Zombie Bigfoot Review (#horror Comedy)

Book cover for Zombie Bigfoot

Bigfoot is real.

That’s what Sarah’s father told her before his academic disgrace and untimely death.

Now, primatologist Dr. Sarah Bishop is eager to restore her father’s good name. Survival show host Russ Cloud is just as eager to boost his plummeting ratings. They’ll both have a shot at redemption when they find themselves hired by eccentric billionaire Cameron Carson. After a series of his publicity stunts end in spectacular failure, Carson has a plan to redeem his tarnished image: capture a live Sasquatch.

Sarah and Russ join an expedition with an eclectic crew: an Afrikaner safari hunter, a ‘roided out former wrestling star, a Shoshone master tracker full of surprises, a heavily tattooed Russian warrior woman, a pair of wise-cracking nerds, and a cute gum-chewing intern with some hidden skills. Will they find Bigfoot?

There’s something in the woods… but it’s not what they’re expecting. – Goodreads


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Six Wakes Review (Sci-Fi Mystery)

Book cover for Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

A space adventure set on a lone ship where the murdered crew are resurrected through cloning to discover who their killer was — and the secret to their mission.

It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood.

At least, Marie Shea iv had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died, from illness once and from injury once…

Maria’s vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Pituitary, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. Apparently, Maria wasn’t the only one to die recently. – Goodreads


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For Better or Worse: Science Fiction & Horror Books That Surprised Us

A banner with the words The Top Ten Tuesday List on it.This Top Ten Tuesday we’re looking at the books that surprised us (in both good and bad ways). These aren’t random grabs, but instead are ones that we heard lots of good (or bad) things about, and decided to check out for ourselves. Sometimes it worked out unexpectedly well. Sometimes we wanted to put our fist through a wall. Ya win some, ya lose some, eh? See our list of surprising science fiction and horror books below.

Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you courtesy of Broke and Bookish.

Links lead to Goodreads.

 


For Better or Worse: Science Fiction & Horror Books That Surprised Us

 

1.) Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. Given my previous experience with the man (Slaughterhouse Five) to say my expectations were low for Sirens of Titan would be a bit of an understatement.  However, Vonnegut managed to make me snicker more than once and sit thoughtfully for a moment after I finished it. For that reason, I rated Sirens of Titan 3/5. And if you’re wondering why only 3/5, it’s because the man’s a douche who put a line in his book where a woman thanked a man for raping her. So, yeah. Moderately entertaining writer at times, but still never willingly reading him again. / BETTERBook cover for A Princess of Mars

2.) Tales from the Midnight Shift by Mark Allan Gunnells. I read The Quarry by the same author and loved it. When I saw the ‘Tales from the Midnight Shift’ anthology I thought I would love it but, no, not quite. The stories were just meh and didn’t seem as well-written as The Quarry. Also, from the title, I kind of expected them to be midnight shift, job-related stories but I think there was only one like that. /WORSE

3.) Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I was expecting stuffy, staid attempts at adventure. What I got was loads better. Though there are definitely problems with Princess of Mars, I found it an easy going fluffy read that left me grinning when I was done with it.  / BETTER

4.) Just Plain Weird by Tom Upton. I didn’t go into this story with any real expectations beyond a good story. I just did not enjoy it. The female character was supremely annoying. I think the author was going for cute and quirky but veered off into annoying and a bit psychotic. The story had way too many convenient deus ex machinas to it with no real explanations. /WORSEBook cover for Tales from the Midnight Shift

5.) Tales from the White Hart by Arthur C. Clarke. Okay, so this one definitely came out of left field for me. Clarke’s writing can be absolutely fantastic, but it is rarely funny. So, I wasn’t expecting much when I picked up Tales from the White Hart. Figured I needed to give it a go, though. And it was in turns absolutely hilarious. /BETTER

