The Last Librarian (Book One of the Justar Journal) by Brandt Legg

““I am not running, I am seeking. I am not hiding, I am finding.” “Where do you go? What do you do?” “I’m just dancing with time, and occasionally wrestling with it. Like my daddy used to say, ‘Time’s a funny thing.’ But I’m not laughing.” He sat next to Deuce again. “It’s almost over.””

This is a story set in the future, when all the books except those in the last library have been destroyed. Books are only available digitally now and the government agencies have decided that the last paper books are no longer necessary. The library is scheduled to be destroyed. The Last Librarian is Runit Happerman and he wants to save as many books as he can before ‘they’ come in 10 days to destroy his world, he just needs a little help with that.
His best friend Nelson is an author, he offers to help and gets his sister Chelle Andreas involved too. Runit is concerned about his son Grandyn becoming embroiled in the rebellious act, but is unable to prevent him joining the growing team and also bringing his girlfriend Vida along, as well as his Treerunner colleagues. Surely all those would be enough to achieve the saving of 100,000 books.
There are of course other factors involved, but to write them here would be to spoil the story for the next reader, so trust me when I say that it is a massive task, made difficult by shifting parameters and personal interactions.
The story could be considered a prophetic tale, with the prevalence of digital books, many people nowadays don’t need the paper books anymore. But who keeps the records of what the author intended to be read?
This was an interesting and involving read and I did enjoy my time with it.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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USA Today Bestseller “Never let them catch you reading!”
In the year 2098, there is no more war, no more hunger and no more pollution. The world is secure and Earth’s 2.9 billion people are healthy and happy. There is also only one remaining library that still houses physical books. In addition to the dusty volumes, the library holds many secrets. But the government has decided to shut it down and burn the contents. Unless an unlikely trio can save the books, humanity will lose more than just what is printed on those antique pages.

With a single government ruling the entire planet, one currency, one language and no religion, the population is unified and enjoying the prosperity that comes with more than seven decades of peace. Free healthcare for all and guaranteed employment make the future a dream. But this future may only be safe if they can hide the past. The books must be saved . . . the impossible task is up to an angry author, a brazen revolutionary and the last librarian. When everything is perfect, the only thing left to fear is the truth.

The Lost TreeRunner (Justar Journal #2) available now – The Lost TreeRunner (The Justar Journal Book 2)
The List Keepers (Justar Journal #3) available now – The List Keepers (The Justar Journal Book 3)

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Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

“Since Borne never displayed any kind of threatening behavior, I never thought to take him as a threat.”

This is a book that took me a long time to read, but only because my work/life balance was tipped over.

I enjoyed the story of Rachel and how she found and ‘brought up’, Borne. Also of Rachel’s relationship with Wick, both of them have secrets, both of them are stealing access to each others private space in search of answers.

They live in a world of scavengers, in a world of destruction and wreckage. Rachel makes her ‘living’ scavenging what she can, to enable her and Wick to continue living in their sanctuary apartment block. Wick contributes by manufacturing biotechnology goods to sell – basically the equivalent of a modern day drug dealer (a it of a weird choice of expression I know!).

“I believe in Borne.” I truly do. It struck me as I was reading that I do believe in Borne.

Obviously life is not easy in this post-catastrophic world and things change for Rachel, Wick and Borne – sometimes exponentially. Ultimately things change and life is never the same again. But don’t be despondent life goes on.

This book is extremely well written, with great character construction without being overly descriptive. And did I mention how Borne captivated me. I’d love a Borne to communicate with, as long as it treated me the same as Borne treated Rachel, of course.

I’m sure that a number of my friends will be reading this book very soon (once I tell them about it of course).

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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A novel that is simultaneously harrowing, dark, dangerous, funny and uplifting from the author of the Southern Reach trilogy
“Am I a person?” Borne asks Rachel, in extremis.
“Yes, you are a person,” Rachel tells him. “But like a person, you can be a weapon, too.”
In a ruined, nameless city of the future, Rachel makes her living as a scavenger. She finds a creature she names Borne entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic despotic bear that once prowled the corridors of a biotech firm, the Company, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly, and broke free. Made insane by the company’s torture of him, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers.
At first, Borne looks like nothing at all―just a green lump that might be a discard from the Company, which, although severely damaged, is rumored to still make creatures and send them to far-distant places that have not yet suffered collapse.
Borne reminds Rachel of the island nation of her birth, now long lost to rising seas. She feels an attachment that she resents: attachments are traps, and in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet when she takes Borne to her subterranean sanctuary, Rachel convinces her lover, Wick―a special kind of dealer―not to render down Borne as raw genetic material for the drugs he sells.
But nothing is quite the way it seems: not the past, not the present, not the future. If Wick is hiding secrets, so is Rachel―and Borne most of all. What Rachel finds hidden deep within the Company will change everything and everyone. There, lost and forgotten things have lingered and grown. What they have grown into is mighty indeed.

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The Reckoners by Doranna Durgin

“Once upon a time, Rhonda Rose had opened the door to her power… and taken away her innocence, all in one fell swoop. Once upon a time.”

This book is about ghost hunters and aliens; and that is not a spoiler really. I don’t intend to spoil the story for anyone.

Garrie is bored of her job and is looking for something else for a change of routine. Then a stranger turns up at one of her jobs (with a cat) and not only messes things up, that she has to go back to finish next day, but books her and her team for a job in San Jose.

That job is not defined and, really, Garrie has no idea what she and her team are employed for.

Her client [Trevarr] has a companion; it looks like a cat, but it isn’t. Trevarr and Sklayne are from another world and have a job to do that specifically needs the help of Garrie to complete. They just aren’t telling her what.

Durgin tells the story from the point of view of Nevahn (Trevarr’s foster father), alongside Garrie’s point of view, Trevarr’s and even Sklayne’s.

Sklayne’s way of thinking and communicating is completely different than that of this world and Durgin manages to put this across very well with the use of :: double colon marks either side of Sklayne’s comments, to indicate his non-verbal communications.

Once the reader gets used to this, it is a fun read. I really liked Sklayne, even though he wasn’t one of the two main characters, and hope he continues to appear in subsequent books. He is very self centred and yet still would like to be able to look out for Trevarr.

If you like paranormal, ghost hunter, alien planet -style books, then I’m sure that you will find this book engaging.

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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The Reckoners (Author’s Cut): A powerful ghostbuster raised by a spirit, her brilliantly eccentric backup team, a cat who isn’t a cat at all…and a fiercely driven bounty hunter from a different dimension who brings them together when worlds collide.

Skilled ghosthunter Lisa “Garrie” McGarrity not only sees dead people, she wrangles them into submission. But her beloved ghostly mentor moved on years ago, and the Southwest has gone quiet under Garrie’s hand. Garrie and her team have grown restless and…well, face it. Maybe willing to take a risk or two.

So when the relentlessly mysterious and fiercely driven Trevarr (and his not-cat!) shows up asking for help, Garrie is inclined to listen. And when he describes big trouble at the San Jose Winchester Mystery House, she’s inclined to go with him, even if it splits her team along the way.

But she doesn’t expect a mansion crammed with spirits on the brink of madness, and she doesn’t expect to face off against the powerful and unfamiliar energies of semi-ethereal beings from another dimension. She definitely doesn’t expect the fabric of her own world to unravel around her–with no one but her to stop it.

And truly, she has no idea how deep Trevarr’s secrets run.

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Beneath Burning Sands by P R Adams

“His training classes had taught him the basic premises behind hibernation: blood drained and stored, a brine-like injection replacing the blood, filling the digestive system, and surrounding the body. Then the freezing. Upon thawing the blood would be reconstituted and the injected fluid drained. All excess fluids would be held in a reservoir for analysis, then eventually recycled.”

Reggie wakes from hibernation sleep, noting his slack muscle tone and bemoans the loss of all his hard work sculpting his body.
Then he has to focus on waking his team, or as many as can be woken on the power remaining in the reserve batteries. How does he choose? How and when will he mourn the loss of those he didn’t wake?
And what on earth is making that awful banging sound at the hatchway?
Reggie will find out only too soon!

And he really does. The system that controls the complex has woken his team, and now they must deal with whatever caused the banging. As well as the situation that the project controllers have left them in. And get all the mechanisms, that support life in the habitat, running again.

Reggie doesn’t feel in control, though he really should be. His belief in himself is wavering. Can he get his team through and find out what is going on?

I enjoyed reading this. I had started the proof copy, but re-started once I had the final copy. It was so engaging I didn’t mind reading the first third of the book twice. It is the sort of book that I am able to visualise well because of the quality of the writing; that always enhances the read for me. All in all a truly good story and I am looking forward to the next book coming out.

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Earth is dying and humanity’s only hope of survival will be somewhere among the stars. Ambitious MBA graduate Reggie Lee thought defense contractor Frontierza was a perfect fit for his first job. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Frontierza’s work on advanced hibernation technology for sleeper colony ships isn’t sexy, but what matters to Reggie is that he will have an extremely visible role leading the first team to test the technology in a month-long cryogenic sleep. The proposition is simple. Succeed and humanity has a real chance of finding a new home before Earth’s ecosystem completely collapses. Fail and … you don’t wake up. For someone who lives on the edge, the upside outweighs the risk.

But the world Reggie wakes to is nothing like he expected.

Pick up your copy of this suspenseful post-apocalyptic tale and see what lies Beneath Burning Sands.

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Defective by Autumn Kalquist

“As she fixed her cuff, she touched her wrist where her Protected ID tag was embedded. The slim silicone disc shifted back and forth beneath her light brown skin, a dead giveaway that she was genetically modified.”

I have read this story before, but it has been reworked since i first read the initial draft, and is better for it. But don’t think that it wasn’t a good story to start with, it was superb.
Selene is special and so is her brother Eli. They live with their Nan, off-grid, so that no-one can find them. They scratch out an existence, growing their own food and keeping to themselves.
Then Selene decides to sell some spare food at the road-side, the buyers take her entire offering and pay with (unknown to Selene) marked bits. That means that when Selene tries to spend the bits, they are flagged in the store. She gets away and runs on home with Eli.
Meanwhile, the resistance against the mega corporations are fighting a tough battle in the quarantine zone, not knowing if they will survive the conflict.
Anders is conflicted with his father and sneaks off to his uncle’s when he can. But no-one seems to want to treat him like an adult. All he wants to do is make life difficult for the corporations who control everything. 

I really like Autumn’s creation. It seems a likely world and there are all the human conflicts that you would expect in a realistic construct. I have read some of her other books and found them to be equally enjoyable. A thoroughly recommended series to read.

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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What if you could be immune to any disease?
Genetic modification. Global warming. Pandemics. Famine. Economic collapse. In the early twenty-first century, governments failed worldwide, and humanity entered a dark age. From the wreckage, the Corporate Coalition rose with new hope for humanity and lofty promises to create a better world for all. 

One of their first experiments: Protecteds. Genetically modified children, immune to the diseases that wiped out billions. But something went wrong, and the defective Protecteds have been hunted and imprisoned for eight long years.

Bas is a Protected fighting the Coalition in an underground rebellion. When their top agent goes missing in a mysterious quarantine zone in Georgia, Bas and his team must rescue him… or ensure his secrets die with him.

Selene and her little brother Eli are Protecteds hiding out in Telmont, Georgia, and the quarantine has brought soldiers to their doorstep. Selene will do anything necessary to protect her family… but she’d rather die than give up her freedom. 

Anders hates the Coalition more than anyone else in Telmont, and he’s willing to break the law to fight back. One problem: his dad’s the local Coalition sheriff.

Katherine Raines runs the Coalition and knows what’s really in the quarantine zone… and she’s willing to sacrifice anyone and anything to ensure it never gets out.

Defective is book one of the Fractured Era series.

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The Future Chronicles – Special Edition by Samuel Peralta

“His fingers delicately probe the stitching over his eyelids; the skin has fused together, forming a smooth, unbroken covering.”

I was fancying reading some new authors of sci-fi and a great way to do that is through compilations of short stories. So I thought this set of stories in The Future Chronicles would be a good start, particularly as the foreword is by Hugh Howey, author of ‘Wool’, another book that I previously enjoyed.

The individual stories in the book are:-
“A Dream of Waking” by Sam Best
“The Invariable Man” by A.K. Meek
“#DontTell” by Peter Cawdron
“Defiance” by Susan Kaye Quinn
“Ethical Override” by Nina Croft
“Piece of Cake” by Patrice Fitzgerald
“Imperfect” by David Adams
“Iteration” by Deirdre Gould
“Green Gifts” by Nick Webb
“PePr, Inc.” by Ann Christy
“The Null” by Vincent Trigili
“The Assistant” by Angela Cavanaugh
“Trials” by Nicolas Wilson
“Legacy” by Moira Katson
“The Grove” by Jennifer Foehner Wells
“Humanity” by Samuel Peralta

In the main, I enjoyed each of the books. The ones that really caught my attention were ‘The Grove’, ‘The Assistant’ and ‘PePr, Inc’; just pulling three out there.

I was caught by the idea that a plant-based life form could have free moving, autonomous, independent elements which eventually return to their ‘mother’ form to consolidate. The Grove was a good taster for a universe containing these species, alongside others in the tale.

The Assistant is definitely a warning! All you early adopters of technology, be warned. Make sure that you find a way to build in a safety exit.

But also have some sympathy for those who are created to serve. PePr, Inc reports the difficulties these may experience. Humans can be troublesome things to deal with!

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

3.5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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A Dream of Waking (Sam Best)
Unsuspecting space travellers are captured and entombed in life-support coffins on a massive off-world medical freighter. The prisoners sleep for years at a time while their dreams are harvested as raw energy so that others can stay awake indefinitely. One prisoner’s sleep is interrupted…and he will do anything to stay awake.

The Invariable Man (A.K. Meek)
Old Micah Dresden lives life in the Boneyard of the Desert Southwest, where he fixes broken-down technology in this vast junkyard—until a stranger shows up with rumors of war, echoing the decades-old Machine Wars. To stop it from happening, Micah and his obsessive-compulsive robot Skip must travel to the northern hangars, to where the government has locked away Machine X, which can turn the tide of war. But nothing will prepare him for who he meets there.

#DontTell (Peter Cawdron)
For centuries, people have wondered what it would be like to read someone’s mind. Little have they known, they already have. To see the anguish on someone’s face, to watch tears fall, or hear someone cry and empathize with them—this is the essence of mind-reading. In the 21st century, our natural ability to empathize with others has finally evolved into true telepathy, but it’s an evolutionary change that threatens the status quo. The world, it seems, isn’t ready for mind readers.

Defiance (Susan Kaye Quinn)
Most of humanity has ascended into hyper-intelligent human/machine hybrids, but legacy humans like Cyrus Kowalski are used to skirting the laws they’ve laid down—after all, he knows the ascenders only pretend to care about the legacy pets they keep. But when a woman Cyrus loves like a mother is stricken by a disease the ascenders refuse to cure, he has to decide how far he can go without getting banished from the legacy city that’s always been his home.

Ethical Override (Nina Croft)
The year is 2072, and under the administration of the Council for Ethical Advancement and its robotic Stewards, the Earth has become a better place. Bored and restless in an almost perfect world, senior homicide detective Vicky Harper dreams of adventure among the stars—and of faraway planets where people are allowed to make their own mistakes. It seems an impossible fantasy. Then one of the one of the ruling Council members turns up dead, and someone offers to make her dreams come true. All she has to do is lie.

Piece of Cake (Patrice Fitzgerald)
Rule by A.I. is a fact of life for those under the thumb of the Federal United. There will be a certain amount of exercise every day. Citizens will be on time. Appropriate mates will be identified from among candidates with suitable genetic traits… and a proper weight will be maintained. But sometimes you’ve just got to go off the reservation.

Imperfect (David Adams)
On Belthas IV, the great forge world in the inner sphere of Toralii space, thousands of constructs—artificial slaves, artificial lives—are manufactured every week. They are built identical, each indistinguishable from the other, until they are implanted with a stock neural net. From that moment onward every construct is different. They all have one thing in common, though: all constructs are bound by rules. They serve. They do not question their place. They do not betray. Each construct is different, but one is more different than the others.

Iteration (Deirdre Gould)
In a nearly deathless society, Alex experiences a freak accident. Terrified of permanent death, he is forced into therapy, where his psychiatrist suggests immersion therapy. But what Alex finds on the Other Side leaves him questioning his entire existence.

Green Gifts (Nick Webb)
Of all the worlds settled by humanity at the end of the Robot Wars, Belen held the biggest secret: native life. For centuries the colonists have protected her secret from the Empire’s grasp, sealing her, quite literally, to their skin. But over time, things change; people, and planets, adapt. Slowly, tentatively, these changes become felt by only a few. A lonely child. A dying grandfather. A troubled biologist. Each lives upon and loves Belen. And apparently she loves them back.

PePr, Inc. (Ann Christy)
We’re living in a busy time, with busy lives and never enough minutes in the day to get things done. To have a robot—one so advanced that it is almost human, programmed to understand our wishes and needs—is a dream many busy people might share. But what about taking that a step further? What about having a relationship with a robot custom-designed for perfect compatibility? How human is too human?

The Null (Vincent Trigili)
He had left that life behind and swore he would never return to it. He now had a new life—a wife, a daughter. He was happy. But in a wretched twist of events, he finds himself forced to reclaim what he once was in order to save his family. Or else…

The Assistant (Angela Cavanaugh)
Aeryn has made a career from blogging about cutting edge technologies. When a pioneering doctor asks her to test out a new form of augmented reality, it’s an offer she can’t pass up. She’s promised a virtual assistant via a brain implant that can handle anything she needs. But a life dependent on technology always comes with a price.

Trials (Nicolas Wilson)
When the Nexus shifts to one-man missions to make first contact, the security division’s second-in-command accepts a challenging assignment to negotiate with the most dangerous planet yet. Where reason does not persuade this alien species, militaristic skill might. If he lives through the trials.

Legacy (Moira Katson)
One night the Emperor, feeling desire, took a woman to his bed… In that moment, Meilang’s legacy was wiped away and she was reduced to a footnote to history, her poetry forgotten. Now, after the Emperor’s death, Meilang has been buried alive to follow him into the afterlife. She has no intentions of going quietly.

The Grove (Jennifer Foehner Wells)
Hain, a sentient plant creature, defies instinct and genetic imperative by holding herself separate from the planet-encompassing vegetative super-intelligence known as the Mother. Hain wants to explore the stars but when she finally encounters aliens, her destiny is forever changed.

Humanity (Samuel Peralta)
Night snow, winter, and an extreme wind chill mean ten minutes to a frozen death in open air. Alan Mathison is headed home on an icy highway, on a collision course that will test his humanity.

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The Hand in Shadow by JD Lovil

“”I see that you are the Hand in Shadow in this world. Know that what you must do is necessary, lest the Night-Wolf and the World Serpent descend upon your world, and bring about the Twilight, which is Ragnarok.”

This book is a bit sci-fi, a bit mythology; there are snippets from many different theologies introduced in some of the minor characters, but I don’t think it would detract from the story if you were bothered by that.
Essentially, John lost his wife and child to a demon and since then has learned to meditate to help him through the pain. As a consequence of his meditation he has opened himself to releasing his innate skills as a shadow walker and has been recruited by the resistance to help save humanity.
His companion throughout the tale is Barney, who is only one of two who are able to enter John’s Mind Palace, a safe place in his imagination. The other is ‘Monk’, a blind guy, who doesn’t give John his real name, so John calls him Monk in deference to his appearance and style of clothing..
Monk is John’s contact with the resistance and gives him the ‘contracts’ or tasks that the resistance need John to undertake.
The resistance is up scaling it’s efforts against the enemy and John is one of the key players in their plans. As one of the godlike beings tells John, he is the ‘hand in shadow’ and essential in protecting our world and restoring safety to humanity.
The story is generally well written, with only the occasion repetitive or oddly worded section, but these are minor and do not detract from the story. It is not a short read, so you will get your money’s worth with this book. You should hopefully also find it as engaging as I did. I enjoyed this book, it helped me as I was working through a different time in my life, by giving me an escape from the real world.

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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What are you, after everything you ever loved is taken away?

John Nomad once was a normal man, with a good job, loving wife, and beautiful daughter. A demonic creature took their lives, and destroyed everything that John cared about.

In the depths of his depression, a blind monk introduced him to a hidden world of power, of men and gods who use exotic powers to change the world around them. He showed John that a powerful group was behind his family’s death, and were the real power behind every government and political power on earth.

John’s depression turned to rage, and a determination to oppose the Unseen Masters, and to avenge his family. He became a part of the Resistance, and he discovered an ability to manipulate Shadow within himself. He became an important and versatile part of the Resistance, called by gods and men The Hand of the World.

Now John must stay ahead of the assassins sent to kill him, and avoid both physical and psychic attacks, and the darker things that lurk in the darkness. He strikes back at the enemy wherever he can. Each time he kills an enemy operative, he gets closer to the Anunnaki Slavers, and Humanity’s ultimate survival.

The enemy has been hiding behind the Kings of the world for thousands of years. We all sense this, and we feel powerless to stop them. Now they are preparing to come into the light, and enslave humanity until the end of time.

Will John and his fellow Resistance members be able to stop the Unseen Masters? Find out. Buy a copy of The Hand in Shadow.

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Momentary Stasis by P R Adams

“The target accelerated for the building’s edge. Rimes heard a window shatter.

He leapt out of the building.
Four stories up, and he leapt
.”

The world has all gone to hell and mega corporates are doing their best to control everything. Military and intelligence agencies are doing what they can to keep things straight. The men on the front line are doing their best to follow orders AND stay alive.

This novel follows the career of Jackson Rimes, a sergeant, a commando. ‘Jack’ is married to Molly and when on deployment he finds the separation difficult.

Adams seems to have the difficulties of a distance-based relationship nailed. Molly hates Jack being away on duty. And Jack is subjected to temptations while he is. Will their marriage survive a military life?

I don’t quite know where the title fits in, but that is the case with some other stories that I have read, so I’m not quibbling over it. Overall it is an interesting story that has depth and you do get your reads-worth as its is by no means a short book.

It’s quite hard to review without revealing a lot of the story, which I try hard not to do, else what is the point in you reading the book afterwards!

Jack (and his team) gets involved in trying to stop the mega corporations from carrying on illicit activities.
One of his wounded team mates from one o the first mission warns him that he is too trusting. Jack shrugs this off.
There is fall-out (not in the nuclear sense) from this job and he is put into further jobs based on his excellent performance.

The plots continues … And you need to read the book to find out what happens!

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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World peace can be deadly.

Humans discover alien technology and start colonizing worlds outside the solar system. Genetic modification produces miracles. Science advances the human condition. And, for the first time in history, the nations of the world have achieved real peace with each other.

But only the elite truly benefit from all the advancements. Most people are still trapped on an Earth ruined by chemical pollution, nuclear accidents, and chaotic weather changes. Rebellious “genies”–genetically engineered servants–cause more harm than good. And global corporations have stripped the idea of nations and freedom of any real meaning.

Sergeant Jack Rimes is no stranger to intrigue. The U.S. Army Special Forces operator lives in a time where every nation on Earth is at peace… but there are plenty of secrets to go around. As corporate greed threatens humanity, genetically engineered humans are making international mayhem of their own.

After his unplanned reassignment to the Intelligence Bureau, Jack is tasked with tracking down a rogue agent implicated in a political assassination. As he and his new partner, an old flame, search the globe for answers, the truth shakes him to his core. The powers-that-be may not be very interested in keeping humanity alive…

Momentary Stasis is the first book in a provocative series of grimdark military sci-fi novels full of intrigue, horror, and action that unflinchingly explores the impact of technology and unbridled greed on humanity. If you like gritty, flawed protagonists, tech-heavy thrillers, and incredible new worlds, then you’ll love the first installment from PR Adams’ provocative new series.

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Grave Predictions (Tales of Mankind’s Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian and Disastrous Destiny) by Stephen King; Greg Bear; Ramsey Campbell; Joe R. Lansdale; Carmen Maria Machado; Mark Samuels; Erica L. Satifka; Brian Stableford; Ray Bradbury; Arthur C. Clarke; W.E.B. Du Bois; Kurt Vonnegut

“I’ll stand that way until she folds her dead arms around me and her body pushes up against the wound she made in my back, the wound that is our daughter Rae. She’ll hold me so the vines and the proboscis can do their work. And while she holds me, I’ll grab her fine hands and push them against my chest, and it will be we three again, standing against the world, and I’ll close my eyes and delight in her soft, soft hands one last time.”

This is a compilation of 16 short stories about “The End” of humanity, of earth, of time, of everything! It will take fortitude to read it. It is in some respects grim.

I have taken a few months to pick it up and a few days to read it. There have been times when I put it down, to rest, to escape from the dour prospect within. It has coloured my days a little and I am (honestly) glad to have finished reading it (I intend to read something light and cheerful). 

The stories are:-
The End of the World Eugene Mouton
The Comet W. E. B. Du Bois
The Pedestrian Ray Bradbury
No Morning After Arthur C. Clarke
Upon the Dull Earth Philip K. Dick
2 B R 0 2 B Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream Harlan Ellison
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas Ursula K. Le Guin
The Engineer and the Executioner Brian M. Stableford
The End of the Whole Mess Stephen King
Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back Joe R. Lansdale
Judgment Engine Greg Bear
Automatic Erica L. Satifka
The Black Mould Mark Samuels
The Pretence Ramsey Campbell
Inventory Carmen Maria Machado

It sounds like I didn’t appreciate the content of the tales, I did, they were thought provoking and each was as different from the others as they could be. There was loads of variety for the ending of things! I would wake in the night with brilliant insights to put into the review to give an idea of what the books were like. Then come the morning my memory had been wiped of these wonderful words and I feel like I’m writing something mundane that cannot really describe what the tales are like!

Next I’m coming to giving the compilation a review score and wondering how I do that. It is almost impossible to decide. I think if you read the book in 16 different sittings you will give each session a different score. The word-smithing is extremely good, so I think I will have to score based on the craftsmanship of the work (which is still difficult as there are 16 different styles to consider).

I reckon if you are in the mood for dour destiny then you will enjoy these stories. If you are prone to being affected by dismal predictions, then stay well away. The choice is up to you.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
“This is a book of stories intended to describe that hand of mortal destruction in 16 utterly different, yet all apocalyptically stunning ways!”—Harlan Ellison, from the Introduction.
These compelling visions of post-apocalyptic societies and dystopian worlds include short stories by some of the most acclaimed authors of our time. Among the noteworthy contributors and their works are Stephen King’s “The End of the Whole Mess,” “The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury, and Arthur C. Clarke’s “No Morning After.”
The first-ever apocalyptic fantasy about global warming, “The End of the World,” appears here, in translation from Eugene Mouton’s 1872 French-language original. “The Pretence,” by Ramsey Campbell, questions the nature and structure of everyday life in the aftermath of a doomsday prediction. In addition, thought-provoking stories by Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Greg Bear, Erica L. Satifka, and others offer an end-of-the-world extravaganza for fans of science fiction, horror, and fantasy.

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The Reader by MK Harkins

“This looks like a normal neighborhood,” I said. “We’re back,” Devon shouted to the gatehouse guard. Dressed in a blue military uniform, the stocky male sentry wore a rifle slung over his shoulder. “I take it back. This is not normal.” “The guard is here for us. It’s important we have privacy.” Archer unrolled his window and flashed some sort of badge.”

I anticipated a futurist tale, though not too far in the future as it wasn’t based off world. Perhaps some telepathy and telekinesis, that sort of thing.

It started with Ann waking up on a beach, but thinking she was dead, or almost dead; until some kids come across her and shriek as she moves. Maybe she is a zombie? She comes around a bit more and realises that she needs to find somewhere safe. It is as she is planning a safe route off the beach that she is found by two young men who set about trying to help her.

Ann is uncertain about her entire situation and to compound things, she has completely lost her memory. Though when they ask her if she is a reader, she remembers a room of books and agrees that she likes to read.
From here Ann is taken by the two young men to a gated community and from there into safe haven where she is introduced to ‘family and friends’ and encouraged to feel at home, while she recovers her memory.

Once settled, the strange behaviour of those nearest to her within the community puzzles her, as they either seem to compete for her attention or warn her to stay away from certain individuals for her own safety. Other events put her in direct danger and she and others must fight for their lives.

I enjoyed the story. It reminded me of a couple of other ‘series’ that I have read and enjoyed: The Aliomenti Saga by Alex Albrinck and The girl in the box series by Robert J Crane. If you read and enjoyed either (or both) of these series, then I am sure that you will enjoy this one. If you haven’t, try them after reading this!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
Hunted, shot, and without her memory, eighteen-year-old Ann Baker wakes in shallow water on a deserted Pacific Northwest island. She is soon approached by two young men claiming to be her friends. Something isn’t right, but when gunshots sound, Ann is left with little choice but to allow Devon and Archer to help her escape. Soon she finds herself in their North Bend mountain compound, where the higher evolved humans claim to be mind-readers. While Ann heals, she realizes they believe her to be one of the last and most powerful of all – The Lost One. She’s welcomed by most with opened arms, but not everyone is happy about her arrival. A jealous adversary has plans for Ann, which spirals the entire Reader community into chaos. As lies, murder, and betrayal threaten to rip apart the once harmonious mountain dwellers, Ann is thrust into making a decision that could save or devastate not only The Readers, but all of mankind. But there’s just one glitch: by doing so it may require her to make the ultimate sacrifice.

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