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:

Monday, 5 June 2017

Day Moon by Brett Armstrong

Day Moon (Tomorrow’s Edge Book 1)
By:  Brett Armstrong
Publish Date:  March 26, 2017
Published By:  Clean Reads
Genre:  Young Adult, Futurist, Fantasy, Christian
Pages:  389 Kindle
Source:  Ultimate Fantasy Books
In A.D. 2039, a prodigious seventeen year old, Elliott, is assigned to work on a global software initiative his deceased grandfather helped found. Project Alexandria is intended to provide the entire world secure and equal access to all accumulated human knowledge. All forms of print are destroyed in good faith, to ensure everyone has equal footing, and Elliott knows he must soon part with his final treasure: a book of Shakespeare's complete works gifted him by his grandfather.

Before it is destroyed, Elliott notices something is amiss with the book, or rather Project Alexandria. The two do not match, including an extra sonnet titled "Day Moon". When Elliott investigates, he uncovers far more than he bargained for. There are sinister forces backing Project Alexandria who have no intention of using it for its public purpose.

Elliott soon finds himself on the run from federal authorities and facing betrayals and deceit from those closest to him. Following clues left by his grandfather, with agents close at hand, Elliott desperately hopes to find a way to stop Project Alexandria. All of history past and yet to be depends on it. 
Right away I get the horrible feeling that I’m looking at a very near future scenario that I definitely do not like. Physical books are being done away with by powers that be after being entered into an online repository. Then I realize that this is actually sort of happening to me right now as I haven’t read a physical book for probably two or three years. On one hand it’s great not having to lug heavy hard copy around but where is this possibly leading us?

In Elliott’s slightly future forward world we discover to a not very good or even safe place that is subject to manipulation by those that hold the keys of control to such online repositories. At the moment it seems impossible that our currently self/boutique-published works and even the vast world literature on the incredible Project Gutenberg digital library might ever see such a fate, but reading Day Moon has made me wonder.

After realizing the gift his grandfather left him on his passing is more than just a revered Shakespearean tome, Elliott, John and Lara somehow are forced together to embark on a dangerous and mysterious trail of clues on the road to finding the truth about Project Alexandria. We see themes of near future technology, cyber security, secret codes, mysterious clues, upper level forces that are orchestrating lives in the background, and faith. I thought the idea of electromagnetically controlled mostly self-driving cars fascinating though pretty awful, but then I’m a rebelliously independent type who dislikes even just the digitization of cars.

Elliott and Lara begin a sweet relationship that nevertheless is not all smooth sailing, especially as they are besieged by dangers from the beginning that bring on suspicion and distrust. Lara has a mind of her own but is by nature very supportive.

There were a couple of good twists that I didn’t see coming that take the story down some unexpected paths.  The pacing of the story is very even and while the ending leaves us at the bridge to book II, I didn’t feel wrung out to dry, but hopeful for Elliott’s continued quest. He’s pretty brave and at least willing to take a stand against what he sees as wrong-doing even if it pits him against powerful forces.

Overall I found book 1 in the series very intriguing, if somewhat too even-headed in writing style/pace, but readers will relish Day Moon for its near future scenarios that pinpoint pitfalls of what may be coming our way if we don’t pay attention. A great clean read. 4.4 stars!
From an early age Brett Armstrong had a love for literature and history. At age nine he combined the two for his first time in a short story set in the last days of the Aztec Empire. After that, writing’s role in his life waxed and waned periodically, always a dream on the horizon, till he reached college. At West Virginia University he entered the Computer Engineering program and spent two years pursuing that degree before an opportunity to take a creative writing class for fun came along. It was so enjoyable he took another and in that course he discovered two things. The first was the plot for a short story called Destitutio Quod Remissio, which the others students really seemed to love. The second, he realized he absolutely loved writing. For him, it was like the proverbial light bulb coming on. In the years since, describing that epiphany has been difficult for him but he found the words of 1924 Olympian Eric Liddell are the most eloquent expression for it: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” God gave Brett a passion for writing, and so feels His pleasure when writing.

After a few years passed, Brett got his Computer Engineering degree, but also completed a minor in each of his real passions: history and creative writing. In 2013, he began graduate school to earn an MA in Creative Writing. During that time he completed the novelization of Destitutio Quod Remissio and entered the 2013-2014 CrossBooks Writing Contest, which won the contest's grand prize. As of March 2015, Brett completed his MA and is presently employed in the West Virginia Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology as a programmer analyst.

Brett lives in Saint Albans, West Virginia, with his beautiful wife, Shelly. In the summer the pair garden together, and each day Brett continues writing his next novel.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Memortality by Stephen Provost

By: Stephen H. Provost
Publish Date: February 1, 2017
Published By: Pace Press
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 260 PDF
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Minerva Rus can raise the dead. And it might get her killed.

Minerva’s life has never been the same since the childhood car accident that paralyzed her and killed her best friend, Raven. But when the long-dead Raven reappears in her life, now as a very attractive grown man, she discovers that her photographic memory has the power to bring the dead back to life ... heal her paralysis ... and shape reality itself.

Pursued by a rogue government agent who wants to eliminate her and her talents, Minerva must learn to control her powers to save herself and Raven. Because if she dies, he dies as well―again.

Memortality has a really neat concept – use your memories of someone you loved that has died as a way of bringing them back. This made me think, what are memories really and can we actually use this human quality in some currently unknown way?

Minerva Rus, crippled in a childhood accident, has the gift of a photographic memory. She hasn’t really made use of it but once CIA operative, Bradley Carson, comes into her mother’s life and the family’s, things change. Minerva’s closest friend, Raven, who died in the terrible car accident that left her crippled, also returns to her as a grown up living memory who becomes more and more real the more she remembers him. Raven’s character is very sympa and I immediately took to him, especially as he cares a lot for Minerva.

The beginning jumps around a bit so that we get some back story but I like the pacing of the story and things develop quickly as Minerva tunes more deeply into her “gift” with Raven’s prompting. There are some good twists that I didn’t see coming, and Raven eventually is able to show her the “Between” world.

“Bradley Carson” is the agent who is torn between his duty to infiltrate Minerva’s life for interested higher ups and what he considers to be doing the right thing. He has to make some critical choices when one of his agency contacts, Jules, begins behaving strangely.

Eventually we discover deep, hidden family secrets. I think the author could have actually introduced these secrets earlier on to make the story overall darker and more compelling as the concept of giving the memortality gift could have very sinister and far-reaching implications. Provost could have made more of this to deepen the story I feel.

Minerva is a very independent thinker and I love how she makes up her own mind about what to do in situations no matter what others tell her even though she feels she’s seen by most everyone in a very negative way, and then too when her world is undergoing a complete metamorphosis. So a good female lead character.

The ending wraps up in a light and fun kind of way.

Overall, Memortality is a fast-paced interesting read that will entertain readers with the intriguing idea that our not well understood human quality of memory might actually be used for other interesting purposes. 4.3 Stars!
Stephen H. Provost is an author of paranormal adventures and historical non-fiction. "Memortality," his debut title on Linden Publishing's new fiction imprint, Pace Press, is due out in February 2017 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

An editor and columnist with more than 30 years of experience as a journalist, he has written on subjects as diverse as history, religion, politics and language and has served as an editor for fiction and non-fiction projects. His book "Fresno Growing Up," a history of Fresno, California, during the postwar years, is available on Craven Street Books, and his next non-fiction work, scheduled for release in June of 2017, will examine the history of U.S. Highway 99 in California.

In addition, the author has published several books as Stifyn Emrys, beginning in 2012 with "The Gospel of the Phoenix" and also including the nonfiction works "The Way of the Phoenix" and "Undefeated." He also has published three works of fiction: "Feathercap" (children's); "Identity Break," (young adult science fiction/adventure) and an accompanying novella, "Artifice."

The author served as editor of four young adult novels: the "Mad World" series by Samaire Provost - "EPIDEMIC," "SANCTUARY" and "DESPERATION" - and the award-winning "Lorehnin: A Novel of the Otherworld," Volume 6 in the Otherworld series by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson. He has worked in journalism as a news editor, sports editor and reporter for four daily newspapers in California, and is currently managing editor for an award-winning weekly, The Cambrian. He has worked as an educator and has been featured at occasional speaking engagements.

He lives on the California coast with his wife, stepson, cats (Tyrion Fluffybutt and Allie Twinkletail) and dogs.