Review: Healer of Surflex by Lady Laindora

Healer of Surflex by [Laindora, Lady, Raymond, Sue]While Healer of Surflex isn’t my usual read, the pleasurable voice of Kelly Montijo Fink made the audio a fun time. Healer of Surflex is hard fantasy, with a story rooted in a world of magic and warring factions of good and evil. Most of the populace isn’t aware of the battle for their very souls, but it’s happening.
Having not read a lot of fantasy, I have read some, and what makes Lady Laindora’s book unique is that I’ve never seen a fantasy book that incorporates Christian beliefs into a fantasy realm. Doing so makes this more like an Arthurian legend, minus Arthur.
The book follows Kerlia as she’s selected, birthed, and trained by an angel and the warriors for good to be a healer in the upcoming battle with this book’s version of Satan, Kernel. Kernel has control over a large portion of the Kingdom of Surflex, and the book is filled with people being possessed or warped and twisted by their beliefs and support of Kernel. Honestly, in the first chunk of the book, the way that some of these people get twisted and filled with such dark evil makes it look like a contagion of belief, and solidifies how Kernel must have taken hold.
Lady Laindora’s strengths are in her ability to show and not tell. The protagonist, Kerlia, is mute and a lot of the book is explaining how she interprets the world and how she communicates without dialogue (and sometimes with, when she is part of the fairy realm). There are character descriptions that become part of the story’s narrative, and locations that are described the same way. She does a great job of describing things without you realizing that she’s describing them.
Healer of Surflex, and a lot of it’s aspects, remind me much of The Sword of Truth series, by Terry Brooks. The fairies and pixies that train her even reminding me of Zed the old wizard. They are funny but with purpose. At the same time, the style of the fight against evil gave me a feeling of Eragon with less dragons. Finally, there’s angels, God as we know him, and others aspects of this book that have a strong Christianity bend.
This is epic/battle fantasy with a theme, and it is done very well.
5 out of 5 stars.
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First Draft of Satan’s Salesman is Complete!

All I can say about it is: “It’s about damned time.”

I originally had the idea almost two years ago as a kind of joke with author Kathryn Daugherty, who’s sales pitch for her books is “A penny from Heaven.” When we sat in booths near each other and I would see people ignore her and keep walking, I’d say “It’s better than a Dollar from the Devil,” and rarely guilt anyone into doing anything.

While in another really boring sales meeting at my former employer, I had the idea that every sales industry is kind of the same, and they probably all have to deal with the same issues, from boring meetings to cold call rejections. That thought led to the humorous idea of a man who’s part of the Soul-Trading industry and Satan’s Salesman was finally conceived.

Well, the first draft is done, and I couldn’t be happier.

Here’s the synopsis. If you want to be a beta reader, comment and I’ll email you an unedited first draft to let me know what you think.

 

Expect one HELL of a Deal!

Shane’s a damned good salesman, but when a promotion that he spent years earning gets taken away only hours after getting it, he realizes that sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do.

But that’s not good enough for Shane.

Confronting the person that he believes is responsible for his situation, Shane learns that there’s another, quieter, sales organization that he’s competing against:

Perdition Investments.

At Perdition Investments the products are whatever you want the most, but the cost is your Soul.

Shane has a chance to use his excellent skills in an entirely new way, but at what cost? Can you lose your soul by trading people for theirs? What’s the price for success?

Shane’s about to learn that, in these contracts, the Devil is in the Details…

Review: The Tournament of Supervillainy by C.T. Phipps

All the way back to when the Jetsons met the Flintstones, and every dang Scooby Doo special, I’ve always loved a good Crossover. Most recently, the CW Superhero shows reminded me how much I love Crossovers. Crossovers are great because they mean that no longer are there no consequences in a story. The story is unequivocally effected by having the rules of each story’s world suddenly become part of their own. I find it exciting and fun to know that the sandbox the creators are playing in is so much bigger. A beach more than a sandbox.
This love of Crossovers was reignited with a fury when I heard that the new Supervillainy book by C.T. Phipps was going to include a huge Crossover of all of his written worlds.
Unlike all of those other Crossover stories, though. It doesn’t open with an even breakdown from every one of those separate worlds. We get a Phipps Crossover in the best way that we could: From Gary’s point of view.
The story’s plot is pretty straight forward. There’s an orb that will allow anyone who possesses it one wish with absolutely no limits. Since all realities could be effected by a wishing device with no rules, Death’s first champion, Entropicus put together a Tournament for champions from each reality to duel for the right to win the magical orb. Entropicus’s goal is to win the orb for himself so that he can end all things. Death doesn’t like that and sends her newest champion, Gary, to try and win the tournament.
Things go crazy from there as Gary starts to meet all of the other characters from other works of C.T. Phipps, including Jane Doe, Agent G, and Cassius Mass. While I would have liked to see John Booth from the Cthulhu Armageddon series, John has already shown a propensity for being woven into the very fabric of the multiverse, and I understand leaving him out to preserve the integrity of his potential universe hopping.
But dang, it’d be neat for Gary to learn Cthulhu was real…
I digress. The plot surrounding Gary and his crew of misfits isn’t derailed by the Crossover event so much as enhanced by it. Gary’s wife Mandy is acting really off and it’s got Gary a little concerned, but he’s too busy to deal with it as his other wife Cindy and his new/old girlfriend, Gabriel, also known as Ultragoddess, are also in the tournament and everything seems to be going to hell. People are getting killed, their new friends want to steal the orb, and everyone is terrified about what will happen should Entropocis get the orb.
All of this is happening while Gary debates whether or not he has the right to bring people back from the dead who have already died. In the world of comic books, returning from death is a common occurrence, but just because someone can do it, doesn’t mean they should. It’s a question that has both philosophical and real world consequences depending on how he, the chosen champion of Death, chooses to answer.
And of course, the best part of any Crossover, the interactions between characters from other worlds were spot on. Agent G’s realization that his cyberpunk world isn’t the greatest while Jane Doe’s deer puns contagiously cross universes. Then there was all of the drama around Cassius Mass and … wait … how does he know Mandy?
This story had everything in it that first drew me to the Rules of Supervillainy series. From the pop-culture references to the kickass action scenes to the emotional moments that make you empathize with someone who continually fails at being a supervillain, but is a damned awesome anti-hero. Add in all of my favorite characters from other Phipps books and you have the perfect story. The perfect Crossover.
This was a 5 out of 5 book. Definitely give it a read.

The Friday 13 with David Hambling

A great interview with writer David Hambling!

Jesse Teller

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David Hambling is an author and science/technology journalist based in South London. He writes for New Scientist magazine, The Economist, WIRED, Popular Mechanics, The Guardian newspaper and others. 2018 will see the release of “Master of Chaos”, fourth in the Harry Stubbs series of Mythos adventures, as well as the nonfiction “We: Robot – The robots that are changing the world” …both of them are pretty scary.

InThe Elder Ice, Harry, a former heavyweight boxer and sometime debt collector now working for a legal firm, is on the trail of a valuable legacy left by Ernest Shackleton (a real-life polar explorer from Norwood). Shackleton died in 1922 leaving huge debts, and also hints of a valuable find; Harry is looking for the reality behind those hints.

The Elder Ice is a novella, and a taster for the rest of the series. It is succeeded by Broken Meats, Alien…

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Review: I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas

I Am ProvidenceI Am Providence by Nick Mamatas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I went into this book pretty excited. The premise sounded like a lot of fun, and I liked Mamatas’ The Damned Highway. Unfortunately, this was a 3 star book for various reasons that only managed to get its fourth star from me because I did find myself regularly compelled to continue turning the page just for the murder mystery plot.
Unlike other reviewers, I mostly enjoyed the protagonist, Colleen Danzig. The parts that bothered me revolved around the victim’s point of view. Originally, those chapters were very entertaining and promised a very Lovecraftian answers. I felt that the story never delivered on those answers.
Once again, the murder mystery plot was very good, and felt like an homage to Poirot or Sherlock.
What Mamatas did, and what I think makes me uncomfortable enough to lose enjoyment during this novel, was write a novel aimed at the very specific audience of the Lovecraft crowd, and then use that sniper focus to shine a jaded mirror on that very same crowd, all while stating very plainly in that reflection that they are all whiney and opinionated enough that if they complained there would be no validity to their man-baby cries. My question is why someone would pick a target audience to write to and then insult it.
The answer, that I suspect, was that Mamatas was going for realism, but from the point of view of a fan who was tired of his fandom’s more negative people. If you’re a fan of Ghostbusters, Star Wars, or just about any series that’s been rebooted or sequeled in the last few years, than you’ve probably experienced similar feelings. You want to enjoy the medium, but when you go online, have a conversation with someone, go onto a Facebook group, or actually go to a CON than you’ll run into so many people that are adamantly argumentative about things you thought were just fun.
You can see this also in Mamatas’ mention of the Indie Author crowd. He brings up how getting found doesn’t mean anything other than a few more bucks and maybe a movie deal that won’t ever happen. How everyone with a pen makes an anthology or a publishing house. He complains from the perspective of someone who’s tired of hearing everyone else complain.
And he gets kind of mean about it.
I get it, there are a ton of stereotypes regarding the fans of Lovecraft, and honestly, I’ve never attended more than one convention-styled event, in a guy’s basement, filled with some of the stereotypes described in his book. The problem was that this book comes across as an angry “letter to the editor” about the fandom, his dislike of the conventions, and the people that he’s been stuck at his author booths talking to. As if he wrote this on a grumpier day in his career.
The last page of the book, the Acknowledgements, even states “First I must thank Jeremy Lassen, whose desire for one more Mythos novel from me inspired this book. He will never ask again, clearly.” And then he ends it with “As it turns out, writing a novel is a lonely business.”
Wow, that’s just bleak as Hell.
But the plot for the murder mystery was great. There’s a great story in this book and for that alone I think this novel deserved praise. Mamatas obviously wanted to put forth a good story.
It’s just unfortunate that his good story got mired in his hate letter to his fans.

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