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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's Billy Summers is down two positions, ending the week at number 5.

Joe Abercrombie's The Wisdom of Crowds debuts at number 15.

Dune, part 1


Finally saw Dune last night.

As expected from Villeneuve, it's visually stunning. Also expected, there are pacing issues throughout the movie. Basically every scene is overdone and lasts longer than it should, which makes it hard for the film to maintain any sort of rhythm.

The movie should never have been split in two installments. For something that lasts 155 minutes, not a whole lot actually happens. They might come to regret that decision.

Is it good? Hell yeah! 😃 Is it great? Not even close.

Actor performances are solid throughout and of course I'll be watching the second part as soon as it's released.

As was the case with his version of Bladerunner, I'm afraid that mainstream audiences might find Villeneuve's adaptation of Dune to be overlong and boring at times.

With authors, we talk about mental masturbation when they go on and on and it brings nothing to the plot. With director like Villeneuve, we should call this visual masturbation. The ship is about to crash into the sand. The sequence should last like 30 seconds. It lasts 4 minutes. 😕 Countless scenes are like that.

Should you see it? Hell yeah! 😃 Just don't expect the best thing since sliced bread. If you've seen any of Denis Villeneuve's movies, you should know what to expect by now.

I'm just glad it's finally out.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn: The Final Empire for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, the Mistborn series is a heist story of political intrigue and magical, martial-arts action.

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the "Sliver of Infinity," reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler's most hellish prison. Kelsier "snapped" and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Kelsier recruited the underworld's elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.

But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel's plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she's a half-Skaa orphan, but she's lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

This saga dares to ask a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails?


You can also download John Scalzi's Old Man's War for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-and aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place.

So: we fight. To defend Earth (a target for our new enemies, should we let them get close enough) and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has gone on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force, which shields the home planet from too much knowledge of the situation. What's known to everybody is that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve your time at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine-and what he will become is far stranger.

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


Finally, you can download the excellent The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021), edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, for around 6.99$ by following these Amazon Associates links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021) is a reprint anthology and the first ever Year’s Best African speculative fiction anthology, edited by Oghenchovwe Donald Ekpeki. It contains speculative fiction stories by some of the most exciting voices, old and new, from Africa and the diaspora, published in the 2020 year. It features twenty-nine stories, by twenty-five writers.

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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's Billy Summers is down one position, ending the week at number 3.

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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's Billy Summers maintains its position at number 2.

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

V. E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue maintains its position at number 14.

Mini Reviews

Hey guys,

My mom finally passed away a couple of weeks ago. As sad as it is for our family, the time had come and it's better this way.

Understandably, I haven't had time to read a whole lot and must resort to mini reviews once more.


- Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Canada, USA, Europe)

DNF at 80%.

I so really wanted to like this novel. I felt that its predecessor, David Mogo, Godhunter, featured lots of cool ideas and concepts, and I was looking forward to Suyi Davies Okungbowa's new series with Orbit.

But Son of the Storm is a slog. The characterization, especially, leaves a lot to be desired. Too YA, too black and white, with no shades of gray to speak of.

I persevered, hoping to at least finish the book. But in the end, I simply couldn't do it. =(




- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (Canada, USA, Europe) 8.5/10

As a matter of course, I read this novel back in the day. I picked up a copy at a hostel's book exchange a few years back, planning to reread it and see if this classic had aged well.

I brought it with me on a hiking trip last month and went through it in no time. God knows that a lot of science fiction doesn't age well at all. But Card's debut is still as good today as it was back in the 80s. Probably because it's a story about kids and how they develop and not about science and technology. The only thing that is at time obsolete is the language, what with the fart-face and other fart-something insults.

Say what you will about Card, Ender's Game remains a terrific novel!


- The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021), edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Canada, USA, Europe) 8.5/10

This is a follow-up to last year's Dominion, the first anthology of speculative fiction and poetry by Africans and the African Diaspora. You may recall that I absolutely loved that anthology, so I was really looking forward to discovering what the 2021 collection would look like.

Now that I went through it, I can tell you that The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021) is as good as its predecessor. If anything, it might even be a little better!

Once again this year, Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald compiled short fiction tales that cover the length and breadth of everything that falls under the speculative fiction umbrella. As was the case with Dominion, such a convergence of genres and subgenres makes for captivating reading. Though most of the pieces are not culturally familiar in style, tone, or context to Western SFF readers, they all have something that can appeal to a broader audience. I was a bit surprised that this anthology contained a couple of pieces that were found in its predecessor. Though they're good, I'm not sure why they were included instead of original short stories.

If you only read one SFF anthology this year, make it this one! =)




- Isolate by L. E. Modesitt, jr. (Canada, USA, Europe) 6/10

When I was invited to read Modesitt's first installment in a brand new gaslamp political fantasy series, I knew I couldn't say no!

