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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Friend or Foe: Science Fiction Debates the Alien Agenda by Claudine Kapel (guest post)

Friend or Foe: Science Fiction Debates the Alien Agenda
by Claudine Kapel

From ET to Independence Day, countless works of science fiction have envisioned how human encounters with aliens might unfold – for better or worse.

Science fiction engages the imagination because it contemplates what types of life might exist beyond our small blue planet, in the endless reaches of space.

As humans, we have a natural wonder about our place in the cosmos. We experience a sense of awe when we see images from our solar system or galaxy, such as those shared by NASA or captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

We gaze up at the night sky and we ponder: Is there other life out there?

Both scientific analysis and speculative fiction suggest that it is indeed highly likely that other types of life share this universe with us. Given the vastness of space, many see it as statistically unlikely that our own Earth would be the only life-sustaining planet in the cosmos.

But as much as we find the possibility of alien life intriguing, for some it can also be a cause for concern. After all, what if these aliens arrive and they aren’t very nice?

That possibility has long been rich fodder for science fiction. Some works, such as the long-running Stargate SG-1 television series, or the Men In Black films, portrayed aliens – or at least some of them – as having the potential to be friends and allies.

Other works, such as the Star Trek franchise or the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, suggested beings from other worlds also have the potential to be teachers and guides who can help illuminate the unknown territory of space for us.

But science fiction often has a darker tone. Consider the X-Files, which depicted encounters with aliens that were more sinister in nature, including the abduction of humans.

And then there are the works that explore the possibility of an alien invasion of Earth, although plucky humans often prevail, even against insurmountable odds. Films such as Independence Day or Battleship have centered on the ability of humans to rise to the challenge when faced with an alien threat, not to mention superior alien ships and weapons.

All in all, the imaginative potential for science fiction is as boundless as the reaches of space. Yet at the same time, what gives science fiction a sharper edge is the possibility that some of what is conveyed on the page or screen might reflect a deeper truth.

We may indeed be sharing the cosmos with others – and perhaps even many others.

And the evidence that we are not alone may be closer than we think. Consider, for example, the work of UFO research group, the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) – which tracks reports from people around the world who say they have witnessed an unidentified flying object. MUFON compiles so many reports that it updates the listing on its website frequently, sometimes on a daily basis.

For now, though, we can only speculate on the alien agenda, deciding for ourselves whether they are likely to be friend or foe.

Yet until we have close encounters of our own, we can continue rely on science fiction to help us envision what may lie beyond the stars – and what our planet might be like if beings from other worlds came knocking.

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About the Author

Claudine Kapel is the Canadian author of the Ryan Cole adventure series, which features a team of investigators who contend with alien agendas on Earth. The series includes A Darker Rain, as well as the recently published A Chance of Light.

Claudine can be found online at claudinekapel.com.

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About the Book

A Chance of Light (A Ryan Cole Adventure, Book 2)
by Claudine Kapel 

Spaceships don’t just disappear...

When an alien spaceship vanishes after crashing in the Mojave Desert, Ryan Cole and his team are tasked with finding the craft and securing its cache of advanced technology.

The investigation proves perilous as others are also hunting for the ship, including arms dealer Antoine Drake and his alien allies.

When Cole agrees to help a woman from his past, it leads to a dangerous encounter with Drake and startling revelations about the alien presence on the planet. He finds himself in a race against time to uncover the location of the spaceship and the nature of its mission.

But discovering the secrets of beings from other worlds comes with a price. Because when humans and aliens collide, the truth can be deadly.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday: Twilight of the Dragons by Andy Remic

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

Twilight of the Dragons by Andy Remic
Published Sept 6th 2016 by Angry Robot

During a recent dwarf civil-war deep under the Karamakkos Mountains, the magick-enslaved dragonlords have broken free from centuries of imprisonment and slaughtered tens of thousands throughout the Five Havens before exploding from the mountain and heading in fire and vengeance for the lands of Vagandrak.

Two once-noble war heroes of Vagandrak – Dakeroth and his wife Jonti Tal, an archer and scholar, the Axeman, the White Witch and a Kaalesh combat expert find themselves in a unique position: for they have discovered the ancient dragon city of Wyrmblood, and a thousand unhatched dragon eggs.

Dakeroth and his companions must work with their enemies, Skalg and the Church of Hate, in order to bring down the dragonlords and save the world of men and dwarves. But there is no bartering with these ancient dragons; for they seek to hatch their eggs and rebuild the cruel Wyrmblood Empire of legend.


Following up on The Dragon Engine, which was set in the same world as The Rage of Kings, this promises to be another mature, more adult, no-hold-barred fantasy novel.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

#Horror Review: Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane

Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell. There is so just much potential in the concept. Handle it right, and you've got yourself a horror/mystery that is destined to become a genre staple. Fumble it at any point, however, and you have two separate camps of fandom ready to critique, condemn, and drag you to . . . well, Hell.

Fortunately, Paul Kane knows his stuff, and what we have here is no mere imaginative lark. Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is a very carefully constructed story that considers the legacies of both Doyle and Barker, and which not only finds a point at which the two can meet, but one in which that intersection actually adds something to each respective story.

In terms of narrative, this absolutely feels like a Sherlock Holmes story. Kane captures the voice of Dr. Watson exceptionally well, and explains away any irregularities by presenting it as a tale that Watson never intends to publish. Furthermore, he sets it after the incident at Reichenbach Falls, using the Hellraiser mythology to cleverly explain the shift in Holmes' character and personality in those latter tales. He also does some clever work with The Hound of the Baskervilles, taking one of the most horrific Sherlock Holmes tales and casting some doubt upon its casual dismissal of the supernatural.

As far as Hellraiser is concerned, reading this is like an epic Easter Egg hunt. Kane touches upon all aspects of the extended mythology, including details from the original Hellbound Heart tale; the Hellraiser films; Barbie Wilde's tales of Sister Cilice in Voices of the Damned; and even several tales from the Hellbound Hearts anthology. There are some very nice parallels to the original story of the Cotton family; some fantastic background on the Lemarchand family and the Lament Configuration puzzle box; a gloriously grotesque band of Cenobites; and a vivid exploration of Hell that fits in very well with last year's Scarlet Gospels.

In bringing the two worlds together, Kane remains true to the feel and the style of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, but drags the story into darker, more decadent corners of the Victorian world. There is torture aplenty in this tale, both of the human and the Cenobite variety, and a BDSM-themed brothel that really allows him to play with (and foreshadow) the dark eroticism of Baker's sadomasochistic fantasies. Ultimately, however, it's the relationship between Holmes and Watson that makes the story work, testing the deepest, darkest bounds of friendship, and exploring the absolute darkest chapter in their shared story.

If you do choose to open the cover of Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, be forewarned that once you're well-and-truly hooked, the pages (like the puzzle box) do tend to turn themselves.

Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: July 12th 2016 by Solaris

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.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Unboxing this month's #HorrorBlock

I have to admit, when I got my first Nerd Block (Classic) last month, I was disappointed. The two Back to the Future pins were kind of lame; I have zero interest in a Sixteen Candles Funko Pop; I have no frame of reference to know whether the Rick & Morty t-shirt was cool or not; and the Iron Man mug was (sadly) more of a ceramic shot glass with a handle. The only thing I didn't give away or toss out was the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man plush.

Not wanting to be disappointed a second time, I switched to the Horror version this month - and it kicks ass!


I opened the box to find not 1 but 2 Funko Pops staring back at me, including Dr. Goodweather from The Strain and Angel from his Buffy days. Very nice.


Beneath that was a very cool Jaws T-shirt, and an Elm Street pillow case (come on, tell me that's awesome!). I'm not only ready to go back in the water, but I'm all set for a long nap afterwards.



Still not done yet, however, as there was also a cheesy new Turbokid DVD to watch, and the latest issue of Rue Morgue (which saves me from picking up a copy).


With Psycho, Friday the 13th, and Treehouse of Horror on tap next month, I think I'll stick with the Horror Block.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

From the Shelf to the Page: This Week in the Ruins

In case you missed it, here's what happened in the Ruins this week . . .


Fantasy Review: The Shadowed Path by Gail Z. Martin

Necromancy Light and Dark guest post by Gail Z. Martin

Waiting On Wednesday: Jerusalem by Alan Moore

Horror Review: Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories edited by Doug Murano & D. Alexander Ward

On Creating a Heroine guest post by Dan Jolley


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Stacking The Shelves and Mailbox Monday are a pair of weekly memes that are about sharing the books that came your way over the past week, and which you've added to your shelves - whether they be physical or virtual, borrowed or bought, or for pleasure or review.

Just 1 new review title this week, but since it's an October release, it doesn't really count against my summer scheme to clear out the review shelves.

A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
Expected publication: October 25th 2016 by Tor.com

Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.

Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. in defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.


For Father's Day, my wife got me an Indigo gift card, so I made good use of that. Stephen King is always best enjoyed as a pocket paperback (the same way I discovered him long ago); The Dinosaur Lords I want to re-read and take the time to enjoy before picking up the next book; Max Gladstone is an author I've been meaning to read for a while now; and A Crown for Cold Silver is one of those books I wasn't in the right mood to review as an ARC, but which I want to enjoy in paperback.



Finally, I did pick up a pair of Kindle titles that I am sure you'll be seeing on a WTF Friday sometime soon.

 

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is another weekly meme, this time focused on what books are spending the most time in your hands and in your head, as opposed to what's been added to your shelf.


Berzerkoids by MP Johnson
I'm a little late in getting to this, but looking forward to stories "so shockingly, oozingly awesome, you just have to read ‘em all!"

Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane
Technically, this one is a bit deeper into the review queue, but I've waited long enough. I've been waiting for this for over a year, and it's time to see Holmes meet Hellraiser.


 

What's topping your shelves this week?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Fantasy Review: The Shadowed Path by Gail Z. Martin (with #GIVEAWAY)

It's hard to believe that it's been almost a decade since Gail Z. Martin debuted on the fantasy scene with The Summoner, the first book of her Chronicles of the Necromancer. I can still remember spotting that brilliantly designed cover on the shelf, and being completely sucked in by the promise of dark magic and sweeping epic fantasy.

If you've read the series, then you are already well acquainted with Jonmarc Vanhanian. You know the man, and you know much of his story, but The Shadowed Path still has some surprises to go along with the 'ah-ha' moments we expect. If you are new to the world of the Chronicles, however, this collection of short stories stands alone just fine, and should serve as a perfect introduction.

The way the stories are structured here reminds me of those classic collections of Conan, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, and Elric. Each story stands on its own, but they are loosely linked together, working to tell a larger life story. Yes, there are gaps between them, and sometimes you're all too aware that the developments you'd expect in the next chapter of a novel are missing from the next story, but there's a definite charm to flow of narratives.

If there's a common theme to these stories, it's one of loss . . . of heartbreak . . . and of suffering. Cursed from the moment he first picked up a sword, Jonmarc watches as friends, families, lovers, and comrades are stolen from this life. Time and time again he moves on, rises above the tragedy, and reestablishes himself in a new life . . . only to lose it all again. Even if we already knew the facts of his life, watching him suffer through each challenge adds a whole new facet of sympathy and understanding to an already well-developed character.

As for the stories, they are all fantastic, full of action, adventure, and some real tension. Even though we know Jonmarc must survive them all, it's clear early on that nobody else is safe, and that sense of legitimate peril is something that sets these aside from most prequel tales. Caves of the Dead, Blood’s Cost, Bad Places, and Dark Passage were my favorites in the collection, and if those titles suggest a little something about my dark tastes in fantasy . . . well, it's not entirely wrong. All in all, whether you're a fan or a new reader, The Shadowed Path is well work kicking back with for some summer reading.

Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 14th 2016 by Solaris

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.

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Enter below to win one (1) physical copy of The Shadowed Path (US/UK/Canada/Australia) and one (1) ebook copy of Modern Magic (worldwide)

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Necromancy Light and Dark by Gail Z. Martin (GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY)

Necromancy Light and Dark
by Gail Z. Martin

I mostly write about necromancers who are good guys.

Tris Drayke, the main character in my Chronicles of the Necromancer / Fallen Kings Cycle series, struggles to control his power as he rises to be the strongest Summoner of his generation. Tormod Solveig, a secondary character in my Ascendant Kingdoms series, wields his power as a warlord and a necromancer with his sister Rinka, a fearsome warrior, watching his back. Archibald Donnelly, in my Deadly Curiosities dark urban fantasy series, takes the low key approach to necromancy with the misleading demeanor of a laid back archivist. They're the good guys, wrestling with the temptations of fearsome power to remain on the side of light.

Now let's go dark side. In the steampunk world of Iron & Blood, which I co-write with my husband, Larry N. Martin, we meet the dark necromancers, the Resurrectionists, Francis Tumblety and Adolph Brunrichter, as well as the Dollmaker, who try to uncover the secrets of clockwork-driven immortality. Scaith, a dark necromancer, also appears in The Sworn and The Dread in my Chronicles / Fallen Kings series, and the devotees of the dark goddess Shanthadura also move into the territory of dark necromancy. In Vendetta, part of my Deadly Curiosities series, Sariel calls on dark magic to control reapers and nephilim who in turn feed on the spirits of the dead.  And in The Shadowed Path, we meet Foor Arontala, a blood mage. He is not an necromancer himself, but he is sworn to freeing the soul of the Obsidian King, a powerful dark necromancer whose soul was imprisoned after he nearly brought the Winter Kingdoms to destruction.

Intent is everything.

I've written about hero necromancers because I don't believe power is intrinsically good or evil; what matters is what you do with the power. And as Spiderman knows, with great power comes great responsibility. What makes the responsible use of great power very difficult is imperfect information and human nature. Without complete information, it's easy to draw incorrect conclusions, come to bad decisions, and believe you're using the power to do the right thing when in fact, you've been badly misled. Worse, dire circumstances can tempt the best people to wonder if in this particular case, the end justifies the means. And of course, ego, denial, fear, anger, and the need for vengeance can blind us and send us down the road to hell with plenty of good intentions.

Which means that to remain serving the Light, a necromancer must be as vigilant about his/her actions as about the threats from the enemy. More so, perhaps, because self-delusion is easy and comfortable and the consequences of wrong choices affect both the living and the dead.

So the distinction that I draw between good and evil when it comes to necromancy comes down to respect for free will and volition. A necromancer who serves the Light will not force an unwilling spirit into a dead body, nor trap a spirit in a corpse that wants to be free. He or she will not keep a spirit from crossing to its final rest, nor trouble the spirits of the dead for personal gain or selfish reasons.

A good necromancer might call summon the spirits of the dead to learn information that benefits the larger whole. In battle, he/she might make it possible for the willing spirits of dead soldiers to reanimate their corpses or give their ghosts form and substance to fight. It is permitted to bind a spirit that wants to be healed to its dying body long enough for the body to be healed. A Light necromancer would be duty-bound to release spirits held against their will by curses or Dark magic.

So what about Dark necromancy? That gets into 'evil legions of the undead' territory. Dark necromancers are willing to use the souls of the dead and their ravaged corpses as shock troops, or to bind the souls of tortured and broken prisoners to their dying bodies and send them first into battle as sword fodder. The darker side of necromancy traps spirits and forces them into servitude, either as revenants or as zombies. Dark necromancy acts for selfish purposes and the aggrandizement of power without regard for agency, free will or self-determination.

Dark necromancy considers the spirits of the dead to be tools, nothing more than means to an end, without respect for them as human beings or immortal souls. A dark necromancer may serve a god or goddess and/or owe a deity a debt for assistance, but the practice of dark necromancy essentially sets the mage outside of and above humanity by meddling with human souls. Dark necromancy, in my worlds, is tied to blood magic, which requires forbidden magic and usually either human or animal sacrifice. Once again, intention is key, since the willingness to sacrifice another living being for the accumulation of power marks and sullies the soul of the practitioner.

In the end, the same choices that make a dark necromancer also make a monstrous human being: the disregard for freedom of choice and the value of human life.

Check out The Shadowed Path, my newest epic fantasy collection of Jonmarc Vahanian short stories in paperback and ebook from Solaris Books. And be sure to also look for Modern Magic: Twelve Tales of Urban Fantasy, a 12 book, 13 author ebook boxed set including Trifles and Folly, the first-ever collection of 10 Deadly Curiosities Adventures short stories!

From June 21-June 30 I'll be doing my annual Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event blog tour, and I hope readers will stop over to my website, find out what all is going on and where to find the posts, giveaways, contests and fun events. And of course, please look for The Shadowed Path at your favorite bookseller!

The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 22 awesome partner sites around the globe. I'll also be hosting many of my Modern Magic co-authors guest posting on my DisquietingVisions.com blog during the tour.  For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com.

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About the Author

Gail Z. Martin is the author of The Shadowed Path (Solaris Books), Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Solaris Books); Shadow and Flame the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books); and Iron and Blood a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

She is also author of Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen); The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities.  Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden Adventures. The Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

Her work has appeared in over 30 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: Robots, The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Heroes, Space, Contact Light, With Great Power, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Cinched: Imagination Unbound, Realms of Imagination, Gaslight and Grimm, Baker Street Irregulars, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens.

Find her at www.AscendantKingdoms.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com, on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/GailZMartin and  free excerpts on Wattpad http://wattpad.com/GailZMartin.

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About the Book

The Shadowed Path: A Jonmarc Vanhanian Collection by Gail Z. Martin 
Published June 14th 2016 by Solaris

These are the untold tales of Jonmarc Vahanian, hero of Gail Z. Martin’s best-selling Chronicles of the Necromancer series.

Jonmarc Vahanian was just a blacksmith’s son in a small fishing village before raiders killed his family. Wounded and left for dead in the attack, Jonmarc tries to rebuild his life. But when a dangerous bargain with a shadowy stranger goes wrong, Jonmarc finds himself on the run, with nothing ahead but vengeance, and nothing behind him but blood.

Soldier. Fight slave. Smuggler. Warrior. Brigand lord.  If you’ve met Jonmarc Vahanian in the Chronicles of the Necromancer and Fallen Kings Cycle books, you don’t really know him until you walk in his footsteps. This is the first segment of his journey.

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Enter below to win one (1) physical copy of The Shadowed Path (US/UK/Canada/Australia) and one (1) ebook copy of Modern Magic (worldwide)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday: Jerusalem by Alan Moore

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

Jerusalem: A Novel by Alan Moore
Expected publication: September 13th 2016 by Liveright Publishing Corporation

In the half a square mile of decay and demolition that was England’s Saxon capital, eternity is loitering between the firetrap tower blocks. Embedded in the grubby amber of the district’s narrative among its saints, kings, prostitutes and derelicts a different kind of human time is happening, a soiled simultaneity that does not differentiate between the petrol-coloured puddles and the fractured dreams of those who navigate them. Fiends last mentioned in the Book of Tobit wait in urine-scented stairwells, the delinquent spectres of unlucky children undermine a century with tunnels, and in upstairs parlours labourers with golden blood reduce fate to a snooker tournament.

Disappeared lanes yield their own voices, built from lost words and forgotten dialect, to speak their broken legends and recount their startling genealogies, family histories of shame and madness and the marvellous. There is a conversation in the thunderstruck dome of St. Paul’s cathedral, childbirth on the cobblestones of Lambeth Walk, an estranged couple sitting all night on the cold steps of a Gothic church-front, and an infant choking on a cough drop for eleven chapters. An art exhibition is in preparation, and above the world a naked old man and a beautiful dead baby race along the Attics of the Breath towards the heat death of the universe.

An opulent mythology for those without a pot to piss in, through the labyrinthine streets and pages of Jerusalem tread ghosts that sing of wealth and poverty; of Africa, and hymns, and our threadbare millennium. They discuss English as a visionary language from John Bunyan to James Joyce, hold forth on the illusion of mortality post-Einstein, and insist upon the meanest slum as Blake’s eternal holy city. Fierce in its imagining and stupefying in its scope, this is the tale of everything, told from a vanished gutter.


To be completely honest, as intrigued as I am, and as much as I admire Moore's graphic novel work, I'm just not sure I have it in me to give this a read. It's over 1 million words, and contains a chapter dealing with the fourth dimension, one written like a Samuel Beckett play, and one completely "incomprehensible" chapter written in a completely invented sub-Joycean text. Um, yeah. I'm fascinated, and intensely curious, but really want to see a few reviews before considering it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Horror Review: Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories edited by Doug Murano & D. Alexander Ward

Already recognized as a successful indie publisher, with a Bram Stoker Award nomination and a slew of well-reviewed titles over the past few years, Crystal Lake has really stepped up their game with Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories. While there were a few entries I didn't care for, it was more a matter of personal taste/triggers than literary quality.

Doug Murano & D. Alexander Ward have pulled together an impressive mix of authors here, and that diversity is big part of what makes it such an interesting read. I won't dwell on those that didn't work for me - instead, I'll just share a few words on what I felt to be the standout pieces.

Picking Splinters from a Sex Slave” by Brian Kirk really sets the tone for this collection. It's one of the darkest, saddest stories I have ever read, with the father's inappropriate humor putting a perfect edge on the drama.

“Arbeit Macht Frei” was another dark tale, this time rooted in the real life horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, with Lisa Mannetti sharing a story of teenage selfishness and absolutely rotten timing.

“Water Thy Bones” by Mercedes M. Yardley was one of the high points of the collection, an odd sort of tale that explores the beautiful side of horror - which, as it turns out, is bone deep (not skin deep). It wasn't only an interesting story, but and interestingly told story.

“A Haunted House is a Wheel Upon Which Some Are Broken” initially seemed misplaced in the collection, being a dark sort of choose your own adventure tale, but as each choice exposes a different room and a different history, Paul Tremblay proves himself a clever addition.

“Coming to Grief” was a difficult story to gauge. As a story on its own, I appreciated it's take on childhood fears and the adult grieving process it, but knowing that it was written by Clive Barker created expectations to which it could not live up.

“Cards for His Spokes, Coins for His Fare” felt very much like a Stephen King or John Saul tale, with John F.D. Taff really distinguishing himself. It's a subtle story that takes a while to develop, but I really liked where it ended up.

“The Place of Revelation” by Ramsey Campbell closes the collection on a high note, with the story of a young boy and his ability to see things that feels like a vintage Campbell tale. It has plot, character, atmosphere, and more.

As the title says, Gutted really is a collection of Beautiful Horror Stories that isn't afraid to look for light in the strangest of places, even as it embraces the appeal of the darkness.

Paperback, 380 pages
Expected publication: June 24th 2016 by Crystal Lake 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.

Monday, June 20, 2016

On Creating a Heroine by Dan Jolley (Guest Post)

ON CREATING A HEROINE
By Dan Jolley

I started my career writing comic books.

And not the independent, original stuff; I wasn’t like Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, coming up with the so-iconic-they’re-nearly-godlike Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I got my start writing Aliens stories for Dark Horse, went on to do some Vampirella stuff for Harris, and from there moved into the ranks of DC and Marvel. One of the works I’m best known for in the comics industry is a story called JSA: The Liberty Files, which was a sort of alternate-reality, “What If” tale that starred Batman and Superman. (It asked the question, “What if Batman, Superman, and several other well-known DC heroes had been secret agents in World War II?”)

Essentially, I spent the first big chunk of my career writing characters other people had created.

This had its pros and cons. On the pro side, I learned to adapt to different personalities and different voices early on, so that when someone said to me, “We need you to write a story for such-and-such franchise,” I could say, “Sure, give me a few days for research and I’ll cook something up,” with very little anxiety. On the con side—and it took me years to realize this—I didn’t get all that much practice creating characters of my own. I didn’t have to invent Batman’s character. I just had to make sure I did his characterization justice.

That began to change when artists Tony Harris and Ray Snyder and I came up with a project called Obergeist. It was a seven-issue comic book mini-series, and was the story of a schizophrenic, psychokinetic, undead ex-Nazi on a mission from God. Original? Very. Commercially viable? Eh, not so much. But that was the first time I had really applied myself to coming up with someone new.

Several years after that, DC Comics asked me to revamp an existing character of theirs called Firestorm. After talking it over with DC editorial, my proposed new character was officially established as Jason Rusch, a 17-year-old African-American kid from Detroit.

Firestorm fans lost their minds on the Internet. “How can a white guy in his thirties, from the South, write a 17-year-old black kid from Detroit?” more than one message-board poster demanded. They also offered up opinions such as, “I’m never buying this book!” and “You suck, Jolley!”

But here’s the thing: when I was fleshing out Jason Rusch, who was basically an original character even though he was tied to the existing Firestorm franchise, I never once thought, “Hey, I’m going to write the best African-American character ever!” And I sure as hell never thought, “Ooh, here’s my chance to write the definitive African-American experience!” I would never think that, or try to do that, because the message-board posters were right about one thing: I was a Southern white guy in his thirties.

What I did do was try to put my own experiences into Jason Rusch. I drew on what my own childhood was like, and channeled some of the friction I had had with my own father, and through Jason I tried to let people see the feelings I had felt myself. That was all I wanted to do: just put some honest feelings down on the page. I was hoping that maybe honest human emotions would work, no matter the age or ethnicity or region of the country.

Cut to: the first major convention I attended after Firestorm came out, which was Wizard World Chicago. I was sitting there at my table, stacks of Firestorm #1 around me, waiting to see what would happen. (I had received enough bile and hatred on the Internet at that point that I was sort of expecting some fan to try to kill me.) But what actually happened was that, on three separate occasions, small groups of young African-American guys approached me, shook my hand, and told me how real Jason Rusch felt to them.

I was freaking ecstatic. In fact, even years later, the same kind of thing occasionally comes up; I was at another show last year, and met an African-American artist who had read Firestorm all those years ago. He told me he had asked another friend of his at the time, “Is this Dan Jolley guy black?”

Which brings us to Gray Widow’s Web. Because I know there are people out there who are thinking, “How is this white guy in his forties going to write a multi-ethnic woman in her late twenties?”

Part of the answer to that is, “Very carefully.” I’ve spent a lot of time studying the way people talk and think and react to things, and I believe (I hope) that I’ve got a decent handle on feminine characterization. It seemed to work pretty well in my YA novel trilogy, Alex Unlimited, which starred an 18-year-old girl.

But the real answer is, “The same way I wrote Jason Rusch.” I’m just trying to be honest. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to grow up as a person of color, because I’m Standard White Guy #8. I don’t pretend that I’m going to change the world with my never-before-seen, bone-deep analysis of what it’s like to be a young woman in today’s world, because I’m just eaten up with Y chromosomes.

And I do hope readers will get to know Janey Sinclair, the titular Gray Widow, and see how she feels about things, and how she reacts to things, and either think, “Yeah, I’ve felt that way,” or “Yeah, I know someone who’s felt that way.” I hope they’re right there with her as she deals with staggering loss arising from horrific gun violence, and tries to give herself permission to feel happiness after spending years lost in guilt. I hope that honest human emotions carry across ethnicities and cultures and genders. And, I mean, I also hope readers enjoy the sheer volume of ass she kicks, and how cool she looks in her stolen suit of military body armor, and how much guts it takes to face an antagonist as skin-crawlingly awful as Simon Grove, and the struggle she deals with in trying to understand how she developed the ability to teleport.

But if readers don’t care about her as a person, if they don’t identify with her emotions, they won’t care about any of that other stuff.

So! Please allow me to introduce you to Janey Sinclair, the Gray Widow.

I hope you grow as attached to her as I have.

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About the Author

Dan Jolley started writing professionally at age nineteen. Beginning in comic books, he has since branched out into original novels, licensed-property novels, children’s books, and video games. His twenty-five-year career includes the YA sci-fi/espionage trilogy Alex Unlimited; the award-winning comic book mini-series Obergeist; the Eisner Award-nominated comic book mini-series JSA: The Liberty Files; and the Transformers video games War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron. Dan was co-writer of the world-wide-bestselling zombie/parkour game Dying Light, and lead writer of the Oculus Rift game Chronos. Dan lives somewhere in the northwest Georgia foothills with his wife Tracy and a handful of largely inert cats. Gray Widow’s Walk is his first adult novel.

Learn more about Dan by visiting his website, www.danjolley.com, and follow him on Twitter @_DanJolley

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About the Book

Gray Widow’s Walk by Dan Jolley
Published May 13th 2016 by Seventh Star Press

“The only thing in this world you can truly control is yourself.”

Janey Sinclair’s ability to teleport has always been a mystery to her. She tried for years to ignore it, but when tragedy shatters her life, Janey’s anger consumes her. She hones her fighting skills, steals a prototype suit of military body armor, and takes to the streets of Atlanta, venting her rage as the masked vigilante dubbed “the Gray Widow” by the press.

But Janey’s power, and her willingness to use it, plunges her into a conflict on a much grander scale than she had anticipated.

Soon she encounters Simon Grove, a bloodthirsty runaway with a shapeshifting ability gone horribly wrong…

Garrison Vessler, an ex-FBI agent and current private defense contractor, who holds some of the answers Janey’s been searching for…

And Tim Kapoor, the first person in years with a chance of breaking through Janey’s emotional shell—if she’ll let him.

But as Janey’s vigilantism gains worldwide attention, and her showdown with Simon Grove draws ever closer, the reason for her augmented abilities—hers and all the others like her—begins to reveal itself. Because, high above the Earth, other eyes are watching. And they have far-reaching plans…

Gray Widow’s Walk is book one of the Gray Widow Trilogy, to be followed by Gray Widow’s Web and Gray Widow’s War.

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Tour Schedule and Activities
6/20/2016       MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape    Interview
6/20/2016       Beauty in Ruins   Guest Post
6/21/2016       SpecMusicMuse   Interview
6/22/2016       The Word Nerds  Guest Post
6/22/2016       I Smell Sheep   Interview
6/22/2016       Cover2Cover  Top Ten’s List
6/23/2016       Sheila's Guests and Reviews   Guest Post
6/24/2016       Deal Sharing Aunt   Interview
6/24/2016       Infamous Scribbler  Interview
6/25/2016       Jordan Hirsch   Review
6/26/2016       Jorie Loves a Story  Review/Interview
6/26/2016       Swilliblog    Review

Saturday, June 18, 2016

From the Shelf to the Page: This Week in the Ruins

In case you missed it, here's what happened in the Ruins this week . . .


WTF Friday: The Erotic Worlds of the Janus Key Chronicles by Alana Melos

Horror Review: Night Things: Undead and Kicking by Terry M. West

Waiting on Wednesday: Evil is a Matter of Perspective

DNF Reviews: Hex and The Hatching


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Stacking The Shelves and Mailbox Monday are a pair of weekly memes that are about sharing the books that came your way over the past week, and which you've added to your shelves - whether they be physical or virtual, borrowed or bought, or for pleasure or review.

The shelves got another much-needed reprieve this week, with just 1 new review title. Besides, I had already pre-ordered it anyway. :)

An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows
Expected publication: August 2nd 2016 by Angry Robot

When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war.

There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. But Leoden has allies, too, chief among them the Vex’Mara Kadeja, a dangerous ex-priestess who shares his dreams of conquest.

Pursued by Leoden and aided by the Shavaktiin, a secretive order of storytellers and mystics, the rebels flee to Veksh, a neighboring matriarchy ruled by the fearsome Council of Queens. Saffron is out of her world and out of her depth, but the further she travels, the more she finds herself bound to her friends with ties of blood and magic.

Can one girl – an accidental worldwalker – really be the key to saving Kena? Or will she just die trying?

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is another weekly meme, this time focused on what books are spending the most time in your hands and in your head, as opposed to what's been added to your shelf.


Berzerkoids by MP Johnson
I'm a little late in getting to this, but looking forward to stories "so shockingly, oozingly awesome, you just have to read ‘em all!"

Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane
Technically, this one is a bit deeper into the review queue, but I've waited long enough. I've been waiting for this for over a year, and it's time to see Holmes meet Hellraiser.

Touchstone by Melanie Rawn
This week's paperback hike/park/beach read is the first in Rawn's latest series. With the mass market paperback of the second book coming soon, it's time to get reading.


 



What's topping your shelves this week?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Horror Review: Night Things: Undead and Kicking by Terry M. West

It seems like with every new Night Things tale, the world of Terry M. West gets both bigger and deeper. He's already established his world of Magic Now, where creatures of legend have stepped forward to openly coexist with the mortal world, but Undead and Kicking ups the ante a little bit in terms of literary legends.

Having already met Dracula and Frankenstein's monster, this installment of the series prominently features Dr. Herbert West, Dr. Jekyll, and Jack the Ripper. While they are instantly recognizable from their fictional origins, West subtly tweaks and twists their stories, giving them a more robust role within his universe, and allowing their lives to more naturally (or supernaturally, as the case may be) intersect in contemporary times.

While this one doesn't attain the same taboo perversity of Monsters and the Magic Now, I did find it an altogether darker, more robust tale than Dracula versus Frankenstein. There's some real drama to the story this time out, a nice central mystery, and even a very weird sort of romance. Dr. West is a fantastic character, serving both as a pivotal figure in the mythology, and a driving force in the story. He offers an interesting glimpse into the power and potential of zombies, and his legacy reminds us of the monstrosities still lurking in the darkness.

In terms of sheer spectacle, the climax here may be the strongest in the series. It's a relatively quick battle, but that's perfectly alright, as it's better to (as they say) burn out than fade away. Clearly, there is still a lot more story to be told, and even a few side stories set up as well. If you're new to the series, do yourself and favor and start from the beginning, but if you're already a fan, you'll be thoroughly satisfied with West's latest.

Kindle Edition, 213 pages
Expected publication: July 17th 2016 by Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Inc.

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, June 15, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Evil is a Matter of Perspective

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

Evil is a Matter of Perspective: An Anthology of Antagonists 
edited by Adrian Collins

The team at GRIMDARK MAGAZINE want to get fantasy authors into the shoes of their established antagonists and present you with 15+ dark fantasy stories in a beautiful print tome. We've engaged a range of fantasy authors with established worlds including R. Scott Bakker's The Second Apocalypse, Courtney Schafer's Shattered Sigil, Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt, Teresa Frohock's Los Nefilim, Jeff Salyards' Bloodsounder's Arc, and many more.

Wrapped in Tommy Arnold's beautiful cover art, designed by crowd favourite Shawn King, and with a stretch goal to fill it with Jason Deem's interior art, Evil is a Matter of Perspective will be an eye-catching addition to your shelf once you're done seeing the world through evil's eyes.


The Kickstarter for this just went live, and it is a truly staggering collection of authors - R. Scott Bakker, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Michael R. Fletcher, Shawn Speakman, Teresa Frohock, Kaaron Warren, Courtney Schafer, Marc Turner, Jeff Salyards, Mazarkis Williams, Deborah A. Wolf, Alex Marshall, Bradley P. Beaulieu, and Matthew Ward.

Monday, June 13, 2016

DNF Reviews: Hex and The Hatching

For the second time in as many months, I find myself stepping out from the crowd and disagreeing with the popular consensus on what has been a well-received, well-reviewed horror story. Maybe it's just me, but I'm curious to hear what other people think about these two titles . . .

The Hatching had a great premise, and the opening scene was fantastic. There was so much tension and drama in that scene, beautifully setting up the first dreamlike emergence of the spiders, that I was really excited.

Unfortunately, that was the last time anything excited me about this book.

Part of the problem is the pacing. I gave up at just over 100 pages, consigning this to the DNF pile, because nothing happened. We met lots of characters, had lots of clichéd story arcs set up, and were spoon-fed tiny little hints of invasion, but aside from a few glimpses of strange black pools (and the spider-as-water metaphor was getting really tired), we never see a damned spider.

The other part of the problem is the characters. Each and every one is either an embarrassing trope or a sexist cliché, as if Ezekiel Boone picked them out of a stock character bucket. You've got a burned out cop, stuck in the middle of a nasty divorce, who is responsible for his partner getting shot (there really should be a law against that trope by now). You've got a hot, young, female President of the United States (because nobody wants to read about a mature, realistic heroine, apparently) who is cheating on her husband, and who sends a White House aide for freakin' chips and popcorn in the middle of a war exercise. You also have a hot, divorced college professor who curses like a sailor, and sleeps with her students (because, again, nobody wants to read about a mature, realistic heroine, apparently).

You've even got a gay couple, who we are constantly asked to applaud as being very cool and very diverse and very unusual, because even though they can't repopulate the human race (oh, please), they're still brave survivalists. On that note, we also get a pair of embarrassingly named hippie survivalists (they're supposed to be cleverly ironic), new to town, and guaranteed to cause conflict, because she's hot and he's an ass. Heck, we even get that one token Asian guy, who manages to pull a Jack Bauer and escape the Chinese military in a dilapidated pick-up truck (not once, but twice!), innocently carrying the spider infection (gasp!) away from the coming nuclear eradication.

Other readers seem to love it, and have gushed about how terrifying and creepy it was, but those are not words I would ever use to describe this story. Boring, exasperating, and borderline offensive, yes, but terrifying and creepy, no. I couldn't even be bothered to skim ahead and check out the ending. Just not interested.

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: July 5th 2016 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books


Hex, by comparison, isn't that bad, but it's still a case of fantastic concept, horrible execution.

I know it’s a translation, and that’s why I persevered longer than it really deserved, but the narration was poor - it didn't flow, it had no spark to it, and it meandered far too often. Every time we got inside a character’s head for a flashback or extended bit of introspection, my eyes glazed over and I came out of those dense, dry paragraphs forgetting where I was. The characters were as flat as they were unlikable, so much so that I found myself wishing the Black Rock Witch would just let loose and end it all.

As for the concept of Black Spring and project Hex itself, I give Thomas Olde Heuvelt full credit for trying to bring several classic horror tropes into the 21st century, but the attempt just didn’t work for me. There were far too many leaps of logic required to make the town work, and far too little understanding of the human condition to make the project believable - everything that was happening to ‘break’ the story to the world, I would have expected decades ago, and I can’t believe the government wouldn’t take more drastic measures to keep new people out.

As for the Black Rock Witch, she was a cool concept with a great backstory. I found myself wanting to know more about who she was, about what really happened to her son, how she came back to curse the town, and where the original settlers went. Like the story of the Roanoke Colony, it was the mystery and the speculation that made her tale so compelling. As much as I appreciated what Heuvelt was trying to do with his reversal of the trope, the story that reminded me that horror works best when the monsters are allowed to lurk in the shadows and used sparingly to maximize their impact - somewhere between Boone's stinginess and Heuvelt's overindulgence.

I admit, I skimmed a good chunk of the second half, just to see how it ended . . . but the final few chapters did nothing to redeem the book. Disappointing.

Hardcover, 448 pages
Published April 26th 2016 by Tom Doherty Associates (USA)

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

Saturday, June 11, 2016

From the Shelf to the Page: This Week in the Ruins

In case you missed it, here's what happened in the Ruins this week . . .


WTF Friday: One Good Turn by Bryce Calderwood

Sci-Fi Review: The Ghost Rebellion by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Waiting on Wednesday: The Dragon Round by Stephen S. Power

Fantasy Review: Bloodbound (Pathfinder Tales) by F. Wesley Schneider


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Stacking The Shelves and Mailbox Monday are a pair of weekly memes that are about sharing the books that came your way over the past week, and which you've added to your shelves - whether they be physical or virtual, borrowed or bought, or for pleasure or review.

Believe it or not, the shelves got a much-needed reprieve this week, allowing me the chance to actually clear up some space as I catch up on some reviews. I don't expect that to last, but it's nice to know I can stick to my guns, even if just for a week.

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is another weekly meme, this time focused on what books are spending the most time in your hands and in your head, as opposed to what's been added to your shelf.


Night Things: Undead and Kicking by Terry M. West
Continuing his fantastic Night Things series, West offers up a tale of zombies and reanimation involving everyone from Dr. Herbert West to Jack the Ripper.

The Shadowed Path by Gail Z. Martin
Featuring untold tales of Jonmarc Vahanian, hero of her Chronicles of the Necromancer series, this anthology tells the story of a soldier, slave, smuggler, warrior, and brigand.




What's topping your shelves this week?

Friday, June 10, 2016

WTF Friday: One Good Turn by Bryce Calderwood

Well, another WTF Friday is upon us, which means we once again turn the Ruins over to my dark half. As regular visitors will know, Foster Medina has a passion for messed up literary diversions - books that are bizarre, twisted, grotesque, and kinky - and he's only too happy to splatter them across the page.

There are books that you read, books that you enjoy, and books that you experience. It's the difference between merely consuming the random assembly of dead letters on a page, and being consumed by the illusionary world they create. For the all-too-brief span of a single evening, One Good Turn was one of those books, sinking its teeth into me, holding me close, and refusing to let go until we both lay spent and empty upon the final page.

Bryce Calderwood is, quite simply, a true master of erotic horror. The imagination demonstrated here is astounding, but the quality of the writing is even better. It's a combination that makes for a deliciously deceptive read, with the writing itself almost too good for such weird, wild, wanton material. There's a passion to the storytelling that doesn't often make it through the interference of mainstream editors and publicists.

There are two narrative threads here, one dealing with supernatural monsters, and the other with human monstrosity. Ashima is a fascinating character, and one who embodies the very idea of rebirth and transformation. The greed and cruelty of a Saudi Arabian sex-slave ring transformed her the first time; the wealth and perversity of Japanese businessmen transformed her the second time; and the hunger and lust of Futanari* Vampires transformed her the final time. She is a complex woman, mentally and emotionally scarred from her childhood experiences, with the issues of power and control driving her in interesting ways. Her final transformation is not one that comes easily or instantly, and the way that supernatural seduction plays out is really the heart of the story.

This is a story that has its bloody, chilling, violent moments. As erotic and seductive as the vampires may be, Calderwood doesn't let us forget that they are monsters first - impossibly strong, bloodthirsty, dangerous creatures. Making them futanari vampires adds a whole new level of kink to their erotic aspect, however, and that's where the imagination of the story shines brightest. It's also where the theme of transformation gets a twist, in that the vampires looking to transform Ashima were themselves transformed into futanari by the doctor. Musette and Ashlyn's seduction of Ashima is breathtaking in its perversity, with acts that are as intoxicating as they are impossible, but the narrative strengths keep it from ever descending into mere literary porn.

If you have an open mind, a sense of erotic adventure, and an admiration for the beauty of imagination, then One Good Turn is worth checking out - and, if your first taste is to your liking, the full length novel Enthralled is already available, with sequel on the way later this year.


Kindle Edition
Published May 31st 2016 by Bryce Calderwood


* If you are unfamiliar with the term, futanari is a Japanese word meaning 'dual form', and it most commonly relates to women with both male and female sex organs. It's a mythological, imaginary third gender, only found in fiction.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Sci-Fi Review: The Ghost Rebellion by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences is, far and away, my favorite saga of alternative history, sci-fi steampunk, and espionage adventure. Strong characters, creative world (and history) building, and some really inventive mash-ups of monsters and mechanicals have made each book more interesting than the last.

With their fifth full-length tale, The Ghost Rebellion, Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris have upped the ante once again, thrusting Books & Braun into the battlefields of India, and dropping Brandon & Bruce into the cold depths of Russia. It's the first time in the series that we've had a pair of stories working in parallel, with separate missions advancing the plot, and it makes for a more well-rounded story. Combined with some darker interludes that both open up the story and reveal some of the connections between the previous books, this may be the series' strongest entry in terms of narrative.

Of course, it's the characters who make this series work so well, and it's their ongoing development that makes each new book a must-read. I really like where Books & Braun are in their relationship, with that perfect blend of affection and good-natured aggravation between them. They're both capable of carrying the story on their own, but the way they play off each other really makes the story work. As for Brandon & Bruce, they began to evolve out of the mismatched, awkward partner role in the last book, and they really get a chance to take on some of the heroics here. They're still responsible for some of the most consistently amusing aspects of the story, but they also get some deeper, more significant moments.

The story really kicks it up a notch in terms of technology this time around as well. The 'ghosts' of the title are really victims of an abused æthergate technology that was dangerously unstable to begin with, and there are some chilling implications to their rather un-tethered fates. While the tools and weapons in the series just keep getting bigger and badder, nothing tops the scene where Braun so gleefully takes control of a giant mech, basically flipping switches and slapping at buttons to see what happens, until she hits the self-destruct and initiates the ride of her life. It's not just all fun and adventure, however - Ballantine & Morris really get into the whole politics and culture of India at the time, never shying away from the racism, segregation, and exploitation that came with being part of the British Empire.

Although this is clearly not the last we'll see of Books & Braun, the Ministry itself, or the House of Usher, Ballantine & Morris have spared us the anxiety of another cliffhanger this time around. There are a lot of story pieces still to be picked up - not the least of which are Books' dark history, the eventual fate of Dr. Jekyll, and the tease of Ragnarök - so hopefully the series will keep on rolling.

As a final note, if you're new to the series, do yourself a favor and check out Phoenix Rising first. You won't regret it.

ebook, 615 pages
Expected publication: June 17th 2016 by Smashwords Edition

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Dragon Round by Stephen S. Power

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

The Dragon Round by Stephen S. Power
Expected publication: July 19th 2016 by Simon & Schuster

A swashbuckling adventure with a dark side for fans of George R.R. Martin and Naomi Novik—when a ship captain is stranded on a deserted island by his mutinous crew, he finds a baby dragon that just might be the key to his salvation…and his revenge.

He only wanted justice. Instead he got revenge.

Jeryon has been the captain of the Comber for over a decade. He knows the rules. He likes the rules. But not everyone on his ship agrees. After a monstrous dragon attacks the galley, the surviving crewmembers decide to take the ship for themselves and give Jeryon and his self-righteous apothecary “the captain’s chance”: a small boat with no rudder, no sails, and nothing but the clothes on his back to survive on the open sea.

Fighting for their lives against the elements, Jeryon and his companion land on an island that isn’t as deserted as they originally thought. They find a baby dragon that, if trained, could be their way home. But as Jeryon and the dragon grow closer, the captain begins to realize that even if he makes it off the island, his old life won't be waiting for him and in order get justice, he’ll have to take it for himself.

From a Pushcart Prize–nominated poet and speculative short story writer, The Dragon Round combines a rich world, desperate characters, and gorgeous, literary fiction into a timeless tale of revenge.


I've actually been sitting on a digital ARC of this for about 5 months now, but with the release date looming closer, it's finally time to share. A swashbuckling adventure with a dark side? A deserted island? A baby dragon? What more could you ask for!