Required Reading

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Radleys by Matt Haig

An interesting and different take on vampires this book is a morality play with seemingly normal characters. The Radleys are a family of abstaining vampires forced to face their identity and heritage through the actions of a family member.

In spite of vampires being grossly overworked this was a very good book. The characters were believable and even likeable. Rowan and Clara, the Radley children, faced major changes in their young lives and as kids do acclimated surprisingly well.

Uncle Will was not a likeable character but his behavior fit the parameters of the story. The situation was artificial but made believable considering the political machinations of daily existence in “real” life.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Matt Haig

Web Site:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor Vampire Slayer by Lucy Weston

Elizabeth Tudor finally survives both her father and her sister’s threats to become Queen of England only to discover her throne is threatened by none other than Mordred, long thought dead. Mordred is the King of the vampires and he wants Elizabeth as his queen.
Ms. Weston paints a very clear picture of the politics of 1559 England. Even having a reasonable grasp of history it is still easy to assume monarchs in that time were absolute. This book reminds you that truly the head that wears the crown does not rest easy. The actual politics of Elizabeth’s court are superseded by the threat of Mordred and his vampires.

The recent obsession with vampires dilutes the impact this book could have. Ms. Weston did a nice job showing the romantic ambivalence and the real fear that Elizabeth Tudor had all her life.

Body of work of Lucy Weston

Web Site:

Winners in the Thrall Giveaway

Winners in the Thrall  Giveaway, Pinkstuff28, Cathy D. and Cruff. Congratulations!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An Interview With The Author of Thrall, Steven L. Shrewsbury

 Thank you for your willingness to be interviewed. Your work seems to be moving at an exponential rate with Thrall expected to be a big hit.

1.) Why did you write Thrall? What initiated this particular burst of creativity? Is Gorias La Gaul going to be a re-occurring character?
I heard an ancient ballad by bluegrass singer Ralph Stanley that made Gorias appear. Gorias is the name of the Celtic god Lugh's spear. That full name just popped out. After an evening of cards with a few folks who mentioned a Draco-lich, things started to fall into place. I wrote the first draft while recovering from neck surgery. I've written several stories about Gorias and yes, he'll return in more novels, one currently being penned.

2.) Does your story line develop organically or is it a gestalt before you begin?
I had a rough outline that changed quite a bit once I got going. I knew the major events, but twists and turns of the mind as one goes makes it like rock & roll.

3.) How important are your illustrations? How did you score a well known illustrator such as Matthew Perry to do your illustrations?
I was blessed that he works with Seventh Star Press. His renderings of Gorias and the dragon are gold. Bob Freeman has done covers in the past (and future) and he is a beast. Dittos for Alex McVey.

4.) Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why?
Aside from the aging hero Gorias? Perhaps the barbarian chief Brock, who is a trifle over the top, but cold & mean.

5.) What do you like the most about writing?
I love to tell stories. I feel the best when I am making folks happy, reading something they have never read before.

6.) Where do your new story ideas come from?
Sometimes listening to heavy metal songs, offhand comments, or just filter in from the ether-realm as I work in the factory. At a Con last summer I mis-heard a lady in passing and her one sentence inspired an entire novel.

7.) What advice has helped the most in your writing?
Never stop, never give up and pound out every yarn you can. Harlan Ellison told me, "Don't be a phony. Don't lose yourself."

8.) What do have new in the works?
Well, BEDLAM UNLEASHED (co-written with Peter Welmerink) will coem out next sprign from Belfire. My horror novel HELL BILLY in 2012 from bad moon Books...but I've just written a Lovecraftian-western, an epic fantasy of Biblical measurements plus, I'm working on a new fantasy novel with Gorias.

9.) You are often compared to Robert E. Howard. Is he your favorite author? If not who is your favorite author and why?
Howard is my favorite. I still read his poems and tales. Karl Edward Wagner would be a close second. Howard spoke to me as a child and I reckon his cadence flows in my storytelling. George RR Martin and David Gemmell are terrific, too.

10.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer?
READ. Read everything, not just the genre you choose. SCi fi, horror, fatnasy, westerns, pulp detectives, non-fiction and the Bible. Never give up and never think you can't learn.

Thank  you for your time and your enlightening answers.  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Firemask by Chris Bunch

“Firemask” is number two in the four book series The Last Legion. I found “Firemask” more enjoyable than the first book. I thought the detailing was better done and the story line was more inspiring. The characters are fleshed out better which was one of my complaints about the first book, “The Last Legion”. Interestingly the review below felt that the first book was better. Goes to show how subjective this stuff is. I enjoyed the book and recommend both books I have read.

Body of work of Chris Bunch

Web Site:  Chris Bunch is deceased so no web site.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cool Headers 6

I am aware that I am doing a self serving post by including my own header in the Cool Headers series but if you don’t like your own work why would you do it?

