Aaru by David Meredith #BookReview

Title: Aaru | Series: The Aaru Cycle #1 | Author: David Meredith | Pub Date: 2017-7-9 | Pages: 305 | ASIN: B073V7CZ1Q | Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller | Language: English | Triggers: Paedophilia, Sexual Assault, Child Pornography | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration.


Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

Book cover for Aaru

Aaru Review

Aaru and I just didn’t click, but I do admire how David Meredith uses technology in it. Some of the reasons aren’t things that I can say are ‘bad’, just things that didn’t work for me. One of those was that the author chooses to write his character’s dialogue in dialect. So you can encounter pages filled with dese, dat, da instead of these, that, and the, etc. I have never been a fan of this style of writing, and every time I encountered it, it jarred me out of the story. It’s personal taste. Some readers may really enjoy it. There’s also a strong Christian element in Aaru. The religious element didn’t particularly bother me, but if you’re strongly anti-religious, it may be a turn-off. 

David Meredith has a fascinating premise here in Aaru. Put simply, those who are going to die can have a scan of their conscious done and be uploaded into a virtual sort o Afterlife. I can see where many people would be attracted to the idea of never really losing their loved ones. The idea intrigued me immediately, but soon the ramifications occurred to me. I was happy to see the author willing to explore the potential problems instead of just acting like it was perfect. This is, in my opinion, the strongest point of the story. Everything about it is pretty well thought out, including how someone would access Aaru that wasn’t supposed to.

In regards to the characters in Aaru, I really liked Rose, Auset, and Kiku, but didn’t really care for the rest of them. They were understandable, but not really likable. Having grown up with an alcoholic father, Rose and Koren’s dad made me want to slap some sense into him pretty much any time he appeared on the page. His blustery, compensating-for-something attitude in general just set my teeth on edge. I felt like he never cared for Koren or Rose, but instead for what he could wring from the situation. I felt sorry for Koren, it was obvious that she was having a hard time dealing with the loss of her sister, and I wanted to protect her from the situation she found herself in. Especially considering her parents were too busy enjoying the ride to look out for their living daughter.

Then there was Magic Man.  Magic Man…hated Magic Man. I hated him so much that he almost turned me off Aaru completely. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it says something for the author that he can create a character so repugnant I would rather not read than have to put up with him. He can make your skin crawl. However, he’s also not entirely believable. It’s not his perversions, but more the way he talks to himself. And this is a problem that is found in more than just this character. The internal (and sometimes external) dialogue that happens with the characters isn’t quite right. 

There are lots of things about Magic Man and the book in general that can make a reader uncomfortable. There is paedophilia and child pornography, and two instances of sexual assault. These are only hinted at by the words “obsession and danger” in the blurb, so to say I wasn’t expecting it to get as twisted as it did is an understatement. Still, crap like that happens. People can be perverts. And young girls can easily be taken advantage of by people who should know better. David Meredith is really good at getting into that mindset of obsession and making you want to take a shower after reading some of it in Aaru.

Overal, Aaru had some really interesting aspects to it, and I think that David Meredith is a talented writer. Aaru and I just don’t work well together. I don’t think I was quite the right audience for the book. 

Buy Link: Amazon

Horrors – A Full Year of Horror #38

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

09/23/2017 – 09/29/2017

The horror short-short isn’t easy to master, but more than 100 of the genre’s critically acclaimed authors & hottest up-&-comers have taken a stab at it in Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, an anthology that contains a short tale for every day of the year. Steve Rasnic Tem, Wm F. Nolan, Tom Piccirilli, Yvonne Navarro, Peter Atkins, Brian Hodge, Martin Mundt & 166 others give you short, sharp shocks.

If you missed the first post you can find it here.

Even though it doesn’t feel much like fall with the temperature in the nineties we have some wholesome fall goodies for you. And by wholesome we mean undead, drooling and gooey goodies.




SarcophagusStephen Dedman

While on an archaeological dig Hubbert finds a skull in what was the belly of a raptor. No big deal. It could be a hoax. But Hubbert has a vindictive ex-wife who just won the Nobel Prize for proving that time travel is possible.

