Sunday, December 27, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-12-26)

Just one book on this shortened Christmas week here at the 'o Stuff HQ.

Medusa’s Web by Tim Powers Harper Voyager / William Morrow Hardcover 01/19/16) – Powers, to be blunt, is a living legend. This is the first 2016 book for which I’ve been sent an ARC.

From the award-winning author of Hide Me Among the Graves, Last Call, Declare, and Three Days to Never, a phantasmagoric, thrilling, mind-bending tale of speculative fiction in which one man must uncover occult secrets of 1920s Hollywood to save his family.

In the wake of their Aunt Amity’s suicide, Scott and Madeline Madden are summoned to Caveat, the eerie, decaying mansion in the Hollywood hills in which they were raised. But their decadent and reclusive cousins, the malicious wheelchair-bound Claimayne and his sister, Ariel, do not welcome Scott and Madeline’s return to the childhood home they once shared. While Scott desperately wants to go back to their shabby South-of-Sunset lives, he cannot pry his sister away from this haunted “House of Usher in the Hollywood Hills” that is a conduit for the supernatural.

Decorated by bits salvaged from old hotels and movie sets, Caveat hides a dark family secret that stretches back to the golden days of Rudolph Valentino and the silent film stars. A collection of hypnotic eight-limbed abstract images inked on paper allows the Maddens to briefly fragment and flatten time—to transport themselves into the past and future in visions that are both puzzling and terrifying. Though their cousins know little about these ancient “spiders” which provoke unpredictable temporal dislocations, Ariel and Claimayne have been using for years—an addiction that has brought Claimayne to the brink of selfish destruction.

As Madeline falls more completely under Caveat’s spell, Scott discovers that to protect her, he must use the perilous spiders himself. But will he unravel the mystery of the Madden family’s past and finally free them. . . or be pulled deeper into their deadly web?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-12-19) - NO BITM

No books this week, which isn't such a bad thing considering how large Mount Toberead has grown. So rather than new books, I'll wish you all a Merry Christmas and share a picture of Sully from last Christmas. This is the photo we used for our Christmas card this year.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-12-12)

A pretty impressive stash of books this week. Which ones stand out to you, my fine readers? I know which one is jumping high up Mount Toberead.

Blood of Innocents (Sorcery Ascendant #2) by Mitchell Hogan (Harper Voyager / William Morrow Trade Paperback 02/02/16) – Second installment in Hogan’s Sorcery Ascendant saga.

A novice sorcerer may hold the key to saving his world—or be the instrument of its destruction—in this second book in The Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, a mesmerizing saga of high fantasy that combines magic, malevolence, and mystery.

Anasoma, jewel of the Mahruse Empire, has fallen.

As orphaned, monk-raised Caldan and his companions flee the city, leaving behind their hopes for a new beginning, horrors from the time of the Shattering begin to close in.

With Miranda’s mind broken by forbidden sorcery, Caldan does the unthinkable to save her: he breaks the most sacrosanct laws of the Protectors. But when the emperor’s warlocks arrive to capture him, Caldan realizes that his burgeoning powers may be more of a curse than a blessing, and the enemies assailing the empire may be rivaled by more sinister forces within.

And soon, the blood of innocents may be on Caldan’s own hands.

Steal the Sky (The Scorched Continent Book One) by Megan E. O’Keefe (Angry Robot Books Mass Market Paperback 01/05/2016) – O’Keefe’s debut looks like a fun mash up steampunk and magic.

Detan Honding, a wanted conman of noble birth and ignoble tongue, has found himself in the oasis city of Aransa. He and his trusted companion Tibs may have pulled off one too many cons against the city’s elite and need to make a quick escape. They set their sights on their biggest heist yet – the gorgeous airship of the exiled commodore Thratia.

But in the middle of his scheme, a face changer known as a doppel starts murdering key members of Aransa’s government. The sudden paranoia makes Detan’s plans of stealing Thratia’s ship that much harder. And with this sudden power vacuum, Thratia can solidify her power and wreak havoc against the Empire. But the doppel isn’t working for Thratia and has her own intentions. Did Detan accidentally walk into a revolution and a crusade? He has to be careful – there’s a reason most people think he’s dead. And if his dangerous secret gets revealed, he has a lot more to worry about than a stolen airship.

Drake (The Burned Man #1) by Peter McLean (Angry Robot Books Mass Market Paperback 01/05/2016) – McLean’s debut is a noir-ish urban fantasy that looks to be along the lines of Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series of novels.

Hitman Don Drake owes a gambling debt to a demon. Forced to carry out one more assassination to clear his debt, Don unwittingly kills an innocent child and brings the Furies of Greek myth down upon himself.

Rescued by an almost-fallen angel called Trixie, Don and his magical accomplice the Burned Man, an imprisoned archdemon, are forced to deal with Lucifer himself whilst battling a powerful evil magician.

Now Don must foil Lucifer’s plan to complete Trixie’s fall and save her soul whilst preventing the Burned Man from breaking free from captivity and wreaking havoc on the entire world.

This Census-Taker by China Miéville (Del Rey, Hardcover 01/12/2016) – This is Miéville’s first novel for adults in nearly 5 years (2011’s Embassytown, Railsea in 2012 was a Young Adult novel)

For readers of George Saunders, Kelly Link, David Mitchell, and Karen Russell, This Census-Taker is a stunning, uncanny, and profoundly moving novella from multiple-award-winning and bestselling author China Miéville.

In a remote house on a hilltop, a lonely boy witnesses a profoundly traumatic event. He tries—and fails—to flee. Left alone with his increasingly deranged parent, he dreams of safety, of joining the other children in the town below, of escape.

When at last a stranger knocks at his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation might be over.

But by what authority does this man keep the meticulous records he carries? What is the purpose behind his questions? Is he friend? Enemy? Or something else altogether?

Filled with beauty, terror, and strangeness, This Census-Taker is a poignant and riveting exploration of memory and identity.

Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor 09/01/2015) – Schoen is fairly known figure in SF fandom/circles, he’s published a couple of novels, many short stories, and is one of the authorities of the Klingon language. I *think* I’ve seen him at a couple of events.

The Sixth Sense meets Planet of the Apes in a moving science fiction novel set so far in the future, humanity is gone and forgotten in Lawrence M. Schoen's Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard

An historian who speaks with the dead is ensnared by the past. A child who feels no pain and who should not exist sees the future. Between them are truths that will shake worlds.

