Fragments, by Zen DiPietro


Fallon and her team need answers. But before they can storm the PAC base on Earth, they need to find supplies and deal with Fallon’s memory loss. Her strange dreams sure aren’t helping matters. If they’re memories that her brain is trying to reconstruct, her brain is just going to have to work harder at making some sense. Either way, once they arrive at Earth, all bets are off. As soon as they steal the information they need, it will be kill or be killed. Elite intelligence operations don’t issue polite warnings.

The Good: I knew I’d like Fragments since I five-starred Translucid. I asked Zen to send me Fragments when it was ready, and she complied. Yay! I immediately moved it to the top of my TBR pile. This is another action/adventure outing for Fallon and her team. Everything I liked about Translucid, I liked in Fragments.

The Bad: While the chapters weren’t as long in Fragments as they were in Translucid, they were still pretty long. About thirty to forty-five minutes per chapter. Since I only spend about an hour a night reading, I would just read for an hour and end at the nearest scene break. There were significant “flashbacks” and narrated stories contained within. These were mostly important to the story, but I got the feeling that some of these had been shoehorned in to meet an arbitrary word count. They weren’t arduous to read, and a few of them would’ve made excellent side-stories, maybe a collection of short Fallon memories.

The Beautiful: I enjoyed the continuation of the Dragonfire Station series. It was nice to read about the different aspects of the universe. Since I compared the last book with popular television shows and movies, I’ll do the same for Fragments: Firefly meets Serenity. I know the movie was based on the series, and I got a total Whedon-esque vibe while reading Fragments. Lots of time on ships heading here or there to do this or that, all while staying under the radar of the totalitarian government bent on getting Fallon and her crew.

The Final Word: While I think Fragments would make an excellent sci-fi TV series, and I could totally see Joss Whedon directing it; I liked Translucid better. Like its predecessor, Fragments wrapped up the story leaving more questions than answers, but in a good way. I read more than I normally do so I could knock out Fragments yesterday. I look forward to reading book three but dread the long wait. Overall, I’d give Fragments 4.5 stars. Both books in the series are 99 cents on Amazon, and you’d be a total doofenshmirtz not to get them both.


Zen DiPietro is a lifelong bookworm, writer, and a mom of two. Perhaps most importantly, a Browncoat Trekkie Whovian. Also red-haired, left-handed, and a vegetarian geek. Absolutely terrible at conforming. A recovering gamer, but we won’t talk about that. Particular loves include badass heroines, British accents, and the smell of Band-Aids. Being an introvert gets in her way sometimes, as she finds it hard to make idle chitchat or stay up past 9 p.m. On the other hand, it makes it easy for her to dive down the rabbit hole of her love for books, stories, movies and games.


Girl on the Moon, by Jack McDonald Burnett


This near-future sci-fi adventure sends humankind back to the moon, this time to make first contact with an inscrutable alien race. And when Earth’s new acquaintances become new neighbors, humanity might not be done with the moon yet — and it might not be done with Earth. Fortunately for humankind, it has Conn Garrow. They said Conn wasn’t qualified for astronaut training. To prove herself, all she’ll have to do is outwit alien races, escape from prison, run a huge business, survive assassination attempts, engineer impossible rescues — and walk on the moon. Never tell Conn there’s something she can’t do.

This review is going to seem overly critical, so I want to start by saying that I liked Girl on the Moon, by Jack McDonald Burnett. There are a lot of heated dialog on both sides of the indie versus traditional publishing argument. Kindle Press, and its slush pile, Kindle Scout, are a great hybridization of both worlds. I missed the Kindle Scout campaign for this book and would’ve readily nominated it had I seen it. I did pick up Girl on the Moon through the Prime Reading program through Amazon.

A review compared this to Andy Weir’s The Martian. While they both have a person stranded on a celestial body with little chance of rescue, the stories are nothing alike. Girl on the Moon tells us of the trials and tribulations of Constance “Conn” Garrow, who wants so bad to be an astronaut. The story fills in much back story, and after the opening scene continues beyond Conn’s stint on the moon.

When I say ‘tells,’ I mean it. There is very little dialog, with the author info-dumping large swaths of text. For some reason though, it seems to work. I did find some of the various solutions throughout the story to be a bit coincidental, and unlike The Martian, where the Watney character overcame adversity with intelligence, stubbornness and a witty snark, Conn seems to persevere through outside forces.

Here and there I had trouble suspending my disbelief, and Girl on the Moon doesn’t have the hard sci-fi angle that other stories like this have, but overall, I enjoyed the read. I would definitely look for more sci-fi in the future from Jack McDonald Burnett. I’ll bump my fractional rating up to four stars, and recommend this story to any sci-fi fan or an indie fan. Plus, it’s free with Amazon Prime membership, so get it.


Jack McDonald Burnett is an attorney living in the Atlanta metro area. In former lives, Jack was a freelance writer, an editor for a small, niche publisher, and communications director for a software company. Jack’s short fiction has appeared in the anthology Defiant, She Advanced: Legends of Future Resistance, available from Amazon, Ama-Gi Magazine, and firstwriter.magazine. His nonfiction work has appeared in such diverse publications and venues as Mortgage Lending Compliance Alert, American Builders Quarterly, Mortgage Technology, Economic Opportunity Report, and Puck Daddy. His first novel, Girl on the Moon, is newly available in the Kindle Store. He is writing the sequel, Girl on Mars, and two other novels.


Moonrise CH24 – New Friends


[1034 words – Inspiration Monday, #3WW, Sunday Scribblings 2, The Writing Reader, #SOCS]“By our way, you mean the supers way? Fighting with goddamn superpowers! Do you understand how much damage that will cause to this city, to its people? Do you even care?”

Anne rose purposefully from her chair and pointed a finger at him. She moved with such unhinged ferocity that Massey flinched from an invisible blow. “That’s how war has always been fought. Don’t you presume to sit down and teach me the history of war! I’ve lived through them all. I know the stakes, I know the price!”

He focused on Anne’s hips as she rounded the counter, her long legs carrying her aimlessly through the constricted space. Massey didn’t know much about her; just skin crawling tidbits and what they shared in their forbidding encounters. The woman before him was a complete stranger, with tendencies of fiery passion. The way she stood with her frame dipped in shadow and only partial bleak light she looked every bit the many-faced goddess of rebirth. Massey slumped back, defeated by her presence and wondered with a faint stupid smile on his lips whether somewhere in time someone had worshiped her as a goddess. He wasn’t even referring to symbolism. She’d been someone’s mother, wife, and sister. He wondered what a palmist would make of her lifeline… if he believed in that sort of thing. She was a warrior and even though that aspect of her character had been asleep for thousands of years, it was awake now. The idea of an immortal watching human history and playing her role gave him notion sickness. Massey spoke softly knowing he had nothing to shield from her. “I understand what you’re saying. I can’t walk in your shoes, and I don’t claim to know many of the things that are happening now. But want is a damaging war. You reminisce of a different age with different rules. You can’t just burn the entire city to flush out one rat and his tails. People’ll get hurt, innocent people and I can’t allow that.”

Anne glared at Massey, a hot flame dancing in her eyes. “I know how this world works, Frank. I’ve fought for it many times. I will fight again. War is war, and it is bloody no matter what. I called you here because I need friends. I can’t do this alone. If we are smart about it, no innocents will be hurt.”

Massey nodded his head in agreement.

Anne continued, “Globe is planning something massive. It’s already in motion. He has a small team of supers working under his influence. He’s tracking down more supers, bringing them in and using them for some sort of experiment. They never leave his laboratory.”

Massey, deep in thought, stared at Anne. “His laboratory… Does he keep you privy to all that?”

Anne shook her head. “Only as much as he needs to.” She sighed. “Frank, he has Kristof and Peter strapped down in that lab. Whatever he’s doing it’s connected to them both.”

“What would your guess be?”

“If he wipes out all of the supers he’s clear of any danger from them if they try rising against him. But it’s more than that. I think Globe wants to install a new world order. His supers, his genetics. New powers mean new dangers. He’ll rule over us all.”
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Moonrise CH23 – Reunion


[1127 words – Prompts: Inspiration Monday, #3WW, Sunday Photo Fiction, Sunday Scribblings 2, The Writing Reader]Massey threw his phone on the passenger seat. His cruiser growled when he changed lanes and direction. He triggered his lights and the siren cleared a path for him.

Meet me at 483 Eastlake Ave East in 30 minutes.

This is too easy, he thought. It hadn’t been twenty-four hours since Anne called him and offered a truce. Even then she hadn’t been certain of when or how. She was always cautious. Then, overnight, the Madison Massacre happened. Anne was silent about it, but now she voiced urgency through an untraceable number. She wanted a quick meeting, no questions asked. Massey could tell that something significant had happened; something had stirred loud and scary enough to drive Anne to this meeting. That something was prone to be bad.

By the time Massey pulled over at the given address, it was nearing dusk. Old bones groaning, he sat on the tight seat of the black cruiser. The sky was an angry purple, a raw bruise spreading over the city. Massey put a calloused hand over his heart. This madness would be the death of him. He thought about Denisha. His baby girl was always busy these days; catching her voice on the phone had become as much a rarity as seeing her. To protect Joaquin, Frank had made personal sacrifices. He hoped they wouldn’t blow back on him.

The I-5 express running above rattled with the dull rhythm of rasping car engines speeding by as Massey crossed the street. His eyes frantically scanned for Anne, but the street was empty. Gray buildings erected shoulder to shoulder glared with empty windows – rental and available signs decorated their corners. The dust and smudges on the glass told him they were long forgotten just like the other half the avenue’s length – tarnished and halted by renovations. The posters glued crooked to the lampposts were dated last March. The neighborhood reeked with ostentatious poverty. To Frank’s surprise huddled between a shutdown bar, Bud Light sticker still crowning its entrance and a garage, its heavy black door closed for the day, was a second-hand clothes store, pale mannequins stared at him armless and headless through the frame. A bird feeder hung from a cast iron pole. Massey drummed his fingers on his holster as he approached the door. He clicked the gun free from the leather strap and wrapped his hand around the grip, but keeping it out of view.

“Are you going to shoot the mannequins?”

He spun toward the voice, and had his weapon out.

Anne took stock of it. “You need to reload, cowboy.”

When Massey lowered his weapon, she moved around him, took out a keychain and after selecting the right on, she stuck it in the keyhole. The chain fell away with a rattle against the doorframe. Anne picked up the dangling chain and pulled until it was free and the door swung wide open. The small space was crowded with chairs and sheet covered salon chairs. An unattached sink was placed on the tiled floor, and beside it, a large mirror stood propped reflecting whatever radiance touched its surface.

“Do you own this place?” Massey asked stepping over mannequin hands as he followed Anne inside. “And what’s with the plastic?” he nodded toward the sprawled mannequins.
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A story about David Kristoph

David Kristoph

In keeping up with the tradition this week of not reviewing books on my regular book review days, I’m gonna tell a story about Days Until Home co-author, David Kristoph. I’ve reviewed all five books of his Tales of a Dying Star space sci-fi series. (I II III IV V) I’ve also reviewed his “choose your own adventure-” style books that he and Danny McAleese teamed up to write. I know that he has the sixth TOADS book dropping before the end of the year and there are a few books on his “in progress” page that I want to read.

On to the story: I first encountered David Kristoph when TOADS #1 was on NetGalley. I wasn’t a raving fan of the story, and in particular, I didn’t like the ending of the book. So I said as much in my review. Now, while I always recommend that authors never respond to reviews, David dropped me an email and asked for additional input about what I didn’t like about his book. He kept it professional, and as long as he did so, I tried to answer his questions.

We agreed to disagree about the ending, and he offered to send me review copies of books two and three. As you all know, I’m a sucker for sci-fi, so I jumped at the opportunity. Book two was better than book one, as was book three. I went from “it’s okay” to harassing him to finish up the next book so I could read it. Quite the turn of events, eh? He doesn’t have any audiobooks, so maybe Greg and I should work him over to get it done. I’m glad that I got to know David, and when it came time for the collaborative web serial, Days Until Home, I knew I wanted David on board. BTW, a paperback version of the web serial is available on CreateSpace.

I’m hoping David gets his other two books he’s shopping around because I want to read those as well. I’m looking forward to editing and revising Days Until Home in 2017, and I have a soft commitment from Greg and David to write a companion web serial probably in 2018.

Be sure to check out David’s works. The Ultimate Ending series is appropriate for children as well as adults, and be sure to read TOADS from the beginning. Finally, check out this article he put together for my blog, and an interesting article about self-publishing he wrote on his blog. I also interviewed him about the TOADS series, and him with Danny McAleese about Ultimate Ending. Don’t forget his thoughts on writing Days Until Home with Greg Dragon and me. Click here for blog posts by and about David Kristoph.


Leukemia, FitBit & Kindle Scout


Those of you who follow me on Twitter have been getting my daily and weekly stats from FitBit. The good news is that I’ve lost about twenty pounds just watching my carbs and using the FitBit app food diary. I also strive to get 10,000 steps a day, and now that I got Erika a FitBit too, we’re competing. That leads quickly to large step counts. The hourly activity icon reminds me to make sure I get in at least 250 steps each hour that I’m at work since my job is pretty much defined as sitting my large derriere in a chair all day. I’ve got a few friends that also challenge me, but I’d like to get more. If you do the FitBit – the app alone or with the fit bit device, add me to your friend list. The link is over there *points to the right* next to my email and Amazon link.

I had a visit with my hematologist last week to check my white cell count. No change there. Which I guess is a good thing. My leukemia is rather underwhelming. He got all up in my grill because according to his records, I’m down 26 pounds since my initial consult a few months back. I told him that I didn’t want to fight blood cancer and diabetes at the same time, so I was going to continue to work on my weight goal of 230 pounds. (FitBit makes a scale that links via Bluetooth to the app… How’s that for over done?)

I didn’t read my last few Leukemia posts, but in case I didn’t mention it before, my lymph nodes are normal, so it’s just my blood that’s all screwy. (And I guess my bone marrow, too.) I went around the bend for about a month or two trying to eat healthy and eliminating most carbs. The kids were miserable despite my insistence that there was little difference between spaghetti noodles and spaghetti squash. The squash is a little al dente, but it’s better for you. Now, I’m on a more realistic (and cheaper) diet. I’m not as carb adverse, and since I’m still losing weight, I guess I’m doing fine.

Anyway, no news is good news I guess. I don’t go back to the hematologist until January, and my dietician appointment had to be postponed due to the recent Trump rally. I should check to see if there’s a way to print out my food diary so she can scold me for eating too many Sausage Egg McMuffins.

Thanks for your prayers, good vibes, kindly emails and texts, and for nominating War of the Worlds: Retaliation on Kindle Scout. Oh, wait, that shameless self-promotion needs a link to the Kindle Scout campaign:

Oh, and my friend, Rachel Wollaston, has her Kindle Scout campaign starting today:

Talkin’ up Greg Dragon


Today, I want to plug fellow writer, and co-author of Days Until Home, Greg Dragon. I’ve reviewed books two and three of his “Next Phase” sci-fi series, and both companion novels in his futuristic “Wired” series. (Re-Wired & Single Wired Female.) I saw on his website that he’s 5% into something called “Wireless.” I hope it’s another companion novel in the “Wired” series, but I haven’t bothered him about it yet. (Maybe he’ll reply here and tell us all!)

Greg is a relationship blogger, fantasy writer (I’ve not read his Knights and Demons series because fantasy isn’t my bag), and all-around swell guy. I got an email newsletter from him that he has some audiobooks out now, and if you haven’t already joined his mailing list, then I’m afraid you’ve missed out on some free audiobooks. No worries though, if you head to his website, you can get his novella, Population Control, for free. Back to audiobooks, if you sign up for audible, and one of Greg’s audiobooks is the first thing you get, he gets a referral fee. They call it a bounty, but it could be up to $50 for him. The next series of his I plan on reading is The Factory, and the upcoming sequel, Gun Moll.

We’ll also start the editing and revisions on Days Until Home in 2017, and I have a soft commitment from Greg and David to write a companion web serial probably in 2018.

Anyway, be sure to check out Greg Dragon’s books. Follow him on Twitter. Do whatever it is you Facebook people do. Finally, check out his article on Self Publishing, Diversity in Books, his views on the Days Until Home web serial, and an interview I did with him. Or, just click here to see stuff about or by Greg on this blog.