Full credit for my own seasonal headers goes to Shellie at Layers of Thought who inspired me with her very cool headers. This is the header for Pick of the Literate which is my blog that focuses on more main stream books.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


A New Giveaway
a new heroic fantasy novel

Inter-Galatic First prize
is a copy of the book, a poster and Thrall T-Shirt!
(Shipping is restricted to the known universe and this dimension only, alternate worlds and universes need not enter.)
See Details & Enter Below!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kildar by John Ringo

I feel better now, Ringo is back in form. I did not like the first book in this series, Ghost, a great deal. It spent too much time on erotica and not enough on Ringo’s forte which I feel is action adventure. This book takes Mike Harmon/Jenkins/Duncan to Gerogia, the one near Russia not the USA. He buys a farm and discovers he is now the Kildar (baron) complete with warriors and serfs.

Ringo’s books are always interesting. I found his search for historic precedents in his farm tenants very interesting. He spends some time warring with his internal dichotomy which causes him some but not a lot of angst. In this series, Ringo is dealing with reasonably current events. His primary enemies are still the Islamic extremists but he is more focused on Chechens in this book. He provides a realistic look at the difficulties the former Soviet provinces faced after independence. All in all, this book was far superior to Ghost.

I recommend this book.

Body of work of John Ringo

Web site:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The 19th Element by John L. Becker

I don't get a great deal of overlap on my blogs but this book is a good read and offers so poignant thought to today's world.   Got to Pick of the Literate if you want to read the interview with author John L. Betcher on December 9th.

A retired agent of some type is a small town attorney. James Becker has retired from a terrorism fight to live a sedentary life with his wife and girls safe in a small, insular community. This bucolic life is interrupted by Islamic terrorists’ attack on a nearby nuclear plant.

I like the way Betcher has made James Becker very human. He isn’t a invulnerable, Bondish, clock and dagger semi-super hero. Becker is a nosy, competent patriot who also wants to have a family life.

The 19th element aspect is thought provoking and plausible from what I remember from college. A well thought out plot makes this book work.

The story is frightening as it is taken right out of the front page of today’s paper. The complacency of authorities and the territorial in fighting by the very people who are supposed to keep us safe is demoralizing. I look forward to seeing Betcher’s next work. This is a good book to read but it may keep you up at night.

I highly recommend this book.

Body of work of John L. Betcher

Web site:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cool Headers 5

I am aware that I am doing a self serving post by including my own header in the Cool Headers series but if you don’t like your own work why would you do it?

Full credit for my own seasonal headers goes to Shellie at Layers of Thought who inspired me with her very cool headers.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sparky the Skunk reviews The Christmas Knot

Sparky the Skunk
The Christmas Knot
A wonderful children's book
by Author
William G. Bentrim

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A New Giveaway
a new heroic fantasy novel

Inter-Galatic First prize
is a copy of the book, a poster and Thrall T-Shirt!
(Shipping is restricted to the known universe and this dimension only, alternate worlds and universes need not enter.)

2nd Prize is a copy of the book but limited to mono-dimensional United States shipping only. 

Third Prize is a Thrall T-Shirt
also restricted to US Only.
Shipping restrictions are at the request of the publisher due to the exorbitant costs of international/intergalatic shipping.

From the press release: 
Seventh Star Press is proud to announce the release of THRALL, the new heroic fantasy novel from author Steven L. Shrewsbury.  Now available for pre-order in limited edition hardcover and trade paperback, THRALL is the first published adventure of a brand new hero in fantasy literature, Gorias La Gaul.

Set in an ancient world, Thrall is gritty, dark-edged heroic fantasy in the vein of Robert E. Howard and David Gemmell. It tells the story of Gorias La Gaul, an aging warrior who has lived for centuries battling the monstrosities of legend and lore. It is an age when the Nephilum walk the earth, and dragons still soar through the air … living or undead. On a journey to find one of his own blood, Gorias' path crosses with familiar enemies ... some of whom not even death can hold bound.  

Celebrated illustrator Matthew Perry has done the illustrations

Each person who comments and leaves an email address on my blog expressing a desire for a copy of Thrall will be entered to win a copy of Thrall by Steven L. Shrewsbury. Each comment will be assigned a number based on the order the comment was received. The numbers will be input at to determine the winner. The winner will be notified by email and will need to provide a physical address for shipment of the book. If there is no response from the winner in 48 hours, another winner will be chosen. The winner will be announced on Pick of the Literate and Azure Dwarf.

Drop by, read the review, make your comment and sit back and hope you win. Contest begins today, December 1, 2010 and ends on December 21st, 2010 midnight east coast time, the Seventh Star Press will ship the prizes to the winner.   Winners will be contacted by email and will need to email me back with their shipping address.   Please no PO boxes, physical address will be needed for shipping.

Want to improve your odds?

Follow me on Twitter to get another numeric entry.

If you blog, put a link on your blog to my blog and I will add another entry for you.
Comment here on any of my other posts or comment on my other blogs and I will add another entry for you.

There are many ways to increase your chances, how much you want to do so is up to you.

Oh,contest is for anywhere on this planet as far as I can determine.  Aww, what the heck, anywhere in our solar system for the first prize.   I will be reviewing the book and posting my review on this blog.  I also will be interviewing Steven and posting the interview here as well. Thanks for reading and good luck.