The Man in the Box by Andrew Toy is reminiscent of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe only darker. The protagonist, Robbie Lake, finds himself dealing with family problems combined with getting fired from his job as an editor for Cipher Mill Publishing House, when he discovers a magical box after breaking into his old workplace. The box transports him to another world, one he had visited before when he was a child. And, of course, an adventure ensues, but one that threatens to ruin his life in the real world as the box proves to be a two-way portal. Unfortunately, the residents of the magical world don’t want him to leave, and are willing to do anything to make him stay.
For reasons that I won’t go into, so as to avoid spoilers, I had trouble liking Robbie. He makes the right choices in the end, but only after he’s faced with losing everything. The whole entire time, I couldn’t help but think, “Well, you got yourself into this mess, dummy.” His almost childish irresponsibility made it difficult to sympathize with him.
Once in a while I ran into some clunky sentence structures, but fortunately those were rare occasions. While the casual reader probably won’t notice half of them, people like me, editor-brained, will flinch once or twice.
On the plus side, Toy shows a remarkable skill with dialogue and character interaction, and maintains the story’s narrative flow, providing all the information the reader needs without having to sacrifice pacing.
In the end, it’s a good book to have around when you’ve already read your first picks and need to pass some time. But I expect, over time, Andrew Toy will become a recognizable name among the small press community.
Best to read while listening to: nothing specific comes to mind; maybe something Narnia-ish but darker. Or “Man in the Box” by Alice In Chains?
The Damn Disclaimer is over to the right –>
For Immediate Release March 15, 2013
Announcing Call for Submissions on New Faerie-themed Anthology from Editor Scott Sandridge
Seventh Star Press announces a call for entries on A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court/Tales of the Unseelie Court. Edited by Scott Sandridge, the anthology is planned for a special flipbook format which will feature tales fitting the Seelie Court on one half, and tales fitting the Unseelie Court on the other.
Bring out the Fey! Stories about the Sidhe? Sprites? Pixies? Boggans and Goblins? How about Gnomes?
Looking for fictional stories involving the Fey Folk, both Seelie and Unseelie. From the campy to the deep and esoterical, from traditional faeries to the not-so-traditional (changeling kangaroos, anyone?), Western to Eastern, and perhaps even Martian!
Stories should be between 2,000 and 10,000 words, and the final flipbook will feature approximately 11 stories per side.
Residing in Ohio, editor and author Scott M. Sandridge’s first short story, “Treecutter,” was published in The Sword Review in July 2005. Since then, he’s gone on to publish over 26 more short stories, and over 60 reviews. He has also been a columnist for the Double-Edged Publishing webzines, a Submissions Editor for Ray Gun Revival, and the Managing Editor of Fear and Trembling. Scott is also an active blogger whose site can be found at: http://smsand.wordpress.com
A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court/Tales of the Unseelie Court will be released in trade paperback and eBook formats in late 2013. The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2013, and full information on the anthology and submission guidelines can be found at http://www.seventhstarpress.com/submissions/
Contact: C.C. James Public Relations, Seventh Star Press ccjames (at) seventhstarpress.com
Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky
Cool cover, bro!
Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy Cover Revealed
Developed by Bram Stoker Award-winning editor Michael Knost, the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy is a treasure trove for writers of all levels looking to develop their craft in the speculative fiction genres. Featuring contributions from several of the best speculative fiction authors in the world such as Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Harry Turtledove, James Gunn, Alan Dean Foster, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joe Haldeman, Kevin J. Anderson, Tim Powers, Mike Resnick, and many, many more, the book features a wealth of essays and interviews focusing on the writing craft as it pertains to the genres of fantasy and science fiction.
Slated for a late February release in eBook and a trade paperback release following soon after, the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy will be an important contribution to the speculative fiction literary community. Whether just beginning a writing journey or extensively published, writers of all degrees of experience are certain to find this book to be an invaluable reference source.
