Dusklight is Out Now!

Taking place 6 months after the end of Chalk, Dusklight is the second book in my series featuring Raven Mistcreek, a Catholic schoolgirl that can make magical constructs by drawing them with chalk.

You can purchase the paperback here.

You can purchase the ebook version here.

I’m not sure why they aren’t linked together. I’ll be looking into that.

In celebration of the release of Dusklight, the Dragon Award eligible Chalk is on sale! Buy it here and be sure to nominate it for Best Fantasy here. For other suggestions on Dragon Award eligible books, take a look here.

Review: Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese

Starship Grifters is one of the funniest things I’ve ever experienced. It is certainly the funniest book I’ve read.

As a science fiction humor story, comparisons to other science fiction humor stories is inevitable. So how does it compare to the oft-touted science fiction humor novel Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? It is MUCH funnier than Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But, in my opinion, that’s also a very low bar. Robert Kroese has no regard for that bar and instead makes his own bar and beats other bars with his new bar until they ask him politely to stop. Writing comedy is difficult. My experience with humor stories is that they start off strong, but the hilarity tends to fade quickly. Robert Kroese conquers this problem magnificently, and Starship Grifters remained consistently funny throughout.

The protagonist Rex Nihilo is an absurd character who continuously (and miraculously) rolls 20s on every charisma check. The plot revolves around Rex trying to get out of massive debt. En route, Nihilo faces off against an evil galactic empire, a rebellion based in a car park, and Space Apostles who appear out of nowhere. Kroese tips over many sacred cows with finesse and without being coarse, vulgar, or insulting to his readers. Modern comedy writers should take a note. Or several. Star Wars gets several jabs. Bureaucracy, usury, corporatism, stale tropes, and likely many things I didn’t pick up on get jabs. But all of this is done without getting bogged down in painful, unwanted Pop Culture ™ references. Yay! The only thing remotely bog-related is the forest moon, which is mostly swamp.

Memorable characters abound. From the narrator robot Sasha to the beautiful and… er… impressive bounty hunter Pepper and gibberish-spouting Ted there’s a lot to love. Perhaps most memorable is the villainous Heinous Vlaak who seemed to me to be a ridiculous combination of every 1980s dystopian gang lord I’ve ever seen (complete with outlandish outfit and wraparound sunglasses) and Skeletor.

Who would enjoy this? Fans of Larry Correia’s The Adventures of Tom Stranger certainly. Fans of Star Wars spoofs like Spaceballs would also find immense enjoyment within this books many text-filled pages. Who won’t enjoy this? People without a sense of humor will hate it. People who are fans of massive debt and bureaucracy might be offended as well.

In any case this book comes very highly recommended. I do not recommend reading it while eating, however, as there is a distinct danger of choking on said food from laughter. Er… don’t ask.

Buy your copy here!

Review: All Things Huge and Hideous by G. Scott Huggins

Doctor James DeGrande is slave to the Dark Lord. In the Empire of Dread, he is essentially head veterinarian, dealing with dragons, basilisks, dire wolves, wyverns, and other creatures and monstrosities. Most of which are visible.

This is what you get when you filter Terry Pratchett through Blackadder and G.K. Chesterton. The fantasy world is plenty quirky and the situations and side characters colorful and memorable. I actually had to put the book down once because I was laughing so hard. The Chesterton-esque wit comes to the fore in the author’s ability to take a tense situation and cleverly turn it on its head and show that it is not only tense, but also absurd. There is something very Edmund Blackadder about DeGrande frantically trying to stay ahead of the Dark Lord and his minions and keep his head. G. Scott Huggins gives us a book that is often painfully funny.

It isn’t all laughs and jokes amidst the gore and darkness. In this world the Dark Lord won the war, the elves ran away, and humans are largely slaves. Heroism isn’t entirely dead, though, and the story never gets bogged down in its more serious content. DeGrande’s actions are not entirely selfish even if a lot of what he does is struggle to stay alive. He genuinely cares about the veterinary practice he inherited and his almost-witch assistant. There are even moments of subtle defiance when he is able to undermine the Dark Lord’s minions. So, in his own, limited way, our protagonist gets to play the hero. And it is always a joy when he does.

While I didn’t care too much for the plot thread involving a unicorn, this is a very consistently enjoyable read. From surgery inside of a dragon to facing vampires, necromancers, trolls, and an invisible creature that is definitely not a weasel, All Things Huge and Hideous is a hilarious, worthwhile read that left me wanting more. I hope there will be a sequel in the not-too-distant future. Highly recommended for fans of Terry Pratchett, Blackadder, veterinary medicine, and fractured fairytales.

Get your copy here.

Dragon Awards 2021 – Update

The Dragon Awards are closer. This is a list of who I am voting for. You won’t see huge names here. The closest thing is Dan Abnett. Why Dragon Awards? The short answer is that culture matters. Therefore, the Dragon Awards matter. As far as I can tell it is one of very few awards that isn’t a trash heap. When was the last time a good film won an Oscar? And look how viewership of that train-wreck has plummeted. Other awards have imploded badly.

This is a way of fighting back against that trend.

Nominations are open here.

Best Science Fiction Novel

Storm Between the Stars – Karl K. Gallagher

Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel

Penance – Paula Richey

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

Unmasked – Kai Wai Cheah

Best Alternate History Novel

Educated Luck – Mel Todd

Best Horror Novel

Hussar – Declan Finn

Best Fantasy Novel

Chalk – N. R. LaPoint

Best Comic Book

Soulbound, #2 – Paula Richey

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series, TV or Internet

Pinkerton’s Ghosts

Best Media Tie-In Novel

Penitent – Dan Abnett

Review: Death Cult (Saint Tommy, NYPD #2) by Declan Finn

Superhero Detective Tommy Nolan returns in Death Cult, the follow-up to Hell Spawn. To my mind most sequels don’t deliver on the promise of the first installment. So, does it hold up or is the series dragged into a sophomore slump? Death Cult not only succeeds where many sequels fail, it doubles down on everything I loved about the first book. It might actually be better than Hell Spawn. A very nice surprise.

After the events of Hell Spawn, Tommy “I’m Not a Saint, Saints are Dead!” Nolan is dealing with the fallout: obnoxious legal issues, Internal Affairs, moving to a new house, the media predictably portraying Nolan as a villainous psychopath… and, oh yeah, the death cult that Nolan foiled wants him and his family dead. From the opening home invasion to the final action scene, Declan Finn doesn’t give you the chance to get bored.

Along with the death cult we get a fun take on the zombie genre. I hate the zombie genre, generally, but (thank God) there’s no overdone undead cannibalism here. No, instead we are given a Bond villain-esque voodoo witch doctor and his lifeless puppets. Much better. And that’s not all. Detective Nolan still must contend with normal human villains that seemed ripped from today’s headlines. Seriously, sometimes you feel like you’re reading current events and not an urban fantasy laced with horror.

Nolan loses none of the charm he had in Hell Spawn. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite action heroes. There’s no moping or shoegazing to be had here. Saint Tommy doesn’t do depressing, and his constant incredulity over people being unsurprised by his saint-like qualities is always amusing. We get to see some new developments with his powers, as well as some intriguing limitations. Declan Finn does fun and he does it well. Well enough that this series has become one of my go-to recommendations. Death Cult even leaves you with a fun twist. It left me chuckling and wanting the next installment.

If you like a good pulp / action / horror / urban fantasy story, you can’t do much better.

Treat yourself to a copy here.

If you don’t have the first one yet, try here.

Review: Gideon Ira: Knight of the Blood Cross by Adam Lane Smith

In a world where the veil between humanity and demons has been severed, knights stand against the demonic forces that threaten to devour mankind. Gideon Ira is one such knight.

Adam Lane Smith gives us an absurdly action-packed story set in a dystopian future. Demons act as warlords, ravaging and raiding towns and villages, taking humans for their bloody sacrifices. It’s a grim future, but one that is well built and imagined. Throughout there are wonderful tidbits of information thrown at the reader, giving just enough of a tease to the woes befallen the world to genuinely intrigue and amuse. References to previous missions and adventures also serve to immerse the reader in a world that is surprisingly well-developed for what is a fairly quick read.

The author’s understanding of human psychology paints some wonderful side characters. They all felt like real people. If given just a glimpse of motivation the characters are realistic, sympathetic, and fully realized. Even a character beaten down into despair has motivations that make sense.

If you like action, this book has loads of it. From tense stealth scenes to big brawls, the action is plentiful and varied. The demonic monsters are frightening and grotesque. The only real complaint I have about the book is that I found the descriptive nature of some of the violence to be excessive. I’m not likely to forget that cultists have intestines and are filled with blood. Other than that, the reader is treated to some very fun stuff here.

As someone who enjoys stories about knights destroying monsters, I recommend this book. If you don’t like stories about knights destroying monsters, this book might just change your mind. It is billed as a heavy metal Christian pulp adventure and the designation if fitting. The action hardly lets you stop for a breather and Christianity is portrayed in a positive light, especially as a force for good against terrible evil.

Cry “Deus vult!” and buy your copy here.

Review: Pyre and Ice by Josh Griffing

For being only a novella, you get a lot of story and character here. Importantly, you get characters you care about and a story that is hard to put down. It is never a slog and a few asides give you glimpses of a larger, well-thought-out universe that the cast is partaking in.

I’ve read sci-fi with a similar feel and thematic elements. Those bored me. Pyre and Ice avoided every pitfall those other stories had. There are no painful info dumps that I couldn’t follow. There were no meandering trips into nowhere that did nothing to develop character or plot. The science speak you do get was quick and sounded real enough. The terraforming ideas and trials were intriguing and seemed fresh and clever. If only more science fiction was like this.

I didn’t know what to expect in making this purchase, and what I got was a wonderful surprise. The title might seem like a fun play on words, but about halfway through it struck me as downright ominous. After a while I still come back to thinking of the implications with a chill. If you’re looking for a brief sci-fi diversion (specifically, this involves the trials of terraforming), this is well worth the attention.

Author Josh Griffing is somebody I am going to keep an eye out for. I hope we all see more from him. This was good stuff.

Buy it here.

Dragon Awards

With the Dragon Awards coming up this year, I am excited to announce that my novel Chalk is qualified to receive nominations for the Best Fantasy Novel Category.

Click the banner to get your ballot

Below are some suggestions for other categories. If a category is not listed… I got nothing:

Best Science Fiction Novel

Storm Between the Stars – Karl K. Gallagher

Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel

Penance – Paula Richey

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

Unmasked – Kai Wai Cheah

Best Alternate History Novel

Educated Luck – Mel Todd

Best Horror Novel

Hussar – Declan Finn

Best Comic Book

Soulbound, #2 – Paula Richey

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series, TV or Internet

Pinkerton’s Ghosts

Review: Babylon Blues by Kit Sun Cheah

Here we have a cyberpunk epic from Kit Sun Cheah. It’s the first tome I’ve read from this author, and I do mean tome. This book is a beast. It is a collection of six action-packed novels collected into one volume. Every one of them could stand on their own and every single one is immensely satisfying. Keep that in mind if you are taken aback by the price. You aren’t buying just one book, you are buying six fantastic books.

My experience with cyberpunk before this book was limited to the Keanu Reeves movie Johnny Mnemonic and the music video for Billy Idol’s Shock to the System. So… very limited. Thankfully, Kit Sun Cheah decided to go and completely own the genre.

At the start, we’re thrown into a dark, bleak, horrifying future where technology and mankind are blended together in dehumanising ways and cosmic horrors masquerading as gods push and pull mankind like pathetic flesh puppets. Standing against them is the Special Tasks Section, an elite police force that specialises in bringing down husks, people who have been turned into monsters by the New Gods. Think of a Faustian bargain offered by a Lovecraftian abomination and you get an idea of what the STS is dealing with.

You get plenty of guns and action and, thankfully, the author knows his terminology. You also get my favorite action hero in a long time: Yuri Yamamoto, part mystical samurai, part crusading paladin. Every time Yuri takes out a blade or his silver cross, awesome happens. Sometimes what he does reads like poetry, at other moments the words on the page are like fireworks. There were times I had to reread passages because they were so good.

Highly recommended for fans of cyberpunk, Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International, or Dan Abnett’s Warhammer 40K work. Or, I’d imagine, anybody looking for an absolute blast. The action is less gorey than the aforementioned, but no less exciting. The supernatural elements had me grinning at how well they were handled. Not an easy thing to do. At the end of the final story, White Cross, you’re left feeling like you just watched an immensely satisfying series finale that could stand on its own or drag you into what could be an insane second season.

Also, the cover is awesome.

Buy a copy here and keep an eye on the author’s other work. I will certainly be doing so.

Review: Whom Shall I Fear? by Anne Clare

Anne Clare’s debut novel Whom Shall I Fear? is not my typical read. I’m not big on realistic war fiction or romance novels. This is both of those things, and yet I found myself drawn into the characters and their dilemmas. It’s a great story and surprisingly compelling.

Why did I like it even though it falls outside my general taste? Part of the reason is that Anne Clare made her characters likable. Without that seemingly simple ingredient, there wouldn’t have been any point to the story. It is heavily character-driven. Sergeant James Milburn reminded me of male leads in classic films. In fact, while reading this I felt like I was watching something like I’ll be Seeing You or It’s Always Fair Weather. And that is a very good thing.

The relationship between Sergeant Milburn and Evie Worther is believable and charming. Achieving that is no easy feat. Is it a little cheesy? Maybe, but it ends up being a good contrast with the incredibly slimy villain.

Anne Clare also did an enormous amount of research and it comes through in the text in a big way. The attention to little details, whether it was some bit of geography, parts of a soldier’s kit, or some off-hand reference to surrounding events all made the story feel very real and solid. This wasn’t some half-hearted attempt at historical fiction. The author took her research seriously and it was clearly thorough.

Truly setting it apart from anything else that might be considered “Christian Romance” were the punchy action scenes. Sergeant Milburn doesn’t spend all of his days writing letters. He’s a soldier and the action in this book is full of tension and are executed with the precision of a sniper. And it really is war. Side characters you like might not make it out of the book.

If you are a history buff or tired of the slush typical of romance novels, give Whom Shall I Fear? a try here.