It’s a good story but it makes me wonder how, after finding his skull, she figures out how to trick Hubbert into the time machine.

ScanningRichard Gilliam

Marvin Duran knows how to save his company money by changing prices and screwing his employees out of their hard-earned bonuses. Unfortunately for him, one of his employees takes drastic measures and Marvin finds himself waiting to be born again. Surely it’ll be fair, won’t it?

I liked this one a lot because who hasn’t been screwed over by a store or employer?

Scarecrow’s DiscoveryJeff Strand

Ray is sick of ‘those darn kids’ tearing his scarecrows apart each night. So he dresses up like a scarecrow to scare the heck out of them, figuring it will scare them off for good. Too bad these aren’t ordinary children and the scarecrow mutilations are just ‘practice’.

I liked it even though it was a little obvious how Ray would end up. dressing up as a scarecrow never ends well.

ScreamerGordon R. Ross

Gerald the ventriloquist was a stiff person, alive and dead. Sam the mortician is his only friend. So when Gerald dies it’s only natural that Sam take care of the arrangements. So Sam buries Gerald and throws the dummy on the fire. Or is it the other way around?

A good story with a nice twist at the end. It makes you wonder if he ‘knew’ which was which but ignored it for the money left to him by Gerald. After all, I would think a mortician should know the difference between a dummy and a person.

The Second Time AroundAdam-Troy Castro

Frankenstein has built a new monster, a better monster. One with the face of a poet and an angel. Igor even made sure to get a brain marked ‘normal’ this time from the lab next door. Unfortunately for him ‘Lab’ is short for Labrador.

A pretty good story with a pretty funny and cute twist at the end.

The Second VialLawrence Schimel

Wendy is in the doctor’s office to get her physical so she can get insured. Even though they need ‘just a little vial’ of blood they take two vials. Wendy doesn’t ask what the second vial is for, who ever does. Although it’s a little odd that they’re having her sign a contract in red ink…

I found this one funny but I have to wonder about someone who signs a contract without looking at it.

The Secret of BeesTim Waggoner

When David was little and was stung by a bee his father taught him the secret of bees: Don’t run and don’t show fear. If you can do that then bees (and other animals) will leave you alone. So naturally when David meets a monster on a hiking trail he decides to give it a try.

At the end David thinks that his dad is an idiot but to me David’s not exactly the sharpest tool either. The secret might work in theory with regular animals but I don’t think I’d try it out on monsters.

Favorite of the Week:
I really liked The Second Vial by Lawrence Schimel. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good deal with the devil story.

Thanks for joining us and come back next week for another round of titillating tales!

Afterlife Review (Sci-Fi Fantasy)

Title: Afterlife | Author: Marcus Sakey | Publisher: Thomas & Mercer | Pub. Date: 2017-7-18 | Pages: 320 | ASIN: B01NGT8YVM | Genre: Sci-FI & Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the publisher for review consideration

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey

Soon to be a major motion picture from Imagine Entertainment and producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds… and an unforgettable love story.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion — a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave.

He wakes without a scratch.

The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people — until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic.

Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love… with Will Brody.

But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect — and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

From the author of the million-copy bestselling Brilliance Trilogy comes a mind-bending thriller that explores our most haunting and fundamental question: What if death is just the beginning?

Book cover for Afterlife

Afterlife Review

I’ve previously read some of Marcus Sakey’s work, and while I enjoyed some of it, I wouldn’t have willingly picked up Afterlife had the publicist not specifically asked me to. My expectations going into Afterlife were not high, but I figured I’d slog through it if necessary.

It wasn’t.

Afterlife raises the bar on what I expect from Marcus Sakey a whole lot higher than it previously was. I had no idea the man was capable of pulling off something like this.

This is one of those books that immediately put me in my happy spot. The hint of romance, the parallel world (for lack of a better term), the new take on life after death. The battle of good versus evil. Afterlife is wonderfully imaginative, deliciously dark, and almost perfectly written.

