13 Mar 2015

Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells - review, interview

Title: Fluency

Author: Jennifer Foehner Wells

Publisher: Blue Bedlam Science Fiction (June 18, 2014) ISBN: 978-0990479826

Category:  Science Fiction: Space Opera, First Contact, Action-Adventure, Alien, Romance Tour

Date: March 2-April 30, 2015

Available in: Print, ebook, 373 Pages

NASA discovered the alien ship lurking in the asteroid belt in the 1960s. They kept the Target under intense surveillance for decades, letting the public believe they were exploring the solar system, while they worked feverishly to refine the technology needed to reach it. The ship itself remained silent, drifting. Dr. Jane Holloway is content documenting nearly-extinct languages and had never contemplated becoming an astronaut. But when NASA recruits her to join a team of military scientists for an expedition to the Target, it’s an adventure she can’t refuse. The ship isn’t vacant, as they presumed. A disembodied voice rumbles inside Jane’s head, "You are home." Jane fights the growing doubts of her colleagues as she attempts to decipher what the alien wants from her. As the derelict ship devolves into chaos and the crew gets cut off from their escape route, Jane must decide if she can trust the alien’s help to survive. 

My review:

5/5 stars

Fluency is one of the best books I’ve read this year so far. It had every potential to amaze me and indeed it did. The story kept me on the edge of my seat, I enjoyed every second of it.
I liked that it had a classic sci-fi feel to it: seemingly abandoned alien spaceship, a story within the story about the tragic demise of the crew, malicious space slugs, mysterious illness– what’s not to like here? 

The characters were spot on, they had depth and every one of them was important their own way. I liked Varma, the doctor, because she was very rational and always listened when she was asked to listen. I didn’t like Walsh, because he did just the opposite. I think a good leader is willing to hear and consider the opinions of the members of his team and, since he wasn’t able to make compromises at all, he was anything but a good leader.

The dynamics of Jane and Alan’s relationship were pretty interesting. I was rooting for them and.. ugh… I was so frustrated when it didn’t want to work out for them no matter how much they both wanted the other.

I found the story of the Sectilius quite fascinating and I think the story idea that alien races might need human help to get rid of a hostile race is pretty unique.

All in all Fluency was a cool read and it deserves five stars. I recommend this book to every sci-fi lover. You’ll have so much fun if you decide to pick it up!

Praise for 'Fluency':

"Author Jennifer Wells' writing genius comes from her vast knowledge of the highly technical subject matter and her ability to put the reader in the middle of it without losing him/her in technical jargon while creating characters that seem completely natural and believable."- Jean Fisher for Independent Publisher News 

"With her first novel, Jennifer Wells adds a fresh voice to the sci-fi genre and distinguishes herself as an author to watch." -Theresa Kay, author of Broken Skies  

"One of the runaway sci-fi hits on Amazon this year has been Jennifer Foehner Wells’ space thriller Fluency and quite frankly it’s a welcome addition to the genre. Fluency moves at a breakneck pace in a very cinematic fashion,  the narrative mostly linear with some minor flashbacks to fill in gaps in the back story. Wells does a fine job of dealing with the technical side of proceedings without resorting to complicated jargon (I know I know, some geeks love the jargon but not this one!) The human technology is believable and the alien technology while advanced, is also impressively practical. While the strong female character has become a bit of a cliché in sci-fi over the past few years, it’s worth noting that many of these female characters have been written by men. What makes Fluency so refreshing is that Holloway’s character develops in a much more believable fashion given her circumstances. Sure she has to eventually toughen up and fight, but she’s much more than that. She’s a brilliant mind faced with a life-changing event and not just her life but the entire planet’s and her decisions will have monumental consequences. Her ability to focus is paramount and though it may seem she is being manipulated at times, she quickly takes control of her relationship with Ei’Brai. As the story reaches its gripping conclusion it also lays the groundwork for an exciting continuation of this rapidly unfolding saga. Littered with plenty of nods and winks to classic sci-fi and some clever pop culture references, Fluency is a thrilling, bumpy ride that rarely falters and firmly cements Jennifer Foehner Wells’ standing in the indie scene as an innovative and refreshing new voice in modern sci-fi."- Eamon Ambrose, Eamo The Geek  

"A book that is just as appealing to women as it is to men. I’ll admit, I saw the beautiful cover and thought it was going to be old-school, hardcore sci-fi with lots of technobabble and women in service roles rather than command ones. By the time we got into space I was hooked, and only got more engrossed the further I went. There’s no flab in this book. It starts out strongly and each scene is carefully considered in how it develops the characters and advances the plot. The pitch rises gradually until leveling off at the end, just as it should. The prose is straightforward and lets the reading just flow. Dialogue made sense and there weren’t too many narrative sequences. Again, Jennifer Foehner Wells has taken care in crafting a balance of elements. This is a pretty special book. It’s a modern take on sci-fi, and has a lot to offer. There’s a light romantic subplot, a first-contact scenario, and a high-stakes situation that seems unclear, then clear, then unclear again. This story isn’t predictable and it doesn’t rely on any timeworn tropes. Fluency is something new in fiction, and that always excites the hell out of me."-Zen, Women of Badassery 

Interview with the author:

1. If you were asked to recommend three scifi books what would they be?

Ernest Cline Ready Player One
Mary Doria Russell The Sparrow
Octavia Butler Dawn
I could list about 20 morebut these were three that I read recently that had the most impact on me.

            2. Were you given the chance, would you embark on a space mission you wrote about?

Absolutely! Yes! If I didnt have children to care for, I would go in a heartbeat. I would be terrified, but I would go.

      3. Do you believe in the existence of aliens? If so, do you think they are driven by their instincts or that they are intelligent and/or creatures of emotion?

Thats a fascinating question. Yes, I do. There are just so many exoplanets out thereits impossible for me to believe otherwise. As to what drives them? I cant even begin to know. But I suspect there is much diversity among them, just like there is here on Earth. 

Sentience may be more rarebut lifelife, I am certain, exists in abundance. I can only guess that there are species that are better than us in some ways and worse than us in others. They may have evolved under other environmental pressures. 

Our own cultural history contains long periods of cooperative sharing (when we were hunters and gatherers) and a more selfish approach toward each other (once we began to use agriculture) and this dichotomy still wars inside modern humans in the form of capitalist greed, not planning for the future environmentally, the way we marginalize people by sexual preference, race, gender, poverty, religious beliefs, and the urge to horde against bad times vs. benevolent intentions. I imagine that life on other worlds may have faced these challenges as well as many others.

4. What sort of research did you do before/while writing Fluency?

I started by reading autobiographies of various astronauts. Then I began to learn about the space programfirst the most general information and then diving deeper and deeper into specific categories to glean important details. I might have begun on a wikipedia page and then followed the links to NASA pages with more specific information. 

I was interested in: what space suits are like to wear, what NASA food is like, what being in microgravity for extended periods of time does to a person, what kinds of precautions NASA would take regarding human sexuality, what kind of ship would my crew inhabitsize, shape, interior space, and many, many other things.

That was just the start. I researched intensely for about a month and then as I was writing, topics would come up and I would stop the writing process to research them, often to figure out how a character would solve a specific problem. So, Id have to educate myself to whatever level of knowledge I felt they would have that a general reader could understand and then follow where that led. Sometimes that directs the narrative into new and unexpected places. 

Some writers just put in a placeholder in the text and keep writing. Ive never been able to do that because I often feel that what I find in my research will inform my writing so much that I may end up having to re-write a scene after the research is done. Im not one to waste time that way, though sometimes research can turn into a rabbit hole of interesting topics thats hard to crawl back out of and get back to writing!

      5. Tell us about your writing process! Do you have a writing routine?

I make a very rough outline before I start writing. I always know where Im going. Essentially I divide my work into a 4-act story structure with plot points that Im aiming to hit. I plot out what all of those will be before I start. That is the framework of my story. The armature, if you will. Then I start writing and flesh it out. 

I try to write according to Rachel Aarons recommendations to optimize word counts. I dont have a ton of free time since I have two small children. So, before I sit down to write a scene I daydream about it for a bit and then I write out longhand a little sketch about what its about. Sometimes I just write down what each character wants in the scene and how he or she is feeling. Thats enough to get me going and I can write a little more quickly then.

My writing routine is to get my kids off to school, then quickly check to make sure I have nothing pressing in the email to attend to, then i write most of the morning. I take a break around lunchtime for about an hour then I write until my kids come home from school. After they are settled with homework and snacks then I try to catch up on other things. I may write more in the evening after everyone else has gone to bed. It makes for long days. 

Unfortunately Im a very slow writer. It just is what it is. It can take me 6 hours to produce 2000 words. Other authors can do much more. I envy that. I hope to gain some speed as the years go by.
On weekends I try to always work at least an hour or two of writing in each day. I aim to write every day. it doesnt always work out, but thats my goal. Always pushing forward.

      6. What do you think your reaction would be to EiBrai when you saw him for the first time?

My reaction would be very much like Janes. I would think he was beautiful to the point of being moved to tears. Theres a reason that I chose to use a character like him in this story. Ive long been enamored of creatures of his type. As long as I can remember. The research for using him as a character only fueled that  interest into an obsession!

          7. Will there be a second book? How long do we have to wait for it?

Yes! Im working on it now. Book Two in the Confluence Trilogy will be called Remanence and Im planning to release it in June of 2015. This winter has been extremely difficult for writing, but Im still hopeful I can pull it off.

About Jennifer Foehner Wells:Jennifer Foehner Wells

Jennifer Foehner Wells lives an alternately chaotic and fairly bucolic existence in Indiana with two boisterous little boys, a supportive husband, a mildly unhinged Labrador retriever, and three adorable pet rats as housemates. Having studied biology, Jen's possessed with a keen interest in science and technology. She's 100% geek and proud of it. FLUENCY was Jen’s debut. It spent weeks in the Kindle Top 100, going as high as number 4. It remains prominent in several Science Fiction categories. It has garnered 848 five star reviews, to date.
Website: www.jenniferfoehnerwells.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jenthulhu Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferFoehnerWells?ref=bookmarks Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/110012412930597513254/110012412930597513254/posts

Buy 'Fluency':

Amazon Barnes and Noble Book Depository Indie Bound

Follow the Tour:

Indie Review Behind the Scenes Feb 20 Live I 6 PM cst Teddy Rose Book Reviews Mar 2 Spotlight & Giveaway 100 Pages A Day Mar 3 Review & Excerpt Tea Talks Mar 3 Guest Post & Excerpt Feminist Reflections Blog Mar 4 Review & Excerpt Mindful Musings Mar 5 Review BookJunkieMom @ Rainy Day Mar 5 Guest Post & Excerpt Paranormal Romance Mar 6 Review Not Now...Mommy's Reading Mar 6 Guest Post & Giveaway Reading Romances Mar 9 Review The Book's Buzz  Mar 10 Review What U Talking Bout Willis? Mar  11 Excerpt Joy's Book Blog Mar 12 Review, Interview, & Giveaway Paradise Found Mar 13 Review, Interview & Excerpt Literary R&R Mar 17 Review The Goode Word Mar 18 Review Pinky's Favorite Reads Mar 18 Interview & Giveaway Cassandra M's Place Mar 24 Review & Giveaway fuonlyknew Mar 26 Review TrulySimplyPink Mar 27 Review & Excerpt Deal Sharing Aunt Mar 30 Review My Tangled Skeins Book Apr 1 Review, Guest Post, Excerpt,& Giveaway Room With Books Apr 2 Review, Interview & Giveaway Mary's Cup of Tea Apr 7 Review Books and Quilts Apr 8 Review BK Walker Books Apr 9 Guest Post Inspire to Read April 10 Spotlight Rockin' Book Reviews Apr 10 Review Brooke Blogs Apr 24 Review

1 Mar 2015

Book Tour - Silk by Chris Karlsen

Mystery / Suspense / Thriller
Date Published: December 14, 2015

Silk on the skin—luxurious, luscious..lethal.
London-Fall, 1888
The city is in a panic as Jack the Ripper continues his murderous spree. While the Whitechapel police struggle to find him, Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone and his partner are working feverishly to find their own serial killer. The British Museum's beautiful gardens have become a killing ground for young women strangled as they stroll through.
Their investigation has them brushing up against Viscount Everhard, a powerful member of the House of Lords, and a friend to Queen Victoria. When the circumstantial evidence  points to him as a suspect, Rudyard must deal with the political blowback, and knows if they are going to go after the viscount, they'd better be right and have proof.
As the body count grows and the public clamor for the detectives to do more, inter-department rivalries complicate the already difficult case. 

My review:

4/5 stars

I don’t read as much crime fiction nowadays as I used to, but Silk reminded me why I adore this genre. I love the time period the book is set in and this was the initial reason why I wanted to read Chris Karlsen’s novel. 

The book started with a murder that set the mood for the story. I liked that we could see things from the murderer’s perspective. William is a very peculiar person, he has strange personality treats that makes his character all the more intriguing. For example he doesn’t like eating together with anyone and he would do everything to stay young in body and mind.

Our other main character, Rudyard Bloodstone, is a lovely chap. He leads the investigation process that the reader gets tangled in in Silk. I was glad I could ’see’ how the police worked, how investigations were running in Victorian London. 

The writing was very solid, I enjoyed the book from the beginning to the end and therefore I recommend it to everyone who would like to relax in the company of a good crime novel.


Events of the day and the potential satisfaction of giving Napier a bloody nose dwindled. Questions about the murder crept back into Ruddy's thoughts. Morris joined him at his table in the rear of the pub with a Guinness, the popular beer of choice in hand. “You’ve got the look of a man whose thoughts are a long distance from London.” 
“No, sadly my thoughts are fixed here in the city. I’m trying to figure out a clue. Ellis’s roommate said she’d sometimes meet with a well-dressed man, a man of means the victim indicated. They’d meet up at the fountain by the British Museum.”
“Don’t know the spot but then the museum isn’t my cup of tea.”
“Not the point. I’m saying it’s odd. What member of the upper class chooses to stroll through a public garden other than Hyde or Regents, where they can see and be seen by one of their own?”
“I agree the wealthy prefer the parks filled with others of their kind but it doesn’t mean a man can’t enjoy someplace different.”
“We interviewed the guard again. The one that discovered the body walks that half of the building. He told us the majority of their male patrons are natty dressers, but he never saw a man like that loitering by the fountain.”
“My guess is: the man is married and can’t afford to run the risk of being seen by a friend of his wife’s. Or, he might live or work in the area and the spot is convenient.”
“Or, he’s a murderer who’s noticed the victim walking through the park on a regular basis, saw it as an opportunity and cozied up to her.”
Ruddy took another swallow of his ale, mentally debating the merit of each theory. “I don’t think he lives in the area. If so, he’d have cut through the park more and been seen by the guards. Not sure about the married man having a tryst idea." 
To Ruddy's way of thinking, if the man was married and looking for a tumble, he’d have met her someplace other than the gardens and at a better hour. 
Instinct drew him back to his original sense of the culprit and crime. “I feel like this was a crime of opportunity. I’ve thought it all along and can’t shake the sense.” 
“If he was just seeking a victim, then why haven’t you had more murders like this?” Morris asked.
Ruddy downed the rest of his beer and put his tankard on the edge of the table where June would refill it. “Everyone has to start somewhere. She might be number one.”


Chris Karlsen

I was born and raised in Chicago. My father was a history professor and my mother was, and is, a voracious reader. 
I grew up with a love of history and books.