Ari Goes to War by P.J. Sky

In trouble with the Jackroller crime syndicate, and with the warlords of The Black Mulga on her tail, Ari must confront her past when she sets out across the war-torn wasteland to rescue Starla from the clutches of the infamous Bone Pointer. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Ari Goes to War will be available on April sixth.

Ari Goes to War is the sequel to A Girl Called Ari. It continues to follow Ari (and Starla), although this book focuses a lot on Ari’s relationships with others, and how her past affects them. Starla finds herself in a precarious situation and Ari goes to rescue her.

The book continues the story quite well. Ari is a tough-as-nails character most of the time, so it was nice to see a little bit more of what makes her tick, so to speak. There were a couple of other characters for her to interact with, which was interesting, the main one being a girl named Keshia. Keshia lives on the streets and is just trying to get by. Her fingers tend to get a little sticky and she finds herself running from trouble a lot. She makes some bad choices, but it’s either in the interest of survival or in a misguided attempt to help. She was by far my favorite character. To Ari’s credit, she doesn’t ditch Keshia, despite the several occasions when things would have been easier if she had.

I was a little bummed that Starla was once again in need of rescue. It would have been nice to see her character be a little more active. However, the group (dare I say ‘cult’?) that kidnaps her is all kinds of interesting. I really liked seeing how that all played out.

While this book is a sequel, the events of book one are explained throughout in a way that would make it completely possible to read as a stand-alone. I appreciated the references to what went on in A Girl Called Ari, since it helped freshen my memory.

Ari Goes to War is a quick read and an entertaining one. Look for it when it releases: in the meantime, A Girl Called Ari is available now and it’s a good time to jump in.

Wyldblood Magazine Issue #1

Thank you to Wyldblood Press for the opportunity to read and review the first issue of Wyldblood Magazine. You can find Wyldblood Magazine here.

This is a great offering from some truly talented authors. I got sucked into the very first story, and looked up a moment later to realize that I had finished the entire magazine and time had flown by without my noticing.

No one story was like another. Each piece was completely unique and stunningly creative. While I enjoyed all of them, there were two that really stood out to me. The first was Thawing by JL George. This is about the Ice Princess, a frozen statue that stands in the center of a village square. Legend has it that-well, I don’t want to spoil it. I’ll just drop a hint about dragons (oh, how I love stories that contain dragons!), and say that Thawing has a perfect mix of legend and the everyday. I would love to see this expanded to a full novel, I enjoyed it so much.

The other story that really stuck with me was Souls of Smoke and Ash by Sydney Paige Guerrero. Have you ever heard someone being referred to as a “soul sucking —-“? Well, this particular entry happens to actually be about a soul sucker. It’s amazing to see an author lay out the scene, personality, and atmosphere that completely so quickly. The tale was told with confidence and ended in a way that I didn’t expect.

Not only are there some fantastic stories, Wyldblood Magazine also features interviews, book reviews, and some very skillful art. All of it added to the magazine, none of it was just filler. I’ve added a few books from the review section to my already overly large “to be read” list.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the layout. Sometimes, magazines are ordered in a way that makes transitions between pieces seem clunky, or gives a feeling of things being incomplete. Not so with Wyldblood. Each piece moved seamlessly into the next, despite every story being unlike the one before it. It’s hard to believe that this is the first issue of the magazine: it feels effortlessly well done. I am incredibly impressed, and I highly, highly suggest Wyldblood Magazine for all readers of fantasy or science fiction.

Around the Dark Dial by J.D. Sanderson

Take a trip around the dark dial with eleven original and thought-provoking short stories that invoke the wonder and mystery of old-time radio dramas. Forget all that you know about modern sci-fi. In Around the Dark Dial, it’s all about the unexpected. (taken from Goodreads)

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

This is a short story collection unlike any other I’ve read. Evoking a sense of the mysterious, each story had an underlying tension that kept me fascinated. Short story collections can be hit or miss for me; this was a definite hit.

Each story provided a unique take on the sci-fi genre. While there were stories featuring common sci-fi features, they were uniquely done in ways that felt fresh and new. There were what seemed to be hidden connections between some of the stories, more common themes than anything else. I enjoyed the thrill I got from seeing how one might be connected to another. Even the way the stories were ordered added to my enjoyment of the collection.

I particularly liked The Simulant for its take on AI. The humanity that author J.D. Sanderson gave to his Simulant was actually very thought-provoking. The ending gave off a sense of paranoia, much like a good thriller can. In fact, Sanderson knows just when to end a tale, leaving plenty of room for the reader to think and wonder, without suddenly dropping the plot. I don’t like books that stop abruptly, but I also am not a huge fan of things being overexplained. Sanderson tread the fine line between the two with skill.

My absolute favorite of the stories, though, was Caller Four. This one revolved around a radio show that covered the topic of alien abductions. The late-night scene, combined with the question of whether the alien encounter was really happening, made for an engrossing read. I loved how the ending brought the story full-circle. This one will definitely stick with me.

If you’re a fan of creative fiction, or if you enjoyed The Twilight Zone, Around the Dark Dial will be right up your alley. I highly suggest giving this one a go!

You can find Around the Dark Dial on bookshop.org (among other places). If you order through my link I’ll get a small kickback. More importantly, you’ll be supporting local bookstores.

How to Be a Hipster Reader: Part Two

I’m back with another guide to becoming a part of the Book Hipster Collective. If you’d like to read my original post, so that you can say you read it before there was a part two, you can find it here.

As previously determined, while skinny jeans and Buddy Holly glasses are a plus, the real definition of a “book hipster” is a reader who has read the book before it was a movie/show. So, here I am to help you with that worthy goal! I’ve gathered a list of books that are going to be movies or TV shows before too much longer, so that you can read them now. Due to… *gestures at everything*…release dates are very much up in the air. Still, it’s a good time to get started.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot: Despite not being my usual fare, I loved this book. It’s the gentle sort of wonderful that is always timely. This has become a PBS show which is already on the air, so now is the time to read this book.

For over forty years, generations of readers have thrilled to Herriot’s marvelous tales, deep love of life, and extraordinary storytelling abilities. For decades, Herriot roamed the remote, beautiful Yorkshire Dales, treating every patient that came his way from smallest to largest, and observing animals and humans alike with his keen, loving eye.

In All Creatures Great and Small, we meet the young Herriot as he takes up his calling and discovers that the realities of veterinary practice in rural Yorkshire are very different from the sterile setting of veterinary school. Some visits are heart-wrenchingly difficult, such as one to an old man in the village whose very ill dog is his only friend and companion, some are lighthearted and fun, such as Herriot’s periodic visits to the overfed and pampered Pekinese Tricki Woo who throws parties and has his own stationery, and yet others are inspirational and enlightening, such as Herriot’s recollections of poor farmers who will scrape their meager earnings together to be able to get proper care for their working animals. From seeing to his patients in the depths of winter on the remotest homesteads to dealing with uncooperative owners and critically ill animals, Herriot discovers the wondrous variety and never-ending challenges of veterinary practice as his humor, compassion, and love of the animal world shine forth. (taken from Goodreads)

Dune by Frank Herbert: There’s been a lot of excitement over the upcoming movie adaptation, which has been pushed back a little. Still, it’s on the horizon, and this is one of those books that sci-fi fans really should read anyway.

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for…

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream. (taken from Goodreads)

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton: First of all, it should be noted that, here in the U.S., the title is actually The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. The slight name difference never ceases to amuse me. Whatever name it goes by, this is a fantastic novel!

Aiden Bishop knows the rules. Evelyn Hardcastle will die every day until he can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest at Blackheath Manor. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others. With a locked room mystery that Agatha Christie would envy, Stuart Turton unfurls a breakneck novel of intrigue and suspense.

For fans of Claire North, and Kate Atkinson, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive mystery that follows one man’s race against time to find a killer, with an astonishing time-turning twist that means nothing and no one are quite what they seem. (taken from Goodreads)

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: This is not a drill, folks! Douglas Adams’ hilariously bizarre book is once again being adapted, this time into a HULU series. If you didn’t read the book before watching the 2005 movie, you can save your book hipster cred by reading it before checking out the show.

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years. (taken from Goodreads)

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I’m tentatively excited about this upcoming movie. I say tentatively because I loved the book so much that I’m afraid no adaptation will do it justice. Sigh. Such is the burden of a book hipster.

A gripping novel about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, revealing the mystery behind their infamous break up.

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the real reason why they split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go-Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Another band getting noticed is The Six, led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend. (taken from Goodreads)

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood and Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud: There is going to be a Netflix series based on the Lockwood and Co. series. If it’s anything like the books, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall’s legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day? (taken from Amazon)

The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips: It’s still early days for this one, but it looks like Warner Bros. has picked up the film rights for this delightful book. I devoured this one. Join me, fellow book hipsters, in reading this before it becomes a movie!

Beauty comes at a price. And no one knows that better than Ebenezer Tweezer, who has stayed beautiful for 511 years. How, you may wonder? Ebenezer simply has to feed the beast in the attic of his mansion. In return for meals of performing monkeys, statues of Winston Churchill, and the occasional cactus, Ebenezer gets potions that keep him young and beautiful, as well as other presents.

But the beast grows ever greedier with each meal, and one day he announces that he’d like to eat a nice, juicy child next. Ebenezer has never done anything quite this terrible to hold onto his wonderful life. Still, he finds the absolutely snottiest, naughtiest, and most frankly unpleasant child he can and prepares to feed her to the beast.

The child, Bethany, may just be more than Ebenezer bargained for. She’s certainly a really rather rude houseguest, but Ebenezer still finds himself wishing she didn’t have to be gobbled up after all. Could it be Bethany is less meal-worthy and more…friend-worthy? (taken from Amazon)

What say you, Reader? Are you a book hipster? Do you plan to read any of these books before they get the adaptation treatment?

As always, you can find most of these titles on Bookshop.org, which supports local bookstores (I also get a small kickback, if you use the above link).

Sources:
“All Creatures Great and Small (TV Series 2020– ) – IMDb.” Www.Imdb.com, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt10590066/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1. Accessed 6 Jan. 2021.

Kroll, Justin, and Justin Kroll. “Warner Bros. Acquires Rights to ‘Beast and Bethany’ for ‘Harry Potter’ Producer David Heyman (EXCLUSIVE).” Variety, 13 Mar. 2020, variety.com/2020/film/news/beast-and-bethany-movie-warner-bros-david-heyman-1203533521/. Accessed 6 Jan. 2021.

Ravindran, Manori, and Manori Ravindran. “Netflix Unveils New U.K. Projects With Sam Mendes, Rowan Atkinson, Andy Serkis.” Variety, 13 Dec. 2020, variety.com/2020/tv/global/netflix-uk-original-series-slate-1234852613/. Accessed 6 Jan. 2021.

Villeneuve, Denis, et al. “Dune.” IMDb, 29 Sept. 2021, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1160419/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1. Accessed 6 Jan. 2021.

Come Take Me: A Celestial Satire by Ethan Herberman

The time is now (almost), and some Americans have decided that Canada is not quite far enough from their roiling homeland. For them there is ComeTakeMe.com, a website where people advertise to get taken by aliens.

Will anyone succeed? How about Marshall M. Shmishkiss, a starry-eyed optimist determined to become his world’s most eligible abductee? Marshall trains his body. He trains his mind. He tries to prepare for every challenge that might await a lone human on a ship of galactic explorers. And soon he will face a choice.

Either make one final, Faustian attempt at leaving his planet . . .

Or get used to down-to-earth drudgery and the end of his dreams. (taken from Netgalley)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

Marshall M. Shmishkiss is a man determined to leave it all behind. He doesn’t want to move to a new place or quit his job–he really wants to leave it all behind. He trains in an attempt to be taken by aliens. He submits videos of his training to a website called ComeTakeMe, where they are viewed by the company that oversees the website.

The employees of this company call him the “Shmish” and they get great pleasure out of laughing and mocking the videos. Honestly, it was really cruel, despite the oddness of Marshall’s videos. You would think that would immediately endear me to Marshall, but I did not like him much. I don’t necessarily think it’s the character that I didn’t like, just that I was unable to click with the writing.

When I read a book that is so other, I need to have some sort of thread that connects me to the story, or at least brings me along for the ride. In Come Take Me, I was often confused. Things felt a little…blurry, for lack of a better word. I feel like the book was a little disorganized, especially at the beginning.

While the story idea was a clever one, I ultimately felt a little “meh” about this book. I think that says more about me than the book itself. I just didn’t click. It happens sometimes. I wish the author the best with Come Take Me , but I can’t say I would recommend it.

Mirror in Time by D. Ellis Overttun- Book Exerpt

Hi, everyone! I have a treat today: you don’t have to read my ramblings. Instead, I’ve got an exerpt from Mirror in Time, D. Ellis Overttun’s upcoming book. Enjoy!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a guest post excerpt. The world has changed, and I guess I have been caught up in it. It’s hard not to be deeply affected by a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, climate change and rising geopolitical tensions.

I’ve also just finished rereading A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright. Its basic premise is that progress itself leads to the fall of societies. For me, the most vivid example was the decimation of Easter Island. It used to be a paradise until the veneration of ancestors led to the felling of trees to move large stone blocks that were used to build the iconic moai that immediately identify this now‑barren location. I am paraphrasing Wright when he wrote that it must have occurred to the people cutting down the last tree that hey, there are no more trees. But they did it any way. Sound familiar?

Combine this with what’s going on in the world right now, and it should be the perfect environment for an author, like myself, to draw upon and ferment ideas, a primordial dystopian soup if you will. And it did. I have another series that I have been mulling over tentatively titled Reality AV that describes the challenges faced by a federation of planets. It will draw extensively on current world events, Wright’s ideas and an argument once presented by Abraham Lincoln that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Oh, right, the guest post…

Book 3 in the Terra Nova series, Prophecy: Eve of Darkness, came out earlier this year. I should have moved on to the final book in the series (working title, Exodus: Flight from Arkos) but another inspiration pushed it aside, and I knew I would have to address it before I could move on. Enter Mirror in Time. From the title, you can see it is about time travel. It is a stand‑alone that moves, not Dan Brown fast but fast enough. I have also curbed my indulgence for detail and have restrained my technical writing tendencies to make the science as accessible as possible.

Until the beginning of June, I was bopping along like I normally do. It takes me about a week to write the first draft for each paperback chapter (5 to 6 ebook chapters). I was about halfway through when a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity presented itself. How many of those come along? (Answer: By definition, only one.) Unfortunately, this detour was an every‑waking hour kind of endeavor that will span the next year or so at least. Unfortunately, I had no choice but to set Mirror aside. Even worse, I have also had to pull my wife, Natasha, away from social media promotion to help me on this project. Currently, I have only been able to squeeze dabs of writing here and there when I can find the time. Sadly, during the past 4 months, I’ve only managed to get to the three-quarter mark even though I have the plotline to the end.

Do you remember the Big Bang episode “The Closure Alternative”? Well, I have some obsessiveness in me just like Sheldon. It really bugs me that I haven’t finished Mirror.I thought, if I put something out there, it would “encourage” me to finish to avoid that haunting question that strikes fear into the hearts of all authors with unfinished works: “So, how is your novel coming along?”

@WS_BOOKCLUB to the rescue! I approached her with my problem, and she has graciously agreed to let me do a guest post of the ARC of the prologue. Many thanks!

* * * * *

An atmospheric vehicle made its way northward over a towering mountain range. The sun had just set. But, instead of a dome of stars, a random patchwork of contrails obscured many of the points of light. An odd‑looking meteor shower? No, this was something different. This phenomenon did not radiate from a particular point in the sky, and these “tails” were much larger and seemed to be permanent fixtures in the firmament. They were commonly known as “ribbons in the sky”.

The flight had been uneventful but then…

“Computer, identify sensor reading.”

“Six unidentified AVs.”

“Can we outrun them?”

“No.”

“Track AVs. Priority link to Jomo Langma Mountain Observatory. Display time to contact.”

“Tracking. Linked,” the computer replied as a digital countdown displayed to the upper‑left.

“Jomo, this is AV Sundog. Requesting assistance. Six AVs just appeared on sensors. Threat assessment hostile. Estimated time to contact five minutes.”

Sundog, this is Jomo. We see the same thing. Dispatching interceptors.”

“ETA?”

“Ten minutes.”

“Understood. Activating distress beacon, frequency gamma. Sundog out,” the pilot replied nervously. She then tapped on the intercom icon on her control panel. “Ma’am, please engage seat restraints. I am expecting some…turbulence.” A yellow light just to her left confirmed that her passenger had complied. “Computer, combat mode,” she said on a separate channel.

“Engaging combat mode, shields at maximum.”

A harness engaged to secure her shoulders and waist, and a holographic sphere appeared around her, giving her a 360‑degree view of the outside of the craft. The AV seemed to have disappeared. From her point of view, she was now a transparent orb in flight.

“Access topography. Indicate any areas suitable for landing,” she said as she made a rapid descent to a valley below.

Sundog made its way to a ledge and set down.

“Activate holographic camouflage.”

“Activated.”

While combat‑ready, the pilot was hoping to remain hidden until the arrival of the interceptors. And so, she waited in tense silence.

“Why have we landed?”

“Please maintain communication silence.”

“You dare order me about?!”

“I reiterate. Please maintain communication silence,” the pilot said firmly. “I will not ask again.”

At length, she felt a dull pressure on the top of her head. She swiveled her seat until its back was positioned horizontally. Above her, she could see six red dots. They had inexplicably altered course and were headed straight toward her location.

While it was inconceivable that she could be tracked, she was trained to never take anything for granted. “Magnify.”

The dots transformed into a squadron of combat AVs.

“They are closing fast,” she thought. “Computer, identify markings and transponder signals.”

“There are no markings. Transponder signals have been masked.”

“They are spoiling for a fight. Computer, designate hostiles one through six.”

A number superimposed on each AV.

“Activate targeting. Lock on to hostile three. Weapons hot.”

“Targeting activated. Locked. Weapons hot,” the computer replied as the images faded and were replaced by six red numbers.

“Estimated time to contact?”

“Ninety seconds.”

Her seat slowly moved as it tracked the lead AV of the approaching squadron. Then, six smaller red dots appeared followed by another six and another six.

“Shit!” She quickly tapped a number of icons on her console, and the AV abruptly jetted skyward. “Launch chaff!”

Six small missiles shot out from the rear of Sundog. All but one of the incoming projectiles spread out then quickly slowed to a stop as the remaining one accelerated toward the defensive swarm. Then, there was an explosion, and the attacking missiles resumed course, quickly closing the distance.

“Shit! Proximity detonation. Computer, launch remaining chaff. Form rear defensive barrier.”

The sensors indicated another six small red dots had emerged from the squadron as a cloud of chaff formed a bowl‑shaped shield protecting Sundog’s six.

“Guess I am not the only one who dislikes Godvina. Well, at least now, I have an excuse,” she said to herself with a smile. She started executing a series of aviation maneuvers.

“Is this…your idea…of turbulence!” Godvina screamed as her words were punctuated with the sounds of retching and vomiting.

“Sorry, Ma’am, please remain calm.”

Behind them, small explosions erupted as individual components of the protective shield disengaged to neutralize an incoming missile. Suddenly, four green dots appeared in close proximity to the attacking squadron. Then, four red dots disappeared from sensors indicating downed AVs.

Sundog, this is Escort 1. Bogeys are bugging out!”

“Is that you, Avenger?!”

“Who else, Wind Goddess?!”

“And I suppose Golden Boy is with you?!”

Escort 2 at your service!”

“We are life‑takers…” Avenger exclaimed.

“…and Gendu breakers!” Golden Boy chimed in.

“WAHOO!” they shouted.

“We are closing in on your position,” Avenger said.

On her screen, two green dots broke away from the dogfight.

“Not chasing?”

“We would love to,” Golden Boy replied, “but we have our orders. We are supposed to protect…”

“Who, me?”

“Affirm!” the escorts replied.

“Take your time. I got this one. I need some target practice.”

“Are you sure? What about your passenger?”

“Not a problem. I already told her to expect ‘turbulence’,” Wind Goddess said as roars of laughter erupted in response.

“Ok, we will sit back and watch,” Golden Boy replied.

Wind Goddess turned to face the rear. “Computer, I count…nine incoming. Confirm.”

“Confirmed.”

“Execute full reverse.”

Over the next several minutes, each small red dot disappeared from sensors. A short time later, the interceptors arrived and escorted AV Sundog to its terminus.

The summit of Jomo Langma Mountain was a series of closely packed mesas that were ideal locations for structures. “Jomo” as it was commonly referred to was perched atop its namesake. There were two observatories located at either end of a long I-shaped building that acted as a connecting corridor between two telescopes. Rooms off the corridors housed administrative offices, an infirmary, main dining hall, pantries and food storage, a digital library, simgrid and maintenance facility. Staff quarters and a small recreation area were located in a second building on a lower mesa. In addition to high altitude, it was located north of the Northern Polar Circle giving it at least 100 days of total darkness and 100 days of total daylight. It was the premier place on the planet to study stellar as well as solar phenomena.

“Jomo, this is AV Sundog. Requesting clearance to land. Transmitting authorization.”

AV Sundog, this is Jomo. Authorization received and confirmed. You are cleared to land. Details have been transmitted.”

“Jomo, receipt of landing instructions confirmed. AV Sundog out.”

The Observatory had been exempted from the standard security required for all military and civilian aeronautical installations. But recent events required a strict interpretation of the regulation. Each mesa was now surrounded by an energy dome, an ionized field that extended above a perimeter fence. The control tower identified all approaching craft by their transponder signal. However, in addition, an authorization code was required. Once confirmed, an opening was created in the dome and instructions sent from the control tower to the incoming craft’s onboard computer specifying the approach vector and velocity required to land.

AV Sundog approached and hovered above and a short distance from a landing pad before slowly descending to the tarmac.

“Ma’am, we have arrived at the Jomo Langma Mountain Observatory. You may disengage seat restraints and debark. Please make sure you take all your personal belongings. It was a pleasure to have you on board today. I hope your sojourn here is a pleasant one.” She disengaged her own seat restraints then made her way to the rear to exit the AV. Upon opening the door from the flight deck, she was hit with an unmistakable, acidic, pungent odor. It was something that she had not experienced for a long time, not personally but from comrades who had had too much to drink.

Godvina lay unconscious in her seat restraints. Her clothing and various parts of the cabin were daubed with this disgusting concoction.

“What have you done to my ship?!”

* * * * *

There is no better way to give a story pace than a dogfight. Remember Top Gun? But more than that, the descriptions are designed to give you an idea of the technology that is the backdrop to the story. Yes, this is sci‑fi. What happens as night falls hints at some sort of calamity. Dystopian right? Or at the very least an Armageddon‑like event.

Godvina’s journey to the Observatory suggests she is a scientist, one of sufficient import to warrant a military escort. Although, what kind of scientist needs that kind of protection? Is she in weapons development? The attack on her alludes to a time of conflict or impending conflict with the Gendu. (By the way, “gendu” is an ancient Eurasian word that means “male”.) Who are they, and who were the defenders in this opening volley?

Many thanks to Natasha for the gif to help you visualize the opening scene, a place called “Jomo Langma Mountain”. The name is a variant of the Tibetan name for Mount Everest. What better name for a high‑altitude location. However, the mountain she used was not Everest because she needed plateaus in the landscape to accommodate a research facility (not seen in this visual). She used the Checkerboard Mesa in Mount Zion Park, Utah.

As for my description of the Observatory, I based its design on the Lick Observatory on the summit of Mount Hamilton in California.

Series Overview:

Artist Q&A posted on Witty and Sacrastic Bookclub

Author Q&A posted on The Magic of Wor(l)ds

Author Q&A posted on On The Shelf Reviews

Author Q&A posted on The Book Hole

Author Q&A posted on From Belgium With Book Love

Friday Night Drinks posted on A Little Book Problem

Indie Spotlight – Terra Nova Series posted on beforewegoblog

Cover Makeover Genesis: Vision of the New World posted on On The Shelf Reviews

Cover Reveal Prophecy: Eve of Darkness posted on Witty and Sacrastic Bookclub   

Background to Universe: Awakening posted on Zooloo’s Book Diary

Themes in Genesis: Vision of the New World posted on The Book Hole

Themes in Prophecy: Eve of Darkness posted on The Bookwormery

For a deeper dive:

Universe:  Awakening 

Genesis:  Vision of the New World

Prophecy: Eve of Darkness 

Through My Wife, Natasha, on Twitter: @neoverttun

For the authors: thank you


I’ll start this post by saying the now overused phrase, it’s been a tough year. I kind of think that’s the unspoken assumption at this point: “I’m doing well” (considering it’s a tough year), or “It’s been a bad day” (in the middle of a tough year). The book community isn’t exempt from the “tough year” unfortunately. I could go into the nitty gritty, but smarter minds than mine have already done that. So, this one is for the authors: you are appreciated.

I know it must be a discouraging time for so many of you, either with news you might have received, or just with life in general. Being an author is not for the faint of heart. You do not have it easy. To take the words in your mind and share them with others requires a massive amount of bravery. It also requires being willing to relinquish a little bit of your vision, knowing that the reader will picture your characters differently in their mind than you do. That takes guts.

This year has been full of changes in schedules, jobs, and lifestyle. There has been worry, and there has been loss. I cannot tell you what a godsend it has been to be able to curl up with a book – either an old friend, or a new discovery – and leave it all behind for a bit. From familiar favorites such as Dragonlance and The Night Circus, to more recent favorites, like The Ventifact Colossus and The Devil and the Dark Water, these books have kept me calm(ish).

Authors, what you do is important. So, so important. You aren’t just writing words on a page. Rather, you are building an escape pod. Your words are reminding us that even though we’re all stuck in our homes bunker-style, we aren’t alone. Good still exists and so does hope, laughter, creativity, new worlds, and mystery.

So, THANK YOU. Thank you for all you do. Keep writing. We’ll keep reading.

With Love,

A Voracious Reader

Book Spotlight: 2120 by Aithal


Americans today face a toxic mix of COVID-19, a polarized political environment, a sometimes-violent racial upheaval, and climate-change induced natural disasters. And when you add severe constraints to man’s natural urges for exploring new lands and experiences, not to mention flights of fantasy into the future, we are truly in a downward inflection point of US history.  

2120 takes on all of America’s enormous challenges with aplomb, and offers a cohesive vision of the future that addresses the underlying causes of mega-issues ranging from human hubris towards our environment, to parochial interests driving US politics. 2120 makes the flights of fantasy into the future seem all too real, as the audience vicariously lives the future through vibrantly developed and thoroughly believable characters who humanize experiences despite owing their origins to other galaxies.  

Strap on your intellectual seat belts and plan for a binge read through “2120” as it prepares for the 2020 election season and humanity’s challenges in the upcoming decade.

This has been quite the year. Right now, in the U.S., the presidential election is almost upon us. What happens when 2020 meets the sci-fi genre? I have yet to read this book, but this looks like a fascinating and thought-provoking twist on a year fraught with upheaval. I’ve chatted a bit with author Aithal, and after I spoke with him about doing a book spotlight, he also asked me to pass along an important message: “None of us will be around in 2120…but it’s very crucial for the current generation to know how their decision can impact the future.”

About Aithal: I’m the author of four science fiction books. Well, I’d not really call them science fiction as I think it may disappoint science fiction fans if they are expecting hard-core books in that genre. It’s more of ‘political science fiction’. It’s a dystopian look at our future (environmentally) if we stay on our path. They involve space-travel and take a deep-dive into political psychology.

It’s a journey into space and back to future Earth that spans across these books.
 
To know more about his work, visit www.thegalaxyseries.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/thegalaxyseriesbooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorgalaxy
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thegalaxyseries/
 
YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9ZnpfnmfvY Featured on The David Pakman Show


The Audacity 2: Time Warp by Laura Loup

May’s career as an interstellar rocket racer is just ramping up. She’s got a stunning ship, her best friend Xan for a co-pilot, and a rocket-full of winnings.

But obscenely good luck can’t last forever, and May has been racing in a stolen ship. When Xan’s arrested by a tea-sipping, goddess-possessed pink robot for a crime he can’t bring himself to explain without baking analogies, May’s career is over.

With the help of an adventure biologist and her freshly un-dead girlfriend, May and Xan must find a way to change the past before the goddess of Chaos squashes everything May loves.

Fun, fast-paced, and surprisingly emotional, The Audacity: Sphere of Time is a Douglas Adams-esque celebration of weirdness in space.

For fans of… Futurama, Guardians of the Galaxy, Good Omens, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

As suggested in the title (the number ‘2’ should give it away), this is a sequel. You can find my review for the first book in the series, The Audacity linked below the review.

This is the book we need this year. 2020 has been…well, let’s move on to talking about the book, shall we? Brilliant and hilarious from page one, this was a fabulous continuation of the first book.

I was a little worried about whether The Audacity 2: Time Warp (which I am going to call just “Time Warp” from here on out) could live up to the first book. I shouldn’t have been concerned at all. The antics are just as funny, May is still a disaster magnet, and Xan is still…Xan.

This book would be funny with the oddity of the plot alone. Add in Laura Loup’s quippy, snarktastic writing, though, and this becomes a laugh a minute. There was never a dull moment, either in plot or prose.

May and Xan have the most wonderful friendship! I loved reading about them. There was something utterly genuine about their relationship which balanced out the utterly bizarre happenings in the book quite well. The entire cast of characters was fun, of course, but May and Xan’s relationship really shone.

Time Warp had a lot of heart and even more comedy. If you need a giggle-slash-aww, this series is for you.



Review for The Audacity: https://wittyandsarcasticbookclub.home.blog/2019/11/30/the-audacity-by-laura-loup/

Crossing in Time by DL Orton- The Write Reads Blog Tour

Crossing in TimeThe past isn’t over, it’s an opening. The future isn’t hidden, it’s a trap.
If she ever wants to see him again, she’ll have to take the risk…

Publishers Weekly Starred Review: “Funny, Romantic & Harrowing!”

When offered a one-way trip to the past, Iz sacrifices everything for a chance to change her dystopian future—and see her murdered lover one last time.After a perilous journey through a black hole, she wakes up on a tropical beach, buck naked and mortally wounded—but twenty years younger! With only hours to live, she must convince an enraptured but skeptical twenty-something guy to fix their future relationship and thereby save the planet (no one is quite sure why.)But it’s easier said than done, as success means losing him to a brainy, smart-mouthed bombshell (her younger self), and that’s a heartbreaker, save the world or not.

Across the infinite expanse of space and time, love endures…(Unfortunately, it’s not going to be enough.) Taken from Amazon

 

13506103 THE BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, D. L. ORTON, lives in the Rocky Mountains where she and her husband are raising three boys, a golden retriever, two Siberian cats, and an extremely long-lived Triops. In her spare time, she’s building a time machine so that someone can go back and do the laundry.