Posted on October 14, 2010 by Eric Pollarine
So, here we are readers, another late night at the old computer, another review, but this time it is a slightly different affair. Upon completion of George Mann’s “The Affinity Bridge” published by Tor, I happened upon a realization, OK, well not really a realization, more of a revelation, and not one in the biblical sense mind you, more of a traditional something that I hadn’t seen before until I opened my eyes sort of thing. Confused? Well, it seems as if you aren’t the only ones, because I am as well. So here we go with the admission stage of feeling guilty.
Posted on October 12, 2010 by Billzilla
Let’s get this out of the way first thing; zombies scare me. The mindless violence and relentless, insatiable hunger and lack of pain response of the George Romero-style walking dead creep me the heck out. So when Jim Lowder handed me a copy of The Best of All Flesh at GenCon to review for Flames Rising, I admit I approached it with some trepidation.
Posted on October 11, 2010 by teampreston
The Imperium of Man has many enemies among the stars, but none are reviled so much as the alien. Dangerous races seek to destroy humanity wherever they turn –the brutish orks, the ravening hordes of the tyranid, the unrelenting necrons and the mysterious forces of the tau and the eldar. Across the universe, humanity and their defenders, the Space Marines, seek to eradicate these xenos threats. Yet all they can hope for is another day of survival – for to stand against the alien is to enter an unending war… Featuring stories by Dan Abnett, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Nick Kyme, Juliet McKenna, C.L. Werner and many more, Fear the Alien is an unmissable collection for fans of Warhammer 40,000 and military science fiction.
Posted on October 5, 2010 by Eric Pollarine
I love books, which should be fairly obvious, as I take a great deal of time explaining to you on here, as to why I like or what I like about books. Normally I stick to Zombies/Survival Horror, not because that is solely what I read, as my house is quite literally overstuffed with books; but because I know that genre. I don’t live it; you won’t see me preparing for an all out zombie apocalypse on television or anything. I don’t live and breathe by Max Brook’s “The Zombie Survival Guide” though to be completely honest, after I read it; I did have the sudden urge to purchase my fair share of survival gear. But for the most part, on all conventional levels, I know that specific trope/genre/sub-genre extraordinarily well. It is often predictable; in its very nature is a formula, which is nearly standard issue for all true zombie/survival horror stories. It doesn’t mean that it is not enjoyable, that there aren’t a lot of really great character driven stories out there- because I think, if you have read any of the reviews I’ve done here and elsewhere, you know, that I believe that I have helped pick out some of the better pieces in the annuls of the living dead. But, every once in a while, just every so often- I choose to read something that is completely unassociated with the “living” dead or zombies or having to defend yourself against homicidal post apocalyptic cannibalistic mutated savages.
Posted on October 4, 2010 by Flames
Hang on to your hats boys and girls; Kell’s Legend is the sort of book that grabs hold of you and does not let go. If it weren’t for the two infant children in my home, I would have read it in one sitting. If dark fantasy and balls-out action is your thing, this is the novel you have been waiting to find.
I will only describe the book in the briefest of terms to avoid any spoilers. The kingdom of Falanor is invaded by a race of clockwork vampires. Kell, an old veteran with a legendary past, is forced back into action to protect his granddaughter. The story also follows a second protagonist from the vampire side of things. I do not want to say anything that will spoil her for you, but she is an excellent character.
Posted on September 28, 2010 by Eric Pollarine
Anthologies are a sordid sort of crapshoot. Admittedly, I am not normally a fan of crapshoots, or really gambling of any sort. It doesn’t come as some sort of moral high ground or religious stance against lady luck; it just isn’t my cup of tea. So when I got the chance here to do a review of Elder Signs Press’s, “The Best of All Flesh” which was edited by James Lowder, whose earlier works are some of THE seminal Ravenloft and Forgotten Realms works. Needless to say I was both excited-as all things zombie leave me feeling somewhat elated, and yet very, very skeptical. I have read the Permuted Press outings, and I have also read some of the newer compilations which have been released in the last five years, as all things “Zombie” seemed to be just the right thing for the failing publishing industry.
Posted on September 27, 2010 by Flames
Enforcer is not a typical 40k book. There are no space marines, aliens, battlefields — the standard fare for the darkness of the 41st millennium. Enforcer is also not a stand-alone novel, but an omnibus edition capturing all three novels of the Shira Calpurnia trilogy into one volume. The three novels are Crossfire, Legacy, and Blind. I somehow missed these when they were initially printed. I had heard quite a bit of positive discussion concerning them, so when I picked up my copy I dug right in.
The focus of these books is on Shira Calpurnia a senior member of the Adeptus Arbites. The Arbites are responsible for enforcing the laws of the Imperium across the galaxy. The best comparison to the arbites outside of 40k would be Judge Dredd. Depending on the situation, an arbite could be judge, jury, and executioner. Intimidation and brute force are the means by which they get the job done.
Posted on September 23, 2010 by Monica Valentinelli
Terry Goodkind is one fantasy author that I’m all-too-familiar with. I’ve watched THE LEGEND OF THE SEEKER series and have read most of his books about Richard Rahl and the rest of the characters. So, when given the opportunity to read THE LAW OF NINES, I was curious to see what Goodkind would do with a modern tale.
THE LAW OF NINES is fascinating to me in a lot of ways, because this wasn’t a story that I had expected to read. For starters, this is a lot grittier and darker than some of his other books because it is set in our world – a world with no magic. Although strange things do happen, Goodkind’s emphasis is on the “cost” of how characters might react to these reality-bending occurrences. The results, while not pretty, are wholly believable and help maintain great tension throughout most of the book.
Posted on September 21, 2010 by Eric Pollarine
So when we last everyone’s favorite and most famous gunner, Avery Cates, in the Digital Plague, he was on his knees and smiling. Hoping that this was the end, and that the universe would just put the bullet in his head and let him rest. I mean he had already survived an uprising from cybernetic monks, being patient number zero for a world killing nano robotic plague, and of course the seemingly endless stream of System Security Force cops trying to take down public enemy number one. You know what? I would be smiling too.
Posted on September 17, 2010 by Flames
The Redemption Corps is a regiment of ultra tough storm-troopers. Led by the legendary Captain Mortensen, the Redemption Corps and its Navy support divisions drift across the Kaligari Cradle from one warzone to another on brutal missions. When the revered major comes to the attention of the deadly sorority of the Battle Sisters, he not only has to contend with an ork invasion, but these fearsome warrioress-fanatics too. Now, the regiment must fight for its survival whilst being trapped between the xenos and the dark fury of the Imperium.
I read through this one rather quickly. It sucked me in and I couldn’t put it down. It also helped that I was trapped in the passenger seat on a family road trip as my wife drove us out to the middle of nowhere. Anyway, Storm Troopers are the focus of this book and bear some explanation. The Storm Troops of Warhammer 40k are nothing like those white armored buffoons from the original Star Wars Trilogy.
Posted on September 10, 2010 by Megan
This book sweeps you into the world of Savannah Levine, a young private investigator with a motorbike, a bit of an attitude… and spellcasting ability, the latter being a mix of her heritage of a half-demon witch mother and a sorcerer papa. For this is the 11th novel in author Kelley Armstrong’s ‘Otherworld’ urban fantasy series, where supernatural beings inhabit a modern America that’s otherwise just like the real contemporary one.
The story appeals on many levels: fans of detective fiction, female empowerment or the supernatural/modern world interface will all find this enjoyable. You could call it Kinsey Millhone (heroine of the ‘Alphabet’ series of private detective stories by Sue Grafton) meets The Dresden Files, but this is a living, breathing alternate reality in its own right where most people potter along in contemporary lives much as you and I do while supernatural beings mingle amongst us mostly keeping their abilities to themselves (with good reason, at times!).
Posted on September 8, 2010 by Nancy
Dear Cthulhu, Have a Dark Day: The Collected Columns, Volume One by Patrick Thomas is a collection of humorous advice. Taking on the persona of the Elder God, each piece of guidance is based on the concept that Cthulhu is actually very conservative. He abhors those that like to break rules. He discourages cold-blooded killing, because killing is “a right which should be Cthulhu’s alone” or at least saved for official sacrifices.
There are a lot of funny letters contained in the volume. For instance, a young woman writes in to ask for advice regarding peer pressure to give up her virginity. Cthulhu’s response? She should keep her virginity, because “it is better to be a leader of men than a follower.”
Posted on September 6, 2010 by Eric Pollarine
Ah yes, here we go. So when I was at Wizard World Chicago, see previous blog article on said adventure, prior to going into the actual convention I met up with Matt, our very fair minded and –not to be a kiss up, but really, in to in fact be a kiss up-wonderful editor handed me a box, which he so apply and verbally labeled as a “Christmas Present.” I asked as we stood in the lobby of the hotel, whether or not “Johannes Cabal the Detective,” was in the box or not? To which, of course there was the obvious reply, yes. But the man wears sunglasses to obfuscate his eyes, which I believe hide his own supernatural abilities. Point being, I am scared of him, so I didn’t press the subject.
Posted on September 1, 2010 by teampreston
Sword of Justice is the opener for the Warhammer Heroes series of novels featuring the Emperor’s Champion Ludwig Schwarzhelm. The novel starts out with a bang and really never lets up. Short of spoiling the novel I’ll say that like many stories set in the Warhammer universe, the opening scene revolves around a battle. This is handled in a very deft manner showcasing some pretty ordinary, grunt-level characters that grow in to something more as well as some characters that we know little about, but grow to really admire as the story goes on.
One thing I have to point out is the superb manner in which the author describes the characters, the scenes and how the characters are …human. One thing that I feel sets a good novel apart from a great one is having characters that are fallible, that make mistakes; especially when we see them coming and even when we don’t. I loathe Mary Sue characters, Golden Child characters, “the Chosen One” who really is a superhero in all but the cape…usually. Putting it mildly, the characters in this novel are all flawed in one way or another.
Posted on August 18, 2010 by Monica Valentinelli
Sometimes, when I’m itching for a story, I’ll pick up an anthology and check out some of the short stories that lurk within. To me, a good anthology has a broad range of stories; some will appeal to me, and some won’t. Released in April 2010, CTHULHU’S REIGN is a collection of tales edited by Darrell Schweitzer that gives authors like Jay Lake, Ken Asamatsu and Gregory Frost the opportunity to describe what happens after the Old Ones appear.
My interest in this anthology is more curiosity than anything, because so much attention is often placed on summoning Cthulhu or the Old Ones. So what happens after they appear? Well, if these stories are any indication, humankind wouldn’t last long. Such Bright And Risen Madness In Our Names by Jay Lake is a great story that meshes the first person voice so common in Lovecraft’s stories with a post-apocalyptic feel.
Posted on August 4, 2010 by Flames
Ulrika Magdova, reluctant vampire, is struggling to control her thirst for blood. For the protection of herself and others, a coven of vampires has given Ulrika sanctuary, so she can safely adapt to a life of darkness. But before she learns to control her strange new powers, that sanctuary is endangered.
In the city of Nuln something is preying upon this ancient race, and threatening to expose their existence to the nation. A witchhunt has begun and people are calling for the destruction of the vampires. With nowhere to hide, Ulrika and her mentor, the Countess Gabriella, must hunt down this mysterious killer before they become its next victims.
Let me start by saying that vampires have never really been my thing. Other than loving Gary Oldman as Dracula and staring at Kate Beckinsale I haven’t been attracted to them the way many people are. I have always thought of vampires as being great villains when done right, but more often than not, they are done all wrong in the worst kind of way. Yeah that’s right Twilight; I am looking at you….
Posted on July 30, 2010 by Billzilla
While the full moon rarely has a dramatic an effect on most people, there are some who will admit that they can feel the pull of the moon, at least in subtle ways — and crime statistics bear this out year after year. For those rare few for whom the moon activates a profound curse, the world becomes a different place entirely – a world filled with soft, slow creatures to be hunted, attacked and devoured. Give thanks that those with such a curse are still a rarity…
In Curse of the Full Moon, James Lowder has collected 19 tales from an impressive collection of horror luminaries: George R.R. Martin, Ursula LeGuin, Ramsey Campbell, Charles DeLint, Michael Moorcock and Neil Gaiman are just a few of the names any fan of contemporary fiction will recognize, but the list doesn’t end there. Joe R. Lansdale, Nancy A. Collins, Peter S. Beagle, Gene Wolfe and Harlan Ellison also contribute tales to this collection.
Posted on July 28, 2010 by Flames
His name is Brunner. Goblins, vampires, fugitives, and even dragons – they’re all fair game for this lethal killer’s blade. Across the length and breadth of the grim Warhammer Old World, Brunner plies his trade, applying his skills and intelligence to track down and slaughter sinister fiends. But he also faces challenges from within his own dubious profession as a rival bounty hunter stakes a claim to his bounty. Enter the dark and dangerous world of a ruthless bounty hunter.
Posted on July 27, 2010 by Eric Pollarine
So about a month ago, when I was looking for something to read that didn’t concern itself with hordes of zombies and or the living dead in the big box book retailer I happened to glance over at the Sci-Fi section and see this wonderfully packaged series of books by author Jeff Somers, they had a smart design and yeah as shallow as it sounds, I look for that sort of thing when I purchase a book. Because you can at times- judge a book by its cover. Presentation is over half the product, and yeah, OK, I have been burned before by the way something has so handily caught my eye on the shelf.
Seeing that it was put out by Orbit books, who also put out Feed by Mira Grant, one of my 2010 top picks for Zombie reading, I was intrigued enough to purchase The Electric Church.
Posted on July 26, 2010 by teampreston
The Pathfinder Tales are a series of novels set in the fantastic new Pathfinder RPG setting. Having read several tie-in novels for a wide variety of settings/ games I was excited to give this a shot. I think my excitement was well placed; the novel is a lot of fun and a fantastic “first look” in to rich Pathfinder setting.
The author does something we see little of these days (it seems) in utilizing the first-person perspective. Admittedly it took a chapter or so to warm up to it, but it seemed to really work. The first person perspective makes the events of the story seem a bit more personal and the author did a fine job in making some really interesting characters.