Wednesday 19 July 2017

Call of the Morrigu by Christy Nicholas [No Spoilers]

[Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book in exchange for an honest review. I purchased the item to support the author.]

All righty then, I should also mention that I am friends with Christy Nicholas and that I have a tendency to enjoy her stories. I wanted to enjoy this story, I wanted to finish this story. I did neither, and I blame myself.

Call of the Morrigu by Christy Nicholas is funny, poignant, well-written, engaging, and curiosity-inducing. It blends current societal problems with those of the past, and presents it all simultaneously in a blunt and humourous, somehow innocent and a teensy bit sultry package. That of the character "Morrigan" in the story itself. And yet, with all that going for it, I, me, myself, did not enjoy it.

I'm pretty sure it's a taste thing, and not something I can help about myself. Certainly not something Christy Nicholas needs to change about her books or writing. If you are at all familiar with her works so far, you'll have noticed the theme of going backwards in time from sequel to sequel, and becoming more magical, too.

I'm referencing the Druid's Brooch Trilogy specifically here, and I will say that if those stories even piqued your interest, this one will do right by you. Myself, I'm looking forward to the next series Christy Nicholas is working on and hoping it fulfils my needs more than Call of the Morrigu did.

I've said it in the past, and I'll say it again. Christy Nicholas is an author with a career worth watching!

Links for Christy Nicholas:

-Twitter: @ greendragon9


Friday 5 May 2017

Drake (The Burned Man) by Peter McLean [No Spoilers]

[Review (by me) as also seen on Amazon .ca (from a while back)]

I bought Drake because I've spoken to Peter McLean and wanted to see if his novels were as nice as he is. The answer is a resounding NO.

They're better!

"Drake" is not a book for the faint of heart, nor the weak of will. It's gruesome and violent, intriguing and thought-provoking, exciting and horrifying, and everything else I love about stories. "Drake" (the book, not the character) stole my heart and ran away with my time, it took over my dreams and plagued my thoughts until I turned to the next page. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this book is worth every penny it costs, and as someone who also writes, I know from reading it that it was worth every lonely hour and misplaced comma and dreaded deadline that went into making it what it is. "The Burned Man" by Peter McLean is a story to look out for by an author with a bright career still waiting to happen.

I'd recommend this book to anyone with eyes and a sense of taste.

Sunday 9 April 2017

The Enchanted City by C. Black (NO spoilers ahead)

Review written by Theodore B.C. Wright (me) on Amazon, now brought to life on the blog!

C. Black is the lovechild of Douglas Adams & Terry Pratchett!

This book. THIS. BOOK!

It was lough-out-loud funny, easy on the eyes, and well-written. It had interesting characters, a magic system with the perfect blend of explained and inexplicable, and a dog you just can't help but love. I wish I could read it again with fresh eyes! I wish all my friends had read this book so I actually have someone to talk to about it! For God's sakes, I'm actually reviewing the damn beautiful thing. It was that good; IS that good!

I won't spoil it, I just, I want you to read it. Make this wonderful piece of literature a classic, give C. Black the love he deserves. Buy this book!


 C. Black's links:



Tuesday 28 March 2017

The Enchanted Swans by Christy Nicholas

I originally read this story a long time ago as a beta-reader, but I gotta say straight up, it's worth full price now. And here, I aim to tell you why.

[No actual spoilers are contained in this review]
The Enchanted Swans started slow for me, it had its moments, of course, but (for me) it wasn't until - spoilers - the four main characters got turned into swans that things really took off (pun intended). The lead up, and the build-up to the point where that all happened was not intense, and I hardly saw it coming. I had not heard of nor read the myth this novel is based upon until I read this novel. It all made for an excellent twist long before the story was over.

The map provided at the beginning of the book was a great help and a good addition! I love maps, even simple ones, and it really nailed home the distances involved in the story.

I found the many strange - and to my English mind - hard to pronounce names were a barrier to entry. That meant bonding with the characters was more difficult than I might have liked, since most of the characters were intriguing at worst, and downright captivating at best. Even with all the confusing names of people and places, once I got past it, read a few pronunciation guides (including the one Christy Nicholas has in this book), and learned me a thing or two, I discovered characters with lives of their own, and breaths outside of the story itself.

I remember dreaming of swan-songs a few times when I was reading this book.

I think Fiachra (the main character's younger brother, and one of the twins born in the opening scene) was the one who truly stole the show by the end of The Enchanted Swans. He made me happy. Fionnuala (the actual main character) had grown on me by the end of the story as well, and I dare say I shed a tear or two when it was all finished and done and read and over.


Christy Nicholas's links:

-Twitter @greendragon9

Tuesday 21 March 2017

AbsoluteWrite's SFF section Sekrit Solstice Sci-Fi/Fantasy Story Swap, and My Eperiences with It

I've been frequenting an author-socialising (I am aware of the contradiction in terms here) website called "The AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler" (found HERE) for a while now. Nowhere near as long as many others on the site seem to have been around, but long enough to have seen my fill, gotten around, and spoken to many other writers on the site.