In a distant future, no remnants of human beings remain, but their successors thrive throughout the galaxy. These are the offspring of humanity's genius-animals uplifted into walking, talking, sentient beings. The Fant are one such species: anthropomorphic elephants ostracized by other races, and long ago exiled to the rainy ghetto world of Barsk. There, they develop medicines upon which all species now depend. The most coveted of these drugs is koph, which allows a small number of users to interact with the recently deceased and learn their secrets.

To break the Fant's control of koph, an offworld shadow group attempts to force the Fant to surrender their knowledge. Jorl, a Fant Speaker with the dead, is compelled to question his deceased best friend, who years ago mysteriously committed suicide. In so doing, Jorl unearths a secret the powers that be would prefer to keep buried forever. Meanwhile, his dead friend's son, a physically challenged young Fant named Pizlo, is driven by disturbing visions to take his first unsteady steps toward an uncertain future.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-12-05)

Just one book this week…

The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks (Del Rey Mass Market Paperback 12/01/2015) – Nearly thirty years ago, Terry Brooks helped to change the landscape of fantasy publishing with The Sword of Shannara, but it is his second book, The Elfstones of Shannara that many consider his best and most defining novel. Rumors have persisted for years that some kind of Shannara adaption was in the works. Well, in January 2016, MTV of all places will be launching The Shannara Chronicles TV Series and this edition of the book is a tie in edition with (very spoiler) series imagery. My pal Aidan is doing a re-read of the book over at in preparation for the TV Show.


Thousands of years after the destruction of the age of man and science, new races and magic now rule the world, but an imminent danger threatens. A horde of evil Demons is beginning to escape and bring death upon the land. Only Wil Ohmsford, the last of the Shannara bloodline, has the power to guard the Elven Princess Amberle on a perilous quest to the save the world, while the leader of the Demon force aims to stop their mission at any cost.

Praise for Terry Brooks

“Shannara was one of my favorite fictional worlds growing up, and I look forward to many return trips.”—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!

“If Tolkien is the grandfather of modern fantasy, Terry Brooks is its favorite uncle.”—Peter V. Brett, author of The Skull Throne

“A great storyteller, Terry Brooks creates rich epics filled with mystery, magic, and memorable characters.”—Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon

Friday, December 04, 2015

Friday Round-Up: Fletcher & Elliott @SFFWorld, October Mind Meld @SFSignal

Been a while since I rounded up my links o’ stuff, so this is going to be a longer post than usual but it has been a bit hectic at the o’ Stuff with the new (as of August) job with the big biannual meeting for my group falling squarely in the middle of the month.

The “oldest” thing since my last round-up is my review of Michael R. Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption, which might be the grimdarkiest grimdark novel to ever grimdark.

In Michael R. Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption, dreams, desires, and imagination manifest as reality and the unhinged are the most powerful, affecting the world most profoundly. Others can affect it in a more personal manner. For example, the character of Wichtig deems himself the Greatest Swordsman in the World. The more he says this, the more he believes it and gets others to believe it, the more true it becomes to the point an opponent refuses to fight Wichtig because of how Wichtig’s belief in himself has affected other people. At the apex of this world is the Konig Furimmer, high priest of the Geborene Damonen, a mad ruler who argues with his Doppels (magically created doubles) about his sanity and rule. Konig has one mad plan above all, to create a new God as all other gods have fallen out of favor. The key to Konig’s plan is that this boy – Morgen – must generate enough belief in his power and die purely so he can Ascend to god-hood.

Fletcher’s world has a very heavy Germanic influence, each of the titles and many of the proper names are evocative of the German language if not outright German worlds. There’s a thick layer of grime on Fletcher’s world that permeates everything, there is nothing nice or pretty about it. Even the young godling, initially idealistic, becomes a dark reflection of the world he inhabits. This evoked images of a world where, perhaps, Nazi Germany reigned over a continent it nearly destroyed, especially with the Konig’s far reaching plan of dominance. The plan to create a new God immediately drew comparisons toDune in my mind.

The very next day, my Mind Meld for November was posted, wherein I asked Andrew Leon Hudson, Stephenie Sheung (AKA @MMOGC), Richard Shealy (AKA @SheckyX), Michael R. Fletcher, Mark Yon, and Erin Lindsey the following question:

Most recently (this week), my review of Kate Elliott’s Black Wolves, a book that was high on my list of anticipated titles and one that exceeded my expectations:

Kate Elliott’s Black Wolves launches a new series; a grand, sweeping epic featuring a fracturing dynasty beset by outside challenges and inside strife; committed honor-bound soldiers coming out of retirement; demons lurking behind the guises of humans; and maybe best of all, a force of protectors who bond with large eagles to protect the realm. At the center of this epic are Dannarah, princess and leader among those who bond to the eagles, and Kellas, a Black Wolf who has retired from his duty (mainly because the kings he protected are dead).

Black Wolves is a novel that is both remarkably dense (700+ pages), but deceptively fast paced and addictively readable. Elliott props societal structures either to polish them anew or dismantle them for their failings. Through Dannarah’s eyes, we see how problematic an organization can become when an inept organization can become when blind pride gets in the way. She is supremely devoted to the reves and sees power being unjustly pulled from underneath her and from what the eagles and the reves exemplify. When she is present for an injustice about to be perpetrated on Lifka, Dannarah does all in her power to save the girl and (literally) bring her under her wing.
the prevailing fantastical elements….well, the enormous eagles of course. There’s a bond between the reve (rider) and eagle that is not dissimilar to the dragon/rider relationship in Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels. The eagles “jess” potential reves to choose their rider and the two form a powerful lifetime bond (also similar to Naomi Novik’s dragons and their riders in her Temeraire series). There are also demons in this fully realized world although their true nature demons is somewhat muddled as they are secretive, hide behind human guises and are initially presented as enemies of humanity, but the hints peppered throughout the novel have me very intrigued about their true nature.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-11-28)

Just when I thought nothing would arrive this week, all three of these books landed on Friday.

The Cold Between (Central Corps #1) by Elizabeth Bonesteel (HarperVoyager Trade Paperback 03/08/2015) – Bonesteel’s debut novel looks like a fun mix of noir and space opera.

Deep in the stars, a young officer and her lover are plunged into a murder mystery and a deadly conspiracy in this first entry in a stellar military science-fiction series in the tradition of Lois McMaster Bujold.

When her crewmate, Danny, is murdered on the colony of Volhynia, Central Corps chief engineer, Commander Elena Shaw, is shocked to learn the main suspect is her lover, Treiko Zajec. She knows Trey is innocent—he was with her when Danny was killed. So who is the real killer and why are the cops framing an innocent man?

Retracing Danny’s last hours, they discover that his death may be tied to a mystery from the past: the explosion of a Central Corps starship at a wormhole near Volhynia. For twenty-five years, the Central Gov has been lying about the tragedy, even willing to go to war with the outlaw PSI to protect their secrets.

With the authorities closing in, Elena and Trey head to the wormhole, certain they’ll find answers on the other side. But the truth that awaits them is far more terrifying than they ever imagined . . . a conspiracy deep within Central Gov that threatens all of human civilization throughout the inhabited reaches of the galaxy—and beyond.

Bloodbound (A Pathfinder Tales novel) by F. Wesley Schneider (Tor Trade Paperback 11/03/2015) – Schneider co-created the Pathfinder RPG and if the work of his fellow co-creator James L. Sutter is any indication, this one should be fun.

Larsa is a dhampir-half vampire, half human. In the gritty streets and haunted moors of gothic Ustalav, she's an agent for the royal spymaster, keeping peace between the capital's secret vampire population and its huddled human masses. Yet when a noblewoman's entire house is massacred by vampiric invaders, Larsa is drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that will reveal far more about her own heritage than she ever wanted to know.

From Pathfinder co-creator and noted game designer F. Wesley Schneider comes Bloodbound, a dark fantasy adventure of murder, intrigue, and secrets best left buried, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Role Playing Game.

Eagle in Exile (The Clash of Eagles Trilogy Book Two) by Alan Smale (Del Rey Hardcover 03/15/2015) – Second installment of Smale’s Alternate History, which sprouted from a Sidewise Award winning short story.

Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Steve Berry, Naomi Novik, and Harry Turtledove, Alan Smale’s gripping alternate history series imagines a world in which the Roman Empire has survived long enough to invade North America in 1218. Now the stunning story carries hero Gaius Marcellinus deeper into the culture of an extraordinary people—whose humanity, bravery, love, and ingenuity forever change his life and destiny.

In A.D. 1218, Praetor Gaius Marcellinus is ordered to conquer North America and turning it into a Roman province. But outside the walls of the great city of Cahokia, his legion is destroyed outright; Marcellinus is the only one spared. In the months and years that follow, Marcellinus comes to see North America as his home and the Cahokians as his kin. He vows to defend these proud people from any threat, Roman or native.

After successfully repelling an invasion by the fearsome Iroqua tribes, Marcellinus realizes that a weak and fractured North America won’t stand a chance against the returning Roman army. Worse, rival factions from within threaten to tear Cahokia apart just when it needs to be most united and strong. Marcellinus is determined to save the civilization that has come to mean more to him than the empire he once served. But to survive the swords of Roma, he first must avert another Iroqua attack and bring the Cahokia together. Only with the hearts and souls of a nation at his back can Marcellinus hope to know triumph..

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-11-21)

Since only one book arrived this week and it's been a while since I did the intro to this weekly post, here goes...

As a reviewer for SFFWorld (as well as SF Signal and and maybe because of this blog, I receive a lot of books for review from various publishers. Since I can't possibly read everything that arrives, I figure the least I can do (like some of my fellow bloggers) is mention the books I receive for review on the blog to at least acknowledge the books even if I don't read them.

Sometimes I get one or two books, other weeks I'll get nearly a dozen books. Some weeks, I’ll receive a finished (i.e. the version people see on bookshelves) copy of a book for which I received an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) weeks or months prior to the actual publication of the book. I’ve been receiving a greater percentage of electronic ARCs this year which is good because death via drowning in a sea of unread books is not how I want to say goodbye to this world.

Sometimes I'll want to read everything that arrives, other weeks, the books immediately go into the "I'll never read this book" pile, while still others go into the nebulous "maybe-I'll-read-it-category." More often than not, it is a mix of books that appeal to me at different levels (i.e. from "this book holds ZERO appeal for me" to "I cannot WAIT to read this book yesterday"). Have a guess in the comments about which book fits my reading labels “I’ll Never Read…” “Zero Appeal” or “cannot wait” "maybe I'll get to it later" and so forth...

A Murder of Mages: A Novel of the Maradaine Constabulary by Marshall Ryan Maresca (DAW Mass Market Paperback 0705/2015) – Maresca’s second series in the same world as his impressive debut The Thorn of Dentonhill

A Murder of Mages marks the debut of Marshall Ryan Maresca’s novels of The Maradaine Constabulary, his second series set amid the bustling streets and crime-ridden districts of the exotic city called Maradaine. A Murder of Mages introduces us to this spellbinding port city as seen through the eyes of the people who strive to maintain law and order, the hardworking men and women of the Maradaine Constabulary.

Satrine Rainey—former street rat, ex-spy, mother of two, and wife to a Constabulary Inspector who lies on the edge of death, injured in the line of duty—has been forced to fake her way into the post of Constabulary Inspector to support her family.

Minox Welling is a brilliant, unorthodox Inspector and an Uncircled mage—almost a crime in itself. Nicknamed “the jinx” because of the misfortunes that seem to befall anyone around him, Minox has been partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with either of them.

Their first case together—the ritual murder of a Circled mage— sends Satrine back to the streets she grew up on and brings Minox face-to-face with mage politics he’s desperate to avoid. As the body count rises, Satrine and Minox must race to catch the killer before their own secrets are exposed and they, too, become targets.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-11-14)

Slow week here, which is good and will allow me to catch up with what I've already got on Mount Toberead

Pirate’s Prophecy (A Pathfinder Tales novel) by Chris Jackson (Paizo Trade Paperback 02/02/2016) – Jackson’s third book for the popular Pathfinder world sees him pick up the story of the pirate Torius Vin first introduced in Pirate’s Honor and continued in Pirate’s Promise.

Paizo Publishing is the award-winning publisher of fantasy roleplaying games, accessories, and board games.Pathfinder Tales: Pirate's Prophecy is the continuation of their popular novel series.

Captain Torius Vin and the crew of the Stargazer have given up the pirate life, instead becoming abolitionist privateers bent on capturing slave ships and setting their prisoners free. But when rumors surface of a new secret weapon in devil-ruled Cheliax, are the Stargazers willing to go up against a navy backed by Hell itself?

