Monday, December 27, 2021

Sci-Fi First in Series Giveaway

I’ve teamed up with 40+ fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of Science Fiction series starters to 2 lucky winners!

Oh, and did I mention the Grand Prize winner gets a BRAND NEW eReader? ๐Ÿ˜  

You can win my novel, Of Half a Mind. And if you have it, you still have a chance to win 39+ other books!

 ๐Ÿ‘‰ Enter the giveaway by clicking here

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Book Review: Anemone a Creature/Starship and The Pilots of the Birkeland Currents by PanOrpheus

Not Your Father’s Steampunk Novel

Traditionally, steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction that has a historical setting and that features current and futuristic technology powered by steam. So, you might expect boiler-driven engines with analog dials and gauges. You will, however, find almost nothing like that in Anemone a Creature/Starship and The Pilots of the Birkeland Currents save a story told by one of the main characters during an outer-space trip. Yes, this isn’t your father’s steampunk novel.

What, then, is the setting and technology? The story is set in the distant future near the binary star Pleione, which is about 450 light-years from the sun in the constellation, Taurus. (I only know that because PanOrpheus intertwines history, science, mythology, and imagination in his books, and Pleione is part of the science, i.e., I could search it online.) Not only is the story set far from our earth in time and space, but it is also couched in an alternative theory of astrophysics generally known as plasma cosmology or the electric universe. So, rather than black, empty, and cold space governed by gravitational forces, space contains flows such as the Birkeland Currents involving ionized gases and plasmas (this nonstandard theory is also searchable on the Internet). Do you need to understand the differences between Big Bang and Plasma Cosmology to enjoy this book? Not at all. Many works of fiction involve building alternative worlds, and though this alternative has some scientific underpinnings, it’s still fantasy world-building to a large degree.

As for the technology involved in space travel, it’s centered around a bio-engineered organism that also serves as a spacecraft, the anemone. Think horse and rider, except for the scale—the anemone is huge, making the human rider more like a flea on horseback. And somehow, these minuscule humans (a pilot and copilot) direct this monstrous creature/spacecraft, with PanOrpheus comparing their control to that of the unconscious over a human, i.e., directing things not in awareness, such as emotions, habits, and memory. Conscious control over the anemone is provided by a computer, which has as much personality as the humans because the pilot decided to save a little money on its purchase. And finally, prescience or the ability to foresee the future is provided by Aletheia, with PanOrpheus tapping into ancient Greek philosophy for this character. If that’s not enough cooks to spoil the soup, anemone also has a collective unconscious (from past generates of the organism) and an evolving free will. I came away wondering if this craft ever made it to a destination on time.

If you’ve read this far, I suspect you’re thinking, what an odd collection of alternative world-theories, characters from mythology, tidbits from less than mainstream science, and wild imaginings and I’d have to agree. But that’s what makes Anemone a Creature/Starship and The Pilots of the Birkeland Currents such an entertaining read. Tickle your imagination with a book that’s definitely not your father’s steampunk.

See on Amazon:

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

Friday, December 10, 2021

Book Review: Bottoms Up (A Top Shelf Mystery) (Top Shelf Mysteries Book 5) by Lolli Powell

Meet Ricki Fontaine, Purveyor of (Humorous) Wisdom

If you haven’t read any of the Top Shelf Mysteries, then you should meet the heroine, Ricki Fontaine. I never fail to learn something new from her. In Bottoms Up, she introduced me to the last part of an old saying: “‘everyone to his own taste,’ the old woman said when she kissed her cow”. She gave me insight on how to dole out the truth: “Mark and I had been in the park looking for drug dealers. It was a half- truth…. I wasn’t going to tell them the other half— that we’d found the drug dealers because they’d agreed to meet with us.” And she gave me advice on watching out for my friends: “I sat there for a minute or two longer while I polished off the banana chocolate chip muffin. July didn’t need three muffins, after all. He was an old man and should be careful about carbs.”

Besides the droll humor that author Lolli Powell weaves into every book, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the mysteries are top-notch. This one, like each of the previous books in the series, kept me guessing to the last page. And with all the twists in the finale, make sure you don’t stop until you see “The End” because it might not be. Additionally, the continuing story of Ricki’s love life provides another source of entertainment. This time, Ricki’s mom is trying to meddle in it, until her new love interest turns the tables with a little charm. “He raised my mother’s hand to his lips and kissed the back of it. For a second, I thought she was going to pass out.”

As for areas for improvement, there aren’t many. The story shifts between investigating a suspicious death and romance smoothly and with a steady rhythm. The characters are well-developed, a bit quirky, and quite entertaining. About the only thing I noticed was a slight tendency to repetition: “I was in no mood for his games. “’Oh, you two are hilarious!’ I said. ‘But I’m not in the mood for your childishness’”. But for the laughs I get from every one of these books, I can hear Ricki’s not in the mood for games/childishness twice.

So, if you haven’t yet, it’s time you meet Ricki Fontaine.

See on Amazon:

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Get the Mind Sleuth Series for Less than 50 Cents a Book!

Now until December 9, you can get the (currently) four-book Mind Sleuth series for only $1.99. That's four books all rated 4.3 stars or higher on Amazon.

Of Half a Mind (book 1) is FREE. 

When a young psychologist uncovers the dark side of a brilliant neuroscientist's radical research, will he survive the brutal truth?

The boxset of books 2 - 4 is $1.99.

  2. Mind in the Clouds:  A Suspenseful Whodunit, Where Not All the Suspects Are Human

  3. Mind in ChainsA Clash of Beliefs Plunge Doc and Nicole into a World of Domestic Terrorism

  4. From the Mind of a Witch:  PI Rebecca Marte expects every client to proclaim their innocence, but a witch claiming it by reason of possession?

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Science Fiction & Fantasy Giveaway

Choose from more than 50 books & short stories in this Fantasy & Sci-Fi collection from StoryOrigin including two BRAG Medallion winners:

Killer in the Retroscape: A Near-Future Mystery

And Of Half a Mind


Thursday, November 18, 2021

For Two Days Only

Today and tomorrow (Nov. 18 & 19), Of Half a Mind is free!

When a young psychologist uncovers the dark side of a brilliant neuroscientist's radical research, will he survive the brutal truth?



Coupled with the 99-cent sale on Mind in the Clouds (which runs thru Nov. 19), you can get the first two books of the series for less than a buck!

Mind in the Clouds:

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

For a Limited Time, Mind in the Clouds is 99 Cents!

 From now until November 19, you can pick up the eBook version of Mind in the Clouds for only 99 cents.

What readers are saying:

    "A frightening story that could well be in our future."

    "I dreaded what was coming, and when it happened, I was totally caught up in the action and excitement."

    "… a touch of romance and a chuckle at the end. Overall, an entertaining read."

    “… a crazy wild ride through modern day technology with a little advanced AI thrown in to create an action thriller par excellence.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

๐Ÿ‘€ I Spy a Steal

If you haven’t read In the Space of an Atom, you can enter to win it on BookSweeps today,

Plus 45+ exciting Fast-Paced Thriller novels from a great collection of authors,

AND a brand new eReader!

Here’s the link ๐Ÿ‘‰

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

๐ŸŽƒChills and thrills await!

If you haven’t already read Of Half a Mind, you can enter to win it on BookSweeps today — plus 49 other, exciting Dark Mysteries, Thrillers & Horror novels from a great collection of authors ...

AND a brand new eReader!

Here’s the link ๐Ÿ‘‰

Sweepstakes end November 3, so don't wait.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

When a mind riddled with evil meets a technology capable of malevolence, you have … the Mind Sleuth Series!

And now, you can pick up a boxset of Books 2 - 4 of the series including:

Mind in the Clouds:  A Suspenseful Whodunit, Where Not All the Suspects Are Human

Mind in Chains:  A Clash of Beliefs Plunge Doc and Nicole into a World of Domestic Terrorism

From the Mind of a Witch:  PI Rebecca Marte expects every client to proclaim their innocence, but a witch claiming it by reason of possession?

Need a copy of book 1, Of Half a Mind, too?

It's always free as part of Kindle Unlimited.

Or subscribe to my newsletter and get a free copy from Story Origin here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

It's That Creepy Time of Year Again

Interested in free books that are designed to get your heart pounding? 

Then, we've got you covered with this collection of 30+ frightfully good tales!

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Killer in the Retroscape

BRAG Medallion honoree

Third-place Winner in the Eric Hoffer eBook Awards

When Doug Michaels finds his friend dead in 2068, he builds a mental landscape, a retroscape, to find the killer. But as the suspects appear, they disappear almost as quickly. It's not the aftereffects of an illness sensationalized in the media as the “zombie pandemic”. It's not an evil artificial intelligence intent on taking over the world. It's not his friend's machine-intelligence wife, Julia, even if she can't even remember his final days. 

But when his retroscape is finished, Doug finds the killer ... in one of the most unlikely of places.

Pick up your copy for $3.99

Friday, October 1, 2021

A Multi-genre, FIRST-OF-THE-SERIES Giveaway

That's right, find a free book you like and you're assured of a continuing saga! And if you haven't picked up a copy of my first-of-series yet, Of Half a Mind, you can do that here, too.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Can’t Get Enough Tales of the Future?

With 40 stories (including my BRAG Medallion Honoree, Killer in the Retroscape), this Sci-Fi giveaway could be just what you're looking for.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Horror, Mystery, Thriller (HMT) Audiobook Giveaway

Don’t Let Your Ears Feel Cheated

Give Them a Free Audiobook to Keep Them Busy!

Last I checked, the authors/narrators were all offering Audible US and UK codes, except for my books, which come through Findaway Voices.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fans

This giveaway is for you!

Check out 40 free books (including the award-winning, Of Half a Mind) and find your next favorite author.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Thursday, August 26, 2021

C.L. Cannon's Sci-Fi Giveaway

Follow some amazing authors across the web and enter to win Dune by Frank Herbert, A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine, Day Zero by C. Robert Cargill, and A Pale Light in the Black by K. B. Wagers, plus much more!

The more you enter, the better your chance to win!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Thanks to You!

Thanks for picking up your free copy of Of Half a Mind as part of the "Bookend the Mind Sleuth Series" promotion.

Because of you (and 3600+ of your fellow readers), it hit number 1 in the Techno-Thriller genre and number 2 in Horror.

Happy reading.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Book Review: Shattered: a Logan McKenna Mystery Book 1 (Logan McKenna Series) by Valerie Davisson

Logan’s Attempt at A New Life Maybe Be Shattered … Just Like Her Old One Was

Shattered is not only the title of the book, but also a good description of Logan McKenna’s life at the start of it. Her husband has died in a car crash and she gave up the business they had built from the ground up. So, she’s starting a new life as a substitute teacher and working over the summer with an old friend, Thomas, at his and his wife’s booth at an arts festival. Unfortunately, it looks like this new chapter could end in pieces as well. She’s accused of cheating on the job and Thomas is arrested for murder. So, Logan largely ignores her personal problem to help the friend she’s sure isn’t a killer.

Overall, the book has the feel of a cozy mystery with no sex and no profanity (unless I just missed it). There is violence in the murder scene, but it’s not graphic. And the story has a sweetness that’s typical of the genre. Logan is always running into old friends and making new ones, all of whom have time for her; no one slammed the door in her face when she started asking about the murder. Though apparently old enough to have a grown daughter, there is a youth and vibrancy to Logan. That characteristic is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in her romantic interest in a neighbor, with her concerns seeming more typical of a teenager than an adult. Basically, Shattered is not a violent mystery investigated by a hardboiled detective, but the woman next door, trying to build a new life and save a friend. And Logan’s definitely an amateur at the later, frequently admitting to herself she doesn’t know what she’s doing but muddling along until the murderer is revealed.

The detail given in some areas of the story seemed excessive, as they did little to move the plot forward. For example, “Lisa completely shredded the tissue, balled it up and placed it in the ashtray on the coffee table. Thomas still smoked.” In the midst of this emotional scene, do we need to know Thomas is a smoker? Would it make any difference if the ashtray was there for visitors? This is a first of a series, so some additional background is necessary, but things like descriptions of every meal Logan ate felt unnecessary. The larger distraction for me, however, was the author’s use of flashbacks and flashforwards. They were introduced at odd times; we got the thumbnail of the victim’s life, for example, after she’s dead. And some of the shifts in timeframe crossed chapters without warning. That confused me more than once.

Overall, Shattered is a solid start to a series and a good introduction to a female amateur sleuth worth following.

See on Amazon:

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Bookend the Mind Sleuth Series for 99 Cents!

That's my way of saying that for three days only, August 18 to 20, you can get the first book and (currently) the last book of the Mind Sleuth Series for only 99 cents. Of Half a Mind, book #1, is free on Amazon. From the Mind of a Witch, book #4, is on sale for only 99 cents every where it is sold.

Of Half a Mind
FREE, August 18-20

A “Chilling Page-Turner about Science Gone Horribly Wrong”

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree
Wishing Shelf Book Awards Finalist

When you talk to yourself, there’s only one voice. When you look at something in your mind’s eye, there’s but one image. 

Psychologist Sam “Doc” Price and his colleagues had always held those principles to be true … at least under normal circumstances. But as they studied the work of a brilliant but troubled neuroscientist, they discovered a device that created a reality that was anything but normal. And when they had unraveled its mysteries, the only question that remained was, could they survive the brutal truth?

Or listen for only $1.99:

From the Mind of a Witch
Only 99 cents, Aug. 18-20

PI Rebecca Marte expects every client to proclaim their innocence, but a witch claiming it by reason of possession?

Investigating a man's death during a coven ritual is a big first case for PI Rebecca Marte. It should be easy, as six pillars of the business community witnessed the killing. Unfortunately, her client wants the witch cleared. 

And then, the case gets even stranger when the witch offers her defense nearly six months after the killing. She’s innocent by reason of possession. Thrust into that uncharted territory, she contacts her old friend, Dr. Sam “Doc” Price, to get help with her problem … and to help with his.

The Mind Sleuth Series:

Friday, August 13, 2021

Into the Night Giveaway

Not worried about what’s lurking in the night?

Then you haven’t read the free books and short stories in this Story Origin collection.

And check out my entry, Of Half a Mind, available in Mobi, ePub, and PDF formats so you can read it on just about any eReader, tablet, or computer. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A Giveaway Featuring our Mechanical Friends


It's been a long journey getting us to iRobot Roombas and self-driving cars ... and one could argue, a journey of a lot more than 100 years. For example, mechanical automata were constructed in China in the 10th century BC.

But most sci-fi writers, me included, are less interested in the last 100 years than the next 25, 50, or more. And if you share this fascination, this Story Origin collection provides some free novels and samples that you can try.

My freebie? Killer in the Retroscape, which features some very capable machine intelligences in a dystopian tale. But don't worry, it's not just another evil machine that tires of humans and takes over the world. If only it was that simple.

Check them all out here:

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Freebies and Frights

If you think the only way to improve on a free book is a horror freebie, then this giveaway is for you!

Go ahead, get a few stories. Sleep is over-rated away.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Book Review: The Retreat by Gordon Ballantyne

Preppers Stand Against Invasion When International Creditors Demand Repayment

If you know what a “prepper” is, then you’re a step ahead of me when I started this book. Basically, it’s someone who believes a catastrophe is looming and makes active preparations for it. The approaching disaster in this book? The United States has failed to balance trade for far too long and our international creditors have called our debt due. America capitulates and China takes over on the West Coast, the Russians on the East, and the population is left in virtual slavery to work off what the country owes. Not everyone is OK with this arrangement, of course, not the least of whom are the protagonists of this tale—Mitch, the enigmatic head of the Olympus Capital hedge fund, and Melanie, logistical guru, mathematical genius, and later, his wife. Together, they provide the financial wizardry that is used to build a prepper community, the Retreat, in the forests of Idaho to battle the Chinese.

Overall, the writing is good, and in particular, the characters are well-developed. Each has their own voice, so even without attribution, you can usually tell who is speaking. You’ll never mistake Angus’ harrumphing, for example. But for my taste, the author is too fond of clichรฉs, e.g., “… would you rather ask for permission or beg for forgiveness? If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with bull.” And there is a tendency to run-on sentences, including some that take up half a page. An additional edit would have helped.

But the real limitations to the book are twofold. First, I found the basic premise difficult to accept. Would no one be suspicious if all of our creditors demanded repayment at the same moment? Would Americans stand by and let foreign militaries on US soil? Would a president just hand over all authority because of debt? Could he? I found it necessary to “suspend disbelief” to get into the story. But second, even after I did that, the plot lacked tension. Consistently, the reader is told that Mitch and Melanie are smarter than any of their adversaries and the prepper community knows more about survival and battle tactics than the Chinese, more than the US Army. It never felt like the Retreat was in any danger. True, there were losses later in the book, but those were the result of massive bombardments where “… they were bound to get lucky on a few shots.” Basically, hero and villain were significantly mismatched and plot tension and suspense suffered as a result.

Overall, the story was an interesting portrayal of the prepper philosophy of survival and freedom. But even if you can accept the basic premise of the invasion, the tension of conflict between equal opposing forces was missing.

See on Amazon:

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Horror * Mystery * Thriller Audiobooks

I didn't set out to write horror when I wrote Of Half a Mind. But many reviewers and readers said that was exactly what it was - "a new take on psychological horror" as the Booklife Prize reviewer put it. And the way Denver C. Risley narrates the audiobook, even I get goosebumps!

So, if you can't beat them, I've added it to a very (VERY) short, Story Origin collection of the free Horror, Mystery, Thriller audiobooks. All you have to do is consider leaving a review.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

All Genre Giveaway

I'm a mystery/techno-thriller writeror as I think of it, a techno-mystery writerbut I also enjoy reading more widely than that. I figure some of you do too. So, check out this all-genre giveaway with more than fifty (yes, that's 50) participating authors!

My contribution to this Story Origin collection is Killer in the Retroscape: A Near-Future Mystery. So, if you haven't picked up a copy of it yet, here's your chance to get it FREE!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

For a Limited Time, In the Space of an Atom is Free!

For the first time since it was published in March 2017, In the Space of an Atom will be free on Amazon from June 29 to July 3. And since I have revised both books I wrote before it, it is now my "oldie but goodie".

As a finalist in the 2017 Wishing Shelf Book Awards and 2018 EPIC eBook Awards, In the Space of an Atom is fast, light suspense with a bit of science and a touch of romance that you won’t put down until the final page.

Get your free copy here:

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

June is Audiobook Month!

At least according to Findaway Voices, it is. And to celebrate, they've arranged with Nook to provide genre-specific carousels. Two of them include two of my audiobooks.

You'll find Of Half a Mind in “Science Fiction & Fantasy Indie Deals” here:

Mind in the Clouds is in “Mystery & Thriller Indie Deals” here:

Check out all the offerings and find you next favorite author/narrator team.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Book Review: The Reeking Hegs by Pete Peru and Lord Tupelo.

Superlative Wordplay, A Somewhat Incomprehensible Satire, or Hallucinatory Gibberish?

Take your pick of titles because, in my opinion, it could be any of them. It just depends on your tolerance for the absurd.

There were a few typos, although admittedly the text is bizarre enough that’s it’s hard to be sure they are typos. But when the synopsis says, “A work of purest purest fiction …,” I feel comfortable saying that some of what you are reading is a mistake. But even so, there is a case to be made for Superlative Wordplay. The prose is entertaining, filled with double meanings (“He came from a short but sturdy Indian race and was completely out of breath”), unusual but fathomable word choices (“I am as utterly despoiled as the out-of-date filling of a tuna mayo sandwich …”), and twists that occur mid-sentence (“The carver opened his gaping maw to reply but was cut short by a tidal wave”). There is also ample support for the third title, such as the following: “Flying fish fillets filled with dread unco mizzen mast crash of thunderclouds all demon gris in the firmament.” Huh? The prose is fun … but keeping up with the nonsense, the twists, and the double meanings is tiring. If the book was half its length that would have been enough for me. And if you are a fan of genres like police procedurals or hard science fiction where the fine line between technical accuracy and fiction drives your gut reaction, look elsewhere. If you try to “figure out” this book, you’ll only give yourself migraines.

So, which of the titles above is the one I’d choose if I had to … and I suppose I do since this is my review. I’d take number two, A Somewhat Incomprehensible Satire. Why? I’d say it’s satire because it makes use of many common satirical forms such as parody, burlesque, exaggeration, juxtaposition, and double entendre. And besides, that’s the way the author/publisher had it classified on Amazon (yeah, I cheated on this much of my choice). But satires are often written as social criticism and here, things become murkier. Just what is being satirized? At certain points in the novel, I would have said literature and the way authors take the meme of the latest best-seller and try to push it farther … sometimes right off the edge of a cliff. But in the end, I rejected that idea in favor of how commercialism impinges on nearly all aspects of life. In the book, advertisements are interjected into everything from politics to criminal justice, and vendors selling every sort of product seem never more than a few pages away.

How sure am I of my conclusion? About 2 percent, because I can’t shake the feeling that the author wrote this book for his own amusement and he’s chuckling now as he reads my review.

See on Amazon:

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

Monday, May 24, 2021

Time for a Scary Read?

If so, then check out more than 30 blood-curdling stories in this StoryOrigin collection for May. It includes one of my own, Of Half a Mind, described by the Booklife Prize as “… a fresh, original take on psychological horror.

Go ahead, pick up a book or two. After all, sleep is overrated.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

How about a free horror, mystery, or thriller audiobook?

This StoryOrigin collection for May has a dozen great listens, including my suspenseful whodunit, Mind in the Clouds. With your copy, you'll be set with over seven and a half hours of Denver Risley's edge-of-your-seat narration.

And be sure to check out all the other great, free listens. All the authors/narrators ask is that you consider leaving a review.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Recognition for Mind in the Clouds

I'm honored that Mind in the Clouds was named a category finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book awards for 2021. As their news release says, "After our rigorous first round of judging, less than 10% of the nominees become category finalists". And since the book's category was eBook Fiction, an enormous group, I'm flattered by the recognition.

Check it out for yourself:



Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Winners of the Paperback Giveaway

In the drawing announced in the post

My Decluttering Means a Chance for You to Win

the following individuals have won a signed paperback.


Book Review: Blaze of Glory by Ryan Krol

An Interesting Story Written in an Unusual Style

First person omniscient? That’s a narrator, sometimes the protagonist as in this book, who not only knows everything he/she is thinking but the thoughts of every other character. I can’t say I’ve read many books like that, but Jimmy Buckman, the protagonist of Blaze of Glory knows all! “I wasn’t surprised that he knew my name. Neither was Robert nor Downing.” And while that sounds like an optimal point of view, I found it quite distracting. One minute, Buckman is recounting his thoughts. The next, he’s reading everyone’s mind around him. If you want to give it a try, check out this book.

Point of view aside, Blaze of Glory is an interesting tale. Jimmy Buckman is a rancher, turned gunslinger of sorts when the villain, Lone Pine Jack Maddux tries to steal the gold he believes Buckman’s father has left him. Actually, there isn’t any gold; it’s just a family legend that Buckman has failed to keep secret. And though Buckman, his son, Robert, and his friends get the better of Maddux during the confrontation, they flee and Maddux burns the ranch. (Frankly, I had some trouble following the logic of Buckman having the upper hand against Maddux and then leaving the ranch to be destroyed, but took it as a literary gimme.) After that, Buckman and son join up with friends and they go after the gold so Buckman can start anew. Maddux pursues him, setting up potentially deadly confrontations along the route, although why Maddux didn’t just wait for Buckman to return with the gold is another mystery to me.

All of this story is being recounted some thirty-seven years after it occurred when a reporter interviews Buckman. Maddux shows up at the interview and scenes with lots of traded glares and veiled threats ensue. Of course, if you think about it—Buckman’s son was 17 during the original story, meaning Buckman was mid-to-late 30s. So, during the later interview, which occurred in 1906, you have two 70+ year-olds snarling at each other in a time when life expectancy was under 50. It’s not impossible, although that perspective changed my image of the scene considerably.

Though interesting, the story had several weaknesses in its telling. For one, the language didn’t seem appropriate to the era or the rancher/gunslinger character: “I thought it would be more beneficial to adapt to the darkness and let the moonlight take over as the spotlight.” There were quite a few typos and internal inconsistencies: “Downing managed to kill Charlie McGwire, and I got Gus Davis.” Then later, Buckman says, “Never in my life had I killed anyone ….” Terminology was used inappropriately or at least in unusual ways; Buckman often "parks" his horse, for example. Additionally, perhaps due to the author’s background in film, the text often includes detailed movements of every character. “So, Elizabeth, Whitewater, Wind Runner, Timmy, and I all dismounted.” A few sentences later, “Kaiba then led the way as Elizabeth, Robert, Whitewater, Wind Runner, Timmy, and I all followed Kaiba to his hut.” And a few more sentences, “Meanwhile, Elizabeth, Robert, Whitewater, Wind Runner, Timmy, and I all sat in the hut ….” That style hurts the story’s pace. The dialog is similar, where nearly every statement is attributed to a specific person. True, attributing statements is a balancing act—too many slow the pace, too few can be confusing—but for my tastes, the book was on the “too many” side of the issue.

Overall, Blaze of Glory is an interesting story told in an unusual style. The writing, however, ends up feeling somewhat plodding because action and dialog are told in low-level detail more than shown in the flow of the plot and through different voices of the characters.

See on Amazon:

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Book Review: 5 Clones by Edward Bonilla

Questioning the Nature of Humanity in an Eerily Familiar Dystopian Future

Although this book is not listed as dystopian fiction, it should be. The future world depicted in 5 Clones is bleak and yet, it’s eerily familiar. Take all of the tensions of recent life in America—the pandemic, racial unrest, isolationism, climate change—and let them linger (the pandemic) or worsen dramatically (all the rest). Drought and fires rage out of control in parts of the United States; other areas are devastated by floods. The United States government trusts no one, as the rest of the world (and many ethnicities) become “outsiders” to be avoided at best, destroyed at worst. Then, have California and Texas succeed from the union in response, drawing the ire of the remaining “New Federal Union”. Embargoes by the NFU produce shortages in food, gas, and information in these new nations, further pushing America as we know it toward self-destruction. At the same time, science advances, producing (as is often the case), a breakthrough with great possibilities for good and an equal or even greater potential for evil. It’s the stuff that causes civil wars … and produces great stories.

Amid this social and political upheaval, we have Dan, a Mexican-American farmer who has cloned himself to provide a source of cheap labor. (No, this isn’t the technology at the crux of the NFU/California rift, although it could be). Dan just wants to sell his clones and make a new start. Things, however, are never as simple as they seem and soon, he’s helping a mysterious woman he comes across in the desert and whatever goals she has for a world turned upside down.

Author Bonilla slowly answers the questions you’ll be asking yourself as a reader—who is this woman Dan has befriended, why are people trying to kill them, where is Dan’s family, how cognizant are the clones, or even, who is Dan? As a literary technique, a slow reveal has both advantages and disadvantages. When complete, I felt satisfaction (relief?) in understanding all the pieces. And some of these are deeper issues, e.g., the nature of humanity and awareness. But the journey to that point sometimes felt meandering. More than halfway through the book, I was wondering if it was just a collection of interesting, although largely unrelated anecdotes from a possible future? And it didn’t help that many of the stories are flashbacks but without any indication that the events occurred in the past. However, to the author’s credit, all the threads are neatly tied up by the book’s end.

Overall, 5 Clones paints a bleak but largely familiar picture of the future. Themes are developed slowly but stick with it; the end is worth the suspense.

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(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Something for Your Eyes or Your Ears

Whether you like reading or listening, we have you covered with Of Half a Mind at 99 cents for the eBook or $2.99 or less for the audiobook.

When you talk to yourself, there’s only one voice. When you look at something in your mind’s eye, there’s but one image.

Psychologist Sam “Doc” Price and his colleagues had always held those principles to be true … at least under normal circumstances. But as they studied the work of a brilliant but troubled neuroscientist, they discovered a device that created a reality that was anything but normal. And when they had unraveled its mysteries, the only question that remained was, could they survive the brutal truth?


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Prices good now to May 12.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Unless you can time travel too ....

Then, you’ll need to enter this Dr. Who giveaway soon!

Prizes include: Print copies of Doctor Who: The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter, Doctor Who: The Knight, The Fool and The Dead: Time Lord Victorious by Stephen Cole, Doctor Who: Scratchman by Tom Baker, a signed edition of The Binge Watcher’s Guide to Doctor Who by Mackenzie Flohr, and more!

Enter for your chance to win:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Challenges of the Future

Environments destroyed? Societies broken? Aliens taking over the world?

It's these authors best (imaginative) guesses as to the challenges today's youth might face in the future. And the best part? These stories are all free in April with a newsletter signup.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

My Decluttering Means a Chance for You to Win

With opportunities for face-to-face giveaways virtually nil last year, I have several books I should move to make room for my new release. I have the following to give away:

  • Three copies of In the Space of an Atom 
  • Three copies of Of Half a Mind 
  • Two copies of Mind in Chains
  • One copy of Killer in the Retroscape (marked as proof on the outside - something that Amazon has started doing.)

Toward finding them a home, any new subscriber from the United States between now and May 10 will be entered into a drawing for one of these paperbacks. (Sorry, but international postage costs are prohibitive.)

I'll randomly select 9 winners on May 11 and announce the winners here on the blog.

If you'd like a chance to win, subscribe here:

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

If Scary Is Your Thing

From Dystopian Sci-Fi (The Midnight Library) to Paranormal Romance (From Blood and Ash), you’ll find something to make your nights a bit creepier in this collection of books and swag.

Well, I guess the gift cards aren't all that scary.

Enter for your chance to win:

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Book Review: Straight River (Matt Lanier Book 1) by Chris Norbury

An Amateur Sleuth with a Musical Ear Faces a Not-So-Subtle Conspiracy

The protagonist of this novel, Matt Lanier, is a musician. He’s always humming a tune or drawing parallels between his situation and the lyrics of a song. And when he’s reluctantly pressed into a murder/conspiracy investigation, he leverages this talent to find clues to the truth in the timber and tone of voice of the people he meets. That’s not an ability I’ve seen other amateur sleuths leverage and one of the reasons I enjoyed Straight River.

As you might imagine with a thriller, the songs that Matt finds apropos to his situation are ones like Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor—his circumstances are often bleak. Called back to his boyhood home after his father’s unexpected death, Matt soon suspects foul play. Then, later, he finds evidence of a multi-state (perhaps eventually, multi-nation) conspiracy to purchase vast tracks of farmland at below-market prices. Physical intimidation, even murder, are the tools of this criminal scheme and author Norbury keeps the reader guessing, presenting us with a long list of possible co-conspirators. The action is tense and well-paced, with the body count increasing steadily throughout the novel. But even so, there are pauses to enjoy the Minnesota countryside or to relive moments of Matt’s past. His still strong feelings for his ex-wife, in particular, provide a nice counterpoint to the action. And the ending, though a bit well-worn, felt appropriate to the plot.

The limitations of the book are primarily in the lack of subtly of the conspiracy and how/why that seemed to have little effect on the course of the tale. To start, the story is set in the 2008 Recession, so killing reluctant sellers seems a bit excessive given the overall financial state of the world. But even if we accept that premise as a literary given—to create tension—the number of deaths, near fatalities, and co-conspirators in one small Minnesotan county implies dozens, if not hundreds of incidents across multiple states. And facts that should have caused suspicion amid this killing spree are often ignored—things like suffocating in a silo when the grain isn’t being taken out from the bottom or a hanging that produces no bruising around the victim’s neck. And when a police sergeant asks the coroner about the latter evidence, she refuses to talk … but the sergeant still ignores the issue. A little more attention to aligning the investigation to the extent and nature of the crime would have increased the impact of the tale considerably.

Overall, expressive descriptions of setting and backstory add spice to a tense, well-paced thriller. Tightening up the plot would have let the action reach its full potential.

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(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)