~ My Book of the Year ~
Oriental Vagabonds. 268-page novel by Richard Regan. I think most of my readers know by now that I love an old-fashioned adventure story, one that is driven by the characters, one in which the sex scenes don’t sprawl over five or six pages, rivaling any hard-core porn out there in their graphic detail, one in which the explosions can’t be seen from a neighboring star. Very few books fill the bill for me any more, let alone movies, but Oriental Vagabonds, set in the South Pacific on the eve of World War II, had it all. Nazi agents, British bureaucrats, a femme fatale and her Russian minders, Chinese criminals, smuggled cargoes, and every colorful personality that can be found lurking around the docks in every Asian seaport. I know because I’ve been there, and perhaps that is why this book spoke to me so deeply, but the realism simply leaps from the page. These are no highly-trained S.E.A.L.s and secret agents eager to leap into action, but tired seamen trying to make a living, and dealing as best they can with whatever a world gone mad might throw at them. You can read my five-star review (and several others) here, and purchase this fine piece of literature, nostalgic in both style and period, for $2.99 on Kindle. If the call of adventure strikes a chord in your soul, don’t miss this!
~ Weekly Picks ~
The Skald’s Black Verse. 330-page novel by Jordan Loyal Short. When a sinister creature murders one of the conquerors’ soldiers, Brohr’s violent reputation makes him the prime suspect. Haunted by a rage-filled ghost, Brohr’s disturbing possessions quickly become the reason for all of his troubles, and the only way he can survive. With a grandfather bent on dragging him into a failed rebellion, and a deadly comet hurtling toward his embattled world, Brohr sets off on a quest to save his people and uncover the truth about a war stretching back into the ancient past. Can he discover the true power of a Skald’s voice before the world itself ends in ash and flame? $4.99 on Kindle.
A Pocketful of Stars. 228-page novel by Magaret Ball. Thalia Kostis will be the first to tell you it’s not magic, it’s theoretical math when she walks a Möbius strip through walls to her office at the Institute for Applied Topology. CIA Case Officer Bradislav Lensky doesn’t care what it is, as long as she can help track down a smuggling ring and the terrorists in their safe house in Austin. The other magicians nearby don’t agree, and don’t care for new rivals either! Now Thalia and the rest of her misfit crew are in a race against time, terrorists, common sense, grackles, and their graduate advisor to save the day! $2.99 on Kindle.
Nightmares at 3 AM. 101-page anthology by Jake Wiklacz. A young boy realizes there is something lurking in his closet. A museum security guard begins hearing the voice of a 4,000-year-old mummy in his head. A marine biologist encounters a deep-sea leviathan. A young woman is tempted by a hidden, illegal fortune. A bear hunter finds himself tracking Bigfoot. These are just some of Jake Wiklacz’s “Nightmares at 3 AM”, all of which are compiled into this 12-story horror anthology. 99¢ on Kindle.
Jessica’s Footprints. 154-page novel by J.R. Evangelisti. Atmospheric ionic transgression, electro kinetic propulsion, exceeding the speed of light, this is Science Fiction with a touch of the paranormal and a true mystery. In current times, a seventeen year old girl named Jessica involved on an archeological field trip near Lake Mungo, New South Wales, finds the footprints left 20,000 years earlier. We fast forward twenty years to find the trajectory of Jessica’s life has changed as government scientists and a former colleague fiercely believe extraterrestrials left the footprints. The now famous Dr. Jessica Bethany who has earned doctorates in Ethno-Archeology and Mythology disagrees with the other scientists assessments. She faces hostile crowds while on tour across the country explaining her reasoning. Jessica, while on a lecturing tour during the holiday season in Roswell, New Mexico, forms a friendship with a single woman struggling to raise two adopted children. Jessica begins to exhibit hallucinations and odd behaviors in Roswell. It turns out there are powerful forces that want to silence the truth behind Jessica’s discovery. Lives will change forever as well as humankinds understanding of the Universe. $1.99 on Kindle.
Stone Obsession. 266-page novel by Julie Morgan. Dark magic doesn’t die easily. Luckily, neither does she. In a world racing toward extinction, the Siren Amaryah fights for survival. Under the plagued waters of Antarctica, she faces sea creatures mutated into predators by an old, dark magic. The frozen lands above are riddled with danger, as well, where Pirates, Magicians, and Islanders all vie for power. A single Legacy Stone could change all that — it could bring back the world Amaryah lost. And she plans to find it. After all, if there’s nothing left to live for, she has nothing left to lose. Or so she thinks. Dark magics have ways of fighting back, and she’ll face more threats than ever before — not least of all the possibility of a long-forbidden love. A love she may have to sacrifice in order to save her world. 99¢ on Kindle.
Curiosities #4. 144-page anthology. Curiosities is a thrice annual publication of short speculative fiction in the retropunk subgenres. In this edition, you will find ten stories from the age of jazz and diesel, with hard boiled detectives, fast talking time travelers, bakelite automatons, body hopping cultists, ambitious aviators, a Tesla powered metropolis, and even an urban fantasy set in Weimar Berlin. Welcome to our fall exhibits of wonders and curiosities. Paperback only, $7.50.
Honor Must Prevail. 544-page novel by Ian Spier. A Paranormal Fantasy epic and alternate history set in Renaissance times, with an ensemble cast led by a young demigoddess who takes too much for granted, and her stern bodyguard, who are on a quest to contain the damages of what will be known as the great sundering. Many nations will be irrevocably altered and scarred, some even destroyed by year’s end. Other heroes in other lands, are pitted against the same enemies. One is a traumatized orphan, bound by fate to take the path he fears most, to save his daughter. Another is a disgruntled and cynical captain, a man of his word, but increasingly resentful of the people he is sworn to protect, who see only his blood ties to the Baron. Nothing prepares him for the betrayals that lay in wait for him, and threaten all he holds dear, above all his sister, his niece and and his cousins. His journey is the most perilous of all, on every possible front. These four and their allies are flung headfirst by happenstance and conspiracy, into a saga of heartbreak, redemption, discovery and heroism. Those that survive will be forever changed. $2.99 on Kindle.
The Target Committee. 64-page history by Paul Ham. How did America choose the targets for the atomic bomb? What made Hiroshima preferable over Kyoto or Tokyo? Critical to the mission to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a series of meetings set up in mid-1945 and comprising America’s most powerful military, political and scientific chiefs. The committeemen would decide where and how the first nuclear weapons would be used in anger. In this absorbing and provocative narrative, historian Paul Ham shines a torch on their arguments to reveal the thinking behind the atomic destruction of two cities – and how the Target Committee justified it at the time. 99¢ on Kindle.
The West Tech Terrorist. 220-page novel by Peter Jedick. The West Tech Terrorist is a mystery romance novel that provides a taste of the home front during World War II America. It is the fall of 1941 at Cleveland’s West Technical High School, one of the largest and most unique high schools in America. The United States is on the brink of World War II. Victor Blazek, the sports editor of the West Tech school newspaper, and his girlfriend, Doris, try to foil a sinister plot by Nazi sympathizers inside the school. But their attempt as amateur sleuths puts both their lives in danger. Paperback only. $16.95 on Amazon.
~ Blogs ~
I have been telling you for the past couple of weeks to visit my other blog, Jack’s Hideout, where the right sidebar contains a list of the blogs I follow that update in real time. I also understand that some of you, for various reasons, lack the time or inclination to do that, so here for your convenience is a list of some of the latest updates.
Charles Heath, Author: Not your average to-be-read list.
Cheche Winnie: Holiday month.
Michael May: “I was a boy here.” | Graphic Classics, Volume 19: Christmas Classics.
Metapunk: The sounds of Mars.
Inmate Blogger: Knowing who you are (Part 1).
C.W. Hawes: Tony Price: Confidential.
NEW FOLLOWER: Martial Arts Weapons and Training: Coming home to the martial arts.
SPECIAL MENTION: The Rebel Fish: The hope found in a dead mouse.
AND A PERSONAL FOOTNOTE: I logged on Tuesday morning to find a visit from someone who clicked over from Richard Schulte’s promotional article on Stingaree. I have been spreading the word to all and sundry for the past few months that I am no longer a writer, even withdrawing my submission to an editor who was enthusiastic about a possible book deal, but Stingaree, set in my home town, has always been a project of great personal interest to me, and without making any promises, I am going to get out the material as part of my daily routine and try to finish it. Don’t know whether I can, but if its unfinished form is still generating interest, I’ll make the effort to bring it to completion. Is that a New Year’s resolution? You call it what you want; I call it trying to do right by readers who are generous enough to give me their time. We’ll see where it leads.
And that’s 30 for today. Check in Sunday, when you just may find a post of the sort I used to do, a discussion of a lesson I’ve learned over my writing career that might save you having to learn it through painful trial and error. And, as always, read well, and write better!