This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 14th)

In hardcover:

Timothy Zahn's Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising debuts at number 9.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic is down two spots, finishing the week at number 14.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments debuts at number 2 (trade paperback).

Stephen King's The Institute debuts at number 6 (trade paperback).

Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country is up seven positions, ending the week at number 11 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


For a limited time only, in Canada you can download every single installment of Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, even the Battle Ground pre-order, for only 2.99$ each by following this Amazon Associate link!

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$ by following this Amazon Associate link. 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.


You can also 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?


You can also download Rogues, an anthology edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

A thrilling collection of twenty-one original stories by an all-star list of contributors—including a new A Game of Thrones story by George R. R. Martin!

If you’re a fan of fiction that is more than just black and white, this latest story collection from #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin and award-winning editor Gardner Dozois is filled with subtle shades of gray. Twenty-one all-original stories, by an all-star list of contributors, will delight and astonish you in equal measure with their cunning twists and dazzling reversals. And George R. R. Martin himself offers a brand-new A Game of Thrones tale chronicling one of the biggest rogues in the entire history of Ice and Fire.

Follow along with the likes of Gillian Flynn, Joe Abercrombie, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Cherie Priest, Garth Nix, and Connie Willis, as well as other masters of literary sleight-of-hand, in this rogues gallery of stories that will plunder your heart—and yet leave you all the richer for it.


Finally, you can download Yoon Ha Lee's Ninefox Gambit for only 0.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

To win an impossible war Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general.

Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris's career isn't the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

Cheris's best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress.

The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao--because she might be his next victim.

Quote of the day

I wonder what it says about me that pizza has been one of the better long-term investments in my career.

- JIM BUTCHER, Battle Ground

For more info about this title, check out these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 7th)

In hardcover:

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic is down two spots, finishing the week at number 12.

Stephen King's If It Bleeds maintains its position at number 15. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country is up one position, ending the week at number 4 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is up eight spots, finishing the week at number 7 (trade paperback).

Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower debuts at number 14 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can download Robert McCammon's Swan Song for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

McCammon’s epic bestselling novel about a girl psychic struggling to survive in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.

Something flashes in nine-year-old Swan’s brain, telling her that trouble is coming. Maybe it’s her mother, fed up with her current boyfriend and ready to abandon their dismal trailer park and seek a new home. But something far worse is on the horizon. Death falls from the sky—nuclear bombs which annihilate American civilization. Though Swan survives the blast, this young psychic’s war is just beginning.

As the survivors try to make new lives in the wasteland, an evil army forms, intent on murdering all those tainted with the diseases brought by fallout. When Swan finds a mysterious amulet that could hold the key to humankind’s salvation, she draws the attention of a man more dangerous than any nuclear bomb. To rescue mankind, this little girl will have to grow up fast.

The year of the coronavirus


Hey guys,

I'm sure you realized that things are not the same thing year on the Hotlist. This pandemic has affected us all in myriad ways, most of them negative.

Confinement did me in and I've been battling depression for the last few months with little success. Which is why my review output has dwindled to less than half of what it used to be. Reading doesn't bring as much pleasure as it used to, I'm afraid. I do have three reviews in the pipeline that I must get to, but I find it harder and harder to do so.

On a more positive note, after a 12-year hiatus, I've resumed writing. The amount of ideas swirling around in my head had become such that I simply couldn't help it anymore. I've known what my next story would be for about a decade, but something always forced me to hold back. Confinement gave me an excuse to sit down and work on it, and on March 15th (3 days following the start of the confinement here in Québec) I finally did.

It was as if a part of me came back to life. Seriously, writing is the only thing that kept me sane these last few months. Moreover, the story is progressing at a pace that is a little frightening. I don't know if it's because I've had these ideas and concepts and characters in my mind for years and years, but in a little over 5 months I wrote 431 manuscript pages which amount to more than 120,000 words! It's absolutely crazy!

Working title was Laman's Folly from the get-go, but it's now The Evil That Men Do.

It's Glen Cook's The Black Company meets Steven Erikson's The Bridgeburners meets GRRM's A Game of Thrones.

If all goes well, maybe you'll get to read it at some point in the future. . . =)

Meanwhile, hang in there and try to focus on anything that brings a bit of sunshine into your life. With the second wave coming, we must hang on to any positive things we can lay our hands on.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (August 31st)

In hardcover:

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic is up one spot, finishing the week at number 10.

Stephen King's If It Bleeds is down one position, ending the week at number 15. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country debuts at number 5 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale returns at number 15 (trade paperback).

Quantum Shadows


I was immediately intrigued when I read the blurb for L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s latest science fiction novel. As you know, I'm a big Recluce fan and I relished the opportunity to read a stand-alone work from the author. Given the blurb, I was expecting something more scifi-esque. Quantum Shadows is more of a philosophical and thought-provoking read, and as such it's short on plot and characterization. It's a book that asks readers to consider things from a different perspective, which is always good. Unfortunately, there's not much in terms of a story per se.

Here's the blurb:

Bestselling author of The Mongrel Mage, L. E. Modesitt, Jr's Quantum Shadows blends science fiction, myth, and legend in an adventure that pits old gods and new against one another in a far future world.

On a world called Heaven, the ten major religions of mankind each have its own land governed by a capital city and ruled by a Hegemon. That Hegemon may be a god, or a prophet of a god. Smaller religions have their own towns or villages of belief.

Corvyn, known as the Shadow of the Raven, contains the collective memory of humanity’s Falls from Grace. With this knowledge comes enormous power.

When unknown power burns a mysterious black image into the holy place of each House of the Decalivre, Corvyn must discover what entity could possibly have that much power. The stakes are nothing less than another Fall, and if he doesn't stop it, mankind will not rise from the ashes.


Modesitt is known for his detailed worldbuilding and the backdrop for Quantum Shadows seemed to be fascinating. A planet called Heaven, on which all of mankind's religions are forced to live in relative peace, or else face the wrath of the Pearls of Heaven orbiting around the world, watching and waiting. Alas, the author kept his cards way too close to his chest. I understand that less is more often enough. But in this case, with the novel weighing in at only 300 pages, Modesitt could have provided a lot more information and elaborated on the various cities/states/villages and their respective religions without hampering the momentum of the tale. As things stand, the reader keeps going without understanding much of what is taking place. Even the finale fails to bring much in terms of resolution.

Essentially, Quantum Shadows is little more than a travelogue that depicts Corvyn's journey across the land in search of information about the mysterious tridents that keep appearing in holy places sanctified to various deities. Like George R. R. Martin, Modesitt has always been keen on food and drinks and Corvyn's meals are described at great length. The same goes for his many hotel rooms. Sadly, I would have liked to learn more about the various gods, angels, apostles, prophets, etc, as well as the tenets of their religions. But it wasn't meant to be. It often feels as though this is a new installment in an ongoing series, and that all the groundwork has been laid out in previous volumes. Indeed, the story moves forward as if the reader should be aware of what is occurring and the author wastes little time providing background information to help him along.

There is very little characterization to speak of. Corvyn is so enigmatic that even his POV remains shrouded in mystery. You do get to know a little more about him by the end of the book, but not much. The supporting cast is never truly fleshed out and is more or less forgettable. I have to admit that I was expecting much more of Modesitt in that regard and the end result is really disappointing.

The novel also explores themes such as sexism, freedom (of thought, of speech, or religion), culture, power, control, censorship, and the arts (especially music and poetry). The commentary can be subtle and at other times quite obvious. But with the plot being as thin as it is, I felt that such commentary would have worked better had the tale echoed with more depth.

I particularly enjoyed Corvyn's nightmares, which paint a very grim picture of humanity's various Falls. Through these short vignettes, one realizes that there is so much more to this story. I just wish Modesitt would have given us more. Because when all is said and done, Quantum Shadows doesn't feel like a full novel. So much seems to be missing. And it's a shame, for all the ingredients were there for another brilliant and entertaining read.

The final verdict: 6.5/10

For more info about this title, click on these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe

Follow this link to read an extract.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download N. K. Jemisin's The City We Became for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Three-time Hugo Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author N.K. Jemisin crafts her most incredible novel yet, a story of culture, identity, magic, and myths in contemporary New York City.

In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn't remember who he is, where he's from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power.

In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it's as if the paint is literally calling to her.

In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels.

And they're not the only ones.

Every great city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York? She's got six.


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


For a limited time only, you can download the second volume in Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive, Words of Radiance, for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive sequence began in 2010 with the New York Times bestseller The Way of Kings. Now, the eagerly anticipated Words of Radiance continues the epic story and answers many of your questions.

Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi.

Now the Assassin is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin’s master has much deeper motives.

Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes." Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.

Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.

Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.

The doors of the Stormlight Archive first opened to us with The Way of Kings. Read that book – now available in all formats – and then Words of Radiance, and you can be part of the adventure every dazzling step of the way.


You can also download Ernest Cline's worldwide bestseller Ready Player One for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.

The worldwide bestseller—now a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (August 24th)

In hardcover:

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic is up two spots, finishing the week at number 11.

Stephen King's If It Bleeds returns at number 14. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Tad Williams' excellent Otherland: City of Golden Shadow for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Otherland. Surrounded by secrecy, it is home to the wildest dreams and darkest nightmares. Incredible amounts of money have been lavished on it. The best minds of two generations have labored to build it. And somehow, bit by bit, it is claiming the Earth’s most valuable resource—its children.

Only a few have become aware of the danger. Fewer still are willing or able to take up the challenge of this perilous and seductive realm. But every age has its heroes, and unusual times call for unusual champions:

Renie Sulaweyo, a teacher and the backbone of her family, proud of her African heritage, has fought all her life simply to get by. She has never wanted to be a hero. But when her young brother is struck down by a bizarre and mysterious illness, Renie swears to save him. When people around her begin to die, she realizes she has stumbled onto something she is not meant to know, a terrifying secret from which there is no turning back.

!Xabbu is a Bushman, come to the city to learn skills which may save the spirit of his tribe. With the heart of a poet and the soul of a shaman, he will journey with Renie on this quest into the very heart of darkness.

Paul Jonas is lost, seemingly adrift in space and time. As he flees from the bloody battlefields of World War I to a castle in the sky, and onward to lands beyond imagining, he must not only evade his terrifying pursuers, but solve the terrible riddle of his own identity.

Fourteen-year-old Orlando is also the invincible barbarian Thargorm, but only in his imagination. However, youth and frailty are not enough to get you excused from saving the world.

And Mister Sellars, a strange old man on a military base, a prisoner of both the government and his own body, may be the greatest mystery of all. Is he part of The Grail Brotherhood? Does he oppose them? Or, as he sits like a spider at the center of a vast web, does he have ambitions of his own?

The answers will only be found in Otherland.

Otherland…


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go for 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, comes an unforgettable edge-of-your-seat mystery that is at once heartbreakingly tender and morally courageous about what it means to be human.

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.


This week's New York Times Bestsellers (August 17th)

In hardcover:

Laurell K. Hamilton's Sucker Punch debuts at number 7.

Tamsyn Muir’s Harrow the Ninth debuts at number 9.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic is down four spots, finishing the week at number 13.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Ian McDonald's Luna: New Moon for only 3.49$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

The Moon wants to kill you. Whether it's being unable to pay your per diem for your allotted food, water, and air, or you just get caught up in a fight between the Moon's ruling corporations, the Five Dragons. You must fight for every inch you want to gain in the Moon's near feudal society. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.

As the leader of the Moon's newest "dragon," Adriana has wrested control of the Moon's Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family's new status. Now, at the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation, Corta Helio, surrounded by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana's five children must defend their mother's empire from her many enemies... and each other.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of George R. R. Martin's excellent Fevre Dream for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Abner Marsh, a struggling riverboat captain, suspects that something’s amiss when he is approached by a wealthy aristocrat with a lucrative offer. The hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York doesn’t care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh’s dilapidated fleet; nor does he care that he won’t earn back his investment in a decade. York’s reasons for traversing the powerful Mississippi are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious York’s actions may prove. Not until the maiden voyage of Fevre Dream does Marsh realize that he has joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare—and humankind’s most impossible dream.


You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Timothy Zahn's Star Wars: Thrawn for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this definitive novel, readers will follow Thrawn’s rise to power—uncovering the events that created one of the most iconic villains in Star Wars history.

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.


You can also download Nnedi Okorafor's Binti: The Complete Trilogy for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Collected for the first time in an omnibus edition, the Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning Binti trilogy, the story of one extraordinary girl's journey from her home to distant Oomza University.

In her Hugo- and Nebula-winning novella, Nnedi Okorafor introduced us to Binti, a young Himba girl with the chance of a lifetime: to attend the prestigious Oomza University. Despite her family's concerns, Binti's talent for mathematics and her aptitude with astrolabes make her a prime candidate to undertake this interstellar journey.

But everything changes when the jellyfish-like Medusae attack Binti's spaceship, leaving her the only survivor. Now, Binti must fend for herself, alone on a ship full of the beings who murdered her crew, with five days until she reaches her destination.

There is more to the history of the Medusae--and their war with the Khoush--than first meets the eye. If Binti is to survive this voyage and save the inhabitants of the unsuspecting planet that houses Oomza Uni, it will take all of her knowledge and talents to broker the peace.

Collected now for the first time in omnibus form, follow Binti's story in this groundbreaking sci-fi trilogy.



Finally, you can also download Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Time of the Twins for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

New York Times–bestselling series: The War of the Lance has ended, and the darkness has passed. Or has it?

Sequestered in the blackness of the dreaded Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas, and surrounded by nameless creatures of evil, archmage Raistlin Majere weaves a plan to conquer the darkness—to bring it under his control.

Two people alone can stop him. One is Crysania, a beautiful and devoted cleric of Paladine, who tries to use her faith to lead Raistlin from the darkness. She is blind to his shadowed designs, and he draws her slowly into his neatly woven trap.

The other is Raistlin’s twin, Caramon. Made aware of his brother’s plan, a distraught Caramon travels back in time to the doomed city of Istar in the days before the Cataclysm. There, together with the ever-present kender Tasslehoff, Caramon will make his stand to save Raistlin’s soul.

Or so he believes.


This week's New York Times Bestsellers (August 10th)

In hardcover:

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic returns at number 9.

Stephen King's If It Bleeds maintains its position at number 13. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale returns at number 12 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can get your hands on the digital edition of Paul Kearney's excellent The Wolf in the Attic for only 0.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. One of the best fantasy titles of 2016, no question!

Here's the blurb:

1920s Oxford: home to C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien... and Anna Francis, a young Greek refugee looking to escape the grim reality of her new life. The night they cross paths, none suspect the fantastic world at work around them.

Anna Francis lives in a tall old house with her father and her doll Penelope. She is a refugee, a piece of flotsam washed up in England by the tides of the Great War and the chaos that trailed in its wake. Once upon a time, she had a mother and a brother, and they all lived together in the most beautiful city in the world, by the shores of Homer's wine-dark sea.

But that is all gone now, and only to her doll does she ever speak of it, because her father cannot bear to hear. She sits in the shadows of the tall house and watches the rain on the windows, creating worlds for herself to fill out the loneliness. The house becomes her own little kingdom, an island full of dreams and half-forgotten memories. And then one winter day, she finds an interloper in the topmost, dustiest attic of the house. A boy named Luca with yellow eyes, who is as alone in the world as she is.

That day, she’ll lose everything in her life, and find the only real friend she may ever know.

Kitty's Mix-Tape


Though it's been a few years since Carrie Vaughn's brought the Kitty Norville sequence to an end, last year she surprised readers with The Immortal Conquistador, a work which revealed Rick the vampire's origin story. And even if it made you beg for more, that book was a compelling read that finally shed some light on one of the most fascinating and secretive characters from the Kitty universe.

This year, the author returns with a collection of short stories featuring Kitty herself and many of the men and women that made the supporting cast so memorable over the course of the series. The bulk of these short fiction pieces first appeared in SFF magazines, various anthologies, and on Vaughn's own website. But a few are original to Kitty's Mix-Tape.

Once again, it was a delight to return to Kitty's world. Even if it was only for the duration of a few short stories. Kitty's Mix-Tape makes you remember why you enjoyed the series to such a degree and makes you long for more of Kitty's misadventures. Thankfully, in the story notes Vaughn implies that there is more on the way. I'm sure I'm not the only one excited about that!

Here's the blurb:

Kitty Norville still can’t stay away from trouble—of the supernatural kind.

Everyone’s favorite werewolf DJ is here to mix it up just one last time. Here you will find, or even newly discover, the irrepressible Kitty Norville with friends and enemies alike: Rick the vampire; Jessi Hardin, paranormal detective; Kitty’s husband Ben; Cormac, the bounty hunter; and the villainous Dux Bellorum. These irresistible tales are full of unpredictable twists and turns: lupines experimenting with astronomy, a cheating boxer with preternatural strength, vampires arriving from the Philippines.

As a special treat, author Carrie Vaughn (Bannerless) has provided her own selections for a mix-tape: story notes and songs dedicated to each tale.

So whatever you do, don’t miss Kitty before she is gone. . . .


It goes without saying that this work is for people already familiar with the original book sequence. As was the case with The Immortal Conquistador, Kitty's Mix-Tape is another great companion book for fans of Vaughn's signature series. Newbies could potentially enjoy several of the tales, but without context they would miss out on too many nuances and references. Anyone interested in giving the series a shot should start at the beginning and read Kitty and the Midnight Hour.

The short fiction pieces compiled in Kitty's Mix-Tape offer an engaging blend of stories. Some of them provide new perspectives that fill in some gaps in the series' plotlines. Others are yet more origin stories. Others feature secondary characters that deserved more of the spotlight. Others are loosely related to the main story arc. And yet, though some are inevitably better and more entertaining than others, the entire collection makes for a fun and interesting read.

My favorites include "Kitty Walks On, Calls Your Name" (you just knew that any high school reunion Kitty attended would be something special!), "It's Still the Same Old Story" (another tale featuring Rick which occurs across different timelines), "The Arcane Art of Misdirection" (in which Odysseus Grant takes center stage), "Defining Shadows" (Filipino vampire, nuff said!), and "Bellum Romanum" (which shows how Roman became a powerful magician).

While we eagerly await whatever comes next for Kitty and the others, this one should scratch that itch. Like its predecessor, Kitty's Mix-Tape is sure to please all the Kitty Norville fans out there!

Carrie Vaughn proves yet again that she is nearly as good a short story writer as she is at writing novel-length projects.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

For more info about this title, check out these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

First in the bestselling Dragon Prince series, explore a lush epic fantasy world replete with winged beasts, power games of magical treachery, and a realm of princedoms hovering on the brink of war • “Marvelous!”—Anne McCaffrey.

When Rohan became the new prince of the Desert, ruler of the kingdom granted to his family for as long as the Long Sands spewed fire, he took the crown with two goals in mind. First and foremost, he sought to bring permanent peace to his world of divided princedoms. And, in a land where dragon-slaying was a proof of manhood, Rohan was the sole champion of the dragons, fighting desperately to preserve the last remaining lords of the sky and with them a secret which might be the salvation of his people...

Sioned, the Sunrunner witch who was fated by Fire to be Rohan’s bride, had mastered the magic of sunlight and moonglow, catching hints of a yet to be formed pattern which could irrevocably affect the destinies of Sunrunners and ordinary mortals alike. Yet caught in the machinations of the Lady of Goddess Keep, and of Prince Rohan and his sworn enemy, the treacherously cunning High Prince, could Sioned alter this crucial pattern to protect her lord from the menace of a war that threatened to set the land ablaze?


You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Guy Gavriel Kay's The Summer Tree for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The Summer Tree is the first novel of Guy Gavriel Kay’s critically acclaimed fantasy trilogy, The Fionavar Tapestry. Five university students embark on a journey of self-discovery when they enter a realm of wizards and warriors, gods and mythical creatures--and good and evil…

It all began with a lecture that introduced five university students to a man who would change their lives, a wizard who would take them from Earth to the heart of the first of all worlds--Fionavar. And take them Loren Silvercloak did, for his need--the need of Fionavar and all the worlds--was great indeed.

And in a marvelous land of men and dwarves, of wizards and gods, five young people discovered who they were truly meant to be. For they are a long-awaited part of the pattern known as the Fionavar Tapestry, and only if they accepted their destiny would the armies of the Light stand any chance of surviving the wrath the Unraveller and his minions of darkness intend to unleash upon the world…


Speaking of Kay, you can also download Guy Gavriel Kay's Children of Earth and Sky for only 4.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay is back with a new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, set in a world inspired by the conflicts and dramas of Renaissance Europe. Against this tumultuous backdrop the lives of men and women unfold on the borderlands—where empires and faiths collide.

From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.

The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.

As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world…


Finally, you can download C. S. Friedman's Black Sun Rising, the first volume in the Coldfire trilogy, one of the best dark fantasy series ever written, for only 2.99$ here!

Here's the blurb:

Blending science fiction and fantasy, the first book of the Coldfire Trilogy tells a dark tale of an alien world where nightmares are made manifest.

Over a millennium ago, Erna, a seismically active yet beautiful world was settled by colonists from far-distant Earth. But the seemingly habitable planet was fraught with perils no one could have foretold. The colonists found themselves caught in a desperate battle for survival against the fae, a terrifying natural force with the power to prey upon the human mind itself, drawing forth a person’s worst nightmare images or most treasured dreams and indiscriminately giving them life.

Twelve centuries after fate first stranded the colonists on Erna, mankind has achieved an uneasy stalemate, and human sorcerers manipulate the fae for their own profit, little realizing that demonic forces which feed upon such efforts are rapidly gaining in strength.

Now, as the hordes of the dark fae multiply, four people—Priest, Adept, Apprentice, and Sorcerer—are about to be drawn inexorably together for a mission which will force them to confront an evil beyond their imagining, in a conflict which will put not only their own lives but the very fate of humankind in jeopardy.

Win a copy of Kevin Hearne's INK AND SIGIL

I have a copy of Kevin Hearne's upcoming Ink and Sigil up for grabs, courtesy of the folks at Del Rey. For more info about this title, check out these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Al MacBharrais is both blessed and cursed. He is blessed with an extraordinary white moustache, an appreciation for craft cocktails—and a most unique magical talent. He can cast spells with magically enchanted ink and he uses his gifts to protect our world from rogue minions of various pantheons, especially the Fae.

But he is also cursed. Anyone who hears his voice will begin to feel an inexplicable hatred for Al, so he can only communicate through the written word or speech apps. And his apprentices keep dying in peculiar freak accidents. As his personal life crumbles around him, he devotes his life to his work, all the while trying to crack the secret of his curse.

But when his latest apprentice, Gordie, turns up dead in his Glasgow flat, Al discovers evidence that Gordie was living a secret life of crime. Now Al is forced to play detective—while avoiding actual detectives who are wondering why death seems to always follow Al. Investigating his apprentice’s death will take him through Scotland’s magical underworld, and he’ll need the help of a mischievous hobgoblin if he’s to survive.


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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (August 3rd)

In hardcover:

Jim Butcher's Peace Talks is down seven spots, finishing the week at number 9. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Stephen King's If It Bleeds is down two positions, ending the week at number 13. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora


You may recall that I enjoyed Suyi Davies Okungbowa's Nigerian god-punk fantasy debut, David Mogo, Godhunter, last year. And since he's part of this project, I figure it's the reason why I was invited to sample Dominion a few months before its release date. On the off chance of discovering the next Nnedi Okorafor, I was happy to give this one a shot!

Labeled as the first speculative fiction anthology completely comprised of works by African writers and authors from the African Diaspora, Dominion really intrigued me. To begin with, I was aware that it would probably be unlike any other SFF anthology out there. This could be construed as good thing. Understandably, it could also be detrimental to potential readers if the stories were too different, too unfamiliar. So I went into these short fiction pieces with an open mind and I thoroughly enjoyed my journey.

Here's the blurb:

Dominion is the first anthology of speculative fiction and poetry by Africans and the African Diaspora. An old god rises up each fall to test his subjects. Once an old woman’s pet, a robot sent to mine an asteroid faces an existential crisis. A magician and his son time-travel to Ngoni country and try to change the course of history. A dead child returns to haunt his grieving mother with terrifying consequences. Candace, an ambitious middle manager, is handed a project that will force her to confront the ethical ramifications of her company’s latest project—the monetization of human memory. Osupa, a newborn village in pre-colonial Yorubaland populated by refugees of war, is recovering after a great storm when a young man and woman are struck by lightning, causing three priests to divine the coming intrusion of a titanic object from beyond the sky.

A magician teams up with a disgruntled civil servant to find his missing wand. A taboo error in a black market trade brings a man face-to-face with his deceased father—literally. The death of a King sets off a chain of events that ensnare a trickster, an insane killing machine, and a princess, threatening to upend their post-apocalyptic world. Africa is caught in the tug-of-war between two warring Chinas, and for Ibrahim torn between the lashings of his soul and the pain of the world around him, what will emerge? When the Goddess of Vengeance locates the souls of her stolen believers, she comes to a midwestern town with a terrible past, seeking the darkest reparations. In a post-apocalyptic world devastated by nuclear war, survivors gather in Ife-Iyoku, the spiritual capital of the ancient Oyo Empire, where they are altered in fantastic ways by its magic and power.

The two editors, Zelda Knight and Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald, compiled short fiction tales that cover the length and breadth of everything that falls under the speculative fiction umbrella. Such a convergence of genres and subgenres makes for captivating reading. Though most of the pieces are not culturally familiar in style, tone, or context to Western SFF readers, they all have something that can appeal to a broader audience. I'm persuaded that I couldn't understand and invariably missed some of the references and nuances found throughout the book. And yet, that never prevented me from enjoying the stories found within its pages.

Anthologies and collections of short fiction can be tricky things. Most of them consist of a few gems and some other quality reads, but inevitably these works are padded with filler material that takes something away from the overall reading experience. Not so with Dominion. It would be a lie to say that it's all killer material. That would have been too good to be true. But even though some stories stand out and resonated more with me, I felt that every piece contained in this anthology had something to offer and was a worthwhile addition to the project.

Dominion features quite a few post-apocalyptic stories in which the protagonists, their societies, their nations have to deal with profound emotional and psychological scars from the past that can never fully heal. Many of these tales are about dealing with or confronting these wounds, so people can move forward, and how difficult and life-changing that journey can be. Some are about evolution and transcendence. All in all, these short stories can be quite compelling and thought-provoking.

Another facet which I liked was the fact that many of the tales don't shy away from exploring sensitive issues such as domestic violence, abortion, sexual assault, violence against women and children, racism, and sexism, etc. This is no YA fare, so consider yourself warned. These stories tackle serious subject matters without sugarcoating everything to make it easier for the reader to deal with them.

My favorites include "The Unclean" by Nuzo Onoh, "A Mastery of German" by Marian Denise Moore, "The Satellite Charmer" by Mame Bougouma Diene, "Clanfall: Death of Kings" by Odida Nyabundi, and "Ife-Iyoku, The Tale of Imadeyunuagbon" by Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald.

Do yourself a favor and pre-order Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora. It's an entertaining, stimulating, and inspiring collection of stories that will force you to look at the world in a different way. Moreover, it shows once again that international talent can take speculative fiction to new heights! Here's to hoping that there will be more such anthologies in the future so that we can discover yet more foreign talents that deserve to be more widely read.

Highly recommended.

The final verdict: 8/10

For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (July 27th)

In hardcover:

Jim Butcher's Peace Talks debuts at number 2. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Stephen King's If It Bleeds maintains its position at number 11. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic is down four spots, finishing the week at number 14.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Charlie Jane Anders' The City in the Middle of the Night for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

"If you control our sleep, then you can own our dreams... And from there, it's easy to control our entire lives."

January is a dying planet—divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other. Humanity clings to life, spread across two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk.

But life inside the cities is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside.

Sophie, a student and reluctant revolutionary, is supposed to be dead after being exiled into the night. Saved only by forming an unusual bond with the enigmatic beasts who roam the ice, Sophie vows to stay hidden from the world, hoping she can heal.

But fate has other plans—and Sophie's ensuing odyssey and the ragtag family she finds will change the entire world.

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


This week's New York Times Bestsellers (July 20th)

In hardcover:

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic is down one spot, finishing the week at number 10.

Stephen King's If It Bleeds maintains its position at number 11. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Robin Hobb's Fool's Assassin for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link!

Here's the blurb:

Nearly twenty years ago, Robin Hobb burst upon the fantasy scene with the first of her acclaimed Farseer novels, Assassin’s Apprentice, which introduced the characters of FitzChivalry Farseer and his uncanny friend the Fool. A watershed moment in modern fantasy, this novel—and those that followed—broke exciting new ground in a beloved genre. Together with George R. R. Martin, Robin Hobb helped pave the way for such talented new voices as Scott Lynch, Brandon Sanderson, and Naomi Novik.

Over the years, Hobb’s imagination has soared throughout the mythic lands of the Six Duchies in such bestselling series as the Liveship Traders Trilogy and the Rain Wilds Chronicles. But no matter how far she roamed, her heart always remained with Fitz. And now, at last, she has come home, with an astonishing new novel that opens a dark and gripping chapter in the Farseer saga.

FitzChivalry—royal bastard and former king’s assassin—has left his life of intrigue behind. As far as the rest of the world knows, FitzChivalry Farseer is dead and buried. Masquerading as Tom Badgerlock, Fitz is now married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, and leading the quiet life of a country squire.

Though Fitz is haunted by the disappearance of the Fool, who did so much to shape Fitz into the man he has become, such private hurts are put aside in the business of daily life, at least until the appearance of menacing, pale-skinned strangers casts a sinister shadow over Fitz’s past . . . and his future.

Now, to protect his new life, the former assassin must once again take up his old one. . .

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download James Islington's The Shadow of What Was Lost, first volume in the Licanius trilogy, for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada. It's supposed to be a must for fans of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time.

Here's the blurb:

It has been twenty years since the god-like Augurs were overthrown and killed. Now, those who once served them - the Gifted - are spared only because they have accepted the rebellion's Four Tenets, vastly limiting their powers.

As a Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. He and others like him are despised. But when Davian discovers he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything.

To the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian's wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is...

And in the far north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Fragile Things is a sterling collection of exceptional tales from Neil Gaiman, multiple award-winning (the Hugo, Bram Stoker, Newberry, and Eisner Awards, to name just a few), #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Graveyard Book, Anansi Boys, Coraline, and the groundbreaking Sandman graphic novel series. A uniquely imaginative creator of wonders whose unique storytelling genius has been acclaimed by a host of literary luminaries from Norman Mailer to Stephen King, Gaiman’s astonishing powers are on glorious displays in Fragile Things. Enter and be amazed!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes' The Dragon Corsairs trilogy omnibus, comprised of Spymaster, Privateer, and Kingmaker, for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb for the first novel:

The start of a swashbuckling adventure from New York Times bestselling author Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes.

Captain Kate Fitzmaurice was born to sail. She has made a life of her own as a privateer and smuggler. Hired by the notorious Henry Wallace, spymaster for the queen of Freya, to find a young man who claims to be the true heir to the Freyan, she begins to believe that her ship has finally come in.

But no fair wind lasts forever. Soon Kate’s checkered past will catch up to her. It will take more than just quick wits and her considerable luck if she hopes to bring herself—and her crew—through intact.

"A solid addition to a new series, with a cliffhanger ending promising more intrigue and adventure in the next installment."--Booklist

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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (July 13th)

In hardcover:

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic debuts at number 9.

Stephen King's If It Bleeds is down four positions, ending the week at number 11. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (July 6th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King's If It Bleeds is down one position, ending the week at number 7. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Kate Elliott's Cold Magic for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. You can also get your hands on both sequels for 1.99$ each.

Here's the blurb:

The Wild Hunt is stirring - and the dragons are finally waking from their long sleep...

Cat Barahal was the only survivor of the flood that took her parents. Raised by her extended family, she and her cousin, Bee, are unaware of the dangers that threaten them both. Though they are in beginning of the Industrial Age, magic - and the power of the Cold Mages - still hold sway.

Now, betrayed by her family and forced to marry a powerful Cold Mage, Cat will be drawn into a labyrinth of politics. There she will learn the full ruthlessness of the rule of the Cold Mages. What do the Cold Mages want from her? And who will help Cat in her struggle against them?


You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Richard Morgan's excellent Altered Carbon for only 1.99$ 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.


You can also 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.