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

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down two positions, ending the week at number 8.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is down four spots, finishing the week at number 11.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is up one position, ending the week at number 3 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Nnedi Okorafor's Binti: The Complete Trilogy for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Includes a brand-new Binti story!

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.


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Alastair Reynolds' scifi classic, Revelation Space, for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The highly-acclaimed first novel in the Revelation Space universe.

When human colonists settled the Amarantin homeworld, few of them bothered to question the disappearance of its native population almost a million years before. But in the year 2551, one man, Dan Sylveste, is convinced that solving the riddle of the Amarantin is vital to human survival. As he nears the truth, he learns that someone wants him dead. Because the Amarantin were destroyed for a reason. And if that reason is made public, the universe—and reality itself—could be forever altered. This sprawling operatic novel ranges across vast gulfs of time and space to arrive at a terrifying conclusion.

Alastair Reynolds, who holds a Ph.D. in Astronomy, has written a vivid and action-packed story that will linger in the minds of its readers.

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

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up two positions, ending the week at number 6.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is up four spots, finishing the week at number 7.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is down one position, ending the week at number 4 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of the Baroque Cycle omnibus by Neal Stephenson, comprised of Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World, for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada. That's 3505 pages for less than 3$!!!

Here's the blurb:

Get all three novels in Neal Stephenson's New York Times bestselling "Baroque Cycle" in one e-book, including: Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World. This three-volume historical epic delivers intrigue, adventure, and excitement set against the political upheaval of the early 18th century.

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

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down two positions, ending the week at number 8.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is down five spots, finishing the week at number 10.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is down one position, ending the week at number 3 (trade paperback).

Mini reviews

Hey guys,

As my mom's health continues to deteriorate, I visit her every chance I get. Which means that, even though I wanted to resume reviewing all the books I read in 2021, I simply don't have the time or the energy to do so these days. Hence, once again I have to resort to posting these mini reviews.

I feel bad because some of these novels truly deserved more in-depth reviews. And yet, I just can't find it in me to write them. The treatments gave my mother two to three months to live, so I figure that it will remain the case until she sadly passes away.

All I can say is that I'm sorry and that I hope you understand. . .


- The Girl and the Mountain by Mark Lawrence (Canada, USA, Europe): 8.5/10

This sequel begins right where its predecessor ended and Lawrence wastes no time in getting back on track. The pace gets a little bogged down in the middle portion of the novel, as the tale becomes a somewhat long travelogue. But then the author kicks you in the balls with revelations that all of his series are related. In the past, without such confirmation, though there were lots of clues and no small amount of coincidences, they could have all been easter eggs. But in this one, Lawrence spills the beans and makes it official. Makes me want to reread everything just so I can see all that I've missed over the years. My only gripe with The Girl and the Mountain is that it ends with another major cliffhanger. Still, definitely one of the SFF books to read this year!


- A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (Canada, USA, Europe): 7/10

To be honest, I had absolutely no desire to read this one. But then the whole race fiasco happened and I was glad to have saved my ARC. Given everything that was said about Novik's latest, I wanted to read the "dirty" version. And not surprisingly, I didn't find it that bad and still wonder why it raised such an online fuss. The fact that the author had to apologize publicly on her website and promised that a "sensitivity read" would henceforth be done before galleys are sent out shows that the terrorists have won, so to speak. If this was for a work published by Baen, I would understand. But Naomi Novik has never been considered an insensitive right-wing fucktard, so I'm at a loss to explain why some people were that hard on her. The story itself is all right, but the main protagonist is terribly annoying and impossible to root for. Not sure I'll give the sequel a shot.


- When Jackals Storm the Walls by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Canada, USA, Europe): 8/10

After a disappointing first volume, this series seems to get better and better with each new installment. The books that came before paved the way for the characters and their storylines and many of these threads come together in this one. To a certain extent, this fifth volume often read like the series' finale and I was wondering how Beaulieu would close the show and leave enough doors open for the last installment. He did so with panache, even if a number of plotlines were resolved a little too quickly for my taste. Having said that, it's the best one yet.

I'm currently reading the final Harry Potter book, as well as Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth. About halfway through and it's definitely a fun romp of a novel. I just don't see (yet) how or why it garnered so much love. . .

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

In hardcover:

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is up four spots, finishing the week at number 5.

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up one position, ending the week at number 6.

