Book Review: No Marine Left Behind by J.R. Handley

Book Review: No Marine Left Behind by J.R. Handley

51X3LhVUF4L._SY346_Spoiler Free Summary: No Marine Left Behind is a short story featuring Sashala Kraevoi. Author J.R. Handley gives us a deeper glimpse into one of the characters in the series. Sashala starts out leading a normal mission, but when one of her Marines ends up alone and surrounded by aliens and steeped in hopeless odds, Sashala charges to the rescue. Survival is mandatory. Escape is the goal.

Character:  Sashala is a strong character (I mean that literally, she’s physically strong), which is nice. Having served with some amazing Marines (both man and woman), I like seeing a woman take the lead now and then. For a story this short, there wasn’t a lot of room for development, but you still get to see how determined she is.  That determination is her best asset.

Exposition: I’ll admit Andrew get’s a little heavy handed here, but there’s a purpose to this. His wordplay is brilliant, but it can’t survive in dialogue alone. The humor of said word-play is more than fair compensation for the slightly higher-than-average exposition.

610MUtV2gSL._UX250_Dialogue: I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve read this story. I think some of it felt a bit “too” Marine for my taste. What I mean by this is there wasn’t much beyond the orders and stereotypical banter. It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination; it just didn’t add a lot to the character.

Description:  It didn’t bother me so much, especially with a story this short. There wasn’t a lot of description. This story is driven by action and pacing. Handley didn’t bog that down with overly descriptive blocks of information.

Overall:  This was a fun “dinner” read. (No really, I read it during a meal.) It’s action packed and full of cool fight scenes and scifi visual moments. It had an 80s action movie feel to it that I liked.

Thanks for reading


Book Review: Fortress Beta City by J.R. Handley

Book Review: Fortress Beta City by J.R. Handley
These images were provided by J.R. Handley and are used with is content. Any reuse without his permission is in violation of his copyright.

Character:  I mentioned in my review for Legion that Lance is the only character I could really hold onto.  While I still think the reader has too many characters to track, things calm down, and we do get to know more of the other characters. I remember GG, a Junton commander. Basil has an amazing hero moment!  Nhlappo is an interesting character as well.  Those characters create an effective base and allow the reader to grow closer to the characters around them. I’d say that’s a definite improvement.  Lance sort of disappears near the end of the book (not literally, like a spoiler, but his air time sort of falls off). The action is so quick, the reader shouldn’t really mind. Besides, I was more interested in GG’s arc at the time. This isn’t unexpected in a series. You’re going to meet a cast of characters, and some books may shift from character to character. I’m most looking forward to Nhlappo’s confrontation with Spartika. If book 3 delivers that, I’m a happy guy. I’d still like a bit more air time for those characters and fewer cuts to other characters, but as long as I have these guys to follow, I’ll be loyal to the series.

World building:  I still think fans of Human Legion will latch onto this more quickly, but I was able to track this story pretty effectively. Now, part of this is because one source of conflict is the survivability of the planet. This clever source of conflict allows a nube like me to get familiar with Human Legion terms and characters as I learn about the story. I didn’t feel nearly as lost in this book as I did at times in book one. Part is because I have a book under my belt, the other is because of that particular plot line.

Description: This is the strongest area of Handley’s writing. He gives the reader what he needs without taking away the readers imagination. He has a nice mix of active verbs and carefully placed adjectives that help the reader visualize through observation instead of narration. He does himself a credit with how he draws the reader in with scenes and action sequences. Action scenes are key in science fiction combat books, and Handley has that part down.

Thanks for reading,


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

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


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.



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


Book Review: How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn

Book Review: How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn
Book Cover for Review purposes under Fair Use Doctrine. Also, I want you to know what this book looks like because you need to buy it and read it

I never made it a secret that marketing is far more of a mystery to me than writing or producing a book (and I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes in those areas).

A few weeks ago, I bought one of those “marketing for dummies” books. I got one chapter in before I wanted to know if anyone had something for someone even less educated.

I read J.R. Handley’s blog a few weeks ago.  That blog led me to Joanna’s website. The website led me to her book, “How to Market a Book.”

What this book does for me is speak to me in a manner that makes sense. It’s not just a book on marketing, it’s a book about how to market my product.

At first, I started reading it like a manual. Basically, I thought, “Do all of these .things in this order.”

I don’t know why I thought this as she says one shouldn’t try all of these things at once. What I realize this does now is give several things to try at various times until I find what works for me.

Things that really worked:

There’s a segment about Twitter that I found very helpful.

wiar_how-to-market-a-bookThere are some tools here to use now and then. So this is more of a reference book than a text book. To explain: I can come back to this and study up, and then get more information when I’m ready to try something.

She gives a ton of follow-on sites, blogs, podcasts, interviews, and books that I plan on using here and there as I try different things.

The only thing I wish I could find is what I call more actionable information. I’m intuitive in my craft, but literal in my thinking. I’d kill for more specific step-by-step instructions. Like I really feel that changing keywords on Amazon might help me, but HOW do I do that?  How do I change my categories? I did a search on Author Central, but all I could find basically amounted to “send us an email.” Even then they swear we can only have “two” categories (a main and a sub) when I know for a fact that some books go four levels deep. So how to I get into THOSE categories?  With Caught coming out, I took a LOT of time finding the right book. Joanna DID give some great advice that I followed. It has to do  with looking at books you think are similar and seeing what categories they fall under.

arrows-1617376_960_720This book gave me something I desperately needed. An idea on where to step. I want more steps. I want small, baby steps, but this is a fantastic overview book with critical follow-on material. Seriously, if you’re about to publish your first book, if your book is nearly ready to come out, if your looking at releasing anytime soon, buy this book. The worst mistake I made in releasing a book was releasing a book without knowing remotely how to market a book. I truly wish I’d read this about two years ago. Even better, two years ago. I can’t stress enough how important it is to start building your platform. I’m on the right track now, but I’d be farther ahead if I gave this aspect of this business more attention.

Thanks for reading,