Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review: In the Courts of the Sun

I just review In the Courts of the Sun by Brian D'Amato for Bookspot Central. The book has an interesting premise utilizing the Maya calendar, a divination ritual, and time travel to try to avert the end of the world, however, I think the book's flaws were a bit too glaring. While some people might like it, I'm afraid I can't recommend it. You can read the review here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New releases for the week of April 28th


On a world of intelligent robots who seem to have forgotten their own distant past, it is a time of war as the soldiers of Artemis City set out to conquer everything within range on the continent of Shull, killing or converting every robot they capture to their philosophy, while viewing their own wire-based minds as nothing but metal to be used or recycled for the cause. Elsewhere, the more individualistic robots of Turing City believe they are something more than metal, but when the Artemisian robot Kavan sets out on a determined crusade to prove himself, even Turing City can't stand against him.Increasingly tied up with Kavan's destiny is Karel, a Turing robot with elements of Artemis' philosophy already woven into his mind well as Karel's wife Susan, and their recently created child. Following the inevitable violence and destruction, Artemisian ambition focuses elsewhere and a journey begins towards the frozen kingdoms of the north ...and towards the truth about the legendary "Book of Robots", a text which may finally explain the real history of this strange world ...

Aqueduct Press is pleased to announce the release of Cheek by Jowl, a collection of talks and essays on how and why fantasy matters, by Ursula K. Le Guin. In these essays, Le Guin argues passionately that the homogenization of our world makes the work of fantasy essential for helping us break through what she calls ''the reality trap.'' Le Guin writes not only of the pleasures of her own childhood reading, but also about what fantasy means for all of us living in the global twenty-first century.

> The Currents of Space, Isaac Asimov
> Conspirator, C.J. Cherryh
> City of Glass, Cassandra Clare
> The Onion Girl, Charles de Lint
> The Red Wolf Conspiracy, Robert V.S. Redick
> Empties, George Zebrowski
> The Ashes of Worlds, Kevin J. Anderson
> To Outlive Eternity, Poul Anderson (Anthology)
> Sins and Shadows, Lyn Benedict
> The Lost Fleet: Relentless, Jack Campbell
> Genesis, Paul Chafe
> Congo, Michael Crichton (Reprint)
> State of Fear, Michael Crichton (Reprint)
> The Terminal Man, Michael Crichton (Reprint)
> Eve of Darkness, S.J. Day
> Dayhunter, Jocelynn Drake
> The Twisted Citadel, Sara Douglass
> Terminator Salvation, Alan Dean Foster
> The Laurentine Spy, Emily Gee
> In a Time of Treason, David Keck
> Odd Hours, Dean Koontz
> Warhammer 40,000: Heroes of the Space Marines, Nick Kyme, Lindsey Priestley
> Fallen, Tim Lebbon
> Singularity’s Ring, Paul Melko
> The Hero of Ages, Brandon Sanderson
> Blood of Elves, Andrzej Sapkowski
> Zoe’s Tale, John Scalzi
> The Trouble with Demons, Lisa Shearin
> Heavy Mental, Ian Shirley
> The Dragons of Babel, Michael Swanwick
> Slanted Jack, Mark L. Van Name
> Star Trek: Vanguard: Open Secrets, Dayton Ward
> The Grand Conjunction: Astropolis, Sean Williams
> The Curse of the Mistwraith, Janny Wurts

Saturday, April 25, 2009

NYT bestsellers for April 24th

Jim Butcher’s Turn Coat slips two spots in its second week on the list to number 3. (Amazon, B&N)

Stephanie Meyer’s The Host finishes its 49th week down one spot to number 5. (Amazon, B&N)

Aaron Allston’s Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Outcast tumbles nine positions to number 24 at the end of its fourth week. (Amazon, B&N)

David Benioff’s City of Thieves maintains its strong position at number 3 at the end of its third week. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ From Dead to Worse slips a point in its third week to number 4. (Amazon, B&N)

Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is back up six ranks to number 7 in week three. (Amazon, B&N)

Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Acheron is down eight positions in its third week to number 27. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark and Leaving Dead in Dallas are at ranks number 17 and 28 respectively.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

NYT bestsellers for April 17th

Jim Butcher's Turn Coat, the eleventh book in the Dresden Files, takes the top spot at number 1 on the NYT bestseller list. (Amazon, B&N)

