30 March, 2013

Michael J. Sullivan's Kickstarter Ending Soon

You know, when I first heard of Kickstarter my immediate reaction was to hate it. I really don't know why especially as my viewpoint has changed considerably (in the 180 degree amount). What could possibly be bad about (1) being a part of something you love at the ground level, (2) often getting content for cheaper than you would buying it new, and (3) helping make something you will already love that much better because they have more of an ability to make it better. It's win-win. Seriously, I have no idea what my problem was...oh, it was the fact that I had zero understanding of it.

With that, here's the second time I'm promoting something great that's happening on Kickstarter because why not make something awesome more awesome?

Michael J. Sullivan is not only a self-publishing superstar, but a great author and person. Having been a self-published and traditionally published author, his perspective is extremely valuable in this day where the hybrid author is becoming more and more prevalent.

This year he has three books coming out, two traditionally (Orbit books) and one self-published with the help of the aforementioned Kickstarter campaign. Already, this campaign has beautiful artwork (as depicted above) and lots of people backing it. And yet it's still worth jumping in at this point. Like I said, you can get a good deal on the book, plus things like limited posters of the artwork and more.

In a Goodreads email, Mr. Sullivan explained his book releases for this year and the Kickstarter (which only has 6 days left) as follows:

The first two are a new series that feature Royce and Hadrian from my Riyria Revelations. These are prequels that tell how Riyria began. It was a lot of fun exploring the roots of the pair, espcially given they didn't like each other upon first meeting. I'm not sure how much you know about "the book business," but pre-orders dictate a great deal for an author. It will determine the print run, the marketing budget, and titles with large pre-orders generally get more attention from the sales department. So if you are a fan of Riyria, and will be purchasing anyway, it would be a great help to me if you did so now by pre-ordering. Here are some links to make it easy:

* The Crown Tower: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
* The Rose and the Thorn: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The last book, Hollow World, is a project that I'm very excited about. It's a non-Riyria story and combines science fiction, fantasy, and mystery in a seemless cross-genre adventure/thriller. I'm going to return to my self-publishing route with this title, and due to some restrictions in my current contract I'm not able to release any book between April 6, 2013 and January 17, 2014. So, I'm doing something rather interesting with this. I'm doing a Kickstarter Campaign. It will end on April 4 and anyone who pre-orders will get their copies of the book in June or July, which will be 6 - 7 months before it goes officially on sale.

In additon, since I'm doing a kickstarter I can offer backers all types of perks such as a poster, bookmarks, short stories, bundled ebook when paper copies are ordered, and a chance for you to be a character in one of my future books.

* Learn more & contribute here by April 4, 2013.

Here's a little bit about each book:

A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm's most prized possessions. But it isn't gold or jewels that the old wizard is after, and if he can just keep them from killing each other, they just might do it. 

The Rose and the Thorn (Sep 17, 2013): TWO THIEVES WANT ANSWERS. RIYRIA IS BORN.
For more than a year Royce Melborn has tried to forget Gwen DeLancy, the woman who saved him and his partner Hadrian Blackwater from certain death. Unable to get her out of his mind, the two thieves return to Medford but receive a very different reception--Gwen refuses to see them. The victim of abuse by a powerful noble, she suspects that Royce will ignore any danger in his desire for revenge. By turning the thieves away, Gwen hopes to once more protect them. What she doesn’t realize is what the two are capable of--she’s about to find out.

A Detroit factory worker who has always played it safe and done the right thing is rewarded with unemployment, a loveless marriage, and a terminal illness. Now with nothing to lose, he’s willing to take an insane gamble. He’s spent months building a time machine, and if it works, he could find a place that challenges what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. If only he can survive…Hollow World.

Riyria Revelations: Theft of Swords | Rise of Empire | Heir of Novron
Riyria Chronicles: The Crown Tower | The Rose and the Thorn
Standalone Novels: Hollow World | Antithesis | A Burden to the Earth

25 March, 2013

Review - The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll

Thomas Abbey has always loved the books by Marshall France, you may even say he's obsessed with them. He has a copy of just about every book written by the famed (and fictional) author and has an inheritance from his famous father that allows him to pay big bucks for even the rarest publications.

