Club Nexus by E. J. Stevens

StevensClubNexusWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Publisher: E. J. Stevens (2014)

Narrator: Traci Odom

Length: 2 hours 23 minutes

Series: Book 2.5 Ivy Granger

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2.5 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

This book reads more like 5 short stories as there are 5 viewpoints of basically the same event, an event that takes place at the questionable bar Club Nexus. Ivy Granger and her gal pal Jinx head out for a drink, well armed. There’s a faerie that was tricked into servitude by the bar owner and she is none too happy about it. Below the bar are a series of rooms for the special clients who have special needs. I’m sure Ivy wouldn’t mind firebombing them all.

We also have our favorite demon, Forneus. He’s had an attraction to Jinx for some time and she has always rebuffed him. However, this time the ladies have to deal with a blood thirsty Southern vampire. So Forneus’s martial skills may just come in handy. I really enjoy the tension between Jinx & Forneus. I look forward to exploring the other books in the series to see more of this. In this particular book, we get to ride around in Forneus’s head for a bit and it was very interesting to see how he truly feels towards Jinx.

My only complaint about this book is that some of it was repetitive, which can be expected since it’s the same situation told over and over again by all these different people. It was kind of like taking different witness statements at an accident scene actually.

The book has that right mix of sexy tension and action. Ivy, as usual, is good at smacking the bad guys. The real big bad guy in this story is worthy of the title and also worthy of his ending. While Jinx isn’t really battle-hardened, she does make a contribution to the mayhem. It was a fun listen.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review (thanks!).

Narration: Traci Odom was a nice pick  for this book. She had a very good range of voices, as this book required since it is told from 5 distinct viewpoints. There were also various accents (British, Southern, etc.). I really enjoyed her performance.

What I Liked:  Mix of action and sexy tension; Forneus’s point of view was the most entertaining; the bad guy was worthy of my hate; the end. 

What I Disliked: The book had some points that were a bit repetitive.

What Others Think:

My World… in words & pages

Rantings of a Reading Addict

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Kerry Alan Denney, Author of Dreamweavers

Kerry Alan Denney AuthorEveryone, please welcome Kerry Denney to the blog today. He’s here to chat about his books, movies, TV series, favorite authors and plenty more. Enjoy! Also, Kerry is offering an awesome giveaway – 1 ebook of each of his books, Jagganath, Soulsnatcher, & Dreamweavers. Scroll to the bottom for info on how to enter.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

A supernatural creature first, then a space alien. A superhero would just rescue me and then leave to rescue someone else (or take down a nefarious super-villain, lol). But I could potentially learn something interesting and/or valuable from the other two. A supernatural creature might stick around and teach me secrets about the other side, beyond the grave—secrets about life and death, or parallel dimensions and alternate universes, some of my favorite subjects. A space alien might teach me about other worlds, other life forms—including intelligent, sentient species—and possibly reveal the mysteries of the universe… if they don’t serve me for dinner first.

But then again, this answer could get me into big trouble: the supernatural creature might steal my soul or turn me into a newt (yes, a Monty Python reference) after it rescues me, or the alien might be intent on conducting medical research involving anal probes and the like. :)

DenneyDreamweaversIf you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

If I only get to choose one each (what a conundrum!)…

Book: WATCHERS by Dean Koontz. One of my all-time favorites, read it five times, because I absolutely LOVE the main characters: Travis, Nora, and especially Einstein—and the creature is amazing too, and even generates sympathy for its hopeless plight and nature despite its savage, relentless ferocity. That’s swiftly followed by THE ANUBIS GATES by Tim Powers, SWAN SONG by Robert R. McCammon, THE STAND by Stephen King, and THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin—because they were all incomparably spectacular. Okay, so that’s five. Who could choose just one?!?!

Movie: Really, only one? THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR. Highly underrated and way overlooked as a true classic tale of love, loss, friendship, betrayal, and ultimate redemption. After watching it for the first time, I was transported into a most pleasant reverie for hours, and the theme and storyline stuck with me for weeks: multiple virtual realities within virtual realities, wow. I’ve seen it at least ten times, and own the DVD. But then again, I also absolutely loved Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness. Good, bad, I’m the guy with the gun. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. Everybody got that?!?!

TV series: FIREFLY, of course. I was reluctant to watch it at first, even with all the numerous rave 5-star reviews on Netflix. I figured the reviewers were just diehard sci-fi fans, and that I wouldn’t like it. I didn’t watch it until 2012, but I binged on it once I started watching. When I finished watching the last episode, I was hyper-Jonesing for more… fortunately there was SERENITY to tie things up. Firefly was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever watched. The characters are all well-written, well-acted, and realistic, and the writing was superb—not to mention the excellent laugh-out-loud humor prevalent throughout the show! Joss Whedon outdid himself with this short-lived series. A swift kick in the teeth, ass, and family jewels to the buttholes who cancelled this extraordinary show.

More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?

I think the publishing industry is evolving quite well in handling this trend. We’ve recently been inundated and even overwhelmed with movies made from PC games, and some of their plots actually play out like a video game, lacking character development and personality. But you can’t argue with their success, despite their plasticity and deficit of realism or believable situations. I enjoyed most of the “Resident Evil” movies (although Milla Jovovich certainly helped with that, a lot), and the “V for Vendetta” movie was an excellent, well-written, and entertaining adaptation of the graphic novel (and yes, Natalie Portman helped with that too). And then there’s the extraordinary show “The Walking Dead”, also adapted from a graphic novel… a show on which I and countless others are hopelessly and happily hooked (and I don’t even care that much for zombie stories).

As for taking my works into the multimedia realm, I’ll be happy to… I just need some help with that at this point in my progressing writing career. How cool would that be if someone like Joss Whedon read one of my novels and decided he wanted to make it into a movie? Or even if some popular producer wanted to turn my work into a TV series. Terry Goodkind was catapulted into mega-success when the SyFy Channel took his “Sword of Truth” fantasy series and turned it into the popular “Legend of the Seeker” TV series, and the multimedia scene is replete with similar amazing success stories.

I look at it this way: If you’re going to dream, dream big. I certainly do. It’s the only way to make the Big Dreams come true.

DenneyJagannathIf you were sent on a magical quest, which other fantasy authors would you take with you?

How many do I get to list, lol? And a quest in search of what? ;)

Charles de Lint, Patricia A. McKillip, Stephen R. Donaldson, Ursula K. LeGuin, Terry Goodkind, Tim Powers, and Douglas Adams (if I could resurrect and reanimate him).

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

There’s not a lot of them I want to read that I haven’t. Probably the top five are A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and Paradise Lost by John Milton.

One of the greatest classics I have read is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, the ultimate tale of revenge.

With the modern popularity to ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to label/ place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?

I give credit to readers for being smart and knowing how to find what they love the most. In fact, I love that we have numerous categories in which our books can be found. It works very well for me, because I write in a way that blends several genres—sci-fi, fantasy, horror, paranormal, supernatural, dystopian, and post-apocalyptic, along with suspense and thrillers—and can therefore be listed in any and all of those categories. I think that helps increase my exposure to a more eclectic selection of readers and helps me reach and build my target audience. Some reviewers of my two previous novels JAGANNATH and SOULSNATCHER have even commented in their customer reviews on Amazon and Goodreads about my ability to successfully mix genres in my work, and I consider that high praise indeed. Bring it on!

As for my own search for good reads, I can only ask one question: Leisure reading time, what’s that, lol? I’m always busy writing something, seeking publication for my previous works, editing a finished novel, or creating a new work-in-progress. But yes, I still do find the time to read a good bit in my favorite genres—which just happen to be the multiple genres in which I write.

I’m a huge James Rollins fan, and feel especially proud, honored, and privileged to have received rave testimonials from Mr. Rollins for both SOULSNATCHER and JAGANNATH. His blurbs can be seen in the “Editorial Reviews” section on the product sales pages for those novels on Amazon. I’m also a huge Dean Koontz and F. Paul Wilson fan, among many others. So no, I have definitely not been lured outside of my comfort zone with this trend. It works in my favor, and I’m sure it does for other writers as well. I even like the extensive list of sub-categories within genres.

DenneySoulsnatcherIf you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

Tough question. I appreciate and enjoy a varied selection of famous art. I’m a huge Salvador Dali fan, and as creepy as the art of Hieronymus Bosch is, I love his demented works too. Escher’s work is a trip also.

It would be spectacular to own The Scream by Edvard Munch, not because it’s such a great piece of art but because it has riveted so many art lovers over the years, drawn such appreciative worldwide attention, and horrified generations with its simple but elegant theme of darkness. However, I’d be happy with The Temptation of St. Anthony or Enigma Without End by Dali.

And yes, I’d display it for all the world to see, damn right!

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you choose to do?

Easy: I would spend all my time and effort figuring out how to travel to a parallel dimension or alternate universe where I can be a writer, because a writer is what I am.

I’ve been a writer of different sorts all my life: from winning a first place award for a short story when I was fourteen to 30+ years of writing, playing, recording, and performing my songs as a professional musician, including the release of four CDs.

We can no more change the nature of what we are than we can fly through the sun and come out the other side alive and intact.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Bugs Bunny, Tom Sawyer, Sherlock Holmes, Jilly Coppercorn from The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint, and Audrey Parker from the show Haven (rowr!). But I’d be fine if the others couldn’t attend for some reason or another as long as that wascally wabbit was there.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

My new paranormal thriller DREAMWEAVERS was published on August 4, 2015 by Juju Mojo Publications. Paperback and e-book editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Amazon link:

Both editions on Goodreads

My short story From Darkness We Come was published in the popular anthology series AT HELL’S GATES 3: BOUND BY BLOOD on July 31, 2015. It’s an honor to be in such good company with so many talented authors and colleagues, but it’s especially an honor and a privilege to be published in this anthology because 100% of proceeds goes to The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a charity that provides financial support for the dependents of United States military personnel lost in performance of their duties. God bless our troops!

Amazon link At Hell’s Gates 3

Come join me and award-winning online party hostess Leslie Whitaker at Facebook online for the DREAMWEAVERS Book Release Party on Sunday August 9, 2015 from 3 to 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (2–5 p.m. CST, 1–4 p.m. MST, 12 noon–3 p.m. PST). Lots of fun contests with prizes awarded! Six Amazon Gift Cards and several different e-books will be won by someone… maybe you. Plus plenty of other wacky fun and overall general madness. Best of all, you can attend the party online and win prizes in the comfort of your own living room or wherever you take your laptop or tablet.

Facebook Party Link

For more information on all my novel and short story publications—along with lots more great links including my blog and various awards and rave reviews—please visit my author’s website Kerry Alan Denney is The Reality Bender at http://www.kerrydenney.com.

Places to find Kerry & his works

Post-apocalyptic sci-fi/ horror thriller JAGANNATH (#1 bestseller!) on Amazon

Paranormal thriller SOULSNATCHER on Amazon

2nd Place Winner – 2014 Book of the Year: The Drunken Druid’s International Book Award

Kerry Alan Denney aka The Reality Bender author/ fan page on Facebook

Kerry’s Amazon Author Page

Kerry’s Goodreads Author Page

Follow Kerry on Twitter

Send Kerry a friend request on Facebook

GIVEAWAY!!!

Kerry Denney is generously giving away 1 ebook each of Jagannath, Soulsnatcher, and Dreamweavers. Each is a stand alone novel, so we will have 3 winners. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONAL! Ends September 3, 2015 midnight. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) If you were sent on a magical quest, which fantasy authors would you take with you?; 2) Leave a way to contact you should you win (email preferred); 3) Do you have a preference which book you win?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Doctor Mars by T. A. Uner

UnerDoctorMarsWhere I Got It: Won a copy

Narrator: Elizabeth Phillips

Publisher: T. A. Uner (2015)

Length: 1 hour 8 minutes

Series: Book 1 Mindcop Dossiers

Author’s Page

Set in 2137, Mars Colony, Liberty Rise is a member of the local police force, and a mutant with psychic abilities. She can read the recent memories of folks and any other organic material if she puts her mind to it. Her partner, Detective Muir, is one of the very few humans on Mars who smokes and Liberty finds the habit disgusting. Doctor Mars is the mysterious evil mastermind behind some recent scientific experiments that left a few dead. Slow Fly, an excellent fighter, is his greatest achievement to date.

For a novella, there is plenty going on here. This book is part scifi detective and part Mars Colony super hero story. There’s several interesting characters and that coupled with the murder mystery made this book a winner for me. Liberty Rise is our main protagonist. She’s been on the force for some years and lived through the change in politics and law towards mutants. However, there is still some cultural stigmas against them. Out of the two of them (Muir and her), she is the one in charge and calling the shots. Muir seems quite OK with that in his laid back way. He’s a little bit of a slob and a smoker, but I think he acts that way sometimes to shock people.

