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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


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

Checking in from Book Expo | Saturday

As expected today was a quieter day, but the quality was very high of stuff to collect. I managed to catch the tail end of the SFF discussion with Mieville and Ringo. I took a little video, but I haven't gotten a chance to download it to see if any was good. If so expect a post next week.

Here is the swag: [Signed] Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (Tor) Surprisingly this was a finished book, not a galley as most other books I grabbed were. [Signed] The Affinity Bridge by George Mann (Tor) Steampunk. Nuff said. Hitchhikers Guide Limited Edition Promo Book for And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer (Hyperion)More about this later. [Signed] Salt Water Taffy by Matthew Loux (Oni) Because it looked fun. [Signed] Taking Woodstock by Elliot Tiber & Tom Monte (Square One) Because the movie looks good. Ask Arthur Frommer by Arthur Frommer (Wiley) Because I travel.

While in line for the Sanderson and Mann books I found myself behind the very friendly Literary Agent and fellow blogger Jenny Rappaport. Jenny represents David J. Williams and John Joseph Adams who I consider the best anthologist today. She mentioned a new project just signed for JJA, which is of course an anthology, but in this case all stories will be original instead of a mix of new and old reprints. It is tentatively titled The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination to be published by Tor. The premise is superhero stories from the villains perspective à la Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible. Grossman is slated to contributing to the book. Sounds like it will be a good one, but alas it won't be out until 2011 most likely.

Tired. Feet hurt. Sleep now.

Checking in from Book Expo America | Friday

So far the show has been much better than expected. There were some worries that the show is going downhill, and while it is definitely smaller I found everything I wanted and more. It is especially still a fun place to walk around if you love books. There are hundreds of authors throughout the event. I met China Mieville at his signing and got his autograph on The City & The City. He was much friendlier than I expected given his serious look in his photos and tone when I've heard him interviewed. I also managed to get Neil Gaiman's autograph on The Graveyard Book and my first edition hardcover of American Gods. Here he is signing my copy of The Graveyard Book: I left with the biggest grin. I've grabbed a few good galleys and spoke to some of the publishers such as Orbit and Overlook. The Orbit people were especially friendly and they're definitely reading the bloggers. Tomorrow there is a talk with China Mieville and John Ringo I hope to attend. Well here is the swag I picked up:

  • Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie (Orbit) This is the one I was most excited about grabbing. I don't think they were actually giving them out but Alex from Orbit was very kind.
  • [Signed] Soulless by Gail Carriger (Orbit) Gotta love Zombies in a Victorian steampunk setting.
  • Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)
  • The Cry of the Sloth by Sam Savage (Coffee House) I read Savages' Firmin a few months ago a love the heartbreaking story of a rat who is born smart and lives in a bookstore.
  • [Signed] The City & The City by China Mieville (Del Rey)
  • This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (Duton) Because it looks interesting.
  • New World Monkeys by Nancy Mauro (Crown) Who couldn't love a title like this?
  • [Signed] An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage (Walker) I loved the author's A History of the World in 6 Glasses so this should be a good treat.
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman (Viking) I was underwhelmed by Grossman's first book Codex, but the premise sounded interesting enough to give it a shot.

Please feel free to post your jealousy over my grand swag. I don't expect to pick up as much tomorrow, but there were rumors of the new Hitchhikers Guide being given out.

At Book Expo America Friday and Saturday

I'll be attending Book Expo America or BEA for those in the know. It is the largest gathering of Publishers in the US with hundreds of authors doing signings and loads of ARCs being given out. I hope to do a post each day about the swag I grab and the authors I meet. Some of this year's highlights include signings by Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, and Brandon Sanderson. Mieville is also giving a talk about Sci-Fi/Fantasy I hope to get to.

Tim Lebbon Guest Post + GIVEAWAY + EXCERPT

I'm very happy to introduce our first author guest post here at Mad Hatter's as award-winning author Tim Lebbon visits us on his Blog Tour as his 8th stop to promote the new paperback edition of FALLEN. The previous stop was at Graeme's where you can check out a great interview with Tim.

To begin, I have one copy of Tim Lebbon's FALLEN courtesy of the fine people at Allison & Busby to give away. Send an email to madpye (AT) yahoo (dot) com with your full name and snail mail address. The deadline is midnight next Wednesday (June 3rd). I'll announce the winner on Thursday. This contest is open to anyone in the world. To enter for a chance to win a signed hardback copy of The Island, which is set in the same world as FALLEN follow this contest link. Be sure to enter this code: KONRAD. The contest is open to anyone in the UK. Without further adieu Tim Lebbon's Guest Post:

Previously on this Blog Tour I’ve chatted about new novels FALLEN (paperback) and THE ISLAND (hardback), their characters, the world of Noreela and its timeline and background, what inspires me, and what goes on in my head to even give these stories a chance at being told. I’ve also talked about sentient tumbleweed and fictional characters taking charge of my life … Now I thought I’d share with you a little of what it’s like to live a writer’s life – with the constant shadow of deadlines, the chasing of fleeting ideas, the writing blocks, the inevitable self-doubt… Deadlines are like monsters from a really bad Jean-Claude Van Damme movie (are there any other sort?), stalking me from the future, closing mindlessly and mercilessly, and every morning when I wake up they’re that much nearer, and I can hear the chomping of their jaws and the clacking of their teeth as they do their best to distract me from the writing that will, I hope, see them turn away, at the very moment they might have closed their drooling, stinking molars together through my soul… Ideas stalk, but in a more benign, yet no less disturbing way. They’ll circle and watch for the best moment to arrive, and their best moments are usually my worst. Many times I’ve had a great idea sing in and make itself known just at that strange moment between waking and sleep, when the world is quiet and all manner of possibilities lie in the dreams bubbling just over the sleep horizon. Up, out of bed, beside lamp on, notebook open, wife stirring in annoyance, and even then the frantic scribbling does little to bring justice to the idea that is already over there in dreamland, laughing at me. Other times it’ll be when I’m driving that the idea bullet hits, taking out a large chunk of my concentration as I try to negotiate the next deadly traffic jam of white van drivers and boy racers. On the loo, walking the dog, watching something on TV or a movie—and the wife hates it even more when I press pause and disappear into my office to rattle down a couple of hundred words of what, I hope, might become the next scene, chapter, or book … Deadline still stalking, ideas circling at a taunting distance, this is the Middle of the Novel, where the beginning still seems great, the ending is a shining beacon luring me on with promises of brilliance, but the current location is just not working at all. This middle is painfully bad, it’ll break the book and upset my editor and destroy my career. It’s the worst Middle of the Novel there has ever been, because it’s the parched Desert where Ideas Die. I write on, because that’s all there is to do, and eventually there’s an oasis in the distance … but is it real, or is it a mirage? And so to the ending, when everything I’ve been working on for several months starts to come together into this great climax I have been thinking about forever. Plot strands converge, schemes cross paths, characters have changed enough to fulfil the destiny I—or more likely, they—have always intended for them. But … will it work? Is this really such a great idea after all, or is it a stinking pile of cliché? There are 130,000 words behind me laughing at my back as I run away from them, fleeing a fight and edging nervously around where the last 20,000 words are meant to go. Help me help me somebody help me! And now I’ve written the ending, it’s something close to what I’d hoped, or at least the novel as a whole bears a passing resemblance to the idea I had in the beginning—but only a fleeting likeness, because everything changes in the telling, and my favourite Arthur Machen quote never seems more pertinent than now: “I dream in fire but work in clay.” It’s delivery time, when I send this new baby off into the internet ether winging its way toward my agent and, from his hands, into the hands of my editor. Now the real angst begins, because is this the worst novel I’ve ever written? Even worse, is it the worst novel ever written by anyone, ever? Of course it is … and the period after delivery that should be for relaxation and casual research about the next book are sleepless and disturbed. My editor will hate it, the edit notes will mean a complete rewrite, acceptance and the delivery advance are still months away, and my kids need new shoes! And even when the edit notes aren’t too bad and my editor says how good the book is, I start to wonder if it’s too different from my last books, will readers who liked the horror go for the fantasy, will fantasy readers like this new horror novel, will I shed any small readership I’ve managed to attract by changing tack? Is this novel the equivalent of career suicide? What was I thinking? But already my head’s spinning with new ideas, because there’s always more to do. The new idea is taking shape, the new novel forming like a shape in the mist. I can never concentrate on anything for too long, not without new ideas intruding … my head’s always working, and that makes relaxing difficult. These new ideas, they’re just … well … Am I weird? Am I really weird. Do people in my village talk about me behind my back, look at me, say, ‘There’s that weird writer bloke Tim Lebbon’? I should take a break, of course. Spend some time with my wife and kids. But there’s a new deadline beckoning now, making low, grunting noises as it gears itself up to steaming in at me with fangs gnashing and the promise of eternal damnation if it catches me and flings me behind it. So the promise of ‘I’ll have a bit more time soon’ is always an empty promise, because as I get older and my career moves on, Time seems less and less easy to find. I dream of a machine that makes time, and there’s a twinge of, ‘Hey!’, but of course that’s a stupid idea. So I deal with the time I’ve got, and tell the kids that no, I can’t come out to play right now, I have this guest blog to write for this Blog Tour I’m on and… And I love every single minute of it all. With FALLEN and THE ISLAND, the deadlines kept me focused, and I hit both of them (in fact, THE ISLAND was early …!). Brainstorming these two novels felt like having a personal movie screen and library, always active, inside my own mind. Writing the endings was like discovering what happens at the end, as much a thrill as reading the ending of a great novel, and with both FALLEN and THE ISLAND the endings were mysteries to me until I wrote them. Writing something different from my earlier horror novels was rewarding and satisfying, and readers’ and critics’ reaction has been fantastic. New ideas hit and excite me as much now as a great idea did ten years ago. Yes, I’m a bit strange, but who’d want to be normal? And my family seems quite settled with my slight oddness, and my kids love the fact that I can tell stories. So what are the worries and concerns about being a writer? All part of the wonderful, thrilling process, that’s what. Speaking of which, I feel a new idea circling in now, so if you’ll excuse me …

