Ultimate Blog Tour Book Review: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

Title: Shards of Earth
Authors: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Length: 592
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Publisher: Tor ((Publishing May 27th, 2021))
Obtained: Ultimate Blog Tour > NetGalley
Disclaimer: A copy of this ebook was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Amazon: amazon.com/dp/B08HLPZY6X
Goodreads: goodreads.com/book/show/55437088-shards-of-earth

This read was part of the Ultimate Blog Tour for Shards of Earth hosted by Dave over at TheWriteReads. A major thank you to the publisher, Tor, and author for allowing me to participate in this tour and for providing me with a copy!


Praise for Adrian Tchaikovsky:

‘Brilliant science fiction’ – James McAvoy on Children of Time 
 
‘Full of sparkling, speculative invention’ – Stephen Baxter on The Doors of Eden 
 
Shards of Earth is the first thrilling instalment in the Final Architecture trilogy – by the Arthur C. Clarke award-winning novelist Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Blurb:

This high-stakes space-based adventure will be perfect for those who loved Children of Time, also by Adrian Tchaikovsky. 
 
The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . . 
 
Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers. 
 
Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans such as Idris – who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete. 
 
Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it. 

Review Summary:

A fantastic and exhilarating space opera. The first book and the entry to the The Final Architecture trilogy, this book grabbed my attention quick and its claws didn’t let me go until the very last page where I sorrowfully craved for more. With a very deep and impressive layout of world and lore, there is so much to explore in Shards of Earth. Multiple different species, factions, religions and extremist groups within those factions, different worlds, different nations, armies and governing bodies, and so much more. The characters are fantastic; a galaxy left to throw different forms of small “found family” groups together; blood families a thing hard to hold down. This book was a book of nonstop adventure and trouble. While there’s the ever looming danger of the original destructive Architect, to add to the mix during present time, there are gangs, extremists and radical parties, cults, governing bodies, you name it. Idris and the rest of the Vulture God never get a chance to breath and thus, ensuring that the reader will not either.

You’ll pick this book up.

And you won’t put it back down.

Main Review:

Shards of Earth is the first book in the The Final Architecture trilogy. An exhilarating space opera, sci-fi, this first book did not fail me with its impressive lore, world, and nonstop action. There are so many different worlds, civilizations, species, and even different factions and religions amongst those said species. There’s different nations and armies. There’s species that barely manage to live together, their relationships held together by the threat of the Architects potential return or others that live and work together through lease contracts. The concept of blood families are few to find and rag tag groups like our main cast isn’t so uncommon. This book is everything and has everything; like a giant mega sundae with all the possible toppings and then some. Gummy bears, anyone?

The book starts out with a prologue, a bit of history introducing you to two of the main characters, Solace and Idris, a soldier and a navigator as they are set to confront the Architect before it destroys another planet, “beautifying” it, and others, by its own standard, reconstructing it to be the titular illustration’s signature bloom.

1 prologue and a few chapters in, I was already quickly drawn into the world. It’s immense and right off the bat, it feels like there’s already a million things thrown at you. I was overwhelmed, at first, with all the names of different species (and some species, the fragments of mankind, even had factions), different worlds, ship names and station names, nations and armies. To my joy, there’s a glossary towards the back along with a timeline of the events that take place before and after the first Architect attacks! I flipped to that part of the book a good deal during the first half of reading.

The cast was probably one of my favorite parts of the book; my favorite starting with Idris and then Solace following close by. Idris because I feel like he’s a cinnamon roll in need of protection and Solace because she’s like 10 levels of badassery (not to say the rest of the Vulture God were even remotely any less badass) There’s a small family kind of bond between the Vulture God crew. Everyone’s got their jobs to do and everyone plays a role on the ship. There’s a mixture of humans and nonhumans onboard from hivers to crab-like creatures. There’s no end to the diversity of the characters, main group or otherwise. 

And there’s no end to adventure, action, and trouble.

Because then there’s the antagonists of the story and it’s not just limited to the Architects; the moon sized behemoth of an entity that can restructure a planet. There’s different factions of men, radical and extremist groups, unwelcoming worlds, scary wildlife, and religious cults involved [and heck, throw in multiple different governments as well]; as if an end-of-the-world creature isn’t enough to worry about. The enemies here are just as well put together as the characters are. They’re relentless and terrifying and they’re strong. 

This book is action packed (and even then, it’s a bit of an understatement). There’s plenty of things happening and I feel like the crew (and thus the readers) just never get a chance to breath. The plot is never too slow or too quick. If there’s a fight, you will really be looking at a fight! There’s pages and pages of action and even running. At the end of the day, it’s not even about who wins anymore. It’s about who survives.

The beginning of the book is a bit slower than the latter half because it’s mostly setting up the stage. We get to know the history of Idris, we get to see how the crew goes about their lives on their usual jobs doing what spacers do in space, and then towards the middle things start to happen and everything picks up. By the time the last few scenes hit, my jaws have already dropped and I didn’t close them or the book until I reached the last page. 

By the time the beginning slowly reeled you in and captivated you, grabbing at your attention bit by bit, you’re stuck and it’s only a tall roller coaster drop from there and on. The action and the events Just. Don’t. Stop. It keeps going and going until you’re frantically flipping through. There’s no break for Idris and his gang so there’s no break for you. Might as well grab another cup of tea and keep reading. Who cares if you have to wake up early for work tomorrow? 

It’s the first time I’ve ever read any Tchaikovsky books and as someone who grew up not particularly enjoying space opera (in films/movies) I wasn’t expecting to love this book. I only went in because I was starting to become buddy buddy with one of my new favorite genres, sci-fi. As it turns out, it’s an adventure like none other. I’ll definitely be checking out his other works as I eagerly await the next part of this tale because as soon as that comes, I’m jumping into that ship. 

If you love sci-fi with multiple species, behemoth entities that humans have no possible chance against, intergalactic life, space battles (and cool space guns) and ships going through another dimension/space to fast travel, and a little lot bit of politics thrown in, you’ll absolutely eat through this book. 

A great first space opera for me! 5 cups of Joe from me!

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

5 Stars

About the Author

((from http://shadowsoftheapt.com/about-the-author ))

Adrian Tchaikovsky is the author of the acclaimed Shadows of the Apt fantasy series, from the first volume, Empire In Black and Gold in 2008 to the final book, Seal of the Worm, in 2014, with a new series and a standalone science fiction novel scheduled for 2015. He has been nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award and a British Fantasy Society Award. In civilian life he is a lawyer, gamer and amateur entomologist. 

Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky- Ultimate Blog Tour Spotlight

Tea Corner (Blog)

Hello lovely people!

Today’s my stop on the Ultimate Blog Tour hosted by The Write Reads for Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky! A major thank you to Tor and the author for providing me with an ecopy of this book, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

I’m just about done with the book and loving it so far. I’ve already shed my first tears over certain events and any book that gets me to cry is a good book in my opinion.

Blurb (Goodreads)

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans ­such as Idris – who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it.

First Impressions

I’m about 60% of the way through, not there to make the full impression yet, but enough to catch the right idea. I went into this book thinking it’s time I tackled one of my least favorite subgenres, space opera. I did grow up with Star Wars and was alright with it, but nothing about it ever struck me as outstanding enough to catch my attention. I especially didn’t care of the spaceships and interplanetary travels at least at least until Shards of Earth. I’m loving what I’m reading so far. The lore has been amazing, despite a bit overwhelming at first. I think my biggest impression of this book right now is that it’s been such a great read so far that I’m a little fearful my review isn’t going to do it any justice!

I’m intending on using the last day of my current PTO break to finish the last chunk of this book and I can’t wait to see how the remaining 40% will be like. So far, Shards of Earth has not disappointed me and I’m not expecting that feeling to taper anytime soon.

The Lore of Prometheus [Blog Tour] [Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

I received a copy of this book as part of a blog tour. A huge shout out and a major thank you to the BBNYA 2020 tours organized by the @The_WriteReads tours team as well as to the author for letting me participate in this tour. All opinions are my own. 

BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. 
If you are an author and wish to learn more about the 2021 BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website (https://www.bbnya.com/) or our Twitter account, @BBNYA_Official.

If you would like to sign-up and enter your book, you can find the BBNYA 2021 AUTHOR SIGN UP FORM HERE. Please make sure to carefully read our terms and conditions before entering. 

If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can apply to be part of BBNYA 2021 by filling out this form (also remember to read the terms and conditions before signing up)! 

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the Folio Society (If you love beautiful books you NEED to check out their website!) And the book blogger support group TheWriteReads.


Book Name: The Lore of Prometheus
Author: Graham Austin-King
Pages: 287
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle Genre: Fantasy > Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Fiction > Military Fiction, Thriller
Rating: 4.5 (Goodreads: 5)

TW/CW: PTSD, Gore, Violence, Kidnapping, Torture, Drugging, Held Prisoner, Death, Burned Alive/To Death, Murder, Medical Experimentation, Gunshot wounds, War and War Scenes 

Blurb

John Carver has three rules: Don’t drink in the daytime, don’t gamble when the luck has gone, and don’t talk to the dead people who come to visit.

It has been almost five years since the incident in Kabul. Since the magic stirred within him and the stories began. Fleeing the army, running from the whispers, the guilt, and the fear he was losing his mind, Carver fell into addiction, dragging himself through life one day at a time.

Desperation has pulled him back to Afghanistan, back to the heat, the dust, and the truth he worked so hard to avoid. But there are others, obsessed with power and forbidden magics, who will stop at nothing to learn the truth of his gifts. Abducted and chained, Carver must break more than his own rules if he is to harness this power and survive.

Thoughts & Opinons

Straight into the book, I took noticed of the writing style and thought, “I’m going to like it here.” I wasn’t here to participate in judging last year’s competition, but if I had to choose any random piece, it didn’t matter where in the book I landed, I probably would’ve agreed that this book was very well written so I think it’s a well earned crown that sits atop this book and author.

A short read that’s just shy of 300 pages, I went into this book already late and still managed to finish right about on time. Saying I inhaled the book was probably an understatement.

A very dark book the starts with addiction, gambling, trauma and hallucinations and dives deep into kidnapping, experimentations and brutal psychological and physical torture. Trauma is a major theme of this book and is the root and source of many of the prisoners’ powers. Horrific trauma, watching your loved ones die, and knowing there’s no other possible way out for yourself is the fuel to the bonfire.

This is the second military fiction I’ve read, and to date, both books had protagonists that suffered from various degrees of survivors guilt. John Carver, is a broken man, even before the kidnappers got a hold of him. Suffering from deep trauma, severe PTSD and survivors guilt, he is down on his luck and very nearly down to his last pennies. With a loan shark breathing down his next promising his own next breathes to maybe be his last, unless he coughs up the dough, Carver is doomed and very very desperate. He’s got no more choices left and he needs to get a job and he’s desperate enough to go back to where it all started.

With most of his skills stemming from his military experience, his only chance is a glorified babysitting job back Kabul, back to where the dust and nightmares began.

Being the only one in his squad who had survived during his time in Kabul, he blames himself for the loss of his teammates, especially so as hallucinations. For the last five years, Pearson, Wilson, and Turner have plagued him and not just in his memories. Ghosts of his past follow him daily, so real they bleed on the floors in front of him, reminding him that he, Carver, could have and did not save them.

Mackenzie is the other main protagonist with her own traumas and just as Carver’s trauma woke his “miracle” so did hers. Both she and Carver were well written characters and you really got to know them. Mackenzie displayed absolute strength in the toughest of times and the two of them made for an amazing read and as much as I enjoyed how well done Carver’s character is, I think that Mackenzie is the character I loved the most. My heart broke for her, stopped for her, bled and cried for her trauma; both in the past and what she goes through in the book, especially the latter.

Action packed, this book was phenomenally put together and thought-out. There was plenty of research going into this and those, like me, with no background in the military won’t need to fear getting lost. Any jargon of any sorts is easily and simply explained; a quick breeze over without interrupting the story telling and flow.

The book switches between two characters POVs (Mackenzie and Carver) as well as two types of POVs, third and first respectively. I didn’t really mind the switch in POV types though it did take me perhaps 6 chapters to noticed that it was being switched around at all (I’m not the most attentive). I actually quite liked it because it helped separate the two situations and if there were any deeper analysis to this; I’d say the first person really helped me get into Carver’s head because only Carver could see what he sees and that’s people that are no longer amongst the living. I don’t think third person would have worked as well.

Fast paced and with great dialogues that helped break and ease the tension in this extremely dark, gorey and very unforgiving situation, this book was very well executed. It had me hooked from the start and flying through the book was no hard task. Paired with wonderfully written characters, real or not, I had a great time. I was a WEEE bit confused towards the end but that might just be me.

A little sad to see this book come to a close as it’s a standalone but it’s been the rainbow to my newly discovered pot of gold as I look forward to more from Graham Austin-King and I will definitely be following and checking out some of his other works.

I heavily recommend this book because it’s executed so well with the writing being one of my favorite aspects of this read. I’m one to love characters more than the writing and plot itself, but this time, despite how well the characters are already written, it was the writing style and writing that I truly fell in love it. However, please keep in mind that this is a pretty dark book with a lot of triggers. It gets very intense and heavy at times and even I needed a breather here and there.

4 ½ Cups 🥰

Author

Graham Austin-King was born in the south of England and weaned on broken swords and half-forgotten spells.

A shortage of these forced him to consume fantasy novels at an ever-increasing rate, turning to computers and tabletop gaming between meals.

He experimented with writing at the beginning of an education that meandered through journalism, international relations, and law. To this day he is committed to never allowing those first efforts to reach public eyes.

After spending a decade in Canada learning what ‘cold’ really means, and being horrified by poutine, he settled once again in the UK with a seemingly endless horde of children.

To date he is the author of five novels, drawing on a foundation of literary
influences ranging from David Eddings to Clive Barker.

Website: https://grahamaustin-king.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrayAustin

Blog Tour: Bad Habits [Book Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

Breaking out of my (mini) 1099-deadline induced hiatus is a review for Bad Habits! Today is my stop on the Ultimate Blog Tour for Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney. Thank you so so much to Dave from The Write Reads for including me in this tour! I had a blast reading this book and I’m having a blast writing about it now. Bad Habits will be released on February 11th and it’s not a book you’ll want to miss!

Book Name: Bad Habits
Author: Flynn Meaney
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Feminism, Humor, Fiction

Disclaimer: An e-copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are of my own.

CW/TW: Reference of sexual harassment, references of sex, unsafe sex, drug use

Summary

Alex is a rebel from the tip of her purple fauxhawk to the toes of her biker boots. She’s tried everything she can think of to get expelled from her strict Catholic boarding school. Nothing has worked so far – but now, Alex has a new plan.

Tired of the sexism she sees in every corner of St Mary’s, Alex decides to stage the school’s first ever production of The Vagina Monologues. Which is going to be a challenge, as no one else at St Mary’s can even bear to say the word ‘vagina’ out loud . . .

Review

I’ve read books that made me bawl my eyes out and I’ve had books that gave me a giggle or two here and there, but I’ve never had a book that made me burst out laughing (loudly) every few pages. 

Alex, a teenage junior from California, is the main protagonist of this story. After her parent’s divorce, she’s been sent off to a Catholic boarding school: St. Mary’s, where her father is an alumni. Alex is a rebel and everything about St. Mary is just unbearable; the sexism, the oppression, the scary nuns patrolling the halls…She’s had enough! Yet, despite a thick file of all her write ups on attempts to get herself expelled, she’s STILL HERE (thanks Dad for pulling some strings). 

This time though, she’s got a plan. In a school where no one can even bare to say the word “vagina” out loud, she’s going to stage the school’s first ever “The Vagina Monologues”! It’s controversial, it’s everything that St. Mary’s hates, and it’s definitely going to get her expelled.

I don’t know where to start with this review. I simply loved the writing in this book. It’s a quick and easy read, like a light little appetizer to get my “I haven’t read a single book all month” brain back into gear. Yet, it tackles an important topic. Flynn approaches the topic of feminism in a comedic and humorous way. 

Alex is a character that is rebellious and a bit chaotic. She is determined to get kicked out, but at the same time, she is determined to make St. Mary’s a little more progressive place on her way out the door. Alex is very vocal about her views about St. Mary’s and not afraid to show her disdain with the patriarchal ways of the school (and society in general). But sometimes, she can be a little narrow minded and might not even be the most accepting person around. She clashes with a few others, such Katie Casey, a very sweet fellow student who is the complete opposite of Alex who voices her own beliefs about choosing to save yourself until after marriage. After all, one of the many points of feminism is the freedom of choice, be it the choice to have sex before or after marriage. With that, there are certain moments where, despite still rooting Alex and her play’s success, you can see Alex getting lost in her own beliefs. In those moments, I wasn’t very fond of Alex. She was occasionally nasty and sometimes would even put others and their beliefs and choices down (including other females). Throughout the books, there are moments where Alex begins to grow. and I loved that she becomes more accepting of others and their choices by the end of the book. I quite liked some of the male characters in the book too, especially the hockey player, Pat who, with his own set of flaws, was pretty supportive in helping Alex achieve her semester goal of making sure the play proceeds and goes well.  Nearly every major character had their own transformations by the end of the book and the ending was so heartwarming it made me tear up. 

The setting gives me warm nostalgic fuzzies of my own school days. I’ve never attended a boarding school and the closest to a religious educational institution was a Catholic college (even then, I commuted rather than dormed and not to mention it was a pretty progressive school too). Yet, still, I miss having the daily hang out group that gets meshed with the schedules of your other friends. I miss sitting in a crowded cafeteria with your buddy as they gush over their latest crush. I miss giving crushes nicknames. The setting was pretty realistic with the insane school spirit (towards sports), the hosted events being planned, having clubs around, the yearly club booths as members tried to fill their sign up sheets…

A lovely read that invigorated me and had a lively and well written cast of characters that felt so real. Filled with topics and discussions of feminism, this is a very chaotic and quirky book that sort of made me miss school (lol nah). Wonderfully written and humorous, the pages are dripping with sarcasm, wit and comedy. The characters are complex. They aren’t perfect, none of them are. They call each other out and the characters learn and grow to correct themselves. There are some nice character developments in this book and the ending is a lovely way to finish it all off. It was a fun read that I laughed myself through!

About the Author

Flynn Meaney is the author of The Boy Recession and Bloodthirsty. She studied marketing and French at the University of Notre Dame, where she barely survived the terrifying array of priests and nuns, campus ghosts, and bone-crushing athletes who inspired Bad Habits. Since completing a very practical MFA in Poetry, she works for a French company and travels often between New York (when she’s in the mood for bagels) and Paris (when she’s in the mood for croissants).

The Milan Job by Krista Cagg Blog Tour – Excerpt and Review

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Happy Sunday!! Today is my stop for the Milan Job Blog Tour by Psst Promotions! Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in my very first blog tour. I had a blast of a time reading this and putting together this post.

For this tour, I’ll be sharing an excerpt and my review of the book!


Meet Captain Alexandria de Sade, the proud and once loyal captain of Naviwerks chrono-ship #25.
When she learned the truth about how the company was fleecing their customers she turned her back on the promotion they offered her, left the man she loved without a word, and disappeared with her ship.

With a plan in mind to undermine Naviwerks’ business of artifact and heirloom retrieval, Captain Alex hired on several like-minded misfits to crew her chrono-ship which she re-christened The William’s Hunt. They are: An awkward but genius Horotech, an irascible ex-marine, a flamboyant playboy, a churlish physician, and a hot-shot pilot.

Their first venture: go to Milan, Italy 1490 and retrieve the working model of Leonardo da Vinci’s Gran Cavallo before Naviwerks does. What should have been a simple snatch and run mission for the newly formed band of pirates goes south nearly immediately. In their struggle to recover, they learn that there is much more behind Naviwerks’ actions. Captain Alex and the crew of The William’s Hunt are the only ones that stand a chance of putting things right, and it seems as if her crew’s every step takes them deeper and deeper into discovering just how nefarious Naviwerks truly is.


Print Length: 203 pages
Publisher: Corrugated Sky Publishing, LLC (January 18, 2020)
Publication Date: January 18, 2020
Language: English
ASIN: B083VQV8SR
ISBN10: 1950903141
ISBN13: 978-1950903146
Buy it now on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ybh2xekw

Excerpt:

Agent Nash was crouched amongst some scrub on the side of a hill that overlooked the walls of Milan. It was mid-morning when they arrived. He had watched them come down the road in the cart then had shifted his position to one knee. With well-practiced movements, he removed from the sack beside him pieces of a rifle to assemble. All the while he kept his eyes on the target. Line of sight was perfect, but from this distance his point of interest was unclear. With steady motions the rifle clicked together piece by piece as the cart drew closer to his position. 

The final piece to fit into place was the tubular sighting apparatus. He polished the magnifying glass on the end with a soft piece of chamois, and then put the rifle butt to his shoulder so he could peer through the sight. Some might find the motion of the world through the lens nauseating, but it didn’t affect Nash as he swung the rifle from side to side until the passengers of the cart came into view.

He observed them for a few moments. Anger welled up within him to see them, the traitors. Other similar emotions tried to join that sentiment, but the neural therapy worked within his brain and suppressed them, as it was designed to do. Nash hadn’t even noticed the adjustments. He simply made use of the focus that remained to load a plasma cartridge into the rifle. He would need only one.

He returned the rifle to his shoulder as he shifted his crouch to allow for recoil, and then he brought his target into view through the lens. He took a moment to admire her. Even Naviwerks and their nanotechnology couldn’t eliminate basic human behavior, and she was certainly worth a second look. But that didn’t change the fact that she was a renegade, a thief, and would-be pirate. His orders were clear.

His finger slid through the trigger guard and curled around the small metal arm as he took aim. “Hello, Alex.”

BLAM!

Review:

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

For a while now, I’ve been searching for a good Steampunk book. There’s probably a couple in my TBR list, but I never actually got around to reading any of them. So, when I was sent an email about a blog tour featuring Steampunk, floating ships, strong female characters, time travel, and pirates that have a better moral compass than the antagonists (the “good guys” of the world)…yeah! I was picking it up!

What really caught my attention was Captain Alexandria de Sade. She sounded like a badass Captain, leaving her old employment and stealing an entire ship on her way out! She sounded cool and I’m all for a cool female protagonist especially one that’s now a pirate!

The great monopoly of a company, Naviwerk, is known to make generous contribution to mankind and history by using time travel to retrieve long lost artifacts, antiques, and family heirlooms for their clients; families and museums. They are quite successful in their business…a product of charging these families and museums insane prices for turning over those artifacts that they retrieved from history. Big corrupted businesses do not fly well with Alex and she refuses a promotion before leaving the company, stealing one of Naviwerk’s chrono-ships on her way out!

The book, The Milan Job, is a compilation of five shorts, episodes, written by Krista Cagg and starts off with the introduction of the former hopelessly unemployed Laurence Kane on the first day of his job. He’s quickly picked up by Nigel Wellington III (the historian) to board the chrono-ship. Laurence eventually meets the rest of the crew: the scary and quick to anger ex-marine turned security officer, Gerald (Geri) Reynolds, the crew’s not quite friendly doctor, Abraham Hennessey, the Pilot, Angelica (Angel) Flynn, and of course Captain Alexandria de Sade.

Third person is my favorite POV and, naturally, I come across a good deal of them, but this is probably my first experience with an omniscient third person POV (and I had to look it up) where there’s more of an overseer to the story and not just to a limited single character’s thoughts or actions. The first time I caught on to this was when, during his tour of the ship, Laurence noticed the lack of luxurious seating that he might have expected to find in the ship’s dining hall, which was decorated to be suitable for even nobility. This comes up again when the reader spends a little time, in the following chapter, with Angel and Alex having a private conversation and this line pops up as the narrator goes to describe Alex’s chair:

“Here were the plush accommodations Mr. Kane had expected in the mess hall.”

It was just something interesting to note upon (at least…it is for someone, like me, whose has never read anything but limited perspective 3rd POVs).

Overall, I enjoyed the book! It was a pleasant and a quick read and while you might have tons of questions by the end of the book, you’re never left stranded without a life jacket here. World building and technical terms of horotechnology, chronotechnology, and time travel is well explained in this book. There is a lot of detail and I really mean…there’s a lot of detail. On one hand, I loved the details because…guess whose never lost?? On the other hand, there are readers that may find this as a turn off.

Not only is the technology well described here, but it includes every single little detail you would need to completely picture the scene, from the details of Alex’s chair (the finishes, the type of wood, the pattern of the etchings) down to Nigel’s fingernails (which Laurence noted to be well-manicured). It’s amazing the level of detail being placed here. For me, I didn’t mind it but it’s something to note on. This was my first steampunk and while I have a good grasp on what cyberpunk might look like, I struggled to picture the chrono-ship because it’s just…so out of my imagination’s grasp.

The crew is a ragtag bunch with only the best of the best (and did I mention ragtag groups are one of my favorite troupes?). We have a comical playboy of a historian and a grumbling retired (but caring) physician. Laurence, I especially liked. I have a soft spot for the poor socially awkward lad. He reminds me so much of myself on my first day on any new job, bumbling, anxious and awkward, and tripping over his own clumsy thoughts. An unrecognized genius, who previously couldn’t find any employment, Laurence is the newbie to the crew and he’s trying his best to see where he fits his personality and talents into this group of people who seem to all already know each other (anyone new to a previously established friend group can relate). Angel knows her stuff as a pilot (a “hot shot pilot” even better at flying ships than Alex) and when I first met Alex, I fell in love. She was calm and cold; she was so cool (I literally said that out loud to myself). She just exuded a commanding vibe.

The pros and cons:

What I loved about this book was the storyline. We’re talking about time travel via a ship that runs off steam, electricity and stimulated atoms. We’re talking about pirates who have a moral compass better than the “big generous corporation that provides historical contributions to museums and retrieve lost antiques and heirlooms to families.” We’re talking about a cool captain with her handpicked and talented ragtag bunch of crew-members. We’re talking about big corrupt corporations. We’re talking about steampunk…all in one book.

I loved that the gang is small. This book gives off Fire Emblem vibes; a small group of six people against a monopoly of a corporation (and thus it’s “we got what we got” versus a corporation with what seems like endless funds to expend on their goals and evil plans). Yet, even with only six people, they manage to do well because each member is brilliant in their own roles. Even our bumbling bundle of nerves, Mr. Laurence Kane, the horotechnologist, is a confident and a capable man of genius ideas and great inventions. When he’s placed in the right environment (say in front of a chrono-engine), Laurence will forget his nerves and notices only the oh so beautiful engine, forgetting about his surroundings.

The concept behind horotechnology and chronotechnology is mind blowing in the fact that…the idea behind time travel, this that world, is so…simple and yet so complicated and complex. With a bit of electricity, steam, and stimulated atoms you could punch through time! I had tons of questions by the end on time travel, of which I’m sure would be answered in the following books.

There was one thing that I did not like and it was pretty disappointing. One of the main reasons that I was so interested in this book was because of the strong and proud, Alex . However, she and Angel did not get much of “screen time” or scene time. She comes in with a sword and plasma pistol but both weapons are unused because…well…she never got to be part of the action. She’s still the mentally strong and ready to kill you with a glare woman I expected out of her, but I had expected something a tad bit more.

However, this is the first volume and it’s mentioned that there’s more to come. This volume gives you a taste of the world, setting, conflict, and the characters as they begin their involvement with something far bigger than previously imagined. The pacing isn’t too slow. There isn’t a lot of character development yet as The Milan Job helps to give you a peek of everyone’s personalities, quirks, talent/abilities, and where they fit into this crew. A small team, everyone has their own place to belong. So, despite the lack of attention to a couple characters, I am sure they will be further fleshed in the future as everyone gets their fair share of adventures. A great and quick read!

About the Author:

According to her mother, Krista has lived in her own imagination since birth. The real world let her down. It was, frankly, boring beyond belief. After she discovered fantasy novels and comics there was no going back. This didn’t win her any popularity contests (or dates) until after high school. Art school introduced her to other geeks and the wonderful world of AD&D. A love for RP eventually led to LARP (the goth/vampire era of her life). Finally, sci-fi/fantasy/fandom conventions introduced her to the beautiful world of Steampunk. Music. Clothing. And books. She dove into the books she took a shine to and absorbed them. But something was missing. She wasn’t satisfied. During her recovery from neck surgery something she’d heard somewhere stuck out in her mind: “If you can’t find the stories you want to read then write them yourself.” On a couch in Savannah, GA. with Sons of Anarchy playing in the background, The William’s Hunt began.
Currently, Krista lives in her home town in Pennsylvania with five cats, a husband, and a weiner dog, Pete, who watches from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.
Check out her website: https://www.kristacaggauthor.com/ and follow her on social media.