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Author Archives: Dave de Burgh

About Dave de Burgh

I'm a writer, editor, guitar-player, comic-reader, game-player, paranormal investigator, and co-parent to three awesome furkids.

Review: Captain Marvel – Liberation Run by Tess Sharpe (Titan Books)

Hey everyone, I’m back with a review of one of Titan’s Marvel Universe novels, focusing on Captain Marvel herself. 🙂

I’ve been a comic fan since grade school, and although my first love has always been DC comics, I’m a Marvel fan, too (shocker – it’s possible and okay to be a fan of both!). My first ‘meeting’ with Carol was in the pages of Civil War 2, in which she led the side opposing Tony Stark’s stance on a provocative and dangerous Inhuman threat. So, I haven’t followed her career from the beginning, though I do like her current uniform and hairstyle more than her previous looks. Carol struck me as a strong, determined, self-confident person, willing to stand by her convictions and to fight for what she perceives as ‘right’. In fact, in Civil War 2, she surpassed Steve Rogers, in my opinion. But I didn’t know or understand Carol and her motivations, even though I could see the value in them.

I was hoping that Liberation Run would also serve as an introduction to the character for readers who weren’t familiar with her (like me), and in that, Liberation Run disappointed me. Carol is the carol I met in Civil War -as strong, determined and principled as I expected- but this book was written for readers who have a long-standing reader-character relationship with Carol. There are mentions here and there of how she received her powers and events that moulded her motivations, but readers (such as me) who are meeting Carol for the first time might feel (as I do) that they have read an entire novel starring her without having been able to get to know her. In terms of giving Carol / Captain Marvel a well-rounded introduction to new readers / prospective fans, the novel disappoints.

And unfortunately, it also disappoints in terms of setting. 😦

There is a definite difference in the aspects of storytelling which are obvious and important when comparing comics to novels, which is as it should be. If i think back to John Byrne’s depictions of Krypton, I remember how different and exciting the landscape and architecture was, how Byrne showed us that we were on Krypton – on a different planet. But where the majority of Liberation Run takes place (a different planet, among an alien species) has human-centric buildings and landscapes, English is spoken by everyone, the clothing styles are human (evening dresses, for example), the alien species looks relatively human (yes, there is an expected anthropomorphism in comics, but you can tell just by looking at him that Thanos isn’t a human being, for example), and the technology, when compared to what would conceivably exist on Earth at the same time, is the same (except for a cool spaceship). What we have is an alien species living on a different planet being and acting and looking like humans with human technology – which begs the question: why did the majority of the novel take place on a different planet?

Now, another thing which gets to me a bit is when characters with superpowers show inconsistent power-levels – such as in the CW shows, Supergirl and The Flash. Sometimes Supergirl can pick up something massive and other times she struggles with something vastly smaller; sometimes The Flash reaches a location in split-seconds and sometimes it takes 5 or more seconds, when there’s no apparent reason -such as increased distance / fatigue- for such inconsistencies. And there was one glaring inconsistency in Liberation Run, with something Carol did early in the book and then seemingly couldn’t do later on – catching a spaceship, and then having no choice but to let the spaceship crash. I might be nitpicking, but inconsistencies are glaring – if Captain America can’t take a punch from an average Skrull but can stand against a punch from Thanos, there’s a problem.

My review is not all doom and gloom, though. 🙂

The Inhuman character who shares the spotlight with Carol, Rhi, is a good example of how to handle character growth and to keep a character’s arc interesting and engaging. The other Inhumans we meet manage to populate the narrative memorably and don’t just function as mouths for extra dialogue and padding. The plot, while a bit held back by the unfortunate setting, was fast-paced there were cool set-piece battles, with well-handled tension.

So, as an introduction for those who don’t know Carol Danvers’ backstory, and for those seeking a fleshed-out, well thought-out setting, the novel unfortunately falls short. But looked at as a quick, fun romp for a group of superheroes as they go about righting a terrible wrong, ‘Liberation Run‘ does its job well. 🙂

I’ll have to give it a 6/10.

You can order your copies from Amazon here, and check out the rest of Titan’s Marvel Universe novels here. Tess Sharpe has written much more than ‘Liberation Run’ so do visit her website to see the rest of her work. The next Marvel novel from Titan I’ll be reading and reviewing is Thanos: Death Sentence by Stuart Moore.

