Reviews for Blink Are In!

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Blink has been out in the real world for about a week and a half, and the sales have been good, but the reviews have been even better. I seriously could have pulled lines from each of the reviews up on Amazon and Goodreads — all of them are so good. Allow me a moment of pride; Paul and I worked really hard on Blink and are hard at work on figuring out how to get Agent Smith and the Utility Company back on your Kindles. Here are a few quotes from some of the reviews up now on Amazon…


 

unnamed“The Swardstrom Brothers hit all the right notes in this tight little Super Science / Alternate Universes roller coaster. If the X-Files made you want more of the strange and mysterious government organizations battling not just with guns and smarts, but the occasional wit in the face of certain doom, then look no further. This is a great Friday Night read. A fun, fast, adventure where all is not as it seems.”

Nick Cole, author of Ctrl-Alt-Revolt

“…a book that I didn’t want to put down, even when life got in the way.”

Shay VanZwoll

“The story unfolds at a solid pace that always maintained my interest and when it hit a boiling point about mid-way through the novel, the pace became relentless and was extremely hard to put down.”

Chris Fried

“The Swardstrom brothers have co-crafted a sci-fi work of art. Together, they have written a novel that seamlessly transitions between protagonists (and worlds), never losing its brilliant voice, its sense of humor, its sense of the supernatural, its sense of adventure. This is an action packed tour de force that introduces a great cast of characters that I hope return again soon for a new adventure.”

Jonathan Ballagh, author of Stone & Iris

“This is a great book you won’t want to miss, it is like when you know you should go to bed but you just want to read one more chapter than just one more, than another and another, than the book is done and it is way past your bedtime…”

Trisha “Mindjacked” Perry

“The Swardstrom Brothers’ supernatural sci-fi world of Blink is a phenomenal meshing of classic pulp and contemporary Fringe. This is the beginning of something grand.”

Daniel Arthur Smith, author of Hugh Howey Lives

There is still time to get Blink for less than a buck — click on the link above to see what the reviewers are talking about!

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Book Review — Nomad

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Whew.

After reading Nick Cole’s The End Of The World As We Knew It and Matthew Mather’s Nomad within a day of each other, I was mentally exhausted. The two books wore me out. I described how Cole’s book was an exercise in retracing our steps in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse yesterday, but Mather’s book was a visceral look at a very specific end of world event. Both had the hallmarks of apocalyptic fiction, but they were as different as can be when it comes to the action and plotting.

nomadIn Nomad, Matthew Mather tears things apart. Families, countries, economies, planets, galaxies…all get ripped apart between the covers of his latest novel. I read his earlier book from this year — Darknet — and found it frightening in a way that was almost difficult to describe. In Darknet, the threat is real, but invisible. In fact, the antagonist can strike and be gone again without you even knowing it, the only traces are digital breadcrumbs left in its wake.

In Nomad, Mather does it again, creating an invisible villain — the titular astronomical anomaly — but the effects this go-around are more immediate, more violent, more physical. Instead of bank accounts and identities being torn asunder, it is the literal earth that undergoes an upheaval in Nomad.

The story is fast-paced and energetic from the get-go, placing all of our characters in Rome. Some are there for pleasure, some for work, and others are trying to hide from the authorities. The latter is our young protagonist Jessica. We first meet her while she is on a tour of an Italian castle with her mother, but her story goes much deeper and gives her a rich and detailed backstory. In fact, as the story kept unfolding, we kept seeing new aspects of Jessica’s character that led to numerous “aha” moments. Mather wonderfully wove her story in the fabric of Nomad and gives us a great character we can live through in this book as well as others to come.

What was great about Mather’s previous books was the scientific reality he’d grounded things in from the technological terror of Darknet to the scenarios he plays out in CyberStorm. The same is true for Nomad, with actual astronomical possibilities. In fact, the very anomaly he showcases in the book popped up in the news as a discovery in just the last few months. The terror of space really isn’t what we can see — it is what we can’t see, and Mather proves it with this book.

Mather takes the reader on a wild ride, and all of it feels genuine and authentic. Our characters are real and we want them to be real and to make it in the face of overwhelming adversity. With all that can possibly go wrong, can humanity go on? What will an event like this bring out? The best, or the worst in us?

As for the next books in the planned trilogy, Mather certainly has a plan for the second book with the path for our characters, but planted enough seeds along the way to make sure the reader knows the path will be rocky and difficult. I massively enjoyed this book and am very much looking forward to Sanctuary

Book Review — The End Of The World As We Knew It

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With the long weekend and another day off yesterday, I was able to polish off some of that reading list that never seems to shrink. I posted my review of Hank Garner’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son yesterday, but that was really the tip of the iceberg.

On Tuesday night, I finished Nick Cole’s latest book, The End Of The World As We Knew It (TEOTWAWKI). It was epic. It was grand. It was heartbreaking and yet hopeful. More on that in a bit.

In a Nick Cole hangover today, I finally got around to starting Matthew Mather’s Nomad. I kept hearing great things about it, but it just came out at a bad time to get to it immediately (same thing with Cole’s book). With a few hours riding in a car today, I figured it was as good as a time to start as any. I couldn’t stop. Any free moment I had, I was back at the Kindle, craving more of Mather’s version of the apocalypse. I LOVED it, but for different reasons than why I loved Cole’s novel. I’ll share my thoughts on Nomad later this week…first I want to get TEOTWAWKI off my chest.

teotwawkiFirst off…I hate Nick Cole. I hate that he can write like he can. I hate that he makes me care about his deeply flawed characters. I hate him so much I can’t help but love him just a bit.

I will admit when I first opened the book, I struggled with the first few pages. Found footage in book form. Ugh. It seemed like an unnecessary plot device, but after a few pages, it settles down. Yes, there is the aspect of these recordings and journals being found and pieced together, but the stories are quite broad and involved.  As a reader I found the two main stories quite distinct and after a while I forgot they were “found footage.”

In that case, it does draw comparisons to the modern-day standard in zombie fiction — World War Z. Max Brooks’ classic is well known for being a series of vignettes that are only tied together by the slimmest of threads (NOT the movie, which features Brad Pitt as a very capable thread). In this case, there is a sense of that as well, but instead of it showcasing the tales of survival (or death) at the hands (and teeth) of the zombies, Cole shows us the humanity left behind in its wake. He shows the emotions, the torment, the shame, the bitterness, the economics, the brutality, the…life that is left when the plague wipes out most of the nation. What he does better than Brooks from a narrative point of view is he uses the protagonists of Alex and Jasonn (mostly Jason) to find all of those aspects of humanity in the aftermath. Jason’s journey is one made by countless characters throughout literature, starting with Odysseus. He needs to find the love of his life, but with Alex he only has the vaguest idea of where to look. Along the way we see his faults, his fears, his failures on his trek from New York to Los Angeles.

There really is so much to take in along the way, Cole could have easily tripled the size of the book with the rich details he added with developed secondary characters. Shoot, Cole could write a whole other story with just the character of Chris, or The Lady, or…any number of them.

But we get Jason and Alex. Star-crossed lovers, separated by thousands of miles of land and millions of infected zombies between them. Who are they? What choices do they make? How does that affect everyone else? What does that do to their very souls?

I loved Nick Cole’s book. Described as “The Walking Dead” meets “The Notebook,” I can honestly say as someone who hasn’t watched either (I know, I know!) that this book delivers. If you like a healthy dose of philosophy and romance with your zombie literature, this book is for you. I really could go on and on about what I felt as I flipped each page of this book, but suffice it to say I felt all the things. I felt joy, sadness, anger, shame, courage, and fear. Cole places you at the center of the apocalypse and makes sure that you know that each character has their own apocalypse. Each person gets their own ending and even with similar circumstances, each ending is unique. Read this book. You won’t regret it.

Book Review – Tales of Tinfoil

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tinfoilWhen I think of tinfoil, I think of leftovers. Day-old pizza, a cover for a bowl of soup, you know…tinfoil. At least, that’s what they want to you to think.

You know who I’m talking about. Could be the government (which one? Take your pick.)…maybe its the Masons…the Illuminati…maybe whoever is covering up the truth is so skillful we have no idea as to their identity.

We’re all a little desperate to uncover the real truth behind the whitewashed truth we’re given in the media. We all believe something we might call a conspiracy theory. Because of those beliefs, David Gatewood’s latest short story anthology, Tales of Tinfoil, has a certain ring of truth to it, but also a whole lot of crazy.

I won’t go through all the stories, but suffice it to say the whole collection is a great addition to the world of indie publishing with some amazing stand-outs.

Now, you should definitely read past the first story, but the highlight of the collection for me was Richard Gleaves’ Under The Grassy Knoll. I debated for a while of whether the story was as good as I thought since it covered the ground of perhaps the biggest conspiracy theory of them all — JFK’s assassination. As I went back and forth, I realized that the original theory itself was partly what made this such an outstanding story. So many people have theories as to what actually happened that day, and Gleaves certainly showcases how own in the story.

Chris Pourteau’s story The French Deception is another treat, taking a look at another presidential assassination — this one of our nation’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.

And just to prove not all conspiracies surround presidents or moon landings, Ernie LIndsey’s story The Long Slow Burn surrounds the creation of a light bulb that will last forever. If one was built, would it ever see the light of day, or do so many jobs and money depend on the continuation of light bulb replacement that it would just get swept under the rug?

Tales of Tinfoil is a wonderful collection of 12 stories all devoted to conspiracy theories. Each one is a wild ride into the secrets we hold, or like to think exist behind the curtain. I would recommend the collection, not only to those with interest in conspiracies, but also to just anyone who loves a great short story.


Tales of Tinfoil: Stories of Paranoia and Conspiracy is available on preorder now and will be officially released on April 17.

Book Review – The Serenity Strain

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tssChris Pourteau is a perfect author for the Apocalypse Weird series. While the other novels give us explanations and grand statements about the end of all things, Pourteau straight up delivers an action-packed thrill ride in his book, The Serenity Strain.

Pourteau centers his story around Houston, a large city in its own right, but specifically hones in on a broken family. Mark works for the traffic management company for Houston and has already broken his marriage vows with a co-worker, Iris. Meanwhile, his soon to be ex-wife Lauryn and daughter Megan are trying to make it in a poor excuse for an apartment. When hurricane after hurricane after hurricane pummel the southeast coast of Texas, the three find themselves thrust back together, trying to survive a disaster exponentially bigger than Hurricane Katrina.

So what about the title of the book? The Serenity Strain? That is the brainchild of Dr. Eamon Stavros, a man who believes he can “cure” homicidal maniacs. He has given the serum to six individuals at the nearby prison with early promising results. However, in typical AW fashion, the serum backfires just as the hurricanes are making a mess of the city. Head of the “Serenity Six” is Peter Marsten, a serial killer who is now even more dangerous with Serenity focusing his thoughts. He breaks the six out of prison and they proceed to terrorize the city, acting as the precursors to someone even worse.

Out of all the AW books so far, the character of Marsten is the most evil, most gloriously psychopathic villain yet. One scene in particular is NOT for the faint of heart as Marsten really discovers who he is and the power he now yields.

Of course, Mark, Lauryn, and Megan are on a collision course with Marsten and his merry band of misfits with terrifying consequences. There are few moments of respite in this book and it makes for the quickest read out of all the AW books by far at this point because of that. Each moment acts as a springboard to the next with little fat in between.

You’ll love the Serenity Strain if you love great thrillers. In a very Dean Koontz-esque novel, Pourteau has given the Apocalypse Weird universe a wonderful and frightening tale.

Book Review – Reversal

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Reversal_FT_FINALHow to describe Reversal?

Take a Clive Cussler sea thriller, add a Lee Child Reacher murder mystery, combine it with a creepy supernatural Dean Koontz story, shove in a little bit of Stephen King’s The Stand along with March of the Penguins, and you’ll be close. Jennifer Ellis has pulled off a remarkable book that keeps you guessing at every turn with a mixture of sci-fi, supernatural, and good ol’ fashioned thriller.

I first became familiar with Ellis when I read the time travel anthology Synchronic. Her story “The River” was a fascinating and out-of-the-box time travel tale. Lucky for us, Ellis took the same tack when it came to her first entry into the Apocalypse Weird universe. It would have been easy for her to destroy a major city like L.A. or New York, or even something more familiar to any reader, but instead she took on the North Pole.

No Santa Claus here, but instead we are talking about the magnetic north pole. Instead of zombies or autoimmune diseases, Ellis supplies her apocalypse with pole reversal, solar flares, super volcanoes and methane-venting craters. The death toll is probably lower than any of the other AW books (except for the penguins. RIP penguins…) but the carnage is implied as the reversal of the magnetic pole causes GPS systems to go haywire, and the environmental disasters involved could potentially devastate the entire planet for years to come.

Our hero is Sasha Wood, a researcher at the International Polar Research Station on Ellesmere Island. She’s there with a handful of other scientists, including the station caretaker Soren Anderson. The trouble starts on the second day of the story when everyone wakes up blind (a common event to each of the AW books). Ellis really paints the picture of the Blindness really well, amping up the tension in the first few chapters and never letting it slide.

And that was one of the things I liked best about Reversal. The book never gives you much rest. There are a few “down” times, but even in those moments, Ellis tosses in bits of important information that relate to the causes of the event, Soren’s complicated history, or more and more craziness that is bound to happen next.

All throughout the book, Sasha and Soren have to deal with problems unique to a polar expedition. Instead of taking a car on the highway, they must travel via snowmobiles. Instead of having dogs for pets, the dogs are important survival tools. The accuracy to real polar research is amazing and a nice touch.

I really can’t say enough about Reversal and I hope Ellis gets a chance to play around in her polar playground once again.

Book Review – Immunity

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ImmunityCoverWhat if those experiencing the end times in the Apocalypse Weird stories could look at why it was happening? What if they were able to take a look at it all from a purely scientific basis and figure out what exactly was going on, and better yet – where it all originated?

That’s what we get in the form of E.E. Giorgi’s Immunity. We’ve seen the world get torn apart in Nick Cole’s The Red King, but in Immunity, we really take a look at why.

The story is told from the perspective of two protagonists – Dave, a computer specialist, and Anu, a genetic researcher. Together at a lab in a remote part of New Mexico, they work to solve the so-called “zombie flu.”

Being one of the first books written by someone besides Nick Cole, we find a different pace and a different style, and that is certainly welcome (and with Reversal and The Serenity Strain, we get two more diverse voices contributing to this crazy universe as well). Giorgi brings her background as a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory into play with convincing results.

What I probably enjoyed the most was seeing this remote laboratory – supposedly far away from the reaches of the strange apocalyptic events around the rest of the world – getting “infected” during the Blindness that had its tentacles everywhere.

In the end, we find that the virus that is a threat to so many has its roots deep in Anu’s past, and she may hold the secret to unlocking the virus and its deadly effects.

I really enjoyed the book and look forward to seeing more out of Giorgi in the future. Well done!