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Review: State of War by Iain Kelly

About the Book

The State is at war at home and abroad. While the global First Strike War continues, a civil war threatens to bring down the ruling Central Alliance Party.

Daniel Samson – Citizen, Traitor, Survivor.
Gabriella Marino – Soldier, Assassin, Fighter.

Caught between the State Forces and the rebels, hunted by both sides, they must choose between their own survival and protecting the city and the citizens trapped within the war zone.

Are they willing to sacrifice their own chance of happiness to save a city from destruction?

The thrilling conclusion to The State Trilogy sees Danny and Gabriella join forces against their enemies in a fight that will determine the fate of the State, and the lives of all those who live there.

My Thoughts:

What a terrific end to this dramatic futuristic trilogy! More action, more emotional stakes and this time the wrong move will not only end their lives but take a city with them.

Danny is fighting for his city and his heart, he is not a soldier but he accepts the burden of a fight because it is what’s right. Gabriella is fighting to bring down the state and the independents. She IS the soldier but she fights because it is who she is. The State wants rebel blood and they have no fear of sacrificing the innocent to do it. The independents are the same… they want to bring down the State and don’t care who gets in their way. The only ones standing between The State and the Independents are Danny, Gabriella and a their tiny force determined “regular folk.”

This is a terrific part three to this exciting trilogy. Building upon the worldbuilding of the previous books, State of War takes us beyond the city into a world of rebellious acts designed to hurt the enemy.

The truth has come out about the State’s horrendous actions in the past and war has broken out. The civilians stuck in the city are caught in the middle of this war and one man… a broken and lost man… might end up the as the final bullet that brings the State to its knees.

Full of action, intrigue and strong emotions this is an enjoyable read. There is sacrifice, noble causes and betrayal in many forms and I totally recommend it!

You can read my reviews of Book One and Book Two below

Book One – A Justified State

Book Two – State of Denial

Book Review — “White Fire: A Toni Delle Adventure,” by Laurie Bell

How fabulous is this?

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As the lights of the metropolis brightened, shadows crept into alleyways and emerged from dark corners, ready to conduct activities that should never see the light of day. In the heart of this darkness, evil held its breath.
–Laurie Bell. White Fire (A Toni Delle Adventure) . Laurie Bell. Kindle Edition.

 White Fire: A Toni Delle Adventure, by Laurie Bell

What’s not to like about Special Secret Agent Toni Delle, who has see-through skin, heightened senses, courage and grit seasoned with experience; AND who has her own C-bot (Canine Robot, Mate) and a Computer Intelligence Interface (CII) named Zach, who has a knack for initiative and a sassy cuteness that’s hard to resist. She’s also an electronics expert who loves using and tweaking high-tech gadgets.

Agent Delle’s interplanetary travels on her trusty lightship Blackflame, while she’s outsmarting slick smugglers and getting into multiple hand-to-hand combats and other dangerous situations, keeps…

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The Blurb: Sure, Agent Toni Delle has trust issues. Mate, her canine robot partner and Zach, her attitude-enabled shipboard Computer Intelligence Interface constantly tell her that – but as she told them, that was because of The Smuggler. She would have refused her new mission altogether if it wasn’t for the insane amount of money… […]


How wonderful is this review! Thanks Iain!

Pondering (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Na’ama Yehuda

Green turns to orange turns to red. Leaves drop and die forming a mire of muck on the ground that will rot and dissolve into a layer of earth where new forms will grow.

Sitting here listening to the crackle of fallen leaves I wonder at the cycle of life and death and rebirth. The air is crisp and grey. My nose drips, cheeks red from the cold. Hands mushed into my jacket to keep warm. I stand and walk, crunching over death. What else lies beneath my feet I wonder? What has been here before?

What will come after?

This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

You can read more of the FF prompt responses here

Word Count: 100

© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

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Wow… what’s it? (Friday Fictioneers)


“What’s it?”

“What? The eggs? They’re eggs.”

“What’s it?”

“Um. Food. We eat em. Oh, and they make baby chickens.”


“Sort of.”

Jonny rubbed his eyes. Babysitting this alien was hard. It asked questions about everything. And ran everywhere, pointing at everything and wanting to know how everything worked.

When Jonny found the spaceship, he’d thought Cool, aliens are real. When the baby appeared – all squishy head and waving live hair he’d thought, awesome a new friend.

Now he just sighed and chased after it as it took off again. It was gonna get caught.

“Come here, you. Stop.”

This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

You can read more of the FF response pieces here

Word count: 100

© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

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What do you see? (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Staring out on the world through grimy windows, it felt like a message or perhaps a scene setting moment from a movie. Nope. Just an ordinary day.

Squinting through the grit covered glass I change my mind on that. “What the…?” At the bottom of the garden was…

“Is that a gate?”

No one answered. No one ever answered. I lived alone. Didn’t stop me talking to myself when the occasion called for it. “What’s a gate doing in the bottom of my garden?”

I grabbed my phone and a bag of chips. Munching loudly, I wandered down to investigate.

This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

You can read more FF prompt responses here

Word count: 100

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© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review – Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

About the book:

It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she found friendship in the unlikeliest of places.

And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.

But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.

After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

My thoughts:

This is book two and Binti is on her way home. She has spent the last year at Oomza Uni (on another planet) learning, growing her skills and dealing with the strange changes that have happened inside her body. She is a hero and a peace keeper, and has now decided to travel home to take part in the pilgrimage. Going home forces her to face her fears head on. Has she truly changed? Will her family accept her?

Going home means confronting where she came from and reconciling who she is now with who everyone wants her to be. Who does SHE want to be? She must understand her past to understand her future. Who is she really?

What she learns could change everything.

Brilliantly written, this series has captivated me. The sci fi elements are spectacular, as are the desert scenes. The edan Binti carries, the meduse DNA changes that have altered Binti’s body from within, the history of her family line, her current day family relationships, expectations and attitudes… There are so many elements layered into this story and are all deftly written and emotionally dramatic. The Sci fi elements are interwoven with culture, history and family in a rich tapestry of connection, friendship and discovery. Binti is on a journey to discover her true self and what she learns will change her once more. I can’t wait to start book three.

Review: Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal by Anna Whateley

About the Book:

Peta Lyre is far from typical. The world she lives in isn’t designed for the way her mind works, but when she follows her therapist’s rules for ‘normal’ behaviour, she can almost fit in without attracting attention.

When a new girl, Sam, starts at school, Peta’s carefully structured routines start to crack. But on the school ski trip, with romance blooming and a newfound confidence, she starts to wonder if maybe she can have a normal life after all.

When things fall apart, Peta must decide whether all the old rules still matter. Does she want a life less ordinary, or should she keep her rating normal?

A moving and joyful own voices debut.

My Thoughts:

Oh, how I love Peta. She has a lot of alphabet letters. ASD, ADHD, SPD. And she follows a lot of rules, having been told all her life that to “fit in” is to display “normal” characteristics. She works hard not to break the rules and rates her own days as to how “normal” she is behaving and feeling. It is beautifully written, clear and honest and absolutely heartbreakingly good.

Peta has a glorious friend in Jeb who accepts her and loves her and is there for her and Peta accepts and loves and is there for him too. I adore their friendship and in how they support each other. But this book is also a love story. Sam is Peta’s new friend and love interest. And in matters of the heart, miscommunication, expectations and assumptions can derail everything so fast. This book explores the hurt and pain of true love come undone.

A story of romance and friendship and expectations. It is also a story of mistakes and miscommunication.

This is a book about Peta’s discovery of herself. And of the pain caused by the rules she has been taught to make other people more comfortable.

A story of a neurodivergence and of finding your place in a world that doesn’t like difference. I couldn’t put this book down once I started reading it. It is well written, emotional and glorious. A beautiful book.

Raise the mainsail, ready the canons (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Ronda Del Boccio

The view was endless. Timeless. Floating here, over the planet, watching the humans scurry around like the sorts of creatures one might stomp beneath one’s hoof-boots. My ship is one of the new style. Silent as the wind and slow, drifting apparently aimlessly across the sky. Only moments before we’d been drifting through the stars, using the solar winds to direct our path. But now, here we are, on a planet of monsters hellbent on destroying the greenery of their world. Greenery me and my brethren can graze on forever.

“Fire the engines, prepare the weapons. We attack at sunset.”

This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

You can read more of the prompt responses here

Word Count: 100

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© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

About the book:

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts his younger sister, Nadia, as payment to enter the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a heart-pounding course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

My thoughts:

I screamed when I got to the end and realised it was the end. I just wanted to keep reading. I’m so in love with this book. A glorious fantasy. I completely binged on this book and am dying for Book Two.

A story of duology. A romance. A battle of wits and wills and personal demons. Of magic and myths made real. A terrific read.

Malik and Karina couldn’t be more opposite. One, a princess. One, a refuge. And yet both are on a similar journey to understanding their place in the world and the truth about their own personal power. And both are completely at odds with each other. Those desires act like two magnets. Pulling them together and pushing them apart at the same time. The conflict between their opposite needs sets up a clash of epic proportions. Malik who must save his sister and Karina who wants her mother back. Every step they take to achieve their desire puts them into further conflict with each other. A tragic love story. For each to win, the other must lose.

The story is told from both Malik and Karina’s points of view and thus we are fully enveloped in their individual stories, and in their triumphs and tragedies. Each personality is gloriously alive and gripping in intensity, driving the plot forward with every ill-intentioned or forced choice. And with every choice, their path changes for better or worse leading them inexorably toward each other.

The worldbuilding is fantastic. A fantasy for the ages, beautifully visual and brimming with color. The magic is believable; dangerous and powerful. The worldbuilding and magic together weave a fantasy that is impossible to escape from. And you don’t want to. As a reader I wanted more.

I cannot wait for the next book!

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