[Guest post]: The Lost Train by Seth Crossman

How to Combat Weak Characters In Your Writing
By Seth Crossman

Writing a good book is a lot like making a good stew. You need a lot of different ingredients that all play together to create a tasty final product. A good book has key ingredients: an interesting plot, good dialogue and realistic characters. But a lot of writers struggle with creating realistic characters that readers can identify with and fall in love with.

Let’s tackle some of the hardest things about character development so that you can write characters that jump off the page.

Characters need to have lives outside the content of the book. Some writers will start writing without really knowing who their characters are. They just hope to insert their character into a plot and give them a good physical description and then have them interact with the other characters as the plot moves along. Those characters feel contrived. They feel like plot devices rather than immersive characters that readers connect with. Instead, spend some time writing the character’s backstory. How did they grow up? What struggles did they have in the past and how does that shape their decision making process now? For example, if a character lost their dad when they were four, fast forward ten years and they might really gravitate toward strong male characters. Give your characters likes and dislikes. Give them experience at jobs and traumatic events. This will give your characters depth and simplify your writing process during the course of the book because you already know how they would respond or what they would say in a certain situation.

Characters need to know how to talk. When I was studying writing in college, I remember having to read a book that was all dialogue, with only about 10% narrative text. The professor was trying to show us how good dialogue develops character and moves plot along. Your characters have to have good, snappy dialogue. A mistake some writers make is talking too much. You don’t have to have lengthy dialogue, you just have to think out loud a little bit and interact with the other characters. Spend some time in coffee shop listening to people talk to each other. Sit in a police station and listen to how detectives talk. Remember that backstory above? Their language should reflect those experiences.

Over the length of a novel it is hard to keep your characters consistent and grow them at the same time. You are not only trying to let the reader see how the character acts and responds so that they understand the character, but you also are putting the character into a big crisis or conflict that will change them! One way to do this successfully is to plot out those character changes in advance. Is there a point in the story where they are challenged? That often leads to an identity check. And when they do that, they begin to change because they see the need to or are forced to. Put that into the writing at that stage. Then continue to move them through the plot with more gradual changes so the ultimate character change at the end of the book is realistic. Realistic means it will be more powerful, especially the more a reader identifies with the character.

Some people struggle writing great characters because it is hard to put it all together. But that’s not you if you remember and employ these three tips! Happy writing!




Action/Adventure Thriller

Date Published: 2/20/20

Publisher: Golden Acorn Press


    A former MP, Will Stattin, is called to Europe to investigate the theft of several paintings. He learns that the paintings are part of a series of nine pieces of art, all with a clue that ultimately leads to a train that disappeared from Konigsberg, Germany in late 1944 full of gold, art and priceless artifacts. He quickly learns that he is not the only one after the paintings. Now it is a race across Europe to find the paintings and the lost train with the help of the beautiful and savvy museum agent, Giovanna Rossi, before the hunt turns even more deadly than it already has.


About the author

PromoPhoto2Seth Crossman is a minister, speaker and writer who lives in Upstate New York.

His own adventures have taken him across the globe and stirred his desire to write fast paced, provocative thrillers that keep readers turning the page.

He has three boys that he wants to inspire with a sense of adventure and courage to overcome whatever obstacles get in their way.


Contact Links

Website: sethcrossman.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sethcrossman

Twitter: twitter.com/sethcrossman

Blog: sethcrossman.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/sethcrossman/ 

Purchase Links


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[Book blitz]: Try Not to Die: In Brightside by Mark Tullius and Dawna Gonzales

Try Not to Die In Brightside


Genre: Suspense

Release Date: February 18, 2020

Publisher: Vincere Press

More than two dozen ways to die.

Just one correct path.

Do you have what it takes to survive?

Brightside is a beautiful mountain town blanketed by snow. Towering fences create a stark contrast to the serenity that appears on the surface. Your only crime is telepathy, yet your stay here is permanent. Your fate has been determined by society’s fears.

The outlook is bleak unless you manage to become part of the escape that’s about to go down.

Watch your back, choose wisely, and be careful who you trust.

Good luck getting out of Brightside in this interactive novel.



Try Not to Die In Brightside print ipad and iphone


About the author

Try Not to Die In Brightside Author Mark Tullius

Mark Tullius is the author of Ain’t No Messiah, Twisted Reunion, 25 Perfect Days and more. He also writes nonfiction based on MMA and traumatic brain injuries.

Contact Links

Website: https://www.marktullius.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarkTullius

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMarkTullius/

Promo Link: http://bookbuzz.net/blog/suspense-try-not-to-die-in-brightside/ 


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Purchase Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B082DBMDZF

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/try-not-to-die-mark-tullius/1136301625?ean=9781938475511

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781938475511


[Book review] : The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick


Genre: Science Fiction, Speculative History

Published: 1962 (first edition)



It’s America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.

This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to wake.


My review

This book has more speculative history than sci-fi in it. It’s so philosophical and dreamy, almost meditative.

Elaborately written world, where the Third Reich and Imperial Japan have won the war and divided the rest of the planet into two, is full of paranoia, racism, and crisis of identity. However, there’s no peace between the winners either. The Reich is plotting to drop a hydrogen bomb on Japan, but only a few people are ready to sacrifice everything to stop the catastrophe.

In a neutral zone that divides the rival superpowers in America lives the author of a bestseller which is banned in the Reich. The book offers an alternative ending of the war where the Allies won and the Axis was defeated. He lives in the High Castle, protected by guards or…he just wants people to believe he does. His book gives hope for the new, reborn world.

In the minds of his readers, the parallel reality of the book clashes with the reality of their own. The world will never be the same again.

The Man in the High Castle is not the easiest read. It can be interpreted in many different ways. I hope I’ve found mine.

[Book Blitz]: Deadline by Jessica James



Book 1 Phantom Force Tactical Series

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Date Published: April, 2016

“Engaging read. Hard to put down.” — Billy Allmon, U.S. Navy SEAL (Ret)

He’s a relentless homicide detective. She’s an uncompromising journalist.

Neither desires to work together—but they’ll never uncover the truth alone.

Landing a front page headline isn’t why reporter Caitlin Sparks is investigating a string of suspicious deaths connected to the U.S. State Department. She has a personal stake in finding the killer.

Detective Blake Madison has a connection to the murders too, and will risk anything to uncover the truth. But a journalist is the last person he’d rely on to help him solve a crime—especially one whose trail of evidence leads back to him.

Joining forces becomes essential as the body count continues to grow. Someone powerful doesn’t want the truth to come out—and will stop at nothing to make sure no one talks.

On the run with nowhere to turn, the couple devises a plan to expose the killer. The risk is great and the chance of success small, but the ultimate outcome is something neither one of them envisioned.

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Blake stroked her hair. “It’s okay, baby. Just a nightmare.”

“It seemed so real.” Caitlin felt his arms tighten around her, felt the power in them, and appreciated the comforting peace they provided. She had never felt so exposed, and yet so safe and secure. She turned her head and strained to see into the darkness again. “It felt like he was really here.”

“Dreams have a way of doing that.” He rocked her for a few more minutes in his soothing embrace, and then whispered in her ear. “Better?”

Caitlin took a few more deep breaths, and then tried to draw away, embarrassed. “Yes. I’m all right.” Again, she peered over her shoulder into the darkness to see if the figure would reappear. “Sorry if I woke you.”

Blake did not release his grasp. “Don’t worry. You didn’t wake me.”

Caitlin knew it was useless to struggle so she rested her head against his chest again and tried to relax. Her mind drifted back to a time when she had been intimidated by this man. Now his mere presence was reassuring. His touch, his voice, brought security and a sense of peace.

“That’s better.” He cleared his throat, but it still sounded hoarse when he talked. “I wish you would put the past behind you.”

Caitlin’s breath caught in her throat. That’s what Vince had just told her. She pulled away and regarded Blake with a troubled look. Had Vince been trying to tell her something from the other side that was merely being echoed by Blake? Was it time to move on with her life? Was she ready for that?

She lay her head down again before answering. “I’m not sure I want to yet.”

Blake’s chest rose against her cheek as he sucked in a deep, slow breath, but he didn’t speak and his grasp was unrelenting. She savored the sensation of being held by him with her head against his heart, keenly aware of the solidness of his arms and the warmth of his skin. His embrace was powerful and tender, strong and gentle.

She allowed herself to bask briefly in the peaceful, shared moment, but then feared she was being selfish. He’s probably uncomfortable and wants to go back to bed. “I’m okay,” she murmured into his chest, trying to reassure him. “You can let me go now, Blake.” She opened her eyes when he finally answered.

“I’m not sure I want to yet.”


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About the author

James Jessica Headshot

Jessica James’ award-winning novels are inspired by her love of the land, her belief in everlasting love, and her curiosity about the past. Her novels run the gamut from military suspense and thrillers to historical fiction, Christian fiction, and small-town Southern women’s fiction.

She enjoys transporting readers to another world with complex characters and stories that stir deep emotion. Her novels appeal to both men and women and are featured in library collections all over the United States including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy. She resides in a 200-year-old house in Gettysburg, Pa.


Contact Links

Website: https://www.jessicajamesbooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RomanticHistoricalFiction

Blog: https://www.jessicajamesbooks.com/blog


Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/southernromance/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorjessicajames/

Amazon Author Pageamazon.com/author/jessicajames

BookBub : https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jessica-james 


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Purchase Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01A8T74AG/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deadline-jessica-james/1124319410?ean=2940152539110

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/deadline-72

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/deadline/id1070687633?mt=11

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/602569?ref=jessicajames

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jessica_James_Deadline?id=41jWCwAAQBAJ

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/3J0LQA

[Book review]: Origin by Dan Brown


Genre: Thriller, action, mystery


Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realises will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself… and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery… and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.


My review

Origin is a great, fast-paced, intellectual read. I couldn’t put this book down and finished it in a week (a record for such a slow reader like I am). All the characters are well-developed. Even the “bad guy”, Admiral Luis Avila, made me feel sorry for him as the circumstances of his past led him to a deadly trap.

Reading about the locations of some scenes (Bilbao, Madrid, Barcelona, etc.), I felt like I wanted to visit them.

Winston feels compelling and believable. I’m sure Mr. Brown took some ideas for it/him from “2001: Space Odyssey” film, a ’60s sci-fi masterpiece by Stanley Kubrick.
Despite some “holes” in the plot, the book is still gripping and extremely well-researched as all of Dan Brown’s books.

In the end, it leaves this uplifting feeling that our humanity is evolving in something bigger and better, and the future of humans is much brighter than we tend to think.

[Book Blitz]: The Adults in the Room by Jeffrey Mechling

The Adults in the Room

A Tim Hall Mystery

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Published: June 2019

Publisher: The Good As Gone Group


Retired CIA officer Tim Hall drinks heavily to forget the few troubles he can actually remember. Still suffering from the car crash that killed his wife and stole his memories, he volunteers for a medical trial to recover the mysteries of his past. But after he wakes from a blackout lasting days, he’s convinced two sinister men are hunting him down…

Relieved by the familiar face of his biker girlfriend, he’s shocked to learn her true identity and the devastating secrets about his accident. And soon he’s swept up in a deadly mission that could decimate American politics. But unsure if can trust his own mind, his dangerous new role may be patriotic—or treasonous.

Can Hall fill in the blanks of his fractured memory before his choices turn fatal?

The Adults in the Room is the first book in the high-octane Tim Hall Mystery series. If you like stunning revelations, deep state conspiracies, and a touch of romance, then you’ll love Jeffrey Mechling’s mind-bending thriller!

Buy The Adults in the Room to fire up an electrifying adventure today!



The Adults in the Room on tablet with bookstore logos


Purchase Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07TCSM5G1

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-adults-in-the-room-jeffrey-mechling/1134036390?ean=2940163622894

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-adults-in-the-room

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-adults-in-the-room/id1483143367?mt=11&app=itunes

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781698829333 


About the author


The Adults in the Room Author Jeffrey Mechling

Jeffrey Mechling was born in Alexandria Virginia to a family full of secrets. His maternal grandfather was thought to be an original member of the OSS [The Office of Strategic Services].

Other members of the Mechling and Emerson families, as well as family friends, lived within the shadowy world of espionage and would only revealed that they “worked for the government”.

Mr. Mechling himself has worked as a Financial Economist and Operations Research Analyst with a not too secret government agency.

Jeff has written two novels – The Adults in the Room and The Safe House. Both feature super spy couple Tim Hall and Mary Ann Wilson. He is currently writing a third Tim Hall and Mary Ann Wilson adventure.


Contact Links 

Website: http://www.thegoodasgonegroup.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jeff60706264

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ajacksmechling

Promo Link: http://bookbuzz.net/blog/mystery-thriller-the-adults-in-the-room/ 



The Adults in the Room blitz (1)

BRVL Author Spotlight: L Salt

One of my books is hosted by an amazing Book Review Virginia Lee blog. Check it out to find your next great read.

Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

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👄 Author Spotlight 👄
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#OnTour with @BookReviewVirginiaLee | #BookReviewVirginiaLee


Title: Legacy of the Iron Eagle

Author: L. Salt

Message to Readers: Thank you for your interest in my book. I hope this post will help you to find your next great read and discover a new author;)


Philip Rutkowski, a son of a Polish immigrant, “enjoys” all the benefits of big city life—a boring, routine office job, the everyday long commute, a massive mortgage, and rare nights out with a few friends. Everything changes for Philip, when his colleague and best friend, David Zilberschlag, gives him a vintage mirror to help his friend to decorate his newly-bought apartment. The mirror belonged to David’s deceased granddad, a Holocaust’s survivor, who believed that the mirror hides some dark secrets from the past. Both friends don’t believe in old man’s “fairy tales”, but when Philip…

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[Book Blitz]: So Long Earth by Michael Bienenstock

So Long Earth


Genre: Science Fiction

 Published: January 2020

2017. Dr. Thomas Burns, an environmental engineer, is listening to the President, talk about global warming. He and his colleagues quickly realise that Earth will no longer be able to sustain life in a few years. Environmental disasters all over the world are occurring at a quicker rate, and each one seems to be stronger than the previous one. As a result, Tom begins to develop and carry out his plans to build 4 spaceships for 1,000 people each to leave Earth and travel to a new galaxy to find a place to live. The Russians, Germans, and Australians all agree to build spaceships and join Tom in search of a new home somewhere in the Alpha Centauri Galaxy.

Over the next 20 years of planning Tom along with his wife, Sarah, determined but naïve son, Sam, his loyal second-in-command, Bob Jackson, and an amazing medical doctor, Dr. Sato, Tom must wrestle with inevitable questions. How are they going to sustain life for such a long journey? How can they travel fast enough? Will the Russians fully cooperate? How will they be able to successfully launch four huge spaceships at the same time? Most of all, will they be able to save humanity?


Purchase Link

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/So-Long-Earth-Michael-Bienenstock-ebook/dp/B082S4DMVK



So Long Earth print front and back with space backgrond


So Long Earth Author Michael Bienenstock

About the author: 

Michael Bienenstock is a retired teacher with over 35 years of teaching experience. He has published papers and given numerous presentations and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, a Master’s degree from Gallaudet University, and a Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Maryland at College Park. He is married with one son and lives in Florida. So Long Earth is Michael’s debut novel and no, his clone did not write this book.

Contact Links 

Website: https://www.mbienenstock.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mbeany1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mbienenstock

Promo Link: http://bookbuzz.net/blog/science-fiction-so-long-earth/ 







Denver, CO, September 2017

Dr. Thomas Burns could not believe what he was hearing. He was sitting in a restaurant with his eight-year-old son Sam after attending a baseball game. The Colorado Rockies had just defeated the New York Mets by a score of eight to six. They were discussing the various players on the team. That was until the president started talking.

Listening intently to every word President Trump said on CNN, the environmental scientist shook his head several times. He’s appealing to every gawker of developers and brand-loving radicals rolling everything back—radicals who want to de-regulate, de-environment, just de-anything—and it was deflating, thought Dr. Burns. Decades of work falling apart for a new consensus, it seemed. Depressing.

Not only was the president waging a permanent delay of just about everything, while making money for his backers, but he was hoping people were going to do nothing about it. He was buying time for some of his obscenely wealthy investors and developers; that was all. They somehow pinned their losses in the previous years from failed deals and investments on anyone but themselves, despite how their investments were only about money, not about the major concerns of the times everywhere you looked. Having had a great outing with his son only moments ago, Dr. Burns fumed as he sat there.

The president was like the suits many in the rural parts of the Dakotas, Tennessee, and his home state of Colorado worried about. They were all caught up in their excesses, mindless to what life outside their air-conditioned life was like. Who cared how his message on TV was going to benefit neglected areas? He just expected people to deal with it. Except, this time, this suit, staring at Dr. Burns on the high-definition TV screen, was the one barreling his way at anyone who gave him a microphone like a dusted wagon train full of barons with money bags who pulled into town. And he’d be building what he knew best, a wall of heat for struggling people. They were less interested in tackling the daily concerns in their lives, finding no areas of concern in common.

Dr. Burns shook his head again. And the environment was a no-brainer!

Sam looked up at him momentarily, and Dr. Burns gave a half-reassuring smile. Sam returned his attention to his cell phone.

The president was unconcerned about whatever no man’s land was left in his wake of ruin while he doled out skepticism and disparaging comments when people needed reassurances and to feel confidence that the authorities were doing their best to keep them safe and secure. In the old Wild West, they used to blame the Yankee, wondering if somebody up in the skyscrapers meant them more harm than good. They just wanted the top suite.

Dr. Burns couldn’t stop looking from the TV to his son. He felt like he was falling into an abyss when he should have been feeling like he was there to share a moment of joy with his son.

He stood up, and despite his tall stature—he’d almost made it to varsity baseball years ago at six feet, two inches tall—he felt powerless. It was time to put the agreed-upon plan into action—at full speed. First, he gave his son some ice cream and told him to stay seated across from him, take out his Game Boy, and put his ear buds in, as he did not want Sam to be concerned about what he was going to discuss with everyone. He pulled out his phone and dialed a group text number, the specific code setting of a meeting of his peers. Tom raked his hands through his solid black hair, practically pulling strands out as he waited impatiently for everyone involved in the meeting.

            Within five minutes, all of his colleagues around the world were on FaceTime. He’d been selective about which colleagues from Russia, Germany, Australia and America he involved in preparing the mission. Several of them had worked with him on projects at Boeing and others he had met at conferences around the world that had brought his attention to the staggeringly slow pace of applied research. He knew immediately what he wanted to say to the thirty people he’d reached. He trusted them. He sat back down as they met and discussed their plans.

Members from these four countries were going to be the first ones involved because they understood that to do nothing would ensure the end of the human race. These thirty people were the most esteemed researchers in their field of expertise. They published nearly 500 research papers researching climate warming and various environmental issues as well as future space travel. Russia as the leader in space travel was an obvious choice. Germany had some of the leading engineers in the world. Australians had suffered a great number of environmental disasters such as a deteriorating Great Barrier Reef and also had a large number of excellent engineers.

            Tom, despite his anguish, spoke calmly. “I hope everyone was watching the president’s disgusting speech. Obviously, he is not going to listen to any environmental scientists or reports. We have no choice but to go ahead with our agreed upon plan. It is full steam ahead. We will have to speed everything up. Based on the environmental evidence and facts, the human race probably has 200 years—or less—to live. To survive, we need to find a new planet.” 

Several of his colleagues made comments agreeing with Dr. Burns. They all agreed they would go home and start implementing the agreed upon plans.

            With that, he ended the FaceTime meeting. He felt a spectrum of emotions including betrayal by the president’s actions and fear for his children’s future and the future of everyone else. He had hoped his family could grow up to lead normal lives, go to college, marry, have children and choose a career for themselves without worrying about the environmental disasters that were sure to take place. He also felt bad for just about everyone alive and every person yet to be born. Most people were going to face terrible hardships just trying to survive. Most of all, he felt determined.

            He and Sam walked toward the exit. Tom waved goodbye to the woman behind the counter.

As his son closed the door behind them to the restaurant, Tom felt the cool night air, hoping his son wasn’t too cold given the temperature had fallen quickly. It was September and although it had been a mild seventy-five degrees at Coors Field, they had to walk a block to get to their car. He didn’t want to embarrass his son, so he just put his arm around him to keep him warmer. Sam didn’t protest thankfully. 

As they made their way to their car, Tom couldn’t help but look at Sam’s baseball glove that Sam held loosely in his hands. He’d given the glove to Sam after his son refused to use his old worn-out one. Tom had used that glove as a teenager when he was about Sam’s age. He laughed to himself when he remembered Sam’s look on his face as he stared at Tom’s old glove. It seemed so important to him to give it to Sam, but Sam wanted his own glove.

Tom knew that Sam had loved the game that afternoon. Sam had a fantastic baseball card collection and recited stats that baffled Tom, who also felt proud of his son for knowing and memorizing all kinds of stats. Seemed like the type of thing kids should be worried about in high school, not what was weighing on Tom’s mind. Tom shook away a bunch of thoughts. He still wanted to look like he was enjoying himself after he and Sam had watched their favorite team win and ate at their favorite restaurant. But that damn television and the news. He was overcome with concern and resentment, knowing that his son’s future was going to be nothing like his own.

Sam said, “You know my good friend Kory just made varsity, and I heard that there were even some top university recruits watching. I hope when I get to high school, I’ll play that well.”

Tom stared at Sam momentarily, masking the welled-up feeling of regret and sorrow that threatened to silence him, before he said, “Sam, you’re going to play with the best.” 

He unlocked the car door, and they headed toward Interstate 70. All the while, Tom was glad that he had reached an agreement with his colleagues that there would be no more delays, no matter what lay ahead.

And so, it began.



[Book review]: Ubik by Philip K. Dick


Genre: Science Fiction

Published: 1969 (first edition)


  Glen Runciter runs a lucrative business – deploying his teams of anti-psychics to corporate clients who want privacy and security from psychic spies. But when he and his top team are ambushed by a rival, he is gravely injured and placed in “half-life,” a dreamlike state of suspended animation.

    Soon, though, the surviving members of the team begin experiencing some strange phenomena, such as Runciter’s face appearing on coins and the world seeming to move backward in time. As consumables deteriorate and technology gets ever more primitive, the group needs to find out what is causing the shifts and what a mysterious product called Ubik has to do with it all.

My review 

This is the third work of Philip K Dick I’ve read so far, and to me…not his best one.

With the plot set in an extremely commercialised world of 1992, the story follows Glen Runciter and his employees, the individuals with the extraordinary telepathic abilities.
When Mr. Runciter dies in the explosion, orchestrated by his business rivals in one of the remote Earth’s colonies, his assistant and deputy, Joe Chip, tries to save his boss by putting him in the moratorium, a place where so called half-lifers can prolong their existence, laying in cold packs and communicating with the outside world. Despite all the efforts, at first, it seems like Joe has failed.

The plot thickens when the employees, including Joe, start to receive encrypted messages from their dead boss, and the world around them starts to regress and decay, turning into ashes.
Finding themselves drawn back to 1939 by an unknown, powerful force, Joe and his peers need to fight the regression to stay sane, but the main thing, to survive.I must admit, P. K. Dick is a master of creation of the weird, surrealistic, lonely multiple words within the worlds. His matryoshka-like realities make readers wonder where’s the border between the real life, half-life, and death. Is death possible at all? Or, like Ella Runciter, Glen’s wife who experiences the half-life, we’ll be reborn again one day? Or maybe a spray of Ubik can help to stop it?

Ubik is not an easy, straight forward read. It made me think the plot over and over again. Are they all dead, after all?

I found it extremely difficult to get through the first few chapters of the story, as the author introduces readers to too many characters at once. I struggled to follow Joe’s discoveries and theories about what really has happened to him and his colleagues as well. Jumping from one conclusion to another, the book doesn’t explain much in the end.
I love cliffhanger and yet… Ubik could’ve had some more clarity for the tastes not as philosophical as its author’s ones.