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You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Mark Lawrence's Grey Sister for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

In Mystic Class Nona Grey begins to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the Convent of Sweet Mercy Nona must choose her path and take the red of a Martial Sister, the grey of a Sister of Discretion, the blue of a Mystic Sister or the simple black of a Bride of the Ancestor and a life of prayer and service.

All that stands between her and these choices are the pride of a thwarted assassin, the ambition of a would-be empress wielding the Inquisition like a blade, and the vengeance of the empire’s richest lord.

As the world narrows around her, and her enemies attack her through the system she has sworn to, Nona must find her own path despite the competing pull of friendship, revenge, ambition, and loyalty.

And in all this only one thing is certain.

There will be blood.

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You can now download Mission Critical, edited by Jonathan Strahan, for only 0.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM…

Life is fragile. The difference between success and failure can come down to nothing – the thread of a screw, the flick of a switch – and when it goes wrong, you fix it. Or someone dies.

Mission Critical takes us from our world, across the Solar System, and out into deep space to tell the stories of people who had to do the impossible.

And do it fast.

Featuring stories by Peter F. Hamilton, Yoon Ha Lee, Aliette de Bodard, Greg Egan, Linda Nagata, Gregory Feeley, John Barnes, Tobias S. Buckell, Jason Fischer & Sean Williams, Carolyn Ives Gilman, John Meaney, Dominica Phetteplace, Allen M. Steele, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Peter Watts.

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You can now download Neal Stephenson's Zodiac for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The second novel from the “hottest science fiction writer in America” and New York Times–bestselling author of Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon (Details).

Meet Sangamon Taylor, a New Age Sam Spade who sports a wet suit instead of a trench coat and prefers Jolt from the can to Scotch on the rocks. He knows about chemical sludge the way he knows about evil—all too intimately. And the toxic trail he follows leads to some high and foul places. Before long Taylor’s house is bombed, his every move followed, he’s adopted by reservation Indians, moves onto the FBI’s most wanted list, makes up with his girlfriend, and plays a starring role in the near-assassination of a presidential candidate. Closing the case with the aid of his burnout roommate, his tofu-eating comrades, three major networks, and a range of unconventional weaponry, Sangamon Taylor pulls off the most startling caper in Boston Harbor since the Tea Party.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 9th)

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is up one position, ending the week at number 8 (trade paperback).

Stephen King's It returns as number 12 (trade paperback).

The New World


In The Electric Church and its sequels, Jeff Somers introduced readers to Avery Cates, a not very likeable gunner you can't help but root for. Constantly down on his luck and not always the sharpest tool in the shed, Cates' first person narrative has been a highlight since the very beginning and it continues to be the case in these new short fiction pieces. The Final Evolution, last volume in the original series, seemed to bring the overall story arc to an end and no further misadventures appeared to be forthcoming for everyone's favorite gunner.

Somers explained that he liked Avery and always enjoyed writing about him, but he needed any new material featuring him to have some sort of experimental edge in order to get excited about it. Which is why he wrote The Shattered Gears novellas, now collected into a single volume, yet still available as single short fiction vignettes.

When he was working out the plot of The Shattered Gears, the author also planned on writing two sequels, each divided into novellas like their predecessors. Somers found himself thinking affectionately of Avery Cates, and he wanted to give the protagonist a proper ending. Hence The Burning City, a follow-up to The Shattered Gears, comprised of four novellas: The New World, The Devil's Bargain, The Long Siege, and The Dark Hunt. Later, there will be a final installment titled The Machines of War.

Here's the blurb:

In this sequel to THE SHATTERED GEARS, Avery Cates is finding life as a City Lord not what it's cracked up to be, and is almost relieved when the woman he stole the city from, Lucinda Barowel, returns with a proposal. Partnering with a former Joint Council Undersecretary isn't a comfortable spot for Avery, and it leads him to some dark places -- and one dark place in particular he'd rather not have to remember.

But Cates knows the current state of humanity -- dying in a shut-down world -- is on his shoulders. He also knows he might not survive his struggle against the Archangel, the omnipotent psionic who's marching a genocidal army, intent on ending the world for good.

Cates sees that as his penance, and he's okay with it.

The post-apocalyptic worldbuilding gave the original series its distinctive flavor. Sadly, the novella format of these new tales forces this aspect to remain in the background for the most part. The previous novels have paved the way in that regard, and what worldbuilding there is conveys to the reader what needs to be understood and little else. After all, anyone reading these new novellas has obviously read the series, so there is no need for the author to provide a lot of background information. In The Shattered Gears, we discovered that the entire world order has collapsed. Powerful individuals are manoeuvering to carve up small kingdoms and city-states for themselves. With most technology no longer working, psionics are gradually coming into power around the world. And one of the most powerful psionics alive, a mysterious person known as the Archangel, is looking for Cates.

Following his narrow escape from a military platform in the Atlantic, Cates and his fellow escapees ended up on the shore of Italy. Trying to evade a strong psionic who was somehow always a step ahead or right behind him, Cates made his way to Castelvecchio. Where, ultimately, he became city lord. But with things the way they are and the now semi-regular murder attempts against him, Cates quickly realizes that running a city isn't always peaches and cream. Especially when the Archangel is still coming for him. Mankind's only chance for survival appears to be Cochtopa, a failsafe installation designed as a fallback base in case the war went badly, as a final repository of armament, equipment, ammunition, and data. Its location is classified, but it's a place where the remnant of the SFF could remake the world anew. Problem is, no one seems to know where it is. And time is running out.

As always, the first person narrative filled with wise cracks and dark humor makes for a fun and entertaining reading experience. Avery Cates continues to be a despicable, manipulative, immoral, lousy, and sick fuck. Yet for all of his faults and shortcomings, it's well nigh impossible not to root for the poor guy. Surprisingly, getting older may have made him a little wiser. A little. And since everything Cates touches has a tendency to turn to shit, he's in over his head yet again. Yet that's business as usual for Cates, so he just goes with the flow. The supporting cast, which really came together and finally took its rightful place in The City Lord, didn't shine as much in this latest installment. The focus is more on Ezekial Marko and Spectacular Dan.

The City Lord closed the show on The Shattered Gears in satisfying fashion and left the door open for plenty more. And with The New World and its upcoming sequels, it's evident that fate is not through with Avery Cates yet. Not by a long shot. Which bodes well for Jeff Somers fans!

My only problem with these short, episodic novellas is that you reach their end all too rapidly. They're just teasers, making you want to find out what happens next. Hopefully we won't have to wait for too long for the next one, The Devil's Bargain.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

You can download it for 0.99$ through these links: Canada, USA, Europe

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You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Ernest Cline's Armada for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

From the author of Ready Player One, a rollicking alien invasion thriller that embraces and subverts science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could.

Zack Lightman has never much cared for reality. He vastly prefers the countless science-fiction movies, books, and videogames he's spent his life consuming. And too often, he catches himself wishing that some fantastic, impossible, world-altering event could arrive to whisk him off on a grand spacefaring adventure.

So when he sees the flying saucer, he's sure his years of escapism have finally tipped over into madness.

Especially because the alien ship he's staring at is straight out of his favorite videogame, a flight simulator callled Armada--in which gamers just happen to be protecting Earth from alien invaders.

As impossible as it seems, what Zack's seeing is all too real. And it's just the first in a blur of revlations that will force him to question everything he thought he knew about Earth's history, its future, even his own life--and to play the hero for real, with humanity's life in the balance.

But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can't help thinking: Doesn't something about this scenario feel a little bit like...well...fiction?

At once reinventing and paying homage to science-fiction classics as only Ernest Cline can, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a coming-of-age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you've ever read before.

Quote of the Day

In short, shit had gone downhill.

JEFF SOMERS, The New World (Canada, USA, Europe)

Well, that's the story of Avery Cates' life, ain't it!?! :P

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You can now download Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

A gripping vision of our society radically overturned by a theocratic revolution, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has become one of the most powerful and most widely read novels of our time.

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules.

Like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Handmaid’s Tale has endured not only as a literary landmark but as a warning of a possible future that is still chillingly relevant.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 2nd)

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale maintains its position at number 9 (trade paperback).

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You can now download J. D. Horn's The King of Bones and Ashes for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

From the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series comes the story of a young witch’s quest to uncover her family’s terrifying history...

Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.

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You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Tim Powers' Last Call for only 0.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Enchantingly dark and compellingly real, the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Last Call is a masterpiece of magic realism from critically acclaimed author Tim Powers.

Set in the gritty, dazzling underworld known as Las Vegas, Last Call tells the story of a one-eyed professional gambler who discovers that he was not the big winner in a long-ago poker game . . . and now must play for the highest stakes ever as he searches for a way to win back his soul.


You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Neal Stephenson's excellent Quicksilver for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Quicksilver is the story of Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and conflicted Puritan, pursuing knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe, in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight.

It is a chronicle of the breathtaking exploits of "Half-Cocked Jack" Shaftoe -- London street urchin turned swashbuckling adventurer and legendary King of the Vagabonds -- risking life and limb for fortune and love while slowly maddening from the pox.

And it is the tale of Eliza, rescued by Jack from a Turkish harem to become spy, confidante, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent Europe through the newborn power of finance.

A gloriously rich, entertaining, and endlessly inventive novel that brings a remarkable age and its momentous events to vivid life, Quicksilver is an extraordinary achievement from one of the most original and important literary talents of our time.

And it's just the beginning ...

Quote of the Day

Steve sighed, wishing for a cigarette. "The Buddha teaches respect for all life."

"Oh." She considered this. "Are you a Buddhist?"

"No. I'm an asshole. But I keep trying."

- SCOTT HAWKINS, The Library at Mount Char (Canada, USA, Europe)

About halfway through this book and it's a wild ride thus far! =)

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You can now download Mark Lawrence's Limited Wish for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

One choice. Two possible timelines. And a world hanging in the balance.

It’s the summer of 1986 and reluctant prodigy Nick Hayes is a student at Cambridge University, working with world-renowned mathematician Professor Halligan. He just wants to be a regular student, but regular isn’t really an option for a boy-genius cancer survivor who’s already dabbled in time travel.

When he crosses paths with a mysterious yet curiously familiar girl, Nick discovers that creases have appeared in the fabric of time, and that he is at the centre of the disruption. Only Nick can resolve this time paradox before the damage becomes catastrophic for both him and the future of the world. Time is running out—literally.

Wrapped up with him in this potentially apocalyptic scenario are his ex-girlfriend, Mia, and fellow student Helen. Facing the world-ending chaos of a split in time, Nick must act fast and make the choice of a lifetime—or lifetimes.

Game on.

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You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Guy Gavriel Kay's A Song for Arbonne for only 4.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

From the critically-acclaimed author of The Fionavar Tapestry comes an epic fantasy novel of love, both courtly and forbidden, and two kingdoms endlessly opposed...

Blaise of Gorhaut is a warrior. He fought for his king and country, until the king died with an arrow in his eye at the battle of Iersen Bridge, and a dishonorable treaty ceded a good part of his country to foreign hands. He has broken relations with his father, adviser to the king of Gorhaut, and abandoned the use of his family name.

Now, Blaise is a mercenary. He never expected to work for the lords of Arbonne, the warm, fertile lands south of Gorhaut, whose people praise the love of women—they even worship a goddess, instead of the god. They are a soft people, or so he thought. But for all their nonsense about love, their troubadours and songs, they will fight for their country, when invasion comes from the north.

The Last Light of the Sun and Ysabel are also discounted at 5.99$.

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You can now download Peter V. Brett's The Warded Man for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity.

For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.

Quote of the Day

Here is a strange thing I've noticed: women are better at keeping secrets, but men are more comfortable with them.

- STEPHEN KING, 11/22/63 (Canada, USA, Europe)

Awesome novel! One of his very best!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (August 26th)

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is up one position, ending the week at number 9 (trade paperback).

The Cruel Stars


I was intrigued when I received my advance reading copy of John Birmingham's The Cruel Stars, especially since the blurb mentioned that it was perfect for fans of James S. A. Corey's The Expanse. I was expecting space opera with depth and vision, even though this was a stand-alone novel.

Alas, it was anything but that. The Cruel Stars is a fun and action-packed scifi romp that doesn't take itself too seriously, no doubt about it. But like any big-budget movie relying on special effects rather than storytelling, the plot is full of holes and in the end the book is rather forgettable.

Here's the blurb:

The galaxy was once terrorized by the Sturm, a group of “species purists” intent on destroying any human with genetic or cybernetic enhancements. Fashioning themselves as the one true “Human Republic,” the Sturm cut a bloody swath across the stars, killing billions before finally being defeated and driven into the far reaches of Dark Space. Centuries of peace bred complacency. Everyone believed the Sturm had died out in the Dark. They were wrong.

The enemy has returned and, with a brutal and decisive attack, knocks out almost all of humanity’s defenses. Now on the brink of annihilation, humankind’s only hope is a few brave souls who survived the initial attack: Commander Lucinda Hardy, thrust into uncertain command of the Royal Armadalen Navy’s only surviving warship. Booker3, a soldier of Earth, sentenced to die for treason, whose time on death row is cut short when the Sturm attack his prison compound. Princess Alessia, a young royal of the Montanblanc Corporation, forced to flee when her home planet is overrun and her entire family executed. Sephina L’trel, the leader of an outlaw band who must call on all of her criminal skills to resist the invasion. And, finally, Admiral Frazer McLennan, the infamous hero of the first war with the Sturm hundreds of years ago, who hopes to rout his old foes once and for all—or die trying.

These five flawed, reluctant heroes must band together to prevail against a relentless enemy and near-impossible odds. For if they fail, the future itself is doomed.

The premise of a species purist race returning after centuries of exile to eradicate human beings with genetic or cybernetic enhancements was interesting, but the author's execution left a lot to be desired. All things considered, the worldbuilding is pretty thin and things often don't make a whole lot of sense. Why did the Sturm spend centuries in the far reaches of Dark Space? How can a race for far behind in terms of technology and military might could unleash such a decisive attack against mankind, a strike that not only cripples them but brings humanity on the brink of annihilation? Why select such random targets to begin their invasion? Yada yada yada. As is normally the case those aforementioned big-budget flicks, it's better to try not to ask too many questions and just enjoy the show. Otherwise, things will go downhill fast. . .

All in all, The Cruel Stars is more of a science fiction comedy than a space opera book. True, there are space battles and lots of shit blows up. And yet, there is no depth whatsoever. None. This ain't exactly Space Balls, but it's also a far cry from The Expanse and Battlestar Galactica. If you're into dark humor, this novel will likely make you chuckle in every chapter. In the end, that's what saved this work for me. I just put my brain on pause and buckled up for the ride.

The characterization often suffers from cardboard cutout protagonists. Other than Lucinda Hardy, forced to take command of what could be the only remaining Royal Armadalen Navy warship, and Booker3, a trooper on death row about to be deleted. Young Princess Alessia also has her moments. Most of the others are parodies and caricatures. Having said that, they're still a disparate and lovable bunch of flawed characters. The sooner you realize that this book doesn't take itself seriously, the sooner you can start enjoying it for what it is. That won't prevent you from face-palming yourself a number of times along the way, but The Cruel Stars is just that kind of work.

John Birmingham keeps things moving at a good rhythm. And although things often don't make sense, the story progresses without any pacing issues. The endgame and the finale are clichéd through and through, yet they are exactly what the plot needed to make this work.

The Cruel Stars may lack, depth, vision, and imagination. Still, it turned out to be a fun and often balls-to-the-wall kind of scifi romp. Though it probably won't make any of this year's shortlists for best novels, it could be an entertaining vacation read or a good way to kill time during the morning/evening commute. As long as you know what you're getting into, you won't be disappointed.

The final verdict: 7/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

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You can now download Guy Gavriel Kay's excellent Sailing to Sarantium for only 3.99$ here! Don't miss out on this amazing two-volume series!

Here's the blurb:

Sarantium is the golden city: holy to the faithful, exalted by the poets, jewel of the world and heart of an empire. Artisan Caius Crispus receives a summons from the emperor and sets off on a journey toward the Imperial city. But before Crispin can reach Sarantium, with its taverns and gilded sanctuaries, chariot races and palaces, he must pass through a land of pagan ritual and mysterious danger.

In Sailing to Sarantium, the first volume of the brilliant Sarantine Mosaic, Guy Gavriel Kay weaves an utterly compelling story of the allure and intrigue of a magnificent city and the people drawn into its spell.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (August 19th)

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale returns at number 10 (trade paperback).