into the era of Vlad the Impaler and the legend of Count Dracula. And Nosferatu. And modern vampires. Origins progresses history with the evolution of vampires. Not only was a thorough explanation given for the transformations, but they were all so integral to the plot.

Not only was the story seamless, so were characters. There was a wide array, and each of them had distinct personality—which, like everything else, served the plot well. Dialogue read easily and naturally.

It was filled with wonderful tension, suspense, and political intrigue. Every moment was carefully planned, and not a page was wasted getting there. Character development was on-point. Perspective switched were excellently placed. Each one allowed for the story to be told in an interesting way. It also utilized the ‘two sides to every story’-type narrative incredibly well.

This was a good book. A really good book. It gave me hope for the vampire genre. When I was it was hard to put down, I mean it. This was a really good book.

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Devourer: A Minister Knight Novel, by Nicole Givens Kurtz

 

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4 stars

 

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Oh, man. The past few books I’ve read, Harkworth Hall and Anarchy, have made good on delivering some aspects of diversity. I’m very happy to announce that Devourer does so as well, and the author makes sure there’s no misinterpreting that fact.

A great evil is coming back to Veloris. Skin, once called a Devourer, seeks to protect a former lover from the evil, and as such, save the world. Of course she fails, and is not set on a dangerous path that could potentially end the life of everything she’s ever loved.

When I started reading, I noticed that the world building was really spaced out, like I’d been dropped into the second or third novel in the series. Lo and behold, I had. There were things that made more sense once I realized where I was at in the series, and yet I still feel like I missed critical bits of information. I would definitely start with the first of the series to familiarize yourself with what kind of world you’re dealing with.

The writing style was pretty good. Description and detail felt on the level, though perspective switches felt awkward and abrupt mid-chapter. It ended up being a little jarring. Hopefully it was just the formatting of the copy I received.

Betrayal, redemption, and forgiveness were heavy themes throughout and the aided in character development. Each of the characters had their own storyline to accomplish. Their stories served to aid the plot and their development, too. For the most part, the characters felt different from each other and three-dimensional. There were a few spots where their individual voices sort of started to blend together, but they managed to come back and right themselves.

There were a lot of good qualities contained within this novel. It’s an interesting story with a diverse cast of characters, something that’s pretty important to me as a reader. Magic and science-fiction can be combined for a good backdrop, which is exactly what this novel manages.

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The Euclidian: Alien Hitman, by Jay Cannon

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4 stars

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Left alone on Earth to retrieve alien fugitives, Adar quickly put to use a very unique method to tracking his quarry. An alien himself, his options are severely limited.

 

Adar felt a bit like Captain Kirk as he navigated his way through life on Earth (and its women). Smooth, for the most part. Purposeful. Always got the girl. Only, Adar loved to kill and smash. He was smart, however, and yet lacked empathy at the beginning. The human race has an excellent track record of assisting the development of this kind of character. Noticeable at the end, the friends Adar made along the way really opened his eyes.

 

There was a very intergalactic united front. Various kinds of aliens from different planets worked together cohesively. Earth is, of course, the exception. Earth is always the exception. It blended many different sci-fi tropes into one novel. Some were relatively cliché, but there were a few that had very nice twists to them. One thing I had an issue with was how easily people accepted aliens into their midst. Sure, it helped the plot right along, but it felt too easy in places.

 

Writing style wasn’t bad. The pacing of the novel fit the way the story unfolded. There was lots of action and the wording fit that. I liked the way the characters dealt with each other. Characters themselves were certainly a different breed, but I liked it. The author managed to take heavy stereotypes and made them meaningful. A female character wasn’t hypersexual because she had daddy issues—she just enjoyed it. There was a different kind of depth to the characters that made them stand out.

 

Alien Hitman is a sci-fi novel with non-traditional overtones. It was pretty well-written, and managed to show the reader just why moral grey areas are such quandaries. There was a cast of great characters, and all the action a reader could want.

 

Buy it here!