Reading Radar – The Walls are Closing In

This week’s very topical story comes from the crowdfunding site Inkshares, and is a project I have supported!

The Walls are Closing In by Jacqui Castle

This books tells of a future in which a certain president’s dream of a big wall is taken to extremes. The story takes place in 2090, after walls have been built around both the northern and southern borders of mainland USA. The country has become a secluded Orwellian nightmare state in which History, Geography, and cultural expression are repressed. The story focuses on Patricia Evans and Rex Moreno, both assigned by the Natural Resources Division to search for ever-dwindling resources outside the major cities. Instead, they find a cache of unedited books from before The Seclusion, and it is up to Patricia to decide how far she’ll go to spread the truth.

I found the preview pages quick-paced and easy to read, and the timely premise is also a big selling point for this book. I also admire the promotional extras created for this, including a good video trailer, a map, and pictures of models to show what the main characters look like. It’s not hard to see how Castle is generating a lot of interest in her work-in-progress, and her work is very effective – as I’m writing this, the book stands at 238 out of the 250 pre-orders need for a basic treatment on Inkshares. Definitely worth a look!

 

I’m off to read more for next week’s feature!

 


 

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Reading Radar – New Meggido Rising

This week’s story comes from suggestions and review opportunities available at the Online Book Club. I read New Meggido Rising fairly quickly – it’s a short book, and it was written mostly as a setup for the Apostates series.

New Meggido Rising, by Lars Teeny

As I mentioned above, New Megiddo Rising is a prequel novel intended to set up the characters and events of the Apostates series. The story begins in an alternate version of 19th century Mexico. The Governor of Coahuila y Tejas visits a settlement headed by the preacher Brigham Wainwright. The preacher lies to the governor, assuring him that he will contact the American government and discourage illegal settlers from entering Mexican territory. He later reveals to his captain that his real plan is to overthrow the Mexican government. The story jumps ahead to the future, where people have neural implants and live in a dystopian America called New Megiddo. The main characters are: Ayane Inoguchi, who lives in a church-run orphanage; Prescott, a Prelate of the church of New Megiddo; Kate Schrubb, daughter of the President, who is next in line for the office; Inquisitor Rodrigo of the Law of Virtue Enforcement; and Evan, an “apostate” teen living in the slums of Los Angeles.

The narrative switches between these characters, building up their backstories as the stage is set for Book #1, The Apostates. As the story jumps to each new character, it seems that the reader is expected to know each one already. Character development is rushed, as each character is pushed along to the place and time they are seen in Book 1, The Apostates. This swift narrative leaves the plot a little lacking in cohesion. It is a bit difficult to develop an appreciation for the larger story as the narrative jumped between characters, despite the incredible worldbuilding and intriguing uses of technology. Even so, I thought the novel sets up an intriguing dystopia, with plenty of nice nods to Orwellian and cyperpunk tropes.

 

I’m off to read more for next week’s feature!

 


 

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Reading Radar – To Live and Die in Avalon

Once again, I’m paring down Reading Radar – but that’s because I have some new content in the works!

Reading Radar will now feature one independently-published or crowdfunded work per week. This reduction is to help give me time for new writing exercises that are scheduled to go up on this site starting in March.

This week’s work is from one of my favorite book crowdfunding sites, Inkshares.

 

To Live and Die in Avalon, by Jason Chestnut

 

to_live_and_die_in_avalon_coverHalf 60’s spy novel, half classic sci-fi serial, To Live and Die in Avalon looks like a really fun read. Right from the start of the sample chapters, I really enjoyed the campiness and the smart use of tropes from two classic genres.

The story follows Penny Thorne, a secret agent on her final mission – to find and rescue Dr. Baxter, a scientist who was cryogenically frozen in 1969. She finds herself pursued by a relentless military force as she unravels the mysteries behind Dr. Baxter and Avalon, humanity’s home among the stars.

This project looks very promising, and I bet it’ll reach its funding goals quickly when it goes live.

 

I’m off to read more sample chapters, and to find another work for next week’s feature!

 


 

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Reading Radar – “The In-Betweener” and a book called “The Nobel Prize”

Both of the books on this week’s Reading Radar come from free Amazon promotions. As always, I try to find books that are independently produced, or that are not from big league publishers.

The In-Betweeners, by Ann Christy

51a3wfrh7zlA zombie novel? Wait, don’t turn away! I actually like this one. It’s about a woman who’s left alone and in hiding from what is left of the world after a new technology has caused an apocalypse. She must survive through loneliness and guilt as she finds food and other necessities. All around her are the “Deaders” and “In-betweeners” (those not quite dead and not quite alive).

So far, I’m finding this book very exciting. The story drew me in with detailed settings and worldbuilding, plus it’s easy to identify with the main character, Emily, as she struggles to find other survivors like her. Definitely worth a look.

 

The Nobel Prize, by Mois Benarroch

51q3ugxk02lThis book was linked to me by a friend during a special promotion. I love the concept of this book right away. A writer discovers that one of the members of his writing group is in a mental institution. The writer finds out that his friend is becoming a different character each day, acting as if he is within his own books. The translation of this novel is a bit awkward in places, but so far I’ve been able to follow pretty well. I’m finding it pretty funny – I appreciate the satire of writers and their craft.

 

That’s all for now!

 


 

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Reading Radar – Catching Stars and Frey

I’m back with Reading Radar, where I preview promising books from independent authors.

Here’s what I’m looking at in the week of January 8 – 14.

 

InksharesCatching Stars by Cayla Keenan

 

Catching Stars takes place in the kingdom of Aestos, and follows Maddix, a member of the King’s Guard. Maddix is accused of four murders he can’t remember comitting, and finds himself in prison awaiting execution. After Maddix mysteriously escapes his punishment, the witch Jayin is sent to find him – but Jayin and Maddix will have to work together if they want to survive.

The strong writing and descriptive narrative caught my interest – the sample chapters do a good job of pulling the reader in to this world. Currently at 276 pre-orders, Catching Stars is now guaranteed the basic publishing treatment by Inkshares, and any further orders will certainly help the author even more.

 

Amazon Promotion – Frey, by Melissa Wright

517zm4m8bnlAnother Kindle free promotion – and it’s still going as I write this. Frey lives in a small village where her Aunt makes life difficult and frustrating for her. Frey’s life takes a strange turn as she discovers magic she didn’t know she had, and is persecuted by her village council. She goes on the run, and is forced to seek help from strangers and other outcasts. As she runs, she begins to recover memories long lost to her and she suspects that there is much more to her story.

So far, I’ve found the narrative to be fairly engaging. It’s a little rough and somewhat confusing in places – I think this book could have used another run-through by an editor. The characterizations of Frey and her friend Chevelle get muddled in places, and I found it hard to understand some of their actions. There are enough twists to keep me reading, though, and I have a feeling it may be worth reading through to the second book in the series, Pieces of Eight.

 

That’s it for now.

What do you want to read in 2017?


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Reading Radar – 100 Questions to Ask Your Main Character, They Are The Last

I’m back with Reading Radar for the New Year!

I have a couple of books to start the year of right …

 

Inkshares – They Are the Last by Elayna Mae Darcy

Piper Anderson is a girl living in a juvenile detention center, alone and forgotten until her grandmother comes to free her. Piper discovers she is a child of two worlds, with an Alterian mother and a human father. She learns that she can wield an incredible power, and must venture forth to save a world she didn’t know she came from. The best thing about this is Darcy’s lyrical prose, which sets a wonderful mood and theme for the story from the very beginning. The prose is helped by excellent worldbuilding and strong characterization – it’s pretty clear that Darcy brings a lot of experience and emotion to this tale. i really hope the campaign for this book starts up again – I think it will be a good one.

 

Amazon Promotion – 100 Questions to Ask Your Main Character by Lieze Neven

I got this on Kindle as a free promotion, but unfortunately it seems to have expired. It’s less than $3 US, so it’s still a good deal. Sometimes, books like this might seem lazy  – after all, how many books of prompts and questions does a writer really need? But in this case, I think the questions  are well thought out. While some questions like “How do you see yourself today and what has led to these views” strike me as awkward and unlikely to hold much bearing in my story, they remind me of the questions that actors try to answer about the characters they play. The best question I’ve seen yet is “If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be?” – that was one I hadn’t asked some of my characters yet. Seasoned writers may not get as much out of this book, but it looks good for beginners.

 

That’s it for now.

What do you want to read in 2017?


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Reading Radar – The Life Engineered and Witherfist

Two books from Inkshares reached my radar this week.

Why Inkshares you ask? It might just be the place to launch my own book in the near future!

The Life Engineered by J.F. Dubeau

I loved the sample of The Life Engineered so much that I went ahead and nabbed the ebook. I would have got the paperback, but alas, international shipping fees would have tripled the price. The story opens a vast, detailed universe with A.I. characters that are as compelling as humans. The prose moves quickly, making it a fun read and an excellent introduction to Dubeau’s writing. The story follows the Capeks, a race of sentient robots left behind by humanity (humans are nowhere to be found). The robots were given the tools to build a better society than humans could ever manage, but once an important Capek is murdered, everything changes.

I’m still reading this now, but it won’t take long to finish. It’s only 150 pages long, and $0.99 as an ebook – so go check it out!

 

 

Witherfist by J. Graham-Jones

The sample for Witherfist is really, really cool. I’ve been enjoying the exploration of a fantasy world not centered on European culture and mythology. Instead, Witherfist draws on Asian characters and presents a world where the true name of a person or  being allows you to hold power over it. The book follows multiple characters, but most interesting for me is the character of Irusai. She’s a warlord (warlady?) who gained power by tattooing the name of a dark spirit on her arm. She gained its power and skill – she can drain the life force of her enemies through her cursed touch. Now she wants to redeem herself and get rid of this evil spirit, so that she can be with her husband and daughter.

Just in the preview, this story really drew me in with its worldbuilding and interesting characters. I think this is a project worth funding.

 

All right, just what are you reading this week?


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