Two years ago Sebastien de Castell took over the world by storm with his debut Greatcoats. A perfect and fresh addition to the Epic Fantasy genre, I loved every bit off it and last year he once again surprised me with the sequel to Greatcoats, Knight's Shadow which I nominated for in my Best of list. There is just something about this series that makes it such a blast to read. Sebastien de Castell knows how to create a pitch perfect setting. The characters that he has created are just amazing. With already having written two very successful books the question always always comes to mind can the success be maintained. Yes it can. Saint's Blood is the third book in this series and it adds even more awesomeness to the Greatcoats.
Falcio val Mond, King's Heart and his fellow Greatcoats Kest and Brasti have already been through a lot and they are all doing it for the same cause that of the dead king Paelis who charged every Greatcoat with a task to complete, the ultimate goal is still not known. The three have already met the Tailor who holds the threads of life and created the almost impenetrable coats that the Greatcoats still wear. In Knight's Shadow, Falcio was struck down by one of the most dangerous poisons known in all of Tristia. Saint's Blood sees Falcio still recovering from the poison but also a lot of new developments. The Dukes of Tristia are still trying to get the Realm's Protector, who is currently ruling the country in the name of the true heir from the throne in order to rule themselves with their knights. However something much bigger is happening, one day a Saint comes to the doorstep and Falcio makes a gruesome discovery, Saint Birgit has gone through hell and back, she is mutilated and much more. Saint Birgit dies after a few days. On the body of Birgit, Falcio and his friends come to a horrible discovery... that Birgit's murder is just the first one, more Saints are being murdered across Tristia and Falcio, Brasti and Kest take it onto themselves to put a halt to this. During this new quest a lot of events are set into motion.
THis snippet above is just a small recounting of the first few chapter, Sebastien de Castell keeps up ramping the pacing and action of the story one page after another. This is mainly achieved by the focus on the great set of characters. I definitely have to give it to Sebastien de Castell, his characters are a real piece of work. In the best sense possible. Over the last two books we have already seen Falcio, Brasti and Kest in full colors, their funny, dramatic, emotional and tough sides. I thought that I had seen most of it already but I was wrong. Falcio once again is a blast to read about, I really like how Sebastien de Castell writes in the first person narrative of Falcio. This somehow gives a much better connection with him. Falcio story in Saint's Blood is a emotional rollercoaster, he has plenty of funny and witty moments that we know him from already but there is somehow much more. He is beginning to understand that he isn't bulletproof anymore. Brasti's character does fall a bit more to the background but still manages to place an arrow at the right spot at the right time. Kest's character is living up to his Saint role a bit more and actually there is a mighty interesting scene at the end of the book that blew me away, brilliant stuff Sebastien!
But the best character for me in Saint's Blood was the heir to the throne the little innocent daugther of King Paelis, Aline. I loved her. In the course of a few pages she grew from still playing to the rightful ruler of the country. I loved the scene with the Tailor, I loved the scene where Brasti tought her to how to use a bow, I loved how she showed her wit. Bottemline I loved her. Even Falcio was surprised with her courage and bravado. Aline's character definitely proofs something for the future.
The general plotline of Saint's Blood is partly continuation of the bigger picture that was sketched out in the first two books but there is also a big part that stands on its own. I like how Sebastien de Castell keeps on building and building this story. Where other authors seem to run into troubled by even the second book, he just adds only good stuff in the Greatcoats series. Expanding what has been told and adding new elements to the story to keep everything exited.
The bottomline is: Read Saint's Blood. If you aren't familiar with this series yet, go read it. quickly. I nominated Greatcoats and Knight's Shadow both in the 2014 and 2015 as best of book of the year and I still stand by it. Even more so Saint's Blood also lives up to this promise. With all the cool stuff that Sebastien de Castell has shown so far I can't wait what he will show us in the conclusion of this amazing series. Make sure you read this book. ...more
Artificial Intelligence. How close are we? Orbit has been publishing ground breaking Science Fiction for a long time. For me most notable were the books of Claire North: Harry August and Touch. This year Orbit once again releases a stunning title. Speak by Louisa Hall, when I first read the synopsis I was directly caught and actually got a bit of a sense of Love Minus Eighty. One aspect that makes good and catching Science Fiction is when subjects are talked that might just happen, a second aspect is when the time frame is linked to ours, Louisa Hall takes both these aspects into account and delivers a mighty fine first appearance.
Louisa Hall kicks off her story with not one narration but five narrations all set in different timelines. The first is Stephen R. Chinn, the inventor and programmer behind the so called "babybots" who has been imprisoned and is writing his personal notes in a dairy from. The second is from Alan Turing perspective, yes the Turing who proposed the Turing test, Alan writes letter to his best friend's mother. The third is by a professor and his wife who were involved with the MARY programme. The fourth by a young women who is making the voyage across the ocean to look for pastures new and the fifth by MARY3 and a young girl who have a set of online chats.
If you look at the timelines in chronological order, it begins with the young woman Mary who travels from England to America for pastures new. Traveling by boat in the 1900s was a most dangerous journey and so does it reflect in her personal journal. She clings to what she has on board. Next up is Alan Turing's story, some might know him better then me, but he is the Alan Turing who we knew, he made the Turing test. In this story he loses the boy he loved to a disease, yes he was homosexual. In order to cope with it he writes to the boy's mother as well as pursues a scientific career and you all know where that led him. After Alan's story comes that of the professor and his wife. To be more precise, Karl and Ruth Dettman, who like Mary traveled to America for a new life, Karl and Ruth came from Nazi Germany. Karl is also a scientist and actually comes up with the first MARY1 prototype, you might already know where the name originates drom, its from a certain personal journal... Though Ruth finds connection with MARY1 there is still something missing. Ruth wants more real AI and this pushes the relation of Karl and Ruth to a breakingpoint. But it doens't work out the way that Karl planned it. Next there is Stephen who took the Mary concept even further and created the "babybots" that got him imprisoned. The brilliant mind of Stephen ruined things before he created MARY3 ("babybot"), and does even more so with the release of MARY3 as now everyone wants one to interact and let every normal personal fall to the side. Last but definitely not least there is the young girl Gaby who grew up with the pleasure of having a "babybot". Though due to the banishment of the "babybot" she finds herself in a state of disrepair, not know what to do and how to continue with life. In her story you find her interacting with a MARY3 bot with a lot of emotional feelings. A beautiful story.
If you would have to say what Speak is about in a flash it would be: dealing with consequences of addiction. Opinions of others might differ when I say this but I am of the opinion that at the heart of the story this is the essence. Of course Louisa Hall builds up her story in perfect proportions by highlighting the different narrators and telling their personal and often very emotional stories.
I have read several books that follow the same buildup as Speak and everytime when you have those multiple narrations that are also spaced in time, it takes a while to get used to them. Speak was in this way no exception, it doesn't directly make this a bad book, it is something that as a reader you have to embrace, once you manage this it's over in a heartbeat.
Once thing that I would like to emphasize is the fact that what Louisa Hall in my opinion writes about a form of addiction and once it is banned it turns into a disease of some kind, is perhaps a real thing already happening. Look at the videogame addictions. But perhaps most importantly. Look at yourself and at for example your smartphone. Have you ever forgotten to take it with you and did you feel naked? Do you have that feeling that when you hear a bleep or see the blinking light on your phone you want to know who messaged you? Read Speak with this message in the back of your mind and you will know precisely what time it is.
Speak will be one of the most talked about scifi bending book this year. Don't you dear to miss it. ...more
If there is one theme in books that I really like, it has got to be magic. There are lots of variations on it, the epic sword anOriginally posted at:
If there is one theme in books that I really like, it has got to be magic. There are lots of variations on it, the epic sword and sorcery type, the urban fantasy way and Zen Cho does it in the Regency London way. When I first heard about this book I had to think back to the movie "The Prestige". Of course there are no fairies in there and no real magic in that movie. Sorcerer to the Crown is also Zen Cho's debut, just fyi. Sorcerer to the Crown picks up with an event that shapes the magicians world of Britian. Freed slave Zacharias Whyte, an black African sorcerer travels to London with one goal in mind, to become the Sorcerer Royal. Being far from the type of sorcerer that fits into the picture of Sorcerer Royal in the regent London he is looked down upon and constantly challenged with every action he undertakes. This is far from a nice way to start your new role in that function. Besides the fact of constantly being challenged and questioned by his peers he is facing problems with the Fairy Court. The Fairy Court is the one force that controls magic. Britain is currently low on magical resources so he has to do his best to convince the Fairies to grant them acces. Acces in terms of Familiars, these little creatures help the magicians to fully unleash their powers. But no familiar has crossed the line into Britain for quite a while now. Time is becoming scarce as there is still that ungoing war with France that Zacharias has to think about. France does seem to have magical resources available. If leading a "nation" on the brink of war isn't enough, other things are happening in Britain as well. The only magic wielders of the nation are men. Women who show aptitude are put into school for Gentlewitches where they learn to simply not use their powers. Here you meet with the second character of the story Prunella Gentleman. (Don't let that last name deceive you) she is very much a women and very powerful at that. Zacharias is despised by what he witnesses in the school for Gentlewitches. So it is time to change that bit, fast, really fast. Zacharias partly saves Prunella as she mostly saves herself with her well lets call it direct attitude. She knows what she is capable of. Prunella is one of those Gentlewitches that you have to approach gently, she holds tremendous power, perhaps even more so than Zacharias. She only need to learn to control it a bit better. Prunella readily changes the game of Zacharias, not only by being a great magician in the making but by the one thing she does. One thing that no one has seen before... You can bet that what Prunella does readily changes everything.
One thing that Zen Cho does marvelously are the characters of Zacharias and Prunella, they each have perfect moments, they are quirky, extravagant and completely stubborn at the same time. The have similiar backgrounds in terms of what has happened to them, they had to battle their own demons and travel on a hard path. The way that Zacharias and Prunella acted was directly in lines with the era that the story played part in. There were some tropes that you normally see but they were acted upon very nicely. Prunella the young girl that wants to break away from the rules and do her own thing was a marvelous thing to read, she undergoes quite the transformation, lets not forget Zacharias who perhaps has an even more difficult task in it all.
The setting as I have mentioned already is just marvelous. From the first scene that Zen Cho writes right down until the last one there is something magical going on both literally and figuartively. Inspiring a solid regency period takes time. I have read half bodged attempts at it that fail. The lyrical prose of Zen Cho really did it for me.
In the last year, magic set in more historical urban filled surrounding like: House of Shattered Wings and Jonatahan Stange and Mr. Norrel (which is serialized) made a strong comeback. The competition was and is fierce but with Sorceror to the Crown Zen Cho directly sets a name for herself (and a bar). This first book in the Sorceror Royal series is an action packed, witty and humour filled book that will keep you glued to the pages from start to finish. ...more
Ferret Steinmetz surprised a lot of people earlier this year with Flex the first book in the 'Mancer series published by Angry Robot. Flex for me was a book that brought something completely refreshing to the Urban Fantasy genre. The concept of "mancy" is just sheer brilliance. Of course a concept doesn't solely make a book, it takes more and also in this field Ferret Steinmetz didn't fail to deliver. Writing a set of solid set of characters to show the concept by. One thing that I hate about series is when they take ages to show the sequel. I don't know if Angry Robot pushes it's authors but they have a good schedule, I personally hadn't expected to see the sequel this Fall, but you don't hear me complain.
The Flux picks up after the events of Flex, though sometime has passed. Aliyah, Paul's daughter has slowly grown to the age of eight years old and Paul is currently leading the anti mancer task force in New York. Everything seems to be going rather smoothly. I forgot to mention that Paul is still a bureaucromancer, he has the power of paperwork, now it might not sound very exciting but trust me it is. Already in the first few pages of the book Ferret Steinmetz readily accelerates the story to a breakneck speed, showing the goodness of Mancy. Paul and Valentine, a videogamemancer have somethings to pay and one of the best ways to do it is to make Flex. Which the strongest drug out there, and loved and more over needed by many, because it grants powers. However one power known as The King of New York doesn't fully agree with what Paul is doing. A small spoiler. Paul has been running the Mancer Task Force, their job is to catch Mancer but Paul of course does everything not to get caught himself, because you know... Anyway The King of New York finds that it is time for Paul to get caught. And the Task Force gets an anonymous tip on Paul's location. Just as when Paul and Valentine think they are done, certain things hit the fan... And thus they both have to use their Mancer powers to safe the day. It all works to a certain degree, as Aliyah, makes things slightly more difficult... Now things start to get complicated. Paul was in charge of the Task Force but well things start to get to the surface due to the King and in order to keep himself and his family safe Paul has to track down the King and get rid of him. But with the powers that the King has these things are easier said then done. A true test of powers.
i have been thinking about this a lot. This book is called The Flux and if you know the flex system of magic, you know what flux is, the negative feedback that makes you very sick and unable to do anything. If you take this into account the story makes a lot more sense. Paul has been living a steady life able to manipulate a lot of things with his bureaucromancy, but in the end things have to give... And this is comparable to the flux feedback. Quite brilliant if I say so.
Of course The Flux shines in the magic department, I wouldn't have though otherwise. The magic system that Ferret Steinmetz has developed is awesome, if you love something enough, things might happen. However just having a cool sounding magic system won't cut it, it also takes utilization. And this utilization is precisely what Ferret Steinmetz aces. You get truly drawn into the whole Mancer system and what it takes to be a Mancer. It is not only just having fun.
Seqeuels can be a tricky thing. They shouldn't stall, postpone or drag the story to a halt. Ferret Steinmetz circumvented this by creating on one hand an action packed plotline with Paul trying to get to the King of New York and on the other hand delving deeper into the characters. By letting The Flux take place a few years after Flex there is a lot of time to catch up and this is one side that is told, the other that Ferret Steinmetz shows more of some of the character relationships as well. Like how Paul and Imani think and not think alike about Aliyah. Flex already brought with it some hints but they do get fully shown in The Flux, all to my pleasure. This complicates the story in a very good way. This somewhat more emotional track gives a nice balance towards the action packed other track that is steam-waltzing through The Flux.
Just as with Flex, I can only say good things about The Flux. Storywise it is definitely one of the coolest things that I read in a long time. Ferret Steinmetz shows a lot of creativity with the whole Mancer magic system that he has divised. Delving deeper into what is takes to be a Mancer, he doesn't shy away from showing the bad and the ugly as well. I will be definitely checking out The Fix next year. If you need your fix in the meantime make sure you get the Mancer series. Good stuff I tell you. ...more
Kameron Hurley is far from a stranger in the Fantasy world. Being the bestselling author of the Bel Dame series and her most recent Epic Fantasy series the Worldbreaker series. Earlier this year I read a short story by Kameron Hurley, Elephants and Corpses which blew me away. So when I found out that Lightspeed Magazine reprinted one of her stories. What else was there left to do!
The Light Brigade definitely picks up with one of the catchiest introductions. Stating that the war has turned them into light and that light is the fastest way to travel. You have to take this last bit very literal. People have literally been turned into light making them heroes. Because aliens once took over in a more than hostile way and this was the only way to fight them. In this introduction you meet a young man who turned from being a soldier into an light hero. There is something very unique to this story, you are given a quite dire situation of Earth how it was ravaged for a long time by the aliens. But partly this isn't the focus of The Light Brigade in my opinion.
The focus for me is on the soldier that narrates the story and his personal beliefs. He was loaded up with stuff and turned into light. Without any explanation he had to learn on the go on how to handle his abilities. He questioned somethings like what truly happens when you dissolve into light particles. Do you leave something behind when you travel so fast, are there multiverses and what do you see when you are a light particle, he made some very interesting observations. However he has to throw this all overboard by his psychiatrist, well he has to participate in a program to make him forget... So he wisely learns never to mention that again. Bascially he learns a lot the hard way and this makes up for a more than interesting ending.
The Light Brigade will enlighten you guaranteed! ...more
Wow. That is all I can say. Wow. I actually made up my top 5 favorite short fiction stories for the round up post of the year earlier this week but it seems I need to do some revision...
The story of Wooden Feathers focuses on the protagonist Sarah who works at a flea market making wooden carvings. The business isn't going all that great. Her carvings are the worst of the three wood carvers present. This negativity influences her whole thinking of herself. However Sarah does have one regular customer who comes in every week to by a new duck carving. Sarah has never known his name, until her friend Rauf mentions his name. It is Jep. Eventually Sarah's curiosity takes over and she confronts Jep with starting to ask question. Mainly because Rauf told her that Jep was once a famous woodcarver himself. Maybe Jep can help her become better. Well if only. Jep only confirms that Sarah's wood carvings aren't really up to par. Sarah asks some confronting questions about Jep's personal life and ends up being invited to Jep's home. Where a whole world is about to open for Sarah. Because. Magic. The moment that Sarah steps on the porch she makes a discovery... one that will change her view for ever.
I was utterly impressed by this story. The introduction to the story started off a bit slow and I did have to get into it. but once the bit with Jep started to take of and the magical discovery that Jep has been hiding came to light it readily changed my own perception. This discovery also changed the whole scope of the story, granted there was already an undercurrent of an emotional line, but with Jep's personal story it readily changed. Added to this was the growing relation between Sarah and Jep and how Sarah's view changed.
I am going to say it. Wooden Feathers is a modern day Pinocchio story. Just Amazing.
So this author should not need an introduction. If you think he does. well. I don't know under which rock you have been hiding over the last years. Ok, I have to be honest I was late to the initial party with the Broken Empire series. From that first book that Mark Lawrence wrote, he won me over. Last year he kicked off his latest series The Red Queen War with Prince of Fools. This series focuses on a new cast but is set in the same universe. Also, The Liar's Key is the first book where there is no royal "prefix" Prince, King or Emperor in the title.
The Liar's Key picks up where Prince of Fools left us, with Jalan Kendeth and Snorri ver Snagason in the town of Trond located in the cold and freezing Northern region. During their adventures in the last book Jalan and Snorri came in to the possession of a very valuable key. Better known as Loki's Key. A key that can open any door that the bearer might wants. Snorri desperatly wants to bring back the family that he has lost, only problem is that they are currently not in the living world anymore. To get them back he has to open the door that leads to Death... Jalan though not fond of the idea of looking for said door, does accompanies Snorri and Tuttugu on the job. He is readily convinced that it might be easier to go along with them then staying in Trond with several women that he has upset... Added to this comes the fact that Snorri and Jalan are linked. Loki's key holds a tremendous amount of power, Jalan and Snorri aren't the only ones who know this fact. Other mighty players soon start to try to get their hands on the key. Thereby making the journey a lot more complicated and challenging. Jalan and his companions are just mere pawns in a much bigger came played by deadly forces. The Red Queen, Jalan's grandmother, has made enemies along the way, the Blue Lady who has sent out her own minions after Loki's Key. Luckily for Jalan (he isn't that much of a fighter) they pick up some companions along the way and Snorri is more than capable with an axe to fend foe's off. Of course the minions of Lady Blue do pose a dire threat to Jalan and his party,. But there is one more thing that might be more dangerous than all of Lady Blue's agents combined. The key itself. Just look at the name of the person who has been said to have created the key. Loki. The trickster god himself. There has to be a catch somewhere, somehow!
First off, the above summary doesn't come near to do justice to the story told in The Liar's Key. To date it is the longest book Mark Lawrence has written. Besides the direct story that you follow with Jalan and his company there are many other parts that Mark Lawrence highlights. Namely the background of Jalan. Jalan's background is explored through many different way, but mainly in dreams, well nightmares. I really liked this bit, as Jalan is quite the protagonist. I have to mention that The Liar's Key did feel more as a middle book that King of Thorns did, i am not saying that it is a bad thing at all. It really helped to get an even better grip on the story and the universe.
As I already said The Liar's Key again focuses on Jalan and Snorri. Jalan being the main protagonist and the attention seeking personality he has, makes up for the most part of the story. When you compare him to the first book, he hasn't really changed that much to be honest. He has grown up a bit but when his true nature once again comes to show he really can whine about things that he doesn't like, also he keeps true to his snide and witty remarks along the way. The humor that Jalan possesses isn't always accepted by his fellow companions which in turn leads to so funny scenes. Directly opposite Jalan's personality is that of Snorri, who doesn't fear anything, even death himself, Snorri goes in axe swinging and then asking for questions, a bit short tempered makes him an explosive character. Snorri's character was pushed a bit more into the background but you still got enough of him for a solid development. Though I wasn't expecting this since the synopsis did mention that Snorri was in search for his family. Anyway. There are also new characters that join up with Jalan, if both Jalan and Snorri aren't enough the added companions make everything even more interesting to say the least.
The Builders (not to be confused with the story of Daniel Polansky) have always intrigued me in the world of the Broken Empire and once again in The Red Queen's War. I have debated enough times about the world that Mark Lawrence envisions and I am coming to the opinion more and more that their has to be some post apocalyptic to it. In The Liar's Key there is once again a nice focus on some of the Builder aspects, what they might have done. More technological advances are being shown. I just can;t stop thinking about the wealth and possibilities of Mark Lawrence's world. Great to see things being explored bit by bit.
The Liar's Key is, just as with is predecessor Prince of Fools and the Broken Empire series, a tour de force. There are only a few authors who have really risen up in the last few years. Mark Lawrence is definitely one of them. The Liar's Key is an intricate story that shows elements of epic fantasy, science fiction and bit of horror every now and then. Mark Lawrence has set up this story very well in particular resolving some issues, giving a great background about what makes the world go round and of course reveals more about Jalan. Jorg was an amazing character, complex and dark, but Jalan is also something, he doesn't have the complexity yet of Jorg but is very well developed in other areas one of being a smartass to begin with. There were plenty of funny moments, the bankable advice was definitely one of my favorites. Once again Mark Lawrence has outdone himself. ...more
There are a few themes in book that really work wonders. Stories that focus on alternate dimensions of fiction, or that deal with librarian with supernatural powers. I read the works of Jasper Fforde, Genevieve Cogman, I started with the Bookburners led by Max Gladstone and there is plenty more. Michael R. Underwood also made the first step into this theme, though people have made this step before him, Michael R. Underwood has given the multidimensional traveling a unique twist of it's own. Added to this comes that The Shootout Solution is a novella based story, a short fast paced story.
The story of The Shootout Solution begins with Leah Tang, a stand up comedian who is down on her luck career wise. She doesn't have that much success in that world. One night when she is having a gig, someone approached her and offers her a completely new job to join the Genrenauts Foundation. Actually Michael R. Underwood kicks off the story with a decent set of action. That of Agent Mallery York who is battling some bandits. But back to Leah. She has always loved her fiction. And thus she is the best suited person for the Genrenauts. So now Leah finally has some perspectives with her new job, but also she got into more than she has bargained for. Because the Genrenauts makes sure that planet Earth stays just the way it is.
As I said, there are multiverses next to Earth. Not just any multiverses though. Genre-Multiverses. Meaning to say that for every fictional genre there is an dimension. there is one for Fantasy, Science Fiction Westerns, and so forth. When changes in these universes occur, they can affect the living on Earth. The Genrenauts are there to keep everything as is. Leah, the latest recruit is thrown headfirst in such a dealing. The Western dimension is going of balance. The bad guys seem to win ground and this has to be corrected with some new sheriffs in town!
The concept of Genrenauts is awesome. As I already said, Michael R. Underwood has competition, but his concept is new and fresh. Instead of chracters of books making a rufus, complete Genreworlds are involved. It is only further bolstered by the multiversing universe.
The story is quite a short one, just under 100 pages. This is is actually a bonus, as the concept with the Genrenauts is basically running missions. It reminded me a lot of the UF detective series from Simon R. Green. It is thus with such a concept running the missions on different multiverses that a lot is and even more is possible!
If you want to have a quick, quirky and above all fun read get The Shootout Solution. ...more
I still remember my first book by Adam Christopher. Hang Wire. Brilliant stuff. Not long after that I read his first book in the Spider Wars series, which was a deep space Science Fiction story compared to the Urban Fantasy inspired Hang Wire. Already with these two book Adam Christopher readily proved himself to be force to be reckoned with. A while back there was a short story called Brisk Money on Tor.com which introduced the concept of Made to Kill, I was sold from the start. And to my pleasure Adam Christopher decided to turn this concept into a trilogy book series!
Made to Kill focuses on Raymond Electromatic, his last name isn't there just to sound cool. Raymond Electromatic was made by the Electromatic Detective Agency and assigned to be a Private Investigator. Made meaning not becoming but literally put together piece by piece as Raymond is an robot. Over the years Raymond has gotten into a new line of work, going from PI towards a more assassin/hitman occupation. One day a pretty girl walks into Raymond's office asking for help. With her she brings a large sum of money to pay the job in advance... Raymond is partly programmed to make the most out of his jobs and there for readily accepts this job, be it with a combination of the big profit as well as a curiosity by the girl who walked into his office. Raymond sets out together with his personal assistant and super AI Ada, who helps Raymond on the job be it with hints or other remarks. The first thing that Raymon has to do is find this missing person or well gather information about him on where he might be, who is friends are etc. of course Raymond is already a seasoned veteran in this field and with the help of Ada he has a certain edge, but even they will be in for quite a challenge once the investigation starts to take of. As with any good detective, there are hints every where, some more notable than others, but if they all lead in the right direction. Well lets say that Raymond has his work cut out for him. Expect the unexpected.
One thing that must have been hard to master was the narration of the book. If you look at the perspective from which the story is being told, Raymond, first thing that comes to mind is that he is a robot. Thus he thinks and act different than how we humans would in certain situations. Adam Christopher showed this by a sort of "clunky" writing style, I really liked this bit as it gave a much better connection with the whole story, though it did took some time getting into the flow of it, since you don't encounter that on a daily basis.
This brings me directly to the uniqueness of Raymond himself. I like the guy, err. robot. Within the many different robot natures, Adam Christopher really created a unique one. part of him knows what he wants and is and he can act on himself. However there is one drawback and those are his memory tapes that only have capacity for twenty-four hours and this he has to rely on his personal assistant Ada to fill in the gaps and relate what happened the previous days. Well the relevant bit, this does make his character even more complex but Adam Christopher pulls it of in a very good way.
As with the other stories that I read by Adam Christopher I was again pleasantly surprised with the story that was shown in Made to Kill, I have to admit that I am not familiar with the writing of Chandler etc, but I can say that I readily liked the universe that Adam Christopher created in the Made to Kill, futuristic but yet steampunkish. As for the noir setting, it was nailed on the spot with Raymond being the robotic detective in a dark time, it has a cool ring to it. Unfortunately Made to Kill is a relative short story with just over 200 pages, but with being the first in a trilogy, there will be much more to enjoy. ...more
So far 2015 has been a blast with Star Wars books. Chuck Wendig's Aftermath, Kevin Hearne's Heir to the Jedi and Paul S. Kemp's Lords of the Sith just to name a few. Twilight Company is the first book by Alexander Freed, though he isn't a stranger when it comes to Star Wars as he has been involved with comic adaptations of the universe for quite a while now. Still making the transition from comics to a full length book isn't an easy one, but Alexander Freed shows that he knows what he is writing about. Star(t) to finish an amazing piece. Something completely different than either an Jedi or Sith inspired book, here you see the grunt forces, the sturdy backbone of the Rebel Alliance. Battles can be won with the strike of a lightsaber but there is much more involved in a war.
Twilight Company follows the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry unit of the Rebel Alliance. This unit goes by the name of Twilight Company. Twilight Company is led by Hazram Namir. Namir is well trained in the art and discipline of waging war. During a skirmish the Twilight Company stumbles upon something valuable, they get their hands on a valuable person. Even though with the promise of inside information the tide of battle isn't completely turned just yet. As Namir's superiors have different thoughts about the situation. Furthermore now that the Empire has lost a high person, there is only one response and that is getting it back. The story of Namir and his Twilight Company is one of lots of challenges, as they travel from different planets to fight against the Empire. Next to the adventures of Twilight Company there is an additional storyline that you follow, also with a "grunt force" not on the Rebel Alliance side though but on the Imperial side, stormtroopers to be exact. Here you follow SP-457 to be exact. To be even more exact, female stormtrooper. You see her story almost from start to finish and it is far from a rosy colored one at that. Added to the view of SP-457 also comes an Imperial story from higher up the chain. Showing that the tree is the more wind it catches.
Though this might sound as a pretty short story, it's far from it. Because the point in which Twilight Company excels is being a story about war and showing everything that is related to that point. I read one tie-in war story before from Total War. I got the same feeling I got with that book as I got with Twilight Company. War is far from pretty. As a Star Wars fan you have seen a lot of Jedi and Sith fighting each other from the sake of the universe and granted there were mass battles in the movies as well, but they feel just well two armies clashing. The strength lies in how Alexander Freed tells this particular story of war. There are a lot of bad moments, realistic moments, that hit the Twilight Company hard. I was definitely impressed by the powerful story telling of Alexander Freed. The big battles that you follow are from the battle of Hoth all the way down to Sullust. High detailed and will definitely have you look differently upon those scenes as soon as you watch the movie again.
When it comes down to characterization the focus is one a few main characters, the ones that lead the stories. Namir and SP-457. To start with Namir. Namir's character is really one you want to have leading the squad in to battle, he knows his tactics. He is the veteran you just need to lead your people through a victory. Now don't think that everyone in his squad comes away unscathed, he tries to but it is impossible. Namir's character feels like it has been through a whole lot of battles and that he has definitely seen very terrible things. This makes his character determined to always come out on top, calculating every situation in the best possible way. added to the present day story of Namir, Alexander Freed also explores the past with several cleverly placed flashback moments. As for SP-457, I really liked her part. The stormtrooper part of the Empire has always intrigued me, where do the get so many people from! Also getting a view of how it goes about int he stormtrooper ranks was an eye opener. There is a lot more happening behind the scenes.
As Twilight Company depicts scenes that we already have seen mostly on the screen, the world building isn't really a topic that you can say well Alexander Freed did a terrific job there. What I can say is about world "usage". That is what he did terrific, of course he had to keep true to some facts, but with depicting his own set of characters he had enough freedom to create a very good story on it's own and on the whole. As I already mentioned, with the gritty story and challenges that Twilight Company faces is one that puts you directly into the trenches of war and will open your eyes on how somethings went down in the lower ranks of battle.
I can only recommend this book. As other reviewers have already said before me. Twilight Company put the war in Star Wars. You can't win everything with lightsabers... ...more
I have been a big fan of Daniel Polansky ever since the Low Town series. Just about a few weeks back I read his latest short story. The Builders, simply put wow. Awesome story and once again Daniel Polansky showed what he is worth.
Earlier this week when I was looking up The Builders on the tor.com website I came across another story set in this universe. A Kippled Meal, which is written by both Daniel Polansky and Lawrence M. Schoen.
A Kippled Meal just as with The Builders picks up in an inn. This time around the Captain isn't there to get his crew back together. Instead some animals are having an in-depth discussion about food. A cat, mole, sloth, dog and prairie dog walk into a bar. They are hungry and want to eat. Though not a lot of things are on the menu... in the end the only thing that is served is meat. Though the origin of the meat is obscure it kind of tastes ok. While the various patrons are eating a discussion follows as to what makes the perfect meal. Here there patrons each have a different opinion. The opinions range from haute cuisine fine dining, to the place where you eat to the company with whom you eat and much more. The ending is a bit of a gruesome one. But if you look at it. It is all in the nature of the animal.
If you haven't read this story or The Builders yet, I kindly urge you to do so. This universe is definitely the next big thing.
Note: only a review of In the queue for worldship Munawwer
Not that long ago I watched the movie "2012". The movie that showed the events if the Mayan calendar were to be correct. When I read the title of this story and the mentioning of a Worldship I was triggered. Because it is all fine when you are on a ship headed for survival but a completely different story when you are in line for on board.
Now the events of In the Queue for the Worldship Munawwer were something different than I imagined. The Munawwer was made for evacuation of the Lebanese Republic, the actual reason for evacuation isn't really made clear. Just that it is needed. The story is not focusing on the queue per sé but more on how one person in charge of the crew of the Worldship perceives everything. Suraya Khouri-Smith retells her personal story to her commander. Saying from the beginning that she is breaching protocol and that she has kept silent for a very long time but she can't any longer.
From the beginning of the story you learn just how dire the situation is. There is limited amount of space on the ship, 900,000 souls can be saved. People who are in line risk everything to get aboard, jumping into the water and making the treacherous swim, people get on board with injuries and are send to the hospital bay and forgotten. THey haven't been open that long but are soon reaching maximum capacity and here comes a main plot into the picture. Can you really stop letting people on board? Is that a humane thing to do? Furthermore, where do you draw the line when it comes to taking personal things onboard.
In the Queue for the Worldship Munawwer is a very emotional and powerful story. I hadn't dared to imagine that it would turn out this way, saying this in the best possible way!
The Scroll of Years is one of book that I have wanted to read for a very long time. First because of the amazing cover art and promising blurb. Just Imago's description is cool. Furthermore it has been praised because of the great atmosphere. Originally Chris Willrich started of the Gaunt and Bone series with a short story, which I could find in the back of this book. This short story serves as a nice introduction to The Scroll of Years, but you don't necessarily have to read it to enjoy the it.
In Epic Fantasy there are plenty of enigmatic duo's the frequently take the lead. Well they will have to make way for Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone. The story picks up with a unfavorable encounter of Gaunt and Bone, where they have to flee for their lives. Let me first tell you what Gaunt and Bone are, they are thieves... So you can imagine that they are fleeing because of a reason. Perhaps in a "normal" situation Gaunt and Bone would have stood up for themselves but in this particular occasion that is not possible. This is because of that Gaunt is pregnant. So now in order to out run the Night Auditors that are persuing them, they decide to travel to a new place: Qiangguo. What they discover in this Eastern province does open their eyes quite a bit. Being new to the whole scene they have to quickly adapt and get their bearing in order to find a secure place, because the Nigh Auditors are hot on their tale. Luckily for Gaunt and Bone, the local populace is helpful, though in their own way. As they make unlikely allies, the chances for Gaunt and Bone are becoming better. But they still have to fend off other bandits, dragons and magicians!
I am going to be honest and say that the writing of Chris Willrich took some time to adjust to. Don't get me wrong though, the writing gives a unique flavor to the story of The Scroll of Year, it was just different than I was used too. Anyway, this did make the story a bit slow at start, but only for the start, as soon as you are into The Scroll of Years the pages will eventually fly by and you will be left sitting with a finished book in know time. The writing style fits really well with the background of the story as well as with the oriental inspired province of Qiangguo, it adds something mysterious to it.
And this brings me directly to the part that makes The Scroll of Years stand out. Which is world building. Chris Willrich has definitely created a most interesting world. I was taken from the first mention of the Way. Of course it is fully shown by the character but I will get to it. The descriptions alone of how the people work about with cultivating various crops it feel like the other side of the world. The whole oriental experience gives a truly fantastical fantasy feeling. `
Gaunt and Bone both make up for the main protagonists on the story. Though they are lovers, they do differ in some parts. Gaunt is the poet, though not overly drawn into a sterotypical poet who only talks that way. No, she thinks. Which makes her a valuable companion to Bone, who prefers to act and do stuff and ask questions when it is too late. Added to this comes the pressure of the pregnancy of Gaunt that makes up for some memorable scenes. Two other characters that make an impression are Flybait and Next-One-A-Boy, who is not quite a boy. They are from the Eastern province. It was great to see Chris Willrich use them to show what kind of riches Quangguo has to offer.
Chris Willrich hits all the right spots with this rich debut. The Scroll of Years offers an great atmosphere in the combination of an European - Eastern/Oriental crossover story. Gaunt and Bone already have knocked some other Epic Fantasy duo's from there spots in my top 10 list. With all that Chris Willrich has shown in The Scroll of Years, I think there are a lot of more adventures still to come for the poet and the never-aging thief Gaunt and Bone. ...more
A lot of things have happened over the last four episodes of Bookburners. Sal the latest addition to Team Three of the Bookburners got a lot of moneys worth. Sal went from being an NYPD cop to fighting the supernatural things that resides within books. She was dragged into this all by her brother. Who read the wrong book at the wrong time. After several successive missions Sal has gotten the hang of what it takes to be a Bookburner, several weeks have already passed and for her it is just normal.
But Sal doesn't know all the fine details yet. Father Menchu, the leader of Team Three receives an invitation for the Market Arcanum. Since Grace, Liam and Asanti have all been there before and Sal hasn't she is the designated person to accompany Menchu on this task. Now, the Market Arcanum might sound as a grand bazaar of the weird and the occult and indeed it is. It is best viewed as the Black Market of the occult. Sal makes a well placed note is saying why doesn't Team One just nuke this place? Well the answer is quite shocking, Father Menchu's reply is that they aren't sure if they can actually win... There are mightier forces than the Bookburners.
The reason that Menchu goes to the Market every year is to see how everything stands. Menchu and Sal are lucky though as there is a non-hostile code of conduct at the Market stating that you cannot attack each other. So there is some advantage in that. But well rules are there not to be broken (there would be dire consequences), but they can be circumvented, because it states that you cannot attack anyone at the Market. Do you all remember Mr. Norse? Well he is back and he means business, he wants what was taken from him and does so in a clever way. He doesn't attack Menchu and Sal right away but goes all the way to Rome. Now Sal and Menchu only have a few days to stop Mr. Norse again, but they have to use the means possible at the Market. And Rome is really at walking distance of Lichtenstein...
This episode was a blast to read. The Market Arcanum just inspired what I imagined from such a underground black market with various dangerous parties making "fan and banter" for a short time but when it is all over they continue with their dangerous games, they say a lot with a smile but on the inside it is pure business and seeing where the opposition stands. Margaret Dunlap also delves deeper into the history of Father Menchu, which for him after all this time if still difficult to talk about. Great stuff....more
I missed a lot of good short fiction during my vacation. Hold-Time Violations is definitely one of them. John Chu is well known for his short fiction stories. One of his stories even won him the Hugo Award for Short Stories back in 2014. What drew me to Hold-Time Violations was the challenging and promising synopsis. I like my science fiction with a challenge and definite thought behind it and this is precisely what John Chu delivers.
Hold-Time Violations starts of rather innocent. Ellie is on her way to visit her mother and needs to catch the train. But this is pretty much the only normal thing there is. Soon you learn that there is much more going on in the world. Because as of today nobody has tried to kill Ellie for starters. Apprently her sister Chris likes to "challenge" Ellie every now and again. The next thing that you learn about is the skunkworks that make the actual universe for what it is. Ellie herself is a skunkwork Builder, she build universes. Her sister made it apparent that there is something faulty in the current skunkworks that needs to be fixed. Ellie first has to do this before she can go to her mother. However it there is a catch. Besides the Builders of the skunkworks there are also other parties. Opposing parties, for example the Isolationist who see that the skunkworks are never wrong and if they change, aka turn faulty, it is what should have happened. And thus Ellie has to watch her step when correction said skunkwork. Danger lies at the end of each pipe.
I have to give full credits to John Chu for world building. His imagining of a world connected with pipes and other plumbing things is something I haven't read before and definitely filled up my imagination. The backdrop of the story is an emotional story about Ellie and her mother, which the ending even more so verifies.
However what left my mind in a spin was the plotline and thinking about the different parties. Ellie's mother is sick, but can be brought back to health by well tinkering with the skunkworks, what a builder like Ellie does. If you look at the Isolationists, who see every event as meant to be, I got to thinking that they actually have much more sense, because can you ethically change everything to suite your goal? Perhaps in this universe you can, but doesn't that then mean that as a Builder you play God? Can you go to far in changing the skunkworks each and every time? No wonder there are fights between them. Hold-Time Violations is a great provocative read. Make sure you read it guys.
The art of paper folding is very popular in the Asian countries but this doesn't mean that us Europeans never heard of it. I have done some basic origami before which I enjoyed a lot. you can make beautiful things with it. Just earlier this month I was asked by Midas PR if I wanted to review the upcoming book Horrorgami. Just by the cover alone I wanted to do some folding, doesn't that werewolf look sweet!
Ok so this review doesn't begin with the story picks up with.. because this isn't a fictional story. To be honest this is also the first book of it's kind that I review on the blog. Horrorgami is a book about and featuring paper art. Initially I thought it was origami (just spelled different) so I got my paper out. Well, Horrorgami is something different. This is kirigami, where you use a blade and then fold.
What you do in Horrorgami is the following. You can use the book which is made of heavy quality paper or you can buy some heavier paper +/- 200g/m2 at your local arts and crafts supplier. This will make the cutting and folding much better. I speak of experience as the first attempt of mine was made on 80 grams paper and here you easily see that it doesn't work for the best result. Next to the paper there are some other mentions that you need: a sharp blade, preferably a scalpel and a mat to cut on so you don't damage the surface underneath when you cut the paper.
After you get all these things you can start but you have to pay attention, where origami is folding, in kirigami you cut and what you cut, well it doesn't get back together anymore. Better to do it with more reservation than just go at it. But before the first art piece you get a briefing on how to use the templates. When I first read about the terms with the different planes and such it felt somewhat intimidating but trust me just read it through carefully a few times and you can do it.
Now it is time to make your first art piece! followed by the instruction are 20 hauntingly beautiful pieces. the first one is That Things under the Stairs but you also have Dracula's Castle, A Sleepy Hollow piece, the Werewold on the cover and much much more, they are graded with various difficulties from beginner level to advanced level. What I liked about each of the pieces was how Marc Hagan-Guirey came up with them, what was his motivation.
Perhaps the most important question is can you do this without any experience? Yes you can. Marc Hagan-Guirey is of course a master in his field, coming up with the blueprints. I never got past making origami flowers! Blades don't always favor me as well. Ask my girlfriend... Anyway. The blueprints actually speak for themselves, you know where to cut and where to make the different folds, I have to confess that I first made the folds in the opposite directions... but if you don't make them to sharp you can easily redo them the other way around. I also start with the werewolf scene because well... It's a werewolf!? (by the by, the one on the left isn't mine). It is one of the coolest in there. Reminded me a bit of the werewolves of World of Warcraft. Horrorgami is suited for the beginners of the beginners to the intermediate and advanced users, there are some very challenging pieces in there that I still want to tackle, uhm cut out before the end of Halloween.
Horrorgami is definitely a book that I recommend to take a look in and try some pieces out for yourself. As I mentioned the 20 pieces in there are beautifully illustrated, it is not just 4 cuts to cut out a square but there are also organic shapes in there that require much more precision than a simple straight cut. I can definitely see myself do this the whole weekend. I hope that Marc Hagan- Guirey will make a book for each occasion, one for the upcoming Christmas period? But for now I know you will definitely steal the show this Halloween if you feature some of them in your window display! Get cutting and folding guys and girls. ...more
Now besides being a puzzle book, the name Maze Detective should already say enough, there is a definite storyline that you follow across all of the 34 pages and 15 mazes that you have to figure out. Meet Pierre the Maze Detective, a short little man with a red coat and a magnifying glass ready at hand. One day he is casually reading a book and sipping some tea, but as you know bad guys never rest. One of those bad guys, Mr. X has gotten hold of a powerful artifact known as the Maze Stone which turn everything into a Maze. Luckily Pierre is a very good detective and sets out to retrieve the Maze Stone from Mr. X.
This adventure takes Pierre through many different scenarios starting with the crime scene the museum followed by the busy street and plaza, even a chase through the air and water and lets not forget the train tracks and treehouses! Every new scenario is presented with a short introduction of what Pierre has to do and what Mr. X is up to. Added to each of the scenarios are also extra objectives to find objects or other persons, giving it that extra challenge. This also adds much more difficulty to the scenarios as you first are trying to figure out the correct way, which becomes increasingly difficult, as well as trying to find all the different items, which also become much more abundant.
I really have to say that Pierre the Maze Detective is definitely a very cool and well worked concept. Everyone can and will enjoy this book. I can already see my kids, they will be occupied with this books for hours if not weeks. When I was doing the scenarios I got very competitive, I kept the score and when I lent the book friends I kept check to what they could and couldn't find, emphasis on the latter part of course!
I do have to give credits to the designers Kiro Kamigaki and IC4DESIGN for the high quality of and diversity of the mazes that they managed to create, they are beautiful. I mentioned that I loved to do Where is Waldo but there was always that moment of when I couldn't find him. I got frustrated with it, Just when you thought you had him, the pattern of his sweater was just a bit off. THey are more playful and definitely more approachable, Even if you just want to do one, you end up doing the whole book. It was just neat to follow the trail with your finger. You can do it in your mind, but it just won't be the same.
Pierre the Maze Detective is just amazing. I loved the concept from the start. This book will keep everyone from all ages occupied for ages. It's just a whole lot of fun to do. Get your copy asasp, and make a family challenge. Make sure you shield the solutions at the end though!...more
Last year Jo Fletcher Book released their first graphic novel, The Pretenders by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden. This first book was marketed as the new Buffy and in many ways it lived up to it's expectations there was also something new in it. The concept of a young girl featuring as a talksperson for ghosts to talk to their living friend and family. The Inheritance is the second book in the series and once again doesn't hesitate to throw you into a pacing story.
The Pretenders introduced us to Calexa Rose Dunhill, also better know as The Cemetery Girl. In the first book she was left for dead in the Dunhill Cemetery and uncovered some new powers that she had gotten. At the end of the first book Calexa made a new friend, that of the old women living across the streets, Lucinda. There bond has grown so much that Lucinda has invited her to come sleep in her house. But it seems that it doesn't take long for trouble to find Calexa once more. On a terrible night someone sneaks into Lucinda's home and brutally murders here, Calexa who has gotten streetsmart when she lived on her own fends of the burglar. But now Calexa is once again on her own...
Perhaps both as a blessing and a curse, the ghost of Lucinda returns and enters Calexa, there is unfinished business. Because who killed Lucinda and why? There are multiple persons that could have interest. But what is the actual motive? Calexa has to risk her own life to get to the bottom of this. And it doesn't get made any easier now that other friends that she made also have their lives hanging in the balance. I do wonder if this is all just coincidence or that there is something bigger at play here. When you look at what happens in the end you can only just think and wonder what will happen next and why Calexa was chosen and more over. With what she was injected in the first book and why she was left to die.
As for the character transformation, the beginning of Inheritance really shows a happy Calexa, she has someone to rely on and to help here. Something completely different from the beginning of the first book. I liked this Calexa and was actually shocked when I read that Lucinda got murdered. She falls back into her old pattern becoming the angsty Calexa, but she has learned and soon build up enough courage to once again approach the living that can help here. A very nice transformation.
Inheritance opens up a way full of possibilities. I am very curious to see how Calexa's story will unfold. I hope to see more of that man......more
If you haven't heard of David Barnett's stellar alternate history/steampunk series Gideon Smith then shame on you! About two years ago David Barnett started this series with Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl. I have always been a big fan of both of these themes so I was sold from the start. In the first two books David Barnett really covered a lot of ground all the way to Egypt. The title of this third book Mask of the Ripper should already say more of the location and historical event that he will tackle as well.
So after two very eventful trips it is time for Gideon and his friends to catch there breaths however that is far from what is about to happen. Mysterious deaths are happening all over London all pointing towards the same feared person who goes by the name of Jack the Ripper. We all know that guy don't we? Jack the Ripper works with the same signature, that of killing prostitutes around the Whitechapel area. But he has to be caught nonetheless. The presence of Jack the Ripper strikes fear in every inhabitant and thus strict rules are enforced. In the midst of these troubled times we Gideon Smith, Rowena Fanshawe, Aloysius Bent and Maria the Mechanical Girl all character whom we have already learned a lot about.
This time around the story is divided into more threads. Gideon Smith, the Hero of the Empire does what he learned to do best, saving the Empire. However, due to some miscalculation or bad planning he falls into the trap of a mad scientist he loses his mind. His memories get erased. He doesn't know who he is, where he is and what he is doing. Furthermore he is on his own and no one knows where Gideon went off to... He has to get his memories back and fast. Rowena Fanshawe is present at the wrong place at the wrong time and is arrested and send to prison. Facing a murder trial with all evidence pointing towards you can even break the most innocent person. And with Gideon Smith also not present it is hard to proof that Rowena didn't do it. Last and definitely not least is the story of Maria. She is the sentient automaton that Einstein created. She also has returned to England where she was hoping to live a normal life with Gideon, but now that he is lost, she starts to doubt herself. Her story is one of self discovery and confrontation.
The story of Mask of the Ripper is to be honest set differently together than the previous stories. Granted it once again is a non-stop roaring adventure, the difference for me lies in the fact that this time around the focus isn't necessarily on Gideon alone. David Barnett invests a lot of time to show off the other characters. Take for example Maria and Rowena, the highlight that David Barnett gives on their background and how they continue is just marvelous and does so much to for this book as well as for the whole of the series. Rowena's part reveals a lot of her background and I really liked how David Barnett added some CSI in the mix. Maria's part is actually very emotional. She is an automaton but fully capable of thought and memory. She has had to learn to live with herself and accepts herself for what she truly is. Here you learn to Maria has done the above and actually is the savior for a lot of people. She is far from a robot that carries out orders. The part of accepting herself, her flaws and her strengths was one of the best parts of the book, it is what makes her human. Some of her thoughts really reminded me of Pinocchio, the wooden boy who wanted to be a man.
But lets not remove Gideon out of the picture completely just yet. Though he has lost his memories and is left with no idea of who he is and where he is, he also has quite a journey to undertake. The great thing about being hypnotized to forget your memories is that sometimes by a glimpse or a confronting name/picture you can remember bit and pieces and this is precisely the thing that Gideon undergoes. Gideon befriends some shady new people, with a Tyrannosaur Rex (yes I know how cool is that!), but for the start Gideon has a hard time to tell wrong from right and I was saying multiple times. Don't, but you can't give him fault for it can you?
All in all for the thread leading characters, there is definitely a great transformation taking place. It was a very nice move of David Barnett to ground the story down in London and evolve some of the characters even more. Some people might think of such books as fillers but your wrong to think that, if you read the first two books you will definitely appreciate the time invested in Gideon and Rowena but above all Maria.
Eventhough there are multiple threads there is a singular element that resonates very strongly through the book. A dark and grim setting. Of course there is Jack the Ripper, which already casts a very dark shade over the story. But the other threads, the personal story of Maria and what Gideon undergoes are just as dark perhaps even dark. having to confront real demons and demons of there own.
From start to execution David Barnett once again writes a stellar addition to the Gideon Smith series. As I said, Mask of the Ripper is a book that gives a lot of information on the characters that you have come to love over the last two year. It is by far not a slow book, there is a very nice pacing, that accelerates and slows down where needed. Definitely a recommendation. ...more
There are a lot of book with which you will make me happy. Books themed with roguish characters are one of them. So when I came across Swords and Scoundrels, well my choice was easy. Julia Knight is best know for her romantic inspired books, of which she has written quite a few already as well as the Urban Fantasy series Rojan Dizon which she wrote under the pseudonym if Frances Knight. With the Duellist Trilogy and Swords and Scoundrel Julia Knight returns to the element of when she fell in love with fantasy, the medieval King Arthur setting.
As the titles already says, Swords and Scoundrels, the book is full of it. The story picks up with just two of those types of people with that weapon of choice. Meet Vocho and Kacha, brother and sister , who once were the best duelists in town. Well they once were the official bests duelists but they got thrown out of the Duelist Guild and are technically not duelists anymore. But they still will whoop you in any duel. Not having the steady income and other perks of the Duelist Guild they had to resort to other means of income. Vocho and Kacha have turned highwaymen. Robbing from the wealthy to sustain themselves and find a way back into the guild and civilization as they knew it. So one evening when Vocho and Kacha are robbing an carriage it all goes south. They often get tipped on what kind of wealth is in the carriage, but this time there is something extra. A magician. Powerful men and women who control arts that you don't want to mess with. The magician in question is guarding a box and this is what draws Vocho's attention. In the end Kacha and Vocho do get away with their lives, but just barely... Now the question remains of why there was an magician in the first place and why he was guarding that particular box. Now they await the hardest task, opening the box and making sense of it. Petri, a noble who was on the carriages and tasked with defending it, has to retrieve what Vocho and Kacha stole. They are old rivals and lovers so you can imagine that there is quite a pressure on both sides. Because what they all don't know is that the box contains a lot of power, not like a bomb but in a different way. So much that it could topple the current regime and bring other people to power...
When you look at the story, in many ways it is classic Epic Fantasy. Julia Knight addresses each of the elements in precisely the right way. Swordfights, kings, magic, rogueish characters, a hint of a love story and courtly intrigue. you can check all of those elements. When I started with Swords and Scoundrels the first thing that fell to note was the ease of the writing. That doesn't mean that it is a plain story though. The writing style has a nice flow to it and I found myself reading along it easily. World building wise there is a lot of exposition in the current time line. Yes the chapters somewhat alternate between the current line in which Vocho and Kacha are figuring out what is in the box with that of a past time line where you all that went wrong. This gave a grande worldbuilding feeling about not only the characters but also the city of Reyes. I really liked the alternation of the time lines, it gave so much more grip on the whole story.
As for the characters of Vocho and Kacha, they really are a pair to be honest. They are brother and sister, Vocho being the younger brother and Kacha the older sister. For me Julia Knight has described the perfect love-hate relationship that you have as brother and sister. They are rivals and Vocho due to his male hormones a bit more than Kacha will ever be. Theyboth go pretty far to show who is best in fighting, but they will always remember just what the other is capable off and perhaps do fear the other for the strengths that they have and they self lack. They have a lot of funny and humorous moments but also those of danger more than a few times. At the end of the day it becomes clear that no matter their rivalry they can fully and blindly rely on each other and this is what makes bond strong. Next to Vocho and Kacha there is another character that is placed in the middle. Petri, the noble, as I said he is charged with bringing the box back. His relation was very close to Vocho and Kacha, with Kacha a bit more than with Vocho. Every action he does he does in name of the king but with both parties drawing closer. It becomes hard to stay through to you allegiance...
Swords and Scoundrels is a fast paced and very adventurous book. And this is what I look for in Epic Fantasy, fast moving plot and a lot of fun to read. From the start I was taken into the world of Swords and Scoundrels the premise with a brother/sister duo who see eye to eye most of the times and can be very rivalry the other times works just perfectly. For me it was a great start, looking forward to the sequel! ...more
A few years back Myke Cole kicked off his Shadow Ops series with Control Point. If you read my review of it, you know that I really liked the book. The combination of the military element, worked in detail and the supernatural element of magic worked full colors. What you were introduced to was already a well established world with the SOC controlling and operating everything. When I first read the blurb of Gemini Cell I didn't know where I had to place the story, but I soon found out that this is the first in a prequel series. Telling telling the events that led up to what we read in Control Point. Oh yes!
So as I said, Gemini Cell takes place before the events of the original series. Here you see Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer in full action. He is the best of the best. Jim and his team are send on a mission where he discovers some horrible things from The Body Farm. Due to a mess up by one of his colleagues he and his other teammates just barely gets out alive. On the way back Jim gets a briefing but not a whole lot of explanation about what he witnessed aboard. He has a lot of questions, one of them why his opponents had very advanced gear. Luckily for him there is always someone waiting for him at home, his wife and Sarah and his son Patrick. But when Jim gets home, Sarah does have news for him. He has to make a decision, that of going for his family or that of going for his job. Making the final decision doesn't happen as Jim gets shot down in his own home. But sometimes the dead don't stay dead. Jim get's brought back to live. His superiors are experimenting. Experimenting with Magic... Jim finds himself back alive once more but not alone, there is someone in him, a jinn Ninip. Ninip grants Jim supernatural powers, and makes Jim an even better soldier than he was before. But let me get back to the home invasion, when Jim got shot, he also lost his wife and son who couldn't be awakened like him. He is stricken with grief and doesn't know how to place it, the funny thing is that his superiors hadn't thought that Jim was possible to cling to such memories... With everything Jim does, his thoughts in the end return to Sarah and Patrick. In the end, he uncovers the truth that of that Sarah's and Patrick's death have always been a lie... Time for revenge. With a jinn aiding Jim. Guess the military got more than it bargained for!
The storyline of Gemini Cell is different than the original series in that for starts the action is much more visceral. Granted there is plenty of action in the other books, but that is mostly focused on the uses of elemental magic and such, here Jim still relies on his weapons to give him the edge. What also felt to note was that emotion in the story. The way that Jim thinks even after his death and how Sarah acts. This latter element makes the story resonate much stronger. I don't have any experience with the army and serving in it, but I can quite imagine that the challenges that Jim and Sarah faced must be shared by many.
The part where Gemini Cell for me got it's real strength from was the emotion that Myke Cole introduced. From the start of the book you can feel it, it becomes notable strong in Jim's character and never really stops. Jim, best of the best Navy SEAL and trying to be the best husband and father that he can be. He has challenges that his SEAL training never prepared him for. I liked Jim a lot, when he get's killed and is revived with Ninip his character only becomes stronger. Naturally he doesn't know what he need to make of it, but over the course of time his starts to grow into using Ninip to his advantage. The internal conversations between Ninip and Jim were also a delight to read, they weren't always on the same page.
What is of course expected when you read a book from a writer who served in the military is the accurateness of the terminology and this what Myke Cole does really well (I trust his writing!). There is a nice glossary that I had to look up for some of the abbreviations that were often time used. I really liked the parts where Myke Cole wrote the gear description, I don't know what all the weapons were on the first, google helps a lot. I am not a gun-nut but reading about it is sure cool.
Now one other thing that I have to give Myke Cole credit for was the way that he wrote about Jim being dead and getting reviewed. Here are some things: Glycerol is pumping through Jim's body, he doesn't need to eat, he is being kept in a cold room and in order to speak Jim need to forcefully push air over his vocal cords to produce sounds. This is what I call doing that extra bit to make the story that more detailed. They are small things but it is usually those things that count.
All in all Gemini Cell is a terrific read. Myke Cole has definitely outdone himself. Gemini Cell had everything from his earlier series in terms of action but he ups the ante with writing a very personal story with Jim in the lead. My mind is still boggling about how the awakening of Jim is in relation to the SOC of Control Point, but I guess there is only one thing to do about it and that is reading Javelin Rain! ...more
Brandon Sanderson. Bam. Everyone knows that name. With every book that he writes he becomes more and more famous. But one series that will get everyone fired up must be his Mistborn series. How I devoured those books. Just amazing stuff. Though all the books that Brandon Sanderson writes fall into his big Cosmere universe they do take place in different timeframe, it is perhaps hard to believe that his Stormlight Archive is set in the same universe as Mistborn and thus also Shadows of Self. Let's leave that for a different day.
Alloy of Law kicked off the follow up on the Mistborn series, Shadows of Self is the sequel to Alloy of Law but can be read as a stand alone. Which is handy because catching up with four other books can be a burden. As I always say with stand alone books in a ongoing series, they of course give a much better reading experience with prior knowledge of the other books. But for getting new readers aboard they are very well suited.
As with Alloy of Law the focus in Shadows of Self is once again on the peculiar duo Waxillium, Wax, and Wayne. In the beginning of the book they are just as with the first book, hunting criminals in the Roughs. However soon Wax receives word that he is required in the city of Elendel. He is not just Wax but his is a Lord as well and time has come to live up to this title. For Wax this change comes well with difficulties, having lived in the Roughs he has gotten accustomed to certain things, which he now has to abandon. Wax even has to make the big move. Getting a partner. Luckily for Wax he has a second man with him, Wayne who is the guy to rely on in most cases. Soon after there arrival in Elendel Wax and Wayne find themselves cooperating with the local police forces. As an assassination has taken place and Wax and Wayne are drawn into it all and perhaps feel obliged to catch the assassin. In this task they are helped by Marasi, a local female officer who recently got promoted. As the trio, Wax, Wayne and Marasi get closer to the assassin they uncover something they hadn't dared to think about. In Wax's earlier cases he was always catching normal bad guys. a small spoiler this time around it is far from your ordinary human. Was is dealing with and ancient force, more powerful than even his twinborn powers. if you read the original trilogy you know that Gods like to dabble in certain affairs, now force or not, this is precisely what Wax, Wayne and Marasi have to face. But beating a God is difficult...
The set up of the story is precisely what you have gotten to know of Brandon Sanderson. He starts of with a bang and finishes with one. The pacing is that of a river, at time gentle but treacherous and at other times you are caught in a white water rapid. The story with Wax and Wayne is essential different than that of Vin in the original series as Wax and Wayne are two detectives and thus the story reflects this. Shadows of Self is an ungoing investigation so getting back to the river bit at times the team has to discuss and look for new clues and ways to continue. Which leads eventually to new confrontations with Allomantic and Feruchemical magic running its course, and since Wax was from the roughs there is also the occasional shootout. All this doesn't make the story JUST a detective, no far from it, because you should know the whole backdrop of Mistborn, and that makes it a pleasure to read on how the world is progressing.
World building itself is very nicely done, Shadows of Self marks an important point in an "industrial revolution", there are changes coming in modes of transportation like the first motor-powered car is making it appearance. It was very well executed when you look at the responses of many of the character. They still favor the one that they trust and can control. Horses. Wax's response was definitely one of the betters. You can slowly see more things changing along the way and this is a very strong point of the mistborn series so far, this is what trigger me at least to follow the book as well, those subtle and not so subtle changes. You never know what you will see next.
When you look at the characters they are truly memorable. Wax and Wayne have something working for them. They think in many ways the same but in a lot of different ways quite different. Which in turn leads to some great discussion and conversation or snide and witty remarks from one to the other. This humor gives the story a definite edge, but there is more going to each of Wax and Wayne their characters, they have their own flaws/demons that they have to face one day or the other and this makes roots them more to the ground as only the funny and witty detectives. Next there is Marasi who makes for a very powerful secondary character. It is by her character that we actually learn a lot of how things roll in Elendel, yes she is an advocate for the industrial revolution. I am very happy to see that this role was given to a female character as Brandon Sanderson knows how to write darn powerful female characters.
Just leave it to Brandon Sanderson to write another great addition to the Mistborn and Cosmere universe. With every book that Brandon Sanderson add to the the universe becomes that much more richer. By itself Shadows of Self offers a great point to pick up the series, but in all I think a lot of the references to other books will be missed so pick up at least Alloy of Law before reading this one. It took a while for Alloy of Law to get a sequel. Luckily the third book in this series will be published in just a few months called Bands of Mourning. I have no idea how Brandon Sanders can publish book after book with such high quality. Awesome stuff. Never a boring moment. ...more
Many a fantasy fan has been marking of the days ever since the seventh Star Wars movie was announced. I can proudly say that I am one of them. The same thing probably also counts for Chuck Wendig but I think the burden on his shoulders with having been given the task of writing the book that connects Episode VI and VII. This must have been both a sweet and sour experience, there must have been a lot of weight on his shoulder. But probably looking at Chuck Wendig's writing, he must have had the following attitude " haters gonna hate, hate, hate". For me Chuck Wendig does all the justice to the Star Wars universe. You have to accept that here are new characters coming your way. period.
So what story is being told in Aftermath? Well that of how both factions, the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire and how they are coping with the events now that Darth Vader is dead. The Galactic Empire is now without a direct leader and is coping heavily with this problem, no one really knows what to do. The Rebel Alliance has something of a similar problem, though they are tearing down statues to shows that they are liberated. Some of the Rebel people are gaining power and you know what power can do to a person... power corrupts. The main gist of the story revolves around Wedge Antilles and his capture. You might recognize his character from the film, he was in the same squadron as Luke. He also survived the attack on the Death Star. However, the tables seem to have turned. As Wedge discovers a new threat and rushes home to spread the news, he gets captured by the Imperials. And here you meet the new Imperialist Rae Sloane who tries to do her utmost to remake the Empire as it once was. Meanwhile on Akiva, old war veteran Norra Wexley desperately tries to reconnect with her son Temin, who she estranged to join the rebel alliance. Norra learns that her son has become much more than she had imagined both in a good and in a bad way. He is technologically very advanced for his age. But striking a truce after so long a time proved to be quite the task. Before Wedge got capture though, he send out an distress signal. A signal that Norra has to answer. Even just reunited, Norra again has to bring bad news which strikes Temin again with a punch. But Temin has some good sides as well, all the tech gadget he has could help him to break out Wedge.
But this isn't everything there is another storyline. That of the bounty hunter Jas Esmari who travels to Akiva to take out several targets. Though for her not everything goes as planned as well. Jas meets up with an Imperial deserter Sinjir Rath Valus. Sinjir proves to be a key person in helping Jas reach her goal. You must already be able to see that there will be quite a clash coming between all three storylines. Get ready!
As far as the characters go. Chuck Wendig uses both old and new characters and just let me be clear. There are no direct Force users that you see. And not the old characters such as Luke, Leia and Han. Get used to it. For me personally I really liked to read and figure out more on the character of Rae Sloane, she is navigating in very rough water which requires wit, smarts and a lot of guts. Luckily she has all this ready and proves to be force to be reckoned with. You don't want to have to cross her. She is the real deal. Next to her the storyline of Norra and Temin was also really catchy. Chuck Wendig painted a real motherly type with Norra. When she first meets Temin in a long time you can definitely feel the motherly caring nature emerging. Norra hurts. She regrets having to left Temin alone. I felt for her but I can't say that Temin is wrong with not accepting her in his life on the fly. What would you do? For me Chuck Wendig creates a very nice love hate relationship with these characters. Next there are Jas and Sinjir who on their own are actually quite feisty persona's.. but together lead to something much more. All in all very cool characters, both old and new.
The action that is featured in Aftermath is both full of explosions but also features the more subtler intrigue and backstabbing kind. It doesn't feature the often expected and wanted lightsaber fightings but don't let this drag your moods down. The diverse action types feature through out every of the three storylines. There isn't a dull moment to be found.
Now for the important thing does Aftermath live up to the promise as a worthy bridge between Episode VI and VII. Yes it does. Why? Because this is precisely what is need to form a bridge. This is the storyline that connects the movies. You need to deal with the aftermath of it all. You need to see how both factions are recuperating and pick up the pieces and continue to move forward. And this is precisely what Chuck Wendig does. Then why the tons of review that are negative? Well because those people want to see certain things that aren't being told by Chuck Wendig. That's why I am going to repeat. Haters gonna hate hate hate. You can be one of them or be one of the readers that will embrace the fact that changes are happening. ...more
The information given in the synopsis is not a lot to go on. The same counts from the reviews on goodreads, the thing they have in common is the mention of Redwall. This book is unfamilair with me but now I know that it is a book about animals. Now with the cover art things do start to fall into place. Welcome to Daniel Polansky's newest hit. The Builders an Dark Epic Fantasy story featuring animals, they are furry but far from the cuddly kind.
So The Builders. Meet the Captain, a mouse. He was defeated a long time ago and since then, his old company was disbanded and they all chose to try to live normal lives. But some things you just can bury, you just cannot let them go and this is precisely what the Captain is facing. He was defeated, but needs revenge and this is what he will get, no matter the cost. In order to get his revenge he needs to assemble the old gang back together. This is the introduction of the story as you get introduced to every old crew member of the Captain. Though the Captain is a mouse, his old company aren't all mouses as well, you have a badger, an owl, a salamander, a mole and much more. Each of these creatures excels in something or another, all with the same goal and ending, killing. Some of the Captain's crew aren't that delighted to see him calling on them but well. Once a killer always a killer. And thus they set out to get the Captains revenge.
I read Those Above earlier this year and was surprised by what Daniel Polansky put down, it was totally different than the Low Town series. With The Builders he once again goes into a new direction, granted it is Epic Fantasy but then again with a definite unique feeling to it. Let's call it Polanskynization. Daniel Polansky is one of those authors that does daring things in a brilliant way. His works have a distinct feeling to it. The way that the story is written is diverse. There are scenes where everything is presented in a straightforward way but when you look at the bigger picture like the framework of The Builders it is different.
Take for example the introductions. The Captain is sitting in the bar and as each of his crew members are introduced there is first a scene taking place some days prior to it. Showing the encounter between the Captain and the individual in question. Even more so it the effect that the Captain tells his company what they are going to do offscreen if this doesn't pique your interest I don't know what will.
Great story telling the ending is even more brilliant. Precisely what I would have imagined with the Captain. ...more
One of the books that blew me of my seat last year was definitely The Incorruptibles. It was one of my favorite debuts of 2014. I had never read or even heard of John Hornor Jacobs before... The strongest point of The Incorruptibles was definitely the whole world building and the two characters Fisk and Shoe at the lead. Now the wait was finally over with the release of the sequel to The Incorruptibles, Foreign Devils, which can also be read as an stand alone. This latter means that you do not necessarily need to have read book one, but why skip it?
Some time has passed between the first and second book, the precise timeframe was unclear for me. Anyway. The Vaetter are still hostile creatures but that isn't the only threat that is coming to the Ruman direction. Neighboring countries have set there eyes on invading Rume. So delegations have to be send on diplomatic missions to talk about new alliances... Here in every part of this you find one of the characters who we met in the first book. First and foremost you have Shoe and Fisk. Fisk has made some changes in his life, he has a wife Livia who he also has gotten pregnant. So a big change for him. Despite this, he and Shoe are still sent on a mission. A dangerous and very important mission there is a traitor on the loose and engineer that could cause the downfall of the Ruman Empire, it is up to Shoe and Fisk to catch this guy. With all the trouble brewing diplomatic missions are also required and because Cornelius is on the bad side of the Emperor he and his family are send to be the delegates. all this to the displeasure of Fisk of course. Because Livia is sent as well into the troubled waters, with Fisk's baby... So their roads are split.
For me Foreign Devils had a great utilization of the book in general. I liked how John Hornor Jacobs has set-up the storyline. The first part takes place with the whole party still intact, followed by the split-up. From here on the present story focuses on Fisk and Shoe and due to a clever invention, Fisk can still keep in contact with his loved one, though at a certain cost. Livia's storyline is told via the letters that Fisk receives. The somewhat alternating chapters kept a nice overall pacing in the book.
Once again the characters that really left a note were Fisk and Shoe, they are mercernaries at heart and aren't afraid to show this. Fisk is the more sensible one. Especially now that Livia is carrying his child. It was nice to see some barriers being slowly beginning to dissapear and see the more caring Fisk, who actually doesn't do the charge in guns a blazing thing anymore. Luckily there is still the counterpart of Fisk the Dvergar Shoe. Who favors that sort of action. Shoe to be honest leads the story a bit more than Fisk this time. I loved to read how well they cooperated. At some part during the story they do get separated and for a while have to rely on their own, this actually made the story that much more interesting, character learning wise.
Foreign Devils excels in the same bit that made The Incorruptibles so unique world building. Though there are similar elements that we see returning. The demons that are enslaved to do the bidding. They are in ships functioning as engines and even in guns. Yes guns. Brutal and powerful stuff I tell you. So what new things does the sequel bring? Well that of a world that is on the brink of war and with it John Hornor Jacobs lift that much more of the veil of his imagined world. The way that he does it is cleverly integrated in the storyline with the engineer that Fisk and Shoe has to find as well as what Livia has to do. Making it not seem as an infodump but more having that natural flowing feeling, great stuff.
So the verdict? Once again another winner. John Hornor Jacobs has written a worthy predescessor with Foreign Devils. It has the feeling that The Incorruptibles gave but also a lot of new stuff. Foreign Dievils can indeed be read as a stand alone, there is enough information given to enjoy the story directly but once again, why would you? John Hornor Jacobs has build an amazingly rich world with both lovable and hateable characters that is just downright awesome. Now I haven't even talked about the plotline that John Hornor Jacobs introduced with the engineer, this is so cool and creative, it's scary. Who can you still trust? Again another winner for me. John, keep up the good stuff!...more
Zombies always do well in fiction, look at Dawn of the Dead and of course the Walking Dead. They are a subject that can be used in many different ways, just a few weeks a ago Allison Littlewood wrote a blogpost on her view of zombies which you can find here. It just comes to show that despite being a short word, zombies are versatile. This is my first venture in the Zombie Apocalypse series so I can´t reference towards the earlier books.
Acapulcalypse Now begins innocent enough as it should. The mighty and rich get invited to the latest state of the art resort in Acapulco, Mexico. If you would get an invitation wouldn't you jump on to the plane right away? The resort in question is build in the shape of a big Mayan temple, but it doesn't only has the facade the interior is lined with artifacts. As the people gather to the resort is isn't without the problem that the rich face, things that don't go there way. Next to the rich that get flown, a Russian cruise ship was also invited to come along and celebrate the grande opening. Though the Russian ship is what topples everything there are notes prior to of weird things happening. A airplane crashes and the survivors aren't well alive anymore if you know what I mean. Some people at the resort do get wind of this. As I already said, when the Russian ship arrives everything chances. The walking dead escape the ship and now you might think well can they swim? No they walk on the bottom of the ocean towards the resort. A lot of the guests and residents don't want to believe it until they really get face to face with the horrifying beings. As with any zombie apocalypse, they have to fight to stay alive. But besides this normal threat it comes to show that there is more going on than the zombie invasion...
I read zombie fiction before but to be honest I have never come across such a strong introduction of things that spiral out of control fast as what Allison Littlewood did in Acapulcalypse Now. The scene with the reporter. Now this is precisely as how I would imagine it. First giving the news as is, and then the scene terrible escalating. This part had so much dynamics going on, it felt like I was watching the eight o'clock news. Allison Littlewood perfectly captures the surprise, unbelieve and horror of it.
Though this is for me one of the more prominent scenes there are plenty more like this all thorughout the story. Of course the tone of the book is dark and grim and the prospect of survival is slim to none, there are however also some funny moment hidden throughout the book, some before the plague struck and others happening after. The humor in the story isn't carried over the top but can often be seen in the small victories and little moments. This small addition of humor has a big influence on the story dynamics overall making you feel and care much more for the protagonists in question.
Talking about characters there are plenty that you follow all along the story. For me the ones that stood out were McClelland and Stacy, they were most of the times together. Stacy is the head of security for the Acapulco resort and McClelland was a survivor from the Russian ship. They make up the main movement of the story, they have similar and dissimilar personality traits that made them a great duo. Though the events in the story aren't spread over weeks and weeks, it really felt that they were growing together more and more towards the ending of the story. I guess when you are presented in such a situation it is only natural to put somethings aside and make sure you get out alive.
As I also mentioned above is that there is much more going on that just the zombie invasion. Something supernatural is happening and this gave unexpected plot twist to say the least. I think there might be some zombie purist who will say that it doesn't fit. Well I liked it, comes to show that there is more!
Allison Littlewood did a terrific terrifying job with Acapulcalypse Now. I cant compare it to the earlier books written in this series but I cant say that Allison Littlewood went above my expectations of the zombie genre currently stand for. And still that scene with the reporter. Brilliant....more
After Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap and Brian Francis Slattery it is up to Mur Lafftery to show her first addition to the Bookburners series with A Sorcerer's Apprentice.
Having survived already three deadly encounters Sal finally has the time to do some exploring, which she preferably does in Ashanti's library. Then Sal stumbles upon a crying Ashanti who has just received news that her old mentor, Father Seamus Hunter, has passed and that the funeral is to be held soon. After a lot of talk Sal finds herself with Ashanti in an airplane en route to Glasgow for the funeral of Father Seamus. But something has to be noted. Father Seamus broke some rules when he retired from the Order. He took a book along with him to examine further because on the first appearance it didn't look deadly. This book also has to be recovered. You know the Orb I talked about? That also glowed showing coordinates where Father Seamus lived, thus some extra haste is required. As soon as they land Ashanti and Sal get a lot of references towards one particular restaurant in town. A restaurant so loves that people would kill for it. The scenes that follow are indeed perhaps not perceived dangerous but over the long course of everything: gluttony is a bad trait to have.
From all the stories, A Sorcerer's Apprentice is definitely the one that has surprised me the most. The change of scene in the Thistle and Moore was very cool to see especially when to you see the threat and how Team Three handles it. There is something mortally dangerous to it, but Mur Lafftery also adds something humorous to the mix. Great balance between action, background and fun!...more
Now this is a powerful story. My interest was drawn actually by Seth Dickinson's name. I know his The Traitor has gotten a lot of praise, I also have the copy awaiting a review, in the meantime I thought to read this story. And wow, what an emotional ride.
The story picks up with both Dominga and her friend Nico having a conversation in a bar. It quickly comes to show that Nico has a lot of problems in life, mostly with himself and his self acceptance, but an issue where he lost his cat pushes him over the edge. During that conversation they drink and that seems to ease a lot of the problems of Nico, only easing it. A few days later Dominga has a terrifying experience at her work that puts her in a rough spot as well, and makes her think. In her line of work as an EMT she has come across a lot of tough experience but the swimmer does make her think. He went there with a reason. Now she is facing a burnout herself as well as the problems with Nico that are growing. Then there is this beautiful moment in the story that make you stop reading and think about your own position. Very confronting and fully through.
When people say that they want out it is often thought that they mean suicide. Well believe me that this isn't a story about suicide. Please Undo This Hurt is about the often encounter where you would wish you had made a different choice, the realisation that action that you do, even if you mean them well end up hurting people and it happens over and over again. With resulting that you just want out and stop hurting the people you love.
The confronting bit is that I think is that everyone must have felt like this one moment in their lives and thus makes this a very relatable. Again a powerful and gripping story. One of my favorite short stories of the year so far. ...more
One thing that Harry Potter hadn't dared to dream off with his wildest imagination three years ago was that he is a wizard. Harry has so far survived three very eventful years at Hogwarts but the summer holidays are quite the bore. Last year, Harry found out that his godfather Sirius Black was wrongfully convicted of a crime. He met Wormtail, one of Voldemort's followers. The ending of the third year was an all end well one, however it left some people shaken.
And thus we come to Harry's fourth year. Which begins well, eventful. Because the Quidditch world cup is to be held right in the heart of England. Just a few years ago, Harry never heard of what Quidditch was. It is the most popular sport played amongst wizards. Harry excels in riding the broom and has been names on of the best seekers Gryffindor ever had. And so, Harry together with the Weasley family, Hermione and Cedric Diggory and his father they travel to the World Cup. The match is one that will go into the history books. Not by the reason of the party who won, but more of the events that followed in the celebration. The Death Eaters, trusted followers of Lord Voldemort, have come to the location to cause mayhem and destruction. Even the Dark Mark is cast. Though Harry and the others get away unscathed, it again leaves a lot of people shaken. How close is Voldemort in getting back to his full power? Harry does have to put away this encounter as soon possible as school is about to start.
Rumors have been spreading that something big is happening at Hogwarts this year. Soon the students do get the news. The Tri-Wizard Tournament is to be held. A delegation of two other European wizarding school also made their way to Hogwarts to compete, Beauxbaton Academy of Magic and Durmstrang Institute. However due to the events that the challengers face an age restriction has been placed. Harry and his friends cannot enter as they are too young. However it wouldn't be Harry Potter is Harry didn't get drawn. So as luck would have it, Harry finds himself competing in te Tri-Wizard Tournament for Hogwarts together with Cedric Diggory from House Hufflepuff and Fleur Delacour from Beauxbaton and Victor Krum from Durmstrang. Off they go... These Champions have to compete and complete 3 different tasks that will push them to their limits. I won't spoil the tasks but let me say that one does involve dragons. In the beginning of the tournament there is a lot of talk behind Harry's back on how he managed to enter. He didn't do it himself. Since he only fourth year participating Harry has the toughest job of all. Harry does gain more praise for his work as his fellow students start to realize that for signing up for the tournament you must be a mad man... The intention of the tournament was to strengthen the bonds of of international magic. But the ending proves well strenuous, not so by the schools themselves perse, some get along others don;t but by the interference of Lord Voldemort. Yes. He. Is. Back.
I can go in quite detail describing every scene of the book but then this will be a 12 page review or some such. My favorite scenes in The Goblet of Fire were mainly the character interactions. If you look at the young wizard trio Harry, Ron and Hermione, you see them getting older every year, they are becoming teenagers. And with that they start to think differently. The love/hate relationship between Ron and Hermione is only growing stronger, take the Yule Ball for example. Granted Ron doesn't make the smoothest move, but then again Hermione doesn't make it easy on him. Something is brewing there. Other memorable moments were of course the encounter with Hagrid and Madame Maxim of Beauxbaton, but some people can't handle the truth, as well as the fights with the dragons, and the ending in the maze. What shocked me the most was the ending of the book. It's quite a big plot twist with the Crouch family and how somethings were put into motion.
What I don't understand though some of the action that were made by certain people at the end like the Dementor and Fudge with Crouch Jr. Why? Get the truth first and now he is just being an ignorant bastard (sorry) not willing to accept the truth from Dumbledore, Harry, Snape and Mcgonagall. They were their, they heard the confession, the same goes for Mad Eye Moody. There is just so much obvious evidence and witnesses. Even the follow-up on the events, it all gets covered up.
Other nags that I start to develop are comparing the books and the movies together, they are beginning to be less and less similar with stuff being made up or left out or changed to suite the flow of the film better. Which is in my opinion quite a pity. If I were you I would stick to the books.
All in all J.K. Rowling has delivered four amazing books so far. Harry definitely is a high value target for Voldemort and with Harry's narrow escape from the cemetery. Voldemort and his trusty Death Eaters will definitely be following him. Lets see if for once Harry can have a normal school year. Yeah. As if.. ...more