Book Series: Renegade Star

The Renegade Star series of books are a space fiction tale set in the distant future, where Earth is thought to be a myth. Captain Jace Hughes of the Renegade Star, a member of the well-known mercenary group of Renegades, takes a job escorting a group of Earth believers on a quest to find proof of Earth’s existence. As you can imagine, chaos ensues.

Written by J.N. Cheney, the Renegade Star series contains 16 books in the main story, as well as 4 or 5 spinoffs about some of the supporting characters. I only have the 16 in the main series. Once I finally get through them all, I’ll get the spinoff books. That seems like a little ways away, however, as I just finished the 6th book. If I had more time to read, or didn’t have the other series I’ve written about competing for my attention, I’d already be done with them

I am very much enjoying these books. The author balances action, story, and character well. His style is fluid, making it hard to put the books down at times. Each of the characters has their own unique personality, which is something that I sometimes have trouble with when I do my writing. When rereading some of my stuff, I’ve found that a few of the characters are a little too similar. That is certainly not the case with these books. Even the Renegade Star’s A.I. system (Sigmond) is a unique character unto itself.

The first book in the series, Renegade Star, is actually free on Kindle if you have a Prime membership. If you like space fiction, and have Prime, you should definitely check it out. I don’t think you’ll be sorry if you do.

Book Series: Evan Buckley Thrillers

The Evan Buckley thrillers (although I would consider them more mystery than thriller. I only do so in this post because that’s how the author lists them on Amazon) are a series of books written by James Harper about the titular character, who becomes a private investigator after the disappearance of his wife and the lack of police assistance in locating her. So far, the series is fourteen books long, with the newest addition being released a few weeks ago. I have read the first seven of them as of this writing.

This series is another one that I started because I was able to get the first one free. (Seriously, if you have a Kindle, check out the Free section every once in a while. Sure, there’s a lot in there that’s not for you, but you can definitely find some gems in it.) To be honest, right now it’s the favorite of all the series I’m reading. While all the others are good, some even great, this is the only one where I have consistently had trouble putting the books down. The other series have had moments where I didn’t want to stop reading, but it’s been like that for each of the Evan Buckley books so far.

These books are kind of like a season of a television show. Each book is an episode with its own unique case, but it still has the larger story of his missing wife worked in here and there to tie it all together. Also like a television show, these books sport a good cast of supporting characters. And I do mean supporting. The characters are used to further the story without taking the focus off of Evan.

Now, these books aren’t nearly as good as Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series. As far as I’m concerned, the Bolitar books are miles ahead of any other mystery books that are out there. These, however, are the closest mystery books to them that I’ve come across so far.

Book Series: The Legend of Vanx Malic

I’ve published a few stories on here within the last few months. That’s been the extent of my writing recently. While that may seem like enough to some of you, it’s not enough for me. I want to write more. I’ve got many new stories that I want to tell. I also have the fifth installment of my Declevon Blackmoon series that has been sitting at somewhere between a half and three-quarters of the way done for a while now.

The problem is that I don’t really have a lot of time and I can’t muster up the drive to do any writing when I actually find the time to do so. I put a lot of thought and energy into the things I write, especially the things I publish on Amazon. The things I publish on this blog don’t take nearly the amount of work that my Amazon stuff does. If people are going to pay to read my words, I want them to be as good as I can possibly make them.

Don’t get me wrong, I want the people who read this blog to enjoy my words, but there’s a big difference between here and there. If I do make a mistake (it does happen from time to time) it’s very easy to fix it on the blog. On Amazon? Not so much.

Due to my lack of drive, instead of writing, I’ve been reading. I have a few book series that I’m going through at the moment. I know some people (most, probably) like to finish an entire series before moving on to the next one. I’m not like that, however. I don’t want to get bored reading the same genre over and over again. So, once I finish a book, I’ll switch over to a different series and read the next one in line. I have four different series that I’m going through right now, and I figure I’d tell you about them.

The first is The Legend of Vanx Malic by M. R. Mathias.

I got the first book of this series (Through the Wildwood) free on Amazon. I don’t know if it’s still free. Maybe I was lucky enough to catch it at the right time. You should probably check it out just in case. Perhaps you’ll be lucky too.

Anyway…

It took me a while to get through the first book, but that was only because it was the first book I ever read on my phone. I was having trouble getting used to reading something of that size on a screen that small. It’s a lot easier for me now, particularly because this was two phones ago and I have a much bigger screen. That has nothing to do with the book itself, so I don’t know why I’m putting it in here, but I just kind of went where my mind wandered off to.

Once I got past the screen issue, I liked everything about the book. It was paced well. There were intriguing characters. New creatures and races were thrown into the mix, along with a little humor now and then.

It was then when I figured out why he gave away the first book for free. He knew that he’d get you hooked once you read the first one and you’d buy all the rest…. and he was right.

I have all ten books in the series now. I’m about to start the seventh one. So far, they’ve all been just as good, or better, than the first one. If you’re into fantasy at all, or even just like good fiction, I would highly recommend them.

Firefly: Big Damn Hero

I was absentmindedly scrolling through Amazon a few months back, as everyone in the world does every now and then, when I came across something I wasn’t expecting to see. It was a novel set in the ‘Verse (or, for those who don’t know what I mean by that, the Firefly/Serenity universe). Until that point, I had no idea that there were novels set there. I knew that they had done a number of Firefly comics because I’ve read most of them. Well, maybe not most. I can’t really say that because I don’t know exactly how many they’ve actually made, but I’m betting it’s more than half.

So, when I saw that there were novels (3 that are completed as of this writing, with a 4th available for preorder), I was excited. I enjoyed everything that I’d seen or read in the ‘Verse up until that point, and I hoped that these books would continue that trend. The first book in the series is entitled Big Damn Hero.

Here is the synopsis as it appears on Amazon:

“The Battle of Serenity Valley was the turning point that led the Independents to their defeat at the hands of the Alliance. Yet the Browncoats had held the valley for weeks against all odds, before being ordered to lay down their arms. Command stated they refused to send in airpower because the ground war was “too hot.” But the soldiers who were there insist that was not true…

While picking up a new cargo on Persephone, Captain Malcolm Reynolds is kidnapped by a bunch of embittered veteran Browncoats who suspect him of sabotaging the Independents during the war. As the rest of the crew struggle to locate him, Mal is placed on trial for his life, fighting compelling evidence that someone did indeed betray them to the Alliance all those years ago. As old comrades and old rivals crawl out of the woodwork, Mal must prove his innocence, but his captors are desperate and destitute, and will settle for nothing less than the culprit’s blood.

I don’t want to give away any more of the story than that, so I’ll just stick to my feelings on it. Simply put, I really enjoyed it. Was it perfect? No, but it did a very good job of being a novelized version of a Firefly episode. It was very easy to imagine the actors performing the scenes as you read through the pages.

The only thing that bothered me about the book it that the author (James Lovegrove) was constantly referencing something that happened in the show. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but half the time these references seemed forced. It was like he was constantly telling you that this story takes place in the ‘Verse as if you didn’t already know it.

Other than that, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. If you’re a fan of the show/movie, you should definitely give it a try.

Relentless – Update

R.A. Salvatore is one of my favorite authors. There has yet to be anything that he’s written that I haven’t liked. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that streak is about to come to an end with his newest novel, Relentless.

Granted, I’m only a little more than 100 pages into it, but I’m having trouble working up the desire to finish it. Normally, I can’t put his work down. There have been many times when I’ve read an entire novel within a day or two because I don’t want to stop reading. When I did have to put them down, for whatever reason, I couldn’t wait to pick them back up so I could continue on. With this one, though, I don’t think it would bother me that much if I didn’t read any more of it.

The problem is not with the writing, I think. R.A. still puts sentences together very well. He paints very vivid and imaginative battle sequences that are among the best I’ve ever read, if not the best. His character building is among the best as well.

I think the problem is that this is book 36 in the series. That’s right. Book 36. There has been so many things that have happened in those 36 books, so much story, so many fights, that they’re all kind of blurring together at this point. There have been a few times in those 100 pages when I had to stop and try to remember things that happened in the last book because I couldn’t figure out what was going on. And only half of those remembering attempts were successful.

For now, I’m planning on continuing with the book, but I don’t know for how much longer. While I don’t want to quit on it, I also don’t want to keep reading something that I’m not enjoying. And, right now, I’m not really enjoying it very much.

Update

I stopped reading this book. The further into it I got, the more I realized that I just didn’t care anymore about what was going to happen. After 36 books, I just can’t invest anything else into these characters.

Not Normal

About 50% of the time, I keep a book in my locker at work to read on my breaks. The other 50% of the time is usually spent on my phone either writing or watching something on Netflix while on break. It’s been this way for the past couple of years now, but for some reason, one of the people who have worked with me since I started here almost 7 years ago just now noticed it.

I was in the breakroom waiting for my food to be done when he mentioned that he saw me reading a lot. I said that I did. Then he asked if I read a lot at home and I answered that my leisure time at home was pretty much divided equally between reading, watching TV, and playing video games. His response to that was, “Oh, so you do normal things too.”

“….”

I didn’t know what to say to that. Mostly because he ranks much higher than me and I need my job. So, I nodded absently while thinking about what a tool this guy was.

Since when is reading not normal? I realize that nowadays it’s not as prevalent as it was in the past (at least, not overtly. A lot of people read on their portable devices instead of books today so you’re not sure what they’re doing on them), but when did it become not normal to read?

If this guy was younger than me, I might expect an attitude like that, but he’s at least 10 years older than me. I would think that someone like that would think it more normal to read a book than have my head buried in my phone. Then again, most people do have their heads buried in their phones most of the time now. I’m certainly not immune to it. I just don’t do it as often as most of the people around me. Maybe that does mean that I’m not normal.

If it does, so be it. I’d rather be not normal and read than be normal and not.

Support My Friends

On this, the last day of NaBloPoMo, or NanoPoblano (or whatever it is that you crazy kids are calling it these days), it was tempting for me to plug my stories one last time while I still might be hanging on to some newer readers. Instead, I thought the decent thing to do was to plug the work of some of my friends. After all, they’re all amazingly talented individuals who have voluntarily chosen to associate themselves with me (for some reason).

Most of you probably know Matticus, my writing partner-in-crime. Sure, he’s done a couple of books with me, but he also contributed a story to the Fauxpocalypse collection. You should check it out.

There’s also Arden, who helped us out on The Seven Sceptres by writing an awesome story. Did you know that she’s also contributed stories to other things as well? Such as Fiction War. And Rebels and Revenants. She’s a brilliant writer, so you should definitely check these out as well.

Don’t forget about everyone’s favorite dino, Rarasaur. Is there anyone out there that doesn’t have her poetry books, Sack Nasty and Dinosaur-Hearted? I highly doubt it, but I’ll put the links up just in case.

Last, but certainly not least, is the only one of these awesome people that I’ve actually met in real life, Matt. He hangs out over here. You most assuredly need to read his book, Hand One is Dealt. Go on. You know you want to.

So, please everyone, go and show these wonderful people some love. They totally deserve it.