Book Review: Gabriel: Zero Point

Gabriel stared at the capsule, Knowles’s last two words resonating in his head. Zero point. Before he had a chance to ask the doctor what she meant, she continued. 

“Zero point doesn’t refer to the mythical energy source, or the grade point average of some of the grunts I’ve met. It’s a term referred to by the Pakistani philosopher Aban Gurmani about a decade ago in his book. He used the term to signify a rebirth, but not like being born again. More of a…” Her voice trailed off as she looked up at the ceiling. “A new beginning. A starting point. Nowhere to go but up. When I was involved in the planning stages of the augmentation program a few years ago, I was reading Gurmani’s book, and I thought it was an apt description of what we do.”

Steve Umstead. Gabriel: Zero Point (Kindle Locations 312-318).

 Everyone lives two lives. There is the life before and the life after. What happens between those two points varies from person to person, and we are not always aware of what that moment was, but it always happens. Continue reading “Book Review: Gabriel: Zero Point”

Book Review: Gabriel’s Revenge

Renay. He felt his teeth involuntarily clench at the thought of her in trouble. The last time they had spoken, she had told him to come back safe. He looked down at his left hand. His palm bore a burn mark from the Geltex that had killed Sennett on Eden. He hadn’t even noticed it during the assault, but over the past two days it had bothered him more and more. The memories of his lost men — of Sennett dying in the jungle, of Jimenez dying in the cowardly garage bombing — were bubbling up to the surface. He had tried to tamp them down as part of the mission, as losses for the greater good, but to no avail. 

Death haunted him from his earliest memories.

 Breaking Point, as defined by Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition., is (noun) 1. the point at which something or someone gives way under strain 2. the moment of crisis in a situation.

Commander Evan Gabriel has kept it together for longer than most people in his position could hope to. He has been a pawn in someone else’s game, yet he has always managed to overcome the odds. There had been losses and there were new scars, but Commander Gabriel came out on top. When the shadowy forces arrayed against him take the woman he loves then he is pushed beyond his breaking point. Nothing else matters but saving her and dispensing his revenge. Steve Umstead’s final book in the Evan Gabriel trilogy takes you through the Commander’s greatest fight, where the demons within are as dangerous as the enemies he must conquer. Continue reading “Book Review: Gabriel’s Revenge”

Book Review: Gabriel’s Return

He looked up at the door at the top of the stairs, still sealed. Hoping the worst was over, he leaned down to whisper to Magali. Just as he started to speak, he heard the soft beep from above. He looked towards the door and watched as it began to slide aside. His spirits rose for a bit; only the guard would have code access to the door, and it would be retina scan only in times of lockdown. The terrorists would have had to blow it open.

The door opened fully, and he saw the hazy outline of the corporal at the top of the stairs, framed by smoke. Jeromy started to rise, feeling a huge sense of relief wash over him, when the corporal tumbled down the stairs, crashing to the bottom in a tangled mess of riot gear and limbs. His lifeless face was turned towards Jeromy. It only had one eye; where the other eye should have been was a bloody socket. Realization dawned on him instantly and he pressed Magali’s head back down into the crook of his arm.

Another silhouette appeared at the top of the stairs, and a voice boomed out. “Hello Eden University students and faculty. I am Captain Chaud, your tour guide for the day. Please join me on a little field trip. A special guest has requested your presence.”

Action without purpose isn’t worth much in my mind. Sure, it’s flashy and interesting to watch or read about, but it’s a lot like eating candy; it tastes good, but it still leaves you needing more.  Steve Umstead does a great job in his latest book, Gabriel’s Return, paring action with purpose. In this follow up to Umstead’s Gabriel’s Redemption we watch Lieutenant Commander Evan Gabriel return to the site of his disgrace from five years earlier. Still haunted by nightmares of the world called Eden (which is anything but what its namesake implies) he must lead his squad of elite soldiers on a mission to rescue hostages from a group of terrorists more ruthless and more organized than anything the planet has seen before.

I enjoyed Gabriel’s Redemption when I read it earlier this year, so getting a chance to read and review Gabriel’s Return was  more than welcome. The novel  is written every bit as well as the first in the series and I found myself finishing it almost as soon as I started it. The book flows and draws the reader along, moving from event to a event with an ease that more authors, myself included, should strive to duplicate. The action scenes are quick and realistic, not overly filled with gore but conveying the violence that is inherent in combat. You root for the heroes and hate the villains, but the world is never so simple as black the white of most action movies.  Political intrigue and betrayal that spans star systems, clouds everything and keeps the reader guessing at what is going on right until the end of the book. Where the first book tied everything up in a nice little package by the end, this book leaves us hanging with a cliffhanger of substantial proportion and all I can say is, “Steve, buddy, get to work on the next book! I can’t take the suspense!”

Gabriel’s Return is available as an ebook for Kindle and Nook, and is also available on Goodreads or Smashwords. Buy a copy of the book. You won’t regret it.

Leave a comment below to be eligible to win a copy of Gabriel’s Redemption and Gabriel’s Return! (Only one entry per person, though you are more than welcome to comment more than once).

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My Green Eyed Monster and the Obsession It Has Created

This month has been a rough one writing wise.  I am behind my goal curve and though I have time to make up the difference I have a hard time imagining my doing so.  I think I’m a little burned out from the massive effort of last month, but i’m trying not to let that happen.  My two main projects have been a struggle for me as of late.  Last month the words came so easy, but now i look at the screen and i feel nothing.  I am thinking that I may try for another short story just to help break things up and get the creativity flowing again.  Perhaps I will spend some time this weekend looking for a publication that I will aim at getting published in. Continue reading “My Green Eyed Monster and the Obsession It Has Created”

Book Review: Gabriel’s Redemption

“Drop in five, four, three, two, one…DROP, DROP, DROP!”

Gabriel’s head was slammed back against the padded wall of the drop capsule, known to drop-troopers as coffins, as the Marcinko spat the team from the drop bay like bullets. Nine capsules shot towards the surface of Poliahu at over seven G’s.

After the initial shock, Gabriel relaxed his breathing and had his neuretics bring up the drop data in Mindseye. Nine green dots, falling towards the surface at over 18,000 miles per hour, all secure telemetry in order. He checked for an update of the LZ, and confirmed the team was on target and all probes showed the same quiet colony.

All but one probe, he thought. I only hope that was a glitch.

Gabriel’s Redemption gives the reader a glimpse at an all too possible future, where global tragedy has altered the physical and political landscape of the world, leaving the stars as a refuge for hope and a better life…as long as you can survive.

I loved this book and when I set it down I wanted more.  Now when I say I wanted more it is not because I was left unsatisfied with the story or the way it ended, I say it because I loved the characters, the story and the writing so much that I hated to see it end.  Steve Umstead has crafted a piece of science fiction that is reminiscent of the works of Ben Bova, Larry Niven and Isaac
, rich with description that feels natural, characters who seem real and technology that feels plausible and acceptable.

If you love a good story but the techno-babble of some science fiction steers you away from the genre, this is the book for you.  Umsteads sells you his vision of the future with well crafted writing as opposed to drowning you with scientific terms.  The end result is a believable future that is easy to relate to.

Gabriel’s Redemption is the story of Evan Gabriel, a disgraced member of the North American Federation Navy, who is given an opportunity to recover his former rank and to have the blame for the disaster he was blamed for removed from his records.  When the offer is made by a man he cannot stand and does not trust he has to wonder whether or not the risk is worth it, and when things start to go bad on the mission he has to figure out who he can trust and how he and his team will survive so that he can take advantage of the redemption he has been promised.


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