Sunday, July 9, 2017
Author: C.T. Phipps
Publisher: Macabre Ink
Release Date: April 15, 2017
Length: 196 pages
Peter Stone, or just Stone as he likes to be called, is at a bit of a loss. Here he is, one of the mighty undead, who are finally out of the coffin after bailing out the US after a financial collapse, a Vampire and Iraq war vet, and he cant seem to catch a break. No fancy clothes, no riches, no sports cars or exotic models looking to be his thralls. Instead, he's working at a low paying convenience store, exiled from the vampire society, and his only thrall is David, who is no ones idea of a model.
He's going nowhere fast, until one day David tells him that someone has OD'd in the bathroom of the store. Stone checks it out, and it's worse than that. Someone has dumped a newly changed vampire in the bathroom, mad with blood lust. Well, that can't be good. After attacking Stone, she is subdued, and they discover she was an anti monster activist. They then discover she was turned by an overpowered vampire who used to be a Templar Knight who is almost unkillable, and has been hunting vampires since the middle ages. Stone takes her to see Thoth, his Creator and one of the Masters of New Detroit.
This starts a chain reaction of events, as a power play is taking place, with the Templar trying to take out the lead vampires and some lower rank vampires making moves of their own, which leads to Stone's and crew's final confrontation with the Templar and his expendable allies, with Stone being spectacularly outclassed but still struggling to win in the end.
This is the type of book I expect CT Phipps to write. Comedic, but with interesting characters, much deeper than you'd expect world building, great villains (a real strength of all his books) and a plot that just keeps racing along. Even the supporting characters are fleshed out, which is another strength of this writer. The pop culture references also fly fast and furious, everything from Twilight to Star Wars, again, something he does in all his books.
The only thing I had any issues with was the final battle with the Templar. While it had a satisfying conclusion, it was a bit quick. I suspect that might have been intentional, but it was something unusual for this author. Other than that minor point, this was one excellent novel.
I know that it will soon be on Audible, and can't wait to hear this book brought to life. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who is into urban fantasy or likes a good supernatural romp. You wont be disappointed.
Friday, June 16, 2017
Author: J. A Hunter
Publisher: Shadow Alley Press
Release Date: Dec 23, 2016 (ebook)/ April 20, 2017 (audio)
Length: 306 Pages/ 8 hrs, 44 mins (audio)
Narrated by Armen Taylor
LitRPG has been a hit or miss genre to me since I discovered it a couple years ago. While there are some really good books in it, there are also some that just seem to be trying to cash in by writing a generic story which just adds stats/leveling up and dungeon crawls and loot drops to be called LitRPG and grab onto the popularity the genre is currently having. That being said, Viridian Gate Online: Cateclysm, is not one of those. It is, in fact, my favorite title in the Genre, surpassing the Way of the Shaman series. Thats a pretty good recommendation in my opinion.
Viridian Gate Online (VGO) has a fairly unique premise. The story starts off with Jack, an EMT, conflicted over whether he should get into the immersion pod for VGO provided to him by an old college friend that works for the company that developed VGO. The reason he is conflicted is that if he gets in and stays 72 hours, one of 2 things will happen. He could stay in, and his mind would be mapped and digitized and he would remain in the game as his character, Grim Jack, forever. However, his body would shut down and he would only survive ingame. however, there is a one in 6 chance he would die before that in the tank, his mind rejecting the transition, and he would just be dead instead.
However, this is all kind of a moot point, since in 9 days, almost everyone will be dead. Yes, you heard that right. There is a 9 mile wide asteroid, 213 Astraea, headed for Earth, projected to land just off the coast of Greenland. Well, that's an extinction level event, so, game over, so to speak. Except for the ridiculously wealthy and survival lottery winners, planning to live in deep earth bunkers, the only way to "survive" is to immerse in VGO, where your digitized mind will survive in the 7 great over mind servers buried deep underground. Well, since Jack is the main character of the story, you can guess which path he chose.