Stephanie Meyer’s The Host is down two spots to number 4 in its 48th week. (Amazon, B&N)

Aaron Allston’s Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Outcast slips four points in its third week to number 15. (Amazon, B&N)

Raymond E. Feist’s Rides a Dread Legion falls eight ranks in its second week to number 24. (Amazon, B&N)

David Benioff’s City of Thieves climbs a single spot to number 3 in its second week on the list. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ From Dead to Worse, also in its second week, is down to two points to number 3. (Amazon, B&N)

Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies rounds out its second week down ten to number 13. (Amazon, B&N)

Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Acheron finishes week two down five to number 19. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark is up a single point to number 26 in its third second week. (Amazon, B&N)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Review: The Crown Conspiracy

The Crown Conspiracy
by Michael J. Sullivan

Format: Paperback, 296 pages
Publisher: Aspirations Media
Cover Design: Michael J. Sullivan
Release Date: October 1, 2008
ISBN-10: 0-980003437
ISBN-13: 978-0980003437

“There is no ancient evil to defeat, no orphan destined for greatness, just two guys in the wrong place at the wrong time...Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats in a plot to murder the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out…and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.”

Thus states the book’s synopsis on the author’s webpage and it explains the plot pretty well. The Crown Conspiracy is the first book in the six-part Riyria Revelations. Each book is supposed to be part of a larger tale, yet can also be read individually as stand-alone novels. Also, according to the author’s site, all the books in the series are already written so future installments should be coming quite soon. Indeed, the second story, Avempartha, was released last month and if the pattern continues, the third should be out in another five months.

As the reader can tell from the book’s synopsis, The Crown Conspiracy has a little bit of everything. It has elves, murder, wizards, intrigue, war, adventure, and hope. You might think there is too much for one book. And while it’s true that the book comes in just shy of three hundred pages, the plot takes off fairly quickly. Truthfully, the tale is quite concise without much meandering or world building except what is needed for the story. In many ways, the novel takes all the conventional tropes of a traditional fantasy story, takes what it needs, and throws out the rest. What is left is a quick and entertaining read.

One of my complaints with the novel is that the story seemed a little too simplistic. Drama and tension were resolved a little quickly, and some of the character inteactions were a little too easy. My other complaint is that it seems the world isn’t big enough for the story and the people in it. What I mean by that is that while the map at the front shows a fairly good-sized continent with plenty of space, the land as described in the story seems smaller than it should be. For instance, early in the book the main characters cover a fair distance in only one day, a distance that is over half the entire size of a kingdom. Luckily, both of these issues are handled somewhat better towards the end of the novel.

The Crown Conspiracy has a few, small flaws, but on the whole it is also a fast-paced and entertaining story. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series. Recommended.

Rating: 7.5/10

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Review: Turn Coat

Turn Coat
by Jim Butcher

Format: Hardcover, 420 pages
Publisher: Roc Trade
Cover Design: Chris McGrath
Release Date: April, 7 2009
ISBN-10: 0-451462565
ISBN-13: 978-0451462565

Harry Dresden has never gotten along with Morgan. Maybe it has to do with how the veteran Warden has hounded him most of his life. But when Morgan shows up on Harry’s doorstep, bleeding and on the run from the White Council, what’s an upstanding wizard to do? Harry doesn’t like it but he can’t let a man be labeled a traitor and executed for something he hasn’t done.

Determined to clear Morgan’s name, Harry begins to search for the traitor on the White Council. Along the way, he runs into a British weasel who can summon beings from the Nevernever and an ancient Navajo skinwalker. It also doesn’t help that his brother Thomas disappears and the White Court vampires also get drawn into the whole mess. Will Harry be able to prove Morgan’s innocence or is the Warden’s fate sealed no matter what?

The latest installment in the Dresden Files is full of action and lots of plot development. As always Harry runs afoul of several different players at once, however his tenacity pays off and he manages to pit them against each other. The traitor plot is resolved and the thread is set up for a new arc in the series. This book is also a fair bit darker as he becomes isolated from those that keep him grounded and his apprentice Molly makes some bad choices. The traitor’s revelation actually ends up being the weakest part of the novel.

