BEST READS OF 2016!

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Yeah, this list is a little late this year.  Holiday fun and winter colds put me behind.  But better late than never, right?

As always, this list is my end-of-the-year effort to look back on all the books I’ve read, give a little more love to my favorites, and, hopefully, help someone discover a great story they missed out on.



10. 
The Unremembered: Author’s Definitive Edition 

 the-unremembered      by Peter Orullian

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Series: Vault of Heaven #1

Publisher: Tor Books (April 7, 2015)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 480 pages

My Review: The Unremembered

I had read all the negative reviews, was concerned by them, but they didn’t keep me from trying this revised edition of the story.  And I’m glad I did.  The Unremembered is a really good fantasy.  Certainly, it reminds one of other epic fantasy in the mold of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, but Mr. Orullian infused some fresh ideas, especially with his very cool magic system.

Purchase the book at Amazon


the-last-sacrifice9. The Last Sacrifice by James A. Moore

Genre: Fantasy — Sword and Sorcery

Series: Tides of War #1

Publisher: Angry Robot (January 3, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 400 pages

My Review: The Last Sacrifice

Yeah, this novel was released in 2017, but I read it in 2016, so I’m including it here.  The reason why I couldn’t wait until my 2017 list is because more people need to read James A. Moore’s smooth, horrifying sword and sorcery books.  Especially this one, which begins a new series.

Purchase the book at Amazon


the silent army8. The Silent Army by James A. Moore

Genre: Fantasy — Sword and Sorcery

Series: Seven Forges #4

Publisher: Angry Robot (May 3, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 400 pages

My Review: The Silent Army

Dé·jà vu?  Nope, I just had to also put my favorite sword and sorcery series on the list as well.  It just happens to be penned by James A. Moore too.  The Seven Forges series was an addictive mixture of fantasy and horror, which quickly became a guilty pleasure of mine, one which I encourage everyone else to, at least, give a try.

Purchase the book at Amazon

 


city of blades7. City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Divine Cities #2

Publisher: Broadway Books (January 26, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 484 pages

My Review: City of Blades

Robert Jackson Bennett had a tough job trying to follow-up his spectacular City of Stairs, but he found a way with this novel.  This return trip to the Continent another thrilling adventure of discovery, action, and mystical mystery!

Purchase the book at Amazon


the liar's key6. The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence 

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Red Queen’s War #2

Publisher:  Ace (June 2, 2015)

Author Information: Website | Twitter 

Length:  479 pages

My Review: Coming Soon!

This second installment of The Red Queen’s War started out slow, but soon, it picked up speed, rushing to an amazing conclusion.  Nope, I haven’t read The Wheel of Osheim yet, but it is sitting on my bookshelf waiting ever so patiently for me to pick it up and find out how this trilogy ends.

Purchase the book at Amazon


the-city-of-ice5. The City of Ice by K.M. McKinley

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Gates of the World #2

Publisher: Solaris (December 27, 2016)

Length: 400 pages

My Review: Coming Soon!

 

 

While I had some issues with The Iron Ship, I desperately wanted to get my hands on this book, because there was so much potential with this story.  Well, in The City of Ice, everything comes together; these amazing characters and their world unfolding before readers, mesmerizing in its action and mysteries.  Loved every minute of it, can’t wait for the next installment.

Purchase the book at Amazon


promise of blood4. Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

Genre: Fantasy – Flintlock

Series: Powder Mage #1

Publisher: Orbit (April 16, 2013)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 545 pages

My Review: Promise of Blood

 

It took me a while to pick this flintlock fantasy up, but once I did it really sunk its claws in deep.  Mr. McClellan’s amazing magic system and cast of interesting characters, as well as familiar yet unique plot, keeping me glued to the pages.  Now, I just have to find time to read the rest of the trilogy before his new book comes out in a couple months.

Purchase the book at Amazon.


newmirror83. The Mirror’s Truth by Michael Fletcher

Genre: Fantasy — Grimdark

Series: Manifest Delusions #2

Publisher: Self Published (December 15, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 455 pages

My Review: Coming Soon!

I was expecting great things out of Michael Fletcher’s follow-up to last year’s Beyond Redemption, and he exceeded my wildest hopes.  This grimmest of grimdarks continued the story of our terrible trio, adding to the demented madness of this world and evolving the insane magic, which molds its ever changing reality.  Now, more people need to go read it already!

Purchase the books at Amazon


saint's blood2. Saint’s Blood by Sebastien de Castell

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Greatcoats #3

Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (April 7, 2016)

Length: 576 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

My Review: Saint’s Blood

Heroic.  Humorous.  Exciting.  Filled with suspense.  Magical.  Add whatever adjectives you would like regarding Saint’s Blood as long as they basically are describing near perfection, because Sebastien de Castell produced yet another masterpiece of swashbuckling adventure with this installment of the Greatcoats series. Can hardly wait for book four!

Purchase the book at Amazon.


red-tide1. Red Tide by Marc Turner

Genre: Fantasy – Epic

Series: The Chronicles of the Exile #3

Publisher: Tor (September 20, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 544 pages

My Review: Red Tide

This saga by Michael Turner is a beauty to experience.  Filled with a huge cast, set against a sprawling world and taking place in numerous locations, it reminds most readers of Steven Erikson’s Malazan.  All of which means this is an epic fantasy which just keeps getting better and better with each installment.  That is your cue to go out and start reading it already!  🙂

Purchase the book at Amazon.



Well, that is my list.  Hopefully, I’ve introduced you to a few novels you want to read now.  And, hopefully, when you do try these novels, you’ll agree with me that they are definitely some of the best fantasy around!

Posted in Fantasy, Fantasy, Lists | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

GUEST POST: JAMES A. MOORE, AUTHOR OF THE LAST SACRIFICE

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Today, I’m excited to welcome James A. Moore, author of the The Last Sacrifice, back to Bookwraiths.  And while I could spend pages gushing over his sword and sorcery books, I believe everyone would rather I turn the stage over to Mr. Moore.  Which is exactly what I am now doing.

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NEW MYTHS

by

JAMES A. MOORE

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Okay, so I’ve said before that I walked away from fantasy for many, many years. It wasn’t because my love of fantasy dwindled. Far from it. I left because I ran across the same story too many times.

Here’s the basic gist: daydreaming orphan boy runs across mythical Item of Power (Sword, ring, whatever it might be) and learns how to use it just in time to stop the return of the Rising Darkness. The first time I ran across that story was in The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. When he wrote it the concept was new. When I read it, the concept was fairly new, having been in print for only around 35 years. It was the couple of dozen riffs on this particular theme that chapped my hide.

Know what else was doing me in? Dragons, elves, dwarves and the occasional griffin. I like my monsters just fine, but those particular tropes started becoming, well, tropes. I like a good vampire or zombie story, too, but I don’t want every damned story to be a rehash of the same old monsters. Either make them unique, or get them off the pages of what I’m reading. No offense to those who enjoy them, but now and then I need a surprise.

And now and then, as I have said before, I am forced to write the stories that I want to read. I wrote the Seven Forges books with the promise to myself that any beasties showing up would have to be original. No mythologies that had been around for decades. I don’t have orcs, or goblins, or even kobolds in those books. Instead I have the Sa’ba Taalor and their Mounts as my primary sources of “things that are not quite normal.” I have wizardry, but I tried to make it my own.

And I did the exact same thing again with The Last Sacrifice. There are gods, yes, but they have only been mentioned so far and not truly seen. Instead of using what I’ve read about a hundred times, I decided to try making my own mythology again. This time, that required coming up with servants of the very gods I’ve mentioned. There are the Grakhul, a pale-skinned race with a few surprises, and there are the He-Kisshi, the direct servants of the gods, also called the Undying and a dozen less savory names.

The Grakhul are almost human. Their culture is very different from ours. The men serve their purposes, the women serve their purposes, and both in turn serve the He-Kisshi. The men take care of manual tasks around the area, including offering sacrifices to the gods. The women handle the ritual cleansing of sacrifices and the preparations that must happen before the men can fulfill their part of the rituals.

I also considered where they lived and why they lived there. The area is desolate, a barren land on the edge of the ocean, where nothing grows except some moss and the air is damp and cold at all times. What do they eat? Fish, of course. How do they capture the fish?

Well, I decided they don’t use nets. They move out into the water, they change to adapt to the water and they gather fish with their webbed, clawed hands. When they are done they come out of the water and change back into land dwellers. They are shape shifters.  They change in small ways, true, but they become stronger and faster when they are in the waters.

They live in a miserable area that most people would never consider inhabiting, but the gods have made it easy for them. And they live there because the gods demand it.

The He-Kisshi are a different lot. The Undying are just that, undying. Theya re tough, they are sinister, they are arrogant and they have control over the elements. Should they want a storm they can summon it. Should they want the winds to lift them into the air, it happens. They appear as cowled monks until they are seen up close. They have claws, they carry weapons, they speak little and they are the very voice of the gods. They choose who will be sacrificed to the gods and they deliver those sacrifices to the Grakhul. They are feared by all five kingdoms, and they are obeyed by all five as well, because their station in life is to be the voice of the gods, and no one who is wise disobeys a god. No one who is wise catches the attention of that sort of servant, either.

Because I like my inhuman thingies, I made the He-Kisshi as nasty as I could. They have a face that is little more than a mouth filled with enough teeth to make a shark jealous; they have hot, leathery skin and claws that are a long as daggers. They are hard to hurt, and even if you kill them, they come back to life.

Oh, and some of them hold a grudge like nobody’s business.

That’s book one. There will be more critters. I’ve hinted at the Night People, the Marked Men and the demons that the gods have punished and locked away. They have been seen, but what I have shown is not the complete picture. Where would be the fun in showing the whole deck of cards before the first hand is dealt?

The thing is, I’m having fun making new critters, because the old ones have lost their appeal for me. Mostly. That can change from time to time.

What else will I bring to the table? I have no idea, but it will be fun deciding when the time comes.

