The Tower of Zhaal by C. T. Phipps

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Crossroad Press (2017)

Length: 9 hours

Series: Book 2 Cthulhu Armageddon

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 and works OK as a stand alone. It would definitely be enhanced by having previously read Book 1.

Set in and around a post-apocalyptic Massachusetts, John Henry Booth and Mercury Halsey now work as security for merchant caravans. The world was reformed some decades back when the Old Ones and aliens took up residence on Earth, nearly wiping out humans. Unfortunately, most of these new arrivals found humans useful in some way or another, such as interbreeding or as a food source. John is undergoing a transformation into an unknown something he fears and perhaps the University can cure him. However, their assistance comes at a price. They must hunt down and kill a powerful sorcerer (wizard? magician?) Marcus Whatley, who is determined to released the last of the Old Ones, potentially dooming both humanity and Earth.

Yeah. John and Mercury have their work cut out for them.

The end of Book 1, Cthulhu Armageddon, saw the death of much of the cast. Here, we get several fresh faces and, yes, many of them perish in interesting ways before the end of the book. In fact, several folks from the merchant train John & Mercury are guarding die right away when the cultists of Yith show up unexpectedly. Professor Harvey Armitage of the Miskatonic University wanted a word with John & Mercury and this was his douchey way to getting their attention. Right off the bat, I didn’t care for Armitage and I hoped that John & Mercury found an interesting way to kill him off. And yet…. yet Armitage does has a wealth of knowledge and some healing powers. Perhaps this messed up world needs him… for now.

Mercury used to be a professional torturer and she’s an expert on EBEs, these extra biological entities. So she’s a pretty interesting character that has had an intense career path. In this book, she continues to grow with some training in the magical arts. She’s done all she can for John as a doctor (of sorts) short of killing him (if that’s possible). Perhaps the magical arts are the only way to assist John in controlling or containing his mutation.

I’m interested in seeing how things turn out for the side character Jackie Howard. She’s the teen-aged adopted daughter of John and Mercury and she’s half ghoul. Yes, ghoul. Like Richard Jameson from Book 1, she likes human flesh. But she’s cool. Don’t worry. Donated meat only. There’s this great scene between her and John where John is explaining why they are leaving her behind instead of taking her on this insanely dangerous mission. Lots of great lines in that scene where Jackie acknowledges that John & Mercury care while also calling them on their BS.

Jessica O’Reilly, John’s previous girlfriend, shows up later in the book, as well as his ex-wife. As if that doesn’t make his life complicated enough, his ex-wife is a psychic and she can tell that John is hiding his true nature from all but his closest companions. John also has a bit of a crisis of conscious when he and his team end up in a kind of paradise that relies on slave labor. John was a slave for about a year previously, so he has some strong feelings on the subject. Yet this labor pool is made up of these squid faced entities that could happily slaughter all humans planet wide if they were inclined to… and weren’t being held in slavery. So he’s got 99 problems along with his love life.

The ending was complete with great imagery and phrases like, ‘We must summon Cthulhu!’. There’s plenty of drama and yet things work out. I hope we get another book in this series because there’s plenty more for John to explore even as he goes through his own evolution.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer really shows off his skills with this book. This story is full of lots of nearly unpronounceable names such as Nyarlathotep and Shak’ta’hadron and Kafer has to pronounce them all with consistency and accuracy throughout the book. There’s also plenty of crazy cult ramblings in a nearly unpronounceable language, which Kafer makes the characters sound fluent in. I was impressed by the dexterity of this tongue multiple times throughout this book. He’s great at keeping the characters distinct and also imbuing the text with emotion as needed.

What I Liked: Great cover art; great narration; I just love this wild weird west thing happening in Massachusetts; Mercury’s a great character; Jackie could become a very interesting character; John’s internal battle with whatever is taking over; the answer to the slavery issue John faces.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this is a great sequel to Book 1!

What Others Think:

Shoggoth.net

Beauty in Ruins

The Audio Book Reviewer

Brian’s Book Blog

Audiobook Giveaway! The Worlds of C. T. Phipps

Welcome audiofiles! It is my pleasure to have Charles Phipps on the blog once again! He’s already released 4 new audiobooks this year and his latest three are up for grabs in this giveaway! Want to know more about the mind behind these entertaining stories? Then check out his Dab of Darkness interview. To enter the giveaways, scroll all the way to bottom. Phipps is generously offering up 3 audiobook copies of each of the 3 books, via Audible.com and Audible.co.uk. In fact, if we all spread the word and there’s a big response, he just may up that to 5 copies a book. And yes, you can win more than 1 book.

Now here’s something new from Phipps – Agent G: Infiltrator. It’s a delicious spy flick with some future tech, betrayals, and a conflicted main character. The notorious Jeffrey Kafer narrates this book.

In a world where virtually any death can be bought for the right price, follow the path of a high-tech assassin searching for answers to questions he shouldn’t be asking along with his next target. Agent G is a Letter, one of the Society’s 26 weapons for hire.

Unfortunately for the Society, G is starting to think for himself.

Unfortunately for G, he’s in the middle of infiltrating a rival organization and is running out of people he can trust.

Audible ~ Amazon

 Ah ha! I was hoping there would be a sequel to Cthulhu Armageddon. Now here it is! The Tower of Zhaal is out! Narrated by the nefarious Jeffrey Kafer.

It has been a year since John Henry Booth’s exile from New America and the fall of the Black Cathedral. Cursed with a slow transformation into a monster, he has begun a doomed relationship with fellow escapee Mercury Halsey as they seek some way to arrest his transformation.

Dubious hope arrives in the form of the University, the deranged scientists and cultists descended from the staff of Miskatonic University. Except their offer of help comes at a price. Having sold themselves to ancient aliens called the Yith, they wish John and Mercury to join a group of rogues in hunting down a wayward member of their faculty: a man who intends to release the last of the sleeping Great Old Ones on an already ravaged planet. If they’re telling the truth, John and Mercury will be heroes. If.

The Tower of Zhaal is the second novel of the Cthulhu Armageddon series, a post-apocalyptic continuation of H.P. Lovecraft’s popular Cthulhu Mythos.

Audible ~ Amazon

Yes! The fourth book is out! The Science of Supervillainy – I’ve really enjoyed this series so far and I look forward to seeing what happens next to Gary Karkofsky and Falcon Crest City. Narrated by the infamous Jeffrey Kafer.

Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless: The Supervillain Without Mercy (TM) returns in the fourth volume of the popular Supervillainy Saga. Having discovered the world’s greatest superhero slain by his doppelganger from another reality, Merciful: The Supervillain with Mercy (TM), and the arrogant President Omega, Gary dedicates himself to overthrowing both. Unfortunately, this is harder than it looks since Merciful has all of Gary’s genre savviness while President Omega has the entire brainwashed United States military behind him. In the end, though, there can be only one ruler of the world and two of these three feuding villains will have to go.

Audible ~ Amazon

Places to Find C. T. Phipps

Blog

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

GIVEAWAY!!!!

Phipps is generously offering up 3 Audible.com/UK audiobook copies of each of the 3 books. In fact, if we all spread the word and there’s a big response, he just may up that to 5 copies a book. And yes, you can win more than 1 book. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: Which book(s) are you interested in? Do you have an Audible.com or Audible.co.uk account? Giveaway ends May 16th, 2017 at midnight.

Agent G: Infiltrator Giveaway

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The Tower of Zhaal Giveaway

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The Science of Supervillainy Giveaway

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The Best & Worst of 2016

2016 is finally over! It was a tough year for me, even right up to the end where I caught a nasty holiday bug. I did read a lot of great books last year. According to my Goodreads profile, I read 208 books, nearly 100 less than the year before. I blame my new found love of Netflix bingewatching for that. Here are my favorite 11 books of the year, in no particular order (no counting rereads).

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

BrownRedRising

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ClineReadyPlayerOne

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

ButcherSkinGame

Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave

Tofu will help me hide the bodies.
Tofu will help me hide the bodies.

Anne Manx on Amazonia by Larry Weiner

WeinerAnneManxOnAmazonia

Chapelwood by Cherie Priest

PriestChapelwood

The Green Children by Domino Finn

FinnTheGreenChildren

Dragon Gate by Gary Jonas (Jonathan Shade #3)

JonasDragonGate

Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword by Kiera Gillett

GillettZariaFierceAndTheEnchantedDrakelandSword

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Chupa being weird.
Chupa being weird.

Cthulhu Armageddon by C. T. Phipps

PhippsCthulhuArmageddon

I did some rereads this past year – The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (yep, from the beginning), Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (I’ve been reading with a great group of on-line friends and we’re up to Book 7 now), Dune by Frank Herbert (just because it’s awesome), Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delaney (I read this in paperback some years ago but now it’s available as an audiobook and it is incredibly well done).

Here are the top 3 books that didn’t do it for me:

Lover Eternal by J. R. Ward

WardLoverEternal

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

ColeAHungerLikeNoOther

Hair Power by Piers Anthony

AnthonyHairPower

I also joined a romance book club. I’ve never really enjoyed romance novels. I don’t mind if a book has romance in it but the main plot has to be something more than finding true love or getting laid for me to really enjoy it. So, I thought perhaps I was wrong in binning romance books all together and pretty much ignoring them. With that in mind, I joined this lovely group of people and gave the romance genre a real shot at winning my heart. We read several paranormal and urban fantasy romances, a few contemporary romances (some with suspense and one with BDSM), and 1 historical fiction romance. In general, I was underwhelmed. Some of the books did exceed my expectations and for romance novels they were good, but none of them made it into my top 50. Let me slightly amend that. I had the opportunity to host twice, which means I picked the book we read. Both times I picked books I had not previously read and one of them was Darkness Haunts by Susan Ilene. There is no romance in this novel. There’s a spattering of flirting, but that is all. While several people enjoyed it (including me), it does not count as a romance novel. Obviously, I’m not a good host for a romance book club but the group was great about it.

Also here are some of my notable firsts for 2016:

My first Stephen King novel – 11-22-63

King112263

My first Star Wars novel – Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne

Guess which side of the Force Chupacabr is on?
Guess which side of the Force Chupacabra is on?

My first Podiobooks audiobook – Marker Stone by Paul J. Joseph

JosephMarkerStone

My first Kurt Vonnegut novel – Cat’s Cradle

VonnegutCatsCradleTofu

As 2016 ends, I am looking forward to a better year in 2017. I spent all of 2016 sick and most of it on bed rest. It took quite some time and many doctors to get diagnosed. I now know that I have CTEPH and in February I will be in San Diego having PTE surgery to hopefully correct the issue. It’s a major surgery and I could be in the hospital recovering for up to 20 days. So if Dab of Darkness goes dark between Ground Hog’s Day and Valentine’s Day, it’s just me laid up in a hospital recovering. Life should get better after that surgery and I’m just really looking forward to being on the other side of it. 24/7 supplemental oxygen makes life rather boring, as I can now attest to.

Cthulhu Armageddon by C. T. Phipps

PhippsCthulhuArmageddonNarrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Crossroad Press (2016)

Length: 8 hours 30 minutes

Author’s Page

The Old ones rose more than 100 years ago and humanity dwindled and fractured in their struggle to survive. John Henry is a highly trained ranger for one of the last ‘civilized’ cities. However, he lost his friends and his sanity (temporarily) while battling a one-time friend who had gone over to worshiping the Old Ones. Now he seeks vengeance for his dead friends and his own lost future.

This was a wonderful mix of wild weird west, post-apocalyptic, and creature feature. John Booth is an intense man and it was great to live this story through his character. Also, just a side note, it’s refreshing to have the main hero be non-Caucasian. Hooray for diversity in SFF! OK, so back to John. The story starts off with him and his small group of rangers heading out to find several children who had been kidnapped by Cthulhu-monster worshipers. Things go very, very wrong. John wakes up while being interrogated with his memory all fuzzy. Yeah, that sucks.

John goes on a quest of sorts to find out if all his ranger buddies are dead and to regain his lost memories. Specifically, he’s hunting for Jessica who was the last ranger standing with him before everything went blank. He needs the help of a skilled torturer, Mercury, if he’s going to be successful. John gets a few brief moments with his estranged wife Martha throughout the story. Then there is also an ex-lover of sorts that he and Mercury come upon later in the story. I really enjoyed the main female characters – they were so diverse and written so well. However, nearly all the ladies in this story had some sort of sexual/romantic interest or tie to John. I felt that was a little silly, but it was a very minor part of the story so I won’t let it detract from my enjoyment of the tale.

The Old Ones were gooey and deadly and scary and awe-inspiring. Phipps did a great job with these creatures from the beyond. There’s your typical squidhead Cthulhu-looking monsters, horrible bat-winged flyers, and things that defy description but the characters have to describe anyway. I want to see these things but not feel their wrath, so it’s a good thing I have John’s story to enjoy.

There’s plenty of action scenes but they are spaced out well with scenes that touch on dark humor or on deeper things. It’s not just humans versus the Old Ones but also human versus human all too often. There’s slavery and bigotry and government assigned marriages. Phipps has the start of a whole world to explore here. I especially liked Richard the ghoul. He brought in humor but also fed on corpses. No one’s perfect.

The story kept me guessing right up to the end. I really didn’t know if John would persevere. After all, the title does have the word ‘armageddon’ in it. I was definitely attached to John and several of the other characters so I really did care how things turned out. I was very satisfied with the ending and I am hoping Phipps gives us another story set in this world.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer did a great job with this book, as I expected he would. He’s got the right voice for the main character, John. I also like his female voices, especially for Mercury in this book. She doesn’t have an ounce of tact and asks such personal questions so straightforwardly. He’s great at imbuing the characters with emotion as well. 

What I Liked: Great cover art; the world setting; Cthulhu monsters!; non-Caucasian hero; the female characters are plentiful and interesting; plenty of action; the hint of deeper waters in this story; had me guessing right up to the end; great narration.

What I Disliked: One tiny little thing – nearly all the ladies have a thing for John. 

What Others Think:

Grimdark Magazine

Audio Book Reviewer

Beauty in Ruins

Fantasy Book Critic

On A Dark Stormy Review

The Blog Goblin

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: C. T. Phipps, Author of Cthulhu Armageddon

CTPhippsAuthorEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author C. T. Phipps. I really enjoyed his book, The Rules of Supervillainy and am very excited to see his latest, Cthulhu Armaggedon, out in audiobook. So don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – an Audible.com version of Cthulhu Armageddon, narrated by Jeffrey Kafer. 

If you could be an extra on a horror movie or TV show, what would it be and what role would you have?

I’d have to say I’d probably do best as an extra on SUPERNATURAL. I wouldn’t really fit in as the bearded pudgy Southern author unless it’s as a zombie on The Walking Dead. I also was a huge fan of the show for the first five seasons with my wife making a regular ritual of it. As for what role I’d have, I’d love to be the guy who gives them a vital clue before dying horribly. I’m realistic about my chances in such a situation.

I’d also love to have a guest starring role on an adaptation of one of my books but baby steps. Hehe.

PhippsCthulhuArmageddonWhat makes you cringe?

It’s funny but I’m not afraid of things like spiders, clowns, closed spaces, heights, or any of the usual things but am mortally terrified of embarrassing situations. I could probably deal with the Slenderman more easily than I could an awkward conversation about emotional stuff. It’s funny because my wife thinks I’m a big baby about that while we have our weekly horror movie-a-thons but flee at any romance films.

Ironically, I had a lot more trouble writing the emotional beats of THE RULES OF SUPERVILLAINY and its sequels than I ever did with the zombies or demons. It’s similar with CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON and STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON.

PhippsTheRulesOfSupervillainyWhat now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

I’d like to say H.P. Lovecraft because while I’d love to interview J.R.R Tolkien, I probably wouldn’t be able to come up with any interesting questions for him. With H.P. Lovecraft, I would have a bunch of them ranging from talking about racial issues, the meaning of his monsters, and so on. It’d be a conversation he’d probably walk out on me during but it would certainly be enjoyable. Then again, we might just bond over our shared love of the weird. I did, after all, write the novel CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON to follow up on some of his ideas.

Personally, I’d like to know what he thought of the way his stories have spread out and become so influential.

PhippsEsoterrorismIf you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

That’s a tough call because I really do love to resist books I’ve read in the past and see if I can get anything new from a re-read. I’ve re-read A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE over and over again. I’ve also done the same with the LORD OF THE RINGS. So I’ll avoid the usual answers and go with THE DRESDEN FILES by Jim Butcher. Those books have been something I’ve enjoyed for almost seventeen years now and helped create my love of urban fantasy. I loved reading about Harry’s crazy adventures, his myriad femme fatales, and experiencing the crazy combination of humor with dramatic storytelling which is the heart of the series. Being able to enjoy that all for the first time again would be grand. It was a big influence on THE SUPERVILLAINY SAGA, ESOTERRORISM, and STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON.

PhippsStraightOuttaFangtonWhat has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Writing is my most difficult job! Well, actually, no, it’s all the things around writing. The job of editing, advertising, and selling your book to your audience is a full-time job well after the “fun” part of making it work. Being an indie author definitely has its advantages over one of the big publishing houses but one of the reasons I could never be a self-published author is because I’m overwhelmed with the parts I do do. LOL.

Still, I would never do anything else.

PhippsTheGamesOfSupervillainyWhat book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

I’m a very video game-influenced author as I love the interactivity of being able to project a portion of yourself into the game world, particularly RPGs. So it’s actually a complicated question as the majority of books are more like movies in that you’re along for the ride but don’t really have a way of impacting the plot. The exception to this was the fabulous “Witcher” games which managed to preserve the feel of the classic fantasy series while also allowing you a lot of choice in the narrative. I also loved THE SHADOW OF MORDOR which isn’t about any of Tolkien’s characters but set in his world with someone not so morally pure.

If I were to see one of my books adapted to a video game, I’d definitely choose THE RULES OF SUPERVILLAINY, STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON, and CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON in no particular order. I think Rules would be particularly awesome as you’d have this big wide open sandbox full of colorful characters. You could also decide whether Gary goes the Anti-Villain route or becomes pure evil.

PhippsTheSecretsOfSupervillainyWho are some of your favorite book villains?

If I had to choose favorite villains from books other than my own, I would choose Grand Admiral Thrawn from THE THRAWN TRILOGY, Jaime Lannister from A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, and THE LORD OF THE RINGS’ Sauron. In the first case, Grand Admiral Thrawn is such an elegant and cultured character you actually want him to win despite being up against our heroes.

Jaimie is such a three-dimensional character that it’s hard to even say he’s a villain rather than a differently valued protagonist. Sauron? Sauron never even shows up in-person but casts such a shadow over everything that he manages to become a pervasive presence nevertheless. I also have a strong fondness for Gentleman Johnny Marcone and Lara Raith from THE DRESDEN FILES.

If I had to choose my favorite villain from my books, I’d probably choose Alan Ward from CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON. He’s a scientist and wizard with knowledge dating back to the Pre-Rising world which everyone has forgotten. Alan has the desire to save humanity from destruction and is willing to do anything, break any taboo, and do whatever horrible thing is necessary to figure out a way to preserve the human species.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Warning – Easily Distracted.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

Shorter.

I always saw myself as a writer, too. Which is why becoming one is such a gleeful thing.

Thanks for the interview!

Book Blurb for Cthulhu Armageddon

PhippsCthulhuArmageddonCthulhu Armageddon is the story of a world 100 years past the rise of the Old Ones which has been reduced to a giant monster-filled desert and pockets of human survivors (along with Deep Ones, ghouls, and other “talking” monsters).

John Henry Booth is a ranger of one of the largest remaining city-states when he’s exiled for his group’s massacre and the suspicion that he’s “tainted”. Escaping with a doctor who killed her husband, John travels across the Earth’s blasted alien ruins to seek the life of the man who killed his friends. It’s the one thing he has left.

Places to Find C. T. Phipps

Blog

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

GIVEAWAY!

C. T. Phipps is generously offering up 5 copies of the Audible.com audiobook of Cthulhu Armageddon. You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) Who are your favorite book villains? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways ends November 19, 2016, midnight.

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