Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekend freebies

B. Thrownaill is offering his book Hemlock and the Wizard Tower free this weekend only.  This is a promotion to help increase awareness of the second book in the series getting ready for release.

John Hartness is also doing a giveaway for a with the chance to win a Kindle Fire, signed copies of his Black Knight books, or a signed copy of his book The Chosen.  He is also giving away most of the books from his Bubba the Monster Hunter series throughout the month of March.  Check out his blog for all the details.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fornax Rising by Nicole Ross

Life in the early twentieth century isn’t easy for women, especially if that woman is an outspoken, intelligent, headstrong, augmented amputee with prosthetic technology that is the envy of armies. Enter Cassandra Leigh Fornax.

Daughter of the shipping magnate John Fornax, Cassandra has had a harder life than most young people of her social standing. After a tragic childhood accident leaves her an amputee, Cassandra’s uncle and engineer, Philip Fornax, builds her a revolutionary prosthesis which replaces the hand she lost. As Cassandra begins to make her own decisions about her future, she finds that her domineering father intends her to live a radically different life. She emancipates herself loudly and publicly at her eighteenth birthday party, scandalising her parents and putting paid to her father’s scheme. When Philip receives an offer to work in an airship factory in Germany, Cassandra follows him so she can put some distance between herself and her father. As the threat of war looms over Europe, the German army has the talented engineer’s most advanced creation firmly in its sights. Cassandra had hoped to leave her troubles behind when she left Britain, but finds they have just begun.

4 stars

Fornax Rising by Nicole Ross is the story of Cassandra Fornax.  Her father is a shipping tycoon and her Uncle Philip is a brilliant engineer and inventor.  When visiting her uncle one summer she is bitten by a poisonous snake and has to have her hand amputated to save her life.  Feeling responsible her uncle designs her an amazing prosthesis to replace what she has lost.  When she returns to her normal life at home she is shunned by the deformity, many people claiming that God was punishing her for a horrible sin.  This causes her become a bit isolated from her peers and get a private tutor.  Luckily her tutor does not judge her and provides her with a top notch education to go with her already brilliant mind.

The story was well done and as the book was described to me as steampunk I was very excited by the engineering possibilities that Philip presented.  Unfortunately after the original creation of the hand there is really not much of the wonderful technology to be found.  There are mentions of some special engines and such, but nothing really concrete and fun.  Towards the end of the book the steampunk aspect does start to make a comeback in a very exciting and entertaining way however.  The middle of the book really goes into the development of the personality of Cassandra.  Even with a little disappointment with the lack of gadgets the story still moved along fairly well.

Overall I will be checking back fairly regularly to see if Nicole has written any other books and especially to see what is coming in this story.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Get a FREE ecopy of The Ant-Man of Malfen by Derek Prior

In celebration of his book The Nameless Dwarf Omnibus Derek Prior is giving away 100 ecopies of The Ant-Man of Malfen, one of the three stories contained in the omnibus.  To receive your copy simply stop by his blog for instructions.  The post with the relevant info can be found at there is also a Goodreads event at

This offer ends on the 18th and is only available to the first 100 people who request a copy, so get yours quickly.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lyon's Legacy by Sandra Ulbrich Almazan review

Sometimes being a geneticist isn’t enough to understand your family....

Joanna Lyon is the great-granddaughter of the legendary TwenCen musician Sean Lyon. Joanna may have inherited some of her ancestor's musical talent, but her parents' bitter divorce and her Uncle Jack's attempts to remake her into another Sean have left her hostile toward her family and music. Her passion is for science, but since she has no access to the family funds, she struggles to earn enough credits for graduate school. Then her uncle sets up a business deal with her employer to make Joanna go on a mission for him: travel via the spaceship Sagan to an alternate TwenCen universe where Sean is still alive. Joanna must collect a DNA sample from Sean so her uncle can create a clone of him. She refuses at first, but finally agrees to go. Secretly, however, Joanna believes her uncle will exploit the clone, and she plans to sabotage the project to stop him. But when she falls in love with one of the scientists in the Sagan's genetics lab, clashes with other time travelers who fear she'll change how history develops on the alternative TwenCen Earth, and receives devastating personal news, Joanna will find herself pushed to her limit even before she comes face-to-face with her hated ancestor. Their encounter will leave her changed forever. Will she still be able to thwart her uncle's plan, and what will she have to sacrifice to do so?

