Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley

With the giants of epic fantasy taking longer and longer between installments, genre aficionados are constantly looking for the next big thing and if the hype is to be believed Brian Staveley's debut The Emperor's Blade may just be it. With a familiar plot structure, characters that are comfortably similar to old fictional friends, and a subtle magical system that begs to be explored in more depth there is certainly plenty to recommend in this first volume. Whether or not the strength of Staveley's story telling can overcome the essential sameness of it all and the few problematic choices in his handling of female characters is the real question.

Interview with Myke Cole

I've been meaning to interview Myke Cole for a long time. I've been fortunate enough to have him write a guest post during my Spec. Fic 101 series and he took part in an excellent round table that just never managed to find its way to completion, so I was pleased that he agreed to be interviewed about his newest release Breach Zone. We ran the gamut from questions about his process, the genesis of his excellent series, talent versus doing the work, and influences as wide as comics, history and film, This interview turned out to be one my favorites and Myke brings his usual brand of plain talk and straight answers to the table. If you haven't read his work, I can't recommend it highly enough. If you have, then I hope that this interview will shed some light on the story behind the story and the man behind the Britton, Bookbinder, Harlequin, and Scylla.

Friday, January 17, 2014

YA Spotlight: Origin by Jessica Khoury

One of my reviewing goals for 2014 is to review more Young Adult titles. So I'm going to read a minimum of one YA novel each month. After seeing a blurb for Jessica Khoury's debut novel Origin somewhere on the interwebs a month or two back, I picked up a copy and poured through it in a day. With an premise that hooked me from the first few pages and a protagonist that is easy to cheer for, Origin is just the kind of young adult novel I plan to recommend to my daughter when she's older. With an engaging premise and real emotional heft, Khoury has earned a place on my fiction radar.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Breach Zone by Myke Cole

Reading Myke Cole's newest novel has become a bit of a New Year's tradition for me. Fortress Frontier was the first book I read in 2013, and Control Point was one of the first of 2012. This year has been no different, Breach Zone was my first novel this year and it certainly set the bar for the rest of the year. It's been awesome to watch Cole's career and work evolve over the last few years and he really knocks it out of the park with the conclusion to the Shadow Ops series. While I was expecting improvement over his last effort, Cole delivers a novel so much better than his last that there is no doubt that he's earned his place as one of the most watched authors in the genre. With pulse hammering action around every corner this novel could have become just a sequence of strung together set pieces with magic and missiles flying, but Cole layers the narrative with hard truths about duty and service, community and redemption. Breach Zone has a giant heart inside its bruised and battered chest and that's the real key to its success.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge: The Jackdaw's Wire & Lessons Learned

Like many avid readers and reviewers I've always wanted to be a writer. I've started many a manuscript that've gone unfinished due to countless unimportant reasons. But my New Year's Resolution this year is a simple one. Write, and finish what you start. So with that in mind when I stumbled across a Flash Fiction Challenge at Chuck Wendig's excellent blog, I decided to get cracking. The resulting story, for good or ill is posted below. Read it if you like, or move on. I'm posting it as a way of making myself accountable and maybe inspiring other wannabe writers in the pursuit of their dreams. After the piece, I'm going to talk a little about the challenges and lessons I found in the exercise.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Iron Night by M.L. Brennan

Urban Fantasy has a bit of a mixed reputation. Many folks see it as an excuse to write erotic detective novels with a cast made up of undead, werewolves, and as many other supernatural beasties as possible. I've never really gotten the appeal of that style novels preferring my urban fantasy to be a more action flick than soap opera. Which puts me firmly in the camp of avoiding any novel with a protagonist that seems to fit that mold. Which basically means vampires as a major part of the cast are essentially a deal breaker for me. M.L. Brennan's Generation V was an exception to that rule. With a protagonist is who is still refreshingly human despite his vampire status and an intriguing, original take on the vampire mythos Brennan set the stage for a urban fantasy novel that I could not only enjoy, but I could recommend to friends without fear of anyone casting aspersions on my masculinity. The sequel, Iron Night was one of my most anticipated novels of the year, and Brennan didn't let me down delivering a superior sequel that offers the perfect balance of humor, heart and action that left me hating myself for devouring the novel so quickly.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Coming Attractions: My Most Anticipated Novels of 2014

With the holidays at a close, and a pile of books that need to be read, I thought I'd list just a few of the upcoming releases that have me salivating in anticipation for their release. This is by no means an exhaustive list as I have left off novels that I couldn't find cover art for and releases in series where I am woefully behind. I plan on making a decided effort to catch up on a few authors that I've just discovered or have found my neglecting for newer shinier releases. Take a look and tell me if there is any upcoming novels you think should be added to my list in the comments below. 

Breach Zone by Myke Cole: