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I’m having so much fun writing this new series with new characters, a new world, and new monsters! Here’s the brand new cover for The Alt-World Chronicles Book 1, ALTERNI.
Ever have a nightmare where you’re naked in public? What if everyone else in the room was also naked…and also a version of yourself? That’s the reality Esme Kuchis finds herself in, and soon things get even weirder.
She’s not in her Kansas City anymore. This alternate world is home to an ancient, secret Order with a king, conjuri magicians, cavali fighters, and dozens of paranormal races. And the purpose of this magical Order? They protect an unsuspecting public from malevolenci, demonic beasts from otherworldly rifts.
As an alterni summoned to this world, Esme must partner with the king and fight using magic only an alterni can wield. Unfortunately, the model-perfect King Owen is broken by grief and guilt, the Order has little faith in her, and the malevolenci are worse than ever.
Eight alt-Esmes preceded her. Eight lost their lives. Can Esme use her unique gifts to master this world’s magic? If she can’t, the consequences might be more devastating than Owen is willing to say.
Stay tuned for some cool stuff ahead until the book release on 12/12/17.
(I don’t normally post reviews of sequels, but these books are REALLY good, you guys. To see my earlier review for Book 1 in this series, go here: The Running Game)
I love sequels that don’t feel the need to recap every little thing from the first book before moving on with the story. While you should read the first book in the series first, this one is very much its own thing. Same characters, yes, but the setting quickly becomes different and the job, dangers, and relationships are different.
The dynamics between Rachel, Charlie, and John are great. The interactions between the brothers feel and sound the same as they did in the first book, but with Rachel added to the team they’re now more protective and a bit more loving. Rachel isn’t afraid anymore and has her confidence bolstered by the brothers, and I really liked how these three worked together.
The story’s world again feels very dystopian, and there’s some interesting commentary here about the health care system in particular. The “whodunit” aspect adds a nice mystery element. The ongoing background tension with characters from the first book ties in nicely to keep the books connected and the overarching story moving forward, but it was balanced well with the brand new plot of this book.
The writing is great, witty, and sets the mood perfectly for the story. I eagerly look forward to the next book.
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(Okay, so I didn’t wait long between reading the previous book and this one. I was supposed to read other books in between, but I cheated. That’s how good these are.)
I loved the first two books in this series, so saying this one is my favorite should give you some indication how much I really, really loved this one. We know these characters by now, we know how they interact, we recognize the world they’re in. At the same time, nothing that happens in this book feels predictable or boring.
Charlie, John, and Rachel are once again quickly in over their heads in a dangerous situation, and the suspense and twists kept me reading. I love how subtly this dystopian world is different. The telepathic, telekinetic Reachers add a Sci-Fi element, of course, but it blends so well that it doesn’t feel overly Sci-Fi. These books all feel more like crime thrillers, in a way, which is a cool way to approach it.
The fact that this chunk of the overall story is once again a complete book unto itself is also great. It helps to read what’s come before, of course, but this book feels like its own unique part of that story with nice resolution for what’s happened here. You feel satisfied with the ending because it wraps up this particular storyline, even though it’s obvious Charlie, John, and Rachel have more work ahead.
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Because the above book is a new release, the author was kind enough to give me a snippet to show my followers!
EVERY STORM BREAKS
Reacher Series #3
The concrete barrier separating London and the surrounding Safe Haven was impenetrable. Built to withstand a full militia invasion, it was guarded day and night by trained security officers. On a normal day they would be watching a queue of traffic as the daily commute crossed the open gates, but this wasn’t a normal day. A full watch was gathered at the top of the blockade, automatic weapons poised, ready to shoot, ready to kill. The growing crowd being kept out was swelling, spilling over into the surrounding streets like an overflowing drain. The bubbling cesspit of discontentment polluted the atmosphere. Tension climbed as more and more people took up the plight of the immigrant workers, fuelled by fear, isolation, and more hardship. The rioters crushed themselves against the gates, kicking at the barbed fencing; screaming, climbing, falling. Blood stained metal like crimson rust. Things were turning bad and turning quickly.
John pulled up the car at the junction leading to the main gate. It was farther away than they had originally planned their ambush, but there was no way they were going to get any closer without being swallowed by the crowd. A raucous energy surged through the concrete jungle. Rachel dared a glance behind them. Another tribe of urban warriors was coming towards the gate, and soon their current position would be compromised too. Police sirens were getting louder, a tinnitus in this nightmare. It was going to erupt into a full-scale riot, and in a few minutes all of S’aven would be engulfed.
