Book Review: Pirate Bounty by Rick Partlow and Pacey Holden

Hello, my lovely peeps🐥!
I’m aching for the weekend and it feels so far away! I finally got to a very interesting point in Fire Emblem Engage except, now I’m too busy to have a moment to sit down and enjoy the game…Sure, I’ve got time to play it, but I feel like I can’t fully immerse myself and truly have fun until it’s the weekend when I’ve got a little more time.

For today’s post, I am sharing this week’s book review. This time around, I’m featuring Pirate Bounty: A Military Sci-Fi Series by Rick Partlow and Pacey Holden!


Title: Pirate Bounty: A Military Sci-Fi Series
Author: Rick Partlow and Pacey Holden
Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Space-Opera, Action, Military Sci-Fi
Edition: Ebook > Kindle
Length: 360 Pages (Kindle)
Published: 29 Nov 2022
Publisher: Aethon Books

LINKS:
Amazon
: [Link]
Goodreads: [Link]


Sometimes, it takes killing to make a living.

That fiancée? She’s married—to another guy.

The family business? His parents sold it.

Jack Bennet returns from the war to find the life he left behind has moved on without him. The only option he has to make ends meet lies in a military surplus junkyard starship. What’s a former Combat Search and Rescue soldier to do?

Fix up the ship, hire the cheapest pilot—a notorious drunk—and take the first contract that comes up: collect a bounty on one of the most ruthless killers in the Pirate Worlds, a place crawling with thieves, cutthroats and con artists whose primary language is violence. Jack must abandon his nice guy persona, or exploit it, if he is to survive.

What could possibly go wrong?

Experience the start of an explosive Military Sci-Fi Series from bestseller Rick Partlow, author of Drop Trooper, and debut author Pacey Holden.

This was a surprisingly random find. I was growing slightly desperate and was on my fourth book of the week (having dumped the other 3) but when I came across this book, I gave the sampler a quick peek, saw some badass scene in the first chapter (prologue) and thought, “This is the one!” I had really enjoyed the writing, my deciding point in getting the book, and probably one of my favorite aspects about the book. The battle scenes were quick, chaotic, and felt like a warfield, and the emotions around it felt real enough to make me picture and visualize the scene perfectly. There was just enough description to make the average scene not too overwhelming, but the real fun kicks in on the battle and fight scenes. It’s an adrenaline rush of movement and everything’s so quick. Blink and you’ll get popped in the face. Lose your attention and you might get shot. I really enjoyed those scenes and that final fight scene had a lot things happening. It was a race against time trying to save someone while trying to make your way through the chase and fight and stay alive. It gets really intense! I do love me intense some intense scenes!

Another thing I really loved about the book were the main character John (Jack) Bennet and his pilot, Robin (Birdy) Hartley. When I saw the book revolved around a ship, I was kind of expecting a whole crew of people (or at least one or two more others). I’m a sucker for a ragtag crew, kicking ass, while throwing quips and banter around so I was just a biiit disappointed in seeing that it was just Jack and Birdy (mostly Jack because as Birdy doesn’t fight and mostly stays up in the skies or trying to sneak off with Jack’s money into a bar or casino). I like that Jack, despite all of his military background, because he’s on his own now, and he’s just one guy against a gaggle of enemies, it’s natural in that he’s constantly getting away by the skin of his teeth, doesn’t get everyone out together, or just gets overpowered. I like that realism. I just got off a round in Fire Emblem where my archer walked away scrap free after 7-8 enemies surrounded him because he’s too overleveled…

I really enjoyed Birdy’s character too. This guy is a drunkard who lives for his next moments with the bottle and lands himself a job in which one of the job duties is to be sober (and remain sober) but he ends up getting himself into a tussle [almost] straight into his role, drunk out his mind and giggling like a madman. By the end though, he was pretty reliable. He really could’ve left Jack to die, but kept his word and stuck around. He’s a mess of a person, but a decent enough human when not blasting his remaining brain cells with happy juice. Even when he was drunk, he wasn’t such a bad person either, just annoying and stubborn.

I will say though, Jack’s abysmal luck is laughable. This luck makes up most of the plot because of the situations he lands himself in. This guy had a future plan only to come home to betrayal after betrayal (heartbreaking really; wtf parents does something like that? And his fiancée too??), get a scrap of metal of a starship as his only piece of his share in the family company being sold, gets a drunkard as his only pilot (budget was tight okay?), still aims for a relatively peaceful and civilian life with a shipping business of his own, gets his business Amazon/Walmart’d before it even takes off, gets tied up with royally pissing off a mobster for his first delivery, lands himself in prison, has to take another job and ends up as a bounty hunter (there goes his hopes and dreams of living a fight-less life), and finally gets roped into some major cult thing trying to get someone out of said scary major cult.

The world building was interesting, though we only got to experience a couple of worlds, we come across aliens, other humans, mobsters, and cults with the creepiest “everybody looks alike” vibe. Classic shiver-down-your-spine kind of cult. The weapons and ships were neat, though most of the concepts did occasionally fly over my head as general background information. 

All in all, a pretty good read. It was the only one of four that I was able to stick with, so if nothing else in my review says much, this one small note might. I enjoyed the reading, while I can’t say I enjoyed Jack’s awful luck at life, it did catapult the plot at a lightning speed because nothing says fast-paced until life throws whole trees at you when you’re still trying to recover from a single lemon…The characters were enjoyable, Jack felt real enough. I definitely enjoyed the writing and some of the dialogue. I enjoyed some of the other characters as well, such as Jack’s love interest Val and a villain named Artemis (an enemy of an enemy is a sorta kinda, more like a bio-prisoner, of a friend of mine) who was a riot to read. If you enjoy sci-fi, spaceships, planet hopping, cult and mobster rage/vengence dodging, bits of romance, drunk but tries to stay sober pilots, and unlucky main characters, pick yourself up a copy of Pirate Bounty. You never know. You might enjoy it as much as I did.

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[Book Review] Neo Cyberpunk: The Anthology

While I’ve been interested in sci-fi books a little more [and more] in the last few years, I decided to further dive into all three genres of sci-fi, cyberpunk, and dystopian, all of which are genres that I scarcely read (not because I avoid them but because they’re never genres I’ve actively sought out before). But thanks to games, specifically Cyberpunk 2077 and Astral Chain, I’ve been more and more interested in this bleak and dystopic future world full of technologically enhanced human beings. Cyberpunk felt like a world of despair, last chance survivals (for the human race), and where there is a valley between the rich and poor, rather than just a class gap. It feels like humanity going towards advancement and took the wrong turn somewhere, ending up in a remote and desolate location of nothing but sand and “no service.”

I’ve never been one for short stories (so I guess we can add that to the list of new things I tried and liked), but I thought that if I were to go into a brand genre, one of the best ways to do so is to grab an anthology of shorts, take a deep breath, and dive right in exploring every reef, critter, and bubble that you encounter in the depth of this new world.

There were a handful of other, more known, anthologies out there that I could have chosen, such as Burning Chrome, but I was attracted by the very blue cover (even more blue in real life) and of course the android on the front.

Book Description

Title: Neo Cyberpunk: The Anthology
Authors: Anna Mocikat, Matthew A. Goodwin, Marlin Seigman, Elias J. Hurst, Jon Richter, A.W. Wang, Matt Adcock, Nik Whittaker, Mark Everglade, Tanweer Dar, James L. Graetz, Patrick Tillett, Eric Malikyte, Benjamin Fisher-Merritt, and Luke Hancock
Edition: Physical > Paperback
Length: 369 Pages
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Sci-fi > Cyberpunk, Sci-fi > Dystopian, Anthology

This was a pretty interesting book, a total of 15 short stories by different authors. The theme for all of theme is cyberpunk of course, but you get everything from jacking in, to gangs, to VR games, and…neurolinking to a crocodile. Some of the stories are lighter than the others, but there’s no real pretty light going on. Everything is bleak. At one point I stopped reading, stared at a wall, and went, “Man the future feels pretty sad.” There are some stories that felt a bit like fables, teaching a lesson somehow, and others that were downright intriguing to look back and think about. There are some interesting technological things happening and there are some stories that left you pondering and thinking.

Overall, I thought this was a lovely book and I had a great time with it! It’s a nice way to start exploring the genre too. I will eventually try to read Burning Chrome too, a recommendation that was provided to me during the Cyberpunk Day stream (by others in the chat) and I’m glad I ventured to try new things because it feels like the beginning of a new friendship to me.

“Defined in shorthand by the phrase, ‘high tech / low life,’ cyberpunk is so much more than rainy nights, neon lights, cybernetic enhancements, flying cars, digital worlds, and punks fighting an oppressive establishment.

It is a genre of philosophical questions about the nature of society, humankind’s relationship with technology, and what it means to be human. Growing out of a time where technology was becoming all the more omnipresent, laws governing corporations were slackening, and fashion was becoming about form over function, the questions raised by cyberpunk have only become more vital.”

Excerpt of Foreword by Matthew A Goodwin

Blurb

A clone searching for her identity, an android out of control, a young man fleeing from killer-cyborgs, a synthwave DJ whose music slays, a deadly videogame – and a very hungry cyber-croc.

Welcome to the world of Neo Cyberpunk!

Fifteen of the hottest contemporary cyberpunk authors have joined forces to create a unique anthology. In this book readers will find the full spectrum of modern-day cyberpunk, full of action, mystery, technology and humanity.

Cyberpunk is Now!

Microreviews [for each story]

  1. Vice Grip by Matthew A Goodwin ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I liked it. Writing and story kind of like a fable. Teaches a lesson somehow.
  2. We Are the Good Guys by Anna Mocikat ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Damn life sure sucks for MC. Nothing is ever so easy in life, especially if you live in a corporate future.
  3. Collateral by Marlin Seigman ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 So interesting that this was written in a kind of deadpan tone. Really mimics the emotionally repressed MC that tells the story.
  4. Cleaners by Jon Richter ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ This was absolutely outstanding and brilliant story with a fantastic twist at the end. Great prose too!
  5. The Volunteer by A.W. Wang ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ VR setting like sword art online with lots to lose! Another fantastic one. I loved the MC’s character portrayal of a jaded and tired man with no more hope or shits left to give. Nothing but survival and one foot in front of the other left for MC. Poor guy.
  6. Requiem by Nik Whittaker ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Interesting, kind of cool, kind of creepy.
  7. The Woman In White by Elias J. Hurst ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Interesting and exciting! I liked how this one played through and ended.
  8. Buzz Kill 2.0 by Matt Adcock ⭐⭐⭐ Not for me, my worst nightmare come true. Bugs but extra deadly. Concept is pretty neat though.
  9. Pay-To-Play by Mark Everglade ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Prose is choppy choppy! Somewhere between or maybe a mix of street slang and poetry, but falls short of purple. Descriptive. Chaotic and exciting, just like the story. Makes for an interesting read. Cool world and thought that the writing during the drunk scene was pretty spot on!
  10. The Demonstration by Tanweer Dar ⭐⭐⭐⭐ AI’d androids are never good news. Their growing intelligence is terrifying, especially when paired with their capabilities.
  11. Crushed (A Neo Rackham Short) by Eric Malikyte ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Crushed is right! Crushed my heart! This was a depressing read with a depressing ending…
  12. Cybercroc by James L. Graetz ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 Always intrigued about human to beat soul/mind links and connections. Kind of neat and quite cool. Honestly, what a wild short and concept.
  13. The Thirst of the Machine by Benjamin Fisher-Hermitt ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Loved all the ads every few seconds! Truly living the future world of corporations. It’s like the algorithm ads that pop up no except taken to a crazy level! Enjoyed the mystery and didn’t see that ending coming!
  14. Breakneck by Luke Hancock ⭐⭐⭐.5 Interesting to think about a world of people addicted to games as they would drugs, nicotine, or alcohol. Sure, we have gaming addicts now, but these people are willing to DIE for this.
  15. The Modern Panoptes by Patrick Tillett ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Wow! One hell of a way to end a cyberpunk anthology! Really left me thinking! The adrenaline, the speed, the world that left the poor in the dust of the rich. Amazing time through and through with a great ending.

Red Hail [Book Review]

To me, there’s two kinds of good: the “devoured in a single sitting good” and the “I want to savor every page” good and Red Hail was the latter.

Book Name: Red Hail
Series: Standalone Book: N/A
Author: Jamie Killen
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle 
Obtained: Review Request
Pages: 356
Genre: Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Sci-Fi
Rating: 5/5 

A copy of this book was provided to me by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are mine. 

Bookshop Link >HERE<
Goodreads Link >HERE<
Amazon Link >HERE<
Author’s Site Link >HERE<

Instead of the pale color of fresh ice, though, the hailstones had the raw crimson hue of uncooked meat. As Anza watched, they piled and began to melt while new stones fell onto the slush. It only took a minute for Dove’s front yard to transform into a red mass of gore. It sluiced down her driveway and into the road, forming a river of blood flowing down the slope

Page 6, Red Hail by Jamie Killen

Summary

Taking place in two timelines, 2020 and 1960, Red Hail weaves a story that connects both timelines together with a mysterious illness. Those that lived and survived through that horrid summer, back in 1960, wanted nothing more than to forget about the incident. 

The 1960 Red Hail was described as an incident where pieces of red hail fell from the skies in Galina, Arizona. Residents of Galina had no idea where it came from or what it was, only that it came suddenly and that the mysterious illness quickly followed. Paranoia and mass violence began to rip the town apart, in a witch hunt style, as fingers were pointed and races and religions were blamed to be the root cause of this madness. And then, just as instantly as the red hail and illness arrived to plague Galina, it had disappeared without a trace. In the end, the incident was written off as a summer of mass hysteria, there were no other new patients to follow nor did those already plagued with the symptoms continue to have them.

60 years afterwards, we follow the story of Professor Colin Ayres and his partner Alonzo. Colins had spent years researching the incident and had concluded it to be mass hysteria. However, soon Alonzo begins to exhibit the same symptoms as the Galina residents had several decades ago. As Alonzo’s condition worsens and others begin to show the same exact symptoms, Colin must get to the bottom of what’s happening and quick. 

Review

My take on this book? I loved it. To pieces. I shivered under blankets because of this book. Not particularly scary in any paranormal way, the symptoms that the people suffering from the illness displayed where horrifying to imagine. Coming in stages, the first stage wasn’t particularly terrifying but the second sure was. Hell, even when the illness progressed further, I think it was the second stage that still terrified me the most. Because it wasn’t human. The symptoms shown by those struck with the illness felt unreal, nightmare-like, and were very otherworldly. The chills crept in when you could feel Colin’s cold almost-lonely fear, through the pages, as he watches these symptoms develop in his beloved partner and he can’t do anything about it because nothing makes any medical sense! Even medicine can help alleviate symptoms when you can’t cure the disease, but what medicine do you give for symptoms that have no explanation? Alonzo (and the others suffering) doesn’t recall any of this. He just blacks out, one minute talking and the next wondering why people were staring at him.

I loved the split between the two set of characters and timelines. In the present day timeline, we have Colin, his partner Alonzo, and another person who makes contact with the professor after they also begin to exhibit symptoms. In 1960, we have a similar group of people who are going through the same thing. One tale shows the very beginning of when everything started and one tale uses the clues left behind by those same people to understand what’s happening in present day.

I loved both settings and characters, though the story in 1960 was much more riveting to read as people tried to piece together what the hells happening, but since they couldn’t, they turned to violence. The 1960 tale revolved around a much larger set of characters (besides the main three, there were also many different families, different churches, politicians and such). If I had to briefly sum them both up 2020: time to solve this mystery using clues from the first “plague” and 1960: chaos.

Absolutely a shining gem, the characters felt so real and all their fears tingled my own heart. People were frustrated, no answers were given, and by the end of the first “plague,” back in 1960, the residents didn’t even get any closure, the mysterious illness simply vanished. They just…had to move on with their lives like they aren’t all traumatized bringing us to 2020 where the mystery continues.

There were also several very strong female characters that I loved; a single mother who just wanted to get to the bottom of this thing plaguing both her and her son, and two in 1960 Galina who were there to experience the beginning of the end of the town when the hail first fell. 

The violence and riots that summer in 1960 felt so real. It gave the reader an huge sense of insecurity and it felt like nobody was safe, be it from the illness or the violence. You never know who was up next to fall ill. You don’t know whose is getting blamed next. Religion played a huge part because the first thing many folks think, when the sky rains blood, is that the end of the world is coming or it’s the devil’s work. And in times of uncertainty, many turn to prayers and look towards the church’s guidance and it’s up to the church leaders to act appropriately because desperate people are probably the scariest people out there. They will believe any theory and will do anything to get rid of the illness in a very violent “ends justify the means” way.

Eyes glued to the book, I went in slow, I went through slow, and when I realized the book was beginning to draw to an end, my paced dropped even further, I didn’t want it to end. 

Yet another hidden sci-fi gem, I had an amazing read.
Thank you Jamie for reaching out and for the amazing book!

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

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: >LINK<

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.

Awakened [Book Review]

I received this book from a Goodreads Giveaway set up by Harper Voyager. The opinions of this review are of my own and are my fair and honest opinion.

Book Name: Awakened (A Novel)
Series: Awakened Book: #1 (has a sequel)
Author: James S. Murray with Darren Wearmouth
Book Type: Physical > Hardcover
Pages: 283
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fiction, Thriller, Horror

I actually read this book sometime last year (around June) where I wrote a smaller and much more condensed review on Goodreads for this book. But I felt like I just didn’t do the book enough justice, so here we are! A revamp of my review so I can relive this awesome book.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Phenomenal, fast paced and kept me at the edge of my seat the whole time. Cliffhanger after cliffhanger with rotating characters and settings.

Book Summary

Grady McGowan is working overtime. In the middle of winter, he is sitting in the 90 degrees cabin of a tunnel-boring machine. The eleven hours of his shift has drained him, but it’s all worth it. It’s not just the money that drives him. Grady looks forward to a future where he could tell his grandchildren that he helped build the most advanced subway system in the world, the line for the upcoming Z Train of New York City! Everything is going well and besides, there’s only one more hour left of his shift before he can finally clock out and head back to his wife and daughter. That is until his cabin lurches, a giant hole opens up underneath him, nothing but a huge void of empty darkness.

The setting skips a few years later, remaining in the same tunnel of NYC, as Mayor Tom Cafferty stands at the grand opening ceremony and inaugural run of the completed Z Train. Press cameras, sixty handpicked guests, made up of New York’s elites, and even US President Reynolds, surround him, all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new Z train. They have all been waiting for this moment for a long long time. Besides the guests in the Pavilion, there are other guests, the lucky ones chosen to be the train’s first passengers. Amongst them, is Cafferty’s wife, Ellen.

The train was due to arrive at 12:04. It is late. When it finally does arrives, 4 minutes overdue, everyone knows there’s something wrong as the train comes to a halt at the station. When Cafferty takes it upon himself to approach the late train, he looks inside only to see all of the car’s interior covered in blood and devoid of passengers. Panicked chaos erupts around Cafferty as the guests attempt to rush away and the President’s security immediately gather around him, dragging him into the safety of a blast shelter where the train’s operations management team are. Methane levels are rising in the Jersey City tunnel with an unknown source or cause and dangerously nearing the LEL or lower explosive levels. The Manhattan tunnel is the closest exit…but with the attack being a possible terrorist attack of an unknown enemy, Reynolds refuses to evacuate the people through it. They are trapped and they don’t even know what the enemy looks like!

Thoughts and Review

This book starts off exciting right away. Merely a few chapters in, you are already hit with your first scene of blood and gore, followed by another one, and then followed by several more throughout the book. Not a book for the faint of heart. Though they talk about a potential terrorist attack, it only takes a few seconds with the summary on the book to know that whatever we are looking at here is definitely not a terrorist, not even human.

This book has a good fair share of disgusting gore. Off the bat, one of the agents protecting President Reynolds tries to dive towards the doors of the blast shelter that is protecting Reynolds only for him to get caught, mercy killed by Samuel, Reynold’s head of Secret Services, and lifeless corpse bisected in front of everyone’s eyes, his upper body falling to the ground with a wet thud.

When the NYC police goes to investigate the tunnels, we quickly learn that whatever attacked the first passengers are not terrorists. These are intelligent creatures of an unknown origin, though their full and actual appearances comes a bit further into the book.

They were near human in size, but were definitely not human. Each had an extra set of arms, scaly skin, sharp claws, and thrashing tails. As she moved her focus to the outer circle, past twisted pieces of wreckage, their shapes gradually grew larger to nearly double the size of your average man.

– James S. Murray with Darren Wearmouth, Awakened, Page 114

This book is very fast paced (you’d be too if you were trying to survive with creatures that treated guns like little tickles from a toothpick). This book is a sci-fi book with elements of horror embedded into it. The blurb lets us know that “There’s something living beneath New York City, and it’s not happy we’ve woken it up.”

With at different point of views from at least three different groups, we are constantly spinning between one party or another, each playing their own vital roles, all trying to rescue the others and/or survive. Almost every chapter finishes off with a cliffhanger and with a rotating cast between chapters, you’d have to endure the other parties’ point of views each time until you can reunite with the characters to see how they fair when you last left off with them.

Personal Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and there wasn’t much I actually disliked. I love when books keep my heart pounding, clinging to the edge of my seat, mouth wide open. In some of the mystery books I read, I really only get a “Holy Shit!” moment, late into the book, when they finally catch the perpetrators and some fire fight or car chase happens. It’s a brief moment of adrenaline, but here, you get the rush from start to finish! And then it doesn’t stop even there! There’s a sequel to this book! (I didn’t even realize until I finished and sat there going, “Wait….wait it’s unfinished…What’s going on??”)

I am NOT a sci-fi fan. If you’ve read my Review Policy, I mentioned that I used to have a thing with Sci-Fi books until one book changed my mind (Well here you go. It was this book). Sci-fi was in my small pile of “genres I don’t touch ever.” Futuristic themes, time travel, space, and spaceships were just not my thing and when it came down to “sci-fi” that was all I could think of.

After this book, I gained a new view towards this genre. Though I still don’t actively reach out and search for books in this genre, I don’t mind taking a look to see if they might be a good read, whenever I come across them. So if there is anything I want to say about this book, it’s that it was the turning point book for me to look at a genre that I previously didn’t care for. (Funny enough, I entered the giveaway and didn’t even look at the genre. I just thought the summary sounded pretty neat).

Would I Recommend?

Heck yes! Here is a few quick key points: Horror, human vs the unknown, humans rendered to nothing but rag dolls, guns are useless, these creatures are creepy, these creatures are very intelligent and adapt insanely fast to new situations, swearing, plenty of gore to go around, and fast paced. People are trying to survive and others are depending on other people to survive.

Definitely a fantastic read if the above points sounded great to you. And as someone who doesn’t really reread books, this is such a fun book that I’d love to reread.