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Thursday, September 30, 2010

"The Crown of the Blood" by Gav Thorpe (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

Official Gav Thorpe Website
Order "The Crown of the Blood" HERE

INTRODUCTION: "He had brought his master’s Empire to the furthest reaches of the world. All had fallen before him. Now he longs for home. But home isn’t what it was. Could it be that everything he’s fought for all those years has been a lie?"

When "The Crown of the Blood" was announced, I did not know more about it than the short blurb above; I had vaguely heard that the author is an experienced tie-in-writer and this was his original fantasy debut but somehow the blurb and cover sent "positive vibes" to me and they turned out to be justified.

FORMAT/CLASSIFICATION: "The Crown of the Blood" stands at about 460 pages divided into chapters headed by date and location. There is a prologue whose meaning becomes clearer later, while the novel ends with "A Guide to Greater Askhor, its Peoples, and Enemies" and Glossaries of People/Places/Creatures.

Narrated in third person with several POV's noted below, "The Crown of the Blood" is a trilogy debut that stands very well on its own though of course the story is to be continued. "The Crown of the Blood" starts as military fantasy, but later it goes beyond the subgenre into more complex stuff, so I would call it a military/epic story.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: "The Crown of the Blood" is set into a world that mixes Roman-style armies with middle-Eastern - from the Assyrian or Babylonian Empires of yore - customs and attitudes and with some magic. The legions and style of fighting resemble the Roman armies, but the Greater Askhos Empire's provinces resemble oriental satrapies rather than Roman provinces as do customs like a special brand of polygamy - the high nobles marry all the sisters from another noble family, custom that is quite important in the structure of the novel. The way the imperial power is structured resembles also the middle-Eastern experience as are the naming conventions.

The main character is Ullsaard, a General of the Greater Askhos Empire who raised himself from the provincial ranks with the patronage of General Cosuas his current co-commander of the legions sent to subdue a desert people and of Aalun, younger son of the old king Lutaar. Aalun is more or less in charge of the empire nowadays at least as an executive leader with Lutaar taking only crucial strategic decisions; the thorny issue is that since its founding 200 years ago by the legendary Askhos, the Empire's Crown of Blood - which may be linked to magic - has always passed to the oldest son, and the current elder prince is very sick, while his son who works as a staff officer for Ullsaard is both inexperienced and not really cut to be a leader.

Alluan sends Noran - a high noble of Askhos origin, friend of Ullsaard and "court herald" - to recall Ullsaard for "consultations"; Ullsaard has three sister wives which are quite different - beautiful, scheming, smart- and three grown sons, one from each: an officer in some provincial governor's standing legion, another - the eldest and the son of the middle scheming wife, a merchant/wheeler-dealer and the youngest a law student in the capital...

Despite the king's frailty and his acknowledgment of his eldest son' sickness and of his grandson' inaptness, the succession laws are not to be changed in favor of better suited Alluan, so Ullsaard and Noran for that matter are caught in the middle...

In a secondary thread that becomes important as the novel goes on, Anglhan is a "debt slaver" in the important but decentralized country of Salphoria who sits on the border of the Empire but so far has been protected by a treaty. While Askhos does not allow debt-slavery, this custom is cherished by the disunited clans of Salphoria; recently there have been risings of the poor against the rich and the nobility, so Anglhan has to tread softly.

"The Crown of the Blood" is another novel which has raised into my appreciation in the 2 1/2 months since I read it. The beginning and end of the novel are strongly mil-fantasy and at first they overshadowed a bit the character development and world building in the middle of the novel that takes it beyond the constraints of the military fantasy - "band of brothers", "blood and guts",..." subgenre.

So yes, it is still mostly men in arms, but there is intrigue too and the devious Anghlan steals the show in the second part while the several women that appear are developed somewhat beyond the stereotypes mentioned above. The book has also great narrative energy that keeps you turning the pages, while the world building has clearly been a labor of love for the author as the several appendixes at the end show.

As military fantasy "The Crown of the Blood" is at the top of the game with battles, personal combat, strategic decisions, logistic considerations and explicit gore, so all the elements we expect, while the story is reasonably straightforward though there is a fundamental twist I did not really see.

"The Crown of the Blood" (A+) shows how to expand a straight-up military fantasy novel beyond the constraints of the subgenre and make it richer and more complex, while delivering a reasonably self-contained story with an ending that makes one wish to have the next installment soon to see where the story goes.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"The Cold Kiss" by John Rector (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official John Rector Website
Order "The Cold Kiss" HERE

John Rector lives with his family in Omaha, Nebraska. He's an accomplished short story writer who has contributed fiction to several publications, including The Seattle Review, Black October Magazine, NFG, The Edge: Tales of Suspense, The 13th Warrior Review, Prose Ax. He also won the Porterhouse prize.

