Monday, 10 September 2018

Looking for a fantasy novel to read? So was I. Here's what my Twitter followers suggested.

Are you into fantasy reading? Oh, silly question, I know. If you're here, you probably are.

Recently, I had a hankering for some new fantasy reading and I threw the question open to my followers on Twitter, asking for recommendations. Rather than keep the suggestions to myself, here's what they had to say - along with my own thoughts on some of the titles they suggested. Oh, and I'm sharing the links to the tweets themselves - so you can go follow some of those whose suggestions you like!

I've read both of the books above - and very well worth recommending they are too. I really, really enjoyed American Gods - it's a splendid standalone novel bringing mythology to life in the context of modern America. It can be dark, it can be grimly funny, and it's delightfully subversive. 

Well, A Song of Ice and Fire probably needs no introduction other than mentioning the other name it often gets recognised by, that of the first book A Game of Thrones. It's a smashing series - though I have to confess the past two books have gone a little more slowly, with a lot of characters being moved around into position for the final push. It's been a great journey - and I can't wait to see who lives, who dies, and who will sit on the Iron Throne. 

Each of these others are new to me - though I've been reading Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series. New ones for the list, though!

I've read quite a lot by Weis & Hickman - ever since the Dragons of Autumn Twilight as a D&D-playing teen. The Death Gate Cycle is one I hadn't heard of - but the mention of The Black Company is one I've had a few times. I think that one will be a must-read.

The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss, starts with The Name of the Wind - and I think it reads better as part of the series as a whole. It's a real page-turner, and a very cleverly constructed book. The reason I say it's better as part of a read of the series is that, for all that it's nicely done, not a huge amount happens in book one, but it's certainly got a feel of a mature version of good old Harry Potter's journey from student to hero. Though I'm not terribly convinced we can say the leading character will necessarily turn out to be on the side of the angels...

Gosh! Fevre Dream, that takes me back! I must have been 16 or so when I read that - I'll confess for George Martin, my go-to remains the Wild Cards series, but yes, Fevre Dream is a vampire lover's delight. 

Thanks, Martin! A good selection there indeed! Wurts and Feist are long favourites, ever since Faerie Tale by the latter, and the Empire Trilogy that brought both authors together. Good ideas! I'd always held off the Wheel of Time series, as it seemed it would never likely be completed. Oh, but hey, what's it say on the cover I posted just there? Oh. Yes. I guess the wheel of time has turned for me...

I already had Dread Nation on my Kindle when Geoff suggested it - and boy oh boy, what a cover that is. I'm about halfway through reading it since Geoff's suggestion and I'll have a review coming up sometime soon. 

Children of Blood and Bone, I'll confess, I was about to buy that recently when I saw the paperback was cheaper than the Kindle. I was put off buying at the time because, if I'm going to pick that up, I might as well get the physical copy rather then the digital. Still on my to-buy list for next time I'm across in the States. 

Thanks for the suggestion, Nicole! 

I'd really better before Lyra gets tetchy! (It's on my Kindle, in fact the whole series is, so... yeah, soon!)

I like David's suggestions - and I love that cover. Goes on the wishlist. 

And a hearty bunch of urban fantasy to round out the list - I've read a bit of Anita Blake, and the first three Dresden novels. Neither were, alas, terribly for me, but of course each has legions of fans.

So that's the list - I'll be sure to pick up a few from there, and do check back for the reviews to see what I thought of them. Thank you to those who shared the titles they love - and for those reading, do add more in the comments below! 

Enjoy your reading! 

Friday, 7 September 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Paper Magician, by Charlie N Holmberg; Light's Dawn, by Yvette Bostic; The Lion and The Tiger, by Lyra Shanti; The Elixir War, by Margena Adams Holmes; Delta Green: Denied to the Enemy, by Dennis Detwiller

The Paper Magician, by Charlie N. Holmberg

I don't think I've read a book in such a long time that has left me so... what's the word... ah yes, enchanted.
The Paper Magician is a delight - it is by turns charming, inventive and, well, don't let me get ahead of myself. Let's start at the start.
The splendidly named Ceony Twill is a young magician in a world where those who would wield the arcane arts bond themselves to a particular substance. Ceony longs to wield metal - but a shortage of magicians in the field results in her being assigned to paper magic. She is disappointed, she is petulant - and then she meets her new master.
If Ceony's ambitions are broken, then so is her master Emery Thane's heart. As Ceony learns, so too there are hints that she might help to heal his pain. Indeed, perhaps too, she might learn to love him. Until darker magic intervenes, and what was a battle to learn becomes a battle to survive.
A romance for Harry Potter lovers, this sweet tale is a warm and witty adventure. I don't normally read romance, but this had long lured me in by the time that development unfolded. There are sequels too - and I'm in for more.

AI rating: 5/5

The Paper Magician is available on Amazon here.

Light's Dawn, by Yvette Bostic

Light's Dawn is a prequel for Yvette Bostic's Light in the Darkness series of fantasy novels - which I've not read, but this does an excellent job of whetting the appetite. 
I say fantasy - but this is fantasy within the history of our world, as a merchant turned prisoner of Dutch troops and a Portuguese army scout find their paths being pushed towards one another, even as they seek to survive demons and cultists. 
Bostic has a nice style, and this doesn't feel like an afterthought to the rest of the series, really setting up a mood and feel of its own, and a tense build-up that makes you want to read more. 
The characterisation is nicely done - and seeming opponents are more human than many another author might portray. Captors are not always brutal, comrades are not always trustworthy. 
Well worth a try - and a bargain at just $0.99 as I write this. 

AI rating: 4/5

Light's Dawn is available on Amazon here.

The Lion and The Tiger, by Lyra Shanti

Ahh, love. Delicious love. This spin-off from Shanti's Shiva XIV series is all about the moment of falling in love. In her Shiva series, Hynfir is a general in the army. Here, he is a young man who falls in love with the unattainable. 
Leif is from a respectable family, whose father might not appreciate him falling for Hynfir. Will the two young men find love? Will the lion Hynfir win over his tiger? 
It's a short tale, but the kind of offshoot that adds depth to Shanti's wider universe. It's warm, it's compelling, it's... well, it's love. 

AI rating: 4/5

The Lion and The Tiger is available on Amazon here.

The Elixir War, by Margena Adams Holmes

What do you call a bodice-ripper if it's set in space? A spacesuit-ripper? A ripped spacesuit doesn't sound terribly wise - but I suspect you get the idea. 
Take a plunge across the stars with this sometimes saucy tale from Margena Holmes, as royal heir turned elite pilot Jory finds himself the only man able to solve the escalating conflict between the ruling body and the upstart rebel Kiral Radern. The two sides are plunging towards war over the elixir used to enhance people's abilities - sometimes offering glimpses of the future, sometimes offering strength and speed, depending on the user. Radern wants to control it all, and he'll stop at nothing to do so. 
Jory has the key to stopping him - Radern's beautiful daughter, and must decide if he can go against his true love in order to save his father's empire. 
It's a rollicking tale, full of action both in the stars and the bedroom. If that's your bag, then you're in for a treat. 

AI Rating: 4/5

The Elixir War is available on Amazon here.

Delta Green: Denied to the Enemy, by Dennis Detwiller

I'm a big fan of the work of HP Lovecraft - an author whose writing might not always have been the finest, but man, the ideas, those wonderful ideas. His Cthulhu Mythos has of course been much venerated - not least through the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game that gobbled up so many of my nights. 
Delta Green is an offshoot of the mythos in both gaming and written form - and Detwiller's books are a determined look at the Delta Green organisation, a secret group set up to deal with the truth of the mythos. After all, if the authorities knew that Old Ones and their kind were indeed a threat to the world, they'd have to do something about that, right? Delta Green is the solution. And sometimes the problem. 
Detwiller charts a tale through the years of World War II, as rival factions make use of ancient tomes and dangerous artifacts in pursuit of their goals.
I'll be honest - I've enjoyed Detwiller's stories before, but this one is a bit disjointed. It feels like a number of short stories shunted together, rather than a piece as a whole. I still quite liked it - because I'm a Cthulhu Mythos junkie, but it's probably not the greatest place to start. If your copy of Lovecraft's complete collection has as many dog-eared pages as Cthulhu has tentacles, and you've already dabbled with Delta Green stories, then dive on in, it's certainly one for the completist. If you're newer to the material, you might want to read some of those other works first. 

AI Rating: 3/5

Delta Green: Denied to the Enemy is available on Amazon here.

Got a book to recommend? Do share in the comments below what you'd like us to review. Our TBR list is slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower but we've never been known to be able to resist a new book. 

Saturday, 11 August 2018

PRESS KIT: Tales From Alternate Earths 2

Tales From Alternate Earths 2 is now available on Amazon. 

The successor to the Sidewise Award winning Tales From Alternate Earths is here. 

Step into the worlds that might have been, the worlds of alternate history where climate change plunges the Earth into a frozen landscape, where the Moon landings may not have happened the way they did in our world, where a 10th century polymath invents the glider and changes the world, where Jacques Cousteau's successors create an undersea city, where Soviet astronauts are feted as heroes as they lead the way in space, where time travel runs wild and where fairy beings tiptoe into reality. All this and more. There are Americas of a different tilt, an alternate path steering away from world war, and nations where the most dangerous thing is knowledge. 

Authors Jessica Holmes, Daniel M. Bensen, Rob Edwards, Leo McBride, Christopher Edwards, Gideon Marcus, Casia Courtier, Jeff Provine, Cindy Tomamichel, Brent A. Harris and Bonnie Milani show us the world that might have been - if the world had taken a different path. 

This is the seventh anthology from Inklings Press, as we continue to open the door onto different worlds, with a foreword by Sidewise Award winner Daniel M. Bensen.

The universal link for the anthology (taking readers to their local Amazon store) is:

Graphics for use for promotion: 

Graphics for paperback story title pages

Animated gif of the above frontispieces: