Category Archives: Stars In The Sky

Announcing Our SPSFC Round One Top Ten!

As stated in the previous post right now Team Red Stars has completed our initial reading allotment for the Self Published Science Fiction Competition and have cut 21 books from our 31 book allotment. This leaves us with 10 books to read in full and then advance 3 of those 10 into the next round. This means we have a Top Ten from the first round! Let’s take a look at these 10 books! Here they are in no particular order:

REFRACTION by Wick Welker

This one has me intrigued! Not sure where the story will go but the main character has me compelled to learn the answers!

ZENITH by Arshad Ahsanuddin

I was hooked from the get go! SciFi with Space Travel? Yes please!

OF CINDER & BONE by Kyoko M

I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting when I opened up this book, but the character interactions won me over immediately!

EXTINCTION REVERSED by J S Morin

What if we humans were gone? Would those that came after care to restore us?

AGE OF ORDER by Julian North

You can’t help but cheer on this main character!

ABOVE THE SKY by J W Lynne

As you turn from page one to page two you realize this is a book you WANT to read!

THE SHEPHERD PROTOCOL by Fowler Brown

The more you read the more this story pulls you in.

WHEREVER SEEDS MAY FALL by Peter Cawdron

Really getting Rendezvous With Rama feels! That is a good thing.

THE TRELLIS by Jools Cantor

Details matter and this one has the details that matter!

DOG COUNTRY by Malcolm F Cross

I had a hard time stopping reading this one to get to the first 10-20% of all the other books on the allotment!

There you have it! Team Red Stars’ first round top ten for the SPSFC! We encourage you to read along with us as we seek out the best self published SciFi book! Please check out our team’s blogs for further info on our Top Ten and all other things SPSFC related for our team:

Chimings

Susy

William

J.W.

Follow along and let us know your thoughts on any of the books we’re reading! We’d love to hear from you!

SPSFC First Round Cuts For Team Red Stars

Team Red Stars has completed our first round of reading! So we read at least 10-20% of 31 books and then selected ten to read all of before passing three of those on into the next round. This means that we sadly had to select 21 books to cut from the competition. This has not been an easy choice!

However at the heart of the Self Published Science Fiction Competition is the goal of bringing increased visibility to Self Published SciFi so after discussing it our team decided together to share mini reviews on the 21 books we have cut after the initial sample. Hopefully this helps the books gain more visibility and readership!

I’ll be featuring five of the books here and you’ll find the other sixteen divided between three of the other team members: William Susy and Joseph will feature their posts at the same time as this one. Soon after this we’ll unveil our inner top ten that we’ll whittle down to three. Without further ado here are the five cuts I will be featuring, and personally intend on reading further in at a later date!

THE COLDSUIT by Andy Wright

I really enjoy the premise and execution of this story! A conflict between humans and aliens, with a young individual who is caught between the two and torn on the inside about which is truly the side they should be supporting. I found this story to be emotionally moving, and truly intriguing. PLUS! I loveee the cover! This is a cover that catches my eye. The characters are well constructed and the author gives the depth within quick sketches that don’t slow down the story.

QUINN OF CYGNUS: LIFT OFF by A M Scott

Such an excellent lead character! I can’t wait to see what adventures Quinn has! A young girl with a large destiny and a strong will who sets off across the galaxy to find what her future holds but ends up battling for her life. This is a VERY interesting story with great promise. One of the better main characters I’ve come across in a while, and very well written! Really draws you into the character’s life and story right from the start. Also a cover that I just love!

PETRA by Matthew S Rotundo

Petra had me hooked right from the start! In the star travel age there still is crime and imprisonment, but what if that prison were a whole planet, and what if there were dark secrets hidden in the system, and a person positioned perfectly to bring them to light, while a prison planet uprising is brewing! I normally don’t do the “this book reminded me of this other author” comparisons in my reviews, but in starting this book I was immediately drawn back into my teen years when I started reading an author by the name of Timothy Zahn. I really felt like I was reading something Zahn might have written, and just enjoyed the magical ability some stories have to draw you in and make you forget everything but the story you are reading. That’s an incredible gift to encounter, so I am eager to see where this story goes!

THIS BLUE BALL by Wayne V Miller

This Blue Ball by Wayne V Miller was not the story I expected upon reading the description! It is intriguing, engaging, and quite the adventure to try and sort out what the story within the story is. I really enjoy a book that makes you pause and consider what you just read, and here is one that will do just that!

THE COMBAT CODES by Alexander Darwin

What interesting world building right from the start! A SciFi in which the fates of planets are determined by single combat, and this is the story of those warriors. Excellently written in a style that draws you in and keeps you turning page after page, this is a fully realized story that I enjoy reading! Solidly interesting characters coupled with a promising concept that is delivered well. I really want to get to know more of these characters!

There are the five cut books I am featuring on my website. As stated above please check the websites of my fellow team mates for the other sixteen we cut, and we’ll share the ten we will be reading in their entirety soon. BUT please let me encourage y’all to click on the links for these five very interesting books and give them a try yourself! I think you just might discover a new favorite author or two if you do!

Announcing Upcoming Announcements For SPSFC!

As y’all know I have the joy of working with Team Red Stars for the amazing SPSFC and we are almost ready to announce our cuts from our initial allotment of books! We will then follow that with our release of our Team’s Top Ten Books from the allotment. These are the ten we will read in full prior to passing three along to the third round of the competition.

So what does all this mean? Well I am glad you asked because I value communication! Our team was given 31 Self Published SciFi Books to read 10-20% of and then cut 21 of those books, leaving us with 10 to read in full. We have worked hard at this and while it has not been easy to cut those 21 books we have done so and we look forward to sharing these cuts with you soon!

Why are we not sharing the cuts yet? Because at the heart of the SPSFC is a goal to bring greater visibility to more Self Published SciFi Books! So our team talked amongst ourselves and we have decided that we want to provide feedback not only on our Top Ten but also on the 21 that were cut. This can take a little time to write up. So we are creating a soft deadline of next weekend.

Now to break the fourth wall as it were and talk directly with y’all, I started this blog post hours ago and had to pause it to take care of and spend time with my family, and as I write this I’m just thinking about and appreciating how much of a labor of love this is for the reader/judges and also for the authors! Everyone is pouring in their personal time here, and I want to say a heartfelt thank you and we see you. Thank you.

Ok so the goal: next weekend (Nov 13,14) our team will give brief reviews of each of the 21 books we are cutting, and then we will post our team’s top ten!

So please check out our teams blogs and follow along for this fun journey! You can find us here:

https://jwwartick.com

https://williamctracy.com

https://susyscozyworld.wordpress.com

https://musingofsouls.wordpress.com

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

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.

READ THIS BOOK!

If there is one book I could convince you to read right now it’s this book I’m about to tell you about! As y’all know one of my goals with RedStarReviews is to draw attention to books that are published either independently or via a small publisher with my Star In The Sky reviews. The concept is that there are so many stars shining brightly in the sky and I want to use my platform to point out some that have grabbed my eye and today I have a very bright shining star of a story to share with you!

The Deadbringer by E M Markoff is the first book of The Ellderet Series and it is AMAZING!!! The author is a member of the Bookstagram Community and I somehow missed that she was an author! One day I saw her post about her characters and thought that they sounded cool so I decided to give the first chapter of the book a try. I hoped I’d like it. I didn’t just like it, Reader, I LOVED IT. This book is so damn awesome! It is a Dark Fantasy with elements of Horror within it. The world created by the author is interesting, the characters are so alive they could step off the pages and into your home. The interpersonal conflicts are some of the best I’ve ever encountered in a book in my reading life. This is a book that grabbed ahold of me and refused to let go! Seriously if there is one book this year that I recommend that you give a chance to please let it be this book! E M Markoff has created such an incredible story that I know you’ll love. After you’ve read it please let me know what you think!

If you’d like to hear me talk more about this story check out the latest episode of my RedStarReviews Podcast

Also! Another reviewer of books Nick T Borrelli has constructed a list of his Top Ten Favorite Fantasy Series and it is an excellent list! It’s inspired me to construct my own top ten so right now I’m stuck with 16 possibles and trying to narrow that down so I can share it with you. Hope to have my list for you soon, but please check out Nick’s list while waiting, and please read The Deadbringer!

A Bright Star With A Unique Voice!

As y’all know one of my goals is to feature independently published (or small publisher) books that I feel shine brightly in the night sky! I want to bring quality stories to your attention that you might otherwise miss, and I have an excellent one to bring to your attention!

Abigail Rhodes: Seeds by Michelle Allen is one of the more uniquely twisty turny stories that I’ve read! The author’s unique voice shines through as the story draws you in deeper and deeper with each new revelation. The description from Amazon sets the stage well:

The Lamp Light Society believes they own the world. The Organization believes they can control it. In a world where humans, monsters, and even gods are attempting to maintain a fragile balance, an unknown entity has arrived whose agenda may only be chaos. Her name is Abigail Rhodes.

Right from the start you are thrown into this world, but you don’t feel lost! You feel intrigued and curious. Before you know it you’ve read more, and the style has drawn you in while the substance grabs ahold of you! I was very impressed by the story and found that I couldn’t set it down. I had to keep on reading to see where it went, and now I can’t wait to see where the next story the author tells will take us!

This is a bright star that is worth your attention, and a story that will intrigue you! I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it so please give this book a read and let me know what you think!

This Story Has Heart!

As y’all know I feature independent or small press authors that I really think shine like a bright star in the sky. I’ve just read one that burns so brightly it’s like a nova! It is in contention to be one of my favorite books this year!

What book is this? It is The Heart Of Stone by Ben Galley! A standalone fantasy that is full of old magic, new characters, and a fresh story! 

The Heart Of Stone is the story of Task, a 400+ year old golem who has been created by and enslaved to treacherous warlords who have forced him to unleash devastation on wartorn lands. All the while ignoring or actively trying to destroy the conscience that burns within Task. 


But Task isn’t the only amazing POV character! You have a villainous warlord, a treacherous spy, a brave girl, and a cowardly hero! All bring powerful perspectives to an engaging story. Each character compels you to turn the pages so that you can see what happens next. 

I tore through this book. I could barely stop reading it to sleep! It kept me up well past bedtime and had me waking up early to sneak in more reading. I love getting to see humanity through the eyes of an ancient being and Ben Galley delivers on that concept.

The Heart Of Stone is a book I think you’ll love and I’m encouraging you to check out this bright star in the reading galaxy. It’s a rewarding read that’ll leave you fulfilled while still wanting more. You can find it for sale here. Let me know what you think about it once you read it! I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this awesome story.