Book Review: The Legion Awakes by J.R. Handley

Book Review: The Legion Awakes by J.R. Handley
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All images were provided with and by permission from J.R. Handley. Any redistribution without his written consent is in violation of copyright doctrine.

Character:  Lance is memorable, and he’s compelling to read about in an 1980’s action movie sort of way. What this book makes up for in pace and excitement, Handley gives up a bit in terms of character. It’s not that Lance isn’t cool; It’s not even that there aren’t other cool characters. The problem is characters get thrown at the reader very quickly, and readers don’t get a lot of time in their heads. Basil is probably my favorite character. He also has the most satisfying arc. I remember Wires because of the nickname, but that’s about it. That said, this felt like an informed decision on the part of J.R (who most of you know is a friend of mine).  This area is probably the weakest of the book for that reason, but I repeat this is because Lance is so powerful and there are SO many other characters we don’t get a chance to learn about.

Worldbuilding:  So I understand that Sleeping Legion is a sub-set of the Human Legion saga. There’s a bit of a struggle (very small mind you). I think if you’re a fan of Human Legion, you’ll burn through this without issue, but there are some pieces of information that bring questions to those who haven’t read that universe. I equate it to people who watch something like Doctor Strange without seeing the other MCU movies. You don’t ACTUALLY need it to understand what’s going on, but it probably increases the enjoyability.  If you’ve read both, I’d be curious to hear if you agree in the comments below. What I will say is the world building we need to understand is laid out for the reader in a plot relevant style.

17035309_1868128633457762_1660927310_nDialogue:  It’s solid, though I wouldn’t be able to argue with those who say some characters sound alike. Lance steals the show for the most part. What the book lacks in voice, it makes up for in mannerisms that are indeed unique to the characters. As a military guy, what’s nice about the dialogue is the natural flow of the military conversations. This book does a great job of mixing up the odd manner service members have of mixing high intensity conversations with light hearted topics that break that tension. It’s realistic. If you’re a service member, you get it.

Description: Depending on who you are, this is either the strongest part of Handley’s game or the weakest. I’m not a fan of description, so the sparse details don’t bother me a bit. It allows the plot to surge forward at a breakneck pace.  Again, I’m not actually a science fiction reader. High fantasy (probably my favorite genre) is very detail obsessive. So if you’re looking for schematic ready description, you’ll probably be disappointed. But you have the visuals you need to move along. Like I said, I’m honestly very interested to hear what fans of this genre have to say on the matter. For my money, I don’t actually care about the layout, specks of the weapons or things like that. I wouldn’t say no to a few more beats of description, but I honestly didn’t miss it.

15673254_1834716943465598_837346620_nOverall: Lance plus a relentless plot pace makes this a really enjoyable book. J.R. makes no excuses or apologies for what he writes, and I’m in agreement with him. This is plup fiction, action oriented storytelling. Any reader could zip through this book during a large meal and a tasty desert. (No, really! I totally read this in about a week, which in Matt’s reading time is about two days…maybe 5 hours of reading time. That’s LUDICROUS Speed at it’s finest).  At the end of the day this is a pleasant, action-packed story that blends elements of 1980s action movies with science fiction themes.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Announcing the February Book Cover of the Month!

Announcing the February Book Cover of the Month!

Another bracket has concluded, and I’m still amazed at how popular this is getting. I’d like to set a goal to do better each month, which we didn’t do this month, but we still had an amazing turnout. As I type this, we had a total of 3,911 votes. It’s just humbling to see the support people are showing these authors and their covers. Last month, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure March was going to hold up against January. I feel confident that March is going to be even tougher. But that’s the past, and the future. It’s time to talk about the present.

The February Book Cover of the Month is…

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This cover and other associated images are used for review under fair use doctrine. They’re also used with the permission of the author. Any unauthorized reuse or appropriation of these images are done so against the permission of the work’s right to distribute.

The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.

Deyo is the first author to win a BCOTM competition as a previous month’s alternate. He lost to Loveless last month, and was hell-bent on not losing this time. Let’s look at the stats!

The Unleashed started out strong and finished superhuman. He went Hulk in the semifinals and didn’t slow down very much in the Finals. I was talking to both he and Joshua Robertson during the semifinals, and they were both going out of their minds looking for ways to get word out about the bracket. The Unleashed received 802 out of 3,911 total votes (21%, give or take what votes may come in the next 40 minutes). Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan couldn’t muster up enough votes to take down Deyo. Sullivan’s 320 total votes still don’t compete with Anaerfell’s 574 votes. Or even the 350 votes Robertson garnered in the last round alone. Without intending disrespect to Mr. Sullivan, it looked like the winner of his previous match was just going to be too tough to take down.  Deyo took the finals 184-32.

The Unleashed is the second book in the Undelightened Series. Here’s the summary on Amazon:

 

(START BLURB)

Leam Holt has done the unthinkable. He’s saved Harbing from utter destruction by consuming the toxin that was intended for the entire town and he’s rescued Eloa’s father from Darkness Headquarters.

But at what cost? Stricken by the poison and unable to remember who he is or access his Light side, Leam is captured by Gideon. Surrounded by evil, Leam revels in his undiluted Dark power and connects with other violent and corrupt kids, especially the bold and gorgeous Rylan. Still, Leam struggles to piece together his memories, including those of the beautiful Eloa, whom he discovers is in grave danger.

While forces of Light work to free Leam, the world is thrown into turmoil. The battle over the prophet, the person who will lead the world into complete Darkness or Light, is heating up, and Leam’s role in the war grows murkier.

(END BLURB)

As always, I’ve purchased the book and added it to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I bought Manning’s cover, and Howard’s cover and they are also on my TBR. Manning’s is on deck while I finish reading the book I just started this week.)

Here’s Mr. Deyo’s Facebook page. Give him a like if you’re curious about his work.

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This image of Mr. Deyo was taken from his website with his knowledge and permission.

The artist for this cover is Lisa Pompillo.  I’ll reach out to her and see if she’d like to have an interview later on in the week.  Until then, have a peek at her website and see her work! Mr. Deyo was kind enough to offer the following comment:

“It’s a great cover,” he said. “The book ain’t half bad either. Thanks for the votes!” Then he used a smiley face emoji with shades, but I don’t speak emoji, so I can’t replicate it. I am, however, obsessed with accurate reporting, so there ya go!

The March bracket is ready to go and will launch on April 1. It looks great, and I’m pretty pleased with how April is setting up.

I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebookpage, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading

Matt

February BCOTM Finals!

February BCOTM Finals!

The Closest Contest:

Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan edged out Heart Stone by Elle Katharine White by 9 votes, but both matches were only decided by 2% of the total votes.
Anaerfell by Joshua Robertson and J.C. Boyd vs The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo is the match of the round. They went back and forth every step of the way. Deyo had a late surged and powered through the match with a 22 vote lead. Considering that’s only 2% more, it’s not as “big” a victory as it would have been in earlier rounds.

That should help you all see The Largest Victor area, but it’s wasn’t nearly that large this round.

Most Voted On Contest:
Deyo’s match against Robertson and Boyd had 732 votes. It was amazing. Like I said, I was speaking to both authors pretty much throughout the day. It was a nail biter for me, and I had not stake in the match. THEY were working their buts off.

Head over here and vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Interview with December Book Cover of the Month Winner Amalia Chitulescu

Interview with December Book Cover of the Month Winner Amalia Chitulescu

Greetings all! I’m happy to say I’m catching up on my interviews for the Book Cover of the Month bracket. Today, I’m sharing my interview with Amalia Chitulescu, the cover artist who designed the December BCOTM winning cover, Betrayer’s Bane.

Hello Amalia! I just want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I’m a huge fan of the BCOTM brackets, and yours will always be special because it was the first. Let’s get started.

904677_568318963202210_169616517_oWhen did you get into art?

Since 2008.

How long have you been creating covers?

For almost seven years. The first cover that I realized was in 2010. By 2014, I had a break, working for a personal portfolio.

What got you started in creating covers?

Honestly, at first I started with each photo-manipulations. When I was at the beginning of my career, I never thought I would become a cover artist in the future, I was just doing what I loved. After the first client contacted me, in 2010, I started to be a lot more interested in working in this field.

Do you have someone who inspired your own work? If so, Why? Why? 

Yes. I have always loved Sandara’s artworks.

What makes you choose to work with an author or not?

I’m excited to work with anyone as long as there is a mutulal respect.

What do you look for in a great client?

There are some clients with whom I worked who showed me more than respect. They are wonderful clients who have kept their word, but in the meantime, they are also very good writers. I can also see that through the way they are lovingly describing every scene, every detail, so that the cover can be perfect. In general, I want to consider that all my clients are great.

16939298_1449172218450209_2269127847798440152_nWhat are some of your pet peeves about clients?

One of my biggest pet peeves is lack of respect. I had to deal at the beginning with some disrespectful clients, but this certainly was adjusted over time. It is true that some customers want to pay the lowest possible price for what they get, but overall, I did not have this problem.

What would an author need to do to work with you? Do you have a link to your standard rates, or do you negotiate fees by author?

I always give them a list of requirements, with everything I need to know, in order to realize the cover they dream for. I have always tried to make every author 100% happy with the final product. We must also understand each other about the deadline. I do have a price list, the price starts from a standard one, and can increase depending on the level of detail involved, the level of hand-painted elements, the author’s requests, ect.

15326549_1179426122094499_6318367043184922848_nHow did you come to be chosen to create the cover for Betrayer’s Bane?

Michael and I have worked together before. I am honored to be his cover artist.

Artistically, what were your goals for the cover?

My biggest goal for this cover was to manage to express, though an illustration, the painful feeling of the protagonist.

How was Michael to work with?

He’s always amazing. He’s a nice person. We are on the same wavelength. We understand each other very well.

Betrayer’s Bane was an awesome image. Is it your favorite? If so, why?

It is, yes. The image radiates a very strong emotion. I do not know why, but I find it easier to work in a more darker theme in the illustrations.

What can we expect to see from you next?

Hopefully many other illustrations, which I hope to enjoy and inspire you. Soon, I’ll open the website, and wills tart working on a new portfolio.

Is there anything you’d like to say to readers?

Never give up, and stay true to your dreams.

Thank you again for taking this time with us, Amalia! Best of luck in the Book Cover of the Year bracket.

END INTERVIEW

I’m honestly having a blast with this whole idea. Just having the chance to look at work and see what others think is amazing. I hope you’re all having fun voting and seeing what the artists think.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

February Final 4!

February Final 4!

We’ve narrowed a great batch of covers down to four, any of which I’d be happy to stand behind!

We broke ANOTHER round record. (Could we break a record EVERY round? That’d be awesome!)  The Elite 8 had a total of 457 (give or take whatever hashes out as Richardson and Sullivan continue to duke it out as I type this). This pushes us to 2,712 votes, every single one of which I thank you all for so very much! Even in the month of March (you all know there’s this basket ball thing right?), this bracket is still on the most popular brackets page on  Brackify.com.

Let’s look at how this round broke down:

The Closest Contest:
I’m still refreshing the bracket while I watch Dragon Legends by Ava Richardson take on Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan. That thing was CLOSE! It came down to 1 vote, but Sullivan took it and 31% of the total votes.

The Largest Victor:
Joshua Robertson and J.C. Boyd are on a tear! Their book, Anaerfell, defeated The Elven Tales by Fabi Ghittoni by 28 votes and 61% the votes for their match.

51X1Mg4IHaLMost Voted On Contest:
Not to be outdone is the match I mentioned might have a ton of votes. It didn’t disappoint. With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu vs The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo racked up 155 votes (25 more than the above contest). Deyo is BACK in the Final Four, where he fell to last month’s winner. He hasn’t gotten over that, and he’s clocking a ton of votes this time around. Anaerfell vs Unleashed is set to be another nail-biting, vote tallying monster! I’m just glad I get to watch.

Again, all contests had more than 80 votes, but Deyo’s match almost doubled the lowest voted match. By all means, support the cover you like best, but you CAN vote for every match. I had one author ask if he had to win the match AND the round, that’s not true. All you have to do is win your match, so vote in every round to make sure all the best covers move on.

Least Voted On Contest:
Hearthstone by Elle Katharine White vs Flight of the Krilo by Sam Ferguson had the fewest votes with 80.

The Final 4 ends at the strike of Midnight, March 20. That’s only 2 days, so call your friends, share my posts, get your readers engaged!

Last month was a bit odd because February is a short month. That’s not the case this time. Only the runner up to this month will get a second chance in the March bracket. So if you want to be sure you land in the Book Cover of the Year bracket, wining the month is your best bet!

 

Get out there and vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

February Book Cover of the Month Elite 8!

February Book Cover of the Month Elite 8!

Feb_Cover_Collage 8Hello everyone! The Elite 8 is here, and the voting is getting more and more difficult! I don’t get tired of saying it; this was another record-breaking round! The Sweet 16 had 788 votes, which puts us at a total of 2,255 votes so far!

 

Let’s go over some numbers:

The Closest Contest:

We had two contests come within 5 votes.  Heartstone by Elle Katharine White vs The Last Sacrifice by James A. Moore and Dragon Legends by Ava Richardson vs Surviving the Evacuation: Ireland by Frank Tayell were equally close calls with Richardson and White each wining by 5 votes and only 53% of the total votes.

The Largest Victor:
This wasn’t close by any stretch of the imagination.  With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu showed up big time against An Impossible War by Andy Remic. Beaulieu won by 45 votes, earning 71% of the total votes.

Most Voted On Contest:
I’m not sure what else Joshua Robertson, J.C. Boyd and Karpov Kinrade were doing, but they were certainly calling on their followings! Anaerfell by Robertson and Boyd narrowed out Silver Flame by Kinrade by 15 votes, which is tiny compared to the 139 votes that match received.

