Blog Archive

View My Stats
Monday, December 22, 2014

News: Ragnarok Publications acquires Angelic Knight Press as their horror imprint


Ragnarok Publications are a small press that have been releasing some high quality books. Helmed by J. M. Martin & Tim Marquitz, Ragnarok has been instrumental in unearthing terrific debuts by Seth Skorkowsky, Rob J. Hayes and Kenny Soward while also putting out wonderfully odd gems like Pretty Little Dead Girls by Mercedes M. Yardley.

This is what they announced a week ago:

Ragnarok Publications have acquired a new horror imprint, Angelic Knight Press (AKP). This acquisition will mark a new chapter in the evolution of the company’s structure, and Ragnarok founders J.M. Martin and Tim Marquitz couldn’t be more pleased to join forces with the talented people behind AKP.

Stacey Turner will be joining Ragnarok as the Managing Editor of the imprint, along with Danielle Day who will assist in the day-to-day operations. A select few Angelic Knight titles will transition over to Ragnarok, to include Kirk Dougal’s Dreams of Ivory and Gold, Aaron Gudmunson’s Snowglobe, Death’s Kiss by Kim Williams-Justesen, and a handful of anthologies including Lincoln Crisler’s That Hoodoo, Voodoo That You Do, Demon Rum edited by Stacey Turner and Clint Collins, No Place Like Home, and Fairly Wicked Tales

Alongside these great books, AKP’s first releases of 2015 will be Tuskers by Duncan McGeary and the fabulous foursome of Stacey Turner, Mercedes M. Yardley, C.W. LaSart, and Allison M. Dickson with Grimm Mistresses, a sordid collection of fairy tales gone horribly awry. 

“I’m thrilled to be working with Stacey and Danielle again, having partnered with them on several projects,” says Ragnarok’s Editor-in-Chief, Tim Marquitz. “They’re fabulous people with a ton of experience and talent, whose addition to Ragnarok is a great boon for us.” 

“I’m excited about this move for Angelic Knight,” says Managing Editor, Stacey Turner. “Ragnarok is every bit as committed to putting out quality work — both the author’s and the publisher’s — as we are, so the union is natural. I can’t wait to start reissuing some of our catalog through Ragnarok and finding new books to bring to our readers.” 

For Ragnarok, this is really a significant step and I'm excited to see the books they will come out with next. Checkout the covers below for their three upcoming titles:


Monday, December 8, 2014

"Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life" by P.J. Hoover (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)




Visit P.J. Hoover's Official Website Here

OVERVIEW: Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life is a funny, fast-paced novel for young readers by P.J. Hoover which chronicles the mischievous adventures of King Tut, now an immortal eighth-grader living in Washington, D.C..

You’d think it would be great being an Egyptian demigod, but if King Tut has to sit through eighth grade one more time, he’ll mummify himself.

Granted the gift of immortality by the gods—or is it a curse?—Tut has been stuck in middle school for ages. Even worse, evil General Horemheb, the man who killed Tut’s father and whom Tut imprisoned in a tomb for three thousand years, is out and after him. The general is in league with the Cult of Set, a bunch of guys who worship one of the scariest gods of the Egyptian pantheon—Set, the god of Chaos.

The General and the Cult of Set have plans for Tut… and if Tut doesn’t find a way to keep out of their clutches, he’ll never make it to the afterworld alive.

FORMAT: Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life is the first book in what is presumed to be a series. The story is mostly wrapped up in this novel, but there are elements that carry over into the other books.

It is a children's/YA novel that has action, adventure, and romance. It is based off of Egyptian mythology. It stands at 320 pages and was published by Starscape/Tor/Macmillan on September 16, 2014.

ANALYSIS: Percy Jackson, you have been warned. A new competitor has just entered the teen lit arena and he is sure to win over the hearts of teens and adults alike. Tut is sure to be a hit.

Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life follows the journey of King Tut. Readers are first introduced to him in Ancient Egypt. Tut's life is in jeopardy. He is running from his uncle, who is responsible for the murder of Tut's family and is now out to get Tut.

In his run in with his uncle, Tut is stabbed and about to die. In a last ditch attempt to live, he casts a spell that leads him to immortality. Unfortunately, it came with a price. Tut is doomed to spend the rest of his life as a 14 year old who must keep attending eighth grade over and over and over again.

The novel continues with Tut in present-day Washington D.C. where Tut is attending eighth grade all over again and living with his brother-like guardian Gil and Horus. Tut discovers that his uncle may not be dead (as he has found immortality too) and he is ready to get his revenge. This sparks a search for a knife that will help Tut kill his uncle.

Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life is everything that makes a great novel. It is fast paced, action packed, and is rather unique in its concept. Sure, Percy Jackson brought the well-known Gods to life, but this brings the often overlooked Egyptian gods to life.

Hoover does an amazing job of not info dumping, but incorporating the god's backstory into the novel. It might not be the most in-depth look at the Egyptian gods, but it is enough to spark people's interest which I hope will encourage them to read on their own.

One of the things I really liked was the way Hoover incorporated a parental figure into the story. When I read the blurb for this novel, I couldn't figure out how a 14 year old could just wander through life with no one questioning it. It appears it can be done when an older individual takes that 14 year old under their wing and acts like a parental figure.

Gil, the parental/brother-like figure, in the story wasn't just placed there as a wall decoration. He was developed, had emotions, and really played a role in the novel. Many times YA/children's novels tend to have adult/parental figures take a back seat, but not in this one.

Gil isn't the only character that is extremely developed. Hoover does an amazing job of quickly developing characters and making them relatable for the readers. The mortal characters were average, every day children that almost any reader could relate to instantly. Tut was likeable and funny. He was mature at times due to being alive so long, but there were times when he acted just like he was supposed to – a 14 year old boy.

A favorite part of mine was the shabtis that follow Tut around. They were responsible for helping keep the house clean, but also helped Tut out a lot with homework and other day-to-day chores. I just loved the interactions Tut had with them. It added a nice, humorous touch to the story without ruining to the tone of the book.

Overall, Hoover did an amazing job. Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life is an amazing start to a promising series. Hoover shows that it is possible to create a detailed, likeable story in approximately 300 pages. It will be interesting to see where this series is taken, what happens with the characters, and what is in store for Tut. I know I'll be waiting.
Monday, December 1, 2014

News & Update: The Heartstrikers series by Rachel Aaron


Official Author Website  
Order “Nice Dragons Finish LastHERE
Read the first three chapters HERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Nice Dragons Finish Last"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "The Spirit Thief
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Rebellion” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Eater” & “Spirit’s Oath” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit War” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Spirit's End"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Fortune's Pawn"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Honor's Knight"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Heaven's Queen"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Eli Monpress series completion interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Bach

Nice Dragons Finish Last is Rachel Aaron's self-published debut. I reviewed it earlier this year and as you can read, I was completely bowled over by it. So I was even more pleased when I heard that Nice Dragons Finish Last was recently put out as an audiobook by Audible.

For those interested to hear a sample, you can check out a 30-min sample over here.


Also Rachel recently posted some news about the sequel One Good Dragon Deserves Another. The book is taking a bit longer to write for plot reasons and instead of being released around this time of the year. It will be released sometime in the first third of 2015. Hopefully Rachel will provide us with a blurb and some more details, but until then feast your eyes on this amazing cover prototype (see above). It's by Anna Steinbauer, the same artist who did the gorgeous cover for its predecessor.
Friday, November 21, 2014

"Greenglass House" by Kate Milford (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)






Visit Kate Milford's Official Website Here

OVERVIEW: A rambling old inn, a strange map, an attic packed with treasures, squabbling guests, theft, friendship, and an unusual haunting mark this smart middle grade mystery in the tradition of the Mysterious Benedict Society books and Blue Balliet's Chasing Vermeer series.

It's wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler's inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers' adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo's home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook's daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House-and themselves.

FORMAT: Greenglass House is a stand-alone children's novel. It is a mystery with some supernatural elements thrown in. It stands at 384 pages and was published August 26, 2014 by Clarion Books.

ANALYSIS: When I was in middle school, one of my favorite books was The Westing Game. I can't really tell you what caused me to become obsessed with it, but I must have read that book a half dozen times in the span of a year. And when our class read it as a group, I was thrilled.

While many children's books over the years have tried to match the excitement and mystery that The Westing Game had, they did not come close. That was until Greenglass House came along.