Note: the following lines contain plot spoilers. Those who haven’t read the book should skip to the next paragraph. My biggest gripe with Turn Coat is over who was revealed as the traitor on the council. I thought the traitor being the secretary was a bit of copout. Butcher mentioned a few books back that only a handful of people could have known a key piece of information and Peabody was not one of them. As the secretary for the senior members, it’s possible Peabody have could known all the necessary details, but I it didn’t ring quite true. Ultimately, other actions on the part of the traitor did make the plotline easier to swallow so the book ended fairly well.

Turn Coat is another fast-paced and addictive book in the fun and fantastic Dresden Files series. Recommended.

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, April 12, 2009

New releases for the week of April 14th


(Amazon, B&N)

Bova's cautionary medical thriller, the uncut version of his 1996 novel Brothers, explores the political, social and religious ramifications of what could be humankind's greatest medical breakthrough-organ regeneration. When biotech lab director Arthur Marshak discovers a way to grow replacement organs and limbs within a patient's own body, the uproar from religious extremists, conservative politicians and sensationalized media coverage threatens to derail the project. When Marshak decides to let a "science court" in Washington, D.C., rule on the validity of human organ regeneration, the subsequent travesty of a tribunal not only imperils his career but also his tempestuous relationship with his estranged brother, who happens to be married to Arthur's ex-fiancée.

> House of Windows, John Langan
> A Forthcoming Wizard, Jody Lynn Nye
> Fire Raiser, Melanie Rawn
> The Revolution Business, Charles Stross
> Thirteenth Child, Patricia C. Wrede
> The Sugar Queen, Sarah Addison Allen
> The Sam Gunn Omnibus, Ben Bova
> Viewpoints Critical, L.E. Modesitt Jr. (Anthology)
> Orcs: Bad Blood, Stan Nicholls

Saturday, April 11, 2009

NYT bestsellers for April 10th


Stephanie Meyer’s The Host is back up to number 2, up three in its 47th week. (Amazon, B&N)

Aaron Allston’s Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Outcast falls eight positions to number 11 in its second week. (Amazon, B&N)

Raymond E. Feist’s Rides a Dread Legion makes its debut on the NYT bestseller list at number 16. (Amazon, B&N)

Kim Harrison’s White Witch, Black Curse tumbles another 6 points in its sixth week to stop at number 26. (Amazon, B&N)

Christopher Moore’s Fool slips three ranks to number 31 in week eight. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ From Dead to Worse makes its debut on the paperback list at number 1. (Amazon, B&N)

The third debut this week is David Benioff’s City of Thieves at number 4. (Amazon, B&N)

Sherrilyn Kenyon’s latest Dark Hunter book Acheron also makes its debut at number 14. (Amazon, B&N)

The final debut this week at number 16 is Ilona Andrews’ Magic Strikes. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark is back on the paperback list at number 27. (Amazon, B&N)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Review: The Sun Over Breda

The Sun Over Breda
by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Format: Paperback, 273 pages
Publisher: PlumeCover Design: Chin-Yee Lai, Thomas J. Abercrombie/Getty Images
Release Date: April 5, 2007
ISBN-10: 0-452289741
ISBN-13: 978-0452289741

In the third installment in the Captain Alatriste series, the story moves to the battlefields of the Netherlands. The Dutch lands are in revolt against the Spanish-Austrian monarchy and the crown is determined to hold onto the land. Diedo Alatriste has re-enlisted in his old tercio, both to avoid political troubles at home, but also to settle his restless nature. Inigo, as always, accompanies him as his servant.

The story opens with the capture of a Dutch military fort as part of an operation by Alatriste’s tercio to put the squeeze on the city of Breda. The siege of the city takes up a fair amount of the plot as well as two major battles between Spanish and Dutch forces. Full of fighting and action, this tale is a somewhat different book in the series.

The Sun Over Breda marks a slight shift in the series storytelling. The previous two books focused more on politics and intrigue on the streets and in the court of Madrid. The latest novel is an almost straight-up military tale from the point of view of 17th Century soldier. The reader gets a very in-depth look of the Spanish army as the empire’s power begins to wane.

I was surprised to learn with this book that the author is basing the series on an actual manuscript written none other than the books’ narrator. I look forward to seeing where the series goes from here.

The Sun over Breda is another good edition to the Arturo Perez-Reverte’s popular historical fiction series. Recommended for all fans.

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, April 5, 2009

New releases for the week of April 7th


The search for a traitor in the highest circles of power forms the main plot thread of Butcher's 11th hard-boiled fantasy novel featuring Chicago's wizard detective Harry Dresden. Harry, a warden of the magic-governing White Council, finds himself in an unusual position when Morgan, his fellow warden and frequent antagonist, asks for his help. One of the White Council's leaders has been murdered, and Morgan was found at the scene of the crime holding the murder weapon. If he has been framed, then another senior wizard is behind the killing and may be trying to destroy the council entirely. Aided by werewolf and vampire allies, Dresden investigates with his trademark sardonic noir flair.

> The Stranger, Max Frei
> A Madness of Angels, Kat Griffin
> Longeye, Sharon Lee, Steve Miller
> Corambis, Sarah Monette
> WWW: Wake, Robert J. Sawyer
> Contact with Chaos, Michael Z. Williamson
> Blue Diablo, Ann Aguirre
> Dragon’s Luck, Robert Asprin
(Amazon, B&N)

> The Firebrand, Marion Zimmer Bradley (Reprint)
> Nebula Awards Showcase 2009, Ellen Datlow (Anthology)
> Other Earths, Nick Gevers, Jay Lake (Anthology)
> The Game of Stars and Comets, Andre Norton
> Dancing on the Head of a Pin, Thomas E. Sniegoski
> Ghostland, Jory Strong
> Red-Headed Stepchild, Jaye Wells
> Shadowplay, Tad Williams
> Ballistic Babes, John Zakour, Lawrence Ganem (Omnibus)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

NYT bestsellers for April 3rd

Aaron Allston’s Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Outcast makes it debut on the bestseller list at number 3. (Amazon, B&N)

Stephanie Meyer’s The Host slips a spot to number 5 in its 46th week. (Amazon, B&N)

Kim Harrison’s White Witch, Black Curse is down to number 20 in its fifth week, down eight from last week. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ From Dead to Worse is down six ranks in week twenty-seven to number 27. (Amazon, B&N)

Christopher Moore’s Fool tumbles a full ten positions to end its seventh week at number 28. (Amazon, B&N)

Jim Butcher’s Small Favor is still doing well albeit down six points to number 19 in its fourth week. (Amazon, B&N)

Brent Weeks’ The Way of Shadows is going strong in week two, up two spots to number 29. (Amazon, B&N)

Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark and Living Dead in Dallas are at number 30 and number 21 respectively.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Review: Purity of Blood

Purity of Blood

Paperback, 267 pages
Publisher: Plume
Cover Design: Artists Rights Society
Release Date: November 28, 2006
ISBN-10: 0-452287987
ISBN-13: 978-0452287987

Recently, I’ve been interested in reading more historical fiction so last fall I picked up Captain Alatriste, the first book in a series by Arturo Perez-Reverte, on the strength of several recommendations. Unfortunately, the book failed to grab me. Last week I decided to give the series another chance and bought the second book, Purity of Blood. I’m glad that I did.

Purity of Blood picks up about a year after the events in Captain Alatriste. The narrator, Inigo Balboa, is now nearly fourteen years old and is still serving the swordsman-for-hire, Diego Alatriste. A friend of the captain comes to hire him to infiltrate a convent and rescue a young woman being held against her will. The family has no legal recourse because the head priest has threatened to expose them as being of Jewish descent. In 17th Century Spain, this is tantamount to a death sentence. However, the plan goes awry and Alatriste and company are quickly caught up in a much higher struggle for power.

I have to say I really enjoyed Purity of Blood much more than the first book. My main complaint with Captain Alatriste was that it did not have enough of a plotline for the story. The plot quickly petered out and the rest of the book was filled with a narrative exposition on the political and cultural background. I love reading about history, but generally I don’t find it a good idea to tell a story this way.

The good news is that I did have to worry about this problem with the second book. Though the plotline slowed down a bit, it did continue all the way to the end. The ending ended up being a little anti-climatic, however, it worked for the story that the author was telling. I also liked that the poetry segments were far fewer in number this time around. I’ve never been a fan of verse and the Captain Alatriste seemed to have way too much of it.

Overall, Purity of Blood is a good historical fiction novel and definitely better than the first Alatriste book in the series. Recommended.

Rating: 8/10