Monday, October 24, 2016

When is a Trilogy Not a Trilogy? by Rob J. Hayes

Hailing from all over England; north, south, and everything in between, Rob J. Hayes is the author of the dark fantasy series The Ties that Bind and also the steampunk caper series It Takes a Thief... He's also an avid card gamer, reader of books, watcher of things, and player of video games.

The second book in the It Takes a Thief... series, It Takes a Thief to Start a Fire, is available October 25th from Amazon. You can find out more at

When is a Trilogy Not a Trilogy?
Star Wars Vs Indiana Jones

I'll start this blog by saying I will be talking about the original Star Wars trilogy (that's episodes 4, 5, and 6) and the three Indiana Jones films (3!!!)

Trilogies are a thing. I don't know why but there's probably some scientific basis behind the number 3 and how it effects our primitive human brains. Honestly, think about how many things come in threes. Stories told across multiple books/films are most often done so with 3, so much so that I recently wrote a duology and people kept asking me what the 3rd book would be called. At this point it's almost become social conditioning (especially within the fantasy genre) to expect books to be trilogies. The mighty De La Soul taught us that 3 is the magic number. A comedian friend of mine recently told me that when using examples in jokes, they always use 3 because 2 doesn't quite hit it home and 4 is where it starts to get old. There's no way around it. There is something about the number 3.

But trilogies don't always come in the same format. I point back to the aforementioned Star Wars and Indie trilogies. Both are excellent series of films and consist of 3 films but deliver in very different ways.

Star Wars contains 3 (mostly) complete stories. From A New Hope, to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, to Return of the Jedi. Each film follows its own narrative and feels complete (even Empire which quite blatantly sets up Jedi). When looked at as a whole, however, you can see a much wider story arc coming into play. The films work on their own but they also function to tell a grander story that simply wouldn't fit into the usual confines. And it works brilliantly. Try watching them back to back some time and the progression of the universe and the characters really hits home.

On the other hand we hand stories like Indiana Jones. While still considered a trilogy, Indiana Jones does not have an over branching story arc. Each film is considered a stand alone adventure and each is really only tied together by the main character. They can be watched in any order without detriment. In fact, Temple of Doom was the first Indiana Jones film I ever watched... and it's technically set before Raiders of the Lost Ark... despite being the 2nd film in the trilogy. Confused? No need to be. Watch them in any order you please and they work just fine.

Here's the bit where I tie this is in to my latest book release.

So when you write a trilogy it's important to decide what type of trilogy you're creating. A series of books with a strong narrative thread tying them all together, or a series of adventures with only a cast of characters tying them together. For my It Takes a Thief... novels I decided on the latter. Chronologically speaking they do have a timeline, but they can be read in any order with only mild spoilers (if the characters are alive in book 2, you can be pretty sure they survive book 1).


About the Author

Rob J. Hayes was born somewhere south of the cockney wastelands in a small town called Basingstoke. He grew up with all the usual boy toys including Lego, Star Wars figures (complete with working lightsaber action) and plenty of Transformers. Playing with these toys inspired his imagination and as soon as he was old enough he started playing with swords wooden sticks.

At the age of fourteen he started writing but, like most fourteen year old boys, everything had to be either a vampire, a werewolf, or have superpowers. Thankfully, like most fourteen year old boys, he eventually grew up... a bit.

After four years at University studying Zoology and three years working for a string of high street banks as a desk jockey/keyboard monkey Rob ran away to live on a desert island in Fiji for three months. It was there he re-discovered his love of writing and, more specifically, of writing fantasy.

Now based in Derbyshire, UK, Rob has a variety of hobbies when he’s not madly scribbling his next epic, that, unsurprisingly, are fantasy themed. He regularly plays card games based on the A Game of Thrones and the Netrunner universes and attends tournaments throughout the UK. Rob also enjoys Airsofting: the act of running around a forest with fake guns shooting (being shot by) his friends.


About the Book

It Takes a Thief to Start a Fire (It Takes a Thief... Book 2)
by Rob J. Hayes 

Following hot on the heels of the events of It Takes a Thief To Catch a Sunrise, ...To Start a Fire sees Jacques Revou and Isabel de Rosier adapting to life in Great Turlain while competing against murderous fences, shadowy secret police, and a group of thieves who can control the very elements.

“We started our lives together with barely a coin to our name. We have won fortunes and lost them. We have stolen the un-stealable, survived plots and schemes determined to see us fall, and saved a Queen from certain death.

But sometimes a fresh start is exactly what is needed and here we can have just that. Free from devious machinations and troublesome reputations alike. Here we can go back to our roots.

A good thief gets out without being caught. A great thief makes it look as though they were never there. But we are neither good, nor great. We are the best.”

Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Expected publication: October 25th 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

From the Shelf to the Page: This Week in the Ruins

In case you missed it, here's what happened in the Ruins this week . . .

WTF Friday: Body Rides by Richard Laymon

Horror Review: Deadraiser Part 1 by Stephanie & Wayne J. Keeley

Waiting On Wednesday: Exercise Bike by Carlton Mellick III

Horror Review: Cthulhu Armageddon by C.T. Phipps

Kenneth Brown talks Lovecraftian Horror in Coolant

Coming up this week, we'll be hosting visits from Rob Hayes, Gail Z. Martin, and Konrad Hartmann, so be sure to stop by . . . and stop by often!


Stacking The Shelves and Mailbox Monday are a pair of weekly memes that are about sharing the books that came your way over the past week, and which you've added to your shelves - whether they be physical or virtual, borrowed or bought, or for pleasure or review.

While I've pretty much cut myself off for new 2016 titles (with one exception below), I couldn't resist a pair of review titles hitting shelves in the new year:

In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle

The Dead Seekers by Barb & J.C. Hendee

Wise Phuul by Daniel Stride

I did shell out the big bucks this week for The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost, which is nearly double price in Canada, but still looks to be worth every penny, and picked up an early copy of Commander in Chief, the latest Jack Ryan novel.

And, of course, Foster captured a few new titles for the WTF Friday shelves:



It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is another weekly meme, this time focused on what books are spending the most time in your hands and in your head, as opposed to what's been added to your shelf.

With the Halloween season in full swing, I'm continuing my tour of the darkest corners of my review shelves . . .

What's topping your shelves this week?

Friday, October 21, 2016

WTF Friday: Body Rides by Richard Laymon

Well, another WTF Friday is upon us, which means we once again turn the Ruins over to my dark half. As regular visitors will know, Foster Medina has a passion for messed up literary diversions - books that are bizarre, twisted, grotesque, and kinky - and he's only too happy to splatter them across the page.

To borrow the oft-quoted cover blurb from Stephen King, “If you’ve missed Laymon, you’ve missed a treat.” Seriously, if you’ve never had the pleasure, I urge you to pick one up one of Richard Laymon’s books (One Rainy Night remains my favorite). His books are the literary equivalent of watching a low-budget slasher flick while riding a dilapidated old roller coaster – a deliciously enjoyable thrill ride that doesn’t require much from the reader, other than to strap in, hold tight, and enjoy.

Body Rides is pretty much your standard Laymon tale, but still more fun than anything else you’re likely to read this Halloween season. The basic premise, as is often the case with his work, is deceptively simple. After rescuing a beautiful woman from a vicious serial killer (this happens a lot with Laymon), a young man finds himself rewarded with a magic bracelet that allows him to leave his body and hitch a ride in anybody he chooses.

While outside his self, Neal experience the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations of whomever he chooses to occupy. What he can't do, however, is control their speech or actions - he's just along for the ride. It's during his first long-distance ride that Neal discovers that not only is the serial killer he left for dead very much alive (again, this happens a lot with Laymon), but he’s come to finish the job - and there’s absolutely nothing Neal can do but watch from inside the body of the victim. Chilling, creepy, claustrophobic stuff.

A large portion of the book is dedicated to Neal’s frantic flight, along with establishing his relationship with a pair of women who become key to the eventual resolution of the story. By the end, all three of them have used the bracelet for various voyeuristic, investigative, erotic, and frightening body rides. Personally, I would have loved to share more in Neal’s experiences riding along in either Sue or Marta’s body, but we certainly get our fair share of Sue experiencing Neal, and the novelty/curiosity aspect is certainly handled very well. Laymon always incorporates a creepy, voyeuristic sort of eroticism with his books, and here it works exceptionally well.

Realistically, the story could have been a good 100 pages shorter, but Laymon’s books are always as much about the experience and the atmosphere as they are about the plot, and that narrative excess is part of the thrill. As for the ending, it's one of Laymon's best, a total WTF moment that completely betrays everything you expect from the story.

Paperback, 534 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by Leisure Books

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Horror Review: Deadraiser Part 1 by Stephanie & Wayne J. Keeley

Although I found the telling a little awkward at times, with some jarring transitions between journal and narrative points of view, Deadraiser: Part 1: Horror in Jordan's Bank was an effectively creepy horror story with a nice twist at the end.

Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley & Wayne J. Keeley poke a bit of gentle fun at small town stereotypes and clichés, but make good use of the somewhat backwards town where cell reception is spotty at best, where news and gossip are still printed each morning, and where bumbling sheriffs, crotchety old docs, elderly priests still play an essential role. Like most small towns in these kinds of stories, there's something rotten at the heart of it, and the tendrils of evil spread throughout to ensnare Frankie and Chris.

Nightmares, ghosts, and demonic possession all play a role here, as does the concept of being chosen or foretold or chosen to play a role in the battle between good and evil. Human monstrosity plays just as big a role, however, with everything from greed and arrogance to tragic birth defects casting a shadow over the small town of Jordan's Bank.

An effective old school horror story, Deadraiser has some really powerful scenes that are sure to captivate fans of the genre. The characters themselves don't get a chance to really shine in this first installment, but they're established well enough for us to care about what happens. Personally, I would have preferred the cliffhanger twist at the end to be a little less definitive, but it certainly cranks up the tension for the next chapter.

Kindle Edition
Published September 5th 2016

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday: Exercise Bike by Carlton Mellick III

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Exercise Bike by Carlton Mellick III
Expected publication: January 1st 2017 by Eraserhead Press

There is something wrong with Tori Manetti's new exercise bike. It is made from flesh and bone. It eats and breathes and poops. It was once a billionaire named Darren Oscarson who underwent years of cosmetic surgery to be transformed into a human exercise bike so that he could live out his deepest sexual fantasy. Now Tori is forced to ride him, use him as a normal piece of exercise equipment, no matter how grotesque his appearance.

Set in a health food dystopia, "Exerice Bike" is an absurd horror tale of domination and submission, power and obedience, desire and desperation, from Wonderland Book Award winner Carlton Mellick III.

Keeping with the Halloween horror theme, Mellick is the granddaddy of bizarro horror, and I love how twisted this one is. Should be a fun, mind-melting, read.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Horror Review: Cthulhu Armageddon by C.T. Phipps

Cthulhu Armageddon is a book that blends the elements of several genres, and does so with some surprising success. There's definitely some Mad Max insanity behind it, but what struck me most strongly was the way C.T. Phipps pays a sort of homage to Stephen King's The Stand, while taking a page out of Brian Lumley's book and swapping the awkward biblical mythology for the far more satisfying (and terrifying) Cthulhu mythos.

This is the story of John Henry Booth, a stone-cold exterminator of threats to the remnants of humanity. A loyal solider and respected leader, he is forced to question his very existence when a mysterious encounter leaves him branded a traitor. Declared dead, he sets out with a disgraced torturer to find the truth, seek his revenge, and continue his mission - but only after his wife's monstrous attempt at betrayal goes awry,

There's so much to like about this story - action, horror, humor, and some heavy emotions. It's an incredibly fatalistic look at humanity's future, but it's Booth's interactions with the women around him give us a reason to keep going. From his affection for a cursed child and a solider thought lost, to his awkward trust for both a torturer and a cult leader, Phipps keeps the monstrous from completely overwhelming the humanity.

For those wondering about the Cthulhu aspect, it is a significant part of the story - not just window dressing. This is a book that gets very trippy at times, complete with dream world encounters, gods and old ones, magic, and inhuman power. More than once I had to stop, go back, and reread a section just to appreciate how much was going on. The opening discovery of "a genuine, honest-to-god cathedral with soaring towers and architecture" in the middle of nowhere, constructed of "stones seemingly formed from the very night itself," sets the tone for the story, and the climax deep within that same alien temple delivers on every level.

Comprised of equal parts horror, science fiction, and weird western, Cthulhu Armageddon is that rare book that delivers on them all, and which should appeal to a wide audience. It's dark, grim, and deeply unsettling, but unlike its subject matter, never entirely alien.

Kindle Edition, 267 pages
Published August 22nd 2016 by Crossroad Press

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.