John Rector has worked previously as musician, Mac technician, network engineer, etc. He previously e-published his book "The Grove" which became an Amazon bestseller & now will re-released by Amazon's Encore publishing arm, while this book is his print debut. It has also been optioned and a film is in development.

BOOK BLURB: All Nate and Sara want is a new life in a new town, away from the crime and poverty of their past. So, after being approached at a roadside diner by a man offering $500 for a ride to Omaha, they wonder if their luck might be changing. At first it seems like easy money, but within a few hours the man is dead.

Now, forced off the road by a blizzard and trapped in a run-down motel on the side of a deserted highway, Nate and Sara begin to uncover the man's secrets. Who he was, how he died, and most importantly, why he was carrying two million dollars in his suitcase. Before they know it, Nate and Sara are fighting for their lives, and in the end, each has to decide just how far they are willing to go to survive.

FORMAT/INFO: Page count is 285 pages divided over forty-three chapters, three parts and a geographically titled section which serves as an epilogue of sorts. The narration is in the first person from Nate's POV. The Cold Kiss is a solo thriller.

ANALYSIS: John Rector's The Cold Kiss opens up in a café and introduces us to the main characters, Nate who is contemplative and reserved & Sara who's talkative and extrovert. They wish to escape their previous lives and get away from Minnesota and all the snow. Their destination is Reno and they can't seem to go there any faster. On a routine pit stop at a café, Sara notices another customer who's coughing as if he were terminal ill. She asks Nate to check him up and though her partner is a bit reluctant, he complies. However his cordial questions are rebuffed and the man leaves.

As soon as they fill up their gas tanks and are about to leave, the man with the cough returns and introduces himself as Sylvester White and offers them five hundred dollars for a ride to Omaha. Nate is still hesitant, but Sara jumps at the opportunity and agrees to take him along.

On the way, Sylvester's cough worsens and they have to make a stop as the snow storm catches up with them. They find a slightly rundown motel which luckily offers them succor. Checking upon Sylvester, they are surprised to find blood soaked bandages on his chest and the mystery man appears to be near death's door. What is extraordinary about the situation is that they also find almost two million dollars upon him & now they have to make some hard decisions as to what they will do regarding the cash and the near-dead man with them.

From here the story kicks into high gear as the choice Nate makes, leaves them suspicious about everyone. What further complicates their stay in the motel is that the people around them appear to be equally laconic and a bit strange. The plot then kicks in as the reappearance of a certain thing causes even more grief for Nate & Sara.

The story virtually explodes as circumstances keep on changing and suspicions arise about Nate and Sara. They are forced to make harder choices which keep on unraveling. Also what goes against them is the fact that both of them are young people who have had previously troubled lives and therefore are damaged in their own ways. Psychologically, they aren't equipped for such circumstances, especially Nate who is haunted by his headaches as well as his past mistakes.

As the story unfolds there are revelations about his past which showcase him in a totally different light. The night wears on and the other characters in the motel start interacting with Nate & Sara and perhaps get a clue as to what might have happened to Sylvester. Finally in this mix is also the name which Sylvester keeps on muttering to himself before his lapsing into unconsciousness - Lilith who is the woman that Sylvester is running away from.

John Rector has delivered a very taut tale which will keep the readers on their strung nerves as frequently the tale twists and then turns making it very hard to guess the eventual outcome. The added claustrophobia of the snowed-in motel, the devious nature of the tale and the quite difficult to decipher characters were main draws for me. The novel is set within the space of 2-3 days and the author keeps an unrelenting pace.

I read The Cold Kiss within one sitting as the story kept me hooked from its beginning, all the way to its gruesome end. The prose is very effective and manages to draw the reader in, whilst not being overtly dramatic.

The Cold Kiss is a very accomplished print debut for John and this also led me to read his previously published book "The Grove" which was a horror-thriller with elements of the fantastic and it was possibly one of the darkest themed books I have ever read. I'll be reviewing "The Grove" around its release date in November.

Thus after reading both of his titles I can safely vouch that John Rector is one of this year's talents so don't be shy to give "The Cold Kiss" a try and find out why this guy has been perceived by many as a superb story teller.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"The House on Durrow Street" by Galen Beckett (Review by Liviu Suciu)

Official "Galen Beckett" Website
Order "The House on Durrow Street" HERE
Read an Excerpt from "The House on Durrow Street"
Read FBC Review of The Magicians and Mrs Quent

INTRODUCTION: Published in 2008 by an experienced author under a pseudonym, The Magicians and Mrs Quent was a book that charmed me, while the twists and turns of the story made it go beyond the mixture of "classics" the novel was clearly inspired by.

A bit surprisingly, The Magicians and Mrs Quent stayed with me much more than I expected at the time, so when an arc of The House on Durrow Street made its way to my house, I put down everything I was reading at the time. I first started rereading The Magicians and Mrs Quent since The House on Durrow Street picks up exactly where that one ends. When I finished reading it, there was no doubt this time that The House on Durrow Street will be a top fantasy of mine in a very strong 2010 in the genre, while its world made my list of Interesting SFF Universes.

FORMAT/CLASSIFICATION: The House on Durrow Street stands at about 685 pages and is divided into two parts and 43 numbered chapters. Most of the characters from The Magicians and Mrs Quent return in three major threads that have Ivy, Mr. Rafferdy and Eldyn and Dercy as POV's respectively.

The House on Durrow Street
is quite original, moving away completely from the classics and into pure fantasy with magic, illusions and "witchcraft" and actually a lot of them, so it belongs to the "pseudo-Earth with magic" sub-genre in the vein of the superb Sean Russell's Magic and Moontide and River into Darkness series.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: My favorite thread of the novel and I would say the most important thematically is the one that follows Ivy. She is now restoring the *House on Durrow Street* of the title, so she can live there with her husband and sisters and eventually her father. But as befits the former abode of a powerful magician and as we slowly find out, a line of magicians too, the house itself is a powerful magical locus with lots of "stuff" inside.

Ivy is now accepted at the highest levels of society - though few know her powers and even fewer her mysterious background of which one issue is still a mystery with possibly large implications - but she discovers that life at that level can be both interesting and frustrating, while friends and foes are not so easy to discern.

I also liked Mr. Rafferdy's thread since despite his "
gentleman wastrel" appearance, Rafferdy is as likable a character as Ivy. He is now in a funk for obvious reasons, though he manages to keep himself busy attending the Assembly in the place of his ailing father. Despite trying to avoid both things, he gets himself sucked back into magic and he returns to Ivy's orbit however emotionally painful that is for him - after all the pair of them: magician and witch is almost unstoppable as we clearly saw in The Magicians and Mrs Quent.

The third thread follows Eldyn and Dercy and it took lots of pages, being developed to a surprising end. This storyline is quite important for "depth reasons" since through the eyes of the two, we see the world of Altania from the
viewpoint of the less privileged. Here The House on Durrow Street goes way beyond the classics that inspired it (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre...) into social commentary. Class, "official morality", official belief system are all challenged and dissected. The conflicted Eldyn who must choose between his "beliefs" and his love for Dercy becomes one of the strongest characters of the series.

The House on Durrow Street is a novel of manners, wit, great characters and immersion in a world that is lovingly described. The intrigue and suspense build slowly, but when it is time for action, Ivy and Mr. Rafferdy do not hesitate and they turn their wits and powers once more to protect Altania from occult dangers, while Mr. Quent and the king's secret police led by Lady Shayde protect it from more mundane ones.

Dark times are announced for Altania and the world and while Ivy and Rafferdy may save the day one more time here, the next time the enemy may be just too powerful. Well, we will see that of course. Despite being a middle book in a trilogy, the novel provides a very satisfactory reading experience on its own and ends at a natural stopping point.

The House on Durrow Street (A++) is one of those novels that stay with you for a long time and I plan to reread the whole series across the years. Despite its almost 700 pages bulk, I just hated that it ended and there are few books I feel that strongly about.
Monday, September 27, 2010

Guest Author(s) Post: Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett on Writing Collaboration

Fantasy Book Critic is pleased to present Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett. They are the authors of the "Mechanical Dragons" series, of which Havemercy was published in 2008, Shadow Magic in 2009, Dragon Soul in June 2010, while the fourth installment Steelhands is on track for a 2011 publication date.


The one thing people ask about Havemercy most often is, "Wait—you wrote the manuscript in how many days?" And then, sheepishly, one of us answers the same as always: "Well… Yeah, it was eighteen days, I guess." Because it's true, and that's exactly how long it took to write the first draft of the first book we'd ever manage to get published. It was a frenzy of ideas, of trying to make our schedules fit, of writing in between shifts at Starbucks or while editing a country decorating magazine. From start to finish, we didn't eat much or sleep much, and our entire lives were spent waiting for the next part to show up in our inboxes. At no point did we have any idea how the book was going to end. We just had a handful of characters, a whole lot of enthusiasm, and the desire to figure out what was going to happen for ourselves. Except when we were finished, we just didn't want to let go. Our brains were still firing on all cylinders; we were going a million miles a minute, just because we felt too lonely to let those characters go.

As much fun as it was at the time, and as fondly as we do speak of those blissful days, we never wrote a book like that again. And there are so, so many reasons why.

Havemercy underwent a lot of transformations after those eighteen days, first with a few trustworthy readers, then with our agent, then with our editor. And, admittedly, that process might have been a whole lot easier if we hadn't written the book in (yeah, we guess) eighteen days. It was the first time either of us had to edit something more than a college paper, where the most you have to do is tweak for grammar and maybe change the conclusion to be a little punchier.

Massive rewrites? A ten page edit letter? What did our agent see in us? What did our editor see in us? Maybe they'd all made some horrible mistake—and maybe we'd made a horrible mistake, too. It was pretty overwhelming at the time, and if we hadn't been working together, afraid of letting each other down by dropping the ball, we might just as easily have let the panic take control. Who knows where that manuscript would be right now if we'd let that happen? Who knows where we'd be?

Fortunately, we did have each other, three packages of multicolored post-it notes, and that same nervous thrill as when we finished the "final" page of Havemercy: not to let the characters we loved so much down by keeping them hidden away on some word document, buried in our inboxes.

Still, a lot has changed since that first manuscript and the two most recent ones we turned in, our third and fourth books—Dragon Soul and Steelhands, respectively. Both were ideas we had right when we finished Havemercy and we needed to combat that sudden loneliness, and both were ideas that changed massively from the first inception to the final draft that our editor gave her mark of approval. Not that we knew what was happening at the time, but in writing multiple manuscripts, we actually started to learn something about writing. Crazy when that happens, right?

For two people who used to feel like the magic spark of a good idea would die if we didn't pound out the pages as fast as we possibly could to start slowing down and planning things seemed pretty impossible at first. We're both incredibly impatient writers, who like to discover things as we go along, and neither of us likes to be kept waiting. But a book doesn't exactly work like that. The reader needs to experience that surprise, but it's probably not for the best if the writers are just as surprised as the readers are every step of the way. Neither of us worked too well with a plan—we liked to think of ourselves as being charmingly spontaneous—but because we'd had these ideas for so long, it became natural to do the unthinkable…and start working with an outline.

Not only that, but we wanted to get back to telling all the tales we'd missed out on in Havemercy. We wanted to get back to the stories that had fallen by the wayside because we were moving so fast, afraid we'd lose steam if we started to slow down. There are so many details we only had the chance to touch upon in our first book that we find ourselves coming back to, time and time again, searching to expand and, hopefully, to improve upon that original ideal, that spark that really got our engines going. Mechanical dragons.

It worked out the first time, crazy as it sounded at the time. But we still want to make it better. We want to make it work even more.

There's something in between slamming on the brakes and stepping on the gas, even if neither of us is all that good at cruise control. The problem for us has never been a lack of ideas, but of trying to refine them, not to mention trying to find the right pace. If we've learned anything between writing our first book and writing our fourth, it's that not everything has to happen immediately. If we're not able to write a book in a month, it's not the end of the world, but rather a sign that we're taking the time to do some self-editing. And hopefully our editor ends up grateful, too.

Collaborating on a book definitely allows us, as writers, to work at a more rapid tempo than either of us would be able to do separately. However, we've also learned a lot about how to maximize our productivity so that the end result is something we can be proud of—or at least something we can criticize a little less. We both like to think that it's no coincidence that our fourth book, Steelhands, had the least structural edits to date. (But it still had a ten page edit letter.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The First 2011 Major Fantasy Titles I Have - "The Hammer" by KJ Parker and "The Fallen Blade" by JC Grimwood

I have started to gather material for the list of my Anticipated Books of 2011, but in the meantime I want to talk a bit about the first two major fantasy novels from 2011 that I am very lucky to have got so far, one that I have recently read and already became a "hard to top" one, the other that will be my next read.

For readers familiar with KJ Parker's work, The Hammer can be summarized as the family drama of The Fencer series, the driven hero of The Folding Knife and the setup of The Company.

I put a long mini-review of The Hammer on Goodreads and opened a thread on sffworld and of course a full review of it and of the author's superb novella "Blue and Gold" (mini-review on Goodreads too) will come here in due course, while in the meantime you can also see my take on The Scavenger series, The Folding Knife, Purple and Black and the anthology story A Rich Full Week.

The Hammer is one of those "gotta work hard" to top it books.


Jon Courtenay Grimwood is one of the contemporary masters of sf with 10 books which range from very good to superb - even his cyberpunk is still interesting today due to its alt-history setting - and he makes his fantasy debut in early 2011 with The Fallen Blade the first novel in the Assassini trilogy.

JCG's sf consists of four loosely linked cyberpunk novels set in an alt-history future: neoAddix, Lucifer's Dragon, reMix, RedRobe, the Ashraf Bey series: Pashazade, Effendi, Felaheen set in a different alt-history future and then the loosely linked contemporary sf trilogy: Stamping Butterflies, 9 Tail Fox and End of the World Blues.

JC Grimwood is an amazing writer and I have yet to be disappointed by any of his books - I read all of course - with RedRobe, Pashazade, Stamping Buterflies and End of the World Blues being my favorites.

Fallen Blade -
from which I read several pages and it starts awesomely so it will be my next read - starts in Venice of early 1400's where the descendants of Marco "Millioni" Polo rule as dukes and poison is the preferred way of settling disputes and ensuring successions - or maybe blades, not yet clear and there is a promised vampire too who is on the cover.

Here is the complete blurb:

"In the depths of night, customs officers board a galley in a harbor and overpower its guards. In the hold they find oil and silver, and a naked boy chained to the bulkhead. Stunningly beautiful but half-starved, the boy has no name. The officers break the boy's chains to rescue him, but he escapes.

Venice is at the height of its power. In theory Duke Marco commands. But Marco is a simpleton so his aunt and uncle rule in his stead. They command the seas, tax the colonies, and, like those in power before them, fear assassins better than their own.

In a side chapel, Marco's fifteen-year old cousin prays for deliverance from her forced marriage. It is her bad fortune to be there when Mamluk pirates break in to steal a chalice, but it is the Mamluks' good luck - they kidnap her.

In the gardens beside the chapel, Atilo, the Duke's chief assassin, prepares to kill his latest victim. Having cut the man's throat, he turns back, having heard a noise, and finds a boy crouched over the dying man, drinking blood from the wound. The speed with which the boy dodges a dagger and scales a wall stuns Atilo. And the assassin knows he has to find the boy.

Not to kill him, but because he's finally found what he thought he would never find. Someone fit to be his apprentice.

In the meantime you can download for free the author's debut Neoaddix HERE and read Robert's take on End of the World Blues.

Edit 11/22 I finished The Fallen Blade and it was mildly disappointing though I am still interested in the sequel.
Here are my quick thoughts (unedited and all) from Goodreads with a full review in due course:

I was somewhat disappointed in this book in the sense that i expected a blow me away A++ novel based on prior experience with the author's novels (read all 10 so far) and the premise of this one - alt-history fantasy set in an Earth with some magic in the early 1400's Venice.

The book has a lot of goodies: extremely good atmosphere, you can really visualize and even "feel" the Venice of 1400;s so good are the descriptions; great vivid characters in Tycho, Atilo, Giuletta, Desdaio, Alexa and several others and some twists and turns that are excellent, while all the world building and differences from our world are very well inserted at crucial points.

But the novel's style is very fractured, full of narrative walls, the book just does not flow which surprised me a lot. It is very "jerky" and the plot does not hold scrutiny in some key parts that seem to happen only because the author wanted it so his selected set of surviving characters could get away from hopeless situations which of course kill his "sacrifice" characters... No rhyme or reason beyond authorial fiat and that was the second major negative

I would give it a B for the many goodies and while I am interested in the next book, it won't be the asap as this one was. I hope the author will raise the quality of the prose and plotting to the level of his early novels since the series has high potential.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Selecting Books: A Case Study Using the Locus List of Selected Forthcoming Books (by Liviu Suciu)

Book selection, book selection, book selection...

I always note that this is the most important element that allows me to read lots of books - sure I make the time, read whenever and wherever I can but ultimately *book selection* is the key since while it means spending time and effort to find the most interesting books, it also means I always have something on tap that keeps my interest high. I look at tons and tons of titles - mostly new but also anything old that attracts my attention, though the older titles tend to be non-sff by and large - and I am always excited to find unexpected books, while of course there is a large "asap"/"on publication" list too. I will have a Top Anticipated 2011 Books post too, maybe split in several parts with a continually updated collated post as I did for 2010 books.

Today of course "book selection" is much easier with lists of upcoming books, samples and all and I find it hard to understand why people persist in reading meh books, rather than looking for those special ones that will brighten their life...

So as a case in study, I took the recently published Locus list of selected upcoming sff from September 2010 till June 2011 and to keep the post of reasonable length, I picked some random months (November 2010, March/May/June 2011) and did a quick look through and commented on each book as I always do "in my mind" when I look at such lists.

Note that the books on the list are only a partial sample of sff releases and also publication dates change, so this list is just one of several sources I use to find out about new sff.

Of course most books - as is the case in general since *an arbitrary book is most likely not of interest for an arbitrary reader* - are of "no interest" to me, which does not mean that I think the book will be bad in any "objective" way - it just means what it says. In many of the "no interest" cases I am acquainted with the respective author's work and found it "not for me", while in a few cases - I would say UF first and foremost, but tie-ins too - it is just a matter of the subject being way outside my interests; in the situations I am not sure, I marked it as such and will take a look whenever.

November 2010

  • Adams, John Joseph, ed. • The Way of the Wizard(Prime Books, anth, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Akers, Tim • The Horns of Ruin(Pyr, tpb)
  • begged for an arc since the book was a huge anticipated one for 2010; read it on receive but sadly the book turned out to be far from my tastes

  • Armstrong, Kelley • Counterfeit Magic(Subterranean Press, nva, hc)
  • no interest

  • + Bakker, Scott • Disciple of the Dog(Tor/Forge, hc)
  • no interest

  • Ballantine, Philippa • Geist(Ace)
  • will check but unlikely to be of interest
  • + Banks, Iain M. • Surface Detail(Orbit USA, hc)
  • begged for an arc, currently reading; top expected book of the rest of 2010 by far
  • will be late October most likely, with the UK edition early October

  • Barnes, Steven • Assassins(ISFiC Press, cln, hc)
  • will check but unlikely to be of interest

  • Bear, Greg • Hull Zero Three(Orbit US, hc)
  • an arc would be nice, but a try on publication otherwise

  • Briggs, Patricia • Wolfsbane(Ace)
  • no interest

  • Bujold, Lois McMaster • CryoBurn(Baen, hc)
  • read on publication; this one moved to October too from what I hear

  • Butcher, Jim • Side Jobs(Roc, cln, hc)
  • no interest

  • Card, Orson Scott • Pathfinder(Simon Pulse, nvl-ya, hc)
  • no interest

  • Clark, Simon • The Gravedigger's Tale: Fables of Fear(Robert Hale, cln, hc)
  • no interest

  • Cook, Glen • Gilded Latten Bones(Roc)
  • no interest

  • Cook, Glen • Surrender to the Will of the Night(Tor, hc)
  • I read the first two and got an arc of this one and will read it but not a big asap since my taste evolved a bit away from this series

  • + Cornish, D. M. • Factotum(Putnam, nvl-ya, hc)
  • no interest

  • Cornish, D. M. • Monster Blood Tattoo, Book Three: Factotum(Fickling UK, nvl-ya, hc)
  • no interest

  • de Lint, Charles • The Painted Boy(Viking, nvl-ya, hc)
  • no interest

  • Fenner, Cathy, & Arnie Fenner, eds. • Spectrum 17: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art(Underwood Books, anth, hc)
  • will look at it in store

  • Fforde, Jasper • The Last Dragonslayer(Hodder & Stoughton, nvl-ya, hc)
  • no interest

  • Gribbin, John • The Alice Encounter(PS Publishing, nva, hc)
  • no interest

  • Gurney, James • Color and Light(Andrews McMeel, art, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Hoban, Russell • Angelica Lost and Found(Bloomsbury, hc)
  • no interest

  • Jemisin, N. K. • The Broken Kingdoms(Orbit US, tpb)
  • an arc would be nice, but read on publication otherwise

  • Jones, Stephen, ed. • Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts(Ulysses Press, anth, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Jordan, Robert, & Brandon Sanderson • Towers of Midnight(Tor, hc)
  • no interest

  • Kearney, Paul • Corvus(Solaris US)
  • got an arc and read it on receive - excellent mil-fantasy
  • will be late October most likely

  • Kidd, Tom • OtherWorlds: How to Imagine, Paint and Create Epic Scenes of Fantasy(F + W Publications/Impact, tpb)
  • no interest

  • King, Stephen • Full Dark, No Stars(Simon & Schuster/Scribner, cln, hc)
  • no interest

  • Lansdale, Joe R. • Flaming Zeppelins: The Adventures of Ned the Seal(Tachyon Publications, cln, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Lee, Sharon • Carousel Tides(Baen, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Leiber, Fritz • Strange Wonders: A Collection of Rare Fritz Leiber Works(Subterranean Press, cln, hc)
  • no interest

  • MacLeod, Ian R. • Wake Up and Dream(PS Publishing, hc)
  • maybe if a pdf arc shows up

  • Martin, George R. R., & Gardner Dozois, eds. • Songs of Love and Death(Simon & Schuster/Gallery, anth, hc)
  • will try on publication

  • McDevitt, Jack • Echo(Ace, hc)
  • an arc would be nice, but read/review on publication otherwise as I do with all Jack McDevitt novels

  • McKinley, Robin • Pegasus(Putnam, nvl-ya, hc)
  • no interest

  • McLeod, Suzanne • The Bitter Seed of Magic(Gollancz, hc/tpb)
  • no interest

  • Nicholson, Scott • Transparent Lovers(PS Publishing, nva, hc)
  • maybe if a pdf arc shows up
  • Painter, Deborah • Forry: The Life of Forrest J Ackerman(McFarland, nf, hc)
  • no interest

  • Rambo, Cat, Paul Tremblay & Sean Wallace, eds. • Worlds of Fantasy: The Best of Fantasy Magazine(Prime Books, anth, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Reed, Robert • Eater-of-Bone(PS Publishing, cln, hc)
  • maybe if a pdf arc shows up

  • Rickert, M. • Holiday(Golden Gryphon Press, cln, hc)
  • no interest

  • Rushdie, Salman • Luka and the Fire of Life(Random House, nvl-ya, hc)
  • no interest

  • Sargent, Pamela • Seed Seeker(Tor, hc)
  • will try on publication

  • Snyder, Lucy A. • Shotgun Sorceress(Ballantine Del Rey)
  • no interest

  • + Stroud, Jonathan • Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon(Disney-Hyperion, nvl-ya, hc)
  • no interest

  • Swenson, Patrick, ed. • The Best of Talebones(Fairwood Press, anth, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Valente, Catherynne M. • The Habitation of the Blessed(Night Shade Books, tpb)
  • will try if it comes into my hands or a large sample is available

  • VanderMeer, Ann, & Jeff VanderMeer, eds. • Steampunk Reloaded(Tachyon Publications, anth, tpb)
  • will try if it comes into my hands or a large sample is available

  • Warrington, Freda • Midsummer Night(Tor, hc)
  • asked for an arc and got it; blew me away, one of the best 2010 novels I've read; review in due course

  • Williams, Tad • Shadowheart(DAW, hc)
    no interest

March 2011

  • Barnes, John • Daybreak Zero(Ace, hc)
  • will check on publication; unlikely to try it though

  • Beagle, Peter S. • Sleight of Hand(Tachyon Publications, cln, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Bear, Elizabeth • Grail(Ballantine Spectra)
  • no interest

  • Bishop, Anne • Twilight's Dawn(Roc, cln, hc)
  • no interest

  • Buckner, M. M. • Gravity Pilot(Tor, hc)
  • will try on publication

  • Bullington, Jesse • The Enterprise of Death(Orbit, tpb)
  • an arc would be nice, will try and maybe read on publication otherwise; this one sounds much more interesting than the author's debut and it may be a 'sleeper" top 2011 book for me

  • del Toro, Guillermo, & Chuck Hogan • Eternal Night(Morrow, hc)
  • no interest

  • Feist, Raymond E. • A Kingdom Besieged(Harper Voyager, hc)
  • no interest

  • + Fforde, Jasper • One of Our Thursdays Is Missing(Viking, hc)
  • no interest

  • Furey, Maggie • Exodus of the Xandim(Gollancz, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Gentle, Mary • Black Opera(Night Shade Books, tpb)
  • high, high interest and top anticipated novel of 2011, will try and get it asap; not sure about publication date, but this one is an apriori best of 2011 candidate

  • Godwin, Parke • The Prince from Nowhere(PS Publishing, nva, hc)
  • no interest

  • Gustainis, Justin, ed. • Those Who Fight Monsters(Hades/EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy, anth, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Harrison, Kim • Pale Demon(Eos, hc)
  • no interest

  • Herbert, James • Ash(Macmillan UK, hc)
  • no interest

  • Howe, Harrison, ed. • It Never Sleeps: Tales from the Darker History of New York City(PS Publishing, anth, hc)
  • no interest

  • Jakober, Marie • The Demon Left Behind(Hades Publications/EDGE SF and Fantasy, tpb)
  • will look at it, most likely no interest

  • Kent, Jasper • The Third Section(Bantam UK, tpb)
  • will try on publication and hope it will revert to Twelve's form rather than the somewhat disappointing Thirteen Years Later

  • Lynch, Scott • The Republic of Thieves(Ballantine Spectra, hc)
  • make or break series book for me though the excerpt so far is disappointing since I am tired of the 'buddy, buddy" storyline.. an arc will be nice but a try/read on publication otherwise

  • Matheson, Richard • Other Kingdoms(Tor, hc)
  • no interest

  • McKenna, Bridget, & Marti McKenna, eds. • End of an Aeon(Fairwood Press, anth, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Moon, Elizabeth • Kings of the North(Ballantine Del Rey, hc)
  • no interest

  • Remic, Andy • Cloneworld(Solaris, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Rothfuss, Patrick • The Wise Man's Fear(DAW, hc)
  • high expectations book, will try and get and read asap; another apriori candidate to top of 2011

  • Strahan, Jonathan, ed. • The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Five(Night Shade Books, anth, tpb)
    will look at it

May 2011

  • Anderson, Kevin J., ed. • Nebula Awards Showcase 2011(Tor, anth, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Canavan, Trudi • The Rogue(Orbit US, hc)
  • no interest

  • Deas, Stephen • The Order of the Scales(Gollancz, hc/tpb)
  • asap novel, will read on arrival, very high expectations book and top anticipated book of 2011

  • + Erikson, Steven • The Crack'd Pot Trail(Tor, nva, hc)
  • no interest

  • Foss, Chris • The Art of Chris Foss(Titan Books, art, hc)
  • no interest

  • Freeman, Pamela • Ember and Ash(Orbit, tpb)
  • will try on publication and maybe read the trilogy ending Full Circle in the process; I liked the first two books in the milieu but the third dropped on my pile for now and this, the fourth, may be the spark to rekindle my interest

  • + Hobb, Robin • Inheritance(Eos, hc)
  • no interest

  • Hobson, M. K. • The Hidden Goddess(Ballantine Spectra)
  • will look at it, but most likely no interest

  • Lachlan, M. D. • Fenrir(Gollancz, hc)
  • will look at it, but most likely no interest

  • Lee, Tanith • Court of the Crow(Night Shade Books, hc)
  • no interest

  • Martinez, A. Lee • Catching the Moon(Orbit US, hc)
  • no interest

  • McCaffrey, Anne, & Todd McCaffrey • Dragon's Time(Bantam UK, hc)
  • no interest

  • Miéville, China • Embassytown(Ballantine Del Rey, hc)
  • high, high expectations book; will read asap; top 10 expected sf of 2011

  • + Rajaniemi, Hannu • The Quantum Thief(Tor, hc)
  • I assume I have made my mind already based on the September 2010 UK edition - either a top book or a not for me one, depending on how the author' style matches my taste

  • Roberts, Adam • Beggar's Banquet(Gollancz, hc/tpb)
  • high expectations book; will read/review asap as I do with all of the author's (original) work

  • Rusch, Kristine Kathryn • City of Ruins(Pyr, tpb)
  • will try though unlikely to be of interest

  • Scalzi, John • Fuzzy Nation(Tor, hc)
  • no interest

  • Valentine, Genevieve • Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti(Prime Books, tpb)
  • will take a look and decide the interest then

  • Whates, Ian • The Noise Revealed(Solaris)
  • beg for an arc book; one of the top anticipated sf of mine in 2011 and of course very, very high expectations
  • Wilson, Robert Charles • Vortex(Tor, hc)
  • will ask for an arc and will read asap; another very high expectation sf of 2011 especially that the author never disappointed me - I may not have loved equally all his novels, but I never found one I did not like


June 2011

  • + Abraham, Daniel • The Dragon's Path(Orbit US, tpb)
  • interesting one; will try and see if my dislike of the author's acclaimed tetralogy was a fluke or it is just that his writing style does not chime with my taste; try on publication, though an arc will be nice

  • Baxter, Stephen • The Bronze Summer(Gollancz, hc/tpb)
  • may spark my interest in getting the first book in the series - update, got Stone Spring and did not like it that much so far, but will try again

  • Carey, Jacqueline • Naamah's Blessing(Grand Central, hc)
  • beg for an arc, read asap and a very high expectations fantasy of 2011

  • Carroll, Lee • The Watchtower(Bantam UK, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Duncan, Dave • When the Saints(Tor, hc)
  • no interest

  • Englehart, Steve • The Plain Man(Tor, hc)
  • will look at it, but unlikely to be of interest

  • Goonan, Katherine • Collection(PS Publishing, cln, hc)
  • no interest

  • Grant, Mira • Deadline(Orbit US)
  • no interest

  • Hamilton, Laurell K. • Hit List(Berkley, hc)
  • no interest

  • Hartwell, David G., & Kathryn Cramer, eds. • Year's Best SF 16(Eos, anth)
  • will look at it

  • Horton, Rich, ed. • The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2011 Edition(Prime Books, anth, tpb)
  • will look at it

  • Kowal, Mary Robinette, ed. • The Hugo Award Showcase, 2011 Volume(Prime Books, anth, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Martin, George R. R., ed. • Wild Cards: Fort Freak(Tor, anth, hc)
  • no interest

  • Newton, Mark Charan • Book of Transformations(Tor UK, hc)
  • beg for an arc, read asap, a top 10 anticipated fantasy of 2011

  • Rawn, Melanie • The Diviner(DAW, hc)
  • no interest

  • Sinclair, Alison • Shadowborn(Roc, tpb)
  • no interest

  • Sparks, Cat • Effigy(Angry Robot, tpb)
  • will look it, cannot say offhand

  • Steele, Allen • Hex(Ace, hc)
  • no interest most likely, but will take a look just in case

  • van Eekhout, Greg • Last(Bloomsbury USA, nvl-ya, hc)
  • no interest

  • Vaughn, Carrie • Kitty's Big Trouble(Gollancz)
  • no interest

  • Yep, Laurence • City of Ice(Starscape, nvl-ya, hc)
    will look at it since I heard good things about the author

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