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I’ve got a little list… of favorite novels by Scots

waspfactory1

Here’s a personal top 10 of novels by Scots. Ask me tomorrow, you might get a different 10. 🙂

  • The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The 39 Steps – John Buchan
  • Sunset Song – Lewis Grassic Gibbon
  • Lanark – Alasdair Gray
  • Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Where Eagles Dare – Alistair MacLean
  • Laidlaw – William McIllvaney
  • The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
  • Flashman – George MacDonald Fraser

 

VEIL KNIGHTS 5: RUN OF LUCK out now.

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The VEIL KNIGHTS series continues with book #5 RUN OF LUCK.

I’m part of this major new fantasy series, and Book 5, RUN OF LUCK launches today. Here’s the gen for this latest adventure. As ever, I’ll be very grateful for any of your shares. likes or comments on any of the social media platforms.

Jaz “Lady Luck” Archer doesn’t believe in knights. If she did, she wouldn’t be the hero of her tale, no matter what the illusionist Dante Grimm believes.

Grimm has seen through her carefully constructed lies—that the death of her sister was an unfortunate accident—and now, to make up for Jaz’s past, she must find a lost artifact. Combined with its legendary counterparts, the superbike artifact will hold back a world filled with monsters.

Grimm makes a convincing case, but Jaz doesn’t believe in heroes, she doesn’t believe in magical motorbikes either. All that changes with an accidental death at Jaz’s casino and the arrival of the alluring, Siobhan—A woman who appears to be able to bring the dead back to life.

Siobhan makes Jaz an offer she cannot refuse: Jaz’s sister’s life for Grimm’s artifact.

To claim the bike, Jaz must return to the street racing crew she abandoned and rekindle her talent for speed. Only then will the true test begin. A battle of wills and of lies, for the mysterious Siobhan is not who, or what, she claims to be.

Jaz doesn’t believe in myths and legends, but they believe in her, and they’ll stop at nothing to see the veil fall once again.

Amazon | Amazon UK

Twelve authors, including New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestsellers Lilith Saintcrow, CJ Lyons, Joseph Nassise, Steven Savile, and Annie Bellet, have come together to create a modern reimagining of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table sure to please fans of urban fantasy and Arthurian legends alike!

The Veil Knights urban fantasy series will be published under the pseudonym Rowan Casey and will feature regular new volumes detailing the exploits of one of the knights through to summer 2017, when season one of the series comes to its stunning conclusion.

With more than ten million copies of their books in print around the world, the authors bringing this series to you include Lilith Saintcrow, CJ Lyons, Joseph Nassise, Steven Savile, Annie Bellet, Jon F. Merz, Pippa DaCosta, Robert Greenberger, William Meikle, Steve Lockley, Hank Schwaeble, and Nathan Meyer.

Cover art by Lou Harper of Harper Design.

Book Review – 5/5 stars to THE ABOMINABLE by Dan Simmons

The AbominableThe Abominable by Dan Simmons

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was wary approaching ABOMINABLE. I liked his other recent works, DROOD, and THE FIFTH HEART but felt both were bogged down somewhat by too much detail. And judging from the reviews I’d seen, ABOMINABLE was getting tarred with the same brush.

But I needn’t have worried. There is indeed plenty of detail here, especially of climbing gear and clothing, and the acts of climbing itself, but it serves the story better than in the other books, and where DROOD especially felt somewhat claustrophobic and dense, ABOMINABLE feels much more expansive and open, and gives a real idea of the joys of being on top of the world, and the freedom that can be felt there.

I hate heights. They make me go weak at the knees, and just reading some of the scenes here had almost the same effect, a testament to Simmons’ way with a descriptive passage.

Simmons’ prose is as excellent as ever, and the narrator, Jake, feels fully formed and alive. It’s a tale of derring-do on the world’s highest peak of course but it’s also about friendship, and adversity, and conquering obstacles. There’s also much in the latter part of the book that reminds me of some of Alistair Maclean’s adventures, with skullduggery in snowy landscapes.

It takes twists and turns I wasn’t expecting, and the title of the book might seem like a misnomer to some, as expectations of snowmen are a bit of a red herring. That doesn’t detract from the story. It’s a hefty book, but it doesn’t seem like it, and I thoroughly enjoyed Simmons’ return to the cold landscapes he evoked so wonderfully in THE TERROR.

Quality stuff, and highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Musings on another birthday

me2Another birthday, the last one of my fifties, 59 years old and into my sixtieth year on the planet.

I remember my dad telling me that time speeds up as you get older. He was right. A year now is only a sixtieth of my life. Back when I was ten it was a tenth. There’s inflation for you.

As usual these past few years, it’s provoked a period of navel gazing about the writing. These recent years have been the best of my writing career, by quite some margin, with novels and collections sold to good markets, books appearing in lovely illustrated hardcover editions, and stories sold to some of the top publishers. I’m now into my tenth year of supporting us as a full time writer.

If you’d told me back when I started I could have this, I’d have bitten your arm off for the chance.

And yet… money’s too tight to mention. If I’d stayed working in IT back in the UK, I’d be a damned sight better off by now, and have a much better pension coming up next year for a start. But that would have meant trading in the past ten years spent doing what I want to do, writing full time, here on the coast of Newfoundland, and losing most of those aforesaid nice publications in the process.

Swings and roundabouts, but in the end, I’m glad we made the leap. I’ve made a lot of good online friends in this business over these recent years, and although we haven’t met in the flesh, it doesn’t make that friendship any less real.

I used to think I’d slow down in the writing as I got nearer 60, but I’ve got contracts in hand for a few more novels to take me over that hump, ideas for many more, and some secret stuff in the pipeline that looks to keep me too busy to worry about getting old.

So thanks to everybody that puts up with me, and onward, into the wide blue yonder.

VEIL KNIGHTS THE CIRCLE GATHERS just 99c

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If any of you have been dithering about buying the VEIL KNIGHTS series, the price of the first ebook, THE CIRCLE GATHERS is just 99c on Amazon now. There’s been thousands of copies sold already, with the first four books ( of twelve) available, so get in now and enjoy.

Amazon (COM) |  Amazon (UK)

A modern reimagining of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table sure to please fans of urban fantasy and Arthurian legends alike!

The Veil Knights urban fantasy series is published under the pseudonym Rowan Casey and features regular new volumes detailing the exploits of one of the knights through to summer 2017, when season one of the series comes to its stunning conclusion.

With more than ten million copies of their books in print around the world, including New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestsellers, the authors bringing this series to you include Lilith Saintcrow, CJ Lyons, Joseph Nassise, Steven Savile, Annie Bellet, Jon F. Merz, Pippa DaCosta, Robert Greenberger, William Meikle, Steve Lockley, Hank Schwaeble, and Nathan Meyer.

Cover art by Lou Harper of Harper Design.

VEIL KNIGHTS #4 – THE QUESTING BEAST launches.

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With the release today of The Questing Beast, the first four books of the VEIL KNIGHTS series (The Circle Gathers, Hound of Night, Cloak of Fury and The Questing Beast) are now all available, with book 5 coming in February.

As ever, all shares, likes etc are gratefully accepted.

The Questing Beast

Destiny won’t be denied…

All their lives, Dani and Perce Pellin have known they were different. Raised in the backwoods of Colorado by a paranoid mother who taught them to hunt and survive while filling their heads with haunting stories of a family curse involving a mythical Beast, escaping to civilization and seeing the world for themselves is all the twins have ever dreamed of doing.

But then a man named Grimm invites them to a meeting in LA, a meeting where they discover that they are not as alone in this world as they had imagined themselves to be. Tasked with finding the blade of Llawfrodedd Farchog, one of the pieces of the Caeg Dimmre, Perce and Dani are sent back to the wilderness, this time deep into the heart of the Yukon Territories.

There they will discover that far more lurks in the woods than just bears and moose, and it will take all their skills to finish the quest.

For their mother wasn’t mad, and the cursed Beast is very real…

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Amazon (COM)
Amazon (UK)

02houndofnight

Amazon (COM)
Amazon (UK)

03CloakofFury

Amazon (COM)
Amazon (UK)

04QuestingBeast

Amazon (COM)
Amazon (UK)

Here’s the gen about the series.

ARTHURIAN MYTH MEETS URBAN FANTASY

Twelve New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestselling authors – including Lilith Saintcrow, CJ Lyons, Joseph Nassise, Steven Savile, and Annie Bellet – have come together to create a modern reimagining of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table sure to please fans of urban fantasy and Arthurian legends alike!

Launching in November 2016, the Veil Knights urban fantasy series will be published under the pseudonym Rowan Casey and will feature a new volume detailing the exploits of one of the knights every month through summer 2017, when season one of the series comes to its stunning conclusion.

With more than ten million copies of their books in print around the world, the authors bringing this series to you include Lilith Saintcrow, CJ Lyons, Joseph Nassise, Steven Savile, Annie Bellet, Jon F. Merz, Pippa DaCosta, Robert Greenberger, William Meikle, Steve Lockley, Hank Schwaeble, and Nathan Meyer. Cover art by Lou Harper.

Follow this exciting new series at the links.

Amazon (COM) | Amazon (UK)

Website: http://www.rowancasey.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorrowancasey

Contact: authorrowancasey@gmail.com

This is a bit of a sideways lurch for me into trying something different. I had an awful lot of fun doing my book, and I think it shows in the final product.

And no, we’re not saying who wrote which one. Not yet anyway 🙂

Samurai and Other Stories

samurai

My story collection SAMURAI AND OTHER STORIES from Crystal Lake is currently on discount at 99c for Kindle at AMAZON

Here you’ll find numerous ghosts, many Scotsmen, a big blob, some holy relics, some unholy relics, a Mothman, a barbarian, some swordplay, a shoggoth and a lot of unexpected people.

This collection brings together some of my favorite stories from the past decade or so in an exploration of the perils of exploring dark places, both external and internal.

Includes:

  • Samurai
  • Rickman’s Plasma
  • Home is the Sailor
  • Turn Again
  • Inquisitor
  • The Scotsman’s Fiddle
  • The Toughest Mile
  • The Havehome
  • The Yule Log
  • Living the Dream
  • The Shoogling Jenny
  • The Haunting of Esther Cox
  • Dancers
  • The Brotherhood of the Thorns
  • The Young Lochinvar
  • A Slim Chance

So what makes this short story collection so special?

Samurai and other stories contains a real cross section of what I’m all about as a writer. There’s fantasy, swordplay, supernatural beasts, sword and sorcery, ghosts, horror, history, humor and a lot of particularly Scottish characters in weird situations. It’s also got some of what I think of as my strongest work, whether its in the quieter ghost stories, or the blood and thunder sword swinging. I’m very proud of it as a collection, and Crystal Lake have done a wonderful job in the packaging, especially in the brilliant Ben Baldwin cover that captures the title story perfectly.

Tell us more about your title story.

Samurai is a cautionary tale of being careful what you wish for. A group of shipwrecked sailors find shelter in an ancient abandoned Japanese temple. They proceed to sack it of its treasures – but find, to their cost, that the temple has a guardian, and that service comes with a stiff price. It’s a fantasy fable, with more Scots in trouble, more swordplay, and a splash of red gore in the green jungle. It runs in my head like a movie, and in fact, I think it would make a great one, if somebody has the cash for it.

Why should readers give Samurai and Other Stories a try?

It’s packed with entertainment, at least I think so. My ethos as a writer is that story comes first, and I like to think that shows in this collection, whether it be in tales of adventure, or misadventure, spooky goings on in coal mines, strange musicians, poltergeists, magial relics, or the people that nobody expects. A wee bit of something for everybody.

Book Review – 3/5 stars to EXPIRATION DATE by Tim Powers

Expiration Date (Fault Lines, #2)Expiration Date by Tim Powers

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tim Powers is one of my favorite writers, but EXPIRATION DATE isn’t among my favorite of his books.

I’ve started and stopped it several times in the past, but this time I have the next in the loose series, EARTHQUAKE WEATHER to read and I was determined to push through and get to the end. But to be honest, I found it a bit of a slog.

It’s as well written as any of Powers’ books, but I don’t think the central idea of ghosts being able to be caught and sniffed as a kind of psychic cocaine is strong enough to hold this rather rambling plot together. That, and the fact that the main protagonist is an eleven year old kid who gets a ton of shit thrown at him in the story rather turned me against the whole thing from an early stage.

There are some of the great visual touches and dexterity with a sentence that we expect from Powers but too much of the story consists of people going somewhere to get something, then going somewhere else to get something else, then meeting someone who will tell them where to go to get the next thing. It’s like a modern L.A. version of a rather dull Dungeons and Dragons adventure and as such I found myself flicking pages to get to the good bits.

I think the main problem is one of too many point of view characters. We could have lost the lawyer completely from the story and it wouldn’t change it a bit, and likewise the female psychiatrist was often just hanging around to be someone for one of the protagonists to talk to.

Still, even second rate Powers is better than most other things, and there was enough to entertain me to make sure I made it to the end this time.

Onward to EARTHQUAKE WEATHER…

View all my reviews

Book Review – 5/5 stars to LAST CALL by Tim Powers

Last Call (Fault Lines, #1)Last Call by Tim Powers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My first read of 2017 straddled the old and new year, which is pretty apt for a tale of the death of an old king and the ascension of a new one.

LAST CALL is a dazzling jewel of a book. Powers pulls out all of his vast array of literary tricks, and not for the first time drags his Jungian archetypes to center stage to show off for him.

In this one we get Fisher Kings, blasted lands, fools and knaves, queens and one eyed jacks, all vying for control of the Kingdom and the power that comes with the role of the new King in a plot centered around the casinos of Las Vegas and the surrounding area.

So there’s that, but there’s also an almost noir feel to the book, like Raymond Chandler filtered through the eyes of a burned out poker player ready to cash in his chips for the last time.

As ever with Powers there’s wonderful characterization, tremendous set pieces, wild flights of fancy, and lyrical flourishes of brilliance.

This one won the World Fantasy Award in 1993 and fully deserves every plaudit thrown at it. It hasn’t dated either – you can still feel the desperation and despair in those Vegas casinos, and still see the lost and fractured people chasing their places in the Kingdom.

The old King wants to be reborn in a new body at the start of a new cycle, and will stop at nothing to avoid slipping away into the waiting dark. But the throne comes at a price, one that many others are also willing to pay. There’s a game being played, a high stakes one, and Powers makes sure the tension is ratcheted up all the way to the final hand.

It’s a great, great novel, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone with a taste for dark tinged, modern Arthurian Fantasy.

View all my reviews

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