Invinciman, by R. T. Leone



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Welcome to the exciting world of Robox, where robots beating the snot out of each other in cage matches are used to settle disputes on a scale you won’t be ready for. 

Ray Martin gets involved with Daniel Darque’s brainchild–a sentient robot named Darquer–and man does his life go wrong. Between a revolution, a botched assassination, and a genius’ downward spiral, poor Ray doesn’t have much time to breathe. 

I really enjoyed how well-organized the narrative was. It bounced a lot back and forth between past or present quite a bit, but only a handful of times did it feel awkward. They back and forth usually mirrored each others’ causes and effects. Backstory was given without an information dump using that method. Ample time was provided to get to know the characters and get a feel for their depth. 

I liked how friendship and loyalty were tested. Just how far can one be pushed in order to show continued support for their best friend? Ray found that out whether he wanted to or not. There’s many levels of dynamic storytelling involved with the narrative: corporate takeovers, political satire, and brilliantly engineered plots all weaved together. 

A tightly woven narrative with characters pretty well-developed and an ending sure to make even the most stoic of readers feel something. 

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Dawn, by Weston Westmoreland 



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When I read a book for review, I don’t always read the summary. I do that to see how well the author conveys their idea of the story throughout the narrative. Sometimes that fails, and by the time I reach the end of the book, I look to the blurb on the back cover for clarity. 

Contained within the blurb for Dawn were important details pertaining to the world-building. That’s not to say there’s no world-building inside, however. The reader gets thrown into the world of Arweg with not enough detail for a full, clear picture of the conflict, some of which doesn’t come until later in the story. Almost like it was the 2nd or 3rd novel in a series, and the reader had already been introduced. 

So, Mara and Brod discover a capsule while digging that triggers an invasion. That invasion triggers a rebellion of their caste society. In the most Conan or Rambo sort of way.

The writing style worked well for the tone of the novel. Character interactions were done well. Dialogue was awkward in some places.  

The plot did manage to make a couple surprising moves. Some were hinted at with foreshadowing, some happened out of nowhere. Some made sense and fit with the plot. 

Characters, while treated well, felt flat. Readers were told their emotional state rather than shown. This led to a disconnect between reader and character. It felt like just the basics of their personalities shone through. When critical moments came around that were designed to hurt the hearts of readers, it didn’t happen that way. I just wasn’t invested enough to have them make that much of an impact. 

As far as sci-fi went, this stuck right to the formula. The plot wasn’t very original, but it was an interesting execution on the government/revolutionary society. Maybe with a little tweaking in the way the story unfolds, there would be overall improvement. A sound story lurks within, along with a pretty good writing style. 

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A Perfect World, by Shari Sakurai

9_6_17 A Perfect World.jpg

4 stars

 

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I was introduced to this series by reading Adam first. It was only a companion piece, but it was an excellent introduction to the world, the conflict, and the characters. However, I will warn readers that reading Adam first will spoil this novel.

 

 

Eric’s got it all. Literally. As the genetically engineered poster boy for the L. S. A, he faces off against the notorious terrorist Adam Larimore. Things aren’t always as they seem, and Eric’s unwavering loyalty will really be put to the test.

 

 

I liked the layer and depth to the two factions. Adam and the L. S. A. were constantly trying to outdo and stay ahead of each other. Things that seemed insignificant at the time became the catalyst for something much bigger. However, the reader doesn’t realize it until much later. Character motivations were always in question. The lines between morality were heavily drawn. It was a nice dynamic that kept the reader from getting too comfortable.

 

 

As far as romances went, this one showed rather than told character emotions towards one another. It was subtle the whole way, something I really enjoyed. Things felt more natural. It progressed at a reasonable rate, though still a little on the fast side. There were a lot of nuances that went into character interactions. It made them more tense, more dramatized so the reader stayed interested. There were dynamics all over the place. It was great.

 

 

When talking about sci-fi, this certainly took a very dystopian view. The world was in shambles, and a corrupt government is maintaining those shambles. The two genres overlap nicely, in a very young adult way.

 

 

Dialogue was awkward at some points. Receiving character emotions was difficult. An impassioned scene would arise in which a character was supposed to make the reader sympathize and reciprocate said feelings. Some of those scenes fell flat.

 

 

The cliffhanger at the end was really good. It ended on such a note that I want to find out what happens next. There’s a few routes this series could take, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

 

 

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The Moaning of Loaf, by Ade Bozzay



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I adore weird, off-the-wall novels with dirty, dark, and cynical humor. They tend to stray in directions far from the comfort zone of mainstream narratives. Because of that, I feel that oftentimes they’re more creative and interesting. However, I will say that, unfortunately it takes a certain kind of reader to appreciate and understand it. Therefore, a niche audience is required. 
The Moaning of Loaf was just one such novel. To start with, Nobby is an unattractive, unlucky–or incredibly lucky, depending on how you want to look at it–lonely man. His life is essentially a joke, but he makes do. After a knock to the noggin, he woke up in an alien spacecraft. Think his luck gets any better? That’s open to interpretation. Nobby seemed to be the luckiest unlucky man just…ever. 
There were many reasons to like this novel. Nobby was an unconventional character in many ways. Throughout all his misfortune, he managed to maintain such an odd outlook on life. It fluctuated between pessimism and blatant disregard. As a character, Nobby just kind of is. He was nothing extraordinary or special–and he knew it. Yet he still managed to carry on. 
Tonality was a huge deal for narration. It set a light and humorous, yet decidedly dark and cynical way of reading. It balanced the actions of the story well. 
A wide array of characters were available, and they all had positive messages to teach; be it the reader or Nobby. My favorite one was that it was easy to admit when you were wrong and apologize for any misgivings your ignorant actions may have caused. Especially where cultural differences were concerned. There was a whole lot of respect floating around. It showed that people of all types can, in fact, set their differences aside and get along. However, it also demonstrated that prejudices do get in the way and aren’t the easiest thing to overcome. 
The plot was good. Thing did feel a bit rushed at the end, though. It made the climax sort of flat and unimpressive. I really want to give this novel a higher rating. I do. I can’t, though, because it was incredibly unpolished. Quite a bit of technical editing was needed to put this novel where it needed to be. 
I enjoyed this novel a lot. I won’t say it’s for all audiences, but those it is meant for will love it. I would love to see a fully edited and polished version. It had quite a bit of potential as either a standalone or a series. 
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I Have a Friend on Jupiter, by Celine Rose Mariotti



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The idea of kids having pen pals in space is quite the adorable one. Rather creative, as well. Carlos and Indiana think it’s pretty cool, too. So cool, in fact, that the aliens decide to visit. When that happens, things start to go horribly wrong. 
The writing style and simplistic dialogue make this definitely feel geared towards a younger audience. Given the fact that the kids are twelve, I liked how that worked out. Things were fairly predictable and straightforward. The attitudes of the kids and their open mindedness was a strong representation of how some things are taught. 
The climax fell a bit short. Giving the aliens certain abilities made things a little too easy. I understand why it was done, but perhaps involving the children a little more would have spiced it up a bit. 
The entire thing was well-written, and I think it will hit the target audience. There was a continuity issue or two, and some things being resolved a little too easy made the ending a tad disappointing, but overall it wasn’t a bad story. There were certainly some positive messages in there that I think the younger audience would be able to pick up on. 
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Dawn of the Dreamer, by L. J. Higgins 


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It’s rare to see the first novel in a series wrap everything up nice and neat without giving a teaser as to what’s going to happen next. Sure, the reader has a good idea of who’s going to be involved, but literally left guessing as to the capacity. 
Amelia is Dreamer, and I don’t mean her head’s in the clouds. She’s one of few that maintains uncontrolled dreams, as compared to the rest of the population. With the creation of Wristcuffs, people are supposed to enjoy a better life. It allows the wearers dreams to be controlled, feeding them subliminal messages like in that episode of Futurama. Because that doesn’t work on Amelia, she’s an outcast. There’s something wrong with her. And, as with any technology, I’m sure you can already see the downside and how it’s used in the conflict. 
Pretty standard when it comes to futurism. Predictable route of one corporation with a monopoly on controlling the populace. While straightforward with its formula, I did like the Dreamer/Non-Dreamer dynamic. It added a nice extra layer of depth to the conflict. 
There were a lot of characters I really liked. Most of them, in a few different ways, served the plot well. What made me kind of sad, however, is that this novel ran into a problem that many seem to with a woman as the main character. While she’s interesting and well-written, it feels like her purpose is only to further the plot of other characters. She’s always being saved. She’s dependent on other people. Now, I’m not saying that’s a terrible thing in moderation. Amelia, as the main character, felt like a bystander in her own story. Just a catalyst. There’s good development there, and great potential, it just didn’t feel maximized for this novel. 
There were a few other inconsistencies littered throughout. Some of them felt like good, natural progression, but the time jump left information out. Especially towards the middle/end of the novel. They’re noticeable, but not deal-breaking. The rest of the story flowed well, and I really liked the fact that things were wrapped up completely at the end, but the reader knows that it’s not really the end. They know something more is coming, just not how it’s going to play out. I think that was very well done. 
All in all, not bad. The narrative itself was well-written. It’s piqued my interest enough that I’m genuinely interested in reading the next one and seeing where things go. 

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Chromosomes, by Ashleigh Reynolds

8_7_17 Chromosomes

4 stars

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If you’re into paranormal/science-fiction-type romances that follow nearly every trope set down by the genre, Chromosomes is for you.

 

Emma’s kidnapped and held at a mysterious facility, only to be broken out by one of the residents. Holden, better known as “Subject Seven” is a very dangerous person, and his relationship with Emma begins for one reason, and one reason only. Of course, that changes during the course of their escape.

 

Now, I’ll start by saying that the narrative was very well-written. An excellent first-person tone was maintained throughout. For the most part, I loved the way Emma’s personality was constructed. She was smart, sassy, and just generally likeable. To be honest, all the character personalities were done well. I liked the way their individual stories progressed. Even their development was on-point. Overall conflict was external, but the majority of the driving conflict was internal. It allowed the novel to focus more on the characters and properly develop them.

 

What bothered me about Emma’s character was that she was the classic “damsel in distress.” She was always being saved, being knocked out, and constantly had to be protected. It got a little repetitive. To be honest, aside from the role she was required to play by the facility, it felt like she didn’t do a whole lot. She was there strictly for Holden and his development. Holden’s character wasn’t free of tropey standards, either. While the story was told from Emma’s point of view, it felt like his story, not hers. He was the main focus of everything, not her, regardless of how important she was made out to be.

 

The romance aspect wasn’t bad. Again, followed the classic formula, but was better written than quite a few I’ve read. Because of that, progression was easily predictable, so the climax and resolution wasn’t much of a stunning surprise. Their relationship, all things considered, leaned more on the healthy side. That was definitely a point in their favor.

 

A sequel is a certainty. I can say that things were written well enough that I want to find out what happens. There’s a few different routes that follow-ups could take. They could turn out to be pretty epic if genre shackles could be broken.

 

The novel itself and the story weren’t inherently bad. They just lacked some originality. Character personalities really helped make up for weaker areas. The writing style was excellent and very enjoyable. Writing in first person is a huge strength of the author, something I wish I could say for a lot of novels.

 

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Lucky Duck Cola, by Stephen Puiia



Lucky Duck Cola was a bit all over the place. The premise is told through a Humaniac slave to an incredibly powerful, overly masculine man. It’s meant to be satirical over some current political issues like racial divide, and I see what it was going for, but quite a bit of polishing is needed. 

A new world was created to fit the narrative, a very futuristic world. However it’s not explained well. Everyone floats and there’s no explanation until the end. Trying to get a grasp on technology and the is a difficult task. Things move along at a rapid pace, and it feels like things are happening mostly at random. There’s no buildup or alluding to much of anything beyond his relationship. 

I liked the over-the-top way character creation was handled. They reflected well the extreme sides of things like toxic masculinity and segregation. There was a bit of depth for the characters and a bit more development than I expected there to be. 

I see the idea, and I like what the novel touches on. However, there’s some work that needs to be done to give things a little more definition so the reader doesn’t feel quite so lost. 

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A Gleam of Light, by T. J. & M. L. Wolf

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4 stars

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To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what goes better together than traditional Native American legends and ancient aliens. Seriously. Looking back at tales of sky people and creation stories—why can’t aliens be the answer? Now, the word ‘alien’ is never technically used, but…we all know. We want to believe.

 

 

After a crazy incident on a plane at 30,000 feet, Una Waters ends up distancing herself from her home. Now, as an adult, life has called her back to her Hopi roots. It winds up being exactly what she needs. A cave’s been discovered not far from her home, and now the military threaten the place she grew up.

 

 

The first thing this novel makes clear is that the main character, Una, is a POC. Not white, not ambiguous—she’s straight up Hopi and proud of it. In fact, not only does it focus on Hopi legends and traditions, but the plight of the Hopi and many other Native American cultures. They’re trying to preserve what little they have left with all the resistance from the white man. In many ways, the story parallels current events. There’s a lot of information given about the tribe, and it helps the reader to sympathize with Una’s plight. The information comes in intervals, as it becomes relevant to the plot.  Quite a bit of time and effort appear to have gone into researching the subject matter. Things don’t feel stereotypical.

 

 

With very much a Circle of Life vibe, the novel eventually comes full circle, as well. Coincidence is one thing, but the foreshadowing placed at the beginning of the novel shows that coincidence and fate are very intertwined.

 

 

If you’re looking for an action-packed thriller, you’re looking in the wrong place. For all of the conflict that does occur, the tone of the novel is still pretty mellow. It reflects Una’s character well. While she recognizes when she should have a sense of urgency, she feels very much at peace with herself and things around her. It’s an envious state of mind, to be sure. The relaxing narrative helped the reader to sit back and learn something new.

 

 

There was an incredible message wrapped within the entertaining narrative. It’s educational. A Gleam of Light is spun in such a way that it would make many UFO chasers sit down and say: “yes, please.” It’s only book one, and I’m very interested to see where Una’s journey’s takes her next.

 

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Stone & Iris, by Jonathan Ballagh

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Alison Shaw answered a call one night. One that would change her life, for better or for worse.

 

I want to say this had almost a 2001: A Space Odyssey feel to it. As Alison progresses through her development, the tone changes. And then it just gets sad. Yet, strangely heartwarming. Whatever the mood, the writing style matched with reader emotion. Enhanced it. The style goes from concrete, where we know exactly what’s going on, to obscure. It follows with the natural progression of the narrative.

 

It’s an intense little tale. I liked it, and am now having an existential crisis.

 

 

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