Free Fiction Friday #233

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy!

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Free Fiction Friday #229

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Science Fiction & Fantasy!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: The Other Me

review-cover-the other meTitle: The Other Me

Author: Sarah Zachrich Jeng

Genre: Thriller, Science Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

On her twenty-ninth birthday, Chicago artist Kelly steps through a door at a gallery opening and emerges in her Michigan hometown. Suddenly her life is unrecognizable: She’s got twelve years of the wrong memories in her head and she’s married to Eric, a man she barely knew in high school.

Racing to get back to her old life, Kelly’s search leads only to more questions. In this life, she loves Eric and wants to trust him, but everything she discovers about him–including a connection to a mysterious tech startup–tells her she shouldn’t. And strange things keep happening. The tattoos she had when she was an artist briefly reappear on her skin, she remembers fights with Eric that he says never happened, and her relationships with loved ones both new and familiar seem to change without warning.

But the closer Kelly gets to putting the pieces together, the more her reality seems to shift. And if she can’t figure out what happened on her birthday, the next change could cost her everything…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Talk about a journey. The Other Me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng wasn’t exactly what I envisioned when I picked it up. I remembered looking at the genre and expecting it to fall into a very specific box, but as I read, I discovered the story to be so much more than that. The plot unwound slowly, bit by bit as the main character, Kelly, navigated this new, familiar, but… off world she found herself in, and I was totally engrossed in her journey.

The characters, for the most part, had a real depth to them – they were complicated people and they weren’t perfect by any sense of the word. There was always a sense of unease underlying everything they did – making you wonder if they knew what was going on. The story was masterfully crafted in this way.

The only real drawback to the story for me was that the main character’s voice often made her seem detached. Sometimes I found it even hard to like her because she didn’t quite feel human. She used a lot of thesaurus-words that didn’t fit her art-student background, and it kept reminding me that it was an author writing this story, not necessarily a character telling it.

All that aside, if you enjoy thriller books with time-travel, science fiction, or alternate reality spin to them, I’d recommend you pick this up. Despite how I felt about the main character, the book was well written and I thoroughly enjoyed the complexities of the plot.

Free Fiction Friday #225

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is:  Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: Knight in Paper Armor

review-cover-knight in paper armorTitle: Knight in Paper Armor

Author: Nicholas Conley

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wanted to like Knight in Paper Armor by Nicholas Conley. The synopsis was interesting, the cover was beautiful, I liked the genre, and the world-building was interesting… but I put the back down around chapter twenty-one.

Where this book lacked for me, was the writing itself. It was mediocre at best. The children characters didn’t talk like children. The Young Adult characters didn’t talk like Young Adults. There was an elaborate world and past history to the story, but at least as far as I got into the book, none of it was explained or tied into the plot in any way. Throughout the story I got this feeling that the worldbuilding and setting were arbitrary – you could have taken the characters and their histories and put it directly into a contemporary setting, and it would have made zero difference to the book. The connection between Billy and Natalia seemed tenuous and forced.

So much of the beginning of the book was filling in the backstory for the characters that I kept wondering when the story was going to actually begin. By the time I quit, at 21 chapters in, nothing significant had happened to drive the plot forward. I take that back… one thing happened. Natalia was thrown in the trunk of a car – but even that couldn’t keep me reading. I grew bored and tired of slogging through detail that didn’t matter.

There will be readers out there that enjoy this book far more than me, but in my opinion, the writing was lackluster. It didn’t feel like a well-refined and polished book. It didn’t suck me in, I didn’t care about the characters, and I didn’t feel any sort of draw that would keep me reading.

Book Review: Hers, Unleashed

reviewcover-hers unleashedTitle: Hers, Unleashed [Hers 3]

Author: Anna Adler

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Silenian security guard Kaitlyn Bennett has won the proverbial lottery. A male hybrid matching all her fantasies has chosen her from thousands of other women. For three months, he will be her personal sex toy—a dream come true made possible by the planet’s new legislation.

Roth is in desperate need of a hideout, and becoming a sex pet on Silenia is the perfect way to disappear. All he has to do is entertain his beautiful human Mistress until his enemies give up the search—and be paid for the pleasure. What could go wrong?

As it turns out, a lot. The Traditionalists on Silenia have had enough of the new order, and Kaitlyn and Roth end up fighting side-by-side against the rising crime. Roth discovers he enjoys his new role, almost as much as he enjoys being the object of Kaitlyn’s desires…

But as Roth’s time on Silenia comes to an end he has to decide which he wants more: his money or the woman of his dreams. And when disaster strikes, is the bond between Kaitlyn and Roth strong enough to save Silenia, or will his secret be the end of them all…?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I always feel conflicted after reading Anna Adler’s work, and Hers, Unleashed was no exception. The whole infrastructure of treating sentient beings as pets doesn’t sit well with me even though they are being treated well. The similarities to slavery and the potential for abuse leaves me feeling skeeved out.

I do understand, however, that for some, this sort of thing is tied into a submissive/dominant fetishism and power dynamic fantasies, and I can respect that. Because this is erotic fiction and not real life, I am willing to look past it and try to enjoy the story for what it is.

I like that the overwhelmingly unethical practices of the world were changed for this installment of the series. It was nice to see change being enacted.

Despite the afore-mentioned misgivings, the book was well-written. It flowed well and I didn’t run into any major typos or grammatical errors. The characters were interesting, and the sexual-tension between Roth and Kaitlyn was searing. Overall, I enjoyed the book… but I will caution that it isn’t going to appeal to every reader. It’s hard to get past the pet system, but if you can, it’s a fun read.

Book Review: Cynetic Wolf

reviewcover-cynetic wolfTitle: Cynetic Wolf [Wolfish 1]

Author: Matt Ward

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopian

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

It’s 2096, sixty years after ninety percent died from a man-made Bioplague. Humanity has splintered into four unequal subspecies: immortals, cyborgs, enhancers, and subservient half-human, half-animal hybrids.

The world is anything but equal. Hybrids everywhere are suffering, but sixteen-year-old Raek Mekorian, a wolfish with a nose for trouble, doesn’t see an alternative. Except the Resistance, who don’t stand a chance against the world government. His mom always said, “Keep your head down.”

And he does, until his sister is murdered by a pair of cyborgs. Overnight, his simple life is shattered, fracturing the rigid governmental caste as he is thrust into the dangerous world of superhuman hit squads, Resistance uprisings, and secrets better left unsaid.

With only built-in blasters and the advice of a mysterious professor, Raek must navigate crushing betrayal, self-doubt, and a limitless enemy whose evil knows no bounds.

Can Raek unify his people and free them from tyranny? The fate of mankind may rest in his hands.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I had a bit of trouble getting into Cynetic Wolf by Matt Ward, and to be honest, I didn’t finish it. I ended up quitting the book at the end of the first chapter.

Overall, I found the book to be well-written in that there weren’t a lot of typos, it was grammatically correct, the punctuation was clean, and the narrative voice flowed well. I cannot fault its editor. I also adored the world-building – it was a fresh new idea, and vibrant in the way it was described. I found the futuristic world in which the characters lived to be fascinating.

Where I ran into issues with the book, and why I ultimately set it aside, is that though this is a “young adult” book, it read more like a middle-grade book. I genuinely thought the main character was maybe 13 before I looked up what the book was categorized as. Simple writing isn’t bad – as I said earlier, it flowed well and it was clear and easy to read, but it sounded juvenile, especially in the way the main character interacted with his mother and with his internal thought processes. I think the book was miss-categorized as a young adult book, and it would have been better received in a younger audience with some adjustments.

Another issue I ran into was a few minor writing style faults – repetition of ideas when they didn’t need to be repeated, details that didn’t make sense in the timeline, and the pacing of the scenes. The dog running away at the beginning of the story should have been fast-paced, and instead, it dragged on while the kid called his neighbor, walked home, talked to his mom, walked some more, talked to more people, wandered into an alley, and then eventually found the dog. I couldn’t figure out what the author was trying to do by dragging the scene out, and it would have better served the tension of finding the mutilated dog had the whole sequence moved faster and been more impending. Slowing it down muffled the impact, and in the end, I grew bored waiting for things to happen.

I think if you can look past these problems, you might enjoy the story, but as someone who copyedits novels for a living, it’s really hard for me to set these sorts of problems aside to enjoy the greater story.

Free Fiction Friday #221

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is:  Science Fiction & Fantasy!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Free Fiction Friday #217

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is:  Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: Immersed

reviewcover-immersedTitle: Immersed [Configured 2]

Author: Jenetta Penner

Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Just when she thought it was safe to step into the light.

After a daring escape from Elore, Avlyn finds that the Outerbounds isn’t the haven of freedom she’s hoped for. Deception and lies run rampant. Avlyn’s powerful Immersion ability marks her as dangerous, but highly valuable.

Will she find her place in this new world? Or have to die trying?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Immersed by Jenetta Penner is the second book in the Configured series, and was strikingly well-written. Though I will admit, having gotten ahold of an early review copy, the ARC I was reading had a few editing errors – I’m sure these are not present in the final version. Like the first book, I adored the characters, the complicated romance between the main character and her romantic interests, and the remarkable world-building of the dystopian world in which they reside.

My only critique, if it is one, is that this book does not stand alone. If you haven’t read the first book in the series, this one will be unduly confusing for you. There’s a lot that happens in the first book that directly ties into this one, and the author relies on you having started with the first book in the series to have all the information you need to go forward with this one.

That aside, I love this series, and this book was a great addition to it. If you like Science Fiction Dystopian series, you’ll probably really enjoy this one.