Skip to content

Book Spotlight: Shadows Collide by Dan Levinson

Book Spotlight: Shadows Collide by Dan Levinson published on No Comments on Book Spotlight: Shadows Collide by Dan Levinson

Shadows Collide cover

About This Book

The Orion Psi Corps is in shambles, the dead still being counted. And though Orion’s retaliation has begun, Calchis isn’t finished yet.

New Axom City—that’s where Nyne Allen has taken refuge in the wake of his desertion from Orion. Soon, it will become a battlefield, as forces from both sides barrel toward a collision that will change the world forever.

Meanwhile, in the Far East, Aaron Waverly learns the truth behind the red-robed man, and discovers a destiny that might one day spell the end of the world as he knows it.

Excerpt

1.

JANE DOE

Date Unknown

Location Unknown

 

1.
JANE DOE
Date Unknown
Location Unknown

The air was on fire.

As the blaze embraced her, she raised her hands, shielded her eyes; the billows of flame engulfed her as she screamed her defiance. The world blinked shut, like an eye closing, and when it opened once more, she saw faces, murmuring alarm. She tried to tell them they should leave her be, let her die in peace, her body still ablaze as if subsumed in the inferno. Yet before she could speak, wings of darkness enveloped her, carried her into oblivion.

When she surfaced again, she saw glaring lights.

She lay upon a gurney, moving swiftly through florescent-lit halls, the acrid stench of burned hair like a halo around her. Again, faces peered at her, their voices a low babble, distorted, as if through a tunnel. When a sudden movement jarred her, she howled, her vocal cords raw, like pulverized meat. Even the air rushing by tormented her.

What had happened?

She glanced about, eyes rolling, unable to move her head. A sign loomed above: Burn Ward. Another jolt shook her, and an animal sound escaped her throat as she lapsed again into unconsciousness.


She awoke in a white, sterile room, and for a moment thought she was somewhere familiar. But the hospital room was only an echo of a place she couldn’t quite recall, the memory slipping from her like sand through a sieve. She shifted in her bed, gasped, and only then looked down at her arms and hands, covered in bandages, the rest of her hidden beneath a thin, tan wool blanket. She could feel where those bandages compressed her flesh, chafed her raw throat, her belly, breasts, legs, and feet.

To her left, she saw a morphine drip, but could not reach it, the effort of moving her arm more than she could bear. She tried to cry for help, but now her voice came only in croaks and whimpers. She was trapped in her scorched body, no one to help her, while machines and monitors mocked her with ceaseless beeping.

A male nurse walked by the room, peered through the door’s glass pane, and she met his eyes, silently begging him for aid. He ran off, and for those next interminable minutes, each second seemed to her a test of will simply to exist. An inner voice told her to be strong, that she could make it through this, and she clung to it, the vague notion that she could endure all that she had. Mentally, she counted, One, two, three, four, five, those numbers like a life raft, though she did not know why.

At last, the doctor arrived—an austere, dark-haired man in a white coat, his eyes gauging her behind silver-framed glasses. She could read the pity on his face. “My name is Dr. Shipley,” he said. “You’ve been involved in a very bad accident. I don’t mean to alarm you, but you’ve suffered third degree burns over sixty percent of your body. Do you understand?”

She tried to nod while her mind processed. An accident? Of course. How else could she have ended up like this?

“How’s the pain?” Shipley asked. “I can increase the painkillers if you—”

“Hurts,” she rasped, her voice like sandpaper.

Shipley adjusted the morphine. “Your esophagus is damaged, from inhaling superheated air. I’ll ask a couple more questions, but keep your answers to one or two words. After that, no talking. Okay?”

She nodded again as the painkillers entered her system, making her woozy.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

She opened her mouth to reply, then closed it, the answer elusive. The pain had so consumed her that, until now, she hadn’t realized the details of her life were whispers and shadows lurking in unseen corners of her mind. She couldn’t remember her name, nor the accident, nor anything else. She choked back a sob, the force of it stabbing at her injured body.

“You don’t know?” Shipley asked.

