Century Run by Michael W. Davis


Century Run by Michael W. Davis
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (168 Pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Losing his family to an alien invasion was the single most horrific thing in young Lex’s life. Joining Omni Corps, an elite fighting force with technology that allows the soldiers to live indefinitely, gives Lex and his team the chance to kill the beasts that destroyed old Earth. But as hundreds of years pass, Lex questions the validity of their missions and begins to long for a normal life.

But Omni Corps is big business, and the bureaucrats want to hold onto power. Can Lex and the members of his squad invoke the Century Run clause of their contracts, or will the people they’ve been protecting for so long find a way to have them terminated?

When you lose everything and humanity is on the brink of extinction, what is it that makes us human?

Lex Olson lost everything and vowed to destroy the alien race that devoured Earth. By joining Omni Corps, Lex and his best friend Cassie, give up one of the most important things about being human-mortality. New technology allows the Omni Corps soldiers to transcend years and essentially remain ageless. Yet, as decades and then centuries pass, the soldiers begin to feel separated from those that they protect.

Michael W. Davis drives home what it means to be human. From seeing the events in Lex’s life to understanding the catastrophic effects both physically and psychologically that the destruction of the human home world has held-the reader comes face to face with the reality that the universe still marches on. The story drives home the reality that technological advances, scientific achievement and world saving missions are unable to satisfy the deep human longing that Lex and Cassie feel.

Century Run is an amazing story that tells the story of the human race, balanced on the edge of extinction, rebounding and then rebuilding. Yet, this story is seen through the eyes of individuals who live outside the confines years of existence. Lex and his squad see generations of humans come and go, they are only awakened and brought back into the timeline to be the heroes, to save a world from the alien invaders or to settle colony disputes.

Yet, Lex finds himself questioning what he stands for and Michael W. Davis causes the reader to examine what is it that truly makes us human? As more centuries pass and there is a stronger disconnect from the human race, the reader begins to consider what is happening behind closed doors. The dialogue between characters is strong and the emotions are written so that they keep the reader connected with the characters. Century Run keeps the reader focused and unable to put the book down! The reader becomes one with Lex in the search for answers and the desire to implement the Century Run clause and rejoin the human timeline.

If you enjoy stories that cause you to question your own humanity, do not miss this epic book from Michael W. Davis!

The Pact by Brantwijn Serrah


The Pact by Brantwijn Serrah
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (243 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Fleshlings and darklings… Rune-weavers and demons… When you walk in the land of the Reaper, who will survive?

Serenity Walker has cast runes for as long as she can remember. Her teachers call her a prodigy, and her secret studies hold the key to unlimited potential. Once an orphan left on an old woman’s doorstep, Serenity finally belongs. But when her mentor is murdered right in front of her, her hopes of a home die with him.

Her quest for vengeance leads her into a dangerous deal with a demon. Armed with its dark power and her own talent with the runes, she blazes a trail across the lands where ranchers and railroad men are kings, where the prevailing law is the law of the gun. To find the man who reshaped her past, Serenity offers up her future. She’ll face a world where weavers are hunted down to be hanged, whipped, or burned alive…but she won’t face it alone.

As Serenity’s mission takes her farther than most weavers are willing to go, she’ll have to decide who her true enemy is: the wicked men of the world, or the powerful demon inside her.

Serenity Walker is an orphan and rune caster who learns how to be a weaver of runes from Jack, the local Sheriff. When Jack gets killed she makes it her life’s work to wander the world and find the man who shot Jack and give him the most horrendous death possible. To do this she must become a member of the Black Guild of weavers and bind herself to a darkling demon.

This was an interesting book and well written. Usually a story with a lot of flashbacks can be a bit disconcerting, but the change of timing from past to present in The Pact only enhances the story. Serenity is a very strong character who has a goal in life and will pursue it no matter what. Even an attraction to another Black Guild weaver does not make her stray from her path. At times the story sent a shiver down my spine, but I had to finish reading the book.

I’m not sure whether I liked this book, but the story certainly made me want to carry on reading. It had depth and passion, not romantic passion, but the type of determination and fieriness which makes the strong, but likable character that is Serenity.

