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Salby Damned, Ian D Moore

Salby Damned, Ian D Moore

Salby Damned

Salby Damned opens at a fracking wellhead near Salby, in Yorkshire, where drilling appears to have released a highly contagious and lethal virus. Transmitted via bite, the symptoms include increased healing, damage to cognitive functions, and most damaging of all, a destructive, homicidal rage. Freelance reporter and ex-sergeant Nathan Cross, covering the opening of the new well, didn’t expect to be hauled out of bed at the crack of dawn to the news of a disaster at the well, and he certainly didn’t expect his sudden, overwhelming attraction to Evelyn Langford, the woman he’d met the night before at the well conference.

The story features the staples of the zombie genre, including last-ditch stands against oncoming zombies, unexpected alliances and dalliances, and the revelation of the true cause of the outbreak, along with a variety of blunt, bladed, and projectile weapons used to varying effect against the diseased. I did find that the story as a whole was given to a level of description of trivia that impacted the pace of the action, as well as extraneous scenes that seemed by the end of the book to have done little to directly move the plot along. However, I definitely feel that the book has a lot of potential, and the character development was by and large strong and consistent.

 

Being Human, Ellison Blackburn

Being Human, Ellison Blackburn

Being Human

Being Human continues the story of Emery Kidd, newly engaged to Aiden Brodie, and living in the community of Tymony, a bubble outside time modelled on a project run by Charley Rhys Fenn, the mother of regeneration – where Emery’s slowly driving herself crazy with boredom. Eaten by fears that the bucolic lifestyle will break her relationship, and suffering doubts about herself and her role in life, Emery is almost relieved when Sera Strong blows into town and proposes a project to save the future of humanity – again. However, Sera’s headstrong approach to teamwork, not to mention to Emery’s relationship, look fair to cause almost more trouble than the project itself…

With a star cast of Ellison Blackburn’s incredibly well-written, deep characters, Being Human is the third in the Regeneration Chronicles, tracing the history immediately after the start of the Progeny Project. While the underlying fascination of the plot is time, mortality, paradox, and sexual fidelity, the story frames it in a rich tapestry of events and realistic characters, sliding the serious concepts in via sleight of hand amid the emotional drama between the characters. Being Human can be read simply as a romance story, or the reader has the option to enjoy the concepts that the author has woven into the storyline for us to think about – this is a book that can be enjoyed and thought about on many levels.

Pirate Bound, Carysa Locke

Pirate Bound, Carysa Locke

Pirate Bound

Women complicate things, Talented woman above all; that rarest resource for the pirate society, the only reliable way to propagate Talent. Dem is the pirate king’s security chief, a rare combination of Talents, both a Hunter and Killer, and there’s a very good reason why those types of Talent don’t have personal relationships. Up until this trip, it’s never been a problem. However, when a tiny Viking-class ship crosses their path, Dem and his crew realise that the only people aboard are female, Talented…and on the run.

Pirate Bound is a great combination of pirate atmosphere and sci-fi setting, playing on the theme of the misunderstood underdogs against a massive totalitarian regime, threaded with vividly evoked, colourful backdrops and unexpected romance. There’s also plenty of action to keep things interesting, from internal fights aboard ship to space skirmishes and epic confrontations of Talent. Carysa Locke writes a compelling set of characters, and the sexual tension between Dem and Sanah is well done, as is Dem’s complete lack of understanding of why his usually well under control emotions are suddenly spinning loose. The story has an interesting slant on ESP, providing a unique set of Talents for the plot and capitalising on lesser-used aspects of others. Definitely a book worth the read, with a guaranteed appeal to sci-fi and romance readers alike.

Heartless: A Shieldmaiden’s Voice, S. R. Karfelt

Heartless: A Shieldmaiden’s Voice, S. R. Karfelt

Heartless: A Shieldmaiden’s Voice

Heartless: A Shieldmaiden’s Voice provides a thrilling prequel to S.R. Karfelt’s Kahtar: Warrior of the Ages, introducing us to Carole Blank, an orphaned, violent misfit in the USA’s foster system. Carole’s earliest memories are of other people like her: people who can hear thoughts, people who can’t abide the chemical, processed materials and foods of the modern world. However, as those memories age, Carole begins to wonder if they weren’t merely hallucinations. Her unique fighting abilities get her into trouble right through school, and draw her into the US Marines as soon as she completes her education, where her gender and abilities lead her into unlisted service in a black ops team. Both her extraordinary skill set and her mentality make the job a perfect fit … until the unexpected happens and Carole has to make some hard choices.

This is a stunning prequel novel in the Covenant Keeper series, filling in much of the series’ back story and bringing depth and colour to the story of a unique lead character. Heartless: A Shieldmaiden’s Voice is a great read as a stand-alone book or as a part of the Covenant Keepers series. The story is decorated with scenes from all over the world and punctuated with vivid secondary characters who add their own insights into the plot. S.R. Karfelt uses Carole’s adventures to highlight a central issue in today’s society, where a female, no matter how talented or successful, is expected to sacrifice ambition and career for family. Carole’s struggles with this expectation, even more than her struggles with her alienation from society, make this a compelling, thought-provoking read.

Reviewed for Reader’s Favorite.

Black Wings, Iryna K. Combs

Black Wings, Iryna K. Combs

Black Wings

The world of Black Wings is one where humanity has been irrevocably altered by science so that their exteriors reflect the most black-and-white view of their inner desires and beliefs. On the one hand, there are the Anlights, the winged and beautiful representatives of the best aspect of humanity, and on the other, the Varkins, gray-skinned, yellow-eyed predators formed from the criminals and outcasts. Annabel, the last surviving Anlight imprisoned by the Varkins, the only member of her race with black wings, has just about given up hope of ever rejoining her people when the unexpected happens: the leader of the entire Varkin race develops a sexual interest in her.

Iryna K. Combs’ Black Wings offers the reader a parable of a society with no gray areas of morality, the moment of the transformation deciding for each entity and its descendants whether good, or evil, is their lot. The action through the first two chapters is well-structured and paced, but unfortunately the middle two-thirds are much slower, the main focus being Annabel’s romantic entanglements. The action ramps up again abruptly in the last twenty pages to culminate in the final battle of good against evil, winding up the story begun in chapters one and two. Overall, this is a fairly light, easy read, well-suited to younger readers, with good scene-setting that in many ways forms the main strength of the story.