More inexpensive ebook goodies!

The digital editions of all of Narnia installments by C. S. Lewis are 1.99$ each here.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Narnia . . . a land frozen in eternal winter . . . a country waiting to be set free.

Witness the creation of a magical land in The Magician's Nephew, the first title in C. S. Lewis's classic fantasy series, which has captivated readers of all ages for over sixty years.

On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them. But then the lion Aslan's song weaves itself into the fabric of a new land, a land that will be known as Narnia. And in Narnia, all things are possible.

This ebook contains the complete text and art. Illustrations in this ebook appear in vibrant full color on a full-color ebook device and in rich black-and-white on all other devices. This is a stand-alone novel, but if you want to journey back to Narnia, read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the second book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Robin Hobb's excellent Ship of Magic for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveships—rare vessels carved from wizardwood, which ripens magically into sentient awareness. Now the fortunes of one of Bingtown’s oldest families rest on the newly awakened liveship Vivacia.

For Althea Vestrit, the ship is her rightful legacy. For Althea’s young nephew, wrenched from his religious studies and forced to serve aboard the ship, the Vivacia is a life sentence. But the fate of the ship—and the Vestrits—may ultimately lie in the hands of an outsider: the ruthless buccaneer captain Kennit, who plans to seize power over the Pirate Isles by capturing a liveship and bending it to his will.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Robin Hobb's Mad Ship.

You can also download Paper Cities, an anthology edited by Ekaterina Sedia, for only 0.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:


The city has always been a place of mystery, of magic, and wonder. In cities past, present, and future, in metropoli real and imagined, meet mutilated warrior-women, dead boys, mechanical dogs, escape artists and more. From the dizzying heights of rooftops and spires to the sinister secrets of underpasses and gutters, some of the most talented authors writing today will take you on a trip through the urban fantastic. Edited by Ekaterina Sedia, author of The Secret History of Moscow and The Alchemy of Stone.

With stories from Forrest Aguirre, Hal Duncan, Richard Parks, Cat Rambo, Jay Lake, Greg van Eekhout, Cat Sparks, Steve Berman, Stephanie Campisi, Mark Teppo, Paul Meloy, Vylar Kaftan, Mike Jasper, Ben Peek, Kaaron Warren, Darin C. Bradley, Jenn Reese, David Schwartz, Anna Tambour, Barth Anderson and Catherynne M. Valente. Introduction by Jess Nevins.

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

In hardcover:

Jason Fry's Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition is down nine spots, finishing the week at number 11.

In paperback:

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One maintains its position at number 1 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is up two positions, ending the week at number 8 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology debuts at number 15 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Tim Powers' Last Call for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

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

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

You can also download Margaret Fortune's Nova for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:


The clock activates so suddenly in my mind, my head involuntarily jerks a bit to the side. The fog vanishes, dissipated in an instant as though it never was. Memories come slotting into place, their edges sharp enough to leave furrows, and suddenly I know. I know exactly who I am.

My name is Lia Johansen, and I was named for a prisoner of war. She lived in the Tiersten Internment Colony for two years, and when they negotiated the return of the prisoners, I was given her memories and sent back in her place.

And I am a genetically engineered human bomb.

Lia Johansen was created for only one purpose: to slip onto the strategically placed New Sol Space Station and explode.

But her mission goes to hell when her clock malfunctions, freezing her countdown with just two minutes to go. With no Plan B, no memories of her past, and no identity besides a name stolen from a dead POW, Lia has no idea what to do next. Her life gets even more complicated when she meets Michael Sorenson, the real Lia’s childhood best friend.

Drawn to Michael and his family against her better judgment, Lia starts learning what it means to live and love, and to be human. It is only when her countdown clock begins sporadically losing time that she realizes even duds can still blow up.

If she wants any chance at a future, she must find a way to unlock the secrets of her past and stop her clock. But as Lia digs into her origins, she begins to suspect there’s far more to her mission and to this war, than meets the eye. With the fate of not just a space station but an entire empire hanging in the balance, Lia races to find the truth before her time—literally—runs out.

Win a copy of the mass market paperback edition of Mark Lawrence's RED SISTER

I have three copies of the mass market paperback edition of Mark Lawrence's Red Sister up for grabs, courtesy of the folks at Ace! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

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

The Obelisk Gate

Prior to reading The Fifth Season a few weeks back, although N. K. Jemisin had won the Hugo Award for best novel twice, I had only read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms from her. That novel was a solid debut, no question. And yet, like most speculative fiction debuts, it featured a number of flaws. Most notably a first-person narrative, which is always tricky, a corny love story, and some decidedly clichéd villains. Still, overall, Jemisin's fantasy debut turned out to be an imaginative and enjoyable read. And even if the characterization was subpar, the author scored points for exploring themes such as slavery, sexism, racism, and the abuse of power. She wove these deeper issues throughout the various storylines, sometimes subtly in the background and sometimes in more flagrant fashion. Regardless of how it was done, this was what ultimately gave soul to the novel.

Though I was in no hurry to continue on with the Inheritance trilogy, this was what made me want to read The Fifth Season. Everyone opined that this was her best work to date, so I decided that this was the book I had to read next. And I'm sure glad I did, for The Fifth Season delivered on all fronts. Now I know why it was nominated for all those genre literary prizes.

Even better, the sequel also won the Hugo Award for best novel. Building on its predecessor's plotlines, Jemisin elevates her game even more in this second installment, making The Obelisk Gate an even better novel. The Broken Earth trilogy is definitely shaping up to be one of the most original SFF series of the new millennium and I'm looking forward to discovering how it will all come together in The Stone Sky.

Here's the blurb:


The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.

It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.

The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.

The Obelisk Gate is another blend of fantasy and science fiction. More fantasy than scifi, mind you, but there is science involved in the premise. The worldbuilding is particularly interesting and just might be my favorite facet of this novel. The Earth has changed dramatically and has become an extremely geologically unstable world. Seismic activities cause enormous volcanic eruptions and tsunamis that wipe out vast chunks of the planet's population periodically. These catastrophes generating extended winters are known as Fifth Seasons and they can last for years and decades. The Stillness is the only continent known to exist. Orogenes have the ability to manipulate thermal, kinetic, and related forms of energy to address seismic events. Trained at the Fulcrum and closely supervised by the Guardian order, they are despised and feared due to the potentially devastating powers they wield. In addition to the Fulcrum, there is also a network of nodes manned by orogenes positioned throughout the Stillness to help reduce or quell seismic events. Such an unstable and unforgiving environment makes for a truly original setting, something that we haven't seen before, and I loved everything about it. The Fifth Season began with a new breaking of the world, one that might signal the true end of existence, for this new Fifth Season could last for centuries and even millennia. At the end of the first installment, we were told that there might yet be a way to save civilization from being wiped out. One that involves something known as the moon and the floating obelisks.

The only gripe I had with the first volume was that Jemisin played her cards way too close to her chest. She introduced various fascinating concepts and ideas, but provided virtually no answers to any of the questions these raised in readers' minds. Thankfully, The Obelisk Gate offers a number of tantalizing answers that raise the stakes even more. Secrets about the obelisks, the Fulcrum, the stone eaters, the Guardians, orogenes, the moon, and a lot more are unveiled. All of which adds new dimensions to an already multilayered tale, which is really saying something. And yes, these answers beget yet more questions that will hopefully be answered in the final installment.

As a matter of course, Essun returns as a POV character. As her new community faces a threat that may destroy them, she must learn whatever Alabaster is trying to teach her before he dies. The second perspective is that of Nassun, her daughter. Leagues away to the south, she is being trained to become something she doesn't yet understand. Her father, Jija, made the long sojourn because he believes that this place can cure Nassun of her orogeny. The book also occasionally features Schaffa's point of view. There is a good balance between Essun and Nassun's perspectives and one doesn't take predecence over the other. I'm pleased to report that the supporting cast plays a more important role in The Obelisk Gate. Hoa, in particular, is revealed to be more than he/it appears to be. Steel, another stone eater, seems to be another character that will have a major role to play in what is to come.

Although The Obelisk Gate doesn't suffer from rhythm issues, like its predecessor it cannot be called a fast-paced novel. Having said that, it is definitely a page-turner that you'll get through in no time. As I mentioned, N. J. Jemisin truly elevated her game in this one and the revelations keep you begging for more. And the ending of both Essun and Nassun's plotlines pave the way for what should be one grand finale.

The Obelisk Gate is another demanding yet very rewarding read. Like in Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon, in the first volume the author dropped you off in a very complex world where litte made sense at the beginning. Just buckle up and enjoy the ride, for Jemisin takes you on an ambitious and emotional journey across uncharted waters. This sequel is another gripping read filled with engaging protagonists and an enthralling setting.

Impossible to put down.

The final verdict: 9/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Octavia E. Butler's Seed to Harvest for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The complete Patternist series—the acclaimed science fiction epic of a world transformed by a secret race of telepaths and their devastating rise to power.

In the late seventeenth century, two immortals meet in an African forest. Anyanwu is a healer, a three-hundred-year-old woman who uses her wisdom to help those around her. The other is Doro, a malevolent despot who has mastered the power of stealing the bodies of others when his wears out. Together they will change the world.

Over the next three centuries, Doro mounts a colossal selective breeding project, attempting to create a master race of telepaths. He succeeds beyond his wildest dreams, splitting the human race down the middle and establishing a new world order dominated by the most manipulative minds on Earth.

In these four novels, award-winning author Octavia E. Butler tells the classic story that began her legendary career: a mythic tale of the transformation of civilization.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author’s estate.

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

In hardcover:

Jason Fry's Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition debuts at number 2.

Patricia Briggs' Burn Bright debuts at number 8.

Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus' The Shape of Water debuts at number 11.

In paperback:

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

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is down one position, ending the week at number 10 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.


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

And Superposition was another memorable read, so I had no choice but to read its sequel as soon as I finished it. Unfortunately, Supersymmetry failed to live up to the potential generated by its predecessor. And that's a shame. . .

Here's the blurb:

Ryan Oronzi is a paranoid, neurotic, and brilliant physicist who has developed a quantum military technology that could make soldiers nearly invincible in the field. The technology, however, gives power to the quantum creature known as the varcolac, which slowly begins to manipulate Dr. Oronzi and take over his mind. Oronzi eventually becomes the unwilling pawn of the varcolac in its bid to control the world.

The creature immediately starts attacking those responsible for defeating it fifteen years earlier, including Sandra and Alex Kelley—the two versions of Alessandra Kelley who are still living as separate people. The two young women must fight the varcolac, despite the fact that defeating it may mean resolving once again into a single person.

I've never been a fan of hard science fiction. If the emphasis of a book is on the science and the technology, more often than not the plot gets beyond me and I lose interest. Quantum physics were the backdrop for everything that had to do with Superposition and I was concerned about that. And yet, David Walton did a wonderful job dumbing down the science aspect, so to speak. Not only did the author make the jargon and the concepts understandable, but somehow he managed to make it all quite entertaining. The same cannot be said about Supersymmetry. What worked so well and was fun to read in the first installment was essentially absent in the second volume. Too often, Supersymmetry gets bogged down in scientific elaborations and technical details, and that gets in the way of the storytelling.

The two-timeline narrative structure that merged toward the end helped make Superposition such a terrific read. As a matter of course, this wasn't something that could be duplicated in the sequel. There are a number of storylines, but none recaptured the novelty of Jacob Kelley's trial in the first book. The fast-forward into the future and the impending war with Turkey gave Supersymmetry a decidedly different vibe and it sometimes felt like a Marvel universe kind of tale. Not necessarily my cup of tea, especially given the quality and originality of the first novel.

The characterization is probably the aspect that leaves the most to be desired. Although Jacob Kelley took center stage in both timelines from Superposition, the entire supporting cast was appealing and brought something to the story. The cast of Supersymmetry was definitely subpar compared to the protagonists that made the first installment such a wonderful read. Fifteen years later, both Sandra and Alex Kelley are not as endearing as their younger selves. Ryan Oronzi and Angel Gutierrez, for their part, were a bit bland and not three-dimensional characters. Bringing back Jean Massey, especially the way it was done, felt like clumsy execution. All in all, I couldn't connect with any of the protagonists.

For all that the entire premise had to do with quantum physics, for Superposition Walton managed to come up with a plot that was as compelling as it was enjoyable. I never would have thought that quantum mechanics could be this much fun. Even better, the pace was crisp and the book was a page-turner. Both timelines offered plenty of captivating moments. Supersymmetry started quite well and the apparent return of the varcolac raised the stakes and promised another interesting plot. Yet for some reason, it felt as though everything went downhill around the midway point and the story took a turn for the worse. And for the absurd, what with the teleportation and the time-travel.

I was so looking forward to this one and I really wanted to like Supersymmetry. But where the first volume was absorbing and engaging, the sequel turned out to be a disappointment.

The final verdict: 7/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Neal Stephenson's bestselling Reamde for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Neal Stephenson is continually rocking the literary world with his brazen and brilliant fictional creations—whether he’s reimagining the past (The Baroque Cycle), inventing the future (Snow Crash), or both (Cryptonomicon). With Reamde, this visionary author whose mind-stretching fiction has been enthusiastically compared to the work of Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Kurt Vonnegut, and David Foster Wallace—not to mention William Gibson and Michael Crichton—once again blazes new ground with a high-stakes thriller that will enthrall his loyal audience, science and science fiction, and espionage fiction fans equally. The breathtaking tale of a wealthy tech entrepreneur caught in the very real crossfire of his own online fantasy war game, Reamde is a new high—and a new world—for the remarkable Neal Stephenson.

From the extraordinary Neal Stephenson comes an epic adventure that spans entire worlds, both real and virtual.

The black sheep of an Iowa farming clan, former draft dodger and successful marijuana smuggler Richard Forthrast amassed a small fortune over the years—and then increased it a thousandfold when he created T'Rain. A massive, multibillion-dollar, multiplayer online role-playing game, T'Rain now has millions of obsessed fans from the U.S. to China. But a small group of ingenious Asian hackers has just unleashed Reamde—a virus that encrypts all of a player's electronic files and holds them for ransom—which has unwittingly triggered a war that's creating chaos not only in the virtual universe but in the real one as well. Its repercussions will be felt all around the globe—setting in motion a devastating series of events involving Russian mobsters, computer geeks, secret agents, and Islamic terrorists—with Forthrast standing at ground zero and his loved ones caught in the crossfire.

And you can also get your hands on the digital edition of Joe Hill's The Fireman for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Joe Abercrombie's Half a King for only 2.99$ here. It's also available available for the same price in Canada here.

Here's the blurb:

“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand.

The deceived will become the deceiver.

Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.

The betrayed will become the betrayer.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.

Will the usurped become the usurper?

But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.

Sci-fi: A Movie Top Score Game winner!

This lucky winner will receive a set of the Sci-Fi: A Movie Top Score Game, compliments of the folks at Laurence King Publishing. Follow this link for more info about this card game.

The winner is:

- Tommy Morrison (Khartun on Reddit), from Amarillo, Texas, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

For a limited time, you can download Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragon Wing, first volume in the Death Gate Cycle, the authors' very best series, for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Preeminent storytellers Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman have redefined epic fantasy. Since the publication of their Dragonlance series, millions of readers have enjoyed their imaginative world-building, rich characterization, and intricate storylines. Now these best-selling authors bring their talents to one of the most innovative fantasy creations ever in Dragon Wing, the first volume in The Death Gate Cycle.

An assassin and the royal child he has been hired to kill form an unlikely and unstable alliance as the plots of human sorcerers, elven pirates, and dwarf revolutionaries threaten to overwhelm the airborne kingdoms of Arianus.

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!