48 States

Author: Evette Davis

Publisher: Flesh & Bone

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Unique take on dystopian United States. 

No one could have anticipated the attacks that would occur on United States soil. Multiple political assassinations took out much of the country’s leadership until the Secretary of State was the next in line for the presidency.  After that, things changed rapidly.  In order to become fully oil independent, the states of North Dakota and Wyoming were completely evacuated to be used solely for energy production, giving them the names Energy Territory No. 1 and No. 2.  Congress was suspended.  Millions were deported out of the county and immigration came to a halt.  The county as we knew it, ceased to exist.

River Peterson works as a truck driver in Energy Territory No. 1.  After returning from the Caliphate Wars, her husband took his own life, leaving her and her daughter with massive debt.  There was little she could do beside take a job in this wasteland to pay everything off before she could return to Idaho to see her mother and daughter.  One night on the way to her apartment, a man runs out in front of her truck. She can see that he is deeply wounded and makes the decision to take care of him.  Unbeknownst to her, he is Finn Cunningham, the son of the President of the United States and is trying to prove the harm that the territories are causing the rest of the country’s water supply.  When the dawn of a new threat arises within the borders of the county, River and Finn must work together to find a way to save their own families and countless others in the process.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book as a unique take on dystopian literature.  This genre has become so common that it seems like authors either have the same ideas or someone is getting copied.  However, Davis brings a fresh look with 48 States.  Named so because two of the states are evacuated for energy production, this book dives into some of the darker areas of what could potentially happen to our country.  I loved both River and Finn as the two main protagonists.  They were cut from different cloths, but still so much the same.  Both characters had some growth, which might have had to have some setbacks first.  The villain was quite overplayed as well, but when you have an egotistical maniac on the loose, what do you expect.  The story was interesting to read out and I thought it was well done.  There is some language throughout and some implied sex, but nothing really graphic or over the top.  Even so, I still recommend this book for mature readers.

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

Never Leave Me

Author: Jody Hedlund

Series: Waters of Time #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 4, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What a follow up!

Ellen Creighton lost her sister and father to a worthless pursuit to find flasks of holy water to free her from a genetic disease that will end her life at a young age.  She decides that she would rather spend her last days on her terms and her friend Harrison Burlington’s estate.  When Harrison manages to locate two of the holy water flasks, Ellen refuses to take part in his scheme because she believes she has lost so much.  But after he drinks one of the flasks and she watches what happens, she can’t refute the power of the water.  But what awaits her beyond the water is nothing short of the imagination!

If you thought the first book in the series was a wild ride, you haven’t read anything yet!  Never Leave Me picks right up where Come Back to Me left off and it is even more of a wild ride!  Whether this is because readers have already developed a connection with some of the characters or just the storyline gaining intensity, I was much more invested in the romance and suspense played out in these pages.  I couldn’t put it down until I was finished and now the waiting begins.  Ugh!  All said, the time travel aspect is still interesting, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

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

2021 Top Speculative Fiction

We hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas! We won’t speculate about what you may or may not have gotten, but will instead share our top picks for Speculative Fiction for 2021!

The Rembrandt Stone Series by David James Warren

It’s a little bit time travel, a little bit futuristic, and a whole lot of excitement. With all six installments released in 2021, it was quite the ride that kept us waiting for the next book every two months. This series was so much fun that we can only hope the authors team up again!

Read the full review!

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

If you loved Andy Weir’s debut novel The Martian then you’ll love reading his new story involving a lone hero on a mission to save the human race from mass extinction. This is Weir at this best!

Read the full review!

The Future is Yours by Dan Frey

Who doesn’t love a story involving quantum computing? Especially when it lets you see a year into the future. Could you change the outcome? Or would your actions to change the outcome actually cause the events to take place?

Read the full review!

The Other Me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng

When a women begins to live two between two timelines, she has trouble deciding which one she wants to be permanent. The twist in this story is amazing and will leave readers begging for another story ASAP!

Read the full review!

Forgive Us by E.T. Gunnarsson

Set in a dystopian version of the future of the United States, this book follows three seemingly unconnected timelines, until the very end. Well written and engaging, this book will keep you guessing!

Read the full review!

Heart of Stone

Author: David James Warren

Series: True Lies of Rembrandt Stone #6

Publisher: TriStone Media

Release Date: November 23, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fabulous and fitting conclusion to a fantastic series that I can’t wait to read again and again!

After traveling back and forth through time on several occasions trying to change the past and keep the present and future from falling apart, Rembrandt Stone has a hard time recognizing himself. The world he has returned to is nothing like he expected and the watch he was gifted that has helped him travel back and forth through time is no longer working. Rembrandt must rely on a friend from the past to help save the future for all of them before it is too late.

First of all, I am so sad to see this series come to an end. I loved every single book and was worried that the authors would not be able to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. There was no need to worry, I am happy to say the conclusion is all that I could have hoped for and more! These books are short, tight, and full of just the right material with no extra “fluff”.  The stakes are at their highest for Rembrandt and those he cares about, which kept me glued to the pages. I fell in love with all the characters from the very beginning and each book brought more and more tension increasing my heart rate as it looked like Rem was going to lose it all. There were a lot of loose ends to tie up with this final book, a hefty task for even the best author, but the powerhouse team of David James Warren did it with ease. This is marketed as a Christian novel, but out of all the books this is the only one that really had much mention of God throughout. These are more of a clean read than anything else, no language or anything that would keep me from recommending it to anyone to read. I recommend this book and series to anyone that is looking for a fresh, fun, and full of the best entertainment there is. These books need to be read in order and over and over again.

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

The Other Me

Author: Sarah Zachrich Jeng

Publisher: Berkley Books

Release Date: August 10, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A unique approach to a familiar concept.  An enjoyable read.

Kelly is attending the opening of her best friend’s art exhibit in Chicago.  As a fellow artist, she is a little jealous, but wouldn’t miss supporting her friend.  When she starts to feel a little sick, she heads to the bathroom where she opens the door and walks into an Italian restaurant far from her beloved Chicago.  What just happened?  Her whole family is there!  Even her screw-up brother, who has a kid?  What?  And someone is calling her name and touches her shoulder as she realizes that this is someone that she knew from high school and what’s more, he’s her husband!

As Kelly tries to navigate this new life and figure out what happened, she can’t shake memories of her life in Chicago.  Will the people there remember her?  Or is this a full alternate reality?  Can she get back?  Does she want to?

I absolutely love this kind of speculative fiction.  When I get a mind-twisting story that makes me stretch to figure out what is going on, it just makes me day even better.  While I’ve read this type of concept before in other books, I like how the author played out Kelly’s experiences.  As a reader, it makes you think about what life would be like if you had made different choices at crucial crossroads in your own life.  Needless to say, this story will have you wondering the whole way through until you hit the unforeseen twist of what really caused the crossover. 

There is quite a bit of language (understandably so with the experiences) and some minor sex scenes that aren’t terribly graphic but could make some readers uncomfortable.  I recommend this to 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.

Set in Stone

Author: David James Warren

Series: The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone $3

Publisher: TriStone Media

Release Date: August 10, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another masterpiece by David James Warren! Set in Stone is another spectacular edition to this fantastic series that fans will not want to miss!

Detective Rembrandt Stone is dealing with the aftermath of playing with fate and time. Thirty-eight women are dead and more could be next by a serial killer let lose between time travels. After new evidence turns up pointing to Rembrandt himself, things get personal. But in this timeline, Rembrandt no longer has the watch that has been taking him back in time to rewrite the past to save the future, it was never given to him by his boss before he died. The killer now has Rembrandt and those he loves in his crosshairs which makes the stakes even higher for him to be able to get back to the past to save his future.

I have one big problem with The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone, its too good! This is a fun, engaging, exciting, suspenseful series that keeps getting better with each installment. The powerhouse trio of James Rubart, Susan May Warren and David Warren have crafted a fantastic series that is able to keep going back and forth between timelines and storylines that intertwine characters and backstory with mysteries that need solving in just the right way. The plot of each book is its own story but needs to be read in continuation with the previous. This is not the kind of series that each book can be read on its own without the others; to get the most out of the series readers will need to reach each book to follow the story correctly. A lot happens within the pages of these books, the story is complex but in the best way. Readers will fall more in love with Rembrandt and every other character throughout the pages of this newest edition. I recommend this book to readers that have enjoyed the others in the series and are looking forward to another great read that they won’t be able to put down.

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

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.