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Vigilance by HG Chambers

Source: Amazon
Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This book follows on immediately from the end of Recreance. We meet up with the main characters from the previous book, and a new thread begins, following one of the minor characters from Recreance, Anzien.

I really enjoyed picking the story line up from where Recreance left off and exploring more of the world these characters inhabit. Getting to know Anzien and follow her path was a welcome expansion from Book 1. Chambers’s storytelling is vivid and engaging, and for the most part his writing does not get in the way of imagery, making Vigilance a pleasure to read.

I have only one complaint: Vigilance was too short. I would have gladly read on beyond the last page. Needless to say, I will be eagerly anticipating the next book in the series.

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Recreance by HG Chambers

Source: Amazon
Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

A friend of mine let me know about this book a while back. Searching for something to read, I decided to pick Recreance up.

The two main characters, Clem and Oren, are teenagers. As one learns, they live in a closed city that is sheltered from the damaged world. The Ministry runs the city, and life is pleasant. Or is it? At the beginning of the story, they inadvertently come across a Breaker – a type of deadly interrogator the general population have no knowledge of. When Oren’s great grandmother disappears instead of Ascending, Oren’s family is threatened. A ko’jin named Khalil rescues Oren from destruction at the hands of Breakers and they travel away from the city and out into the world. And that’s just the beginning of the story.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Chambers had my attention from the first page, and I just kept on reading. A real page turner. The worldbuilding is excellent, and very inventive, with creative monsters. Chambers certainly has an outstanding imagination. It’s not every day one comes across something so original, unencumbered by the numerous tropes that litter scifi.

I will be looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Oh – and I simply ADORE the cover.

Extinction War by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Source: Amazon
Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

At long last, the eagerly-anticipated finale to the Extinction Cycle. I was very glad to finally be able to get my hands on this (Oh, the hardships of waiting for the author to write, then edit, a new book!) and dig in.

And I was not disappointed. Not one bit. It was really good to get back in touch with Reed, Kate, Horn, Fitz and Rachel. Can’t say I was as pleased to be reaquainted with some of the other characters, but I suppose villains must have their moments. I didn’t do a re-read of the previous book prior to picking this one up, so I did have to stop and think a few times at the beginning about just where the previous book had left off – but that was my own fault for not being prepared. Smith gave an adequate account to recall events to my memory, and that was all that he needed to do. I actually found it fun to be reminded of where things were at. One of the hazards of reading a lot of books. Also, huge kudos to Smith for not dropping a single thread. This story is very complex, with action taking place all over the Northern Hemisphere between Alaska and Rome, and each story line was tightly controlled and clearly related.

The quality of writing in this book was of a very high standard, and exactly what I’ve come to know and expect from Smith. The storytelling too was exemplary – Smith certainly likes to keep us on the edges of our nerves! But then, what would a Smith book be if that wasn’t the case?

Overall, a MUST read for Extinction Cycle fans, and if you like post-apocalyptic fiction mixed with military action, biomedical disaster and some (highly-plausible, thus scary) science fiction, then do pick up Extinction Horizon, the first in the series. A solid five stars from me.

Thank you for the wild ride!!

Outzone Raider by Mike Sheridan

Outzone RaiderSource: ARC from the author
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

2041. THE GREAT GLOBAL WAR IS OVER. WHAT’S LEFT OF AMERICA IS IN CHAOS.

Beautiful but cynical exo-robotic operator, Vikki Gurin is playing a dangerous game. To make extra money for her family, she supplies Outzone bandit, Dima Aslanov with the information he needs during his daring raids across New Haven’s border. But when Aslanov and his bratva crew steal vital supplies destined for the federal government, he takes a step too far. Despite being caught up in America’s deadly secessionist wars, the US military are forced to turn their attention on him.

War-weary, Hoke Thompson didn’t expect to return home to find himself fighting fellow Americans. But these aren’t ordinary times. When his special ops team, Tactical Unit 8 return from rebel-held Oklahoma City, they discover their next mission is to neutralize a certain Dima Aslanov. Soon, Vikki gets caught up in the drama as the military hatches a plan to take the bandit down. Can she protect her family yet remain loyal to the Outzone warlord–or does something have to give?

Set against the backdrop of a brutal, war-torn America at the height of the secessionist wars, Outzone Raider interweaves two personal stories to a thrilling conclusion, as well as exploring both the rise of the Outzone and the fledgling New Haven State. Like all stories set in the Outzone World, there’s plenty of action–the characters riveting and believable.

First there’s a world war, and then the American soldiers return home to a divided country, which leads to the secessionist wars. A new state is created in the mid-west, New Haven, and this story is set in the years before a wall is built between New Haven and the Outzone, the latter being a lawless territory where those who wish to try their luck at survival.

Vikki Gurin is feisty exo-robot operator in New Haven’s Industrial Zone. It’s a gritty, hard place to work, but she likes her colleagues and the hard work. She is also a pair of eyes for Dima Aslanov, an Outzone bandit who likes to raid warehouses in the IZ for supplies. One night she hears of supplies of shelters, an order for the federal government that’s located in the heart of the IZ, and she decides to tell Aslanov about it. However, she leaves out information about the destination of the supply.

Dima Aslanov has one rule: if he’s to steal anything from the Industrial Zone, it must not be destined for the federal government. His raid for the supplies is successful, but it turns the eyes of the government and the intelligence organisations on his activities. It isn’t long before things heat up – for both Dima and Vikki.

This is a well-crafted post-apocalyptic thriller. Sheridan easily drew me in to the gritty world of Vikki and Dima, bringing the characters and their lives to life. It was good to get back into this setting and get to know it better through the eyes of a new group of people.

Things definitely do not come easily in the war-torn Americas, and one must take chances to get ahead. But which chance will be a step to far? Excellent post-apocalyptic fare, with great action and nail-biting suspense.

Scavenger: A.I. by Timothy C Ward

Scavenger AISource: ARC from author
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Hundreds of years ago a nanotech virus nearly wiped out humanity. The kernel of that technology has been locked in a buried military and guarded from warlords and tyrants by a class of sentries. Divemaster Rushing Stenson and his wife Star thought their journey underground would lead to the discovery of the ancient city of Danvar. Instead, they resurrected a power perfect for the tyrant that put them there. He plans to use this self replicating technology to rebuild America and give life eternal to those loyal to his empire.

In Scavenger: A.I., Rush, Star and their crew of survivors see an opportunity to use this power to defend their new territory and rewrite the course of their lives and country in a way that would make their children proud. However, as they discover the oddities of this power, it may be too late to reverse the evolution they’ve seen within. And some aren’t interested even if they could. Even if what they’re becoming is too much like the tyrants they’re fighting.

As the nanotech and infusion of the power source they’ve uncovered changes Rush and Star, they are tempted with the chance of bringing their deceased newborn back to life. Will this child be the one they knew, and if not, how far into dangerous territory will they go to force what shouldn’t be?

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Picking up where Scavenger: Evolution left off, Rush and Star face a new threat in the form of W, formerly Warren, who has embedded himself in the nanotech world. As W tries to bend their wills to his, and revive the dead in a macabre bid for power, Rush and Star – as well as other players – seek to understand their abilities and those of their companions. To be honest, I’m completely unsure how many variants of nanotech were introduced during the course of this story, except to say ‘quite a number’. Each with their own quirks and abilities, too.

This is a story of divided loyalties, dreams, pursuit of power, and hope. Again I enjoyed the diving sequences, and the demonstration of abilities those with nanos have – as well as those simply with enhanced Poseidon suits. There is more action (and reaction) than there really is character building, but at the same time Ward does take his characters on a journey that requires them to make decisions and face realities they’d rather not have to deal with. And it definitely asks how one would react when you don’t know if those around you are friend or foe. At times the story is confusing, but this is more a product of the character’s own confusion (usually relating to the M-MANs than anything else) than it is Ward’s writing. One is kept on one’s toes, asking as many questions as the characters are, and the resolution is as much a surprise for the reader as for the character.

A complex story told well, and I hope there is more to come.