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 -
Erang Facebook Page -
Erang Youtube Channel -  

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.