I, Robot: To Preserve by Mickey Zucker Reichert (Roc Hardcover 02/02/2016) – The final installment in Reichert’s authorized trilogy featuring characters inspired by those in Asimov’s I, Robot milieu.

Inspired by Science Fiction Grand Master Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot stories.

2037: Robotic technology has evolved into the realm of self-aware, sentient mechanical entities. But despite the safeguards programmed into the very core of a robot’s artificial intelligence, humanity’s most brilliant creation can still fall prey to those who believe the Three Laws of Robotics were made to be broken...

N8-C, better known as Nate, has been Manhattan Hasbro Hospital’s resident robot for more than twenty years. A prototype, humanoid in appearance, he was created to interact with people. While some staff accepted working alongside an anthropomorphic robot, Nate’s very existence terrified most people, leaving the robot utilized for menial tasks and generally ignored.

Until one of the hospital’s physicians is found brutally murdered with Nate standing over the corpse, a blood-smeared utility bar clutched in his hand. As designer and programmer of Nate’s positronic brain, Lawrence Robertson is responsible for his creation’s actions and arrested for the crime.

Susan Calvin knows the Three Laws of Robotics make it impossible for Nate to harm a human being. But to prove both Nate’s and Lawrence’s innocence, she has to consider the possibility that someone somehow manipulated the laws to commit murder...

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Round-Up: I'm All over the Place

Got a few things to catch up on in this week’s Friday Round-up. Let’s begin.

Last week, an interview I conducted with one of my favorite writers, C.S. Friedman, was posted to SFFWorld. In it, we discussed her latest YA novel Dreamseeker as well as some of her past work and the great covers her books have had:

The first novel was told in two narrative voices, reading Jesse’s voice helped to impart a great deal of empathy with me as the reader, while the more omniscient views of the story allowed for a greater scope. Will Dreamseeker bounce between those two POVs.

Yes, but with more time devoted to the third person narrative. Dreamseeker follows the story of two main characters whose fates have now become intertwined: Jesse, who is from our world, and Isaac, a young apprentice from a Guild of undead necromancers known as Shadows, who helped Jesse escape from captivity in Dreamwalker. In Dreamseeker, Isaac attempts to return home and make peace with his family, but his human soul cannot accept what undead demand of him.

Was it a challenge to tell the story from two types of narrative perspectives or did it just seem to be the only way to tell it?

My second novel, The Madness Season, alternated between first-person and third-person storytelling as well, so this is not something new for me. The combination is particularly powerful when dealing with a rite of passage story like Dreamwalker, as it allows the reader to experience an intimate connection with the main character, while leaving me free to explore facets of the narrative that she is not aware of.

The balance in Dreamseeker and the third book, Dreamweaver, will be more 50-50 than Dreamwalker was, in part because other characters are now coming to the fore.

This past Friday (11/06) two of my reviews were posted to

Emma Newman’s Planetfall was one of those books and damn was it an intense look at a person suffering from PTSD among other mental disorders on a newly colonized alien planet

Planetfall is at once a fascinating character study through Ren’s first person narrative and a novel that examines how secrets, no matter how buried they are, can be extremely damaging things especially in a small colony in a seeming utopia. Ren spends much of her day as the colony’s printer, responsible for overseeing an advanced 3-D printer which is used to repair damaged items or create them when necessary. Any items. Ren’s obsession with repairing things is a mask for trying to repair the damages left in the wake of Lee’s disappearance and burying her own guilt in the tragic events which transpired nearly two decades ago.

The Unreliable Narrator is quite common in genre, but Newman has effectively dropped the mic on that narrative tool. Ren is a fractured woman who gives new depth to the meaning “unreliable,” and as the story progresses, Ren becomes less of an empathetic character from her fellow colonists’ perspective. If anything, the feeling that grows as more is revealed is pity and frustration.

The other review is from the imprint and the first book acquired by my pal Justin Landon. The book? The supremely fun and engaging short novel The Builders by Daniel Polansky,

The story begins in a bar where the Captain (just the Captain, no other name is needed) awaits the return of his allies. As each of the players are introduced, Polansky reveals small details about each character. After the Captain, Polansky introduces perhaps the most over-the-top character: Bonsoir the stoat. Because a talking mouse with an eye-patch named simply the Captain isn’t over-the-top enough. As the narrative indicates, there are many animals like a stoat, but stoats are unique. To say the stoat has a flair for the dramatic is to say the sun gives off light; the sun is unavoidable in life and Bonsoir is unavoidable in this story. As it should be.

There’s a philosophical question at the heart of this story too, can people change? Are we always going to revert to our baser natures? Can an individual who was once a killer ever escape that violent past and eschew any violent impulses? The Captain is hoping his former team members can’t, because that is what is required to see this revenge plan to its end. Polansky brings life to that essential question brilliantly through the characters, some give in easily to their past behaviors, others struggle against it.

I was part of the last two Mind Melds over at SF Signal (and will be posting the one I’m curating next week). Last week, my pal Paul Wiemer organized a Mind Meld around Audio books. I gushed about the audible adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabe Rodriguez’s Locke & Key, Dominion by C.S. Friedman, and Jonathan Maberry’s Patient Zero.

This week, one of the men behind the curtain of SF Signal, JP Frantz, corralled a few of us Mind Melders and asked what our favorite recent reads were. I shouted out Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Cherie Priest’s Borden Dispatches, Bradley P. Beaulieu’s Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, Jason M. Hough’s Zero World, C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner, and Updraft.

A couple of days ago, something long in the simmering posted. A few months ago, Fred Kiesche, Joe Sherry, Paul Wiemer, Jonah Morse, and The G (of Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together), and I were involved in a twitter conversation about Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni novels, specifically the first one Deryni Rising.

We all decided that we’d do something more formal, like a round-table blog discussion. Well, the G went and posted that mega roundtable discussion over at Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together.

[The G] I think it’s fair to say we all really liked Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz--I know I did. But what is it, exactly, that makes this novel hold up so well? I mean, it’s more than 40 years old, but it feels quite modern in many ways. Am I right? Why or why not?

Rob Bedford: In large part, it is Kurtz’s ability to build up the narrative tension as the novel ramped up to the confrontation with Charissa. Good, gripping storytelling survives and continues to draw people in because it keeps people from stepping away from the story. I think it is the simplicity of the story and how elegantly Kurtz constructs the story.

