Tag Archives: Steven R. Boyett

Link Salad (1)

Link Salad button copyWelcome to Link Salad! I know lots of bloggers do roundup posts with links to interesting internet content, and I’ve been coming across so much relevant information lately, that I wanted to start my own roundup of sorts. I’m not sure how often Link Salad will appear, but I’m hoping to make this a weekly feature. Here are some of the fun bookish things I found around the web this past week:

fifty-shades-of-grey-hardcover_510x329Fifty Shades of Grey is a book that just won’t go away. It’s still in the news, and now, after achieving bestsellerdom in paper and digital formats, it’s finally going to be published in, ahem, hardcover. Here’s the article from EW’s Shelf Life.

The Witch SistersAuthor Alma Katsu has written a new short story set in the world of her The Taker trilogy, and it’s only 99 cents on Amazon. I’ve read and reviewed the first two books in the trilogy, The Taker and The Reckoning, and loved them. Book three, The Descent, won’t be out until 2014, but in the meantime The Witch Sisters will help you bridge the gap until book three arrives! Click here to purchase it now!

Subterranean PressSteven R. Boyett, most fabulous writer of fantasy, horror and speculative fiction, has a free novelette in this month’s Subterranean Press called Hard Silver. He’s calling it “fantasy Western,” which is one of my new favorite genre mash-ups. Boyett’s last novel was Mortality Bridge (reviewed here), but it came out almost a year and a half ago, so I’m happy to see something new from him. You can read it for free here.

Madmans jkt Des1.inddAny aspiring authors out there? Are you trying to find an agent? Then you’ll be interested to hear what newly published author Megan Shepherd’s experience at querying her manuscript was like. Megan’s debut The Madman’s Daughter, a retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau,  had a typically bumpy road to publication, and she gives YA Highway the scoop on how she finally landed an agent. You can read her story here.

Ghost Planet biggerAuthor Sharon Lynn Fisher tells USA Today the top five reasons she loves to blend science fiction and romance, another mash-up genre that I’m loving. Ghost Planet is her sci-fi/romance debut, and I loved it! (You can read my review here.) Check out the USA Today article here.

Shades of EarthBeth Revis, author of the Across the Universe Trilogy, did something unique to promote the last book in the series, Shades of Earth. She and her publisher launched a copy of the book into space. Yes, you read that correctly. You can see the video on EW‘s Shelf Life here.  Is it real? Is it fake? I’m not sure how they did it (if in fact they did), but it sure was a cool idea!

And just because this is so damn funny, I had to throw in this dog video (which has nothing to do with books, but I guarantee it will make you laugh…):

That’s it for this week! Thanks for stopping by:)

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Tammy’s Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds in Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and every week they come up with a new Top Ten theme. This week’s theme is pretty cool! To come up with list, I simply thought back to the books I’ve read that gave me a tingly feeling that I only get when I’ve been transported to someplace extraordinary.  For the most part, the books mentioned are fantasy or science fiction, and the settings are invented. But they all have one thing in common: I remember exactly where I was when I read them. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Hogwarts (and all the other locations in the books) from the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling. This was the first thing that popped into my head when I was thinking of vivid worlds. Rowling created literal magic with her seven Harry Potter books, and I can’t imagine a top ten list without mentioning Hogwarts!

2. Lyra’s Oxford from His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass are three of my all-time favorite books. They mostly take place in Oxford, England, and alternate between the real Oxford and a magical version of the city.

3. The desert world of The Dark Tower  series by Stephen King. Yes, here it is again on this blog. The Dark Tower. Best series ever! King’s desolate wasteland of a desert is so beautifully drawn and is the perfect setting for this complicated and epic story. The setting changes throughout the series, and each location is as vivid as the last.

4. New Orleans, Louisiana in Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice. Rice’s seminal vampire tale set the standard for the romantic vampire stories of today, and her descriptions of the French Quarter in the 1800’s are perfectly suited to the story and characters. You can practically smell the air of New Orleans in this book!

5. The world of Hyperion in Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Here is another series I keep going back to on this blog. I can’t help it, the best books keep resurfacing. If I mention them often enough perhaps I can get more people to read them! Hyperion is science fiction at its best. Simmons is amazing, and his take on The Canterbury Tales will leave you speechless. Seriously.

6. New Crobuzon from Perdido Street Station and The Scar by China Miéville. Miéville is a true poet, and this fantastic world comes alive in the pages of these books. I have to admit some of Miéville’s work has left me cold, but these two stories rank among my favorite books of all time. Please read them!

7. Great Britain from The Eyre Affair (and other Thursday Next books) by Jasper Fforde. This fun series from Fforde takes place in an alternate 1980’s England, where characters from literature exist inside and outside of the pages of their books. In this first book of the series, Literary Detective Thursday Next must track down Jane Eyre when she is kidnapped from the pages of her book.

