Review: Canyon Shadows (Dark Tyrant #2) by C.R. Langille

Canyon ShadowsDisclaimer: I consider myself friends with the author, via the graduate writing program we both attended. However, I purchased the hardcopy version of this novel for full price.

Though this book is the second in a shared world of stories, you do not have to read the first in order to get full enjoyment from this novel (which I think is actually a prequel, anyway). Set in our contemporary world, this story features a fascinating mix of mythologies, Christian and indigenous North American, which complement each other to good effect over the course of the plot. The combination starts with a fascinating archaeological mystery and ends with an epic showdown.  Continue reading

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Review: Bookburners (Season 1) created by Max Gladstone

Bookburners S1Also written by Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery

I first learned about Bookburners and the modern concept of the serial novel through a blog post at Speculative Chic. I was intrigued by both the format and the story premise, so downloaded the first season on my Kindle. It languished for a while, as most things on my Kindle do, until my most recent trip out of town.

I read fairly fast, so it was actually odd to spend so much of my trip on a single book. I worried that I’d be inclined to break up the 16 episodic installments with other reading alternatives, but the story line managed to hook me and keep me going without gratuitous use of cliffhangers. The characters were the perfect mix of unique, heroic, and flawed, and I may have gasped out loud during one particular revelation.   Continue reading

Review: While the Black Stars Burn by Lucy A. Snyder

While the Black Stars BurnIn the spirit of Halloween month, I was asked by a fellow blogger to participate in her round-up of monster discussions. In looking for a way to talk about Cthulu, when I have very limited experience in the horror genre in general and H.P. Lovecraft in particular, I remembered a book that’s been sitting on my “to be read” shelf for an embarrassingly long time.

I steeled myself with bright lights and espresso and dove out of my comfort zone! You can find my in-depth look at Lucy A. Snyder’s While the Black Stars Burn at MNBernard Books!  Continue reading

But I’m not a horror writer!: STEEL BLOOD Blog Tour Stop #11

Yesterday, we got a look at the more “human” side of my main character, the vampire Victory (over here, if you missed it). And while I love that scene, it’s not unique — being a vampire is just part of who Victory is, which also includes being a partner, a mother, a politician, a mercenary, etc. Today, fellow RDSP author Maria Alexander asked me to talk about why I write urban fantasy for a primarily horror publisher. Well, it’s because I think the monsters are people, too. A quick look:

Urban fantasy allows me to explore that sense of “otherness” using the supernatural, just as science-fiction has been teaching us about humanity through the lens of alien races for decades. Though still incorporating elements of monstrousness, supernatural creatures can be an equal part of society in open-world urban fantasy. That unique facet draws me in, and challenges me to create well-rounded characters no matter their species.

While you’re there, be sure to check out BOTH of Alexander’s award-winning RDSP novels, Mr Wicker and Snowed. She’s also much better at using her blog as an actual blog than I am, and there are some great gems. (Not that any of you have complained about my book reviews, thankfully.)


Tomorrow, author Jacob Baugher asked me to answer some interview questions about both my writing and Steel Blood!

Book Spotlight & Review: HOUNDS OF THE UNDERWORLD (Path of Ra #1) by Dan Rabarts & Lee Murray

Hounds of the UnderworldToday is release day for the newest Raw Dog Screaming Press authors: Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray! I read this book ages ago, and I’ve been so excited to share it with all of you.


ABOUT THE BOOK

On the verge of losing her laboratory, her savings, and all respect for herself, Pandora (Penny) Yee lands her first contract as scientific consult to the police department. And with seventeen murder cases on the go, the surly inspector is happy to leave her to it. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged adopted brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving. But something about the case spooks Matiu, something other than the lack of a body in the congealing pool of blood in the locked room or that odd little bowl.

Matiu doesn’t like anything about this case, from the voices that screamed at him when he touched that bowl, to the way his hateful imaginary friend Makere has come back to torment him, to the fact that the victim seems to be tied up with a man from Matiu’s past, a man who takes pleasure in watching dogs tear each other to pieces for profit and entertainment.

Hounds of the Underworld blends mystery, near-future noir and horror. Set in New Zealand it’s the product of a collaboration by two Kiwi authors, one with Chinese heritage and the other Māori. This debut book in The Path of Ra series offers compelling new voices and an exotic perspective on the detective drama.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Raw Dog Screaming Press


REVIEW

Disclaimer: The authors and I share a publisher. I received a hardcopy version of this book as a thank you for proofing an earlier version of the text.

On the surface, this book doesn’t seem to have a lot that would appeal to me as a reader. In an alternate universe, I probably bought a copy to support the fellow authors who write for the same indie press that I do and quietly left it on a shelf with a promise to read it “someday” (sadly, true for some books in our own universe). Instead, my editor asked me to read an earlier version of the submitted text with the promise that I’d make it through the horror bits okay.

I’m glad I did. I loved so much about this book.  Continue reading

Meet Penny and Matiu from HOUNDS OF THE UNDERWORLD!

Hounds of the UnderworldThis Wednesday, a new novel from the writing team of Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts will be released from Raw Dog Screaming Press! They quickly embraced the spirit of family that I love about RDSP, and jumped on the idea when I suggested a bit of cross-promotion since our newest books are arriving a week apart. Today, I’m interviewing their main characters, while they’re returning the favor with Victory on their blogs!

Hounds of the Underworld (The Path of Ra Book One) is now available for pre-order. I’ll post my review of this excellent near-future supernatural noir murder mystery on Wednesday!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Raw Dog Screaming Press


ABOUT THE BOOK

On the verge of losing her laboratory, her savings, and all respect for herself, Pandora (Penny) Yee lands her first contract as scientific consult to the police department. And with seventeen murder cases on the go, the surly inspector is happy to leave her to it. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged adopted brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving. But something about the case spooks Matiu, something other than the lack of a body in the congealing pool of blood in the locked room or that odd little bowl.

Matiu doesn’t like anything about this case, from the voices that screamed at him when he touched that bowl, to the way his hateful imaginary friend Makere has come back to torment him, to the fact that the victim seems to be tied up with a man from Matiu’s past, a man who takes pleasure in watching dogs tear each other to pieces for profit and entertainment.

Hounds of the Underworld blends mystery, near-future noir and horror. Set in New Zealand it’s the product of a collaboration by two Kiwi authors, one with Chinese heritage and the other Māori. This debut book in The Path of Ra series offers compelling new voices and an exotic perspective on the detective drama.


[Note: The characters in the following interview refer to me as Hanna, my real name.]

What’s your favourite place to be?

Penny: My favourite place? The lab. Without question. Partly because it’s mine — well, it will be just as soon as I can pay Dad back the money I borrowed to set it up. Even a standard benchtop DNA sequencer will put a big hole in your bank account, let alone the consumables. Anyway, the lab is my space. I love everything about it: the straight lines of the epoxy benches, the waft of cold air when I open the cold store, and the scent of Decon cleanser. I guess that’ll be the potassium hydroxide. I share the lab with my technician, Beaker. Beak came with me when I left LysisCo, my last place of employ, and he’s a real asset to Yee Scientific, although he will insist on hanging his lab coat on the wrong hook.

Matiu: Tough question. I haven’t got a favourite place so much, unless you count being behind the wheel. I like it because… going places, you know? Being on the road, the hiss of the tyres, scenery drifting by. I like driving, and I’m lucky, I know, because of my dad and the job and all, but, yeah, that’s my time. My favourite “place”, know what I mean? I like it, because it gives me a little bit of peace and quiet, in my head. Time to think for myself, without anyone else… getting to me.  Continue reading

Review: THE EIGHTH by Stephanie M. Wytovich

eighthDisclaimer: The author and I share a publisher for her poetry collections and I consider her a friend. However, I purchased a hardcopy version of this novel for full price.


I hate starting reviews with “I don’t usually read this genre, but…” In this case, however, it’s 100% true. I’m not a horror reader (or viewer). It’s not my chosen form of escapism. However, I’ve been in love with Dante’s Inferno since the first time I read it in high school, and I because I’m lucky enough to know this author personally, I was intrigued by Wytovich’s version of Hell.

I could have easily devoured this book in mere hours, but I took my time in order to stop and reflect on a regular basis. Comparing The Eighth to Inferno does both books a disservice, because they both serve very different purposes. In Inferno, you shadow Dante and Plato through a sterile museum tour filled with curiosities and historical tidbits. In The Eighth, Wytovich drags you kicking and screaming in Paimon and Arazel’s wake, thrusting you into the gory trenches, forcing you to be a participant rather than a spectator. Not only is it a different view of Hell, but it’s a more visceral experience that provides its own agony and depth. Continue reading