Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Survivors (Aftertime #1.5) by Sophie Littlefield

Yesterday, as I was stealing grabbing a cover pic from GoodReads for my Rebirth review post, I discovered Sophie Littlefield wrote a novella between Aftertime and Rebirth entitled Survivors (Aftertime #1.5).  Naturally I scooped it up on my Kindle and gave it a read!

Book Description
DOING RIGHT ISN'T EASY IN A WORLD GONE SO WRONG

Cass Dollar outlasted the fall of civilization. But surviving Aftertime requires the kind of toughness that can conquer the violent landscape of California and still retain its humanity.

When a young boy and his dying grandmother are brought to the Box, the survivalist community where Cass takes shelter, she realizes that without her help he won't be long for this unforgiving new world. But while the Box is a haven from the roaming marauders—and the flesh-hungry Beaters—it forbids children within its confines. The boy will be turned out to fend for himself. All that stands between him and the brutal wilderness is Cass's protective instincts, and the stubborn resolve that's gotten her this far Aftertime.
If you have read (or plan on reading) Aftertime, read Survivors before moving on to Rebirth.  I wish I had!  The second book Rebirth takes places a couple of years after Aftertime.  Survivors, however, gives you insight into how life was for Cass and Smoke (and Ruthie who seems to sleep 99% of her life) shortly after the end of book one.  I had an issue with not liking the characters in Rebirth, but they are quite likeable in Survivors and that likely would have carried over some into Rebirth.

This is a short novella, but it was a good dose of Littlefield's Aftertime world and a quick shot of some more zombie goodness.

Update: You can get Survivors for free on Amazon right now. I assume it is a limited offer as I just paid $2.99 for my copy.

Additional topics of interest
Book Review: Aftertime (Aftertime #1) by Sophie Littlefield
Book Review: Rebirth (Aftertime #2) by Sophie Littlefield
Dystopian book reviews

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Review: Rebirth (Aftertime #2) by Sophie Littlefield

Rebirth is the second book in the Aftertime series by Sophie Littlefield.

Book Description
The end of the world was just the beginning

Civilization has fallen, leaving California an unforgiving, decimated place. But Cass Dollar beat terrible odds to get her missing daughter back—she and Ruthie will be happy.

Yet with the first winter, Cass is reminded that happiness is fleeting in Aftertime. Ruthie retreats into silence.

Flesh—eating Beaters still dominate the landscape. And Smoke, Cass's lover and strength, departs on a quest for vengeance, one that may end him even if he returns.

The survivalist community Cass has planted roots in is breaking apart, too. Its leader, Dor, implores Cass to help him recover his own lost daughter, taken by the totalitarian Rebuilders. And soon Cass finds herself thrust into the dark heart of an organization promising humanity's rebirth—at all costs.

Bound to two men blazing divergent paths across a savage land, Cass must overcome the darkness in her wounded heart, or lose those she loves forever.
I love the Aftertime world Sophie Littlefield has created.  This is a great "escape" series to get lost in.

In Rebirth, Cass heads back out into the world of zombies and (even more frightening) humans.  Her journey is suspenseful and even chilling at times.

The zombie "beaters" play a much larger role in the first book (Aftertime) than they do in Rebirth.  Rebirth focuses more on Cass and the dystopian "Rebuilders" of Aftertime.

I'm not a huge fan of the characters in Rebirth, but it ends on a great note introducing us to some new characters who have a lot of potential.  It has me looking forward to the final book (Horizon) in February 2012.

If you are a fan of post-apocalyptic or dystopian books, this is a series you will want to read.

Review copy provided by publisher

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Cheat (Icarus Helix #1) by J.E. Medrick

Cheat is the first novella in the Icarus Helix series by J.E. Medrick.

Book Description
How far would you go for money? For Marcus Tiller, gambling debt was an overwhelming shadow on his life. As a neonatal attendant at St. Mercy Four Cities Hospital in need of cash, he became CGT-Inc's ideal pawn. The contract: secretly inject newborns with an experimental compound - for $1,000 a head. But, three years after he began, he disappeared.

Now, 14 years later, the effects of the compound are starting to show. 17-year old Ian Reynolds, an aspiring varsity football player, suddenly finds he can control things with the power of his thoughts. Footballs miraculously end up in his hands, girls' skirts catch sudden drafts and life is good. But the gift comes with a price, both physical and mental.

As Ian tries to understand his power, the big rivalry against the Waredo Firehawks looms. But when a stranger who may know his secret begins leaving him cryptic notes, will Ian decide his power is best left... undiscovered?
I recently mentioned I won a copy of Cheat from The Man Eating Bookworm's site. I was super excited after hearing his great reviews of each release in the Icarus Helix series.

Cheat was a lot of fun and a great start to the series. The way I understand it, each story can be read out of order, but they all tie into each other with a main story arc. I will definitely catch up quickly on the next three books. I have a strong suspicion these will make it into my coveted Sunday night wind down reading time.

If you enjoy quick and entertaining reads of the young adult and extrasensory flavor, you should check out Cheat. ($0.99!) Check out The Man Eating Bookworm or stay tuned right here for more Icarus Helix reviews.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Book Review: The Fire Inside (Sidekicks #1) by Raymond Rose

The Fire Inside is the first book of the Sidekicks series by Raymond Rose.

