Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hurst (The Hurst Chronicles #1) by Robin Crumby

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*

First Impression: Dark days of a pandemic apocalypse - this should be good!

Characters: This is an action driven story in the aftermath of a plague, so the characters are appropriately world-weary with a twinge of hope. They are all distinct and unique in my head, which makes them believable.

World Building: Crumby has a knack for painting the scene. From the crumbling castle fortresses to deserted towns, the reader is transported to a bleak future Earth.

Writing Style: Relatable. Relevant. Riveting. The three R's of an excellent read. From pop culture references to vivid descriptions, Robin Crumby quickly became one of my favorite authors.

What I Enjoyed: Hurst is fast-paced and sometimes even humorous. Levity in dark places is a perfect break for enjoyment. This book has something for everyone.

Deal Benders: It is rare that I can't find much to improve upon, but honestly cannot think of anything I didn't care for in Hurst.

Overall Rating: 5 stars, all the stars! Cannot wait to read Hurst Chronicles #2!

For Fans Of: Post-apocalyptic action, suspense, and a little mystery.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Paradox: The Alien Genome by H.S. Rivney

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.*

First Impression: I'm a sucker for space travel and futuristic science.

Characters: The astronauts contrast in a natural way with the other world species. Relationships between the two tribes of people develop towards an interesting surprise or two!

World Building: Little touches like flora and fauna on a new planet paint a vivid picture in Paradox. The science and medicine are intriguing to contemplate, and I really enjoyed understanding Earth's biology while being transported elsewhere.

Writing Style: Rivney has great imagination and an understanding of giving characters backstory. The dialogue is sometimes lacking, but the characters communicate and grow in other ways...much like learning a new language. This isn't always easy to accomplish in sci-fi.

What I Enjoyed: I would like to spend some time on Beta Hydri IV, to get away from Earth awhile. Hopefully I could come back with something wonderful to share. I also enjoyed the science and genetics discussions.

Deal Benders: Sometimes the alien language was a bit distracting. It seemed like the author was trying too hard to make the villagers different. I would have liked more description of Beta Hydri IV - not only the villagers and plant life. The moons and other scenes were a good start in that direction, but were over too soon.

Overall Rating: 3 stars because I liked the science and characters.

The Laptev Virus by Christy Esmahan

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*

First Impression: Virology and pandemic fiction is very interesting and scary in a good way!

Characters: Characters mainly unfold through dialogue, and are more archetypes than fully developed.

World Building: The focus here is viruses and how they work. This book offers a backdrop for what could plausibly happen in the future. I appreciated the political pulse of global warming and fracking awareness, and one of the possible side effects.

Writing Style: Esmahan writes from a scientific perspective - very educational and thorough. If you have a teen or young adult interested in science, or you want to get them interested in science, this might be a great read.

What I Enjoyed: The Laptev Virus made me think...about the state of our world and the natural consequences of unnatural progress. If you want to understand bacteria and viruses, how they work, and the study of virology this is a good anecdotal read.

Deal Benders: I wanted to like this book, but at my level it was just okay. Certain repetitions to remind the reader of something stated earlier were unnecessary. I enjoy hard science with my fiction, but am going to need a little more story and fiction to keep my attention.

Overall Rating: 2.5 stars because there is nothing outright wrong with this book. It just wasn't what I thought, and I didn't catch the bug.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Aries by Lara Giesbers

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*

First Impression: Such a magical cover and intriguing premise about supernatural gifts bestowed on mankind by God.

Characters: Connected families, their relationships, and their enemies are all unfolded in a tale that evokes Downton Abbey crossed with the Salem Witch Trials. The characters are simple in nature, yet rich in spirit. I found myself wishing for a simpler time when people had convictions.

World Building: I imagined scrolling castle hills and markets of time gone by. I appreciate the character driven story line as the scene.

Writing Style: Giesbers writes with ease and wistful dialog. Bible verses are quoted throughout in character conversations, which is great for anyone interested in real world application of biblical passages.