8. Manchester, England from Vurt and Pollen by Jeff Noon. Another science fiction series I love, the strange and drug-infested world that Noon has created is unlike anything I’ve read before. Vurt is a drug, feathers that you put on your tongue. The different colored feathers give you different types of highs and lows, and some of them are extremely dangerous. I felt like I was on drugs the whole time I was reading these books. What better example of a vivid world could there be?

9. Hell in Mortality Bridge by Steven R. Boyett. I’ve never read anything like Boyett’s ghastly descriptions of Hell and what one man experiences when he takes an extremely long trek there and back to save his wife.  Based on the story of Orpheus and other legends, Boyett forces you to watch all the torments of Hell, and I guarantee you won’t be able to look away.

10. Wisconsin from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. It may seem like a strange choice, but this book had such a strong impact on me that I had to include it. Edgar Sawtelle is my only mainstream fiction title, but the lonely farmland in Wroblewski’s first novel plays a big part in the story, and this strange and sad retelling of Hamlet is one of my favorite books ever. And I mean that!

Please let me know your Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds! I’d love to see what you’ve picked.

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In My Mailbox #2

In My Mailbox is a weekly event hosted by The Story Siren, and it is a great way to share the books you’ve recently received with other book bloggers. I was very excited to find this book in my mailbox a couple of days ago:

Starters by Lissa Price. Received an ARC from the publisher. Release date 3/12/12.  I entered a bunch of contests to win this book, and I finally got lucky! It’s been piling up really good reviews from the blog community, and I’m dying to read it! Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver. Released 2/28/12. Purchased.  Here’s another book that’s received stellar reviews, and I’m afraid to say I’m behind the curve, because I still haven’t had time to read Delirium. So it may be awhile before I get to it, but I’m very happy it’s now sitting on the shelves. Here’s Goodreads description:

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

Vampire Empire Book Two: The Rift Walker by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith. Released 9/20/11. Purchased.  Once again, I have bought another sequel in a series when I haven’t yet read the first book.  I suppose “In My Mailbox” is not only a way to organize new books that I receive, but a reminder of how far behind I am with my TBR pile! I’m so excited to read this series. Here’s what it’s about:

Princess Adele struggles with a life of marriage and obligation as her Equatorian Empire and their American Republic allies stand on the brink of war against the vampire clans of the north. However, the alliance’s horrific strategy for total victory drives Adele to abandon her duty and embark on a desperate quest to keep her nation from staining its hands with genocide. Reunited with her great love, the mysterious adventurer known to the world as the Greyfriar, Adele is pursued by her own people as well as her vengeful husband, senator Clark. With the human alliance in disarrray, Prince Cesare, lord of the British vampire clan, seizes the initiative and strikes at the very heart of Equatoria.

As Adele labors to bring order to her world, she learns more about the strange powers she exhibited in the north. Her teacher, Mamoru, leads a secret cabal of geomancers who believe Adele is the one who can touch the vast power of the Earth that surges through ley lines and wells up at the rifts where the lines meet. These energies are the key to defeating the enemy of mankind, and if Princess Adele could ever bring this power under her command, she could be death to vampires. But such a victory will also cost the life of Adele’s beloved Greyfriar.

The Rift Walkeris the second book in a trilogy of high adventure and alternative history. Combining rousing pulp action with steampunk style, the Vampire Empire series brings epic politcal themes to life within a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice, and heroism.

The Urban Fantasy Anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle & Joe R. Lansdale. August 2011.  Purchased.  My friend Steve Boyett has a story in this anthology. That alone was enough to get me to purchase this collection, which is loaded with big-name fantasy writers, such as Neil Gaiman, Tim Powers, and Charles De Lint. Here’s what Goodreads has to say:

Star-studded and comprehensive, this imaginative anthology brings a myriad of modern fantasy voices under one roof. Previously difficult for readers to discover in its new modes, urban fantasy is represented here in all three of its distinct styles—playful new mythologies, sexy paranormal romances, and gritty urban noir. Whether they feature tattooed demon-hunters, angst-ridden vampires, supernatural gumshoes, or pixelated pixies, these authors—including Patricia Briggs, Neil Gaiman, and Charles de Lint—mash-up traditional fare with pop culture, creating iconic characters, conflicted moralities, and complex settings. The result is starkly original fiction that has broad-based appeal and is immensely entertaining.

Exiled by M. R. Merrick. August 2011.  Purchased.  I can’t remember where I came across this book.  It sounded intriguing, and it’s garnered lots of great reviews on Goodreads, so I decided to try it.  Turns out it’s self-published, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the story feels all-too-familiar, and the writing is just so-so.  At least the cover’s pretty! Here’s the story description:

Chase Williams is a demon hunter in the Circle, or at least he was supposed to be. On his fifteenth birthday, Chase stepped up to the altar to claim his elemental power, but it never came. Elemental magic is passed down to a hunter through the bloodline, but on Chase’s birthday, the bloodline stopped.

Exiled without the Circle’s protection, Chase has spent two years trying to survive a world riddled with half-demons and magic. When he has a run in with a frightened and seemingly innocent demon, he learns the Circle’s agenda has changed: the Circle plans to unlock a portal and unleash pure-blood demons into the world. Vowing to stop them, and knowing he can’t do it alone, Chase forms a reluctant alliance with Rayna — a sexy witch with an attitude and a secret.

In their attempt to stop them, Chase and Rayna find themselves in the middle of the Circle’s plan, leaving one of them to decide what their friendship is worth, and the other’s life depending on it.

Auraria by Tim Westover. Release date July 2012.  I received a review request from the publisher, QW Publishers, and I was especially intrigued because Westover is also the author of a book of short stories written in the International language of Esperanto. I had to look that up, since I’ve never heard of it. Turns out Esperanto was created as “an easy-to-learn and politically neutral language that transcends nationality and would foster peace and international understanding between people with different regional and/or national languages.” (from Wikipedia) Wow, who knew? Am I the only one who’s never heard of this?? Luckily for me, Auraria is written in English.  Here’s what Goodreads says:

Water spirits, moon maidens, haunted pianos, headless revenants, and an invincible terrapin that lives under the mountains. None of these distract James Holtzclaw from his employer’s mission: to turn the fading gold-rush town of Auraria, GA, into a first-class resort and drown its fortunes below a man-made lake. But when Auraria’s peculiar people and problematic ghosts collide with his own rival ambitions, Holtzclaw must decide what he will save and what will be washed away.

Taking its inspiration from a real Georgia ghost town, Auraria is steeped in the folklore of the Southern Appalachians, where the tensions of natural, supernatural and artificial are still alive.

What have you received in your mailbox this week?

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MORTALITY BRIDGE by Steven R. Boyett – Review

If you’re planning a trip to Hell to get back your lost love, the best way to get there is by Checker Cab, because if you live in Los Angeles, the entrance to Hell is probably not where you think it is.  This particular cab driver, however, knows the way and will get you there, if not without incident, at least in one piece.  Welcome to the singular mind of Steve Boyett, where the souls of the dead are feathers, the torments of Hell are worse than you thought, and it just might be possible to save someone with a song.

Mortality Bridge is the story of Niko, an ex-junkie musician whose fame has come from literally making a deal with the devil (actually, an agent of the devil named Phil). After achieving success and some amount of happiness, Niko’s girlfriend Jemma falls ill and dies, and like Orpheus before him, he sets out on a journey into Hell to try to get her back. That’s the short version. In reality, Niko’s odyssey is a long, painful trip through gleefully rendered torment.  As Niko proceeds through the various plains and mountains, rivers and oceans of “The Park,” as its inhabitants fondly refer to Hell, Boyett’s unrelenting descriptions of torture boggle the mind, and like being compelled to look at a car crash on the side of the road, I found myself reading certain horrible passages over and over again.  At one point it occurred to me that once Niko got to where he was going, he would have to go back through it all in order to get out.  (Not to worry, readers, the return trip is fairly swift.)  Niko is aided along the way by a variety of Hell’s denizens, including demons and acquaintances from his past.  On a speeding train we meet Nikodemus, Niko’s own demon, a strangely loveable character who embodies all of Niko’s past mistakes and is now determined to help him get home.

The story moves at breakneck speed from start to finish, punctuated by flashbacks from Niko’s past as he reminisces about his fractured relationship with Jemma, life as a drug-addled musician, and the sudden and terrible death of his brother Van.  But the horror of Hell is tempered by Steve’s mastery of prose.  His lovely, uncommon sentence structure is especially poignant as Niko muses on his past with Jemma:

“…in his heart he’d felt a driven nail of terror because she already loved him more than ever he would her.” 

It is sentences like this that enable the reader to understand how keenly Niko feels for those he has failed. And in the background, like an unsteady pulse, Niko’s music accompanies him on his journey, as references to the blues are scattered throughout the story. (The chapter names, in fact, are all blues song titles.)

I won’t tell you what happens to Niko.  You’ll just have to read Mortality Bridge for yourself.  I will tell you this, however:  it was worth the painful trip to Hell and back just to get to the end.  Niko’s story may end on page 417, but his journey has just begun.

Subterranean Press, 2011. Limited Edition. Cover art by J.K. Potter. Also available in paperback and e-book versions.

More great reading from Steve Boyett (available in paperback and e-book):

Visit the Mortality Bridge website here.

You can visit Steve’s blog here.

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