Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Author Interview

Michael W. Huard is an American martial arts instructor and author of several books on self-defence.  His latest book, Land of the Free, is set in America in the year 3016. 

 

 

LIVE FREE or DIE! In the year 3016, the United States of America has fallen into great despair. The advent of advanced technology, robotics, and a power-hungry corporation rule the nation. However, there is hope. A sisterhood of enhanced, highly intelligent, beautiful, patriotic, martial arts masters are out to make the country free again. This is a sci-fi and fantasy book.




 
Looking at the cover art of The Land of the Free and its stars and stripes costume; I'm wondering if you're hoping to appeal to lovers of superhero stories etc?
Absolutely, yet these women are real and based in a non-fantasy world. Each has a super quality about them and I feel people will enjoy such. The dress on the book cover it part of the storyline. I hope people fall in love with the sisterhood as they women are very patriotic!

What age range are you aiming your story at? 
This novel is an 18+ book!

Where did you get the idea for the story?
I have a very creative mind. I have been a game master for over 30 years in dungeons and dragons. My wife keeps telling me write fiction, you have this amazing mind, so here I am.

Why female protagonists?
I think it’s more interesting to have the stars be women; and I find a sisterhood something that really feels like it could work well in a cool fantasy story. It’s nice to see these women be hero’s!

What makes your heroines different?  Do you think all the martial arts training / teaching you have done, obviously working with women, means you are writing female characters in a different way to other male authors? 
My martial art training is very much a huge part of the book. The women are all highly trained experts in fighting via real life skills. They’re a family out to make a difference; this is a hugely female empowering book!  You as a woman can be powerful and beautiful in both ways. The characters are deep not just there to look good.

How has your martial arts background influenced your writing?  (I’m not just thinking of the fight scenes here, but also perhaps regarding the themes.)
I love the way I can incorporate realism in the fights for one; but of course I add fantasy elements for fun. In this future world setting, it’s somewhat apocalyptic in nature so fighting to survive is a key part of the story.

Has the current state of US politics and economics influenced the creation of your story?
Great question, yes! I am patriotic, I want peace, and I love good people; so this sisterhood is out to make these things a way of life even in the harsh future setting of the story … a future which the USA has faltered from such conflicts.

You say the story is inspirational – what is the message that you hope people will gain / learn from this?
That people can live in harmony with one another. We can all find common ground, and that we should love our country, God, and seek the good in all we meet.

Thank you for this interview, it was fun, Land of the Free will be releasing soon to Amazon as well as three novella’s in the Mystical Slayer book series, stay tuned and God Bless.

 - Michael




Wednesday, 8 November 2017

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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Book Review


How I Magically Messed Up My Life

in Four Freakin' Days

by Meagan O'Russell

(Published by Curiosity Quills Press, 2017)

**The publisher provided me with an ARC copy of this work.** 



Megan O’Russell’s YA novel,  How I Magically Messed up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days, instantly drew my attention because of its title and its colourful cover art.  However, the following lines in the blurb really got my attention. “I found a magic cell phone, opened an app I shouldn’t have, burned down the set shop for my high school’s theatre, and it was all downhill from there. A drag queen seer who lives under a bridge is my only hope for keeping my mom alive, and I think the cops might be after me for destroying my dad’s penthouse.”

I just had to read it!

For me, the mark of a good writer is one who, within the first few pages, grabs your attention and holds it, but also hits you solidly with a character’s “voice” and gives you a good glimpse into the character's nature and some of the issues that are important for that individual.  O’Russell did this extremely well.

Bryant is a teenager whose mind constantly wanders and daydreams.  He is the smart geek who’s too shy to speak to the girl he admires and who has a handsome best friend who is his opposite and epitomises all that is cool.  From the first page the quips and one-liners keep going throughout the entire novel; several times I found myself laughing out loud as I read.

Bryant’s troubles start when he finds a cell phone in a cab and decides it’s safer for him to return it to the owner rather than have it disappear into lost and found at the cab company.  Innocently unleashing a series of magical disasters, being pursued by evil wizards and a group of deranged witches becomes par for the course in Bryant’s life and his dealings with the “Rasputin of phones.”

O’Russell sets a cracking pace from the beginning of the book all the way through to the end.  This was an extremely enjoyable, fast read and I highly recommend it for MG readers all the way through to adults. 
 I hope O’Russell writes more adventures of Bryant Adams, because I’d love to read them and you will too.

Four Stars!



Sunday, 3 September 2017

Book Review

Vick's Vultures

by Scott Warren

(Pub: Parvus Press, 2016)



This military science fiction novel crossed my review desk ages ago. The publisher requested that I review it saying it had “pioneer spirit and the wisecracking tone of Firefly combined with the action and taut pacing of  Mad Max: Fury Road.”


At the mention of Firefly I was hooked. How could I resist?


Vick’s Vultures is set in a future where Earth, far behind the rest of the universe in terms of technology, runs a privateering fleet of spaceships whose crews scavenge alien tech from wrecks.  This enables earth to gradually expand its reach into universe and slowly cultivate tenuous alliances while aiming to keep Earth’s location off everyone’s radar. 

The story emphasises the position of Earth as being at the bottom of the universal dung heap with a government that walks a fine line between keeping Earth’s location secret because they’re hopelessly outgunned and slowly acquiring power / tech so they can one day defend themselves in a universe full of more advanced and often predatory species.


Victoria Marin is the Captain of the U.E. Condor and on one of her scavenging missions, she and her crew stumble upon an alien prince in need of rescuing, then find themselves firmly in the middle of an age old war between two of the most advanced civilisations in the universe.


Vick's Vultures is fast paced from beginning to end and the action sequences are excellent.  The story arcs, tension and world building thoroughly engaging.


The character of Victoria and the obsessive Dirregaunt Commander, who is the villain of this piece, are a little stereotyped but none the less fun to read. I found some of the secondary characters more interesting than the main ones.  I felt like the end needed a couple of extra scenes rather than an epilogue that summed everything up.  I would like to have read the unfolding of the final events after the big battle finale. 


However, what I particularly enjoyed were the various alien civilisations that Warren constructed.  I found them unique, enjoyed the different cultural / social customs and loved the backstory of intricate politics and betrayal.


The whole feel is rather like Firefly crossed with Star Trek.  It’s space opera done very well. I became hooked on reading it and abandoned my afternoon plans to finish it.  It was rollicking good fun. 


 I’m definitely going to read the next one and check out the rest of Scott Warren’s books.

Four Stars!  



https://www.bookdepository.com/Cassandr-Kathryn-Gossow/9781922200785/?a_aid=TracyMJoyce
<a target="_blank" href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01NB0IKRC/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01NB0IKRC&linkCode=as2&tag=vierev00-20&linkId=2da13b89d37faf7b267c059ecbe35a8b">Cassandra</a><img src="//ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=vierev00-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01NB0IKRC" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/cassandra-32
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cassandra-kathryn-gossow/1125701446?ean=9781922200785

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Book Review

Cassandra

by Kathryn Gossow

(Pub: Odyssey Books, 2017)




Cassandra by Kathryn Gossow is a modern take on the myth of Cassandra of Troy, a woman who had the gift of prophecy but was cursed so that no one would believe her.

Cassie Shultz lives on a farm in remote Queensland. She is plagued by, in waking dreams and momentary visions, flashes of the future. Cassie struggles to understand these visions. Her gift and any attempts to explain it to others or to warn them result in her ridicule, and her being labelled as a “freak” amongst her peers - even her parents treat her as being a bit odd.

The novel opens with Cassie as a young child – she crawls under the house to play and is bitten by a snake. (There is a link here to one of the interpretations of the Greek myth regarding Cassandra. She and her brother fell asleep in the temple of Apollo were said to have been found surrounded by serpents in the morning.) Gossow’s portrayal of the young Cassie is very good. There is obviously a complex family dynamic happening around her that Cassie does not fully understand and this depiction is engaging.


Later, when Cassie is a teenager, she has all the attendant growing pains that most teenagers do – she is uncertain of her place in the world, desperate for friends, desperate to feel loved and desired and yet her visions have isolated her. What is worse is that her brother has a knack for predicting the weather and is labelled as a prodigy! The section where Cassie is a teen is particularly well written. Gossow evokes her loneliness and longing with seeming ease and Cassie is a character that evolves beautifully as the story progresses. There are moments where you’ll loathe the teen brat and others where your heart will ache for her.

I honestly didn’t think that I was going to enjoy this book. The reason for it was very simple – the novel is written in the third person present tense, which is unusual. I think for majority of authors this is a problematic choice in that it, at least for me, serves to remind readers of the presence of a narrator and that we are being "told" a story. This irked me and often repeatedly pulled me out of the story rather than immersing me in it.

However, I kept reading and I was very glad I did because by the end I thought the choice, stylistically, suited the tale. Cassie goes through her life as a spectator, unable to change events and is isolated from those around her, so choosing the third person present meant the reader almost walked in Cassie’s shoes. We were the same powerless observer of her life that she was and this served to heighten the tragic elements of the story. By about half way through the book I had become accustomed this stylistic choice and was enjoying so much else about Gossow’s prose, that I was immersed in the novel anyway.

This is a book with a broad appeal. I’d label it as a YA crossover novel – though I think the notions that many automatically attach to the YA category would do it a disservice. It’s part coming of age story, part fantasy, part Aussie battler family drama dealing with the grim reality of life on the land.

Simply put it’s great new Aussie fiction.

Four Stars. 

https://www.bookdepository.com/Cassandr-Kathryn-Gossow/9781922200785/?a_aid=TracyMJoyce
<a target="_blank" href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01NB0IKRC/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01NB0IKRC&linkCode=as2&tag=vierev00-20&linkId=2da13b89d37faf7b267c059ecbe35a8b">Cassandra</a><img src="//ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=vierev00-20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01NB0IKRC" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/cassandra-32
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cassandra-kathryn-gossow/1125701446?ean=9781922200785