The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled City
By: Ryan Graudin

DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible…

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister…

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She’s about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window…

In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out. – Goodreads

Based on the historical location in Hong Kong called the Kowloon Walled City that used to exist as a place with no control from the government where a lot of bad people would live and have very little daylight due to how the buildings piled on top of each other, Ryan Graudin has created a world of her own with this basis changing Hong Kong to Seng Ngoi and using simple Chinese names to easily remember these characters but still have the essence of an Asian territory to make it not a historical fiction but still managing to capture a lot of the essence of this location to bring it to life. The Walled City is an outstanding young adult “dystopian” thriller. In fact, its surprising why The Walled City isn’t used in more stories (whether books or movies) as a background story. Ryan Graudin takes this world and is able to show the gritty and darkness that hangs in its shadows portraying the location really well while also delivering a story about three youths that get entangled in the mess.

The novel is executed with each of the chapters moving between these three characters. Its easy to see the connection of two of the characters but it doesn’t really matter if that was meant to be a minor reveal at some point to make it all piece together. What’s important is that each of these characters represent one part of this closed society. The boy Dai is the only one that knows the countdown element and has motives to deliver some information before he can be free as he works for the kingpin as a runner who pairs up with the second character on a spontaneous run-in, a young girl disguised as a boy Jin looking for her sister who was sold to a brothel by her father for money but also trying to stay out of sight for the street gangs that are after her because she stole a pair of boots from them. Finally, the third character is Mei Yee, one of the brothel girls who wish to find a way out but is approached by Dai to help him find a way to steal the information that he needs in exchange to help her escape. All three of these characters represent their own helpless situation that bond together to try to get out of their own situations.

The Walled City is great because of its writing style. Its vivid writing brings the story to life. Especially with the amount of action and suspense going on, as the story gets deeper and dangerous for the three characters, it builds very well. There’s something really fascinating about bringing a location to life and its characters while exploring somewhere that I’ve always been fascinated about and would love to see more stories based on while also using a novel structure that I’m personally a big fan of. The Walled City ticks a lot of the boxes of a novel that I enjoy reading.

Conscience (Short Story) by Jonathan Pongratz

Conscience
by: Jonathan Pongratz

Rory Bennels lives in a world ruled by a business entity known as the Corporation. For years he’s executed cerebral uploads for the recently deceased, but when the famed anarchist Epher Lore ends up in his lab, a series of events occur that shakes Rory’s world to the core. – Goodreads

*Received in exchange for honest review*

Running a swift 37 pages, Conscience is a science fiction novel set in a futuristic dystopian world. As with short stories, its a fairly quick-paced as the story sees Rory experiencing an error with his cerebral upload that would usually go smoothly. The story gives a little slice of this world and who the Corporation is. As the plot dives deeper between the interaction of these two characters, Rory starts seeing another side to the world that he thinks that he knows and having to test which truth that he would believe to lead up to the end.

For a short story, the characters actually get rather padded out especially since the anarchist Epher Lore is one that takes on this different approach of being transferred into a robot by accident and as they call it, becomes immortal for most part which makes it a bad situation for Rory and the consequences from the Corporation that he is afraid to face. The dialogue between Epher Lore and Rory also have a lot of weight in the whole scenario as the characters somehow build their understanding of each other. Epher Lore is more than the anarchist that he has been caught for while Rory also develops throughout the story from the starting point until the ending. For a short story, its a bit of surprise how well the characters are written.

Conscience is really just a snippet of this futuristic dystopia and the world that it could be with the Corporation and these characters and some robots/AI put in the mix. It outlines a general state of the world on hand and yet leaves so much room to build this world. Some of the individual science fiction elements might not be completely unseen or unique but its how Jonathan Pongratz delivers and puts together these elements that gives it a distinctive turn of events. With how this story ends, it leaves an intriguing space to revisit this world if ever he decides to write another story and one that I’d definitely be interested to read more of this world if it happens.

