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INTERVIEWS

Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops Series

John Brown John, translator of the Zamonia Novels

Jim C. Hines author of Libriomancer

Nick Harkaway author of Angelmaker (review here)

Martha Wells author of The Cloud Roads

David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

Mazarkis Williams author of The Emperor's Knife

Rob Ziegler author of Seed

Steven Gould author of 7th Sigma

Douglas Hulick author of Among Thieves (review here)

Mark Charan Newton author of Nights of Villjamur (review here)

Kameron Hurley author of God's War (review here)

Brent Weeks author of The Black Prism (review here)

Anthony Huso author of The Last Page (review here)

Brandon Sanderson author of The Way of Kings (review here)

Lou Anders Editor of Pyr Books

Ian Tregillis author of Bitter Seeds (review here)

Sam Sykes author of Tome of the Undergates (review here)

Benjamin Parzybok author of Couch (review here)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch author of Diving Into the Wreck (review here)

Ken Scholes author of Lamentation

Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker (review here)

Lev Grossman author of The Magicians (review here)

Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded

RECENT REVIEWS

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Year Zero by Rob Reid

Alif: The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Control Point by Myke Cole

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
My BlogCatalog BlogRank Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature

REVIEW | The Map of Moments by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon (Spectra)

I decided to pick The Map of Moments up for a few reasons. Firstly, I read Golden's The Veil Trilogy starting with The Myth Hunters in quick succession over last Christmas and found them to be a fun read covering many mythical creatures and gods from all different cultures. Also, who couldn't like a bad ass Jack Frost with dreads? Secondly, I have a warm place in my heart for New Orleans the locale of The Map of Moments. I visited New Orleans probably have a dozen times before Katrina and I recently when back for the first time since the storm. I should also note that The Map of Moments is the second book in The Hidden Cities series and I haven't read the first Mind the Gap which takes place in London. I decided to skip Mind the Gap because from what I read each book is suppose to be very standalone with no interconnecting characters and I was itching for a story placed in New Orleans. The Map of Moments provides a great history and geography lesson for almost all of New Orleans without getting bogged down by unnecessary detail. I hate it when you read a book and the author clearly know almost nothing about the location they've placed their story in. Golden and Lebbon nailed the twists and turns of New Orleans, which makes me wonder if either ever lived there for any length of time. Max Corbett, former professor of history at Tulane, returns to New Orleans for the funeral of his former lover and student Gabrielle. He comes back about six months after their tear, but only a couple after Katrina, the storm that took Gabrielle's life. After her funeral Max is given a map of moments by a very mysterious man from Gabrielle's past. It is a map to some of the most powerful magical events in New Orleans history and if Max absorbs enough magic from visiting these moments he has a chance to talk to Gabrielle one last time. At first Max fights the urge to follow the map, but in the end he can't deny the chance. Max explores many spots in New Orleans from its earliest beginnings to some of its darkest nights though some kind of time travel resonance. On his journey Max untangles Gabrielle's past and her relationship to a dark and supposedly magical group that has been involved with New Orleans for hundreds of years. As he travels through a weather-torn city he depicts the terror that has shaken the city and its survivors to its very core. I’m leaving out a lot of the magic related events as they are best discovered through reading. A quick and quite inexpensive read The Map of Moments is a truly haunting look at the dark history and magic to the underside of New Orleans and the ghosts they hide. Golden and Lebbon develop their characters well in a very believable world while painting an apocalyptic landscape. It is definitely worth checking out if you are interested in New Orleans or a bit of dark urban fantasy. I give The Map of Moments 7 hats out of 10. Check out http://www.thehiddencities.com/ the great site created to support the series that includes readers' own short stories about their hidden cities. The next book in the series is placed in Venice and will likely be released next year.

