Indie Feature Friday: Top 10 Cyberpunk Novels by Independent Authors

These Indie authors are taking cyberpunk to the next level!

If you ask most SF geeks about their favourite cyberpunk novel, you’ll likely hear one of two answers. William Gibson’s Neuromancer or Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.

I know this, because I’ve been asking! Genre research is something I take pretty seriously.

I’m halfway through Neuromancer right now, and loving it. Snow Crash is next in my traditionally published TBR pile.

But I have another TBR pile, too. One reserved for independent authors!

I try to read at least one traditional and one indie title in the genre I’m writing in every month. This keeps me up to date on both mainstream and marginal trends to make sure that I’m hitting the right tropes and also still offering readers something unique.

So, while I will be reviewing both the traditional and indie titles that I read while writing my new cybernoir detective series, Bubbles in Space, I’d like to give you a sneak peek at the indie writers in my TBR pile!

Note: When you buy a book using one of the following links, I may earn a small commission! This allows me to keep buying and reviewing books on the blog, and comes at no extra cost to you.

Find Your Next Cyberpunk Read Here!

Grinders by C.S. Boyack

Grinders by C.S. Boyack is the first cyberpunk novel I ever read! You can read my review here.

Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.

Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.

Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.

Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.

Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.

This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.

Amazon.com

Liquid Cool by Austin Dragon

Liquid Cool by Austin Dragon is the highest rated (that I could find) indie cyberpunk novel on Amazon! So it had to be one of the first I started to read. It’s got some whacky twists on classic cyberpunk tropes, larger-than-life characters, and lots of action. If you like plot driven, action packed adventures, this is one for you!

Liquid Cool Book #1 is the FIRST-IN-SERIES action-packed (and funny) sci-fi detective series.

Meet a private eye with a cool hat, laser gun, and attitude. But don’t touch his red hovercar — or you could get shot!

Enter the high-tech, low-life world of Liquid Cool as Cruz faces off neon gangsters, sinister cyborgs, corporate samurai soldiers, and laser-gun shootouts while solving his cases in the rainy supercity of Metropolis. It’s more gritty action and dark humor than you can handle.

In the debut novel that started it all, author Austin Dragon shows why you never want to meet a cyborg in a dark alley.

Liquid Cool is cyberpunk reimagined. It’s cyber-noir. It’s science fiction meets the detective thriller in an ever-rainy world of mega-skyscrapers. Hovercars fly above in the dark, bustling skies and gray people walk below on the grimy, flashy streets of this “neon jungle.” Metropolis isn’t a bad place, but it isn’t a good one either. Uber-governments and megacorporations fight for control of the supercity, but so does crime.

It’s here we meet Cruz, our private eye (and unlikely hero), in this supercity with a million victims and perpetrators.

Sci-Fi Gets Cool…Liquid Cool!

So grab Liquid Cool today and begin your action-filled and funny sci-fi detective adventure with Cruz and company!

Amazon.com

Into Neon by Matthew A. Goodwin

I just started this one last night, and the first chapter has me hooked!

“Star Wars Meets Blade Runner In An Awesome Adventure!” -Amazon Review (5 Stars)

Moss’ life is going nowhere until a mysterious woman knocks on his door and leaves him with the key to take down one of the world’s largest corporations. When he discovers a familial connection to the stranger, Moss leaves the comfort of his home with his best friend for the sprawling megacity.

There, he joins a group of ruffians dedicated to freeing people from the yoke of the evil companies. Police-for-hire, motorcycle gangs and betrayal threaten them at every turn.

Can Moss help this small group of rebels fight the power before it’s too late? Find out in Into Neon: A Cyberpunk Saga.

Amazon.com

Cyberpunk City: The Machine Killer by D.L. Young

A notorious data thief thinks his life of cybercrime is behind him. He couldn’t be more wrong.

Forced by a powerful executive to steal a priceless dataset, Maddox uncovers the shocking truth of a secret war between AIs, raging inside the digital universe known as virtual space. Plunged headlong into the deadly conflict, he’ll have to use every trick he’s ever learned—and a few he’s never tried before—if he wants to survive.

Sprawling megacities, rogue AIs, black market tech, modded mercenaries, and a pulse-pounding story filled with unexpected twists. If you love gritty, hardcore cyberpunk, you won’t want to miss this series!

Amazon.com

Behind Blue Eyes by Anna Mocikat

Welcome to the year 2095. Killer cyborgs hunt down anyone who disagrees with the “utopian” society.

Nephilim is the best operator in these elite death squads. Genetically and cybernetically enhanced, she and her team strike terror wherever they go. Knowing nothing besides this lifestyle, Nephilim believes that she’s part of a righteous cause.

Then a system glitch changes everything. Separated from the grid, for the first time, Nephilim begins doubting the world she lives in. Things get even more complicated when she meets Jake, a 100% bio-human, who opens her neon-blue eyes to the lies she had been exposed to all her life.

Nephilim decides to take a stand against her creators. But in this brave new world, can one person beat an all-powerful system of oppression?

Soon, Nephilim finds herself hunted by her own people…

Corporate megacities, dystopian themes, cyborg assassins, badass heroines, charismatic villains – an adrenaline ride that never stops.

If you love action-driven cyberpunk full of unexpected plot-twists, you don’t want to miss this!

Amazon.com

The Blind Spot by Michael Robertson

COULD YOU BETRAY EVERYONE YOU CARE ABOUT TO PREVENT A WAR?

The Blind Spot exists in defiance of Scala City’s dystopian big brother regime. It occupies a small sector in the city, and those who live there believe in their right to privacy. Scala City believe if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide. But the Blind Spot have hackers that could bring the larger city to its knees. This is why it’s never spilled over into all-out war. Until now …

A terrorist attack on Scala City’s main plaza has tipped the delicate balance. There is only one person who can halt the conflict before it begins …

Marcie Hugo, daughter of the Blind Spot’s leader, and the district’s best kept secret. Cybernetically enhanced, she’s faster, stronger, and smarter than most. But more importantly, she’s invisible. Protected and hidden away by her father for the majority of her life, she’s in the unique position to move between the Blind Spot and Scala City unnoticed.

With the best hacker in the city on her side, and while the rest of the Blind Spot prepares for a bloody war, Marcie gets to work …

To avoid total annihilation, she will have to betray everyone she loves, starting with her father …

And even then, her chances of success are slim …

Join Marcie in a race against time as she turns over every neon-lit inch of Scala City and The Blind Spot in a quest to discover who’s trying to destroy her home and why. And even if she is successful, with the number of ties she’s severed, how much of a life will she have left to return to?

The Blind Spot: Neon Horizon book one is a fast-paced science fiction thriller. If you like dazzling neon dystopian landscapes, where entertainment, credits, and the latest street drugs are all worth more than human life, then you’ll love this hard-hitting grimy glimpse into the hyper-cities of the future.

Amazon.com

Centricity by Nathaniel Henderson

“This intricate, big-data blast delivers a thrilling ride for cyberpunk SF fans.” —Kirkus Reviews

Centuries after the Fold, civilization is fragile. Holding it together is Naion, a city on the brink…

Intelligence Officer Adasha Denali is adept at solving problems, words her weapons of choice. When a botched operation sparks a diplomatic crisis, the political hammer falls hard on her agency. But Adasha senses this is just the tip of a larger threat; one that could send the world tumbling back into chaos.

Digging through a network of deception, she runs headlong into corporate mercenaries, a disavowed spy, and Neon Nik, a washed-up hacker with a world-changing tech in his pocket.

Nik used to be a legend. And fearless. And gainfully employed.

Now he wades through life struggling to pay off circling loan sharks—until a family friend is murdered and he inherits a stolen prototype.

With a vortex of hired killers and government agents on his heels, Nik’s got a decision to make: sell out or risk everything to regain what he lost. And perhaps save his city in the process.

Enter a world of engineered spies and high-tech weaponry, where synthetic intelligences whisper revelations through brainware and reality is just another overlay.

Amazon.com

YLO by Nicholas Clare

In a world where everyone’s biometric profiles are on record, a young policewoman turns up the impossible: an unidentifiable corpse. Jen’s hands are full: small kid in tow, obnoxious partner and stepson, incessant office politics, her Yellow ranking to maintain, and a demanding search-and-rescue job. So the last thing ylo-Jen needs is a mystery murder victim. Worse, the case is linked to a flourishing drugs ring. And both the Priesthood and her own hierarchy are holding things back. No wonder she’s got issues…

This beautifully crafted novel in a dry and laconic style is a crossover between literary, sci-fi and thriller. The characters are realistic, flawed people struggling to cope with families, drugs, sexuality, religious beliefs, death and the Afterlife, and above all the rat-race… in a thoroughly unpleasant but all too believable far-future society (that yields some uncomfortable reflections on our own). Imagery and characters perhaps reminiscent of the Handmaid’s Tale, Black Mirror and The Bridge: the dystopian, the discomforting and the dysfunctional.

