Book Review: The Kitchen Brigade by Laurie Boris

The Kitchen Brigade by Laurie Boris

A Contemporary Women’s Dystopian Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (01/10/19)

Summary:

In a not-so-distant future Russia occupies America. Travel is limited. Employment is limited. Freedom is limited. Valerie grew up privileged as the daughter of the secretary of state but is now forced to cook for the army in this occupied-America. With her culinary background she impresses a Russian general and is given the ‘opportunity’ to work in his mansion. Christened “Three” she works with a head chef and four other chefs in the kitchen during the day. This opportunity involves being led to her work space in handcuffs every day, bullied and belittled by the guards and the guests at times, and forced to work for the same men who killed her father and are destroying her country’s freedoms. She knows she will not do nothing, will not work demurely, will not stand idly by if an opportunity presents itself.

Keywords:

Social Sci-fi, Cooking, Kitchen, Servitude, Occupied America, Passion, Friendship, Loyalty, Courage, Despair, Russia, Violence, Oppression, Tension

My Review:

Though supplies may be scarce, the kitchen brigade bring life and love to the dishes they prepare. Head Chef Svetlana says some very poignant remarks about cooking and food throughout the novel. It is their love of food and their passion for cooking that bring life to the kitchen and hope to their hearts. It is this passion that seems to lead them in other areas of their lives and gives them the willingness to stand up for what they believe in and the need to act when they can.

I enjoyed all the characters very much. Head Chef Svetlana seemed so complex when viewed from both her point of view and from Valerie’s point of view combined. Who is Svetlana really and what side does she work for? Valerie is very courageous, even in the beginning she does not yield instantly to her fate. Yet, she does not fight when there is no reason. She is industrious and clever. Two seemed the most complex character with the least explanation or backstory and I really enjoyed this slight ambiguity. In the height of chaos, what would she do? She is the loose cannon that could crumble Svetlana’s plans and yet Svetlana loves Two like a daughter. I adored Four so much! She was so cool. Each of the women in the employ of Svetlana in the kitchen were full of personality.

I enjoyed the details of running the kitchen, including food preparation, wine pairing, cleaning, herb gardening, and more.

This book had great suspension and tension throughout. The ending came suddenly and some of the action I couldn’t quite picture but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 01/10/19 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Laurie Boris’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

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Book Review: The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray

The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray

A Dystopian Novel published by Wanderlust Publishing (10/25/2015)

Summary:

In the Republic of Americas everyone is happy. Jackson has been excited to go back to his home in the Republic of Americas for years, but upon arrival, the land of plenty is a depressing landscape of malnourished citizens who appear happier than they should be. Just hours after his ship arrives, Jackson is singled out and taken to a Liberty Box. Only his mental training will keep him from being bewitched like all the other citizens in the Americas.

Keywords:

Dystopian, Mind Control, Medication, Drugs, Economical Collapse, Power, Technological advances, Escape, Fight, Politics, Government, Investigation, Reporter

My Review:

The Liberty Box is a mind control center, the place where the government and those who work for the government capture the brain waves of all newcomers. Once they have the brain waves, they can then send messages and lies to every person in the Republic of the Americas to control how they perceive their world. All citizens can be happy all the time doing anything the political leaders need or want them to do. Does this mind control work all the time? As long as the machines are up and running, they seem to work continuously. I liked that there has only been a short history of the Republic of the Americas since it was simply North America. Not enough time for history to dissolve in everyone’s mind but enough time to indoctrinate *most* of the youth. That is where Kate comes in. As a child she was sent to a camp for those who saw through the brain wave mind control. She was successfully rehabilitated, or so everyone thought.

I thought the author did a great job presenting the dystopian future and filling out the world building from the different perspectives in different chapters of the novel. I would have liked to know more about all the facets of the mind control. What difficulties did they face in the beginning of the Republic of the Americas when they had to create the infrastructure to support the mind control? How far does the manipulation reach? Perhaps these questions will be answered further in the series.

This Dystopian novel was published by Wanderlust Publishing 10/25/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.25

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

C.A. Gray’s Website

Book Review: Electric Grids (Electric World Book 2) by M. Black

Electric Grids (Electric World Book 2) by M. Black

A Sicence Fiction/Cyberpunk Novel published (04/25/18)

Summary:

After finally escaping the Electric Gardens, Lexi and her friends find a post-apocalyptic world on the outside of the Tins’ compound. They don’t have time to stop and admire the wasteland because they are being pursued by the Tins. With a Tin of their own, they have a destination in mind, to find the other enlightened Tins and band together.

Keywords:

Science Fiction, Robotics, Apocalypse, Technology, Dystopian, Teenagers, Strict, Escape, Rules, Secrets, Control, Power, Powerless, Desperation, Friendship

My Review:

Electric Grids jumps in right where Electric Gardens left off and pulls the reader immediately back into the sci-fi universe Black has created.

The idea behind the story was solid and intriguing. The concept of robots taking over the world is not new, but the details in Electric Grids come from fresh sci-fi eyes.

A lot of details are left out or glossed over and the writing style does a lot of telling versus showing. For instance, the birth of baby Seth happens nearly instantaneously and without sensory details one would expect with the birth of a baby in the middle of nowhere with limited medical supplies and no doctor.

This novel was published on 04/25/2018.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Amazon

Book Review: Aftan Whispers (Estalia) by Phil Williams

Aftan Whispers (Estalia) by Phil Williams

A Steampunkian-Dystopian Novel published by Rumian Publishing (01/16/18)

Summary:

“People who can do something to help others should!” Tyler said. “This is big. We can change the sky. We can change the world. It’s more than just doing the right thing, it’s the only thing.”

Tyler is a young roofer that gets pulled into Deni’s story after she drops a precious message. Tyler won’t stop at returning the message because Deni is in trouble. She’s on the run from the slavers and the Guard and someone more sinister than both combined. After figuring out the message together, they will work together to find a rocket, return what was lost, and take down the evil in their town.

Keywords:

City, Weapons, Post-Apocalypse, Friendship, Evil, Power, War, Fighting, Knives, Guns, Science, Secrets, Crowds, Village, Traitors, Government, Guards

My Review:

The pacing is excellent. The first scene is intriguing and will immediately pull you in. Most post-apocalyptic novels push ordinary folk into roles of heroism amidst a great and powerful evil. This novel; however, is different. Instead of the ordinary folks being up against an insurmountable enemy, Tyler and Deni are up agains the government of one town. Their home. As the plot unfolds, the stakes get higher, and the lies unravel, it is up to the two of them to uncover the evil and show those who can fight that there is a fight and that it is worth fighting.

Deni and Tyler are both conflicted. Deni wishes the world was an exciting place with good people, but realizes the world is full of people who don’t care about others or only care about their own plight. Tyler wants to think people do things for good reasons, but is slowly starting to see that not everybody has good intentions in mind. I espeically loved the scenes where Deni and Tyler commented on each other’s actions. Especialy telling was when Deni commented on Tyler ‘helping’ the lamp lighter guard in one of the beginning scenes.

Tyler is extremely empathetic – he feels the pain of others so clearly that he drops everything to help those in need. tyler is driven by a need to do right! he is the good in the world and becomes Deni’s driving force. He shows Deni that all is not bad in the world. He is the smile that brightens each moment and the embodiment of hope and life.

This novel was published by Rumian Publishing on 01/16/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Phil Williams’ Website

Book Review: Electric Gardens (Robot Dystopia) by M. Black

Electric Gardens (Robot Dystopia) by M. Black

A Sicence Fiction/Cyberpunk Novel published (03/15/18)

Summary:

Lexi019 has lived most of her life under the tight control of the robots known as Tins. After the apocalypse, the Tins stepped up to herd and shelter the remaining humans. Lexi019 and some of the others aren’t so sure that the world is uninhabitable outside the Tins’ compound. The Tins’ rules are so strict that Lexi019 would rather take her chances outside. Leaving isn’t an option and escaping might prove more difficult than Lexi019 and her friends can handle by themselves.

Keywords:

Science Fiction, Robotics, Apocalypse, Technology, Dystopian, Teenagers, Strict, Escape, Rules, Secrets, Control, Power, Powerless, Desperation, Friendship

My Review:

 

The world building details in this novel were interesting and full-fledged. I loved reading about this entirely different robotically-run world. Since it’s been over a decade since the ‘apocalypse,’ I wonder what life looks like outside of the Tins’ compound and how the Tins’ technology works.

Lexi019 was very young when she joined the Tins’ compound, so her memories of the world outside of the Tins are vague and mostly unknown. This reminded me of the Maze Runner series and I sense a big reveal or a twist about the world outside of the Tins.

The pacing was a bit flat in the middle of the book and the ending was somewhat abrupt (though concluding of the main action/goal of the characters). The action and Lexi019 carried the book from the beginning to the end. The subplot with Digit was also very intriguing and I wanted to see more of that develop.

The Tins confused me. They appeared to have absolute control over the humans with their very strict rules and their very strict consequences for breaking those rules. Being meshed sounds absolutely horrible! Even with this absolute control, Lexi019 and others are able to go behind the Tins back and get away with quite the number of shenanigans they shouldn’t have been able to get away with.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

This novel will be published on 03/15/2018.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: EXOTIQA (YA Robot Cyberpunk Dystopia) (EXOTIQA WORLD Book 1) by M. Black

EXOTIQA (YA Robot Cyberpunk Dystopia) (EXOTIQA WORLD Book 1) by M. Black

A Sicence Fiction/Cyberpunk Novel published by Amazon Digital Services (03/01/17)

Summary:

The technology of the world in 2055 has given humans the ability to easily connect with others using integrated robotic parts. The technology has also created robots that are more human-like than ever. For Fione, as a human, she doesn’t think that the robots are still obeying their fundamental laws. For Maci, as a robot, she has found a way to elevate her consciousness outside of the parameters of the robotic laws. And now her creators are out to shut her down.

Keywords:

Cyberpunk, Robots, Dystopia, Technology, Canada, Human-like, Online, Consciousness, Artificial Intelligence, Identity, Self-Awareness, Politics, Life, Death, Living, Escape, Running, Futuristic

My Review:

The difference in thought, character, personality, and dialogue/speech patterns between the humans and the robots was very distinct. I loved the very different voice of Fione versus Maci and very much appreciated having both distinct voices in alternating chapters. I loved how even Pix differed in personality and thought process from Maci, even though both were robots. Not all ascended robots are equal and this novel does a great job layering in their personalities seamlessly with their voices and not overpowering the ongoing plot.

This book contained a lot of action. The setup for the main premise of the story happened a bit abruptly at the beginning, but the storytelling was fairly seamless from that point on. Fione does not jump at the chance to help Maci immediately and she has her doubts. Fione’s character is built on the mistrust of the robotic infiltration into her world. She is sympathetic to them, as her best friend is also a robot, but she distrusts them as a whole.

I loved the subtle hinting of a potential romance between Fione and her best friend Pix, as if he really is a human.

I did feel that Fione’s overpowering of her mother was a bit off-putting and her mother’s inability to think for herself made her a flat character, but other than that this book was a sound and juicy addition to science fiction and cyberpunk in particular.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services on 03/01/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: Catalyst by Kristin Smith

Catalyst by Kristin Smith

A Dystopian YA Novel published through Clean Teen Publishing (11/21/16)

Summary:

Sienna lives in a world where almost everyone around her has been genetically upgraded. She is shorter, plainer, and all around normal. But her normal world gets shattered when her she finds out her father didn’t die of natural causes. It is up to her to support her family – her mother and young sister – as she tries to figure out who was behind her father’s death. Before she can even begin to uncover these secrets, one of her side jobs goes awry and she’s in hot water with the government. Her life goes from barely manageable to disaster when her mother is taken away by the government and the only way to get her back will be to join forces with an extremist group.

Keywords:

Runaway, Dystopian, Values and Virtues, Science Fiction, Futuristic, Female Main Character, Adventure, Romance, Deception, Las Vegas, Technology, DNA, Family, Lies

My Review:

This book was a nonstop adventure ride with a lot of action packed scenes. It was the Chosen One crossed with a Love Triangle mixed with some Dystopian thriller goodness. That being said, I did think it was too easy for Sienna any time she faced adversity. She was always getting out of any situation! Her triumphs, especially against an organized body like the government, seemed a bit too easy.

I loved Sienna’s spunk and positive attitude. She never had negative thoughts regarding her own possible failure and she never dwelled on the what ifs because she was a woman of action! She was always brave and fearless. In her last year without her father she had to learn to be self-reliant and resilient, because her mother was not able to provide and support the family. We don’t see Sienna grow during this time period, but we do see her on the other side as she faces all sorts of problems and difficulties.

I liked that Zane existed, even though he didn’t feel fully formed. I liked that there was a love triangle in this book because it added some more complications to Sienna’s already complicated life.

YA literature needs more red heads like Sienna.

