•December 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment
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Review of Shadowman by Aaron Dennis

•December 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Shadowman

Title: Shadowman

Author: Aaron Dennis

Publisher: Damnation Books

Rating: 4 of 5

Adja is a man of voodoo, one who walks with the spirits, both in this world and an astral world, but he didn’t start off that way. After witnessing the murder of a Creole man he is given the voodoo power of the bear, but with the power comes responsibility. First he must confront snake which is the first in several deadly encounters Adja must face.

Shadowman is written in first person from Adja’s point of view. It’s a novella that is broken into four chapters. Each chapter builds from the last one, but each chapter is like a story unto itself – a situation begins and is resolved by the chapter’s conclusion. Honestly, I didn’t take to Shadowman at first. It seemed to lack a voice, but as Mr. Dennis tells the story Adja get’s his voice and I got more of a feel for who Adja is. It’s the story of a man learning to use his power, and use it responsibly. The power is based on voodoo, but to me it had more of a Native American spirituality feel to it. That may be simply because I’m not familiar with voodoo, but regardless, it worked.

Mr. Dennis has done a good job of weaving a world of magic that resides underneath our own, where the spirits dwell and interact with mortals. They are nature spirits who associate themselves with plants and animals, in a voodoo-like pantheon. Towards the end of the novella it’s mentioned that the Creole think of the spirits in terms of voodoo, but it could be applied to all nature based religions.

The adventure starts from the beginning of the novel and doesn’t finish till the end. As I stated earlier in this review, each chapter is contained, building from the last, but with it’s own unique storyline where there is a problem that must be faced, and a conclusion to that problem.

If you’re looking something to read that’s novella length with a bit of contemporary magic and adventure then this is a story for you.

The Inexplicables

•November 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The Inexplicables returns the Clockwork Century series to Seattle, where zombies roam and the blight can steal a man’s life in a breath. On this visit to Seattle the reader sees the city from the viewpoint of a not so noble young man. He’s an eighteen year old who’s hooked on the sap and doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty to get his fix. The problem is that guilt is eating him up, and that guilt has taken on the form of a friend. A while back he told this friend about an opening in the wall, a way to reach the heart of Seattle, a breach into the world of blight, and the undead. The friend hasn’t been seen since. That guilt, and having nowhere else to go, and nobody to give him the sap, leads him through the wall, and into a grand adventure that changes him from a shady character into…well, a shady character that will stick to his friends through thick and thin.

I’ve got to admit that at first I didn’t care much for Rector. He’s not the hero type, as a matter of fact, he’s not the sort of person that stories are written about, but as the tale goes on he grows from a self-serving kid into a half-way responsible adult. Oh, he never becomes valiant – that would be pushing the limits of this character’s believability, but he does become a hero in his own way. He’s a scoundrel from start to finish, but he by the time the story ends he’s a scoundrel who will stick by his friends.

The Inexplicables also brings back a good many characters that those familiar with the Clockwork Century will recognize. Some play small roles, and some are right there with Rector as his adventures take him through the devastated city.

As you would expect, there’s a good bit of the steampunk tech that I look forward to in all of the Clockwork Century novels. There’s also another bit of legend that is woven into the story, but I don’t want to say too much about that as it will give away a spoiler.

This is a must have for all of those who’ve read Cherie Priest‘s other Clockwork Century novels. For anyone looking for a bit of steampunk, zombies, and explosive adventure then this is a story that I would strongly suggest.

Clockwork Dwarf Clockwork Dwarf – Available at Amazon for the Kindle

Spooky Showcase

•November 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Spooky Showcase is a collection of stories by Alan Draven, and if you’ve read and liked his Bitternest books this collection will be a real treat for you as all but one of the stories takes place in Bitternest, Louisiana. It’s a city that Mr. Draven has woven into a dark and mysterious place, where at any corner the reader can be met by things that are strange and usually horrifying. The only story that doesn’t take place in Bitternest is the gruesome tale of Jack the Ripper, and it’s not for the feint of heart, but for the rest of us it’s a fantastic tale of terror and gore. I’ll just go over the stories one at a time and give my take on them.

The Paradigm is a novella length detective story. You know the type. Good looking girl goes to private eye, bats her eyelashes and says she’s in mortal danger and needs his help. He calmly listens to her, offers her a drink, maybe a light. Yeah, it starts out something like that, but this is Bitternest and that’s where the normal detective story ends. A case where a man is assaulted, and the client says she figured him for dead quickly leads Detective Jim Coffin on a strange case that goes deep into the realm of paranormal. It’s all fine with Coffin though because that’s just what’s to be expected in Bitternest, Louisiana. If you like mystery, suspense, action, and a good detective story then this is one you’ll want to read.