Score: 5/5

Other Jonathan Pongratz stories: Reaper

Blackthorn by Terry Tyler

Blackthorn
By: Terry Tyler

Blackthorn

The UK, year 2139
One hundred and fifteen years ago, a mysterious virus wiped out ninety-five per cent of humanity.  Blackthorn, the largest settlement in England, rose from the ashes of the devastated old world. It is a troubled city, where the workers live in crude shacks, and make do with the worst of everything.  It is a city of violent divisions, crime, and an over-populated jail block―until a charismatic traveller has a miraculous vision and promises to bring hope back to the people’s lives.  Blackthorn falls under Ryder Swift’s spell, and the most devoted of all is the governor’s loyal servant, Lieutenant August Hemsley.  Twenty-one-year-old Evie has lived her whole life in the shacks. She and disillusioned guard Byron Lewis are two of a minority who have doubts about Ryder’s message. Can they stand against the beliefs of an entire city? – Goodreads

Blackthorn is a story about beliefs and cults in a dystopian future where the balance has been offset. In the current state of the world, calculating back the years of how this story is sets up its future scenario, it almost hits a little too close to home. However, much like the other book that I read Hope from Terry Tyler, this author excels in building immersive dystopia worlds. In Blackthorn, its one that works thoroughly from the society’s lowered population built up and almost driving everything back to the basics in older times with different societal classes doing different jobs and someone ruling over the different cities/districts by richer families and the concept to carry on the family name by passing it on.

This brings in all kinds of characters that weave together a story of bringing back the concept of faith in the Bible and having the community come together to be better in order to reach the Light. With that, it brings up questions of how truthful the situation actually is as well as the motives of different decisions by the different characters that manage to bring in some deeper characters. Characters is where the story is executed well as it bounces between the perspective of three characters: Lieutenant August Hemsley, a lower class baker Evie and guard Byron Lewis. Their different perspectives of the different elements of the society completes the picture in many of the scenarios and fills in those blanks to connect the dots while at the same time, having perspectives from different characters also creates enough gaps of the unknown to have their own secrets and msyteries in the story that slowly unveil in the third part. With that said, the book is divided into three parts plus an epilogue, giving it a progression of time and shift in time and events as well as Blackthorn’s position.

If there was something to criticize about this book, its that the pacing at times felt lacking here and there. It had to do with its length perhaps and that some moments were made to create a link between the perspectives of the three. Provided that most of the time, the three views did work very well together but at times, it did make some situations a little longer to read. Plus, with three characters, it also needs to create enough dilemmas to solidify their purpose, push and feelings towards the society and predicament. Although, I say this, overall Blackthorn is a satisfying read. Its world-building and dystopian future plus the intricate details of putting all the three characters together from little events popping up in their passing at the beginning to having the three characters’ path intersect was done really well. Despite its little moments, its still well-executed in the scope of the story that it wants to tell.

Score: 4.5/5

Check out my review of Terry Tyler’s other book, Hope HERE.

Blog Tour: Hope by Terry Tyler (Review/Giveaway)

Hope

HOPE
BY: TERRY TYLER

Hope

Publication Date: May 24, 2019
Genre: Dystopian/Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS

Terry Tyler’s nineteenth published work is a psychological thriller set in a dystopian near future – the UK, Year 2028.

Blogger Lita Stone and journalist Nick Freer live and work online, seeing life through soundbites, news TV and social media. Keeping the outside world at bay in their cozy flat, they observe the ruthless activities of the new PM and his celebrity fitness guru wife, Mona (hashtag MoMo), with the mild outrage that can be quelled simply by writing another blog post.

Meanwhile, in the outside world, multinational conglomerate Nutricorp is busy buying up supermarket chains, controlling the media, and financing the new compounds for the homeless: the Hope Villages.

Lita and Nick suspect little of the danger that awaits the unfortunate, until the outside world catches up with them – and Lita is forced to discover a strength she never knew she possessed.

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REVIEW

Hitting quite close to home as the main character Lita is a blogger who talks about fairly touchy subjects in a future dystopian UK that results in rather dire circumstances, Hope is a gripping psychological thriller. Its dystopian setting is one that has similar goals to those familiar with movies like The Purge, where the government schemes in their own way to thin out the non-working class which is seen as being a burden to the society and disposed of in whatever way possible. “Out of sight, out of mind” kind of deal. This dystopian future is always a nice topic to look at as it also refers to different events that has happened in our current day and age and how it has affected the future of the UK (such as Brexit). This setting opens up through the eyes of Lita about the levels of governmental control, its manipulation of technology, the lies and secrets as well as its schemes to push the non-working class or the poor/less fortunate to these camps called Hope Village in the middle of nowhere and working to live there for credits while having a lot of underlying issues that the three soon discover for themselves.

