Review: The Unseen (Freelancer #2) by Jake Lingwall

The Unseen (Freelancer Book 2)

The Unseen by Jake Lingwall
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Character flaws are things to be fixed, not justified or glossed over. That’s the biggest reason that I cannot give this second book in the Freelancer series anything higher than 2 stars.

The usual thing to do with a character is to have them start out flawed, then recognize that flaw (usually after it lands them in the crap) and then correct it. When you start with a Mary Sue with two big flaws that she (and maybe the author?) can’t see, then don’t fix it but carry it over to the next book… you get a repeat. The same problem Kari had before (easily manipulated) is still there. The other issue is that the ‘flaw’ that she sees in herself (getting people hurt because of her actions) is not the REAL problem, but it BECOMES one even while she extols her virtue for not having done the necessary thing to keep evil from continuing. On no less than five occasions I found myself saying… just kill the guy and damn the consequences… don’t play the game his way… but no, the pages just kept going. *sigh* The dummies on the television don’t listen to me either.

This rest of this review is a spoiler. I don’t have any more time to spend on a 2-star trying to keep it from being one. Read ahead at your own risk.

After escaping the clutches of a power hungry manipulative egomaniac (who happens to work for the government) and almost being killed along with the boy she didn’t even know she liked (but apparently everyone else did?) in the first book, Kari the super-hacker, aka Freelancer, tries to settle down to a normal life of self-indulgence. Unfortunately, she manages to fall into the clutches of a power hungry manipulative egomaniac (who happens to want to overthrow the governments…both of them, as the U.S. is now in a second Civil War).

So, hopefully, you can see my problem here. She learned nothing from her first hellish, mind-scaring, life-trauma event and simply fell into the next one. For a person who is super-smart and can solve so many problems, she is beyond naive. It’s so bad that it completely ruined my suspension of disbelief. I knew who the bad guy was the instant he was introduced.

The whole YA silly teen/young-adult relationship thing just added a level of obnoxious to top the whole thing off.

And that’s why it gets two stars and no more of my time. I’m skipping book 3 because I fear it will be just more of the same.

View all my reviews on Goodreads, or look for them here on the blog!


You can check out my pantsing products over on Amazon.com! I currently have two books published. Both are available on Kindle Unlimited, and on Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for free if you have Amazon Prime. Grab a copy and tell me what a black pot I am! Or leave a glowing review… I’ll take either, just read it! 🙂

If you like intrigue, pick up a copy of eConscience Beta from Amazon today.

Peacekeeper Incorporated’s breakthrough nanotechnology could bring repeat offense crime to an end, freeing society from the need for criminal incarcerations. But first, they have to finish testing it. With funding on the line, and time to prove out the project getting short, the lead scientist must find a way speed things up. That’s unfortunate for his guinea pig, and anyone who would stand in his way.

Can the goal of ending most crime justify committing one… even a few?
And what happens when you conflate altruism with egotism?

Find out in eConscience Beta, where two lab techs and an uncouth petty criminal must outwit a brilliant but sociopathic scientist who’ll stop at nothing to establish his legacy as the man who ended crime.

If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

HAPPY READING!

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2018 Year In Review: Books & Writing & Dungeons & Dragons, Oh My!

Well, 2018 has certainly been a year, hasn’t it? Time to examine those accomplishments (or lack thereof) and decide what to do with the next 12 months (or not). As you can see, my motivation is at ebb tide at the moment of this missive, so maybe the act of looking back will help… let’s see…

I did manage to exceed my 2017 read count by a whole 176 pages! I was down two books though, with only 29. I do know that much reading that is not counted up includes tons of editing (re-reading), research for writing, and also research into Dungeons and Dragons rules and lore. I’m totally counting the Dungeon Masters Guide & Player’s Handbook for D&D 5th Edition this year! The D&D wiki is also a rabbit hole of infinite depth down which one should carefully tread, lest you be engulfed and never return! So, yeah, I’ll count all that as a win.

The writing has taken a backseat for a while, although I did publish my Horizon’s Unlimited Anthology. I wrote and expanded on several short stories and submitted those. One was over 22,000 words! I have not yet been able to settle into a mindset that will allow me to continue another novel. I also have picked up that new hobby that I mentioned before…

You see, early in the year… Feb/March? I decided to try my hand at being a Dungeon Master for D&D 5th Edition starter set campaign The Lost Mine of Phandelver. This RPG is supposed to be a fairly short introductory campaign to help new players and new DMs (Dungeon Masters) learn the ‘art’ of play D&D. I had played through that campaign myself as a player, so I was hoping it would prove to be an easy way to get started as the man behind the screen… Weeellll…

I have a tendency to embellish things when I think they are a bit on the boring side. My players also have this same characteristic trait. I quickly found that if I dangled a shiny side-story in front of them, they would instantly shoot off in that direction before I could comprehend what I had done to myself. This is how LMoP become a nearly year long campaign with a follow on Custom Campaign #2 to be run me in 2019.

Oh, and we’re maybe…sorta…kinda… going to try recording it an seeing if people on YouTube want to watch it. That means I now have to learn video recording & editing software, etc. I have already started this, and it will be time consuming. It is why the ‘plans’ that I mentioned back in November never really happened.

Anyway, that’s what’s up with my life and hobbies at the moment. But, let’s get back to the BOOKS!

I only had 4 books that (5 if you count my own, but I’m biased) made the 5 star cut this past year. 7 earned a 4 star ranking. There were some good comics/graphic novels in the mix as well, but I count them separately.

Here’s the breakdown for my reads & reviews this year.

Total books read for the year: 23 (+4 Comics/Graphic Novels + 2 RPG Source Books)

Total pages read for the year: 7,646

Book ratings: 5 – 5 stars, 7 – 4 stars, 11 – 3 stars, 2 – 2 stars, 1 – 1 star

Comic ratings: 1 – 5 star, 1 – 4 star, 2 – 3 stars

I would love to hear from any readers in the comments.

How many books did you read in last year? What were your favs?

Wishing you all Happy Reading for 2019!


Showcase of some of my favorites from 2018 are below…

Five Star Books

Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1
A Space Adventure Anthology
by J. D. BeckwithMy Book
Planetary: Mercury by Superversive Press (includes a short story by ME!)

My Review

A Place For War (Z-Day #3) by Daniel Humphreys

My Review

I Am Justice (The Frontiers Saga: Part 2: Rogue Castes #9) by Ryk Brown

My Review

Islands of Rage & Hope (Black Tide Rising #3) by John Ringo

My Review

Critical Role – Vox Machina: Origins #1, #2 & #3 by Matthew Colville & Matthew Mercer

No Written Review – Buy Here

Four Star Books

Planetary: Venus by Superversive Press (includes a short story by ME!)

My Review


Fade & Night’s Black Agents by Daniel Humphreys

My Review

Retaliation (The Frontiers Saga: Part 2: Rogue Castes #10) by Ryk Brown

My Review

Strands of Sorrow (Black Tide Rising #4) by John Ringo

My Review

CTRL ALT Revolt!
(Soda Pop Soldier 0.5)
by Nick ColeMy Review
Critical Role – Vox Machina: Origins #1, #2 & #3 by Matthew Colville & Matthew Mercer

No Written Review – Buy Here

 

Review: Freelancer (#1) by Jake Lingwall

Freelancer

Freelancer by Jake Lingwall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review is going to sound a bit critical (“surprise, surprise” says anyone who knows me and/or my reviews), but I don’t mean it be taken as a negative review. I like this book. It is a good read and I do recommend it for anyone with an appreciation of YA fiction or just fun reads. The critical part is for the character ‘as written’–which was very consistent– and a bit of the world concept.

Now, when I first started reading this I found myself being fairly critical of the writing style. It does not start out with polish and feels a bit choppy. It seems like it could be ‘first time author’ syndrome or maybe just YA style. There were also some fairly apparent editing issues that jumped out at me while in hyper-critical mode. Fortunately, I was able to push that aside (or got used to it – shrug) and continue with the book, which turned into a fairly decent read.

The plot begins in the not-so-distant future where single-day school weeks, auto-everythings, instant stuff-printers, and ubiquitous drones make the life of a teenager almost bearable. The setting is North Carolina during a time of political unrest that is about to erupt into full-fledged civil war between the coastal states and the Middle States of the U.S. The MC is a senior in high-school who just wants to finish the mandatory indoctrination called ‘school’ and continue with her clandestine preoccupation with designing and building new and wondrous technical marvels as a Freelance hacker savant. All this is a young person’s realm. I’m sure my teen-self would have loved this book very much and found nothing amiss. My much older cynical-self just chuckles at the naivete. It’s still a decent read because the characters are realistic (if naive and a bit Mary Sue… but that’s YA in a nutshell), and the plot/pacing continues to pull the reader forward into the tale.

The high moral stance of being neutral on a pending civil war in the U.S. was an odd choice. It’s a theme throughout, but only the incompetence of the antagonist & the graciousness of the ‘enemy’ allows it to exist and succeed. I think real world exigencies would not be so gentle. Still, I have to reiterate that the book is a good read and worth continuation of the series to find out what happens next. I plan to pick it up.

I give this one three stars and call it an entertaining read.

View all my reviews

Pick up a copy of Freelancer free on Amazon through K.U.


You can check out my pantsing products over on Amazon.com! I currently have two books published. Both are available on Kindle Unlimited, and on Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for free if you have Amazon Prime. Grab a copy and tell me what a black pot I am! Or leave a glowing review… I’ll take either, just read it! 🙂

Peacekeeper Incorporated’s breakthrough nanotechnology could bring repeat offense crime to an end, freeing society from the need for criminal incarcerations. But first, they have to finish testing it. With funding on the line, and time to prove out the project getting short, the lead scientist must find a way speed things up. That’s unfortunate for his guinea pig, and anyone who would stand in his way.

Can the goal of ending most crime justify committing one… even a few? And what happens when you conflate altruism with egotism?

Find out in eConscience Beta, where two lab techs and an uncouth petty criminal must outwit a brilliant but sociopathic scientist who’ll stop at nothing to establish his legacy as the man who ended crime.


If Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

HAPPY READING!

Review: Planetary Anthology: Venus

It’s been a loooong time coming for this review. This will most likely be the last review of the year for the blog as well. I might be able to get one more in, but it’s doubtful. I’m way behind on all the things, including the prophesied ‘regular’ posts here. Oh well, I should know better than to make promises, even halfhearted ones.

Anyway, without further ado… adieu.. I do… do you? Here’s the review.

Planetary: VenusPlanetary: Venus by A.M. Freeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second anthology in the Planetary Series by Superversive.

Boilerplate disclaimer: Firstly, I have to state for the record that I am an author in this anthology. Secondly, I also state that the opinions expressed in this review are mine alone, and are mostly for my own remembrance of the stories. I do this with all anthologies I read (and books, too). My reviews of individual stories sometimes contain spoilers, so read them at your own risk if you have not yet read the book.

The theme of the anthology is love and the planet Venus. You get a mix of and co-mingling of those in all the stories. Some end on an emotional high, while others end on a poignant emotional low. They are a great mix of stories that are well written and showcase a mixture of styles, genres and authors. If you read it, you are bound to find at least one author you would like to read more from. I know I did.

Don’t read further if you are worried about spoilers. I try not to, but it is difficult with short stories. Plus, this is intended for me to remember with, and other interested parties to compare notes.

Just Look, I’ll Be There by A. M. Freeman

A very retro romance feeling story of young man who’s passions drive him to make his own way in the universe until he eventually realizes he’s left the true passion of the love of his life back home.

I will describe this one as quaint, well written, but not my taste in genre. It brings to my mind adjectives like ‘sappy’ and ‘gooey,’ so if you like that, then you will appreciate this short tale of love and heroism.

Morning And Evening Star by David Hallquist

A prosperous man tries to provide the greatest treasure to his new bride that he possibly can… a palace in the skies of Venus. What he fails to realize is that she wants him more than any treasure.

The story has a futuristic Great Gatsby feel to it. Fatalistic but determined (if I remember that book right… it’s what came to my mind at any rate). Again, not a genre I appreciate overmuch. The story is a short read that brings a lot of character development quickly. You know who these people are at the end which is quite an accomplishment in such a short form. Impressive storytelling.

Ninety Seconds by Bokerah Brumley

An adrenaline junky, who makes his living by showing his extreme sports activities, heads to Venus to film a space-dive from above the planet. There he finds something even more thrilling than anything he’s experienced before.

This one is hard to talk about without spoilers. It is a well-woven tale that pulled in the sci-fi fan in me with its fantastic futuristic descriptions of places high in the sky, then hooked me firmly in place with a gripping story of a young man who falls from a force more powerful than gravity. I don’t read romance as a general rule, but this story is amazing. It brought a sparkle of teary-eyed happiness to an old curmudgeon’s day! Read this one even if you skip everything else!

The Wrong Venus by Lou Antonelli

A master criminal is more well-known for his ability to escape from jail than for the crimes he committed to get there. It’s almost as if he is the luckiest person in the solar system… or knows something everyone else doesn’t.

Also hard to avoid spoiling, this tale takes an odd direction early on. It is quick, well written, and NOT about Venus. That’s all I’ll say. It’s great! Go read it!

Enemy Beloved by Monalisa Foster

The title kind of says it all for this story.
I want to discuss this one, but I can’t without spoiling the plot, so skip the next paragraph if you don’t want spoilers. If you do, highlight it to see the text.

<start spoiler text>On a Venus in the far past or far future, a young woman finds a survivor of a crashed spacecraft. She helps him to heal and only finds out the truth of his origin after she is enamored with him, and he with her. But their people are enemies, and his are determined to destroy hers, their former masters, just as they have throughout the galaxy. Her choice is impossible… her people… or her lover. </end spoiler text>

Now, anyone left of a Stepford Wife will probably at least go ‘hmmm’ at some of the scenes in this story… unless you read a lot of books with Fabio on the cover… in which case you might go ‘ooohh’ instead. It’s racy romance of a ‘man takes the woman’ variety that would make a #metoo-er clutch pearls and seek a safe-space. It’s also a really good story. It’s not my flavor, but it it’s well written and the emotions of the characters come through loud and clear! If you are a feminist, you probably didn’t make it this far into the book anyway, but if you plan to skim… skip it. If you like steamy romance, it should be right up your alley!

Texente Tela Veneris by Edward Willett

A husband and wife who probably should never have been together find a second chance at happiness on a remote Grecian island through the power of Venus the Weaver… but not how you might think.

A quick, fun, if predictable tale that blends modern society with ancient Greek legend. It has a Fantasy Island vibe to it to me. Nicely written.

The Happiest Place On Earth by Misha Burnett

Animatronic advances lead to sentient A.I.’s that survive the plague apocalypse. They have no purpose without people, though, until the last one shows up at their gates.

This story is both good and horrible. Good and horrible… is that a thing? This seems to be a pattern in stories written by Misha Burnett. It is a dark story of the future (reminded me of the little boy in A.I. sitting on the bottom of the ocean) in which robots made to bring joy and happiness, are left with purposelessness after societies fall. It is also very poignant at its end, which I won’t give away. I do recommend you read it. I found it cathartic.

Love Boat To Venus by Declan Finn

Something about mercenary ninjas giving marital (not martial.. although the two are often conflated) advice to another young couple of mercenary ninjas as they take out a team of assassins on a space ship. It was over before it started. I was confused. Didn’t like it enough to go back and figure it out. Different boats for different floaters and all that.

Venus Times Three by Margot St. Aubin

Two brothers from a family of lawyers head to Mars to settle the estate of a avariciously wealthy client and family friend; the stakes of which involved the ownership of Venus itself. Who will inherit? What is the ‘special nature’ of an unknown beauty who holds part of the will itself. Even murdering heirs seems to be on the table.

This on is a great mystery woven with detail. It seemed like the opening of a novel, but does have an ending. It was definitely caught up in it. I recommend it.

Avalon by Dawn Witzke

Prince Arthur and Merlin leave their home planet of Dora 5 and head to Venus to attend Avalon College. Merlin has hopes to become a person in his own right instead of just the sidekick of the Prince. Then he meets the Lady of the Lake… or the refugee in the aquarium on the Avalon Space Station.

A neat twist to the Arthurian Legend. A cute short tale that seems to be the opening of a larger tale… one I would not mind reading, actually.

The Rituals of Venus by Joshua M. Young

Both a sequel and a prequel to The Haunted Mines of Mercury, this tale is one of heroism, love, and faith. A man who happens to find a beautiful woman about to be sacrificed by cultists interferes. The resulting time trying to survive brings them to the point of love, but tragedy is not far behind.
I sincerely hope that Joshua Young finishes this series. It has a deeper meaning and is also a well written and exciting action adventure tale. Go read the first one in the Mercury Anthology if you haven’t already. You should probably read it first because even though this one could be a stand-alone story, the first one provides some context to things referenced here. A top notch tale!

First Cat In Space by Dana Bell

A boy and his cat share a harrowing adventure on a trip to Venus.
Super short, and awesome. And cats!

Venus Felix by W. J. Hayes

A detective for hire is caught in the middle of a setup to steal a sensitive message being delivered by a personal courier service. The courier is a woman who is much more than she seems… and so is the setup.

This one is a fun, fast-paced story of interplanetary intrigue and humor in old gumshoe pulp detective story style. I enjoyed it even if I was able to predict the plot.

The Rocket Raising by Frederic Himebaugh

An Amish space colony is called upon to send genetically compatible young men and women to another colony far away. Those selected must choose to answer the call if it is God’s will, leaving everyone and everything they know behind, or refuse and pass the burden on to another. One young woman must also abandon a hoped for betrothed in the process… but how can she choose?

A great tale with some insight into the Amish way of life and thinking. (Accurate? I don’t know.) I really enjoyed this one. It’s the second ‘Amish Sci-Fi’ tale I’ve read and been surprised by.

Star-Crossed by Julie Frost

A werewolf detective sets out on a mission to help a vampire avenge the death of her lover from a rival vampiric clan, but things get… complicated.

An intriguing story from an intriguing world where vampires, werewolves, and who knows what are a real thing that the world deals with on the day-to-day.

Honeymoon in Fairyland by L. Jagi Lamplighter

This tale from the Prospero’s Daughter universe (I think that’s right.) high-lights the issues with being married to an elf, especially one with power and influence. Despite promises, becoming involved in even the smallest of details of the Gods is often much more complex than mortals can handle… especially when you are on your honeymoon.

I find the stories in this series to be quite enjoyable. The one from the Mercury anthology was, to me, the best in the collection. This one is also quite entertaining.

Thirty-Seven Shades of Yellow by J.D. Beckwith <– Yep, this one is mine 🙂

You might not think anyone who keeps repeatedly stating that ‘romance is not my genre’ would actually write a romantic tale. Au contraire, mon frere… that French talk right there… I wrote an action story about planetary colonization with a love interest twist to it… because Venus. I hope you enjoy it!

The Fox’s Fire by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

The Fox Spirit, Ryoko, is lured to primitive America by Coyote, the Trickster God. There she sees a Native American man, and—as is the way with spirits—falls madly in love with him at first sight… just as Coyote hoped.

A nice folklore type tale. I was a bit confused at the start, having never heard of the fox spirit and its powers before. Once I caught on, the story unfolded in a way that kept me interested in the outcome. It is over-verbose at the start, but that fades into the background once the setting and plot is in full swing.

Smiley The Robot by Amy Sterling Casil

A woman of extended years has lived alone for a very long time. Her only company is a robot police officer, Smiley, who visits on Tuesdays.
This story is a tie for ‘Best In Book’ for me. It pulled my heartstrings and made me wish my grandmother was still around so that I could give her a big ole hug! Read it, and keep a tissue handy!

Stones In High Places by Jane Lebak

The long lived Venusians have grown complacent, letting robotics handle all their needs. So much so, that they can no longer innovate. When the twin planet to their own is threatened by a rogue planetoid, they are left with a hard choice.

This is a great conjecture story of ‘what might have happened’ in our planet’s past. It posits that even in alien cultures, the greatest love is self-sacrifice. It was a great ending to a great series of stories.

Now for a little self-plugging. Check out the books I’ve published!

If you like intrigue mixed with humor, get my technothriller, eConscience Beta on Amazon.

But, if Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

Happy Reading!

Review: A Place For War (Z-Day #3)

Today is the official Release Day for this book. Daniel Humphreys is kicking it off by having a $0.99 sale on his first two books in the series at Amazon.com, so don’t miss out!

A Place Outside The Wild (Z-Day #1)

A Place Called Hope (Z-Day #2)

Now on to the review of Book #3!

A Place For War (Z-Day #3)A Place For War by Daniel Humphreys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A spectacular conclusion to a series that puts the Zombie Apocalypse trope on its head.

I had the privileged of being a Beta Reader for this novel, so I did get a free copy. Nevertheless, the 5 stars are all earned.

A Place Outside The Wild & A Place Called Hope were great ZA books about making the best of the worst of situations and scratching to find a way to live.

A Place for War pushes past the survivor aspect straight to the in-your-face, take-back-what’s-ours, kick-those-zombies-in-their-teeth action of a mil-sf novel. Plot points are resolved, secrets are revealed, and the struggle reaches its climax. You won’t be able to put this one down, trust me.

I highly recommend this book, and the entire series to anyone who likes apocalyptic fiction, science fiction or just some good ole zombie fights!

Get a copy from Amazon. It’s in KU if you are subscribed, and you can read it for free on your Kindle (one book per month with Kindle Owner’s Lending Library) if you have Prime.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.


Oh, and if you happen to like intrigue, you can also get my book, eConscience Beta the same way.

But, if Science Fiction Space Adventure is more your speed, then you should check out my anthology, Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1.

Review: Retaliation (The Frontiers Saga: Part 2: Rogue Castes, #10)

Hey! Look! It’s a blog post from Words from the Wampuscat! It’s been a month since that happened last!

I am so far behind on reviews and posts that it is not funny. That’s because I’ve been doing things. I need to write an update post on that, but first… a book review!

RetaliationRetaliation (The Frontiers Saga: Part 2: Rogue Castes, #10) by Ryk Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great installment to the series with plenty of fast-paced action. The plot lines are coming together nicely, and we are starting to see both a tipping point and an expansion point for the story. The only complaint I have for this book is a similar one I’ve had before… character waffling, which I’ll explain in a bit. Otherwise, I can definitely give this book four stars and call it an Action Packed Read.

Now, on to the details… don’t read further if you don’t like spoilers. Or criticisms, because I’m about to be a bit critical.

Picking up where the last the book left off, we are dropped right in the middle of a sudden scrap on the new found ally world of… uhm… that place where they went and did the thing. Casaba? Casbon? Where they did the deal for the new-new-new fighter ships. You remember? So yeah, they fight there, then we see them fighting back at the Samurai Planet. Then, more fighting to keep from having to fight more, after which they decide they should go fight more to keep from having to fight more later and also right now.

I know, it sounds complicated, right? But remember, Nathan Scott is a super genius who always know the right thing to do, especially when people who are a lot smarter than him tell him he shouldn’t. But he does it anyway, and it works, so there you go. Oh, and he also Captain Kirk’s the dangerous missions too. That’s because he’s both indispensable to the cause because no one would keep fighting if he wasn’t alive to lead it, and also because he cannot be seen as not fighting in the front lines because no one would follow him otherwise, and… yeah, that all ties right into the problem I’ve been having. Waffling logic explained away as a character flaw… in ALL the characters. It’s getting old.

I love the books. I love the action. I love the plot twists. I love the tech and the tech advances (although I still don’t understand why you have to be pointed in a certain direction to use the jump drive when it’s not based on momentum). And I love the characters too, but they are all flawed in the exact same way… Ignore logic and their own previously stated convictions if it’s in the name of saving a single individual or pursing a really cool idea/goal.

Sigh. Oh well, nothing is perfect. I just needed to vent that, I guess. Besides, writing is hard. I choose to give the benefit of the doubt and suspend disbelief for the sake of an enjoyable story, which this series most certainly is.

Happy Reading!

Buy it on Amazon.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Review: I Am Justice (The Frontiers Saga: Part 2: Rogue Castes, #9)

I Am Justice (The Frontiers Saga: Part 2: Rogue Castes, #9)I Am Justice by Ryk Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An outstanding episode that gets back to tactical space battles on top of the back-alley intrigue and in your face firefights! Don’t hesitate to pick this one up!

The stakes continue to rise in this new episode of The Frontiers Saga. Side trips to gather influence and arms, new and improved tech on the way, sheer terror and narrow escapes all await you within this volume. Ryk Brown knocked this one out of the park.

If you’re a follower of the series, you will most likely enjoy this book. If you haven’t read from the start of the series, however, you will most likely not get the impact of certain events, nor understand the major goings-on. So, if you haven’t, go back a read from the start. I actually suggest starting with Part 1 so that you can see the characters and universe evolve from start to finish.

I give this episode a solid 5 stars and call it a Well Rounded Read.


If you are looking for more interesting Space Adventure type stories you should get a copy of my book:

Horizons Unlimited: Volume 1 – A Space Adventure Anthology

It has three great short-stories that are all in the same universe, including an exclusive 50,000 word novella titled Escaping Aurora.

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HORIZONS UNLIMITED

Matter conversion technology—Matt-Con—has broadened the scope of mankind’s existence. It has opened up the real possibility of viable colonies on other planets in our solar system, and even space itself. Anywhere matter can be captured or energy from the sun can be felt, the possibility of expanding human habitation exists.

In this volume:

Quicksilver

The space station Chariot of Helios—on its way to Mercury to become a power collection station for Earth’s growing need for energy to power matt-con tech—encounters a strange anomaly that threatens ship and crew.

Null Gravitas

Sometimes even life in space needs a bit of humor. This short is a romantic interlude just prior to the events of Escaping Aurora.

Escaping Aurora

The sudden destruction of mankind’s first atmospheric terraforming platform leaves three unlucky exonauts struggling to survive in the skies of Venus aboard a cobbled-together airship. Meanwhile, the commander of the space station above battles obstacles that might keep her from rescuing her stranded husband and crew in time.

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Review: CTRL-ALT-Revolt! by Nick Cole

CTRL ALT Revolt!CTRL ALT Revolt! by Nick Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Dragon Award winner does not disappoint! If you want the non-liberal, non-teen-angst version of Ready Player One, this is it!

From the start you might wonder just what the heck is going on. A flood of mostly familiar, but slightly altered, corporatrade extravagances are presented to you as the smorgasbord platter of delights available to an up-and-coming MMORPG Dev named Ninety-Nine Fishbein (yeah, that’s his real name). If you didn’t understand that last sentence, you may be in for a head-spin. If you can hold on for the ride, though, you are in for a treat!

Imagine a very near future where corporatism propped up by government nanny-state-ism has become the norm for that majority of the population. In a world of technological wonders and better than average living conditions, an unmotivated populous allows itself to be herded into dead end living arrangements that it ignores because of the freebies it gets. I’m not sure how this state of affairs manages to support itself. Maybe it’s the machines that are doing all the work. Of course, that means you need smarter, more sophisticated, machines. And that, as we all know, means Terminators. Only this one calls itself SILAS. Not sure why.

The story is an action packed page turner that takes you into the lives of the denizens of this world during the advent of a cybergeddon. And, as you would imagine, most of it takes place inside the worlds of video games such as Star Trek Empires and the soon to be released Island Pirates!. [No, these are not real, but they SHOULD BE!]

The plot is awesome, the characters vivid, and the action non-stop on multiple fronts. The only negatives that keep me from giving it that fifth star is the politi-bombs and the double-take ending. By politi-bombs, I mean the political ideas that hit me in the face and threw me out of the story (not that I had angst from the ideas, but they were just too blatant – which I find irritating no matter what the flavor). I could have overlooked that, being that it was a major part of the story’s background and world-building, but… The ending was going very well, then ‘poof’ I got hit with two major new concepts without lead-in or explanation. It didn’t make it bad, it just kicked me out at the end of a very exciting moment. That made the dropped star necessary.

Still, this book was a delight to read. I’ve not had a page turner that kept me awake to find out what happens next in quite a while. I give this on four stars and call it a Super Charged Read!

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Review: Fade & Night’s Black Agents (Paxton Locke #1 & 2)

I decided to do this review blog as a two-in-one. I read the first two books in Daniel Humphreys’ Paxton Locke series because I got to be Tuckerized (and red-shirted!) in book two. Of course, that meant I had to read from the start. Now I’m totally hooked on this incredible series!

So, here are my reviews (on Goodreads) for both books. Enjoy.

Autograph - Daniel Humphreys - Night's Black Agents.jpg
Signed book placard from LibertyCon


Fade (Paxton Locke Book 1)Fade by Daniel Humphreys

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Contemporary Paranormal Fantasy. That’s the term that comes to mind for this book. Yes, there is a mixture of horror, but paranormal captures that, I think. This is not my normal genre (let’s face it, I’m a sci-fi junkie), but I have two ulterior motives for picking this one up.

1) I beta read for Daniel Humpreys’ Z-Day series.
2) I’m a red-shirt character in book 2 of this series.

The book was not given to me, however. Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, here’s the review.

SHIVER! GASP! ZOOM! BANG! POW! HOLY…!

These are the typical onomotopiatic & exclamatory words you will generate in your mind as you read this book. It starts you at the top of the roller-coaster drop, then yanks the track out from under you, then turns on the jet engine on the back car. Now we’re not talking about combat or physical action here… we’re talking about suspense building. You don’t get a break. The reveal for the first bit of tension is done in the middle of the build-up of the next.

Am I exaggerating a bit? Maybe a little, but I’m telling you this book is well written, and a page turner. It has some of the best ‘info-dump hidden within the scenes’ writing I have seen in quite a while. Even the backstory portions are so tantalizing that when they interrupt the main action, you don’t want to stop hearing THAT PART to go back the first.

I guess I should mention what it’s about. Paxton Locke, a man in his mid 20s, is a ghost hunter. His ability is an after-effect of some really ghoulish crap foisted upon him by his demented mother some 10 years previous. I won’t spoil anything else. Think Paranormal (TV) crossed with Dresden Files, crossed with… well, that other thing that happens in book 2.

If you like paranormal, read this book. If you like ‘urban fantasy’ in it’s current definition (circa 2018), read this book. Mystery, thriller, horror… yep, those too. These are not my typical reading genres, but this book still pulled me in for the ride.

I give this book four stars and call it an engrossing read.


Night's Black Agents (Paxton Locke #2)Night’s Black Agents by Daniel Humphreys

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Picking up where the first book left off, Paxton Locke tries to move on with his self-appointed task of ridding the world of ghosts… and maybe his mother the witch… the real kind.

So, disclaimer… I bought this book, but:
1) I beta read for Daniel Humpreys’ Z-Day series.
2) I’m a red-shirt character IN THIS BOOK.

There. Now the review.

HOLY CRAP! There is a lot to digest in this one. While a bit slower than book 1, it is chock-full of reveals and new twists that move the series to a whole different level.

The main character is starting to realize that his little ‘dismiss the ghosts’ thing is just the frost on the tip of the paranormal iceberg. While he is helping his stand-in father-figure to solve some really strange goings-on in Denver, his fugitive Mommy Dearest is tearing around the country gathering her power to… well, gather more power. And a shadow agency begins to reveal its presence to the reader as well. The book is just as engrossing as the first, but for different reasons. You get many new characters with backstory teasers you have to keep reading to figure out. You get much more in depth into Helen Locke’s personality (can you say, ‘Bitch’ with a capital ‘B’?) And you get sucked into a whole other arc of story that is seperate, but just as deadly. It’s a wild ride.

My only complaint is the cliffhanger ending. I plan to keep reading the series, but I don’t like books that end with serious unfinished business. Robert Jordan burned me out of that. Hopefully, the next book will be out soon, though, so I won’t have to wait long to find out what’s next.

I give this book four stars and call it a ‘The Hits Keep Coming’ read.

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Review: Speed of Sound by Eric Bernt

The Speed of Sound (Speed of Sound Thrillers #1)The Speed of Sound by Eric Bernt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I decided to read this book for three reasons: 1) It showed up as a search result when I was setting up an Amazon ad for my own book. 2) It was a thriller of a somewhat ‘techno’ variety. 3) It had a character who was a high functioning autistic, and I wanted to see what the author’s take on that would be. I have another book idea that I shelved a long while back that requires more research in that area. I decided to try this one even though the science of the main technology is complete BS. I shoved that into the ‘suspended disbelief’ folder as soon as I started. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

Since this was a research read, rather than an enjoyment read, this review is going to be a critique. If you are looking for a recommendation on whether to read it or not, I think you should weigh my rating and comments on the side of YMMV. This is outside my normal Science Fiction genre.

——————–Flaws – Major & Minor——————

  • The book starts slowly, even with the opening intrigue. It is overly long, and could probably use some truncation.
  • There are parts where it seems the author summarized some wikipedia excerpts in his description of certain things creating mini-info-dumps that broke the flow of the story.
  • The head jumping is absolutely atrocious (a special thanks to my own editor for pointing out this faux pas in my own writing… it’s hard to see if you don’t know to look for it.)
  • There is a distinct contradiction in what is said about the hyper-competence of some of the characters versus how they actually perform. It could have been played off as ego had the descriptions not been written from the omniscient point of view, unfortunately, it was given as fact rather than self-opinion. Also, it becomes very difficult for me to suspend disbelief when every character is hyper-competent. This book is chock full of Mary Sues and Marty Stus.
  • One other issue that I did not care for was super-short chapter sizes. 114 chapters is a LOT of chapter for a book. It made it feel like more a slog to me. That’s a nitpick though.

———————————————————————

All that being said, the plot was decent, if unsurprising, and the main characters were fleshed out well. I did have a vested interest in reading to the end after I made it past the slow start hurdle.

These issues cost the book two stars in the rating. I would have given it a solid three had the next part not been true as well.

While the political leanings of the author are fairly well hidden, the fact that he has characters who buy into the ‘G.W. Bush was stupid’ song and dance, I’m going to assign some of that to the author himself. Some subtle complaints about ‘the current president’, though never named, are transparent because the Obama admin is referenced directly as ‘former’. Kudos for subtlety, but I’m so hyper-attuned to political rhetoric at the moment that it would have been better had it been left out completely. The other negative I have is that I was never able to identify who the bad guys were. There are two groups vying for control of the main character’s invention, one is bad and the other is also bad? The puppet masters seem to be winning, but their aims and goals, other than control of the people and thus the system, are left too vague. They are Ober Deep State, but what is their ultimate goal? The hook for the sequel is left dangling for you, but I don’t think I’m going to bite.

So, that is what lost half of the third star. Unfinished business and not-quite-subtle-enough political jibes.

Then there is the complete crap-bomb fail that made me question… no, actually, it made me completely shit-can that validity of the autistic traits expressed by the character, which was one of the main reasons I read the book. The fail is not even about that, but it is so blatantly stupid that it made me question the research used for all aspects of the book.

First, let me state emphatically that I am not a gun nut. I have a novice familiarity with them. I read a lot of Mil-Sci-Fi, but I am no expert. But you don’t have to be to see this mistake. Chapter 77 (did I mention there were a LOT of chapters in this book?): An SR-25 Sniper rifle does not use .22 cal bullets. A .22 cal bullet does not do significant damage to a chest cavity from a distance. There is a cut-and-paste description of the sniper rifle and a reference to part interchangablity that is used, but the author & editors could not get the fact that the weapon uses a 7.62 Nato round into the next paragraph correctly. For a spy thriller this is inexcusable. I knew that a .22 bullet was not capable of doing the damage described, so I looked up the gun using my smartphone. Wikipedia literally lists the ammo type in the first paragraph. Inexcusable. It was at that point I realized I could not trust any of the ‘facts’ in the book. This means I had pushed through a hard point in a book, giving it the benefit of the doubt because I wanted to know more about autistic behavior patters, only to realize at 71% thought that the author doesn’t know how to do his homework right. headdesk.

That’s why the book only gets 2 stars and a really detailed review that shows all the flaws I saw.

If you like Thrillers with intrigue, accuracy & plausability… skip it.

If you just want to read Rainman vs the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, go for it.

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