Sarah J. Mass' A Court of Silver Flames returns at number 15.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is down one position, ending the week at number 2 (trade paperback).

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

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down one position, ending the week at number 7.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is down four spots, finishing the week at number 9.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later maintains its position at number 1 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Nicholas Eames' Bloody Rose for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

A band of fabled mercenaries, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, tour a wild fantasy landscape, battling monsters in arenas in front of thousands of adoring fans, but a secret and dangerous gig ushers them to the frozen north, and the band is never one to waste a shot at glory . . . even if it means almost certain death.

Live fast, die young.

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, rolls into town, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download the Joe Hill e-book bundle, comprised of Heart-Shaped Box, 20th Century Ghosts, Horns, and NOS4A2, for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Get four bone-chilling novels of psychological and supernatural suspense from New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill in one e-book, including: Heart-Shaped Box, 20th Century Ghosts, Horns, and NOS4A2. Each publication of Hill is beautiful textured, deliciously scary, and greeted with the sort of overwhelming critical acclaim that is rare for works of skin-crawling supernatural terror. Read on if you dare to see what all the well-deserved hoopla is about.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Octavia E. Butler's Earthseed: The Complete Series for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

A multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner’s powerful saga of survival and destiny in a near-future dystopian America.

One of the world’s most respected authors of science fiction imagines an apocalyptic near-future Earth where a remarkable young woman discovers that her destiny calls her to try and change the world around her. Octavia E. Butler’s brilliant two-volume Earthseed saga offers a startling vision of an all-too-possible tomorrow, in which walls offer no protection from a civilization gone mad.

Parable of the Sower: In the aftermath of worldwide ecological and economic apocalypse, minister’s daughter Lauren Oya Olamina escapes the slaughter that claims the lives of her family and nearly every other member of their gated California community. Heading north with two young companions through an American wasteland, the courageous young woman faces dangers at every turn while spreading the word of a remarkable new religion that embraces survival and change.

Parable of the Talents: Called to the new, hard truth of Earthseed, the small community of the dispossessed that now surrounds Lauren Olamina looks to her—their leader—for guidance. But when the evil that has grown out of the ashes of human society destroys all she has built, the prophet is forced to choose between preserving her faith or her family.

The Earthseed novels cement Butler’s reputation as “one of the finest voices in fiction—period” (TheWashington Post Book World). Stunningly prescient and breathtakingly relevant to our times, this dark vision of a future America is a masterwork of powerful speculation that ushers us into a broken, dangerously divided world of bigotry, social inequality, mob violence, and ultimately hope.


This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 29th)

In hardcover:

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is down one spot, finishing the week at number 5.

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up four positions, ending the week at number 6.

Patricia Briggs' Wild Sign debuts at number 9.

Sarah J. Mass' A Court of Silver Flames is up one spot, finishing the week at number 12.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later maintains its position at number 1 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Jim Butcher's Side Jobs for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

With tales ranging from the deadly serious to the absurdly hilarious—including an original story for this volume—Side Jobs is a must-have collection for every devoted Harry Dresden fan.

As Chicago’s only professional wizard, Harry Dresden has had cases that have pitted him against insane necromancers, power-hungry faerie queens, enigmatic dark wizards, fallen angels—pretty much a “who’s who” of hell and beyond—with the stakes in each case ranging from a lone human soul to the entire human race. But not every adventure Harry Dresden undertakes is an epic tale of life and death in a world on the edge of annihilation.

Here, together for the first time in paperback, are the shorter works of #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher—a compendium of cases that Harry and his cadre of allies managed to close in record time.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Joe Abercrombie's The Trouble With Peace for only £0.99 by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Savine dan Glokta, once Adua’s most powerful investor, finds her judgement, fortune and reputation in tatters. But she still has all her ambitions, and no scruple will be permitted to stand in her way.

For heroes like Leo dan Brock and Stour Nightfall, only happy with swords drawn, peace is an ordeal to end as soon as possible. But grievances must be nursed, power seized and allies gathered first, while Rikke must master the power of the Long Eye . . . before it kills her.

The Breakers still lurk in the shadows, plotting to free the common man from his shackles, while noblemen bicker for their own advantage. Orso struggles to find a safe path through the maze of knives that is politics, only for his enemies, and his debts, to multiply.

The old ways are swept aside, and the old leaders with them, but those who would seize the reins of power will find no alliance, no friendship, and no peace, lasts forever.



You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Kate Elliott's Unconquerable Sun for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

GENDER-SPUN ALEXANDER THE GREAT ON AN INTERSTELLAR SCALE

Princess Sun has finally come of age.

Growing up in the shadow of her mother, Eirene, has been no easy task. The legendary queen-marshal did what everyone thought impossible: expel the invaders and build Chaonia into a magnificent republic, one to be respected—and feared.

But the cutthroat ambassador corps and conniving noble houses have never ceased to scheme—and they have plans that need Sun to be removed as heir, or better yet, dead.

To survive, the princess must rely on her wits and companions: her biggest rival, her secret lover, and a dangerous prisoner of war.

Take the brilliance and cunning courage of Princess Leia—add in a dazzling futuristic setting where pop culture and propaganda are one and the same—and hold on tight:

This is the space opera you’ve been waiting for.

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


This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 22nd)

In hardcover:

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is down one spot, finishing the week at number 4.

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up two positions, ending the week at number 10.

Sarah J. Mass' A Court of Silver Flames is down three spots, finishing the week at number 13.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later maintains its position at number 1 (trade paperback).

It's a sad day. . .

Hey guys,

I haven't been very active these last few weeks. The long and the short of it is that my mom was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. In the span of a few short weeks, she went from being an hyperactive woman to basically an invalid.

My parents got the results of the biopsy today and it turns out that even with treatments, my mom only has a couple of weeks to live. Two or three months at the most.

So I want you all to do me a favor. Call you mother and tell her that you love her and that you appreciate everything she did/does for you. If she lives close by, stop by after work and do it in person. We only have one mom and she's the most precious thing in the world.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can get your hands on one of science fiction's most beloved classics, William Gibson's Neuromancer, for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus-hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace . . .

Case had been the sharpest data-thief in the business, until vengeful former employees crippled his nervous system. But now a new and very mysterious employer recruits him for a last-chance run. The target: an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister Tessier-Ashpool business clan. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case embarks on an adventure that ups the ante on an entire genre of fiction.

Hotwired to the leading edges of art and technology, Neuromancer ranks with 1984 and Brave New World as one of the century’s most potent visions of the future.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 8th)

In hardcover:

Sarah J. Mass' A Court of Silver Flames is down one spot, finishing the week at number 2.

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue maintains its position at number 6.

Karen Marie Moning's Kingdom of Shadow and Light debuts at number 12.

In paperback:

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Janny Wurts' The Cycle of Fire: The Complete Series, an omnibus comprised of Stormwarden, Keeper of the Keys, and Shadowfane, for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Now in one volume: three novels in the “epic tale mixing fantasy and SF . . . full of action, splendid scenes of magic and engaging secondary characters” (Publishers Weekly).

Stormwarden

A young girl, her brother, and a Firelord’s descendant are caught up in the rescue of the Stormwarden Anskiere—and the unbinding of the demons that could destroy all of humanity.

Keeper of the Keys

As Jaric struggles to accept his father’s heritage, Taen’s brother is possessed by the demons who use him as a pawn to hunt down and slay the Firelord’s heir.

Shadowfane

Jaric faces the Cycle of Fire that drove his father to madness, while Taen Dreamweaver is targeted by her brother and his demon overlords, psionically endowed aliens who have been revealed as mankind’s ancient conquerors.


The Future Is Yours


When the folks at Del Rey contacted me last January to ask me if I'd be interested in reading and reviewing Dan Frey's new Silicon Valley scifi techno thriller, my curiosity was piqued. The press release announced that HBO Max will produce a show titled The Future based on Frey’s novel following two best friends as they invent Silicon Valley’s Pandora’s Box: a computer that can connect to the Internet one year from now.

I discovered that The Future Is Yours interrogates how big tech algorithms quietly and insidiously shape our beliefs, opinions, and—as we saw in the Capitol a few weeks back—ultimately, our actions. In 2018, Dan found himself transfixed watching Mark Zuckerberg testify in front of Congress about the rampant misinformation circulating, unregulated, on Facebook. The biggest takeaway Dan had from those hearings was not the hubris of a Silicon Valley wunderkind, but instead the frightening ignorance of those interrogating him. So he wondered: what would it look like if a truly revolutionary sci-fi technology were dropped into the world we live in today?

Based on all that and the advance praise garnered by the book, how could I not want to at least give it a shot and see if it was as good as it sounded? And I'm sure glad I did, because I went through this novel in just two sittings!

Here's the blurb:

If you had the chance to look one year into the future, would you?

For Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry, the answer is unequivocally yes. And they’re betting everything that you’ll say yes, too. Welcome to The Future: a computer that connects to the internet one year from now, so you can see who you’ll be dating, where you’ll be working, even whether or not you’ll be alive in the year to come. By forming a startup to deliver this revolutionary technology to the world, Ben and Adhi have made their wildest, most impossible dream a reality. Once Silicon Valley outsiders, they’re now its hottest commodity.

The device can predict everything perfectly—from stock market spikes and sports scores to political scandals and corporate takeovers—allowing them to chase down success and fame while staying one step ahead of the competition. But the future their device foretells is not the bright one they imagined.

Ambition. Greed. Jealousy. And, perhaps, an apocalypse. The question is . . . can they stop it?

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the costs of innovation and asks how far you’d go to protect the ones you love—even from themselves.


As per the blurb, The Future Is Yours is an epistolary novel. Which means that it is written as a series of documents such as emails, text messages, various transcripts, newspaper articles, letters, Tweets, blog posts, etc. Given the premise, I was a bit worried about such an unusual structure. But in the end, it worked superbly and made for quick and compulsive reading. Frey's modern take on the epistolary novel shows that you can write thought-provoking science fiction that's big on concepts and ideas with this sort of unorthodox narrative structure. In many ways, it's this framework that makes the book so page-turning.

I also enjoyed how Dan Frey "dumbed down" the technology and the science at the heart of this story with Ben Boyce's presentations to potential investors. Instead of info-dumps, you get a more dymamic approach that works perfectly well with Ben's character. And although The Future Is Yours remains a techno thriller that plays with your mind, deep down it's more of an exploration of friendship and ambition between two very disparate friends.

Indeed, it's the dysfunctional relationship between these two college buddies that drives the story behind The Future Is Yours. Ben Boyce is a selfish glory hound, seeking fame and fortune, and realizing that his friend's discovery could change the world as we know it and make them richer than they can imagine. He's the face behind the product and the driving force behind the enterprise. Making him black brought absolutely nothing to the tale, however, and I wonder why the author decided to do so. Making Adhi Chaudry Indian truly added layers to the second protagonist, however. This depressive introvert genius has a hard time coping with their sudden success. And the more he glimpses into the future ahead, the more he realizes that perhaps this new technology shouldn't hit the market. There is a supporting cast and these people do have an impact on the plot, chief among them Ben's wife Leila, but these two take center stage and run the show for the better part of the novel.

Some readers may find the open ending somewhat off-putting, but I felt that it brought this story to a satisfying end. And it makes you want to reread the whole thing all over again!

The Future Is Yours is a thoughtful, compelling, and entertaining read!

The final verdict: 8.5/10

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

Follow this link to read an extract from the book.

Cover reveal and extract for Peter V. Brett's THE DESERT PRINCE


The folks at io9.com have unveiled the cover art for Peter V. Brett's forthcoming The Desert Prince. They also posted an excerpt from the novel.

Here's the blurb:

Fifteen years have passed since the end of the war with demons, creatures of darkness who have hunted the night and plagued humanity since time out of mind. The heroes of mankind’s hour of need have become legend, and those who remain struggle to escape their shadows.

Olive Paper and Darin Bales have grown up in this new peaceful world. Demons have been all but destroyed, but dangers still lurk for the children of heroes.

Olive, Princess of Hollow, has her entire life planned out by her mother, Duchess Leesha Paper: a steady march on a checklist to prepare her for succession. The more her mother writes the script, the more Olive rails against playing the parts she is assigned.

Darin faces challenges of a different kind. Though free to choose his own path, the weight of legacy hangs heavy around his shoulders. It isn’t easy being the son of the man people say saved the world. Everyone expects greatness from Darin, but the only thing he’s ever been great at is hiding.

But when Olive and Darin step across the wards one night, they learn the demons are not all gone, and those that remain hunger for revenge. Events are set in motion that only prophecy can foresee as Olive and Darin seek to find their own places in the world in time to save it again.


Follow this link to read the extract.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can download The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow's spellbinding debut--step inside and discover its magic.

Cover art and blurb for Steven Erikson's THE GOD IS NOT WILLING


The folks at Bantam Press have unveiled the new cover art for Steven Erikson's upcoming The God Is Not Willing. Can't wait to sink my teeth into this one! You can pre-order it by following these Amazon Associate links: Canada, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Many years have passed since three Teblor warriors brought carnage and chaos to the small lakeside settlement of Silver Lake. While the town has recovered, the legacy of that past horror remains, even if the Teblor tribes of the north no longer venture into the southlands. One of those three, Karsa Orlong, is now deemed to be a god, albeit an indifferent one. In truth, many new cults and religions have emerged across the Malazan world, including those who worship Coltaine, the Black-Winged God, and - popular among the Empire's soldiery - followers of the cult of Iskar Jarak, Guardian of the Dead.

A legion of Malazan marines is on the march towards Silver Lake. responding to intelligence that indicates the tribes beyond the border are stirring. The marines aren't quite sure what they're going to be facing but, while the Malazan military has evolved and these are not the marines of old, one thing hasn't changed: they'll handle whatever comes at them. Or die trying.

Meanwhile, in the high mountains, where dwell the tribes of the Teblor, a new warleader has risen. Scarred by the deeds of Karsa Orlong, he intends to confront his god, even if he has to cut a bloody path through the Malazan Empire to do it. Higher in the mountains, a new threat has emerged, and now the Teblor are running out of time.

The long feared invasion is about to begin. And this time it won't be three simple warriors. This time thousands are poised to flood the lands of the south. And in their way, a single legion of Malazan marines . . .

It seems the past is about to revisit Silver Lake, and that is never a good thing . . .


This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 1st)

In hardcover:

Sarah J. Mass' A Court of Silver Flames debuts at number 1.

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue maintains its position at number 6.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


Wow! Blast from the past! You can now download Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Forging the Darksword, first volume in the Darksword trilogy, for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

From the bestselling authors of The Rose of the Prophet and The Death Gate Cycle, the first in a majestic saga of magic, fantasy, and adventure.

In the enchanted realm of Merilon, magic is life.

Born without magical abilities and denied his birthright, Joram is left for dead. Yet he grows to manhood in a remote country village, hiding his lack of powers only through constant vigilance and ever more skillful sleight-of-hand.

Forced to kill a man in self-defense, Joram can keep his secret from the townspeople no longer: he has no magic, no life. Fleeing to the Outlands, Joram joins the outlawed Technologists, who practice the long forbidden arts of science. Here he meets the scholarly catalyst Saryon, who has been sent on a special mission to hunt down a mysterious “dead man” and instead finds himself in a battle of wits and power with a renegade warlock of the dark Duuk-tsarith caste.

Together, Joram and Saryon begin their quest toward a greater destiny—a destiny that begins with the discovery of the secret books that will enable them to overthrow the evil usurper Blachloch . . . and forge the powerful magic-absorbing Darksword.

Win a copy of C. S. Friedman's THIS VIRTUAL NIGHT


Thanks to the generosity of the author, I have a copy of C. S. Friedman's This Virtual Night up for grabs!

Here's the blurb:

Returning to the universe of New York Times Notable book This Alien Shore comes a new space opera from an acknowledged master of science fiction.

When deep-space travel altered the genes of the first interstellar colonists, Earth abandoned them. But some of the colonies survived, and a new civilization of mental and physical “Variants” has been established, centered around clusters of space stations known as the outworlds.

Now the unthinkable has happened: a suicide assault has destroyed the life support system of a major waystation. All that is known about the young men responsible is that in their last living moments they were receiving messages from an uninhabited sector of space, and were playing a virtual reality game.

Two unlikely allies have joined forces to investigate the incident: Ru Gaya, a mercenary explorer with a taste for high risk ventures, and game designer Micah Bello, who must find the parties responsible for the attack in order to clear his name. From the corridors of a derelict station lost to madness to an outlaw stronghold in the depths of uncharted space, the two now follow the trail of an enemy who can twist human minds to his purpose, and whose plans could bring about the collapse of outworld civilization.


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

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

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

Good luck to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download 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…


This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 22nd)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up one spot, finishing the week at number 6.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player Two is up one position, ending the week at number 13.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Naomi Novik's A Deadly Education for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

I decided that Orion Lake needed to die after the second time he saved my life.

Everyone loves Orion Lake. Everyone else, that is. Far as I’m concerned, he can keep his flashy combat magic to himself. I’m not joining his pack of adoring fans.

I don’t need help surviving the Scholomance, even if they do. Forget the hordes of monsters and cursed artifacts, I’m probably the most dangerous thing in the place. Just give me a chance and I’ll level mountains and kill untold millions, make myself the dark queen of the world.

At least, that’s what the world expects. Most of the other students in here would be delighted if Orion killed me like one more evil thing that’s crawled out of the drains. Sometimes I think they want me to turn into the evil witch they assume I am. The school certainly does.

But the Scholomance isn’t getting what it wants from me. And neither is Orion Lake. I may not be anyone’s idea of the shining hero, but I’m going to make it out of this place alive, and I’m not going to slaughter thousands to do it, either.

Although I’m giving serious consideration to just one.


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Robert Jackson Bennett's Foundryside for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 15th)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up three spots, finishing the week at number 7.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player Two is down five positions, ending the week at number 14.

Win a set of the Poison War novels by Sam Hawke


I'm giving away a set of the Poison War novels by Sam Hawke, compliments of the folks at Bantam Press. The prize pack includes:

- City of Lies (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Hollow Empire (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb for the first installment:

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me . . .

Only a handful of people in Silasta know Jovan’s real purpose in life. To most, he is just another son of the ruling class. The quiet, forgettable friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible heir. In reality, Jovan has been trained for most of his life to detect, concoct and withstand poisons in order to protect the ruling family.

His sister Kalina is too frail to share in their secret family duty. While other women of the city hold positions of power and responsibility, her path is full of secrets and lies – some hidden even from her own brother.

Until now, peace has reigned in Silasta for hundreds of years. But when the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army storms the gates, the so-called Bright City is completely unprepared. It falls to Jovan and Kalina to protect the heir and save their homeland – but first they must make their way through a new world of unexpected treachery, a world where the ancient spirits are rising . . . and angry.

This fabulous epic fantasy debut will appeal to readers of Joe Abercrombie and Terry Brooks, Robin Hobb and Mark Lawrence and all points in between.


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

Fairhaven Rising



Between 2017 and 2019, L. E. Modesitt, jr. released Beltur's story arc in three installments; The Mongrel Mage, Outcasts of Order, and The Mage-Fire War. And though I enjoyed the novels, there's no denying that the plot was padded with a lot of filler material. Beltur's tale and the creation of Fairhaven were worthy additions to the Recluce canon, yet I felt that it would have worked better as the habitual two-installment Recluce project.

Splitting this arc into three separate volumes probably explained why The Mongrel Mage did not stand as well on its own compared to previous entries in the Recluce saga. As expected, given that the manuscript was never meant to be split into two books, Outcasts of Order did suffer from middle book syndrome and it felt a bit incongruous compared to its predecessors.

Still, The Mage-Fire War brought this latest Recluce arc to a satisfying end. One that raised as many questions as the answers it provided. The enormous price paid for Beltur's unforgiving response in the hope to end this war and engender long-term peace to allow Haven to grow would undoubtedly have profound repercussions on the young man and those he cared for. And it was obvious that Taelya's own storyline had barely begun, with a lot more in store for her in the coming years. Back then, I wondered if she'd be the main protagonist in Modesitt's next Recluce offering. Looks like the author wasted no time writing what came next!

Here's the blurb:

Modesitt continues his bestselling Saga of Recluce with his twenty-second book in the long-running series. Fairhaven Rising follows The Mage-Fire War.

Sixteen years have passed since the mage Beltur helped to found the town of Fairhaven, and Taelya, Beltur's adopted niece, is now a white mage undercaptain in the Road Guards of Fairhaven.

Fairhaven's success under the Council has become an impediment to the ambition of several rulers, and the mages protecting the town are seen as a threat.

Taelya, a young and untried mage, will find herself at the heart of a conspiracy to destroy her home and the people she loves, and she may not be powerful enough to stop it in time.


As always, the worldbuilding is one of the most fascinating aspects of any new Recluce offering. Like many other historical figures, though his tale has yet to be told in full, Beltur has already left his own indelible mark upon the Recluce timeline. Modesitt continues to explore the relationship between Order and Chaos. As Beltur and Jessyla did more than a decade before, Taelya trains to become a battlefield healer as well as a warrior, and we learn more about Chaos, Order, and the manners in which they can both be used for healing and for fighting. Speaking of Taelya, it's evident that, like Beltur and Jessyla, she will have her own part to play as Fairhaven grows and welcomes more mages. And given the foreshadowing Modesitt provided in the previous three novels, it appears that the future may not be all that bright for the woman she'll become. It will also be interesting to see how her future storyline will shine some light on how a city founded by Black Mages will some day become a bastion held by the Whites. But Fairhaven Rising focuses on the early years of that city, as Beltur, Taelya, and every other citizen must come together to thwart a conspiracy that would see Fairhaven destroyed by outside forces which have come to envy its growth with each passing year.

Beltur was never an easy protagonist to root for. He probably always knew that the price to pay would be higher than they ever envisioned, but refused to accept that fact. In The Mage-Fire War, it dawned upon him that they would never be left alone as long as the duke of Hydlen could send troopers and wizards against them. And though it went against everything he was and believed in, Beltur had no choice but to be utterly ruthless if Fairhaven stood a chance of ever establishing itself. The ending, in particular, was as surprising as it was uncompromising. Given her difficult upbringing and the death of her father when she was just a child, Taelya, though she doesn't realize it yet, is made of stronger stuff than her uncle and shows a more unbending nature. A do-gooder at heart, the sacrifices she is forced to make in Fairhaven Rising will indubitably change her and I'm curious to see what comes next for her and Fairhaven itself. In many ways, her tale follows Beltur's footsteps, and as such may not have been as original as it could have been. With many returning familiar faces, the supporting cast is engaging, chief among them Tulya, Jessyla, Beltur, and their children, Kaeryla, Althaal, and Dorylt. There is also Gustaan, a captain of the Fairhaven Guard, and Varais, a former Westwind guard. I understand that these books are about emancipation and female empowerment, but I found Valchar and Sheralt to be petulant and lacking backbones when dealing with the Taelya and Kaeryla. They acted more like sullen teenagers than young men training for war. Then again, maturity in younger men, especially when dealing with the fairer sex, is never a given.

L. E. Modesitt's works are never fast-paced affairs and this is true for Fairhaven Rising as well. With the groundwork laid out by the last three books, the author needed less time to establish the various storylines and protagonists. But again, you then have to follow the main character as he or she must learn, experiment, and puzzle out ways to escape a number of predicaments before the endgame can take place. In that respect, this new novel followed the classic Recluce recipe that long-time fans know so well. Hence, not surprisingly, Fairhaven Rising suffers from pacing issues. And sadly, as was the case with the three Beltur installments, there was not enough material to warrant a full novel and Modesitt's latest is padded with lots of extraneous and often superfluous scenes that are totally unnecessary. There are so many scenes featuring characters currying their horses, cleaning the stables, preparing and then eating countless meals, etc. It's obvious that Fairhaven Rising is just the first chapter in Taelya's tale, but in and of itself couldn't fill an entire book.

In the end, Fairhaven Rising is far from perfect. But regardless of its shortcomings, Taelya's story arc should please most Recluce fans out there. I just wish that the novel had been more self-contained. That's four Recluce offerings in a row that don't quite live up to the standards established by past standalone titles and two-volume sequences. Here's to hoping that subsequent installments will be a return to form.

The final verdict: 7/10

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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 8th)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down two positions, ending the week at number 4.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player Two maintains its position at number 9.

Charles Soule's Star Wars: Light of the Jedi is down five positions, ending the week at number 15.

In paperback:

T. J. Klune's House in the Cerulean Sea is down one spot, finishing the week at number 11 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Patrick Rothfuss' The Slow Regard of Silent Things for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place. Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows…

In this book, Patrick Rothfuss brings us into the world of one of The Kingkiller Chronicle’s most enigmatic characters. Full of secrets and mysteries, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is the story of a broken girl trying to live in a broken world.


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Dan Simmons' excellent The Terror for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Greeted with excited critical praise, this extraordinary novel-inspired by the true story of two ice ships that disappeared in the Arctic Circle during an 1845 expedition-swells with the heart-stopping suspense and heroic adventure that have won Dan Simmons praise as “a writer who not only makes big promises but keeps them” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). THE TERROR chills readers to the core.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 1st)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up five positions, ending the week at number 2.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player Two is up two positions, ending the week at number 9.

Charles Soule's Star Wars: Light of the Jedi is down six positions, ending the week at number 10.

In paperback:

T. J. Klune's House in the Cerulean Sea debuts at number 10 (trade paperback).

The Year of the Witching


Did not finish this one. . . And it's been a long time since I haven't been able to reach the end of a book. =(

Though the novel is marketed as an adult fantasy book, it is YA through and through. I managed to reach page 220 before I had to quit. Had I known it was YA, I would never have given it a shot.

I hate it when publicists/editors mislead reviewers like this. =(

It's supposed to be The Handmaid's Tale meets The Village, but The Year of the Witching is neither. More often than not, it's a heavy-handed tale set against a backdrop of poor worldbuilding. Sort of a poor woman's version of Atwood's classic featuring black people.

I was expecting a more nuanced adult work that echoed with depth, not a black and white YA book with no shades of gray, featuring wooden characters and very little worldbuilding.

Here's the blurb:

A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.


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

In hardcover:

Charles Soule's Star Wars: Light of the Jedi is down three positions, ending the week at number 4.

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue returns at number 7.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player Two maintains its position at number 11.

Mini reviews part 2


As you know, due to depression I had no choice but to resign myself to the fact that I've fallen too far behind concerning my reviews. So much so that it became impossible for me to get back up to date and write those reviews of the books I've read in November and December.

So here are a few thoughts about each novel.

But now that 2021 is here, hopefully I'll be in a better state of mind and can resume my reviewing duties on a regular basis.

- Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic 6.5/10:

Well-written book featuring a frivolous, headstrong, and fashion-oriented protagonist with a good heart and a tendency to make dumb decisions. The author has a wonderful eye for historical details, but she focuses too much on descriptions and every last stitch of embroidery, and not enough on the tale itself. Starts particularly well, but peters out as the story progresses. The lack of a true ending felt like a cop-out.

- Joe Abercrombie's The Trouble With Peace 7.5/10:

An interesting sequel, but not as good as its predecessor. Like many readers, I felt that the revolution fell into place rather too easily. But there's no denying that the finale was thrilling and that this second installment sets the stage for what should be a great final volume.

- Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft 8/10:

A terrific read for any aspiring writer, but also for any Stephen King fan. I found the author's memories from his childhood and teenage years to be as enjoyable as the insights regarding his career. Sometimes even more so than his advice on the craft!

- Camilla Läckberg's The Girl in the Woods 7/10:

One of Scandinavian Noir's most popular authors, I had been meaning to read something from Läckberg for years. This one was a good enough thriller, but the intrigue got bogged down by those medieval curse and Syrian refugees storylines. Thrillers are supposed to be page-turners that keep you missing your bedtime or cursing the fact that you must go back to work. This one was too long and too convoluted for its own good.

- J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 7.5/10:

Another book that would have benefited from a smaller pagecount. When it's good, it's very good. Unfortunately, there are too many scenes/chapters filled with extraneous material that bring little or nothing in the greater scheme of things. And I know he's just 15 or 16, but it would be nice if Harry grew up a little and wasn't always so dense. . .

- Peter F. Hamilton's The Saints of Salvation 8/10:

Conclusion to what has been a quality space opera trilogy. Like other readers, I also had reservations regarding the neutron star people plot thread and how convenient it turned out to be. But everything about Finalstrike and all that had to do with the showdown against the Olyix was great. Hamilton left the door open for possible sequels. Whether or not he'll ever return to explore those loose ends remains to be seen. . .

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 18th)

In hardcover:

Charles Soule's Star Wars: Light of the Jedi debuts at number 1.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player Two is down seven positions, ending the week at number 11.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


Once again, you can download N. K. Jemisin's How Long 'til Black Future Month for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Three-time Hugo Award winner and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin sharply examines modern society in her first collection of short fiction.

N. K. Jemisin is one of the most powerful and acclaimed authors of our time. In the first collection of her evocative short fiction, which includes never-before-seen stories, Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.

Spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story "The City Born Great," a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis's soul.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!



You can now download R. F. Kuang's The Burning God for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The exciting end to The Poppy War trilogy, R. F. Kuang’s acclaimed, award-winning epic fantasy that combines the history of twentieth-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating, enthralling effect.

After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead.

Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation.

Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it?


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Mark Lawrence's The Girl and the Stars for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.

On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. No one survives alone.

To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is not the same.

Yaz is torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her days with, and has to carve out a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of difference and mystery and danger.

Yaz learns that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She learns that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she learns to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.

Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars.