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

In hardcover:
 
Cavan Scott's Star Wars: The Rising Storm debuts at number 9.

Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary is down five positions, ending the week at number 13.

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down three positions, ending the week at number 14.

In paperback:

Stephen King's If It Bleeds is down one spot, finishing the week at number 14 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!



Today only, you can download Guy Gavriel Kay's incredible Under Heaven for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. This is probably Kay's best work to date, so don't miss out on this bargain!

Here's the blurb:

UNDER HEAVEN will be published in April 2010, and takes place in a world inspired by the glory and power of Tang Dynasty China in the 8th century, a world in which history and the fantastic meld into something both memorable and emotionally compelling. In the novel, Shen Tai is the son of a general who led the forces of imperial Kitai in the empire's last great war against its western enemies, twenty years before. Forty thousand men, on both sides, were slain by a remote mountain lake. General Shen Gao himself has died recently, having spoken to his son in later years about his sadness in the matter of this terrible battle.

To honour his father's memory, Tai spends two years in official mourning alone at the battle site by the blue waters of Kuala Nor. Each day he digs graves in hard ground to bury the bones of the dead. At night he can hear the ghosts moan and stir, terrifying voices of anger and lament. Sometimes he realizes that a given voice has ceased its crying, and he knows that is one he has laid to rest.

The dead by the lake are equally Kitan and their Taguran foes; there is no way to tell the bones apart, and he buries them all with honour.

It is during a routine supply visit led by a Taguran officer who has reluctantly come to befriend him that Tai learns that others, much more powerful, have taken note of his vigil. The White Jade Princess Cheng-wan, 17th daughter of the Emperor of Kitai, presents him with two hundred and fifty Sardian horses. They are being given in royal recognition of his courage and piety, and the honour he has done the dead. You gave a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly.

You gave him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor. Tai is in deep waters. He needs to get himself back to court and his own emperor, alive. Riding the first of the Sardian horses, and bringing news of the rest, he starts east towards the glittering, dangerous capital of Kitai, and the Ta-Ming Palace - and gathers his wits for a return from solitude by a mountain lake to his own forever-altered life.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (July 11th)

In hardcover:
 
Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary maintains its position at number 8.

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up two positions, ending the week at number 11.

In paperback:

Stephen King's If It Bleeds is down one spot, finishing the week at number 13 (trade paperback).

Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic debuts at number 15.

Mini Reviews

Hey there,

Though we know it's only a question of time, my mother's condition has remained stable for nearly two months. The doctors gave her two or three months to live, which means that the best case scenario had her dying the second week of June. But she's still alive and we visit her every chance we get. Sadly, I'm not reading a whole lot these days and have no choice but to resort to posting these mini reviews once again.

Thank you for your understanding. =)


- Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Canada, USA, Europe): 7.5/10

This is a fun romp of a book featuring lesbian necromancers in outer space. It's a murder mystery fantasy/scifi gonzo that is quite entertaining. But like most summer blockbuster movies, it's high on fun stuff and hilarious quotes and low on substance. I'm not sure how Gideon the Ninth garnered so many rave reviews. It's unlike anything you've ever read before and an enjoyable read, but all in all it's not a work that stays with you afterward.

Should you read it? Hell yeah! Just go into it with the right expectations.


- Scorpion by Christian Cantrell (Canada, USA, Europe): 8/10

I brought this techno thriller/murder mystery on vacation and made short work of it! Can't really say much without spoiling the entire story, but let me tell you that this is the perfect speculative fiction vacation read! It's a page-turner, so it won't last long. Better bring more reading material with you. =)

Here's the blurb:

Quinn Mitchell is a nine-to-five spy—an intelligence analyst for the CIA during the day, and a suburban wife and mother on evenings and weekends. After her young daughter is killed in a tragic accident, sending her life into a tailspin, Quinn hopes to find a new start in her latest assignment: investigating a series of bizarre international assassinations whose victims have been found with numeric codes tattooed, burned, or carved into their flesh. As Quinn follows the killer’s trail across the globe, always one body behind, she begins uncovering disturbing connections between the murders—and herself.

Every lead she tracks down in pursuit of the assassin brings Quinn one step closer to the Epoch Index, a mysterious encrypted message discovered in the archives of the Large Hadron Collider. Its origins are unknown and decrypting it is beyond even the CIA. Yet nothing else can possibly link together a slew of unsolvable murders, an enigmatic and sophisticated serial killer who always seems to be three steps ahead, a quirky young physics prodigy whose knowledge extends well beyond her years, and, underlying everything, the inescapable tragedy of Quinn’s own past. Discovering the meaning of the Epoch Index leads Quinn to a shocking twist that shatters everything she thought she knew about the past, the future, and the delicate balance of right and wrong that she must now fight to preserve.


You can read and extract from the book here.


- The Shining by Stephen King (Canada, USA, Europe): 9/10

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I also read this one during my hiking trip and it was an absolute delight to revisit this classic. For a novel written nearly 45 years ago, it has aged particularly well. Definitely worth a read, or a reread.


- Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (Canada, USA, Europe): 8.5/10

The Shining got me so excited that I decided to jump into its sequel immediately. It took a while for this one to get going. Not that reading about Dan Torrance's drunk past and difficult present life was boring, but the story only truly kicks in when Abra makes an appearance. From then on, the novel takes off and Doctor Sleep becomes a veritable page-turner. Well worth the read, especially back-to-back with its predecessor.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (July 4th)

In hardcover:
 
Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary maintains its position at number 8.

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up one position, ending the week at number 13.

In paperback:

Stephen King's If It Bleeds is down two spots, finishing the week at number 12 (trade paperback).

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

In hardcover:
 
Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary maintains its position at number 8.

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down one position, ending the week at number 14.

In paperback:

Stephen King's If It Bleeds debuts at number 10 (trade paperback).

The King Must Fall by Adrian Collins



With Grimdark Magazine’s latest anthology Kickstarter The King Must Fall motoring past the AU$40,000 mark this week, I caught up with Adrian Collins to talk about the project.

- The King Must Fall has done fantastic thus far on Kickstarter; what was the first 24 hours like for you watching the positive reception from the reading community?

After how little I slept for the month-long funding window for our last Kickstarter project, Evil is a Matter of Perspective, I told myself I’d be way more chill and well-rested this time. There’s an old military saying somewhere about no plan surviving first contact, and that pretty much applies here. That first 24hrs was utterly mental.

Watching the backer and financial counter skyrocket to 70% within the first 24hrs was unbelievable. The lettered editions were gone in a few hours. The numbered editions not too many hours after that. It was also the time period when I realised I needed to somehow find a local supplier in the UK to bring the postage cost right down (which I managed to do a few days later).

The community has been epic, driving this sort of success. Their trust, pledges, and their shout outs have gotten us into a position where we’ve just added Luke Scull to our lineup and we are less than a grand away from adding Alex Marshall as well. A special shout out goes out to the Grimdark Fiction Readers and Writers group on Facebook—as with almost everything we do, they’ve been right behind this.

- The Kickstarter is a true passion project for you. Can you tell me about your theme, "The King Must Fall," and how the idea came about?

The idea actually came from Bradley P. Beaulieu, author of The Song of the Shattered Sands series. He reached out to me one day with the tagline as the idea, I loved it and ran with it. I’ve always loved reading about the toppling of power (or the attempt at it), and I think quite often this simple scenario sits as a key part of so much in fantasy, especially grimdark fantasy, to one degree or another. In my mind there are few things so fearful to a medieval-styled populace as the unknown of a new potential leader who holds so much sway over their lives.

- What would you give as advice to someone who was going to run their own fantasy Kickstarter from your experiences with The King Must Fall and previous works?

This is a very long discussion, and I’d highly recommend checking out both the article I wrote for Booknest, Five Things I Learned from Failing at Kickstarter, and the interview I just completed with the Wizards, Warriors, and Words: A Fantasy Writing Advice Podcast.

In short, though:

Make sure you have a crystal-clear product message. If the random bloke you sit next to at the bus stop can’t look at it and within 60 seconds know EXACTLY what you’re selling, you’ve not done it right.

If you aren’t a financial controller, get one to do your financials—spreadsheeting set and variable costs is no easy feat, get someone smarter than you to do it. You do not want to run out of money mid-production.

Create a detailed marketing plan to handle the “trough of despair”, the period of slow growth between the first 48hrs and last 48hrs of your funding window. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

As a follow up to the last point, do not panic in the trough of despair. It’s an almost mathematical certainty that it’ll happen to everyone—that’s just the way these things work—but every marketing company on planet earth (it feels like) is going to try and sell you some miracle solution to this. In my experience, most of them are selling absolute crap and run for the hills as soon as you ask some of the most simple qualification questions.

Find somebody else that’s done it really well and learn from them. Ask questions. Mimic their structure and messaging. Learn from and improve upon what’s come before you.

And have fun. What’s the point of the whole thing if you’re not enjoying yourself?

- Who are some authors that you would love to work with in the future?

ALL OF THEM.

But, to name a few, P. Djelli Clark, Sarah Gailey, Garth Nix, Glen Cook, N.K Jemisin, Matthew Woodring Stover, Robin Hobb, Nnedi Okorafar, Scott Lynch, Nicholas Eames, C.S. Friedman, R.F. Kuang, Andrzej Sapkowski, Seanan McGuire, Graham McNeill, Dan Abnett, Adrian Selby, Brian McLellan …. Ahhhhhhh it’s a pretty long list.

And for a deadest hailmary pass, George R.R. Martin (maybe for an intro).

- Grimdark Magazine issues and anthologies release some of the best short stories in the Grimdark genre, but what are the three things that you and your team look for in a short piece of fiction when deciding what to feature?

While I’ve seen entire essays and huge tirades written on the topic, I’ve always kept this really simple. When I read a grimdark story, I always look for:

1) A grim story: a sense of foreboding and fear, something that weighs on you, shocks you, leaves you with your jaw on the floor or a sick feeling in your stomach.
2) A dark world: be it fantasy or fiction, I want to feel like this story is happening in an oppressive situation, or somewhere things are pretty rapidly going to hell.
3) A morally grey protagonist: this, THIS, I cannot stress enough. Grimdark is about character. It’s about the anti-hero. It’s about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons and the right thing for the wrong reasons. It’s about perspective and seeing the world from somebody’s you normally wouldn’t on an ethical level (versus on a not-having-magic-powers or being-the-best-swordsperson-who-ever-lived level).

If this Kickstarter hits the AU$62,000 level, we’ll open up a full-paid slot for authors to submit to an open window, and I hope they read this post before doing so!

- I know that you are an individual who has worn many hats. You have been a reviewer, site creator, editor, and Kickstarter. What is something that you have learned from each position that you would have never guessed going into it?

I’ve done a bit of everything at GdM, but I think the key learning I’ve had is about how you treat people both in your volunteer teams and the marketplace. Just don’t be a bag of sweaty dicks. It’s literally that simple. Try to do right by your team and your community and they’ll look after you. Deliver on your commitments. Help people when they are in a tough spot if you can. Do right by them, and they’ll back you and look after you. The publishing and reading community is one of the best communities out there and I’m grateful to be a part of it.

- What blogs/ reviewers are your go to sites for Grimdark book reviews?

Apart from this one you mean!!!???

I’d say Tor.com is the gold standard for any sort of reviews or commentary, Booknest.eu, Beforewegoblog.com, Black Gate, The Fantasy Hive, Fantasy Book Critic, SFF World, Novel Notions, and The Fantasy Inn are the key ones I’d look at. I’d never say they are niche grimdark reviewers like we are, but they do review a lot of the stuff I like to read.

Thanks for dropping by, Adrian.

No worries. I love a good chin wag!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Nnedi Okorafor Who Fears Death for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link..

Here's the blurb:

Now optioned as a TV series for HBO, with executive producer George R. R. Martin!

An award-winning literary author enters the world of magical realism with her World Fantasy Award-winning novel of a remarkable woman in post-apocalyptic Africa.

In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her Onyesonwu, which means "Who fears death?" in an ancient language.

It doesn't take long for Onye to understand that she is physically and socially marked by the circumstances of her conception. She is Ewu—a child of rape who is expected to live a life of violence, a half-breed rejected by her community. But Onye is not the average Ewu. Even as a child, she manifests the beginnings of a remarkable and unique magic. As she grows, so do her abilities, and during an inadvertent visit to the spirit realm, she learns something terrifying: someone powerful is trying to kill her.

Desperate to elude her would-be murderer and to understand her own nature, she embarks on a journey in which she grapples with nature, tradition, history, true love, and the spiritual mysteries of her culture, and ultimately learns why she was given the name she bears: Who Fears Death.

C. S. Friedman contest winner!

Thanks to the generosity of the author, this lucky winner will get his hands on copies of C. S. Friedman's latest, This Virtual Night (Canada, USA, Europe), as well as its predecessor, This Alien Shore.

The winner is:

Richard Slobod, from Tuxedo, New York, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

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

In hardcover:
 
V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue maintains its position at number 13.

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

In hardcover:
 
V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down two positions, ending the week at number 13.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Susanna Clarke's Piranesi for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an intoxicating, hypnotic new novel set in a dreamlike alternative reality.

Piranesi's house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller's Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.


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

In hardcover:
 
V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up one position, ending the week at number 11.

The Desert Prince


I'm quite behind on Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle series and I have no excuses to account for that sad state of affairs. So when I was asked if I'd like an early read of his forthcoming The Desert Prince, I knew I couldn't say no. Especially given the fact that the novel is supposedly a good starting point for new readers to jump in.

In retrospect, Brett's latest work shares a lot of similarities with his debut, The Warded Man. As such, it is an introduction to what appears to be a much bigger and multilayered story arc. Time will tell if this new trilogy will manage to live up to the potential generated by the Demon Cycle. This is not readily apparent based on this first installment, but little did people know that the author's first series would reach such heights.

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.


So is this the perfect opportunity for new readers to jump in? Well, yes and no. A lot of efforts were made to make sure readers unfamiliar with the original series would understand what's going on. Other than missing out on certain nuances, The Desert Prince stands very well on its own. It does spoil the Demon Cycle rather thoroughly, however. For someone like me, who had yet to read the whole thing, it made me realize how much I have missed. And how I can't really go back and enjoy these books as much as I should have. Hence, it's up to you to decide whether or not you want to begin with Brett's newest offering, or go back and start with his international bestselling sequence beforehand.

Long-time fans will relish the opportunity to return to Brett's universe and get reacquainted with characters from the first series and be introduced to their offspring and new faces. I was surprised how similar in style and tone The Desert Prince was compared to The Warded Man. Both are character-driven novels, first and foremost. Which means that the worldbuilding essentially remains in the background throughout most of the tale. In that regard, fans who have read the Demon Cycle might get a bit more out of the story than newbies. As I mentioned, this book is an introduction meant to set the stage for what comes next and readers get few answers to the many questions that come to mind as one reads on. For the most part, I felt that Brett lays the groundwork for a lot of things to come. But like the protagonists, until the end we are left in the dark regarding most of what goes on. The story is never dull, mind you. It just makes you want to read the sequel ASAP.

In style and tone, The Desert Prince is YA through and through. So much so that I contacted Brett to see if this was a YA series. Way back when in 2008, during our first interview, the author addressed the "dreaded" YA moniker in regards to his work. He understood how his writing style, along with the fact that the early parts of The Warded Man dealt with the protagonists’ childhoods, could make the book appear to be meant for a younger audience. But his target readers were always adults. The author felt that he dealt frankly with a lot of harsh adult themes and topics, and tried to engage the reader directly with them. He showcased characters in their childhoods to let the reader share the pivotal moments of their lives that shape their characters and adult motivations, not as an attempt to market to young readers. Brett told me that it was the same with his latest work. He and his publishers are treating it as adult fiction and it will be interesting to see what the upcoming installments will bring in terms of character growth and maturity. God knows the Demon Cycle was no YA series by any stretch of the imagination. Having said that, The Desert Prince doesn't really show any signs that its sequels will veer toward adult fiction. Indeed, it's chock-full of teenage angst, black-and-white views, and often dumb decisions. You may or may not find that off-putting. Your mileage will vary in that regard and will likely influence how much you like/dislike this book.

First-person narratives are always tricky. It can be even trickier to capture the imagination of adult readers and suck them into your tale when your main protagonists are all teenagers. We witness events through the perspectives of two characters: Olive Paper and Darin Bales. Both are well-drawn and three-dimensional, and I felt that there was a good balance between the two POVs. I understand that there was no way to dodge the bullet and we had to go through the feeling of the "ugh-I'm-so-misunderstood-what-is-life?" part of adolescence with both protagonists. But I must admit that it grated on my nerves from time to time. I would have liked to have a third point of view, an adult perspective, to help dilute all that teenage angst. Thankfully, the supporting cast comprised of old and new characters helps with that. I just wish one of them could have had his or her own POV. Micha's especially, who was a personal favorite of mine. 

Kudos to Peter V. Brett for taking one hell of a chance with one of the protagonists. This is something I would have expected from someone like Jacqueline Carey, who is no stranger to such things. Brett did something that will take certain readers far out of their comfort zone and it remains to be seen how this will be received by his fans. When asked about it, Brett explained that sensitivity reads made him feel that he handled it rather well and that as an author it's his job to take readers out of their comfort zone. Time will tell if that's the case or not. I don't want to spoil this and I hope no advance reviews will do so. But I'm curious to see how readers will react and how it will affect the story in the subsequent volumes. Because it's kind of a big deal. . . A very big deal, actually!

The YA tone ensures that the language will not shock virgin ears. Indeed, The Desert Prince would receive the Brandon Sanderson seal of approval. I mean, I swear more and let fly more expletives when I bang my toe on something than what you get in the 600+ pages of this novel. In terms of action, Peter V. Brett can give Sanderson and Salvatore a run for their money and his latest is full of choreographed battle scenes.

The pace can be quite uneven, especially in the early portions of the book. But once it gets rolling, there's no denying that The Desert Prince maintains a good rhythm from here on out. The finale and the ending, in particular, are thrilling. Revelations come late, alas, but they do leave the door open for what should be an interesting set of sequels. Hopefully, as was the case with the Demon Cycle, character growth and maturity will make our protagonists easier to root for.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (May 30th)

In hardcover:
 
V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue maintains its position at number 12.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is down seven positions, ending the week at number 12 (trade paperback).

This week's New York times Bestsellers (May 23rd)

In hardcover:
 
V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down three positions, ending the week at number 12.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is down two positions, ending the week at number 5 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


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

Here's the blurb:

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

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

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

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

And they're not the only ones.

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


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download The Dreaming Kind: Short Stories and Fantasies, a new collection of short fiction by C. S. Friedman, for only 2.99$ by following these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Acclaimed Science Fiction and Fantasy author C. S. Friedman invites you to take eight journeys into the deliciously disturbing worlds of her imagination.

A bank clerk struggles to deal with malware inside his head…A woman is required by law to let her dying mother take over her body…A writer meets the man of her dreams (or perhaps her nightmares)…A time traveler seeks scalped tickets to the Sermon on the Mount…A telepath must abandon her humanity to negotiate with alien predators…A visiting extraterrestrial chooses a down-and-out junkie for its first human contact…

From humorous to dark, witty to lyrical, these stories showcase the versatile talent of one of the genre’s most creative writers. If you're not already a fan of C. S. Friedman, you soon will be. And if you're already a fan, you'll enjoy reading these rarely-seen shorter works.


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of R. F. Kuang's The Dragon Republic for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Rin’s story continues in this acclaimed sequel to The Poppy War—an epic fantasy combining the history of twentieth-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters.

The war is over.

The war has just begun.

Three times throughout its history, Nikan has fought for its survival in the bloody Poppy Wars. Though the third battle has just ended, shaman and warrior Rin cannot forget the atrocity she committed to save her people. Now she is on the run from her guilt, the opium addiction that holds her like a vice, and the murderous commands of the fiery Phoenix—the vengeful god who has blessed Rin with her fearsome power.

Though she does not want to live, she refuses to die until she avenges the traitorous Empress who betrayed Rin’s homeland to its enemies. Her only hope is to join forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who plots to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new republic.

But neither the Empress nor the Dragon Warlord are what they seem. The more Rin witnesses, the more she fears her love for Nikan will force her to use the Phoenix’s deadly power once more.

Because there is nothing Rin won’t sacrifice to save her country . . . and exact her vengeance.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (May 16th)

In hardcover:
 
V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down one position, ending the week at number 9.

Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good debuts at number 10.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is down two spots, finishing the week at number 13.

Martha Wells' Fugitive Telemetry debuts at number 14.

In paperback:

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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (May 9th)

In hardcover:

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

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

In paperback:

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can download Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne–or his life.

Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor is an exciting fantasy novel, set against the pageantry and color of a fascinating, unique world, is a memorable debut for a great new talent.

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.