Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Crusader (Saint Tommy, NYPD Book 5)

Crusader is here.

Still working abroad, Detective Tommy Nolan has a hot tip that leads him to Germany. Women and children are disappearing from Catholic Bavaria. The local police have their hands tied. Tommy is the last hope for answers.

Yet again, Tommy is in over his head. What starts as a sex trafficking ring turns into a terrorist conspiracy to unleash Hell on Europe. To stop it, Tommy must fight Nazi vampires, terrorists, and a swarm of succubi who want him as their next meal. Tommy has always crusaded for justice. But now he might be on his last crusade.
This one has everything.

We have Winged Hussars.
We have Jihadi Nazi vampires.
We have succubi running a sex trafficking ring.
We have the nightclub scene from John Wick (dead puppy not included).
We have telekinetic teenagers.
We have mechs versus kaiju dragons -- yes, I managed to stuff in one of those, too.

And we have a cover.

Not bad, huh.

You can get Crusader here

Thursday, June 20, 2019

500 Vampires, No Waiting

When discussing panel possibilities at LibertyCon, I kind threw a bunch of ideas into the ether.

Apparently, one of them got picked up.

So, of course, I'm moderating.
500 Vampires, No Waiting
How many vampire types are out there? Do you prefer the supernatural? The aliens? The Wesley Snipes movies? Declan Finn moderates this panel on the many varieties of Nosferatu.
  • Karen Bogen
  • David L. Burkhead
  • Declan Finn
  • Amie Gibbons
  • Louise Herring-Jones
  • Daniel Humphreys
  • Tom Tinney
With six people on the panel (not counting myself) this is going to be interesting. The 60 minute panels are closer to 50 or 55 minutes. I figure I may not have time for more than six or seven questions.

For the record, this is an evolving post. I'm going to edit it with any additional content from other members of the panel. And yes, I'm going to give the authors the questions ahead of time so they don't have to think all that hard about it.
1) Let's go down the panel and have all of our panelists introduce themselves. If you could touch a little bit on your vampire "cred," that would be great.

2) There are so many varieties of vampires out there it's almost hard to keep track. There are the supernatural vampires -- be they Bram Stoker's "zombies with fangs," as his great grand nephew Dacre Stoke put it, the vampire courts of Jim Butcher, Larry Correia's, or even Sherrilyn Kenyon and Laurell K Hamilton. Then there are the superpredators -- the Atlantian nanotechnology of Lyndsay Sands, the vampires of Blade, or even, dare I say it, vampires that sparkle. What is your own, particular spin on vampires and vampirism? Supernatural or super predator? And why did you decide to go that way?

3) What is your favorite vampire story, or vampire type, that was not created by you? What was it about the particular spin that you enjoyed?

4) In all of the vampire media that you've been exposed to, what do you find is the worst execution of vampires? Please try to avoid any answers that involve the word "sparkling."

5) What are your thoughts on totally secularizing vampires that are supernatural? Where they have all the powers and abilities of the original Dracula, and yet have no relationship with crosses?
Even at one minute per person and per question, that's at least thirty minutes... thirty-five if I add a comment or two. This doesn't even count questions from the audience.

If you have a question you want to ask any of these guys, let me know, and I'll see what I can squeeze in.

Meanwhile, if you're interested, have a glance at my own version of vampires with the Dragon award nominated series Love at First Bite.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Playlist For City of Shadows

Okay, I'm now just going to get a little lazy as far as my playlist post, because, good Lord, I have a lot of music written down.

I think I should have just made it a blog post listing all of the music

Chapter 6

  • 365
  • Inferno
  • Countdown
  • Helix
  • My Haven
  • Maximize
  • Trinity

Chapter 19
  • Winged Hussars
  • The Last Battle
  • Rourke’s Drift

Chapter 22

Covers by Minniva on YouTube.
  • Hearts on Fire,
  • To Hell and Back

Chapter 23

From the Doctor Strange soundtrack

  • End Credits
  • Strange Suite

Thor Suite (from Thor The Dark world)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Review of Daniel Humphreys Night's Black Agents

Night's Black Agents (Paxton Locke Book 2) by [Humphreys, Daniel]
So, this is a fun one.

If you don't recall, a while back I reviewed Dan Humphreys first Paxton Locke novel, Fade. It was a fun variant of everything you love about Harry Dresden. Magic used in inventive ways. Much snark. Solid fight scenes. It's all in the review.

And now, we have the sequel, Night's Black Agents.  It came out last year. Though I genuinely waited for book three to be near completion before I reviewed it.

Why? We'll get to that.
Paxton got the crap kicked out of him foiling his mother’s plans.

Even that isn’t enough to keep him in one place. Mother is still on the loose after all, and there’s no telling what that evil witch is up to. With his new partner (don’t call her a sidekick!) Cassie, Paxton heads to Arizona to help an old police friend with a supernatural murder problem.

But Mother isn’t content to lay low now that she’s out of jail. She’s got a brand new coven, and she wants her grimoire back. Now. Nothing will stop her from getting her spellbook back, not even her son. Or the ancient stirring in its sleep in the Valley of the Sun.

Paxton’s faced witches, ghosts, and shadow demons, but can he handle an ancient god? With the lives of two young boys hanging in the balance, he can’t back down.
The book has two arcs. One is a subplot detailing the travails of Mother Dearest after her escape from supermax in the last novel -- as well as the hunt by Humphreys own version of the Monster Control Bureau -- only with a different mission.

Our main plot follows Paxton hot on the trail of a magical murderer. The book opens only a week after the end of Fade. (Even Harry Dresden gets more time to rest.) And it begins with "I was halfway through a stack of pancakes when the dead guy walked in the door." Probably the best opening line since "The building was on fire, but it wasn't my fault." (Yes, I hate to open with comparing it to a line from The Dresden Files, but really, it's one of the few works I can compare it to. One of the lines in the novel is literally "With the exception of magic, the only real talent I had was taking a beating." -- tell me that doesn't sound like Jim Butcher.)

We open with a random encounter ... which will become less random over time. Because this random encounter sees Paxton for what he is, and sees him as a snack.

And this is just the opening.

There are a lot of "oh crap" moments like this scattered throughout my notes. Looking at notes I made on the kindle, many of my comments even at the start of the book are "Oy." "Oh crap," "Aw f***", and "What do you mean she has groupies!?" et al. (By the way, a line for Larry Correia fans: "Forensic accounting, it seemed, was a class of sorcery all its own.")

It's even worse when Mother Dearest turns into Kilgrave from Jessica Jones, only creepier.

And all these comments are from Chapter 1. It just gets better from there.

Of course, Dan has great lines to put a backspin on tropes. As Paxton describes his world: "Sheer moments of terror followed by hours of law enforcement shouting." And there are a bunch of ... re-purposed lines from classic Star Wars (as opposed to EU novel Star Wars, as we all know, there were no other films). And all of the one-liners are fun: "an orphaned teenager with sudden-onset wizard syndrome was a fertile field for the corrupting possibility of power," or even the casual "Buddy, you're about the ninth worst thing I've seen this week."

Now, I really must compliment Dan on making an interesting federal agency to hunt black magic. These are obviously fictional feds, as the characters are colorful, interesting and entertaining. Also, to add to the humor, they're attached to ATF (or BATFE, if you want to be picky).  I guess black magic is a sort of firearm. They have their own R and D section, complete with the sort of mad tinkerers you'd expect to be working in Q's lab.

Hell, to be perfectly honest, while I tend to skip the sections on the villains (which is a mistake I made for the Honor Harrington series... oops) Humphreys manages to make these sections readable and tolerable, but more importantly, relevant to the plot as a whole. This is the point where Humphreys fits in magical mechanics in a way that doesn't make your eyes bleed. Hell, who am I kidding, he actually takes the time and effort to MAKE MAGIC MAKE SENSE. (I'm not naming names, JK). Mother turns into a little bit of a Final Fantasy villain, but it makes more sense in book 3.

Not to mention that the Mother subplot is put to great effect when the villain of the week is enough to make her nervous.

And the feds hunting Mother actually serves to tie the main arc plot very neatly back to the primary plot for the individual novel. Overall, it's a great balance of series arc and book plot.

(If the author is reading this review, I just got to this exchange
"So, what, you think this is the end of the world?"
"Maybe. Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. Fire and brimstone."
Ahem.... smartass).

And Humphreys does a great job of slow world building. Just casual references to gremlins on satellites, or magical abilities of X or Y person. 

Now here comes the boom.
So, why did I wait so long to review this? Because this ends on a cliffhanger.

Imagine the first time you ever saw The Empire Strikes Back. Now imagine if it stopped with Luke dangling in mid-air in Cloud city, Han is still frozen in carbonite, and the last we saw of the Millennium Falcon, it was being chased by TIE-fighters into the clouds.

That's what the end of this book felt like. My last note on the book is two words, and they are often favored by Samuel L. Jackson.

Don't worry. Book three is around the corner. It's coming out the last weekend in June. So if you haven't read Night's Black Agents yet, you needn't worry, you won't have to wait a year for the awesome conclusion. And yes, I've read the ARC for the novel already, and I have notes for that review as well.

Some days, it's good to be the writer. Free books happen.

Until then, if you haven't yet, you can buy Fade and Night's Black Agents here, and by the time you get to the cliffhanger, book 3 should be out. I'll update this post with the link for book 3 when it drops.

If you have gotten them, then I can also suggest Saint Tommy NYPD, which has also garnered a comparison or two to the Dresden files.

And you can check out the latest Dragon Award discussion right here.

Monday, June 17, 2019

City of Shadows review

Once again, Jim McCoy delivers a fun, entertaining review of one of my novels,

This time, City of Shadows.

This excerpt is going to be shorter than normal, otherwise, I'd be just reposting the entire article.
St. Tommy is up to his neck in trouble this time around. Things are not well in the British capital and our hero smells a rat. Or maybe something worse. What smells worse that a rat? Oh, yeah. London. London smells worse than a rat. Seriously, Tommy thinks it stinks. Oh, and without giving too much away, the title of the book fits. For the purposes of the novel, London really is a City of Shadows.
This part, however... :)
I've review a lot of Finn's work here, probably more than anyone else's. There is a reason for that: It's because no matter how good his characters are (like St. Tommy) or how evil they are (as the one in City of Shadows) they always seem to be human. Even saints aren't perfect. Even villains think they're doing the right thing. People react the way they do because they have motivations and they react accordingly. Finn doesn't forget this....
Of course, the threats in City of Shadows are both manifold and insidious. Finn features real world problems in the work. I like that. Nothing in this world works one hundred percent the way it was intended to and Finn points out some of those errors. He does not see fit to play nice either. I approve. The British government has done several things in recent years that have been damaging to their citizens. At least on this side of the Atlantic we're free to point that out. Good for him.

I would be careful of your timing while reading City of Shadows. I was having a slow day at work one day (I'm a Lyft driver) and I was parked in a parking lot reading the book on my phone because why not when my phone went off. I got stopped at a rather suspenseful part of the novel. I'm a afraid I may have found myself more interested in completing the ride and reading the next little bit than I was in continuing on with my shift afterward. This is a threat posed by every good book, but with Finn it's a stronger compulsion than with most. Don't let that stop you though. If you're not looking to get lost in a book why would you read one anyway? This one is worth your time and money. Go get it.

Click here to read the entire review.

You can pick up the entire Saint Tommy series to date right here.

And you can check out the latest Dragon Award discussion right here.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

E3 is out again. And they have new trailers, and stuff.

And they start with .... Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

I'm sorry, call me cynical, call me borderline depressed, but is it just me, or does this feel like "Hey! Let's steal concepts from the past ten years of gaming to make a game that could have felt fresh about five years ago?"

No, seriously, they're stealing from Rogue One (Forrest Whittaker), the wall-walking of Titanfall, the platforming of the current Tomb Raider franchise, all to have another "this Jedi didn't die."

And I see Microsoft's name all over it. Yup. This isn't a winner by my lights.

But it looks shiny.... is this supposed to be a system seller?

The answer is no -- it's also available on PS4.

And it's also brought to you by EA. Expect this to be 4 hours of gameplay, and 12 hours of DLC and endless hours of multiplayer.

So you don't feel deprived, here, have some gameplay footage. It'll probably be all the entertainment value you're going to get from this.  There you'l get to see that they stole finishers from the Shadow of Mordor series, too.

Rating: Buy it used from somewhere other than Gamestop.

One last note: "A jedi, this is what I've trained for"? The Jedi are supposed to be dead. Why would you train for this?

Here, have something less depressing than the last echos of a dead franchise.

Either: Take a look at a real superhero.


 Contribute to something fresh and new -- take a look at our Dragon Awards Discussion.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Dragon Awards Discussion, June 2019

The eligibility period for the Dragons is coming to a close -- but... and I feel I must stress this,

Voting doesn't close until July 19.

That's right. Anything that comes out before the deadline of June 30th is eligible, but voting cuts off on July 19th. So if you haven't voted yet, mind the date.

The last time I wrote up one of these posts, China Mike G Liar and his bots over at Vile 770 stated that I was simply nominating my friends for Dragons.... You know, because I am such good and dear friends with Timothy Zahn and David Weber. I mean yes, I'm sure it's fun to hang out with the goats on Bokerah Brumley's farm, but she's a little far from New York City for my taste. And while I like Doctor Hans Schantz, Alabama is a little out of the way for my usual commute. And I don't even know Philip Ligon. I'm not even sure I'm Facebook friends with him.

As China Mike only has Chinese bots to read his blog, I can understand why he cannot grasp the concept of a "friend," or distinguish them from "working acquaintance." After all, he has neither. Then again, the last time I scrolled through the wretched hive of scum and villainy he calls a blog, I noted that his closest correspondent lately is highly unreliable.

Though if China Mike G. Liar were interested in facts, I will merely say that I do not ONLY nominate friends -- though I will make damn certain to edit out people who have declared themselves my enemy. And Hell, if 770 trolls wanted to pitch in, I'm sure we could take their suggestions under advisement.

Anyway, let the discussion begin. And yes, I've got additional suggestions kicking around from you folks who came to play

And yes, I said discussion.

I'd like people to come on, and tell me what you want to see nominated. I've yet again already made adjustments to the list below. I haven't changed who I'm voting for yet, since something would need to blow my socks off to change my mind.

And do me a favor, huh? Before you pitch in a suggestion, READ THROUGH THE POST AND MAKE CERTAIN IT'S NOT ALREADY LISTED.

But I want to make certain that this become a DISCUSSION.

Now, again, please remember the eligibility is from the start of July 2018 to the end of June 2019.

So, let's continue.
* * * * * *  * *

Best Science Fiction Novel

I have already reviewed Heroes Fall by Morgon Newquist. You might think .... whatever you like. But this was one Hell of a solid novel, and some of the best SF I've read in years.

What is it? Superheroes. If you liked Astro City, or JMS's Rising Stars, or, hell, the MCU, you're going to want to read this one, and I think you're going to agree with me that it's pretty kickass.

Now, as was suggested last time, Richard Paolinelli has a new book out, called When the Gods Fell. I still haven't read the damn thing yet. I should do something bizarre and turn my damn kindle on.

A Facebook friend of mine, MA Rothman, has an SF book out that might be of interest.

Also, Christopher Ruocchio would like people to recall that his novel, Empire of Silence has also come out. He's a Twitter acquaintance and he seems to work for someone called.... Baen?  :)

Nathan, from the Pulp Archivist has Pop Kult Warlord, by Cole.

A Mr John Boyd suggested in my comments on the April post for Causes of Separation by Travis Corcoran. It was seconded by Karl Gallagher. So there may be some competition this year.

Someone else suggested Super-Sync by Kevin Ikenberry. Yes, this time, I found the lousy book.

Best Fantasy Novel 
(Including Paranormal)

I have not yet reviewed Bokerah Brumley's "Keepers of New Haven: Woe for a Faerie" on my blog. However, I can tell you that it has some interesting ideas and concepts.

I had considered putting one of Daniel Humphreys Paxton Locke novels up for this one (again, I got the ARC. Heh heh heh), but he was more interested in emphasizing another topic.

Also, to be honest, while I know the book is done, I don't know when it's going to be released, so there's that too.

Nathan has thrown in a suggestions for this one:  Sword of Kaigen, by M. L. Wang. I honestly cannot speak to this one, since I haven't read it yet. Then he wanted to add Sowing Dragon Teeth, by James Alderdice.

... I'll be over here, still nominating Brumley.

Karl Gallagher has sent me a copy of his book The Lost War, so I have to make time for that... again, it would help if I just turned on the damned kindle.

Best YA / Middle Grade Novel

The Kings Regret by Ligon is finally flipping out.


That only felt like forever.

Yet another review I owe just another person. Sigh. It's Steampunk YA.

Lucky for him, Jagi hasn't come out with another Rachel Griffin novel.

Nathan, however, does have another option: Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, vol. 12, by Omori...  I have looked it up and concluded that yes, this is a novel, despite the cover. Honest. I was confused there for a moment.

Nathan's comment from last post was
"decent novel, horrible title full of false advertising. Rather than the adventures of a rake, a young teen decides to be an adventurer, but has to get rescued when he gets in over his head. He crushes on his rescuer, and the puppy love drives him to become a hero worthy of fighting by her side."

Best Military SFF Novel

Daniel Humphrey's A Place For War... Yes, this is what Daniel wanted to be nominated in instead of his Night's Black Agents, so I concurred.

For the record, no, I have not yet read David Weber's Uncompromising Honor. I suspect he will not need additional support.

Nathan (and apparently Anspach and Cole) has another thought: Galaxy's Edge: Order of the Centurion.

Best Alternate History Novel

This was a tough one.

Because in addition to Hans Schantz's Brave and the Bold (reviewed here), you also have yet again another Robert Kroese Iron Dragon novel .... which I will admit, I have not read, but let's face it, Robert isn't going to start to suck at this late date, now is he?  The Iron Dragon has been seconded by a John Boyd in my comments from April's post.

So this should end well.

I think I'm going to stick with Brave and the Bold, if only because I haven't gotten to the others yet.

Nathan wants to add Rawle Nyanzi's Shining Tomorrow: Shadow Heart, which .... I don't actually think is alternate history, from the description, but I'm just plugging them in.

Best Media Tie-In Novel

Thrawn: Alliance
Timothy Zahn is doing a Thrawn novel. Your argument is so invalid, it's not even funny.

Nathan at Pulp Archivist wants to throw Realmslayer, by Guymer. It is apparently a Warhammer novel.

Best Horror Novel

This is funny, since by the time the Dragons comes out, I will have SIX horror novels eligible.

Hell Spawn
Death Cult
Infernal Affairs
City of Shadows
Crusader (Coming soon)
Deus Vult (Coming soon....ish)

..... But as I argued, it's best to nominate Hell Spawn and move on. And if you disagree and would like to nominate one of the other books in another category ... okay, but I'd like you not to split the vote too too much.

Please refer here for my thoughts on the matter.

Then again, Hell Spawn has already won an award, so yeah, it's worth it. It's endorsed by the CLFA for their book of the year, and Jim McCoy, Richard Paolinelli, and Karl Gallagher have all said they're voting for it. So... yeah, not bad.

Best Comic Book

Dark Maiden #2, by Jonathan Baird.

Joan of Arc fantasy comic book.

I dare you to find me something better.

Best Graphic Novel

Good question. Any ideas?

Nathan had one: Conan le Cimmérien - Le Colosse noir  .... I don't know why Nathan wanted it in French, but okay.

Though I'm tempted to say the comic adaptations of PD Wodehouse by Chuck Dixon, just because Jeeves and Wooser are just so much fun. And because Chuck Dixon may have been the best writer on Batman for 20 years.

Best SFF TV Series

I actually have a tossup on this one.

Okay, I had one. While I greatly enjoyed Reverie, which had some great ideas, solid executions, and generally well-done ... the series is cancelled. I shouldn't be surprised. It was a series over the summer.

So, I'm going to have to say God Friended Me ... It might actually be one of the better shows out there, with a solid character arc for everyone, even the bit players. And everything fit together brilliantly in the end.

I await the next season to screw it up, because television.

Best SFF Movie

The Meg...

No. No question. Just The Meg. Yes, I'm biased. Damn straight. I've only waited 20 flipping years for this movie. It's completely stupid and dumb fun, but that was all I really wanted.

Though wouldn't it be funny if it's The Meg vs Aquaman?

Water on water violence.

Though I await people to just tell me "Endgame."

Best SFF PC / Console Game

Spiderman, PS4, Insomniac games.

Yup. No hesitation. This was .... amazing.

As for ... Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game ....
Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game....

No idea.


Best SFF Miniatures / Collectible Card 
/ Role-Playing Game....

Nathan to the rescue on this one: Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team

Other nominees.

You might remember that last year, I had at least half a dozen nominees for each category....

Nope. Not anymore.

Again, the upcoming Daniel Humphreys' Come Seeling Night is something I'd suggest in paranormal, but he wanted military.

Unknown aslo seconded "A Pale Dawn for best Military Science Fiction novel."

....So, yeah, right now, I'm out of alternate suggestions at the moment. Maybe I'm just out of authors. Heck, I would love to nominated Simon R Green for Night Fall... but it is one of his lesser works, and really dropped the ball for the finale of his magnum opus, largely by having it as a crossover with a series I truly and deeply hate.

However, author and publisher Christ Kennedy has a set of choices. I put them all in one place since he's the one who gave me the most suggestions, next to Nathan.
  • Best Science Fiction Novel – Salvage Title, Kevin Steverson
  • Best Fantasy Novel – A Tangled Fate, Jon R. Osborne
  • Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel – Black and White, Mark Wandrey (Which I cannot find to link to, so, sorry)
  • Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel – A Pale Dawn, Kennedy and Wandrey
  • Best Alternate History Novel – The World Asunder, Kacey Ezell (Again, not out, so I can't link to it)
  • Best Media Tie-In Novel – The Replicant War, Chris Kennedy
  • Best Horror Novel – Darker Nights, Eric S. Brown
  • Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game – Turbolance, Ryan Kennedy and Noah Bowden
  • Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game – The Four Horsemen: Omega War, Clarion Games
If you want to give me alternate suggestions, please be sure to leave one in the comment -- author, title, and genre category.

As of now, let the discussions begin.

And if you want to vote RIGHT THIS MINUTE, that would be here.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Marina Fontaine reviews: Hell Spawn

Over at her blog, Marina Fontaine gives Hell Spawn a resounding review.

Just some highlights. You'll have to go to her blog for more.
I view Hell Spawn, the first in Finn's Saint Tommy, NYPD series, as essentially a superhero origin story .... the climax has him performing feats which would not be out of place in the next comics-based blockbuster.

Works for me.

In other hands, the tone of the story could have turned intolerably dark
It's a gift.

[Creates] an image of a city under siege from the forces of darkness which cannot be defeated by conventional means.
I call him DiBlasio. :)

From the title and the clear Catholic orientation of the novel, one might expect numerous pauses for theological discussions and explanation, but that's not the case. The required information comes to us in pithy chunks, never interfering with the pace or the steadily building tension leading to the climax. 
I'm always happy to pull that off.

Ironically, the only time the story lagged for me is during a prolonged series of fights between Tommy and a large number of ... let's just call them the bad guys, to avoid spoilers. This probably would've worked better in a movie, where we could see and appreciate the graphic, intricately choreographed brawl rather than reading the blow-by-blow description. Perhaps having been spoiled by the fast pace of the book, I did not wish to slow down for anything, not even to enjoy seeing the hordes of baddies beat up over the span of several pages.
..... Okay, that's new.

I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here, but for now I unreservedly recommend Hell Spawn as a solid start.
The rest of the review is found here if you want it.
You can find all of the Saint Tommy books here -- to buy, or to review, if you haven't already.

And if you've gone through it all already, then please take a moment to chip in to the Dragon Awards Discussion. I post the June updates on Tuesday.