J.L. Dobias is a Science Fiction and Fantasy Author and the author of the Cripple-Mode series. He lives in Michigan in the USA and has spent most of his time in the Great Lake State.
When he first learned to read, his father introduced him and his siblings to Science Fiction. In a short time he became an avid reader of Science Fiction and has spent over 50 years enjoying some of the best.
Having worked in the Hotel, Restaurant, and Retail management while paying for college to obtain a degree in English, he was promptly hijacked for some time into Hotel Restaurant Management. He eventually landed for a short time at MSU as Engineering support and the head of the electronic drafting and documentation department of the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. He now works as Lead CAD Engineer and Technical and Engineering Support for Instrumented Sensor Technology; an impact data recorder instrument maker; supplying needs of a variety of industries including the shipping industry, race cars, accident reconstruction, aerospace, amusement parks and many more.
He spends his free time honing his writing skills and continuing to read at least one novel a week in his favorite genre.
CRIPPLE-MODE: HOT ELECTRIC is the first of a planned series.
Cripple-Mode: Electric Touche (Book Two)
by J.L. Dobias
Someone expects Travis to do their dirty work and won't take no for an answer.Parasitic children of the JumpSpace Entities are the root of her problems and she'd love to be rid of them;but there's a fine line between them and what makes her what she is. Everyone thinks they own her, so she must question what constitutes sentience and sapience and if a being who is both should be owned by anyone.
Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric
by J.L. Dobias
(4.67 from 3 reviews)
Travis Lucia Hamilton-McQueen just back from near death and not keen on revisiting: wants her life back. Granddaughter of a murderer; daughter of a convict; suspected terrorist. No: not that life. A soulless clone amnesiac with a Dissociative fugue identity; consigned to convalesce on Medical Space Station Perl: is bad enough. Mix in a rogue General and some assassins and life becomes interesting.
Once Upon Another World
on July 06, 2012
Shiva Winters Once Upon Another World
The title and the cover almost had me thinking 'fairy tale'.
Once I dove in feet first it was more like Zelazny's Amber series and Farmers Tier series rolled together and given a special Shiva Winters touch. Raven Sinclar is a powerful character well matched by his counterpart LeShana, who is not only lovely but also as powerful and kick-ass as Raven.
Suffice it to say, I loved this book, and there is only one reason I give it 4 stars instead of five. There are so many errors in spelling, grammar, and questionable usage of some words and missing words- sometimes extra words that just don't belong there. I can live with some of this in dialogue- no one speaks perfectly all the time. But it leaks heavily into the narrative portion and that gets me to believing that maybe those characters don't really speak that way either. This book is offered free, but as a representative of self publishing it could have used a bit of polish. (Another couple of pairs of eyes.)A number of people I know might toss this book down after the first 50 pages and that's their loss.
One thing I disagree with other people about is that an editor could have pared it down some. I'm not a fan of muting the authors voice. An edit will help the spelling grammar and other but the author's work should stand unless the author decides some portions might not be necessary or should be reworked. I did not see anything that just jumped out at me and said I don't belong here.
As it stands Once Upon Another World is a well packed novel with a fairly tight plot that has plenty of twists to keep the reader guessing. It also demonstrates some skill in world making that Shiva should be proud of. She has a writing style that I was comfortable with, though I'll need to read more of her work to see if the style changes as she becomes more polished.
If this book ever goes to paper print copy I would suggest a strong look at some editing and a signed copy for me.
Bravo! For an awesome first novel.
J.L. Dobias Author of Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric
Of Forgotten Days and Lost Worlds
on July 11, 2012
hiva Winters - Of Forgotten Days and Lost World - continues to weave the magic of the Salak'Patan series.
The story picks up after the life changing and somewhat life shattering first book with Monorth out in the field trying to continue the work of rebuilding the Salak'Patan. As his reward he is subjected to backstabbing and treachery until he has no choice but to retire from that, which he has been so driven to complete.
So begins the wandering through the halls and out to the very Rim of the Empire. His ever strange sometimes dysfunctional family growing around him and their support for him also growing. Out on the Rim his destiny brings him to Phoenix or Nix as he calls himself. And I was almost fooled into thinking this was going to be another man with ultra intelligent cat stories of which many abound.
In a way it is. But the rich detail of the story- often confuse as Purple Prose- yet in fact it is Purple Patch. And for those who don't know- there is a difference. Purple prose detracts and takes from the story. Purple Patch enhances it with its poetic beauty. The consistent depth of the characters that walk through this story - though sometimes it seems they can do no wrong - are all painted with their own quirks that give this story it excitement and adventure and romance.
I've already warned those who are distracted by the occasional misspellings and grammatical errors so this time I'm going to rate the book on what it did for me.
It gave me a pleasant exciting good read filled with a patchwork of poetic beautiful worlds, characters and ideas. Getting us ready for the next great book.
I won't recommend this for everyone- but, then some of you are going to miss some really good stuff.
Keep them coming Shiva.
At the Gates of the Worlds' Rim
on Aug. 03, 2012
At the Gates of the World's Rim by Shiva Winters.
What I like about Shiva is that not only is there no end to her imaginings but each book gets much better. This is not one of those series where the second book is less than the first and the third is having trouble getting up to par. No. She makes each one better than the previous and they read quite well so that you might shuffle them up while reading and not get too confused.
This installment begins to add to the already large dynamic family of Monorth. He and his sister now share a daughter through her partner. This is no ordinary young girl, its Monorth's offspring after all. We'll be seeing a lot more of her.
Monorth's name basis relationship with the gods is growing as the gods seem to be drawn into his life as though he's some sort of spiritual lightning rod. Nix and Monorth are getting into the serious business of visiting and mapping out the gates to all the worlds beyond the rim.
Monorth is still an outcast from the Salak'Patan so he's playing it all close to the vest but he's collecting such a vast library of knowledge that it's becoming evident that he shouldn't keep it to himself. He is going to have a tough time trusting others to handle it all .
Nix and his fire cats are beginning to also grow their family and as they start expanding out into more preserves he and Monorth soon discover there are other being such as the fire cats who seem to represent each of the godly elements. Monorth also seem to be collecting a number of the 7 legendary swords of the gods.
It's all leading up to a major turn of events.
If you like Science Fiction, Fantasy, steam-punk, furry stories, Sword and sorcery, and even a few fire breathing dragons. (to say nothing of the cats). These novels are for you and it would be a shame to let a few spelling errors spoil the best read of the year.
J.L. Dobias author of Cripple-Mode: Hot Electric
The Foretelling: Quest of the Auras
on March 07, 2013
The Foretelling by Jessica Acosta
I acquired this e-book free from amazon and I can emphatically say that it was a delightful surprised wrapped in the fresh voice of a new talent.
Let me first warn that this book is best enjoyed on a kindle or in a kindle for PC app and not quite so friendly in the Chrome-book app that they have for it. I was test driving the chrome at the time and endured the jagged right margin with no indents and no spaces between paragraphs and there was often some confusion about where paragraphs ended. I checked later on my other two appliances and found it to be an affectation of the poorly written kindle program for the chrome. Let me also say that this should in no way reflect poorly on the author- in fact- it says a lot that I couldn't put this book down even with those problems on the chrome.
This is a sort of coming of age story. Jamie and her brother Brandon have recently left home and are trying to find their nitch in life. Brandon has his band and his band buddies, Jamie is not so fortunate as she only has the band by association. She's well organized but not yet focused on what she wants to do. So she helps out where she can with all the guys in the band and she is falling for one of them. Kyle is someone that she and her brother have known for a long time and she's becoming certain that she'd be comfortable with more than that as long as it doesn't mess with current friendships.
This story is a lot more than that though.
It's a story of changes and coming to understand ones own potential. It's a story of love, heart break, betrayal and growth. It's also a story of strange creatures and mystery.
It starts out a bit slow, but that won't put you off. It's a slowly peculating mystery where Jessica keeps the reader wondering just what's happening.
Brandon and Jamie start the story on a camping trip in the desert that goes just a bit awry when they wander into a deep cave where they both are injured and attacked by an unseen and deadly creature. Strange things begin to happen to them and it's only at about one third the way into the story that we discover a bit of what is going on. Trust me you won't want to put it down at least until you find out what that is.
Then when you do, you'll have to finish it because things get really interesting.
One of the amazing things about The Foretelling is how well the characters are portrayed. Not only did I easily identify with Jamie and Brandon and immediately feel a connection, but even some of the less likeable characters are still endearing enough to care about.
The story is a well woven and nicely paced tale that takes you from beginning to end and leaves you wanting to pick up the next book as soon as possible to find out what is going to happen.
Anyone who likes Anne McCaffery's Dragon stories will love this tale. I love mostly science fiction but the explanation and detail along with great narrative style were enough to keep me happy throughout.
I really can't express how much I love the world you're building here Jessica.
Shadow of the Sun
on May 05, 2013
Shadow of the Sun(Book One of the Timeless Series) by Laura Kreitzer
Let me say that I loved-hated this book at the very beginning. As I got past that I could hardly put it down.
For some reason the whole beginning sort of read like a paranormal Dragnet episode. Dialogue mostly devoid of emotions. It went on for about the first 15% of the book. It was at about chapter seven that things finally took off. ( I was either growing used to the character- some explanations were now forthcoming that explained her- or it was just time to take that left turn into the supper highway of who Gabriella Noelle Moretti really is.
Gabriella of course is adopted which puts her into a common situation these days in fiction. She's also lost memory of her early years in life. At least the first five- which didn't seem too remarkable to me since I don't remember much of my first five years. But Gabriella is a rather gifted young lady who started college classes at age 12. Needless-to say-this is a fair explanation for why she might be just a bit different from many other people. Her intellect capacity is high but she's rather immature and has always been misplaced from her age group so that she's always the fish out of water wherever she's been. So, though she copes well enough to do well in her studies and that has lead to being the authority in Supernatural Specialist, she would agree that it hasn't helped her to develop much of an endearing personality.
The story opens with Gabriella being rather snarky to her equally snarky assistant, Sally. Apparently Gabriella's immature character has not learned the value of having an assistant to the point that she mostly takes advantage of Sally while giving her annoying things to do. Although the sense is that she does this to Sally a lot-as if Sally deserves it-at the moment it is in part that Gabriella has too much on her mind and has not had enough sleep. At age 19 Gabriella had fallen into this job with the paranormal as supernatural specialist for the Zelco Corp. She now is 25 but with perhaps the social skills of a 15 year old. And the reason she took this job seems to be somewhat suspect.
Her adoptive sister,Jenna, sums it up. Gabriella is hoping this job will help her find her parents.And, solve the mystery of why they left her when she was so young. Of course Jenna thinks Gabriella is nuts and that her job was not going to help her do any of the things she hopes.
Up until this day its been a pretty mundane job, with occasional moments of excitement when the FBI shows up and drags away what little they do find that is inexplicable. This time she's received three corpses from a dig in Italy, which don't seem to match what she should have been sent. The corpses were supposed to be hundreds of years old or more; where they looked to be newly dead within days and they don't match the photo of what she was sent.
This has spooked her and one would start to get the feeling she wasn't cut out for this job. She next receives a package with a box that contains two items that look like relics but turn out to be keys. When she starts to open the box she's attacked by a dark entity with fiery eyes, who warns her not to awaken the angels.
The FBI show up to take this away and they make an unusual offer- they want Gabriella to go with them. One agent, Jeff, acts a bit strange about Gabriella touching the evidence, while a second agent, Karen, comes to Gabriella's defense. Eventually Karen reveals to Gabriella that these three corpses are the bodies of angels. Karen is also an angel-Gabriella's Guardian.
On the trip to Washington DC with the corps and Sally and the FBI; the pilots inexplicably take the plane into a storm where there's a lightning strike upon the craft and it crashes. This should have killed everyone but the Angels have wakened-We later discover it is because Gabriella was in danger that they awakened.
The angels in this story are not your typical christian angels. They are not particularly even remotely related to the fallen angels. They are more like the Hollywood-ized angels made from humans who were once mortal and now can bleed golden blood and cry golden tears. They do fight beings of darkness who seem to be of the shadow of the sun.
In a nutshell it turns out that Gabriella is the Darkness Illuminator- the fulfillment of a prophesy; and that these angels are here to guard her.
This sounds like more than enough to drive the plot of this story but there is much more which is both exciting and a bit daunting. Yes there are spelling errors and some grammar points, though mostly points of rule and not of law so, those are minor. I think that it's this extra more stuff that causes many people to become confused and it took me a while to sort out a few problems.
One entire plot point is about the prophesy and how it has been altered by someone to hide the truth.
Another plot point is that these angels-who are somewhat magical- have the capability of having their memories tampered with through magic and that has happened to a large degree.
So, whenever a character spouts on about the prophesy it is unreliable information. The problem with this is that as this unfolds it often seems like we are getting redundant information and that the consistency of the story is all messed up. In fact, the consistency is okay and the reason for the redundancy is to highlight the discrepancies in various character's understanding of past events and the prophesy. This shifting plot line is a difficult and dangerous task to put to some reader's minds.
There are elements of massive confusion when Gabriella starts having dreams created by someone else memories and those memories include the death of angels who are walking around.
It might even become annoying to some people that certain characters can be killed and come back.
There is more to the story though and some of these speed bumps are smoothed out while some go unexplained. Thankfully there are more books and hopefully that means those things will be explained later.
Not so thankfully this appears to be one of those series that goes on for quite a while and it takes a great amount of talent to extend a readers interest beyond a trilogy. So, we'll have to read some more to find out how well Laura does with that.
Carefully peeking ahead I've been unable to ascertain that there will be resolution of all major plot points in the next two books.
I'm a fan of series, but I can see that Laura had a lot to say in this book and that there may be a lot more coming, which may indicate that it may take all of those volumes of books to get all plot points resolved.
This is a great story for lovers of Paranormal Romance and Apocryphal Angels (not to be confused with a pocketful of angels).
The Warden Threat
on Aug. 13, 2013
The Warden Threat(Defying Fate) by D.L. Morrese
I don't judge a book by its cover and rarely by the little blurb on the back or some times an inner page, which is thankfully a good thing because the cover of this book wasn't helpful for me, although it does somewhat serve to show elements from the story. It just that the dark figure in the background would have to be ten times or more larger to be accurate.
I really enjoyed this book for what it was, which is why I'm a bit disappointed that it really doesn't live up to what it's billed as since it's cover proclaims Book One of the Humorous Science Fiction Epic. First I have to admit that humor can be subjective and I might just be too thick for the humor in this book. But at the point that this book leaves us it can't be billed as well as science fiction as it can as being a fantasy. The science fiction part of this story is there- like some extra appendage that intersects because of a sort of six degree of separation from the main characters in the story. I'm sure as the series progresses that will improve, sadly my skewed sense of humor might not be able to help that other half of the bill.
Again this is not saying I didn't enjoy it, just that it wasn't what I expected. There are plenty of novels out there that deal with magic that ends up being a side effect of some technology that exceeds the imaginative scope of most of the fantasized characters. This one is not unusual in that respect. There are also equal numbers of books that have dystopic themes that blast mankind back into the dark ages into a fantasy world that remembers the magic of technology so this is also nothing extra ordinary or out the norm so to speak. Some of these have actually demonstrated some tongue and cheekiness to entertain.
What drives these types of stories is the characters and I think they do a good job though I had some issues with the consistency of a few characters. None of these were enough to overshadow the entire work. I believe the humor in the story is supposed to be satirical. And the very first chapter sets a pace that might come to rival some not so recent movies I have seen. That pace doesn't sustain itself well though and I'm not sure exactly why. We start with Prince Donald out among the common folk to get a feel for how the other half live. With him is his trusted adviser/guide Kwestor whom Donald has hired although at the beginning for some reason this wasn't quite that clear to me. Donald is a dreamer, Kwestor is his foil or perhaps the realist. I almost obtained an image of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza , although I was hard pressed to make that image stick. In the onset they run across Muce the notso (There's a whole thrill of waiting for the punchline to this that never quite gets there.) They meet through a comedy of errors which set a high bar that they never reach again. I often had this tickle that reminded me of some of Swifts writing, in particular Gulliver's Travels but perhaps without the proper era and history to point to I couldn't get the real feel.
The story revolves around the heads of the three characters most of the time but there are occasions when were reeled around into the head of some of the supporting cast and I think possibly these are some of the expected humorous parts. Perhaps its the long bits of tell that fall into this area that leave it a bit flat. One particular telling instance is when Muce is confronted by a fortuneteller who takes advantage of him. We can see what is happening easily from Muce's point of view, but for some reason we end up in the woman's head getting all of her 'intell' on the subject and perhaps that's what made the humor fall flat for me. It doesn't look like tell as much as some exposition but what happens is we get into a characters head and begin to get a description from their thoughts that helps us understand their motivation which perhaps tries to explain why we should see the humor. I've no problem with telling but those who are sensitive should realize that it's here even when disguised as something else. I've personally always thought, when telling a story there will be times you will have to, well, tell, which is why I don't downgrade stars for telling.
What's more important here is the development of the characters and the interaction between them. There is a whole bit that goes on about Muce and food that we really never have totally explained or told to us, one of those instances of showing. But the real nub of the problem falls flat because the other characters always cut him short at the beginning so we rarely get a true picture of what he's capable of doing that annoys them so much. I for one would mostly be getting hungry every time he started into some story about food.
The pace of the story is pretty steady and kept me going most of the way to the middle but something happened there where I fell out of the magic and I think it might be this:
Donald and company run afoul- well at least Donald does- of a messenger who is left unnamed until later where we learn she is Trixie. The messenger almost confronts the prince for his clumsiness but is dissuaded by companions whom Kwestor recognizes as being from the kings court. She's important to the story- I'm sure future volumes will tell us this. Yet she is mostly an appendage here who meets the mysterious storyteller, Grandpa Nash, who defies Trixie's attempts at categorizing his ethnicity. This will lead to the eventual reveal that shows us that this is truly a science fiction novel. Unfortunately this part never intersects with our heroes and remains yet a mystery that we might not have needed just yet ( Except to try to turn this into science fiction). As it is I found Trixie somewhat engaging and her story at this point was more interesting than our three travelers. So, I think I was more anxious to see more of her story than the rest of Donald and company.
