Monday 15 August 2016

Engines of Liberty Review and Author Interview

In 1776, the American rebels were thwarted by British magic. The leaders were executed, but the surviving soldiers went into hiding and kept the revolution alive. By 1984 they have developed better weapons and machinery to even the odds. Now all these "technomancers" need is an army for their arsenal, and their newest recruit is 15 year-old Calvin Adler of Baltimore. The problem is, he’s got a pretty strong will, and might give the technomancers at bit of trouble in training...
Calvin learns that the technomancers aren't all good guys like he'd thought, and soon runs afoul of the worst of them. Now, with a bomb in his chest and a lot of ground to cover, he has a little over a week to save his life, or else become another casualty in the revolution. Meanwhile, an old enemy comes back stronger than ever, with ambition to spare...

Calvin is on the brink of death. The army is scattered, the commodore is dead, and the British mages know about the technomancers' secret weapon. Just as all hope seems lost, Calvin and his friends find out the mages have a weakness, one that could end the war overnight and liberate the colonials.
But it will take a miracle to reach it...

Graham Bradley is a truck driver by trade, but has been writing since age eight, thanks to the encouragement of a childhood teacher, Mrs. Peplowski.

Likewise, his grandmother made him promise to "do something" with his knack for drawing, so he illustrates as well.

He is fluent in Spanish, and knows the proper method of ironing a dress shirt. Despite spending less than 6 hours of his entire life in Indianapolis, the Colts are his team.

He lives in Henderson, Nevada, with his wife and sons.

Connect with the Author here: 
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4 out of 5 Stars

Rebel Heart
If George Washington had lost because of both Magic, and bad press what would the world be like? Rebel Heart is based on an alternate history where the American Revolution was not only lost but completely forgotten about by the population as a whole. The English keeps the citizens in check and under their rule by using magic and generally terrorizing everyone. Our hero (Calvin) stands up to a few of the local wizards and in return is kidnapped by “Techromancers” people who oppose the kings run and are using illegal technology to try and fight back.
The world Author Graham Bradley has written is well thought out and believable. I enjoyed his tweaks to history which managed to intertwine his world into ours.  The characters are believable even down the annoying way some characters have an exaggerated belief in their own importance.
While I did enjoy the book on a whole I did struggle to understand how Calvin could come to the belief that certain people are evil. Nothing written in this book points directly to Evil. Yes annoying, controling and rude, but not evil. Yes trying to keep him away from the girl he fancies, but not evil.
Overall this is a fast paced book perfect for those who enjoy the YA Genre, steampunk, and alternate histories. It is clean, the most sexual content is as an almost kiss. There are a few swear words but mostly they are British, so if you are American you probably won’t even realise they are swear words. There is some war violence but again it is not gory or in too much detail.
I am interested to read the next book and see where this story goes.

4 out of 5 Stars 

Suicide Run
This instalment of the series has more action, is faster paced and has more characters. The new animals, technologies and magic disciplines turns a familiar landscape into a more exotic one. It adds to the story and enhances the depth and scope of the plot line. There are a few times I found myself thinking “that is really cool” particularly when it comes to some of the magical ability shown by the main protagonist in this book, the wizard Godfrey.
This story does however starts with Calvin being a total and complete twat. Like most teenage boys he thinks only of himself and his immediate needs regardless of everyone else around him. I am afraid it made me struggle to feel sympathy for his plight a bit later on in the book when he kind of deserved it. It also plays into my feelings from last book that his belief of certain people being evil doesn’t quite pan out. Yes it does paint one or two people as evil but not the majority of the ones he has pegged as evil.
I did enjoy this story, yes it did irritate me at times, but that irritation does drive the story forward, and it shows that hero’s do not always make the correct choices and are not always in the right.
Again I would recommend this book to fans of YA, Steampunk, Alternate History and fantasy. There is some mild swearing (mostly British words) and some non-gory war violence.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Patriots Game
This book starts strong and doesn’t let up through the entire story. And I am relieved to see that Finally I was able to get the information needed to understand how Calvin could see someone as evil! It was a relief to say “Ok, yes he was right”
The whole book is face paced, bringing most of the characters back together, even the small bit players (at least the ones who are not dead).  You get to see how each person is able to fit into the whole scheme of things. This is done well so you don’t feel like the author has gone off on a tangent. Instead they all play a part in the main conflict and their choices and actions affect the outcome of the battle.  Because of the hints laid out in the books you will know what would have to happen at the end before you get halfway through the book, however that knowledge does not curtail the enjoyment of the scene any.
Author Graham Bradley has a rich imagination that has built a vivid and believable world that is as reliable as it is uprising. Well done!
Mild swearing, one fairly strong word (only if you understand British swearing, if you don’t it will completely go over your head). There is also war violence, more than the last two books but again it isn’t graphic.
I also recommend you read the whole series in order these are not meant to be read out of order or as stand alone books.
If you like YA, fantasy, steampunk or alternate history then this series is one you need to read.

Interview with Author Graham Bradley
1. Describe yourself in 50 words or less.
Irrational dreamer seeks satisfaction by flogging the English language (and others besides) into a rough approximation of prose, augmented on the drawing board when words will not suffice. It has been stated—rather accurately—that I am not a precision instrument. Also, go Colts!
2. What do you love most in the world?
The easiest answer is the truest: I love my wife, Schaara. I could drown you in anecdotes and still fail to paint the right picture of who and what she is to me.
3. What do you fear most?
As a secret vigilante, it would pretty foolish of me to throw this one out into public.
4. What is your largest unfulfilled dream, and what are you doing to reach it?
I will write and illustrate full-time, and make a really good living off of it. That starts here, at the ground level. I’ll get an agent for some projects, and others I’ll publish independently, and I’ll get better at my craft until people like what I do. (Right now I work in demolition for a living. I like to blow things up, but I do not love to do it.)
5. Now that we've gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it's yours. What's your story?
Oh, now you’ve stepped in it.
Two days before Christmas in 2002, my little brother got a call from one of his hoodlum friends, informing him that a mutual acquaintance of ours was going to haul a car out into the desert and light it on fire, and would we like to come?
I was 18, my brother was 15, and most of the young men involved in this soaring display of good adolescent judgment were in that same range. The car belonged to a guy named Milan. It was a crappy Peugeot, not worth the $100 he had paid for it, and since it was broken beyond the value of repairing it, this method of disposal was of course the most reasonable alternative.
So at 9PM on a Monday, roughly twenty of us helped rig Milan’s car to the back of someone’s pickup, and we towed it down a dirt road into the desert south of Mission Hills in Henderson. Gasoline and road flares soon made short work of the car, and oh, what a spectacle it was!
In fact, it was such a spectacle, that the police decided to stop by and check out the party. (I suspect it was a local, who had seen us towing the car through his neighborhood at the edge of town, that had made the call.)
We had dilly-dallied long enough with the car that the police had time to drive one of their fine Chevy Tahoes down an adjacent desert road and cut off our escape into the nocturnal wasteland. Once the conflagration was at full power, we noticed an odd arrangement of headlights bearing down on us from a distance in the darkness, and it was at this time that someone suggested we get the heck out of there.
We scrambled for the vehicles that had brought us there. I myself jumped into the back of someone’s Dodge pickup, and we were soon flying down a desert road at about forty or fifty miles an hour, in the dark. Let me just say that this road was not intended for these speeds, as it was not even technically a road, but when you see those red-and-blues closing in on you in the pitch black December night, you find that a 4X4 can turn just about anything into a road.
Me being the stalwart religious man that I am, I opted at that moment to send a prayer to The Man Upstairs, promising all manner of future righteous behavior in exchange for immediate deliverance from this bad decision. I got a busy signal, and a recorded message to the effect of “God’s not here right now, some boneheaded kids just got caught burning a car before Christmas, and He’s cheering on the cops.”
The cops—we’ll call them “Henderson’s Finest”—didn’t become the Finest by being stupid. No sooner had we thought that we had secured our escape, having returned from the desert to the edge of town, than did we find ourselves facing a blockade of more police cars, and a fire engine to boot. Orders were shouted through megaphones, skies were reached for, vehicles were disembarked from, and suspects were lined up on the ground.
Motives were questioned. Names were taken. Profanities were uttered by the Finest, which, I thought, seemed a little unfair, given that a certain Entity had opted to grant them their purpose rather than to grant me mine, and even though I’d been party to vehicular arson, at least I hadn’t cussed a lot, but I figured I wasn’t in the best position to make a moral argument on my own behalf.
I looked around for my brother. He was several suspects away from me in the lineup, but didn’t seem rattled. That’s my brother for you: the original Honey Badger. I also noticed that some of our number had escaped capture. These had been members of the high school’s Cross Country team, and they had wisely chosen to get away on foot, themselves being no strangers to running across uneven desert terrain.
As Milan explained his ownership of the vehicle to the Finest, they laughed when he confessed that it was, in fact, a Peugeot. The tension abated slightly, but the Finest still had to do their thing, and that included getting everyone’s information. One officer did all that, starting at my right and working his way down the line. When he got to me, I told him my name and age. He frowned at his notes and asked if I had a brother there that night. Yes sir, I did. He informed me that I wasn’t being a very good example to my brother. This was apparent to me.
The officer informed me that I should call my parents to come pick us up. Now, you don’t know my mother, so you don’t understand that this man was—by default—ordering me to commit suicide. Sighing my resignation, I pulled out my archaic cell phone and dialed my doom.
Sparing you the details of the call, my mom and dad got our location and hopped in the car. It was only then that Officer Judgment (not his actual name) came back to me, checking his notes, and saying “Oh hey, I just noticed that you’re 18. You didn’t need to call your parents, you’re of age, I could’ve just let you take your brother home right now.”
Unspoken cuss words. Lots of them.
In the end, that night was a turning point for me with regards to the example I wanted to set for my brother, regardless of whether he heeded it. It also set the tone for the most awkward Christmas spirit ever, but I suppose I deserved that one.
The moral of the story is this: take up Cross Country.
The End.

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