This novel was published through Clean Teen Publishing on 11/21/2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Kristin Smith’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Numbers Raging (Numbers Game Saga Book 3) by Rebecca Rode

Numbers Raging (Numbers Game Saga Book 3) by Rebecca Rode

A YA Dystopian Novel published by Diamond Patch Press (02/19/17)

Summary:

Treena wants to save everyone, including citizens of NORA and the integrants and settlers of the desert. She will have to use all her political prowess to convince her hometown and those abroad to help with her cause. The enemy looms, but nobody will believe that the young teenagers Treena and Vance are telling the truth. It’s much easier to sweep it all under the rug and look the other way.

Keywords:

Futuristic, Water Shortage, Protection, Family, Loyalty, Number System, Ratings, Scores, Technology, Politics, Survival, Strict Society, Dystopian, Friendship, Desert, Travel, War, Weapons, Death

My Review:

The first half of this book was not as exciting as book 2, as it was full of political subterfuge and Treena trying to gain political support from the other Nations. I really enjoyed the Star Wars feel this book had, with the council and the underhanded politics that Treena was subjected to during her stay at the peace council meeting.

As I was reading I couldn’t help but wonder how it would end. There only seemed like two possibilities, but I was pleasantly surprised by the turn the story took. This book expertly wrapped up the series and the final climax was awesome! So much happened!

What would you do to save everything and everyone that you loved?

This novel was published by Diamond Patch Press on 02/19/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Rebecca Rode’s Website

Book Review: Numbers Ignite (Numbers Game Saga Book 2) by Rebecca Rode

Numbers Ignite (Numbers Game Saga Book 2) by Rebecca Rode

A YA Dystopian Novel published by Diamond Patch Press (01/26/16)

Summary:

Treena is ready to leave NORA behind forever, but NORA is far from done with her. With the hope of a life ahead with Vance, she pushes onward through the uninhabitable dessert. After losing all her gear, it seems like she’ll never make it, but is saved by a hidden underground settlement. Vance doesn’t know that Treena is on her way to join him, but he is up to his elbows in his own problems. After agreeing to be put on trial for his previous actions, he’s become a prisoner of his own people.

Keywords:

Futuristic, Water Shortage, Protection, Family, Loyalty, Number System, Ratings, Scores, Technology, Politics, Survival, Strict Society, Dystopian, Friendship, Desert, Travel, War, Weapons, Death

My Review:

Vance and Treena are creating their own paths in this second book. They want to be together, but first must overcome obstacles in their own lives and find each other again afterwards. I enjoyed seeing Treena and Vance in their own stories as they struggled with different problems.

Now that Treena can no longer turn her back on NORA, it’s citizens, and all the problems right in front of her, she will have to fight even harder for what she believes is right. For Vance it was never a question of if he should or should not help others, but without having the power to lead or change situations, he will have quite a difficult time of it!

This story picks up right where the first one leaves off and ends with quite the chaotic climax.

This novel was published by Diamond Patch Press on 01/26/2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Rebecca Rode’s Website

Book Review: Numbers Game (Numbers Game Saga Book 1) by Rebecca Rode

Numbers Game (Numbers Game Saga Book 1) by Rebecca Rode

A YA Dystopian Novel published by Diamond Patch Press (03/10/15)

Summary:

Treena has followed the rules her entire life and her rating should be high, as high as her boyfriend’s rating. She should be a green with a good job and a great life in NORA, the only thriving city in futuristic and devastated North America. They have technology and a water filtration system as well as a strict rating system to keep citizens in line. When Treena receives one of the lowest ratings of her entire class, there must be a mistake! Treena will do nearly anything to fix her low red number, even go undercover for the empress and find a military spy. What if her rating wasn’t an accident? What else is going on in the fringes of this perfect society?

Keywords:

Futuristic, Water Shortage, Protection, Family, Loyalty, Number System, Ratings, Scores, Technology, Politics, Survival, Strict Society, Dystopian, Friendship

My Review:

The Numbers Saga is a dystopian novel with an active female heroine. Treena has quite a bit thrown at her, but she doesn’t just react to her situations, she actively seeks out her story. She creates her own rules.

I wasn’t entirely convinced that a 16-year old who is referred to as ‘small’ would be able to defend and defeat a fully trained adult soldier after one week of training. There were other small plot conveniences – punishment mode was only triggered for important characters when it could be overcome. Important characters could escape when they needed and get to where they needed to be. I could see the plot twists coming.

That being said, I could not put this book down. The writing style, characters, and plot pulled me right in and I didn’t want to stop reading. This was a fun and engrossing book.

If you were a fan of Divergent and Hunger Games, you will enjoy this book.

This novel was published by Diamond Patch Press on 03/10/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Rebecca Rode’s Website