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Dystopia

The Case of the Disappearing Blogger!

““No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
― Gautama Buddha, Sayings Of Buddha

It is amazing to realize just how long it has been since I last published. As we all know, life has a tendency to get in the way of where we want our present and future to go. Instead, we are at times forced onto other, more winding paths, often into a bleak landscape we fear to tread.

Other times we must put our heads down and hook up to our own personal plow, digging the rows of life, planting crops we wish to one day reap. I can’t say all my rows are planted, but I can say that I am seeing my way through. It will require discipline to start up again, but I can’t tell you all how much I am looking forward to it.

I have been editing books by various authors, Susan Bliler and Michael Angel in particular. If you haven’t checked out their works, I highly recommend them. I have also been editing business manuscripts, as well as supporting COBRA client agents. COBRA is a continuing program which allows employees to continue their benefits after they leave their previous position until they are insured by another employer or health insurance plan. And yes, that does veer wildly away from my love of books, but you do what you can to retain a steady income, right? I have been given the opportunity to work with a publishing house to edit for them, and I am thrilled about it! I will still be soliciting books from Indie Authors, so if you have a book that needs a keen eye, my rates are good! (Hint Hint)

So. I will be posting reviews again, though not steadily I imagine – at least for a while. I have to ‘get my feet under me again’ and get organized, but I am working on it. Currently, I am reading Bad Magic: 10 Novels With Demons, Djinn, Werewolves, Vampires & Rogue Gods . . .”  if you haven’t picked it up yet, I can Highly Recommend it so far. I Have read Chosen The Djinn Wars: Book 1, and Dead Rising The Templar – Book 1 so far, and both were wonderful stories. I am getting ready to start Hidden Blade Soul Eaters #1. I wasn’t familiar with the first story, but I have added the series to my reading list. The second I had already read, as I am a big fan of Debra Dunbar, but that was the only one of the series I had read. Both of these series are going on my “to read” list. If you previously followed my blog you will know that I have widely ranged, very eclectic tastes in books, and a bad case of “Oooooooo! Shiny!!!” so series often drop by the wayside when I find a new toy.

The last anthology I just finished was From the Shadows: 13 Tales of Urban Fantasy, Witches, Werewolves, Magic, Romance, Shifters, Fae, Demons, Vampires, Dark Fantasy & More!  While I can’t say that I will love all the books in any one anthology (who does?) this one was, in a word, stunning. With eleven different authors offering thirteen stories (Annie Bellet offers The First Three!!! of her The Twenty-Sided Sorceress books!) there are plenty of stories here to please anyone with an interest in strong, well-developed female characters, males who don’t run over the top of them but stand by their sides, and storylines that grab your interest and hold it. While I discovered that I am not really a Dannika Dark fan based on the story in the anthology, that is simply a matter of taste, not a snark against the writer. To each her own.

As I have gotten more into reading again after a long drought, I have read books by a wide range of authors, from Margo Bond Collins’ Under Her Skin to Devon Monk’s Ordinary Magic series books one and two.

My favorite stand alone recently was Playing with Fire: A Magical Romantic Comedy (With A Body 

 

Count) by R.J. Blain. I adore R.J. anyway, and this start to a new series is a Hoot!

“You really are a one-track mind when you’re a unicorn.”

Yep. Get it. Read it. Review to follow 😉

Besides, it is free on Kindle Unlimited, and only $0.99 to purchase.

OH! And I read the first three of SM (Sara) Reine’s Preternatural Affairs Series (again!) and purchased the next three books in the series. If you haven’t read it, and you are fond of supernatural policing, this series is wonderful. I know I wouldn’t want to be a witch allergic to magic!

So, that is it for now. Reviews to follow. And if you need an editor or just a beta reader, be sure to drop me a line!

Hugs,

Leiah

 

Review: Claimed by Sarah Fine – Book Two of the Servants of Fate Series

“Memories are nothing but a collection of electrical pulses and chemicals. Neurotransmitters sliding into receptors like hands into gloves. Acetylcholine. Serotonin. My body is a complex machine. A conglomeration of cells, each one with a designated purpose. – Galena Margolis – Claimed

Galena Margolis is brilliant. Brilliant – and broken. Body and soul damaged – and then there is her mind. Her brilliant mind, which holds the secrets of a vaccine which could be the salvation of a world flooded and destroyed. We first met Galena in Marked, the first in the Servants of Fate series, when she and her brother, Eli, arrived in Boston from the ‘desert wastelands’ of Philadelphia. The physical world qualifies as a ‘dystopia’ as climate change has destroyed much of the earth, leaving the places that remain changed beyond all comprehension. It is a bad, bad, very dangerous world out there, and Galena is in more danger than she could possibly imagine.

Claimed picks up right after Marked, as Galena and Eli find their place, and reach for some sense of stability after Galena’s near death – and Eli’s rise from death. For this isn’t just a dystopian novel – it is a novel of life and death, of change and balance, and of a world where nothing will ever be as it was before. For the Ferrys are real – not just the richest family in Boston, the Ferry family are actual Ferrymen – servants of death who help the dead across the Veil and into the afterlife. Eli’s girlfriend and paramedic partner, Cacy, is a Ferryman, and Galena is someone – something – who could spell the salvation of the world – and someone wants her dead for it.

I couldn’t say enough good about Marked, and my love of this series 21805566continues with the second installment. Sarah Fine is sharp, mercilessly realistic in a magical world overlaid upon a world destroyed by human angst and self-centred greed, and mightily creative. This is a world of layers – layers of well-developed characters, of fantastical thought processes and creative characters and worlds. I can’t recommend this book highly enough for those who like their books to have more than a single storyline, more than one dimensional characters, just more.

I received this book from the publisher in return for a realistic review. I hope you will try the series – I loved it.

Review: Marked by Sarah Fine – My New Auto Purchase Author!

21805566Stand close around, ye Stygian set,
With Dirce in one boat convey’d,
Or Charon, seeing, may forget
That he is old, and she a shade.
– Walter Savage Landor – Pericles and Aspasia (l. 5–8)

If we do not change our negative habits toward climate change, we can count on worldwide disruptions in food production, resulting in mass migration, refugee crises and increased conflict over scarce natural resources like water and farm land. This is a recipe for major security problems. – Michael Franti

We cannot permit the extreme in the environmental movement to shut down the United States. We cannot shut down the lives of many Americans by going to the extreme on the environment. – George Bush (b. 1924), U.S. Republican politician, president. Speech, May 30, 1992, at campaign rally, California on the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit.

Yeah. How’s that workin’ out for everybody but you? – Me

 

Lachesis measures out the thread, while Clotho weaves upon the loom, but Moros walks amongst us still, personification of impending doom, drives mortals to their lethal fate, while deadly Atropos cuts the thread. . . OK. I wrote that part, but Sarah Fine’s Marked made me feel poetic. I literally got lost in her words, in her story of Cacy Ferry and her family. The Ferry’s have a secret – their father, Patrick, is the physical manifestation of Charon, the ferryman of the dead. And Cacy and her siblings all carry the weight of the souls they guide to the afterlife. One gold coin for a lifetime of lost happiness. The fee paid to the Ferrymen, and women, to carry out their duties.

Ah, but the fee must be shared – shared with the Kere, scions of Moros, bringer of death through violence and disease. Is it that simple, that these gold coins are the cause in the disruption of the warp and weave measured and spun out by the Moirai? For something is badly wrong in the world, and Cacy and her family are right in the center of the widening gyre.

But they stand not alone. For when Cacy meets Eli and Galena Margolis, what she understood as right takes a sudden turn into shocking – and her life, and her jobs, will never be the same. Nor, possibly, will the existence of the very Fates.

Jobs? Well, yes. For while Cacy could hold a white glove position in her family company, Psychopomps Incorporated, she chooses instead to become an EMT in Boston. Which doesn’t sound all that bad – except for the fact that The Great Flood of 2049 has placed Boston mostly underwater now, massive canals and dams the only thing between the populace and total inundation. Being underwater is bad. Really bad, as disease organisms make the water deadly, and canal pirates make life for most a living hell. Poor to no police or fire protection, minimal power, and the aforementioned pirates make Boston a dangerous place to be. But the fact that it is actually one of the safest cities still extant proves just how bad the rest of the world must be. Running water? He’d never actually seen such a thing. Clean water was like gold in Pittsburgh, and carefully rationed. Eli and Galena are from “The West” – better known as Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh – desert lands. Is Pittsburgh truly the farthest reaches of the US? Is it all a barren desert past Pittsburgh? Or is the country past that desert wasteland, a land of cactus and sand, simply gone – subsumed by rising waters?

So. Two tales here, in this wonderful, wonderful book. On the one hand, a tale as old as life, and death, itself – Eli, Galena, Cacy and her family will find their lives woven together, in a race against time and murder – and possibly to save the tapestry upon the loom – the divine machine that churned out the endless fabric of life. The Fates themselves cannot hold the centre – the warp and weave is failing. Are Eli and Galena the answer? Or will Atropos rule over all?

The second story is just as poignant in its own way – and more terrifying. It is simple to see the story, wrapped within the story, as flooding and desertification take over the world, climate change wiping a brutal hand over what humans have built. Voltaire had it right when he said, “Men argue. Nature acts”. We laugh at the dragon, as Tolkien pointed out. While he was talking of real dragons, we laugh at the dragon of the changes we have wrought upon the world, and in our blindness, we determine our own fate.

This MARVELOUS book is the first in the Servants of Fate series. Book two, Claimed, is waiting for me on my reader and I can hardly wait to get started. I received Marked from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review, but no matter what, I cannot speak highly enough of this book. Life, death, betrayal, horror, romance – it’s all here, and all marvelously written. I highly recommend the series. I also intend to pick up Ms. Fine’s previous series, Guards of the Shadowlands. Sarah is already on my auto purchase list.

If you like my reviews, please mark “yes” at Amazon under “is this review helpful?” It helps my Authors garner more attention!

Review: Irradiance by David Bruns

22297201The Community is your first responsibility as a Citizen.
The Community is your mate. When you are alone, we are together.
All are welcome in the Community. White is the color of all colors.
The resources of the Community belong to the Community.
The mind is the true voice of a Citizen.

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sindra. A world where minds are joined, vocalization is punishable by ‘recycling’ and dystopia is more than just a word. Irradiance begins with murder, and leads the reader through levels of mental and psychological programming, space-jump technology and time-space continuum’s, as is to be expected from any dystopian fantasy. But then, it grows, deepens to a story of life under totalitarian governments, secrets and lies, and the bonds of family, bonds that must be hidden away from a regime that sees no value in kindness or love, no strength in free thought. Which is rather oxymoronic considering the presence of two statues in “The Hall” – the statues of Freedom and Knowledge.

A world of euphemisms, where “processing” is just another word for euthanize, and cruelty is oh-so-cold.

Honestly, I am not a big fan of dystopian novels. They are just too ‘real’ in their cold, bitter vision of a world with no color, no joy, no true happiness. There was much to send chills over my skin in Irradiance. But to tell you true, the very bleakness of the world of Sindra gives warms and promise, hope, to a book that ends by being a story of possibilities, sacrifice, and new beginnings.

Overall? This first of The Dream Guild Chronicles shows stunning promise for lovers of dystopian novels and gives a calculated warning about the direction our own world faces in the new future.

This book was provided to me by the author in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Raven’s Blood – Cassandra Lawson – Highly Recommended

Religion, the dominion of the human mind;
Property, the dominion of human needs; and
Government, the dominion of human conduct,
represent the stronghold of man’s enslavement
and all the horrors it entails.”– Emma Goldman

What my research told me is that a psychopath cannot change. You’re born like that. – Jeff Lindsay

It was just supposed to kill the poor. Isn’t it ironic that the leeches of society turned into leeches in reality? – Charles Graham IV, Psychopath

raven
A beautiful cover for an incredible book!

Many of the books I have read lately have the same underlying message – the depredation of the poor by the rich – the rich, with a total lack of anything even approaching morality or ethics, a disintegration of the soul. Xenophobia, greed, and a total lack of conscience. As Albert Einstein once said, “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

Raven’s Blood takes this ideation and stretches and molds it, utilizing the beauty and creativity of the Fantasy genre to build a world both unusual and horrifying.

It is always hard for me when I find a book that totally enthralls me to draw a line between raving about the story, the characters, and the world building, and just flat giving away the story. So, here I go, and hopefully I will totally intrigue you without blowing the story!

In a world with a striking resemblance to today, a madman – a madman with wealth, connections, and power – has a plan. A plan that, if successful, will result in the death of millions. Millions of “normal” people, the working class, the poor, all who are not of the privileged rich. Of course, they will keep a “few” of the unwanted poor. Someone does have to take out the trash, right?

Only things don’t work out as Charles Graham IV, his father and small circle of friends expect. For the poor may die by the hundreds of thousands. But they don’t stay dead for long . . .

One hundred years later, America is no longer what it once was. Instead, it is a land of compounds and fenced communities, fear and danger and death. For the ones who came back are undying – and they want blood. And my favorite part is, this is not just another of the ubiquitous zombie novels so prevalent in fantasy today. No, these are vampires, vampires created by the injection of what comes to be called the “Moon Virus,” a virus developed by the Graham Pharmaceutical Corporation specifically to kill the poor.

This is one of the better depictions of vampires I have read. Cassandra Lawson has put much more thought and attention into her vampires, and her efforts are not wasted. Instead, in a world of UF vampires that verges on the boring, (come on, sparkles?) Lawson has developed a well-thought-out story of not only mindless killing machines, the “Turned,” but also the “Born Vampires.” While the Turned are mindless killers, Born are much as they were – only now with fangs, and a requirement for blood.

Raven is a half-wood nymph, half human who has known much pain and tremendous loss in her life. She witnessed the death of her mother at the hands of the Turned when she was still a child. Taken in my her human father, Raven comes to care for the humans who surround her, taking on the responsibility for a divergent group of human children, raising them as her own family.

Captured by a group of Borns during a raid for medical supplies, Raven throws herself on the mercy their leader in order to save her children. What happens next is an impressively well written story of personal growth and change and a dystopian novel which even a non-dystopian-lover like myself dove into with both feet and didn’t come up for air until the book was, much to my disappointment, complete.

There is a strong paranormal romance aspect to the book, which turned out to be a lot of fun, though the sociological and adventure aspects of the book were what truly inspired my love of the book. I am hoping for a second book featuring this interesting world.

While rationalism at the individual level is a plea for more personal autonomy from cultural norms, at the social level it is often a claim- or arrogation- of power to stifle the autonomy of others. – Thomas Sowell

This book was provided to me in return for an honest review by the good people at storycartel.com. All comments are my own!

Review: Nighthawks At The Mission by Forbes West

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.
– Hunter S. Thompson

Click to purchase the book! Or get it free August 1 at Amazon!
Click to purchase the book! Or get it free August 1 at Amazon!

An Adderall and alcohol fueled, dangerous dream of a novel, in a nightmarish paean to Waits and Kerouac, Burgess and Kubrick, Forbes paints a LSD fueled journey down the rabbit-hole with his stunning brilliance of imagery, drowning in surreal pageantry. He drags you, literally, into a different world, a world of multi-coloured dragons and breathtaking vistas, where nothing is ever what it seems. Or is it?

Forbes’ prose is brilliant, a searchlight reaching across a blasted land. Sandpaper sliding  across exposed nerve endings, the frisson of dread before the beast of the night explodes from on high. The smell of carrion upon the night wind, sliding across the senses. As Michael Bunker puts it, Nighthawks at the Mission is an epic, fantasy, sci-fi, tour-de-force. I don’t know whether to hug Michael or hit him – his review of Nighthawks is everything I wished to say about the novel. Drat him, anyway, for stealing my thunder! (Yes, I now have a crush on him for reaching into my soul . . .)

In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.

Visualize, please, a world of seven moons. A world of light and storms, of death and life carried out on an unimaginable scale. A world where nothing, and everything is, and is not, what it seems. Nighthawks reads like the bastard offspring of A Clockwork Orange and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas –

. . . two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers…. A quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.

All consumed on the deck of the Queen Mary as she sails towards a new and shocking world of dreams and illusion.

Not everyone is going to love this book as I do. It is a twisted and bacchanalian view into a quirky, funky and totally surreal mind, a mind not everyone will enjoy or appreciate. It is more a view into social pathology and psychological serenity, a world beyond the mundane and boring Pity those whose mind cannot reach beyond the boundaries. This a frightening and surreal fable, weird and wonderful. And almost painfully brilliant.

If you require that all your little bunny-rabbits have lovely, silky brown fur, don’t bother picking up this book. These bunnies have brilliantly coloured fur, warping and twisting through serpentine mirrors, razor-sharp teeth reaching out through blood-stained maws. They are shockingly alive, reaching into your mind to dazzle and tease, leaving you breathless and dazed, deep beneath the sea of darkness within your own mind.

“And the tail-lights dissolve, in the coming of night, and the questions in thousands take flight… –  Robert Plant

Very, very highly recommended – buy the ticket, and take the ride, a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label and a vat of colourful pills by your side . . .

Nighthawks at the Mission is available for FREE August 1st at Amazon.

Review: Life’s Blood by Gordon Gumpertz – FIVE Stars

life's blood
Click to purchase this book. You really should. I mean it!

Swenson’s Law:  To avoid deprivation resulting from the exhaustion of non-renewable resources, humanity must employ conservation and renewable resource substitutes sufficient to match depletion.

 Any future scenario involving the continuing indulgence or coddling of fossil fuel interests is delusional.  M. King Hubbert ‘Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels” [1]

Suggesting that a reduction of the addiction to oil is cost-effective is cute. What is the difficulty with recognizing that nature no longer gives us a choice in the matter? [Editor]

Set America Free: A Blueprint for U.S. Energy Security, from the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) [2004 September 27][2]

As long as SEC regulations inhibit IOCs from reporting 2P reserves, and as long as OPEC quotas prevent members from accurately reporting reserves, reserves data will be flawed. Proved reserves are financial (SEC) or political (OPEC) data and should not be aggregated or used in forecasts about the future. Only proven plus probable estimates should be used and only annual production of mature fields is required for a good estimate of reserves, irrespective of all published estimates. Every country should release complete historical field annual production and most disagreements on reserves will disappear for those ready to plot the decline and to extrapolate it. Unfortunately it does not work well when field production is constrained by OPEC quotas or investment. But now quotas are less and less followed and investments are plenty from IOCs for countries which do not deny signed agreements as Venezuela, Bolivia and Russia.” Jean Laherrère [Petroleum Africa, 2007][3]

 ______________________________________

I admit it. I am using footnotes in my book review. How geeky is that? However, this book deserves the footnotes, and so much more. Because once read, even though it is a fiction book, I cannot see anyone on this planet not wanting to learn more about oil reserves, and the quickly diminishing worldwide oil supply. As I told a friend back when the financial crisis was in full swing, “weasels are running the chicken ranch and all us hens are pecking around ignoring the huge chunks of sky that are raining down around us.” In this instance money, greed and power are the same principles (if principles is really the word to be used here – the people involved have no principles.) And the outcome on the horizon is horrifying.

This book is a thriller, and a very well written one at that. Set in present time, and taking into account what must have been an amazing amount of research on the author’s part, Life’s Blood is also a horror tale – an unimaginable tale of where we are going from here in regards to world finance and the swiftly approaching time when oil reserves are a thing of the past – when the world will have to grow up, open their eyes, and realize that through our own greed and thoughtlessness, our own purposeful ignorance, and the greed of a few powerful men, we are looking at a crisis of global proportions with no answer in sight.

Set through the eyes of two CIA R&D agents, the story delves into the misreporting of oil reserves by a small group of controlling parties intent on stockpiling billions of dollars of personal wealth – then getting while the getting is good, before the world economy collapses like a tissue paper balloon as oil supplies run out. And when the supply runs out? The Ponzi scheme run by Bernie Madoff, the largest financial fraud in U.S. history and the lynchpin for the market collapse that destroyed so many lives and fortunes around the world will seem as a time of growth and prosperity.

It is always hard to write a review about a book that hits me so hard on a visceral level. I want to talk on and on about why it engrossed me so, what parts I loved, what parts terrified me the most. I am always afraid I will get caught up in the review; I will give it all away. This is definitely one of those books. The characters are highly believable, as is the action in the book. The characters are far from perfect, which makes it highly believable. Toward the end I wanted to throttle one of the “good guy” characters myself, as he was acting pretty much like an idiot. But even that was interesting, and led depth to the character.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Gumpertz has written a book of depth and knowledge in a fictional manner which grasps the reader, pulls you in, and offers a view of a world on the teetering edge of calamity, in a sci-fi style that kept me awake through the night and into the afternoon as I focused up his work to the exclusion of all else. Buy it. Read it. Pay attention to it. It will change your world.

Highly Recommended.

__________

[3] What’s Wrong with Reserves? by Jean Laherrere 14 March 2007

Review: Shimmer In The Dark: Rogue Genesis by Ceri London

rogue
Click cover to purchase the book. Do it! You KNOW you want to!!!!

Ceri London has written, in Shimmer In The Dark: Rogue Genesis one of the most powerful science fiction/fantasy novels I have read since Dune. Well, actually, it is better than Dune. More creative, with a wider range and depth of reality, that is approachable to all readers. This is, without doubt, a science fiction novel, but it also has strong ties to military-political intrigue in the present day which grounds the novel in a level of believability even when the “fiction” portion of the science asks you to stretch your mind into new levels of belief.

Some, I suppose, would lean more towards calling it ‘fantasy’ as there are no space ships and Earth colonies on other planets. If you are one of the ‘hard sci-fi geeks’ that some of my friends are, you might be disappointed by no space rockets blasting around, I suppose, but that should in no way deter you from reading this jewel of a book.

Unlike many, I have no problem stretching credulity to new levels. I don’t expect a science fiction or fantasy book to stay within the realm of ‘probability’. I expect to be taken to a new place, a new level of existence, while I expect that existence to still feel believable. I expect to be charmed into a new sense of reality for a short while. Something that Ms. London has done brilliantly in this, the first of a four-part series.

Niall Kearey is a very special person, with a very special family. As has been described by the blurb on the book, he can, with is mind, reach out across galaxies to what he thinks is a ‘dream world’ – a world “racing towards annihilation” – a world soon to pass into alignment with Earth, with unknown outcome. Here on Earth, there are power brokers, secret societies, power-hungry and amoral politicians, and a corrupt U.S. Military. A military and power structure that will do anything, including the destruction of Niall’s beloved family, to bring him under their control and use him for world domination. Of this, and possibly other worlds . . .

London, in my estimation, did a beautiful job of making me feel her characters. I actually understood, and admired, Niall. My admiration was not only for his special abilities, but also for his love of and deep commitment to his family. In the face of horrific circumstances, he stands by his family and continues to fight for them, when everyone around him is betraying his faith, his honour and his commitment to country. The very thing that Niall has fought for, and watched his friends die for, is pulled into the light, and that light shines upon a dark and venomous snarl of greed and xenophobia that would happily watch whole civilizations die, accepting only the technology and power that those cultures might provide. In all, humanity at it’s slimiest, humanity who would sentence millions to death, while gobbling up their scientists to live as virtual prisoners, slaves to the military-industrial complex. Yep. Humans all right. Humans who would imprison a decorated military man under “correct supervision”, using him as a lab rat to assure his “asset to this nation” status.

Yes, a lot of the book made me sick. I want to howl in despair at the horror of the reality of what humans truly are, what they are truly capable of.  Of human avarice, hatred, brutality and vicious self-aggrandizement, the truly black and horrific souls within. Sick, in that everything that London writes is so very gut-wrenchingly believable in so many ways. So real within the fictitious world that she creates. Amidst the black holes, space-time jumps, dark matter universes and other fascinating and well-researched portions of the book, London delves into the human psyche, and lays bare its soul. And proves, beyond a doubt, the very reasons that, even if there are other civilizations out there, my view of how they would view Earth is “That poor, beautiful orb, filled with the trailer trash of the universe, vicious, dangerous creatures to be avoided at any cost.”  I can see the signs hanging in space now:

DANGER

Overall, if you are a lover of science fiction style fantasy, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It was on my back burner for a while, a lot longer than I had wished for it to be, but I am so very glad that I finally sat down and read it. It was well worth the time. More than worth it. This book needs a lot more attention than it is getting right now. Go out and buy it. I can guarantee you that you will be recommending it to your friends. It’s very creativity of concept makes it a standout in the field. That should draw you in. What will keep you there is the writing, the characterizations, and her deep understanding of the human psyche will keep you reading, and watching for the next in the series.

Highly recommended.

Monsters – Peter Cawdron (Edited Review)

monsters
Click to purchase

The fallout from a passing comet contains a biological pathogen, not a virus or a living organism, just a collection of amino acids, but these cause animals to revert to the age of the mega-fauna, when monsters roamed Earth. Part of the blurb from Monsters by Peter Cawdron

And so, when the fall of man came, the Luddites rejoiced. For them, man’s demise was a vindication of their ideals, a moment full of spite and bitter rejoicing. Peter Cawdron-Monsters

Reading is far more than picking words off a page. It is to breathe in another soul, to walk in their shoes. When you read, you lose yourself and inhabit anothers life, the life of one that went before you on this Earth Peter Cawdron-Monsters

NOTE: This is an edited review:
After speaking with Peter, I do feel that my take on the second half of the book may have been too harsh. He does make a good point that it was important to learn about how humanity begins to change, how they begin to find their way. I did some rereading and decided that I have a better grasp of where he is going and what he was doing with his characterizations. I am leaving my previous review in place – others may find that the information is useful, but I do want to note that I have raised the book’s review status by a point based on our discussion and a rereading of the second half of the book. Either way, I don’t regret reading the book, and his world development was spectacular, something that is always important to me. Read it. You will draw your own conclusions.

I was originally drawn to the book by its cover. A simple pen-and-ink sketch of the skull of a Smilodon, a Pleistocene epoch saber-tooth cat, it caught my attention as the description of the book drew me in. For the first third of the book, I was not disappointed.

In many ways, Monsters starts off in an unusual but very interesting manner, as apparently ancient newsprint becomes the introductory vehicle for the history of the collapse of man. This is not your typical dystopian novel, where zombies rule the earth. Instead, the story starts out innocuously, as a passing comet, Comet Holt, appears in the night sky. Fragile bits of newsprint recount how Holt grows in the sky, and lit up the sky, its twin tails “breathtaking to behold”. The subsequent breakup and dispersal of over half of the comet into the Sun came with volatile disintegration across space, and the subsequent showering of the Earth with tiny, breathtakingly beautiful showers of dust lighting up the stratosphere.

Cawdron’s description of these events is beautifully done, and pulled me deeper and deeper into the tale, as the biological pathogens in the cometary dust, “The Sparkles,” for all their breathtaking beauty, begin an insidious correction to life on Earth. The subsequent changes to the world economy are only the beginning, as dust in the upper atmosphere wreaks havoc with the weather, bringing on a new ‘mini ice age’, dropping humanity further and further back into a new stone age. The outcome of this is as could be expected, as man desperately scrambles to survive, falling back into a medieval superstitions and religious zealotry. Books and science are outlawed, and environmental changes run rampant.

Excellent. The story arc for this part of the book was exceptional, and kept me totally engrossed. There were, of course, problems with the timeline of the fall of civilization and the rapid evolutionary changes, but this is fiction, and these sorts of things are to be expected though not embraced. The rapid disintegration of humans, from sophisticated, thinking beings to savages was much more believable in its rapidity given the very nature of the human animal and it’s natural savagery. As Nazi Germany, the Catholic Inquisition and the reign of Pol Pot attest, man is easily lead and easily drawn into barbaric mob mentality, lacking anything approaching “humanity”. In Cawdron’s book, as in reality, MAN is the true monster. . .

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