Sunday, February 28, 2016

Books in the Mail (W/E 2016-02-27)

Y'all know the drill by now. Here's a snapshot of what arrived at the o'Stuff compound this week.

In the Shadow of the Gods (A Bound Gods novel) by Rachel Dunne (Harper Voyager, Trade Paperback 06/21/2016) – This is Dunne’s debut and was a finalist for Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award in 2014, but was soon snatched up to be published by Harper. This looks like some good old epic fantasy fun.

A breathtaking talent makes her debut with this first book in a dark epic fantasy trilogy, in which a mismatched band of mortals led by a violent, secretive man must stand against a pair of resentful gods to save their world.

Eons ago, a pair of gods known as the Twins grew powerful in the world of Fiatera, until the Divine Mother and Almighty Father exiled them, binding them deep in the earth. But the price of keeping the fire lands safe is steep. To prevent these young gods from rising again, all twins in the land must be killed at birth, a safeguard that has worked until now.

Trapped for centuries, the Twins are gathering their latent powers to break free and destroy the Parents for their tyranny—to set off a fight between two generations of gods for control of the world and the mortals who dwell in it.

When the gods make war, only one side can be victorious. Joros, a mysterious and cunning priest, has devised a dangerous plan to win. Over eight years, he gathers a team of disparate fighters—Scal, a lost and damaged swordsman from the North; Vatri, a scarred priestess who claims to see the future in her fires; Anddyr, a drug-addled mage wandering between sanity and madness; and Rora and Aro, a pair of twins who have secretly survived beyond the reach of the law.

These warriors must learn to stand together against the unfathomable power of vengeful gods, to stop them from tearing down the sun . . . and plunging their world into darkness.

The Lyre Thief (War of the Gods Trilogy #1) by Jennifer Fallon (Tor, Hardcover 03/08/2016) – Fallon is very popular in her native Australia and what she’s released here in the States seems to be well received. I’ve wanted to give her work a try for a while, looks like I’ve got the opportunity with this one.

From one of Voyager's bestselling authors a fabulous new epic fantasy series ... referencing The Demon Child trilogy and The Hythrun Chronicles.

Her Serene Highness, Rakaia, Princess of Fardohnya, is off to Hythria, where her eldest sister is now the High Princess, to find herself a husband, and escape the inevitable bloodbath in the harem when her brother takes the throne.

Rakaia is not interested in marrying anyone, least of all some brute of a Hythrun Warlord she's never met, but she has a plan to save herself from that, too. If she can just convince her baseborn sister, Charisee, to play along, she might actually get away with it.

But there is trouble brewing across the continent. High Prince of Hythria, Damin Wolfblade, must head north to save the peace negotiated a decade ago between the Harshini, Hythria, Fardohnya, Medalon and Karien. He must leave behind an even more dangerous conflict brewing between his wife and his powerful mother, Princess Marla.

...And in far off Medalon, someone has stolen the music.

Their quest for the tiny stolen lyre containing the essence of the God of Music will eventually touch all their lives, threaten everything they hold dear and prove to be far more personal than any of them can imagine.

ALIVE (Generations Trilogy #2) by Scott Sigler (Del Rey Hardcover 04/05/2016) – I listened to Scott’s first podcast two novel Infected and Contagious and loved Alive when I read it last year.

In Alive, Scott Sigler introduced readers to an unforgettable young heroine and a mysterious new world reminiscent of those of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Red Rising. Now he expands his singular vision in the next thrilling novel of this powerful sci-fi adventure series.

“If it’s war they want, they messed with the wrong girl.”

M. Savage—or Em, as she is called—has made a bewildering and ominous discovery. She and the other young people she was chosen to lead awoke in strange coffins with no memory of their names or their pasts. They faced an empty, unknown place of twisting tunnels and human bones. With only one another to depend on, they searched for answers and found the truth about their terrifying fate. Confronted by a monstrous enemy, they vowed never to surrender—and, by any means, to survive.

The planet Omeyocan may be the sanctuary Em and her comrades seek. But the planet for which they were created turns out not to be a pristine, virgin world. Vestiges of a lost civilization testify to a horrifying past that may yet repeat itself. And when a new enemy creeps from the jungle shadows, Em and her young refugees learn there’s nowhere left to run. They face a simple choice: fight or die.

In the midst of this desperate struggle, their unity is compromised from within—and a dangerous zealot devoted to a bloodthirsty god moves to usurp Em’s command, threatening to lead them all down a path to violent doom.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Books in the Mail (W/E 2016-02-2016)

Here's the rundown of arrivals from the previous week.

Nightwise by R.S. Belcher (Tor, Hardcover 03/01/2016) – This is Belcher’s fourth novel in only a few years and he switches up continually showing a breadth imagination.

