Book Review: Not Dead Yet by Samie Sands

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Title: Not Dead Yet
Series: AM13 Outbreak Series Book #4
Author: Samie Sands
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Post-Apocalyptic

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Purchase Links:

    

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Not Dead Yet
AM13 Outbreak Series Book #4
Samie Sands
CreateSpace, June 2017
ISBN 978-1548162498
Trade Paperback

From the author—

The AM13 Outbreak has affected everywhere, the entire world has experienced infection.

Victims of the virus are no longer human, they’ve changed, become something scientifically impossible. With their loss of human function and their new lust for flesh, there’s only one word to describe them…

Zombies.

The world is divided as everyone tries to work out how to survive. Many have already lost their lives 
in the fight, but there are still a few who are not dead…

Yet!

This book is a little different from many because each chapter brings us a new scenario with new characters. In some ways, that’s good since we get to see how people around the world cope with what has become a full-scale zombie apocalypse. On the other hand, it means I couldn’t make any real connection with any of them.

In another departure from the norm, each protagonist reacts in different ways, some of which really got my attention, like the one who’s actually devolving into a zombie after being bitten. One character has a perhaps hopeless belief that she can find her way back to a loved one through hundreds of miles of devastation and zombies; another is a bit of a warrior who’s flummoxed when he comes across a pregnant woman.

A lot of the author’s attention is on other things going on with the characters besides the virus and I did appreciate that but, when all is said and done, this book left me a little dissatisfied because each chapter ends with no resolution and I really wanted to know what happened to each person. The ending, though, came in proper zombie fashion so, all in all, I enjoyed Not Dead Yet with some reservations.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2017.

About the Author

Samie Sands is a 28 year old freelance graphic designer who has recently decided to follow her lifelong dream and use her creativity in a new way by writing.

She has a degree in Media Studies and PR and has already had articles published in a number of e-zines, including one of the most popular pieces at Zombie Guide Magazine. She has also had short stories included in a number of successful projects.

She lives in a small seaside town in the UK, but loves to travel to gain inspiration from new places and different cultures.

Author Links:

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Wattpad * Amazon * Goodreads

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Book Review: Flashtide by Jenny Moyer

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Title: Flashtide
Series: Flashfall #2
Author: Jenny Moyer
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: November 14, 2017
Genre:  Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:

         

         

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Flashtide
Flashfall #2
Jenny Moyer
Henry Holt and Company, November 2017
ISBN 978-1-6277-9483-1
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Orion has survived the tunnels of Outpost Five, filled with mutant creatures and dangers around every bend. She has traversed the cordons, exposed to the radiation of the flash curtain and hunted by forces that want her stopped, dead or alive. Now, with Dram by her side, she has made it to the safety of the mountain provinces, where free Conjurors live and practice their craft of manipulating matter.

But Orion’s story is far from over.

With the effects of the flashfall spreading and the might of the protected city of Alara looming, Orion must travel into the hands of her enemies once again.

When I read Flashfall, the first book in this duology, a year ago. I was especially impressed by the relationship between Orion and Dram. That was largely because these teens both had to grow up all too quickly but they didn’t let their dire circumstances influence the way they felt about and depended upon each other. They truly trusted each other and that lent an air of maturity to their alliance.

I’m glad to say that, even though they’re no longer in the mines and now have to deal with other very difficult issues, they haven’t lost that trust. Even when these two aren’t together, they take comfort in knowing everything is just a little bit easier because they have each other. The other thing I particularly like about this sequel is the way Orion and Dram have evolved into two people who can deal with things such as a severely oppressive society and the resistance that wants to change things. At the same time, they are teens and, naturally, they make mistakes. That’s a given and it leads to a great deal of tension and suspense.

The author made a really good decision in making this a duology. Between the two books, there’s plenty of room for character and plot development but not so much that it begins to feel tired. I wonder what we can expect from her next but I’m quite sure I’ll want to read it 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2017.

About the Author

Jenny is the author of the YA sci-fi/fantasy FLASHFALL, and its sequel, FLASHTIDE. (Holt/Macmillan 11-14-17) She lives with her filmmaker husband and their three boys in Iowa. Watch the epic, live action book trailer for the novel that Booklist calls “A cinematic page-turner.”

Find out more at http://www.jennymoyer.com and connect with Jenny on Twitter and Facebook.

Instagram // Pinterest // Tumblr // YouTube

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Follow the tour:

November 13th
Pink Polka Dot Books– Welcome Post

November 14th
Wishful Endings – Interview
Library of a Book Witch – Review + Playlist

November 15th
The Eater of Books! – Guest Post
It Starts at Midnight – Review + Favourite Quotes

November 16th
A Thousand Words A Million Books – Interview
Don’t Judge, Read – Review

November 17th
biscotto’s books – Review + Favourite Quotes
Buried Under Books – Review

November 18th
A Bookish Abode – Guest Post
Sophie Reads Books – Review

November 19th
YA Obsessed – Review
Literary Meanderings – Promotional Post

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Giveaway

Win a FLASHTIDE pack: signed copies
of Flashtide & Flashfall,
a $50 Gift Card
from Amazon.com and swag (INT)

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Book Reviews: Booke of the Hidden by Jeri Westerson, Gone Gull by Donna Andrews and The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

Booke of the Hidden
Booke of the Hidden #1
Jeri Westerson
Diversion Books, October 2017
ISBN 978-1-63576-050-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

To get a fresh start away from a bad relationship, Kylie Strange moves across the country to open a shop in a seemingly quiet town in rural Maine. During renovations on Strange Herbs & Teas, she discovers a peculiar and ancient codex, The Booke of the Hidden, bricked into the wall. Every small town has its legends and unusual histories, and this artifact sends Kylie right into the center of Moody Bog’s biggest secret.

While puzzling over the tome’s oddly blank pages, Kylie gets an unexpected visitor―Erasmus Dark, an inscrutable stranger who claims to be a demon, knows she has the book, and warns her that she has opened a portal to the netherworld. Kylie brushes off this nonsense, until a series of bizarre murders put her, the newcomer, at the center. With the help of the demon and a coven of witches she befriends while dodging the handsome but sharp-eyed sheriff, Kylie hunts for a killer―that might not be human.

Generally speaking, I don’t gravitate towards witchy books but this one had a couple of things going for it before I even started—the description sounds awesome and I already knew I’d enjoy this because it’s written by Jeri Westerson. If you ask me, Ms. Westerson is one of those authors who is way under-recognized and I’ve been happy with everything by her I’ve ever read.

When Kylie finds that book, she does what anybody would do, she opens it. What follows—a coven of witches, a possible demon, murder and a bit of romance—turn this find into something quite out of the ordinary but Kylie keeps her cool, for the most part, and her interactions with Erasmus are often laugh out loud funny. Even the name of the town, Moody Bog, draws out a smile and, while the pacing is a little on the slow side, I chalk that up mostly to setting things up for the books to come. I came to feel really attached to the kind of creepy but appealing Moody Bog and its inhabitants and to the story that leads Kylie and her new “friends” down a most unlikely path on the way to solving the murder.

So, did Booke of the Hidden live up to its description? Yes, it certainly did and its essential differences from Ms. Westerson‘s other work make this a really fun departure from her  straightforward historical mysteries. Despite my slight aversion to witch-related stories, I’ll definitely be back for the next book in the series.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2017.

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Gone Gull
A Meg Langslow Mystery #21
Donna Andrews
Minotaur Books, August 2017
ISBN 978-1-250-07856-8
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Meg is spending the summer at the Biscuit Mountain Craft Center, helping her grandmother Cordelia run the studios. But someone is committing acts of vandalism, threatening to ruin the newly-opened center’s reputation. Is it the work of a rival center? Have the developers who want to build a resort atop Biscuit Mountain found a new tactic to pressure Cordelia into selling? Or is the real target Meg’s grandfather, who points out that any number of environmentally irresponsible people and organizations could have it in for him?

While Meg is trying to track down the vandal, her grandfather is more interested in locating a rare gull. Their missions collide when a body is found in one of the classrooms. Can Meg identify the vandal and the murderer in time to save the center’s name―while helping her grandfather track down and rescue his beloved gulls?

You would think that this series would have begun to show signs of becoming stale and tired by now but that hasn’t happened. Donna Andrews has the magic touch and always seems to come up with fresh ideas and new things to laugh about but the early books still stick with me, especially particular characters beyond Meg.

This time, we have to get along without some of the old regulars (although two of my favorites, Spike the Small Evil One and Meg’s dad, are here) because Meg has gone out of town but her grandparents do a lot to make up for the missing. Meg’s blacksmithing has taken something of a back seat over the course of the series but it’s central to the story in Gone Gull as she’s agreed to teach classes for a few weeks at her grandmother’s new craft studio. Unfortunately, someone seems to have it in for the center, perpetrating small acts of sabotage, and no one is sure who’s doing it. Then Meg discovers a body and the real sleuthing begins.

I have to say the mystery to be solved isn’t as much in the forefront as the wild and quirky activities of the characters but it’s still a good one with some twists and turns to keep the reader occupied while chuckling at what’s going on. Oh, and the gull referred to in the title? That bird and Meg’s grandfather are the source of more than a few laugh out loud moments and, for me, was the icing on the cake. Having said that, I’ll be glad if we have Meg back in her usual surroundings next time.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2017.

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The End We Start From
Megan Hunter
Grove Atlantic, November 2017
ISBN 978-0-8021-2689-4
Hardcover

From the publisher—

As London is submerged below floodwaters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, she and her baby are forced to leave their home in search of safety. They head north through a newly dangerous country seeking refuge from place to place. The story traces fear and wonder as the baby grows, thriving and content against all the odds.

It doesn’t happen often but, every once in a while, I encounter a book that just leaves me cold and this is one of them. On the surface, I should have loved it because it’s apocalyptic (one of my preferred subgenres) and follows the physical as well as mental/emotional journey of a young family trying to cope with a world gone sour. To my dismay, I couldn’t connect with this in any way.

Characters, worldbuilding and plot are the three main components of any work of fiction and there is an interesting plot here in that the protagonist and her husband and baby are forced to find a way to escape the floodwaters and the devastation that has crushed London and the English countryside. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no worldbuilding; we know the water has risen to submerge much of England but that’s all we know. What caused this? A meteor strike, global warming, some dastardly act of a mad scientist, an alien attack of some sort? It’s hard to really feel what the survivors have to deal with when we know so little.

Worst of all, the characters are close to being cardboard cutouts when no one even has a name, just an initial. To me, this is a writing style that is almost pretentious and, coupled with the first person present tense that I so dislike, well, I just didn’t care very much. I find this happens fairly frequently when I read what’s called “literary fiction”.

The one thing that helps to lift this above the abyss is the author’s attention to the bonds between mother and child and she does that extremely well. I think perhaps that was intended to be the core theme and the apocalyptic elements just got in the way. Certainly, a lot of readers and inhabitants of the publishing world have a much more favorable reaction and, although I didn’t care much for this story, I think Megan Hunter is an author to watch..

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2017.

Book Review: End of an Era by Robert J. Sawyer

Continue reading

Book Review: Interpretation by Dylan Callens

Interpretation
Dylan Callens
Cosmic Teapot Publishing, August 2017
ISBN 978-1-988762-12-8
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Carl Winston awakens to find his son, Liam, screaming with fear. Trying to understand why, Carl tries to soothe him. Neighbors gather in front of Carl’s apartment to help – until they see him. The crowd cowers back, afraid of this monster.

Carl runs. His life of luxury is ripped away. Forced beyond the city limits, Carl sees a land bereft of life. Traveling in search of answers, his quest comes to a sudden halt when he collapses. As darkness shrouds him, a figure hovers from above.

Traveling along the same route, Eva Thomspon finds Carl and nurtures him back to life. Together, they continue the journey, finding out that their lives have too much in common to be a coincidence. As their affection for each other deepens, an unknown nemesis attempts to remove their only source of happiness – their love for each other.

It’s just a test, right? A test that Carl has to take once a year, ordered by the Government, is intended to show that all is well with him, especially mentally, and the inkblots and questions could have many different answers, open to interpretation. Unfortunately for Carl, that interpretation bodes very ill for him and he’s soon living in his own personal nightmare. His flight from this new reality takes him straight to a truth no one wants to hear, that the government he thinks has his best interest at heart is actually focused entirely on controlling the humans that created it in the first place. It’s technology gone mad.

In an interesting stylistic approach, the author gives us Carl’s perspective and that of the different parts of the government. We see how those parts have become all-powerful and progressively more threatening without humans having any real understanding of what has happened.

There are alarming notes along the way such as “1984 Congressional hearing notes—Man does not have the right to develop his own mind” that gave this storyline an immediacy that heightened my discomfort, a feeling that the possibility of such a thing happening isn’t entirely remote. Offsetting this futuristic menace is the Roman Coliseum aspect in which rebels have to fight to the death while the crowd of citizens becomes more and more frenzied with bloodlust.

Although I enjoyed Interpretation on the whole, a few things did get in my way. There are occasional grammar and spelling missteps such as”Flexing his chest, a small crowd of women wooed in the mall’s entrance” and “lude” instead of “lewd”. An overabundance of odd phrases regarding smiles, such as “Dan pulled his lips up to his ears” and “a rubbery grin” and “smiled a rubbery grin” made me feel as though perhaps a writing habit of the author’s had escaped editorial notice. Still, despite these small annoyances, Mr. Callens has created an imaginative if fearful future that turned out to be a more than interesting read.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2017.

Book Review: H.A.L.F.: Origins by Natalie Wright

Origins
H.A.L.F. Book 3
Natalie Wright
Boadicea Press, August 2017
ISBN 978-15453-7109-1
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Tex and Erika are again fugitives, on the run for their lives. But when Tex falls gravely ill, a Navajo healer is Tex’s only hope for survival. He emerges from the ordeal changed in body and mind and with vital information: how to stop the predatory M’Uktah from destroying those he has come to love.

Erika Holt seeks a respite from the constant threats to her life but she’s not about to give up. As she and Tex launch a mission to shut down the galactic highway used by invaders, she grows closer to her troubled half-alien companion. But what about her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Jack?

Jack Wilson, with his new friend Anna Sturgis, is determined to put an end to the Makers’ schemes for world domination. Complicating matters, the valuable medicine to counter the alien virus has been stolen.

As both alien and human forces line up against them, the destiny of all humankind is hand the hands of these young warriors. And time is running out.

Natalie Wright captured my attention two years ago with the first book in this trilogy, The Deep Beneath. Her plot was creative and compelling but what really appealed to me was her character, H.A.L.F. 9, who is a hybrid alien/human intended for unpleasant behaviors but who has an unplanned vulnerability. After an encounter in the Arizona desert with three humans, 9 began to connect in unexpected ways with Erika, Jack and Ian and the humans develop a desire to protect 9. While I really enjoyed the straight-forward science fiction storyline, it was these four characters that meant the most to me.

A lot happened in that first book, leading to capture and imprisonment and a voyage into an unknown future. In Makers, the second book, Erika and Ian were forced onto a spaceship while Jack and Tex, the name chosen for 9, were left behind on earth to face their own dangers. This book made the plot electrifying while the characters became even more real and appealing. Ms. Wright‘s concept solidified into a truly adventurous story that let the reader take part, if you will, in the emotions and action that have marked it as science fiction that’s accessible to all.

Now, the danger of world domination by the aliens, as well as the missing medicine for the virus, propel the friends into looking for ways to fight back against the aliens and a contingent of humans who are no less threatening. Along with an intriguing plot, the characters, including secondary players, are intensely interesting and often unpredictable and the romantic elements that have been developing from the beginning are even more absorbing. This is a love triangle that has real depth to it, unlike what we often see.

Origins ends satisfactorily although with a good deal of sadness and the one major unanswered question is part and parcel of this kind of story. The author seems to have ended this tale but I hope that, perhaps someday, she’ll offer more since I know I’m going to miss Erika and her friends and colleagues.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2017.

Book Review: Tainted Cure by Ashley Fontainne

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Title: Tainted Cure
Series: The Rememdium Series Book 1
Author: Ashley Fontainne
Publisher: RMSW Press
Publication Date: January 31, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic

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Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks
     Audible // Amazon // Indiebound      

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Tainted Cure
The Rememdium Series Book 1
Ashley Fontainne
RMSW Press, January 2016
ISBN 978-0692633106
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Scientists attempted to find a cure for addiction. They failed.

Dr. Everett Berning, a leading researcher into the causes of addiction in the brain, spent ten years of his life dedicated to one thing: finding the cure. Recruited after a strange encounter with the enigmatic Dr. Roberta Flint, Director of Research on Code Name: Rememdium, Dr. Berning is sent to work in a secret lab as part of the research team.

When the moment the scientists waited on for years arrives, Dr. Flint and her team are ecstatic. 

Unfortunately, not everyone in the world feels the same way.

Benito San Nicholas isn’t ready to give up his lucrative business. When the news of a cure arrives on his doorstep from a crooked informant, Benito enlists the help of other drug lords from around the world to stop the cure from hitting the streets and destroying their livelihoods.

What happens next ends up uniting the globe–just not the way society ever intended or hoped.

Be careful what you wish for…that could have been the tagline for this novel in which a potential cure for addiction is found. Imagine that, a chance to rid the world of so many problems that arise from our dependence on anything you can think of, whether it be chocolate, smoking, particular kinds of exercise, illegal drugs, just about anything. Sounds great doesn’t it?

Such an advancement might very well be a wonderful thing but we all know how this is going to turn out, right? We’d like to think that the government would have proper control and the right intentions but somehow, there nearly always seems to be a glitch and, in this case, that glitch is enormous with consequences beyond anything we could predict.

Surely anybody with half a brain would foresee that the world’s drug lords wouldn’t just stand around and watch this happen—not to mention some other powermongers—and, when the cure falls into their hands, some really terrible things start to happen. Instead of curing addictions, a brand new affliction appears—zombies.

Yes, zombies! I love zombie fiction and Ms. Fontainne came up with a nifty idea, basing the whole concept on well-intentioned people trying to do a good thing (although you know there are going to be some shady things going along with the good) and then the good thing goes very, very wrong (gee, have we seen that happen in real life?). Naturally, there no easy answers and I’m going to have to read Book 2 to see what happens next. I think I can force myself 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2017.

About the Author

Award-winning and International bestselling author Ashley Fontainne enjoys stories that immerse the reader deep into the human psyche and the monsters lurking within each of us. She writes in numerous genres including mystery, suspense, horror, sci-fi and sometimes poetry.

Ashley lives in Arkansas with her husband and is the proud mother of one son and three daughters.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Google+
* Instagram
* Pinterest * Amazon * Goodreads

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