Feebly, she shook her head.

“Well,” Shipley said, “given the trauma you’ve been through, it’s not unheard of. Unfortunately, when you were found, you had no identification, and your hands are too badly burned for us to take fingerprints. But don’t worry. When you’ve had the chance to recover, I’m sure it’ll come back to you.” He offered her a reassuring smile.

She knew he was trying to comfort her, and so restrained the urge to tell him to go fuck himself. Don’t worry too much? What kind of advice was that?

“Is the pain still bad?” he asked her. He fiddled with the drip again, and the room grew hazy, indistinct, before she could manage a word.

When she opened her eyes, the room was dark, all shapes indistinct save the colors on the monitor feeds. Burning, throbbing blanketed her. She rolled her head to the side, saw that the window shade lay slightly open, revealing the lights of an unfamiliar city—the greens and reds of traffic signals, the whites of far-off windows, the myriad colors of illuminated billboards. She had no idea where she was.

Despairing, she wept, and as the grief shuddered through her, it ignited her body anew, though she could do nothing to stem her tears. “Why?” she murmured. What sin had she committed that she was being punished so? “Why did this happen?” She didn’t care that she was not supposed to speak, for hearing her own voice reassured her; it was an anchor, even if it was a whisper.

And that was what she had become, she realized. A shadow of her former self.

A whisper.

 

About the Author

51tHGgkCExL._UX250_Dan Levinson is a NY-based writer of speculative fiction. Trained as an actor at NYU’s Tisch School of Arts, he also writes for the stage and screen. He grew up immersing himself in fantastical worlds, and now creates them. In addition to the Psionic Earth series, he is also the author of the upcoming YA fantasy novel The Ace of Kings, first book of The Conjurer’s Cycle.
.
.

Author Links

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

608_zps65k1agtz

Book Tour + Giveaway: The Five Warriors by Angela J. Ford

Book Tour + Giveaway: The Five Warriors by Angela J. Ford published on No Comments on Book Tour + Giveaway: The Five Warriors by Angela J. Ford

TFW front cover 6

About the Book

Title: The Five Warriors
Author: Angela J. Ford
Genre: YA Fantasy
What if…

  • your best friend started a rebellion in the middle of a war?
  • your lover awakened a deep evil and helped it grow?
  • your people were too cowardly to face a battle?
  • you stole an ancient power source?
  • you gambled with the fate of the world?

Join five powerful warriors each with a unique ability and magical weapons. Their quest is to discover where the transformed creatures are coming from and put a stop to it.

Along the way they run into treacherous immortals, sea monsters, powerful beasts of the air and talking animals.

Each has their own reasoning for joining the quest, but one carries a deadly secret which just might be the destruction of them all.

Interview with a Character

Interview with Marklus

Excerpt

Starman stood at the shore of the great Dejewla Sea and stared at the enormity of the swaying body of liquid. The water shone like sapphires, beckoning him to crawl into its watery graves and swim and dive as if he were a child of aqua. Waves rippled across the surface but any animals that used to dwell near the Sea had long since disappeared. He could smell the richness of the soil as the plants close to the water stretched their roots deep, bloating themselves on saltless seawater.

Alaireia, on the other hand, had already dropped her pack of supplies and was loosening the black belt that carried her long sword. “It’s good we’re camping here for a time,” she was saying, sitting on a fallen log to unstrap her black boots as Starman continued to be captivated by the Sea. “I, for one, would like one last swim before we enter the desert. Swift claims it is a dry, barren place.”

“It smells like dead fish,” Starman said, wrinkling his nose.

“Starman?”Alaireia asked, standing barefoot on the shore. “Are you coming for a swim?”

“Oh.” Starman’s face turned red. “I…I…uh…”

Alaireia laughed as she waded into the water to see how it felt. “The water is fine!”

“Uh…” Starman turned to go, almost tripping over his feet. “I’ll go downstream with the others,” he stammered.

“Wait, Starman,”Alaireia called. He turned around, still blushing, but she stood knee high in the water, staring into it. “What did you say it smelt like?”

Starman opened his mouth to reply when something leaped out of the water, snatchingAlaireia and dragging her under. “Fish! Crinte!” Starman shouted all at once. “Help! The fish have Alaireia!” He drew his sword and ran to the waterside, but all was still again. Eyes like saucers, he ran back to the trees. “Crinte! Marklus! Swift! Hurry!” he yelled.

He ran back to the Sea only to shout and leap back in surprise as a monster surged out of the water, its long, brown-spotted tentacles waving in every direction. Along the length of eachtentacle suction holes moved in and out as if the creature were breathing in air and water at the same time. Its round head had barely emergedbut it was the center of the tentacles with two, horrifyingly large, ink black eyes. Starman could see a mirror black image of himself drowning in the sticky elixir of those eyes and immediately leaned over to vomit in a bush. As he wiped his mouth on the back on his hand he saw Alaireia, wrapped in one of the sucking tentacles. It was one of the most beautiful and terrifying sights he had ever seen as she rose with the creature, streaming with now muddied water. Her black hair hung long and her shoulders were bare as she gripped the tentacle in both arms, her face a mass of concentrated fury as she struggled for release.

“Alaireia!” Starman yelled, dashing into the water with his sword raised. A tentacle reached out for him and he slashed at it, ripping it open and causing black blood to leak out. Starman almost gagged as the stench of decaying fish overwhelmed him in the water. Despite it he moved closer to the great creature. It towered above him, lifting Alaireia higher into the air. Starman slashed at the next tentacle that tried to capture him, but ultimately failed as one wrapped its slimy length around him and hugged his body uncomfortably close. Still waving his sword, he proceeded to chop at the thick length that held him, but the creature was unforgiving. It reared its head even further out of the water, displaying a wide gaping mouth. It opened it and roared.

About the Author

_Q7B3624

Angela J. Ford is an imaginative and entertaining writer who creates stories of fanciful worlds that enable young adults to confidently believe in possibilities and overcome differences to be stronger together.

Born in Ann Arbor, MI, and raised in Alabaster, AL, she moved to Nashville, TN, where she currently resides, to pursue a degree in Music Business at Belmont University.

Although her career has not been largely focused on creative writing, it has been an integral part of her lifestyle. Brought up as a bookworm and musician, she began writing The Four Worlds, a fantasy action, adventure series at the age of 12. The storyline of those books was largely based off of creative games she played with her sisters.

Originally finished when she was 16, after college, Angela began to re-write the Four Worlds Series, bringing it from a child’s daydream to an adventure young and old alike can enjoy. Inspired by fairy tales, high magic and epic fantasy, you’ll enjoy your adventures within the Four Worlds.

If you happen to be in Nashville, you’ll mostly likely find her at a local coffee shop, enjoying a white chocolate mocha and furiously working on her next book. Make sure you say hello!

Links

Purchase at Amazon
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Pinterest

fivewarriorsbanner

 

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

tourhostbutton2

Book Blitz: The Divide by EJ Mellow + Giveaway

Book Blitz: The Divide by EJ Mellow + Giveaway published on No Comments on Book Blitz: The Divide by EJ Mellow + Giveaway

25280890

The Divide by E.J. Mellow
(Dreamland #2)
Publication date: October 15th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult

About the Book

Molly finally uncovers the truth about the strange dreams that plagued her sanity for weeks. Now destined to accept a clandestine role, Molly must find the strength and courage buried deep to push forward and succeed.

With the help of Dev, the roguish blue-eyed man of her dreams—whose dark past resurfaces to haunt him—Molly prepares to test the limits of her newly awakened powers and set right a world on the edge of being consumed by nightmares.

But when an unknown shadow stalks her every step and a shocking revelation about her ancestry comes to light, Molly may find herself forced to make a decision that could leave her alone in the dark and standing on the wrong side of a divide.

Don’t miss The Divide—the heart-thumping second installment in The Dreamland Series.

Goodreads

Purchase
Amazon
B&N

TheDivideBlitzBanner1

Excerpt

Clapping echoes in the room, and I glance up to find Dev casually leaning against the wall next to the door. His eyes are narrowed with appraisal, and his mouth is half-cocked in his signature amused smile. “Impressive,” he says as he pushes off the wall and slowly walks toward us. His sudden appearance and graceful saunter rock me out of my fighting mind-set. I take in his broad shoulders and the way his shirt hugs him like a jealous girlfriend.

Letting go of Rae, I tuck strands of hair that fell from my ponytail behind my ear, suddenly aware of how sweaty I am.

“Thanks.”

“I’d like to see what you could do against a real opponent,” he says with a smirk, crossing his arms. The stance calls attention to his biceps, the same ones I once found myself mortifyingly squeezing.

I leer at him. “And I’m sure you think you’re said opponent?”

“There’s only one way to find out.”

Rae fluidly stands from his fall and drapes an arm around me. “Molly here is a natural.”

I snort out a laugh. “And I’m sure retaining past Dreamers’ abilities has nothing to do with it.”

“Don’t be so modest.” He squeezes my shoulder.

“Have you practiced with any weapons yet?” Dev moves toward an empty wall in the center of the room. Placing a hand on it, the area drops out, revealing a rack of diverse armament. There’s an abundance of blades, and my eyes pause on two hook swords, knowing how they feel in my grip, before traveling on to the axes, clubs, daggers, unusual looking guns, and blunt staffs. Here is where Dev stands, taking out two Bō—a Japanese long staff weapon. Somehow I know all the names and uses of these objects, except for some of the guns. Those remain foreign.

The only difference with these weapons and the ones I’d find at home is the material in which they are made—the same strange gunmetal aluminum as the Arcus. And if my memories from past Dreamers are anything to go by, they can be filled with an altered form of Navitas, making them glow the hot blue-white, and lethal toward any opponent.

“I was saving that part of the training for later,” Rae explains soberly.

“Where’s the fun in that?” Dev asks, handling the Bō naturally as he walks back to us. “She seems to have grasped her hand-to-hand combat for today. Why not finish with a little sparring?”

“See what I mean about the tough teacher,” Rae mutters to me.

“What do you say, Molly? Care to give me a go?” Dev taunts, holding one Bō while twirling the other.

I narrow my eyes and extend a hand. “I know I won’t hear the end of it until I do.”
He gives me one of his sexy grins while throwing me the staff. I snatch it from the air, immediately knowing I’ve been trained in the art of bōjutus.

I smile back.

Oh, it’s on.

As if reading my thoughts and without any further warning, Dev sweeps toward me. His intense blue eyes are the last things I register before my mind switches off and I lunge back.

About the Author

I’m the author behind the NA Contemporary Fantasy trilogy The Dreamland Series. When I’m not busy moonlighting in the realm of make-believe, I can be found doodling, buried in a book (usually this one), or playing video games.

Author Links

Website
Instagram
Facebook
Twitter

GIVEAWAY

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL) offered up by the author, EJ Mellow.
a Kindle Fire HD6 + ebook copies of The Dreamer & The Divide!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ButtonXBT (2)

Review: Fires of Man by Dan Levinson

Review: Fires of Man by Dan Levinson published on No Comments on Review: Fires of Man by Dan Levinson

Fires of Man cover

About This Book

Supposedly the war between Calchis and Orion ended decades ago. But upon reporting to an isolated Orion army base for basic training, Private Stockton Finn learns the war still rages; only the weapons have changed, and Finn has been selected to become one of them.

Across the border, Calchan farm boy Aaron Waverly learns how determined his country is to win the war when he is abducted by a sinister government operative known as Agent. Trapped and learning to use deadly powers he’s never before imagined, Aaron struggles to reconcile his ephemeral faith with his harsh new reality.

As the two nations hurtle toward a resurgence of open hostilities, Finn and Aaron, Agent, and two Orion officers and former lovers—Nyne Allen and Kay Barrett—must prepare themselves for the inevitable clash. Meanwhile, Calchan archaeologist Dr. Faith Santia unearths a massive lost temple in the frozen tundra far to the north, which hints that the brewing conflict may only be the first of their worries…

Excerpt

1.
AGENT
He ran toward the edge of the cliff.

The sun beat down upon him as his limbs pumped. Earth crunched beneath his feet, and a breeze blew across his black-stubbled scalp. His breathing was calm, meticulously measured.

When the ground slipped away, he felt only anticipation.

Plummeting, the man inhaled. Power flooded into him, thrilling, delicious. He reached out with that power, warping reality with an energy born from the depths of his being. Suddenly . . .

He winked out of existence . . .

And then reappeared at the base of the cliff.

Ahead lay a farmstead, suffused in noontime light. Past its assorted buildings—barns and silos, stables and chicken coops—a field of wheat swayed like the hair of some sleeping giant.

It would burn soon.

Through his years of service, he’d been called many things: “raven”; “hellhound”; “black-hearted bastard.” There was but one epithet that mattered—the one he’d earned with blood, and devotion.

He was “Agent.”

A man with no name. A man who owed his nation everything.

Just then, he spotted his quarry—a teenage farmhand named Aaron Waverly. The boy had power—strong power, according to the readings.

Agent dashed toward the farm; dry winds kicked dirt and debris over his steel-toed boots. The expanse of greenery blurred past. He moved swift as a shooting star, his power saturating him with speed and strength.

When Waverly turned, and saw, it was too late.

Agent teleported behind Waverly, and struck once, at the base of the farmhand’s skull. The young man swooned, and Agent caught him, slung him over his shoulder.

“Stop!”

A frown split the crags of Agent’s face.

Before him stood a girl, no more than sixteen, a pitchfork clutched in her fingers. She was a pretty thing, her blonde tresses tied back in a ponytail, her face darkened by hours in the field. She was an innocent. Agent did not relish the thought of ending her. “Run,” he said.

“I’ll scream.” Her eyes flitted to the silenced pistol at his side. She hesitated.

He laid a hand on the gun. “Run,” he repeated.

She ran.

He drew his weapon and shot her in the back of the head.

She pitched forward, hit the ground, dead. Blood spread in a widening pool around her. Waverly groaned, eyelids flickering. Agent holstered the gun and looked at the girl. Killing civilians was distasteful, but she had seen him. He’d had no choice.

Now, time to go.

Agent stepped toward the nearby barn, and pressed his palm against the red-painted planks. He sent his power into it, and a ripple spread through the wood, like a pebble striking the surface of a pond. Furrows of heat fanned out from his fingertips, crackling furiously.

He turned away and teleported to safety.

Back atop the cliff, he paused to watch his handiwork.

Review

Fires of Man is a difficult book to review. There were some elements that I really enjoyed, and there were a few that puzzled me enough to leave me frustrated and unhappy. I’ll get into all of that.

There are shades of X-Men here: look, it’s like this. The youth develop powers, and these powers are often dangerous, right? These young people, in this case, are called Psionics. The protagonist (of these chapters) is Finn. He’s a younger sibling of several rough-and-tumble brothers. The Psionics are discovered by people in a satellite who sit around all day looking for bursts of power, and then people are sent to grab the newly special kids and, well…they need to learn how to control these powers, obviously. Anyone can see that. They need a nurturing environment in order to learn how to use these baffling but amazing abilities (shooting laser-like flames from their hands, super-speed, super-strength, shields, that sort of thing). And then these young people can become useful members of society, much less dangerous to themselves and others than they were before they took their own talents in hand. In a sane world, it makes some sort of sense.

Unfortunately, these young people don’t get a nurturing environment. They get conscripted by the military and trained with some tough love. There’s no Professor X here to make sure they are given a balanced and mentally healthy education. These kids are essentially trained like the lovable losers in the Vince Vaughn movie “Dodgeball.” They get shot with tennis balls and are told to throw up a shield. If they can block three balls, they get to take the day off. Most of them don’t get to take the day off. They are put into tight quarters with a bunch of other burgeoning tweens and teens, and expected to behave. Of course, you then have some issues with bullying, because every high school has ’em. Also, if you wash out, you’ll probably end up dead. Psionics are not allowed to return to civilian life. Good luck!

The basic concept there is intriguing. I like it. I enjoy Levinson’s skill in the written word. There are some really interesting things in this part of the book. I’ve read a few strong YA and NA titles lately, like Jenna Lincoln’s The Protector Project and Jacinta Maree’s Soulless. The basics of this portion fit in well there. I have some quibbles about some of the character traits–I don’t like the trope of the nerd who can’t help but stare at a girl, or the violent outburst that is rewarded by the pretty girl because she has low self-esteem and has never had someone stand up for her before. Yeah, there are people like this, and the characters are meant to be flawed, I’m sure. But I worry–and I’m a worrier, so I see that this is an issue for me that won’t be for some others–that this trope slips a little into the girl-as-reward thing. I probably dwelt too much upon it, but sometimes it happens. But moving beyond my own highly-responsive empathic abilities, this would make quite the YA series.

One oddity for me, though, is the book’s intended audience. If the whole book was about Finn and the Psionic teens, I’d say this is a YA book. Even Aaron, the kidnapped teen from the excerpt, could make his way into that book. There are some liberal F-bombs and some brutal, bloody passages dribbled about like chocolate syrup on vanilla ice cream. But YA is a broad realm of reading tastes, and books with “adult” language and violence are certainly viable in that market.

But then we also follow a few adults around–a noble Orion military officer and his tough-as-nails former flame, for example. Teens read about adults. These adults have very adult concerns. Relationship drama and fancy dinners, passive-aggressive arguments and things unsaid. I enjoyed these stories, too. I have a soft spot for the noble military officers in a lot of works (I am currently thinking of Django Wexler’s Marcus in The Thousand Names particularly,) so Nyne was one character I found myself excited to explore. One scene that really gripped me involved Nyne as he left a club and encountered a young man who had overdosed. Nyne’s emotions in this scene are powerful, and his reactions are realistic for his character. But it almost feels like a different book taking place in the same world at the same time–the adult ballast to the unstable teens. Though the adults are at least as unstable as the teens.

We follow a lot of other characters, third-person limited, over-the-shoulder style. We have those I’ve already mentioned: the noble commanding officer of the military and his tough-as-nails former flame, and Finn. We also have an archaeologist, a brutal Calchan called Agent–the man who shoots a girl in the back in the excerpt, he’s a bad (but complex) dude–and a boy, Aaron, who is kidnapped (this occurs in the excerpt above) and forced into a Calchan military unit.

This is a book about people first. Yes, it does feature a war between nations, and war and battles dominate the second half, but this isn’t about the nations or about war. The characters are individual from one another, and there is a lot to like about them. They grow and change. They aren’t perfect, and that’s good. The villains are deeply disturbed. Good people do bad things for the wrong reasons, and bad people do good things for the right reasons. Complexity abounds.

I am left with a lot of questions. The book ends with a lot unsaid, but another book is on the way. We’ll find out more. And there is enough going on, enough of the iceberg beneath the sea, that further books are absolutely supported. The world building is deep.

For some, this book will push all the buttons and move along in all the right ways. It wasn’t quite that book for me. I am glad I read it. I find myself curious enough about where the stories will twist in the next installment to consider moving forward with the series.

The book is currently available at Amazon as well as your favorite book retailer.

About the Author

51tHGgkCExL._UX250_Dan Levinson is a NY-based writer of speculative fiction. Trained as an actor at NYU’s Tisch School of Arts, he also writes for the stage and screen. He grew up immersing himself in fantastical worlds, and now creates them. In addition to the Psionic Earth series, he is also the author of the upcoming YA fantasy novel The Ace of Kings, first book of The Conjurer’s Cycle.
.
.