R.S. Belcher, the acclaimed author of The Six-Gun Tarot and The Shotgun Arcana launches a gritty new urban fantasy series about the mysterious society of truckers known only as, The Brotherhood of The Wheel.

In 1119 A.D., a group of nine crusaders became known as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon--a militant monastic order charged with protecting pilgrims and caravans traveling on the roads to and from the Holy Land. In time, the Knights Templar would grow in power and, ultimately, be laid low. But a small offshoot of the Templars endure and have returned to the order's original mission: to defend the roads of the world and guard those who travel on them.

Theirs is a secret line of knights: truckers, bikers, taxi hacks, state troopers, bus drivers, RV gypsies--any of the folks who live and work on the asphalt arteries of America. They call themselves the Brotherhood of the Wheel.

Jimmy Aussapile is one such knight. He's driving a big rig down South when a promise to a ghostly hitchhiker sets him on a quest to find out the terrible truth behind a string of children gone missing all across the country. The road leads him to Lovina Hewitt, a skeptical Louisiana State Police investigator working the same case and, eventually, to a forgotten town that's not on any map--and to the secret behind the eerie Black-Eyed Kids said to prowl the highways.

Supernova by C.A. Higgins (Del Rey Hardcover 07/26/2016) – I was very impressed with Higgins’s debut Lightless which also launched this series. Smart, sharp SF.

C. A. Higgins’s acclaimed novel Lightless fused suspenseful storytelling, high-caliber scientific speculation, and richly developed characters into a stunning science fiction epic. Now the dazzling Supernova heightens the thrills and deepens the haunting exploration of technology and humanity—and the consequences that await when the two intersect.

Once Ananke was an experimental military spacecraft. But a rogue computer virus transformed it—her—into something much more: a fully sentient artificial intelligence, with all the power of a god—and all the unstable emotions of a teenager.

Althea, the ship’s engineer and the last living human aboard, nearly gave her life to save Ananke from dangerous saboteurs, forging a bond as powerful as that between mother and daughter. Now she devotes herself completely to Ananke’s care. But teaching a thinking, feeling machine—perhaps the most dangerous force in the galaxy—to be human proves a monumental challenge. When Ananke decides to seek out Matthew Gale, the terrorist she regards as her father, Althea learns that some bonds are stronger than mortal minds can understand—or control.

Drawn back toward Earth by the quest, Althea and Ananke will find themselves in the thick of a violent revolution led by Matthew’s sister, the charismatic leader Constance, who will stop at nothing to bring down a tyrannical surveillance state. As the currents of past decisions and present desires come into stark collision, a new and fiery future is about to be born.

Sleeping Giants (Book One of The Themis Files) by Del Rey Hardcover 04/26/2016) – This is Neuvel’s debut and launches a trilogy of books, the description gives a real “page turner” feel.

An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by a quest for truth—and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Books in the Mail (W/E 2016-02-13)

Three books this week at the o' Stuff. It seems there's a general down swing in review copies circulating, at least for those arriving at my house. No complaints here as Mount ToBeRead is quite large at this point.

Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay (William Morrow Hardcover 06/21/2016) – This one follows a year after Tremblay’s extremely well-received A Head Full of Ghosts

A family is shaken to its core after the mysterious disappearance of a teenage boy in this eerie tale, a blend of literary fiction, psychological suspense, and supernatural horror from the author of A Head Full of Ghosts.

“A Head Full of Ghosts scared the living hell out of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare,” raved Stephen King about Paul Tremblay’s previous novel. Now, Tremblay returns with another disturbing tale sure to unsettle readers.

Late one summer night, Elizabeth Sanderson receives the devastating news that every mother fears: her thirteen-year-old son, Tommy, has vanished without a trace in the woods of a local park.

The search isn’t yielding any answers, and Elizabeth and her young daughter, Kate, struggle to comprehend Tommy’s disappearance. Feeling helpless and alone, their sorrow is compounded by anger and frustration: the local and state police have uncovered no leads. Josh and Luis, the friends who were the last to see Tommy before he vanished, may not be telling the whole truth about that night in Borderland State Park, when they were supposedly hanging out a landmark the local teens have renamed Devil’s Rock.

Living in an all-too-real nightmare, riddled with worry, pain, and guilt, Elizabeth is wholly unprepared for the strange series of events that follow. She believes a ghostly shadow of Tommy materializes in her bedroom, while Kate and other local residents claim to see a shadow peering through their windows in the dead of night. Then, random pages torn from Tommy’s journal begin to mysteriously appear—entries that reveal an introverted teenager obsessed with the phantasmagoric; the loss of his father, killed in a drunk-driving accident a decade earlier; a folktale involving the devil and the woods of Borderland; and a horrific incident that Tommy believed connects them.

As the search grows more desperate, and the implications of what happened become more haunting and sinister, no one is prepared for the shocking truth about that night and Tommy’s disappearance at Devil’s Rock.

Blood Infernal (The Order of the Sanguines #3 by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell (William Morrow Mass Market Paperback 01-26-2016) - Rollins and Cantrell wrap-up their vampire trilogy.

What price will we pay for true salvation?

As an escalating scourge of grisly murders sweeps the globe, archaeologist Erin Granger must decipher the truth behind an immortal prophecy, one found in the Blood Gospel, a tome written by Christ and lost for centuries. With the Apocalypse looming and the very foundations of our world crumbling, Erin must again join forces with Army sergeant Jordan Stone and Father Rhun Korza to search for a treasure lost for millennia, a prize that has already fallen into the hands of their enemy.

The forces of darkness have crowned a new king, a demon named Legion, who walks this Earth wearing many faces. His reach is beyond measure—even the walls of the Vatican fall before him. To have any hope of saving the world, Erin must uncover the truth behind man's first steps out of the Garden of Eden, an event wrapped in sin and destruction, an act that damned humankind for eternity.

A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab (Tor Hardcover 02-23-2016) – I just finished listening to the audio edition of A Darker Shade of Magic the first in the series a couple of days ago, which was excellent. I’m looking forward to diving into this one.

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagent international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries-a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again-and so to keep magic's balance, another London must fall.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Books in the Mail (W/E 2016-02-06)

This week's Books in the Mail post is brought to you by the letter H as the authors of the books I received have either the first or last name begin with the letter H, the name of the publisher of the majority of the books begins with the letter H, and one book is published by the publisher whose name begins with the letter H and the writer's last name begins with H.

Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free by Randy Henderson (Tor 02/16/2016) – Exactly a year later, the sequel to Henderson’s debut hits shelves.

 I like the covers on these, they look like folksy wood-carvings. 

In this sequel to Randy Henderson's acclaimed debut novel, Finn Fancy Necromancy, Finn Gramaraye is settling back into the real world after his twenty-five-year-long imprisonment in the otherworld of the Fey. 

He's figured out how to use the Kinfinder device created by his half-mad father to find people's True Love, and he'd like to convert that into an Arcane Dating Service. 

Unfortunately, trouble always seems to find Finn, and when he agrees to help his friend, the Bigfoot named Sal, they walk right into a Feyblood rebellion against the Arcane Ruling Council, a rebellion being fomented by unknown forces and fueled by the drug created by Finn's own grandfather.

The God Wave by Patrick Hemstreet ( Harper Voyager Hardcover 05/17/2016) – Hemstreet’s debut, the first of a trilogy, is generating a great deal of pre-publication buzz three months prior to its release.

team of neuroscientists uncover amazing new capabilities in the brain that may steer human evolution toward miraculous and deadly frontiers in this spectacular debut work of speculative science fiction—Limitless meets James Rollins—that combines spirituality and science in an inventive, mind-blowing fashion.

For decades, scientists have speculated about the untapped potential of the human brain. Now, neuroscientist Chuck Brenton has made an astonishing breakthrough. He has discovered the key—the crucial combination of practice and conditioning—to access the incredible power dormant in ninety percent of our brains. Applying his methods to test subjects, he has stimulated abilities that elevate brain function to seemingly “godlike” levels.

These extraordinary abilities can transform the world, replacing fear and suffering with tranquility and stability. But in an age of increasing militarization, corporate exploitation, and explosive technological discovery, a group of influential power brokers are determined to control Brenton’s new superbeings for their own manipulative ends—and their motives may be far from peaceful.

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. This is the final copy of the ARC I received in December.

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.

The Heir of Night (Book One of The Wall of Night) by Helen Lowe (Harper Voyager Mass Market Paperback 09/28/2010) – This is the first installment of Lowe’s trilogy and it received the David Gemmell Morningstar Award in 2012 for Best Fantasy newcomer. My pal at SFFWorld Mark Yon liked it when he read it back in 2011.

The violence of an age-old war casts a long shadow. It falls on a world where mercy is weakness and conflict is a way of life.

Young Malian is being trained to rule. Her people garrison the mountain range known as the Wall of Night against an ancient enemy, keeping a tide of shadow from the rest of their world. Malian is expected to uphold this tradition, yet she's known little of real danger until the enemy launches a direct attack upon her fortress home.

In the darkest part of the night, the Keep of Winds becomes a bloodbath. Women and children, warriors and priests, are slain by creatures with twisted magic flowing in their veins. And as the castle wakes to chaos, Malian flees deep into the Old Keep, her life at stake. Then when the danger is greatest, her own hidden magic flares into life.

