What Is This SPSFC You Blog Of?

If you saw my last post and were like “Yes, very nice, but what is this SPSFC of which you blog?” well I am glad you asked!

The SPSFC is the Self Published Science Fiction Competition and it is a brand new shiny annual competition designed to take around 300 books that are voluntarily submitted, vet them through ten teams of judges, and select one book as the very best of those 300 books!

As with all competitions there are certain criteria for book selections, which may or may not change slightly from year to year. This inaugural year is teaching the hosts and judges a lot! Our current criteria does include (but is not limited to) the book must be self published, over a certain word count, has to be SciFi, and either a standalone or the first in series.

The concept is loosely based upon the popular SPFBO and hopes to bring forth lots of reviews and eyes upon books! For this first round each team of judges (we’ll meet Team Red Stars in an upcoming post soon) starts with around 30 books apiece, and we’ll read 10-20% of each of those books then select ten books for the team to read in full. Once we’ve read those we will pass the top three books on to the greater group of all judges, and so will each of the other teams. Every judge will read all of those thirty and then we’ll winnow them down to a top ten, and then top one. It will be quite the process!

I can say that everyone really is very excited and eager to dive into these books! This will be a lot of reading and a lot of fun. I truly hope you follow along and hopefully you also discover some new to you books that are bright stars in the sky!

And that in a nutshell is this wondrous thing we call the SPSFC!

Time To Read For SPSFC!

Hello and welcome to Team Red Stars’ list of books to read for the first ever annual Self Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC)! I am thrilled and honored to be leading a team of judges for this year’s competition, and we will be meeting each of them in another blog post very soon! However this post is alllll about the BOOKS! You see the SPSFC takes around 300 self published SciFi books, ten teams of judges, divides those books between the teams, and then fierce reading and reviewing battles take place through a few rounds until there is a clear winner! Ok that is a bit of an oversimplification, but the core concepts are there! I’ll post another blog shortly diving into the details of the SPSFC for those interested in a bit more info. So moving along: the Team I am honored to be a part of gets to enjoy reading the following books to kick off our part of the SPSFC! So without further ado please allow us to unveil the 31 books that have been allocated to Team Red Stars: (ok one more “ado” please let me know which cover is your fave!)

Above the Sky by J.W. Lynne

Age Of Order by Julian North

Banneker Bones And The Giant Robot Bees by Rob Kent

Detonation by Erik A. Otto

Dog Country by Malcolm F. Cross

Dragon’s Baby by Miranda Martin

Edge Of The Breach by Halo Scot

Extinction Reversed by J. S. Morin

Eye Of The Storm by R. K. King

Infinite by Jeremy Robinson

Memories Of The Khassos by Leah Flaherty

Of Cinder & Bone by Kyoko M.

Petra by Matthew S Rotundo

Quinn Of Cygnus: Lift Off by A M Scott

Refraction by Carson Welker

Skybound by Lou Iovino

The Coldsuit by Andy Wright

The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin

The Echo Effect by John McGuire

The Golden Crunk Of Cringle by Ken Rudisill

The Jagged Edge by A. J. Frazer

The Lore Of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King

The Revolution Will Be Tokenized by Cristoph Brueck

The Shepherd Protocol by Fowler Brown

The Trellis by Jools Cantor

Things They Buried by Amanda K King & Michael R. Swanson

This Blue Ball by Wayne V. Miller

Turnabout by Carmen Webster Buxton

Wherever Seeds May Fall by Peter Cawdron

World Of Difference by WJ Donovan

Zenith by Arshad Ahsanuddin

Book 46 of….

Y’all know I’ve been reading the Horus Heresy for *does imitation of Obi Wan’s voice from Ep IV* “… a long, long time. A long time.” and truthfully I’ve really been enjoying it! Admittedly when I first started reading it the first time through I thought they were moving too fast by the third book and worried they’d have it resolved by the fifth book. Wow was I wrong! I remember getting so frustrated that the series went sideways that I bailed at book 8. It was years until I returned and started over, and I’m thankful I did and that I had a better understanding of what I was getting in to.

The Horus Heresy is a story about a galactic civil war and the writers (there are multiple working together) are going to show you every aspect of it, which really does make it galactic in scale!

I’ve written about this series before, and given updates as I have journeyed through it, but as I just completed book 46 Ruinstorm, and started book 47 Old Earth, I just wanted to pause for a moment and say: Damn. I love this series!

Ruinstorm by David Annandale hit pause on the series to take us across the Galaxy to three Legions of forces trying to get back to Terra to stand beside the Emperor in his hour of need, but it’s ok because the book before it (Tallarn by John French) ALSO hit pause on the series to take us to a specific planet with a specific part of the war (also Tallarn was INCREDIBLE). I say all that to say: this series hits pause on the doomsday clock often, and it normally works out!

While this is a review of Ruinstorm, it is more a review of the entire series itself. I have to say I am loving reading it and the fact that I can be almost 50 books into a series and still be loving it should speak volumes (see what I did there?) so if you like Military SciFi with a good dose of GrimDark then don’t hesitate on this series.

A Must Read Author

Every reader has a must read author or two that they absolutely love reading and HAVE to read everything the author has written! It’s an instant buy when you see their books, or a preorder when you hear that they have a new book coming soon. You just have to read their books! Like drop your TBR pile on the floor and grab this book!

For me Benjanun Sriduangkaew has become that Must Read Author! I don’t properly have the words for how amazing I find her stories to be! Each new story just leaves me saying THIS IS WHAT SCIFI IS SUPPOSED TO BE! Yep. That good.

Not only are the stories amazing but so are the covers and titles! I am a title buyer. If I see a cool title I want the story that goes with it! And there is one of her short stories that has the GREATEST title that I’ll share at the end of this post.

So what type of stories does she write? Space Opera! I loveeee a good Space Opera! Star Wars is a good example of Space Opera, or Iain M Banks’ Culture Novels. Galactic battles and larger than life consequences to actions. BUT she tells the stories differently. They aren’t told from the perspective of the colonizer, but from the colonized! The apocalypse has happened for these characters and now they must deal with the Empire that is trying to subjugate them. This perspective matters.

This is smart and bold SciFi that is powerfully written that shows society that has progressed but still has lessons for us today. Highly recommend.

Where to start? Well remember I told you about a fantastic title and said I’d share it? Allow me to share it and suggest this short story as an excellent entrance to Benjanun’s work!

You And I Shall Be As Radiant is a perfect intro for a new to Benjanun reader! This short story with an amazing title will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

Benjanun Sriduangkaew has become a must read author for me, and if you give her a shot she might just be for you too!

April Fools TBR

What is one book on your TBR that you’ve been saying to yourself for ages that you’ll eventually one day maybe perhaps sometime soon get to it and read it? That ONE book you never quite seem to get to no matter how much you PROMISE you will get to it? Let’s read that book in April!

We ALL have one or two of those books that always get shuffled down our TBR no matter how often we set it atop the pile and promise we’ll read it next. This April lets give it a go!

The goal of #AprilFoolsTBR is to finally give one of those books a go! They’ve waited on us long enough so each of us should pick one up and give it a read! It doesn’t have to be the same book as anyone else is reading, this is a unique sort of buddy read where we join in solidarity and read a book that we have wanted to read for ages!

Are you up for joining in the fun? Share what book you’ll be reading!

The Winner Of RedStarReviews Favorite Book Of The Year Award For 2020 is…

That is a super long title for a blog post and for an award! However it is perfect for the goal of the post which is to unveil the winner of this (potentially) highly sought after award! Each year I select one book out of all the books I’ve read that year and crown it as my favorite! I typically leave out rereads, otherwise I might end up with repeat winners as I like rereading my favorites, but my criteria for selecting my favorite book of the year is: It is my favorite book out of all the books I read that year. I really want to get stickers made to stick on the books that win! Maybe one day.

Some of the previous winners

This past year I read 104 books. 20,241 pages according to GoodReads. 2020 was the first year since my children were born that I broke 100 books! It was a great year of reading and there were quite a few books in the running for this award! I’ll share about the runners up later though. This post is about the winner and it is time to tell you what book won!

The winner of 2020’s RedStarReviews Favorite Book Of The Year Award Is:


Y’all, Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen is a PAGE TURNER! One of the most unputdownable books you will ever read! The sort you take with you everywhere you go while you are reading it because you really want to keep reading it! It is the opening book to a Space Opera trilogy and it is one that will grab on to you from the start and hold on to you until the very end, and then refuse to let go of you after you have finished it. This book is an overload of your senses. There are scenes in here that you experience every bit as strongly as the characters themselves!

The story is about many things, but one aspect I loved is how it is about finding your people. It is about discovering not only yourself but also your found family. The raw emotional experience this is for the character is incredibly well relayed. This story is one that shows you what SciFi can be! And interestingly enough pairs well with Argyle Park. Seriously! 90’s Industrial Music really fits into so many scenes of this story.

Congratulations to Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen for winning 2020’s RedStarReviews Favorite Book Of The Year Award! The books that win this award are the ones I really wish I could inspire everyone I know to read them. To help with this goal please check out chapter one shared by the publisher Orbit Books: Chapter One Of Nophek Gloss

A Snippet Of A Space Opera!

Y’all know I love a good Space Opera! The galaxy wide themes, everything living at stake, huge empires colliding, all of it makes for very dramatic stories! However in the midst of those mighty Space Operas it is easy to miss out on all the little side stories that would combine together into the greater tale. That’s what reading The Long Lost War by Jeff Walker brought to my mind!

This brief SciFi story is cinematic in nature! It felt like something that would easily translate to the big screen, and dealt with deep questions while not slowing down the ever moving plot line!

It is a short SciFi story that features clones and warring forces, and one clone who seeks to question everything going on around them. One who needs to know the why of things. Is there a purpose to this war? How long has it been fought? What are the goals? Can it be stopped? Why isn’t anyone else asking these questions?

This story delivers. It pushes you to think and leaves you wondering. Really fun, quick to read, I recommend giving this SciFi a read!

Storytellers On Tour: The Wrack

Let me just start out by saying you should read The Wrack by John Bierce! This book is such a unique Fantasy! I’m really happy I had the opportunity to join in on this blog tour featuring this book and thankful to Storytellers On Tour for allowing me to participate! Please click that link to view the tour schedule so that you can see all the great reviews by other reader/reviewers who also took part. Ok ok I know you’re interested in what this book is all about so without further ado I present to you the book blurb:

(Ok so a little more ado in the form of this excellent cover art)

Book Information

The Wrack by John Bierce

Published: April 23, 2020

Genre: Epidemiological Fantasy

Age Group: Adult

Pages: 232

Book Blurb

Plague has come to the continent of Teringia.

As the Wrack makes its slow, relentless march southwards, it will humble kings and healers, seers and merchants, priests and warriors. Behind, it leaves only screams and suffering, and before it, spreads only fear.

Lothain, the birthplace of the Wrack, desperately tries to hold itself together as the plague burns across it and its neighbors circle like vultures. The Moonsworn healers would fight the Wrack, but must navigate distrust and violence from the peoples of Teringia. Proud Galicanta readies itself for war, as the Sunsworn Empire watches and waits for the Wrack to bring its rival low.

And the Wrack advances, utterly unconcerned with the plans of men.

I had never heard of Epidemi… that word that I’d have to copy and paste to spell… Fantasy before, and so this was my very first dive into this subgenre! It was FASCINATING! Most Fantasy books focus on characters or a quest, so I started reading this book with that as my loose expectation. I was wrong. The structure of this book is uniquely situated so that each chapter reads like a short story, and those short stories follows the plague! There are characters who reappear as the story develops, but the main driving force of this book is The Wrack itself, and it is neat to see how it develops as the story unfolds! That said there is one chapter in particular that just gripped my heart featuring a beautiful soul of a person who finds themself isolated in the desert. You’ll know it when you read it, and I’ll bet you tear up too just like I did.

For me the ending of a story really matters. I can forgive all kinds of flaws in books if you give me an ending that causes me to stop and say “That is the right ending for this story” and this book delivers on that. With the structure of this story it can be tricky to end a story like this but the author pulls it off masterfully.

Speaking of the author here are some links if you would like to know more about John Bierce:

Website: https://johnbierce.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/john_bierce

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/johnbierce

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18510329.John_Bierce

Now one thing I really enjoy about this book blog tour is that not only am I able to read this excellent book and encourage y’all to read it, I am also able to tell you that you can win a free physical copy of the book! There are five copies being given away free! Details on that are found here.

Seriously I hope you give this book a read! You can find it on GoodReads and on Amazon and I think you will really enjoy it. One thing I neglected to mention earlier is that if you enjoy WorldBuilding (and I do) then I think you’ll really appreciate this book! It is a bright star in the sky worth noticing.

Welcome To The New Season!

I have arbitrarily decided to end the first season of the RedStarReviews podcast and commence a new season! There are several reasons for this. One is that I figured out how the season and episode numbering system worked! That might be the primary reason. But after twenty episodes it felt right to step back, examine what I am doing, and start in a fresh way!

The podcast is the creative joy of my book reading and reviewing life! It is so much fun for me in so many ways. It allows me the creative outlet of teaching and public speaking that I have missed since leaving behind that aspect of my life. It encourages deeper studies into topics of interest for me, and above all else it creates deep and meaningful connections between me and those that listen and interact. It means so much to me that people take time out of their days to listen, and I will always be thankful and respectful of that!

For those of you who might have been unaware of my podcast, or who haven’t had opportunity to dive in yet the good news is season two is a perfect starting point! I’ve tried to design it so that you can come join and not feel like you’re missing a beat. Then if you want to take a deeper dive there is always season one to go back and enjoy at your leisure.

My goal is as it always was to have two episodes produced and released a month. The reality is that I’ll most likely just be releasing one episode a month, but hey it’s all about having and pursuing goals! Right now I’m talking about 90’s comic books and trying to share some of my love for this unique time in the industry, and I have more lined up for you this season that will bring us back to Books and even some Movie conversations! I am excited for what is to come.

I really hope you give the podcast a listen. It’s available on Anchor on Apple Podcasts on Spotify on Google Podcasts on Breaker on CastBox on RadioPublic and on Sticher which is amazing since when I started my podcast I really only knew about Apple Podcasts!

Today’s blog is really to say a big THANK YOU to all who have listened before and that I hope you continue listening along, and a welcome to all new listeners, and an invite to everyone who has not yet listened to give it a try! Thank you all. I hope everyone has a great day.

What Is Warhammer40K?

So what is this Warhammer40K I keep posting about, and how does it tie in to Horus Heresy, and if there is there just a Warhammer without the 40K? And what is it all about? Is it a book series? Or a game? Well I am glad you asked, if you asked, and if you didn’t ask but are still curious then hey this post is still here for you!

Warhammer40K (or WH40K for brevity) is the SciFi aspect of the Warhammer universe. Warhammer without the 40K is their Fantasy brand. They loosely tie together and the underlying concepts are similar, but one is in a far distant past and the other is in the far flung future. Mankind is fighting in both against the forces of Chaos that would love to destroy us all, and there’s elves and orcs and undead and monsters and rebels and lions and tigers and bears! Ok so that’s a bit silly, but you get the idea. The Fantasy is the dark history and the SciFi is the dark distant future. Both story universes are constantly expanding. And both story universes are based upon…..

A game!!! That is right! Warhammer and WH40K are role playing games of mass variety. You can play small crew/solo adventures or play massive army on army warfare depending on what you are wanting to play and invest in. it is a pretty fun and immersive game experience that is well thought out. There are all sorts of suggestions on how to get involved, where to get the miniatures you use for the games, painting tutorials (because what you paint your army matters as much if not more than what army you collect!) and all kinds of resources. If you are interested in that then a good starting point is at the source: Games Workshop has a lot of pointers on where to begin and resources to offer. Also feel free to message me if you have questions and I’ll try and help out with answers! I am definitely not an expert, but I can help look for answers.

But! WH40K (and Warhammer but my focus here us more on the SciFi) is much more than just an amazing game! It also is a universe in which several talented authors weave stories and tell tales of great conflicts and incredible feats of strength and endurance. About how humanity is always on the brink of destruction but somehow still stands against the darkness! GrimDark Military SciFi at its finest! If you aren’t sure where to get started I highly recommend Gaunt’s Ghosts as a great intro! This series follows a group of weary soldiers without a home who keep fighting for humanity because they really keep fighting for each other.

The Horus Heresy fits in to WH40K by taking place 10,000 years prior in which Chaos came closest to destroying us all and it is a magnificent book series. Y’all have heard me go on and on about that and I’ll continue to do so, so you are probably most familiar with that.

So Warhammer is Fantasy, WH40K and Horus Heresy are SciFi, they are all table top games, and books, and video games, and they’re also community when you dive deep into it. For me the primary interest is in the books, but I love the game as well and find that painting the miniatures is a but meditative. This brings our intro to an end while barely scratching the surface so keep watching for more and reach out to me if you have more questions!