6.) Redshirts by John Scalzi. This book managed to exceed my expectations and disappoint me utterly all in one book. But ultimately, perhaps because it ended on a disappointing note, I have to file this one under /WORSE

7.) Carnacki, the Ghost Finder by William Hope HodgsonI bought this as a random free one and at first I didn’t think I’d like the writing style. The stories are told as though they’re being told directly to the narrator so in a way it’s like he’s talking right to the reader. It took a little getting used to but I ended up liking them a lot. I was bummed there weren’t anymore. /BETTER

8.) Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds. Apparently, Alastair Reynolds is fantastic with hard science fiction, and Pushing Ice is considered one of his best books to start on. I hate this book. I hate this book so much that I’m putting it on this list and I’m technically not even done with it. Not what I was expecting from a man as lauded as Reynolds is. /WORSE

9.) The Spirit Chaser by Kat Mayor. When I first got it to read (through this site but before I became a part of it) I initially didn’t see the ‘Paranormal Romance’ tag so when I did notice I have to admit I wasn’t that thrilled. I ended up loving the story. I liked the interaction of the characters, some of whom surprised me into liking them. I had to create a new shelf on GR because of this book. /BETTER

10.) New Tales of the Yellow Sign by Robin Laws. As much as I love the stories of  Robert W. Chambers ( at least his horror stories) it can sometimes be that books that expand on an idea or world can be better than the source material. While I wouldn’t say this surpasses it exactly, I went into it not expecting to like it much. I thought it wouldn’t do the source material justice. That it certainly does and the stories aren’t so interconnected that a reader who has never read the originals can still enjoy them. /BETTER

 

 

What about you? What books would make your For Better or Worse listing for Top Ten Tuesday? Feel free to link (or just tell us) in the comments below!

Melancholy Ghost (Paranormal Fantasy)

Book cover for Melancholy Ghost

From ghost hunter to ghost, haunted.

Barrett has a plan—help Austin regain his memory, surround him with his friends and loved ones, and lead him into the light. Unfortunately, the tragic investigation of a melancholy ghost derails everything.

As new lead investigator, Thai struggles to maintain the high ratings SCI has always enjoyed. After a few subpar investigations, the network execs demand results, even if it means the team must put their lives on the line for a house more deadly than its dead occupants.

There are worse things than being dead.

Austin knows something is wrong. Most people ignore him, time eludes him, and his hands are basically worthless. If only he could remember what happened, he would have the answers he so desperately seeks. He’s sick of Barrett’s lies and Casey’s deflections. Austin will have to figure this one out on his own. Will the truth set him free, or destroy his soul? – Goodreads


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The Junkyard Bot (Robots Rule #1)

Worker robots keep the high-tech town of Terabyte Heights humming, but ten-year-old George Gearing is the only one who has a robot for a best friend. When his scrappy but beloved pal Jackbot is hit by a car, the whiz kid re-engineers him with fancy parts from state-of-the-art TinkerTech Laboratories. Jackbot’s astounding new skills far exceed anything George–or even TinkerTech’s head of robotics–could ever have imagined. Will the villainous Dr. Micron destroy the whole town to see his tech-driven dream realized? Not if George can help it . . .Goodreads
Book cover for The Junyard Bot

Robots Rule: The Junkyard Bot Review

The Junkyard Bot, the first book in the Robots Rule series, gets everything off to a great start. It’s a middle-grade book that is all about George Gearing and the town of Terabyte Heights, and it’s obviously filled with robots. It’s got tons of action, a dash of mystery, and just a little bit of danger to keep things interesting.

C.J. Richards does a great job with The Junkyard Bot. The story has an appeal that seems ageless. When I was reading it, it was easy to forget that I was reading a kids book. It’s obviously very simply written, and things are put in simple and easy to understand terms. However, the fact that an author can work within those restrictions and still deliver a read to entertain an adult is something he deserves recognition for. (Though, to be fair, I do acknowledge I like children’s books a good bit more than your average adult.)

George is something of a prodigy in Junkyard Bot. He’s the little boy that all the senior citizens around depend upon to fix their less-than-perfect robots when they glitch. When he’s given the right tools and pieces, he manages to do something that no one has ever successfully done before. He tinkers constantly, and it is clear his mind operates on a level that not many do.

Goro Fujita’s rendition of George brings to mind another messy haired, glasses wearing little boy we all know and love. He’s even an orphan living with his grumpy uncle and manages to pull off something no one else has.  Fujita does a good job bringing certain sections of the story to life. His illustrations aren’t eye-catching or outstanding, but they do add a little something special to the book.

The Robots Rule series has its own website (RobotsRule.com). It’s pretty simple, but younger kids might enjoy spending a few minutes on there. They can do things like design their own Junkyard Bot or create a bookmark they can print out.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable start to a middle-grade science fiction series, and I’ll definitely be picking up the next one in the series. I love my local library for the kids’ books selections!

4 Star Rated The Junkyard Bot Review

Title: The Junkyard Bot | Series: Robots Rule | Author: C.J. Richards | Illustrator: Goro Fujita | Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (site) | Pub. Date: 2014-10-7 | Pages: 208 | ISBN13: 9780544339361 | Genre: Kids Science Fiction | Language: English | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Library | Purchase on Amazon

Pilot X Review (Time Travel / Space Sci-Fi)

Book cover for Pilot X by Tom Merritt

Pilot X: What would happen if a time traveler lived in a world where time could not easily be changed and if it was changed, it might destroy everything but himself?

Pilot X just wants to fly a time ship. Specifically the Verity. But the Guardians of Alenda, rulers of his people, throw him in the middle of a time war. When he makes peace they don’t seem pleased. In fact, his own people treat him like the enemy. – Goodreads


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Mutationem Review (Science Fiction)

Book cover for Mutationem by Phoenix Jericho

Mutationem: Decades after World War III, nuclear war is decimating the planet. Amidst the turmoil and destruction lies one last drop of hope: the most ambitious space mission ever planned, to be executed by the largest earthly spacecraft. The goal? For the crew aboard IWSA-24 to be the first to colonize Alpha-64, located 100 Earth years away. The clock is ticking, with the launch only a few weeks out. But when the war takes a calamitous turn only minutes before the shuttle’s first flight simulation, suddenly the crew on board realize they are the planet’s only survivors. With minimal provisions, equipment, and astronauts, a new set of questions arise for Captain Kriss and her all-female crew: will IWSA-24 have enough fuel to make it to Alpha-64? Will they devise a plan to secure male DNA in time to save humanity? What mysteries and unknowns lurk on this faraway planet? What starts as an unlikely community of lovers, enemies, scientists, and spies evolves rapidly as the crew approaches Alpha-64. – Goodreads


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When Worlds Collide Review (Classic Sci-Fi)

Book cover for When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie

A runaway planet hurtles toward the earth. As it draws near, massive tidal waves, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions wrack our planet, devastating continents, drowning cities, and wiping out millions. In central North America, a team of scientists race to build a spacecraft powerful enough to escape the doomed earth. Their greatest threat, they soon discover, comes not from the skies but from other humans. A crackling plot and sizzling, cataclysmic vision have made When Worlds Collide one of the most popular and influential end-of-the-world novels of all time. This Bison Frontiers of Imagination edition features the original story and its sequel, After Worlds Collide.  – Goodreads (note: I am reviewing ONLY the first book at this time.)


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Blog Tour for The War of the Usurper: Interview with Elí Freysson

Banner for War of the Usurper by Eli Freysson

Elí’s Biography: I was born in Akureyri in northern Iceland in 1982. Aside from a brief spell spent in Norway in my very early childhood I have spent my whole life here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum in my teens, which explains a whole lot and makes me just eccentric enough to be a writer.

I graduated high school in 2004, after which I dove into my first attempt at a proper fantasy novel. I finished the first draft a year later, but it took me until 2011 to get it published. I followed with a book a year for the next four years, before deciding to move into the English-language market. I translated three of my fantasy novels into English and self-published on Amazon, and then started writing original material in English. And here we are.


Talking with Elí Freysson

S&S: When did you start writing?

Elí Freysson: I toyed with writing a bit in my teens, but never really finished anything. I got serious about the whole thing just after graduating college in 2004.

S&S: Where’d the name for your book come from?

Elí Freysson: “The War of the Usurper” is the central conflict of the story. The culture the novel focuses on is quite fond of dramatic titles, personal honour and forging events into legends. So just at the dawn of the war the man who murdered the king and seized the throne is titled “The Usurper” and it sticks to him to such a degree that it effectively becomes his name.

S&S: What book got you hooked on reading?

Elí Freysson: I can’t point to any one work of fiction that really got me reading. As a kid, I was a bookworm since the day I could read. European comic books like Lucky Luke, Asterix and Spirou, were big favourites early on, and when I moved to prose I started out with pulpy stuff like Tarzan and Morgan Kane. But I can safely point to The Lord of the Rings as sparking my interest in fantasy.

S&S: Did the story of  The War of the Usurper make its way into your dreams while you were writing it?

Eli Freysson: Boy, I wish my dreams were that interesting. No, I’m afraid I only get confused nonsense. As a writer, I can’t say I approve of all those internal inconsistencies and plot holes. 🙂

S&S: What’s your current favorite book?

Elí Freysson: It’s always hard for me to pick a favourite anything, but what’s fresh in my memory right now is Alexis Hall’s Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator series. I have to admire the way it manages to use many of the tropes that annoy me so much about the urban fantasy genre and still be entertaining… in part by skewering quite a lot of them. I also recently read and quite enjoyed Tim Lebbon’s Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void (two colons, how about that?), for the interesting take on the very early precursors to the well-known Jedi.

S&S: Did you ever read a book and think “I could have done it better”?

Elí Freysson: I’m not going to call anyone out by name here, but I recently took a look at a fantasy novel that had quite a lot of positive reviews, and it just felt like someone’s first attempt at writing. A prologue that is nothing but infodump that goes into exquisite detail about cultures, races and characters for several pages before actually getting to any real storytelling is not the way to go.

S&S: How long did it take you to write The War of the Usurper?

Elí Freysson: From starting the first chapter to finishing the last, I would say it took me about half a year. That seems to be my general speed, counting fixes, rewrites and long sessions at the café with a notebook, trying to untangle a plot problem.

S&S: How many drafts did you do before you were satisfied?

Elí Freysson: I don’t really work in drafts these days. I can’t seem to write anything down unless I’m satisfied with it, so once I have the finished manuscript all that remains are little tweaks.

S&S: What aspects of the writing community did you utilize? (Beta-readers, proofreaders, etc.)

Eli Freysson: Beta readers are an absolute must. To any aspiring indie-author who happens to read this and thinks they can go without a second opinion: Don’t. It’s my experience that authors are the worst judges of their material.

S&S: What was the hardest part of writing The War of the Usurper?

Elí Freysson: Possibly the fact that I was stepping out of my previous genre of choice (fantasy), and moving into space opera. Deciding on the technology level was also a challenge, given that I am the least technologically savvy person I know outside of a retirement home.

S&S: “For fans of” can be a dangerous phrase, but what well-known books would you say are like _____________________________ so that people can get a feel for if they might be interested?

Elí Freysson:  Boy, that IS a minefield of a question. I have asked my beta-readers that on several occasions, and they haven’t really been able to come up with an answer. So I guess I can conclude that, at the very least, my book isn’t just same-old, same-old.

