Book Review: Occupied Seattle

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Chris Kennedy Book Reviews

Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m a member of the TRMN.  It’s a fan club for the Honor Harrington Universe by David Weber, and they do contests for their members all the time.  There is a reading contest going on recently, and we get bonus points for reading authors who are on the TRMN Author List.  And, if those authors will be at the 2017 Honor Con, we get even more points!  So, you’ll see my next several reviews on books by Chris Kennedy, Marko Kloos and David Weber before I get back to Richard Fox’s Ember Wars stories.  I’m also working on book four of The Sleeping Legion Series.  Finally, if you haven’t read it, Operation Breakout is live!

 

But enough about me, onto this specific review.  Now let’s get to it! 

 

Title:  Occupied Seattle

Author:  Chris Kennedy

Narrator:  Craig Good

Price:  $3.99 USD (Kindle Edition) & $1.99 USD (Audible Add On)

Obtained:  I bought the story and audiobook combination from Amazon.

Pages:  295

 

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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!  This novel is a very Red Dawn-esq story of what it might look like if America was invaded.  In Chris Kennedy’s twisted imagination, China uses an attack on America to hide their campaign to reclaim Taiwan.  It works, and an unprepared America quickly loses the Pacific Northwest.  But despite how bloody things get, they can’t crack the will of the American people.  Will the United States get Seattle back?  It will, if a shot down F-18 pilot, a retired Navy SEAL, and a platoon of Army Rangers have anything to say about it.  In this book, we see the conclusion of the fight with the People’s Republic of China.  We see a wrap up of all of the previous plot threads and it’s a gloriously explosive conclusion!

 

 

Characters: 

In this novel, we see more focus given to the three main characters so I would say there was a lot of improvement here.  There were three main characters; Shawn Hobbs, Ryan O’Leary and the Ranger Platoon they lead.  In the first novel there were too many characters popping in and out of this story, and it was distracting.  Not the case this time, and I could finally get behind them.  Even better, Chris Kennedy didn’t sacrifice what made Red Tide awesome.  The premise was just as compelling, great job Chris!  The characters were flushed out, though there were still plenty of red shirts and death!  Like the last one, I was helped by my time in the service, because Chris used his military service color this military thriller.  Here is a brief summary of the characters, check it out!

 

Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs: He is a fighter pilot for the US Navy who gets shot down during the opening salvo of the war and ends up leading a small band of disenfranchised troopers in a war against the occupying force.

Ryan O’Leary: He is a retired US Navy SEAL who’s taken to the hermit lifestyle when an invasion of his home forces him back into the fight.  When Lieutenant Hobbs is shot down, he rushes to save him and together they take on the world.

Army Ranger Platoon: Just your average group of grunts who join in on the mayhem to resist the occupying forces.  The provide the troops that O’Leary and Hobbs lead into the mouth of the Chinese Dragon.

 

Overall, I will give these characters 5 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see where the author takes these characters with the next series.  The author wrote The Theogony Trilogy and The Codex Trilogy with these characters, and I’m thrilled!

 

 

Plot: 

Like most of the military fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel.  The story is set in modern day Seattle and follows a series of events that lead to China invading as a feint to keep the US from honoring our commitment to Taiwan.  If you don’t know, the US has treaties with Taiwan that state America will defend the nation from China in the event of an attack.  It was an interesting set up and premise, which had shades of Red Dawn in it.  I loved Red Dawn, and consequently I loved this story.  With my military background, I thought the way the military was portrayed was credible.  I will say that the Chris Kennedy, a retired Naval Commander and fighter pilot, spent a lot of time addressing the air war.  I’m not qualified to judge those situations, but from the outside looking in it was credible, which is all I needed.  Why is the critique of the military in the “Plot” review section?  Because in a military fiction novel, the tactics are integral to the plot.  Occupied Seattle was the conclusion of the story, and it was even more explosive than the book one in the duology!  Like before, I again give Chris 6 out of 5 Grenades!

 

 

World Building:

This is the third book I’ve read by Chris Kennedy, and they just keep getting better! Like the previous books, I wasn’t disappointed!  Like in the previous novel in this duology, this world was very flushed out.  However, it was set in the modern world so it had the advantage of the readers pre-existing world view.  Regardless, the novel built on the modern world and made his divergent path extremely plausible.  Once I found out that this story transitions into a story of first contact, I was ecstatic!  I can’t wait to read the rest of this series, and see where the war with the occupying forces in Chris’s world goes.  Like the first novel, this novel was placed in the science fiction section on Amazon, but in this book’s duology we see none of it.  Other than that one complaint, it was a great book and I can’t wait to read the next trilogy in this universe, The Theogony Trilogy.  I give the world building 5 out of 5 Grenades.

 

 

Description: 

Like the previous book, this novel was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world.  Again, in some places Chris went a little over board with the explanation of the various military minutia.  It wasn’t as bad as before, but it was still there.  Maybe this is because I already know about some of this and don’t particularly care about military aviation?  Others might have a different opinion here?  Regardless, these flaws didn’t distract from the book to such a degree that I wouldn’t finish the series.  While parts of it were a flop for me, I still give Chris 4 out of 5 grenades in this category!

 

 

Narration Quality:

Like the previous novel, this audiobook was excellently executed.  The narrator, Craig Good, did an amazing job narrating this book.  He didn’t bore you, or make you zone out because of his monotone.  His performance didn’t feel robotic, like a machine was reading the novel too me.  Instead, it felt like a friend was sitting with me reading an amazing story that he couldn’t put down.  This time the way Craig did the voices of the various characters had grown on me and kept me engaged throughout the periods I was listening to this book.  I would give him a 5 out of 5 grenades for his explosive performance.

 

 

Overall:

I really loved this book, even more than the last book because there wasn’t any of the previous head popping was a bit jarring.  Like the previous book in this duology, the cover was amazingly invocative.  The military culture shown in this book was spot on, especially the nicknames, even though the author laid it on a bit thick.  It wasn’t as bad as the previous book but it was still a bit overdone.  If you want to use a nickname, then we don’t need the full name, but it wasn’t as noticeable as before.  Again, with such a compelling story you won’t notice!  As for the military equipment, well it was like a Naval Aviators porno, the amount of details given but I was able to skim over these details so I could enjoy the action in this story.  Basically, Chris had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel.  It’s an amazing adventure, a look into Chris’s twisted imagination, and leaves you wondering at his mental stability!  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 squeeze your fat body into your old uniform and you die from the shock to your system.  And when you die, you end up in limbo, all alone.  And since you’re alone, you go insane from the solitude.  And in your insanity, you try to fly, but can’t.  Instead, you’re left merged with the asphalt you fell onto at your failed effort to recreate Kitty Hawk.  Stuck in the asphalt, your soul wastes away until there is no you left and you fade out just as Ragnarök begins.  Yeah, it would suck to miss that so maybe you should tread lightly!  Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for you.  But hey, at least you got to see eternity pass you by as you fade into nothing.  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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Chris Kennedy Publishing Interview

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Hello Space Cadets!  Today, I wanted to offer you a gift in the spirit of goodness, inspired by everyone who made my recently passed book releases a reality.  It still feels like a dream, but I appreciate you all getting into the trenches with me.  I don’t do want to pester you guys, so let’s get to it!  Today I bring you an interview with Chris Kennedy.  Chris works at his own publishing house, which he humbly named after himself.  I know most of my readers are also writers, so here is a chance to learn from another successful author and discover the publishing house that might print your next big idea!

 

To help you appreciate why I chose to interview him, let me tell you more about Chris.  He is a bestselling Science Fiction/Fantasy author and speaker.  Chris Kennedy is also a former naval aviator (we forgive him for not going Army) and elementary school principal.  Chris’ stories include the “Occupied Seattle” military fiction duology; “The Theogony” and “Codex Regius” science fiction trilogies; and the “War for Dominance” fantasy trilogy.  You can also get his free book, “The Death of Atlantis,” at his website.

 

Chris has been called “fantastic” and “a great speaker,” he has coached hundreds of beginning authors and budding novelists (including yours truly) on how to self-publish their stories at a variety of conferences, conventions and writing guild presentations.  He is the author of the award-winning #1 bestseller, “Self-Publishing for Profit: How to Get Your Book Out of Your Head and Into the Stores,” as well as the leadership training book, “Leadership from the Darkside.”  You can find out more about having him talk to your group here.

 

Chris lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with his wife and family.  He is currently working with the Navy to help shape Navy training processes for the year 2025.  He is the holder of a doctorate in educational leadership and master’s degrees in both business and public administration.  On a more personal note, like so many in the Indie Writing Circle, Chris is very willing to mentor new writers (though they all likely regret accepting my friend request!) through his social media presence.  He’s an overall decent fella, the kind you’d enjoy doing business with.

 

Now for the man, the myth and the legend to speak for himself!

 

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INTERVIEW:

 

Why did you decide to forgo a more traditional name for your company?  Most Indie Authors try to create the illusion of the Big Five publishers by giving their publishing house a separate name.

Hi JR, first, thanks for talking with me today. Hopefully, I can help out your readers. With that being said, it’s funny you would start out with that question, as that is my biggest regret, and the first thing I would change if I started all over again.

Why did I do it? Mostly because I didn’t know any better. I needed a name to give to Bowker for my first set of ISBNs, and I didn’t have anything thought out. Why would I change it? Because even though the stigma has abated, somewhat, from self-publishing, there’s no need to slap people in the face with it. Would I have done better with a different name? I don’t know, but I wish that I had come up with something cool like, “High Orbit Publishing: Our Books Take You to Outer Space.”

Now, however, I don’t feel like going through the effort to change it, and I have a number of imprints I publish under (like the Seventh Seal Press imprint of CKP that publishes the Four Horsemen Universe books).  Maybe I’ll rename and rebrand myself sometime in the future…but probably not.

I’d like to talk about your work publishing your other authors at Chris Kennedy Publishing. How did you come to this position of being ‘the boss’ for other creative types?

There were actually two things that happened, nearly simultaneously. On the non-fiction side, I was part of a marketing program with a number of people who had non-fiction books they had put together. They didn’t know how to publish their books, and they were either too busy or didn’t want to learn how to do it themselves, so they asked me to do it for them.

At the same time, I partnered with Mark Wandrey for the Four Horsemen series of books. When he pitched me the idea of joining him, part of the plan was for me to publish both of our books.  Several other fiction authors saw I was doing it for him, and asked if I would take them on, as well. As my support folks had the capacity (editing, cover design, etc.), and I believed in their books, I took them on as well.

You’re an author, with several successful novels under your belt. Tell us about your works and how your writing pulled you into the publication business.

It all started with my first book, Red Tide. I never wanted to be an author, but one day I had an idea and a little time, and the book just kind of “happened.” Once I had it, though, I liked it, thought it was pretty good, and wanted to get it out to readers. How did I get involved in publishing? 80 agents and publishers said, “no” to my story, and I finally got tired of hearing the word (from the small percentage that actually answered; most did not).

I looked at what was needed to self-publish, and I quickly realized I needed a plan. Happily, though, as a 20-year military officer, planning was something I could do. I built a plan and took the story through the processes necessary to turn it into a book. The hardest thing I ever did was to push the “Publish” button on Amazon, but once I did, a funny thing happened…people bought it.

As of January 13th, I will have 12 full-length books published and over a million words in print (and I now love writing), in addition to three short stories published both by themselves and in anthologies. Of the 12 full-length books, 10 are fiction and two are non-fiction. By the time you amass that many books, or even a fraction of that number, you’ve become pretty involved in the publishing business.

As the owner of Chris Kennedy Publishing, what are you looking for in submissions?

I’m looking for great scifi and fantasy stories that are ready to go. Unlike some of the bigger houses, it’s all about the story, not that it has to have a certain message or have the right characters involved. It’s all about the story.

How do you decide which books to sign and which ones to pass on?

In addition to the story (which should be pretty polished by the time someone sends it to me), I also look at the platform the author has, and how they intend to market the book. No matter where you go these days, an author is going to be chiefly responsible for marketing their books, so it’s important for them to have an idea of how they’re going to get it done.

What types of publishing do you offer? (Tradition Publishing, Co-Publishing, Self-Publishing)

I currently use all three types of publishing, depending on the book/author. If I am fairly sure that a book will be successful, a traditional model may be appropriate; otherwise, there may be some co-publishing involved. I also do some consulting for those authors who are self-publishing and just need a little advice and guidance on how to be successful.

What sub-genres of science fiction do you prefer?  Are you open to other genres as well?

I’m fairly open to most types of scifi, and fantasy as well, as long as the story’s good. With a recommendation from someone I know, I might also look at other genres (I just took on a psychological thriller), although those genres don’t play as well to my marketing strengths and mailing list (which is something I made clear to the author when he first approached me.)

With that being said, as I mentioned before, Mark Wandrey and I just started a new universe about mercenary service in future mech wars. We have opened the universe up to other writers, and if someone is interested in writing in that universe, they would probably get a bonus point or two. If anyone wants more info on what is canon in the universe, they should email me.

How does someone submit to you?

They can send the first couple of chapters to me at chris[dot]kennedy12[at]gmail[dot]com. I have a lot going on right now, but can always make room for a great story.

After a new author has signed with you, and the novel is done with the last editing pass, what do you expect of your authors?  What part of the process do you cover?

Depending on the publishing model and agreement used, I can (and usually do) cover everything, although I have a couple of authors who already had their own covers that they wanted to use (these are subject to my agreement; I will not publish a bad cover). What do I expect of authors? I expect them to spread the word on their books. I will do my part, but the author has to do his/her part as well. If you just want to turn it in and move on to writing the next one, I’m probably not the right publisher for you.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Two things. First, start building your platform as early as possible. It doesn’t matter whether you go traditional, self-pub, or some hybrid of the two, you’re going to need a platform. Somewhat related to this, you should start talking about your book early, as the books I’ve seen that have failed are usually due to a marketing failure. The right time to start marketing a book isn’t when it’s released; the best time to start is four months prior to release.

 

If this convinced you to find out more, look Chris at Chris Kennedy Publishing up here:

His Website

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Amazon

 

I hope you all had a great time getting to know about Virginia’s best publishing house!  Don’t be afraid to say hello here or on their own website.  They’re always quick to respond when not searching slush piles for the next big thing!  And for proof of their ability to handle a stressed-out author, Chris Kennedy is friends with my fat arse!  Quick, give that sailor a medal!!

 

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.