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An unusual premise with a lot of future promise

EXOTIQA (YA Robot Cyberpunk Dystopia) (EXOTIQA WORLD Book 1) Kindle Edition
by M Black 
I love most Dystopian themed novels and it looks like we are going to be seeing more and more of them over the next few years as we try to adjust to our new reality.
However, occassionally one stands out, for its uniqueness. Exoitiqa stands out for the brave way Ms. Black takes on both the Asmovian Laws of Robotics and Dick’s questions of what humanity and consciousness actually mean when compared to AI.
Ms. Black, first replaces the standard Three Laws of Robotics with her six. The question is, did it make a difference. In the final analysis, no. Her laws and the change from the three that have stood for nearly a century really makes no difference, not even to the story. Unlike, say in RoboCop, where the rule change is central to the story, this could easily have been chopped. Like a lot of Exotiqa, changing Asimov’s laws was an unnecessary sidetrip.
We are presented with two heroines. Maci, a FlexBot who is evolving into a human consciousness, and Fione, seeimingly one of the only humans around who sees the swift (far too swift) take over by technology. This, I assume, is to set up a duality, but it meanders. Their shifting POV does move the story along, but often we experience similar things. A good hard Beta read would have cleaned this up.
We also experience, as the reader some continuity or other jarring issues.
For instance: At one point, Fione “bites a single nail on her finger.” How many people have more than a single nail on their finger? Other whiplash jarring moments include Fione ruminating on when ‘after we began kissing’ how she wondered how Pixel kissed, after he was kissing her.
Dystopia requires setting the world up, so that the reading can compare and contrast with the world they live in now. Black dumps the world on us, as if to say we are living in Dystopia because of the tech we currently have around us? I’m not sure, but I would have appreciated a little less woodsy adventure and more real world experience. For instance, the leader of Canada, inexplicably, is making world-wide laws. Clearly taking place in Canada, not even through the ever present HV (HoloVision instead of Television) do we see the rest of the world. It is as if the world stops at the Canada Border, particulaly in the Puget Sound, at the same time it doesn’t. Again, a hard Beta read was needed.
The adults in this world are powerful while being inept. Fione’s Mother discovers that the cost of a Rover have been embezzeled from her account, but it trickles through the conversation with a figurative “tutt-tutt”.
Normally, you would either have breadcrumbs leading to the villain, or a red herring or two. Instead he is waved out there just before he is plopped in out laps. And, must to a seasoned reader’s annoyance we get a villain’s monologue.
But there is a lot of promise in the storyline and the world, if Ms. Black can remember to not throw things like the numbers/colors game in, take up three or four pages with it, and then never use it.
I would have liked to have seen more of Pixel. He was the most interesting of characters, and he was just presented as is. His story arc should have been explored, instead of Fione’s.
A binary 4 out of 5

A sexy new series by a master of the craft

Souljacker: A Lily Bound Novel Kindle Edition
by Yasmine Galenorn 
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A solid sexy new series is born with a heroine who has a fascinating past and brilliant future.
Succubus Lily (very clever, Ms. Galenorn) , has found her place in a very dangerous dystopian Seattle, were Weres, Demons, Fae and Humans live in fear of the newly outed vampires. These vampires are not the lovable shiny kind, rather they are deadly predators who left their humanity at the coffin and have infiltrated the government and big business, to the point where the police are no longer solving vampire murders and a less than honest President has ordered Congress to give vampires full human rights, so killing one would be murder.
If that weren’t enough, Lily’s latest client, Tygur, a Weretiger is murdered by a vampire while in her home, turning the Were community against her.
More Urban Fantasy than Paranormal Romance, we are taken on a tightenly written, well imagined tour of a new universe by a true master of the two genres.
Ms. Galenorn is able to take what are well trod tropes and make them fresh, with a character who is a survivor but not some superpowered or ultra-trained special agent. Lily is your average, every day succubus trying to survive with a little damage to her heart or the world around her.
The dialogue is fresh, each character has his or her own voice. And the POV character, Lily is old enough to be strong but not hardened.
The scattered lovemaking is well written, and just right. Not so graphic as to cause a shudder but fitting with the characters involved. And the spark between them is clearly laid and perfect.
A solid 5 out of 5
This book is Book Nerd Approved!

Forgetable chick-lit hiding out in the PNR Aisle

Ghosts Don’t Lie Kindle Edition
by Katie O’Sullivan 
I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review via NetGalley.
Forgettable chick-lit disguised as paranormal romance.
Jillian was once a childhood psychic, a ghost whisperer, who thrust that all behind to gaing a normal life. Her life slowly, and I do mean slolwy, changes over an eventful Christmas to New Year’s week, starting with a beloved aunt’s car accident.
Jillian is incredibly self-aware, and must have had years of therapy, as she is the most realized and least stereotypical charcter in this book. She takes an enormous amount of personal blows, from a relative who apparently likes to murder other family members to marital problems to the return of her psychic gift and her first love, while rolling with the punches.
Meanwhile, all around her are stereotypes. Her husband, a typical less than honest high-priced lawyer, famous enough to make it to Page Six. Her mother, a new agey woman with less than new agey behavior and so on.
The plot plods on. I read this in a single sitting simply because I have insomnia. A couple of hundred pages felt like a Stephe King tome without the oomph. Also, the dialogue is terrible. Jillian always has the answers, always is calm.
Quite frankly, the three stars I give it here are too much. I realize that others like it but I am not a chick-lit fan and I like a little less Sex-in-The-City with my ghostly tales
Three shakey stars out of Five
This book is not Book Nerd Approved