What I Enjoyed: The heartbreaking tension between grief and joy was displayed with innocence throughout Aries. I adored the relationships and social commentary warnings hauntingly appropriate for today's climate.

Deal Benders: Although the characters were drawn in a simpler time, I would have like to see more depth. Sometimes it felt they were a little one-dimensional, even if each in their own dimension.

Overall Rating: 4 stars because I appreciate well-done historical fiction and whimsy.

For Fans Of: Downton Abbey, any historical or christian fiction.

The Tethering (Bound by Blood Book One) by Jeremy R. Strong

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*

First Impression: I have run into some beautiful covers lately, and they really make me want to know more about the story inside.

Characters: Humanity has evolved and devolved sometime in the future. Mystical creatures with distinct and imaginative personalities are ready to meet the reader. I really rooted for Tiger and her brother, just as the reader should for main characters.

World Building: A dark world full of danger and despair pairs well with beautiful prose in this first novella installment.

Writing Style: I read this in a few sittings, which probably took a total of a few hours. The narrative and dialogue left me wanting more. Much of this book reads like a Shakespearean dream or a fable.

What I Enjoyed: Strong doesn't reveal everything, but gives enough clues for the reader to follow along on the journey. I could imagine the new world around me as I read about the flora and fauna of the future.

Deal Benders: Some details were confusing, but still enjoyable. I would like to know more about how humanity got to its present state, and what the heck are Watchers?

Overall Rating: 4 stars for a delightful adventure and excellent writing. (less)

Fatherland by Robert Harris

This book was recommended and given to me by a professor, very thoughtful grad present!

Fatherland is a departure in alternate history. What would happen if the Nazi regime wasn't defeated, and Hitler was allowed to reign supreme in Europe?

First Impression: Alternate history is always intriguing, as it makes us think about the outcome of choices.

Characters: March is the main protagonist, with a lifetime of bad decisions leading up to the ultimate question: What is loyalty, and does it override human decency? I found many of the other characters forgettable, which is perhaps the intent.

World Building: The world doesn't seem much changed in ways of thinking, but I enjoyed imagining a world where JFK wasn't assassinated and other such idiosyncrasies. Picturing the state of the world was not difficult if Germany had won the war.

Writing Style: Very straight-forward with a bit of mystery.

What I Enjoyed: The idea of uncovering Nazi secrets in an alternate world where they win was very intriguing. I'm so thankful, without spoilers, that they were defeated.

Deal Benders: I found myself wanting to know more about the alternate reality and how different things were. I struggled to stay focused on the mystery and intrigue because quite frankly I became bored.

Overall Rating: I liked it, so three stars seems appropriate. If the focus on world building was a bit more focused on the alternate reality, it could have been better.

For Fans Of: The Man in the High Castle

Rim War (Subversion Book One) by Kadin Seton

First Impresson: Beautiful cover, sci-fi space saga, yes please!

Characters: Millie is a believable heroine whose end-of-life gets turned upside down. I don't want to give away spoilers, so I'll just say she finds herself starting a new chapter with a crew of well imagined cohorts. Even the villains are intriguing. I would like to know more about the evil alien race terrorizing the galaxy.

World Building: Seton draws you into a futuristic time when Earth has discovered life outside our solar system, and it's every bit as wonderful and terrifying as we'd imagine. This is the hardest part to craft, and I was fully submersed - well done!

Writing Style: Straight-forward story-telling, worthy of anyone's shelves. All reading levels and walks of life will understand and rush through this first installment at light speed...then end up wanting more.

What I Enjoyed: Space tech, alien species, and artificial intelligence. I appreciated the way Seton crafts a believable future that delights the imagination.

Deal Benders: The main thing I didn't care for was the egregious sex scenes. I felt they were a bit too detailed for the average reader who doesn't necessarily like to mix their sci-fi with sensual stories. This is rated R for adults.

Overall Rating: Solid 4 stars for this first book, eagerly awaiting book two in the series!

For Fans Of: Firefly, Ender's Game