This now becomes two stories; the story of Trixie and Grandpa Nash and the story of Donald, Kwestor and Muce.
The rest of the story for Donald and company seemed mostly predictable yet necessary to develop Donald and demonstrate that neither Kwestor or Muce seem to be as they seem to be. If one can excuse my use of passivity here. It all seems like a cautionary fable. It is quite interesting that Kwestor comes off as a sort of Jekyll Hyde or at least dual personality. One the acerbic skeptic who has no delight in life and is not afraid to inflict his mood upon the prince who seems too chipper most of the time. The other is almost a wise sophist thinker who can't seem to get the other personality to live life the way he sees things.Even though Kwestor's skeptic side seems the loser its more so for the sophist side that feels the the pain that he's found himself unable to convince his other half. Muse seems to be a dullard and brute at time but seems also to possess more than the average intellect when one can wade through his culinary inspired dialogue. He's always coming up with some gems I'm hoping will come up later but, not so far.
This is a great book for fantasy lovers and some sci-fi fans not so much for Science Fictionados- maybe the next book. I can't recommend it as a humorous volume where it seemed there were more serious tones than satirical ones. Perhaps the names of characters were supposed to help push the satire, I'm just not certain. If there is satire here its mired down in a thick morass of molasses and honey, which mired my senses. Maybe the discerning reader will trudge through it all better off than I.
It's a thoroughly entertaining book without the need to laugh myself silly and I'll be looking to the next volume with the hope that these two stories are truly going to meet.
The Shifting Tides of History
on Sep. 17, 2013
The Shifting Tides of History by Shiva Winters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Shifting Tides of History(Book 5 of the Salak'patan Series) by Shiva WintersI love this series.I enjoyed the MageWorld series of Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald; so it's easy to see, with all the magic creatures and magic land with magic crystals and magen objects, that I might really enjoy this book because it's peopled with characters that I found to be much more interesting than those in the above mentioned series. I also have mentioned my love for both the Amber Universe of Roger Zelazny and the World of Tier Universe of Philip Jose Farmer, so its just as easy to connect these books because they are peopled with characters that all start out the same way, in a normal life on a normal earth like planet only to find that they are something more than normal and to discover they not only have a history in the strange new land, but they have family there.One wide difference is that in the Tier and Amber universe the family were almost as deadly to each other as they were to anyone else, and though that might hold true in theory with the Salak'patan series, there is less deadly squabbling among the family members than the Tier and Amber families, or at least I should qualify that it seems that way to me. There is still squabbling.Monorth the (most) main character (there are too many outstanding characters in this book to name them all) of this series starts in humble beginnings on an earth that looks much like the one we have here. Just as with the Tier and Amber series the hero starts with another name, Raven Sinclair, but unlike those series this might be considered his real name and the name of Monorth is a special name he takes as his public identity. There are a few other differences in the beginning, mostly in that there are a group of people with special abilities, on his earth, who are being abused by the government-slash-military and Monorth is attempting to keep those people free and safe and nicely hidden from those potentially evils agencies. It's while protecting them that Monorth encounters people from the realm of Salak'patan and the Center and through this meeting he is inducted into the group to begin training and it's a considerable amount of time before he discovers that he has actually gotten his family roots from this place. All this is in the first book of this series and if you haven't read it you should, although you won't need to read it or the many that are in between in order to understand what is going on because it is all presented here in a most fantastic and entertaining way.That brings me to a major difference in these stories from the three comparisons I have made, Shiva's style of writing: it's rightly so that this should be; and for me it has made her stand out not only from these three but from many others. Shiva has mastered a style that I found so endearing in Charles Dickens writing, the long sentence. Now anyone can write long sentences, but for many of us it might begin to sound forced and inept, to the point of creating run-on sentences, because it takes a specific talent to craft these things in such a way that they contain the one continuous thought from front to end and perhaps carry the reader with a tide that sweeps them through a pile of useful information, which makes this style an important tool for this book; because Shiva brings us up to date and offers back-story and character development while the action is taking place and this style helps her do it all at once in a coherent and entertaining manner, which is something not everyone can pull off that easily. Now as to sorting through and finding how many or few qualify as run-on as opposed to long sentences is another matter and it would seem an exhausting and useless task to take on since Shiva chose this as her style of writing and we should just enjoy it.This story takes up with the search for Monorth who is lost in time for reasons that are explained eventually within this story but also show up in a previous book, so if you go back to the beginning and read them all you will already know this though it's not vital to this story because much of the past is explained within the heads of the characters as the narrative gives the new readers a feel for each character and their own thoughts and motivations while the action of the present is taking place. This is a form of exposition at its best. It entertains, keeps the story running, keeps the reader informed and makes this book a complete book within itself that doesn't have to rely on what the reader knows about the rest of the series. That means it contains a lot of spoiler for new readers and I really suggest that if you enjoy this you will love the rest of the books and should read them all.As always with Shiva and her world building and her style of writing we obtain a rich picture not only of the worlds the characters visit and the people they meet, but the very magic that drives the action of the story. Shiva mentions that to do this book, number five, and the next one five point five she had to traverse a dark place that she wasn't happy about treading through. If this is so, then I will expect it is in the five point five book as this one does not strike me as all that dark.One word of caution to those who are pernickety. If you are one who tends to bleed when encountering grammar problems, missing words, extra words, and I hate to say incorrect or missuse because this is creative writing maybe we should call it creative use of words, I will warn you that they do happen here as they do in other of Shiva's writing. I do not grade my stars on that unless they get too annoying.There is no way that Shiva's writing is going to annoy me. (I only wish I could say the same about my writing annoying her... but Alas ... C'est la vie.)If you like SFF, Romance, Time Travel and epic tales this one has it allJ.L. Dobias
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The Tangled Path of Destiny
on Oct. 01, 2013
The Tangled Path of Destiny by Shiva Winters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Tangled Path of Destiny by Shiva Winters
Wow! What more can I say except wow?
I have to admit that I might be the exception to the rule when it comes to this book. I did not expect or demand this much detail of what is going on with Monorth simply because I'd been enjoying the rest of the story. Also Book 5 will pretty much bring everyone up to date making this book extra bonus material. I would not go so far as to say that I didn't appreciate this book because it's an awesome addition.
Shiva describes this as dark and depressing and that is something I didn't so much notice, maybe a bad reflection on some of the things I've read recently. I would classify it as mostly gray and qualify that it seemed reasonable to assume that Monorth would venture into some gray areas in this story. This is a time travel story with the time traveler bent on letting the past take its course. Monorth is trapped in time but is certain it is not meant for him to change time. That doesn't mean that he wont try to hurry things along when they seem like they will drag out too long. That's how he gets into the gray area. I am not a real fan of bloody battle so this book was good in sparing me from too much of that.One of the big bonuses in this book is the development of the Jynx character and that alone makes this one worth reading. But despite anything Shiva might say in her blurb at the end; this story is epic and packed with quite a bit of action. I'm not sure how anyone who has enjoyed the other books in this series could be dissatisfied with this book. Of course there are always a few out there that will have to be dealt with.
The actual building of the world through the war time in this story brings me close to a place where I might compare this with The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. Keep in mind I read that in late 60's early 70's timeline and never really felt the urge to grab it up and read it again so my memory of the whole thing might be a bit fuzzy. It is still sitting there in all three volumes from a 1965 and 1966 edition that each contain a foldout map in the back that are still there untouched and never looked at. The whole set is on my bookcase waiting for me to read it again.
While Jynx often reminds me of the AI characters that Heinlein created, Monorth reminds me of Heinlein's Lazarus Long in the later years. But Monorth is also an intriguing brooding character that also often reminds me of the Count of Monte Cristo of Alexandre Dumas. When Edmond Dante takes up the fictitious identity of the Count, bent on revenge and any cost and then must face the personal consequences as extracts his own form of justice. Only in this story Monorth is taking on the identity not so much to exact revenge as it is to become more closely tied to the events of consequence during the beginning of the war. It's interesting to watch his internal struggle with several issues and finally having to reach to the depths of his own darkness to help move things along in the direction he'd much prefer not to take things if it weren't for the fact that these things must take place to save the future.
Shiva really shines in this one and I think that it's because it was such a struggle as she posits in the back of both books 5 and 5.5. The idea of being under the gun to write the portions she was trying to suppress within her head seems to have enhanced her usual talents. ( I should probably call them unusual talents.)
Even though I was not one to demand this book I will have to emphatically state that if you read the series and you enjoy all the other books then you must read this one.
This is Shiva at her best in character development and this was actually something that Monorth needed to go through since way back when he lost his first bonded mate.
Great SFF for all fantasy fans and lovers of epic fiction.Not so much again for those who are totally annoyed by random grammatical problems.
Well worth the trouble for any of those that are brave enough to try.
Lunara: The Original Trilogy
on Oct. 07, 2013
Seth and Chloe by Wyatt Davenport
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Lunara:Seth and Chloe by Wyatt DavenportI really enjoyed this story for the depth of the characters. There's the science and it's important but to me it was more a backdrop to develop the characters around rather than an important piece that needed in depth discovery. It sustained itself and seemed quite plausible along with the politics of the planets. In some way the politics outweighs the science. This might be considered more of a Sci-fi political thriller than a Sci-Fi space science trilogy. There are more than three stories in this universe but it is safe to call the first three books a complete trilogy. This is important because I have a friend and fellow reader who once lamented over these series that seem to go on and on with no true resolution of the plot lines while continually adding more unresolved issues and how that caused them to give up on one series after the forth or fifth book when it seemed there might be no end in store and no clear explanation of primary events. I think this is a valid complaint and I see that this trilogy holds well within itself to be satisfactory.
I first purchased the whole trilogy elsewhere and let it sit for quite a while when I was busy doing other things. I'm not sorry I let it lie although I am glad I chose to take this break to start reading it. Politically this story has three main players. Lunara (the colony on moon) has been setup to protect the remnant of Earth 200 years after Earth has nearly been destroyed by asteroid showers. Using the Black Widow network(one million satellite links from mars to earth) Lunara colony and the ship Protector and the smaller Starwings catch and destroy the asteroids. Their initially primary functions is to save the earth but now that they've found valuable ore within these deadly asteroids they've become a mining colony that fractures any asteroid that approaches Earth and they then collect the deposits of Metalor from those fragments all for the Martian government. That government consists of the Zephyria and Aethpis colonies acting as checks and balances on each other and they are the government born out of the Revolutionary war in which the notorious raiders were destroyed.
Chloe and Seth come from a long dead colony that was destroyed by the raiders and they are both traumatized by that destruction and the subsequent hardships they faced before escaping to Lunara where they were adopted by Jan and Ty Falloom, the couple in charge of the the Lunara colony. Everyone on Lunara have escaped Mars for some reason or another and Seth has a dream that some day the Earth will become habitable again while he has no desire to return to Mars.
This story is peopled by a huge cast and it primarily revolves around a handful on Lunara with another handful that are crew aboard the Protector and a handful for each of the two ruling colonies. Eventually we'll get some from the other colonies but the majority in the first book are limited to those four handfuls. Now if someone were to take anything away from Stephen Kings book on writing and his own experience it might be that when the author creates too many interesting characters there is only one sure way to make it all work. This is a spoiler of a sort...it reaches a point where you have to start killing a lot of them off.
But not before we find many of them trapped in convoluted personal crisis that draw many of them apart with all the intrigue and betrayal and even self examination. Everyone of the crew of Protector (Seth Smith,Chloe Jones, Parker McCloud, Eamonn Dalton, Gwen Arwell and Gordon Roche) have issues but the worse seem to be with Seth and Gwen. Seth because they are heading to Mars and he hates Mars for many good reasons. Gwen because her father Damon Arwell is a part of the government that everyone aboard the Protector seem to hate.
When they reach Mars they are welcomed with mixed feeling because some unknown force has invaded the Lunara Colony and taken over. At first no one seems to know who it is and everyone is suspicious of everyone including the crew of Protector. As things begin to become less clear and more murky it's evident that there is some political posturing going on among all the powers that be and Lunara might be a bargaining chip. But what this story is ultimately about is the fact that Seth and Chloe have special powers through some supposed mutation and someone has a eugenic goal of creating the master race of humans. Metalor the ore being harvested by Lunara plays a great part in all of this but it's still in the end just another piece of the eugenic puzzle.
While the crew of Protector split into three groups and begin their own search for the truth they don't realize they are cutting themselves off from each other and that each will only have a part of the puzzle at the end. It's this separation that leads to the outcome and proves the undoing of almost everything that led to the founding of the Principles of Man that have governed them since the end of the Revolution.
While everyone drifts in their own direction while fighting their own demons they unravel the tight crew that previously existed and it will take a lot of effort for them to eventually come to the plate and demonstrate their abilities and loyalties that will position everyone where they need to be to carry this into the next book.
This is a good set of books for Science Fiction fans and SFF fans and even those who like the political thrillers. There are plenty of themes to go around and lots of tense situations. This can be a hard to put down read so it might be best to get the books individually rather than in the bundle especially as they are in the E-book. Some people might want to just keep reading and it's pretty long.
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The Sixth Discipline
on Oct. 24, 2013
The Sixth Discipline by Carmen Webster Buxton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Sixth Discipline (Haven) by Carmen Webster Buxton
I really liked this story and found myself immersed from the first page and onward.
The Sixth Discipline is yet one more of those kidnapped novels that seem so popular out there. What makes this one different for me was the way it grabbed my interest from the start and kept it. It was not the intense action and a massive seat of the pants type of hook that every other author seems to think the reader needs. It was more a subtle gentle drawing into the mystery that surrounds the story. It kept me reading it almost straight through.(I did have to stop to sleep and then go to work.)
The story starts with Ran-Del a simple hunter of the Sansoussy people of the Falling Water Clan. Only we quickly find that there is nothing simple about the Sansoussy people. Right away we are acquainted with the Disciplines as Ran-Del uses them to calm himself after being shot with some sort of paralyzing agent. The people who capture him are from the city and seem to know a lot about his people. Once they realize their massive dose has failed to render him unconscious (via the disciplines) they give him something more to make him collapse into darkness.
I found that even though the excitement in most of the scenes seemed a bit muted when compared with many action yarns, Carmen Webster Buxton knows how to tell a good story well; blending mystery and intrigue and romance. Ran-Del's character is interesting and I quite agree with his attitude toward being kidnapped. And though his primary kidnapper seems to have a good self justifiable reason for this crime Baron Stefan Haydon could seriously work on his methods. It could almost be comical when his daughter, Francesca seems to alternately go along almost complacently sometimes and other times is on the verge of rebellion against her father's strange plan. Either way kidnapping is kidnapping and that's really no way to find your daughter a good mate or to make friends.
Partly by plan and part by accident or perhaps part by way of the Psy/Precog nature of the Falling Water Clan Stefan's plans go just a bit south when the tables get turned. His daughter gets a chance to experience this whole thing from the other side and the reader gets to find that the Falling Water Clan is almost as bat crazy as Francesca's father in the form of Ran-Del's Great grandfather a shaman who is a seer who has a vision about Ran-del and Francesca.
Stefan Hayden wants to preserve his family line and fortune and ensure his daughter's safety in a city that is full of rich families that truck in plots and intrigue and his worries will prove to be well founded. His solution is to bring in an outsider (Ran-Del) who has special empathic abilities that will help his daughter survive especially if something happens to Stefan.Ran-Del's clan is all about family and continuing the family line. But the shaman (his great grandfather) seems to have that handled even if he must give up his family's youngest male in the line, Ran-Del.
So the question becomes can larceny and destiny lead to true love? There is certainly a lot to love about these two potential lovers.
There's a whole lot of interesting world-building as we learn both about the city people and the Sansoussy people along with the estranged couple as they each try to cope within the others world. At some point midst the alternating kidnappings the reluctant couple find themselves being thrust into a sort of arranged deranged engagement.
Carmen Webster Buxton has a style of writing that is easy flowing and if there are any sentence structure problems they somehow got past me as I whipped through the pages. I did find a few problems of missing words, but over all I'd say less than a handful of nitpicks, although for those sensitive to those issues you may see a few.
This is good SFF Young Adult Romance Adventure and though usually the kidnap/love stories make me cringe because of the improbability of seriously falling in love with your kidnapper, this one at least balances the tables on the players and manages to deliver some good character interaction.
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The Sixth Line of Defense
on Oct. 31, 2013
The Sixth Line of Defense by Shiva Winters
Shiva does it again.
Shiva Winters has a style a draws me right into the character right in the beginning. In this case she sounds like your average troubled teen who has to deal with a lot of intercity thugs at school. Only Shiva (this is also the name of the protagonist) has been bounced from school to school because she has a specific boiling point where she can no longer container herself in the face of adversity. She's proactive and she's tough and she doesn't back down and rarely loses the fight. She's been shifted from one bad school to another because of this.
Shiva is a special case as we soon find out both through her and through her handler Devon who has something in common with Shiva. Both are genetic soldier of a bygone era that were created to win the war and save the day. Except Shiva is from the 6th generation of these soldiers. Devon is from the 3rd gen and gens 4 and 5 were so horrible that the ones that didn't get put down are on ice. That means that everyone expects Shiva from gen 6 to be the worst.
That's pretty much the set-up for this story.
This book also contains a theme common to Shiva Winter's other writing. That theme is that there is a special bond between people that goes beyond friendship, sex, and even sometimes love. It knows no bounds when it happens and it's a profound experience and in some case as with the Salak'patan Series it can be deadly to both parties when on member of the bond dies.
This book also contains a heavy lesbian theme which is introduced fairly soon in the novel. Shiva and Vala meet at a special school (one that Devon has found for Shiva) and they bond and become very close in a short time, since that is the nature of the bond it makes the quick romance become somewhat believable.
Besides the bond itself we find that Vala has some special significance in the plot of the story.
Ultimately because of the failure to integrate the 4s and the 5s into society the military has been reluctant about the 6s and have only tried to integrate a handful of which all have failed except Shiva and as we mentioned Shiva has problems. Part of the plot is that someone wants them to have problems because they want to bury them deep. It eventually comes out that it's all part of a plot that hinges on eliminating the 6s who in part were created in-case the enemy was ever able to compromise the 4s and 5s and turn them against the military.
As the blurb mentions this story is about what it means to be human and that is definitely examined in a number of ways throughout the Narrative.
And that brings us to Shiva's style of writing. Her narrative is rich and sometimes her sentences are long and descriptive. And these are all things I enjoy about her writing. I will caution those who are severe about grammar spelling and general editing that this once again is not the book for you. Of those I took time to mark there are over 30 missing words or double words or things like than instead of then and in some cases ambiguous statements that sound wrong in context which might be more missing words or misspelled.
This is a good SFF for Young Adults and it contains some reasonable lesbian romance.
The Sixth Movement
on June 02, 2014
The Sixth Movement by Shiva Winters
When Shiva Winters proclaims that she writes for entertainment she's not kidding. I've come to expect a number of things from her work and the highest on the list is the entertainment. This installment of Forgotten Children is no exception to the rules. There will be long sentences lots of world building and bunches of creative science along with somewhat realistic though rather super-humanly strong characters. If you're looking for strong female characters then look no further. Shiva(The character in the novel) and her adopted family have plenty to go around.
In the previous book we learned many of the dark secrets of Anslaw; and Shiva rediscovered herself and made her stand against an abuse that had gone on for too long. This resulted in her being interred at Anslaw and Aerisa. Free to live there, but not free to live among others except the other sixes. This has given her the time and opportunity to release more of her fellow 6's from their cryogenic containers and begin a slow process of integrating them. But now they need to further gain freedom by becoming less dependent on the government that is grudgingly taking care of their responsibilities to the soldiers they created.
One way Shiva and company can do this is to help track down the 5's who were sold off into the black market. But for Shiva; the only way to do this type of work, is on her terms. So the majority of the plot to this installment is the conflict between her with her family of 6's and the government. Some of those officials seem to earnestly want to help but many still want to use the 6's and gain some sort of return on their investment. Shiva will have to stand strong against any potential for abuse and she'll have to somehow learn to trust those who deserve the trust.
The reader is about to learn more about the abuse Shiva had to endure and the result; with some rather extensive explanations for some unknown passages under Anslaw. And as Shiva's intellect begins to kick in strong we see the building of the base from which the community of 6's will begin to gain their freedom. Yet each time Shiva needs to interface with the politicians and military it becomes a test of wills.
This installment includes some few strategic battles pitting 6's against 5's and those battles, for the most part, seem mostly one-sided, but since the real conflict here is between those who want to help and those who want to continue to abuse, it works out quite well as the plot goes and it creates a well paced Science Fiction Military Suspense Thriller.
As I mentioned the main players are beginning to look like super-humans with extra powers that give them the edge. But Shiva Winters does her usual excellent job of bring the human characteristics into each character with their flaws both major and minor and all displaying simple normal human traits. As with the previous novel there is a distinct Lesbian thread in the story but it does not overpower or dominate the story and is handled in a quite logical believable fashion.
As always with Shiva's writing I caution anyone who has a weakness when it come to grammar that there will be at least a few flaws in the fabric. Most are in the form of repeated words or missing words.
Like a good scotch whiskey Shiva Winter's prose can sometimes be an acquired taste so I recommend for the new reader to start with some of her earlier work. You will love it or hate it but if you read enough you should start craving it. I'm always happy to see when she releases one of her newer labels.
I had a chance to look at the ARC for her new steam-punk novel and, for those fans that love her current series already, it will be a great treat to add to your collection.
No pressure for you to get that one finished Shiva.
The Kingdom of Malinas
on July 15, 2014
The Kingdom of Malinas is a remarkable book.
E.J.Tett's first effort at writing is by far one of the best first efforts I have read in quite some time.
She puts together all the elements of story with her own style and class that have not been matched by her peers.
She has tremendous characterizations, conflict, plot and theme nailed down.
This is a well thought out effort for a first book. And it says a lot that although I venture into the fantasy genre now and then my favorite is Science Fiction. This does give me an advantage and disadvantage in that I have little to compare it to.
The only reason I picked up this novel was because I'd been snooping around the SSFchronicle writers forum and noticed that several people there have published various works in various fashion from traditional to self and I have to say that I've up to this point been disappointed with the ones I have tried out.
I came in not expecting much after three other disappointments , one of those is a traditional published author. I'm happy to say that this one surprised me.
It starts out slow and I suppose that it could be argued that its a bit rough around the edges because it's a first effort and its self published. And I suppose that if I were coming from the place of being in a forum of writers I might tend to try to be hyper critical.
Fortunately I come from being a reader of fiction with a 50 plus year background and I have to say that I found the author's style of writing to be be fresh, entertaining, and quite tightly woven. She can only improve from there.
The story begins slowly with our main protagonist Sorrel who is a very strong female character- there are many of those in this story. Her father was a warrior and her brother is one and she wants to follow in their footsteps. Despite the families efforts she will if it kills her and as the tale unfolds it seems that fate is on her side. There is enough in the development of characters to keep me in the story. Her plot seems quite original though I admit that I lack enough exposure to this type of fantasy to truly judge.
It's at chapter 12 she grabs me- one quarter the way through the book. I found the hook that kept me reading this in one sitting. She feeds the line out carefully and then hooks you into the story so deep you can't get out until you are finished.
What's really great about this novel is that it's full of characters that can hook any reader. There are almost too may to chose from and yet she pulls it off and this is a first novel; as long as she keeps her present voice she can't go wrong.
This was good the first time now great with all the new edits.
Change of Seasons
on Oct. 31, 2014
Change of Seasons by Shiva Winters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Change of Seasons(The Relics and Remnants)by Shiva Winters
Shiva Winters is master of the long sentence, which is what I love so much about her prose. She is an artist pushing the limits of the craft and sometimes it becomes recognizable by the flaws that creep into the whole mix. Despite those few flaws I can not help reading everything she writes. This novel is a bit less than the two action series that she's done in that it has a more sedate feel to it. It's much the same as her Wandering Steps Across a Starry Sky. They both deal with some somewhat nomadic characters. WSAASS had Gypsies in space and Change of Seasons has its Gypsies in the rough wilderness world of the Relics and Remnants.
This novel has a lot of world building; but it is all carefully ensconced in a bit of an Adventure Romance[putting emphasis on Romance]. There is a bit of steam punk without the Steam and the Victorian feel. There are airships and there are mechanical devices that have been left from an ancient race that lived on this world prior to man's arrival. So its more of a clockwork-punk type of novel without the added feature of vampires and werewolves and fictional characters remade. Well there are some mechanical wolves of a sort and even some mechanical birds with AI's.
The focus of the plot for this story is less the dark drama of the the Salak'patan Series and the Forgotten Children Series[That's not to say it won't get there in the coming future.]; but right now in this first novel the focus is on introducing the Winters family and taking them through the gruesome trail of Romance along with a bit of light adventure. The youngest girls; Talia and Katia; steal the show for me. But the romances are around them, though they have their own special relationship. This is the story of Daniel and Serina and their family and the romance is all on their daughter Sana and a family friend Stephen. But it's also the story of the Ronin and the Winters family and the precarious life they have as being considered the cast-off bits of the empire.
As far as the adventure and intrigue; this time it's more akin to what we read in Dumas and the Three Musketters. There is a lot of court intrigue and even the society of the gypsy like Ronin has a complex structure. Stephen(an outsider) must wend his way into the Ronin so he might court the one he loves while Sana has traveled off to the empire on vacation only to discover that she is courted by a high noble while she knows that her family name will doom any such relationship.
The scope of the book is quite wide as Talia and Katia uncover and restore a multitude of Remnants of the others who used to live on their world. What they are doing will be dangerous and costly but will benefit both the Winters family and the Ronin of whom their mother is one. In this back drop we have such creatures as the mechanical wolves and the birds and floating wagons and replicator machines.
Once again there is no end to Shiva's imagination and the execution is a treat to explore though it has it's rough edges that border on some few errors and style choices that some will love and some will hate. Shiva writes these for her own enjoyment and publishes them with the hope that others will enjoy.
I hope that fans of SFF and Romance and Adventure novels will find as much to enjoy and love about these books as I do and I hope Shiva has a lot of time yet to write many more.
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The Last Immortal : Book One of Seeds of a Fallen Empire
on Oct. 05, 2015
The Last Immortal(Seeds of a Fallen Empire Book1)by Anne Spackman
I tried reading this a while back and ended up putting it off to the side. When I picked it up again I had to examine it closely to better understand why I put it aside. This is one more novel to place on my love to hate list and that's not always a bad thing, so read on. Which is what I did this time and I'm glad I did read on. This is a book that deserves a five but for me there were some style choices that drop a star just in that the writing style made it difficult to read. It's a long enough novel at over 400 pages; but to have to stumble along while reading it, makes it cumbersome.
I often read the reviews before purchasing and I can see where some people might put this book down easily while trying to get into it; I know I did. My suggestion is to persevere, because the writing is good and the plot is good and the characters are well developed. There is the caveat that the reader has to work extra hard sometimes to understand all of this. Still there are a larger number of people who loved reading this and it does prove itself to be well worth reading. I'll try to explain.
I loved the concept in this novel and once I understood the style of writing and slowed myself down I was able to see the complexity of the characters. In fact; this is an epic story that might have been better split somehow into two separate stories. Yet again that's a style choice and much of the story becomes framed stories that tell the back-story that feeds the basic series plot. The story from which they are framed is the novel story and that fact adds to the confusion and again the need to slow down and absorb the two plots as they both converge and then diverge to reach the end of book one. The science in the novel could be somewhat flawed; but honestly I'm not sure exactly where; still if it was all solid, why then we'd be using it to get all over the universe wouldn't we. It is solid and well established within the story and I think the author holds it to be consistent within the story and it so fantastically neat that it adds to the story.
So then what did I find so difficult about this novel. The prologue starts us out well because there is only one character in that portion; but as soon as we jump into chapter one the problem starts and persists for a period. This is told in a somewhat Omniscient point of view that likes to get subjective quite a bit; and that would work if it weren't for the immediate head hopping that comes out of the mix. Sometimes it became difficult for this reader to keep track of which head I was in. But more so it doesn't help that we dig inside the head then come out and get a full description of the character from some omniscient point above them. This is where the style choices work against the reader. It becomes difficult to feel the characters and see their depth when we keep spinning outside their heads to an unanchored point that gives us a detailed description that this reader often filled away and forgot quickly. Still I can see one reason it was done this way; and that boils down to the fact that the author is trying to give the reader two epic stories in less space than it might take to do that.
The best parts of the novel are when we drop into the frame story that is first person from Alessia's point of view. But it takes a lot of back-story and world building to get the reader up to this point to connect a number of dots to make this makes sense. And even when it drops into the frame story there is another round of world building simply from the point that Alessia is not of the same world as Eiron; although the whole of cosmic history between races strives to bring everyone under the same universal origin. To that end Alessia's back-story is two fold which can again become confusing. Alessia has a past with Eiron's people; but she has a more urgent past with another civilization that could some day intersect with Eiron's people and she has a mission that she's, by all appearances, abandoned.
This is a story about immortals of two varieties. The machine's with downloaded intelligence and the biologicals with extended life; and the oppressive government that comes from having the long lived intelligent machines guiding humanity for so long. Through a horrible accident Alessia is the last of the biological immortals and she is tasked with finishing the task of thwarting the mechanicals; but she sidetracks her mission to a remote colony to look in on some of their normal people who were long ago sent to colonize a planet. While there she lets her emotions cloud her judgment and she creates a monster within a political environment that is already volatile.
On the other hand it's the story to two worlds on the brink of war while approaching a moment of impending doom that could take them both. It's also a love story and that's another piece I had some difficulty with. There are two love interests for Alessia and the first she rebukes for reasons I couldn't clearly define, though as the story works out it becomes apparent that he would be a bad choice. The second love interest felt as though it occurs too quickly and since the union is integral to the continuation of the series plot it almost seems a bit contrived. The whole dynamic created between the two men is made more interesting in the long run; though the realization of consequences of Alessia's actions plays a greater part in rounding out the story.
This is good SFF for those who love the epic fiction and have the patience to carefully sort through the multilayered plot presented through the back-story framing. There are some elements within the story that reminded this reader of the long story behind Battlestar Galactica.