If you've been following Tim's Blog Tour here is the link to the next installment of the extract from FALLEN to get a taste of Lebbon's Norella: EXCERPT. Start back at the beginning of the tour to get caught up to the samples. You can also read my review of Lebbon's (with Christopher Golden) The Map of Moments here.

Join Tim on June 1st for his final stop on the blog tour at the SFX Magazine Blog where they'll have an exclusive extract from The Island. To order a copy of the newly release paperback of FALLEN visit here.

To catch up on the tour here is the full list of other stops on the tour:

11th May - My Favourite Books 13th May - Allison & Busby 15th May - Highlander’s Book Reviews 17th May - Falcata Times 20th May - Speculative Horizons 23rd May - Fantasy Book Spot 25th May - Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review 27th May - Mad Hatter's Bookshelf & Book Review 1st June - SFX Magazine Blog

REVIEW | The City & The City by China Miéville (Del Rey)

The City & The City was one of those books that everyone has been hotly awaiting since announced. I must admit I fell into the trap as well with the entire mystique surround its release. Even to the point where the author asked reviewers to be very vague about some of the details. After reading I can certainly see why China and his publisher wanted to keep things quite. A loose word here or there could ruin the entire experience, which is why I'll keep this brief.

The City & The City is a detective murder mystery a la Raymond Chandler with a little fantasy mixed in narrated by Inspector Tyador Borlu of Beszel Extreme Crime Squad. The setting is quite strange in that it is a divided city. Think East/West Berlin only with the streets split in half with one side of the populace on each side and neither being able to acknowledge or see the other. Borlu lives in Beszel and the other half of the city is called Ul Qoma.
The style of writing is almost as if it were written in another language and than translated into English, but it works beautifully. Some may consider this work too high brow, but I think it can be enjoyed by anyone willing to put in the effort. It will certainly make you think. I found myself putting the book down a few times between chapters just to ponder what it would be like to live or visit a city such as this. A few brief chapters have Borlu accompanying visitors around the Bezel, which gives you a bit more insight into the alienness of it all. Borlu's investigation takes him to the other side of the city so you do get a complete view of each.
The City & The City twists and turns into something I was never expecting, but is all the more satisfying for doing so. I give The City & The City 9.5 out 10 Hats. I would have given it 10, but I do have to leave room for improvement. I'm even contemplating getting the Subterranean edition, but I haven't decide if it will live up to repeated readings. I'll definitely be checking out China's Un Lun Dun and maybe some other works by him in the next couple of months.

Tim Lebbon is Coming | Upcoming Guest Post, Free Excerpt, and Giveaway

We'll be having our first author guest blog later this week from Tim Lebbon as he makes his way here on his Blog Tour 2009. In addition we'll be sharing an exclusive excerpt from Lebbon's Fallen and a giveaway of The Island. Visit Graeme's Fantasy Book Review for today's Blog Tour stop.

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW | Thor: Ages of Thunder by Matt Fraction (Marvel)

I've long been a fan of Norse mythology so in turn Thor is about the best it can get in graphic novels to me except for maybe Gaiman's work. I was also itching for a warm up to Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout and this certainly fit that. Thor: Ages of Thunder collects Matt Fraction's attempt at reinterpreting the Norse myths surrounding Thor and his brethren in a nice slightly over sized hardcover. Let me first say that the art is absolutely amazing. Although it is a different style than Alex Ross it is just as impressive in its epic scale. Each frame deserves a place in a museum.

Thor: Ages of Thunder stands apart from the rest of the Thor series' past and present so it can be enjoyed on its own without any prior introduction to past reading. This is a different Thor than depicted most elsewhere. He is tired of being the one who always has to clean up all of the other Gods problems, especially the mischievous Loki. Thor has turned into a vengeful and unforgiving God. In it Thor fights everything from frost and storm giants to zombie hordes and even Odin the all-father, which gives Zircher's art a chance to cut loose on an incredible scale.
I'd almost go as far to say Fraction's take is better than Walter Simonson's legendary long run at Thor, but I'd probably be lynched by comic book I mean graphic novels aficionados. I give Thor: Ages of Thunder 9.5 out of 10 Hats. If you are a fan of the Norse myths or just love a beautifully rendered epic give this one a try.
Book link: US UK Canada

REVIEW | Ghost Ocean by S.M. Peters (Roc)

About a year ago I was in my local bookstore and saw a little mass market sticking out of alignment from the rest of the books. At the time it seemed like it was beckoning me. The book turned out to be the most ambitious steampunk novel I've read called Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters which was his debut novel. I don't think it got noticed as much as it deserved when first released. The striking cover is perfect for the story which evokes a Victorian England where there is a disease turning people into machines. If you are a fan of steampunk than by all means get yourself a copy of Whitechapel Gods. With Ghost Ocean we see Peters turn his able sextant to Urban Fantasy. Judging by its cover of a pretty girl in a leather jacket it could be lost in the sea of other Urban Fantasies, but it is definitely a cut above the average. Ghost Ocean is very strange with the most bizarre cast of characters placed in the fictitious town of St. Ives where it is almost always raining and monsters of all kind dwell. Told from multiple view points and jumping around in time and memory it could take a little while to get a handle of what is going on just in time for Peters to change the rules, however it is well worth the effort. The story completely fakes you out from what you think is going to be a daughter's search for her father's killer, but is more about the ancient evils that surrounds Te, the main protagonist. Te is a paranormal investigator in training to Babu Cherian who worked with her father before his death five years prior. Along the way you learn Te has been held in the dark about nearly everything and everyone in her life as her father wanted to shield her from this life. It is actually surprising how well adjusted she is given her upbringing by a clearly uncaring mother and a mostly absent father. My one caveat is Te's relationship to Jack, her doting neighbor, in which she leads him around like a puppy into trouble time and time again. But to Te it is all about filling the gap of loneliness inside of her and Jack also provides her a connection she needs to stay grounded. After a very powerful monster escapes its prison Te is brought in on the secrets of her father's past and into Babu's mysterious group of monster hunters in search of the creature. My favorite character from the odd group is probably Munin who is mathematical genius/mad scientist with a toy ray gun. All over St. Ives there are creepy crawlies aching to be set free. The grotesque description of many of the creatures, most notably Bird will stay with you for a long while as will the freak people that surround her. In some ways Ghost Ocean is a dark version of American Gods with Peters' use of mythology and his own inventiveness able to make it stand apart. Ghost Ocean is a wild adventure that keeps pushing harder and further to up the stakes. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Simon R. Green, or Christopher Golden should definitely find Ghost Ocean engaging and fresh. If you are a guy who loves Urban Fantasy, but have trouble finding new books beyond Dresden and John Taylor give this one a try. I give Ghost Ocean 8 out of 10 Hats. It is clear that Peters has a long and bright future in front of him as his writing has improved between books. I'll be checking out anything he writes in the future. I'm hopeful Peters gets moved up to a hardcover or at least trade paper release for his next book as I'd love to have copies that will hold up on my shelves. Book Link: US Canada UK Edit: See interview with S.M. Peters here.

New Books Procured

I just picked up Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout and C.C. Finlay's A Spell for the Revoltion. I also grab a used copy Pete Jordan's Dishwasher: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States because I love a good travel narrative and my goal is to one day visit all 50 states. I'm at a little more than 40 states right now. Half of those states were taken care of with a two month long road trip and a month long trip around on the train to as many major cities as I could fit in. Look for reviews of the first 2 in the next couple of weeks. Dishwasher will probably wait until my summer vacation. These will probably be the last of the books I buy (except The Angel's Game) for a while since I will be attending Book Expo America where I expect to get quite a few advance reading copies.

New Zombie Anthology With Stories by Max Brooks, Tad Williams, Mike Carey, and Tim Lebbon

Christopher Golden will be editing a new anthology of zombie stories titled The New Dead to be published by St. Martins/Griffin. It looks to be a stellar line up of authors for the topic. Table of Contents:

  • "Lazarus" by John Connolly
  • "What Maisie Knew" by David Liss
  • "Copper" by Stephen R. Bissette
  • "In the Dust" by Tim Lebbon
  • "Life Sentence" by Kelley Armstrong
  • "Delice" by Holly Newstein
  • "Closure, LTD" by Max Brooks
  • "The Wind Cries Mary" by Brian Keene
  • "Family Business" by Jonathan Maberry
  • "The Zombie Who Fell From the Sky" by M.B. Homler
  • "My Dolly" by Derek Nikitas
  • "Second Wind" by Mike Carey
  • "Among Us" by Aimee Bender
  • "Ghost Trap" by Rick Hautala
  • "The Storm Door" by Tad Williams
  • "Kids and Their Toys" by James A. Moore
  • "Shooting Pool" by Joe R. Landsdale
  • "Weaponized" by David Wellington
  • "Twittering from the Circus of the Dead" by Joe Hill

I'm definitely looking forward to the Max Brooks story as his World War Z was great fun. Also, Mike Carey’s (Felix Castor novels & comics) and Joe Hill's (Heart Shaped Box) stories should be a good treat. The Carey story is supposed to be centered on Nicky who is a character from the Felix Castor novels. The anthology should hit shelves in February 2010.

New Info: The Max Brooks story will be set in the world of World War Z and Subterranean Press will also be doing a limited edition version.

Related Review: The Map of Moments by Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon.

REVIEW | The Patriot Witch (Traitor to the Crown) by C.C. Finlay (Del Rey)

The Patriot Witch is the first in a trilogy of historical fantasies in the Traitor to the Crown series by C.C. Finlay also known as Charles Coleman Finlay author of The Prodigal Troll. Del Rey is releasing the series one a month with the first this past April and the 2nd and 3rd books following a month apart similar to how Brent Weeks' Night Angel Trilogy and Naomi Novik's Temeraire / His Majesty's Dragon were done. I love it when a publisher does something like this, especially given the lag time most of us wait for our favorite series to have a new release. Although publisher a has to have a lot of confidence in the books as their expectations would have to be high. I can say without any reservations that The Patriot Witch hits all the right marks with gritty action, believable characters, and good magic while nailing the setting. The story is centered during revolutionary times in Massachusetts, mostly in the Lexington to Boston area. From a historical aspect The Patriot Witch is completely accurate to the point you could consider it a secret history instead of an alternative one. The story just mixes in magic here and there to help explain how events unfold as they did in ingenious and completely logical ways. I'll refrain from mentioning specific events as it would ruin the fun of finding out what the characters were involved with. The lead and some secondary characters have a lot of depth given the length of the book at 330 pages, which nowadays I'd consider a light read in the fantasy genre. The Patriot Witch gives you the common people's view of the revolution through the eyes of Proctor Brown, a christian farmer and minuteman who also happens to be descended from a line of witches with magic in his blood. I watched the John Adams HBO mini-series last year, which was enthralling but it differed in that it was from the perspective of the leaders of the time so I found Brown's everyman POV refreshing. Proctor is very conflicted between his faith, his newly found powers, and also turning against the British. Even nowadays it is strange to think that people considered themselves British just as much as American during revolutionary times. There is a second war being fought at the same time. One with arms and the other magical as the British side has witches of its own helping. Although it is unclear how much the Brits know about their involvement, but more of the intrigue will probably unfold in succeeding volumes. At it heart The Patriot Witch is a story or responsibility, courage, and selflessness with the main characters sense of doing the right thing driving them even when alternatives from danger are given to them time and again. The one slow point was Proctor's time spent on a farm while trying to learn about his abilities, but even that sequence ends on a high note of surprises and action. The battle scenes are well drawn from historical sources with very realistic combat. The ending plays out well and leaves you wanting for so much more from the characters. The Patriot Witch turned into one of those reads you stay up late for just to get a few more pages in. Before you know it you look up and see you should have been to sleep an hour ago and than turn back for another page. I give The Patriot Witch 8.5 out of 10 Hats. If it wasn't for The Prodigal Troll I'd put this up as a possible Fantasy Debut of the year. Judging by the synopsis of A Spell for the Revolution the action will only be getting bigger so I'll definitely keep following the series. ***Until the end of May The Patriot Witch is available as a complete free e-book here. Grab it while you can. Book Link: US Canada UK

New Look

As everyone can see I've updated the look of Mad Hatter's Bookshelf & Book Review. I felt the basic blogger templates were a bit boring and wanted something with a different feel but easily navigable. Hopefully this fits the bill. So far I think it works but I'll probably be tweaking it a bit over the weeks to come. If something isn't displaying correctly please feel free to leave a comment. I'm having 2 small problems and if any of you are particular good with XML and CSS drop me an e-mail. I'm sure there is a very simple fix to at least one of the issues. Thanks, The Mad Hatter

REVIEW | Monster by A. Lee Martinez (Orbit)

I hadn't read any of Martinez's books previously although I've heard he would be up my alley since I'm a fan of Tom Holt, Robert Rankin, and Christopher Moore who he has been associated with. When I saw the cover and read the description I just knew this would be the one to try. I'm a sucker for cryptids and funny fantasy in this case funny urban fantasy.

 I managed to finish Monster in 3 sittings which is quick given my hectic schedule lately. Monster is a zany mix of Christopher Moore's humor with the inventive flair of Douglas Adams. It starts off hilariously and barely gives you time to breath between giggles with its delightful dialogue and sometime silly action.

Monster abounds with a veritable menagerie of mythical monsters such as yetis, kobolds, sphinxes, and pretty much anything you could or couldn't dream up. This is a world where magical things happen but most people forget about them soon after they witness them.

The sometimes blue, Monster the main character/anti-hero is kind of like the cleanup crew of mythical monster kind with a strange ability best left revealed through reading. In other words he is the dog warden of weird varmints. Chaos is drawn to Judy who is a grocery store clerk and a bit of a failure in life. The character development is not very deep, which leaves Monster (the character) feeling a bit flat and also makes it a little hard to care about Judy. Both are just making the motions going through life and not caring to accomplish anything. Monster is actually a bit over the top in his reluctance to not get involved at times to the point of being unbelievable. However the situations and dialogue are what you want in a book like this so I can overlook these flaws for the pure entertainment Martinez gives us.

On the flip side Chester, a paper gnome, is Monster's partner in crime and adds a nice counterbalance. Chester in actuality is a being from a different dimension just inhabiting the paper body for work. Monster's girlfriend is a super-hot succubus and there is of course a crazy cat lady who is up to something. The book is quickly paced and the fight scenes are a lot of fun especially one involving a herd of trolls. The magic Monster employs is logical yet he plays it mischievously well and I feel like there could be a lot more to this world especially given the climatic ending. Although a very different monster this is close to on par with Christopher Moore's The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.

Monster won't win any high literary awards, but If you are in the mood for a light read and a few laughs this is definitely the one to pickup especially if you've been reading a lot of long Epic Fantasy. I give Monster 7.5 out of 10 Hats. I'd love to see a short story from Martinez covering Monster teaming up with Chester for the first time or maybe another book with these characters. I'm definitely checking out Martinez's next book Divine Misfortune which Orbit is releasing in March 2010, but in the meantime I'll probably read his In the Company of Ogres which has been sitting on my to read shelf for far too long.

Here is the cover for Divine Misfortune:

Cover Revealed for The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time Book 12) by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

After all the build and let down here is the cover for the long awaited 12th book for The Wheel of Time series snagged from Brandon's blog. Meh... That's all I have to say.

Flash Forward Series Promo

A preview of the new ABC sci-fi drama Flash Forward was shown during the Lost finale last night. If you missed it check it out:
It is looking very promising. I love the logo.

REVIEW | Fall of Thanes by Brian Ruckley (Orbit)

Fall of Thanes is the third and final volume of the Godless World series by Brian Ruckley. The first volume Winterbirth was one of my favorite fantasy debuts of 2007. The follow-up Bloodheir carried on the story well, but I entered Fall of Thanes a bit trepidaciously as I hope Ruckley would not rely too heavily on some overused tropes of epic fantasy. My fears were alleviated as Ruckley succeeds on all fronts with keeping the epic feel right while giving the characters and world a fitting end. If you haven't read the first two in the series you may want to skip down to the last paragraph. Fall of Thanes more than lives up to the title although something along the lines of Bloodlust or Bloodmadness might have worked just as well. We finally get to learn more about the shared with a brilliant description of its corruption at Aegylss's hands as he perverts the minds of the populace. The true bloods of the lands find themselves shattered. Former allies are at each others throats while the Black Road have overrun much of their land. The relationship between Orisian and Ess'yr is a bit cardboard and K'rina turns out to be just what I thought she was but nonetheless it worked well to accomplish the goals. Overall Shraeve turned out to be one of my favorite characters along with the morose Orisian. Anyara finally comes into her own although she still seems like a bystander. The fight scenes were very good especially a couple involving a particular Hunt Inkallim, a group I felt got a bit short changed in the first two books. I was very saddened by the bleak ending, but it worked so well I can't imagine it differently. Fall of Thanes is one of the bloodiest books I have read in the last few years save The First Law trilogy although the Godless series may have a higher body count. I give Fall of Thanes 9.0 out of 10 Hats. This is definitely in contention for my book of the year list and I'm curious where Ruckley will go from here. Book Link: US Canada UK

GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire Video Game

French video game developer Cyanide Studios has reached a deal with George R.R. Martin to make a video game based on A Song of Ice and Fire. The press release can be read here. Depending on how they decide to treat it this could be a huge game. It probably won't be out for a couple years though as they just signed contracts and even if they went fairly basic with the design it would take a lot of time. Martin is also pretty picky about what he associates the series with so I'm sure he'll want to keep the quality high after the whole Dabel Brother calendar debacle. I've played the card game based on the series and that turned out quite fun.

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SyFy versus Sci Fi

When I first heard the Sci Fi Channel was changing its name to SyFy I was flabbergasted. How could they?!? I've been watching since it first came on cable with all the old 70s Sci-fi and horror shows like Dark Shadows and The Prisoner. But SyFy really?

Over at one of the higher ups from SyFy has taken on the herculean task of defending the decision here. After reading I have to say it does make business sense in terms of branding and recognition for their products. A couple of years ago books started coming out with the Sci Fi Channel Essentials logo and they have been making movies of their own for awhile. When you look at something like that online it wouldn't really mean anything especially when the text is put next to the title. Sort of like no duh it is just a sci-fi book or movie. But you may not realize it is a SyFy movie. Not that it makes a difference to me especially since most of their movies are below par, but with SyFy they can extend their brand to stand out a bit more. I'm not won over by the change, but I can understand it a bit more.

REVIEW | Blood of Elves by Andrej Sapkowski (Orbit)

Blood of Elves is the second Witcher volume released in English. The Witcher series is unbelievable popular in Poland, where it is one of the best-selling series of all time in addition to being a very popular PC game around the world. The first English release The Last Wish was a good action packed glimpse of the world and of the lead character Geralt the Witcher, although very different in format from Blood of Elves. I enjoyed The Last Wish a lot so my expectations of this were high, however I was a bit disappointed to find that the book centered on a female ward of Geralt instead of the Witcher himself. The best aspects of The Last Wish were the fight scenes with the various creatures the Witcher tackled along with the associated mythology. Other than one scene this volume is lacking in that respect. The book opens well with a nice scene with Dandillion the bard and sometimes rogue who accompanied Geralt a little in The Last Wish. Dandillion is a bit short changed in the book though, but that could just be because he is my favorite character next to Geralt. However, most of the book is focused on the training and education of Ciri as the Witcher takes her to the home of the other Witchers where he intends to train her in their way. The time spent there is interesting as you get to learn a lot about the histories of the Witchers and why there are so few left now. Ciri's training doesn't work out as Geralt hoped and she is taken to the school for Wizards. No one in their world has ever received training from both schools prior and we learn Ciri has a great destiny to either be a great cause for hope or despair. This had me hooked to some extent as I was hoping to catch a glimpse of what Ciri could do in the future, but Sapkowski mostly leaves you in the dark.

Ciri and the Witcher are being hunted as different groups want Ciri for themselves including a mysterious empire from the south. Yennefer one of the most powerful Wizards and sometimes lover of Geralt from The Last Wish steps in to train and care for Ciri. We learn about their system of magic which was very detailed, but the book ends abruptly to the point where I thought the publisher left out a chapter. Apparently this is just the start of a 5 book saga so perhaps it is setting things up on a grand scale. Sapkowski does a great job of developing Ciri and Yennefer and gives a lot more insight into their world and history so I am hoping for the best. The Witcher is still a very mysterious character and leaves you wanting for more of him.

A well written and translated book it loses some of the appeal of the first book The Last Wish, but it is still a worthy read I only wish Orbit would release them closer together. I give Blood of Elves 7 out of 10 hats. That said I'll stick in there for the next volume Times of Contempt to see if all this built up was worth it. I also learned that there is a second book of short stories that follows the same format of The Last Wish still to be published in addition to many volumes that follow-up on the story line from Blood of Elves. I'd definitely be up for reading another short story collection.

Book Link: US Canada UK

ABC Flash Forward Series Picked-up for Series Run as follow-up to Lost

ABC has officially picked-up Flash Forward for a 13 episode order. The Hollywood Reporter has broken the news. This is very good news as most 1 hour series only get picked up for 6 episodes to start. The series will be based on the wonderful book Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer. If you've never read Sawyer before so yourself a favor and pick-up Flashforward or Calculating God. There is no one better at Sci-Fi today. The series is talked about to follow Lost although it is very different other than both shows deal with time anomalies. Flash Forward takes place after a global incident in which every waking person blacks out and flashes on where they will be in 6 months for less than 3 minutes. This is a little different than the book in that people flash about 20 years in the future instead, but regardless it is a great premise and is rife for exploiting different character view points through out the world. If you knew what was going to happen to you would you try to change it or doing everything you can to keep it? Would trying to keep your supposed future change the very outcome?

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW | The Mice Templar (Vol. 1) by Bryan Glass & Michael Avon Oeming (Image)

Ever since watching The Secret of Nimh when I was a child I have loved mice that fight. There has been a recent rash of anthropomorphisized mice with Mouse Guard, Fables' Mouse Police, and now The Mice Templar. While The Mice Templar holds some commonalities with Mouse Guard in that they are both comics/graphic novels it more than sets it self apart.

At its heart The Mice Templar is a coming of age story, but the authors have created a rich mythology behind the Templars. The Mice Templar begins 20 seasons after a schism within the ranks of the Mice Templar and which destroyed their group. The organization had originated more than 1,000 seasons in the past by the mythical warrior Kuhl-En in service to the God Wotan. The mad King Icarus is in league with rats and weasels to subjugate the mice populace. After the schism which claimed the lives of most Mice Templar some of remnants have gone into exile while others are in league with King Icarus. Rats come to Cricket Glen to enslave the mice citizens as they have done to other settlements. During the attack Karic, a young mouse, is separated from his family while fighting the rats.

As the battle rages Karic falls into a lake and was rescued by The Salmon of Wisdom who bequeaths him a magical water pouch, which turns out is cooler than you would think. The Salmon and many other elements of the story are based on Celtic mythology which are used to great effect. The Salmon also tell Karic he is to become the new Kuhl-En and is destined to rebuild the Templars. Karic leaves the village with a mysterious mouse named Pilot the Tall, who is an exiled Templar. Karic's family and friends are taken prison to the Capital where many other tribes have been gathered. Karic and Pilot travel the Barren lands as they are being followed. Along the way Pilot takes him on as his apprentice and teaches Karic the way of the Templar. They battle ravenous ant-like creatures, which the Templars were supposed to have driven from the land many generations ago.

Together they travel to the Great Ash Tree, where an enclave of mice Templar priests known as The Readers of the Wheat live. Pilot hopes for Karic to be taken in for both their protection. It is revealed that Pilot is not trusted by this group and and may be the one to cause the attack on Karic's home. Pilot is driven off, but Karic is taken in as the Readers believe Karic could lead to the Templar's flourishing again.

The Mice Templar is bound to become a modern classic that is cherished and re-read for years. It would certainly make for a good movie or animated TV series. The artwork is gorgeous as is the packaging which includes a nice ribbon bookmark a feature I didn't realize until I needed one. (Hey there's a ribbon!) The hardcover edition comes with loads of extras including a brief history of the Templars, their mythology, as well as the original Templar comic from 2003 that was the basis for the series. This is definitely in the same class as the Absolute Sandman's DC is releasing. The paperback version will be released in June, but I do suggest picking up the hardcover as it is truly beautiful to behold. I give The Mice Templar 9.25 out of 10 hats. Do yourself a favor and pick it up as you'll be sure to share it with your children when they are ready. Check out a free Mice Templar short story here.

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Game of Thrones HBO Show Confirms Peter Dinklage as Tyrion

Grame Adam at Wertzone has done a good job of describing the situation here. But to suffice it to say this is the best casting choice for Tyrion Lannister I could ever imagine.

Patrick Rothfuss new short story???

I just found out that in The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2009 Edition a short story will be included from Patrick Rothfuss author of the fantastic The Name of the Wind. The most likely culprit is The Road to Levinshir which was in Subterranean Tales of Dark Fantasy the $75 limited edition anthology that was out of most fans price range. This story is supposed to be a chapter or two from The Wise Man's Fear. If anyone has any other clue please post away. This could be a nice hold over for us since The Wise Man's Fear still has no official release date. Also, if you haven't read Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind shame on you and get to it.

REVIEW | The Walls of the Universe by Paul Melko (Tor)

The Walls of the Universe is based on the novella of the same name, which was voted the best story by Asimov's Science Fiction in 2006. I never read the original novella, but I can certainly see how it won such accolades. The plot is fairly straight forward. What if a duplicate of you were to show up from another universe? Would you trust them? Should you trust them? Farm boy John Rayburn from universe 7533 is visited by another John Rayburn thereafter called John Prime. Prime has a device which allows him to travel different dimensions, which he gives to Rayburn who tries it out but quickly realizes Prime tricked him and can't go home. The device can only travel in one direction. From there the story splits in 2 with one part following Prime trying to take Rayburn's place as he is tired of traveling the multi-verses while also "inventing" technology that he knows about from other universes that haven't been developed in 7533. In this case Rubik's Cube. Rayburn travels down the dimensions trying to figure out what to do and ends up putting down roots in a random universe where he has no counter part just so he can figure out the inner workings of the device in hopes of going home. The ideas Melko came up with for some of the alternative universe were great fun. What would the world be like if Clinton was elected a term earlier? What would the world be like if the Visigoths defeated the Romans? Rayburn attends college to try to get a better grasp of science to hopefully reverse engineer the device or at least repair it so he can go home. Rayburn makes a few friends and accidentally tells them about pinball, which doesn't exist in this universe. Intrigued his friends talk him in to building a machine, which they change to a head-to-head pin ball machine. I was interested enough in this idea to do some searching and found this:

I'd love a chance to play a few rounds of head-to-head pinball. The friends build a prototype, which is an instant success and snowballs into a company. From there Rayburn meets a group of stranded dimension hoppers and learns they are singletons who have been stuck in this universe for 50 years while making money off of technology not from this dimension. Singletons are people that have no counterparts throughout the dimensions. This particular people were part of a group bent on dominating multiple universes who were thwarted by another group even more powerful. While all of this is going on Prime is married to the girl he has loved throughout his dimensional trips and leads him into a major run-in with the same bully that keeps popping up every other dimension.

The story wraps up well, although not wholly original in some concepts Melko was able to create characters that the reader can connect with along with some fun ideas on the differences between the universes. Melko has laid down plenty of notions to mine for future stories in this multi-verse so I hope to see another one with a grandeur scale involving the other dimensional travelers and a trip to the universe that created the traveling device. I give The Wall of Universes 7 out of 10 hats. Book Link: US Canada UK

Wisdom Tree Bookshelf

I'm a fan of unusual book cases and I found this on Contemporist. Spanish designer Jordi Milà has created the Wisdom Tree bookshelf. From Jordi Milà:

The Wisdom Tree is for people who see books as a source of knowledge and emotions and not simply as decorative objects. Its fluid and organic shape is inspired by growth of a plant. The books that represent the fruit of knowledge are supported by pieces covered in leather.
Visit Jordi Milà’s website - here.