Last, but not least, I reviewed C.A. Higgins’ debut novel Lightless, which really impressed me:

The crew of the Ananke is quite small. Surrounding Althea are Domitian, ship’s captain and Gagnon, the senior scientist. The crew grows by one when Ida Stays, an interrogator from the System, arrives to determine Ivanov and Mattie’s links to Mallt-y-Nos, a galactic terrorist…well, just Ivanov now since Mattie escaped (or was killed according to Althea’s superiors aboard the Ananke). After that chess-board is set-up (about ¼ to 1/3 of the novel), Higgins begins to maneuver her characters in expert fashion. Her characters begin to question what they have come to know and how they view their situation – especially Althea – which makes for a great puzzle of a novel to decipher.

Higgins plays these characters off of each other extremely well with all the interactions floating on an undercurrent of distrust and anger. While Domitian plays a very authoritative figure, he becomes a shadow of a man in the presence of both Ida and Ivanov. He treats Althea as little more than an inexperienced child throughout much of the narrative, perhaps because she is the only person over whom he can hold power.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-11-07)

One of these will be my next read.

Ash and Silver (A Sanctuary Novel #2) by Carol Berg (Roc, Trade Paperback 12/01/2015) - Berg has been on my radar for a couple of years, even more so over the past couple of years. My friend Sarah Chorn, (has a blurb for book one in the front matter of this one!) raves about Berg, so maybe with the duology published, I’ll jump into them.

Navronne's brutal civil war has exposed corruption that could bring the once glorious kingdom to its knees, unless someone can be found to stop it. . .

Ever since the secretive Order of the Equites Cineré - the Knights of the Ashes - stole his memory, his name, and his heart, considering the past makes Greenshank's head ache. After two rigorous years of training he is ready to embrace the mission of the Order - to use selfless magic to heal Navronne's troubles. But on his first assignment, the past comes roaring back, threatening to drown him in conspiracy, grief, and murder. 

He is Lucian de Remeni - a sorcerer whose magical bents for portraiture and history threaten the safety of the earth and the future of the war-riven kingdom of Navronne. He just can't remember how or why. 

To untangle his missing past and a cryptic outsider’s plan for his future, Lucian must evade the brutal justice of elemental beings, solve a crime hidden in the depths of history, and locate a city beyond the boundaries of the human world . . .

Made to Kill by Adam Christopher (The L.A. Trilogy #1) - (Tor Hardcover 11/03/2015) – Christopher has a really impressive output and this one is a robot noir mystery. Sounds like it could be fun

It was just another Tuesday morning when she walked into the office--young, as I suspected they all might be, another dark brunette with some assistance and enough eye black to match up to Cleopatra. And who am I? I'm Ray, the world's last robot, famed and feared in equal measure, which suits me just fine--after all, the last place you'd expect to find Hollywood's best hit man is in the plain light of day.

Raymond Electromatic is good at his job, as good as he ever was at being a true Private Investigator, the lone employee of the Electromatic Detective Agency--except for Ada, office gal and super-computer, the constant voice in Ray's inner ear. Ray might have taken up a new line of work, but money is money, after all, and he was programmed to make a profit. Besides, with his twenty-four-hour memory-tape limits, he sure can keep a secret.

When a familiar-looking woman arrives at the agency wanting to hire Ray to find a missing movie star, he's inclined to tell her to take a hike. But she had the cold hard cash, a demand for total anonymity, and tendency to vanish on her own.

Plunged into a glittering world of fame, fortune, and secrecy, Ray uncovers a sinister plot that goes much deeper than the silver screen--and this robot is at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Made to Kill is the thrilling new speculative noir from novelist and comic writer Adam Christopher

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott (Orbit Books Trade Paperback 11/03/2015) – This one has been on my radar for quite some time as I’ve been reacquainting myself with Elliott’s fiction.

An exiled captain returns to help the son of the king who died under his protection in this rich and multi-layered first book in an action-packed new series. 

Twenty two years have passed since Kellas, once Captain of the legendary Black Wolves, lost his King and with him his honor. With the King murdered and the Black Wolves disbanded, Kellas lives as an exile far from the palace he once guarded with his life. 

Until Marshal Dannarah, sister to the dead King, comes to him with a plea-rejoin the palace guard and save her nephew, King Jehosh, before he meets his father's fate. 

Combining the best of Shogun and Marco Polo, Black Wolves is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

Hunted (The Iron Druid Chronicles #8) by Kevin Hearne (Del Rey, Mass Market Paperback 01/26/2016) – I’ve enjoyed every installment of this series Hammered is blurbed don the front, but because I also really enjoyed Hounded, loved it and posted the Hexed, Tricked, and Hunted

Iron Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, hero of Kevin Hearne’s epic New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series, has a point to make—and then drive into a vampire’s heart.

When a Druid has lived for two thousand years like Atticus, he’s bound to run afoul of a few vampires. Make that legions of them. Even his former friend and legal counsel turned out to be a bloodsucking backstabber. Now the toothy troublemakers—led by power-mad pain-in-the-neck Theophilus—have become a huge problem requiring a solution. It’s time to make a stand.

As always, Atticus wouldn’t mind a little backup. But his allies have problems of their own. Ornery archdruid Owen Kennedy is having a wee bit of troll trouble: Turns out when you stiff a troll, it’s not water under the bridge. Meanwhile, Granuaile is desperate to free herself of the Norse god Loki’s mark and elude his powers of divination—a quest that will bring her face-to-face with several Slavic nightmares.

As Atticus globetrots to stop his nemesis Theophilus, the journey leads to Rome. What better place to end an immortal than the Eternal City? But poetic justice won’t come without a price: In order to defeat Theophilus, Atticus may have to lose an old friend.

Praise for Kevin Hearne and The Iron Druid Chronicles

“[The Iron Druid books] are clever, fast paced and a good escape.”—Jason Weisberger, Boing Boing

“Celtic mythology and an ancient Druid with modern attitude mix it up in the Arizona desert in this witty new fantasy series.”—Kelly Meding, author of Chimera

“Outrageously fun.”—The Plain Dealer, on Hounded

“Superb . . . plenty of quips and zap-pow-bang fighting.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review), on Hounded

“Exciting . . . [Atticus] is one of the best main characters currently present in the urban fantasy genre.”—Fantasy Book Critic, on Tricked

“Funny, razor-sharp . . . plenty of action, humor, and mythology.”—Booklist (starred review), on Shattered

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-10-31)

Another small batch this week, here goes...

Impulse (The Lightship Chronicles #2) by Dave Bara (DAW Hardcover 01/05/2016) – Second installment in Bara’s Military SF/Space Opera series. I enjoyed the first, Impulse earlier this year.



