21 January, 2015

Guest Post - Tim Marquitz "These Ain't Yo Mama's Zombies" and $25 GIVEAWAY to Amazon plus Signed Copy of Dirge!

It's been far too long since I've mentioned Tim Marquitz on the blog, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been as active as ever. I have a couple of his books up in the queue very soon, but the problem is I never know when to start. The man's a machine, consistently pushing out high quality stories that enthrall you from page one. 


I've loved Tim's work since I first discovered Armageddon Bound and the Demon Squad series. Tim's got a new book out from Permuted Press and I will be reading it next for sure. Just look at the blurb for Dirge:
Wreathed in the ashes of betrayal, forced to come of age in the dungeons of her stolen inheritance, Kallie Brynn Soren died so that Dirge might be born.

In the midst of an undead invasion, Kallie is gifted powers by a dying priest. His last wish is for her to use them against the Necrolords in a way his faith would not allow. Reborn as Dirge and free of the priests conscience, she is more than happy to do so.

But when fate brings Dirge into the employ of the emperorthe same man whose machinations brought about the murder of her fatherthe opportunity for revenge becomes too much to ignore.

Torn between vengeance and the need to protect the only people she dare call family, Dirge learns there is a much deeper purpose to the Necrolords advance. Should it come to light, it might destroy everyone.

You'll find the giveaway below, and believe me, you want to enter this one. But first, Tim's here to talk about Zombies and Dirge, not your typical zombie story...

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These Ain’t Yo Mama’s Zombies

“This isn’t your typical zombie story,” is a line that pops up all too frequently these days. Authors are always trying to include the lovable hunks of decomposing flesh while spinning the concept as something new, something no one else has done or thought of. Sadly, that’s pretty damn hard to do without destroying the basis of what’s come before; what people understand to be zombie stories. Fortunately, I’m not here to tell you that I’ve reinvented the zombie and Dirge is a whole new chapter of never before seen undead action.

I’m just gonna imply it.

No, not really. The truth is, zombies play a relatively small role in Dirge. While they most certainly fill the background, and are the general foe laid out before our heroine, they’re truly the least of her concerns. It’s the masters pulling the strings behind the curtain Dirge has to worry about. The zombies are pretty average for the most part, barring a couple of rare examples.

That said, there’s still plenty of the human drama that makes up a great zombie tale, not to mention some good gore and action. That’s what you’re checking in for, right? Blood, guts, and brains.

Well, hopefully it’s more about the last one as I decided, somewhere along the way to creating Dirge, that I wanted to style the book after more literary sources. I didn’t want just another zombie story where the zombies got their skulls bashed in and the good guys try not to become the monsters they are so desperately trying to destroy. I wanted to create a character who stood out on the world, who was more than muscles and bones wielding a weapon to slaughter the undead, yet still offer up the chaos expected of a zombie book.

Guess you’ll let me know if I’ve succeeded. 

______________________

Tim Marquitz bio:


Tim Marquitz is the author of the Demon Squad series, the Blood War Trilogy, co-author of the Dead West series, as well as several standalone books, and numerous anthology appearances including Triumph Over Tragedy, Corrupts Absolutely?, Demonic Dolls, Neverland's Library, and the forthcoming No Place Like Home and Blackguards.

The Editor in Chief of Ragnarok Publications, Tim most recently compiled and edited the Angelic Knight Press anthologies, Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous and Manifesto: UF, as well as Ragnarok Publications' Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters.

Web Presence:

Finally, the giveaway:

05 January, 2015

eBook Deals - so so many...

As I'm want to do, I like to go through the SF Signal list (which you can find here) and (1) pick out the ones that I am interested in, and (2) show only those that are $3 and less. Anything more and it's not really a deal imo, at least not a very good one.

I know this is a bit of a lame deal to latch onto their hard work (or externality in economics terms), but I had to do my own kind of work on this AND I included prices. Worth it's weight in gold right? :) And you really should check out the expanded list anyway, I always find it fun to look through lists of pretty much any kind of book.

[$0.99] Wars to End All Wars: Alternate Tales from the Trenches (anthology) Edited by N.E. White and Rob Bedford
[$0.99] His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire #1) by Naomi Novik
[$0.99] The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin


[$1.99] Stormfront (Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher
[$1.99] White Night (Dresden Files #9) by Jim Butcher
[$1.99] Prince of Thorns (Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence
[$1.99] The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's #1) by Douglas Adams
[$1.99] The Last Policeman (Last Policeman #1) by Ben H. Winters
[$1.99] Clockwork Dagger (Clockwork Dagger #1) by Beth Cato
[$1.99] Embedded by Dan Abnett
[$1.99] Day by Day Armageddon (Day by Day Armageddon #1) by J.L. Bourne
[$1.99] Day by Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile (Day by Day Armageddon #2) by J.L. Bourne
[$1.99] Day by Day Armageddon: Shattered Hourglass (Day by Day Armageddon #3) by J.L. Bourne
[$1.99] Black Feathers (Black Dawn #1) by Joseph D'Lacey
[$1.99] The Book of the Crowman (Black Dawn #2) by Joseph D'Lacey
[$1.99] The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch (Last Apprentice #1) by Joseph Delaney
[$1.99] Known Devil (Occult Crimes Unit #3) by Justin Gustainis


[$1.99] The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga #1) by Kameron Hurley
[$1.99] The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
[$1.99] The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance #1) by N.K. Jemisin
[$1.99] The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness
[$1.99] The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
[$1.99] Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown
[$1.99] The 5th Wave (5th Wave #1) by Rick Yancey
[$1.99] Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer #1) by Robin Hobb
[$1.99] The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter (Fall of the Gas-lit Empire #1) by Rod Duncan
[$1.99] City Stained Red by Sam Sykes
[$1.99] The Lives of Tao (Lives of Tao #1) by Wesley Chu
[$1.99] The Deaths of Tao (Lives of Tao #2) by Wesley Chu

[$2.00] The Second Ship (Rho Agenda #1) by Richard Phillips

[$2.51] The Winds of Khalakovo (Lays of Anuskaya #1) by Bradley P. Beaulieu
[$2.51] Lest Our Passage be Forgotten & Other Stories (short stories) by Bradley P. Beaulieu

[$2.80] Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


[$2.99] Baptism of Fire (The Witcher #3) by Andrzej Sapkowski
[$2.99] Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Lechie
[$2.99] Virtual Unrealities (short stories) by Alfred Bester
[$2.99] Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson
[$2.99] A Dance of Cloaks (Shadowdance #1) by David Dalglish
[$2.99] The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
[$2.99] The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
[$2.99] Robots and Empire (Robot #4) by Isaac Asimov
[$2.99] Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey
[$2.99] Among Others by Jo Walton
[$2.99] Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

[$3.03] Dragonsbane (Winterlands #1) by Barbara Hambley
[$3.03] Jaran (Jaran #1) by Kate Elliott

03 January, 2015

Only the Best of 2014 - My Best Reads This Year

I had a really slow year this year when it comes to reading. It doesn't help that I moved a couple states away, got a new job that keeps me busier than ever, and I'm trying to keep up with three kids any moment they're awake. My Goodreads goal of 50 books, a decrease from last year because I knew there was a possibility of some changes, was only met by 64% (that's only 31 books).

However, a number of those books were new releases and it was a great year for those. Below you'll find my top 7 new releases for 2014. I was going to narrow it down to five, but I found myself trying to cheat by posting "ties" and I honestly hate that so I gave the actual number even if not so round.

Following that list are some more year-end wrap up awards if you can even call it that. Mostly, I wanted to have a chance to talk about the books I loved this year one extra time.

Top 7 New Releases of 2014


7) Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan


6) City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (still need to review this)


5) Breach Zone (Shadow Ops #3) by Myke Cole


4) Prince of Fools (Red Queen's War #1) by Mark Lawrence


4) Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie


3) Veil of the Deserters (Bloodsounder's Arc #2) by Jeff Salyards


2) The Magician's Land (Magicians #3) by Lev Grossman


1) The Crimson Campaign (Powder Mage #2) by Brian McClellan


Biggest Surprise


Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott - Seriously, you need to read this if you haven't already. At first glance, it doesn't sound like much, but it was absolutely one of my favorites of the last number of years.

Best Stand-Alones


Tie for Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway and Blackdog by K.V. Johanson. Remember, I said I hate ties in numbered lists. No numbers here, so I can have a tie. Both these were absolutely astounding reads. They are completely different, one a contemporary mystery with a wonderful sense of humor (Angelmaker) and one an epic fantasy set in a non-European medieval times (Blackdog).

Best Audiobooks


Ilium and Olympos by Dan Simmons. This is really just one extended book that blew me away from start to finish. Simmons is a mad genius to combine all the elements he combines here and pulls it off stupendously.

Biggest Disappointment 


Impulse (Jumper #3) by Steven Gould - I had high hopes after the first two excellent installments. Combining the elements that made the first two great with teen angst and holier-than-thou characters made it a bit tough to stomach.

Missing

Blood and Iron by Jon Sprunk (currently reading), Of Bone and Thunder by Chris Evans (currently reading), Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, The Emperor's Blades by Brian Stavely, Assail by Ian Cameron Esslemont (though I did make progress by reading Stonewielder), and tons more. There are plenty of authors I've just gotten behind in keeping up with their new series such as Brent Weeks and Daniel Abraham and tons more I'm dying to begin. I'll have to do better this year I guess.

30 December, 2014

Review - Prince of Fools (Red Queen's War #1) by Mark Lawrence

Three.

Three times.

That's how many times I attempted this book before it stuck. Three. (Could I be more annoying?)

Each time I picked up the book, I couldn't stand the main character, Prince Jalan. Hated him in fact. Yes, it was written superbly, it's Mark Lawrence for crying out loud. Yes, he was witty and hilarious and I already wanted to write down 10 quotes in just as many pages.

Such as this brilliant social commentary:
“We all practice self-deception to a degree; no man can handle complete honesty without being cut at each turn. There's not enough room in a man's head for sanity alongside each grief, each worry, each terror that he owns.”



But I HATED the main character. I couldn't make it past the first chapter or two.

But then I realized, this is not Lawrence's first run around with a dislikeable character. Jorg, the eponymous Prince of Thorns, was terrible. I hated him too! But at least I agreed with his mentality ... somewhat. He had the kind of attitude that I love. He wouldn't stand down to anyone though 11 years old. He wanted the world kneeling before him and would take nothing less. And he was a brilliant character, quite possibly one of the best put to the page, especially in terms of his growth.

What's different about Prince Jalan is that he's pretty much the opposite. He's an admitted coward, who prefers running from problems rather than sorting them out. I couldn't get behind him until I remembered Lawrence's magic with Jorg. 

I knew I had to push past my initial dislike for the character ... and you guessed it ... but wait, there's more! 



I mean, I'm glad I did.

Seriously, get on the bandwagon already. Mark Lawrence continues to solidify himself as one of the great new voices in fantasy. What's brilliant about this coward/womanizer is that it sets him up for all kinds of great one-liners that are riddled throughout the book. I love quotes, a bit too much sometimes, and Prince of Fools is chock-full of them.

Couple him with an honorable Viking who loves to smash things and need I say more? 

And honestly, I think the reason I disliked Jalan so much is that it probably hits a little close to home. I have to admit to a certain amount of coward in me. I try to psych myself up to stand up to wrongs and injustices, but too often I run away just as Jalan does. 

And many times, Jalan stumbles into a situation where he appears honorable and allows others to believe it. I don't know if that's all bad and it could be true even though he doesn't even believe it himself. However, I know I'm guilty of the same, not all the time but sometimes, and I don't like it.


Lawrence has written another winner and I'm excited for the rest of the trilogy. The only real complaint I have is that I guess I was expecting Jalan and Snorri to not get along more because of their differing takes on honor (one having it and one not) and it wasn't like that at all. But I realize that was a failing of my own, not the author.

The Broken Empire was one of my favorite trilogies of late and Mark Lawrence has hit another one out of the park. If there were any doubt he's on my "must-buy" list, there's definitely no question now. 

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

P.s. I've got the title of Mark Lawrence's next series ... The Prince of Princes. You can view the contact info above for all the royalty checks. Thanks.