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review 2017-02-20 02:42
Book 2 in the Insignia series
Vortex - S.J. Kincaid

 

 

That was the thing about real life. Video games could be reset. There were second chances.

- Chapter 14

 

Book two in the World War III Insignia series is as thrilling as the first book. This series explores themes of power, corruption, friendship, and loyalty. Evil cooperations control everything, from the water and food to the war. Tom and his friends have computers in their heads and they are controlled by the government (which is controlled by the corporations). Tom is rebellious but loyal. In order to continue in his training, Tom has to get corporations to sponsor him, but he is incapable of hiding his real feelings, incapable of being political.

 

This is an exciting story. I loved the first book, and this one even more. I am starting book 3 right away! Watching Tom try to act political was so funny. There are some pretty tense moments and it is hard to know who to trust. I sort of guessed who was the leak, but I knew it would involve another twist.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-02-18 20:39
I Review for You, A Treasure Trove of 17 Stories about Chess-Playing Unicorns, Presidential Candidates Stuck on Mars, & Everything in Between!
Asimov's Science Fiction: Hugo & Nebula Award Winning Stories - Sheila Williams

 

 

 

Unicorn Variations by Roger Zelazny

If an anthology starts as strong as this one did, then there’s no way I would not continue reading it! Consider the human species about to become extinct and our fate hinging on a chess match between a bartender, a unicorn, and a sasquatch.

 

 

 
https://i2.wp.com/d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1372038076l/16085458.jpg

 

 

Fire Watch by Connie Willis

I had already read this story & liked it. Keep a box of tissues handy when you read it!

 

 

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51bhzqfT0ML._SY346_.jpg

 

Hardfought by Greg Bear

I am not ashamed to say that I abandoned this one halfway through into the story. It was too convoluted and complex for me to care about what was happening to the characters.

 

 

 
https://pics.cdn.librarything.com/picsizes/84/b5/84b5a8a53c231c95939716d5751434f414f4141.jpg

 

The Peacemaker by Gardner Dozois

Fanaticism can be found in all kinds of worlds and often results in innocents getting hurt and this story was no exception.

 

 

 

 
https://i0.wp.com/66.media.tumblr.com/b4aec25aae20fe09504c9ddb21a57b9d/tumblr_mqffme76eR1qczwklo5_500.jpg

 

Speech Sounds by Octavia Butler

In a world gone silent due to a viral mutation, chaos and animalistic behavior is the rule of the day.

 

Press Enter by John Varley

Press Enter and find out things, if you dare!

 

I hugged her, and her breath came again, hot on my chest. I wondered how I'd lived so long without such a simple miracle as that.

 

Portraits of His Children by George R. R. Martin

I was surprised to read this story but not when it didn’t turn out to be anything special. The premise was good but the execution was too typical for me to enjoy it.

 

Rachel in Love by Pat Murphy

An ape raised as a human child by a scientist is left to fend for herself when her father dies.


https://i2.wp.com/g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/d9/62/52ed923f8da01d4f10259010.L.jpg

 

Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers by Lawrence Watt-Evans

A hamburger joint that serves customers from all dimensions.

 

Even in the realities where the Europeans never found America and it's the Chinese or somebody building the cities, there just isn't any reason to build anything near Sutton. And there's something that makes it an easy place to travel between worlds, too; I didn't follow the explanation. She said something about the Earth's magnetic field, but I didn't catch whether that was part of the explanation or just a comparison of some kind.

 


Ripples in the Dirac Sea by Geoffrey A. Landis

A time traveler who can’t return to his own time. Because. Consequences.

 

Once I tried to commit suicide by murdering my father, before he met my mother, twenty-three years
before I was born. It changed nothing, of course, and even when I did it, I knew it would change nothing.
But you have to try these things. How else could I know for sure?

 

 

Boobs by Suzy McKee Charnas

A teenager has to deal with teasing and bullying at school because of developing earlier than her classmates and finds an unusual bloody silver lining that just might help her get through!


https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51z1HPyVgpL._SY346_.jpg

 

The Manamouki by Mike Resnick

A couple emigrates to a Kenya-esque world and tries their damnedest to fit in and yet…

 

Bears Discover Fire by Terry Bisson

Exactly what the title says and yet you will enjoy it, if you have fun reading weird things.

