Category: #SciFiReadathon

Book Review | “Category 5” (Book 1: Science Thrillers Trilogy) by Paul Mark Tag a technothriller involving catastrophic weather conditions and storms

Posted Monday, 1 December, 2014 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

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Category 5 by Paul Mark Tag

{ Book 1 of the Science Thrillers Trilogy }

{ Book 2 : Prophecy }

{ Book 3 : White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy }

Published By: iUniverse (@iUniverse)

Available Formats: Hardback, Trade Paperback, & Ebook

Genre(s): Fiction | Science Technothriller | Espionage & Intrigue | Science Fact

Converse via: #ScienceThrillersTrilogy, #technothriller#PaulMarkTag

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Acquired Book By: Whilst my path crossed originally with Mr. Tag through my participation of his blog tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & Media (on behalf of “How Much Do You Love Me?”), we have continued to stay in touch since the tour ended. What I found most fascinating about his historical fiction debut is how soul stirring the narrative was depicted against the backdrop of war and the timelessness of his approach to etch a story out of our collective emotional hearts. I was very moved by his multi-cultural characters and of a story taken straight out of history and World War II. Thus, when I was approached to receive his Science Thrillers Trilogy in exchange for review, I was most delighted indeed! To be honoured with the chance to read his science fiction based on science fact thrillers would enable me to see a new dimension of his writing style and voice!

I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Paul Mark Tag, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Book Review | “Category 5” (Book 1: Science Thrillers Trilogy) by Paul Mark Tag a technothriller involving catastrophic weather conditions and stormsCategory 5
by Paul Mark Tag
Source: Direct from Author

Dr. Victor Mark Silverstein is a Jewish African-American whose background is as unusual as his personality. He lives a privileged life as the Naval Research Laboratory's preeminent meteorologist and scientist. But beneath the facade of a self-centered, arrogant personality lies a seething, vulnerable man whose secrets have plagued his sleep since 1982. That's when he discovered the truth about what happened to his girlfriend, Sylvia.

In the year 2007, his nightmares become a reality when weather satellites detect an environmental aberration. Memories from college at Penn State -- and their accompanying heartbreak -- push their way back into Silverstein's life. Only he knows the root cause of the phenomenon and its scientific basis -- and the mastermind behind it all.

This fast-paced thriller spans the globe: from the Suez Canal and Christmas Island to Istanbul, Turkey; to Monterey, California and Washington, DC; and finally to Bermuda. Silverstein and his feisty female assistant, Dr. Linda Kipling, begin a desparate and harrowing pursuit for the truth and for those responsible. With time running out and the environmental catastrophe unfolding, they must survive a terrifying ride through the eyewall of a hurricane. The final showdown pits good against evil and intellect against loyalty. Along the way, Silverstein finds peace and becomes reacquainted with a faith he abandoned long ago.

Places to find the book:

Also by this author: How Much Do You Love Me?,

Series: Science Thrillers Trilogy,

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Science Fiction, Thriller

Published by iUniverse

on 31st April, 2005

Format: Paperback

Pages: 324

About Paul Mark Tag

How Much Do You Love Me? by Paul Mark Tag

Paul Mark Tag graduated with degrees in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University and worked for the Naval Research Laboratory as a research scientist for over thirty years before retiring to write fiction. For years prior to retirement, and the following year exclusively, he honed his skills writing short stories. These have been published in StoryBytes, Potpourri, Green’s Magazine, and The Storyteller, as well as The Errant Ricochet: Max Raeburn’s Legacy.

In 2005, Tag published his first thriller, Category 5, which took advantage of his knowledge of meteorology and weather modification. Prophecy and White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy followed Category 5, with White Thaw tackling global climate change, a topical subject these days. With his historical novel How Much Do You Love Me? Tag has switched genres. He lives with his wife, Becky, in Monterey, California.

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The science within Category 5:

I have oft wondered why there isn’t more talk about modifications and protocols to augment the severity of natural disasters as we have seen played in science fiction modules. Weather modification has been a hearty subject for a long time, but I was always drawn to the natural disaster films which attempted to either clarify the issue in layman’s terms or give a plausible example of what could happen if we start to monk about with natural systems we have no business altering by artificial means. The theory within the novel Category 5 is hugged close to my own thoughts and musings on the topic at large; if you could find a way to interject a change of severity and course of a storm whilst it is already in-progress and growing in strength. It is plausible because anyone who has stood outside during a severe weather occurrence starts to denote a few things in the atmosphere; the least of which is the changing colours of the sky itself, but moreso, the change of ambiance of the time of the occurrence itself.

I have observed there is a stillness when your outside observing weather as it occurs; hurricanes by far have the worst calm within the eye whereas the calm center of a tornado is daunting on a different level completely. Both the eye and the center of both storms do have one particular thing in common: they are fair warning of what is coming next. If we start to use science to control what is naturally occurring and thereby has it’s own cycle of influence on the natural world, are we then able to justify the results if the outcome is less than equal to the projected end results? Sometimes what you beg trouble for is far worse than living through what has already arrived.

Part of me is curious of what is not understood and cannot be explained; climate and meteorology have always held strong influences on me (where I live notwithstanding) and a part of this might stem from my great-grandfather whose fascination with electricity was directly linked to his curiosity about lightning. If only I could travel back in time to speak to him about his own observations and what he gleamed by staring down the bolts of pure electricity as they lit up the evening skies and gave a shuddering start to the extreme weather of his era.

When they started to talk about ocean temperatures I nearly chuckled to myself — I still remember flying over the Gulf for the first time and noticing the differences in both density and colourations of the ocean’s surface. Part of me mused if the variations had anything to do with temperatures as much as the depth of the particular portions I was flying over; as that is one observation you cannot gleam standing on the ground. Flying reveals a lot about our world as the juxtaposition increases the mind to accept the larger view more to scale than when we are looking down rather than sideways or up. The ocean sciences (from oceanography to geophysics to geothermal plate tectonics) were a keen interest of mine whilst growing up. Naturally I would evolve into appreciating every sub-field inter-related to Environmental Science, Climatology, Meteorology and Natural Weather or Disasters such as Snow Science, Vulcanology, and Glaciology. Tag has written a novel a science geek like me is overjoyed to have found existing in science fiction! It is a thread of theory combined with real-life plausible scenarios which have the most direct impact on mass causality and aftermath; a warning of a tale about the temptations of where science can lead man to technology that can offset the balance of order and chaos.

There is a point in the story where Silverstein is mentioned as studying forensic meteorologist – giving me a bit of pause as I was most intrigued at that designation. (the forensic sciences are another thread of interest of mine) I was curious if this is what Paleoclimatology was originally called or if the forensic side of meteorology is a sub-field exploring a completely different branch of data. Considering climate and weather are generally studied separately, I found it quite fascinating to see this inside the novel. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:


Posted Monday, 1 December, 2014 by jorielov in #IndieWriterMonth, #SciFiReadathon, 21st Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, African-American Literature, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Review (non-blog tour), Debut Author, Debut Novel, Environmental Science, Equality In Literature, Espionage, Go Indie, Hard Science Fiction, Indie Author, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Meteorology, Methodology of Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy, Military Fiction, Modern Day, Natural Disasters & Catastrophic Events, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Post-911 (11th September 2001), RALs | Thons via Blogs, Reading Challenges, Sci-Fi November, Science, Science Fiction, SFN Bingo, Sociological Behavior, Space Science, The Sci-Fi Experience, Uncategorized, Vulgarity in Literature

Blog Book Tour | “Fade to Black” (Book 1: The Weir Chronicles) by Sue Duff #RRSciFiMonth #IndieWriterMonth

Posted Thursday, 13 November, 2014 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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Fade to Black Blog Tour via JKS Communications

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Fade to Black” virtual book tour through JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publicist at JKS Communications, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Blog Book Tour | “Fade to Black” (Book 1: The Weir Chronicles) by Sue Duff #RRSciFiMonth #IndieWriterMonthFade to Black
by Sue Duff
Source: Direct from Publicist

In the world of illusions there are many secrets . . .

Ian Black has more than most.

Ian Black is an illusionist with a talent for keeping secrets. College student Rayne Bevan has a gift for uncovering them. She suspects that the popular performer's skills extend beyond the stage and that he's the area’s mysterious and elusive defender of the innocent.

In her efforts to uncover the truth, Rayne is swept into the hidden world of the Weir, a magical race who struggle to prevent Earth from self-destructing. Her inquiries expose Ian to those who would kill for his connection to the planet, and as he fights to keep Rayne safe, they discover a force behind the Weir’s raging civil war—a traitor bent on launching Earth’s Armageddon.

Places to find the book:

Series: The Weir Chronicles,

Genres: Sci-Fantasy

Published by CrossWinds Publishing

on October, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 456

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A bit of a back-story on how this novel was conceived:

Where did you come up with your ideas for Fade to Black?

I was in search of a new kind of superhero and I drew upon my love of science in a deliberate avoidance of all things alien, vampire, werewolf, or typical wizardry. From that basic premise, Ian’s character and the world of the Weir gradually took shape.

You’re a fan of both fantasy and science fiction, and your writing is a hybrid of the two genres. Can you talk a little about writing the book in such a way?

Although the basis of the story is very much Contemporary Fantasy, I pull strong SciFi elements into all the novels in the series. The basic plot centers on the fact that the Weir are dying out. In this day and age, it made sense to me that even magical beings might turn to modern science as a way to stop, or reverse, the extinction of their race. I enjoy the dichotomy that the Weir, with their care of the planet and emphasis of all things natural, debunk what they have stood for, over thousands of years, and mess with Mother Nature in an attempt to save their butts.

While Fade to Black is an entertaining read, you do have a message behind it as well for readers?

Yes, there are two things I hope people get out of reading the series. Regardless of the naysayers, believe in yourself and follow your own strengths and path in the world. Ian didn’t develop his powers as the prophecy predicted, and Rayne wasn’t the firstborn male Sar that her father desired. The fact that Ian turned to illusions in order to do what he couldn’t naturally (lack of powers in a magical world) is key to his character. Tortured for what he had no control over, he discovered and nurtured something that he could control.

Secondly, accept that science can’t explain everything and embrace the wonders and mysteries in the universe. My favorite line from the first book is: There will always be magic in the world, as long as we believe in what we don’t understand.

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About Sue Duff

Sue Duff has been writing since high school but never became serious about it until a skiing accident laid her up for an entire summer and she turned on the word processor to combat the boredom. A couple years later, her first urban fantasy novel, Fade to Black, was a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Writing Contest.

By day, she’s a dedicated speech-language therapist in an inner city school district. But her life as a writer is her true passion and the creative outlet keeps her sane. Sue is a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and The Pikes Peak Writers. Her creativity extends into her garden and the culinary arts.

Born in Chicago, she moved to Phoenix as a young child. She received her bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University and her master’s from the University of Denver. She is the second oldest of six girls with an avid reader mom and her dad, the family’s single drop of testosterone in a sea of estrogen. Fate thought it hilarious to give her a son but maternal instincts swing both ways and she didn’t break the little bugger. She lives in Colorado with her miniature dachshund, Snickers, and hears from her son, Jonathan, whenever he needs something.

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My Review of Fade to Black:

At first, I must confess I was a bit confused on the dimensions of the world where Ian Black lives, as I am a bit used to world building and characters having a hearty breadth of fusion between the two; untoward not having any gaps or misgivings on where each fit into each other. For Fade to Black, the hardest part about the opening Chapters is that there is a lot of information funneling into sight but there is a bit of an absence of how each component fuses and fits individually as much as which of them key into triggers of the wider story. I felt a Glossary or an Appendix on some of the dimensional time shifting and other elements which give Ian Black and his kind their supernatural abilities would have provided a bit of a foundation.