Beyond the Doomed Cave is the short story of three kids who have the option of facing a local legend of horror or get beaten up by the neighborhood gang. Since it’s only a legend they take the lesser of two evils and hide in the cave. Unfortunately the lesser of two evils soon turns out to be the greater of the two evils as the kids find out there’s a lot of truth to local legends in Bitternest, but local lore lacks the twist that reality bestows upon the legend. Beyond the Doomed Cave was a great little ghost story with a bit of a twist that should surprise any reader.

The Rattling Man’s a Halloween short story. It’s October 31st and Dylan is all excited about trick or treating, but that changes when his friends tell him of the Rattling man, who comes out on Halloween night just to murder children. Dylan’s young and easily influenced so he wants to forgo the holiday until his dad eases his fears, letting him know that there’s no such thing as a Rattling Man – but sometimes parents are wrong, and in Bitternest anything is possible. The Rattling Man was a creepy Halloween story and once again Mr. Draven gives his story a twist that should be a surprise to any reader.

A Madman’s Atonement is the story of a serial killer. The city of Bitternest is in an uproar about a killer in their town. It’s making the papers, but that’s okay, because that’s the sort of glory the killer is looking for. Nobody knows who it is, but when Jimmy has a run in with a man who runs away leaving blood on his clothes he begins to suspect that he’s found the lunatic. It’s all speculation though as he has no hard evidence, but that soon changes, and once again Mr. Draven gives a little twist to the story and the reader who thought he knew everything suddenly realizes that it’s all smoke and mirrors.

Vengeance is Mine is the only story that doesn’t take place in Bitternest, and at first I figured it was an oddball that wouldn’t fit with the rest of the book. I was wrong. Vengeance is Mine is a great story about Jack the Ripper. Mr. Draven shows what a beast the man was. He brings forth the mans gruesome lust for blood, and fame. He shows his cunning, and how such violence can become a lust for more violence and depravity. On top of that Mr. Draven also brings in a bit of the paranormal, giving the reader a plausible reason why the killings suddenly stopped and the culprit was never captured. This is an awesome story, but it’s not for anyone who’s squeamish about blood, gore, and an organ or two.

One final thing I liked about Mr. Draven’s stories is that each and every one tends to surprise the reader. Just when you think you’ve got the plot pegged he takes you in a different direction, but it’s not the cheesy sort of smoke and mirrors. No, Mr. Draven does it with style and makes the impossible plausible. If you’re looking for some creepy stories, and maybe a bit of gore, action, suspense, and a surprise or two this is probably the book you’re looking for.

Plague, is now available as a paperback novel. Yep, paperback. Also with the paperback version you get some fantastic pen and ink artwork by Alex McVey, Tom Moran, Brandon Layng, and myself. So if you get a chance stop by Amazon and have a look.

Oni-Con 2012

•October 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Natalie, my 13 year old daughter, has really gotten into anime this past year. She even bought a Grell costume for Halloween. What’s a “Grell” you ask. I’m not completely positive, but according to my 13 year old expert he’s a grim reaper – one that likes to use a chain saw. It’s a villain from an anime show called Black Butler. She’s been so into it that she’s even talked me into watching 20 episodes or so with her. It’s not bad. Some of it’s corny, but the story is pretty good.

So, a few months ago she is babbling about a thing called Oni-Con in Galveston, Texas. Talking about a thing called cosplay. I had to look both of them up. The Oni-Con is a convention for anime, where folks dress up like their favorite anime character and get together at a convention. The dressing up part is the cosplay. There’s anime shops that sell swords, manga, and everything in between. Nat was exited, like Christmas or something. She begged, pleaded, and babbled until I told her she could go. My daughter gave such a good sales pitch that I even told her that she could bring a friend. Well, I booked a room, got ticket and spending money, and we were ready to go…

Cosplay isn’t really my thing, but I have to say that I was more than a little impressed by the costumes. That’s what the blog is about this round. I just wanted to share a few of the awesome costumes with some folks that might really appreciate them.

In honor of her sales pitch, and the effort she put in so that she could go to this thing I’ll start out with my daughter’s Grell costume. By the way, she won a prize for her outfit in the Costume contest held that Saturday night. There were around a hundred contestants.

OniCon_2012

I posted a lot of these pictures on Facebook, and one of the images that I’ve heard a lot about is Ursula from Little Mermaid. It was a great costume.

OniCon_2012

Here’s another classic costume that I’m sure you’ll all recognize…

OniCon_2012

If Link from the video game Legend of Zelda really existed this is what the character would look like. I’ve got to hand it to this one because the host (Mario) from the costume contest said that the entire costume was hand made by Link – even the chainmail. Awesome!

OniCon_2012

I don’t know what show this next ‘demon’ costume is from, but it looked great. She even wore red contacts.

OniCon_2012

I think I’m picking the next image because of the colors. I mean, it’s a great costume, with tons of character, but the colors are what finally drew me in.

OniCon_2012

Last, but certainly not least is a picture that struck a cord with me. I love steampunk. I love it so much I wrote a novel centered around the genre, so as you can imagine I was completely blown away by this one. Though all the costumes were wonderful, this is by far my favorite. You could hear this girl as the stilts pounded into the floor with a metallic clang.  On her back is what looks like a backpack, but in the center was a plasma disc – like one of those plasma balls that you touch and lightning jumps at your fingers, but in the form of a flat disc. Sabers of colored light lead the way, like a Victorian era Jedi. Needless to say, I found this costume inspiring!

OniCon_2012

Clockwork Dwarf Clockwork Dwarf – Available at Amazon for the Kindle

It’s Review Time Again…

•October 12, 2012 • 2 Comments

Office Space

In the last quarter of every year we get a self evaluation form to fill out at work. There are questions like:

  • What do you think you do for a living?
  • What things have made your job bearable?
  • What new things have you done that doesn’t waste your time or our money?
  • What’s the niftiest thing you did last year?
  • How could you have done that nifty thing better?
  • What sort of ultra-nifty things do you have planned for next year?
  • What would make you happy?
  • Got something to say?

I’m not fond of these questions because it makes me look back to the last year and try to remember what all I did, and my memory just isn’t that good any more. I know I was awesome, I just can’t remember why.

This past year I took notes. HA! That’ll show ‘em. Unfortunately most of the notes were little quarter-sentence word jots that would need a Dick Tracy decoder ring to figure out what was meant at the time. So, I’ve had to rely on my memory. Needless to say there was a lot of BS thrown about, but trust me – I was awesome.

So, in a nutshell, here’s how it went…

Work Performance Review 2012

  • 1. What do you think you do for a living?
    I think I sit at a desk and make user interface applications for our plant operators, and managers. I do this job and try not to stare out the window wishing I were elsewhere. I perform this task while staying off of Facebook, though the temptation is an ever present evil. That solitaire thing’s pretty tempting too.
  • 2. What things have made your job bearable?
    Sometimes there are donuts.
  • 3. What new things have you done that doesn’t waste your time or our money?
    The coffee you drank that last week in December – I made that, and it was good.
  • 4. What’s the niftiest thing you did last year?
    Didn’t I mention the coffee? It was really good.
  • 5. How could you have done that nifty thing better?
    A splash of Irish whiskey would have improved it a great deal, and boosted morale at the same time.
  • 6. What sort of ultra-nifty things do you have planned for next year?
    Could I still do the Irish whiskey thing?
  • 7. What would make you happy?
    The Irish whiskey thing without the coffee…oh, and a larger cup.
  • 8. Got something to say?
    I need a bigger window in my office.

Legal Notice: On the off chance that a co-worker reads this, or God forbid, the wonderful HR person, I just want to say that this is all written for it’s humorous aspect…mostly…yeah, mostly…

Clockwork Dwarf Clockwork Dwarf – Available at Amazon for the Kindle

A Tank of a Battery

•September 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Today my wife’s battery died on her GMC Envoy.

She went outside to start it up and “click, click, Rwwwww, click, click” was all it would do.

Okay, that happens from time to time. The vehicle just broke the 100,000 mile mark, and the battery’s four years old. After that many miles things tend to start giving up, and four years on a battery isn’t all that bad.

I opened the hood thinking to myself, this is gonna be a snap. It’s just a battery, no problem.

Yeah, famous last words.

Okay, here’s the list of junk that stands in the way of removing the battery:

  • A bar runs over the top of the battery from corner to corner. It includes a vertical bar in front of the battery for EXTRA support.
  • The battery is encased in a plastic box. There’s even a Darth Vader breathing hose for the damned thing – I think it’s a breathing hose anyway.
  • Finally, a tab at the base holds the battery snugly into the battery tray.

I looked at all that and thought, Seriously?

It’s just a friggin’ battery, but it’s held in place like the black box on a commercial airline plane.

I started out with my trusty crescent wrench, but as the bolts got deeper into the engine, and harder to get to I had to add my socket set to the list of tools needed to remove the battery.

Well, it’s done, and a brand spankin’ new battery sits snugly in the battery tray now.

All in all, it wasn’t that bad of a job, once I realized that it was gonna be a job. It just completely shocked me that they went to such extremes to hold the battery in place. I mean, if I had to sit in the safest part of my wife’s Envoy it would probably be right behind that battery, because if something ever happens that’s the thing that’s gonna still be in one piece.

Plague, is now available as a paperback novel. Yep, paperback. Also with the paperback version you get some fantastic pen and ink artwork by Alex McVey, Tom Moran, Brandon Layng, and myself. So if you get a chance stop by Amazon and have a look.