Books Archives

BOOK REVIEW: The Free by Brian Ruckley

REVIEW SUMMARY: Stock characters but great action and even greater magic.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: With war drawing to a close Yulan and his mercenary company accept one final commission — to hunt down an old foe and bring him to justice before he can kill more innocents.

PROS: Intriguing setup and setting; better-than-usual revenge motivation; husband/wife dynamic; dynamic action; memorable scenes; stunning magic; Permanences!
CONS: Stock characters.
BOTTOM LINE: Brian Ruckley crafts a fun and satisfying revenge story.

It seems my choice in video games has influenced my reading habits of late. Playing Bungie’s Destiny reignited my desire for military science fiction and so I read Henry V. Neil’s Glory Main and was not disappointed. Last week I started playing Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and just had to get my hands on some quality fantasy. Fortunately Brian Ruckley’s The Free showed up around this time. This being the first time I’ve read Ruckley’s work, a nice thick standalone seemed a good place to start. I love the current state of the fantasy genre but there are so many different series that a standalone story has a special sort of appeal to it…or at least it did until I finished The Free and immediately wished I could read more about the world Ruckley has created.
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Gail Z. Martin writes epic and urban fantasy, steampunk and short stories. She is the author of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series, the Fallen Kings Cycle series and the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga series of epic fantasy books, as well as the Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy world and coming in 2015, Iron and Blood, a Steampunk novel, co-written with Larry N. Martin. Gail is a frequently contributor to US and UK anthologies. She also writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures. Find her at, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on, at blog and She leads monthly conversations on Goodreads and posts free excerpts of her work on Wattpad. An original novella set in the Deadly Curiosities universe, “The Final Death”, is available free on Wattpad


by Gail Z. Martin

Imagine an antique and curio shop in historic, haunted Charleston, South Carolina that exists to get dangerous magical items off the market and out of the wrong hands.

Now picture, if you will, a family that has been the proprietors of that shop for over 350 years, along with their undead silent partner, secretly watching over the people of Charleston and averting disaster and supernatural destruction. The latest proprietor is Cassidy Kincaide, whose gift is the ability to read the history of objects by touching them. Add in Teag Logan, Cassidy’s best friend, who has the ability to weave magic into fabric or weave hidden data into information (best hacker ever), and their silent partner, Sorren, a nearly six hundred year-old vampire who has been tracking down and destroying cursed and possessed objects for centuries, and you’ve got the recipe for a lot of adventure.

Deadly Curiosities, the first book in my new urban fantasy series, came out in July of 2014. The second book (we’re still working on a title) comes out in 2015, and it’s already being written. So what’s in the cards for Cassidy, Teag, and Sorren?
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PS Publishing has posted the table of contents for the new anniversary printing of the horror anthology Best New Horror #2.

Here’s the book description:

This revised and updated second edition of Best New Horror showcases some of the very best short stories and novellas published in 1990, the year when the horror boom finally went bust. In this vilifying volume you will rediscover terrifying tales by, amongst many others, Poppy Z. Brite, Jonathan Carroll, Harlan Ellison, Elizabeth Hand, Michael Marshall Smith, Peter Straub, F. Paul Wilson, Gahan Wilson and Gene Wolfe, along with an overview of the year in horror by the editors and a nightmare necrology of those who kicked off this mortal coil during that period.

So get ready to spread your wings and take a bite out of this latest anthology of agony. And don’t forget to tell your fellow fiends about our new series of Best New Horror reprints. Just let them know who sent you…

Here’s the table of contents…
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Check out the cool-looking Mike Corley cover for Jake Kerr’s new novel Tommy Black and the Staff of Light, available next week…
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I was perusing Sci-Fi Chronicles: A Visual History of the Galaxy’s Greatest Science Fiction edited by Guy Haley, and found out that I am perhaps even less of a sci-fi trivia king than I thought.

Head on over to Kirkus Reviews to see the 10 things that I learned about Sci-Fi from reading Sci-Fi Chronicles

Tom Calen Tom Calen is the author of the bestselling horror series, The Pandemic Sequence (comprised of The Tilian Virus, The Tilian Effect and The Tilian Cure), as well as the science-fiction series, Scars of Tomorrow (comprised of Torrance and The Ignota). A New York City native, Tom holds a degree in English and spent several years toiling in the world of business before abandoning all reason and deciding to write full-time. He finds the worlds in his novels far less frightening than the corporate world. His books The Tilian Virus and The Tilian Effect both reached #1 on Amazon’s Bestselling Science-Fiction Series list, and both were the #1 Hot New Release in horror and science-fiction.From Castle Rock to Arakis, Middle Earth to Westeros, Tom eagerly devours as many science-fiction, fantasy, and horror novels as time allows. He credits George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, and Stephen King as the major influences on his style. Tom is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association, and International Thriller Writers, Inc. He is currently living in Nicaragua, where he is working on his seventh book.

Goodbye to Our Star Trek Future

by Tom Calen

Robotic limbs? Check. Cloned mammals? Check. Tablet devices? Check. Holographic touchscreens? Genetic engineering? Check. Nearly every gadget and doohickey in Star Trek? Check, check, check.

There’s no denying that real-life technology has made drastic surges forward over the last fifty years. Tech that was once only available in episodes of The Jetsons and Star Trek are now found in homes around the world. We carry it in our pockets (iPhones), on our wrists (smart watches), and on our faces (Google Glass). We use it to shop (credit cards, and now Apple Pay) and to go to war (stealth bombers and unmanned aerial drones). These technological advances have undoubtedly made our lives more convenient. But, as a writer who has recently dabbled in penning science fiction, I politely ask: Please STOP! You’re making my job more difficult.
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Hey, zombie fans!

The eBook version of the massive John Joseph Adams anthology The Living Dead is on sale for only $1.99 on the Kindle and Nook platforms!

Here’s the description:

“When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth!”

From White Zombie to Dawn of the Dead, Resident Evil to World War Z, zombies have invaded popular culture, becoming the monsters that best express the fears and anxieties of the modern west. Gathering together the best zombie literature of the last three decades from many of today’s most renowned authors of fantasy, speculative fiction, and horror, including Stephen King, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, George R. R. Martin, Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Joe R. Lansdale, The Living Dead covers the broad spectrum of zombie fiction.

The $1.99 price is available for a limited time, so act fast if you want it.

…And the adaptation news keeps coming!

Deadline is reporting that Horrorstör, the unique supernatural mystery novel written by Grady Hendrix, is being adapted for television!

Horrorstör is a haunted house story of a different color. It’s about the strange goings-on at the Ikea-like Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio…where employees arrive every morning to find the store trashed. The store cameras reveal nothing, so a small group of brave employees agree to work the night shift, when they encounter unspeakable horrors. Horrorstör is unique in that comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.

The rights to Horrorstör have been acquired for development as a television series by The Jackal Group, a co-venture between Fox Networks Group and Gail Berman. Berman spearheaded the development of the successful Buffy The Vampire Slayer television series, another series that mixed horror and humor, as Horrorstör was obviously designed to do. That bodes well for any show that might develop from this.

Here’s the table of contents for the upcoming issue of Shimmer.

Shimmer blends the perfect speculative cocktail for its twenty-first issue. Three parts exuberance to one part seawater, a sand-crusted spun-sugar glass brushed with winter’s fresh boughs.

These four stories, from Shimmer alums and novices alike, will take you on a journey that is familiar as earth, but as strange as stars. We explore the depths of the sea and the dry deserts both, where encounters don’t have to be alien to terrify.

Here’s the table of contents…


  • “A Whisper in the Weld” Alix E. Harrow
  • “Caretaker” by Carlie St. George
  • “Cantor’s Dragon” by Craig DeLancey
  • “The One They Took Before” by Kelly Sandoval


  • Editorial by E. Catherine Tobler
  • Author Interviews by Joy Marchand


  • “A Whisper in the Weld” by Sandro Castelli

Free SF, Fantasy and Horror Fiction for 10/29/2014

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Erik Williams is a former Naval Officer and current defense contractor (but he’s not allowed to talk about it). He is also the author of the novel Demon and numerous other small press works and short stories. He currently lives in San Diego with his wife and three very young daughters. When he’s not at his day job, he can usually be found changing diapers or coveting carbohydrates. At some point in his life, he was told by a few people he had potential. Recently, he told himself he’s the bee’s knees. Erik prefers to refer to himself in the third person but feels he’s talked about himself enough and will grant your eyeballs the freedom they deserve. Visit Erik at his website or follow him on Twitter as @TheErikWilliams.

Five Essential Horror Novels You Didn’t Know were Horror Novels

by Erik Williams

Sure, you’ve all heard of “essential” horror novels everyone should read. That’s easy. So instead of making an easy list, I’m going to hit you with five books that not only do you need to read but read with the understanding, regardless of whatever genre they claim to be in, they truly are horror novels at their core.
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Halloween always puts me in the mood for reading darker fiction. To that end, I’ve scoured Amazon for a ton of Horror and Dark Fantasy eBook titles priced under $5 a piece.

WARNING: Prices are subject to change, so check the price before clicking “buy”. If Amazon is not your eBook ecosystem, please do look up the titles wherever you buy your eBooks; discounts are often applied at other outlets, so check there.

  1. The Dead Run: A Novel (Jess Galvan) by Adam Mansbach (Harper Voyager)
  2. 999: New Stories Of Horror And Suspense by Al Sarrantonio (HarperCollins e-books)
  3. Unborn by Amber Lynn Natusch (47North)

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Table of Contents: Jamais Vu – Issue Three

Here is the table of contents for the new issue of Jamais Vu:


  • “The Floating Girls: A Documentary” – Damien Angelica Walters
  • “That Hideous Beauty” – Tom Piccirilli
  • “Stick Men” – Steve Rasnic Tem
  • An Excerpt from TOXICITY – Max Booth III
  • “A Ring of His Own” – Kenneth W. Cain
  • “To Sleep Long, to Sleep Deep” – Kristi DeMeester


  • “In the Beginning” – Chris Shearer
  • “So What Caused This?” – John Grey
  • “The Nightmare Room” – Lauren Michaud
  • “In which I feel nostalgic after my mother’s death” – Abigail Rizzo
  • “Mermaids Can’t Fall in Love” – Stephanie Wytovich


  • Let’s Talk About Strange… – Eric Beebe
  • A Review of The Loved One – William D. Carl
  • A Review of The Fly (1986) – James Newman
  • A Review of The Sacrament – Jessica Dwyer
  • A Review of Craig Spector’s Turnaround – Paul Anderson
  • A Review of Dan Wells’ I am Not a Serial Killer – Donald Jacob Uitvlugt
  • A Review of Henry S. Whitehead’s Voodoo Tales – Alex Friedman


  • I Had a Thought Today – Harlan Ellison®
  • First-Hand Fear: The Found Footage Genre – Jessica Dwyer
  • The Slender Man: Meme Gone Psychotic – KT Jayne
  • Reinventing Craig Spector – Paul Anderson
  • Isla de las Munecas – Mexico’s Island of Dolls
  • Wish Fulfillment in Shaun of the Dead – Anton Cancre
  • RE: Animated – Kenneth W. Cain

This issue was edited by Paul Anderson.

My introduction to producer Adi Shankar‘s work was the awesome Punisher “bootleg” short called Dirt Laundry, which starred Thomas Jane, who starred in the official 2004 Punisher film.

But I’m not here to talk about the Punisher; instead I want to introduce you to Shankar’s new work: Judge Dredd: Superfiend. As Shankar explains, this is not official production, just something borne out of a love of the characters. I think his imtent — to capture the look and feel of a 90’s MTV cartoon — is successful.

The first 6 episodes are enbedded below for your viewing pleasure…
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BOOK REVIEW: Pennsylvania by Michael Bunker

REVIEW SUMMARY: A refreshing new voice in science fiction.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A young Amish man leaves home to help colonize a distant planet, finds love and war and a slew of mysteries.

PROS: Uses Amish perspective of colonialism, survival and peacefulness as a nice twist on exploring a new world set in tyranny and war; solid use of the serial formula and mystery reveals to drive the reader along; SciFi elements and technologies add excitement and wonder.
CONS: The main character felt passive at times; the romance element did not deliver as strongly as I would have liked; a few times the story slowed down as the main character reflected on Amish philosophy in relation to new world around him; ending was more of a stay-tuned-for-the-next-book finale than a strong climax.
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Table of Contents: Analog, December 2014

Here is the table of contents for the new issue of Analog:

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Table of Contents: Asimov’s, December 2014

Here’s the table of contents for the new issue of Asimov’s.
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For readers who like a little espionage in their speculative fiction (or vice versa), here’s the cover and synopsis for the upcoming novel A Few Words For The Dead by Guy Adams.

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Books Received: October 27, 2014

In the interest of full disclosure, here are the books we received this week.
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Coming Soon: SLOW BULLETS by Alastair Reynolds

I’m a huge fan of Alastair Reynolds and look forward to anything he writes.

Here’s the cover and synopsis for his upcoming book Slow Bullets.

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