‘Sleeping Beauty and The Cursed Code’ by Emma Jean – Review

Fairy tale and STEM combine for a fun story with an important message…

Emma Jean has put together a wonderful story that contains an important message aimed at encouraging and introducing younger readers to the world of STEM – this is something we need more of in modern literature.

In a fairy tale inspired world of kings, queens, castles and princesses a young Sleeping Beauty must race against time to defeat a curse created by an evil fairy. Part of this story we’ve known and loved for generations while the newer parts are fresh, educational and pretty cool. Some familiar names appear along with some newer ones but they are given a modern makeover and this whole story has that modern inner message of inclusion, education and even morality. It’s thought provoking for those of the younger persuasion while being educational and the subject of learning new skills is at the very core.

Sleeping Beauty and a host of characters must band together to utilise those new skills that will hopefully be enough to save the day and lift the curse. With some fun moments along the way and plenty of awesome tech, magic, original concepts and a good old fashioned good versus evil story this one is guaranteed to bring enjoyment to younger and older readers.

5 Stars – A great read with a positive message that spotlights the awesome world of STEM

‘ARIA: Book 1 of the Scintillance Theory’ by Gyorgy Henyei Neto – Review

Immersive science fiction with some mystery and time travel elements…

‘Dia’ sets out to recall lost memories while trying to decipher what is real and what is dream in an immersive and partly surreal story that puts readers in the very centre of her dilemma. To begin with everything is shrouded in a level of mystery as our main character tries to put her memory together while also being unsure who to trust and that is while she recovers from the recent past. This is a future world where the ‘ARIA foundation’ seem to control and see everything and after an event known as ‘The Scintillance’ we gradually find out what happened and how ‘Dia’ was involved.

To begin with I did struggle to get into the story but it picks up and figures itself out as events unfolds and it gets better throughout. The stakes emerge and as ‘Dia’ learns about her past the twists, turns and drama emerges into an enjoyable story. Some of the concepts were original and overall I was immersed into a world that has only just been introduced as this is the first of a wider series. For those who enjoy science fiction with mystery and time travel elements, this is the one for you.

4 Stars – Thank you to the author who provided an advanced copy in exchange for an unbiased review.

‘Sex, Violence, Mars’ by Walrus

A short but fun sci-fi story with great world building, action and some laughs…

Ginger is a care free bounty hunter on a mission to Mars where he finds himself getting into more trouble than good and his story is exactly what the title suggests. Even if this tale feels a little brief the science fiction world building stands out and the themes are captured well in this setting. Life is cheap, there’s sex and violence on the surface of this red planet and our cynical hero sees it first hand near enough everywhere.

The setting is paired with a writing style that I found to be executed very well – its a very easy read with some fun comedic elements. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and along with everything else this short book makes for a good read. For what starts out as a slowly paced introduction of this well imagined world soon picks up and is constantly moving forward much like the pages which turn; I was able to read this one in just a sitting.

Ginger is likeable and makes for a different type of hero. It would appear trouble and unpredictability follow him no matter where he goes. His final destination, we’ll have to find out next time as the story ends on a cliff-hanger.

Anyone who enjoys space sci fi with some adult themes will enjoy this one.

4 Stars – This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Blachart’ by Christina Engela – Review

Enjoyable action-packed original space sci-fi

Christina Engela delivers with this action packed tale that introduces the Galaxii series; an expansive world of Imperial space fleets, distant planets, space pirates and beyond. Utilizing her unique, fun and strong narration style we meet ‘Mykl d’Angelo’ who serves firstly as a mystery man seemingly marooned alone in space until the authorities take him in and learn he is trustworthy. His brutal back story becomes apparent and as a reader you naturally side with him. Whether it be for his quick witted one liner’s or ability to deal with most situations and seemingly get out of them; the Imperial space fleet soon employ d’Angelo. He even reconnects with an old flame in the form of ‘Ripley Jones’ who vouches for him.

The real threat in Engela’s deep space Galaxii universe and much like many of her other books are the Corsairs – a mystery group of pirate types who appear to ravage any civilisation they can. Soon enough d’Angelo’s rescuing ship comes across another vessel manned by them and so the action, drama and deception begins. In order to fully intercept the Corsair world, they must align with an unexpected ally.

While this tale is wholly original there are some fun references throughout from old school weaponry, pirate slang terms and even a hilarious fast food reference. From shootouts to car chases this book has everything fans of sci fi action could want. It’s imaginative, highly readable and fun much like many of Christina Engela’s works which I highly recommend!

5 Stars – A cracking read. Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon. Thank you to the author for providing a copy to review.

‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ by Nina Munteanu – Review

A truly important once in a generation read that flows like a wild river right through your imagination and heart.

This captivating book doesn’t hold back in presenting readers with the potentially damning path humanity is going to take and how we might lose our most important resource; water. You’ll find the subject of water flowing everywhere in a story that is sometimes heart wrenching but also wonderfully informing, it’s metaphoric, symbolic and even a character.

Everything that surrounds the subject of water or limnology as it’s technically defined has been woven into a wonderfully researched plethora of information and fiction. Fact and fiction merge flawlessly in this story that takes readers on a dramatic and eye opening voyage. Just what will this planet be like after our footprint has done all the damage it can do? Well that’s how this story starts in what appears to be a far off time after this world has healed itself from us.

We are then taken back to how we got there and the years much closer to our present through the eyes of a Canadian woman who relays her years from childhood to retirement. From the inspiration and spirit of her mother all the way to her daughter growing up in a world of water rationing and stricter controls. This tale of motherhood is just part of a rich story all told through these diary entries which all begin with some wonderful definitions that relate to the ecology of water and the nature of our wider planet – there is information everywhere and all of it points towards us failing to preserve our most precious resource. It began to open my eyes and also pierce my heart that we seem to be wasting and slowly destroying this planet’s eco systems that all provide us with life. The politics behind water are particularly on point in relating to today’s leaders and corporations but it’s not just empty statements or finger pointing to bad leaders. This book stands up and in the face of those who do not care for our ecological future, for that it’s one of the most important books of a generation.

“it will slip through their fingers. That’s what water does…”

There always seems to be a big time corporation pulling the strings for control and that’s the same in this situation which as the diary moves forward in time so does the struggle. From mass droughts to the technological advances of weather control to even punishing those who collect rain water, this future is both a potential reality and also quite scary. History is being erased or adjusted to suit the less informed society who are ignorant to the struggle. It also maintains this story of a mother concerned for her daughter, a parental tale much like what is going on in the world and future, sometimes you have to just let the next generation go. Perhaps we are too busy trying to save ourselves when really we should be focused on the place we live.

“We’re turning into migrants, condemned to wander the earth in search of a nirvana that doesn’t exist, all because we didn’t treasure the nirvana we had…”

Nina Munteanu has put together a story about the pitfalls of humanity while also being wonderfully informative and inspirational towards highlighting the importance of preserving our water and wider planet. It’s beautifully original, modern and even patriotic in some senses which tells me the author proudly cares immensely about a story where there is so much more underneath the shimmering surface.

5 Stars – Exceptional, relevant and important. This review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery

‘Lords of Mars’ by Colin Yeoman – Review

Gripping high end space fiction about the politics of humanity, civilisation and revolution…

Lords of Mars is a story that embodies the many aspects of human politics from power, revolution, deception, change and no matter what civilisation we create, these things will always exist wherever we go. Perhaps the greatest threat to our own civilisation and history is ourselves as a species. These themes and concepts are then combined with the question of where we originated from and how we actually got here on this planet.

While the first book in this Custodian Library Archives series merely considers the question, Colin Yeoman uses this story to answer it and there is a lot more going on throughout this fantastic well paced read. This book could even be enjoyed on a stand alone level simply for it’s originality.

We are taken way back to when humans were leaving the near fallen civilisations of Mars; although some feel as if they were abandoning their fellow man but there is a new planet on the horizon. This is a polarising subject that creates opposing factions who feel like their history and people are being left behind. The preservation of this history is being contended here.

Much of the story takes place during the crossing between the two planets on board the ‘Spero’ where a multitude of characters are either for or against the new frontier. We meet ‘Cal’ who looks to lead a revolution in securing the ‘Remnants’ history and survival, that is after he encounters a stowaway who might know a little too much about the future. Of course there are other physical struggles like adjusting to the gravity of space travel and then the new world. ‘Centrifugal Gravity’ is just one of the many cool concepts this book is full of.

