An extinction-level asteroid is cannonballing toward Earth. In humanity’s final hours, a lucky few earn a one-way ticket to the brand-new, ultra-immersive, fantasy-based VRMMORPG, Viridian Gate Online. Making that leap of faith might mean survival, but it comes with a steep price tag: “Travelers” will forever be stranded as digital avatars inside a fantastical world filled with vicious monsters, all-powerful AIs, and cutthroat players. Let the games begin…
Recently I have been dipping my toes in something a bit different from my usual literary tastes. As someone with little enough time for gaming, it is perhaps best that I live that life vicariously through the means of a humble book.
Having got my hands on two of the nine books in the Viridian Gate Online series, so far, I am looking forward to immersing myself in this virtual world, whilst sagely nodding along to references that I may or may not quite get.
As the ever long, and still growing list of books continues to weigh heavy on my time, and my shelves, never let it be said that I don’t keep stretching my boundaries, in new and interesting directions.
Thanks to James. A. Hunter, and J. D. Harpley for securing me these copies, reviews will be coming just as soon.
In 2011, Jake Epping, an English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, sets out on an insane – and insanely possible – mission to prevent the Kennedy assassination.
Leaving behind a world of computers and mobile phones, he goes back in time to a time of big American cars and diners, of Lindy Hopping, the sound of Elvis and the taste of root beer,
In this haunting world Jake falls in love with Sadie, a beautiful high school librarian. And, as the ominous date of 11.22.63 approaches, he encounters a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald.
This sizeable novel from the wordy wordsmith himself, Mr King has so much of everything in it. The inexactness of that statement is accurate as the number of little details is vast, and as such I read this book with a huge amount of appreciation.
I avoided this book for a long time because, for me a time travel story and King just didn’t seem to gel together in my mind but once I started reading, I thought it worked really well. The element of ‘how would I exploit the past if I could time travel’ is explored = and takes the focus off of the main plot, which itself flows logically and languidly (a good thing) according to the rules set out.
When all else fails, give up and go to the library
Jake is often just as focussed on the smaller picture as much as his larger mission, and it is fascinating to get caught up in, as does he. There is the usual whole heap of nostalgia which the author always excels at, allowing the reader to feel like they miss that time and place, despite many not having lived through it. There is a brief cameo from some of the characters of IT, as well as a couple of Dark Tower references, which is pleasing to those knowledgeable but won’t make any difference to those not familiar with the particular works. Continue reading “11.22.63 – Stephen King”
When this popped up on my Facebook feed it was a pleasant surprise. Regularly reviewed author Jess Harpley (AKA J.D. Astra) is part of a forthcoming anthology from Shadow Alley Press. Of which more details available soon. Check out the publishers if it takes your fancy! At a later date will also see book two of the Earth’s Peril series, I reviewed book one, Sway’s Demise here if anybody needs a refresher.
Seventh-grader Mitchell Brant and three of his classmates inexplicably wake up at the back edge of a softball field to the sounds of a game, the cheering of the crowd. None of them remembers coming here. And as they soon learn, “here” is like no place they’ve ever seen. Cars resemble antiques from the 1950s. There are no cell phones, no PCs. Even the spelling of words is slightly off.
A compulsive liar, constantly telling fantastic stories to garner attention and approval, Mitchell can only wish this were just one more of his tall tales. But it isn’t. It’s all too real. Together, as they confront unexpected and life-threatening dangers, Mitchell and his friends must overcome their bickering and insecurities to learn what happened, where they are, and how to get back home.
The answers can be found only in the mysterious little girl with the blue, hypnotic eyes. The one they had each dreamed of three nights in a row before arriving here. She is their only hope. And, as they eventually discover, they are her only hope.
And time is running out.
The Eye-Dancers, is a story of friendship that has a great nostalgic vibe, bearing similarities in feeling to such coming of age stories like Stephen King’s The Body (the film being titled Stand By Me), mixed in with a classic sci-fi, à la The Twilight Zone. Both of which infuse the prose with their respective flavours and make this story extremely enjoyable to read.
There are plenty of real world YA issues covered here, from self-doubt to broken families, all without getting too heavy. It’s the mixture of the real life and fantastical, and the way Fedison balances it, that is a real strength for this book. The mystery itself is not as clear-cut or clichéd as adult readers long familiar with the genre may guess at when reading the blurb, which is a relief and not at all surprising, considering the author’s blog posts, the link of which you will find at the bottom of this post. Continue reading “The Eye-Dancers – Michael S. Fedison”
Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months.
After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life.
Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.
Inveterate coffee drinking author and fellow blogger Nicholas Conley is back again with another fine offering which treads the fine line between what is real and what may not be. He also comes up with such prose as this, which makes me happy:
The coffee was too hot and too grainy. The fiery grounds jabbed at Camille’s tongue like a tattoo gun.
Conley’s fourth novel is yet again a very good piece of writing and just like his other novel Pale Highway, draws on his experiences working in the understaffed healthcare system to reinforce the plight of Adam and family with solidly realistic emotional reactions. The strong start brings in the challenging themes straight from the off: Bullying, being orphaned, belonging, puberty, guilt, and family problems, all before the main story of a terrible and all too easy to imagine car accident really kicks off.
I’m glad that the decision to focus on both Adam and his parents separately was chosen, this help balance out the physical and psychological effects of the real world whilst making room for the retention of the feeling of tangible and unfettered imagination in Adam’s story. Both parts work well together, allowing the realistic edge of the hospital to give way to the extravagance of imagination, ensuring for an easier but no less challenging read. Continue reading “Intraterrestrial – Nicholas Conley”
This blog post should have gone out yesterday but the internet was inexplicably down for a while so belatedly this is coming out today:
Not content with just one avenue of helping children, I am now helping promote an annual book – familiar to some of you – that encourages children to read, get into Sci-Fi, use their imaginations, and to be more literate which makes for a better society in general.
it has been good to get back in touch with Dreaming Robot Press who have been kind enough to send me an advanced copy of the upcoming anthology, The Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide 2018. For those of you that don’t know, the YEAG is a book that aims to be inclusive of all, sometimes drop in subtle morals and most of all give children the passion for books and exploring their minds.
With such an unlimited scope for stories, each adventure promises to be a joy and my review of last year’s 2017 YEAG will give you a taster of the sort of thing you can expect, as I delve into the new one. For now though the Kickstarter campaign, although having reached its target and soon to close is still worth checking out if you feeling like sharing the love and helping to support this project, head on over to their Kickstarter page. Your contribution is appreciated.
This is book two in the Verge of Desolation series so if you are new to the series, skip the blurb and I will do my best to keep out any story spoiling information as you will want to start with book one, The Mill reviewed here.
Jen has departed, leaving mechanically augmented Hopper at the top of a dimensionally phasing building wondering what’s next. Riding home, she encounters the strange but intriguing Ravin, a man so desperate to make a change in their cruel world, Hopper’s never fully sure she can trust him. Her thirst for revenge against the doctors of The Mill shapes the revolt of their century as she adopts Ravin’s quest for freedom and unravels a secret which cuts deeply into her heart. Return to The Mill with Hopper and Ravin on their bloody adventure to destroy the source of the depraved experiments and save the world from the true evil that plagues it.
Revolt picks up straight from where The Mill left off and as with its predecessor is an action packed story that flies along and keeps the body count high, It has a lively, cyberpunk feeling, keeping it fresh with unexpected events and quirky characters..
As usual Jess presents a strong female lead – a theme running through all her work – and one that appeals to both sexes. This time our heroine is plunged into an uneasy alliance which radiates tension and vulnerability adding another layer to a story already rich with dark imagery. It is that uncertainty which drives the book and keeps an air of mystery to the proceedings as the reader can never quite tell what sort of twists will occur and where that will take the adventure.
Goodbye, you elegant weirdo
The uncertainty drives the character arcs and reveals that there is always something more to each player than was first imagined. This metamorphosis of character is something that is a constant through the Verge of Desolation series, which really adds, not only to the scope of the characters but also the unpredictability of the story.
Continue reading “Revolt – Jess Harpley”