The part that I felt compelled to read further into the text itself was how Ian Black could conjure illusions out of his training as a performer but also how he could add-in his natural gift to ‘shift’ (spelt: shyft) in/out of rooms and close spaces within where his performances took place. There is a wider story arc existing within the fringes of the background, but without a clarity of knowing ‘what Ian Black’s back-story’ is nor a full understanding of how Patrick fits into his life as his agent (supposing as his role is uncertain) or how there are twins (Mara & Tara), a teacher Milo, and this nefarious cat and mouse dance between the forces of good and evil. There are secondary characters arriving on scene whilst Ian Black is caught rescuing a woman in an alley, but it the absence of understanding who the Duach are and what motivates them against the Weir which I found most frustrating. Even the inclusionary eye of a team of ‘Watchers’ is only encouraged to be taken on sight without understanding if they work for the organisational entity behind the Weir themselves or if they are a group of intercessory workers to keep people like Ian Black safe from dangerous exits of their lives.

As we meet Ian Black, he is getting ready to create an illusionary performance for a cheering audience of supporters of magic and illusion; it is within this performance we find that Ian Black is mortal and not immortal against his tricks of action, light and illusionary art. There are a few small foreshadows about who might come forward later to play a more central role in the story, such as Rayne Bevan, but what drew me in and out of the story itself is having to wait so long to understand the world itself.

I felt as though I were reading the second book in the series rather than the first, there is such a bevy of information I felt was presumptively accepted on behalf of the reader yet I had no honest clue what half of the characters were trying to tell me. Even by page 63, I was only being given snippets of what the entire story arc could be and where the imbalance between the light and dark forces were going to bleed into the world; circumventing the role Ian Black would have as an illusionist.

Rather than giving us a grounding in science at the jump start of the novel, we are picking up small clues of what makes Ian Black uniquely different from others; we never quite see the full picture nor understand completely how his gifts are working to aide him in both his act and his acts of heroism. I wanted to fall into step with this story, and curl into a Sci-Fantasy as riveting to read and devour as the Piercing the Veil Series yet instead I found myself struggling to align in the world of the Weir Chronicles.  My first reading of this novel did not go as I had hoped, I had so many questions bobbling inside of my head as I read each new chapter that the joy I was expecting to feel as I read dissipated. I was disappointed because I simply could not continue forward – I wasn’t sure if I wanted to wait any longer to endear myself to a character who was remarkably unknown to me and whose entire life was a mysterious footnote of exclusion.

Sadly, the cover art combined with the book synopsis had such a breath of promise, I was truly saddened I could not knit inside this world. 

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This blog tour is courtesy of JKS Communications:

Fade to Black Blog Tour via JKS Communications

See what I am hosting next by stopping by my Bookish Events page!

I created a list on Riffle to share the books that I simply could not become attached to as a reader myself, but stories which would benefit a reader to find them, and appreciate them for what each writer gave to their story. For me, the reason I included Fade to Black is because I felt immediately disconnected to the story as soon as I first opened the book itself and unlike my fellow book bloggers who waited til halfway or further into the story to understand the basic metrics of the science behind the curious plot, I am not that patient as a reader who thrives on science based stories of Sci-Fantasy. Therefore, this is now listed on my Riffle List entitled: Stories Seeking Love from Readers.

This review is being cross-promoted via:

SFN 2014 Participant badge created by Jorie in Canva#IndieWriterMonth Blog Feature of Jorie Loves A Story, badge created by Jorie in Canva

Reader Interactive Question:

What do you prefer when you read Sci-Fantasy!? Do you appreciate having a grounding of the science within the fantasy world your reading to be presented in the opening chapters to set the tone, pace, and direction of the story? Or do you prefer to remain in the dark on everything until at long last the revelation takes place further into the novel?

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Fade to Black”, author photograph, author biography, book synopsis, excerpts from the Author Q&A (via the Press Kit) and the tour badge were all provided by JKS Communications and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Badges for Sci Fi November & #IndieWriterMonth created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:


Posted Thursday, 13 November, 2014 by jorielov in #SciFiReadathon, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Fantasy Fiction, Go Indie, Indie Author, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm, Light vs Dark, Parapsychological Gifts, Parapsychological Suspense, RALs | Thons via Blogs, Reading Challenges, Sci-Fi November, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Suspense, Urban Life, Vulgarity in Literature