But this untapped potential is a two-edged blade. If she accepts its power, she must prepare to pay the price..

Gathering of the Lost (Book Two of The Wall of Night) by Helen Lowe ( Harper Voyager Mass Market Paperback 03/12/2012) – Second in the series. When the third book arrived last week, the wonderful publicist at HarperVoyager was kind enough to send me books one and two so I could do a read-through of the series.

Strange magic, dark treachery and conflicting loyalties, set in a well realized world.”

—Robin Hobb, author of Dragon Haven

“[Lowe] reinvigorates the epic fantasy with appealing characters and a richly detailed world.”
—Library Journal

Sure to become an epic fantasy classic, Helen Lowe’s magnificent Wall of Night series is big, ambitious, and gorgeously drawn—a story of bravery, treachery, and cataclysm in a richly imagined world. The Gathering of the Lost is the second of four books set in a fantastic imperiled realm garrisoned by nine great Houses and protected from the terrible Darkswarm by the towering mountain range that gives the series its name. Supremely literate, brilliantly imagined and executed fantasy in the vein of Brandon Sanderson, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Barbara Hambly, The Gathering of the Lost is populated by a grand cast of unforgettable characters, some still holding to the beleaguered Wall, others scattered in their quest for the fabled Heir of Night, who vanished from their midst five years earlier.

Monday, February 01, 2016

January 2016 Reading: Bennett, Elliott, Bear, Kemp, Correia, & Lyle

January has ended and I read a handful of books during the months. I reviewed Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Blades, the second installment of his soon-to-be landmark Divine Cities epic fantasy series.

As for what I haven’t reviewed, at the start of the year I began my long anticipated re-read (books 1-4) and finish off Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars series with the Nebula nominated first book in the series King’s Dragon. In short, I loved the book, and have much more to say on it. I am thinking of doing a write up of the series as I re-read books 1-4 and as it looks now, I may be doing one book per month. I really like the feel of this world and was pulled along.  I am very excited to continue with this series, the next of which is Prince of Dogs

After finishing off King’s Dragon, I dove into Elizabeth Bear’s Dust, a very fascinating take on the generational starship story. Bear always brings a wonderful voice to whatever she writes and this novel from a few years ago (2008) is no exception. It felt as much like a fantasy story with the religion that grew out of long years on the ship.

Although I began listening to the book at the end of December (my audible credit becomes available to me on the 24th of each month), Paul S. Kemp’s thrilling Star Wars novel Lords of the Sith (as read by with gusto and pacing by Jonathan Davis) accompanied me on my commute to and from work and other drives for the first couple weeks of the month. 

I think Kemp did a fine job with Vader and his relationship to Palpatine. This story takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, so Vader isn’t quite the feared monster in black he is when we first “meet” him on screen. I’d be pleased if Rogue One took some cues from this novel. There's still some lingering Anakin in Darth Vader in this story.

Although I haven't read every (or even half) of the Star Wars novels out there, I think the only other writer who capture Vader better was Matthew Stover in his novelization of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Next up was Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter: Alpha. I bought the omnibus o the first three Monster Hunter novels a couple of years ago for a steal at $6. Larry switched things up for the third installment of the Monster Hunter series, focusing on Earl Shackelford (as opposed to Owen Pitt) and switching to an omniscient third person narrative voice rather than Owen’s first person perspective. This was a helluva a lot of fun, so much so that before I even finished reading Monster Hunter: Alpha I bought Monster Hunter: Legion. I would really like to read more novels focused on Earl, maybe some of his earlier adventures. I was also lucky enough to snag a signed copy of

The next audio book I gave a try was/is Anne Lyle’s The Alchemist of Souls, her debut and the first installment of her Night’s Mask trilogy. Michael Page does a very good job with the narration, I like the variety of voices and inflections he brings to the story. The setting is great, but for reasons I can’t fully explain, the story isn’t completely holding my attention. It is by no means bad, but I think I’m going to take a break from it at the moment.

As the month ends, I’m in the middle of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising. Del Rey was giving away copies of this at New York Comic Con this past October (2015). I’ve seen so many great things about the book and for the most part, the book is crafted quite well. A good story, good setting, but I really feel like I’ve read this one before. I finished the book on Friday and wasn't too impressed with the book altogether.  It really felt like The Hunger Games with a male protagonist along with a dash of The Departed

Lastly, I began slowly poring over the pages of Volume III of The Annotated Sandman. This is a beast of a book. Leslie Klinger (who did fantastic work on the previous two volumes as well as an Annotated Dracula and volume of HP Lovecraft I own) continues to add layers and depth, from a storytelling perspective, to one of the deepest and richest stories any medium has seen.