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.


* * * * *








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

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review of Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley

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Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley is based on a fascinating idea: What if queen Cleopatra did not die? What if she used ancient Egyptian magic to become part goddess, part vampire, part monster, and wreak vengeance upon her enemies? The cover and the description of the book sold me for sure, as I’m incredibly interested in Cleopatra’s story, and the ancient world in general. Fantasy mixed with history is a potent combination if done well, and Headley created a really intoxicating novel.

I enjoyed reading Queen of Kings and finished quickly, as it’s written like a thriller for the most part, with short, punchy chapters that pull you in and force you to keep reading. I found the writing to be quite good, though as a writer and editor myself, I could tell this was the author’s first novel sometimes. A little awkwardness crept into the prose on a few occasions, which was usually brilliant.

Headley chose to use the third person omniscient point of view, which is fraught with danger, and for the most part the author did a very good job with it. However, when you use that point of view, you generally sacrifice something as many of the other reviews of this book have pointed out. In this case, it was sympathy toward the major characters. The point of view shifted so often that it was difficult to really identify or get into any one character’s head and empathize with them. The Roman emperor, Augustus (Octavian), seemed to have the most page time, and I found him to be much different than I had imagined. I thought he was a very intelligent and strategic man in real life, but he was portrayed as a bumbling villain, rather than an astute politician.

Cleopatra herself was the most sympathetic, as was Mark Antony, but they did not have as much page time as I would have liked. The early parts of the book were probably my favorite, though the string of convenient coincidences bothered me a little, but fate was being manipulated the whole time by the gods, so I can forgive that. This is a big story that covers a huge amount of ground. Summarizing large events and time periods is good with the third person point of view, and to tell this story the author had to go in that direction.

I’m really interested in what happens next, and really enjoyed how the author used historical events and her own inspired imaginings to weave this fascinating tale. I loved reading about the witches that Octavian and General Marcus Agrippa recruited to fight Cleopatra: the Norse weaver of fate, the Greek witch who manipulated ghosts, and Usem, from the African tribe of the Psylli, who had power over the wind and snakes. Usem was married to the Western Wind, and she an awesome character as well.

Overall, this book is filled with unexpected and wild imagining, and you have to just buy into the crazy plot and not think too much about the decisions of the main characters. Most of the old myths read just like this novel, and the author was giving a lot of nods to the legendary stories of old, which don’t make a lot of sense if you look at them too closely. The author really went for it, and the plot evolved in directions I was not expecting.

I applaud the boldness of the author and will definitely read the planned sequels (it’s a trilogy according to the author’s note). If you love Greek myths, Cleopatra’s story, wild historical fantasy, and ancient Rome, this is a book for you.

Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley, 4/5 Stars

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

Friday, June 21, 2013

Review of the World War Z movie


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I watched World War Z tonight and really enjoyed it. (4/5 stars--very tiny spoilers in this post). I love how the amazing book and movie actually go together. The book was impossible to film, and this story adds a really interesting thread to the overall event.

I listened to World War Z on audio book (the 14 hour version) three times (I've never actually read it), and I think the movie is a great introduction to the novel, as the movie happens earlier than the book, which is a retrospective look at the zombie war with Max Brooks (the author) traveling around the world interviewing people about what happened.



Anyway, the movie was scary, intense, emotional, action-packed, well-acted (Brad Pitt was awesome), and paid great tribute to the book. The book and movie are very different entities and I recommend that you watch the movie, and then get the unabridged audio book, which is voiced by A-List actors. If you're a zombie fan, I think it's better to see the movie before reading the book. I think this is a rare case where the book and movie go great together, rather than clashing so much. The book is better, but the movie was excellent.

Here's a great article with links to what led up to the decision to re-shoot the ending of the movie. I found it fascinating. I like the version they went with, but I'm looking forward to seeing the deleted scenes. Read the article here.

I've read all (most?) of the articles linked from this one, above. I'm so glad they changed the ending, as I think this one worked really well. The scenes in Russia (that they filmed in Budapest), will be interesting to see someday. It appears to me they made some big mistakes by not having a strong plan or strong leadership. Starting a movie this big without knowing the ending was a bad idea. At least it worked out in the end, though the cost was high.

Monday, June 10, 2013

REVIEW OF THE END OF ALL SEASONS BY RUSSELL DAVIS

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No spoilers.

The End of All Seasons by Russell Davis is a fantastic collection of 15 short stories and 5 beautiful poems. I love reading short fiction from master writers, as they take you on a journey using only a small amount of words, and really make you feel something: love, sadness, horror, fear, and espeically wonder.