She twisted her fingers together, focusing on the closed border, allowing her powers to penetrate the collective feeling of the mob. The concentrated fear and hatred were overwhelming. She could feel their frustration, their utter hopelessness, even as far back as she was. Desperation was winning, and nothing short of a miracle could sate it. Bottles, launched into the air by the protestors, smashed against the fence. Glass rained down on the crowd, and blood started to pour. The police were closing in. Soon the fighting would flood into the surrounding streets. All of S’aven would be consumed. Rachel watched the gate and the air around her seemed to thin. She took a desperate gasp, trying to visualise their rescue attempt in this chaos. Anything leaving London was going to get swallowed up; anyone trying to help would be trampled.
“What if they don’t come out?” she asked.
“They’ll come out.” The certainty in John’s voice was unwavering. Nothing about their current view seemed to concern him. His composure was measured, as though he were watching this from a distant window, unaffected by the consequences of the phone call he had made.
Rachel couldn’t understand how he could be so calm. A couple of hours ago he was throwing bottles at a wall like the desperate men and women in front of her. Now he was sitting patient and expectant, waiting for a miracle she couldn’t believe in.
“And what if they do come out?” she said, softer this time. She clasped her hands together. The anguish around her was contagious. She wanted to lash out. To scream. To charge the gate and save Charlie herself. This wasn’t fair. This wasn’t how people should be treated. The rich shouldn’t be locked behind a wall with all the wealth, while people on the other side died in squalor. People shouldn’t be punished for wanting a better life. For trying. For being different. They shouldn’t be locked up, experimented on, executed.
“Hey, the gates are opening,” Roxy said, drawing her back before her outrage compelled her to action.
A shower of rubber bullets and gas canisters rained down on the crowd. Through the chemical mist, a vehicle pushed into the mess. It was unmarked, but it was obviously a government transporter. What else would brave leaving London in the middle of a riot? Before anyone could react, the guards behind it opened fire again. People dropped to the pavement, gasping in the smoke, crying out as feet stomped on their helpless bodies. Rachel could feel the rage surge through the street. If there had been a chance this was all going to pass over, they’d just lost it.
“Well, that was a good idea,” Rachel said.
The smoke hissed, making it impossible to see anything. Bloody, bruised people fell out of the poisonous fog, into cleaner pockets of air, but more were coming. Coming from the surrounding streets; healthier, stronger, angrier. And the border patrol continued to fire. Rubber bullets giving way to metal. This wasn’t a security mechanism—this was war. The gas was clearing and the gates were once again closed, but that left the van stranded and suddenly the only thing the crowd could retaliate against.
“Oh God, do you think Charlie’s in there?” Rachel said, unable to control her panic. Would the crowd take mercy on a prisoner? She didn’t think so. Even if they did, how much damage would they do before they even reached him?
“He’s in there,” John said. Still cool. Still calm.
The protestors started pounding on the truck, rocking it back and forth. Again and again.
“Holy shit, they’re going to tip it!”
“Take the wheel,” John told Roxy. “Turn the car around and get ready to move. Do not fall behind. Rachel, you’re on crowd duty.”
“Are you bloody kidding, they’re going to rip you apart!” Roxy shouted.
John gave Roxy a look, half smug, half challenging—I’d like to see them try—and gestured for Rachel to get out.
Marginally inspired by John’s confidence, Rachel took his hand and focussed. If they were going to have any chance, she couldn’t let her surroundings frighten her. The people’s tension and anger were fuelling the riot. This wasn’t going to dissipate. This was years of stored-up fury at the richer classes, at the injustice folk on the wrong side of the border suffered. There was so much hate. Too much to control. The weight of it was oppressive and, as Rachel tried to sway the crowd to her favour, she found herself blocked and unable to push her commands into their one-track minds. Her subtle Let me pass was being ignored, or unheard, or deliberately disobeyed, as though that was the one command they had conditioned themselves to reject. She needed something more, something that suited their mood.
Red and blue started flashing. The police were encircling them. They were surrounded, unable to go anywhere, and Rachel knew what to do.
“Stop the police cars,” she said, tapping the nearest man to her. He paused, his hand held up in the air as her words filtered into his brain. Then, like a switch being pressed, he was charging towards the nearest police car. She touched another, giving him the same command. By the third, the crowd had picked up the idea. They covered the police cars like a swarm. There was no escape.
Rachel squeezed John’s hand. She braved a step deeper into the rabble. If her powers failed, if her concentration slipped, they could both be crushed. A shot was fired in the distance. More smoke canisters struck the crowd. John took over. He pulled her towards the truck, somehow able to see what was happening in the frenzy.
“Get in the passenger’s side,” he told her.
She let him go, and for the briefest moment she was drowning. Smoke stung her eyes, and she had to hold on to the vehicle for support. As her hands touched metal, she could feel Charlie inside. The connection to him steadied her nerves. It was as though he were speaking to her, only there were no words or directions, just a feeling, a knowingness. A tremor passed through the vehicle, and she knew he had unlocked the doors for her.
She grabbed the door handle and pulled. It flung open, and she nearly went with it. A rioter pushed past her and grabbed a fat man from the passenger seat. As he came hurtling out of the truck, she launched herself inside. She swung the door closed and jammed the lock in place. Another rioter pounded on the glass, ecstatic that she’d breached the vehicle. He cheered, and a bullet hit him in the temple, spattering the window with pink flesh. His body fell out of view, swallowed by the violence below.
She turned to the driver and froze.
Mark was staring back at her. His lost brown eyes were wide, his mouth agape. Of all the people to come across. She tried to think of something to say, and then she saw the barrel of John’s gun press against his head.
“Don’t do anything stupid,” he said, and hauled Mark from the driver’s seat.
John slammed the door closed. A bullet hit the safety glass, scratching the surface. “We need a route out of here,” he said.
Rachel nodded and closed her eyes. She pressed her hands on the dashboard. Her heart was racing, but her head was focused. The command was instinctual. Attack the border! Immediately, the crowd was moving, abandoning the vehicle and heading straight to the gate. She didn’t watch them go; there was enough on her conscience already. John slammed his foot on the accelerator and hit the road.
See all 3 books here: Reachers (3 Book Series)
Some dystopian books show futures that aren’t relatable or believable at all. This book’s portrayal of the future immediately made me go, “Oh, yep, that could happen… Are we on our way there now?”
I quickly became a fan of Fitzpatrick’s writing as much as I became a fan of this world and these characters. It’s witty, well-paced, intense, and hilarious in quite a few quips of dialogue. The whole story is a great mix of genres – not just Dystopian but also Sci-Fi, Thriller, and it reads like a crime novel with mobsters. The “Reachers” themselves are telepathic/telekinetic and add a unique dimension to a story that otherwise could fit in with a non-fantasy setting.
My one quibble with the story is why on Earth, after hearing her life is in danger, Rachel returns to her apartment. John and Charlie are supposedly really, really good at this stuff, but then she’s conveniently thrown into danger again by being at this wrong place at an obvious time. This seemed really not right to me, and the trouble that they all get in as a result makes it seem like it was just the easiest way to move along the plot and get them in trouble again. It works, but it doesn’t seem like a logical, smart move. But, oh well, because I still liked everything.
I would definitely recommend reading Fitzpatrick’s accompanying short stories, “Safe Haven” and “The Lost Shepherd,” with this as well. You can read this book on its own, but those 2 stories combine to give a fuller background to Rachel’s past, what the running game is all about, and why Father Darcy is involved in the first place.
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I love dystopian sci-fi novels packed with world-building and detail, and this book is a great example of such. It’s a little bit “Divergent,” a bit “Ender’s Game,” but there’s a lot here that is completely original. The writing is wonderful. The dialogue is sharp and sounds good in your ear. The descriptions pop images in your head. The suspenseful pacing builds with something new showing up right when it needs to – I was never bored.
I really liked how the book goes back and forth between the kids and the adults. A lot of dystopian YA can focus so much on the teens that the adults just become bland or else always the “bad guys.” But this story has a diverse range of personalities and intrigue involved in every circle.
I listened to the audiobook version, and I gotta say the narrator was a bit over-dramatic for me, like he was trying to sound like the movie trailer voice we all know. But, the subtly different voices used for the characters were helpful, and I let the over-dramatic inflection go most of the time.
Definitely give this one a read (or a listen) if you like your sci-fi to be well-written and introspective on human nature. The twist/cliffhanger at the end definitely has me interested in reading the next book.
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Well’p, I finished reading the original version of The Kota today. This was really cool to do after a decade or so of not looking at it. It was so fun, in fact, that I’m going to dig around for the original versions of the rest of the series, which I wrote in high school. So, check in next week for the first part of “EBON,” as Book 2 was known back then. 🙂
Here’s the last part of The Kota, read by yours truly with minimal laughter at my younger self this time…but still some.
Here is part 2 of me reading the original version of The Kota that I found from childhood.
More surprises! I completely forgot about the green blob alien, Counterstrike’s original identity, and that Silver Eye used to be a rebel.
It’s so trippy seeing how much this story has changed…
Earlier this week, I dug through a box of old keepsakes and found the first ever version of The Kota. I hadn’t even skimmed it for a decade. So, I thought it would be fun to read some of it on video. Boy, were there some surprises in there!
Trok was once our cousin? The Magi were once the Shiks who took people to the planet Frag? What the heck were GHM and Proth X?
How did I forget this stuff?! 🙂