blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Set My Heart to Five – Simon Stephenson*

Set in 2054, when humans have locked themselves out of the internet by forgetting the names of their favourite teacher and first pet, Simon Stephenson’s dazzling debut, Set My Heart to Five, is a hilarious, touching, strikingly perceptive story of the emotional awakening of an android named Jared, and a profound exploration of what it truly means to be human.
Hi!
My name is Jared.
I am sincerely pleased to meet you.
Also, I am a bot!
Unless you have been living under a rock in North Korea or New Zealand – Ha! – you of course know what a bot is.
Nonetheless I am programmed to relay the following dialogue to each new human I encounter:
Please do not be fooled by my human-like appearance.
I am a mere bot!
I do not have feelings or anything else that might be misconstrued as a ‘soul’.
Instead, I have been programmed to a high level of proficiency in dentistry!
Should you have any concerns please immediately report me to the Bureau of Robotics.

Simon Stephenson is a Scottish writer based in Los Angeles. He previously worked as an NHS doctor, most recently in paediatrics in London.

His first book, LET NOT THE WAVES OF THE SEA (John Murrays, 2011), was a memoir about the loss of his brother in the Indian ocean tsunami. It was serialised as ‘Book of the Week’ on BBC Radio 4 and won ‘Best First Book’ at the Scottish Book Awards.

Simon moved to the US followed the success of his spec screenplay, FRISCO, a semi-autobiographical story about a depressed doctor who desperately needed a change. The script was at the top of the Blacklist – an industry-voted list of Hollywood’s favourite unproduced scripts – and opened the door to a screenwriting career in the US. In 2015, Simon was photographed alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge as one of Screen International’s ‘Stars of Tomorrow’. His friends never tire of telling him that Screen International were at least half right.

As a screenwriter, Simon nonetheless continues to be much in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. He spent two years writing at Pixar in San Francisco, and originated and wrote Amazon’s forthcoming feature film LOUIS WAIN (starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy). Julia Roberts attached to his screenplay TRAIN MAN, and the film rights to SET MY HEART TO FIVE were pre-emptively acquired by Working Title Films, Focus Features, and Nira Park’s Complete Fiction Pictures. Edgar Wright is set to direct the film from Simon’s screenplay.

One of Simon’s most memorable moments from his time in Hollywood was taking a meeting with an actor he admired most, and then having said actor kindly insist on driving Simon home in his distinctive vintage Porsche while telling him about his mind-blowing stories about his canonical body of work. As a token of thanks, Simon then gave that car to the villain in Set My Heart To Five!

My thoughts:

This is an interesting book, written partly in screen play extracts as well as the thoughts of bot Jared, who might look pretty human but doesn’t think or feel like one.

He’s in search for more than his humdrum existence as a dentist bot, programmed to provide excellent tooth based health care. It starts with old movies, then he’s on the run.

It took me a little while to get into the story because of the narrative voice – Jared has a very specific way of communicating and it took me a few chapters to adapt to the style.

But Jared is an endearing soul, with his cat and his desire to be someone and understand humans.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Crossing in Time – DL Orton*

The past isn’t over, it’s an opening. The future isn’t hidden, it’s a trap.
If she ever wants to see him again, she’ll have to take the risk…

Publishers Weekly Starred Review: “Funny, Romantic & Harrowing!”
When offered a one-way trip to the past, Iz sacrifices everything for a chance to change her dystopian future—and see her murdered lover one last time.
After a perilous journey through a black hole, she wakes up on a tropical beach, buck naked and mortally wounded—but twenty years younger! With only hours to live, she must convince an enraptured but skeptical twenty-something guy to fix their future relationship and thereby save the planet (no one is quite sure why.)
But it’s easier said than done, as success means losing him to a brainy, smart-mouthed bombshell (her younger self), and that’s a heartbreaker, save the world or not.

Across the infinite expanse of space and time, love endures…

(Unfortunately, it’s not going to be enough.)
FALL INTO THIS EDGY, action-packed, darkly comedic, dystopian love story, and be prepared to encounter a finicky time machine, a mysterious seashell, and a very clever dog (some sex, some swearing, some violence, but no vampires and absolutely no ditzes.)

Content Warning!
This book contains material that may be disturbing to some, and in movie form, would be rated NC-17 for strong language, nudity, sexual situations, and violence (including attempted sexual assault, abduction, intense danger, miscarriage, confinement, a pandemic, religious fanaticism (Christian), government malevolence, and death).
Reader discretion is advised.

Author

DL ORTON, THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR of the BETWEEN TWO EVILS series, lives in the foothills of the Rockies where she and her husband are raising three boys, a golden retriever, two Siberian cats, and an extremely long-lived Triops.♂‍

In her spare time, she’s building a time machine so that someone can go back and do the laundry.

