Friday, November 30, 2012

The Best Weapon by David Pilling and Martin Bolton (REVIEW)

While The Best Weapon is by no means light-hearted or humorous, I had a lot of fun with the tale that David Pilling and Martin Bolton spin. They managed to hook me right from the start, with a darkly surreal glimpse of two Lords of Hell, desperate to play out one last scheme in order to save their immortal skins. Their high-stakes game provides a unique frame for the story, adding a mythological element to the mortal struggles above.

Similarly, Pilling & Bolton deftly immerse us in two wildly different mortal cultures, introducing us to the demon-spawn half-brothers who must fight to attain a destiny of which they are unaware. The structure of each society - one very medieval, and one very savage - the ways in which they view their gods, and the role in which coming-of-age plays, all contribute to a level of world-building that is far above anything I would have expected.

The story moves along a good pace, with a narrative style that flows very nicely - not always an easy accomplishment when co-authors are involved. Naiyar and Fulk are both solid characters, well-developed, and unique from one another, despite their shared parentage. As we follow their individual journeys, we're treated to a pair of stories that could have worked well on their own, but which come together to form a story that's greater than merely the sum of its parts.

I am reluctant to say much about the plot, because I honestly think this is one of those books where the story needs to be discovered and revealed as you go. Not knowing where things are headed, or what form the climax will take, is an adventure all on its own. All I will say about the three storylines - for we cannot forget the Lords of Hell who started it all - is that they pay homage to the conventions of the fantasy genre, but are certainly not afraid to bend or even break those same rules.

If you're looking for something new, something fresh in the genre, then I heartily recommend giving this a read.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

18 & Over Book Blogger Follow

18 and Over Book Blogger Follow is a weekly feature that begins on Fridays and runs through the weekend hosted by Crystal from Reading Between the Wines. This one is aimed primarily at bloggers and books for the 18 and over crowd.

Question of the Week: 
What are the Top 5 Books that you are looking forward to in 2013?

Only 5? Wow, tough job condensing a wishlist down to just 5, but here goes:

  1. A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
  2. River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay 
  3. The Marching Dead by Lee Battersby
  4. Magician's End by Raymond E. Feist
  5. The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker

INTERVIEW with Wayne Mallows (author of Whitechapel Road)

Joining us today is Wayne Mallows, author of Whitechapel Road (out now) and Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary (coming soon). Before we get into things, let's take a quick look at the first of his Vampyre Tales:

Whitechapel Road is the story of Aremis, a young man living out his simple existence in the South of England in the 1870's, when he is suddenly and viciously attacked and left for dead. After being nursed back to health by his sister, the terrifying truth begins to unfold that he is changing into something most terrifying. Forced to travel to London in search of answers, he starts to realize that his life is forever altered and struggles with what his future will entail. Caught up in a game of deadly cat-and-mouse with a beautiful, but evil, woman, his journey will find him at the center of the most horrific string of murders in London's history


Q: Thanks for taking the time to stop by today, Wayne. For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet had a chance to give Whitechapel Road a read, please tell us a little about yourself.

A: Oh man, that is a tall order for a short space only that I’ve done so many things in my life, none of them particularly amazing, but very much time consuming jut the same. I’ve always been into Halloween and my early years were shaped by TV shows such as The Munsters, The Addams Family and The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.  I stopped going out “trick or treating” at about age ten to, instead, converting my parents home into a haunted house, much to my father’s dismay. These displays became more and more elaborate the older a got, until I had my own house where I would have 20 plus actors and endless props to create a truly horrifying experience.

Back in those days there was no internet or web sites to buy such equipment from so everything I had required my designing and building it from the ground up. Many of the moving creations often blowing up in the garage or backyard before finally being perfected.

After the creating of haunted houses for my own fun, I began working at a number of theme parks as both an actor as an advisor on how to create a scary space for a paying audience. Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto and Skreamers in Ottawa being the latest.

I currently live in Niagara Falls in a Haunted Gothic Revival home built in 1872 and own two Cadillac funeral coaches.

Q: The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?

A: I began writing in public school, specifically in grade 8. Sadly, though, being a C average student and my writing, apparently being above my calibre, my English teacher felt that my writing was the work of someone else or that I had copied it from somewhere. This was the same case when I reached high school. It was at that point, thoroughly discouraged, that I gave up writing and didn’t go back to it until I was 37 years old. It was then that I started with a few personal short stories before settling in to create a realistic vampyre story.

Q: Given its rather diverse evolution (or, perhaps, dilution) over the past decade, what was it that compelled you to contribute fresh blood to the vampire genre?

A:  I have always loved the vampyre character but wanted to make it more realistic, more believable. I wanted to create a tale that had within it a feeling that this person, or persons, could be your neighbor and you’d never know. Because essentially the Hollywood vampyre is a fictional creation, the creator of a vampyre story, whether on screen of page, can pretty much do what they like with it. There are no governing factors that have to be followed. They can fly, live forever, turn to mist or become other creatures, the combinations are limitless. The danger in that is the creature itself can become unbelievable, more of a fantasy than something that could have actually existed.

Q: Depending on the author, it can be coming up with a title, that first paragraph, the cover blurb, or something else - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?

A: Definitely the title, at least that was the case in Whitechapel Road.  In Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, the second book in the series, I actually wrote the ending to the story right on the heels of Whitechapel Road. It was such a powerful thought that came to mind that I wrote it all down and in the end, I really didn’t alter it all that much from the original creation.

Again, with book three I struggled with the title, but it came more quickly than did the first two, so perhaps I’m getting the hang of it.

Q: Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated. Has a twist or turn in your writing ever surprised you, or really challenged your original plans?

A: Absolutely, in fact, the main female vampyre character in Whitechapel Road, a character named Mary, was exactly like that. Early on in writing Whitechapel Road I was having some issues with her character, something that doesn’t often happen to me. I was sitting in my office trying to suss out what the problem might be and quite literally in my mind I heard her say, “Because I’m not like that, stop making me so simple!”

From that moment, I scrapped her whole character and rebuilt her from the ground up. Once I had completed that task, her character flowed so well, it practically wrote itself.

Q: Is there a favourite quote or scene from your work that you feel particularly fond of? Maybe a line or two that sticks in your head and reminds you of why writing is important to you?

A: Oh my, yes, so many in fact. Again I have to say most of what I liked from the things I wrote is the dialog that comes from the characters themselves more so than my words or descriptions within the book.

Q: In terms of reader reactions, what is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've ever encountered?

A: I had a reader write to me and beg me to tell her what was going to happen in the next chapter because she was so in love with this particular character that she told me if this individual died she wouldn’t be able to deal with it. That was pretty touching, that someone could loves someone I created so much. I was really flattered.

Q: Is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who just refreshes your literary batteries?

A: Sadly, I wasn’t much of reader. I found that I couldn’t easily follow the story or get into what was taking place. I guess you could say, that I didn’t feel like I was there in the story.

Q: If we can turn our attention away from the page, your literary career was really launched by your seasonal haunted house productions. Can you tell us a bit about Scream Works/Scareyman Productions and what you’ve been up to lately?

A: Scream Works and Scareyman Productions were all part of the haunted house creations. Currently I do not build any such attractions, life is just too busy. I do however give seminars and coach others on how to build and act for a haunted attraction.

Q: You’re also very active in the ‘real’ haunted house scene, taking part in paranormal investigations across Southern Ontario. I have my favourites from the area, going back to my days managing the Haunted Ontario website, but what real-life haunting sticks with you the most - either for the experience, or for the story behind it?

A: I’ve had so many amazing experiences in this genre, I feel very fortunate to have seen, felt and heard some pretty compelling things. Being pushed whilst in a basement has to be the most intense and unpleasant experience in my investigating life. It was more than a push, but the sound, a growl of sorts that was followed up by an odor so foul I could actually taste it more than smell it.

Unfortunately this was at a private residence and I cannot say much more than that on the topic.

Living in my own haunted home gives me ample opportunity to have an experience or two.  I have seen full apparitions move though different rooms of the house. Smells of cigar smoke and floral perfumes have been smelt in rooms and on the veranda. Sounds of talking in rooms where no one is in as well as walking on the second floor when no one is up there.

Q: To get back to the Vampyre Tales, assuming you had total creative control over the production, who would you cast as the leading roles, were the series to make its way to the screen?

A: Hahahaha, oh man, I get that question so often and it’s so out of my realm of knowledge. I really do not follow film in the sense of knowing actors and directors etc. That having been said I’ve tried to pay better attention to that since I get asked about it quite a bit. So far, the best I could come up with was that of Natalie Portman to play the part of Mary. Beyond that, I really have no clue as to who could play Aremis, the main male vampyre character. If Johnny Depp was a little younger he’d have my vote in a heartbeat. Already having played in the movie From Hell, Mr. Depp is already quite familiar with wandering about the set of Whitechapel and would undoubtedly do a superb job of being my Aremis.

Q: Is there a particular theme or message you're expecting readers to take away from your work, or are you more focussed on the entertainment value of a good story?

A: Um that’s a bit tough, is there a secret message, mmmm, possibly. I mean, I found doing the research on Jack the Ripper to be most fascinating and at the same time I found more than enough reasonable doubt to cast the one responsible for those murders in 1888 as being a female over that of a male. Perhaps if, beyond a good vampyre story, the readers could take away a different perspective on those killings, then maybe there could be something a little more intriguing for the reader within those pages.

Q: Finally, I know Book II (Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary) has seen some production delays, so when do you expect it to be released . . . and then what’s next for Wayne Mallows?

A: There has been some serious delays in getting Mary, Mary Quite Contrary out there and I’m still hoping before the end of the year. There will be four books in the vampyre tale series, at least that is the plan at the moment. What’s after that, well I’d like to see them made into audio books, that will be a personal goal of mine. I would also like to see the series made into a film or a TV series as well, but that’s sometime down the road. I have to still write the last two, which are only in note form as I write to you this evening.

Thanks again for joining us, Wayne!

Most welcome, and the pleasure is mine.


For more on Wayne Mallows and his Vampyre Tales, check out his website at http://waynemallows.com/. You can also follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/waynemallows, or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WayneMallows.