For further information on the Seventh Star Press and its titles such as the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy, please visit http://www.seventhstarpress.com
Cercia’s new leader, Quentin, sends Asahel and Felix to Anjdur as ambassadors to broker a peace treaty, but also as secret agents. While trying to avoid one war, they find themselves embroiled in another while having to prevent the assassination of Anjdur’s Empress.
Being the second part of a trilogy, I expected The Jealousy Glass to feel like the second act of a three part play, but instead it felt like the first act only with a little back story. Nothing wrong with that, but trilogies normally have a bit more glue holding them together, and the second book is supposed to contain the “good stuff” (ala The Empire Strikes Back).
But as far as character depth and world building goes, Perkins knows her stuff. Even the dialogue felt real for that world and Perkins paints a vivid imagery of the setting without bogging the reader down in details. The plot smoothly transitions from one point to the next; however, there were some points where it felt like the two main characters, Asahel and Felix, were just along for the ride. For example, a certain plot-related item gets broken…and Asahel has no idea why he broke it.
As far as being the mid-point of a larger story, it felt lacking, yet it’s still adequate as a stand-alone story so long as you don’t mind the plot feeling a bit forced in a certain pivotal scene. All in all, it’s a good read to have around when you don’t have anything else to read.
Best to read while listening to: the soundtrack to The Tudors? Do they have a soundtrack out for that?
And now for…
Ya’know wat? Screw putting that damn dislaimer into every single review post! I’m rebelling, dammit!
At least that was what I understood of Vines—An Urban Legend. Since the story, itself, is written in a similar format to the ancient Greek Tragedies, it was a bit difficult for my non-Classically trained mind to stay focused. While such a format can work great in shorter works, when it reaches novella or even novel length, it becomes a major chore to read. And you never want a story to feel like something you were forced to read in high school (unless it was from Hawthorne or Poe, ‘cause they rawked).
Fortunately, not all of it reads that way. Some chapters are a more modern format, as in early twentieth century—and there’s nothing I hate more than being reminded of The Great Gatsby. But don’t worry, Williams’s tale is nowhere near as bad as that worthless literary drivel. Williams, at least, knows that a good story requires a protagonist who acts (no pun intended).
So while it wasn’t my cup of tea, and would likely throw off the casual reader, those who have a love for the Classical and experimental will find this story to be an enjoyable twist. His prose is solid, and having attempted (and failed at) such experiments myself, I can certainly appreciate his attempt and the difficulties in crafting a tale in such a way.
But I will admit those mischievous Muses turned me on.
But, then again, mischievous Muses always turn me on.
Best to read while listening to: anything Classical, perhaps with a dash of Contemporary.
And now for that damned annoying disclaimer (Down with the FTC!!):
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review fromFirst Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Blackwyrm is having an open house on Amazon today, with several authors including the three touring ones with free books.
Today through Wednesday (Dec 3-5), all the following are free on Kindle:
Georgia L Jones: http://www.amazon.com/Remnants-Life-Legends-Darkness-ebook/dp/B007K9WIXQ
Michael Williams: http://www.amazon.com/Vine-An-Urban-Legend-ebook/dp/B008G5WHHA
Christopher Kokoski: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Halo-ebook/dp/B008G5WF2W
Full List (all free on Kindle through Wednesday from Blackwyrm Publishing):
* Burning the Middle Ground (religious thriller): http://www.amazon.com/Burning-the-Middle-Ground-ebook/dp/B00AFHHT7K
* The Man in the Box (fantasy): http://www.amazon.com/The-Man-Box-ebook/dp/B00AFHHZN8
* Seasons of Death (mystery): http://www.amazon.com/Seasons-Death-Mountain-Murders-ebook/dp/B008TC1WAS
* Deadly Pose (mystery): http://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Pose-ebook/dp/B00A81XKBC
* Vine, An Urban Legend (mythic): http://www.amazon.com/Vine-An-Urban-Legend-ebook/dp/B008G5WHHA
* The Thieves of Genesis (fantasy): http://www.amazon.com/The-Thieves-of-Genesis-ebook/dp/B00A81XIKU
* Legends of Darkness (fantasy) http://www.amazon.com/Remnants-Life-Legends-Darkness-ebook/dp/B007K9WIXQ
* Dark Halo (horror): http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Halo-ebook/dp/B008G5WF2W
* Silent Voices (romance): http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Voices-ebook/dp/B007WNZ814
* Iron Fist Velvet Glove (thriller): http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Fist-Velvet-Glove-ebook/dp/B007WNZ7JM
* The Official 2012 Survivalist Handbook (humor): http://www.amazon.com/Official-2012-Survivalist-Handbook-ebook/dp/B00A80PUAC
* The Wisdom of Weng Shu (humor): http://www.amazon.com/The-Wisdom-Weng-Shu-ebook/dp/B00A80ZYBW
Samantha dies in a car crash only to find herself in a new body, as a vampire, but not your typical blood-sucking monster, but as Samoda, a spiritform warrior serving Nuem. While discovering the wonders of her new life, she struggles with the memories of her former life and the loved ones she left behind, and all while having to put a stop to an evil monster bent on world domination—and reconciling her newfound passions for her bonded hotty vamp soulmate, Drake.
While Legends of Darkness, the first novel in the Remnants of Life series, would likely be classified as a paranormal romance (even though it’s official genre is Urban Fantasy, the lines tend to blur with those two subgenres), there’s plenty of action, drama, and intrigue as well. As far as the romance elements go, I’ll admit that I’m not an avid romance reader. However, I do know that romantic tension is the name of the game for that genre; therefore, I’ll consider the fact that I spent almost half the book wanting to shout “OMG! Will you two just freakin’ do it already!” to mean that the romance elements between Samoda and Drake are a rip-roaring success. There were enough complications and twists to keep things interesting but not so much as to leave me confused.
The first-person POV, however, felt jarring. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was because the protagonist, Samoda, did way too much thinking (wow, did I just say that?). Then there was one chapter where everything was suddenly inside the head of one of the antagonists. That threw me off temporarily, but then I got over it. (“OMG! When the hell are they gonna’ do it!” *turnpageturnpageturnpage*)
I’ve never been a big fan of the Twilight-ish “vamps are now good” craze, but I do tolerate them much more than the “Christian! TM!” alternatives (which amounted to little more than promoting Nephilim breeding—you’d think folks never read the Old Testament anymore). And this one was a little less Twilight-ish than most (and also involving a character who is of age—oh wait, Twilight was set in the Midwest, so nevermind). And besides, Vlad Tepes features in the plot, so any poking at my usual pet peeves is easily forgiven.
And it had dragons. Dragons are always a plus.
And combat. And blood. And gore. And (finally!) sex.
Everything a growing boy needs.
And still growing…
OMG! I think I have a vampire fetish….
Best to read while listening to: a little Classic Rock, a dash of epic fantasy soundtracks (especially for the big battles), and…nah, screw the Twilight soundtrack.
And now to end this review with the following disclosure, thanks to those idiots at the FTC, which I shall officially dub as the I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVE TO WRITE THIS BS IN MY BLOG POSTS segment:
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
In the usual weird-things-always-happen-on-my-way-to-a-convention fashion I spent the bus ride from Columbus to Cincinnati on a bus that smelled like an outhouse due to maintenance not cleaning the crapper tank, possibly because a massive wind came out of nowhere followed by a torrential downpour as soon as my bus arrived to the station. My Bus Ride from Hell continued through a tornado zone that left the bus delayed due to a traffic jam. But at least I got to see a semi truck laying several feet from the road with its front cabin crumpled like a wadded up piece of paper—an interesting image and one likely to end up in a story some day.
The Cinci to Louis bus ended up three hours late, this on top of a two hour lay-over. Not too bad since I got to spend the time with a couple Iraq vets. We avoided boredom by performing a Three Stooges routine followed up by a game of bloody knuckles. They also described to me an interesting new game they learned in Iraq: I believe it involved an auto grenade launcher and a crate of bean bags….
And all these years I thought Bottle Rocket War could get painful. Silly me.
By the time I arrived at the Galt House (I’ll let other folk blog about the problems with that hotel) it was around 3 am Saturday morning. Since I didn’t have the money for a room, I did what I normally do in that situation; I did the catnaps-in-bathroom-stall-while-avoiding-the-security-guards shuffle.
Got my badge, etc., around 9 or so. At which point I was locked, cocked, and ready to rock.
There were quite a few crickets on the literary panels I was on, and it seems that was pretty much standard for the whole entire literary program track. The plus side was that 10,000 people came to see Bruce Campbell. The downside was that apparently 9,990 of them came only to see Bruce Campbell.
Ah well. Shit happens.
I still managed to sell and sign a couple anthos there, so I’m not complaining. Especially since I can say that H. David Blalock got my autograph.
The major plus was all the cool writers I got to meet and hang out with, like Selah Janel and D.A. Adams, the Zimmster, Shrews, Charlie Kenmore, Gary Wedlund, Maurice Broaddus, Michael West, Alexx Miller, Marian Allen, TammyJo Eckhart, and many many more (If I forgot your name, drop me a comment and I’ll add it—yes, I’m still that hung over). I also got to party with Paul West and Taylor Kent, and Taylor let me crash in his room and even fed me, and bought my drinks.
You rock, Snarky!
There wasn’t a con suite with free food like at the other conventions I attend, so I didn’t exactly come prepared. If it weren’t for Snarky and Zimmster I probably would’ve starved to death.
You rock, Zimmster!
And a whole lot of interesting discussions went on, ranging from spec-fic stuff to political stuff and other intellectual stuff and…stuff….
Yeah, it’s been two days since I got home and I still feel hung over.
Overall, I had a blast, despite the hotel preventing simple basic things that could’ve made the convention more successful marketing-wise. Oh, and the hotel upping the parking price on everyone at the last minute. :/
Good thing I didn’t come by car.
It’s April 21st, and as part of the Overkill Blog Tour, SpecMusicMuse presents you with a Double Whammy. And no, I’m not talking about a porno, either, so get your brain matter out of the gutter. What I am talking about is both a review AND an interview in one day. Hell, one post even.
First off, the review:
SpecMusicMuse Review: Overkill by Steven L. Shrewsbury
Another tale of Goria La Gaul, set in the pre-Flood period, in the land of Transalpina, Overkill is just as gritty and blood-soaked as Thrall. Gorias gets summoned by Queen Garnet to find and rescue her lost granddaughter, Nykia, who Gorias once saved when she had been a child. Aided by Alena, one of the Queen’s elite guard, and a palace servant named Orsen, the grizzled old merc must do what he does best: namely kick ass and take names.
This story takes place on land and sea and contains all the action you’d expect in an epic fantasy and a plot twist that just wouldn’t be a La Gaul story if it wasn’t in there. While he avoids making the characters two-dimensional, don’t expect enormous character depth. There’s just enough for a story of this genre without sacrificing the story’s pace. And for such a story that’s all you really need.
The action scenes are vivid. The world and culture feels real once you become immersed. And the story never bores. If you enjoy Sword & Sorcery or Epic Fantasy with a dark edge, then you will love Overkill.
Best read while listening to: the soundtrack to any Conan or Beastmaster movie. Oh, and Viking Metal, because Viking Metal rocks.
And now for:
Gorias le Gaul. How in the world did you come up with a character like him?
SS: He sort of volunteered into my mind. He’s a mash up of Johnny Cash, John Wayne and Wagner’s Kane a little (some say a dash of me as well). In GODFORSAKEN my research told me the sacred spear of the god Lugh was named Gorias. I liked the name. That name and a song by a bluegrass legend from antiquity sealed the deal. I didn’t want to write about a young buck with all his learning to do. Gorias is getting on in life, at 700, getting tired, too, but still full of piss & vinegar. When he stepped forward, well, the stories fell in line.
The setting for your le Gaul stories is the antediluvian period. Obviously that period is mentioned in the Bible, but did you also look into other cultural stories about that period, like the Sumerian tales?
SS: Of course. I know Gilgamesh from Bilgames (only a well read geek will know what I’m talking about). Sure. I read of all cultures and their pre-flood tales, even the American Indians. I think there is a huge epoch we forgot, so thus, anything goes. It sounds like the rules of the material world were a tad bent then ala angels & demons running around. I don’t think all of the things in these books is true (Nephilums, demons cross breeding with saurian beasts to create dragons) mind you, but they are fun to explore. As time goes on, we learn about more forgotten cities from that era, or at least, beyond recorded history. Kenniwick Man, who was in North America 13,000 years ago (found in Washington State) was Caucasian and had a spear head healed into his pelvis (or hip my mind is going). That’s fascinating stuff.
With two books now will we be seeing any more of that old asskicker?
SS: Yes. I have several more in mind and a slew of short stories or novellas I can tie in about his life and that era. There was so much I hinted at in THRALL and blurted in OVERKILL that many will want books written of Gorias’ recollections.
What do you find the most fascinating about Epic Fantasy? And which authors do you find most inspiring?
SS: Anything can happen, pretty much, and it’s a time different than ours. Yeah, some of the same jerks/characters are guilty of the same passions or hatreds, but one can paint with a broader brush. Howard, Wagner, Moorcock, Lieber, Manly Wade Wellman, and quite a number of horror writers, too. I think some writers are more concerned with telling a long series of books than a real story. The Gorias cycle is not one where ya gotta read them all in order to get ‘em. Each is a tale unto itself. I have never conceived a novel thinking, “Ya know what’d be the ice cream on the titties? How ‘bout I write seven of these f*&kers that will only make sense by the last few when I am senile and forgot the original point.” In the past couple years I have written a massive epic fantasy that isn’t submitted yet. I wrote it as a book to do before I die, a story I’ve always wanted to tell. It’s not about Gorias. I talked with a few folks on it and the FIRST thing they said was, “Cool idea, but is this the first of a series?” No. It isn’t.
And speaking of inspiration is there any kind of music that you find helpful to your writing?
SS: A wide variety inspires me for alotta reasons. Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Megadeth, old blues, an offhand line in a Shooter Jennings song can make a novel. Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley helped create Gorias La Gaul. I don’t care for rap or pop stuff or modern country music. I like the kinda country that makes one want to drink whiskey and kill yourself. I’ve reached the age where new music doesn’t sound so good to me anymore. There are a few here and there, but, meh.
What other fantastic stuff does Shrews have cooked up in his demented mind?
SS: I have two forthcoming horror novels, HELL BILLY set in reconstruction era Memphis, due out from Bad Moon Books pretty soon here. That one is about a rebel that keeps offing members of the occupying troops family, gets caught and executed then returns the next day. Over and over. LAST MAN SCREAMING is a Lovecraftian western, with my one armed confederate guy Joel Stuart searching for the Black Bible, NAMELESS CULTS in Juarez for Von Juntz nephew. Plus, I’ve written a novel featuring my Widowmaker character, Absalom Abbas, the traveling executioner. I have that big assed epic to get out, plus more fun & games.
Steven L. Shrewsbury is a fantasy and horror author who has well over 300 tales published online or in print. He is the creator of creator of Dack Shannon and the Majestic Universe, as well as the novels Tormentor (Lachesis Publishing), Hawg (Graveside Tales) and Stronger Than Death (Snuff Books).
He has appeared in many anthologies, most recently Harlan County Horrors from Apex Publications. Other anthologies include Deathgrip: Legacy of Terror from Hellbound books; Blackest Death-Vol I from BDB; the high fantasy epic Grimoire De Solace from iUniverse, the hardback Cemetery Poets, Scary, Atrocitas Aqua from DDP.
For more information on Steven L. Shrewsbury, please visit his website at www.stevenshrewsbury.com
For Immediate Release
April 5, 2012
25 Date Overkill Blog Tour and Cover Art Unveiled for Steven Shrewsbury’s Latest Gorias La Gaul Adventure!
Seventh Star Press is proud to unveil the cover art and illustrations created by award-winning artist Matthew Perry for Steven Shrewsbury’s newest Gorias La Gaul novel, Overkill, as well as announce the dates and sites for the Overkill Blog Tour. A pre-order window for a limited edition hardcover is also being opened in advance of the book’s official release.
(Illustrations by Matthew Perry from the first edition of Overkill)
The Overkill Tour is being hosted by Babs Book Bistro, and will feature 25 blog sites over 25 days, beginning April 20th and running through May 14th . The tour will feature a number of activities, from interviews, to reveiws, guest blog posts, and contests/giveaways.
Overkill is the second novel featuring the iconic sword and scorcery figure Gorias La Gaul, following the debut of the character in the novel Thrall, released in late 2010 from Seventh Star Press. Gorias La Gaul is also featured in two short stories, Author and Finisher of Our Flesh, and Insurmountable, both available in eBook format in the Blood and Steel: Legends of La Gaul collection in the Seventh Star Singles catalog.
The story told in Overkill takes place in an ancient time, before a great flood wiped clean the earth, destroying everything upon it. Before the deluge, in a time now forgotten, the world was a place of warriors and witches, conflicts between kingdoms, and, until their extermination, dragons. In this world, men may live centuries, fallen angels have begotten terrifying spawn, and sometimes, the best hope can be found in a brothel.
In the land of Transalpina, a new religion spreads, and important men are dying mysteriously, slain by what can only be the fire of dragon breath. Summoned by the Queen Garnet, the legendary warrior Gorias La Gaul
returns to the place where he once saved the queen’s young granddaughter from treachery and enslavement. The Princess Nykia is gone, and soon others may try to claim the throne. The queen has little choice but to turn to the only man who ever told her no.
With the aid of one of the queen’s elite guard, the battle maiden Alena, and the young palace servant Orsen, the old mercenary will face pirates and traitors, monsters and foul magic in the quest to find the missing heir and learn the truth behind the disconcerting murders.
Overkill will be released in softcover and Kindle versions during the third week of April. The novel is now available for pre-order in a beautiful hardcover edition that is strictly limited to 75 copies.
The limited hardcover edition will be signed and numbered by Steven Shrewsbury and includes a bonus illustration from Matthew Perry not included in other editions. It will be accompanied by an assortment of collectibles, including a set of glossy art cards, bookmarks, and magnets. The limited edition hardcovers will also be bundled with the eBook version (provided as a direct ePub file for users with Nooks, iPads, or Sony eReaders, and gifted as a Kindle file for Kindle users). Those interested in securing one of the 75 limited hardcovers can place a pre-order at: http://seventhstarpress.com/documents/pre_orders.html
The Overkill Blog Tour Dates and Participants Are As Follows:
April 20 Watch Play Read
April 21 SpecMusicMuse
April 22 Splash of Our Worlds
April 23 Edi’s Book Lighthouse
April 24 Sci-Fi Guys Book Review
April 25 Jess Resides Here
April 26 Book Den
April 27 That Book Place Blog
April 28 Urban Fantasy Reviews
April 29 Evie Bookish
April 30 Eva’s Sanctuary
May 2 Darlene’s Book Nook
May 3 Ginger Nuts of Horror
May 4 Ali’s Bookshelf
May 5 The Magick Pen
May 7 The Cabin Goddess
May 8 Bee’s Knees Reviews
May 9 I Smell Sheep
May 10 Once Upon A Time
May 11 Ritesh Kala’s Book Review
May 12 Goatfairy Review Blog
May 13 Fantasy Book Review
May 14 Babs Book Bistro
Contact: C.C. James
Public Relations, Seventh Star Press
Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky