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Author Archives: Dave-Brendon de Burgh

About Dave-Brendon de Burgh

I play guitar, write short stories, busy writing my first fantasy novel, I work in a book shop, I collect comics, and I'm a huge Star Wars fan. :-)

The Legacy Blog Tour – Review: The Legacy by Melissa Delport (Tracey McDonald Publishers)

Morning! Hope you’re all well and ready for the weekend! :-)

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Today is my slot on the massive blog tour organized by Tracey McDonald for the first novel in Melissa’s trilogy. :-) Melissa is a fellow South African author living in Kwa-Zulu Natal, a wife and mother of three kids, but that hasn’t stopped her from writing, and writing well, at that.

Here’s the blurb for The Legacy:

World War Three lasted twelve days. Twelve days was all it took for mankind to devastate the planet and almost eradicate the human race. No victor emerged from the ashes and billions lost their lives.

We survivors lived through the bleakest of winters. A primal existence became the new order, and the little that remained of our humanity hung in the balance.

Then one man stood up and changed the world. I believed, as did everyone else, that he was the hero of our time, the man who had saved us from our own demise. His name is Eric Dane and he is the President of the New United States of America. 

He is also my husband, and my greatest enemy.

I grew up oblivious to the truth, until my father found me when I was nineteen years old. He told me about the many horrifying facts that our new leader kept hidden from us. And he told me that beyond the borders the Resistance grew and fought for freedom from the oppression that Eric Dane had imposed on us.

My name is Rebecca Davis. I am twenty-six years old, and in me the Resistance has found the ultimate weapon.

***

Now, I haven’t read much in the Dystopian genre, mainly because I write Epic Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror (so I read in the genres that I write), and also because there’s so much Dystopian fiction being written for Young Adults – which I’ve got absolutely nothing against. My reading tastes just lie in a different direction. So when I began reading The Legacy I was expecting another YA Dystopian tale along the lines of The Hunger Games (watched the movies, haven’t read the books), and boy, was I pleasantly surprised! The Legacy is aimed at a mature readership, so parents might want to give the book a read first before letting their kids at it.

Not being constrained by the limits of YA, Melissa was able to really delve into the characters and world of the book. These are adults fighting a war, after all, and war isn’t pretty.

The main character of the novel, Rebecca, is a wonderful addition to the ranks of Strong Female Characters – she’s highly intelligent, motivated, passionate, and focused. We meet her as a teenager, getting a glimpse into the life she was living before she became part of the Resistance against Eric Dane and the New United States of America; her father disappeared at the onset of the Nuclear War and she’s had to grow up in a radically changed world without her father and with a family not her own. And she’s happy and leads a good life, until events focus on her and force her to make a decision that will change not only her life but the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of others.

From the onset the reader knows that Rebecca has hidden depths, but the author doesn’t show all her cards at once – instead, information is revealed at key points, not only advancing the plot but adding more layers to Rebecca’s character. None of it came across as forced or contrived, and the journey of discovering Rebecca and the world she lives in is pulled off effortlessly and with respect to the reader.

There are many other characters in the novel that shine – members of the Resistance take centre stage alongside Rebecca, fulfilling their various roles well, while also building a collection of threads that all lead back to Rebecca, and before the climax of the novel begins the reader knows exactly where the characters stand and where the plot is headed – at least, I thought I did, but Melissa still managed to throw a couple of interesting surprises my way.

The world-building of the novel was pulled off well, too – there is a reason for everything, especially the new government and the Resistance. For example, I still don’t know what happened in The Hunger Games that so radically changed society to the levels shown in the movies – it’s just a fact of the story that I was forced to accept. Melissa, though, explains what happened to the world and how someone like Eric Dane could rise to take such a prominent place in it.

And what Melissa also does is write great action! There’s plenty of Bond-like subterfuge in the novel (Rebecca leads two lives, after all), sneaking around and such, but when the characters are forced into hand-to-hand combat it’s pretty evident that Melissa put a lot of thought into how the characters moved, attacked and defended. There’s a completely awesome side to the combat, regarding what some of the characters can do, but I’m not going to spoil it for you – suffice it to say that Melissa successfully melded Dystopian with a certain genre-craze that has controlled the box office for a couple of years now… :-)

Regarding the personal relationships between the characters, Melissa manages to make the various relationships both believable and heartfelt; obviously there’s more of a focus on Rebecca than the other characters, but the emotional depth of the book impressed me. Also, Melissa teaches Stephanie Meyer just how to write a believable complicated romance – totally believable and entertaining. :-)

All in all, The Legacy is a better tale, in my opinion, than The Hunger Games could ever hope to be, and is an excellent example of the kind of storytelling promise South African writers have. Melissa has written an entertaining, engaging and thoughtful tale full of intelligent, brave characters, excellent action, great world-building and a great respect and understanding of Dystopian fiction. Highly recommended!

