Dustwalker by Tiffany Roberts – Review

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Review by Riley

About Dustwalker

A SYNTH SEARCHING FOR PURPOSE…

Walk. Scavenge. Destroy. Trade. A simple cycle that’s suited Ronin for one hundred and eighty-five years. With no clear grasp of his programming, the barren wasteland known as The Dust offers him purpose, a place where his armored undercasing, amped-up processors, and advanced optics can be put to use. The ramshackle towns on the edges of the waste serve merely as resupply stations between increasingly long treks. But one night — one human woman — makes him question everything.

A WOMAN WHO BRINGS HIM TO LIFE…

Lara Brooks struggles to survive under the strict rules imposed by the bots in Cheyenne. With her sister missing, she’s been on her own for weeks, and fears the worst. Her only hope comes from Ronin, a bot she catches spying on her. He promises to provide for Lara and search for her sister. All she has to do is dance. It should be easy; she’s done it before. But the longer she spends with Ronin, the harder it is to see him as just another bot.

A SANCTUARY HIDING DARK SECRETS…

In a city where humans are relegated to live in squalor, Ronin discovers a threat greater than any in the Dust — Warlord, Cheyenne’s tyrannical leader. When Ronin ignores the rules, he unwittingly puts Lara in danger. Warlord is as intolerant of disrespect as he is of mankind.


Warning: This book contains foul language, explicit sexual content, and violence and is intended for mature readers only.

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Review of Dustwalker

I’ll start this review by saying that Dustwalker is a new book for my favorites shelf! But, it did not start out that way.

I immediately connected with the two main characters. Ronin, or Dustwalker, is the main storyteller in the story. He has been re-activated for 185 years and remembers every minute of every day since then. He maintains his synthetic body by scavenging the post-apocalyptic, desert-like countryside for valuable materials. He is a sentient ‘bot’, modeled on humans. That he appears and acts human is evident from the beginning.

Lara Brooks is a human that has lost her best friend, Tabitha. She was the only family Lara had and now Tabitha is missing and Lara is alone. Lara also survives by scavenging, but she needs to trade for food.

These two characters both appeal to my sympathy as intelligent beings stuck in a horrible setting. Ronin and Lara are both introspective, civilized and, well, interesting. They drew me into the story.

But the first part of the story seemed lacking in plot development. This is why Dustwalker didn’t start out as a favorite. Other than the development of the relationship between Ronin and Lara, I could not see where the story was headed. Ronin often mused about not remembering his purpose, so that was my only hint about a possible direction – maybe Ronin would remember his purpose.

Ronin and Lara live in Cheyenne, Wyoming under the maniacal leadership of Warlord, a bot who has no inclination to look human. Bots live inside the wall with all the conveniences modern, post-apocalyptic technology can provide. Humans live outside the wall, in hovels, tents, trailers, any bit of shelter they can find. Fear and absolute tyranny mark the rule of Warlord. No one crosses Warlord. Warlord versus all the good people was another possible plot direction, but there were no early hints that was the direction of the story.

So why did Dustwalker become a favorite? Three reasons:

Reason number 1: I like character-driven novels and this book fits the bill. Ronin struggles to remember why he was created and re-activated. Ideas hover at the edge of his thought but he never really remembers. Lara is, at first a distraction, and later an obsession. Why does she intrigue him so? Why does Lara stay with Ronin when bots have caused nothing but pain in her life? The focus is so much on these characters that anything else just pulled me a long for the ride.

Reason number 2: I love these characters. Living in a world that is cruel and unmerciful, Lara and Ronin are able to find the individual moments that make the rest unimportant. Whether is is Lara’s dancing or Ronin’s protection of Lara or a shirt sewn for Ronin or a ring, lost and then found again. Really, it’s not all that different from everyday life. Like Ronin and Lara, we pick out the moments of happiness to remember our life is worth living.

Reason number 3: They way the plot ‘appeared’ to me. Yes, there is a plot, well a couple of different plot lines. One is the hard plot, good against evil, and one is softer, a bit more introspective. Both are awesome. Like I said, I focused so much on the characters that when things began to move, I was just drawn along right up until the great movie-worthy showdown at the OK Corral. I really, really like the way this worked for me. Looking back, all the clues were there. So when you read Dustwalker, don’t skip anything.

So here’s a question:  Can sentient bots and humans get along? Typical futuristic literature would tell you – no. In Dustwalker, opinions range from the optimistic view of the creators of the synthetics to the militaristic ‘NO’ of Warlord. Lara is human and Ronin is synthetic. They seem to get along, but they also have their struggles. The question won’t be answered until very near the end, so you will have plenty of time to form your own opinion.

Dustwalker is a standalone story (no waiting for a sequel.) It is gritty, emotional, and it is absolutely epic!

I received a copy of Dustwalker from the author so that I could bring you this honest review.

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What Are You Reading This Weekend?

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Fall Folklore by Peter Ahern

Lets see.  Pumpkins? Check.  Colorful leaves? Check.  Hay bale, apples, hot toddy?  Check, check, check.  And my favorite color?  Check!  It’s fall!

Art available at Society6.

Last month I was sick with non-life threatening illnesses all month long.  Hence my lack of ‘What Are You Reading This Weekend’ posts.  I wasn’t reading.  But I am back, not only with the usual Friday post, but also with a review of Tiffany Roberts’ Dustalker in a separate post today.  I hope you will check it out.

I am pretty much back to normal and I have dived into Kevin Hearne’s latest book, A Plague of Giants.  If you are a fan of his Iron Druid series, you should know, the new fantasy is a completely different tale.  The only thing familiar is Hearne’s masterful storytelling voice.

On the audiobook side, I’ve returned to The Chronicles of St. Mary’sA Symphony of Echoes by Jodi Taylor is the second book in the series of time travel adventures.  There is a lot of tea in these stories.  That is only one reason why I like them.

What are you reading this weekend?

Long Shadows (The Lycanthropy Files, #2) by Cecilia Dominic – Review

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Review by Riley

About Long Shadows

This time, being true to myself could be a deadly mistake.

I like to solve problems. The hard kind. A social worker by day, P.I. in my “spare time,” I’ve even figured out how to handle my little “werewolf problem.” After a dose of wolfsbane, my physical body stays safe in bed while my wolf goes spirit walking. If only she didn’t have a mind of her own…

After I overhear my sleazy boss plotting to turn my office into a trap, my instincts tell me to run. But not only do my problems stick like a bur in my fur, I find a whole new set.

Deep in the Appalachians, I learn a family secret that means I’m unique, even among werewolves, and I’m stuck on the dangerous border of a century-long war. Now I’m pursued by a rogue sorcerer with poisonous intentions, other wizards who’d like to throw me in a gilded prison, and a band of ghostly wolves thirsting for my blood.

Worse, there’s only one man who can protect me, and even he demands a price: my heart. Even though his own may be forever beyond my reach.

Warning: If you’re a carbophobe, detailed descriptions of Italian delicacies may wreck your will power. Also contains sexy situations, adult language, and brimming glasses of wine.

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Review of Long Shadows

Lonna Marconi was the friend I liked until she stormed out on her friend in the book 1. To be fair, she had gone through a pretty traumatic experience and her friend, Joanie who was the book one heroine, was having her own crisis, so communication between them was somewhat problematic.

Lonna is back and front and center in Long Shadows. Lonna is a social worker with a private investigators license. In this book, Lonna will be using her investigative abilities once again. This time, she is the target. Many times over. The first attack while she is in her wolf form, ends up with Lonna waking up with no sign of her inner wolf. This is devastating and leaves her vulnerable. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed wolf-Lonna until she disappeared from the story.

Luckily, Maximilian Fortuna (quite the name!) shows up. Max is a wizard. And technically, he is not supposed to help Lonna, only observe, but Max will find loopholes in order to worm his way into Lonna’s life in one way or another. It’s not just professional interest. There is definitely a spark between these two. The pair will flip/flop between flirting and keeping distance for a significant part of the story, but you know where it is headed, don’t you?

Why is Max supposed to observe Lonna? Well, there a many cryptic comments about Lonna being special. She thinks it is because she was turned to wolf by magic, not the virus that everyone else got. Beyond that, Lonna has no idea what those comments are about. There will be lot of information withholding from Lonna with comments like: “It’s too much to go into here, and we have to keep moving.” and “The explanation is too long to go into now.”. These comments will lead to Lonna making threats and Max responding with comments like: “Are all our conversations going to end up with you threatening me for answers? At least it’s not evisceration this time.”

If I was Lonna, I’d be frustrated too. As the reader, I was anxious to find out what all the secrets were. And there are quite a few. One that even involves Giancarlo, the man she was dating before she met Max. By the way, there is now a pattern in this series with the heroine having more than one love interest.

Max is kind of wishy-washy. He keeps withholding info from Lonna – saying he is not allowed to tell. Although, at the same time, he has already defied orders by making contact with Lonna. He needs to pick a team. And he will but I think it takes him too long since he waits until he is in as much trouble as Lonna. Am I being too harsh on Max? Maybe.

Lonna’s Aunt Alicia and her friend Gladis Ann are keys to Lonna’s past. But Aunt Alicia is near death when she first appears in the story and dies soon after, leaving Lonna frustrated and without answers. But Gladis Ann left her with a cryptic message which the private investigator in her can use to dig for answers. I liked it when Lonna got down to sleuthing – and as a result often got into trouble.

Despite all the extreme events and changes in her life, Lonna remains true to herself, right down to her cussing in dreams. I really like Lonna. She is a very approachable character, even as a wolf. Not that I am a cusser. But I do like her taste in cars. Lonna’s dream car is Maddie, a Mini Cooper convertible

If you caught Cecilia Dominic’s guest post back on September 1st explaining the metaphysical aspects of lycanthropy, you will appreciate that her research really comes through in Long Shadows.

Long Shadows is a great sequel to The Mountains’ Shadow. While it is a whole new story (and can be read as standalone), Long Shadows continues to develop and expand on the lycanthropy theme. The condition that is lycanthropy started as a complete mystery in book 1 and then expanded on its origin, science and philosophy. Long Shadows continues to add further historical and fictional details about lycanthropy and combines it with generous doses of mystery, suspense and romance. If you are looking for a unique take on werewolves, check out this series.

I received a copy of Long Shadows from the Ms. Dominic so that I could bring you this honest review.

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The Mountain’s Shadow and A Million Shadows are both only 99 cents right now.  Purchase these or any books in The Lycanthropy Files series: