28 December, 2013

(audiobook) Review - The Garden of Stones (Echoes of Empire #1) by Mark T. Barnes

As usual, you can find this review for The Garden of Stones by Mark T. Barnes on SFFaudio.com where I do all my audiobook reviews. I really enjoyed this one although I'm sure it would have been better had I read it with my eyes instead of ears because of the amount of characters and the fact that it's like Erikson in that it drops you right in without explaining much.
With The Garden of Stones, I wonder if I would have stalled in my reading. I’m no stranger to being thrown into the action having survived (and thoroughly enjoyed!) Erikson’s masterpiece, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, so that probably wouldn’t have been a problem. I did, however, have a difficult time keeping a lot of the characters, names, and races straight through listening only. Had I had my eyes on this one, I probably would have enjoyed it even more than I already did.

26 December, 2013

Looking Forward to 2014 - Most Anticipated Books

Last year, I had high hopes, as I usually do, that I would read quite a few books in the year. I wasn't too far off, having read 57 or so, but lots of those were in the form of audiobooks, none of which were on my list last year. I'm getting a bit more conservative this year in terms of what I think I can actually read and leave a bit more open to what I randomly pick up throughout the year, which I know I will do regardless of any plans I make. It makes for happier reading that way anyway. In bold are those books I actually think I have a chance of reading this year.

Keep in mind, this is by no means an exhaustive list (or even remotely close), these are just the titles I'm especially interested in and I know I'm probably missing quite a few that I'll have to add later.


Brian Stavely, The Emperor's Blades - January 14
Myke Cole, Breach Zone (Shadow Ops #3) - January 28
Paul Kearney, A Different Kingdom - January 28
Miles Cameron, The Fell Sword (Traitor Son #2) - January 30


David Edison, The Waking Engine - February 11


Scott Lynch, The Bastards and the Knives (Gentlemen Bastards Novellas) - March 3 (UK)
Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) - March 4
Jon Sprunk, Blood and Iron (The Book of the Black Earth #1) - March 11


Michael J. Sullivan, The Hollow World - April 8 (Just finished)
Elizabeth Bear, Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3) - April 8
Robin Hobb, The Fool's Assassin (The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy #1) - April 10
Sam Sykes, The City Stained Red - April 17 (UK Date)


Brian McClellan, The Crimson Campaign (Powder Mages #2) - May 6
Jim Butcher, Skin Game (Dresden #15) - May 27
Douglas Hulick, Sworn in Steel (Tales of the Kin #2)


Mark Lawrence, Prince of Fools (The Red Queen's War #1) - June 3


Joe Abercrombie, Half a King


Lev Grossman, The Magician's Land (Magician's #3) - August
Daniel Abraham, The Widow's House (The Dagger and the Coin #4) - August 5
Jim Butcher, The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) - August 7
Brent Weeks, The Broken Eye (Lightbringer #3) - August 26
Ian Cameron Esslemont, Assail (Malazan Empire #6)


Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Stairs - September 9


Bradley P. Beaulieu, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai - October 1
Ernest Cline, Armada - October 7



Steven Erikson, Willfull Child - December 4 (says Goodreads)

TBD: (Mostly just hoping all these come out in 2014)
John Marco, The Bloody Chorus
Courtney Schafer, The Labyrinth of Flame (Shattered Sigil #3) 
Scott Lynch, The Thorn of Emberlain (Gentlemen Bastards #4)
Orson Scott Card,  (Mithermages #3)
Jeff Salyards, Veil of the Deserters (Bloodsounder's Arc #2)
Steven Erikson, Fall of Light (Kharkanas Trilogy #2) - Have to read Forge of Darkness first.
Janny Wurts, Destiny's Conflict (Wars of Light and Shadow #10)

Not Counting On:

Patrick Rothfuss, The Doors of Stone (Kingkiller Chronicle #3)
George R.R. Martin, The Winds of Winter (ASoIaF #6) 
Peter V. Brett, The Skull Throne (Demon Cycle #4) - Probably 2015

EDIT: Added a few I'd completely forgotten (like Cline's Armada for instance!), which makes no sense because I'm dying to read them. 

EDIT #2: Bennett's City of Stairs apparently has a release date in September.

22 December, 2013

eBook Deals - Sanderson, Gaiman, Martin, Beaulieu, Cameron

I haven't read any of Brandon Sanderson's novellas for the Infinity Blade game on iPhone, but I've played the first game and it's pretty fun until everything gets ridiculously pricy. They've always been $2.99, but I just saw they are reduced at the moment so of course I'm jumping on it. Anyone know how good they are?

[$0.99] Infinity Blade: Awakening (Infinity Blade #1) by Brandon Sanderson (novella set in Infinity Blade world)
[$0.99] Infinity Blade: Redemption (Infinity Blade #2)by Brandon Sanderson (novella set in Infinity Blade world)
[$1.99] Stardust by Neil Gaiman
[$2.99] A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire #5) by George R.R. Martin
[$2.99] The Winds of Khalakovo (Lays of Anuskay #1) by Bradley P. Beaulieu
[$2.99The Red Knight (Traitor Son #1) by Miles Cameron

21 December, 2013

(movie) Review - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (The Hobbit #2)

The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy is my all-time favorite movie trilogy ever. It was pure bliss watching these movies in the theaters and last year around this time I spoke about the grin on my face as I watched the first of The Hobbit movie trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (review). I absolutely loved it even despite all the rancor.

I can't say I felt exactly the same way this time.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug starts to show some of the bloat we all knew would be in a trilogy of movies surrounding a single book that was shorter than any of the books in the former trilogy that only needed a movie a piece. Even I, who couldn't get enough of the first movie, thought this one was getting a bit ridiculous with every single event getting turned into impossible action scenes. And then there's the, spoiler alert, scene with Gandalf and Sauron that was not only odd but at least twice as long as it needed to be ... which could be said about a few more scenes, especially the final one where the dwarves are chased by Smaug.

Last time, I made the argument that it doesn't make logical sense to expect a movie to actually follow the books when we know going into the movies that it's three movies out of a relatively short book. In all reality, these movies actually do follow the book pretty well ... for what it is. The main events are all there even though it's easy to get lost in the shenanigans. Then, of course, there are things such as the needless love interest, Evangeline Lily, getting added that just didn't need to be there.

It's easy to complain, and very many are taking advantage, but I don't mean to say I hated it, only that I felt the bloat this time. I enjoyed myself, I enjoyed the scenery, and I enjoyed the non-stop action. It's just that I'm finally finding myself questioning the need for three movies when two, though still much, might have been just right.

16 December, 2013

Giveaway Winner! Dangerous Women, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

I know I promised a giveaway winner on Friday, but the fact that I finally got a job and started this last week made that ... difficult. Now that I've caught my breath, our giveaway winner for Dangerous Women, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois is:

Mark Cooper from Ohio

Congrats to Mark and thanks to all who entered. We had record numbers for this pretty stellar anthology. If Mark doesn't respond in the next 24 hours I'll draw a new one, but don't get your hopes up. :)

07 December, 2013

eBook Deals - Brooks, King, Barnes

Luckily I already own these or my pocket book would really be suffering ... as if it's not already, but I figured someone out there might want to know about these.

[$2.49] World War Z by Max Brooks - My review. While impressed, I wasn't head-over-heals for it.
[$3.99] The Shining by Stephen King

Today Only:
[$1.99] The Garden of Stones (Echoes of Empire #1) by Mark T. Barnes - My review hasn't gone up yet, but I was very impressed with this unique world Barnes has created.
[$1.99] The Obsidian Heart (Echoes of Empire #2) by Mark T. Barnes

06 December, 2013

Review - The Last Colony (Old Man's War #3) by John Scalzi

I think John Scalzi is a fun author to read, one you can always go back to knowing you'll have an entertaining read. He's got smart, compassionate characters you can root for, fast-paced plots, and you always know you won't have to think too hard. I love to be challenged in my reading, but I don't want to be challenged with every single book I read. Thus, authors like John Scalzi make for the perfect break in your complex readings.

The Last Colony [US] [UK] is the final Old Man's War universe novel with John Perry and Jane Sagan. At least until the next one comes out right. I haven't read Zoe's Tale, but I assume it's predominately her (I'm good at making inferences from my reading aren't I?), at least I know it's her perspective of the events in The Last Colony. 

Here, John and Jane have been living the life on the planet of Huckleberry. Low key is the word and they couldn't be happier, maybe. Then, they're offered the chance to head a new colony that really needs them. Of course they agree and soon find out that things are not quite as expected. The good ol' Colonial Union isn't the most forthcoming with information about just about anything and they find themselves in lots of trouble (another 'of course' belongs here too). 

Scalzi's tight plotting keep things moving nicely and the mysteries keep the pages moving as well. The actual intent behind the colony is slowly revealed and not once did it lose me in believability (unlike Redshirts I might add). This was a great conclusion to John and Jane's story although the surprises in the first book, Old Man's War, just can't be beat for me. 

3.5 out of 5 stars (recommended)

Old Man's War Universe: (read in red)
1) Old Man's War (review - if you can call it that)
2) The Ghost Brigades (review)
3) The Last Colony
4) Zoe's Tale
5) The Human Division (2013 release)

The Sagan Diary
Questions for a Soldier
After the Coup

04 December, 2013

Giveaway - Dangerous Women, Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (With Stories from Joe Abercrombie, Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher, Martin Himself, and Plenty More!)

I'm very excited to bring this giveaway to you today, this is one of the biggest releases of the year with some of the greats of the fantasy genre and other genres as well. Dangerous Women [US] [UK] is exactly what the title says, it's an anthology with stories about dangerous women across multiple genres with some of the best authors writing today. This is one of the books I've been looking forward to all year and I'm happy to offer it to you, via the nice folks at Tor, as a giveaway.

But first, here's the lineup:
The Dangerous Women anthology contains following stories:
- Introduction by Gardner Dozois
- “Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie - A Red Country story
- “My Heart is Either Broken” by Megan Abbott
- “Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland
- “The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass
- “Bombshells” by Jim Butcher - A Harry Dresden story
- “Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn
- “Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale
- “Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm
- “I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block
- “Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson
- “A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman
- “The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman - A Magicians story
- “Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress
- “City Lazarus” by Diana Rowland
- “Virgins” by Diana Gabaldon - An Outlander story
- “Hell Hath No Fury” by Sherilynn Kenyon
- “Pronouncing Doom” by S.M. Stirling - An Emberverse story
- “Name the Beast” by Sam Sykes
- “Caretakers” by Pat Cadigan
- “Lies My Mother Told Me” by Caroline Spector - A Wild Cards story
- “The Princess and the Queen” by George R.R. Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire story
As you can see, we get stories from great authors like Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Jim Butcher, and even a George R.R. Martin novella from A Song of Ice and Fire. One of the big ones I've been looking forward to is Lev Grossman's story about Brakebills from his trilogy, The Magicians.

But wait, there's more.

No, actually that was it. Sorry, I started feeling like an infomercial for a sec. My excitement has turned into a sales pitch, doh! Well, suffice it to say, I'm really looking forward to reading just about everything in this anthology, but for now I've already jumped into Martin's The Princess and the Queen, because yeah.

The Giveaway!

If you are interested in getting your hands on Dangerous Women, then follow the exceedingly simple instructions below:

E-mail me your name and address at onlythebestsff@[removethis]gmail.com, with "Definitely Not Femme Fatales" as the subject of the email (or at least something that lets me know what the email is about). This goes without saying, but double emails get you disqualified.

Snarky comments increase your chances of winning by getting you bonus entries for future giveaways. This is US Only (sorry!) as long as delivery doesn't require the mounting of an expedition into remote wilderness.

03 December, 2013

eBook Deals - Weeks, Gaiman, Card, McClellan, Cornwell, Sanderson, Butcher, Martin, Jordan

I thought I was keeping my spending under control, until the last couple weeks. These deals are insane. I hate them. So much that I can't stop buying everything that ever went on sale. And of course I have to pass them on to you. Does that mean I hate you?

[$1.79] The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks - I still have fond memories of this series years later.

[$1.99] Stardust by Neil Gaiman - My review.
[$1.99] Ender's Game (Ender #1) by Orson Scott Card
[$1.99] Promise of Blood (Powder Mages #1) by Brian McClellan - My review.
[$1.99] Death of Kings (Saxon Stories #6) by Bernard Cornwell - Not fantasy, but it does have a GRRM quote on the cover.

[$2.49] Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson
[$2.49] The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer #2) by Brent Weeks
[$2.49] Cold Days (Dresden Files #14) by Jim Butcher

[$2.99] The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson - My review.
[$2.99] A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire #5) by George R.R. Martin

[$4.29] A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time #14) by Robert Jordan

[$9.99 or $1.99 a piece] All 5 Books of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (usually around $27)

25 November, 2013

Guest Post: On Kurt Vonnegut's Short Story 2BR02B Film in the Making

If you've followed this blog for any period of time, you may have realized my fascination (read borderline obsession) with Kurt Vonnegut. The Sirens of Titan is one of my all-time favorite books and my introduction to this mad genius. His short stories can be hit or miss I'll admit, but when they hit they're genius. Read Harrison Bergeron (found in the Welcome to the Monkey House collection) immediately to find out. 2BR02B (pronounced "To Be Or Not To Be") is another one of the hits.

Thus, you can imagine my excitement that it is being turned into a film with none other than Paul Giamatti starring.  I know, from the stats, that there are plenty of Vonnegut fans who check out this blog so I figured there might be a few people as excited as I am. They've assembled an all-star team and put together an Indiegogo campaign to obtain funding. For more information, see this intro video:

I was contacted by the screenwriter and producer of the project, Derek Ryan, and I am happy to do what I can to promote, let's be honest, pretty much anything Vonnegut. Here's are Ryan's own words about Vonnegut and this film project he's currently working on:


2BR02B and I met by chance one dark night on the internet. It was a steamy encounter, and I was immediately enraptured by the weaving tale of one Father’s choice when confronted with his “perfect” society’s ugly underside. It’s basically about starting a family, and what sacrifices you have to make when starting that family. Though, in our case, it’s taken a little bit to the extreme. Guns are involved, Gas Chambers are invoked. People die. When your world has a one-in one-out policy in regards to global population, family planning becomes very important. You don’t want to be the guy that has to show up to the hospital and tell the Doctor you don’t have the necessary person to die, and then he says your kid won’t be allowed to live. It can’t be good for your marriage. Nobody wants that conversation.

So, saying that, I immediately recognized the potential of this project to be turned into a film. Since Kurt Vonnegut is such a masterful storyteller, everything I needed was right there. Adapting for the screen was no great challenge, and the story is so strong. A lot of Sci-Fi is empty guns, and space ships, and so on. With this piece, it’s a real emotional ride. It’s dark. It asks questions. Plus, it has some kick ass Sci-Fi gimmicks that we all know and love. 

It really has been an amazing experience adapting this story though. I’ve learned a lot about Kurt Vonnegut, and a lot about population. Did you know he named Slaughterhouse-5 after the freezer he stayed in as a POW in Dresden? He was the only one who could speak German, and had to translate for all of the other Prisoners. For me, growing up without war, I can never relate to that.

But anyways, to the point. Do you guys want to see this film or what?! It’s going to be great. It’s funny, it has amazing Art (Check our fb page for more on that), and it’s just a damn good story! Plus on top of all of that, we get to shoot Paul Giamatti in the face, and I get to make my dream come true, and prove to my High School teachers that I made myself into something. Help make it happen Folks. We want to get a lot of small contributions, so anything that you can get towards us will go a long way. It might mean the difference between feeding me canned beans, or a subway sandwich. Nobody wants somebody eating beans on a film set. The sound guys hate it.

Here is our page -- http://bit.ly/1bCjYXB


Make sure to download the 2BR02B short story for free on Kindle, or check out the Indiegogo page for this project for a link to free reading online. It's well worth your time.

22 November, 2013

eBook Deals - McClellan, Hough, Martin, Card, King

Two posts in a day? I'm just as surprised as you. I guess this is a good day for this particular book to go on sale in memory of John F. Kennedy's tragic death 50 years ago. Stephen King's 11/22/63 is the deal of the day today. Also, there's an unexpected discount on A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin. I guess the mass market paperback barely came out and they're pretty much giving copies away now.

[$1.99] Promise of Blood (Powder Mages #1) by Brian McClellan - A 2013 release and still on sale.
[$1.99] The Darwin Elevator (Dire Earth Cycle #1) by Jason M. Hough
[$2.99] A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire #5) by George R.R. Martin
[$3.99] Ender's Game (Ender #1) by Orson Scott Card

Today Only:
[$2.9911/22/63 by Stephen King

(quick) Review - Joyland (Hard Case Crime) by Stephen King

I decided this review didn't need to be more than a quick one. I've said enough, why say more. I couldn't put Joyland [US] [UK] down. It was a fascinating look at carny life, touching at times, and proves King can still write a wonderful story less than 1000 pages long. The noir, crime-solving aspect was almost an afterthought to this interesting tale of life working at an amusement park.

If you have fond memories of a summer job where you almost spoke a different language with your co-workers and really bonded, possibly even for life, this book is certainly for you. I worked as a lifeguard for a couple summers and it brought back fond memories of messing with the rubes (I'm officially only speaking in Carny Talk). We'd go on break and jump in the pool and pretend we couldn't swim. Good times!

Joyland is full of nostalgia and some really sweet moments that had me tearing up. It's easy to forget that anything else is going on, you're so wrapped up in the lives of these characters and then boom! a climactic ending causing all bodily functions to stop until I was done.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (read it, read it now)

16 November, 2013

Review - Manifesto UF, Edited by Tim Marquitz and Tyson Mauermann

I like to read anthologies slowly and when the mood for that particular theme strikes me. This has been so for a while and it will probably never cease. I've come to believe that this type of reading schedule is exactly what anthologies were made for and it helps break up some of my other reading projects that are usually in either Science Fiction or Fantasy with little deviation, especially to Urban Fantasy. So, it took a while to read Manifesto UF [US] [UK], even there were some excellent stories. 

What will bring me to an anthology like this is the big named authors, even though this is a small-press publication. I've enjoyed authors like Jeff Salyards and heard lots of good things about Teresa Frohhock and Zachary Jernigan. Of course the big names** performed as expected, but I was even more impressed by the lesser known authors. 

**by which I mean, authors whose work I've seen at Barnes & Noble.

Nick Sharps scared the crap out of me with his creepy story of Toejam and Shrapnel and Abhinav Jain created a really interesting world with Indian influences. Kenny Soward impressed me with his debut, Rough Magic, and did so yet again with his story Dust Woman. I don't think I completely got That Old Tree by R.L. Treadway and yet the imagery was visceral. I enjoyed Lincoln Crisler's superhero anthology, Corrupts Absolutely?, and his short story, Queen's Blood, was an excellent addition here. I think my favorite, though, might have to go to Nephilim by TSP Sweeney. 

I think what keeps me away from urban fantasy mostly is the line between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy can often be a fine one. I like to focus on the fantastical elements, magic, etc. rather than the rather mundane sex and whatnot (many things go in the "whatnot" category). While there's plenty of sex here that got to be a bit much for this prude at times, there's also a healthy dose of magic and interesting creatures and myths. 

Both the pros and the soon-to-be pros shine in this anthology. I didn't have time to list each story individually, but suffice it to say, I can't name a bad one in the bunch. Urban fantasy is not always my cup of tea, and that's because so many subscribe to a certain formula, but Manifesto UF really pushed those bounds and I like to see that. This is urban fantasy I like to read.

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

Note - Full disclosure: I'm a huge fan of Tim Marquitz, one of the editors of this anthology, and I consider Tyson Mauermann, the other editor, a friend I've met through blogging and forums. Take this as you will. 

Full list of stories - authors:
Rev – Kirk Dougal | I’m an Animal. You’re an Animal, Too – Zachary Jernigan | Los Lagos Heat – Karina Fabian | Savage Rise – Adam Millard | Front Lines, Big City – Timothy Baker | Break Free – Ryan Lawler | Naked the Night Sings – Teresa Frohock | Double Date – Andrew Moczulski | That Old Tree – R.L. Treadway | Dharmasankat – Abhinav Jain | Nephilim – TSP Sweeney | Toejam & Shrapnel – Nickolas Sharps | Green Grow the Rashes – William Meikle | Under the Dragon Moon – Jonathan Pine | Gold Dust Woman – Kenny Soward | Wizard’s Run – Joshua S. Hill |Chains of Gray – Betsy Dornbusch | Bloody Red Sun of Fantastic LA – Jake Elliot | Queen’s Blood – Lincoln Crisler | Beneath a Scalding Moon – Jeff Salyards | Separation Anxiety – J.M. Martin | Blessing and Damnation – Wilson Geiger | Jesse Shimmer Goes to Hell – Lucy A. Snyder

07 November, 2013

Review - The Forever Knight (A Novel of the Bronze Knight) by John Marco

The Forever Knight [US] [UK] is John Marco's return to fantasy writing after a number of years break. A couple of those years were not self-imposed, which makes the release of this book that much more rewarding.

This book is a follow-up novel to the epic trilogy of The Bronze Knight or The Inhumans or Lukien Trilogy.** The Forever Knight continues the journey of our hero, Lukien, but in first person this time as opposed to third person used in the trilogy.

**I have to mention that I love that the trilogy goes by so many different names. I think The Inhumans is the intended one, but it's such a cool mystic about the series that it can go by any of them.
It's interesting that the author chose to use first person in this new series and I think overall it was a good decision. First person is much more intimate and lets you get to know the character that much better. In this one, Lukien is a bit more crude and hard-headed and we didn't get this part of him in the main trilogy because we weren't in his head. Now that's not to say that this is a different Lukien, one not true to form in the trilogy, it's a very realistic portrayal of a character we knew, but didn't know this well.

While I don't think there was a point of view in the trilogy that I didn't enjoy, I even commented that in the second book, The Devil's Armor, I didn't even miss Lukien's limited page count point of view all that much because I was so fascinated by the other characters. Having said that, it was really a pleasure to read one pov that is the main character. You know the plot will move along and there will be plenty of action, which you won't be disappointed with. 

I struggled for a rating with this book because while I highly enjoyed it, it's just about impossible to overcome how much I enjoyed the Lukien trilogy. And that makes sense because we're talking 300 pages versus about 2400. However, I am looking forward to where Marco will take Lukien next in Walker Between Worlds and may have to reassess my rating once this new series of books is through.

John Marco is back to form, writing intelligent and thought-provoking fantasy that I can't get enough of. Also, note that The Forever Knight can be read without reading the trilogy as it's a self-contained story, but I highly recommend the Lukien/Bronze Knight/Inhumans trilogy because it's full of awesome.

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

Lukien Trilogy (read in red)
1) The Eyes of God (review)
2) The Devil's Armor (review)
3) The Sword of Angels (review)

The Forever Knight
- Walker Between Worlds (Forthcoming)

04 November, 2013

Review - Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

I'm not usually a fan of crime novels or crime noir, whatever you want to call them. I also can't watch CSI or NCIS because even though I acknowledge they are well done, I've even been known to enjoy them on occasion, they tend to be the same cookie-cutter/paint-by-numbers plot.

However, add a little science fiction and the mix can be brilliant as demonstrated in Leviathan Wakes [US] [UK].

Leviathan Wakes (LW) takes place solely in our solar system, which is a rare thing for most SF works it seems and yet it felt just as futuristic and vast as anything else I've read. It also contributed to the feeling that this future could very well be our own not too distantly.

One of the brilliant ideas that gets explored has to do with racism. In this new solar-system wide colonization, there are certain physical traits that are readily apparent whether you are born on Earth and the surrounding planets such as Mars or beyond the astroid belt. Those on Earth are stockier due to the much more intense gravity and those beyond the belt, or Belters, are skinnier and much taller. 

These differences along with the dependence on Earth no matter where anyone is make for difficult times politically and a solar-system on the brink of outright war at any given moment.

LW follows from the viewpoints of two characters (not counting the prologue and the epilogue), one a captain of a transport ship (Jim Holden) and the other an investigator (Detective Miller). Holden inadvertently gets his crew involved in a solar-system wide struggle and Miller is just doing his job and gets entangled himself. Holden is an Earther and Miller a Belter.

There are mysteries, set-ups, and atrocities (and even vomit-zombies!) and yet it really comes down to the characters despite how captivating the plot is or even how intriguing the ideas are.

The characters are the best. Holden's crew is one I'm looking forward to following through the next couple books (hopefully), and Miller is smart and interesting too. The only drawback really is that due to the whole story coming through the points of view of Holden and Miller, much of the discoveries have to come through them too. And as smart and capable as they both are, it's a little unbelievable that they're the only two in the entire system that could make the connections they make to solve the mysteries.

Overall, LW's a great read that's hard to put down. I found myself drawn to it every time I had a spare moment and that's always a good sign. The action is constant and you're pulled from one scene to the next with some great reveals and revelations.

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

The Expanse: (Read in Red)
0.5) The Butcher of Anderson Station
1) Leviathan Wakes
2) Caliban's War
2.5) Gods of Risk
3) Abaddon's Gate
4) Cibola Burn (Comes out 2014)