The Ninth Metal

Author: Benjamin Percy

Series: Comet Cycle #1

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

More like a modern day western that what I expected.

What some people viewed as the end of the world, others viewed as a golden opportunity.  One night, a comet crashed into the small town of Northfall, Minnesota, forever changing the town and the people who lived within.  What initially caused power outages, vehicle accidents, and debris raining from the sky turned into a huge cash crop when people realized that the metal fragments from the comet had huge potential as an energy source, which turns Northfall into a “gold rush” town of the 21st century.  Now, two giant corporations are fighting for overall control of the metal: the local Frontier family and the Texas based oil man with deep pockets.  And in the center of it all, is a commune that sits atop the biggest metal reserve that will only sell to the person who can bring the dead back to life!

I went into this novel expecting a dystopian, speculative fiction type of read that was going to be more how we rebuild after we’ve been hit by a comet type of story.  However, it was more of a 21st century shoot from the hip western that made me think of some recent miniseries that have been airing in Montana and South Dakota.  Even so, it was quite an interesting depiction that was enjoyable to read through and see what happened.  I enjoyed the Frontier family drama that made me think of a ranching family up in Montana that controls the land against developers.  It also had a little bit of government conspiracy thrown in for good measure as well as dishonest cops who are on the take.  Overall, a little something for everybody.  There is a lot of foul language throughout the book as well as some implied sexual activity, but nothing is graphic, but it does leave some to the imagination.  I recommend this book for mature readers who enjoy this genre.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Forgive Us

Author: E.T. Gunnarsson

Publisher: Bragi Press

Release Date: January 23, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

3.5 Stars

A look at what could happen over the next 150 years when humans destroy their planet.

In 2099, Oliver has been surviving on his own for years trying to make his way east over the Rocky Mountains to see if there are civilizations.  Between the occasional crazed nomad and mutants, he has managed to survive off his wits and his gun.  After a chance encounter when he saves a fellow survivor named Sam, they band together to bring in more refugees seeking shelter to create one of the first reborn nations in North America.

Fifty years later, war is going on between two nations.  A nomad named London and a young girl named Rose are making their way across the desert when they are caught in the midst of a skirmish.  When one of the bands realizes they mean no harm, they are offered to come back to their city and be employed as traders.  But trading in the midst of a war can have dire consequences.

Another thirty years reveals the exploits of man to escape the Earth’s fall on a space station orbiting the planet.  Simon is a descendant of those people who finds tensions between factions on the station are starting to escalate and he may be the key to having his group gain the upper hand.  But one false move could land him in a zero-gravity prison, or worse, expelled to space!

As far a speculative fiction goes, this teenage author has got one heck of an imagination.  Setting up new worlds with three different timelines, all with a common link, was a very entertaining read.  At first, I wasn’t sure what the connections would be, but within the last couple of chapters, everything fell into place.  If you love dystopian and post-apocalyptic thrillers, this is your cup of tea.  Fair warning, there is a lot of foul language throughout the book.  So, I recommend this for mature readers that enjoy this genre.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Catch 42

Author: Felix Holzapfel

Publisher: Quovabiz Inc.

Release Date: May 13, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What happens when dystopia, quantum computing, and VR collide?  You get Catch 42!

Dan is a typical guy who is down on his luck. His family restaurant began to suffer financial difficulties, but he couldn’t accept failure.  So now he works jobs nonstop to provide for his family.  Unfortunately, after so much stress, he wife, Vicky, took their two kids and left California to return to her home state of Kentucky to live on her parents’ farm.  Dan is too full of pride to throw in the towel, so he continues to work to try to make a living so that they will come back.  One night, a mysterious voice from the future calls out for his help with a problem.  In several years, the world will experience catastrophe after catastrophe including pandemics, global warming, food supply chain disruption, and a cyber war that will decimate the population down to 20% of what it is today.  As a result, leaders put aside their differences and have created a virtual world known as WeYou to bring humanity together.  But things aren’t what they seem, and underground movement known as Teccupy is working to overthrow the virtual lies that they believe WeYou has constructed.  Both organizations want Dan to help solve a puzzle that neither can master.

This new genre of dystopian tech thrillers that dabble in speculative fiction has really become quite popular and I can’t get enough of them.  Catch 42 was no exception as it kicked off with a bang and never let up.  Most of this book centers around Dan’s immersion into the world WeYou and learning about how the world has changed while searching for the key to bring immortality to the physical world.  Some of the jargon goes pretty technical, but it’s not too difficult to keep up with.  The occasional chapters thrown in with Vicky and the kids didn’t bring much but kept them in the loop for the ending.  There is also a lot unsaid at the end, but that is where the speculative part comes into play.  Overall, I enjoyed this and there isn’t much language or mature themes throughout, just a good read!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

No Unturned Stone

Author: David James Warren

Series: The True Lies of Rembrant Stone #2

Publisher: TriStone Media

Release Date: April 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The second edition in The True Lies of Rembrant Stone pulls readers even deeper into the story and has left me dying for more adventures with Rembrant and the gang!

After receiving a watch that helps him travel back in time and solve cold cases, Rembrant Stone returns to the present, but nothing is as he remembers it before going back in time. He solved the past crime and saved lives, but upon his return, his family is gone and he is a shell of the man he once was. To fix what he messed up, he must break the one rule of time travel, don’t mess with the past.

Rembrant Stone is the perfect book if you are looking for an escape, adventure and characters that will make you feel as if you’ve known them your whole life. The second installment picks up right after the first left off and has more twists, turns and jaw dropping moments. When Rembrant returns and nothing is the same, he was warned not to mess with the past, but he can’t help it; going back might be the only way to save what’s ahead of him.

Each new chapter brings new adventure, drama, tension, and more. As with the first in the series, No Unturned Stone shows what happens when powerhouses, Susan May Warren and James Rubart team up with David Warren to give us some of the best storytelling I have read in a very long time. These stories read so incredibly fast you can sit and read in one day. Short and to the point with no extra fluff that makes the story drag. Plenty of description to make the readers feel as if they are right there with the characters and experiencing what they are at the same time with the bonus of clean writing that can be recommended to anyone. So many stories today have such harsh language or mature themes that aren’t appropriate for younger readers and it is refreshing to have a good, well-written story that has nothing like that. I recommend this book to those that are looking for a story that will be both entertaining and engaging, even if you haven’t read anything by any of these authors this is the perfect series to start with. You really need to start with the first in the series and enjoy a time traveling masterpiece that will transport you to a whole new world. 

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Falling From Trees

Author: Mike Fiorito

Publisher: Loyola College

Release Date: February 9, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great collection of short stories that will make readers think about future!

Mike Fiorito crafts a series of short stories that contain both science fiction and speculative fiction.  Most of the science fiction stories are geared toward space travel, in one form or another, or with alien presence.  I like how the aliens in each of the stories are more altruistic than what they are usually presented as in books and/or movies. 

The stories with speculative fiction center around climate change and the future of our planet.  This trend has been increasing across the board as the genre seems to be leaving behind the traditional destruction dystopian stories for stories of weather impacts and how we as a race are going to manage those in the future.  I found myself thinking about these events as it seems all too realistic and what I would do if the world suddenly changed.  I think that is the mark of a good author when they are able to make you think beyond the story you are reading.

Some of the stories have some mild language, which makes this book more appropriate for older young adults forward.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Future is Yours

Author: Dan Frey

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Release Date: February 9, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mind bending and terrifying at the same time!

When two friends create a quantum computer that can access data one year into the future, their own future seems limitless.    This device will be able to tell you anything from sports scores to stock market tips to if you will live for the next year!  With a start-up on the rise and knowledge of what will happen, what could go wrong?  Ambition, greed, and jealousy, that’s what! 

This was an interesting approach for a futuristic quantum novel.  It is told through a series of emails, text messages, future articles, and transcripts from a Senate Exchange Committee hearing.  There is never any actual personal dialogue, but you just keep reading because you want to know what is going to happen next.  It’s a little weird in that you can never really gauge a visual representation of any of the characters.  Maybe a little from their backgrounds, but no descriptions are given throughout the book.  You can easily develop emotions for the characters based on their behavior through their correspondence.  Most readers will just loathe Ben by the end of the book, but he does have ambition.  I’m not a huge fan of Leila either, but I get she was just trying to save face in a bad situation.  I felt sorry for Adhi, but got frustrated with him at the same time.  I really want to comment on the story arc and concepts that Frey used, but I feel like I would be giving something away and want readers to discover this on their own!

If you like futuristic novels of the like of Blake Crouch and Andy Weir, this will likely fit right in your wheelhouse.  There is a lot of foul language throughout the book, so I would recommend it to mature readers.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.