A DRINK BEFORE WE DIE

A DRINK BEFORE WE DIEA Drink Before We Die by  Daniel Polansky

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Low Town #0.5

Publisher: Self Published (December 22, 2014)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 28 pages

My Rating: 4 stars

After enjoying The Builders, I was eager to read something else from Daniel Polansky, and his Low Town series kept being recommended to me.  But I held off giving it a try.  Mainly, because I wasn’t sure if it was for me.  Fantasy underworld meets hard-boiled detective tale was intriguing, but I’d burned out on Steven Brust’s fairyland meets mobster story Vlad Taltos series many years ago.

Well, eventually, I broke down and gave this Low Town short story a go.  (I mean, a .99 cent read is hard to turn down.)  Loved ever minute of it.  Wish I had tried it ages ago.  Polansky really pulled me in with his sarcastic, cunning, and badass Warden and the ghetto part of town he basically runs through reputation and clever use of persuasion and force.

To set thigns up, this short story is a straightforward mob war concoction, where a rival gang is attempting to move in on the Warden’s part of town, take over his cut of the drug trade, and eventually put him in the ground.  Naturally, this “consortium” tries to do it on the lowdown, but the thing is the Warden knows exactly what is going on and very methodically begins to put a scheme into effect which will ride him of his enemies without him having to do a whole hell of a lot.

Besides being one sweet fantasy crime piece, what really sold me on this story was Polansky’s sparse yet crisp writing; his very intimate first person narration taking me right into the head of his tough-as-nails lead.  I mean, who can resist a guy who introduces himself like this:

People call me the Warden.  People call me a lot of things, but the Warden is the only one you could say inside a church.

And the Warden’s description of Low Town, what it is all about, and his role in it was equally as compelling.

To get to Low Town you shuffle out of the gates of the palace and head south, over the Andel, down through Brennock and it’s iron foundries and stink, stopping just before you reach the docks. If you come, though, you might want to make sure you aren’t dressed too well, or wearing any jewelry, or have much money on you. And you might want to carry a knife, or a sword, or walk along in the company of a handful of men so equipped, or maybe more than a handful. Because the locals are unfriendly, unfriendly by the standards of an unfriendly city in an unfriendly world, and the local guard know better than to waste their time trying to police the place, like a doctor knows better than to bandage a corpse.

One more thing about Low Town—the most important thing, really, though you’d be shocked at how many of these argent-a-head thugs forget—it’s mine. The broken cobblestones and the graffitied walls and the shit-swollen canals, the silk-shirted pimps and the half-hard razor boys and the wyrm dealers and the crooked guards and even those few poor souls mad or foolish enough to try and eke out an honest living.

I can’t express why the Warden and Low Town clicked for me, but it did.  The criminal underworld.  The intrigue.  The violence.  The smartass remarks.  It all just worked for me.  And it caused me to finally pick up the novel Low Town and read it.  Unsurprisingly, I loved the book even more than this short story.  So I’d highly recommend A Drink Before We Die to all Polansky fans, Low Town lovers, or people who wonder if they might fit into either of those categories.

Purchase the story at Amazon

Posted in 4 Stars, Fantasy, Grimdark, Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE LOST SENTINEL BLOG TOUR

Today, I’m happy to participate in The Lost Sentinel Blog Tour. This is the second novel from Suzanne Rogerson, following her successful debut Visions of Zarua, and from all the glowing reviews it is garnering across the blogosphere, there is little doubt that Suzanne has delivered yet another outstanding fantasy, filled with magic, memorable characters, and a compelling world!  So open your mind and prepare to be tempted into adding yet another great fantasy read to your ever growing t-b-r list, my friends!

THE LOST SENTINEL COVER (1)

The magical island of Kalaya is dying, along with its Sentinel. With the Kalayan people turning their back on magic, can Tei help the exiles find their new Sentinel before it’s too late?

Kalaya is controlled by the Assembly – set up to govern but now under the control of Rathnor, who is intent on persecuting those who have magic, many of whom have taken refuge in the Turrak Mountains.

Tei has been raised to hide her magic, until her father, Migil, is visited by an old friend who warns them that they must seek refuge in the mountains.

On the journey, an enemy attack leaves her father mortally wounded. He sees her into the care of two exiles, Rike and Garrick, and on his deathbed makes a shocking confession that changes Tei’s life.

Tei must put her trust in these strangers, especially when mysterious Masked Riders seem determined to stop her reaching Turrak.

Struggling with self-doubt, Tei joins the exiles in their search for their lost Sentinel. But the Masked Riders want the Sentinel too, and time, as well as hope, is running out.
Can Tei help the exiles save the island magic and reunite the Kalayan people before their ignorance destroys them all?

Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads ‘To Read’ List!

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Want to learn more?  Check out the blog tour!

The Lost Sentinel Blog Tour Pic
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suzanne rogersonAbout the Author:

Suzanne lives in Middlesex with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.

She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.

Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

Connect with Suzanne: Website | Twitter | FB | Goodreads | Amazon | Insta

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Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Lost Sentinel
Series: Silent Sea Chronicles #1
Author: Suzanne Rogerson
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Magic
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 16 June 2017
Available Formats: eBook | Paperback
Pages: 473
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Posted in Author Spotlights, Self-Published | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

TYRANT’S THRONE

TYRANT'S THRONETyrant’s Throne by Sebastien de Castell

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Greatcoats #4

Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (June 6, 2017)

Length: 400 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

My Rating: 5 stars

Few series transcend their genre, bring readers of differing tastes together to brave dangers along behind its heroes.  But when one does, this saga finds itself held up as an all-time great; descriptive terms such as the matchless, the peerless, the unparalleled pinnacle of the genre, and other even more flowery terms thrown around.  At the end of the day though, what brands a series as a timeless classic is how it is remembered going forward, especially how many of its fans continue to recommend it to new reader for years and decades to come.  Sebastien de Castell’s Greatcoats series now among that small, heralded group of fantasy sagas for me personally.  Tyrant’s Throne delivering the finishing touches to propel it into the best swashbuckling fantasy ever written; Falcio val Mond and comrades able to proudly parade among the elites of the genre.  And I for one will be trumpeting its praises for as long as I draw breath.

As the concluding chapter in the Greatcoats series, Tyrant’s Throne immediately takes off with the daring do, wisecracking laughs and twisted, political machinations it has become known for.  The wedding of two Tristian royals lending itself to yet another rousing dose of Castell action with our leading man pronouncing proudly the most memorable lines since Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride:

My name, your lordship, is Falcio val Mond. . . I am the First Cantor of the Greatcoats, also called the King’s Heart.  You might not know it yet . . . but you are having a very bad day.

As our viewpoint character, Falcio Val Mond has guided readers from the grim depths of Traitor’s Blade through the frantic trials of Knight’s Shadow to the gloomy despair of Saint’s Blood.  His constant soul searching, self-induced delusions, unflinching devotion, and unfailing determination the constant pole around which the seething pool of vile politics, horrid sacrifices, and grim deeds revolve in the quest to place King Paelis’ daughter Aline on the throne of Tristia.  Yet, now, when he is so close to completing his last mission for his beloved king, circumstances grow even worse for Falcio.

First, there is a war brewing with the Avareans.  Second, there is a final showdown with the horrible Trin, who has done nothing but torment our hero at every turn.  And, third, Falcio finds any unexpected enemy — his own self.  His demons come to torment him; his most cherished memories turned into horrid illusions of the truth; the very foundation of his life as a Greatcoat rocked by the revelations he must confront.  The terrible spiraling of events and choices threatening to send our hero into an abyss of despair from which even he cannot ascend.

But as always, Falcio is not cowed by any threat.  His single-minded faith in his beloved ideals causing him to move ever forward, even when he makes terrible mistakes.  Our hero able to stand proudly before his innumerable, more powerful foes at the worst of moments and flippantly declare, “Everyone hush now . . . I’m about to be impressive.

FALCIO VAL MOND

And he is.  No matter the trial, the grief, the torment, or the disillusion, Falcio val Mond is a man of ideal, a warrior of principle, who will not give in to the forces dragging him down.  He is the King’s Heart, and such a man can never be defeated!

I have to say I really didn’t believe there was anything left for Sebastien de Castell to throw at Falcio after three books.  He has been tortured (mentally and emotionally), seen his dreams shattered more than a few times, and faced the death of all he loved seemingly at every turn.  But I was wrong yet again, for Tyrant’s Throne plunges our hero into even greater fires of adversity, forcing him to take a long look at himself and his beliefs before raising the more refined version of my favorite Greatcoat like a blazing phoenix.  It is harsh, painful to read at times, but it is such a perfect ending to our hero’s journey that I cannot now imagine Falcio and the Greatcoats’ story ending any other way.

Mixed into the exquisite flagellation, Sebastien de Castell still dazzles with his ability to deliver swashbuckling action, amazing camaraderie, funny moments, and classic heroics.  His narrative finding the perfect balance between every emotion, tugging your heart strings one way and another; each twist in the plot spanning the spectrum from crushing despair to soaring excitement.  Tyrant’s Throne giving its frequent readers everything they could have ever hoped for in a finale, leaving one awed yet heartbroken that it had to finally come to an end.

Since my return to the fantasy genre about four years ago, Sebastien de Castell is among my favorites authors; his Greatcoats series listed among my most beloved fantasy series ever, resting proudly next to those of Tolkien, Donaldson, and many more.  And while Tyrant’s Throne is a fitting ending to this adventure, I dearly hope it will not be our last visit to the colorful world of Falcio and friends.  This place having too many fascinating stories yet to tell.  But until then, I will cherish my memories of my adventures riding and fighting alongside Falcio and the Greatcoats, proclaiming to all the villains of the world that “THE GREATCOATS ARE COMING!

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.

Read my reviews of the first three novels!

Purchase the book at Amazon

Posted in 5 Stars, Fantasy, Swashbuckling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

ELSEWHERE

elsewhereElsewhere by Barbara Hambly

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Darwath Short Story

Publisher: Self Published (April 20, 2017)

Author Information: Website

Length: 45 pages

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Elsewhere is the latest Keep of Dare novelette from Barbara Hambly.  These continued adventures of Gil Patterson and Rudy Solis from late 20th Century America and their companions in the medieval, post-apocalyptic world of Darwath (including wizard Ingold Inglorion) wonderful additions to to the Darwath series.

Here Rudy Solis finds himself frantically attempting to investigate the disappearance of a number of people in the “transporter room” of the keep.  (This magical room a little understood remnant of the ancient civilization which built the keep with both magic and technology over a thousand years in the past.)   Among the vanished Ingold and Gil.  And if attempting to decipher the mysterious workings of the room to save his friends from an unknown fate is not enough, Rudy must also deal with a plague of deadly “ghosts” which have suddenly begun to appear in the keep, killing people with their icy weapons!

From the first sentence, Hambly’s characteristic writing style masterfully creates the tense, claustrophobic atmosphere of the Keep of Dare. The ever shrinking band of survivors huddled within desperately holding onto life in a world slowly deteriorating; the climate outside turning colder and colder. food becoming more and more scarce, and the remains of civilization teetering on the edge of collapse. The claustrophobic, cavern-like hallways within the mysterious citadel as much a tomb as a refuge; their innumerable secrets, which once promised life, still undecipherable by even the wisest. The otherworldly “ghosts” which begin to haunt the living more at home in the bleak “underworld” of Dare’s Keep than the living whom they torment.

Even more compelling than the creepy atmosphere is the continued development of the returning characters, especially our main four of Ingold, Gil, Rudy, and Minalde. These people having grown and developed so much over the years; their personalities and interactions with one another so very realistic, as time and harsh living slowly take their tole on them in so many ways. Yet, for all their differences, they are still the same people who came together to face the rising of the Dark, fearlessly facing death at one another’s side.

Overall, this was yet another great Darwath story. Ms. Hambly continuing her tried-and-true recipe of creepiness, mystery, characterization, and world building to turn Elsewhere into a story that long-time fans of Darwath, as well as newcomers, can read and enjoy. Highly recommended!

Purchase the novelette at Amazon.

Posted in 4 Stars, Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

INDIE WEDNESDAY: LAUREN MCNEIL

Indie-WednesdayAlong my reading journey, I’ve made a conscious decision to include self-published, indie, and small press works in my reading schedule.  But it is difficult to know where to start: So many new authors and books to examine to find the perfect fit for my tastes.  And to help others with this same problem, I’ve decided to turn my Indie Wednesday feature into a day where writers can introduce themselves and their work to everyone.

With this in mind, I’m turning over the blog to Lauren McNeil , author of Moroda, who has been nice enough to submit a guest post for everyone’s reading enjoyment.

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Moroda, Garage Fiction, & Self-Promoting for the Introvert 

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I’m a self-published fantasy author from the UK. I’m a professional Copywriter and I’ve worked in Marketing for several years now. My debut novel, Moroda, was published as an eBook on 1 April and in paperback on 1 May 2017 – so I am hot out the gates and still learning SO much about everything!

