More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Patricia A. McKillip's The Forgotten Beasts of Eld for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

World Fantasy Award-Winner
First time available in an e-book edition

"Rich and regal."
—The New York Times

Young Sybel, the heiress of powerful wizards, needs the company of no-one outside her gates. In her exquisite stone mansion, she is attended by exotic, magical beasts: Riddle-master Cyrin the boar; the treasure-starved dragon Gyld; Gules the Lyon, tawny master of the Southern Deserts; Ter, the fiercely vengeful falcon; Moriah, feline Lady of the Night. Sybel only lacks the exquisite and mysterious Liralen, which continues to elude her most powerful enchantments.

But Sybel's solitude is to be shattered when a desperate soldier arrives bearing a mysterious child. Soon Sybel will discover that the world of men is full of love, deceit, and the temptations of vast power.

Quote of the Day

When you learn enough about the world, even a blade of grass can be a weapon.

- KEN LIU, The Grace of Kings (Canada, USA, Europe)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Michael J. Sullivan's Theft of Swords for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles-until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires?

And so begins the first tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 12th)

In paperback:

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is down one position, ending the week at number 2 (trade paperback).

Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation debuts at number 7 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale maintains its position at number 9 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Quote of the Day

She was alive, alive, alive today; she was never so alive as the morning after cheating death.

She opened her eyes. The sunrise was very beautiful.

- KAMERON HURLEY, Apocalypse Nyx (Canada, USA, Europe)

This collection of novellas is awesome! =)


As I mentioned in my review of David Walton's latest novel, my copies of his quantum physics murder mysteries Superposition and Supersymmetry have been sitting on my "books to read" pile for a long, long time. I've always known that I'll get to them at some point, but there was always another novel/series that got in the way. But The Genius Plague was such a good read that I decided it was high time to read Walton's two science fiction technothrillers.

And Superposition turned out to be another memorable read, so I had no choice but to read its sequel as soon as I finished it.

Here's the blurb:

Jacob Kelley’s family is turned upside down when an old friend turns up, waving a gun and babbling about an alien quantum intelligence. The mystery deepens when the friend is found dead in an underground bunker…apparently murdered the night he appeared at Jacob’s house. Jacob is arrested for the murder and put on trial.

As the details of the crime slowly come to light, the weave of reality becomes ever more tangled, twisted by a miraculous new technology and a quantum creature unconstrained by the normal limits of space and matter. With the help of his daughter, Alessandra, Jacob must find the true murderer before the creature destroys his family and everything he loves.

As you know, I'm not a big fan of hard science fiction. If the emphasis of a novel is on the science and the technology, the plot often gets beyond me and I lose interest. Quantum physics are the backdrop for everything that has to do with Superposition and I was more than a little concerned about that fact. Having said that, David Walton did a wonderful job dumbing down the science aspect, so to speak. Not only does the author make the jargon and the concepts understandable, but somehow he managed to make it all quite entertaining.

The narrative's structure follows two timelines that will merge toward the end of the book. The first one, "Up-spin", follows the main protagonist, Jacob Kelley, from the moment he received the visit of an old friend and colleague. He hasn't seen Brian Vanderhall in years, and the other appears distraught and keeps talking about quantum intelligences. Things take a turn for the worse and Kelley kicks him out of his house. Little does he know that Vanderhall will later be found dead and he will be accused of the murder. The second timeline, "Down-spin", follows Kelley's trial and reads like a courtroom drama. This structure works surprisingly well. Given the months-long gap between the two timelines, the "Down-spin" chapters fill in the blanks and elaborate on what actually happened and how Jacob Kelley ended up on trial for the death of his former colleague.

Understandably, Jacob Kelley takes center stage in both timelines. But his daughter Alessandra also plays an important role for reasons I cannot explain because it would spoil the story. Kelley's lawyer, Terry Sheppard, and another one of his colleagues, Jean Massey, are interesting secondary characters that make up the supporting cast.

For all that the entire premise has to do with quantum physics, David Walton managed to come up with a plot that's as compelling as it is enjoyable. Never thought quantum mechanics could be fun, but Walton's plot is exactly that. Moreover, the pace is crisp and Superposition is a page-turner. Indeed, both timelines offer plenty of captivating moments. One the one hand, you want to find out if Kelley will be found guilty of murder. And on the other, you want to discover what the hell happened to put him on trial.

Absorbing and engaging, Superposition is a terrific read!

The final verdict: 8/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Mark T. Barnes' The Garden of Stones for 0.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

When the Shrīanese Empire explodes into civil war, fighters of all kinds flock to the banners of their lords. Indris, a skilled swordsman and brilliant sorcerer, seeks to end the bloodshed once and for all. He knows this war is simply a ruse—a power play by a ruling Family desperate to take control of the Empire by any means necessary. Indris cares little for the politics except to see that justice is upheld. But even he can't see the terrible price his opponents are willing to pay to secure their legacy.

A true epic, the first book in the Echoes of Empire series creates a spellbinding new world. With its twisted politics, new races, compelling heroes and villains, and unique magic, The Garden of Stones is a lyrical fantasy on the grandest scale.

And you can also get your hands on the sequel, The Obsidian Heart, for the same price here, as well as the third volume, The Pillars of Sand, here.

You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Alastair Reynolds' Revenger for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Winner of the 2017 Locus Award

Revenger is a rocket-fueled tale of space pirates, buried treasure, and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism... and of vengeance...

Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest crew members of the legendary Captain Rackamore's ship, using their mysterious powers as Bone Readers to find clues about their next score. But there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen, in particular.

The galaxy is filled with treasures... if you have the courage to find them.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download John Scalzi's Lock In for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

A blazingly inventive near-future thriller from the best-selling, Hugo Award-winning John Scalzi.

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent - and nearly five million souls in the United States alone - the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what's now known as "Haden's syndrome," rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an "integrator" - someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.

But "complicated" doesn't begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery - and the real crime - is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with the change comes opportunities that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation that began as a murder case takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture. It's nothing you could have expected.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Quote of the Day

Someone had to be imperfect, or there was nothing to strive for in that big worshipful love letter to God.

Nyx didn’t mind being the broken piece.

- KAMERON HURLEY, Apocalypse Nyx (Canada, USA, Europe)

I'm so happy for the opportunity to get reacquainted with Nyx! =)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 5th)

In paperback:

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is up two positions, ending the week at number 1 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is down two spots, finishing the week at number 9 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Iain M. Banks' Consider Phlebas for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.

Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.

Grey Sister

With well over a million copies sold worldwide and two quality trilogies under his belt, Mark Lawrence already deserved to be ranked among the best fantasy authors writing today. With each new book, he continued to make a name for himself, always pushing the envelope a bit further with plotlines that grew in depth and scope. It's no secret that "That thorn guy," as George R. R. Martin referred to him a few years back, has come a long way since Prince of Thorns was first published.

The Broken Empire and The Red Queen's War trilogies shared the same universe, but The Ancestor marked the beginning of something new. Ye of little faith that I am, I was wondering if Lawrence could do it again with new protagonists, a new setting, and new storylines. Not surprisingly, though it suffered from uneven pacing, Red Sister was another good reading experience that set the stage for yet another enjoyable and captivating series.

Could the author elevate his game even more with Grey Sister and bring this tale to another level? The answer is a resounding yes! This latest installment is one of my favorite Mark Lawrence titles thus far, second only to The Liar's Key in terms of quality and originality. And with the author under contract to write three more novels set in the Ancestor's universe, this bodes well for readers!

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.

All of Mark Lawrence's novels to date have been character-driven works. Still, worldbuilding played a relatively important role in both The Broken Empire and The Red Queen's War series, and it appears to be the case in The Ancestor as well. This new trilogy features a dying sun and a planet left with only a 50-mile wide corridor running along the length of its surface heated by a focus moon that allows mankind to survive from the ever-encroaching ice that covers the globe throughout both hemispheres. I found this fascinating in Red Sister and it is now obvious that control of the focus moon will become an integral part in the resolution of this series. Little is known and/or remembered of what has been trapped under tons of ice over the centuries, and it will be interesting to see if the hints of hidden and nefarious powers from the deep will continue to come into play as the tale progresses. As was the case in the previous two trilogies, age-old technology will once again come into play before the end. Unfortunately, I felt that Lawrence kept his cards way too close to his chest, with the worldbuilding elements unveiled raising more questions than they provided answers. It was evident that there was much more to Red Sister than meets the eye. I'm pleased to report that Grey Sister shines some light on several secrets and proves that this new series resounds with as much depth as its predecessors. Perhaps more!

It's been two years since the events of Red Sister and Nona is getting ready to pass the final tests to qualify to become a Grey Sister. This second volume follows pretty much the same structure as the first installment. Nona is still devastated by Hessa’s murder and at times almost fanatically driven by her vow of vengeance against Yisht. And yet, life at the Convent of Sweet Mercy follows its course and the plot moves forward as Nona's education proceeds. Once more, either in an attempt to do some foreshadowing, or just to mess with our minds, Lawrence included a couple of scenes taking place in the future. They feature a much older Nona and show that the proverbial shit has just about hit the fan and that things are coming to a head. Which bodes well for the forthcoming finale in Holy Sister.

In Red Sister, I felt that the plot suffered a bit from being mostly limited to what occurred at and around the Convent of Sweet Mercy. Grey Sister blows the story wide open, which was for the best. Forsaken and friendless, Nona Grey was a tough nut to crack. She didn't open up easily, to other people as well as to the readers. Although it was easy to root for her, given that all the odds appear stacked against her, it was nevertheless difficult to relate to Nona. Indeed, after following the misadventures of the easy-going and likeable Jalan and his barbarian companion, it certainly took a while to finally get used to Nona and her quirks. For all that it took some time, her special bond with the crippled Hessa provided truly poignant moments and her plight made it impossible not to root for her. Having said that, even a couple of years older don't make it any easier to relate to Nona. She is who she is, after all, and has more of a knack to make enemies instead of friends. The girl may be isolated in the convent, but outside forces can still influence her existence and put her life in danger.

As a matter of course, Nona's perspective takes center stage. But unexpected events throw a monkey wrench in the storylines and both Abbess Glass and Sister Kettle become very important POV protagonists. Witnessing events unfold through the eyes of such disparate characters is what ultimately made Grey Sister such a memorable read. It has always been obvious that Abbess Glass is playing the long game and has countless pieces on the board. To discover more about her back story and what she has been building toward since before Nona joined the Convent of Sweet Mercy was quite satisfying. The same goes for Sister Kettle. In Red Sister, it was often hard to differentiate the nuns. Grey Sister gave many of them more of a face and personality, and Kettle's point of view was a welcome addition to the other perspectives.

In terms of rhythm, Red Sister did suffer from pacing issues. With the plot moving forward at the same speed as Nona's training, it didn't always make for thrilling scenes. I had a feeling that Lawrence was laying a lot of groundwork in each of those scenes and that everything would come together later in the series. As slow-moving as the rhythm was in the first two-thirds of the novel, there is no denying that the endgame put everything into high gear, and Red Sister featured Lawrence's best finale since Emperor of Thorns. Things were looking up for the second volume, or so it seemed. Now that I have read the sequel, I can vouch for the fact that the first installment was an introduction meant to introduce the players and set up the various storylines. There is not a dull moment between the covers of Grey Sister. It's a veritable page-turner from start to finish. I mean, kickass nuns with swords and magical powers, assassins bent on killing a young girl, demons from antiquity, a would-be empress with delusions of grandeur, the Inquisition coming into play, the empire's richest lord seeking revenge, looming war due to the encroaching ice, and legends regarding the control of the focus moon. You probably won't be able to put this book down!

The action-packed endgame was fantastic and it does set the stage for what should be an unforgettable final installment. True, I would have liked a bit more resolution at the end given how exciting the last few chapters turned out to be. And yet, as much as a part of me cursed Mark Lawrence for the cliffhanger ending, the other part is foaming at the mouth at the thought of getting my hands on Holy Sister. Can't believe I'll have to wait a year for it!

Darker and more ambitious than its predecessor, Grey Sister is definitely one of the fantasy books to read in 2018! This just in: That thorn guy is pretty damn good!

The final verdict: 8.25/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

For a limited time, you can get your hands on the digital edition of Neal Stephenson's awesome Cryptonomicon for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

With this extraordinary first volume in what promises to be an epoch-making masterpiece, Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.

In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse—mathematical genius and young Captain in the U.S. Navy—is assigned to detachment 2702. It is an outfit so secret that only a handful of people know it exists, and some of those people have names like Churchill and Roosevelt. The mission of Waterhouse and Detachment 2702—commanded by Marine Raider Bobby Shaftoe-is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence has cracked the enemy's fabled Enigma code. It is a game, a cryptographic chess match between Waterhouse and his German counterpart, translated into action by the gung-ho Shaftoe and his forces.

Fast-forward to the present, where Waterhouse's crypto-hacker grandson, Randy, is attempting to create a "data haven" in Southeast Asia—a place where encrypted data can be stored and exchanged free of repression and scrutiny. As governments and multinationals attack the endeavor, Randy joins forces with Shaftoe's tough-as-nails granddaughter, Amy, to secretly salvage a sunken Nazi submarine that holds the key to keeping the dream of a data haven afloat. But soon their scheme brings to light a massive conspiracy with its roots in Detachment 2702 linked to an unbreakable Nazi code called Arethusa. And it will represent the path to unimaginable riches and a future of personal and digital liberty...or to universal totalitarianism reborn.

A breathtaking tour de force, and Neal Stephenson's most accomplished and affecting work to date, Cryptonomicon is profound and prophetic, hypnotic and hyper-driven, as it leaps forward and back between World War II and the World Wide Web, hinting all the while at a dark day-after-tomorrow. It is a work of great art, thought and creative daring; the product of a truly iconoclastic imagination working with white-hot intensity.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

For a limited time only, you can 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 (February 26th)

In paperback:

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is up one position, ending the week at number 3 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is up three spots, finishing the week at number 7 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Win a set of Jon Sprunk's The Book of the Black Earth

To help promote the release of Jon Sprunk's Blade and Bone (Canada, USA, Europe), I have a full set of the Book of the Black Earth up for grabs, courtesy of the folks at Pyr. The prize pack includes:

- Blood and Iron
- Storm and Steel
- Blade and Bone

Here's the blurb of the first volume:

This action-heavy EPIC FANTASY SERIES OPENER is like a sword-and-sorcery Spartacus set in a richly-imagined world.

It starts with a shipwreck following a magical storm at sea. Horace, a soldier from the west, had joined the Great Crusade against the heathens of Akeshia after the deaths of his wife and son from plague. When he washes ashore, he finds himself at the mercy of the very people he was sent to kill, who speak a language and have a culture and customs he doesn’t even begin to understand. Not long after, Horace is pressed into service as a house slave. But this doesn’t last. The Akeshians discover that Horace was a latent sorcerer, and he is catapulted from the chains of a slave to the halls of power in the queen’s court. Together with Jirom, an ex-mercenary and gladiator, and Alyra, a spy in the court, he will seek a path to free himself and the empire’s caste of slaves from a system where every man and woman must pay the price of blood or iron. Before the end, Horace will have paid dearly in both.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "BONE." 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!