#BlogTour Broad Plain Darkening by Clare Rhoden

Today it’s my turn on this three book BlogTour with the second book in The Chronicles of the Pale series, Broad Plain Darkening by Clare Rhoden.

Enter the Giveaway below to Win Signed Copies of all three Chronicles of the Pale books & wolf-dog toy made by Borchetta Plush Toys of Australia (Open INT)

About the Author

Clare Rhoden is a writer, speaker and reviewer inspired by politics, culture and the march of history. Her thought-provoking stories and popular characters inspire hope and optimism through challenging times, with novels ranging from wartime history to the dystopian world of the Pale.

Follow @ClareER on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagram,Visit clarerhoden.comBuy Broad Plain DarkeningAbout the book

The safe world of the Pale is under threat.

Inside the policosmos, the new Regent Adaeze strives for dominance over the all-powerful Senior Forecaster, but the Pale’s humachine citizens are unaware that their city is close to collapse.

Outside on Broad Plain, the exiled human Hector undertakes a dangerous trek to find a safe haven for the orphaned twins. How can anyone survive as their world shifts underneath them?

Review

This time I got my map and glossary, which made me a lot happier, but then I discovered via the map that the world of the Pale is much more complex than I thought. This is the second book in The Chronicles of the Pale series. I highly recommend reading the first book, the Pale, to get a better understanding of the story.

The policosmos, which is ruled and run by machine augmented humans, find themselves in a similar predicament as those outside the walls when a catastrophe causes a supply and demand problem. Unfortunately they still have to rely on certain items and elements to survive and function properly. It looks as if the situations are being evened out a little.

One of the highlights of the first book was the toppling of the dictator by Adaeze, and in true absolute power corrupts absolutely fashion, she would do well to watch her back. Not everyone is as enamoured with her leadership skills as she is. Considering how she got to the top of the hierarchy pyramid I would spend more time keeping an eye on her alleged allies.

I have to admit the canini perplexed me a little. I kept forgetting that they are genetically enhanced dogs, because they have such a structured and human-like way of interacting. It’s like, wait… that’s not a person.

It’s post-apocalyptic fantasy fiction with sci-fi elements and leans towards speculative fiction. Rhoden manages to create characters with humane traits, despite  the genetic or technological components of each group, and in a strange way this is what appears to bring the very different groups closer together. I wonder if the next book will feature the downfall of the policosmos or the integration of tribes in order to survive. One can only hope.

Buy Broad Plain Darkening at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Odyssey Books; pub date 20 Oct. 2018. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Pale (The Chronicles of the Pale #1)

Read my review of  The Stars in the Night by Clare Rhoden

Enter the Giveaway to Win Signed Copies of all three Chronicles of the Pale books & wolf-dog toy made by Borchetta Plush Toys of Australia (Open INT)

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

#PublicationDayPush Sea of Lies by Rachel McLean

It’s a pleasure to welcome Rachel McLean back to the blog for the Publication Day Push for the standalone sequel to Thicker than Water, Sea of Lies by Rachel McLean. It’s a post-apocalyptic story about young love.

About the Author

My name’s Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think. What does that mean? In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen? My books aim to fill that gap.

If you’d like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I’ll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I’ll let you know when my books are on offer.

About the book

Sarah Evans has returned home after being abducted and held in a dilapidated farmhouse by a group of men. With her is Martin, who turned against the other men to help her escape. He says he’s not like them, and claims to be in love with her.

Can Sarah trust Martin? Does she share his feelings? Or should she listen to her father, himself deceitful and abusive, and turn her back on the relationship?

Sea of Lies is a chilling psychological thriller about secrets, trust, and a family falling apart. (A standalone sequel to Thicker than Water).

Review

This is the standalone sequel to Thicker than Water. You can read this without knowing the backstory, however I do recommend reading the previous book. It sets the scene and it’s an interesting read.

This book takes place in the aftermath of an abduction, when a group of men kidnap a number of women and young girls from a small isolated community. The intent is clearly something out of a caveman come re-population manual. The experience is traumatic and quickly becomes violent.

During the kidnapping Sarah gets to know Martin, the young man who helped facilitate the kidnapping of Ruth. He realises he has made a huge mistake and wants to make amends. He feels an instant attraction towards Sarah and is willing to do anything to protect her.

Sarah has to deal with the trauma of the abduction and returning to the abusive arms of her father. A man who likes to control and abuse the women in his life. The question is; who is the bigger danger to Sarah, her new admirer with the dubious past or her father with the tendency to lash out in anger?

This series is set in a rural coastal area in Britain after the country is devastated by a natural catastrophe, which gives the story a more approachable vibe. It doesn’t take place in an obscure made-up place, which makes it easier for readers to relate to the circumstances.

I felt this was more of a post-apocalyptic story about young love with a lot of abuse and a few murders, whereas the first had the gritty and desperate feel of a post-apocalyptic story. The author has plenty of ideas and creativity to draw from and I hope she doesn’t lose that sense of daring and the willingness to go beyond the normal parameters of the genre. I know the darkness is in there somewhere and is screaming to get out. *grins* I do believe this is just the beginning for McLean.

Buy Sea of Lies at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Catawampus Press; Ecopy pub date 22 Mar. 2019. Paperback pub date 17 March 2019Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Thicker than Water by Rachel McLean.

#BlogTour Spaghetti Head by Sarah Tyley

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for Spaghetti Head by Sarah Tyley. Don’t be fooled by the title, which suggests a fun and light-hearted read, it is in fact an intriguing mixture of futuristic and post-apocalyptic fiction with an emphasis on mental health, human rights and the oppression of the human race

About the Author

I grew up on a dairy farm in Somerset and had a lovely childhood running around outside, spending alot of time surrounded by cows. I would have to be biased towards Friesians, but really any cow will do – I love them all.

I have written a diary since I was twelve, and some years ago I thought to myself ‘hey, that must mean I’m a writer’ – and so I embarked on short stories. I never quite got the hang of those so moved on to trying a novel.

I currently live in France splitting my time between my gardening business, writing, and playing tennis. I love Roger Federer almost as much as I love cows

About the book

Journalist Nell Greene is intelligent, beautiful and quirky – but a failure at relationships, thanks to her untrusting and disruptive inner voice. She has received The Award, and refusing to help repopulate the earth can seriously complicate your life: it is time for Nell to change. In a world where greed, war, and an environmental disaster have massively reduced the population, survivors have introduced a new system of governance – led by women but delivered by robots, and designed to promote peace and remove opportunities for abuse of power. Or at least that was the intention… Will Nell overcome the challenges of life in a post-apocalyptic world to find happiness, or will the System win? Spaghetti Head is Sarah Tyley’s debut novel that addresses issues of modern womanhood, environmental devastation and the impact of technological advances on our freedom, relationships and mental health.

Review

Spaghetti Head is an intriguing mixture of futuristic and post-apocalyptic fiction with an emphasis on mental health, human rights and the oppression of the human race, in particular when it comes to the reproduction process. Women and men who conceive are more valuable than those who can’t reproduce.

The story takes place a long time after a natural disaster almost completely eradicates the human race. Now the earth is run by computer programmes, although they have ‘supposedly’ been programmed by humans. The focus is on the main character Nell, a woman with a successful career, but she is emotionally crippled by her paranoia and self-doubt. The System intervenes in her life to tell her it’s time to do her female duty and have a child, which means leaving her career to raise one or being forced into a new assignment or ‘life’ altogether.

My two favourite aspects of this premise are Cyd and Alice. Alice is the companion/pet bot who seems to be a lot more clued in than Nell the majority of the time. Cyd lives inside the spaghetti maze inside Nell’s head. Cyd is what Freud would call a very conscious Id of Nell’s personality. Cyd is like the inner voice who influences and convinces Nell, even if it is to her detriment. In reverse it is Nell who determines how Cyd acts, looks and speaks. This was an exceptionally innovative way to explain and show the thought process going on inside Nell.

This is a fascinating way to present a mental health problem. The strands or threads of spaghetti represent the emotional turmoil inside Nell’s mind, and depending on how curled they are how straight they are determines how ill, paranoid or distressed Nell is.

I know the title has specific meaning to the author, and indeed the spaghetti threads are an important part of the premise and story, but I personally think the title of Spaghetti Head doesn’t do the book any favours. It certainly doesn’t do any justice to the extremely clever premise and content, and both the cover and title may create misconceptions about what type of story it is, which means potential readers or buyers may not be interested because it suggests a different type of read. They say never judge a book by its cover (or title), and in this case it’s true because this story is innovative and complex.

It’s a combination of speculative, futuristic, post-apocalyptic and evolutionary fiction mixed with aspects of artificial intelligence, which evolves into autonomous intelligence. There are echoes of The Handmaids Tale when it comes to the empowerment of women and their reproduction systems, and their value in regards to said reproduction. Viewed as resources, as opposed to valued members of society.

It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, but this a really interesting read and definitely one I will be recommending.

Buy Spaghetti Head at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

wolves of winterSubtlety is what makes this an exceptional read. The dystopian element of the story is almost imperceptible, it unfolds slowly like flowers uncurling at the first sign of spring.

The solitude, the silence and the snow gives the story an aura of complete and utter isolation. The kind of isolation one would experience under normal circumstances in an area like that, let alone in the aftermath of a global disaster. Which is probably why the small community appears to be nothing more than a close-knit family unit living in the Yukon wilderness. Hence there being nothing unusual about Lynn hunting for her next meal, and going head to head with anyone who dares to cross her or her family.

Although it doesn’t seem to be a priority, they are all aware that they are part of the small group deemed survivors of the disaster that ravaged and decimated the entire population. Lynn is also acutely aware of being a young woman with only minimal choices when it comes to romantic partners or viable partners.

So the arrival of new blood in the area is the beginning of new emotions, new threats and Jax also brings the key to Pandora’s box with him. Lynn discovers something about herself and her past that will not only change her path in life, it also has the potential to change the lives of those around her.

Johnson has a knack for the minimalistic approach whilst creating vivid imagery, solid characters and the kind of story readers will want to follow to the end.

Hopefully readers won’t have to wait too long for the sequel to The Wolves in Winter, and yes there really needs to be one, because I need to know what happens next.

Buy The Wolves of Winter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @tjohnso14 @HQStories

Visit tyrelljohnsonauthor.com

The Last of Us by Rob Ewing

the last ofWhat a horror scenario, a small number of children left to fend for themselves on one of the remote Scottish islands. The pandemic has wiped out every adult and nearly everyone else on the island. There is no way of knowing how far the contagion has travelled or whether there is anyone left alive at all.

Poor little lambs. what a sad story.

Rona and Alex look to Elizabeth for guidance. She is slightly older than the two of them. They make up one group of survivors and the second group consists of the two brothers Duncan and Calum.

Just a few really young children all alone on an island fending for themselves. When I say fend I mean scavenge for food and fresh water. At least Elizabeth knows how to get clean drinking water.

It truly is a horror scenario. It is one thing to contemplate being the last of a few survivors, but when you imagine young children in the same situation, it is even worse.

Faced with the absolute carnage of a fast-acting lethal contagion these children show strength, resilience and a lot of courage. Perhaps even more than an adult because they are free from certain fears that they will eventually grow into.

I really like the way Ewing has kept the story basic and simple. In fact the simplicity of the children’s thought processes, decisions and actions is what makes it such an authentic read. They still have their normal childish rivalry and squabbles, whilst having to simultaneously survive as the new adults in town.

Buy The Last of Us at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Machinations by Hayley Stone

machinationsArtificial Intelligence has started a war against humans. Initially the machines are infected with a virus that in essence turns them against all things two-legged and breathing.

Humans become the targets of extermination and slavery. The machines are trying to annihilate the pockets of rebellion, which exist all over the globe, but are isolated due to the nature of the threat.

The machines can pick up any signal or message sent via any type of equipment. All humans have become sitting ducks and face the threat of extinction.

Rhona or rather the new and improved version of Rhona finds herself torn between her friend Samuel and her old lover Camus. Not all of her memories, and the emotions attached to them, have been restored after her rebirth.

On top of that she isn’t considered trustworthy by the upper echelon. and yet the underlings still consider her to be in charge. Talk about mixed messages. Nobody quite knows where she fits in, including Rhona.

Machinations is a fast-paced story with plenty of room for development. It is certainly the type of read I tend to enjoy.

What Stone really needs to do is pick a genre and stick with it. Not that you can’t mix, but this has a great post-apocalyptic premise, which is weakened slightly by the strong romantic vein flowing through it.

If you’re writing sci-fi, dystopian, fantasy or post-apocalyptic stories you have to be bold and ruthless enough to do without the en vogue popular formula you think will draw in readers from other genres. It is absolutely doable. Not that you can’t have a love interest or romance, you just shouldn’t let it overpower the premise or main genre you’re going for.

Saying all that, I did enjoy the premise and the read. I also look forward to seeing where Stone takes the story in the sequel, Counterpart.

Buy Machinations at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The beginning of the end….

ShiftShift by Hugh Howey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Prequel to Wool or rather the events of Wool from the perspective of the people who planned and built the silos.
Conceptually I understand why sci-fi fans enjoy the work of Hugh Howey. Post-apocalyptic with elements of quite a few sci-fi favourites. Howey manages to gather together the futuristic fears of the eternally paranoid and amplify those fears tenfold by creating a realistic scenario.
I wasn’t bowled over by the writing though.I found it very awkward, drawn out and it lacked the spark of a natural storyteller. Perhaps that will change in time as the author hones his craft. Alternatively it might just be a minimalistic noir like quality that the author becomes known for.
There is less character development and description than in Wool. All the figures blend into one John Doe. Now in the setting of the silos I would be tempted to say that was done on purpose to accentuate that one is all and all are one in that setting,but I don’t think Howey thought that far ahead.
Even after both Wool and the Shift novellas I don’t think all possible aspects or avenues of this concept have been explored to their full potential. Leaving aside the fact that the drawn out writing is in danger of being boring or repetitive at times, Howey makes up for that with the constantly flowing and changing concept.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

View all my reviews