Book Reviews: Star Wars: Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland

Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland is the second Young Adult novel in The High Republic series. The High republic comes 200 years before Star Wars: A New Hope. This novel is paced so slow with only 3 battles. Reath and Master Cormac are the returning Jedi from the first YA but given background roles in this. The ending of this book saves it from being a 2 star review. There’s is only two things of significance that happen that will effect the adult Star Wars: The High Republic novels. This book was missing humor there’s one recurring event that was funny. What the book is filled with is young adult angst, which reached an annoying level, instead of being poignant. There’s a LGTBQ relationship that was good for inclusion purpose but the relationship wasn’t all that strong. I feel the adult version handled the LGTBQ relationship better. The plot is a huge long con, the pay off is all at the end which saves this novel, but I wanted to see this good writing through out. After reading the 2 adult and 2 YA Star Wars: The High Republic novels Out of the Shadows has been my least favorite.

The Plot: A device that can rip ships from hyperspace is causing havoc. The Jedi are sent to research this. A freight hauler lands in a conspiracy when she finds out her mother she thought dead is rumored to be behind the device. Vern one of the Jedi is called out by a mysterious voice guiding her to something, is the voice friend or foe?

What I Liked: The ending was great, the lead up to it was not. I liked that the character of Nan, who was in Out of the Past and was a frenemy with Reath and part of the Nihil returns to have a bigger role. I did like the running gag of Vern crashing what ever ship she is in, that was the only funny part in the book and it worked. I liked the plot line of Vern and the voice and who it belonged to. I like the attempt at the LGBTQ relationship but it could have been a lot better. I liked the speeder bike fight even if it was super brief.

What I Disliked: The pacing was really bad in this, one of the worst I’ve read in the 20 or so Star Wars novels that I have read. I was not happy about the Jedi plot lines in this story. I needed way more humor in this story. Barely any battles in a 352 page book maybe 30 pages were battles.

Recommendations: If you’re a casual Star Wars reader I would recommend skipping this one there’s two things of significance that involve the Nihil, and I imagine the adult novel catching us up in less than one page of dialogue. If you are a super fan then you are like me and going to read this book anyway. I rated Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland 3 out of 5 stars. This book was almost a 2 star review, but the ending really saved it.

Book Review: Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica is a uniquely told mystery because it is told in reverse, but you still don’t know all the facts making it very compelling. There are some big twist that will make you change your whole theory of what is going on. The writing was good with just enough description to let you visualize what is going on. The narrative is told at three different times by four different people in the story, at first this is a little dizzying, but then starts to fit in to place. The way the story is told makes it brilliant, if it was told the normal way it would still be good but they way it is told makes you question and doubt everything. This is my first Mary Kubica and I was blown away I have heard her name mentioned in mystery but didn’t expect to be this blown away and frankly jealous that I did not think of this brilliant way to tell a story. The finale is heart ponding and the villain gets what they deserved. This book does have LGTBQ characters. There are trigger warnings of extreme child abuse that could ruin this book for some. I would like to thank Netgalley and Harlequin trade publishing for giving me an advanced reader’s copy of Local Woman Missing. Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica is published on may 18th 2021.

The Plot: A girl escapes people that have been torturing her for 11 years, the girl is famous of a sort for missing. The novel jumps back 11 years to the day of the missing girl, and we know she is not the only one missing the mom and another local woman are missing as well. Then the novel jumps back even further to 11 years and 3 months, where the mom receives a threatening text message saying I know what you did years ago, you will be punished.

What I Liked: The plot and the way it is told add so much tension. The past will change you perception of the future, it was really cool how that was done. I liked the psychological aspect to the book on the toll of reintroduction of a girl missing takes on her and the family, having Leo, the younger brother of the missing girl be the narrator was great as we get in his head. I did like there was a lesbian couple that no one batted an eye at and trusted there kids with. The finale was tense you already know who the villain now you want to find out if they get caught or they do more destructive things. I was very satisfied with the ending and the turn of events.

