Refugees (Mud, Rocks, and Trees #1)

Refugees begins with three unique characters from different parts of the world and very different backgrounds. They’re young, inexperienced and looking to make their mark in the world. Each one wants to become their own person but they also have to deal with problems they never saw coming. A new star has been spotted in the sky and it represents the beginning of an ancient prophecy.

The prophecy states that a new kingdom will emerge built with the elements of mud, rocks and trees. Representing each element is one of the main characters: Amanki, Brina and Moshoi, the future leaders of the new kingdom. They all have a mentor named Baskrod that will help them but they are also being hunted by an evil emperor who wishes to put a stop to the prophecy.

Refugees (Mud, Rocks, and Trees #1) by R.A. Denny is a coming of age story in a world that is very different from ours. I love how the author does a slow build letting us learn about each character before they all experience an event that turns their world upside down. You care about them because you see them as they deal with the end of their old lives and watch them create a new life. There is  one great scene where Amanki looses his faith after the death of his mother and the destruction of his village. You also see him regain his faith through relationships with other characters. Faith seems to be a main theme in this book as well as learning to accept those who are different than yourself.

I admit I’m not a huge fan of epic fantasy but I have to admire this book and the scope of the story that is being told. R.A. Denny is creating a whole new mythology that is based on old mythologies. The attention to detail is astonishing, the author takes her time describing the characters, their lives, the societies they live in and the gods they worship. The amount of work that must have gone into creating the world of Mud, Rock and Trees is impressive.

Refugees is the beginning of a six book fantasy adventure and lays a good foundation for what’s to come in the series. It’s also a good book to help kids learn the joys of reading. My only complaint was in the beginning I felt the book was taking too much time describing the people and the world they live in. Though I guess with a story that has so much depth to it  you have to spend a lot of time setting the stage. If you love fantasy then this is a book that you  will want to pick up. Be prepared to buy the next five books in the series because your going to get hooked on these characters.

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Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths

“Life asked Death, ‘Why do people love me, but hate you?’
Death responded, ‘Because you are a beautiful lie, and I am a painful truth.’ ”
~Anonymous

Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths is an anthology edited by Karen T. Newman that’s all about death. Even though that’s the subject matter the mood isn’t always dark. This anthology spans several genres including Science fiction, horror, mystery and even some humor. Well written and well-edited, this book may be long but it’s hard to put down.There aren’t any bad stories here but to keep this review from being to long, I decided to just talk about a few stories:

Family Ties by Cara Fox deals with a daughter whose father just happens to be the grim reaper. The daughter’s name is Zoe and where the reaper’s job is to take souls, Zoe has the ability to save them but there is a price to saving souls. I loved how this story gets into the balance between life and death and the idea that in some situations a long life can be a curse.

Where I would look at Family Ties as being horror ,With Infinite Complacency
by Steve Cameron is a science fiction tale. This story follows astronauts in a space station as they witness the end of civilization due to nuclear war.  They can’t return to earth due to contamination and are stuck alone in space. I love the concept in this story and the twist at the end. I also loved the idea how would you feel if you were alone in the universe?

Proving that this anthology has a wide range of stories another great tale is Death and the Horse by Terri Bruce. This is a fantasy story about Death needing a horse in able to do his job a little faster. This story throws in a lot of different mythological characters and has a good sense of humor to it, showing that stories about death can be funny.

The Fall by Paul K. Metheney is another one with a comedic edge to it that focuses on a man who is about to jump off a cliff. Before he does, God shows up and says he will fix his life if the man can ask 20 good questions about the meaning of life. This is such a good simple story and I love how it touches on the philosophy of life and it makes a good point about accepting the bad with the good.

Pondering Eternity Over Waffles at Last Call by JCC Downing is another one that gets into the philosophy of life quite a bit. This one deals with a young woman and an older man who manages to become friends but the man has a big secret. Once again this is a simple tale with some deep meaning to it and the idea that you can’t have good without the bad is center stage.

Another good one that is very different from every other tale in this book is Selfie Warfare
by Shaun Avery. The story looks at the concept of how social media effects two people. While pleasing a virtual audience is shown as a bad thing for both characters, they both react in different ways to the problem. I think a good question raised here is what are you missing out on if you live your life online?

I think the thing I enjoyed most about this anthology is that even though it’s about death, it isn’t a sad book. Most of the stories include themes on how precious life is and how the choices we make effect us. There are several genres included in this book and they all look at the philosophy of life a little differently.  This book has a little bit of everything and no matter what form of literature you like there will be something in Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths that you will enjoy.

 

 

Batman Vol. 4 The War Of Jokes and Riddles (Rebirth)

In Zero year the city of Gotham was left with no power, for a year and The Riddler ruled the night. When power was restored a war began to claim Gotham City’s underworld and the right to kill Batman between The Riddler and The Joker. This story was kept a secret but now Batman tells Catwoman what exactly happened in the Zero war.

Batman Vol. 4 The Of Jokes and Riddles is (Rebirth) written by Tom King and illustrated by Mikel Janin. The art in this graphic novel is fantastic and does a great job setting a dark mood for the story. Looking at it made me feel like I was reading an old 1930’s Noir mystery.

The story has all of Gotham’s criminals in it and non stop action. What’s most interesting in the story is the idea that the Joker can’t laugh and The Riddler can’t tell riddles until Batman is killed. The story is simple and entertaining with the art complimenting it perfectly.

One of the best lines in this book comes from Catwoman. When asked why she hasn’t picked a side in the war she answers that she doesn’t want to work with them because they are criminals. She then corrects herself by saying they’re unsuccessful criminals. Another great scene has The Joker and The Riddler describing what they plan to do with Batman as Batman listens to them as Bruce Wayne. During this scene the dialogue is excellent with The Riddler giving an elaborate plan to kill Batman while The Joker just says he’s just going to simply strangle him and that’s it. If you’re a Batman fan this is a must have book.

Vices and Virtues: A Horror Anthology

Vices and Virtues is a horror anthology edited by Ashley Franz Holzman and includes 16 stories that all tie into vices and virtues we have in society. I wasn’t expecting much from this anthology because I didn’t know any of the authors but was pleasantly surprised by the quality of work in this book. All of the stories in this book are like an emotional roller coaster with normal characters  you can relate to put into extraordinary circumstances.

The first story did a great job of setting the tone for the whole book. The Girl Who Died by C.K. Walker is about a lonely girl who has no friends except the animals in the woods. One day she finds a dead animal in the woods that changes everything. We then see this girl go from never being noticed by anyone to being infamous all because she cared to much. The next story in the anthology is I Loved You So Much by Christopher Bloodworth which is in the same vein as the first one, a child who is a little lonely finds a new friend who ends up bringing destruction to the kid’s family. Both of these opening tales pack an emotional gory wallop and were a lot of fun to read.

One of my favorites in this book was Constance by Adam Grey, this was an emotional story about a confused older woman, a single mother and an innocent young child. Constance is an old woman living in an apartment building and working in an abortion clinic when she gets let go by the clinic she goes off the deep end and a young mother in need of a baby sitter makes  the bad decision of leaving her child with her. This story was disturbing and at the same time really made you feel for the characters involved in it.

There is a great mix of stories here and one story that mixes Science Fiction and horror is The Lonely Man by Kristopher J. Patten. Set in the future we have a captain on a spaceship going to Mars on an exploratory mission. The last visitor to Mars was 120 years ago and since then on Earth there has been was, famine and several deaths. Much to the captain’s surprise when she reaches Mars she finds the last person to visit alive and well.What has kept this person alive so long and what plans does he have now that he has a way to get back to Earth. The plot of this story is very similar to the movie Space Vampires but has a much more personal feel to it and much scarier.

This anthology felt like it was a labor of love for all the authors and there wasn’t a bad story in the book.. Each story had a personal feel to it with one character going through something emotional that no one else could understand. The authors in this book seem to know what it takes to write a good story and they have put together a great book that mixes literary fiction with horror and Science fiction.

Batwoman Vol.1 : The Many Arms of Death

I have to say off the bat that I don’t know a lot about Batwoman. Not to long ago I met a woman whose favorite superhero was Batwoman so when I saw this on Netgalley I decided to give it a try. Batwoman Vol.1 : The Many Arms of Death collects issues 1 through 6 of the new ongoing series plus a one shot called Rebirth 1. The book includes writing from Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV along with art from Steve Epting and Ben Oliver.

Right away I have to say I wish a little more time was spent on the origin since I didn’t know much about her. But I liked the art and there was enough background information given so that I wasn’t lost. Agter the orgin we find Batwoman tracking people who have an illegal drug called monster venom. It causes people to turn into monsters giving them the means to cause destruction and kill as many people from as many nations as possible. Batwoman finds a man in Istanbul who just used the drug to transform and kill people in an international market.

Simple story, great characters and good art, what else can you ask for in a comic. I loved that Batwoman has a Pennyworth assisting her. I also liked that it takes place mostly on an island  called Coryana ruled by pirates and other thugs. It would have been nice to have a little more background information on the history of Coryana and the story could have been a little more detailed. At one point we seem to abandon the story about the drug and go right into a story about the island about to be destroyed.

I did like how Batwoman’s lost year on Coryana was described, it’s pretty much shown as a home for vigilantes and it has some questionable characters.. My favorite part was when Batwoman is fighting a woman named Tahani and explains how she is not like Batman. She states that Batman would never work with the killers and thieves she is willing to work with. Batwoman shows herself as being a much darker character than Batman and doesn’t mind bending the law to her needs. One question I had was why does Batwoman wears a disguise since everyone seemed to know who she was anyway? All in all this is an entertaining book.

Lighter Than My Shadow

Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green is the auto-biographic graphic novel about a girl with big issues who just wants to be happy. Katie deals with an eating disorder, anxiety and all the awkwardness of adolescence. At over 500 pages this is one huge graphic novel and it took the author almost five years to draw and write it. What made me want to read this book was that I had never heard of a biography in this format and I fell in love with the cover. When I saw the girl walking through the woods with a scribbled shadow behind her I had to find out more.

At the start you see an average girl with a perfect life. We also see her deal with problems in school, learning about her sexuality and the pressure that all kids go through to be accepted. Katie’s story is easy to relate to as you see her go through the awkward teenage years. She thinks that she will never find a boyfriend and worries about getting good grades. Katie wants to fit in but at the same time she wants to be happy. She struggles to accept her changing body and you see her deal with her feelings of being different from everyone else. Being a kid is hard and it seems to be even harder for Katie.

As the story goes on it gets more into Katie’s eating disorders and how it affects her life. It also gets into what causes her to begin her journey, starting with how other kids look at their bodies. Food becomes an obsession, not just eating it but how much weight she will gain if she does. She worries constantly about how food will affect her and her as her life goes into a downward spiral. I liked the attention to detail on her eating disorder but I felt that this part of the book was a little too long. I understood the point that was being made and less time could have been spent on it. At times the book felt like a long therapy session but I was rooting for Katie to find what she was looking for in life.

When one problem gets solved, other problems present themselves and you start to wonder if Katie will ever find happiness. Lighter Than My Shadow is one woman’s journey from a good childhood to being a troubled teenager to finally finding piece of mind. This book was obviously a labor of love and readers will be able to see some of their selves in Katie. She is looking for the same thing that everyone looks for which is happiness.

 

 

 

Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

Because David is such a fan of Markham in the Night’s Knights series, I’ve decided to share an excerpt from the new book, Dusk’s Warriors, where Markham is battling Hellhounds. It also involves Minidoo, a Canadian Ojibawe Indian who is a new character in this sequel.

Excerpt from Dusk’s Warriors:

A gust blew off Markham’s hat and he tripped over a tree root, pitching forward and landing face-first. Snow pushed up his nose and into his mouth. It was clean, but stung like the blazes.

Markham stood and brushed himself off. He covered his mouth and nose, breathing heavily to clear the coldness from his skin. Hearing a rustle in the woods, he pressed against a nearby tree, trying to blend in to the forest. The trees were dense and as he watched in the direction of the noise, a doe galloped past him about two yards away. After the doe, a woman dressed in furs, long black twin braids flying out behind her, sprinted past. Her head snapped in his direction, but she kept moving. Markham followed cautiously behind, watching the woman grab the doe and sink her canines into its neck. The doe made a yelp when caught, but then was still. The woman drank of her prey, concentrating on the animal. Markham kept his distance, knowing not to approach a vampire while feeding. The woman’s eyes flew open, her mouth still connected to the doe.

As Markham was about to step out and introduce himself, he heard Ridge approach. He could read his thoughts before he saw him.

Kill the girl, get free. Kill the girl, get the money. Never have to go to Hell again, Ridge thought.

Whe nesh na baa?” the girl asked, and Markham thought she spoke to him, but she looked past him, to the right. Her eyes narrowed, a cold dark stare as if she would kill with a mere look. “Annish mampee enna kian sha ganosh?” She stood, blood trailing onto her white furs as she whipped her two long braids from her face.

“Listen,” Ridge said as he stepped into view, a gun trained on the girl. “I don’t understand your gobble-de-gook. If you’re gonna threaten me, do it in English.”

“Who are you to come on this land, in a forest of peace to dishonor the ancestors of the people?” she asked, clear and confident with only a slight accent.

“Glad you asked. My name’s Ridge. You are?”

“Minidoo. I belong here. You do not.”

“Look Mini, I really have nothing against you, but I made a deal and you are my way to freedom. So stand real still like…” He fired his gun. The shots missed and Minidoo had Ridge in a head lock before he could blink.

“Who sent you?” She lifted him off the ground, his neck still in the crook of her forearm as she floated upwards.

“Put…me…down…God damnit!” Ridge struggled against her, grunting and kicking back at her. “All right, no more Mr. Nice Guy.” Ridge took something from his pocket and put it too his mouth.

Minidoo dropped him, screeching and covering her ears. Markham didn’t hear anything, but it seemed to work on the poor girl.

“What is it?” she yelled.

“Hell whistle.”

Markham could stand by no longer, he stepped between them, his back to Minidoo.

“Ridge, your torture stops here.”

“Markham O’Leary! Two for the price of one. Imagine my luck!” Despite his cocky humor, Markham could see doubt in his mind. Can the Hell whistle defeat two strong immortals? Will I live to collect my money?

From the woods came a howl so horrific, it couldn’t be a normal wolf. A mangy set of dogs came out of the woods.

“Hmmm…in all my days, I ain’t never seen a hellhound so ugly. Glad he’s on my side. Go get ‘em killer.” Ridge smiled self-righteously.

The animals didn’t seem to be “hounds” exactly, but the Hell part Markham believed. They were giant wooly dogs, almost bear like. At first it looked like they were chained together by twos, but the closer they got, he realized they were attached in the middle like mutant Siamese twins, each having four legs and a separate head, but combined in a wide body. Brown in color, their fur seemed to undulate as if it was liquid. Their eyes were deep crevices where eyeballs should’ve been. When they snarled, deadly sharp teeth and skeletal jaws dripped with blood.

Have you encountered this sort of beast before? Minidoo asked Markham silently.

No, you? Markham asked.

No.

Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

Heaven has opened up and welcomed the vampires of Night’s Knights into a new reality. As they struggle to find their place in their new world, trouble brews on Earth.

Demon servant, Ridge, is causing havoc by gathering up all the souls on Earth that have been touched by immortality. When he injures one of the Night’s Knights crew, he launches a war between the vampires of Heaven, the Big Bad in Hell, and a mortal street gang of vigilante misfits.

Will Julien, Markham, and Reidar be able to defeat the evil that’s returned, or will they once again need Jespa’s help?

Praise for Dusk’s Warriors:

“All hail, the queen of Night’s Knights has returned! Emerian Rich’s unique take on vampires delights my black little heart.” ~Dan Shaurette, Lilith’s Love

 

“A world of horror with realistic characters in a fast paced thriller you won’t be able to put down.”

~David Watson, The All Night Library

 

Praise for Night’s Knights:

“Fresh, original, and thoroughly entertaining.” ~Mark Eller, Traitor

 

“Emerian brought the Vampire Novel back from the dead.” ~C. E. Dorsett, Shine Like Thunder

Emerian Rich was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1973, the only child of pastors. She lived in thirty-two different places by the time she graduated high school. With no siblings and no consistent peer relationships, the pen became an integral part of her life, granting her an inexpensive pastime that she could take with her anywhere. The characters in her stories became her friends and her journal, her only continuous confidant.

Emerian graduated The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, California with an A.A. in Visual Presentation and Space Design. She has been a consultant on window design, store merchandising, web design projects, company logos, event planning and decoration, newsletter production, and has been voice acting since 2008.

Emerian began her non-profit zine, Dark Lives, in 1997. Her goal was to give unpublished talent in the horror genre a place to have their work published and enjoyed. Originally began as a paper publication, Dark Lives became exclusively a webzine in 2002. darklives.com officially closed it’s doors at the end of 2007.

Emerian now serves as Horror Hostess for the internationally acclaimed podcast, HorrorAddicts.net.
HorrorAddicts.net has become not only a podcast but a widely read publisher of horror news, reviews, and fiction.

Emerian has been a part of many social and business groups including: The Katz (Supernatural Investigators), Wicked Women Writers, Mad Hatter Tea Society, Quillz Literary Group, and others. She is also an active volunteer for the following causes: Clean The Beach Days, Earth Day, Oil Clean Up Education, Service to Elders, Children’s Day Camp, Community Support for Abused Children, and Activities for the Developmentally Disabled.

She has also written under the names: Emerian Mordrige, E. Mordrige, Emmy Z. Madrigal and Emz.

Emerian lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. To meet Emerian, check out her events.

http://www.emzbox.com/