Book Link: US Canada UK

Jim Butcher's Future Projects

The Butcher Block, Jim's semi-annual podcast was just released. During the broadcast Butcher discussed the future of the Dresden series as well as other writing projects. Here are some tidbits:

  • Title of 12th Dresden Book has been confirmed to be Changes as previously discussed on the net. This does change the established title format from the series. It should be released around April 2010.
  • An Anthology of short stories from the Dresden files universe including some never before released. It sounded like Backup the Thomas centric novella would be included. It should hit shelves Fall 2010. No title has been set.
  • Possibly a book with Ebenezer as a young man in the French and Indian War covering how the universe of the Dresden Files came to be. This could take place in the area Chicago is born so you'd get to see the beginnings of the city. This project sounded far off.
  • Possibly a Sci-Fi series called U.S. Marshalls or United System Marshalls. Butcher described it as a mix of Men in Black and X-Men in space, which is inspired by Outland the movie starring Sean Connery from the 80s.
  • Possibly an Alera book many years down the line that takes place in the future of that world.
  • Possibly co-authoring with Cam Banks on something.
My first choice would be for Butcher to release 2 Dresden books a year instead of starting a new series, but the US Marshall series could be pretty cool. And I'm sure Butcher's take on Sci-Fi would be fun.

Cover Unveiled for David Louis Edelman's Geosynchron

This just in from Pyr's Blog: This is another great one from Stephan Martiniere. So far this is my favorite from Pyr for the Fall season. They've been doing an amazing job though with their art all around. I've had Infoquake the first in this series sitting on my shelf for a while. I should probably get to it so I'll be ready for this one and the already available Multireal.

REVIEW | B is for Beer by Tom Robbins (Ecco)

Tom Robbins is perhaps the most solidly strange and whimsical authors of the last few decades. Between a new Christopher Moore and a new Robbins this year couldn't be off to a better start. B is for Beer takes Robbins brand of humor in a totally different direction--children's literature, well adult children's literature. The subtitle is A Children's Book for Grown-ups or A Grown-up Book for Children. B is for Beer tells the story of one little girls' infatuation and eventual inebriation with the golden beverage of choice of her Uncle Moe that quickly dives into a fairy tale [told by The Beer Fairy] of the history, creation, and distillation of beer. I found myself chuckling nearly every other page. Here is line I would now consider classic Robbins:

The week passed as slowly as a snowmans gas.
The coup de grace sees Gracie, the little girl, visited by The Beer Fairy to tell her and most importantly show her all she has ever wanted to know about the creation of beer. Gracie also learns a few lessons about perils of drinking, but also the benefits. Although, the topic is a bit adult I could definitely see reading this on to my niece and nephew or lending it to my Father-in-law to do so. I can actually picture him sipping a beer as he would read it to them. The book is rather short (125 pages with a few illustrations), but that was obviously out of intent. This could easily be read in one sitting with a tall glass or 2 to accompany you on the journey. It will leave you salivating for a second round. My favorite Robbins was and still remains Another Roadside Attraction, although B is for Beer is a great addition to the Robbins library. I give B is for Beer 7.5 out of 10 hats. Book Link: US Canada UK

Cover Unveiled for new Chadbourn and Sasha by Joel Shepherd (Pyr)

Just snagged from the Pyr blog:Another great cover from McGrath. I should be getting to Chadbourn's World's End in the next few weeks. Here is the cover for the first in a new series by Joel Shepherd to be released in November by Pyr also. All in all I think it is a tad too historical fiction looking for my taste. It screams Joan of Arc. The series is called A Trial of Blood and Steel and I believe there will be four volumes in all.

Here is the Australia cover, which I like a bit more:
Joel Shepherd is best known for his Cassandra Kresnov series of SF novels. The first of which Crossover, Pyr is releasing as their first mass market edition. Although the MM of Crossover is not officially released until May 27th it looks as though Amazon is already shipping out copies so expect to see it in stores shortly. Pyr is also releasing the 2nd and 3rd volumes of the Cassandra series in June and July respectively.

REVIEW | Midwinter by Matthew Sturges (Pyr)

Midwinter was my most anticipated read from Pyr this year and it turns out that it more than lived up to my expectations. This is the world of the Faery, but the way Sturges handles them is a bit more original and realistic in a lot of senses than I have read before. Even though the Fae are long lived and most have some modicum of magical abilities (called Gifts) they are not the powerful beings most would associate them as and theirs is even an almost caste-like culture. That said Titania and Mab are quite powerful and there is something different about the main character Mauritaine. When I first started I thought I was in the same universe that Justina Robson created with her Keeping It Real /Quantum Gravity series, although Sturges truly makes the idea of his own shared dimensions standout. We join Mauritaine where he has been imprisoned for two years of a life sentence for an offense not revealed until much later on. To the Fae of this world honor and loyalty are most important and to Mauritaine it is nearly everything. Even though sentenced to life in jail he is offered a pardon if he succeeds on a mission for Titania, Queen of the Seelie. He is allowed to bring some of the prisoners with him to aide in the mission. All of the would be rogues in his rag tag band have been imprisoned wrongly or so we are lead to believe. The group consists of a fallen nobleman, a human, a female fae from the dimension of Avalona, and an old comrade of Mauritaine that went down with him. The author sets up the dimensional idea really well, which left me grasping from more detail. The human is supposed to be from a contemporary time as our own, although contact has been mostly cut off from the human world for hundreds of years. There are hints at the reasons Faery has been cut off from the human world, which will hopefully be revealed in future installments. The group has to head through enemy territory and a disputed zone of the Seelie and Unseelie called The Contested Lands and their shifting places. I loved the idea of the shifting places, where time can be different depending on where you stand in the Contested Lands. So a short journey can be done quickly or slowly but the shirting places can also tear you apart. The floating cities of Mab were a truly inspired touch even though you only get a few glimpses of them. I did feel the ending was a bit rushed as I saw the book only had about 30 pages left and they still hadn't achieved a major objective of their mission. But Sturges managed to pull it off, which is better than feeling like the story is dragging as a few books I've read recently have done. The world building although not as detailed as I would have like, was impressive with its history that leaves the door open for so much more. My biggest gripe is not getting to learn more about these other worlds and their histories, especially Avalona, which we learn almost nothing about in how it differs from Fae. Midwinter should definitely appeal to readers of Abercrombie and Lynch or anyone looking for an adventurous read à la the dirty dozen with a healthy dose of fantasy mixed in. Pyr and Lou Anders have once proven again that they are the leader in the Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Midwinter is now in the running from one of my top reads of the year. I'll be one of the first to grab a copy of the follow-up of Mauritaine's adventures in The Office of the Shadow, which will hopefully bow early next year. I give Midwinter 8.5 out of 10 hats. Book Link: US Canada UK

Catching up

I should have my review up of Midwinter on Monday. I just dipped my toe into Tom Robbin's latest B is for Beer and it is definitely a fun one right off the bat. I traded e-mails with Tom Sniegoski, who said the next Remy Chandler book titled Where Angels Fear to Tread should be released in April next year. Also, he is already plotting the fourth book so it looks like this series should be around for a while longer. I hope he goes further than 4 books, if he can keep up the pace and quality, but if we judge it by his past YA series Fallen he kept that to four books as well.

