Spotlight on Astounding Authors

It’s been a great inaugural year for us here at Astounding Books. Let’s end the year off right with three Astounding Authors who published novels in 2015. As always, please let us know what you thought of their novels. Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @AstoundingBooks to find more Astounding Authors in 2016.

 

imageBeyond the Storm
Author: Adam Jones
Publisher: Tea Cosy Publishing (2015)
Pages: 325
Twitter: @adamjoneswrites
Website: AdamJonesWrites.com

Man tries to remember his past while Jude tries to forget hers.

Years after the nuclear holocaust decimated Britain, Man wakes up, naked and alone but for the murdered corpses which surround him. Struggling with amnesia, Man travels the wastes trying to piece together his past.

Across the crumbling remains of the city, Jude flees a depraved fiend, running for her life. Beyond the Storm is a journey of horror and suspense which paints a broken future world and the events that made it that way.

Click here to purchase Beyond the Storm by Adam Jones.

 

imageRibbonworld
Author: Richard Dee
Publisher: Silverwood Books (November 2015)
Pages: 201
Twitter: @Richarddockett1
Website: RichardDeeScifi.co.uk

Miles Goram has a problem. All the down-on-his-luck journalist planned on doing was writing a hotel review and now there’s a body in his bathroom. Far from home on a strange planet, Miles must deal with the fact that somebody wants him dead.

Welcome to Reevis, a planet without days or nights where life is only possible under a vast pressure dome. It is on this airless wasteland that Miles finds himself caught up in a mystery involving a huge interplanetary corporation, a powerful man and his ambitious PA, and a beautiful young heiress who has been missing for years.

Crossing the galaxy in search of answers, Miles begins to uncover a web of deceit that stretches further than anyone could have imagined. With his life becoming at greater and greater risk, he realizes that there is no one he can trust. Will he discover the truth and finally come to terms with his past? And, if he does, will it be enough to save his future.

Click Here to purchase Ribbonworld by Richard Dee.

 

imageStarlight (Book 1 in the Dark Elf War Series)
Author William Stacey
Publisher: Bastard Sword Press (August 2015)
Twitter: @williamstacey2
Website: williamstaceyauthor.com

A secret power. The revival of magic. An ancient evil stirs. When two worlds collide, a new hero will rise.

When an impossibly localized lightning storm hits the surrounding forest, twenty-year-old university dropout Cassie Rogan discovers her supernatural side. After centuries of atrophy, the forces of magic are flowing back into our world, and Cassie can now wield arcane powers. Cassie must quickly master these new abilities to protect mankind because a dark entity secretly watches from the shadows. The Fae Seelie (a.k.a. the Dark Elves)—humanity’s ancient enemy—have returned to settle the score.

Click here to purchase a copy of Starlight by William Stacey.

That will do it for this year. Thank you for supporting all of our Astounding Authors in 2015!

Floor 21 Offers Post-Apocalyptic Fun

imageFloor 21
Author: Jason Luthor
Publisher: Amazon Press 2015
Pages 144
Twitter: @jl_TheProfessor
Website: Jasonluthorwriting.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/JasonLuthorWriting

 

I have to say this is one of the best surprises I’ve read this year.

I’m a sucker for a good post-apocalyptic / dystopian story, so it’s no surprise Floor 21 by Jason Luthor hooked me from the start.

Jackie is a curious, independent and headstrong 17 year old female living in one of the top floors of a Tower that is besieged by a black, oozing muscle-like mass that reacts to pain and emotions. Everything below Floor 21 is unlivable. The higher you live, the better the conditions. Jackie lives on Floor 4. No one knows or remembers before the Creep infested their massive tower, or what lies below or beyond. Questions and inquisitiveness is frowned upon by the secretive and reclusive Authority who live on Floor 1. Follow the rules and everything is fine.

Except everything isn’t fine. No one talks about the Creep. Jackie’s parents are acting weird. People disappear; some return acting different after going through Reinforcement. When Jackie begins to ask questions, the answers she seeks might just bring the whole tower down around them.

Jason Luthor crafts a compelling, fast paced, mysterious story that creeps up while you are reading. (See what I did there?) At only 144 pages, it’s a short read that seemed like a prologue to a much larger adventure.

The author uses recordings of monologues made by Jackie as a narrative device to tell her story. Halfway through the novel the recordings switch from Jackie to that of a Commander on a Scavenging team, instructed to go below Floor 21 and look for food, materials and any secrets that may unlock the reason the Creep came to the tower.

Luthor expertly manages the release of information that explains the backstory of the Tower. I like that. New information is introduced in a matter-of-fact way and I never felt at a loss. [(Except for the steaks. Like, seriously…Where do the steaks come from? It’s not Creep Meat is it? Gross!) in my best 17 year old voice]. He also doesn’t give away the farm. There is obviously more to the story and that’s the sign of good world building.

A few nitpicks:

It’s often hard to get a good deep look at the secondary characters of a novel when the narrator is “recording” their actions. These important characters often come across as one dimensional or cardboard-like. Also, I think Luthor had to explain a few times how Jackie was actually recording given what she was doing.

Jackie’s use of modern slang was a bit distracting. The events of the novel are set decades or centuries in the future. Her dialogue just didn’t come across as that of a 17 year old girl; maybe 14 years old. Of course it’s been a while since I was a teenager so who knows.

The ending felt a bit rushed, but the plot wrapped up nicely, paving the way for the next installment in the series. (There will be a next installment right?) It’s certainly not a stand-alone novel.

All-in-all this had the feel of a very good novel in the Young Adult category. NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Personally? I think there are some fantastic YA novels out there today that I wish were around in my time. My point being, while it’s not deep-thought science fiction, it’s light enough to hook the most adamant of sci-fi fans, while appealing to a much broader audience.

I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to read and review this novel and look forward to more stories from Jason Luthor. Floor 21 is a wonderful start to what looks like a promising series.

Discover a new indie author today. Head on over HERE and pick yourself up a copy. At 144 pages, Floor 21 is a quick, enjoyable read that I know you will appreciate.

3 stars out of 5.

(Looking for more independent authors? Check out The Indie View. )

Spotlight On Astounding Authors

Santa left an early present for us.  Check out our recent offering of Astounding Authors! Give them a look and come back later to let us know what you thought. Now, without further ado, this week’s Astounding Authors!

(The Red Dog Conspiracy Vol. 1)
Author: Patricia Loofbourrow
Publisher: Red Dog Press (November 2015)
Pages: 242
The once-beautiful domed neo-Victorian city of Bridges is split between four crime families in an uneasy cease-fire. Social disparity increasing and its steam-driven infrastructure failing, a new faction is on the rise: the Red Dogs.
Jacqueline Spadros has a dream life: a wealthy husband, a powerful family. But her life is not what it seems. Kidnapped from her mother’s brothel and forced to marry, the murder of her best friend Air ten years before haunts her nightmares. She finds moments of freedom in a small-time private eye business, which she hides in fear of her sadistic father-in-law.
Air’s little brother disappears off his back porch and the Red Dogs are framed for it. With the help of a mysterious gentleman investigator hired by the Red Dogs to learn the truth, Jacqui pushes her abilities to their limits in hope of rescuing the child before the kidnapper disposes of him.
Author: Nicholas Conley
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing (October 2015)
Pages: 318
Gabriel Schist is spending his remaining years at Bright New Day, a nursing home. He once won the Nobel Prize for inventing a vaccine for AIDS. But now, he has Alzheimer’s, and his mind is slowly slipping away. When one of the residents comes down with a horrific virus, Gabriel realizes that he is the only one who can find a cure. Encouraged by Victor, an odd stranger, he convinces the administrator to allow him to study the virus. Soon, reality begins to shift, and Gabriel’s hallucinations interfere with his work. As the death count mounts, Gabriel is in a race against the clock and his own mind. Can he find a cure before his brain deteriorates past the point of no return?

imageSailor to a Siren
Author: Zoe Sumra
Publisher: Elsewhen Press (2015)
Pages: 272
Twitter: @ZoeSumra
Author Page: Zoe Sumra

When Connor and Logan Cardwain, a gangster’s lieutenants, steal a shipment of high-grade narcotics at their boss’s orders, Connor dreams of diverting the profits and setting up in business for himself.  His plans encounter a hurdle in the form of Éloise Falavière, Logan’s former girlfriend, who has been hired by an interplanetary police force’s vice squad.

Logan wants a family: Éloise wants to stop the drugs shipment from being sent to her home planet: Connor wants to gain independence without angering his boss.  All of their plans are derailed, though, when they discover that the shipment was hiding a much deadlier secret – the prototype of a tiny superweapon powerful enough to destabilise galactic peace.
Crime lords, corrupt officials and interstellar magicians soon begin pursuing them, and Connor, Logan and Éloise realise they have to identify and confront the superweapon’s smuggler in order to survive.  But when one by one their friends begin to betray them, their self-imposed mission transforms from difficult to near-impossible.

 

Don’t forget to comeback later and let us know how you liked the novels from our Astounding Authors! See you next week.

 

 

Aftermath Sets Stage For New Star Wars Canon

imageStar Wars: Aftermath
Author: Chuck Wendig
Publisher: LucasBooks 2015
Pages: 400
Twitter: @ChuckWendig
Website: TerribleMinds.com

I’m writing this the Monday after the big Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens premier. My mission before watching the current installment of the popular franchise was to finish a sort of “Prequel” novel: Star Wars: Aftermath.

Now I know there’s a gag reflex that goes along with the word prequel, but this novel is set immediately following the battle of Endor and the repercussions of the events in Return of the Jedi. It does nothing to spoil the new movie, yet it does add to the world building that is the new canon for Star Wars. And yes, there are a few references in the novel that show up later in the new movie.

I’ve never been a big fan of the former literary Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU). I read and enjoyed the Timothy Zahn Thrawn novels and picked up a couple other EU books. With the release of TFA, the old EU has been thrown out and a new canon is being built. The EU, to me, became a so convoluted in scope that I just didn’t have the time nor the desire to get that immersed in the timeline. With Aftermath, the Star Wars literary universe resets and re-launches.

The novel is really split between two sections: one story of a rag tag group of misfits trying to find their place in a new galaxy, a world without a Death Star, Darth Vader or the Emperor; the other thread consists of short, chapter length stories that deal with more “aftermath” from the viewpoint of, essentially, citizens from across the galaxy.

The main story revolves around a former Imperial, a bounty hunter, a former Rebel fighter and her son. There is also a droid, of course. Their lives converge on a planet where the remnants of the Empire are meeting to discuss the future of their reign and what to do about the Rebels, or now, the New Republic.

Intermittingly there are stand-alone chapters that tell the stories of characters and planets across the galaxy, including a chapter with Han Solo and Chewbacca, other notable Star Wars characters, and the planet Jakku.

While the novel is titled Aftermath, it seems more like a Prologue to what will surely be numerous new canonical stories set in the Star Wars Universe, connecting Return of the Jedi to The Force Awakens. The initial story arc and the sub-plots are not really memorable, but they do serve to initiate new world building and set the tone for future novels… and that’s ok.

Fans of the Star Wars cinematic universe will recognize familiar characters and locals. Fans of the animated Star Wars universe will see and read very familiar situations. Similar to what they are doing with their Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney seems to be supervising the interconnectedness of their Star Wars properties. That’s good news for fans.

Overall, Aftermath does a good job of arranging the building blocks of a new Star Wars universe. It’s a quick read filled with action, twists and new heroes with questionable motivations. Can a former Imperial or Bounty hunter change sides and be a force for the light side? (Could a former Stormtrooper be a hero?)

Star Wars: Aftermath, while not essential reading, is good filler material and enjoyable to say the least. It’s escapist reading, meant to fill the time between movies.

Three Lightsabers out of Five. 

To purchase a copy of Star Wars: Aftermath, CLICK HERE!

Spotlight On Astounding Authors 2

We are back this week with four more Astounding Authors. While I was not able to review their novel, please give them a look. Then come back here to Astounding Books to let us know what you thought!

Now on to this week’s Astounding Authors!

Jubilee Year: A Novel (Erelong Book #1) by Gerard O’Neill
imageWebsite:   Gerardoneillbooks.com
Facebook:  Gerardoneill.books
Twitter:  @GONeillBooks

What if the world were about to end, but they weren’t going to tell you? Eighteen-year-old Storm lives in a small country town in Australia, next to one of the most famous telescopes in the world. When he falls for Penny, the daughter of the chief scientist at the observatory, he discovers a global conspiracy of silence.
He learns a mini-star system approaches Earth, and the penalty for any scientist who talks about it is death. If Storm and his companions are to survive they must stay out of the way of the government’s security forces, assassination squads working for powerful hidden entities, and the internment camps for dissenters.
Even his special ability is not going to be enough. He must accept help when it’s offered. But others are not who they seem to be and neither is the reality of a world Storm thought he knew.

Click here to purchase Jubilee Year: A Novel (Erelong Book #1)

Wave Mandate by A.C. Schneider
imageWebsite:  acschneider.com
Twitter: @howtofightfor

This is undoubtedly the biggest:

…day of Kelerin’s life: A warrior/scholar from the prestigious all-boys Academy on Osmos, he’ll be facing off against his arch rival in what many are already calling the ‘duel of the year.’
…feeling Analel’s ever had: A telepathic ascetic from the Academy’s all-girls sister seminary, she’s suddenly sharing a psychic connection with the boy Academic, Kelerin, in a way that should not be possible.
…accomplishment of Jonas’ career: The valiant Academic has returned victorious from the Mandate Race, but at what cost, and future consequence?
…opportunity of Bar-Kas’ one-man-war against the Islands: The Second Son of the Mainland has waited long for this moment, to avenge his brother’s blood honor.
…and all of Osmos will never be the same for any of it.

Chick Here to purchase Wave Mandate

A Stalled Ox (1888 novellas) by Dean Moses
imageTwitter: @DeanMoses
Website: 1888.center.com

A Stalled Ox, looks at faith, human consumption, morality, addiction, and the basics of human desires all wrapped up in a neat package of satirically coated horror and suspense. A short synopsis: An isolated religious cult has reportedly been consuming meat while the rest of the planet has been forced to live a life without it. Presuming this sect has resorted to cannibalism, two agents from an organization known simply as The Agency are dispatched to investigate. Will they find evidence of humans eating one another? Or is something even stranger taking place?

Click here to purchase A Stalled Ox (1888 novellas)

Sugar Time by Joy V. Smith
imageWebsite: Joyvsmith.com
Twitter:  @JoyVSmith
Pinterest:  Pinterest.com/joyvsmith/
Facebook: Facebook.com/JoyVSmith

Her name is Sugar. Sugar Sweet. When her Uncle Max falls ill and his collaborators disappear, he asks her to investigate the old Victorian mansion where he conducted his research–inventing a working time machine. Sugar must act quickly to unlock the secret of time travel so she can set things right and dispose of the bodies… She really could use the help of the police who showed up, her time travel techie, and those aliens… Sugar Time collects all four of Joy V. Smith’s Sugar Sweet stories into one volume.

Click here to purchase Sugar Time

That’s it for this week.

 

 

A Short Review for The Grownup

The Grownup

imageAuthor: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Crown (November 2015)
Pages 64
Website: Gillian-flynn.com
Twitter: gillianflynn

This will not be a very long review. The Grownup is actually not a very long novel.

64 Pages. Give or take. I think the actual story started on page 6, (9% through the novel) so…that happened.

I could attempt to give you a rundown on this mini-thriller’s plot, setting, themes and characters. However, if I did, it would spoil about 1/3 of the length of the actual novel. A common rule I have: reviews should not be longer than the actual novel. To avoid actually giving away too much of this very short story that you’ll probably pay anywhere between $12 for the hard cover and $2.99 for the Kindle version for, I will just say the following:

Do you like ghost stories?

Did you like reading any of the other novels Gillian Flynn wrote, including the hugely famous, suspenseful and successful Gone Girl?

Do you like Flynn’s first person writing style, her fast paced storytelling and how she keeps readers guessing and second-guessing with twists and red herrings?

Do you like George R. R. Martin…you know, the guy who’s famous for the extremely long winded, 1,000 page tomes that make up the Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones) series? (He asked Flynn to write him a story. This is that story.)

Do you like reading a full novel (or more appropriately a Novella) in about an hour and a half (leaving time to stop, grab a pop, go let the dog out and check Facebook for any messages)?

Are you trying to finish up a Goodreads Reading Challenge and need just one more book?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then read The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. It’s a fun, thrilling tale. My only complaint is that it could have been longer. There was enough good material here for a full length novel. The ending felt rushed and vague. Ok, that’s actually a couple of complaints.

Addendum #1: If you are planning to read this novel on a three or four hour flight across the country, you’d better bring another book.

Addendum #2: I received a free copy of this book from BloggingForBooks.com in exchange for a fair and honest review. That said, I’m glad I didn’t pay $12 for the mini-book format of this novella.

As short stories or novellas go, The Grownup is a good 4 out of 5 stars.

To purchase a copy of The Grownup by Gillian Flynn, CLICK HERE.

Spotlight On Astounding Authors

Back again with one of my favorite features: Astounding Authors! Every week we get a number of requests to review novels from independent and up and coming authors. As much as we’d love to have the time to read them all, we just can’t. Instead, we will periodically feature a few aspiring authors with novels that look interesting. Check them out, buy their books. Hopefully you’ll give them a look. Then come back here to Astounding Books and let us know what you thought!

Storming: A Dieselpunk Adventure Novel by K. M. Weiland
imageWebsite: www.kmweiland.com
See the book trailer here: YouTube

In the high-flying, heady world of 1920s aviation, brash pilot Robert “Hitch” Hitchcock’s life does a barrel roll when a young woman in an old-fashioned ball gown falls from the clouds smack in front of his biplane. As fearless as she is peculiar, Jael immediately proves she’s game for just about anything, including wing-walking in his struggling airshow. In return for her help, she demands a ride back home…to the sky.

Cocky, funny, and full of heart, Storming is a jaunty historical/dieselpunk mash-up that combines rip-roaring adventure and small-town charm with the thrill of futuristic possibilities.

Click to purchase Storming: A Dieselpunk Adventure Novel

 

The Crimson Claymore by Craig A. Price
imageVisit his website at: www.craigaprice.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/CraigAPriceJr
Twitter: Twitter.com/craigapricejr

The brave warrior Searon is haunted by the deaths of his wife and children at the hands of the savage reptilian draeyks, who are on a bloodthirsty rampage. He walks the land of Calthoria alone and thirsty for vengeance. He hunts the creatures down one by one, showing no mercy.

But Searon is a one-man army—and no match for the legions of murderous draeyks. Lucky for him, the powerful wizard Karceoles finds him during his travels and enlists Searon in this coming war. Karceoles believes Searon can unite the races to defeat the draeyks once and for all.

Searon discovers he can do more damage with Karceoles and a band of warriors they find along the way. But as the war rages in earnest, Searon must make a choice: Is it more important to destroy the draeyks at all costs, or will his quest for vengeance endanger the lives of his new brothers and sisters at arms?

Click here to purchase The Crimson Claymore.

 

Pieces Like Pottery by Dan Buri
imageTwitter: @DanBuri777
Goodreads: Dan Buri & Pieces Like Pottery

Pieces Like Pottery is an examination of the sorrows of life, the strength of character, the steadfast of courage, and the resiliency of love requisite to find redemption. Offering graceful insight into the human condition, each linked story presents a tale of loss and love. Charged with characters mercifully experiencing trials in life, the book reminds us of the sorrows we all encounter and the kindness we receive, oftentimes from the unlikeliest of places.

Click here to purchase Pieces Like Pottery by Dan Buri