The Vestals Conspiracy, Tomasz Chrusciel

The Vestals Conspiracy, Tomasz Chrusciel

The Vestals Conspiracy: A Prequel Novella To The Nina Monte Mystery Thriller Series

Professor Oliveri has made some astounding archaeological finds in his time; even now, approaching retirement age, he’s a well-known name in Italy. Nina Monte, a respected expert in her own right, has been his friend and colleague since she was his student over a decade ago, so when the Professor contacts her with news of a ground-breaking discovery concerning the Vestal Virgins, she drops everything to meet with him. However, the Professor is more closely watched than he ever realised, and even before Nina arrives, news of his discovery has spread.

The Vestals Conspiracy is a great prequel to the Nina Monte series, showcasing everything that makes these thrillers worth reading; intelligent, original characters, great world-building, and adventures with a flavour of danger and history. Author Tomasz Chrusciel’s ability to evoke the areas in which his stories are set provides a fantastic underpinning to the plots. I also enjoy Nina Monte as a protagonist. She’s highly educated, quick-thinking, and has a low tolerance for bullshit, as well as enough small flaws in her self-confidence to make her thoroughly plausible as a character. However, what really made this prequel for me was the way that the author managed to weave archaeological record into a millennias-old conspiracy and an equally ancient prophecy to add that thrill of ‘what-if’ to the read.

2017 at By Rite of Word – it’s a wrap!

2017 at By Rite of Word – it’s a wrap!

2017 – it’s a wrap!

By Rite of Word started up in March 2016, so 2017 is our first full year up and reviewing. (We’re a little bit excited about this.)

We’ve had a lot of awesome indie and trad-pub books come in for review, which makes the first order of business saying ‘thank you’ to the authors willing to share their work with us. No matter if we gave you a 1-star or a 5-star, you wrote a book. The world needs more people writing books. Kudos to you, you crazy one-of-a-kinds – keep going and keep sending us your stuff. We’ll read and review as many as we possibly can.

So, without further ado, what exactly was that voodoo that we did?

Books reviewed

%

5 star reviews

%

4 star reviews

…You noticed that we’re evil, evil sods with our ratings? We mean that bit about ‘Free, honest, and independent’ in our headers. So if you get a 5-star rating, it’s not something we give out in cereal packets. Nor are our 4-stars, so 41% of the books we review getting one indicates some seriously great writing coming into our inbox. Keep it up!

And, because we totally do play favourites…our top picks for each of the genres we review from 2017!

Sci-fi

Our #1 top pick out of 35 great sci-fi reads this year….

Stalk the author in their lair and on Amazon!

Fantasy

Our #1 top pick of the 24 fantasy books we reviewed…

Stalk the author in their lair and on Amazon!

Thriller

And, our #1 winner out of the 15 thrillers we read…

Stalk the author in their lair and on Amazon!

Yep…in case you have a few days off coming and were wondering what to read, grab at least one of those.

Actually, even if you don’t have some time off coming up (although we hope you do…) you should totally treat yourself anyway. Be good to yourselves in 2018!

Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body, Simon Petrie

Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body, Simon Petrie

Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body: A Guerline Scarfe Investigation

Titan is a hostile environment. When people die, it’s the job of someone like Guerline Scarfe to make sure that all the details are correctly recorded and all angles are examined to ensure that the future of Fensal’s citizens is as safe as it can be. The investigation into the death of Tanja Noor Hainan Morgenstein should have been one like any other – despite her influential parents. However, when Guerline starts asking why the daughter of one of Titan’s most influential families would have committed suicide by Titan right outside an airlock, her investigation starts sprouting inconsistencies.

Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body is a well-written mystery thriller in a science-fiction setting. Details of terrain and technology add to the backdrop, but the author has resisted allowing them to overwhelm the story. The characters are well-developed, and while Guerline is at first glance the epitome of the harassed separated parent with a spoiled child, her obstinacy makes her the ideal protagonist for the plot. The final plot twist reveal was particularly nicely handled, with enough presaging to make it credible without giving the game away too early. Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read – there’s something there for everyone from detective mystery fans through to die-hard sci-fi readers.

Icarus, David K Hulegaard

Icarus, David K Hulegaard

The Noble Trilogy: Book One – Icarus

Miller Brinkman is a private eye in small-town 1950’s USA, with his usual cases whatever the widely-respected town sheriff doesn’t want or doesn’t have time for. However, when Jane Emmett, the town’s problem child, vanishes abruptly from the public eye and a rumour is spread that she’s been sent away to school, her only friend begs Brinkman to find out what happened to her. Following the clues left in a disturbing series of Jane’s diary entries that indicate something very different than an involuntary departure to a finishing school, Brinkman has no idea of what he’s about to discover…

Icarus combines two of my favourite genres in a page-turning read. With an economical turn of description that allows the spotlight to shine on the events of the plot, author David K. Hulegaard creates an atmospheric mystery with enough darkness woven into it to keep the reader on edge. Brinkman, our protagonist, comes with enough human flaws to make him plausible and keep him from the superhuman trope. All of the characters show excellent development, with enough background to make them solidly real in the story without straying into the territory of the fatal info-dump, and many with the characteristically ‘small-town’ scandals and links that support the main plot. All in all, I don’t give out five stars very often – this book definitely earnt them.

Our Only Chance, Ray Else

Our Only Chance, Ray Else

Our Only Chance: An A.I. Chronicle

Manaka Yagami was a genius, off-the-charts, a student working towards a degree in neuro-genetics in Osaka. Obsessed with her work to the point of being oblivious to her surroundings, she was surprised and flattered to be approached with a project by a prominent professor; a project to incorporate an organic brain into a robot. When the project turned out to be a resounding success, her mentor proposed that they go into business together to develop the concept further – but once he involved the Yakuza, neither he nor she understood how much power they might be relinquishing over their greatest breakthrough.

Our Only Chance is sketched in a spare, flowing style that complements the pacing of the story, and the subject matter covers a range of topics from medical ethics to local spirits to the history of manga. For me, as a reader, the strongest point of the book was the character development. Author Ray Else has created not one but several characters who are brilliant, and utterly alienated from human society, while at the same time being eminently readable. The writing was also technically excellent, which I always appreciate. All in all, this is a book that fans of speculative fiction will be sure to enjoy, couched in a setting that avoids many of the traditional clichés of AI development.