9 / 10

Cover - The Legacy

The Legacy is available throughout South Africa at Exclusive Books branches and can also be ordered online (paperback and EPUB) – it’s also available via Amazon (Kindle and paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle and paperback), and from Barnes & Noble.

Photo - Melissa Delport LR

To connect with Melissa, check out her official website here and the official website for the Legacy Trilogy here; you can also check out The Legacy Book Club on Facebook, add the book on Goodreads and check out her publisher’s website here.

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Blog Tour, Reviews

 

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Blog-Tour and Guest Post: Zeus is Dead by Michael G. Munz (Booktrope Publishing)

Hi everyone!

This post is a day late, apologies for that! :-( We’ve been moving into our first house and we hardly have a kitchen, never mind an internet connection. :-) That being said, here we go:

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Zeus is Dead – A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure by Michael G Munz.

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Title: Zeus is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure

Author: Michael G. Munz

Genre: Contemporary Mythological Fantasy

Release date: July 21st, 2014

Publisher: Booktrope Publishing

Length: 446 pages (paperback)

The gods are back. Did you myth them?

You probably saw the press conference. Nine months ago, Zeus’s murder catapulted the Greek gods back into our world. Now they revel in their new temples, casinos, and media empires—well, all except Apollo. A compulsive overachiever with a bursting portfolio of godly duties, the amount of email alone that he receives from rapacious mortals turns each of his days into a living hell.

Yet there may be hope, if only he can return Zeus to life! With the aid of Thalia, the muse of comedy and science fiction, Apollo will risk his very godhood to help sarcastic TV producer Tracy Wallace and a gamer-geek named Leif—two mortals who hold the key to Zeus’s resurrection. (Well, probably. Prophecies are tricky buggers.)

Soon an overflowing inbox will be the least of Apollo’s troubles. Whoever murdered Zeus will certainly kill again to prevent his return, and avoiding them would be far easier if Apollo could possibly figure out who they are.

Even worse, the muse is starting to get cranky.

Discover a world where reality TV heroes slay actual monsters and the gods have their own Twitter feeds: Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure!

About the Author:

An award-winning writer of speculative fiction, Michael G. Munz was born in Pennsylvania but moved to Washington State in 1977 at the age of three. Unable to escape the state’s gravity, he has spent most of his life there and studied writing at the University of Washington.

Michael developed his creative bug in college, writing and filming four exceedingly amateur films before setting his sights on becoming a novelist. Driving this goal is the desire to tell entertaining stories that give to others the same pleasure as other writers have given to him. He enjoys writing tales that combine the modern world with the futuristic or fantastic.

Michael has traveled to three continents and has an interest in Celtic and Classical mythology. He also possesses what most “normal” people would likely deem far too much familiarity with a wide range of geek culture, though Michael prefers the term geek-bard: a jack of all geek-trades, but master of none–except possibly Farscape and Twin Peaks.

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Here’s a guest post by Michael. :-)

Hi everyone! It’s great to be here on Dave Brendon’s Fantasy & Sci-Fi Blog. (I mean, ya know, figuratively. I’m not actually here in the Internet. Probably not, anyway. There’s the tiniest chance I’m somewhere in here battling the Master Control Program.) In honor of the recent release of my comedic fantasy novel Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure, Dave has asked me to talk about my writing process.

Some writers like to grab the reins of an idea or character that interests them, dig in the twin spurs of creativity and caffeine, and see where it takes them. They ride, sometimes finding glorious vistas, sometimes getting lost in a ravine, and often both. If they’re lucky, it’ll carry them directly to the stars. Or they might ram into a brick wall that shatters their mount to pieces. That’s the first draft. Then they take the reins again and, now that they’ve mapped the terrain during that first wild ride, plot a more perfect course to reach the vistas and avoid the ravines. This often involves a great deal of revising.

Stephen King likes this particular method. (Did you know he found the story and characters in The Stand were getting away from him, so he blew up the house in which most of them were meeting? The guy’s brutal.) It’s a fantastic method, and some authors obviously do quite well with it.

But it’s not my method. I’m a meticulous planner, and I like to know, more or less, where I’m going when I start the journey. The method that I’ve found works best for me—also a perfectly legitimate method used by numerous authors (Terry Brooks, to name one)—is somewhat the reverse: I tend to front-load the work in the sense that I take more time to sketch things ahead of time before starting in on my first draft.