Amazon.com

Xenochrist by N.H. Weber

XENOCHRIST is a science-fiction/cyberpunk novel set in the year 2503 and follows tech industry giants Kravac Alntar and Wixspin Atlicke as they struggle with the apparent suicide of one of their closest friends and business partner at ProgKVW, Volz Shimmel. Was her suicide an accident? The duo are thrust into a massive conspiracy involving rebel operatives, closed-off countries as a result of the Unification War, the massive Earth Unified Nation contractor Svetlo-Zeme, and the entity known as Xenochrist.

Amazon.com

Tropical Punch by S.C. Jensen

Of course, if you are interested in any of the above books, I hope you’ll check out mine too! Tropical Punch is Book One in my new cyber noir detective series, Bubbles in Space. It’s a hilarious, action-packed spin on the classic detective novel and I know you’re going to love it.

Launch Day is March 29, 2021 and pre-orders are live!

Strippers, Drugs, and Headless Corpses…

All in a day’s work for Bubbles Marlowe, HoloCity’s only cyborg detective.

What do an anti-tech cult, a deadly new street drug, and the corrupt Chief of Police have in common?

It’s a question Bubbles can’t afford to ask. Last time she got curious it cost her job, a limb, and almost her life.

She vows to stay out of police business. But with a newly minted cybernetic enhancement, a semi-legal P.I. license, and a knack for asking the wrong kind of questions…

Vows are made to be broken, right?

But as the body count stacks up, Bubbles realizes she’s made a terrible mistake.

Can she figure out who is behind the murders before she loses her head?

Warning: Don’t read this book if you hate fun, glitter, sassy robotic pigs, or hard-boiled badassery. Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett are rolling in their graves, but this is all their fault.

Get Punched! Buy it now!

Amazon.com

Discussion

Do you have a favourite cyberpunk novel? Do any of the books on this list tickle your bionic funny bone? Let me know in the comments!

Black SF&F Writers You Need to Read NOW!: Indie Edition

Some of the best SF&F books out there right now are written by indie authors.

Don’t believe me?

Try some!

Traditional publishing has a long and glorious history of taking the safest route possible into customers (that’s readers!) pockets. They don’t like to take chances, try new things, explore risque themes and ideas. They don’t like to support writers they deem as “too niche.”

Which means the traditional publishing industry pumps out a lot of same old, same old books. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year.

You get the idea.

I am fortunate to know many fantastic indie authors, writing in every genre from non-fiction and memoir, to romance and history, to–my favourite–science fiction and fantasy.

So to wrap up my How Long ’til Black Future Month? series, I give you Black SF&F Writers You Need to Read NO!: The Indie Edition!

Science Fiction

Jelani Wilson

SpaceWizards! The Ballad of the Bladesinger by Jelani Wilson

If you’re looking to spice up your reading list with something totally different and out of this worlds, be sure to check out The Ballade of the Bladesinger by Jelani Wilson.

This novella is an offshoot of Wilson’s upcoming SpaceWizards! novel, and this teaser does not disappoint! I love the irreverent blend of Sci-Fi and Fantasy tropes, the vibrant characters, and magically intergalactic setting. The dialogue is smart and funny (I’ll be adding fuckmelon to my list of curse words), and all the little details make this snapshot of Wilson’s world building come to life.

Xenobia the Blue is a magic blade swinging Space Wizard trying to lay low by posing as a backup singer for the famous cyborg songstress, Tronix. But when her cover is blown, all hell breaks loose on the luxury spaceship she’s been hiding out on…

Because this is a novella and not a full length novel I can’t give away too much more than that without ruining the plot. However, if you love spaceships, magic, creative alien species, and high stakes espionage, you’re going to love this book!

Ballad of the Bladesinger has a kind of Fifth Element / Guardians of the Galaxy vibe that is fun, feisty, and action packed. I highly recommend checking it out.

Find Jelani Wilson Here:

Website: http://www.pageswithoutpaper.com
Instagram: @jelaninfinite

W.A. Ford

The Fadian Experiment sucked me in from the first page. It starts out tough and gritty, you jump into some high-stakes action right off the bat, and it really doesn’t let up the whole way through.

The main character, Kaleigha, is living a brutal life. After failing a childhood assessment that would have placed her in a job, she now wanders the streets looking for temp work or hustling as a fortune teller while dodging the unwanted advances and abuses of police and other citizens. As if that’s not bad enough, Kaleigha hears voices in her head. That’s why she failed her assessment, and it’s getting worse instead of better.

I loved the set up for this novel. The way Ford describes the world and city, I was reminded of N.K. Jemisin’s settings where the city is almost a character in its own right. There is nothing kind about this world, and Ford’s depictions of future class division are frighteningly realistic.

As we get deeper into the story, the plot spirals and everything we think we understand from the beginning of the book is turned upside down. The characters are intense, the pace is relentless, and the world is complex. You just have to keep reading to see what’s coming.

The Fadian Experiment blends science and magic, reality and fantasy, dreams and memory with so many twists and turns you never know what is going to happen next. At its core, though, this is the story about a poor young women who will do anything to help her city and improve the lives of her people.

Book Two in the trilogy, The Fadian Escape is coming soon, so be sure to follow W.A. Ford for updates!

Find W.A. Ford Here

Facebook Page: The Far BackRoom
Instagram @thefarbackroom

Natasha Oliver

If you love fast paced, urban fantasy with a Sci-Fi twist have I got a book for you!

In Awakening, Book One in the Evolved Ones trilogy we meet Rox.

Rox is on the run, desperate to escape the people chasing her and to find out who she really is. From the very first page, we are sucked into Rox’s quest to rescue herself from a personal hell. She is stuck in limbo, being used by everyone who promised to help her find her identity, and she doesn’t even know if there is anything to discover. The unknown threatens to destroy her.

I am a sucker for great characterization. Oliver takes this skill to the extreme. She handles a large cast of characters with in-depth, emotionally driven character arcs. Each of the characters is fully developed, with a unique personality, compelling backstory, and complex motivations. You’ll even love the unlikable ones!

This book grabs you, shakes you, and drags you along with it. Break-neck pacing, fever-pitched emotions, and non-stop action, Awakening has “Blockbuster Movie” written all over it.

This is an absolute must read for anyone who likes action-packed Sci-Fi with a heavy dose of raw emotion and character depth to go with it.

You can easily pick this book up and read it straight through. It is hard to put down, even if you know you have to wake up early. I might have had a rough morning or two because I was up reading after the kids went to bed!

Book Two: Sacrifice is available now!

Find Natasha Oliver Here:

Website: www.natashaoliver.com
Instagram: @natasha_oliver_author

Fantasy

M.J. McGriff

Macario’s Scepter by M.J. McGriff

Are you looking for a rip-roaring adventure with magic, pirates on the high seas, snarky dialogue, and a little sexual tension?

That’s a stupid question. Of course you are.

Macario’s Scepter by M.J. McGriff is the perfect beach read book or–if, like me, you are locked in an eternal winter–the perfect “wishing you were on a beach” read. Either way, this fast-paced YA pirate fantasy is going to spirit you away to a tropical paradise filled with white sand beaches, handsome rogues, badass heroines…

… and an evil magical serpent bent on destroying the world!

Trust me. You’re going to have fun.

McGriff’s characters are smart and sassy, make all kinds of hilarious bad decisions, and are simply a joy to go adventuring with.

And I was on the beta reading team for Book 2: The Secret Library and let me tell you… it only gets better!

If you’re looking to dip your toes into this world, check out M.J. McGriff’s website and sign up for her reading group via the popup to get a free copy of The Griffin, a fantasy novella set in the same world as these swashbuckling adventure stories.

Find M.J. McGriff Here:

Website: www.mmcgriff.com
Instagram: @mj_mcgriff

Sharon D. Ballentine

A Look Behind Lightning by Sharon D. Ballentine

Wow! This is quite a read. You’re definitely getting your money’s worth with this one at almost 500 pages.

A Look Behind Lightning is a spooky urban fantasy with a ton of wonderful characters. It slowly builds suspense as we follow Jocasta and her students through their daily lives, with things getting stranger and stranger as the book progresses. Tensions rise, monsters emerge, and everything comes crashing together in an epic climax!

Ballentine does a superb job of immersing us in her characters’ lives so that we really care about them and the supernatural events that threaten to take over their lives.

This is a long book simmering with slow-burn tension, and Ballentine really uses the length well. You will be fully immersed in these characters lives so that when the book finishes… you’ll be itching to start Book 2!

Find Sharon D. Ballentine Here:

Website: www.sdballentine.com
Instagram: @sdballentine

Further Reading

Do you have any favourite indie authors you’d like to share? I try to read at least one indie book a month, and I review all of my favourites. So drop a recommendations below and I’ll check it out!

More Black SF&F Writers You Need to Read NOW!

Celebrate Black History month by exploring Black Futures with some of my favourite SF&F writers of all time!

Part One: N.K. Jemisin

Part Two: Ocatvia E. Butler

Part Three: Nalo Hopkinson

Part Four: Nnedi Okorafor

Part Five: Indie Edition, 5 Black Indie SF&F Writers You Need to Read NOW!

Indie Feature Friday: BROKEN THINGS by A.L. Garcia

Welcome to another installation of my Indie Feature Friday series! Today I’ve got something a little different for you. I usually review SF&F books on this blog, but I’m going to shake things up with a memoir. Today, I bring you <a href="http://<a target="_blank" href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08G8X3M4Y/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B08G8X3M4Y&linkCode=as2&tag=scjensen03-20&linkId=c41f01caf092f8cb485db3363830bf24">Broken Things</a>""Broken Things by A.L. Garcia.

Indie Book Review with Sarah Does Sci-Fi

A.L. Garcia is a poet I discovered on Instagram, and she is US Veteran and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Garcia is using her platform to spread awareness of a pervasive issue which society prefers to ignore, and also to bring hope and inspiration for other survivors and to encourage them to tell their own stories.

This is a novella length memoir, but you may want to take your time with it. <a href="http://<a target="_blank" href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08G8X3M4Y/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B08G8X3M4Y&linkCode=as2&tag=scjensen03-20&linkId=c41f01caf092f8cb485db3363830bf24">Broken Things</a>""Broken Things is an emotionally difficult read about a subject that makes most people shut down and tune out because it’s so awful to think about. It’s not something you want to read, but something which is important to read anyway–if you can–in order to better understand the problem and hopefully to help future children.

Broken Things by A.L. Garcia

<a href="http://<a target="_blank" href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08G8X3M4Y/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B08G8X3M4Y&linkCode=as2&tag=scjensen03-20&linkId=c41f01caf092f8cb485db3363830bf24">Broken Things</a>""Broken Things by A.L. Garcia is a gut-wrenching story about surviving childhood sexual abuse. I read a wide variety of both fiction and non-fiction, and it has been a very long time since I’ve read anything that has upset and shaken me as much as this book.

As a parent of young children, it is particularly hard to read because Garcia’s story really highlights the way children are let down by the people they should be able to trust more than anyone. Garcia suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of her father while her mother turned a blind eye. It’s heartbreaking to imagine, and the ripples such trauma has across the life of a child doesn’t end when they escape their abuser or become an adult.

While parts of Broken Things are very raw and unfiltered and painful to read, her story is not one of hopelessness. Garcia’s simple, straight-forward prose is filled with little flashes of beautiful imagery and joyful memories, too. An early love of literature informs much of Garcia’s understanding of the world in her younger years, and moments of quiet reflection on her circumstances add depth to her experience beyond the pain of abuse.

Most powerfully, Garcia’s story is a direct naming and calling out of her father, who is still alive and possibly still abusing children. He has never faced charges or served jailtime, and Garcia has reason to believe she is not the only one who has suffered at his hands.

If you are hesitant to read this book, I completely understand. I only braved it after speaking with Garcia and understanding her mission to spread awareness about this issues. Having read it now, I can say I am glad that I did. It ends on a note of hope, leaving off where Garcia and her siblings manage to escape their broken home. Finishing this book feels like a weight being lifted of one’s shoulders as we see Alma grabbing her future and setting herself free.

Alma is an absolutely wonderful writer, friend, and supporter. She encourages other survivors to contact her, to share the burden of their experiences, and to find their own paths to healing. Even if you can’t bring yourself to read Broken Things, I ask that you please share this review in the hopes that other survivors might find it and reach out for support.

Discussion

I won’t be posting a formal review for this book as I can’t really get the emotional distance from the work to critique it. As an “own story” memoir, I don’t think critique is the point of the reading experience, though it is exceptionally well written and powerful.

What is the most powerful memoir you’ve ever read?

Indie Publishers of Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror (Part One) —

Good morning, my fellow word nerds! Today I’m sharing a fantastic list of Indie Publishers from the Conquer Books blog. This list is perfect for anyone starting to plan their holiday shopping who wants to support indie writers and publishers (I hope that’s all of you!) or for writers who are looking for places to submit their weird and wonderful speculative fiction. Enjoy!

With this list of indie press publishers, we offer resources for finding debut authors, ground breaking genre benders, and treasure troves of stories.

Indie Publishers of Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror (Part One) —

Indie Feature Friday: THE AWAKENING by Natasha Oliver

Indie Feature Friday: THE AWAKENING by Natasha Oliver

TGIF, my friends! Today, I have another fantastic indie book to share with you. I’ve been reading a lot of Science Fiction from independent and small press writers this year and I have been so impressed! My Indie Feature Friday posts will highlight the cream of the crop. So if you love books, science fiction, and supporting indie authors, be sure to follow along!

Indie Book Review with Sarah Does Sci-Fi

Today I’m reviewing Awakening: The Evolved Ones Book One by Natasha Oliver.

Awakening: The Evolved Ones Book One by Natasha Oliver
Click through to Amazon

Natasha Oliver was born in South Carolina, USA, and has lived and worked in Japan, Singapore, and throughout Southeast Asia for more than 16 years. Most recently, she has spent the last two years in London, England but is in the process of moving home to the US as we speak. Natasha earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Goddard College and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing at Lehigh University, and will be teaching Creative Writing at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida next year.

You can check out what she is up to on her website www.natashaoliver.com or on Instagram @natasha_oliver_author.

Indie Book Review: Awakening by Natasha Oliver

If you love fast paced, urban fantasy with a Sci-Fi twist have I got a book for you!

The Blurb:

In a world where humans are evolving, people are more curious than afraid. They look for answers from a handful of scientists who try to uncover why some develop abilities yet the vast majority do not. For most humans, it’s an exciting time, but for Evolved Ones – EOs – it’s a game of hide and seek that ends with far too many of their kind disappearing, permanently. Four years ago, Rox awoke without a single memory and the involuntary ability to heal. Speech and most of her higher level cognitive functions were working, but everything about herself felt unfamiliar. Plagued by insecurity and confusion, she leaves the only home she can remember in search of her true identity.

from Amazon

The Set Up

Rox is on the run, desperate to escape the people chasing her and to find out who she really is. From the very first page, we are sucked into Rox’s quest to rescue herself from a personal hell. She is stuck in limbo, being used by everyone who promised to help her find her identity, and she doesn’t even know if there is anything to discover. The unknown threatens to destroy her.

The Characters

I am a sucker for great characterization. Even in stories where nothing much is happening, if the characters are well developed and embarking on a personal journey, I am happy to move along with them. Oliver takes this skill to the extreme. She handles a large cast of characters with in-depth, emotionally driven character arcs. Each of the characters is fully developed, with a unique personality, compelling backstory, and complex motivations. You’ll even love the unlikable ones!

The Execution

This book grabs you, shakes you, and drags you along with it. Break-neck pacing, fever-pitched emotions, and non-stop action, Awakening has “Blockbuster Movie” written all over it.

This is an absolute must read for anyone who likes action-packed Sci-Fi with a heavy dose of raw emotion and character depth to go with it.

You can easily pick this book up and read it straight through. It is hard to put down, even if you know you have to wake up early. I might have had a rough morning or two because I was up reading after the kids went to bed!

I am dying for the next book, which is coming out March 7, 2021 and is available for pre-order now!

Sacrifice: The Evolved Ones Book Two by Natasha Oliver
Click through to Pre-Order today!
Acceptance: The Evolved Ones Book Three by Natasha Oliver
Coming Soon…

Technical Details

Natasha Oliver is represented by Marshall Cavendish International (Asia), so she is not technically an indie author. However, as her publisher doesn’t deal in fiction outside of Asian markets, Oliver has to act as an indie. Hybrid publishing is becoming more and more common, and I want to support my small press authors too.

The editing and formatting of Awakening is as flawless as the writing. I know you won’t be disappointed with this book!

5 Stars for Awakening by Natasha Oliver

I have said before, I will only be reviewing the best of the books I read for Indie Feature Friday. So you already know ahead of time that I loved this book. If you love science fiction, science fantasy, or urban fantasy, this fast-paced SF thriller is a must read.

A Note on Reviews:

Did you know that reviews are essential to independent authors’ visibility?

If you buy an indie book, first of all “THANK YOU!” from all of us. It’s a tough go out there competing with big publishing houses and their million dollar marketing plans. Any support you can give us has a huge impact.

Second of all, please leave an honest review on Goodreads and wherever you purchased your copy. Indie authors read your reviews! If you loved it, great! Tell us why so we can try to do it again. If you didn’t, that’s okay, too! Please tell us what didn’t work so that we can do better next time.

More Reviews

If you liked this review, check out the others in my Indie Feature Friday series!

Thanks for reading! If you’ve read Awakening, let me know what you thought in the comments. Which indie author would you like to see me review next?

Indie Feature Friday: GRINDERS by C.S. Boyack

Indie Feature Friday: GRINDERS by C.S. Boyack

I’ve been making an effort to read more books by independent authors this year, both to support indies and also to see what’s going on outside the world of Big House publishing. My focus is usually science fiction, but you will see some other genres pop up here and there. I will be sharing a review every Friday. So if you if you love books, science fiction, and supporting indie authors, be sure to follow along!

Indie Book Review with Sarah Does Sci-Fi

Today, I’m reviewing Grinders by C.S. Boyack!

Grinders by C.S. Boyack.
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I first discovered author C.S. Boyack through the Story Empire blog, where he is a frequent contributor. After reading a number of helpful posts on storyboarding, I wandered over to his personal blog, Entertaining Stories, and have been happily following along for a couple of years now. I don’t naturally gravitate toward blogs as my social-media of choice and I tend to lurk more than like, comment, and share. However, I do buy books (much faster than I can read them.)

I’ve bought a few of Boyack’s novels this year, and as they pop up in my e-TBR pile, I will be reviewing them here. This is the first!

Indie Book Review: Grinders by C.S. Boyack

When approaching a new-to-me author I do what any self-respecting book browser does. I gravitate toward the prettiest covers. This lead me to the purchase of Grinders and Voyage of the Lanternfish. Who doesn’t love neon lights and deep-ocean creatures, right?

I was in the mood for something in the sci-fi vein more than fantasy, so I started with Grinders.

The Genre-Mashup of My Dreams

I am a shameless detective novel addict. I can’t get enough of them. I love everything from gruesome true crime to ridiculous crime capers, but there’s a special place in my heart for the classic police procedural or detective novel.

Of course, the whole point of Grinders is that Jimi Cabot and her partner Lou are not detectives. They’re just bottom of the barrel beat cops.

The beat, though, is a cyberpunk dream. (Or is it a nightmare?) Set in a futuristic San Francisco full of holographic pop-up ads and illegally cyber-enhanced citizens, Grinders is like “Ghost in the Shell” meets “Law and Order.”

The Characters

Jimi nearly lost her job after the San Francisco PD discovered a secret from her past, and has been relegated to the Grinder Squad, a go-nowhere department run out of the basement at HQ.

Here, she meets Lou, a seasoned PD vet whose old-school skills have made him obsolete. He’s waiting out the days until his retirement and is a little resentful at getting stuck with the new blood.

There’s a great dynamic between Jimi and Lou as they are forever seeking a balance between her youthful enthusiasm and his cynical realism. Both characters have a lot more going on beyond the job, and Boyack weaves their backstories into the main plot expertly.

The Setup

Everybody knows that the Grinder Squad is a sham department. Theoretically, their purpose is to crack down on the growing Grinder problem–that is, black market doctors who install illegal cyber-enhancements. But Grinders are notoriously elusive and the PD basically uses it to drum up funds for the rest of the departments. The Grinder Squad gets stuck with the grunt work, while the “real cops” do all the fun stuff.

But Jimi is convinced that if she can bust a Grinder, she’ll redeem herself and save her career. If only she could get Lou on board with her plan!

The Execution

I loved this book. Grinders bops along at a steady pace, using the characters to drive the plot forward and explore the world without ever falling into the tedious exposition that kills a lot of SF novels.

The funny thing is, Grinders isn’t a fast paced action/thriller but it never feels slow. I got so caught up in the day-to-day tasks of Jimi and Lou, the interesting cast of characters they meet up, and their own personal struggles that I didn’t think a whole lot about the main plot line until suddenly all the connections came together and BAM! It all came together.

Boyack has a great sense of humour. In particular, I loved the way he poked fun at some current social phenomena by exploring where they might go in the future. Cyber shut-ins, crypto currency schemes, political correctness on steroids, and the inevitable result of aggressive helicopter parenting all get stirred into the mix with hilarious results.

Technical Details

I hate that I have to mention this, but I know how some people feel about independent books. I know the fear of spending your hard earned pennies on something that the author hasn’t even bothered to edit.

Fear not, fellow readers!

Grinders is well-written, cleanly edited, and formatted perfectly. You will get nothing less than the best. This is a professional product from an experienced writer, and it shows.

5 Star Review!

If you love science fiction worlds and strong character development, this is the book for you! Grinders will give you a lot to think about, but it’s fun and entertaining and emotionally driven. You aren’t going to get bogged down in a bunch of hard SF technical details and mumbo jumbo. You are going to care deeply about these characters and the fascinating world they live in, and you’re going to love the way everything ties together in the end.

A Note on Reviews:

Did you know that reviews are essential to independent authors’ visibility?

If you buy an indie book, first of all “THANK YOU!” from all of us. It’s a tough go out there competing with big publishing houses and their million dollar marketing plans. Any support you can give us has a huge impact.

Second of all, please leave an honest review on Goodreads and wherever you purchased your copy. Indie authors read your reviews! If you loved it, great! Tell us why so we can try to do it again. If you didn’t, that’s okay, too! Please tell us what didn’t work so that we can keep it in mind for the next book.

**I only review my favourite indie books on the blog. My goal is to support other independent creators and share my platform with positivity. I’m not here to criticize or bring down anyone, so if I read a book that I don’t feel is up to par I will let the author know privately. You will only find 4 and 5 star reviews on this page. Feel free to suggest a book for me to review in the comments!**

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you’ve got in your TBR pile. What do you think of Grinders? Have you read it? Will you? Tell me all the things…

Indie Feature Friday: PROPHECY by Caroline Noe

Indie Feature Friday: PROPHECY by Caroline Noe

I haven’t done a book review in a long time, but since getting involved with the #bookstagram community on Instagram I have read so many wonderful indie and hybrid authors, and I think it’s time to share some of the wealth with you guys. I will try to reserve my end-of-week posts for Indie Feature Friday so that they are easy to find.

First up, is Prophecy by Caroline Noe, Book One in The Canellian Eye trilogy!

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I have been following Caroline Noe on Instagram for a while now, and I have always been so impressed with how supportive she is of other authors. Her feed is full of beautiful photography, thoughts on life, and reviews of independently published books. If you’re on the gram, you should definitely check her out!

Review: Prophecy

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from Noe’s Canellian Eye trilogy. I had seen the gorgeous covers many times when she posted about her work, but I hadn’t actually gone to creep the Amazon listing. In my head it was a post-apocalyptic SF because there’s a lot of that on Instagram. I also expected it to be YA.

Preconceptions aside, when Noe offered a promo on Book One, Prophecy, I bought the whole trilogy without worrying too much about the specifics. I had seen her help and support so many other authors, I knew I wanted to support her. So I jumped into the first book without having any idea what to expect.

I was blown away!

First of all, let me clear things up. It’s not YA, by my definition. The characters are young, and there’s no graphic sex or dirty talk, but the themes definitely skew toward an older crowd. New Adult, perhaps. But I think we can safely call this a book for adult readers.

Second of all, this is not a Post-Apocalyptic or Dystopian Sci-Fi. It’s a blend of Science Fiction and Science Fantasy (I never know where to draw the line between the two). It’s got aliens, space travel, the colonization of a new planet, and inter-species conflict galore. I was so pleasantly surprised by everything about this book.

The Plot

The Canellian’s are an alien species from a dying planet. Following an ancient prophecy, they identify their Chosen One and send him and a handful of their best and brightest into the stars to find a new home. For those left behind, it is the ultimate sacrifice for their species. For those on the ship, the struggle for survival is only just beginning.

No Spoilers!

That’s all I’m going to say about that. But let’s just say that things don’t go exactly as planned. Like in any great book, Noe makes her character’s lives miserable. It all makes for some fantastic reading!

My thoughts…

Prophecy starts off slow and atmospheric. There is a bit of back story the reader needs to become acquainted with. We have a large cast of characters to meet and become familiar with. Readers of SF will likely be comfortable with this slow and steady world building. And once the action starts, you will be glad you spent so much time getting to know the world and the people in it!

Then shit hits the fan, first in outer space and then on the planet they must make an emergency landing on. And when the action starts, it doesn’t let up until the end.

Prophecy is exquisitely complex. Noe’s characters are all so wonderfully developed that, even though there are many of them, they each leap off the page as individuals. Even the baddies are relatable on some level. The emotional undercurrents driving the plot are so strong, you can’t help feeling completely invested in the outcome.

Technical Details

Many Indie books suffer a little in the design, formatting, and editing aspects of publication. It’s tough to be an indie and have to pay out of pocket for all of these services (which are NOT cheap! It can cost thousands of dollars to produce a book you buy for a couple of bucks or download for free during a promo!) I am willing to look past a few Indie quirks for this reason. It is very difficult to compete with the teams of people who work on books from Big House publishers.

Prophecy is a work of pure professionalism, though. It is easily as well edited and designed as any book put out by one of the Big Guys. You would never know Noe was an indie writer if I didn’t tell you! I’m very, very impressed with her work and I cannot wait to dive into Books Two and Three in The Canellian Eye trilogy!

The Canellian Eye Book Two: Chosen by Caroline Noe
The Canellian Eye Book Three: Rebellion by Caroline Noe

My Rating: * * * * *

I’m giving this book and easy 5 Stars. If you love true SF, with space ships, aliens, and interspecies warfare, this is the book for you. If you love books with complex characters, richly developed relationships, a little romance and adventure, this is the book for you!

Reviews

If you decide to pick up Prophecy please let me know what you think! More importantly, leave a review wherever you purchase it from so that other readers can find it and fall in love, too.

Thanks for reading!