What strange worlds are coming soon, or are they already here?

The future had its bleak turns during my childhood. I wrote stories about the end of the world, where an anonymous someone in Russia, China or the USA pushed a button and blew us all up. I wanted to stand on a tall tower watching the bombs, because I was sure the tower would fall and I wouldn't need to survive the aftermath, and also because I wanted my eyes wide open. But it didn't happen.

One of my sons suffers from similarly bleak views today. Meanwhile my mum, who lived through the Second World War in England, has a much more honest view of the past. Her world was threatened dailly. Her disasters appeared on her doorstep and drove her to hide in underground shelters. My disasters and my sons are just in our heads, at least for now.

And then there are books. Fiction offers an escape, a place to explore different ways, a chance to see through different eyes, and maybe even an opportunity to realize the end's not today, and the future really hasn't happened yet, so why panic... yet. Don't panic. Find coffee, read book reviews, and all will be well.

Lost Secret of the Vikings by Charles A. Salter is the fourth of his Kare Kids Adventures. The children in these books face scary futures with courage and imagination, and the books are designed to encourage self-confidence and independent thought in middle grade readers. Someone is trying to tamper with the world's future by accessing lost secrets of the Vikings in this tale, and readers are taken on an intriguing trip to distant parts of the world. Enjoy with some well-balanced, full-flavored three-star coffee.

For adults, and especially for adult fans of urban fantasy, Cursed by J. A. Cipriano (first in the autho's thrice-cursed mage series) introduces a character who can't remember who he is, but finds himself defending an unknown woman, battling monsters, and wielding unexpected powers. It's gruesome in places, but the voice is convincing and consistent, doesn't dwell too much on the gore, and promises much more to come. The novel is complete in itself and a great addition to anyone's urban fantasy collection. Enjoy with some dark five-star coffee.

Empire of Traitors by Serban Valentin Constantin Enache is an adult epic fantasy with complex mythology and prose, and a sense for the mundane bound deeply into the epic. Fate weavers weave many threads in separate chapters from vastly different parts of a complex world - a sort of Game of Thrones crossed with Dungeons and Dragons and grown longer perhaps. It's one to enjoy slowly, maybe a chapter at a time, with many dark intense five-star coffees.

The Call of Agon by Dean Wilson offers similarly dark fantasy nicely balanced with good humored banter and a cool blend of characters - simple, complex, mysterious, honorable, treacherous and more. The story's set in another well-wrought fantasy world, and might best be enjoyed with some rich four-star coffee.

Divine Pursuit by Joanna Grace is the fifth in a series of novellas, so a little confusing perhaps to new readers. Romance blended with Greek mythology and Texan trucks, plus occasional side trips to Europe, it's complex, physical, and fun. Enjoy with some lively easy-drinking two-star coffee, but you're probably best to start at the beginning.


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