Review: A Veil of Spears by Bradley P. Beaulieu
Reviews / April 30, 2018

A Veil of Spears continues the fantastical excitement I’ve grown to expect from this series, starting immediately from where With Blood Upon the Sand left off. If ever there was an under read, under recommended series, I really think this is it. It has so much to offer and is so well written, I am always surprised I don’t hear it discussed more. Reading this book just reinforced that. The Moonless Host has taken a huge hit, but instead of giving up, Çeda devises a plan to try and deal another blow to the Kings, one that might not require so much manpower. Çeda is squarely in the sites of the kings as a threat, and so she needs to evade them while also continuing to scheme against them. The one thing she has going for her is that the kings no longer all trust each other. Divisions are forming, and if they don’t stand and work together, then taking them down will be, if not yet easy, at least less daunting. The divisions can create opportunities, which Çeda can not afford to not take. Since there are more moving parts, all of which have been set up very well, I felt like…

Review: Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman
Reviews / April 18, 2018

Unbury Carol is a wonderful story that takes you into the mind of Carol, a woman with a condition that causes her to have episodes where she appears to be dead. She goes into a coma like state, her breathing slows to the point of being almost undetectable. From the outside, she seems dead, but she remains fully aware of her surroundings. She can hear and remember conversations that are held around her, but she can’t respond. It’s a living nightmare, having your mind and awareness held captive in her paralyzed body. This book is not going to be for everyone. It is a slow burn and the conflict is not an adrenaline rush type of suspense. It is a psychological horror that really focuses on Carol’s character and the fears and risks her condition presents. She lost her first love, James Moxie, due to her condition as he just couldn’t handle the stress of watching the woman he loves die again and again, always worried if she would come back. After this, she was very selective in who she told, worried that other’s may leave as well. After the death of her dear friend John, the only person who…

Review: The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso
Reviews / April 11, 2018

I need to just start out with stating how much I love this book and series. It is a refreshing and lively fantasy that has characters that I just can’t get enough of. The entire concept of a non-magic user being tethered to someone with magic, with the ability to essentially turn their abilities on and off, and tying their lives to one another creates very interesting dynamics. Having Amalia, the heir to the Empire, also be a Falconer puts her in a really unique position. The throw in that Zaira, her falcon, is a fire mage, and things get really interesting. In the last book, we saw Amalia’s relationship with Marcello both start to bloom, but also become stifled as the reality of her duty as heir made it apparent she had to remain open to suitors that could gain the Serene Empire a political advantage. In the Defiant Heir, her relationship with Marcello is further tested and strained as an opportune suitor presents her with enormous possibility politically. It is something she can’t just dismiss. The problem? This suitor is not a normal noble, but a Witch Lord from Vaskandar. Witch Lords are the things of scary childhood…

Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Reviews / April 5, 2018

I have to confess, I’ve had a mixed experience with Rachel Hartman’s other books. I did enjoy Seraphina, but I actually wound up DNFing the sequel. Because of that, I was unsure if I would read another book by the author. However, the description of Tess of the Road convinced me I had to give the book a shot. Luckily, Tess of the Road was an enjoyable read. I think I always will have a soft spot in my heart for female characters that want to break gender stereotypes and expectations and I especially like when they tend to break rules. There are flashback sections that show Tess being quite the troublemaker, or as her sister calls her a “spank-magnet”. But even though she would stir up trouble, she never did so with ill intent. Her breaking point with rules, family and expectations comes on full force and triggers her to forge her own way and take a path unexpected of her as she sets out on her own (using the girl dressed as a boy trope that I tend to be so fond of). Tess is not a perfect character, she does make mistakes and doesn’t always think about…

Guest Post – Noir Fantasy: Cynicism in a World of Magic by R. S. Belcher (plus GIVEAWAY of The Night Dahlia)
Giveaway , Guest Post / April 3, 2018

Today we are excited to host an guest post from R. S. Belcher, author of The Night Dahlia. Sub genres can feel somewhat nebulous at times, so we are very grateful and happy to help get this clearer explanation on what differentiates Noir Fantasy. And as an added bonus, we also have a GIVEAWAY, so be sure to scroll to the bottom and enter. Noir Fantasy: Cynicism in a World of Magic by R.S. Belcher Before we get our knuckles bloody, I wanted to thank the wonderful folks at the Speculative Herald for the privilege of allowing me time and space to talk about the genre of Noir Fantasy and about my new book, The Night Dahlia, coming out April 3rd from Tor Books. The Night Dahlia is the second novel in my “Nightwise” series. The Nightwise books are Noir Fantasy (with some Hardboiled genre thrown in too, but that’s a post for another day). But what exactly distinguishes Noir Fantasy from say Urban Fantasy? In one word, one of my favorite words: cynicism. Noir’s origin references back to a 1945 french pulp magazine and to crime movies of the 1940s and 50s. I think the noir atheistic may have come…

Review: Impostor Syndrome by Mishell Baker
Reviews / March 26, 2018

In Impostor Syndrome, the excitement continues as a stark division is raised between both of the Fey courts as well as the London versus Los Angeles Arcadia Project offices. Millie is set to protect those she cares for, as well as the Arcadia Project as a whole, against all of the upheaval caused by the warring factions. I continue to really enjoy this series. I love Millie and her personality. She’s not perfect, she has some extra challenges in life, and I just love her attitude and sense of humor that she exhibits whenever she has struggles. It helps to keep things from getting too grim or dark. Another thing I like seeing is that the relationships just feel real. The Arcadia Project seems to be full of slightly dysfunctional characters, and as they each face their own challenges, they don’t always get along with one another. (which is completely natural and understandable), but despite this, when it comes down to it, they do all care for each other. So while Millie and her partner Tjuan may not always seem to mesh well personality wise, they have each others backs completely. So when Tjuan has been framed for murder, Millie…

Excerpt and GIVEAWAY: Dayfall by Michael David Ares
Excerpt , Giveaway / March 16, 2018

Today we are excited to host an excerpt of DAYFALL by Michael David Ares, an exciting near future dystopia. Be sure to check out the details below (set in a walled off Manhatten, featuring a bold serial killer and corrupt cops, sounds like an exciting read!). And as an added bonus, we also have a GIVEAWAY. EXCERPT FROM DAYFALL By Michael David Ares About the Book About the Author MICHAEL DAVID ARES is an entrepreneur and educator who has started four community service businesses while writing and editing books for other people on the side. He is now a full-time author, and lives with his family in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Michael is the author of Dayfall.   Giveaway

Review: Torn by Rowenna Miller
Reviews / March 14, 2018

Torn by Rowenna Miller was just a joy to read. I loved the concept of integrating magic with sewing and quickly found myself swept away into the world and character of Sophie. She is innovative, independent and loyal, though her loyalties wind up rather divided, putting her in a hard position. This is set very much in a have/have-nots world with the elite upper class, and the lower working class. The rich have an extreme amount of control. To even attempt to start a business, one must apply for a permit and most applications are quickly denied. And if there is an existing business that you would be competition for? Don’t even think about it. It adds enormous barriers for residents to raise themselves to a better quality of life. Sophie is a minority in addition to being from the lower class part of town, but has worked hard and risen to a respectible position that serves the upper class. She even runs her own shop and even has a couple of employees, which can seem like an unattainable dream for someone with her background and position. Charms were not historically desirable in the culture she is now a part…

Review: Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins
Reviews / March 6, 2018

Daughters of the Storm just grabbed me from the very beginning. I found the story to be fun and well paced, and the range of characters kept it interesting. There are five sisters, all daughters of the King, who is declining in health. Each of these women are incredibly different and each interesting in their own way. The oldest sister, Bluebell, is a fighter that has pretty much shunned any marital or remotely feminine expectations of her. She is an amazing (and well known) warrior that has a very strong personality. I have to admit, I enjoyed her fierceness quite a bit. Rose is a sister that has been married off to help secure peace with a neighboring kingdom. She is a Queen, but she wants something different for her life. She feels trapped and would obviously prefer to flee if given the choice. Ash is interesting as she is quite powerful with magical abilities. She is way more powerful than anyone says she can be, so she keeps some of it to herself. And then there are twins, Ivy who kind of reminded me a bit of Sansa in the early Game of Thrones books (a bit eager for…

EXCERPT: Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe by Marshall Ryan Maresca (Plus GIVEAWAY!)
Guest Post / March 5, 2018

Today we are excited to host an excerpt of LADY HENTERMAN’S WARDROBE by Marshall Ryan Maresca. Of Maresca’s three series, I have to confess that this one is my favorite so far. I mean, thieves and heists and a criminal underground? It’s just absolute fun. And as an added bonus, we also have a giveaway for THE HOLVER ALLEY CREW, the first in this series. EXCERPT FROM LADY HENTERMAN’S WARDROBE By Marshall Ryan Maresca About the Book About the Author Marshall Ryan Maresca grew up in upstate New York and studied film and video production at Penn State. He now lives in Austin with his wife and son. His work appeared in Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas. He also has had several short plays produced and has worked as a stage     Giveaway