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Alien Vision is proud to present Wesley latest story, The Alien Who Never Was. It's an exciting military/spy sci-fi with some awesome twists.

Check it out for just 0.99

 

 

 

 

 

If you know where your enemy is going to attack from, that is a great advantage to you, is it not?"

"An immense advantage."


But what if that advantage is a clever ruse dreamed up by a half-alien using a trick he learned from the history of his father's home planet? Throw in a diverting sexy spy to spice up the action and you get "The Alien Who Never Was," the latest exciting episode in the Beta-Earth Chronicles.

 

 

New feature: Sneak Peek

 

 

Here is an extract from the middle of the first episode of Douglas Brown's serialise novella, "The Orison".

 

The full episode ("A Hole in the Sky") can be found at

https://www.dwbrownlaw.net/stories/the-orison-episode-1-a-hole-in-the-sky

 

As Da had said, Yona had better be quick, because the Eye of Heaven would soon shine its light on those who preferred the shadows. The Eye’s light was so bright, people were able to read by it, with only slight eye-strain; thieves would be easy to spot.

Gouta glanced both ways along the deserted avenue and thought about the Eye. She allowed herself a smug smile for being, as everyone said of her, “especially smart”. Though only six, she had worked out that the Eye was not an actual eyeball. It did not have an iris, nor a pupil, nor even any eyelashes; it was nothing like an eye.

She had once sprinkled a handful of sand onto the corner of her cloak, pretending that the grains were stars and the near-black oilskin was the night sky. She was pleased to see how the grains spread around in the same sorts of patterns as the stars in the night sky. But then Yona nudged her deliberately, making her drop the remaining sand to form a small pile off to one side of her star field. Yona had gone away laughing, but Gouta noticed how the mound of grains was more-or-less round, had a fuzzy edge and completely hid the dark cloth underneath. Exactly like the Eye of Heaven. From that moment she knew that the Eye was just a part of the sky where the stars piled up so much they completely covered that part of the blackness in a dazzling mound of stars, wider than two of her Da's hand-spans at arm’s length.

So, why call it an eye?

Grown-ups were stupid sometimes.

 

Douglas Brown 

Pen name: DW Brownlaw 

Author of the science fantasy series: The Metaverse on https://www.dwbrownlaw.net

Email: dwbrownlaw@gmail.com

Follow me on Facebook: @DWBrownlaw, or https://facebook.com/DWBrownlaw 

Blind Gambit: A GameLit novel

 

 

Blind Gambit: A GameLit novel

Jon Cronshaw

Print Length: 275 pages

Publisher: No World Press (May 5, 2018)

Publication Date: May 5, 2018

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ASIN: B079QL5CCL

 

https://www.amazon.com/Blind-Gambit-GameLit-Jon-Cronshaw-ebook/dp/B079QL5CCL

 

Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton

 

On one hand, Jon Cronshaw is a younger author than I am and he's far more familiar with the world of gaming than I will ever be.  So if you too are into video games and "game lit," than you're a prime target reader for Blind Gambit.

 

From a different perspective, I too carry the retinitis pigmentosa gene that results in blindness just like the main character of Brian in Cronshaw's novel. So does the author himself.  While I was older and no longer living at home when the onset kicked in for me, from the very beginning of the story, I recognized many events in Brian's personal life as well as many of his reactions to what is happening to him as his sight erodes in the physical world. I remember so many events and conversations in my life that mirrors what Brian goes through as he tries to maintain independence, downplay his disability as much as he can, and find the ways to interact with friends and family as his personal identity changes during the process of going blind. As he admits in his afterword, much of the book can be called a fictionalized memoir.

 

In fact, we have two themes traveling on parallel lines through the book. One is in virtual reality where Brian can see what's going on in the game of Gambit because he has a chip that allows his avatar, Neuro, to watch what his three teammates, FragQueen, Harley, and Socko are doing on the battlefields against zombies while he proves to be the worst sniper in game world. At the same time, a hacker is going through Gambit destroying every team and game he, she, or it can for unknown reasons.  Brian, however, is immune to the hacker's weapons due to that chip. So, on the outside, he's being trained in independent living and how to have a relationship with a girl. A real one.  In VR, he is trained in how to combat the hacker by learning strategy, create unique weapons out of ordinary items, and learn how to uncover the hacker's true identity.

 

I admit, for a long time I wondered why I should care about the destruction of virtual avatars. Not exactly the sort of carnage living beings should worry about. So are there any consequences of the hacker's killing spree in the real world beyond headaches players suffer after leaving the game? At the same time, when Brian isn't hooked up to VR, his often over protective mother talks him into working with blind support groups so he can learn how to live with his disability. Stubborn and resisting most such efforts, Brian isn't a quick study in any of his quests. In the real world, he ends up being bruised and wounded as he tries out a number of activities other blind folks can do. Along the way,

 

Without question, the primary readership for Blind Gambit will be YA readers who are into gaming. But I really hope a wider audience will include those who might gain some sensitivity and insight not just regarding the disability of blindness, but some understanding of the emotional turmoils the disabled go through as, in this case, we lose the sense of sight.

 

As with pretty much every e-book published these days, readers can find out more about Jon Cronshaw's worlds by reading his afterword and signing up for his newsletter.  The adventures don't have to end when you finish Blind Gambit.

 

 

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on July 1, 2019:

https://waa.ai/XAAH

 

It's all about the D-Day Girls

— feeling amazing

 

 

D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II

Sarah Rose

Hardcover: 400 pages

Publisher: Crown; 1st Edition (April 23, 2019)

ISBN-10: 045149508X

ISBN-13: 978-0451495082

https://www.amazon.com/D-Day-Girls-Resistance-Sabotaged-Helped/dp/045149508X

 

 

Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton

 

With D-Day Girls,  Sarah Rose has provided us with a valuable service not only in terms of setting the historical record straight for the women of the S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive), but for the history of the treatment of women in general even when they gave their countries the very finest in the way of self-sacrifice, courage, and heroism.

 

The stories of three women saboteurs , in particular, demonstrate just what skilled and brave women contributed during the occupation of France by the Nazis from 1939 to 1945.  We are told about scrappy Andrée Borrel, a demolitions expert  eluding the Gestapo while blowing up the infrastructure the occupying German army relied on. The "Queen" of the S.O.E. was Lise de Baissac, a fiercely independent Parisian who lost everything due to her wartime service. And there was my favorite heroine of the bunch, Odette Sansom, who saw S.O.E. service as a means to lead a more meaningful life away from an unhappy marriage. While she finds love with a fellow agent named Peter Churchill, she ended up being a two year prisoner, horribly tortured by the Germans.   These women, along with their compatriots both male and female, helped lay the groundwork for D-Day by innumerable acts of sabotage, orchestrated prison breaks,  and the gathering of intelligence for the allied war effort.

 

But D-Day Girls  has a much deeper and wider canvas that three biographies. The stories of the three spies are painted against a detailed backdrop that includes the policy-making of the Allies leadership, how the chiefs of the S.O.E. came to involve women in their behind-the-lines operations, and how the changes in the war effort shaped what the various operatives were and were unable to accomplish. We learn about their training, the reactions of male superiors to the use of women at all, the bungles as well as the successes, the very human dramas the women became involved in,  the competition between the various intelligence agencies, how the spy networks were unraveled by the successful Nazi infiltration, and the very vivid settings from which the women operated. We learn about the costly mistakes some operatives performed, the lack of following the procedures they were taught, and the process of getting the materials and new agents parachuted in from RAF planes.

 

Rose is able to avoid a dry retelling of all these events with almost a novelist's descriptive eye. For example, she doesn't merely tell us about an explosion resulting from a well-place bomb--she gives us a sensory breakdown of what happened moment by moment, second by second in color, smell, and sound. She doesn't merely tell us about the black parachute drops,  but how they took place out in the quiet French countryside.

 

It's difficult to lay this book down as we revisit often forgotten corners of World War II history with often fresh perspectives. Many revelations are only possible now that many formerly classified documents have been brought to light and many misogynist points-of-view have been replaced by what actually happened.

 

In many ways, the tales of what happened to these women after the war ended are the saddest passages in the book. Because they were not part of any official military service, they were denied the full recognition and appreciation they deserved.  Even though they had been indispensable during the war, after VE day they were relegated to the second-class status of women everywhere. There's more than one lesson in all that.

 

 

So readers who love spy stories, those interested in World War II,  devotees of women's studies, and those focused on D-Day celebrations this year shouldn't be the only audience D-Day Girls should enjoy. It's a wonderfully vivid and descriptive multi-layered account that should engage any reader who likes well-written non-fiction.

 

 

Note: I'm aware that this year, a related book, Madame Foucade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Larges Spy Network Against Hitler by Lynne Olson was also published. It's on my summer reading list as well. Spy buffs, stay tuned--

 

 

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on July 1, 2019:

https://waa.ai/XA7U

 

Please vote!