The Lightship H.M.S. IMPULSE is gone, sacrificed while defeating First Empire ships the fragile new galactic alliance had hoped it would never see again...

For Peter Cochrane, serving as third officer aboard his world's flagship, H.M.S STARBOUND is a dream that's finally come true. Tasked with investigating a mysterious space station in a newly re-discovered star system, Peter and STARBOUND face a terrible attack. The wounds of that battle may heal with time, but the war is far from over as the First Empire returns, aided by new traitors from within the Union itself!.

Mystic by Jason Denzel (Tor Hardcover 11/03/2015) – This is filmmaker and Wheel of Time uber fan (owner of Dragonmount, the premier Wheel of Time fan website.

Mystic is the start of an enchanting new epic fantasy series from Jason Denzel, the founder of Dragonmount.

I called to the Myst, and it sent us you.

For hundreds of years, high-born nobles have competed for the chance to learn of the Myst. Powerful, revered, and often reclusive, Mystics have the unique ability to summon and manipulate the Myst: the underlying energy that lives at the heart of the universe. Once in a very great while, they take an apprentice, always from the most privileged sects of society. Such has always been the tradition-until a new High Mystic takes her seat and chooses Pomella AnDone, a restless, low-born teenager, as a candidate.

Commoners have never been welcomed among the select few given the opportunity to rise beyond even the highest nobility. So when Pomella chooses to accept the summons and journey to Kelt Apar, she knows that she will have more to contend with than the competition for the apprenticeship.

Breaking both law and tradition, Pomella undergoes three trials against the other candidates to prove her worthiness. As the trials unfold, Pomella navigates a deadly world of intolerance and betrayal, unaware that ruthless conspirators intend to make her suffer for having the audacity to seek to unravel the secrets of the Myst.

The Wheel of Time Companion by Robert Jordan, Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, and Maria Simons (Tor Hardcover 11/03/2015) – I think it is fair to say I’m a fan of the Wheel of Time, so this is a very cool book to have. It is *enormous* and very much an encyclopedia of information.

Since its debut in 1990, The Wheel of Time® by Robert Jordan has captivated millions of readers around the globe with its scope, originality, and compelling characters. Over the course of fifteen books and millions of words, the world that Jordan created grew in depth and complexity. However, only a fraction of what Jordan imagined ended up on the page, the rest going into his personal files.

Now The Wheel of Time Companion sheds light on some of the most intriguing aspects of the world, including biographies and motivations of many characters that never made it into the books, but helped bring Jordan's world to life.

Included in the volume in an A-to-Z format are:

An entry for each named character
An inclusive dictionary of the Old Tongue
New maps of the Last Battle
New portraits of many characters
Histories and customs of the nations of the world
The strength level of many channelers
Descriptions of the flora and fauna unique to the world
And much more!

The Wheel of Time Companion will be required reading for The Wheel of Time's millions of fans.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Round-Up: Hallowe'en Edition (Featuring Hill, Maberry, King, Priest, & Zelazny)

Time for a preemptive Friday Round-Up for Hallowe’en weekend, since the few books I’ve covered  recently have been very much horror, as has much of my October reading.

Earlier this week, my review of the audio version of Jonathan Maberry’s Patient Zero read by Ray Porter posted to SFFWorld. This is Maberry’s first Joe Ledger novel and I am hooked. I think this is the first series I'm going to "consume" audio-only.

Zombie stories are a dime a dozen, they come in all shapes and sizes and are very much a pop-culture phenomenon that have transcended the horror genre. Military Science Fiction is one of the most popular of subgenres of speculative fiction. Take those two great tastes, mash them up and add a wonderful amount of wit and you’ve got Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger novels, which begin with Patient Zero.

Maberry masterfully crafted the character of Joe Ledger, a tough-as nails, smart character who epitomizes what it means to be an ultimate “warrior.” While he is a rugged wise-ass, he doesn’t come across as a macho asshole, either. That trap is one many a writer/storyteller has fallen into, but Maberry assimilates many archetypical elements of the hero in his construction of Ledger. Joe is a guy you immediately want to have a beer with, want in your foxhole, and don’t want to piss off. His comradery with Rudy comes across as a friendship that has seen a great deal; his interaction with Church is entertaining for Joe’s wise-ass snark against Church’s dry humor; and his introduction / assumption of Echo Team leader is pure gold.

The next day, my first Completist column in a few months posted to SF Signal. In it, I gush about two novels that climbed very quickly up my top horror reads, Cherie Priest’s Borden Dispatches, a superb Lovecraftian duet:

Lizzie Borden and her axe is as much of an American myth as she is an historical figure, but what if those forty whacks she took were in self-defense against creatures that bore a stronger resemblance to H.P. Lovecraft’s aquatic Cthulhu monstrosities than her father and step-mother? That idea serves as the launch pad for Cherie Priest’s darkly delicious “Borden Dispataches,” which is comprised of Maplecroft and Chapelwood. Priest magically mixes historical figures and events with the horror of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos in an elegant concoction that seems so logical that it almost begs the question why hasn’t it been done before? Well, Priest’s storytelling skills and lyrical, completely convincing voice elevate these books to greatness.
The Borden Dispatches aren’t simply great horror tales (and they are at the top of the list of horror novels I’ve read in the past decade), but an examination of some less savory social structures. The primary protagonists are all women, with Lizzie/Lisbeth at *the* protagonist and inMaplecroft, her relationship with her lover Nance is central. Dr. Seabury, in his “diaries” expresses disapproval of such a relationship, but he is able to get past that and still help Lizzie. In Chapelwood, there’s a layered examination of the racism and gender bias of the day, Ruth’s marriage to a Puerto Rican man is not viewed kindly, and the aura of racism haunts Birmingham nearly as strongly as does the Lovecraftian monstrosities. Those two evils work quite well together under the roof of the Chapelwood Church.

In addition to those three books, I’ve spent much of my October reading on Horror. The fine folks at audible put together a marvelous audio adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key graphic novel series. (My favorite thing Hill has done and a top 5 all time comic/graphic novel series for me).

That one was free to audible members and will be for a few more days (until November 3), so I highly, highly recommend downloading it.

