Blog Tour for The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield

I am really excited to be part of the blog tour for The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield. The first line of Setchfield’s book just pulls you in and keeps you there until the last page. The action starts and just keeps going. I will have a complete review up next week but lets just say I am really excited for everyone to read The War in the Dark.

Synopsis:

Europe. 1963. And the true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.

When the assassination of a traitor trading with the enemy goes terribly wrong, British Intelligence agent Christopher Winter must flee London. In a tense alliance with a lethal, mysterious woman named Karina Lazarova, he’s caught in a quest for hidden knowledge from centuries before, an occult secret written in a language of fire. A secret that will give supremacy to the nation that possesses it.

Racing against the Russians, the chase takes them from the demon-haunted Hungarian border to treasure-laden tunnels beneath Berlin, from an impossible house in Vienna to a bomb-blasted ruin in Bavaria where something unholy waits, born of the power of white fire and black glass . . .

It’s a world of treachery, blood and magic. A world at war in the dark.

“James Bond meets Indiana Jones… a rip-roaring adventure. This is the book you’ll be reading on the beach even when it rains or the sun goes down” Mark Millar

“A rattling good read… it’s thrilling” Russell T Davies

“An assured, memorable debut.” Tim Lebbon

“Kept me riveted.” Genevieve Cogman

Excerpt:

He snatched his hand back.

The rose had pricked him, drawn blood. He sucked at his smarting thumb, and squatting on his haunches, examined the handle. There was a spiked metal thorn, located just below the bloom. A malicious little touch. This time he twisted the handle more cautiously, lifting his fingers away from the hidden barb. He felt the bolt shift, the hinges loosen. The door opened.

Another corridor confronted him. This one was darker, more tapering, its doors firmly shut. Winter couldn’t quite see what lay at the end of it.

He tried to recall the shape of the building. He had studied it through the binoculars but the structure he had seen from the hill refused to map onto the mansion’s interior. A corridor of this length didn’t belong here. The

dimensions simply didn’t fit.

There was an unusual taste in his mouth. He took a moment to identify it. It was almost like diesel, just at the back of his throat. Odd.

Winter began to explore the passageway. He tested a couple of the doors and found that they were locked. He pressed an ear against one of them. He couldn’t hear anything. Not even the sounds of the party below. The dark length of the corridor was completely hushed. This was clearly a private wing of Harzner’s residence, off limits to the pleasure-seekers.

He continued walking, his vision struggling in the gloom. Something stung his right eye, causing him to blink. It was a drop of his own sweat, beading from his forehead. Another followed it, hitting his cheek. His shirt-cuffs, too, felt clammy.

The taste in his mouth was stronger now. A rising sense of nausea accompanied it. He thought of that metal thorn, the prick of pain in his thumb. Could it have been laced with a toxin? Christ, he was an amateur.

Yet another door waited at the end of the corridor. Winter warily rotated the handle. This door, too, swung open.

He was back where he had begun.

Winter stood on the landing, at the top of the great stairs, by the stuffed remains of the fox, the white leopard and the wolfhound. And there were the mounted insects on the walls, their glass cases bright as mirrors as the light

from the bone chandelier hit them.

He could hear the party now.

His internal compass spun. This made no sense. It was impossible. For a moment reality lurched. Winter focused his thoughts. This was an illusion, he told himself. Momentarily inexplicable but just an illusion. It was something an opponent had designed to confuse and disorientate. Standard psychological combat procedure. Clever, but you could conquer it. You just needed to crack how it was done.

So how was Harzner doing this? Winter had a sudden vision of Krabbehaus as an immense Chinese puzzle box, its walls sliding and realigning in ever-shifting combinations. Hidden engines, concealed mechanics.

He balled his fists and scrubbed the sweat from his eyes. And then he entered the corridor he had originally chosen, the one that led to the door with the carved rose, the one with that damn silver thorn.

It seemed to be exactly the same passageway as before. Did it seem darker this time? A little narrower? Possibly. But then his vision was beginning to telescope, fuzzing at the edges. Winter wasn’t sure if he could trust his eyes.

He stepped cautiously along the corridor, past the open doors and the shadowed couples, his senses alert for any trace of architectural subterfuge. He heard nothing, saw nothing. There was no hint of secret clockwork turning in the walls.

Again there was a strange taste in his mouth. The diesel flavour was gone. In its place was something brittle and metallic on his tongue. He found himself wondering if this was how mercury poisoning tasted.

A door flew open. The same door as before. And the same woman strode out, as defiantly naked as the first time Winter had seen her. But now there was something very different about her. Something terribly wrong.

There was the skull of a beast where her head should have been.

If you want to see more about The War in the Dark check out the next blog tour stop. You can follow Nick on twitter @NickSetchfield.

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The Meg and The Trench by Steve Alten

The ocean isn’t a place that I frequent. It isn’t that I don’t like water or that I can’t swim. I like watching storms come into the beach. The waves getting higher and higher..the grey clouds rolling towards the shore. The sound of the thunder and waves crashing against the shore is beautiful and relaxing. However, I am not a fan of getting on a boat whether it is big or small. You can’t see what is beneath you. There are so many things that are underneath the water that could eat you. I don’t think that my healthy fear of getting eaten in the water is going to be cured by reading The Meg and The Trench.

Summary: A Megladon is enticed out of the Mariana Trench and all the chaos happens. It includes chomping on a lot of people.

What I like: The pacing of the story was fast and I really appreciated that. Alten’s writing reminds me of Crichton’s. There is science mixed in with fiction that could make you scratch your head and wonder whether there could be something to it. The male characters are well written and full fleshed out. The stories were fun and there was a lot of people chomping happening, which is always my favorite part of shark books. I really enjoyed the parts of the books that were written in the POV of the Meg and Angel from The Trench. There is an addition to the story that I really appreciated and it made my heart happy but you need to read it to find out what it is.

What I didn’t like: So here is my only problem with the Alten’s writing…the way he portrays a lot of his women. I believe that he is trying to write a strong woman character but it doesn’t work out well.

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts: Besides the issue I had with the way female characters are written I loved the chomping. I loved many of the aspects of The Meg and The Trench. They are awesome creature feature palette cleansers.

An Ode to the Public Library

This morning I was looking through my Twitter feed when I came across a very disturbing article. Without giving it too much credit, the article basically championed the nonsensical idea that libraries should be replaced by Amazon bookstores. Here is the full link for the article:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2018/07/21/amazon-should-replace-local-libraries-to-save-taxpayers-money/#5fb373bf60a8
I don’t want to give it a pretty graphic or anything. To say that I am disappointed is an understatement; I am actually pretty pissed off. When was the last time the author stepped foot in a public library? I am guessing not recently. I was just there on Friday. My library is a bustling hub of books, computers, and kids activities. But, instead of writing a scathing blog post berating this man’s idiotic idea, I just want to talk about all the wonderful aspects of libraries that the article’s author has clearly never experienced.

Libraries are so much more than a place to get books. Here is a small offering of what my local library has going on: (I don’t see this on a Starbucks event calendar)

  • Free Breakfast (which is offered everyday) not every child where I live gets breakfast.
  • Job Help (job searching and resume help)
  • Knit and Crochet club
  • Computer application classes
  • Reading help (I will explain more why)
  • Math Mondays
  • Spanish Class
  • English Class
  • Toddler Storytime
  • Baby Storytime
  • Playtime
  • Jewelry Making classes and clubs
  • Block Parties

These are only the events currently on the event calendar.  This doesn’t mention the tax preparers and estate planners, or the voter registration drives that the library hosts. My library also allows patrons to checkout out DVDs, audiobooks, ebooks, and digital movies ALL FOR FREE. No, I am not naive: tax dollars pay for the services of libraries–but when looking at my monthly tax bill COMPARED to the amount I would have spent on Amazon, the tax cost is much cheaper and I get much more. Streaming services such as: Amazon prime, Netflix ,and Hulu all cost per month. Then, add the fee for internet service. Where is the cost savings for the taxpayer? This sounds like a revenue opportunity for Amazon more than a service to the literary community.

I hope the author’s children are lucky enough to have a well-stocked school library–many schools in the city I live in don’t. I have seen lines of children holding hands walking back to school from the public library with books tucked under their arms. The youngest child who lives in the same habitat that I do doesn’t have a school library. We visit our local library to check out books in order to keep him reading and to help finish reading assignments.  This is an educational imperative.

Reading help is one of the most important things that libraries in my city and county are doing. In my city 1 in 10 adults can’t read above a grade 5 reading level.  I want to let that one soak in- A. Grade. 5. Reading. Level. This means that 10% of adults can’t read at a level where they can understand a contract. Luckily our libraries partner with literary connect to help setup programs for adults to learn how to read–lets see Amazon and Starbucks do that. I live in the 6th poorest metropolitan areas in the country…83% of pre-K children walk into Kindergarten already at risk. I would much rather give my money to library to help with community projects then give my money to large corporations where none of it is going to stay in the community.

So, to the author I would like to say shame on you…It’s crazy…I literally don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone try to get rid of libraries by arguing for capitalism. What the fuck dude? I think the author needs to do a lot more research before putting an article out there that dismisses libraries. It’s not just piece of bad journalism, it’s a threat to the entire literary community.

 

 

The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri

The youngest child, who occupies the same habitat that I do, no longer believes in magic. This makes me unbelievably sad. He used to love to talk about dragons and fairies. Now he doesn’t believe in these things. It seems tragic that we lose that love of magic as we grow older. It seems that magic and childhood go hand in hand. What happens when adults go messing with forces that are not in their control. There aren’t many things outside of our control as adults but what if…..The Book of Hidden Things asks that exact question.

Summary: 4 childhood friends are suppose to meet yearly for dinner due to a childhood pact. However, one of them doesn’t show. The other three must brave childhood traumas in order to find their missing friend.

What I liked: I really enjoyed the story. It was multilayered and sophisticated. The characters are well fleshed out and three dimensional. I really enjoyed the pacing of the book. It really drew me into the story and didn’t let go. It was mysterious and magical as it walked you through the stories and childhood memories. I find it takes a talented author to be able to weave stories together like this and it was flawless.

What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about The Book of Hidden Things.

Star Rating: 5

My thoughts: I really enjoyed the story. I do have a deep appreciation for stories which include mystery and magic. Especially if it is all wrapped up in a well written and beautfiul package. Have I mentioned that the cover is amazing as well.

As always a HUGE thanks for providing me a review copy of the book for my honest review.

The Shatter Point By Jon O’Bergh

I love haunted houses at Halloween. They have always been one of my favorite things about Halloween. Going through a dark maze with different scenes or a pop-up skeleton. Every once in awhile something comes across my email about extreme haunts. I’ve always been intrigued but it isn’t something that I really wanted to do. The Shatter Point by Jon O’Bergh brings a little of the haunt to you….

Summary: The story follows the lives of three different characters and what happens when they reach their breaking point.

What I liked: I liked the premise of the story. I enjoyed some of the backstories of the characters. I enjoyed O’Bergh’s writing style.

What I didn’t like: I feel there were elements of the supernatural that needed to be explored. The pacing was very slow throughout the novella. With the length of the novel I would have expected the pacing to pick up towards the middle but alas this didn’t happen. The ending felt a bit rushed. I didn’t feel like all the story lines were complete. There was talk of certain things that had happened but they were not completely explored which left me feeling a bit hollow.

Star Rating: 3

My Thoughts: I really wanted to like the story but due to the pacing and the build up I found that my mind was wandering. I appreciate that O’Bergh trying to weave all these stories together but it didn’t quite work. There were a couple of story lines that I wasn’t sure of why they were left in as they really had no bearing on the outcome of the story. As this story was over 100 pages we really need to make the pages count towards the climax of the story.

The Switch House by Tim Meyer

You ever have one of those days where things aren’t necessarily going your way. I had a few days like that in a row. But when you come across a story that sucks you in and doesn’t let go, all that seems to fall away. If the story is done right it is something that grabs you by the brain and just won’t let go. The Switch House by Tim Myer was one of those reads.

Summary: A couple lose a child and then go on a reality TV show to switch houses. However; when they switch back to their own home things aren’t necessarily the same.

What I liked: I liked the entire story. I thought it was going to be straight forward when I first started reading it and HOLY BEEGUS!!! It zigged when I thought it was going to zag. And then when I thought the twists where done it zigged again. I love when a story keeps me guessing and let me tell you this story did. I enjoyed the pacing of the story and Meyer’s writing was so good. The last few pages I was holding my breath.

What I didn’t like: Honestly, there was nothing I didn’t like about the story, pacing or the characters that Meyer dreamed up.

Star Rating: 5 stars and more!!!

My Thoughts: My brain is still wrapped around the story. I have all the thoughts about this story. It is going to be with me for a while. For me the story wasn’t as much about horror as it was about being a parent. I know I might be looking too deeply into the story but I in the words I can see the frustrations of being a parent. Again I may be looking to deeply but sometimes there can be more behind words then just words. Tim Meyer’s The Switch House knocked my proverbial socks off.

Guest Post by the Author of Isle of Gold: Seven Jane

I’ve always wondered where writers get their inspiration. As a development editor I love helping a story unfold, but I personally can’t sit down and do my own world building. Recently I talked to my friend, author Seven Jane (The Isle of Gold, Black Spot Books, October 2018) about finding inspiration for historical fantasy, and the cross-over–for better or worse–with Hollywood.

Beautiful young woman with blond hair standing in profile. She holds the collar of her leather jacket with her hand and covers her face. The photo is black and white.

 

I’ve always been a fan of pirate stories and ocean folklore, and I wanted THE ISLE OF GOLD to both fit in with classic tales, like Treasure Island, and stand apart from them—and to not get lost in the sensationalism of Hollywood pirate dramas that retell mythology on their own terms. In writing a historical fantasy of the pirate era the main thing I wanted the story to do was avoid tropes of peg legs, talking parrots, and buried treasure while making use of real mythology and actual ocean phenomenon while abiding by rigorously researched historical truths on the people who sailed, the ships they sailed on, and the lives they lived at sea. In addition to these, this story served as an opportunity to touch on some of today’s most pressing societal issues of diversity and inclusion, from women’s rights, to racism, to romance and love outside of the heternormative.

In terms of the natural world, two uncommon real phenomena that were mentioned in the story were frost flowers and the green flash of light on the ocean (no, Hollywood didn’t make that up for Pirates of the Caribbean!). Frost flowers are delicate ice structures that “bloom” on the surface of the polar oceans in the dead of winter. Likewise, green flashes are most often seen at sunset, last only a second or two, and are essentially a result of light refraction and visual trickery as the sun suddenly and briefly changes colors. Here’s a cool article on the green flashes, which, because they are so unusual, have provided much fodder for paranormal speculation by sailors over the years!

Legends of the mystical island Bracile and the red-sailed ghost ship Caleuche are just as steeped in ocean folklore as the cursed goddess turned sea monster Charybdis and sirens…especially the not so beautiful kind. I wanted to bring in one iconic pirate name, and while I drew from several real pirates in building Winters and Merrin’s characters, Davy Jones came directly from legend—(both as a real man and an idiom for the bottom of this sea). Jökulsárlón, and its neighboring Diamond Beach in Iceland became the perfect setting for a real-world embodiment of Bracile.

The ships, their rigging, and their weaponry was all brought from historical research on 17th century sailing culture. As I began to research these in earnest, a few interesting facts rose to the top, particularly in the lack of diversity on these vessels. While we tend to think of pirates as ragtag crews of every nation and color, it wasn’t necessarily true. In fact, even white men pirates still practiced the normal racism and biases of the time, often trading and profiting from the slave trade themselves. It was rare to see a person of color in a position of power onboard a pirate vessel, much less one who was beloved and respected. For this role, Jomo was introduced. Likewise, with the exception of a very few and very famous female pirates (Anne Bonney, Mary Read, etc.) women were not allowed to sail. In fact, in the pirate code written by Bartholomew Roberts, women were not only forbidden to sail, but to bring one aboard was punishable by death. This alone gave Merrin an incentive to keep her identity and sex a secret from the men on the ship. Lastly, a profession as a whore was just as taboo as sexual empowerment by women of the time (or empowerment of any kind, really) and this norm was challenged by Claudette, Mrs. Emery, and even Evangeline herself. There are subtle hints throughout the story to a more romantic than platonic love between Merrin and Claudette, too, proving the currents of love run according to their own desire, regardless of race or gender—and this also affected the budding romance between Merrin and Tom Birch, was remained understated as falling in love was never Merrin’s goal when she set out to sea.

Writing The Isle of Gold was as fantastic an adventure as the story itself. Part history, part mythology, and part imagination, this story drew as much from real sea phenomenon as it did from some of the oldest sea legends on record, told by a strong protagonist who acts as a lens of crystallization for deeper diversity issues that linger just below the surface of a fantastical pirate adventure.