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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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New and Impending Releases in SFF, Horror, Urban Fantasy and More: 25 Feb ’19

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

I’ve got news of some new books worth your while. This ‘feature’ will probably happen here every Monday, so if you’ve got new releases you’d like to share the news of, or books that’ll be published in the next two months, get in touch. 🙂

Here are today’s notable new releases and books up for pre-order:

Jason Guinn‘s The Wretched (The Lucifer Chronicles)

Lucifer has been expelled to a place worse than Hell…Tucson, Arizona.

Having lost everything to the usurper Beelzebub, Lucifer finds himself trapped on earth, the one place he can die. Without options and shit out of luck, he does the unthinkable and realigns with his old nemesis, God, for a shot at vengeance against Beelzebub.

But there is a price.

Earth has been overrun by evil forces and God needs Lucifer to clean house. Forced to work with a band of redemption seeking degenerates, Lucifer must learn to put aside his hatred for mankind and learn to trust his teammates or they will not survive. Assisting Lucifer in his quest to liberate the world is the hot-tempered immortal Lilith, stoner Adam, a resurrected hit-man, and a witch with a pesky undead feline familiar called Dead Meat.

And they only have three days.

With the clock ticking, Lucifer must get his unwanted team up to snuff for their first mission while being hunted by his ex-wife, Agrat. Their mission is to assassinate an earthbound Demon Lord named Hornblas, who parades around as the head of the largest music conglomerate in the world.

And it gets worse.

Their contracts with God prohibit them from killing innocents or falling back into their sinful ways. Failure results in immediate banishment to Hell and certain death for Lucifer.

Filled with angels and demons, trips to Hell, and other supernatural beasties, The Wretched follows Lucifer through an ever-increasing vortex of trouble across the Copper State with a final climactic realization leading to the unraveling of Lucifer himself.

You can order your copies at the following links: Kindle version, Print version.

Next up: Philip Palmer‘s Morpho – a NewCon Press Novella:

When the corpse on the mortuary slab sits up and speaks to Hayley, asking for her help, she thinks she’s losing her mind. If only it were that simple… 

In Morpho, distinguished novelist, screenwriter, and radio dramatist Philip Palmer delivers a tense and fast-paced tale of a secret society through which the privileged govern from the shadows, of immortality bought at a horrific price, and of a rebellion that threatens to undermine the social order of our entire world.

One of four independent novellas by four different authors that form NewCon Novella Set 5: The Alien Among Us

You can order your copies at the following link: Kindle Edition, Print Edition

And finally, John A PretoriusLiving in a Time of Dragons:

Just to make sure you know what the book is about:

“…as with everything in my life all this began with dreams…”

American ex-pat, father and widower, Roger Rommel, did not believe in dragons. Unfortunately they did not return the sentiment.

After returning from a self-imposed exile to his adopted country of South Africa, Roger is confronted by these legendary fire-breathing reptiles who risked exposing their hidden world simply to hunt him. Gifted with the ability to create and enter dreams, as well as to see the future, he tries to survive and protect his son from enemies he does not understand.

But the past isn’t dead, and he finds himself linked to a conflict thousands of years old. The world he knew is now stranger, more fantastic and terrifying than he truly knew, especially when everyone is out to get you.

The book is already available – check out the covers below for the Kindle and Print versions:

 

Print version – click cover to purchase on Amazon

Kindle version – click cover to purchase on Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, Helen Brain‘s The Fiery Spiral was released last week, following on from the first book, The Thousand Steps, and the second book, The Rising Tide (links for TakeAlot).

Ebba is in Celestia, the land of the gods, and the only way to return to earth is to journey across a barren, lifeless landscape until she reaches the Fiery Spiral. But the road is fraught with difficulties and danger. She must learn the meaning of love and courage before she can fulfill her true destiny. It seems like Lucas has to share her journey. But to save everyone she loves, she might have to give up her life… and her heart.

You can purchase the third book on TakeAlot, too, at the following link.

Mary Helen Norris got in touch regarding pre-orders for a charity anthology, Defending Earth, one of many anthologies supporting the Cancer Research Institute. Here’s some info on the anthology:

And yes, it’s a Dr. Who themed anthology. 🙂

“I saw amazing things out there in Space—but there is strangeness out there to be found wherever you turn. Life on Earth can be an adventure too…you just need to know where to look!”

Sarah Jane Smith is perhaps one of Earth’s greatest defenders. Some grew up watching her adventures alongside two different Doctors, others met her in the revived series, and still others fell in love with her when she returned with her own spin-off. Throughout it all, Sarah Jane Smith has stood for justice, for truth, and for the defense of the innocent. From her childhood, to her journeys through space and time, to the wilderness years, to her adventures with her children and beyond, all periods of her life are featured in this collection!

What set a six-year-old Sarah Jane on the path she’d follow all her life? In a feature-length adventure, can Sarah Jane and the Doctor save London from disappearing in a morass of every possible London? In an independent investigation, can Sarah Jane discover who is murdering 60s pop stars—and when an 80s musical is put on about her life, can Sarah Jane get to the bottom of who’s putting the show on? All this and killer moths, the music of universal spheres, and stories especially exploring each of the Bannerman Road kids.

Proceeds from Defending Earth will go to the Cancer Research Institute. They are dedicated to harnessing our immune system’s power to control and potentially cure all types of cancer; they fund the most innovative clinical and laboratory research across the world, support the next generation of the field’s leaders, and serve as the trusted source of information on immunotherapy for cancer patients and their caregivers. Their scientific director, Dr. James P. Allison, won the 2018 Noble Prize in Physiology or Medicine, showing the advancements the CRI has achieved.

Defending Earth features stories by Kara Dennsion, Jon Black, Niki Haringsma, James Macaronas, James Bojaciuk, Anna Maloney, Joshua Wanisko & Lillian Waniso, Tina Marie DeLucia, Scarlett Ward, William J. Martin, M.H. Norris, Harry King, Sophie Iles, and Anne-Laure Tuduri.

Pre-order your print copies here, which will be releasing on 2 April. The ebook edition is already available. 🙂

Also up for pre-order, Jesse Teller‘s Legend of the Exiles:

The isolated barbarians of Neather have deep ancestry and strict traditions. Four resilient women defy tribal customs as they fight to overcome their own tragedies. Abuse. Addiction. Assault. Grief. What struggles can they endure to defend their hopes and their hearts?
 
Helena seeks a love as bold as she, yet finds the men of her village lacking. Jocelyn fears her strange visions and sacrifices a life with the man she loves for the one her destiny demands. Torn apart by abuse and grief, Ellen is a brilliant woman who must focus her intellect on finding reasons to persevere. Rachel, a brash girl of noble heritage, dares all men to challenge her and longs for one who will.
 
In this set of four interwoven novellas, award-winning author Jesse Teller challenges assumptions and showcases the strength of feminine resolve.
The book will release on 15 April, and you can pre-order at Amazon. Also, check out Jesse on Goodreads, Facebook and Instagram.

Until next time (Wednesday, probably, with a new review),

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2019 in Announcements, New Arrivals, Spotlight

 

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Review: Vengeance – A Darkhurst Novel by Gail Z Martin

Hey everyone, I hope your Friday is treating you well!

I’ve owed Gail this review for a while, as she knows, so… Finally. 🙂

Vengeance‘ is the second novel following the adventures of the Valmonde brothers, their allies and enemies, and is the sequel to ‘Scourge‘ (reviewed here). Here’s the blurb for ‘Vengeance‘:

Brothers. Outlaws. Saviours.

Rigan and Corran Valmonde are not heroes. They are undertakers, lawbreakers, and monster hunters. Without them, the town of Ravenwood is finished.

But the more successful Rigan and Corran become at destroying the creatures, the more a greater evil is revealed – one larger and more monstrous than they ever could imagine…

In the first novel, Gail introduced the reader to a city plagued by monster-attacks, ruled by bickering guilds and aloof princes, in which simply surviving is a fine balancing act. This novel takes us out of Ravenwood and further reveals the greater world, other cities, and new characters, so the novel and the story feels more expansive – but not at the expensive of that which drives the plot: the characters. Gail expands the world-building considerably, taking us into the countryside and showing us how those living outside of the cities live and survive while dealing with threats both human and inhuman, and into a strange, creepy realm which is decidedly not human-friendly. This world’s magic, how that magic works, the cost of using it and the effects it has are also expanded with more details and information, as are the mythologies, legends and cultures of the world and its people. The backdrop all of this creates makes the ‘stage’ the characters play their parts on feel real and vibrant, and again, not at the cost of the characters.

Gail delves deeper into everyone, showing more sides to their personalities, into what drives them, and into what they are constantly fighting, their fears and worries and those small things that shake their belief in not only their self-appointed mission but themselves, too. Even the ‘bad guys’ are scared and increasingly reckless – helped in no small part by events they themselves set in motion. What this all does for the book is that there’s a great balance of action, world-building, intrigue, introspection, and plenty of character growth.

And Gail also succeeds in ramping up the problems the protagonists face, and the lengths to which the antagonists will go to achieve their goals – this keeps the pace ticking faster and faster, until the memorable climax shifts the conflicts into a new, dangerous and epic direction. It’s obvious that the town-focus of book one will become a wider-world focus in book three, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the manure hits the fan. 🙂

Giving this a strong 9/10 – if inventive and pacey Fantasy with stand-out characters and high-stakes is your thing, Vengeance (and Scourge) will be, too. 🙂

If all goes well, I’ll be posting excerpts from the book in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, head on over to Gail’s site for more info about Vengeance and her continuously growing body of work, and don’t forget to the add the book to your Goodreads shelf. 🙂

You can order the book online at the following venues: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million and Chapters-Indigo.

Until next time, Monday, probably,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2019 in Reviews

 

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Review: Silent Running – Book 3 of The Hope Island Chronicles by PJ Strebor

I’ve always enjoyed PJ Strebor’s Military SF, and have come to regard Nathan Telford as one of my favourite characters – I’m glad to report that Silent Running did absolutely nothing to detract from any of that, and took the Hope Island Chronicles to new heights.

In this third book in the series, Nathan is older, wiser, and ready to make all new kinds of mistakes. Which is important – characters need to be fallible, and PJ handles his characters with an expert touch, allowing not only past events and decisions to impact his characters in new and unforseen ways, but by also allowing his characters to learn and react as they push forward, while always keeping how they would have reacted in mind. Kind of like life, PJ’s characters are messy and not always balanced, get emotional, lose perspective… It’s been an education to read how PJ has handled Nathan’s character-growth, specifically, and I have to take my hat off to him.

Now, if you’ve read the first two books in the series (and the fourth, which I haven’t yet), you’ll know Nathan’s backstory – what happened to him and his family when he was very young, the adversities he had to deal with as he grew up, and the challenges he had to surmount when he entered ‘society’ and began to forge a career and path for himself. If you haven’t, here’s a quick run-down:

Nathan’s family’s ship was attacked, basically hijacked, and almost everyone was killed or died. The attackers belonged to an empire-building, fanatical and fascist group, and as such, Nathan grew to really, really dislike them and everything they represent. Nathan had to survive on his own for years, and developed an interesting ability as a kind of survival mechanism – which stood him in good stead once he entered the navy and began forging the beginning of his legend – unknowingly, of course.

In this third novel, Nathan and his crew are targeted by a singularly determined and vicious enemy – our hero is forced to go deep behind enemy lines, facing not only threats and danger from those hunting him, but also from those trying to prove themselves on his own side. PJ handles a novel-full of tension well, keeping the pace up, sprinkling humour and tragedy here and there to spice things up, and still manages to share info regarding the universe he’s built for Nathan to play in and the mechanics of this universe’s technology without bogging down the narrative with info-dumps or spells of dry, rote reading.

PJ has become one of those authors whose work I’ll immediately shift to the top of the pile, because his track record is great and he knows how to spin an action-packed, pacey, character-driven yarn. Highly recommended!

I’m giving this a well-deserved 9/10 – be sure to start reading Nathan’s adventures if you haven’t yet (Amazon page here) and don’t forget to add PJ’s books to your must-be-read Goodreads shelf.

Until Friday,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2019 in Reviews

 

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