All posts by Hob The Goblin

I am a avid (some say Obsessive) reader. I read fast and hate to put a book down once I start it. I have done a lot of reviews on Goodreads.com and Facebook, But I was still having trouble keeping track of what I have read, what I want to read, and what People have told me I need to read. So the hope is this will help. I am also going to be posting about all of the authors I meet, and hopefully get a chance to question.

Interview with Ed McDonald

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I just want to thank Ed McDonald for taking the time to do this interview. And now on to the questions!

  1.  If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in Blackwing?

In all honesty, no. It’s easy to look back at something you made and think “Ah, I hate how the word ‘number’ appears twice in that line, or ‘I wish I’d given that character another few lines of character development’ but I don’t like to look back. I’m very happy with where it ended up and I’m only moving forward.

(Not that it matters but I was very happy with it as well. It was a great read that I highly recommend in my review here.)

  1. Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

I am terrible for doing this, but I do it often. A good cover will get me to pick the book up from the shelf. Whether I keep on reading it then depends on the writing.

  1. Who designed your cover/covers? Were you able to work with the artist or is it all the publisher/artist?

I provided a brief for my publishers on what I wanted. It was very detailed, several pages. Then they ignored it completely and their art departments or sub-contracted artists came up with something pretty much completely different. Dan Smith did the UK cover but the US one I’m genuinely not sure. I take the approach that I’m good at words, and other people are good at art, and I need to just leave them to do their own thing. It’s healthier that way and I’m really pleased with what they came up with.

  1. Have you ever had a side character Try to steal the show? Would you like to go back and make a spin off series or something for them? Or is there a theme or idea you’d love to be able to explore in more depth?

In a sense, I think that they do a little. Nenn and Tnota have been so often mentioned as being the favourite characters in Blackwing and they really aren’t central to the story! Additionally, the more I wrote, the more the story became about Ezabeth. I may have fallen in love with her myself a bit, even though that’s weird to say.
I like to imagine that after The Raven’s Mark books I’ll be able to explore the world I’ve imagined further, but I wouldn’t want to go backwards – I’d be interested in following the children of one of the characters perhaps. Assuming they live long enough to have them.

  1.   If you could read any book again for the first-time, what book would it be?

Legend, by David Gemmell. I’ve read if seven times. It’s a book that genuinely influences my moral compass and my way of living.

  1. How much for this car stereo? Oh wait, wrong kind of fencing.  I meant to ask, How did you get into fencing?  Do you compete or just do it for fun?

I did sport fencing at university, and then picked it up again later but I was always frustrated by how much of a sport it was, and how little genuine swordsmanship was involved. From there I started doing HEMA and never looked back. I love learning the technical aspects, but I’m also hyper competitive and love to compete.

  1. How many books have you written, how many have you tried to publish, and how many are in print?

Written – eight
Tried to publish – three
In print – one, with the eighth now in the hands of my editors

  1. Have you found any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

I do most of my writing with a beer in the pub, I guess that’s not great for my health…

  1.    What is your favorite word? Least Favorite?

Favourite word – there was a note in the margin of Blackwing’s edits by one of my editors, Gillian, saying “Arsehole is your favourite word. Maybe change a few?” I do like arsehole. Don’t quote me on that.
Least favourite – “literally,” used when people mean “very” and what they’re discussing is figurative.

  1. How many people have you killed over the course of your career?  Real people first, then fictional.

Three, but you’ll never find them. Fictional, we’re talking millions. I have a short story in the forthcoming The Art of War charity anthology run by Booknest.Eu which features an Armageddon event.

  1. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?  Did it end up helping? Or did we just count that person in question 10?

I don’t think that I’ve ever really had criticism, but the best piece of advice was given to me by an agent was that my sixth book, at 280,000 words, was simply way too long to be published and that no agent/publisher would pick it up. As a result I abandoned it and wrote Blackwing, at an easy 117,000 words and never looked back.

  1. What has been the best compliment?

I’ve had one reviewer say it was their all time favourite book, but I’m going to give it to Anthony Ryan, author of Bloodsong, who said: “Upon starting Blackwing it quickly gained the rare distinction of being one of those books that felt as if it had been written especially for me.” Now that’s a compliment and a half.

  1. Do you have any advice to give a new writer?

Love what you write. If you’re enjoying writing a scene, it’s probably a fun scene. If it’s a struggle or boring, then change something up: a total location change, gender flip a character, start a fire. When it’s fun to write, it usually comes out fun to read.

  1. What was the last book you read? Was it any good?

Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough. I wanted to read something far out of my usual reading zone, and it was great.

  1. What one question do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?

What two questions do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?

(That is cheating!)

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

Are you aware that copies of Blackwing make excellent Christmas presents? They can also be used to prop up wonky tables, to insulate wall cavities and if you bind enough of them together, can make a handy life raft in an emergency. It’s worth stocking up.

Well if you are in need of a good book or ….um .. a life raft or anything else I guess you can pick up a copy at the links below.

Get a copy of Blackwing

  1. Amazon
  2. Audible
  3. Barnes & Noble
  4. Kobo
  5. Apple iBooks
  6. Google Play
  7. Abebooks
  8. Book Depository
  9. Indigo
  10. Half.com

 

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Giveaway For an Autographed copy of Clash of Eagles

Question:  What do Alternative History

novels and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have in common?

Answer:  This guy right here. Alan Smale  is a professional astronomer at NASA, studying black holes, neutron stars, and other bizarre celestial objects. However, too many family vacations at Hadrian’s Wall in his formative years plus a couple of degrees from Oxford took their toll, steering his writing toward alternate, secret, and generally twisted history.

If you know anything about me you know I love books. I love everything about them. In one way, they are a door to a different world, the start to a new adventure that can be had anytime you need to escape just a bit from the adventure you are already on.  The other way they amaze me is how they came to be on the page. I don’t mean how many hours did the author sit at a desk typing. I like to know a bit about the authors life and then while reading see if I can recognize where a certain influence or idea might have come from. With some authors that can be a terrifying spiral that once at the bottom I just want to ask the author if they are OK.  (I am looking at you Michael R. Fletcher. I am not a professional but if you ever need to talk I am here), and with others I can just see them sitting there collecting the tears of their readers as a trophy for each one. Possibly Fletcher here again or one of his Doppel’s but also most certainly Mark Lawrence and Pierce Brown .)

That is why, when I do Interviews I hardly ask about the books themselves. I ask stupid “get to know you” questions that are fun, for me at least (and that’s what’s important, right?) ways to see hidden depths in their writing that maybe even the author didn’t know were there. For example, this question I put to Darrell Drake.

ME: Q. Four children have small toys. The first child has 1/10 of the toys, the second child has 12 more toys than the first and is looking at him and going nananannaanna, the third child has one less toy then the first child has, so is crying at the top of their lungs. And the fourth child has double the toys of the third child then takes 5 from the first child. No question here just a flash back to when I ran a daycare…

Darrell: A. To the side, the fifth child has no toys—no trucks or baubles—only its gas mask. He watches and waits, hands in his lap, knowing the sleeping gas is imminent. His peers never learn, and that’s why his rise to the top will be swift and uncontested.

{Thanks for that insight in to your childhood Darrell I am here for you buddy!}

 Actually, that shit is mainly all a lie. I am just really bad at interviews. Plus it is a great way to introduce a really interesting author I got to meet this year at the Phoenix Comic-con . The author of the only book I bought the whole weekend! I still don’t know how I did that! I just went costume shopping and accidentally bought 27 books instead.

(No lie. Here they are, and I still didn’t get a costume)

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It is also a way for me to thank the great people that worked behind the scenes at the Del-Rey booth this year. It is thanks to them giving me free books and the authors signing them that I am able to spread the smell of a new book to you guys. Like the one we just did with Pierce Brown and the Upcoming one with Robin Hobb.

This book, Clash of Eagles  by Alan Smale has a great cover and that’s why I stopped to take a look at it. It was the premise though, that made me buy it.  Imagine a world in which the Roman Empire has not fallen and the North American continent has just been discovered. In the year 1218 AD, transported by Norse longboats, a Roman legion crosses the great ocean, enters an endless wilderness, and faces a cataclysmic clash of worlds, cultures, and warriors.

Since Yesterday (The 9th) was Mr. Smale’s Birthday, I Thought it would be the perfect time to start the giveaway for a signed copy of Clash of Eagles.

The giveaway will run from now until the 29th of September 2017. To enter just make a comment below. One winner will be chosen randomly on that day. Open to everyone. Good Luck to you all! Don’t forget to make a comment before you go and since you are here already why not enter my other giveaway here.

Want to buy a copy? Then Click here

Interview with Darrell Drake Author of A Star-Reckoner’s Lot

I am happy to have SPFBO author Darrell Drake in the hot seat today answering a few questions. He was also nice enough to send me a autographed copy of his book  A Star-Reckoner’s Lot for a giveaway. To enter just comment below on this post. The giveaway will end on September 22 when I will randomly select a name from the comments.

Thanks for having me, Hob! I’m glad we could put all those goblins slain in games and tabletop sessions behind us. Adventurers don’t often give much value to the lives of fodder, and we should strive for the change we want to see in others. So here we are, discussing books rather than exchanging blows.

 

If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in your FIRST book?

As far as my first book is concerned . . . well, frankly, I wouldn’t have released it. I feel so much more comfortable in historical fantasy (even if that means years of research to get it right). As such, I would have been better served by a historical fantasy debut.

Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

Oh, man. More often than not. This probably makes me a terrible reader, but there’s a reason why your cover matters. That’s what sells a book, or gets someone to read into it. I think this is especially relevant where self-published authors are concerned, and it’s always disheartening to see one that was put together with clipart and Papyrus.

What FRAKING side are you on of the fictional curse debate? Any in your books?

Fictional curse debate? Yeah, let me tell you, that fictional curse debate is sad, sad, sad. Who would side with the opposition when the incumbents are patently superior—I haven’t the faintest clue what’s going on in the fictional curse debate! So like many other political and social scenarios, I’m on the fence.

Curses aren’t common in my books, but they’ve made an appearance or two. A Star-Reckoner’s Lot begins with my interpretation of a Mandaic curse that involves inscribing the curse on an egg, then burying that egg beneath a gate. As the egg rots, so too will the victim of the curse.

{ By Grabthar’s hammer  That was not the kind of curse I was talking about, but it sounds messy}

Have you ever had a side character Try to steal the show? Would you like to go back and make a spin off series or something for them? Or is there a theme or idea you’d love to be able to explore in more depth?

Hah! Try? Succeed, more like! Waray is a secondary character in A Star-Reckoner’s Lot who has been almost exclusively praised as the best character in the book. She’s an eccentric half-div (demon of sorts) with peculiar idiosyncrasies: wandering speech, pranks, delusions, inappropriate and contradictory nature, odd body language—the list goes on. All that and a dark, storied past. The A Star-Reckoner’s Legacy trilogy will feature her as the protagonist of the third novel, so I guess a spin-off isn’t necessary.

As far as themes are concerned, the effects of loss and memories and how we deal with them are central to my tales. They shape us as people, and stick with us until our last. How we interpret those memories changes over time, and in turn how they affect us. We’re defined by our past in more ways than we can grasp at any one point in our lives, and I hope to further explore that in my characters.

{Wow that is deep}

If you could read any book again for the first-time, what book would it be?

Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven. It was such a pleasure the first time around, and it’s the book that finally convinced me that historical fantasy was my wheelhouse.

{That was the first book of his that I read. I loved it.}

 

Four children have small toys. The first child has 1/10 of the toys, the second child has 12 more toys than the first and is looking at him and going nananannaanna, the third child has one less toy then the first child has, so is crying at the top of their lungs. And the fourth child has double the toys of the third child then takes 5 from the first child. No question here just a flash back to when I ran a daycare…

To the side, the fifth child has no toys—no trucks or baubles—only its gas mask. He watches and waits, hands in his lap, knowing the sleeping gas is imminent. His peers never learn, and that’s why his rise to the top will be swift and uncontested.

{Thanks for that insight in to your childhood}

How many books have you written, how many have you tried to publish, and how many are in print?

Probably three or four books that have been tossed in the latrine where they belong. Even took the time to dig a latrine for it. Currently have four released with three of them in print, but A Star-Reckoner’s Lot gets 100% of my focus nowadays. Historical fantasy moving forward and all.

Have you found any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

Well, it’s more a case of the liver problems finding me. But I’ve been pretty elusive up to now. Don’t expect that to last.

{You can always just steal a new liver from one of your vanquished enemies.}

What was the hardest thing about self-publishing that you didn’t expect?

At this point in the game I’m not sure what I didn’t expect from the beginning. That isn’t to say that I wasn’t blundering around in my inexperience, just that most of it is commonplace now.

More than anything, it’s maintaining any sort of interest. Reddit has been incredibly supportive, but it’s one community—a powerful community, but still isolated. Without the spread, visibility, and legitimacy of traditional publishing, it’s a crapshoot. Every triumph is short-lived. You have to constantly push, network, try to find new ways to keep it in the minds of readers without badgering them over it.

{ Well I am glad that I may be able to help in some small way}

How many people have you killed over the course of your career?  Real people first, then fictional.

Real people is a tough one, because who knows how many my lifestyle in a first-world country has claimed? I’m sure many of us have had a hand in one death or another.

Fictional . . . hmm. Millions. I’d say I’ve lost count, but that would imply I ever started counting. And was it me killing them or their decisions that brought them there? Let’s not free them of their responsibility just because I had a hand in their deaths. So hey, I haven’t killed anyone. All those characters killed themselves.

{The old Butterfly Effect defense for murder. I should have seen it coming.}

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?  Did it end up helping? Or did we just count that person in the previous question?

Probably something along the lines of, “I don’t support burning books or murder but yours should be used to fuel the pyre you’re tied to, you uncultured swine.” All things considered, it’s not untrue. Did help, though, because now I write just to spite them.

{Spite one of the most powerful forces on earth.}

What has been the best compliment?

Oh, this is an easy one. Some kind r/Fantasy user once said A Star-Reckoner’s Lot “wasn’t terrible”. Also mention of bad puns elsewhere.

Do you have any advice to give a new writer?

Don’t. Stop. Just . . . don’t.

What was the last book you read? Was it any good?

I think it was Valley of Embers by the redoubtable Steven Kelliher. Loved it. Imaginative, action-packed, enough mystery to keep me going, and a hell of an ending.

{ I agree it was a great book. My review of it can be found here Valley of Embers (The Landkist Saga Book 1) by Steven Kelliher}

What one question do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?

If I’ve ever written any goblin fan fiction. I haven’t, but I think you should canvass all authors you interview for that one.

{I will have to keep that in mind}

Do you have any questions for me?

Have you had a chance to play the Styx games at all? You control a goblin assassin, which as I’m sure you know is a pretty rare protagonist.

Awfully fond of your Hobgoblin Photoshops—hard to miss those in my feeds or on Reddit! Appreciate the opportunity to drop by. Finally, a chance with the Hob!

{I love hearing that! So glad you like my little corner of the internet. Thanks once again for your time, and the great answers to my questions. And I had not heard of the game until this, but have now played around 40 hours.}

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MarvyMagpies

Website: http://www.astarreckonerslot.com

Don’t forget to comment below for your chance to win.

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Hob’s Review of Blackwing by Ed McDonald

Blackwing (Ravens’ Mark #1)

by Ed McDonald

Paperback, 336 pages

Expected publication: October 3rd 2017 by Ace Books

I received an E-ARC of this book from Netgally in return for an honest review.

THE BLURB

Nothing in the Misery lasts…

Under a cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, created when the Engine, the most powerful weapon in the world, was unleashed against the immortal Deep Kings. Across the wasteland, teeming with corrupted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies are still watching—and still waiting.

Ryhalt Galharrow is no stranger to the Misery. The bounty hunter journeys to a remote outpost, armed for killing both men and monsters, and searching for a mysterious noblewoman. He finds himself in the middle of a shocking attack by the Deep Kings, one that should not be possible. Only a fearsome show of power from the very woman he is seeking saves him.

Once, long ago, he knew the woman well, and together they stumble onto a web of conspiracy that threatens to unmake everything they hold dear and end the fragile peace the Engine has provided. Galharrow is not ready for the truth about the blood he’s spilled and the gods he’s supposed to serve.

I goblinized the cover a bit to add Crowfoot, one of the nameless..

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OK that is some Blurb but let’s delve in to what it is saying in a bit more depth. First off the Misery. Well the Misery is when your number 1 fan kidnaps you and… oh wait wrong one. This misery while also being like hell on earth was created by one of the nameless as a kind of buffer zone between kingdoms. Oh, the Nameless are like Demi-Gods and so are the Deep Kings but they go about things a bit differently. But back to the Misery It is a buffer zone of hell on earth that has the annoying habit of trying to kill everyone that walks in to it. A place where you need a navigator with an astrolabe to find your way out. And that leaves you sick for days after you leave like you are going through heroin withdrawals. That is if you are not killed right off the bat by some of the beasties roaming around.

And this wonderful setting is where this book begins. This is written in first person. But while most First Person POV’s are the narrator telling their own story. This one is more like being in the mind of a man that is a drunk and borderline insane. A man that is haunted by so many ghosts of his past that this unreliable narrator goes back and forth between telling the story to some really weird places and random thoughts, and I absolutely loved it. Ryhalt Galharrow has a way about him that made me like him from the start. The pacing is steady throughout and by that, I mean it starts with action and never slows down.

The thing I really liked about this book was its originality. I mean yes, the writing style is extremely original. But what I am talking about is the originality of the story elements. Everything from the magic and monsters to the setting and style, they are all wonderfully new. I should warn you this is a pretty GrimDark world with plenty of death and carnage, but it is not gratuitous. The gore is part of the story not just there for shock value.

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you are tired of the same old thing in every fantasy book that you read, then this book is a must. Blackwing is not only a magnificent story that is brilliantly written, but it is also outstandingly original. A truly remarkable debut book. I give Blackwing By Ed McDonald 5 out of 5 stars.

Get a copy of Blackwing

  1. Amazon
  2. Audible
  3. Barnes & Noble
  4. Kobo
  5. Apple iBooks
  6. Google Play
  7. Abebooks
  8. Book Depository
  9. Indigo
  10. Half.com

Hob’s Review of White Trash Zombie Unchained (White Trash Zombie #6) by Diana Rowland

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Yes I Goblinized the cover lol

White Trash Zombie Unchained (White Trash Zombie #6)

by Diana Rowland

 

Paperback, 336 pages

Expected publication: September 5th 2017 by DAW

 

This is the sixth book in the series so it will have some spoilers. You have been warned!

OK first spoiler zombies are real. Psst don’t tell anyone! Angle ….er I mean Angel is a poor white trash girl with lots of potential that just wants to use brains, for the betterment of society. But the brains she uses are not always her own. Yes, Angel is a zombie that works as a morgue tech and is just starting her first year at community college.  She is also a member of the Tribe a zombie organization working for the safety of all zombies.

 

That should be enough to get you up to date on Angel. And where I am coming from with the review. For this book, I received an E-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I love the covers for all the books in this series but this is my favorite so far. Even though going with the title the gators should be unchained. For the first 5 books I listened to the audiobook and I loved the narration. But I don’t know if it was me actually reading this one or if the author has just gotten better but the quick joking dialog with some of her friends both ones in the know about her “Z” situation and ones that don’t felt more natural and flowed better than in previous books.

 

That dialog is also just great dialog plain and simple. As for this story, the threat of a real Zombie breakout amped up the tension to a much greater scale than previous books which I liked. I won’t actually give any spoilers for this book but the tension gets pretty high. It’s not that hard to figure it all out but it was fun to ride along even though I could see many of the reveals coming early. And I have to say it was a warm fuzzy ending.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Great Dialog really brought out the personality of Angel for me more than in the previous books. And what a great personality it is. I admit I would love to meet a girl like her, well maybe one that ate less brains. But my fictiophilia suffering aside it was a fun read. I am going to give White Trash Zombie Unchained 4.75 stars

 

Get a copy of White Trash Zombie Unchained

  1. Amazon
  2. Audible
  3. Barnes & Noble
  4. Kobo
  5. Apple iBooks
  6. Google Play
  7. Abebooks
  8. Book Depository

Hob’s review of The Land By Aleron Kong books 1,2, and 3

This is a combined book review of the first 3 books in a series The Land: Founding: A LitRPG Saga: Chaos Seeds, Book 1   The Land: Forging: Chaos Seeds, Book 2 and The Land: Alliances: A LitRPG Saga: Chaos Seeds, Book 3 as always I wont give spoilers.

Congratulations! You have found Padded Word Count. Item weight 50.07 kilograms. Item Durability 28,0000 out of 345,612 Item class Common. Item quality superb.  Traits makes a short book even easier to write, by filling 10 to 15 percent of the pages with item descriptions. Cooldown 1 second.

For those not familiar with the concept of LitRPG. It is a genre of scifi and fantasy novels where the protagonist is in a game world of some type. This can be a virtual world or an actual other world Unfortunately, a lot of times it feels kind of like reading the logfile of a game with childish dialog added in.

This series is actually pretty good I would say it’s in the top 10 LitRPG series I have read so far but it has some major flaws that I will point out.

First of all, this is one of the human sucked in to game world forever kind of litRPG, and so far we don’t know much about how that happened. But what we do know is so generic I would say at this point it is the worst getting to the game scenarios I have come across. Once our hero is in the world the story is pretty unique though. With a major focus on building a town instead of just raiding dungeons and stuff.

The main character was a Medical student back on earth but we would never really know that if it was not said flat out.  Even in his own thoughts when he is injured he never even remotely thinks anything technical. And in this third instalment of the series he seems to be turning ever more in to the obnoxious teen with his yelling out Fuck Yeah and using Rick and Morty references and worst of all, when referring to large loot drops screaming out give me the Cheddar.

Congratulations! You have found the word Cheddar. Item weight 0.05 kilograms. Item Durability 13 out of 62 Item class all too Common. Item quality subpar.  Traits makes Protagonist look like a stupid douchbag teen Cooldown five minutes.

I will admit I may be geting a bit sick of LitRPG in general. So many of them have the same faults. For this series, I have been listening to the audiobooks read by Nick Podehl and if it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t want to continue this series.  That being said I am vaguely curious to see where it will go. If it goes anywhere that is. In the second and third books not much happens to move the plot along.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The excellent narration and the fact that the main story arc is original is enough to keep me coming back. But somehow the shortest book, book 1 at just over 9 hours had more stuff happen then the combined 22 hours of books 2 and 3. Hopefully more will happen in the next book and the progression of the protagonist to a teen hipster will stop or at least slow down. I give The Land: Founding: A LitRPG Saga: Chaos Seeds, Book 1 4 stars and both  The Land: Forging: Chaos Seeds, Book 2 and The Land: Alliances: A LitRPG Saga: Chaos Seeds, Book 3 get 3 stars

Congratulations! You have found an awesome Book Review. Item weight 1.5 kilograms. Item Durability 15 out of 15 Item class rare. Item quality superb.  Traits hopefully lets you know what you are in for if you pick up a book, while at the same time making you smile or even laugh just a bit.

Hob’s Review of Revenant Winds by Mitchell Hogan

The Blurb.