First I need to decide on my general premise. It’s got to be something that excites me enough to want to spend an entire novel’s worth of time writing. This is both a “what if?” and a good answer. Then I sketch the main characters (who they are, where they came from, and where they’re going), create a “step sheet” that shows the flow of both character arcs and plot progression, and make a bunch of notes about the setting itself. All of this helps inform my writing so I can work in common themes, foreshadowing, and better set up character moments. (To continue with the metaphor from the first method, rather than taking a wild ride through the terrain, I get a satellite image.)

Then, finally, I actually write, using the step sheet and character sketches as a guide. This does NOT mean those things are inviolate. I might come up with new ideas as I go (and certain parts of my step sheet sometimes say “whatever seems to make sense for the characters at this point”), change directions, or even discover that the characters themselves have tapped me on the shoulder (or punched me in the face) to say they want to do things differently.

I hate when they punch me in the face. So far I haven’t had to kill anyone for that. (Okay, so actually I love when they punch me in the face. It’s great to see a character take on a life of his or her own. But sometimes those punches can put serious kinks in my plans! Jerks.) :D

So that gets me through the first draft. From there I edit, revise, agonize, improvise, exercise (it’s good to get the brain working, plus it rhymes here, which is my main reason for mentioning it) and probably eat some pizza.

Come to think of it, pizza (and caffeine) is also a very important part of the earlier steps, too.

So that’s my method. It works for me, but every writer is different. If anyone ever tries to tell you there’s only one “right” way to write a book, you kick them in the shins, and then do it again for me. (And then, ya know, run.) While there are a number of different things that must be done when writing a book, there are also a number of different ways to go about doing them.

Thanks for reading, everyone! Check out the result of my process (and hopefully get a few laughs in the bargain) in my comedic contemporary fantasy Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure, in paperback and ebook formats from Booktrope Publishing!

***

There we go, folks – I’ll definitely be making time to give ‘Zeus is Dead’ a read, seems like it’ll be an enjoyable read! :-)

To connect with Michael, check him on Twitter and Facebook; order the novel from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, add the book on Goodreads, and check out his website for more information regarding him and his work.

Massive thanks to Vanya for her patience, and to Michael for the great guest-post! :-)

Happy reading and always Be EPIC!

 
 

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Blitz Blog Tour: The Endangered by S.L. Eaves

Afternoon! Drawing your attention to an interesting new title from Zharmae and Luthando Coeur!

The Endangered Cover

Synopsis:

S&D Industries is a prominent pharmaceutical company based in New York. It has, for many years, appeared to exist only for the benefit of humanity, and this year’s chief product seems no different. The company’s CEO, whom we know only as Striden, announces the imminent delivery of a powerful flu vaccine. The true purposes of S&D are anything but philanthropic, however. The newly-engineered drug does not protect against flu. It turns people into werewolves.

The only group which stands a chance of resisting this change is a population of vampires. The foremost of them, who go by the name of The Endangered, are determined to turn back the mass werewolf infestation. Among them are an ambitious rebel named Catch and Lori, Catch’s newly-turned protege. Catch has brought this treacherous world to Lori’s doorstep and both their worlds are turned upside-down in the process. Secrets are exposed, alliances are formed. Blood is spilled as the vampires must do everything in their power to preserve both their own kind and that of their food supply.

About the author:

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Interview with S.L. Eaves
by TZPP Intern Andy Kubai

We interview with S.L. Eaves, whose vampires vs werewolves novel, The Endangered, is due out in July. Stay tuned for greatness!

LC: When writing in crossed over genres, how do you balance the elements of your story between horror and fantasy, or do you feel the need to do so?

SLE: I think some balance is good, but I feel it’s less about balance and more about how effectively and creatively you incorporate elements of each genre. When you’re working within one genre and infusing aspects of another a lot of the cross over happens naturally during the writing process.

When I started writing The Endangered, my goal was to write a vampire story that I’d want to read. While I love horror and fantasy I’m also really into crime fiction and a sucker for a good mystery, so ultimately I set out to blend influences… and it opens up so many possibilities as far as the story goes, the need to balance all the components definitely came into play.

LC: Vampires and werewolves both have any number of established rules and variations. When writing The Endangered, did you ascribe to a particular set of guidelines or make your own?

SLE: Yes, for sure. I tried to stick to the conventions described in traditional mythology and folklore; those the audience has come to expect. However, there are so many tropes associated with vampires and werewolves that if you don’t create rules, then your characters basically become invincible, and readers are less invested because there is nothing that they can’t overcome.

I made an effort to establish certain parameters, limitations so to speak, on their abilities. I wanted to make it clear to readers that these characters had vulnerabilities and felt it important to be consistent when exploiting any strength or weakness of a particular character.

LC: How do you stay focused on your world when writing a longer work like a novel?

SLE: It’s a lot about the mindset, I think. I only write when I have something to say; if it becomes a chore or anything less than “inspired” I have trouble focusing and the quality of the writing suffers.

I also wrestle with the storylines in my head for a while before I feel confident putting it on paper, so when I sit down to write I’m at the point where it’s on my mind so much it’s practically irritating me and I have to write it to purge it from my head and move forward.

I also listen to music constantly when I write. I find it helps me stay immersed in the world of the story.

LC: How do you evolve your characters and do they have minds of their own, so to speak?

SLE: When I write a character I try to think “What would [such and such] do in this situation? How would they handle conflict, approach situations, etc.?” And I would often write them in each other’s shoes and see what reaction worked best for the story. Like “hey, maybe this character should not be the one to discover this because his reaction wouldn’t work for the plot” – that sort of thing, so yes I feel they have
minds of their own.

In the case of this story, it was initially much more action driven and my focus was on the plot and not the characters or their interactions. When I realized the characters were more evolved in my head than what had made it into the manuscript, I made an effort to develop them further because you want readers to care what happens to them. That is essential. But also the most challenging part. In writing, it is much easier to write what a character does than how a character feels. At least that’s my experience.

LC: In The Endangered, who was your favorite character to write and why?

SLE: Quinn. She is cunning and enigmatic and crazy. I based her off of Harley Quinn from Batman. She was fun to write.

LC: As a reader or a writer, what makes a story really pop for you?

SLE: Unpredictability. As a reader, if you think you know what is going to happen next or how it ends, it is way less enthralling and immersive.

As a writer, the desire to achieve this caused some serious inner turmoil. I had to do what I thought was right to move the story forward in a captivating way – to give it that “pop.” And that resulted in some hard decisions.

LC: After writing The Endangered, would you like to work in this world some more or are you off to build other worlds?

SLE: I would. I think there is a lot more to explore. And I am working on a follow up.

I have also been working on a character-driven story set in more of a real world environment, no elements of science fiction or fantasy, but geared towards exposing a different sort of urban underbelly.

LC: What would you tell other aspiring authors about the publishing process?

SLE: Don’t write with the goal in mind of getting published. Write what you love (cliché, I know) and others will recognize the passion behind your words and feel inspired to bring it to the public. You approach it like a job and your writing will suffer.

LC: What is your favorite werewolf movie; favorite vampire flick?

SLE: That’s a tough one … For werewolf I’m going to go with Dog Soldiers because of the film’s depiction of wolves – –the transformation and the upright stance – is how I envisioned werewolves when writing.

For vampire, I’d say Interview with the Vampire because it does a great job of telling a story, establishing a world and making you care about the characters. I think it was a commendable adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel.

***

I’m really glad that these are proper, brutal werewolves and not the Twilight / True Blood weaklings taking over mass media! :-)

The novel will be out soon from Luthando Coeur, so keep an eye on their site. You can also add the book on Goodreads and connect with the author there. :-)

Until next week,

Be EPIC!

 
 

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Review: Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh (Orbit Books)

The blurb:

In the future, love is complicated and death is not necessarily the end. Love Minus Eighty follows several interconnected people in a disquieting vision of romantic life in the century to come.

There’s Rob, who accidentally kills a jogger, then sacrifices all to visit her in a cryogenic dating facility, seeking forgiveness but instead falling in love.

Veronika, a shy dating coach, finds herself coaching the very woman who is stealing the man she loves.

And Mira, a gay woman accidentally placed in a heterosexual dating center near its inception, desperately seeks a way to reunite with her frozen partner as the years pass.

In this daring and big-hearted novel based on the Hugo-winning short story, the lovelorn navigate a world in which technology has reached the outer limits of morality and romance.

***

This novel is, without a doubt, unique.

When I began reading it I tried not to have any preconceptions of what to expect – from the blurb I knew that I would be reading a love story set in a high-tech world; I wasn’t expecting aliens or spaceships or epic weapons, and neither should you. Rather, expect something new. For instance, the tale’s opening scene: a woman, woken from some sort of coma – except she hasn’t been in a coma. She’s dead, has been for years, and she’s been drafted (without her consent or knowledge) into what is basically a dating service.

What a premise, right? Yep, I was hooked from the beginning, too.

You see, what this story does is explore love, relationships, and friendships against a backdrop of immortality and social media – death has been eradicated, though the price is beyond exorbitant; you can live a life of influence, with all the notoriety and success that comes with such a life, but the price you pay for it is your privacy.

Each character’s tale explores aspects of this world: Rob’s path takes him into the meat and tech of the world, revealing just how insane such a world can be, yet at the same time offering a glimpse of the happiness everyone is searching for; Veronika finds herself in that quintessential Catch-22 situation: able to give advice but utterly unable to follow advice. And Mira’s situation is perfect at exploring just how we are forced do to things that aren’t in our character if it means we have just a chance at finding what we’ve been searching for.

And the tech in this tale is at once dazzling and terrifying – I really hope that Will hasn’t had an accurate vision of the future, but unfortunately I can’t help thinking that advances in technology coupled with social media are taking the world in exactly this direction.

We already live in a world where being connected (whether it’s via Twitter, Facebook or InstaGram) grants you a certain social status – if you’re connected then you know what’s happening in the world from instant to instant, leading you to believe that you’re informed and can have a knowledgeable opinion, but the cost, as explored in this tale, is that you know more about the world and less about your loved ones, and even yourself.

Love Minus Eighty” is an excellent read, at once an exploration and a vision of just how we, as emotional beings, continue to try and live alongside technology that can either increase the distances between us or bring us closer together. Highly recommended!

10 / 10

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To order your copies of “Love Minus Eighty“, click the following links: Exclusive Books, Book Depository, Amazon US, Amazon UK. And check out Will’s website for more info on him and his work.
Be EPIC!
 
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Posted by on June 20, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Review: Lo’Life Book 1 – Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay (Titan Books)

The Blurb:

”The tragedy of suicide is not death. It is what dies within us whilst we live.”

Working the Homicide squad, Alexis Bianco believes she’s seen every way a life can be taken. Then she meets the mysterious Lola and finds out she’s wrong. More weapon than woman, Lola pursues a predator with a method of murder like no other.

The Tormenta.

If you think you’ve never encountered Tormenta, think again. You’re friends with one. Have worked for one. Maybe even fallen in love with one.

They walk amongst us—looking like us, talking like us. Coercing our subconscious with their actions.

Like the long-legged beauty that seduces the goofy geek only to break his heart, causing him to break his own neck in a noose. Or the rockstar, whose every song celebrates self-harm, inspiring his devoted fans to press knives to their own throats. The pusher who urges the addict toward one more hit, bringing him a high from which he’ll never come down. The tyrannical boss, crushing an assistant’s spirit until a bridge jump brings her low.

We call it a suicide. Tormenta call it a score, their demonic powers allowing them to siphon off the unspent lifespan of those who harm themselves.

To Bianco, being a cop is about right and wrong. Working with Lola is about this world and the next…and maybe the one after that. Because everything is about to change. The coming of a mighty Tormenta is prophesied, a dark messiah known as the Mosca.

To stop him, Bianco and Lola must fight their way through a cryptic web of secret societies and powerful legends to crack an ancient code that holds the only answer to the Mosca’s defeat. If this miscreant rises before they can unmask him, darkness will reign, and mankind will fall in a storm of suicides.

Nobody’s safe. Everyone’s a threat.

I don’t read much in Urban Fantasy, to be honest.

I think it’s because there is such a massive emphasis placed on certain things that always seem prevalent in the genre, which, unfortunately, bring it closer to Paranormal Romance. There are plenty of authors I’ve yet to read, and the ones that I have delved into (Kate Griffin, Seanan McGuire and Chuck Wendig, to name a few) have impressed me.

Urban Fantasy has to, in my opinion, succeed at the following:

1) it must be set, largely, in an urban environment. The genre isn’t Country Fantasy. 2) There must be sufficient secondary world-building to make the reader miss the urban environment, and vice versa. 3) The magic has to be interesting and different – Kate Griffin and Chuck Wendig succeed massively at this. Among, of course the other necessities, such as good character growth, and interesting plot, etc.

When I first set to reading ‘Romeo Spikes’ I struggled to get into the book – not because it was badly written (it isn’t), or because it wasn’t interesting (it is), but because it was different. It’s one of the ways that I know I’ll enjoy a book – the difficulty of the read added to the certainty that I want to read the book.

‘Romeo Spikes’ doesn’t have fairies, or fae. There’s no Celtic-feel to it, and neither does it have a Norse flavour. Joanne manages to create a world that is at once surprising as it is interesting, bringing in a Biblical-mythology layer that makes her world fresh and captivating, which allows the characters to react and change as they should in a world they don’t know much about. The exploration of the world, as a reader, was one of the highlights of the book, for sure.

Character-wise, Joanne does jump around a bit, and most of the time it works – the reader will experience different perspectives (on both sides of the novel’s central conflict), and in particular, Bianco and Lola’s character-arcs are really well-written, engaging and attention-holding, with plenty of little clues along the way that will tug and push the reader along as they wonder just where these two stand. The Tormenta are interesting creations, but that’s all I’ll say – read the book and discover them for yourself. :-)

One aspect of the novel that tripped me up was the time-change in some of the chapters – there is very little or no warning, and I found myself having to re-read the chapter’s beginning to get my bearings again, because the plot had suddenly jumped into the past. This interrupted the novel’s otherwise great flow. But that’s my only real problem with the book. :-)

The world-building is great, and I’m sure many other readers will be left thinking about “real” or Historical events and the cool spin Joanne put on them. The characters are all interesting and well-fleshed out, and the book’s climax is a real surprise! And what “magic” there is in the book doesn’t overwhelm or confuse. Joanne’s style has a great flow and her descriptions are crisp, colourful, atmospheric and suitably brutal (at times).

If you’re looking for Urban Fantasy that doesn’t follow the conventional rules of the Genre (which no book should do, but you know what I’m getting at) and also builds an interesting new world, then Romeo Spikes should definitely be added to your shelf. I’m looking forward to the next book! :-)

8 / 10

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To order copies of the book, check out the following links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Book Depository, Exclusive Books. You can also read an excerpt from the novel here, and for more info on Joanne, check out her page on Simon and Schuster here. Don’t forget to browse Titan’s website – plenty more good reading to be had!

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Review: Ashes of a Black Forest – Book Three of The Iron Elves by Chris Evans

Morning! Werner’s next review for you! :-)

***

This is the most mixed I’ve been after reading a series.

I enjoyed all three books but the whole way through the third book I felt that maybe Chris Evans decided to write a fourth book as surely this can’t be the last one. I was mistaken, though, and it was the end.

It just felt way too fast at the end. The entire series focuses on the Marked and the confrontation with the Shadow Monarch, but the finale spans about 30 pages only. There are also characters (Rallie) that are more then they seem, and the truth about them is only hinted at but not confirmed, which left me disappointed. Maybe if the caravan wasn’t attached and she had access to Khaman Rhal’s library, it might have turned out different (maybe things don’t always go as planed as in real life changing the outcome?) There are also the stars that play a major role in the story but we never really learn about them; again, there are hints but no confirmation. It made the world in which the tale plays off feel a bit 2D.

That being said, there is a lot to admire about the series. The magic was interesting and really made me respect trees. :) The weaving of natural energy and the natural order of things play a very important role here and how things can go very wrong if it’s out of balance. The oath the iron elves take and the effect it has on them is one of the main points in the story; how it can change ordinary soldiers into more. How power can corrupt and how we as people are not always equipped to deal with that.

The action is almost none stop when it gets underway and keeps you reading just that one chapter more to see if the characters take a breather. They rarely do.

Then there are the characters themselves, most of them memorable. Yimt the dwarf was my favorite, as I’m sure he would be with most fans of the series. He sticks with you and is comic relief without trying to be. Alwyn, the young innocent who Yimt takes under his wing, who had the biggest transformation and who I also found the most tragic. Then Konowa, the major himself, who is the main character in the story and just wants to redeem himself and the tainted elves like him. He is stubborn throughout the series and even though there is growth he stays true to himself even at the end. Lastly the crazy Viceroys – all three of them :)

Book 1 had a bit of a slow pace for me but what and ending. Book 2 was a lot darker and showed Evan’s growth as an Author. Book 3 continues with the growth. I just wanted a little more.

6/10

ashes

If you decide to pick up the series, then all I can add is if you read it from Konowa’s perspective, you know it’s about his quest for redemption and that is your only focus then I’m sure the series will feel complete. A soldiers life is nothing if not unpredictable.

To order the book, or the entire trilogy, check out these links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Book Depository, Exclusive Books. For more information on the author, check out his official website here.

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Spotlight: The Final Frontier (The Ovion Archives) by H.M. Irwing

Hope you’ve all been enjoying a kickass Monday so far! :-) I know I have – slept late, had a filling breakfast, relaxing bath – you get the idea. ;-)

Anyway, next spotlight for you is here:

finalfcover

 

H.M. Irwing excites readers with captivating sci-fi action adventure full of action, adventure and suspense deep within ‘The Final Frontier

War tore apart Johua, a ruling planet in space where power meant everything and corruption of power ruined not only Johua but all other planets awakened to space travel. A team of Johuan scientist devised a plan that would contain if not eliminate their foe, the Ovions. The plan involved the introduction of EM1, an emotional management technique, that would curb the rage within the Ovions that the Johuan scientists believed drove them to unfailingly overpower the otherwise genetically equal Johuans. But unrest is stirring amongst the Johuans. A plan is hatching to rid the universe of its Ovion protectors and to amass the wealth of the awakened worlds for Johua.

The Final Frontier”, a captivating fantasy/sci-fi romantic novel written by author H.M. Irwing is narrated from the point of view of its main character, the bio-engineered smuggler and fugitive from the insular Johuan race, Sim Drewal and several other key characters. Sim an outsider student at a Johua military academy until she unwittingly killed a depraved instructor by using a power called “blue” is now on the run. She is scooped up by the Ovions, a virtuous, formidable Johuan guardian-peacekeeper caste that upholds justice throughout the United Awakened Worlds. They reveal Sim’s incredible origin; Sim and her three secret siblings are superior beings who were created by a missing mad scientist named Bimas Chawley. The Ovions want to use Sim to track him down, because someone is planning to use Chawley’s stolen technology to trigger a universal catastrophe. Meanwhile, it appears that the corrupted Johuan ruling class is moving to eradicate the Ovions and their associates. This all leads the story to an obscure planet—Earth in the year 2020—which allows the story to embrace culture-shock comedy with the alien beings trying to acclimatize themselves to Earth. Other story elements that add to this cosmic level of excitement includes a female U.S. president, hints of the existence of a divine creator, a Gaia-like spiritual force and bat-like winged angelic beings.

A page-turner space fantasy adventure, “The Final Frontier” will stir readers’ imagination on the mysteries of space and for them to unravel its secrets. It will make them experience the journey of the characters from one planet to another deep within the vast universe. Filled with intrigue, humor, political drama and fast-paced action, this volume will make readers crave for more.

About the Author

H. M. Irwing is the author of the bestselling The Final Frontier, the first of The Ovion Archives series. Irwing contemplates life and fantasises over the frontiers of space from the great Down Under. With Australia as a base, there is no stopping the creative juices of one great fiction writer.

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To order your copies of “The Final Frontier“, click here for Amazon US and here for Amazon UK. You cal also check out the author’s website here and read an excerpt from The Final Frontier here.

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Spotlight

 

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Guest Post: Gail Z Martin – Why Book Covers Still Matter

Morning! :-)

I’m honoured to have Gail Z Martin -author of Chronicles of the Necromancer (Solaris), The Fallen Kings Cycle (Orbit), The Ascendant Kingdoms Cycle (Orbit), Deadly Curiosities (Solaris) and numerous shorter tales-  back on the blog with another guest post. This time she’s  talking about a topic very close to both reader’s and writer’s hearts – book covers. Over to Gail!

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Back when the only place to get books was in bookstores, browsing the shelves for new and interesting covers could be a pleasant Saturday afternoon pastime. Even before bookstores added coffee shops, it was easy to while away several hours just perusing the covers of books, looking for a hidden gem, a new adventure, or a tempting tome.

Now, much of our book buying has moved online, either to purchase paper books via Internet booksellers, or to download ebooks. It’s gotten harder to leisurely browse, in part because there are fewer brick-and-mortar bookstores than there used to be, and in part because those physical stores that do exist have often cut back on their range of books in order to feature profitable extras like gifts, music, movies and coffee.

So in an age when shoppers may only see the cover as the size of a webpage thumbnail, do covers really matter?

I believe they do. I know that some people lament the death of book covers in the same way they lament the passing of music album covers in the age of CDs and iTunes. And I agree that books do face some of the same threats that music has faced, although there are significant differences. All the same, I think that the reports of the death of book covers, to paraphrase Mark Twain, has been greatly exaggerated.

We’ve often been exhorted to not judge a book by its cover, yet covers are often the first connection an author makes with a reader. This is especially true if the author has not yet reached the superstar ranks of name recognition, or if the reader has never read anything by the particular author in the past.

It does appear true that the better known an author is, the less effort goes into their covers. Make it to the pinnacle of success, and covers often feature only the author’s name and the book title with a solid color background. But for most books, the cover signals the reader that this book is part of a particular genre, like other books the reader has enjoyed, and begins the job of shaping expectations before the book even gets lifted off the shelf.

A good cover–one that accurately signals the reader as to the genre and type of story–plays a major role in attracting an audience for the book. The quality of illustration and bookbinding also tells a reader something about the book, as many small press and self-published authors will attest. Watch readers move through a book festival or the vendor room at a genre convention, and notice which books get handled more often, and which ones never get picked up. Good covers make a difference.

What makes a good cover? It’s a complex mix of elements that starts with a professional quality illustration. Poor art is a stumbling block few books can overcome. Appropriate illustration is the next hurdle. Readers understand the visual shorthand that signals mystery, thriller, urban fantasy, epic fantasy and other genres. Send a miscue, and you’ll lose many potential readers while disappointing those who buy expecting a different sort of book.

Type font, placement and color matter, just as it matters to have a catchy title for the book. I’m not a graphic artist, but I can tell when the placement of the words on a book cover doesn’t look professional. Traditionally published authors don’t have to think about these things, but it’s a detail that many small press and self-pubbed authors struggle with as they strive to gain legitimacy in the reader’s eyes.

The back cover matters, too. I have my books face up on the table at signings to attract readers, but when I engage prospects in conversation, I’ll hand the book to them back cover up, encouraging the person to read the book summary and endorsement quotes. A gripping teaser of a recap goes a long way toward pulling in a reader and building a hunger to read the rest. If the reader has never read a book by a particular author, endorsement quotes by familiar authors or publications decreases perceived risk. While not every reader is swayed by blurbs, those quotes matter a lot for a certain type of book purchaser, and as an author, we want to send good cues on as many different levels as possible.

Authors like to believe that it’s the words between the covers that really matter, and they do. But without a cover that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them pick up the book, those words never get read. I can’t count the number of times a reader has told me, “Your cover made me buy your book.” I make sure to profusely thank my cover artists, and I work as closely with them as possible to provide the details necessary to do justice to the story inside. Covers matter!

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About the Author: Gail Z. Martin writes epic and urban fantasy, steampunk and short stories. She is the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series, the Fallen Kings Cycle series and the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series of epic fantasy books, as well as the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy world and coming in 2015, Iron and Blood, a Steampunk novel, co-written with Larry N. Martin. Gail is a frequently contributor to US and UK anthologies. She also writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.

Find her at www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com. She leads monthly conversations on Goodreads and posts free excerpts of her work on Wattpad. An original novella set in the Deadly Curiosities universe, The Final Death, is available free on Wattpad here.

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Massive thanks to Gail for this excellent guest post, and to Anna Gregson for arranging it! :-)

Wishing you all a kickass weekend!

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2014 in Guest Post

 

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Review: The Pilgrims (Book 1 of The Pendulum Trilogy) by Will Elliott

Morning! Werner’s latest review for you! :-)

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I’m not a big fan of Portal Fantasy, so when I was given “The Pilgrims” to read the only reason I read it was because it was published by Jo Fletcher Books (I still have to read a book form them I didn’t like).

The story focuses on Eric Albright and his friend, Stuart Casey, who both see a red door in the midst of graffiti – and when people come out of it they know the door opens to another world. Styling themselves protectors, they guard the door for over a week and nothing happens. Just when they doubt their sanity, Eric on his way to a job interview, hears someone calling for help. He realizes that it’s coming from the other side of the door, leaves a note in the dirt for Steward, and enters this new world. Later that same day Stuart finds the message and enters a few hour after Eric.

Will is a born storyteller, as the whole book flows. It moves naturally. I enjoyed ever second of the book and really didn’t want to put it down. I liked the pace of the story and you really feel like someone is playing chess with the characters, as they fail to be moved, sometimes, or make choices that are out of character. Some of the things that bothered me about Portal Fantasy are here, too, but Will uses these things as ‘comic’ relief (I am Batman).

He also focuses on the new world a lot more – other portal stories focus on our world a lot and I don’t like it, because I live here and want to know about the other places. This story has dragons and Gods and naked women with white angel wings – what more could a guy ask for? :) The concept of the dragon scales, especially, I found intriguing. Reminds me of tribes eating the heart of enemies for courage or the brain for wisdom.

The world is beautifully realized and scary as hell, and so strange sometimes, just what we want. The plot evolves beyond what you think and at the end you know that the next one will blow you away. I won’t say this made me a fan of Portal Fantasy, but it definitely made me a fan of Will Elliott.

7/10

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To order your copies of “The Pilgrims“, check out the novel’s page at Jo Fletcher Books, or click the following links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Book Depository, Exclusive Books.

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Reviews

 

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Indie Movie Spotlight: Space Trucker Bruce – Directed by Anton Doiron

Morning! :-)

I’m back with another spotlight, this time focusing on an Indie movie called ‘Space Trucker Bruce‘. :-)

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In the near future, a breakthrough in gravity control allows inexpensive access to space.

Bruce is a trucker who works the hog fat lines between Earth and the Titan Station. He’s content with his life but a bit lonely. A month away from the Titan Station Bruce picks up Max, an easily bored automation engineer with a broken shuttle. As Max is about to go crazy from space boredom they receive a strange distress call. Soon they discover a huge dark object on a collision course. Bruce and Max must risk everything to survive their deadly encounter and deliver the hog fat.

The movie was shot over 6 years with a budget of $10000, and all the sets were built in Anton’s backyard and house. I haven’t had time to check out the movie yet, but this review on The London Film Review has definitely got me curious! :-)

Here’s a preview of the movie:

If you’d like to get more info on the movie and Anton’s work, check out the official website here; you can also head over to Vimeo to rent the movie. :-) If you’re on Facebook, Like the movie’s page here. :-)

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Spotlight

 

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