A Free Dreamer Review: Barricade by Lindsey Black

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Barricade is all that separates the Northern Russian Empire from what remains of the world’s plague-decimated population. Snaking 8921 kilometres across Eurasia, the Barricade is crafted from the New World’s nanotechnologies. Breathing, thinking, constantly regenerating, it sustains those charged with defending its districts from those desperate to find refuge in the north.

Atop the battlements of District 666, Sasha Stepanova and his team ruthlessly suppress heavy insurgencies, but at a cost. With the loss of one of his men, Sasha feels isolated and adrift. The bitter snows are a harbinger of winter’s early arrival and the town on his southern perimeter is swelling with foreboding shadows.

Transferred from a black operations testing facility, Jett Ioane is not the replacement Sasha is expecting. He’s short, sheltered and untested in battle—a poor replacement for the friend Sasha has lost. But Sasha finds him impossibly alluring. A lifetime of alienation and scrutiny has hardened Jett to the friendship and camaraderie necessary for survival. Struggling to find his feet while Sasha sweeps them out from under him, Jett hesitates to entrust the team with his truth.

Will Jett’s secrets be the key to their salvation, or annihilation?

It’s no big secret that I love Science Fiction and Post Apocalyptic books. But I usually also avoid books that are set somewhere really cold. However, the blurb for “Barricade” just sounded too good to ignore. And I’m glad I decided to read this unusual book.

I’ve read countless books that are set in a post apocalyptic world and almost all of them are set in the United States or whatever’s left of them. It seems you need to live in North America to have any chance at surviving the apocalypse. So “Barricade” was a very interesting change of the usual setting. This time, the Russians are the survivors. They built this ginarmous wall, called the Barricade, to keep out all those people who suffer from the plague. I really enjoyed the setting, even though it’s not what I usually prefer.  I could easily imagine the cold and wet and general nastiness of it. It was very well written and diverse, even though we don’t see much of the world other than the Barricade.

I really liked both Sasha and Jett. I liked their relationship and how they behaved around each other. Every character has their own, distinctive voice, even the minor characters. I loved the whole team of District 666 and their interactions. It was also really interesting to see how each tower’s team worked and how different they all were, even though they all lived basically the same life.

The romance and non-romance parts of the plot very well balanced. The love story worked really well with the rest of the plot.

There were quite a few surprises and unexpected plot twists that made it nearly impossible for me to put the book down. I finished it within a couple of days. I would’ve finished it in a single sitting, if not for work interfering. It was all so fascinating and addicting and I really loved the whole story.

As much as I enjoyed the story itself, I was really annoyed with the editing. There were so many spelling mistakes and it was really distracting. I absolutely hate sloppy editing and there just is no excuse for it. If an author expects me to pay money for their book, then I expect them to the very best to make it perfect. I can forgive the occasional typo, but I have a very low tolerance for bad spelling. The author kept switching between “Sasha” and “Sacha”. Spelling your protagonist’s name wrong is a huge no go and it made me really mad. If not for the sloppy editing, I would’ve happily given this book 4.5 stars. But this really took away from my reading experience.

The ending was a bit sudden and kind of left me with the hope for a sequel.

If you’re into post-apocalyptic stories with some romance to spice things up, I think you will enjoy this book. As long as you don’t let yourself get distracted by the sloppy editing.

Cover art by Natasha Snow: The cover looks a little bit generic. I don’t think it really fits the story. The naked guy makes you expect a way steamier story, with a lot less plot. It just doesn’t do this book justice.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book details: ebook, 342 pages

Published December 28th 2017 by Netherwood Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Author Spotlight: Lindsey Black

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Author Spotlight:

Lindsey Black

I found author Lindsey Black through her debut novel Fishy Riot, published at Dreamspinner Press.  I laughed, sniffled, and fell totally in love with the Jameson clan and this author’s writing.  And then as it happens..nothing …until I heard from the Australian publishing house Hot Tree Publishing and found that Lindsey Black had written a sequel.

Rhino Ash, the second story in Lindsey Black’s Saturday Barbie series, just deepened my love for this series and author.  It also made me want to know more about her, and the inspiration behind this family and series.  Reading her answers to my questions has just made me appreciate the characters and storylines even more.  She has a gift in the way she mixes humor and pathos, romance with the grittiness of a policeman’s or fireman’s reality, and then finally brings it all together with the craziness and warmth of a large family’s love and support.  How I adore this series and it’s only at two books at the moment.  That I feel that way is due to the talent of this amazing writer.

