Book Review (SERIES): Vision Rising

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Vision Rising is a great military science fiction series which never forgets (1) it is military and (2) it is science fiction. The author finishes each book with real-science tidbits which inspired the science fiction aspects, similar to my Geeking Science. In fact, I may be using some of the shares from Vision Rising for upcoming Geeking Science. I just love science fiction rooted deeply in science – and the fact that you don’t need to care about hard-science at all to enjoy this series makes it all the better.

Action AND relation-packed science fiction, and by relation-packed, look for military buddies, political intrigue, and enemies-to-allies.

The Vision Rising Series (note: the series is available as a book set for a VERY reduced price at the time of writing this review – link here:

by L.L. Richman

  1. Vision Rising
  2. Vision’s Gambit
  3. Vision’s Pawn

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A lone soldier is gifted the power to save humanity.

When a training exercise at a classified research facility goes awry, Joe Kovacs loses much more than his eyesight. He loses his career. He can’t lead one of the military’s top spec-ops teams if he can’t see.

A decision with consequences.

Joe’s only shot at getting his life back lies in the hands of an anonymous ‘shadow’ scientist. The offer is risky, an experimental implant that may or may not work. He jumps at the chance, but quickly learns the device does more than restore his sight. Much more.

There’s no going back.

Joe begins seeing strange flashes. Ghosts of images, overlaid atop his own vision. Actions he could have taken but didn’t. Worse, the visions are increasing in scope and frequency. Believing he’s going mad, he confronts the scientist, only to discover the implant’s shocking origin.

Nothing is as it seems, and all the possible futures Joe can now see point to a system-wide conspiracy that will shift the balance of power for hundreds of years. Joe’s visions hold the key to stopping it… if he can learn to control them in time.

Don’t miss this exciting new Military Science Fiction Series that will make you not only question just what it means to be human, but also if there is ever a “right” side. It’s perfect for fans of Halo, Rick Partlow (Drop Trooper), Jeffery H. Haskell (Grimm’s War), and Joshua Dalzelle (Black Fleet Saga).


A nice solid military sci-fi, though women characters are a little lacking. Most of the women are adjuncts – none have been shown to be in high leadership positions in the military outside of the doctor and tech lines. Is it sad to like the fact at least they aren’t there just as decoration and military man rewards? These women at least have jobs and are admired for their competence and brains, instead of bra size. A pleasant change from the normal in military science fiction.

Lots of cool tech ideas, but not presented just as tech, weapon, or ship “porn”. The author, L.L. Richman, never lingers over anything – no page on page description – but everything is helpful and makes sense within the story. EVEN BETTER – the end of the book has an appendix of what technologies are real, what is being developed, and what are theories still being tested – raising this book from general science fiction with hand-wave-ium of “it’s science and it works” to full out Hard Science Fiction – only it is the softest hard science fiction I ever read. Accessible, action-packed, and wonderous. Not “fun” as in funny, and, as solders, these are not snuggle bunnys round in military romances.

I know, I did a lot of what this book is not. Let me close with what the book is – a good military science fiction that never forgets it is (1) MILITARY fiction and (2) SCIENCE fiction.

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Sometimes great power requires greater sacrifice

Joe Kovacs isn’t your average special forces warrior. There’s an alien artifact embedded in his skull that allows him to predict the future. It’s served him well so far, uncovering a conspiracy that would have shifted the balance of power in the Sol system for years to come.

Now the artifact is warning of a greater peril. Devastation on a galactic scale.

One man holds the key to stopping it.

Of all the possible futures Joe can see, there is only one path to victory… and it’s the vision least likely to come true.

Joe will have to pull off the impossible — divert the path of time itself — if humanity is to survive.


Vision’s Gambit is the second of a military science fiction story with multiple point of views, which works as a stand-alone. The first of the series is great, so you don’t want to miss it, but if you wind up with the second of the trilogy in your hands, you can start there.  Whether you want team tactics, political maneuvers, pew-pew space battle, deep embedded spies, or a very, very light touch of sweet romance, this book has you covered.

To recover from blindness, an alien artifact got embedded in Joe’s head during the first book, but physical vision is the least of its gifts. It provides him visions of the future, from the most-likely blue-shifts to the least-likely red-shifts. His most recent vision shows an ongoing future for humanity … in the deepest red he had ever seen. All other futures from vivid blue to light pink, humanity ends, never to breathe oxygen again. How will he switch the impossible red to a real blue before the future catches up with them all?

At least he isn’t in it alone. He has his team – from the special forces he is a part of, to high level political leadership, from coast guard to space navy to research & development, from allies to enemies. Shifting the river of time to a different bed won’t be easy, but the tip of a spear has the entire weapon flying behind it. All he had to do is get the tip aimed right, midflight. Hoo-ah!

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Unintended Consequences

Humanity has just dodged an extinction level event, but at great cost. The battle that defeated the Starkillers took the lives of far too many, and the experimental tech enabling interstellar travel carries a death sentence all its own.

Worse, the alien implant inside Joe Kovacs’s skull isn’t playing nice. Joe no longer sees possible futures. Instead, he’s plagued with hallucinations — visions of dead people.

Dealing with this will have to wait, though, as he has a bigger problem.

Intelligence has translated the string of alien characters transmitted by the implant. The coordinates lead to a dead star rumored to hold an ancient repository.

What Joe finds inside will change the course of humanity forever.


Third and final book of the Vision Rising series. You should read book 2 before reading book 3 for best results.

The aliens weren’t completely eliminated and they are rebuilding. Joe has to tap his visions again to find out more about the species who left behind the artifact providing Joe his abilities. The problem is, the more they discover about their benefactors, the more questions get raised on why they really left the legacy which saved humanity.

As with the other books, the mix of science fiction and special forces military and R&D division work well. Richman works in interesting hard-science tools to create toys for the special ops guys and gals to play with.

I was more annoyed in this book with Joe’s and Ana’s interactions. He verbally goes off several times and never apologizes and is just grateful she understands and lets him do his own thing. I would have liked to see interaction to resolve the issues beyond silent acceptance. The author did take a moment to deal with other trauma aspects; it would have been nice to have the trauma aspects which spouses of soldiers had to address tackled head on instead of the typical female martyr acceptance. Well, everything can’t be perfect.

Great story and great action and great science fiction toys.

Book Review: Siren Bridge

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Siren Bridge by Jean Marie Ward


Lady adventurer Oleander Jones knew the rules:

  • Never embroil yourself in the affairs of kings.
  • Never offend an asshole with an army.
  • And never, ever confront a monster in its lair.

But the ruby Heart of Gruende, the most precious of all the Gruen crown jewels, was so big and so sparkly, and the pay-off for stealing it was so enormous. She couldn’t bear to leave it in the sweaty, grasping paws of the governor of the New Dominion Territories another instant. Smashing a whiskey bottle over his skull was simply a bonus.

Now she’s got a reward on her head bigger than the Logressan national debt. The Territorial Militia, the full detecting might of Falchion Apprehension Services, and every country bumpkin and city lowlife who can read a wanted poster are on her tail. And there’s only one way to get where she needs to go…

Through the killing ground of the biggest, meanest, man-eating, avian monster Roche County has ever seen. Dead across Siren Bridge.



The cover (both versions – the boobie bird and the fantasy bridge) do a disservice to this amusing, involved Weird West-Heist-Fantasy-Humor delightful novella (story of about 100 pages).

I adored all the problem-solving Oleander, our quick-thinking thief-illusionist main character, comes up with as each step of her “simple” heist of a necklace drags her deeper and deeper into monsters and militia. Bounty hunters and governors; sirens and bartenders. Magic for sale in this weird west and the differences money can buy.

The language is spot on. The motion is constant. The ending when all the pieces come together in an explosion of energy worthy of a supernova dragon, is picture perfect (really, totally movie worthy!).

Loved this.

(Read through Kindle Unlimited)

Book Review (SERIES): The Fetch Phillips Novels

Luke Arnold created a fantasy Detective Noir series. Like many Noir stories, war and industrialization hang over the main character leaving him scarred and ill-adapted to a rapidly changing world. Yet, underneath the darkness, the hero who had gone to war remains wanting to save people as a detective, as a solver of issues. The author captures this feel perfectly in Fetch Phillips surviving in a world where magic has been removed in an apocalypse level event. Now everyone just needs to make a living in a world with fewer rainbows, unicorns, and hope. Still, mysteries remain.

The Fetch Phillips Novels Series

  1. The Last Smile in Sunder City
  2. Dead Man in a Ditch
  3. One Foot in the Fade

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In a world that’s lost its magic, a former soldier turned PI solves cases for the fantasy creatures whose lives he ruined in an imaginative debut fantasy by Black Sails actor Luke Arnold.

Welcome to Sunder City. The magic is gone but the monsters remain.

I’m Fetch Phillips, just like it says on the window. There are a few things you should know before you hire me:

1. Sobriety costs extra.
2. My services are confidential.
3. I don’t work for humans.

It’s nothing personal–I’m human myself. But after what happened to the magic, it’s not the humans who need my help.


Read for a book club.
A noir PI set in a fantasy world – murder mystery, kidnapping, disappearance, thugs, gang war, solider remembrances. Very much in the manner of Glen Cook’s Garrett Files, only this time the world isn’t magic anymore – the magic has been frozen and those that can have to live beyond it.

Wonderful noir wording. A real gem.

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In this brilliant sequel to actor Luke Arnold’s debut The Last Smile in Sunder City, a former soldier turned PI solves crime in a world that’s lost its magic. The name’s Fetch Phillips — what do you need? Cover a Gnome with a crossbow while he does a dodgy deal? Sure. Find out who killed Lance Niles, the big-shot businessman who just arrived in town? I’ll give it shot. Help an old-lady Elf track down her husband’s murderer? That’s right up my alley. What I don’t do, because it’s impossible, is search for a way to bring the goddamn magic back. Rumors got out about what happened with the Professor, so now people keep asking me to fix the world. But there’s no magic in this story. Just dead friends, twisted miracles, and a secret machine made to deliver a single shot of murder. Welcome back to the streets of Sunder City, a darkly imagined world perfect for readers of Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.


Detective Noir in an Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy-World setting where the magic has turned off.
A character study of someone consumed in hero-worship faced when the hero might no longer be worthy of worship.
Betrayal, hope, brightness, shadow, dragons, guns, city, cold, rebuilding, destroying, and a dead man in a ditch.
Densely written, but not happy. But then good Noir should not be happy.

And this is good Noir.

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In a city that lost its magic, an angel falls in a downtown street. His wings are feathered, whole—undeniably magical—the man clearly flew, because he left one hell of a mess when he plummeted into the sidewalk.

But what sent him up? What brought him down? And will the answers help Fetch bring the magic back for good?

Working alongside necromancers, genies, and shadowy secret societies, through the wildest forests and dingiest dive bars, this case will leave its mark on Fetch’s body, his soul, and the fate of the world.


DNF at 17% (DNF = did not finish)
It’s late March 2024. In late March 2020, the quarantine started. I’ve been trying to read this book for a couple-few weeks, but I’m going to DNF it. I’m not in the right headspace.

As our intrepid detective discovers his culture sinking and selling out to a tyrant who is delivering jobs in exchange for democracy and individualism, I am watching my culture sell out to fascism in the hopes of instant power and easy stability. He is dealing with his cops and government being owned by the business oligarchy, and I am struggling holding down multiple jobs and watching the next generation of my family sinking even further because the rich do not pay a living wage to entry level workers. I’m heartbroken because I am not in the position to help them, and this book has person after person struggling to survive in a modern-ish fantasy environment. I cannot escape what I am running from in this book – the fantasy detective noir is too noir to break me from reality, or, more likely, my reality is too noir right now.

If you are looking for Noir, this series captures the feeling well.

Book Review: Two Gun Witch

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Two Gun Witch by Bishop O’Connell


She’s got two guns loaded with magic.
Will they be enough?

Talen is a Stalker, a bounty hunter hired by the Marshal Service to hunt down humans stained by dark magic. She’s also a two-gun witch, one of the few elven women who can wield two magical revolvers, spell irons, at once. For three years she’s lived for the next bounty, and a whisper of vengeance for the destruction of her people.

That changes when she takes the warrant on Margaret Jameson, a new kind of stained, one immune to the usual tools of collection. Upon finding her quarry, Talen realizes Margaret isn’t stained at all, but someone worked very hard to make her appear so.

The search for an answer carries the two unlikely partners from the wilds of the Great Plains to the expansive cities of post-Civil War America. There, they learn the truth is much darker than they imagined, and it could mean the death of millions, or even reshape the world itself.



Wow, this is a great piece of Weird West.

Amazing worldbuilding (my jam), great characters, incredible vistas (translating this into a visual medium like a movie would actually work), good mix of action and plot, nice magic and nice western.

Full disclosure: Received the book as part of an online Facebook Christmas book party, won the contest on best piece of Western History or something like that. No review required.


Final comment (May be considered a spoiler by some)

Goodread only comments since I see this as turning some people off buying the book, and the book really should be bought, especially by those people whom this comment will make them less likely to buy the book.

“Woke” Weird West – this narrative actually acknowledges the systemic racism and misogamy, as well as the War which America still has PTSD from, laying down deep roots to permanently imbedded their poison into our culture. It’s gonna take some mighty and constant tugging to uproot the issues. Generations. Like mint and mimosa.

[Two-Gun Witch is an awesome “weird west” with guns, witches, elves, and the western plains – but it also touched on systemic hatred, the history of bigotry and misogamy, slavery and Jim Crow laws being developed, genocide of indigenous people, dealing with PTSD and other fallout from Civil War, all for the sake of “manifest destiny”.]

Why are books like this important? Sometimes people won’t look in a mirror, but they will visit the funhouse at a carnival – a distorted mirror is still a reflection.

Other Cool Blogs: I is for My Indie Bookshelf

Logo from the website

Hey, hi everyone visiting for the A-to-Z challenge. I have a variety of types of blogs I do, one is pointing to other cool blogs. Today is pointing to a cool website. Many people participating in the challenge are readers, book reviewers, and writers. If you haven’t checked out this site, I highly recommend it. Looking for your next favorite indie author? You might find them here.

How it works is indie authors just upload their books, and you get randomly recommended one (within the limits you established). Best-selling author or brand-new, everyone gets the same chance to be recommended. Plus you can sign up for Beta read and ARCS.

Check it out!