Book Review: Mother of Machines

Title: Mother of Machines: Carbon Sunset
Author: Tishaun Dawson
Genre: Sci-fi
Year Published: November 7, 2021

Date Started: December 21, 2021
Date finished: December 23, 2021

I’ve been wanting to read a sci-fi story with a female lead and this one came through. I didn’t read the first book, but based on some of the reviews it wasn’t necessary because it backtracked. I was still able to get the full story without reading it. The story is about Sanaa, a mechanic in the military. She learned about a government secret that she needed to tell the public. It was important that the people on earth knew the truth, so she did what she had to do and revealed this secret. The military wasn’t happy about it, so they tried to take her down. Being the one who controlled the machines, Sanaa had an advantage, but the military just wasn’t going to quietly go away. They were going to do whatever it took to get rid of her.

I enjoyed this story. The premise around robots and “aliens” was fascinating and gave it its own unique twist. The world building and character development may have needed a little bit more work on. I wanted to know more about Sanaa and why she made the choices she did. Her husband was on the quiet side, so it was also hard to figure out why she was with him and what his purpose was. At times, I felt like I had to fill in those pieces with my own experiences. I also found the idea behind the single person hero and a military that isn’t very intelligent a bit unrealistic. Thus, I gave this story a 4-star. Don’t get me wrong. This didn’t take away from the story. This was well written with a truly unique premise. I liked the main character and the fact that she was married and cared about the people. Overall, it’s definitely worth a read, especially if you’re a sci-fi fan.

Who should read this book: If you’re into sci-fi with a female lead or if you’ve never read a sci-fi with a female lead, you’ll enjoy this one.

Book Review: Frankenstein 2035

Title: Frankenstein 2035
Author: Kev Freeman
Genre: Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror
Year Published: July 25, 2022

Date Started: July 29, 2022
Date finished: July 30, 2022

This is a story about a scientist named Beta who is on a mission to help cure her brother. She joins a group of other scientists with different specialties to locate a man who has been dead for 200 years. They believe they have the means to bring this man to life. For Beta, bringing this ancient man to life would mean a cure was achievable for her brother so she was willing to do whatever she could with her experience and knowledge to make it possible. Everything seems to be going as planned until it didn’t, and the situation turns extremely detrimental.

This was a fun read. The action and horror kept me on my toes. I was engrossed in it even though I’m not a huge fan of dark gory stories. This book was well written and very visual and kept me intrigued. I’m a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy and this book hit the spot there. The description of the environment they were in was on point. I felt the chill and the cold and the freezing winds. I liked how the characters worked together as well as how they clashed. It was very realistic. This is a story that would make an excellent movie. It was truly well-done. The only thing I found that didn’t really grab me were the characters themselves, but that’s a personal thing. Overall, the characters were fine as they were. I would have just liked different depths to them.

Who should read this book: Totally recommend this book to anyone who likes books by Stephen King and movies like “Aliens.”

Book Review: Far Beyond Destiny

Title: Far Beyond Destiny
Author: Stephen C. Perkins
Genre: Sci-fi, paranormal
Year Published: November 1, 2021

Date Started: October 19, 2022
Date finished: October 21, 2022

This book is about an antagonist whose goal is to take over the world by destroying people in power using ordinary people. Sam Yalta Booth is not your ordinary man. In fact, he’s not even human. His agenda is to gain power by taking advantage of three young film industry people. Brian, Malcolm, and Vanessa were friends in college and ended up going into film. They thought what they were doing was their dream, however, Sam found his way to them and began to destroy their lives. He sees Vanessa as his puppet, someone he can control at a very young age. He went after her and her family. Brian and Malcolm came to her rescue where Brian ends up attracted to her. There’s so much going on between the three of them that the love story is just a minor part of the plot.

What I really enjoyed about this story is the pacing and the ease of going in and out of different characters’ stories. The story moved forward with bits and pieces thrown in of backstory which was great in connecting the past with the present. I also enjoyed the execution of the pharmacological aspect of Sam’s experiment. The way the “drug” was tested and became the source of Sam’s vengeance had me intrigued. The characters were unique and had some depth to them. However, because this was a plot driven story it wasn’t necessary to fully develop these characters.

Overall, this was a great read. I loved the setting descriptions. They pulled me in and added to the story’s mood. This would be an excellent read for anyone who loves a good sci-fi with some paranormal-fantasy elements thrown in.

Who should read this book: An action-packed sci-fi fantasy all sci-fi lovers will enjoy

Book Review: The Gamma Recruits

Title: The Gamma Recruits
Author: James Pelkmans
Genre: Sci-fi
Year Published: March 22, 2022

Date Started: April 16, 2023
Date finished: April 18, 2023

This is a story about Jayson Reilly and a bunch of other recruits who were sent to a location in Hawaii as test subjects. However, it turns out that that wasn’t the case. Through the process, a few of the recruits formed friendships and relationships.

I wanted to like this story. The idea sounded cool, however, it just didn’t grab me. Mainly because there were so many characters who appeared to be very similar because there wasn’t much depth to them. Initially, it felt like it was from Jayson’s point-of-view, but then it’d go into another character’s head. Also, a lot of dialogue went nowhere. These recruits could never stay on topic. The plot wasn’t strong enough and clean enough. The story seemed to drag a lot.

Who should read this book: It’s a sci-fi, slow moving story with multiple characters. So if this is your thing, it might be for you.

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, but the opinion is my own.

Book Review: Saha

Title: Saha
Author: Cho Nam-Joo
Genre: Sci-fi; Dystopian
Year Published: November 1, 2022

Date Started: November 24, 2022
Date finished: November 26, 2022

This is a story about a future where a caste system truly separates the haves from the have-nots. In an apartment complex known as the Saha Estates, the occupants live quietly, keeping to themselves. Jobs are hard to come by and when there is a job offer, they are usually boring or hard labor and pay very little. The story unfolds when a man from Saha is accused of murder and finds himself hiding from the police. His sister learns of the murder and tries to find him but it’s more difficult than she thought. Eventually, the sister finds out the truth and tries to take down the people who forced this life on her and anyone who suffered under the hands of those in power.

Throughout the story, we are taken through the backstories of a few of the residents at Saha. Their story plays a part in the brother and sister’s story, sometimes indirectly, but provide insights into the rigid world they live in. At first, I wasn’t sure I understood the importance of learning about these characters’ past, but I believe it’s to show us the fear and unfairness these characters had to endure. It created a well-rounded world where everyone was afraid to question their neighbors and authorities.

The translation was done extremely well. I’m sure there were things lost in translation but the overall feel of that world and the characters in it all painted a very visual dystopian society. This story would make for a great movie, and I’d gladly go watch it. If you are a fan of near future or far future bleak sci-fi, you’ll enjoy this.   

Who should read this book: If you love very dark dystopian, murder mystery, and a completely controlled society, this one will hit the spot.

Book Review: Tender Is the Flesh

Title: Tender Is the Flesh
Author: Augustina Bazterrica
Genre: Sci-fi; Dystopian; Horror
Year Published: August 4, 2020

Date Started: August 1, 2022
Date finished: August 7, 2022

This book was given to me by my daughter to read because she enjoyed it. The story is about cannibalism in a future world where humans can’t eat other meats because of disease so they resort to eating human meat. Some humans are made specifically for eating. They are treated, let’s just say, how cow-farms are presumed to be treated by humans in the modern world.

The story is about a man who works in one of these human-farming companies. He and his wife are trying to have a baby but are having difficulty. The man doesn’t eat the human meat. There are strict laws on how to treat these humans and the man breaks the law. He was gifted a female human for his consumption. Because this man doesn’t eat human meat, he decides to sleep with her and in doing so impregnates her. The story snowballs into a big mess.

This was an okay story. I liked the idea of a future where meat can’t be eaten, but I didn’t like the execution. I’ve read books on cannibalism before so was curious about this one’s take. The story went on about the man and copulation with the human made for consumption. I have no issues with that, but it was that it didn’t make sense. It sort of just came out of left field. It felt like this was two stories badly sewn together. There was no clue as to why this man did what he did to this female. He could have sold this woman to the black market for a much higher price for an adoption or traded her for a baby. There were so many ways to go about this story to make it more exciting and thought provoking, but it didn’t do that for me. It was all going for the shock, but if you’re an avid reader and read multiple genres, the shock really doesn’t work. I needed more.

I almost didn’t review this book because I didn’t feel that it was worth my time, but I figured someone might enjoy my review and maybe pick up the book and read, because after all, I am all for everyone reading and learning about what’s out there.

Who should read this book: Dystopian lovers of all kinds. Also, if you enjoy speculative sci-fi or oppose eating meat, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

Life Update and Book Review: These Violent Nights

The book review is below this life update. You can skip and go directly to the review because it could be a bit depressing.

I’m currently playing catch up on my book reviews from the last year and before. There was a period in there when I was trying really hard to blog but my father had passed away in 2020 and thinking that I could handle it, I tried to keep going like everything was okay. But everything wasn’t okay. I just blocked all my emotions. I knew it was all going to catch up to me, I just didn’t know when and how.

In August 2020, my dad died unexpectedly from a brain hemorrhage. When he was in the ER with my youngest sister and wanted to see me (and one of my other sister–I have 3 sisters–he wanted to see all his 7 children, but at the time, only three of us were available) really badly, we sort of just told him that we’d see him later because they were running tests and stuff on him, but then it turned out, due to COVID, only one family member could be with him for the day. We also didn’t think much of it. Dad had gone to the ER before and it was always something easily taken care of. While driving back to our mom’s house, we chatted with Dad on video message. He was all hooked up but looked happy. He smiled at us and tried to talk. He was very happy to see us on video.

Later the same day, the doctor said they needed to perform an operation on his brain to relieve it from the hemorrhage but they had to send him to a different hospital where they specialized in the procedure. The next day he arrived at the other hospital and they performed the surgery. Our whole family was there including all our spouses and some cousins.

After the surgery, we were told that Dad was not going to wake up and that they’d keep him hooked up until we said our good-byes.

Three years later and I still miss him. I still dream of him (like this morning) and wake up thinking he’s still here. When he was alive, he’d often call me just to ask me how I’m doing, how my kids are doing, and how my husband’s doing. If I had missed his calls, he’d leave a message. I know it’s weird but I’ve kept all his voice mails. I don’t listen to them very often (just once since his passing).

Anyway, I hope I don’t weird anyone out. There was a moment I thought I should delete the messages, but I just can’t find myself to do it. I think just knowing I have a part of him still near me is comforting. I rarely go to the cemetery to visit his grave site. Having his messages on my phone means more. It reminds me of how he cared about my well-being.

For the last couple of years, I blamed myself. I kept telling myself I should have gone and seen him inside the ER. I should have found a way to switch places with my sister to see him. I was angry at the doctors and I was angry at myself. It was only after hearing on the news that another man had died from the same brain hemorrhage that I forgave the doctors and realized they did all they could. I don’t hold grudges so you can see how much weight that was to hold a grudge on them for at least a year.

I’m going to stop there. I just thought I should let this out because sometimes I think people see me as a robot because I don’t tend to share my feelings or emotions very much. And for the most part, I don’t get emotional really. It sometimes makes situations very uncomfortable.

Title: These Violent Nights
Author: Rebecca Crunden
Genre: Fantasy romance; Dark fantasy
Year Published: March 31, 2021

Date Started: September 27, 2021
Date finished: June 1, 2022

This is a dark fantasy that follows two friends through a dystopian world where an alien race, the Suriias, made their way to earth via a portal and destroyed most of humanity. The remaining humans were either turned into slaves or killed. The human world was completely taken over by this race and in order to survive the humans must remain hidden or else their lives would be completely controlled by the Suriias.

The story is split into three parts. The first part focuses on the two human friends, Thorn and Thistle. The second part tells the story of a human named Nik and Lucien (the Suriias in the first part). There is a love story between the two men. Their relationship grows slowly and eventually and ultimately becomes a full-blown relationship. The third part ties both of these stories together.

This was a great story. I really enjoyed it. The magic in this story was excellent. I liked that they had to hide their magic so most of the story was about the relationships between the characters. The world is very gloomy and creates a dangerous place to be. The backstories are done exceptionally well describing the aliens path to earth and the destruction of earth.  

Who should read this book: If you’re into fantasy mixed with dark future worlds or dystopian, this one is excellent.

Book Review: When She Woke

Title: When She Woke
Author: Hillary Jordan
Genre: Sci-fi; Dystopian
Year Published: September 18, 2012

Date finished: May 22, 2022

This story is about a future America where religion is a political power and having an abortion is a crime. Hannah Payne, the main character, falls in love with a pastor and gets pregnant. She is then chromed red for her sin. People stare at her and judge her because her red skin speaks for her crime. She refuses to tell anyone who the father is or the doctor who performed the abortion. She escapes the last institution she’s put in and stumbles upon people who were willing to free her from this strict world.

This story started out interesting. I couldn’t put the book down because I love myself a good dystopian story. It’s been a while since I’ve stumbled upon a book I couldn’t put down. The opening really grabbed me and kept me reading. However, midway through, the story slowed down and went a different direction. The ending was just meh. I may have had such high hopes that I was left disappointed. I wanted some sort of victory for Hannah. I also wanted to know what happened to the pastor, her family, and her friend. They all just seemed to disappear. There wasn’t anything said about what happened to them.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad read. It had a lot of potential, but just didn’t hit the right spot for me.

Who should read this book: If you enjoy “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood, you’ll probably like this one.

Book Review: Mr. Booker’s Summer Vacation

Title: Mr. Booker’s Summer Vacation
Author: Mark Lages
Genre: Sci-fi; Literary
Year Published: September 25, 2017

Date finished: April 10, 2022

Mr. Booker’s Summer Vacation is a story about a man who wants to go by the name of Mr. Booker to hide his identity. He is interviewed by a writer who is fascinated by aliens and such. The story is mainly about Mr. Booker and how he was abducted by aliens but also learn a little about the interviewer which ties the story together nicely.

In the story, Mr. Booker is planning a vacation and as he’s about to take this vacation, aliens abduct him. These curious aliens have questions, and based on their research, Mr. Booker was their best candidate to teach them about the human race. There’s a lot of thought-provoking messages and phrases. It gives us a look into how another race would see humans if they were to come upon humans for the first time. Mr. Booker also learns about the aliens.

I enjoyed this book. It’s a smooth, fun, and light read about humanity. I love how the author was able to throw in contemporary stuff but not get political. I enjoyed the humor and the jokes. This isn’t your typical sci-fi book. The sci-fi of it is excellent (it’s soft science), and basically the background or the setting to the real point of the story. There’s no big, action packed climax or extreme story arc. It’s a mellow story with literary themes and requires just being open-minded.

Who should read this book: Totally would recommend this to anyone who enjoys science fiction with a twist.

Book Review: Project Hail Mary

Title: Project Hail Mary
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Sci-fi; Outer space
Year Published: May 4, 2021

Date finished: April 6, 2022

 I’ve heard a lot of hype about this book and because it’s sci-fi and looks to be outer space I thought I’d read it. This book is unique in that there are two stories going on. One is a back story that’s sprinkled within the main story. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like this idea but once the story picked up, it all made sense.

The story is about a scientist and schoolteacher named Ryland Grace. All he wants to do is live a simple life doing what he loves, teach. However, he is recruited to join a small team on a mission using his science skills. Upon waking up from their long sleep as they journeyed to outer space, Grace learns that his team members didn’t survive the trip, so now he is left to finish the mission. He ends up meeting an alien and the two of them work together to get each other back to their planets. It wasn’t that simple though. Another problem arose which led Grace to make a difficult decision.

I enjoyed this story. Unlike other more serious sci-fi stories, this one was a fun and lighthearted read. There were poignant moments, but overall, it was humorous and refreshing. As I mentioned earlier, I was a little confused as to why the back story was inserted within the main story, but it all made sense. It was meant to create a sense of chaos and thus provided the reason why Grace chose the path he did. Without that, his reasoning might not make a lot of sense.

Who should read this book: If you love fast-paced sci-fi with humor, a bit of sadness, and lots of technical terms—mathematical terms, this is an excellent one. Even if you’re not into the technical stuff, you can breeze/skip through that stuff and still not miss the plot of the story.