My tl;dr verdict regarding AbsoluteWrite as a whole: The BOMB-Diggidy! My experiences with the individuals I have interacted with in the tiny corner of the site where I have found a place I can bookmark "Home": Simply, and without a shadow of a doubt, a hair of hesitation, or an ounce of drawing this out... it's my home now.

But this isn't about the entirety of AbsoluteWrite (hence forth referred to as "AW"); this is about one specific event I took part in on AW that is the title of this post. The Sekrit Solstice Science-Fiction & Fantasy Story Swap, or SSSFFSS (Sisyph/fus) for short. This is about the best experience I have ever had writing with others!

Let's start at the beginning: The SSSFFSS has been happening annually for a while now (not sure precisely how long...), starting with sign-ups in December when participants agree to "the Rulez and Such", and provide a prompt for a story to be thrown into the pot.

It's all is currently run/managed by a certain "CobraMisfit" and his story-elves. He's a great organiser, hardly ever have I seen him actually use his whip on the story-elves who provide the backbone of the Sisyphus. He seems to me to be more of the sort of person who'll lead you with a carrot and chase you with a shark-tank, and it works!

Next, on Christmas day, the prompts are sent out by the story-elves. One to each person who wanted to give another writer the gift of a story. The prompts themselves are viewed as Christmas presents by most, as I gather. But the REAL fun begins after Christmas, when the Sisyphus stories themselves are written by the participants for two(ish) months until March arrives.

Only once all the "Sisyphuses" have been submitted back to CobraMisfit, do the story-elves proceed to send each newly formed tale off to the person (Giftee) who provided the prompt of its inception. In secret and the dark of night, like a child sneaking to the cookie-jar or a teenager reading novels after bedtime by flashlight, the various and sundry "Sisyphusers" (Or, as I like to call them: "Sisyfants") read the gifts they have been given. Then, usually, the praises of every Sisyfant are extolled from the rooftops by their Giftees and joy spreads throughout the world a little more.

With all the stories shared and gifts given you'd think the SSSFFSS would be done, and you'd be WRONG! The story-elves are never done!

Now it's time for the Guessing Thread, in which everyone tries to figure out who gave what to everyone else based upon the title and a small excerpt alone. It is so much fun to read all the excerpts from all the different writers, and see all the different styles and voices come to life, and think "Hot Dayumn! I want to read this! And that!  AND THAT TOO!" But  no, you have to wait for the story to be correctly guessed to find out who authored it and ask them for a copy to read. It shouldn't take too long.

And that's how the Sisyphus runs, now for my thoughts on it:

Last year I participated in the 2015/16 SSSFFSS, and had a ball of a time, and a hard time too. But I came upwith something I thought was worthy and my Giftee didn't actually say out loud to me that he hated it, so that's all to the good. It was a wonderful bonding experience with the other writers, and gave me a great opportunity not only to share my work and get some form of feedback from people who actually cared, but also to read OTHER writers. Not famous well edited, thoroughly proofed stories put out in print and ebook by publishing houses in multi-million dollar deals, but raw, wriggling stories still warm from the brains of their creators.

In someways it was intimidating, but in more ways, it was INVIGORATING! There we were, fifty writers in various states of publication and disarray, sharing our thoughts, our stories, our feedback, and our cares with each other. HELPING each other get even better than we already were.

I made FRIENDS :O actual, real, human friends who can talk and write and reply and tell me when I heck up! I've only made more friends on AW since last year's Sisyphus, and they are the best friends I have ever had the pleasure, the JOY of interacting with.

This year I joined in again, with the 2016/17 SSSFFSS, and if it's possible, I had an ever better time than before! '17's Sisyphus just ended and as I write this, the Guessing has drawn to a close. I am unfortunate in that I have to wait until I can start reading all the other Sisyfants' stories, but that is only me. Already the reviews are flooding in for the content of this year's Sisyphus, and boy-oh-boy, do they make me wanna read 'em all! (Bobo, you A+mazing humanoid!)

I volunteered as a beta-reader and got to help other Sisyfants with their stories preparation prior to the gifts being sent out, it was a blast! Even though I had an episode of the bummed-down-sads right near the end of the writing portion, I pushed through and helped and was helped and it was all GREAT. (I keep saying that, but I really don't think words can truly capture the wonderfulness of it all!)

Right now, as I write this, CobraMisfit is receiving all the love and attention and kind words he deserves for his expert wrangling of the story-elves this year. Professionally done, my good sir!

And now, a great deal of ado about everything:

But specifically, I would like to publicly, personally acknowledge and thank everyone with whom I interacted over the course of the two Sisyphuses I have been blessed enough to take part in. There's no way I can make a list of you all, and if I did, I think it might detract from the sentiment behind it. Know this, though, dearest fellow Sisyfants, you have improved my life immeasurably, and I love you for it!

Saturday 4 March 2017

Of Shade and Soul: A Touch Trilogy Novella by A.G. Carpenter

(Reviewer's note: If you read this book before bed, you won't sleep until it's finished. You have been warned.)

FINALLY, at long last, after all these YEARS (months), a sequel to A.G. Carpenter's much beloved (by me) "Of Lips and Tongue"! And O-M-G, does it live up to its predecessor? Yes! Yes, it does. Is "Of Shade and Soul" a worthwhile and worthy continuation of this spectacular and riveting trilogy? Yup! And am I now desperate to read the finale because HOT DAYUMN, that ending? Uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it! :D

I should probably mention, if you, dear Reader, are considering the next step in your affair with A.G. Carpenter's wonderful stories, that you should take the time to read/REread/love "Of Lips and Tongue". It will help, it's not necessary, but it WILL make this one even better. If that's possible.

Book two in the Touch Trilogy picks up shortly after Book one left off, with all kinds of questions still ricocheting through our minds, and it adds a few more to the roster with some well-timed, well executed flashbacks. I particularly enjoyed reading how not only the voice of the story changed with each character P.O.V. shift, but also how the tense changed as well, to denote when what happened, well, happened.

Percy's subtle changes in behaviour and thought-process were especially enlightening to what's going on with him. If you know what to look for, that is. I can't hardly wait for Book three!

There is one issue I have found in the Touch Trilogy so far, that bothers me ever so slightly. See, I'm a villain at heart, and I like me some other villains to read about. The antagonists in these books are there less to be villains, and more to be something for the protagonists to overcome, outwit, overpower, and generally defeat. There is very little about them that makes me think, 'Oh, yeah, I can see where they're coming from...' and a lot that makes me think, 'Meh'. I think I am picking up what the author is putting down though, and I can understand why she might be doing this, as well as what she's building up to. Or, really, I can guess, hope, and dream. I don't actually know.

"Of Shade and Soul" by A.G. Carpenter is available now on Amazon and elsewhere, along with "Of Lips and Tongue". Both books are amazing, and well worth your time. Once you read the first, however, you won't be finished until A.G. Carpenter is.

 Links for A.G. Carpenter:


-Twitter: @Aggy_C

Tuesday 14 February 2017

For a Few Gold Pieces More by Richard C. White

[Review as also seen on Amazon .ca and .com]
(Full disclosure: I received an e-version of this book from the author in advance for promotional and review purposes.)

Richard C. White... Hmmm, well, let's start with the most important part of this review: The flaws in his story. It'll be a small list, so don't worry about being bogged down in negativity, but I think each of the following is worthy of note and mention, and would certainly effect MY choice of whether or not to buy this anthology.

Problem, the First: This is not a "novel". It's a collection of short, individual stories that are interconnected, but ultimately not a cohesive, continuous whole in spite of their overarching story-arcs. If you think of it like a chapter book where each short story is simply a rather long chapter in a larger tale being told, then you're doing it and yourself an injustice. It's not, they're not. This is NOT a novel, and that was a stumbling block for me.

I do not recommend bingeing the short stories, as that certainly takes some of their weight and worth away in the flood of words. Read them one at a time to properly appreciate each, and then once you're done, you can fully appreciate the entirety of the anthology.

Problem, the Second: Each short story leaves you wanting more by the end of it, but once it's done, that's all she (well, "he", technically) wrote. If you wanted more from the characters in a short story, too bad, most of them are not reoccurring, and the ones that are aren't my favourites. In a way, this makes what little we DO get of each story more valuable for its scarcity, but in another way: I. Want. Moar!

Problem, the Third (and final): I have no means of visualising the world in which this entire anthology is set! I don't know if the author even has a map of his world, or if he just didn't include it in the review copy for some reason or other, but I want a MAP! Seriously, the world of this anthology seems fascinating, and a map that did it justice, well, it'd be A+mazing!

And that's everything I could find wrong with "For a Few Gold Pieces More" by Richard C. White. Told ya the list would be short. Now for the GOOD things!

The tropes! Oh. My. Gawd! The tropes are strong with this one, and Mr. White does such a good job making each of them believable and refreshingly pleasant to read, with his own unique takes on each. The "Nameless Rogue" suits the main character and the stories perfectly. The "Magical but also Medieval (semi)-European World" is simply intriguing, something like the Roman Empire at its height, BUT with a whole world around it too, full of other cultures and peoples and interesting developments based upon the magic.

As for the magic itself, it's a smooth, simple take on D&D magic, with no glaring faults or annoying inconsistencies. It's also convenient that the Nameless Rogue happens to know jack-diddily about magic from the get-go, and that doesn't change throughout.

Now for the characters. Both those who appear more than once, and those who do not, all are captivating! I particularly enjoyed the fellow thieves in the earlier tales, and how the Nameless Rogue interacted with them. I would like to see some of the more mythical characters featured in this anthology, I shan't spoil which, be featured in future installments of this lovely (well, kinda horrible, but certainly interesting!) world.

I especially liked how each short story was a tribute to a myth or legend from our world, taken into Mr. White's and made his own. I also liked how the Nameless Rogue was competent and capable without being much of a Mary Sue. He knew what he was doing, and even when he was out of his depth, he wasn't a useless wastrel who needed instructions on how to save himself. He got shit DONE! And there were no unnecessary training montages like we've all seen a thousand times in these sorts of books. None.

Mr. White has snared a repeat-reader in me!

Richard C. White's links:

-Twitter: @Nightwolfwriter