Friday, November 14, 2014

Short Story Review - The Bone Cage

Short Story - The Bone Cage
Writer - Phil Kelly
Series - Warhammer : The End Times  
Published By - Black Library


The End Times are coming to the Warhammer Universe. And it seems to be a very promising time for reading the warhammer fictions in years. So I decided to start my reading of this event with this little short story which promises to be a kind of a prequel to the first novel. The story provided almost just what I presumed it would while not really adding anything to the setting actually but providing some introduction for some of the major characters.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Release Day Post, Excerpt & Giveaway - The Younger Gods

If you are a regular reader you know I loved 'Shield and Crocus' by Michael R. Underwood a lot. I am very glad to inform you guys that today another book is being released from him titled 'The Younger Gods', and I would like to celebrate this day with you guys by publishing an excerpt from the book and giving away 2 ebooks (provided by the publisher).

Excerpt -
CHAPTER
FIVE
Igbe, the red spirit, was like a wolfhound on a leash, straining constantly against Antoinette’s metaphysical lead. It concealed
its physical form, but I could still sense its whipping, darting motions with the wind, a mild scent of turned earth left in its wake.
The spirit led us through Brooklyn Heights, down Fulton, and then hurried along Flatbush.
“Do you know where we are heading?” I asked Antoinette as I hustled along, both of us nearly jogging to keep pace with the spirit.
“Looks like Prospect Park,” Antoinette said.
I tried to plot a line between Prospect Park and Central Park, running scenarios in my mind to deduce whether this was a ritual site or was in fact the home of the Brooklyn Heart.
Each city had a Heart, an embodied gem, usually fist- sized, that contained the essence of that city, the key to its metaphysical existence. Some cities had multiple Hearts, like London or Shanghai, all depending on their size.
New York had five, one for each borough. And Esther would need all of them to open the third circle.
And once that was open, she could take to the Deeps and wake the fetal god from its gestational slumber.
Moving through the park, I tried to look nonchalant, like the joggers I’d seen around Manhattan and Brooklyn. I paid no mind to the fact that I was not wearing the traditional jogger uniform of neon-colored skintight fabric and brightly-colored athletic shoes. New York was a city of oddities, and I hoped that oddity would conceal me as well.
Still, we drew a number of eyes on our way to the park. Fortunately, no pursuers.
“What would she want in the park?” I asked. “Is the Heart here?”
“No. It’s with friends. And they can handle themselves.” “Many have underestimated the Greenes and paid with
their lives. There is an account of a duel in 1832 between a Chicago magus and my great-great-aunt—”
“She’s bad news, I get that. But these friends are the most powerful circle of magicians in New York. They’ve got this,” Antoinette said, taking a turn as Igbe led us toward the park entrance.
When we reached the park, Igbe stopped to consider, turning end over end.
The crowds beside the park were sparse, as the spirit was not the only wind in the air. A chill wind sapped the warmth from my bones.
“Where now?” I asked, facing Antoinette, though the answer would come from her bound spirit.
Igbe stopped, a whorl of air settling on the concrete sidewalk. Then at once, the wet yellow-brown leaves set off in a rush toward the park, showing the creature’s path.
Less than five minutes into the park, Igbe started snarling and barking. It had stepped closer to our world, its red wispy form flowing as it moved. “She’s here! Faster! I’ll tear her throat out!”
Antoinette and I broke into a full run, chasing the spirit through the pathways that wound beneath the nearly barren trees.
Igbe turned a corner, and as I slowed to make the turn myself, lacking the agility of the incorporeal, I saw another spirit waiting atop a moss-covered rock the size of a small automotive.
This spirit was the mottled brown of mud, and it was large. I felt the air grow thick with energy.
I searched the horizon for my sister, hoping I might be able to bypass the incipient melee and pursue her directly. But beyond the mud-brown spirit, the path split in two. And without Igbe’s guidance, I would be hunting blind, casting the stones and hoping for luck.
With a roar that I heard with my soul more than my ears, the mud-brown spirit pounced on Igbe. The smaller spirit grew more concrete, a canine form slipping past the larger spirit’s grasp.
Antoinette stayed back, fishing through her jacket for something.
In the park, it could only be an earth spirit, a tree spirit, or one of the higher spirits of the park itself. My studies of New York led me to believe that Prospect Park was not as known for violence as Central Park, so it would not likely be a spirit of death. But New York was a city of many moods, many lives.
I sorted the factors and possibilities as I rummaged through the canvas bag Antoinette had provided me.
Deciding on a tactic, I brought out the topaz pendant, the opals in my left hand. Drawing from the opals, I channeled the power through my body and into the topaz, giving it shape and function.
Beside me, Antoinette chanted methodically in French, other words even more unfamiliar mixed into her Haitian creole.
The magic of the Greenes was older, more primordial compared to that of most practitioners. Through our connection to the Gatekeepers, masters of the center of the world, Esther touched the Deeps, the darkness between atoms, the power at the primal core of the earth. An apt comparison would be to say that where a magician might work with diesel to fuel their magic, our power source was closer to nuclear. Esther would outpower me every step of the way, but even a diesel engine can run a bulldozer.
Using the topaz as my focus, I shaped the power from the opals. I envisioned an arrow the size of my arm, thick and sturdy. Silver-and-white energy coalesced around the topaz, and I cast my hand toward the spirit.
The bolt shot out, biting dearly into the spirit at the shoulder. Its coloring faded a shade; the creature’s hold on physical reality weakened but was not severed.
The being roared, charging toward me.
Igbe leapt to my defense, tearing at the mud-brown spirit with its bloodred claws. It tore at the larger spirit like a pup atop a mastiff, and the larger creature shook Igbe off with a whirlwind of brown smoke.
The red streak hurled through the air, then split around a tree, fading.
The earth spirit redoubled its charge, and I could feel the
cold in my bones as I conjured a cross-hatching of spikes on the ground before me like a sprung trap. Barbs of shimmering light shot up from the ground, trapping the spirit like a butterfly, the shining spikes piercing it at every angle.
I stumbled back, the effort of two powerful workings taking the wind out of my lungs. Even with a power source, the energy still had to go through me, and it taxed the body. Not as much as drawing the Deeps directly, though.
In answer, the spirit roared again, pain echoing in its voice distantly, as its hold on the material world dwindled.
The spirit tore forward, brown wisps flowing out from its form and fading into nothingness as the spirit reaved itself, pressing onward with an intensity I hadn’t seen from a terrestrial spirit.
What had Esther done to inspire such devotion, such ferocity from a spirit she couldn’t have known for more than a scant moment?
Drawing upon the opals, I shaped another bolt of will, which ripped through the air like lightning, shearing a cubic yard from the creature. It kept coming, even  more  faded. The crushing of branches and crackling of leaves beneath its amorphous feet told me it was solid enough to tear my throat out.
These workings could best the creature with time, but already two of the five opals in my left hand were dark, their reserves depleted. And when they were empty, it was on to blood, or my own life force to power the workings.
Igbe’s red flowed back into the scene, harrying at the back of the creature, its form half-visible through the fading brown of the earth spirit. The mud-brown mist lashed out with a limb and knocked Igbe back again, then pulled itself free of
my spike trap and shuffled forward, gaining its footing again.
I tried to evade the creature, shuffling away and unleashing another bolt of power. The creature pushed forward through the blast and knocked the topaz from my hand. My arm tore at the shoulder from the force of the blow, as if it were trying to wrench my arm out of its socket. I doubled over, pulling my arm in and trying to quiet the tearing pain.
My death reached out for me, a rough sketch of a figure that would be more than real enough to tear my body to ribbons. The spirit leapt forward and brown streaks filled my vision.
Antoinette’s chanting reached a crescendo, and as the spirit loomed over me, it was crushed beneath a thick tree branch.
From the branch leapt another wispy form, this one the green of verdant moss. It was small, barely larger than Igbe. But instead of lashing out to strike the earth spirit, it stretched out and spun strands of light over the thick brown form, caging it in. Antoinette chanted faster now, her voice clear and strong.
The brown spirit fought against the bright netting, tearing strands that cracked like burst tree limbs in a freezing Dakota winter.
I scrambled back, my lungs paralyzed. I passed Antoinette, her eyes strained shut as she chanted. I sat back and watched the green tree spirit lock the brown form down, then saw the two of them seep back into the ground.
And at once, the forest was silent, a felled limb splayed across the pathway the only physical remainder of the melee.
Igbe limped back toward Antoinette, reduced to a half- dozen nearly-translucent strands of red.
“I’m sorry, sister-daughter,” Igbe said, its voice soft as a whisper.
Antoinette opened her eyes, a tired smile birthed on her
face. She reached out to the spirit, touching the top of the tallest strand. “You did great, Igbe. Go home and rest. You’ve done me a great honor.”
The threads folded in on themselves then fluttered up into the air, carried away on the wind.
“Well done,” I said, breath coming out in crystalizing clouds, the cold seeping back in as the excitement of combat faded.
Antoinette turned to me, her shoulders slumping as if they’d dropped a great weight. “Hope my momma’s looking down on me now. I never thought I’d have to conjure a spirit that fast. Or to save someone’s life.”
“But you did both, and I am in your debt. My family has caused you a great deal of harm, through Esther’s malign efforts and my unintentional ones. Know that I will do what I can to settle that debt.”
The Greenes were not raised to carry debts. We did not owe, we were owed. The Gatekeepers owed us their attention, their power, and through bargains, we were owed by the Bold to a lesser extent. And their nieces and nephews, the Younger Gods, owed us our inheritance.
To be  the  debtor put  me  in  an entirely  unacceptable position. But while Esther was loose and working to destroy the Eastern seaboard, there were more pressing matters. I would discharge the debt as rapidly as possible, in good faith.
Antoinette looked around, pulling down a branch of the felled tree to search the path. “You can start by telling me you know where your sister’s going. Igbe would have tried to keep following her, but he had about as much fight left in him as a tranquilized kitten.”
I shook my head. “She’ll be gone by now. She learned to walk soft so she could stay up late with rituals and divinations
and come back to bed without waking myself or our younger siblings. A lesson she passed on to me, thankfully.”
“So what now?” Antoinette asked.
“Would another of your guardian spirits be able to take up the trail?” I asked.
“Igbe’s the only one who can track, and he’ll need a day or two to recover.”
“We cannot leave her that much time to collect the artifacts unimpeded. The working I would use to track Esther has little chance of succeeding.”
“Why?” Antoinette asked.
“She taught me how to do it. And then she taught me how to beat it. I’d thought that it would keep me safe here, so far from home. But unless she chose this site, this god at random, I fear I was wrong about that as well. Not all of the Gatekeepers serve our family. If she’s opening a path to the Deeps here, it is for a reason.”
Could it be that the same reason drew me here? Some subconscious call that lured me to the city? If I’d chosen anywhere else in the country, would this be happening? Or would Esther move unopposed, the guardians of the Hearts caught unawares?
“Let’s at least try to find her,” Antoinette said, throwing one leg over the fallen tree, then the other.
I followed her, but grudgingly. “We’ll merely be ambushed again. And I don’t have the resources for many more such displays of power.” I held out the opals. Even struck to the ground, I’d kept my grip.
One of the family lessons I was glad had stuck.
“Your tools are your life. A Greene is nothing without their tools. To handle power without focus is to eat steak with your bare
hands.” We didn’t even eat hearts with our bare hands. Three forks, two knives, and three spoons for high dinner.
The lessons flowed like a raging river, constant dictates and rules. But they were all tangled up with cruelty and monstrous views of the world I’d only begun to disentangle from the rest of their wisdom.
We continued down the path. Antoinette lowered her voice and stepped cautiously. I doubted it would do much good, but it was a harmless precaution, one I matched as best I could.

About 'The Younger Gods' -
The first in a new series from the author of Geekomancy (pop culture urban fantasy) and Shield and Crocus (New Weird superhero fantasy).

Jacob Greene was a sweet boy raised by a loving, tight-knit family…of cultists. He always obeyed, and was so trusted by them that he was the one they sent out on their monthly supply run (food, medicine, pig fetuses, etc.).

Finding himself betrayed by them, he flees the family’s sequestered compound and enters the true unknown: college in New York City. It’s a very foreign place, the normal world and St. Mark’s University. But Jacob’s looking for a purpose in life, a way to understand people, and a future that breaks from his less-than-perfect past. However, when his estranged sister arrives in town to kick off the apocalypse, Jacob realizes that if he doesn’t gather allies and stop the family’s prophecy of destruction from coming true, nobody else will…



Buy link details for title: http://books.simonandschuster.biz/Younger-Gods/Michael-R-Underwood/9781476757797

About the author -
Michael R. Underwood is the author of Geekomancy, Celebromancy, Attack the Geek, Shield and Crocus, and The Younger Gods. By day, he’s the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books. Mike grew up devouring stories in all forms, from comics to video games, tabletop RPGs, movies, and books. He has a BA in Creative Mythology and East Asian Studies, and an MA in Folklore Studies. Mike has been a bookseller, a barista, a game store cashwrap monkey, and an independent publishers’ representative. Mike lives in Baltimore with his fiancĂ©e, an ever-growing library, and a super-team of dinosaur figurines and stuffed animals. He is also a co-host on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show. In his rapidly vanishing free time, Mike studies historical martial arts and makes homemade pizza. He blogs at MichaelRUnderwood.com/blog and Tweets @MikeRUnderwood.   

And The Giveaway -
- the form below must be filled out
- the giveaway is for 1 digital/ebook copy of 'The Younger Gods'
- open to all residents of US only
- must be entered on or before 10/31/14
- book is provided by the wonderful people at Simon & Schuster
- "Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice"



a Rafflecopter giveaway
PS: Please do check out my review of 'Shield and Crocus' and my interview of the author

New Book Review - We Are All Completely Fine

Book - We Are All Completely Fine
Writer - Daryl Gregory
 
Published By - Tachyon Publications


First things first, I got this book from NetGalley, so thank you netgalley and Tachyon Publications for this opportunity.
So What happens to the people who encounter supernatural elements and suffer a personal tragedy due to it  after the said event? What if there was a psychologist who tried to create a therapy group consisting of these people? Aren't a new tragedy bound to happen? Daryl Gregory does a fine job of telling the story of such a group of people. The result is quite enjoyable with an interesting story that keeps you wondering throughout; a cast of unique and somewhat creepy characters; and a bit of a new kind of approach to tell the story to spice up the encounters. I will try not to spoil anything from the story cause I think this book is much better when going into it on a blindfold.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

New Novella Review - Thorgrim

Book - Thorgrim  
Writer - David Guymer  
Series - Warhammer  
Published By - Black Library

As the name suggests this is not the tale of Thorgrim Grudgebearer, but the tale of King Beleger and his queen Emma and their struggles to defend their homeland from the various forces threatening it. This may be the first time when a female dwarf takes the place of one of the main characters and despite the lack of action compared to other black library titles these unique characters are what makes this book interesting.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Short Story Review - Aun'shi

Short Story - Aun'shi
Writer - Braden Campbell
Series - Warhammer 40,000   
Published By - Black Library

I have never read of the Tau before this, but based on my knowledge of Warhammer 40k universe I was quite certain I am gonna like this race. And the Tau were as interesting to read about as I thought they would be, more so made enjoyable trough this tale of one warrior in his struggle for survival imprisoned in a hostile environment.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Author Interview - Daryl Gregory

Wow, back after sooooo long. Sorry guys, but due to my new remote job placement and financial difficulties I was unable to publish on my blog for the past 1 and a half months, now I am back and hopefully will continue posting regularly again.

Lets start with some post due to be published. First an interview from the author 'Daryl Gregory' (which was to be published about 2 months ago), Thanks to the author for making time for these questions.

Here are my questions and Daryl's answers -
  
1) First of all welcome to the blog and start by telling us a bit about yourself.

Thanks for having me. I live in State College, PA, a nice little town with a big ol' university on it. I've been writing SF and fantasy for a long time -- my first story was published in F&SF back in 1990 -- but I took a ten-year break from publishing when my kids were small, I was working full time, and my wife was getting tenure.
Around 2001 I started writing short stories again (most of which are in my collection, Unpossible and Other Stories) and writing novels. My first novel came out in 2008, and my most recent one, Afterparty, appeared earlier this year from Tor Books. Along the way I've dabbled in comics. I wrote the Planet of the Apes series for a few years, and did a couple other comics projects, but mostly I'm a prose writer, whose kids are now disturbingly grown. Our youngest is about to head to college, which makes my wife and I empty-nesters. This will either mean good or terrible things for my productivity.

2) Will you please tell us some information about your new novel 'We Are All Completely Fine' that is not on the book blurb?

I don't think any of the cover copy gives away the news that the book is a kind of sampler of horror tropes, mostly from movies, across the decades. The people in this book who form the therapy group last girls/ last boys, similar to the lone survivors in flicks like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Hell Raiser, and Ringu. I also threw in a survivor of Lovecraftian horror, because who can write a post-horror horror novel without referencing Lovecraft?
    
3) Where did you come up with the idea of writing a book about a support group?

I'm married to a psychologist who has run small groups, and also teaches small group therapy. She turned me on to the work of Irvin Yalom, the man who literally wrote the book on group psychotherapy, and is a fine novelist in his own right.

4) So what makes the characters of these book unique and interesting?

I tried to make them unique, but it's up to the reader to decide if they're interesting. What I was interested in is what happens to people like these long after the horror flick or novel is over. They have a "peak experience," if you can use that term for the most extreme thing that has ever happened to them. How does that color the rest of your life? How do you go on with a "normal" life once you know there are real monsters in the world?  And if there's one thing we've learned from horror stories, is that they're never over. The monster can always return.

5) Tell us a bit about the research you did for writing this book?

As I mentioned, it helps to be married to an expert. My wife, Dr. Kathleen Bieschke, gave me plenty of research materials, including the video tapes used to train therapists. As for the knowledge of horror tropes... well, I've been training my entire life on those!

6) Read any good book lately? Do share with us some of your favorite books from this year?

I just read Countdown City by Ben Winters, the sequel to his book The Last Policeman. It's really well done. And I'm in the middle of reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which is simply beautiful. 
    
7) Can you divulge a bit more information about your upcoming projects?

My next book is a YA horror novel called Harrison Squared that will come out from Tor in early 2015. And currently I'm writing a new adult SF novel. I'm just trying keep busy as the nest empties around me.

About 'We Are Completely Fine' -
Harrison is the Monster Detective, a storybook hero. Now he’s in his mid-thirties and spends most of his time not sleeping.
 

Stan became a minor celebrity after being partially eaten by cannibals. Barbara is haunted by the messages carved upon her bones. Greta may or may not be a mass-murdering arsonist. And for some reason, Martin never takes off his sunglasses.
 

Unsurprisingly, no one believes their horrific tales until they are sought out by psychotherapist Dr. Jan Sayer. What happens when these likely-insane outcasts join a support group? Together they must discover which monsters they face are within and which are lurking in plain sight.






About Daryl Gregory -
Award-winning author of Pandemonium, The Devil's Alphabet, and Raising Stony Mayhall.
 

He is also the writer of comics such as Dracula: The Company of Monsters and Planet of the Apes, both from BOOM! Studios.
His first collection of short stories is Unpossible and Other Stories, by Fairwood Press (October, 2011).
 

Daryl lives in State College, Pennsylvania.  

His Links - Website, Twitter, Goodreads








PS: I have read and enjoyed the book a few months ago, but didn't publish a review yet due to my hectic life situation, please expect a full review in a few days.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Book Review - Peacemaker

Book - Peacemaker
Writer - K.A. Stewart
Series -
Arcane West #1 
Published By - Penguin Group

 
First things first, I got this book from NetGalley, so thank you netgalley and Penguin Group for this opportunity.
This is a prime example of fun and simplistic fantasy done with a well tested setting; mixing up fantasy with the generic tropes of good and bad guys and natives of western setting was a good read. Quite nice were the world building and magic system which really used some inventiveness. Specially interesting is the fact that it really left a nice ground for improvement for future ventures into this world.