Broken Empires: Aftermath by E.A. Copen – a review

I continue to marvel at Copen’s versatility as an author. With Broken Empires, she begins a space opera. I actually had to do some research on how space operas work and how they’re formatted. With that said, here’s my review.

Copen begins her description of the book with three words: Soldier, Traitor, Savior. We soon learn that she’s describing Timothy Val. The Senjele Empire is restless, and rebellion is breaking out in some of the outer planets. Val is one of those sent to quell the rebellion on the backwater planet of Toria. Ethical questions begin immediately as members of Val’s squad wonder about shooting people who are part of their empire. Once the rebellious planet is subdued, Val is faced with another ethical dilemma about how to deal with the rebellious subjects. His response sets the rest of the book in motion.

Copen, as an author, reveals a lot about humanity. In her other books, she veils the message by sending it through the monsters of urban fantasy (Judah Black series, Beasts of Babylon). In Broken Empire: Aftermath, the message comes from a humanoid species forcing the reader to think about the best and the worst of humanity. Val becomes involved in a web of political intrigue that involves the emperor, his sons, his wife, a senator who is part of the revolution, in his own words, and a complicated slave belonging to the senator. All this plays against the background of Val’s family history.

If things aren’t bad enough for the Senjelens, relationships with the Erolyians, long time enemies, continue to worsen. Intrigue abounds in the Erolyian Empire as well and the Emperor of Erolyia seems to have some interesting powers. Bring in an unwelcomed birth and the emperor as a distraught father and husband, and the possibilities are endless.

One of Copen’s strengths in my eyes is that readers always want the story to go on. She weaves amazing stories that you don’t want to stop. Aftermath fits that pattern well, perhaps too well. Without giving too much away, the ending is closer to “The Empire Strikes Back” than “A New Hope.” Honestly, I was hoping for a resolution to one of the story lines, but I understand that Space Opera is like that. The good news is that more books are in the planning stage according to rumors I’ve heard!

The above disappointment aside, I really enjoyed this book. It has a few language issues that bother me, but most people aren’t as easily offended as I am. If you can’t live with profane language, you may have some issues with the book. Most of the time, though, they don’t come into play. I can recommend this book because Copen, in spreading her wings even further than she has in the past, plays to her strength and develops a great story that makes it hard to put the book down.

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Dragon Award Nominations – Make Yours Now

Dragon Award Nominations – Make Yours Now

I had the privilege of going to Dragon Con over the Labor Day weekend this year. Yes, I should have been at home helping with hurricane cleanup, but I wanted to go to have the chance to learn about writing, and the marketing of writing, from some of the best. And that I did. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make Dragon Con next year, but I would really enjoy the opportunity.

One of the highlights of Dragon Con comes during the Dragon Con Awards in various categories. One of the surprise nominees the last two years has been R.R. Virdi for his books Grave Measures, and Dangerous Ways. Dangerous Ways was just announced as the “Book of the Year” for 2016 by Drop of Ink reviews. Both books were nominated in the Fantasy category – they’re Urban Fantasy masterpieces. I had the chance to meet Virdi and truly enjoyed him as a person. Another author I had the chance to meet was D.R. Perry whose book, A Change in Crime, was nominated in the category of Alternative History. Perry whose series on Providence Paranormal College is highly whimsical, was equally skilled at this Prohibition era crime thriller – with a twist. She is also a wonderful person.

I mention this because you can begin making nominations for the Dragon Awards for the 2018 convention. You can only nominate once in any category, so use your nominations wisely. You can go back and nominate in another category later if you come across a worthy nominee. I’m going to be honest with you and share my nominees so far. First, in the Fantasy section, I’m pretty sure that R.R. Virdi’s newest release, Grave Dealings, is one of the best books of the year and is a worthy candidate. I seriously considered E.A. Copen’s book, Playing With Fire, for this category, but I stayed with Virdi’s book because I love it just a little more than Copen’s book. I’d also like to see Virdi get a third nomination. Could the third time be the charm? Speaking of Copen, though, her book Beasts of Babylon is awesome and a worthy nominee in the horror category. Beasts of Babylon was just named book of the year for 2017 by Drop of Ink reviews. I think this book deserves the nomination and support. I had a chance to meet Copen at Dragon Con as well and found her also to be a great person.

There’s one other book I will probably nominate: Wiser Guys by D.R. Perry. I haven’t read it yet, but if it’s the quality of A Change in Crime then I’ll be happy to lend it the recognition it deserves.

So here’s my suggestions. First, read the books I’ve mentioned to see if they’re worthy of nominating in your view. If not, then nominate your favorite books in these categories. Second, make the nominations. Third, Dragon Con is an overwhelming experience, but let me suggest that you look into going if you like those convention experiences. The experience was amazing.

Just a note on how I linked: Links on the author’s names go to their websites. Links on their books go to their Amazon pages so you can see all their work.

Author Interviews – R. R. Virdi

Author Interviews – R. R. Virdi

I didn’t get a chance to interview Mr. Virdi before the release of Grave Dealings, but two other authors did. I’m going to post excerpts from their interviews, and then send you to their page. Both are successful authors in their own realm. First, the interview from E. A. Copen, author of the Judah Black series and The Beasts of Babylon:

E.A: First of all, welcome and  tell us a little about your new book. 

R.R. Virdi: Grave Dealings is book three in the Dragon Award-nominated urban fantasy series, The Grave Report. It picks up with Vincent Graves waking up in a new body in Queens, New York, and already hunted by the paranormal instead of doing the hunting. No reprieve for our free spirit and paranormal investigator. He’s got 57 hours to find who’s behind a string of devilish bargains that’s leaving a line of dead bodies.

E.A.: It was really exciting to read! Now, I don’t want to spoil anything, but this book has a really unique monster. Can you tell us how you decide which monsters to use and where you find them? 

R.R. Virdi: My passion of mythology. I love reading about it all the time anyhow. That gives me a near-encyclopedic knowledge to draw from, and then I just pluck what seems most fun to me, whatever I can twist.

The full interview can be found on Copen’s website.

The second interview was conducted by D. R. Perry, author of the Dragon Award nominated A Change in Time and the whimsical urban fantasy series about Providence Paranormal College.

D.R.- You’re ready to write and have your pen and paper or computer or microphone ready. What else do you need during your session?

R.R.- Music (without lyrics) really helps me focus. I’m ADHD, so the constant engagement without distracting lyrics helps me tune out other things and set a constant workflow/pattern. I prefer what some people call, “Epic music.” It’s bombastic, orchestral, evocative, stuff from movies, games, anime.

You can read the full interview on Perry’s website.

Book 3 of the Grave Report is COMING SOON!!!!

I don’t think there’s anything more exciting for an author than a new book release. I shared my excitement about E. A. Copen’s newest book “Playing with Fire” and told you that two of my favorite authors were about to release new books. The next book to be released will happen on November 13 when R. R. Virdi releases the third book in the Grave Report called “Grave Dealings.” The kindle book is available to pre-order right now at the link to the book above. I’ll be releasing my review of the book on Tuesday, November 13, but I wanted to let you know that this book was coming.

Virdi has become one of my favorite authors. Were he to release a phone book, or a cook book, I would be one of the first in line to buy it. I can’t give you any details of his new book, yet, but I can tell you what Mr. Virdi said about Grave Dealings on his preview page.

Don’t make deals with the paranormal. They’re better at it than you, and they never play fair.

Paranormal investigator and soul without a body, Vincent Graves, did just that—a deal made in desperation. Now it’s coming back to bite him in the middle of a case.
He has 57 hours to investigate a string of deaths involving people who’ve made some devilish bargains. Too bad devils don’t deal in good faith. It’d be easy enough, if he didn’t have to deal with things such as:

  • Being hunted through the streets of Queens by a dark elf with a motorcycle fetish.
  • Ending up the target of a supernatural hit.
  • An old acquaintance dragging him to a paranormal ball where he could end up on the menu.
  • And having one of his closest guarded secrets brought to light…

    Not great for a tight clock, because if he doesn’t get to the bottom of this case in time, Vincent and company might just lose their souls.

    Dirty deals are never done dirt cheap. And the supernatural always collect—big!

Again, trying to avoid spoilers, but I can tell you that this may be Virdi’s best book yet. I can’t wait to share my review of this book with you. If you like Urban Fantasy, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t know I liked it until “Grave Beginnings,” if you like Detective stories with a twist, you need to pre-order this book now! And, if you want to get a head start on the deaths and lives of Vincent Graves, you can check out the series page here. Go ahead and order them all. You’ll be glad you did.

Copen Lights It Up Again!

I’ve become an E. A. Copen Fan. If she writes it, I’m reading it! You may have caught my first review of her first book, Guilty By Association. If you haven’t, I provided a convenient link for you to check it out. Guilty By Association is the first Judah Black book. Book number four, Playing With Fire, has just gone live, so I’m now allowed to release my review of this book. The title of this post should make it clear that I love this book! This review has minor spoilers, but you still have to read it for the important part of the story!

Judah Black is back and you’ll want to get it soon! In the 4th installment of the Judah Black series, Playing with Fire, Judah’s called to the scene of a fire, and runs into a startling situation as she sees two friends, Gideon Reed and Ed, fighting to the death. When she arrives, one of the friends turns on her and the fun begins. As the fight continues, Sal, Judah’s werewolf boyfriend and mentor to her werewolf son, jumps into the fray and is severely injured by the blade swung by Reed. Ed was singed by the fire thrown by Reed. In the confusion after Sal’s injury, the sword slinger and fire flinger escapes.

As the investigation begins, Judah is pitted against a group called the “Tribulation Adventists” – a so-called Christian fundamentalist organization and Reed is in cahoots with them. The problem this group poses becomes personal for Ed as he reveals that Mara has come under the sway of this group which ostensibly seeks to include supernaturals in the ranks of Christianity. We meet Espinoza who is part of the Concho County task force for Supernaturals, a group created by the sheriff to help Judah. As the investigation continues, Judah discovers treachery at high levels of government and, in the process, we learn a bit about how she got transferred to Paint Rock, Texas.

While Sal lies wounded in the hospital, we realize that the sword that Reed struck him with is enchanted, and becomes a part of the struggle for power between Judah and another old nemesis. She learns a startling secret about this sword and why it’s become the centerpiece of this battle. Meanwhile, because Sal is dealing with his enchanted wounds, we see Ed transforming into a major player who’s beginning to come of age in this story. I really enjoyed the development of his character in this book.

This is the most intense Judah Black story so far, and you won’t be disappointed. Important people die in this story – I won’t tell you who. You’ll have to read the book to find out. While Copen doesn’t go on a killing spree of Gearge R.R. Martin proportions, I teared up as old “friends” died. Magick flows throughout the book, sometimes from those whom you’d least expect to show it. And, in a horrifying turn of events, extreme measures are taken to save the life of one of the characters. This book was well worth waiting for. I recommend it highly.

While there are a few spoilers in this review, I’ve tried to avoid major spoilers. I wish I could say more about what happens! There are two personal issues I need to point out: 1) I’m one of the few readers who has actually lived in Paint Rock. I’m predisposed to like these stories. The Paint Rock of the book is different from the Paint Rock I lived in – but that makes sense given the whole back story and situation. 2) I’m always leery when people start bringing in “Christian fundamentalist” organizations as the bad guy. Followers of Christ are “my people” and as the Tribulation Adventists were introduced, all sorts of warning bells rang in my head. Copen deals with the issues in a very respectful manner as she unveils the true dynamics of this group. My personal commentary on this is that it’s easy for any manipulative group to claim to be a “Christian” group by taking a few verses of things Jesus said out of context and using them to control others. Copen revealed the manipulation in a way that shows this group isn’t really a Christian group. (I guess that’s a bit of a spoiler, but I did it anyway.)

It’s Coming! Time to Get Fired Up!!!

Almost a year ago, someone pointed me to a series of books starring a hard-nosed, female, supernatural investigator by the name of Judah Black. Her job is to investigate crimes committed by or against supernatural beings: werewolves, zombies, vampires, fairies, etc. I had read the beginning of another series in the Urban Fantasy genre, more on that in a couple of weeks, so I was more open to the books than I might have been before.

I fell in love with the books almost immediately! I love seeing a strong female lead portrayed so effectively. Of course, before I saw how well E. A. Copen wrote the story of Judah Black, I was drawn to the setting: Paint Rock, Texas. “Where is Paint Rock?” you might ask. My standard answer is “Go to the middle of nowhere and take a left.” I know that because I used to live I Paint Rock when I was pastor of First Baptist Church there. For a small town, it’s a great place. The people are wonderful. Copen doesn’t deal with the people who live there, because of the nature of her books, but she does an amazing job of showing the physical attributes of the area and I have enjoyed reading about my old stomping grounds.

I’m bringing this up now because….insert drumroll here….Judah Black #4 is being released on October 31! This book is called “Playing with Fire” and I can tell you that Copen does an amazing job of continuing the story. I’m excited that this is coming out now! I’ve had the privilege of reading an Advanced Reader Copy, ARC, and I told my wife that she‘ll want to buy it the instant it comes out! (I don’t let her read ARCs when I get them, but she’s chomping at the bit to read this book.) I will be posting my review on the 31st.  If you haven’t read any of E. A. Copen’s books, let me suggest you check out the Judah Black series. You can find her Amazon page at E. A. Copen. You’ll notice a couple other books outside of the series. The Fairchild Chronicles is good, but, to be honest, her later work is much better. “Beasts of Babylon” shows how much she’s grown as a writer in a very short time. That’s an awesome book and introduced me to Western Horror – a genre that combine two genres I didn’t like before.

If you’ve read her books before and you just want a shot at “Playing with Fire,” the pre-order link is here. If you pre-order the Kindle version, it will be delivered as soon as possible so you don’t have to wait to read it. Order now….don’t get burned.

Author Interview with E. A. Copen

Leah Chiasson shares an interview with E. A. Copen. It’s an interesting read.

In December of 2016, I released my first book into the world. Little did I know that there was a lot more work involved in self-publishing than just good writing and a pretty cover. One of the first things I did was join a Facebook group for urban fantasy authors. It was such a warm and welcoming place to visit and I discovered not only a great support network, but some amazing authors.

One of the first authors to stand out for me was E. A. Copen. She currently writes for several series, including the Judah Black series and her latest weird west book, Beasts of Babylon, while keeping us urban fantasy authors in line on her Facebook group.

She likes cats, coffee, snowy mornings, accents and Tarantino movies.

As we all should.


What drove you to write your first book?

I write the stories I want to read…

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