Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cover Art: Knife-Sworn

Knife-Sworn
Tower and Knife #2
By Mazarkis Williams



After years locked in a tower, Prince Sarmin has come into his own.

He has been crowned emperor; he has wed Mesema of the horse tribes; the Pattern-Master is dead.

Everything should be happy-ever-after.

But war has begun, Sarmin has no royal assassin, and both his wife and mother have given birth to sons, throwing the succession into question.

The last thing anyone needs is for Kavic, the Yrkman peace envoy, to be murdered in his bed.

There are numerous possible killers, and with no convincing explanation for Kavic's death, there is no hope for peace.

It's up to Grada, Sarmin's trusted investigator, to solve the mystery - no matter how close to the throne the answer may lie.

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I loved book one, The Emperor's Knife. My review will be up shortly.

I'm not too keen on the blurb to be honest but given how good his debut was I am willing to give Mr William's the benefit of the doubt.

Due November 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Judging a Book By It's Cover

- and the blurb on the back. OR the fact that it doesn't mention dragons or wizards or swords...

Sometimes (and only sometimes) my focus on epic fantasy means I miss out on something that could be extraordinary.

I was given Cloud Atlas as a gift a number of years ago - and we sold it at the store also.

I never actually read it. Now I will have to go dig it out of my bookshelves.


That looks amazing.


Cloud Atlas
By David Mitchell
BUY IT


'Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies ...'

A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagans California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified dinery server on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation.

The narrators of CLOUD ATLAS hear each others echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.

In his extraordinary third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanitys dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.



Saturday, July 28, 2012

Author Accessibility

Jason over at Fantasy Literature has written a post about the digital age bringing greater accessibility to the men and women behind the pens of our favorite books.

He asks: Do you miss the days when the back cover bio was all you really knew about your favorite authors? Does the political and diary ramblings of your favorite authors detract or add to their body work?


I have to admit I do miss the days when all you knew about an author was what their bio said and the glimpses behind the curtain in interviews they might do. I've had the unfortunate experience of finding the blog of an author who's work I've really enjoyed only to find - reading their personal opinions - that I think they are a wanker and I no longer have any interest in their work.

Or their voice (and opinions) are so strong that when I go back to their work I can see/read/hear their 'personal' voice in their narrative - where previously I had no idea.

I've also come across the situation where I think the author is great, they are lots of fun and I like their POV - only to pick their book and instantly regret it. Now I like them but not their writing.


Ironically of course I wish to be a published author someday, and I will have to keep up a blog - much like this one I guess - and I will run the very real risk of turning potential readers away because I am (in their eyes?) a wanker who they wouldn't spend their money on.

I recall conversations I've had with Terry Dowling about this very topic and his words, as related to him by Jack Vance, "An author needs to be like a foreign prince" - there, but yet hold a distance and mystique about themselves (and thus their work) that enables an enchantment that the 15 minutes-of-fame brigade tears away from themselves with uncomfortable abandon.

Will I be able to carry that off? Probably not  but then I don't really have to worry about it yet ;)


But of course Edith Piaf is famous for (among other things) having said 'use your faults, use your defects! that will make you a star!' So... Who am I to judge? And I have had many more enjoyable experiences getting to 'know' author's whose work has moved me than not.

What I have to learn to do is take things with a grain of salt I guess.

Friday, July 27, 2012

T'En

Besieged
Outcast Chronicles #1
By Rowena Cory Daniells
BUY IT

Sorne, the estranged son of a King on the verge of madness, is being raised as a weapon to wield against the mystical Wyrds. Half a continent away, his father is planning to lay siege to the Celestial City, the home of the T En, whose wyrd blood the mundane population have come to despise.

Within the City, Imoshen, the only mystic to be raised by men, is desperately trying to hold her people together. A generations long feud between the men of the Brotherhoods and the women of the sacred Sisterhoods is about to come to a head. 


With war without and war within, can an entire race survive the hatred of a nation? 



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I first came across Rowena Cory Daniells' work too many years ago to mention. She had just written The Last of the T'En and I was instantly hooked.

I loved the race she had created and I wanted to know more, much more, about their history, specifically the story of the First Imoshen. And now my wish has been fulfilled!

Besieged is the first book in the Outcast Chronicles that chronicles the events that lead to the T'En's exile. I can't wait to sink my teeth into it!

AND Rowena was kind enough to send me a signed copy.

Squeeeeeeeeeeeee!








Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kushiel's Dart: A Review


Kushiel's Dart
Kushiel's Legacy #1
By Jacqueline Carey
BUY IT


A massive fantasy tale about the violent death of an old age and the birth of a new one. Here is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies.

Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phedre no Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she is trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, and the arts of pleasure. Above all, she learns the ability to observe, remember, and analyze.

Exquisite courtesan, yet talented spy, she may seem an unlikely heroine... but when Phedre stumbles upon a plot threatening her homeland, Terre d'Ange, she has no choice but to act.

Betrayed into captivity in the barbarous northland of Skaldia, and accompanied only by disdainful young warrior-priest, Phedre makes a harrowing escape and an even more harrowing journey, to return to her people and deliver them a warning of the impending invasion.

And that proves only the first step in a quest that will take her to the edge of despair and beyond.

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Seeing the mainstream fiction world is still caught up in the Fifty Shades trilogy I thought I'd point out to those of you who might want to know, a genre equivalent (and much better written) saga of kink and sauciness that involves whips and chains - just like the other. But it's Kushiel's Dart is much more than that.  Truly.

On the back cover of this book is a quote from the main narrator/character of the tale: “When Love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity on me.” and, regardless of what that might say about me, I was intrigued enough to pick up the book. I wasn’t disappointed.

The story is set in an alternate, early Renaissance Europe; primarily in a pseudoFrance called Terre d’Ange.

In Terre d’Ange, a land of unsurpassing beauty and grace, considered a paradise on earth by its inhabitants, the art of the courtesan is an honoured profession held sacred by the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers and its thirteen Houses. Into this world is born Phedre, a child who is rejected from the house she’s born into because she has a “flaw”, a tiny red mote in one eye. Trained in the arts of graceful service she is discovered by nobleman Anafiel Delaunay, who recognizes her flaw for what it is; Kushiel’s Dart, which marks her as an anguissette, one who is able to experience pain as pleasure.

She is taken into the Delauney’s House where she is trained in politics and court intrigue, as well as the arts of courtesan, which gives her unfettered access to the nobles and powerbrokers of the realm when they are at their most vulnerable. While working as a spy for her Lord she stumbles across a plot that threatens the very foundation of her homeland. Betrayal and treachery sees her exiled into slavery and her loved ones killed, setting her feet on a path of vengeance and retribution that brings into play all of the skills she has been taught.

Carey weaves intricate plots within plots, and sets noble House against House in thrilling political manoeuvres that are truly Machiavellian. She presents a multilayered back story to support the weight of the world she’s created with the sure hand of a master wordsmith; each character presented is fleshed out convincingly with their own multifaceted personalities; their loyalties and agenda’s giving the reader a book that is truly character driven. There is action and adventure, swordplay and battles, sacrifice and redemption, romance and, given Phedre’s role as a courtesan, sex - but to dismiss this book as something in the vein of Laurell K. Hamilton’s later work would be to sell it far too short.

Carey shows a skill with the written word that is beautifully elegant and makes her work a joy to read. The sensual prose of her writing calls to mind the works of Tanith Lee and Storm Constantine, and her political machinations would give even George R.R. Martin’s characters a run for their money. I highly recommend this book and it’s sequels to lovers of great fantasy epics.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Step by Step

I've been pushing through my third draft rewrites and it feels like I am going to be at this forever.  But then so did the second draft.

I've a rather large structural change I am currently in the throes of - taking two characters out of the first half of  the story to introduce them in the middle instead. And that is challenging. But it's also working... I think.

For those who might be interested, myself included, I've put a little widget at the top right hand side of my the blog tracking my rewrite progress. The total number of words I'm working with will change each session as I either delete (which is currently an aim) or if I add. But progress forward will be made. It's just the more I do the more holes I'm noticing, holes I have to fill which means more words... Of course using words economically is a lesson in writing itself. And I am slowly learning it.


I'm currently reading Seven Princes by John R. Fultz. Orbit sent me this early in the year and I am just getting around to it now - but them that's the way my reading life goes. I think I am going to have to make a schedule for my reading along with my writing... although it seems to be taking me longer and longer to get though books these days. But I will do it!

Now the question is how do I fit Warcraft into all of that as well....


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tracking Time

A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar 2013
Buy it here: UK US



Sadly I don't have a Wall Calendar for this year - I wasn't much of a fan of the 2012 portrait calendar. This one however looks quite good.

I'll be ordering my copy now.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Whispers Under Ground - signed to me!


Whispers Under Ground
Rivers of London #3
By Ben Aaronovitch
BUY IT


A WHOLE NEW REASON TO MIND THE GAP

It begins with a dead body at the far end of Baker Street tube station, all that remains of American exchange student James Gallagher - and the victim's wealthy, politically powerful family is understandably eager to get to the bottom of the gruesome murder. The trouble is, the bottom - if it exists at all - is deeper and more unnatural than anyone suspects . . . except, that is, for London constable and sorcerer's apprentice Peter Grant. With Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, tied up in the hunt for the rogue magician known as 'the Faceless Man,' it's up to Peter to plumb the haunted depths of the oldest, largest, and - as of now - deadliest subway system in the world.

At least he won't be alone. No, the FBI has sent over a crack agent to help. She's young, ambitious, beautiful . . . and a born-again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil. Oh yeah - that's going to go well.
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I arrived home to find a very cool package awaiting me today.

It was this!



My very own signed and personalised hardback copy of Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch. How cool is that?

Now I just have to do a catch-up so I can read it ;)



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Up close with Jo Spurrier

Winter Be My Shield
Children of the Black Sun #1
By Jo Spurrier
BUY IT


Sierra has a despised and forbidden gift -- she raises power from the suffering of others. Enslaved by the King's Torturer, Sierra escapes, barely keeping ahead of Rasten, the man sent to hunt her down. Then she falls in with dangerous company: the fugitive Prince Cammarian and his crippled foster-brother, Isidro.

But Rasten is not the only enemy hunting them in the frozen north and as Sierra's new allies struggle to identify friend from foe, Rasten approaches her with a plan to kill the master they both abhor. Sierra is forced to decide what price she is willing to pay for her freedom and her life.



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This was the last interview I conducted over at Galaxy. Jo is an awesome new Aussie author so I felt it only right to give her a plug here.

If you haven't picked up Winter Be My Shield yet then go forth and buy it! It's great!. But read this interview first ;)



1. What started you writing, and is it the same thing that still inspires you today?

I’ve been making up stories all my life, they’d be rattling around in my head even if I didn’t get them on paper. I started properly writing them down when I couldn’t find the book I wanted to read --- not a specific book;I just had the urge to read a story with certain sorts of characters in a certain types of setting, but nothing I found fit the bill. In the end I realised I had to write it myself, and I’m still doing it today, writing the books I want to read.


2. How many novels did you write before you got published?

Just one, an epic fantasy with a more traditional setting and premise. I submitted it to an agent and got representation with a view to improving the work, but it was very much a first effort and it had a number of flaws that I didn’t have the experience to fix. When my agent dropped me (and I don’t really blame her) I submitted it to a publisher on my own. Something like 18 months later, I got a call from Stephanie Smith of Voyager to say, ‘I liked it, but I’m not going to publish it.’ I said, ‘if I were to write something else, would you be interested in seeing it?’ She said absolutely, and so I wrote Winter Be My Shield. She and my agent did me a favour by turning down my first book. It was an apprentice piece, a good education, but ultimately not fit for public consumption.


3. What was the first thing you did when you found out a publisher wanted to print your work?

I think I had a minor meltdown! I tried to call my now-husband, but my mobile was flat, so I called my mum on the home phone and then realised half-way through the conversation that I could actually call him on the land-line as well. After that I called my best friend and I think we screamed at each other for a good five minutes.


4. What books, or authors, would you say have most influenced you in the type of writer you've become?

Katherine Kerr has always been one of my favourites. The first four books of her Deverry series were the first books I ever bought for myself.

The other writer I’ve been influenced by is Jean Auel. I read her Earth’s Children series as a young teenager, and though I no longer love them the way I used to --- I don’t have much patience for endless sex scenes and plotlines based around miscommunication between characters --- I have always adored the immersive quality of her world-building, and the engrossing detail of living in an ice-age world.

More recently, Robin Hobb has been an idol of mine, beginning with the Liveship Traders (which I perversely read first) and the other two trilogies in that world. I never dreamed I’d have a Robin Hobb quote on my cover!


5. Your debut is WINTER BE MY SHIELD, can you tell us a bit about the story and how you came up with it?

Winter Be My Shield is a story of survival, of finding friends and allies in dark places, and about just how much you’re prepared to sacrifice to save the lives of those you love… or to destroy your enemies.

When the story first came to me, I had only the sketchiest of details --- I had a fugitive prince, a wounded nobleman and a girl who was running away from something. But I did feel very strongly that they needed to live somewhere cold. The deep-winter setting of the book puts an interesting pressure on the people who live there --- they’re forced to rely on each other despite their conflicting goals and ideals, and it forces them to find common ground even when they’re at each other’s throats.


6. Do you consciously chose themes to explore in your work or does it 'just happen'?

A bit of both! Some of them come about as a natural consequence of winding the characters up, putting them in place and setting them loose. Other themes are very deliberate, like the consequences of Isidro’s injury and disability. Early in the story, Isidro is captured and tortured to give up the whereabouts of his foster-brother the fugitive prince Cammarian. Isidro survives, but he’s left crippled, with his life as a warrior cut short.

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and at the time I was putting this story together I was struggling with the disease and its effect on my daily life. I was frustrated with the trope of magical healing in Fantasy, where characters that are badly injured are made as good as new in the space of a few days, or else fall to the wayside and drop out of the story. I wanted to read about someone in the situation I found myself in, with the road ahead suddenly blocked, in a body that can no longer do the things you expect of it. I wanted a book where the disabled character remains at the centre of the action --- Isidro’s story doesn’t end with his maiming, that’s only the beginning, and he has no choice but to learn how to survive with his shattered arm.


7. What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

I call it the Treadmill Effect. It begins when you first open the file to start a new book, and continues until you’re about 30 pages from the end. Every day you sit down at the keyboard and you feel like you’re just staring at that spot on the wall, working as hard as you can but not getting any closer. Tracking word-count doesn’t help --- seeing it creep up by 2000 words at a time feels like a drop in the bucket when your target is somewhere around 180k. There’s no way around it, you just have to apply bum to seat and fingers to keyboard and push on.


8. Do you use an outline when you write, or are you more of a discovery writer?

Outlines all the way! I am not a seat-of-the-pants writer, not even a little bit. Of course, things don’t always go according to plan, but that’s when I sit down with a cup of tea and make a new plan. Whenever I get writers block, I know it’s because I’ve taken the wrong track, and I have to back up and try a different route.


9. How much research do you do, and is it before or during the writing process?

The far-northern setting of Winter Be My Shield has taken a huge amount of research, both before and during writing, as often I don’t know what I need to know until I need to know it. I’ve written an article about my research for the Voyager Blog that goes into more detail, but I’ve read cold weather camping guides, archaeological books, memoirs by cold-climate tree-changers and adventurers, and descriptions and histories of native peoples of boreal regions all over the world. TV documentaries are useful too, and I’ve ended up doing a surprising amount of research on YouTube, for things like watching the break up of river ice, or hearing the sound of flowing lava.


10. Do you ever base your characters on people you know or have known?

Never. I don’t exactly know where my characters come from, but it’s not from anywhere around here.


11. What is your work schedule like when you're in writer’s mode?

Usually I get my writing done in 2-2.5 hours each day --- it depends on how hard I fight the procrastination habit. I aim for 2000 words a day, 5 days a week. I take weekends off, otherwise I tend to burn out. Once the writing is done I’ll plan the next day’s work, do some research, or just daydream for a while. That’s an important part of the process, too!


12. What do you do to relax, when you're not in 'writer's mode? (are you ever not in writer's mode?)

I’m always thinking about one story or another, but when I’m not working I love to make things --- I knit, spin and sew, and I love to cook, too, though that makes me sound far more traditional than I actually am! I think of creativity as a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. I’ve also started taking dance classes with some friends, and I find that a great outlet --- it uses a completely different part of the brain than writing, and it’s a good antidote to being parked in front of a computer for hours at a time.


13. How do you balance what you're reading against what you're writing?

I don’t, generally. I find it really hard to read when I’m writing. It’s a little easier while I’m editing, but usually I save my books for the weekends. It helps if I read in a different genre, but I still find it harder to focus on my story when I’ve got someone else’s running through my head, and if I’m not careful I’ll start to mimic the other writer’s voice.


14. And finally, what future novels/ideas do you have in the works? What can your readers expect next?

I am working on a plan for when I finish the third Children of the Black Sun book and give these poor bastards a rest. It’s about ley lines and city-states and a river like the Ganges. It’s about dragons and transformation and seeds that grow into very strange things, and priests who turn to science to understand the world in which they live. But it’s still early stages yet, so all the above may well be subject to change!





Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Asylum Tales are coming!

Angel's Ink
The Asylum Tale's #1
By Jocelynn Drake
BUY IT


Buyer beware...Looking for a tattoo - and maybe a little something extra: a burst of good luck, a dollop of true love, or even a hex on an ex?

Head to the quiet and mysterious Gage, the best skin artist in town. Using his unique potions - a blend of extraordinary ingredients and special inks - to etch the right symbol, he can fulfill any heart's desire. But in a place like Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires happily walk among humanity, everything has its price.

No one knows that better than Gage.

Turning his back on his own kind, he left the magical Ivory Tower where cruel witches and warlocks rule, a decision that cost him the right to practice magic. And if he disobeys, his punishment - execution - will be swift.

Though he's tried to fly under the radar, Gage can't hide from powerful warlocks who want him dead-or the secrets of his own past. But with the help of his friends, Trixie, a gorgeous elf who hides her true identity, and a hulking troll named Bronx, Gage just might make it through this enchanted world alive.

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I just finished reading the eNovella "Bronx" - a min-prequel to Drake's new Urban Fantasy series The Asylum Tales. And it was awesome.

I loved it.

Needing a comparison I'd say it's a heady mix of Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniel's series meets Jim Butchers Dresden Files - with Dresden coming out the winner but Kate Daniel's leaving a very distinct mark.

Seriously if you like the Butcher's Urban fantasy then you will like this.

Don't judge the  book by the cover.  Seriously. I have no idea what the marketers where thinking - as a (former) bookseller I think they've done the potential sales this series could have a huge disservice by draping it in a paranormal romance jacket. That's not to say that paranormal romance sales are to be sniffed at (hello Charlaine Harris and Sherrilyn Kenyon) but seriously??? Having just read the mini-prequel Bronx this series belongs on the selves next to the likes of Butcher's Dresden Files and Griffin's Matthew Swift books. I really hope the readers of of Urban Fantasy will cross the fence and give this a try because Jocelynn Drake rocks and I cannot wait to read more about Gage and his world.

Magicals Anonymous

Stray Souls
Magicals Anonymous #1
By Kate Griffin
BUY IT


'Don't look back. It wants you to look back.'

London's soul has gone missing. Lost? Kidnapped? Murdered? Nobody knows - but when Sharon Li unexpectedly discovers she's a shaman, she is immediately called upon to use her newfound powers of oneness with the City to rescue it from a slow but inevitable demise.

The problem is, while everyone expects Sharon to have all the answers - from the Midnight Mayor to Sharon's magically-challenged self-help group - she doesn't have a clue where to start.

But with London's soul missing and the Gate open, there are creatures loose that won't wait for her to catch up before they go hunting.

STRAY SOULS is the first novel in the Magicals Anonymous series.


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This is one of the things I am going to miss no-longer working at Galaxy (besides my colleagues). Getting the heads up on new titles that I'll want to read.

I love Kate Griffin. I love the Matthew Swift series and I think I am going to love this too.

This is so cool - i just discovered a new Urban Fantasy awesome today and now I have a potential second. Squeee!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bobby Dollar

The Dirty Streets of Heaven
Bobby Dollar #1
By Tad Williams
BUY IT


Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.

But his problems aren’t all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doesn’t trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth.

When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad. Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them.

You’ve never met an angel like Bobby Dollar. And you’ve never read anything like The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

Brace yourself—the afterlife is weirder than you ever believed.

video

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Epic fantasy writer extraordinaire Tad Williams, the man who makes Pat Rothfuss tingle (I assume in a good way), whose Dragon Bone Chair series served as an example to George R R Martin just what could be done with epic fantasy, and whose works inspired Christopher Paolini to write, is turning his hand to Urban Fantasy.

The book sounds interesting, although my relationship with Tad's work has always been lukewarm. I might have to give this one a go. I'm having a run with Urban Fantasy at the moment :)


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cover Art: Cast in Peril

Cast in Peril
Chronicles of Elantra #8
By Michelle Sagara (akak Michelle West)
BUY IT

Michelle just shared this on her blog, and because I adore her I am sharing it here. I've already got my copy on pre-order and if you haven't read these yet... what in the abyss are you waiting for???

Go get them now!




Saturday, July 14, 2012

Game of Thrones Season 3

Hello. My name is Mark and I'm a Game of Thrones-aholic.

video

Squeeeeeeee!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Adding to the Wishlist

You know I really thought that finishing up at Galaxy would give me more time to get through my pile of 'The Unread' without adding to it too much.

But it seems such things aren't meant to be... Curse you Jo Fletcher Books!

Mage's Blood
Moontide Quartet #1
By David Hair
BUY IT




Most of the time the Moontide Bridge lies deep below the sea, but every 12 years the tides sink and the bridge is revealed, its gates open for trade.

The Magi are hell-bent on ruling this new world, and for the last two Moontides they have led armies across the bridge on 'crusades' of conquest.

Now the third Moontide is almost here and, this time, the people of the East are ready for a fight ... but it is three seemingly ordinary people that will decide the fate of the world.





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David Hair is an award-winning writer with two YA fiction series, the Aotearoa (set in New Zealand), and The Return of Ravana (based upon the Indian epic The Ramayana). Mage's Blood, his first work of adult fantasy, is the first in his brand- new quartet. And as chance would have it our six degree's of separation (David's and mine) is like two degrees. My friend Michael is good friend's with his wife. Maybe he can get me a reading copy..?

In any case here is another one I am adding to my Wishlist (I am clling it a Wishlist as I am becoming scared of the size of 'The Unread').


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Red Country UK Cover

As revealed by Joe Abercrombie on his blog - I know there are many of you waiting for this one ;)

Red Country
By Joe Abercrombie



“They burned her home.

They stole her brother and sister.

But vengeance is following.

Shy South hoped to bury her bloody past and ride away smiling, but she’ll have to sharpen up some bad old ways to get her family back, and she’s not a woman to flinch from what needs doing.  She sets off in pursuit with only a pair of oxen and her cowardly old stepfather Lamb for company.  But it turns out Lamb’s buried a bloody past of his own, and out in the lawless Far Country, the past never stays buried.

Their journey will take them across the barren plains to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feud, duel and massacre, high into the unmapped mountains to a reckoning with the Ghosts.  Even worse, it will force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, and his feckless lawyer Temple, two men no one should ever have to trust…”

Abercrombie's new releases always attracted a lot of attention a the store and I don't doubt that this one will be any different.

And to add icing on top of the new book release I understand that Joe himself will be in Sydney later this year :D


Acquisition Announcement

Chuck Wendig brings the Gods down to Earth

I saw this over on the Abaddon Books blog and thought I'd share it hear because I've heard great things about Chuck Wendig from Craig and Steph - and this sounds really cool!


New series by Tomes of The Dead: Double Dead and Blackbirds writer to debut in 2013 
Don't look up. Don't send your prayers skyward. Because the gods aren't in the sky. They're here. All of them. 
After publishing Chuck Wendig’s debut novel Double Dead, in 2011 Abaddon Books is proud to announce that it is set to publish a brand new title from the inimitable author of Blackbirds. 
Gods and Monsters: Unclean Spirits, the first title in a brand new shared world series, will debut in summer 2013 with Wendig’s characteristically sharp, take-no-prisoners style sure to win him even more fans.
Exiled to Earth, the gods now walk amongst us, bringing with them their children and their servants and their monsters. Their power is a mere fraction of what it once was, but even a mote of divine magic is awesome - in the truest sense of the word. 
Cason Cole knows this firsthand. He's been serving the gods for the better part of a decade, their leash fastened tight around his neck. But when his most recent divine master gets killed - a thing Cason didn't even know could happen - he finds himself once more a free man. All he's got left is a burning need for vengeance against the very gods who forced him to kneel, but he'll soon discover that getting revenge against the gods is no easy feat. He'll have to put his life, love, sanity and soul on the line. Will he pay the cost? How priceless is his wrath? 
Wendig’s is an utterly unique voice in contemporary urban fantasy – fresh, visceral, and witty. Gods and Monsters promises to unleash more invigorating hell upon his unsuspecting characters…


In fact, I'd go so far as to say it sounds awesome!

As I said above two friends, and former colleagues, have both raved to me about Wendig's 'Blackbirds' - I have yet to read it but looks like I am going to have to rectify that soon... Well I am put it on the pile of 'The Unread' in hopes that I will get to it soon enough... It's really hard juggling reading with writing. There aren't enough hours in the day :(

Blackbirds
Miriam Black #1
By Chuck Wendig
BUY IT


Miriam Black knows how you are going to die.

She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides. She merely needs to touch you — skin to skin contact — and she knows how and when you’ll die.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

Buy it here: UK US


Monday, July 9, 2012

Cover Revealed

You know how I was gushing about how I really, really, really wanted to read Malice by John Gwynne (forthcoming from Tor UK in December)?

No? Well recap here.

Tor UK have just released the jacket workart! The sword is illustrated by Paul Young and the cover designed in-house by James Annal.

Awesome job guys!

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!




I really, really, really want to read this book.

I've got a feeling about this one *grin*

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Up Close with Daniel Polansky

I just found out that Daniel Polansky's second book is coming out in October.

Tomorrow, the Killing
Low Town #2
By Daniel Polansky
Buy it here: UK


Once he was a hero of the Great War, and then a member of the dreaded Black House. Now he is the criminal linchpin of Low Town.

His name is Warden.

He thought he had left the war behind him, but a summons from up above brings the past sharply, uncomfortably, back into focus. General Montgomery's daughter is missing somewhere in Low Town, searching for clues about her brother's murder. The General wants her found, before the stinking streets can lay claim to her, too.

Dark, violent, and shot through with corruption, TOMORROW, THE KILLING is a fantastic successor to one of the most heralded fantasy debuts of recent times.





His debut novel, The Straight Razor Cure (aka Low Town) came out last year around August and I conducted an interview with him for the blog of the store I worked for. I'm reposting it here because The Straight Razor Cure is one of those books I was enjoying but got side-tracked from - now I have to go finish it and get up-to-date! 

INTERVIEW:


1. What started you writing, and is it the same thing that still inspires you today?

I started writing seriously because I felt unfulfilled by what I was doing at that point in my life. I guess as I’ve been writing more, I’ve become inspired by sheer love for the craft, and a desire to get better.


2. How many novels did you write before you got published?

Low Town: The Straight Razor Cure is my first novel. It’s actually the first work of fiction I’ve ever written, or at least as far back as I can remember.


3. What was the first thing you did when you found out a publisher wanted to print your work? 

I was on my lunch break, at the time. I pretty much just walked around in a happy daze for forty-five minutes.


4. What books, or authors, would you say have most influenced you in the type of writer you've become?

I would say that my intellectual debt regarding The Straight Razor Cure is owed to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, first and foremost.


5. Your debut is The Straight Razor Cure, can you tell us a bit about the story and how you came up with it?

The Straight Razor Cure is classic noir set in a dystopian fantasy setting. It primarily concerns the misadventures of The Warden, a small time drug lord whose iniquities are interrupted upon discovering the body of a murdered child. In a bout of ill-considered self-righteousness, he decides to hunt down the killer. Trouble ensues.

6. Do you consciously chose themes to explore in your work or does it 'just happen'?

A bit of both, I suppose.


7. What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

For me, personally, the revising process can grow pretty exhausting. After about the tenth time I edited The Straight Razor Cure, I began to have elaborate fantasies abut tossing the manuscript into the fire, or its 21st century equivalent, wiping my hard drive.


8. Do you use an outline when you write, or are you more of a discovery writer?

The Straight Razor Cure was my first novel, as I mentioned, and I just kind of struck off in a general direction narratively speaking. With subsequent works I’ve wised up some, and hammer out an outline before I get moving on the text itself.


9. How much research do you do, and is it before or during the writing process? 

It depends on how you look at it. I read history pretty compulsively, and a lot of that ultimately makes its way into what I’m writing. I try and keep my eyes open all the time for things I might later fit into a book, so it’s sort of an abstract form of research.


10. Do you ever base your characters on people you know or have known?

Some of them, yeah. It’s a lot of fun when you can steal things from the real world.


11. What is your work schedule like when you're in writers mode?

It really depends. I move around a lot, so I don’t really have a set schedule. When I’m in full on writing mode I tend to just make time to get out what’s in my head.


12. What do you do to relax, when you're not in 'writer's mode? (are you ever not in writer's mode?)

I travel, I listen to music, I read, I play chess.


13. How do you balance what you're reading against what you're writing?

I sort of feel like half my job is to be constantly reading things, and my selection is pretty varied. One thing you sometimes have to be careful of is making sure that whatever you’ve picked up doesn’t bleed too much into your work. A curious example -- while working on the sequel to The Straight Razor Cure I was reading Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust, which is this extraordinarily written, unimaginably long navel gazing sort of novel. At some point I went back and looked at what I had been writing and realized I had unintentionally (and without great success) started copying Proust’s style, which is about as far from the clipped, fast-paced prose style of classic noir as you could imagine. Needless to say, rewrites were in order.


14. And finally, what future novels/ideas do you have in the works? What can your readers expect next?

At the moment I am working on the sequel to The Straight Razor Cure, which doesn’t have a name yet, because names are hard as hell. It should be winging its way toward you guys sometime in 2012, and I highly recommend you purchase it in great quantities.

Visit my website, DanielPolansky.com, and leave a comment using the Facebook plugin on the lower left of the page so I know who you are. The first 7 chapters are on the website, along with two book trailers, a contest...all kinds of fun stuff. I’m on Facebook, Twitter (@DanielPolansky), Google+ (+DanielPolansky), and GoodReads, so there are lots of ways to connect!


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Alien Planet 'Full Documentary"

I first saw this a couple of years ago and found it fascinating.

I'm not sure if this will stay up on YouTube for long but I thought I'd share it while it is there :)



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Last, Now, Next


I'm jumping on the band wagon a little late here but I just saw this on Walker of Worlds who saw it on SF Signal so...

What book did you read last?

Last, I read "King of Thorns" by Mark Lawrence, review here.

What book are you reading now?

Now, I am reading "The White Road" by Lynn Flewelling

And 'The Asylum Files: Bronx' by Jocelyn Drake 

- this is a prequel novella to her new series. I started reading the first book in her Dark Days paranormal series a while back and got distracted, I really really liked what I had read of it and I always planned to go back and finish it. Other books however got in the way. But hen I saw this novella to a new series was out (as an eBook only) I figured I should go get it and get in on the ground floor with her new series.









What book will you read next?

Next, hmmmm, next. Now that is a bit trickier. I am eyeing a couple at the moment.

Orb, Sceptre, Throne by Ian Cameron Esslemont


The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

Trinity Rising by Elspeth Cooper.


Agh! I don't know - and I reserve the right to change my mind on all of them :P

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

King of Thorns: A Book Review


King of Thorns
Broken Empire Book 2
By Mark Lawrence
BUY IT

The boy who would be King has gained the throne...


Prince Honorious Jorg Ancrath vowed when he was nine to avenge his slaughtered mother and brother—and punish his father for not doing so. When he was fifteen, he began to fulfill that vow. Now he is eighteen—and he must hold on by strength of arms to what he took by torture and treachery.

King Jorg is a man haunted: by the ghost of a young boy, by a mysterious copper box, by his desire for the woman who rides with his enemy. Plagued by nightmares of the atrocities he committed, and of the atrocities committed against him when he was a child, he is filled with rage. And even as his need for revenge continues to consume him, twenty thousand men march toward the gates of his castle. His enemy is far stronger than him. Jorg knows that he cannot win a fair fight.

But he has found, in a chamber hidden beneath the castle, ancient and long-lost artifacts. Some might call them magic. Jorg is not certain—all he knows is that the secrets they hold can be put to terrible use in the coming battle...


Mark Lawrence is swiftly cutting a bloody path towards the top of my favorite authors list. Granted the swathe he is carving is more elegant and graceful than the ruthless hack and slash favoured by his … driven… creation Jorg, yet it works just as well.

I reviewed Lawrence’s first book sometime ago, and I was quite surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did, given that Jorg can be best described as psychotic troubled. And Lawrence doesn’t shy away from clearly showing the reader the darker aspects of his main character, or from the violence he lives with and deals out on more pages than not. However I find I love his work despite these things that would normally turn me off.

The second book in the Broken Empire series (a trilogy I think but I really hope it’s more than that because, ya know, these books are too short!) picks up where we left Jorg at the end of book one and four years after. Lawrence does a nifty little dance weaving narratives of what is essentially the past, and the present, together into a cohesive thread that traces the journey Jorg has been on since his victory at the conclusion of Prince of Thorns and how he finds himself with an army at his gates 4 years later.

Again I have been captivated by Lawrence’s world building and the seeming ease with which he paints the picture of the lost Builders and the pieces of civilization they left behind, a world both familiar and different to the reader, and how he writes Jorg who is at once both repellant and so sympathetic that you root for him despite the atrocities he and his merry band of bandits commit.

I love this series; it is epic in scope and strangely economic in depiction. When I open the pages I am lost to the world and I can ask nothing more of any author who’s work I pick up – but in this I case I shall.

Mr. Lawrence – I need at least 200,000 + words on the next book. And another four volumes to the series.

Please?


Monday, July 2, 2012

Sci-Fi TV

Coming this 'Fall' (so Spring for those of us Down Under).


I am so watching this :D

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lining Them Up

It's been a couple of days since my last post.

I've been busy winding things up at the store and I must admit it feels really strange knowing I own't be returning there next week. But life goes on and I have books waiting for me to read, not to mention a manuscript that needs me to finish it.

So the plan tomorrow is to focus on writing - almost exclusively for the next couple of weeks - but I will also make time to read and get some reviews up.

The only immediate issue I can see is that my budget for new releases has been curbed somewhat. I still have a lot of books I have collected that I have not yet read. A lot of them. They just aren't all new releases.

Some of the ones I've been looking at (and making a note of) are:

The Map of Time
The Map of Time Book 1
by Felix J. Palma
UK US


Enter a world of wonder, intrigue, and adventure …

London, 1896. Andrew Harrington's beloved has been murdered by Jack the Ripper. Claire Haggerty longs to escape the constraints of Victorian society. For both, time is the problem: to escape it, to change it, might offer them the hope they need. As their lives become entangled with that of H.G. Wells — who is basking in the success of his novel The Time Machine — all three set off on a desperate flight through the centuries.


But what happens when we alter history? That is the question explored in this epic page-turner, which will take you on a dazzling ride back and forth in time.


Now I am not a big reader of fantasy (urban fantasy?) set in the Victorian era - I just don't like it. But I think the cover is awesome and I like the kernel of story idea that is dumped into the blurb so I think I might give it a go. Soonish.


Another one that has been poking me is:

Dead Iron
Age of Steam Book 1
By Devon Monk
UK US


Welcome to a new America that is built on blood, sweat, and gears...

In steam age America, men, monsters, machines, and magic battle for the same scrap of earth and sky. In this chaos, bounty hunter Cedar Hunt rides, cursed by lycanthropy and carrying the guilt of his brother's death. Then he's offered hope that his brother may yet survive. All he has to do is find the Holder: a powerful device created by mad devisers-and now in the hands of an ancient Strange who was banished to walk this Earth. 


In a land shaped by magic, steam, and iron, where the only things a man can count on are his guns, gears, and grit, Cedar will have to depend on all three if he's going to save his brother and reclaim his soul once and for all...


Sofia has been at me to read this one for a while now. Again, steam punk (as with Victoriana settings) just really isn't me. However the second book has just come out and I think I might like this one so...  I'll get to this one also. Soonish.

But in the meantime I do believe I will have a review for Mr Lawrence's King of Thorns up any day now. He is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.

I also have an ARC for Elspeth Cooper's Trinity Rising and of Lilith Saintcrow's The Iron Wyrm Affair, both of which are glaring at me from a the pile of the Unread.

Decisions decisions!