Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review::The Robinson's Dark Matter by Michael Raymond

The Robinson's Dark Matter by Michael Raymond

I really loved this story.

When I first started reading it I was thinking mostly Juvenile Science Fiction. The main characters are fairly young and still in school. Their parents are working parents and the children are left home alone a lot. They discover a strange door in the basement that leads to a room where gravity is shifted. Since Nate is your typical older and protective brother it devolves to Victoria to be the one who believes in conspiracy theories and aliens as in Roswell. So this room is Victoria's biggest vindication.

It is a bit troubling that it might point to them as being the aliens.
(This is the Robinson family and I couldn't get my mind off of references to Lost in Space.)
This book hooked me right from the start, no matter what I might have expected.

There's an element about the mysterious aliens that reminded me a bit of Buckaroo Banzi so when Nick ends up in a band it doesn't surprise me as much as it does him. There are also elements of Howard the Duck in here with portals or wormholes to other worlds with waiting armada's of space invaders. This makes sense when we work out that there are two, no maybe three, different alien groups working here.

Most interesting and perplexing though are the references to Indiana Jones and that franchise of films. It's like a running joke that can only be understood if you've seen all the films and it intimates a possibility of those in different generations who may perceive differently. Especially if someone missed that first movie. You'll just have to read it to understand.

When Nate and Victoria's parents are kidnapped by people infected by some alien mind control they have to delve into the secrets in their basement to help save their parents. They quickly learn they can trust no one, not even the military who have apparently come to the rescue.

With a little help from friends and a mysterious AI they slowly unravel the secret of their parents lives and their own. As they go they pool together their resources to break into a place their parents have been keeping secret from everyone. They don't realize that throughout it all they will be watched.

To say more will really spoil things but the most interesting part of the story is the building of the characters and the telling of the story so you can't go wrong with this one.

This has a well put together plot, with even pacing and some neat speculative science.

For all fans of SFF- Science Fiction Fantasy. Great start to a promising series.

J.L. Dobias

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review::The Trilisk Ruins(Parker Interstellar Travels #1) by Michael McCloskey

The Trilisk Ruins(Parker Interstellar Travels #1) by Michael McCloskey

Trilisk Ruins is a nice entertaining Science Fiction.

At first I thought I was headed into yet another so so spy action thriller disguised as a Science Fiction novel. It really seems that way through the first half. Even to the point where they were trapped in the cheesy alien building with the shifting walls I was still thinking this was only mildly interesting. What saves it all for me was when Kirizzo's part kicked in. The alien, though only one of three major characters in the story steals the whole thing.

Kirizzo is at war, stranded and under attack of the Bel Klaven he has vital tech from the ruins of the Trilisk. He must evade the Bel Klaven and get this tech to his people. In a last ditch effort he enters a strange circular portal of the Trilisk that is still operational.

The story then slips over to Telisa Relachik daughter of an infamous UNSF Captain, is applying for a job with Parker interstellar Travels in her capacity of a xeno-archaeologist in a universe where only the UNSF has legal need for those services. In other words these are smugglers and Jack and Thomas decide that Telisa will be a perfect addition to their team.

Along with Magnus, a trained fighter formerly of the UNSF, they all take off aboard the Iridar to a recent new find of Trilisk artifacts. This venture is illegal, but they have a good team and have covered all the bases. What they don't plan on is the danger of the artifacts themselves.

After finding a portal similar to the one Kirizzo disappeared into the story becomes interesting.

The smugglers, an agent of the UNSF, and the alien Kirizzo are all trapped in some strange alien trap set by Trilisk technology. They must work together to get out and that means that Telisa needs to find a way to communicate with Kirizzo. No one plans on the Seeker arriving with Telisa's estranged father aboard.

The plot definitely thickens as you go along in this story. There are familiar themes of abuse of power and the fragility of tentative alliances. Magnus at first has some distrust of Telisa because of who her father is. As it is there will be plenty of reasons to justify that. It would seem that although she has been afforded a lot of freedom, the daughter of an UNSF captain is actually on a shorter leash than she knows.

This has it all, a little romance, lots of adventure, smugglers versus the authorities and lots of alien artifacts. It may prove out though that the alien at war might shift the balance here and prove that everything else is just petty squabbling.

Great Science Fiction story telling for those who like a bit of adventure and romance. Of the three main characters Telisa, Magnus and Kirizzo none out shine the other, they make a nice balanced ensemble.

This tale reads somewhat formulaic but it makes a great stepping stone into a new series.

J.L. Dobias

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review::People Of The Tiger (The Rational Future Series) by Wayne Edward Clarke

People Of The Tiger (The Rational Future Series) by Wayne Edward Clarke

I enjoyed portions of this book, if not the whole.

I could give this book a five star if I could take sections out of it, but I don't really want to rewrite someones work.

This book is written well, despite the authors claim that he is presenting dialogue the way it should always be and that every other writer is in error. Well that's taking liberty with paraphrasing his words. His style of writing never really put me off despite its sometimes strangeness and his introductions sense of aloofness.

That much said we should address some simple issues.

This book contains erotica, and I have the modified version that might contain less. It's not chock full of erotica, but the erotica seems to puddle in places rather than being strung out. It's not particularly the best erotica I've seen, but perhaps that's because it's been altered because of complaints. On the other hand it is the closest to illegal that I've ever encountered. By illegal I mean that it contains the presence of children within the context and if this were to ever be made into a film it would violate some stringent rules.

To address this issue I'll give the author this much. The premise of the story is that we are in the future where Rationalists have dominated and created a new order. I'm of the impression this new order pervades the globe. In the story we seem to be in India-primarily. These rationalist are apparently not an outgrowth of Rationalism as much as they are perhaps a mix of Pot smoking free love hippies with aboriginal tenancies. Unlike most distopia novels these people seem to be an outgrowth of the former technological society that never lost the advances but have chosen to segment peoples into various classes all of whom have access to the technology but some who eschew it more than others. Hence, the various peoples with names of animals as their tribal designation. The green people, the naturalists have all gone back to nature.

The story begins with Tika and her mother Tira. It is Tika's sixth birthday and she moves from Infant to Training Child. It seems that Infants are brought up to whatever level they might endure in fighting and hunting arts but only become Training Child when they are ready to accept responsibility. Tika is not your average child nor are most of the children of the People of the Tiger. This is never made clear and it weakens much of premise for how the author treats them. My best guess is that at this age they are equal to someone who is roughly thirteen through seventeen in our society. That does not even cover the notion that Tika is genetically above the rest. This seems to be the reason the author wants to treat these children like young adults.

If they were all genetically engineered to be more mature then this would hold well in this story. Unfortunately another premise in this book states that they eschew genetic engineering and whatever was done to Tika is, in fact, considered illegal. These two notions create a moral conflict for at least this reader when the highly explicit sexual situations are brought into the story right into the face of these children. There is a play by play description and narration by an Elder while the scene itself plays out. Though the author attempts to keep it in an almost clinical sense, its this detached sense that is part of what destroys those scenes.(Too mechanical)

The author cleverly tries to tie the erotica into the whole book by way of explaining the rape that led to the birth of Tika, which is revealed in front of the children and then perhaps, trying to diffuse the emotional impact, by giving the children a contrast to the rape through other intimacy.(I'd say true intimacy but there's a problem here.)

There is no real intimacy involved in the erotic scenes,(well I wasn't feeling it) which is detrimental to the character development and the believability of the love part of the free love aspect. This all contrasts also to the gruesome nature of these people who will seem so intimate and yet in a similar clinical sense will do great bodily damage to each other in their fighting arena. (These people are the master of the disconnect.)

I loved the story of Tika and where she came from(the mystery) and the en-devour of her friends to find the answer to that question. For me the story and the conflict was the notion that until we know what happened to Tika's father we don't know what will happen to Tika. Tika is the strongest character draw in this novel she is the central character.

The first part of this novel does have some distracting philosophical notions.
but enough that over millions of years all people will become a little better because a few fools were killed by their own stupidity before they could breed.

Because we hunt for a living rather than for sport, we tend to make our work easier by hunting the weak and the slow, as other predators do, leaving the swift and the mighty to improve their breed.

and we also allow the tiny chance that the weak and the slow and the stupid among us will be hunted by predators.[/Quote]

Clarke, Wayne Edward (2012-02-02). People Of The Tiger - Metric Pro. Edition (The Rational Future Series) (Kindle Locations 259-260). Wayne Edward Clarke Publishing. Kindle Edition.
I don't particularly agree with these but it's primary to the novel that the characters do.

It espouses the back to nature part, but it fails to truly justify the running around naked in the forest full of dangers and predators. Most distopia novels at least try to pretend we lost some civilization and just don't know better.

The book spends a lot of time developing the tier system for honors for the people and basically coming up with the reason that they have to constantly challenge each other to duels.

I had a few troubles with the whole concept of going so backwards in time that they were challenging each other for their land, which technically didn't belong to anyone anyway. There is a portion where our hero and her family displace people for their own selfish purpose and that even leads to the death of a neighbor who eventually we try to justify by painting them in a pale light while they are supposedly expected to honor them.

There's a lot of emphasis on honor and it constantly runs contrary to the need to be truthful and the need to display pride publicly. The characters run through these like they might run through water and I can only think they need a therapist.

All this is building to the lengthy overdrawn out knife and claw and hand to hand fighting that goes with their Olympic like challenges. Again it would work better if these people were genetically altered to be better because no matter how close we bring the medical staff to the fight, these people do serious damage and should be killing each other.

If you like erotica and blow by blow fighting this is the book for you.

I enjoyed more the pursuit of Tika's past and the building of the potential for some sort of faster than light travel which will possibly help Tika in her search for the truth.

If you like Sci-Fi and Fantasy and don't mind delving into odd sociological restructuring and can convince yourself it's not child-porn you might be tempted to test drive this one to decide if you want to purchase the next in the series.

Despite some of my own misgivings in regards to what I felt were shortcomings, I found enough to enjoy with this that I read it completely.

I like a challenge and I don't mind leaving my comfort zone for a minute. So this has offered me some room for thought with People of the Tiger as I try to look at the way all these elements are woven together and decide how much seemed totally necessary to the story.

A person needs to read this to make a proper judgement and this would make a hot topic for someones reading group.

J.L. Dobias

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review::The Lost Girls by Jason Halstead

The Lost Girls by Jason Halstead

This is one of those tough books that you have to dig past a few things to get to the place where you decide you like it.

As with some others this one took me out of my comfort zone right from the start with what seems at a glance to be jumping right into the middle of a fight. Then it turns out to be a rape. Worse yet it turns out to be mutilation when the victim apparently has her fingers augmented with blades that make her into a sort of wild unpredictable Cuisinart stuck on slice and dice.

I might have set it aside at this point but Kat, the cop who's nearly raped, is an interesting enough character to draw me in. She's petite, but dangerous. She's had augments done to her and there's a story behind all that but it takes a while to wheedle it out of her.

She also calls herself a lesbian a dyke and gay at various stages. She has a massive distaste for men. But the interesting part about her personality is that she's every-mans dream and nightmare. She's strongly independent and in some ways throughout the narrative somewhat indistinguishable from a male except when describing her own body parts. She loves women and hates emotional involvement, or maybe is afraid of that kind of involvement.

Right from the get go she gets hurt and inflicts a lot of justice on her assailants. She's almost a rent-a-cop in this world which has some portal-ish connection to a world of magic which all sounds fantastic unfortunately it's only incidental to this novel. After getting patched up Kat will have to undergo some Psych time, which is how she meets Natalie who is married and straight yet hits on Kat.

Kat loves the attention and flirts a lot which just sends all sorts of conflicting messages because Kat is a loner and knows better than to even try to get involved with a confused straight woman. As I mentioned there is a back-story to Kat and; Natalie, being a therapist, is supposed to get to the core of it. This makes for a hot and cold romance.

After a couple of more incidents Kat is injured badly enough to need more augmentation until it appears she'll be mostly a cyborg before she's finished. Natalie is put off by this(not the cyborg-the job), but she's already compounded things by hiring Kat to look into her husbands illicit affair. True to her almost male like nature Kat gets immediately involved with Skyler, a lovely escort she hires to help go undercover to check out a modeling agency while still working on Natalie's case.

This story quickly becomes a convolution of plot that puts Basic Instinct to shame. In fact, this is Basic Instinct with a mostly female cast.

Anyway, everything will come together. Oddly the best part though is finding out what Kat is all about when she reveals her past finally.

This is a great character study that makes for an interesting and sometimes gruesome beginning to a series.

Good book for Suspense and SSF lovers. Contains elements of lesbian content although I'm not sure how representative Kat might be. She's mostly augmented and bad ass and driven.

J.L. Dobias

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's like a Zen moment... When a writer realizes they don't really want to rewrite every other author's work.

It's like a Zen moment...
When a writer realizes they don't really want to rewrite every other author's work. That second we realize that rewriting other peoples novels is not a viable profession, that we really don't have that much time on our hands.

Unless we are ghostwriters.

As a writer, I've fallen victim to at least the passing thought that I could write something better. That the author chose the wrong style. That this piece of crap is annoy the daylights out of me and I can't continue it. I should make it better.

So when someone approaches my work from that level I realize that it's something that will happen. I try to step back and try to to absorb the parts of the critique that have been helpful. After all, if they sent you any sort of note that means they care enough to say something.

When we publish something we invite criticism.

That's why we employ editors, to minimize the number of events. Unfortunately there are some subjective elements to style that make it impossible to please everyone. Someone has to make decisions about those and that means that it will go well with a percentage of people, though not so well with another percentage.

The key is to invite criticism. With this, should come the realization that you will be sifting through that to find the key pieces that will help to hone your work.

As a writer one of the main tools I've found that I use is reading other peoples work. I don't read for ideas. I read other work for views on experimentation with styles. The biggest stumbling block to this tool is those few times when I have difficulty finishing because of something I perceive as a problem.

I would like to think I'm getting better at it. Although, I will admit to recently upsetting at least one author by suggesting I hadn't finished the novella because of a few minor details. That didn't go over well. The trouble came when they decided to write derisively about my critique not being a critique, and their fans descended upon me with overpowering abuse.

The evil part of this is that I did read it; I just wasn't honest. If I had been entirely honest, perhaps it would have gone differently.

There were some major inconsistencies in the timeline of events which caused me to reread it several times to affirm that those existed. The plot was otherwise simplistic so there really shouldn't have been any need to lose track of the time of events. The characters were more one dimensional than anything else, which may or may not have been a plan since this was a pure science science fiction blended with a small element of slight fantasy but chock full of acronyms and quite recognizable descriptions from out of today's space program.

The bottom line here is that I should have said what I saw instead of a short bit about how I thought he should have at least spelled the difficult words he was using correctly and he might want to chose more recognizable words that make sense in the context.

I have been striving to improve.

To that end I have been completing books despite the level to which the author sets to annoy me and attempting to only place my annoyance in as a passing thought without allowing it to affect my overall review.

The point is; I give a review.

I attempt to be helpful and demonstrate what I like and mention what annoys or perplexes.

So, when someone tells me that a specific style choice of mine annoys them I try to listen. What is annoying to me is that sometimes people don't approach me at all about the things they find annoying let alone what they might like.

It should be mentioned that, especially so with style choices, I say I listen, but that does not mean I will change or alter the style I use. There are times when the style choice made has been decided after a lot of thought. That never means it's the best or most correct choice, but it does make it's more difficult to say I will fix that.

To name a few that I've heard.

Oh, you used first person- I can't read that - it's too much young adult - self published and first time authors use first person and don't know how to do it well.

Oh, you use present tense. Present tense always creates an urgency and immediacy in the narrative that become tiring and has no break or pacing.

Oh you use Said or Says all the time and its too annoying and I'm bleeding out of my ears eyes and nose from it.

Not all of these people have thrown the book down or quit reading, but I thoroughly understand the bleeding part and there is no reason to go on only to end up with a 911 call.

These are valid complaints, to an extent, and sometimes when I'm reading other work these things annoy me. Although, I somehow have reached a point where I can now look past them and that might be bad, but I've come to enjoy my reading much better. If the author uses too many of the generic dialog tags I just sort of block them out as long as I can keep track of who is talking. Tenses and POV even when handled poorly are really not that annoying when I begin to understand the style of the person writing.

I understand that not everyone can manage that and I know of quite a few who do throw books down and in the trash after a few pages.

When I give a review I give merit to the story and I'll often mention that it would be easier on the eyes and the mind if the POV was not so much head hopping, or the tense of the narrative could be more secure.

For me the truth is that these are not rules as much as guidelines and they are not laws as much as style guides. When handled poorly, they are also not things that are considered good writing, but they have to be consistently annoying before they affect my star ratings.

On the other hand if someone is using a difficult possibly less used word, then I expect it to be spelled correctly. That means the writer should look them up no matter how much a master they think they are at that word. And while they are there they should check and see if its common usage, the way they used it, or if it might be more of a colloquialism. God forbid they might not even know what it means. So when you use susurrus it should be spelled susurrus and not sussurus. If you don't spell that one correctly how am I to look it up or even know if you know what it means if you can't spell it correctly.

There are spelling mistakes that make sense in the sense that they might even get past an editor because the mind and eye might fool one into believing they spelled that correctly because it's such a common word.

The question would be; is susurrus a common word for you? Because, if it is I still think it should be flagged and checked because it wasn't common to me and the way it was spelled was not something common in my dictionary.

By the way; the author didn't think that was very helpful criticism.

All that aside, when someone asks how I handle criticism:

I try to point out that if I didn't want to invite it I wouldn't have published. And thank you for the input and thank you even more for having finished reading my entire novel despite the flaws that were found therein.

If you didn't finish it because you were too frustrated or pissed off then thank you again and at least I know I evoked some sort of emotion from you although not the one and the way I had hoped or intended.

J.L. Dobias

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review::Ryann by Paul Dorset

Ryann by Paul Dorset

I enjoyed and thoroughly loved this Novella. This is 106 pages and reads well enough to be a novel. I'm hoping there is more to Ryann's story.

I've had this one in my kindle for a while-waiting. I've avoided it. Maybe because it seemed it might be Young Adult and it seemed shorter than what I prefer. The upside to that is that no matter how long it sits it's not getting any better or worse while it's there. There might be some books that ferment over time but this wouldn't be one.

I say that from the point of view that a fermented book is probably going to be pretty nasty.

Expecting YA doesn't always make something YA. I in fact have seen a few that I've decided that I'd not encourage any young adults living at home (particularly my home) to read. This one almost hit that barrier with the rough treatment of the slaves. Thankfully we moved on from there and paced all of that to a reasonable level that clearly is designed to make the reader dislike Bramwel the son of Lord Cala. It also demonstrates why we should hold little if any regard for Lord Cala.

I think that Paul Dorset does a great job even without the beatings at making Bramwel a detestable cowardly self-absorbed and shallow young man.

On another level it's nice to see that no punches are pulled when dealing with the subject of Serfs servitude and slavery. At times it almost seemed there were inconsistencies but there was a strangely precarious balancing act going on between Bram and his father, which may explain the appearance of inconsistency.

It was insightful to look into the economic dynamics of the system. It's a marvelous system that always favors the house with little chance of having the major player break even let alone win.

It becomes apparent that the only way out is to die.

Ryann gets a first hand glimpse of that truth from the very beginning when the whip beating of her friend Megan leads to Megan's death. The disregard for life is demonstrated when the loss of life is only lamented in that the household can not afford to replace this slave.

Ryann begins to tread a thin line with Bramwel, wishing for her freedom and already trying to come up with ways to engineer revenge for Megan. It's clear, though, that getting freedom will be an long seemingly endless process. She may never have enough money earned, to test the rule that she can buy her freedom with twenty silver.

This story demonstrates the misuse of power and authority to subjugate people to a point that the masters lose sight of the necessity to build good will with the servants. When the servants are turned into slaves and conditions are stacked against them towards never being able to buy themselves free the outcome can only lead to a disregard for their life and well-being.

Having been in management many times in the past I can actually draw parallels to this even in our free society. Especially so where raises and promotions are tied to a system of evaluations and reviews that easily fall into the hands of people who enjoy wielding power over people and hanging that carrot in front of them with the full knowledge they never will obtain it.

Not everyone or everything is this bad but I would recommend this to everyone to read to help gain a clear idea of what to watch for and avoid when choosing a profession.

Don't get me wrong here-this book is not preaching anything. This was just my own creepy impression over the length of the narrative. Most of the narrative is the setup to explain what Ryann does.

And I'll even cut Lord Cala a small amount of slack in saying that he'll at least once redeem himself. I'm in no way satisfied that that's enough to totally redeem him.

Great fiction with a good message that everyone needs to consider. Young and old alike no matter what Genre you prefer you can't go wrong with this little Novella.

J.L. Dobias

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review::Jericho (Kinetics Book 3) by Andrew Peed

Jericho (Kinetics Book 3) by Andrew Peed

I love this book and I've enjoyed this series.

It's been a breath of fresh air on a familiar subject. It looks as though there could be more stories stored in there somewhere and we'll have to wait and see. As it is though each of these stories in this trilogy of stories has stood well within itself and brought the reader to some few conclusions as it went along. If I had a quibble it would be that if this was meant to be a trilogy-and the mention of trilogy here falls mainly on my perception-it would have been far better to at least give an illusion that all the major threads have been covered.

Since there seem to be threads hanging, I would then conclude that there are more stories to come. That's not all bad, because I've enjoyed Grace's story so far and I would be happy to see it continue onward.

This the third story brings us up to date. Grace has recovered the family that she could and had to face that a part of the family is now gone forever. A lot has fallen on her shoulders and she's tried to keep it all to herself. Now she has to decide to let things go into other hands so that her friends can help her.

But, before that happens the group has to work hard to find a cure for the virus that Graces former captors have injected into her bloodstream.

With the knowledge that James of Aurora is implementing the Jericho protocol, which could result in the death of thousands of User ( the gifted people), Grace must use her group to formulate a plan to put an end to the evil that James has been perpetrating upon them. To that end we gear up for full frontal assault.

As usual this book keeps with the pacing between the planning stages and the conflicts. There are more mysteries and more that Grace must learn and absorb. And things might not yet be quite as they seem as they get ready for what should be the final battle.

Anyone that has read the other two should really enjoy this one. There are a lot of answers and a lot of twists and turns that lead to what could still be a complete ending to the series. It's not necessary to answer all of the questions at the end. There is some risk though with some readers if there is too much or part of the more important parts left unresolved or at least left in some grey area.

As usual I will caution that those people having objections to a lot of grammar and spelling problems, they exist here. I usually highlight those and will only mention them when my highlights go beyond ten. Considering that I probably missed a good share, there could be more. You can't get them all even some of the major publishers have that problem, but there is an argument here for another set of eyes that are looking at the material.

That aside this is great story telling for Sci-Fi fantasy lovers. Definitely not a bad series to become involved with especially if there turn out to be more stories.

J.L. Dobias

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review::Concealed Power (The Healers of Meligna, Book #1) by K.J. Colt

Concealed Power by K.J. Colt

First off I received this book free. To be honest I might not have read it if it hadn't been free. Mostly because it is just a bit out of my usual favorite genre. I really loved this story because it made me very angry and I'll explain that. I purchased a copy afterward, on amazon, because the story and the author deserve that much.

This book reminds me of all those old classic favorites of mine which also are a bit away from my favorite genre. It's reminiscent of Charles Dickens in its richly described atmosphere and well told characterizations. It has the mystery and intrigue of many of my favorite Alexander Dumas. Except, K.J. Colt's style is her own.

I have no idea of what the era of the story is. All I know is that its a time of backward benighted people who treat all illness as some sort of curse caused by witches and devils. And, Adenine is caught up into it with a heart of gold and the innocence of a child.

The reader is introduce to the story through a series of events seen through Adenine's eyes. Not only is this the way that K.J. Colt has chosen to tell the story, I'll venture a wager that it was the way the story chose to be told. First person is not always easy and has to be mastered in order to come out well at the other end. K.J. does this. It's always too easy to slip into making the story sound like a shopping list or laundry list when doing first person and I never once felt that way. Instead we are brought right into the world of Adenine without any unnecessary overhead.

What this does for the story is it creates a series of mysteries that will unfold as Adenine is able to discern them. And this is where I got angry. It's always a triumph when what you read takes you out of your comfort zone, which is what Concealed Power does. It's even more of a feat when it can move the reader with real emotion.

I was angry that these things were happening to Adenine. Disturbed that her parent left her with her uncle when her uncle was in such a shattered state and that it all led to disaster. Distraught that it seemed that Adenine was being treated poorly even by her parents. And very confused and distressed that she had been blinded and that I wasn't sure, but it seemed her parents were actively responsible for this.

I Can tell you that at that point I resolved that K.J. Colt had better have some good reasons for all these thing to have to happen to this poor little girl of 11 years.

Adenine lives with her father Adronian and mother Capacia in a sheltered life because she has some rare Death Plague that will infect anyone she comes in contact with. She watches life from her window while her parent run their shop Mystoria. On occasion her favorite Uncle, Garrad, takes care of her and sneaks her out of the house at night to visit his shack. Her life seems like a bad enough life as it is, it's about to explode into something worse.

Adenine will lose her sight and half her family and when what's left is too sick to care for her, Adenine has to venture into the world she's been kept from. She's about to discover her life has been a lie and she's going to have to grow up quickly to be able to take care of herself in a world that may be set to reject her.

K.J. Colt delivers but it takes quite some time, almost half way through the story for the reader to begin to get some answers. I can't agree with much of what her parents have done and it seems there are quite a number of other characters in the story who, for various reasons, will eventually agree with that assessment.

The important thing is that this story evokes emotion and delivers a well paced story with moments of the mundane contrasting the trials and tribulations that confront Adenine. The heartbreak and thankfully some of the joy.

This book is for anyone who loves Fantasy fiction and has enjoyed many of the classics of yesterdays authors. It has a well built world of specific customs and values that, though often frustrating, make perfect sense for this story. This is a great story for anyone who doesn't mind being jerked out of their comfort zone for few moments to set the stage for the rest of the story.

The best part is that you don't have to agree with how the characters act because there will always be another character within the story who will agree with you about that even if that character has some disagreeable qualities. And the actions for these characters make perfect sense within the story for the character no matter how frustrated or angry it makes you.

I like a story that makes me think and love the one that makes me feel.

J.L. Dobias

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review::Morpheus(Kinetics Book 2) By Andrew Peed

Morpheus(Kinetics Book 2) By Andrew Peed

There is more and more to love about this series each book. Once again we are dealing with issues that seem to be common themes so it's very important that the characters are developed well. And that's exactly what Andrew Peed set out to do in this series.

Grace is a strong character with a lot of flaws that are going to bite her. One of her biggest flaws is not quite understanding herself. She's going to assemble around her some of the very people whom she can rely on. There will be some who aren't so agreeable but most of these people will support her, if she'll let them. There's the problem. Grace has so many reasons that she needs to do everything herself. This is a common problem among people who are otherwise suitable for management-or in this case Command.

Grace Madison a former orphan has discovered she has a sister and parents who are still alive but being held captive. She needs to find them and she has two possible locations for her parents. She also has some other problems. Presently she is relying on the AI's that run her parents home(Chuck, Alrick and Alice) and the self contained power of the home has been compromised. It's a specially designed power supply that might only be fixed by Darrel Aarons who now works for the evil Aurora Corporation.

Worse than that though, Eastcroft is being taken over by the government and Sam is to be replaced. That's not all, it seems that the governement is sending out a group called seekers who are to retrieve and detain the most powerful of the Kinetics. With that in mind Ryder, Ronnie, Sandy, Rachel and Kenny move in with Grace. This works out until the seekers show up and Rachel determines that they have no intention of detaining them.

So now with the government and Aurora after them and having to look for another place to hide out it's time to be proactive. But, can Grace give up control enough to let people help? Will she be able to find and save her sister Isabella. The next time they meet up with the seekers the seekers will have learned and adapted and Grace's command will suffer another setback.

This book is quite well paced most of the way through and it kept me on the edge of my seat and kept me reading for a one sit read. It gets a bit intense at the end and is not something you'll want to put down when you get to that spot.

Great Sci-Fi fantasy and young adult fiction with some elements of cyberspace fiction.

Next book is Jerico

J.L. Dobias

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Review::Daddy's World by Walter Jon Williams

Daddy's World by Walter Jon Williams

This is a short story.Probably somewhere around twenty to thirty pages. But it's really good as a short story and entertaining. It's also thought provoking. It asks some simple questions, which may or may not come up in the future.

Jamie lives in an idealistic life, which sounds like it's out of some children s novel. It's peopled with characters that could only live in books. But Jamie's Mom and Dad are there and so is his sister Becky. His days are simple filled with time to play but also time to learn.

Until one day when everyone seems to freeze. Stranger things happen where he sees parts of a person and hears a voice. This is the first indicator that things are not as they seem, which is actually pretty much a relief because this was reading too much like a children's tale.

Soon his sister makes a suggestion that they play matchmaker between Don Quixote and Princess Gigunda by deceiving Don into believing that Gigunda is really Dulcinea who, of course, Don Quixote loves. This antic heralds in a time when Becky, who is younger, starts to age faster than Jamie. This perplexes him but he's not ready to face what is happening.

As with short stories this becomes difficult to review because it's so short and a person doesn't want to give the whole story away.

This story is almost a cautionary tale. A modern fairy tale or fable. With the what if being what if we could download the mind of someone we love, who is dying, into a computer. It takes time to examine the ethics and legality of letting someone have that much control over your mind when you pass from this earth.

There are consequences as the conditions lasts longer than originally planned and eventually Becky, who has to live in both a real and fantasy world is a catalyst to Jamie gaining back more control of his life. But, just how will that work out for any of them.

You will have to read and see.

This short is a good introduction to the mind of Walter Jon Williams and his world building. I personally recommend his Implied Spaces novel as another good starting point.

Good Thought provoking SSF for all Future of the digital age related Science Fiction lovers.

J.L. Dobias

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Review::The Infinite Life of Emily Crane by Jaron Lee Knuth

The Infinite Life of Emily Crane by Jaron Lee Knuth

I like this book it's written well. What I had trouble with is following the development of the main character but there's an identifiable reason for this.

This book is a slow starter and comes off as a Young Adult teen angst story. Then it sort of digresses to shock fiction and then segue's into some philosophical fluff. So it's really three stories and that's where I got confused because it made it difficult to connect the three character personalities in the story.

As the story begins we have the angsty overweight possibly Plain Jane teen Emily Crane who is lucking in having had a boyfriend, but unlucky in having lost him to a car accident. She's trying to deal with that along with being an outcast in school. She also has to deal with the fact that she had just broken up with the boyfriend prior to his accident and that she witnesses other students being abused by the peers in a fashion perhaps worse than she has been abused. She does nothing about it.

This leads to disaster when the twins get tired of the abuse and go on a killing rampage and Emily is in the way and is one of the casualties. Emily dies, but that's not the end. Emily is an immortal and can't be killed so easily.

The next part of the story is a rather gruesome piece involving everything that a certain secret group of government funded people do with Emily to try and understand what makes her different. Were talking worse things than what happened with Stephen King's Firestarter - and everyone knows how that worked out for those people. Emily is trapped in a nightmare situation with no way out. Emily does get a buff body out of it but it not as funny or entertaining as Bette Midler in Ruthless People.

The last or third part is of course the escape and the people who are like Emily who come to save the day. But are these people any better than the one's who have systematically tortured her for over twenty years?

The one single troublesome detail I found was created by the very gruesome nature of the second part of this novel. What it involved is Emily's road to recovery from those long years of torture- yes at the beginning she wants to kill them all but she gets over way too quickly and I'm not sure I understood how or why she lost her anger despite recognizing the toll it was taking on someone who was becoming close to her..

To say anything more would be too much spoiling.

This story is a good tale of the transformation of Emily- not from mortal to immortal but from angsty teenager to a well rounded woman and is not a bad tale all the way around and this book gives me one of the few times I can honestly say that the end has TMI. I think as a reader the transformation of Emily was the story and that diatribe wrap-up at the end seemed a distraction.

The place in the middle with all the abuse has it's place but is overplayed and should result in a Firestarter ending. But to understand or disagree with this you are going to have to read the story. That's a good thing because it's entertaining and mostly well paced.

For once I'd have been happy to have been left hanging there as to how the rest of the story was about to pan out.

Interesting Science Fiction Fantasy read for all lovers of that Genre: contains elements of horror that make it questionable for Young Adults.

J.L. Dobias

Friday, June 14, 2013

Review::The Disenchanted Pet by Kate Policani

The Disenchanted Pet by Kate Policani

I can't give this book enough praise.

I have to admit something I don't usually do with a book was done here. I got this book because of the cover. Not that I thought that the cover was cool and great for a book entitled The Disenchanted Pet, but because it was a stock photo and was used also on a favorite novel of mine. As usual I didn't read the blurb and went into the whole thing pretty cold about what to expect.

The story starts out simple and as a reader I felt I had dropped into a simple YA Sci-Fi fantasy that was perhaps somewhat similar to that old favorite of Margret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale. As I read further it seemed mostly to be a fluff story about the trials and tribulations of this poor pampered girl who had to decide if she wanted the honor of becoming a parent to bring in more prodigy children for the SaSa's to train coddle.

When the story finally takes that left turn, into the twilight zone, it suddenly becomes apparent that this is a brilliant piece of fiction that I'm adding to my library of literary masterpieces. Kate Policani has deftly crafted a tale that weaves in genocide, colonization, and a sort of insidious fascist takeover that is passed off as benevolent rule through hyper-efficient disinformation.

Zarah is the pet. But, when we meet her she seems more like the prodigy who is being groomed for a well planned life. The new rulers of humanity are the SaSa's or Sczhangshen Zshctizsch, best described as the ShaZha. They have come to save humanity and do away with man's wars and teach man to live a better life. To do this they have created two classes, the Prodigies and the Ferals. Prodigies like Zarah are suitable for the future of humanity and are allowed to breed. Ferals are the cast off the ones who can't work with or can't even see the ShaZha, they are forbidden to mix with the Prodigies and all of their children are tested to be sorted out into the appropriate class.

There are so many easily identifiable things wrong with this, but not so evident for our little Pollyanna who is thrilled to be chosen as one who will mate and carry on the tradition of her generations.

Zarah's first indication that she is of better stuff than the fluff of the first part of the book is her willingness to explore the meaning of the word pet as regards her existence. But, she may not have ever been able to show her true colors if she'd not been taken from her protected existence against her will and brought down into the low level of the Ferals.

She may have to live with the fact that once someone like her gets to where she is that she is lost from the system and will never be returned.

There she learns the truth, although she continually wants to deny what she hears. There are really three classes because there are some savages who are outside the system. There are secrets to be told and she doesn't get all the answers while she's with the Ferals.

Once she learns the truth she'll discover she needs to know more. How will she react to that what level of rebellion will this take her to and what can she do? The odds of improving the situation seem bleak.

This is also a bit of a story about slavery, oppression, and the brainwashing affect. It also begins to examine the question of owning people not just as slaves but as pets and the affect that has on their continued survival and subsequent dependency.

There are just so many enormous questions in this book that are relevant for yesterday, today and tomorrow.

The impact on Zarah is great and her decisions make sense and I can't help but see that there is so much more to be told of her story.

I recommend this book to everyone to read.

It has some great Sci-Fi and fantasy elements, but it's so much more than that.

J.L. Dobias

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review::At The Water's Edge (Adronis Novella #1) by Melanie Nilles

At The Water's Edge (Adronis Novella #1) by Melanie Nilles

At The Water's Edge was a great book as an introduction to Melanie Nilles. I can't say it's the best book, I won't do that until I've read a few more of her's. It's a great entertaining light read with some heart.

This book is touted as a Novella but it comes off more as a novel. The reason I say this is that though it has some of the hurry up and get there nature of a novella Melanie still delves enough into her characters to allow the reader to have feelings for them. I find in a lot of novella's that becomes difficult because of the short nature of a novella. Most time's the characters are the one that get short changed in the Science Fiction category.

But, this is not just a Science Fiction Fantasy this is a Romance and I would agree that it is first a romance and second Science Fiction. This is a romance between to seeming different species. It is also the story of people who have advanced genetic engineering. The science is never dealt with on a heavy level and is mostly ancillary to the characters and the romance.

I love Science Fiction and I enjoy Romance in my Science Fiction so this was no large stretch for me. And, though at the beginning it seemed like the character of Sara Adams was going to get shorted by the novella I think the author slowly developed a better liking for Sara as she went along and began to give her some more depth. All kidding aside Sara was well developed as an almost spoiled but wounded young lady who really wouldn't be doing what she was doing if she'd not been so wounded.

It's that wounded and vulnerable Sara that gets herself into trouble in no worse place than the Bermuda Triangle. Thinking she's about to drown she seems to give up only to discover she's safe on an Island. She's also alone and isolated and not sure how to survive.

Thankfully Darian is around. He has saved her and placed her on the island and is bringing her food. Since he doesn't speak English and Sara hasn't learned much of any other languages, there's a huge language boundary at the beginning. But, that pales to Sara's constant uncertainty that any of this is real. Perhaps that's a contributing factor to why Sara never seems to catch onto what the reader can easily discern is going on with Darian. Even before we get the larger reveal.

Suffice it to say, if I had any quibbles it would be that as bright as Sara is and has to be to have turned Darian's head in the first place, she should have figured some of this out, even if she didn't believe it. But, love has a ways to go and there's always the potential conflict with the mother-in-law to be.

I enjoyed the hint of a notion of travelers from far places being wise enough to know they must tweak the DNA to survive in new world. And, all I can say to that is, Melanie you have a lot of writing ahead of you while you examine all the different types of creatures they may have left throughout the vast universe.

Great Romance for romance lovers, but how would I know that? Good character development, which is always a plus. The bonus of Science Fiction that doesn't necessarily drive the story. And lastly, a good Young Adult fiction.

Thanks for the good read!

J.L. Dobias

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Review::Two Timed by Clayton Spann

Two Timed by Clayton Spann

I liked this story. I can't quite say I loved it- but I did enjoy it. Maybe I could be somehow compelled to love it.

This is like one of those Twilight Zone episodes. It in fact mentions that. Its also similar to a recent story I'd read from long ago The End of Time by Wallace West. In both stories we have a select few people who are walking around in a world that seems to be frozen in time. In the End of Time the race is to restore the world before everyone is trapped. In Two Timed the race is to restore the characters to real time.

Both stories require a stretch of imagination to understand how time is frozen. But in Two Timed its not really a story about frozen time. Its a story about several flawed characters coming to terms with their own flaws when they are given ultimate power over others.

Two Timed has three main characters although there are five major players. The story is mostly told through the eyes of Peter Keller and his interaction with Barbara Jackson and Paula Keller. Brian Jackson and Gompertz are mostly mentioned and have important roles but because we don't see as much of their motivations as we do the other three I'd call them secondary. This is a story about motive and the psychological turning of these character's minds.

Peter Keller is a nerd, a scientist with somewhat low self esteem because of lack of physical prowess. The one time he managed to delude himself into a relationship it went poorly for him so he doesn't feel he has much chance with someone like Barbara Jackson who is to him a pinup perfect. But, because of some weird game that Gompertz is playing they are thrown together.

They have acquired watches that stop time around them, everything is frozen except for them. It's quite clever and mostly follows its own rules, so even though it's a stretch it flies well in the face of itself at least.

Paula Keller and Brian Jackson are initially thrown together. The two couples are competing to find the magic location and acquire the power to have absolute control over another person.

Peter might have use for that power but professes throughout that he really doesn't want that type of power. Barbara who was once stung when young now is jaded and seems to be a user. She wants the power to gain the affection of someone whose money she wants. Peter can only wonder that she's now using him because she needs him to help her gain this power. Of course Peter can't help but fall in love when she showers him with false affection.

Because they can stop time, they can stretch weeks into seconds depending on how they use the watch. Peter finds himself at first reluctant because he can't believe that they are really stopping time and he has commitments. On the other hand he can't believe his luck in have the affections of this goddess all to himself regardless of his understanding that she's using him. Barbara, though otherwise flawed, is very confident, intelligent and aggressive.

Things take a nasty turn when betrayal occurs and the Jackson's pool resources leaving the Keller's stuck in the no time zone without watches to get them out. There will be months in the no time zone of self recriminations and Peter must handle a somewhat shattered Paula while dealing with the notion they may die of old age in a land where everyone around them is frozen.

As the story unfolds the reader can see that there are no real hero's in the story. They all have more than the normal share of flaws. So, though things might work out in the end for, some of them, I can't really say that the good guys win. You will have to read the story to see how things work out.

Anyone looking for light entertainment with a bit of Twilight Zone twist and thought provoke should love this entertaining fable.

J.L. Dobias

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review::Trixie & Me (Galactic Exploration) by Peter Cawdron

Trixie & Me (Galactic Exploration) by Peter Cawdron

I really enjoyed this short story-novella or whatever you might call it. It is both entertaining and thought provoking.

Trixie and Berry are explorers but in the beginning of the story they are in a weird and somewhat awkward position. They are both naked and since this is from the point of view of Trixie we find her a bit surprised at seeing Berry this way. She thinks about it arousing a primal feeling within her.

This is the least of her worries though.

This is not erotic fiction.

As we will see Trixie and Berry appear to be trapped in some alien environment. It sounds often like what an Escher world might be like with gravity on every plane and possibly something of gravity drifting in the middle of the room floating in the air. It has an entirely alien feel to it.

There are all types of insect like creatures that seem to be there doing maintenance. At first they seem to go about their work without much interference to Berry and Trix. As Berry and Trix get closer to escape they manage to get into their hair and under their skin. But at the beginning Berry seems stuck somewhere and a disoriented Trix has to be coaxed into helping him get released so that they can find their ship and escape.

This is a story of first contact. And not exactly a pleasant first contact. More of a cautionary tale that says that the aliens are so alien in nature that they treat man as poorly as man often treated man whenever they conquered a new continent.

In a way the story is an allegory of mans conquest of frontier world from the other direction.

But there is a twist because there is something not quite right with Trix and though it was easy to figure out what that might be there are all sorts of red herrings thrown in the way in the narrative and the dialog with Berry. Plus it seems even though the answer is so easy to find that there is still something not quite right with Trix even with the facts all supplied.

Trixie and Berry are being held captive and systematically tortured so the aliens can gain valuable information to lead them back to the rest of humanity. Or at least that's how it seems to be. They have momentarily escaped but things are not as they appear when dealing with alien beings who think so strangely.

The relations ship between Trixie and Berry will be tested. And there is much to reveal in this short tale. This is not as gory as Aliens the movie but its just as strange sometimes.

Great Speculative Fiction interesting thriller and suspense story.

Nice entertaining story with an engaging if somewhat confused and confusing character of Trixie.

J.L. Dobias

Monday, June 10, 2013

Review::Kinetics by Andrew Peed

Kinetics by Andrew Peed

First I should mention that I really enjoyed this book.

I do feel obligated to make an observation that will become obvious to anyone who has read the many novels that follow the same thematic threads. This book is the typical, in this case girl orphan who is soon to find she possesses fantastic powers. Then she'll discover she has a sibling and she'll join a group of like people who are fighting against the bad evil that means to abuse their powers. Then she discovers she may be integral to the success of these people.

Again this is an observation that's not meant to make it sound like a bad thing. It's just a very common thread these days and in having read a lot of self published and young adult work recently I find it to be a mainstay of tropes in this genre. These are not cliches as common reference would suppose in the same way that we don't try to call all music cliche.

What is most important about these types of books is how the protagonist is portrayed to the reader. These types of novels are heavily character driven. And this book does a good job of bringing the character of Grace Madison to life. She has her own specific level of confidence and though she seems abused by her peers she is usually level headed and restrained. Though, she is strong willed and capable of taking care of herself. She comes across easily as someone who might be able to take command of things. A trait which comes in handy later on.

The story starts with Grace, Ronnie, Sandy and Kenny all being kidnapped from their foster home. They wake up in the enemy territory with the memory of their home having been destroyed. Experiments are preformed on them and they all exhibit special abilities. Grace's are the most pronounced and through the guidance or intimidation of other inmates she allow herself to let go and she nearly destroy the place they are housed. The four escape with Rachel, Mike and Mary.

They bungle around a bit until they are almost caught by Jolt and the Sabers who are working for the evil company Aurora. Fortunately Vanish, Silence, Sam and Hothead come to the rescue. It seems these rescuers have a mole in Aurora's organization and they have come to lift the seven from the clutches of the enemy.

Once everyone gets settled into the training at Eastcroft, we really see Grace blossom into what she is meant to be. Though, it takes a while because she has mental blocks that are preventing her from using her new-found talent. Soon the reader discovers that the blocks have been keeping a lot more away from Grace and when the blocks come down we discover that Grace might be a natural who has now been modified by Aurora. Her natural talent might be reading minds it's not yet clear.

As I mentioned-this book is a bit trope heavy but it's well worth the time to read it. One caution is that the editing missed out some in many areas and there are missing words or misspelled words that create some bit of grammatical challenge. In some cases the wrong word could almost be considered humorous.I'm pretty sure that's not what the author is going for. In the long run it's not difficult to figure out the correct word and insert them so I had no problem. But, for those who do have issues this is a warning.

This is a good Young Adult Sci-Fi military-political-psychological thriller for people who love those types of novels. Great character development along with strong pacing.

I'm looking forward to reading the two other novels to this series. If they are all done this well I'll look for more if and when they come out.

J.L. Dobias

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review::Nimbus: A Steampunk Novel (Part One) by Austin King & B.J.Keeton

Nimbus: A Steampunk Novel (Part One) by Austin King & B.J.Keeton

This a clever little novel or novella depending on how you look at it. I really enjoyed reading it and it peaked my interest enough to get me to purchase the remainder of the four. This part contains two stories in the same world that do not connect and yet they somehow tell two stories that are complete and have the promise of sometime later intersecting. I'll find that out when I read the rest, if it proves to be true.

Steam-punk seems to still be in a stage where there are quite a number of novels, which fall under the heading, that have quite divergent theme structure and landscape. So there are air ships in this one and possibly floating sky cities or stations.

One of the stories takes place on cloud nine a community where the ruling class live that has three tiers that lay out three class of peoples.Cornelius Rucca is the God-king whose son is dying. There is a supernatural way to save him and Cornelius has access because one of his ancestors was an auger. It might appear that Cornelius is making a deal with the devil and allowing it to cohabit his son in order to save his sons life.

The other story is aboard the airship Gangly Dirigible Jude has only been aboard around a year, young and ambitious he finds that life on the airship as a Hoser can be dangerous and rough with few other rewards than the fresh water he can send to his family. The Gangly Dirigible uses the Hosers to extract water from the clouds that run above the evil fog, which can eat flesh. His friend Fritz has once fallen victim to the fog and it is slowly eating his flesh away day by day.

Dimetrius Rucca, the son of Cornelius lives a somewhat sheltered life but he is cripple. Although his life was spared he has lost the use of his legs. His one dream is to an air ship captain but his father, Cornelius makes a point of denying him that one dream. Through a sequence of fortunate or unfortunate events Dimetrius gains a following from the lowest class and they eventually are spurred to steal an airship for him initially much to his chagrin.

Through greed and a series of unfortunate events connected with that greed; Jude and the son of the owner of the airship and the captain and a few crew discover an old sky platform that might contain riches or might contain pure evil. I'm fairly certain these two stories mean to collide somewhere down the road- or up in the air as it is.

These are both well paced and exciting stories and although the whole story is not complete the two stories resolve out enough to serve as two well told tales that stand on their own.

It will be interesting to finish the other three parts to see where it's going.

Great read for lovers of SSF and steam-punk. Possibly even for Mark Twain Riverboat fans.

J.L. Dobias

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Review::Turing Evolved by David Kitson

Turing Evolved by David Kitson

I came into this one with a totally wrong idea of what I would get.

That wasn't bad, but it did result in it being on my kindle for a long time before I read it. The book description is rather short and not real informative. I expected the typical future war story with a possible AI human romance.

The romance is there but the story reminded me more of what I would expect of Philip K. Dick if he were alive and writing today. There's that bit of surreal sense as Jon Carlson- an ex-Demon Pilot is working with a place called Mind-space Samaritans- a group that helps pull lifers out of the virtual worlds they've been hiding in.

Jon's old job as a Demon Driver didn't pan out so well and though he was exonerated for what he had done he was booted out of service. He goes to work for MS as a means of reintegrating into normal life but we soon find that Jon is not meant to have normal life. His neural interface makes him an asset for this type of work.

First his initial assignment is someone who's been in for over twenty years and has a virtual family with child and wife and doesn't want to come out. But the bills aren't being paid and the plug has to be pulled. This gives the reader a first hand look at the MIND-space and how it can seem so real for the people who use the right equipment in their virtual world.

In the real world; while out with his new coworker Jeremy - Jeremy sights an ANGEL in the sky- an AI that's a good Samaritan of sorts who can assist people and not harm anyone. The description of these robotic AI's reminded me of Jack Williamson's Humanoids. It also gave me a creepy feeling based on the the technology involved that they could very well be quite similar to those Humanoids in many ways. Jeremy wants to see if he can find the place where the ANGEL has landed. Jon has misgivings but goes along with the notion until he hears what he recognizes as the sound of dangerous munitions.

When confronted with a mercenary Demon pilot Jon's training kicks in to attempt to save himself and his friend. That's when Rachel, the ANGEL shows up and he thinks that she's saved them. Unfortunately things don't go well for Rachel because she is not allowed to be armed and Jon ends up having to save her.

The media from this puts Jon and Jeremy in the limelight, which will prove dangerous for them. And, having taken the time to save a machine Jon has to face his own feelings about what these AI's are and he has to relive the reason he had to quit being a Demon pilot.

I loved the way that the romance in this is slow to boiled and has take a lot of time and work to begin moving. I like the questioning of the notion of what an AI is as opposed to human and how Jon really felt about it as a very important elements of this novel.

Much of this book though Dick-esque has a lot of William Gibson in it too with the notion of jacking into some form of cyberspace to operated dangerous weapons and the mystery of AI's that may have more mobility in this virtual landscape than advertised..

There were many times that the plot became predictable but it was all done in a logical and well paced way that kept me engrossed in the book until I was forced to put it down to get some sleep. One thing I enjoyed was that it did not have that certain something that always made me struggle getting through Philip K. Dicks works which were always a lot of work to read. And it was not heavily jargoned like some of those other Cyberspace novels such as William Gibson's works.

This is a fairly easy read and the science is quite well thought out and consistent within the context of the story. There were a few twisty elements of the story and even the outcome was not quite as predictable as I expected.

This is a good book for all Sci-Fi and Fantasy and SF Military and Psychological Cyberspace Thriller lovers. If you read fast enough you'll finish it in one day. It took me two but It's an enjoyable read despite the numerous grammar irregularities and errors created by incorrect words or misspelled or duplicated words. And I only mention that as a warning to those who are put off by such things. I'm glad that they don't bother me because this is a darn good read that I found hard to walk away from I want more of this story.

J.L. Dobias

Friday, June 7, 2013

Review::Telepaths and Traitors (Book 1 of Phoenix Chronicles) by K.J. Blaine

Telepaths and Traitors (Book 1 of Phoenix Chronicles)by K.J.Blaine

There are some outstanding things about this book. The first is that it was free so I didn't read the blurb or anything and the cover is okay but not outstanding, so I wasn't judging that. I didn't even do the usual read of ten or twenty pages or whatever was offered. So I went into it pretty cold.

It starts out with what I'd describe as a juvenile fiction style that was border-lining on putting me off. In a way it's a bit of a sleeper and creeps up on the reader. The characters and the plot had enough going that I couldn't abandon it and it eventually paid off. I really loved this book with its deftly developed plot.

There were even eventually some moments when, just like Vinny, I was going "Yes!"

Another interesting thing about Telepaths and Traitors was that I had to keep looking to make sure this was really the first book. There is so much back-story that is deftly inserted into this story that there must be room for three more books as prefaces to this collection.

I was delighted to obtain all the insertions of prior activities to explain things, but I kept honestly wondering if there are some books out there I need to get to really fill me in on those details.

The story begins with Tim MacDonald recovering from having been tortured to give up secret codes to his ship. He's shamed by his betrayal, although everyone aboard ship tries to ensure him that they know that he did not willingly put them all in harms way. He's being treated by Dr. Linda Heshen who seems to be a physician/ psychiatrist/ psion (Psi that is like ESP) One of the things done to Tim was having been zapped by a Genome Wave Energy DNA Disruptor which is used normally to control Trans-humans. This has possibly heightened Tim's sensitivity to Psion forces.

The ship Phoenix is peopled with Trans-humans and intelligent chimps. George and Bravo respectively.

Tim is vegetarian which figures into the rest of the story. I particularly found it funny that a MacDonald is vegetarian.(understanding there is an extra letter in the name.)

Tim's sensitivity and another crew members apparent sensitivity to Psi figure into a sub plot having to do with an old colleague of Linda's who abuses psion to attempt to steal something from Phoenix. The real meat of the story happens after this; when Captain Jason Armstrong, Tim, and the teen computer specialist Steve go on R&R.

We learn that there are people who have their eyes on Phoenix and her captain and crew; people who would like to remove a few of the crew from the equation. Despite her reticence after her friend betrayed them Linda finds she may have to rely on other psion friends to help get her captain and shipmates out of a deadly situation.

This story is well paced and I was surprised when the real plot kicked in and left our characters out to sea, so to speak. There was at least one point there where it was predictable that things were being stacked up, but knowing that didn't spoil it one bit.

It's always a pleasure when the plot and pace work up to the point where the readers find themselves cheering.

This is a great read for anyone interested in Bio enhancement fiction and Sci-Fi and even the military type. Lots of stuff in space and on land and sea. Somewhat of a political/psychological thriller in the making too.

I see there are at least four more books to this series (which I will be reading) and whenever K.J. Blaine decides to write the prequels I'll be looking out for them also. Keep them coming.

J.L. Dobias

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review::Gears of a Mad God; A Steampunk Lovecraft Adventure by Brent Nichols

Gears of a Mad God; A Steampunk Lovecraft Adventure by Brent Nichols

I seem to be going down Steam-punk lane recently. This is an interesting book and it was a fun read. I'm not sure if it qualifies as Steam-punk just because it has steam driven things in it and the heroine likes to wield wrenches work on steam machines and even toss around a few very large heavy gears. Alas though it has Steam-punk in the name so we'll go with it.

This reminded me more of a who done it book. A bit of the games a foot. It's a mystery.

It is a nice introduction to the main character and possibly the supporting cast.

Colleen Garman has lost most of her family and has only tenuous threads to the family of her boyfriend Roland. As the story begins and introduces her, she's discovering that her only real family, her uncle, has passed away. She makes rather hasty arrangements to cross the Canadian Provinces to take care of her uncles affairs.

She discovers that her uncle is accused of taking an axe and attacked a school prior to his death while in a jail. She meets Jane, her uncles girl friend. And, she discovers there are strange circumstances to her uncles death. While attempting to take care of her uncles affairs she is thrust into a conspiracy and the hunt for possible ancient myths.

There is a lot of action and sleuthing and danger in this novel. Colleen comes to a point where she's almost certain that this is not the type of life for her, but now that she's been tagged by the evil organization she's not sure how she'll get out of it all.

Part of this story is Colleen examining just what she does want out of life. Mostly, again, it's all an introduction to what seems possibly to be a series of novels.

My usual quibble with these types of novels is that they seem to be unregulated in size. The goal seems to be an endless number of tiny serial pieces. They often seem incomplete.

Thankfully this one seems larger than many and does comprise a fully rounded novel within itself so it has more going for it.

I would say that this novel stands complete within it self as much as each of the short stories of the Sherlock Holmes series were.

I enjoy a bit more character development and involvement and this story could easily be a five for me if it had that.

J.L. Dobias

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review::The Backworlds(Book 1) by M. Pax

The Backworlds(Book 1) by M. Pax

This book really entertained me.

I love character driven stories and I frankly thought at the beginning that there was no way a shallow self absorbed character like this was going to get me through the story.

The problem is that for the most part the story is well written and the style of writing drew me into the story.

It took a while for my thick head to figure out that Craze was some sort of gene-engineered made for space being. And as I read I began to wonder if perhaps he wasn't a victim of some bit of inbreeding. Craze reminds me of a few people who at the age of 30 were still sponging off their parents. But, it might be in this case that his parents may be overly opportunistic and have continually used him and this time they gave him the boot and his father stole his girlfriend. Also, unless I got things wrong I think all of this happened with the approval of his mother.

These things come out throughout the narrative and some of Craze's inner dialogue.

Reluctantly Craze leaves. To be honest he's forced out by use of some sort of electronic prod. He has to go to Elstwhere and from there he has to make his own life. Craze wants to own a bar and his thoughts constantly return to the orderliness of his racks of exotic liquors. I think that Craze may be a bit OCD. On the way to Elstwhere he meets Lepsi and Talos some Aviarmen who are on their way to obtain a ship to begin their own enterprise. Craze gets involved with them from the point of view that he too must make his own life now. He sees them as a means to his end.

They also seem to have the same revenge filled nature that Craze is beginning to acquire.

This whole story begins to become of comedy of errors with most of the characters coming off as being users. They are using each other and any one they can to obtain their goals.

Craze meets the -possibly bisexual -Gattar, a Jax who introduces him to a scheme to obtain chocolate- which is precious. Lepsi and Talos recognize the Jax and clue Craze into how the chocolate might be a red herring for the trafficking of prohibited weapons from Earth or the Fore'worlds.

Add in the involvement of local authorities and all the best laid plans....

As a forewarning to everyone even though this book is long enough to be considered at least a novella and probably a novel it completes with the air of being incomplete because it's part of a series and because the author chose to end it as she chose to end it.

All I can say is if her engaging and humorous style prevails throughout the series I'll have no problem with these stories. It kept reminding me of the Retief stories by Keith Laumer- except lacking the strong sensible character that was Retief.

Nonetheless Craze has some redeeming qualities and his associates prove to be both a foil and a balance for him.

Nice Entertaining Sci-Fi and Strange alien fiction- these characters are not human and for the most part don't act any more human than a bit of anthropomorphizing here and there like salt an pepper for flavor.

J.L. Dobias

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Review::Valens Revenge (Book 2) (The Valens of Legacy)by Sherrel Lee

Valens Revenge (Book 2) (The Valens of Legacy)by Sherrel Lee

I'm torn. I love this book more than the first. In so many ways. Yet I love the first book because the characters seemed to have more heart. Or at least Jemma's character had more heart. In the first novel we saw Jemma slowly building up to the realization that she had a larger portion in life than she'd been giving herself and I suppose I was hoping that that new life was going to include Hawke.

It really does include Hawke but not as closely as I was hoping.

This book seems to be more a story centered around Declan and his anguish over having lost Miranda in such a violent way. His anger and vengeance toward Grant who taunts him with the knowledge that as a Manticore he had killed Miranda by swallowing her whole.

This story is also about Hawke and about Misty and their position in Jemma's organization. But I seems that since she has had to take the helm, that fact hamstrings her characters involvement in the real action in this novel.

It's all understandable, though. Riding herd over the Valens and other associates while trying to wage war on Gruen, Astrid and Grant is taking all of Jemma's time and energy. That doesn't include the worry and decision she must face about the Humani abominations that Gruen is making using the blood of Valens who are unaware of what they are.

The stakes are getting higher and the Humani are becoming more intelligent and dangerous. Jemma is proving to become a fast learning leader.

One thing in this type of fiction is that the higher the rank the protagonist gets the less effective or exciting they become as a tool drive the plot. Everyone wants to keep the Generals protected and away from the fighting. Jemma will fight this but in this story she mostly shows up as the leader while those around her are thrust into the fray of the action.

I love how this story examines the inner workings of the evil Cerberus organization. The infighting and the revelations that come out regarding the real pecking order. There's lots of reveal in this novel and the novel is well paced. I read this at one sitting and I'm enthusiastically waiting for the next book.

Hats off to a job well done, Sherrel Lee, in making the transition from Jemma Nix the orphan to Jemma Nix the leader and keeping the story interesting and exciting.

I can't imagine where things will lead to next.

I'd recommend this to anyone who likes Paranormal and Mythical adventures and even Sci-Fi. Probably not so much recommendation for those who need there SF to be hard as in well explained.

J.L. Dobias

Monday, June 3, 2013

Review:Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

This is an old book,a classic. Published around 1872 and about 25 years before Bram Stoker's Dracula. This is a must read for all vampire lovers.

I would consider this to be quite mild compared to many of today's versions of the Genre but there are many elements that still come through to today.

One of these that shows up markedly in Camilla is the lustful sexual nature of vampirism. In this instance it is of particular note in that there are undertones of lesbianism within the writing. Although it is circumspect enough, understandable for the time it was written, that it could be construed as a relationship of very close friends. It could even be considered as a cautionary tale about such friendships leading to no good.

This also chronicles the nature of the vampire stalking its prey with a persistence and a predatory nature that borders on both excessive compulsion to strange desire. It plays into the hypnotic nature of the vampire to the intended victim and the almost helplessness of that victim to recognize the danger they are in.

We also see that little bit about poking fun at itself in that there is an added explanation that when the vampires are among society they look normal and health as opposed to pale cyanic.

In their casket and grave they are still somewhat lifelike faint breathing but are surrounded by a pool of blood.

To be killed, they are staked and beheaded.

The story takes place in Styria a state in Austria. Laura and her father live in a remote castle whose nearest neighbor is an abandoned village where the family of Karnstein once lived.

Laura begins her story by recounting a nightmare she had as a child where a strange but beautiful woman comes to her bed. It starts out as a delightful comforting experience until she feels two needles poke her near her breast.

Fast forward to a young adult and she shows us how isolated and lonely her home is. She is hopeful for a visit from their friend, General Spielsdorf's, niece, Bertha Rheinfeldt. Much to her horror and dismay a letter is received explaining Bertha's untimely death. All of this figures into the story.

As fortune might have it one day while enjoying the evening air and the moonlight. This scene sounds like its straight out of those old black and white movies we loved so much and stayed up late watching on tv. A mist like smoke over the low ground like a transparent veil. Only in the story Laura makes it sound beautiful instead of foreboding. A carriage, almost out of nowhere, arrives in a seeming hurry that causes it to have a near catastrophe.

From the carriage come a stately lady and her, purported, daughter. The lady has some immense secret emergency and she fears taking her injured and sickly daughter too far. This seems to play on Laura's father's sense of chivalry and he offers to take the girl into his home to have Laura's governess take care of her and to afford companionship for Laura.

It is not until later inside the castle home that Laura discovers the face of this woman matches the face in her dream. Despite the horror it gives her Laura is inexplicably drawn to this woman. They become fast friends though many times the liberty that Carmilla takes with that friendship cause Laura uneasy feelings.

Camilla seems to be afflicted with some sort of illness and always seems weak. She is paranoid and has to lock herself in her bedroom at night, alone. She doesn't rise until around noon. She often lapses into moods where she expresses a very deep affection for Laura.

When reports start coming in of some malady killing women in a nearby village and Laura begins to have dreams similar to the one she had so long ago. Laura begins to feel tired and desperate, thinking she may be suffering from the unexplained illness that is going around.

It is not until the General comes back to the area to visit that things begin to unfold and make sense. But, Laura is conflicted by here feelings for Carmilla when she hears what must be the truth.

There is an interesting, perhaps signature aspect in this story. The vampire seems to go by names that are anagrams of her original name. Millarca, Mircalla, and Carmilla.

Any aficionado of Vampires should read this book to delve into the root of the earliest published tales of this type of fiction.

If I have one disappointment from this; it's that there seem to be a group of people aiding this creature in getting ingratiated with their victims who are mentioned and noted in two different instances but we never know what their true role is in all of this.

J.L. Dobias

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Review:Water (The Akasha Series) by Terra Harmony

Water (The Akasha Series) by Terra Harmony

I liked this book, most of it anyway. But it is first and foremost a Psychological Thriller from the very start. There are a number of other Genre Elements but this is a study of how Kaitlyn acts to being kidnapped. No matter what else the kidnappers tell her she has been kidnapped and that makes all of them responsible for what happens. How she is treated and how she reacts are all parts of the Psychological horror she's been thrust into.

This is definitely an interesting read that will take many readers out of their comfort zone. I would not recommend this for any of my young adults living at home. I'm not even that sure about the maturity level of those out of the home. Most of the earlier part of the novel is alright with questionable elements in the protagonists decision to stay with this group to begin with. There are some spots where it can be argued that she had few choices-or at least believed she had few. There were plenty of places where she was led to believe she could walk away. I wasn't convinced that the reason she stayed was because she was afraid for her life at that moment.

There are a lot of elements in this novel that make it a rough read at best. Kaitlyn is the only reason I stayed with this book. She definitely comes of as a strong female character with a lot of guts and determination. She initially comes off as a person who has isolated herself to a point that she has no relationships of any merit. She keeps men at at couple of arms distance away. Yet, it seems that inexplicably she is kept captive because she is drawn to Micah.

As the story goes Kaitlyn is out skiing by herself without anyone really knowing what she had planned and she is caught in a snow-slide and buried, left to think she will die all alone. This seems like an unfortunate accident, but we later learn that she might be causing disasters such as this one. This is all a setup for her and us to feel better when she finds she's still alive. Feeling better about it lasts only a fleeting moment.

Now this talent of her's may make her dangerous. Up until now apparently not dangerous enough that the people watching her are worried. Still now that they have taken her from this disaster they have her locked up and drugged and hindered with the excuse that she's too dangerous to be out on her own. Except at first they don't tell her that they just continually treat her like some hostage. Which is why it makes it hard to understand why her decision is to stay with these crazies when they offer her an out.

It's possible that the offer isn't real. But she doesn't give it much consideration even while believing it is legitimate. It seems she has some major flaw in her personality or something is awry that's made her infatuation for Micah and her curiosity outweigh her safety.

Add to this that she's been attacked by a pervert, Shawn,who mutilates Kaitlyn and promise to do more. I was really hoping, by her demonstrated force of personality,she'd be asking for the first boat or flight or horse out of there and suggesting they need to euthanize the bastard. Kaitlyn seems to have some character flaw though that prevents this.

It seems related to that same thing that makes her fall for Micah- this is someone who has handcuffed her to the bed a couple of times.

Aside from those things I liked the notion of the Gaia the seven and the Chakra. I'm just having no confidence in Cato and Micah and Shawn. It doesn't help at all when they seem so blase about what Shawn has done that he is still in the picture even after they have such compelling evidence. But, what am I saying? These are the people who have kidnapped Kaitlyn, for her own good of course, so maybe they shouldn't be expected to do anything about that.

I did like Susan, but she's Micah's sister so I'm suspicious of her.

Kaitlyn will need to work on controlling her powers and that includes the power to make better choices. That's not going to happen until after a whole lot of things go south.

It's the last quarter of the book that gets really rough. I really do think that Kaitlyn is learning a few things, but it's all done the hard way.

I'm hoping things go better for her in the future of this series. I will definitely read the next part.

If you like Psychological Suspense Thrillers and mystical magic earth type Eco stories you will like this, but you'll have to endure some mature and rough parts, so beware.

J.L. Dobias