What I Disliked: There was one plot twist about a cheating husband, an accusation, then we find one girl had an affair I was bummed that it wasn’t tied into the husband, and that the husband having an affair just went away in the story, I kind wanted to know if it was true, or the accuser was just paranoid. I liked having the perspective of Leo a young 14 year old, but he has some lines about love and sex that felt more like a 40 year old that has been through the ringer not a 14 year old virgin.

Recommendation: Read local Woman missing it is a really smart mystery, that takes the reader for a ride shows you all the suspects and slowly fill in the details of the past and the present. Be warned of the trigger warning for extreme child abuse and entrapment. If I had to compare the narrative style to another book I would say it was closest to The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, as close as it is the two are very different and this book doesn’t have a perspective that you can not trust. I rated Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica 5 out of 5 stars. I will definitely be reading more Mary Kubica in the future.

Book Review: The One by John Marrs

The One by John Marrs is great science fiction, where a scientist has found a gene that links you to one over person on the planet that you’re supposed to be with, your one and only love. That scientist of course cashed in and makes it a website that you send your DNA to get the results. This premise gets Black Mirror-ed showing the horrors and doubt that can arise with this technology. It gets you the reader to wish this technology exist then shows the horrors that go with it. We follow five people that use the website, some in reluctance , some eager, and some with trepidation. What I enjoyed is that the stories all have twist some come right at the beginning, some in the middle and some at the end. So as one story will slow down another will have a huge twist and totally change it. The One has been made into a Netflix show, that I can’t wait to check out. This the 4th book I have read by John Marrs and it did not disappoint in the least. The technology in The One is mentioned in The Passengers and The Minders which are books about future technologies, that hackers try to hack and manipulate. The book does have an LGTBQ storyline which is done really well

The Plot: A gene is found that links you to the one you are to belong to, your one true love. A website is started where you can send in DNA to have it analyzed. We follow five people, Mary who has been showing everyone her match, but something happens before they can meet, Jade who lives in England is matched with a Australian farmer with a catch, Christian is a serial killer of women that has just been matched, Nick and his bride to be dare each other to take it, when Nick does he’s matched with a man, and A super rich women with no time to date, becomes matched with a regular guy, she must keep secrets to see if this is real.

What I Liked: The premise and the story arcs are great. I liked that the characters never meet each other, it would have been to much of a stretch to make this happen. The characters are great and you know and understand them in the end. The twist are really good, each story has a major twist, and they are all plausible. My favorites were Christian, Mary, and Nick. Their are some happy endings and some truly messed up endings. The end twist was a great one that made you question every thing and every couple.

What I Disliked: The only tale that I never connected with was Jade’s, I did enjoy the twist but it took a while.

Recommendation: I really enjoyed this story as I have enjoyed all John Marrs so far. If you have never checked out his work I would recommend this story The One and What Lies Between Us. Marrs is If he king of domestic thriller, every book he writes is a page turner. I rated The One by John Marrs 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is a horror set in the 90’s that is a take on Scooby Doo and his gang grown up and dealing with real monsters and not some man in the mask. I is a little similar to the new DC run Scooby Apocalypse, where the gang is a little more grown up and deal with real monsters. Meddling Kids is a combination of Lovecraftian creatures meet the Goonies being portrayed by the Scooby Gang. The twist and turns mainly come at the end a few are a stretch but some I really enjoyed. It has LGTBQ representation in the lead character of Andy. The book is a slow build up to an exciting finish but it will test the readers patience by having slow pacing. A. Z. Kimrean the lead of This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us Cantero’s follow up book makes an oh so brief cameo in a mental ward.

The Plot: In 1977 a group of kids started the the Blyton Summer Detective Club where four kids and a dog solved local crimes. The last case when they caught an old man in a creature mask, and admitted to the crimes calling them ,meddling kids. But 13 years later the group is still haunted by what they saw, on member Peter has recently committed suicide. The criminal has been released and when confronted he admitted it didn’t commit the crimes, but lied so he would be protected in jail. The Blyton Summer Detective Club decides to get back together and solve the crime they missed.

