This was an odd read that fluctuated throughout trying to find its own identity but never settling. It gets an extra star from me because it was interestingly written, often witty and dry and punchy, riding quite heavily on dialogue, but there was a lot that didn't really work.
Lacy Dawn is a preteen in an abusive family; physical from the father and neglect from the mother. They live in a rundown home in the hollow, a mildly undefined space at the edge of town. She chants roundabend, roundabend, roundabend and floats into the woods (where the trees talk to her) to see her alien-android friend, DotCom. At first you're not sure what's real and what's made up, and though a lot of things are made concrete there's so many elements in this book it's a feeling that never quite goes away.
Feeling oddly satisfied after working out the arc for my characters in the Neon Sands trilogy - and with that, the titles! We have:
Book 1: Neon Sands: A Trilogy
Book 2: Valley of Ion: The Neon Sands Trilogy
Book 3: Subterranean Wasteland: The Neon Sands Trilogy
This is the first trilogy in the Neon Series, with 4-6 and 7-9 also loosely planned in my head. As we go through the series we'll be touching on a variety of genres: we begin with scifi and punk, with a dash of dystopia and a mysterious post-apoc vibe, perhaps crossing into serious cyberpunk and... I don't want to give too much away. The story will be epic and well worth the books I have planned. The first one is on Goodreads now if you want to hop on board. Check out the blurb and cover below and then head over to Goodreads to add it to your shelf...
Sand like powder smothers the decimated planet; those that eke an existence scavenge and utilise old technologies they barely understand, wanderers drifting from outpost to outpost. But the sand hides secrets, and when it shifts, questions unasked and allegiances long forged are challenged. What else is the sand hiding? A sci-fi/punk adventure in an inhospitable landscape, Neon Sands is the opening book in an epic series that will explore Man’s technological and innate potential, and the search for hope when all looks bleak.
Hereafter has a new cover, one that looks the part, all in the name of the plan of looking more professional. Readers are enjoying it too!
Saw the new Blade Runner last night and was glad the local, small cinema wasn't showing it, forcing us into a mainstream multiplex with all the dolby goodness going on. It's gloriously cinematic, wide shots of beautiful dystopian cities accompanied by a dark, industrial soundtrack. Good story too. It may have lacked an iconic line or shot compared to the first one, but it was consistently awesome, and bravely paced, throughout.
My beard trimmer doesn't work. Its juice is gone and when I connect its charger the red light does not come on. It just whirrs for three or four seconds and dies. It sits useless in the basket of toiletries getting slowly buried and relegated to the bottom with the one or two unused earbuds, and that novelty bar of soap. But it was my father's. The last time he used it, well: it was used on him. I opened the bedroom door and he was sitting in the light of the lamp, his friend running the trimmer over his bald head. He silhouette was thin, or maybe him. I don't remember the words that were spoken; perhaps there were none. I just remember the electric buzz of the trimmer as it mowed that head of his. I remember the nonchalance, feigned perhaps, covering an embarrassment. Not of the act, but that it wasn't my hands holding the trimmer. The trimmer that now does not work. Not as intended anyway.
The martian river flowed red. The rising temperatures caused by the nucleonic clouds, and the sub-mantle explosions, were working! Mars shook and cracked, it's semisolid core heated from all sides, waking the titan. Expedition leader Guinan watched from the safety of her shuttle floating in the atmosphere. Below her, molten geysers erupted, and on the feeds in front of her she watched as similar scenes played out across the planet. She took the controls and steered the shuttle down, a flyby of the surface, swerving left and right as red flames licked up - and, she smiled, more importantly: steam. Great, bilious, clouds of unlocked gasses to sweeten the air. It had begun.
My list is still so long! And now I'm well into writing Neon Sands it may take longer than usual to get through them. But books are friends, always there when you want them. I did finish The Method (4 stars) and Humanity's Hope (2 stars) and now I'm about to begin Rarity from the Hollow. I was a bit mean reviewing Humanity's Hope - as a rule if saying negative things it's good to make a positive-negative-positive sandwich out of it. I'll try harder next time. Thing is whenever I do criticise I'm always sure the same criticisms could be thrown back in my own face. But that's fine. You read, you write, you learn what works and what doesn't, FOR YOU. Screw the rest, right?
Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. But she has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first. Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire.
The Mask of Sanity by Jacob M Appel On the outside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a pillar of the community: the youngest division chief at his hospital, a model son to his elderly parents, fiercely devoted to his wife and two young daughters. On the inside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a high-functioning sociopath--a man who truly believes himself to stand above the ethical norms of society. As long as life treats him well, Balint has no cause to harm others. When life treats him poorly, he reveals the depths of his cold-blooded depravity.
Even the cover is a bit misleading on this one. I hate to bash on another indie author, but Sinclair has quite a few books out all released in the last year and a bit. That could tell you something. This zombie story follows Caleb and his tryst with the authorities after he discovers a life-changing fact about himself - the clue is in the title - and then does a runner.
So much of this plot makes no sense: authorities who can't even use a little subterfuge and subtlety to get what they want (something they already had); a twist for the sake of a twist which leaves massive gaping holes in everything that happened previously; random events to push the plot, or convoluted decisions to push the plot (that even Caleb himself questions his motivations); and a protagonist with narcissistic tendencies (but in his defence, it's not his fault - at no point are we as readers left in any doubt about what he is thinking.) This is on-the-rail-writing, with tell-me back story and tell-me feelings: tell-me feelings that are repeated so often the only purpose is surely filler on the writer's behalf.
There's very little creativity here, phrases repeated, action repeated, tendrils of pain repeated, giving me tendrils of pain too. It's all very rote and by the book. Maybe I'm being harsh as this is aimed at the YA market - but don't they deserve something better? Both in writing, and plot? Honestly, Caleb is supposed to be a badass who has survived out there in 'the wild' among the zombies, but all he does throughout (and this isn't helped by the tell-me nature of the narrative) is whine, second-guess, and doubt himself. Maybe I'm forgetting what being a 17-year-old was really like!
Added to this is that it has no ending to speak of. Previous books of Sinclair are labelled volume if they are in a series, which this is not (yet). If there isn't to be a follow-up then I would definitely think about that ending. Helpfully, it would perhaps not burn plot holes in all that had just gone!
The space station spun with the living quarters at the outer edges to get the most benefit from the centrifugal force. On downtime occupants could retreat to their cabins for the required daily exercise, then cool off in the viewing pod. With the windows at their feet, the viewing pod was a half bulb and doubled as a bath. You could run water into it, turn off all the lights, or dim them, perhaps have the television on in the background, or the stereo with its pumping sound display flashing; and step down into the window. Recline, legs outstretched, ass pressed against the cool solar glass of the pod, mooning the world as you rotated past.
Shout out to Blue Skin Design for my newest cover. It's fair to say I love it! Fellow writers out there, I'm sure you're way more ahead of the game than I have been, but after recently joining the Facebook group 20booksto50k, something you need to do if you have not already; and after reading about the success stories, some achieved in only a few months, my mojo is back. My mojo and enthusiasm. I've read a lot of Indie books lately which has also helped hone what's possible, and opened my eyes to the competition. But, from this, and from others' success stories, a few things are key:
A good cover
Previously, I was relatively sure you needed a lot of luck to break through with consistent sales in this ebook market, but looking at Bookbub, and reading what others have read, I see now you can buy yourself that luck. Of course, the key is getting yourself a Bookbub deal, but when my trilogy is out, that will become the over-arching goal. The returns look practically guaranteed, with knock on effects continuing into following months. The key there being a reliable writer who has regular new books. So that's why I love my new cover so much: I've had lots of positive feedback and I am so confident that if it appeared in the Bookbub advertising people would snap it up.
Neon Sands will be book one in the Neon Sands trilogy. Following this will be Neon Driver and its trilogy, and then an as-yet-unknown third trilogy, all set within the same universe. I am excited to write this and excited for others to read it. answers.com reliably informs me this trilogy of trilogies would be an ennealogy, but I'll have to roll Neon Ennealogy off my tongue a few more times before committing to calling it that!
Book reviews and regular updates and flash fiction may become less frequent as I unpick this story from my brain and get it into semi-readable sentences. However, if you like the look of the cover and would like to know when it's available, and grab a copy of an ARC for review, sign up here: https://strangerwritings.com/the-neon-series.
Faced with the curtain, he froze on the spot. Later he was able to laugh it off, thinking back to the sudden shock of panic that bolted down his legs, setting roots in his feet. He felt suddenly heavy, unable to even bend his knee; and his throat constricted with dry, sandy swallows. He was going to suffocate, drown in his own fear, his heart throttled by a tightening chest and lungs suffering nascent rigor mortis. Already, the fluid of decomposing enzymes dampened his palms, slipped like great sticky slugs down his temple.
He heard his name, heard "What's keeping your daddy?" Such a sweet, but tired sounding voice. Daddy. Just like that, air swelled in his lungs until he was floating, whatever atmosphere his head was in was thin; was moist too, burning where eyes met lids until he blinked with life.