Nevertheless,… we persisted

****POLITICAL MESSAGE COMIN****
Due to the Repeal and Replace ACA movement and due to its ‘replacement’ ACHA going after women’s health care, and due to the worrying motions towards cutting women’s care – including maternity and pre/post natal care as well as cutting family planning availability. I am reposting the review of Nicolas Wilson’s Whore. This is an important, prescient book that needs to get into the right people’s hands as it swiftly, SWIFTLY is coming into bei…
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Whores: A Gender War Dystopia
Not intended to be a factual account of the gender war.In the near future, women’s rights are eroding, and those who refuse their newly proscribed societal role are hunted as gender criminals, by the authorities when they’re lucky, and by militias…
AMAZON.COM

Astounding, fresh and redefines the PNR/UF Genre!

Lady of Silver (Blood & Silver) Kindle Edition
by Shona Husk
I received a copy of this wonderful book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
A fresh, astounding, rich take on not only vampires and magic, but on Urban Fantasy and romance.
With a serial killer running up a kill count, those kills looking like a vampire cult gone mad, Dale Morgan has no choice but to do the one thing he hates to do, turn to a psychic for help. His fellow police office had used it in the past, so his superior sent him on his way to Saba Venn’s New Age shop, for assistance. He is still recovering from his mother’s death. A mother who relied on magic and the occult, and he believes it may have killed her.
Ms. Husk redefines urban fantasy with a story full of emotion, where the heroine is strong but doesn’t need to fight physically. Her soul is as pure as the silver she uses. I’ve never read anything quite like this. Had I not had a doctor’s appointment in the middle, this would definitely been a straight through read. I wanted to chew through the pages, get to the end, any end, because the characters were so deeply, richly and fully drawn.
In Saba, we have a woman, a full and completely realized women, even if she is not human. She is Albah. A separate race that once was led by vampire-like Albanex, but their purpose has been lost, their graves guarded, the secret magic buried, lost and forbidden. While she is not technically human, she is the most human character in the field that I have seen in ages. A fully developed Complete Female Character that the readers of UF/PNR look so hard for!
And Dale, though at first the prototypical burned out, exhausted homicide detective, has his layers peeled away as he realizes that while there is magic in the world, and vampires and psychics, there is also love and healing if he has the courage to grab them.
This is more of a thriller than a mystery, as the killer is revealed, and his web is spun around our hero and heroine. Clearly, a malignant narcissistic with psychopathic tendencies and megalomania to boot, he is purely evil. When the magic that is required to become a Albahnex is revealed, the depth of his depravity is shocking.
The characters are not static, jumping through hoops of magic and sex. They all evolve, from the main characters to the side characters who are clearly being prepared for their own stories.
Speaking of sex, there is one short, scintillating love scene. The way it is handled is both delicate and thrilling. It left me panting a bit.
I do have to admit, though, the universe Ms. Husk created is so universal, it took me until nearly the end to realize that this takes place in Australia, not the States or Canada.
The ending, in itself, is deeply satisfying and a HEA in the making. Because the future is not a single path but possibilities.
I positively cannot wait for the next book.
5 shiny stars out of 5.
This book is Book Nerd Approved!

An Adequate or Beginner’s Alien Conquest Romance

Hunter’s Claim: Science Fiction Romance (The Alliance Book 1) Kindle Edition
by S. E. Smith 
An adeqaute, capable offering in the alien abduction romance genre. Jesse and here sisters are very extraordinary in this genre, which it what gives the book bite. They are fighter, and pragmatic. These are not the the typical scared out their wits, then head over heels (sometimes literally) heroines that run about some of the alien conquest stories.
The love scenes are mild and gentle, well handled and not graphic. This would be a perfect beginner’s alien romance.
I rather like the cat-like race and their protective streak, and their lack of the dominating strain that has been running through the males in the romance of late. Honestly, sometimes a girl just has to take control.
The plot is a simple, common one that I’ve even read the opening scene before, almost word for word in at least 2 other Alien Conquest romances and half a dozen post-apocalyptic novels.
All in all good, fast fun. I swallowed it whole in about 4 hours, one sitting.