 

 

The Quest is an extraordinary fantasy PNR with no typical fantasy stereotyping.

I reviewed Mrs Kantas's book and really enjoyed it.
http://wesleyabritton.booklikes.com/post/1831220/the-quest-for-the-truth-begins-epic-fantasy

So please take a moment to vote for The Quest which has been nominated for best fantasy in The Readers Choice Awards.


Click through to page number 8 FANTASY and then scroll down to the bottom of the voting to vote for The Quest.

VOTE HERE

Thank you, everyone,

 

 

 

 

Dinner With Edward: The Story of an Unexpected Friendship

Isabel Vincent

                Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: Algonquin Books; Reprint edition (June 13, 2017)

ISBN-10: 1616206942

ISBN-13: 978-1616206949

https://www.amazon.com/Dinner-Edward-Isabel-Vincent/dp/1616206942

 

Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton

 

Dinner With Edward isn't the sort of novel I would normally pick up for summer reading. I don't read "food books." But as it was this month's assignment for a book club I belong to,  I started reading with few preconceived ideas about it. It didn't take long for me to be glad I did.

 

From first to last, Dinner With Edward just hums with life and gains affirming energy as it goes along. The premise is simple enough: Edward is a nonagenarian widower grieving over the death of his wife, strongly wanting to follow her to the grave. He's a talented man with his hands, especially with cooking exceptional dinners in his New York apartment.

 

Isabel is a "middle-aged" reporter who Edward invites to come to weekly dinners at the request of one of Edward's daughters who hopes isabel can keep an eye on her father. Isabel's marriage is disintegrating and these private dinners become highlights of her life, along with the wisdom Edward offers as their friendship deepens. Their backstories are revealed in fragments and chunks as Vincent recounts just how this friendship blossomed in chapters headed by the short menus of one dinner after another.  It's quickly obvious the nourishment the two share goes far beyond well-prepared dinners and conversations that are wide-ranging in scope and topics.

 

Among the lessons Isabel learns is to slow down and appreciate her life, dissecting who she is and facing things she'd rather put aside or ignore. Edward is described as a Henry Higgins figure helping his Eliza Doolittle protegee enhance her feminine aspects which she tends to downplay. Of course, she learns a lot about preparing food and allowing herself to find love again.

 

One of the many aphorisms sprinkled throughout the memoir is a quote by M. F. K. Fisher, that simple dinners with a friend can "sustain us against the hungers of the world." In other words, Edward's lessons for Isabel should reach out far beyond their relationship and enrich the lives of the book's readers. I often paused to jot down a note or two when a clear, clean insight tripped my trigger. I will have many good things to say about Dinner With Edward when the book club meets and eagerly await the responses of the other members.

 

 

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on June 25, 2019:

https://waa.ai/XZBV

 

 

 

Woodstock 50th Anniversary:

— feeling amazing

 

Woodstock 50th Anniversary: Back to Yasgur's Farm

                Mike Greenblatt

                Hardcover: 224 pages

Publisher: Krause Publications (July 16, 2019)

ISBN-10: 1440248907

ISBN-13: 978-1440248900

 

https://www.amazon.com/Woodstock-50th-Anniversary-Back-Yasgurs/dp/1440248907

 

Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton

 

After all these years and all the books, documentaries, interviews etc.etc., do we really need another book on Woodstock? At first glance, the answer might seem to be a resounding "no" because the mud and music has been well-trodden for five decades now.  On the other hand, the 50th anniversary may well be the Woodstock generation's last hurrah, at least in terms of creating events and issuing publications commemorating the major milestone in pop culture while many of the original participants are still alive and able to stroll down their various memory lanes. Just look over the line-up of performers scheduled for the official Golden Anniversary weekend--most of the musicians weren't even born back in '69. Yikes!

 

For me, the value in books like Greenblatt's is learning things I didn't know before or being refreshed on things I may have heard before but forgotten. For example, I've heard of performers like Sweetwater, the Incredible String Band, the Keef Hartly band, and Quill who played at Woodstock. I've never heard a note by any of them except for a few tunes by Sweetwater.  As many have pointed out over the years,  not appearing in the 1970 Michael Wadleigh documentary ended up being a lost career boost.   Other acts like Janis Joplin, The Band, Creedence Clearwater,  or the Grateful Dead didn't need the boost but wouldn't be folded into public awareness about their Woodstock appearances until they were included in later Wadleigh collector's editions when he released previously unseen footage. Then there were the acts who were there but didn't get filmed and then there were those who turned down the gig and didn't come to the party.  At the time, they had good reasons to pass on the opportunity--no one knew what the Woodstock festival would mean.

 

The performers were the ones on stage, but the stories of the organizers and audience members were and are equally as much a part of Woodstock lore. In particular, just how close Woodstock came to becoming a disaster many times over, it seems to me, is well worth remembering.  We really were the peace and love generation no matter how fleeting that moment flickered in time.  That, it seems to me, is the reason to keep commemorating what was essentially a three day rock and roll concert that became a mythologized hippie highpoint thanks in large part to the film that reached an audience able to enjoy the concert in more comfortable theatre settings. Now, we get a different appreciation when folks like Greenblatt, who was there,  share their experiences with those of us who think we wish we had been in the crowd.

 

In terms of Greenblatt's book, I hadn't seen the set lists of all the acts before and found them a real 50th anniversary treat. I had heard many of the musicians' anecdotes before, but not all of them collected here. Not by a long shot. I hadn't heard of the shunning Max Yasgur suffered by his unhappy neighbors after the concert was over.

 

In fact, I think it's fair to say Mike Greenblatt may have assembled the best one-stop Woodstock book for readers who might want one, just one, hardcover exploration of the concert and how it became the phenomena it did. It's a good companion piece to all the DVDs and CDs being issued to keep the music alive.  Oh, of course, it's chock-full of colorful photos.  Yep, a very good memento of an August weekend only a small slice of my generation got to experience first-hand. Like Michael Greenblatt.

 

 

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on June 25, 2019:

https://waa.ai/XZ2r

 

Make sure to tune in.

— feeling happy

 

 

On Sunday June 23rd, Wesley Britton will be a guest on the Sci-Fi Roundtable Podcast. The live version will go out at 4:00 EST.

Here is a link for apple and another for non-apple to the show.

 

http://sfrtpodcast.libsyn.com/introducing-the-sci-fi-roundtable

 

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/sci-fi-roundtable/id1460521148 

 

 

 

Forever and a Day: A James Bond Novel

Anthony Horowitz

Publisher: Jonathan Cape/Waterstone's, London, England; First Edition (2018)

ISBN-10: 1911214772

ISBN-13: 978-1911214779

https://www.amazon.com/Forever-Day-James-Bond-007/dp/1911214772?source=ps-sl-shoppingads-lpcontext&psc=1

 

Reviewed by: Dr. Wesley Britton

 

Beginning with John Pearson's 1973  James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007, Ian Fleming Publications has licensed  a number of pre-Casino Royale Bond stories as part of their ongoing series of James Bond continuation novels. In addition, a number of unsanctioned books, often fictionalized versions of Ian Fleming's World War II experiences, have been published as  alleged foreshadowings of the literary material Fleming would use in his James Bond yarns.

The longest-lasting sanctioned pre-MI5 Bond stories began with Charlie Higson's 2005 "Young James Bond" books which author Steve Cole took over in 2014.

 

In terms of the adult Bond, after long runs of Bond continuation novels by John Gardner and Raymond Benson, in which the character of Bond was "frozen in time" and emulated the cinematic aspects of the films, Ian Fleming Publications opted for a course change in 2014 beginning with Sebastian Faulks's Devil May care in a new series featuring books by various authors sticking as closely as possible to the spirit and flavor of the Fleming books, using settings and events occurring in the 1960s.

 

Then came Anthony Horowitz's well-received 2015 Trigger Mortis which took Bond back to the '50s, and included unused material by Ian Fleming himself. Horwitz, Bond, and a bit more unused Fleming material  returned in 2018 with Forever and a Day,  the latest offering set before the events in Casino Royale.

 

007 literary aficionados have been divided in their responses to Forever and a Day, with many a reader praising the book for its keeping close to the style and flavor of Fleming, its comparatively subtle introduction of many Bond tropes of the original novels, its revealing how James Bond got the 007 number,  and the characters introduced by Horwitz, notably the love interest between Bond and "Madame Sixteen."

 

Add me to the list of critics who really, really liked Forever and a Day. I don't see much to complain about, especially as so many continuation novels were entertaining, readable, and completely forgettable. For me, Madame Sixteen is now one of my all-time favorite Bond girls, although calling her a "girl" isn't close to accurate. She's well-developed--in the literary sense--mature, resourceful, as good as an action companion as 007 could ever ask for.

 

True, that scene where supposed acid turns out to be merely water and some of the incursion scenes are a tad contrived,  and nothing could be more contrived than Irwin Wolfe's rationalization for his motivations. But when was Ian Fleming ever flawless? 

 

  I'd wager most Bond literary fans have already read, evaluated, and passed judgement on Forever and a Day. It's the rest of you this review is for. If you're not a habitual reader of either Fleming or the continuation novels,  is Forever and a Day a good read for you? Is it a good starting point, now being the first authorized 007 adventure in the chronological sequence of the canonical Bond?

 

Naturally, every reader should start with Fleming himself,  and I recommend Dr. No, From Russia With Love, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, or Casino Royale. (Not coincidently,  these became the best films.) In terms of continuation novels,  yes, Forever and a Day is now an ideal starting point. It's the most memorable yarn in many a moon. More Horowitz, please.

 

 

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on June 15, 2019 at:

https://waa.ai/X1Dr

 

 

 

Seeking Beta readers for two short stories.

 

 

Seeking Beta readers for two short stories fro The Beta-Earth Chronicles

 

One is "A Day in the Death of the Magic Mabel" with a Word Count of 10196. Set 40 years in the future on our planet, it's set on a doomed cruise ship with a horrible fear-inducing chemical compound hidden somewhere on board. Can Mary Carpenter find it in time?

 

The other is "The Alien That Never Was" with a Word Count of 10772. It's set on Beta-Earth during the Alman Civil War with a distinctly WWII flavor. Can sexy special operatives of the Kirippean resistance fool the forces of the power-hungry Lunta?

 

If interested in an Advanced reader copy PDF, or Word file, of either of these yarns, reply to me here or email me at spywise@verizon.net.

 

Thanks in advance--

WB

Destiny has a plan for these two lovers.

 

 

 

Excerpt from the award-winning series, Destiny by Victoria Saccenti 
 
 
Book one Destiny's Plan

Matthew glanced out the window and smiled. Night had fallen upon them. He’d lost track of time and forgotten his troubled thoughts thanks to the young woman sitting next to him. Her mirth and exuberance were infectious. She used her hands to speak, creating curious shapes in the air, which he visualized with total enchantment. While the minutes and hours passed imperceptibly, they had covered all sorts of topics, from the weather on the road to his assignment at Fort Benning’s Airborne School. Even the odd color of the lady’s wig two rows ahead didn’t escape their happy commentary. Raquelita was a delicious combination of naïveté and awareness and was delightfully engaged in every word he said. This genuine attention was much needed sustenance for his soul.

“Let’s forget about everyone on the bus,” he said. “Tell me more about you. Where were you born?”
“San Antonio. My parents are from Spain, born on the outskirts of Jerez de la Frontera.”
“The land of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza,” he said. “A legendary country full of history and romance. I’ve seen pictures and read a ton of books. I hope to visit one day.”
“Gracious, you’ve heard of El Ingenioso?”
“You bet. Don Quixote was a reading elective in school. Darned difficult, but I managed.” Matthew paused for a moment. “Jerez isn’t close to La Mancha, is it?”
“Not at all. Jerez is near the coast in the province of Andalucía, south and west of La Mancha,” she explained, adopting a cute tutorial attitude. “The region is known for its music, historical monuments, its prized sherry wine, and majestic horses.”
“Mysterious Andalucía. The Moors fought so hard to hold it.” His eyebrows gathered as he spoke. “Lorca was from Granada. His poetry was musical and raw in one breath, like The Sleepwalking Ballad, or La Guitarra. It’s a pity he died so young.”
“Yes, a tragic casualty of the Spanish Civil War.” Speaking to Matthew was like sifting through a treasure chest full of surprises, one more enticing than the last. She had the oddest desire to touch him, ensure he was real. “So you know La Guitarra?”
“Oh no. I’m not going to embarrass myself by reciting Spanish.” A faint flush rose on his face. “It’s bad enough I mix up my locations.”
“My father and I used to recite it together.” In her softest voice, she spoke:

Empieza el llanto de la guitarra.
Se rompen las copas de la madrugada.
Empieza el llanto de la guitarra.
Es inútil callarla
Es imposible callarla.

Words flowed out of her lips, her fingertips flitted like butterflies, and notes filled Matthew’s ears, full, vibrant, and warm. “You have it, el duende comes to you,” he said.
“Me? No.”
“Yes. You. I know Lorca’s poems, but I’ve never heard them in Spanish. The genie glimmers on your face and moves through your hands. The music comes to you. He comes to you.”
“How do you know so much? Very few people outside Spain know about the genie, much less feel or hear it.”
“The teacher who helped me survive Don Quixote knew my appreciation of Lorca’s works and lent me several books. One had a lecture Lorca gave in Buenos Aires. It was outstanding. The images Lorca presented inspired the reader’s imagination. He spoke of dark sounds. According to him, el duende is the hidden spirit of a doleful Spain. Please, please say more.” 


http://bit.ly/VSaccDP - Amazon Destiny's Plan Kindle
http://bit.ly/DPPPCOM -Amazon DP Paperback COM
 
 

 

 

Warpmancer book 1

 

 

Shadow: A Grimdark Military Sci-fi (Warpmancer Book 1)

Nicholas Woode-Smith

Print Length: 266 pages

Publisher: Warpmancer Press (May 15, 2018)

Publication Date: May 15, 2018

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ASIN: B07CPYFHLW

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CPYFHLW

 

Reviewed by: Wesley Britton

In closing notes to Shadow,  author Nicholas Woode-Smith admits this novel is a major retelling of the first third of his earlier version of the same tale, The Fall of Zona Nox. So there are several groups of potential readers for Shadow--those already familiar with his epic and readers like me completely new to his world-building--and world-destroying- adventures.

  

The story centers on James Terrin, a rough-edged thief and street-fighter turned soldier who is a bit, just a bit,  reminiscent of Harry Harrison's "Stainless Steel Rat." Unlike Harrison's Jim DiGriz, who's an intergalactic rascal and con-man  portrayed in light, satirical stories, Terrin lives in a grim, violent, and dark world in the 36th century where everyone has to be constantly aware of the many ways death can burst through the door in brutal cities like Galis where humans and aliens must survive meager existences.

 

What DiGriz and Terrin have most in common is their being almost constantly on the run, escaping or nearly escaping would-be killers and captors. Terrin is often running down alleyways and over rooftops while miraculously not getting hit by assassins, soldiers,  or gangsters.  

 

One aspect that really impressed me is Woode-Smith's ability to introduce new species and layers of his world's "cultures" with economy and precise descriptions. He's able to paint his gritty, gruff, dangerous environments in vivid detail while never letting the action slow. The book doesn't really have a plot beyond Terrin's becoming more and more involved in the various competing deadly interests on Zona Nox, especially as he goes beyond fighting for his own survival and then becomes part of his planet's defense against invading aliens and their deadly talons.

 

 

 

It's very obvious that Shadow is the starting point for the author's reinvigorated Warpmancer series which means the yarn isn't a stand-alone adventure with any story-lines tied up on the final pages.  If you get interested in Shadow, plan to carry on with the epic in the subsequent volumes, both book length and short stories already available.  The sequels begin with Trooper: Warpmancer Book Two listed here:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Trooper-Warpmancer-Book-Nicholas-Woode-Smith/dp/198103731419:

 

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on May 30, 2019:

https://waa.ai/XH6W

Detecting Columbo

 

 

Columbo Under Glass: A critical analysis of the cases, clues and character of the Good Lieutenant

Sheldon Catz

Paperback: 428 pages

Publisher: BearManor Media (July 7, 2016)

ISBN-10: 1593939566

ISBN-13: 978-1593939564

https://www.amazon.com/Columbo-Under-Glass-character-Lieutenant/dp/1593939566

 

 

Sheldon Catz's Columbo Under Glass is not your typical TV series episode guide. It provides very little production history or background and includes no interviews with any of the participants.  As Catz admits in his introduction, that ground was already expertly covered by TV historian Mark Dawidziak in his 1989 The Columbo File: A Casebook. Dawidziak was kind enough to write a complimentary foreword to the Catz study, saying he never thought his own book was the end-all and be-all for Columbo.

 

Instead, Under Glass is a very personal analysis of the long-running, on-again, off-again  series of TV movies. Yes, Catz reviews every one of the episodes but most of his commentary is his own thoughts on what worked and especially what didn't in the scripts and acting. Frequently, it's difficult to understand why he invested so much time in Columbo as most of his analysis points to flaws he saw in how writers established the clues in each episode, whether or not the storylines were credible, whether or not the conclusions were well-thought out, or whether or not the characters were sympathetic or two-dimensional.

 

Then, in a number of essays, Catz analyzes the series from a wide range of angles, essentially retrodding the same ground he had covered in the episode guide in different ways. For example, "The Bloating Problem" re-examined why the 90 minute episodes were usually superior to the over-long two-hour TV movies. He looks at the "First Clues" that usually drew Columbo into pursuing a case and then the "Intermediate Clues and Some Delayed and Slippery Ones" that carried the plots forward for good or ill. He analyzes the various kinds of endings and complains about the lackluster Ed McBain novels rewritten into Columbo scripts. He writes about the developing character of Columbo, the "Morality of Columbo," the failed Mrs. Columbo spin-off, the supporting casts, the theme music,  you name it. By the end of the tome, there's no "Just one more thing" left to talk about.

 

As with all such TV books, your interest in Columbo Under Glass is going to rely on your interest in Lieutenant Columbo as created by Richard Levinson and William Link and portrayed by Peter Falk from 1968 to 2003. Your interest may be piqued by the opportunity to match your own opinions with those of Catz. Odds are, most readers will find themselves skimming through the essays as so many points are revisited multiple times. But it's good to know there are those who still care about Columbo.  So many of those old detective shows have disappeared without a trace.

 

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on May 24, 2019:

https://waa.ai/XfWv

 

 

An alluring twist on a familiar fantasy concept

 

Illusional Reality by Karina Kantas

Reviewed by Alicia Smock from Roll Out Reviews.

http://rolloutreviews.com/an-alluring-twist-on-a-familiar-fantasy-concept/?fbclid=IwAR3VzDYcOFXgne-vpUjmSxsnliSTEtt92hCpeO5iO2Z5tgEI_fWh-yzGQvI#

 

 

 

 

Karina Kantas is a talented author who has dabbled in various genres and has reached a wide variety of audiences through her multiple fiction series, short stories, and flash fiction. Illusional Reality is the first in her young adult romantic fantasy duology and provides a pleasantly alluring introduction to this unique series. While the premise may seem a bit cliché and perhaps even predictable, Kantas has used her creativity to take this common fantasy premise and make it her own.

After a long day working as a marketing executive, imagine getting kicked out of a taxi in an unknown neighborhood, following a strange man named Salco who said you would be killed if you didn’t follow him, then nearly being killed anyway by a couple of strange otherworldly beings known as Senxs. Now imagine waking up from this crazy nightmare only to discover that Tsinia, the fantastical dream world you wake up in, is indeed reality and not only that, but that you are the last living heir to the throne of Tsinia which is on the brink of being overruled by the warlord of Senx, Darthorn. And, to top everything off, in order to create order amidst the chaos and stop your people from becoming eternally enslaved, a peace treaty is believed to be created if you wed Kovon, the son of Darthorn, within a very short window of time. Poor seemingly normal Becky is subjected to this crazy adventure and must do all that she can to save a land she has never known by facing off against a warlord using powers she never believed she possessed, while at the same time, struggling to not fall for a man she never expected to meet and is forbidden to love.   

Let us begin by focusing on one of the hardest challenges any author faces when it comes to writing fantasy and science fiction: worldbuilding. There is no doubt that Kantas has succeeded in creating a memorable and unique world filled with equally unique beings and cultures. The world itself is described almost like an elven city found in various fantasy stories and most certainly a world would wish to visit or live in. Other than the imminent threat of doom, the land of Tsinia is beautiful and peaceful. The Tsinians are the main beings Kantas focuses on in Illusional Realty and they make for an enjoyable new race. Along with the elven-like land they reside in, they have the beauty and elegance of elves (without the pointy ears), yet they also have unique abilities that almost resemble superpowers (very similar to the X-Men).

One of the main highlights, as well as surprises, about the Tsinians is the way they speak. Rather than speaking with slang, abbreviations, lingo, etc., they speak very properly and eloquently. Imagine how people must have spoken in the 1700s or 1800s in high end society and that is more or less how Tsinians speak. It is most certainly surprising to find this in a young adult book; however, it is refreshing to read and perhaps even the young readers of today can, hopefully, pick up on this speech so they can stop speaking in text lingo.

Another challenge authors face, especially when they have quite a few characters within a shorter story as well as a shorter series, is giving each of their characters his or her own unique personality. Once again, Kantas has succeeded in giving her many characters just that. While some could have perhaps been developed a bit more, readers will be able to differentiate each of the characters by how he or she acts and what he or she does. With so many characters introduced, we shall focus on the main character: Becky on Earth/ Thya in Tsinia. She is most certainly a powerhouse woman and does not take crap from anyone, making for an excellent role model figure for the younger female readers. What is definitely refreshing about Becky/ Thya is how she reacts to discovering that she is a princess. It is on par with Mia from The Princess Diaries where she grudgingly accepts the fact that she is a princess, but in all honesty, truly does not want to be and Kantas continues to surprise her readers with Becky/ Thya’s decision as the story continues. Perhaps the only thing readers may have difficulty following are the names of the characters. Kantas is to be commended for all of the original names she created for her fantasy beings; however, it can become a bit tricky to follow who some of the characters are at times.

The story itself is alluring, though, with a concept that has been used time and time again within the fantasy genre, there are a few clichés readers will stumble upon. However, readers should not allow this to stop them from reading Illusional Realty. The “forbidden love” aspect of the story will seem both familiar and different for Kantas added additional surprises into the mix that readers will not expect. The feud between light and dark (Becky/ Thya and Darthorn/ Kovon) could have been expanded upon a bit more, but what is revealed to the readers is enjoyable and has its own unexpected twists as well. The talented Kantas has created an alluring twist on a familiar concept with Illusional Realty. She has taken fantasy elements and put enticing new twists onto cliché plots. While it would have been wonderful to read even more about the history and culture behind this new fantasy world, readers will enjoy the new fantastical land of Tsinia and will love reading the eloquent dialogue of the Tsinians. Readers will praise Becky/ Thya’s powerhouse character traits and will discover all of the other characters’ unique powers and personalities. Making for a quick read, readers will most certainly wish to pick up the second and final book in Kantas’ duology, The Quest, as soon as they have reached the last page to find out what happens next.

 

Download here.

Insight to Return To Alpha

 

 

Here's an interview I did which gives more insight behind book 6 of The Beta-Earth Chronicles.

 

 

Question: Why a book on this subject?

 

Answer: Twice before, I thought I was done with the Beta-Earth Chronicles, first thinking book 4 was the end, then book 5 as I had gone as far as I could with the original characters. Then an editor suggested I write a Romeo and Juliet story with a new Adam and Eve. I took those two starting points and created a new cast of characters and sent them to our own planet 40 years in the future.

 

 Question: What was the most interesting thing you discovered?

 

Answer: It’s very different to project what might happen on our earth from creating totally different alternate earths. Trying to describe what humanity might become in the aftermath of devastating global warming and weaponized biological plagues.

 

Question: What's in the book that no one yet knows about?

 

Answer: That we would become very localized in the aftermath of massive devastation to the point the U.S. would split into four countries. That keeping control of our lives would mean becoming tribal and more independent. 

 

Question: The most fascinating character is . . . .?

 

Answer: That’s a toughie. I’d have to say a couple, Malcolm Renbourn II of Beta-Earth and his lover from our Alpha-Earth, Major Mary Carpenter.

 

Question: I'm only buying one book this year. Why should this be the one?

 

Answer: Well, this book includes a cosmic Romeo and Juliet story, sets up a new Adam and Eve, and has much, much more. As with the previous Beta-Earth books, expect originality, surprises, the unexpected, going where you’ve never gone before. I promise.

 

 And, it works very well as a stand-alone book. This means you wouldn’t have to read the previous five books to understand what’s going on.

 

Question: What are you working on now?

 

Answer: Since Return to Alpha was published, I’ve been working on short stories that are both prequels and sequels to what happens in RTA. Several tales you can download for free at various book publicity sites—the rest you have to wait for until a collection of these stories is ready to go.

 

Download Return To Alpha here

 

 

 

New Podcast from the Sci-Fi Roundtable

 

 

A new podcast from the Knights of the Sci-Fi Roundtable has been released to promote their members, their books, and their interests. Check it out:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=g5O6s3YuCKI

 

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Spring Giveaway.

 

Here's your chance to pick up some great books.

 

New Box Set

 

Pick up the box set of the Shan Takhu Legacy

and get a BONUS short story.

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QCLKN6L

 

New Book Releases

 

Anodyne Dreams by Clancy Weeks

Relic Hunter by Melinda Kucsera

MarvelousCon & Tax Cons by Rachel Ford

Safe Passage by Rachel Ford

Deconstruction by Steve M

Schrödinger's Dog by Allan Brewer

 

 

Druid's Portal: The Second Journey by Cindy Tomamichel releases May 22, 2019

 

Freebies and Sales

 

 

Get Max and the Banjo Ferret FREE

May 15 - 19, 2019

 

Get Sentient for $0.99. Sale ends on May 31

 

Blogs, Short Stories & Interviews

 

Transformation: A postapocalyptic flash fiction from Cindy Tomamichel

This month MF Metheringham IV reviews ‘A Game of Thrones’ by GRR Martin Satire at its finest.

Zachry Wheeler interviews Zora Marie on ZeeDub Bezzies.