Story Review: Dead Reckoning by Anthony Regolino from Alien Days Anthology

Story Review: Dead Reckoning by Anthony Regolino from Alien Days Anthology
AlienDaysCover
Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Dead Reckoning by Anthony Regolino is the fourth story in the Alien Days Anthology. Bennett is dead, but that won’t stop him from having one last mission. Bennett’s death is the result of an alien weapon that imitates life, but forces the victim to drift into a vegetative state.  When offered a chance at a literal suicide mission, he takes it.

Character:  Bennett was sympathetic and proactive, which is why this story moved for me. I understood his motivation and wondered how the story might go. Given how the first part of the story works, that mystery sort of died for me (yeah, I took that pun).  My struggle is that I didn’t have a “what was gonna happen” feel for me. Now, I personally hate prequels for the same reason. If I already know what’s happening, I’m just not invested. I think if a writer does enough to make the characters matter, the story might be successful, but I’ve never seen it. 

Exposition: This was fantastic. This story moved. Sure, we get a lot of dialogue exposition (This is how you are dead but still walking), but it still came in a natural, conversational tone. So while I may not have been on the edge of my seat wondering how things would go down, I didn’t feel like I was slugging through a muddy plot to get there. 

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Image of Regolino taken from his author page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Worldbuilding: In this case the reader has to take more on faith than I think a typical SCIFI fan would like. The exposition mentioned above feels a bit like a, “just go with it, OK?” vibe. Given that I’m not the most persnickety SCIFI reader, I didn’t mind so much. My mental answer was, “OK.” This is a more character-driven story, so I don’t think the author wanted to get too caught up in the hows and whys. It didn’t bother me much, but fans of Herbert and Zahn aren’t going to want to suspend their disbelief as much as I could. 

Dialogue: There isn’t a ton of dialogue in this story, and I’d say at least forty percent of it is explaining how a story like this is possible. Still, it felt conversational, and the speakers still had a unique voice. 

Description:  I liked this aspect of the story. I say this pretty much every time, but I have no way of know who’s reading what review I do. I don’t need a ton of description. Just get my imagination going, and let said imagination take over. This story did that. I saw what I needed to see. Can I give you one character quality or descriptor for Bennett? Nope. So yeah, we probably could have had more, but I rank plot over description and character over everything. I got what I wanted from this story.

Overall: If it weren’t for the beginning of this story, I’d have put this tale at in my top three. I already mentioned why above. It’s still got some clever scenes and an interesting premise. If you’re not over invested in worldbuilding, you can give this story a chance if you want some interesting philosophical fiction with a touch of action. 

Thanks for reading

Matt

Story Review: Am I Alone? by J.R. Handley and Corey D. Truax from Alien Days Anthology

Story Review: Am I Alone? by J.R. Handley and Corey D. Truax from Alien Days Anthology
AlienDaysCover
Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Am I Alone by J.R. Handley and Corey D. Truax is the third story in the Alien Days Anthology. Alexis is a security guard in Area 51 until boredom and curiosity cause her to stop roving outside and move inside. What she finds inside will change her life forever.

Character:  Alexis is an OK character. She’s proactive. I think my beef on her is that her proactivity is the only factor to her character that I find memorable. She does a few likable things, but as the sole character in this story (more or less), she doesn’t have any opportunity to demonstrate her character traits very much. As an Odera Chronicles short story, one can imagine we’ll see more of her in future books or anthologies, but we see more happen than we see her do things. 

Exposition: This story flowed well. I felt like it had a good mix of events and backstory. The fact that there are so few characters contributes way more to the slower parts of the story than the exposition, but some will feel the story drag here and there. I just don’t think exposition is to blame.  

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Image of Mr. Truax was taken from his blog post for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Worldbuilding: As an origin story, this worked well. The story is a great teaser opening to a larger series of adventures. No, we don’t get a lot of world building, but we do get promises that invoke a desire to read in seek of fulfillment, which is the goal of a story like this in my opinion.  

Dialogue: I have to give this an N/A. There are indeed a few spoken lines in this story, but there just isn’t enough dialogue to evaluate fairly. 

Description:  This was probably one of the stronger aspects of the story. It’s a very visceral, cerebral story. We experience a lot of events that aren’t necessarily character driven. That also contributes to the slower parts of the story, but the description gives it a life that a one-character story can’t bring to itself. Honestly, I think a single person story with very few interactions is a bold writing exercise. I felt that the authors knew that, and made sure to give readers detailed, sensory-evoking scenes to offset the limited character issues. I’m not personally a fan of description, but I can recognize the wisdom in the decision making process. 

JR
Representative image of Mr. Handley was taken from his blog for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.  

Overall: I’m still not positive where I would rank my top three stories in this anthology, but I can say with certainty that this is one of them. I would have loved it as a prologue to a space-fairing adventure story. It’s enough to make me curious, where if I had time or an Audible credit I didn’t know what to do with, I’d give her a chance. However, I’m not actively refreshing my Amazon and Audible accounts to see when this book comes out. It’s a solid story that at least promises better to come. 

Thanks for reading

Matt

Stealing Freedom is Officially Available for Preorder!

Stealing Freedom is Officially Available for Preorder!

Greetings all,

StealingFreedomI’m happy to announce that Stealing Freedom, the novella originally published in The Power of Words anthology, is officially available for preorder in its own ebook edition.

Here’s the book blurb:

Ardelia Sabine is about to attempt the most legendary heist in the solar system. The anti-communication laws that have been ruthlessly enforced for the last five years have gone too far, and the collar around her daughter’s neck, which shocks anyone if they try to speak, must come off.

The one time monitor of law enforcement has now assembled the greatest collection of thieves, con-men, and hit men in history. Together, with her husband, once the greatest hacker on the planet, must take on a job that will surely get at least one of them killed.

Survival is not the objective. The goal is to shut down the servers that operate the entire system. Can they get into one of the most guarded areas on the planet? Can they steal back their right to speak from the government that silenced it?

END BLURB

This title will be only 99 cents from today until Oct. 16, when it will go up to its normal price of $2.99.

I’d say this book is a Scifi cyber heist version of Leverage. So if you like stories like that or Ocean’s 12 and you also like scifi, I think you’ll love this story.

You can get to the preorder page either by clicking the link all the way at the top or right here.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Pull by Stephen Landry

Book Review: Pull by Stephen Landry
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Cover image for the book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Pull by Stephen Landry is the first book in the Deep Darkness saga. Sev, a user who can travel through time by going into the minds of people from the past or future (think Quantum Leap only he can’t change anything), is raised in a world where an alien race is seeking to eradicate humanity along with any species dumb enough to help the humans. The three ships that carry the bulk of humanity also cary it’s most dangerous enemy: humanity.  As Sev learns more about his prophesied existence, he  learns more about the origins of humanity’s last ships and society. If they find a planet on which to settle, will there be anything left worth saving?

Character:  Sev is an interesting character. This book has sort of a Martial Arts quest feel to it where the character gets trained in the use of the time travel and combat (think Matrix). His sympathy shows in some areas. He’s compelling in his zealousness. He’s proactive and driven. His emotional journey is solid to as he continues to look for companionship even while he knows he’s already fawning over “the one who got away.” Sev is a plus for Landry.

Exposition: This was pretty solid as I remember. I did feel a bit info-dumped on at times, but, for the most part, the story’s pace seemed solid. He did a good job of mixing in the action with the exposition, but there was a lot of room for improvement.

Landry
This image of Landry was taken from his Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Dialogue: There was still some exposition in there I didn’t need, and some of it seemed a bit forced and random. I think it was improved from Sleepers, the last book from him I reviewed. The only conversations I remember are the ones in which I got plot information, which is how I know it’s wasn’t very crisp or memorable.

Description:  This is something Landry shows skill in and it is improved from the last book of his I read. He’s got a great eye for putting in nice details that bring the scene to mind. I’d be interested to see if Landry is working on TV or movie scripts. If his dialogue improved, he might have a lot going for him in that medium.

World Building: This is where Landry shines. His worlds and plots are just plain awesome. His creative ideas are fantastic. His outlining and plot points are fun. His visual style has a lot of potential, but the worlds he creates are his best assets. If this book were just edited more thoroughly, it’d be one of the best I’ve read this year; however, those issues really hurt the quality of the book overall.

Another Note on Proof Reading:  As with the last book I read from Landry, I had to post a special segment discussing the proofreading of his book. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any improvement whatsoever in this book. It’s honestly sad to see such great ideas marred by such poor editing and proofreading. I honestly couldn’t help but start counting the number of errors per page, and I got into the teens on some pages. These issues just ripped my attention away from what is honestly a fantastic story.

Overall: This concept is really cool. This story has love, tragedy, fighting, and time travel. However, it was riddled with typos and homophones. The paragraphs were sometimes a full page long, which was pretty demanding on the eye. A good copy editor could make this ok book great.

Thanks for reading

Matt

A 5-Star Review for Repressed!

A 5-Star Review for Repressed!

Greetings all,

CoverLayoutRepressed just got a five-star review! I’m always stoked when I get to share reviews, and the fact that the reader liked the book is an added bonus!

I’ve mentioned a few times that I don’t see myself doing a lot of YA. There are book sin that genre I really love, but some of the tropes I just don’t like much. So when I set out to write Repressed (and Sojourn in Captivity), I wanted to make an effort to stay true to the challenges a young adult (or teenager) faces without falling into some of the routines I didn’t appreciate in other stories.

This review is particularly fulfilling because it mentions and appreciates that I pulled away from some of the more-common plot threads in YA today.

I’m thrilled to see the first review for Repressed is positive, and I hope more keep coming. If you’ve read it, please consider leaving a review. Even if you hated it, I’d appreciate the honest criticism.

Thanks for reading,

V/R
Matt

I Proudly Present Sojourn in Captivity! My New Book is Available for Preorder

I Proudly Present Sojourn in Captivity! My New Book is Available for Preorder

Sojourn_Ebook_CoverGreetings all,

This has just been an amazing year so far, and I’m proud to say that, as stated in my State of the Weech, Sojourn in Captivity is officially available for preorder!

As usual, the book will be 99 cents from now until April 15, when it will go to it’s normal price of $2.99.

This project was actually a long time coming. It was originally going to be part of an anthology with the Slush Brain. When that fell through, I was left with a story I was still very proud of, so I decided to put it on the release schedule.

I wanted to push myself with this story, and I did. It’s based on drama, not action. It’s in first person, present tense. These are all things that are way out of my comfort zone. Not only did I grow as an author, I produced a story that I just can’t say enough about.

Here’s the official blurb:

Elele is about to meet her god. She’s about to be elevated to the highest evolved form of her species. Even as she prepares to step before the most powerful entity in the universe, she refuses to confess her secret. She doesn’t want to change.

However, the only thing worse than changing, would be failing to transform. Those who don’t evolve are regarded as Ketz, forsaken. Her faith demands she go through the ceremony, but she’s torn between her desire to keep the life she’s known, and what happens to those Seferam who don’t become Var’lechen.

When the ceremony begins, she’ll learn that she wasn’t the only member of her family with a secret. Elele must kneel before Adhol, but what happens after that will change how she sees her family, her role in the universe, and the being her planet has chosen to recognize as their god.

END BLURB

shepherdThis book is essentially the prequel to a series I’m chipping away at called Perception of War. Before Oneiros Log’s deadline loomed, I was a considerable way through the discovery draft of the first book in the series, and I really can’t wait to get back to it.

I hope you’ll decide to give this a try. I’m always striving to deliver great content, and I hope this story is as wonderful to read as it was for me to write. If you’re interested, you can click the link above or right here.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Story Review: Tinkerman by Jake Bible, From For a Few Credits More Anthology

Story Review: Tinkerman by Jake Bible, From For a Few Credits More Anthology

 

510QAdWwRNLSpoiler Free Summary: Tinkerman by Jake Bible is the 15th story in the Four Horsemen anthology, For a Few Credits More.  Tee, called Tinkerman by those he provides cybernetic implants to, is in hiding. Sooner or later, people are going to come looking for him because of the secret he carries. When they do, he’ll be prepared, as will the world that’s protecting him, such are the terms of his care for those same people.

Character: Tee is a fantastic character. He’s proactive and capable. He’s got great depth. He’s sympathetic, but not in that he’s just likable or just unlikable. Indeed his range of emotion is a part of the story, and it’s the best part. I was hooked on this story from the moment I started the story as Tee was in his shop.

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Image of Mr. Bible taken from his website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Story Review: Blood of Innocents by James Young, From For a Few Credits More Anthology

Story Review: Blood of Innocents by James Young, From For a Few Credits More Anthology

 

510QAdWwRNLSpoiler Free Summary: Blood of Innocents by James Young s the 13th story in the Four Horsemen anthology, For a Few Credits More.  Bolivar Thompson just bullied a client into a $10 million contract. Each time they get closer to the objective, things only get more complicated, and just reaching the planet they need to get to will leave his team changed forever.

Character: Bolivar is a pretty solid character.  He’s a little bit arrogant and a little bit of a jerk, but it works for him. I wish he were more proactive and competent. His fatal flaw frustrates me in regard to how it relates to the plot, but I got a kick of of the story as I was reading it. (So I had to scan back a bit to recall the plot. This provides me an opportunity. This story, like many in the anthology, were not bad. I measure that by how well the characters stick with me.  So Lessa, Ruth, Rand, Vin; those characters stick with me. They own a place in my heart. The next level down are the characters I remember by talent or skill. These are like the guy from Tron or the cop from The Women’s Murder Club.  I remember things about them, but they only bring up images or good feelings.  This is still cool, but not next-level characters.  Next down are characters like Bolivar.  These are guys I like while I’m reading, but then after time (in this case six months), they fade away.  Sure, if I read it again, I’d like it, but it doesn’t hold up in the test of time. That’s unfair considering it’s taken six months to review all of these, but this anthology has a great character that has stuck with me for that long (and will for more).  So when I say a character wasn’t bad, that’s what I mean.

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Image of Mr. Young taken from his Amazon page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

Description: This story gave description from a point of view better than others I remember. You were always in Bolivar’s head, and the description was another place where his personality shown, especially when describing the other aliens in the story. I got a kick out of this.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Story Review: Luck of the Draw by J.R. Handley and Corey D. Truax, From For a Few Credits More anthology

Story Review: Luck of the Draw by J.R. Handley and Corey D. Truax, From For a Few Credits More anthology

510QAdWwRNLSpolier Free Summary: Luck of the Draw  by J.R. Handley and Corey D. Truax is the fifth story in the Four Horsemen anthology, For a Few Credits More.  Ivan Petrov is a shadow of the man he was, and the man he was wasn’t much to begin with. Drunk, in debt, and in trouble with loan sharks, his life takes a turn when his association with said loan sharks makes him the perfect tool for Boudicca, a bounty hunter tracking a much bigger fish than a simple bookie. But Ivan’s trial in this new bounty hunter mission may just be the first step to his path to redemption.

NOTE: Corey and J.R. are both friends. I was also honored to be a beta reader for this project. These facts do not change my honest opinions of their work.

Character:  Ivan and Boudicca are solid characters. Ivan’s arc is the more interesting of the two. Ivan carries the story. His trial for forsaken to self-actualized is a great one. He’s witty, but he has flaws that both frustrate and charm.

JR
Image from J.R. Handley’s social media profile for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

 

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Image of Corey D. Truax from his blog for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

Description: Heavy scifi fans would probably want more, but I was more than satisfied with the visualization of this story.  The movie theater in my head was more than happy with the descriptive beats and use of senses. Lots of stories focus on visuals and ignore the other senses. This story gives a sense of touch and sound as well.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Writing Update: The Developmental Draft of Stealing Freedom is Done! A Call for Beta Readers

Writing Update: The Developmental Draft of Stealing Freedom is Done! A Call for Beta Readers

Greetings all,

What the heck is Stealing Freedom? Ok, I just changed the name of Worth of Words. You see, with The Power of Words anthology a full go, I felt the title was just a bit too similar and, honestly, presumptuous.  This anthology has four fantastic stories, and I don’t want readers to feel like there’s one story with three others, but four stories that match one important theme.

As usual, the next draft is a beta draft.  This means I’m wondering if anyone would like to read a free story and provide some feedback.

If you’re  a fan of speculative scifi and you like a good heist story, you’re exactly who I’m looking for.

Power of Words Cover_FRONTHere’s a blurb if you’re interested:

In the year 3753 on the planet of Leznova, all forms of communication are extremely regulated. Drones patrol the skies, seeking out gestures and expressions, executing punishments to any who violate the Communication Act of 3748. Every person over the age of 7 is fitted with Communications Monitor Collars, which send progressively stronger jolts of electricity into any who speak without permission. Should any wish to speak, they must purchase words at increasingly higher fees.

Ardelia Sabine wants it all to stop. She’s simply a mother who doesn’t want her daughter to be forced to stay silent. Formerly a monitor, a police investigator, she’s developed a plan to corrupt the server that regulates the policy and keeps the world silent. She leads a team of brilliant criminals, one of whom is the man she married after capturing him ten years ago. This band of thieves, led by one who used to chase them, must get into the most guarded server room on the planet. They do so knowing it isn’t likely they’ll all survive the effort. To make matters worse, a rival from Ardelia’s past seeks to make an example of her and her betrayal of the monitors. He’s fixated on stopping her, and he’s confident he’s already derailed the most critical part of her scheme.

END BLURB

What I need. I have a form that I send beta readers asking them to rate a group of categories for each chapter or segment of the book.  I’m asking readers to get feedback to my by June 1. I’m anxious to get the anthology finished and laid out so I can get it published by Oct. 1. I’d need your help to do that. I will say that both my alpha readers and my editor both had some wonderfully nice things to say about the story. I’m obviously biased, but I think this is a real treat if you like the above stories.

Please feel free to email me if you’re interested.

Thanks for reading,

Matt