Announcing The King’s Man by Rowena Cory Daniells

Solaris has announced an exciting new addition to the best-selling world of King Rolen’s Kin, an ebook exclusive from Rowena Cory Daniells entitled The King’s Man.

Returning to the world she created for the best-selling series The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin, Rowena Cory Daniells has crafted a brand new novella – available next week from Solaris!

In the Chronicles of King Rolen's Kin trilogy everyone believed Garzik had been killed. This ebook exclusive reveals what happened to him.

When Dovecote estate fell, Garzik, younger son of Lord Dovecote, was captured and sent back to Merofynia as a prize of war. Feeling responsible for the fall of his father’s estate – and therefore, ultimately, the fall of the Kingdom of Rolencia – Garzik must set things right before he can return home.

He decides to turn his misfortune into opportunity, to spy for the rightful king, Byren, who yet thinks him slain at Dovecote. With fortune on his side, he may learn something that could change the path of the war, then escape, return home, find Byren and redeem himself. For Garzik is and always will be the king’s man.

With its explosive mix of political intrigue and magic, The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin remains the best selling Solaris series. Discover for yourself why with this new and exclusive ebook from Solaris.

If you're new to the series, check out my reviews of the first 3 books here:

If you've been waiting anxiously for the next chapter, then check out my review coming soon (Rowena was kind enough to send me a copy earlier this week).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On the Matter of the Red Hand by Irrational Worlds (REVIEW)

Not really having any expectations going in, I was pleasantly surprised by On the Matter of the Red Hand (Judicar's Oath). This was a gritty, intriguing fantasy that managed to establish the rough boundaries of a new fantasy world, while telling a self-contained tale within it. Clearly, there is far more to the story than is being told in this slender volume, but it certainly serves to whet the reader's appetite for more.

Thom is a fantastic character, part fantasy hero, and part pulp/noir detective. Actually, I liked the whole idea of the Judicars, their role in society, and their subterfuge in blurring the lines between magic and madness. We don't get to 'see' a lot of Teredon, but what we are told about the city - and its criminal element - is intriguing, and more than enough to orient us within the tale. As for the mystery behind the tale, Thom's search for a missing woman, that was played out extraordinarily well, keeping me on my toes with a few twists that I didn't see coming, but which didn't feel at all forced.

If I were to have one complaint about the book, it's that the narrative could have benefited from a bit more description. There were several places where I got lost in either the dialogue or the narrative itself, not quite sure who was speaking to whom. That's a minor quibble, though, and one that bothered me less and less as I settled into the story.

Overall, this was a quick, fast-paced read, and one that gives the reader credit for some intelligence. There's no spoon feeding of facts and terminology, no detailed glossaries or appendices. Instead, the story is told within the context of the world in which its set, by a narrator who assumes we'll either catch on or get out of his way.

Waiting On Wednesday - Quintessence by David Walton

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

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Quintessence by David Walton

Quintessence is an Alternate History/Fantasy set 500 years ago in the Age of Exploration, full of arcane science, alchemy, human dissection, sea monsters, betrayal, torture, religious controversy, and magic. Scientists and explorers gamble with their lives to turn lead into gold and bring the dead back to life. In Europe, the magic is thin, but at the edge of the world, where the stars reach down close to the Earth, wonders abound. This drives the bravest among them to the alluring Western Ocean. 

An alchemist, Christopher Sinclair, who cares about only one thing: quintessence, a substance he believes will grant immortality and magical powers, has a ship. 

Fleeing an inquisition for illegal dissection, Stephen Parris, the king's physician, follows Sinclair to an island that perches on the edge of the world, bringing his daughter Catherine with him against his wife's furious protests. The island is teeming with fantastical animals whose secrets they explore, using extracted powders and tinctures to make bread from sand, turn salt water into fresh, and--just possibly--find the secret of immortality. (March 19, 2013)

I first came across Walton's second novel a couple of months ago, when Tor featured an excerpt as part of their Sea Monster Week. I must admit, his blog posts about science and Christianity did initially give me pause, but he puts an interesting spin on things. Considering his debut, Terminal Mind, won the Philip K. Dick award in 2008, I'm definitely curious to give this a read.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Bridge to Treachery by Larry Crane (REVIEW)

Despite being a book I wanted to enjoy, A Bridge to Treachery: From Extortion to Terror proved to be a somewhat uneven read. What could have been a strong thriller, a nostalgic throwback to the pulp action thrillers of the 80s, suffers from a lack of world-building to anchor it in the historical and political landscape. Without those details to anchor events, we're left to read it as a contemporary thriller, which creates some issues with the basic premise. Where the concept of coordinated terrorist attacks across the USA would have been mind-blowing in the 80s, the targets seem rather petty and small in a post-9/11 reality.

That core issue aside, this is a rather enjoyable story, and one that builds upon its characters as well as its storyline. At first, I wasn't sure what kind of story Larry Crane was trying to tell, and found myself wondering where all this talk of investment brokering and auction hunting was headed. Somewhere along the line it all clicked, however, and I found myself invested in the lives of Lou and Meg. As such, by the time Lou receives the mysterious invite to his boss' office, soon finding himself the beneficiary of riches he didn't really earn, I felt the sense of dread that I'm sure the author intended.