Least Voted On Contest:
Once again, every contest received more than 80 votes, which is great, but let’s make sure that if we call on our readers, we ask them to vote on every contest. Stone vs Sacrifice and The Destiny Thief by Luanne Bennett vs Flight of the Krilo by Sam Ferguson both only received 83 votes.

51X1Mg4IHaLMost Votes:
Anaerfell is the top dog for this round. To show you how close that match was, in terms of total votes so far, Silver Flame received 135 total votes (which is more than With Blood Upon the Sand, which is moving on). In order to move on, Robertson had to surge to receive 138 total votes.  In short, Robertson had to essentially win twice to stay in the tournament.

The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo is still the top dog in terms of overall votes with 154 votes, but Deyo is facing Beaulieu in the next round. Why does that matter? Deyo and Beaulieu are 1 and 4 respectively in terms of overall votes. It’ll take at least 80 votes to for either author to win this next round.

So now it’s on to the Elite 8!  This round will last until March 18, which is only about 4 days! I think this round might be one of the closest ever. I’m VERY curious to see which 4 you all choose to send on in the tournament.

Head over here and vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

I Received the Blogger Recognition Award!

I Received the Blogger Recognition Award!

I was looking at comments on the WordPress universe and was thrilled to learn I’d won the Blogger Recognition Award!

The classiest of classy gents, J.J. Azar was kind enough to award me this distinguished honor. It’s honestly one of the most flattering things in the world to have someone form your community feel you’re deserving of something even resembling recognition. As you’ll see below, he could have named any one of the blogs he’s following, and he felt I was one of those deserving.  Thank you, Sir.

To accept the award, I must:

Thank the blogger who nominated me and provide a link to his blog (CHECK)

Write a post to show my award (check)

Give a brief story as to how my blog got started (see below)

Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers (see below)

Select 15 other bloggers for this award (Just 15? Um…ok)

Comment on each blog to let them know I nominated them and link them to this post (pending)

 

How’d my blog get started? Well it was non-existant until Quintessential Editor sat me down and showed me how it was done.

bloggeraward

 

I wanted a central location for all things Weech. I like to do reviews, character studies, and, oh yeah! I also wrote these books I’d like to sell. I had a lot of great ideas and things I wanted to talk about in addition to the shameless self promotion, and blogging seemed like the way to go.

As for my advice:

  1. What do you do that others don’t? For a while, I think my Character Studies was something I did. There are a LOT of great blogs out there, but I really enjoy looking at characters and analyzing how and why they are effective. That was something I liked to do that I didn’t se others doing.  Then I had another idea. I’m an instructor at the Defense Information School, and I’m constantly reviewing work. I judge award contests, grade students and provide feedback. I’m also a fan of randomly staring at covers. That gave me the idea of the Book Cover of the Month. Every month, I post a bracket in which people can vote for their favorite covers. I’m still growing this, but it’s already been a ton of fun and hugely viewed. There’s a lot of wonderful people out there doing a lot of great things, but you have find the parts of yourself that make you unique and expose (the right word I promise) those vulnerabilities, those parts of yourself that make you special, to the world. If you’re only saying what other say, why should people come to your blog?
  2. Consistency is everything.  Now, it’s okay to have some elements of randomness. My BCOTM posts happen each time a new round comes up. But those who follow my blog know that they’ll see a post of some kind every Wednesday (usually a review) and every Saturday (Usually a character study). When I see someone’s reviewed my book, I post that. If there’s some news relevant to my projects, I post that as well. But I never post more than once a day, and people always know when they’re guaranteed to see something new. Also, viewers know the BCOTM posts start on the first of every month, so even that has elements of consistency.

Now, to nominate those I can. There are a lot of blogs I follow, but those below are the ones I make it a point to visit whenever I’m doing what I call, The WordPress Tour. I don’t get to do it as often as I want, but I ALWAYS try to check these guys out.

Quintessential Editor

Red String Papercuts (Steve is my Social Media and Marketing Mentor and Jessie’s poems are lovely.)

J.R. Handley blog (Great interviews and military-based posts)

The Idiot in Tin Foil (Fantastic short works)

Rough and Ready Fiction (Wonderful Web Serials.)

Sinisterdarksoul (Absolutely HAUNTING prose. Content warning.)

Elizabeth Rose’s Site (Just a great site to visit. Lot’s of good info.)

Kristen Twardowski: A Writer’s Workshop (Simple, honest musings with author related info.)

The Excited Writer (Another solid site that, like Corey, talks about balancing writing and family.)

There are more, honestly, but these are the one’s I’m pretty driven to check up on when time allows.  They’re all wonderful blogs that I think you’d either enjoy reading or learn a lot from (usually both).

I’m honestly flattered J.J. nominated me. It’s nice to feel like I’m providing value to someone.  Thank you all as always.

Thanks for reading

Matt.