In a world devastated by a series of cataclysms over millennia, where the followers of different gods vie for ascendancy, mankind carves out a precarious existence among the remnants of a desolated past. Cities and civilizations are built atop mysterious and ofttimes menacing ruins, and the unforgiving wilderness beyond is filled with inhuman creatures and races from before the dawn of history. Sorcery is seen by some as a gift of the gods, and by others as their curse. And the demon-ravaged past has all but been forgotten.

As a secret cabal schemes to awaken an evil thought defeated millennia ago, the lives of three unlikely heroes are fated to converge:

Aldric, a veteran priest and sorcerer, who seeks acceptance from the church that shuns him. On the brink of their approval, he receives a mission that brings him face to face with a long-buried evil.

Niklaus, master swordsman, and slave to his goddess, who plots to split the veil between life and death and ascend to become her equal.

Kurio, the runaway daughter of a noble family, now turned to thievery, who stumbles across a disturbing secret that binds her future to infernal designs.

Drawn toward a horrifying endgame by an unknown force, Aldric, Niklaus, and Kurio find themselves in a battle not only for their lives, but for the beliefs that have come to define them.

A wrong decision, an overreaching ambition, or the failure of an already tormented faith, is all it will take to plunge mankind into an eternal dark.

 

I received an E-ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences what I say. As always, my opinions are completely my own.

I love the cover although it might not fly with some people, but only if they are fools. Ok that was a pretty bad joke even for me, but just let it pass. Sorry not sorry.

Gandalf_confronts_balrog

The truth is that is not the Balrog on the cover. Who it is though I am not sure. I believe it is supposed to Nysrog. The mega demon that almost ended humanity a few hundred or thousand years ago. But as he never actually makes an appearance in the book that is just a guess. The book is self-published and I must say it was extremely well edited as far as grammatical errors go, but it could use a bit of continuity tweaks. We all know that time is a wibbly wobbly thing. but there are 2 or 3 parts where it gets stretched and warped a bit confusingly to me. It’s not that big of a deal but each time it kind of threw my out of the story.

Revenant Winds takes place in a world of Gods and Demons magic and monsters. We experience this tale vicariously through 3 remarkably different POVs.

First is Aldric, a priest blessed by his god with healing powers but also blessed (or as he sees it cursed with Arcane magic ability and he hates that he must use his magic. He would rather work at the church using his god given healing ability. But even in a church that sees wizards as marginally better then demons he is forced to use his magic to safeguard ancient catacombs and burial sites from looters that might just bring demons out instead of gold. His introspection and self-pity made him unlikable at first. It took about 3/4th of the book before I started to like Aldric but he won me over in the end.

Next, we have Niklaus. He was my favorite character in the book by far. He is the chosen sword of a goddess and pretty much immortal. He has been roaming around running errands for his goddess for a very long time. How long is unclear but somewhere between 400 and 4,000 years. He is in love with his goddess (who is a total tease) and is looking for a way to become a god so they can be together.

 

Kurio is an interesting one. Born in to a noble family but abused by everyone she ran away and has been living as a thief making a decent bit of gold.

Now let’s look at the magic. Every sorcerer has a dawn and a dusk well of power. They will leak if not used but slowly and they are not usually the same size, so you might have to only fill the dawn well once a week and dusk every night.  To fill them they must be outside and meditating at sunset or sunrise. That part is well thought out and logical (if you can use that term for a fictional power) The actual using of the magic is pretty vague.  It is explained as a kind of mental math using equations as spells. They have little totems they carry with some of the equations on them to speed the process. That part just felt like a bit too much or not enough Handwavium. Other than that, I really liked the idea of this magic system.

Now let’s get back to Nysrog. He was a Demon that led armies to destroy humanity but he had his own human mages on his side. After he was sent back to the hells he came from, the human bad guys went into hiding vowing to re summon Ol’ Nys again. This is one of the wibbley wobbly timey wimey things I am not sure of. in the book the earth has been hit by 5 or 6 Cataclysms. And after each one humans rebuilt and then forgot what had caused it and even somehow managed to get new Gods. And I am pretty sure that the Cataclysms happened after Nys was here to party like it was 1999. Unless humans are able to build from the ground up then forget what made the world almost end really fast, Nys would need to have been gone a really long time. There are a few reasons that just conflict each other about the time line here but I don’t want to give spoilers as to why so I’ll just say I don’t think he has been gone that long.

The other main thing that made time seem to flow weird was when it took 4 days to get the horses and equipment ready to leave on an urgent mission to save a village. When they had the full backing of 2 churches the town guard and unlimited funds. That just seemed strange to me. I could literally go and gather a dozen horses, tack and gear for a week IN MY TOWN today in 2 hours tops. And although I do live in Payson, Arizona the town that is home to the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo (132 years) I wouldn’t think it would be much harder to get horses in a fantasy town

FINAL THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed the book It had some fresh ideas and good dialog and I look forward to the next one in the series. It may seem like kind of a harsh review but I am just nitpicking. I think the more inexperienced reader, or maybe just people that read less fantasy than I do wouldn’t be bothered by the strange movement of time or lack thereof. In the end, I am going to give Revenant Winds 3.75 stars.

