Aubrey’s Beautiful Crown now available.

Erika’s latest children’s book is now available on Amazon!

From the author, Erika Gardner:

People have been telling me for years that I should write a children’s book, and I finally decided to give it a shot. My 3 children loved having stories read to them when they were small, and though many of the books they loved were great and fun to read, there were always some that left me shaking my head and hoping I wouldn’t have to re-read them very often. I am a big fan of children’s books that rhyme. I love reading books that are entertaining and can be read with a fun rhythm. Colorful and cute pictures are also important. I am writing books that I wouldn’t mind reading over, and over, and over…which hopefully will be the case. I decided to have these first 3 books each have titles with ABC in them, partially because then I could have a book for each of my amazing children and also because I liked the ABC concept. I got really lucky that my husband was able to find an absolutely incredible illustrator to create the pictures for my books. I am SO EXCITED to see the finished products. It’s like the artist saw right into my mind and drew exactly what I wanted. This is a really fun undertaking for me and I hope to continue beyond the initial 3 ABC books, with holiday books and then whatever pops into my crazy mind after that.

Aubrey's Beautiful Crown Alyssa's Blank Canvas Anthony's Blue Crayon


What Gods Incite, by Clara Coulson

A month after the explosive end of his mission to the Divide, Vincent Whelan is spinning his wheels. He’s struggling to rebuild his business, frustrated at his position as Tom Tildrum’s “minion,” and uneasy about the dangers the near future will bring. So when a local spots a zombie prowling around one of Kinsale’s biggest factories, Vince takes extra precautions before he goes hunting for a necromancer in the dregs of his beleaguered city. Unfortunately for Vince, a straightforward case quickly morphs into a balancing act, when a familiar face pops in to drop a dangerous new quest on his head: Abarta has stolen a powerful tool from Manannán mac Lir, and to get it back, Vince will have to venture into the Otherworld yet again. With his allies split on two fronts, and threats rising on both sides, Vince finds himself facing the most perilous trial of his entire life: the battle to preserve his own humanity.

It really wasn’t until book three that I’m starting to like Vince. It’s not that I disliked him or anything in the first two books, but he was the reluctant hero before – almost a curmudgeon before his time. In What Gods Incite, he starts to become the hero we all knew that he’d be. More shenanigans ensue when Vince’s old friend, Rian, appears at just the right time to bail our hero out, and lend his skills to the fight against perennial villain Abarta. But as usual when fae magic is involved, not everyone is who they claim to be, so Vince, Rian, Odette and Saoirse need to watch each other’s back as they split into teams to confront multiple threats. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, and What Gods Inciteis another five star read.

Therin-Knite

Clara Coulson was born and raised in backwoods Virginia, USA. Currently in her mid-twenties, Clara holds a degree in English and Finance from the College of William & Mary and recently retired from the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC to return to the homeland and pick up the quiet writing life. Clara spends most of her time (when she’s not writing) dreaming up new story ideas, studying Japanese, and slowly reading through the several-hundred-book backlog on her budding home library. If she’s not occupied with any of those things, then you can probably find her playing with her two cats or lurking in the shadows of various social media websites.

Amazon
Goodreads
http://www.claracoulson.com/
Twitter


See you at CoKoCon!

CoKoCon is a traditional science fiction/fantasy con in Phoenix, AZ which will be held over the Labor Day weekend in 2018. We’ll be at the Doubletree by Hilton Phoenix North at 10220 N Metro Parkway E, Phoenix, AZ 85051.

Regulars of the blog already know that I’ve been a fan of Harry Turtledove for several decades. I’m totally excited to be on an alternate history panel Saturday with my literary hero. There will be a limited amount of my novels and collections on hand – sold by Duncan’s Books and More. Copies of all my current novels (Champion Standing, Days Until Home, Score of Silence, Sixteen Sunsets & War of the Worlds: Retaliation) should be available, plus the discontinued story collection, Warmache and Other Stories. I’ll be signing books Saturday at 4pm, and Sunday at 1pm. I’ll be on the Alternate History panel with Harry Saturday at 12:30 (H. Paul Honsinger & Sue Martin as well), and a Space Opera panel at 6:30pm with author friend, David Van Dyke. (H. Paul Honsinger & T. L. Smith will be there too!) I’ll probably be heading back up north around 3pm on Sunday.


Relic, by Alan Dean Foster

Once Homo sapiens reigned supreme, spreading from star system to star system in an empire that encountered no alien life and thus knew no enemy . . . save itself. As had happened many times before, the basest, most primal human instincts rose up, only this time armed with the advanced scientific knowledge to create a genetically engineered smart virus that quickly wiped out humanity to the last man. That man is Ruslan, the sole known surviving human being in the universe. Rescued from the charnel house of his home planet by the Myssari—an intelligent alien race—Ruslan spends his days as something of a cross between a research subject and a zoo attraction. Though the Myssari are determined to resurrect the human race, using Ruslan’s genetic material, all he wants for himself and his species is oblivion. But then the Myssari make Ruslan an extraordinary offer: In exchange for his cooperation, they will do everything in their considerable power to find the lost home world of his species—an all-but-mythical place called Earth—and, perhaps, another living human. Thus begins an epic journey of adventure, danger, heartbreak, and hope, as Ruslan sets out in search of a place that may no longer exist—drawn by the slimmest yet most enduring hope.

At times predictable, and sometimes confounding, Alan Dean Foster is always a solid read. Alan is a known quantity with his writing, and Relic is just what you’d expect from him. Some authors, after decades of writing, will rest on their laurels, and churn out formulaic tomes to keep their existing audience coming back for more and more. Alan decides to write a story that while not exactly unique, does get the imagination going.

A dislikable protagonist is nothing new, and Ruslan certainly frustrates the reader with his antics, but there is a sad quality to the character that I can’t help but like. I can imagine what would be going through the mind of the last human ever, or how he would react to an extraterrestrial civilization that is so alien than we are.

That’s another interesting aspect of Relic: Anthropomorphism, or specifically a distinct lack of it. So many popular alien civilization stories are just bipeds with extra stuff added or taken away. It was a treat to read about a society not based on bipedalism, and more so how a biped would interact in an environment not designed for them.

I enjoyed Relic, as I knew I would. I continue to see Alan at cons, and he’s always an interesting visit. Relic is a solid four stars, and I’d love to read another book in the series, especially after the ending.

Bestselling science fiction writer Alan Dean Foster was born in New York City in 1946, but raised mainly in California. He received a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA in 1968, and a M.F.A. in 1969. Foster lives in Arizona with his wife, but he enjoys traveling because it gives him opportunities to meet new people and explore new places and cultures. This interest is carried over to his writing, but with a twist: the new places encountered in his books are likely to be on another planet, and the people may belong to an alien race.

Amazon
Goodreads
http://www.alandeanfoster.com/


New Children’s Book series!

From Erika:
People have been telling me for years that I should write a children’s book, and I finally decided to give it a shot. My 3 children loved having stories read to them when they were small, and though many of the books they loved were great and fun to read, there were always some that left me shaking my head and hoping I wouldn’t have to re-read them very often. I am a big fan of children’s books that rhyme. I love reading books that are entertaining and can be read with a fun rhythm. Colorful and cute pictures are also important. I am writing books that I wouldn’t mind reading over, and over, and over…which hopefully will be the case. I decided to have these first 3 books each have titles with ABC in them, partially because then I could have a book for each of my amazing children and also because I liked the ABC concept. I got really lucky that my husband was able to find an absolutely incredible illustrator to create the pictures for my books. I am SO EXCITED to see the finished products. It’s like the artist saw right into my mind and drew exactly what I wanted. This is a really fun undertaking for me and I hope to continue beyond the initial 3 ABC books, with holiday books and then whatever pops into my crazy mind after that. Thank you for taking the time to consider backing my project and I can’t wait to share these with the world!
Continue reading


What Man Defies, by Clara Coulson

Three weeks after his disastrous showdown with Abarta, Vincent Whelan is well on his way to recovering from the fight and putting the whole nightmare behind him. But when a standard stretch recovery job comes to an end with an angry ghost slinging heavy objects, Vince discovers a thread he left hanging has frayed beyond repair. For almost two months, random people in Kinsale have been mysteriously vanishing. Now their shades, damaged by terrible deaths, have begun to plague the city. Vince, spurred by the growing list of victims, goes on the hunt for the person or creature responsible for the kidnappings. Only to get more than he bargained for when one of his own friends gets snatched before his very eyes. In a race against time, Vince puts together a ragtag team to venture into the Otherworld and rescue the remaining victims before they all succumb to a horrible fate. But the path to victory is fraught with peril, and the mastermind at the end of the road may just be unbeatable. A vault protecting a powerful relic. Merciless enemies at every turn. And countless lives at risk. All Vince wanted was a little peace and quiet. Now he’s got the fate of the world resting in his hands. Again.

I always know that I’m in for a treat when I get a new Clara Coulson book. Urban Fantasy protagonists just have the worst luck, and Vince is no different. Unlike other Urban Fantasy books, Coulson actually explains why Vince seems to be a magnet for strange happenings. This allows for more world-building and history without being a giant information dump.

As with the first book, the characters are believable – they behave in ways that I’d expect the denizens of this post-apocalyptic world to behave. The villainous faction and their leader seem plausible rather than being evil for the sake of being evil. Events and interactions hint that there are bigger machinations afoot, and Vince and the rest of the humans may not have much time left.

I’m definitely in for the next book in the series, and What Man Defies is another solid read from Coulson. Five stars!

Therin-Knite

Clara Coulson was born and raised in backwoods Virginia, USA. Currently in her mid-twenties, Clara holds a degree in English and Finance from the College of William & Mary and recently retired from the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC to return to the homeland and pick up the quiet writing life. Clara spends most of her time (when she’s not writing) dreaming up new story ideas, studying Japanese, and slowly reading through the several-hundred-book backlog on her budding home library. If she’s not occupied with any of those things, then you can probably find her playing with her two cats or lurking in the shadows of various social media websites.

Amazon
Goodreads
http://www.claracoulson.com/
Twitter


Never Enough Time, by RTW Lipkin

What if your entire life passed by in just seven days? 16-year-old Delaney Archer’s mother is always complaining that there’s never enough time to get anything done. Delaney, on the other hand, always waits until the last moment to do everything. Nevertheless, she’s the top student in her class. She’s even about to graduate as valedictorian . . .Until one morning, when she wakes up in a strange place. Suddenly, she finds herself in graduate school. Seven years of her life have disappeared without a trace since she went to bed last night . . . but how? It takes a while for Delaney to get used to things. But it’s not all bad, right? After all, she can drink alcohol now, and she’s almost finished school . . . Then she wakes up the next day . . . and another seven years have passed. Every day is another brand-new adventure for Delaney as she struggles to adjust. But no matter what she tries, she just can’t seem to break the cycle. Now she just has to figure out what’s happening . . . before time runs out . . .

Time travel- check. Confused protagonist- check. Available on NetGalley- check. I finished reading this almost two months ago, and I can’t seem to remember the ending. I remember that as a supposedly smart protagonist, Delaney is pretty dumb, willing to accept ludicrous scenarios to explain her time jumping. Every singe character is annoying, with Sara being the worst of them all. The selfishness and hedonism is rife throughout. Really, Sara and the boyfriend are wretches of humanity, and for someone so smart, Delaney should’ve cut them loose long ago – especially since she didn’t even know them! Many reviews complain about the swears, but apparently, those reviewers have never encountered a teen in the wild- which Delaney was supposed to be, albeit in an adult body.

Overall, the book wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t very good either. There were a lot of issues, with flashes of brilliance. The fact that I can’t remember the ending so soon after finishing the book makes me think that it wasn’t that great. Never Enough Time truly is a middle of the road book. I’d award it just to the positive side of middle of the road with 3.5 stars. I saw that the author wrote another sci-fi novel, Prediction, so I think I’ll check that out at a later date.

R. T. W. Lipkin lives in New York with her husband and three cats. Her genre-defying novels occur at the intersection of science fiction and fantasy, with mystery, romance, and adventure threaded throughout.

Amazon
Goodreads
http://rtwlipkin.com/