Meanwhile, we have a few interesting bad guys. Doctor Mars (who has a real name but if I tell you what it is then we enter spoiler territory) is driven in his work, even if much of what he does is distasteful. Slow Fly is the really interesting side character. He’s a dedicated fighter, but I am not sure what he is dedicated to. This makes him mysterious. Later in the story we learn a touch more about him and it becomes apparent that he is a tortured soul. Now this makes him very interesting because he becomes a bit unpredictable.

The murder mystery was fun. Mostly, Liberty and Muir solve it through her special talents and the usual digging up info and cross-checking the facts. The pacing was good with a nice mix of sleuthing, action, and a touch of humor. I’m hooked on this series and look forward to Book 2 in audio.

I won a copy of this book from the author.

The Narration: Elizabeth Phillips was a good fit for Liberty Rise. She had that no-nonsense good cop voice. I also enjoyed her sloppy Detective Muir voice. Phillips did a good job imbuing emotion into the dialogue when required.

What I Liked: Fun story all around; scifi detective meets super hero story; nice cover art; good narration; Detective Muir and his smoking; cool psychic abilities; left me wanting to dive into Book 2.

What I Disliked: Nothing – really enjoyed this novella.

What Others Think:

My Student Style

Seikaiha’s Blah-Blah-Blah

SnoopyDoo’s Book Reviews

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Alex Hurst, Author of D. N. A.

HurstD.N.A.1Everyone, please welcome Alex Hurst, author of D. N. A.: Alta, a most entertaining illustrated novella. WE chat about comics, TV series, artist influences, and plenty more! Also, there is a sweet giveaway – check out the last question in the interview for that.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Oh, definitely a superhero. The idea that there could definitely be the promise of super powers in the human race is an amazing concept for me. While aliens would be interesting, I’ve always considered them an inevitability (just look at how big this universe is!) and the likelihood that I would be able to communicate with my savior would be quite slim… same goes for any mythical creature. But a superhero would be like me, like you, like all of us –– just with something a little extra.

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

If I could interview any dead author, it would be Edgar Allan Poe. A couple of years ago, I took it on myself to read everything he’d ever penned: short stories, poems, essays, and his one and only novel. I had so many questions by the end. He seemed to have a wicked sense of humor (he had a habit of writing fake news stories that ended up on the first pages of respectable papers) and a really interesting philosophy about art and life. I feel like being able to interview him would make for some fascinating reading, and I’d really be curious to know how he would feel about his cult icon status in the world these days.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I’d love to experience the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes TV series with Jeremy Brett. While I’m also a fan of Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, Brett’s will always be my favorite. I’ve watched the episodes so many times that I can’t get the same thrill from them that I used to. I’m hoping if I wait to watch the series again for another ten years, it really will feel like experiencing them again for the first time! I suppose a close second would be A&E’s Horatio Hornblower adaption.

HurstHeroes&VillainsOver the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

This question is a little harder for me to answer, as my benchmark only begins with the 80s comics of Marvel and DC, but I would say so. The prevalence of superhero films and TV dramas has brought the world of comics into grit (especially with DC, as seen with the Arrow and Dark Knight series), which we see most obviously in cinematic adaptations. Heroes are getting darker, more antihero than hero, and villains are getting dirtier and scarier. The Joker from the 80s is not the Joker of 2015’s Suicide Squad movie trailer.

While in some cases, I have liked the industry’s tilt into further character development and psychological meanderings, I’m still undecided as to whether those things automatically need to be explored via gratuitous violence. The range of human emotions is broad, and I do not think they are being explored to their full potential on either side of the equation.

More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?

I would love if D.N.A. were to get adapted into a fully-illustrated comic or graphic novel, and of course the nature of Alta’s universe, I think, would make for some excellent animation of film adaptations. But for now, the important thing for me is to deliver the strongest story I can for readers, one that uses the superhero world as a foil to explore the weaker parts of the human and cultural psyche.

As for the publishing industry, I think it will always find a way to adapt. As the technology becomes more available and more stable, I think we will see more stories making the multimedia jump from one platform to several. With books, we saw this with audiobooks and then ebooks, which are now industry norms, but I imagine it will continue with the development of illustrated editions to full-on graphic novels, animated features, and so on. Motion Books (a 3D comic platform) will likely continue to gain steam, as well, as soon as their technology becomes available on more than one platform.