After immersing himself in the game, Jack goes into the character development screen. He goes through the character race types, and picks Murk Elf for himself (think dark elf) type, liking some of the character's natural bonuses. Being an experienced MMO gamer, Jack knows he has lots of choices in class for himself down the line, and the game doesn't force a class choice immediately. After he sets up the character, she starts the game play. He awakens in a cage in a dungeon lab, where someone has been vivisecting people. Not the most promising start to a game! There is another prisoner named Cutter, a thief, who offers to help him escape what apparently is some evil dark priest's torture dungeon. No place they want to hang out in.
They make their escape, although along the way they discover an old Murk Elf woman on the edge of death. She charges Jack to return her medallion to her tribe, to let them know how she dies. She also unlocks the shadow spark in Jack, allowing him some access to special abilities. This is now a quest for Jack, with the attendant quest requirements and rewards attached to it. After their escape, Cutter takes Jack to his city, where he introduces Jack to the local thieves union hall, since thieves don't have a guild.
What starts here is the adventures Jack expected, since after some training, he goes on a series of adventures, collecting loot, leveling up, basically doing what everyone does in an RPG. After being contacted by his old college friend Abbie, he takes a teleport scroll and goes to meet her with Cutter. This start some adventures and quests Jack must undertake to advance.
Later on Jack meets up with Abbie. She explains she discovered irregularities in the code of VGO, that rich people have paid to have restricted areas and quests set aside, so that they could easily level up and gain legendary level weapons and gear, basically cheating to create a paradise with themselves at the top of the food chain. Abbie wants to end around that and see if they can circumvent it. They then start the set of adventures and quests that will determine the fate of VGO. Will it just be a rich persons paradise with everyone else a serf, or will it be a chance to excel for all? What follows is a set of epic adventures and quests, which test the mettle, heart and skills of Grim Jack and Cutter, meeting a wide assortment of characters and completing more and more challenging quests, all while finding out even deeper truths about VGO, and about what the world truly faces in game. He will have to make some life and death choices that will affect many more people than himself.
This book is a must read for any fan of LitRPG, or fan of good writing, actually. The characters are phenomenal, with Jack and Cutter being the standouts, but even the secondary characters and even the monsters are well drawn out. The dialogue is tight, and there is real emotional punch to the story. The world building is epic in scale, but so well described you feel as though you are right there in the thick of things, which is all you can ask from a writer. You can tell there is a much larger world and story out there, and that we are just being introduced to something grand.
Narration wise, Armen Taylor does a great job bringing each character to life. They all have their own personalities, quirks and voices. He uses tone, inflection and accent to differentiate each character. Overall, a top notch performance.
I can't stress enough how much I enjoyed this book. I truly believe it is the best LitRPG on the market today, and I hope the author has huge success with it and keeps writing more! I for one, will be in line to get the next installment.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Author: David Guenther
Publisher: David Guenther
Release Date: Jabuary 7, 2016 (ebook)/ February 25, 2016 (audio)
Length: 226 pages/ 6 hrs, 16 mins.
Narrated by Liam Owen
30 years after Iran nuked Washington DC and we basically wasted them in response, the surviving government suspended half the bill of rights, confiscated guns and had half the military desert or resign rather than attack US citizen. What followed was a huge growth in Homeland Security contractors to take their place, enforcing the draconian "security".
This is the country Dan "D2" Daniels, a retired Army Sgt. Major, finds himself. When Dan goes down into an abandoned mine he hopes to find some gold in, he comes across a cavern with a spaceship that has been there for a hundred years. The ship is from a more advanced race that is peaceful, and it tells him that earth will be invaded in twenty years by a violent alien race. The ship, called Grub, agrees to help Dan prepare the Earth to repel the invaders, starting by making him young and healthy again, although his face is still that of a 70 year old man.
So begins the adventure of a lifetime, as Dan starts recruiting old vets into his group to prepare to take the country back from the disease of corruption that has shredded the Constitution and prepare to defend the Earth from invasion. They are going to save the Earth, no matter the cost or the obstacles thrown in their way. With a large diverse group of interesting characters, an all too believable setting in a totalitarian Socialist America, and interesting technology, along with pulse pounding battle scenes and close quarters fights, this will appeal to any fan of military science fiction.
Liam Owen, who also narrated Steven Campbell's Hard Luck Hank series, does an excellent job of creating great voices for the various characters. He gives them a real world weary quality, and his narrative pace is excellent, with great tone and inflection.
This is just a good old fashioned sci fi tale, not hard sci fi, but just a sci fi action story, and that's ok. Not everything needs to be a deep introspective look into hard science or social commentary. Sometimes, a story is just meant to entertain, which this one does. I can't wait to get into book 2. If it is as good as this one, this may easily become one of my favorite sci fi series.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
Authors: Brian Keene and Steven L. Shrewsbury
Publisher: Apex Book Company (paper and ebook)/ Beacon Audiobooks (audio)
Release Date: July 21st, 2015 (paper and ebook)/ May 12, 2017 (audio)
Length: 163 pages /5 hrs, 23 mins
Narrated by Doug Greene
I picked this up on a whim, liking the idea that someone wrote an unabashed old school pulp fantasy. I wasn't disappointed! This reads like an old RE Howard Conan book, only one where Conan had his kingdom, tired of the throne and passed his kingdom on to his heir to rule while he want back out and had more adventures. All this takes place in a pre Hyperborea Earth, so some of the countries and places will sound similar. If that sounds intriguing, this is the book for you.
While on a fishing trip off one of his old ally states, in a bireme of all things, his ship is attacked by a tentacled horror, Pirates, and then zombies after the ship is destroyed. Before the ship sank, though, Rogan is told by the lead pirate he was sent by Logan's unknown bastard son, and he has conquered his kingdom and imprisoned the rightful king, and are raping and pillaging across his kingdom. They end up on a beach in unfamiliar territory and discover a tribe of natives. The native, and a group of Amazons who happen to be staying with the natives, agree to help them get home if they get rid of the evil necromancer and his demon on the top of the local mountain. Well, needs must, so if off to slay the wizard.
What follows is a wild trip to the mountain, with the invertible co mingling with the Amazons, with hilarious results.The climb up the mountain is crazy, and the fight after involving magic, strange science and even a dash of time travel is just gonzo fun. This being pulp fiction, you can probably figure out how it ends. It is a lot of fun right through to the end.
The characters are all larger than life Conan archetypes. Rogan is big, powerful and an epic warrior, even pushing 60. His nephew and aide is also an epic warrior. The Amazons are all beautiful, even with the one breast missing (traditional Amazons) and great warriors, all while being wildcats in bed. This is certainly not a PC kind of title. Its much more old school, and I think it is an under served market in the current marketplace. While they may be over the top, they are entertaining. The settings are well thought out and described, and fit the story well. The plot is fast paced, and relies on a lot of action to keep things moving.You just don't see this kind of book written too much anymore, sadly.
Doug Greene's narration was solid, keeping the story moving and giving the characters their own voices. Very good effort on his part.
If you are into the kind of fantasy RE Howard was writing, this is something you may want to check out. I know I am looking forward to any sequels.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Brian D. Anderson Becomes the First Indie Author to Get A Six-Figure Audiobook-Only Contract
"A deal of this magnitude proves once and for all that indie authors are on par with Big Five authors," Anderson said. "If anyone in publishing still has any doubts about the strength and quality of independently published books, this should go a long way to shatter that belief."
Anderson's literary agent, Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary, described the deal for these books as a fierce battle among audiobook producers similar to the plots of her client's books.
"Audible was the hero of the day, swooping in and winning Brian's books over some major competition,"
ABOUT THE GODLING CHRONICLES
The Godling Chronicles recounts the adventures of Gewey Stedding as he fights against the Dark Knight and his minions who have stolen The Sword of Truth from the gods, trapping them in heaven and bringing darkness to the world. With the Sword, the Reborn King can reshape the world and bring death to all who oppose him. It is epic fantasy at its best with elves, monsters, gods and a hero who must reach far beyond himself to save the world.
ABOUT BRIAN D. ANDERSON
Brian D. Anderson is the best-selling indie author of three fantasy series: The Godling Chronicles, Dragonvein, and Akiri (co-written with Steven Savile). His books have sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide. Brian lives in Fairhope, Alabama with his wife and son. For more information about Brian, visit his author page at Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/
ABOUT FUSE LITERARY
Fuse Literary is a new type of hybrid literary agency, blending the knowledge and skills of traditional book publishing with the brash new opportunities engendered by digital publishing, self-publishing, ebooks, social media, and technology. The company has offices in California, New York, North Dakota, Vancouver, Dallas, and Chicago. Founding partners Laurie McLean and Gordon Warnock are joined by agents Connor Goldsmith, Emily Keyes, Michelle Richter, Jennifer Chen Tran, Tricia Skinner, Margaret Bail and Carlie Webber. For more, visit www.fuseliterary.com or follow us on Twitter @FuseLiterary.
For more information contact:
Brian D. Anderson, 347-768-1654, thegodlingchronicles@
Laurie McLean, Fuse Literary, 650-922-0914, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Monday, May 1, 2017
Author: Kenny Soward
Publisher: Broken Dog Press
Release Date: Jan 3rd, 2017 (ebook)/ April 11, 2018 (Audio)
Length: 127 pages / 4 hrs, 7 mins.
Narrator: Scott Aiello
Lonnie, runner for the Eighth Street gang, has a feeling something about his life isn't right. He is the lowest member of the gang, used for running deliveries of drugs and going to the store for supplies. He just keeps feeling something isn't right, and keeps having wild dreams of another world where he is flying on a dragons back fighting airships! When he gets a frantic call from a gang member to meet them out back of the clubhouse and be prepared for violence, he doesn't expect to see what he does, as the club members are being attacked by supernatural creatures! After watching his gang leader Selix use magic after getting high to defeat the invaders, Lonnie is thoroughly confused, and even more so after she uses her powers to wipe away the memory. The memories are starting to refuse to stay buried though, and after the club is attacked again, Lonnie learns he has been kept in a memory wiped daze to protect him, since the beings hunting him could sense him if he had his memories. Lonnie and the other gang members are refugees from a lost war in another dimension, which one I wont tell because that would be a huge spoiler. This new knowledge Leeds to a climactic confrontation with the forces hunting for Lonnie, and his life will never be the same again, as he finally gets his memories back and realizes just who he really is, and what that means. Nothing will be the same again and he needs to decide what actions to take from that point on.
This is not the typical urban fantasy, with the usual wizard detective or some such. The Eighth Streeters are a violent drug gang, due to their upbringing. They have a much more varied past than you'd expect, hinted at through conversations. It is an interesting mix of characters, and they bicker and fight as any group in close quarters would be expected to. The hidden secret the gang hides does explain quite a lot of their actions, and when it finally explodes in violence, it is much larger than you'd expect. Even though the characters are more anti-hero than hero, you can still get to like them, and appreciate the lengths they go through to protect Lonnie.
The setting is grimy and well drawn out, and not some place you'd want to visit. It takes place in Cincinnati, not the normal Chicago or LA of UF novels, so that was interesting, and you can almost see the grime on the street and smell the reek of the sewers as explained in the book. Overall, a well drawn out world.
Scott Aiello, who also narrated the author's Gnome Saga books, did an excellent job bringing the various characters to life. Each character has his or her own unique voice, and he has a great touch with tone, pitch and cadence. His narration is always top notch, never lagging or monotonous. 5 star effort all the way around.
Monday, April 24, 2017
Author: CT Phipps and Michael Suttkus
Publisher: Crossroads Press
Release Date: October 13, 2016 (ebook)/ May 17, 2017 (audio)
Length: 300 Pages/10 hours and 20 minutes
Narrated by Eric Burns
What would you do if you found out the cause you struggled and sacrificed so much for, the very nation you fought for, was actually the bad side, the greater of two evils? How would you reconcile that in your mind? That is the issue Cassius Mass, the Fire Count, ex-Crius Archduchy Fighter pilot and noble, as well as the clone of a noble, has to deal with five years after his side lost the last war against the Commonwealth.
He has been on the run, hiding, and for a time, fighting against the people who brought down his country and killed all those he loved in a night of fire and death. Now he is navigator on a space freighter, just keeping a low profile hoping he will be forgotten. When his lover Isla tells him she knows who he is, and reveals her own secret, that she is a bioroid (a human body with a robotic brain), this touches off a series of events that will effect the power of the galaxy as its known. The ship's Captain Ida is secretly a commonwealth Watcher (Think secret police), and she too knows who Cassius is, and she will get him a pardon and get his fortune released if he agrees to perform a task for her. This task it to infiltrate a ship and get Ida's intel source out, with the vital information she has. The problem? After they get onto the ship, Cassius discovers the source is his dead sister Zoe, or at least her duplicate bioroid, and the secrets she carries could bring down the commonwealth or the Crius resistance and even draw in aliens into a conflict with humanity! The story continues on with a series of adventures, double and triple crosses, betrayals, tortures and revelations about the crew and about the nature of the ultimate enemy, leading to the climactic final scenes where Cassius must decide which side, if any, to ally himself with, all while staying true to his own beliefs. All in all, one incredibly complex and deep dark science fiction plot.
As with all CT Phipps books, this one is very character driven. As good as all the sci fi elements are, the complexity of the plot is, it is the characters that drive everything. From Cassius, the war hero pilot who was cloned by a powerful noble to displace his two natural born children, and has struggled to follow his own path, to Isla, the beautiful burned bioroid who was a pleasure slave and is now struggling to be free against her programming, to Clarice, Isla's other lover and a woman with a past as deep as Cassius, the cast of characters all have many hidden layers. their motivations make sense in the context of their environments. They all have interesting back stories, which are slowly drawn out throughout the book. This group of characters is very much an example of reactions showcasing nature vs. nurture. Can a noble's clone from an amoral society built on slavery and privilege, a feudal society in all but name, safeguard the lives of those that in a previous life he wouldn't have given a whit about? Can a bioroid pleasure slave violate her programming and fight for what she believes in? These are the types of quandaries the characters have to deal with, and so many more. When these characters all find out what is behind all the plots, will they stay and fight, or cut and run? You'll have to read it to find out, but it is worth the time investment.
The plot is very complex, with many twists and turns, betrayals, double and even triple crosses. It seemed everyone in the book had at least one secret, and many of the characters had multiple secrets. As always, even when dealing with very dark subject matter, CT Phipps manages to inject some humor and snark into the proceedings, keeping this from turning into Grimdark Game of Thrones in space. The characters are all relatable on some level, which is not something every writer excels at creating, but which this author has always managed. As you read further in the book, new layers open up before you, sucking you deeper into the story. The sci fi elements are all really well executed, and there are even a few new touches for the genre that definitely have the WOW factor to them. Definitely a treat for sci fi fans.
The narration work is handled by Eric Burns. I was surprised at how well a relative newcomer like Eric handled the various voices, from the crew of the Melampus to the various other worlders and the Chel. He does a great job creating various voices through tone and cadence for the various male and female characters. His narration was steady, varying pitch and speed to the action.All in all, an excellent job bringing the story and characters to life.
The author is working on the sequel, and I can't wait to get into it! You will find yourself getting invested in these various characters, and wanting to see where their next adventure takes them. The story theme, that struggles like this are more shades of grey, rather than black and white, are topical in any time. I cant recommend this book highly enough to any fans of sci fi or thrillers. It is in a class all its own!