‘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

 

 

Life Signs by Christina Engela – Review

A trio of enjoyable sci-fi tales filled with mystery, fun and revelations…

PHIS#2 Life Signs by Christina Engela - cover

The second entry of Christina Engela’s Panic! Horror in Space series takes the reader on a ride of mystery through three tales of the ghostly, vampiric and even cursed objects; all of which are hazards that come with deep space travel.

Captain Stuart Flane returns to face these perilous situations and has developed a rap for finding trouble of such persuasions. He’s used to dealing with the macabre and that’s what all three of these stories have in common. All of them begin in one place and through the vessel of immersive and readable story telling they end up somewhere completely unexpected.

From poignant to quirky and fun, these stories pretty much cover everything that Engela is known for with a writing style and depth that will draw you in. I particularly enjoyed ‘Lange’s Legacy’ which carried a certain detective vibe while also being full of twists and revelations.

5 stars – A fun read that will appeal to most readers. A thank you to the author for providing a copy in exchange for a review left on Goodreads and Amazon

Static by Christina Engela – Review

Page turning space sci-fi full of chills and fun from beginning to end…

PHIS#1 Static by Christina Engela - Cover

Christina Engela delivers a fun but chilling book that contains many of the familiar horror story tropes only now they are in space and on distant planets of the haunted/abandoned persuasion. 

For what reads and feels like an anthology of shorter stories they are all linked by their events and of course ‘Captain Stuart Flane’ who by the end of it all has probably seen it all. From space ‘zoms’ to possessed dolls and ‘toys’ all the way to an abandoned formerly colonized planet that’s now inundated with ghost types playing havoc with furniture; our hero ‘Flane’ can only explain this stuff to the higher ups in the least absurd ways possible.

Those who are fans of classic and recent horror stories will find this to be a read in somewhat familiar territory while much of the events come unexpectedly and on the fringes of laugh out loud comedy. There’s mystery, suspense, a lot of fun and of course that element of the unexpected which will keep readers turning the pages. Many of the sub genres of horror are represented with hauntings, zombies, possessions and urban exploration all of which are set in the science fiction universe of the ‘Panic! Horror in Space series’.

4 Stars- Thank you to the author for providing an e copy. Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘High Steaks’ by Christina Engela – Review

An epic ensemble of characters fighting for the importance of inclusion…

Quantum Series #6 - High Steaks 2019 - front

The Quantum Series carries a consistent theme throughout all six of it’s stories; that being inclusion no matter how different one is or where they come from. Whether you are human, alien, plant or anything else in between. No matter your beliefs, non beliefs, orientation or anything else that may set you aside and make you different. Christina Engela’s stories in this series champion that and it’s an important modern cause to stand for in literature. She manages to do and say that without being preachy and while also and importantly telling fun, action packed, sometimes quirky but always enjoyable stories. It’s also what is being fought for in this book.

High Steaks picks up pretty much where the previous encounter ‘Prodigal Sun’  left off. The planet of Deanna has been over run and taken over by some quite nasty forces. Their stance is the exact opposite of what Engela’s stories and their heroes stand for. And for this one these heroes are out in full force, names whom readers will find familiar. Their goal to undo what injustice has been done not just for the different but for everyone and the greater good. It’s an echo towards our own history and more importantly a tribute to the fight against separatism and nationalist socialists who only see the world one way.

Everything that makes up the good parts of these stories has been painstakingly crafted into this one. It’s quick paced in moments with a sense of an ensemble cast all working together to fight for one another making it probably the most epic story in the series. Quite late on I realised this wasn’t going to be the final book of the series, at first I felt a little disappointed but then elated that what will follow if there is a 7th which will be one hell of a culmination and I am more than interested in reading.

Overall I have very much enjoyed reading the books in this series. They are fun, quirky, imaginative and their biggest quality is that the style and the way they read is very much accessible to pretty much anyone. I highly recommend the Quantum series to everyone!

5 Stars – Fun and powerful. Thank you to the author for providing me with all books in this series! Review left via Goodreads and Amazon UK. 

Have you read the Quantum Series? You should! 

Prodigal Sun by Christina Engela – Review

Fun, quirky and most probably the strongest of the Quantum series!

prodigal

Christina Engela has a unique way of telling a story that has lots going on without making it seem confusing or cluttered. Having read all of the previous books in her ‘Quantum’ series this one carves a unique but powerful path that faces many issues without any fear.

Characters who have established themselves in this colourful and fun universe are taken somewhat by surprise much like the reader as a political supremacist group looks to overthrow the current regime on Deanna. In fact everything about the ‘Deannan Service league’ reeks of revolt but some revolutions aren’t for the greater good – a strong and relevant political message that many can relate to today.

We see Danielle Ferris; a student and transgender character who becomes directly caught up in the political overthrowing and subsequent storm. You cannot help but sympathise for her story which is one that is just of a person looking to be included and positive inclusion is a huge theme in this book much like all of Engela’s works they directly and sometimes indirectly set an example that champions everyone and anyone including the minorities.

As the story unfolded it became more and more gripping as events turn for the worse. Sheriff Peggy Ann-Muller may well be in over her head even if she does express exactly what is going on through a powerful quote ‘Anyone else want to be on the wrong side of history?’ Powerful is probably the one word which sums up the plot of ‘Prodigal Sun’ but as usual there is way much more happening. I have only just realized ‘Atro City’ is in fact meant to be pronounced as ‘Atrocity’ which is just one of the many fun quirks you’ll find in this great read! Left very much open and on a cliff hanger, I shall be diving right into the next story!

5 Stars – Great read, review left via Goodreads over the holidays but now I am back to review more indie books! You can expect a review of the next book in the Quantum series soon!

Happy new year readers! 

Awesome Indie Books I have read this year: PT1

Yes I know this is an end of the year review type post and we are in late November but… I’ve read a stack of awesome books in the past twelve months and by that I am talking from the end of last November all the way up to the end of this November so that’s a year right? Anyway I’ve got a lot to get through because I’ve read a lot of good books and all of them are independently published. This is part 1 of hopefully 2 posts; we’ll see how many I can cram into one entry… so here goes!

 

last driver

On this day exactly a year ago I posted a review of ‘The Last Driver’ – Episode 1 – Old Dogs by Bookshelf Q. Battler a fellow blogger who has put together a story of the future which is realistic in a kind of sinister but fun way… for what is a shorter book it’s an enjoyable story about one man who is looking to relive his glory days of when you could actually drive a car instead of having a computer do it for you. The ending was left open for a potential sequel which I would be interested in reading. 

undertown

For this next book I was taken back in time to the prohibition /crime wave era of Chicago in what is a clever fusing of history and horror/ the paranormal. To quote my review of Undertown: A novella by K.Noel Moore  it’s a ‘perfectly paced, easily readable and well written history novella with just the right amount of chills and atmosphere to make it stand out.’  

sitch

Blood of the Sixth By K. R. Rowe is about a lot of different things. This well structured story is both brutally graphic in some parts while also managing to make the reader genuinely laugh during other portions. It’s an easy to read story which sits within the realms of gritty urban horror, mystery and witchcraft’ that I couldn’t put down in the latter stages!

alien diraries

I thoroughly enjoyed The Alien Diaries by Glenn J. Devlin – a clever and original story with a rather unique premise. The book unfolds with a back and forth style via diary entries from 1700’s which are then complimented by the main narrative which is set in present day. To quote my review it’s a ‘gripping original tale that nods to some important history as well as taking the reader on a journey through time. I even found there to be some great references to writing and reading in general all of which tells me the author has spent a great amount of time and effort constructing a story that everyone will find enjoyable.’

Nocturnal blood

Let’s talk about Nocturnal Blood by Villimey Mist which isn’t just a vampire story, it’s so much more. The main character suffers from anxiety and OCD which is not only brave for the author to include but very important also – issues like this must be talked about more. To quote my review Nocturnal Blood is a ‘highly readable tale of bravery, friendship, character development and vampires; a genre in modern times that doesn’t get nearly enough credit especially when stories like this exist.’  * This is part of a series with part 2 coming soon! 

51

Now if I could choose a genre to call home it would be horror and Building 51 By Jennifer L. Place is right up my alley… so let me tell you why. This book is a cross between urban exploration, tension filled horror and just a dusting of truth because it is set in a real place. Building 51 see’s a group of friends who go to check out an old mostly abandoned hospital and things start to get just a tad harrowing. It’s cinematic and immersive so I recommend it to anyone who likes this sort of story!

blue rabbit

“I’m going to save the world. Who’s with me?” of course I am quoting Blue Rabbit by Jimena Novaro which is the first real fantasy book I have read. With a multitude of great characters this story unique and later on becomes pretty epic. A group of friends have discovered a gateway to another world where someone follows and goes missing. It’s fun, colourful and immersive. After reading it I would happily say that this is my type of fantasy! * This author has a new release coming in December which I am currently reading an advanced copy of, it’s just as enjoyable… 

kali

Daughter of Kali: Awakening by Shiulie Ghosh may appear to be just another fantasy/teen novel but it is so much more! This is a story of warriors, heritage and demons with plenty of action. What starts out as in introduction to just an ordinary world follows into the rabbit hole of magic and mythology which is also cleverly linked to the Hindu faith. *  Part one of a series, having already read part two I shall be looking to read the final part next year! 

Quantum Series #1 - Black Sunrise 2019 - front

Black Sunrise by Christina Engela is not only a fun, quirky and imaginative foray into science fiction, it’s also part 1 of the ‘Quantum’ series which I have delved into over the past 6 or so months – I still have 2 left to read hopefully before the end of this year. All of Christina Engela’s books promote positive and modern messages about being inclusive while also being fun. Black Sunrise is just the beginning of that and if you like sci fi you will love this!

kau d'varza

Keeping with the sci-fi theme this next book I was given an advanced review copy of which certainly didn’t dissapoint. Kau D’varza: A story in the ChaosNova universe by David Noë is high-end space travel sci-fi of the finest persuasion. It’s one of the longer stories I have read this year but don’t let that put you off, longer reads mean more immersion and this one certainly draws you in. The story centres around a space station in the very depths of the stars where something is always happening. There is a multitude of characters, drama and mystery in what is a well thought out story set in a detailed world.

squatter in ldn

Last and by no means least is a book that is probably one of the most unique reads I have ever experienced. I say this because A Squatter in London by Irene Pylypec is an autobiographical diary style account of one young lady’s time spent in London after travelling from Canada during the 1970’s. To quote my review ‘the sights, the sounds, the tastes and the people are captured perfectly in what is a fantastic story of highs and lows for a young person trying to survive and figure out life.’ 

So that wraps up Part 1 of Awesome Indie Books I have read this year. Shout out to the awesome authors of these titles which I recommend highly! If you do buy one, remember to leave a review!

HERE’S PART 2!