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IndieBooks Review – Shot Through the Heart: A Faerie Tale

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Shot Through the Heart: A Faerie Tale by C.A. King

Readers love myths, legends and fairy tales. Whether it has to do with vampires, werewolves, Greek gods or little red riding hood, mythical creatures and tales of magic and happy endings allow our imaginations to run wild while teaching us lessons in morality. More to the point, fairy tales have a legendary sensibility to them, which is why a lot of writers continue to re-envision these stories with a fresh eye, helping new generations believe in something otherworldly (and maybe teach them a lesson in life, love and friendship). Vampires were given sparkles in Twilight; King Arthur and Robin Hood have seen many  an iteration, and the most prominent re-imagining of fairy tale characters was in the television show Once Upon A Time. In Shot Through the Heart: A Faerie Story, C.A. King brings a new spin to a character not many have tackled, taking us behind the scenes of Cupid and adding a fun twist on the classic god of love and attraction. Read Full Review

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IndieBooks Review – Necrotic City

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Necrotic City by Leland Lydecker

Science fiction as a genre is very vague in its identity. The reason being, there are a plethora of sub-divisions within the sci-fi umbrella, which include space travel, time travel, alien planets, futuristic technology, altered states, multi-verses, wormholes, gritty noir, action, drama, comedy and of course realistic science. With Necrotic City, author Leland Lydecker adds political intrigue to that list, tackling a sub-genre that if done incorrectly, could damage a book’s popularity among particular groups of people. Lydecker, though, balances the heavy political material with enough tension and foresight as to allow each reader to utilize the lens of their own predilections to guide them in how the story unfolds and how they ultimately feel about the characters, what they do when confronted with certain decisions, what to take away from the story, and how it relates to the society we currently live and society as a whole. Read Full Review

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IndieBooks Review – Tomoiya’s Story: Escape To Darkness

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Tomoiya’s Story: Escape to Darkness; Written by C.A. King

When telling a story, there are a multitude of things to think about, the main ones being the main plot, subplots, character development, relationships, tone and themes. One that is just as important is the relationship between the narrator of the story being told and the reader. For most writers, this connection is ingrained in the art form. In other words, they don’t have to consciously think about it as they write; they simply understand what type of relationship one is looking to have with the reader, which could be anything from trust to ignorance. C.A. King’s novella, Tomoiya’s Story: Escape to Darkness, is a story within story, so the challenge of building a relationship with the reader is two-fold — there’s the overall narrator who is telling us the story of Tomoiya, and then there’s the secondary narrator conveying a story to Tomoiya. Because of this duel narrative, I couldn’t help but feel that I was missing something, even though the characters have some interesting layers and the ideas throughout are solid.

The Tomoiya of the title is a young girl who wants to know more about her favorite book, one left behind by her mother. We’re told through her eyes that the book ends with the wedding of its protagonist, Princess Allaynie, to her chosen suitor, Mijellin. But according to “the man” (our secondary narrator), the story itself is incomplete. Just before the wedding, a trader known as Wodon arrives and quickly finds out that Allaynie has a secret — she’s what’s known as a vampire. And not just any vampire, but a very rare breed that has special powers that can benefit Wodon greatly. He kidnaps her for his own nefarious purposes, but when she escapes, he becomes hellbent on destroying all vampires in the universe.

What’s inherent in this scenario is whether or not we can trust the man who tells the bulk of the story. What we’re getting is what amounts to a second-hand account of history, so it’s very hard to know how much is fact and how much is fabricated to enhance or alter the past in the man’s favor. Which is fine, however, without knowing who this person is, we’re never clear as to what motivates him, so to a degree, we can’t decipher what’s happening, or for what purpose, and so it made me feel as if I wasn’t in on all of the King’s secrets.

This isn’t just in regards to the narrator, either. Because of the nature of the format, we’re thrown into this situation without truly knowing who all of the characters are, and because of the length of the book (a quick 98 pages), King doesn’t allow us to spend the time with these characters to become familiar enough to understand and empathize with their motivations, forcing the reader to follow the actions of characters through ideas that aren’t fully fleshed out. And when one of the more interesting characters disappears half-way through the book and is never heard from again, it’s a bit off-putting.

I did find the changes to the vampire lore that King creates to be very interesting, however, it’s hard to follow as they seem to be some contradictory ideas as to where and when the lore started and/or evolved across the universe. Is this meant to take place close to Earth, where most vampire lore has seen varying iterations, or is this in a galaxy far far away, where this type of idea wouldn’t be known? Or is this the beginning of the lore, which would eventually expand across the universe to where we see it today? This confused me and drew a disconnect with the overall flow of the book.

The pace, though, is swift, which makes the story an easy read. But because of this, there are many holes where large chunks of time are omitted, forcing King to simply tell us what happened — sequences I wish we could have seen play out to some degree. I understand why it works in the context of the man’s story, but without being immersed into the visuals of these moments, we’re left with dry exposition, inevitably leading to moments that have no real impact because they happen so abruptly.

Overall, King’s ideas are good, and I liked a few of the characters, but would have liked to have had a much stronger relationship with the narrator, both from the author and the man within the story, so that I could connect with the characters on a deeper level and understand the difference between what was truly important and what was simply being told for effect.

My Grade: B

Born and raised in Halton County, Ontario, Canada, C.A. King is proud to be among the list of Canadian-born authors. King wasn’t always a writer; it wasn’t until her husband and both parents passed that King found her passion for the written word. After retiring from the workforce to do some soul searching, she found she could redirect her emotions onto the page, and in 2014, decided to follow that passion and publish some of her works. She hopes her writing can inspire a new generation of Canadian authors and add to the literary heritage and culture Canada has to offer.

Check out all of C.A.’s social media platforms:

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C.A. King

Author Blog

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Goodreads

YouTube

If you are an independent author and would like your book reviewed, let me know in the comments section with a link to where I can purchase the book. If I find it intriguing, and it’s something I think I’d like, I will purchase a copy and add it to my reading list. I will be doing one independent book review per month, so not all requests will be accepted.

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New Things Are Coming in 2018

Hello Internet and the world. This is Bryan coming to you from sunny California with a wee bit of an update on all things me, your personal Creative Genius™!

To begin, let me explain a little about why I was all but missing from this blog and social media over the past couple of months. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to finish a grand masterpiece of writing; that was sadly put on the back burner. No, the reason I was MIA for the better part of the last fiscal quarter was because I was focusing on rebuilding my website and figuring out ways to improve my presence on this very platform.

As some of you may know, I am pretty reserved when it comes to putting myself out there, so I’ve always been tentative about social media. I’m going to attempt to subvert that a little this year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not going to divulge a lot of personal things about myself, tell you where I am at all times of the day, snap pictures of every meal I eat, or go on extreme political tirades. What I am going to do is attempt to deliver more content to a wider audience. Along with my continued movie and book reviews, I’m going to be a little more vocal about my work — reporting on my progress, showing samples, and possibly (when it’s deemed appropriate) giving people a behind the scenes look at the process. I’m also going to attempt to deliver more thoughts on writing, design and the world at large, and be more attentive to others, hopefully showcasing a few more businesses, authors and the like.

But none of this will happen until I officially unveil my new website on January 26! Here’s a quick taste of what’s to come:

The entire site has been redesigned to be be more sleek, easy to navigate and completely responsive!

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First look at the home page of Phoenix Moirai’s new website.

I’ve also completely overhauled the portfolio page to give it a much more dynamic feel.

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First look at Phoenix Moirai’s new portfolio site.

And finally, I will be adding a separate subdomain specifically for weddings.

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First look at Phoenix Moirai’s new wedding site.

Once this is complete, I will be working to get both my author site and my film site completed. The author site will go live alongside the publication of my new book.

Speaking of my next latest and greatest, before I stopped writing to concentrate on my website, I was about 65% done with the first draft (which in terms of writing, means I am about 5% done with the book as a whole)! I will begin divulging more info over the next year leading up to the release, but all I can say right now to whet your whistle is that it’s a metafictioanal sci-fi/fantasy which I have tentatively titled, “Threads.” I am hoping for a November release, but we’ll see how the year goes. (Who knows, we may get to see it this summer!!)

That’s it for now. Again, look for more updates here on my blog as well as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Until then, live life as if you won’t see tomorrow.

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IndieBooks Review – Eomix Galaxy Books: Identity

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Eomix Galaxy Books: Identity by Christa Yelich-Koth

When you end a book, movie or an episode of a television series in a way that informs the reader or viewer that the story will continue, speculation, especially now through the use of the Internet, can run quite rampant. People who enjoyed your work may begin to dissect everything that happened and devise their own theories about what’s to come and what should happen to the characters they love, leading to high expectations that more than likely will be crushed under the hammer of the author’s plans. One recent example of this phenomenon is Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which subverted a lot of fan theories and upset a lot of people because it didn’t go the way they thought it should. This is a tricky thing to navigate for writers, but that shouldn’t stop them from telling the story they are inclined to write. It is up to the reader to subvert their own prejudicial expectations; if they can’t, there’s nothing the writer can really do about that. But when they can, it becomes a much richer experience for the reader as they enjoy the evolution of the story the way it was meant to be told.

In my review for Christa Yelich-Koth’s novel, Eomix Galaxy Books: Illusion, I thought it was a little off-putting that the book didn’t feel complete; the story abruptly ended without any real closure on the events that happened. My feelings haven’t changed after reading the second half of the story, Eomix Galaxy Books: Identity, which does a good job of bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion. The thing is, had the two books been combined into one larger piece, a lot of what feels superfluous and repetitious could have been stripped, leaving behind a story and pace that would have made the entire thing that much more riveting.

Identity picks up a few days after the events of Illusion, but the focus of the book dramatically shifts from the trials and tribulations of our original heroine, Daith, to a rescue mission orchestrated by her friend, Torrak. This shift might be somewhat jarring for those who are more interested in Daith and how she handles the events of the last book, but where I thought Daith and her journey was the most exciting part of Illusion, her storyline becomes quite flat for the first two-thirds of Identity, giving way for Torrak and his adventure to become the highlight of this chapter in the Eomix Galaxy series.

Because Torrak was a witness to Daith’s abduction by Trey Xiven, the commander of the Aleet Army, he is now a target of clean-up attempts by Xiven to hide what happened. When Torrak wakes up in the hospital, he quickly learns that he’s the only person who remembers Daith. Not even her own sister can remember (and when she starts to, the mind-altering drug she was given causes her to forget once again). So it is up to Torrak and his best friend Kalil to find out what happened and rescue her from Xiven’s nefarious plans. Along the way, the two unlikely heroes run into a bevy of colorful characters who help Torrak track her across the galaxy in one form or another, while being pursued by one of Xiven’s assassins.

Meanwhile, Daith continues her struggle to find peace with her new life. She still isn’t quite sure who to trust, and her determination for revenge grows stronger as Xiven and the Aleet Army get closer to their ultimate destination. To prepare her for the eventual war on Xiven’s home planet of Sintaur, Daith begins training with a new mentor, Cenjo, who starts to have reservations about where everything is heading. He isn’t quite sure Xiven is on the up-and-up, so he keeps a watchful eye over the both of them to hopefully prove himself wrong.

A lot of what happens with Daith feels a bit repetitive as she continues her training and fights her daemons — in this case, her dreams — for control over her powers. At the same time, some of what happens to Torrak feels like a waste of time, as it doesn’t do anything much for the story. Take for example a scene in which Torrak stops on a planet to fuel his ship. Though this is an example of grounding the story in reality, the entire moment of him landing and fueling takes up about a page or so where nothing at all significant happens. Something like this could have been mentioned in one quick sentence in passing and no one would have batted an eye as to the realities of space travel.

It is instances such as these when I wish Illusion and Identity would have been combined into one book. This way, the timeline could have been condensed so it didn’t feel so stretched out, and both Daith and Torrak’s stories could have been told simultaneously, making the pace much quicker and keeping our interest more contained.

But with all of that aside, the last third of Identity almost makes up for everything. Christa does a terrific job setting up all of the character arcs to lead to an explosive finale that is written with an extraordinary flair, wrapping everything up in a way that was wonderfully unexpected, giving weight to Daith’s character and ending Torrak’s wild, fun adventure on a high Illusion failed to achieve.

My Grade: A-

Christa Yelich-Koth is an award-winning author and graphic novelist, and co-founder and head of submissions for Buzz & Roar Publishing. Born in Milwaukee, Christa graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, which helps her when writing creatures and worlds in her science fiction. She writes because “I love creating something that pulls me out of my own world and lets me, for a little while, get lost inside someone or someplace else.”

Check out all of Christa’s social media platforms:

christa yelich-koth

Christa Yelich-Koth

Author Blog

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

YouTube

If you are an independent author and would like your book reviewed, let me know in the comments section with a link to where I can purchase the book. If I find it intriguing, and it’s something I think I’d like, I will purchase a copy and add it to my reading list. I will be doing one independent book review per month, so not all requests will be accepted.

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IndieBooks Review – Eomix Galaxy Books: Illusion

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Eomix Galaxy Books: Illusion by Christa Yelich-Koth

There’s been a debate among authors and readers of independent books for quite a while in regards to the etiquette surrounding a book series. As more and more authors choose the independent route over traditional publishing, there seems to be a mindset that you can’t be successful unless you’re writing a book series. One of the major points of contention is how to end the initial book in a series. Some say that if it’s a series, then we should know that everything may not wrap up properly; others will say a first book in a series should stand on its own. If you look at some of the more successful book series, such as Harry Potter or The Dark Tower, the answer tends to be the latter — the first book in the series may have an overarching goal that isn’t necessarily reached, but the book itself has a complete story. Only in the later books do the stories start to intermingle and become less structured, but by then, we’re already heavily invested. A lot of times, having a first book in a series that doesn’t have a complete story makes it feel as if the author opted to divide their story in two because they feel it was easier to sell two 300-page books as opposed to one 600-page book.

I’m not sure what Christa Yelich-Koth’s process was as she wrote Eomix Galaxy Books: Illusion, but even before you begin reading, you already know this is only the first book of at least two, so either it was planned that way or it was split for the sake of, in my opinion, an arbitrary word count. Either way is fine, so long as there is a complete story arc that doesn’t make the novel feel incomplete. Sadly, Illusion feels more like a movie studio splitting a novel into two parts simply to extend a series past it’s expiration date. Christa slowly and expertly leads her story on a path to a specific destination, but then pulls the rug out from under us by providing no closure without spending more money on the next book.

Illusion follows Daith Tocc, a normal girl living a quiet life until she’s abducted and has her memory completely erased by Trey Xiven, commander of the space vessel, Horizon. It’s quickly learned that Trey believes Daith to be the daughter of his former commanding officer, Jacin Jaxx, a very powerful being in the universe, and is hoping to use Daith as a weapon to secure peace in the Eomix Galaxy. To do so, he recruits his brother, Dru, to run several tests on her in order to find out if she truly is what he thinks, and whether she harbors the same power her father did.

The reason I felt there wasn’t any closure is because there aren’t any full character arcs. As Daith goes through her trials and discovers a few breakthroughs in her powers, nothing actually happens to solidify a change in her or any of the other characters. In other words, she learns how to tap into her skills, but with the exception of a few smaller moments and revelations, she doesn’t ever have a chance to utilize them the way I hoped she would (or in the way she eventually will in the next book).

That aside, the book does have some intriguing concepts and a few interesting characters. Both Daith and Dru are extremely likeable; together, they have some of the best parts of the book. Whenever Christa stepped away from them to focus on Trey, I wanted to get back to Dru and Daith and their budding relationship. For whatever the reason, Trey never really connected with me. I’m not sure if it was because of the character, how he was written, or because most of his focus was on the life of Jacin Jaxx, most of which fell a little flat for me. I was much more interested in Daith and how she was going to handle her newfound gifts than I was in learning the history of Jacin Jaxx and how he handled his powers.

Which brings up another interesting topic in the structure of the story itself. In the first chapter, we’re introduced to Daith before she gets her mind wiped, which is all well and good, but with a story like this, a lot of the intrigue comes with not knowing who she was before her memory was erased. By this I mean, the urgency of Daith’s predicament isn’t as strong as it could have been. Had we, the reader, woken up with Daith on the ship without knowing anything about her or her past, and were able to learn everything right alongside her, we would have been able to connect with her more than we already do, heightening an air of mystery that is non-existent since we already know why everything is happening.

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of Illusion is well-written (there are some moments that feel a little stale and dialogue that gets a little stunted), and Daith’s storyline kept me interested, I just wish we would have seen a better, more developed arc that led Daith to examine her powers beyond the mere accident or test that fill the majority of the book.

My Grade: B+

Christa Yelich-Koth is an award-winning author and graphic novelist, and co-founder and head of submissions for Buzz & Roar Publishing. Born in Milwaukee, Christa graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, which helps her when writing creatures and worlds in her science fiction. She writes because “I love creating something that pulls me out of my own world and lets me, for a little while, get lost inside someone or someplace else.”

Check out all of Christa’s social media platforms:

christa yelich-koth

Christa Yelich-Koth

Author Blog

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

YouTube

If you are an independent author and would like your book reviewed, let me know in the comments section with a link to where I can purchase the book. If I find it intriguing, and it’s something I think I’d like, I will purchase a copy and add it to my reading list. I will be doing one independent book review per month, so not all requests will be accepted.

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IndieBook Review – Transmuted

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Transmuted – A Sci-Fi Mystery by Robin Praytor

Science fiction has always been a vehicle for giving a twist to other genres. Whether it’s fantasy, drama, comedy, action or horror, science fiction has elevated these genres into a different realm by infusing aliens, spaceships, advanced and future technology, and time travel into those basic genres. In other words, if you to remove the “science-fiction” element, you’d still have a story to tell. When you’ve developed strong, relateable characters, created an intriguing plot and written smooth prose that flow across the page like butter across popcorn, you become invested enough to forget you’ve been transported to a different world and accept the weird things that come along with it. With her book Transmuted, Robin Praytor does just that – transports you to a world beyond our galaxy but keeps makes it fun enough to keep it grounded in a bizarre alt-reality.

Labeled as a sci-fi mystery, Transmuted takes place in the year 2519 on Dark Landing, a space station built upon an asteroid in the Zeta Quadrant. Due to the ability to travel through the vastness of space via wormholes, it’s not clear where Zeta Quadrant is, but it’s an outpost for traders from every galaxy to hang. The chief security officer of Dark Landing is Drew Cutter, a somewhat disgruntled man who seems to be fed up with everything around him, but still does his job with fierce determination — and a laxness for those he knows get in trouble but aren’t harmful to anyone. He runs the show with all the decorum he can muster and keeps his team, including Mattie, Curtis and Doc, in check and up-to-date on everything happening under his watch.

One day, there’s a massive explosion inside one of the docking bays. Drew and his team are on it, but there are dozens of questions, the most important of which is who planted the bomb and why. At the same time, Drew meets a wayward vagrant who happens to be an attractive young lady in disguise. She claims to be Letty, the daughter of a very important person in the intergalactic community who owns the company that basically built the systems the universe uses across its outposts as well as the security teams that run them. Letty tells Drew she was sent her to Dark Landing because Drew was the only person her father said she could trust. Unable to reciprocate that trust, he locks her up until he discovers some news that requires her help in sorting out.

The relationship between Letty and Drew is strong from their first meeting to the last page. Robin sets up a brother/sister relationship that stems on incest but clearly isn’t, as their is a soft spark regardless of how both ignore and/or refuse to acknowledge it. I think Robin may go on a little too much and harp on a little too often, though, about how Drew finds Letty obsessively attractive. After the first ten times, it’s like, all right, we get it; he’s infatuated with her. At the same time, this bombardment of fixation shows just how invested he is in her and plays well toward the end of the book, even when it starts to speed up a little too much and begins to spray the book with ex machina after ex machina to wrap things up.

It comes after Drew and Letty figure out what’s happening, and have basically solved the mystery, one which I did find pretty compelling, yet not complete… it’s as if Robin sort of gave up on her own mystery in order to keep the book from getting too long. She sets up several things three quarters of the way through that are never developed the way they could have been, and by the end, these developments sort of just dissolve away due to reasons that come off a little too easy and superficial. T the same time, the speed of the the last few chapters kept me from getting super involved, wherein the emotions that should have been brought out in us as readers are subdued because the stakes don’t seem as high as they should.

However, because of the interactions of the characters and the way Robin has developed them throughout the book, this quickened pace can be in a way forgiven. I like how each of the relationships grows and evolves, bridging the events with the heart of the book, which is the mystery. Robin does a good job at pacing the reveal of the answers, sprinkling them about at just the right times and just the right moments to keep us interested in the mystery itself and what’s happening and why. Because of this, the book moves at a pretty quick clip and does exactly what science fiction should do— make you forget that hooker monks, nanobots, wormholes and lifeless alien armada’s are at the core of a mystery surrounded by plenty of fun, intense action.

My Grade: A

Robin got into writing as a way to distract herself from the barrage of deadlines and to-do lists of her corporate life creating training materials and drafting legal documents. These stories demanded to be written, and like any good writer, she headed the call. Born in Michigan, Robin now lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her patient (and long-suffering) husband, and is in the process of completing her second novel.

Check out all of Robin’s social media platforms:

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Robin Praytor

Author Blog

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

If you are an independent author and would like your book reviewed, let me know in the comments section with a link to where I can purchase the book. If I find it intriguing, and it’s something I think I’d like, I will purchase a copy and add it to my reading list. I will be doing one independent book review per month, so not all requests will be accepted.

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IndieBook Review: First Words: Final Lesson

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First Word: Final Lesson by Shakyra Dunn

While I was reading Shakyra Dunn’s novelette, First Words: Final Lesson, I had no idea it was a prequel to a much larger world that has yet to be written. There is a small note in the book’s description that it sets the stage for a larger event, but it’s not as clear as it could be, so until I got to the very end and was given a taste of the actual first book in the forthcoming series (titled “The Final Lesson”), I was under the impression this was just the first book in a new series, when in actuality all it’s meant to do is showcase a few key pieces of information that should help in your enjoyment of the actual first book. With that said, the following review is on my initial read while under the impression that it was a complete novel that as opposed to a simple compendium setting up what’s to come. Read Full Review

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IndieBook Review – Gemini Gambit

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Gemini Gambit — A Novel by D. Scott Johnson

I’m a sci-fi geek. I can admit that. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved the idea of aliens and other worlds, futuristic technology and time travel. I believe it’s because they tend to explore the human condition while having the liberty to traverse strange new worlds and are provided the freedom to turn everything upside down on a whim without being branded impossible. That’s because science fiction  is inherently unrealistic — until it isn’t. The best sci-fi writers have a tendency to predict the future, the best of which have already innovated new technology before its time. Others have seen the future, or created technology and got it wrong, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any less worthwhile. It’s a way to study the what-if of human nature, to explore the tendencies of mankind and provide a unique opinion on what might happen if we continue down the road we all travel at any given point in time. And for me, it’s one of the greatest roads a man can travel to free his imagination. Read Full Review

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My Goals (and Challenges) for 2017

Now that 2016 is in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look ahead and see what 2017 may bring. There are a lot of things I wanted to do in 2016 (which include some of my 2016 resolutions) that sadly remained on the bottom of my to-do list from when the idea was born to the end of the year. I’m hoping to rectify that and pull those projects to the top and complete them in the first half of the year… if not sooner. Check out all of my Goals and Accomplishments

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