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H.A.L.F. Series by Natalie Wright - Book Reviews

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H.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers and has lived a sedated life hidden from humans. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.

Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement meets shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll say adios to the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill?

The two may need to forget their rules and training and if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.

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My Review
**I want to thank author Natalie Wright for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book**

The Deep Beneath is the first book in the H.A.L.F. series, and it starts off quite interesting.

Erika and her two friends, Jack and Ian, decide they're going out into the desert to hang, rather than go to a party. This decision sets off a chain of events that take the reader on a fascinating journey.

As Fox Mulder was so keen on saying, "The truth is out there." Erika, Jack, and Ian stumble across a very strange young man while in the desert. He saves them from two guys they consider serious baddies, but unfortunately for them, those guys were the least of their worries.

H.A.L.F. 9 is an alien-human hybrid, created in a lab and designed to be a weapon. But his meeting with Erika and her friends changes everything. He knows what he must do, but...he can't.

It's these decisions that set the course for where the rest of the story goes. I really don't want to spoil anything, so I'm going to try and keep vague with the rest of my review. Just know that the ending is a doozy!

If you're a fan of The X-Files, or if the Roswell crash and subsequent cover-up fascinates you, you'll definitely want to check out The Deep Beneath.

The characters are really well-written. There are characters you'll love -- like Erika and her friends -- and characters you'll hate -- like Commander Sturgis. But there's more to them than just "they're good guys" or "they're bad guys." They're very three-dimensional, and you'll find yourself immersed in what's going on with all of them at any given moment in the story. 

The plot is very well crafted. It doesn't speed along, nor does it drag. I found myself intrigued almost immediately, and I couldn't wait to see where the story would go. I found myself wanting to be a part of Erika's little group of friends. I found myself wanting to explore the underground world of A.H.D.N.A. It was all so fascinating, and I was hooked right away.

Overall, The Deep Beneath was a fun read, chock full of government coverups, secrets, and alien goodness. I quite enjoyed it, and I would definitely recommend the series. 

I give it five very well-deserved stars.

Author Interview
1. What was the first book to make you fall in love with reading?

This is a great question because as a young child, I was not “in love” with reading. I enjoyed reading my brother’s comic books (Superman and Wonder Woman were my favorites). Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary books were popular and Nancy Drew was still popular with girls. I know that lots of people loved books by Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary and similar authors, but it just wasn’t my thing. 

Then I found A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and everything changed. I had always loved The Twilight Zone and Star Trek. Here was a book that was like an episode of Twilight Zone but with a girl as a protagonist and written for kids. That book opened me up to a new world of books and is very influential on my work. 
2. How do you choose your character names?

Naming characters is a difficult and important process. Sometimes a name just comes to me. Erika Holt, the main character in the H.A.L.F. series, was a name that just popped into my head. The same goes for Commander Sturgis. I don’t know where these names come from, but when a name just arrives for me, I go with it.

Other times, I research and think more about names. Jack Wilson, for example, was a name chosen by readers via a poll on Facebook. I had several choices and the readers voted for Jack. Ian came about through researching names that were popular in 1998 (the year my teen characters were born) then thinking about what fits the personality of the character.

Then there are the “fantasy” names of the M’Uktah. I created a naming convention for them based on their caste society and then class within each caste. So, for example, U’Vol has the “U” in front of his name as it signifies he is a captain of the Vree caste. With the M’UKtah, I created names based on how I wanted it to sound. I sit (alone!) and speak out loud, rolling different combinations around on the tongue. I play with it until I find a sound I like then create a spelling to match. That’s the process I used to come up with names like U’Vol and Eponia.

My next project will be high fantasy and I’m having difficulty coming up with names! I’ve played with various fantasy name generators without much success. I also look at names from other languages/cultures for inspiration then play with it to see if I can make something new from it. One thing I try to do is have the look and sound of the name match the character. It has to “feel” right to me. So sometimes at the beginning of the project I don’t have a name. But I know that once I develop that character more and they begin to become more “real” to me, a name will come to me. 
3. How long does it normally take you to write a book?

I’ve been doing a book a year (give or take a month or two) since 2014. But now that I’ve finished the H.A.L.F. series, it will likely be a bit longer than a year before my next novel is complete. My next project will require massive worldbuilding, so it will likely take a couple of years to complete. In the meantime, I hope to write some shorter things like a novella or two and short stories. 
4. What do you consider to be your spirit animal?

Hmm, good question. I’m torn between a cat and a raven. I say cat because I’ve lived with cats for thirty years. I relate to their curiosity and independence. 

But I say raven because it’s the animal that I feel has appeared to me at times. I see ravens in unexpected places, and I swear, some of them have looked at me like they want to talk to me! I’m also drawn to ravens in art and stories. Ravens mate for life and are usually seen in pairs. I relate to that as I’ve been with my guy for over thirty years now. When I commit, I mean it! I envy ravens their ability to fly. It’s something I really wish I could do. 
5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write! And read.

I know, all writers say that. But it’s true. 

In order to be a writer, you need to write.

When it comes to reading, you must analyze as you read. Pick stories apart. What works in the story and why? What doesn’t work and why? What made you read past the first chapter? Or why did you abandon it after a few pages (or even the first paragraph)?

I began providing content editing services a few years ago and it helped ramp up my writing even more than the writing itself. Thinking about writing and how it is done well or why it falls flat is incredibly productive.

If you are new to writing novels, I recommend you pick up Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. His method for crafting plot is extremely useful and can help you get a handle on plot. I also recommend you check out the “Snowflake Method” by Randy Ingermanson. You can view his article about the Snowflake method of designing a novel here  I have found Randy’s ideas useful to wrangle my big ideas into something manageable.
6. Top 5 favorite X-Files episodes?

Oh no, I can pick only five?! Impossible!!

But I’ll give it a go.

1. “Beyond the Sea” from Season 1. Scully sees her father in a chair across from her, his lips moving but she can’t hear what he says. Later, her mother calls her and tells her that her father died. Then she and Mulder meet up with a psychotic deathrow inmate (played by the ever creepy Brad Dounif) who claims to be a psychic and that he can tell her what her father wanted to say. If you’re a fan of agent Scully (and I am!), this is a great episode. Scully is the skeptic, but in this episode, she has a paranormal experience of her own. It’s a great character development episode.

2. “Squeeze” from Season 1. This is the one about Eugene Victor Tooms played by Doug Hutchison. I think this was the first “monster-of-the-week” episode and it’s my favorite. The X-Files created what may be the “perfect” modern-day monster. He hibernates for 30 years then awakens and needs to feed. He can squeeze through tiny spaces so you can lock your doors but it won’t matter. He’ll find a way in! And then he kills and eats the liver of his victims. They did a great job with his creepy yellow eyes and doing close ups of only his eyes like old fashioned monster movies. This one scares the crap out of me when I watch it!

3. “Paper Clip” from Season 3. One of the best of the alien conspiracy episodes. It has the Lone Gunmen (I love those guys!) and Mitch Pileggi being all badass.

4. “Colony”. Mulder is in the arctic and finds proof of the alien conspiracy but he ends up near death. Scully has to do the detective work to find out what he was up to in the Arctic so that she can find out how to save him. As it turns out, the cold is keeping him alive. I love this one because it shows off Scully’s abilities while at the same time showing Mulder being classic Mulder.

5. “Anasazi” from Season 2. Mulder and Scully end up in Navajo country as the X-Files works Native American beliefs about the Star People into the X-Files mythos. If you’ve read ORIGINS, you may not be surprised to see this episode on my list. ;-) It certainly inspired the direction that ORIGINS took.

Honorable Mentions: “731” from Season 3; “Ice” from Season 1; and the Fluke Man episode (the stuff of nightmares, that one!).

We've seen grey aliens on T.V. and in movies. We may think we know all about them. But what if everything we think we know is wrong?

Erika Holt dodged death and departed Earth in an alien ship. It wasn't how she'd planned to spend her senior year. Is Erika on her way to paradise? Or to a hell worse than the underground lab she escaped?

The greys rescued Tex from A.H.D.N.A. and promised him a life he could never have imagined. But what will he have to give up to become one with The Conexus?

Jack Wilson is still Commander Sturgis' prisoner, but a promise of freedom comes from an unlikely source. Will his liberation cost more than he's willing to pay?

Caught up in their personal battles and focused on our war with the grey aliens, will any of them realize the true threat that looms over us all before it's too late?

"The Makers" is the follow-up to Natalie Wright's multiple award-winning debut science fiction novel "H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath."

Buy Link
B&N (paperback or hardcover only)

My Review
**Once again, thank you to author Natalie Wright for the opportunity to read and review**

The Makers is the sequel to The Deep Beneath. It picks up where the first story left off, and boy, does it get crazy in this one.

Erika, Ian, Dr. Randall, and Tex (aka H.A.L.F. 9) are stuck. Completely and utterly stuck on an alien spaceship with no idea how, when, or if they'll be able to get home.

Jack, on the other hand, is now stuck putting his trust in one of Commander Sturgis's lackeys, Sewell. He's sent into "hiding" with Commander Sturgis's niece, Anna. He's also given a task he really doesn't want to commit to, but the promise of being able to go home again is enough to at least motivate him to try and follow through. He definitely can't anticipate the awfulness he's about to face, though. If he thought Commander Sturgis was bad, he's in for a rude awakening when he meets the man in charge, William Croft.

 I don't know if I can even put into words how awesome this book was. Honestly. There's so much going on, and it switches between what Jack and Anna are struggling to do, and what Erika, Ian, and the others are faced with. To be honest, I think the latter group had it so much worse. 

Tex has been taken away from Erika by the Conexus, a group of aliens (also known as Greys) who have a hive mind. They're all interconnected to each other, and to everything around them. It's kind of insane. The Regina, the head of the Conexus, wants Tex to meld with them and become one with them. She'll do anything to get him to give up his humanity and his budding friendship with the others and make him a full-blown alien. 

Erika and Ian, on the other hand, are trapped in a room, guarded only by a very easily manipulated Infractus (aka someone like Tex). Unfortunately for all of them, the Conexus doesn't take kindly to what they've been getting up to. Xenos, their guard, is punished, and Erika and Ian are infected with an alien virus. So not good.

And, to top it all off, there's another race of aliens that gets introduced, albeit not as in-depth, and they... well, let's just say they make the Conexus look like Disney Princesses.

Another fantastic read. The storyline is engaging and hooks the reader from the very beginning. The differing POVs are easy to keep up with, and it makes the book even more exciting. It made me wish the books were movies. That's how good this one was. 

I found myself changing my opinion of certain characters in this book, although, considering the direction the character arcs went, that happened a lot. One minute I was frustrated and angry with a character, on the verge of hating them, and then I was like, well, they're not bad now, so what do I do? Like them? Continue hating them? It was fun to see how much the characters had changed. 

The Makers is definitely a thrill ride, and I highly recommend it. Definitely deserving of the five stars I gave it.

A deadly alien virus spawns an epidemic. Predators attack Europe. And a clandestine organization conspires to profit from chaos and forge a New World Order.

In this heart-pounding finale of the award-winning H.A.L.F. series, Tex, Erika and the rest are in a race against time. They fought for their lives. Now they battle to save our species.

Tex and Erika are fugitives and running for their lives. But when Tex falls gravely ill, a Navajo healer is his only hope for survival. Tex emerges from the ordeal changed in body and mind and with vital information: how to stop the predatory M’Uktah from overtaking the human population and destroying those he has come to love.

Erika Holt seeks a respite from the constant threats to her life but she’s not about to give up. As she and Tex launch a mission to shut down the intra-galactic highway used by invaders who prey on humans, she grows closer to her troubled half-human companion. But what about her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Jack?

Jack Wilson, with his friend Anna Sturgis, is on a mission of his own. He’s determined to destroy The Makers, an illuminati-like organization behind the H.A.L.F. program. It’s time to put an end to their schemes for world domination. Complicating matters, an anti-viral that could save millions from an alien virus has been stolen. As both alien and human forces line up against them, the destiny of all mankind is hand the hands of these young warriors. And time is running out. 

Buy Links
B&N (paperback or hardcover only) 

My Review
**Thanks again to Natalie Wright for the opportunity to read and review**

Origins is the jaw-dropping finale of the H.A.L.F. series.  And when I say jaw-dropping, I mean you will definitely be blown away by how the series ends. 

The alien threat from the last book is now on Earth, wreaking havoc all throughout Europe. People are dying left and right, and it seems like nothing can stop these creatures from completing their mission.

It's up to Tex and Erika to try and find a way to bring down the aliens known as the M'Uktah. But when Tex comes down with an illness, Erika has no idea how to help him. It isn't until he's taken to a Navajo healer that everything changes.

Elsewhere, Jack and Anna are on a mission to bring down The Makers and save humanity from a completely different alien threat: the virus released by the Conexus in the second book.

Does either group succeed, or is humanity doomed to fall at the hands of an alien race? You'll just have to read it and find out.

I can't even put into words how amazing this book was. I loved it. I hated it. I wanted to throw it out the window. I wanted to cherish it forever and ever. I didn't want it to end. And I still wish it was a movie. Seriously, these books would be amazing on the big screen. 

The intensity of everything that was going on sent my anxiety spiraling out of control at times. I was eager to know what would happen next, but  I was also filled with worry and stress about what was going to happen. It made me a little crazy.

The plot of this one moves along at a brisk pace, but it's so fleshed out and ties everything together in a nice little bow. I loved that everything sort of came together, and nothing was left hanging or open with no resolution. Unlike a certain X-Files arc that still frustrates me to this day (Mulder's sister... I refuse to believe anything about how that arc played out. Ugh.)

Origins was was so good. The characters felt like old friends by the very end, and I was sad to leave them behind. I was also sad because of other reasons, but that would spoil things, so I'll keep mum about it.

Please, do yourself a favor and pick up the H.A.L.F. series. It's so good, and you won't regret diving into this world of sci-fi aliens. Trust me on that.

Five very well-deserved stars.

Author Bio

Natalie writes speculative fiction for teens and adults including the award-winning Sci Fi series, H.A.L.F., and The Akasha Chronicles, a young adult paranormal fantasy trilogy.

When not writing, reading, or gaming, Natalie appears on panels and exhibits at book festivals and comic cons across the western US. She lives in Arizona with her husband, teen daughter and two cat overlords.

You can check out her travel schedule on her blog (link below) to see if she'll be in city near you.

Twitter: @NatalieWright_
Facebook: Natalie Wright, Author
Instagram: NatalieWrightAuthor

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  1. Thank you so much for posting your wonderful reviews :-)


Please try not to spam posts with the same comments over and over again. Authors like seeing thoughtful comments about their books, not the same old, "I like the cover" or "sounds good" comments. While that is nice, putting some real thought and effort in is appreciated. Thank you.