REVIEW | The Stranger by Max Frei (Overlook)

This is a tough one for me to review. I hadn't heard anything about The Stranger when I bought it. I had some Borders bucks burning a hole in my pocket the week the book was released and the blurb and cover intrigued me enough to given this one a try. The comparison to the Night Watch books by Sergei Lukyanenko cinched it for me since I'm a big fan of that series and those are translated well from Russian. I really wanted to like it, but it fell flat on many levels for me. The main character Max Frei (yes, the same as the author) has the ability to travel to a different reality in his dreams. I thought this idea would work well with him flipping back and forth between the worlds, but Max spends most of his time in Echo, the alternative reality, and we're given almost nothing about his normal world, which I'd guess is similar to our own. The story is told from Max's perspective, but I developed no liking or connection to him. Normally with this type of book you want to root for the main character to learn more and solve the mysteries, but that didn't happen for me. The Stranger suffers from the same problems I had with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell being over long without adding to the plot, advancing the story, characters, or the world. Also, I should point out that ultimately I liked Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. The Stranger starts off decent with Max's early training and induction into Department of Absolute Order. The first case he investigates having to do with an evil mirror is even interesting, however, by than the dialogue started grating on me and was just too inane at many points. I almost put the book down after the first 150 pages, but decided to push through hoping things would improve. I've seen some people refer to the dialogue as keeping "that Russian flare," but it was overwrought with far too many exclamation points and pointless dialogues about how good the food taste in Echo. Here is a short excerpt to show my point:

“Today we’re dining in the Glutton, Max! I’ve been looking forward to this moment.”

“Dining where?”

"The Glutton Bunba, the most elegant mangy dive of them all: hot pâtés, the best kamra in Echo, the splendid Madam Zizinda, and not a single sourpuss to be seen at this hour of day.” “What do you mean, not a single sourpuss?” “Actually, not a single unpleasant face of any kind—but you know this place better than most Echoers!”

“How’s that?”

“You’ll see. Put on your shoes and let’s go. I’m as hungry as an armless thief.” And so for the first time I changed from my house slippers into tall moccasins that aspired to look like real boots. I also had a driver’s test—ha! As if that was anything to worry about!

The book could have benefited from an Editor with a swift hand and the goal of advancing the story quicker, but even than I'm not sure I would have liked it. I give The Stranger 3 out of 10 hats. Book Link: US Canada UK

Pyr's Fall/Winter 2009/10 Season announced

Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/listmania/fullview/R30CD2J1J8C5N7/ref=cm_lm_pthnk_view?ie=UTF8&lm_bb= I'm looking forward to: The Quiet War by Paul McAuley, because I'm in sore need of some new Sci-Fi.

The Grave Thief by Tom Lloyd, Third in the Twlight Reign Series

Geosynchron, by David Louis Edelman, Third and Final Volume of the Jump 225 Trilogy
There is also the North American release of James Barclay's Chronicles of the Raven Trilogy released one a month for 3 months.

Cover Unveiled for Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim

This may not be the final cover. The title treatment is great, but the detective's shadow might be a bit overdone since they are on Mike Carey's Felix Castor novels as well. Regardless, I have high hopes for this one as it will be the first of a 3 book Urban Fantasy series, that will probably be pretty bad ass. Kadrey's been around for a long time, although he is mostly known for his early cyberpunk stuff. Butcher Bird his first attempt at something like this was quite a treat and opened up the Urban Fantasy landscape to me. I also love the author's attitude. Here is some more info from the Author:

"The book is the first of a new series. It’s my crass attempt to cross urban fantasy with spaghetti westerns and 50s-60s era American crime fiction (think of Richard Stark’s Parker novels or Kubrick’s The Killing), all told in the voice of a snarky LA punk. Your basic revenge story with ritual magic, guns, decapitations, angels, devils, Homeland Security and skinheads. But funny. Funny decapitations. It’s about a guy named Stark, the LA punk I mentioned earlier. He’s part of a secret subculture of magic humans who call themselves the Sub Rosa. Before the book opens, Stark has been betrayed by some other Sub Rosas and sent to Hell in exchange for power. The book is about Stark crawling out of Hell and back to Earth to kill everybody who betrayed him and anyone who gets in his way. Like I said, it’s a comedy. It’s also NOT a noir mystery. I wanted to keep away from the Chandler and Hammet-isms of other books. I love both of those writers, but their bones have been picked clean by writers who are better at noir stuff than I am. Besides, the magical detective idea already exists. We don’t need another Harry Dresden because the last time I looked, the old one was still very much alive and doing quite well. Stark is the opposite of Dresden. He’s utterly untrained and not very good at detective work. He’s a punk, a fuck up and a killer. And he learned to kill while in Hell, so he’s not subtle about it."

Sounds like a great character. I'm all for a more hard edge detective and I think Kadrey has the chops to deliver.

Cover Unveiled for John Twelve Hawk's The Golden City

This is the third and final volume of The Fourth Realm series by John Twelve Hawks. I loved The Traveler when it was first released. The 2nd book The Dark Realm was only OK, so I hope Hawks can pull it out to close strong. Right now I don't care much for this cover given the beautiful work Doubleday has already done with the first 2 books in the series. But what's always sold me in the end is the finishing touches they've done on the books. The first had a pinstripe effect all over the jacket, which gave it a great effect and feel while the second had a die-cut in the jacket to reveal an image casebound around the whole book. So I'll hold judgement until I see the final printed book.
P.S. The black dots on the cover may turn out to be a die-cut like they had on The Dark River.

REVIEW | Orcs: Bad Blood by Stan Nicholls

Although the omnibus edition of Nicholls' first 3 Orc books was only recently release Orcs: Bad Blood is the first new Orc book in many years. The covers Orbit have been doing for these books are pitch perfect for attracting the right audience. The Orc on the covers is actually a bust they photographed.



I loved the first trilogy as it really gave you a different picture of the ravenous Orcs and their side of why they do what they do. What Nicolls did with developing the characters, most notable Stryke and Coilla, in the first book he almost ruins in this new extension. The characters appear as more watered down versions of what they were. The action sequences were still above par, but the story telling itself was too predictable to be enjoyable.

The story picks about 4 years after the events of the first trilogy with the Wolverines living an all too serene life on the Orc home dimension. Stryke is sought out to come to another dimension where orcs are being oppressed by humans. Predictable, the Wolverines are up for a good mission. They pick up a few new recruits and some old ones. Along the way they get involved with the orcs' resistance and battles ensue. Their goal is starting an uprising as the orcs of that dimension are docile and lost their warrior ways. All in all this was a bit of a disappointment. The high point being the introduction of a human, Jod, to the band who is an amazing fighter and seems to have hit to off oddly with Coilla. I'm intrigued by Jod's past and his true motivations join the warband. Some foreshadowing is done about this a bit, but I get the feeling Nicoholls didn't plan it out too well. Hopefully I'll be proved wrong with the later volumes and that this was just a setup for bigger and more interesting things. I give Orcs: Bad Blood 5 out of 10 hats. I'll still stick in there for the next volume Orcs: Army of Shadows due out in October.

Book Link: US Canada UK

Also, here is the cover for the next volume, which I haven't seen elsewhere yet.



REVIEW | Dancing on the Head of a Pin: A Remy Chandler Novel by Thomas E. Sniegoski (Roc)

This is the second Remy Chandler novel which is the follow-up to the great series opener A Kiss Before the Apocalyse. Sniegoski is still a fairly new writer to me even though he has been around for more than a decade, although the Remy books are his first solo foray into adult books as he is very well known for his YA Fallen series.

Dancing on the Head of a Pin sees Remy Chandler, also known as Remial of the angel host Seraphim, getting sucked into more of the heavenly host's business. After losing his human wife Remy is still going through a lot of grief. He is struggling to hold on to his humanity as his great link has left him. I love the Remy character and how Sniegoski has built him up with a better sense of humanity than most people posses. Marlowe, Remy's always lovable dog, does a great job of keeping Remy connected to the human world, but after releasing his angelic nature Remy is finding it harder and harder to keep his thoughts in the human world.

Remy starts off by investigating the selling of angel organs by a group of the Fallen. Remy eventually finds the angel in question and witnesses him dying. Remy feels obligated to tell the group of Nomads the angel came from about his demise. The Nomads are another sect of Angels who sat out the Morningstar's war with heaven, while the Fallen are the angels who fought on the Morningstar's (Devil) side. They have no place in heaven nor hell and have lived on the earth for a millennia contemplating what they should have done during the great war.

Remy is soon hired by an old wealthy collector of antique weapons to recover a special group of weapons recently stolen from him. Remy learns the weapons are the legendary pitiless weapons. These are weapons of great strength more than equal to any other ever created. Remy uncovers the first of the pitiless weapons, which leads him into the deeper and darker mysteries of why the weapons were stolen and what their true purpose is. The weapons don’t get much play until the end of the book are used very swiftly and could have easily been over done given their strength.

Dealings with the Fallen and a Nephlim bring out more players in the game including Hellions. Hellions are kind of like giant evil hyenas who keep things inline over Hell and its inhabitants. Sniegoski keeps surprising me with the myriad of angelic creatures and sects involved. Hopefully he can keep this up in further books. Remy eventually uncovers who is behind all of the happenings and what they are planning The ending wasn't quite what I expected, but it worked really well, especially in setting up bigger events for future books. Sniegoski almost makes we want to go back and read the bible for pure entertainment given the cast of characters and creatures he employs. I give Dancing on the Head of a Pin 8 out of 10 hats.

It is definitely advisable to read A Kiss Before the Apocalypse first, which was just released in Mass Market format, although Dancing could be enjoyed on its own.


I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for the next Remy book and I'll probably check out some of the author's older offerings as well. Also worth reading is Mean Streets the novella compliation that includes a Remy story about solving the murder of Noah and a good Dresden Files story.

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REVIEW | Turn Coat (the Dresden Files Book 11) by Jim Butcher (Roc)

As with all previous books in the series Turn Coat does not disappoint. It is action packed from start to finish. The story picks up with the Warden Morgan coming to Harry for aide. Morgan has been accused of a most grievous crime. The murder of a senior white council member. As is typical Dresden style he comes to Morgan's aide, because Harry loves lost causes and thinks that no matter what what's right is right. It is a rocky journey for Harry. Possibly the hardest of the series so far as Butcher attempts to throw bigger and harder curve balls at Harry to keep him on his toes.

Turn Coat mostly has to deal with The Black Council story line that has been ongoing for sometime along with the White Council. That plot thread is advanced quite a bit as more people are brought into the fray of the Black Councils plans. Harry is battered by all sides from NeverNever zombies to a Skinwalker all while trying to avoid the other Wardens who are searching for the rogue Morgan. Butcher's treatment of the Skinwalker was the best use of the Native American mythology I've ever seen. The Skinwalker is the most formidable creature Harry has faced so far.

Harry's connection to the mysterious island is also made stronger as he delves into its secrets. Thomas seemed a bit lost in the story, but he has for a few books. Without spoiling all I can say is Thomas is a different man (or monster) by the end of the book. Turn Coat also sees the development and testing of Harry's young and nubile apprentice Molly. Molly has to learn to use her ever-strengthening skills more and more, but her dark past comes back to haunt her.

My favorite parts of the last few books has been Dresden's growing interaction with the White Council. Turn Coat sees Harry visiting White Council HQ which only intrigued me more about their history and true strength. We finally get to see some of the Senior Council member show their true strength. Injun Joe is amazing impressive so it makes we wonder what The Merlin could do since he is supposedly the most powerful. Also, a few small tidbits come up about Ebenezer's history and duty for the White Council, which will hopefully be expounded upon in future books.

All in all Turn Coat is a great read and advances Dresden's world more. That said there are still dozens of plot lines up in the air such as the swords and who else is on the Black Council. I have great hope that Butcher can keep up the action and intrigue for the remaining books. I give Turn Coat 9 out of 10 hats.

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