Book Review #4: Collider by Richard Warwick

Hey, guys. It’s been a crazy week for me. But I’m back with another review!

This week’s review is of “Collider” by Richard Warwick. It’s another apocalyptic science-fiction for adults! I’m really loving these SF books, y’all. 

Dr. Mathers and Dr. Alder plan on changing the world— but not on this large of a scale. Their experiments on particle acceleration are very large-scale, but they’ve prepared for everything, even nuclear accidents. When an unexpected turn of events results in a tear in time itself, chaos ensues. 

People from the past start popping up in modern day countries. Soldiers from World War 2, bombers from World War 1, Civil War Confederates… Followed by a slew of natural disasters— the Great Fire of London, victims of Vlad the Impaler, volcanic eruptions, cholera outbreaks, the return of the bubonic plague… 

The world is doomed, unless two doctors can fix a mistake bigger than they understand. 

Picture taken from Amazon.

Style:

Warwick’s style of writing can be described in two words— informational and violent. 

I was shocked at the detail of some of the violent events happening in the story. That’s not a bad thing! You want readers to cringe at the detail. That’s a fantastic sign. There were times when I was literally turning away from my phone to take a minute. 

While it’s very detailed, it’s also informative. The book took me about a week to read, and it demanded a lot of my attention. Again, I don’t mind. This was an information heavy book, and I still loved it. That’s saying something. 

Length:

“Collider” was an average-length SF book. Once I was able to devote enough time to sit down and give this book the attention that it needed, it took no time at all. The action and intrigue make it seem shorter than it was. 

Character Development:

There are a lot of characters in “Collider.” Warwick does this thing where he follows multiple POVs through the events, using what set of eyes would be beneficial for the reader to better understand the plot. You jump from the president to the scientists to the German soldiers to a random event happening in time. It works perfectly for this kind of story. 

Due to this format, though, there’s not a lot of character growth. I didn’t mind this. Normally, I would, but there’s so much going on as far as plot that I didn’t care. It’s a plot-driven book!

Plot:

WHEW THE PLOT

I love this premise! A tear in time and history repeating itself seemingly randomly… I loved it. I’m a selective-history nerd. Post-WW2 really makes me giddy. So, following the two German soldiers made me all kinds of happy. I was trying to figure out what event would be next. American revolution? Yep! Civil War? YEP! I didn’t expect the Impaler stuff, though. That caught me off guard. 

The plot flowed wonderfully from beginning to end. There wasn’t a single boring chapter throughout the entire thing. 

And that ending!! *swoons* I won’t say another word, but… MAN. I knew it was coming, and I hoped it wouldn’t but OH MAN.

11/10 I would definitely recommend.  You can purchase here!

Caged Playlist

Hey, everyone! I thought for this week’s post, I’d share some of the songs that inspired and fueled Caged. I’ll type a little bit about every song to give you some background info!

  1. The Beginning by Factor Eight: I absolutely love this song. All of Factor Eight’s songs are instrumental and series soundtrack fuel. I listened to this one on repeat!
  1. Human by Christina Perri: This one’s sort of obvious. I mean, the entire story is about Eden’s limitations as a human and fighting to keep that humanity. She’s only human, ya know?
  2. Human by Rag’n’Bone Man: Another sort of obvious one. “I’m only human after all. Don’t put your blame on me.” I think this is Eden talking to herself. She does a lot of self-blame and deals with a lot of regret.
  3. Liberty by Factor Eight: I can’t speak enough for this band/group. There’s a part of this song, though, that quotes Charlie Chaplin’s speech from the Great Dictator.

    “Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….”

I mean, if that doesn’t sound like Caged, then you obviously haven’t even read it.

5. To Be Human by Sia: I heard this song while watching Wonder Woman, and Oh My Goodness. “To be human is to love, even when it gets too much.” I mean, Eden’s downfall is her unending love!! Come on!

6. Helium by Sia: Um… I really like Sia’s voice. I think I went down a hole when I was song-hunting. This one’s another love song, but its all about vulnerability and wishing you didn’t need help but REALLY NEEDING IT ANYWAY. “Yeah, I wanted to play tough, thought I could do all this on my own but even Superwoman sometimes needed Superman’s soul.” Eden’s a beast, but she really needed a helping hand.

7. Rise by Katy Perry: Whoo, does this song give me vibes. I mean, it’s literally all about not giving up and rising when everyone thinks you’re going to fail. Eden much? “This is no mistake, no accident / When you think the final nail is in, think again / Don’t be surprised, I will still rise.” Gives me the heeby-jeebies.

8. Rainbow Connection by Trespassers William: I’m pretty sure this song is originally from the Muppets or something like that, but I like this indie version a lot better. In Caged, Eden tells Knox about how her mother used to sing the same lullaby every night. This is the lullaby. It makes me weepy.

9. Lightning by Little Mix: I mean, this is just a power anthem. LOL

10. The Coldest Winter by Pentatonix: I’m a Pentaholic as is, but this song just EXUDES the spooky, sad vibes of Caged.

11. Run by Awolnation: Who doesn’t like this song? I listened to it on repeat when I was writing the fight scenes. LOL Also, the opening line is “I am a human being, capable of doing terrible things.”

12. Out Loud by Gabbie Hanna: I thought about taking this out, ’cause of all the Gabbie hate going around, but I can’t deny how much I love this song. It’s basically about not being able to let go. This will be much more applicable for the sequel, but… I love it.

13. Rise Up by Andra Day: This power anthem speaks for itself. If you don’t sing along to this song, something’s wrong with you. I scream-sing this song. You have to.

14. Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken by Pink!: “There’s not enough rope to tie me down. There’s not enough tape to shut this mouth. The stones you throw can make me bleed, but I won’t stop until we’re free. Wild hearts can’t be broken.” It’s like Eden’s personal motto, y’all.

15. Dark On Me by Starset: All of Starset’s songs feel like I’m watching an epic space sci-fi and make me feel totally immersed. This one specifically fit my vibe, though. It’s about loneliness, being abandoned, feeling lost… “You’re the cause, the antidote, the sinking ship that I could not let go, who led my way and disappeared. How could you just walk away and leave me here?” Knox and Eden vibes, amiright?

The entire playlist can be found here for your listening pleasure! I hope it inspires you as it has me.

Book Review #3: Reliance by Paul McMurrough

Hey, guys! It’s time for another book review. I just finished this book today, so it’s fresh on my mind. 

This week’s book is Reliance by Paul McMurrough. It is a apocalyptic science fiction for adults— my FAVORITE genre. 

A crisis looms on the horizon. Professor Martin Monroe has predicted that a massive solar flare is on a direct path for Earth. The result will be a global power outage. 

Cell towers, power grids, water systems, prisons— nothing will be left untouched. 

How will the world handle this disaster? 

Cover taken from Amazon.

Style: First of all, McMurrough has a wonderful voice. It’s easy-to-read but really dives into the emotion of each character. He easily balances four points of view seamlessly, something that I definitely can’t do. He’s just descriptive enough to paint a clear picture, but he doesn’t linger too long. 

Length: “Reliance” is just about as long as my own book. It took me about four days to finish, but that’s only because I had other things to do. I bet if I’d sat down to read non-stop I would had finished earlier. The story was absolutely intriguing from start to finish, but we will get to that later. 

Character Development: There’s four different characters in this book: Martin Monroe, Lisa Keenan, Simon Wilson, and Derek Henderson. Let’s touch base on each of those for a second. 

Martin is the professor who predicts the crisis. Years before our story takes place, Martin made a bad call on the Haley Bopp comet and has since been branded as a bit of a wackjob. Yet, he refuses to let people ignore him this time. The author paints Martin as a anxious, jittery, somewhat depressed man who would do whatever it takes to look out for the people around him. 

Lisa works on an emergency response team for the government. Her job is simple: put together a statement to the public and help coordinate relief efforts if needed. That gets made a lot more complicated when the power goes out and no one has a working phone. She joins forces with Martin to try and get the news out to the locals, if they can get anyone to believe them in the first place. The author paints Lisa as a kind, determined girl who cares strongly about her job and the people she serves. I was genuinely concerned about Lisa towards the end of the book! No spoilers this time, but I thought she was a goner

Simon is Martin’s closest— and only, really— friend. Having lost his wife a few years back, Simon is a bit of a loner. But, when push comes to shove, Simon will stand up for Martin and his neighbors. I really liked this character. He was helpful but showed a lot of vulnerability when it came to the things he witnessed. 

Last but not least is Derek. As a prison guard, Derek’s job was never easy. The power outage only makes it worse, though. Staff stop coming into work; supplies start running low. Derek’s forced to make one of the hardest decisions of his life. Derek was my FAVORITE character! His story pulled me in. I felt for him, rooted for him, and wanted to cry for him. 

Plot: Now, I know I ranted on and on about the characters, but truly, the best part of this book was the plot. As it follows the four characters, there never was a slow part. Sometimes, I find myself skipping around books that are a bit slower, but I promise you, I read every word of this book. From the moment Simon got the phone call from Martin about the solar flare all the way to the final farewell, I was hooked. 

Each character’s story adds something to the plot. I honestly would have never thought about how a response team would handle a near-apocalypse. Yet, with Lisa, I get to see that. Simon shows us the civilian point of view, including all the looting and stealing and murdering. With Derek, we get to see a man struggle to take care of his family and worry about the people he’s tasked with. 

This story is so immersive. I swear. I felt like I was there the entire time. It almost makes me want to start being a prepper. I’m going to start buying non-electric supplies and stocking up on batteries. First, I need to actually find a flashlight that isn’t my phone. 

The Big Picture here, I believe, is on the fact that we rely so much on electricity. We’d be doomed without it, and this book shows that clearly. It’s scary. 

Pick up this book. You WILL NOT regret it. 

This is the link here to buy it. 

Was It Enough?

I’m typing this from my phone, still sitting at my desk, trying to breathe through everything that happened this morning. Bear with me; I’m still sort of a mess.

I’m a teacher. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. Well, not always. There was a point when I thought about being a veterinarian. Doesn’t every kid, though?

Anyhow, I’m a teacher. I went through five years of college, class after class on education theory and children’s psychology, and hours of in-class experience. I made a million lesson plans, typed what felt like a hundred papers, and gave dozens of presentations. I mean, I graduated with a 3.9, y’all. I was a good student!

But there are things college doesn’t prepare you for.

An unannounced active shooter drill is one of those things.

This morning, my students and I were having a writing lesson on the concept of Showing (Not Telling) Emotion. I had just finished my mini-lecture and had set a timer for their independent work. Eight minutes– It was only two problems. No sooner had I walked away than our secretary came over the intercom and said those two words that no teacher ever wants to be surprised with.

Code. Lockdown.

Our procedure is the same. We’ve practiced it once a month, every month since I started teaching four years ago. The students quickly and quietly go sit in the floor behind my big metal desk. Luckily, they all fit behind it, maybe a little cramped. I check the two doors, lock them if necessary, turn off the lights, and then go back into the corner to stand by them.

You see, I can’t sit with them. Even though I really want to. Even though I’ve got two girls in tears and the boys asking what’s going on. Even though I myself don’t know what’s happening because no one told me about a drill. I can’t sit.

Why not?

Well, because I’m their defense. If that door flies open, if someone comes barging in, I’m supposed to protect them first. It almost makes me sick to think about again now. But that’s what’s going through my head as I slip my noisy lanyard off my head and my flip-flops off my feet (the less noise I make as I walk, the better). Am I terrified to throw myself at an intruder? Yes. Would I do it for them? Yes. Because these seventeen kids are my life.

Was that enough, though?

For a long time, we are all quiet, waiting to hear what’s happening. I don’t have answers for them. Can I text another teacher? Or my principal? My husband? About ten minutes pass, and I finally text someone.

Someone’s on the run from the cops in the area. This isn’t a drill.

Great.

Now I have a reason to be scared.

At first, I don’t tell the kids. There’s no reason to let them worry. I start texting everyone I can that might be able to give me some peace of mind. My teacher-friend down the hall. A parent of one of my kids (who is also a teacher in the building). My partner-teacher. My husband.

We sit in the floor for an entire hour. Eventually, I tell the kids what I know; maybe it will give them some reassurance. No, there’s not someone in the building. Yes, you’re safe. I’m right here. I won’t let anything happen.

Forget Covid. Forget six feet apart. Forget social distancing. Today, they needed hugs and back rubs and love. I gave them everything I had, because they’re my responsibility. There’s no time to worry when you’re in charge of them. No time to freak out about the sheriff’s officers banging on your outside door.

Was that enough, though?

Today, my worst nightmare came true. I saw my children scared of something we all hoped to never experience. I won’t preach about politics and gun laws. Shamefully, I don’t keep track of all that. Would things have gone differently if I was allowed to have a weapon in my classroom? Maybe; I really don’t know.

I’m so glad it wasn’t worse, truly. But what kind of world do we live in where I have to be afraid to teach? What went wrong?

To the parents of my kids: I would have done anything for them– even in the worse-case scenario. I loved them like they were my own today. I hope it was enough.

To my students: I’m so sorry that you had to sit through that. I hope being close to your friends made you feel somewhat better. I hope my hugs helped. I hope it was enough.

Today could have been really bad. Luckily, it wasn’t.

Pray for teachers and students everyday. We really need it.