Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday - The Armored Saint by Myke Cole (@MykeCole)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, originally hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Since Jill is no longer hosting it, I'm joining Can’t Wait Wednesday movement over at Wishful Endings.

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole
Expected publication: February 20, 2018 by Tor.com

"Cole weaves a fantasy world that feels comfortably familiar, then goes to places you’d never expect. You won’t stop turning pages until the stunning finish." —Peter V. Brett

Myke Cole, star of CBS's Hunted and author of the Shadow Ops series, debuts the Sacred Throne epic fantasy trilogy with The Armored Saint, a story of religious tyrants, arcane war-machines, and underground resistance that will enthrall epic fantasy readers of all ages.

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

Cole's Shadow Ops series is one I've been intending to get back to forever, but since epic fantasy is much more my forte, I'm excited to dive into this.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

#Adventure Review: The Midas Legacy by Andy McDermott

Although the latest outing for Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase is more James Bond than Indiana Jones - complete with a Tomorrow Never Dies type subplot that (thankfully) turns out to be a red herringThe Midas Legacy is still a rollicking good read from Andy McDermott, and one that has a great historical/mythological twist.

The opening scenes are absolutely fantastic, with an underwater exploration of Atlantis that is almost worth the price of admission alone. The highlight of the story, though, is the exploration of a hidden cave, high in the Himalayas, which has an Atlantean connection . . . and which offers up a very cool (and reasonably plausible) explanation for the legend of King Midas and his golden touch. McDermott has a knack for teasing something new from history and mythology, turning fiction into fact, and it works really well here.

That is really there where the Indiana Jones aspect comes to a close, with secrets and revelations about Nina's family history carrying the story through to the James Bond portion. I do like, however, that McDermott explores the family past here, explaining how and why her parents came to be such experts in Atlantis, and creating an even more interesting back-story for them. It adds a new layer of conflict into the story as well, with lies, secrets, and ulterior motives abounding.

As for that James Bond portion, it is a ton of fun, action-packed, over-the-top, and entirely catastrophic. I have absolutely no problem with that aspect - I'll take the scene-chewing villains and cartoon explosions over another bleak Daniel Craig outing any day - I would just prefer more digging, exploring, and unearthing of historical treasures.

The Midas Legacy isn't Andy McDermott's best, but it's still one hell of a fun read.

Paperback, 640 pages
Published March 28th 2017 by Dell

Monday, January 22, 2018

Kane Gilmour talks Kaiju Destruction in Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters

I grew up in the 1970s, and monsters were everywhere. Not the kind you read about today in the news, chaining children up in basements or charging dying people thousands of dollars for needed medications. These were the classic creatures of myth and legend, or spooky castles and forlorn forests. Fairytales and adventure stories. Black-and-white movie reruns on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, after all the cartoons or religious shows were over. Then came the monsters.

Okay, yes, sometimes it was a Tarzan movie, or Peter Cushing in The Hound of the Baskervilles, or more regularly it was a Chinese Kung Fu movie. While my older step-brother went outside to play street baseball or football, I stayed in, hoping beyond hope for Abbot and Costello to meet Frankenstein, or if I was really lucky, King Kong might make an appearance. Dracula was a favorite. As was the Wolf Man. But one creature was king on those weekend afternoons, and when Godzilla was going to be on, even my step-brother would stay inside and watch.

There was just something about the giant lizard monster destroying cityscapes, telephone wires, and tanks. Something glorious about the creature swatting an enemy with his tail or unleashing atomic breath on a particularly nasty flying foe (we’re looking at you here, Rodan). At the time, I just loved to watch those stories—even the ones with the somewhat slow-on-the-uptake and much reviled these days ‘Minilla,’ Godzilla’s awkward son. I was just the right age to appreciate him then.

Eventually I moved on to other things in the 80s and 90s, but I went back and watched all of the films from the Heisei and Millennium periods about ten years ago. But exactly what it was about Godzilla that drew me was never at the forefront of my consciousness. Not until 2013, when Nick Sharps asked me to write a short story for an anthology called Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters. I had been preparing for a few years at that point to write a YA novel featuring kaiju (even before the Kaiju Thriller genre was born, by Jeremy Robinson stomping it into existence with Project Nemesis—which I urged him to write and ended up editing for him, as well). I only ever wrote about a third of my own kaiju book, and I’m still hoping to get back to it one day. But the point is, I had been actively thinking about kaiju and what makes the genre appealing to people.

I still didn’t have an answer when I wrote my short story for that first anthology, “The Lighthouse Keeper of Kurohaka Island.” But as we began to promote the book, it suddenly came to me. I’ve written a bunch of other things since that story, and my career has jinked and jagged in different directions. But when Nick asked me if I might be interested in contributing to yet another kaiju themed anthology, cleverly titled Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II (and which Nick jokingly suggested the publisher would call Kaiju Rising 2: Electric Boogaloo), I think he got the words “Dude, would you like to—” before I cut him off with a hearty “Hell, yes!” Because I had had fun with the first story. It was well received and reviewed. It even got reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Kaiju edited by Sean Wallace, and I loved getting paid twice for the same work. The publisher was great to work with and they paid me well and on time. (I had also worked with them again on a project that was a bit late, but of the same caliber of excellence, MECH: Age of Steel.)Why wouldn’t I want to do another one? The books were fun, people liked them, and the people I worked with were professionals.

But another story meant thinking about kaiju, and their impact (no pun intended), and it meant throwing myself back into my fictional world I had created for the first story, which was the same world of my still-unfinished YA novel. Because I wanted this story to be a sequel of sorts to the first, but set in the modern day, whereas the first had been set in WWII Japan. Alana Joli Abbott, one of the two editors on this project, asked all the authors to think about some questions that we could use for promotion, and one of them was the key to it all. The same question I had come up with an answer to when promoting the first excellent Kaiju Rising anthology.

“What is a theme you identify with in big monster stories?”

Obviously there are a lot of answers for many people. Mankind’s hubris. Mother Nature’s way of reclaiming things. Issues of who the real monster might be or examining the monster inside. Who is responsible for creating the monsters? Thinly veiled analogies toward nuclear weapons, kaiju as forces of nature or survival instead of malice, and so forth. The list goes on. But what I had come up with in 2013, and what I was reminded of when Alana asked the question is at the core of the appeal of kaiju, for me, and I think for all people.

It’s a primal recognition of and identification with the urge to destroy. We do it as very small children, before we’ve been taught better, before we’ve been shown that it’s better (and harder) to create than to destroy. But most of us can recall being little, and building a tower of blocks or LEGOs, or setting up a village of tiny toys. And we can remember pretending to be a massive creature and rampaging through our creation and knocking it all down. It’s a primal, and I think universal, experience. Even if you were too poor to have wooden blocks for toys, you might have built something with sticks and imagined the power of being much larger than a normal human. Giant sized. Kaiju. And then you crashed through things and destroyed them. I’ve travelled to over forty countries around the world and seen children in some incredibly squalid conditions. Even though many of them had surely never seen a Godzilla film, the toddler impulse to build and then destroy is everywhere.

Somewhere in our natures is the capacity to destroy, and when we are children, we are much closer to accessing that capacity, before our restraints are put into place by parents and society. We know it’s not right to destroy things, and most of us don’t do it in adulthood anymore. But the lure of the monster stomp is there, and we get to live out those toddler fantasies when we watch a Godzilla movie or read a Nemesis novel, or read a collection of giant monster tales from a gaggle of talented authors. We want to see the monsters crush things, but we also want to see the human-piloted giant robots halt their rampages in films like Pacific Rim or to have a benevolent monster intercede in a kaiju brawl—because we also know the destruction cannot go on forever. And we’d much rather imagine a world of destruction halted by heroic figures than to see the emaciated chained captives in basements or the smug faces of pharma-bros getting rich off the helplessness of the weak. Because those things make the toddler in us all want to go berserk and knock down all the blocks.


About the Author

Kane Gilmour is the international bestselling author of The Crypt of Dracula. He has co-authored several titles with Jeremy Robinson and also writes his own thriller novels. In addition to his work in novels, Kane has had short stories appear in several anthologies and magazines, and he worked on artist Scott P. Vaughn’s sci-fi noir webcomic, Warbirds of Mars as well as on Jeremy Robinson’s comic book adaptation of the novel Island 731. He lives with his significant other, his kids, her kids, and three dogs in Vermont. He’s thinking of buying a farm to house them all.

Visit him online at: kanegilmour.com


About the Book

A few years ago, Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters smashed onto the book scene, collecting stories from some of the best writers of monsters in the business.

Now, the age of monsters continues on with the follow up anthology, Kaiju Rising II, featuring stories from authors like Jeremy Robinson, Marie Brennan, Dan Wells, ML Brennan, Jonathan Green, Lee Murray, Cullen Bunn, and more! If you love movies like Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and Kong, you won't want to miss it.

Support this anthology from Outland Publications on Kickstarter now, keywords Kaiju Rising.


Kaiju Rising II: Ask Authors Anything!

On Tuesday, January 23, ask Kane Gilmour and the other authors in Kaiju Rising II anything! It's an AMA party from 1PM-9 PM Eastern, right on Facebook.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

#Thriller Review: City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

I can't remember the last time I sat down and devoured a book, cover-to-cover, in a single setting. It's a rare pleasure but, then again, so is Agent Pendergast.

City of Endless Night continues the exploration of a weary and wounded Agent Pendergast, a man unsettled emotionally, and very much off his game. What you might expect to be a sad, disappointing exploration of a hero who has lost his powers (so to speak), however, is instead a fascinating look at how that same hero emerges from his own darkness.

For their 17th book in the series, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child reunite Agent Pendergast with Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta, reuniting them in a case that harkens back to their earliest adventures, but which is also something new. The central mystery is entirely ordinary, devoid of even the hint of the supernatural, but a fitting commentary on the clash between poverty and the one-percenters, as well as the culture of 'fake news.' It's a fun mystery, involving locked rooms, James Bond type infiltrations, and decapitations, but the thrill here is less in the solution and more in the solving.

Watching Agent Pendergast come alive is a real treat, with the slow reveal of the personality traits, behaviors, and dialogue we've come to appreciate over the years. He moves from disinterested, to frustrated, to curious, to fully engaged . . . from mortally human to the intellectual superhero who blew our minds in the first few books. It all culminates in a cat-and-mouse game inside the ruins of an abandoned asylum where the hunter and the hunted are interchangeable, presenting him with a worthy adversary - and one who doesn't have the advantage of being family.

While it's a standalone thriller that does little to advance the overall mythology, City of Endless Night does feature a significant death. and has a gut-punch of an epilogue that demands we keep reading.

As if we could ever turn away.

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by Grand Central Publishing

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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday - Art of War edited by Petros Triantafyllou (@booknest_eu)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, originally hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Since Jill is no longer hosting it, I'm joining Can’t Wait Wednesday movement over at Wishful Endings.

Art of War: Anthology for Charity edited by by Petros Triantafyllou 
Expected publication: February 13, 2018

"War, my friend, is a thing of beauty."

How do you get forty fantasy authors to contribute short stories for a war-themed anthology without paying them? It sounds as if there should be a good punchline to that, but all Petros Triantafyllou did was twist the moral thumbscrews and tell them all the profits would go to Doctors Without Borders, a charity that works tirelessly across the world to alleviate the effects of conflict, sickness and poverty.

So, with clear consciences, several busloads of excellent and acclaimed fantasy authors have applied themselves to the task of penning a veritable mountain of words on the subject of The Art of War, expect bloodshed, gore, pathos, insight, passion, and laughs. Maybe even a wombat. Who knows. Anyway, as the original blurb said: "It's good. Buy it."
-Mark Lawrence

Featuring: Mark Lawrence, Ed Greenwood, Brian Staveley, Miles Cameron, John Gwynne, Sebastien De Castell, Mitchell Hogan, Stan Nicholls, Andrew Rowe, C.T. Phipps, Rob J. Hayes, Nicholas Eames, Mazarkis Williams, Ben Galley, Michael R. Fletcher, Graham Austin-King, Ed McDonald, Anna Stephens, Anna Smith Spark, RJ Barker, Michael R. Miller, Benedict Patrick, Sue Tingey, Dyrk Ashton, Steven Kelliher, Timandra Whitecastle, Laura M Hughes, J.P. Ashman, M.L. Spencer, Steven Poore, Brandon Draga, D. Thourson Palmer, D.M. Murray, Anne Nicholls, R.B. Watkinson, Charles F Bond, Ulff Lehmann, Thomas R. Gaskin, Zachary Barnes & Nathan Boyce. With a Foreword by Brian D. Anderson.

Print version includes 40 black & white interior art pieces.

That list of authors is a serious who's who of modern fantasy, with at least a dozen absolute must-reads for me, and twice as many more new authors to discover . . . PLUS it's for charity. To paraphrase Mark Lawrence, It sounds good. Buy it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

#Horror Review: Honger 2 by Terry M. West (@TerryMWest)

Whereas the original Honger was a sad, violent tale, one with a solid backstory and a well-developed mythology, the sequel is more gleefully vindictive, with a thread of dark justice that moves it beyond the sorrow and regrets.

In Honger 2, Terry M. West passes the inhuman appetite to a new generation, a homeless junkie who turns out to be a pawn between the men of the first story.

Just as violent as the first story, this is a book that's full of bloodshed, cannibalism, and brutality. West never shies away from Chloe's hunger for human flesh, but deals with the entire experience of wanting, fearing, enjoying, and rationalizing the experience.

What makes this book even more engaging than the first is how her hunger brings her into contact with a pair of amateur snuff pornographers who see in her the perfect victim for their latest client's dark, perverse demands. It probably comes as no surprise that she doesn't play the victim well, and it make for a suitably glorious and grotesque finale.

Kindle Edition
Published January 9th 2018

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