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the-last-sacrificeAbout The Last Sacrifice 

Since time began the Grakhul, immortal servants of the gods who choose who lives and who dies when it comes time to make sacrifices to their deities, have been seeking to keep the world in balance and the gods appeased. When they take the family of Brogan McTyre to offer as sacrifice, everything changes.

Brogan heads off on a quest to save his family from the Grakhul. The decision this time is costlier than they expected, leading to Brogan and his kin being hunted as criminals and the gods seeking to punish those who’ve defied them.

CHECK OUT MY REVIEW OF THE NOVEL.

james-mooreAbout James A Moore 

JAMES A MOORE is the award-winning, bestselling, author of over forty novels, thrillers, dark fantasy and horror alike, including the critically acclaimed Fireworks, Under The OvertreeBlood Red, the Serenity Falls trilogy (featuring his recurring anti-hero, Jonathan Crowley) and his most recent novels, The Blasted Lands and City of Wonders both part of the Seven Forges seriesIn addition to writing multiple short stories, he has also edited, with Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, The British Invasion anthology for Cemetery Dance Publications.

Moore’s first short story collection, Slices, sold out before ever seeing print. He is currently at work on several additional projects, including the forthcoming The Last Sacrifice, book one in the Tides of War, series. Along with Jonathan Maberry and Christopher Golden, he hosts the Three Guys With Beards podcast and currently he lives in Massachusetts.

Meet him on his blog and @jamesamoore on Twitter.

Purchase the novels at Amazon.

Posted in Author Spotlights, Guest Post | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL, VOL. 1:THE SIGNAL MASTERS

guest-post2Today, I’m happy to have my son, Connor, return to the blog for yet another of his graphic novel reviews.  Thankfully, this is becoming something of a regular occasion, and I personally will be enjoying it for as long as it lasts.

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jli-coverJLI, Vol. 1: The Signal Masters by Dan Jurgens

Genre: Superhero Comics

Series: Justice League International (New 52) #1

Publisher: DC Comics (May 15, 2012)

Author Information: Website

Length: 144 pages

Connor’s Rating:  connor-capconnor-capconnor-cap connor-cap 

Okay, every New 52 superhero team in the DCU (Other than the Justice League) seems to be all about how to protect the world from people like Superman, Wonder Woman, and all the rest.  Everyone is obsessed with the Justice League turning evil.

Yeah, I think we’ve read about an evil Justice League before.

Justice-League-23-Trinity-War-Finale-Forever-Evil-Earth-3-Crime-Syndicate-Debut

Anyway, the JLI is that same old deal again, but with a small twist.

Here the United Nations demands protection from the Justice League if (when) those guys ever go crazy and try to take over the world.  So, they decide to get different superheroes from different countries together to form their own superhero team.  Their mission to selflessly protect the world.

Sounds like a cool idea.  So it really surprised me when the guy with the biggest ego gets made the leader of the group.  I mean, Booster Gold doesn’t even want to be in charge and doesn’t even know who the other members of the team are.  But when a surprising villain shows up trying to destroy the world, Booster takes charge.

justice-league-international-booster

Good things about the book.

  1. Booster Gold is an interesting guy.  Really liked his story of coming from the future.
  2. This group is always throwing around insults and jokes.  A lot of them are actually funny.
  3. The art looked good, told the story well, and was easy to follow.  Really liked it.
  4. Even though the story was funny, it was pretty good with lots of action.

Bad things about the book.

  1. Booster’s ego.  Okay, it was funny at first, but I got tired of it fast.
  2. Most of these characters are just names and faces.  I need to know more about them.

When I started the book, I didn’t think I would enjoy it very much.  But it actually surprised me.  It might just be me, but this group was the kind of fun comic I like to read.  Too bad more people didn’t feel like I did.

Well, I hope you liked this review, and if you are on Goodreads, friend me any time to talk about my reviews or comic books.

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, and Supergirl  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 (Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop The Feeling! is his current fav.)  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 4 Stars, DC, Graphic Novels, Justice League | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FUNDAY MONDAY, OR THE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP ME SURVIVE THE WEEK AHEAD (JANUARY 2, 2017)

funday-monday

A new year has begun, but . . . the same old routine begins anew.  The work never ends.  And so 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.

Hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!  Hopefully, 2017 will be the best year ever in all ways for each and every one of you.  As for me, I’m taking a break from reading really serious or realistic fantasy and spending a little time on enjoying some pure, old fashioned sword and sorcery tales delivered by Warhammer.  These stories are just great fun!

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nagashThe Rise of Nagash by Mike Lee

Genre: Fantasy – Warhammer

Series: Time of Legends

Publisher: Games Workshop (November 11, 2012)

Length: 1024 pages

The story of Nagash – father of the vampires – in one big volume

Nagash is the first necromancer and the supreme lord of undeath. He wrested the secrets of dark magic from the elves and perverted them to suit his ends. When the priest-kings of Nehekhara stood united against him, he broke their armies and sacked their cities. He raised the largest army of the dead the world has ever known and became an immortal dark god. His deeds are legend. This is his story.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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sigmarLegend of Sigmar by Graham McNeill

Genre: Fantasy – Warhammer

Series: Time of Legends

Publisher: Games Workshop (July 24, 2012)

Author Information: Website 

Length: 1024 pages

Sigmar is the greatest leader of men the world has ever known. By saving the high king of the dwarfs, he earned the eternal friendship of the mountain folk. When a mighty horde of orcs threatened his lands, he united the tribes of men to stand against them at Black Fire Pass. He broke the siege of Middenheim and pushed back the forces of Chaos. In defeating the great necromancer Nagash, he saved mankind and secured the future of his empire. His deeds are legend. This is his story.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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THE CHRONICLE OF HELOISE & GRIMPLE

heloise-grimpleChronicle of Heloise & Grimple by Sean Gibson

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Perhaps More?

Publisher: Self-Published (September 28, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 195 pages

My Rating: 3.5 stars

A short, quirky story originally published online as a chose-your-own-adventure serial The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple is a return to a simpler side of fantasy, where the whole point of the trip was to have fun.  And if a reader opens up Chronicles with that single-minded pursuit in mind, they will find themselves completely entertained.

The leaders of our twisting, turning, and rather ridiculous (at times) adventures is Heloise, her comaapnion Grimple, and a hedge wizard named Kevil they pick up along the way.  All of these guys caught up in a quest to remove a curse from Grimple; this hill giant having pissed off the wrong sort of wizard and now living his life as a sickly gnome.  But, naturally, turning old Grimple back into his normal self isn’t easy, and the trio bumble into one hilarious encounter after another, as they slowly trudge along the path to quest completion.

Since Sean Gibson himself admits “[t]he Chronicle is intended to be both homage to and satire of the fantasy stories and games” he grew up reading and playing, it should come as no surprise that this story is all about poking fun at fantasy tropes and getting the most laughs out of the absurdity of it all.  Which means there is no angst here.  Grimness is not allowed.  Realism is scoffed at.  Darkness be gone!  Hell, serious of any sort is frowned upon.  Instead, wittiness, silliness, and humor are the rule by Jove.

But does it work, you ask?

Yes.  For the most part.  Chronicle is truly a delightfully funny adventure story fully of outrageous laughs and ridiculous encounters.  Monty Pythin-esque if you will.  And if that is something which you enjoy, you should pick this book up and give it a try.

As for criticisms, I really don’t feel a need to point out minor problems I had with the narrative.  Sean Gibson promised fantasy humor and outrageous fun with Chronicle, and that is exactly what he delivers, so why be nitpicky.

Overall, The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple is a fast-paced, rollicking adventure big on silliness and lighthearted laughs at fantasy tropes expense, filled with action, and even including pictures (All great books have illustrations, you know).  What that all means is if your looking for some fun in your fantasy, then Chronicle might be the first stop on your quest.

I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank him 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, Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MANIFEST DELUSIONS MADNESS WRAP-UP & GIVEAWAY WINNER

manifest-delusions-madness

As the Madness comes to a close here on Bookwraiths (The psychotropic medications are starting to take affect), I decided to take a look back at all we have learned about the series and announce the winner of that awesome giveaway.  (Yeah, I know that is the only reason most of you are reading this.)  So . . .

WHAT THE HELL!  How did you get in here?  And why are you wearing that damn robe?  

Michael R. FletcherWho?  Mike?  Mike who?

Michael Fletcher!  Ahh . .. yeah, it is great to meet you.  I really wasn’t expecting you though.  Did we talk about you coming to my house in the emails?

What?  Sure, I do have have some whiskey you can drink.  It is right over there.  

So, uhh . . . you really do wear the robe around?  I just thought that was a Halloween pic or something.  

Excuse me?  Questions?  What questions?

Oh, those interview questions you emailed me.  Well, I just haven’t had the time with the holidays and all.

Huh?  Well, I guess it isn’t fair that you had to answer my questions but I haven’t answered yours.  I know you have things you want to know about the people reviewing your books.

Okay, okay.  Just talk slower.  I’m having a hard time keeping up.  

Yeah, yeah.  I do understand you aren’t signing anything until I answer your questions.   HEY, take that coaster out of your pocket.  Were you really trying to steal a coaster? 

“Am I a Doppel?”  What the hell?  No, I’m not a Doppel.  It was just part of the blog tour, dude.   

No, no, you’re right, whiskey will probably help me get through this.  Pour me a drink.  Somehow, I think I’m going to need it.

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Hi Wendell, thanks for inviting me into your home for this little chat. It looks really nice in here. Is that new? It’s pretty. Hey, is it nailed down? Ok, that’s weird. Damn. This thing is nailed down too. Not complaining, but this is gonna put a crimp in my petty klepto habit. Just sayin’.

What?

Yeah it’s me, man. It’s Mike. Don’t look at me like that I’m the real Mike.

Let’s not get all caught up in who is who and why all your stuff has been nailed down.

Seriously, this little plate won’t move! What?

Oh yeah. Well, I’ve had my Doppels research you. Yeah, they do all the real work. They’re awesome. As I was saying, we’ve researched you and we have some questions.

Are you sitting comfortably?

You need another drink?

You don’t look comfortable.

You’ll feel better once we start the interview!

Melric-whelanichael Moorcock. Massively influential. What is his best series? Which of his books really hooked you and why? And if it’s not the Stormbringer books, best be ready to defend yourself.

Corum is my favorite. . . Shite, sit down,brother, give me a chance to explain already.  

I read The Swords Trilogy and The Chronicles of Corum when I was in middle school.  First, Moorcock sword and sorcery I ever tried.  They blew me away, turned me into a huge fan.  The mixture of magic and swords with brutal action and miserable outcomes for the heroes won me over instantly.  Eventually, I got around to reading Elric, and I did love his adventures too, but, Corum was my first love, and I’m always going to put him up at the top of my favorite Michael Moorcock list.  

And Stephen R. Donaldson! Also hugely influential on a certain hack writer. Have you read the latest Covenant books? Were they as good as the first two trilogies? And speaking of those trilogies, which was better?

I’ve read the first two books (The Runes of the Earth and Fatal Revenant).  They were okay.  Not on the same level as the first two series, in my opinion.  Good enough for me to want to read the rest of the series though.  There is just one thing holding me back from finishing: Linden Avery.  I find her horribly boring.  I mean, honestly, we’ve went from a protagonist who is a leper with a huge asshole complex to the rather jaded yet dull LINDEN AVERY?  It has not worked for me at all.

And about those first two trilogies, I prefer the first, because of the cast of characters around Covenant.  For me, Lena, Atiaran, Lord Mhoram, Saltheart Foamfollower, Bannor, High Lord Elena, Hile Troy, and the rest are too damn good to top.

Do you always wear pants when you have company? Weird.

Word is you’re also a football and basketball fan. Is that the strange American version? Is basketball the American version of cricket? What are your favourite teams, and wouldn’t basketball be more interesting if we made it full contact? What if they could tackle each other?

Uh, yeah, I prefer American football, though I do have a son who prefers soccer (as we Yanks call ‘real’ football) so I’m gradually learning more about that.  As can be expected, my favorite pro team is the Atlanta Falcons, while my favorite college team is the University of Georgia Bulldogs.  “Goooooo… Dawgs! Sic ‘Em! Woof! Woof! Woof!”  I know, it doesn’t translate well.  It’s a southern thing, I guess.

As for basketball, I grew up playing the game, going to basketball camps during the summer, and actually starting on my high school team.  I was one of those kids who “Wanted to be like Mike” from back in the day.  NBA being what it is my favorite teams change as the players move around (though I always cheer on my Atlanta Hawks through good and bad times).  For years, Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics were my favs, then it changed to Isiah Thomas and the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons, then Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, then Shaq/Kobe and the LA Lakes, and now I tend to cheer for the Golden State Warriors because my oldest son, who is into basketball even more than I was growing up, is always watching them on tv.  And, yeah, they do need to wear pads now, since basketball is a full contact sport. 

Two part question: What is the greatest fantasy movie ever made? What is the greatest fantasy movie that no one has heard of?

The Lord of the Rings trilogy, hands down.  You just can’t praise Peter Jackson enough for taking Tolkien’s saga and bringing it to life.  He did such an amazing job it makes up for how bad The Hobbit trilogy was. lord-of-the-rings-trilogy

Greatest fantasy movie no one has ever heard of . . . Huh, tough one, since obviously, I have to have heard of it.  Dragonslayer (1981) would be my pick.  Most people I know have never heard of it, and it is a really cool film, filled with laughs, bumbling wizards, a dragon (of course), and an unlikely hero.  Great fun.

Manimal, or The Fall Guy and why?

Fall Guy.  Three simple reason.  One, the truck.  Loved that damn thing.  Wanted one for myself.  Two, Heather Thomas.  Loved her, thought she was smoking hot.  Wanted her for myself.  Three, things went BOOM! all the time.  When I was a hormonal teen, I could not resist cool trucks, hot girls, and shit being blown up.  Good times.  Wish I could go back and relive them. 

More seriously, The Greatest American Hero. Was that the best show ever or what?

The original series was a great one, but the reboot left me cold though.  One series I wish had been picked up back in the 80s was The Archer.  This corny Conan-esque made for tv movie still lingers in my memory all these years later.

If you could time travel, which way would you go (to the past or to the future) and what would you do once you got there. Would you murder little baby Hitler, or get next weeks mega-lottery results?

Okay, I’m going to assume I only have one round trip into time, so if that is the case, I’m getting next weeks mega-lottery results.  Lets be honest here: I’m no superhero, so if I go back in time to stop a monster like Hitler or to tell people what is going to happen in the future chances are I’m going to fail to accomplish anything.  With that in mind, if I win the lottery, I can take care of my family and use a large portion to help other people through a charity foundation or paying medical bills or something.  Plus, I could buy a hell of a lot of Michael Fletcher books and give them away in Bookwraiths giveaways.

I was looking at your review policy and noted that you rate books on a one to five scale. That seems kind of random. Wouldn’t a more granular scale work better? What if you rated books from one to one thousand? Then you could really get into a book’s rating. Like, this book is definitely a 776. It’s a little better than that other book that was only a 774. Just a thought.

OMG, I never thought of it that way.  I mean, with a 1-1000 scale, I’d have enough room to really differentiate between books I hate, books I like a little, and so forth and so on.  I’m going to start experimenting with this new scale on my next review — which just happens to be The Mirror’s Truth.  What luck!

What are you guys having for dinner tonight? Can I stay?

Sure, brother, we need to go out and get some food to go with all this whiskey we’ve been drinking, after all.  Hell, I even have a blowup mattress if you want to crash for the night later on.

Decent answers . . . for a Doppel.  But since you’ve given me whiskey I won’t mention it to anyone.  So who won the giveaway?  I have to start signing and personalizing and drooling all over these books.  

Congratulations to Tammy over at Books Bones & Buffy!  The email notification is on its way.  Hope you enjoy Manifest Delusions as much as we Doppels have!

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AUTHOR BIO

MICHAEL FLETCHERMichael R. Fletcher lives in the endless suburban sprawl north of Toronto with his wife and daughter. He dreams of trees and someday once again being able to see the stars at night. He used to do sound for bands in dark clubs where the air was blue with cigarette smoke. He used to record bands in dank basements where things crawled across your feet and swam in your coffee. For a while he was a Project Manager. Now he writes books. Next he wants to be a either race car driver or a ninja.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelRFletcher

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FletcherMR

Site: http://michaelrfletcher.com/

John Anthony Di Giovanni: http://www.jadillustrated.com/

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Check Out All the Manifest Delusion Madness

Book Spotlight

Bookwraiths’ Favorite Geisteskranken

Michael Fletcher’s Favorite Geisteskranken

Guest Post: Evolution of A Fantasy Cover

Michael Fletcher Interview

Purchase the books at Amazon

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MERRY CHRISTMAS

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Wishing everyone the best on this beautiful Christmas Day 2016!  Thanks so much for another great year of sharing and discovering great books.

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MANIFEST DELUSIONS MADNESS: MICHAEL R. FLETCHER SPEAKS

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I’m excited to welcome back Michael R. Fletcher to Bookwraiths for a short Q&A.  (Yeah, he actually agreed to do this twice, dude.)  Definitely, I could go on and on about what a cool guy he is, what an amazing writer, but since I know everyone would rather just read the interview already, I’m turning it over to the Master of Madness himself: Michael R. Fletcher.

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Sum up Manifest Delusions in as few words as possible?

Crazy! Ha! One word! Dammit I just used more words bragging about my one word answer. No point in stopping now. The base idea is that reality is responsive to the beliefs of humanity, and crazy people can believe insane things and are thus powerful.

Why will readers (hopefully) love these insane shites?

My goal is to put the reader right inside the head of all kinds of crazy people. You might not like them all, but—if I did it right—you’ll at least understand them.

Beyond RedemptionYou’ve said you were surprised Beyond Redemption was ever published, so did it surprise you when so many reviewers and readers fell in love with this world of insane shites?

Yes! I mean, what the hells is wrong with you people!? This is a cast of irredeemable reprobates. The most likeable character is a sociopath and the rest are much worse. And quite possibly the worst, most violent character (Stehlen), is also the one people most like and relate to. That’s crazy! She’s a psychotic murderer!

After BR’s release, was there any one moment when you realized you’d really hit a cord among grimdark fans with your story?

When folks started referring to BEYOND REDEMPTION as the grimdarkest of the grimdark, and true grimdark, I realized I’d found my people. They understood the story for what it was, weren’t upset by the terrible cast of characters, and saw deeper than the surface violence. It was a slow burn rather than an over night thing.

Do you have any favorite music to write by?

Yeah, I’m a total metalhead. I can’t be too heavy.

Favorite musical acts: all-time and current?

The single most important band in all the world is Iron Maiden, and the Piece of Mind album is the pinnacle. That said, these days my tastes run a little heavier. My favourites change weekly. These days I’m listening to a lot of Sylosis, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Rotting Christ.

Are Bedeckt, Stehlen, or Wichtig based on real life people?  Are they still in prison?

Wichtig is very much based on someone I knew quite well. Much of his sociopathic self-serving dialogue was taken verbatim from conversations we had. The others are dreamed up and not at all based on my own issues.

newmirror8I have to ask, what is up with all the German sounding names?

When I wrote the book I really didn’t think it would ever sell. I figured a half dozen of my closest friends would be the only folks to ever read it. Since none of them speak German, I used that language to hide little Easter eggs in the names. Also, I like the way the language sounds, and it helped distance the story from the typical Anglo-centric fantasy.

I have read that your next book is set in the same world but in a different local, so is there any chance of returning to this cast of characters in the future?

It’s definitely a possibility. I’d be awfully surprised if I wasn’t sucked back into that world of filth and chaos. Right now, however, I have to focus on my new project. It’s still dark fantasy, but taking place in a new world and with a new magic system. It’s pretty fucked up.

Are your delusions currently manifesting, or are you still taking your medications?

I’m self-medicating with whiskey. For the most part it works.

Favorite movie: all-time and current?

The original Star Wars was hugely influential for me. More recently…I’d have to say Fight Club. Once I decided I wanted to be a writer (total dumbass decision by the way) I gave up most of life’s distractions. The only movies I watch these days are the one I see with my six year old daughter. Megamind was pretty good.

Best advice you’ve received from other authors since Beyond Redemption was published?

Don’t write the sequel until there is demand for it.

Last book you actually had time to read, and did you enjoy it?

The last truly awesome book I read was The Mermaid’s Tale by Den Valdron. It was released by a Canadian micropress and is frankly stunning.

Is there a map of the world of Manifest Delusions?  I mean, you know that is a requirement.

Yep! I’m pretty sure I included it in The Mirror’s Truth. It’s also available on the Manifest Delusions wiki: www.michaelrfletcher.com/beyondwiki


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Having self-published The Mirror’s Truth, what did you learn about self-publishing world?

It’s a lot of work, and it’s really expensive! You have two options, release sloppy crap or release polished product that will probably never earn back what it cost to put out. Ok. I exaggerate. But not by much. If The Mirror’s Truth earns back what I spent on it, I’ll be stunned. Next time I’m doing the cover art and typography myself…with a crayon!

Musicians or authors: who has better fans?

While I played in a goth metal band for a little over a decade, I never really had fans. At least none that talked to me. As a writer I interact with folks every day through facebook and twitter and whatnot. It’s amazing. Since BR was released in June of 2015, I’ve only had two people where I thought, this person ain’t quite right. Fantasy fans are awesome. Their love of the genre and veiled death threats are all that keep me writing.

Obviously, you interact with lots of people in social media and elsewhere when promoting a book, so have you had any funny experiences that stick out in your mind?

Well there was all those naked pictures you were sending for a while. What happened? Why did you stop?

How does it make you feel when your books are mentioned right up with some of the best grimdarks in the field?

It’s funny, you have a book published by the likes of Harper Voyager and all of a sudden people think you’re this professional writer. I’m just some schlep. I’m a fan who somehow managed to get published. The best part of being published is getting to hobnob with real writers and pretend I’m one of them.

And it feels amazing! Getting mentioned alongside the likes of Mark Lawrence, Daniel Polansky, Django Wexler, and Anthony Ryan is a dream come true. These are my favourite writers!

What projects should your fans be eagerly awaiting?

There’s this new series coming out in 2017 called Empires of Dust by Anna Smith-Spark. The first book is The Court of Broken Knives. Seriously worth grabbing. Er…the book I mean. And then, if you have some money left over, get Swarm and Steel. It takes place in the World of Manifest Delusions but with a new cast of characters. Apparently hardcover preorders are already set up.

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AUTHOR BIO

MICHAEL FLETCHERMichael R. Fletcher lives in the endless suburban sprawl north of Toronto with his wife and daughter. He dreams of trees and someday once again being able to see the stars at night. He used to do sound for bands in dark clubs where the air was blue with cigarette smoke. He used to record bands in dank basements where things crawled across your feet and swam in your coffee. For a while he was a Project Manager. Now he writes books. Next he wants to be a either race car driver or a ninja.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelRFletcher

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FletcherMR

Site: http://michaelrfletcher.com/

John Anthony Di Giovanni: http://www.jadillustrated.com/

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

Of if you can’t wait for that then purchase the books at Amazon

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MANIFEST DELUSIONS MADNESS: EVOLUTION OF A FANTASY COVER

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Wendell (AKA Bookwraiths) and I were talking about guest post ideas for the week of Manifest Madness and somehow we hit upon the idea of talking about the art process for the cover of The Mirror’s Truth. It only occurred to me later that I really had no idea what the process was. I mean, from my point of view, the process was: call John Anthony Di Giovanni and say, “Dude, I need an awesome cover for my book.”

Don’t tell John (though people keep calling him Anthony so…not sure what’s going on there), but I had no idea he was an artist. I was trolling facebook groups, looking at book covers I liked and trying to decide who to hire for the project when my wife said, “What about Anthony?” referring to her brother’s wife’s nephew.

“He’s an artist?”

And then she gave me that look she gives me when she thinks maybe I’m not altogether there. So I looked him up online (click on his name above to check out a bit of his portfolio) and was blown away. I immediately began stalking him. Luckily, there were some family events he attended which made it much easier.

Anyway. I pestered John/Anthony for a few words on his process and he agreed! And so without any further babbling from me, here it is, straight from the artist’s mouth…uh…typing fingers…

Exploration actually began before these sketches with a couple of pages of postage stamp sized thumbnail drawing in a sketchbook. I’ve learned to use the thumbnail process to exhaust all of my default solutions to a visual challenge and explore more interesting compositions in a quick and inexpensive way. 

I chose some thumbnails I thought might work, opened up photoshop and put together a few tonal sketches to send to Michael that would give him an idea of different directions we could take things. 

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After some discussion we decided the sketch on the left was the most dynamic and had the most potential to indicate the movement and madness that the story embodies. From here I opened up a new canvas and started in color, refining the composition and exploring the sort of palette that would feel right for this book. I shot several photos for reference material for our leading man and began working things to a point where Michael could get a pretty clear idea of where we would end up in the final. I sent it off to him and he seemed pretty pleased with it – he had a few good notes and I told him I’d start working on a finish.

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At this point, while Mike seemed pretty happy, I felt like the composition really wasn’t succeeding in expressing the energy and dynamism I was aiming for. I wanted the image to express the violence and chaos of the story in the ‘graphic design’ as well as the content (angry man charging with axe). I spent some time troubleshooting the composition, I broke it down into its most basic value pattern and tried to see if there were things I could nudge and shift to get the arrangement of shapes and values to read more boldly.

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I also realized that for a cover like this our lead guy needed to be bigger.

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It was already beginning to feel like something of an improvement at this point, but I still wasn’t sold. It was also a bit of a tricky balancing act because I had already showed Michael where we were headed and there was a deadline looming. So while it was clear to me that my image needed fundamental improvement, I was hesitant to change things too dramatically.

I decided to take a risk. The shape of the lead character wasn’t doing it for me and I decided to start from scratch. I made new sketches, shot new reference photos, and roughed in a new lead character – and I did it fast.

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To make this big a change, I had to blow Michael away or else I would have been pulling all-nighters trying to make the old version work. I did a bit more rendering, brought the ghouly soldiers closer to the foreground and made sure I had some clear reads with their silhouettes. I also worked to make the dragon shape more dragon-like. I crossed my fingers and sent this version to Michael, luckily his feelings seemed to reflect my own on the matter and I moved into the finishing process.

Mike: I think my response was, “Holy shit! This is amazing!”

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The finish was mostly a ‘feeling-it-out’ kind of thing. Working digitally I sort of just lean on the magic of layers and the ability to undo any major mistakes and try things out. I do a lot of experimenting until things feel right. At the same time I’m always thinking of my intention for the composition and making sure every decision is emphasizing my point and not weakening it or watering it down.

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Thanks, John!

From my own point of view, he made a cover I was quite happy with, muttered something about tweaking things a little bit and came back with something that blew me away. Bits of brain stuck to walls and everything.

After that, I turned to Shawn T. King for the typography. But that’s a post I’ve promised to someone else. Here, is the final front cover:

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Back Cover Copy

Where belief defines reality, delusions are both strength and curse: The deeper you sink into madness the more powerful you become. But that power comes with a price. Your darkest nightmares hunt you at night. The face in the mirror hates you and wants to be free. Your fears manifest and plot your destruction.

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Bedeckt defined himself by the list of crimes he was unwilling to commit. It was such a short list. How could straying from it have gone so wrong?

Now Bedeckt must undo the damage caused by wandering from his precious list. The Geborene god seeks to remake the world with his obsessive need for cleanliness and perfection, but Bedeckt is going to bring him down. Nothing can stop him. Not even death.

The two friends he abandoned in the Afterdeath chase after Bedeckt, bent on revenge. Psychotic assassins hunt him. Something cold and evil follows, lurking in the clouds above, shredding reality with its delusions. Madness and sanity war, stretching and tearing the very fabric of existence.

The dead shall rise.

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AUTHOR BIO

MICHAEL FLETCHERMichael R. Fletcher lives in the endless suburban sprawl north of Toronto with his wife and daughter. He dreams of trees and someday once again being able to see the stars at night. He used to do sound for bands in dark clubs where the air was blue with cigarette smoke. He used to record bands in dank basements where things crawled across your feet and swam in your coffee. For a while he was a Project Manager. Now he writes books. Next he wants to be a either race car driver or a ninja.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelRFletcher

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FletcherMR

Site: http://michaelrfletcher.com/

John Anthony Di Giovanni: http://www.jadillustrated.com/

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

Of if you can’t wait for that then purchase the books at Amazon

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Talking Delusions: An Interview with Michael R. Fletcher

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The BiblioSanctum

Michael R. FletcherToday I am thrilled to welcome back Michael R. Fletcher to The BiblioSanctum for a chat about his new novel The Mirror’s Truth, book two in the Manifest Delusions series which is out now on Amazon and Kindle. Be sure to check out my review of the book in case you missed how much I loved it! And if you happen to be a fan of grimdark who hasn’t read the first book Beyond Redemption yet, you need to run not walk to your nearest bookstore to join the insanity! Hope you enjoy our Q&A!

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Hi Michael, thanks for the interview. It’s always great to have you join us!

Hi Mogsy! Thanks for having me! I like what you’ve done with the place. Those medieval torture devices are new, right? Um…they’re not for me, are they?

Dang it! I thought I told them to move all that stuff into…

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