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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First Impressions – The Watchmage of New York

While I work to get the next chapter of Far Flung out for next week, here’s a review of a book I’ve been checking out. This work started as a serial on Jukepop.com, and is now available on Amazon.com.

The Watchmage of Old New York by C.A. Sanders

(Yes, that’s an affiliate link. I checked the rules, should be okay!)

I read through the first two chapters on Jukepop and re-read them in the version I purchased from Amazon, and I must say – wow! This is an urban fantasy rich with detail and backstory to begin with, and in the final verison, it’s much deeper and even more detailed.

My very first thought when I read the descriptions of this book was “Steampunk Harry Dresden, nice!” Makes for a nice tagline to sell it, but it’s much deeper – even just from reading the beginning I can see that.

Our protagonist, Nathaniel, is an immortal Watchmage who lives in New York in an alternate 19th century. He’s charged with watching over fantasy beings who cross over into this world and try to live among humans. The first chapter does a wonderful job of setting up his backstory, describing his powers, and showing how he tends to use them.

The second chapter focuses on the police officer, Jonas, who works with the Watchmage, and thus provides even more detail on what life is like in this alternate world, as weell as giving the reader a hint what it’s like to work with someone who can conjure the elements at will.

I was sold on both characters right away, and needed to know more. I think it was the working of the worldbuilding into the characters’ first-person narratives that really got me into it. Details from real-world history are worked into the fantasy history to create a New York both familiar and strange.

I couldn’t find any major difficulties in what I’ve read so far. The writing is crisp, brisk, and obviously well-edited. Some readers might be put off by the amount of backstory and detail that comes into play, but I think it’s handled very well.

Go check it out!

The Watchmage of Old New York on Amazon.com

Official Site of C.A. Sanders

The Busan Writing Club book is now on Kindle!

I’ve just confirmed – the group publication by the Busan Writing Group is now live and avaialable for sale through Kindle.

More information over at the Busan Writing Group:

Our First Publication!

I’m really glad to have been a part of it, and to have figured out all the formatting needed to get it looking great on Smashwords, Kindle, and in print!