“Vigilante: Rise of the Demon” now available! (*Updated*)

At long last, Vigilante: Rise of the Demon is now available from Amazon.com!

From the description:

Victim, vigilante, or villain? Depending on who you ask, Robert E. Lee “Bob” Campbell is all three.

His troubles begin after he returns from a tour of duty as an Airborne Ranger in Iraq and is struck by a drunk driver while defending himself against muggers. Bob falls into a four-year-long coma. When he awakes, the world is different. But Bob pushes back his bitterness and regret to start a new life with a beautiful girlfriend. Then she is tragically killed in a spree shooting, and Bob concludes the universe is officially messing with him.

Bob is sick of the crime that saturates society. He decides to take matters into his own hands and becomes the Demon, a violent vigilante capable of keeping up with the criminals. To the police and the FBI, he’s nothing but a villain. To drug dealers, child molesters, and other evil men, he’s a force to be feared.

In this dark superhero drama, follow Bob as he dodges drug cartels, police officers, and government agents. Everyone wants the Demon dead, and Bob will have to decide how much he is willing to sacrifice for his new cause.

Currently only the paperback is available ($14.99), but the Kindle version should be available next week. This is a dark, reality-based superhero tale (more DCEU than MCU in sensibility). I enjoyed writing it and am planning a sequel for next year.

Of course, I have to get Voyage Beyond Fear edited and published first, and the sequel to Blood Debt is in its early stages (but coming along)…

Anyway, check it out. The Kindle version will be available for loan by those that have Amazon Prime, so folks on a budget will be able to read it for free (and reviews are always appreciated!).

I’ll get back to editing shortly (I’m on an Elementary marathon right now) and am planning to enroll Voyage in the Kindle Scout Program in a few months. I’ll update you on how that goes.

*UPDATE* Now available on Kindle for $3.99!

 

Looking for Beta Readers

I’m looking for beta readers for my upcoming hard sci-fi novel Voyage Beyond Fear.1

In particular, I am looking for folks that have a background (or interest in) astronomy and/or astrophysics. I’m also looking for people that have served in the Navy (especially the US Navy, or the naval services of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, or other navies of the British Commonwealth).

Voyage Beyond Fear is the story about mankind’s first starship–a privately funded effort that follows on from the accidental discovery of a way to crack the FTL barrier–and is set in the near future. There is a description of the book here.

The novel’s rough draft is nearly complete (estimated completion date is early April), and I’ll be sending the book out in late April for initial input from any technical experts that I succeed in recruiting.

Because I am looking for technical expertise or naval experience, I am willing to pay a small fee to those readers. Readers that do not have such a background, but are interested in being beta readers on the second go ’round (likely sometime in May), will be entitled to receive a complimentary copy of the book when I publish it in late summer.

If you are interested, you can send me a DM @Circle_Bee, or reach me via the contact page on my website.

1 “Voyage Beyond Fear” is the working title. I’m still playing with ideas something better.

Book of the Week

The Book of the Week is actually the Series of the Week this go ’round: Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome.

Unfortunately, we lost Mrs. Robson (nee McCullough) in 2015. Fortunately, she left behind a considerable body of work, and her Masters of Rome series is my favorite.

The series charts the end of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire under Augustus Caesar, focusing on the major players: Marius, Sulla, Caesar, Octavius, Marc Anthony, Cicero, and Cleopatra. While the series is incredibly well researched (and will delight history buffs) it is far from a dry reveling of events. Mrs. Robson brings these men and women to life, rendering them as all-too-human, with all their vices and virtues intact.

Amazon offers the entire series in paperback or via Kindle, but you can by decent hardback copies for a relatively small price, and the series enjoys my highest recommendation.

Whether you are interested in the history, the historical persons, or just a great story, this is a series well worth your time.

Book of the Week

The Book of the Week is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

 

I’ve got to tell you, when I first read this book back in high school (many, many years ago) I never anticipated how much I would come to love it. In fact, when I was first forced to read it (and perhaps because I was forced to do so), I really didn’t appreciate it at all! However, over the years it has really grown on me.

While it is–like pretty much all of Mr. Dickens’s work–a little…bleak…it is a great story of redemption and the tragedy that can be unleashed on the young by society’s bitterest people.

The novel follows the growth of young Pip who, after receiving a bequest from an (initially) unknown benefactor, sets his course on becoming a gentleman; the beautiful Estrella, whom poor Pip falls hopelessly in love with; and the vile Mrs. Havisham, who seeks to blight Pip’s journey to satisfy her own bitter desires.

While I generally prefer stories in which the hero’s journey reaches a happier conclusion, this tale is worth reading just for how well it is written. That isn’t to say that there isn’t a satisfying wrap up (there is!),  just that–depending on which version you read–the novel may not end the way you hope. Be advised, if you pick up a version with the “happy” ending, that wasn’t the way the author intended for the story to go. In fact, Mr. Dickens originally planned for the novel to end on a bitter note, and it was only at the insistence of his publisher that Pip and Estrella got to have that happy ending.1

You can buy this book both with the original and the publisher-mandated conclusions (some versions contain both), albeit it can take a bit of hunting to get the one you are after.

You can pick up various editions for free (as the manuscript is in the public domain), but Amazon offers some really nice hardcover editions.2

Higest recommendation.

1 Like many purists, my preference is for the original. Despite my liking for a happy ending, I think the original is just better written. That may reflect Mr. Dickens’s resentment of having to produce the other.

2 It may surprise regular readers of the Whiskey of the Week post, but I actually spend more money on books. That may be because after reading them on Kindle, I break down and buy hardbacks for my library.

Book of the Week

The Book of the Week is twofer: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island, both by the incomparable master Jules Verne.

              

The reason I’m grouping them is simple: together these two novels tell the story of Prince Dakkar, the real name of the tragic hero Captain Nemo. They are two of my absolutely favorite books (nearly tying Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court for first place).

We first meet the good captain in 20,000 Leagues, when a French scientist (Piece Aronnax), his assistant (Conseil), and the harpooner Ned Land are lost at sea and Nemo rescues them. 20,000 Leagues is especially notable in that Verne foresaw many modern technical marvels.

In The Mysterious Island, a group of Union soldiers, who are prisoners of the Confederacy, conspire to steal a Confederate observation balloon and make their escape. Unfortunately, the storm they are using for cover blows them into the distant South Pacific (somewhere east of New Zealand), and they find themselves marooned far from home. While castaways, they have to learn to survive, deal with pirates, and figure out how to escape and return home. Over the course of the story, they suss out that they are enjoying the services as a mysterious benefactor–who turns out to be the legendary Captain Nemo, the last survivor of the Nautilus.

These are definitely books you want to get in hardcover, so as to keep them on your shelf and in easy reach so you can enjoy them again and again.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island are available from Amazon for $8.62 and $24.99 respectively (hardcover editions; paperback and Kindle are priced differently).

Also, there is a Classic Starts children’s edition available from Amazon for $5.95. A great book in a great series that you should consider getting for the kids. I have the entire Classic Starts collection in my library for my nieces and nephew.

Highest recommendation.

Book of the Week

The Book of the Week is Revolutionary Heart (The Molly Weston Chronicles Book 1) by Lori Piotrowski.1

This is a straight up romance adventure novel set against the backdrop of the period leading up to American Revolution (this entry is set in 1765 specifically). Our heroine, Molly Weston, is the only daughter in a family of patriots who are hip-deep in plots against the British, and serves as our guide through those turbulent times.

When British Lieutenant Geoffrey Canfield, a patriot sympathizer, is quartered with the family, Molly finds herself falling for him and drawn ever deeper into the patriot conspiracy.

The author’s choice to cover the same events from different characters’ perspectives and her inclusion of exhaustive historical detail may deter some readers, but will delight students of the era. Personally, I think this book would be a great way to introduce young people who have had their interest in history muted by high school social studies classes to a subject too few Americans are familiar enough with.

If you are a history buff (and I surely am), you’ll appreciate the chance to meet some of the great Boston luminaries of the Revolution; men such as Paul Revere, Joseph Warren, Sam Adams, John Hancock, and other Sons of Liberty.

Revolutionary Heart is available from Amazon for $9.95 on Kindle or $14.95 in paperback.

Recommended.

1 Full confession: I am acquainted with the author which is why I read this novel (romances are ordinarily outside my wheelhouse). But regular readers of this post know that I only recommend great books, so don’t let that throw you.

Book of the Week

This week’s recommendation is Knox’s Irregulars by J. Wesley Bush.

Knox’s Irregulars is an outstanding work of military science-fi! The characters are well rounded and the battle scenes are first rate. It is obvious that the author has employed some considerable first-hand military experience in the details here. The pacing is fast and even, and the thematic development is consistent.

The protagonist of the story is Corporal Randall Knox, scion of a politically powerful family, who has entered the military of his nation, New Geneva, in order to escape a destiny in the halls of government. The events of the story, kicked off by the invasion of New Geneva’s aggressive northern neighbor, drive the hero into an unsought position of high-pressure leadership as he finds himself establishing a guerrilla operation in the enemy’s rear area. In many ways the book reminded me of Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (another fantastic book about partisan guerrillas).

Some reviewers have made note that this is Christian fiction, and I want to address that. The allegory between Wahhabism and western liberalism is apparent, but this book is no way an anti-anything screed. While I do not generally enjoy religiously themed books (I could barely make it through the first of the “Left Behind” series), more secular readers should not be put off as the religious content (what there is of it) enhances the story in terms of motivations and characterization.

Minor confession: the author is a friend of mine (via Twitter), which prompted me to read this book to begin with. I am really glad I did and am looking forward to his next one.

You can pick up the Kindle edition from Amazon.com for $2.99.

Highly recommended.

Book of the Week

The Book of the Week is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain.

This is, hands down, my all time favorite book. Samuel Clemons is the American master novelist, so it should be no surprise to regular readers of this post that I’ve finally gotten around to adding one of his books.

While the book, written in 1889, suffers a bit from its 19th century perspective (readers’ tastes have changed somewhat in the intervening near 130 years) it holds up amazingly well. The protagonist, Hank Morgan (aka “The Boss”), is an idealized American: smart, capable, self-reliant, and a master con artist. His lady love, the Demoiselle Alisande a la Carteloise (aka “Sandy”) is one of his two most ardent supporters, and inspires him to even greater achievement than he would have otherwise attended to. Twain was a master satirist and Connecticut Yankee certainly pokes fun at both the great romances of the day and America of the gilded age.

The only parts of the book that drag a bit (for me) are the direct quotations from Thomas Mallory’s Le More d’Arthur and Twain’s occasional concentration on Sandy’s incessant ramblings. That aside, it is a great story and one I have read many times.

This is one of those books worth the investment in a hard back edition (Amazon.com).

Highly recommended.

Book of the Week

This week’s recommendation is Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

Narrated in the 1st person by Johnny Rico, a former denizen of Buenos Aires, Starship Troopers is one of the best novelized examinations of leadership available on the market. Put Paul Verhoeven’s campy (but fun) satire about a fascist future out of your mind – Mr. Heinlein’s book share’s few similarities with the film.

In an unspecified future era, mankind finds itself at war (The Bug War) against an enemy as ruthless as it is alien. Johnny Rico enlists in the Mobile Infantry, and we follow him through basic and advanced training, his first combat deployment, officer candidate school, and into commissioned leadership. Mr. Heinlein’s own military experience obviously influenced his writing in this novel.

There’s a reason this book is perennially on the Army Chief of Staff’s reading list. More important than an implied advocation for a less hoplophobic society, or its message about earning citizenship through service, Starship Troopers is a book about the responsibilities of leaders.

Aside from that, it’s just a really fun book. Some of Mr. Heinlein’s novels can be a bit challenging, but this one is straight up military sci-fi adventure. If that’s your thing (or you want something a little different from your usual), this is a book worth checking out.

Currently available on Amazon for as little as $1.33 (used) or $9.99 on Kindle.

Highly recommended.

Early release for Blood Debt!

Do you enjoy tales of high adventure and derring do? Stories about hard men and strong women? Well, have I got news for you!

Blood Debt: A Modern American Romance is now available on Amazon.com.

From the book description:

Mackenzie Boru earned the nickname Reaper from his colleagues in black ops due to his violent tactics and insane bravery. But when the US government no longer has need of his services, he retires the Reaper—or so he thinks.

Mac is now in the middle of his fallback plan. He’s gotten a PhD in history and has moved to Las Vegas for the climate and the female companionship. But then he finds a bit more than he bargained for.

Her name is Danni Greenbow, and she’s drop-dead gorgeous. She is a brilliant and outspoken software engineer. She also happens to be a transgender woman. Mac has had little experience with the types of challenges she has faced in her life, but he decides he wants to be there for every new one that arises.

Then, the unthinkable happens. Danni is kidnapped by los Toros del Diablo, a motorcycle gang that operates gunrunning and narcotics enterprises all over the Southwest. To find his girlfriend, Mac will have to become the Reaper once again, but will his killer instincts and commando skills be enough to bring Danni back alive?

The paperback is available now, and ebook will be released on Monday. If you purchase the paperback, and want the Kindle version as well, I’ve set it up so that the ebook will only cost you $0.99.

If you’re tempted, but not sure yet? Well I’ve posted the first five chapters as a free download here.

Read. Enjoy. And do, please, leave a review.