Book Review: Simple by Dena Nicotra @DenaNicotra @AnAudiobookworm

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Title: Simple
Series: Simp, Book 1
Author: Dena Nicotra
Narrator: Kendra Murray
Publication Date: July 1, 2020
Genres: Science Fiction

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Simple
Simp, Book 1
Dena Nicotra
Narrated by Kendra Murray
Dena Nicotra, July 2020
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Nothing simple is real. You will look twice at people…and technology.

The idea of making life simple appealed to the mainstream. After the economic collapse of the 21st century, the government latched on to technology like an economic lifeline. Bio-synthetic humanoids integrated into society with relative ease. Taking on the menial jobs, humans grew dependent on their android counterparts, but the corporate sector took things too far. Wrapped in their one-click comfort zones, people trudged along with their lattes and fashion trend blinders.

The dark side of genetic engineering is a harsh reality. Humans are being hunted. They don’t stand a chance.

No one seemed to notice that they weren’t acting as hospitable as they once had. They should have. They didn’t have weaknesses like we did, and, they were capable of clever, unimaginable cruelty.

Those that have survived call the rogue bio-synthetic humanoids “simps” because the company that started the mess had a cheesy marketing campaign that said they made life “Simple”. They couldn’t have been more wrong. When the war broke out, simps were used to spare human losses. It was viewed as a brilliant solution until a developer working for the enemy infected the simps with a virus that caused them to turn on the humans they served. They couldn’t shut them down fast enough.

Hailey Pachello doesn’t do people. She relies on herself because it’s easier. It’s safer, and it’s less dramatic. That is until she meets Leonard ‘Gizzard’ O’Malley. Giz has connections and a plan, and it might just be a good one.

Join Hailey as she embarks on her wondrous adventure, in a timeless, powerful, and memorable cyberpunk thriller. 

Fans of Isaac Asimov will appreciate this fast past thriller, although the three laws of robotics never applied to simps! This cyberpunk tale is set in the year 2038.

Ever since our first stay-at-home started, along about mid-March, I’ve had trouble getting much satisfaction out of reading and I know I’m not alone. I hear about it online and in Zoom book club meetings and it’s really frustrating; as best as I can explain it in my own case, it seems to be an inability to focus, to really get involved with what I’m reading. With only a handful of exceptions, most books have struck me as lackluster and, while I know the problem is me, not the books (for the most part), the end result is the same.

Then along came Simple and, oh my, Dena Nicotra, aided by Kendra Murray’s fine narration, has taken me to a place I’ve missed—booklove. Can I point to anything in particular? No, I just got completely caught up with a terrific plot and characters who grabbed my attention, brought to vivid life by Ms. Murray’s distinct voices and spot-on sense of pacing. Ms. Nicotra’s worldbuilding is pretty darned good, too—I’d like to know more about how people first became so dependent on androids but the author gave enough background that I didn’t really feel a lack.

Lee (Hailey) is a young woman I would love to know in real life, complex with a backbone of steel and a desire to not have to care about anybody. She fails at that but she also has the intelligence and street smarts to survive in this war against droids gone bad and, when she falls in with Mic and Giz, the action starts to ramp up seriously. Then there’s my next favorite character, Two, and a passel of bad guys who also just happen to be full of personality. Oh, and by the way, Ms. Murray’s interpretation of Sonya is, well, perfect.

Technically, this book could be a standalone but I want more so I’m very happy to know there’s a sequel, Real. Now I just need to hope there will be an audio edition…soon.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2020.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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About the Author

Dena Nicotra was born in Southern California and grew up between the busy city and a small town in Arkansas. She is a copywriter, freelance journalist, and holds a degree in Communications. She currently lives in a small desert town in California with her husband and one very spoiled little dog.

