Reviews 3

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(Reviews by Joshua Grant and Nathan Bauman)

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Aren’t You Tired

Cody Taylor

Rating: 4 Shrimps!

Are you itching for a fight?  Maybe you walked off the set of a beat em up action flick?  Then The Rebellion wants you!  Join Sebastian, a tough talking smart joking soldier, as he battles the First Sons, a futuristic totalitarian regime with a thing for torture.  Aren’t You Tired by Cody Taylor is an action packed romp through a dark future that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Taylor has a gift for description (sometimes painfully so when it comes to the torture scenes) and the action was well placed and clear.  I enjoyed seeing Sebastian’s kick arse style and fun witticisms as he took on the grotesque First Sons in his quest to rescue prisoners.  The story takes a surprising detour as Sebastian bonds with one of the kids he rescues, a more heartfelt moment to break up the relentless action.  The narrator style challenged me a bit as the narrator was almost a character and broke the fourth wall here and there, but this was only a minor distraction to an otherwise good story.

I’d recommend Aren’t You Tired to fans of Die Hard or The Hunger Games.


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The Halcyon Dislocation

Peter Kazmaier

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

The universe is infinite, an infinite number of possibilities, times, and dimensions that are coiled together in what we might call reality.  But when we are displaced from our own reality and shot into another, how might we react?  What might we discover?  This is exactly what Peter Kazmaier attempts to answer in The Halcyon Dislocation.

After a mysterious explosion and an experiment gone wrong, the university island of Halcyon is transported to a strange other world.  Kazmaier blends a mixture of fast paced action with philosophical and scientific descriptions and discussions as main character David and fellow survivors explore their new surroundings.  I’m instantly pleasantly reminded of sci fi classics like Planet of the Apes or Lost in Space.  It was fun to see what strange creatures or landscapes the explorers would discover next, all while getting some interesting views on society.  I look forward to seeing what new adventures await in the Halcyon series!

I’d definitely recommend this to any fans of Heinlein or Asimov.


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A Devil of a Time

Gretchen Jeannette

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

The end of 18th century America and the start of the United States was a turbulent time to say the least.  Strained and occasionally violent relations between colonial settlers and American Indians.  Human rights issues over slavery and the treatment of women.  And then there was the minor hiccup of an all out war with the largest empire to ever grace the Earth.  Throw in a splash of romance, and a healthy dose of action and you get Gretchen Jeannette’s A Devil of a Time.

I was stricken by Jeannette’s ability to bring a long dead time period to life.  Her characters were realistic and actually felt like they existed in the late 1700s.  There was Andrew Wade, a timid military man broken by an early trauma.  Clarice Wade (my favorite) the bold wife of Andrew who the story hinges on.  And Niall, the enigmatic war weary shell of a man.  All are trying to navigate the turbulent sea that was the Revolutionary War and post war transition.  The way Jeannette wove the narrative of the time through the lives of these three was both masterful and gripping and I can’t wait to see what period she tackles next!

I’d recommend this to any lovers of American history or films like The Patriot.


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Phoenix: Book One of the Peradon Fantasy Series

Daccari Buchelli

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

Do you ever wonder what it would be like if the four seasons became physical beings?  Would they make war on each other, or perhaps fall in love?  In Daccari Buchelli’s Phoenix this is almost the case.  The world has been split into four magical kingdoms that embody the four seasons.  War, assassinations, royal plots, and magic are all commonplace and young Princess Violetta must contend with them all.

Violetta’s journey is a complicated one.  She must contend with a difficult and mysterious death in the family while simultaneously navigating the realms of love and a turbulent political climate.  Buchelli has a good handle on description and story flow and seamlessly brings the characters to life in a way that keeps the story interesting.  I enjoyed my time with Phoenix and look forward to seeing what the rest of the series has to offer.


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Zombie Turkeys

Andy Zach

Rating: 4 Shrimps!

Have you ever seen Thankskilling?  If you haven’t yet, don’t, it’s absolutely terrible.  It attempted to meld the concept of horror films with turkeys with a smidge of humor as the glue, but let’s just say it failed miserably (honestly, no audience could possibly gobble that up).  Fortunately, being no stranger to reanimating corpses, Andy Zach succeeded in that department.  Zach’s Zombie Turkeys (yes seriously…sort of) was a lot of fun and involved, you guessed it, the zombie apocalypse…but with turkeys.

Zombie Turkeys follows a myriad of distraught survivors as they’re faced with the unthinkable.  Sam and Lisa battle their way across a corpse infested Illinois.  The fun part about the book comes from the absolute absurdity of it all, and the fact that the turkey (our patient zero in the flesh, light or dark meat your choice) gets his own perspective chapters that added a uniqueness to the classic trope.  All around a fun romp through a near future where turkeys get their just revenge and survivors serve up some rotted carcasses with a healthy dose of stuffing!


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Codex of Light

E.P. Stein

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

I’m a huge fan of Dungeons and Dragons.  I remember the days (sometimes literally) when I was in college rolling a D20 and wondering what new adventure might spring upon me.  The world was ancient and filled with exotic and often dangerous creatures.  There were different cultures to explore and magical relics to find.  That same sense of familiar wonder was bestowed upon me by E.P. Stein’s Codex of Light.

The thing that stood out to me the most in Codex was the characters, especially the interaction between Dallet and Torak.  Dallet was tasked with a perilous mission, transporting the enigmatic Codex to the academy at the distant Brass Gates.  Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for us adventure goers) his mission doesn’t go quite smoothly.  He finds himself captured and put in the thrall of Torak, a harsh master (I’d call him inhumane, but he’s not human).  This is exactly where the story gets really good.  The journey of the characters adds a great deal of depth to the adventure, as does the mystery of the Codex itself (especially since Dallet was told not to read it).  I won’t go on to say anything more for fear of spoiling it, but any fan of R.A. Salvador will be right at home here.


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Secrets of Greenoak Woods

Brenda Davies

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

It was a different time and a different place, a time of bonesetters and wild love in the woods.  The 1800s were a little more wild, yet flush with that little string of humanity we all know still to this day.  Brenda Davies’ Secrets of Green Oak Woods is rife with mystery and interesting realistic characters, but also that thread of humanity that makes this novel worth a look.

Davies’ characters really brought the world of the past to life for me.  Whether it was the enigmatic and troubled Benjamin, the steadfast Mary, or the somewhat boisterous and fun Bonesetter, I was always entertained or intrigued.  This was a powerful story of love, family, suffering, and triumph, but it’s not for the faint of heart.  Davies describes marvelously well, and there are some tense and hard truths she tackles in there that might make some readers squirm.  It’s very much worth checking out (just don’t sign me up for a dental session with the Bonesetter)!


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Rifter: Traitors at Teteris

Jason Kent

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

Space, the final frontier.  These are the voyages of the…oh, it’s not that kind of novel?  Rifter: Traitors at Teteris by Jason Kent is a grittier dive through the cosmos more akin to Firefly with a splash of Star Wars.  Kent’s writing is action-packed and reminds me of the films I used to love watching as a kid.

Enter the Rift, a somewhat chaotic expanse of space filled with scavengers and deadly aliens.  We follow Captain Travis and his partner in crime, a shapeshifting alien named Shay.  I personally loved Shay and the snarky and witty interaction between her and Travis as they bungled through missions.  After discovering a derelict vessel and rescuing Nia, its lone survivor, their lives are thrown into turmoil as they uncover a plot with greater consequences to the Rift at large.  The mystery, the action, and the characters made this one a great page turner for me!


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You Only Live Once

Haris Orkin

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

The name’s Bond, James Bond…er, I mean Flynn, James Flynn.  Haris Orkin’s super spy protagonist in You Only Live Once is everything James Bond is—suave, smooth talking, charming, confident, and good at his job—but James Flynn is something Bond isn’t: deep.

When I first started reading You Only Live Once, I had a lot of fun with the simplistic throwback to the classic Bond films I always loved (and still love) watching.  But very quickly the story takes a surprising twist.  I won’t reveal what that is, because that’s all part of the fun, but I was genuinely surprised at how Orkin could take something so surface level like a Bondish story and blend it with a more meaningful narrative, all without ever losing the fun.  If anyone asks me if I’ll read anything from Orkin in the future, I’ll give them a big Dr. Yes!


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Songs of Insurrection

J.C. Kang

Rating: 5 Shrimps!

I used to love playing Dungeons and Dragons back in the day, but one thing I always forgot to include in the game was the dragons ironically.  Fortunately for me, J.C. Kang has just the remedy with his Songs of Insurrection, the first in the Dragon Songs series.

This series is instantly fresh as it creates a unique fantasy world based more on Eastern philosophy and traditions.  I also really enjoyed Songs of Insurrection’s system of magic.  Magic is drawn from music, and using it comes with a price.  It drains its user and signals other magic users at the same time.  Our main character Princess Kaiya must contend with this as she faces off with the dreadful dragon Avarax and stop an impending attack on her kingdom.  In addition to having a kick butt female main character, all of Kang’s characters are well rounded and relatable, and the action is gripping and well paced.  All around a solid read if you’re looking for your healthy dose of dragons for your fantasy.


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