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

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Posted by on April 12, 2019 in Reviews

 

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Review: Adrift by Rob Boffard

Hey everyone, hope you’re all well. 🙂 I’m back with a review of Rob Boffard’s excellent ‘Adrift’!

In the far reaches of space, a tour group embarks on what will be the trip of a lifetime – in more ways than one . . .

At Sigma Station, a remote mining facility and luxury hotel in deep space, a group of tourists boards a small vessel to take in the stunning views of the Horsehead Nebula.

But while they’re out there, a mysterious ship with devastating advanced technology attacks the station. Their pilot’s quick thinking means that the tourists escape with their lives – but as the dust settles, they realise they may be the only survivors . . .

Adrift in outer space on a vastly under-equipped ship, they’ve got no experience, no weapons, no contact with civilisation. They are way out of their depth, and if they can’t figure out how to work together, they’re never getting home alive.

Because the ship that destroyed the station is still out there. And it’s looking for them…

First off, that cover sets the reader up brilliantly for what they can expect, so congrats to massive kudos to Charlotte Stroomer, the cover designer. Secondly, what a read! Rob’s work first came to my attention years ago when I received a printed MS copy from his South African distributors, and I’m ashamed to admit that I just never got around to reading Tracer. After reading ‘Adrift‘, I’ll be reading the entire ‘Outer Earth Trilogy‘ (the omnibus edition), as soon as I can. This is definitely a case of “don’t delay, read the damned books!”.

Adrift‘ takes place in a possible future where humanity had found and learned how to use wormholes to travel to many different solar systems, but the expansion hasn’t gone well – and not because of aliens. I won’t give the reason for the background conflict away (the first scene of the first chapter gives the reader a great introduction to this conflict, and the rest of the book adds more detail), but the conflict itself is central to the plot, and in surprising ways.

The plot, detailing how a group of disparate tourists, a representative of the tour company, and the pilot of their vessel are thrown into a survival nightmare- is expertly paced and unputdownable. Every chapter ends with a sneaky hook to lead you into the next and the chapters cycle between specific characters, which gives the reader a broad and yet intimate look into the kinds of people and personalities who will take them through the book. And let me tell you – there are massive surprises and turnarounds; many times I had to lower the book and exclaim to the wall across from me, “What the fuck?!” – in an admiring and jealousy-laden tone. These events serve the plot and deepen it – they’re not just there to make things more exciting, and everything ties together as the pieces of the mystery the characters are embroiled in fall into place.

What Rob manages to do with this novel is present the reader with a kickass premise, stand-out characters, brilliantly conceived and handled action set-pieces, and a multilayered mystery which ends with massively cool bang. He’s also managed to end the story as well as leave the universe he’s created open for more exploration. SciFi Magazine called this: “A TERRIFICALLY CINEMATIC ROLLER-COASTER” SciFi Magazine, and Gareth Powell said that Adrift is ‘an edge-of-the-seat epic of survival and adventure in deep space‘; I agree wholeheartedly with both assessments. Absolutely kickass novel!

9/10

To order your copies of ‘Adrift‘, head over to Amazon, and add the book to your Goodreads shelf here. Also, don’t forget to have a gander at Rob’s site.

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2019 in Reviews

 

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Spotlight and Excerpt: We Call It Monster by Lachlan Walters (Severed Press)

A story-cycle/novel-in-stories, We Call It Monster is written in a grounded and realistic way, with each chapter unfolding from the perspective of a different character, and detailing his or her first-hand experience of the conflict between humans and monsters.

Hey everyone, hope you’re all well and that you enjoyed your weekend! I’m back with another spotlight for a book that should be on your radar – and what a cover!

Here’s some info about the book:

One ordinary day, an enormous creature dragged itself out of the ocean and laid waste to a city. In the months and years that followed, more and more creatures appeared until not a single country remained untouched. At first, people tried to fight them. In the end, all they could do was try and stay alive.

We Call It Monster is a story of forces beyond our control, and of immense and impossible creatures that make plain how small we really are. It is the story of our fight for survival and our discovery of that which truly matters: community and compassion, love and family, hope and faith.

Here’s the excerpt from ‘We Call It Monster‘:

The old man shuffled out to the balcony, dusted off an outdoor chair and then made himself comfortable. The sky was a shade of blue that painters only dream about; it was a beautiful sight. The old man drank it in, leaning back in his chair. He sipped at his coffee and smoked a cigarette. He was happy to wait as long as was necessary – he had all the time in the world and he wasn’t going anywhere.

The monster finally appeared, a blurry smudge in the distance.

Slowly, but not as slowly as he would have thought, it grew both closer and more distinct. The old man laughed out loud; it looked like nothing more than a child’s drawing of something that might have been a lobster or might have been a spider or might have been both, propped up on flagpole-like legs that supported a wetly-shining carapace, a beaked head, and a tail as long as a bus.

It was enormous and ridiculous in equal measure. The old man was surprised to find that it failed to frighten him.

It drew closer to the city. It stopped suddenly and bit a great chunk out of a stately old tree lining a boulevard. Chewing slowly and methodically, it worked its way through the mass of wood and foliage before throwing its head back and opening its mouth wide. Despite his deafness, the old man felt the monster’s keening in his bones and in the pit of his stomach.

He pulled his hearing aid from his pocket, turned it on then slipped it in place.

The beast’s cry was low and mournful, more a melancholy bellow than a ferocious roar. Thankfully, the klaxon-blare of the evacuation alarms had stopped. The monster cried out again and it shook the old man, both literally and metaphorically. The beast shifted its legs, presumably adjusting its weight, and destroyed an office building in the process.

Almost comically, it looked down at the destruction it had wrought and seemed to shake its head.

It looked back up and cried out a third time, and then started walking again. It seemed to meet the old man’s eye. Without breaking its gaze, the old man took another sip of coffee before lighting another cigarette.

Slowly-slowly-slowly, the monster drew closer. You could almost see a smile on the old man’s face.

Paperback: 210 pages

Publisher: Severed Press (February 13, 2019)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1925840522

ISBN-13: 978-1925840520

The novel was written by Lachlan Walter, and I’m looking forward to reading this because I really enjoyed ‘The Rain Never Came‘, and this looks absolutely epic! The books is available for your Kindle and as a print-edition.

Here’s some info about Lachlan:

Lachlan Walter is a writer, science-fiction critic and nursery-hand (the garden kind, not the baby kind), and is the author of two books: the deeply Australian post-apocalyptic tale The Rain Never Came, and the giant-monster story-cycle We Call It Monster. He also writes science fiction criticism for Aurealis magazine and reviews for the independent ‘weird music’ website Cyclic Defrost, his short fiction can be found floating around online, and he has completed a PhD that critically and creatively explored the relationship between Australian post-apocalyptic fiction and Australian notions of national identity.

He loves all things music-related, the Australian environment, overlooked genres and playing in the garden. He hopes that you’re having a nice day.

You can connect with Lachlan on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget to check out his site and the web-home of Severed Press.

That’s it for now, and until next time…

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2019 in Excerpt, Spotlight

 

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Review: The Rain Never Came by Lachlan Walter (Odyssey Books)

Hey everyone, hope you’re all well. 🙂

Lachlan has been waiting a long while for this review, so let’s get into it, shall we?

This novel is categorized as falling into the Dystopian genre, and I’m happy to report that it features none of the teenage angst which that genre is known for. This is a lyrical, thoughtful, often brutal, honest and surprisingly moving novel which doesn’t comfortably fall into any specific genre, though I do understand the Dystopian classification, since the tale takes place in a world which is slowly dying due to climate change.

In this dying Australia, rain is even more scarce than good people and good intentions – there are those who struggle daily to hold to the kinds of lives they led before the climate calamity settled in to stay, even though there are very necessary changes to their routines and their way of life; but they remain good, conscientious people, who continue to look out for each other. And there are those who either live on the fringes, scavenging, and other who seek to control what they feel they must control – because who else will?

The main character is one of the ‘good guys’, despite what he’s been through and experienced. He spends most of his time at the local, barely-standing pub, and is part of small, hard-working community. Life isn’t easy, but folks get on with it. There’s a stoicism to these people which compliments the world around them – they have become a product of their surroundings and have learned the best ways to survive and enjoy their lives, as and when they can.

Lachlan spends a bit of time ushering us into this more-than-usually arid Australian outback, showing us the place the varied cast of characters call home and revealing their relationships to each other. A vague sense of distant danger swirls around every conversation, and when the MC, Bill, is convinced to help out his friend, Tobe, the story builds to a new pace, and the sense of distant danger gives way to a constant sizzle of dread. Bill and Tobe aren’t entirely sure what to be scared of. But it’s revealed in increments as the landscape, the heat and dust, the ever-present thirst the characters struggle with and the fate they’re moving towards spiral closer together.

This is the kind of novel that doesn’t need awesome battles, flashy tech or detailed science to make it sing – it’s a brooding read, the kind of book that lulls the reader while quietly building strength toward an abrupt -yet fitting- end. ‘The Rain Never Came‘ also showcases Lachlan’s storyteller’s talent, and he’s definitely a writer who should be on your radar.

8 / 10

To order your copies of ‘The Rain Never Came‘, click here to head over to the publisher’s site, and here for Amazon. You can also add the book to your Goodreads shelf, and do check out Lachlan’s website.

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2019 in Reviews

 

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Review: The Heir to the North – Malessar’s Curse Book 1 by Steven Poore (Grimbold Books)

Hey everyone, hope you’re all well. 🙂

I’ve owed Steven this review for a long while now, so let’s get into it, shall we?

“Caenthell will stay buried, and the North will not rise again until I freely offer my sword to a true descendant of the High Kings—or until one takes it from my dying hands!”

With this curse, the Warlock Malessar destroyed Caenthell. The bloodline of the High Kings disappeared and the kingdom faded into dark legend until even stories of the deed lost their power. But now there is an Heir to the North.

Cassia hopes to make her reputation as a storyteller by witnessing a hardened soldier and a heroic princeling defeat Malessar and his foul curse. But neither of her companions are exactly as they appear, and the truth lies deep within stories that have been buried for centuries.

As Cassia learns secrets both soldier and warlock have kept hidden since the fall of Caenthell, she discovers she can no longer merely bear witness. Cassia must become part of the story; she must choose a side and join the battle.

The North will rise again.

Let’s kick off with the novel’s opening – not only does it set the stage for various plot threads, but it leads the reader into the cool world building Steven has done, too. It also plays with our expectations – which then make the climax of the book even more powerful and effective.

We’re then introduced to the main cast – Cassia, forced to support and follow her story-teller father around; a capable and coldly handsome soldier; and a stoic warlock, protecting not only a legacy but some incredible secrets, too. Cassia starts off as a strong character -self-assured and aware of her strengths, weaknesses and the challenges her relationship with her father brings to her life- and becomes stronger, even as her world and her knowledge of it continues to change and broaden. The soldier and the warlock play important roles in helping her to grow, even as they also embody different aspects of Cassia herself – as their relationships with each other grow, they affect each other in different ways, too. Since they’re the core of the book, this works very well in setting up an important emotional aspect of the book’s climax.

There are all sorts of other characters in the book – soldiers, merchants, even scholars, which add nicely to the narrative by leading the reader into different aspects of the world Steven continues to reveal with each chapter. The characters and the world feel alive and vital, and there’s none of the ‘I think I know where this is headed’ – the smallest bits of information are important to the plot, and there’s no filler.

In terms of action and magic, Steven has a way of making the scenes urgent and spectacular, and I’d love to see what he does with a huge thousands-against-thousands battle.

I enjoyed every damned page, folks. Steven has written a book that not only entertains and is an excellent example of its genre, but which is also thoughtful and leads the reader into questions and discussions which need to be asked and had. It has all the hallmarks I’ve come to expect and enjoy in Fantasy and also reaches deeper and further, and that’s why I wouldn’t mind a huge saga in this world and with these characters. Goes without saying that I’m looking forward to the next book and will get stuck in as soon as I can. 🙂

A richly deserved 9 / 10 – highly recommended!

You can order the book from Amazon at the following link, and do check out Steven’s wordpress blog, as well as his publisher’s website.

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2019 in Reviews

 

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Pre-order Alert: A Sea of Broken Glass – The Lady and the Darkness Book 1 – by Sonya M Black

Hey everyone, I hope you’re all well. 🙂

Friday was a bit of a crazy day, so I’ll be posting the review I have planned for this coming Friday. I’m back today with a pre-order alert for you – check out the details below:

Secrets have a price.

After enduring weeks of torture and being convicted of witchery, Ris escapes, only to discover the Darkness and the Lady are hunting her. They need the magic that sings within her.

Creator of all, the imprisoned Lady needs Ris, her last vessel, to find the Heart of Creation. The Darkness seeks to corrupt the vessel and retain his hold on the Lady, and with it, the world.

Ris finds help from a pair of Paladins of Light who aid her in cleansing the evil taint from the lands. As her power grows, so do her questions. How can she restore balance to the world and free the Lady? Should the Lady be trusted or is she as much at fault for the evil in the world as the Darkness? With powerful demons War, Ruin, and Plague at her heels, Ris struggles to stay alive as she tries to unravel the secrets hidden within her before it’s too late.

Secrets that may cost Ris her soul even if she does succeed.

‘A Sea of Broken Glass’ will be releasing on March 19, and I’ll also be reading and reviewing this book in a couple of months or so. 🙂 You can pre-order your copies on Amazon at this link – or click on the beautiful cover. 🙂

Check out Sonya’s website for more info regarding her and her writing, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and add her immanent release to your Goodreads shelf.

Until (hopefully) Wednesday,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2019 in Announcements, Spotlight

 

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Spotlight and Excerpt: May I Want by Tiah Marie Beautement (Stubborn Raven Publishing)

Hey everyone, hope you’re all well. 🙂

I’m back today with a spotlight on Tiah Marie Beautement’s ‘May I Want’, published by Stubborn Raven Publishing and available as you read this. Here’s the beautiful cover:

 

To some the seas hold many mysteries, but not to Laila. Her seaborne gifts have given her much, but when she is visited by an old acquaintance from her previous life she will find out that all gifts, hers included, come at a price.

Here’s a bit about Tiah:

Tiah Marie Beautement is an American-Brit living on the South African Garden Route with her family, two dogs, and a small flock of chickens. She is author of two novels and numerous short stories, including the award winning Memento Mori. She is the managing editor of the The Single Story Foundation’s journal, teaches writing to all ages, and freelances for a variety of publications. In her spare time she has been taking photographs, riding horses, and zipping along on motorcycles.

And here’s the excerpt:

The ghostly light of the waning moon shimmered on the skin of the sea, creating an endless road. To Laila, it beckoned with promise. Seduction. “May I want?” she whispered, borrowing her daughter’s phrase. But from where she sat in her rowboat, she already knew the answer. For women like her, there was no climbing on the back of a dolphin and riding the moonbeams until morning. There was a child to raise and a family tradition to uphold. With a deep breath, Laila locked her oars and dove into the deep.

The water caught her in its embrace, pulling her towards the secret lair. In time, it would do the same to Ziya, and to Ziya’s daughter after that. But for now, in this realm, the work was for Laila’s hands alone.

Laila approached the seabed, abundantly strewn with swaying grass and tinged with silvered moonlight. Nestled amongst the vegetation she saw the long, oblong fan mussels she had been searching for, their razor-fine filaments dancing at her approach. Her magic surged in reply, reacting to the ocean’s power that was absorbed in the mysterious animal. She worked quickly, taking care to do no harm as her scalpel harvested sections of the mollusks’ beards. The tradition was passed on from her mother, who learned from her mother, who was taught by her mother before that. As she worked, the ocean’s magic hummed in satisfaction.

As time wore on, Laila’s lungs begged for relief. The water answered, shooting her body upwards. She arched over the sea, curved like a dark rainbow as she inhaled fresh air, then plunged back into the moon-touched water. Again and again, she dove, worked, surfaced. Each time she emerged, the moonlight blessed her. Each time she submerged, the water returned her to its secret lair.

 

Here’s a link to review of May I Want, over at Apex Magazine.

***

You can order the story from Amazon at the following link, and do check out Stubborn Raven Publishing (also open for submissions). 🙂

Follow Tiah Marie on Twitter, bookmark her on WordPress and BooksLive, and check out her Instagram accounts: one for writing, one for photography.

That’s it for today – see you back here on Friday!

Until then,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2019 in Excerpt, Spotlight

 

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