We have now moved to NRLaPoint.wordpress.com.
My latest novel, the 80’s action and anime influenced Gun Magus is now up for pre-order on Amazon! Other outlets might be available shortly. Some technical difficulties on that end.
Low on luck, but not ammo
The last thing Kenneth Jericho needed was
a gunfight and car chase with human traffickers.
What started as a bad morning only got worse.
A flash of light sends Ken to a strange world
filled with magic, hideous monsters, beautiful women,
and seemingly unlimited ammo.
With pistol in hand, Ken is thrown into
a race against time to stop a local ganglord’s reign of terror.
But is the thug the brains behind the violence,
or is someone – or something – else
pulling his strings?
Looking for exciting indie fiction? The MASSIVE summer book sale organized by Hans Schantz has plenty to choose from! There is something for everyone here and I’ve reviewed a bunch of the titles on sale. If you haven’t checked out amazing authors like Declan Finn, Ben Cheah, J.D. Cowan, Karl Gallagher, Denton Salle, Hawkings Austin, or T.J. Marquis, now is your chance!
And of course one of my books is on sale as well!
Soulfinder: Demon’s Match from Iconic Comics is getting some great attention at the time of writing this (very long) overdue review. And it is well-deserved.
Mainstream comics are zombie golem imitations of their former glory. Indie comics are very hit or miss. Then there is Iconic Comics. Iconic Comics is leading the way in the world of independent graphic novels with high quality artwork and entertaining, worthwhile stories of likable, heroic figures. Soulfinder is no exception.
This is an origin story of sorts. And it also serves as punch to the painfully tired “priests are bad” trope. Our protagonist, Father Retter, is a vet-turned-priest, and he embodies everything positive I’ve encounter in real-life priests. From his attitude to the self-sacrifice of his vocation… I’d be surprised if this character didn’t put the germ inside the heads of some young men to become priests.
The story revolves around Father Retter facing some cult activity that quickly explodes into an all-out fight with an ancient demon. Along the way a mysterious exorcist tries to recruit the young priest into a group of, essentially, battle exorcists dedicated to fighting a specific demon.
The story is simple enough, but it excels in every aspect. Douglas Ernst’s story and script move along at a brisk pace, so you’re never left urging the action to pick up. It’s gripping from the first panel. I think I studied the first panel for several minutes before going forward.
That brings me to my next point: the art of Timothy Lim. He has quickly become one of my favorite comic artists. His style is crisp, bright, and anime-ish in a way I truly enjoy. I’d rank him alongside Patrick Gleeson.
Soulfinder: Demon’s Match flows like a great horror/thriller action film. There are plenty of creepy visuals, but nothing that sends it into “R” territory. There’s no gore and any nudity is covered.
At its core, Soulfinder is a story about spiritual warfare. The themes are perennial and universal. Catholics and non-Catholics alike will find plenty to love. As it is a good, optimistic addition to our culture, Iconic Comics is engaging in actual spiritual warfare in a cultural arena lined with morose, postmodernist drivel. A gutsy move. To paraphrase a line from Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov: Beauty is the battlefield where God and the devil fight for the souls of men. It’s good to see comic creators fighting on the right side of the battle.
Not only have Douglas Ernst and Timothy Lim given us an entertaining read (and I hear volume 2 is even better), they’ve given the world of comics something it sorely needed. Well done.
White Ops #3: Main Street DOA is nothing short of Declan Finn letting his imagination go wild. And he goes for broke.
Giant sharks, a kraken, pirate ships, a dragon, assassins, terrorists, and animatronics gone berserk. Welcome to Yesdin Planet, where nothing can possibli go wrong.
The third installment of Finn’s space opera sees our cast of space templars on vacation. A forced vacation. To a planet-sized theme park that Sean Patrick Ryan really doesn’t want to go to. Instead of some down time, terrorists take over the planet and hold millions of people hostage in exchange for the United Space Alliance reinstating former President Wills and handing leader of the USA Sherman “Nuke ‘Em” Newcomb over. The Alliance doesn’t negotiate with terrorists so it’s up to White Ops to take them down. Unfortunately, they’re on the wrong side of the planet.
Sean Ryan and his team will have to face off against genetically enhanced dinosaurs, vicious animatronics from all over The Corporation’s roster of characters, sea monsters, and the looming threat of the planet going nuclear.
This is another fun one. After the second book wrapped things up rather nicely, Mainstreet DOA finishes up another big plot thread and it does so in a way that I was not expecting.
If you like almost nonstop action grab a copy.
This story is much more self-contained than the two previous volumes. Instead of multiple big events over the course of years, this takes place within the span of thirty-six hours. It is an important thread that gets wrapped up, so it got the attention and drama it deserved.
A curious new thread dots the narrative throughout, involving Arthur Sharpe and his… psychotic girlfriend who I thought seemed a bit off when she was first introduced. I can safely say I have no idea where this plot point is going and Sharpe’s motivation is a mystery to me, though there does seem to be hints of some level of a sociopathic grudge. Main Street DOA leaves the reader wanting more as this plot thickens and we’re left with its setup for White Ops #4.
If you haven’t grabbed copies of the first two books, I reviewed those as well. This is a fun sci-fi action/adventure series, and you don’t want to miss out. It shows no sign of getting stale or letting up.
Greater dangers await the deeper one delves into the dungeon. In the second Dungeon Samurai book, the terror level takes a leap. Between horrific boss fights and increasingly dangerous (and increasingly well-armed) monsters, the dungeon warriors continue their seemingly never-ending fight.
Kami no Kishi sees the dungeon warriors discover a new material that allows their craftsmen to introduce firearms. While this on the surface seems like something that would make the dungeon a lot easier, it brings about new challenges in the face of armored monsters and the introduction of ghoul knights. Guns are loud and the confines of the dungeon’s corridors require new training to use the new weapons effectively. Even then, mistakes happen…
The new additions and developments come about organically. For a story that is essentially a LitRPG isekai, the RPG elements are largely grounded in reality to the extent that it can be. It doesn’t feel like one is reading a video game. In fact, the unnatural aspects of the world, such as the forest that is jarringly uniform, serve to disturb the reader as much as they disturb the protagonist. It is a brilliant stroke of writing.
Yuuki and Hiroshi are given their own commands because they excel at what they do, not because the plot needs it to go forward. They could have been stuck on the same team for the rest of the story, really, but the situation required skilled warriors to be promoted. The death count of the dungeon fighters increases to the point of the world city leaders needing to procure more people from Earth to be transported. It is not an undertaking that is enjoyed.
There is tragedy in this volume. The worst of it I saw coming, but that didn’t lessen its effect. Cheah makes likable characters so when they get injured or die… it hits like a hammer.
On the lighter side of things, the story’s romance advances in charming ways. As dark as Dungeon Samurai can be, Cheah doesn’t leave the reader drowning in it. There are glimpses of hope and rays of light scattered throughout, even if it is just a piece of brief banter between two friends.
Masterfully, Cheah’s monsters embody what a monster truly is. Monsters are, in short, a lack of humanity. They are not made in the image of God and as such are not terrifying because they have tentacles or claws, but because they are so completely other and under the command of a demon. As the dungeon world is an image of hell, so, too, are the monsters a reflection of the void. This comes across particularly effectively in this volume’s boss fights. They are brutal.
Dare to crawl deeper into the dungeon. The way is perilous, but highly recommended.
Politics Kills by Declan Finn is Book #2 in his new space opera White Ops, and it jumps right in where book #1 left off. Earth is under martial law and President Wills has been outed as a murderer and illegitimate in his role, having manipulated his way into the office by way of the Thought Police. Ranger Kami Figlia’s parents have been arrested for opposing the world dictatorship and in book 1 we were left with Sean vowing to free them. Leap to preparations for a jailbreak.
This is a difficult review to write for two interconnected reasons: The book is big, and an awful lot happens. As I write this, I’m trying to produce a number of major events that take place, and it isn’t easy. It starts off with a jailbreak involving big mech suits of armor and some explosions. There is assassination, a coup on Renar, a siege headed by President Wills’s personal (and largely incompetent) sycophants, the war with the secretive Animi comes to a head, and Sherman Newcomb’s space station is put to the test. Oh, and I almost forgot the evil cultist space ducks.
Politics Kills features more explosions and more insane antics from Sean Patrick Ryan, leader of White Ops. One big plus for the second book in this series is that it doesn’t feel like a sequel. It feels like the second half of book 1 and doesn’t suffer from any of the problems sequels tend to have.
If this series has any issues, it’s the huge cast, but Finn does what few authors dealing with such a sizeable cast do: He gives each character distinction, both in physical characteristics and personality. There are no dull blob characters here. Even Smythe, head of Wills’s security, is remarkable just for how unremarkable he is (minus the big walrus mustache). We also (thankfully) get reminders of what the cast looks like instead of being handed one note when they’re first introduced then left to fend for ourselves, so the large cast isn’t nearly the problem it could have been. When you have a cast this big, they need to be colorful and memorable, and they are.
If you like action in your science fiction, White Ops has you covered. There is no deviation from the pacing of the first book. Finn continues with a steady stream of action scenes, each trying something new. It keeps the story fresh and shows that the White Ops team is versatile and lives up to their reputation as highly skilled.
And Sean Patrick Ryan continues to live up to his reputation as the most dangerous man in the galaxy.
Part of the fun of this series is watching a problem pop up and the White Ops team come up with a solution. Sometimes it is brute force and many, many things blowing up, but one of the cleverest solutions involved everybody’s favorite Touri (think muscular, sapient velociraptor) showing up again.
One nice touch in this universe are the nods to science fiction authors influencing technological advances. This isn’t done for the sake of references so much as giving the reader a world where the past is acknowledged and to some extent celebrated. The weightiest of these references was to the “Ringo One Shot”. I read the story and so understood why that particular weapon was significant and frightening.
Politics Kills brings together a lot of the plot threads from the first books and concludes them in a very satisfying way. There are still some villains out there and anything can happen. It’s a big universe Finn has written, and I look forward to reading future installments.
It is stories like this that make me glad authors are writing alternatives to the failing megacorp brands. The mainstream isn’t going to give you this level of entertainment. At best, they’ll take something and turn it into a nostalgia trap with a dead and rotting core. White Ops is the fun adventure science fiction should be.
Buy this and book 1 today, then tune in for book 3 to find out what the White Ops team does during their “down” time.
Porter Rockwell is trying to hide out and live a relatively peaceful life in California. He’s a killer, but the crime he’s wanted for is a murder he didn’t commit. When some men sell him a strange metal book things get truly weird fast. This is a book that lives up to its promise. ‘Louis L’Amour meets Lovecraft’ indeed.
David J. West grabs you right away with Porter’s gruff but likable personality and then keeps you along for the ride with some great intrigue, murder mystery, tense gunfights, chases and narrow escapes, and a pitch perfect amount of horror. I’ve read a solid amount of Lovecraft’s work, as well as August Derleth, and West evidently knows his cosmic horror, too. If you’re a fan of Lovecraft, you’ll enjoy this. West’s take never detracts from the source material or comes off as pandering. His writing respects his predecessors in the genre and the reader.
Along with the cosmic horror and cast of terrible creatures like night gaunts and sasquatch, we get a bunch of western-style villains, too. While the cosmic horrors are seeking to destroy the world, it’s the local gang that pose as the immediate antagonists. The murderous bandits get the plot rolling when they steal an eldritch tome from Porter, a tome that just might be the key to stopping horrors from descending on California and the rest of the world.
This feels like a western and had everything I like about the genre. We even get treated to a mysterious figure that could easily be played by Sam Elliot. Porter’s real help comes in the form of an enigmatic Indian woman who doesn’t say much, but seems to know a lot more than she ever lets on. Sometimes it feels like Porter is just along for the ride, trying to do the right thing. And the reader is dragged along right with him. Once the action starts rolling it doesn’t let up until the climax comes to a full and complete stop. Even then you’ll want to continue reading Porter’s next adventure.
Let Sleeping Gods Lie is, above all, a fun read – and arguably still less frightening than Paint Your Wagon.
From the mind that gave us the remarkably fun Saint Tommy, NYPD series is a brand-new space opera. White Ops is what you get when you take the ideas of Babylon 5, John Ringo, and David Weber and toss them into a blender. And the result is wild.
Our story starts with a bar fight between a – get ready – giant Irish telepath and a muscular space velociraptor. It gets crazier from there, believe it or not. The Pharmakoi are invading Earth and the only one who can stop the invasion force is an intelligence analyst who is described as having both clownish features and the build (and hair) of someone who should be on the covers of romance novels. There’s also a race of Thomistic space elves.
It becomes apparent rather quickly that the Pharmakoi are not invading Earth on their own. A more powerful force is pulling their strings and it is up to our hero, Sean Ryan, to figure out who they are and how to stop them.
Sean Patrick Ryan is basically a huge, Irish, telepathic, Catholic leprechaun. With guns. And who also likes to break and explode things. Think if Cable had a brogue and decided to put together an elite team of space Templars to stop a malevolent group of very hungry alien monsters ripped from nightmares. You get the idea of where this plot is going.
This is sci-fi adventure the way it should be. It doesn’t get bogged down in politics (though there is some notable scheming and intrigue going on) or info dumps. Instead, we get solid exposition and plenty of explosions. It’s hard not to cheer when the good guys stop the villains or blow stuff up.
Speaking of the politics: Finn doesn’t beat you over the head with anything. Authoritarians are portrayed accurately, and most politicians are portrayed as self-aggrandizing idiots or power-hungry psychopaths. So… a little departure from strict fiction. But amid space raptors, flaming swords, invisible centaur monsters, and telepaths, a virtuous political class would have seemed too outlandish.
Oh, and there are gun fights and stealthy ninja action, too.
If you’re looking for an alternative to [CORPORATE BRAND SPACE OPERA] you are going to love this. Buy a copy and I guarantee you’ll have a blast. Many blasts. I lost count of how many explosions there are. This is also a great starting point if you are interested in reading Declan Finn’s work, but aren’t into horror. When black ops aren’t enough…