Friday, September 20, 2013

Review of Warbound by Larry Correia (no spoilers)

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The Grimnoir Chronicles by New York Times’ bestselling author Larry Correia is a fantastic series. I just read book three, Warbound, which concludes the story arc started with Hard Magic (Book I), and Spellbound (Book II). The world is an alternate history Earth set mostly in the 1930’s, and is a cross between X-Men and Boardwalk Empire. That’s right, superheroes and gangsters in the 1930’s fighting for the fate of the planet. It’s epic and awesome. I must mention there are airships, pirates, and ninjas—as well as a hick girl from Oklahoma who is possibly the most powerful magic-wielding person of all time. You find out why in book three.

Warbound mostly features a trio of main characters—pictured on the cover: Faye Vierra—the hick girl with the power of teleportation (she’s called a Traveler) who is likely the best assassin ever; Jake Sullivan—a World War I veteran who can manipulate gravity (he’s called a Heavy); and Tokugawa Toru, a samurai (he’s a Brute) who can change the density of matter). Toru is such a great character and he just might be the equal of Sullivan. Toru wields a nasty war club (a tetsubo) and just might end up wearing a suit of really amazing armor. (Hint: the cover artist did a wonderful job). Toru can cause things to weigh almost nothing, which is good for him, and really bad for his enemies as he can swing his tetsubo really fast.

There is so much action in this series and Warbound was off the charts with magic and mayhem. The story arc concludes in Warbound, but I’ve heard rumors there will be at least one prequel, perhaps two, set several years before Hard Magic, likely set during World War I. There will also be at least one short story set in the Grimnoir world featured in one of the many anthologies Larry Correia has on his impressive release schedule.

Spellbound: Book II



















Hard Magic: Book I
























Warbound delivered on the promises of the first two exceptional novels and tied up all the loose threads, while delivering a bullet-riddled and exciting ending filled with all sorts of wizardry. The characters are a lot of fun and the plot was fast-paced as it barreled toward the final confrontation. The only thing I didn’t like was that President Franklin Roosevelt was cast as a villain along with much of the U.S. government. Correia does have some justification, as it is true that Roosevelt committed a terrible crime and interned thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II—but I found some early parts of the book a little too heavy handed.

Regardless of my own bias, I found myself engaged and inside this book on many levels. The characters and the story pulled me in. I was so intrigued with how the magic unfolded as well, and all the questions brought up in books one and two were answered. The connections made by the characters and the sheer magnitude of the Enemy coming to destroy the world amped up the tension throughout.

I’m a big fan of Correia’s writing and his Grimnoir books are amazing. The audio versions of all three are also quite exceptional. Spellbound won a prestigious Audie Award in 2013 and all three books feature the same narrator, the brilliant voice actor, Bronson Pinchot. Paperbacks of the first two books are out now—as of Sept. 2013, and if you’re an audio book fan, download them now. All of Grimnoir books are available as Kindle eBooks, though you might want to collect a hard cover while they’re still available.

Check out my review of book one, Hard Magic, for more details about this series.

Warbound Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles
5/5 Stars, Highly Recommended

Paul Genesse
Author of The Iron Dragon Series
Editor of The Crimson Pact Series

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gen Con 2013 Review




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
I attended Gen Con in Indianapolis again this year. It's mostly a gaming convention, but there is a huge writing track designed to help people improve their own writing. It's where I learned practically everything I know. Now, I'm a member of the Writers' Symposium, and we give over 70 hours of instructional panels to the attendees over 4 days. This year was particularly awesome for many reasons.
                                                                                                                     



The coolest event for me was on Friday August 16, 2013. There was a reading attended by about 26 people, and we witnessed a master of his craft, Lawrence C. Connolly, perform his story, "The Fourth Sign," which is featured in The Crimson Pact Volume 5. I wish I would have made a video.

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 Author Lawrence C. Connolly and Paul Genesse


 The Reading Begins
 
Author Monica Valentinelli got the crowd warmed up with selections from a couple of different stories. It's fun listening to strong readers like Monica. She read from "Fangs and Formaldehyde" a smart vampire story featured in The New Heroes edited by Robin D. Laws. I had already picked up a copy and it's awesome. She also read from a Lovecraftian story she wrote that was patently evil.


The cover for this book rules. Find it on Amazon.


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Author Wesley Chu went on next and rocked it by reading a scene from his debut novel, The Lives of Tao. He was funny, dramatic, and proved why his book has gotten so many five star reviews.






Reviews of The Lives of Tao

"Few books begin more engagingly than The Lives of Tao, a science fiction romp which wears its principal strength -- the wit and humor of the narrative voice -- on its sleeve."  - The Huffington Post

"If you want something to read on a plane or settle into over the weekend, this is the book you want to pick up. But like most great stories, there's a little more going on under the surface." - SF Signal

"Note to James Patterson fans: this is how to write a sci-fi page turner." - Sci Fi Bulletin

"Chu's good-natured adroitness with character development is matched by his thriller-style plotting, a fine blend of gentle humor and sharp suspense." - Barnes & Noble Review

"a science fiction story that is one part spy novel, one part buddy flick, one part comic book, one part eye-opener history lesson...among many other elements. Yes, it's a lot of parts, but they blend together quite well." - Examiner

“Just your usual “I’ve got an immensely wise alien in my head who wants me to become an international man of mystery” story. Which is to say, Page-turning homage to other classic SF like Hal Clement’s Needle. Recommended.” -Steven Gould, author of the Jumper series


* * * * *



George Strayton
 
Up next was author George Strayton. He's an accomplished screen writer who worked on some big movies (Star Trek, Transformers, Xena) and a game designer (the award winning Secret Fire role-playing game). I'm so pleased George was able to make time in his busy schedule to write a story for my anthology. He read the first scene (pasted in full below), a flash forward from "Eyes Only" featured in The Crimson Pact Volume 5. "Eyes Only" tells the story of a pair of super-spies and ex-lovers from opposing agencies on an “eyes only” mission. Will these demon-agents get together for another tryst or send each other back to Hell? 

George wrote a fabulous and exciting story. Check it out.



Eyes Only

by George Strayton

New York City. 22 May 2018. 23:38.

One hand held Finn on the steel railing of the Freedom Tower’s rooftop, which was lit up with spring colors. The rest of him dangled thousands of feet above the ground. He saw his Sig 226 flipping as it fell at terminal velocity. Gusts of wind threatened to rip him off the Tower and send him flailing after it.

He looked up to see her standing over him just as her boot came down on his fingers and ground them against the edged steel of the railing’s lowest crossbeam. Her extra-human strength would’ve instantly crushed a normal human’s fingers into a messy pulp. But not Finn’s. Though he felt the agony just as intensely, he did his best to retain his grip. His other hand was bleeding a river through the hole she had blasted in it, the same shot that had blown the pistol out of his grasp.

He locked eyes with her. Even her look of anger was somehow alluring. And he hated her for it. He hated everything about her. He wanted her dead.

But at the moment, she had the upper hand—his upper hand, to be precise. And clearly, she wanted him dead, too.

And yet he knew her twisted mind better than that.

“Let me up! You’ve had your fun!” he shouted up to her over the wind.

“Give it to me!” she responded. Then louder, more intense. “Now!” She was emotional, chaotic. Too much had happened in the past twenty-four hours for her to maintain any semblance of composure. She had lost all control. Which wasn’t surprising. She lived her entire life halfway to irrationality to begin with.

With his free arm, he pressed the object inside his jacket closer to his chest. “Fuck you!”

In a blur, she brought her custom silver Varjag 9mm to bear, aimed at his forehead, and pulled the trigger—

The sanctified bullet struck home. He released the railing and dropped toward the earth far below, his body passing in and out of the light spilling out of the windows of the Freedom Tower as he fell, black suit rippling in the increasingly strong air currents . . .

 * * *
(This story is so much fun, with twists, turns, and an incredible ending. I loved it.)

 * * * * *

Lawrence C. Connolly


The main event of the evening was the performance by a legendary writer who has been published by pretty much every top tier sci-fi, fantasy, and horror magazine in existence. His novels are highly acclaimed and he earned his Stoker Award nomination for his collection, Voices: Tales of Horror.  Author Lawrence "Larry" C. Connolly is a great writer and he couldn't be a nicer fellow. Getting to know him over the past few years has been awesome. I've had the good fortune to hear him perform a few times and he always brings down the house. You see, Larry does not 'read' at his readings like the rest of us. He memorizes the story beforehand and performs, like an actor doing a monologue.  It's fantastic. For his 12 minute 'reading" I learned that he spent 20 hours memorizing and practicing.

Listening to him live was awesome. Larry performed a variation of his story, "The Fourth Sign" in The Crimson Pact Volume 5. It actually takes place at Gen Con in Indianapolis. A writer is offered a large sum of money and is asked to write a story on a very tight deadline by a mysterious woman. She has certain stipulations about the content of the story and requires that certain images be placed within the body of the text. Three images to be exact. The fourth image will be displayed at a later time and will cause something that defies explanation. Oh yes, bad things could happen.

The performance was awesome. Larry had all of us on the edge our seats as the story unfolded. My only regret is that I didn't make a video. If you ever get a chance to hear Larry perform, at a writing convention or at a club (he's a musician as well), seize the moment. 

Check out his author page on Amazon and purchase something. You will love his work, or go ahead and check out The Crimson Pact Volume 5, and read "The Fourth Sign."




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View The Crimson Pact Volume 5 on Amazon

* * * * *



After Larry's performance, I was hesitant to go on, as one does not simply follow Lawrence C. Connolly. I asked him to speak for a few minutes and we asked him some questions. I considered cutting myself from my own reading. This was my 30 minute block and I had asked George and Larry to read with me. Monica asked Wesley Chu to read with her. I wish I could have also let Karen Bovenmyer read. Next time, Karen. Anyway, I let the crowd think about the coolness of what they had just witnessed, and I hoped they would forget a little bit, and welcome me to the stage.

They did, and I read from "Sealed with Fire" the finale story by Patrick M. Tracy featured in The Crimson Pact Volume 5. This story wraps up five books, 106 stories, (674,000 words total) published over 2.5 years. I came up with the outline for this story, but Patrick created the opening scene all himself--which is what I read. I think it went really well, and afterward I gave away five copies to the crowd, then the five Crimson Pact authors posed for a picture.

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From left to right:
Lawrence C. Connolly, Karen Bovenmyer, Paul Genesse, Patrick M. Tracy, Stephanie Lorée, George Strayton.

This reading was a big highlight for me and I am so grateful for all the support from the authors and fans.



* * * * *


Gen Con was a lot of fun and many things happened. I posted a few pics below, but you can view the rest of the pics on Facebook.

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Author Saladin Ahmed and I to held a meeting of the Society of Short Mediterranean Fantasy Novelists!

* * * * *

Medusa tried her magic on me! Don't worry, I got better.

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This is Cheryl, a great friend and one of my biggest fans. She dressed up as Medusa for me, in honor of the novel I wrote, Medusa's Daughter.

Thanks to everyone who made Gen Con awesome!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Crimson Pact Volume 5

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In this book you will find the highly-acclaimed origin story of the Crimson Pact mythology, “The Failed Crusade,” and the epic finale to the entire series, “Sealed with Fire,” two powerful novellas by Patrick M. Tracy.

Read a story from New York Times’ bestselling author Larry Correia and Hugo Award-nominated Steven Diamond, "A Choice of Fate," which is the finale of their story cycle about Diego Santos and Jarvis "Lazarus" Tombs.

Enjoy short fiction from: Bram Stoker Award-nominated Lawrence C. Connolly; Writers of the Future Award Winners Bradley P. Beaulieu and Brad R. Torgersen; I-CON Innovative Game Design Award Winner George Strayton; and fiction from the Hugo and Campbell Award-nominated Dan Wells, author of the highly regarded I Am Not A Serial Killer and co-host of the Writing Excuses Podcast.

Original stories also by fan favorites Donald J. Bingle, Kelly Swails, Usman T. Malik, Craig Nybo, Justin Swapp, Danielle DeLisle, Michaele Jordan, Zachary Hill, Chanté McCoy, Stephanie Lorée, Donald Darling, Brett Peterson, and Karen Bovenmyer.

If you enjoy Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files; Terry Brooks’ Running with Demons (Word and the Void) and Armageddon’s Children (Genesis of Shannara Trilogy); Demon Moon in The Guardian Series by Meljean Brook, Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International, or Patricia Briggs When Demons Walk you will love the Crimson Pact series.

View the book on Amazon.com in either eBook format or as a trade paperback.


What the Critics are saying:


“Almost 30 years later The Crimson Pact supplants Clive Barker’s Books of Blood series as the modern compendium of fantasy horror short stories. Though The Crimson Pact lacks the consistent voice the Books of Blobod offer, there is something to be said for the variety of styles. Like the viewers of the classic Twilight Zone and Outer Limits television series, each reader is bound to have their own favorites. Whether you buy these for yourself or someone else, any horror, suspense, or dark fiction fan should enjoy the collection.” Lance Roth at Blog Critics.org about Volumes 1-4

“The demons are not your typical straight-from-Hell, pitchfork-tailed monstrosities, or (perhaps) even in any realistic sense of the term ‘native’ to Earth. No, the demons you will encounter in The Crimson Pact are rather more like H. P. Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones—unknowable creatures from beyond the Void, waiting only their opportunity to invade helpless earths and rule them with devastation and despair.”
Author Michael Collings on Hell Notes.com about Volumes 1-4, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

“I applaud those who brainstormed this, and I can hardly wait to read the Crimson Pact, Volume 2. If you haven’t partaken of this little jewel, I encourage you to do so, but beware, what lies beneath a mortal’s skin could be something marvelously demonic.” MK Horror.com

“If you like demons and dark fantasy, if you love the constant struggle of good against evil (or at least human vs. something clawed and taloned), an endless eternal war between humanity and hellborn, then this is definitely the anthology for you.” Pippa Jay of Fantasy Book Review.co.uk

“If you like Dark Fantasy, you’ll love this book.” Author Daniel Coleman, about The Crimson Pact Volume 1

“This is a volume for all those fans of demonology, but the mixture of genres, styles and authors means something should appeal to everyone. If you like some dystopian sci-fi with your demons, check out Fight. If you prefer some sweet yet gritty romance–with vampires too, no less– check out Stumble and Fall (one of my favourites, and with a favourite character from 1 and 2). Singe, Smolder, Torch, Whither left me squirming and looking for blue glowing eyes. For the conspiracy theorists, there’s the voice inside the computer with Whispers in the Code. The Recruit is a modern play on the old contract with the devil. There’s even a tale told from the enemy’s perspective in The Ronin’s Mark, an intriguing insight into the mind of one of the demon horde. There’s a lot of swearing, guts and gore, but also triumph, tragedy and heart-warming moments. These stories can scare, disgust, or horrify you. They can also make you laugh and cry.” Pippa Jay of Fantasy Book Review.co.uk

The Crimson Pact Volume 5 is on Amazon.com in either eBook format or as a trade paperback.

Friday, July 26, 2013

CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK VS. ALIENS ANTHOLOGY



This is the awesome steampunk anthology I was asked to submit a story to by editor Joshua Palmatier--who is a great writer. His Cracked Throne novel blew my mind. Anyway, I hope this gets funded because I really want to write my story, which will be set in 1800's Australia. There's no guarantee my story will be accepted, but I have high hopes.

If you are able, please consider contributing to the Kickstarter. There are tons of great offerings at many price levels, and you can get the antho as an eBook, print book, and also get various other books as rewards.

Here's the Kickstarter video below or watch it on the official site here.

Review of Fearless: Powerful Women of History

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Fearless: Powerful Women of History by Zachary Hill


This is a really fun and fascinating book that uses satire and humor to describe more than sixteen amazing women that we should all know about. Young women and girls need to understand that women shaped the course of human history, just like the men who usually get most of the attention.

Fearless: Powerful Women of History is a little like the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, as many of the historical figures actually make appearances in the book, and are interviewed by the author, and his panel of hilarious historical figures. This is history made fun, and reading it is a joy. I think reading this aloud would be hilarious and fun for a family, especially if Mom, Dad, and the kids (aged 11+) took on the roles of the panelists. Some essays are a little gruesome, so read them in advance, but overall it’s fine for most people. The only distraction I had while reading were the frequent typos, but I did read an advanced reader copy, and learned that the next version will be cleaned up.

The author, Zachary Hill, a man with a history degree who is obsessed with researching history, describes in an unscholarly way a few of the famous people we probably already know something about: Joan of Arc, and Jane Austen, but the rest are more marginal figures that have not gotten the attention they deserve. Hua Mulan (Disney made a movie about her) is described in as much detail as we know, and the truth of her life is incredible.

There are also essays about: Empress Theodora of Constantinople; the Byzantine Princess and historian Anna Komnene; Queen Tamar of Georgia the Conqueror; the warrior woman Rani Lakshmibai of India; Queen Matilda of England; Roman Empress Galla Placidia; the female “samurai” Tomoe Gozen of Japan (and there’s a separate essay about other Japanese female warriors); St. Olga of Kiev (a brutal woman and her essay is probably PG-13); Caterina Sforza (who kicked butts so far they woke up in the next time zone); St. Teresa of Avila, and more.

Author Zachary Hill’s history blog, MinimumWageHistorian.com has a ton of great information as well. Go there to browse the many topics he’s covered over the years.

Making history fun and engaging can be hard to do, but Fearless: Powerful Women of History succeeds in bringing to light some amazing women who must not be forgotten.

Fearless: Powerful Women of History (110 pages, $4.99 eBook, $5.99 print book)
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Paul Genesse

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

BRILLIANT NOVEL: THE DESERT OF SOULS BY HOWARD ANDREW JONES



(No spoilers in this review)


I love this book. The Desert of Souls is exactly what adventure fantasy is all about and author Howard Andrew Jones has written a brilliant novel set in 8th century Baghdad. The novel has been widely acclaimed and now I know why.

Check out the blurbs on Amazon.com from many notable authors. I have to admit I was surprised at all the gushing praise, but this book truly lives up to the hype. I had so much fun reading and loved the esteemed and humble narrator, Captain Asim. He tells us a wonderful and heartfelt tale filled with surprises, magic, sword fights, forbidden love, and describes a fully realized world. The writing is top notch and this is how the very tricky first person point of view should be done.

Original Cover



Captain Asim’s sword arm and the razor sharp whit of his friend, the scholar Dabir, are all they have to survive and stop a cruel man and his allies from bringing great destruction to the world.

The intricate plot kept me guessing until the very end of the book. The finale was awesome, and wrapped everything up nicely. This is technically a stand alone novel. Fortunately, there is another book, The Bones of the Old Ones. Let’s call it a sequel, but I think it's a stand alone as well and it's all about these characters I've come to love.

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VIEW BONES OF THE OLD ONES ON AMAZON



There is also a great collection of short stories which started it all, The Waters of Eternity, which I just got for my Kindle. One of the stories is mentioned in Desert of Souls, and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

If you like fast-paced adventure fantasy with great characters and a fun plot, Desert of Souls is a book for you.

 View on Amazon.com
 THE DESERT OF SOULS BY HOWARD ANDREW JONES

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 5/5 STARS

Paul Genesse
Author of the Iron Dragon Series
Editor of The Crimson Pact Series

P.S. I decided not to give away a lot of details or any spoilers, but if you’d like to read more specifics, check out this great review by Beth on Amazon.





Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review of Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

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Review of Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
(minor spoilers)

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed is a classic and delightful adventure novel set in The Crescent Moon Kingdoms—a fantastical version of the Middle-east with an Arabian Nights, or for you gamers, an Al-Qadim feel. I very much enjoyed this fun book and the well-drawn characters. You may have heard of this novel already, as it has received high acclaim and won the 2012 Locus Award for Best Debut Novel. It has also been nominated for a Hugo (award pending at the time of this review) and the author has won awards his short fiction. Not surprisingly, Throne of the Crescent Moon is smooth, the prose easy and natural, not purple or baroque in any way. In my opinion, it’s suitable for ages 11 or 12 and up, but teens and adults will get the most out of it.

The plot is very traditional, no big surprises or twists as a ghul hunt begins and the mystery evolves into something much more dire. There’s a lot to be interested in, despite the small size of the book (only 274 pages) as the setting is so different from the traditional European fantasy world we’ve all seen. These characters are great, and I’ve never read a book with a protagonist like the aging ghul hunter, Doctor Adoulla Makhslood. He’s sixty-something years old, fat, and admittedly way past his prime. None of that matters as he’s got powerful magical skills (he’s a man of God) with a lifetime of experience fighting the dark things in this rich and layered world. Despite all the evil he’s seen and battled, Adoulla has never lost his sense of humor. He is crass, bombastic, and the holy bane of his enemies’ existence. He will punch the charlatan ghul hunters in the face for their impudence, and Adoulla Makhslood is not a man to be trifled with.

The little relationships between the main characters are more than half the fun in this book, and their exchanges are priceless. Adoulla’s young assistant, Raseed bas Raseed, a brilliant swordsman of an honorable dervish order, puts up with the Doctor’s constant haranguing and teasing while fighting his inner battles over his strict moral code and the rigid system of honor.

Zamia Banu Laith Badawi, Protector of her nomadic band, is Angel Touched and can shapeshift into a lion woman (really a girl as she is only about fifteen). Zamia can wreak holy damage upon the enemies of the light, and is sworn to avenge her tribe. She is young, fierce, barbaric and is quite interested in the little paladin, Raseed bas Raseed, who knows he should not have certain base feelings for a nomad girl, for he is a man of God, and must not succumb to the urges of the flesh. Or maybe he should?

Those are the three main characters, but Doctor Adoulla’s other friends, Dawoud and his wife, Litaz also have point of view chapters. They’re experienced and have been part of the fight for decades, and are quite a good team. Litaz and Dawoud are resourceful and brave supports of the Doctor, and are not easily dissuaded by opposition or obstacles. God has given them each a specific calling in life and they must accept their fate and do their duty.

Doctor Adoulla and his friends all walk through the convoluted and crowded city of Dhamsawaat, ruled by the Khalif who sits on the Crescent Throne. In Dhamsawaat you never know what enemy or friend you might meet, or if the delicious cardamom tea you’re enjoying will be your last. The Khalif’s soldiers might arrest you at any moment, or the Falcon Prince (a lot like Robin Hood) might stage one of his spectacles to show how morally corrupt the Khalif has become. Accomplishing anything takes time and coin, and you have to know the right people, and those people have to know the right magic.

This book is a stand alone novel, a very complete story, but it is apparent that there will be much more in the years ahead from a most humble and blessed writer, Saladin Ahmed. We should all hope for more adventures in the Crescent Kingdoms and beyond, for there are many other roads to walk in this fascinating world.

View Throne of the Crescent Moon on Amazon.com

Paul Genesse