Book Review : Apocalypse Weird: Phoenix Lights by Eric Tozzi

phoenixThe world of Apocalypse Weird takes yet another twist this time Aliens want in on the apocalyptic action and no better author than Eric Tozzi to introduce them. Set in Phoenix, Arizona this latest addition to the Apocalypse Weird series cranks up the tension from “Edge Of Your Seat” to “You Have No Nails Left” with an alien invasion disaster extravaganza on an epic scale that once again pushes the boundaries of the series. Tozzi’s vivid imagery lends an almost movie-like feel to proceedings while the characters are well-presented and the dialogue is snappy and to the point. The pace is brisk and gives the reader little time to pause for thought, quickly jumping to the next set piece with the odd detour on the way and plenty of surprises in store. Another highly entertaining addition to the world of Apocalypse Weird that makes it’s own mark while still keeping the tone of the series so far.

Once again, production values are top notch on this release with a fantastic cover from M.S. Corley. On promotion all this week at the bargain price of $0.99c /£0.99p

Amazon US

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Book Review: Moonfall by A.G. Wyatt

moonfallMoonfall is an interesting take on the genre, where the moon has disintegrated and fragments fall to earth raining destruction. It deals mostly with the aftermath and follows the fortunes of Noah Brennan, a drifter accompanied only by Bourne (his empty gun) who while wandering the wastelands is captured by a group of militia who mistake him for one of their enemies and imprison him. As he discovers more about his surroundings and the people he is dealing with, he becomes involved in a battle for survival and must make a choice between doing the right thing or what’s best for himself.
Wyatt’s post apocalyptic world is dark and realistic, a harsh, twisted landscape where the weak are preyed upon and the strong fight each other for control of what remains of civilisation. Noah is a complex character struggling with his past who initially appears sullen, selfish and hardened by his experiences, but as we see him interact more with those he comes across he becomes a warmer character with a wicked sense of humour and much more to offer. As the story progresses, the plot gathers pace and culminates in events that test Noah’s resolve and conscience and ultimately lead him to make hard decisions about his future, while occasional glimpses into the past and references to current culture refresh the narrative and build an intriguing but incomplete backstory that hopefully will be built upon in later novels.
Moonfall is one of the better attempts at post apocalyptic fiction I’ve read this year. It’s a well-written, heady mix of action, tension and grim reality that serves as a great primer for the rest of the upcoming series.

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My Top 10 Scifi / Horror Books For 2014

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It’s been a busy year! I reckon I’ve gotten through around 35 books this year so it’ll be hard to whittle it down to a top 10. I’ve noticed a lot of the lists about this year are very safe and samey so I’m shaking it up a bit. Also unlike most of the other lists around I’m including self-published titles, of which there have been some outstanding examples this year. Sincere thanks to all the authors and publishers who have supported me this year!

1. Eleanor by Jason Gurley

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I absolutely loved this one. Highly original and thought-provoking. Jason has since bagged a publishing deal with Crown so expect this book to be everywhere next year, albeit in a revised edition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Sand by Hugh Howey

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Hugh pulled out all the stops with this tense post-apocalyptic actioner. It’s a riveting read from start to finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. World Of Trouble by Ben H. Winters

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Ben’s iconic detective Henry Palace unravels the final pieces of the puzzle as asteroid Maia hurtles ever closer to earth. He really couldn’t have finished this trilogy any better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The Martian by Andy Weir

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A huge success this year, this originally self-published scifi thriller features a quick-thinking wisecracking astronaut stranded on Mars. You will never clench your buttocks more. Think of it as Gravity with a little Ferris Bueller thrown in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

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This beautifully designed and innovative take on the haunted house theme transferred to retail was a blast. Think House On Haunted Hill-meets-Ikea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

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This supernatural crime thriller was a gem strengthened by Beukes unique style and unflinching attitude.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. The Fourth Sage by Stefan Bolz

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My YA pick for this year, this is a no-nonsense dystopian epic which should definitely NOT be split into two movies to bore the pants off the general public.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

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A thoroughly enjoyable sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, expect to see a lot of this series next year as the Tim Burton movie is released (hopefully not starring Johnny Depp as Miss Peregrine)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells

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A huge hit on Amazon this year, Fluency is a brilliant fusion of classic and modern scifi and paves the way for what should be a very entertaining series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. The Other Of One  (Book One) by Brian G. Burke

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My middle-grade/early teen pick for this year. I’ve been raving about this one for a while but it deserves a shot. An epic fantasy tale with an Irish twist to rival anything else that’s been released in this genre this year with a lot of heart, plenty of action, humour and scares to keep 11-15 year-olds (and many adults!) interested. Looking forward to book two next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Fourth Sage by Stefan Bolz

In a Bolz_FOURTH_SAGE_AudioEdition2world becoming oversaturated with dystopian YA tales all vying for the hard-earned money of beleaguered parents and desperate to grab the attention of movie producers to become the Next Big Thing, it’s easy to become cynical about the genre. It’s become tired and formulaic and other than a few mainstream successes like The Hunger Games and Divergent (which quite frankly to me were tired and formulaic also, but I’m not a teen so what do I know?) there has been little new to the table of late.

Stefan Bolz’s The Fourth Sage has an interesting take on the classic dystopian theme, where people are now living in super structures, enormous self-contained high-rises controlled by a ruthless corporation. Aries Egan, a repressed fifteen year-old girl “steals” an hour each night by hacking into the mainframe and creating a camera loop, exploring the air ducts where she actually works during the day. She makes a discovery that will change her life forever and sets in motion a chain of events that force her to make a decision to either continue with her mundane everyday life or to search for the truth about her existence, her past and her future.

It would be easy to point out the obvious influences here, but I don’t think there’s a need to. Bolz has created a unique world, injecting a fresh vision into a tired genre. The world-building is of an epic scale based in a huge infrastructure which has been meticulously constructed and has an unnerving way of becoming even bigger as new areas are discovered by Aries and her friends.

The story unfolds nicely, gradually building pace and developing the main characters. Interestingly, Aries’ character is probably the slowest to develop, but as the narrative progresses it’s clear that her treatment at the hands of her “employers” is a contributing factor here, and when she does finally face her situation she becomes a far more interesting person.

Thankfully Bolz decides not to cash in on the current trend of introducing overly complicated relationships or John Green style tragic romances. This is sci-fi damn it, and while there are relationships forming as the story progresses they rightfully take a back seat to, well – not getting eviscerated by thousands of deadly androids and this is totally fine by me. There is far too much action to be enjoyed here for that sort of thing.

There are lots of surprises along the way and plenty of twists to keep the reader’s anticipation peaked. The ending builds to a quite surprising reveal which is a total game-changer and forges a solid structure for the next instalment.

I have to give a mention to the creative and editing team involved here. As a self-published work it looks and reads as professionally as anything I have seen from a major publisher and it’s a credit to the author’s hard work.

Eamon Ambrose

Available now on Amazon and Amazon UK

Deep Breath, Hold Tight: Stories About The End Of Everything by Jason Gurley

Gurley_Eleanor.pngJason Gurley has created an outstanding collection here, each as diverse as it is enthralling, establishing himself as a masterful short story writer. From the bleak post-apocalyptic opener Wolf Skin to the heart-wrenching finale The Dark Age, each story and character is intricately crafted and despite the dark subject matter, each story has an underlying theme of hope even in the most hopeless of circumstances. I’ve been sent several anthologies of a similar nature recently and this is by far one of the best I’ve come across.
Gurley effortlessly embellishes each paragraph with so much emotion you cannot but be affected by the subtle prose and a heartfelt empathy for his characters rarely displayed by authors these days. An engrossing, often surreal trip to the End Of The World, beautifully descriptive and consistently thought-provoking. A refreshing break from the sci-fi norm.

Buy here on Amazon

Book Review: From The Indie Side – Sci-Fi Anthology

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Cover Art by Jason Gurley

There was a time when short stories had a lot of credibility in sci-fi. Arguably some of the greatest work from classic sci-fi, fantasy and horror authors are short stories and there was a time when anthologies were plentiful. Some of my fondest reading memories as a kid are of reading the Harlan Ellison-edited Dangerous Visions, Clive Barker’s Books Of Blood or Stephen King’s Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight.

The good news is, short stories are making a comeback, fuelled largely by ebooks and self-publishing. A short story anthology is ideal for readers who adore the convenience. It’s something you can dip into occasionally and come back to anytime. Read, re-read, skip forward, skip back. Don’t like a story? That’s fine. Don’t like an author? That’s fine too – next! Sometimes it’s a great palate cleanser in between novels, especially for reviewers such as myself. They are however starting to take on a life of their own, with many authors expanding their original short story into successful novels, Hugh Howey’s Wool and Michael Bunker’s Wick both being prime examples.

For authors there are no restrictions. Write your story, publish it yourself and see what happens. Readers may like it, they may not, people may buy it, they may not. What is evident from what I’ve seen in the world of self-publishing so far is that the cream tends to rise to the top. It may take a while, but if you’re an indie author with talent the only limit to your success is yourself.

From The Indie Side is the culmination of a lot of these success stories, some now well-established, others rising stars on the indie scene, but all extremely talented and deserving of their place on this book.

The sign of a good anthology is when you’ve finished one story and feel compelled to move straight on to the next. From The Indie Side is one of those.  There are twelve stories featured, from Jason Gurley’s beautiful opening story The Winter Lands to (my personal favourite) Peter Cawdron’s thrilling finale The Man Who Remembered Today, spanning an excellent range of sub-genres. While you may be familiar with some of the more popular authors featured, what impressed me most were the writers I hadn’t yet read. There are some genuine gems in there, most notably from Brian Spangler, Sarah Foster and Susan May. I have to admit, some of the more fantasy-based stories weren’t for me, but that’s purely a matter of personal taste on my part, I can’t fault the writing.

From The Indie Side is a fitting snapshot of both the health and wealth of independent science fiction right now and whether you’re a hardened fan or about to dip a toe in the indie fiction pool, there is no better place to begin than here.

Eamon Ambrose

Buy now on Amazon and Amazon UK/Ireland

Book Review: Karma Omnibus by Patrice Fitzgerald (Wool Fan Fiction)

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Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows my love of Hugh Howey’s Wool series but as of last week I hadn’t delved in to the massive library of fan fiction out there. Something was holding me back, part of me not wanting to dilute the experience with something below par, but at the same time I was eager to go back to the Silos for another peek.

I’d seen Hugh recommending Patrice’s Karma series on more than a few occasions so when the omnibus edition was released I took his word for it and jumped in.

Taking on the world of Wool is no easy task and Karma Of The Silo bravely takes on the life story of a significant character from the Wool series who we know existed and while didn’t play a huge part in the original story, the importance of her relationship with one of the main characters reverberates through the history of the Silos

Beginning with the early days of the Silos, the author does a fantastic job of retaining the atmosphere and claustrophobia of life underground and the characters are carefully constructed, exploring not only the effects of Silo life on the family dynamic, but the often complex relationships between the different Silo classes through the eyes of Karma and her family as she realises who she really is and has to decide whether to remain subdued and forget her past life, or choose a different path than the one chosen for her and challenge the status quo.

It also explores the brutality of human nature as various conflicts arise during Karma’s life with all-too-familiar uprisings and power struggles taking place with some resorting to violence, menace and murder to achieve their goals, while also dealing with the tragic consequences of suicide as people become disillusioned with life and the ever-lingering threat of being sent to Clean.

The story is well-paced and rarely falters with plenty of twists and a stirring conclusion and I have to say overall my first foray into fan fiction has been very rewarding indeed. I have to admit I’ve always been a bit skeptical about the impact and validity of fan fiction, but Patrice Fitzgerald has proven me wrong and for that I’m grateful.

Eamon Ambrose