4 stars out of 5

Best book I’ve read all year

Romance (The Phoenix Book 1)Kindle Edition
The best book I’ve read all year
With humor and tension and suspense, it is as if John Hughes, Stephen King and Dean Koontz all had a Millennial baby.
The main characters, Graham and Julia – their entire universe are typical teenagers. Except for the ubiquitous smart phones – they could have lived in any time from around 1975 through today.
All the young characters display the wild spring of emotions that teenagers (yes you do) experience. The tingle of first attraction, the gut wrenching pain of deep betrayal and that utter stab in the heart of humilation. It brought back definite memories.
The mystery, and the suspense hold hands tightly, keeping you going with enough “I knew that” bombs. I loved the way things wove together slowly, always piling on each other, like a literary game of Jenga. Or the perfect easter egg hunt as the pieces are laid out for you to see.

Cliffhanger WARNING. But you only drop a few feet, as there is a real world Happy Ending with parents being parents and friends being friends … and boys and girls being boys and girls.

Five definitely big stars out of 5

Pages Turn Themselves in this tight thriller

By Presidential Order Kindle Edition
by Anthony Anglorus
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review
By Presidential Order is one of the great books that benefits from the arrival of e-books and the new movement of independent publishers. While from the 1970’s to September 10, 2001, this book might have seen a short run from a small house, the fact that this is a religious, speculative science fiction novel involving a very unbalanced, charismatic President who allows his own beliefs to overrun the dangers of a new science and the kidnapping of Jeshu (Jesus or Yeshua), it would probably not see the light of day. But thankfully, e-books allows us to experience an important book that makes us question where our beliefs come from and what happens when scientists do the work without considering the dangers involved.
The characters are original and true to themselves. Jeshu is a magnetic personality, who is a man of the people, trying to preach love and tolerance. The President, an Evangelical Fundamentalist, is more interested in the writings of man than the actual Christ he is meant to worship. There sly naming games – Ryan Kane as the head of the CIA. Ryan is Gaelic for king, Kane of course is another spelling of Cain the first betrayer. There are also slights of hand, bringing in other religions, from the Goddess Culture, with the appearance of Mary, Mary Magdeline and Martha (the Christian version of the pagan Triple goddess) to the story of where Jeshu was from 12 to 29 – studying religions from mystery schools of Egypt that were nearly dead, to Buddhism and his realization that all religions have similarities. The President that is presented, as he was written in 2015 and early 2016, was eerily prescience. Where our current leader, Donald Trump, is as evangelical about what he loves most, money. President Fetter (another name play on restraints) is so deeply Fundamentalist, so evangelical, I have the same feeling I had on November 9, 2016. How the hell did he get in office?
Dialogue git each character, and there is no ‘thees” and “thous’ in the ancient speakers. Centurions behave as officers would behave today. Caroline, of the blue hair, has the odd confident in science, shy in personality of beautiful, intellectual women. And Jeshu, he sounds like the Jesus I believed in when I was a young Catholic and the Wise Man whose words I believe in know as a Wiccan.
Mr Anglorus presents the science necessary to travel through time, both ways, in such a way that right brainers like me can grasp it. I felt like I was listening to a Neil DeGrasse Tyson lecture about astrophysics. I can wrap my brain around what is meant, even if I can’t do the math.
Pages turn themselves because the plot is layered and fitted like an expert game of Tetris. Will the scientists when out over the crazy POTUS in what happens to the kidnapped Jeshu?
I have only one question, why did they have to actually physically kidnap him to please Fetter? Modern special effects can put Ewan McGregor’s face on his stunt double during a light-saber fight in Episode One. It would be cheaper to CG the resurrection.
5 of 5

Mask of Shadows Hardcover – September 5, 2017 by Linsey Miller  I gratefully and proudly received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. An utterly magnificent book! This is the reason I read fantasy, to be plunged headfirst into worlds that are so richly detailed and perfectly built that I am swept away with heroes that! Astounding! Outstanding! A modern fantasy classic! A sure front runner for the James Triptree Jr Award. This is truly bound to be a a classic because of the unique hero and layered world with a complete history that most writers would be hard-pressed to create. In fact, many masters have spent many books and years creating worlds of such integrity. Miss Miller’s work reminds me of masterpieces of fantasy in the same way The Hunger Games compares to Lois Lowry and Goldberg’s Lord of the Flies. Sallot/Twenty-Three is gender fluent and we are never shown his/her birth gender or why exactly this is. That is part of the mystery and the perfection. Sal’s voice is also unique. S/he is moral, in his/her own way, but clearly is willing to do what others are not in order to set things right. Sal’s family and country were swept away in a war by a weapon of destruction forged from magic. That magic, and all magic, were swept away to stop the war and that weapon. Now, Sal is trying to set the scales of universal straight but whatever means it takes. Sal has become a thief, highwayman to survive, and after robbing a particularly wonderful Elise, discovers an invitation to an audition to become the new Queen’s Opal, an assassin, one of four, that maintain the peace. The plot is foolproof, and laid out patiently, yet there is never a chance to take a break. Every character is complete, interesting and flawed the way living people are. Sal’s voice is perhaps the most unique and consistent that I’ve ever experienced and I am thrilled to have read this book. This is a book I will return to, read and read again. https://smile.amazon.com/Mask-Shadows-Linsey-Miller/dp/1492647497/