Monday, December 15, 2014

Comics Review - Original Sin (Mini-Series)

Comics Name - Original Sin (Mini-Series)
Published By - Marvel Comics
Genre - Super Hero/Crossover
Writer - Jason Aaron
Artist - Mike Deodato
Publication Date - April 2014 - August 2014
 
So this time Marvel decided to do a different kind of event; instead of a bundle of characters, an overarching plot and tons-of action they decided to do a mystery involving the murder of The Watcher and a group of superheroes trying to solve the mystery while also trying to deal with the consequences of the death. But sadly the story fell flat on its face with the mystery being not much of a mystery and with horrible pacing as of dragging a 4-5 issue series into 8-9 issues.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Short Story Review - Daemonology

Short Story - Daemonology
Writer - Chris Wright
Series - Horus Heresy
Published By - Black Library


To be honest I was a bit reluctant to pick this up, as I have not previously read any Horus Heresy novels (which I have been meaning to start from the beginning for quite awhile now). My knowledge of the event is very minimal, specially from various sources (mostly reviews) from the internet. But somehow I decided to read this short, and I am quite glad I did.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Short Story Review - Yarrick: The Gallows Saint

Short Story - Yarrick: The Gallows Saint
Writer - David Annandale
Series - Warhammer 40,000
Published By - Black Library


David Annandale yet again delivers a short but quite entertaining Yarrick story. This time he focuses a bit less time on action but makes up for it with strong grasp of his titular character and a little mystery to boot. 

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 fiancée, 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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Band Interview - Erang

I recently enjoyed the latest album by 'Erang' a lot (my review), so I approached the artist for an interview and was responded on the affirmative. Thanks to the artist for being so generous and answering my questions.

So, here goes my Q and A session -

1) So, What is 'Erang'? How would you describe 'Erang' to new listeners? 
Erang has many faces.
It is me, the musician, but it is also a character from my personal Legendarium and, finaly, it is a (long forgotten) place as well : the Kingdom of Erang.
2) You have talked about your inspirations on topics from LotR and old-school video games, but what are your musical inspirations behind 'Erang'?
I really try to follow my heart and my imagination when it comes to music. When I start to compose I never close any doors : if a sound or an instrument fits my mood and my universe, I'll use it. So it is a very personal process you know and my inspiration really comes from non-musical sources. Of course, I appreciate a lot of different music and there is plenty of band and composers that I appreciate. To name a few who share some similar musical universe with me I would say Summoning and early Mortiis... but it is definitely wider than that !

3) Please tell us a bit about your new album ''?
Well, it's named " Within The Land Of My Imagination I Am The Only God ". This name deals a bit with the idea of freedom and our own private freedom : in my Imagination, I'm free. I can escape to another realm... to come back stronger in the everyday reality.
Furthermore, after Tome I, II, III and IV, I've started to name my albums with names of songs from my previous albums : "Another World, Another Time", "Casting The Ancient Spell Again", "A New Chapter in a very old Book" (this is an e-book)... so, for the last one, I used the name of the last track from Tome IV... This is the end of a cycle. The FIRST AGE was with all the Tomes, and now I've finished the SECOND AGE.

4) What makes this album unique? What makes it different from you previous releases?
As one of my listener noticed : it is my first album that doesnt have 13 tracks.
This one gets 17 tracks and it was a pretty amount of work to put it all together. As usual, in my opinion, the overall sound of the album is a bit different from the last one but I guess there is still the " Erang sound " : the basics are here but the sound is... wider and very diverse I guess.

5) Will you please tell us some of your favorite releases from 2014?
That's difficult... 4 or 5 years ago I was always interested in new music... Now, I only listen to old stuff that I like or to unknow people on Youtube or bandcamp : that's a good thing with Internet, you got plenty of talented and devoted people all around the world. And because of that, now, when I listen to "official commercial artists" I always feel like they sound overproduced and too much "professionnal" to my hear. I mean, of course, there is still some good music in the industry but, most of the time, it is not enough spontaneous, naive and innocent to my taste...

6) Can you tell us a bit about your future projects?
I would like to release some kind of concept album. I already have ideas and I'm still working on the whole concept... I just need to let the inspiration coming back because I've just recently released my last album... but I feel really motivate about it, I think and hope it will be an important step in my musical world !

For more info check out the bands bandcamp page - http://erang.bandcamp.com
Erang Facebook Page - http://www.facebook.com/kingdomoferang
Erang Youtube Channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/songsoferang  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Some Books I Got Recently - May July/August ARC's Recap

I know I have been posting scarcely these days, but my life has been so hectic with an impending job that is gonna force me to relocate in a remote area where I might not even have internet access and also some personal issues. But life just goes on.....
This is a shorter list then the ones I did previously, because a matter of fact, I also haven't really tried to acquire new ARC's or other books that much as I already have a huge 'to-be-read' pile.
These are some books I just couldn't keep from requesting, once again thanks to all the publishers who provided me with their ARC's.


'Of Bone And Thunder' by Chris Evans
Apocalypse Now meets The Lord of the Rings in a bold new fantasy from the acclaimed author of the Iron Elves trilogy, filled with "heroic action that keeps fans coming back" (Publishers Weekly).
Channeling the turbulent period of the Vietnam War and its ruthless pitting of ideologies, cultures, generations, and races against each other, military historian and acclaimed fantasy writer Chris Evans takes a daring new approach to the traditional world of sword and sorcery by thrusting it into a maelstrom of racial animus, drug use, rebellion, and a growing war that seems at once unwinnable and with no end in sight. In this thrilling epic, right and wrong, country and honor, freedom and sacrifice are all put to the ultimate test in the heart of a dark, bloody, otherworldly jungle.
In this strange, new world deep among the shadows under a triple-canopy jungle and plagued by dangers real and imagined, soldiers strive to fulfill a mission they don’t understand and are ill-equipped to carry out. And high above them, the heavy rush of wings slashing through the humid air herald a coming wave of death and destruction, and just possibly, salvation.

[I have heard a lot about the 'Iron Elves' series over the years and meant to pick it up it several times, but never did. But this novel with its intriguing synopsis and gorgeous cover finally pushed me enough to try this author out, hopefully he won't disappoint.]
  
'The Time Roads' by Beth Bernovich
A fantastical nineteenth century alternate historical steampunk romp from Beth Bernobich, the critically acclaimed author of the River of Souls trilogy.
Éire is one of the most powerful empires in the world. The Anglian Dependencies are a dusty backwater filled with resentful colonial subjects, Europe is a disjointed mess, and many look to Éire for stability and peace. In a series of braided stories, Beth Bernobich has created a tale about the brilliant Éireann scientists who have already bent the laws of nature for Man's benefit. And who now are striving to conquer the nature of time.
The Golden Octopus: Áine Lasairíona Devereaux, the young Queen of Éire, balances Court politics while pursing the Crown's goals of furthering scientific discovery. When those discoveries lead to the death and madness of those she loves, Áine must choose between her heart and her duty to her kingdom.
A Flight of Numbers Fantastique Strange: Síomón Madóc is desperately trying to discover who is killing the brightest of Éire's mathematicians. The key to saving lives lies in the future...and Síomón must figure out a way to get there.
Ars Memoriae: Éireann spymaster Aidrean Ó Deághaidh goes to the kingdom of Montenegro to investigate rumors of great unrest. But Ó Deághaidh is tormented by visions of a different timeline and suspects that someone in his own government is playing a double game….
The Time Roads: Éire stands on the brink of the modern age, but old troubles still plague the kingdom. An encounter with a mysterious stranger near death holds the clue to both the past and the future of the nation.

[Steam-punk as a setting has never really interested me as much as some other sub-genres out there, but the setting of this one is a promising one it seems.] 

'Once Dead' by Richard Phillips
Jack Gregory, the CIA's top assassin, went rogue after a mission gone wrong. When a confrontation leaves him bleeding out on death's doorstep, he is faced with an offer from a dark figure named Anchanchu. If Jack is willing to act as a human host for Anchanchu, the entity will revive him and give him another shot at life. Jack takes the deal...but he must now face the consequences of having the same dark creature in his head as some of history's greatest villains. Struggling with desires and memories that are not his own, Jack is not the man he once was.
One year later, he is known internationally as The Ripper, assassin for hire, and is faced with having to wrest control of his dark compulsions while preventing a nuclear attack on the United States.
From the bestselling author of the Rho Agenda trilogy comes a globe-spanning thriller with a twist unlike anything you've ever seen....
 

[I was already pre-approved for 47North on netgalley and can't remember the last time I read a thriller/spy novel. This looked like a good one to try.] 

'Shattered Shields' by Jennifer Brozek
Swords and Shields. Faith and Magic.
Grab yours and get ready, for the enemy is on the move.
High fantasy and mighty conflicts go hand-in-hand. In great wars, armies rise to fight evil hordes and heroes struggle to push beyond their imperfections and save the day. These stories include more than just epic landscapes and characters…but also epic battles.
Imagine a doctor struggling to identify the spy who has infiltrated his company’s ranks and poisoned his colleagues or a boy suspected of murder by a king yet protected by a princess as he helps her father against his own people. Imagine a butcher discovering that he’s called to lead an uprising, or a First Born knowing that she must betray her own in order to save humanity.
The possibilities are endless, but at the heart they have this in common: soldiers—ordinary and otherwise–struggling against extraordinary odds to survive the day. They must withstand dark magic, dodge enemy blades, and defy the odds to survive SHATTERED SHIELDS.
 

[High fantasy plus military fantasy, and an anthology to boost, did I mention the authors (no I didn't actually, so go check them out)? Should I say more?]
 
'The Sword of Michael' by Marcus Wynne
Book One in a new hard-hitting contemporary fantasy saga.
Marius Winter doesn’t walk the road of the shaman-warrior alone. He has powerful allies in the Other Realms and in ordinary reality. His spirit guides are a Lakota war-chief and medicine man, First In Front; Tigre, a powerful feminine spirit who appears as a white tiger; and Burt, a spirit raven who channels an old Jewish bookie from the Bronx.
Now Marius is targeted by a powerful sorcerer. In the battle for the souls of his friends and lover, he must storm the gates of the underworld and fight through the Seven Demi-Demons of Hell to the deepest dungeons to confront Belial himself.
 
[I liked the cover, and this seems to be very action-packed, I couldn't resist requesting it actually]

 




'The Drop' by Dennis Lehane
The Drop follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski through a cover scheme of funelling cash to local gangsters -- 'money drops' -- in the underworld of Boston bars. Under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv, Bob finds himself at the centre of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighbourhood's past where friends, families and foes all work together to make a living -- no matter the cost.
A moving, gripping thriller, from Dennie Lehane, acclaimed New York Times bestselling autor of Shutter Island, Gone, Baby, Gone and Mystic River, The Drop will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

[Although I haven't read any books by Dennis Lehane, I have watched some of the movies based on them and liked them a lot, for once I would like to do the opposite as I got the chance.]
 



'Malice' by Keigo Higashino
Acclaimed bestselling novelist Kunihiko Hidaka is brutally murdered in his home on the night before he's planning to leave Japan and relocate to Vancouver. His body is found in his office, in a locked room, within his locked house, by his wife and his best friend, both of whom have rock solid alibis. Or so it seems.
Police Detective Kyochiro Kaga recognizes Hidaka's best friend from years ago when they were both teachers. Kaga went on to join the police force while Nonoguchi became a full-time writer, though with not nearly the success of his friend Hidaka. When Kaga suspects something is a little bit off with Nonoguchi's statement, he investigates further, ultimately executing a search warrant on Nonoguchi's apartment. There he finds evidence that shows that the two writers' relationship was very different than they claimed...
From the bestselling Japanese author of The Devotion of Suspect X comes Malice, the most acclaimed novel in Higashino's outstanding Detective Kaga series.
[Those who know me already know that I have a soft spot for Japanese literature. And moreover this promises to be a very interesting mystery, I just can't wait to jump into this.]    

Sunday, August 10, 2014

New Music Review - "Within The Land Of My Imagination I Am The Only God" by Erang

Album Name - Within The Land Of My Imagination I Am The Only God   
Band Name - Erang   
Genre - Dungeon Synth   
Label - Katabaz Records   
Release Date - June 25th, 2014

Its always fun to explore new genres, and Erang didn't disappoint with their brand of Dungeon Synth. The thoroughly atmospheric and nostalgic adventure into emotional realms and imaginary landscape was vastly enjoyable. The rich influences were apparent, as well as the artists love for them and his adoration for musical atmosphere. The whole experience felt like walking through a new world and getting amazed by its richness.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Author Interview - Rod Duncan

This time I interviewed 'Rod Duncan' on part of his blog tour celebrating the release of 'The Bullet Catcher's Daughter'. Thanks to 'Angry Robots' and the author for making time for this questions.

So, here it is -
1) Welcome to the blog and thanks for making time for talking to me. So, why don't you start by telling us what makes your new novel 'The Bullet Catcher's Daughter' unique?

The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter is about Elizabeth Barnabus who lives in what appears to be Victorian England.
Armed with an unusual set of skills (learned during her childhood in a travelling conjuring show) she ekes out a living as a private investigator.
But as the story progresses it becomes clear that the Nineteenth Century has long passed. Something has caused history to stall. How this has come about is a mystery that Elizabeth will gradually unravel.
People have been kind enough to say that these things make the book distinctive. It is certainly very different from anything I have written before.

2) So what genre/genres would you say this book belongs to?

It is an alternate history – which makes it speculative fiction. The Victorian aesthetic and anachronous technology have made some people call it steampunk. I’m certainly happy with that description.  

3) Tell us a bit about your protagonist 'Elizabeth Barnabus'?

Her father was a traveling conjurer. From him she learned that people can be easily fooled. Her great illusion combined male impersonation with the quick change. As she grew into adolescence, the corset and the binding cloth became tools, enabling her to choose which gender to project.
As an adult, she misses the freedom of the wandering life. So she uses her childhood skills to evade the rules that society would impose on her. 

4) What will make the readers root for her?

Life has dealt Elizabeth a really bad hand of cards. Her idyllic childhood was cut short by an aristocrat who wanted to possess her. Her family were bankrupted by corrupt officials. And she has had to flee into exile. Despite all this, she makes the best of things.  Perhaps that is the reason that readers warm to her.

5) Can you tell us a bit your influences behind writing this novel?

As influences, I would list stories that play with ideas of history. Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy and Robert Harris’s Fatherland, for example. Also, authors who have managed to create imagined societies. Although I was brought up on Tolkien, it was the stories of Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake that influenced me more. I love the way he describes a whole society from top to bottom – ruler, doctor, cook, teacher, servant, labourer and wet nurse.

But the specific inspiration for The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter was the Victorian buildings and streets of Leicester. This is the city where I live and where much of the story takes place. Where the road surface is damaged, you can sometimes glimpse old cobblestones below. It is easy to imagine the sound of wheel rims clattering over them. Another reality seems to exist just under the surface. 

6) So is this the start of a series or a stand-alone? What more can we expect from you in 2014?

This is the beginning of a series. I’m not going to say how many books it will run to. That would be a hostage to fortune. But the series title “The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire” gives an indication of the scale of the story.

The second in the series is called Unseemly Science. It will be published early next year.

7) Tell us a bit about some good books you read this year so far.

The last three books I read were:

Railsea by China Mieville. Quite steampunky, entirely original, very enjoyable.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. A masterclass in letting readers know more than the narrator. Very funny.

Polar Star. My regular re-reading of this crime classic by Martin Cruz Smith. Beautifully developed characters in a unique and evocative setting.

8) Can you divulge some info regarding you upcoming projects?

That is a hard one to answer because I don’t want to spoil the surprises ahead. But I can tell you that I have been writing about ice and death recently. They are ever present motifs in Unseemly Science. I can also say that as the series progresses, the title “The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire” will begin to loom large over the life of Elizabeth Barnabus.

About 'The Bullet Catcher's Daughter' -

Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life—as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus. But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…


Expected to be published on 26th August on US & ebook format and on 4th September 2014 on UK.

 




 
About Rod Duncan - 
Rod Duncan worked in scientific research and computing before settling in Leicester to be a writer. His first novel, Backlash, was short-listed for the John Creasey Memorial Award (now the CWA Debut Dagger).

After four crime novels he switched to fantasy, and is currently writing a series of alternate history books, called ‘The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire’.

Rod is also a screenwriter, and was once eaten alive in the feature film Zombie Undead.


Links - WebsiteTwitter

Sunday, August 3, 2014

New Book Review - Grand Cru Heist

Book - Grand Cru Heist
Writer - Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noel Blaen, Anne Trager (Translator)
Series -
Winemaker Detective #2 
Published By - Le French Book


First things first, I got this book from NetGalley, so thank you netgalley and Le French Book for this opportunity.
This is not your typical mystery novel. In fact the mystery is quite simplistic and easily deduced; but the real strength of this short novel is the characters and their passion for wines and other things. We get to delve more into the main characters introduced in the first book and how they cope with tragedies in their lives as part of the plot (I would recommend reading the first book in the series as to better understand this one). The writing is also much improved as the authors seem to have come to grip with these characters and their surroundings.

Friday, August 1, 2014

New Book Review + Giveaway - Kaleidoscope

Book - Kaleidoscope
Writer - Kevin Berry
Series - Stim #4 


So what if you are a person who is quite depended on your medication and suddenly some unforeseen disaster throws everything around you in chaos and makes you unable to take your medication? How do you cope with the aftereffects of such an episode? And how does it feel to be different from others and cope with it? 'Kaleidoscope' is the story of a girl facing these problems told quite nicely in her own perspective mixed with humor and emotional bits.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Excerpt + Giveaway - Caller 107

Its time for another excerpt and giveaway. This time from 'Caller 107' by Matthew Cox.

Excerpt -
Chapter 1
Jason ran a thumb over her bottom lip, no doubt removing a smudge of his black lipstick. “Relax, kid. No one’s home. We’ll be long gone before the cops even know what happened.”
Natalie met his gaze, calmed by the image of a gothic prince staring down at her. The look her mother would give her if she showed up with face paint and black lipstick would make just about anything worth it. All she had to do was find the nerve to actually do it. “Cops got me twice at the mall already, if this goes―”
“It won’t.” Jason winked. “Traci babysits for them, knows they’re out of town this week and right where they keep the shit. Dude’s got two pounds. Word is he’s the source for his whole damn brokerage.” Jason laughed. “And they got the money to get the good shit.”
Kevin stepped over and wadded her shirt into a fist, then lifted her on tiptoe. “Look, kid. This is big-girl time. You wanna go home to your mother, do it now before we get started.”
She punched him in the gut.
His lip curled into a grin. “Cute.”
Her boot scraped on glass as she shifted her weight.
“Any part of your leg comes within six inches of my junk, your face and that wall are gonna be good friends. We copacetic?”
Natalie glared. “Yeah… asshole.”
He let go; she stepped back and adjusted her shirt.
“Dude, what’s your problem?” Jason got between them.
Kevin shifted his eyes. “Just a bad feeling. She won’t put out, won’t touch any shit, got trashed on two drinks, and almost coughed herself puking when she tried weed.”
“What the hell is wrong with you? She’s no cop.” Jason laughed. “She’s a kid.”
Natalie stepped up on Kevin. “Why do you think criminals always get caught? Coz they get fuckin’ high and then do stupid shit.”
“Cut her a break, she’s thirteen.” Jason pulled her back.
“Traci knew her way around a dick pretty good at that age,” said Ernesto, the grin of a fond memory on his face.
Corey made a dismissive wave. “Yeah, but that bitch from Jersey, not uptown like this J―”
“Something’s fucked.” The tip of Kevin’s finger hovered at her nose. “She’s just usin’ us to piss off mommy and daddy. She don’t wannabe here, just wants to be seen here.”
A boy leaning on the other wall stepped into the light. “Etan said it was time to―”
“Alright, everyone just shut up.” Kevin spun with enough force to flare his leather trenchcoat. He pointed at her again, then the street. “Since you’re still a child, you get the easy job.”
Natalie bristled. Indignation did little to trap the butterflies in her gut.
“Your skinny ass is goin’ through the window and lettin’ us in.”
“It’s clear,” said Lucas, from the street.
The others moved around front, leaving her and Jason alone in the dark. I’m gonna throw up. She shivered, huddled against the wall as he attacked a street-level window. The taste of freezer-burned meatballs and cheese came back. Natalie cringed each time his boot hit the glass, every crunch felt like it hit her in the stomach. Jason scraped his foot across the bottom to chase away the last of the shards and covered the lower edge with sheets of cardboard from the dumpster.
“You’re up, kid.”


About The book -
When thirteen-year-old Natalie Rausch said she would die to meet DJ Crazy Todd, she did not mean to be literal.

Two years is a long time to be stuck between two people who want nothing more than to destroy each other. A tween crush on the larger-than-life jock from a local radio station is the only trace of a once-happy life ruined by warring parents.

Whenever WROK 107 ran a contest, she would dive for the phone, getting busy signals and dead air every time. She never expected to get through, but at least with her best friend at her side, it used to be fun.

Before her parents ruined that too.

Her last desperate attempt to get their attention, falling in with a dangerous group of older teens, goes as wrong as possible. With no one left to blame for her mess of a life but herself, karma comes full circle and gives her just a few hours to make up for two years worth of mistakes–or be forever lost.

Date of Publication:July 22nd, 2014
Cover Artist: Polina Sapershteyn (http://www.polinas-portfolio.com/)
Goodreads: Link

About Matthew Cox -
Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.

Social Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Caller 107 by Matthew S. Cox

Caller 107

by Matthew S. Cox

Giveaway ends August 21, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cover Reveal + Excerpt - The Undead: Playing for Keeps

A new cover arrives. Its reveal of the cover of 'The Undead: Playing for Keeps' by Elsie Elmore from Curiosity Quills Press.
 
When an undead woman with serious de-comp issues stalks sixteen-year-old Lyla Grimm, her hope of rescuing her rock-bottom reputation takes a back seat. Especially once Lyla’s new talent of resurrecting the dead draws the attention of Eric, a Grim Reaper with a guitar and a chip on his shoulder.

While Lyla navigates the gossip-ridden halls, Eric works to gain her trust and discover why Death’s clients aren’t staying down. If she passes on her gift, his death-messenger destiny might be altered. But the closer he gets to Lyla, the less sure he is of his plan. The dead are way easier to deal with than the living.

Gossip explodes, the Grimm family implodes, and desperation sets in. Death wants the gift and a soul. Lyla and Eric face hard choices with hidden consequences. Sometimes life’s choices aren’t really choices at all.

Genre: young-adult, paranormal
Date of Publication: September 3rd, 2014
Cover Artist: Alexandria Thompson(http://gothicfate.com/)
Goodreads: Link
 
Chapter One Excerpt -

CHAPTER ONE
Lyla

My stomach drops when I see the dead woman lying on the table. Convinced the dim light is playing tricks on my eyes, I reach over and flip the switch. The overhead fluorescents flicker on and light cascades down onto the body. Dread replaces the doubt. I move closer for a better look. She’s not peaceful like the others. This is bad, really bad. Mom will go ballistic when she sees this.
“Lyla, what are you doing back here?” Ben whispers and gives me a playful shove.
I flinch, almost coming out of my skin. Ben’s always been better at the scaring game we started a long time ago. While I both love and hate our game, I also suck at it.
I turn and squint at him. “Asshole. This room should be off limits.”
“Language,” he chides and clicks his tongue. After glancing at the body, he steps up beside me and snickers. “You’re in so much trouble,” he says, drawing out each word as if it were a paragraph.
“No, I’m not.”
“Where’s Kate?”
“She’s gone, I guess.”
Kate Huntington, the eccentric beautician with tacky green highlights is gone, and only her handiwork remains. Glittery blue eye shadow and sapphire eyeliner cover the dead woman’s lids. Black mascara coats her lashes so thickly that her eye sockets resemble piles of tangled spider legs. She looks like a showgirl, an old, dead showgirl. I don’t even want to acknowledge the dark foundation, the cherry red lipstick, or the words “I quit” scrawled in eyeliner across her forehead.
“Mom and Dad are going to freak when they find out she left this. Mrs. Weller’s visitation is tonight.”
“Wait.” Ben’s interest shifts and he takes a closer look at the still body. “This is Mrs. Weller?”
“Yeah.”
“Leave her. Nobody will come see her anyway.” His nose wrinkles at the lifeless form. “Everybody hated her.”
“You hated her. I don’t think everyone else did.”
“She was horrible.”
“You’re still holding a grudge? You were in seventh grade when she busted you for taking off during the Chamber of Commerce field trip. Let it go.”
I lean closer to Mrs. Weller’s face. She looks like a sweet old lady, if you ignore what Kate did, but Ben always hated her. Then again, Ben dislikes most of his teachers. They all want him to work harder to meet his potential. Ben has other plans for his potential.
“Whatever. You wouldn’t know. Your nose stays stuck so far up their—”
I elbow him in the ribs. “Grab me a wet washrag. I’ve got to fix this.”
“No. I’m not touching anything in here, her included.”
“I didn’t ask you to touch her. I just asked you to get a washrag. You scared?”
“Disgusted is more like it.”
I huff, walking over to the sink. The room reeks of disinfectant, but it’s better than the embalming room smell that clings to everything like cobwebs.
“Are you worried Dad will mistake your help for interest? You know, this place isn’t the enemy.”
“Easy for you to say. He’s not trying to steal your future.” He crosses his arms. Ben’s senior year has been a struggle about his future. He and Dad both want control.
Grimm Funeral Home is now run by the fifth generation of Grimms. Dad worked here part-time as a teenager and returned after college just as his father before him had and so on and so on.
“What are you doing here anyway?” he asks. “Mom and Dad will be pissed if they catch you back here.”
“I came to ask Mom about spending the night at Cassie’s.”
“But Mom’s not in here.”
“I know. But I couldn’t walk by the door without peeking. And this is what I found.”
The water from the faucet splashes around the big white ceramic basin. Every room down the back hallway has too much white: white walls, white counters, and white cabinets. Everything feels sterile, worse than a doctor’s office.
“You’re really going to touch her?” Ben asks, now standing farther away from the table.
“Yep. I am.” I haven’t thought about it enough to freak myself out, unlike Ben. “It’s just a body without a soul, like a table. No big deal. Well, except for the horrendous makeup.”
“I wouldn’t. Mom and Dad are going to rail on you if you screw this up, which you’re going to do.” He sweeps his dark hair off his forehead while he inches backwards. “You don’t wear makeup. How are you going to know how to put it on?”
“I’ll rely on my artistic ability.” I dab Mrs. Weller’s face with the warm rag. “Besides, I do wear makeup.”
“Lyla, stop.” He points at the table. “Aren’t you supposed to be licensed or vaccinated to do this? What if she was sick or something?”
Is that genuine concern in his voice? “I’ll be fine. Besides, it has to get done. Mom’s got too much going on today and Dad doesn’t know the first thing about makeup.”
“Touching her is a bad idea,” he snaps.


About Elsie Elmore -
Elsie Elmore lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

With a science education degree from NCSU, she never imagined she would someday write stories that challenge the laws of nature. She loves the color red, has an appreciation for chocolate and coffee that borders on obsession, and wishes fall temperatures would linger year round.

Elsie is a member of several writing organizations: RWA, SCBWI, and WSW.  The Undead : Playing for Keeps is her debut novel.



Social Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

New Novella Review - The Wurms of Blearmouth

Book - The Wurms of Blearmouth
Writer - Steven Erikson
Series - The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach #5 
Published By - Tor Books

First things first, I got this book from NetGalley, so thank you netgalley and Tor Books for this opportunity.
So what do you get when you mix an epic fantasy setting with dark humor? You get something like this novel, which can also be perceived as the authors attempt at poking some fun at the newly famous genre of grimdark. This short work is full of interesting characters and witty humorous dialogue accompanied by a crazy and violent sense of humor which will surely entertain anyone who can stomach the ensuing chaos.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Book Review - The Reckoning

Book - The Reckoning
Writer - Rennie Airth
Series - John Madden #4 
Published By - Penguin

First things first, I got this book as part of the penguin's 'first to read' program, so thank you Penguin for this opportunity.
The two world wars have always been very fertile ground for many kinds of fictions, but it has become generally difficult to achieve a level of originality and uniqueness in such a overused setting. 'Rennie Airth' really did a fine job of taking a quite different and enjoyable approach to using the setting. The series of John Madden novels are set in and around the two wars where the author combines historical fiction with mystery in a delightful way. Although this is the 4th novel I didn't read the previous three and it did not hamper my enjoyment one bit and that is another plus point for this genre bending journey.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Book Review - Fiefdom

Book - Fiefdom 
Writer - Dan Abnett & Nick Vincent
Published By - Abaddon/Rebellion

First things first, I got this book from NetGalley, so thank you netgalley and Abaddon/Rebellion for this opportunity.
It is really a nice feeling when you get much more than you expected from a novel. 'Fiefdom' has been such an enjoyable experience for me. I started to read this expecting mindless fun, but ended up having enjoyed witty humor with some delightful action sequences as well as a nice story with likable characters. The setting of post-apocalyptic Berlin with genetically engineered dog-soldiers fighting alien insects turned out to be much more fun in a very different way than I first thought it would be.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Short Story Review - Harbinger

Short Story - Harbinger
Writer - S P Cawkwell
Series - Warhammer   
Published By - Black Library

Well, I am relatively new reader of 'Warhammer' fiction and this is literally my first read from this author. It was definitely a bit different than what I expected as the narrator of the beginning is a old village healer which I did not expect at all. While the narrative was quite nicely and unique, the story did feel a bit too predictable by the end.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Author Interview - J.B. Skelter & Jack Reher

To start the month lets have double the fun with a double interview feature. Thanks to the two awesome guys, J.B. Skelter & Jack Reher. Also thanks to the wonderful people at Curiosity Quills Press for arranging the interview.

Here goes -
1) First of all welcome to the blog. Please start by telling us a bit about yourselves.

JR: Thanks for having us. I grew up in the great state of Minnesota before heading to Los Angeles for graduate school at the AFI Conservatory. Focusing on screenwriting for several years, with a feature film due out later this year - GRIZZLY - starring Billy Bob Thornton and James Marsden. It's been a long journey as a writer so far.

JBS: I was born in New York City but grew up in Colorado. I attended the University of Iowa but, I am ashamed to admit, barely touched their legendary Writers Workshop. I've done my best, over the years, to make up for that missed opportunity.

2) This is your debut novel as far as I can tell. So how does it feel to be published?

JR: Well, J.B. has a few novels under his belt. Highly acclaimed too. I was adapting one of his books for the screen and during the process, I slipped him a screenplay I had written entitled How Rex and the Count Save His Not-So-Ordinary-Town From a Werewolf on the Scariest Night of the Year... (yes, I was shooting for an outlandish film title) and I said to J.B. 'Hey, this is getting a lot of studio interest, but they think it's based on an intellectual property... any chance you want to help turn it into a series of books?"
And within a week or so, we had a publisher aboard (Curiosity Quills), contracts in place and we were off & running. CQ suggested a new title and I instantly fell in love with it. Catchy and fun. It's an awesome feeling to see something that started as an idea become flesh & blood. A physical property that others can hold and either love or hate.

JBS: Yeah, as Jack mentioned, I've written other books under my real name (which is a closely guarded secret). But in a lot of ways it was a debut novel for me because the genre and intended audience was completely new to me. Also, being able to collaborate with someone was new. As are most writers, I'm pretty independent, but working with Jack was a blast. He's a unique writer with so many fresh ideas. Frankly, I'm a bit jealous of abundance of creativity.

3) How much fun was working together on a collaboration may I ask? And how was it working with the people at 'Curiosity Quills'?

JR: It was a blast. As we were going through it, I even went back to the initial screenplay and added more content for the feature film that turned into added scenes within the novel. J.B. is like my long lost brother. A great collaborator.

JBS: Agreed. As I mentioned, this was the first time I'd done something like this. And I don't think I could have done it with two many people. Jack and I have a very similar vision. I feel very fortunate to have found that creative mate.

4) Got any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

JR: Never forget the ABC's. Always Be Creating. To the blank page. You're only as good as your next project.

JBS: Me, giving advice? A bad idea. But if you insist, I would say to write something that you'd want to read. If you spend too much time trying to figure out the latest trends and what's selling, you'll lose your own creative center.

5) So who would you recommend this book to, may I ask?

JR: Kids to early teens. This is a throwback to the old Amblin types of stories... like Gremlins, Creepshow, classic horror stories that relied on good old fashioned characters & scares versus sparkling vampires and lame love triangles. I liken REX'd to The Monster Squad and John Hughes' The Breakfast Club  crossed with the classic Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books.  Good, clean fun and scary. But not too scary like old Ray Bradbury novels.

JBS: My nine-year-old daughter is very, very excited to read. And I think she'll dig it. But I also think a fourteen or fifteen year old would enjoy it as well. The themes are familiar yet fresh. Come to think about it, there are plenty of adults who will get a guilty pleasure out of reading.

5) Tell us a bit about your protagonist Rex Gerard? What makes him likeable as a character in you guys' opinion?

JR: Rex is just like any kid growing up. A kid trying to fit in and find his way. But in Rex's case, he and his dad just lost their mom in an accident and they've relocated to a new town where he's sort of spinning in a daze, just doing his best to hold onto a memory yet push on. But the universe has bigger plans for Rex. He was supposed to arrive in this particular town. Scholomance plays a huge part in this. It's a reference to what Bram Stoker quoted in Dracula... where the vampires went to be educated.

JBS: I really fell in love with Rex as a protagonist. He's dealing with his own demons, with his own uncertainties. And while most of us won't face the same type of external challenges that Rex faces (at least, I hope not), he's a very relatable kid. It's hard not to see ourselves in him.

6) As far as the blurb suggests the story takes place on Halloween, So is the book set during only one day (that sounds promising, imo) ?

JR: Yes! I think a sense of urgency was important within the first book. It heightens the intense nature and amps up the stakes. Plus, who doesn't love Halloween? The day is important to Rex. It was his mom's favorite too. So, it's sort of a 'birthday' or awakening of sorts for Rex. He will never be the same after this day.

JBS: I loved the concept of the entire book taking place on a single day. But despite its immediacy, we get enough backstory to understand the motivations and fears and hopes of Rex.

7) Will you give the readers some info/hints about the monsters mentioned of the blurb?

JR: Hmmm...I'll spill the beans. It won't take away from the plot. There are references and Easter eggs to Ichabod Crane, Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, and even Reed from the classic Creature from the Black Lagoon makes an appearance. Scholomance is a haven for these creatures. We've set up an outstanding mythology.

JBS: And you'll never look at Dracula in the same way...

8) Will you guys tell us a bit about the things that inspired you to be a writer?

JR: I'd say the 80s influenced me a lot. I'm still in awe by the creative juices of content that were a part of that decade. From seeing Ghostbusters and Poltergeist to E.T. which came out this week, 32 years ago... June 11, 1982! I was 4 years old!!! I remember reading old Ruth Chew books like The Witch at the Window and then later Something Wicked This Way Comes  by Bradbury and being truly inspired. As I got older, I started reading Poe and watching really old Vincent Price films. That inspired me. I wanted to create like the masters did. Those stories were roller-coaster rides. Today's are sort of lacking in the thrills like that. I think the last truly great book series for kids were the Harry Potter books. My high school creative writing teacher, Bruce Wiebe really pushed me as a writer to keep the spark going. I have to give him mad props for that. So pay attention kids, listen to the teachers that push you to be better.

JBS: As a kid, I was obsessed with the Hardy Boys. Read every one of those novels. Loved the dramatic covers. Loved the ridiculous plots. So I started writing my own detective fiction when I was ten or eleven. As I got older, I discovered a writer by the name of Jim Thompson. He wrote some incredibly dark crime fiction. For a long time, I wrote fiction derivative of Thompson. It took me years to find my own voice. I think I've found it, although some may cover their ears.

9) So tell us a bit about the other projects you are working on, if you will?

JR: I'm adapting an incredible novel entitled FACTORY TOWN that hits bookstores in October as a feature film and just signed onto to adapt IDW Comics' THE SHUNNED ONE  as a film as well. It's all about the intellectual properties. That's what film studios want!

JBS:
I would tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

10) Tell us a bit about some of books you read and loved in 2014?

JR:
I just got through The Helios Conspiracy by Jim DeFelice who wrote American Sniper. I really dug it. I'm working on turning it into a tv series with the author. I have Stephen King's new one on my Nook, all set to delve into next...

JBS: It's funny, because Jack mentioned this book, but I recently re-read Something Wicked This Way Comes. I had forgotten how much I loved that book. Right now, I'm reading a book called The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien. Certainly one of the more surreal/strange books I've read. I need about fifteen or sixteen years to read all the books I want to.

About Rex'd: Welcome to Scholomance -
MONDAYS. Oh, the horror. Going back to school after a nice weekend. Homework. Tests. Gym class. It's even worse for Rex Gerard, the "new kid" at Scholomance High. Making friends, navigating the rough halls, avoiding trouble...

But on this particular Monday, it's also Halloween. Rex's favorite holiday. It was his mom's too before she passed away. And today, Rex will learn exactly how she died and what his purpose is in this life as he unlocks the hair-raising mysteries and lurking monsters of Scholomance.

But is he... is ANYONE... ready?

To be published on 18th August, 2014.




About J.B. Skelter -
J.B. Skelter is an author, high school teacher, and all-around good guy. He has written two other novels under an alternate identity, but his real name remains a closely guarded secret. Skelter lives in a ghost town somewhere in Colorado with his wife, two kids, and pet pig.

His Links - Facebook, Goodreads




About Jack Reher -
Jack Reher is a screenwriter that wrote the film Endangered starring Billy Bob Thornton & James Marsden. He recently adapted Jon Bassoff’s acclaimed novel Corrosion for the screen that Mike Macari (The Ring, The Ring Two) is producing. Currently, he’s adapting IDW Publishing’s upcoming comic book The Shunned One created by Alan Robert for the screen.
His Links - Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads






PS: I have finished reading the book, expect the review online closer to the release date.