5 stars

Lyon's Legacy by Sandar Ulbrich Almazan follow the life of Joanna Lyon. As the great granddaughter of the most influential musician ever her life has been strongly directed towards music. Unfortunately she is not interested in pursuing that life and at time almost hates her ancestor for forcing her info a life of semi-celebrity just because of who her family is.

Joanna just wants to be a scientist and work peacefully in a lab. Her uncle has other plans for her however, as well as controlling the majority of the family money that she should be entitled to. He makes a deal that is she travels through a wormhole to get DNA from her great grandfather he will give her the money she needs to go to school and remove himself from her life forever. Things never really seem to go as planned...

While being a relatively short read Lyon's Legacy was extremely entertaining. Sandra is a big fan of science herself and it shows through in her writing. The society that Joanna lives in confused me a bit as music seemed to play an immense role, but that could have just been the way it affected her due to her family. Well written characters drive the story and Joanna's turmoil over her choices is palpable. I'm not sure I have read anything quite like this, but I am eager to see more from the author.

A very well done novella debut from Sandra Ulbrich Almazan brings another indie author to keep an eye on into the picture.

Review copy provided by the author.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Offtopic: Lesser known music featuring @Hylandrock

Today I'm going to share some music with everyone the band is called Hyland.  They are a great band that is on the lesser known side for sure.  My wife and I have seen them three times (counting last nights Valentines Day show) in concert now and they are truly a great experience live.  We have talked to Jon, the lead singer, at all the shows and he is a down to Earth guy.  We have quite the collection of merch from the shows and the band is always cool about signing it.  The shows are very affordable we paid $8 per ticket for a three band show, basically if they come to your area do yourself a favor and check them out.  If you are in Ohio check out Alive Fest in June they will be playing there along with a ton of other great bands.

Weights and Measures  available for under $8 on Amazon.

Their current radio single on RadioU is Jumping the Gun, but the whole album is good and Never is amazing live.  Follow them on twitter @hylandrock for tour updates.

Never performed live 
Til Death

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Sword and the Dragon by M.R. Mathias review

When the Royal Wizard of Westland poisons the king so that his puppet prince can take the throne and start a continental war, a young squire is forced to run for his life carrying the powerful sword that his dying monarch burdened him with from the death bed.

Two brothers find a magic ring and start on paths to becoming the most powerful sort of enemies, while an evil young sorceress unwillingly falls in love with one of them when he agrees to help her steal a dragon's egg for her father. Her father just happens to be the Royal Wizard, and despite his daughter's feelings, he would love nothing more than to sacrifice the boy!

All of these characters, along with the Wolf King of Wildermont, the Lion Lord of Westland, and a magical hawk named Talon, are on a collision course toward Willa the Witch Queen's palace in the distant kingdom of Highwander. There the very bedrock is formed of the powerful magical substance called Wardstone.

Who are the heroes? And will they get there before the Royal Wizard and his evil hordes do?

Whatever happens, the journey will be spectacular, and the confrontation will be cataclysmic.

4 stars

The Sword and the Dragon by M.R. Mathias is the first book in The Wardstone Trilogy.  The story centers around the brothers Gerard and Hyden two young men of the Skyler clan.  The clan is famous for being the only people who know the location to harvest the eggs of a certain hawkling that they sell for very high prices during trade fairs.  This year with Hyden being the clans greatest hope for a win over the elves in the annual archery competition he is forbidden to undertake the dangerous climb to earn his honor by getting a good harvest of eggs.  Gerard offers to do the climb twice once for himself and once for his brother in order to ensure his brother has eggs for himself at the trade fair.  Climbing the massive peak to reach the eggs is a dangerous and grueling affair and no one has done it two days in a row before.  While Gerard is on his second trip to the top he notices an item shining from one of the nests and discovers a ring.

He keeps the ring for himself, but lives up to his agreement and gives the second harvest of eggs to his brother.  In that batch of eggs packed in a special moss to protect them and prevent them from hatching an unthinkable thing occurs.  One of the eggs hatches beginning the events of a prophecy of the Skyler clan.  After the trade gathering the brothers go in separate directions and the story follows their journeys.

M.R. Mathias has a talent for world building.  This story takes place on a truly epic scale with wonderful locations, cultures, and characters.  There is one specific location where a character encounter a very unique version of local wildlife and I was impressed with the ingenuity of it.

There is a lot of stuff going on in this book so it's not a casual read.  It is definitely worth the time and effort though.  This is an author to keep an eye out on, I already have the second book in this series as well as several others he has written.

Review copy provided by the author.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Earth by Shauna Granger review

Shayna and her two best friends have the abilities to manipulate and control the four elements, earth, air, water and fire. While learning to hone their growing powers, they discover a new and malicious presence in their sleepy beach town. Someone is performing blood magic and threatens to expose their small magical community. So far only small animals have been slaughtered, but then the nightmares start.

Shayna suffers nightmares of being chased and sacrificed only to wake up bloodied and bruised. She thinks her magical blood is the ultimate target for the final blood rite. When an innocent girl, Tracy, is kidnapped Shayna knows it’s only a ploy to draw her out; she can’t let someone die because of her.
4 stars

Earth by Shauna Granger tells the story of Shayna and her two friends Jodi and Steven.  The three friends have some power of the basic elements with Shayna being the most powerful by far.  When evidence starts to appear of someone doing some heinous black magic rituals.  These rituals coincide with the arrival of a set of twin brothers to their town the friends have to figure out if they are behind the dark magic.  The fact that there may be a spark between Shayna and one of the brothers adds another layer to the plot.

All three of the main characters are well developed, with a good dynamic between them.  They have a very real relationship with emotional depth and humor.  There is a bit of a romantic element to the story, but it didn't strike me as what has become the typical pining misery that is often found in books aimed at a similar age group.  That is one of the best things about this book in my opinion.  I enjoy young adult books and enjoy the genre, but it is very hard to find something that doesn't having a brooding male part and a pining female character.  Very well done book and I will continue to follow this series.

Review copy provided by author.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bad Radio by Michael Langlois review

Sixty years ago Abe Griffin saved the world and gained eternal youth.

Or so he thought.

Now, a man that Abe believed to be long dead is killing the surviving members of Abe's old squad in order to reclaim the relics that they have kept hidden for decades.

The relics form an ancient beacon that must never be used, in a ritual that must never be completed. But the end of the world requires more than just activating the beacon.
It requires Abe.

With help from the granddaughter of his oldest friend, Abe must learn the truth about his immortal body, while at the same time trying to stop a horrifying series of supernatural opponents from sweeping away everything that he cares about.

5 stars

Bad Radio by Michael Langlois is a thrilling supernatural story.  It follows Abe, a veteran of WWII whose unit went after the crazy stuff.  While tracking down a man named Piotr Abe falls into a pit filled with liquid and has not aged a day since.  Returning to his normal life back in the states was difficult for him and as the fact that he was not aging became more obvious he began to live in seclusion on his farm.  On the day he has decided to end his life himself he receives a visitor related to his past.  One of his old Army buddies is in a bad way and his granddaughter arrives to find Abe and see if he can help.  While she doesn't believe that the young man in front of her is the same man who served with her grandfather she figures since they look identical it may be enough to reach her grandfather and help.  Unable to turn his back on someone he went through so much with in the war Abe agrees to help.

That agreement starts a rollercoaster ride of action and horror that is leftover from what they were unable to finish during the War.  Abe is an excellent character who has some unique abilities besides the forever young thing.  He also has a temper that can make him a bit of a liability in certain situations.  The supernatural elements are very well done, with the "baitbags" (read the book to find out) being able to blend in with normal people for the most part.

The book was fantastic and did a great job of inspiring the "I'm just gonna read one more chapter" feeling until the book is over.  It's a fairly simple one or two sitting read and if the book is able to suck you in it won't take more than that.  I would recommend this for fans of supernatural thrillers/horror stories with some unique bad guys and a ton of action.  I personally will be reading the follow up book, Walker, without a doubt.

Monday, February 6, 2012

In WIlder Lands by Jim Galford review

The wilding Estin just wanted to be left alone, find shelter and food, and live to a nice old age. With war escalating around him, these may be beyond his reach. Instead, survival becomes his only goal as he flees civilization to pursue the chance at a better life by following a fox wildling into the mountains, far from the war's conflicts.

The war might still be raging elsewhere, but Estin will find the mountains are far from safe. Estin must decide what he is willing to do and become, as well as who to trust if he is to survive, no matter where he lives.

4.5 stars

In Wilder Lands by Jim Galford tells the story of Estin.  Estin is a wildling, a race of humanoid animals.  He is the only one of his kind that he knows of and as the story begins he is living in the slums of a city stealing to survive.  Wildlings exist only on the very fringe of human society and it is not an unusual occurrence for them to be scooped up and sold as slaves.  When a theft that turns out to be much more than he bargained for goes south he is forced to flee the city.  Luckily for him he hooks up with some other wildlings, unfortunately they are of the predator variety and he has a very tough time finding acceptance as a species of prey.

There is a lot of stuff going on in this book and it revolves around some very well done characters and a unique story.  The book covers a full gambit of emotion with several instances of humor in the books that made me chuckle and some the issue of slavery is treated with a very real gravity.  There is also a bit of a romantic element that Estin finds himself involved in.  That is usually a bit touchy of a subject for me, as if it's not done right I lose a lot of interest in the story.  Jim managed to keep me involved throughout.  This is a very well done book and deserves a 4.5 star rating that I have no problem rounding up for the review sites.

Review copy provided by the author.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Free download this weeekend only!!

This weekend Brian Glenn is offering Dylan Murphy and the Magic Touch FREE on Amazon.  I did a review of this book late last year and found the book to be pretty enjoyable.  This is a good book to pick up and the second book in the series Dylan Murphy and the Harvest Moon is now available, so if you really get into the first book there won't be any waiting on the second.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ty Johnston talks about his latest book Demon Chains

Fantasy author Ty Johnston’s latest e-book novel, Demon Chains, has recently been released. As a way to promote Demon Chains, and because he enjoys meeting new people online, Ty is taking part in a blog tour running from February 1 through February 29. His novels include City of Rogues, Bayne’s Climband Ghosts of the Asylum, all of which are available for the Kindle , the Nook and online at Smashwords. To learn more about Ty and his writing, follow him at his blog

I recently had an extended hospital stay due to problems with my ticker. I’m better now, thank you, but things were kind of scary for a while there.

But being a writer in a hospital for an extended period of time, I experienced a few things that might be different from others’ hospital adventures.

For one thing, my Kindle drew lots of attention. Obviously this isn’t specific to only writers, but I found it interesting the number of nurses and other medical professionals who made a point of mentioning my Kindle. (As an aside, my first day in the hospital I was Kindleless – is that a word? -- but thanks to my thoughtful wife, I soon had my Kindle once more ... I also had my netbook, but honestly didn’t feel much like writing).

Also, the hospital where I stayed had a sizable library somewhere, because each night an orderly would push a cart from room to room and upon this cart were loads of books available for patients. The orderly stopped dropping by my room after the first night as, in his own words, “Man, you’re driving me out of business.” Referring to my Kindle, of course. He was smiling when he said that, so I didn’t think there were truly any hard feelings.

Another thing about a hospital stay is that you have to provide a lot of information to various people. One’s employment status comes up often. When asked what I do for a living, I usually just said I’m “self employed.” Which was always followed up with, “Oh yeah, what do you do?”

I’m a writer,” I’d say.

What kind of writing?”


Why type?”

Which lead to some rather weak explanations from myself. Sometimes the other person acted excited, but more often than not a sort of glazed look came over their face.

Since becoming a full-time fiction writer, being asked what I do for a living has became the bane of my existence. Why is this? Because most people quickly lose interest, especially when they realize I’m not writing in one of their preferred genres. It seems like everyone in the world is a thriller or maybe romance fan, but out in the general population I don’t seem to run into a lot of fantasy and speculative genre fans. Maybe it’s just my luck.

However, my hospital visit did actually procure me a few sales. More than a few people asked if they could find my literary adventures in e-book format. And soon after being asked, I’d notice I’d made a sale (thanks to my handy netbook).

Here’s another thing I experienced as a fiction writer in the hospital: Everyone brings you a book.

Sometimes it’s a well-meaning friend who drops in to see how you are doing. Sometimes it’s a hospital staff member wanting my opinion about a writer they enjoy. Sometimes it’s even a minister who is secretly a fan of the speculative genres (and provided me with the most interesting conversation I had during my stay ... er, other than maybe the talk in which the cardiologist told me I wasn’t going to die).

Anyway, my hospital stay seemed quite unique. I don’t want to go back, of course, but I had an interesting time while I was there. And since I met lots of new people and sold a few e-books during my visit, perhaps I shouldn’t be so leery of telling others what I do for a living.

I'd like to thank Ty for stopping by and giving us an update on his latest release.  Also good to know that your ticker is still going strong.