Saturday, February 27, 2010

Urban Gothic Book Review

Title: Urban Gothic
Author: Brian Keene
Publisher: Leisure Books
Pages: 301
ISBN: 9780843960907

I've been a Brian Keene fan now for many years, and I have no problem with telling anyone who will listen, that he's one of my top favorite authors of all times. When someone asks me to recommend a book, my tops picks are usually Brian Keene's The Conqueror Worms (which is my all-time favorite novel), Ghoul, Dead Sea, or Dark Hollow. But now, it would seem, there's another contender to add to that list.

After a night out in Philly, six friends get stuck in a dangerous neighborhood in the inner city when they're car breaks down. Seeking shelter, they decide to enter a run down, abandoned row house. Little do they know that it's anything but abandoned; it's residents still live there, deep in the basement of the desolate house, nocturnal and hungry for flesh.

This book, should come with a warning.

Imagine if you will: The Goonies on a combination of steroids, except there isn't any treasure, and One-Eyed Willie isn't dead, and neither are his friends. But what they are is pissed off and hungry. If Brian Keene's novel Castaways was a homage to Horror author Richard Laymon, then there isn't a doubt in my mind that Urban Gothic is Keene's nod to another Horror author of equal fame: Edward Lee.

For those who have read Keene before, you're probably already well aware of the shared underlining mythos that have, and continue too, pop up throughout almost all of Keene's novels and stories. Urban Gothic is no different. There's just enough of these mythos to give a treat to knowing readers, while not robbing new readers of their time and money. And Keene does anything but.

The abandoned house that Kerri and her friend seek shelter in, is a massive maze of interconnected rooms, and caverns that fill the basement. Keene takes this group of teens and puts them in a classic horror situation, but quickly turns it on it's head, with screams around every corner.

And as for the six friends, they're more than just your typical cannon fodder; character development is one of Keene's -- in my personal opinion -- best skills, and this book shows just how fast-paced, adrenaline pumping and unrelenting Keene can be. Around every turn of the labyrinthine like house, there's a scream and jolt that is a rare treat to find amongst even some of the best horror authors out there to date. Keene continuously puts these six friends into situations that I know for certain, I wouldn't have enough balls to get through, let alone stamina.

It's a gauntlet of a novel, and each page is stained with blood, gore and all around edge-of your seat fun and excitement. There were times were I caught myself screaming and laughing, and a few nights with little sleep -- not only from the page turning experience, but also from the sheer visceral awesomeness that pops out as you begin to become attached to the characters within the pages of Urban Gothic.

This might sound biased, but it would seem that no matter what Keene writes, it's always going to be a 7.5 on the rating scale. Yes, I'm a fanboy, and yes, I will gladly and willingly admit this, any day of the week. Urban Gothic is definitely at the top of my list of favorite Keene novels, which is why I'm going to give it 8.0 T.A.R.D.I.S.'s out of 10.

So, stop reading this and go pick up a copy. You can thank me after you've finished reading it and calmed down enough to actually sleep.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dark Creed Book Review

Title: Dark Creed
Author: Anthony Reynolds
Publisher: Black Library
Pages: 416
ISBN: 9781844167876

Dark Creed is the third and final book in a thrilling new series featuring the Word Bearers Legion.

If there is one thing that a traitor Space Marine legion does not need -- in addition to counting the whole galaxy against you -- it's inner turmoil. Dark Apostle Marduk of the tainted Word Bearers legion is having to deal with just that, as he wages war against the White Consul chapter of Space Marines. With the "Nexus Arrangement" -- a device of Necron origin -- newly acquired and now part of his arsenal, Marduk hopes to turn the war back in his favor. And perhaps, with the favor of the Chaos gods, the path of Terra will be opened to him.

However, in the midst of battle, an old enemy returns and destroys Marduk's plans. It quickly escalates into something that he does not want, but has no choice to face: a three front war that does not bode well; not even for a Dark Apostle as cunning as Marduk.

The level of turmoil within the Word Bearers is an eye opener, and sheds light onto the failed Black Crusades. It also illuminates the reader as to why Chaos Undivided isn't ruling the galaxy as it should, instead leaving the Emperor of Mankind to reign over the stars. Backstabbing is a very popular game in this novel by Black Library author Anthony Reynolds. From the lowliest menial slaves to those who stand in rank just under the Primarch Demon Prince himself, Dark Creed is full of twists and turns that will excite and shock readers of all ages.

While keeping up with all the backstabbing, Marduk must also watch his back, for someone is out to take his mantle. Although he is labeled the bad guy in this story, it is hard for one not to feel sorry for the Dark Apostle at times. Maybe it's his level head, or maybe the fact that he doesn't stoop to his comrades level of trickery just to fill a void in his ego, or maybe it's because he shows all the signs of your outstanding bad guy: he's driven, objective and a critical thinker.

Thank the Emperor they're not all like that!

The majority of what makes this book work is the inner turmoil within the Word Bearers Chapter, and as much as it's used to progress the storyline, it also hinders it. The reader has to pay careful attention, otherwise it'll make for a confusing read, leading them down different paths in the story that had not be marked before. And although the ending was superb, there was never really doubt in my mind how it would end, but Reynolds does a flawless job with pulling it off.

Dark Creed has it's draw backs, which is why I'm giving it 8 Sonic Screwdrivers out of 10. I highly recommend this book to any Warhammer 40k fan out there who like to see the bad guys win for a change. It's out on shelves wherever books are sold, so stop reading this and go pick up a copy today! And while your at it, pick up the first two books in this series as well: Dark Apostle and Dark Disciple.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Podcast #8: Book Reviews for Soulless, and Redclaw

Title: Soulless
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780316056632

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

Soulless is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Soulless is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

Title: Red Claw
Author: Philip Palmer
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 452
ISBN: 97803160189937

Philip Palmer turns science fiction on its head in this breathtaking thrill ride through alien jungles filled with terrifying monsters and killer robots. Space marines and science heroes! Gryphons and Godzillas! It's all here in this gripping tale of man versus nature.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shadow Season Book Review

Title: Shadow Season
Author: Tom Piccirilli
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9789553592474

Finn is an ex-cop, stricken blind after doing what he did best: protect and serve. After years of serving the people, Finn takes a job as a teacher at a very isolated all girls' prep school, were he thunks he might be safe, But he's wrong.

When Finn finds a girl passed out in the snow, he takes her in, only to find that she carries an omen; a warning that slowly begins to eat away at him. While at the same time, visions of his dead wife, Dani still haunt him in the dark, and so do two shady offenders who are out for blood -- a smell that brings visions of a crime scene to Finn's mind. Scenes that will never fade from his memory.

When the two intruders come after Finn -- endangering the girls who he teaches -- he knows that the only way to take care of the two shady fellows is if he does it himself.

Piccirilli writes superbly in describing what it means to be blind, and using adversity to weave an incredible story that will leave the reader as blind as Finn; even a man with perfect eyesight. As the story progresses, shadows culminate until it's too late, leaving strobe like flashes to illuminate the shadows that are hidden around every twist and turn.

Shadow Season is written in alternating chapters, dealing with flashbacks to earlier times of Finn's life: falling in love with his wife Dani, being accepted into the police force with his best friend Ray at his side the whole way, and several revelations that will slap the reader right in the face. This is one of those novels where the reader is automatically sucked into the story, characters and plot, and constantly find themselves making excuses to keep reading.

Having read several other titles by Mr. Piccirilli, I had a vague idea of what I would be getting myself into, but never would I have thought that it would keep me from having a social life! With good characters and an awesome plot, this is one book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a fun short read that'll get their hearts pumping, and adrenaline flowing.

Overall, I'd have to give Shadow Season 8.5 TARDIS's out of 10. So, if any of you are still stuck in your home because of snow, I'd suggest you go to your local library and check this book out. Don't run though, take your time. It's well worth putting your vehicle and self at risk for!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monster Hunter Vendetta Cover Revealed

Here's the cover for Larry Correia's Monster Hunter Vendetta. For those of you who have been following us since the beginning, Larry was the first author to agree to be interviewed on this site. After rushing out to buy a copy of Monster Hunter International, Ryan and I devoured it in several days, mostly without sleep or food, and we look forward to doing it again with this one.

Here's the official blurb for Vendetta:

Accountant turned professional monster hunter, Owen Zastava Pitt, managed to stop the nefarious Old One's invasion plans last year, but as a result made an enemy out of one of the most powerful beings in the universe. Now an evil death cult known as the Church of the Temporary Mortal Condition wants to capture Owen in order to gain the favor of the great Old Ones.

The Condition is led by a fanatical necromancer known as the Shadow Man. The government wants to capture the Shadow Man and has assigned the enigmatic Agent Franks to be Owen's full time bodyguard, which is a polite way of saying that Owen is monster bait.

With supernatural assassins targeting his family, a spy in their midst, and horrific beasties lurking around every corner, Owen and the staff of Monster Hunter International don't need to go hunting, because this time the monsters are hunting them. Fortunately, this bait is armed and very dangerous . . .

Although Monster Hunter Vendetta isn't supposed to be on the shelves of your local bookstore until September 28th, (usually books show up earlier than their intended release date, so check those shelves!) you can pre-order yourself a copy now from these fine booksellers: Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

I know there will be some sleepless nights for me, now that there's a release date, and I'll most likely waste a large amount of time staring and drooling at the new cover (which I've made the background on my laptop... hehehehe!!!!).

Hopefully this will satiate you Monster Hunters out there, until the big day!