Book Review and Giveaway When Blood Reigns by Barbara Custer

Title: When Blood Reigns
Author: Barbara Custer
Genre: Horror / Science Fiction
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Marked for death, Alexis accompanies her lover, Yeron, and four survivors of a zombie invasion on a search for the renegades who created a chemical that induces a zombie-like state. On the way, ravenous flesh-eaters attack Alexis’s team; one survivor turns on her. She realizes too late that the renegades have been tracking her every move. When officials capture her, she becomes deathly ill. Can DNA splicing save her? Will Yeron’s attempts at rescue jeopardize all their lives?

I started reading When Blood Reigns right after I finished watching Van Helsing, a tv series about a zombie apocalypse with vampires instead of zombies. Both put me in the same mindset: slightly spooked, slightly paranoid, afraid a zombie might turn up any moment, feeling like I couldn’t trust a single of the characters besides the main character, and that not all survivors might have the best of intentions.
Alexis is an intriguing protagonist, and I particularly liked how she grew and changed throughout the book. The author’s combination of a zombie apocalypse with aliens and science-fiction elements is a huge bonus too. The Kryszka, as the aliens are called in this book, have a hand in the zombie apocalype now infesting earth, and that’s an unique spin. I don’t want to give anymore away about the relationships between the main cast, the zombeies, and the Kryszka, but it’s very compelling and entertaining.
As with all apocalypse survivor stories, you get a sense of hopelessness. Not only is the world getting destroyed, there’s also no one left to trust. Good guys turn into bad guys. People who should rely on each other, betray each other.
The writing is solid, and once I started reading, I kept turning page after page, curious to find out what would happen next to these characters. Not for the faint of heart (it is horror, after all) but definitely an enjoyable, suspenseful read for fans of horror and scifi.
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Book Review The Visitor by Brent Ayscough

Title: The Visitor
Author: Brent Ayscough
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Tasked by the Federation of Planets to determine if Earthlings present a threat as they venture into space, Tak, an alien anthropologist, leaves her starship orbiting Earth and takes a shuttle to Kansas. Intending to study humans in the United States—as she has learned no Earth language but English—she is detected while descending through the atmosphere and only evades capture by fleeing to Europe, where she lands in Poland. There, she meets an international arms merchant, Baron Von Limbach, who becomes her guide. She studies “typical” human behavior by accompanying the baron as he fulfills his latest assignment—to get the Dalai Lama back into Tibet. His method of halting the communist takeover of Tibet is to create a race-specific Ebola that will only attack Han Chinese, giving Tak a prime example of how barbaric humans can be. However, the CIA and US military are aware of Tak’s presence on Earth and are determined to capture her. And if she is unable to complete her mission and return to her starship—her captain will destroy every living thing on Earth.

In The Visitor, Tak, an alien anthropologist, is charged with studyng the humans of the United States in an effort to determine if Earthlings present a threat. She’s only learned one Earth language, English, so the US is a natural choice to go to…except she’s detected when descending through the atmosphere and can narrowly escape capture by fleeing to Europe. She eventually lands in Poland, where she meets an international arms dealer, Baron Von Limbach, who becomes her guide and study object.

But the Baron isn’t exactly a good example of humanity’s kindness, love and compassion, as his latest plan is to stop the communist takeover of Tibet by creating a race-specific version of the Ebola virus. This was actually a very chilling part of the book, because it sounded like something that could be done in real life, if only you brought the right people together. Chilling, to say the least.

Tak is an intriguing character, and her mission is quite dangerous. The combination of a terrorism weapon and threat and science fiction, with the aliens and how they think about humans, is an interesting combination.

I loved this book, and finished it in one sitting. Recommended to fans of science fiction.

Book Review: One God – The Will To Power

onegod_coverTitle: One God – The Will To Power
Author: Kata Mlek
Genre: Dystopian, Technothriller, Science Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Miran Zyelinski has had enough of ethics and laws getting in the way of progress.

Nothing—not the government, not the church, and certainly not lesser men—will hold back Miran’s vision for humankind: immortality.

Miran will need wealth, brilliance, and ruthlessness to achieve his goal. Andreas can provide wealth, but must be paid in his own currency, and his price is high. Satia has brilliance and ruthlessness to match Miran, but their mix is volatile.

Opposed on all sides, Miran will not waver from his goal of immortality. The question is not whether he will succeed, but who will be left alive when he does.

Based on real-world developments in biology and genetics, this technothriller rolls relentlessly through unexpected twists and continuous shifts of power, culminating in a tempting, disturbing, and altogether-too-likely vision of the future, where one corporation gains almost total control over the world.

Book 1 of 3. Includes The Genesis Files, bonus micro-fiction and art from the world of One God.

Note: contains strong language and some disturbing scenes. For mature readers only.

In One God – The Will To Power, ambitious scientist Miran Zyelinski has had enough of ethics and laws getting in the way of progress. He has one vision in mind for all of humanity: immortality. But if he wants to achieve this goal, he’ll need to be ruthless. He’ll need a lot of funds too, and a brilliant mind. But can he succeed, or will the price be too high?

This is a tough novel to read, and to review. There’s a lot of ruthlessness, competitiveness and harshness, and it’s a novel showcasing evil in all its forms – humanity’s evil, from its corruptness to its willingness to put aside morals and dignity just to achieve their goals. It is hard to find a character woth having sympathy for, but despite most of the characters having a wicked streak, they still come across as very… human. Raw, harsh, evil, but still human.

It’s a dark book set in a dark, bleak world, where devastation lies around every corner and people are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve what they want. The kicker is that it doesn’t seem that farfetched from the world we live in today.

An explosive, ruthless start to a new series, one that fans of thrillers and science fiction will enjoy.

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Book Review: Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple

dystortions-eimage-coverTitle: Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple
Author: Lisa Pell
Genre: Scifi / Mystery
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple is a tale of mystery, murder, and love in a parallel universe, with a bit of humor. Addy O’Malibul is a former journalist who is convicted of murder and imprisoned on a planet called Malaprop, strikingly similar to Earth, but with a few twists and many Dystortions in translations of data transmissions from a planet known as Hearth. Glitched up radio communications are bombarding Malaprop – a world where fearful national security analysts, politicians, and P.R. flacks re-write history and distort facts to recreate their reality in Hearth’s image. The Dystortions in those radio communications sometimes appear to twist words backwards and create opposite meanings, but maybe also reveal underlying truths.

There’s just enough good science and wacked-out myth-busting to make the story hauntingly credible – and enough saucy romance to keep things hot. It’s much warmer and more colorful than any shades of grey.

Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple tells the story of Addy O’Malibul, a former journalist who is convicted of murder and imprisoned on the planet Malaprop, which is strikingly similar to Earth. One of the differences is that Malaprop suffers from Dystortions in translations of data transmissions, with glitched up radio communications. The Dystortions are actually quite intriguing – while changing and twisting data, they often reveal underlying truths.

I enjoyed the parallel universe of Malaprop, and how they want to be like Hearth, and how everyone, politicians and media alike, twist words to rewrite history and change facts – not that very different from earth, if you look at the core of it. Addy was an amazing character. She started out as your every day protagonist with a pretty regular life, until things turned south for her, and she had to adapt to her new circumstances of life. I especially liked the way she changed and grew throughout the story.

The plot also has a good amount of humor, and the writing is good too. This is an excellent scifi mystery for fans of the genre.

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Book Review: S.H.A.Y. by Christina Leigh Pritchard

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00033]Title: S.H.A.Y
Author: Christina Leigh Pritchard
Genre: Science Fiction Romance
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Shay is scientific experiment #318. Science may have created her, but she refuses to allow it to blind her to the difference between right and wrong…

Synthetic Hominid Assumed Youth (S.H.A.Y.) is eighteen years old, which means she has completed Phase One: Developmental. Shay no longer requires the assistance of her Optional Human Parent, Darla, who has guided her in the process of discovering her morality. Shay loves her easy, charming life aboard the marine research facility and doesn’t want it to change.

Phase Two: Experimental. All S.H.A.Y. ages 18-20 will experience loss…

Darla shouldn’t have to die because of an experiment. The thought of losing the only parent she’s ever known is too much. Determined to make sure the scientists at the facility don’t get their way, Shay entraps Darla in a transport device to escape across the Miami Border. There, on the mainland, law enforcement will keep her human parent safe.

Escape Mission: Failed…

Shay crashes into one of the lone keys off the coast of Florida, abandoned to all humanity, except for the stranger who drags her ashore. Shay must get Darla to safety or she will die of radiation poisoning trapped inside the freeze portal, but Shay can’t do it alone.

The boy who found her, an Ersatz Reproduction Intelligence Clone (E.R.I.C.), is her only hope. He has adaptation skills she needs to complete her mission. Eric was created by the same scientists who want to kill Darla, though. She tries to keep their interaction strictly business, but it’s hard to hate him. He’s flirty, charming and not to mention devastatingly handsome.

Shay must put her trust in Eric’s hands if she wants to save Darla from her fate. It may be worth her heart, but will it be worth her life?

S.H.A.Y is science fiction romance at its finest. Shay, our protagonist, has just turned eighteen, which means she has completed phase one: developmental, and that she no longer requires assistance of her optional human parent. She’s a synthetic hominid assumed youth (S.H.A.Y.) created by science… but that doesn’t mean she wants science to define her. She has morals, she has feelings, and when phase two : experimental, means she has to experience loss, in the form of losing Darla, her parent, she is determined to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Shay has formed an escape plan, but it all goes south very soon. She crashes into an island off the coast of Florida, and is rescued by E.R.I.C, a boy whose adaptation skills she’ll need if she wants to keep Darla safe – but he is created by the same scientists who want to kill Darla. Can she trust him?

This was an amazing read. The story was so original, and so fast-paced and thrilling that once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. Since this is a novella, it’s a short read, but an intriguing one all the same. I’m excited to learn more about the characters in the second book.

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Book Review: The Moreva of Astoreth by Roxanne Bland

moa-cover-lighter-1Title: The Moreva of Astoreth
Author: Roxanne Bland
Genre: Science Fiction
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

In the world-building tradition of Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Moreva of Astoreth is a blend of science fiction, romance, and adventure in a unique, richly imagined imperialistic society in which gods and science are indelibly intertwined. It is the story of priestess, scientist, and healer Moreva Tehi, the spoiled, headstrong granddaughter of a powerful goddess who is temporarily exiled from Temple life in her beloved desert home to a volatile far northern corner of the planet for neglecting to perform her sacred duty, only to venture into dangerous realms of banned experimentation, spiritual rebirth, and fervent, forbidden love.

The Moreva of Astoreth is an interesting blend of fantasy and science fiction. For me, the only downside to the book would be the cover. I just don’t connect with it. I know a lot of fantasy authors like these kind of 3D renderings of characters – and granted, finding stock images or something for a character looking like Moreva, is impossible, but still. I would’ve preferred an illustration above the current graphic on the cover.

That aside, they say don’t judge a book by its cover, and the contents of this book are pretty solid. The story goes like this: Moreva Tehi is the granddaughter of a powerful goddess. Because she refuses to do as the goddess says, she’s temporarily banished, and send to the far northern corner of the planet as punishment. There, she learns more about herself than she ever thought possible, tries to find a cure for the Red Fever tormenting her planet, and even falls in love.

A lot of things happen in the course of the book, but I don’t want to spoil them, so I kept the synopsis brief. Moreva is a strong character. At the beginning, she was quite annoying, and it felt like she was being rebellious just for the sake of it. But, as with all interesting characters, she changed and grew a lot throughout the book, and I started liking her more and more.

The author did a phenomenal job crafting worthy secondary characters too. Often, authors pour all their energy into crafting a well-rounded, three-dimensional main chareacter and then end up having boring, bland secondary characters. Here, the author obviously put a lot of effort into every single character, with strengths, weaknesses, and their very own personalities.

The world building was impressive too, especially since so much happens – and it all makes sense. Not once does the book venture into territory of the impossible – of course it’s fantasy so things that happen are impossible in real life, but I mean that it’s never impossible for the rules of this world.

