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:


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.


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.