Claire and Will are a great pair of characters. Too good to be true, of course, but sometimes we need perfect heroes in a story like this. I liked that the author had no problem making Claire the smarter one of the two of them. I loved reading the easy acceptance that Will had of her mental superiority. He loved her and never resented her abilities. And while she had no problem pointing out the flaws in his thinking, she never set out to make him feel like an idiot. (Like I said: too good to be true.) And even though they’re both strong separately, together they’re so much more. And that’s how it should be.

The dialogue was believable. The action was perfectly paced. The way Sakey describes the other world is simple, yet effective. It feels like it really would translate very, very well to screen. Which means, naturally, that I can’t watch it in a theater. Because I’ll be yelling at the screen for them not getting it right.

Pretty much the only critiques I have of Afterlife are little things. Like every time the villain appeared on screen, he was introduced by his ‘razor sharp cheekbones’. By halfway through, I was beginning to imagine if the man was made flesh, he could get a job being a real life Fruit Ninja with the power of his cheekbones alone.

Overall, Afterlife was a solid, entertaining read that I would definitely recommend!


Horrors! A Full Year of Horror #31

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

08/05/2017 – 08/11/2017


The horror short-short isn’t easy to master, but more than 100 of the genre’s critically acclaimed authors & hottest up-&-comers have taken a stab at it in Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, an anthology that contains a short tale for every day of the year. Steve Rasnic Tem, Wm F. Nolan, Tom Piccirilli, Yvonne Navarro, Peter Atkins, Brian Hodge, Martin Mundt & 166 others give you short, sharp shocks.

If you missed the first post you can find it here.

August is getting on. Just a few more weeks before the true horror begins…school. So, shall we get in a few more stories around the fire before the shades of fall are upon us?

Odd Jobs Jason A. Tanner

Chris Tanner has a job to do. He is to meet a certain woman at a certain time. She doesn’t know they will be meeting, nor what they’re meeting for. She is to be executed for crimes committed during a previous life, one hundred years ago.

Great story and an interesting idea. I think it would make a very good full-length novel and even, possibly, a series.

The Odor of SanctityWilliam Marden

On the day that two people are to be awakened from cryo-sleep in the future, something has gone wrong. very wrong. A man just awakened has gone insane, welts and burns spontaneously appearing on his body. The second to be awakened, a young girl with a then-inoperable tumour, lies sleeping peacefully. In her presence the cryo-team feels serenity and a calming, lovely smell. It is then that the cryo-team realizes their grave mistake. Would you tear a soul from paradise and would they be happy about it?

I’ve always loved this story. I’m not exactly religious but it certainly gives the imagination something to work on. Was the first man in Hell? Is that why his skin was scarred and he was crazy? It doesn’t really say but the difference in the two awakenings makes me think so.

On Spending the Night Alone in a Haunted House: A User’s GuideBruce Boston

A list of very strange and explicit set of instructions as to how to spend the night in a haunted house. If it drives you mad, so be it. That’s the risk you take when venturing into the unknown.

An entertaining, if bizarre list. The instructions seem to be a bit arbitrary. And odd. But I guess that’s what you get when you take instructions from a madman.

On the Panecraft TrainTom Piccirilli

A man out walking, looking for his ‘dog’ Topaz. As he walks he studies the possible ruin of the Panecraft Asylum. Meeting up with his brother they study the names of the dead and ride the Panecraft Train back into madness.

An…interesting story but a little odd. I read it twice and I’m still not sure if they’re former patients, escaped patients or ghosts. All are possible and it makes you wonder. It also makes me think of the Ozzy Osbourne song, ‘Crazy Train’.

One for the Road Judith Post

A man is doomed to take a ride in his ghostly Camaro each year. Cursed by the woman who’s husband he hit while drinking and driving he now wakes up once a year to prevent the same thing happening.

Great, great story. Well told and just all the way around excellent. Even though the man cursed well deserves his curse you eve feel sorry for him a bit as well.

One Romantic Evening… Greg McElhatton

A blind date between a vampire and a human isn’t going so well. He’s a bit boring and things take a downturn when he lunges for her neck. Good thing she has mace.

A pretty funny spoof on the ‘vampire tells his life story’ trope. And the mix up with the perfume and mace was a nice touch.

One WayHugh B. Cave

Up in the mountains there is a cave where people vanish without a trace. two local men are guiding a reporter to go see it. A reporter who doesn’t believe them. So of course he has to check for himself. Next time the guides better get their pay up front.

A funny little story. Short and to the point but a good story nonetheless.

Favorite of the Week:
Oh, this week is going to be a tough one to choose. So many good stories. I loved Odd Jobs by Jason Tanner. I think it would make an excellent series if done right. Or even just a stand-alone novel. The Odor of Sanctity by William Marden was very good, as well. I either remembered this story or another story uses the same theme. But that should show you the staying power of it as this year is the first time I’ve read this book in ages. One for the Road by Judith Post is a haunting (literally) story on the dangers of drinking and driving. But it’s told in such a way that the sympathy goes for almost everyone in the story, including the cursed driver. One Romantic Evening by Greg McElhatton was a funny spoof on blind dates and vampires.

Join us again next week for another round of scary tales told by candlelight Ok, computer light but it’s close!

This is Sci-Fi, Issue 16: The Dark Tower, Noumenon, and Acadie

The banner for the bi-weekly This is Sci-Fi post on Sci-Fi & Scary

This is Sci-Fi, Issue 16  is a sampling of science fiction news across the mediums. From movies to books, to real life, and any bits in between that I can think of to list. This is by no means a comprehensive list of what’s happening, but it should whet your appetite!

This is Sci-Fi’s Weekly Quote:

“A writer is very much like the captain on a star ship facing the unknown. When you face the blank page and you have no idea where you’re going. It can be terrifying, but it can also be the adventure of a lifetime.”
― Michael Piller

Science Fiction Movies

Opening This Week (August 4th):

Movie cover for The Dark TowerThe Dark Tower Synopsis: The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black

Starring: Idris ElbaMatthew McConaugheyTom Taylor

Runtime: 1 hr 35 minutes

Rating: PG 13

Watch the trailer on Youtube.




In Theaters Now

Spiderman: Homecoming

War for the Planet of the Apes (review)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Wonder Woman (review)

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Science Fiction Books

3 New Releases (July 19th – August 4th)

Book cover for A Man of Shadows

A Man of Shadows – Jeff Noon – August 1st, 2017

The brilliant, mind-bending return to science fiction by one of its most acclaimed visionaries

Below the neon skies of Dayzone – where the lights never go out, and night has been banished – lowly private eye John Nyquist takes on a teenage runaway case. His quest takes him from Dayzone into the permanent dark of Nocturna.

As the vicious, seemingly invisible serial killer known only as Quicksilver haunts the streets, Nyquist starts to suspect that the runaway girl holds within her the key to the city’s fate. In the end, there’s only one place left to search: the shadow-choked zone known as Dusk.

Book cover for Noumenon

Noumenon – Marina J. Lostetter – August 1st, 2017

In 2088, humankind is at last ready to explore beyond Earth’s solar system. But one uncertainty remains: Where do we go?

Astrophysicist Reggie Straifer has an idea. He’s discovered an anomalous star that appears to defy the laws of physics, and proposes the creation of a deep-space mission to find out whether the star is a weird natural phenomenon, or something manufactured.

The journey will take eons. In order to maintain the genetic talent of the original crew, humankind’s greatest ambition—to explore the furthest reaches of the galaxy—is undertaken by clones. But a clone is not a perfect copy, and each new generation has its own quirks, desires, and neuroses. As the centuries fly by, the society living aboard the nine ships (designated “Convoy Seven”) changes and evolves, but their mission remains the same: to reach Reggie’s mysterious star and explore its origins—and implications.

Book cover for Children of the Divide

Children of the Divide – Patrick S. Tomlinson – August 1st, 2017

No matter how far humanity comes, it can’t escape its own worst impulses…

A new generation comes of age eighteen years after humanity arrived on the colony planet Gaia. Now threats from both within and outside their Trident threaten everything they’ve built. The discovery of an alien installation inside Gaia’s moon, terrorist attacks and the kidnap of a man’s daughter stretch the community to breaking point, but only two men stand a chance of solving all three mysteries before the makeshift planetary government shuts everything down.

Goodreads Science Fiction Giveaways: (Some may be ending soon, so make sure you enter now if you’re interested.)

Book cover for Acadie

Book cover for Afterlife

The Empress






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The Sci-Fi Zone

Those Crazy, Crazy Kaiju

Kaiju are very cool, very big monsters. Looking up the literal translation it seems to translate as either “massive rock formation” or “strange beast”. I think the latter version is the particular translation we’re looking for. Strange Beasts are certainly what the traditional Kaiju are. Not only in size but in plot and their powers. Some are just downright weird. They’re fun, usually bizarre monsters that can either help or hinder (and by hinder I mean ‘squish’) humanity. So, I’ve picked a few of my favorites to share with you!

1. Godzilla: Probably one of the most famous of these monstrosities, literally having the title of ‘King of the Monsters’ and having fought most of the other big monsters. sometimes his actions are a bit ambiguous. Sometimes he’s the terror of Japan while later he’s more often portrayed in a protector role. American remakes have not been kind to poor Godzilla. To future Godzilla movie makers – More Godzilla! Less people. He is also the only one with the honour of having his own song: ‘Godzilla’ by The Blue Oyster Cult (“Oh, no, there goes Tokyo, go, go Godzilla! History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man, Godzilla!”).

2. Gamera: Truly the first Mutant Ninja Turtle, Gamera has a few…odd abilities. Abilities which include a blast from his stomach and the ability to pull his extremities into his shell and fly like a demented, deadly Frisbee. On one hand I’d love for my turtle to be able to do that. On the other hand I’m not sure how I’d like a careening, laser-shooting turtle flying about the living room. He also has fought his fair share of enemies but we have yet to see a Gamera vs. Godzilla match-up outside of a YouTube video.

3. Rodan: A flying pterodactyl type creature that looks like a cross between a pterodactyl and a dragon. His main features are his sonic waves and windstorms from the beating of it’s gigantic wings. He also made an appearance in Stephen King’s ‘IT’ as Mike Hanlon’s fear. This version of Rodan is a lot more bird-like.

4. Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster – A golden three-headed dragon from space. It’s evil presence propels Mothra into trying to negotiate peace between Godzilla and Rodan, in order to protect Earth. They’re quite uninterested. So, Mothra bravely faces the golden beast alone but eventually Godzilla and Rodan put aside their differences (temporarily) to help Mothra out. Combined, they overwhelm Ghidora and save the world. While I can’t remember Ghidorah’s exact abilities but he’s pretty cool looking and that makes up for a lot!

5. Mothra: One of the few outright stated female Kaiju, Mothra awakens because an evil villain has kidnapped the tiny little women who sing to Mothra to lull it to sleep. After they are kidnapped, despite their warnings, Mothra awakens from it’s cocoon. Godzilla also shows up briefly near the end.

Tiny singing women, golden three-headed dragons, Godzilla and a princess whom is possessed by a martian. How can you not love these movies? Yes, they’re cheesy. But at least you can actually see the monsters. Because really, in regards to giant monster movies, the latest Godzilla was a cut-off, dark, disappointment. Next time we want to see the monsters. I’d even pay more for an excellent (well-lit) Ghidorah movie with the three (or four if they decide to include Gamera)monster brawl without all of the unnecessary human drama.

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Horrors! A Full Year of Horror #17

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror
4/22/2017 – 4/28/2017

The horror short-short isn’t easy to master, but more than 100 of the genre’s critically acclaimed authors & hottest up-&-comers have taken a stab at it in Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, an anthology that contains a short tale for every day of the year. Steve Rasnic Tem, Wm F. Nolan, Tom Piccirilli, Yvonne Navarro, Peter Atkins, Brian Hodge, Martin Mundt & 166 others give you short, sharp shocks.

If you missed the first post you can find it here.

So snuggle deep in your beds while I tell you a bedtime story.  Don’t worry, you won’t have nightmares. I promise.


Continue reading “Horrors! A Full Year of Horror #17”