October 27, 2017

James Wymore et al.: "Chaos Chronicles"

Title: Chaos Chronicles [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: The Actuator (book 3 of 4)
Author: James Wymore et al. [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Year: 2016
Age: It's marketed as an adult book, but it can be read by teens, though a few stories are a bit heavy on horror
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Eclectic bunch of stories, covering a wide range of genres and (fictitious) eras. We get a glimpse of how the Change affected some people unaware of the Actuator's existence, but mostly, lots of behind-the-scenes about Machine Monks who weren't main characters in the previous books.
Cons: Not every genre tackled in here can be everybody's cup of tea.
Will appeal to: Those who like eclectic short-story collections. Those who want another (and more insightful) perspective about the Actuator.

Blurb: Scattered all across the world, the Machine Monks struggle to deal with the saboteur’s next big move. Isolated in a situation they’ve never experienced before, their mission to collect all the Actuator keys grows desperate. 
An elven ranger finds himself in the Old West. He accepts a quest from a strange lawman in exchange for help returning to the home he loves.
When the world’s most dangerous kaiju marches on manga-inspired Japan, can Isaac defeat it using only his wits and the power of anime?
A honeymoon safari goes horribly wrong. Without guns, how do you fight against ancient wildlife with a mind of its own?

Stranded in Camelot, Machine Monk Elizabeth Darling seeks a way home to Steampunk London - and finds an unexpected surprise in the medieval forest.
While Lennie is traveling to a safe haven with her little brother, disaster strikes and she is forced to rely on a woman with a dark secret.
Brian and his crew face the saboteur face to face in a high tech war that will alter the fate of the world. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I am a semi-regular reviewer of Curiosity Quills titles (like this one), but if you look back at my ratings, this never prevented me from being unbiased. And all the books I received from them were generously sent with no strings attached.

TUTTI-FRUTTI

I usually don't read anthologies, unless they 1) contain stories by one of my favourite authors, 2) are part of a series I'm reading, or 3) have a unifying theme that calls to me like a siren song. Case #2 comes into play here, since the stories in Chaos Chronicles all give us a taste of the life after the Actuator (a reality-bending machine) has turned the whole world into a patchwork of different, often plain weird realities. To be more precise, all these stories are chronologically set right after the events in Return of the Saboteur, so that, unlike the previous collection Borderlands Anthology, they can hardly be read by someone who hasn't followed the series so far. But the good news is, even with all the set and character variety, this bunch is more close-knit, and actually makes the plot progress (this is why Chaos Chronicles is Book 3 in the series, while Borderlands Anthology was Book 1.5). Book 2 in the series, Return of the Saboteur, was a game changer. We know now who was responsible for turning what was a mere experiment (the Actuation) into a worldwide nightmare. We know why. But the real catch is, the same person caused the virtual borders between the different realities to fall, so that now different types of characters and/or monsters from different eras can cohexist in the same space, with crazy, but intriguing consequences. Well, wacky ones too, but I will admit that it's fun 😄. [...]

October 24, 2017

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Would You Rather Time-Travel or Teleport?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:

WOULD YOU RATHER TIME-TRAVEL OR TELEPORT?

Seventeen years ago, I wasn't a sci-fi fan or fantasy fan yet (still not in love with fantasy overall, but now I do like a bit of it on certain occasions, and I absolutely ADORE sci-fi). I just was a die-hard mystery and police procedural enthusiast. I didn't know I would fall in love with time travel back in 2000, when I stumbled upon a Charmed episode called Morality Bites. (I didn't even know I would become a Charmed fan, but I digress). In it, the sisters travel ten years into their own future in order to prevent something horrible that Phoebe saw in a vision - herself burned to death. And they do that by actually inhabiting their future bodies (as opposed to what happened in That '70s Episode).
 
Morality Bites: Prue is a blondie now...

October 18, 2017

EXCLUSIVE Cover Reveal (+ Blurb): "The Art of Escaping" by Erin Callahan

Welcome to a very special cover + blurb reveal...

...Yes, I like to tease 😁

You know, as a rule, I don't do reveals. Well, I don't do mass reveals, or reveals for books that I'm not interested in. So, when I do one, you know there's a solid reason behind that. In this case, actually, three of them 😉.
Reason #1: Erin Callahan is one of the first authors I talked to when I started blogging. I only know her virtually, but I think it's safe to say she's a great human being, and I can testify she's a talented (and blogger friendly) author 👍.
Reason #2: I beta-read this book back when it didn't have a publishing house yet, and now that it's almost ready to go into the world, I'm so happy and proud of it as if I were its godmother (which, in a sense, I am. One of its godmothers/godfathers at least...).
Reason #3: it's a darn good book 😄.
So, here goes...

October 14, 2017

Gimme Five! or How I Survived a Half-Decade of Blogging

So, my dear friends and occasional readers...Offbeat YA turns five today! 🙌


I don't know if it's a big accomplishment or not. There are probably many blogs out there older than mine. For sure, there are SO many blogs out there that have been able to grow (much) bigger and better than my corner of the web in a (much) shorter span of time. There are so many dedicated bloggers who have worked hard and have grown an impressive reader base, while I was posting once a week in my best year (2014) and struggling to even do so. I can blame my hectic life and a whole set of issues that I have to battle every single day, plus work, plus age (because yes, I do tire more easily than I used to), plus the fact that I can't buy all the books most people can afford and I don't even want to, since I'm SO. DARN. PICKY. The fact is, after five years, I'm still one of the smallest fishes in an overwhelmingly vast sea of bloggers. Do I regret it?

October 01, 2017

James Wymore & Aiden James: "Return of the Saboteur"

Title: Return of the Saboteur [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: The Actuator (2nd of 4 books, but there's also a set of short stories which is Book 1.5)
Author: James Wymore [Site | Goodreads] & Aiden James
[Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Year: 2015
Age: It's marketed as an adult book, but it can be read by teens without any problem
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Creative premise. Breathless adventure (though there's a lot of internal monologue as well). Constant change of scenery. Sheds more light on the Actuator and the people who have been involved with it.
Cons: Essentially a "male" book, where the main female characters end up needing to be saved. Some of the worlds would be interesting to explore, but are barely skimmed. As in Book 1, a handful of (harmless) typos that apparently escaped revision.
Will appeal to: Alternate realities enthusiasts. RPG fans. Readers who get bored easily.

Blurb: The Machine Monks fight to keep control of the Actuator while enemies attack the base. As besiegers wear them down, the rest of the world struggles to adapt to the chaos left in the wake of the great change. Their only choice is to push forward and find the next key and shutdown the fantasy realm surrounding the base. When they do, Xenwyn will die. Haunted by the incalculable death toll all over the earth, Jon accepts the mission to recover the next key. Desperate to keep Xenwyn alive, Red determines to find a magical cure before Jon gets back with the key. Seeing all his friends in turmoil, Dragon Star sets out to find the saboteur. None of them ever imagined the Actuator could still make the world even worse. (Amazon excerpt)

Review:  First off...DISCLAIMER: I am a semi-regular reviewer of Curiosity Quills titles (like this one), but if you look back at my ratings, this never prevented me from being unbiased. It's just that they have so many (sometimes underrated) gems under their belt.

A MAP OF THE UNKNOWN WORLDS

The sequel to Fractured Earth takes place three months after the events in Book 1, and follows a bunch of Machine Monks (one of them being introduced for the first time) on their quest to restore reality as it used to be...or to achieve more personal goals. Despite my rating mirroring the one for Fractured Earth, this installment is actually more enjoyable than its predecessor, world-wise. The reasons why the aforementioned rating stayed the same have been stated in the Cons, and will be explored further in my review - but let me make this clear: The Actuator is a great series for those who like alternate realities, also because we can see how the people (and their possessions/transportations) that travel across the virtual boundaries between worlds are affected by the change, sometimes even emotionally. I have to say that we get to see more fantasy/steampunk realms than anything else, while personally, I would have liked a touch more of sci-fi, or at least some kind of contemporary setting where the ordinary rules were turned upside down somehow. Then again, the device some of the Machine Monks use in order to travel from world to world is definitely sci-fi (though conveniently, it works in any realm), and following our heroes on their different paths provides a high dose of entertainment. [...]