Separated into a few parts in the book quite cleverly, the situation of Lita and her two friends, Nick and Kendall end up in different locations as they move from one place to the next trying to maintain their bond and stay together as they view each other as family. Each location creates a new section of the story which gives it structure. In each phase, it moves from the struggle to stay afloat as things go sideways for each of them one by one and how it leads them to live in a Hope Village which makes them desperate for change and their actions to this puts them in a much worse situation.

Its these situations that also give Lita the hard times that give her character a lot of development. It shifts from each location from the honest blogger to a much more toned down version that treats situations a little smarter through her many losses throughout the story and shifts her character trajectory. While a few of these situations, from the reader’s view is quite easily predictable and doesn’t quite do any out of the left field. Its really the combination of all these events that make Hope quite an intriguing read.

The finesse of crafting  each of the characters and the hardships they encounter each lead to their own outcome. The setting of this dystopian future UK also is one that has lots of discover. It manages to touch on a lot of the different angles from the government motives to the characters reactions and how to face this situation and find their ways to uncover the secrets trying to be hidden. There’s also a little to think about this dystopian future as the society going backwards as these Hope Villages feel very similar to restrictive camps in history. As thrilling as this might be, where it falls short just a little is that it was fairly predictable and I like thrillers to be slightly more shocking. While I say that, there is no doubt a lot of really great writing and story execution done here. 

Goodreads: 4/5 

Where to Buy:

Amazon UK
Amazon
Universal Link

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terry Tyler

Terry Tyler is the author of nineteen books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Hope’, a dystopian, psychological drama set in the UK, a decade into the future. She is currently at work on ‘Blackthorn’, a post-apocalyptic stand-alone story set in her fictional city of the same name. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in history (particularly 14th-17th century), and sociological/cultural/anthropological stuff, generally. She loves South Park, Netflix, autumn and winter, and going for long walks in quiet places where there are lots of trees. She lives in the north east of England with her husband.

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BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

October 14th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels.com
Just 4 My Books (Review) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com
Lisette Brody (Guest Post) http://lisettebrodey.com/
Reviews and Promos by Nyx (Spotlight) https://nyxblogs.wordpress.com/

October 15th

Lunarian Press (Spotlight) https://www.lunarianpress.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
Tommye Turner Talks (Review) http://tommyeturnertalks.com

October 16th

B is for Book Review (Interview) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Review) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
Books Teacup and Review (Spotlight) https://booksteacupnreviews.wordpress.com/

October 17th

LoopyLouLaura (Review) https://www.loopyloulaura.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/
Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

October 18th

I’m All About Books (Review) https://imallaboubtbooks.com
The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com
Crossroads Reviews (Spotlight) http://www.crossroadreviews.com

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The Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise by Bob Collopy

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

The Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise
By: Bob Collopy

The Phoenix Cycle

New San Francisco is the last city standing on a world ravaged by storms of ash and debris. The city survived by putting the ideals of the American dream on steroids and inspiring its people to persevere, though they have become ruthless in the process. Its citizens are ruled by the General, who has made sure that his people understand that gentleness and pity have become weaknesses that nature no longer tolerates.

Now Steve and Leslie must choose whether they will apply for the General’s once in a lifetime opportunity to “Rise from the Ashes” and join the Inner Circle that rules the city. If they don’t, they will be damned to spend the rest of their lives in the ghettos of Edingburg, a place where virtual reality has become a government-subsidized addiction.

For Steve, the choice is easy. His loyalties lie with the IRA, a revolutionary army led by a voice only known as “Mom.” They are trying to overthrow the General and free the people of New San Francisco from the cruelties of the City Guard. Steve’s mission is to broadcast a recording of a speech that a famous philosopher died to tell. Many thousands have and will perish to get this message out, but is anyone willing to listen? – Goodreads

The Phoenix Cycle was a hard one to get immersed it. There is a lot of potential here for success. There is the dystopian factor and the world building and backstory of what this whole revolution is about for the characters versus those of higher rankings, General and the government. I’m going to be honest that as the characters started filing in frequently to the story, it started getting incredibly confusing to track who was loyal to who and what the whole deal was going on. I criticize the writing style here as it dwells on small facts a lot making it feel like it drags out a lot the story itself. At the same time, I also would say that the structure of the story also causes the idea itself to get lost in its potential depth and doesn’t deliver it. As mentioned before, the idea here has a lot of potential, it just wasn’t executed with a lack of engagement.

And then specifically one of the characters and only that character alone is written in what I suspect is an Irish accent. If everyone fighting in the IRA is supposed Irish then why only that person has this sort of writing and not the others. Actually, to write with someone’s spoken accent is more of script writing instead of say novel writing. It does nothing but make the reading harder and also makes it lack the uniformity that it needs, adding onto the frustration. Sad, because that character was one of the engaging ones to read. In terms of characters, there are a few main ones who are focused in the story, particularly mentioned in the synopsis above. “Mom” has the mystery behind her and she creates quite the mind-boggling situation. The IRA members perhaps are a little more interesting to read just because their cause seems so straightforward and yet so unclear. In terms of who seems like the focus, Steve is one of the main characters from the start as well but always feels very one dimensional.

Confusing, overly descriptive and way too complex for its own good. The Phoenix Cycle has been one of those frustrating reads that takes a whole lot of energy to get through. There are pet peeves in reading that it commits and doesn’t stay uniform to what it tries to achieve. There always seems to be a depths and layers that get carried away far too much than it has given enough time to build-up for. The Phoenix Cycle feels very much like other novels in its genre except lacking some of the polish it should have perhaps in the final editing phase within its structure and writing style.

Goodreads rating: 2 stars out of 5

Book received by:

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Blog Tour: The Phoenix Cycle by Bob Collopy (Promo & Giveaway)

The Phoenix Cycle

The Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise
By: Bob Collopy

The Phoenix Cycle

Publication Date: June 23, 2017
Published by: The Department of Smoke
Genre: Dystopian/YA/Sci-fi

Synopsis

New San Francisco is the last city standing on a world ravaged by storms of ash and debris. The city survived by putting the ideals of the American dream on steroids and inspiring its people to persevere, though they have become ruthless in the process. Its citizens are ruled by the General, who has made sure that his people understand that gentleness and pity have become weaknesses that nature no longer tolerates.

Now Steve and Leslie must choose whether they will apply for the General’s once in a lifetime opportunity to “Rise from the Ashes” and join the Inner Circle that rules the city. If they don’t, they will be damned to spend the rest of their lives in the ghettos of Edinburg, a place where virtual reality has become a government-subsidized addiction.

For Steve, the choice is easy. His loyalties lie with the IRA, a revolutionary army led by a voice only known as “Mom.” They are trying to overthrow the General and free the people of New San Francisco from the cruelties of the City Guard. Steve’s mission is to broadcast a recording of a speech that a famous philosopher died to tell. Many thousands have and will perish to get this message out, but is anyone willing to listen?

Goodreads

Excerpt

Every wrist in the stadium beeped. Every boy and girl glanced down at the face of their watch. “00:10” then “:09” then “:08.” Everyone turned their heads to the west. There it was. Right on time, as always. The nightly storm. A wall of blackness had lurched up into the sky, swallowing the setting sun. The hairs on Steve’s neck stood up, urging him to get the hell out

of there.

Instead he grabbed Leslie’s hand, who sat quietly quivering next to him, instinctively pressing her bow into her head for comfort. Steve knew her shaking wasn’t coming from Line’s yelling, the storm, or even the tank pointing at them. Her quivers never came from the barrel of a gun, no, the ragging agony she held within her was the very same thing that pushed him back into the sheets when the sun finally rose—are we going to lose each other?

Leslie’s mind pushed the feeling away for at least another moment. “It’ll be all right,” she whispered. Her brown eyes guided him to the dozens of mortar tubes pointing upward and outward on the vibrant green field and then to the perfect line of churning ash that approached the stands.

“Unity can only be achieved and be maintained when it is the STRONG who come together and fly under one flag! We, like no other in the world, have created a unity that has never broken, has never FLINCHED! When the rest of the world saw THAT—” Line’s long arm pointed at the coming avalanche of black— “They all fell to pieces!”

The earth began to quake as the wall rose over them. Someone screamed. The mortars on the field fired as one at the roiling sky. The blackness spilled over the stadium, then slid over the perimeter of the frizzing wall of static that had encapsulated the field. No Phoenix Cycler had seen—only heard rumors from past Cycle Pref parties—this blackness that was sliding over and them whispering their deaths.

Purchase Link: Amazon

About the Author

Bob Collopy

Bob is pretty dope. Firstly, his name is Bob, so…yea. Second, have you seen him rock that suit while in a maximum security prison? Epic.

Yea. That’s Bob. No psychological scarring with that author. Nope. Totally fine.

Gosh he looks good in suits.

Hey Have you read The Phoenix Cycle? He wrote that.

One suggestion before you read it and become one of those fans that leaves him roses by his doormat. Read her slowly. This book is not Twilight. She’s deeper than that. Take your time with her. Show the book you care. Cradle it and make it feel loved. If you do, she’ll be good to you. Go too fast and you’ll have no idea why she’s acting so crazy.

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Giveaway

The author is giving away 10 print copies (That’s right 10) and 5 Digital copies of his book so make sure you enter as the odds are definitely in you favor! (Giveaway will run from May 21st to May 30th)

Link

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The 100 (The 100 #1) by Kass Morgan

After the continued efforts to finish reading IT, I have decided to change up the pace yet again and switch between IT and other books sitting in my Kindle mostly because lugging around that 1400 page novel is really heavy and giving me back pains that my chiropractor isn’t too happy about. With that said, I dug out my Kindle and decided to work on some novels I picked up in 2015 thats been sitting in my Kindle unread. With a longing to get back to the TV series for The 100, I decided to check out the book that the show is based on. This is the first in the series.

Let’s check it out!

The 100
By: Kass Morgan

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission…Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope. – Goodreads

In terms of dystopian settings, The 100 has decent one and with everything in the recent years, perhaps it even feels possible that if a nuclear bomb where to go off, the world’s backup would be to evacuate a certain few groups to space to survive while the radiation tapers off and Earth becomes viable again. Being a fan of the adaptation always makes it hard to read the source material because it makes you have a comparison. The 100 is a good book with the focus of the perspectives of four characters: Clarke, Wells, Bellamy and Glass. It takes us on both the Ark and the struggles there while also looking at the issues with not being on Earth but dropping a bunch of juvenile delinquents on Earth.

Using the four perspectives are good, it helps broaden the story and give the readers a point of reference and it allows us to learn about the characters, especially as it breaks down how and why they got arrested which highlights who these four are. I don’t quite mind the character development and the story or setting as much as I don’t quite like the descriptive nature of the writing. That honestly is a personal preference. Its easy to read but some parts hop onto slight cliches and it felt slightly corny plus, there was a heavy romantic angle focus which I have mixed feelings about. The 100 felt like in this first book to scrape the surface. It went through the motions of giving us the key plots and then the crisis on The Ark and ends with The 100 faced with their first threat, other people on the ground attacking them. With that said, I like my books self-contained even if it is a series. A good series can end their story and still intrigue their readers to come back in the sequel. The 100 has that intrigue just in its premise so it doesn’t need the cliffhanger ending.

I think this brings us to talk about the changes from the TV series to the book. For one, the entire arc of Glass and Luke are removed in the show however, the show gives a wider group of characters with their own skillset that are beneficial to the group. In this first book, the set up is quite lacking as they only end with realizing that people do live on Earth. Our characters and their leadership and intentions are diffferent also. Clarke is still strong but not quite the leader she is in the show which honestly is what I love about her in The 100. Bellamy also gets a more extreme character where he lacks his presence here. Although you do have to say that they do feel more like lost kids in this book because this is all new to them and between the dazzlement of being on land, it also emphasizes on the lack of knowledge.

The 100 was a good read. It has the right idea and to be honest, I think the show, only referring to the first season, actually takes its characters on a deeper journey than what the book does. While it is good to focus on a few characters and their arcs, the story could be so much better focusing on the dystopia and the new world they are in rather than the petty romance. Even if I am a Bellamy and Clarke fan from the series, it still was a little too much especially in some of the descriptive writing. The style just lacked a little something for me. It usually is a good move to step away from the soure material and in this case, it worked for the broaden scope of tv series.

If anything, reading The 100 has made me want to restart the series to refresh my memory ( not that I really need to) and catch up with season 3 and 4.

Resolutions 2016: Battle Royale

Check out my review of Battle Royale over at Silver Screen Serenade for her wonderful series, Resolutions!

Silver Screen Serenade

battle royale 2.5

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope your week has been a splendid one. Apologies for failing at getting my post out yesterday, buuuuut I have another fantastic guest post for my Resolutions series today! The lovely Miss Kim of the equally lovely Tranquil Dreams kindly decided to drop in and talk about her film resolution!

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