Monday, March 31, 2014

Games Creatures Play: Edited By Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner



Sports fans live and die by their teams’ successes and failures—though not literally. But these fourteen authors have written spirited—in more ways than one—new tales of killer competitions that would make even the most die-hard players ask to be benched.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris’s “The Blue Hereafter,” Manfred Bernardo learns about softball from a certain blond barmaid in Louisiana.

Life-and-death stakes make the competition get serious in New York Times bestseller William Kent Krueger’s “Hide and Seek.”

New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey’s “False Knight on the Road” features a high-stakes drag race on a foggy mountain road between a clever young bootlegger and a mysterious stranger.

In New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman’s “Ice,” a young girl learns the true story behind a bit of neighborhood folklore.

New York Times bestseller Seanan McGuire presents “Jammed,” in which a chimera loose during the Roller Derby makes it anyone’s guess as to who will still be skating by the time the buzzer sounds.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson’s “Dreamer,” a game of cops and robbers is a new challenge when the players are able to switch bodies at will.

And New York Times bestselling author Scott Sigler follows ghost stomper Hunter Hunterson as he investigates a haunted, never-ending baseball game in “The Case of the Haunted Safeway.”

These and eight more supernatural sporting stories are guaranteed to have you rooting for the home team…or else…

Who doesn’t love sports?

Sports contain some of the most emotionally charged suspenseful moments in human history, between last second shots in basketball or hockey, homeruns in the bottom of the ninth in baseball, or upsets in march madness (it being the season and all) we’re glued to sports. So it makes complete sense to have an anthology about monsters and other creatures that go bump in the night playing sports (one would think they would excel at them in fact.)

This anthology like many anthologies offers readers a great chance to become introduced to new and aspiring writers while at the same time getting a taste of continued greatness from talented writers that readers are already aware of. In this anthology I personally was excited to read Seanan McGuire and Brandon Sanderson’s additions. I was not disappointed.

Seanan McGuire takes readers into her Incryptid world. Fans of the series will enjoy reading a fun roller derby story from the youngest sibling (and only sibling not to get a book yet) Antinomy’s POV. Readers who have not read the series should read the series, not because they need to in order to understand this short story, just because it this is a fun and entertaining series. McGuire does a good job cramming action and a quick refresher for those who don’t know this series, and little pieces of info relating to the other books for those that do read the series (as well as the action of course.) All in all I liked this short story.

Sanderson’s story could be in a horror anthology and it would fit in great. The ramifications from his story are terrifying. It is very short, full of shocking action and deaths, and it is only at the end that you see the connection to the “games”. While I liked “Dreamer” I would have preferred to know more about these creatures and their “games”. All in all, not my favorite Sanderson short, but not bad by other writer’s standards.

As for the rest, Laura Lippman, William Kent Krueger, Scott Sigler, and the other author do a great job showing us more creature games. I would have preferred to see more traditional games told from monster perspectives (teen wolf playing basketball type of stories), but overall this was a good anthology that I fully recommend.


Publisher: Ace

Published: April 1, 2014

Price: $26.95

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Fortune's Pawn: By Rachel Bach



Devi Morris isn't your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It's a combination that's going to get her killed one day - but not just yet.

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn't misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she's found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn't give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.


Fortune’s Pawn is ok.

I loved Rachel Aaron’s other works (she’s writing under the pseudonym Rachel Bach for this series), and I think I raised my expectations a touch to high before starting this series. Don’t get me wrong Fortune's Pawn is not a bad book, but it's just not what I was expecting.

First, I was also slightly jarred by Bach’s primary character Devi. I had a hard time fully understanding and committing to Devi’s actions, which seemed to bring me out of the story a bit. On top of that, while this wasn’t a bad thing, I was unprepared for the amount of romance involved in Fortune’s Pawn.

Of course, besides those things, which were not bad things, they just were not what I was expecting, there were plenty of good things about Fortune’s Pawn. First off, there are plenty of action scenes and Bach does a fantastic job keeping her readers on their toes in these scenes, making sure to keep that fine line between keeping the adrenaline pumping yet describing the actions with enough details to know what’s going on without getting bogged down in unnecessary details. Bach also does a great job reeling out the mystery aboard the ship, readers will easily recognize that there is something odd about this ship and its inhabitants, but Bach does a great job keeping the readers guessing as to what is going on. Finally, Bach makes space armor awesome. I’d say she was a space armor enthusiast if it actually existed, she describes it so well. Heck authors of space operas and mech-warrior books should take note of the awesomeness that is Devi’s armor.

Therefore, because of all of these things I would recommend this book. It is not my favorite book, but I think I would have enjoyed it much more if I had known what those who have just read my review now know, so consider yourself fair warned. Knowing what I now know now I plan to read the next in the series and see if my now adjusted expectations lead me to more enjoyment. 


Publisher: Orbit Books

Published: November 15, 2013

Price: $15.00

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Words of Radiance: By Brandon Sanderson



Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi.

Now the Assassin is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin’s master has much deeper motives.

Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes." Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.

Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.

Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.


My level of excitement for this book knows no bounds.

Yes I was look forward to it, but I thought it would be good, but how could it be as good as the 1st book, which was one of the best epic fantasies, nay one of the best books I had ever read.

With that in mind, Words of Radiance is even better.

I honestly have no idea how Sanderson has done it. The second book in the series is supposed to be drier, build characters, but usually it just elicits more questions than answers and helps build the tension for later books in the series. Sanderson sidesteps all of this and delivers a book that not only will keep you reading night after night (it’s a big book), but manages to build on everything in the 1st in the series. The characters back stories are grown, the tension between the High lords AND with the void bringers are addressed, there’s so much action that even easily bored readers will not be able to put the book down, and he does it all while delivering so much surprise that readers will audibly gasp when certain events happen (I don’t want to spoil anything but let me just say I went back a few times and made sure I read things correctly the first time.)

All in all this book and this series is incredible. I don’t know how else to put it. If you can only read two books this year I’d recommend The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, yes these books are that good. I can’t wait to see what Sanderson does next with the series but do yourself a favor and go out and buy this book right now.


Publisher: Tor Books

Published: March 4, 2014

Price: $28.99

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The Fell Sword: By Miles Cameron



Loyalty costs money.

Betrayal, on the other hand, is free.

When the Emperor is taken hostage, the Red Knight and his men find their services in high demand -- and themselves surrounded by enemies. The country is in revolt, the capital city is besieged and any victory will be hard won. But the Red Knight has a plan.

The question is, can he negotiate the political, magical, real and romantic battlefields at the same time -- especially when he intends to be victorious on them all?


While I liked The Fell Sword I didn’t love it.

This was a little bit of a let down because I loved The Red Knight. I thought The Red Knight had complex characters, tons of action, and was a great mix of magic and physical action.

The Fell Sword still had complex characters and intricate plots, but there were to many characters introduced that it took away from the pacing of the story and knocked the reader a little out of the story. I recognize that Cameron wanted to set the pieces for the next book in the series, but I honestly felt that he could have done this with less moving parts.

Speaking of setting things up for the next book in the series, I was very disappointed with the ending of The Fell Sword. I thought Cameron kept building and building towards a big finish, and then not only wasn’t there a big finish, but I didn’t even think Cameron answered questions that needed to be answered in this book (as opposed to questions that are building towards larger story arcs in the next book in the series.)

That said, I still liked The Fell Sword. I thought it had good action and I liked the Red Knight and some of the other characters from the previous book in the series and thought some of the new characters such as Mortimir and Derkensun were great additions. All in all, as so much of The Fell Sword is used to set up the next book in the series, I can’t wait to see what Cameron has waiting for our band of mercenaries in the next book, and I hope it’s not to long of a wait.


Publisher: Orbit Books

Published: March 11, 2014

Price: $17.00

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Broken Homes: By Ben Aaronovitch



My name is Peter Grant, and I am a keeper of the secret flame -- whatever that is.

Truth be told, there's a lot I still don't know. My superior Nightingale, previously the last of England's wizardly governmental force, is trying to teach me proper schooling for a magician's apprentice. But even he doesn't have all the answers. Mostly I'm just a constable sworn to enforce the Queen’s Peace, with the occasional help from some unusual friends and a well-placed fire blast. With the new year, I have three main objectives, a) pass the detective exam so I can officially become a DC, b) work out what the hell my relationship with Lesley Mai, an old friend from the force and now fellow apprentice, is supposed to be, and most importantly, c) get through the year without destroying a major landmark.

Two out of three isn’t bad, right?

A mutilated body in Crawley means another murderer is on the loose. The prime suspect is one Robert Weil, who may either be a common serial killer or an associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man -- a man whose previous encounters I've barely survived. I've also got a case about a town planner going under a tube train and another about a stolen grimoire.

But then I get word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle, on a housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans, and inhabited by the truly desperate. If there's a connection to the Crawley case, I'll be entering some tricky waters of juristiction with the local river spirits. We have a prickly history, to say the least.

Just the typical day for a magician constable.

For those that don’t know Broken Homs is the forth book in Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series. This urban fantasy series is perfect for fans of Jim Butcher and Benedict Jacka (and fans of Aaronovitch should check out Jacka if they haven’t read his books either).

The first thing that I have to say about Broken Homes is that this is the first book that really extends the story arc from that of an episodic story with slight ties between books to that of a larger mystery that leaves readers eagerly awaiting more. Now, readers should be forewarned to pull off this transformation from episodic to building interconnected series Broken Homes ends with a huge cliff hanger that leave many readers groaning that they have to wait until the next book to see how it is resolved.

Besides this change in the story arc itself readers are treated to a larger dose of emotional confliction from Leslie which really helped build her into a much more three dimensional character. Of course, another added bonus of Broken Homes was finally getting to see Nightingale face off against someone, well sort of (the action takes place off screen) but considering I really want to see what he can do I like the direction that Aaronovitch is going with this.

All in all, Broken Homes is a great book. It has more action than the last book in the series, Whispers Under Ground, and it adds more to the larger plot and mystery that previous books in the series have only hinted at. It is well paced and as with each book in the series relationships become more complicated and characters are further developed. As mentioned before the only major downside is the cliffhanger at the end, but luckily the author and publisher planned for this as the next book in the series, Foxglove Summer, is scheduled to be released October 7th in the US, which is not that long of a wait.


Publisher: DAW

Published: February 4, 2014

Price: $7.99

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