The heart and emotion conjured up is impressive and inspiring in this powerful collection. Russell Davis is a poet-storyteller for sure, and the stories are like well-crafted sculptures, weighty and full of beautiful lines. Several of the tales left me gasping for air. My favorites were “The Angel Chamber” about a little girl in truly horrifying situation, “The Things She Handed Down,” “Scars Enough,” “Engines of Desire and Despair,” “The End of Autumn” and “The Little Match Girl,” a dark re-imagining of the classic tale in a modern setting. There’s something for everyone, especially for fans of speculative fiction and students of writing.

The End of All Seasons ($2.99 eBook)
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, 5/5 Stars

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

Sunday, June 9, 2013

AWESOME CONCLUSION TO A BRILLIANT SERIES

Necessary Evil (The Milkweed Triptych, #3)Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Review of Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis



AWESOME CONCLUSION TO A BRILLIANT SERIES

(No spoilers)

I really loved this series and it was fun to read the third and concluding novel of the Milkweed Triptych, Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis. The plot threads were nicely tied up, and I was constantly surprised with the direction of the book.

The first two, Bitter Seeds and Coldest War were amazingly good (see my reviews of both) and Necessary Evil kept up the tension. I won’t ruin the first two books here, as the beauty of the series relies heavily on not knowing what’s coming. Overall, I think the first two books had me more worried about the characters and their fates, but Necessary Evil was excellent. I still never knew what was going to happen.





Gretel, the character who can see the future is back and the interludes from her point of view were brilliant. The chapters when we get into her mind were my favorites. The turn her character takes later in the book was unexpected for me, but I can totally understand why it happened. I don’t know what else the writer could have done with a goddess like character to make the rest of the novel work, but I wasn’t expecting the series of events involving her shift. Never trust Gretel is still the best advice anyone can give.




The Coldest War (The Milkweed Triptych, #2)

This was a very unique and ambitious series, and book one, Bitter Seeds was an incredible achievement. Book two, The Coldest War blew my mind, especially the ending, and I wondered how the third novel would compare. For me, the second book was probably the peak of the series as far as high drama and tension, and Necessary Evil was not as epic in some ways, though it was a worthy conclusion. I think reading the three books back to back to back would be best, as there are clues in book one and especially two that will improve the experience of the reader in book three. All the books are so interdependent with each other it’s hard to separate them. Having book two fresh in your mind when reading book two would be best.

The author created such a complicated web that little things mean a lot, and small events change the course of history. Pulling it all together in the finale was a fantastic achievement and the epilogue had a lot of heart. I was so glad to read the last chapter, as some writers fail to deliver there, but Tregillis pulled it off perfectly.

If you’re a fan of alternate history, spies, characters with super-powers, and great writing, read this series for sure.

Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis
Highly Recommended 5/5 Stars

Paul Genesse

View all my reviews

I love this cover much more than the U.S. cover.
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Saturday, June 1, 2013

CONDUIT 2013






My 2013 Conduit experience was amazing. I was chosen as the local guest of honor (my first time being a guest of honor), and had such a fantastic time. I've never been busier at a con, and was on a ton of panels, did a bunch of events, and met up with a lot of great people. The whole weekend served as the launch for my newest book, A Walk in the Abyss from New Babel Books, which features my novelettes: "No-Tusks" about an underdog orc slave, and the story I co-wrote with Shane Moore, "A Kudekah to Remember" which is about a sasquatch (greyshalk). Many of the events promoted this book, and all in all, it was a "Monster" weekend.



Paul's Friday May 24 Schedule:
1:00 PM - Steampunk: More than just a passing craze? (Paul Genesse, Dan Willis, Brandon Almond, Steve Diamond, Shantall Pitman)

The panel went really well and we had a lot of fun discussing the awesomeness that is steampunk. I really need to turn my novelette, The Nubian Queen in Steampunk'd into a full length novel.
 
2:00 PM - Keeping Readers Glued to Your Book (no actual glue required) (Larry Correia, Paul Genesse, Eric Swedin, Adrienne Monson)

Eric Swedin was a great moderator and we had a lot of fun discussing tension, conflict, and ways to keep the readers interested.
4:00 PM - Paul Genesse and Patrick Tracy's Reading. Pat read from "Mungo the Undying" and I read from "No-Tusks." It was lots of fun. I also did a public service announcement: Save the Orcs. (Read it below and the video will be available at some point).

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Save the Orcs. Every year, tens of thousands of orcs are hewn down to provide experience points, treasure and emergency rations for heartless adventurers. By making a contribution, you can make a difference. They need all the comfort, support and any small, tasty children that you can spare. Please, think of the orcs.

Find the t-shirt here: http://gamerconcepts.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=22


7:00 PM—A viewing (on DVD and live) of a hilarious reading of No-Tusks by Pat Tracy and Paul Genesse from ConDuit 2011


8:00-12:00 PM - Orcs vs Giants vs Greyshalks Role-Playing Game



The first big event on Friday was the D&D Game I ran for some all star players. Friday night I hosted: "ORCS VS. GIANTS VS. GREYSHALKS!" It was such an awesome game, with 12 players, plus another 4 more once we got going. The GIANTS of the Bloody Hair Tribe: Patrick Tracy, Larry Correia, Bob Defindi, Jayrod Garrett. The GREYSHALKS: Layne Lowder, Russ Cook, Nate Tooley, Jessica Rice, and Brett Peterson. The ORCS of the Iron Spear Tribe: Steve Diamond, Zachary Hill, Daniel Swenson, Joe Coleman, Don Darling. 

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It was one of those games that came out so perfectly. We all had such a good time and it was collaborative storytelling at its best. The game ended up being way better than I had anticipated, and handling that many players was daunting, but it all worked out great. One big highlight was Pat Tracy voicing the dragon, Vermithrax toward the end, and he was incredible. The microphone and amplifier really made it fun.

Getting to play in Shane Moore's world, which we explore in the anthology was so much fun.
Check out the anthology on Amazon here.
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Paul's Saturday May 25 Schedule



11:00 AM - Paul Genesse signing with Larry Correia, Patrick Tracy and Zachary Hill

The signing was fun and Pat, Zack and I signed all the A Walk in the Abyss books for the party later.

12:00 PM - Giving your Characters Character: Help for Role Players (Paul Genesse, Bob Defendi, Revan+Joe+Layne from Dungeon Crawlers Radio). 

Great panel on creating characters, and all the guys were so well spoken. I was very impressed.

3:00 PM -The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - a fun, "expert-fan" analysis (Paul Genesse, Blake 
Casselman, Bob Defendi, and Gollum)

We had a lot fun on this panel and discussed the movie with the crowd. We all can't wait for the second movie.

6:00 PM-- Release Party (Here's part of the poster)


A WALK IN THE ABYSS
RELEASE PARTY/MONSTER GAMES!
SATURDAY 6:00-8:00PM

FREE PIZZA!
WHERE? COTTONWOOD II
JOIN A TRIBE!
ORC? GIANT? SASQUATCH?

WATCH THE MONSTER GAMES!
(SKUNK TOSSING, BEST GROWL, COMPETITIVE WORM EATING, BEST HOWL, AND MORE!)
PRIZES AND HONORARY TITLES WILL BE AWARDED!




Author Amber Argyle of the GREYSHALK TRIBE won the growling contest in EPIC fashion. She is terrifying! She was awarded the honorary title of: Chief Grim Throat the Wicked and was named QUEEN OF THE GREYSHALKS!
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GRRRRRRROOOOOOWWWLLLLLLLL!


The skunk tossing contest was won by this very excitable young man, I believe of the GREYSHALK tribe. He was named: Chief Stinky Hands the Pungent!
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The Competitive Worm Eating contest was won by Dennis Lundstrom of the GREYSHALK TRIBE who ate 22 disgusting grub worms (gummy worms) in only 60 seconds. He was named: Chief Iron Gut the Worm Digger!!
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The GREYSHALK TRIBE dominated the competition, shaming the Bloody Hair tribe of giants, and the Iron Spear Tribe. Julie, particularly loud ORC of the Iron Spear Tribe did win the Howling Contest, but it was of little consolation. She was named: Chief Wolf Snout the Yowler.

Fun was had by all and A Walk in the Abyss had a great book launch.


Paul's Sunday May 26 Schedule
12:00 PM - Write About What You Know (Larry Correia, Paul Genesse)

It was the "Paul and Larry Show." We rocked it and had the audience laughing and learning in equal amounts. Good times and I love being on panels with Larry. He's the man.

1:00 Beat the Geeks: Tolkien Trivia. 

I was invited to participate and was crushed by the Julie Andelin, who smashed me with extreme prejudice. She answered four questions and I got zero. The questions were hard. I had no idea what the name of Frodo's mother was: (Primula), or the other elf besides Elrond who counseled Isildur to throw the One Ring into Mount Doom (Cirdan), or the other two questions. Something about Saruman and when he first looked into the Palantir.  



3:00 PM - Paul Genesse: Guest of Honor Address: Becoming a Dragonslayer: Good Career Move or the Dumbest Thing I've Ever Done.
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My keynote address was a modified and longer version of the speech I gave at SLC Nerd 2013. It's only 35 minutes long and the video is below.




Final Panel: 4:00 PM - "The Best Advice I was ever Given…" (Larry Correia, Paul Genesse, Eric James Stone, Dan Willis, Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury). I think we were all a little tired, but it went pretty well and I tried to keep the audience laughing. My best advice: "Don't wiz on the electric fence." (said in the voice of Ren from Ren and Stimpy). Seriously, my best advice: Keep going and enjoy the journey.

The end of Conduit was spent being interviewed by Russ Cook and Tom Carr of Residual Hauntings Revived. We spoke about the role playing game on Friday night and had a great time. This pic pretty much sums it up. I had them laughing. The video will follow eventually.



My 40th birthday was a few days after the release party (May 29th) and my buddy, Russ Cook photo -shopped this picture adding in Pinky and the Honey Badger, which are both mentioned in my keynote address video.
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REVIEW OF WHEN ANGELS WEPT BY ERIC SWEDIN





When Angels Wept: A What If History Of The Cuban Missile Crisis by Eric G. Swedin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


CHILLING ALTERNATE HISTORY BOOK


This exceptional history/alternate history book chilled me to the core. Students of the Cold War know how close the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. came to nuclear war in October 1962, and this book describes what could have happened. The author purports to be an Australian historian writing in 1996, which is 36 years after The Fire. The book starts with a description of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. The Kennedy administration inherited the plan from the Eisenhower administration, and JFK never fully embraced the invasion, nor thought through the outcome. The seeds of destruction were sown in that poorly planned and thought out attack on Cuba.

When Angels Wept Eric G. Swedin is a very engrossing and readable history book. On page 167 (of 274) the alternate history truly begins. President John F. Kennedy takes the advice of his generals and launches conventional bombing raids on Cuba to destroy the nuclear missile launching pads the Soviets and Cubans were constructing. Bad weather, or one spy plane flight, done a few days later than it actually flew, could have been the whole difference in global nuclear war.

The book does an excellent job of describing the principal characters, JFK, Nikita Khruschev, Fidel Castro, warmongering General Curtis LeMay, and several others. It also describes the run-up to the conflict, especially the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, which JFK completely bungled. What I never understood before was that JFK’s mistakes during that period informed him later so that he did not make the same mistakes during those 13 days in October. In this alternate version he does make a terrible mistake and attacks Cuba, which leads to nuclear war. The U.S. did not know that the Russians had brought tactical nuclear weapons to Cuba and were prepared to use them in case of an invasion, which turns out to be the trigger for the Kennedy administration.

A nuclear attack by the Russians in 1962 was suicide for them, though Khruschev apparently did not understand that at the time. The U.S. had a far superior bomber force, and many more long-range missiles, which the excellent author, Eric Swedin points out in great detail. General LeMay was correct in thinking that it was a “good time” to have a nuclear war, as the U.S. would devastate the U.S.S.R., but the cost would still be incredibly high for the U.S. and the world. The U.S. would have been the “winner,” but mainland Europe, Britain, China, Japan, Korea, and Russia would have been annihilated. If nuclear war had occurred in the 70’s or 80’s it would have been so much worse, but even in 1962 the nuclear apocalypse would have been beyond awful.

The last 100+ pages of the book make for gripping reading and are terrifying. Reading about the war plans of both sides and seeing what the collateral effects would have been scared me big time. Also, the mention of civil war in the U.S. after the conflict and the surprising vice president who takes office in the next election fascinated me. The conclusions and the analysis of the whole situation make this book worth the read. I had a hard time putting it down and kept thinking about it when I was not reading.

When Angels Wept won the prestigious Sidewise Award and it deserves all the acclaim it has garnered. If you area student of history, or lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis, I think you’ll find this book fascinating, and horrifying.

The world came so close to destruction in 1962, and examining the potential outcomes helps us all realize how important it is to have intelligent, well-informed, and strong leadership world-wide.

EXCEPTIONAL BOOK, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Paul Genesse




View all my reviews