#BookReview: Almost Midnight by Caroline Swart

Action Packed Series Starter. This is one of those series starters that ends on an “oh SH!T” cliffhanger – and while it could possibly be debated if the story should have continued on from there in a longer tale, it also told a complete story to that point, so I’m personally comfortable leaving the rating at 5* rather than deducting a star for blatant cash grab. But I could also see other readers making a different call on that point.

Still, for what the story actually is up to that point, and even through that point in making the reader want the next book *right this second*… this is a truly great book. The story has elements of a wide variety of known and not-as-known scifi, from Amy Adams’ Arrival to Neil Blomkamp’s District 9 to Jeremy Robinson’s Unity to Meg Pechenick’s Vardeshi Saga, and yet still manages to feel fresh and unique even within its lost memory / alien invasion / sudden awakening type of story.

This is one that contains several elements of several different genres (including a few teases of romance), so certainly nearly everyone will likely find something here to like – and thus the book could have near universal appeal to some level.

Overall a strong tale well told, and I’m truly looking forward to the next book here. Very much recommended.

This review of Almost Midnight by Caroline Swart was originally written on November 14, 2022.

#BookReview: Khaos by Jeremy Robinson

The New God Of Science Fiction Strikes With His Best Yet. Robinson, the New God of Science Fiction, squarely takes on an element of scifi/ fantasy that he has been circling a bit tangentially for a few books now via Mind Bullet and Tribe in particular, and in this particular book takes the characters from both of those former books + The Dark and combines them into an “Avengers” crossover event… to travel through Khaos and encounter many creatures from the Greek myths. In classic Robinson style, we get a lot of heart, a lot of action, a lot of banter… and in the end… well… you’re going to want to have SINGULARITY, the final book in the Infinite Timelines “MCU approach to storytelling” event, in your hands the moment you finish this book. Yet again, Robinson proves himself capable of using any element of science fiction and spinning his own unique brand of chaotic action into it, masterfully telling his stories his way incorporating any form of prior science fiction, from the ancient to the bleeding edge. Truly masterful, and very much recommended.

This review of Khaos by Jeremy Robinson was originally written on October 8, 2022.

#BookReview: Moonless Nocturne by Hank Schwaeble

Excellent Collection of Darker Scifi Stories. This collection does a great job of spanning a wide range of scifi types and styles, from noir/ hard-boiled detective chasing a mysterious object to concerns about the space race/ nuclear testing to AI to haunted houses to mind-bending psychological thriller, and several others to boot. While Schwaeble uses “dark fantasy” on the cover to describe what is here, to me “fantasy” is more swords/ sorcery level, and the closest you actually get to that in this collection is some stories having a touch of the paranormal to them. Otherwise this is solid scifi/ horror, and great for those “mood”/ “seasonal” readers looking for something a bit darker/ spookier in October. Also great for fans of the Twilight Zone and Hitchcockian suspense, as these stories are right there in that vein. Very much recommended.

This review of Moonless Nocturne by Hank Schwaeble was originally written on October 8, 2022.

#BookReview: Lost In Time by AG Riddle

Interesting Concepts Yet Disjointed Storytelling. This is one of those books where there is nothing objectively wrong with it, and yet it also feels a bit disjointed. Separated into several parts, it could likely have been better separated into a trilogy, with the events of Parts 1 and 2 in one book, 3 and 4 in a second book, and 5 in a final book. Then you could expand each section out beyond what was presented in even these 400 pages (since you’d arguably need at least another couple hundred or so for a third book) and really make the effort to take a good tale into the stratosphere of being among the best in scifi. Overall the specific application of time travel here was one I hadn’t seen in any form since the early 2000s era Jet Li movie The One, and even here the specific direction Riddle applies is unique in my experience and intriguing overall. Ultimately this is a good tale and well told, it just seemed like it could have been better with a different editing approach. Very much recommended.

This review of Lost In Time by AG Riddle was originally written on August 30, 2022.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Extremophile by Rick Chesler

This week we’re looking at arguably the closest Rick Chesler has come to date of telling a tale one would nearly swear could have been written by the late great Michael Crichton. This week, we’re looking at Extremophile by Rick Chesler.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Welcome To Our Ool. Notice There Is No “P” In It. Seriously though, after reading this book you’re never going to look at getting into a pool the same again – and certainly will be particularly careful about any sudden urges to just urinate in one. 😉 Overall a very fun, nearly Crichton-esque, adventure tale of a biotech CEO desperate to save his company and willing to go literally anywhere in the world to do so. And that ending. It won’t be for everyone, but dayum I loved it. Great, fun near future scifi adventure and a relatively short read at 230 ish pages. Perfect for a bit of summer thrills and escapism. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: Aeon Rising by Matthew Mather

This week we’re looking at an action packed series starter from a thrilling scifi author. This week we’re looking at Aeon Rising by Matthew Mather.

Action Packed Series Starter. This is one hell of an action packed series starter for Mather, and one that despite a few similar general ideas (such as crippled communications due to space activity) with his CyberStorm series never gets quite as dark as that one can. Indeed, the darkest thing here is unfortunately all too common, but to reveal it specifically would be a spoiler (though even here, Mather manages to put a scifi twist to it in furtherance of his ultimate series objectives). The different types of action here are reminiscent of everything from nearly-every-Amazon-based-action-movie-you’ve-ever-seen such as Predator or Anaconda, just to name a couple, to more urban based ala Daniel Pyne’s Sentro Security or a Mission Impossible / Jason Bourne type. Throw in some elements similar to Deep Impact, as well as a few other elements of a few other popular tales that would be a touch spoilery to add here, and you’ve truly got a promising start to a potentially long series. This book is mostly set-up without ever truly *feeling* like it is mostly set-up – the action is tightly paced, as is the exposition, there is just *so much here* that by the end it is quite clear that this series is intended as a trilogy at minimum. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: Relativity by Ben Adams

If Douglas Adams Wrote “Men’s Fiction”. Take the hilarity and wit that *Douglas* Adams was known for in his scifi and apply it instead to a tale of three middle aged men each having distinct mid-life crises that all get wrapped up in each other… and you basically have this book. More of a “men’s fiction” tale that explores similar themes as the better known “women’s fiction” genre, but focusing on the guys rather than the gals, this is a wild romp with heart – and a relatively short read at under 250 pages to boot. Adams manages to pack quite a tale within that lower page count though, and the laughs are on nearly every page. Truly a more lighthearted and off-the-wall book that many may need in trying times. Very much recommended.

This review of Relativity by Ben Adams was originally written on May 26, 2022.

#BookReview: Decimate by Christopher Rice

Mind-Bending Scifi Action. This is one of those trippy books that has enough mystery up front to draw you in, a lot of exposition in the middle to make you understand what is coming, and a balls to the wall back third to show off all that you now know within the context of the original setup. At 440 ish pages, it may read a tad long to some, but I felt the length was pretty solid for all that it was doing here. And the ideas it discusses are intriguing in a vein similar to Marcus Sakey’s Afterlife, where death… may only be the beginning. The backstory here was perhaps a well tapped a bit too often in the genre, particularly for anything of this form, and yet was still done well and was truly horrifying (though fortunately not too much of it actually “onscreen”). Overall the tale here was interesting and well told. Very much recommended.

This review of Decimate by Christopher Rice was originally written on May 6, 2022.

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Order by Jeremy Robinson

This week, the Modern Day Master Of Science Fiction ascends to levels truly few authors have ever known. This week, we’re looking at The Order by Jeremy Robinson.

The Master Ascends To Douglas Adams Level. I’ve long considered Jeremy Robinson to be the Modern Day Master of Science Fiction. With this book, he even manages to ascend all the way up to Douglas Adams level scifi insanity – while, like Adams, making the insanity completely work within the tale he is telling here. I’m not going to ruin any of the surprises or the hilarities, because both are awesome and deserve to be experienced without warning. But truly, for those fans of Adams – and he is among the more popular science fiction writers *ever* with his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy -… do yourself a favor and check this one out. Though this *is* one of the final books in Robinson’s “Infinite Timelines” Avengers Level Event, and thus you really do need to read at *bare* minimum Exo-Hunter first (as the story is told through the eyes of our hero from that tale), but also The Others and Flux, the other two books on this branch of the timeline. And as The Dark is referenced heavily, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to read that one before this one either. If you’ve done all of that though, you’re truly going to love how this book comes together – and you’re going to want to read them just so you can get to this book to see just how truly utterly insane (in the best possible ways) it really is. Very much recommended.

#BlogTour: Light Years From Home by Mike Chen

For this blog tour we’re looking at a strong tale remiscenent of both the X-Files and ET: The Extra Terrestrial where scifi is used more as setup for women’s fiction level family drama, but which is still strong enough to comfortably classify the book within the bounds of scifi as well. For this blog tour we’re looking at Light Years From Home by Mike Chen.

Space Opera Scifi For The Women’s Fiction Crowd. This is one of those books where you go into it expecting a lot of scifi… something. Drama, action, maybe comedy, whatever. Instead you get scifi as setup for more women’s fiction type family drama. Which is actually an interesting spin, but which will leave both crowds a bit perplexed. Overall though, Chen actually serves both crowds quite well, with enough of an off-screen hint of a backstory that he could come back to this world and give it the full-on Richard Phillips’ Rho Agenda-style trilogy of trilogies exploring just the stuff he left *off* the page in this book – and yet what he *does* put on the page is truly solid women’s fiction where brother and father’s disappearances set in motion chains of events that mother nor either daughter could have ever dreamed of. Most of the actual tale here is more about the two sisters and how their lives have changed since that moment 15 years ago – and how they can move forward. The climax, with the FBI hot on the siblings’ tails as they race toward brother’s ultimate redemption, is as taught as anything in scifi and is reminiscent of both X-Files (the author’s stated inspiration) and even ET: The Extra Terrestrial. Truly an excellent tale strongly told, and very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Light Years From Home by Mike Chen”