Friday, February 12, 2016

WTF Friday: Raping the Gods by Brian Whitney

Every once in a while, as the mood strikes me, I like to indulge in those titles that are a bit odd . . . a bit different . . . a bit bizarre . . . and a bit freaky. These are books that don't always get a lot of press, and which rarely benefit from any prominent retail shelf space.

They're often an underground of sort of literature, best shared through guilty whispers, and often with embarrassed grins. These are our WTF Friday reads!

Do you like plain vanilla sex, sobriety, and a sense of normalcy? Then this book isn't for you.
Raping the Gods comes billed as a bizarre black comedy, as told through a drug-addled stream-of-consciousness narrative. It's a book I normally wouldn't have picked up - even David Lynch couldn't save Naked Lunch for me, and Natural Born Killers is one of the few movies I've ever walked out of - but Brian Whitney and I had chatted about another book a couple of years ago, and I was intrigued by the concept.

Yes, it's a really weird read. Yes, the narrative tried my patience on a regular basis. Yes, there's a lot of illicit substances involved. And, yes, it often makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. What separated it from those art-trash films, however, was its sense of humor. Whitney isn't out to make some grand artistic statement here. He knows how bat-shit crazy his story is, and he's damned well going to have fun with it. The entire thing is like an inside joke, where so long as you buy into the self-aware, self-depreciating humor, you're going to feel compelled to keep reading.

There were a number of passages that made me shake my head, some that made me question what the hell I was reading, and many more that had me laughing out loud. Brian as author/narrator conveys the perfect tone of desperation to make it all work, and Dylan has just the right amount of dark undercurrents to him to make his insanity compelling. The whole negotiation between them to start the book is uproariously funny, with Dylan's rambling, incoherent, nonsense missives so full of arrogance and self-importance that they're almost painful.

At the same time, Brian's pitiful life, washed up, drunk, broke, and relying on aging porn stars to pay the bills, couldn't scream tortured writer any louder if he danced naked through the desert with fireworks exploding from between his legs. That's one of the few things that doesn't happen in the book.

Somehow, despite all the insanity, Whitney manages to keep the adrenaline level high throughout, never faltering under the weight of his own expectations. It's dark and a it's violent; it's kinky and it's perverse; and it's so asinine in parts that it approaches genius. I really wondered where it was going, and wasn't sure I ever wanted to see Brian Raping the Gods, but their final scene atop the cliff was absolutely perfect in its simplicity, and the final throw-away line about the leash at the airport just tied everything together.

Kindle Edition, 135 pages
Published March 2nd 2015 by Strawberry Books

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fantasy Review: Dragon Hunters by Marc Turner

Don't forget to check out my interview with Marc over at The Speculative Herald.

If you were a fan of When the Heavens Fall, then be prepared for an abrupt change with Dragon Hunters.  For the second book of The Chronicle of the Exile, Marc Turner shifts location, characters, and story line. It’s still the same recognizable narrative voice, and the mythology ties the two books together, but it makes for a very different read . . . one that takes on a entirely new flavor. Having said that, if you’ve yet to encounter Turner’s work, then that same shift means this second book is just as accessible to new readers as the first.

Personally, I found this second volume a little more difficult to get into than the first. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my darkened alleys, haunted forests, and subterranean lairs. It’s classic (perhaps even clichéd) epic fantasy, but those elements were largely responsible for me celebrating the first as something of a throwback fantasy. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with this second volume, or that it doesn’t grow on you, it just the sunny seaside setting didn’t have the same initial impact - although it does prove to have some very cool, very dark, very underwater secrets.

Senar Sol, Guardian, is our first real POV character in the novel. He’s as much a challenge as he is a mystery, trapped far from home, with rather murky loyalties. In terms of narrative, he allows us to view the events surrounding the Storm Lords with a critical eye, and in terms of character, he slowly emerges to reveal himself as a hero of note. Karmel Flood, Chameleon, is probably the most intriguing character in the novel, a woman who is  both a thief and an assassin, with her loyalties divided rather than murky. She has a magical ninja-like quality to her, but she’s also intelligent and witty. Agenta Webb, Gilgamarian sailor, is a bit more of a mystery, but she’s strong-willed, independent, and more powerful than appearances would suggest.

Kempis Parr, Watchman, serves as the moral center of the novel, a good man who is perhaps too aware of his place in the world. He’s self-assured and sarcastic, but he’s also a good leader and an even better investigator. I’m not sure what it is about the kinds of city guards, but they often make for the best, most reliable, most admirable characters. Mazana Creed, Storm Lord, is the exact opposite, but far-and-away the most entertaining character in the book. She struck a chord in me from her first verbal sparring with Imerle Polivar, and I found myself hoping she’d have a significant role to play as the story progressed. She’s also the character who grows and evolves the most, although there were moments I doubted her motives (as I suspect we’re meant to). As was the case in the first novel, it takes a while for their individual stories to merge, but that's part of the charm.

The sea dragons are, of course, the main attraction here, and it’s well worth the wait for them to appear on the scene. They’re brutal killing machines, water-borne monsters who are fully prepared to amass a massive body count. Turner crafts the geography almost as carefully as he does the plot, ensuring that the dragons aren’t just something on which to hinge the story, but a legitimate part of a very water-borne story. Their presence has mythological as well as political implications, and in a book where political schemes are almost as serpentine as the dragons themselves, that leaves them a large role to play.

All in all, Dragon Hunters feels a bit more grounded than the first book, and swaps some of its almost-Gothic horror for pulp-adventure, but it still maintains the same dark sense of humor and epic scope of imagination that made it so enjoyable.

Hardcover, 496 pages
Published February 9th 2016 by Tor Books

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday: Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay
Expected publication: May 10th 2016 by NAL

The bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay is back with a new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, set in a world inspired by the conflicts and dramas of Renaissance Europe. Against this tumultuous backdrop the lives of men and women unfold on the borderlands—where empires and faiths collide.

From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.

The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.

As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world…

Far and away my most anticipated novel of the new year!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cover Reveal: Hound's Bite by E.J. Stevens

I am excited to reveal the cover for HOUND'S BITE, the fifth full-length novel in the Ivy Granger urban fantasy series by E.J. Stevens.  We also have a giveaway and a sneak peek book excerpt to share!

Cover Reveal: Hound's Bite

Hound's Bite (Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective #5) by E.J. Stevens

Ivy Granger thought she left the worst of Mab's creations behind when she escaped Faerie.  She thought wrong.

In a cruel twist of fate, Ivy has unleashed a powerful horde of Unseelie beasts upon her city, turning her homecoming into a potential slaughter of innocents.  Now Ivy must gather her allies to fight a reputedly unstoppable force—The Wild Hunt.

Will the training Ivy received in her father's court be enough to save her city, or will Harborsmouth be forced to kneel before the Lord of the Hunt?  She is willing risk her own life, but some sacrifices come at a cost worse than death.  When an ally is bitten by one of The Wild Hunt's hounds, Ivy must face the possibility that winning this battle may mean killing the one person she has come to
love most.

Release Date: July 12, 2016
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Add to Goodreads.

Hound’s Bite Book Excerpt

     “Are you saying we should run?” I asked, eyebrows raised.  “Because you should know me better than that.”
     “What he’s saying, Princess is that you woke up something too big for the three of us to defeat alone,” Torn said.
     That made me pause.  We’d fought faerie queens, pyro demons, a lovesick necromancer, and a psychotic lamia, to name a few.  I may not have come through those battles unscathed, or with all my guts still on the inside, but with my friends at my side, and a new arsenal of wisp powers at my fingertips, I felt nearly invincible.  
     I looked to Ceff, hoping he’d grab his trident and join me for some quick monster cleanup.  I may not be on the clock for this one, but I didn’t let hungry fae prowl the streets of Harborsmouth.  And if Torn was right, I’d somehow let this one follow us out of Faerie.  No way was I turning tail, no matter how tired I was.
     But Ceff didn’t reach for his weapons.  
     “We need allies,” he said.
     “And larger weapons,” Torn said, with a wink.  
     The cat sidhe looked excited, which was a clue that I wasn’t going to like the answer to my next question.
     “And what monster do we need to gather our allies and weapons against?” I asked.
     “Haven’t you guessed yet, Princess?” Torn asked, eyes gleaming.  “We’re not just facing one howling beast.”
     Ceff turned to me, closing the space between us.  In the moonlight, I could see my reflection in the dark pools of his kelpie eyes—eyes that were tight with worry.
     “What are they?” I asked.
     Ceff’s voice was low and reverent, and tinged with the taint of fear.
     “The Wild Hunt.”


About the Author
E.J. Stevens is the author of 14 works of speculative fiction, including the Hunters' Guild urban fantasy series, the Spirit Guide young adult paranormal series, and the award-winning Ivy Granger urban fantasy series.  She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines.

Connect with E.J. Stevens by following her on TwitterFacebookNewsletterBlogGoodreads, and Amazon.


Hound's Bite Cover Reveal Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think of the cover?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

From the Shelf to the Page: This Week in the Ruins

In case you missed any of it, here's what happened in the Ruins this week . . .

WTF Friday of Night Things - Dracula versus Frankenstein by Terry M. West

Waiting On Wednesday with Saint's Blood by Sebastien de Castell

A Fresh Take on Superpowers guest post by Cy Wyss


Stacking The Shelves and Mailbox Monday are a pair of weekly memes that are about sharing the books that came your way over the past week, and which you've added to your shelves - whether they be physical or virtual, borrowed or bought, or for pleasure or review.


Reversion: The Inevitable Horror by J. Thorn
Published September 12th 2012
With a noose around his neck, Samuel arrives in a forest littered with caution tape and artifacts of the deceased. He struggles to regain his memory while fending off a pack of wolves and the mysterious visitors who seem to know more about this dying world than he does. Major, Kole, and Mara, new companions also trapped in the strange locality, realize they must outrun the ominous cloud eating away at reality. As their world collapses upon itself, Samuel must find a way to escape the Reversion.

The Girl in the Glyphs by David Edmonds &  Maria Nieves Edmonds
Published January 5th 2016 by Peace Corps Writers
THE GIRL IN THE GLYPHS is a powerful archaeological thriller that takes the reader from the Smithsonian Museum to Nicaraguan jungles and on into the darkness of a mysterious cave. It's also a magical exploration of the power of love!


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is another weekly meme, this time focused on what books are spending the most time in your hands and in your head, as opposed to what's been added to your shelf.

The Passenger: A Novel by F.R. Tallis
1941. A German submarine, U-471 goes rogue, and a series of shocking, brutal events occur. In the aftermath, disturbing things start happening on the boat. It seems that a lethal, supernatural force is stalking the crew, wrestling with Lorenz for control. A thousand feet under the dark, icy waves, it doesn't matter how loud you scream...

Interior Darkness: Selected Stories by Peter Straub
Peter Straub has spent forty years at the forefront of modern literary horror. The stories assembled here represent his astonishing range and his ability to terrify, transport, and hold a reader hostage. Each story cracks the foundation of our reality and opens our eyes, taking us further and further into the darkness that normally remains deeply, and safely, hidden. Interior Darkness is the gold standard of literary horror. 

Miasma by Greg Cox
Star Trek continues its fiftieth anniversary celebration in 2016 with an all-new enovella from New York Times bestselling author Greg Cox, set in the popular and blockbuster Original Series era!

What's topping your shelves this week?

Friday, February 5, 2016

WTF Friday: Night Things - Dracula versus Frankenstein by Terry M. West

Every once in a while, as the mood strikes me, I like to indulge in those titles that are a bit odd . . . a bit different . . . a bit bizarre . . . and a bit freaky. These are books that don't always get a lot of press, and which rarely benefit from any prominent retail shelf space.

They're often an underground of sort of literature, best shared through guilty whispers, and often with embarrassed grins. These are our WTF Friday reads!

Two years ago I had the great pleasure of being introduced to the dark world of Terry M. West through Monsters and the Magic Now. It was a dark, weird, perverse tale that crossed boundaries and obliterated taboos while achieving a perfect blend of genius and filth. It served to introduce us to a world where monsters are real and where men are monsters, with a story centered around the underground world of monster exploitation fetish porn. Yup, you read that right. It really went there.

With Night Things: Dracula versus Frankenstein, West delves into the consequences of that first novel, while also expanding its mythology to explore the centuries-old rivalry between two of history's greatest monsters.

Frankenstein's monster may be just that - a monster - but as Johnny Stücke he controls much of the city's human crime element above, while Dracula rules over the zombies, vampires, and shifters from below. The two were once allies, but a moment of human compassion on Johnny's part put them forever at odds with one another. Caught in between the two is Gary Hack, the heroin-addicted pornographer from the first tale, who proves to be the catalyst for an all-out war centuries in the making.

While I didn't find this quite as dark or original as the first book, it's still a solid horror novel that doesn't shy away from the darkness within us all. West's monsters are of the vintage variety, true to their literary origins, while the story itself forces you to think about the nature of good versus evil, and monsters versus man. Grounding it all (and bringing it all together) is the subplot involving Gary's daughter. Here we have a young girl forced to grow up far too fast, a man who can never live up to the title of father, and a transvestite vampire who can never be her mother, no matter how much she longs for it.

Night Things: Dracula versus Frankenstein is a story that's full of imagination, with a kick-ass finale, and a few surprise appearances from other vintage monsters.

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: March 18th 2016 by Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Inc.