Greenglass House tells the story of a very old smugglers inn that just happens to be Milo's home. The novel starts as Milo and his family are preparing for a nice Christmas break together as a family, as traditionally no guests come to the inn. Unfortunately, plans go astray when a mysterious guest arrives and requests to stay at the inn. And that individual isn't the only one who makes a surprise visit to the inn. Several other odd, yet loveable guests arrive too.

It quickly becomes apparent that these mysterious guests, while seemingly random, are not so random. All the guests appear to know each other, but are reluctant to step forward and share their connection. This leads to a fun mystery that Milo and his new friend, Meddy, work to solve.

There are numerous aspects of Greenglass House that I loved and there were some aspects that I couldn't stand. I'll start with the good.

I love that Greenglass House is essentially a winter book. Kate Milford does a wonderful job of creating a snowy, wintery wonderland. It isn't magical, but it is so realistic that I honestly expected to put down the book and have my entire yard filled with snow – I read the book in October, so snow in October was a long shot!

The winter setting isn't the only thing that comes to life – the entire Greenglass House inn comes to life. Again, Milford does a magnificent job of creating an inn, describing it in realistic terms, and just making readers feel as if they are actually right inside that inn.

Another aspect that is truly amazing about Greenglass House is how everything is wrapped up so nice and neatly by the end of the novel. Within the first few chapters, there seemed to be so much going on and it was hard to see how it was all connected or could be connected. When I finished the book, it all came together and I was extremely happy with how it all turned out.

Unfortunately, for everything that is good with this book, there is something that wasn't so great. First, the pacing of the book. Greenglass House moves at a painfully slow pace. There is very little action or even surprise elements. It is mostly just people chugging along, introducing themselves, and wandering around. If you can deal with the slow pacing, the book is great, but I struggled with the novel and almost gave up at the halfway point.

Another aspect of the novel that I wasn't a huge fan of was the whole roleplaying aspect. Milo and Meddy start playing a roleplaying game that is similar to Dungeons and Dragons – only with a different name. I felt this whole aspect of the book was being played out for the nostalgic value it held to the author and not because it added to the book.

The roleplaying takes up a lot of the book. The characters spend a lot of time explaining the game, talking about the fictional characters in the game, creating characters, and just playing the game. While this does play a small role in the novel, I found the huge focus on this part really slowed the novel down. For a faced paced novel, this would have worked, but the novel was already so slow that it hurt it.

Finally, while Greenglass House is a nice read, I honestly think it is one of those books that are intended more for adults than children. The writing is certainly at a level a middle school child could read and understand, but I think the structure of the book, the slower pace, and rather adult issues that many of the characters are facing (lost love, a love triangle, possibility of smuggling illegal goods)  really make it more of an adult book.

Overall, I enjoyed Greenglass House. It didn’t come close to The Westing Game but it sure tried. If you can stand the slower pace and are up to a challenge, this is a good book. It is definitely one of the stronger books of 2014.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mini-Reviews: The Wolf In Winter by John Connolly & The Shotgun Arcana by Rod S. Belcher (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Website
Order the book HERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of “The Lovers” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of “The Whisperers” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of “The Burning Soul” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of “The Wrath Of Angels” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic interview with John Connolly 
Why You Should Read John Connolly (A Fantasy Literature feature)

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: After the terrific and fatalistic events of The Wrath Of Angels, The Wolf In Winter was a highly anticipated title for me. This book leads on with certain pivotal events from The Wrath Of Angels however its main plot makes it a standalone read (for those who apprehensive to jump into a 10-plus books series). This book’s title though has more of a fantastical feel to it than any of the previous ones. One thing though there’ll be some spoilers for The Wrath Of Angels as I discuss certain plot points so don’t read ahead if you haven’t read the aforementioned title.

We begin with Parker, Louis, & Angel hot on the track of the Collector for his murder of Jackie Garner. The Collector or Kushiel as is his name, is not quite feeling up to his usual fatal self. He has always been the predator but never the prey and this new feeling isn't one he’s enjoying all that much. Parker is focused on ending the Collector’s murderous reign however the suicide of a friend of his pulls him back to Portland. Jude is a homeless man who’s been an ally of Parker for a long time. His suicide draws Parker away from his search and he’s rather stumped by it all.

Another odd thread to Jude’s suicide leads Parker to the small town of Prosperous that has its own customs, and quite a church as well. Jude’s daughter was last seen in Prosperous however the locals deny her presence and Jude was also deemed persona non-grata when he went there to find her. All of this pulls Parker’s empathetic strings and makes him head straight to Prosperous wherein he finds something crooked. Thus begins the story wherein we learn more about the historical sect of Family of Love, which was birthed in England and to escape persecution, came to the North American shores. They also brought something over that makes their church and town unique. Tied into all these happenings is the tale of a lone wolf who also comes into the woods around Prosperous and is the titular character of the book.

As with any John Connolly story, there’s never a simple straightforward tale. With this book, John explores a small historical sect of Christianity that had strange roots and even stranger customs. They also had a murderous rumor attached to their past that they couldn't quite shake off no matter how hard they tried. The story also features a stronger focus on Louis, Angel and a couple of other characters due to the story and that was simply fascinating to read. The story also continues a strong horror trend that has been so prevalent in the past couple of books. Within this story, the horror is nicely tied into a mythological bent and while a tad predictable nicely amped up the climax of the story.

One of the biggest twists of the story which occurs about halfway into the story really stumped me & the last chapter especially will have HUGE ramifications for the next saga in Charlie Parker’s life. The next book is titled A Song Of Shadows and believe me, once you are done with this volume. You won’t be able to wait to get your hands on it.  The Wolf In Winter is a very good thriller that will thrill John Connolly fans and makes sure that the series is still exciting. 


Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Six-Gun Tarot
Read The Route To Golgotha by R. S. Belcher (guest post)

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: The Shotgun Arcana is the sequel to last year’s The Six-Gun Tarot. It was a book that Cindy and me both enjoyed and had big expectations from the author going forward. The Shotgun Arcana is the sequel to that fantastic debut and contrary to my worries; Rod Belcher has outdone himself with this solid sophomore effort. Also there'll be mild spoilers for The Six-Gun Tarot as I talk about the plot so be forewarned those who haven't read the previous volume.

The story begins set nearly a year after the troubled events that were shown in The Six-gun Tarot. The town residents have come back to a semblance of normalcy & managed to convince themselves that perhaps it was all a horrible nightmare. For certain residents like Jim who’s now a deputy sheriff along with Mutt and helping Jon Highfeather keeps everything under control. Maude had to sacrifice a lot (especially a big part of her legacy) to keep her daughter alive and save the world at the same time. Malachi Bick is back in Golgotha after his reappearance at the fag end of the events shown in The Six-gun tarot and is quite unpopular with the town folk due to his business tactics.

Harry Pratt the town mayor has settled down with his dual role as mayor and gay Mormon and also has a special weapon to keep him busy. Augustus Schultz is remarried but seeks to help his friend Clay Turlough (the resident mad scuientist). His second wife Gillian Proctor further does her best to help him avail his second chance at happiness. Then are quite a few new characters who are introduced and share familial and friendly ties to several POV characters. The big draw with with this story is the presence of a person familiar to Biqa/Malachi who has been given a similar task as him. This person though hasn't held up their share of the bargain and this has led to the spread of 32 teeth of Cain. These teeth seek out the very worst of human depravity and so there’s a whole host of killers coming towards Golgotha for something sinister.

There’s also a serial killer in the town who’s taken a clue from an infamous Whitechapel passerby who’s left a bloody stain on their past. This killer is striking havoc among the working girls of the town and seems to work in an invisible manner. Jon, Mutt and Jim will have to pool their brains as well take the help of all their friends to solve these murders and at the same time try to solve all their individual problems. There’s a bunch more stuff that’s combined with the main threads of this story that make this sequel such a fantastic read for me.

Beginning with the characterization, in review for The Six-gun Tarot, I had noted: “his prose and characterization upends this tale from simply a fantastic idea onto a fantastic story. The characters even though numerous hold their own and each of them alternatively convince the reader of their importance.” But with this sequel, Rod Belcher basically outdoes himself in the characters department. There are so many good ones: Augustus, Maude, Jon, Malachi, Jim, Clay, & a couple of the new ones introduced in this volume. Frankly at this point, I’ll be ecstatic if the author keeps writing further tales of Golgotha as there are several pointers in this story for future & past exploits.

There’s also quite a few historical references personas such as Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allen Poe, etc and events/organizations like the Donner Party and the Pinkerton agency. The author judiciously mixes historical nuggets within his story to make it seem oh so plausible and entirely delectable. This sequel is basically the book that convinced me that Rod S. Belcher is an author to watch out for. His imagination, writing style and characters simply have elevated him into that select group of authors whose books I will heartily keep recommending to all and sundry.

The Shotgun Arcana is a fabulous sequel that builds on the terrific premise that was laid out in the Six Gun Tarot. It is a book that right now is in my top three books for 2014 and this series as a whole deserves to be adapted for TV. Think of it as Wild west meets League of Extraordinary Gentlemen crossed with a little bit of Lovecraft and mixed in with superb characterization. If you haven’t read The Shotgun Arcana & its predecessor yet, you ARE missing out on a classic series in the making.
Monday, November 10, 2014

GUESTPOST: The Pros and Cons Of Writing Steampunk by Jay Kristoff


When I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing a steampunk setting, I gave myself a few provisos. The first was that I’d avoid the rose-colored goggles point of view. Some SP settings instil the transition from rural to industrial age with a sense of wonder, and tend to gloss over the ugly side of industrialization, and the whole child exploitation/slavery unpleasantness that came along with our transition to urban life.

Second, I wanted to avoid Victorian England as a cultural touchstone. It’s been done, and done well (Colonial America too, tbh). I decided to build a steampunk world based on a culture nobody had really tackled yet – Shogunate Japan.

Basing your fantasy world on an existing culture is hardly a new concept – most modern fantasy has at least some grounding in cultures of the past (albeit with a decidedly euro-centric focus). But there are pro’s and con’s to writing a world based on an existing culture that isn’t actually yours.

Pro: Different Perspectives

Delving into a culture you haven’t been raised in will invariably be an eye-opening experience. You’ll be inundated with new concepts and imagery. Researching an unfamiliar culture might open up story avenues, conflicts, hooks and twists that you wouldn’t have considered if you were writing fantasy of the Tolkienite variety. At the very least, you’re filling your skullspace with interesting factoids that might come in handy during some future dinner engagement. For example, did you know that in ancient Greece, when a boy turned 13, an uncle or close family friend would take the lad up into the hills to teach him the time-honored art of fellatio?

Drop that one on your next dinner party. Guaranteed show-stopper!

Con: WTB Glossary PST

What we think of as traditional fantasy is often an alt-version of medieval England. Concepts like “knight” and “throne” are so ingrained in our cultural psyche, they need no explanation. You don’t need to take the time to explain to your reader what a “Lord” is. They already know how a “shortsword” works. They’re guaranteed to be repeatedly cursing the skies if you use terms like “Daimyo” or “wakizashi” and offer no explanation, even if you write the term in context. You’ll need to explain all these new words you’re bandying about, and some readers tire of that routine quickly. They just want to get to the fireworks factory.

Pro: Zigging Not Zagging

Because modern fantasy tends to have a heavy western European focus, when a piece of work that strays from that norm rears its head, it’ll stand out like the proverbial… well, you know…

Different” equates to “intriguing” in the minds of many readers – this is simply human nature. Intriguing isn’t a bad thing for your novel’s concept to be. Just like your eyes are inexorably drawn to the six-foot transvestite in a red miniskirt amidst a sea of six-foot transvestites in grey ballgowns, an epic fantasy novel with nary a king or knight or dragon in sight will probably turn some heads. In theory, anyways.


Con: Performance Anxiety

They’re all looking at you now. This series better be good.

Pro: The Sand Pit

The liberating notion about drawing inspiration from an existing culture but still keeping your world entirely fantastical is that you can take elements of the touchstone you want, and leave the rest where you found it. You’re building your own sandpit after all, and you make the rules. If you want to utilize part of an ancient religion but not use the entire pantheon, you’re free to do so. If you want to utilize cultural or societal structures, religious hierarchy or elements of language, there’s no rule saying you can’t change it, or mix it with other concepts from halfway around the globe. Combining the real with the fantastical can lead you to create truly unique worlds, even if their foundation is one we’re all at least partially acquainted with.

Con: Unavoidable Collisions

Even if you call your world “Not’thureel’wurld” and make it plain that your story is not in any way historical, nor indeed, any form of commentary on the culture that inspired you, if your setting was inspired by an existing culture, particularly a culture you don’t come from, then you’re going to offend somebody. The differences between Tsarist Russia and your fantasy world based on Tsarist Russia can be explained very simply – you aren’t writing a story set in Tsarist Russia. But despite your setting being fantastical, you will be told in no uncertain terms that “you are doing it wrong”.

Most readers will understand you’re writing fantasy, and that your inspiration was exactly that, and only that. Some won’t, and some won’t care. Like death and taxes, this is unavoidable.

This is not to say that, by slapping a “this is make believe” tag on your work, you have license to do whatever you please. Stereotyping is always a pit best avoided. Simplifying any culture, fantastical or not, down to a handful of traits simply doesn’t do the complexity of life justice. The golden rule is that people are, first and foremost, people. They have hopes and dreams, desires and imaginations, and the amount of melanin in their skins or the shape of their eyes most likely has nothing to do with any of that.

There are certainly other pitfalls to watch out for, particularly if you’re writing the story of an outsider interacting with another’s culture (the Sensei, the Neo-Native, the Magic Colored Man to name a few). If your setting has no “outsider”, these tropes are easy to avoid.

Woe betide you if you drop a white protagonist into a non-white culture and have said protagonist start teaching the primitive natives what’s what, or worse, discovering the beauty of the primitive native culture and the evils of their own. Those antics might win you seven academy awards or give you the highest grossing film of all time, but…

… waitaminute…


Official Author Website
Pre-Order Endsinger HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Stormdancer

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Jay Kristoff was born and brought up in Perth. He grew up reading and collecting books and spent most of his free time playing Dungeons & Dragons. He graduated with an Arts degree and then spent ten years in the field of “creative advertising”. He currently lives in Melbourne with his wife and dog. His first trilogy, the award winning THE LOTUS WAR is set to be published in over a dozen countries. The third book in the series, ENDSINGER, is due for publication in November 2014. Jay’s new series, the SciFi thriller ILLUMINAE, which he co-authored with Amie Kaufman, is due for publication by Random House in 2015.

NOTE: Author picture courtesy of Christopher Tovo. The remaining stops of Jay's ENDSINGER blog tour can be found over here.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY: The Heresy Within by Rob J. Hayes


Official Author Website
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Heresy Within by Rob J. Hayes

Last year Rob J. Hayes absolutely exploded on to readers with his excellent debut, grimdark trilogy. He’s now being re-published and it's our great pleasure to announce Ragnarok Publications and Fantasy Book Critic are giving away one signed copy of ”The Heresy Within” to One Lucky Winner!!!

To enter, please send an email to fbcgiveaway@gmail.com with your Name, Mailing Address, and the subject: Heresy. Giveaway has ENDED and was open to participants WORlDWIDE!. 

Thank you for entering and Good Luck!

GIVEAWAY RULES
 1) Open To Anyone WORLDWIDE
 2) Only One Entry Per Household (Multiple Entries Will Be Disqualified)
 3) Must Enter Valid Email Address, Mailing Address + Name
 4) No Purchase Necessary
 5) Giveaway HAS ENDED
 6) Winner Will Be Randomly Selected and Notified By Email
 7) Personal Information Will Only Be Used In Mailing Out the Books To The Winner

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Heresy Within by Rob J. Hayes (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Order the book HERE (Amazon US) and HERE (Amazon UK)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rob J. Hayes was born and brought up in Basingstoke, UK. As a child he was fascinated with Lego, Star Wars and Transformers that fueled his imagination and he spent quite a bit of his growing up years playing around with such. He began writing at the age of fourteen however soon discovered the fallacies of his work. After four years at University studying Zoology and three years working for a string of high street banks as a desk jockey/keyboard monkey Rob lived on a desert island in Fiji for three months. It was there he re-discovered his love of writing and, more specifically, of writing fantasy.

OFFICIAL BLURB: Jezzet Vel'urn is a trained swordswoman. She has rightfully earned the title Blademaster, and she knows that for a woman like her there are generally just two ways out of most hostile situations; fight or fornicate. All too often for Jezzet's liking, it comes down to some gods-be-damned combination of the two.

In The Heresy Within Jezzet is chased into the Wild by a vengeful warlord until she finally makes it to the sovereign city-state of Chade. But instead of sanctuary, she finds only more opportunistic bastards waiting to turn her over to her enemies.

Also figuring majorly in the story is Thanquil Darkheart, a sorcerer hunter called an Arbiter, tasked with hunting down and purging heretics for the Inquisition. Thanquil is given a task by the God Emperor of Sarth from which he has no escape. Lastly there’s the brutal outlaw called Black Thorn, best known perhaps for the killing of several Arbiters and possibly being one of the biggest names in the Wild for his proclivities.

All three of their fates seem to be converging on the Free City of Chade and, before long, Jezzet, Thanquil, and the Black Thorn will have to confront each other as they find themselves facing The Heresy Within.

FORMAT/INFO: The Heresy Within is divided into four sections with sixty POV chapters. The narration is in third person via Thanquil Darkheart, Jezzet Vel’urn and Betrim Thorn aka The Black Thorn. This is the first book of the Ties That Bind trilogy.

November 10, 2014 marks the American e-book publication of The Heresy Within via Ragnarok Publications. Cover illustration is provided by Alex Raspad.

CLASSIFICATION: The Heresy Within is a dark fantasy debut with terrific characterization and a twisted plotline that is very reminiscent of the works by Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Scott Lynch.

ANALYSIS: This book was originally self-published by the author last year and it completely blew my mind. When I first read it, I had no clue about this book but the blurb suggested a dark story and the excerpt that I read had me salivating as soon as I finished it. The story safe to say was far from a disappointment.

The story begins with Arbiter Thanquil Darkheart who is a member of the Inquisition that seeks to root out demons and those who practice the dark arts in the lands in and around the holy city of Sarth. They are an organization who based on the teachings of Volmar, and have dedicated their lives trying to burn heretics and forever stamp out the dark arts. Such dedication has given them the street title of “witch hunters” and it’s one that is actively discouraged as well. Thanquil is however not a typical arbiter and is just returning from a distant mission before he gets shanghaied into an even more dangerous one. 

Jezzet Vel’urn is a blademaster, she’s also a person who thinks more of day-to-day survival than anything else. Her troubles stem from a past friendship gone sour and before long she has to decide whether she will “fight or fuck her way” out of the shit headed her way. Lastly there’s Betrim the Black Thorn, mercenary, rogue and all round deadly murderer. His name echoes throughout the wilds as a name to be feared. Having lost a few digits on his hands and feet have made the Black Thorn extremely cautious in trusting folk even those among his crew but come long he will have to decide whether he wants to remembered as just a vile mercenary or something more.

That’s the basic gist of all the POV characters however there are more and all of them crazier and scarier than these POV ones. If I had to pinpoint the one single strength of this book, I would say it’s the characterization. Very few authors manage to write such terrific characters in their debut, only a few such as Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie and Anthony Ryan come to mind but now I believe we have another addition to this list. Rob J. Hayes who writes about lowlifes and scum but writes with such wonderful application that these very characters seem fascinating gems and before long have you hooked onto their antics. This is the best part of the story, and very reminiscent of Blake Crouch and J. A. Konrath’s serial killer thrillers wherein they explored the darker side of human depravity and power. 

Similarly the author herein focuses on people who frankly would be villains in most books however gives them three dimensional personas for the readers to enjoy reading about. Betrim, Thanquil and Jezzet are the main characters and they shine brightly through their chapters but it's also the side character cast such as Henry, Bones, Swift, etc that make the story so much more intriguing. The POV characters Thanquil, Jezzet and Betrim are all psychologically broken people however the way they cope with their problems is fascinating to read. Plus amid all the savagery, their semi-honorable actions seem even brighter as compared to the muck around them. Sure enough some of them are still scum, act crazy, commit violence in a wild manner upon each other and normal folk, however many of them become so interesting that the readers will be forced to turn the pages to get to know them better as well as their sides of the story. This was what I loved so much about this debut, the terrific characterization, the unpredictable plot-line with all the action and bleakness.

There are plot twists galore as the story hardly moves in the direction that the readers would expect and in the end the author makes sure that the rules of the world are obeyed in the sense that no character is truly safe. The author also subverts several fantasy tropes by not following conventional storylines Case in point the God Emperor of Sarth was a farm boy who was revealed to be a human incarnation of Volmar. However the author doesn't focus on this and mentions it and moves on to the juicy parts.  There are quite a few deaths and so I would recommend that readers not read the blurb of the next books to not spoil their reads. The ending is very Abercrombie-like wherein situations are resolved but the characters are put through a psychological and physical grinder of sorts. All in all this is a kind of debut that you definitely don’t want to miss because as soon as you finish this book, you’ll want to start the next one and then the one after that. The great news is that the next couple will be released  soon and therefore ready to be devoured.

Now moving onto the parts of the book that seem to be a bit deficient, namely the worldbuilding front. Sure enough there is enough history and geography provided to make it seem three dimensional but because the story focuses so much on characters and action, some readers who might want to know more of the surrounding world might not be satisfied. This book is without a map and so for cartophiles it’s a bit of a negative. Lastly those who don’t like dark fantasy or grey characters please, please avoid this book at all costs as you definitely will not be able to stomach it for all its brutality, gore and graphic nature. There's also quite a few situations and characters that come on to the main stage without any explanation and so I hope their status and back-stories will be explained in the succeeding volumes.

CONCLUSION: Who is Rob J. Hayes, I don’t know entirely but I’m willing to bet that before the year ends, many readers will have heard his name and also become fans of his. The Heresy Within is a debut and like 2012’s Blood Song is an absolute gem. If you like Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch or Mark Lawrence, make sure this is your next book. If you want a dark journey filled with action, betrayals and truly magnificent bastards of characters then The Heresy Within is the book that you should seek. DO NOT MISS IT!
Monday, November 3, 2014

Kindle First Digital Launch Scavenger Hunt Event for TICKER by Lisa Mantchev - Visit the Flying Fortress






Fantasy Book Critic is pleased to welcome Lisa Mantchev as she celebrates the Kindle First digital launch of her new novel, TICKER. We are one of many blog stops that are part of a wonderful and fun scavenger hunt.

Join us in welcoming Lisa Mantchev, learning about her new book and traveling the world that is created in it, and of course – take part in a scavenger hunt to win a Kindle Paperwhite! Grab your hunting skills and let's get started!

Meet Lisa Mantchev


Lisa Mantchev is a temporally-displaced Capricorn who casts her spells from an ancient tree in the Pacific Northwest. She is best known as the author of the young adult fantasy trilogy, The Théâtre Illuminata. Published by Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan,) the series includes the Andre Norton and Mythopoeic awards-nominated EYES LIKE STARS (2009), PERCHANCE TO DREAM (2010), and SO SILVER BRIGHT (2011.)

Learn About TICKER


When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.

On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings...or is the motive more sinister?

Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

Let the Scavenger Hunt BEGIN


To celebrate the Kindle First digital launch of TICKER by Lisa Mantchev, the Farthing family would like to loan you your very own Vitesse motorized high-wheeled bicycle and messenger bag. Venture out into the city of Bazalgate to see the sights and retrieve six items necessary to celebrate with Penny and her friends. When you are done, remit the list for a chance to win your very own Kindle Paperwhite customized with the TICKER cover!

Contest open to US residents. Email entries to lisa@lisamantchev.com with the subject line “TICKER Paperwhite Giveaway”. Deadline for entry is midnight PST on November 15th. Winner will be announced here on November 16th.

THE FLYING FORTRESS

Any rejoinder I might have made evaporated with the clouds as the Flying Fortress came into view. Sunlight glinted off white columns and sleek glass architecture. Smaller satellite buildings clustered around a singularly imposing main structure, like chicks to a mother hen. Under it all, turbines produced the necessary amount of thrust to keep everything aloft. I hadn’t any idea what the power source might be, nor could I fathom how Marcus’s engineers achieved a nearly clean burn, but the utter lack of emissions meant that the air around the Fortress was cold water sipped from a crystal goblet, a far cry from Bazalgate’s soot-smudged tankard. I adjusted my goggles and leaned as far out of the SkyDart as my lap belt allowed.

Item to retrieve : set of Ferrum Viriae bracelets

ONWARD to adventure, glory and teatime!

SUGARWERKS FULLY AUTOMATED BAKERY  - Lisa Mantchev
FARTHING COGS & RIVETS FACTORY - Team Nerd Reviews
GLASSHOUSE - Fangirlish
PENNY’S BEDROOM - Emma Michaels
BIBLIOTHÈCA - E. Catherine Tobler

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “Blood & Royalty”
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “The Abyss Beyond Dreams”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “Unholy War”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “Station Eleven”

Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “The Knight”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “The Dark Defiles”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “Tom Swan and The Siege of Belgrade 1”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “City of Stairs”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “Bete”
Review HERE