HurstDarklyNeverAfterWho are your non-writer influences?

Artists and musicians. My favorite artist to contemplate a story to is Lightwave, a new age, lyricless artist. I often pop in their song Uraniborg when I’m trying to work my way through a scene. I have a lot of artistic influences, as well, including Frida Kahlo, Jim Lee, Helena Nelson Reed, and Alphonse Mucha. I was so happy when my artist, Kevin Nichols, agreed to take on the D.N.A. project because it meant a marriage between my two favorite art styles: Golden Age and comics.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in super hero/ super villain literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

I’m more of a Marvel fan, so my list might be a bit biased, but there are a few comic arches that would have to be required reading for character study:

  1. Magneto, the independent comic series by Marvel currently exploring the psychology of one of their more fascinating hero-turned-villain-turned-hero characters.
  2. Batman: The Killing Joke and Batman: Year One, because as a hero, Batman straddles the line between the limits of a normal human going “super,” and all of the trials those limitations place on him.
  3. X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga, because it is one of the most important arcs for the characters of that universe, and it was also written at the height of X-Men’s popularity before the movies.
  4. X-Men: Mutant Massacre, because this is the critical arc for my favorite X-Men character, Gambit (yes, I told you this was going to be biased!). The arc deals with the ramifications of a mutant-led mutant massacre, and Gambit’s struggles to define himself as hero or pawn to villainy.

I admit, my comic reading has not been as extensive as it used to be –– I poured over my brothers’ collections as I never had the money to purchase my own, but in recent years I have started reading in the genre again, and I am finding myself really in love with Storm’s standalone comics, as well as Dr. Mirage and She-Hulk. There are so many comics to read and explore I’m having a hard time catching up!

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I would like your readers to know I am more than happy to give away 3 copies of D.N.A. Tell me in the comments what you would do if you could adopt the genetic code of any animal to fight crime (or perpetrate it!) and I’ll pick my favorites to send a book to. Giveaway ends August 31st, 2015 midnight.

HurstD.N.A.1D. N. A. #1 book blurb:

D.N.A. is an illustrated, serial novel written by Alex Hurst. The story chronicles the adventures of Alta Williams, a woman of a future where genetics dictate quality of life and scientific discovery advances at an inconceivable rate. Alta is known to the media as the Human Doll, the first successful case of a full nanoCell organ transplant.

Alta appreciates the technology around her: without it, a chemical fire would have killed her in her early twenties. Though the fire destroyed her extracellular matrix, scientists from the medical behemoth nanoTech were able to replace her ruined skin with their patented nanoCell material, giving her a second lease on life.

However, with nanotechnology now advanced enough to alter the human genome, and a company determined to capitalize – and control – the endeavor, it is up to Alta to expose their plans.

And she’s not alone.

Helping her every step of the way is D.N.A., the Digital Nanocell Accelerator, a self-learning computer program charged with telling synthetic cells which tissue they should build. D.N.A. fuses with Alta’s fully-synthetic skin and convinces her to fight against those who would otherwise oppress society as she knows it.

Of course, it helps that D.N.A. can change the genetic makeup of Alta’s skin at will, gifting her with the characteristics of any living recorded in the Genome Project. With the world’s genetic code at her whim, Alta has the power to overcome anything…

…but at what cost to her humanity?

**Please note that this is a novella with illustrations, not a comic or full-length novel**

About Alex Hurst:

Alex Hurst writes primarily character-driven fantasy, in such sub-genres as urban, Gothic, uncanny, and regional fantasy. Sometimes, she dapples in science fiction, horror, and LGBT literature.

She was raised in the wilds of the south. Lightning storms and hurricanes created the playpens of her youth, and in the summers, she used to spend all of her time dodging horseflies in a golden river, catching fish and snakes with her bare hands, swinging from vines, and falling out of magnolia trees.

In the dawn of her adolescence, her family took her on a journey across the United States, from the white sands of Pensacola, FL, to the razor’s edge of the Hell’s Backbone in Utah. They finally landed in Marin, CA, where lotus eaters tried to make city folk out of them (but miserably failed.) She currently lives in Kyoto, Japan, working as a writer and dream-smith.

She also freelances as an editor for the Writers’ Anarchy anthology series, designs book interiors at Country Mouse Design, and admins on the Fiction Writers community on Facebook, assisting emerging writers.

Places to Stalk Alex Hurst

D. N. A. website

Hurst’s Blog

Facebook

Twitter

 

D. N. A.: Alta by Alex Hurst

HurstD.N.A.1Where I Got It: Review copy

Illustrator: Kevin Nichols

Publisher: Bookmark Comics (2015)

Length: 24 pages

Series: Book 1 D. N. A.

Author’s Page

Alta Williams suffered through a chemical accident in her early 20s that left her in a very sad state. Her skin was ruined. But nanoTech corporation stepped in and offered her a then-experimental replacement of her skin using their new nanoCell tech. Later, she developed a lung cancer due to the accident, and again, nanoTech stepped in offering her an experimental lung replacement. But now she is positive that nanoTech is up to no good. She just needs the proof.

Helping her is a self-learning A.I. program that needed a friendly host – and Alta’s skin was the perfect residence for this program, the Digital nanoCell Accelerator (D. N. A.). We readers enter the story where the two are still getting to know each other. Alta is both amazed and a little frightened at D. N. A.’s ability to temporarily alter her skin and even her DNA to her immediate benefit – hardened skin, claws, heightened hearing, etc. Together, they pry into nanoTech’s secrets.

This was a fun read, being a mix of the superhero and science fiction genres. I enjoyed the underdog versus the mega corporation theme. The pacing moved us along at a swift pace. There was never a dull moment. Alta herself was feeling the pace of things too and you could tell she needed a hot, luxuriant bath and a lengthy nap once it was all done. There’s some fun tech, though most of it deals with the AI character D. N. A. The science part doesn’t ever go very deep so you can focus on the plot and action. As a biologist, I wanted a bit more. Altering DNA is not easy, especially quickly and temporarily. There was one scene where Alta needed very hard skin so D. N. A. went for a soft-bodied mollusk. Now these particular mollusks do have a very hard shell that is created over time, but that shell is not part of their body. So, I scratched my head a little at that one. Still, suspending my biology-based disbelief, it was a fun tale with many possibilities open to the duo.

Alta’s character is still in the ‘let’s get to know one another’ stage even by the end of this story. I would have liked to know her a little better by the end. I felt that I knew D. N. A. better than Alta simply because of the joking between the two. However, with that said, I enjoyed this read enough to want to dig up Book 2 once it becomes available and spend more time with these characters.

The story does spend some time doing a little world-building. It’s the future and the Earth has become heavily polluted. There are those who are not genetically tolerant of all this pollution. Some few humans have the right genes to be legally sanctioned for reproduction but many are not allowed such a privilege. It is an interesting world with an intriguing mix of the dark, polluted world and shiny new tech that may save us all.

I am very pleased to say that we have a non-Caucasian female as the lead character in a superhero book. Hooray! It is excellent to see some diversity in this story, and it doesn’t end with Alta’s character. I rub my hands together in anticipation of what the author will include in subsequent books. There’s plenty of world left for Alta and D. N. A. to explore.

Illustration:  Kevin Nichols made some beautiful illustrations for this novella. Most of those illustrations focus on Alta. She’s a lovely woman who looks like a real woman with real muscles and facial features. I really liked that she wasn’t heavily made up in make up or had distended limbs and unbelievable cleavage. Then we had some illustrations of the modifications D. N. A. made to Alta and those were quite fun to see. Fur, fins, etc. At the end of the book, we had some bonus info about the author, but then several bonus illustrations and sketches from the illustrator. It was very cool to add those in and I spent quite some time enjoying them. The mix of the dark background (giving the tale an almost noir detective feel) and the science fiction components built into Alta’s skin was a captivating combination.

I received this book from the author at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

What I Liked:  Female non-White superhero main character!; the cover art; the magnificent illustrations; underdog versus the big tech company; fun AI side kick; plenty of bio modifications; diversity in side characters; fun start to the world-building; looking forward to more!

What I Disliked:  As a biologist, I sometimes scratched my head at the bio modifications; I wanted to know Alta a bit more by the end.

Kushiel’s Chosen Part I

Tofu kitty with a very good book.

Tofu kitty with a very good book.

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (of which Kushiel’s Chosen is Book 2) is one of my all time favorite series. The red along continues! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Nancy from FaeStruck’s Reviews and More is our host. We’re covering Chapters 1-14, so be prepared for spoilers below!

1. The book opens with Phédre and her household happy and content at Montrève. Phédre is faced with the question of returning to the Service of Naamah. The sangoire cloak is the what pushes her decision. Do you agree with her choice? Do you believe that Phédre would have returned to her calling eventually, regardless of the cloak?

I think Phedre would have returned to Naamah’s service eventually. Joscelin is obviously a fun lay, but I don’t think he can provide that spice, that bite, that… ahem… cutting that Phedre deeply desires. He’s physically repelled just by the thought of doing such things. So, yeah, eventually I think Kushiel’s dart would have pricked to constantly for her to ignore.

But the sangoire cloak holds the promise of something more. In chasing after Melisande, Phedre is serving not only Naamah, but also Kushiel (whose providence is justice) and the kingdom. There’s all sorts of ways to justify her decision with Melisande in the picture. And, quite frankly, I think that if Melisand can patiently lay her plans to mastermind a Skaldi invasion, then she may very well still be a threat to Ysandre and her reign.

2. With Phédre returning to the Service of Naamah, Joscelin is also forced to make his choice as well. Who do you think had the harder decision to make and why?

I think it was harder for Joscelin. While Phedre is unlikely to love anyone as she does Joscelin, she will love others. It’s in her nature and is one of her greatest strengths. But for Joscelin, he is a single love for eternity kind of guy. Now, he is essentially being asked to share Phedre with others. Plus he has over a decade of Casseline discipline and thinking telling him that Phedre’s behaviors are sinful, etc. It’s a lot for him to push through.

3. Phédre’s return to court unveils how Queen Ysandre is faring in the absence of her husband Drustan. Politically, should she take a lover while he is away?

That’s a tough question. So far, we don’t know what agreements concerning lovers, if any, Ysandre & Drustan have. I can’t see her taking a lover without having chatted with Drustan first, and vice versa. Plus, Ysandre hasn’t born an heir yet. We already know from Book 1 how important the lineage is for Alba, so I am guessing that Drustan and Ysandre want at least 1 heir (fuck the politics!) before Ysandre takes a lover or three.

4. Favrielle nó Eglantine designs Phédre’s Midwinter costume. How do you feel about the way in which Phédre repays her?

It was pretty abrupt, from Favrielle’s point of view. I am sure it was simmering in the back of Phedre’s head for some time. Favrielle is very talented, if rather a sour puss, but looking into years and years of indentured servitude because of a small scar would make anyone sour, I am sure. The Dowayne had that little remark about how Favrielle wasn’t allowed to bear Eglantine’s marque because she didn’t rightly earn it in the service of Naamah. It seemed a little harsh in the moment, even if it was correct according to guild law.

5. Joscelin is spending quite a bit of time with the Yeshuites. Is it the pain of Phédre returning to Service that prompts this or would the Cassiline’s faith, pushed so far already, have led him there if Joscelin and Phédre were simply looking for the answer to breaking the geas on Hyacinthe?

Very good question! Joscelin makes a telling remark about how the Yeshuites believe any mortal is capable of redemption through the faith, even Joscelin with all his broken Casseline vows. He says the Yeshuites are the first to tell him that. I think this is the one feature of Joscelin I have never really cared for, and yet it reflects a good chunk of humanity. He needs something outside of himself, something greater (or that he perceives as greater) to tell him he is doing the right thing, to serve, to set his moral compass by. He’s trained to serve in this manner and not to take these decisions (of greater right and wrong) upon himself.

So, with Joscelin searching and Phedre and Joscelin already looking at the Yeshuite faith for answers concerning Hyacinthe’s geas, I think it was inevitable that Joscelin would have to face this cross road.

Other Tidbts:

Phedre’s costume of Mara is so elegant, so simple, and yet to engaging that it really is brilliant. Plus her evening with Fortune keeping her safe from herself was a delight to read.

Marmion & Persia! More Sharhizai to confound and distract Phedre!

Last book, we talked a little about Phedre’s conceit that D’Angelines are so beautiful, etc. With Favrielle, I think we really start to see how Phedre reconsiders certain aspects of D’Angeline society.

Phedre’s boys – gambling and dicing and spying! It’s all very exciting for them. Still, I worry.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Nancy at FaeStruck’s Reviews & More
James at James T. Witherspoon
Emily at Emma Wolf
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with KUSHIEL’S CHOSEN in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Island of Fog by Keith Robinson

RobinsonIslandOfFogWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Fred Wolinsky

Publisher: Keith Robinson (2015)

Length: 9 hours 37 minutes

Series: Book 1 Island of Fog

Author’s Page

Set in a future post-apocalyptic world, 8 families live in quiet solitude on a foggy island, safe from whatever wrecked humanity. The kids are all 12 years old or close to it. While they have each been long curious about the mainland, they also knew there was no way to go exploring. Yet now things are happening to them and secrets long kept are becoming clear. The kids are changing but they don’t know why, or what they will become, or how their parents will react.

These 8 kids, Hal, Robbie, Abigail, Darcy, Dewey, Emily, Fenton, and Lauren, have grown up on this island with their parents, some hogs, cows, a dog, & a cat. There’s no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and no majestic views. The island is perpetually foggy. The kids have never seen a clear night with twinkling stars. The author does a pretty good job setting the stage and giving the reader the feel of the place. The foggy island has shaped these kids as much as their schooling or their parents’ house rules. I really liked the foggy atmosphere because it gave the whole book a mysterious quality.

The families have worked out a communal way to live on the island. One woman is the school teacher, another one the doctor, and yet another bakes weekly bread for all the households. Most of the men work the communal farm. I was surprised that the kids never had farm chores. In fact, they seem to have very few responsibilities other than homework and keeping their rooms clean. I would have liked to see the kids a little more involved in the day to day chores as such a little community probably couldn’t let the kids off to play so often. But that is a tiny quibble compared to how much enjoyment I got out of this book.

So these kids are in for an adventure and things start off a bit slowly. We learn about them, the island, and a few hints as to why they are on the island. Then things pick up with Abigail, who is the first to change and she shares this info with a chosen few. Each kid has a different reaction to these changes and I really liked this aspect. After all, they are all different people.

Meanwhile, there are these sad little remembrances of a family that lost their son many years ago and the couple left the island. Well, Hal & Robbie went adventuring on the island and they ran into something completely unexpected. It was Thomas, the long lost boy, but he’s a manticore. I have no qualms telling you this since he is on the cover art. Thomas is not a well-adjusted kid and doesn’t play well with others, so Hal & Robbie have to flee. To me, Thomas is a rather interesting side character and we learn more about him later in the book. He changed years earlier than the other kids and has been managing on his own for years in the depths of the woods.

Once the adults become aware that at least one of the kids is changing, a specialist, Miss Simone, is called in. This is the first person from off the island the kids have met. They obviously have lots of questions. Yet Simone is evasive and prying at the same time. The kids don’t trust her. They take it upon themselves to do some actions that inadvertently endanger some of the islands inhabitants.

The story lagged in places for me. I felt certain arguments were repeated and repeated.  Also, I felt the kids were rather slow to get to the boiling point. After all, their parents kept the biggest secret of their young lives from them, plus all the secrecy about the world off the island. Then this stranger, Miss Simone, comes and wants them to divulge all their secrets and she wants to irrevocably change their lives, all without telling them anything. So I kept waiting for one of the kids to explode in anger, or at least, in indignation. It was really slow in coming and then was a pretty mild rebuke. That aspect watered down the kids’ characters for me.

The last quarter of the book had the most action and was the most well written. Things are moving along and the kids’ personalities are well-fleshed out. Also, we see more of the adults who were largely these shadowy characters in the background up to this point. Plus Miss Simone gets some depth to her mysterious character. It was a pretty good read and I want to know what happens next to these kids.

I received this book free of charge from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: I have listened to several books narrated by Fred Wolinsky and this may be the best performance yet. Each kid was distinct and sounded like a kid. He also had really good female voices, which I appreciated as I haven’t always liked his female voices. As always, he is great at imbuing the characters with emotions and by the end of the book, there were plenty of emotions to be had! 

What I Liked: The cover art; foggy isolated island; communal living; the many, many mysteries; how the kids all react differently to the changes; the mysterious Miss Simone; the last quarter of the book.

What I Disliked: The story lagged in a few places for me; why didn’t the kids have more chores?; and why weren’t the kids more ticked about all the secrecy?

What Others Think:

J. Barron Owens

Teen Ink

Torch Under the Blanket Books

Wayfaring Artist