While the whole terrorist operation fell a bit flat for me, as I mentioned above, the conspiracy behind it is quite entertaining. I think the story could have benefited from some transparency on the narrator's part, allowing to reader to understand more of the 'who' and the 'why' behind everything, but that's a personal preference. While I feel it would have lent more credence (or, perhaps, significance) to Lou's plight, it would admittedly have taken away from the central mystery of who to trust . . . and how far.

The actions scenes were very well done, carefully choreographed, but never weighted down with the the kind of gritty technical detail that so often turns similar thrillers into glorified gun-porn. I felt myself being carried along by the action, never quite sure from where the next blow would come, and honestly fearing for the safety of those involved. There were a few twists, especially later on, that I saw coming, but that didn't detract from the impact.

The ending itself seemed a bit forced, with Meg playing a far bigger role than I felt we'd been set up to expect, but I liked that she got to be more than just the once-jilted, twice-suspicious wife. Similarly, things seemed to work out a bit too easily for Lou, but that's the case with any action-hero. There were definitely some lingering questions for me regarding the overall conspiracy, but sometimes it's best to leave the reader guessing, rather than tying up every loose thread.



Transplanted to Maine mid-westerner Larry Crane brings an Illinois sensibility to his writing. Larry graduated from West Point and served in the Army before starting a business career on Wall Street. His writing includes articles for outdoor magazines, plays, short fiction, and his most recent thriller novel, A Bridge to Treachery. In his spare time, Crane is a hobbyist videographer for his local Public Access Television Station and is a volunteer at his local historical society. Larry and wife Jan live in splendid isolation on the coast of Maine.

You can check him out at:

Webpage: http://www.mainelarrycrane.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3974958.Larry_Crane
Wattpad: http://wattpad.com/LarryCrane
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/capenewagen?ref=tn_tnmn
Google+: https://plus.google.com/102138020542253759325
Blog: http://mainelarrycrane.blogspot.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/settings/?trk=hb_acc
IAN: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday

Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that is designed to provide some much-appreciated exposure to the bloggers participating, and to expand their following. Hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, each of whom feature a chosen blog for the week, it's an interesting way to get to know one another.

Question of the Week: What blog are you thankful for?

I've gotta go with a pair of blogs that are definitely outside the mainstream, covering nostalgic times and nostalgic reads: Glorious Trash & The PorPor Books Blog.

Parajunkee also hosts a Social Hop for Facebook and Twitter, which I regularly take part in. So, if you're one of those people who aren't on Blogger, or who just don't like Google Friend Connect, it's a great way to keep in touch and follow one another.

Don't forget to check out this week's guest post with Shane K.P. O'Neill & giveaway of Bound by Blood (signed by the author).

Bound by Blood by Shane KP O’Neill (GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY)

by Shane KP O’Neill

I had so much fun writing this book.  I wrote the first chapters back in November 1992, but didn’t touch it again until September 2006.  With a complete re-write of the original and an extra seventy chapters of the new, Bound By Blood, is a finished product at last.

I have opted to begin the series with this book, Chronicle III.  This is where my reader will see Dracula as a vampire for the first time.  A dear friend suggested to me that my readers probably wouldn’t want to wait until a third book before they saw a vampire.  He was correct of course.  Even though the first two books are laced with some stomach-churning horror, I will not release Chronicle I: The Gates Of Babylon at least until the summer in 2013.  I promise it is worth waiting for though.

The ability to be able to cleverly manipulate famous historical figures and events to suit my purpose is so inspiring for someone like me.  I use the context of the story to expose the shortfalls of the Catholic Church in that period, the weaknesses of that institution and the corruption of the men at the helm.  As a Catholic myself this was a little challenging, but exciting nevertheless.

The story allows me to play with such amazing characters as Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Thomas Wolsey, Elizabeth I, Emperor Charles V, Francois I of France, Pope Alexander VI aka Rodrigo Borgia, Cesare Borgia, Giovanni Borgia, Pope Pius III, Pope Clement VII, Niccolo Machiavelli, Pope Sixtus IV, Pope Paul V and Martin Luther among others.  In all areas of the book I have striven to use real people where possible.  Even though some people may find how I have used some of my characters as somewhat controversial, I am sure you will still find them very engaging.  In every scenario, and in whatever setting I have placed my real historic characters, I have striven to portray them as real people with real emotions and feelings and I have tried to show them in their true light.

But it is the fictional character, Jean Pelou, who steals the show.  I needed someone special to see out the closing sequence of chapters to the story, and chose him.  He is inspired by two of my favourite movie characters.  The first came from Sam Neill’s Brian de Bois-Guilbert in Ivanhoe and Hugh Jackmans’s Van Helsing.  I tried to mould those two images I had in my mind into one to create Pelou.  He certainly turns out to be the hero of the piece.

This is where Dracula’s journey through the ages begins.  His descent into darkness is complete.  He is at one with Lucifer.  With Dracula and the other members of his entourage I have endeavoured to add some new dimensions to the vampire genre and indeed, to take the vampire to another level.  This was no easy task in light of the production line of great vampire movies and books over the last two decades.  I am confident I achieve this despite that fact.  My Dracula is certainly like no other that has gone before.  At least I like to think so.

Bound By Blood is not just a vampire or Gothic horror novel.  It is also an historical adventure, a tale of paranormal fantasy, and a romantic tragedy laced with erotica.  I am sure there is something there to attract readers of every genre.



About the Author:

The author developed a fascination with Dracula from an early age.  Like many others he was enthralled by Christopher Lee’s portrayal of him on the big screen.  It was in his late teens that he discovered Dracula the man and the love affair began from there.  An avid historian, he studied the period in which the real historical Vlad Dracula lived, 15th Century Balkan, for many years.  It followed from there then that with his love of writing he would always choose Dracula as his subject.

Away from writing, the author has a wide range of interests.  He has lived and travelled all over the world.  He has a love for all things historical, with a particular fascination for medieval Europe.  Anywhere he travels he likes to search out locations with an historical interest.  He is well read and in recent times has a preference for the work of James Patterson, Carlos Luis Zafon, John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer and Stephen King.  He also keeps his library well stocked with historical texts.

For a time he played scrabble on the international stage and represented Wales at the 2007 World Championship in Mumbai, India.  He has a real love of sport, most notably football, rugby union, cricket and boxing.  His great loves in the football world are Manchester United, Glasgow Celtic, Internazionale and lowly Luton Town.  His sporting heroes include George Best, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Ian Botham and Muhammad Ali.  His only other activities away from these are long country walks and time spent with friends and family.

www.draculachronicles.co.uk  website

www.draculachronicles.co.uk/blog blog

@ShaneKPONeill  Twitter

http://www.facebook.com/ShaneONeillsDraculaChronicles  FB author page

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/12341417-shane-o-neill  Goodreads


About the Book:

The Dracula Chronicles: Bound By Blood
Shane KP O’Neill

Genre: Gothic Horror

ISBN:  978-0-9556701-0-7
Word Count:   261,281

Cover Artist:  David Evans – GraphicStudio4

Book Trailer:  http://youtu.be/MxL9XzO7x28 

The Dracula Chronicles is the brilliant and terrifying new concept of Dracula. It is an epic journey through the ages where the forces of Light and Darkness struggle for supremacy until the Second Great War, as foretold in the Book of Revelations. This bitter feud began after the creation of mankind. Lucifer’s jealousy leads to the First Great War of the angels. Hundreds of thousands of years on the feud simmers beneath the surface. It plots the course of history as we know it today. Both sides manipulate the major players through the centuries to seek an advantage over the other.

On a cold night in December 1431 in Sighisoara an old gypsy woman delivers a prophecy to the great Vlad Dracul. She tells him he is about to sire two sons, one an angel and the other a devil. He returns to his fortress just as his wife bears him a son, whom he names Vlad. In the very same moment across the country on the border between Transylvania and Hungary a gypsy girl gives birth to another son, Andrei. The die is cast. The twin souls are born. The young Vlad Dracula becomes the instrument of the forces of Darkness. To balance this, the baby Andrei is blessed by the angels and bestowed with awesome powers. These chronicles are their story.



As part of his Bound by Blood tour, Shane is offering a signed copy of the book to one lucky commentor as a prize (open to international shipping).

All you have to do is leave a comment below, letting us know who your favourite fictional vampire is!

giveaway ends Sunday (Nov 25th) at midnight

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Serving up a Slice of FREE Fantasy (courtesy of Night Shade Books)

From the Night Shade Books Newsletter:

NSB is Serving up a Slice of (FREE) Fantasy ...   

Howdy, pilgrims. The turkey's been carved, the canned cranberry is jiggling, Uncle Joey's just drunk enough to tell a few dirty jokes, and we're all going round the table saying what we're thankful for. Well, when it's Night Shade's turn, we don't just say it, we show it! This month, we'll be showing thanks by giving you three of our most popular Ebooks, FREE!!!

Here is how it works:

Email happythanksgiving@nightshadebooks.com and you'll receive an auto response from us with a username, password and link to our download site where you'll be able to download the .epub or .mobi files of some of our most exciting and appropriately scrumptious titles:

Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht
The Emperors Knife by Mazarkis Williams
Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil and Kaja Foglio

Waiting On Wednesday - Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb

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

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Blood of Dragons (Rain Wilds Chronicles, Book 4) by Robin Hobb

While there's no official blurb yet, Robin Hobb had this to say about the saga, and its final book:

YES!  There is a fourth books that concludes the Rain Wilds Chronicles.  It is called Blood of Dragons and is currently making its way through the editorial process, to emerge in 2013.  Yes, it will feature a Jackie Morris cover!

To recap:  I intended to write one stand alone book about the dragons in the Rain Wilds.  When I turned in Dragon Keeper, I was very late and the manuscript was very long. Rather than  hack the story down to size, we opted to release one book  as two volumes.  Dragon Keeper and Dragon Haven make up one story.

Then, I resolved to try again to write a third book that would tie up any loose ends about the Dragons, the keepers and Kelsingra. That time, I did manage to turn it in on time! But again, it was far too long.  So, once more, we cut one book into two volumes.  City of Dragons and Blood of Dragons make up on story from the Rain Wilds, and conclude my Rain Wilds Chronicles.

I am so sorry for any confusion and to any readers who bought City of Dragons expecting it to conclude a ‘trilogy’, my heartfelt apologies! (April 9, 2013)

No apologies necessary! New books from Robin Hobb are always a cause for celebration.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Legends of Darkness by Georgia L. Jones (REVIEW)

While intriguing, and with enough moments of inspired darkness to keep me curious, Legends of Darkness (Remnants of Life, #1) was a tale that never really grabbed me.

The concept was an interesting one, and I quite liked the transformation of Samoda from average mother and everyday wife to bloodthirsty warrior. The fact that her refusal to let go of her past life had very real consequences for those around her was a nice touch , and probably what kept me reading. In some ways, her struggle reminded me of Thomas Covenant . . . although she was far easier to like, even if she lacked his tragic depth.

For a paranormal fantasy, however, this was a very heavy tale, owing as much to the style of telling as to the themes within it. Georgia L. Jones is a very descriptive writer, laying out each scene in almost painstaking detail. The sheer amount of detail made the story drag for me in many places, as did the short, almost jagged sentences, and the scarcity of dialogue. I found it hard to find a flow, or to get into a rhythm with the story, although readers who like to be immersed in the details will likely appreciate the style.

The romantic elements definitely carried more weight than I expected, which may increase the story’s appeal to fans of the genre, but I’ll admit to being impatient for more action. There’s definitely an interesting story here, with a strong character to lead it, but the narrative could have benefited from being whittled down.



Georgia L. Jones was born in Columbia, Missouri on September 21st, 1968. In 1992 she settled in the beautiful Ozarks town of Lebanon, Missouri, where she met and married the love of her life. Together they have raised 7 children and have the 8th still in their home.

At a young age Georgia learned the value of getting lost in a good book. She has always enjoyed reading and letting her imagination run wild. In her early teenage years she began to put her own stories down on paper as she plunked out the words on an old manual typewriter.

In 1996 Georgia enrolled at Missouri State University where she majored in Psychology. While there she found an untamable thirst for Philosophy and Greek Mythology. Many evenings she can still be found curled up with one of the great Greek Tragedy’s or reading about personal continuity by Rene Descarte.

Over the years Georgia has harbored the dream of being a published author and written many short stories. On January 10, 2010 she embarked on the dream as she began to bring the characters from her first novel, “Legends of Darkness”, to life. Upon completion in June 2010 she realized that it was not a single book but a series and created the concept of the series “Remnants of Life”. She is currently working diligently on the “Remnants of Life” series.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from Seventh Star Press author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, November 19, 2012

Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane by Jonathan Oliver (REVIEW)

Edited by Jonathan OliverMagic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane brings together a wide (and surprising) variety of authors from across the world, and across the genre shelves. Advertised as a "perfect read for Hallowe’en and the long autumn evenings ahead," it went right to the top of the review pile when I was fortunate enough to snag an early paperback review copy.

This is a very dark, very grim collection of tales. It's also a very efficient collection, with some stories approaching the point of abruptness with their brevity. The Wrong Fairy, by Audrey Niffenegger, open the anthology with a tale of magic and insanity that's interesting, but which never quite manages to set its hooks in the reader. It's If I Die, Kill My Cat, by Sarah Lotz that really kicks the anthology off, succeeding as both a character piece and as a tale of magic. Shuffle, by Will Hill, was a stumbling block for me (likely due to my boredom with card tricks), but Domestic Magic, by Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem, really uped the ante with its tale of magic-fused (or, perhaps, excused) parental neglect.

Neither Cad Coddeu, by Liz Williams, nor Party Tricks, by Dan Abnett, made much of an impression on me, despite the authors being near the top of my must-read pile. First and Last and Always, by Thana Niveau, however, more than renewed my interest with its fascinating tale of gothic horror, while . The Art of Escapology, by Alison Littlewood, put an interesting twist on reader expectations with its tale of childish obsessions and mature possessions. The Baby, by Christopher Fowler, was perhaps the most disturbing tale of the lot, adding a supernatural edge to an already controversial subject.

Do as Thou Wilt..., by Storm Constantine, was another story that failed to make an impression, despite coming from an author I admire significantly. Bottom Line, by Lou Morgan, and MailerDaemon, by Sophia McDougall, round out a rather soft centre, succeeding to intrigue, but falling short of entertaining. Fortunately, Buttons, by Gail Z. Martin comes along to redeem things with what was, by far, the strongest tale in the anthology for me. Nanny Grey, by Gemma Files, would have been a perfect tale with which to end things, a cruel, dark, and mysterious tale of magical deception that left me all-but cackling with glee. Dumb Lucy, by Robert Shearman, isn't a bad tale, but it suffers from heightened expectations due as much to its place at the end of the collection as its proximity to two of the strongest tales in the collection.

Creative, original, and even inspired (at times), Magic truly is An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane. No matter your tastes regarding what magic is, or your expectations as to what magic should be, odds are there's something here that will cast its spell over you and make the hours just . . . disappear.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The HMCS Ojibwa - a snapshot of Canadian submarine history

Something for all you Tom Clancy, Larry Bond, Patrick Robinson, and Michael DiMercurio fans out there! Spent a chilly, but sunny, Sunday afternoon watching the cold war Oberon Class submarine, HMCS Ojibwa, making its way through Lock 3 on its way to the Elgin Military Museum of Naval History.

Two hundred and ninety five foot long and five storeys high, the Ojibwa was the first submarine built expressly for the Royal Canadian Navy. Once it reaches its final resting place at the Elgin Military Museum, she will be resting on four pads of concrete, each four feet thick, containing a total of 400 cubic meters of concrete and 36 steel piles embedded 120 feet into the ground.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday

Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that is designed to provide some much-appreciated exposure to the bloggers participating, and to expand their following. Hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, each of whom feature a chosen blog for the week, it's an interesting way to get to know one another.

Question of the Week: Books are turned into movies all the time! Turn it around. What movie would make a great book?

Well, with a 16-month old in the house it's been a while since I've been to the movies, so I'm going to take some liberties with the question and go with TV shows. I'd love to see somebody write new 'episodes' of Terra Nova, Nowhere Man, Brisco County, Twin Peaks, or MacGyver in novel format.

Parajunkee also hosts a Social Hop for Facebook and Twitter, which I regularly take part in. So, if you're one of those people who aren't on Blogger, or who just don't like Google Friend Connect, it's a great way to keep in touch and follow one another.

Book of Death by S. Evan Townsend (REVIEW)

Mixing genres is always a dangerous literary exercise, more often prone to disaster than to success, and the more distinct the genres, the more volatile the mixture is bound to be. With the notable exceptions of Brian Lumley and F. Paul Wilson, very few authors have managed to successfully merge a historical spy thriller with the supernatural. So, with that in mind, I was curious about the Book of Death . . . but also more than a little cautious.

Fortunately, S. Evan Townsend keeps the camp low and the adventure high, managing to tell a tale that intrigues even as it entertains.

On the one side of the tale we have a decent spy thriller laced with some military adventure. It all begins with a covert investigation of a seemingly innocuous Communist ball bearing plant that just happens to be in close proximity to the castle of Vlad Dracul. On the other side of the tale we have a solid horror story laced with vampires and dark magic. As if Dracula himself weren’t enough, Townsend works in a guild of necromancers to add some thrills and chills.

While I would have preferred either a clear declaration of the villain early on, or a bit more mystery as to his identity, the melodramatic foreshadowing does fit with the tale. Overall, I quite liked the style of Townsend’s writing, and the way in which he pays narrative homage to both genres. The pacing is strong, the action well-choreographed, and the gadgets well-balanced with the gore. There’s a slow unveiling of Peter’s back-story, rounding out his character quite nicely, and the plot is significantly more complicated than I expected it to be – even with the CIA and FBI involved.

I was hoping for something different with Book of Death, and I'm pleased to say it delivered.



S. Evan Townsend has been called 'America's Unique Speculative Fiction Voice.' Evan is a writer living in central Washington State. After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives with his wife and has three grown sons. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel.

You can check him out at:

Website: www.sevantownsend.com
Blog: http://sevantownsend.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @SEvanTownsend
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/S-Evan-Townsend/120699138076862
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/Yx9cFijsA8Q
Series Trailer: http://youtu.be/KDynSa08pe8

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday - Elsewhens by Melanie Rawn

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

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Elsewhens by Melanie Rawn

Touchstone, the magical theater troupe, continues to build audiences. But Cayden is increasingly troubled by his “elsewhens,” the uncontrolled moments when he is plunged into visions of the possible futures. He fears that his Fae gift will forever taint his friendships; his friends fear that his increasing distance will destroy him.     

But worldly success follows them—an apparent loss in the Trials leads to Touchstone being selected to travel to the Continent with a Royal Embassy to collect Prince Ashgar’s new bride. They are the first theater artists to appear outside Albeyn for at least seventy years—for magic is suspect and forbidden elsewhere, and the Kingdom’s easy race mixing and magic use horrifies the people they are to travel among. (Feb 19, 2013)

With Touchstone coming out in paperback on Christmas eve, it looks like I may just have a chance to get caught up before this second instalment hits stores.

Traitor Angel by H. David Blalock (INTERVIEW)

Good morning all. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to H. David Blalock, who has stopped by for a brief interview to help promote his latest release, Traitor Angel - the second book of the Angekiller Triad.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to stop by today, David. For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet checked out the Angelkiller Triad, please tell us a little about yourself.

A: My standard answer is “I write stuff.” That gets old after a while, so I'll answer “I write things.” I started writing at a very young age and publishing shortly thereafter, about 30 years shortly thereafter. I have spent the majority of my life in the Southern US, although I did live for almost a decade in the Republic of Panama where I met and married my wife and both of my children were born. Upon my return to the States, I found that little had changed but me. I had a different way of looking at life after living in the third world. It gave me a broadened perspective that helped me develop as a writer.

Q: A broadened perspective, indeed! The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?

A: I began writing long before there were computers other than those at universities that took up entire rooms to accomplish the simplest tasks. My first hand held calculator, which I bought in 1974, was three quarters the size of an adding machine (if anyone today knows what that is). So it is that I still write longhand and eventually transfer the work to computer. When did I begin writing? I wrote my first short story when I was seven years old. My first publication was in 1971 and I thought it was odd to see it in print. It turned out to be a fluke, however, as my next publication wasn't until 1997. Mundane life, in the form of work and family, had intervened.

Q. Did you choose to deliberately immerse yourself in 'genre' fiction because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?

A: Not all my works are genre, but I prefer writing speculative fiction. The audience allows you more freedom to express your inner frustrations and bizarre ideas.

Q: For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?

A: Writing itself. There are times when I cannot find the energy to write at all. Then, there are times when I can do nothing else. It's annoying and disturbing both ways.

Q: I get that. Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated. Has a twist or turn in your writing ever surprised you, or really challenged your original plans?

A: I find unruly characters to be extremely mortal. I usually avoid that particular pitfall by planning the story from beginning to end before starting the actual work, making a kind of outline. If the characters stray from that outline, I drop the story and start on something else. The result is I have fewer and fewer unfinished works, but the skeletons still reside in the filing cabinets.

Q: Is there a favourite quote or scene from your work that you feel particularly fond of? Maybe a line or two that sticks in your head and reminds you of why writing is important to you?

A: I seldom reread my own work, so there really isn't anything in particular I have become married to. Once a piece is finished and sent to the publisher, unless he/she wants an edit, I forget about it and move on to the next project. It's part of that “have to write” problem.

Q: When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?

A: I never think of how a reader will react beyond writing to evoke a particular emotion. I write to instill emotion in the reader. In that way, I suppose my work is a kind of poetry, about which I know very little except it's supposed to create emotion as well.

Q: In terms of reader reactions, what is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've ever encountered?

A: I get very little feedback from readers. In fact, in the last 35 years I think I've had no more than a handful of letters, so I can't address that. However, reviews have run the gamut from “avoid this book” to “very interesting”. I try to read all the reviews to see if I have accomplished what I set out to do with a particular work.

Q: One of the things that I’ve always found unique about Seventh Star Press is the illustrations they incorporate into the books. How much input do you have into those illustrations, and how do you think they influence the reader?

A: I work closely with Matt Perry, but I haven't had a single instance in which his instinct for illustration didn't perfectly convey the idea behind the passage we agree on. He has an unusually perceptive ability and a great artistic talent.

Q: It's nice when talents mesh so well. Is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who just refreshes your literary batteries?

A: Heinlein, Clarke, Bradbury ... most of the science fiction writers of the early and middle 20th century stand out, although the writers of the last part of the 19th also hold my interest, especially men like Bierce and Lord Dunsany. I had the great honor of meeting Ramsey Campbell a couple of years ago. His work influenced me in many ways.

Q: When you're not writing (or reading, for that matter), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you busy?

A: I am an inveterate gamer. I began gaming as a youngster with the strategic board games of the 60s and have never stopped. I find board games like chess and backgammon relaxing while online games are fascinating and entertaining.

Q: Assuming you had total creative control over the production, who would you cast as the leading roles, were the Angelkiller Triad to be made into a movie trilogy?

A: I really haven't given that much thought. My problem with that would be that, although I love movies, most of what I watch is hopelessly outdated. I seldom go to the theater and get most of my movies from rental outfits. I don't follow particular actors, as I am more interested in the stories than the actors' names.

Q: That's a fair answer - too bad more directors didn't take that approach. Is there a particular theme or message you're expecting readers to take away from your work?

A: Each work is different. For the Angelkiller Triad, I would like people to walk away with a feeling of hope in the face of the terrible events and disheartening atmosphere they might face every day, to know that there is a Greater Force at work in the background tirelessly pushing to make things better.

Q: Finally, before we let you go, what can we look forward to from you next? Are you hard at work on the next volume of the Angelkiller Triad, or is there perhaps a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?

A: I am working on the final book, Doom Angel, as well as another novel for a different publisher and several short stories for multiple anthologies. I also edit parABnormal Digest for Sam's Dot Publications of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, so that keeps me busy as well. My plate is quite full.

Thanks again for joining us, David!

Thank you for letting my connect with your audience. If they would like to know more about my work, I invite everyone to visit my homesite at www.thrankeep.com and watch my Facebook page.



H. David Blalock has been writing speculative fiction for nearly 40 years. His work has appeared in print and online in over three dozen publications, spanning every format from short stories to novels, non-fiction articles to screenplays.

He is also editor of _parABnormal Digest_ for Sam's Dot Publishing.

To find out more visit his Website at www.thrankeep.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Writer.HDavidBlalock.


Traitor Angel by H. David Blalock

In Traitor Angel, the second book of the Angelkiller Triad,  the war between The Army of Light and The Enemy continues behind the scenes. Unknown to the general population, the battle for control of humanity is heating up.

Jonah Mason, called Angelkiller, faces more than one decision. His Army resistance cell is wounded physically and emotionally, on the brink of falling apart. The mysterious allies calling themselves Knights are pressuring him to abandon his people. Meanwhile, the world outside draws closer to Armageddon.

As Mason and his friends pursue their campaign against Dorian Azrael's global megacorporation, Andlat Enterprises, the stakes get higher with each desperate foray into the enemy's computers. They are fated to lose one of their number and gain an unlikely ally, but any advantage they gain could be fleeting at best.

If they fail, it could mean the end of The Army and all resistance to the forces of Darkness.