Abbey, who is also a school English teacher, decides he wants to write a biography of his favorite author even though he's never written anything in his life. He manages to run into a fellow France-obsessed fan in his endeavors and they proceed to visit the mysterious town where France did the majority of his writing and where he escaped the limelight.

The Land of Laughs [US] [UK] is really a book for book lovers. I'm sure if you've found yourself on this blog, you may have been borderline obsessive about an author or two in your life and even currently, so this book is extremely easy to relate to in that respect. 

If this doesn't make perfect sense to you, I don't know what will:
“Reading a book, for me at least, is like traveling in someone else's world. If it's a good book, then you feel comfortable and yet anxious to see what's going to happen to you there, what'll be around the next corner. But if it's a lousy book, then it's like going through Secaucus, New Jersey -- it smells and you wish you weren't there, but since you've started the trip, you roll up the windows and breathe through your mouth until you're done.” 
Then again, I've gotten over my need to read through everything I start. Life's way too short for that.

The Land of Laughs is considered a fantasy, but most of the book has almost nothing fantastical about it. It could also very easily be described as a horror, at least just as much as it can be considered fantasy because there were some truly spine-tingling scenes toward the end that are worth the read alone.

What impressed me almost immediately is that this is Carroll's debut novel and he's writing about a fictional author who's legendary in this novel he's created. Naturally, you have to prove at least to some degree why this person is such a beloved author. I guess you don't have to necessarily, but it would be much harder to make it believable. And yet, some of the lines from this fictional author are beautiful and therefore completely believable in all respects.

Similar to Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, The Land of Laughs is a book of many other books. Many of the famous books that are fictionally written by Marshall France are explained and even plotted even though never written in real life. Carroll even gives us lines from the books which are splendid and as I said above, purvey the beauty of France's writing.

The eponymous book is actually France's most famous book:
"The eyes that light The Land of Laughs was lit by eyes that saw the light's that no one's seen."
Cover for my copy.
There were a few lines like this that just made me smile and enchanted me to no end. I wish I could find more of them right now because they're excellent and really do provide a magical quality to the story and writing both. 

In addition, the rest of The Land of Laughs is written in a clever way that resonated really well with me. The first person narrative of Thomas Abbey is clever, but in a self-depricating way. In a book where I should have been bored by the slow start, I was enamored from the beginning.

This story has that magical aspect to it that makes reading an experience. Neil Gaiman doest this to me as well with the same sort of wit and charm. Add to that the twist at the end and this is one of those books that's impossible to forget.

4 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)

18 March, 2013

Review - The Eyes of God (The Bronze Knight #1) by John Marco

As I've noted on the blog, John Marco took a break from writing for a little while, but is back in the game in April with the next installment in The Bronze Knight series, The Forever Knight. Sadly, part of the reason for that break was because his editor sat on TFK without even reading it for 2 years.

This kind of stuff gets my blood boiling and if you want more thoughts, I wrote a little bit more here.

Marco is a unique fantasy writer in my opinion. He writes adult fantasy, but not gritty or over-sexualized fantasy as is the current trend. He writes quests, but not travelogues. He writes about library apprentices, but not about their destiny for power and glory. He writes unique tales that are filled with action and thought, that skip over the fluff and get right to the point. And sometimes I just need to get my head out of the gutter, it's not really all that pleasant a place.

For some reason, many fantasy writers have begun telling a story only to feel the need to go back and fill the reader in on backstory. Suddenly, instead of moving forward, the plot stagnates and a 700 page behemoth is mostly filler and hardly any plot. Not so in The Eyes of God [US] [UK]. There is so much that goes on, I was constantly amazed. They travel to and from distant places without any mention of what kinds of dried meat and cheese they had for breakfast. Then, they travel back again. There's betrayal, tragedy, hope, madness, it has it all.

But quite possibly my favorite part about Marco's writing is how real his characters are. They are flawed in a very human way that makes them compelling, and at times makes you both love and hate them. It brings the storytelling to a whole new level to understand the motives of the villain and even pity them, to root for the hero and yet despise his or her actions and thoughts.

The Eyes of God is largely about The Bronze Knight, Lukien. He's a character who has seemingly everything, looks, swagger, military prowess. He even wins all the tourneys with hardly a second thought. He's also a very flawed character that you root for nonetheless. Because he's good at fighting, he loves war. While he can get almost any woman he wants, he longs for noble women he can't attain because of his low beginnings. The thing that gets me is that Lukien is a real person. Who doesn't want to belong? And if the only thing you're good at is war, why wouldn't you want wars to continue?

Lukien's best friend is also the king, Akeela. Akeela is a man of learning and peace. He will do anything it takes to not only erect his grand library, but to offer peace to his enemies, even if that means giving some things up. But at the same time, Akeela lacks Lukien's looks and grace with the ladies. Thus sets up the tale that is really just about the characters, one of the ultimate betrayal and constant forward momentum.

Like I said above, there are so many things that happen in this book. Everything is precisely planned and worked to the fullest and most efficient. Besides the characters, and to be honest, because of the characters, Marco sets up and executes some of the best twists I've seen.

Because the characters are so real, they can be "good" one moment and "evil" the next. I'm using those terms in the sense of the typical archetypes, hence the quotation marks. Not unlike ourselves. They can be driven to the point of no turning back and it really makes for some great surprises in where the story goes.

John Marco is an author that I wish more people would read. I hope you give this series a chance or another favorite, The Jackal of Nar. This epic fantasy will have you reading for the characters as it breaks your heart and reassembles it only to break it again.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (Very Highly Recommended!)

The Bronze Knight/Lukien/Inhuman Trilogy [Read in red]:
1) The Eyes of God
2) The Devil's Armor
3) The Sword of Angels

Stand-alone in same universe:
- The Forever Knight (Released on April 2, 2013)

14 March, 2013


We'll go in order of importance...you decide what that order is:

eBook Deals:
[$2.99] The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson - This is a wonderful book at a great price. Highly recommended.

[$2.99] The King of Plagues (Joe Ledger #3) by Jonathan Maberry - I liked (not loved) the first book and thought someone may want to know about this deal even though I won't be picking it up.

[$0.99] The Year of the Jackpot (Novella) by Robert Heinlein - TODAY ONLY - This is Amazon's deal of the day.

In other news...

The Republic of Thieves has a release date!!!!! US - October 8, 2013 and UK - October 10, 2013. That's this year!!! I can't contain all these exclamation marks!!!

Book 3 in the Gentleman Bastard series.

For more information, check out Gollancz' website.

12 March, 2013

eBook Deals - Vonnegut and Abercrombie

(Today Only) For the US, a deal that I bought instantly, Kurt Vonnegut's Slapstick for $1.99. You may already know of my love affair with Vonnegut and usually these books go for somewhere around $15.00 in paperback, so this is a deal of deals. Highly recommended, not because I've read the book (I haven't) but because it's Vonnegut so you know it's worth it. Admittedly, they've been pretty reasonably priced as far as Kindle books go - anywhere from $3 to $6.

For the UK, Pat just posted a really sweet deal on Joe Abercrombie's debut, The Blade Itself. Head over to Pat's blog for the details.

08 March, 2013

Quick Update and Duck and Cover

I'm sorry for the lack of posting lately. I took the bar last week (3 days x 6 hours per day) and then I've just been recovering and helping out with the twins this week, even looking for jobs because at some point I may or may not need to start using these degrees I've been racking up.

Anyway, as far as reading goes, I'm about halfway through a review for The Eyes of God by John Marco and currently reading the following:

- Shadow Ops #2: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole - Should finish this up soon.
- The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll - Going to finish this today.
- The Devil's Armor by John Marco - This is the sequel to The Eyes of God.
- Carrie by Stephen King - I've been spending lots of time patting babies to sleep so audiobooks are perfect although this book makes me wish they wouldn't grow up - it's such a cruel world.

I'll get back on track (somewhat) soon, I just need to figure out my new schedule.

Also, did you see this amazing cover:

Thanks Rob.

This is for book two in the Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan and book one hasn't even come out yet. I haven't even read a word and already I'm excited for the sequel. Weird, but great cover.