What I Liked: there’s a lot of clever pop culture references. Nate seeing a ghost of Peter device is used really well, and adds to the mystery. I like what they did with the dog to make it “Scooby-like” at the very end. I liked what they did with the town bully, Joey. The climax was really exciting with a couple twist and turns. There was a lot a well placed Scooby references. One of the coolest cover art’s Ive seen for horror.

What I Disliked: The pacing is super slow at the beginning, it takes the gang way to long just to get to the town on their road trip. The monster’s could have been described with more detail, it was hard picturing. Never have a I read a story that needed a flashback scene so bad, I think a flashback scene would have solved most of my problems with it.

Recommendations: I think Edgar Cantero is a really clever writer, but this one didn’t live up to my expectations after liking This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us so much, so therefore I can not recommend this one. In This Body’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Us the plot is very focused, where Meddling Kids the plot keeps going off in tangents. I rate Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero 3 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The House on the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune is a heartwarming Young Adult novel about intolerance in magical creatures the world misunderstands. This story is the themes of intolerance in the X-men comics by Stan Lee and Chris Claremont meets the odd yet lovable characters from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Rasom Riggs. This book is mainly Young Adult, but it brought up some adult themes that were refreshing, body image, LGTBQ issues, and Christianity. the LGBTQ characters are handled with care and love like I haven’t seen before, being gay is not a huge revelation and the book gets that gay people are actually all shapes and sizes. The themes of intolerance are layered though out wither it be sex, religion, and race. See something say something is a common phrase in the book posted on billboards and repeated through out. This book has been blowing up the blogsphere and I’m happy to say it lived up to the hype.

The Plot: Linus Baker is a by the book official whose job is a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he visits orphanages and checks too make sure the orphanage and child is safe. He is quiet in his observations and never invoking feelings into the cases. He lives a quiet sheltered life with his cat the only exciting thing about Linus is he’s gay, but he never seems to put himself out or dates. He dreams of the ocean, but has never been, then finally he gets a chance as Linus gets an ultra sensitive case with an orphanage on the Cerulean sea. He gets this case because it requires no emotions and he is so unbiased. He reads the first file and passes out at what the first child is and can be, and there is 7 of them. This will be the hardest case of his life to have no judgement.

What I Liked: The heart of the story is full and beating, I couldn’t help but get emotional, as Mr. Baker grew to the person he was supposed to be. Lucy and the record store owner was my favorite scene, the dialogue was hilarious. Chauncey was my absolute favorite character, he has all the heart, all he wants is to be a Bellhop, just let that kid be a Bellhop. Runner-up character is Sam, I love what his character becomes. The Gay relationship was done with such tenderness and affection. I liked the twist when Linus gets the full file. The overall story really works, sure the reader knows where the story is going but it was still beautiful being there with Mr. Baker when he figures it all out.

What I Disliked: I wanted to see the change in Sam, it is only talked about I would have loved to see his voice change. I would have love to see the stoner guy do a counter protest when the town turns. I didn’t like the Zoe relationship thrown in at the end, since we rarely ever saw those characters say two words with one another.

Recommendations: I recommend this heartwarming story of intolerance for the young adult audience. There’s some adult themes but it it brought up both playful but taken seriously. I think this book will open some eyes on intolerance, which is always a good thing. I rated The House on the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune 5 out of 5. It was a wonderful story that made me feel things and like a character that I did not at the beginning.

Book Reviews: Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht is a confusing female lead space opera. This novel is very confusing especially at the beginning, this is one I fought with myself over do not finishing but I pushed through. The story is like a one off episode of Star Wars The Clone Wars, merged with some characters from the Alien franchise, there’s an Ellen Ripley in Angel, there’s a Call in Kennedy, and a whole lot of Private Vasquezs. The character are different but most of them all talk the same. The plot is pretty crazy and doesn’t really start going until half way, we get the villains motives at the 90 percent mark. There is bits of exciting action but once again most it is often hard to follow. The bear action scenes were awesome. The best part of this novel is when the Merc crew talks crap to each other, there’s some good lines that I would include in this review but I read an ARC copy, thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books, and can not post words since they are subject to change. The book does have a non-binary character and lesbian characters to represent the LBGTQ. When I read the description I had high hopes for this novel as it is being publicized as a female lead Mandolorian like space opera, but I just did not enjoy it.

The Plot: Women with political influence start getting murdered, they are linked to indigenous alien race that have advance technology. The villain wants the tech for her own devices. The Merc crew perform a suicide mission protecting the race against and army of mech suited soldiers.

What I Liked: The scenes of the women talking crap about past missions and relationships was the best I wish it had more scenes like that. The bear verse mech suit was the highlight of action, there’s another scene where one of the aliens communicates with a bear that was pretty cool. There is some great lines of dialogue, most take place in the two talking crap scenes. I do love te female empowerment and LGBTQ representation. I like the characters of Angel, Kennedy, Beak, and Sukyi. The relationship with Angel and the ship the Kurosawa was a special one.

What I Disliked: The whole first half of this book is so rough, you will have twenty names in the first thirty pages and 17 of them all talk the same, making it impossible to form a connection. It jumps a round to weird spots, who set up the log bobby traps? why is one team now separated when they were just together? The villain’s motive is way too late the woman seems to be evil and then she starts getting bossed around, it was bad. The world building is half realized, or we as the reader only see half of it. Catholic religion is brought in briefly then never talked about again.

Recommendation: I recommend you skip this book if you need LGTBQ charters in a science fiction setting please check out the excellent Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. Star Wars the ultimate for your space opera fix. The Star Wars series has been bad about not having too many strong female protagonists, but has been slowly changing and making effort for more, so check out the newer novels. I rated Persephone Station by Stina Leicht 2 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is a family drama about race, focusing on the light and darkness of skin color. The book will really make you self reflect your own prejudice and bias based on skin color. Bennett doesn’t just analyze the white standard of skin bias but the black on as well. The book starts in the 1950’s and goes up to the early 1980’s. The story follows 3 generations of the Vinges family women. The story jumps in time a little a the beginning which took some getting used to but, I liked what it set up. The story was really good and really got into the psychology of its characters. The way the story was told reminded me of The Immoralists by Chloe Benjamin, and how the story jumps in time. The Vanishing Half is an important story that needed to me told. This book features an interesting portrait of a trans man transitioning, which was pretty bold. I do fear that the scene will turn off some readers, who came for a story about race, which would be unfortunate. The Vanishing Half won the Goodreads choice award for Historical fiction in 2020, I do feel this is a little bit of a stretch as history is an afterthought to the drama the only moments in history that are highlighted are Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assignations and the Aids crisis that’s really all, there’s rarely a pop culture reference. The story is a fantastic general fiction that involves four decades. The Vanishing Half is being developed as a limited series at HBO and HBOmax.

The Plot Desiree and Stella Vinges are twin sisters in the small town of Mallard, Louisiana. A town so small it’s not even on the map. The Vinges are all very light skinned and so is every other colored person in the town, that’s the only way the white people can tolerate them. Stella and Desiree are so light they could almost pass for white. Stella has experimented with this and passed for a brief moment when a black man working security spotted her. The twins lost their father to a mob of angry white men, there mother did what she could but she couldn’t pay the bills, she made the girls drop out of school and work with her to pay the bills. The girls each dreamers, wanted more out of life and weren’t happy, they decide to run away. They stayed with each other for quite some time until Stella a perfected playing white and leaves her sister Desiree for a different life as a white woman. Desiree find love and marries a dark skinned man and has a dark skinned child in Jude. The husband beats her and she returns home with her child causing a stir because of her daughter’s skin color. Desiree meets Early and bounty hunter that she knew as children and hasn’t lost his crush, he covers for her to her husband and starts looking for Stella.

