Saturday, December 10, 2016

Book Review: MYSTIC, by Jason Denzel

Jason Denzel
Tor Books
Fantasy / YA

Why didn't you use the Myst to save yourself?

In MYSTIC, Jason Denzel lets unfold a wonderful coming-of-age tale. On the Island Moth lives the new High Mystic, Mistress Yarina, and she will need an apprentice. Traditionally, those nominated for the position apprentice are of noble blood, and have been preparing for the role as apprentice from the time of birth.

Which is why when the Green Man appears in Oakspring, during the Springrise Feast and Toweren Celebration Pomella AnDone is shocked to hear her name. She has been chosen by the High Mystic to participate in the Trials. Winning candidate will serve as Yarina's apprentice. The shock Pomella felt is because she is a commoner.

It is made clear by those in Oakspring, if she accepts the Green Man's offer, and fails, then she will be Unclaimed for the rest of her life. Unclaimed is worse than living as a commoner. She will never wed, or have kids. She might not find an employer, or have any friends. Unclaimed is like living as a ghost no one can, or wants to see.

In Kelt Apar, where High Mystic Yarina dwells, the apprentice candidates arrive, and the trials begin immediately. The trials are not in and of themselves difficult, it is how one obtains the end result that Yarina seems most interested in witnessing. Unfortunately, there are evil forces surrounding Kelt Apar. Revenge is in the air, and the Trials of little consequence to those planning an attack.

Yarina life is suddenly in danger. The trials are forgotten. It is up to some of the candidates to work together in order to restore rescue those in danger!

Jason Denzel writes so smoothly, I was immediately pulled into the story. MYSTIC will appeal to most fantasy fans, but especially those just getting into the genre. It is simple, in a good way, with just enough magic, and creatures, and characters, and lands, to not get lost or confused. There is some romance, a splash. And there is plenty of tension, suspense, and action. I am clearly relieved knowing this is the first in a trilogy!

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series, and
The Vaccination Trilogy

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Book Review: THE RAINS, by Gregg Hurwitz

Gregg Hurwitz
Tor Books
YA / Apocalypse / Science Fiction

I have read many thrillers by best seller, Gregg Hurwitz. Tight chapters packed with intense action, crisp dialogue, and characters that you give a damn about. When I saw that Hurwitz was taking a swing at something in the Young Adult field, I was anxious to see what he'd do.

And what he did was, THE RAINS. It is NOT just another zombie book. Trust me.

The plot focuses primarily on three kids. Chance and Patrick Rain, and Patrick's girlfriend Alex. On a midwest farm in Creek's Cause, Somewhere USA the two brothers, raised by their aunt and uncle, realize something is wrong.

After a meteor crash . . . they call it the Dusting. Spores filled the air. Those over eighteen were immediately affected. Their appearance altered. Holes bore through the center of their heads. If only that was the worst of it. The people infected became crazed. Violent. And they wanted one thing . . . to gather up all of the kids eighteen and under.

Chance has always looked up to his big brother Patrick, and for so many good reasons. But when the three of them hole up in the high school with a group of survivors, a small group of kids who were able to escape the clutches of the things outside locked doors, he knows it is time for him to grow up and get things done.

The creatures that once were neighbors of the Rains are walking every inch of the land, as if mapping the terrain. Others gather any and all weapons only to destroy them. And then, even more of these mind-controlled beings concentrate on the crating and hauling away all of the children.

When Patrick is near death, and Alex is taken by the invaders, Chance steps up his game. Bites back his fear, and sets out to rescue his brother's girlfriend. Chance knows he has a responsibility to those inside the high school, and an obligation to his brother. He vows to bring Alex back.

Doing his best to remain undetected, but having to fight off hordes of drones to stay alive, Chance learns a truth about the aliens that is more than he can stomach.

They have a leader. A Queen. And the Queen has grotesque plans for the bodies of the kids.

Thump. Squelch.

Is there any way Chance, Patrick, and Alex can save themselves? What about saving Creek's Cause? How about saving earth? It just can't be possible. There isn't a chance . . . or is there?

You have to love Hurwitz. The writing is taut. No words wasted. He grabs readers at page one. He holds their attention, grows their interest, and promises an extraordinary journey. And then he delivers. So what's not to love? Best I can tell from the last page of the book --there may be another in the works. LAST CHANCE? One can only hope!

Phillip Tomasso
Author of The Severed Empire Series,
and the Vaccination Trilogy

Monday, December 5, 2016

Book Review: THE OPERATIVE, by Gerald Brandt

Gerald Brandt
Daw Books
Science Fiction

I discovered Gerald Brandt by pure accident. I'd won a copy of THECOURIER on Goodreads. The cover was what caught my eye, initially. Once I started reading, however, I knew this would be an author I'd keep tabs on. Having just finished reading THE OPERATIVE, Book 2 in the San Angeles Series, I mean literally just finished reading it, I wanted to dive right in and write my review.

THE OPERATIVE takes place about a year after THE COURIER. Kris Merrill has joined ACE, and is in Canada for boot camp. That's how the book opens. Kris in boot camp. And then, everything goes completely crazy, just absolutely nuts.

Jeremy Adams, of the Meridian company, cannot forgive Kris for ruining his plans a year ago. She has not just crippled everything he's dedicated his life toward accomplishing, she'd demolished his every dream. All he has left is his hate, and desperate need for revenge. He will stop at nothing until he has Kris in his hands.

When the ACE boot camp training center is attacked, the few survivors are flown by transport to Santa Barbara. The transport is attacked, and legendary ACE agent Ian Miller is captured. Miller is Kris' lover. Her best friend. The reason she joined ACE in the first place. And she was helpless to stop the abduction, she was unable to keep him safe from the assailants.

Bryson Searls is the son of "Doc" Searls, and the founder of the Quantum Jump Drive. His invention of transporting things from here to there will revolutionize the world. Despite serious bugs discovered after the first test on humans, Kadokawa (one of the 3 major corporations), insists on moving forward. Taking all of his research data, and wiping clean any remnants on Kadokawa systems, Bryson makes a break for it. In doing so, he put his life in jeopardy. Kadokawa doesn't just want his information, so do SoCal, and IBC (the other 2 major corporations). And they will stop at nothing to obtain the sensitive data, including going to war with each other.

The insurgents have suspected something was wrong with ACE since its inception. While the company was started to hinder the overall control and power of the Big 3, things have changed. Kai, a restaurant owner is part of the movement, and lifelong friends with Kris. A war has been started. The poor are revolting. The crashed transport shuttle left an opening in the wall. Teams move into place to systematically bring down the upper class levels. Together, and with the help of some other trusted allies, they may also be the only chance Ian Mill has to survive the kidnapping.

In this taut three-hundred-page novel, so much is happening. The action does not let up. Brandt writes in a way that keeps the tale clear, and easy to follow. He gives readers an even deeper, indepth look into who Kris is, but more than that, we get detailed lines into the lives of the other supporting characters in the novel. Quick, and violent, engaging, and intense, I loved THE OPERATIVE as much as I loved THE COURIER, and have developed an even deeper appreciation for author Gerald Brandt.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series, and