23 July, 2013

(audiobook) Review - Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void by Tim Lebbon

My review is up of Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void by Tim Lebbon. It was fun, and like all Star Wars audiobooks, there's lots of noises outside of the narrator's voice. Some I've heard don't care for this, but I you'll hardly count me in their number.
The “Je’daii” have a mysterious society that does its own thing, which tends to be for the betterment of the universe, saying “may the force go with you.”... Also, they use the force and swords and have masters and apprentices. So it’s definitely an origin story and not just an exact replication of the jedi we know and love.

19 July, 2013

Abercrombie in 2014 After All!

This news is too big to contain even though I'm insanely busy. Joe Abercrombie, who previously claimed to be "on a break" is now a good way through a new YA trilogy, the first of which is already written. Says Joe:
The current plan, subject to change, of course, is to publish the book simultaneously across the English-speaking world in July 2014, with two sequels following at six monthly intervals in January and July 2015.
He goes on to explain that this book is less than half the word count of his previously shortest book, Red Country.  And even though it's YA, it should make his adult readers happy too. He also explains his plans for the next First Law universe trilogy that will take him at least until 2017, but check out the blog post for all the details.

The description for Half a King, out in July 2014 from HarperVoyager and HarperCollins Children's Books:
HALF A KING – the first of three standalone but interconnected novels aimed at younger readers – will be published in summer 2014. A classic coming-of-age tale, set in a brilliantly imagined alternative historical world reminiscent of the Dark Ages with Viking overtones, the book tells the story of Yarvi, youngest son of a warlike king. Born with a crippled hand, he can never live up to his father’s expectations of what a real man should be and his destiny is not the throne but the Ministry, not the sword and shield but the book and the soft word spoken.
But when his father and brother are killed, Yarvi is propelled to kingship and must sit in the Black Chair, between gods and men, and half a man must find a way to rule as half a king. Thus begins a gripping switchback ride of a tale that will carry Yarvi far beyond his kingdom, from the heights of royalty to the depths of slavery, during the course of which he must find better ways to fight than with a sword, and learn the lessons that will make him a man.

15 July, 2013

Review - The World of the End by Ofir Touche Gafla

What started out so promising, full of cleverness and interesting mysteries, turned out being something I just wasn't enjoying and thus I had to put it down. There's just too much out there that spending time on something just to finish it will no longer be an activity I pursue.

Ben Mendelssohn commits suicide to be with his wife, Marian, who died a year earlier. He discovers a world, the Other World, that is both similar and completely different from our own world, but completely different from anything any religion has ever predicted. 

It was impressive that Gafla is able to handle this topic without any religion at all, except maybe a passing mention at the beginning when Ben laughs at those around him for their misconceptions of the afterlife.

What's also impressive is Gafla's unique humor and creativity. Ben is an epilogist, which is a word that exists but not (that I've found) with the meaning that is given in this book. He rewrites endings, mostly to popular books. He's a genius at his job and saves even the best of writers from poor endings (I guess Stephen King could use his services eh?). In other words, he's a "righter." I loved the clever little details that pop up such as this, it's also what sold me from the beginning when I could have easily moved on to something else.

The World of the End [US] [UK] is also unique in that it follows Ben's pursuit of his wife, but alternates between random chapters following for instance the life of a photo or someone from the living world. These began as interesting and fun interludes, but they also take away from the narrative and make it a bit scattered and less cohesive of a narrative, at least until later in the book when they start to fit together a bit more ... well some of them.

As we enter back into Ben's new world, we discover this new world that is extremely well put-together. From the multi-wheel to the godget, we find out more and more of this world of Ben's death, but at the expense of Ben's character. All we know is that he's passionate about finding his wife, but that's about it. We learn about this interesting world, but it gets really hard to care at all about what happens.

And while the world is interesting, some of the things people do is just odd and mildly to deeply depressing. For instance, people don't have the need to eat, but they can and you have to do so immediately or you lose the desire to eat entirely. But this also goes for just about any other vice you want so you have people deliberately falling back into bad habits. 

The following are more spoilery, so you've been warned:

Ben goes to meet his parents only to find out that while his father was dead, he fell in love with some one in the Other World and when his mother came to her death years later, she no longer mattered as much. Then, he finds that she really doesn't care either although she definitely did at first. But now she's found she enjoys being single.

So now Ben doesn't even know if Marian will even feel the same about him when he finally finds her.

Add to this the actor who takes his roles a bit to seriously, so much so that they make him a bit insane, or his pedophile brother whom he protects through attempted murder.

/End Spoilers
I just found these impossibly depressing. Yeah, people do feel this way and they probably would in such a world as Gafla has presented. But like I said, it depressed me to no end. Maybe people just change, but maybe it's because they've failed to work at it and they're selfish. The latter is more how it felt in this novel and its affect on other people, purely out of selfishness, is sad ... and did I mention depressing.

Maybe I'm a romantic (okay, I definitely am), but this novel just wasn't for me. I want to look forward to happiness, not more misery and sadness.

I fully acknowledge that I may be a unique case for this novel. As I mentioned, it's full of unique, clever, and even beautiful ideas and writing. I didn't enjoy it in the end, but then again I did enjoy plenty of things, it's all the pieces together that didn't work for me. I'm sure plenty will be highly impressed and enjoy it very much.

2 out of 5 Stars (did not finish, but enjoyed certain aspects)

13 July, 2013

(audiobook) Review - Jumper (Jumper #1) by Steven Gould

Even after all the magic of Hard Magic (review), Jumper's much simpler focus on one type of magic - teleportation - really hit its mark. Here's my review.
I’m also happy to report that the book is leaps and bounds better than the movie. With such a cool premise and such great previews, how did that movie suck so much? Oh yeah, they got the worst actor in the world to be the lead.

09 July, 2013

Review - Inheritance (Heir to the Blood Throne #1) by Tim Marquitz

Rupert is a thirteen-year-old orphan attempting to gain what little moments of joy he can from his miserable life. Between bullies and orphanage staff, he can't catch a break and yet it only gets worse when he's actually adopted ... by Jack the Ripper.

That's as bad as it gets, right? Well, Jack happens to be a vampire who plans not only to turn Rupert, but also to put him in charge of the estate while he leaves to attend to important business.

And Jack has lots of enemies that want to get into the estate.

Inheritance [US - only $0.99] [UK - only £0.77] is not your typical vampire tale, at least not your modernly typical vampire tale. The vampires aren't sexy in any way and Tim fills this world with his typical flair for awesomely grotesque monsters (i.e. a monster made of monsters - genius!). Vampires serve a purpose here and also explain Jack the Ripper's behavior. And in addition to great monsters, Rupert has a couple friends to help him out and explain the situation while the master of the house is away.

Inheritance is a coming of age tale for Rupert. As an orphan in a rough environment, he hasn't ever had it easy, but he also is forced to grow up quickly in his new environment as Jack's enemies converge.

I highly enjoyed Inheritance, book one of Heir to the Blood Throne. The only real criticism I can give is that it felt like it needed a bit more to the story as things just get ramped up and then the book is over. However, its biggest fault being that I want to read more is not really a bad thing now is it?

As a young adult book, Tim shows he can do it expertly, just like his adult horror and urban fantasy. Rupert was the quintessential thirteen-year-old, unsure of himself and his powers and willing to make it work. The monsters are classic Marquitz, I loved reading them and can't wait for more.

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

08 July, 2013

(audiobook) Review - Hard Magic (Grimnoir Chronicles #1) by Larry Correia

Hard Magic by Larry Correia is one of my favorite reads/listens of the year. What a cool book, highly recommended!
Hard Magic reeks of cool in the best possible way, especially when read by Bronson Pinchot. Yup, the Perfect Strangers actor is one of the coolest narrators I’ve ever listened to.

06 July, 2013

eBook Deals - Grant, McCarthy, Vonnegut, Druon, Jones, Kristoff

There are some deals I can't resist posting today. I'm still mad I missed Infinite Jest when it went on sale the other day. Now the waiting game begins, hopefully it will go on sale some time soon and I have plenty to read in between.

[$2.99Feed (Newsflesh #1) by Mira Grant
[$2.99] Germline by T.C. McCarthy
[$1.99] The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut - My favorite of his.
[$1.99] Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles #1) by Suzanne Collins
[$0.99] The Iron King by Maurice Druon - Part of the inspiration for Martin's A Game of Thrones.

I'd also recommend doing a search for Subterranean Press because they have lots of good deals on their books. Here's a link in fact.

Today Only:

[$1.99] Howl's Moving Castle (Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones - A favorite that I reviewed here.
[$2.99] Stormdancer (Lotus War #1) by Jay Kristoff - Reviews are mixed but not a bad price to try it out.

And definitely check out SFSignal's huge list of low-priced eBooks. They have a listing for Flatland though, which I know you can get for free but $0.99 might be worth it for the Oxford Press edition, I don't know.

01 July, 2013

The World of the End Giveaways!

There are a couple blogs giving away The World of the End [US] [UK] by Ofir Touche Gafla and I would highly recommend your prompt entry. Now don't confuse this title with all the "end of the world" movies coming out, this one's about the world after the end.

At about 20% in and The World of the End is one of the most unique books I've ever read ... in a good way. There's an odd humor to the whole thing, but it's also very sincere at times and the fact that the main character laughs at everyone for their misconceptions about the afterlife is something I'm sure many people reading this blog will enjoy.

So far, some of the unique things I've read include: a chapter from the point of view of a picture, the rules of the afterlife (for instance currency has been abolished - apologies to all the merchants, bankers, entrepreneurs, economists, etc.), a discussion with a man waiting for 10 years for the women who killed him (because he's still in love with her not for revenge), and plenty more (such as a love-affair over Salman Rushdie).

The Giveaways:

Speculative Book Review's Giveaway

Elitist Book Review's Giveaway