Author Links

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

610_zps7vlxuopy

Review, Excerpt and Giveaway: The Protector Project by Jenna Lincoln

Review, Excerpt and Giveaway: The Protector Project by Jenna Lincoln published on 3 Comments on Review, Excerpt and Giveaway: The Protector Project by Jenna Lincoln

AHWosilH6q1_rgpcoDlV-dwdVvfNOv5uo_mKVufAFis

About the Book

The Protector Project by Jenna Lincoln
Release Date: 6/15/15
Boroughs Publishing Group
Summary from Goodreads:

w8C16Z7P99y2csV6kZAoOAm5wXSrFWZmzVB0BPGL5FQTeen soldier Mara de la Luz is about to find out what makes her so special that some would kidnap and kill her—and others, willingly die for her.

ENDLESS CARNAGE. ENDLESS QUESTIONS.

Mara is a 17-year-old soldier who’s spent years fighting a war that’s lasted generations. Wide-eyed children, some just turned thirteen, rarely survive their first fights despite her best efforts to train and lead them. What she thinks she wants is to uncover the root causes of the war between the Protectors and the masked Gaishan, maybe find a way to end it. But what she really wants is a future—for herself and the others—beyond the battlefield.

Then she’s injured in combat, and when an enemy fighter not only heals her wounds but reveals his face, she sees the promise of all she desires. This cunning teen Gaishan has answers to her questions, but first she must commit treason and travel beyond the boundaries of her world. She must brave a place where everything rests on the point of a blade: her loyalties, her friends, her heart.

Review

After reading several dystopian novels in quick succession, I started reading this book with the expectation that this was another dystopian novel.

The protagonist, Mara, is a seventeen year-old veteran in the middle of a war. Most of the soldiers are teens. Some were tithed to the government by their families, and some are orphans raised by the government. A lot of pieces here allowed me to, quite lazily, confirm my suspicions.

Until I realized that maybe this wasn’t really a dystopian novel. It is definitely a romance, a military science-fiction, a pseudo-fantasy. But it certainly doesn’t take place on our earth. And while life in the military is difficult, we can’t call every depiction of the military a dystopia. The world is broken into some odd binaries: masks bad, bare-face good, human vs. Gaishan, those in enclosures and those in encampments. There are certainly haves and have nots, but have you looked outside lately? None of this makes a book a dystopia.

No, this is something else. I was pleasantly surprised at that. I needed a break from some (admittedly very good) dystopian books.

Early on, we discover that things aren’t as they seem: the faceless monsters look like the humans when the masks come off; the human leaders are lying about victories and motives. We bring our own assumptions to our reading experiences, and this book plays with those assumptions. That takes some careful and smart writing.

The Protector Project initially feels like a fantasy novel, but there are some science fiction elements, especially as the book moves forward. It is a quest for truth.

I enjoyed the surprises along the way. There is plenty of action, romance, and shocking discoveries. This book is aimed perfectly at the combined YA/Teen group.

Excerpt

Agony disrupted Mara’s ability to maintain her energy shield. Dizzy and nauseated, she pulled off her helmet and tried not to vomit. With one hand she soothed her horse, with her other hand she pressed hard on the gash. Hot blood trickled into her boot.

A Gaishan stepped out from the trees. Its hand came down next to hers, brushing Mara’s fingers and the wound.

“Don’t touch me!” she yelled.

The figure pulled off the Gaishan mask revealing a human face, young and male. His smile was grim, “Mara, you were out of position.”

Mara’s breath stopped. She stared into the Gaishan’s silver gray eyes, felt the tremor of magic cross from his fingers into the torn flesh of her leg. The air shimmered and shrank, enclosing them. He was light haired and tall, not much older than any of the Protectors. The pain eased and the burning tapered to a mild sting.

“Your questions have answers. But you’re asking the wrong people,” he said.

She threw a punch at his mask-less face, but the Gaishan blocked it, trapping her hand.

His smile relaxed into a grin and he leaned closer. “One of the answers is, this isn’t your fight.” He slapped her horse on the rear, propelling them back to the field.

About the Author

i0dCT-7r6ndjS7sm1KPgyqza3YZvcuKBSdzGpqt54PkJenna Lincoln loves to read, write, and talk about reading and writing. She spent many happy years as a language arts teacher doing just those things. After dabbling in Firefly and Supernatural fan fiction, Jenna got serious about building her own imaginary world, big enough to get lost in for a long, long time. When she comes back to reality, Jenna enjoys her home in beautiful Colorado with her husband and two daughters.

Author’s Links

Website
Goodreads
Twitter
Facebook

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour and giveaway provided by: oGiDuRZi1DurLhy0PZZvm4K0QEkNAKv-b4FKF6A34Rc

Review: The Spider in the Laurel by Michael Pogach

Review: The Spider in the Laurel by Michael Pogach published on No Comments on Review: The Spider in the Laurel by Michael Pogach

26791599

About the Book

From Goodreads:

The Spider in the Laurel combines elements of Indiana Jones adventures and Jason Bourne thrillers with a V for Vendetta dystopia, and an American Gods fantasy.

The Spider in the Laurel is the story of history teacher, Rafael Ward, in a world that has outlawed the basis of most of our history: religion. When Ward is forced to take a job destroying the relics he cherishes, it will take the uncompromising faith of an outlaw as an ally, and the acceptance of his guilt for his mother’s death, to help him break free of the government’s yoke. If he’s lucky, he might just prevent the coming apocalypse, for which this secular future is completely unprepared.

The Spider in the Laurel straddles the line between simple adventure fun, and the kind of novel which can force a reader to question his or her own beliefs.

The Spider in the Laurel was released by Ragnarok Publications on 9/19/2015.

It can be purchased at Amazon HERE.

Review

Reading the synopsis gives a fairly honest perspective of what this book is about. My own “it’s like” description for this book is “It’s like The Da Vinci Code set in the world of 1984.” It isn’t that precisely, though. It definitely has shades of “Indiana Jones” (even to the point that a character says, un-ironically, “It belongs in a museum,”) and the Bourne books (the lead character, though a new-ish agent, has training and executes well in some amazing hand-to-hand and fight and a few shootouts). I don’t personally see much American Gods, but there could be shades I missed. I’m a big Gaiman fan, so my rose-colored glasses might be limiting my critical perspective. They are both books about a man who lacks faith and who goes through some spiritual/psychological torment in the process of potentially acquiring it.

Faith is an important aspect of this book. I did not in any way find the book to be “Christian fiction” even though Christianity is a key factor in the events of the story; this isn’t a book like the Left Behind series, the sort of story that can only be seen through a single lens. The protagonist’s past has been deeply affected by Christianity, he spent his early adult life studying it (and other “mythologies”), he has recently taken up (for the government, not that he has a choice, really) collecting and destroying its relics, and he spends a lot of this book thinking about whether or not he believes in it. There are a lot of Christian allusions, with little things (such as a door opening three times, feeling much like the many instances of occurrences in triplicate in the Bible). Christianity and history are strong parts of this book’s backbone. It wouldn’t exist without religion. And it asks some interesting questions about what a society might be like if religion was no longer allowed to exist.

This book is about a man’s crisis of faith, a life in flux. It is also a high-action, fast-paced, gun-heavy, sometimes-gory, world-traveling adventure that kept up the punches through the final pages.

The book ends without definitive statements. We can believe what we want about the ending, and that is perfect, considering the nature of the questions asked by the author throughout. I don’t think this book is for everybody, but I think many readers can find something to like here. I was not sure what to expect; I was pleasantly surprised by the absence of (literal) spiders.

Excerpt

He spun. The other man–the taller one–was there at the opposite curb. With a military glide the man approached, his hand over his heart for quick access to the weapon in his jacket.

Ward slowed his breathing. I should be in a library, he thought. Books. Everything was so much easier in books. But that single lament was all he had time for. Clenching his fists, Ward rushed forward.

About the Author

5785591Michael Pogach is an English Professor and the author of the dark fantasy/sci-fi thriller The Spider in the Laurel. His short stories have appeared in various journals such as New Plains Review, Third Wednesday, and Workers Write. Michael lives with his wife in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Website
Follow on Twitter

Primary Sidebar