31 October, 2013

2013 David Gemmell Legend Award Winners

Speaking of winners, here are some more winners for today. The David Gemmell Legend Award are voted on by anyone with internet access and probably even more and continue to be one of my favorite awards. There are problems inherent in every award, whether judged by a panel or popularly, but this one always at least has books I've heard of so there's that. :)

And that's even despite the fact that my picks never win, as goes for this year.

From the David Gemmell Legend Award site, here ya go:

Didier Graffet and Dave Senior for the cover of Red Country by Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz)

Comment: I voted for The Black Mausoleum because that dragon is just awesome and because these Abercrombie covers used to be the best thing since sliced bread ... before they were put on each consecutive release.

John Gwynne for Malice (Pan MacMillan)

Comment: I didn't read any of these so I didn't vote. Simple as that.

Brent Weeks for The Blinding Knife (Orbit)

Commentary: It was really down to this one or Red Country let's be honest. I voted for King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.

Winners of the Three Tor Books for 3 Winners Giveaway! And The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is $1.26!

I have the three winners chosen from our giveaway last week. I'll await replies for a day or so and then pick new winners if I don't hear back.

1. Joshua Youngbluth (this is an Arrested Development spin-off family I take it) from St. George UT
2. Kathryn Werner from Oldtown ID
3. Clayton aka WaaarghPug from Puglia (I made up that last part)

As you can see I need some information, so I'll be getting in touch with the winners shortly. I have already notified the first winner who will get the first choice (and so on) at the three following books:

- The One-Eyed Man by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
The Cusanus Game by Wolfgang Jeschke
Shadows of the New Sun: Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe

We always ask for snark and the snark goes to one of the winners, Clayton:
Snarky comments?  But then I would have to pretend that I read your blog and/or care about what you've written... I'm really just in it for the free stuff.
Yeah, that's about right. :)

eBook Deal:
[$1.26] The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson - OTBSFF review, as if you needed more reason to buy this.

29 October, 2013

eBook Deals - Reid, McClellan, Hobb, Card, Martin

Sorry for the absolutely crap-tastic blogging lately. There's been a pretty constant state of influx in my life at the moment and I blog best under routine. Don't worry, I saved you from poor humor by holding back a terrible joke. And another one. You're welcome.

I have a handful of reviews I need to write up and I just keep digging myself a deeper hole. It does not help that I just got an iPhone 5 after my iPhone 3. Going from 10 minutes to start a game of Words with Friends to instant gratification has hampered many things to say the least. :)

[$0.99] Year Zero by Rob Reid
[$1.99] Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan - Still on sale, still worth every penny.
[$1.99Dragon Keeper (Rain Wilds Chronicles #1) by Robin Hobb
[$3.98] Ender's Game (Ender #1) by Orson Scott Card
[$4.99] A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4) by George R.R. Martin

21 October, 2013

Giveaway - Three Tor Books 3 Winners

I've got three Tor books to give away. I thought I might have time to read them, but it looks like it's just not in the cards. I figure I should try not to be a book hog for once. They are:

1. The One-Eyed Man by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

2. The Cusanus Game by Wolfgang Jeschke

3. Shadows of the New Sun: Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe

I will give these away to three different winners. The first place winner will get first pick, second place, second pick, and third third (i.e., no pick).

If you are interested in getting your hands on any of these books, then follow the exceedingly simple instructions below:

E-mail me your name and address at onlythebestsff@[removethis]gmail.com, with "Somemore Tor" 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.

EDIT: This giveaway will run for a week from this edit, until All Hallows Eve, October 31, 2013.

17 October, 2013

Exclusive Excerpt From the Neverland's Library Fantasy Anthology

I don't promote too many Kickstarters even though I get a number of requests. Not all of them fit the mold of the blog subject matter and very rarely am I interested anyway, but that's mostly because I don't spend all that much time looking up Kickstarters. It would relieve me of my already limited funds way too easily hence the avoidance in general.

I am, however, interested in the Neverland's Library Anthology that is being Kickstarted at the moment because, well, look at this list of authors along with that beautiful cover above:
Tad Williams - Introduction
Mark Lawrence - Deception
Marie Brennan - Centuries of Kings
Tim Marquitz - Redemption at Knife’s End
Kenny Soward - The Machine
Stephen McQuiggan - Redfern’s Slipper
William Meikle - The Last Magician
Ian Creasey - Restoring the Magic
Peter Rawlik - The Rendition of Ephraim Waite
R.S. Belcher - An Equity in Dust
Joseph Lallo - The Stump and the Spire
Jeffrey J. Mariotte and Marsheila Rockwell - A Soul in the Hand
Jeff Salyards - The Height of our Fathers
Miles Cameron - The Tomb
Keith Gouveia - Fire Walker
Betsy Dornbusch - Season of the Soulless
Brian Staveley - Dead Ox Falls
Teresa Frohock - Love, Crystal and Stone
J.M. Martin - Untitled
Mercedes M. Yardley - Untitled
Don Webb - Untitled 
There's no wonder it's already been funded. Roger Bellini asked me to post an exclusive excerpt from the anthology and of course I jumped at the chance. This one's from one of my favorites, Tim Marquitz.

Without further blah blah blah...


 Redemption at Knife’s End


Tim Marquitz

He wound his way to the horse rail that separated the tavern from the road, and slipped around the far end. The weathered planks of the porch creaked beneath his feet but against his instincts, he did nothing to quiet the sound. A few heads turned his way, a handful of men carrying on a loud conversation near the door, but no stares lingered. Gryl breathed a relieved sigh as they went back to their talk, and then crept closer, squeezing past the men with effort to avoid bumping them. He could smell the alcohol that clung to their sweat. They’d be easy to rile in such states, and he didn’t want that. Not yet, at least.
The discordant wail of drunk-fingered players struck him when he entered the tavern. The banners, which hung from the thick rafters above, fluttered as though the music was a physical force. Patrons gathered about an inebriated foursome who plucked away, almost at random, at the instruments in their laps, a fifth’s drumming so poorly timed it was if he was playing to his heartbeat. It made for poor accompaniment, but with that cluster of people enthralled by the attempt, Gryl let his eyes wander to take in the rest of the Broken Lizard.
Though Korbitt was nowhere to be seen, his men had found a home near the stairs, their table pressed into the far corner. They sat in a loose half-circle, most of their backs to the wall. Each was armed with a sword and short blades. They wore an assortment of armor, but none were without it. They hadn’t come to celebrate. That meant the other men the woman was bringing would be prepared the same as their companions, shifting the odds against him.
Time had run short.
Gryl quickly confirmed Vai was nowhere amidst the twenty-odd patrons of the bar and hoped Rayk had told him the truth. He moved close to the wall and headed for the stairs, suspecting Korbitt would be up there with the girl. Nothing in the tavern noises suggested Gryl had been noticed, so he went on. He cast furtive glances at the mercenaries from beneath the cover of his hood, but like the men outside, they seemed too involved to care about anything outside of their circle. That was perfect.
He reached the banister and grasped its rail, setting foot on the first step.
“And just where do you think you’re going?” A mercenary asked; one he hadn’t seen.
Gryl ignored him and took a few more steps.
“I’m talking to you, you drunken son of a sheep-assed whore.” The man came around behind, chest puffed with misappropriated authority.
Chairs scraped across the wooden floors as the rest of the men got to their feet and started over. Gryl bowed his head. This was what he was trying to avoid. He muttered an incoherent apology and turned with aggravating slowness, but remained on the stairs. These weren’t the kind of men to simply let him apologize and walk away without consequence. He cast his eyes across the tavern for the clearest route to the door.
“Come here,” another of the mercenaries called out, waving him down. He already had a dagger in his hand, the steel shining in the glow of the lanterns. Several more men wandered over to be a part of the commotion. The charade had come to an inglorious end. He looked up at them.
“I know you,” the first said, his face twisted in an effort to place a name to the memory of Gryl’s face. “You’re—”
Gryl didn’t let him finish. He snapped the clasp of his cloak and spun it off, loosing it in their direction before he leapt over the banister. He bounced across a table and onto the floor as the mercenaries flung his cloak aside and gave chase, weapons drawn. The makeshift musicians stopped their clatter and the tavern went silent, Gryl drawing every open eye with his maneuver. He clenched his teeth hard, frustrated he was forced to abandon the stairs with Vai so close, but he couldn’t risk bringing a ravaging army to her doorstep. As of now, the mercenaries knew nothing of his purpose at the Lizard even if he had been recognized. As long as they didn’t stop him, they would never know why he was there. He made to bolt for the door.
Right then, the buxom woman burst into the tavern. A dozen men in ramshackle armor stormed in behind her, seeming curious about the disconcerting silence. Their eyes went wide at the scene before them. The woman screamed and bolted, shoving her way past the men at her back, but the mercenaries weren’t so easily dismissed. The smell of blood was in the air. They drew their weapons and advanced to reinforce their companions.


Check out the Kickstarter for Neverland's Library Fantasy Anthology here. In case you don't know who Tim Marquitz is (new to the blog?):

He is the author of numerous books, including the Demon Squad series and Blood War trilogy. His most recent project is editing the Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters anthology. 

12 October, 2013

Review - A Once Crowded Sky by Tom King

Superheroes seem to be the new thing these days, not that they've ever not been the thing, it's just that they seem to be more of a thing now. Not only are they in the movies but now they're even combined with zombies.

Superheroes with no powers, well all except one of them, reflect on the meaning of being a hero. No this isn't The Watchmen silly, it's not even a graphic novel.

But seriously, it's hard not to compare to The Watchmen when you start reading. And after a while you realize it's actually quite a bit different.

A Once Crowded Sky [US] [UK] is a novel that starts with and is interspersed with comic pages in each "part," of which there are nine. It's really a very clever novel, from the slow reveal of the mysteries of the plot to the set up of novel/comic to the commentary it's making.

The novel starts with all the superheroes gathered around while their powers are voluntarily stripped from them so that The Man With the Metal Face, Ultimate, can use them to destroy the "blue" that is threatening to destroy everything. Each superhero gives up their power for the sake of the entire world, never to be able to use those powers again and Ultimate is completely incinerated in the process.

We slowly come to find out that Ultimate's sidekick, PenUltimate, actually never showed to the gathering to save the world and thus has kept his powers and simultaneously the ire of all his former friends who think he is a coward.

So, instead of being regular people who never had powers to begin with, these superheroes are going through some really hard times coming down down from the high and having to be normal people again, if they ever were. As you can imagine, not everyone deals with it well and some, one in particular, actually need saving over and over again.

In this superhero world, the superheroes we know about also exist in the form of comics, so the story ends up working as a post-modern/meta look at how we view superheroes and then how they view themselves. Some can no longer deal with the fact that they're useless, some continue to look for fights, and others have given up completely.

The commentary it makes really only works in novel form as well. It's looking at what comics do and how they effect people and what superheroes are to people. At first I wondered why the entire story wasn't in comic form, but as it progresses, it starts to make sense especially with one of the main reveals that's hard to hold back right now, but terribly clever as I mentioned earlier. 

One thing I have to mention that bugged me was in the writing itself. There were a lot of odd contractions such as, "There're shots in the air," throughout the novel. The worst part is, I've been known to write like this, but suffice it to say, I will stop because it gets annoying and it's not smooth reading.

In the end, it's not The Watchmen at all, but a clever story that makes you think. The themes in A Once Crowded Sky are a bit lighter, but no less interesting, especially to a comic fan. I would love to read a comic with all these superheroes in it and maybe that will happen one day because I think King did a great job thinking these ones up from powers to personality they're excellently crafted.

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

08 October, 2013

eBook Deals - Jernigan, Russell, Williams, Boyett, McClellan, Pratchett, Hobb, Barron, Hickman, Gladstone, Hill, Martin, Gibson, Aldiss, Cobley

SfSignal.com ran their usual huge post of ebook deals a few days ago and it really makes finding deals easy. I'd highly recommend you check it out. Here's my condensed list of those titles that interest me:

[$0.99] The Bottom of the Sea (short stories) by Zachary Jernigan
[$0.99] The One Kingdom (Swan's War #1) by Sean Russell
[$0.99] The Isle of Battle (Swan's War #2) by Sean Russell
[$0.99] The Shadow Roads (Swan's War #3) by Sean Russell 

[$1.38] The Emperor's Knife (Tower and Knife #1) by Mazarkis Williams
[$1.48] Elegy Beach by Stephen R. Boyett - The sequel to Ariel.

[$1.99] Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan - OTBSFF Review.
[$1.99] Snuff (Discworld #843 ... or 39) by Terry Pratchett
[$1.99] Dragon Keeper (Rain Wilds Chronicles #1) by Robin Hobb
[$1.99] The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron

[$2.99] Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman
[$2.99] Three Parts Dead (Craft #1) by Max Gladstone
[$2.99] Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
[$2.99] Wild Cards II: Aces High, edited by George R.R. Martin
[$2.99] Wild Cards: Inside Straight, edited by George R.R. Martin

[$2.24] Stealing Light (Shoal Sequence #1) by Gary Gibson
[$3.03] Nova War (Shoal Sequence #2) by Gary Gibson

[$3.82] Helliconia Summer by Brian W. Aldiss

Today Only:
[$1.99] Seads of Earth by Michael Cobley - OTBSFF review.

07 October, 2013

(audiobook) Review - Emperor Mollusk Versus The Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez

Here's my review for Emperor Mollusk Versus The Sinister Brain, my first and certainly not my last book from A. Lee Martinez.
This was a really fun book and my first by the author, I will definitely be going back to A. Lee Martinez in the future. There are some authors who can just go from one line to the next and keep you not only amused but chucking from time to time. A few I can think of are Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams and I’m in awe of their talent. Martinez may not be quite to their level, but he’s right up there.

05 October, 2013

Exclusive Excerpt from Kaiju Rising, Last Chance to Back This Kickstarter Anthology

The Kickstarter for Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters is almost at an end and I've got an exclusive (I'm mostly positive about that) excerpt from one of the short stories in the anthology. This kickstarter has exceeded all expectations reaching it's goal of $10,000 rather quickly and even every single stretch goal. What's great about contributing now is that you already know everything you'll get and it's quite a bit at this point.

Not including the stretch goals authors.
So without further ado...


From Joshua M. Reynolds' "Dead Men's Bones":

          Despite the distance, and the lead the monster had on them, they caught up with it far too quickly for St. Cyprian’s liking. He pushed the car’s engine to its limit, until smoke was boiling out from under it, and his body was numb from the shaking. The car was racing parallel to the beast as it smashed aside trees and ruins both old and new in its stumbling scramble towards Vyones. Yellow smoke clung to it, oozing from its pores and even from a safe distance, the thought of it made St. Cyprian itch for a gas mask. 

          St. Cyprian cursed as a splintered tree-trunk crashed down in front of the car and he jerked the wheel, narrowly avoiding it. He nearly crashed then and there, as a massive bloody foot stomped down in front of him, causing the car to bounce up and his head to crack against the roof. He tasted blood and spat. “Any time you’d like to start shooting is fine by me!” he shouted over his shoulder. A snarl sounded from the heavy machine gun in Bass’ hands a moment later. The American gave a screeching wail, like the cry of some angry hunting cat, as he depressed the barrel, stitching the colossus’ ankles and thighs with bullets. Carnacki fed a steady stream of ammunition into the gun even as the floor was covered in spent casings. The colossus might have been immune to small arms fire, but it felt the machine gun and it stooped with a bone-rattling howl, its fingers digging trenches through the muddy road as it sought to scoop them up. Poison gas swept towards them, driven their way by the furious motion of the beast’s arm.


I know that was a short teaser, so here's a behind-the-scenes video from Ragnarok Publications for your viewing pleasure:

04 October, 2013

Review - Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire #3) by Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence likes to claim that authors are not their characters, but I think we need to look at the facts.

Jorg Ancrath:

1. Single-mindedly takes the world by storm.
2. Spreads his wit (among other things, blood and guts included).
3. Flips everything on its head, traditions, magic, you name it.
4. Encourages blasphemy and the slaughter of innocents.
5. Will stop at nothing to reach his goals of claiming the title of Emperor.

Mark Lawrence:

1. Single-mindedly takes the fantasy world by storm.
2. Spreads HIS wit (and probably other things we won't name here).
3. Flips the fantasy world on its head with his antihero fantasy filled with modern technology and countless subverted tropes.
4. Encourages blasphemy and the slaughter of innocent bloggers and authors (through words only of course ... hopefully).
5. Will stop at nothing to reach his goals of claiming the David Gemmell Legend Award.

We're not fooled Mr. Lawrence, no not by a long shot. The next thing we'll see is Mark kicking around Joe Abercrombie's decapitated head.

And yes, this is to say, Emperor of Thorns [US] [UK] was excellent. The perfect conclusion to an excellent trilogy. It's actually hard to imagine that Lawrence is a debut author and this his debut series.

The writing is up there with Joe Abercrombie, filled with great one-liners and quotes at each turn of the page. The following were literally within a page of each other and I could add so many more:
"When a decision is inevitable you may as well take it as quick as possible so that you still have something left to deal with whatever consequences may arise." (p. 172 Hardback)
"When you're in a dark place, and your light is going to run out before too long, you get on with things. It's a wonder to me how few people apply that same logic to their lives." (p. 173)
It's also just about impossible to stop reading this fascinating character Lawrence has created. Jorg Ancrath is compelling from the first page even when you quickly learn how really terrible he can be. I think there's a lot to going out and doing, accomplishing those things you set out to do whether it's looks feasible or not and Jorg does it all. I honestly do think that there's a lot of Lawrence in Jorg or vice-versa just because of the things that Lawrence himself has overcome. Publishing traditionally is difficult enough, but he can also literally say he is a rocket scientist. He even has a family of four, one of whom is severely disabled (and she is publishing amazing stories that my son absolutely loves btw!). This is a man who sets out to accomplish what he puts his mind to. (I know, I'm just setting myself up for a wonderful review deletion from GR)

Really the only negative thing I can say is that the timeline gets a little crazy by this last volume. King of Thorns introduced a portion of the book that took us back "four years earlier" and which portion continues into Emperor of Thorns. The only problem is that it's a year later in the present so "four years" becomes "five years earlier," which later in the book (spoiler alert!) becomes four years earlier even though it is still called "five years earlier." Make sense? There are also flashbacks in the present time that add to the timeline fun, but it's nothing that takes you longer than a moment or two (days? not me, no way) to puzzle out, if that. I'm glad the reader is trusted enough to figure it all out, we can't all be rocket scientists can we? :)

Lawrence asks us what happens if the good guy can't make it to save the day and you have to settle for the guy who has done terrible things. The guy you really shouldn't have to root for but who will get the job done. Is it worth it? It's amazing how well he pulled that off. Brutal fantasy that will make you cringe, that will make you think, and that you can't stop reading. Mark Lawrence is in for a terribly long writing career and Emperor of Thorns is about as perfect an ending as you can get.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (super duper highly recommended with cherries on top)

The Broken Empire Trilogy: 
1) Prince of Thorns (review)
2) King of Thorns (review)
3) Emperor of Thorns

03 October, 2013

eBook Deals - Moon, Pratchett/Baxter, Goodkind, Brooks

I just finished my review of Emperor of Thorns, but I have to take another look at it before it goes up. Yes, contrary to popular belief, I do edit my reviews. :) Not well, but that's beside the point. Here are a couple deals going on right now, looks like Baxter and Moon are lucky to be on this list which covers just about all the Terrys:

[$0.99] Trading in Danger (Vatta's War #1) by Elizabeth Moon - OTBSFF review.
[$1.99] The Long Earth (Long Earth #1) by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
[$1.99] The Long War (Long Earth #2) by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
[$2.99] The First Confessor (The Legend of Magda Searus #1) by Terry Goodkind
[$3.99] Bloodfire Quest (Dark Legacy of Shannara #2) by Terry Brooks