Interview with Jennifer M Baldwin and a Giveaway

I found some great books by following the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off also known as SPFBO last year. And while I am not a judge I am following even closer this year. Somehow I even talked a few of the contestants into doing an interview and giving away free books. The first in the hot seat is Jennifer M Baldwin and she had some great answers to my questions so …. um .. well here they are…….

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{Bob you are not Batman! If anything you should have a crown or something….}

 

  1. If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in your FIRST book?

The Thirteen Treasures of Britain is my first published book. I am not sure I would change anything because it is what it is, and I don’t believe in changing a piece of work after the fact (not counting typos or huge continuity errors). But I do know that for some readers, my book might start off a little slow. I was reading The Last Unicorn when I was working on those early chapters, and I feel like I was channeling Peter S. Beagle maybe a little too much. I got caught up in making sure the style and tone were what I wanted and perhaps didn’t give enough thought to what modern readers expect as far as action. I don’t open with an exciting action scene, or with some history-defining epic battle. It’s just a wizard having a weird dream and going insane.

  1. Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

All the time. I am deeply shallow.

 

(I LOVE this answer)

  1. What FRAKING side are you on of the fictional curse debate? Any in your books?

I wish I had more fraking curse words in my book! Frak!

Not too many fictional curses, alas, but I tried to come up with some creative exclamations (think: “Great Caesar’s Ghost!”) The usual, “Oh my God!” wouldn’t really work because my characters are either pre-Christian types or talking animals or fairies. I tried to have characters say things like, “By the oaks!” or “Thank the winds!” Nature-y stuff, basically.

In general, though, I’m in favor of fictional curse words. They’re fun.

  1. Have you ever had a side character try to steal the show? Would you like to go back and make a spin off series or something for them? Or is there a theme or idea you’d love to be able to explore in more depth?

My side characters always steal the show. I eventually realize that these “side” characters would be much better as main characters – and that I should drop my dull as dish-water protagonists and replace them with the cool side people.  Some of my best stories resulted from ditching the original protagonist and going ahead with the side character.  I’m a terrible date, I guess. I don’t dance with the one who brought me.

  1. If you could read any book again for the first-time, what book would it be?

Can I say “D. None of the above”? I love discovering new books and falling in love with them, but honestly, I wouldn’t want to read any of them again as if “for the first time.” My favorite books are the ones that only get better each time I reread them. I suppose, if I had to choose, I would say The Chronicles of Narnia. But in choosing them, I’m not really wishing I could read them again for the first time – I’m wishing I could relive the moments of my childhood when I read them for the first time. That’s what I’d love to return to: the thrilling wonder of my childhood, when I first discovered my love for fantasy.

 

  1. Four children have small toys. The first child has 1/10 of the toys, the second child has 12 more toys than the first and is looking at him and going nananannaanna, the third child has one less toy then the first child has, so is crying at the top of their lungs. And the fourth child has double the toys of the third child then takes 5 from the first child. No question here just a flash back to when I ran a daycare…

This non-question feels like my life… (I’m a mom.)

  1. How many books have you written, how many have you tried to publish, and how many are in print?

Books written (in total): Four (a fifth is on the way…)

Tried to publish (and did!): One

In print: One (it’s very glossy and pretty)

{Yes, Yes it is and we will be giving an autographed one of them away to one lucky person that comments on this post}

  1. Have you found any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

The crushing disappointment of realizing that no one I meet in real life cares that I’m a novelist. (I usually get an “Oh, that’s nice!” which is the Midwest’s way of saying, “So what’s your real job?”)

  1. What was the hardest thing about self-publishing that you didn’t expect?

Getting newsletter sign-ups. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but then I look around at people with, like, 100,000 people on their mailing lists, and they just published their first book a month ago (this might be a slight exaggeration), and I’m completely baffled. How did they do it? I suck at getting newsletter sign-ups.

  1. How many people have you killed over the course of your career?  Real people first, then fictional.

I’m an English teacher, so I’m more into crushing people’s souls with the withering criticisms I write on their papers. Soul crushing is much more satisfying than outright killing.

Fictional people? Not sure. A dozen? Do non-humans count? If so, then double it. Nay, triple it. I like killing monster-y things and bad guys.

{That has to be one of the greatest quotes ever! “I’m an English teacher, so I’m more into crushing people’s souls”}

  1. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?  Did it end up helping? Or did we just count that person in question10?

I can’t think of one in particular, but I value pretty much all of the criticism I’ve been given. My 11th grade English teacher once made me rewrite and revise an essay four times, and at first I griped, but when the process was complete, I ended up with one of the best pieces I’ve ever written. She didn’t do it to punish me; she did it to help me and make me grow as a writer. That’s why I like criticism; it makes me better. Even if I don’t end up using a suggestion from someone, just by thinking about it, by considering it, I come to a better understanding of my own choices and why I’m making them.

  1. What has been the best compliment?

James Tivendale from Fantasy Book Review told me in a tweet that he thought my writing for Thirteen Treasures was “stunning.” My insides are still a giant puddle of goo from seeing that.

  1. Do you have any advice to give a new writer?

Oh, I have so much… I am an English teacher, after all! I would say that new writers need to really work on tone and word choice. Nothing throws me out of a piece faster than when a writer uses a word that doesn’t fit with the tone of the story. I also think that reading and writing poetry can be a great way to flex and strengthen writing muscles. Finally, when it comes to learning how to structure a story and write characters, I would suggest a little-known screenwriting book called Writing the Character-Centered Screenplay by Andrew Horton. Yes, it’s mostly about  screenwriting, but many of the principles apply to fiction in general. It’s a great book.

  1. What was the last book you read? Was it any good?

Just an obscure little book called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was quite good; I think that series might have potential…

  1. What one question do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?

You forgot to ask me my favorite Smiths song (in Thirteen Treasures, Merlin is a fan of 80s New Wave). For the record, it’s “Bigmouth Strikes Again.”

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

If you could be any knight of the Round Table, which would you be and why?

{ I would be Madmartigan the greatest swordsman that has ever lived of course!

1Madmartigan

Just kidding. Seriously though I would want to be Sir Gawain. The poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was one of the things that got me into fantasy. I think I read it in 3rd grade}

And that’s it! See it wasn’t that painful, for me anyway, and that’s what really matters right? And as I mentioned above Jenifer has generously donated a signed copy of The Thirteen Treasures of Britain to giveaway to one lucky reader. This is open to all. One winner will be chosen randomly on August 18th around 10:00 pm and will be announced soon after.

All you need to do is Comment below on this post and you are entered. Then, while not necessary you might as well share this post on Facebook, Twitter or whatever since you are already here. and I put those little button things down below. Everyone likes to push buttons.

But don’t forget to comment on this post before you leave.

 

Links:

The Thirteen Treasures of Britain on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N3O8PWD

iBooks, Barnes & Noble, other retailers: https://www.books2read.com/u/47kVE8

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-thirteen-treasures-of-britain-1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dereliction_row

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmbaldwinwriter/

Website: http://www.jmbaldwinwriter.com/

 

The winner has been chosen. Thanks to everyone that entered.

13

Hob’s review of The Bound Folio by Rob J. Hayes

The Bound Folio (The Ties That Bind #3.5)

Paperback, 226 pages

I really enjoyed this one. It is a bunch of short stories each one from the POV of a different Character. Some I already had met in Where Loyalties Lie some were new to me. Well that’s not true All of the POV’s were new to me but some of the Characters I had met as non POV characters before.

Each story was fairly short but damn can Rob pack a whole lot of emotion in to a short story. I would not have believed how much until I read this. Seriously, at one point I was wishing I could have entered the book and ripped a guy named Kav’s balls off and made him eat them. Too much you say? A little violent? Well read the book, when you get to that part you might well want to do worse and you will most likely be crying while you think about it. But just because almost all of the stories are guaranteed to make you feel strong emotions, not all the stories were on the bad end of the spectrum. No, you will feel just about every emotion possible at one point or another while reading this book. If it were possible to see emotions I would have probably looked like this while reading.

emotions

Actually I may very well have looked that way anyway but that’s beside the point……

My only complaint would be that it was too short. Well that and there is no time scale other than the first story shows someone as a young boy, and he is in his late 20’s to early 30s in Where Loyalties Lie, and the last story shows someone entering the town they had just arrived in at the beginning of that book.  I take it that its planned to be that way and it’s not that big of a deal but this being only the second book of Rob’s that I have read I wanted more. So, I ended up starting The Heresy Within (The Ties That Bind, #1) right after I finished this one to try and figure out the timeline. And I have a huge TBR pile of other books I should be reading. Curse you ROB HAYES!!!

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I just don’t know how a book of short stories could make me feel such strong emotions. But it did. So, I am going to leave you with a warning. Beware this book will make you emotionally unstable! In the space of a few hundred pages your heart will swell with pride for the squires and Burn with anger at the street toughs. You will weep with the merchant and cheer on the assassin.  And if you are like me you will shake your head in disbelief that you still can’t decide if you love or hate the pirate. So I give The Bound Folio 4.75 stars and a tribute to Browny.

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