Thursday, 14 September 2017

Anchor Leg by Jack Croxall

Anchor Leg
By:  Jack Croxall
Publish Date:  January 9, 2017
Published By:  Author
Genre:  Science Fiction, YA, NA, Futuristic
Pages:   194 Kindle Edition
Source:  Jack Croxall

‘I toss my knife out into space. It doesn’t matter, I’ll kill him with my bare hands.’

Humanity has spilled out into the solar system, into a succession of giant space stations known as the Relay. Seren Temples is a security apprentice running the Relay’s Anchor Leg. Her ship forced off course, sensors detect an automated distress signal. The ship responsible for the signal is a zero-G graveyard. Inside its vast hold, nothing but a single vial of frozen blood.

I’m excited to be doing another review for Jack Croxall as I really like the warm human touches in his writing. Anchor Leg is a bit of a departure in that he’s branching into science fiction though he keeps his signature YA/NA focus. (And check out my spotlight review link for 6 Short Stories, one of the author’s earlier books.)

Jack Croxall writes his new novel from the female perspective, Seren Temples’ POV, which I think is unique and tough to do. I really like his take on Seren even though she gets a tiny bit on the androgynous side which probably has more to do with the science fiction/space setting for the book. Even so, the author is sensitive to feminine sensibilities and has put in the research on his heroine’s way of being. There is an LBGT angle and the author handles this very gently and fits Seren’s romance seamlessly into the story. So nicely done and I think will go easy with younger readers. I do feel like this take overall though is currently being kind of pushed through media and sometimes wonder how many authors are picking this up for that reason.

I really feel for Seren who has ‘escaped’ planet earth only to get caught up in a dangerous situation developing around one of the outer planets where her mining spaceship, Charybdis, is traveling through. For a 17-year-old she keeps a very cool head when sudden important responsibilities are thrust upon her, moving her up from apprentice level and things start to go crazy.

Anchor Leg reads a bit like Star Trek mixed in with some Sherlock Holmes sleuthing stuff. Interestingly, the names of the two spaceships, Scylla and Charybdis, are two ancient Greek mythology sea monsters that guarded a narrow sea strait and brave passers would inevitably get caught by one or the other. So too, Seren and security teammates shuttle between the same-named spaceships as time runs out on figuring things out. Good pacing with fast-paced ending keep the reader wanting to turn the pages.

I would have liked to know a little more about the bad situation on earth and maybe some more of that history through Seren as additional background to the story.
YA and NA science fiction readers will whip through Anchor Leg and those who really like relationship feel-y stories in other genres should branch out and give this sci-fi a try. You’ll love it.  4.5 stars!

Check out Jack Croxall at these internet links:

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Survivor of the Clan by Jennifer Ott

Survivor of the Clan
By:  Jennifer Ott
Publish Date:  September 10, 2016
Published By:  Author
Genre:  Suspense, Thriller, Futuristic, Science, International
Pages:  242 Kindle Edition
Source:  Jennifer Ott
A roar of motorcycles disturbs a peaceful congregation leaving church on an Easter Sunday outside Edinburgh Scotland. One of the motorcyclists assassinates geneticist Dr. Kyle Locke, while another abducts his daughter, Shelby Locke witnesses her entire life taken from her in one instant. When clues arise that lead to Odessa, Ukraine, it is Shelby who steps up the search to find her daughter and her husband’s killer.

Arriving in Odessa offers more questions than answers. Confronted with the suspects, Shelby must face her own past, as a child, and that of a mysterious woman whom she has recollections of a precarious time in the near past.
In order to save herself and her daughter, she must find the courage and compassion to face issues that plague mankind and its future, only then can Shelby and Amelia be free.
Welcome to my review of another of Jennifer Ott’s books, Survivor of the Clan!

Check out my featured post to the right for my previous review for Desperate Moon, one of the author’s previous books and foray into all things Euro vampire and just well-rounded story telling.

Survivor of the Clan is her latest publication where she takes on our current human condition from an ancestral DNA perspective, and I’ve never read of a MC (Shelby Locke) profession of being a doll maker so for me these are different themes than I usually read about. This also brings in more than one layer to the meaning of the word ‘clan.’

So through Shelby’s brave journey to find her abducted daughter, Ott plumbs interesting concepts such as whether our human DNA carries memories from our ancestors and even bygone emotional responses to our environment that may not necessarily be beneficial to us anymore as times have changed, a lot! I also really like that Shelby’s story is very current with stuff that’s happening in our world right now such as the take that human life is being detrimentally orchestrated by powerful global companies.

Even though there’s a scientific basis to the story, Ott’s writing has a warm, almost homey feel often focusing on the food and cultural traditions of the Ukraine and the importance of family that ultimately lure Shelby away from what she believes to be her  best interests. The need to know about our family roots is ever a strong one for us all, good and/or bad.

Survivor of the Clan is also a story about Shelby’s own search to find her origins as she is an adoptee. This is really the primary plot that intertwines with her finding her kidnapped daughter who has been taken to the Ukraine where Shelby finds her own mysterious and somewhat frightening birth roots. During this journey, she is led down some terrifying and unspeakable paths.

Steady pacing and new revelations keep the story moving and the reader engaged, and the ending reveals some very unexpected surprises that Shelby learns on her path to discovering her origins. I really liked how the ending isn’t like a perfect cut and dry, comes with some violence, but we are left with upbeat, hopeful feelings for Shelby.

Fav quote:  “When you share eyes, you share a soul.” At 6.3/488
Some minor typos.

If you like to savour stories that delve into the very substructure of human make up and make you think about where your own emotions and thoughts are coming from, be sure to pick up Survivor of the Clan, an interesting and thought-provoking read that presents the reader with fascinating possibilities. 4.3 stars!

You will find Jennifer Ott on the internet at these links:

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Nostalgic Rain by A.S. Altabtabai

Nostalgic Rain: Galaxies Away
By:  A.S. Altabtabai
Publish Date:  July 1, 2017
Published By:  Author
Genre:  Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages:  324 Paperback, 329 PDF
Source:  Xpresso Book Tours

What seventeen-year-old Leland finds in the abandoned basement of his house is something he will never forget.

Leland lost his father when he was seven. Since then, he has successfully adapted to the awful life of being a student, the man of the house, and a father figure to his two younger siblings. All of that changes when he and his best friends stumble upon a secret in his deserted basement, and fall into another dimension with three moons, foggy woods, and an ancient castle-Oremanta.
Learning who he really is, how he came to this remote planet, and the shocking, ugly mystery of Oremanta aren't as bad as the quest he finds himself obligated to complete-killing someone he never thought he'd meet in Oremanta to save everyone.
Stories that transport readers to other worlds are so interesting; they take you away from the known, a definite reason why I read. Leland gets a soul call to return to Oremanta, a land he didn’t realize is his birthright, and ends up being transported there with his good friend, Jennifer, and also apparent schoolmate Dylan through a portal in his own basement.

But Oremanta is preparing for war, the great castle, the domed areas, and renegade outposts, all.

Leland starts out the novel a sad teen so this adventure ultimately is good for him I think as he completely transforms into a fierce warrior. His character development is gradual and well done. There is also a great twist about Leland’s family that entwines him into what’s happening now. The beginning is a bit slow but the pace of the story then goes well dipping between Leland and Jennifer’s POV/experiences as they separate for some of the book as Jennifer is steered towards becoming a ‘healer.’

I didn’t get a sense of what Leland and the other characters actually look like. This leaves a sort of disconnect for me. But we do get good descriptions of their feelings so you’re rooting for them. Overall the author might have spent more time fleshing out scenes rather than quick moves to new action.

Nostalgic Rain is somewhere between a little bit of a gory Middle Grade style and thoughtful YA with a mix of both straight up monster and battle scenes sometimes and interesting, thoughtful observations/insights at others.

Page 210
“It’s haunting how a person can be so greedy and honorable at the same time.”
Page 230
“Healing is all about your emotions and how you control them. The better you control your feelings, the better healer you are.”

Some unanswered questions at the end so we wonder if the author is going to write part 2. Dylan’s story could be really interesting.

Overall, Nostalgic Rain reads a little younger than I was expecting but is an entertaining if not somewhat bloody MG-YA adventure tale.  Good debut effort. 4.1 stars!
Find the author on the internet at these links: