Blog Archive

View My Stats
Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spotlight on October Books

This month we are featuring 36 books. There are more than twice as many new sff and related releases this month in traditional publishing not to speak of the countless indies from Amazon and Smashwords but we are limiting ourselves to books that will be reviewed here or are similar with such. For the full schedule of October 2012 titles known to us, you can consult the Upcoming Releases page.

The release dates are US unless marked otherwise, though for books released in the UK and US in the same month but on different dates we generally use the US  date and they are first edition unless noted differently. The dates are on a best known basis so they are not guaranteed; same about the edition information. 

Since information sometimes is out of date even in the Amazon links we use for listings, books get delayed or sometimes even released earlier, we would truly appreciate if you would send us an email about any listing with incorrect information. 

 *********************************************************************


Mage's Bloodby David Hair. Release Date: October 1, 2012. Published by Jo Fletcher Books. (FAN).
The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer. Release Date: October 2, 2012. Published by Night Shade Books. (FAN).
Daughter of the Sword” by Steve Bein. Release Date: October 2, 2012. Published by Roc. (FAN).
Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman. Release Date: October 2, 2012. Published by Ace. (FAN/MISC).
Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Release Date: October 2, 2012. Published by Thomas Dunne Books. (HF / US Debut).
Skarlet by Thomas Emson. Release Date: October 2, 2012. Published by St. Martin’s Griffin. (HF / US Debut).

 *********************************************************************


Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey. Release Date: October 2, 2012. Published by Roc. (UF).
Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. Release Date: October 2, 2012. Published by Tor. (FAN).
Fire Season by David Weber & Jane Lindskold. Release Date: October 2, 2012. Published by Baen. (YA).
London Eye by Tim Lebbon. Release Date: October 2, 2012. Published by Pyr. (YA).
Quantum Coin by E.C. Myers. Release Date: October 2, 2012. Published by Pyr. (YA).
The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke. Release Date: October 2, 2012. Published by Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry. (YA).

 *********************************************************************


The Second Shipby Richard Phillips. Release Date: October 2, 2012. Published by 47North. (SF).
The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks. Release Date:  October 9, 2012. Published by Orbit. (SF).
Harvest by William Horwood. UK Release Date: October 11, 2012. Published by Pan Macmillan. (FAN).
The Twelve by Justin Cronin. Release Date: October 16, 2012. Published by Ballantine. (SF/MISC).
The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Z. Danielewski. Release Date: October 16, 2012. Published by Pantheon. (WEIRD/MISC).
The Secret Keeperby Kate Morton. Release Date: October 16, 2012. Published by Atria. (MISC).

 *********************************************************************


“Swimming Home” by Deborah Levy. Release Date: October 16, 2012. Published by Bloomsbury. (MISC).
Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson. Release Date: October 16, 2012. Published by Bloomsbury. (MISC).
The Middle Kingdom by David Wingrove. Release Date: October 18, 2012. Published by Corvus. (SF).
The King’s Assassin by Stephen Deas. UK Release Date: October 18, 2012. Published by Gollancz. (YA).
“Tom Swan and the Head of St. George: Part 3 Constantinople” by Christian Cameron. Release Date:  October 18, 2012. Published by Orion. (SERIAL/MISC).
Red Country” by Joe Abercrombie. UK Release Date: October 18, 2012. Published by Gollancz. (FAN).

 *********************************************************************


Luminous Chaos by Jean-Christophe Valtat. Release Date: October 23, 2012. Published by Melville House. (STPK).
The Art Forger by B.A Shapiro. Release Date: October 23, 2012. Published by Algonquin Books. (MISC).
Jam by Yahtzee Croshaw. Release Date: October 23, 2012. Published by Dark Horse. (MISC).
The Night of the Swarm by Robert V.S. Redick. UK Release Date: October 25, 2012. Published by Gollancz. (FAN).
The Red Knight by Miles Cameron. UK Release Date: October 25, 2012. Published by Gollancz. (FAN).
Citadel by Kate Mosse. UK Release Date: October 25, 2012. Published by Orion. (MISC).

*********************************************************************


 “The Death of Light by Peter Crowther. Release Date: October 30, 2012. Published by Angry Robot. (SF).
Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom. Release Date: October 30, 2012. Published by Harper Voyager. (FAN).
Ghost Planetby Sharon Lynn Fisher. Release Date: October 30, 2012. Published by Tor. (SF). 
Black Flower by Young-ha Kim. Release Date: October 30, 2012. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (MISC).
The Lands of Ice & Fire by George R.R. Martin. Release Date: October 30, 2012. Published by Bantam. (MAPS/MISC).
The Tangled Bridge by Rhodi Hawk. Release Date: October 30, 2012. Published by Tor. (MISC).


Saturday, September 29, 2012

PRESS RELEASE: Nightmare Magazine and The Riyria Chronicles


John Joseph Adams and Creeping Hemlock Press are proud to present Nightmare, the new online horror magazine, which will be launched on October 1, 2012.

Nightmare is an online horror and dark fantasy magazine. In Nightmare’s pages, you will find all kinds of horror fiction, from zombie stories and haunted house tales, to visceral psychological horror. Edited by bestselling anthologist John Joseph Adams, every month Nightmare will bring you a mix of originals and reprints, and featuring a variety of authors—from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best new voices you haven’t heard of yet. When you read Nightmare, it is our hope that you’ll see where horror comes from, where it is now, and where it’s going.

It will also include nonfiction, fiction podcasts, and Q&As with our authors that go behind-the-scenes of their stories. The publication schedule each month will include two pieces of original fiction and two fiction reprints, along with a feature interview, an artist gallery showcasing our cover artist, and our monthly column about horror, “The H Word.” We will publish ebook issues on the first of every month, which will be available for sale in ePub format via our website and also available in other formats such as Kindle and Nook. We will also offer subscriptions to our ebook edition in a variety of formats. Each issue’s contents will be serialized on our website throughout the month, with new features publishing on the first four Wednesdays of every month.

Issue #1

As described above Nightmare will typically feature two original stories and two reprints in every issue. For our debut issue, however, we will be bringing you four all-new, never before published horror stories. Issue #1 will feature new fiction by the following authors: “Property Condemned” by Jonathan Maberry 
Frontier Death Song” by Laird Barron
 “Good Fences” by Genevieve Valentine
 “Afterlife” by Sarah Langan

Future Issues

Issue #2 (November 2012) will contain an all new tale from horror legend Ramsey Campbell, along with a new story by young writer Desirina Boskovich, as well as classic reprints by award-winning authors Joe Haldeman and Poppy Z. Brite. Future issues will contain work Daniel H. Wilson, Sarah Langan (a second story!), Jeff VanderMeer, Marc Laidlaw, Ted Kosmatka, J. B. Park, Tamsyn Muir, Matt Williamson, and more!

 So you can start getting your horror fix over at the Nightmare website as well pre-order the first issue copy!


Michael Sullivan’s newest series was announced just a couple of days ago and his next book will be The Crown Tower— a full-length Royce and Hadrian novel—and the first of The Riyria Chronicles, which is scheduled for release by Orbit in August 2013 in trade paperback, electronic book, and audio formats.

Here’s what Michael had to say about the prequel series:

 “The Riyria Chronicles, as I envision them, are stories that fill in the history of the twelve years of Royce and Hadrian’s life as Riyria. They will be generally standalone novels that I imagine will center on significant events in their career together, told mostly in order, and I was thinking one book for everyone of one their twelve years. That’s not to say I will write twelve books. This isn’t that kind of series. It’s not an ongoing tale or interconnected in the sense that Revelations was, or Song of Ice and Fire is."

"It really can’t be since if you’ve read The Riyria Revelations, you already know how everything turns out. So this won’t be a single story told in parts, but rather much more episodic like The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes or maybe the Dresden Files—only with medieval thieves instead of nineteenth century detectives or modern day wizards.”

"Chronicles will likely hit on topics hinted at in The Riyria Revelations that readers have asked about like the original Drumindor job, the disaster that was Blythe Castle, the Crown Tower heist as well as others never previously touched on. While I have several additional projects under production, The Riyria Chronicles allows me a framework to put out a new Royce and Hadrian story every so often, just for the fun of it without hampering me from stretching my authorial limits by discovering new characters and worlds to explore.“

For more info on the blurb, head over to the Orbit blog and keep an eye out for The Crown Tower next year.

NOTE: Announcements provided by John Joseph Adams and Michael J. Sullivan.
Friday, September 28, 2012

Spotlight on Some Recent SFF Titles of Interest (with comments by Mihir Wanchoo)


There’s only so much time I can spare towards reading and in an ideal world I would have read all of these titles by now. However since cloning hasn’t come of age, for now I’ll be doing a quick spotlight on all of them along with a few comments as I've read a bit of all except one. I will be trying my best to review them in the coming months over here or Bastard Books.


BETWEEN TWO FIRES by Christopher Buehlman 

Book Blurb - And Lucifer said: “Let us rise against Him now in all our numbers, and pull the walls of heaven down…” 

The year is 1348. Thomas, a disgraced knight, has found a young girl alone in a dead Norman village. An orphan of the Black Death, and an almost unnerving picture of innocence, she tells Thomas that plague is only part of a larger cataclysm—that the fallen angels under Lucifer are rising in a second war on heaven, and that the world of men has fallen behind the lines of conflict. 

Is it delirium or is it faith? She believes she has seen the angels of God. She believes the righteous dead speak to her in dreams. And now she has convinced the faithless Thomas to shepherd her across a depraved landscape to Avignon. There, she tells Thomas, she will fulfill her mission: to confront the evil that has devastated the earth, and to restore to this betrayed, murderous knight the nobility and hope of salvation he long abandoned. 

As hell unleashes its wrath, and as the true nature of the girl is revealed, Thomas will find himself on a macabre battleground of angels and demons, saints, and the risen dead, and in the midst of a desperate struggle for nothing less than the soul of man. 

Thoughts: With a premise very similar to The Crucible series by the late Sara Douglass, Christopher Buehlman’s sophomore effort came under my radar a bit later than I would have preferred. Mixing a metaphysical war within the historical premise of war-torn Europe that is also under the deadly grasp of the Black Death, makes for an exciting storyline. The author’s forte is supposed to be horror and so I look forward to his mix of medieval fantasy and horror. Readers can also read this excerpt to get started on this book that releases next week. 

************************************************************


LISTENING TO RAIN by Albert A. Dalia 

Book Blurb - China, 627 C.E. The Tang dynasty’s rule remains tentative after a decade of civil war. The rise of a new uncertainty in the far south thrusts the fledgling dynasty between its most powerful enemies in the north and the possible revolt of the southern aborigines. The emperor and his grand minister delegate a two-man assessment team – the Shaolin Blade, Tanzong and the Imperial Commissioner, Li Wei to travel into the southern regions and negotiate with the aboriginal leader. 

The first volume of this epic wuxia adventure tale follows the duo to the mysterious Isle of Pearls. To get there, they must use secret Taoist underground waterways, fight off the airborne attacks of the Thunder Lords, cross storm-tossed seas in a shaman’s bronze ship, and then sail aboard the Dragonfly, with the female aboriginal pirate captain, Byung Nhak, as she engages the local warlord, the Iron Shaman and his fleet of Seahawks. 

Their heroic journey continues into the center of the island through the unexplored “Land of Drifting Ghosts” mountain range in search of a legendary lost Buddhist monastery. While the long hidden Celestial Masters sect of Taoism and an enigmatic Tibetan princess pose an immediate threat, Tanzong’s internal conflicts offer the greater danger. The series, The Adventures of the Shaolin Blade Tanzong, will follow Tanzong’s adventures throughout the medieval Chinese empire. 

Thoughts: This book reminds me a lot of Barry Hughart’s Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox however this book is more grounded in history than mythology as was Barry’s seminal work. Again after reading the first few chapters, it has become apparent that the author has taken some liberties but promises a rousing story filled with action, wonder and mystery. Plus with such a stark but eye-catching cover by Jungshan Ink there’s much to admire in Albert Dalia’s historical fantasy series. Look forward to the review in the upcoming weeks of October. 

************************************************************


MAGE’S BLOOD by David Hair 

Book Blurb - For years the Leviathan Bridge was a boon for prosperity and culture. But when the Rondian Emperor turned his avaricious eyes toward it, peace became war. In successive crusades the Imperial legions and their mighty battle-mages plundered the East unopposed. 

Now the Moontide has come again, the Bridge is rising from beneath the waves, and the Third Crusade is poised for release. The board is set and the pieces are moving. But three lowly pawns, barely regarded, threaten the game: A failed mage, a jaded mercenary and a lowly market-girl are about to be catapulted into the maelstrom. Their choices and their courage are about to change the world. 

Come to Urte, where the moon covers half the sky and the tides render the seas impassable. Where windships ply the skies and magi with god-gifted powers rule the earth. Where East and West are divided by colour, creed, language and the sea, but drawn to each other irrevocably in a dance of life and death. The Moontide is coming, to sweep away all in its path. 

Thoughts: I’m currently reading this book and its turning out to a good read with a sweeping world scenario that is very reminiscent of the best epic fantasy has to offer. Additionally with a liberal dose of cultures similar to those of our world, the author has managed to build an interesting world scenario and back-history. Showcasing a clash between the western and eastern parts of world, in this case literally the author has spawned a story spanning many nations and characters that will leave a mark on the reader's minds.  Look out for the review next week (hopefully). 

************************************************************


GEARTEETH by Timothy Black 

Book Blurb - In 1890 a disease that turned sane men into ravenous werewolves erupted in the United States and soon spread to the rest of the world. On the brink of humanity’s extinction, Nikola Tesla and a secret order of scientists known as the Tellurians revealed a bold plan: the uninfected would abandon the Earth’s surface by rising up in floating salvation cities, iron and steel metropolises that carried tens of thousands of refugees above the savage apocalypse. The remnants of mankind huddled fearfully in the clouds, waiting for the werewolves to devour each other.

Yet twenty years later only one salvation city remains aloft, while the beasts still rule the world below. Time has taken its toll on the miraculous machinery of the city, and soon the last of the survivors will plummet to their doom. But when Elijah Kelly, a brakeman aboard the largest of the city’s Thunder Trains, is infected by the werewolf virus he discovers a secret world of lies and horrific experiments that hide the disturbing truth about the Tellurians. 

When the beast in his blood surges forth, Elijah must choose between the lives of those he loves and the city that is humanity’s last hope of survival. 

Thoughts: The blurb promises a steampunk story mixed with werewolves in an apocalyptic world setting, plus there’s the presence of Nicholas Tesla and airborne cities. How can one resist such a premise and after reading an excerpt I was hooked. Hopefully this book will deliver on its promising blurb as well as the aforementioned reasons, I will do my best to review it as well. Check out the first chapter on the author's website or download a sample from Amazon to get a better idea about the book. 

************************************************************


MINDING THE HEAVENS Part I: ELECTION by James Pyle 

Book Blurb - Minding the Heavens is a series of three novellas that chronicle the intersection of four distinct stories: 
1) Lawrence Fielding is in his mid-twenties, works for his uncle (whom he hates) and has recently broken up with his longtime girlfriend. He is determined to kill himself until a chance encounter with a man claiming to be the devil starts him down a path of curious, and seemingly inexplicable, incidence. 
2) Michael, once an angel of the Host of Heaven, is now a drunk who has wandered North America for the better part of five decades. 
3) Samuel is a reclusive assassin who, just as he decides to retire, is offered one final opportunity unlike anything he's ever done before. 
4) Diedrich Markus was, at one time, a promising young physicist. That is, however, until he published a paper claiming to have found evidence that the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics work differently within the Trans-America building in San Francisco. After several unaccounted years, Markus resurfaces at a small, decidedly hippy-like, university in Western Washington. 

Thoughts: Mea culpa it was the blurb again. This is one of the most enticing blurbs I have ever read. Mixing angels with physics and assassins promises to be a mad caper and from what I have read of the beginnings of this novella, this one is looking to be a terrific story with a strong Terry Pratchett-esque vibe to it. Also originally this series was titled The Zany Misadventures of Lucifer the Fallen One, now that should be a good indicator of what the plot of the book might entail. 

************************************************************


COLD IRON by Josh Loomis 

Book Blurb - Detective Morgan Everson has gotten pretty acquainted with death. She sees it all the time, especially working the Special Homicide division in Philadelphia. But this case is new. In this case, the victim of the murder is also a potential eye-witness. His name is Seth, and he was dead for thirty-five years before they found him wandering around a cemetery. 

A detective himself in the 1980s, Seth sets about putting together the pieces of the former life he can barely remember. In his wake, however, people who knew him start dying, and in particularly violent ways that put them squarely in Morgan's lap. She must discover the connection between Seth and the murders, even as Seth works to understand the whys and wherefores of his resurrection. The connection between the two may be the bullet found among his belongings. It is not jacketed in steel or made with silver, but instead has a core of cold iron. What it means, and the intent behind its creation, will change the lives of both detectives forever. 

What is the secret of Seth’s resurrection? Why are his old friends and acquaintances getting killed? And what is Morgan not telling him about this new world into which he’s awakened? 

Thoughts: I have read and thoroughly enjoyed this debut novella. I’ll be reviewing next week on Bastard books and all I can say about it is that this is a terrific story and I’m waiting anxiously to read the next book COLD STREETS. The author describes it “Law and Order meets World of Darkness” and while that estimation is pretty spot-on, there’s a lot more being left unsaid in regards to the mythology utilized and the world settings of the story. For more information about COLD IRON, hop onto HERE.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Great North Road" by Peter Hamilton (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

 

INTRODUCTION:  Peter Hamilton needs no introduction since he is one of today's leading science fiction writers and the ‘King’ of modern space opera. Even his second tier space operas are head and shoulders above most everything written in the genre. At his best like in The Night's Dawn trilogy which is my all time favorite finished sff series, or in “Pandora's Star” with its vividly described future and multilayered plotlines that converge in so many interesting and unexpected ways, the author evokes a sense of wonder that is unrivaled. 

On the other hand his standalone novel Fallen Dragon had great promise and a sweet wish fulfilling ending but ultimately lacked the sophistication of his main series as it was structurally weaker, so when another standalone, Great North Road, with the blurb below was announced, I was both very excited and a little worried how it will go.

"In Newcastle-upon-Tyne, AD 2142, Detective Sidney Hurst attends a brutal murder scene. The victim is one of the wealthy North family clones – but none have been reported missing. And the crime’s most disturbing aspect is how the victim was killed. Twenty years ago, a North clone billionaire and his household were horrifically murdered in exactly the same manner, on the tropical planet of St Libra. But if the murderer is still at large, was Angela Tramelo wrongly convicted? Tough and confident, she never waivered under interrogation – claiming she alone survived an alien attack. But there is no animal life on St Libra. 

 Investigating this alien threat becomes the Human Defence Agency’s top priority. The bio-fuel flowing from St Libra is the lifeblood of Earth’s economy and must be secured. So a vast expedition is mounted via the Newcastle gateway, and teams of engineers, support personnel and xenobiologists are dispatched to the planet. Along with their technical advisor, grudgingly released from prison, Angela Tramelo. But the expedition is cut off, deep within St Libra’s rainforests. Then the murders begin. Someone or something is picking off the team one by one. Angela insists it’s the alien, but her new colleagues aren’t so sure. Maybe she did see an alien, or maybe she has other reasons for being on St Libra ... In this stunning, standalone adventure, Peter F. Hamilton blends fast-paced narrative with vividly imagined future-worlds"

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: On finishing my first read of Great North Road, I was a little mixed: an addictive but very self-indulgent read, a new universe and a somewhat fresh take on the author's usual themes - long life, the rich, sense of wonder, detailed world building, "alien aliens" - but also same thematic repetitions becoming a bit too much; not to speak of pages after pages dedicated to the burning issue of identifying a missing taxi in the all-around surveillance world of the 2300's... 

I also thought that Great North Road was a book that should have been slimmed down considerably and could have easily done with much less from the Newcastle police investigation which takes probably about half the novel and gets very boring after a while. Similarly the parochial mannerisms from that thread are funny once or twice but get tired quite fast, with "pet" the worst offender by a lot.

On the second read when you know that you can skip a lot of the bloat and lose nothing, the novel improved in so far I knew to avoid the large chunk dealing with the Newcastle police investigation and just focus on Angela's saga which is actually excellent, so I suggest the following strategy to all the new readers, strategy that will improve considerably in my opinion your experience of Great North Road:

Read Angela's story and only browse through the Newcastle investigation; especially if you get stalled early into the book, start at page 232 and look up the first chapter with Angela in prison and then skip everything that takes place in Newcastle - no loss as anyway what happens there is updated for the heroes of the space opera part in a few lines every now and then - except towards the end when the stories converge; this way you will have one of the most gripping reads of the author as the space opera/planetary adventure part is superb.

The many details that add depth to the world building - the billionaire only planet Monaco - of course with lots of "non-citizen" help, the North clone brothers, their different paths and their many progeny which emphasize how the super rich will be always different, the personal story of Angela and of course lots more - are vintage Hamilton and I cannot emphasize enough how good are those 600 pages dedicated to the alien/Angela thread.

The tuckerization of fans and Tor people is a nice inside joke and it's good to see the coming of age of the online community expressed this way in important novels like Great North Road or Dance with Dragons; if you are not aware of this, it's worth digging a little for details.

Overall, Great North Road is a highly recommended novel of 2012, while missing my top 25 where I had expected it to place.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A MORE DIVERSE UNIVERSE: Celebrating People Of Color Speculative Fiction Authors (by Mihir Wanchoo)


I’m a bit too late to join this event but I think it deserves all the attention and praise it can get. Aarti of Booklust blog had posted about the initial announcement over on her blog in late August and these were the pertinent points highlighted in regards to the inception of this tour:

I've spoken on this blog (and in other forums) about the lack of diversity in fantasy fiction, particularly fantasy fiction of the epic nature. If epic fantasy has diversity, it is often present in a fashion that mirrors the stereotypes of Medieval Europe, with Viking-like invaders from the North and Infidels from the East and uneasy peaces and petty wars with those that look most like the heroes of the stories. This is unfair for many reasons that I hope I don't need to enumerate here. And of course, there are absolutely amazing authors whose books are populated by characters of every size, shape, color, and species.”

But it's still difficult and frustrating to be a fantasy reader who comes up against the same tropes in every book. Because while fantasy novels can be, well, fantastic, they can also be very repetitive and tell the same story with different character names. And I can't help but think that at least part of the reason is because of the lack of diversity in fantasy book authorship. Because it is hard to break into the fantasy genre as a new author, generally. And even more difficult if your book is about a person of color. And most difficult of all if you yourself are a person of color writing stories about characters of color.”

And so a small group of bloggers got together to create an event to fight this. And, as bloggers do, we decided to organize a blog tour. For one week in September (the week of the 23rd), we want ALL OF YOU fantasy/sci fi/magical realism readers (with blogs and without) to read a fantasy/sci fi/magical realism novel written by a person of color. And to write a review of that book! You know as well as I do that books succeed based on word of mouth and mentions and conversation, and this is where bloggers can help the MOST. Just read one book. And share your thoughts on that one book.”

There’s a lot more to it and the details in regards to what constitutes a piece written by an author of color as well as a “recommended reading list – People of Color in Fantasy literature” and much more can be found in that post (scroll all the way down). I thought this to be an initiative that’s worth highlighting and it has already begun with the schedule being posted over on Aarti’s blog:


SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23RD



MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24TH



TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25TH



WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26TH

12] Tracey - TBD 


THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27TH

1] Jessica @ Nisaba Be Praised
2] Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm - Fledging by Octavia Butler
3] Jeanne @ Necromancy Never Pays, Babel - 17, by Samuel R. Delaney
4] Fence @ Susan Hated Literature - TBD
5] Kelsey - Kindred, by Octavia Butler
7] Sabrina @ Following the Lede - TBD
8] Sandstone @ Reflections Without a Mirror - The Fall of the Towers, by Samuel Delaney
9] Terri @ BrownGirl BookSpeak - Fire Baptized, by Kenya Wright
10] Jae @ Book Nympho - TBD
11] Joanna @ Create Your World - White is for Witching, by Helen Oyeyemi
12] Kit @ orphans and animals - Huntress, by Malinda Lo
13] Vicki @ I’d Rather be Reading at the Beach - A Wish Before Dying, by Zetta Elliot
14] Rachel @ Resistance is Futile - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin
15] Sharon @ Library Hungry - My Soul to Keep, by Tananarive Due


FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28TH

1] Shivanee @ Novel Niche - Redemption in Indigo, by Karen Lord
3] Memory @ Stella Matutina - The Killing Moon, by N.K. Jeminsin
4] Vasilly @ 1330v - TBD
5] Lisa @ Starmetal Oak Reviews - Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor
6] Susanna @ SusieBookworm - Field of Honor, by D.L. Birchfield
7] Amber @ A Morose Bookshelf - Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor
8] Laura @ Ruby Bastille - TBD
9] Stacy @ The Novel Life - TBD
10] Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness - TBD
11] Cathy @ Cathy Ostlere’s Blog - The Night Wanderer, by Drew Haydon Taylor
12] Elizabeth @ As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves - When Fox Was a Thousand, by Larissa Lao
13] Lambert @ L. Lambert Lawson - Zahrah the Windseeker, by Nnedi Okorafor
14] Akila @ The Englishist - The House of Dies Drear, by Virginia Hamilton
15] Alpa @ 1 More Page Please - TBD
16] Micah @ Hypocritical Hyperbole - TBD
17] Amy @ Amy Reads - Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor
18] Rachel @ Resistance is Futile - Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor
19] Sudha @ BookLust - Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed


SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29TH

1] Sheila @ Book Journey - 47, by Walter Mosley
2] Jodie @ Book Gazing - Redemption in Indigo, by Karen Lord
3] Rachel @ Resistance is futile - Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith, by Gina B. Nahai
4] Sharikquh @ Kesabaran - TBD
5] Alex @ Randomly Reading - Huntress, by Malinda Lo
7] Starr @ The Literati Press - Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler
8] Bellezza @ Dolce Bellezza - Woman in the Dunes, by Kobo Abe
9] Shelley - TBD
11] Alpa @ 1 More Page Please - TBD

This list will be updated daily and so please check back on to the original scheduling page to see the most up-to-date nature of the blog tour. I would like to thank Aarti and all other bloggers for organizing this event and for all the time and hard work they put in for successfully running it. Lastly since I wasn't able to participate in this event, I’ll still be trying to review a book that fits under the canopy of this blog tour. As luck would have it, I recently read a great debut that I believe, fits the billing perfectly so look out for the review of GOVINDA by Krishna Udayasankar on the 3rd of October.

NOTE: Both pictures courtesy of Booklust blog and A More Diverse Universe Blog Tour.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Three Short Reviews: "Swimming Home" by Deborah Levy, "The Lighthouse" by Alison Moore and "The Dinner" by Herman Koch (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)



  "As he arrives with his family at the villa in the hills above Nice, Joe sees a body in the swimming pool. But the girl is very much alive. She is Kitty Finch: a self-proclaimed botanist with green-painted fingernails, walking naked out of the water and into the heart of their holiday. Why is she there? What does she want from them all? And why does Joe's enigmatic wife allow her to remain?

A subversively brilliant study of love, Swimming Home reveals how the most devastating secrets are the ones we keep from ourselves"


Swimming Home is a short, powerful novel that just "lives" through its characters and its narrative pull; from the Booker 2012 longlist my 3rd favorite novel and from the shortlist 2nd - I would not mind it winning however unlikely that is.

The setup is explained well in the blurb though there quite a few tidbits that are sprinkled throughout the novel and add a lot and yes there is this feeling of "incompleteness", of author could have written 400 pages and still have something to say about the four main characters of the book - the 57 year old poet Joe Jacobs - JHJ - Holocaust survivor and haunted by his perceived abandonment in a Polish forest at age 5 by his parents, however rationally known that was done to save his life as the parents and his young sister died in the Nazi extermination camps, his
mostly absent war correspondent wife Isabel, their 14 year old daughter Nina and the young Kitty Finch who comes and wreaks even more havoc in their unsettled lives - but so what, the book lives powerfully this way too and shows once again the distinction between books that pull one in and books that are crafted to win prizes.


 ***********************************************************

   
"The Lighthouse begins on a North Sea ferry, on whose blustery outer deck stands Futh, a middle-aged, recently separated man heading to Germany for a restorative walking holiday.

Spending his first night in Hellhaus at a small, family-run hotel, he finds the landlady hospitable but is troubled by an encounter with an inexplicably hostile barman.

In the morning, Futh puts the episode behind him and sets out on his week-long circular walk along the Rhine. As he travels, he contemplates his childhood; a complicated friendship with the son of a lonely neighbour; his parents’ broken marriage and his own. But the story he keeps coming back to, the person and the event affecting all others, is his mother and her abandonment of him as a boy, which left him with a void to fill, a substitute to find.

He recalls his first trip to Germany with his newly single father. He is mindful of something he neglected to do there, an omission which threatens to have devastating repercussions for him this time around.

At the end of the week, Futh, sunburnt and blistered, comes to the end of his circular walk, returning to what he sees as the sanctuary of the Hellhaus hotel, unaware of the events which have been unfolding there in his absence"


The Lighthouse is a short novel that epitomizes today's state of the art self-centered literary fiction and both what is right with it - occasionally excellent prose and moments of intensity - and what is wrong with it  - lots of pointlessness and "so, what, who cares?" stuff.

Not the weakest Booker shortlisted novel - hard to beat the joke played on the reader that's Umbrella - but a weakish novel for that level as basically it is much ado about nothing; still the writing is absorbing on occasion, but again more the pity that literary authors today are afraid to tackle big books and leave them to competent craftsmen like Ken Follett, though with Hilary Mantel's or Jonathan Littell's successes and the trickle of literary authors hitting it big in genre (see Justin Cronin) maybe the navel gazing of what passes for literary culture will change a little. 


An acceptable but not particularly recommended read beyond the interest from its Booker prize shortlisting.
 
***********************************************************




"It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse -- the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy."

The Dinner is a book that is written well and it is quite absorbing, while its controversial nature is more of a reflection of the conflict between the contemporary pc values and human nature than anything else as the decisions taken by the narrator and his wife would be quite uncontroversial in earlier times when family was paramount. So from this point of view, while the slowly increasing tension keeps one turning the pages, the book is ultimately relatively banal when you look at it from a historical perspective.
 
The other point that I think the book drives well home - intentionally or not - is how today's world is quite fragile and beneath the civilized facade lurk ancient demons, but that's a point that survivors of the attempt to create the "new human" during the last century collectivist dictatorships know very well, even if the contemporary trends towards collectivism in Europe tends to mask it beneath pc rhetoric; this of course until prosperity will break down and the ancient demons will resurface, so The Dinner does well as a warning too: better keep the (relative) prosperity rolling at all costs...


Recommended though not as controversial or as cutting edge as it was made to be.


Monday, September 24, 2012

The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Website 
Order “The Tainted CityHERE 
Read the first two chapters HERE 
Read FBC’s Review of The Whitefire Crossing 
Read FBC’s Multi-Author Interview with Courtney Schafer 

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Courtney Schafer attended college at Caltech where she obtained a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and also learned how to rock climb, backpack, ski and scuba dive. She then earned her Masters at the University of Colorado. Courtney now works in the aerospace industry and is married to an Australian scientist who shares her love for speculative fiction and mountain climbing.

OFFICIAL BLURB: Dev is a desperate man. After narrowly surviving a smuggling job gone wrong, he’s now a prisoner of the Alathian Council, held hostage to ensure his friend Kiran — former apprentice to one of the most ruthless mages alive — does their bidding.

But Kiran isn’t Dev’s only concern. Back in his home city of Ninavel, the child he once swore to protect faces a terrible fate if he can’t reach her in time, and the days are fast slipping away. So when the Council offers Dev freedom in exchange for his and Kiran’s assistance in a clandestine mission to Ninavel, he can’t refuse, no matter how much he distrusts their motives.

Once in Ninavel the mission proves more treacherous than even Dev could have imagined. Betrayed by allies, forced to aid their enemies, he and Kiran must confront the darkest truths of their pasts if they hope to save those they love and survive their return to the Tainted City.

FORMAT/INFO: The Tainted City is 402 pages long divided over twenty-six numbered chapters. Narration alternates between Dev’s first-person POV and Kiran’s third-person POV. The Tainted City is the second book in The Shattered Sigil series. The third book, The Labyrinth Of Flame will provide a conclusion to this series.

September 25 2012 marks the Trade Paperback publication of The Tainted City via Night Shade Books. Cover art is provided by David Palumbo.

ANALYSIS: Courtney Schafer’s debut was one that was highly appreciated over here at FBC as well as other places on the blogosphere. I loved it and consequently it was #5 in my list of the 2011 top ten debuts. Based on the blurb details, one can make out that this time the story faces a reverse pattern, previously both characters were racing towards the Alathian border but this time they are coming back to Ninavel and it doesn't look like they might get a pleasant reception.

The actual plot opens with Dev being stuck to mine work as part of his punishment in smuggling goods across the border. Kiran on the other hand has been all but magically handicapped as his magic is just anathema to the Alathian magic moral code. Things have been a bit tumultuous with the Alathian borders facing a strange magical assault. The Alathians are forced to send a covert team to Ninavel from wherein these waves seem to emanate and it has been targeting the Ninavel power confluence as well. Kiran is very hesitant to join the Alathian team, as this will lead him right back in to Ruslan’s backyard, a situation he desperately wants to avoid. Dev on the other hand, is in two minds about the  trip but will be forced to go as his concern for Melly outweighs his personal concerns. The party selected to go to Ninavel will have to be on their guard as they are entering a nest wherein nobody can be trusted and there are more dangers than previously thought of.

This book is a very good sequel to The Whitefire Crossing and in many ways a book that is as different from its predecessor as oranges and apples. This book is a reverse journey for the characters, who go from Alathia to Ninavel and the reader gets a good feel as to why Ninavel is considered by many to be so dangerous. The storyline is drastically different in the style utilized as while the first book was very much an adventure thriller in the vein of James Rollins’ books, focusing on the Whitefire Mountain terrain that was so vividly described. This book is more akin to a Noir-mystery with multiple twists similar to Steve Hamilton’s stories wherein the protagonists and readers are equally in the dark.

The characterization is top notch similar to the first book and follows the curious pattern of Dev in the first and Kiran in the third-person narrative. This time around the side character cast is visibly widened. Kiran’s mage comrades Ruslan, Mikael and Lizaveta are given center stage as we get a detailed look into their way of life and behavior. It becomes very clear to the readers why Kiran was so wary and wanted to get away from them at any cost. Ruslan and Lizaveta’s behavior is sociopathic to say the least but the events that occur in the book reveal the depth of their cunning and determination to get things done their way. There are also quite some sexual shenanigans occurring in this story, which are again different from those in the first book. This curious turn of events harbors some dark forebodings and perhaps might be further explored in the concluding volume.

On the Alathian side there are a few new faces that get a chance to showcase their views on the usage of magic and also further complicate the relationship and view between the two primary protagonists. Dev’s past life (acquaintances, relationships, etc) also plays a huge role in the events of this book and the readers will truly appreciate the insight they offer about Dev. I was also very impressed by the world setting and nuances to this world created by Courtney. Beginning from the phrases utilized by the characters to the theology presented as well the cultures described; this world is a very rich one in terms of world-building factors. I think the author can perhaps explore other corners and timelines of the world once this story is over and I would be the first in line to read any book featuring such.

On the pacing factor, things don’t look so rosy for the first hundred pages when the story is being set up. The story seems to be stuck in stasis a bit however things do pick up once the crew reaches Ninavel and things soon go from bad to worse with a couple of plot twists. The author has to be lauded for making this story extremely unpredictable, beginning from the direction of the story to the style presented as well as the end twists. Nothing happens as expected for the characters and the readers will get to experience this form of literary confusion as well. Courtney Schafer is something of an enigma in terms of her writing as she allows to the story to go haphazardly as per the character dictates and yet it feels like part of her overall story plan. This curious move with the story direction is something that might stump a few of the readers who are looking for the action-oriented adventure feel of her debut. I would caution them not to throw in the towel but give the story a try as once they reach the end; they will get a definite idea about where the story is heading and what the climax entails for Dev, Kiran and the rest.

The only drawback to this story is the slow pace of the story within the first hundred pages but after that it’s a very good story with the twists coming left, right & center, leaving the reader and protagonists completely bewildered. The other deterrent to this fine mix is a personal nitpick, in regards to the lack of a map. I always prefer a map and in this case one of Ninavel as well as the terrain around it, is something that I would really loved to see. Also I would have liked if a glossary about the cultures, theology and nations of the world was also presented.

CONCLUSION: Courtney Schafer takes her story in a slightly different direction whilst never compromising on the positives that made her debut such a stand out one. This book is another excellent book from this very talented lady and I for one can’t wait to see how it all goes down in The Labyrinth of Flame. I hope that the author continues her superb writing form, and surprises us all in the exciting climax to the Shattered Sigil series.

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “The Abyss Beyond Dreams”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “Unholy War”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “Station Eleven”

Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “The Knight”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “The Dark Defiles”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “Tom Swan and The Siege of Belgrade 1”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “City of Stairs”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “Bete”
Review HERE