Tuesday 24 June 2014

Book Spotlight: The Circuit: Executor Rising

Another book spotlight today, this time we're off to the future for the science fiction novel The Circuit: Executor Rising by Rhett Bruno...

The Circuit: Executor Rising by Rhett Bruno

It has been centuries since Earth was rendered a barren, volatile wasteland. With their homeworld left uninhabitable, humanity founded a system of colonies throughout their local solar system. Known as the Kepler Circuit, these settlements are strung together by a network of nonaligned Solar-Ark transports, locked in continuous motion. They have served to provide an influx of resources to every faction ruling over the remnants of humankind, most importantly the newly discovered element Gravitum which is found only in the Earth’s unstable mantle.
By 500 K.C. a religious sect known as the New Earth Tribunal has risen to preside over most of The Circuit. Though there is barely a faction left remaining to challenge them, a string of attacks on their transports force them to summon the enigmatic, yet brilliant, Cassius Vale for help. What they don’t know is that together with his intelligent android creation, ADIM, he is the one orchestrating the raids.
His actions lead to the involvement of Sage Volus, a beautiful Tribunal Executor sent by her masters to spy on their mortal enemies – the Ceresian Pact. In order to find out who is behind the attacks, she infiltrates the ranks of a roguish mercenary named Talon Rayne. Against all her intentions, however, she finds her faith tested by him and his ragtag squad.
While Sage and Talon are engaged in a futile hunt, Cassius Vale initiates his strategy to bring down the narrow-minded Tribune once and for all. But will anyone be able to survive what he has in store for the Circuit?​​​​​​​​​​​​

The Circuit: Executor Rising is available at:


Author Bio:

Rhett Bruno grew up in Hauppauge, New York, and studied at the Syracuse University School of Architecture where he graduated cum laude.
He has been writing since he can remember, scribbling down what he thought were epic short stories when he was young to show to his parents. When he reached high school he decided to take that a step further and write the “Isinda Trilogy”. After the encouragement of his favorite English teacher he decided to self-publish the “Isinda Trilogy” so that the people closest to him could enjoy his early work.
While studying architecture Rhett continued to write as much as he could, but finding the time during the brutal curriculum proved difficult. It wasn't until he was a senior that he decided to finally pursue his passion for science fiction. After rededicating himself to reading works of the science fiction authors he always loved, (Frank Herbert, Timothy Zahn, Heinlein, etc.) he began writing “The Circuit: Executor Rising”, the first part of what he hopes will be a successful Adult Science Fiction Series.
Since then, Rhett has been hired by an architecture firm in Mount Kisco, NY. But that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to work on “The Circuit” and all of the other stories bouncing around in his head. He is also currently studying at the New School to earn a Certificate in Screenwriting in the hopes of one day writing for TV or Video Games.

You can find out more about Rhett Bruno and his writing at his website, www.rhettbruno.com​, or on Twitter: @rcbruno44

Saturday 21 June 2014

Book Spotlight: White Walker by Richard Schiver

I have a book spotlight for you today, from horror author Richard Shiver, as we hearken back to winter on this, the first day of summer...

White Walker by Richard Schiver

When she was ten she made a promise to that which inhabits the winter storm. Now she’s twenty-six and pregnant, and the White Walker has returned to collect his due.

For Teddy his first day as shift supervisor could not have come at a worst time. A severe blizzard has shut down the region as old man winter refuses to relinquish his grip. Only ten percent of his team has shown up for work, and he learns upon arriving that one of his first duties that day will be to fire his girlfriend.

He believes it can’t get any worse than it already is. That is until one of his people dies at the hands of a legendary creature that inhabits the blizzard. A prehistoric deity once worshiped by ancient man on the vast Siberian plains. Brought to these shores by Russian immigrants seeking a better life in the deep coalmines that once dotted the hills around the Appalachian Mountain town of Frostburg.

Cut off from the outside world, stalked by a creature from the past, the survivors are forced to abandon the safety of a building that has been stressed to the breaking point.

But how does one escape a winter storm?

White Walker is available from these retailers.

Want to try it before you buy? Check out the first ten chapters for free at:

Author Bio:

White Walker is Richard’s eighth release since his return to writing in 2008 after a computer crash wiped out nearly ten years of work in 2001. A lifelong reader of the Macabre and supernatural his desire is to leave the reader with a story that will stay with them long after they have closed the cover of the book.

Richard lives with his wife in Lavale, MD. Where they share their home with four furry, four legged, children. When he’s not spinning tales of terror he can be found tossing the ball for Max, or making a mess in his woodshop.

Richard can be found online at:

Twitter: @RichardSchiver

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Book Review: Birds of Passage

Well readers, it's time for another book review.
Some time ago I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the excellent first novel in The Raincoast Trilogy, the book Since Tomorrow by Morgan Nyberg. Now I bring you my review of the second book in the series, Birds of Passage...

A Book Review of Birds of Passage

Birds of Passage, the second book in The Raincoast Trilogy, is a darker, more sombre novel than the first; a harsher glimpse of a transitory journey through a decaying world. The book evokes a bittersweet melancholy, where the remnants of human civilization are more profoundly marked as a dying breed.

The book begins years after the events of the first, in a world that has devolved considerably. Frost’s Farm still exists, but the people there cling to faded hope as disease and death ravage their settlement. The characters of the first book, Noor, Daniel, Wing, have given way to the new generation, Cloud, 99, Fraser, and Fraser’s dad, Blaine. Birds of Passage is their story, full of sadness and tragedy. They have one hope, to go north and find a new place to settle, a new place for the farm.

The novel portrays its unforgiving world honestly, and convincingly, depicting a compelling vision of a ruined society struggling to endure and stay alive. It has some interesting things to say about human nature, both its savagery and nurturing aspects, and our survival instincts as a species. I may not have agreed with everything the author wove into the story, but it made for fascinating reading. The book focuses on action over reflection, external stimuli over internal, perhaps a bit too much for my liking, but still manages to weave an intriguing and captivating story. The pace slows and meanders in the middle of the book, when the characters find themselves embarking on a journey away from the farm, but not enough to be overly detrimental to the plot.

However, the book is not without its problems. I found the central characters in this book slightly less engaging than the first, perhaps due to the lack of an unifying character such as Frost in the original novel. The story is told as more of an ensemble piece, and while it does work, for me the depth of characterization was somewhat deficient at times. I found the character of Fraser especially frustrating, with the motivation for some of his actions incomplete. Without a more in-depth look at the bond between father and son, I found it hard to sympathize with Fraser’s loyalty to Blaine. This limitation is somewhat mitigated with flashback scenes near the end of the book, but it may have been a case of too little, too late.

I don’t think the book is quite as good as the first in the series, it is still a terrific novel, and one I recommend.

Birds of Passage is available at:

Saturday 14 June 2014

Book Spotlight: Demon's Bounty

Today on the blog I have a book spotlight and excerpt, a little sci-fi for your perusal...

Demon's Bounty by William Minor and Colin Heintze

Fifteen episodes. One grand space opera.

For thousands of years, humans were isolated from each other by vast gulfs of time and distance. The emergence of the Fey changed everything. Harnessing their power into stardrives collapsed the distance between worlds, ushering in a golden age of commerce and exploration. Some profited honestly. Others took to the stars for the freedom of plunder and infamy.

Few have gained more notoriety than the crew of the Corinthian. When a routine raid wins them a new breed of stardrive, they come to realize this bounty is no gentle Fey — it is the Djinn, an ancient horror whose discovery will determine the fates of gods and empires.

Demon's Bounty is available at Amazon

Author Bios:

Will has previously been published in Nature and, after traveling the world, has been working as an English teacher in Denver, CO. 
Colin has been published in Lore, Aphelion, Science Fiction Short Story, Kaleidotrope, Plots with Guns, and eFiction. In addition to his freelance work in the local film industry, he is a civil servant serving the people of Colorado.


The Corsair's Hellride

"Yellow Sky?" Rata-tat said.
"Yes, Captain?" The ship's computer sounded rushed. He never sounded rushed.
"How long until they overtake us?"
"Two minutes and twenty-four seconds."
"Sigrdrifa, when can we make another Feydrive jump?"
His pilot was up to her armpits in the pulsating, metallic tissue of the Feydrive interface. She looked back at Rata-tat through jade-tinted goggles. "I don't know that we can take the strain. Mother's nearly in a coma, and the blood vessel in my head has a fuse that's gotten pretty damn short."
Rata-tat nodded. They'd made six Feyjumps in the last hour. Those short trips into Feyspace felt something like a cross between an amusement park ride and particularly vivid hallucination. He had nearly vomited after the last two jumps and knew that, whatever he might be feeling, it had to be a thousand times worse for Sigrdrifa. Passively experiencing a Feyjump was one thing. Sending your mind into the Feydrive to facilitate the jump, quite another.
"Does not matter, Captain," said a hirsute, barrel-chested man feverishly punching data into a holographic star chart.
"Why's that, Scrum?"
"Every time we jump, enemy fleets match us. Escape is not being possible. Very skilled astrogators."
"Of course they're skilled astrogators, the flagships of the Angerian and Brakhian royal navies are behind us! Let's try a diplomatic tack. Yellow Sky, open a channel."
"To whom?"
"Whoever is in charge of those fleets."
"Right away, Captain."
The viewing panel lit up in a split-screen display. One side was an older man who looked like he'd been dragged out of bed, then under a locomotive - not surprising for someone who had likely been woken in the middle of the night by a hysterical Chrysanthemum Countess. The other side housed a woman with hair pulled back in a severe bun.
"Rata-tat Solarnaut," the man said. "Return the wedding rings, now!"
"For once, I find myself agreeing with a Brakhian," added the woman. "You have made a dire mistake, rogue. If you do not return the rings, I will make your hide a wedding gift to my son and the Princess of Brakhia. No doubt it will warm them on Angeria's long winter nights."
"Close the channel," Rata-tat said. The viewing panel changed back to the Auger feeds of the enemy fleets. "Did you hear that, the Angerian woman is mad! What are we going to do?"
"You could return the wedding rings," suggested Breezy.
"Someone who isn't the engineer, please."
Scrum tugged on his beard and smiled.
"Captain, I am having an idea."
"Finally, someone important speaks. What's happening in that sick mind of yours?"
"We have new engine, you remember? We steal it from Nekrowizards of Overlorn. It can be helping us now."
"The Djinn Drive? We agreed never to use it after the unpleasantness on Overlorn."
The memory was as fresh as it was nasty. What had passed for solid intel — a gacked-out spacer in a VGW Hall — told Rata-tat the occultists on Overlorn had discovered a new kind of Fey creature. Nobody knew what it was or how it had been placed in an engine. The occultists they captured could provide nothing but old legends and theosophical nonsense, no small factors in the crew's decision to jettison them out of the Corinthian's airlock. Their aroma of sawdust and formaldehyde hadn't helped their chances, either.
Since then, they'd been stuck with the thing. They had tried to sell it, succeeding only in being laughed out of every pawnshop, antiquedrome, and scrapyard in six systems. So, it simply sat next to the Feydrive like a fat, black wart on the Corinthian's backside.
The viewing panel went white as the bridge shook from a surge of energy.
"What was that?"
"Extreme long range phase-net, Captain," Yellow Sky said. "It fried our exterior optics. I'll try to bring them back online."
"Captain," Sigrdrifa said. "A couple more of those will sever the psychic link between myself and the Feydrive. We won't be able to jump if that happens."

Rata-tat ran a hand down his face. "We've got no choice. Invoke the Djinn Drive, Yellow Sky."

Friday 13 June 2014

Full Moon On Friday 13th

Here's a short snippet of a horror story to honour the full moon rise tonight, on Friday the Thirteenth:

Full Moon On Friday 13th

An odd hush settled over a particular backstreet of London, the rolling fog dancing wisps around the windowsills of closed taverns and rooming houses, and diffusing the soft glow from the gas lamps. No local denizens wandered the darkness, no flesh peddlers or their customers, no drunken wretches, no thieves, nor pickpockets. Only the moonlight ventured a presence, as it shimmered on the empty streets damp with a coating of night dew.

The silence hung, like a body from the gallows, until just past midnight when muted footsteps broke the quiet. The echoing sound grew ever louder, and mingled with panting puffs of breath, flapping leather, and the faint click of metal, as if a watch had been pulled from a pocket. A shadow flitted along the cobblestones, and a curious scratching grated across battened shutters, leaving unfathomable gouges in its wake.

Behind these shutters, inside the locked taverns and homes, the citizenry huddled, teeth on edge, swallowing bile and fear. They waited out the night, prayed to see the sunrise, as this presence, this stalker, explored, tested, hunted. Which one would be chosen tonight, they knew not, but one person would fall, one person would end as prey.

When the hunter came, someone always died…

Thursday 12 June 2014

A Stellar Voyage: A Review of Terra Mechanica: A Steampunk Anthology

Here's something I haven't done in a while, posted a book review. The following are my musings on Terra Mechanica: A Steampunk Anthology...

A Book Review of Terra Mechanica: A Steampunk Anthology

Terra Mechanica is a lush, diverse journey through strange, yet familiar histories, full of intrigue, airships, pirates, villains, clockwork machinery, and emotional nuances. Each story opens a distinct world, and sails you through a fascinating expedition of wonder and beguiling characters. While most of the roads you explore are straightforward, with few twists, they are all pleasant, enjoyable and a delight to explore.

The anthology is devised of nine stories, all built around the same theme: a world journey. The settings are varied, from an across Europe trek, airship flights in Russia and the South Pacific, a chase from France to Morocco, Indochina and Quebec, voyages to Western America, and to India and beyond. Each story holds a different point of view, while keeping the feel and aesthetics essential to steampunk.

As with all anthologies, I enjoyed some stories more than I did others, although I can’t say there was one I truly didn't like. I preferred the ones with more emotional and reflective style, finding Dr. Pax's Great Unsinkable Bird by J. R. Potter, Seven-year Itch by Rie Sheridan Rose and Priority Passage by S. D. Simper as highlights of the book, but I also enjoyed Dots, Dashes, and Deceit by Jay Barnson as a delightful adventure romp. However, the showpiece of the entire book, for me, was The Promise by Michael Cross. I loved the way that story shifted through vignette glimpses of lives, weaving a captivating patchwork whole, but still leaving pieces to the imagination of the reader. If there was one story that I found slightly disappointing, it was Ripper Bound by TC Phillips. While I found it well written and a good read, the plot, to me, seemed a bit predictable in its direction. And to be fair, I may have been a bit more critical with this one, as it falls very close to the horror genre.

Overall, Terra Mechanica: A Steampunk Anthology is a charming, and entertaining book, with shades of stories running from dark to light. I highly recommend it.

Terra Mechanica: A Steampunk Anthology is available at Amazon
You can find other retail links through the publisher's website, Xchyler Publishing.

And here's the very cool book trailer:

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Service and Sacrifice: A Poem for Moncton

The following is a poem written in honour of the fallen Moncton RCMP officers, and for all those who gave their lives in the line of duty...

Service and Sacrifice

Now come, the gathered sea of red,
the tribute paid, bitter tears shed.
Fallen in crimson, words unsaid.
Grief falls within the gloam,
speak farewell to the honoured dead,
the pipes will play you home.

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