Monthly Archives: February 2017

Author Interview: Toby Venables

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Today I am interviewing Toby Venables, author of the new epic historical-fantasy novel, Hunter of Sherwood: Hood, final book in the Guy of Gisburne trilogy.

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DJ: Hey Toby! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Toby Venables: Well, I’m a writer in various media – novels, screenwriting, journalism – and author of four novels, all of which have been in some way historically based. The first was The Viking Dead, which threw together Vikings and zombies, but was as much a love letter to Viking culture as anything else. Then came the Hunter of Sherwood trilogy (AKA the Guy of Gisburne novels). I’ve also written a couple of screenplays – nothing yet produced, but the next one is looking good – teach students in Cambridge, have contributed to an academic tome on zombies, am married with two children and shoot English longbow.

DJ: What is Hunter of Sherwood: Hood and then the Guy of Gisburne trilogy about?

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Toby: Essentially, it turns the Robin Hood legend on its head. Abaddon – who had published The Viking Dead, and who knew I had a thing for medieval subjects – suggested the idea of having Sir Guy of Gisburne, the traditional villain of the piece, as a hero of a series of novels. As it turned out, I had been thinking about new ways to tell the Robin Hood story – kind of a Dark Knight version – so I jumped at the chance. I went away and worked out some ideas and they liked them, so we went for the first novel, Knight of Shadows. The challenge I set myself was that the story I wrote had to fit with the real history of the period (it’s set it at the time of King Richard and Prince John) and also had to fit with the legends we know. But it also had to have a genuinely admirable character in Gisburne, and a real villain in Hood, and real reasons why we would root for the man who legend has remembered as the bad guy. Originally, there was talk of this being an ongoing series. After the first book, though, it was clear that this needed a distinct narrative arc, and we all agreed that a trilogy would work better. Gisburne and Hood are destined to have a showdown, and that showdown is what the novel Hood is all about. It has a bit of a Magnificent Seven feel to it. And it is quite grim. Although it isn’t horror, I have a love of that genre, and there are moments where it becomes horror. Comedy too. I like that contrast of tones, and that kind of richness. Life is like that. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Steve Rasnic Tem

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Today I am interviewing Steve Rasnic Tem, Bram Stoker and World Fantasy Award-Winner, and author of the new science-fiction horror novel, UBO.

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DJ: Hey Steve! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Steve Rasnic Tem: I’ve been publishing professionally since the early 80’s. In that time I’ve published over 400 short stories, 10 collections, 6 novels, and a large number of poems, articles, essays, plays, etc. I’m a past winner of the Bram Stoker, World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and International Horror Guild awards. Most of what I’ve learned about writing over the years will be collected soon in Yours to Tell: Dialogues on the Art and Practice of Writing (Apex Publications), the last project I completed with my late wife Melanie.

DJ: What is UBO about?

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Steve: At its heart, UBO is a meditation on violence. A blend of science fiction and horror, the novel utilizes such historical viewpoint characters as Stalin, Himmler, Charles Whitman, Jack the Ripper, and Gilles de Raiis to explore humanity’s propensity for violent acts. Every resident of this prison located in a future Boston ravaged by riots and climate change has a similar memory of the journey to Ubo: a dream of dry, chitinous wings crossing the moon, the gigantic insects dropping swiftly over the houses of the neighborhood, passing through walls and windows as if by magic. Once there they are watched over by alien creatures who resemble giant roaches, and each day these roaches force them to relive the memories of some of history’s most violent figures. It’s a dark journey, but also an exploration of the things which make us human, with a ray of hope at the end. Continue reading

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Best Read of 2016! 5 Star Book

Throughout the month of February, I will posting various “best of” lists, ranging from my top 5, 4.5 and 4 star reads of 2016!

Today, I am happy to announce my…

Best Read of 2016! 5 Star Book


 1. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentlemen Bastard Sequence #1) by Scott Lynch

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About the Book:

In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part “Robin Hood”, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling…

An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying…

My Rating: 5/5

Why You Should Read It: Every once in a while, I come across a book that is nothing short of fantastic – and The Lies of Locke Lamora is one of those books; The Lies of Locke Lamora is a near flawless novel.

This book is on my all-time favorites list – which only has 7 total. Normally, when I do add a book my favorite lists, this decision will take months, maybe even a year later! I made this decision the week after.

I wrote nearly 2,500 words(!) for my review, I still felt like I hadn’t even touched the surface of what this story has to offer.

Read My Review

-DJ

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Author Interview: Chris Sharp

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Today I am interviewing Chris Sharp, author of the new fantasy novel, Cold Counsel.

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DJ: Hey Chris! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Chris Sharp: I don’t think there are too many readers who are familiar with me yet. I’m a middle-aged dreamer with a propensity for long-winded storytelling, a fierce resistance to adulthood, and an optimist’s belief in magic.

Grew up in Alexandria, VA making home movies and playing RPGs with my friends. Went to college, moved to Brooklyn, and worked in film and commercial production for 16 years—often with those same friends—while writing books at night.

Now I’m in MA, with a wife and kid; writing as much as I can and trying to get as many of these stories out of my craw in some form or another.

The first book I wrote was a 270,000-word dark fantasy epic about schizophrenia, a mythological world next door, and Jungian Archetypes of dream. It lives in a dark box. My first published book was a contemporary fantasy YA crossover that has a sequel coming soon.

Right now I’m writing a screenplay. 

DJ: What is Cold Counsel about?

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Chris: My editor, the brilliant Jen Gunnels, described it as “Conan the Barbarian as written by Tolkien while on a cocaine and petroleum bender,” which may give a keener insight into the tone than what you’ll get on the cover.

At heart, it’s a simple coming of age tale about a boy, his aunt, and his ax.

The boy is the last troll to survive the genocide of his race, his aunt is the masked reincarnation of an ancient goddess consumed by anger, and the ax is a possessed relic from the storied age of giants.

There are no humans or easy heroes to hold to, but I hope you’ll find yourself rooting for a loveable band of bloodthirsty killers, and wishing for more at the story’s close.

It’s fast, furious fun for the whole family, if the family isn’t afraid of harsh language, brutal violence, and reveling in the fodder of nightmares. Continue reading

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Book Review: Avogadro Corp (Singularity #1) by William Hertling

The Seer (Singularity #1by William Hertling

Publisher: Liquididea Press

Publication Date: November 19, 2011

Edition: Paperback, 302 pages

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 4/5


Avogadro Corp is a diabolically clever insight into accidental A.I.
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Author Interview: Nicholas Eames

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Today I am interviewing Nicholas Eames, debut author of the new fantasy novel, Kings of the Wyld, first book of The Band series.

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DJ: Hey Nicholas! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Nicholas Eames: Hi! Thanks for having me—I really appreciate it. A bit about me? I love books (obviously) but I also love video games, history, and hockey (I’m Canadian, after all). I’ve been an ‘aspiring’ writer for a long time, and getting published is quite literally my biggest dream come true.

DJ: What is Kings of the Wyld about?

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Nicholas: It’s about five retired mercenaries who reunite to rescue the daughter of their leader, who is trapped in a city under siege. The setting is loosely allegorical of the golden age of classic rock, wherein mercenary ‘bands’ are afforded the celebrity status of rock stars. They have managers, are booked for ‘gigs’ (slaying monsters, saving towns, etc.) and are accompanied by bards, who are responsible for increasing their notoriety. Beyond the basics, however, it’s a book about the bonds of friendship, and the loyalty we have for those we love.    

DJ: What were some of your influences for Kings of the Wyld, and The Band series?

Nicholas: Book-wise, Ready Player One was a huge influence, because despite its subject matter (which is geared toward a niche audience) it was told with such passion and excellent pacing that its appeal goes far beyond its intended targets. That’s something I tried to do with KINGS as well. Joe Abercrombie, Sebastien de Castell, and Scott Lynch are also favorites of mine, as they all combine ‘epic’ fantasy with humor and heart.

That said, KINGS was inspired primarily by music. Its characters represent the typical members of a rock band (right down to the axe-man) and many of its scenes were directly influenced by specific songs. There’s a fairly detailed ‘soundtrack’ on my website for those wishing to find out more. Continue reading

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Top Reads of 2016! 4.5 Star Books

Throughout the month of February, I will posting various “best of” lists, ranging from  my top 5, 4.5 and 4 star reads of 2016!

Today, I am happy to announce my…

Top Reads of 2016! 4.5 Star Books


 4. In the Shadow of the Gods (Bound Gods #1) by Rachel Dunne

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About the Book:

A breathtaking talent makes her debut with this first book in a dark epic fantasy trilogy, in which a mismatched band of mortals, led by violent, secretive man, must stand against a pair of resentful gods to save their world.

Eons ago, a pair of gods known as the “Twins” grew powerful in the world of Fiatera, until the Divine Mother and Almighty Father exiled them, binding them deep in the earth. But the price of keeping the fire-lands safe is steep. To prevent these young gods from rising again, all twins in the land must be killed at birth, a safeguard that has worked, until now.

Trapped for centuries, the Twins are gathering their latent powers to break free and destroy the Parents for their tyranny—a fight between two generations of gods for control of the world and the mortals who dwell in it.

When the gods make war, only one side can be victorious. Joros, a mysterious and cunning priest, has devised a dangerous plan to win. Over eight years, he gathers a team of disparate fighters—Scal, a lost and damaged swordsman from the North; Vatri, a scarred priestess who claims to see the future in her fires; Anddyr, a drug-addled mage wandering between sanity and madness; and Rora and Aro, a pair of twins who have secretly survived beyond the reach of the law.

These warriors must learn to stand together against the unfathomable power of vengeful gods, to stop them from tearing down the sun . . . and plunging their world into darkness.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Why You Should Read It: Multiple POVs and compelling characters; intertwining plots, story with a large scope; great prose, and a vast world with wonderful and creative world building. All the ingredient you need to make a epic fantasy trilogy that fans will devour.

Read My Review

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Book Review: The Seer by Sonia Orin Lyris

The Seer by Sonia Orin Lyris

Publisher: Baen

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

Edition: Paperback, 656 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5


The Seer is a masterpiece of Epic Fantasy in the vein of The Game of Thrones.
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Author Interview: S.C. Stokes

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Today I am interviewing S.C. Stokes, author of the new fantasy novel, When the Gods War, sequel to A Coronation of Kings.

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DJ: Hey Sam! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

S.C. Stokes: Hey DJ, thanks for the invite. I’m a relatively new Author, When The Gods War is my second novel with many more still to come! I live in Brisbane Australia. I love to read, write and live Fantasy. I participate in a Live Action Role Play group where I don armour and sword and do battle on a regular basis. I just love the Fantasy genre and everything that comes with it.

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(I’m the chap in silver on the left)

DJ: What is When the Gods War about?

S.C.: When The Gods War is a struggle of survival for the people of Andara. Yaneera Empress of Andara, inherits an empire in the grip of famine. Determined and desperate Yaneera fights to save her people.

With her neighbours combining against her Yaneera is faced with a new threat.

Jonas, Disciple of the God Mythos appears in her court. In one hand he offers salvation from the famine and drought afflicting the land, but with the other he requires a price. One that Yaneera may not wish to pay.

As rival Gods fight for supremacy, Yaneera and her people are swept into a conflict where the stakes are victory or death.

DJ: What were some of your influences for When the Gods War?

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S.C.: Life was my inspiration for this novel. I think that the laboratory of life finds all of us thrust into circumstances (often beyond our control). On the uncertain playing field of life, each of us battle daily to improve our circumstances, find happiness or some days just keep our heads above water.

I tried to draw on that concept when writing this book. When The Gods War is less about who is Good/Bad etc but more a story of many kingdoms and people each trying to succeed in an uncertain world.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?

S.C.: Yaneera – She is young and clever and applies those gifts to try and survive the turbulent politics of her Empire. At her heart is a desire to help her people. I think her struggle will resonate with a lot of readers.

Syrion Listar – Is one of the central figures of my series. He has an affinity with magic and is a member of the Astarii (a race of humans, who have been given great gifts to aid them in helping and protecting the worlds they watch over as Guardians). Syrion’s particular gift is the ability to shape shift into a Golden Dragon. My readers tell me they enjoy these scenes tremendously. I have to say I enjoy them too. Continue reading

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Top Reads of 2016! 4 Star Books

Throughout the months of February and March, I will posting various “best of” lists, ranging from  my top 5, 4.5 and 4 star reads of 2016, to the best quotes, and my favorite foodie quotes!

Today, I am happy to announce my…

Top Reads of 2016! 4 Star Books


 4. Scavenger: A.I. (Sand Divers #2) by Timothy C. Ward

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About the Book:

Hundreds of years ago a nanotech virus nearly wiped out humanity. The kernel of that technology has been locked in a buried military and guarded from warlords and tyrants by a class of sentries. Divemaster Rushing Stenson and his wife Star thought their journey underground would lead to the discovery of the ancient city of Danvar. Instead, they resurrected a power perfect for the tyrant that put them there. He plans to use this self replicating technology to rebuild America and give life eternal to those loyal to his empire.

In Scavenger: A.I., Rush, Star and their crew of survivors see an opportunity to use this power to defend their new territory and rewrite the course of their lives and country in a way that would make their children proud. However, as they discover the oddities of this power, it may be too late to reverse the evolution they’ve seen within. And some aren’t interested even if they could. Even if what they’re becoming is too much like the tyrants they’re fighting.

As the nanotech and infusion of the power source they’ve uncovered changes Rush and Star, they are tempted with the chance of bringing their deceased newborn back to life. Will this child be the one they knew, and if not, how far into dangerous territory will they go to force what shouldn’t be?

Inspired by the world of Sand by Hugh Howey and written with his permission. This stand alone series takes the action of Mad Max: Fury Road and injects it into a hostile environment catered to fans of Alien.

My Rating: 4/5

Why You Should Read It: Timothy C. Ward has talent for writing sympathetic characters and creating imaginative sci-fi technology.

Read My Review

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