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.

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.)