 

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress

Genetic developments allow parents to specify what their offspring should be like down to the last detail. When a couple is about to have a baby, the father chooses to have her be sleepless. Even a world so advanced in genetics isn’t ready for sleepless people taking over it.

 

https://www.lwcurrey.com/pictures/medium/147828.jpg

 

 

Barnacle Bill the Spacer by Lucius Shepard

Barnacle Bill is a simple man whose job is to remove barnacles from the shuttle’s exterior walls. All he wants is to make himself useful, so he won’t be sent back to Earth, which would be a death sentence. Is it ever that easy?

 

The power of the Strange Magnificence, you see, lay in the subversive nihilism of their doctrine, which put forward the idea that it was man's duty to express all his urges, no matter how dark or violent, and that from the universal exorcism of these black secrets would ultimately derive a pure consensus, a vast averaging of all possible behaviors that would in turn reveal the true character of God and the manifest destiny of the race.  Thus the leaders of the Magnificence saw nothing contrary in funding a group in York, say, devoted to the expulsion of Pakistanis from Britain by whatever means necessary while simultaneously supporting a Sufi cult.

 

Fiction or prescience?

 

Danny Goes to Mars by Pamela Sargent

Danny is the next presidential candidate who is advised to join an astronaut team to Mars to increase his chances of winning in the upcoming elections. The results didn’t quite meet his expectations but when do they ever!

 

 

The Nutcracker Coup by Janet Kagan

A human diplomat unwittingly incites a people (I use that term loosely because they are quadrupeds and had quills) to rebel against their ruler. Oh, and nutcrackers play a big role in the rebellion!

 

 

I think this anthology was a really good one even if did take me ages to finish it. I enjoyed reading, Unicorn Variations, The Manamouki, Barnacle Bill the Spacer, Danny Goes to Mars, & The Nutcracker Coup, the most. I purchased this book from Kitabain and am so glad that I did!

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review 2017-02-17 17:01
Cyclops Road by Jeff Strand
Cyclops Road - Jeff Strand

Evan Portin has just lost his wife and is having a very bad day at work. But he comes upon a woman being mugged and finds that she doesn't need his help.

Harriet is a strange one for sure. She's never been in a car or seen a cellphone. Safe to say she's been pretty isolated. Oh, and she's on her way to kill a cyclops.

I know, right? Someone has a few screws loose. Maybe...?

Follow Evan as he takes the ride of his life.

 

 

I found this book entertaining as all get out, and unique, and very funny! I loved it! It was very different from the usual Strand novels. Can't say much more so I don't give anything away. I definitely recommend it though. It's not actually horror. I would put it more in the fantasy, sci-fi category.

 

4 stars

 

 

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review 2017-02-15 13:00
BOOK REVIEW - EDGEWOOD
Edgewood - Karen McQuestion

 

Originally posted here on April 30, 2016

(http://www.markbenjaminbooks.com/my-journal/book-review-edgewood)

 

I'm happy to have read this. Especially seeing as how I'm a virgin (again) when it comes to all things in the review world. This is a really great novel. The book description is already great, but trust me, the novel is astoundingly better. I'm happy to have gotten the chance to read Edgewood by Karen McQuestion (even her name is catchy hehe).

The main characters grow on you from the very beginning: Russ Becker, the protagonist; to his love interest, Mallory; the rude-boy, Jameson; and the shy (for a reason) Nadia. The story unfolds as Russ learns his unique ability after the strange "astronomical" event happens to him, and how he gels with the rest of the teens as he plays catch-up to learning how to use his newfound powers. As the plot develops, an organisation called the Associates (who apparently want world domination) and another called the Praetorian Guard (who apparently want to stop the Associates) comes into the picture. I liked the fact that you, as the reader, doesn't really know whom exactly the evil ones are (kinda), which adds an element of mystery and intrigue in the book. The dialogue and actions of the main characters were believable for their ages, and the action scenes appropriate for the targeted age range.

An issue for me however was how Russ treated his nephew, Frank, at times. Though at the end he became a better uncle at least. Frank's mum (Russ' sister, Carly) was also a pain until she stormed into a room like a banshee to what she thought was saving the day. I can't remember the last time I went from disliking a character to loving them in just a few pages (zero to one-hundred real fast!). Finally, to what I thought was a mild plot error, Nadia could track Russ when he was in an unknown location but couldn't seem to do the same when he took a walk outside his house in the nigh?!. Perhaps this means that Russ is getting more powerful? A reader can only hope!

Overall, this was a fun and exciting read, which took less time for me to finish than you could say, "I want the next in the series!" Not only that, but I believe more mature readers would enjoy this book. I sure did!

Would I recommend it? Most definitely!
Would I read it again? Absolutely!
When my daughter Leia reaches an appropriate age would I let her read it? Without a doubt!

That's why I give this book a 4/5 in my ratings. Now, go out there and grab yourselves a copy!

My Favourite Lines
The field beyond glowed with fragments of something, like someone had tipped over a charcoal grill the size of a water tower. The embers glowed blue and gold, beautiful like jewels. I got closer and noticed the glowing chunks were different sizes but that overall they formed a swirling pattern that covered the entire field. ----> I liked the imagery described here. A lot.

As if not hearing me, she continued the discussion, going in a different direction entirely. I've noticed that girls do this a lot. ----> This statement just shows how funny some of the characters are. Karen McQuestion catches this really well.

I held my hands firmly against him and focused all my thoughts and energy on the connection between us. We were two separate people linked now by skin and bone and blood and energy. ----> Another wonderful description.

"We create the reality we want to believe. One child thinks he has the meanest parents in the world. His brother thinks they're strict but fair. Which one is right? Is the second one downplaying it or is the first one a whiner? So much of life depends on your perspective." ----> I found this philosophical enough for a young adult to mull over. Great!

Source: www.markbenjaminbooks.com/my-journal/book-review-edgewood
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review 2017-02-13 16:36
i need more by this author!
Jerricho's Freedom - Jake C. Wallace Jerricho's Freedom - Jake C. Wallace
Independent reviewer for Divine Magazine, I was gifted my copy of this book.
 
Jerricho is Crown Prince to the Anzuni race, a demon race living among the humans for thousands of years. He is expected to marry the man chosen for him and he is expected to like it. But he doesn't. Jerry loves Rex. When Jerry's fiancee tries to use the heavy handed approach, Jerry decides he is having that one night, that one night of happiness with Rex he may never get again. But that night leads to a chain of events that lead both Jerry and Rex fighting for their lives. And that of their unborn child.
 
The m-preg genre (sub-genre?? trope??) is growing on me! This book deals with it very well, and I liked how both Jerry and Rex reacted to their unexpected news.
 
I liked this book a lot but for two things.
 
one: there is a lot, and I mean A LOT of double crossing and triple crossing and even quadruple crossing!! It got very confusing, for me at least, trying to figure out who were the bad guys and who were the good ones! Even when everything was explained and laid out for me, I was still a little lost.
 
two: Only Jerricho has a say. Yes, yes yes I know, I KNOW I say it a lot, but had Rex had his say?? I think this might have been a five star read, even with the confusing good/bad guys, I really do. I needed to know what he thought when Jerry left; when Jerry told him the news, and what he was thinking about, in the cage opposite Jerry. I really REALLY needed to hear from him.
 
It does get a little gory when talking about what's happening to the missing men and their mates, and there are some scenes of dubious consent but only one or two, and they are short. To be honest, it's only writing this review that they spring to mind, it didn't click while I was reading. I'm trying NOT to give spoilers, you see, but you need to know.
 
I'm left feeling that there should be another book after this one. Is there?? There is a huge fallout from Jerry and Rex' rescue and I'd like to know how that pans out. I'd like to read more about Keith, Jerry's best friend and his mate, Gunn. Eli is still missing. Even Ty, the heavy handed fiancee, I'd like to see what happens to him when he gets THAT news.
 
First I've read of this author. I liked it. Lots. I would like to read more.
 
4 solid stars
 
**same worded review will appear on Goodreads, Booklikes, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble**

 

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