She’s mom to two grown sons that she calls her sun and moon. ​When she’s not writing, she can be found in the kitchen cooking up something special for family and friends.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

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About the Narrator

Kendra performed in numerous plays in high school and college, and directed a play for her senior project, which earned her the school Drama Cup. She apprenticed at, and managed the Box Office of the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Mass. She performed, produced and directed radio plays with Petaluma Radio Players. Kendra narrates audiobooks across many genres, as solo narrator and as duet narrators with her husband, Ralph Scott, all available on audible.com.  She frequently “speaks” in character voices for her dog, Gandalf, and her cats, Merlin and Saffira. She has two young adult children and a stepdaughter. Kendra is an avid knitter and spinner, and is very crafty.

Website

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Book Review: The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond @ctrichmond @Scholastic

The Only Thing to Fear
Caroline Tung Richmond
Scholastic Press, September 2014
ISBN 978-0-545-62988-1
Hardcover

Zara’s plan to keep her head down and just plod through life is not working out. Partly due to the fact that she was not raised that way. Largely because of the perplexing, unwanted attention from Bastian. Not just any Nazi, the son of a colonel knows better than anyone that Aryans do not mingle with “sub-humans”. Although she’s not Jewish, to the Germans, as “half-breed stock”, she falls into the same category. Fit for only factory or farm work. Certainly not for fraternizing.

Zara’s earliest memories are of her mother and Uncle Red leading the local Alliance, all efforts into eradicating the Nazi-rule. She could not wait to be old enough to join them. Before she could reach the coveted age, though, a mission went terribly wrong and Uncle Red’s attitude was adversely affected. Compounding an already complex matter, in her grief and frustration, Zara’s power emerged. No one was more stunned than she was to discover that she was an Anomaly.

Select Germans had been gifted with powers enabling them to conquer the Allies so many years ago. The remaining Anomalies serve in an elite division of the Nazi military. When the rare non-Aryan Anomaly is discovered, things are a bit different. That poor soul will be taken to a laboratory to be studied, tested and ultimately dissected.

Zara has two huge secrets to keep if she hopes to stay under the radar of the suspicious Germans. Having Bastian hovering, bugging her, may just be the last straw. Aryans speak to her people for only a handful of reasons, none of them good. Most worrisome; they would never, ever feign interest in the Alliance—even as a sick joke.

She may not know what Bastian is truly up to, but Zara does know that she’s no time for the likes of him. There are brutal deaths to be avenged and one very last chance for her to convince Uncle Red that she belongs with the Alliance.

It’s no wonder I’ve seen The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond on so many students’ To-Read lists. This fast-paced, action-packed, Sci-Fi story of ‘what if’ is simply stellar. And, I absolutely love the atypical ending, which was not gratuitous, but rather allowed the narrative to wrap up a bit more naturally, with an authentic feel.

Reviewed by jv poore, December 2019.

Book Review: Blight by Alexandra Duncan

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Title: Blight
Author: Alexandra Duncan
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication date: August 1, 2017

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Blight
Alexandra Duncan
Greenwillow Books, August 2017
ISBN 978-0-06-239699-0
Hardcover

From the publisher—

When an agribusiness facility producing genetically engineered food releases a deadly toxin into the environment, seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres races to deliver the cure before time runs out.

From the author of the acclaimed American Booksellers Association’s Indies Introduce pick Salvage, which was called “Brilliant, feminist science fiction” by Stephanie Perkins, the internationally bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss. This stand-alone action-adventure story is perfect for fans of Oryx and Crake and The House of the Scorpion.

Seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres has lived on the AgraStar farm north of Atlanta, Georgia, since she was found outside its gates at the age of five. Now she’s part of the security force guarding the fence and watching for scavengers—people who would rather steal genetically engineered food from the Company than work for it. When a group of such rebels accidentally sets off an explosion in the research compound, it releases into the air a blight that kills every living thing in its path—including humans. With blight-resistant seeds in her pocket, Tempest teams up with a scavenger boy named Alder and runs for help. But when they finally arrive at AgraStar headquarters, they discover that there’s an even bigger plot behind the blight—and it’s up to them to stop it from happening again.

Inspired by current environmental issues, specifically the genetic adjustment of seeds to resist blight and the risks of not allowing natural seed diversity, this is an action-adventure story that is Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake meets Nancy Farmer’s House of the Scorpion.

Genetically modified food is kind of a sore subject these days with some appreciating the enhancements and others being diametrically opposed for a number of reasons, not least of which are the known and unknown health risks. In Tempest’s world, not so very far in the future, such food has become the norm and a subclass of people has developed , those who can’t afford this food and must resort to stealing it or distributing contraband. Tempest has found her place in this agriculture-driven reality as a security guard and she’s very good at what she does. She knows herself and what she wants for her future…until the day disaster strikes and she has to make unexpected choices.

Tempest is an intriguing character and has a toughness about her that comes to stand her in good stead. When we first meet her, she seems to be quite focused and, in fact, she has been raised with very little softness or sentimentality. Inside, though, she’s not nearly so self-assured and the many facets of her personality begin to come to the fore; it’s especially interesting to watch her come to terms with some unhappy truths and figure out her place in an uneasy future. Essentially, this is kind of a coming-of-age story and getting to know this girl is what makes Blight a story to remember.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2017.

About the Author

Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian. Her first novel, Salvage, was published April 1, 2014, by Greenwillow Books. Her short fiction has appeared in several Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy anthologies and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty – pie-baking, leatherworking, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi. She lives with her husband and two monstrous, furry cats in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

You can visit her online at http://alexandra-duncan.com/

WEBSITE | BLOG | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

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Follow the tour:

Week One:

7/24/2017- Savings in Seconds– Review

7/25/2017- The Autumn Bookshelf– Interview

7/26/2017- Wandering Bark Books– Excerpt

7/27/2017- A Dream Within A Dream– Review

7/28/2017- Two Chicks on Books– Interview

Week Two:

7/31/2017- Buried Under Books– Review

8/1/2017- The Bewitched Reader– Guest Post

8/2/2017- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

8/3/2017- Kati’s Bookaholic Rambling Reviews– Excerpt

8/4/2017- YABooksCentral– Review

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Giveaway

1 winner will receive a signed hardcover of BLIGHT
plus a set of the gorgeous prints in the photo, US Only.

Enter the drawing here.

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Book Reviews: Noontime Follies by Elizabeth Gunn and Retribution by Richard Sotnick

Noontime FolliesNoontime Follies
A Jake Hines Mystery #10
Elizabeth Gunn
Severn House, July 2015
ISBN: 9780727884961
Hardcover

This author has many crime novels in print. They are all competently written with interesting characters in sometimes unusual locations. The Jake Hines series is particularly interesting in that it follows a lone Mexican with a checkered past who ends up in a small city on the eastern border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Over a period of years Jake Hines gets his life together, becomes a cop, a detective and now head of the investigations squad in Rutherford, Minnesota.

Noontime Follies is a title with someone’s tongue firmly implanted. And even though revealing the inner meaning of the title wouldn’t ruin the plot of the crimes herein, I think it’s more fun and more intriguing to suggest that readers who want an incisive crime novel about human relations and corporate maneuvering ought to read this one.

This novel is, in part, about the corporate development of new genetically engineered food crops which may or may not provide substantial benefits to mankind in the form of better nutrition. The issues are several and do indeed address questions of ethics and morality. After all, mankind, since the beginning, so far as we know, has been trying to improve crop yields, both to enrich the tribe and provide adequate food beyond immediate needs.

Some find that questionable, particularly as to motive, and may be provoked to unusual actions. Noontime Follies raises some interesting questions along those lines as well as its more intimate plot lines. A worthwhile experience with a satisfactory conclusion.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, June 2015.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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RetributionRetribution
Richard Sotnick
Ephesus Publishing, June 2013
ISBN 978-0-9557125-3-1
Trade Paperback

The author is a lawyer from Portsmouth, England. The novel is rooted in the legal arcana of the British legal system. In point of fact, the novel is a lengthy, detailed critique of that system and an examination of the sometimes extensive damage the system does to innocent, wrongly accused, citizens.

