Tuesday, 1 April 2014

I'm very excited today to have author Janet Morris on my blog talking about the events in her life that enabled her to get inside the hearts and minds of her heroes. Janet and Chris Morris contributed the short story "Black Sword" to the Nine Heroes anthology recently published by Stencil Press. I was privileged to be copy-editor on this work and so I know how brilliant the collection is.
Read Janet's post and then follow the link below to get your copy of Nine Heroes!

In the anthology Nine Heroes, Chris Morris and I introduce our hero, Rhesos of Thrace, who was killed by Diomedes at Troy and resurrected by his mother, the Muse Kalliope.  When we meet Rhesos, he’s hazy about the circumstances surrounding his death and resurrection, but he knows what he is:  a hero of mythological proportions.  And so he begins a journey to reclaim his memories, his past, and revenge some wrongs done him.

To write heroic fiction, fantasy, or mythic tales, you must feel the hero in your blood, hear the call in your heart.  These were the moments that started me on the hero’s journey:

I was three years old, and female, playing with three or four older children, all boys, on our street.  The fattest, biggest boy punched me in the stomach, and he and his friends dragged me into a garage and locked me in a closet there.  I screamed until, somehow, my parent’s handyman heard and rescued me.  I can still remember those big black arms, enfolding me, picking me up, and my head against his shoulder, looking back at the horrified boys.  My parents questioned me, and did the rest.  I never knew what happened, beyond the fact that those four boys never troubled me again.

I was four years old, playing in a mud puddle, and the dalmation who lived down at the end of our street charged me and bit me.  The family story goes that I threw myself on his back and bit him in the neck.

I was six years old, in the first grade, and was made teacher’s helped because I could already read and write.  I was assigned to help a slow-witted boy learn how to write his name but instead of listening, he crumpled up his paper, grabbed the crayon from my hand, and ate it.  I called him “stupid” aloud, and I was then taken to the principal’s office for telling the truth.

I was nine years old, and had been saving for two years to buy a horse by writing book reports, for which I received 25 cents per report – if my mother approved each report as proving I had actually read the subject book.  When I had saved $175.00, we found a horse for me.  He ran away with me every day, whenever I turned his head back toward the barn.  I couldn’t tell my parents, or they would have taken him away from me.  Finally the old man who ran the barn, tired of seeing that horse run me into the barn at hell’s own page, told me:  “Swing your leg over, as if you want to dismount, honey.  He’s a cow horse.  He’ll stop.”  So I learned to face a danger no words can express, and to take even more dangerous action for a desired result.  I’d swing my right leg over, hanging on for dear life, and my horses would stop – every time.

I was ten years old, and my parents came to the barn and insisted that my fifty-pound, seven year old sister be allowed to ride my horse.  I knew what was going to happen, as soon as she turned the corner in the paddock that led toward the barn.  Sure enough, my horse Koko broke into a run, my sister bounced precariously, my mother screamed, and I stepped out in front of my horse, arms and legs spread wide.  He stopped; my sister wasn’t killed, and my father said I could still keep the horse, since I had warned them not to let her ride him and risked my life to save my sister.

At ten in the paddock with both my parents watching, I heard the hero’s call to duty on that day.  Later I would realize that among humankind is a caretaker class, who will do what is needed, despite the risk, and that I was among that class.  Then, I knew from all my reading of mythology books that I was indomitable, and from horse books that no horse would ever hurt me and that, to a horse, a girl is just as good, as brave, as strong as a boy, and so I found my way down that path through life, from challenge to challenge.  Even by that age, the heroic model from mythology was so much a part of me that never again, after that first awful day, would a gang of boys lock me in a closet so that I had to find another to rescue me.  I would be that other, the hero, not the victim – as often as I could manage it.


http://www.amazon.com/Nine-Heroes-Tales-Heroic-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B00IMPCYQ8/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395545221&sr=1-4&keywords=Walter+Rhein






Monday, 24 March 2014

Researching Forts and Castles for Fantasy Novels: A Post by R A McCandless in the Nine Heroes Anthology series

Ladies and Gentlemen, our first ever anthology Nine Heroes has been released and in celebration of that we are doing a series of posts called "That is the moment when". Each post deals with an experience or experiences that each author who contributed to the anthology has had that helped shape the way they write or tell stories.

This time around we have RA McCandless, who contributed the short story 'Through the Sting of Fairy Smoke' to the anthology.

Nine Heroes: That is the moment when . . .

It was November of 2013, at Fort Rinella on Malta.

That is the moment when I realized just how important, and how impressive, even small fortifications could be, and why I loved writing about them.  I’d been all over the island nation checking out the massive turrets, bastions, towers, walls and defenses of the Knights Hospitaller, and they were all fantastic.  It was research and inspiration in one for a heroic fantasy author.  You definitely understand that the men who held claim to Malta and dedicated to a life of piety, were trained and skilled in war and violence.

But the British-built Ford Rinella, constructed between 1878 and 1886 to house and defend an Armstrong 100-ton gun, is what really brought the concept of siege-craft into sharp focus.  This was brought to my full and complete attention when the tour guides, dressed in an era-appropriate red British uniform, led us along the approach, which bent sharply to the right just as we approached the counter-escarpment.  Twenty firing points line the defensive wall, part of a sheer drop into a dry moat about thirty feet deep.  Five of the firing points were manned, and additional reenactment volunteers began to mass-fire blanks in our general direction.  The noise of the commands to aim and fire, given in quick succession, followed by the booming report of weapons, gave me pause.

Considering the approach from an attacker’s point of view, you’d have to order men down that death shoot.  Without any kind of armor or shielding, it would take hard, fast running and a great deal of luck to avoid the massed fire coming from all twenty of the firing points when full manned.  This doesn’t take into account at all the assault required to breach the moat, pull open the solid siege door (which had its own firing point) and then attempt to storm into the fort proper . . . which had its own defenses.  I haven’t even mentioned the caponier with additional firing ports, defensive ditches and narrow choke points throughout the rest of the small fortress.

Reading about castles and towers and fortifications is one thing.  Even visiting them helps give a good sense of scale and perspective.  For an author this first hand knowledge is invaluable.  But actually seeing, even as a reenactment, soldiers moving into position with their weapons to repel an attack . . . that’s quite something.

Explaining attack or defense or even a soldier’s day-to-day life to an audience in the context of heroic, valiant or villainous even dastardly deeds is what made the experience so rewarding.  The thrill of fear in just the approach, the resolve of the defenders in their position of tenuous strength – it’s the very essence of any good story.  Objective and challenges, set-backs and triumphs are an author’s main stock in trade.  The goal, though, is to take the reader to a place that is so real that if they ever actually go there, it won’t be for the first time.

Nine Heroes is available in both paperback and kindle.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Hello one and all! Well, the Nine Heroes anthology has been released and we here at the Heroic Fantasy Group couldn’t be happier how it turned out. In celebration of this we came up with an idea that will help readers get to know our authors a little better. So with this in mind we shall be doing a series of blog posts known as ‘That is the moment when’. These blog posts are about a certain experience each author has had in their lives that helped influence the way they write and tell stories. So without further to do let us begin!

First up to the plate is Shane Porteous who contributed the short story ‘Dozen’ to the anthology. Over to you, Shane!

Hi, Everyone!
Ghosts, vampires, zombies, demons, killer robots and all kinds of other monsters are scary things. I think you would struggle to find anyone that wasn’t scared of them sometime in their life; I was no different of course. As a boy I would often read comics/books about them. You know the ones I am talking about Goosebumps, Choose Your Nightmare etc. As children we have all had those moments, the ones where in order to impress our friends we have pretended to be brave and enter a supposedly haunted house or say the word of a spirit in a mirror x number of times. Of course the truth was none of us were brave, we were all scared, I know I certainly was.

I suppose it is unsurprising then that I was drawn to superheroes and pulp fiction barbarians. The men and occasionally women, who not only showed little fear in the face of these monsters but often at times, hunted them down. I think that is the reason why a lot of people like super heroes. I mean as a kid it was down right cool to see Spiderman getting the better of the monstrous Lizard or the ghoulish Venom. Who could pass up a chance to see Batman laying the smack down on the likes of Croc Killer? 

I have written stories my entire life and while sadly I cannot remember most of the earliest ones I am quite sure they all entailed such things. They were filled with all sorts of monsters, but the monsters weren’t just hunting helpless victims, instead men and women bravely thwarted them and became the nightmares of the very monsters they hunted. 

Essentially those early stories were a celebration of good triumphing over evil. A classic and often used theme, but that doesn’t diminish its importance or effect, I mean after all there is a reason why such a theme is considered timeless. For most of my childhood those are the stories that I wrote, good triumphing over evil. They were simple stories, but boy, were they fun to write! 

I remember when I was ten or so I had a friend called Andrew, he was obsessed with a sci-fi movie called Guyver: Dark Hero. He was constantly talking about it, I don’t remember specifically what he said. But using the sparkling word play that children are fluent in it would have been something like, “Dude, it is about this guy who can summon space armor and he uses it to fight these transforming monsters!” Definitely sounded like my kind of thing.

Of course the problem was this was during the hype of the television series MacGuyver. So whenever I tried to tell my parents about it they just thought I was making up stories about that particular television. Eventually (or more likely rather quickly) I gave up my search for it.

I had pretty much completely forgotten about it by the time I was eleven as I am sure Andrew had as well. Then one day I was in my local video store, (this was back when a video store was more or less on every corner.) I was browsing the shelves as usual, looking for my weekly fix of professional wrestling tapes, when I walked down an isle I had never been in before. In that isle I saw something on the shelf, something that sparked a memory in my mind. It wasn’t Guyver: Dark Hero and it wasn’t a movie. It was Guyver Bio Booster Armor, a cartoon series (okay I later learned that technically it is called an anime, because it is a Japanese cartoon based on a manga). But at the time to me it was just called a cartoon and was the influence behind the movie Andrew often so fondly spoke about.

Reading the back of the tape I began remembering all the things Andrew had said about it and indeed it really looked like my kind of thing. So I rented it, took it home, chucked it in the VCR and set myself up for a viewing experience.

The first thing that struck me were the monsters, they were darker, grittier and downright creepier than most monsters I had ever seen before. While this scared me I remember feeling a little bit excited because this had to mean that the hero was tough and brave, the kind of person who could put these monsters in their place. Apart from that I really wasn’t expecting anything different than to what I was use to. I saw Sho (main character) as this world’s Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne, defending good people from evil monsters.

Now I should probably stop here and just explain the plot of Guyver a bit. I mean no offense to my old friend Andrew but I got a feeling my paraphrasing of his description of Guyver just doesn’t quite get the job done.

Essentially Guyver told the story about three sets of alien armor, when activated they would be spiritually attached to whoever had activated them. The easiest way to describe them is basically think of a cross between Ironman’s armor and an alien symbiote. Now these sets of armor were being sought after by the Chronos Corporation, who used genetically engineered shape-shifting monsters called Zoanoids as foot soldiers. 

So anyway there I was watching the episodes enjoying them thoroughly when a new group of villains were introduced (I apologize for not remembering the episode number.) These guys were called the Hyper Zoanoid Team 5, as you may have guessed they were a team of 5 Hyper Zoanoids. Essentially these guys were the best of the best of the best, the elite of the core of the Chronos Corporation. I thought they were great bad guys, they were scary, they were powerful and they certainly would give Sho a run for his money. But little did I realize that the Hyper Zoanoid Team 5 would forever change the way I saw stories and how I wrote them.

There is a certain scene that occurs within the series, revolving around Elegan, a member of this elite team. Elegan, after being beaten in a fight was on the ground, heavily injured, bleeding badly, in other words it was pretty obvious that he was going to die. Another member of the team ZX-Tole found the injured Elegan and silently listened to his pleas for help. He then got down on one knee before Elegan and…told him that it would be alright, that he was there for him.

Now this might not seem like much, but to my 11-year-old brain it was earth shattering. Because bad guys, let alone bad guys who were monsters, weren’t suppose to actually care about one another. At that time in my life whenever a situation like that arose the uninjured bad guy was suppose to look down at the injured bad guy and say something like, “Hey sucks to be you now I get a chance to use your weapon.” Following that they would either leave the injured bad guy to die or kill them themselves. But this wasn’t the case, ZX-Tole was visibly upset that his companion was moments away from death.

That scene really threw me at the time and with a new kind of curiosity I watched the rest of the series. It wasn’t so much questions of were the Zoanoids really evil and was Sho really a good guy. Those were already made clear, what wasn’t clear to me was why a bad guy would care about the well being of another bad guy? I watched on and slowly began to see the Hyper Zoanoid Team 5 not as faceless monsters doing evil things for the sake of being evil, but rather I saw a group of soldiers fighting for a cause they truly believed in. Even if I didn’t agree with their cause I was beginning to understand it more and more. It made me think in ways I never really had before, I began asking what reason did Sho have that gave him a better right or claim to use the power of the Guyver over the Chronos Corporation? It was a question I could easily answer in terms of good and evil, but that answer didn’t satisfy me.

That is the moment when I realized what had fascinated me so much about it. It wasn’t a question of good and evil, for that was a question too easily answered. But rather who was right and who was wrong? And more importantly who decided who was right and who wrong? In any conflict both sides believe they are right and the other wrong, but they both can’t be correct, can they? In terms of story telling, it was a question I had never asked myself, never even considered asking it until then. The question was far more complicated than simply knowing good and evil. It seemed only to lead to more questions, but in place of becoming frustrated I became ever curious. That made the question seem deeper to me, much worthier of exploring. And so I began searching for a conclusive answer in my own writings. I wrote new stories, tales much different to the ones that I had already written. These stories were more intriguing, more complex, more interesting, frankly they were superior in pretty much every way. It put me on a new literary path, one richer and grander than any other I had ever taken and I have Guyver Bio Boost Armor to thank for that.

It has been quite a while since the first time I saw Guyver Bio Booster Armor and I still find myself on that path, searching for that elusive conclusive answer. You would think searching for that long without an answer would dampen my spirits. But nothing could be further from the truth. I am glad to still be on this path, happy that my search continues. 
Shane Porteous 

Now why not do yourself a favor and check out the awesome anthology that is NINE HEROES. 
NINE HEROES IS AVAILABLE IN BOTH PAPERBACK AND KINDLE.



Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Hey, Everyone! Today I'm very proud to share this Press Release about Stencil Press' fantasy anthology "Nine Heroes". I was copy-editor on this and so I know how good these stories are. If you love fantasy, heroes, action and adventure, mystery, monsters and all things heroic, then this is the book for you! Please go grab a copy, and please! Leave an Amazon review!!

Stencil Press is Proud to Announce the Release of "Nine Heroes"

Stencil Press is proud to release its first Heroic Fantasy short story anthology: “Nine Heroes.” “Nine Heroes” is a collection of short stories from some of the most exciting fantasy authors working today. Proceeds from the work will go towards promoting the Heroic Fantasy Facebook group. The hope is that this book will generate sufficient funds to allow the members of Heroic Fantasy to promote the work of new and upcoming writers.

Stories include:

Black Sword by Janet Morris and Chris Morris
The Act of Sleepless Nights by Walter Rhein
To Kill a Myth by Jesse Duckworth
No Life Too Small by Douglas R. Brown
To Live by Tom Barczak
Dozen by Shane Porteous
Just One Mistake by A.L. Butcher
Witness to Death by Teel James Glenn
Through the Sting of Fairy Smoke by R.A. McCandless

“Nine Heroes” is currently available on the Createspace Bookstore and will be available through other retailers such as Amazon shortly. Please visit the create space “Nine Heroes” page and help us out by clicking the blue Facebook “like” button available there.

Review copies of “Nine Heroes” are currently available. To request a review copy, please send an email to walterrhein@gmail.com. Please include a link to a recent review. Reviews should be posted on Amazon, Goodreads, and your personal blog (if applicable).

Also please check out the other works by the authors of “Nine Heroes” which are currently available.

The Sacred Band by Janet and Chris Morris
To learn more about Janet and Chris Morris, please visit their web page at:

The Reader of Acheron by Walter Rhein
To learn more about Walter Rhein, please visit his web pages at:

A Song of Betrayal by Jesse Duckworth
To learn more about Jesse Duckworth, please visit his web page at:

The Rise of Cridon by Douglas R. Brown
To learn more about Douglas R. Brown, please visit his web page at:


Veil of the Dragon by Tom Barczak
To learn more about Tom Barczak, please visit his web page at:

How Gods Bleed by Shane Porteous

To learn more about A.L. Butcher, please visit her web page at:

Songs of a Warrior Priest by Teel James Glenn
To learn more about Teel James Glenn, please visit his web page at:

Tears of Heaven by R.A. McCandless
To learn more about R.A. McCandless, please visit his web page at:

Other Contributors:

Copy-Editor
King’s Envoy by Cas Peace
To learn more about Cas Peace, please visit her web page at:

Front Cover Artist
Jason Pedersen
To learn more about Jason Pedersen, please visit his web page at:

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Hey Peeps!
Today I'm turning my blog over to author Shane Porteous, who in his post below recommends 7 of his favorite books. I know 2 of those on his list and wholeheartedly agree with him, so I'm sure he's right about the others! Have a read and see if any take your fancy.

Hello one and all, my name is Shane Porteous, I am an author but this post isn’t about me plugging any of my works, rather I would like to talk about books that I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed. Instead of talking about the works of Tolkien, King, Rowling, Martin, Clancy, Barker and Lewis, all of whom are now household names, I thought I would talk about relatively unknown books that I feel are definitely worth a read. The reason for this is rather simple, like almost all writers I love reading but rarely have a chance to talk about books I have discovered and enjoyed.
So I have decided to indulge the reader in me, I feel that all readers are on a quest to discover unknown gems of literature. I think this has to do with just how rare such a feeling is. The feeling that the story you are holding in your hands is something precious, something special, something rare. While stories like Lord of The Rings, The Stand, A Song of Ice and Fire are magnificent stories, their brilliance is common knowledge. When you discover their brilliance for yourself, you’re discovering something that millions of people have found before you. Those gems though beautiful have been read by everyone, I personally think that if you could somehow visit every book shelf in the world you would be hard pressed not to find at least one book by the aforementioned authors on it.
So my hope is that I can help you discover new books for your bookshelves (or e-reader). Keeping in mind that quality is all a matter of an opinion. The old saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” comes to mind. With that said I hope you feel the same way I did when reading these books and enjoy discovering these unknown gems for yourself. So without further to do, in no particular order I present my 7 relatively unknown worthwhile reads.

Number 7. Woken by Kaine Andrews
Woken is the story of Ophelia a young woman who barely survived a savage attack at the hands of Andrew, her sister's boyfriend. Several years have passed since that horrible night and Ophelia is still haunted by what occurred. Relying on medication just to get through the days and haunted by terrible nightmares. Her only sanctuary is that Andrew has been in a coma since that night. Finding comfort in the arms of the charming Roger, things finally start looking up, if only slightly. But all of that is about to change because Andrew has woken from his coma and is ready to finish what he started.
The first praise I need to give this novel is the fact that Kaine Andrews made each of his characters matter. Ophelia is not a generic victim whose torment is exploited for the sake of performing horrific acts upon her. She is a fully realized character and grounded in reality. She isn’t some supermodel looking woman with the intelligence of a scientist. She feels like a real person, someone you could honestly meet in real life.  When bad things happen to her, you actually give a damn about it, you feel her pain, you feel her fear.
Feeding into this perfectly is Andrew, the villain of the piece. Andrew isn’t a campy character, he isn’t a Halloween special. Andrew is a sick, twisted monster of an individual and at no time did the author pander or try to lighten his mood.  
This is a true horror story, not something you would read to your children on Halloween night because they want a spooky story. This is dark, bloody and horrific; Kaine Andrews manages to show the brutality of violence without every exploiting or relying on it to tell his story.
Beyond these points is just how talented of a word smith Kaine Andrews is. Every word in this book feels like an ant of the same literary colony, working together to tell this story. There are no red herrings, no pandering and no fillers. Woken doesn’t rely on anything other than its own strengths, a true rarity for books these days. If you like horror that is as horrific as it is well told, you would struggle to find a better book than this one.  

Number 6. Masquerade (book one of the Heven and Hell series)  by Cambria Hebert.
Masquerade, revolves around Heven, a high school student, who once was leader of the cheer leading squad. Several years before the story begins she was attacked and left disfigured by an unknown creature. Still reeling from the scars both physical and emotional of that attack her life suddenly takes a positive turn when she meets Sam, the handsome new stranger of her small town. But while new love is in the air so is terror for the creature that once attacked her is back and ready to finish what it has started.
I am bending my own rules a little bit mentioning this story. I just checked Cambria Hebert’s goodreads profile to discover she now has hundreds of reviews and thousands of ratings. This doesn’t surprise me in the least for several very good reasons that I will get to in a minute. I just need to stress the fact that when I first read this book there were only a handful of reviews for it. Also another point I need to make is that ultimately this list is my opinion on things and I am not saying that people should or shouldn’t like or read certain types of genres.
For me normally, there are three things that will stop me from reading a book, Romance, an Urban Setting and Young Adult. Masquerade has all three and yet I read it from first page to last without a problem. This is because this book is the most well paced story that I have ever read. It is amazing just how well Cambria Hebert was able to pace this story without ever once making it feel disjointed or underwritten.
While it is very much a young adult paranormal romance story, I was never bored reading it, every chapter brought a new revelation, something of value to the story. It left me guessing for its entire run, something that very few books have ever done for me.
It is often said, that a good book is one that can transcend its genre and this book definitely does that as far as I am concerned. The fact that I felt engaged and interested the entire time while reading about things I normally could care less about such as teenage angst, social politics and romance shows just how great of a story is actually is.

Number 5.  The Superiors (The Superiors #1) by Lena Hillbrand
The Superiors represents a future where Vampires have taken over the world and humans, better known as Saps are little more than livestock. The main character is Draven, a rather unassuming vampire that has a mediocre job and lives a rather ordinary life who one day meets a young sap called Cali, trying to run away from her predetermine fate.
There is a lot that can be said about an author that can take something as overused as vampires and actually make an engaging, interesting story out of it. Reading my brief summary of the plot you are probably thinking that such a story has been done before and you’re right it has. But putting that aside, I found The Superiors a story that honestly stands on its own merit. Lena Hillbrand has created a fascinating fleshed out world.
Draven the main character is a kind of “Joe Vampire,” he isn’t some dark shadow that stalks the night or some Romeo who for some reason is only interested in teenage girls. There aren’t ANY romantic overtones in this story and that is a true rarity in vampire literary.
Beyond using vampires, the story itself is just incredibly engaging, what I loved about it is that the author takes her time with the story, she doesn’t rush through it (something that quite frankly annoys me about a lot of books that are written today). Instead she masterfully crafts every inch of this world, she doesn’t so much tackle social issues as deals with them with the subtly of an assassin.
A perfect example of this for me was how the vampires, who consider themselves the master race have fallen into the same traps of the world that humans once did. The vast majority of the vampires seem no happier than their human counterparts whose jobs they took over. There is a hypocrisy there that most vampires are now realizing and only the older order, who haven’t had to take these mediocre jobs to keep the world running are not affected by this reality.
That’s what I love about this story, it doesn’t represent a romantic or mystic vision and this world is dark, gritty and carries an undeniable genuineness to it. The author hasn’t tried to emulate anybody; they have told their own story and told it well. 
I read and enjoyed the Superiors during a time in my life when I would’ve rather gone to the dentist than suffer through another generic vampire story. I honestly can’t give it bigger praise than that.

Number 4. Veil of the Dragon (Prophecy of the Evarun) by Tom Barczak
A High Fantasy story revolving around a land that has seen better days and the resurrection of the fallen King Chaelus by a boy knight called Aaron all in the hopes of fulfilling a certain prophecy.
When writing a review for this I gave it the title, Like Reading A Dream, because that is the truest way I can describe this story. There is something otherworldly about reading this, a powerful feeling that fills you from the very first word to the last. I honestly felt like a ghost in this world, watching this world through eyes that weren’t natural.
I am a big believer that works of fiction need a personal stamp and from that point of view I have never read another book before that has been told with such a strong personal style that the author represents with this story.
It is often said that a good book is one that is brought to life in the reader’s mind and if that is the case this book is the very embodiment of that. I didn’t feel like I was so much reading about this world as experiencing it. Because that is what this story is, an experience, one that I doubt I will ever forget.
I wish that I could say more about this book, but frankly I couldn’t do it justice. As I stated before this book is an experience, one that has to be experienced personally in order to understand what I truly mean.

Number 3. Reader of Acheron (book one in the slaves of Erafor series) by Walter Rhein
In a dystopian future, reading has been outlawed and slavery is rampant. The corrupted ruling class of this bleak existence is on the hunt for the so called Reader of Acheron, all hope is far from lost however as Kikkan, a slave that took his freedom is on a journey of his own, a journey that could change the entire world if successful.
Look I got to be upfront about something before I say anything else. A huge reason why I enjoy Walter Rhein’s books is that his writing style is very reminiscent of David Gemmell’s, who is an author that I loved reading while growing up. So I am sure there is a kind of nostalgia by proxy, if I can use such a term, when I read this story.
With that said, Reader of Acheron has a lot going for it that should be judged on its own merit. Obviously as a reader I could immediately identify how dangerous of an impact outlawing the act of reading would be. But what I liked about this story and the author deserves a hell of a lot of credit for this, is that I never felt like he was trying to force a morality tale down my throat, like he was using this book to get across his own personal opinions.
Rather this was first and foremost an engaging story with fascinating characters. It is as well worded as it is well paced. I read the whole story in a single setting and afterword I found myself thinking about the meaning of the tale, the points that were so finely raised within it.
It isn’t often that I can say this about any book, let alone one written by a somewhat non established writer. This book both entertained me and made me see things about society that frankly I had never really thought about before and to me that is the mark of an excellent story teller.       

Number 2. Mathion (book one in the Mavonduri Trilogy) by Jeff Shanley
Mathion is the story of Mathion, the prince and future heir of the Wolven people. His kind has been stuck in a war lasting thousands of years with the Kanin (werewolves). The story revolves around this young prince accompanied by his white wolf companion Elekan as he risks certain death to save a friend from the clutches of The Betrayer, the terrifying king of the Kanin.
 The first thing that impressed me about this book was its genuine depth. There is a back story, to a back story, to a back story, to a back story. Literally tens of thousands of years that have been thought out and known by the author and it really shows while reading this story. It is rather quite sad, how rare this trait is among a lot of high fantasy writers today, considering genuine depth is the strongest corner stone of the High Fantasy genre.
But that isn’t the main reason why Mathion makes this list; it is because how it made me feel while reading it. While Mathion isn’t a children story by any means (it is after all a story about thousands of years of warfare between werewolves and medieval like warriors.) it made me feel the same way I did when I was 12 and read the Hobbit for the first time. I felt full of wonder and excitement reading about this world, a world that I had never quite imagined before.
I honestly felt like getting under the covers and reading this story well past midnight, because I was so enamored by it. Mathion is a better representation of classic heroic traits than almost any other character I have read about. I felt sad, when he was sad, I felt compelled by his conflict between duty and personal friendship. His relationship with his white wolf Elekan felt so real to me, reminding me of what I felt as a child raising a pet of my own.
With the exception of Tolkien himself, I cannot think of any High Fantasy writer that can embody the traits of classic High Fantasy as well as Jeff Shanley has with this story and considering that High Fantasy is my favorite literary genre, I think that is saying something. 
It is no exaggeration when I say that I found myself thinking about the Mavonduri world almost every day for basically a full year after I had finished reading it. Mathion is one of the very few books that not only have I a re-read a number of times, it is one of the few books that I make time in my busy schedule to re-read.
People will often ask what is a good High Fantasy story? Some say a book that resonates with the real world; others will say a story that represents a world that is nothing like the real world. My answer to this question is this book, Mathion.

Number 1. Of Good and Evil by Gerald G. Griffin
Ron Sheffield is a former green beret, who fought in the Middle East but was discharged for his erratic behavior. In truth it was because he possesses powers unlike any the military has seen before. In the civilian world once more Ron becomes a hit man for the mafia in order to deal with his powers. He soon meets Amber Ash, who has powers of her own. Together they realize that they cannot escape their pasts.  
While I meant what I said in the beginning of this post that these 7 books haven’t been placed in any particular order, I am going to state for the record that this book is my personal favorite of the bunch. While all 7 of these books are worthwhile reading, Of Good and Evil is simply in a league of its own.
There is a great maturity to Gerald G. Griffin’s writing, one almost never seen in MOST author’s work regardless of whether they are well known or not.
The sheer scope of this book is impressive, dealing with the paranormal, terrorist cells, the mafia, government conspiracies, secret societies, doomsday plots and much more. But more impressive than the scope is just how deftly Gerald G. Griffin handles all of these themes. This book easily could’ve come off as muddled and incoherent and yet nothing could be further than the truth, it is just flawless how well told this story is.
With startling effortlessness Gerald G. Griffin accomplishes mystery without frustrating his reader, he deals with real world issues, but does so in a way that doesn’t require expert understanding of the world’s politics and yet clearly shows a great understanding of such politics himself.
I cannot stress just how much I recommend this book to any mature reader. It truly boggles my mind that this book isn’t on the New York Times best seller list. With that said I am proud to say that apparently this book is going to be turned into a movie! It makes me genuinely happy to know that this magnificent book is finally getting the treatment it so richly deserves.

So there you have it, those are my seven recommendations. I appreciate you taking the time out of your life to read this post and I honestly hope that I have helped you to discover some literary gems. 



Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Spotlight Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance Author Eva Gordon!


Hi Folks!
Today I'm spotlighting fantasy/paranormal/romance author Eva Gordon. I first 'met' Eva when I emailed her to ask her advice on a short story I was writing which had a unique twist on the werewolf theme. Eva is an expert on wolves, and she very graciously helped me hone the story. So much so that it was chosen as one of the stories to be included in Full Fathom Forty - the British Fantasy Society's 40th Anniversary anthology published in 2011 - so she knows her stuff!

Her author Bio is at the end of this post, plus more info, and all the links you could wish for.
Her latest novel is Hand of Miriam, a Bayla and the Golem novel. Check it, and her, out - both are awesome! 

Press Release
Hand of Miriam
A Bayla and the Golem Novel
By Eva Gordon


Published By Eva Gordon
Cover art by Nicolene van Staden
Editing by Marion Archer and Karen Lawson
Published: December 6, 2013
Word Count: 105,618
Page Count Print: 390 pages
·  ISBN-10: 1494302802
·  ISBN-13: 978-1494302801

Book Tagline:  A Victorian world of supernatural creatures, magnificent airships, a secret society, and one bluestocking adventuress who, threatened by evil seeks protection by awakening the golem.

Book Blurb:
On an archaeological expedition, Bayla Gideon, is widowed by a supernatural force and branded with the Hand of Miriam or Knowing Eye. Threatened by evil, she awakens the golem; a mythical man of clay, who protected the Jewish community over three centuries ago.
The golem, Gesher, is surprised. Freedom –by a beautiful, enchanting woman. His desire is to return to the celestial spheres and regain his status as an avenging angel. Yet, Bayla challenges his mind, body and soul. Would he risk his return to the heavens for her? 
Besides, dealing with the otherkind, mad inventors and an unrelenting matchmaking aunt, Bayla is equally determined to resist her steamy attraction to the striking fallen angel. 
Thrust into a malevolent war, which includes facing Jack the Ripper, they must resist the magnetic pull toward each other, while protecting the world from encroaching evil.

Note: Hand of Miriam is Book 1 of a duology in Bayla and the Golem novels, which will continue after Book 2, Her Majesty’s Witch, with the steampunk adventures of other corseted but brainy members of the exclusive Bluestocking Adventuress Club.

Excerpt:

Bayla unlocked the Gemmatridon and held it as instructed. The talismans on the cover shifted into gears that twisted in rapid circles, and buzzed like irate bees while emitting light. Startled, she fumbled with it. The box opened. Inside was a small parchment. The instructions dictated that it be placed in the golem’s mouth. She carefully removed the ancient scroll and with trembling hands set it in the slit that had to be its mouth. Immediately, the parchment sunk in as if swallowed by quicksand and vanished. The chamber shook as if an earthquake had struck. She fell back still holding the box. Sitting sprawled on the floor, she froze in terror. Thankfully, the tremor stopped.
A blinding bright light erupted from the crate and the golem roared a deep menacing bellow from within.
 Bayla dropped the box. What have I done? She closed her eyes from the blazing brightness and wrapped her arms and head over her knees. Like a candle snuffed out, the light vanished. The golem’s holler subsided into a grumbling moan, as if awakened from its slumber.
 She dared look. The golem sat in the crate. She suppressed a scream on seeing his rigid red-stone face. He looked like a misshapen man made of hard red rock. An aleph was added in front of met. The Hebrew word for truth, emet, now inscribed on his forehead, permitting it life. It slowly rose and stepped out. Tall, its square head almost touched the ceiling. It wasn’t too monstrous in stature, perhaps six-foot-seven, and within the range of human height. It blinked open gray eyes and stared at her. His eyes were the only part that looked remotely human and revealed his soul, by holding her gaze as if he knew her.
Bayla scooted back on her bottom but kept her eyes on him. There was a connection, a warm bond that eased her fear. She couldn’t read its thoughts. Was it because it had none?
The golem turned his head to the side and spoke in a deep baritone voice, “You are a woman.”
Buy links:
 Paperback available on Amazon as well.

Or, if above links don’t work use these:

Amazon Kindle UK:

Amazon.ca





Author Bio
Eva Gordon writes genre bending paranormal/fantasy/steampunk and historical novels with a strong romantic element. She loves to create stories that combine her passion for mythology, steamy romance, and action/suspense. Her imagination takes her from one universe to the next. Thus far, she has several series lined up as well as single titles waiting in line for production.
Eva has a BS in Zoology and graduate studies in Biology. She once taught high school Biology, Environmental Science and Anatomy/Physiology. When not in her den writing, she can be found at steampunk conventions, at work at the raptor rehabilitation center, wolf sanctuaries, or to satisfy her inner Hemingway on some global eco adventure.
Learn more about Eva Gordon below:



Wednesday, 5 February 2014

 
A Very Merry-un-birthday-to-me!
This month I am not celebrating my birthday, so I decided that I would not celebrate with all of you during the entire month of February.
A very merry-un-birthday-to-me!
To celebrate my un-birthday, several bloggers & authors have teamed up to sponsor this stellar giveaway. The winner will have the option to choose from a Kindle Fire HDX, $200 Amazon Gift Card or $200 Paypal Cash. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway A Very Merry-un-birthday-to-me!


Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or PayPal Cash. No purchase necessary. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. You must be 18 or older to enter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Amy from Lady Reader's Bookstuff and sponsored by the mentioned authors & bloggers.
VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.