“Collision Force” by C.A. Szarek Delivers Action-packed, Erotic Romantic Suspense

Book reviews are always subjective. I try to judge each story on its own merits within its genre. Other than that, however, if a book can make me laugh, cry, yell at the characters (as opposed to the author) and pick it up at every idle opportunity then I usually consider that it has earned 5-stars. Thus, even though I’m not usually a fan of romantic suspense, much less erotic fiction, this one definitely earned its rank for me. As a bit of background, I won it in a Facebook “like” push so as a gesture of appreciation to the author plus the fact I had just finished a book and was ready for another, I decided to read it since it promised action. I must confess without naming names or titles that the last romance novel I tried to read is still unfinished after several months because it bogs down. When I’m between reads I still pick it up occasionally because it’s well written and I hate to leave anything unfinished, including a boring book, but quite frankly it reminds me of listening to a whiny friend with a plethora of self-imposed woes and hangups.

Romances are typically pretty predictable. Boy gets girl (or vice versa) by the end of the story. Sometime before that they’re going to hop in the sack with just how much you know about that interlude determined by whether it’s a light or erotic romance. This is the kind of story you read to escape. You don’t want to be stressed out, you want to be entertained. Everyone needs love and if you’re not getting much in your own life it’s nice to maintain some level of hope through falling in love vicariously through a character you can relate to. True love never runs smooth, as they say, and thus there’s plenty of fodder to build on before the final page and its implications of “happily ever after.”

Romantic suspense at least throws in some action besides that found in the boudoir. This story is about a woman cop named Andi and a male FBI agent named Cole who are thrown together when they’re working the same case. The sparks fly at first but their attraction to each other is strong. There are various conflicts besides those of a personal nature since getting it on with someone you work with tends to get complicated, particularly if it eventually involves an ugly breakup. Furthermore, all your coworkers are privy to your personal life which is not always favorable, either. So these two have plenty of reasons to resist, which of course they cannot do, and their mutual passion also becomes a distraction to the job at hand.

I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, even though I realize in many ways this is formula fiction and you can pretty much figure out how it ends. But romantic suspense is about the journey, not the destination. I was impressed with how well the author described what her characters were going through. You really got inside their heads, hearts and various other parts of their anatomy. The only thing I thought was a bit glossed over was the Texas small-town culture, where the story took place. I live in Texas and so does the author so I was surprised that about all that turned up in the story was the predominance of pickup trucks and a rodeo, both of which could have received a bit more attention to build a stronger sense of place. It’s a delicate balance to maintain, however, because description can slow things down and I must say that author kept things moving at a rip-roaring pace that kept me glued to the pages.

If you’re a fan of this genre I highly recommend this author. Even if it’s not your usual genre, I still recommend it as a change of pace. I enjoyed it tremendously and am highly likely to pick up more of her books in the future when I need a fast-paced, entertaining story to remind me that love is truly what makes the world go ’round.

http://www.amazon.com/Collision-Force-Crossing-Forces-Book-ebook/dp/B00DOTPX6A/

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Gender Equality: The Ultimate Oxymoron

Men and women will never be equal. They were never intended to be. It’s physically impossible. Furthermore, their brains function differently in ways that support their most basic biological function as intended by Mother Nature. While men have the ability to focus with sufficient concentration such that they become oblivious to anything else up to including a nuclear blast, women can multiplex. If they couldn’t, no child would ever live long enough to make it to maturity. One theory explaining this difference relates to physiological differences in the brains of the two genders. Supposedly, the corpus callosum serves as a barrier between the right and left brain in males but in females allows processing information across both sides simultaneously. This has led some women’s groups to claim rather rudely that all men have brain damage.

George Carlin summed it up nicely:

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I’m glad that statement originated with a man because I don’t want to offend any of my male readers. Of course that’s an over-simplification. I don’t think men are stupid, just different. And I know some women whom I would agree are definitely crazy, two I can think of offhand.

I consider the ideal relationship to comprise a partnership where each supports the other while carrying equal responsibility within their unique roles. By collaborating, synergism can be achieved. No, I’m not going to say that women should be home, barefoot and pregnant, and men should be the sole provider for their family. In today’s society that no longer works and it’s not the point I want to make. Rather, it’s that each gender sees things differently which is a good thing. Neither is right or wrong, stronger or weaker, good or bad. Pitting one against the other is the ultimate failed comparison between apples and oranges.

An true partnership is about carrying an equal load, not who does what. Some women are happy being the breadwinner while some men are content to stay home with the kids. It only gets complicated when both want to play the same role or, worse yet, one wants to do neither and thus sits around the house all day as exemplified so well by Peg Bundy or Jefferson D’Arcy in the old sitcom, “Married with Children.” These roles are best customized to the mutual satisfaction of the people involved, not by culture-dictated stereotypes. Preferences are also likely to change with time and age. For example, at one time I preferred mowing the lawn to doing dishes. Not anymore. Now that I’m retired I have a deal with my neighbors where I cook them dinner in exchange for keeping my 1/2 acre lot looking civilized.

One fundamental difference that I’ve observed is that, generally speaking, men tend to be naturally suspicious of other members of their gender, whom they perceive as competitors. The only way they get past this is to wear the same color uniform, literally or figuratively, which promotes male-bonding. Conversely, as a rule women tend to be less autonomous and have more friends, even though this brings its own share of complications. There have probably been more women betrayed by a false friend than men, who are more likely to duke it out in the parking lot and then go off together to enjoy a beer.

Of course thousands of books have been written about the battle of the sexes. I always thought that John Grey’s “Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus” did a pretty good job of spelling it out for relationships. Summing it up in a single sentence, women want to talk about a problem and men want to fix it. For women trying to survive in the workplace, which was originally designed and occupied nearly exclusively by men, “Games Mother Never Taught You” by Betty Harragan is an outstanding tutorial for navigating the corporate jungle. I can’t describe its content any better than its subtitle which declares, “Corporate gamesmanship for women.” But I digress, something I’m prone to do, perhaps because I’m a female whose brain operates like an old-fashioned pinball machine.

Nonetheless, the members of the supposed “weaker sex” seem more inclined to be helpful and nurturing toward others as opposed to competitive. One place where I’ve seen this come about is in Indie author support groups. I can name two right off the top of my head which were founded by women to provide direct help to other authors. There are definitely excellent groups out there founded by men as well, but it’s interesting to see how their functions differ. The groups set up by women tend to be more personal. All members are encouraged to be active participants, get to know each other, and provide help and answers for new writers as well as reviews and moral support for established ones. On the other hand, groups founded by men tend to be more focused on technology and services, operating more like a team, if you will. Both are effective and helpful but in different ways.

If you wonder where this blog is going, at this point I’ll tip my hand. It’s part of a blog blast and competition (probably a man’s idea) to promote the Rave Reviews Book Club. This outstanding group which comprises over 600 members of both genders was formed by author, Nonnie Jules, and is the ultimate in author support. New authors are often starved for reviews which this group helps provide. They maintain high standards via a Code of Conduct that assures the books they promote are not offensive. (In fact, this is a trait of both author groups to which I referred earlier which were formed by women. Some of us are still old-fashioned enough to want to avoid certain genres.) Activity is rewarded, particularly to those who recruit other members, since this is one group where “the more the merrier” is implicit to their mission to provide reviews.

If you enjoyed this blog I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d go to the following link and give it a vote! And if you’re an author who writes material considered “clean” consider joining this awesome group. You won’t be sorry. And be sure to mention my name when you do.

http://wp.me/P49Fi9-GG

“Ganwold’s Child” by Diann Thornley Read: All the elements of outstanding sci-fi explode with extraordinary detail

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This military sci-fi saga is not only extremely well-written but captures what sci-fi fans want most as far as alien cultures, strong heroic characters, and detailed space battles are concerned. Don’t be fooled by the title. This is far from a child’s bedtime story. While it definitely fits the story, it fails to convey the story’s complexity and depth.

The prologue describes how Tristan Serege and his mother, Darcie, become marooned on primitive Ganwold when the spacecraft on which they’re passengers comes under attack by masuk space pirates. Darcie is a medic in the military and her quick thinking allows her and her toddler son to get away in an escape pod which lands on Ganwold. Tristan thus grows up amongst the gan, a primitive but intelligent race with strong cultural traditions, one of which is reverence for one’s mother as well as all females in this matriarchal society. Tristan is accepted as one of their own in spite of being a “flat tooth.” His hunting partner, Pulou, is more like a brother since gan culture dictates a bond between them which is the ultimate in protection, devotion and loyalty up to and including death.

When Tristan’s mother, Darcie, develops a serious illness, Tristan knows it’s his duty to do whatever it takes to save her. This goes far beyond love for his mother; it’s more obsession that defies reason, set in stone by the influence of gan culture. He’s determined to find his father, Lujan, a war hero from a previous galactic battle, whatever it takes, and obtain the medical help Darcie needs to survive.

The only human settlement on Ganwold is a military outpost occupied by Dominion forces, the very ones that his father was key to defeating prior to Tristan’s birth. Nonetheless, it’s the only connection to the technology needed to leave Ganwold and find his father. Naively hoping to stow away onboard a spacecraft, Tristan and Pulou are captured and turned over to Governor Mordan Renier, a man who’s not only his father’s political adversary but a vengeful personal enemy as well. Renier proceeds to use Tristan as a tool to exact revenge on his father, who had long before given up that Tristan and Darcie might still be alive.

As part of his devious intent, Renier “cleans up” Tristan, whose appearance is initially less than civilized. His hair and nails are long, his mannerisms those of the gan even though his mother has taught him as much as she could. Tristan not only undergoes significant culture shock but is brainwashed with regard to who and what his father is as Renier puts on the facade of helping Tristan find his father and assistance for his ailing mother. Nonetheless, Tristan suffers much abuse at Renier’s hands but is fortunate enough that one of the military doctors who tends to his injuries is sympathetic to his situation.

Renier sends troops to capture Darcie as well and notifies Lujan that he’s holding his son hostage. Lujan is caught between saving his family and Renier’s outrageous demands which as a high ranking military officer he cannot ethically meet. He thus sends his own special forces team out to covertly rescue Tristan and Darcie. Peace was already tenuous and the situation escalates back into overt war.

As a military veteran the author does an excellent job with the military side of the story. The characters and their actions, including battle strategies and terminology, put you into the heat of battle. There’s a lot of violence in this story, both in the form of the abuse Tristan suffers as well as battle scenes. There are parts that are downright painful to read as many of the “good guys” don’t survive and sympathy for Tristan and Lujan is strong. Both are flesh and blood characters who are not omnipotent making them individuals with whom the reader can connect strongly. The story captures the heartbreak and internal conflicts of individuals caught in horrific circumstances, in this case against the stark imagery of interstellar war.

There are numerous analogies to the world today from the primitive wisdom of the gan, reminiscent of that depicted in the movie “Avatar,” to the savage brutality of the masuk which reflects “business as usual” in the Middle East. Star Wars/Star Trek fans won’t be disappointed by this complex story with its vivid imagery, strong characters, numerous subplots and nail-biting suspense. Better yet, its the first volume of a trilogy so fans don’t have to bid the characters a fond farewell as this story concludes.

http://www.amazon.com/Ganwolds-Child-Sergey-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B009SS3GM4/

Refractions of Frozen Time Blog Tour +Giveaway

Another stop on my book release Blog Tour including an interview and more Giveaway information!

~Spilling Words~

Book Blurb

“Refractions of Frozen Time” finds the Brightstars, your favorite space-faring family, more separated than ever before.  Laren is in the process of being exiled to the galaxy’s ultimate security prison onboard an automated spacecraft.  Creena, her little brother, Deven, and her mother, Sharra, remain in the Caverns, while Dirck and Win report to the Clique base at Apoca Canyon.

Deven discovers a new crystal which, combined with cristobalite, unlocks the portal between Local and Universal time, offering the potential Creena has been looking for to reunite the family at last.  There’s one problem, however.  Teleporting results in the correct location but the arrival time seems to be random, which has risky implications.  Before she can unravel the mystery, however, Integrator commandos find their underground hideout, forcing a harrowing escape loaded with unexpected consequences.  Believing they’re permanently lost, the dark and lonely days that follow change Dirck forever as…

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Blog Tour #Giveaway Trails Tetralogy series

Check this out to read my Guest Post and for information on my “Refractions of Frozen Time” Blog Tour #Giveaway!

Ink Spell Reviews

Book Blurb

“Refractions of Frozen Time” finds the Brightstars, your favorite space-faring family, more separated than ever before.  Laren is in the process of being exiled to the galaxy’s ultimate security prison onboard an automated spacecraft.  Creena, her little brother, Deven, and her mother, Sharra, remain in the Caverns, while Dirck and Win report to the Clique base at Apoca Canyon.

Deven discovers a new crystal which, combined with cristobalite, unlocks the portal between Local and Universal time, offering the potential Creena has been looking for to reunite the family at last.  There’s one problem, however.  Teleporting results in the correct location but the arrival time seems to be random, which has risky implications.  Before she can unravel the mystery, however, Integrator commandos find their underground hideout, forcing a harrowing escape loaded with unexpected consequences.  Believing they’re permanently lost, the dark and lonely days that follow change Dirck forever as…

View original post 1,313 more words

NEW RELEASE: Refractions Of Frozen Time by Marcha Fox

Many thanks to fellow sci-fi author, Ceri London, for this great post as “Refractions of Frozen Time” is released!

Ceri London

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“Author Marcha Fox has a gift for explaining the science. The world she creates in the Star Trails Tetralogy is genius, so well thought out and crafted. As the Brightstar youngsters observe and understand their surroundings, their conclusions can be coloured by their Miran schooling, but when they break old habits and open their minds in order to survive the hostile planet they must now call home, these children achieve the incredible. Quite beautiful.” Ceri London.

 BOOK DESCRIPTION A discovery that links two dimensions of time. . .A prison ship’s dirty little secret. . .Esheron has answers but will they arrive before it’s too late? "Refractions of Frozen Time" finds the Brightstars, your favorite space-faring family, more separated than ever before. Laren is in the process of being exiled to the galaxy's ultimate security prison onboard an automated spacecraft. Creena, her little brother, Deven, and her mother, Sharra, remain in…

View original post 1,435 more words