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Many of the books I review were FREE in exchange for an honest review. I do not get paid to review them. Spotlights are promotional and should be regarded as ADs. They are promoting books but I do NOT get any money or goods for posting Spotlights. 
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Born of Swords by Steven Shrewsbury



Gorias La Gaul, a barbarian’s barbarian,  is back and as I said in my review of Thrall and Overkill , he would kick Conan’s butt.  If you are looking for traditional heroes you may want to look elsewhere.  Those sentences prefaced several of my Goria La Gaul book reviews.  This book has Gorias being interviewed by Jessica, a young scholar.  

I repeat from previous reviews, Gorias is a protagonist that I can identify with in many aspects.   Pragmatic beyond reason,  he is accepting of his age and doesn’t let it stop him from doing what he wants to do.   His ruthlessness is deplorable but it is highly effective.  In this book, Gorias clearly demonstrates his love (obcession) with family.  He has surprising skewed soft spots that pop up with frequency.   He is a much, much larger than life character.  That is what makes him so entertaining. 

This book ties together multiple stories together in the context of Jessica interviewing Gorias.  Jessica is never dewy eyed but by the end of the book, she has had her stomached turned several times.  This is classic Gorias La Gaul.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of <a type="amzn"> Steven Shrewsbury </a>




This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Steven L. Shrewsbury's Born of Swords Virtual Tour

Steven L. Shrewsbury's Born of Swords Virtual Tour
BornofSwordsTourBadge




About the author: Steven L. Shrewsbury lives, works and writes in rural Central Illinois. Over 365 of his short stories have been published in print or digital media since the late 80s. His novels include WITHIN, PHILISTINE, OVERKILL, HELL BILLY, BLOOD & STEEL, THRALL, STRONGER THAN DEATH, HAWG, TORMENTOR and GODFORSAKEN. He has collaborated with other writers, like Brian Keene with KING OF THE BASTARDS, Peter Welmerink in BEDLAM UNLEASHED, Nate Southard in BAD MAGICK, Maurice Broaddus in the forthcoming BLACK SON RISING and Eric S. Brown in an untitled project. He continues to search for brightness in this world, no matter where it chooses to hide.

Book Synopsis for Born of Swords: 
BornofSwordsCover_1200X800
Deliverance will come... But that is another story. What makes a legend but the stories told about him? Interviewing Gorias La Gaul, the biggest legend of them all, is a dream come true for young scribe Jessica. Where other girls her age would swoon beneath the steely gaze of the warrior, Jessica only has eyes for his mouth, and the tales that come from it...when he takes a break from cursing or drinking. Unfortunately for Jessica, Gorias doesn't really have time to babysit. She's found him in the midst of an annual pilgrimage of sorts, and though he agrees to let her come along, it's not without a warning: You may not like what you see and hear. Just don't come crying afterward. Whether viewing past visions with magical gemstones or jumping into the fray alongside the barbarian, Jessica's about to get firsthand accounts she won't soon forget...and discover legends are far from reality, and just as far from being pretty. You wouldn't expect a youth of love and friendship from the greatest killer to walk the Earth, would you? These are tales of some of Gorias' earliest days, back before he'd found his swords, to a time when a dragon needed killing. Tales back before his heart had hardened. Maybe. For most men, the future is not certain and the past is prologue. For a legend like Gorias La Gaul, even the past is up for debate. One thing is for certain about these tales. They will be bloody. Such is always the way for a man... Born of Swords...


Author Links: Website: https://sshrewsbury.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorstevenshrewsbury


Tour Schedule and Activities

10/26 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author   Guest Post
10/26 
Man's Midnight Garden    Review
10/26 
Sapphyria's Book Reviews   Guest Post
10/27 
Azure Dwarf    Review
10/28 
Book in the Bag    Interview
10/29 
Creatives Help Board.How may I direct your call?   Interview
10/30 
WebbWeaver Reviews   Guest Post
10/30 
Sheila's Blog   Guest Post
11/1 
Dice Upon A Time   Top-Tens List


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hellscapes II and Heart of a Lion Tours Contest






Hellscapes II and Heart of a Lion 
Tours  Contest

The grand prize, a shiny brand new Fire HD 8 (or gift card equivalent if the winner is international).   5 first place winners will get their choice of a signed Heart of a Lion or Hellscapes book in trade paperback.  Then 7 runner ups will win eBooks of both new releases.

Contest will go active October 25, 2015.  It will run all the way to November 10th to cover both tours. Click the link below to enter. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

From Amazon:
  • Our thinnest tablet yet and almost 2x more durable than the latest iPad Mini
  • Stunning 8" HD display with over a million pixels (189 ppi / 1280 x 800)
  • Fast quad-core processor up to 1.5 GHz. Rear-facing 5 MP camera and front-facing HD camera.
  • All-new Amazon Underground, a one-of-a-kind app store experience where over $10,000 in apps, games and even in-app items are actually free - including extra lives, unlocked levels, unlimited add-on packs and more
  • Enjoy more than 38 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, apps and games
  • 8 GB or 16 GB of internal storage. Free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire devices. Add a microSD card for up to 128 GB of additional storage.
  • Updated user interface - Fire OS 5 designed for quick access to your apps and content plus personalized recommendations that make it easy to discover new favorites

Web site:  http://www.stephenzimmer.com/

If you are motivated to read between or beyond the lines you may enjoy a very soul searching post by author Stephen Zimmer at his blog.



This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Three Days in April by Edward Ashton




This story occurs in a relatively close future.  Nanotechnology is booming and people are using both nanotech and biological modification to "improve" them selves.   The destruction of a town is the first shot in a revolution but who is revolting.

There is friction between the altered and unaltered.  The altered are those who have used technology to improve themselves.   Whether a "pretty" which is enhancement for beauty or a "gear head"  which is more literal in this interpretation than normal gear head definitions.

There is a strong hacker overtone to the book as well as the rebellious nature of the unknown enemy.   This book address the question of viability of AI  with the same reservations found in the book, Zeroes.

The character interaction feels real with smarmy comments and smart ass remarks.  Ashton does a very good job capturing the personalities of his characters. 

There is action, hacking, bio-mods, a dark government agency and even some mysticism, in other words, something for everyone.  Oh and you get a new appreciation of crowbars.

I really liked the book.

Site: http://smart-as-a-bee.tumblr.com/




This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Cover Reveal for Stephen Zimmer's Hellscapes

Cover Reveal for Stephen Zimmer's Hellscapes, Volume II and eBook Release Information!

Seventh Star Press is proud to reveal the cover art by Aaron Drown (of Aaron Drown Design) for Stephen Zimmer's Hellscapes, Volume II. This new collection of horror tales arrives in eBook next week in time for Halloween!


Hellscapes, Volume II represents Stephen's 11th book release and will be available in eBook format this Monday with the print version to follow in one week.  The eBook release will coincide with a blog tour and a contest with a Kindle Fire HD8 giveaway.

Hellscapes, Volume II returns readers to the nightmarish, shadowy realms of Hell in the latest installment of the Hellscapes series. Six brand new, macabre tales of the infernal await you … but be that you only visit these realms, you do not want to share the fates of the inhabitants you will encounter!

Included in the pages of Hellscapes, Volume II:

In “The Cavern”, a man finds his way into a nightmare, subterranean world that leads to an even greater, and more devastating, revelation.

A police officer takes pleasure in violently executing his duties and it appears to be open season in “The Riot” when he is part of an operation sent to crack down on a gathering of people protesting an economic summit nearby. But this is an operation that is going to take a very different kind of turn, one that opens his eyes to a new reality.

A woman finds herself stranded on a high, rocky ledge, along with many other men and women, surrounded by a frothing sea in “Above as Below”. Shadows glide beneath the surface and soon she will discover what lurks within the depths.

“Spots Do Not Change” tells the story of a man who has never had any qualms lying, cheating, or deceiving the women in his life. A reckoning day looms as he comes to understand that his actions have harmed the lives of many others, actions that in the realms of Hell take on forms of their own.

Having spun webs of intrigue and personal destruction at the heights of national politics throughout his life, a man finds webs of another sort to present grave danger when he finds himself lost within a strange wilderness in “Weaving Webs”.

Many are drawn to “The Club” in the heart of the decaying, shadow-filled city of Malizia, hoping for some entertainment and release, or even safety from the monstrous dangers lurking in the darkness. One man struggling against amnesia finds his way to the seemingly popular establishment and its confines give him momentary hope; until he discovers the nature of this night club and those who run it.


About the Author: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based in Lexington Kentucky. His work includes the cross-genre Rising Dawn Saga, the epic fantasy Fires in Eden series, the sword and sorcery Dark Sun Sawn Trilogy, featuring Rayden Valkyrie, the Harvey and Solomon Steampunk tales and the Hellscapes and Chronicles of Ave short story collections. 
- See more at: http://seventhstarpress.blogspot.com/2015/10/cover-reveal-for-stephen-zimmers.html#sthash.54xzHta4.dpuf

Sunday, October 18, 2015

HARPER VOYAGER U.S. IS LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MANUSCRIPTS!

This is actually pretty cool so fellow authors check it out.

HARPER VOYAGER U.S. IS LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MANUSCRIPTS!

Come back here (HarperVoyagerSubmissions.com) on November 2nd at Noon Eastern to start submitting for this Fall’s open call!

While we’re always on the lookout for full-length fantasy, science fiction, and horror, we’re really in the market right now for Urban Fantasy and Military Sci-Fi. And be sure to check back throughout the year—we’ll be doing other calls for different genres as well!

Keep in mind we are looking for full length manuscripts between 60,000 and 90,000 words. The submission window closes on November 6th so get your manuscripts ready!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Children of the Comet by Donald Moffitt




This book has a very interesting premise.  Time dilation leads to a curiously inverted exploration program with an anthropological twist.  There is also an exploration of political unrest in a closed population with generational aspects.

There were more things I liked about this book than I disliked.   There were times where it dragged but overall the plot moved along.  The characterizations were good but a touch of pontification slowed the movement.   I found the fact that women were still fighting for equal rights hundreds of thousands of years later some what dismaying.  However with an obvious misogynist running for President, I guess it isn't surprising.

I recommend the book.

Web Site: http://www.donaldmoffitt.com/donaldmoffitt.com.html/.

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This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan (Sorcery Ascendant Sequence Book 1)



I don't often rave about a new author, today I make an exception.  Hogan is good!  Ok, not good, GREAT! The story captivates from the beginning and holds you hostage to the end.  An orphan discovers his parents were murdered and strives to find out why thorough epic changes to civilization as he knows it.

Caldan is likable but flawed.  The trauma of his youth contributes to his lack of self esteem.  The status of orphan and charity case at an expensive institution of learning, no doubt, exacerbates his self pity.  Regardless of that, you find yourself caught up in his excitement of being accepted, his acquiring of new friends and then the disasters that befall him. 

Hogan created a believable society with solid structure and mysterious sub-cultures.   His characters charm and bemuse you, some will utterly disgust you.   This book moves at a very fast pace and keeps your interest high and your eyes wide open.  I can't wait for the sequel.

I highly recommend it.  

Web site:  http://mitchellhogan.com/


Fantasy;action, barbarians, battle, alternate worldsThis book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

To Like Or Not To Like, Is that Really a Question?



A Truly Likable Guy
Not long ago I was criticized for citing the un-likability of a protagonist for my lukewarm reception to a book featuring that character.   Apparently if you don't find a character likable then you, yourself are flawed and most likely unlikable.  As I am widely regarded as highly likable (in my own mind but where else is it so important to be liked?), I disagree with the assertion that we must all like or dislike alike, to be capable of offering an opinion on a book.   Face it, reviews are opinions.  I have tried over the years to characterize my "reviews" as recommendations rather than reviews.  If in my opinion a book ranks high against other books I have read,  I tend to rate it with a five star rank.   Since I am not certified or accredited by any pseudo-scientific organization  to write book reviews then there should be an immediate assumption that I am posting an opinion. 

It should be noted that likability is very subjective, I liked Darth Vader for his spooky evilness.  I liked Thomas Covenant,  Stephen R. Donaldson's character for his desperately flawed self esteem.  I liked David Feintuch's Seafort due to his despairingly depressing self loathing.   Character likability may be due to despicable behavior rather than laudable acts.  So, in my opinion, it is perfectly fine to like or dislike a character and since the characters in a book either drive the plot or are driven by the plot, it is not unrealistic to dislike or like a book depending on the likability of the characters.

BTW I do find it highly unrealistic that expressing a like or dislike of a fictional character represents the personal likability of the reviewer.. You may like or dislike that point of view to your heart's content.
 



Saturday, October 3, 2015

RJ Sullivan's Top Ten Butt Kicking Females (the first five)


 The Top Ten Strong Women Fictional Characters that Influenced RJ (Part 1, 1-5)

Welcome to the Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy blog tour, the Azure Dwarf installment. He asked for a top ten list of strong women, and I decided to list the top ten women characters that made the greatest personal impact on me. That means that, yes, Sarah Conner is certainly worthy, as is Ripley from the Alien series, and even Princess Leia, but none of them made as much of an impact on me, personally, or helped shaped my writing, personally, as the ten listed here. I’ll also do my best to list them as I experienced them in more-or-less chronological order, and discuss what it was like being introduced to these characters when I did may have affected my writing. Who knows, this is all 20/20 hindsight, anyway, so let’s just have fun.

1. Jamie Summers, AKA The Bionic Woman. While growing up, the Six Million Dollar Man was the hot show, and state of the art for super-heroics on series TV at the time. Season two capped with an epic two parter in which my hero Steve Austin asked his sweetheart and touring tennis star Jamie Summers to marry him. I was hooked. Before Romeo and Juliet, this show introduced me to the tragic love story. And what was not to love? (okay, the terrible country music song by Lee Majors, but other than that...) Lindsey Wagoner gave a fully invested performance that made me believe. I watched, sniffly and red-eyed as her newly acquired bionics caused a fatal aneurism and the story ended. Though written as a one-off guest appearance, fans would not have it, and so Jamie was given a retcon resuscitation in the season three opener and the eventual conceit (though as a kid I bought into it fully) of her memory loss that meant they may never be together, which set up her own series. I watched both shows faithfully. I could still see Steve every week and at the same time, watch a woman with similar powers risk her life on similar death-defying missions (did you know Wagoner won an Emmy Award for an “Evil Twin” two-parter? It’s true! Dumb premise sold by a committed performance). For the most part, the writers were careful to have her superiors treat her with the same respect as they did her male counter-part (this was the 70s!). They valued her input and  treated her as part of their team in an un-condescending manner. The show made me more cognizant of times when I see this not happening in real life. So it was a great show to grow up to...then along came the bionic dog and robotic alien Bigfoot when it all went to hell, but moving on....

2. Trisha “Trillian” Macmillain (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) Trillian plays a small but important role in the seminal SF Spoof of three decades. She is the only woman on the Heart of Gold, amongst three men and a paranoid (projecting a male gender) android. One man is literally the president of the galaxy, with an ego to match, who treats everyone around him with utter contempt...with the exception of Trillian. She is the only one besides himself he allows to take control of the ship. She’s the only one who understands the Improbability Drive, and whenever she speaks she proves beyond a doubt that she is the smartest one in the room. I remember reading the book in high school and being intrigued by Trillian. Because of what she doesn’t do and how attention is not drawn to her, I paid special attention to everything she did.

3. Rogue (X-Men) The X-Men lineup has no shortage of kickass female characters, from Storm to Jean Gray, you’ll find plenty to strong women to go around. But Rogue’s vulnerability is what draws me to her. In her comic book origin, she had permanently absorbed the powers of one of the Marvel Universe’s strongest superheroes. She can fly, she can bash through buildings with the best of them. She is, on the surface, a wisecracking fun-loving teenager (with a fun Mississippian accent to add to the charm, Sugah!) Yet, she is a 16 year old girl, she wants to go to the prom and dance with boys. But if they touch her skin, she absorbs their life force. She discovered her powers tragically while sneaking off kissing a boy who slipped into a coma, and while she turned the Rogue Kiss into a sort of ironic attack, it was clear that deep down, she craved the one thing most of us take for granted—love and affection from another. This touch of tragedy made me want to take her in my arms, hold her, and tell her everything will be alright. Except, of course, it’s the one thing you can’t do. Rogue dressed covered from head to toe, including wearing a pair of gloves. She removes the gloves to use her power, a theatrical flair I shamelessly reuse with Rebecca Burton. Rebecca’s psychic powers fully manifest with skin to skin contact as well.

4. Mrs. Emma Peel: So I remember kicking and screaming when the CBS Late Movie pulled reruns of Night Stalker from its Friday night lineup and replaced it with reruns of a quirky British spy show from the 60s called The Avengers. But luckily I gave it a chance, and it didn’t take long for me to realize it was possibly the best TV show from the 60s not called Star Trek. In it, suave secret agent John Steed and “talented amateur” Mrs. Peel, performed with flirty British charm by Diana Rigg, took on sinister villains out to conquer the world in a series of clever-spoofy scenarios that usually ended in a butt-kicking throw down. (Think 60s Batman meets James Bond and you have a good sense of the tone). In many ways a subversive show, one of the more clever notions is that the viewer quickly picked up that Mrs. Peel is smarter, a better fighter, and comes to the correct solutions more often, and one senses she appeases John Steeds ego so as not to hurt his feelings (Not that Steed didn’t have his own awesome qualities). Mrs. Peel was the role model most people of the era think of when referring to the “60’s Modern Woman.” The show was a joy to watch, and one I still spin on my DVD player every couple of years.

5.  Wonder Woman: Most people think of Lynda Carter’s TV show from the 70s, and it’s no lie that I enjoyed the show, and have fond memories of watching it. And yes, I own the box sets. In 1987, I was an avid comic collector when DC Comics held their post-Millennium event—put in Muggle terms, they hit the “reset button” on their universe and started over with new issue 1s of all their characters. George Perez, a comics artists and writer both hugely popular and incredibly talented, created the first of what would become a run of over 60 issues. He enhanced her origin, removing a lot of nonsense, and re-creating the character for an 80s audience. This Wonder Woman was closely linked to her Greek heritage. She was molded from clay and imbued with life by Zeus for Queen Hippolyta after the god had isolated the defeated Amazons on their island as penance for their prideful acts of war. Gone was the anachronistic and silly invisible robot plane (instead she flew Superman style with a pair of winged boots from Hermes). Gone also was the awkward romance with Steve Trevor along with her Diana Prince alter ego. Wonder Woman traveled to “man’s world” openly as an ambassador of her people, “Princess Diana of Themyscria.” She preached peace and love, did not go looking for conflict (though it found her) and resorted to violence only as a last result. She was an equal rights hippie in a war mongering world, unafraid to solve problems using love and understanding. Back on her island, hidden tunnels took her to Hades and other realms pulled from Greek mythology, creating a platform for epic monster battles of a heroic fantasy nature (this was the height of Dungeons & Dragons, after all). She was also (contrary to later claims) the first gay or possibly bi-sexual superhero of the comics, though you had to read a bit between the lines to pick up on that. (She lived for decades on an island populated only with women, so it made sense). This reinvention of the character was hugely popular, and an extended renaissance for a character often considered the Rodney Dangerfield of superheroes. Perez’ run on the book started during my first year of college, a time when topics like women’s rights and social change was top of mind. So this is why I am to this day an unabashed Wonder Woman fan.
Check out Coffinhill Tree tomorrow to read 
No’s 6-10 of this list!

RJ does not stint on his guest posts.  The guy goes in-depth and really shares his feelings.  Kudos to RJ for a great guest post!