This week's New York Times Bestsellers (July 16th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Outsider is down one position, ending the week at number 4.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is down two spots, finishing the week at number 5 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Win a copy of Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne's KILL THE FARM BOY


I'm giving away my copy of Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne’s Kill the Farm Boy, courtesy of the folks at DelRey. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

In an irreverent new series in the tradition of Terry Pratchett novels and The Princess Bride, the New York Times bestselling authors of the Iron Druid Chronicles and Star Wars: Phasma reinvent fantasy, fairy tales, and floridly written feast scenes.

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told.

This is not that fairy tale.

There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.

And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.

There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord who wishes for the boy’s untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "FARM BOY." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

Robert Jackson Bennett contest winner!

This lucky winner will get his hands on my advance reading copy of Robert Jackson Bennett's Foundryside! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Craig Fairchild, from Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


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.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download R. F. Kuang's The Poppy War, which many consider the fantasy debut of 2018, for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

A "Best of May" Science Fiction and Fantasy pick by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible, The Verge, SyFy Wire, and Kirkus.

A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Richard Morgan's excellent Altered Carbon for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NOW AN EXCITING NEW SERIES FROM NETFLIX • The shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning in this “tour de force of genre-bending, a brilliantly realized exercise in science fiction.”—The New York Times Book Review.

In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”) making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.

Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched one hundred eighty light-years from home, re-sleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats “existence” as something that can be bought and sold.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it's the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

Ravencry (600th review)


Despite its flaws, I felt that Ed McDonald's Blackwing was a promising debut. The kind of novel Joe Abercrombie and Glen Cook would come up with if they ever teamed up to collaborate on something. And the exciting endgame and rousing finale made it impossible for me not to immediately jump into the sequel, Ravencry.

And though this second installment showed marked improvement regarding certain aspects, it did suffer from some of the same shortcomings that plagued its predecessor. Still, McDonald tells a compelling story and I'm curious to see where he'll take his readers next. Having said that, I'm persuaded that the third volume will either make or break this series. The author will need to elevate his game if he is to take his place among the best grimdark writers out there.

Here's the blurb:

For Ryhalt Galharrow, working for Crowfoot as a Blackwing captain is about as bad as it gets - especially when his orders are garbled, or incoherent, or impossible to carry out.

The Deep Kings are hurling fire from the sky, a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady had begun to manifest in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power while the city burns around them.

Galharrow may not be able to do much about the cult - or about strange orders from the Nameless - but when Crowfoot's arcane vault is breached and an object of terrible power is stolen, he's propelled into a race against time to recover it. Only to do that, he needs answers, and finding them means travelling into nightmare: to the very heart of the Misery.

RAVENCRY is the second book in the Raven's Mark series, continuing the story that began with the award winning epic fantasy BLACKWING.

The worldbuilding was once more my favorite facet of this work. As I mentioned in my review of Blackwing, I love the concept behind the Misery, a dangerous post-apocalyptic wasteland where reality itself unraveled when a magical weapon detonated. And this time around, McDonald took Galharrow to the very heart of it. All the way to the Endless Devoid, the epicenter of the Misery. The place where the Heart of the Void created a fault line in existence. That portion of the plot was awesome. And the Misery's taint changed Galharrow in a profound way. More than we saw in this novel, methinks. The Bright Order, the High Witnesses, and their ultimate creation, the Grandspire, would have benefited from more depth, however. Especially given their importance in the main arc of the plot.

In my review of the first volume, I bemoaned the fact that Ed McDonald came up with lots of interesting concepts and ideas, yet sadly he played his cards very close to his chest and did not elaborate a whole lot on them. Well, I'm glad to report that the author wasn't as parsimonious regarding information in this sequel. He still doesn't reveal much, yet we do learn more about Crowfoot and the other Nameless, the Deep Kings and their objective, the Darlings, and more. We finally discovered some things about the world at large, and the conflict that opposes the Nameless and the Deep Kings. Still, nothing that explained why what is occurring at what appears to be the ass end of the world was of capital importance. Once again, the bulk of the action takes place in and around the Misery and the city of Valengrad.

Ravencry features the first person narrative of Captain Galharrow. A battle-hardened veteran whose past nearly unmade him, his perspective once again made for a captivating read. One the one hand, he remains a kick-ass, no-nonsense kind of officer, so not always the most likeable of fellows. But on the other, he is also a broken man who continues to drink himself into a stupor so he won't dream about his past and fall from grace. And, perhaps more importantly, so he won't dream about Ezabeth Tanza. The pain of losing her remains too acute for him to think that there is any truth to the myth of the Bright Lady. It took a while to get used to his idiosyncrasies in Blackwing, but now it's impossible for me not to root for the poor guy. McDonald made an effort to humanize Galharrow in this sequel, and his relationships with Valiya and Amaira, a woman and an orphan girl now working for Blackwing, were particularly touching at times. Bringing himself to care for other people is not easy for the main protagonist, for it makes him vulnerable. Galharrow showed some character growth in Ravencry, which definitely raised the bar a few notches. Other than Valiya and Amaira, the supporting cast consisted of a number of familiar faces, chief among them Tnota and Nenn. Maldon, the former Spinner now trapped in the body of a child, was great. And it was obvious that Saravor the Fixer would return, but I did not expect him to play such a big role in this second volume. It is now evident that Ed McDonald has a knack for creating engaging protagonists. Which bodes well for things to come, no question about it.

As was the case with its predecessor, the pace of Ravencry can be uneven. At times, the rhythm can be quite sluggish, and then it's balls-to-the-wall action. These pacing issues don't take much away from the overall reading experience, but they can be off-putting. Say one thing about Ed McDonald, say he knows how to close the show with style! Once again, the endgame was thrilling and led to a rousing finale which packed a surprisingly powerful emotional punch.

McDonald now has two quality grimdark yarns under his belt. Yet he needs to up his game and bring the Raven Mark's series to another level. There have been glimpses of a bigger, more ambitious story arc. But we now need more than just tantalizing hints. The author needs to step to the plate and deliver. As I said before, the talent and the potential are definitely there. It's up to McDonald to bring it on.

Will he be the next Joe Abercrombie? Or will he just be next? Time will tell. . .

The final verdict: 7.5/10

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

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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Outsider maintains its position at number 3.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale maintains its position at number 3 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Quote of the Day

Can you give us a 1-sentence synopsis of A Little Hatred?

Game of Thrones meets Les Miserables with less singing and more hangings.

- JOE ABERCROMBIE, during a new Ask Me Anything on Reddit.

Gotta love Joe! :P

Win a copy of Dathan Auerbach's BAD MAN


Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Doubleday, I have a copy of Dathan Auerbach's Bad Man up for grabs. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Reddit horror sensation Dathan Auerbach delivers a devilishly dark novel about a young boy who goes missing, and the brother who won't stop looking for him.

Eric disappeared when he was three years old. Ben looked away for only a second at the grocery store, but that was all it took. His brother was gone. Vanished right into the sticky air of the Florida Panhandle.

They say you've got only a couple days to find a missing person. Forty-eight hours to conduct searches, knock on doors, and talk to witnesses. Two days to tear the world apart if there's any chance of putting yours back together. That's your window.

That window closed five years ago, leaving Ben's life in ruins. He still looks for his brother. Still searches, while his stepmother sits and waits and whispers for Eric, refusing to leave the house that Ben's father can no longer afford. Now twenty and desperate for work, Ben takes a night stock job at the only place that will have him: the store that blinked Eric out of existence.

Ben can feel that there's something wrong there. With the people. With his boss. With the graffitied baler that shudders and moans and beckons. There's something wrong with the air itself. He knows he's in the right place now. That the store has much to tell him. So he keeps searching. Keeps looking for his baby brother, while missing the most important message of all.

That he should have stopped looking.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "BAD." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Dan Simmons' Hugo award-winning classic, Hyperion, for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope--and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.


You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Marion Zimmer Bradley's classic, The Mists of Avalon, for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

In Marion Zimmer Bradley's masterpiece, we see the tumult and adventures of Camelot's court through the eyes of the women who bolstered the king's rise and schemed for his fall. From their childhoods through the ultimate fulfillment of their destinies, we follow these women and the diverse cast of characters that surrounds them as the great Arthurian epic unfolds stunningly before us. As Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar struggle for control over the fate of Arthur's kingdom, as the Knights of the Round Table take on their infamous quest, as Merlin and Viviane wield their magics for the future of Old Britain, the Isle of Avalon slips further into the impenetrable mists of memory, until the fissure between old and new worlds' and old and new religions' claims its most famous victim.

Another milestone: 600th review!


I'm in the middle of a roadtrip around the stunning Gaspésie peninsula (ranked one of the most beautiful coastal roadtrips by the likes of Lonely Planet and National Geographic) and I was aware that I'd reach this milestone at some point this summer. Just counted them for good measure, and I realized that the next one I post will be my 600th review!

Can't quite believe it, to tell you the truth. Then again, if you'd told me back in 2005 that I'd still be active in 2018, I would have said you're crazy! Thirteen years of reviewing speculative fiction works! Who would have thought!?! Not me, that's for damn sure!

As I mentioned in a similar post a few years back, it's been a long journey and somewhat of a bumpy ride at times. And yet, it's been fun for the most part. In the last decade or so, I've met some of my favorite authors in person and got to interact with plenty of others, many of them on a semi-regular basis. It's obvious that the Hotlist grew into something that I could never quite envision when I created this humble little blog of mine. And I can't believe that thousands of SFF fans keep on returning to read the drivel that I post, week in and week out.

Once again, let me take this opportunity to thank you all for making this the enjoyable experience it has been since January 2005. God knows it wouldn't be this much fun without an audience. Thank you to all the authors, editors, publicists, marketing directors, agents, and everyone else involved in publishing for helping make the Hotlist what it has become. Thank you to my fellow SFF bloggers, whether they like me or not. Thank you to the online SFF community for being there at the beginning and for sticking around afterward. Basically, many thanks to everyone who has been there along the way. Because without you all, there would be no Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. The world wouldn't be a poorer place without it, at least according to the haters I've garnered over the years, but what the heck!?! :P

I have no idea how long I'll keep doing this, but it's safe to say that I probably don't have another 600 reviews ahead of me. Looking back, it's hard to believe that I got this far. Still, it will be interesting to see how much gas I have left in the tank. . .

I owe you all a debt of gratitude that I can never repay. All I can do is keep writing honest reviews and help steer you toward good novels and, hopefully, away from the bad ones.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you! =)

All the best,

Patrick

Blackwing


Blackwing showed up in my mailbox a few weeks back in an unexpected package from the folks at Ace, and which also included the just-released sequel, Ravencry. It may not speak well of me, but up until that point I had never heard of Ed McDonald. The blurb immediately intrigued me, so I elected to give the book a shot.

And I'm sure glad I did, for Blackwing definitely has an Abercrombie vibe to it. Not as far as the plot is concerned, but in style and tone. If Joe Abercrombie and Glen Cook ever teamed up to collaborate on something, I have a feeling that the result would be something akin to this novel.

Here's the blurb:

Set on a postapocalyptic frontier, Blackwing is a gritty fantasy debut about a man’s desperate battle to survive his own dark destiny…

Hope, reason, humanity: the Misery breaks them all.

Under its cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, the arcane remnant of a devastating war with the immortals known as the Deep Kings. The war ended nearly a century ago, and the enemy is kept at bay only by the existence of the Engine, a terrible weapon that protects the Misery’s border. Across the corrupted no-man’s-land teeming with twisted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies bide their time. Watching. Waiting.

Bounty hunter Ryhalt Galharrow has breathed Misery dust for twenty bitter years. When he’s ordered to locate a masked noblewoman at a frontier outpost, he finds himself caught in the middle of an attack by the Deep Kings, one that signifies they may no longer fear the Engine. Only a formidable show of power from the very woman he is seeking, Lady Ezabeth Tanza, repels the assault.

Ezabeth is a shadow from Galharrow’s grim past, and together they stumble onto a web of conspiracy that threatens to end the fragile peace the Engine has provided. Galharrow is not ready for the truth about the blood he’s spilled or the gods he’s supposed to serve…

The worldbuilding was by far my favorite aspect of this work. I loved the concept behind the Misery, a dangerous post-apocalyptic wasteland where reality itself unraveled when a magical weapon detonated. Ed McDonald came up with lots of interesting concepts and ideas, but unfortunately he played his cards very close to his chest and did not elaborate a whole lot on them. Hence, we learn very little about Crowfoot and the other Nameless, the Deep Kings, the Darlings, and other mutated creatures from the Misery. I wish we could have learned more about all of them, for it would have helped flesh out the world a little more. We discover next to nothing about the world at large, and the bulk of the action occurs in and around the Misery and the city of Valengrad. On a more positive note, McDonald created a magic system based on light/electricity that would make Brandon Sanderson proud. This, at least, was explained at length, so readers understand just how magic works. I'm not sure why the author was so parsimonious with more in-depth information. Every revelation and answer raised yet more questions, so it would have been great if McDonald had been a little more forthcoming in that regard. I mean, you reach the end of Blackwing without really knowing what is truly going on beyond the immediate conflict the protagonists have been thrust into.

Blackwing features the first person narrative of Captain Galharrow. A battle-hardened veteran whose past nearly unmade him, his point of view made for a captivating read. One the one hand, he is a kick-ass, no-nonsense kind of officer, so not always the most likeable of fellows. But on the other, he is also a broken man who drinks himself into a stupor so he won't dream about his past and fall from grace. Hence, he can be a total ass at times and a very insightful man at others. Somehow, the author managed to make it work. It took a while to get used to his idiosyncrasies, but when you do it's impossible not to root for the guy. First person narratives are tricky things, though. And unless Galharrow's perspective appeals to the reader, then it's pretty much game over, I'm afraid. The supporting cast is comprised of a small number of engaging characters, chief among them Tnota, Nenn, Ezabeth Tanza, and Saravor the Fixer. It's too early to tell, but it appears that Ed McDonald has a knack for creating compelling protagonists. Which bodes well for things to come.

The pace can be uneven in certain portions of the book. Sometimes, especially at the beginning when one is unfamiliar with the universe and the characters, the rhythm can be a bit sluggish. At other times, it was balls-to-the-wall action sequences and the reader has no choice but to buckle up and enjoy the ride. When all is said and done, these pacing issues don't take much away from the overall reading experience. The endgame was particularly exciting, and led to a rousing finale that made it impossible for me not to read the second volume ASAP.

Blackwing is a promising debut, to be sure. But one that did not quite live up to the potential it showed early on. It will be interesting to see if Ed McDonald can elevate his game and bring The Raven's Mark series to another level. The talent and the potential are definitely there.

Still, fans of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, and Scott Lynch will undoubtedly find a lot of things to like about this debut. Time will tell if Ed McDonald can make a name for himself and join them among the top grimdark writers out there.

If you are in the mood for a quality grimdark read with an Abercrombie vibe to it, look no further. Blackwing will surely scratch that itch.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


Just saw that you can now get your hands on the digital edition of Sylvain Neuvel's excellent Sleeping Giants for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

Quote of the Day

Just finished Peter Watts' The Freeze-Frame Revolution (Canada, USA, Europe) and it's pretty damn good. This has got to be the very best About the Author I have ever seen! :P Here's how it goes:

Peter Watts (www.rifters.com) is a former marine biologist who clings to some shred of scientific rigor by appending technical bibliographies onto his novels. His debut novel, Starfish, was a New York Times Notable Book, while his fourth, Blindsight— a rumination on the utility of consciousness which has become a required text in undergraduate courses ranging from philosophy to neuroscience—was a finalist for numerous North American genre awards, winning exactly none of them. (It did, however, win a shitload of awards overseas, which suggests that his translators may be better writers than he is.) His shorter work has also picked up trophies in a variety of jurisdictions, notably a Shirley Jackson Award (possibly due to fan sympathy over nearly dying of flesh-eating disease in 2011) and a Hugo Award (possibly due to fan outrage over an altercation with US border guards in 2009). The latter incident resulted in Watts being barred from entering the US—not getting on the ground fast enough after being punched in the face by border guards is a “felony” under Michigan statutes—but he can’t honestly say he misses the place all that much. Especially now.

Watts’s work is available in twenty languages—he seems to be especially popular in countries with a history of Soviet occupation—and has been cited as inspirational to several popular video games. He and his cat, Banana (since deceased), have both appeared in the prestigious scientific journal Nature. A few years ago he briefly returned to science with a postdoc in molecular genetics, but he really sucked at it

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Barbara Hambly's Dragonsbane for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

An idealistic young prince convinces an aging warrior and a struggling witch to help him kill the dragon that is terrorizing his kingdom.

As a vicious dragon stalks the Southlands, Crown Prince Gareth ventures to the forbidding North in search of the only man who can kill it. He is Lord Aversin, the Dragonsbane, whose dragon-slaying days have won him renown across the land. But when Gareth finds Lord Aversin, he discovers the mighty hero is squat and bespectacled, the ruler of a mud-village who admits that he killed the dragon not with a lance, but with ignoble poison. Still, he’ll have to do.

Gareth and Aversin set off in company with Jenny Waynest, a witch with great ambitions but disappointingly puny powers—a ragtag crew destined to become legendary, or die in the attempt.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Barbara Hambly, including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars for only 4.99$ here!

Here's the blurb:

In his most ambitious project to date, award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson utilizes years of research and cutting-edge science in the first of three novels that will chronicle the colonization of Mars.

For eons, sandstorms have swept the barren desolate landscape of the red planet. For centuries, Mars has beckoned to mankind to come and conquer its hostile climate. Now, in the year 2026, a group of one hundred colonists is about to fulfill that destiny.

John Boone, Maya Toitavna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars. For some, Mars will become a passion driving them to daring acts of courage and madness; for others it offers and opportunity to strip the planet of its riches. And for the genetic "alchemists, " Mars presents a chance to create a biomedical miracle, a breakthrough that could change all we know about life...and death.

The colonists place giant satellite mirrors in Martian orbit to reflect light to the planets surface. Black dust sprinkled on the polar caps will capture warmth and melt the ice. And massive tunnels, kilometers in depth, will be drilled into the Martian mantle to create stupendous vents of hot gases. Against this backdrop of epic upheaval, rivalries, loves, and friendships will form and fall to pieces--for there are those who will fight to the death to prevent Mars from ever being changed.

Brilliantly imagined, breathtaking in scope and ingenuity, Red Mars is an epic scientific saga, chronicling the next step in human evolution and creating a world in its entirety. Red Mars shows us a future, with both glory and tarnish, that awes with complexity and inspires with vision.


Don't know for how long, but right now you can also download Andy Weir's The Martian for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Outsider is down one position, ending the week at number 3.

Terry Brooks' The Skaar Invasion debuts at number 12.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is up one position, ending the week at number 3 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Time Was


Right off the bat, I must warn you that the cover blurb is misleading. So much so that it created a negative backlash on Goodreads and other online venues, which in turn engendered quite a few poor reviews for this novella. Unlike the most vocal detractors, I will not claim that the blurb is a blatant lie. That would be untrue. But it is indeed misleading if you are expecting the plot to be a romance between two gay soldiers. Tom and Ben's tale lies at the heart of this story, but it's not necessarily the primary focus of Time Was.

Due to this backlash, it appears that a lot of readers are now passing on this novella. Which is a shame, really. Don't get me wrong. I understand that certain people wanted it to be a love story featuring two gay time travelers. But this is a new work by Ian McDonald and the author has yet to disappoint me. And I'm glad to report that Time Was is another memorable read that doesn't deserve the mud thrown its way.

Here's the blurb:

A love story stitched across time and war, shaped by the power of books, and ultimately destroyed by it.

In the heart of World War II, Tom and Ben became lovers. Brought together by a secret project designed to hide British targets from German radar, the two founded a love that could not be revealed. When the project went wrong, Tom and Ben vanished into nothingness, presumed dead. Their bodies were never found.

Now the two are lost in time, hunting each other across decades, leaving clues in books of poetry and trying to make their desperate timelines overlap.

Time Was is a tale of war and quantum physics, but truth be told that's a story within the story. The main arc of the narrative has more to do with old books and the secrets they can conceal. It all begins when a book collector/vendor finds a letter in an old, seemingly worthless, book found in a dumpster. Little by little, this man becomes intrigued by these two soldiers exchanging letters, Ben Seligman and Tom Chappell. Even more so when photographic evidence shows them appearing during various armed conflicts such as WWII, the Vietnam War, and the Balkan Wars as Yougoslavia unraveled, without aging much from one picture to the other. Soon, this collector becomes obsessed with them and seeks to learn the truth behind what appears to be two time travelers. And all the clues he finds are always hidden in a copy of the same book by an unknown author, a book titled Time Was.

The main perspective is the first person narrative of the book collector/vendor who first stumbled upon Tom's letter within the pages of an unexpected dumpster find. That man is not the most likeable of narrators, which probably helped spark the backlash from fans expecting a romance between two gay guys. Not only is that man heterosexual, but he's not endearing in the least. But he keeps digging and the truth gradually unfolds. The second point of view is that of Tom Chappell and consists of flashback scenes. These sequences allow readers to find out more about his relationship with Ben and what they were both doing during World War II. It is also through his perspective that we learn that the British forces are working on a secret project whose aim is to find a way to conceal them from German troops using quantum physics. And the closer the narrator gets to the truth, the more we learn about what the British sought to accomplish at Shingle Street and what the repercussions turned out to be.

The novella format precludes any pacing issues. Weighing in at only 143 pages, I went through Time Was in no time. I was hooked from the very beginning and couldn't let go. The more the narrator discovers about Ben and Tom, the more I needed to know what would happen next. And even if Time Was isn't as satisfying as some of Ian McDonald's novel-length works, this short fiction piece still packs a powerful punch.

I often complain that certain SFF novels were longer than they should have been, but a part of me wanted this book to be bigger. In the end, however, that would have been detrimental to the story because Time Was is as long as it needs to be.

They say that good things come in small packages and this novella is a perfect example. Forget about those angry readers talking shit about this book and give Time Was a shot. You won't be disappointed! And since you can get the digital edition for as low as 3.99$ on Amazon and other online sellers, there's no reason not to get your hands on it!

The final verdict: 8/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

It’s five years after the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star, defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and drove the remnants of the old Imperial Starfleet to a distant corner of the galaxy. Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting Jedi twins. And Luke Skywalker has become the first in a long-awaited line of Jedi Knights.

But thousands of light-years away, the last of the Emperor’s warlords, Grand Admiral Thrawn, has taken command of the shattered Imperial fleet, readied it for war, and pointed it at the fragile heart of the New Republic. For this dark warrior has made two vital discoveries that could destroy everything the courageous men and women of the Rebel Alliance fought so hard to build.

Features a bonus section following the novel that includes a primer on the Star Wars expanded universe, and over half a dozen excerpts from some of the most popular Star Wars books of the last thirty years!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

God is dead. Meet the kids.

When Fat Charlie's dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie "Fat Charlie." Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can't shake that name, one of the many embarrassing "gifts" his father bestowed -- before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie's life.

Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie's doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who's going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun ... just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.

Because, you see, Charlie's dad wasn't just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.

Returning to the territory he so brilliantly explored in his masterful New York Times bestseller, American Gods, the incomparable Neil Gaiman offers up a work of dazzling ingenuity, a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth that is at once startling, terrifying, exhilarating, and fiercely funny -- a true wonder of a novel that confirms Stephen King's glowing assessment of the author as "a treasure-house of story, and we are lucky to have him."

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download all three installments of Brian McClellan's Powder Mage trilogy for only 2.99$ each here.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.

It's a bloody business overthrowing a king...
Field Marshal Tamas' coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas's supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

It's up to a few...
Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved...
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should...

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets? PROMISE OF BLOOD is the start of a new epic fantasy series from Brian McClellan.

Winner of the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Debut Fantasy.

Foundryside


I never received review copies of Robert Jackson Bennett's The Divine Cities installments, so I never had the opportunity to read and review this acclaimed fantasy series. Hence, when an advance reading copy of Foundryside showed up in my mailbox, I knew this was my chance to finally give this author a shot.

I've heard a lot of good things about Bennett over the years and I was looking forward to another book sequence featuring a grim setting and dark characters. Perhaps my expectations played against me. God knows it wouldn't be the first time. Suffice to say that Foundryside was pretty much the opposite of what I was anticipating. In the end, this lighter fantasy tale with a definite YA tone didn't quite work out for me.

Here's the blurb:

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new fantasy series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

The industrialized environment was a welcome change from the generic medieval European setting that is so prevalent in the genre and Robert Jackson Bennett did a great job depicting the city of Tevanne and the rest of his universe. His prose is evocative and creates an arresting imagery. The author came up with a complex magic system known as scriving. This is a cool concept, whereby commands etched into inanimate objects can alter their purpose, manipulate their properties, and the way they interact with the world. However, this intricate process can be quite complicated to convey to readers and Bennett had little choice but to rely on massive info-dumps throughout the novel. As a result, the author spends an inordinate amount of time describing it, which gets in the way of the storytelling and can be off-putting. As far as the politicking is concerned, à la Terry Goodkind (but at the other end of the political spectrum), I felt that the moralizing involved could be too heavy-handed at times.

The characterization was likely the aspect that left the most to be desired. Sancia Grado, a young street urchin and thief, is the main protagonist. Subjected to secret experiments on her body during her childhood, she possesses a magical ability that she can't understand or control effectively. Captain Dandolo, a scarred war veteran returned to Tevanne with plans to do good, is the other principal character. Both of them are a little over-the-top in their depiction and are at times little more than caricatures. The supporting cast is made up of more interesting men and women, chief among them Orso and Berenice. Problem is, the interaction between the protagonists kills whatever emotional impact Bennett wished to exude. I heard that The Divine Cities was a stark and brooding affair, but the incessant light-hearted bantering between the characters of Foundryside often made them insufferable. There is nothing worse than someone trying to be funny and failing miserably. The author attempting to make what felt like every conversation akin to the back-and-forth between Jerry and George or Chandler and Joey was simply too much and got old real fast. This, for me at least, was the dealbreaker.

Thankfully, Bennett kept his plot progressing at a good clip. Although the info-dumps can often bog down the narrative, the book didn't suffer from other pacing issues. There are some fascinating ideas and concepts within the pages of Foundryside, but the execution occasionally fell rather flat. Until the storylines converged toward an exciting endgame, it felt as though the novel was little more than a series of heists. The author showed that he has a few tricks up his sleeve, and some unexpected surprises elevated this tale and brought it to a good ending. Which was great, as it closed the show on a more positive note. But it was a case of too little, too late for me.

Overall, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book. As I mentioned, there are some cool concepts and ideas that I would like to know more about. Beyond the plot of Foundryside, it's obvious that there is another bigger, more ambitious story arc that will be revealed in the forthcoming sequels. Alas, I'm not sure I can go through another volume if Bennett doesn't improve on the characterization of this series. In addition, I felt that the more YA style and tone of the narrative may not be best suited for the type of tale the author is trying to tell.

After hearing so many good things about Robert Jackson Bennett, I'm afraid that Foundryside was a bit disappointing for me. Time will tell if I will give the next installment a shot. . .

The final verdict: 6.5/10

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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (June 25th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Outsider maintains its position at number 2.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale maintains its position at number 4 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One returns at number 13 (trade paperback).

Anthony Ryan contest winner!

This luck gal will receive my advance reading copy of Anthony Ryan's The Empire of Ashes. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Heather Carter, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Nicholas Eames' Kings of the Wyld for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

GLORY NEVER GETS OLD.

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best, the most feared and renowned crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk, or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay's door with a plea for help--the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It's time to get the band back together.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download China Miéville's The City and the City for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, THE SEATTLE TIMES, AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma. But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

BONUS: This edition contains a The City and The City discussion guide and excerpts from China Miéville's Kraken and Embassytown.


You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can get your hands on the digital edition of Joe Abercrombie's excellent Best Served Cold for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Springtime in Styria. And that means war.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, and behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular - a shade too popular for her employer's taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto's reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria's least reliable drunkard, Styria's most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that's all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started...

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

Quote of the Day

But she was a frightened child, and I was supposed to have the answers. I was supposed to be able to make it all safe, and calm, and all right. I wished that I had the power to end the terror, to stop the destruction. But I didn't. Nothing makes you feel more powerless than failing a child.

- ED MCDONALD, Ravencry (Canada, USA, Europe)

The Madness Season


Mea culpa: Although C. S. Friedman's Cold Fire and Magisters trilogies rank among my all-time favorite speculative fiction reads, other than This Alien Shore I had yet to read In Conquest Born, The Madness Season, or The Wilding. I have owned the first two for well over two decades, so it's not as though I never had the opportunity to read them. Unlike fantasy works, science fiction titles often don't age very well and I was afraid that it would be the case with these novels.

And yet, as a big Friedman fan, I had to remedy that sad state of affairs. Hence, after much debate, I elected to give The Madness Season a shot. And I'm glad I did for, even twenty-eight years after it was originally published, this book was a satisfying read that definitely deserves more attention.

Here's the blurb:

For hundreds of years, Earth has suffered under the yoke of alien conquerors: the dreaded Tyr, a reptilian race in which all individuality is submerged into a single, overarching consciousness. Determined to keep humanity cowed, the Tyr have culled from the captive population the most intelligent, the most curious, the most likely to foment rebellion, and banished them from Earth. As the memory of freedom recedes, humanity sinks into a lethargic subservience. Daetrin, the hero of this tale, is a vampire--not a monster, however, but a man, nearly immortal, who embodies the vanished virtues of a once-sovereign Earth. When his existence is exposed by the Tyr, who are appalled to find a human who witnessed the Conquest, they immediately ship him offworld. Thus begins a journey of self-discovery as Daetrin is forced by adversity to come to grips with the long-suppressed side of his nature and to confront the ancient horror of a bloody heritage.

A shapeshifter/vampire science fiction novel! How could I resist? Themes such as freedom, assimilation, individuality, free will, and more are explored in the aftermath of Earth's conquest at the hands of hive-mind aliens. This work was written by a younger C. S. Friedman, one that had yet to reach the maturity and the control of her craft that allowed her to come up with a genre classic like Black Sun Rising and its sequels. Still, the author writes with an assurance that already showed a lot of promise. There are various concepts and ideas that form the backdrop of The Madness Season, and overall Friedman managed to rise to the occasion and came up with a superior stand-alone story. I particularly enjoyed the alienness of the Tyr and the Marra. I also liked how the author played with the vampire/shapeshifter concept and how Daetrin's true nature might be the only thing that could save mankind.

Daetrin is the main protagonist of this novel. Centuries old, he has buried his secret so deep that his true nature now eludes him. It was quite interesting to discover more about his past lives through the timefugues flashback scenes and how he found a way to live a more or less normal life until the Tyr came. Three hundred years have passed since the conquest and Daetrin is now the only living being on Earth who remembers what life used to be like on the planet. The man is a terribly flawed character, which made it a pleasure to follow him. The second main perspective is that of Kiri the Marra, a decidedly fascinating lifeform that plays an important role throughout The Madness Season. There are a few other points of view, but Daetrin and Kiri take center stage throughout.

There are certainly pacing issues in various portions of the tale. The book suffered from a slow start and it took a while for readers to understand exactly what Daetrin truly was. It also took some time for the drifting Marra losing her memories to really come into her own. Inevitably, both Daetrin and Kiri's plotlines converged, but even then it remained unclear as to how they would work together to ultimately free humanity from the yoke of the Tyr. Such rhythm made for uneven moments that created a bit of confusion from time to time. The Madness Season was never boring, mind you, yet there's no denying that it took longer than expected for the storylines to finally come together. Perhaps it proved to be more difficult for a less experienced C. S. Friedman to streamline those aforementioned concepts and ideas into a more fluid narrative? Given the length of the book, the endgame was probably a bit rushed compared to the earlier portions of the tale. Still, it was a rousing finale that definitely closed the show with aplomb.

All in all, for all of its pacing shortcomings, The Madness Season proved to be a satisfying read. One that has aged particularly well, in my humble opinion. So if you want to get a taste of an up-and-coming Friedman, a Friedman that had yet to make a name for herself with the Coldfire trilogy, this science fiction yarn featuring a vampire in space is exactly what you should read.

A fine mix of science fiction tropes and monster lore, with an interestingly flawed protagonists and some cool aliens and settings, this is The Madness Season in a nutshell. If you're looking for an old-school title to bring on vacation this summer, this could be just what the doctor ordered!

The final verdict: 8/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can download four of The Infinity Project anthologies edited by Jonathan Strahan for only 0.99$ each. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb for the first one:

The universe shifts and changes: suddenly you understand, you get it, and are filled with wonder. That moment of understanding drives the greatest science-fiction stories and lies at the heart of Engineering Infinity. Whether it’s coming up hard against the speed of light – and, with it, the enormity of the universe – realising that terraforming a distant world is harder and more dangerous than you’d ever thought, or simply realizing that a hitchhiker on a starship consumes fuel and oxygen with tragic results, it’s hard science-fiction where a sense of discovery is most often found and where science-fiction’s true heart lies. This exciting and innovative science-fiction anthology collects together stories by some of the biggest names in the field, including Gwyneth Jones, Stephen Baxter and Charles Stross.

- Engineering Infinity
- Edge of Infinity
- Bridging Infinity
- Infinity Wars

Extract from Naomi Novik's SPINNING SILVER


The folks at unboundworlds.com recently posted an extract from Naomi Novik's forthcoming Spinning Silver. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

A fresh and imaginative retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale from the bestselling author of Uprooted, which was hailed as “a very enjoyable fantasy with the air of a modern classic” by The New York Times Book Review.

With the Nebula Award–winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.

When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.

But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.

Channeling the vibrant heart of myth and fairy tale, Spinning Silver weaves a multilayered, magical tapestry that readers will want to return to again and again.

Follow this link to read the extract.