STACKING THE SHELVES, VOL. 34

sTACKING THE sHELVES

Stacking the Shelves over at Tynga’s Reviews is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, whether it be physically or virtually. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

border

the empty onesThe Empty Ones by Robert Brockway 

Genre: Horror – Urban Fantasy

Series: The Vicious Circuit #2

Publisher: Tor (August 30, 2015)

Author Information: Website | Twitter 

Length: 288 pages

 

1977 was a bad year for Carey: The NYC summer was brutally hot, he barely made rent on his apartment, and most of his friends were butchered by a cult that worships the quantum angel he helped give birth to. He needs a vacation. You know where there’s supposed to be a killer punk scene? London. Oh, plus the leader of the aforementioned murderous cult is building an army there in an attempt to solve the world, once and for all. Time to mix business with pleasure. Along the way, maybe he’ll make some friends that won’t try to kill him, or even meet a nice girl who eats angels for supper and can kick a man in half. 1978 is looking better already…

2013 was a bad year for Kaitlyn, too: LA was distinctly unkind to her aspirations towards a career in stunt work, she hooked up with her childhood crush—a B-list celebrity heartthrob named Marco—and he turned out to be an immortal psychopath trying to devour her soul, and she accidentally killed the angel Marco and his bizarre cult worshipped. Now she’s on the run through the American Southwest. She heard Marco’s filming a new show in Mexico, though, so all she has to do is cross the border, navigate a sea of acidic sludge monsters, and find a way to kill an unkillable monster before he sacrifices her and her friends to his extra-dimensional god. Nobody said a career in the entertainment industry would be easy.

Following on the heels of his hilarious and horrifying novel The Unnoticeables, Robert Brockway’s The Empty Ones is like any good punk band: just when you think it can’t get any louder, they somehow turn it up a notch. It’s terrifying and hilarious, visceral and insane, chaotic and beautiful.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

border

the dark talentThe Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy — Middle Grades/Young Adult

Series: Alcatraz #5

Publisher: Starscape (September 6, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 304 pages

 

Alcatraz Smedry has successfully defeated the army of Evil Librarians and saved the kingdom of Mokia. Too bad he managed to break the Smedry Talents in the process. Even worse, his father is trying to enact a scheme that could ruin the world, and his friend, Bastille, is in a coma. To revive her, Alcatraz must infiltrate the Highbrary–known as The Library of Congress to Hushlanders–the seat of Evil Librarian power. Without his Talent to draw upon, can Alcatraz figure out a way to save Bastille and defeat the Evil Librarians once and for all?

Purchase the book at Amazon.

border

everfairEverfair by Nisi Shawl

Genre: Alternate History / Historical Fantasy / Steampunk

Series: Stand Alone 

Publisher: Tor (September 6, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter 

Length: 384 pages

 

Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Fabian Socialists from Great Britian join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo’s “owner,” King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.

Shawl’s speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Posted in Stacking the Shelves | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

FRIDAY FACE-OFF: THRONES

friday-face-off

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new weekly meme hosted by Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.

This week’s theme is: “I sit here looking out at all I own”- a cover featuring a ‘throne’.  This made me look back into the past for a pick I am hoping no one else thougth of.


COVER A

diamond throne 1

COVER B

DIAMOND THRONE 2

COVER C

DIAMOND THRONE 3

COVER D

DIAMOND THRONE 4

COVER E

DIAMOND THRONE 5

COVER F

DIAMOND THRONE 6

AND THE WINNER IS . . .

drumroll

This was a tough pick for me.  Long years ago, I enjoyed David Eddings, read all his novels, and loved Cover B.  After looking at lots of covers for this post though, I find myself drawn to Cover A; the fantastical nature of the illustration drawing me in.

diamond throne 1

Which would you choose?  Why?

And, why not join in next week with your own selections.

Posted in Friday Face-Off | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

GUEST POST: P.H. SOLOMON

authorspotlight

 

Today, I am very excited to host P.H. Solomon, author of the The Bow of Hart Saga, to Bookwraiths. His debut novel, The Bow of Destiny, is an epic fantasy in the classical style, which I was happy to review yesterday.  (You read the review, right?)  And Mr. Solomon is such a gracious guy he was nice enough to write a guest post for all of us.  So enjoy!

border

 

Of Withlings and Dualism

by

P.H. Solomon

 

The Bow of Destiny depicts conflict between good and evil as is common in epic fantasy. But what is not specifically in the series to this point is the basis of the 080916_1940_AWildNightR1.jpgconflict. While my prequel short story, What Is Needed, shows something of the conflict in the demise of most of the mystic order of Withlings, the conflict is much older. But to better grasp this history for the book, an understanding of Withlings is necessary which introduces basic viewpoints of characters – including those who hold greater power in the world of Denaria.

Withlings are mystics who worship and serve the deity of Eloch. By the practice of their faith, Withlings are able to perform miracles such as healing, move from place to place or utter very accurate prophecies. These are but a few examples of Withlings’ abilities but these are not dependent upon their inherent powers but those of Eloch. The frequent saying among Withlings is, “What is needed is given.” This means that they trust Eloch implicitly to provide what they need at any moment which can include miraculous actions. Often, Withlings will speak – or not – based on their sense of what Eloch wants them to do.

So, Withlings must practice mystical ability to “be with” Eloch in order to know what they must do. Withlings consider this a form of “listening” and it becomes the basis of their life. Sometimes, they may know much but be withheld from taking any action, something very hard to do and a reason they practice mystic discipline.

To Withlings, there is only Eloch as the true deity and it seems to be so. However, there is also the dragon Magdronu. What does not come into this series are the details of how Magdronu came into conflict with Eloch and how he got the worst end of that conflict to be cursed into the form of a dragon.

Magdronu takes actions that are often typical for an “evil” character. However, he considers himself to be a dualistic counter-point to Eloch, a co-equal deity who has been kept from his natural prime position in the world as light and dark ebbs and grows. So to Magdronu, his conflict with Eloch arises from being withheld from taking his true place and that everything is out of balance as a consequence. To Magdronu, he must rise at some point and he seems “evil” but this is really just his nature and is no less valid than “good” on the part of Eloch.

So while Magdronu sees himself kept out of the balance of nature, he is stuck in a position of being cursed and unable to gain his prime position. Thus Magdronu must find a way to rise through the force of his will and the use of his magic. To this end, Magdronu sees Withlings as a force that thwarts him and he has tried to wipe them out as a way to gain influence.

But the question remains, how is Eloch able to hinder Magdronu so thoroughly? Thus we end up with a dwindling order of mystics, a prophecy against Magdronu, a mythic bow and someone intended to possess and use the Bow of Hart. Such is the background for the main character, Athson, who must discover his destiny.

Want to discover more about The Bow of Destiny? Here’s a list of other interviews and appearances I’ve made both on blogs and internet radio shows.

Internet Radio Shows:

Beyond the Cover on Rave Waves

The Magic Happens

Speculative Fiction Cantina

Also here are a few recent blog appearances:

The Thursday Interview

Bookwraiths: Tuesday Teaser

And one of my favorites on C. S. Boyack’s Lisa Burton Radio (which is actually a great blog series).

Where you can find the book:

Amazon

BarnesandNoble Smashwords

ibooksdownload Kobo

IMG_4154-EditAbout the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

Join my social circle: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Pinterest | Google + | Wattpad | Amazon Author

Posted in Author Spotlights, Epic, Fantasy, Guest Post | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

INDIE WEDNESDAY –THE BOW OF DESTINY

Indie-Wednesday

Along my reading journey, I’ve made a conscious decision to not only read the books on the shelves at my local Barnes & Nobles store, or online at Amazon, but to also try self-published, or indie, works as often as I can.

Now, I know several of you are snickering in the background or rolling your eyes at my idiot crusade to bring a few good indie works to light. And, believe me, I understand why you’d do that. Several years into this, I have to admit that I’ve probably stopped reading more indie faire than I’ve finished, but those that did keep my attention were — or had the potential to be — above average stories, and I’d like to occasionally share those few in the hope that you might also discover them.

So without any Stephen King disclaimers (Read my review of The Dark Tower Book VII to get the joke), let me introduce you to P.H. Solomon’s The Bow of Hart Saga!

 

border

 

the bow of destinyThe Bow of Destiny by P.H. Solomon

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Bow of Hart #1 

Publisher: Self Published (September 28, 2015)

Author Info: Website | Twitter

Length: 302 pages

My Rating: 3 stars

 

P.H. Solomon’s book was one I initially overlooked last year.  However, after being introduced to it through a blog tour, then enjoying Mr. Solomon’s two prequel short stories,  I was intrigued enough to want to see where he was going with this story and hoping it would be exactly what the doctor ordered to satisfy my classic fantasy craving.  And while I had a few issues with the narrative, overall, it was a very solid debut with room to grow into a fan favorite.

As the tale begins, we are introduced to Athson; a young man haunted by a tragic past.  His family lost to him in a horrible massacre.  His trauma from the experience a lingering curse, one which cripples him with psychotic episodes where his dead family appears to him, speaks to him, and he answers them.  The past and the present inseparable to his mind. And though the elves Heth and Cireena lovingly reared him, and though his close friend and fellow ranger Gweld always is there for him, it is only the potion dubbed Soul’s-ease which stops Athson’s fits from completely overwhelming him.

On this occasion, our young ranger is on a solo scouting mission when he realizes he has left the ranger station without his potion.  The phantasms quickly materializing before his eyes, demanding answers, offering advice, and refusing to leave him be.  So when an unknown visitor comes to Athson’s campsite, he isn’t quite sure if this person is real or imagined.  But when a package is left for him and it turns out to be very real, Athson is amazed by how the bow string and message inside changes his whole life!

Not knowing exactly what to expect from The Bow of Destiny, I have to say it was a pleasant surprise.  Definitely, it is a traditional quest-type tale with lots of traveling, introduction of new characters, and the inevitable formation of a quest group — with all the personal dynamics which go along with strangers coming together to accomplish a mission.  But Mr. Solomon has put his own unique twist on this sort of epic fantasy, which causes Bow to stand apart from other stories of its kind.

The main strength of this narrative is the unique character of Athson.  His psychotic episodes, where he interacts with apparitions from his past after missing a few doses of Soul’s-ease, are exceedingly well crafted.  The very realistic look at a person attempting to live a normal life while dealing with a mental health issue quite refreshing.  Athson is no chosen one or superhuman by any account.  Yes, he has a mission, a quest, but his time is spent dealing with his personal issues.  If he doesn’t take his potion at the correct times his “fits” begin again, but real life gets in the way of him always managing his medication properly: he is running for his life, dealing with horrendous events, or just hopes that this time when he stops the visions will finally disappear forever.All of it making our protagonist uniquely human and exceedingly compelling.

Mr. Solomon also does an excellent job of juggling all the narrative elements without allowing any one of them to overwhelm the others.  There is lots of world building going on throughout, numerous background lore about people, places, and things.  The environment around our characters is described in loving detail; atmosphere created.  Emotions are conveyed, feelings shared, and motives shaped.  And while all of this is going on, the journey itself races along from adventure to adventure, as Mr. Solomon never takes his foot off the accelerator for long, keeping this fantasy racing toward its conclusion.

The only complaints I had with the novel revolved around certain story telling devices Mr. Solomon used.  For instance, there are frequent changes in point-of-view characters throughout the narrative.  These shifts sudden, jarring at times.  No break in the narrative to alert you that a new character is at the helm.  Many times, I would not realize a new character was speaking until later in the scene, something which did bother me.  Also, the way certain people would appear in the story, be built up as important, then totally disappear for chapters at the time (other than their name being mentioned) did bother me.  I enjoy becoming emotionally engaged with characters — even minor characters — so to have new faces pique my interest then vanish was a bit of a letdown for me personally.

All in all, The Bow of Destiny was a good book, which set the table for an interesting story going forward.  I can see many readers thoroughly enjoying this fast-paced, quest narrative with its flawed main character in Athson; it definitely is a mixture of the classic fantasy past with new ideas mixed in.  And look at that cover, guys.  You have to admit that is one of the best fantasy covers you’ve seen lately.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Posted in 3 Stars, Epic, Fantasy, Indie Wednesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY — THE EMPTY ONES

waiting-on-wednesday_1
Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to let readers share their excitement for books coming out soon, and the novel I’m eagerly awaiting is . . .

border

the empty onesThe Empty Ones by Robert Brockway 

Genre: Horror – Urban Fantasy

Series: The Vicious Circuit #2

Publisher: Tor (August 30, 2015)

Author Information: Website | Twitter 

Length: 288 pages

 

1977 was a bad year for Carey: The NYC summer was brutally hot, he barely made rent on his apartment, and most of his friends were butchered by a cult that worships the quantum angel he helped give birth to. He needs a vacation. You know where there’s supposed to be a killer punk scene? London. Oh, plus the leader of the aforementioned murderous cult is building an army there in an attempt to solve the world, once and for all. Time to mix business with pleasure. Along the way, maybe he’ll make some friends that won’t try to kill him, or even meet a nice girl who eats angels for supper and can kick a man in half. 1978 is looking better already…

2013 was a bad year for Kaitlyn, too: LA was distinctly unkind to her aspirations towards a career in stunt work, she hooked up with her childhood crush—a B-list celebrity heartthrob named Marco—and he turned out to be an immortal psychopath trying to devour her soul, and she accidentally killed the angel Marco and his bizarre cult worshipped. Now she’s on the run through the American Southwest. She heard Marco’s filming a new show in Mexico, though, so all she has to do is cross the border, navigate a sea of acidic sludge monsters, and find a way to kill an unkillable monster before he sacrifices her and her friends to his extra-dimensional god. Nobody said a career in the entertainment industry would be easy.

Following on the heels of his hilarious and horrifying novel The Unnoticeables, Robert Brockway’s The Empty Ones is like any good punk band: just when you think it can’t get any louder, they somehow turn it up a notch. It’s terrifying and hilarious, visceral and insane, chaotic and beautiful.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Posted in Waiting on Wednesday | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

THE MALICE

the maliceThe Malice by Peter Newman

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic / Fantasy

Series: The Vagrant #2  

Publisher:  Harper Voyager (April 21, 2015)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length:  400 pages

My Rating: 3.5 stars
The Vagrant was a revelation in 2015. Peter Newman perfectly blending fantasy, sci-fi, and post-apocalyptic themes into a page turning affair. The advanced technology and sky ships, guns and sentient swords, demons and god-like beings, knights and goats thrilling lovers of this type of speculative fiction. All of it told in a lyrical style which caused The Vagrant to bring to mind the ancient myth whispered around the campfires by Homer-like epic poet long ago. And when The Malice offered me a chance to return to this awe-inspiring place with its ravaged wastelands and pristine Shining City, I knew I was in for a thrilling ride

This tale picks up several years after the book’s one conclusion. The babe, Vesper, has grown to a young woman in the protected lands near the Shining City. Her fathers (The Vagrant and his partner Harm) have settled down to a peaceful and dull existence outside the Shining City, raising food and rearing a ever growing herd of goats, spawned by The Goat herself who practically stole the spotlight in book one. But now the Malice, Gamma’s sword is stirring again. Its constant demons to be picked back up and wielded against the demonic hordes ignored by the Vagrant, who puts it away, hoping its eye will close and never open again.

But the Malice will not be denied its clash with its eternal enemies. And when the Vagrant ignores it, another is found to take his place: young Vesper, who takes the sword, beginning a journey which takes her back to the Breach itself. Her path taking her to places her father once visited, encountering people he once met, and dealing with evil he knew – and even greater evil which he did not.

That is not all that is going on here though. Much like The Vagrant, Peter Newman has a separate story taking palace alongside the main one. This time it is flashbacks to a time a thousand years in the past. Readers introduced to a world before the creation of the Empire of the Winged Eye. The main character there embarking on her own journey of discovery, much like Vesper, but one which will take her to a far different place with much different results – some good and some bad.

Any betting man would have wagered I would have fallen in love with The Malice. I mean, not only did I love book one, but all the elements I adored there were back with a vengeance for this second installment of the series. However, though I really enjoyed and had lots of fun revisiting this amazing post-apocalyptic world, I did not like it quite as well as I did The Vagrant. A few things just kept me from losing myself in its embrace.

First, we have a whole new cast of characters. The Vagrant and Harm do make brief guest appearances at the beginning and the end of the tale, but this is Vesper’s show to carry or drop, and she has big shoes to fill here, for the Vagrant is an amazing character, one which comes around only every so often; his muteness, his expressiveness, and his tortured dignity causing him to be on par with other great post-apocalyptic characters such as Stephen King’s Roland Deschain in my eyes. And as this tale starts, Vesper just cannot compete at all with him. Her teenage angst, child-like naivete, insuppressible enthusiasm, and mind-numbing decisions making it difficult to tolerate her, much less love her. Yes, she does eventually get better; the situations she encounters maturing her, helping her gain better insight so as to make hard decisions; all of it combining to transform her into an okay character, but she is not great like the Vagrant, which causes another problem.

For me, the Vagrant and his personal reactions to the world is what brought book one to life. How Mr. Newman was able to do such through only the Vagrant’s expressions, hand signals, and one way conversations with those he encountered is still a complete mystery to me, but that is what happened. And our protagonist’s interactions in the stark, monotone wastelands with its unique survivors and horrific demons was what caused them to stand out, not blend together. But here Vesper does not have the strength of character to accomplish the same thing, and so places and things which shined brightly under the Vagrant’s steady glare fade under her less compelling observations.

Unfortunately, Vesper does not even have compelling co-stars to come to her aid as things begin to unravel. Samael, Duet, and the kid (a baby Goat) are unique, have their own individual personalities and motives, but they are not comparable to the cast which surrounded the Vagrant – especially The Goat herself, whose antics were terribly missed here.

Thankfully, two things propped this story up, kept it from deflating under my weight of expectations. The first being the demonic cast of characters. We have several returning faces from book one, but they are joined by other infernals like The Yearning, Gutterface, The Backwards Child and Hangnail. Each of them, their alien thoughts, and the strange dance they do with one another as well as the Malice and Vesper is an organic and interesting progression from where things were during book one. The second (and, for me, probably the most important) was the secondary plot line interspersed throughout the narrative, skipping back into time and showing the origins of the Empire of the Winged Eye and its amazing knights. Honestly, I could have read even more about that than I did.

To sum it all up, The Malice is a fast-paced story which gives fans a return trip to Mr. Newman’s shiny post-apocalyptic world. New people are met; insidious demons arise; a singing sword awakens; and a quest is begun, even while the history of the world begins to take shape before our reading eyes. No, Vesper isn’t quite as dynamic a protagonist as the Vagrant, and only her limitations kept this book from standing out more to me, which is why I can’t rate it quite as high as its predecessor. Even with that being said, this is still a very strong installment from Peter Newman, giving fans hope that this is a series with the legs to last for quite some time.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Posted in 3 Stars, Cross-Genre, Post-apocalyptic, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

TOP TEN TUESDAY

TOP TEN TUESDAYS

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where a new top ten list hits the web every week!

This week our topic is …

Books That Have Been On My Shelf Since Before I Started Blogging That I STILL Haven’t Read Yet

We all have them.  The books we buy (or receive as gifts) which we never read.  Maybe, we have them because they are by an author we have enjoyed before.  Perhaps, these novels are from a series we’ve been following closely.  But, for whatever reason, these books are put up on a shelf (physical or virtual) then stay there, never looked at again.  For years.  In my case, decades.  It is a sad truth of life that there is never enough time to read all the great books out there, but even I didn’t realize how horrible my progress was until I started looking at my shelves for this post.  Now, I realize I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, or cleaning out to do, because I either have to read the books in this TOP TEN TUESDAY list or trade them in for something I will read.

the eyes of god10. The Bronze Knight by John Marco

In the early 2000s, I had just finished reading John Marco’s debut series, Tyrants and Kings, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so when I saw this new trilogy, I immediately purchased the opening installment.  I didn’t read it then, because I had a new baby and work which kept me busy.  I was determined to come back to it though.  I never have.  I still really want to.  Maybe, this year will be the year.  Or next year.  Sigh

 

 

talon of the silver hawk9. Riftwar Cycle by Raymond E. Feist

When I was a teenager in the 80s and 90s, Raymond E. Feist was right up there in the short list of my favorite fantasy authors.  Sure, Tolkien and few others were ahead of him, but I loved the Riftwar Saga and the first few follow-ups series.  Then it all came crashing down with my dislike of The Riftwar Legacy.  I know many people love that series, but I hated it.  However, because I had always enjoyed this author and this series, I kept getting every new book by Feist at every gift giving holidays for years to come, and I kept them, hoping that one day I’d come back to the series and rediscover my childhood love of it.  Still haven’t read any of these, but I have almost the complete Cycle sitting on my bookshelf — except for The Chaoswar Saga, which no one ever thought to purchase me.

blood & iron8. Timeline by Harry Turtledove

Harry Turtledove is an author I’ve been reading forever.  It started out with his fantasy endeavors like The Videssos Cycle and Gerin the Fox, then I followed him into the world of alternate history and sci-fi infused classics like The Guns of the South and Tosev.  I even enjoyed the opening trilogy of his Timeline series, The Great War, which focuses on an alternate timeline where the South won the American Civil War, but then I hit a wall with this follow-up trilogy, American Empire.  I bought all the remaining novels in the series though.  My intention . . . Yeah, you’ve heard me say it several times already.  I’m really going to read it.  Just not sure when.