What I Liked: The story and the conversation around skin color is really fascinating. The relationship between Loretta and Stella was my favorite, someone she feared would reveal her secret would be the only friend she could talk to. The psychology of faking white and what it does to Stella towards her relationship towards black people. June was my favorite secondary character, I loved the psychology of her and secrets. I liked how the story made connections, it was real and messy not tied up in a bow. There’s to many good lines of dialogue here are my to favorite exchanges “White folks kill you if you want too much, kill you if you want too little.” Willie Lee shook his head, packing tobacco into his pipe. “You gotta follow they rules but they change ’em when they feel.” and “You did all this for a man?” “Not for him,” she said. “I just liked who I was with him.” “White.” “No,” Stella said. “Free.” Desiree laughed. “Same thing, baby.”

What I Disliked: Stella still hides her true self from one of the most important people in her life, I feel if she told them they would not have believed her anyway, but she would have got it off her chest. I do find it a little unbelievable that no one questioned Reece about being trans before he could start the hormones and have surgery.

Recommendations: The Vanishing Half is a heck of a read that will make you think after you read it. The Vanishing Half has a hard look about skin color backed up by a fantastic story. The story flows really well and was hard to stop at certain points. I rated The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett 5 out of 5 stars. I look forward to reading more from Brit Bennett in the future.

Book Review: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is a groundbreaking new fantasy that is inspired by the history from Pre- Columbian Americas. The story is rapid paced, with so much conflict, it is hard telling who exactly is on what side of the good or bad coin, but the story was a fun read. The look at politics and religion is the best thing, do you believe in the prophesy? do you believe so much in the prophesy you will do anything to stop it? Will you set up your own candidate for murder but look like it is suicide to take over? will you make a suicide look like murder to stop a war? These are all questions asked in this deeply engrossing novel. The novel features the first pansexual character that I’ve read it is a very friendly LGTBQ story. There are four revolving narrative each with its own agenda and unique backstory. A really great climax, I wanted more story closure at the but it is clear that Black Sun is the first book in Between Earth and Sky trilogy so it ends on a cliffhanger. I have known about Rebecca Roanhorse for a while, I have seen great reviews for Trial of Lightning, and bought it on a kindle deal, after Black sun that book will be jumping up my TBR. I thanks to Netgalley and Gallery books for an advanced reader copy. Black Sun was published on October 13 2020.

Plot: Serapio is blinded and carved when he is a teenager during the Black Sun, in twenty years when the next Black Sun comes he will be a God. Serapio has started gaining the ability to see and talk with crows, and he can also release a deadly shadow. Xiala, is jailed former captain, and also a Teek, whose song can calm the waters and people around her. She gets the deal of a lifetime, a ship, bailed out of jail, and a mission taking the mysterious Serapio to Tove to become Crow God. We meet the Sun Priest Nara a good leader that has an assassination attempt foiled, but she won’t retaliate, to most people displeasure, that want war and the priest to rule by war. It is prophesied that for Serapio to become Crow God he must kill the Sun Priest. Okoa has recently lost his mother, he is lead to believe at the hands of the Sun Priest, after meeting her he is convinced she was not responsible, but he is inadvertently involved with the assassination plot on Nara. There’s a lot and this is just the start of this twisty novel.

What I Liked: The backstories on everyone are really well done and reveal so much. This novel has 3 scenes of action that are super intense. The character’s are great it took me a little while to get on Nara’s side but I liked the others pretty instantly. The powers of Serapio and Xiala are really cool and keep evolving. The world building was done really well, it reminded me a lot of Scythe by Neal Shusterman, where it starts small and expands so naturally, also it reminds me of Scythe of how politics and religion work together. The visuals the words paint were easy to picture. The ship mutiny scene was so great, and everything leading up to it. I think pansexuals will be happy with Xiala’s portrayal. Serapio is like a blind Bran from Game of Thrones that actually does cool things with his power.

What I Disliked: I do wish that the ending had the closure of the story and not leave it so open ended. The Xe and Xir was really confusing to figure out. sometime it was capitalized sometimes not (I did receive an uncorrected proof, so hopefully this is made a bit clearer in the final version).

Recommendations: Black Sun is a very good piece of writing that I can’t wait to read the next book. The world building is new and fresh. If you liked Scythe like I liked that story I think they are very similar in the way the stories are told, but very different stories. This is a good little fantasy that is fun with a great story, that has a lot more to tell. I rated Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is a the sequel to the excellent Gideon the Ninth. Harrow the Ninth is book 2 the The Locked Tomb trilogy. Harrow was the necromancer and Gideon was her cavalier (swordswoman). The best part of Gideon was the love hate relationship between Gideon and Harrowhawk that have to work together or they could die. Harrowhawk takes the leads in this one, which was good, but her character is no Gideon, and I missed her raunchy smart snappy dialogue. Harrowhawk learns some cool tricks with necromancy that are the highlights of this book. This book is is one of the most confusing that I have read in a while. The main story is really good, but it’s really difficult to know where you are, the bounce around space and time. There’s a reason for the confusion but it did not have to take almost 65% of the book. I will give Tamsyn Muir credit, she made some bold choices in this book, that challenge and frustrate the reader for a decent payoff at the 65% mark. This book reminded me of the Twilight book New Moon where the most interesting character Edward (sorry team Edward) is gone for over half the book. This book was a challenge for me, I really enjoyed about 75% of the story, rest I was really confused.

The Plot: Harrowhawk passed the deadly challenges in the last book making some ultimate sacrifices. She has reach Lectorhood and has joined the emperor, being one of his necromatic ninjas. Harrowhark is now able to raise and animate the dead with ease and turn her own bones into a variety of weapons. Harrowhawk is now a student and has to learn a lot of hard lessons fast because someone is trying to kill her. She has to pass into the River of Souls who want to keep her and detach her soul from her body, she is also training to fight and kill the resurrecting Beast who wants to kill the emperor. This book is filled with so many twist and turns, that have deadly consequences.

What I Liked: The difficult choices Muir made, is greatly appreciated, I’ve read two authors where there second novel felt like a cookie cutter version of the first, and this book is definitely not like that. The twists keep coming and changing everything you know. Harrowhawk’s necromancer skills turning her bones to spears and turning her bone marrow into a weapon. The orgy that comes out of nowhere. Ianthe and Harrowhawk’s relationship. The huge spoiler reveal at the 75% I almost cried I was so happy. More backstory on Harrowhawk’s family and the locked tomb. Ortus’ character was a standout for me.

What I Disliked: The novel was confusing enough with figuring out where people are in space and time, could have really gone without having multiple characters with the same name, that was just cruel. The big twist was too long, it could have been teased a little more. I had a hard time with sometimes I would no people’s names and actions but get no description. The settings needed bette descriptions as well, I could not visualize the spaceship for my life.

Recommendations: This is a good sequel that expands the story and world building. This is a book where you must read the first book to read this one, you are just thrown into the story, and expected to remember character from the last book and there importance in that story. If Harrowhawk was your favorite character in Gideon the Ninth then you will love this book. The book is LGTBQ friendly with having multiple lesbian, and bisexual characters. I rated Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir 3 out of 5 stars. I was really split on this one 3.5 would be the accurate for this book.

Book Review: The Trials of Koli by M. R. Carey

The Trials of Koli by M. R. Carey is an aptly titled books as that is what Koli and his group face, as they try to make it to London. The Trials of Koli is book the second book in the Rampart trilogy. The first book, The Book of Koli, was brimming with heart and the second one is too. Koli is trying to figure out a world he was sheltered and lied against by the village of Mythren Rood. The second book picks up a second narrator Spinner, who is the woman he wanted to impress that lead him to stealing the tech that got him banished, that fills in all that went on in the village of Mythren Rood since Koli was vanished. This book filled in one gap that the first book did not, they’re locked in this village because trees can now kill, but the first book doesn’t show us, then comes the introduction to the choker trees and their seeds. Choker trees are trees that shed and drop seeds every couple of years, if the seeds touch body in flesh they will immediately take root in a person’s body. I think the people at Netgalley and Orbit books for giving me ARC for The Trials of Koli that is published on 9-15-20. The Book of Koli made it into my top ten of best books last year.

The plot of The Book of Koli – the world we know has long been dead nature is what most are afraid of as a type of tree can walk and kill. Most stay protected in their little village, Mythren Rood and are forbidden from leaving the protection. Koli is a woodsmith in a family of woodsmiths that works at the lumber mill. When he is older he plans to take a test to be a rampart. A rampart is special class of citizen that rules the others, they use tech of yester-years to protect the village. To become a rampart you have make the old tech work on first touch. The tech is a flame thrower, a laser, bolt gun, and some other devices. Koli and his best friend Haijon dream of being ramparts, Haijon’s mother, aunt, grandfather, and cousin are all ramparts. Koli is tested with four other young adults with Haijon being the only one who can make the tech work, becomes a rampart, and gets Spinner the girl he wanted to wed. Koli is devastated, thrown into wood work, this all changes when Ursula a visiting healer, who is charge of pregnancy and other abrasions, uses and knows tech she scavenges is saved by Koli holding back a rampart from accidentally hurting Ursula. She tells him how tech really works through access codes and fingerprint analysis and that the ramparts are rigged. Koli knowing this is determined to be a rampart, breaks in to the hold and steals a piece of tech that is not exactly a weapon, that he gets to work. Under the rampart rules he is a rampart, but if the ramparts are rigged what will they do when they find out what Koli has done? They vanish him one of the Rampart that wanted more power grabs the tech that Koli stole and demands he make it work or will kill him. Koli figures he’s dead anyway and uses the tech to over power the rampart killing him and Koli is reunited with the tech. The noise draws in a group of shunned that capture him and want him join their cult. Koli finds that Ursula has been kidnapped as well. they escape and end up taking a prisoner in Cup and decide to go to London.

The Plot of The Trials of Koli this books take right off where the last one ended, with Ursula, Koli, and a still bound Cup heading for London and a beacon that is still up and running. They don’t make it very far until they run into Half-Ax who scour for new tech and claim this land as theirs, as they escape Koli cuts Cup’s bonds which lets her flee and Koli get caught. with Ursula and Cup escaping Cup and Ursula hate each other so he has no chance in them working together to save him.
Spinner is a girl that Koli once mated with and is the main reason he wanted to be a Rampart to begin with so they can wed and not his former best friend Haijon. We see through Spinner’s eyes as Koli displays the tech he got to work at her wedding, to all the rumors surrounding him. We get to see the fall out after the Rampart that Koli killed and their tech destroyed, effects Haijon since the tech was going to go to him and Spinner. Spinner finds out the deadly secret that Ramparts aren’t called upon to use the tech, but chosen by the Ramparts already. A plaque has effected the village of Mythren Rood they’re looking to Rampart Remember who uses a tablet for information, he is suffering from dementia, and with the help from Spinner uses the technology in secret, as more people die. Rampart Remember decides to give her the tech as he has an old non-working one to fool the other Ramparts. She solves it but as she does she is busted with the stolen tech, will she suffer the same fate as Koli?

What I Liked: The heart of these book sticks out more and more, we all want to see the world as Koli. The book dealing with Cup who is transgendered during the Apocalypse, and what that is like. The villages acceptance of Cup and how they explain it is beautiful. The rescue attempt at the Half Ax and the plotting leading up to that. Spinner and her story development was exciting to see. The sea bear fight was a highlight. I liked seeing the traditional healer’s jealousy at Ursula and her tech healing and the trial she makes for Ursula. The big show down with Half Ax was great. I liked the dual storytelling at first I was on the fence, then I started enjoying Spinner’s story more than Koli’s.

What I Disliked: The pacing was not always great, the middle stalls for a bit with the Koli storyline. I wanted to see more of Koli and his thoughts, I felt Cup kind of took over at the back half of the book.

Recommendations: This is turning out to be a pretty good trilogy with the unlikeliest of heroes and weapons. Spinner storyline was a breath of fresh air. The story ends with a pretty good cliffhanger that can change everything. I rated The Trials of Koli by M. R. Carey 4 out of 5 stars.