The SHIVA Syndrome by Alan Joshua

SHIVA
The SHIVA Syndrome by Alan Joshua
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (467 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Beau Walker is a man without a field. Teaching at a backwater university after being dismissed from a government project because of his ethical concerns and bureaucratic maneuvers on the part of a one-time friend, Walker is an academic pariah until two soldiers appear one day. His former friend needs Walker’s expertise, and the professor—who is haunted by both his empathic abilities and the memory of the one time they failed him—has little choice but to cooperate
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In the Russian city of Podol’sk, a project partially based on Walker’s work has gone horribly awry, killing thousands and leaving traces of mysteries that threaten humanity’s scientific understanding. Discovering what occurred, and how to prevent it from happening again, falls on Walker and his new friends…But as secrets and revelations accumulate, the team’s combined knowledge and abilities may be inadequate to stop what’s coming.

What happens when science kicks open the door for humans to reach god-like powers of creation and destruction? When human consciousness is made so powerful that it annihilates a city of thousands and impacts the moon’s orbit? Blending the paranormal and science fiction in a thrilling mystery, Walker and his team race to find the key to SHIVA facing military intrigues and supernormal assassins. What is at stake? The eradication of life on earth by thought alone.

Are you equipped to face the unthinkable?

Would you like to read a book that not only entertains but causes you to rethink the human mind?

The SHIVA Syndrome is a read that draws the reader in from the first page. The story follows the nation’s top scientists as they research the devastating effects of the human mind gone awry. Beau Walker is a scientist with a secret, he is an extremely powerful empath and this research is right up his alley. As Beau and his team get closer to cracking the secret of what happened in Russia, they begin to realize that it is not too far out of the question that it can happen right in the United States.

The author lays out a solid storyline with strong characters and powerful backstories. As the story progresses, characters that blended into the background begin to take development and soon the reader is immersed in a world of espionage, secrets and lies. The descriptions, dialogue, and events portray the reality that this novel could be happening in reality right now. The research was strong and had a solid foundation leading the reader to understand that the author has immersed himself in research or has a background in the topics he is writing about.

I personally loved the deep descriptions of the medical/biological components of the story. It is evident that the author has a strong background in the sciences and this cannot go unnoticed by the reader. Nothing is left lacking and the story flows smoothly without feeling forced. I found myself having a difficult time putting the book down since once the excitement began, it would rarely even taper off. I also found myself drawn to the characters; following their lives and being drawn in by their stresses and theories. The suspense from the plot was one that resonates with the reader long after the book is put down for the evening.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a science fiction journey that is so well researched that it truly could be happening right now! This was one book that caused me to rethink what happens behind closed doors.

Siren’s Song by K. M. Tolan

SONG
Siren’s Song by K. M. Tolan
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (261 pgs)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

He was of two minds about everything, and one of them wasn’t human.

Humans called the crystalline creatures Sirens. They could kill with a scream. Decapitate with a single slash of their cutting fins. The aliens were the most vicious life form Earth ever encountered, and Scott had one trapped in his mind. Her name was Water, and her hatred for Scott’s species was only matched by her desire to be free of him. Scott couldn’t agree more, but neither of them understood the cost of letting her out. In order to save their sanity, Scott and Water have to save her people.

When all of your life you desire peace in your mind and the time comes that your desire is granted, you may soon wish that it wasn’t.

Scott Rellant is a normal human with an abnormal mind. An alien species that we are at war with resides in his brain and has remained there since shortly after his birth. Due to an act that saved his life, Scott was cursed with the alien named Water, who lives inside of his mind and can take over all functions of his being on occasion.

This was a phenomenal story in which two different species must work together to understand the other or risk losing everything in the mix. The author goes so much further than just addressing the opposite viewpoints of Scott and Water, he dives deep to look at the emotional impact of institutionalization for Scott due to Water’s presence, the disrupted family dynamic that Scott is forced into and the loss of family and even purpose for Water.

K. M. Tolan works through the separation of Scott and Water and presents both sides in such a remarkable way that the reader feels interwoven into the story. The feelings that Scott and Water feel, the internal and external struggles become so real to the reader that putting down the book is not an option. To right what was wronged so many years in the past, Scott and Water join forces to combat an evil that is ever present in our own world today.

Siren’s Song touches on so many relevant topics we face today both emotionally and morally; and the threads of the story are woven so strongly that that once you are done reading Siren’s Song, you just want to pick it up again and begin reading again! I must admit I have not read a book that resonated with me this well in a long time. I cannot wait to pick up another book by K.M. Tolan, but truth be told, the next book by him will have a high bar to aspire to!

Menagerie à Trois by R.J. Hore

TROIS
Menagerie à Trois by R.J. Hore
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Historical
Length: Short Story (108 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Things are looking up for Randy C. Alysious – and that makes him nervous. Instead of struggling to drum up some business, he’s got three cases on his hands. There might be a common thread uniting them, if only he can figure out who the real bad guy is. To make matters worse, old, powerful magic might be involved and there’s no outrunning the reaper, though his kid might be outsmarted – at least for a little while.

Even magical worlds sometimes have unsolved crimes.

As interesting as the descriptions of other parts of the plot were, the food is where the narrator really made me visualize what was happening. Would I want to try everything described in this book? No, but there was something appealing about almost every dish. Figuring out which parts of new dishes were appetizing to me only made me enjoy the storyline more than I already did.

There were times when I had trouble keeping all of the characters straight. This was especially noticeable when it came to individuals who weren’t directly connected to the crimes that Randy was trying to unravel.The story simply didn’t have enough room to show what was going on with all of them without also slowing down the plot. While it was definitely a smart decision to keep everything moving, the end result of this was that I wasn’t able to get to know certain characters well enough to keep all of their backstories attached to the right people and creatures.

The dialogue regularly made me smile. One of the things I appreciated the most about it was how closely the author tied it to the setting. There are certain words and phrases that make more sense when they’re used in the same room as a goblin, elf, or gnome. I hadn’t even realized that a few of them are so well-suited to these scenarios until I saw how Mr. Hore interpreted them. Once this happened, I only grew to like the dialogue even more than I already did because of how smoothly it all fit together.

I’d recommend Menagerie à Trois to anyone who enjoys fantasy tales that include a few mysteries to solve as well.

Amber Legacy by Kevin B. Henry

LEGACY
Amber Legacy by Kevin B. Henry
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical
Length: Short Story (80 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Mitchell and Crystin are living on the west coast of Florida in the Seventies. He has the beginnings of a loving family and couldn’t be happier. It’s remarkable how quickly things can change. Perhaps the fate of a Teithwyr Amser is to never be stable, never find love without defending it against the rest of the world, against evil and against the fabric of time itself.

A simple TV documentary will spin Mitchell out of control as he first attempts to prove the filmmakers wrong and then ultimately find and protect his new family from a monster of his own creating.

A simple research project goes horribly wrong when murder and time travel is involved.

You can’t always predict bad consequences ahead of time. Sometimes they appear before anyone can stop them.

While there were a few times when I would have made different choices in their shoes, I always understood why the main characters thought other responses would work better. It was nice to spend time with characters who were so intelligent in both the academic and the practical sense of the term. This is something I look for in a story because I like to read about people who think through their options carefully and logically before deciding what to do. Seeing a character take these things so seriously is nice.

There were pacing issues in the first several scenes. The beginning was slow in large part because the narrator was explaining what happened in the first two books in this series. While the refresher was needed in order to make this something that can be read out of order or without already being familiar with the characters, I would have preferred to jump into the main conflict earlier on. At times I had trouble paying attention to what was happening because the first few scenes had much more exposition than they did anything else.

With that being said, once the pace picked up I was hooked on the storyline. One of the things I appreciate the most about Mr. Henry’s writing style is how much detail he’s able to pack into his scenes. In some ways this tale read like something two or three times its length because of how many different things happened during the course of it.

Amber Legacy made me wish I had the ability to time travel. This is a good choice for anyone who likes science fiction that asks its audience to help it answer questions about what humans should and should not do.

Amber Prelude by Kevin B. Henry

AMBER
Amber Prelude by Kevin B. Henry
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical
Length: Short Story (73 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When it’s sunny with a chance of time travel, where would you go if the world was at your feet and an assassin was on your trail?

