Reviews

Indiescififantasy (aka – me) isn’t very good at writing reviews, and I have therefore been talking to some up and coming reviewers who have given me permission to display snippets of their reviews. I only host the sample – any clicks on the title will take you to the reviewers website. If you are a reviewer on Indie fantasy and sci-fi books and would like to share your reviews, please contact michelle@indiescififantasy.com

 

 

 

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Iris by Andrew Gates

Iris by Andrew Gates

My Review

Iris is a character driven story that takes place entirely in the depths of the ocean. The last of mankind fled to the bottom of the sea after the land became too toxic for human survival. It begins with an explorative expedition with two navy personnel, charged with the task of testing out a new submarine, and I have to confess to being drawn into Iris midway through this first chapter.

Reading on, I found the pacing in the next few chapters rather slow, and very nearly put the book in my DNF (did not finish) folder. A good friend of mine loved this book though, so I persevered, skipping through the parts that I didn’t think really added anything to the story (mainly backstory and excess exposition, plus one whole chapter that could quite easily have been cut out with no detriment to the worldbuilding or characterisation). But, I’m glad I stuck with Iris because it really is a very good story.

It’s multi-pov, providing different perspectives and experiences of the people living in the underground habitat. Iris, of course, is the main pov character, and through her, our eyes are opened to the society around her (and the others). In many ways, there is little difference to the kind of society we know, but being underwater requires a more totalitarian style government. What may come across as necessary rules to some, is seen as oppression by others. As events unfold, and discoveries are made, it challenges everything these characters think they might know about their past, present. and potential future.

Iris is a page turner (once I was past the earlier chapters) and I honestly had a hard time putting it down in the latter part of the book and right up to the end. There are plenty of twists and turns and surprises, and I, for one, am looking forward to reading the second book in this series: Kholvaria

 

 

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Stormhaven Rising by Eric Michael Craig

Stormhaven Rising by Eric Michael Craig

My Review

I should begin this review by saying that I am totally fascinated by the whole ‘asteroid heading to Earth’ concept. I’ve watched numerous films and read every work of fiction I can featuring asteroids in this very scenario, so when Stormhaven Rising was recommended to me, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Stormhaven Rising isn’t a rehashed ‘Hollywood saves the world’ type story. It has science – real science – and dispels many of the myths we have seen on the big screen. It had an interesting start and was quick to set up the basics of the story and introduce some key characters, and of course the science. I’m not very knowledgeable about advanced science (anything beyond what is taught general science in high school), so when reading a hard sci-fi, I tend to prefer the plot over the science, but in the same respect, I like to learn new things. I certainly learned a lot from reading Stormhaven Rising and for the most part, understood it.

The crux of this story is the government trying to keep knowledge of the oncoming asteroid out of the public domain, and Colton Taylor, an industrialist with seeming unlimited resources, trying to do the exact opposite. I found the character dynamics interesting for the most part. There were parts that went aover my head, or went on for a little longer than I felt necessary, but overall, I enjoyed the story.

This is the first book in the Atlas and the Winds series gives an insight into how the powers that be may react in such a situation versus those who believe people have a right to know.

If you enjoy hard sci-fi, then I would certainly recommend added Stormhaven Rising to your ‘to be read’ list.

 

 

 

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Fragmented by Madeline Dyer

Fragmented by Madeline Dyer

My review:

Fragmented is the second book in Madeline Dyer’s Untamed series. It picks up where the first left off, and charts the progress of Seven and Corin, amongst others.

I have to say, while I ‘liked’ Untamed, the first book in the series, I absolutely loved Fragmented. Not only do the stakes introduced in the first book continue, but Seven (and Corin) have a whole new set of problems to deal with, and it’s hard to see how they can beat any of them. Madeline Dyer, in my opinion, has a definite skill in keeping a reader on their toes. Just when I thought the book was heading in one direction, it went in another, though not without warning. The foreshadowing is very skillfully done.

I think one of the strengths of this book, is that it is ‘next’ in a series. The characters, setting, and the main conflict has already been established, which allows Dyer to build and develop on already introduced themes and relationships (which throwing more into the mix).

There are several new characters in Fragmented, a couple of whom I really didn’t like (which, I believe, was the intention), but necessary for the overall story arc. I enjoyed learning more about Seven and watching her relationship with Corin develop, though the odds were very much against them.

I would highly – highly – recommend this book (although I would advise reading Untamed so you can appreciate the depth of this world), and cannot wait to read book three.

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First Contact by Dawn Chapman (Review)

First Contact by Dawn Chapman (Review)

First Contact is the second book in Dawn Chapman’s science fiction series, The Secret King and continues to chart the progress of the Aonise as they search for a new home. Their journey – so far – has been fraught with danger, and at times, some close calls, but salvation is in sight.

Planet Earth could offer the Aonise a chance to resettle and put the trauma of their escape from Lethao behind them. Their ships aren’t in the best of shape, food is running low, and as if that wasn’t enough, secrets are becoming harder to conceal.

If you’ve read Lethao and thought it a fast-paced, action-filled ‘ride’, then you had better make sure you are buckled in for First Contact. It is an exciting read, exploring not only the politics and power dynamics of the Aonise but the hierarchy of power we are more familiar with on Planet Earth.

First Contact is a soft sci-fi/space opera, focusing on the lives of the characters we met in Lethao as well as introducing some new ones. The writing, as always, moves the story at a good pace, using a balance of narration and dialogue to keep the reader up to speed with events.

Events are alternated from two perspectives in the early stages of the book. The reader is given a chance to catch-up with the Aonise’ progress while introducing Earth-based characters. The question of whether they are alone in the universe is finally answered, and more to the point, how they intend to deal with the uninvited guests.

I really enjoyed this book. For me, it had all the elements of space opera that I like – distinct characters, lots of conflicts, twists and turns, and a scenario I could never get bored of reading. My only criticism is that it does have a sharper ending than Lethao, but if I’m honest with myself, at this point, I’m wholly invested in the characters so shall await book three with eager anticipation.

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Dangerous Ways (The Books of Winter #1) by R.R.Virdi

Dangerous Ways (The Books of Winter #1) by R.R.Virdi

My review:

Dangerous Ways is the first book in a new series from the Dragon award-nominated finalist R.R.Virdi. You do not need to have read either Grave Beginnings or Grave Measures to follow this story, although if you have, there are some Easter eggs in Dangerous Ways that may well bring a smile to your face.

It is clear from the onset that Jonathan Hawthorne is no ordinary man: ‘When I stood here well over a hundred years ago, Longacre Square was the center of New York’s carriage industry. Today, Times Square was a colored pinwheel caught in a blizzard.’ From the very first line, my interest was piqued, and as is normal for one of R.R.Virdi’s books, I was invested in the characters, plot, and story by the end of the first chapter.

Story: Jonathan Hawthorne lives outside time and is governed by one very strict rule: do not meddle in mortal affairs. Unfortunately, he’s already broken this rule – twice – and when he meets Cassidy Winters, he interferes again.

Chased by unknown adversaries, through distinct and dangerous lands, Jonathan seeks to find the answers to Cassidy’s questions, and a few of his own.

Characters: Despite his rule breaking, Jonathan isn’t a rebel. He is honourable, loyal, and an all-round decent man, although that is not to say he doesn’t have his ‘moments’ or secrets. In taking the non-typical damsel-in-distress under his wing, he brings danger upon himself. For a man who has lived for over a hundred years, this could be construed as a little naïve, but his heart in the right place. The question is, will a good heart be enough to see him through the challenges ahead?

Cassie, on the other hand, is snarky, quick-witted, and has survived her ordeal – so far – but the world of the Neravene is dangerous. Slipping through ‘the cracks of reality’ isn’t the best way to do things, as Jonathan makes quite clear: ‘One didn’t open a Way and not know where they were going.’

There is a multitude of supporting characters in Dangerous Ways, and they come in all shapes, sizes and egos; some are good, some not so good. In true form to his writing style, R.R.Virdi keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, and just when you think you ‘know’ someone, well, it turns out that you don’t – not always, anyway.

Summary: R.R.Virdi has a strong grasp of the structure and techniques that work to assist story telling. The first couple of paragraphs blend scene setting with backstory, but it is done in such a way as to create a hook: a hundred-year-plus old man, in modern day New York, okay, and he’s being sentenced for something – cool – but for what? R.R.Virdi doesn’t tell us, though he hints at the consequences being severe. No, the author leaves the reader to ponder while he moves on to a touch of character interaction – and in doing so drops another breadcrumb of intrigue – and we’re not even halfway down the first page yet.

It is a formula that works for R.R.Virdi, allowing his story, characters, and the world of the Neravene to come to life, and I for one, cannot wait for the next installment.

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Guilty by Association by E.A.Copen

Guilty by Association by E.A.Copen

Everything’s bigger in Texas…Including the monsters. When a young werewolf is murdered on the Paint Rock Supernatural Reservation, the local cops think it’s a drug deal gone bad. BSI agent Judah Black knows better. An occult expert, she knows magick is at work from the beginning. Using only her wits, knowledge of the supernatural and her limited magickal abilities, she must untangle a web of cover-ups and lies before the killer finds his next victim.

My Review:

Guilty by Association opens at the scene of a murder of a young werewolf. Judah Black, a federal employee, newly moved onto the supernatural reservation in Texas (populated by werewolves, vampires, and other Fae), is sent to investigate. Not only does Black have a murderer to hunt down, she has to navigate the residents pre-conceptions of her, many of whom have chips on their shoulders. That doesn’t deter Judah in the slightest. She is a strong character in her own right, with her own back story, personal problems to deal with, and she just isn’t one for putting up with any nonsense.

I really enjoyed this book. The sample grabbed my attention, and as the story unfolded and I got to know the characters, I was engaged with the rest of the story. I liked the depth to this book, not only with the plot that transpired through this book, but with the promise of more in future books. Relationships were explored, challenges met head-on, and it was far from predictable. There were plenty of twists, turns, and surprises along the way.

I certainly intend to follow the rest of this series and can see myself reading a lot more urban fantasy in the future.

 

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