27 January, 2011

2011 Goals

In 2010, I really only had one goal, read 60 books ... and I couldn't even reach that. O for 1. Ouch.

This year, I'm going to set a few more goals in hopes of at least having something I can say I accomplished. Beware, some of these goals may seem really odd or arbitrary, but they make sense to me. I'll try to explain a bit, but feel free to ask why. :)

Read 60 Books

This was my goal last year and I didn't quite get there, although I made it pretty close. This year should be even busier for me so this is actually quite the intense goal.

Read at least two of these authors:

Tad Williams
Stephen R. Donaldson
Glen Cook

This is not something I'm proud to admit, but I've yet to read any of these heavy hitters of the genre. I do, however, own books by all three.

Read one of these books by Melanie Rawn:

The Golden Key [US] [UK] (by Rawn, Fallon, Elliott), OR
Stronghold [US] [UK] (Dragon Star Book 1)

I loved the Dragon Prince trilogy and for some reason I've never read another thing by Rawn. I own both of these and I still can't believe I've never read the Dragon Star trilogy.

Read at least one of these trilogies:

The Coldfire Trilogy [US] [UK] by C.S. Friedman
The Rai Kirah Trilogy [US] [UK] by Carol Berg

Both have been staring at me for way too long. Something's gotta happen this year.

Read further in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

I've only read The Gunslinger (Review) so far, thought I'd get to more last year, and although I thought about the goal 'finish The Dark Tower series' I decided to be a bit more realistic. (Just 1 book = further, although I'd prefer more)

Read further in The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Again, I'm copping out with my use of the term "further". I've read up through Grave Peril (Book 3) and it's about time I head back. I have the next two on my shelf waiting.

There's probably more, so I'll get those up when I think of them. :)

26 January, 2011

It's News To Me #2

Here's a couple interesting items below and if you want my recent book haul, that can be viewed here.

Interview: Anthony Huso, author of The Last Page, a book I keep hearing great things about.

Top 10 Movies List: BSC has the Top 10 SFF movies of the decade. Not a bad job - it's easy to take apart someone else's list - but I'd definitely put Lord of the Rings a bit higher. I agree that Lady in the Water got a bad rap, I loved that movie.

Jim Butcher: Ghost Story is being delayed. As all good GRRM advocates know, it's better to have a better book than a worse one. :D

And that's the news...at least to me.

19 January, 2011

It's News To Me #1

I'm going to make a few changes to this year's It's News To Me series of posts. I've been going back and forth, back and forth on this and I think I finally have a solution. I enjoy posting about the news, but, and you may be amazed... very amazed, it takes quite a bit of work to put together a decent weekly news update.

In lieu of a weekly update, I will begin to post much more condensed updates as the news comes up, so this could happen on any day of the week. This may in fact mean more It's News To Me, but some weeks it could mean less or none.

I guess we'll find out at the end of the year if it does in fact mean more posts. :)

I wish I had more time to keep this up, but I think this new schedule will work a bit better with my hectic schedule.

New Cover: Game of Thrones [US - old cover] [UK - old cover] by George R. R. Martin (and new title too I guess).

This cover update coincides with the very little known fact that an HBO series will be based on this book - while independently significant, A Game of Thrones made it on the NYT bestseller list recently. :)

New Trailer: HBO's Game of Thrones - Premiere Date: April 17th (Whoot!)

Can't say I'm much of a fan of this trailer. It almost looks cheap to me. Maybe I'm not artistic enough to get it. Still extremely excited for the series.

And that's the news...at least to me.

17 January, 2011

Review - The Ten Thousand by Paul Kearney

It's been far too long since we've seen a review around here and I'm fixin' to change that. Okay, also fixin' to change my use of the word 'fixin''.

The Ten Thousand
[US] [UK]

The Macht are a people out of legend in the land of the Kufr. A hardened mercenary-centered people that live for war and make a living through it. Where would be a better place to go when you're looking to overthrow a kingdom?

And to be honest, the plot has a couple twists and turns, but this is basically it. The Ten Thousand reminded me a lot of Steve Erikson's Deadhouse Gates [US] [UK]. There's an epic force that has to make it's way through an entire continent,which is the only way to safety, but which encounters one obstacle after the next.

Throughout the book, we follow Rictus, from the legendary Isca, which is no more. Early in the book, he finds himself in a mercenary company and heading to the land of Kuf to fight among what becomes known as The Ten Thousand. Being from Isca, Rictus has developed a fighting prowess that is matched by few. Rictus is young and cocky, but a really fun protagonist to follow. He makes mistakes, but he's easy to root for and has reasonably explained talents.

Paul Kearney has a knack for plotting and although I alluded to it being simple, that's not entirely the case. It's definitely straight forward, but Kearney does a great job setting up a great climax, but leaving you with enough loose ends that the ending is just as rewarding and extremely surprising in this case.

In addition, Kearney doesn't bog down the narrative with info-dumps. He keeps the world flowing around the characters, so we're let into his highly imaginative story one step at a time. I mean, there's even a glossary and a number of interesting races that he explores, but Kearney does it with such ease, the pace is kept nicely.

Why Should You Read The Ten Thousand?

If you like low magic, and really there's none, but high military action with multiple imaginative races, you'll really enjoy The Ten Thousand. It's fast-paced, it can be gory at times, but the world is all it's own and the story is epic while keeping the epicness of the page count low.

4 out of 5 Stars

13 January, 2011

Great Quotes

...or even marginally decent ones.

Been reading Kraken by China Mieville lately and found this little ditty that had me chuckling:
"I wouldn't say danger," said Baron. "I'd say at the very worst it's dangish..."
Good reading so far and I can tell it's only going to get better.

11 January, 2011

Independent Literary Awards - Speculative Fiction

I've mentioned this in passing a few times, but here's a bit more. I'll be judging the Independent Literary Awards for Speculative Fiction, which is an award for authors voted on solely by bloggers. This has been a fun process so far and now we're to the point where we've narrowed the field down to a short list of 5.

The Short list for the 2010 Independent Literary Awards for Speculative Fiction are the following:

Monsters of Men [US] [UK] - Patrick Ness
How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe [US] [UK] - Charles Yu
Dante's Journey [US] [UK] - JC Marino (my review)
The Passage [US] [UK] - Justin Cronin
Kraken [US] [UK] - China Mieville

I think this is a well-rounded list especially looking at how broad the Speculative Fiction category is. This top 5 includes YA, Science Fiction, Small Press, and some big names for the year.

I've read two so far (Monsters of Men and Dante's Journey) and well on my way with Kraken. The reading period is over at the end of this month and then we'll pick our winner from there.

10 January, 2011

Only the Best of 20 Ten (and also some of the worst)

It was promised multiple times and now it's a reality. My top picks for 2010.

My goal was to read 60 books this year and I reached 52, which is quite an achievement for me (10 more than last year). I've always heard that it's best to reach 80% of your goals because it means your setting them to make you stretch and that's about what I've done here (86% to be exact).

Top 5 2010 Releases

5. Corvus (2010) - Paul Kearney
4. Shadow's Son (2010) - Jon Sprunk
3. The Desert Spear (2010) - Peter V. Brett
2. Return of the Crimson Guard (2010 US) - Ian C. Esslemont
1. The Way of Kings (2010) - Brandon Sanderson

Top 10 Read in 2010 (From any publication year)

10. The Ten Thousand (2008) - Paul Kearney
9. The Crown Conspiracy (2007) - Michael J. Sullivan
8. Ender's Shadow (1999) - Orson Scott Card
7. The Burning Skies (2009) - David J. Williams
6. An Autumn War (2008) - Daniel Abraham
5. The Desert Spear (2010) - Peter V. Brett
4. Return of the Crimson Guard (2010) - Ian C. Esslemont
3. The Way of Kings (2010) - Brandon Sanderson
2. The Warded Man (2008) - Peter V. Brett
1. The Last Unicorn (1968) - Peter S. Beagle

Biggest Surprise(s)

There were three for this category and all from small presses. Loved all of these and will definitely be reading more from each author:

Dante's Journey - JC Marino
Armageddon Bound - Tim Marquitz
A Festival of Skeletons - RJ Astruc

Biggest Disappointment(s)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
The Last Wish

Series Started in 2010


They are:

The Way of Shadows (Night Angel)
The Ten Thousand (Macht)
Ender's Shadow (Ender's Shadow)
On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington)
The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive)
The Warded Man (Demon Cycle)
Shadow's Son (Shadow Saga)
The Left Hand of God (Thomas Cale)
The Mirrored Heavens (Autumn Rain)
Heroes Die (Overworld)
The Hunger Games (Hunger Games)
The Gunslinger (Dark Tower)
The Crown Conspiracy (Riyria Revelations)
Armageddon Bound (Demon Squad)
Malice (Malice)
A Shadow in Summer (Long Price)

Yeah, this doesn't look too good does it? It gets worse (and then a bit better).

Series Finished in 2010


The Hunger Games
The Long Price Quartet
The Autumn Rain Trilogy
The Night Angel Trilogy

This is definitely the 'worse' part. Ouch.

Series With the Possibility of Completion in 2010


The Hunger Games
The Long Price Quartet
The Autumn Rain Trilogy
The Night Angel Trilogy
Dark Tower

Doesn't look so bad now does it? :D

Series Furthered in 2010


Return of the Crimson Guard (Malazan)
Reaper's Gale (Malazan)
Toll the Hounds (Malazan)
The Desert Spear (Demon Cycle)
The Light Fantastic (Discworld)
Corvus (Macht)

Hope you did better with your series than I did. Furthering only 4 when I started 16, not to mention the others I started before 2010 is a goal I'll have to work a bit harder on in 2011.

08 January, 2011

Sick - Not Cool, Just Not To Full Health

This is yet another apology post. My 5 month-old has been sick for the last few weeks and therefore I've only had a maximum of a couple hours of sleep each night. And then I got sick a couple days ago.

Yup, the life of having kids. I never realized how sick I would get... all the time.

Here's to the new year. I promise reviews will be forthcoming.

01 January, 2011

Happy New Year and Updates

Happy New Year everyone. Hope it's filled with cheer and the aftereffects wear off quickly!

Sorry to have been a bit MIA lately, but we'll be back on track shortly. We'll have Top 10 lists for 2010, goals for 2011 and reviews.

I'm currently enjoying The Name of the Wind and excited that I don't have to wait too long for the next installment. I'll also give some updates on the Independent Literary Awards, of which I am participating as a Speculative Fiction judge.

Wishing you a great new year and at least a start to some new year's resolutions. :)