Most people are constrained by time. Mitchell isn’t one of them. He can do anything he wants to do without any worry about running out of it.

What I appreciated the most about the main character was that he made intelligent decisions. They weren’t always decisions that I would have made in those particular situations, but I completely understood why Mitchell thought they were good ones. His thought processes were always logical. That is something that I really appreciate in a story!

The plot jumped among so many different times and places that I lost count of them all. In certain scenes it was confusing to keep track of when and where Mitchell was now because it all shifted so often and so rapidly. While I really liked seeing how this storytelling technique revealed certain facets of his character, it would have been easier to keep up with his latest setting if the narrator had been able to spend a little more time transitioning between them.

Imagine standing on the brink of a historical event and watching it unfold. I’ve often wished I had the ability to do that. The descriptions of what it felt like for Mitchell to experience things that happened long before he was born mesmerized me almost as much as the narrator’s explanation of how people like him can potentially affect the course of history. These passages were by far my favourite ones in this book.

Amber Prelude kept me on my toes. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys time travel tales.

Eagle En Garde by Olga Godim

EAGLE
Eagle En Garde by Olga Godim
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (303 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Darin, a mercenary officer, lives in Talaria, a kingdom surrounded by a magic-resistant spell. While some people wish to break the spell and invite magic back into the country, the fanatical sect of Cleaners is determined to prevent the return of magic. Darin doesn’t agree with the Cleaners’ doctrine but he doesn’t dispute it either. He is a soldier, not a philosopher. Then he accidentally overhears the Cleaners’ hidden agenda to destroy all magic workers in Talaria, including witches and elves, and his orderly life is turned upside down. His sweetheart is a witch, his daughter is a half-elf, and he has many elven friends. He can’t allow the Cleaners’ murderous scheme to succeed, can’t allow innocents to suffer from the rabid zealots. But what can a lone mercenary do against a horde of extremists? His only choice lies in trickery and deceit to outsmart his enemies. And the anti-magic spell on the border suddenly becomes his only ally.

Can one man change the fate of an entire country?

Darin knows that the odds are against him when he decides to take on the traitorous sect of Cleaners, but he absolutely cannot ignore a plot that would endanger his country and the people he loves. Darin abhors the Cleaners and their agenda. He’ll do whatever he can to stop them, even at the cost of his own life.

Darin exemplifies what a true hero should be. He is smart, brave, and fierce when he needs to be. However, he is also kind and considerate. He’s the sort of man who stands up for those in need and does not tolerate bullying of any kind. I particularly like that he treats others with respect and generally tries to give others the benefit of the doubt. While Darin always strives to do the right thing, he does have moments when he is selfish, rash, or makes poor decisions that cost him dearly. These flaws only serve to make Darin a wonderfully well rounded character. Perhaps the thing I like most about Darin is his genuine appreciation of life and the world around him. Darin’s time as a mercenary hasn’t hardened him. His curiosity and delight in discovering and learning new things was a pleasure to watch. I would be proud to call him my friend.

I love the world that Ms. Godim has created. As I followed Darin on his journeys, I could clearly see all the places he traveled through. I particularly like the description of Neazdal, a city where elves live. “Every house…glowed with its own color. The number of different shades was unbelievable…The colors blended in the middle, coalescing into each other. Violet transformed into gold, azure into dawn-pink, malachite into orange.” With descriptive language like this, Ms. Godim painted a picture of an absolutely breathtaking city that I dearly wish I could visit.

The pacing of Eagle En Garde is excellent. There is plenty of page turning action and adventure, but Ms. Godim sprinkles in some slower moments throughout the story when Darin spends time with loved ones or simply needs to recover after his many battles. The mix of the mundane and the epic gives this fantasy a realistic feel.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Eagle En Garde. Darin is a great character, and I had so much fun following him on his adventures. I must admit that I was a little sad when I finished reading. I hope that Ms. Godim has plans for a sequel because I wasn’t quite ready to leave Darin and the beautiful world of Talaria behind. I highly recommend Eagle En Garde to anyone looking for a compelling and engaging tale of adventure.

You Jane by Elizabeth Fountain

JANE
You Jane by Elizabeth Fountain
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (147 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Jane Margaret Blake’s problem isn’t her drinking. Sure, she’s missing work, and forgetting she’s already fed her cat, who’s getting a little fat. But Jane’s real problem is the reason she drinks: she writes stories that come true and wreak havoc in her life.

In her “fables” animals, people, angels, and the Universe itself conspire to destroy Jane’s last chance to be with her old love, or, just maybe, to bring her into the arms of a new love. Years ago, a fable pushed Jane’s best friend Charlie into marrying another woman. Now another fable shoves Charlie’s little boy in front of an angry dog – or worse, a wicked spirit bent on getting Jane and Charlie to face the truths they’ve spent a lifetime avoiding.

As her drinking and writing spiral out of control, Jane must finally discover how to write her own happy ending.

It’s hard to heal without acknowledging exactly what’s been broken. Will Jane be able to face her demons before it’s too late?

Jane’s flaws are serious and deep, but there was something about her that made me smile from the very first scene. There is something to be said for a protagonist who wrestles with her demons without having any indication beforehand of whether or not she actually stands a chance of beating it. It’s not necessary for me to like a protagonist as long as I believe in their mission and feel comfortable rooting for them. What surprised me the most about Jane was how quietly she grew on me as I plunged ahead into scene after scene with the hope that she’d be successful in her mission.

There were some issues with the pacing. The plot jumps from past to present so often that at times I had trouble remembering what Jane had been doing with her life before the last flashback. The flashbacks themselves gave me a clearer understanding of why Jane made certain choices, but they would have been even more powerful had there not been quite so many of them.

I really enjoyed the fables Jane comes up with when she goes into an altered state. They were original and beautiful. Just like traditional fairy tales, some of them had meanings that weren’t always immediately apparent. Attempting to figure them out was a nice interlude from the sad themes in this book, especially once the dark side of Jane’s personality becomes more apparent.

You Jane was one of the most thought-provoking stories I’ve read in a long time. This is a good choice for anyone in the mood for something that asks as many questions as it answers.

The Travelers by Keith Wayne McCoy

TRAVELERS
The Travelers by Keith Wayne McCoy
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Short Story (138 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Two time lines. One mystery. Sometimes the most intense journeys are not geographical.

In 1947, the Queen Mary transmits a message which is intercepted by extraterrestrial intelligence. This errant radio signal serves as a beacon for a North Atlantic encounter between James and Jess Bennett, a GI and his war bride, and an otherworldly, desperate mother and her two small children.

In the present day, Guy Turner, a melancholy, black filmmaker, finds himself at the center of a supernatural mystery after a haunting prelude with the now elderly mother in a corridor aboard the retired liner in Long Beach, California. Standing at the edge of eternity, the old woman and the Bennetts have the complex task of setting certain aspects of the past in order as the doors to their lives are closing.

Guy is thrust into an unexpected and unwanted voyage of self-discovery as he is solely enjoined to bring the three together one last time.

Many things are dulled by the passage of time. Love isn’t one of them.

The character development in this tale was strong, especially when it came to Guy’s personality and backstory. He has a complicated and sometimes contradictory set of motives that made me wish there will one day be at least one sequel dedicated to his personal evolution. Guy felt so real to me that I scrolled back up to the beginning to make sure this was a work of fiction. It was just that hard to believe that he wasn’t based on an actual human being.

The cast of characters is a little larger than I would have expected for something length. Had it been a little longer I don’t think I would have ever noticed this, but so many important people are introduced in the first chapter or two that I had a little trouble remembering who was who at first. This is a minor criticism, though, and as soon as I sorted everyone out I was quickly lured back into the enthralling plot.

Mr. McCoy wrote such detailed descriptions that I felt as though I was experiencing everything alongside the characters. From a sun-baked alien world to a retired transport ship, every single scene was so compelling that I ended up reading this story in one sitting. This was my first introduction to his work. Based on how impressed I was by his writing ability, I’m eagerly anticipating his next project.

The Travelers is an excellent choice for anyone who loves time travel in their science fiction. Be prepared to read it more than once though. I know I will!