• Category Archives Book Feature
  • Book Feature: Hand of Miriam

    As you might have noticed, the update frequency of this blog has declined in recent weeks. This is due to the fact that my studies have reached the exam phase and I want to be through with this ASAP.

    Which brings me to why today I publish a book feature and not a full review.

    Another piece of literature that came in through the ætherbox and I do not have the time to read at all at the moment, thus, the feature,

    Hand of Miriam is more on the steamfantasy side of things, but so are the novels of my friend Anja. There is nothing wrong with steamfantasy at all.

    So, without further ado, I present Hand of Miriam:

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    Book Tagline: A Victorian world of supernatural creatures, magnificent airships, a secret society, and one bluestocking adventuress who, threatened by evil seeks protection by awakening the golem.

     

    Book Blurb:

    On an archaeological expedition, Bayla Gideon, is widowed by a supernatural force and branded with the Hand of Miriam or Knowing Eye. Threatened by evil, she awakens the golem; a mythical man of clay, who protected the Jewish community over three centuries ago.

    The golem, Gesher, is surprised. Freedom –by a beautiful, enchanting woman. His desire is to return to the celestial spheres and regain his status as an avenging angel. Yet, Bayla challenges his mind, body and soul. Would he risk his return to the heavens for her? 

    Besides, dealing with the otherkind, mad inventors and an unrelenting matchmaking aunt, Bayla is equally determined to resist her steamy attraction to the striking fallen angel. 

    Thrust into a malevolent war, which includes facing Jack the Ripper, they must resist the magnetic pull toward each other, while protecting the world from encroaching evil.

    Note: Hand of Miriam is Book 1 of a duology in Bayla and the Golem novels, which will continue after Book 2, Her Majesty’s Witch, with the steampunk adventures of other corseted but brainy members of the exclusive Bluestocking Adventuress Club.

     

    Excerpt:

     

    Bayla unlocked the Gemmatridon and held it as instructed. The talismans on the cover shifted into gears that twisted in rapid circles, and buzzed like irate bees while emitting light. Startled, she fumbled withit. The box opened. Inside was a small parchment. The instructions dictated that it be placed in the golem’s mouth. She carefully removed the ancient scroll and with trembling hands set it in the slit that had to be its mouth. Immediately, the parchment sunk in as if swallowed by quicksand and vanished. The chamber shook as if an earthquake had struck. She fell back still holding the box. Sitting sprawled on the floor, she froze in terror.Thankfully, the tremor stopped.

    A blinding bright light erupted from the crate and the golem roared a deep menacing bellow from within.

    Bayla dropped the box. What have I done? She closed her eyes from the blazing brightness and wrapped her arms and head over her knees. Like a candle snuffed out, the light vanished. The golem’s holler subsided into a grumbling moan, as if awakened from its slumber.

    She dared look. The golem sat in the crate. She suppressed a scream on seeing his rigid red-stone face. He looked like a misshapen man made of hard red rock. An aleph was added in front of met. The Hebrew word for truth, emet, now inscribed on his forehead, permitting it life. It slowly rose and stepped out. Tall, its square head almost touched the ceiling. It wasn’t too monstrous in stature, perhaps six-foot-seven, and within the range of human height. It blinked open gray eyes and stared at her. His eyes were the only part that looked remotely human and revealed his soul, by holding her gaze as if he knew her.

    Bayla scooted back on her bottom but kept her eyes on him. There was a connection, a warm bond that eased her fear. She couldn’t read its thoughts. Was it because it had none?

    The golem turned his head to the side and spoke in a deep baritone voice, “You are a woman.”

    Where to get it:

     

    Author Bio

    Eva Gordon writes genre bending paranormal/fantasy/steampunk and historical novels with a strong romantic element. She loves to create stories that combine her passion for mythology, steamy romance, and action/suspense. Her imagination takes her from one universe to the next. Thus far, she has several series lined up as well as single titles waiting in line for production.

    Eva has a BS in Zoology and graduate studies in Biology. She once taught high school Biology, Environmental Science and Anatomy/Physiology. When not in her den writing, she can be found at steampunk conventions, at work at the raptor rehabilitation center, wolf sanctuaries, or to satisfy her inner Hemingway on some global eco adventure.

    Learn more about Eva Gordon below:


    Website
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     Blog | Amazon Author Page | Like Page on Face Book | Goodreads  |Twitter

     


  • Discovering Aberration – Interview and feature

    Today’s post is actually a double-deal package. First, I would like to point your attention to an upcoming Steampunk novel, Discovering Aberration, by S.C. Barrus:

    Aberration_comps_8.27.13

     

    In the budding age of steam technology, Freddy Fitzgerald risks everything to write the story of a lifetime.

     

    After stealing an ancient map from under the nose of a notorious gangster, Freddy Fitzgerald and Thaddeus Lumpen embark on a quest to find a lost civilization. As news of the map leaks, Freddy and Lumpen find themselves racing against a violent army of archaeologists, gangsters, mercenaries, scuttlers, and scarlettes.

     

    But their destination has its own secrets, secrets which can make even the strongest go mad.

     

    Discovering Aberration is a cerebral steampunk adventure thriller set in an alternate Victorian era. From a country on the verge of revolution to a sensational confrontation on a remote island, its final, chilling secret just might push you to the brink of insanity.

     

    This alone sounds very interesting, especially the „brink of insanity“ half-sentence right at the end. I was really intrigued by it. Luckily, I was able to ask the author about exactly what is behind those three words, because he kindly agreed to an interview.

    So without further ado, here is the second part of the double package, the interview with the gentleman and scholar S. Cody Barrus, author of Discovering Aberration:

    Portrait of S. Cody Barrus

     

    Please tell me (or rather my readers) a little bit about yourself.

    Hi, thanks for having me stop by your blog. My name is S.C. Barrus and I write strange and thrilling literary adventures. My short stories and essays have been published both in print and digital magazines, but what I’m really excited about is my debut steampunk novel, Discovering Aberration which is coming out in January and can be pre-ordered right now for $3.99. It’s the biggest project I’ve ever worked on, and easily the one I’m most proud of.

     

    Where can we find you on the web?

    If you’re interested in following me, you can find me at my blog Away and Away where I share updates and blog posts about books, writing, self publishing, steampunk and whatever else I think my readers will enjoy. You can also find me on Google+ and Facebook.

     

    Is „Discovering Aberration“ your first novel?

    Discovering Aberration is the first novel I’ve perused publishing. I’ve actually written 3 other novels which never saw the light of day. The first was written while I was in high school and was called My Field of Everlasting Smiles. I actually won an award for it from my school upon graduation, but when it came to publishing I was too young to understand the industry and gave up pretty quick.

    The second, called Rem and the Big Case, was written for the 3-day novel contest. It’s a nior story all about lucid dreams. I’ve been thinking of eventually turning that one into a full fledged novel, but first I need to finish all my other projects.

    The third was called Everything Else by the Wayside and was written while I was studying creative writing in college. I never really sought to publish these novels for a variety of reasons, but when I started writing Discovering Aberration it was with the intent that this was going to be my debut.

     

    How long have you been a writer?

    I’ve been a writer since I was young. I published my first poem when I was around 12 years old. But it was in high school where I first realized I wanted to be an author. There I took 3 years of creative writing and eventually wrote that short novel. Ever since then everything I’ve done has been to prepare me for a writing career, and now I’m slowly transitioning into that area.

     

    What got you into writing?

    I think there were two books in particular that made me want to write. The first was Tales of Mystery and Imagination, a collection of short stories by Edgar Allen Poe. I probably read „The Pit and the Pendulum“ one hundred times, and for a while I really tried to write a story just like it.

    But years later when I read Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk I was really inspired. His novels are written in this minimalist style that made me realize how simple yet powerful writing can be. Then I found out that Chuck shared writing advice so I tracked it down and ate it up. I even met Chuck once at a book reading for about 20 seconds. It was these two book that first made me want to write.

     

    Where do you draw your inspirations from?

    Inspiration can come from so many places. Discovering Aberration draws on a variety of sources. The initial inspiration for the basic premise came from a dream I had where I was an explorer on a remote jungle island. The two main characters, Freddy and Lumpen, were inspired by conversation my cousin and I used to have when we worked together in between delivering pizza’s. The scuttlers, Victorian era gang members, were based on a real phenomenon of teenage street fighters that blossomed in the London in the 1800’s and the main antagonist, John-Joseph Heller was also based on a real scuttler (though that scuttler was Heler, not Heller).

    I also drew heavily on the plots of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson novels, especially books like Around the World in 80 Days, 10,000 Leagues Under the Seas, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Treasure Island. These novels are so much fun, and I wanted to create a modern version of these kinds of adventure stories.

     

    Why did you choose a steampunk setting?

    Steampunk is so much fun, and there are so many different aspects of it that I enjoy. Some people love the fashion, others love the books, and still others are fans the movies and video games. I was first drawn to the genre of steampunk through a video game called Arcanum and I immediately loved the setting. Then I began reading the classics by Verne, Stevenson and Lovecraft, and I was totally drawn into their characters and worlds. There was always this desire to create something like that.

    Then when I began writing, steampunk felt like a very natural choice for this novel. There was a story I felt like I needed to tell and it fell nicely into the steampunk genre without needing to be forced. There is this huge range of steampunk out there, especially in terms of fiction, and DA fits closest into the mold of Victorian Era Sci-Fi like Jykell and Hyde though we do get to see some steam and gear powered devices as well. But my favorite thing that the steampunk genre allows is the twist, so I can’t really talk about it without giving the ending away. Rest assured, there are some dark themes here which Lovecraft fans especially will enjoy.

     

    What does steampunk mean to you?

    Steampunk is a fantastic subculture. We look to the future while longing for the past. It’s almost a heart broken idea, but it’s a worthy one too. There’s something I love about people connected to the steampunk scene, they’re doers, they make things and they do it passionately. They also cling to these almost lost ideals, ideals which we need a little more of these days.

     

    What is your connection to the scene?

    My connection is almost strictly literary though I would love to be more entrenched in the near future. There are only so many hours in the day, and I need to spend them focused on my goal of creating the best novel I can. As I wrap up the editing process of Discovering Aberration, I plan on getting out there and getting deeper into the steampunk culture, but for now I’m simply writing in it and sharing with others what I love about steampunk.

     

    The blurb  for DA sounds fascinating, the „brink of insanity“ element, does that hint at something Lovecraftian?

    It certainly does, but I don’t want to give too much away.

    Awwh, that’s too bad…

    What I can say is that I love to play on people’s expectations. As readers, watchers and viewers, we’ve come to expect certain things in our entertainment, but when these expectations are fulfilled we are almost disappointed because we’ve seen that before.

    Part of story telling that I love is knowing what people expect out of any given narrative circumstance and then turning it on it’s ear.

    Here’s a simple example of what I mean. We’ve all seen a bar fights in a movie and books and all expect it to play out in a certain way. Even when the hero is behind, we expect him swing his fists through the chaos and pull ahead. So when he does just that we’re not surprise. In Discovering Aberration, the hero’s loose the bar fight and they loose badly. It’s only through their ingenuity that they can come back ahead.

    A couple of the major twists are similar to that, but with Lovecraftian cerebral terror thrown in, but this too is done in a way that I hope defies expectations.

    OK, seems like I have to skip it forward a few places on my to-read list when it comes out. Cody, thank you so much for your time and let’s see how my review turns out in January.


  • Book Feature – Genesis: Book One of The Kingdom Come Series

    Synopsis:
    After a year of laborious solitude and a conflict brought to the doorstep of his father’s house, Jak, a Southlander of meek circumstance, will come to accept the future isn’t set. Through abilities unnerving to any Areht, against enemies rising in every corner of the planet, he’ll be forced to resolve his destiny as one of five that can change the world. Such selfless transcendence isn’t easy, nor simply the heroic result of dark revelations shielded from him since childhood now exposed; rather, it’s because of what’s undeniable, even to him… Like all great forces collected at the tip of the spear, the truth of his purpose and the price of his existence has a cost and there’s no getting around paying it.

    Genesis: Book One of The Kingdom Come Series

    The publisher says:
    Genesis: Book One of The Kingdom Come Series, is an ambitious, speculative fiction story in the epic tradition of Dune, The Dark Tower and A Song of Ice and Fire. Blending elements of gritty Steampunk and realistic sword-wielding Dark Fantasy, this stand alone manuscript’s cross-over appeal ranges from Y.A/N.A, to the mature, hardcore, Science Fiction and Fantasy book lover. Readers seeking a strangely familiar world of intrigue, intense action and mortal failings vs. the injustice of power and spiritual corruption will be drawn to this book. And once caught in its exciting pages, they’ll quickly learn what really separates man from what is Evolved.

    About the author:
    At 32, Wade Garret is the youngest of three children (the only boy) born in NY, but raised in the southern United States. He’s married to a wonderful woman and has a convict for a dog. When not reading, writing or occasionally drinking at the pub, he can be found researching the latest comics or in the chair of his favorite tattoo shop. Genesis is only the beginning for Mr. Garret’s epic Kingdom Come series. wjgarret.blogspot.com wggenesis.com


  • Book Feature: Shadows Against the Empire

    I really wish I had a time machine, so I could add some hours every day to read all the books that make it to my inbox.
    Case in point: Shadows Against the Empire by Ralph Vaughan

    Synopsis:
    It is 1882, and a Pax Britannica dominates the Solar System. The dominance of Britain in trade, technology and space travel has brought prosperity to the inhabited planets and moon and prevents the other colonial powers of Earth from engaging in widespread and destructive warfare. In a dead city on Mars, however, an ancient evil stirs, calling to and taking over a Martian, who now becomes an agent seeking to facilitate the return of the Dark Gods, malevolent beings who once ruled an empire of blood and fear, but who were banished in a primal age to another dimension. Before chaos can again reign over the planets, Britain’s empire of steel and steam must be toppled. As the balance of power begins to shift, and hearts and minds are turned toward the worship of the Dark Gods, a small band of men and women rises to defy the darkness. From a dead Martian city to the steaming jungle of Venus to the most dangerous quarters of London and Constantinople, they will do whatever is necessary to prevent the fall of night eternal.

     

    Vaughan - Shadows against the Empire

     

    About the author:
    Ralph E Vaughan is well known as an author of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, and actually wrote the first story ever that involved Holmes with HP Lovecraft („The Adventure of the Ancient Gods“), first published in „The Holmesian Federation,“ then later reprinted by Gryphon Books. His latest Holmes project was the well-received „Sherlock Holmes: The Coils of Time & Other Stories“ (March, 2013, Dog in the Night Books). He is also known for the YA adventure series Paws & Claws, chronicling the exploits of the Three Dog Detective Agency; currently the series is represented by „Paws & Claws: A Three Dog Mystery“ and „A Flight of Raptors,“ but will soon be joined by „K-9 Blues.“ He has also published „Reflections on Elder Egypt,“ a collection of essays, and „HP Lovecraft in the Comics,“ a scholarly treatise. Over the past fifty years, Mr Vaughan has published nearly 500 stories and articles in a variety of genres and on a number of subjects.

     

    Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/RalphEVaughan


  • Book Feature: Blowing Off Steam

    The Book Feature category is gaining some momentum. Here is its second installment, and today’s featured novel is Blowing Off Steam:

    Book Description:
    Western Steampunk / Sci-Fi Novella- contains some adult subject matter not suitable for young children.(Sounds promising)


    The time is 1891, the place- Arizona Territory. A year has passed since the death of her mother, and seventeen year old Emma Cartwright is struggling to manage life’s trials. Acting as the mother figure to her younger siblings, worrying about the overdue mortgage on her family’s ranch, and dealing with the eccentric behavior of her clockmaker father have not been easy tasks. Things begin to look up however, when her father decides to take on a new apprentice, a handsome young man who hunts and helps them keep food on the table. Emma soon finds herself wondering what kind of life she truly wants to lead. Is she destined to live the simple, happy life of a wife and mother, or does something more exciting await her in the world beyond? When hired gunslingers come calling to harass the family into selling the ranch, Emma’s problems truly begin to multiply, and she soon discovers that a life of adventure may be much closer than she’d ever imagined.

    And here’s an excerpt:

    The moonlight blanketing the forest gave it an ethereal blue tint, and made Emma feel as though she were walking into some kind of nightmare.
    “Stupid dog,” she muttered while crossing the tree line. Hopefully the animal was just off on some foolish run through the night. Perhaps Andrew had only imagined the presence of men out here. At night, shadows danced through the forest like ghouls in a graveyard. When she was a little girl, she’d seen her share of ghosts out in these trees; it would be easy enough for Andrew, or even Agamemnon, to envision threats that weren’t really there.
    Dried needles and pinecones crunched underfoot, making it nearly impossible to move quietly. If anyone was out here, they were going to hear her coming from a mile away, unless she heard them first. Emma began to shuffle her feet more closely along the ground, which helped a little.
    The moonlight beneath the trees wasn’t as plentiful as it had been out in the open. It was enough to make due, but barely. A dozen feet ahead, a small misshapen figure rested upon the ground. For a moment, Emma thought it might be the hound, but as she crept closer the thing only turned out to be a crumpled up hat. She stooped to pick it up. It was filthy and misshapen, but she recognized it immediately; it was a black Stetson cavalry hat. Burns’ hat.
    Terror swept over her as the reassuring lies she’d been telling herself washed away. Emma squatted there, as still as stone with her hand propped against a great pine tree. She scanned through the darkness, and listened to the light breeze as it swept through the boughs. She smelled the earth, sap, and the foliage around her, but could detect nothing and no one else. Were Queeny’s men there watching her now, waiting to spring once they’d had their fun with her? She reached down and drew the revolver, and slowly rose back up to her feet. It was then that she saw a strange movement up ahead in the distance, and heard a low, deep creak.
    She gasped, and jumped away just in time to clear the immense tree, which crashed to the ground like a defeated titan. Had someone pushed the thing at her? Every instinct told her to turn and run, but something kept her from it. Perhaps running was what they wanted. She wasn’t going to give them that. She was going to fight.

    And if this has kindled your interest, click the image above.


  • Book Feature: Pulse Chaser

    This is a new format for the blog, a non-review book feature. I have a backlist of 50 works of literature by now (fiction and non-fiction) and I see little chance of getting them all read in the foreseeable future. Instead, I am going to feature a book I found noteworthy but have not gotten round reading or finishing it, every now and then. The first of those is

    Pulse Chaser by Archer Garrett

    A Classic Science Fiction Adventure in the Spirit of Jules Verne.

    Cover: Pulse ChaserIn September, 1859, a celestial event of untenable proportions bombarded the earth. Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America were disrupted or destroyed. Telegraph pylons threw terrifying arcs of electricity through the air. Operators were shocked; some were even killed. Some systems continued to send messages even after being unplugged. Auroras were seen as far away from the poles as the Caribbean.

    Two amateur astronomers, Richard Carrington and Burgess Stallworth, identified the phenomenon as a solar storm. The storm, the first and largest ever recorded, came to be known as the Carrington Event.

    In the midst of the storm, they discovered something far more extraordinary, a ripple in the aether, and an entirely new world.

    This other world, in many ways a mirror image of our own, became a buffer of sorts against tempests such as the Carrington Event. Auroras became a regular phenomenon there. Massive solar flares were as common as Sunday brunch. These extremes forced this alternate world to progress in a much different direction than our own.

    Thirty years later, William Stallworth, grandson of Burgess, abandons his mundane life in our own world for one of adventure in another. He discovers a place that is far different than even he expected. Steamwork airships soar through, and are plagued by aerial pirates. Mighty sea creatures, the products of a prolonged Industrial Revolution’s pollution, haunt the seas. Cities glow by the light of ethereal, alchemical reagents, while evil lurks in the shadows just beyond.

    While aboard Helios, the first airship of its kind, William is propelled into a series of harrowing exploits that ultimately lead to the unearthing of a plot that could destroy the world that he has come to love, as well as the one he left behind.

     

    And this is an excerpt:

    Journal Entry 237a

    August, 1895t

    An Introduction to the Caribbean Expedition

    Since the study of electromagnetism was mostly abandoned, the minds of many thinkers were freed to pursue other fields of study; namely, these being chemistry, metallurgy and biology.  Note I say that the study of electricity was mostly abandoned; the electrical does exist here, though it is very limited in scope.  Because of the need for Faraday cages in all things electric, the cost and application of such can be quite prohibitive.

    The advancement of chemistry in Terra was far greater than anything in our world.  Many of these discoveries were used for the betterment of society, but some, I fear, will soon be used by evil men – just as we’ve seen in our own world.  That, however, I shall save for another entry.

    As you look around your world, you’ve probably realized that science and technology often outpace the sensibilities and ethics of man.  We often have to learn by burning our fingers, but our collective memories are short-term and the lessons we learn are soon forgotten.  Our bandaged fingers eventually go wobbling back into the dancing flames.

    In the early years of the divergence, environmental concerns were nonexistent, and pollution was rampant in both worlds.  The inhabitants of the multiverse were forced to eventually address their smog-filled cities and the acid rain that pattered on their heads, but Terra had a far worse problem in the early days – what to do with the extremely toxic by-products of the chemicals and processes that were being developed?

    At first they were dumped openly on the ground in the deserts and other sparsely inhabited areas, but this created vast wastelands.  Burying the chemicals was attempted next, but due to their highly corrosive nature, contaminated groundwater soon became a dire issue.  Finally, a solution was devised; the by-products would be dumped in the depths of the oceans, far from civilization.  What could possibly go awry?  As we would soon discover, quite a many things, actually.

    Most of the creatures of the sea that ventured into the designated dumping grounds quickly perished, but this was not the case for all species.  Some creatures experienced horrific mutations, far worse than any could have imagined.  One class in particular that was affected in this manner was cephalopods – specifically squid and octopi.  These creatures experienced vastly increased growth rates and exhibited extremely aggressive and territorial mannerisms.  Even so, this journal entry would not exist had it not been for architeuthidae, known to us commoners as the giant squid.
    The largest documented architeuthidae was 43’ long and weighed over 600 pounds, but many an old sailor had a tale or two of a monstrous beast that exceeded 60’ in length.  The toxic dumping had the effect of tripling, or possibly even quadrupling the size of the already-massive creatures.  Entire ships began to disappear without a trace, and sailors began to bring stories to port of mythical krakens, except they were no longer a myth.  After a particularly gruesome attack against a barque in the Caribbean was witnessed by a passing vessel, a team of men was organised to track down and exterminate the offending beast.  This is where my story begins.

    If this has kindled your interest, then pick up Pulse Chaser.