Website

Amazon

Goodreads

My thoughts:

This was an interesting, if at time slightly confusing, read. Starting as a love story, it becomes a bit post-apocalypse-y, then a time travel story, then a sort of survivalist story, then a love story.

Basically it contains elements of a lot of genres and at times perhaps too many. However it is very readable and enjoyable if you don’t think about it too much (like if you’re reviewing it).

Diego and Isabel make engaging protagonists and the team inside the mountain are also well realised characters.

Hopefully as the series continues it all becomes clearer and the time travelling solves the end of the world.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Catalyst – Tracy Richardson*

Dallas, TX – There is more to this world than meets the eye in science fiction author Tracy Richardson’s newest installment in her young adult series, Catalyst.

The story features returning characters from the series’ first book, The Field, but centers on Marcie, who has a sixth sense. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained – an intuition that extends beyond normalcy. This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee.

The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds – something Marcie knows, only vaguely, that her brother has also had experience with.

Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken. She and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history. It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting.

“[Catalyst is] based in present-time Earth dealing with the real issues we face while also exploring the possibilities of what and who might be out ‘there’ and what our relationship with them can be,” said Richardson. “It also explores our evolution as a species.” Inspired by a desire to protect and sustain the planet, Richardson wrote Catalyst not only to entertain readers but to encourage them to think. “We can make the world a better place,” Richardson also said. “We don’t have to go with the status quo. Each and every one of us can be a catalyst for positive change.”

TRACY RICHARDSON wasn’t always a writer, but she was always a reader. Her favorite book growing up was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. In a weird way that book has even shapedher life through odd synchronicities. She has a degree in biology like Mrs. Murry, and, without realizing it, she named her children Alex and Katie after Meg’s parents.

Tracy uses her science background in her writing through her emphasis on environmental issues, metaphysics, and science fiction. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her doing any number of creative activities — painting furniture, knitting sweaters, orcooking something. She lives in Indianapolis, and, in case you’re wondering, yes, she’s been to the Indianapolis 500.

My thoughts:

I agree with the underlying message of the book – our planet needs us to save it. The book was interesting – I got a bit confused by the whole Universal Energy Field, psychic beings part of it – mostly because this isn’t really in my wheelhouse but it added a different dynamic to the environmental angle and the archeological dig the characters are working on.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: After Darkness – J.F. Johns*

Year 2160

RULE #.1

Humans AND Cyborgs are prohibited from communicating in any shape or form with each other.

RULE #.2

Curfew is from 12 p.m until 7.30 a.m

Applicable to ALL citizens, humans AND cyborgs.

RULE #.3

All propaganda against the government, written or verbal is a crime.

RULE #.4

All the above laws if broken are punishable by death.

WELCOME TO THE NATION

Are you ready?

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J.F.Johns is 27 years old and was born and raised in Spain. She studied English Literature and Creative Writing at ARU in Cambridge, UK.

She won the Indie Book Awards 2017 for best book written by an author under the age of 25, and was a finalist for best book cover with her novel Eternal Darkness.

She’s an animal lover, and spends her free time playing with her adopted dog and rescued cat, drinking too much coffee and posting book photos on her Instagram.

She believes in the art of dramatic sighing and eye rolling. She works as a ninja, but has been told several times that she’s not very good at her job.

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Giveaway – win a copy of Johns’ debut novel Eternal Darkness

The world is divided between humans and cyborgs.

Scarlet Lock is neither.

She is a soldier created to kill on command. But her memory has been erased and when she awakens in a government facility she soon discovers that this new world is a dangerous place, full of government secrets and cruel experiments performed in the name of progress.

With the help of a group of cyborgs, Scarlet will fight to uncover the truth and transform the future of the new world she now lives in.

Eternal Darkness is full of suspense, action and romance and will make readers question what it means to be human.

Enter here

My thoughts:

Although this book starts a series loosely connected to the author’s previous trilogy, you don’t have to have read those books to follow this one.

Cyborgs were once exiled from the world of humans but now they have returned but the law forbids humans and cyborgs from interacting or even acknowledging the other exists, so when Terra starts dreaming about a cyborg in need of her help and then sees him in waking life, she is determined to try to find out who he is.

The secrets she learns will change her forever.

I thought this book’s concept was interesting, I found Terra a bit whiny and annoying at times, and the cyborgs were definitely more interesting as characters; there’s a lot of back story there.

I did feel the battle against the Big Bad was over and done with quite quickly, and bits felt a bit rushed, which was a shame as other parts could have been shorter and given the plot more room to stretch out.

Overall this was a good read, although all dystopian fiction these days feels a bit too real at times, I liked the idea of the cyborgs and the Destroyer, the creepy twins not so much.

If you like your dystopia quirky and not plague related, then you should give this a read.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books

Book Blitz: Titanborn – Brian Schutter

TitanBorn copy (1)

Welcome to the blog tour for Titanborn, an exciting new Sci-Fi adventure from Brian Schutter! Read on for details an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

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Publication Date: April 13th, 2020

Genre: Science Fiction

“No more death.”

In Titanborn, Schutter weaves the vivid world of Shangri-La — a colony living in isolation on Saturn’s moon, Titan — and the genetically-engineered humans known as Titanborn, whose task is simply to prove they can survive.

Meera is just one cog in the wheel of Shangri-La. Assigned to fulfill a role, Meera struggles to find a place for herself and overcome the trauma of loss as Titan casually takes the lives of her fellow colonists.

When a friend goes missing, Meera must choose to face her fears to save not just him, but all of the Titanborn, as the colony begins to unravel.

Can Meera and her people overcome the dangers of the inhospitable moon, or will the Titanborn fall to an enemy closer to home?

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Stuck

Meera; Neuroengineering Breakroom, Shangri-La As I joined the meeting, the circuits in my brain pushed out the rest of the world. The signals from my eyes, my ears, my skin—all my senses—were reduced severely. If I needed to feel my breathing I could, but otherwise my body was like a distant memory.

The virtual meeting room was in a physically impossible space: outside, in the open air. Our “chairs” sat on the dunes. Virtual whiteboards hung from nothing.

The virtual space didn’t look exactly like Titan either. Instead of golden, omnipresent fog, this virtual Titan was clear. You could see the stars behind us and Saturn’s striped storm systems, each band the color of a unique mixture of coffee and cream. They looked so small from here even though any one of Saturn’s stripes could effortlessly engulf Titan. It’s rings curved towards us in striking, vibrant cerulean. I’d never actually seen them like this. The sun’s reflection off our patron gas giant couldn’t penetrate the thick, unbreathable atmosphere above.

For a moment, I forgot where I was. I forgot my fears. Instead of triggering me, something about seeing the stars and Saturn made me feel peaceful and proud.

We’d survived out here for over twenty-five years. That was why we’d been born after all: to prove that humans could survive out here alone. As much as I was struggling, I was still succeeding. I was alive.

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

author pic

Brian Schutter’s fascination with the future began at a young age. He studied materials science at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California & Cornell University in Ithaca, New York to pursue his interest in research. Schutter found himself drawn to the amazing possibilities that the technology around him offered, and wrote extensively after hours about speculative applications of machine learning, quantum computing, and bioengineering.

After graduating with his master’s degree from Cornell in May of 2018, he completed his debut novel, Titanborn. Schutter writes stories that combine the big struggles of colonizing distant worlds with the little struggles of finding the strength to be yourself. His tales are about taking ownership of our choices and writing our own stories.

Brian Schutter | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway: You can win a signed copy of Titanborn! Click here to enter!

TitanBorn copy (1)

Blog Tour Schedule

May 18th

Breakeven Books

The Consulting Writer 

Jessica Belmont

Tsarina Press  

May 19th

Entertainingly Nerdy

Dark Whimsical Art

Reads & Reels

May 20th

The Scary Reviews

The Faerie Review

The Magic of Wor(l)ds 

May 21st

B is for Book Review 

Didi Oviatt 

Lecari 

May 22nd

Read & Rated 

Rambling Mads 

Lunarian Press

Blog Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

books, reviews

Book Review: Atlas Alone – Emma Newman


Six months after she left, Dee is struggling to manage her rage toward the people who ordered the nuclear strike that destroyed Earth. She’s trying to find those responsible, but she’s not getting very far alone.

A dedicated gamer, Dee is endeavoring to discover a mersive good enough to enable her to escape her trauma. When she is approached by a designer who asks her to play test his new game, she hopes it will be what she needs—but it isn’t like any mersive she’s played before. When a man suddenly dies in the real world, she realizes that at the same time in the game, she killed a character who bears a striking resemblance to the dead man—a man she discovers was one of those responsible for the death of millions on Earth.

Disturbed, but thinking it must be a coincidence, Dee continues the hunt for information. But when she finds out the plans for the future colony, she realizes that to save what is left of humanity, she might have to do something that risks what remains of her own.

My thoughts:

I love this series of interconnected books set in the same universe following the mysterious Pathfinder across the galaxy to a new world after Earth is destroyed.

After Atlas explores virtual reality, guilt and revenge.

Dee is an unreliable narrator, but the only one we have, and so as she investigates those onboard the colony ship, we learn as much as she is willing to share.

This makes the plot more intriguing and Dee a fascinating character, the twist at the end I did not see coming, making it all the more delicious.

Newman is a very skilled writer, and very nice too (I met her at last year’s Gollanczfest), and this demonstrates her world building skills, setting much of the novel inside Dee’s mind as she plays an immersive VR game, which takes skill.

Highly enjoyable and smart, I just need to read the rest of the series soon.

I was kindly gifted a copy of this book by the publisher with no obligation to review.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Chasing Solace – Karl Drinkwater*

The legendary Lost Ships exist, and they harbour nightmarish horrors. Opal knows. She barely survived her first encounter with one.

Despite escaping, she failed to find what she was looking for: her lost sister. Now Opal must board a second derelict Lost Ship to seek answers, and it’s even more monstrous, a sickening place of death and decay. To make things worse, the military government wants her, dead or alive. Considering their reputation, dead may be better.

To find her sister, Opal will risk everything: her life, her blood, her sanity. There’s always a price to pay. Armed with her wits, an experimental armoured suit, and an amazing AI companion, she might just stand a chance.

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.

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My thoughts:

I loved the first book in this series and so was thrilled to get to be on this blog tour, and Chasing Solace did not disappoint.

Picking up where we last left Opal and her super smart AI Athene (formally Clarissa) are still on the trail of the Lost Ships and their secrets, searching for information about Opal’s lost sister, last seen boarding the ship they found in book one.

Along with the strange beings that make Lost Ships their home Opal now has a determined assassin in a ship almost as smart as Athene on her tail.

The action doesn’t let up, and although I found one section rather mind boggling and a little confusing, which I think was the point, I really enjoyed this. Bring on book 3!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Book Review: Chilling Effect – Valerie Valdes*

A debut space opera that features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her misfit crew . . .

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister is kidnapped, Eva must undergo a series of dangerous missions to pay the ransom. But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead, and her engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

My thoughts:

This book is so my thing it’s ridiculous.

Funny, snarky, sweary, space captain teetering on the edge of legality, oh and the hold’s full of psychic cats.

I love the characters, I love how messy and ridiculous they are, I love the plot with all its twists and double crossing and secret agendas. The writing is so good, I devoured this book in no time at all and then realised I’m in for a long wait for book two since this is so new!

More psychic cats!!!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book with no requirement to review, all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The God Game – Danny Tobey*

Five best friends in a high school computer club get sucked into an underground hacker’s game run by a mysterious A.I. that thinks it is God. It’s all fun and games until people start to get hurt.

And the stakes keep getting higher. As the Game pits them against each other and turns their high school upside down, it offers the ultimate promise – win and learn the meaning of life; die in the game, and die for real.

My thoughts:

There seems to be a little trend for books about sinister tech recently and I am here for it. This book takes the teens at its centre to some extremely dark places, manipulated at every turn by the AI at the core of the game.

It’s a twisted tale of how dangerous things can get when you’re playing against something with no morality, and when you feel you have no escape.

The writing is compelling and the plot engaging. You find yourself rooting for Charlie and his friends, but at the same time wondering about the consequences for their actions – or whether they’ll walk away from any of it.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: 17 Church Row – James Carol*

Three years ago, Nikki and Ethan Rhodes suffered a devastating loss when their four-year-old daughter Grace was tragically killed in a road accident. Ethan, a radio personality, escapes into work, leaving Nikki to care for their remaining child, Bella, who hasn’t spoken since that day.

Seeking a fresh start, the family moves into a revolutionary new house designed by renowned architect, Catriona Fisher. The house features a state-of-the-art security system, along with every amenity you could dream of.

For the Rhodes’ this is a chance to finally pick up the pieces and get on with their lives in a place where they feel totally safe.

But what if 17 Church Row isn’t the safe haven that they think it is?

 

My thoughts:

Smart houses are becoming a thing of reality, though not to the extent of this particular one. It’s an interesting take on the Gothic creepy house genre in a way, where the house really is watching your every move.

The Rhodes family become victims of an unhinged AI system, Katy, which if you read my blog regularly, you will know is a favourite sci-fi trope of mine. I love it when the machines rise up and go after their creators – as long as that remains fiction, I don’t want my washing machine or phone to go rogue!

I found this fascinating and a little scary, technology is moving so fast that keeping up can be tricky.

The writing was fluid and gripping, I felt for the characters trapped in this nightmare, trying to recover from trauma and finding themselves in another terrible situation.

 

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour, but all opinions remain my own.