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Saturday, December 31, 2016

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

In case you missed it, we had quite a bit of fun with WTH Holidays over the past two weeks . . .



Coming up this week, reviews of The Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams, Recluce Tales: Stories from the World of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt Jr., and Little Heaven by Nick Cutter.

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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.

I added a few spring/summer ARCs to the review shelves over the holidays, including:

Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan [April 11, 2017]

City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett [May 2, 2017]

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton [May 23, 2017]

Sip by Brian Allen Carr [Aug 29, 2017]



We certainly weren't shy about adding to the WTF Friday shelves either, with the most notable new additions being:

The Room & Origins by Brian C. Copper

Dagger - The Light at the End of the World by Walt Popester

The Need by Andrew Neiderman


The Elfmaid Trilogy by Warren Thomas


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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.

Having caught up some on the review pile over the holiday, I have a pair of ARCs to review just in time for their release:

The Dead Seekers by Barb Hendee & J.C. Hendee

The Last Sacrifice by James A. Moore


What's topping your shelves this week?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

WTH Holidays: Deadman's Tome Book of Horrors II

While I'm taking a bit of a break from the season, I invite you to enjoy a little WTH Holiday mayhem as my dark half, Foster Medina, and his messed up literary diversions break out of their Friday dungeon, filling the season with the bizarre, the twisted, the grotesque, and the kinky. Enjoy!


A surprisingly strong collection of dark, often extreme horror, Deadman's Tome Book of Horrors II is a slender sampling of the genre. There are stories of both supernatural and human horror contained herein, all said to be torn from a cursed tome that has driven men to madness, murder, and more.

The Valley of Sex by Joseph Rubas was an early favorite for me, a vintage pulp-style horror/adventure story in the vein of Howard and Lovecraft, with some nasty supernatural sex deep within subterranean ruins. DOSE by Marc Shapiro was an odd one, with some really stellar moments (the insatiable whore with no face upon her smooth, egg-like face stands out for me), but I expected something more from the climax.

The Chasm Bridged by Carson Winter was another favorite, a haunted house story that effectively shocks with what you can't see, before taking an unexpected twist. Easily the most human, most contemporary story in the collection, An Identity For Sam Piles by Spinster Eskie is also the most surprising, in that it effectively humanizes a monster, and starts building our empathy before ever engaging our disgust.

The next three stories fell flat for me, but the collection ends on a high note with a pair of Jack the Ripper tales. The Woman in Red by B Thomas was my favorite of the two, giving us a very sad, yet somewhat sexy motivation for the murders, while The Adler Street Boarding House by Kel y Evans takes a more subtle approach, setting up a soft climax that teases a fictional parallel with Edgar Allan Poe.

While it doesn't sustain the erotic shock value of the first two tales, Deadman's Tome Book of Horrors II is a better collection for branching out and really delving deep into the depravity of the genre.

Kindle Edition, 120 pages
Published October 1st 2016 by Jesse Dedman

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

WTH Holidays: The Triad and the Innocent Maidens by Reed James

While I'm taking a bit of a break from the season, I invite you to enjoy a little WTH Holiday mayhem as my dark half, Foster Medina, and his messed up literary diversions break out of their Friday dungeon, filling the season with the bizarre, the twisted, the grotesque, and the kinky. Enjoy!


Take one vintage sword-and-sorcery tale, add a polyamorous twist, wrap it all in equal amounts of sex and violence, and saturate it with assorted bodily fluids, and you have The Triad and the Innocent Maidens by Reed James.

Fiona, Aoifa, and Seamus are a magical triad - a witch, a rogue, and a paladin - newly married, and setting out on their first quest to vanquish evil. With sex never being from their minds, it's used as a distraction, a weapon, and a reward, as well as just for general pleasure. Lusty Aoifa is the sexual star here, indulging her wanton lust with both men and monsters, but it's the reluctant sexuality of the more romantic Fiona that brings the story to a climax (pun intended). There are some taboos broken that may cross lines or some readers, but the erotic aspects are truly inspired in their depravity.