Here's the blurb:

Industrialization. Social unrest. Underground movements. Government corruption and surveillance.

Something is about to give.

Steffan Dekkard is an isolate, one of the small percentage of people who are immune to the projections of empaths. As an isolate, he has been trained as a security specialist and he and his security partner Avraal Ysella, a highly trained empath are employed by Axel Obreduur, a senior Craft Minister and the de facto political strategist of his party.

When a respected Landor Councilor dies of “heart failure” at a social event, because of his political friendship with Obreduur, Dekkard and Ysella find that not only is their employer a target, but so are they, in a covert and deadly struggle for control of the government and economy.

Steffan is about to understand that everything he believed is an illusion.


The blurb totally hooked me and I was intrigued by the Victorian setting.

Problem is, I don't think there was enough material to warrant a full novel here. Isolate features a political tale and a love story, both of which struggling to get out. Unfortunately, the bulk of the book focuses on the excruciating minutia of Steffan's day-to-day life, from what he has for breakfast every morning, to his reading petitions and answering letters, to what he does before going to bed at night. God knows that Modesitt isn't known for his fast pace, but Isolate makes the Recluce volumes feel like balls-to-the-wall affairs. And there's only so much every day minor detail one can take. Of the 608 pages, there can't be more than 200 pages that have to do with the story itself.

As a big Modesitt fan, you should know that rhythm is seldom an issue with me. I'm used to the pace of his novels and I can live with the slow-moving sections of his books. But it felt as though Isolate was the introduction to a multilayered tale that was then padded with a vast amount of extraneous and repetitive material to make it a novel. When, in truth, it should have been the first portion of book and not a novel-length project, in and of itself.

Unless you already are a Modesitt fan, I doubt that you'll want to wade through Isolate. Which is too bad, because there's a lot of good stuff in there. It's just buried deeply underneath a ton of superfluous details that bring little or nothing to the story. . .

You can read an extract here.

The Wheel of Time: Winespring Inn scene



You recall that I wasn't impressed by the trailer. Well, after seeing one of the opening scenes, I'm even more underwhelmed. . . =(

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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's Billy Summers is down one position, ending the week at number 2.

V. E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down two spots, finishing the week at number 14.

Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary returns at number 15.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can download Stephen King's It for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There isa price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Stephen King’s terrifying, classic #1 New York Times bestseller, “a landmark in American literature” (Chicago Sun-Times)—about seven adults who return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they had first stumbled on as teenagers…an evil without a name: It.

Welcome to Derry, Maine. It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real.

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that terrifying summer return as they prepare to once again battle the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers.

Readers of Stephen King know that Derry, Maine, is a place with a deep, dark hold on the author. It reappears in many of his books, including Bag of Bones, Hearts in Atlantis, and 11/22/63. But it all starts with It.

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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's Billy Summers maintains its position at number 1.

V. E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down four spots, finishing the week at number 11.

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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's Billy Summers maintains its position at number 1.

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

Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary returns at number 14.

Win an Advance Reading Copy of Terry Brooks' CHILD OF LIGHT


Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Del Rey, I have two advance reading copies of Terry Brooks' forthcoming Child of Light. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

At nineteen, Auris Afton Grieg has led an . . . unusual life. Since the age of fifteen, she has been trapped in a sinister prison. Why? She does not know. She has no memories of her past beyond the vaguest of impressions. All she knows is that she is about to age out of the children’s prison, and rumors say that the adult version is far, far worse. So she and some friends stage a desperate escape into the surrounding wastelands. And it is here that Auris’s journey of discovery begins, for she is rescued by an unusual stranger who claims to be Fae—a member of a magical race that Auris had thought to be no more than legend. Odder still, he seems to think that she is one as well, although the two look nothing alike. But strangest of all, when he brings her to his wondrous homeland, she begins to suspect that he is right. Yet how could a woman who looks entirely human be a magical being herself?

Told with a fresh, energetic voice, this fantasy puzzle box is perfect for fans of Terry Brooks and new readers alike, as one young woman slowly unlocks truths about herself and her world—and, in doing so, begins to heal both.


The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "CHILD." 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 download Susanna Clarke's Piranesi for only 1.99$ 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 and 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.


R. A. Salvatore contest winner!

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Harper Voyager, this lucky winner will receive a copy of R. A. Salvatore's Starlight Enclave. For more info about this title, check out these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

Bill Philpot, from Cottage Grove, Oregon, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

Dune Sketchbook Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer



If you need some background music to brighten your day. . . =)

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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's Billy Summers debuts at number 1.

The Wheel of Time: Official Trailer



After waiting for so long, I have to admit that I'm underwhelmed by this lackluster trailer. Definitely getting Shannara Chronicles vibes here. . . =(

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

In hardcover:
 
Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary is up six positions, ending the week at number 9.

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue returns at number 14.

In paperback:

Stephen King's If It Bleeds returns at number 15 (trade paperback).