Saturday, May 31, 2014

Graphic Novel Review - Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight Volume 1

Name - Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight Volume 1
Published by - Dark Horse Books
Story by - Alex de Campi
Art by - Chris Peterson, Simon Fraser, Nolan Woodard, Dan Panosian, Francesco Francavilla

First things first, I got this book from NetGalley, so thank you netgalley, Diamond Book Distributors and Dark Horse Books for this opportunity.
This graphic novel is a pretty solid dose of old-school pulp comics with over the top violence, partially/completely nude females & cheesy one liners. While the stories themselves does not have that much to offer in terms of originality there is no shortage of style packed in this relatively short graphic novel.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

"The Artful" Blog Tour - Excerpt + Trailer + Giveaway

Once again time for another excerpt, this time from 'The Artful' by Wilbert Stanton with a bonus trailer and a giveaway.

Excerpt -

Cigar turned his head to the side until his neck cracked, then again to the other side. He reached for one of his guns. I knew my face went pale, my hands began to shake, and the prospect of throwing myself through the glass window seemed more and more inviting. He put the gun on the counter with a noticeable thud, taking care to aim the muzzle at Dodger.
“Now, now, Fred, we’re all friends here.”
“Name’s not Fred, and you’re no friend of mine.”
“And here I invite you into my place of business and offer you my liquor, thinking we shared the bond that comes with supply and demand―”
“I’m beginning to wonder how you came to own this place. Last I been here, the bartender was a lot older.”
Dodger slammed a cup down on the counter. Prying the whiskey bottle from my frozen fingers, he poured a drink and chugged it down. “Maybe you don’t want to find out.”
This made Cigar laugh, a slow chuckle. “You got a set on you, huh? Now why don’t you tell me where this vault is, and pray to God that there’s more value in it than in turning over a couple of Gutter Punks!”
The game was over. He knew who we were. Frankly, it wasn’t surprising. Dodger and I had made quite the reputation for ourselves, but this, this wasn’t in our favor. And the threat was on the table in the form of a shiny gun.
Dodger held up his hands in mock surprise. “Ahh, you made us. Fine, maybe we can help each other. I tell you where to find the vault, and you walk away?”
“I’ll decide on that when I see fit.”
Dodger looked at me and winked. I knew the look. It meant I had to stay on my toes. After taking a swig of the whiskey, he went through his pockets and produced the lighter I stole at the Empire. I sat on the tip of my stool as he held it out to Cigar, who smiled in turn.
“Smart boy,” he said, holding out his cigar in Dodger’s direction. Dodger opened the lid and flicked the wheel, causing the flame to spark. As soon as Cigar leaned in close enough to light his cigar, Dodger spit the whiskey at him, and the lighter’s flame in-between ignited the flammable liquid, shooting a hail of fire into Cigar’s face.
He yelled, clawing at the flames. His beard caught on fire; the smell of burning hair was instant. I used the distraction to my advantage and jumped for the gun before his wild hands could find it, training the muzzle on him before he could regain composure. Dodger and I tensed as he got up, brushing the last of his scorched beard from his face.
    “You boys really made a mistake. What you fixing to do, huh? Shoot me? Look at you, ain’t no man in you! Shaking like a leaf. What makes you think I think you have the balls to shoot me? You got the fear of God in your eyes, but you know what, boy? I ain’t God… I’m the Devil.”

About the book -
New York City, 2025: Everything is changed. The city that never sleeps is now a land of death and decay. A rampant virus has taken over and the survivors have become carriers, quarantined from the rest of the world.

Twist and Dodger grew up in the streets, the sewers and underground tunnels – their playground. They aren’t heroes. They just like attention; and stealing meds from the rich and giving them to the poor is their golden ticket.

On their latest raid, they unknowingly steal a cure that puts them square between the ailing Emperor of Manhattan and the war hungry Governor of Brooklyn and forces them on a quest into the darkest shadows of their putrefying world.

Published on May 27, 2014. 
The Artful Purchase links - 
Amazon US: Link
Amazon UK: Link
Barnes & Nobel: Link 

About Wilbert Stanton - 

Wilbert Stanton was born and raised in New York City. From an early age, Wilbert decided he would either write books or take over the world; everything else was just a precursor to his end game. Along the way, he has studied Psychology, English, and Computer Science. He's held jobs in a wide range of fields and met people from all walks of life. Wilbert is constantly learning and growing as a person, in order to solidify his dreams. In the end world domination was a bit tedious, so he decided to focus on writing books.
Social Links:
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Here is a nice youtube trailer of the book for you guys -

And also the Author and Publishers provided for us a signed paperback plus a $20 Amazon giftcard giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Guest Post - Craig Cormick

What is so fantastic about Romeo and Juliet?
By Craig Cormick

So I’ve been asked to write about the Romeo and Juliet-type characters in my new book the Shadow Master. First, a quick description of the book: it’s a kick-arse tale of alternative history, love and conflict, madness and magic. Shakespeare would have liked to describe Romeo and Juliet something like that, I’m sure.
Anyway – there are two warring houses in my book – the Medicis and the Lorraines – and a young woman from the Lorraine household, Lucia, is in love with a young man from the Medici household, Lorenzo – and much of the book describes the efforts of the two to reach each other, dodging the mad monks, assassins, kidnappers and plague.
Sounds a bit derivative of Romeo and Juliet, doesn’t it (well, sort of). But in fact I’ve ‘scaffolded’ the story on an 18th Century Italian novel the Betrothed (Il Promessi Sposi), written by Alessandro Manzoni in 1827.
Say what? Well, it’s actually described as one of the most famous novels in Italian, and the first dealing with Italian history, and was itself inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.  It is set in 1628 and tells of the plague years and the politics and church of the time – and has two young lovers (the aforementioned Lorenzo and Lucia).
But the point is that the Romeo and Juliet theme has been around a looooong time and Shakespeare even lifted it himself from other sources.
Now I just happen to be researching Romeo and Juliet proto-tales at the moment, for the sequel to the Shadow Master – the Floating City – which is set in a Venice-like city and uses the proto-tales of Othello, Romeo and Juliet and the Merchant of Venice within it. These are the original Italian stories that Shakespeare adapted into his plays.
The earliest supposed Romeo and Juliet story is the tale of ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, written about the year 0. Dante’s Inferno, written in the 14th Century, refers to the families Montecchi and Cappelletti, that were later used in other versions of the story. In the 15th Century the story was ‘Mariotto and Gianozza’. By the early 16th Century it had become Giulietta e Romeo. It was later translated into French in 1559 and then into English by Arthur Brook in 1562 as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet.
Still with us?

In 1567 William Painter released a collection of Italian tales, the Palace of Pleasure, that included ’The goodly History of the true and constant love of Romeo and Juliett’.
And then comes Shakespeare’s version of the story.
So whether you’re a follower of the theory that there are only a small limited number of plots in the world or not, or a follower of Jung’s theories of the universality of folk tales, it’s pretty apparent that the Romeo and Juliet story appeals to something in us that leads to it being told and retold and retold. Modern variations on Romeo and Juliet include West Side Story, Gnomeo and Juliet and the zombie romance Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion (2011).
And I think that’s very interesting, given our general desire for ‘they all lived happily ever after’ endings – to find a double tragedy ending so appealing (Cue rap beat as Bill the Bard comes onto the stage and says, “Never was a tale of more woe chk-chka-chk-chka – than Romeo and his foxy ho!” [ed note: early draft – later revised to “Juliet and her Romeo”])
So, how does a writer take a well-known theme, or meme, and present it in a way that achieves the balance of being familiar yet new? I mean, if you tip too much one way you’re being unoriginal and derivative, and if you tip too much the other way you’re taking the reader too far off the familiar path and they start feeling a little lost.
I believe I’ve found a nice balance in the Shadow Master, and its sequel – and I’d tell you all about it in detail except I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise for all you readers out there (ed note: not that lame-arse excuse!!).  So let’ s just say, “Never was a tale of more woe, chk-chka-chk-chka – than Lucia and her Lorenzo!”

About the Author -

Craig Cormick in an Australian science communicator and author. He was born in Wollongong in 1961, and is known for his creative writing and social research into public attitudes towards new technologies. He has lived mainly in Canberra, but has also in Iceland (1980–81) and Finland (1984–85). He has published 15 books of fiction and non-fiction, and numerous articles in refereed journals. He has been active in the Canberra writing community, teaching and editing, was Chair of the ACT Writers Centre from 2003 to 2008 and in 2006 was Writer in Residence at the University of Science in Penang, Malaysia.
Cormick's creative writing has appeared in most of Australia's literary journals including Southerly, Westerly, Island, Meanjin, The Phoenix Review, Overland, Scarp, 4W, Redoubt, Block, as well as in overseas publications including Silverfish New Writing (Malaysia) and Foreign Literature No 6 (China). He has previously been an editor of the radical arts magazine Blast, and his writing awards include the ACT Book of the Year Award in 1999 and the Queensland Premier's Literary Award in 2006. As a science communicator he has represented the Australian Government at many international science forums including APEC and OECD conferences, presenting on issues relating to public concerns about new technologies.
His site -
His twitter -
About 'The Shadow Master' - 
In a land riven with plague, inside the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control: the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation.
And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring – plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack...
Assassination; ancient, impossible machines; torture and infamy – just another typical day in paradise.

Will be released on 24th June, 2014 in North America & EBook.
And on 3rd July, 2014 in UK.

Book link on 'Angry Robots' -

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Guest Post - James A. Moore

World Building and Warfare
James A. Moore 
So I recently finished writing an article on world building, and that works well for me here, because I’m still in that mind set. It’s a different sort of thing, really. I’m used to writing horror more than I am fantasy and that gives me a handy shortcut to take, because horror is usually set in the modern day and in the world we currently live in. There are exceptions, of course, but not really all that many. Even if I decide to set a story in the era of the Western Expansion in the United States, it’s still this world and only a little research is required to work out the details of how different the world is now from what it was then. To be sure, there are some very radical differences, but ultimately the work has already been done.
That’s not the case when you’re creating a completely new world. Just as basic information, I have to consider the history of that world, the cultures that have evolved in that world, the people of that world and the geo-political boundaries of that world.
Let’s break that down a bit more, if you don’t mind. I promise I’ll keep it brief.
The History of the World:
In the world of the Seven Forges, the history is significant and a great deal of it has been lost in time. SEVEN FORGES deals very heavily with the fact that the largest empire on the planet—very possibly the only empire on the planet—is vast and old. How old? Over one thousand years. Any way you look at it, that covers a lot of time. In the case of the Fellein Empire, they’ve had a peaceful run of things for most of four hundred years. They have their traditions and they have certainly kept up with running the Imperial Army and protecting their borders, but they haven’t really had anything to protect themselves from. The empire eliminated all of their biggest threats a long time ago.
Except, of course, that history is always there. Somewhere past the Blasted Lands, an area devastated during the very early formative years of the empire, there is a land filled with people who’ve spent the last thousand years honing their martial skills and working to become the absolute pinnacle of human perfection. They’ve lived hard lives, brutal and violent lives and they’ve studied every form of combat they could think of, all with the notion of serving their gods. They are fanatical in their devotion and they are physically superior to the average member of the Fellein Empire because of the lives they are forced to live.
The two groups have a shared history and you want to know the most important part of that history? They each remember it very differently. Therein lies a significant part of the story. 
It’s not something I really had to think about in the past. A little research, a few pages from history books and a news article or two and I had all I needed to know about most cultures. The difference, again, is that I made a new world. The only cultures here are the once I create.
The Seven Forges has seven different countries wrapped into their own religious doctrines and run as separate entities, crammed into a relatively small area. For one thousand years they have struggled between each other, occasionally formed alliances, often faced the same threats at the same times and dealt with crime and punishment in their own ways.
They have followed seven different gods that have decidedly changed the ways in which those kingdoms deal with each other. They have never been properly united as an empire. Instead they have dealt with each other as enemies and on many occasions as necessary evils. And all that time, they’ve been consciously aware of the fact that they were, as a people, studying the art of war and becoming, as individuals, the best possible warriors.
They have several different languages and they have their own unique ways of dealing with their pantheon of gods, with the hostile environment right outside of their valley and the belief that somewhere, out beyond the desolation of the Blasted Lands, there are other people who will eventually come to the and change their world completely.
The Fellein Empire is built of several different kingdoms. It’s a loose conglomeration of nations that deal with each other amiably because there are no real threats and because they have known prosperity for a long time. They share a political government and each kingdom or region has its own geography, culture and traditions in addition to the traditions of the Empire.
Beyond that Empire there are several other kingdoms that are, mostly, unseen by the people of Fellein. They are simply too far distant to have much of an impact on their lives.
That will change, of course, but the point is that I have to develop those different cultures.
I can look to the history of our world for a part of that, of course, but not for all of it. There have to be differences or I’m just cheating and copying what already exists. That would be far less interesting and, frankly, far less fun.
I have to follow a certain logic with all that I do, and to an extent human nature helps with what happens, but before I can create those new countries I have to understand the aforementioned history of each area. I have to know how they’ve reacted to each other and whether or not there is bad blood between these different nations and countries and neighbors.
I have to consider their religions, their economies, their pasts and their present situations. I have to anticipate how those situations will change as the story progresses.
The People of the World: 
The culture and history of the world are all part and parcel for the people of the world. The people are byproducts of both, really. There are places in Fellein where slavery is perfectly acceptable. There are areas, as explain in SEVEN FORGES, where it just plain isn’t wise for a member of the fairer sex to move out on her own unless she wants to risk being assaulted. Of course, there are also females in the same world who make mincemeat of the type of scum who would attempt to take unwanted advantage.
The two sides of the coin in this particular tale are the people of Fellein, a very large and diverse empire with vastly different ethnicities, and the Sa’ba Taalor a single people isolated from the rest of the world for a thousand years.
Let’s take a step back for a moment, shall we? I already said that there are seven separate nations in the Taalor Valley. That’s the truth. But they are seven nations with one people. They share a very closed environment. No one from outside of the Seven Forges has come into the area willingly in a thousand years and those that have? Well, that’s for another story as yet to be revealed. But they are one people with multiple cultures. They do not have the same diversity that has shown up in a thousand-year-old empire.
Culture shock is inevitable and, for me at least, fun.
I moved around a lot as a kid. I counted it once and I went to a total of seventeen schools in my twelve years of public schooling. I lived in five different states and multiple cities, towns and counties in the process. I loved meeting new people and going to new places when I wasn’t busy dreading the exact same things. I loved meeting new people when they weren’t actively hostile toward anyone who was an outsider. Happened more than you might expect. I kept that in mind when I started writing SEVEN FORGES, but I also tried to remember the sense of wonder when I saw new things and met new people. 
Geo-Political Borders:
They are only important for one reason: They can alter the course of armies. It might be easy to attack a neighboring nation if the land between you is wide open fields, a little farmland and a creek or two, but throw in a mountain pass, a serious collection of hills and valleys or an ocean and suddenly the war takes on a different meaning.
In this case we have the Blasted Lands. Listen; in the books the Blasted Lands are bad enough. Expeditions have tried for hundreds of years to get past them with no real luck. Those that came back did so without any success at all and a lot never came back. There are raging storms, bitter cold winds, horrid living conditions and things out in that darkness. They never go away.
Anyone attempting to travel through that madness to have a fight has to come prepared for a great deal of inconvenience. Or, they need to have been dealing with negotiating the hideous conditions for the last ten or so centuries. You know, like the Sa’ba Taalor.
The one potential advantage the Fellein Empire has is that the Sa’ba Taalor are forbidden to go anywhere near the wreckage that the people of the valley call “the Mounds.” The bad news? There are things in the Mounds and those things do not play nicely with others.
For the Empire there has been no challenge for a very long time. For the Sa’ba Taalor every day has been a challenge for even longer. It’s one thing for an army to “invite” themselves into neutral territory and storm across the terrain. It’s quite another to move quickly through frozen mountain passes and across deep ravines with an army of ten thousand soldiers.
One of the things about fantasy settings that keeps them interesting is the lack of too many cheats. By that I mean in a modern setting you can move your army via ship or plane. In a fantasy setting it’s not always that easy. Of course the rules change from world to world, but there it is. In the world of Fellein there are no airships, nor are there dragons to ride into combat (it would be cool, but no, not this time).
There are foot soldiers, navies and armies. There are horses and there are the mounts of the Sa’ba Taalor. The mounts are fewer in number, like the Sa’ba Taalor. They are also deadly predators with large teeth, heavy claws and a penchant for eating their enemies.
Those are really the only modes of transport available, and the armies have to cross some rather unforgiving terrains. 
Which brings us to war.
The line under the title on SEVEN FORGES is “War is coming.” The line under the title of THE BLASTED LANDS is “War is here.” The third books should have the line “We’re only getting started.” There are conflicts in both books. They are violent and bloody and set the tone for the rest of the series.
The Sa’ba Taalor worship seven different gods, true enough, but they are all gods of war. They have spent a thousand years preparing for a fight and the people they intend to fight have spent four hundred years getting a little lazy and out of shape as far as nations go.
The Fellein Empire has no real information on the size of the Sa’ba Taalor armies. They only know that their enemies are seriously scary in combat. They only know that on the two occasions where they’ve seen the Sa’ba Taalor engaged in fights, the people of the valley walked away victorious and left no survivors.
It really depends on how you look at it, but on the psychological warfront the Sa’ba Taalor are already well ahead of the game.
There is also a fleet of black ships in THE BLASTED LANDS, and that fleet comes sailing out of the volcanic ash and ruin of a series of islands now completely devastated. And it heads directly for the southernmost part of the Fellein Empire with every intention of making brutal contact.
On the one hand there is the Empire, which while prosperous has grown careless. When there are no threats it is easy to relax. They have numbers, yes, and they have vast resources, but those resources are spread out as far s the Fellein Empire itself.
On the other hand, the smaller, harder armies of the Sa’ba Taalor. Armies? Yes. Seven gods, seven kingdoms, seven kings and seven armies. They have fought each other for centuries and for the first time in their history, they fight together united against a common enemy.
Each god has a different philosophy of war. Each king follows a different god and the orders of that deity. Each kingdom is populated by people who believe that war and worship are the same thing and they are a very devout people.
Which side would you bet on?
Thanks for having me here at I Hate Critics!

About the Author -

James A. Moore is the award winning author of over twenty novels, thrillers, dark fantasy and horror alike, including the critically acclaimed Fireworks, Under The Overtree, Blood Red, the Serenity Falls trilogy (featuring his recurring anti-hero, Jonathan Crowley) and his most recent novels, Blind Shadows, Homestead and the soon to be released Seven Forges. He has also recently ventured into the realm of Young Adult novels, with his new series Subject Seven. In addition to writing multiple short stories, he has also edited, with Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, the British Invasion anthology for Cemetery Dance Publications.
His Site - 
His Twitter - 

About 'The Blasted Lands' -
The sequel to SEVEN FORGES

The Empire of Fellein is in mourning. The Emperor is dead, and the armies of the empire have grown soft. Merros Dulver, their newly-appointed – and somewhat reluctant – commander, has been tasked with preparing them to fight the most savage enemy the world has yet seen.

Meanwhile, a perpetual storm ravages the Blasted Lands, and a new threat is about to arise – the Broken are coming, and with them only Death.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Retro Book Review - Genesis

Book - Genesis
Writer - Eduardo Galeano   
Series - Memory of Fire #1 
Published By - Open Road Integrated Media

First things first, I got this book from NetGalley, so thank you netgalley and Open Road Integrated Media for this opportunity.
Very rarely do I come across such awesome works of art that I find myself unworthy of reviewing. 'Genesis' by Eduardo Galeano, which is volume one of his Memory of Fire is definitely one such work of literature. It is a novel of the history of a continent, of a great many people who have been wronged so much, yet sadly they were wronged by some fellow human beings. It is a novel of despair, of greed, of depressing racism, of utterly disgusting use of religion for selfish gains. It is written with such passion and such delicacy, with vivid imagery, through viewpoints of so many people, it is like memory of Latin America. It certainly is those lands' and its peoples' sad memory, their memory of fire.

New Book Review - Zombies Vs Robots: No Man's Land

Book - Zombies Vs Robots: No Man's Land
Writers - Jeff Conner (Editor), Fabio Listrani (Illustrations), Jonathan Maberry (Introduction), Chris Ryall, Jon McGoran, Mark Morris, Hank Schwaeble, Bobby Nash, Stephen Graham Jones, Stephen Dedman, John Skipp & Cody Goodfellow 
Series - Zombies Vs Robots #5
Published By - IDW Publishing/Open Road Integrated Media

First things first, I got this book from NetGalley, so thank you netgalley, IDW Publishing and Open Road Integrated Media for this opportunity.
Ah, zombies, who doesn't loves zombies. And any kind of mash up ideas featuring zombies and other interesting creatures/things always seems like a good idea. Although Zombies Vs Robots is quite an old idea actually, as this book is number 5 in the anthology series. I started this novel expecting some simple minded fun with lots of action and innovative ways to kill or get killed and that is exactly what is found here. While some of the stories are quite fun to read with interesting characters and action sequences some really lacks compared to others which makes this a mixed bag of an experience in the end.

Video Game Music Review - Pokémon Reorchestrated: Double Team!

Album Name - Pokémon Reorchestrated: Double Team!
Catalog Number - LOUDR-2018
Released On - Jan 17, 2014
Composed By - Junichi Masuda, Shota Kageyama, Hitomi Sato, Go Ichinose
Arranged By - Eric Buchholz, Braxton Burks
Published By - Joypad Records  

Those who are veteran fans of pokemon handheld rpgs are quite familiar with the music of the games. As a fan since the days of Red & Blue I was quite intrigued by the idea of this album. Music from all 6 generations of games, performed by an orchestra, from the label Joypad Records who previously impressed me a lot with their 'Chrono Trigger Symphony' albums really sounded enticing. And the publishers delivered again, a beautifully orchestrated collection of classic music from the games which made me reminisce fondly of the countless hours that I spend wandering around the world of pokemon since my childhood.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Guest Post - Lisa Ann O'Kane

The inspiration for my novel ESSENCE came to me randomly while I was watching a friend get inducted into the Vail Snowboarding Hall of Fame.

There were tons of early '90's snowboarding legends there, and I was struck by how poorly many of them had aged. Some had mobility issues—thanks to the beatings they put on their bodies—some had substance abuse withdrawal issues, and many others just seemed ‘different.’ I turned to my friends at one point and said, "It's weird. It's almost like these guys were given a certain allotment of life, and they've already used theirs up."

BAM. The rest of my story came to me like lightning.

I inserted Yosemite National Park, Theravada Buddhism and hippies-gone-wrong in San Francisco, and then off I went. The only problem was that this was the winter of 2011, and literary agents and publishers were already beginning to tire of dystopian novels.

But this ISN’T a dystopian novel! I would insist. It’s a novel about cults! And although cults inherently have dystopian qualities, I want to tell a coming-of-age story about a girl who escapes from one cult only to end up accidentally joining another cult!

It didn’t matter. My fabulous agent (Hannah Bowman of Liza Dawson Associates) understood what I was trying to say, but many of the publishers we initially submitted ESSENCE to didn’t. And the ones who rejected us typically came back and said ESSENCE was either “too dystopian” or it “wasn’t dystopian enough.” Others said they loved it, but they just didn’t know where in the market they should place it.

Hannah and I were heartbroken. We tried finessing the cult elements in one direction or the other, but every time we tried to make significant changes, we found they never sat right with us.

ESSENCE was a story about cults. And it needed to stay a story about cults, even if that meant we could never find a home for it.

Of course, we did find a home for ESSENCE. The fabulous folks at Strange Chemistry welcomed us with open arms even when ESSENCE didn’t neatly fit into any of their usual genres. It definitely wasn’t fantasy, it wasn’t very speculative… It read more like a YA contemporary than anything else, but it also possessed those dystopian-like, cult qualities. Oh, and it took place in the near-future. Science fiction, maybe?

Regardless, the Strange Chemistry team understood what we were trying to say, and they believed in the story enough to take it under their collective wing. For that, I will be forever grateful.

So where does this leave me today? Truth be told, I sometimes still worry readers will expect ESSENCE to be a huge-scale dystopian thriller and will be let down when they realize it isn’t. I also worry readers who would appreciate its intimate character portrayals and coming-of-age messages won’t even know to pick it up.

But that’s what happens when you put anything you love out into the world, I guess. You can shape and coddle and care for it up to a point, and then the time comes when you need to set it free.

That time has come now.

And I hope you enjoy my… ahem… cult book, ESSENCE. ;)

About Lisa Ann O'Kane -

Lisa Ann O’Kane is a young adult author and former vagabond who once camped out in Yosemite National Park for an entire summer, an experience that inspired her debut novel ESSENCE.

Her background is in zookeeping and environmental education, and she has been kicked, cornered, bitten and chased by nearly every animal she has ever loved. She currently resides in Florida, and she is now a huge fan of shooting stars, indoor plumbing and keeping both her feet planted firmly on the trail.

Her Site - Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest

About 'Essence' - 

Autumn escaped a cult, but now she realizes she's fallen into another.

Growing up in San Francisco’s Centrist Movement, sixteen year-old Autumn Grace has always believed emotions—adrenaline, endorphins, even happiness—drain your Essence and lead to an early death. But her younger brother’s passing and a run-in with a group of Outsiders casts her faith into question.

Ryder Stone, the sexy, rebellious leader of the Outsiders, claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic -- and he can prove it.

Autumn follows Ryder to his Community of adrenaline junkies and free spirits in Yosemite National Park, and they introduce her to a life of adventure, romance, sex, drugs and freedom. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realizes the more she risks in search of the perfect rush, the further she has to fall. 
       Links - Amazon(US), Amazon(UK), Amazon(Canada), B&N, Kobo

Author Interview - Mike Robinson

So, here comes another interview. This time I interview 'Mike Robinson' who has released 'Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray' recently. Thanks to the author for making time for us and also to the wonderful people at "Curiosity Quills" who made this possible.

So here is the Q & A -
1) Hi and welcome to the blog. Would you start by telling us a bit about yourself and why you decided to become a writer?
I don't remember deciding to write. At some point when I was around 6 or 7, stories just began falling out of me. It was my brain's way of going to the bathroom, I always say. I first wrote about sports -- adventures in baseball, antics in football, insanity on the links. Then, with the 8-page pencil scrawl known as "Aliens in my Backyard!", I transitioned into the realm of sci-fi/fantasy/horror, and haven't really looked back. Through a contest, I had my first publication when I was 12, then began selling "professionally" when I was about 19 or 20 (I put up quotes around 'professionally' because, although I technically made money, without supplement the amount I made probably would have allowed me a meal every 8 or 9 months). For a while there in my later adolescence I'd detoured into an ultimately stillborn career in videogames, which drew most of my creative energy, but I soon devoted myself wholly to writing fiction. I've been super-fortunate to have a network of stimulating and very supportive family members and life-long friends, who, by the way, won't mince words when they read something of mine they don't like.

2) Do tell us a bit about this book of yours called 'Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray'?

As the subtitle, "A Collection of Weird Fiction", implies, it's a compilation of 19 stories, of varying length, that cover wide swaths of the supernatural, metaphysical, and fantastical, with some classical science fiction thrown in. They were written over a ten-year period, from the first one I sold in 2004 to one I completed in 2013. A chunk of them have been published elsewhere, in print magazines (some of which have sadly joined the Dodo), e-zines, anthologies and podcasts. Stylistically, I'd say they're an eclectic mash-up of The Twilight Zone, Douglas Adams, H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker. So if any or all of those names appeal to you, you'd probably find something to like in there.

3) What made you want to write weird fiction may I ask?

That was another organic progression, an outgrowth of my writing spurred by my increasing immersion in ghost stories, Stephen King, Bruce Coville (My Teacher is an Alien series), Lynn Reid Banks (The Indian in the Cupboard series), R.L. Stine and others. I've always loved plopping a monster or a dollop of the weird into our contemporary world. As a kid, of course, my interest was more surface titillation. I just thought it was cool. That still holds, of course, but as an adult I think the genre of weird, or speculative, fiction has so much philosophical validity, not to mention thematic and conceptual flexibility, because it faces head-on the sheer unknown strangeness of reality. It reminds us how little we know, that we occupy at best a candlelit raft on an immense and darkened sea. I think that this kind of perspective is humbling, exciting and nourishing.

4) So what are some your favorite stories in this collection and why?

Whipping off the obligatory preface that I love them all, if I had to choose it'd probably be "Forces" -- I like the style, theme, and, as a resident of Southern California, the story deals with long-held historical fascinations of mine. There's also "Skeptic", which I like because it addresses a very polemical topic in a spiritually and politically detached way. "High Stakes", for its eerie build, and "The Mystery Manager", because it says a lot in so little (a flash piece, it's the shortest in the bunch). But I must reiterate that I stand 200% behind them all!

5) Tell us about your favorite writers and some of your favorite books if you will?

I'll try to keep this short. I stray from hierarchy, but I'll begin by mentioning three books that did signify a change in either my writing career or personal life: IT by Stephen King,  Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch, and Ulysses by James Joyce -- quite a crazy gamut there, right? Other favorite titles include: Demian by Hermann Hesse, Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, Calculating God by Robert J. Swayer and the more recent Mr. g by Alan Lightman, to name a few. Other personally adored names include Yann Martel, John Steinbeck, John Steinbeck, Clive Barker, Mark Twain, H.P. Lovecraft, Jack London, Anton Chekhov, Harlan Ellison, Joseph Campbell, Paul Davies, Miguel Cervantes (though I've only read Don Quixote, I feel that's a library in of itself, same with Melville's Moby-Dick), Haruki Murakami, Doris Lessing, Sinclair Lewis. I'll cork this off now. A newly-discovered appreciation is Tobias Wolff.
6) What more can we expect from you this year? Will you tell us a bit about your future projects?

Muse Harbor Publishing will be releasing my more literary novel The Atheist. Like my other books, though, it does have a thread of the fantastic. It concerns the public and personal life of a celebrity "atheist" author and pundit, one in the tradition of Richard Dawkins or the late Christopher Hitchens. When the man undergoes a near-death experience, he must reconcile new questions with his established persona and philosophy. There's no religious conversion or anything of that sort -- I try to avoid ideology. Rather, the book addresses more nuanced issues I generally don't hear in debates between organized secularists and organized religion.

7) Care to say something for the aspiring authors out there?

While overrun and trite, the mantras of "writing every day", of giving yourself permission to just barf out a first draft and persisting and persisting no matter what really hold true, and will always hold true. It's also relatively easy to write every day if you feel it's your calling, your passion, because it's not just you that's deciding to write. The stories and ideas will come to you, and won't let you alone until you release them onto the page. That's how you know you're meant to write. Faulkner said: "I only write when I'm inspired, but I'm inspired every day." There will be lulls, of course, depressive moments or stretches of time where you'll feel burned out, unappreciated, resentful, outmoded, demoralized. But the energy will return. Also, don't be afraid of the work getting harder. Usually, that means you're getting better, becoming more discriminating in craft and vision. You're more aware of what works and what doesn't.

About the author -  

An official armchair Fortean since receiving Karl Shuker's The Unexplained at thirteen, though fascinated with the material since penning Aliens In My Backyard! at age seven, Mike has spent much of his literary career in the murky overlap between reality and....whatever else we may want to call that curious realm the presence of which we sense but seldom touch. Dreams? Dimension X? Whichever. Mike's short fiction has been featured in Storyteller, Aoife's Kiss, Northwoods Anthology, Wondrous Web Worlds, All Possible Worlds,, Wash: The Journal of Otis College of Art & Design, and more. He is on the advisory board of The Greater Los Angeles Writers Society and is managing editor of Literary Landscapes, the society's publication.
Here is his website

About ' Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray' -

Award-winning speculative fiction author Mike Robinson offers up 19 of his creepily provocative short stories in his new book, Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray: A Collection of Weird Fiction.
A beer run becomes an interdimensional excursion. Two men settle their differences after discovering an extraordinary secret in the wilderness. A woman faces the bureaucratic logistics of a digital afterlife. A grieving man seeks to know where his wife was reincarnated. Strange lights in the sky begin to transform the lives of a small town. God and the Devil play billiards for people's souls. A teenage deity's science fair project sprouts a startling discovery.
These and more dream-like detours into the surreal, interstitial and inexplicable await within the pages of Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray: A Collection of Weird Fiction.

PS: Look out for the review of the book in a few days.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Book Review - Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole

Book - Fortress Frontier
Writer - Myke Cole  
Series - Shadow Ops #2
Published By - Ace/Headline

It is really great to see a good author getting even better with a new release. And that is what we get from 'Fortress Frontier' in short. Almost everything that was holding back his first novel is redeemed in such exquisite fashion by Myke Cole here, with a very well written new character & much more delightful world-building to make this action packed novel hard to put down.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Author Interview - Jame Wymore

On celebrating the release of his new novel "Savation' (review here), "James Wymore" has answered some questions as part of an interview. Thanks to the author for making time for us and also to the wonderful people at "Curiosity Quills" who made this possible.

So, here is the Q & A -

1) First of all welcome to the blog and thanks for talking to me. So, why don't you start by telling us a bit about your new novel 'Salvation'? 

It’s a high fantasy.  Reptilian monsters have taken over the ocean, forcing humans inland.  The book starts when scavengers find a soldier still alive after a lost battle with the monsters where the rest of his regiment all died.  The town is cut off by snow on the pass.  The soldier realizes when the spring thaw comes that the monsters will come for the townsfolk before they can escape to the mainland.

2) Your book blurb suggests a nameless protagonist, so is this part of the plot?
Yes.  Although they know he is a soldier, he can’t remember his name or anything from his past.  The townsfolk don’t trust him because their folk magic doesn’t work on him.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t know why either.

3) So what makes your protagonist unique and why do you think readers will root for him?
Elwood, as they call him, has been displaced.  His military training makes it clear to him that these townsfolk are doomed unless they train and make preparations.  He cares for them, and feels a debt to them for saving his life.  However, he needs them to trust him before he can help them to fight back against the coming onslaught.

4) Can you tell us a bit about your world-building and magic system for this novel?
The world building centers on the Hyzoi, the ocean monsters.  They are faster, stronger, and naturally armored.  They are intelligent enough to organize into troops and utilize battle tactics.  They have all the advantages.  If not for the fact that they can’t travel very far from the water, humans likely would not exist in the world at all.
The magic is a sympathetic folk magic.  Largely carried by the women of the town, the strength of it comes from their ability to lend power to each other and compound the relatively small magical abilities of the individual.  This synergy makes their magic formidable when they are united, but not powerful in battle.  For the most part they have used their magic to make it possible to live in an inhospitable land and heal or help members of the community.

5) Who are your influences in writing? What inspires you to write?
My favorite fantasy author was always Piers Anthony, although lately I’ve really been enjoying the work of Jason King.  I was profoundly affected by books I read in school by Vonnegut, Bradbury, Huxley, and Shelley.  I knew I wanted to be a part of that great conversation.  So I’ve been writing ever since.

6) Tell us about some of the novels you read recently? Any book in particular that you would like to mention?

 The book I just finished is Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson.  The plot work in that book is amazing.  I also liked the world building in The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks.  The way his setting expresses the themes is masterful.  When I need a Cyberpunk fix, I have been reading Matthew Cox.

7) What more can we expect from you this year? Will you tell us a bit about your future projects?
Salvation comes out May 16.  I have a paranormal/horror book called Exacting Essence coming out June 12, too.  That one is about a girl trapped by her nightmares of evil clowns.  The book I’m currently working on is the second in the The Actuator series.  It’s about a machine made to transform the world into a utopia, but a saboteur uses it instead to fracture the earth into patches of every fiction genre.  On one side of the border you see aliens, on the other you see dragons.  People all over the world are dying.  Only a handful of people even know what happened, so they are working to put it back if they can.  On the way they have to deal with everything from pirates to vampires.

About the author -

James Wymore studied chaos in college. Unable to make that profitable, he became a teacher where he could always be surrounded by the thing he loved. When he isn't cackling maniacally at the keyboard, James enjoys all types of games where he continues to try to subdue the randomness of life.
His Links:

Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads 

About "Salvation" -

A man wakes on a frozen battlefield when a scavenging couple finds him among the dead. As they nurse him back to health, he is struck with the horrible realization he can’t remember who he is or anything about his past. Taken in by the kind pair, he begins helping with their farm. She even takes him to meet her family, especially her single sister. The ideal life offered in the high mountains of Winigh is shattered when he sees a transport bringing enemy monsters to the shores below. Cut off by high snow on the pass, their fate will soon be the same as the town his company failed to protect in the last battle, if this estranged soldier cannot help them fight off the next wave of invaders. Even worse, the people of the town don’t trust this Selene soldier. He has a strange resistance to their folk magic which some say make him as dangerous as the enemies preparing to destroy them.

Was published on
May 16, 2014 by "Curiosity Quill Press".
 PS: I read and reviewed this book as an ARC from "Curiosity Quill Press". Here is my review.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Excerpt + Giveaway - "Wolf' by Jim Ringel

Today, I am here with an excerpt of 'Wolf' by Jim Ringel as part of his blog tour.

About the book -
Johnny Wolfe carries his dog Sindra in a vial that he keeps in his pocket.  He carries her out of loyalty.  He carries her out of guilt.  He carries her because there are no more dogs in this world. And he carries her to connect to her feral nature, so that he might take her inside himself and feel her animal wildness.
Johnny’s life is in shambles.  His sales career at Bulldog Enterprises is on the blink. On his way to work one day he comes across a colleague who is killed by a dog. But with dogs now extinct, how is this possible? Going through his colleague’s dead body, Johnny discovers the colleague is carrying a rather sizeable sales order. Figuring “he’s dead, I’m not”, Johnny decides to place the order as his own.
Except he can’t figure out what product the colleague is selling.  As he gets closer to understanding the product, Johnny starts to realize it has more and more to do with why the dogs might be returning, and why they’re so angry.
Then he starts to wonder if maybe the dogs know more about him and Sindra, and if maybe they’re angry with him.
                                                                     Publishing on 13th May, 2014.

Wolf Purchase Links:
Amazon US: Link
Amazon UK: Link
Barnes & Noble: Link
Goodreads: Link

About Jim Ringel -
Jim Ringel lives in Boulder. When not writing fiction, he  can be found hiking, biking, and skiing in the Colorado mountains, or sitting still and meditating at home. He also does a lot of reading, and is a long-standing member of Denver’s Lighthouse Literary Workshop.

Social Links: Website  | Twitter | Goodreads

Excerpt -

Johnny unzipped the pouch.He removed the syringe from its pouch, and fixed a needle to its barrel.The past is an emptiness from which there’s no relief, that’s what rituals tell us.He swabbed his arm with alcohol. He flicked his lighter alive and ran its flame along the needle’s shaft. The smell of it burning caught in his throat.The pain inside his arm warbled.
It was time.
He took the vial from his pocket, and pushed the needle through its rubber stopper.
The needle poked into the vial, descended down, pierced a piece of Sindra’s meaty liver.He saw it shiver at the needle’s cold touch.
He wanted to feel that touch, shiver awake with Sindra inside him.Back to life.He craved the feeling.The determination. Dogs don’t search the past. They don’t plan sales or the future. They live only in the moment. He pulled up on the plunger, two cc’s.The fire escape filled with the bloody smell of dog.
He inhaled deeply, then let out his breath.
He re-pocketed the vial, and tapped the syringe with his index finger to release any air.As his finger hit the glass, it ached slightly across the crease where this morning’s dying dog had nipped.Things happen in any marriage. Secrets, for instance.Kita didn’t know about the vial.
He rolled up his sleeve to expose his arm’s crusted specks of dried punctures.He tapped for a vein, found one, placed the needle atop it, then inside, and he pushed.
"Dominate vobiscum," he mistakenly prayed, and he sighed as it poked into him.
"Good dog." He breathed Sindra’s name as she climbed up inside.
It’s not odd, really. We may not choose our families, but we choose who we wished they were.Sindra in his arm, it was his last homage.A mission he was on.A direction, down into a deep descent.

And also the Author and Publishers provided us with a signed paperback plus a $20 Amazon giftcard giveaway.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Blog Tour - 'Glaze' Release Day Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway

Today a new kind of post. Lets celebrate the release of "Glaze" by Kim Curran with a new excerpt and information about the novel.

About the Book -
Petri Quinn is counting down the days till she turns 16 and can get on GLAZE – the ultimate social network that is bringing the whole world together into one global family. But when a peaceful government protest turns into a full-blown riot with Petri shouldering the blame, she’s handed a ban. Her life is over before it’s even started.

Desperate to be a part of the hooked-up society, Petri finds an underground hacker group and gets a black market chip fitted. But this chip has a problem: it has no filter and no off switch. Petri can see everything happening on GLAZE, all the time. Including things she was never meant to see.

As her life is plunged into danger, Petri is faced with a choice. Join GLAZE… or destroy it.

Publishing Today, 15th May, 2014.

 About Kim Curran -
Dublin-born Kim Curran is the award-nominated author of books for young adults, including Shift, Control and Delete.

She studied Philosophy & Literature at university with the plan of being paid big bucks to think deep thoughts. While that never quite worked out, she did land a job as a junior copywriter with an ad agency a week after graduating. She’s worked in advertising ever since and is obsessed with the power of the media on young minds.
She is a mentor at the Ministry of Stories and for the WoMentoring Project. And lives in London with her husband and too many books.

Her links -
                                                                                       twitter , facebook , goodreads

New Excerpt - 

I still flinch at every speed camera, CCTV and drone. There seem to be hundreds of them. Watching me. I never realised how many there were, monitoring our every movement. Some cultures used to think cameras took our souls. Maybe that’s what’s happened to us. Maybe our need to document our every thought, our every emotion, has robbed us of everything. Stripped us down to nothing but pixels on a screen.
I crane my head to watch a drone buzz by overhead, wondering how many souls it’s captured tonight. I don’t see the car coming.

Tour Stops -

                                                                 Link to the total tour schedule 

 And a tour wide a giveaway -

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