While I fully expected those erotic elements, I was genuinely surprised to find some genuine fantasy behind it all. This is a story with kobolds, wargs, elemental spirits, dark forests, enchanted weapons, witches, haunted towers, warlocks, and other cursed creatures. In fact, the geek in me had to smile at the two-page glossary of gods, elementals, monsters, and more at the end. Don't get me wrong, the story is largely secondary to the sex, but there is a story here, a bit of mythology behind it, and some fun characters to see it through.

If you're in the mood for some imaginative erotic fantasy, then The Triad and the Innocent Maidens is a must-read. With a Gorgon's Seduction and a Maiden's Passion rounding out the trilogy (so far), I'm curious to see how Reed James continues building the world and developing the characters introduced here.

Kindle Edition, 81 pages
Published April 22nd 2016 by Naughty Ladies Publications

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

WTH Holidays: Circle Z by Brandon L. Summers

While I'm taking a bit of a break from the season, I invite you to enjoy a little WTH Holiday mayhem as my dark half, Foster Medina, and his messed up literary diversions break out of their Friday dungeon, filling the season with the bizarre, the twisted, the grotesque, and the kinky. Enjoy!


Contrary to the early 1 and 2-star reviews on Goodreads, I actually enjoyed Circle Z. While I will agree that Lacey and Dylan are something of a clichéd odd couple, I think the tension between them - and the subsequent development of their relationship - is a driving force within the story. Brandon L. Summers writes with a quick, easy-flowing style that lends itself well to the genre, helping to propel the story along.

I thought the story did a good job of demonstrating just how deeply in love these two women are, while inviting us to emphasize with Lacey's uncertainty over her future with an irresponsible brat like Dylan. There's some real conflict there between them, and some legitimate growth for both by the end.

As for the zombie element, it's a lot of bloody, gross-out fun. These are quick, ravenous, mindless monsters who don't fall prey to the easy headshot or violent decapitation. They are a real threat, and the eventual backstory behind their creation is just interesting enough to hold up the story. Of course, both their creation and their ultimate destruction rely on familiar clichés and genre stereotypes, but it's still a fun race to the finish.

I went into Circle Z expecting a quick little b-grade zombie story with a pair of cute lesbians in the lead, and that's precisely what Brandon L. Summers delivered.

ebook
Expected publication: December 28th 2016 by Less Than Three Press

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.

Friday, December 23, 2016

WTH Holidays: Infernal Parade by Clive Barker

While I'm taking a bit of a break from the season, I invite you to enjoy a little WTH Holiday mayhem as my dark half, Foster Medina, and his messed up literary diversions break out of their Friday dungeon, filling the season with the bizarre, the twisted, the grotesque, and the kinky. Enjoy!


In reading Clive Barker's Infernal Parade, it's important to remember that these stories were originally published and packaged (much like the Tortured Souls collection from 2015) with the McFarlane toy line. That means they were designed to serve as stand-alone stories, connected, but not necessarily forming a linear narrative.

What that means for fans is that we get an all-too-rare serving of vintage Barker, with stories written during the very early days of Abarat, long before his 2012 brush with death. In putting the collection together, however, I feel like there's a missed opportunity here - one that would have made this collection truly memorable. We're introduced to Tom Requiem and the freaks of his Infernal Parade, but we never get to see them brought together. With the opening story suggesting a Books of Blood feel to the collection, I would have loved to see a new story at the other end to tie it all together.

That's a minor quibble, however, and not a criticism of the stories themselves. These are short, but powerful stories of torture and transformation, true horror with a freakish, monstrous feel. They have an almost fable-like feel to them, being stories of human cruelties and supernatural retribution. Sometimes it's the who and what they are that makes them freaks, but the stories are at their best when it's how and why they die that casts them into the Infernal Parade, doomed (or perhaps blessed) to endlessly relive pain for pleasure.

The stories of Bethany Bled, with its fateful wish that dooms a pair of lovers, and the Golem Elijiah, with it's dark twist of an ill thought-out command, are probably closest to that fable feel, but it's the stories of Mary Slaughter and Tom Requiem himself that remind me the most of Barker's most classic tales.


Hardcover
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by Subterranean Press

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.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

WTH Holidays: Silver by Darcy Abriel

While I'm taking a bit of a break from the season, I invite you to enjoy a little WTH Holiday mayhem as my dark half, Foster Medina, and his messed up literary diversions break out of their Friday dungeon, filling the season with the bizarre, the twisted, the grotesque, and the kinky. Enjoy!


I'm honestly not sure how I came across Silver, but I'm damned glad that I finally found time to give it a read. This is big, intricate, plot-driven science fiction, complete with a diverse cast of well-developed characters, and a whole lot of kinky sex. In terms of sheer eroticism, this may be the most imaginative novel I've ever come across, but what's truly exciting is that Darcy Abriel does it all within the context of a powerful dystopian sci-fi thriller.

Here we have a future city by the name of Quentopolis, a place where cybernetic augmentation has become so commonplace that a 50% threshold has been established between citizen and property. Ruled by the human members of the Politico, it's facing a violent rebellion from the Metallitionist Resistance, who argue that no amount of modification should reduce one to a life of slavery. It's a story of the fight for justice, but it's also a story of the thirst for revenge. Ulterior motives abound (on both sides of the divide), and appearances most certainly are almost always deceiving.

Lel Kesselbaum is not just a high-ranking member of the Politico, he's also part of an erotic, BDSM-driven segment of the nobility known as the Dominatae. Cold, distant, and cruel at first glance, he's a man with some genuine complexity beneath the surface. Watching him develop through the course of the story is utterly fascinating. His rival in the tale, the protagonist to his antagonist, is Entreus, a mechanized Orictian warrior who now leads the Metallitionist Resistance. Mechanically augmented to be the perfect warrior, and trained in the fine arts of killing, he's at odds with his own cause in seeking a peaceful means of driving change from within the system itself.

Connecting these two men is the character of Silver herself - and she is where the story gets really interesting. One of those citizens who crossed the mechanical threshold, she has been further modified by her owner, Kesselbaum, into a creature of impossible beauty - a humanotic, genderfluid sex goddess with a silver-tipped phallus. She has been conditioned to both give and receive pleasure, and trained in the arts of both dominance and submission, making her an effective tool for his political maneuverings. She is still human at heart, however, which complicates matters when she's assigned to master the secrets of Entreus, and finds herself falling in love with his reluctant submission to her Trinex charms.

Alternately violent and erotic, Silver is a story that more than delivers on its promise. There is a stellar sci-fi thriller here, with enough twists and surprises to keep even the most jaded reader entertained, along with a truly inventive erotic romance, with each new sexual innovation topping the one before it. Check your expectations and your inhibitions at the door, because this is a story that will take you to some strangely exciting places. There's a sequel - Haevyn - set in the same world, but with a different cast of characters, so I'll have to put that on the TBR pile.


Paperback, 264 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Samhain Publishing

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

WTH Holidays: Swamp Beast Impregnation by Jackie Renquist

While I'm taking a bit of a break from the season, I invite you to enjoy a little WTH Holiday mayhem as my dark half, Foster Medina, and his messed up literary diversions break out of their Friday dungeon, filling the season with the bizarre, the twisted, the grotesque, and the kinky. Enjoy!


At a glance, it would seem as if Swamp Beast Impregnation had almost too much going for it - monster erotica, a fantasy landscape, zombies, tentacle rape, gender transformation, and impregnation. I actually went into it expecting to be disappointed, but aside from a few typos that an editor really should have caught, this was pure sexy, imaginative, depraved entertainment.

It wasn't clear from the cover blurb, but this is actually a classic Dungeons & Dragons style fantasy tale at its heart, complete with a sword-wielding explorer who foolishly chooses a dangerous short cut to get his treasures to market. The first half of Jackie Renquist's story is actually quite good from a fantasy genre perspective, with our hero forced to defend himself from a variety of monsters. The action is quick, but nicely detailed, and I enjoyed the history of the swamps themselves.

The second half of the story is where the erotica kicks in, and it completely delivered on the ambitious promise of the blurb. Here is tentacle erotica done right, with enough imaginative touches to make the involuntary enjoyment plausible, and enough detail to make it vivid in our eyes. The transformation is done in stages, each of them slightly different from the other, and (again) nicely detailed and impressively imaginative.

With so much detail in terms of word building and mythology, and so much detail to the narrative, Swamp Beast Impregnation is one of those stories I wished was longer, especially since we're left with such a tantalizing tease at the end.


Kindle Edition, 14 pages
Published March 3rd 2016 by Obsidian Desires Publishing

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

WTH Holidays: Love in the Time of Dinosaurs by Kirsten Alene

While I'm taking a bit of a break from the season, I invite you to enjoy a little WTH Holiday mayhem as my dark half, Foster Medina, and his messed up literary diversions break out of their Friday dungeon, filling the season with the bizarre, the twisted, the grotesque, and the kinky. Enjoy!


Kirsten Alene's debut novella actually has a lot going on for such a slender volume, but, at it’s core, Love in the Time of Dinosaurs is a story that works on two levels – the first being the war between gun-toting monks and crazy-ass dinosaurs, and the second being the forbidden love between one unusual monk and an even more unusual dinosaur.

I know, I know, you want to hear all about the dinosaurs, but first we have deal with the monks. Exceptionally well-armed and trained to fight, they're absolutely fearless, not to mention inhumanly resistant to injury. Somehow, they’re able to soldier on despite the loss of entire limbs and major organs, continuing to take the fight to the dinosaurs until a spare body part can salvaged. This remarkable degree of physical adaptability accounts for some of the more surreal aspects of the story, such as the monk with nothing but a hand grafted below his abdomen, making the difference between standing and sitting as simple as flexing those fingers.

As for those dinosaurs, they are just as smart, just as vicious, and just as awesome as you might hope (or fear), and they’ve armed themselves with instruments of lethal destruction. Think bloody, insane improvisation on the level of Ash from the Evil Dead movies, and you begin to get a sense of their bizarrely mechanized blades and biochemical tools of mass destruction. For the most part, they’re portrayed as an unstoppable force of aggression, but we get do glimpses of their vulnerabilities.

And that, my friends, is where the story begins to get interesting.

A female, bipedal, duck-billed dinosaur named Petunia serves as a bridge between the species. It is through her relationship with a heroic monk that we not only find a story of forbidden love, but one of cultural understanding. I know, it sounds deep and maybe even a little forced, but it absolutely works, and doesn't feel at all out of place. It's a Bizarro tale with heart, and there is most definitely more to the story than you might expect.

Love in the Time of Dinosaurs was a fun and frantic read, with some really inventive battle scenes that bridge the cartoon creativity of G.I. Joe, the bloody sensationalism of Platoon, and the sophomoric bravado of a Call of Duty multi-player marathon.


Paperback, 77 pages
Published October 13th 2010 by Eraserhead Press

Monday, December 19, 2016

WTH Holidays: Vampire Dominatrices from Mars Vs The Zombies of Christ by Jeff O'Brien

While I'm taking a bit of a break from the season, I invite you to enjoy a little WTH Holiday mayhem as my dark half, Foster Medina, and his messed up literary diversions break out of their Friday dungeon, filling the season with the bizarre, the twisted, the grotesque, and the kinky. Enjoy!


Vampire Dominatrices from Mars Vs The Zombies of Christ reads like the unrated script for a smart, sexy, surreal b-movie. It's a little bit crazy and whole lot profane, with plenty of sex and gore, but it also has a message. Jeff O'Brien exploits that over-the-top title in just about every way imaginable, but does so with a sense of style that makes this an easy read to appreciate.

Meet Starla, Roxie, Tyra and Charla - the Vampire Dominatrices in question who have crashed their saucer in a Massachusetts cemetery, from which they intend to spread their erotic infection. While we're at it, meet Rich and Tanya, high school lovers from different sides of the aisle (his parents are Catholic, hers Assemblies of God), who use that very same cemetery as a hidden refuge from condemnation. Oh, and not to be forgotten, meet Pastor Sutherland and his elderly mother, Grace, the former a cruel father to Tanya and (minor spoiler here) adulterous BDSM freak, and the latter a loving grandmother and most reasonable woman in town.

That's all I will say on the plot, because you really need to experience how it develops for yourself. The story seems to change direction a few times, but don't trust your instincts because O'Brien knows very well where it's headed. Gender roles and sexuality are at the heart of the story, with a clever contrast drawn between enslavement and empowerment, between cruelty and carnality, that you don't really appreciate until the end. It's a fun story, full of vengeance, justice, true love, and (yes) zombies, but there are some very dark undercurrents to the town of Leedham that you'd do well to keep in mind.

Whether you're intrigued or offended by the title, you should absolutely give Vampire Dominatrices from Mars Vs The Zombies of Christ a read. Just tell the green-skinned, green-eyed ladies with the leather bikinis and kinky toys that Grandma Sutherland sent you, and they'll make sure you're taken care of . . . whether you like it or not.

Kindle Edition, 175 pages
Published November 19th 2013 by Dark Space Publications

Saturday, December 17, 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 FridaySteel and Promise by Alexa Black

Dark Faerie Prize Pack with E.J. Stevens

Most Anticipated Reads of 2017

Graphic Novel Review: Shame by Lovern Kindzierski & John Bolton


This will be my last weekly update for the year, as I'm taking a bit of a break during the holidays.

While I'm gone, I invite you to enjoy a little WTH Holiday mayhem as my dark half and his literary diversions break out of their Friday dungeon, filling the holidays with the bizarre, the twisted, the grotesque, and the kinky. Enjoy!

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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.

It's an all WTH Holidays stacking of the shelves this week:

Circle Z by Brandon L. Summers

Serpent Girl by Ray Garton

Knight Force by AJ Vincent 



The Inquisitor's Gift by Sionnach Wintergreen

The Enforcer by J.E. & M. Keep

The Corruption of Ynara, Goddess of Purity by Philo Hunter 


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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.

With an eye towards starting the new year with some (hopefully) killer reviews, these are the books keeping me company over the holidays:

I've been sitting on this for a few weeks, but it's finally time to revisit Osten Ard

Recluce Tales: Stories from the World of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
So far this is fantastic . . . such a diverse world of stories

Little Heaven by Nick Cutter
I've had this since summer, but was asked to hold a review until closer to its Jan release


What's topping your shelves this week?

Friday, December 16, 2016

WTF Friday: Steel and Promise by Alexa Black

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.



Although it does have its erotic moments, Steel and Promise is a cruel and bloody story that is far more cold and clinical than sensual or sexual. It is most definitely a story that puts the S&M in BDSM, complete with bloodletting, piercings, marking, violent penetrations, torture, and more. Alexa Black does weave an interesting story, complete with a sci-fi flair and some complex philosophical musings, but it takes a strong stomach to make it through to the end.

Cailyn Derys is a noble courtesan, following in her father's footsteps, who finds herself assigned to an unusual client. Teran Nivrai is something of a dark legend, a recluse with a taste for pain, who has gone so far as to have her body modified with retractable steel claws. She has selected Cailyn specifically because of her lack of 'dark' experience, which makes for an interesting dynamic. This is not a story of pain for pleasure, but pain for pain's sake. We're talking torn and ripped skin, lasting bruises, and long-term scars. It's bloody and intense, and not always an easy read.

What redeems (or perhaps justifies) all that pain is the political twist about halfway through, where Teran is called before the ruling council and forced to turn her perversions to actual torture. While I would have liked to see the philosophical aspects explored a little more deeply, it's interesting to see the contrasts of lover versus victim, and the fine line separating Teran's motivations for one versus the other. There's some significant character development during the second half, leading to an unexpectedly dark (yet somehow happy) climax, but it's hard to feel any compassion or empathy for the characters, with their violent passions so far outside the norm.


Paperback, 264 pages
Published December 13th 2016 by Bold Strokes Books

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dark Faerie Prize Pack with E.J. Stevens

Let's celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year with fabulous prizes.  Today we are giving away a HUGE dark faerie themed prize pack.

Dark Faerie Prize Pack

We are giving away a Dark Faerie Prize Pack, including a coloring book, faerie necklace, book, earbuds, and more!

  • Gothic Dark Fantasy Coloring Book
  • Faerie Necklace
  • Amy Brown Faerie Greeting Card
  • Ivy Granger LED Keychain Flashlight
  • Ivy Granger Button
  • Shadow Sight (Ivy Granger #1) Ebook
  • Signed Ivy Granger Postcard
  • Custom Purple Earbuds
Dark Faerie Prize Pack EJ Stevens Ivy Granger Fantasy Purple

To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is open to the US, UK, and Canada.  Giveaway begins December 15, 2016 and ends December 31, 2016.


What is your favorite creature from folklore?
(Faeries, Banshees, Unicorns, Trolls, Pixies, Goblins, Kelpies...)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Most Anticipated Reads of 2017

As we head into the final weeks of the year, I wanted to hijack my usual "Waiting On" Wednesday event (hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine) to focus not just on one title, but look ahead to the next year. This is, by no means, meant to be an exhaustive list of all the big releases coming out next year. Instead, it's an exploration of those titles that I most desperately want to read, along with a few that I really hope we'll see in the new year.


January brings us Death's Mistress, the first book of Terry Goodkind's Nicci Chronicles. With Richard and Kahlan's story having come to an end in Warheart last year, this is the start of a new saga in the world of The Sword of Truth. As uneven as I found that series to be at time, I'm curious to see what Goodkind can do with the world, unencumbered by the legacy of Richard, Kahlan, and the Sword.

With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu is my choice for February, the next book in his Song of Shattered Sands. I enjoyed the first book, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, and the prequel novella, Of Sand and Malice Made, even more, so I am definitely anxious to see where Beaulieu takes the story next. Sharakhai is a fantastic land, with a really interesting system of magic and mythology, and Çeda is fast becoming a favorite heroine for me.

The book that I'm most curious about in March is Spymaster, the first book of The Dragon Corsairs, by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes. Although it's set in the same world as their Dragon Brigade trilogy, it sounds like it can serve as a stand-alone read, and I've been hungry for the kind of classic, traditional fantasy that Weis does so well, regardless of who she works with. I do have the final two books of that first trilogy on hand, so if I can dig up a copy of Shadow Raiders, I may even be able to catch up in time.

April is a really tough month to narrow down, with a number of titles on my must-read-right-now list . . . so I won't even try. Tyrant's Throne by Sebastien de Castell is probably my most anticipated sequel of the year; while Skullsworn by Brian Staveley promises to be an exciting new adventure in the world of the Unhewn Throne. The title I'm most excited about, however, is likely to be a bit of a surprise - Long Black Veil, a book about an abandoned prison, murder, and long-buried secrets, by Jennifer Finney Boylan.

There a few titles I'm looking forward to in May, with Kristi Charish's Owl and the Electric Samurai a definite must-read, but it is the final Fitz & the Fool novel, Assassin's Fate, from Robin Hobb that will have me stalking the mailbox. As critical as I was of the first novel, the second absolutely blew me away, and that has me really excited to see how she brings it all to a close. The Farseer Trilogy was one of my first fantasy reads, and it was wonderful to revisit old friends, but I'm also ready to bid them a proper goodbye.

June seems oddly quiet at the moment, although news just came in that The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams (the return to Osten Ard that I've been waiting for since high school) has been pushed here from its original April release. As for July, it has a pair of titles that I'm excited about - for very different reasons. The Curse of Oak Island is a non-fiction exploration of the century's greatest treasure hunt, written by Randall Sullivan, author of the highly acclaimed Rolling Stone article on the same subject. On the fiction side, Anthony Ryan brings us The Legion of Flame, a must-read sequel to The Waking Fire, one of my most pleasant surprises of this year. The first book came pitched as “part Indiana Jones, part Pirates of the Caribbean, and part Mistborn" and boy did it deliver!


As the last month that seems to have concrete release dates nailed down, August boasts a number of must-read titles. Initiates of the Blood (an erotic, BDSM-themed urban fantasy) is a new book from legendary Cecilia Tan, but the rest of the month is marked by series conclusions. A War in Crimson Embers by Alex Marshall concludes his Crimson Empire trilogy; The Dinosaur Princess by Victor Milán concludes his Dinosaur Lords trilogy; and The Core by Peter V. Brett concludes his Demon Cycle. While I have some catching up to do with Marshall and Milán, Brett's is one book that I will eagerly tear into the moment it arrives.

Beyond that, there are a few other titles I'm keeping my eye on. The Astonishing, a novelization of the Dream Theatre album by the same name, should be coming in the Spring from Peter Orullian. Sleeping Beauties is a new epic novel from Stephen King & Owen King that's supposedly set for a 2017 release, taking place in a women’s prison in West Virginia.

While there's no official release date, there's some hope we'll see Brandon Sanderson Oathbringer - the progress bar on his website shows the first draft is done, and he's talked about 6 months of editing, so mathematically there's an outside chance of an end-of-year release. As for Mark Smylie's Black Heart, it was originally rumored for a 2015 release, but he told me he was aiming to have it done by the end of this year, so there's hope we'll finally see the follow-up to The Barrow next year.



*please note, of course, that publication dates can (and often do) change frequently, so please let me know if you spot a title that's shifted down the calendar

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Graphic Novel Review: Shame by Lovern Kindzierski & John Bolton

A dark fairy tale for adults, Shame is the story Virtue, the purest woman on earth, and Shame, the evil child borne of an idle selfish wish. Mother/daughter and daughter/mother (owing to the machinations of fairy tale magic), their feud will bare the word to the cruelties of the demon Slur.

As writer, Lovern Kindzierski completely nails the fairy tale feel of the story, without coming across as clichéd. The opening pages that detail Mother Virtue's loving legacy and tragic fall have the feel of a classic fable, setting the dark, sorrowful tone for the story that follows. This is a classic story of good vs evil, played out through the personas of Virtue vs Shame, complete with a forces of pure evil (Slur) and pure innocence (Merritt).

As illustrator, John Bolton captures so many different themes and styles here that the story leaps off the page. He weaves between classic fairy tale, traditional fantasy, gothic horror, and heroic fantasy, often mixing themes with magical forces superimposed over 'normal' settings. Although it is a very colorful book, with Virtue's scenes full of reds and whites and greens, black absolutely dominates throughout, especially in the scenes with Shame and Slur.

Originally published in three story arcs - Conception, Pursuit, and Redemption - the story of Virtue and Shame is perfectly structured to make each arc complete, but to weave the stories together in a classic fairy tale arc. There is some tasteful nudity and well-choreographed violence, but it's the scenes of darkness and evil that truly make this a mature read. I love the way Slur is portrayed, but it's perversion of Cradle's guardian dryads and nymphs that is truly unsettling, arresting your gaze even when they're floating in the back of a scene. Although there are no real surprises with a fairy tale/fable, the way the story is told is what makes Shame so compelling and enjoyable.

224 pages
Published September 27th 2016 by Renegade Arts

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy 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.

Saturday, December 10, 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: Strange Appetites edited by Lon Sarver

Best of 2016: A 5-Star Year in the Ruins

Non-Fiction Review: The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston


Coming up this week . . . my annual Most Anticipated look at next year's new releases.

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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.

I'm still chasing the wagon this week as I succumbed to a trio of review titles:

The Fathom Flies Again by James Walley
The first book in the series was a ton of fun, so I couldn't possibly turn this down

The Shame Trilogy by Lovern Kindzierski & John Bolton
This is an absolutely gorgeous graphic novel that I'll be sitting down with soon

Eric Olafson, Space Pirate by Vanessa Ravencroft
Coming in February, this LGBT/Sci-Fi/Action space opera caught my interest


With an eye towards taking over the blog for the holidays (more on WTH Holidays next week), Foster snagged some Kindle deals as well:

The Lord of Hazelgrave by Avery Lockwood

The Dammerung by Macaulay C. Hunter


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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.

Diving deep into the review pile again this week, aiming for a clean start in 2017, with:

I've been sitting on this for a few weeks, but it's finally time to revisit Osten Ard

Recluce Tales: Stories from the World of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
So far this is fantastic . . . such a diverse world of stories

Little Heaven by Nick Cutter
I've had this since summer, but was asked to hold a review until closer to its Jan release


What's topping your shelves this week?