 

winter's heart7. Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

During the 90s, I lived and breathed Wheel of Time.  It was, by far, my favorite fantasy series going.  Sure, I enjoyed George R.R. Martin’s new series, A Song of Ice and Fire, but I had lived WoT for a decade, and I had to know how it all ended.  Then those really long, boring (They were to me anyway) WoT books began to drop from Jordan.  I was confused, frustrated, and finally I got angry.  I determined I would not buy this water-downed excuse for an epic fantasy anymore until he stopped dragging the damn thing out already.  Well, eventually, he did get back on course, and with his death, Brandon Sanderson finished things off.  I bought all the books.  But I am now too intimidated by having to reread the series to actually open any of them.

the demon awakes6. The Demon Wars Saga by R.A. Salvatore

In 1996, I wouldn’t call myself a huge Salvatore fan.  Sure, I liked Drizzt in The Icewind Dale trilogy, but I didn’t like the follow-up The Dark Elf Trilogy very much.  What I did like was the fast-paced, swashbuckling style of Salvatore’s writing.  Nope, he wasn’t sending shockwaves through the fantasy genre with his trope subverting plots or social justice narratives; he was entertaining lots of people though; readers who were looking for a traditional, D & D infused, action-oriented story that didn’t take thirteen, eight hundred page books to tell and didn’t drag out over decades and decades like Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin’s masterpieces. So I bought this whole series, looking forward to sitting down and binge reading it.  Hasn’t happened yet.

fortress in the eye of time5. Fortress by C.J. Cherryh

Growing up in the 80s and 90s (I was in college and graduate school most of the 90s.), Cherryh was one of my favorite fantasy authors.  I did not read everything she wrote, and I can’t say I read any of her sci-fi stuff, but the fantasy novels she penned (Those I was fortunate enough to get my hands on.) I loved.  So when I saw this book in the mid 90s, I instantly bought it, then purchased the sequels which followed: all four of them.  But I have yet to read a single one of them.  Why?  No idea, but after two decades sitting unread on my bookshelf, I think it is time to give them a try or let someone else have an opportunity to enjoy them

 

the eye of the hunter4. Mithgar by Dennis L. McKiernan

The series which began with a near copy of The Lord of the Rings in The Iron Tower trilogy slowly progressed until it was a fine fantasy which could stand on its own.  Sure, Mithgar novels can be labeled comfort food for the fantasy reader, or whatever other term you’d like, but for those who enjoy the classic, traditional, Tolkien-esque fantasy, there is nothing better to satisfy your appetite for a return to less stressful days.  And I have to admit loving ever minute of my time in this place.  The Silver Call duology was a great sequel to The Iron Tower; Dragondoom was a fine fantasy standalone which dealt with racism; and Tales of Mithgar was an enjoyable short story collection.  So every time another Mithgar novel came out, it found its way onto my bookshelf.  And, yes, I will read them eventually.

nemesis3. Indigo by Louise Cooper

In the late 80s, I devoured several of this author’s books: the Time Master series and Mirage being personal favorites.  They reminded me of Michael Moorcock in more than just their covers.  The atmosphere and vibe they gave off was pure sword and sorcery weirdness with more than a little teen angst and teen romance thrown in.  They might be labeled Young Adult now.  But after my brief fling with Cooper’s writing, I lost track of her until 1998-99 when I bought this whole series at a used bookstore, hoping to rekindle a bit of the old passion for her written word.  Don’t start shaking your head.  It still might happen.

The Scions of Shannara2. Shannara by Terry Brooks

Like almost all fantasy fans in the 80s, I read the original Shannara trilogy.  My feelings were mixed even then.  I mean, yes, I recognized the stories were fairly generic fantasy, but I enjoyed them in spite of all that.  Comfort food again, if you’d like to label it.  (Though we aren’t suppose to label people or things these days, are we?)  Anyway, when the new series The Heritage of Shannara was released throughout the 1990s, followed in the 2000s by Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, I bought them.  Hell, I even bought the next series.  The High Druid of Shannara, I think it was titled?  Haven’t bought any since, but I have a lot of Shannara on the shelf that I need to get to or get rid of.

 

1. Melaine Rawn

I’ve been buying Ms. Rawn’s books ever since she hit the fantasy scene with Dragon Prince back in 1988.  I enjoyed that novel enough to buy the next book and the next until almost three decades later I’ve “collected” almost all her fantasy offerings without ever reading any of them.

Why have I kept buying them if I never read them?  I honestly don’t know.  A habit, I guess.  A hope that eventually I’ll get around to them, and they will be wonderful.   None of my reasons ring true, even in my own ears.

What have I learned by doing this post, you ask?  Something very important actually.   It appears I am a book hoarder.  Is there a cure for that?

 

Posted in Top Ten Tuesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

FUNDAY MONDAY, OR THE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP ME SURVIVE THE WEEK AHEAD (AUGUST 22, 2016)

funday-monday

The work week begins. I quickly slip into my business suit and head back into the office to save a few innocent people. But while I try to fool myself into being excited about the grind, deep down, I’m not, so I’m going to escape dreary reality by reading some great books.

I’ve been doing great ever since the kiddies went back to school.  Going to try to keep the streak going this week by finishing a novel I started a few months ago but lost my way with and finally read a a book I’ve been wanting to get to for a while now.

border

LEVIATHAN'S BLOODLeviathan’s Blood by Ben Peek

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Children Trilogy #2

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (May 31, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter 

Length: 448 pages

At the end of The Godless, Mireea lay in ruins, the dead of the city had risen as ghosts, and the keepers Fo and Bau had been slain by Zaifyr.

The Mireeans have now fled to the city of Yeflam with the immortal Zaifyr in chains to barter for their safety. With the threat of war arriving at the Floating Cities, Zaifyr’s trial will become the center of political games. However, Zaifyr is intent on using his trial to begin a new war, a motive that many fear is an echo of the dangerous man he once was. Ayae, a young girl cursed with the gift of fire, sees a chance to learn more of her powers here in the floating city, but she is weighed down by her new responsibilities regarding the safety of the Mireean people.

Across the far ocean, exiled Baron Bueralan and cartographer Orlan have arrived in the city of Ooila with some chilling cargo: the soul of a dead man. As the two men are accepted into the city’s court, they are pulled ever deeper into the Queen’s web of lies and deceit. All the while, a rumor begins to spread of a man who has come ashore, whose seemingly innocent presence threatens them all.

PURCHASE THE BOOK AT AMAZON.

border

the crimson campaignThe Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan

Genre: Fantasy — Flintlock

Series: Powder Mage #2

Publisher:  Orbit (May 6, 2014)

Author Information: Website | Twitter 

Length:  608 pages

When invasion looms… Tamas’s invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies, and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy’s best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god, Kresimir.

But the threats are closer to home…
In Adro, Inspector Adamat wants only to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers will lead Adamat on a darker journey.

Who will lead the charge?
Tamas’s generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught, and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye. With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself as the last line of defense against Kresimir’s advancing army.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Posted in Funday Monday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SWAMP THING, VOL. 1: RAISE THEM BONES

guest-post2Today, I’m happy to have my son, Connor, return to the blog for yet another of his graphic novel reviews.  Thankfully, he was able to tear himself away from his busy schedule (Middle school is a horrible time drain.) to give his thoughts on an older graphic novel that he read after spending far too much time this weekend replaying Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes with his younger brother. border


swamp thing 1
Swamp Thing, Vol. 1: Raise Them Bones
 by Scott Snyder

Genre: Superhero Comics

Series: Swamp Thing #1 (New 52)

Publisher: DC Comics (August 28, 2012)

Author Information: Twitter

Length: 168 pages

Connor’s Rating: 3 stars

 

When I play Lego Batman 2 with my little brother sometimes (Yeah, I have to play video games with him at times.  Thanks, for that, dad.), I try to play different heroes.  Weird ones.  Cool ones.  Ones I’ve never heard of.  We have collected a lot of different guys in the game, so it is pretty easy to always get someone new to try out.  The weirdest of them all is Swamp Thing.  I got to thinking I’d like to read one of his books, so I found this older ones at the library and gave it a try.

swamp thing 2

My brothers always tell me I explain things too much and make too much of things, so let me try to get the point about this story.  There is a guy named Alec Holland who died in a swamp, but the plants named “The Green” refused to let this man die.  They saved him, but with a price.  The Green making him Swamp Thing.  Now, years later, the Green takes the curse away from him, but he still hears the plants screaming at him to come back and save them.

Weird, I know.

Not knowing anything about Swamp Thing, I was glad the book started out by telling me about Alec and the Green.  Can’t say I got it all, because I didn’t, but it did help a little.

swamp thing 3

 

I would say Swamp Thing was an okay book.  The story was alright, and that is what every person who reads a book tries to find.  Like I said earlier, I didn’t really get everything going on, but I got enough of it to want to finish.

As for the art by Yanick Paquette it was also pretty good.  Different but good.  A lot of green.  But green goes with the whole “The Green” thing.

The only part of the book I didn’t like was the violence.  There was a lot of it.  My dad said this was a book written for older teens and adults who loved the old Swamp Thing written by Alan Moore, so that was why the drawing were so graphically violent.  For once, dad is right, I guess, because I wish the artist had not made things so violent like that.

Well, I hope you liked the review, and I hope you give Swamp Thing a try.  You might like it even more than I did.

batman-V-superman-logoAbout Connor (In his dad’s words):

Connor is a preteen who enjoys graphic novels (DC Comics are preferred), superhero movies (Captain America is his favorite), watching episodes of The Flash, Arrow, Smallville and American Pickers as well as the NFL, NCAA football, and the NBA on t.v., will happily accept any and all caps (because you just can’t have too many caps), and whose favorite music revolves around pop favorites of the moment such as Cake by the Ocean (Clean version because dad is still alive) as well as anything by Fall Out Boy — except for the new Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid) song which Connor denies they were ever involved with.  And, no, Connor did not have any input into my paragraph about him.  Being a dad does have it’s privileges.  :)

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Posted in 3 Stars, DC, Graphic Novels, The New 52, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

KINGS OR PAWNS

kings or pawnsKings or Pawns by J.J. Sherwood

Genre: Fantasy – Epic

Series: The Kings #1

Publisher: Silver Helm (July 5, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 383 pages

My Rating: 3.5 stars

 

J.J. Sherwood introduces us to the elven Realm  of Sevrigel with her debut novel Kings or Pawns, conveying readers to a complex, diverse land where young King Hairem attempts to tame the corrupt political machinations of the capital city while his General Jikun strives to defeat the seemingly invincible forces of Lord Saebellus and his beast.   Their individual quests forcing them to brave tense council room intrigue, dabble with outlawed and soul destroying magic,  strive to trust one another, win unwinnable battles, and somehow find a way to hold their kingdom together when it appears to be unraveling before their eyes.

The main theme weaving throughout this narrative is one of trust.  Does young, idealistic King Hairem trust those around him?  The stuffy, arrogant, (and perhaps corrupted) council?  His blunt, jaded general?  The beautiful daughter of a political rival whom he believes he loves?  Or should he trust his own intuitions and break with the deeply held traditions of his people, forging a new way for all of them?

As for General Jikun, he must deal with a different form of trust, specifically his mistrust.  He did not trust King Hairem’s father, and, now, he doesn’t trust in his new liege, specifically his ability to control the seemingly compromised members of his government.  He doesn’t trust his closest confidant, Captain Navon, from practicing the dark arts of necromancy — for all the right reasons. He doesn’t trust the upbringing ingrained in him by his family in the icy tundra of far off Darival.  Hell, he doesn’t even trust himself to love his beloved Kaivervi.  And, most worrisome, he has no trust in his ability to defeat Lord Saebellus and his beast.

The key strength to this narrative is the characters.  Instantly, a reader will gain a feeling for who and what King Hairem and General Jikun are.  Their differing personalities quickly sketched out; their differences highlighted by a meeting at the beginning of the story.  The course of their individual journeys and their growing relationship organically grown throughout.  Above of all else, their motives drive them toward a single goal they can agree upon: the survival and resurrection of the Kingdom of Sevrigel.

I have to admit loving the world Sherwood has created here.  The amount of worldbuilding is immense.  Tiny details involving history, religion, politics, magic, and social customs littered about the narrative.  All of it surprisingly rich, Tolkien-esque, if you will, with differing cultures that felt real and with characters who were different, not just said to be different.  And other than a few info dumps in the first few chapters, the worldbuilding was craftily woven into the ongoing action and intrigue, seamlessly devoured without any noticing it was happening. The entirety of it the author achievement very impressive, as I feel I learned so much about this place without ever feeling distracted from the plot itself.

The main criticism I have with the novel is the lack of antagonists in the book.  Yes, Lord Saebellus is mentioned throughout, everyone saying what a total badass he and his beast are, but — except for a few prologue pages — we don’t see him at all until the end.  Rather, he is a ghostly presence in the background.  People say he should be feared.  People act as if he could destroy everyone and everything, but no one seems terribly worried about it until the last quarter of the book.  And even the assassins and centaurs (who also share the role of antagonists) are more lightning flashes of badness before they are quickly gone.  I totally understand the approach to keep the main villain in the background, build up the suspense before revealing him in all his dark glory, but here it did not work quite as well due to the lack of fear the main characters seemed to have for him.

J.J. Sherwood has gifted epic fantasy readers with a real treat in Kings or Pawns.  It is a well-built fantasy with complex characters, serious themes, adventure, action, and a richly, detailed world.  So, if you are looking for a new epic fantasy with the grand feel of The Lord of the Rings but with the swashbuckling excitement of Salvatore’s The Legend of Drizzt, you have found it in Kings or Pawns.  I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment in the series.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Posted in 3 Stars, Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments