26 November, 2010

Funny Wheel of Time Review

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and to those who don't celebrate it, hope you've had a great week.

This review of Crossroads of Twilight really had me cracking up and since I'm on vacation right now and have no review of my own, I thought this might work in lieu.

(from sffworld.com)
Author - Tom E.

"Those who can appreciate great setup will really love this book. Personally, I thought the setup in books 8 and 9 were good ... but this was absolutely stupendous. Fans of total plot inertia will be in heaven.

I've grown to hate the character of Rand because whenever he makes an appearance the plot is in danger of moving incrementally forward. Thankfully, Mr. Jordan saves us from any threatening plot developments by keeping Rand almost totally absent from this book. And when he is introduced - briefly - towards the very end, Mr. Jordan quickly whisks him off to the sidelines before anything interesting can happen. Whew! I'm wiping the sweat off my brow because that was a close one.

Have you ever wondered how many stripes should be on the dublet of an important dignitary from Illian? How many shawl twitches are appropriate when Aes Sedai negotiate momentous agreements? What kind of stool the general of an Aes Sedai army sits on, and how stable said stool might be? Well buckle up for a wild ride, amigo, because you're going to learn all that (and more!) by the time you've tediously slogged to the conclusion of this book.

Part of what really makes Mr. Jordan's worlds so unique are the wonderful characters which populate them. I like nothing more than to scratch my head in befuddlement as yet another Aes Sedai is reintroduced into the plot whom I can no longer recall. It gives me an excuse to page to the back of the book and open up the 'Robert Jordan Appendix of Useless and Irrelevant Characters' which is always such a joy. I've created my own drinking game based on this called, [...]
For anyone who wants to play along the rules are simple:

1.) Is the character you're looking up totally irrelevent? Take a drink.
2.) Do you have reason to suspect said character will remain totally irrelevent? Take a drink.
3.) Does the character twitch her shawl? Take two drinks.
4.) Is she looking "cross-eyed" at someone? Take a drink.
5.) Do you know the exact design of the embroidery on the fringe of her shawl? Of course you do - take a drink. For your own sanity, consider taking another.

23 November, 2010

It's News To Me #34

I'm excited to have today and the rest of the week off in a much needed Thanksgiving break. Even though we'll be visiting family, I have soooo much to do to get ready for finals. Bargh.

Cover Art

I don't know why I haven't yet read anything by Mark Hodder, but these covers just keep getting better:

...and the still cool, but not quite as awesome UK version:

(thanks Edi's Book Lighthouse)


Brandon Sanderson will have a new Mistborn novel coming out next year (it's the secret project he's been working on). That also means I will be reading the original trilogy next year. :)

Entertainment Weekly has some awesome stills of HBO's Game of Thrones. Pretty much, I need this to start now. Maybe I should start reading the series again. You know, "if you read it, the next volume will come".

22nd November 2010 ~ For Immediate Release


On December 1st 2010, Angry Robot will be launching “Nano Editions”. Exclusive to the publisher’s own webstore at angryrobotstore.com, Nanos are digital short stories by Angry Robot novelists, sold at sensible prices in ePub format, ready to load onto the world’s most popular eBook readers.

Most Nanos will be in the 5,000 – 15,000 word range. Shorter works than that will be automatically bundled with another story to ensure value for money.

Talking of which – stories will cost just 59p each (approximately US $0.95). Readers can bundle a collection of any 10 by any combination of authors, for only £3.49 (US$5.59). The files will be DRM-free and available worldwide. If demand for the stories takes off, AR plan to also sell them via eBook retailers.

Angry Robot Editor Lee Harris said, “Publishing is changing, but our role as publishers remains the same – to find cool stories and bring them to readers. This is another step in Angry Robot’s ongoing plan to embrace the new opportunities digital formats provide – and an excellent way for readers to sample unfamiliar authors, without breaking the bank.”

Authors included in the Nanos series include multi-million-selling novelist Dan Abnett and award-winning short fiction authors Kaaron Warren and Aliette de Bodard, along with many others. We will have at least 30 Nanos available for the December 1st launch, with more added at regular intervals.

Lee Harris
Editor, Angry Robot

Here's another Press Release from Seventh Star Press (Full release here):
Now available for pre-order in a specially priced limited edition hardcover and trade paperback, DREAM OF LEGENDS continues the adventures begun in CROWN OF VENGEANCE, when it was released in fall of 2009.

DREAM OF LEGENDS journeys forward with several characters from the modern world, who discover that finding themselves in the fantastical lands of Ave was just the beginning. The assault upon the Kingdom of Saxany and the tribes of the Five Realms ignites, as the eyes of The Unifier turn southward, across the seas towards faraway Midragard. Within this maelstrom, some find themselves on a path of discovery, to uncover powers that lie within, while others must brave perilous journeys, to seek out
the things said to exist only in the faded mists of myth and legend. Epic battles, plot twists, and new environments abound in DREAM OF LEGENDS.

In other news, Happy Thanksgiving!

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

19 November, 2010

(Audiobook) Review - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Young Katniss Everdeen has survived the dreaded Hunger Games not once, but twice, but even now she can find no relief. In fact, the dangers seem to be escalating: President Snow has declared an all-out war on Kattnis, her family, her friends, and all the oppressed people of District 12. The thrill-packed final installment of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy will keep young hearts pounding.

[US] [UK] is the conclusion to The Hunger Games trilogy and actually my favorite of the three.

There's definitely a split of opinion when it comes to this book. I know lots of people that hated the ending, but I thought it not only worked, but was so unexpected for me that it really made the entire series that much better.

Lots of people wanted Katniss to really exact her revenge, to blow the Capitol away and really take it to President Snow. I admit, coming into this book, I was expecting much the same. Yet, what we get is something quite different, but which in retrospect is much more fitting for the characters.

This is a warning, there will probably be spoilers if you haven't read the first two (The Hunger Games and Catching Fire), so continue if you dare. :)

Katniss is now a resident of the once thought to be desolate District 13, which is actually the center for the resistance against the Capitol. In the conclusion to Catching Fire, Katniss is whisked away while the resistance leaves Peeta to an uncertain demise at the hands of President Snow.

District 13 is quite the place. With restrictions on food intake, bans on saving food, and other constraints, the resistance is looking about as fascist as the Capitol - only lacking in the whole send your kids off to kill each other aspect.

The resistance, however, seems to be taking some steps in the right direction because some of the other districts are following suit. The Capitol has its ways and means to subvert the populace, however; most especially with the use of its broadcasts...where Peeta makes his first appearance in the book. The only problem is that Peeta is supporting the Capitol...or is he?

I don't want to go too far into this. Let it be said that the conclusion was well done, but heartbreaking, throwing in some twists that I didn't expect, but that fit perfectly with the characters and the events.

The only thing I thought wasn't done that well, and I'll spoiler alert this, was the love triangle between Peeta, Katniss, and Gale. Gale was the stalwart presence while Peeta was almost immediately taken out of the equation. With things lining up at the end of Catching Fire, especially with people drawing the Twilight line between Team Peeta and Team Gale, more should have been done to keep this going or at least keep it at play.

Audio Commentary

While at first I had a hard time with Carolyn McCormick's reading of The Hunger Games (the first in the trilogy), I grew to like her by Mockingjay. She's a bit monotone, but the more I listened, the more I realized it fits the setting and situations quite well.

Why Should You Read The Hunger Games?

Well, if you read speculative fiction at all, you've probably already read this series and moved on. If you are one of the few who haven't, it's not a bad series. The characters are likable, the situations are made realistic, the story is straight-forward and fast-paced, and it's even thought-provoking at times. It is told in first person, of which I know some aren't the biggest of fans, but overall Recommended.

3.5 out of 5 Stars

17 November, 2010

It's News To Me #33

I think last week's update was a little unruly, so I'm trying something different this week and a bit simpler. Let me know if this works better for you if you even notice a difference (as opposed to this one).

Cover Art

This cover isn't quite finalized as alluded to by the author, Stephen Deas, but I think it's looking pretty good nonetheless. The Warlock's Shadow is the second in Deas' YA series starting with The Thief-Taker's Apprentice [US] [UK]. I guess you can't go wrong with a hooded figure and a "shadow" in the title.


  • China Mieville's next book, Embassytown [US] [UK], has a blurb. This one seems to be getting lots of push now that he won so many awards for The City and The City.
Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe.

Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts - who cannot lie.

Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes.

Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts.
  • Number 2 in the Aspect Emperor series, The White-Luck Warrior [US] [UK], jumped on the blurb-wagon too:
As Anasûrimbor Kellhus and his Great Ordeal march ever farther into the perilous wastes of the Ancient North, Esmenet finds herself at war with not only the Gods, but her own family as well. Achamian, meanwhile, leads his own ragtag expedition to the legendary ruins of Sauglish, and to a truth he can scarce survive, let alone comprehend. Into this tumult walks the White-Luck Warrior, assassin and messiah both, executing a mission as old as the World’s making …

The White-Luck Warrior is a story filled with heart-stopping action, devious treachery, grand passion and meticulous detail. It is both a classic quest tale and a high fantasy war story.
  • Blake Charlton's sequel (lots of sequels this week), Spellbound [US] [UK], has a synopsis as well:
In a world where one’s magical prowess is determined by one’s skill with words and ability to spell, Nicodemus is a wizardly apprentice afflicted by a curse that causes him to misspell magical texts. Now, the demon who cursed him has hatched a conspiracy to force Nicodemus to change language and ultimately use it to destroy all human life. As Nico tries to thwart the demon’s plan, he faces challenges from all sides. But his biggest challenge is his own disability, which causes him to create chaos wherever he goes. And the chaos surrounding Nico is affecting the world so profoundly that the kingdom to which he has fled to gather strength is on the brink of civil war, and he suspects that his closest allies—even Francesca, whom he loves more than life itself—may be subject to the demon’s vast powers. As Nico tries to forestall the apocalypse, he realizes that he doesn’t know if he can fully trust anyone, not even the woman he loves. And if he makes one wrong move, not only will his life be forfeit, he may end up destroying all mortal life as well.

Introducing new twists to the unique magical system of Spellwright, and exploring issues that will bring readers a deeper appreciation of a fascinating world, Spellbound is sure to please Blake Charlton’s fans and increase their number.

  • I haven't read a ton of comics, but I've enjoyed everything I have read. Ryan, at Battle Hymns, has a great segment called Comic Quickies where he quickly overviews four or five comics - giving someone like me, who has no clue where to start, a starting point.

  • A new blog jumped into my line of site and it's all about audiobooks - Audiobook Jukebox. You know I have a penchant for them...plus it helps they featured one of my reviews. :)

Book Trailers

This should be good news for some. I haven't read any of the Immortals series, but here's some blurbage and a Book Trailer:
Available November 16th from St. Martin's Press is Alyson Noël's latest release in her widely loved 'Immortals' series, 'Night Star'.

"Night Star continues the epic love story that has enchanted readers across the world. In this installment, Ever and Damen face down bitter rivals, jealous friends and their own worst fears—all in the hope of being together forever. Night Star is guaranteed to mesmerize fans and leave them breathlessly awaiting the sixth and final book!"

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

12 November, 2010

(Audiobook) Review - Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card

While still a proponent that Card should have left it at Ender's Game and been done with this saga, Ender's Shadow [US] [UK] is not only good, it's definitely worth reading.

As a parallel novel to Orson Scott Card's classic Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow follows Bean, the kid Ender treats like the teachers treated him.

While hesitant to pick this up, I had heard that the Shadow series is better than the original quartet, but I couldn't get away from the feeling that it would pretty much be the same book. I'm glad I was wrong.

The first quarter or so of the book takes us from Beans upbringing in the slums of Rotterdam as he barely survives on the streets through the child gangs and bullying to his discovery and entry into Battle School.

Already, Ender's Shadow is completely different from Ender's Game. Bean has obviously survived because of his immense intelligence, which not only rivals Ender's, but far surpasses it. The only problem is there is one other person on the streets who happens to have it out for Bean because of what Bean's done to him. Achilles (pronounced Asheel) holds grudges like no one else, but also knows how to work the system, especially adults.

Card is a master storyteller, even turning what is essentially the same story in Ender's Game into something new and unique. Characterization is flawless and while Bean is a super-intelligent kid, he is in every way relatable to the reader. Let's be honest, kids can be brutal and Card understands this perfectly.

Bean is able to out-think everyone at flight school from the kid commanders to the teachers and officers. He knows what will get him in trouble whether it's bullies or teachers, but he also knows most everything else that is going on in Battle School even those things the teachers don't want him to know. Those things that make him a risk and have the teachers wondering whether he belongs.

Audio Commentary

There is a full cast for this one and Scott Brick, playing Bean, does an amazing job. In fact there's not one bad performance and even the great Stefan Rudnicki plays a minor role (Worth it just to listen to him).

At the end of the book, Card gives an afterword that mainly discusses the movie Ender's Game that he says will be a combination of Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow. This wasn't the original decision, but actually helped to cut down the script being able to play from both point of views.

Card also mentions that once someone writes a book everyone starts asking when it's going to be made into a movie, to which he replies, it's already in it's perfect form, it's a book. Too true!

Sadly, this movie will probably never come to pass - I don't know how long these talks have been going on, but it's been a while.

Why Should You Read Ender's Shadow?

This is a great follow up (or beginning) to the classic, Ender's Game. It puts you right into the setting and mind of the main character and everything becomes real. Coupled with Card's writing, you can't go wrong - this is a great book. Highly Recommended.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

10 November, 2010

It's News To Me #32

The local library had one of their annual sales this week and I realized I pretty much live for these. :)

Picked up some great stuff, but I'm most proud of a Moorcock omnibus I found that has the first three books of the Eternal Champion, Elric, including Elric of Melniboné, The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, and The Weird of the White Wolf. It's usually pretty expensive, but only a buck at the library sale. May not be able to resist reading this ASAP.

Cover Art

This is a really cool cover for Book 2 in The Aeon's Gate, Black Halo [US] [UK]. It's vibrant, it's action-packed, and maybe I'm getting used to realistic personages on covers. It appears they're not going anywhere.

Wise Man's Fear [US] [UK] is done right? That's the word on the street at least. Gollancz has a picture of the manuscript and has let the excitement ensue. The March 1st, 2011 release date is holding strong although there are still copy edits, etc., etc. to do, this is happy news indeed.

Not only are pirates causing Global Warming, but they they're abusing the publishing market.The Speculative Scotsman, The Wertzone, as well as author, Celine Kiernan speak on the subject. (I think I got out enough stupid pirate spam for one day)

Pat has a list for authors to follow who don't want their work to be derivative junk. There are actually 75 questions, but here's a little taste:
- Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?

- Is your main character the heir to the throne but doesn't know it?
Seventh Star Press has some more good news with their soon-to-be-released novel, Thrall (as seen above). Here's a tidbit (full press release here):
Seventh Star Press is proud to announce the release of THRALL, the new
heroic fantasy novel from author Steven L. Shrewsbury.

Now available for pre-order in limited edition hardcover and trade
paperback, THRALL is the first published adventure of a brand new hero in
fantasy literature, Gorias La Gaul.

Set in an ancient world, Thrall is gritty, dark-edged heroic fantasy in
the vein of Robert E. Howard and David Gemmell. It tells the story of
Gorias La Gaul, an aging warrior who has lived for centuries battling the
monstrosities of legend and lore. It is an age when the Nephilum walk the
earth, and dragons still soar through the air … living or undead. On a
journey to find one of his own blood, Gorias' path crosses with familiar
enemies ... some of whom not even death can hold bound.

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site
for Seventh Star Press, at www.seventhstarpress.com , or at the author's
site at www.stevenshrewsbury.com

Lastly, there's The Great Steampunk Kerfluffle of ought '10 that The Mad Hatter nicely summarizes.

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

04 November, 2010

Review - The Price of Spring by Daniel Abraham

The Long Price Quartet has officially moved Daniel Abraham onto my list of authors whose works I buy immediately upon publication.

The first half of this series, A Shadow in Summer and A Betrayal in Winter, dealt more individually with themes and characters yet gave us a world all its own, epic in every sense of the word. They displayed the author's proficiency with plotting and character development and gave us the tragic tone of the series.

In the latter half, An Autumn War and The Price of Spring [US] [UK books 3 & 4], Abraham takes us to a whole new level in this uniquely crafted world of the Khaiem.

While the first two books also involve decisions made by the main characters that could effect the entire world, the latter two involve decisions that effect the world in an enormous way and change the way people live out their lives.

Set years after the events of An Autumn War, the people of the Khaiem and the Galts, still not on the best of terms, attempt to work something out for both cultures to survive their ill fates.

Otah Machi attempts to deal with the hand that is dealt to him, negotiating with the Galts to ship their women to the Khaiem so that both countries aren't ruined or picked apart by other countries for their lack of offspring.

Some call it whoring the women out, some call it saving the races, but mostly there is a deep sadness as the current generation of women feel betrayed and useless for their inability to have children.

Otah sees this as his chance to get rid of the old practices of the Khaiem where the sons kill each other off to become the next ruler, or Khai.

Maati Vaupathi, once Emperor Otah Machi's friend, once his enemy, has found himself again opposing Otah's wishes. Exiled for creating the andat Seedless, who all but ruined both the Khaiem and the Galts, taking away their ability to reproduce separately, Maati is resentful towards his old friend who had just as much of a part to play in the disaster that fell on both countries.

But, he has found a way to redeem himself and the name of all poets everywhere as he attempts to right the wrong he has done. Doesn't he deserve a chance to make things better and save those women the heartbreak that a generation of half-breeds will provide?

With a steady and inventive plot that continually has you guessing just off the mark, The Price of Spring is epic in consequences and as tragic as its predecessors, perhaps even more so.

I enjoyed the fact that we got to see these characters throughout their lives. By the end of The Price of Spring, Maati and Otah are well into their later years.

I enjoyed the physical language of the Khaiem and thought it brought a wonderful atmosphere to the books even though I think I pictured ever pose, whether "thank you" or "good by", as someone putting both arms up walking like an Egyptian. Couldn't get that out of my head.

I did, however, have one slight problem with the behavior of Maati and Otah and I couldn't quite enjoy the book as much as I wanted to (and hence the slightly lower rating). While I understand the animosity between them, I thought it was stretched a bit. I know they both had different views of the situation, but I felt like they really should have understood each other better than they gave off, especially when they started acting like two brawling children.

I know I always harp on language, and I will stop, but I think too many authors are siding with reality over originality when it comes to some of the more colorful language. What else can you use in a maddening situation when you've already used everything in the book? This book hardly if ever uses any foul language, but the one time it did, it took me back a step.

Why Should You Read The Long Price Quartet?

I've mentioned this before and I'll say it again. This series is a great read. It's slower paced, but packs a punch with plot and characterization and the world is something all its own.

4 out of 5 Stars

03 November, 2010

It's News To Me #31

I just got a new Mac and I have to say, I don't make many good decisions, but this is one of the better ones. Even blogger works better with a Mac. Who'd've thunk?


I don't usually put news first, but I felt this was deserved:

Science Fiction and Fantasy comes to Leeds

On Saturday March 12th 2011, Leeds will be hosting its first Science Fiction and Fantasy event in many years - ConJour.

The one day event is being sponsored by Tor UK and SFF fans will have the opportunity to attend guest talks and panels, and meet some of their favourite authors at signing sessions taking place throughout the day.

Confirmed guests attending the event are Mike Carey, Kate Griffin, Mark Charan Newton, Justina Robson, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Freda Warrington.

The venue is the Leeds Park Plaza hotel which is set in the heart of Leeds city centre, with nearby bus and train transport links, and it is very close to a host of shops, bars and places to eat.

“I’ve been to many conventions and events over the years,” said Stephen Aryan, one of the event organisers. “But the majority of them tend to be in the south, which is a long way to travel for some people. So I’m hoping that by setting ConJour in Yorkshire it will attract fans from all over the country.

“I also appreciate that full weekend events can be a bit intimidating, especially if it’s your first time or you’re attending on your own. This way, by running a one day convention fans can enjoy the event, maybe make some new friends, and they won’t miss out on anything.”

For more information about ConJour visit the website www.conjureevents.co.uk or email conjour@hotmail.co.uk or follow on twitter conjour1

Cover ArtI love Daniel Abraham (no matter what his pen-name) and this, Leviathan Wakes, is high on my list for 2011. I hope Orbit gives him the marketing he deserves, and right now they have a cool wallpaper to tide us over for the release.


You have probably already noticed that I'm a big fan of The Wertzone. Adam does a great job with thought-provoking articles and I wanted to mention a few that I've been forgetting the last few weeks:

Power in Epic Fantasy

Does Science fiction need faster-than-light travel?

What I'm reading

I've finished a few books lately, but like I mentioned last week I just haven't had the time to write up reviews. You'd be surprised how long these actually take given how bad they are. :)

I finished The Ten Thousand [US] [UK] by Paul Kearney most recently and I agree that he's almost criminally underrated (not necessarily so by the blog-o-sphere) and I just picked up the sequel, Corvus [US] [UK], which I will be reading shortly.

In the past few weeks I've finished The Price of Spring by Daniel Abraham (review will be up this week), Ender's Shadow [US] [UK] by Orson Scott Card on audiobook, Mockingjay [US] [UK] by Suzanne Collins on audiobook, and I'm currently listening to Tigana [US] [UK] by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Boy am I late to the game with Kay and I still regret that. I'll be catching up soon enough though.

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