Book Review: Our Dried Voices

Greg Hickey posted his book in my handy-dandy review request form on my book review request page! My rules for answering a review request are there, if you want to risk it.

The Book

read 2021 our dried voices hickeyOur Dried Voices
Author: Greg Hickey
2017
Amazon Link

Ultimately, I was going to read this book because I was requested to do so and it was in a genre I like. When this book came across my lap, at least, I was in a place where I wasn’t getting enough requests to really put me off the trail. That being said, it’s a dystopian future sci-fi, and I’m ok with that.

Non-Spoiler Review

This book is billed as inspired by classic sci-fi like Wells’s The Time Machine or Huxley’s Brave New World. I absolutely agree that if you like The Time Machine, this book is probably up your alley. Our Dried Voices takes a similar idea from The Time Machine – i.e. that humanity will collectively devolve into helpless, mindless creatures kept safe by old humanity’s successes – but there’s plenty of new, different ideas that you won’t be bored.

If you’re looking for a more modern comparison, I’d like to point you to Liu’s Three Body Problem. Hickey’s Voices is similar to Three Body in that it’s an extensively explored setting that builds with slow exactitude to its final reveal. Liu’s book is probably 4 times the size of Voices, but there’s a lot of explanatory shpiels that build on each other. It’s got that classic sci-fi “boring” to it that I and many fans of the old stuff enjoy. At times it did get excessively dry, but the book was short enough that it didn’t become too tedious.

Another good point in Voices’ favor is the high-quality editing. Though at times the book did fall into purple prose, the sentence structure, spelling, and logical flow of the book was good. I hate that this is something I have to grade in indie books, but I am happy to say that this one did it right!

The reasons this isn’t five stars, though…

This book, like Brave New World, is what I would call “artsy fartsy”. It has a semi-experimental structure wherein the characters say very little. Without much dialogue, it was hard for me to really get into Sam or Penny as fast as I wanted to. I could see what kind of feeling (a sort of “awakening” where the mains go from ignorant to curious) this sort of narration achieved, but it made it somewhat difficult for me to get into the book. They were inoffensive, perfectly fine characters, though. Penny was never an object, and by the time I figured them out, her role was well defined and well done.

The mystery elements were also not quite up my alley. Some of the mystery was easy enough that I questioned what the main character was thinking, some of it was a stretch even after it was explained, and some of it didn’t make sense how the character put together the clues.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones

4 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The plot was relatively simple, and most of it could be guessed, but that’s not something you really have a problem with in sci-fi. It did build logically, and for that I commend it.

However, I must say that the bulk of the chapters were similar to one-off MacGuyver problems. Some of them – like fixing a bridge – were somewhat interesting, but others – like the “food box” where they collected the humans’ food to fairly redistribute it – was frustrating. Other problems didn’t make so much sense, but they tended to contribute to the overall plot.

As I said in the non-spoilers review, there was a mystery element. In the course of solving problems, the main character Samuel came across messages from a mysterious, possibly villainous, personages. While it was a clever idea, I thought these messages weren’t incorporated very well. They seemed a bit of a nonsense puzzle on top of all the other survival puzzles.

Anyway, the point is if you like classic sci-fi, this might be a pick for you.

Next week:

It’s time for the last of my indie sci-fi reviews – Dust & Lightning!

Book Review: Steel Reign – Flight of the Starship Concord

Once upon a time in 2020, I made the fateful step of deciding to post a “I will buy and review a book or two from the selection y’all pitch at me” on Twitter. Along with A Choice for Essence, I chose this book.

The Book

Steel Reign flight of the starship concord read 2020Steel Reign: The Flight of the Starship Concord
Author: Braxton A. Cosby
Publication Year: 2020
Amazon Link

One big reason I chose this book is the genre: sci-fi seems to be a bit less common than fantasy among indie books. Beyond that, the blurb on Amazon hints to epic space adventure in a wide world – it seems up my alley at first glance!

Non-Spoiler Review

I’m quite torn about this book. As an admission, the genre was a parody of sci-fi action, not a serious take. I didn’t expect that from the blurb or most reviews, and I probably wouldn’t have started it if I’d known. So, that caveat out of the way let’s start with the things I liked.

It did pull through with the basic promise of action adventure. Reign – or Cassius, at times – was a hardcore spy who could pull off crazy stunts if he paid for it in joint pain later. His drive was a little difficult to drill down to, but his objective was clear. If you like action comedy like Austin Powers or Tropic Thunder, this is in your wheelhouse.

The grammar/basic structure was (aside from the experimental, weird numbers that were explained in the preface) decent. Some typos, word repetition, and sentence structure issues were present but were not more jarring than the weird decision regarding numbers (“no one” was “no 1”). The thing I liked best was the descriptions of the future tech and how it worked in-universe. Some of his chemistry and processing knowledge were wonky, but those subjects I’m less expert in seemed fine. The implants, especially, interested me because they weren’t better than natural – just different.

All the elements of a plot were there. The first chapter was very confusing, but it didn’t take long after to get set up and set off on the mission. The steps to the end were clear, and I liked knowing what we were supposed to root for.

But… man… the comedy. It was exactly the kind of comedy I just don’t get, because I had that feeling it should make me laugh. It was so intensely over the top that it had to be intended as funny, but I have a hard time with absurdist or exaggerating humor.

The other primary issue I had with the humor leaked into issues of characters. The intense use of male gaze (wherein the ladies were always described “boobs first”) and sexual jokes were tiresome to me. I suspect the first person narrator’s obsession with judging and gauging women solely by looks – even though the character claims he doesn’t – was meant as parody, but I honestly couldn’t be sure.

Part of what makes me suspicious that the male gaze and objectification were unintended was the poor representation of women. Every single woman was described as having squeezable or large tits, judged for their sexual potential (even the main’s sister!), and never really had a major part in the plot except as love objects or damsels. There was nothing to prove the narrator was delusional or wrong – so the parody angle might not even be good enough to make up for the poorly built female characters. The book passed neither Bechdel nor Mako Mori tests.

So, in the end, I liked the basic ideas of the book, but it had some major issues (that, admittedly, may be 100% in my head). Because of this, I decided that bad and good weighed each other out.

3/5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The plot was fairly straightforward, which I liked. You knew they had to steal the Concord in order to rescue Reign’s sister, Olia, from slavery. You knew they had to sneak into the Eclipse to find her. The action sequences made sense, and in that manner the book was fine.

I saw the twist – that Giff, the nerdy handler, had betrayed Reign – from pretty much Giff’s appearance in chapter two. He offered “too good to be true” for pretty cheap, so I expected it. However, that also meant the betrayal was set up, so I was fine with the twist. I’d much rather expect a twist than read a twist that comes out of nowhere.

The ending may have set up for additional entries in the series, but it could equally end where it is. Reign got the girl, saved his sister, and gained once and for all the loyalties of his crew (Giff and Stink).

Next week:

Stick around for Our Dried Souls, a sci fi indie book!

Reading List – January 2021

Welcome to a brand new year! We’re starting off the year with a sci-fi indie book month. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can also check out my 2021 TBR on my Review Archive page.

Steel Reign: The Flight of the Starship Concord – Braxton A. Cosby

Steel Reign flight of the starship concord read 2020

This book actually came from a reading suggestion/request on Twitter. Not going to lie, space operas are one of my jams, so I totally bit into the premise of this action adventure. The main character is a mercenary with an epic resume, and it screams action. Though I bought the book when it was relatively new, it has since become quite popular on Amazon and sold very well in the sci-fi category. I’m excited to see what happens!
Amazon Link

Our Dried Voices – Greg Hickey

read 2021 our dried voices hickey

This book came up on my review request page! It’s another sci-fi, but this time in what seems to be a dystopian future. The book seems like it will be similar to or have inspirations from Wells’s Time Machine or other classic sci-fi, and I’m excited to see how the author puts a new twist on these old elements.

Amazon Link

Dust & Lightning – Rebecca Crunden

Another book that popped up on my review request page, Dust & Lightning is the final sci-fi read of this month. Another space opera, this one promises action as well as a side-romance. The author’s style seems very different from that of Cosby above, so I’m looking forward to checking out another way to do one of my favorite genres.

Amazon Link

More Reviews

Toward the end of last year, I started getting a lot more review requests from my review request page. Unfortunately, the spots on my blog for review requests this year are already taken (wow!), so I’m actually going to be a bit more selective as to which books I read and especially picky as to which get a blog post. I regret having to make this decision because one of my favorite books last year came from a request I was skeptical of!

Amazon’s 100 Books to Read Before You Die – Update

I did this last year, but since then I’ve made a concerted effort to read a bunch of these. Here’s my new Amazon List successes! Books read since I did this last year are surrounded by asterisks and linked to their review (some may be to my Goodreads review, since I don’t review everything on the blog). Books I’ve read on my blog earlier are also linked to their reviews.

Title

Read?

Author

To Kill A MockingbirdYesHarper Lee
Pride and Prejudice*Yes*Jane Austen
The Diary of a Young GirlYesAnne Frank
1984YesGeorge Orwell
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s StoneYesJ K Rowling
Lord of the Ring TrilogyYesJ R R Tolkein
The Great Gatsby*Yes*F Scott Fitzgerald
Charlotte’s WebYesE B White
Little WomenYesLouisa May Alcott
The HobbitYesJ R R Tolkein
Fahrenheit 451YesRay Bradbury
Jane EyreYesCharlotte Bronte
Gone with the Wind*Yes*Margaret Mitchell
Animal FarmYesGeorge Orwell
The Catcher in the Rye J D Salinger
The Adventures of Huckleberry FinnYesMark Twain
The HelpYesKathryn Stockett
The Grapes of Wrath*Yes*John Steinbeck
The Lion, The Witch and the WardrobeYesC S Lewis
The Hunger Games*Yes*Suzanne Collins
The Book Thief Markus Zusak
Lord of the Flies William Golding
Kite Runner*Yes*Khaled Hosseini
Night*Yes*Elie Wiesel
HamletYesWilliam Shakespeare
A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
A Wrinkle in TimeYesMadeleine L’Engle
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyYesDouglas Adams
A Christmas CarolYes (Was Scrooge in a play, actually)Charles Dickens
Of Mice and MenYesJohn Steinbeck
The Secret GardenYesFrances Hodgson Burnett
Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare
The Handmaid’s TaleYesMargaret Atwood
Brave New WorldYesAldous Huxley
The Little Prince Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Where the Sidewalk EndsYesShel Silverstein
Wuthering HeightsYesEmily Bronte
The GiverYesLois Lowry
Anne of Green GablesYesE M Montgomery
MacbethYes (Def fave Willy Shakes play)William Shakespeare
The Adventures of Tom SawyerYesMark Twain
Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsYesJ K Rowling
FrankensteinYesMary Shelley
The BibleYesVarious
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo *Yes*Steig Larsson
The Count of Monte Cristo*Yes*Alexandre Dumas
The Fault in Our Stars John Green
The Colour Purple Alice Walker
East of Eden John Steinbeck
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Betty Smith
Catch 22YesJoseph Heller
In Cold Blood Truman Capote
The Stand Stephen King
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland*Yes*Lewis Carroll
Watership DownYes x like 12Richard Adams
Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
Ender’s GameYesOrson Scottcard
Great ExpectationsYesCharles Dickens
Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier
Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanYesJ K Rowling
The Old Man and the SeaYesErnest Hemingway
A Game of Thrones *Yes*George R R Martin
The Princess BrideYesWilliam Goldman
Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryYesRoald Dahl
The Life of Pi Piin Elama
The Pillars of the Earth Ken Follet
Les Miserables Victor Hugo
The Scarlet LetterYesNathaniel Hawthorne
DraculaYesBram Stoker
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceYesJ K Rowling
Catching Fire*Yes*Suzanne Collins
Water for Elephants Sara Gruen
The RavenYesEdgar Allen Poe
The Secret Life of Bees Sue Monk Kidd
Outlander*FUCKING NEVER*Diana Gabaldon
One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver
The Good Earth Pearl S Buck
The Time Traveler’s WifeYesAudrey Niffenegger
The OdysseyYes (if reading it in Latin counts)Homer
Celebrating Silence Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving
And Then There Were None Agatha Christie
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks*Yes*Rebecca Skloot
The Thorn Birds Colleen McCullough
The Glass Castle Jeannette Walls
Mockingjay*Yes*Suzanne Collins
The Things They CarriedYesTim O’Brien
The Road Cormac McCarthy
Cutting for Stone Abraham Verghese
The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoyevsky
SiddharthaYesHermann Hesse
Beloved*Yes*Toni Morrison
The Story of my Life Helen Keller
Phantom TollboothYesNorton Juster
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler E L Konigsburg
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky

As of 12/15/2020, I’ve read 62 of the 100 books and screamed angrily at Outlander before giving up. Granted, a lot of them I read in high school, so I don’t remember a ton about them. Look at me, being impressive!

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

When I couldn’t finish Outlander, I freaked out that I was a bad reader and just yanked for any old audiobook at my library so I could finish something.

This was that book.

The Book

A Court of Thorns and Roses read 2021A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
2015
Amazon Link

Honestly I have no idea what this one’s going to be about heading into it, but I’m guessing it’s supposed to be like store-brand Game of Thrones going by the title and date of publication.

Non-Spoiler Review

When I first started reading this book, I thought it seemed a lot like The Hunger Games series. It used words like “blood” and “roast” and “roses” more than should be theoretically possible. It contained a main character who was a hunter using bows and arrows. That character, Feyre, was a woman, and she had useless sisters (sure, Katniss had one sister, but whatever). If you have a problem with Collins’s writing style, the writing style of this book won’t please you.

The plot, as well, was pure disappointment. About 1/3 of the way through, I thought to myself, “Is this Beauty and the Beast but with characters sexy in the way Edward was sexy in Twilight?” That is to say, “are these creepy, immortal pedophiles stalking this young woman and giving her Stockholm syndrome?”

And the answer is yes, yes that was what the book was about. If you’ve watched/read/heard glancingly about Beauty and the Beast, there’s no real reason to read this book. There’s no surprises.

There were some attempts made to show the character wasn’t a terrible pushover, and there were obvious struggles to get Feyre not to seem brainwashed (they failed). Something that bothered me a lot though was how many times she was covered in blood. It seemed like every other chapter she became drenched with blood and talked about it profusely. Sure, you can do that once or twice a book, but this was ridiculous.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS AHOY

I spoiled it above because I said it was Beauty and the Beast. Sure, there was the “epic battle scenes” where Feyre has to defeat the witch who put the spell on the Spring Court (fey Tamlin’s castle thingy), but really there was nothing to the book. People on writing websites keep wanting revamped fairy tales, though, so I guess this fits the bill.

But why Beauty and the Beast? It’s a terrible story, really. I don’t see why someone would want to start with that as an inspiration.

Next week:

It’s the beginning of December, so there’s something new in the air! Stick around!

Book Review: Mass Effect: Revelation

Oh yeah, I realize this is supposed to be a trashy novel. I realize this thing was a cash grab meant to go along with the triple-A Mass Effect game. Published the same year the first Mass Effect game came out, I became interested because this author was the guy who wrote the first two games in the series.

The Book

51tbjieuzqlMass Effect: Revelation
Author: Drew Karpyshyn
2007
Amazon Link

Haha, I wouldn’t have spent real money on this. I saw it on the science fiction shelf at the library and thought, “What the heck. I love the Mass Effect game series.” It was short enough that I didn’t think it would take too much time out of my day, but long enough that I don’t feel guilty for making an entire review out of it.

Non-Spoiler Review

This book is what I would call quintessential cash-grab garbage. It was fun as heck and went along really well with the game. It makes me kind of want to play through the series again because I’m way more informed about Captain Anderson’s past. As a whole, if you enjoyed the games, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

At the same time, be aware that Karpyshyn’s style contains all the same, weird failings of the games. Everyone is sexualized in a weird, over-the-top manner, and the Asari aliens are still mostly a fetish that he tries to temper with idealism about their diplomatic power. The game at least allows you to believe that your actions are actually solving problems, but without the struggle to succeed, the problem solving and information gathering conducted by Anderson seems… broken. His choices don’t always make sense.

Anyway, not worth reading if you’re not into the games, but actually pretty interesting if you did like the Mass Effect trilogy.

3/5 Discoball Snowcones

3 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

If you’ve played the game, you know the big twists in the first Mass Effect are:

  1. Saren really is a bad guy
  2. Saren’s ship, Sovereign, is an evil alien that brainwashes people
  3. Matriarch Benezia has ENORMOUS boobs

Two out of those three are essentially spoiled by the novel. I think the reveal is more dramatic in the game, so I’d play the games first, then come back and read the novel if you’re that desperate. If you played the games,  you probably know most of what happened in the book. You know that Anderson failed to become the first human specter. You know the council is a worthless POS.

The book really did feel like extra background information that you didn’t need but might be interested in if you’re hardcore.

Next week:

I will be reading the first of James Reasoner’s “Civil War Battle Series,” Manassas. It doesn’t look good, not one whit, but I decided to give it a try anyway!

Book Review: Rebel Mechanics

I’m a sucker for weird alternate histories. An absolute sucker.

In this one, the British nobility have magical powers that helped them put down the damn 1776 rebellion. Since the rebellion, though, industrialization has happened and the nonmagical might be catching up.

OH. YEAH.

The Book

51s4riwsw5lRebel Mechanics
Author: Shanna Swendson
2015
Amazon Link

I saw this book in my library and for some reason read the back cover. I saw that it was YA/middle grade, so I begrudgingly put it back, thinking it was ridiculous to read this sucker. Ridiculous, yes, but exactly up my alley. Steampunk? Alternate history? Fantasy? How had I thought this wasn’t for me in the first place?

I went back to the library and checked that sucker out.

Non-Spoiler Review

I really enjoyed this book. Like, really enjoyed this book, probably more than I rightfully should have. This was the first book in a long time that I literally couldn’t put down.  There were a couple chapters I re-read not because I didn’t grasp them but because I was like “OMG I HAVE TO.” In fact, I liked it so much that I swear I’ll finish them one day when I feel like I have the time to finish the series all in one go.

That hasn’t happened since Ancillary Justice with me.

Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s not the most artful book. It’s not a complex book or one filled with intriguing adult themes. It’s an absolute romp, but the plot kept me on the edge of my seat. The relationships, even the love angle, were done beautifully. Every single twist was built with intricate detail. Not only that, but the ending wrapped up all the plot lines but left you with this desire to see how the newest relationships and the still lingering societal threat of revolution would play out.

If you are at all interested in steampunk or Victorian books, this one is an absolute gem to start with.  It’s also fine for the youts.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

This was a plot-centered book, so spoilers really are crappy if you plan on reading it. TURN BACK NOW.

Anyway, main character Verity started out as just a normal bastard child who had silly, romantic dreams of being a governess like Jane Eyre. By witnessing a robbery on her train, she is late for the interview and forced to accept transportation from some mechanics and their machine.

Turns out, those people were rebels.

Turns out, they figured they could befriend her and get her to spy for them.

Turns out, the man Verity was going to work for had been the asshole who’d robbed the train in the first place!

In the end, Verity had to convince her magical/thieving boss to work with her rebel mechanic friends to save a bunch of machines and prevent the revolution from breaking out immediately, which would have caused untold deaths.

My god, the twists just sound ridiculous here, but Swendson puts hints and tips in just right. Verity works well as a main character because she possesses those heroic traits that keep her right on the edge of trouble.  Damn, people, just read this book. It’s underrated.

Next week:

I’m going to be reading another novel that I classified as ‘trashy’: Mass Effect: Revelation. I was pleased as punch by this book, so will the next one be as successful? Tune in next time to find out!

Reading List – November 2020

You know what I’ve read a lot of this year? Freaking classics.  Important books that you’re supposed to look at deeply and analyze for way more than just “did I like it.”

This month, we’re delving into the trash-heap of stupid books that interest me for no reason other than the fact that I like some silly nonsense on the back cover.

Rebel Mechanics – Shanna Swendson

51s4riwsw5lI don’t know what this book is about and I’ve never heard of it before. It’s also YA, which I don’t typically dabble in much. However, it’s also about an alternate universe in which British royalty have magic and used that magic in order to put down the 1776 Rebellion in the Americas. Now, in this steampunk novel, there’s a new batch of rebels brewing up (lol, tea party reference).

So yeah, this likely-trashy book is right up my alley, and I don’t care what you think about me for reading it.

Mass Effect: Revelation – Drew Karpyshyn

51tbjieuzqlThe Mass Effect game trilogy was just fantastic. If you discount the actual ending or believe in Indoctrination Theory, it had an amazing story with great player interactivity. It’s widely considered one of the greatest sets of games ever produced.

So I found out recently that a novel was published alongside the first game in 2007, and it was written by the head writer for the first two games. Gah, I suckered in and read this so hard. So hard.

Manassas – James Reasoner

41ojiwvzd0l._sx332_bo1204203200_I checked this book out at my library because I have an unfinished Civil-War era novel sitting on my computer, and I didn’t know how much detailed research people expect from historical fiction. Since my book revolves around Chickamauga and Sherman’s March, I wanted to read a book that focused on a battle and see how that worked. This book was at my library, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Also, the eighth book in this “The Civil War Battle Series” is about Chickamauga, so I want to test and see if this is worth continuing.

The Leftovers: Something from YOU?

Do you have a published book and a method of purchasing it that isn’t sketch as hell?  I need indie books to read next year, and those slots will be opening before you know it!  Let me know if you have something you’d like me to peruse!

See my old reviews here

Book Review: Her Name Was Abby

Peter Martenuac posted his book in my handy-dandy review request form on my book review request page! My rules for answering a review request are there, if you want to risk it.

The Book

Her Name was Abby
Author: Peter Martuneac
2020
Amazon Link

I’ll admit I like zombies. I’ll admit I’m always looking for good action. And I’ll be damned if I pass up an indie book that seems to promise both.

Usually I reserve this section for “why I read the book” and an intro, but I wanted to say here that some rather intense and somewhat violent situations occur within the book. They are, indeed, well done, but you might want to know that if you’re considering the read.

Also, I apologize that I’m no longer cursing in my reviews, but Amazon keeps taking them down from their site when I do that.

Non-Spoiler Review

This book was right up my alley. Written with intense historical context, rich backdrop, and enough introduction that I didn’t feel like I required the first book, I just gobbled this up. Make it through the first part, and you’ll be in a whirlwind of emotion that just doesn’t stop. Read this with an eye for historical metaphors, and you’ll be rewarded immensely.

Let’s go with the simple first: the tension is great. Main character Abby struggles in the beginning to find her way through the wilds. Though the book’s main plot and intensity picks up a lot in Part II, the beginning fits very thematically and adds to the sense of horror that Abby must pull herself through. Once Part II starts, Abby meets compelling characters like Hector and Hiamovi. As members of a resistance faction against the emergency government, they’re idealists who you’ve just got to like. Throw Derrick, a good-looking member of the enemy, into the mix, and you’ve got sexual tension that I didn’t expect from an action book. I kid you not, the sexual and romantic tension was just so good. (More about that in the spoilers section). There’s no safety for any character in this book. I won’t spoil who lives or dies, but I will say that Martuneac obviously killed off the main character in Book 1, His Name Was Zach. Be afraid for your favorites!

Martuneac can write a really good fight scene. It might be introduced with a deep-dive into some war-based minutia, but the movement isn’t too punch-by-punch to withstand nor is it too sparse. Though some of the minutia – such as talking about gear – seems a bit dull, it served two purposes for me. One, it did help me predict tactics and understand the battlefield. Two: metaphors.

THIS BOOK WAS CHOCK FULL OF ALLUSIONS TO AMERICAN HISTORY. The president was Cyrus Arthur, for goodness’ sake. When I read about his corruption, his wife’s mysterious death, vice-presidency-to-presidency, and his VERY NAME, I instantly thought “Chester A. Arthur.” The book also referenced Ulysses S. Grant. It’s the Guilded Age, you guys. There was a Moby-Dick like reverence and study of tools, an apocalyptic event that forced movement to the west (zombies in the book, Civil War in real life), Indian Wars (I’M NOT KIDDING), and treatises on inequality that reminded me of 19th century American history.

The book’s metaphorical reconstruction, complete with martial law and obligatory lawlessness following the apocalypse, mirrors a Post-Civil War landscape. There’s a sort of idea that the “Lincoln” of the story, the president before Arthur, was killed before his time and that everything was worse for it. There’s rampant corruption in the upper eschelons. If you read this with an eye for these things, it adds so much flavor to what you’re consuming.

But there’s also a major, major difference between what happened in history and what happened in this book: Abby. While putting a modern world through an explosion and comparing our current situation to the past, Martuneac also posited that our future doesn’t need to mirror that which has already happened. The moral that one person could make a difference really did it for me. Together with the action, that made this book one of the best indie books I’ve read this year.

I’ll admit that some of the detailed description of weapons systems, equipment, and “how-to” battle could get a bit tedious, especially at the beginning where there wasn’t as much character tension. The beginning could have been shortened or integrated better from a plot standpoint, but it did serve the purpose of making a reader unfamiliar with Book 1 catch up really quick, and it added to the historical themes. The ending worked very well and wrapped up all plotlines, but there were a few things I would have enjoyed seeing instead.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Look, this book came out in 2020, so how dare I spoil much?

All I’m going to talk about here is that little love triangle. If you want no spoilers, don’t read further. This is a major part of the book that adds tension.

What makes the love triangle in this book so compelling is that both love interests, Hiamovi the rebel and Derrick the president’s son, are great. You have to like them both because they’re honest, earnest, and hardworking. You understand why Abby is two-timing, and you feel for her, and you just can’t choose how to finish out this storyline.

I think what Martuneac chose was probably one of the best options out there, but by the time I got to that resolution I severely wanted a threesome. Gosh darn it, both those boys were good, and I’d have been fine if they’d turned out bi or ok with sharing. They seemed like people who could have been friends, and their jealousy over Abby was just not going to let it happen.

But oh! Oh, it would have been a great solution. In my little, bleeding heart, anyway. It’d probably screw up book three, though.

Next week:

NOVEMBER (*Parks and Rec song where Andy sings “November” to April plays in the background*). Stay tuned for some dank new reviews!

Reading List – October 2020

This is my final indie book month of 2020!

Soul’s Choice – Kerri Davidson

soul's choice reading 2020I’ve followed Kerri Davidson on Twitter for a while – partly because she’s a social media genius, and partly because she’s very, very funny. She’s long had a few graphic novels (about drunken chickens) for sale, but she recently came up with the first novel for a debut series. A paranormal novel about souls? Death and life? It seems really interesting! For better or worse, Davidson’s book is not available through Amazon, but I did buy it myself and have not yet been a victim of credit card fraud.

Bag of Lettuce Books – Have checked, is legit, but prices are in Canadian dollars

The Spinner’s Child – Crispina Kemp

The Spinner's Child Spinner's game read 2020Crispina Kemp has been updating her blog to give snippits and hints about her 5-book series, The Spinner’s Game. I’ve thus been excited about this one for quite some time! Just a few months ago, she announced her series’ debut. Unfortunately, I just have the first volume in the set ready for review, but perhaps more reviews will be in stock later!

Amazon Link 

Her Name was Abby – Peter Martenuac

31nlju7qpylI have a review request form on my page (which you can check out if you’ve published a book), and Martenuac made use of it. I thought a zombie apocalypse book was right up my alley. I’m a little wary that this is the second book in a series, but you know what? I’ll give a ton of respect to any second book that can hold its own.

Amazon Link

The Leftovers: Something from YOU?

Do you have a published book and a method of purchasing it that isn’t sketch as hell? I’m always willing to entertain indie books for review. I’ll leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon pretty reliably, and you might even see a review on this blog! Go to my request page here for more.

See my old reviews here