Shaykitteh's World of Books

A reader, reviewer, proofreader, and editor; my goal is to share my love of books with others, so this is where I will be posting my reviews!

Review: The Cyborg Chronicles

The Cyborg Chronicles (The Future Chronicles) - Paul K. Swardstrom, Michael Patrick Hicks, Eric Tozzi, Artie Cabrera, P C Tyler, Annie Bellet, Samuel Peralta, Susan Kaye Quinn, Crystal Watanabe, Ken Liu, A.J. Meek

There are days that I think Samuel Peralta must be a wizard who uses his magical powers to somehow gather the most interesting authors with the most fascinating tales to tell. Every time I think that the last volume of The Future Chronicles can't be beaten, another one is released that is just as good or even a smidgen better.

The Cyborg Chronicles is the latest example of Samuel Peralta's wizardry. A collection of twelve short stories involved all things cyborg, I can honestly say that there was not a single story that I disliked in any way. The collection of course starts with a foreword from Peralta, where I think he casts his initial spell to get the reader to fall in love with the collection.

The first actual story in this collection is one that I actually read before in another collection. "The Regular" by Ken Liu was also included in the book Upgraded and one was of my favorite stories out of that collection, combining murder, mystery and technology in a fast-paced adventure to solve a crime. I was very happy to see it in this collection as well, and even though I had read it before I very happily re-read it, falling again into the adventure.

Paul Swardstrom's "Upgrade Complete" is a fascinating tale of a man turned cyborg, stuck in an arena surrounded by other cyborgs - aliens and humans alike. Pieces of JR-8's former life, and the reason for bring in the arena, are woven throughout the story, leading to an exciting battle and the hope for a new tomorrow.

"Drop Dead, Droid" by Artie Cabrera addicted me to Johnny Rangers, a pulp fiction detective in a futuristic world. I loved the gritty crime, the mobster-style bosses in cybernetic form, and the hope for more stories to come! Please... where can I read more Johnny Rangers??

Eric Tozzi's "Hide and Seek" is a thrilling game of hide and seek... where the humans are the ones hiding with a giant disadvantage. In the quest to weaponize animals using biotechnology, they seem to have forgotten the instincts bred into wild animals from birth. Will they survive?

"Avendui 5ive" by P.K. Tyler shows us a community of orphans, all raised and enhanced with bio-mechanics to serve a specific purpose. But what happens when one of the Teks is unable to fulfill that duty? Part love story, part dystopian nightmare, I loved this tale and really hope to read more set in this universe.

The next story is "Indigo" by Moira Katson, and this is a tale of a cyborg gone rogue. When a mind-wipe fails, will the conflict destroy the cyborg known as Indigo? I really enjoyed this story as well, told both by the cyborg in question an her human handler/supervisor.

Susan Kaye Quinn has long been a favorite author of mine, and "Augment" is not only another tale written to flesh out her Ascender Universe, but can also be read as a stand-alone. When the majority of humanity is no longer human, what happens to those left behind? Can they fight back without being destroyed? This tale gives us an inside look at that fight and the lengths that one girl is willing to go to save her people.

Patty Jansen's "His Name in Lights" is a brilliant tale set in a growing conflict between a technological company and one set more on war and domination. One reason that I loved this is because it shows the human side of cyborgs, and the love that can exist.

"Dyad" by David Bruns is a story that will make you read it over and over, looking for clues to an ending that took me by surprise. Yes, I actually paused in my reading to re-read this and soak it all in, then frantically combed the internet for more books in this series. When full cyborgs have been illegal for years, what happens when you find out that they could be hidden in your own neighborhood, looking just like another human?

Michael Patrick Hicks is a talented author who's work I recently became aware of, not afraid to look at the world around us today and mix that into his stories, showing us a future that could exist. "Preservation" takes us into the world of poaching, showing us the possible extinction of animals and the lives of the people who fight to save them.

A.K. Meek's "Charm Bracelet" takes us to a future where all wars are found on the moon to protect the humans on Earth... but where do the fighters come from? Once dead, a person can be brought back as a cyborg, enhanced with interchangeable weapons and frightening characteristics. But what is really going on in this war and what lengths will the government go to win?

The last story of the collection is Annie Bellet's "Ghosts in the Mist." As the protector of the creatures who live in the Mist, Jana has to face her own internal demons while caring for others. This is a fast-paced tale, full of wonders both technological and magical, and is the perfect ending to a wonderful collection.

Did I like this collection? Well, I was given an Advance Reader Copy, but had a purchased copy downloaded onto my kindle even before finishing the third story. This collection of short stories not only gives you a look into the talents of twelve separate authors, but each story is in itself complete, leaving you with a fulfilling experience of looking into different worlds, and living through twelve different exhilarating experiences.

Miss Kane's Christmas - Caroline Mickelson

Cute, but I really didn't like the main characters. Carol was way too pushy, essentially taking over Ben's house and ignoring everything he said, purposely doing things she knew he wouldn't like. Ben, on the other hand, was grumpy throughout most of the book, but they never really said what his grudge was against Christmas specifically.


In the end, everything is magically better. Three stars only because I liked Santa & Mrs. Claus, the elves, and Ben's children. I'll read another book in this series just to see if it's better with a different set of main characters.

Review: Star Wars: Before the Awakening

Star Wars The Force Awakens: Before the Awakening - Greg Rucka, Phil Noto

Short but very informative, this book is a prequel to The Force Awakens, giving us three short stories that add to the movie without giving away any spoilers.

I really enjoyed Finn's story the most, because it explains aspects of his training and your can see the struggle he's going through... The struggle that ultimately leads to his defection.

Rey's story is a little less intense but gives us more information on her day-to-day life on Jakku, as well as explaining how she got some of her skills.

Poe's story gives us more information about the Resistance and the corruption within the Republic. His story ends at just the right point, giving us the opening to the movie.

Overall, this is a wonderful collection that answers several questions that I had from the movie, as well as providing motivation and background for several characters.


Review: Agent Smith and the Naughty Elf

Agent Smith and the Naughty Elf: A Utility Company Story - Ellen Langas Campbell, Will Swardstrom, Paul K. Swardstrom

'Twas the night before Christmas, when Melvin appeared
Only Agent Smith stirred as the evening neared;
Checking the mail lead to quite a surprise,
As a visitor sped away in front of his eyes.

Will and Paul Swardstrom bring us a hilarious short story of an alien elf let loose in the headquarters of a secret security agency. But can Agent Smith, with the help of Director Wall, manage to catch the naughty elf before more damage is done?

I loved this story. It's a great introduction to Agent Smith and the Utility Agency, who we will be seeing more of in a full-length novel in 2016, and I kept laughing throughout the entire short! This is a perfect Christmas story, and I especially loved how the authors managed to re-write and fix in part of "A Story from St. Nicholas" into the story itself.


Review: Crime & Punishment

Crime and Punishment: A Speculative Fiction Anthology - S.W. Fairbrother, Lucas Bale, S. Elliot Brandis, G. S. Jennsen, Michael Patrick Hicks, J.S Collyer, Alex Roddie, Samuel Peralta, Harry Manners

Reading an anthology is one of my favorite ways of being introduced to new worlds, new ideas, and new authors. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, with its eight stories by talented authors, is no exception.


The collection starts out with "Atonement" by Lucas Bale, introducing us to a bounty hunter who must track down others to stay free himself. Showing that sometimes it's easier to let yourself see only the surface of things, but that you might lose your humanity in the process, this is a story of regret and redemption. 4 ½ Stars


"Bang:Bang" by S. Elliot Brandis brings us Schrödinger's cat in written form. Would you be able to pull the trigger, knowing that there would be a 50% chance you would die instead? The government doesn't think you can. Out of the entire collection, this is probably my favorite story, since I loved the cause to effect of the story progression, as well as the uncertainty involved. 5 Stars


J.S. Bollyer's "New Tricks" is another great story, bringing us into the jail cell of a man—a boy, really—who is accused of killing others, seemingly with his mind. This story is fast-paced and brings us intrigue and action both, wrapped up in an intergalactic tale. 4 ½ Stars


Traitors go down the hole. The traitors go into the moss. And the worms are intelligent. What is really going on in S.W. Fairbrother's "Oubliette"? Unique and well-written, this author hooked me in the first few pages! 5 Stars


The theme of "The Marque" by Michael Patrick Hicks is difficult choices. In this western-feeling story set after an alien invasion, we get to see how the choices others make play out in the long run, and it leaves us to contemplate what hope there would be in a similar situation, and what we would do if we found ourselves there. 4 ½ Stars


"Solatium" by G.S. Jennsen is a story of justice, set in the lawless colony of Pandora, and became one of my favorites in this collection. It can be read alone or as a supplement to the author's Aurora Rising trilogy... I loved the characters, so I've added the trilogy to my TBR list! 5 Stars


"Arcadio's Valley" by Harry Manners gives us a view into a future where humans are so engrossed in technology that we stop seeing the world around us, stop caring about what makes us human. The only exceptions are the elderly, who remember a time before the Mind, when people actually were allowed to have thoughts and ideas of their own. I really enjoyed this story, especially since it is a glimpse into a possible future. 5 Stars


The last story in this collection if "The Great Correction" by Alex Roddie. After humanity brought the Earth to the brink of disaster, the Great Correction took place—leaving the humans remaining with rules that grow stricter by the day. The author does a great job at showing the conflict because ideals and reality, and what happens to those left behind. This is a great tale to finish out the book with, as it completes the circle with a new beginning. Or is it an end? 5 Stars


Overall, I rate this as a 5 Star Collection, full of stories that show that no matter what year it is, and no matter where we are in the universe, there is always a consequence to our actions.


I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Finity

Finity: A Story of Mars Exploration - Felix R. Savage, Duncan Long

The Martian meets Survivor...


In an age where almost everything is turned into a reality television show, it really isn't too much of a stretch to imagine a Mars First show, where four random people are chosen to be the first to land on Mars.


The beginning of this short story was a little scattered, skipping from introducing Raphaella to talking about the mission training, to showing Raphaella and Deet on Mars. Luckily, the story settles into the adventure once they're on Mars, and I found myself really empathizing with the characters and wondering what happened next. While the ending might be considered a cliffhanger by some, I prefer to think that the author is allowing us to keep hope alive.


Note: I received a copy of this story from the author's mailing list.


Review: The Panther's Legacy

The Panther's Legacy: A Spellbound Tale - A. Payne, N.D. Taylor, Vivienne Savage

I can't really review this book; I was the proofreader, so my opinion is biased. However, I will say that I absolutely loved this book. At one point, I had to take a break from proofreading since my eyes were tearing up so much that I couldn't see the words on the screen in front of me.


This book was originally published under the name Primal Legacy but has been re-written and edited/proofread.

Review: Tres Puercos and Other Dark Tales

Tres Puercos: And Other Dark Tales - Christopher J. Valin

Tres Puercos and Other Dark Tales is a collection of three short stories. The first and longest is "Tres Puercos," a twist on the story of the Three Little Pigs. But when the story is set in the middle of a modern gang, is the wolf really the bad one here?


"Tom Petty Sucks" is the second story, and is a fun little tale about a vampire...who just happens to be afraid of heights. Ending the collection is a story about a man who battles the nightmares of others. While "Wake" is probably the shortest story of the bunch, it's actually the darkest one.


While I expected a little more horror from the title of the book, the first two tales bring more humor into the darkness. This isn't a bad thing, however, and I found that I enjoyed all three of these stories.


Tres Puercos and Other Dark Tales is currently available for pre-order for $0.99 with a release date of December 15th, and can be purchased at


I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Rememorations

Rememorations - Paul B Kohler

I originally read this story as part of the Immortality Chronicles (one of the anthologies in the Future Chronicles) and was impressed... Paul B. Kohler's Rememorations was one of my favorites in the collection.

I actually had to pause reading and just sit and think about how ever person and every decision is tied together in my past, and what the loss of one would do to everything else in my life. While there are some memories I could do without, everything in my past made me the person I am today.

That is the decision that Nathan Duncan must make... What memory can he risk losing?

It's obvious that the author spent a lot of time thinking about how immortality would work in regards to memories and live experiences. This is a well-written short, and one I would highly recommend.


Review: The Price of Greatness

The Price of Greatness - Paul K. Swardstrom

Life is difficult. Often, it doesn't go your way. Success comes at a price, usually by taking the time to do something right, missing out on events around you.

The Price of Greatness by Paul Swardstrom is a tale of choices. It's a "deal with the devil" type story, reminding us that if it seems too easy, there may be a hidden cost we won't want to pay.

Short but well-written, this story gives us a glimpse into the mind of the author and his own motivations. Reading the "Note from the Author" at the end shows us just how personal this story is.

I received a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.


Review: Tales from the Canyons of the Damned No. 2

Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 2 (Volume 2) - Daniel Arthur Smith, Bob Williams

This collection brings us two shorts by Daniel Arthur Smith and one tale written by Bob Williams.

The first two stories - "Tesla" and "The Blue Orb" - are tied together, showing us how a failed experiment in 1904 leads to events that take place in New York in 2015. And as we learn, perhaps the experiment didn't fail after all...

Readers will be happy to learn that these two stories by Daniel Arthur Smith build upon the events we've already read about in TOWER as well as the first volume of TALES FROM THE CANYONS OF THE DAMNED, and give a better understanding of what happened on that horrid day.

The final story is "Smoke" by Bob Williams. This is a very short stand-alone piece that gives us an alternative destination when our travels are over. Even though this is short, it's a nice, complete read.


Review: Revolver

Revolver - Lucas Bale, Michael Patrick Hicks

It's rare that I read a book that is so realistic that it scares me. With our current political landscape, medical rights being removed from women, religion trumping democracy, and the current debates regarding gun control, this short story is becoming more and more relevant every day.

People will either love it or hate it, either seeing the realism of what our country is currently moving toward, or refusing to see the truth around them. Either way, this is a well-written story told by an author who has stripped the blinders off and has the courage to show a future that people won't want to see.

Like Cara, we have a choice in our future. I view this story as a wake-up call: if we ignore what is going on around us, we could someday find ourselves in Cara's shoes.


Review: The Galaxy Chronicles

The Galaxy Chronicles (The Future Chronicles) - Samuel Peralta, Nick Webb, Raymond L. Weil, Jasper T. Scott, Jennifer Foehner Wells, David Adams, G. S. Jennsen, Pippa DaCosta, Matthew Alan Thyer, Chris Reher, Felix R. Savage, Nicolas Wilson, Jeff Seymour

Humanity is always striving for something more… something beyond their grasp. One small step into the universe, a voyage to discover, a journey to unknown frontiers. The Galaxy Chronicles takes that desire and brings us new worlds, new visions to view through the eyes of twelve talented authors.

The collection starts out with “A Mercenary in Escrow” where we are introduced to a mercenary captain who does three years in prison in an effort to save his crew from the consequences of breaking a contract. But, as he soon learns, it’s the actions of his crew that will really determine his future. 5 Stars

“Excelsior” takes us into a Cold War between two factions that control the earth, and the political maneuverings that could destroy - or save - humanity. Could a new world be the answer to save them all? 4.5 Stars

Pippa DaCosta gives us her story “Falling,” introducing us to how Caleb Shepperd first met Fran. For fans of her Girl from Above series this will give you a peek into the past, and it’s a great introduction to the characters for those new to the series. 4 Stars

“Apogee” is a thrilling story of the start of a revolution, as a planet seeks to reclaim its freedom from the heavy rule of the Earth Alliance. But starting a war is never easy, and sometimes decisions have to be made that are difficult to live with. Could you do what needed to be done? 5 Stars

Giraffe is Felix R. Savage’s story “Keep Off the Grass” is an interesting individual, and this story - showing us a future where Japanese Catholics are living in space to save themselves from persecution - makes me want to read more. I’m very interested to see what this author can come up with next! 4 Stars

“Ser Pan Comido” leads us on a merry chase as three urchins scramble to free themselves, and a starship pilot, from a planet that seeks to rip away their futures. 4 Stars

“The Kasant Objective” is probably my favorite of the collection, with Chris Reher giving us a new twist on the Grey Alien mythos. While the story started out a little slow, it soon filled with surprises, and the ending made me go back and re-read the story, happy with the new perspective I had on this tale. 5 Stars

“Symbiont Seeking Symbiont” illustrates the danger found on unknown worlds, and the author does a great job at really making us wonder what will happen next. It’s Alice in Wonderland in Space, but with a potentially deadlier ending. 4 Stars

David Adams brings gives us a story that is at once futuristic but also reminds me of the struggle that our own Veterans go through, home again after war, often missing limbs and loved ones. “The Immortals: Kronis Valley” can be read as a stand-alone but is also part of a larger universe of work. 4.5 Stars

Every good collection about Galaxies and Space Exploration has to have an invasion story. “Earth Fall” brings us back home as we watch the final days of Earth’s civilization, as it is brought down by a technologically superior race. But is it really the end? 4.5 Stars

“The Stars that Bind” is a strange story that shows us multiple generations and their quest to save and protect the Empire from being lost in the expansion of the universe. But can this Binding actually be done? While this story is good, it felt a little disjointed and I would have liked to see the ending expanded upon a little more so the reader actually really understands what happened. 3.5 Stars

The last story is another favorite of mine, and it’s a great story to close out the collection. “Multiply” by Nicolas Wilson is the tale of two AIs, trapped together, forced to work beyond their programming to protect others. Reading this tale, I was left with the thought that I was watching a new civilization emerge to take its place in the galaxy. 5 Stars

As usual, Samuel Peralta has managed to put together an excellent collection of stories to make you wonder what else is out there, what is possible, and what our future may bring. 4 ½ Stars overall.

While I did receive a review copy of this book in exchange for a review, I enjoyed it enough that I also purchased a copy!


Review: A Whimper

A Whimper - Will Swardstrom

I have this ongoing debate with my husband on the future of humanity, with the advances in technology coming quicker each year. My personal opinion is that our own government regulations will cripple advancement, keeping us from our full possibilities.

After reading this story, I now think that a scarier future is one in which the government pushes technology along... With their own agenda, of course.

A chip in your brain. Easy access to the internet. Without having to do more than think about it, you're watching television, downloading apps, making phone calls, all within the confines of your skull. But then you get rickrolled... Harmless but annoying... and you later discover that it was all just a ploy to hack your temporal lobe. In the world that we live in, who's to stop a virus from being implemented from within an app? What antivirus program can you install in your brain? And what do you do when the safeguards are the things that end up destroying you?

I'm not saying that all this happens within this short story, but the author makes you think about the possibilities and the pitfalls. How much technology is too much, and who should control it?

5 stars for a well-written story that is too plausible to ignore.


Review: Venus Rising

Venus Rising - Christopher Holliday

Linda was an ordinary woman before she met Torres: middle-aged, overweight, and unremarkable. In a world of emerging biotechnology, she is transformed into a thing of beauty. But when politics threaten Torres' future, what will she do?

I really enjoyed this story. Though it was short, it really threw you into Linda's world and let you feel and experience everything in that moment. As scientific advances in our own lives bring us closer to the ability to alter who we are, this story is also a reminder of what can be gained... And lost. Where is our future heading, and will we someday find ourselves in Linda's shoes?


Review: Tails of the Apocalypse

Tails of the Apocalypse - Harlow C. Fallon, Todd Barselow, E.E. Giorgi, Adam Hall, Michael Bunker, Steven Savile, Hank Garner, Deirdre Gould, Chris Pourteau, Stefan Bolz, Brian David Bruns, Edward W. Robertson, Jennifer Ellis, Mary Buckham, Nick Cole, David Adams Richards

There are so many books and stories about an apocalypse - with every book having its own idea on what the apocalypse will be - but not many books mention our four-legged or winged friends. When you think about this, it's strange, since I know so many people who consider their pets to be family members, but it's almost as if the world has come to the conclusion that pets will all be lost, or forgotten, when the zombies arrive or the world ends.


Tails of the Apocalypse takes the opposite approach, giving us fourteen short stories that are either told from the point of view of the animals, or where our animal friends are a central part of the plot.


Overall, I had to give this collection 4 1/2 Stars. Many of the stories will haunt me past reading this, while others were still great but didn't have the same impact. When reading a collection, I usually like to say something about each short story, but it's more difficult when you have a collection with this tightly-woven of a theme, since in some ways every story is alike, while still managing to keep its individuality, so I'm just going to say that I liked all of these stories, loved some more than others, but that there wasn't a single story that I disliked. Whether told from the eyes of a human or of an animal, the authors are able to reach deep into your heart and make you feel exactly what their characters are experiencing.


Usually when we think "pets" we think of cats and dogs, but this collection also contains stories of wolves, parrots, bats, budgies, and others, along with feline and canine friends. And every stories contains some tale of the world's end, whether by zombies or volcanoes, war or disease.


If you enjoy apocalyptic tales, and are a lover of animals of any type, I think you'll enjoy this collection. In addition, this book is being sold for a good cause as well, with $1.00 from every copy sold going to Pets for Vets.


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Currently reading

Imager's Battalion: The Sixth Book of the Imager Portfolio by Modesitt, L. E.(October 29, 2013) Mass Market Paperback by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Solstice by Jane Redd
China: The Flense (Volume 1) by Saul Tanpepper
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Progress: 24%
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