29 April, 2014

(audiobook) Review - Seal Team 13 by Evan Currie

I'm slowly getting back on the reviewing wagon and as long as I don't have weeks like last week at work, I can put some effort into the blog again. Sorry for the delays and random inactivity, however, I did get an audio review submitted to sffaudio a little bit ago and here's the review of Seal Team 13 by Evan Currie.
I don’t outright hate cliches. I think they can be used well and it’s an easy way to get people into the story or characters without having to waste time (i.e. pages) explaining things. The problem I had here was that once you make reference to “it’s like I’m in a movie” one too many times, it starts to pull you out of the immediate story. It’s no longer its own story, it’s someone else’s. And it just plain started to bug me since just about every character had to make mention of being in a bad horror movie.

15 April, 2014

Giveaway - One Copy of Robin Riopelle's Deadroads

Robin Riopelle was not only kind enough to provide our humble blog with a guest post not too long ago, but today I'm hosting a giveaway for her debut novel, Deadroads.

The Sarrazins have always stood apart from the rest of their Bayou-born neighbors. Almost as far as they prefer to stand from each other. Blessed—or cursed—with the uncanny ability to see beyond the spectral plane, Aurie has raised his children, Sol, Baz, and Lutie, in the tradition of the traiteur, finding wayward spirits and using his special gift to release them along Deadroads into the afterworld. The family, however, fractured by their clashing egos, drifted apart, scattered high and low across the continent.

But tragedy serves to bring them together. When Aurie, while investigating a series of ghastly (and ghostly) murders, is himself killed by a devil, Sol, EMT by day and traiteur by night, Baz, a traveling musician with a truly spiritual voice, and Lutie, combating her eerie visions with antipsychotics, are thrown headlong into a world of gory sprites, brilliant angels, and nefarious demons—small potatoes compared to reconciling their familial differences.

From the Louisiana swamps to the snowfields of the north and everywhere in between, Deadroads summons you onto a mysterious trail of paranormal proportions.
If you'd like to win a copy of Deadroads by Robin Riopelle, published by Night Shade Books, just follow the exceedingly simple instructions below:

- Email your name and address to onlythebestsff@[remove this]gmail.com
- Use the subject line: "Dead Roh-ads" (Think Black Sheep)
- Duplicate entries get you disqualified
- Snarky comments increase your chances of winning by giving you double entries for the next giveaway

I'll post the winner in a week or so and good luck!

11 April, 2014

eBook Deals - Kirkman, Sanderson, Brown, Dalglish, Abercrombie, Martin, Beaulieu

I was going to be lazy and not post these deals since work's been absolutely insane this week and doesn't look like it's letting up either, but look at these books that are on sale. The First Law, A Dance of Cloaks, and then the first issue of The Walking Dead being free cinched it.

[FREE] The Walking Dead #1 (first issue) by Robert Kirkman
[$0.99] Firstborn (novella) by Brandon Sanderson
[$1.99] Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown
[$1.99] A Dance of Cloaks (Shadowdance #1) by David Dalglish
[$1.99] The Blade Itself (First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie
[$1.99] Ice Forged (Ascendant Kingdom #1) by Gail Z. Martin
[$2.51] Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten (short stories) by Bradley P. Beaulieu

08 April, 2014

Robot Uprisings Anthology Released Today

"Humans beware. As the robotic revolution continues to creep into our lives, it brings with it an impending sense of doom. What horrifying scenarios might unfold if our technology were to go awry? From self-aware robotic toys to intelligent machines violently malfunctioning, this anthology brings to life the half-formed questions and fears we all have about the increasing presence of robots in our lives. With contributions from a mix of bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming writers, and including a rare story by “the father of artificial intelligence,” Dr. John McCarthy, Robot Uprisings meticulously describes the exhilarating and terrifying near-future in which humans can only survive by being cleverer than the rebellious machines they have created."

Robot Uprisings is an anthology edited by John Joseph Adams (King of Anthologies) and Daniel H. Wilson (Robopacalypse, Amped) and as cool this anthology sounds, just look at the author lineup:
  • Foreword—Daniel H. Wilson
  • Complex God—Scott Sigler
  • Cycles—Charles Yu
  • Lullaby—Anna North
  • Eighty Miles an Hour All the Way to Paradise—Genevieve Valentine
  • Executable—Hugh Howey (reprint)
  • The Omnibot Incident—Ernest Cline
  • Epoch—Cory Doctorow (reprint)
  • Human Intelligence—Jeff Abbott
  • The Golden Hour—Julianna Baggott
  • Sleepover—Alastair Reynolds (reprint)
  • Seasoning—Alan Dean Foster
  • Nanonauts! In Battle with Tiny Death-subs!—Ian McDonald
  • Of Dying Heroes and Deathless Deeds—Robin Wasserman
  • The Robot and the Baby—John McCarthy (reprint)
  • We are All Misfit Toys in the Aftermath of the Velveteen War—Seanan McGuire
  • Spider the Artist—Nnedi Okorafor (reprint)
  • Small Things—Daniel H. Wilson
Reynolds, Cline, Doctorow, and Charles Yu are favorites of mine, plus there's Hugh Howey, Nnedi Okorafor, Seasnan McGuire. In addition, editor John Joseph Adams is doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on reddit.com this very day. What are you still doing here?!

02 April, 2014

Review - The Master of Whitestorm by Janny Wurts

EDIT #1: Sorry for the weird coloring here. For some reason when I copy and paste lately, this is how it goes. I've contacted Alec to help me fix it because I know only the basics of html (and blogger usually hates that too).

EDIT #2: The problem described in Edit #1 has been fixed, but you probably didn't need this edit to tell you that.

I've begun to realize that reading fantasy** has given me a superpower. It's not generally considered a superpower per se, but it IS a power I've received from my reading ventures. And maybe it's not necessarily a power, but it is a skill and really that's all superpowers are right? Cool skills. 

**Quite possibly reading fiction in general, but I like to think it's just fantasy

Fine, okay, but Batman's a superhero and has no superpower ... so maybe it fits in there, somewhere.

Does this have a point? Why would you ask?

That superpower (sticking with it!) is that of perception. Rarely have I seen it better displayed than in The Master of White Storm by Janny Wurts. <

The power of perception (alliteration makes it a power) is prominently on display here as Korendir begins his plan of escape as a galley slave, rowing for his Mhurga slave masters.

Not only is it all but unforeseen for slaves to escape the Mhurga, if one does escape, that slave is hunted down along with his or her family and all killed or made to suffer. In essence, you have to be crazy to mess with them.

It's through his perception that Korendir sees holes in his slavers' characters and in their routines and he exploits them after years of preparation and careful study.

It's amazing what being perceptive can do for you. Through reading, I have personally become more perceptive. I walk into a room and I notice things that others wouldn't normally notice. I can spot characters in movies and point them out in older or newer shows they are in without the use of IMDB (a highly lucrative power I have).

Most importantly, and something that has been pointed out in studies and articles, perception helps to give you empathy. If there is anything the world needs more of, it's empathy.

Korendir is a character with a world of empathy and that's what makes him such a strong and wonderful character. Janny Wurts understands exactly what that means and I've noticed that this is a powerful trait in many of my favorite characters she writes. They understand other people and will do anything to prevent others from suffering. Anything they have they will give to alleviate that suffering.

Wurts weaves a powerful tale as Korendir comes into his power and takes on task after task because that is the kind of person he is. He could sit back and enjoy his life, but he doesn't. I took away a powerful lesson. It's nice to think about what life would be to relax and take it easy. To have your every need taken care of. But how can you do so with so many people out there in need?

The Master of Whitestorm is a stand-alone book, filled with adventure after adventure. It's much more straight-forward than say The Wars of Light and Shadow, but that's a given since 450 pages can't contain the depth and complexity of an 11 volume (circa 800 pages per book) series. This is an excellent entry point into the works of Janny Wurts just like To Ride Hell's Chasm, which I reviewed earlier.

4.5 out 5 Stars (highly recommended)

Note: The Master of Whitestorm was recently re-released in ebook format and it is also under production for an audiobook, so that's great news for you headphone jockeys out there.