If you  haven’t found this series yet and love contemporary romance with a hint of suspense, humor, and action thrown in, then this author and series is the one for you.

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Lindsey Black

  •   That marvelous Jameson family:  How did you come up with them?  The idea of the names of the kids, their professions?  Where did the inspiration come from?

Big families are a very old school Australian thing. My father is one of five children and my mother is one of six. I only have two siblings, but my husband has six. I don’t think you can write about Australian life and values without including a huge family—we’re all about big family gatherings. But the Jameson’s in particular are a payout (def. To insult, to knock, to slather with insults. In common usage, at least in Australia.) of both my family and my husband’s. More his, really.

Among his siblings there is a 6 foot something tall riot squad officer, a nurse, my husband who is ex-military, and then the younger siblings who are far less over-achieving. But I thought it was funny that they were all public service jobs, especially since I’m a teacher. Oh and the nurse’s partner is also a teacher. My husband’s family are also rather bogan**, which is pretty hilarious and very un-Jameson. I didn’t want to write about bogan Australia, that’s boring and overdone and too easy, really. I wanted to explore the fine line between middle class Australia and the upper echelons; that space where you have money but don’t throw it away. So while I took the occupational amusement from my husband’s family, the overall feel of the family was taken from my own.

Chloe is basically my mum after a few glasses of wine (she should really only ever be given one, but after that it’s a fun ride!). My Mum was an English teacher, and my Dad is a writer so I sort of combined their idiosyncrasies for Chloe. She’s nuts, in the best way! My Dad actually studied law when he was younger but dropped out when he realised he didn’t like it much and went into teaching later, but I thought it a nice little homage to make Daniel a lawyer.

The occupations were also a bit of a piss-take on contemporary pop culture and the way we seem to fetishise particular jobs.

The rhyming names was an accident; I’d named four of the characters before I realised I’d done it and then I left it because I thought it was funny.

  •  Do you know how many books this series will have?

Saturday Barbies has four planned books. A few readers have asked about some other side stories but I would have to really look at them to even consider going there. In the end I think they would be funnier cameos in the four books I have planned.

They aren’t really standalone; you can read Rhino Ash without reading Fishy Riot, but the next two start mingling the plots pretty savagely and while I’m doing my best to make them separate entities, they are a series, so … We shall see, I suppose?

  •  Where did the name of the series come from?

When I first heard that Dreamspinner was going to publish Fishy Riot I had to tell my husband, and he wanted to know what it was about. I was stumped for a minute before I blurted out ‘Saturday Barbies’. And it’s true. At it’s very core the series is about family, and the ways we come together and support one another. Unfortunately, he still thinks it’s about drinking beer with the mates, eating a sausage sandwich and kicking a footy around with the occasional weird porn scene.

  •  Taylor got a book, will his other twin get one as well even though he has a boyfriend?

This was actually one of those ‘other stories’ I mentioned people had asked about (Taylor would hate/love to know how popular Clay apparently is). I could go back and tell Clay and Joels’ story, and might one day, but at the moment I’m focussing on moving forward in the timeline.

The remaining two books don’t focus on new characters, or even new relationships, but rather continue the plots and romances already established.

Book three is Sietta’s book. A few eagle-eyed readers noticed Rhino Ash mentioned Taylor had linked something in the illegal immigrants storyline to Sietta, and book three picks up from there to begin tying up the loose ends from Fishy Riot.

  •    I love the mixture of humor and pain here, it works so well.  It was hard to believe that Fishy Riot was a debut novel.  How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for a long time. Many, many years ago I wrote several epic fantasy novels but I fear I was a tad before the times. My books all had female leads when it was very uncool to do so, and in the tiny Aussie publishing market that was ‘never going to happen’. It’s great to see that changing.

Fishy Riot was an interesting book to write, mostly because it is a serious book that is not to be taken seriously. It’s also one of those books that readers either really love, or hate with a passion that terrifies me and that has a lot to do with it refusing to follow the developed idea of what constitutes a romance. Fishy Riot doesn’t let you wallow, because life doesn’t let you do that. It moves fast, things constantly change, and if in the middle of all the chaos you happen to find a slice of magic then isn’t that all the more amazing?

  •  What do you love yourself about this series?  And the crazy Jameson family?

There are a lot of very subtle jokes in this series that a small handful of people have understood. They are usually related to the finer details of Australian life, be that politics, family, friendships, workplace policy, you name it there is very likely a joke about it somewhere in there. I love that on the surface they are a ridiculous series of books (I mean, ultimately they are a satire of sorts), but the issues are current and meaningful to the society I live in and approached in a very Aussie way.

Another really fun thing is that most of the really crazy, over the top incidents are actually based on real world events. The drug bust, the drive by shooting, the illegal immigration forced indenture, someone being lit on fire on a bus … they were all based on real events. So that’s cool, and another ‘inside joke’ for Aussies who pay attention to the news.

  •   What new stories are you working on?

My next book ‘Barricade’ comes out on December 15th. It’s a dystopian sci-fi romance set in the not so distant future. On the surface it probably seems a very serious book, but as with most things I write it began as a piss-take of Trump’s wall. Sorry, not sorry. It’s another book I expect to be loved and hated in equal measure, for a lot of the same reasons as Saturday Barbies—you have to think outside the borders to really understand the bones of it.

Then in February ‘North’ is being released. It’s a cute little contemporary Aussie folklore/fantasy romance set near my home city of Darwin. This is probably the most ‘traditional’ romance book I’ve written, but it’s still on the far side of quirky. New genre? ’Aus-quirk’!

And of course I’m working on book three of Saturday Barbies.

  •   How can people find you?

I have a blog – www.lindseyblack.net where I also have a mailing list if you like to be reminded of what’s coming, and I’m on Facebook and Twitter.

  •   What do you want people to know about Lindsey Black and why she writes?

I think it’s important to challenge our ideas about the world. I try to write meaningful stories that subtly (or not so subtly) question how we do things, and why. Stories link emotions to ideas, and I hope people finish one of my books feeling lighter, but also more determined to do something good in the world. Usually I suspect they finish a book and toss it across the room … whatever works for you.

……

**So that was our interview…but  as I read it over I realized I had no idea what “bogan” meant and thought some of our other American readers wouldn’t either. Back to Lindsey I went and here’s her answer….

Oh geez! I guess a bogan is sort of like trailer trash, but more aussie?

Um…definition? From it’s wikipedia page hahahahaaa!

Bogan (/ˈbɡən/BOHG-ən[1]) is Australian and New Zealandslang for a person whose speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour are considered unrefined or unsophisticated. Depending on the context, the term can be pejorative or self-deprecating.[2]

Since the 1980s, the bogan has become a very well-recognised subculture, often as an example of bad taste.

About the Author

LINDSEY BLACK lives in Darwin, Australia, where the weather report permanently reads ‘humidity at 100%, only going to get worse’ for ten months of the year and ‘monsoon at 4:00 p.m. for exactly fifteen minutes’ for the remaining two. Between teaching and studying full-time, she escapes this oppressive environment to bushwalk for weeks on end wherever the mobile phone reception has zero bars for as long as possible and the weather report reads something along the lines of ‘blizzard likely.’ She enjoys martial arts, music, and mayhem, which explains the untidy state of her home where she attempts to write while splitting her minimal amounts of spare time between her incredulous husband, lazy Chinchilla cat, and crazed Siberian husky. If you expect her to sit and have a chat, it’s best to have a matcha green tea latte with almond milk on hand and your hiking boots within reach. Oh, and be sure to bring a guitar for impromptu jam sessions.

 

Website

  • Saturday Barbie Series (add to Goodreads):

Fishy Riot (Saturday Barbies, #1)

Rhino Ash (Saturday Barbies, #2

  • Standalone Books:

Barricade (scify) coming out December 20

A MelanieM Review: Rhino Ash (Saturday Barbies #2) by Lindsey Black

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Ashley Jameson always tries to do the right thing, but that’s hard when your nephew keeps eating crayons, your niece is dressed as a pudding and your obnoxious older brothers crash the church’s Sunday brunch with the guy you’ve been crushing on for five years. Going to work to fight fires is a welcome relief from family obligations, until the Riot Squad arrives to investigate and Ashley once again finds himself dealing with his siblings. Oh … and Finn Hale.

But Finn’s dark past continues to haunt him. As work gets increasingly busy with a string of arson attacks on illegal immigrants, Finn steps in to be the shoulder Ashley needs to lean on, but Ashley struggles to do the same for the man he loves. Juggling family and work can be difficult, but Ashley soon discovers that the real challenge is when it’s not a struggle at all … because you’ll do anything for the ones you love.

I fell in love with Lindsey Black’s writing through her debut novel Fishy Riot (Saturday Barbies, #1).  That story introduced us to the crazy Jameson clan (police officers, doctors, EMT, firefighters) and assorted extended family members, including partners, children (vastly entertaining little ‘monsters’) and more.  It was an enthusiastic, marvelously engaging romp!  I adored the clan, the adventure, the mystery and humor and wanted more immediately.  But had to wait until now to see what and who in the Jameson family was going to get their story told next.  Lucky us!  It’s Ashley Jameson, the odd child out in names (Tay, Hay, Shay, etc) and youngest of the large pack who finds his HEA here in Finn Hale, his twin brothers partner in the Riot Squad.

One of the things I love about this  author is her ability to bring me to laughter one second and tears the next.  That’s totally in keeping with the characters here and the situations they find themselves in within this story and in Finn Hale’s case, deep within his backhistory.  The themes of family,  pain and recovery, even the self doubt that Ash carries within him about how his own family sees him.  These are layered, multidimensional characters who easily get to you because they feel so real, so human.  I found myself wanting to slide into their Saturday family barbeques myself if only to be a part of the craziness.

It’s not just the family appeal that comes across but the grit and pain of the business of firefighting or what they come across during this investigation.  It’s heartbreaking and the descriptions here telegraph the exhaustion, the heat, the intensity the firefighters feel as they enter the buildings, flames all around, floors collapsing, to save the people within…and sometimes don’t.

Rhino Ash (Saturday Barbies #2) by Lindsey Black proves that the first book and this author was indeed a glorious find and now a series to hang onto.  So is this amazing author.  I need more, so much more from her.

If you haven’t read Fishy Riot, grab that one up first and meet the Jameson family and then come here to Rhino Ash for the next Saturday Barbie!  I’ll be going back to reread them both together as I can’t get my fill I recommend them that much!

Cover art by Angsty G is perfect in continuing to brand the series while containing elements for the story. Love it.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, first edition, 276 pages
Published October 27th 2017 by Netherwood Press
ASINB076QYSS1N
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Saturday Barbies:

Fishy Riot (Saturday Barbies, #1)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Fishy Riot by Lindsey Black

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Most people think riot squad officer Taylor Jameson is an asshole. Little do they know his apparent indifference stems from having a meddlesome family always butting into his business. And little does Taylor know he’s about to stumble into a situation that’ll make indifference impossible.

When everything goes horribly wrong at a political rally on a harbour ferry, Taylor encounters Sietta Salisbury. The son of a wealthy politician, Sietta is a revered—but presumed dead—musician, and an enigma who is so strange, Taylor is compelled to look into his background. What he discovers draws him into a bizarre mess of prisoners, politics, and attempted murder that makes him realise what he’s been missing.

Falling in love isn’t hard. Trying to convince someone else you’re worth loving despite your crazy family and the people trying to kill you? That’s a whole other can of worms.

What does it tell you about a story that when I was finished, I dropped everything to try  and search out everything else I could find by this author?  It says I was in love with Fishy Riot from beginning to end and wanted more! I was even more surprised to find that this appears to be the author’s first published story.  If so, what a great way to begin!

Fishy Riot is about Taylor Jameson, but it’s also about his twin brother and fellow riot squad officer, Clayton Jameson, and their entire family.    This is a true ensemble piece and it makes Fishy Riot rich in characters, family love and humor.  Wherever Taylor goes, Clay goes with him, along with his own partner, who has been enveloped into the crazy Jameson family.  Trust me, love one, love them all! And each one has their own part to play within the story and the couple’s (Tay and Si’s) relationship.

Taylor is the more emotionally isolated of the two brothers, less concerned about others and what they think about him, etc.  He cares deeply about his family and values.  Other things like romantic attachments have eluded him until the enigma that is Sietta Salisbury.  One meeting is all that it takes to know that something is wrong about Sietta and that he’s unforgettable to Tay.  But  what won’t come into the picture until later.

The character of Sietta Salisbury and his brother are as well drawn as the  Jameson family.  He’s intelligent, determined, and brave beyond all imagining.  I wanted more of Si and hope that this is just the beginning of a series that includes the main couple, and all the people around them.  To say more just spoils the storyline and it’s too good for that.

What I can say is that Black weaves humor, romance and suspicion together with high action and anticipation to come up with a first rate contemporary romp that I’ll want to read again while I’m begging for a sequel.  The author left the door wide open for one and I’m hoping Lindsey Black is already walking through writing madly!

Cover Artist: AngstyG.  I love the cover.  Absolutely works for the story.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 236 pages
Expected publication: April 24th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleFishy Riot
ISBN 1635334497 (ISBN13: 9781635334494)
Edition LanguageEnglish