Robert Abramsky is a very successful small town attorney who is faced with a client who started a specialized security firm. The security firm is absorbed into a much larger conglomerate and then unethically destroyed. Abramsky out-maneuvers the big firm and in turn destroys the vindictive man responsible. Readers will recognize that the tale will not end there.

Lawyer Abramsky’s main opponent is a nasty, vindictive man with a long memory. Years later, he still seethes over the memory of his destruction, conveniently overlooking the fact that he was, in fact, the guilty party. He determines to destroy Robert Abramsky in a most hurtful way, by ruining his honest reputation as a lawyer and member of the community. Corruption takes many forms and this intriguing novel examines several.

Although the pace of this overlong novel is almost as glacial as the legal system it addresses, the writing is strong enough and the plot is complicated enough to keep many readers engaged. In addition, the characterizations of many of the cast of dozens, is intriguing. Retribution fits its title nicely and the world-wide scope of the story plus the curiously intricate cyber security the author lays out all tends to keep one’s attention. Definitely not a soft summer beach read. Rather, a thoughtful careful examination of important elements of today’s society.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, January 2015.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

A Handful of Teeny Reviews

The Fourth SecretThe Fourth Secret
An Inspector Montalbano Mystery
Andrea Camilleri
Mondadori/Open Road Integrated Media, November 2014
ISBN 978-1-4976-8646-5
Ebook

From the publisher—

In the latest mystery featuring Inspector Montalbano, a deadly accident at a building site prompts a search with shocking revelations 

“Yesterday morning around seven thirty, an Albanian construction worker, age thirty-eight, Pashko Puka, a legal resident with a work permit, hired by the Santa Maria construction company owned by Alfredo Corso, fell from a scaffold that had been erected during the construction of an apartment building in Tonnarello, between Vigata and Montelusa. His coworkers, who immediately rushed to his aid, unfortunately discovered he had died.

There have been six events euphemistically called “tragedies in the workplace” in the past month. Six deaths caused by an inexplicable disregard for safety regulations. When the local magistrate opens an investigation, Inspector Montalbano is on the case. But Montalbano soon discovers that these seemingly unrelated incidents are only part of a larger network of crimes.

Over the years, I have enjoyed the Inspector Montalbano books but this novella really doesn’t stand up to the rest of the series. I found that puzzling because, while Montalbano doesn’t have the pleasing personality of, say, Commissario Guido Brunetti (Donna Leon’s protagonist) or Chief of Police Bruno (Martin Walker), he has never struck me as inept or unpleasant. This time he did.

I had an interest in the investigation from the beginning because of the questions surrounding a warning letter and, of all things, a pedicure, but the story was marred for me by two things, the overuse of profanity and the introduction of characters without any sort of explanation as to who they are or why most of them are surly and almost irrational. It felt as though this plotline was lifted from the middle of a full-length novel.

Then, the lightbulb went off. As it turns out, this was actually written years ago so the characters have not enjoyed the growth and evolution that they have when reading the series in order. The second and far more important problem is the translation from the original Italian. Most of the books are quite well done but the same can not be said of this and it is, in fact, a different translator. Sentences are choppy and sometimes make little sense and the translator did not have a thorough understanding of English. It’s just not a top-notch translation and there’s no doubt that hurts the reader’s reception of the characters and the plot.

In the end, while this is certainly not the worst thing I ever read, it’s not a good representation of the enjoyment to be found in the series as a whole. I’d suggest that anyone meeting Inspector Montalbano with this novella ignore it and start over with the first full-length book, The Shape of Water.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.

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The Iggy ChroniclesThe Iggy Chronicles, Volume One
A Chet and Bernie Mystery eShort Story
Spencer Quinn
Atria Unbound/Atria Books, August 2013
ISBN 978-1-4767-0360-2
Ebook

From the publisher—

Iggy is a dog who doesn’t get out much, so it’s big news when elderly Mr. Parsons knocks on Bernie’s door to say that Iggy has vanished. In the search for Iggy, Chet and Bernie find Mrs. Parsons unconscious on her bedroom floor, in need of urgent medical care. But it’s only when they arrive at the hospital that things get really interesting.

With a jewel thief making short work of hospital patients’ valuables, it seems that Iggy is not alone in disappearing right out from under somebody’s nose. Suspects are plentiful and witnesses are few. But when little Iggy reappears, tail wagging, it turns out he holds the key to solving the entire affair.

There’s a pet food commercial on TV that features a number of dogs running and leaping. I don’t remember the name of the product but I love to watch the dogs and, every time I see it, I just naturally think of Chet because he takes such joy in life, the way those dogs look like they’re doing. Chet—and, of course, Bernie—are two of my favorite detectives and it’s always a treat to see them again.

This time, their neighbor dog (and Chet’s pal), Iggy, has disappeared and his owner is desperate to find him for his very ill wife. Bernie and Chet take on the job and soon find a second mystery to look into. Our heroes make short work of all this (after all, this IS a short story) and I was quite satisfied with this little visit with the guys.

Fair warning to those who count pages—this story takes up 24 0f the 45 pages and the rest is a blurb and excerpt of the following novel, The Sound and the Furry, along with a few other things.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.

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AmbitionAmbition
A Perception Series Prequel
Lee Strauss
Elle Strauss, November 2012
Ebook

From the author—

AMBITION is a short story (5k) prequel to PERCEPTION, capturing the beginning of Noah and Zoe’s story from Noah’s POV.

Eighteen year old Noah Brody doesn’t like GAPs—Genetically Altered Persons. He’s taken up his dead father’s cause, speaking out and protesting against unfair GAP policies that are responsible for the massive social divide between wealthy GAPs and poorer naturals.

If only he could keep his mind off of perfect Zoe Vanderveen, daughter of the GAP family his mother works for.

And can he really fill his father’s shoes?

About a year and a half ago, I read and reviewed a book called Perception, first in a trilogy. It was a young adult dystopian but not at all typical of the subgenre. Usually, these stories revolve around a repressive society and an underlying resistance from the people being downtrodden. In this case, though, the tale centers on class division brought about be genetic alteration that gives a small portion of the populace distinct advantages in appearance, wealth, lifespan, etc. The two primary characters are Zoe, a GAP, and Noah, a natural. The two are worlds apart in status and privilege.

Ambition offers us a brief look at what Noah is all about and his ambivalence about the cause.  He has a near-hatred of the GAPs but how much of his feeling is “inherited” from his father who spoke out for justice and how much due to his beginning attraction to Zoe who doesn’t even remember his name? It reminded me of what I liked about this young man when I read Perception and these few pages have enticed me to get back to the trilogy as soon as I can.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.

 

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The Chapel PerilousThe Chapel Perilous
A Tale of the Iron Druid Chronicles
Kevin Hearne
Kevin Hearne, January 2014
Previously published in Unfettered, 2013
ISBN 978-0-9914238-0-4
Ebook

From the author—

Ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan has had plenty of adventures during his long life, and in “The Chapel Perilous” he shares one of them with his apprentice, Granuaile. He lays out the true story of the quest for the Holy Grail, in which he was personally involved—and the events of which are quite different from the Christian tale most people know today.

While on an errand for Ogma to recover the Dagda’s Cauldron, Atticus confronts evil at a mysterious chapel, takes the first steps to becoming the Iron Druid, and learns the shocking truth about goblin fashion choices.

He was, of course, in terrible peril.

The adventures of Atticus and his faithful hound, Oberon, have entertained me mightily since the very first book, Hounded (although I’m a little less enthused with the most recent one, Shattered) and the accompanying novellas and short stories are always fun, too. The Chapel Perilous continues the tradition.

The whole idea of a Holy Grail that isn’t quite the same Holy Grail we all know about is wonderful, made even more so because it’s set way back before Atticus became the Iron Druid with so much power. There’s not a lot of Oberon in this story and, since I adore him, that made me a little sad at first but then this other critter shows up that had me laughing out loud.  Apple Jack is worth the story all by himself and, even if you’ve never read any of the chronicles, you can still enjoy this fellow.

Is this short story as engaging as the novels? No, of course not, as it’s not possible to have much depth in such a few pages but it’s a nice fill-in between books.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.

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Honor CodeHonor Code
Cathy Perkins
Cathy Perkins, December 2012
ISBN 978-1481035897
Trade Paperback

From the author—

In a small southern town where everyone knows each other’s business, veteran detective Larry Robbins must solve the disappearance of eighty-year-old widower George Beason.

When evidence arises that Beason may have left town on his own, it would be easy for Robbins to close the case, but his gut instinct tells him more’s at stake. As he uncovers clues about Beason’s deceased wife and his estranged daughter, Robbins must untangle conflicting motives and hidden agendas to bring Beason home alive.

A missing man, a murdered pet, a cop’s family issues, retribution—they’re all here in this novella, a standalone. When George Beason disappears and his home seems to have been ransacked, Detective Larry Robbins and his young partner, Jerry Jordan, are puzzled as to whether a crime has occurred or a slovenly old man has simply wandered off but there are enough unresolved questions to keep Robbins looking for answers. The daughter that should be concerned is much less than helpful and it’s hints that older crimes may come into play that draw Robbins and Jordan further into the investigation, even after Beason is caught on a security camera, apparently unharmed.

Reaching back into the past, to events in Baghdad, the author reminds us of how the past is never completely done and can have far-reaching effects many years later. At the same time, family honor sometimes takes precedence over all else but a not quite completely jaded cop can still make a difference in his community. It’s this aspect of Larry Robbins that drew me into the story more than the crimes themselves and I hope we’ll see more of him some day.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.

Book Review: Dragon Rising by Rachel E. Fisher

Dragon Rising Tour Banner

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Title: Dragon Rising
Series: Eden’s Root #4
Author: Rachel E. Fisher
Publication Date: August 8, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction

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Dragon RisingDragon Rising
The Untold Story of Asher Grey
Eden’s Root #4
Rachel E. Fisher
Rachel E. Fisher, August 2014
Ebook Novella

From the author—

In his freshman year at Columbia University, future journalist Asher Grey is forced to face his darkest demons when the world falls to pieces. A champion Tai Chi swordsman, he will be tested to his limits just to survive. With a heavy heart and swift hand, he must reach deep inside himself to discover what it means to be a Dragon.

Asher hasn’t seen his father in months, not since he left Chicago to go to college in New York. Then the world went to hell in a handbasket and his college days became just a memory. Classrooms and books have been replaced by starvation and bloodthirsty gangs and the only way he can stay alive is to keep moving from one hiding place to another. Maybe he should havce tried to walk to Chicago but what if his dad is coming to New York to find him?

Asher is a Night Crawler but he’s about to become a Lifer, fighting in the ring for the right to eat for one more day. The thing is, that might also mean giving up on who he really is.

Dragon Rising is a nice introduction to Asher Grey but also to a number of other characters we meet in the Eden’s Root Trilogy proper. There are a few pitfalls, primarily the lack of any backstory for how the world came to be in this condition. Because I’d already read (inhaled is more like it) the trilogy, I knew what Asher meant by the term “Foodmageddon” but a reader who’s new to the saga would have no idea. This is a novella that gives us the backstory of one character and it would be easy to mistake it as a prequel even though it’s labeled as #4; it is not a prequel in the usual sense and should be read after the first three books or, at the least, after Eden’s Root. Then you’ll just be adding to the pleasure you’ve already gotten  😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2014.

Eden's RootSeeds of WarEmergence

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About the Author

Rachel E. Fisher 2I am a wife and entrepreneur living and working in Florida. I am also a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, where I majored in Biology. It was always my assumption that I would end up making research my life. Though it did not work out that way in the end, my passion for Biology remains intact.

I have always loved biology-based science-fiction and the young adult genre. It is in this vein that I offer my work.

 

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$20 Amazon Gift Card and an ebook of Dragon Rising
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Book Review: The Sowing by K. Makansi—and a Giveaway!

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Title: The Sowing
Series: The Seeds Trilogy, Book One
Author: K. Makansi
Publisher: Layla Dog Press
Publication date: August 19th 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult

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The SowingThe Sowing
The Seeds Trilogy #1
K. Makansi
Layla Dog Press, August 2013
ISBN 978-0989867115
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Remy Alexander was born into the elite meritocracy of the Okarian Sector. From an early age, she and her friends were programmed for intellectual and physical superiority through specialized dietary regimes administered by the Okarian Agricultural Consortium. But when her older sister Tai was murdered in a brutal classroom massacre, her parents began to suspect foul play. They fled the Sector, taking their surviving daughter underground to join the nascent Resistance movement. But now, three years later, Remy’s former schoolgirl crush, Valerian Orleán, is put in charge of hunting and destroying the Resistance. As Remy and her friends race to unravel the mystery behind her sister’s murder, Vale is haunted by the memory of his friendship with Remy and is determined to find out why she disappeared. As the Resistance begins to fight back against the Sector, and Vale and Remy search for the answers to their own questions, the two are set on a collision course that could bring everyone together—or tear everything apart.

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The dynamics of conflicting feelings are really at the heart of The Sowing, especially with regards to the characters’ feelings towards each other but they’re also integral to the multiple plot lines taking place within the story. Confusion runs high and while, as a reader I found myself often confused, that’s also part of what drove me on.

I really connected with the players, especially Remy, Soren and Vale, and sympathized with the way they were at odds and yet drawn together. It must be very difficult to learn that much of what—and who—you’ve believed in your whole life, including friends and family, is just a facade and it’s hardly surprising that animosity and distrust come to the fore. Even parents come under suspicion and, if you can’t trust your own parents, who can you trust?

A murder mystery opens the story and that, in itself, is unusual for dystopian fiction. Certainly death is no stranger in this genre but it’s not usually in the guise of a case that cries out for solving. Remy’s personality has been shaped by the massacre in which her sister died and it’s no wonder that Tai’s death looms ever large in Remy’s mind, especially when the Consortium ramps up the hunt for the Resistance.

The potential dangers of genetically modified food have been used as a plot device in dystopian and/or post-apocalyptic fiction before but the authors give it a special twist here by making it the source of the Consortium’s manipulation of the people. I really enjoyed this fresh theme and also appreciated the ease I found in understanding the biological aspects thanks to clear explanations.

I do think worldbuilding is not as thorough as it could be but, hopefully, some of my questions will be answered in the next book (and, really, I don’t want ALL the answers right away). I don’t know when The Reaping is due to be released but it’s already on my wish list 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2014.

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About the Authors

K. MakansiK. Makansi is the pen name for the writing triumvirate consisting of Amira, Elena, and Kristina Makansi. Two sisters and their mother, the three women developed a passionate interest in science fiction as a way to write about issues of food sovereignty and food justice. Elena is pursuing a degree in environmental studies at Oberlin College in Ohio, and will graduate in May of 2014. Amira was a history student at the University of Chicago whose day job working in the cellar of a winery (and constantly being splattered with wine) keeps her busy when she’s not writing. And Kristy owns and operates Blank Slate Press, an independent publishing company based out of St. Louis, and is a partner at Treehouse Publishing Group, a company providing editorial and design services to aspiring authors. When not writing or reading, the three can be found having animated discussions around the dinner table, sharing a good bottle of wine, or taking long walks in the park eagerly plotting out their next book.

Author Links:

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Follow the tour here.

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Leave a comment below for a chance to win an
ebook copy of The Sowing by K. Makansi! The
winning name will be drawn Friday evening, March 21st
and the book will be sent to the winner after April 16th.

 Please note: this is an ebook copy, not print.

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