Cyber Monday Sales

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you guys enjoying your Cyber Monday?  I’m fine, spending time with my family and writing.  I wanted to share some awesome deals with you, in honor of the Day of Epic Interwebs Sales! Hopefully, you manage to find your special deals, without ending up in some Dickens Novel poor house! Continue reading

Book Review: Cartwright’s Cavaliers

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Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m working on book four of The Sleeping Legion Series.  Full speed ahead, and damn the torpedoes or something!  I will hold what I made in book three; loads of action, some surprises and a lot of exploding goodness.  Don’t believe me?  Read it for yourself, Operation Breakout is live!  Now I’m working on the last two novels in The Sleeping Legion Series and outlining my next project.  It’s based off of one of my twisted dreams, I think it’s gonna be the next big thing in science fiction.  It feels like a winner, but you’ll have to wait and see!

 

But enough about me, onto this specific review.  After I read book two in this series as an ARC, I knew I wanted more.  So, what did I do?  I bought book one of course!  Now let’s get to it!

 

Title:  Cartwright’s Cavaliers

Author:  Mark Wandrey

Price:  $3.99 USD (Kindle Edition)

Obtained:  I bought this story and audiobook off Amazon after loving another book in the series, Asbaran Solutions.

Pages:  473

 

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Rating:  5/5 Grenades

5 Grenade

 

 

Summary:

First, let me say that none of what I’ll say in this section couldn’t be found on the back copy of the novel.  I wanted to provide a spoiler free review, so here goes nothing!  Ultimately, this is a family saga, a tale of redemption and one man’s journey to acceptance.  The main character, Jimmy Cartwright, was the only son of the owner and commanding officer of Cartwright’s Cavaliers.  Heir to one of the leading “Four Horsemen” mercenary companies, he was all set to inherit the family business.  Except he had one little hurdle.  His mom bankrupted the family business, running off with the money and he was too fat for field work to remake the family fortune.  He wasn’t just chubby, he was morbidly obese and not fit for field work.  Lucky for Jim, his predecessors were smart, they’d created a charitable endowment that left outdated equipment Jim could use to complete the next contract.  And then, just maybe, resurrect the company. It’s up to Jim to find the people he needs to operate the machinery of war, train them, and lead them to victory. But the company will only be saved if he’s good enough.
 

Characters: 

There are two main characters in this story; Jim Cartwright and the Cartwright’s Cavaliers mercenary company.

 

Jim Cartwright:  He is the main character in this story, on a quest to save his birthright.  Jim comes to his majority just as his mom robs the family company blind, making a series of bad business decisions.  We suspect she embezzled from the company, though this isn’t spelled out in the text.  The author, Mark Wandrey, is good like that.  He writes layers, like an onion.  With nothing to lose, Jim uses a few corporate cast offs to rebuild the company.  By saving the company, he can prove his worth to the long line of Cartwright’s who’d made the company great.   At first, I didn’t know what to make of the character the author created.  He laid it on thick, talking about the largeness of Jim’s girth.  He didn’t go for chubby, or a few extra pounds, but truly morbidly obese.  Okay, that is believable but then the overall effect was a character that was more YA than Mil SciFy.  I liked him because I know how hard it can be to struggle with your weight.  But it felt a little out of place for a military science fiction action hero.  As time went on he grew on me even more.  He was a Brony, which also felt too YA for my tastes, but the story was too fast paced to make it an issue.  Overall, Jim had a definitive character arc, was flushed out and thoroughly described.  You never felt like he was a blank shell, he was a character all on his own.  I liked that with the loss of his parents, through death and abandonment, Jim made his company his family his priority.  I deeply respected him for it.  Jim’s love of his new family, Cartwright’s Cavaliers, was the best feature of the child thrust into manhood amid a legacy at its lowest point in living memory.

 

Cartwright’s Cavaliers: This is the company that is at the heart of the adventures of Jim Cartwright.  This company serves as Jim’s new family, and the story is about saving it at all costs.  It’s a connection with his heritage and his forefathers.  The company personifies special time he spent perched on his father’s shoulder learning about the galaxy and the mercenary life that Earth provided to the sentient species whom inhabited it.  With its mere existence, this company drives the plot and serves as the invisible puppet master pulling all the strings.

 

Plot: 

Like most of the military science fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel.  Heck, maybe it was even more action-packed than some?  The beginning was a bit of a flashback, and we get to watch Jim grow up into the adult who reaches his majority as the company fails.  I wasn’t able to read this book from start to finish in one setting because of its length but I wanted too.  I believed that the tactics worked for the novel, especially the mechanized ones.  The action on the ground was believable, given the world building the author created.  I loved all of the bad assed mech like their CASPer’s, the main mech toy for the human merc companies.  With this workhorse of the mercs you can get away with a run and gun strategy.  No need for too much sophistication, it’d feel out of place.  When you’re King Cong, you don’t sneak around.  Why would you?  The story flowed seamlessly from one plot point to another, which made it easy to read and follow.

 

World Building:

This is the second book I’ve read by Mark Wandrey, but between his first book (which I loved) and solid reviews I was sold.  I wasn’t disappointed!  Hell, I’ll probably check out more of his books across his universes.  This world was very flushed out, and left you curious about the larger universe.  I can’t wait to read the rest of this series, and see where else the universe expands too.  While this is science fiction, and you definitely need to have some suspension of belief for the aliens Mark Wandrey invents.  However, within the universe he builds they’re totally believable.  Cartwright’s Cavaliers definitely had shades of the Prodigal Son, just like the other book in the series.  Unlike other authors, Mark does everything with a metric butt ton of death and explosions.  The one part I wasn’t thrilled about was the concept of Earth evolving into a system of the mercenary corporate planet, without any nation states, but it is a common trope in science fiction.  Overall, this didn’t dissuade me from enjoying this story and I’m aware that many people LOVE those kinds of universe set ups.  In a nut shell, the world building gets an A- from me, but only because of the lack of explanations on HOW we became a planet without nations.

 

Description: 

This book was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world.  It felt very flushed out, and there were times where you could even smell the aliens.  I love it when a book is this immersive, where it takes you deeply into the world.  For me, if a book isn’t described enough that I can imagine myself into the story.  If a story is truly good, I often find myself imagining what happens when the book ends.  That doesn’t work in books where the world wasn’t flushed out.  In this category, Mark gets an A+++!

 

Overall:

I really loved this book, though the Brony thing seemed forced and unnecessary.  Also, there was an unspecified romance (spoiler free remember) that felt forced and unnecessary.  It didn’t serve the plot, though I’d concede it could come into play in later books.  That aside, the novel was awesomely written and the cover was amazing.  The cover art was awesome, heck I even hired the artist for my No Marine Left Behind novelette.  And the plot was everything a science fiction fan will love, definitely 5 out of 5 Grenades.  Mark Wandrey had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel.  It’s an amazing adventure, a look into Mark’s twisted imagination, and leaves you wishing that his therapist had a therapist.  This is a book I would happily recommend, and an author I will definitely read again.  Heck, I would even recommend that you buy the novel!  But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money!

 

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out, you won’t regret it!  Well, unless it motivates you to develop your own mech goodness.  So you take loads of science classes, and graduate from college.  Your mom will be so proud, you’ll be so proud and then you’ll get a job so you can play in cool labs.  And since you’re so proud of your achievements, you rush through looking for the next one.  After handing your buddy your drink, you say “I’ve got this, hold my beer.”  But it doesn’t go as planned.  BOOM!  You’ve blown up not just your lab, but the entire city you live in.  You become the most hated person in your state, and the fodder for a generations of internet memes.  Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for your health.  But hey, at least you got to see your house from orbit as you flew into the air, seconds from death.  On second thought, be warned, fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be wary, you were warned and if you have to go out like that at least enjoy the view from up there!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Book Review: Asbaran Solutions

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Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m about half way through book three of The Sleeping Legion Series and loving it.  Loads of action, some surprises and a lot of exploding goodness.  I’ve also been outlining my next project based off of my short story from the Roswell Anthology, and thinking it’s gonna be the next big thing in science fiction.  It feels like a winner, but you’ll have to wait and see!

 

On to this specific review.  I was given this book by a local US Navy veteran and seasoned author to review and couldn’t say no.  No really, he might go all Tonya Harding on me!  Plus, as a veteran, I feel obligated to support other veterans where possible.  I won’t buy substandard things just BECAUSE they’re a veteran but if it’s a choice between two good things and one provider was a veteran, I’ll pick that.  I mention that, so you can read my review in as transparent a fashion as I can manage.  With that said, I truly did enjoy this book and I can only hope this comes through in my review.

 

Title:  Asbaran Solutions

Author:  Chris Kennedy

Price:  $4.99 USD (Kindle Edition)

Obtained:  I received an ARC for an honest review on Amazon and GoodReads, but liked it enough to buy it once it went live.  I’m even going to buy the other novels in this universe and likely review them as well!

Pages:  332

 

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Rating:  5/5 Grenades

5-grenade

 

 Summary:

First, let me say that none of what I’ll say in this section couldn’t be found on the back copy of the novel.  I wanted to provide a spoiler free review, so here goes nothing!  Ultimately, this is a family saga, a tale of redemption and one mans journey to familial acceptance.  One of the main characters, Nigel Shirazi was first in line for the chairmanship of Asbaran Solutions.  It was to be his birth right, commanding one of the prominent “Four Horsemen” mercenary companies.  That is until his maladaptive behavior cost him everything, ending in hedonist downward spiral.  And finally, a rock bottom where he is disinherited.  After being discarded by his birthright, he enjoys the life of a rich playboy until something happens to rock his world.  An enemy gets to his family, and Nigel is all that stands between this hidden foe and the destruction of Asbaran Solutions and the Shirazi family line.  In the end, the adventure is partially Nigel’s war within himself.  If he can gain some self-control and self-discipline, he just might restore all that was lost.  All he has to do is rescue his sister from an unbeatable foe, easy peasy.

 

 

Characters: 

There are three main characters in this story; The Asbaran Solutions mercenary company, Nigel Shirazi and Thomas Mason.

 

Nigel Shirazi:  He is the principle main character in this story, on a quest of personal redemption.  By saving his sister, he seeks to save himself and prove his worth to the family who’d dismissed him so many years ago.  At first, I really didn’t like the spoiled man-child that we met in the beginning of the story.  However, as time went on he sort of grew on me as Nigel grew into himself.  He had a definitive character arc, was flushed out and thoroughly described.  You never felt like he was a blank shell, he was a character all on his own.  If we met in real life, I’d either drink a beer with him and swap war stories or shoot him on sight.  Would really depend on whether I met the Nigel from the beginning of this book or the one from the end.  I deeply respected his love of family, and his sense of familial obligation.  Blood really IS thicker than water, and it was nice to see that this was a sentiment Nigel understood.

 

Thomas Mason:  He was your stereotypical soldiers soldier and helped guide and shape the path of the troubled Asbaran Solutions.  He also has some personal reasons for going with Nigel on what appears to be a suicide mission, though I can’t go into that without giving some spoilers.  He offers the military background, and serves as a foil to Nigel’s playboy ignorance.  Overall, I really liked this character and would love to read more about him.  I wouldn’t mind if he got his own book as well, giving him room to develop into an even more flushed out character.

 

Asbaran Solutions: This is the company that is at the heart of the adventures of Nigel and Mason.  For Mason, it’s a job and a personal journey you’ll have to read about but for Nigel it’s so much more.  For Nigel, it’s about saving his sister and his families honor.  It’s a connection with his heritage and his forefathers.  The special time he spent on his grandfather’s knee learning about the galaxy and the mercenary life that Earth provided to the sentient species whom inhabited it.  With its mere existence, this company drives the plot and serves as the invisible puppet master pulling all the strings.

 

 

Plot: 

Like most of the military science fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel.  The beginning was a bit of a slow start, but once it took off it never really lagged.  I wasn’t able to read this book from start to finish in one setting because of its length but I wanted too.  I believed that the tactics worked for the novel, especially the aerial ones, but what do you expect from a naval aviator?  The action on the ground was believable, though lacking in tactical sophistication and depth.  However, when you had a bad assed mech like their CASPer’s you can get away with a run and gun strategy.  The story flowed seamlessly from one plot point to another, which made it easy to read and follow.  There were a few times where I was confused by what was going on, but this was likely because of my TBI.  After I backtracked and re-read the part that got me it became very clear.

 

 

World Building:

This is the first book I’ve read by Chris Kennedy, but I’d heard good things and his reviews were solid. I wasn’t disappointed!  This world was very flushed out, and left you curious about the world.  Heck, I bought his book AND the other book in the universe after I read this one.  While this is science fiction, and you definitely need to have some suspension of disbelief for the aliens Chris Kennedy invents, within the universe he builds they’re totally believable.  I also found myself sympathetic to Nigel, as he struggles on his quest for redemption.  Asbaran Solutions definitely had shades of the Prodigal Son, though with a metric butt ton more death and explosions.  The one part I wasn’t thrilled about was the concept of Earth evolving into a system of the mercenary corporate planet, without any nation states, but it is a common trope in science fiction.  Overall, this didn’t dissuade me from enjoying this story and I’m aware that many people LOVE those kinds of universe set ups.  In a nut shell, the world building gets an A- from me, but only because of the lack of explanations on HOW we became a planet without nations.

 

 

Description: 

This book was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world.  It felt very flushed out, and there were times where you could even smell the aliens.  I love it when a book is this immersive, where it takes you deeply into the world.  For me, if a book isn’t described enough that I can imagine myself into the story.  If a story is truly good, I often find myself imagining what happens when the book ends.  That doesn’t work in books where the world wasn’t flushed out.  In this category, Chris gets an A+++!

 

 

Overall:

I think that the easiest way for me to explain my thoughts, is to tell you how I received the novel.  Like with the Wraithkin novel, I was given a free ARC (advanced reader copy) eBook a little over a week before the novel went live.  In return, I was to post an honest review on Amazon for the author on the day it launched.  I loved this book, it was definitely 5 out of 5 Grenades.  Chris Kennedy had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel.  I went on to buy a copy, because I liked it enough that I wanted to support the author.  I also went on to purchase the Cartwright Cavaliers, another novel in the Four Horsemen Universe.  It’s an amazing adventure, a look into Chris Kennedy’s twisted imagination, and leaves you wishing that his therapist has a therapist.  This is a book I would happily recommend, and an author I will definitely read again.  Heck, I would even recommend that you buy the novel!  But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money!  This is definitely a novel worth buying, versus merely reading for free at the library.

 

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out!  You won’t regret it!  Well, unless it keeps you up all night and you’re late to work… and then your boss fires you, because you became a book addict and a rabid Chris Kennedy fan.  And then you track him down, and climb into his window in your skivvies and he shoots you with grapeshot.  Okay, the fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be warned, but enjoy the high!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.