With my October audible credit, I went for a big, deep cut. A horror novel I read twice before, but many years ago (at least 20 years ago was the last time I read it). I’ve been wanting to revisit IT for a few years, but the piles of review books kept pushing it away, so I finally jumped back to Derry, Maine for Stephen King’s largest book, but with the shortest (and most un-Google-able title), IT. I am thoroughly enjoying it IT even if I can see some “issues” throughout (if Bill Denbrough isn’t Stephen King, then I don’t know what writerly character is)

Over the course of a couple of days, I read through Roger Zelazny's classic A Night in the Lonesome October and had a lot of fun playing the literary guessing game. Snuff might be a new favorite literary canine. 

In the end, this October for my All Hallows Reads, I revisited two big-time favorites and found two new writers whose backlist I need to go through.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-10-24)

Just a few books here at the home offices of the 'o Stuff, have a gander...

Departure (A Laundry Files novel) by A.G. Riddle (HarperVoyager Hardcover 10/20/2015) – Riddle is the latest self-published sensation (having sold over one million copies) to make the jump to traditional publishing. This one, as the tag line indicates, has some resonance with Lost. This is the final/hardcover of the ARC I received back in June.

Flight 305 took off in 2014...
But it crashed in a world very different from our own...

With time running out, five strangers must unravel why they were taken...
And how to get home.


Harper Lane has problems. In a few hours, she'll have to make a decision that will change her life forever. But when her flight from New York to London crash-lands in the English countryside, she discovers that she's made of tougher stuff than she ever imagined.

As Harper and the survivors of Flight 305 struggle to stay alive in the aftermath of the crash, they soon realize that this world is very different from the one they left. Their lives are connected, and some believe they've been brought here for a reason.

In addition to Harper, several other passengers seem to hold clues about why Flight 305 crashed. There's:

Nick Stone, an American on his way to a meeting with The Gibraltar Project, an international group dedicated to building a dam across the Strait of Gibraltar and draining the Mediterranean.

Sabrina Schröder, a German scientist who has unknowingly sealed the fate of half the flight's passengers.

Yul Tan, a Chinese-American computer scientist who has just made the breakthrough of a lifetime: a quantum internet capable of transmitting more data, farther, faster than ever thought possible. His invention, however, does much more than he ever dreamed possible.

With time running out to save the survivors of Flight 305, Harper and Nick race to unravel the conspiracy that crashed their plane. As they put the pieces together, they discover that their decisions have already doomed one world and will soon determine the future of ours.

No Cover Image Available Yet

The Alchemy of Chaos by Marshall Ryan Maresca (DAW Mass Market Paperback 03/02/2016) – Third book featuring Maresca’s superhero/sword and sorcery tale. I had a lot of fun reading the first one (The Thorn of Dentonhill) earlier this year, but somehow the second book never made its way to me.

Veranix Calbert is The Thorn—the street vigilante-turned-legend—and a pest to Willem Fenmere, the drug kingpin of Dentonhill. Veranix is determined to stop Fenmere and the effitte drug trade, especially when he discovers that Fenmere is planning on using the Red Rabbits gang in his neighborhood.

But Veranix is also a magic student at the University of Maradaine, and it’s exam week. With his academic career riding on his performance, there’s no time to go after Fenmere or the Red Rabbits. But when a series of pranks on campus grow deadly, it’s clear that someone has a vendetta against the university, and Veranix may be the only one who can stop them…

A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar (Melville House Hardcover 03/08/2016) – Tidhar is an author I’ve been wanting to read for a few years now, very glad to get this one.

A twisted masterpiece . . . A Holocaust novel like no other, Lavie Tidhar’s A Man Lies Dreaming comes crashing through the door of literature like Sam Spade with a .38 in his hand. This is a shocking book as well as a rather brilliant one. —The Guardian

A noir thriller with a twist and a Holocaust novel infused with the spirit of shund–the dark Israeli pulp fiction that thrived in the years after World War II–the British Fantasy Award-shortlisted A Man Lies Dreaming is a radical literary experiment that brings alternate history to life. Lavie Tidhar has reimagined the rainy, atmospheric energy of London in the 1930s, and the troubled private detective with an unspeakable secret who roams its streets. As A Man Lies Dreaming unfolds and more of its mysteries come to the surface, we find ourselves drawn into a novel at once gripping and profoundly unsettling.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Round-Up NYCC 2015, Jim Butcher & Kameron Hurley @SFFWorld, Mind Meld @SFSignal

Big Friday-Round up this week, although nothing else new from me this past week. However, but last week was quite busy indeed. Last weekend (10/9-10/11), I attended New York Comic Con with a Press Pass. I was granted this Press Pass for the third year in a row (2013, 2014) largely because of my writings for SF Signal and SFFWorld. So, it was only fitting that I posted conference reports to both of those fine sites.

In between those two Con reports, on Tuesday, at SFFWorld a “conversational review” of Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass was posted. The Marks Yon and Chitty and I all loved the book so this back and forth was quite fun.

Mark Y: As you’ve said already, Rob, Rowl is a wonderfully realised character, and I think my favourite – I can see a lot of fans for him. I must admit that I also noticed what Rob has said here, that the characterisation is dominated by females, not that that’s a bad thing. I liked it! But bearing in mind Jim’s previous female leads (Karrin Murphy, Molly Carpenter, for example) how do Gwendolyn, Bridget and even Folly stand up for you by comparison here?
Rob B: Have I mentioned that I like Bridget? Gwen was a great character, too. Very headstrong and I really empathized reading the scenes written with her as the POV. I don’t think she was as frustrating to the extent that her co-characters did, I got a sense that some thought she was a bit of a nuisance but again I didn’t see her that way at all. She was just a very headstrong, youthful character who acts before thinking. Folly is a lot of fun, too, even if she was more of a secondary character. I see big things down the road for her in terms of moving up to be more of a primary player. (Or maybe if the series is popular enough, a story from her POV would be fun).
Mark C: Gwen is definitely fierce and headstrong, and her view of the world is somewhat annoying at times, though her cousin Benedict certainly balances her out. Folly is also great fun, a character that could grow massively as the story progresses. I also liked Bridget (perhaps not as much as Rob… ), and her development through the novel is perhaps the best of the bunch – it’s great to see her take such a prominent role. I’d perhaps go as far to say that it is the male characters that fall behind here, or certainly don’t have the same level of development that the female characters have.

On Wednesday, my October Mind Meld posted to SF Signal wherein I asked Michael J. Martinez, one of my SFFWorld pals Victoria Rogers, Tim Pratt, Rhiannon Frater, Nick Sharps, Priscilla Spencer, Larry Ketchersid, Shana Dubois, Kristi Charish, and Helen Lowe:

Q: Who Has Your Back when Monsters Attack
We all know the monsters are coming, whether they are zombies, vampires, orcs, dragons, or aliens, they are coming – it is known. So who would you want by your side when they arrive?

We also posted an interview at SFFWorld with Kameron Hurley wherein she answered questions from Dag, Luke, and me.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-10-17)

You all know the drill, here's this week's version of Books in the Mail...

Shadow of Empire (Far Star Trilogy #1) by Jay Allan (Harper Voyager 11/10/2015) – Allan makes the jump from small press/self-published to one of the Big SF publishers. This launches a Space Opera trilogy to be published over the course of three months. That is proof of a publisher showing confidence in a writer. This is the final coy of the ARC I received in August.

The first installment in the Far Star series, a swashbuckling space saga that introduces the daring pirate Blackhawk and the loyal crew of the Wolf’s Claw, from the author of the bestselling Crimson Worlds saga.

Smuggler and mercenary Arkarin Blackhawk and the crew of the ship Wolf’s Claw are freelance adventurers who live on the fringe of human society in the Far Stars. A veteran fighter as deadly with a blade as he is with a gun, Blackhawk is a man haunted by a dark past. Even his cynicism cannot banish the guilt and pain that threaten his sanity.

Sent to rescue the kidnapped daughter of his longtime friend Marshal Augustin Lucerne, Blackhawk and his crew find themselves drawn into one deadly fight after another. When the Wolf’s Claw is damaged, they are forced to land on a remote planet subsumed by civil war. Pulled unwittingly into the conflict, they uncover disturbing information about secret imperial involvement that could upset the plans of Lucerne.

For the Marshal is determined to forge a Far Stars Confederation powerful enough to eliminate all imperial influence and threats in the sector. He needs a skilled warrior like Blackhawk on his side, but the mercenary, plagued by dark memories from the past, refuses to join the cause. All too soon, though, he and his crew will have to take a stand.

Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom (Harper Voyager 10/27/2015) – This is a trade-paperback reissue of the Hardcover originally published in 2012. I read this about a year or two ago and LOVED it.

Santa Claus, my dear old friend, you are a thief, a traitor, a slanderer, a murderer, a liar, but worst of all you are a mockery of everything for which I stood. You have sung your last ho, ho, ho, for I am coming for your head. . . . I am coming to take back what is mine, to take back Yuletide . . .

The author and artist of The Child Thief returns with a modern fabulist tale of Krampus, the Lord of Yule and the dark enemy of Santa Claus

One Christmas Eve in a small hollow in Boone County, West Virginia, struggling songwriter Jesse Walker witnesses a strange spectacle: seven devilish figures chasing a man in a red suit toward a sleigh and eight reindeer. When the reindeer leap skyward, taking the sleigh, devil men, and Santa into the clouds, screams follow. Moments later, a large sack plummets back to earth, a magical sack that thrusts the down-on-his-luck singer into the clutches of the terrifying Yule Lord, Krampus. But the lines between good and evil become blurred as Jesse's new master reveals many dark secrets about the cherry-cheeked Santa Claus, including how half a millennium ago the jolly old saint imprisoned Krampus and usurped his magic.

Now Santa's time is running short, for the Yule Lord is determined to have his retribution and reclaim Yuletide. If Jesse can survive this ancient feud, he might have the chance to redeem himself in his family's eyes, to save his own broken dreams . . . and to help bring the magic of Yule to the impoverished fold of Boone County.

Star Wars: Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed (Star Wars Books / Del Rey, Hardcover 09/04/2015) – Inspired by the Game based on the Star Wars universe. Freed has extensive experience writing for Star Wars – 6 years on the The Old Republic game in addition to numerous comics. Nice to see him get a “promotion” to writing one of the big SW novels. Hardcover/final version of the ARC I received about a month ago

A companion novel inspired by the hotly anticipated videogame Star Wars: Battlefront, this action-packed adventure follows a squad of soldiers caught in the trenches of the ultimate galactic war between good and evil.

The bravest soldiers. The toughest warriors. The ultimate survivors.

Among the stars and across the vast expanses of space, the Galactic Civil War rages. On the battlefields of multiple worlds in the Mid Rim, legions of ruthless stormtroopers—bent on crushing resistance to the Empire wherever it arises—are waging close and brutal combat against an armada of freedom fighters. In the streets and alleys of ravaged cities, the front-line forces of the Rebel Alliance are taking the fight to the enemy, pushing deeper into Imperial territory and grappling with the savage flesh-and-blood realities of war on the ground.

Leading the charge are the soldiers—men and women, human and nonhuman—of the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry, better known as Twilight Company. Hard-bitten, war-weary, and ferociously loyal to one another, the members of this renegade outfit doggedly survive where others perish, and defiance is their most powerful weapon against the deadliest odds. When orders come down for the rebels to fall back in the face of superior opposition numbers and firepower, Twilight reluctantly complies. Then an unlikely ally radically changes the strategic equation—and gives the Alliance’s hardest-fighting warriors a crucial chance to turn retreat into resurgence.

Orders or not, alone and outgunned but unbowed, Twilight Company locks, loads, and prepares to make its boldest maneuver—trading down-and-dirty battle in the trenches for a game-changing strike at the ultimate target: the very heart of the Empire’s military machine.

This is the Night by Jason Hough (Little A Hardcover 11/01/2015) – Hough’s trilogy earned him some very good sales and acclaim and graduated him to Hardcover for this release.

In a world at war, four youths try to determine what’s really worth fighting for.

For more than twenty years, the Homeland has been immersed in a brutal, unwinnable war. Young men are drafted and sent to fight in a faraway jungle. Those who come back are scarred in body and mind. Lance, two weeks shy of turning eighteen, has watched his older brothers leave and his mother fall apart when they fail to return. He’s never imagined a different future for himself—until he meets an idealistic young woman named Lorrie and impulsively flees town with her.

In Western City North, on the edge of the Homeland, Lance and Lorrie move into the same building as Benny and Joe, two friends up for induction. Along with Alan, a young runaway, they frantically evade Registry agents intent on tracking down draft dodgers. With induction day looming and paranoia rampant, the only way for any of them to stay free is to uncover the truth about their uncertain world—and the forces seeking to control it. Jonah C. Sirott’s breathtaking debut is about hope, survival, and the challenge of pushing past the limits our world draws around us.