It’s a truly impressive book. I would give it a 4 star rating, if not for the cover and for how the writing could be a little tighter in some places (for example, sometimes we do get a rather lengthy exposition of daily tasks that could be left out or shortened). But seriously, I really enjoyed this, and I think it would be a great read for every mature science fiction / fantasy fan.

Book Review: Fractal by Rachel J. Mannino

fractal-cover-mediumTitle: Fractal
Author: Rachel J. Mannino
Genre: Science Fiction / Romance
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Anna keeps to herself in rural North Carolina, raising her younger brother and never dreaming she might not be human. A ship descends from the sky and the handsome alien, Varick, proclaims that she is the long-lost ruler of his planet, forced to flee from their world by an experiment gone wrong. Determined to discover her heritage, she journeys with Varick to their abandoned planet. Along the way, Varick strengthens her belief in herself as she struggles to be the leader her people need. Anna discovers that as soon as they return, the Council will force her to marry a man she’s never met, even while her heart is drawn towards Varick. A romance between the Vadana and her Protector is forbidden above all, and can only end in Varick’s death. A prophet warns Anna and Varick that they can heal their solar system, but they can’t let anything stand in their way. Their growing love for each other will either save their world, or bring about destruction.

In Fractal, Anna has led a mostly quiet life – until now. She’s spend the last years taking care of her borther, raising him after her parents’ death, running a flower shop, and basically just being an ordinary person. That is, until the handsome alien Varick who shows up, who claims she’s the long-lost ruler of his planet, forced to flee from their world. Determined to find out more about who she truly is, Anna lets Varick take her with him, but the choice of finding out more about her home, her legacy, is not without consequences.

If Varick, the Protector, falls in love with the Vadana, in this case Anna, it could have disastrous consequences for both of them. As Anna learns that upon her return, the Council will force her to marry a man she’s never met, and a prophet tells Anna and Varick that they can heal their solar system, if they let nothing stand in their way, she begins to question if her feelings for Varick are real, and if so, if she can trust her own heart or needs to deny it.

This book reminded me a lot of Pocahontas, but then set in outer space. Anna falls for Varick although they’re vastly different, and they can’t be together because others won’t allow it (so in that way, it reminded me of Pocahontas and John Smith’s relationship). Of course, it’s a very different story! The world author Rachel J. Mannino creates is very large, and I feel like we’ve only seen a fraction from it in this book, and much more is to come.

Varick was, no doubt, my favorite character. Handsome, headstrong men do tend to be my favorites in fiction, and he fits that bill.

Fractal is an intriguing, sizzling scifi romance about love, choices, consequences and destiny.

Book Review Murder in the Generative Kitchen

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00054]Title: Murder in the Generative Kitchen
Author: Meg Pontecorvo
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

With the Vacation Jury Duty system, jurors can lounge on a comfortable beach while watching the trial via virtual reality. Julio is loving the beach, as well as the views of a curvy fellow juror with a rainbow-lacquered skin modification who seems to be the exact opposite of his recent ex-girlfriend back in Chicago. Because of jury sequestration rules, they can’t talk to each other at all, or else they’ll have to pay full price for this Acapulco vacation. Still, Julio is desperate to catch her attention. But while he struts and tries to catch her eye, he also becomes fascinated by the trial at hand.

 At first it seemed a foregone conclusion that the woman on trial used a high-tech generative kitchen to feed her husband a poisonous meal, but the more evidence mounts, the more Julio starts to suspect the kitchen may have made the decision on its own.

Murder in the Generative Kitchen has got to be one of the most original scifi books I’ve ever read. First, imagine it’s not a perosn who kills another person – it’s a kitchen. Then, jury duty basically being a beach holiday where you watch the trial via virtual reality. Suddenly jury duty sounds a lot more interesting, doesn’t it? That’s what happens to Julio, who after a bad break-up with his girlfriend, finds himself interested in one of his fellow jurors. But talking to her is strictly forbidden.

The question on whether the kitchen did the killing, or the person did, was what intrigued me the most about this book. The characters were well-developed, in particular Julio, and the writing was engaging. An intriguing view on a high-tech, futuristic world.

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Book Review: Rimrider by L.A. Kelley

rimrider-cover-lakelley-300dpi-3125x4167Title: Rimrider
Author: L.A. Kelley
Genre: YA Space Opera
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Teenager Jane Benedict is awakened by her father and ordered to memorize a mysterious code. Hours later, Mathias Benedict is dead and Jane and her brother, Will, are wards of United Earth Corporation. To evade the company’s murderous clutches and uncover the meaning of her father’s last message, Jane leads Will on a desperate escape across the galaxy aboard the Freetrader smuggler ship, Solar Vortex. Tangled in the crew’s fight against UEC, Jane saves the life of young smuggler Maclan Sawyer and learns her father’s code identifies a secret cargo shipment that can spell doom for the entire Freetrader cause and the extinction of an alien race.

                Piracy, intrigue, romance, and a daring rebellion from Earth wait on the planet Rimrock. Will Jane answer the call to adventure and find new purpose on the galactic rim or will death for high treason be her fate?

 What a fast-paced, thrilling adventure set in space. Jane Benedict’s father wakes her up and orders her to memorize a mysterious code. Hours later, he’s dead and Jane and her brother Will are wards of the United Earth Corporation. They manage to escape and flee across the galaxy across the Solar Vortex, a Freetrader smuggler ship. With the crew fighting against the United Earth Corporation, Jane learns more about her father’s mysterious cargo, and how it connects to the fate of an entire race.

I really liked Jane. She’s clever, brave, and she grows a lot throughout the book. The other characters were intriguing too, but Jane was my favorite. The author did a phenomenal job with the world building and setting in this scifi novel – the setting isn’t overly complicated, and as a reader, you can easily connect with the characters and follow the story.

I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Book Review: The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi

27405533Title: The Night Parade

Author: Ronald Malfi

Genre: Science Fiction, Horror

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

First the birds disappeared.
Then the insects took over.
Then the madness began . . .
They call it Wanderer’s Folly–a disease of delusions, of daydreams and nightmares. A plague threatening to wipe out the human race.
After two years of creeping decay, David Arlen woke up one morning thinking that the worst was over. By midnight, he’s bleeding and terrified, his wife is dead, and he’s on the run in a stolen car with his eight-year-old daughter, who may be the key to a cure.
Ellie is a special girl. Deep. Insightful. And she knows David is lying to her. Lying about her mother. Lying about what they’re running from. And lying about what he sees when he takes his eyes off the road . . .

Once again, Ronald Malfi’s writing totally blew me away in The Night Parade. This author knows how to write, how to make the words shine on the page, how to craft a story that stands out from others, and stays with you, long after reading.

David Arlen’s world has fallen apart. Wanderer’s Folly, a disease that causes daydreams, nightmares and delusions, is wrecking the entire world, turning people into zombie-like creatures, and eventually killing them. The disease spreads randomly, and no one knows how you get infected. What they do know is that the cure is hidden somewhere inside the body of David’s wife.

But now she’s dead, and the doctors who hurt her, now want his daughter Ellie, who holds the same miracle cure. But David isn’t willing to give Ellie up, not even for the good of mankind. They flee across the country, chased by the disease that strikes randomly, haunted by the remnants of human civilization.

Ellie is a wonderful little girl. She’s nine, and sometimes she acts like a child, sometimes more like an adult – but for her, it makes sense to act that way. She’s a very kind, loving, gentle child, and she touched my heart. David too was an intriguing character. Being the adult he’s left to make the tough choices, and since the book is told from his POV, we spend most time inside his mind, which I did enjoy – he was complex yet relatable.

The book isn’t exactly scary. For horror, it’s rather tame: you don’t get gore (not that much at least) or supernatural over-the-top scares. What you do get is a slow build up of dread. Even though it’s not scary, you do grow scared. The author manages to pull the reader into the story with such excellence that you become part of the story, you feel the dread David feels, your anxiety grows as things are revealed. You can’t just sit and relax: you have to keep on turning the page.

I already look forward to reading my next Ronald Malfi book.