Monday, February 28, 2011

Final day in February means favorite books for this month!

Top picks for February are:

1.The Emperor's Edge (a high fantasy mystery in an era of steam) by Lindsay Buroker
   Her Smashwords profile
2.Demon Gates (Nexus Wars Saga) by Robert Day
  His Smashwords profile
3. We actually have a tie for third place.
   a.WolfSong (Tales from the Crescent) by J H Sked
     Her Smashwords profile
   b.Hemlock and the Wizard Tower by B Throwsnaill
     His Smashwords profile

All of these books were fantastic reads and I recommend picking up any or all of them if you enjoy fantasy.  I do have to say that none of the books I read this month were bad, and to be honest I really need to keep track of what month I have read books in since there are a few I am not entirely sure.

Items under debate:
Encrypted (a science fantasy romance) by Lindsay Buroker
I really don't do romance, but everything Lindsay has written has been so enjoyable that I really am debating picking this one up.

Wish list:  This is my way of letting the authors know I am eagerly awaiting the next book in their series

Jaben's Rift Book 2
Tales from the Crescent Book 2
Hemlock and the Wizard Tower 2
The series premier of the series previewed in Picture Perfect
Another book involving the characters from The Emperor's Edge
The follow up to The Kinshield Legacy (an epic/heroic fantasy adventure) (The Kinshield Saga)

There are more, but I don't have my list in front of me.

Books I hope to get to in March: (in no specific order)

The Treasures of Carmelidrium
Bakkian Chronicles, Book I - The Prophecy
Rise of the Deva'shi (A Chronicle of Parthalan)
Show No Mercy: A Michael Dodge Thriller
Realm Hunter: Pursuit of the Silver Dirk
The White Tree
Night and Chaos (The Deva Chronicles #1)
Winter Wolves

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review for Demon Gates

Demon Gates (Nexus Wars Saga)
5 stars!

Demon Gates (Nexus Wars Saga) primarily follows young Valderion the son of a simple farmer and horse breeder. Vald lives a simple life helping on his family farm and occasionally going into town to meet up with his friends. When tragedy strikes his small town he is given a token from his long dead mother and has to make his own way in the world. In the beginning he learns that this token is much more than it appears and can help him achieve a destiny that he would never have been able to conceive. At the same time that all this is happening the seals that shut portals to a demonic realm begin to weaken and break. Demons are beginning to invade the world and plan on wiping it out as vengeance for being sealed away thousands of years ago.

I will say that the book really did not have me struggling to put it down until about a third of the way through. Up until then it was a good story and I was enjoying it, but at some point it became extremely difficult for me to stop reading to get anything done. The introduction of some new characters along the way really help to advance the story and help Vald achieve more of his potential. My personal favorite had to be Llewellyn an elven bard of some renown and an overall nice guy. These two form a strong friendship and a close bond. If I say anymore I will begin to give spoilers and I would like to avoid that.

The end of the first novel wraps up very well, but not much has been done about the demon problem or the quest that Vald has embarked upon. The second book promises to be filled with a lot of action and enjoyment. The fighting scenes are written in a way that reminds me of R. A. Salvatore with the detail and complexity of the melee battles. For .99 the first book is a must and if you enjoy it like I did I'm sure you will find yourself getting the second as well.

Other works by the author:

Check out his website for a lot of detailed info on the world the Nexus Wars are set in.  

On a separate note Jeffrey Poole author of Bakkian Chronicles, Book I - The Prophecy is also a Microsoft Certified Tech and he has started a website to help out indie authors who are having issues with formatting and other tech questions.  Check it out here

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Interview #4 Steve Thomas

An Exercise in Futility

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve been writing since I was child, and finished the first draft of my first novel in college.  I never submitted it to publishers because I’m allergic to red tape.  The files sat on a flash drive for about five years until I learned about the growing world of indie publishing, and that motivated me to go further with the hobby.

If you are not a full time writer what do you do to pay the bills?

My bills are paid by a career in electrical engineering

Any tips for your fellow Indie authors?

Take it slow.  Don’t rush to put out books just to cash in on easy publishing.  Hold your own work to the same standards as any other book you’ve read.

What was your route to indie authoring? 

After I finished the first draft of this novel, I had basically given up on writing.  I decided early on that job prospects were far better in the field of engineering, and I didn’t want to turn writing into a job for fear of sucking all the fun out of it.  I would still write little things now and then, but I guess my attitude toward the book was a sort of resignation.  I found out about indie publishing via a friend who had an interest in game design.  He had apparently used a print-on-demand service for some project or another, and when he mentioned that to me, my reaction was “Wait, you can do that?!”  I had no idea that indie publishing had progressed so far.  Once I found out, the decision was instantaneous that I would polish my book and print out some paperbacks to give away to friends and family.  I sold a few at the office, too, just about enough to cover the cost of that whole endeavor.  Reception was good enough that I started work on a second novel immediately.

Then a few months later—it was actually on my birthday and I had taken the day off from work—I stumbled across Amazon’s Kindle publishing service.  I was almost late to dinner with my family because I was so engrossed with preparing the ebook.

What do you see the biggest challenge in being an Indie author as?

Marketing, by far.  It’s very difficult to get your name out there.

What served as your inspiration for “An Exercise in Futility”?

Like many fantasy novels, this one has its roots in a game of Dungeons and Dragons.  My turn as Dungeon Master came up, and for a few weeks, I was eyebrows-deep in developing a setting: The Kalharian Empire.  One of my players was particularly interested in political intrigue, and this novel grew out of a piece of the history I created especially for him to play with.  Of course, as I wrote the book, the Dungeons and Dragons influence largely withered away.

What other work do you have available?

For the moment, this is the only one.

What sites is your work available on?

You can find it at the following:

Are you currently working on anything new and if so when can we expect to see it?

I am.  It will be another novel (working title: In the Pursuit of Mortality) set in the Kalharian Empire, roughly 80 years after Futility.  The Kalharians are worried about an Elf who is conducting some research that the Empire cannot tolerate, so they conscript an Ancient Horde assassin to take care of her.

I finished the draft in Deccember, and am in the midst of revising the manuscript.  It’s hard to predict, but I estimate releasing it as early as Fall 2011.

Are there any authors that you really look up to?

I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett.  His has a wonderfully entertaining worldview, and is one of the few authors that can consistently deliver humor in writing. 

Oscar Wilde is another favorite.  Every time I read anything by him, I spend the next week talking in epigrams. 

Have you ever been published in any magazines or any national publication?

I have not.

Do you have a homepage/blog/twitter/facebook etc... that fans can follow your progress or contact you at?

A blog was just added to list

I have a bit of an aversion to social networking.  I’m in the early stages of building a website, but by “early stages,” I mean, “I realized I need one and haven’t done anything about it yet.”

As it stands, the best I can offer is an e-mail address:

Thanks for reminding me that I need to fix that.

What is your favorite book/series?

My favorite is the Discworld series by the aforementioned Terry Pratchett.  No need to repeat why.

Are there any specific sites that you visit for advice or inspiration?

I’ve been frequenting  There are a lot of helpful and sympathetic people in their writer’s forum.

Is writing more of a dream job, hobby, or way to earn extra cash?

Lucrative hobby?  Am I allowed to combine two options?  I do it for fun, first and foremost.  I have a stable job that I love, and I have no plans to change careers.  As long as the books pay for themselves, I consider my writing to be a success.

Which of your characters do you relate to the most?

Atreus.  That’s an easy choice because his personality is so similar to my own.  For those who haven’t read the book, Atreus is the King of the Underworld in my mythology.  I wanted to avoid the archetype of the evil Hell-god, and instead made him a scholarly gentleman who collects the stories of the dead.  He’s probably the only person who’s as interested in the history and mythos of my world as I am. 

What discipline of magic would you study if you had the choice of any in the world you created?

That’s a fun question.  Conjuring would be a lot of fun (because who doesn’t love fireballs?), and Illusion yields all sorts of fodder for practical jokes, but I think I have to go for Enchanting.  Making artifacts and long-term effects leaves more room for experimentation.

Of course, if I had Summoning powers, I could skip the epic brawls with my cat whenever it’s time to go to the vet…

Why did you choose to use a nomadic people in your story?

One of the majors themes that I like to invoke in my writing is the value of civilization, what it improves, and what it destroys.  To that end, a conflict between an urban culture and a nomadic one seemed like a natural fit, since most humans were nomadic prior to the invention of agriculture. 

Elves typically would not be associated with necromancy.  Why did you choose to have an elf as the teacher?

Elves, being immortal creatures, have a funny relationship with death.  It’s not part of their natural lifecycle, because their natural lifecycle doesn’t end.  As such, it seemed to me that when faced with death, they would be the ones least able to handle it.  Most people, despite the pain, realize deep down that death has to happen.  Elves, as a culture, haven’t come to that realization.  They are consistently appalled and saddened by every single death they encounter, at least among their own kind.  It seemed natural to me that they would be the ones to study how to undo death, and would pass on that knowledge.

Did you use any kind of historical basis in your book?

History was absolutely an influence.  The Kalharians are largely based on the Romans: an unstoppable military empire who believe that they are doing the world a favor by conquering it.  I actually read Julius Caesar’s The Conquest of Gaul while I was writing.  The Gurdur were a loose amalgamation of Native Americans and very ancient Hebrews (when they were still nomadic).  I modeled the plot after pretty much every time a culture ran afoul of another culture with overwhelming technology.

Did you have to do any special research to add the realistic feel to your nomadic culture?

I didn’t, actually.  I mostly tried tapped into whatever stuck with me from history classes, and tried to logically work out how their culture would function.  I’m glad they felt realistic!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Free books today!

I have found out that two authors that I have reviewed have some new work out and they are doing limited time free downloads!  Really what more can you ask for?

Winter Wolves

A S Warwick author of Tears of the Mountain has released another book free with a coupon code on smashwords.  Go to his blog to find the code.

Picture Perfect

David Alderman has also released a new piece of work.  This is a new novella introducing the new YA series that should have the first full book out sometime this year.  Check out his blog for the coupon code to get this story free, also from smashwords.

It's a good day

Twitter, updates, and review for Jimmy Stone's Ghost Town

Yesterday I finally made a twitter account (!/indiebookblogge).  I am hoping to get a little more exposure for the blog and I will be tweeting updates, reading progress, and author news.

Speaking of author news B Throwsnaill got his updated cover art for Hemlock and the Wizard Tower posted on his website.  It is a great cover so stop by and check it out.

Last night I finished reading Demon Gates by Robert Day and it was a great read!  Hopefully I will get the review on Amazon and on here later today.  He has also volunteered to do an interview about the book so look forward to that in the future.

For now I'll post a review from my older stuff on Amazon.

Jimmy Stone's Ghost Town

4.5 stars

Jimmy Stone's Ghost Town follows the life of Jimmy. The first about half of the book gives you some background in what is really a very harsh life. While in 3rd grade tragedy strikes his family and his life begins to change drastically. The only positive is that his mother gives him a puppy that he names Trex. Fast forward to 5th grade where he has moved to rural Pennsylvania with his father who is now a drunk. He is pretty much a loner at school and one day the class bullies decide that he is going to be the chosen target for the year. While hiding from the bullies one day David introduces himself as a former victim of the bullies and says he can help Jimmy survive. They begin to develop a friendship and David starts to hang out at Jimmy's house. One night Jimmy, David, and Trex go for a walk in the woods where they find a strangle glowing tree that takes them to Ghost Town.

The second half of the book follows the adventure of exploring Ghost Town with their guide Gasp. Apparently Ghost Town is in an uproar because they have been getting letters that hint at terrible things to come, but they were addressed to Jimmy Stone. I won't go into any detail about the adventures in Ghost Town so as not to ruin the story for anyone.

The characters are well done and you really feel sorry for Jimmy with all the bad things that happen to him. David is still kind of a mystery at this point, but you can identify with him as a kind of shy 5th grade kid. I love the addition of the loyal dog to the story (but I'm an animal lover so its kind of cheating).

The only thing I wanted to see was a little bit more of a link between Jimmy's tragic past and his adventures in Ghost Town. There is a little bit of a tie in, but nothing really solid. It is not enough to take away from the overall book however.

Overall it is a very good book for young adults and I look forward to seeing what else happens to Jimmy in the future.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review for Hall of the Wood

The Hall of the Wood
4 Stars

The Hall of the Wood is an adventure fantasy book following the life of Jed. Jed is an ex-ranger who left the order when he settled down with his wife. Tragedy strikes when his wife and child perish at childbirth and he blames himself for the event. He decides to return to his roots at Ranger Hall to speak to some old friends and get his life back on track. He sets off with his late wife's dog Ash and the journey begins.

Along the way he meets Murik a wizard with a great deal of power and a secret mission. Since both of them have the same mission they join forces and head to Homewood. Further along the way they meet Holly a bard and Kayra an apprentice knight. From these two they learn that there has been a call for help issued from the town and something is very wrong with the wood.

The adventure follows the path of the group getting to know each other and they are all faced with their inner demons to overcome as well. Will they be able reverse the mysterious decay of the forest and figure out why the goblins are beginning to invade?

The story is well written and has some interesting characters and plot twists along the way. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre and for [...] why not give it a try. I am intrigued enough by the author that I will be purchasing his other book in the near future to see what else he has to offer. 

Other works by this Author:

For more info visit his website.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review for Arawn's Quest

Arawn's Quest (Zen Chronicles)

Arawn's Quest is a classic fantasy formula told in a very enjoyable way. Arawn is on a quest to get the gems of power and bring his people back to where they belong after being banished for a very long time. Along the way he meets the people who eventually will become his friends and traveling companions: a mysterious and powerful old man, a youth training to be a wizard, an ex pit fighter, a priest, and an elven ranger. The interactions that the characters share make the story a very good read and the world that is built here is described very well. 

The end of the book was done perfectly to wrap up a part of the story, but still pave the way for one or more sequels. I hope we will see the next installment pretty quickly.

Currently Reading: Demon Gates (Nexus Wars Saga) by Robert Day
This book is a great deal at .99 and check his website for a ton of great info on the world he has created.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review for Black Earth: End of Innocence

Black Earth: End of the Innocence
4 stars

Black Earth: End of Innocence is an extremely unique story. It follows several characters through their experiences with what could be the beginning of the end of the world. There are some definite religious aspects to the book, but the vehicle for the end of the world are fallen stars carrying the mysterious Legion. 

The story moves along at a pretty fast pace and there is a lot of action. Despite all the different viewpoints and large number of characters I never felt like I was lost in the story at all. The only downside in my opinion is the cliffhanger ending, but the second book has been released so that is easy enough to remedy. If you are looking for a unique story with some crazy happenings and aliens then this is a great choice. Normally this isn't my choice of fantasy book, but I really enjoyed it so check out the sample and give it a try. Well worth the .99

Other works by this author:
I believe there are several more works due out this month.

Find this author:

Review for WolfSong

WolfSong (Tales from the Crescent)

4.5 stars
WolfSong is a tale about an area called the Crescent. The primary three races are the hawk, werewolves, and humans (there are also fey, but in this book they play a smaller role). The story for the most part follows around a squad of hawks as they hunt down a rogue werewolf that led to the deaths of two of their own. There is also a young werewolf man who is with the squad helping to track down the fugitive.

This is actually a pretty decent sized book especially for .99 and it only took me two days to finish. The story is very solid and the characters are, for the most part, very well developed. The only real issue I had was there were a few times that a character was introduced with very little introduction and I will admit to some confusion trying to remember if I should know that name or if it was someone new. I am really hoping that in the next book we get a little more background into the world and the interactions between the races.

I for one will be sure to pick up a copy of the second book as soon as its available to see what new adventures await this band of warriors.

As of right now this is the only work available by her.  You can find it on Amazon (follow the link in the review) or Smashwords.  She is also a fellow blogger so go and check out her site.  

J H Sked will also be featured in an interview here in several weeks (exact date unknown) so stay tuned for more info on her and on her upcoming work.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Review for The Emperor's Edge

The Emperor's Edge (a high fantasy mystery in an era of steam)
The Emperor's Edge (a high fantasy mystery in an era of steam) is an amazing read. I had trouble putting it down and finished it in two sittings. I think what really raises her above is the life she brings to her characters. I truly enjoy all of them. 

The Emperor's Edge tells the story of a dedicated enforcer (police) whose dream is to become the highest ranking woman in the organization. Things never really work out the way they should though and she ends up a fugitive running from her former comrades still trying to protect her emperor. You would never expect an alcoholic professor, a gang member with magical talent, a male escort, and the deadliest assassin in the world to team up for anything, but that is what happens and it has amazing results. The book has some very humorous spots and is filled with action. I am amazed with Lindsay's ability with dialogue this is the second book of hers I have read (Goblin Brothers being the other) and the way the characters interact is an absolute joy.

If you enjoy fantasy novels do yourself a favor and check this book out. It is well worth the cost and hopefully we will be seeing a lot more of this crew.

Other works by this author:

Ice Cracker II is a short story collection about the characters from The Emperor's Edge (a high fantasy mystery in an era of steam).  This is something I will be getting for sure.  There is a copy of one of the short stories available on Smashwords for free, but its .99 for the collection (3 stories I believe).  

Encrypted is really not something I would usually even consider to be honest, but Lindsay is such a great author that I can't decide if I should give it a try or not.  

I highly recommend checking out this author as she has several genres that she covers and her work is fantastic.  I especially enjoy her character dialogue it is fantastic!