My review of Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I just got around to being able to read it. I was not disappointed. In fact, I enjoyed it even more than I expected to.

Eames proved himself an author to watch with Kings of the Wyld. Sharp, hilarious, and wonderfully written, he took the idea of music bands and applied it to adventuring monster killer/mercenaries to create a fresh and exciting twist on fantasy fiction.

With Bloody Rose, he's taken that approach above and beyond, proving without a doubt he can write any damn kind of fantasy he pleases, and at the highest level, deftly wielding his pen to create a truly epic story with spectacular action but also extreme depth and pathos--all without sacrificing the humor that got him to where he is.

As a kind of side note, because it pleases me to no end, I was particularly delighted by the way Eames would occasionally switch from past to present tense for intense action sequences, and the way he handled the ending from a narrative point of view. I'm standing and clapping, Mr. Eames. Standing and clapping. Can't wait to see what's next.

Can't believe it. We won!

Still reeling from the announcement. Paternus: Wrath of Gods has won Best Self-Published Novel 2018 in the BookNest Fantasy Awards! Absolutely amazing and quite a shock, especially when it was up against such an amazing field of books and authors. THANK YOU to all who voted for it. This is an incredible honor.

Massive thanks as well to Petros T. at BookNest for putting this together, and all the bloggers, publishers and agents on the nomination team.

And huge congrats to Nicholas Eames for winning Best Traditionally Published novel with Bloody Rose (I'm reading this now and it's Bloody Brilliant is what it is),

S. A. Chakraborty for taking the prize for Best Debut Novel with City of Brass (high on my TBR now!),

and Harper-Voyager for being awarded Best Imprint--well deserved!

Thank you again everyone. I’m going to go pass out now…

Wrath of Gods is a finalist in the Booknest Fantasy Awards - And you can vote!

Unbelievable to me, but Paternus: Wrath of Gods is a finalist in the Best Self-Published Novel category of the 2018 Booknest Fantasy Awards. An honor to be included with all these wonderful titles and authors.

And - you can vote for your favorites Best Traditionally Published Novel, Best Self-Published Novel, Best Debut Novel, and Best Imprint (Publisher)! Voting remains open until October 31st.

My choice for semi-finalist in this year's #SPFBO!

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to have been a guest judge for Booknest in this year's SPFBO competition, 2018. The brainchild of Arch-saint of indie authors, the Almighty Mark Lawrence, the SPFBO has become one of the most significant things to happen to self-publishing since, well, maybe ever, and Booknest has waved the torch high for indie books for quite some time. I have to thank Petros T. for asking me to do this. It's been a hell of an honor to be involved.

My task was to read five of the thirty books in Booknest's group, and forward my choice for semi-finalist. Time for a rolling of drums...

There are a ton of amazing self-published books out there, but it was a little scary to have a random selection handed to me, I must admit. Due to the very nature of self-publishing, anyone can do it, and there's no denying there are quite a few not-so amazing indie books as well. I was apprehensive about it, worrying, "what if they all suck?" Luckily for me, they didn't. In fact, quite the opposite. I thoroughly enjoyed four of them, and even the one I didn't has plenty going for it (obviously, it's selling like gangbusters on Amazon).

To review, here are the books in my group:

Twin Spirit by Matthew Thompson is a delightful read I described as paranormal sci-fantasy/portal fantasy with a touch of steampunk and directed by Terry Gilliam, geared at a middle-grade to teen audience, but with plenty for grown-ups to enjoy.

Ghost Electricity by Sean Cunningham--Think Simon Green's Nightside meets Dr. Who, with a heavy dose of Hellboy and maybe even The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This is easily one my new favorite urban fantasy novels, and Cunningham one of my new favorite authors.

The Ember Child by Anthony Mitchell is a truly great book, in my opinion, that I think will appeal to a whole lot of lovers of epic fantasy. It takes the tropes we love and makes them fresh in a way I have not seen a long time. But from what I can tell from looking at it on Amazon and Goodreads, no one is reading it, which is a terrible shame. I believe it's because of the cover (which isn't terrible or unprofessional, just not real eye-catching and it doesn't scream epic fantasy), and the almost complete lack of marketing, resulting in little to no word-of-mouth. I highly recommend this book and will shout it out any chance I get.

Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike is, as I said in my review, one of those rare reads that doesn't come along very often. Genuine, consistent, extremely well written, as well as fun and funny as hell.

Dragon Bones by D.K. Holmberg was my least favorite of the bunch, but Holmberg has published dozens of books, is making a killing in sales, and is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author to boot. If I was D.K., I wouldn't give a rats-patooty what that Dyrk Ashton knucklehead thinks.

I told you my choice wouldn't be easy, right? I was an entrant in the SPFBO in 2016, and lucky enough to be a finalist and take third place. I checked out many of the finalists from the first SPFBO of 2015, and followed closely all last year. As far as I'm concerned, any number of the books in my Booknest group this year could not only be semi-finalists, they could hold their own in the final ten as well. Still, I have to choose just one, and that one will be--

Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike. Brilliantly written and conceived, error-free as far as my eyes could see, with a uniqueness factor I'm always thrilled to find, and cheerful nods to everything fantasy fans adore, I could see this as not only a finalist, but possibly taking the whole shabang. Fingers crossed for you, Mr. Pike!

Thanks for putting up with me, everyone, authors, review readers, and Booknest alike.

All the very best,


My review of The Empire of Ashes: The Draconis Memoria #3 by Anthony Ryan

The sheer span and scope is mind-boggling - in a good way. In a GREAT way, in fact.

I still can't get my head wrapped around how Ryan was able to put together such an expansive story with so many characters and information and keep it fascinating page after page. To me it's like part military history text of World War II (and I love that stuff), part steampunk novel, and part grand epic fantasy, all made to work in a way I would have previously thought impossible. This series, and particularly The Empire of Ashes, carries us through breathtaking campaigns all over the world, by land, sea, and air, while also describing the fascinating political, economic and technological military industrial developments akin to both that WWI and WWII - but add to that dragons, sea monsters, magic, and armies of the undead. I'm simply amazed. More so because the characters never get lost. They're front and center all the way through.

Speaking of the characters, I can't remember a book where they were more complex yet interesting. Ryan's ability to craft them and bring them to life is masterful - particularly in that we see our hero's sometimes do terrible things, and the most despicable characters at times do the most wonderful things - and most times when we least expect it. Friends can become our worst enemies, and enemies can become the most stalwart allies. It just feels real, but still with that sense of fantastical wonder we all crave.

As a final note: Without giving anything away, hats off and a deep bow with an ear-to-ear grin for the name given to one of the aerostats (from one of my favorite television shows of all time). Hint hint, nudge nudge, say no more...