The pace quickens in the final chapters with action, deception and page turning thrills that highlight the early days of when we first arrived to the new world all of which is left open for more. Readers of science fiction will enjoy the original world building and thought provoking nature of what is a great read.

5 Stars – Thoroughly enjoyable and great escapism!

‘Senescence’ by Denver Scott – Review

One giant leap into the future of humankind via the cosmos through the vessel of science that makes for a fascinating read!

SENESCENCE by [DENVER SCOTT]

Denver Scott delivers a deep dive look into the future of human life where the line between science and fiction merge flawlessly. The science element takes centre stage and carries the presence of a main character consistently throughout what is a truly fascinating read.

Senescence covers a lot of ground (or space) and initially focuses on a futuristic world of extremes in both medical advances and the potential threats there are to humanity. From the eventual hazards of ‘space junk’, eradicating illness and even the future of genetics, all of the directions this book takes a reader on come from mostly real scenarios that are backed up with science which is then extended further – it’s a unique concept and style that keeps the story moving while also proving that the author’s imagination and knowledge go hand in hand. Creativity meets realism with terminology that’s both new and familiar such as ‘Histolog’ and ‘VIP’ – Vitally Improved Persona, none of which feel like fiction at all.

Much of each chapter is made up of an explanation or story that surrounds the subject matter in what is an unlimited guided tour into the future where attention to detail is at the very forefront. We meet characters who are on that journey much like us. Commander Jenna Morton is a genetically perfected human creation and along with her crew are on a pioneering voyage of discovery. It is on that voyage that we experience these wide range of subjects from our own planet’s nature/history to it’s future along with humankind, civilisations, terraforming planets, deep space travel and even time travel.

Even though I am more on the layman level of understanding, not once did I feel out of my depth as the writing style is accessible to any reader of the curious persuasion, especially those interested in the cosmos. This is a book that celebrates humankind and science that will stir your imagination while also being informative.

5 Stars – Fantastic Read. Review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery 

How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal By S.D. McKinley – Review

An entirely unique and original page-turning journey of variety on the open road…   

LJ and Rom

Somewhere between unique, random and fun is where you’ll find How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal which is a road trip story with a difference. This unique tale is told with imagination that makes for perfect escapism while also carrying an intelligence with snappy dialogue, fun characters and interesting encounters. 

Main characters LJ and Rom decide that they are done with rally car racing and decide to make a pilgrimage of sorts across country along the open road to save their close friend. The action picks up quickly and doesn’t let off the gas near enough all the way through page turning chapters where our heroes come across a multitude of ‘out there’ experiences from trashing motel rooms rock and roll style, fixing their vehicle, high speed racing to even the supernatural and everything else in between. The unpredictable is at play here, making it feel like the story could go anywhere next and it does. There are even zombies!

In most logical circumstances everything in this story shouldn’t work, but it does and the style of writing just flows and works flawlessly in what is one of the most original books I have ever come across. It’s clear that the imagination of S.D McKinley is one of a gifted story teller with an original voice.

5 Stars – A real interesting and fun read. Thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for am honest review. Reviews also left on Amazon and Goodreads. 

Stuff I’m watching right now to stay sane…

Ah yes, sanity, it’s an interesting subject right now and like the elevator industry for me it has it’s ups an downs… The truth is and although ‘governments’ are trying to get folks back to work and out of lock down, it isn’t over yet, not for a long while and personally I’m staying in for the near and possibly distant future. 

Just how am I staying sane every other day in this emerging world of being inside and sat on one’s posterior? It’s simple really, I’m re watching a lot of stuff that I liked in the past so here are a few recommendations that have been keeping me distracted from my own sanity…

Life on Mars – Series by BBC – Available via Netflix 

BBC One - Life on Mars

It’s hard for even me to accept that 2006 is over 15 years ago but facts and age realisations aside because Life on Mars is somewhat of a time travelling gem in my eyes. This is because the show has aged rather well and portrays 1970’s Manchester through the eyes of Detective Sam Tyler who is run over in the present day and wakes up there – it’s a pretty genius and ‘out there’ concept that works. Sam must survive life in the 70’s as a detective and find a way home.

There’s a level of authenticity about the whole thing and not to mention the atmosphere is captured well. Now I was born in the late 80’s but after watching it beside my Old man back in the day who left school in ’74, he can vouch for the authenticity of what is a police procedural show that captures the times and has a side serving of science fiction/Bowie-esqe weirdness. Because it arrived in 2006 there isn’t a lot of PC stuff which makes for more realism and if you do watch it, the show is dominated by a great performance from Phillip Glenister who plays the boozing, scruff snatching, say what he want’s DCI Gene Hunt and not to mention the soundtrack is golden!

The X-Files (Season 2) – Available on Amazon Prime 

Without doubt Sci fi television what not be what it is today without Mulder and Scully’s antics. I’m currently near the end of Season 2 and this show overall is still very watchable and stands up to today’s standards. Just the stand alone capers these agents find themselves in make for some great 45 minute escapism with a hint of the weird.

Amazon.com: The X-Files: Season 2: David Duchovny, Gillian ...

Spotlight – Netflix 

Although it’s not a show, Spotlight is a great film that has been on my sights for a while and so the other day I spent an evening watching what is a gripping roller coaster of deception and unravelling of truth. The film follows a group of investigative journalists in Boston who uncover the truth about a racket of sexual abusers in the Catholic church.

Spotlight (film) - Wikipedia

What hit me the most was how determined these journalists were in finding the truth. They weren’t looking to create a story, they were proper journalists – unlike many in the media we see today. It just reminds us how there can be responsible ways news can be reported as opposed to the fear mongering, bad news churning machines most outlets are today.

The cast is stellar, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo head up a great film and story which will keep you gripped.

The Walking Dead – Season 3 – Available of many platforms 

The Walking Dead season 3: All named character deaths

It’s such a shame this show became what it did, but back in the day in the earlier seasons this show had a heart and soul. It portrayed horror and the struggle of surviving. The characters and their arcs were like nothing we had seen in the genre. It was beyond a soap opera, it was an art that the actors wonderfully created. The acting in this thing has always been great and recently I have been working my way through what is a show that I keep close to my heart- up to season 6 anyway.

For those who have never tasted water from the walking dead well, try the first few season and you’ll understand.

Aliens – DVD 

Aliens (1986) – Deep Focus Review – Movie Reviews, Critical Essays ...

Possibly the finest hour of space action. Aliens is the blockbuster sequel to possibly the finest hour of space horror and they are both in my top 10. James Cameron directs what is both action and horror fused together by the unknown of what a small team of mercenaries and a survivor from last time face. The cast, the production design, the action, the suspense all of it still hold up very well today for what is a film that released way back in 1986. The extended version isn’t that much longer than the cinematic version so it’s worth a look. Of course Sigourney Weaver sealed her place in the action hero hall of fame. Watch it, you will not be disappointed.

And so that wraps up the things I’ve been watching to stay sane. What have you been doing to stay sane? 

Memories of Mars: a Novella (Custodian Library Archives Book 1) by Colin Yeoman – Review

A thought provokingly original novella that will leave you wanting more…

 

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There aren’t many stories that successfully combine real science with imaginative fiction which is not only clever but also thought provokingly original, Memories of Mars is both of those and so much more.

From what is a relatively slow but curious start moves towards an imaginative theory about the origins of man and the history of the red planet known as Mars. That is after main character ‘Josiah Lamples’ discovers evidence of life on the barren surface and is soon ‘let go’ by his employers. This is where the story becomes engaging and interesting with just a hint of deception, we see ‘Josiah’ come face to face with the rabbit hole of theory and that life long question of what happened to Mars?

Colin Yeoman has cleverly fused real elements of biological transmission experimentation with the human memory which possibly fills in the gaps of our history in the universe and more specifically Mars which is wholeheartedly original.

Readers of both science fiction and literary fiction will enjoy this brand of ‘Fringe Fiction’ that gives answers and leaves you wanting more..

4 Stars – A very interesting and original read. Novellas like this don’t get enough credit. Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon UK