The War of the Usurper is the first in the Golden Throne series. It is my foray into creating my very own epic space opera universe, full of what I like about such settings: Casual space travel, many, many inhabited worlds, super-technology co-existing with magic, larger-than-life characters, a whole lot of backstory, and just sheer vastness of scale.

This first entry is a self-contained story about the titular nine-year war for the throne of the Realm of the Glorious Dawn. Power is seized by a power-hungry tyrant, who resorts to ever-greater atrocities to hold onto the throne, while loyalists secure the sole legitimate heir, twelve-year-old Princess Maraka, and begin the struggle to restore order.

Each chapter details a different flashpoint of the war, as important events must turn on the actions of wildly different people, spread far and wide across the social hierarchy and physical width of the Realm. Meanwhile, year after year, Maraka must grow up in the shadow of all of this, and learn to become both the steadfast symbol and the strong leader her subjects need.

Check out The War of the Usurper on Goodreads.

Purchase The War of the Usurper on Amazon.

Robot Revolution Review (House of Robots #3)

Robots on strike! Sammy’s underappreciated mechanical helpers are causing chaos in book 3 of the bestselling House of Robots series.

After a few early glitches in their relationship, Sammy and his “bro-bot” E are now fast friends. In fact, E is such a valued member of the family that the other electronic occupants of the House of Robots are feeling sorely unappreciated. And when Sammy’s inventor mom becomes distracted by a top-secret project, the robots soon begin to fall into disrepair.
Cue a robot revolt, with the droids wreaking harmless havoc in the house! Armed with pranks like glue in the shampoo bottles and flying toast missiles, the robots demand to be cared for. It’s up to Sammy and his disabled sister Maddie to keep the peace until his mom reveals her secret project…and why it was worth the wait. – Goodreads

Book cover for House of Robots by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Robot Revolution Review

 

Robot Revolution is another great entry into one of my favorite fiction series for kids. I love House of Robots series for so many reasons. First off, it’s an accessible science fiction series for middle graders. Then there’s the fact that it features a family that is diverse both in race and disability. And then, of course, one can’t forget the house full of robots. I can’t forget the fact that the mom is the brilliant scientist and the dad is the artist in the family.  But House of Robots has something going for it that I just don’t see in other middle-grade books. That is: The Hayes-Rodriguez family is tight. They love and support each other, and you know that no matter what goes wrong, they’re going to be together.

This book is where we see Sammy really show some frustration with his situation. He’s expressed it before in previous books, but this one feels like where he’s pushed to his limits.  Sammy has it easy in a lot of ways, but he’s still just a kid in a family where he is not the priority. Maddie is. It’s perfectly understandable that she tends to take precedence at times, but no one can blame Sammy for the frustration that arises in Robot Revolution. Everyone needs time and attention, whether you be a young boy or a neglected robot. And the robots are definitely feeling neglected too.

Chris Grabenstein and James Patterson do a great job of relaying the frantic chaos of the Hayes-Rodriguez house. All the characters (including the robots) in Robot Revolution are unique and memorable. The new ‘villain’ (well, school bully) is one that it’s quite easy to loathe. It’s nice to see him get his comeuppance at the end.  But the best thing that happens in Robot Revolution is one you’ll have to read to find out. I totally wasn’t expecting it, and it definitely made me happy to read. (I can only imagine the expression on my kiddo’s face when she finishes the last few chapters at bedtime tomorrow.)

House of Robots is a series you need to get for your kids. It deals with various issues that lots of kids can relate to. The illustrations are perfect. The dialogue, pacing, and action can’t be beat. It really is one of the best sci-fi novel series for kids on the market today.

5 Star Rated Robot Revolution Review

Title: Robot Revolution | Series: House of Robots #3 | Authors: James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein (site) | Illustrator: Juliana Neufeld | Publisher: Jimmy Patterson | Pub. Date: 2017-1-16 | Pages: 304 | ISBN13: 9780316349581 | Genre: Kids Science Fiction | Language: English | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Library | Purchase on Amazon

 

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