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
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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.
Click through to Amazon.com

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!

Click through to Amazon.com

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!