I just finished EMBERS OF WRATH by Seth Halleway, an epic sci-fi fantasy novel set in the world of Shentonia. Like the first book in the series, the story is epic and fast-paced. It’s another strong ensemble with characters from the world’s various classes and sects. And as before, the author proves himself to be a phenomenal world-builder, adding to the diverse cultures, technologies, and ancient conflicts he established in the first book. 

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They passed lonely swaths of desert and the remains of ancient towns. Sometimes there was a full building intact that had just refused to die along with everything else. If Valentine were a house, that’s the one he’d be. Proudly standing in a run-down world, unwilling to be knocked down.

I just finished WORLD RUNNING DOWN by Al Hess, and this novel was more than satisfying. Though falling in the dystopian, post-apocalyptic genre, this book is much more than that – It’s hopeful and refreshing! In this world, the wealthy elite long ago abandoned the resource-depleted and hopelessly wrecked planet Earth, having blasted off to colonize new star systems across the galaxy. But despite being left for dead, those on earth just kept on living, building new communities, and embracing what’s left of humanity and the budding sentience of our AI creations. Is this a perfect world? Far from it. But where there are people, there is hope. 

The main character is Valentine, a scavenger trying to scrape enough money together to finally become the person he wants to be. His life is filled with danger, and his prospects are slim. Then he meets Osric, and his life changes like he never imagined. Osric is an AI recently ported into an android body tasked with recruiting Valentine for another dangerous scavenger mission. But if Valentine delivers, all of his dreams could come true.  

WORLD RUNNING DOWN is elegantly written, with engaging characters and one of the most heartfelt love stories I’ve read in genre fiction. Through the characters of Valentine and Osric, we glimpse what it is like to find oneself in a body that just doesn’t feel right. Exploring themes of identity and dysphoria, WORLD RUNNING DOWN is about acceptance, friendship, and love. But it’s also about mistakes, setbacks, and heartbreak. In this novel, everybody is struggling to survive in all the ways. But humanity can still shine in a rotten world. 

WORLD RUNNING DOWN is the kind of genre fiction we need more of, and I highly recommend it. Now I have to go read all the other books by Al Hess — But that’s a good problem to have! You can pre-order/order WORLD RUNNING DOWN here. And you can find Al Hess here. Thanks for reading! 


“Men in packs can do terrible things, things they wouldn’t have the hate to do alone. It’s no excuse, just something you should know.”

Just read THE QUARRY GIRLS by Jess Lourey. This book is intense. It’s also really good, so I definitely recommend you check it out. For me, an author of a high-octane spy thriller and a dark-as-hell dystopian thriller, this book kept me up at night. It’s menacing and mysterious… and explicit. The author has crafted a rich setting where she places a great set of characters. The story itself focuses on a fun group of teenage girls. Unfortunately, this book is about the violence and murder, and abuse that befalls upon them…

But the mystery is riveting, the prose is lovely, and the ending is memorable. Oh, and it’s inspired by a true story. So that’s terrifying. If this is your thing, definitely check it out.   You can purchase THE QUARRY GIRLS here. And you can find Jess Lourey here. As always, I’m open to book recommendations, so please leave them below!

Book Review: WE LIE HERE

Every villain is a heroine in her own story.

I just finished WE LIE HERE by Rachel Howzell Hall. Admittedly, I’m new to the mystery thriller genre – but these books are just so much fun that I couldn’t help but enjoy this. 

Yara Gibson is a twenty-something millennial returning home to throw her parents a big anniversary party. And I mean BIG. The whole town’s invited, and family starts coming out of the woodwork. When an estranged cousin turns up dead under mysterious circumstances, Yara goes down a rabbit hole that we readers won’t soon forget. 

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Book Review: RED NOISE

I just finished RED NOISE by John P. Murphy. This book is a fun sci-fi homage to Kurosawa-inspired spaghetti westerns. When the main character, known simply as The Miner, shows up at a backwoods space station, she finds it overrun by criminal gangs and corrupt cops. A bit of an antihero herself, she decides to take advantage of these groups lest they take advantage of her. Offering her skills as a former-military assassin, she leaps from one gang to the next, playing them off each other.

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Today I’m recommending LAND OF THE FREE, an action-packed, cyberpunk thriller by Seth Halleway.

Set in a fractured United States, with a rich cast of characters and a storyline that sweeps from one side of the continent to the other, LAND OF THE FREE is fast-paced and thrilling. In this future, Texas and California have seceded, each declaring their own independence. There’s an uneasy alliance between them and the states back east that is tenuous at best. But behind the scenes, there are some nefarious plans in the works.

At the novel’s heart is Raze, a street-smart criminal-for-hire from the bad side of Chicago. When Raze is hired to kidnap Ritika, a top computer engineer for a major weapons manufacturer, he gets dragged deep into what might be the start of a second Civil War. 

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Book Review: FOLLOME

Followers watching Followers watching Followers. Monuments to humanity’s ignorance, greed, corruption, obsession. They all stand around waiting for the next hit.

I came across FOLLOME by Grant Jahn on TikTok and loved it. If you like edgy dystopian, cyberpunk thrillers or think social media will lead to the downfall of civilization, then this book’s for you! 

Broken up into three sections — the Entertainer, the Consumer, and the Savior — the book follows three main characters that become increasingly consumed by the social media platform FOLLOME. In this world, only a select few are granted the elite status of having a FOLLOWER assigned to them. One’s FOLLOWER is a mysterious, humanoid robot that films its user’s every move, streaming it on the app for the masses to consume. The lust for more and more views leads inevitably to desperation, lest you lose your FOLLOWER.

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Book Review: THE UNION

A Union flag, half-blue and half-red, was proudly stationed behind each pupil. The white lines and stars had been removed long ago. Father explained that those signs symbolized the division of the states and old powers that had fallen.

I just finished The Union by Leah Vernon — a great read and the start of a promising sci-fi dystopian series. The premise is fantastic: a few centuries from now, black elites have enslaved the white lower class…. amazing, right? And the execution of it all is also top-notch.

The main characters are Avi, an “elite” born into a powerful family and heir to the empire. And Saige, an enslaved, mixed-race girl whose life experiences have made her tough as nails. When Saige saves Avi from an assassination attempt, the two become intertwined, pulling each other deep into their respective worlds. Here, Avi experiences the horror her society exacts on the enslaved firsthand. Whereas Saige is unwittingly trained and indoctrinated as a Watchman, a paramilitary unit that enforces the nation’s cruel laws.

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