Killing Time: Physics, Lust, and Greed is a well woven tale of one man, already at the end of his life, who is given the opportunity to go back in time and right certain wrongs. I’m not going to give away major plot points, but this is a double edged sword. Readers explore the risk vs reward of going back to an early point and changing the timeline in this gripping science fiction story. Implications of repercussions hover over the main character, Sean, as he struggles with fixing his biggest regret.
Killing Time: Physics, Lust, and Greed has an eye catching cover and a story line that is as surreal and intriguing as the cover art suggests. Murphey manages to keep his characters grounded and, while the idea of time travel is mainly science fiction at this point, he breaks the subject matter down to help readers stay in the flow of the story.
One aspect that particularly interested me was how the story is heavily character driven. Murphey’s writing style is easy and flows well. Time travel is a genre in itself at this pooint, but Mike Murphey is able to inject some new ideas and perspectives, sewn together by fascinating characters, that make the time travel concept feel fresh. The book does bounce back and forth quite a bit and can be confusing to follow in the first part, but once you establish a rhythm and start to understand the motivations of the characters and how their stories overlap you are in for a thoroughly enjoyable read. This is book three in the Physics, Lust and Greed series and no steam is lost. I’m starting to think that lumping physics in with the two other seven deadly sins, lust and greed, was intentional.
I have come to be familiar with Mike Murphey’s work and expect solid writing, but with Killing Time we also get an imaginative storyline with compelling characters propelling this science fiction adventure story forward.
Pages: 287 | ASIN: B08XJZL84B
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Michael A. Greco’s Hollyweird Needs is one of the most unique books I have ever read. The first word that came to mind as I read it was “peculiar”. From the characters to the storylines, there seems to be an eerie vibe to this book.
It follows the life of Chester, Smegman, Wordsworth, and other autistic teenagers living in a Los Angeles special need school dubbed “Special Kneads”. Although most of these teens don’t have any other caregivers, the school staff and neighbors play a huge role in their everyday lives, some even taking the place of family.
Havoc ensues in the shopping center that houses the school (Butts Plaza) when a new arcade claw game mysteriously shows up. Although the game seems harmless at first, it begins sending those who play it to the past, something that eventually results in devastating consequences. It is ultimately up to the teens to save the adults and restore order.
Not only is this book’s storyline unique but it also goes to great lengths to explain what goes on in an autistic person’s mind. I particularly appreciate the author’s efforts to not paint any of the teenagers as victims but rather as masters of their own destiny. Their individuality really did shine throughout the book.
The use of wordplay throughout the narrative is also a nice touch. For instance, the fact that that Wordsworth doesn’t speak and the claw game is called Dimensional Needs is quite a treat. But while the plot of the story is quite solid, but the execution is wanting, some dialogue seems out of place, and there seems to be a large cast of characters to keep track of. Apart from brief family history and information about their journey with autism, we didn’t get much about who the main characters were, and I really wanted to know because I found the characters interesting and wanted to know more.
With a solid concept and a large dose of creativity, Michael A. Greco’s Hollyweird Needs is an interesting science fiction story that will appeal to readers who like a little dark comedy in their urban fiction novel.
Pages: 264 | ASIN: B08SJ2XGMS
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Sarge made a promise, but he isn’t invested in keeping it. His men do not hesitate to remind him that he once told them that the Seventh Cavalry had made its last mission. Yet, here they are preparing again and listening to the list of orders to which they have all grown accustomed and about to set out on a rescue mission after which they all plan to rest, regroup, and recuperate. Once the group manages to agree on a leader for the mission, the wheels begin to turn and they are off on a path that will lead them again into the unknown.
The Last Mission of the Seventh Cavalry: Book Two, by Charles Brindley, picks up where Book One of the same name left off. Sarge, the fearless leader of the aptly named Delta Platoon, Alpha Company, Second Battalion, Twenty-Second Division of the Seventh Cavalry, U.S. Army, and his unique group of characters inhabit the lush home of the late Consul Lucius Aemillus Paullus. Their needs are more than met, and they are living their best lives. Duty, however, calls. They are needed immediately on a rescue mission that may take much longer than any of them expect.
As with Book One, Brindley does a brilliant job of making fantasy feel like a part of history. His characters are all stand-outs with well-developed backstories he shares with readers in this installment. Getting to know each one right out of the gate helps readers understand each and every idiosyncrasy and how they relate to the mission at hand. Again, I am in awe of how Brindley manages to make his writing come across as realistic while giving it all the elements of a full-blown epic fantasy.
Humor is a large part of Brindley’s work. As serious as the mission is, the characters never fail to include quips and jabs at one another that make the reading less heavy. Not a scenario passes where the characters don’t insert humor and cutting remarks aimed at keeping the overall mood light and the characters more relatable.
I highly recommend The Last Mission of the Seventh Cavalry: Book Two to any reader who enjoys fantasy adventure as much as they crave well-developed storylines. Fans of strong female main characters will find Brindley’s work especially satisfying–nowhere else will readers find a more diverse and intriguing group of leading females.
Pages: 291 | ASIN: B08STJTJBL
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In book one of this series, a unit of the Seventh Cavalry is on a mission over Afghanistan when their plane is hit by something. The soldiers bail out of the crippled plane and come down in Southern France and they’re 2,000 years in the past where Hannibal is taking his elephants over the Alps to attack the Romans. In this second book they must attempt to rescue three astronauts who have come down from the ISS in a Russian Soyuz escape capsule. They are stranded on a mountain above Saravejo, about 800 miles away.
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The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel follows a savvy woman who must protect her DIY time travel device from some dangerous people. What was the inspiration for the setup to this fun story?
First off, thank you for your review and kind words about my novel! It’s always a thrilling and humbling moment when I hear that someone actually enjoyed it!
The list of things that inspired The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel would take up about 514 pages, but here’s the very condensed version. Time travel stories like Back to the Future, the delightfully comedic works of authors like Christopher Moore, Alexander C. Kane, and Jenny Lawson, the current socio-political climate, my own experiences as a Mexican-American, and, of course, my love of strong, female leads.
I wanted a story about a very exceptional but downtrodden character who, despite all her gifts and skills, just wants a normal, simple life. But because of those gifts and skills, normalcy just isn’t in the cards for her. With supervillains, evil corporations, and guardian demons and angels alike coming after her, the story really is about Quality having to decide whether she’s going to rise to the challenge and reluctantly embrace her role as badass heroine.
I wanted a funny fish-out-of-water adventure where this character has every reason in the world to be a jerk…yet somehow remains positive and committed to protecting this pesky little thing called the space-time continuum.
Quality Jones is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I wanted her to be, at heart, a good, moral character despite a lifetime of never fitting in, never being accepted, and forever living under the fear of persecution and even death. It was important for me that she remain true to her core despite all the temptations to just give in and make lots of money off of her time travel technology. More importantly, I wanted her to be real. She’s not perfect by any means. She’s kind of selfish, a little bit immature despite her age, a little bit ditzy despite being very clever, and not the wisest person despite being a technical genius.
But I wanted her to endure lots of suffering, including the loss of her great love, but still be able to bounce back and fight through. Even though she prefers to live an anonymous, normal life, things outside of her control push her into extraordinary circumstances, and how she chooses to respond is at the heart of this planned trilogy.
Finally, I really wanted Quality to serve as a lens through which to view our own reality. She is, after all, an outsider that grew up in a parallel timeline where there never was a United States. Now, she’s in a world where corporations can invasively enforce brand loyalty, where corrupt police can do whatever they want to whomever they want, and where it’s illegal for someone like her (i.e., half Mexican) to hold a good job. Quality’s earnest observation of things is, in my opinion, the perfect vehicle for some much-needed satire for this day and age.
This novel delivers some very entertaining scenes. What was the funnest thing about writing this novel?
Without giving too much away, there are some characters that serve as perfect foils to Quality, and it was a blast to just put them in the same room and see what happened. When you have a character as relatively straight-laced as her, and when she has to deal with some genuinely absurd people (I’m looking at you, Sevastian), the results were often unpredictable. I’d have plot ideas, yes, but the most fun part of writing this was just letting loose and letting the characters’ respective foibles play off one another.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m torn between doing the sequel to my second novel, The Perfect Teresa (which you also reviewed, by the way!), and the sequel to this one. The good news is that the sequel to The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel is already kind of written. I began this story much farther along before realizing that the backstory was just too much (and too funny) to leave as backstory. So that’s how this particular book came about, and why I’m technically far along into writing the sequel.
And while I’d love to say, “Oh, the sequel is coming out in 2021,” every time I put a date on things, I tend to jinx myself. So let’s just say, it’s coming out in the near future!
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Wasting Time is a thrilling science fiction story that continues your Physics, Lust and Greed Series. What were some new ideas you that you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?
I wanted to better develop Marta and Marshall’s relationship and to lay a foundation for the artificial intelligence becoming a more central part of the story. Another important job for this book is creating a transition to book 3, Killing Time, which will be published in May.
This is a fun novel that delivers some very entertaining scenes. What was the funnest thing about writing this novel?
The mist fun thing about writing any novel is refining your characters, then turning them loose and then letting them go.
What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book?
My principle goal in any of my novels is to entertain—to make people laugh. If you can offer a little depth along the way, so much the better.
What can readers expect in book three of your Physics, Lust and Greed Series?
Killing Time… Physics Lust and Greed Series, Book 3.
At every crossroads he’s encountered in life, Sean Brody has made the safe choice. In the year 2046, at the age of ninety-three, Sean is given one final opportunity to deal with his greatest regret. Sean is the only man Marshall Grissom and Marta Hamilton can find who might be able to save Sheila Schuler, their friend and fellow traveler lost in the distant reaches of time. If Sean accepts the task of traveling to his childhood in a parallel universe—with no guarantee that any aspect of the past can be changed—Sean must also accept his death in the only world he knows.
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Time Nova follows a tech tycoon and his son on their dysfunctional journey through time as they try to fix a glitch in space-time. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of traveling through time and space travel. We can see technology advancing quickly here on earth in terms of saving data and capturing events – so with that in mind, and asking endless “what if” questions, the idea of a great time keeper in the cosmos evolved. The American Revolution and its outcome helped to shape the modern world, and if minor and major events throughout, had slightly different outcomes then the world could be quite a different place today. I find that incredibly interesting. There are a few other times like that throughout history that interest me as well.
Welly and Kyle were interesting characters, but I especially liked their relationship. What were some ideals that guided the development of their relationship?
Personal relationships can be difficult for people in all walks of life. Sometimes love and caring appears as something unpleasant when it bubbles up to the surface and enters the exterior world. Often what we think and feel on the inside is not what is conveyed on the outside, and exploring that dynamic was compelling to me.
Time travel often comes with some paradoxes. How did you resolve these in your story?
This was tough. In theory, once one event in history is changed, so many others are affected and chances become great that chance meetings are missed, thus certain people don’t meet, certain people are not born out of those meetings, etc. Much of what Welly and Kyle are doing or trying to do is repair history, but even with great effort and great technology they couldn’t repair it all. Without giving away too much, there were chapters edited out that explained how the events, following one major event change affecting Welly and Kyle’s life, were carefully orchestrated and preserved to ensure the future outcome they needed, following that modification. Ultimately though, I decided the reader can use their imagination to figure out how this was accomplished.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a non-fiction book about sales and entrepreneurship – hopefully available by summer 2021. I am also jotting down notes with ideas for a potential sequel to Time Nova and ideas for a sequel to another fiction book I wrote called, Drew the Path. Not sure of dates on those projects.
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Quality Jones possesses more unique qualities than just her name. She is, by all rights, a time-traveling phenomenon and an exceptionally strong and resourceful young woman. The target of regular biases and racism, she bounces back quickly and never allows society’s ills to affect her. She is, quite literally, one in a million. When a chance meeting with a ridiculously unsuccessful bank robber places Quality in front of law enforcement and accused of the crime herself, everything she believed she knew about the battle of good versus evil is put to the test. Quality might be an experienced time-traveler, but she is about to face her biggest challenge to date.
The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel: A Quality Jones Book, by Ulises Silva, is a real rollercoaster ride of science fiction-meets-comedic timing. The story’s main character is, by and large, the straight man in this unique blend of time travel and satire. Quality Jones is always ready with a retort that cuts deep. Her frustration with the Sevastian’s inadequacies is beyond obvious and the eye-rolling responses she gives to his ridiculous decisions are palpable to readers.
If I had to place Silva’s work in a genre, I am not too sure I would choose science fiction as its primary category. Cover to cover, Silva provides readers with satirical elements that keep readers on their toes. The author addresses current events in a way readers in 2020 easily recognize and with which they will quickly relate. From the names of stores and banks to the references regarding the lack of social distancing, Silva hits on every conceivable social convention.
Each and every character Quality Jones encounters brings to mind those of comic books. They are bigger than life, have dialogue that is a fantastic blend of humor, satire, and science fiction terms and offer stunning visuals for readers. Quality Jones herself is a stand-out main character who begs to be recognized for the way she calmly handles the chaos surrounding her.
I am giving The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel: A Quality Jones Book, by Ulises Silva, 4 out of 5 stars. Readers who relish humor in conjunction with their science fiction plots will be able to instantly sink their teeth into Silva’s work. For those who seek satire and an occasional break from overly-technical science fiction work, Silva’s work will be a wonderful treat.
Pages: 527 | ASIN: B08N5BSZBJ
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