I love all things fantasy – from dragons to magic to airships and everything in between (so I’ve put all those things in my book, of course!) and love connecting with other kindred spirits.

I had the original idea for it back when I was sixteen, but never really did anything with it. Every year I participate in NaNo (National Novel Writing Month – for those who don’t know, every November, you’re challenged to write 50,000 words of a novel in those 30 days. It’s not always easy; especially if you work full time, commute, have some sort of social life, etc.! But in November 2014, I decided to use the idea I’d had for so long. I wrote my 50,000 words, but the story wasn’t finished, so I continued writing it until April 2015, when I finished the first draft.

From April 2015 until the book’s release in April 2017, I’d edited and re-written the manuscript, had three editors run through it, and generally panicked that it was finally happening!

The book is part of a six part series (always seems to be the way with fantasy!), so I’m already working on book two!

I’m part of quite a few writing groups on Facebook, but the writing group I’m most involved with is one called Garage Fiction. It’s a small collection of writers who commit to writing 1,000 words of fiction every week. We share our posts, critique each other’s work and offer feedback, and then we talk about it on a podcast!

The writers are from all around the world – Canada, the US, the UK – so there is an A and B podcast group to allow for the time differences. The group has been going for a few years and I joined in early 2017 so still feel very new, but it’s fantastic because of the range of expertise and the incredible support the members give. It’s always great to have a good mix of people, and Garage Fiction definitely has that!

If you’re interested in finding out more about Garage Fiction, or listening to some of our podcasts, you can jump over to their website here, find them on Facebook here or on Twitter here!

Like a lot of writers (dare I say, most?), I’m immensely introverted. I think I scored 91% on introversion v extroversion on 16 personalities! So getting out there and promoting my stuff, doing interviews, podcasts, even “takeovers” like this (!) is typically outside my comfort zone.

I studied Psychology at University and have a mild obsession with MBTI (I’m an INFJ!), so although Writing is a pretty awesome fit for me job-wise (I’m a copywriter as well as a published author), the sales and promotion side of things isn’t always natural, or easy, for me!

A lot of the time, I think, it’s just about putting an “author” hat on and pushing through it. But it’s also pushing through self-doubt and believing in yourself and the book! Receiving positive reviews always adds credibility, and they’re incredibly validating, too.

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morodaLinaria is a world where dragons are revered as gods, where airships rule the skies, and where war is stirring.

For Moroda, a former Goldstone, her life of luxury ends following her father’s sudden death. When her city is destroyed by a dragon, she and her sister ally with a sky pirate and narrowly escape the carnage—only to find a vigilante from an exiled race has left a trail of destruction everywhere his growing army has travelled. With compulsion at his fingertips, he strengthens his hold over Linaria’s people by stealing the power of dragons. It’s only a matter of time before Moroda, too, is forced to submit.

With war nipping at her heels and danger lurking in her companions and adversaries, Moroda must quickly learn about herself, her world, and the dragons so intent on reducing it all to ash.

Moroda is the first novel in an epic six-book saga, following a group of characters as war rages across their world. With pirates and soldiers, smiths and princes, Linaria is a vibrant land with a deeply unsettled past and an equally ominous future.

Buy Links:
Amazon (ebook only)
Author’s Website (paperback)

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Lauren McNeilAUTHOR INFO:  Lauren McNeil has two writing careers – as a copywriter and another as a self-published fantasy author. She also runs her own copywriting services, The Art of Telling Stories .  She is a self-described petrol head and thalassophile, loves castles, sunshine, and dragons! She has always found solace in losing herself in the fantasy worlds she read and created, and it has been one of her most incredible achievements to finally publish her own novel, adventure fantasy, “Moroda,” which was released in spring 2017, the first book in a series of six. The sequel, “Palom,” is due for publication in autumn 2017. She currently lives in the UK and can’t wait for the day she can finally own a little cottage by the seaside!

Author Links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Email: lauren@llmcneil.com

Posted in Author Spotlights, Guest Post, Indie Wednesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 …

TEN SFF SERIES I KEEP MEANING TO START BUT HAVEN’T

This list is a little different from those I’ve done in the past about series I intend to read or want to read or whatever.  At least, I’m going to treat it differently by only picking series I have seen reviewed and thought sounded interesting, BUT I’ve never added these series to my t-b-r list, purchased them or anything else.  They have remained a tempting series which I have not taken the plunge with.

Yeah, yeah, I know that is me splitting hairs, but I wanted a way to list some cool series I’ve heard about lately.  Several are ones I’m sure many of you have already read, but I haven’t.  A few are fairly new and might surprise you guys.  Hope you enjoy!

soldiers' redemption10. The First Cohort by M.R. Anthony

Captain Tyrus Charing and the men of the First Cohort have fought on the wrong side for as long as they can remember. They have travelled from one battle to the next at the bidding of the cruel Duke Warmont, fighting endlessly for a man they despise.

Now they want something different. They want to fight for the right people and for a deserving cause. There is hope for Captain Charing and his men – a saviour has come and she needs good, loyal soldiers in order to overthrow the Duke.

As the First Cohort try to pay for the sins of their past, they discover they’ve taken on far more than they could have imagined. They are unbeaten in battle, but the Duke does not care how many die, so long as he stays in power. Amongst his generals are sorcerers of great power, and an inhuman brute of callous evil, all of whom are eager to face Charing’s men.

valley of embers9. The Landkist Saga by Steven Kelliher

For hundreds of years, the flame-wielding Embers have been the last line of defense against the nightmare creatures from the World Apart, but the attacks are getting worse. Kole Reyna guards Last Lake from the terrors of the night, but he fears for his people’s future.

When Kole is wounded by a demon unlike any they have seen before, the Emberfolk believe it is a sign of an ancient enemy returned, a powerful Sage known as the Eastern Dark.

Kole has never trusted in prophecy, but with his people hanging on the precipice, he reluctantly agrees to lead the Valley’s greatest warriors in a last desperate bid for survival. Together, they will risk everything in search of a former ally long-thought dead, and whether Kole trusts him or not, he may be the only one capable of saving them.

cthulhu armageddon8. Cthulhu Armageddon by C.T. Phipps

CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON is the story of a world 100 years past the rise of the Old Ones which has been reduced to a giant monster-filled desert and pockets of human survivors (along with Deep Ones, ghouls, and other “talking” monsters).

John Henry Booth is a ranger of one of the largest remaining city-states when he’s exiled for his group’s massacre and suspicion he’s “tainted.” Escaping with a doctor who killed her husband, John travels across the Earth’s blasted alien ruins to seek the life of the man who killed his friends.

It’s the one thing he has left.

the king's bastard7. King Rolen’s Kin by Rowena Cory Daniells

Byren never wanted the throne. It was destined for Lence, his twin brother, older by seven minutes and the rightful heir to Rolencia. But the royal heir resents Byren’s growing popularity, and in the court of King Rolen, the shadows are thick with enemies plotting revolution.

Darkness stirs across Rolencia and untamed magic of the gods wells up from the earth’s heart, twisting the minds of men with terrible visions. The touched must learn to control their gift – or die. Disharmony stirs within Rolen’s household, and as magic, madness and political machinations threaten to tear Rolencia apart, King Rolen’s children must do all they can to restore their father’s kingdom…

shadow prowler6. Chronicles of Siala by Alexey Pehov

 

After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring. An army is gathering: giants, ogres and other creatures joining forces from across the Desolate Lands, united for the first time in history under one black banner. By the spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom.

5. Newsflesh by Mira Grantfeed

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop.

The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives—the dark conspiracy behind the infected.

The truth will get out, even if it kills them.

hawkwood's voyage4. The Monarchies of God by Paul Kearney

THE WESTERN WORLD IS BURNING…

Even as cities and cathedrals are tumbling, their defenders crucified by the invading Merduks, the Faithful war among themselves, purging heretics and magical folk and adding to the flames.

For Richard Hawkwood and his crew, a desperate venture to carry refugees to the uncharted land across the Great Western Ocean offers the only chance of escape from the Inceptines’ pyres. The King’s cousin, Lord Murad, has an ancient log book telling of a free, unspoiled land…

nights of viljamar3. Legends of the Red Sun by Mark Charan Newton

 

An ice age strikes a chain of islands, and thousands come to seek sanctuary at the gates of Villjamur: a city of ancient spires and bridges, a place where banshees wail the deceased, cultists use forgotten technology for their own gain and where, further out, the dead have been seen walking across the tundra.

2. The Godless World by Brian Ruckleywinterbirth

An uneasy truce exists between the thanes of the True Bloods.

Now, as another winter approaches, the armies of the Black Road march south, from their exile beyond the Vale of Stones. For some, war will bring a swift and violent death. Others will not hear the clash of swords or see the corpses strewn over the fields. They instead will see an opportunity to advance their own ambitions. But all, soon, will fall under the shadow that is descending.

For, while the storm of battle rages, one man is following a path that will awaken a terrible power in him — and his legacy will be written in blood.

the emperor's knife1. Tower and Knife Trilogy by Mazarkis Williams

There is a cancer at the heart of the mighty Cerani Empire: a plague that attacks young and old, rich and poor alike. Geometric patterns spread across the skin, until you die in agony, or become a Carrier, doing the bidding of an evil intelligence, the Pattern Master. Anyone showing the tell-tale marks is put to death; that is Emperor Beyon’s law…but now the pattern is running over the Emperor’s own arms. His body servants have been executed, he ignores his wives, but he is doomed, for soon the pattern will reach his face. While Beyon’s agents scour the land for a cure, Sarmin, the Emperor’s only surviving brother, awaits his bride, Mesema, a windreader from the northern plains. Unused to the Imperial Court’s stifling protocols and deadly intrigues, Mesema has no one to turn to but an aging imperial assassin, the Emperor’s Knife.

As long-planned conspiracies boil over into open violence, the invincible Pattern Master appears from the deep desert. Only three people stand in his way: a lost prince, a world-weary killer, and a young girl from the steppes who once saw a path in a pattern — a path that might save them all.

Have you read any of these?  What did you think of them?  What other series should I add?  Let me know!  🙂

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FUNDAY MONDAY, OR THE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP ME SURVIVE THE WEEK AHEAD (JUNE 19, 2017)

funday-monday

Another 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 promise of a new year and the continuation of the regular grind, deep down, I’m not, so I’m going to escape dreary reality by reading some great books.

Summer (My kids summer vacation) is passing so quickly.  And I’m enjoying it all — including all the great books I’ve been fortunate enough to read the last few weeks.  Hopefully, this week will be no exception to that trend, adding to my winning streak!

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the kings of morningThe Kings of the Morning by Paul Kearney

Genre: Fantasy — Grimdark

Series: The Macht #3

Publisher:  Solaris (February 28, 2012)

Length: 439 pages

For the first time in recorded history, the ferocious city-states of the Macht now acknowledge a single man as their overlord. Corvus, the strange and brilliant boy-general, is now High King, having united his people in a fearsome, bloody series of battles and sieges. He is not yet thirty years old.

A generation ago, ten thousand of the Macht marched into the heart of the ancient Asurian Empire, and then fought their way back out again, passing into legend. It has been the enduring myth of Corvus’ life, for his father was one of those who undertook that march, and his most trusted general, Rictus, was leader of those ten thousand. But he intends to do more. The preparations will take years, but when they are complete, Corvus will lead an invasion the like of which the world of Kuf has never seen. Under him, the Macht will undertake nothing less than the overthrow of the entire Asurian Empire.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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mormamaMormama by Kit Reed

Genre: Horror

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher:  Tor Books (May 30, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 288 pages

MORMAMA is a riveting supernatural, southern gothic tale from Kit Reed. Readers of Joyce Carol Oates and James M. Cain will enjoy this unnerving tale.

Dell Duval has been living on the street since his accident. He can’t remember who he was or where he came from. All he has is a tattered note in his pocket with an address for the Ellis house, a sprawling, ancient residence in Jacksonville. He takes up residence under the house in the basement unknown to the residents upstairs. He just needs time to figure out why he’s been sent here.

In the house, Lane and her son Theo have returned to the family home—their last resort after Lane’s husband cleans out her bank account and leaves. The old house is ruled by an equally ancient trio of tyrannical aunts, who want to preserve everything. Nothing should leave the house, including Lane.

Something about the house isn’t right. Things happen to the men and boys living there. There are forces at work one of which visits Theo each night—Mormama, one mama too many.

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HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

Happy Fathers Day 550

Wishing all fathers a great, relaxing day to celebrate everything you do!

I’m definitely going to try to enjoy mine.  🙂

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FRIDAY FACE OFF JUNE 16, 2017

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 the literary universe.

This week’s theme is:  “You couldn’t not like someone who liked the guitar.  A cover which features a guitar.

Now, this sounded like a simple one.  Just find a fantasy book with a guitar on the cover.  No problem.  I even had a few novels which instantly came to mind, but once I looked at them I discovered the people were playing lutes, harps, and ever other kind of instrument except for a guitar.

So I had to dig deeper.  Do some research outside my reading list.  And eventually I found what I considered the perfect book cover.

Terry Pratchett’s Soul Music


COVER A

soul music 3


COVER B

soul music 1


COVER C

soul music 4


COVER D

soul music 2


AND THE WINNER IS . . .


drumroll

I have to admit this was a tough choice.  I actually like the weird vibe of Cover A.  But, ultimately, I came back to my initial pick, which was Cover B.  I love everything about it from the guitar to the death figure to the layout and colors.

soul music 1

Which would you choose?  Why?

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

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SLAVES OF THE SWITCHBOARD OF DOOM

slaves of teh switchboardSlaves of the Switchboard of Doom
by Bradley W. Schenck

Genre: Science Fiction — Pulp

Series: Possibility of One

Publisher: Tor Books (June 13, 2017)

Author Information: FB | Website |Twitter

Length: 352 pages

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom surprised me, startled me even, because it was so damn much fun!  A word I seldom use when referring to modern science fiction; a genre which seems to take itself too damn seriously most of the time.  But, thankfully, Bradley W. Schenck has turned back the hands of the literary clock and gifted fans of fast-paced, hilarious, lavishly illustrated, and optimistic sci fi with his mesmerizing “World of Tomorrow” with its heroic heroes, ray-guns, robots, crazy scientists, rocket cars, and automated sidewalks.

The dashing lead of this tale is Kelvin “Dash” Kent who spends most of his time traveling about the earth and moon fighting bad guys, righting wrongs, and helping the helpless.  And, here, he finds himself hired by a group of switchboard operators led by the sharp-as-a-tack Lola Gardner.  Dash’s job is simple: uncover the dastardly plot to deprive Retropolis of its InfoSlate operators and thereby throw the whole information access system into chaos, letting some vile villain do something . . . evil.  Or, at least, all this is what Lola suspects Dash will find once he starts his investigation.

Joining our dynamic duo in this retro romp are several other point-of-view characters.  Howard Pitt, civil engineer, is the mysterious, scientific genius, who is definitely up to no good, though no one really knows for sure what kind of no good he is up to.  Abner Perkins, transportation officer, is the out-of-his depths guy who finds himself hot on the trail of the supposed villain.  And, finally, there is automaton Rusty, who begins to investigate the origins of a strange, legless robot, specifically who create him and why.

Slowly but surely, all these people and their separate investigations begin to intertwine, leading our heroes toward a shadowy conspiracy.  A grave threat materializing, one which isn’t at all expected.

I have to admit being a lover of pulp sci fi.  Buck Rogers.  Flash Gordon.  John Carter.  Name all the usually names, and I’ve probably loved them at some point in my life.  What always drew me to their stories was the sheer enjoyment and optimistic outlook they all had at their hearts.  Maybe, their science wasn’t completely accurate; perhaps the sensibilities were old fashioned; but they thrilled you, inspired you, and made you happy you invested your precious time reading them.   And, now, I can add Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom to that list of ridiculously fun pulp sci fi reads.

From the futuristic city of Retropolis with its pristine parks, cleaning robots, tube transportation, and automated skywalks, this world looks and feels like a Jetson-like dream of a wonderful future.  The heroes are heroic, and the villains are vile, but you always feel certain that your favorites will find a way to triumph over all the odds and survive to make the world a better place.  The plot is twisty, filled with more than a few surprises, has laughs along the way, and keeps you turning the pages until the end.

Does that mean this is a perfect book?  Nope, because there is no such thing, and Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom isn’t the only exception.  Personally, I felt there were sections of the story where the pacing lagged a little too much, as well as there being too many switches between pov characters.  Hell, even the silliness was a bit too over-the-top at times.  But none of these issues ruined the sheer enjoyment of the narrative for me.

In conclusion, this novel by Bradley W. Schenck is a hilarious, retro romp that all lovers of pulp sci fi classics of the past should definitely find time to sample.  Its illustrations are beautiful, adding immensely to the reading experiencing, and, hopefully, you will find this World of Tomorrow and its denizens as entertaining and fun as I did.

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, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments