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  Lucky for Jim, his predecessors were smart, they’d created a charitable endowment that left outdated equipment Jim could use to complete the next contract.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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No Marine Left Behind

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you guys doing?  I’m doing great, we found out from Podium Publishing that our narrator for the Sleeping Legion Series will be Jeffrey Kafer.  He’ll be recording them this summer, but since this is my first novel to become an audio book I don’t have any idea of the turn around.  I know there is likely some audio editing that has to happen, so when I know more I’ll share.  Also, Operation Breakout is now back from the editors so the timeline for final publication is fast approaching.  Finally, the novelette No Marine Left Behind is for sale on Amazon!

 

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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 screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Marine Monday: Kaden Roy

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Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing today?  Things are great here, my new novelette No Marine Left Behind will be released on Amazon on the 29th.  I’ll be at RavenCon at the end of April if anyone is going to be around.  Not on any panels, I’ll just be a guest like you.  If you see me around, don’t be afraid to say hi or throw rotten tomatoes or something.

 

So on to our regularly scheduled Marine Monday! Today I was leaked, by our friendly neighborhood LegionLeak source, the official bio of Marine Kaden Roy.  Remember, destroy this message after reading it so the anonymous source can live long enough to continually feed us excellent intelligence!  Without further ado, here is the leaked document!

 

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Hopefully you enjoyed this sneak peek into a certain special Marine’s official record.  If you did, stay tuned for next weeks as we anxiously wait for the latest documents smuggled our way!

 

 

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 screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Podium Publishing

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you doing?  Hopefully everyone is doing amazingly!  I’m working on rewriting the ending for Operation Breakout and wanted to take a break to give you some amazing news.  If you jump into the Handley Trenches, and join our newsletter, you’ll receive some free literature!  Not religious tracts, you’ll get a free copy of the prequel novella Demons of Kor-Lir and, for this week only, No Marine Left Behind.  It goes up for sale later this month, so check it out.

 

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Now, onto the topic of the day!  The fine people at Podium Publishing recently signed a contract for the audio rights for The Sleeping Legion Series.  We’re getting an audiobook.  I’ll keep the information coming as soon as I get it!  In the meantime, I checked out their company and was impressed.  They’ve got some amazing voice talent and the other books they’ve done are fantastic.  I’ll have good company, what more could I ask for?

 

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 screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Exciting news!!!!!

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I’m lifting my head above the writing and publishing trenches for a few moments to share some exciting news about an imminent new Sleeping Legion book launch, a new audiobook deal, and more. If you follow JR Handley’s blog, you’ll already know about a novellete he’s been working on called No Marine Left Behind. Well,…

via No Marine Left Behind: a new Sleeping Legion novelette — The Human Legion

Marine Monday: Stork Class Shuttle

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Hey Space Cadets, how’re you doing today?  I’m sucking wind, trying not to self-destruct from a Daylight Savings Time gone horribly wrong.  Tell me again why this is necessary?  Sigh, back to other more pleasant things.  I’ve finished the developmental edits of No Marine Left Behind with my editor, Corey.  Now the piece of literary excellence is off to Thomas and his Red Pen of Doom for a final copy edit.  I hope to have more information about that one to you soon.  My editing team’s also deep into their edits for Operation Breakout, and I should be publishing it next month.  More updates and publishing news to come soon.

 

You can still get the prequel novella, The Demons of Kor-Lir, by signing up for my newsletter.  Also, Boss Man has a new short story coming out for free if you sign up for his newsletter and I recommend it!  I’ll be sending out a newsletter soon with more information, but until then let’s move on to today’s Marine Monday.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy the journey!

 

Today I was leaked, by our friendly neighborhood LegionLeak source, the official vehicle stats of the Stork Class Shuttle. Enjoy the read, but please remember to destroy this message after reading it so the anonymous source can live long enough to continually feed us excellent intelligence!  Without further ado, here is the leaked document!

 

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Hopefully you enjoyed this sneak peek into one of the most prolific classes of shuttles in the Human Legion.  If you did, stay tuned for next week as we anxiously wait for the latest documents smuggled our way!

 

 

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 screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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World Building Wednesday: Cover Art

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you doing today?  Things are good here, the interview with The Dead Robots Society Podcast went well.  As soon as I know when it’s going to go live, I’ll spread the word.  I tried not to sound like too much of an idiot, but you’ll have to be the judge of that.  And on the writing front, I’m half way done with my short story for the Four Horsemen Anthology.  I’ve also started the outline process for book four, which we’re tentatively titling Maternal Vengeance.  I don’t know the date book three, Operation Breakout, will go live but I’ll keep everyone posted.

 

Now, on to today’s World Builder Wednesday!  Today we talk about cover designs!  I’m no expert, and I’m actually colorblind, so this is a hard one for me.  My friends Corey and MLS Weech are actually much better at this part, so you should check them out if you want an expert opinion on the topic!  To my way of thinking, there are several steps you have in picking the cover for your next best seller, and I’m sure I’m missing a few. So rather than tell you this is the way, let me just say that this was my way. That’s right, the Burger King of cover designs.

 

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The first step in picking out a cover was to figure out my genre, since I know each genre and subgenre have their own idiosyncrasies.  Once I knew where my book would fall in the pantheon of fictional greatness, it was a simple matter of looking at other well received covers in that genre.  I found out what expectations they created, trying to get a general feel for my own design.  This step is the most dangerous, as you could spend hours drooling over art and lose yourself so completely that your wife and kids send out the hounds and form a search party.  Be warned, never browse covers alone!  Seriously, that’s my PSA for the day!!  Don’t do it, you’ve been warned!

 

Once I knew what I wanted, overall, I started to figure out designs for my own book.  How could I come up with a cover for my own book that fit within this niche?  You want to do two things; show your reader what type of book they’re getting, and not create false expectations of your own book. You don’t want pictures of spaceships on your novel if they’re planet bound.  Nor would your cover have some half naked beefcake if you’re writing lesbian erotica.  The cover HAS to show the potential reader what they’re likely to find inside.  For me, this meant considering the overall theme of the book and scenes from within it.  How you choose to go about it is largely dependent on the book you write, but you have to have a starting point for any potential artist you hire.

 

After you pick the general idea you want for this masterpiece, you begin the second most dangerous part; browsing the portfolios of cover artists.  This is another phase that can suck you in, and still your soul.  You could lose days, weeks, maybe even years rousing the artistic awesomeness of the various cover designers out there.  Don’t be that guy, be disciplined and direct.  After all, you have to get this done an expedited manner so you can write the next great American novel there’s always more books to write, so you can’t afford to get sucked into the outer trappings.  I was lucky for this stage, I had another author, Chris Kennedy, lend me his cover designer.  He made it easy by serving as the middleman, but I know this will always be the case and don’t need to learn to stand on my own.  My advice, at least for finding good cover artists, is to start searching now so when you’re ready you just have to reach out.  And find several you like, as you never know when they’ll be available.

 

Just to show you an example of my process for my pending short story, “No Marine Left Behind.”  This story tells Sashala’s journey during Phase Guinshrike of Tim C. Taylor’s Renegade Legion, into Lance’s world in Fortress Beta City.  For this story, I told the artist to give me space Marine’s in bad assed power armor.  I wanted them to be in some burning woods after a shuttle dropped them off, and I wanted the dying Beta City in the background.  This is the progression of the art in question.  Hopefully this helps clear up my muddy explanation of the process!  If not, least you get pretty pictures!!

 

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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 screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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