Book Description
Jack’s life isn’t the most exciting but it’s a life. One that he’s created over the past ten years to suit him. That is, until Bruce, Jack’s best friend comes to town. Bruce, a Federal Agent, is on an uber-secret mission to save the city. Instead, he’s murdered. Suddenly, Jack has no choice but to become what he was before: a crime-fighter. Ten years ago, Jack and Bruce were Teen Protectors, costumed crime-fighters under the tutelage of their mentors, The Protectors. One night, a horrible battle erupted between superheroes and villains that left half of the city ruined and thousands dead. The government banned all superpowers and Jack, presumed dead, remained that way. However, now, Bruce is dead and Jack sets out to solve his best friend’s murder. With the help of new allies (including a man who can turn invisible and a woman who can become pure information), villains old and new (including his ex-girlfriend) bent to stop him, Jack will walk a world he left – a world more complicated and dangerous than he ever knew – and find some answers.
The Fire Inside by Raymond Rose is a great mystery/suspense superhero novel.  Think a non-Disney version of The Incredibles meets The Matrix.

If you are like my husband and anxiously awaiting each new superhero release at the theater, do yourself a favor and bide your time with The Fire Inside.  It is one of those books that reads just like a movie.  In fact, I'd love to see an adaptation.

Even if you aren't necessarily a superhero fan, I still recommend The Fire Inside to fans of mysteries and suspense thrillers.  The superpowers make for dynamic characters and tons of action.

I look forward to the release of a second book in the Sidekicks series.

Review copy provided by author

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Guest Post: A Is For Automaton by Heather Massey

Heather Massey is taking over Book Den today to discuss a really cool steampunk topic - automatons!  Don't forget to check out her generous giveaway!

Automatons are a big staple of the steampunk genre. They have their roots in real life automata, which are “non-electronic moving machines” and have a history dating back to the ancient Greeks. Automata were made into a variety of forms, but what I’d like to focus on is the idea of steampunk automatons fashioned after the human form.

These characters are, in a word, spooky.

The idea of Victorian-era robots driven by steam or clockwork power (or other sources, depending on the story) is one of steampunk’s most powerful and riveting manifestations. Automatons play a variety of roles in steampunk, from servants to soldiers to laborers. In some stories, they are part of the backdrop; in others, they play more key roles.

While often simple in design and purpose, it’s dangerous to underestimate them. They are often controlled by a nefarious villain intent on taking over something or someone. Not all automatons are deadly, but I’d keep a close eye on them all the same.

A huge part of the appeal is that automatons are just so…primitive. Scary. Unpredictable.

For one thing, they don’t always have a streamlined appearance like modern robots. That, of course, is where the Victorian aesthetic comes into play. Despite their rough-hewn nature, they’re larger-than-life and pretty to look at—well, some of the time. But even an automaton that has a patchwork appearance and/or is a downright mess of cogs and oversized rivets possesses a unique type of beauty.

Because automatons are so primitive, they often move slowly, in a clunky sort of fashion. They are the steampunk cousins of zombies, only without the dripping blood and guts. Unlike zombies, automatons are hard to punch, since they’re usually made of metal. And they’re intrepid. As long as they don’t run out of power, they’ll just keep coming at you if so ordered.

Let’s face it—automatons made in the human likeness are creepy. Often, they have an eerie, vacant stare that is deliciously unnerving. Seeing but not seeing, if you see what I mean. They leave a person wondering how much they actually know about the world around them. In that sense, they are a great way to process our fear of the unknown and/or to explore the Other. We can project so much of our feelings onto them because they make wonderful blank slates. Fear of the unknown. Fear of technology. Conversely, hope for an exciting future or the triumph of science.

I hope you’ll acquaint yourself with an automaton or two if you haven’t already. A few notable books featuring automatons include:

The Bookman (Tidhar Lavie)
The Affinity Bridge (George Mann)
Whitechapel Gods (S.M. Peters)
The Steam Man of the Prairie and the Dark Rider Get Down: A Dime Novel (Joe R. Lansdale)
Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel (Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett)
The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Mark Hodder)
Steamrolled (Pauline Baird Jones)
Like Clockwork (Bonnie Dee)
Soulless (Gail Carriger)
The Narrows (Alexander Irvine) (Actually, this story features golems, but who’s counting?)

Now for a giveaway! Leave a comment for this post and be entered for a chance to win DREAMSPELL STEAMPUNK, Vol. 1, a steampunk anthology from L&L Dreamspell.

(Hint: three of the stories feature automatons!). Winner chooses format (PDF, Mobi, or ePub).

Update: The contest is now closed.

To make it more fun, here’s a question for you: If you could design an automaton to do anything you desire, what would that be?


Be sure to leave contact information (blog address or email address or automaton serial number...) along with your comments so Heather has a way to contact the winner!

About the Author

Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard The Galaxy Express. She’s also the author of Once Upon a Time in Space, an erotic sci-fi romance. Her latest release is “Steambot Rampage,” a steampunk romance short story. When she’s not reading, she’s watching cult films and enjoying time with her husband and daughter.

To learn more about her published work, visit www.heathermassey.com.

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