Catch-Up Quickies 30

First a quick explanation!

Due to some severe health issues over the last few years, and a lingering chronic condition, my planned review schedule went right out of the window and I have been scrabbling ever since to get it back on track.

In my latest attempt to try to regain some lost ground, I have been scrunching some of my (overdue) reviews together into one or two posts each week: shorter reviews, but still covering all of the points I intended to.

That’s the plan anyway and, despite a somewhat disturbing number of hospitalisations so far this year, I am soldiering on with it!

Title:  BIRD
Author:  Kim E. Wilson
Publisher:  Emerald Books

Blurb: A mysterious inheritance sends a woman searching through secrets past and present in this compelling novel from the author of Fireflies of Estill County.

Ellen Williams journeys to a place she’s never been, hoping to find answers. Why did a deceased stranger leave her a multimillion-dollar mansion? She has inherited the Caldwell Estate, a Georgia property so breathtakingly beautiful that a gift of this magnitude is beyond her understanding. This fortuitous event has come at a time when Ellen is struggling with her own direction in life; getting out of Louisville for a while is just what she needs. She soon discovers that Mrs. Caldwell was an enigma to many who knew her. With each step closer to untangling the mystery, Ellen is haunted by painful childhood memories: of her sister Jenny, a horrifying night in the past, and of Bird. It turns out that finding the truth has a price.

Review: This story is mostly told in Ellen’s present-day in which she has come into an unexpected inheritance, interspersed with flashbacks to the past and her relationship with her troubled sister, Jenny. Gradually, as the story unfurls, both Ellen and the reader begin to piece the two timelines together, finding the connection between her gifted mansion and the loss of her sister, and realising Mrs Caldwell’s motivation for the surprising bequest.

I was completely carried along by the story and was caught up with Ellen’s character in both of her timelines, completely immersed in the events and her emotions, so the abrupt ending came as a bit of a shock to me. It felt like there was no real resolution of the issues around the house, or the family members who had expected to inherit it… just a shocking one-liner and then finis! And I struggled to fit the information in that final revelation with the information in the previous letter – why would either of the characters involved bother lying when everyone affected is now gone? It left me feeling a little bit confused!

Other than that minor blip at the closing though, this was a great story about family trauma and how it can linger and continue to affect lives into the future, and about one woman coming to terms with what she believed about her own past and that of her sister.

Purchase Link: BIRD on Amazon

Title:  Compromised Inside
Author:  James Litherland
Publisher:  Outpost Stories

Blurb:  Beware the Gravity Bug.

Sealed off from the crumbling civilization outside, the residents of the FURC may be safe from external threats, but their isolation only speeds the spread of a dangerous new infection, even as an upcoming election exposes divisions among them. And the fourteen square mile compound may not be big enough to prevent the pressure from building into violent upheaval…

The series continues with Book 4: Peripheral Encounters, Book 5: Political Homicide, and Book 6: Seismic Disruption.

Review: ‘Slowpocalypse’ is the perfect word to sum up the unusual pace and content of this series as, unlike most post- or even mid-apocalyptic fiction, these stories focus more on the daily challenges of running the administration, political and security factions of the survivor’s compound.

This is the third in the series and it is a fantastic idea to have a summary of the apocalyptic events that brought us to where we are so far, as it helped to ground me more firmly in the ‘now’ of the book when I wasn’t having to constantly wonder about the ‘then’!

The main plotline consists of a mixture of political machinations and investigation, as the Council are attempting to appoint a democratically-elected leader, and a mysterious flu bug is taking over the community and making people act aggressively out of character, requiring Kat, Tony and David et al to investigate the ensuing and related crimes.

If you fancy some slow, thoughtful post-apocalyptic fiction, with the focus on the creation and survival of an enclosed community, and the challenges that poses to safety, health and happiness, then this is the series for you.

Do check out my reviews of Durable Impressions (#0.5), Critical Contingencies (#1) and Threat Multiplication (#2), as I would recommend reading this series in order for the best build-up of character development and plot background (even with the summary!).

Purchase Link: Compromised Inside on Amazon

Title:  Polyphemus the Blind: A Short Story
Author:  Matt Ferraz
Publisher:  Independently published

Blurb:  Trapped in darkness after being blinded by Odysseus, Polyphemus wanders aimlessly around his island. Will Hermes, the messenger of the gods, who shows up with a precious gift for Polyphemus, bring him redemption and restore his sight?

Review: This feels a little like cheating, as it is only a short story and therefore will be an even-shorter-than-usual review!

Despite its brevity, however, this is a compelling story that gives a new perspective on the blinding of Polyphemus, the cyclops, by Odysseus… the cyclops’ perspective.

Those who know the source mythology will know that this must be a tragic tale and Matt Ferraz also makes it a poignant one, highlighting the dangers of hubris and over-confidence, and the inevitable resultant fall.

It would be tricky to say more without including any spoilers (can you ‘spoil’ a story that is based on a well-known Greek myth?), so I will leave it at that and simply suggest that if you like mythological stories but given an interesting new twist, then check this one out.

Purchase Link: Polyphemus the Blind on Amazon

Title:  Death Donor
Author:  Matt Ward
Publisher:  Myrmani LLC

Blurb:  Would you sell your life to save another?

Special forces vet, Samantha Jones, is a lowly bodyguard for Ethan Anderson, the biotech billionaire who revolutionized life extension. But at least she’s got a job, unlike most, and won’t have to sell her organs to support her family. Sure, they’re poor, but she’s got death insurance and a roof over her head. Life is livable…

But then Sam’s daughter is kidnapped and sold for parts. Overnight, her life (and belief in the system) shatters. When the rich bastards get off scot-free, Sam’s weak husband commits suicide, and the ex-assassin snaps.

Someone is going to pay.

The question: how to kill the heartless elites that use the poor like livestock and whose security rivals the president? And then there’s the senator fighting to abolish life extension, the trillion-dollar corporate standoff, and bloody protests in the streets as conditions deteriorate. Things are about to get ugly.

Death Donor is a speculative fiction technothriller by renowned futurist and best selling sci-fi author, Matt Ward, that features espionage, political drama, and fast-paced adventure in the dark dystopian world of synthetic biology. If you like Michael Crichton, Daniel Suarez, or Neal Stephenson, or loved dystopian classics: the Handmaid’s Tale, Brave New World, and Ready Player One, you’ll love this page-turning science fiction thriller.

Grab Death Donor today if a fast-paced genetic technothriller filled with political espionage, bloody twists, and explosive turns sounds right up your alley!

Review: This punchy, fast-paced thriller combines vigilantism with politics in a plot to bring down a dystopian (but horribly believable) future society.

In Sam’s world, the poor donate their surplus body parts to the rich, so the rich can enjoy ‘life extension’ and the poor can scrape enough money to support themselves. Sam doesn’t seem too worried about it, as long as she can keep a roof over her family and afford to feed them. That is, until she finds out the hard way that some people are being kidnapped and sold for parts against their will, like her young daughter. And all of a sudden, Sam needs revenge and her military training has given her the right skill set to get it.

It’s kind of like a cross between Kill Bill or Taken with sci-fi stories about genetic modification like Spares. I was keen to better understand the details of the death-donor element of the story – the process, the science, how it worked in practice – but the main focus of the story is actually the vengeance quest, and themes of sacrifice, good vs. evil, and what we would do to avenge those we love.

Packed with action, violence and with a very intriguing central premise, this is ideal for those looking for a gripping, dystopian sci-fi thriller, with more focus on the twisty plot than on the character development or any emotional connection.

Purchase Link: Death Donor on Amazon

Title:  Aches and Epiphanies
Author:  Aries
Publisher:  Olympia Publishers

Blurb:  A collection of poetry, prose and thoughts from poet and songwriter, Aries.

From love lost to happiness found; from pain to joy and vice versa. The words of the unspoken and raw human emotions come to the fore.

For those who have stood face to face with love and it has been terrifying or have hidden secrets behind closed doors. For those who find comfort in the hands of another, you will learn, page by page.

As the universe takes its last breath, it looks at you with glittering eyes and smiles. You were worth the destruction.

Review: A collection of non-rhyming, prose poetry, with little snippets of thoughts and ideas sprinkled between the poems.

The text is split into two sections: Aches deals with pain, loneliness and the burning pangs of love and loss; Epiphanies feels stronger and more hopeful, more secure and confident in loving oneself. In fact, the book taken as a whole is an exploration of self – getting to know oneself, learning to love and be kind to oneself and so forth – and an exploration of love – what you want, what you need, the different perceptions of head and heart, body and mind, lust, friendship, the comfort of knowing and being known, and the explosions of two souls fusing.

Most of the poems are addressed from ‘I’ the poet to ‘You’ the reader, lover, ex-lover or friend directly, and the language too is direct and everyday, with clear, simple imagery, avoiding the fancy, shocking or unusual.

The simplicity of style and the universality of the content make this a good poetry collection for beginners to the genre, and I know I will be dipping in and out of the poems here again in the future.

Purchase Link: Aches and Epiphanies on Amazon

Today’s selection includes a short story and a poetry collection, just to mix it up a little for you!

For those looking for novels instead, there is dystopian mystery, dystopian sci-fi and dysfunctional family drama, all offering great opportunities for dystraction! 😉

Enjoy and happy reading, until I catch up with you all again.


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