Category Archives: Sci-Fi

The Storm Bringer by Ken Lange

The adventure continues and the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place.

Title: Rise of the Storm Bringer
Author: Ken Lange
Series: Warden Global #2
Publish Date: April 4, 2017
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Reviewer purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionFor most people, a visit from their former in-laws is unpleasant at most. If only I were that lucky.

Mine have unexpectedly dropped by, leaving a couple of bodies in little bits and a message in blood as their way of saying hi.

Which is just great. Now I can add one more group to the growing list of nut-bags who want to tuck me in for a dirt nap. Simply put, if the in-laws don’t get me, a dead woman, the Loki, or any one of a legion of mythological beasties just might.

To top it off, I’ve learned that there’s a cosmic war that’s been raging since the dawn of creation, and somehow, I’ve found myself at the very center of it all. I know it’s gonna be a hell of a day when death might be the least of my problems.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words…spoilers.  *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

The only thing that matters is to do the best you can in the moment and realize that no one has all the answers.

This science fiction/urban fantasy/action adventure story takes place in NoLA,  There is death and dismemberment and often blood, gore and goo. The protagonist often gets the crap beaten out of him AND he’s almost (I said ALMOST) as clueless about what is happening to him than us readers.  Viktor is a smart ass and that’s what draws me to a good character.  The story is written like he’s telling the story to you personally. He’s got depth to him that comes from a lot of experience tending to the things that most don’t care to deal with.  Anyway, the story does have twists and turns that end up leading down a dark alley not knowing if a monster will pop out or not.  Usually does, though.  Just warnin’ ya.

There is a lot of name dropping in this book.  Brush up on your Greek and Norse mythology because it will help with the characters and where they fit into the whole scheme of things.  Actually, scratch that. You really don’t have to know the mythology, just know the individuals are important and it’ll be fine.  I happen to like to track down the mythology because I think knowing where they all came from makes the reading more fun.

There are several characters that are mentioned from book 1 as well as a couple from Accession of the Stone Born – another series from the same author.  In my opinion, the mention of other characters made my reading more like a family reunion.  I didn’t actually get to see the characters, but the mentioning made it fun for me.

It’s important, I think, to mention that it would be a good idea to start with the first book in the series, The Wanderer Awakens, because this is a series that would be hard to follow if it wasn’t started from page 1.

If you like a white hat that doesn’t really look at himself that way, with a team of good people that look out for the unknowing humans and supernatural, mythological and ancient people thrown in as well as a science fiction basis, this is a good series to begin.  Normally, I’m not one for science fiction, but I liked it.  It’s a challenging read.  It kept my brain engaged and every page there was a scene that would suck me in as quickly as the one the page before did.

Someone once said that this author makes writing look easy.  I really do believe it.  It’s complicated, but yet simple in the end.  It’s worth the time and energy.  I rate it a 5.

Our reviews in this series…

 

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Sleipnir’s Heart by Ken Lange

Take a trip through Romania in search of the thing that will help his friend survive and come face to face his own savior from years ago.

If you’re looking for a copy of this short story you can pick it up here… https://instafreebie.com/free/on8nP?s…

Title: Sleipnir’s Heart
Author: Ken Lange
SeriesWarden Global
Publish Date: March 18, 2017
Genre: Science Fiction/Action Adventure
Source: Free download instafreebie.com

Publisher’s Description: When I crashed on this planet fifteen thousand years ago, I thought that my friend—the living spaceship Sleipnir—was destroyed. But it turns out the mysterious signal I’ve been receiving for the past nine years is his cry for help. It’s led me back to Romania, back to the mountain I almost died on, and—just maybe—back to the legendary being who once saved my life.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words…spoilers.  *BEWARE*


 

Nervous Nellie says…

This is a mind bending series.  I’m just gonna start with that.  Next, I’m gonna tell you to scope out the author’s web page.  It will clue you in to what started this whole adventure of the Stone Born.  Normally, I really don’t mention much about the web sites, but this one is rather cool.   Anyway, back to the series.  It’s got time travel, a spaceship, supernatural creatures, ancient beings and mythological connections-pretty much something for everyone.  That’s the series, though.  The short story is a short adventure to retrieve something very important and is only a tiny blip in the whole big picture.

This short comes between book 1 and book 2, but please, for goodness sake, DON’T start the short first!  This is not one of those series that you can just hop in the middle and think it’ll be ok.  It’s a twisted tale with a puzzle beneath the surface as well as one wrapped around the outside.  It’s reading time well worth spent, that’s for sure.

Like I said, it takes place right after the ending of The Wanderer Awakens.  It sheds a little more light on the living spaceship that is bonded to Viktor.  The story explains what Viktor is looking to retrieve to hopefully help Sleipnir mend.  It’s a well written quickie that will leave you wanting to quickly move on to The Storm Bringer, which, trust me, is something you’ll want to do.

 

Our reviews in this series…

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Saturday Short: Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown

Welcome to Saturday Shorts, in which we review shorter works such as short stories, novellas, middle-grade books, and graphic novels. Both kids and adults will love today’s illustrated book that’s got a twist on the most famous science fiction movie series: Star Wars.

darth-vader-and-sonTitleDarth Vader and Son
AuthorJeffrey Brown
SeriesStar Wars: Darth Vader and Kids
Publish Date: Jan 1, 2012
Genre: Humor
Source: Purchased/Received as gift

Publisher’s DescriptionWhat if Darth Vader took an active role in raising his son? What if “Luke, I am your father” was just a stern admonishment from an annoyed dad? In this hilarious and sweet comic reimagining, Darth Vader is a dad like any other except with all the baggage of being the Dark Lord of the Sith.

Celebrated artist Jeffrey Brown’s delightful illustrations give classic Star Wars moments a fresh twist, presenting the trials and joys of parenting through the lens of a galaxy far, far away. Life lessons include lightsaber batting practice, using the Force to raid the cookie jar, Take Your Child to Work Day on the Death Star (“Er, he looks just like you, Lord Vader!”), and the special bond shared between any father and son.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

Though I’m not a crazy fan about Star Wars (shock and awe, I know, but p.s. it’s not that I dislike it, I’m just not a super fan!) I adored this book. It takes a cute spin on what it’s like to be a parent by giving common dad vs kid moments a Star Wars theme. Like for example, “are we there yet?” and “where do babies come from?”

badge4v5Each page is full of sweet illustrations that will appeal to both the child reader and the adult one. Cheers Star Wars parents, this book is for you!

Rating: four stars.

Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

This is a fun book! It takes many of the iconic scenes from the six movies and asks, what would have happened if Luke was a kid being raised by Darth Vader? For Star Wars fans, there are then fun scenes using the Catina, sarlacc, Cloud City, and many others. For parents, it’s a look at how kids can ask the really tough questions without realizing it. Or how they don’t understand your job and just want to spend time with you.

badge4v5All in all very humorous and a quick little read.

Four stars.

Future Threat by Elizabeth Briggs

The adventure continues, reluctantly, for Elena and Adam as they go back to the future—several futures, in fact—to save their friends and themselves.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

future-threatTitleFuture Threat
Author: Elizabeth Briggs
SeriesFuture Shock, Book 02
Publish Date: March 1, 2017 by Albert Whitman & Co.
Genre: YA Sci-Fi (time travel suspense)
Narrator: Erin Spencer
Cover: Paul Stinson
SourceNetGalley

Publisher’s DescriptionSix months ago Aether Corporation sent Elena, Adam, and three other recruits on a trip to the future where they brought back secret information–but not everyone made it back to the present alive. Now Elena’s dealing with her survivor’s guilt and trying to make her relationship with Adam work. All she knows for sure is that she’s done with time travel and Aether Corporation.

But Aether’s not done with her–or Adam, or fellow survivor Chris. The travelers on Aether’s latest mission to the future have gone missing, and Elena and her friends are drafted into the rescue effort. They arrive in a future that’s amazingly advanced, thanks to Aether Corporation’s reverse-engineered technology. The mission has deadly consequences, though, and they return to the future to try to alter the course of events.

But the future is different yet again. Now every trip through time reveals new complications, and more lives lost–or never born. Elena and Adam must risk everything–including their relationship–to save their friends.

The second book in the New York Times bestselling Future Shock trilogy.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

Future Threat is intense, and I love it. More than any other time travel I’ve read, Future Threat demonstrates the potential danger of both knowing your future and changing the future. It gave me quite a lot to think about.

Elena, Adam, and Chris—collectively called Team Delta—get pulled back to Aether’s time-travel scheme to save the latest team to go rogue, Team Echo. While there, they try to save the life of one of the Echo team members and end up losing one of their own. So they go back again, and again, to try and fix the past. Each time they go back, the future is different. The effects of the team’s actions create a worse and worse future each time they visit. Adam and Elana have to figure out why the future is getting worse and fix it before all is lost.

Adam and Elana go to the same future several times. So two or three of them are in the future at the same time. Oddly enough, though I’m not a math person, I kept thinking about the rules for parentheses in Excel formulas as I read this book. Weird, right? But Adam and Elana go back to the future three times. Each time, their trip is shorter. It’s like they have to go and return before the last time they went and returned, like nesting parenthesis. I don’t know if that’s true, but the thought kept popping into my head. 😉

In the one future where Chris, Elena, and Adam are happy and successful, Future-Elena is terrified that Now-Elena is going to mess things up. I can understand that. When you’re happy, you don’t want anything to change.  But at the same time, someone somewhere is NOT happy. If they change things to suit themselves, how will that change your future? This is one of the questions posed in Future Threat.

Another is how knowledge of the future would affect the decisions you made to get there. So, if you knew you were already destined to be an awesome piano player, for example, would you be compelled to practice as much? And if you didn’t practice as much, would that future come about? Not new questions in time travel fiction, but certainly good ones.

I was chatting with Kat recently about what made this a young adult book rather than a straight sci-fi book. Ah, the nature of genres, right? 15 years ago, this same book would have been listed as sci-fi, no question. The protagonists being college freshman age wouldn’t have made a difference. Today, however, YA as a category is popular and lucrative, especially in print as opposed to ebook form; so, it makes sense to market this as YA now. Honestly, I think that is the only difference I can think of. What do you think, readers? Chime in and tell me what sets a YA apart from adult novels, and specifically this one, if you’ve read it.

badge5v5I haven’t listened to this book yet, but I know Erin Spencer did an awesome job as always. I’ll be downloading it and listening soon. This book is just as awesome as the first, so another five stars!

Oh, and although Future Threat really felt like the end of the series, I see there is another one due out in 2018. Its title, Future Lost, make me really apprehensive!!! I want Chris and Elena to have their happy ending.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Check out these books for some more time travel romance or suspense: A Girl In Time by John Birmingham, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, and Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs

Regular readers will be shocked to hear this, but I read a YA and I liked it. Yeah, I know, hard to believe. But this time-travel suspense is well done and there are no whiny high-schoolers to be seen. Yay!

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Future ShockTitleFuture Shock
AuthorElizabeth Briggs
SeriesFuture Shock, Book 01
Publish Date: April 5, 2016, Albert Whitman & Co
Genre: YA Sci-Fi (time travel suspense)
Cover: Paul Stinson
Narrator: Erin Spencer
Source: ARC from publisher/purchased audio

Publisher’s DescriptionElena Martinez has hidden her eidetic memory all her life—or so she thinks. When powerful tech giant Aether Corporation selects her for a top-secret project, she can’t say no. All she has to do is participate in a trip to the future to bring back data, and she’ll be set for life. Elena joins a team of four other teens with special skills, including Adam, a science prodigy with his own reason for being there.

But when the time travelers arrive thirty years in the future, something goes wrong, and they break the only rule they were given: do not look into their own fates. Now they have twenty-four hours to get back to the present and find a way to stop a seemingly inevitable future from unfolding. With time running out and deadly secrets uncovered, Elena must use her eidetic memory, street smarts, and a growing trust in Adam to save her new friends and herself.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

When I was at BEA last Spring, I saw a poster of the cover of Future Shock on one of the booth walls. Thinking it was a new urban fantasy (because … tattooed chick with a city backdrop … kind of indicative of the urban fantasy genre), I asked after the book. Turns out I was at the Albert Whitman & Co. booth. Albert Whitman is a publisher of children’s books. Yes, I was eyeballing a YA book! It felt kind of dirty, like I, at 40-something, was admiring the backside of a high-school boy. But I just couldn’t get over that cover. So, I brought the book home, but put off reading it for almost a year.

Much later, I heard from several people that the book was getting quite a lot of praise, the cover was still calling to me, and the sequel became available on NetGalley (with another awesome cover). So, I requested the sequel from NetGalley and put Future Shock on the review schedule.

I’ve been in a listening mood rather than a reading one, so I looked up the audiobook. The audio happens to be read by Erin Spencer, whose voice I know and love from the Halfway Witchy books by Terry Maggert. That made me happy.

I give YA a hard time on this blog, but what I really don’t like about some YA is whiny teenagers, stupid decisions, and raging hormones. That might be an accurate reflection of real life, but I don’t want to read about it. I also don’t want to read stories set in high school. I had enough of that horror when I was in high school. However, I have no problem with good stories that just happen to have young characters. I’d classify Future Shock as one of those.

I feel this is really a suspense story. It does involve time travel a short way into the future, which is integral to the mystery; so there is a slight sci-fi aspect to it.  It’s not hard sci-fi, by any means, but there is some fun speculation about what our world might look like in the near future, which I would guess isn’t too far off the mark. I’m rooting for the self-drive cars at the very least.

The kids in this story are seventeen or eighteen. All of them have had difficult lives, and so have both the pros and cons that come along with that. They are pretty self-sufficient, decent problem solvers, and capable of handling themselves. Their skills aren’t too exaggerated for their ages and situations, which is nice to see. There are some romantic feelings between two characters, but it isn’t the focus of the story, and the one intimate moment is handled very well, actually.  The kids seem to make appropriate decisions, have appropriate values and priorities, and behave appropriately for their situation. I wouldn’t have any qualms about allowing a young person to read this book.

I did have one question, though: where does a foster kid get the money for extensive tattoos? Those things are expensive. Cool, but expensive! Would Human Services have a problem with a foster parent giving a foster kid money for tattoos? Inquiring minds want to know.

The mystery and suspense is well done.  I was one step ahead of the characters at the first big reveal, but I didn’t have anything figured out after that. I was invested in the characters enough to feel nervous for them; I really wanted to see them succeed.

badge5v5I have to say I like this book. More than like, actually. I’m impressed, and I am looking forward to reviewing the next book, Future Threat, for next week.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Weregirl by C.D. Bell and Heartborn by Terry Maggert are two other YA books I’ve read that have good characters and good story without the whining. 🙂

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.