It’s a Nightmare, Nicole Quinn

It’s a Nightmare, Nicole Quinn

It’s a Nightmare

Nicole Quinn’s It’s a Nightmare (The Gold Stone Girl Book 1) is set over a million years into a future, in a world where humanity is split between the abused and the abusers under the rule of the Night Mare. The few who escape the system live Off-grid, scraping a living in the wilderness outside Winkin City limits. Public broadcasts of brutality provide a constant flow of indoctrination on every display surface, and examples are swift and frequent. Females are property, branded and kept as animals, and the gender imbalance runs at one female to every fifty males. Only the so-called Gold Stone girls, rare enough that only four have been found in more than a million years, escape the short life of rape and abuse. Their fate is to be eaten alive by the Night Mare, as a public spectacle. No one knows why.

In It’s a Nightmare, Nicole Quinn peels back layers of complacency to reveal a disturbing alternate-universe view of how the gender biases ingrained in our society could play out, a chilling and brilliantly-written exposé on the danger of being different. This story is one you will see playing in news headlines across your mind’s eye as you read, right down to the swaddled bodies bobbing in the current. The world of Blinkin will remain etched in your imagination in blood and grime, and the characters showcase a profound understanding of the psyche of abuse. This book is guaranteed to be a thought-provoking, deeply disquieting wake-up call.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite.

Fall, Leaves, Fall, Mike Driver

Fall, Leaves, Fall, Mike Driver

Fall, Leaves, Fall

Fall, Leaves, Fall begins entirely mundanely, on a wet, gray day, on a bus into the small English town of Cletherwood. James Bridge, let go from his latest job, is going back after twenty years to where all his nightmares play. He’s going home, despite the memories, seeking refuge, with nowhere else to go. The Romans thought that the area around Cletherwood was haunted by malign spirits. As far as James is concerned, that may well be true – but his own ghosts are much more recent.

Mike Driver’s use of characterisation in Fall, Leaves, Fall is outstanding. James is damaged, neurotic, and more than slightly unstable, but he’s also a survivor, and his first-person narration is peppered with small, humanising touches. We’ve all known someone a little bit like James, and the authenticity of that character brings the events unfolding in the plot onto a much more personal level, all of it framed in the wet dreariness of an English town in early winter. The horror elements are drawn in via memories, dreams, and flashbacks, leaving the reader to wonder whether the events are real, or figments of James’s imagination. The mystery is also well done, the first person allowing the author to leave the final twist to be as much a surprise to the reader as to James.

Orion Rising, Chard Andrews

Orion Rising, Chard Andrews

Orion Rising

In Orion Rising, Chard Andrews pulls you into a future where humanity’s remnants are crowded onto the great southern islands, the rest of the planet scorched earth too dangerous to set foot on. Orion Trayfer is second officer aboard a Harvest ship, one of the vessels servicing the great floating farm pods that line the coasts of New Zealand and feed the ever-expanding population. When his ship finds one of the precious pods loose from its anchors, its assigned ship nowhere on the horizon, Orion is one of the crew sent aboard to prevent damage to the pod field. The job takes a turn for the unusual when they discover missing power sources and traces of blood, and stranger still when their reports are largely discounted. New faces aboard old ships and strange shipments on the docks begin to add up to something stranger than anything Orion and his crewmates can imagine.

Orion Rising is a unique science fiction adventure set on the oceans of Earth’s future, brought vividly alive by Chard Andrews’ knowledge of ships and the sea. The descriptions had me holding my breath and seeing the hull sinking away under me. Rich characterization makes the dialogue and interactions shine, introducing people with their own humor, traumas, and wants, while hyper-realistic action kept me turning the pages. The world Andrews creates is expertly drawn and very plausible, seamlessly exposed through the experiences and actions of his characters, and rife with tensions that are all too easy to identify with.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite.

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Odysseus Bound, Stephen Logsden

Odysseus Bound, Stephen Logsden

Odysseus: Bound

Odysseus: Bound by Stephen Logsden tells the story of the CCEV-3 Odysseus, a first contact ship, designed for stealth and crewed for exploration. Equipped with artificial intelligence and some of the most advanced technology available, Odysseus has encountered nothing beyond bacteria at a hundred uninhabited systems, and frustration has the relations among her crew stretched to breaking point. Initially, system number 144 looks exactly like numbers 1 to 143, at least until the discovery of a huge satellite in an anomalous orbit above the possibly habitable planet. The excitement blows the divisions in the crew into the open, and suddenly the Odysseus is committed to a headlong rush towards the discovery of a lifetime, her power reserves running low and expectations running high. No one could have anticipated what they found.

In Odysseus: Bound, Stephen Logsden creates a richly-textured experience of artificial intelligence and virtual realities, contrasted with the very gritty reality of survival. The depth of technological detail in this book, right down the literal tendencies of AIs, will thrill fans of science-fiction. Lieutenant Barnett Hannum is a strong and credible protagonist, whose lapsed military training allows you to travel along with him as he discovers weaponry that can manufacture its own ammo and evaluate strategy and armour that can integrate with the wearer’s nervous system. His action-packed adventures lead you through despair and triumph on a breath-taking series of discoveries, while the plot poses questions and introduces possibilities that will leave you eagerly anticipating the next installment of the trilogy.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite.

Odysseus: bound cover

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Lightfingers, Hari Patience

Lightfingers, Hari Patience

Lightfingers

Leni Lightfingers believes in the power of hiding in plain sight. An exiled Fae thief who earns her living performing as a human statue on the streets of London, she owes unwise favours to powerful people.  Usually, her alternate skills are in demand to round up lost trinkets. This time, a mortal pet belonging to the High Lord of London has gone missing, vanished into the teeming crowds of human London, and the favour she owes will force Leni to risk every friend she has, among them a Banshee working as a phone sex operator, a half-Brownie social worker, and a Troll gate guard, just to stay alive. As Leni begins her search, a string of disappearances among the homeless begin to form a disturbing link to the history of the Lightfingers clan.

Lightfingers is a thrilling debut novel, sketching a palimpsest London of back alleys, hidden secrets and magical beings with very different heritages living hidden in human society. The characters are captivatingly flawed, with their own cameo stories and complex motivations, and their own widely-varying adaptations to a world dominated by humans and technology. From the soup kitchens and run-down apartments of human London to the glittering and infinitely mutable courts of Fayre, Hari Patience combines an intimate knowledge of London with a logical and well-detailed underlay of Fae magic and society to create an action-filled fantasy where there’s always another layer to the story to discover. This story kept me turning pages and guessing right until the end.