The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

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From the book: “Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet.

“Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

“For Miguel, Earth’s charming young playboy, the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.”

If you’re like me and you loved Mary Weber’s debut Storm Siren trilogy, don’t expect this series to be the same. It is a completely different world, a completely different genre–but it is just as gripping to read.

It took me a bit to get into the book, because it is so different from her Storm Siren world, but Weber had to build this world, write history for this dystopian Earth society, and give us reason to cheer for or want to strangle her characters (which I absolutely did on both counts). Once I felt at home with the Corps and gamers and ambassadors (and never felt comfortable with the Delonese…), I could not stop reading.

There are so many layers to this story, each one more intense than the one before, and many lessons that can be taught through this book. It could be a great classroom (or dinner table) conversation launcher for issues that we face (or, sadly more often, ignore) in our own society.

But the ending…

 

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*Thanks to BookBub for this pic.

I just have to say, there’d better be another book coming soon! Until then, read it!

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Fiction and NetGalley for the ARC of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

 

Mythic Orbits 2016: edited by Travis Perry

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From the editor: “This anthology is a showcase for the best stories submitted in the general field of speculative fiction by Christian authors for this project. It represents a wide variety of genres, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal. There is no common theme to these tales, though the subject of empathy or lack thereof does come up in them repeatedly. This is most definitely not an anthology about orbits which are somehow mythical.

“The main goal of this anthology was to demonstrate that Christian authors can write speculative fiction well. Stories with a wide range of appeal are included here, mostly serious, some with humor, some with ‘happy endings’ and others clearly not so happy. All of them worth reading.

“Some of these stories feature Christian characters in speculative fiction worlds, some make use of Christian themes either subtly or overtly, while some have no discernible connection to Christianity at all. Christian authors are featured in this collection rather than specifically Christian-themed stories.”

What a fascinating collection of stories! There is a little bit of everything in here, from ghosts to twisted fairy tales to robots to aliens. If you can’t find a story in this anthology that you like, there must be something wrong with you. 🙂 Just kidding. But seriously, I was impressed with the breadth of speculative fiction that is represented in this collection.

Equally important to me was the variety of lengths of the pieces. I know that may sound weird, but if you only have a few minutes, there are some rather quick stories you can dip into and enjoy. On the other hand, some of the pieces are quite a bit longer, giving you something to really sink into and soak for a while.

While all the stories were good, I did have a few favorites: “Nether Ore” by Kirk Outerbridge, “Cameo” by Linda Burklin, “Clay’s Fire” by Kat Heckenbach, and “The Water Man” by Sherry Rossman, all stood out for me. I definitely recommend that you pick up a copy for yourself and see which stories you like best. 🙂

The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

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After the defeat of Laewan at Bas-Solas, Lord Willet Dura and the other members of the Vigil believe the danger has passed. But then Willet is attacked by an invisible foe, and the illusion of peace is shattered. The group must defy the Church to save themselves and the rest of the northern continent from certain destruction. Splitting up, the Vigil will risk their lives to track down the Clast and try to discover what the Darkwater really is.

I waited a year for this book. And it was well worth the wait! Patrick Carr never fails to suck me into his story with multi-layered characters and complex plots. This world that Carr has created is so full and so fascinating, he could write novels set here for decades and never run out of material. And his characters are complex enough that they could continue to evolve over that time, and we’d still not know their whole stories. I love this type of tale: one that makes me feel like I’m right there, riding alongside Willet and Bolt, uncovering new clues and helping to battle the evils of the Darkwater. Wonderful!

The only downside? I’m guessing I have to wait another year for the next installment… At least I know it will be worth it!

*Note: you definitely want to read this series in order; otherwise, you will find yourself very confused. While it’s not absolutely necessary, I’d suggest starting with the introductory novella, By Divine Right. But you really should read the first book, The Shock of Night, before diving into The Shattered Vigil.

Someone asked me recently why I like to prefer to read fiction – Carr’s Darkwater Saga is a perfect example of why. There is so much Truth woven into this fantastical tale that, even though the story is not real, I find myself growing in the knowledge of God while thoroughly enjoying being swept away to a land of magic and mystery. For me, Truth is plain in non-fiction, but Truth is alive in fiction! Especially in such a well-written story as The Shattered Vigil.

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers for the copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes

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If you knew what day you would die, how would you live? Parvin Blackwater’s clock says that she has just one year left on her life. She feels that she’s  wasted the first seventeen  years of her life, so Parvin is determined to make this last one count. She wants to rescue Radicals from being sent to their deaths by the corrupt government system. But when her plans get her sent through the Wall, Parvin must first survive before she can begin to help others back home.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I began this book. It sounded so interesting when I saw it in the bookstore at the RealmMakers Conference in July, and it turned out to be so much more than merely interesting. From the very first line (“There once was a time when only God knew the day you’d die.”) to the cliffhanger-ish ending, A Time to Die doesn’t slow down, nor does it let you down. Absolutely stuffed with intensity, from the thoroughly fleshed characters to the intricately drawn story world to the plot that keeps you wanting more, Brandes’ début novel is extraordinary.

It is so much more than just a great story, too. It’s a fictional, yet at the same time personal, journey of self-discovery. Parvin ask questions of herself and God that we all find ourselves asking at some point in our lives… what’s my purpose? Am I wasting my life? What do You want me to do? Are You even here, God? And within this tapestry of fiction, Brandes deftly braids silky strands of Truth for us all to weave into our own stories.

My heart soared and plummeted; I smiled and I cried; I did not want the book to end! So, it’s a very good thing to know that this is only the first book in the series!

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The second book, A Time to Speak, is available through major retailers. And the final book, A Time to  Rise, will be released in just a few weeks (October  14th)! atimetorise_6_29

 

For more info, check out Nadine Brandes’ website (click here 😊). And, in all seriousness, pick up a copy. It is so worth a read (or two or three!).

 

My  most  hearty thanks to Nadine Brandes for the copy of this book for review purposes. She didn’t ask for a positive review, but I so thoroughly enjoyed it, I can’t praise it enough! 😁

Trial Run by Thomas Locke

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From the publisher: “Reese Clawson’s work is mind-bending–literally. Her company specializes in global data analysis for an elite group of industry executives, and now a lucrative government contract is moving her into the realm of cutting-edge intelligence gathering. She is determined to crack the limits of consciousness–and in doing so, the boundaries of secrets and lies. But her experiment crashes as test subjects slide into a coma-like state. Reese is left scrambling to maintain control, drawing three disparate people into the search for answers–an adrenaline-amped thrill junkie with altered brain chemistry, an Italian scientist working on remote-viewing technology, and a math prodigy whose algorithms subvert computer encryption.

“Will this piecemeal team prevail when a government operative is sent to investigate? As the threads of perception and reality become tangled and even time itself twists in unexpected directions, one warning remains clear: what you don’t know can kill you.

“With a concept so daring and writing so gripping, readers will swiftly fall under the spell of Thomas Locke’s endlessly creative mind. This thrilling psychological journey into the very nature of causation and consciousness will leave them turning the pages and grasping for solid ground.”

I’ve read Thomas Locke before (recently, the Legends of the Realm series), and I’ve read his more prolific alter ego, Davis Bunn, as well. I have thoroughly enjoyed every book of his I’ve read, and Trial Run is no exception. The plot is fast-paced, packed with intense moments. It reminded me of a Michael Crichton novel with its questioning of limits of science, the value to place on morality, and the importance of faith, and how they all intertwine. It was smoothly written, and I was immediately sucked into the world of the Fault Lines series.

Trial Run is definitely on my “read it again” list, that’s how much I enjoyed it! I’d highly recommend you check it out. *Note: there is also a prequel (Double Edge) that is free from Amazon, and the second book in the series is called Flash Point, which is on my “to read” list. 🙂