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Blood & Sawdust by Jason Ridler

Tough and smart at thirteen-years-old, Malcolm knew the illegal fight game like a pro, making bets and staying alive one day at a time. But nothing prepared him for Milkwood: a fat, ugly bastard who could take a beating like a government mule, but never, ever won. So when Malcolm risks his life to discover Milkwood’s secret, he convinces the fighter to stop being a punching bag and to go for broke in the local tournament. Only problem? A beautiful woman called Lash who needs Milkwood for her own purposes, and a fouler creature on her heels known only as Dizzy Colt. But for Malcolm and Milkwood? Hell, it’s just another day of Blood and Sawdust.
Blood & Sawdust is an original take on the tried and tested vampire fiction. We’re not dealing with forbidden love between humans and vampires here or a lone hunter dealing with a vampire coven but instead it’s a coming of age story about two young men overcoming the trauma of their troubled pasts.

The story focuses on Malcom, a streetwise kid and Milkwood, a fat, ugly underground fighter who is beaten to a pulp every night. After Milkwood saves Malcom’s life from vicious assailants, Malcom learns that that there are in fact more to Milkwood than everyone realise. From this point on Malcom makes it his mission to turn Milkwood around and make him the sort of fighter Malcom knows Milkwood can be. However before Milkwood can become the champion in Malcom’s eyes, Lash, a mysterious lady from Milkwood’s past shows up with a monster in her wake.

What makes this story shine is the friendship between Malcom and Milkwood. Malcom helps Milkwood discover what was missing in his life and Milkwood gives Malcom the strength to face his nightmares. The two of them push each either onwards no matter how dire the circumstances are.
With this novel, Ridler has created two endearing characters that will stay with you long after you’re finished with this story.

The inclusion of underground MMA fights give this story extra intensity and a sense of grittiness. The brutal and gory fight scenes are bound to make you wince as Milkwood takes one bloody beating after another and you will come to root for this underdog.

Ridler writes in an engrossing style that makes his characters on the pages come alive and the depiction of a less than perfect vampire is a refreshing change from the vampire fiction out there at the moment. A highly enjoyable read for anyone who is looking for a vampire novel with a different twist.

Blood of the Zombies by Ian Livingstone

Terrible things are happening in Goraya castle…

Insane megalomaniac Gingrich Yurr is preparing to unleash an army of monstrous zombies upon the world. He must be stopped and his undead horde defeated. In this life-or-death adventure the decisions YOU make will decide the fate of the world. Can YOU survive or will YOU become a zombie too?
I’ve been taking a break from writing book reviews. Before I get back into the swing of things, I’ll post a brief review of one of my favourite type of books, the “Choose your own adventures”. For those who don’t know, one of the most popular series of choose your own adventures is Fighting Fantasy by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, the same people who are responsible for Games Workshop and Tomb Raider. Blood of the Zombies was created to celebrate the 30th anniversary since the publication of the first Fighting Fantasy novel, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.

In Blood of the Zombies, you’ve been kidnapped and sold to a megalomaniac who wants to build an army of zombies to exact revenge of those who mocked him. Now you must find a way to escape from the castle before you too are turned into one of the undeads. The story itself is nothing special, I’ve read better Fighting Fantasy stories to be honest but it has a certain old school charm about it.

I read/played through this on the Android app. What I like about the app is that you can pick a difficulty level to reflect how you might play (cheat) in the real life counterpart. On the easy setting, you have the ability to heal yourself whenever you want, go back to the previous decision and unlock any option even if you do not possess the required item and on the hard setting, you must survive the whole adventure on limited health. Luckily you’re given unlimited bookmarks so you can go back should your decision turn out to be unfavourable or a fight didn’t turn out as you hoped.

The difficulty of the book is tougher than I thought. I started off with the medium setting and kept dying to hordes of zombies so I resorted to the easy setting and cheated my way through. Even though I’ve completed it once on the easy setting, I think it will take a miracle to replicate the same success on the hard setting.

I wish there’s an option to switch weapons so I don’t have to waste my shotgun shells on one or two zombies but luckily in my playthroughs so far there’s been just enough ammo.

This was a great nostalgia trip and it was fun to play through the story despite how difficult it can be. For sure, it will take me a while to complete all of the achievements in the app.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

“The body you are wearing used to be mine.” So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.
The Rook is yet another ambitious urban fantasy set in the sunny shores of Britain. It has secret government organisations, conspiracies, surprising twists and quirky characters that by all accounts should have been something that I would have loved. However the thing that bothered me most is the tongue-in-cheek attitude that the author employs in most situations. It would have been brilliant if used sparingly but right now it feels like the author is just showing off how clever he is. I mean if you are a high ranking official in a secret US government agency, would you really act like as if you’re a character in Legally Blonde or Clueless? The answer is no, it just doesn’t fit.

If you overlook that fault, the book is actually pretty fun. The concept of the story and the strength of its characters are both top notch. The mysterious circumstances surrounding Myfanwy Thomas and the gradual revelation of this secret world with its secret government agencies really gets you hooked on the story. It was a delight to read about the inner workings of the Checquy, the department responsible for overseeing the supernatural events both within Britain and abroad.

At first the letters from Myfanwy’s previous self, felt a bit like the story was told by the voice of god. Whenever the current Myfanwy encounters a conundrum, she would open a letter and, lo and behold, the previous Myfanwy would have written a letter detailing the steps she should take. I would have preferred more showing and less telling but this kind of storytelling grew on me as the story progressed. Many of these self-addressed letters are chock-full of background information that doesn’t move the story forward but I enjoyed reading them nonetheless.

Although Myfanwy comes off a little ditzy at times, she does make a pretty convincing heroine. In fact, she reminds me a little of the early years of Buffy. When it’s time to get down to business there is no holding her back and the new Myfanwy will see it through to the very end.

Despite not enjoying the author’s humour as much, I can’t deny that this is an entertaining novel. A real page turner that shows off just how much skill and wild imagination that the author has. I will of course look forward to the sequel but I just hope that O’Malley can turn down the silliness a tad with the next book.

Brothers of the Snake by Dan Abnett

The war-torn far-future is laid bare as Brothers of the Snake follows the exploits of the Iron Snakes Space Marines as they battle against the enemies of mankind. First appearing in the pages of Inferno!, the Iron Snakes Space Marines quickly gathered a loyal following and now they make their debut in a full-blown adventure!

What better way to start The Year of Snake then a review of Dan Abnett’s Brothers of the Snake? The first thing you should know is that unlike other Space Marine novels, Brothers of the Snake is a collection of short stories following the Damocles squad of the Iron Snakes Chapter. The format is a little unusual and I had doubts at first but on the whole I thought it turned out pretty great. It’s essentially a series condensed into one book.

The thing I found fascinating is the culture and traditions of the Chapter and how much they have diverged from their progenitors. Since Iron Snakes is such a little known chapter, this book allows Abnett full rein on making this Chapter truly his own. Just like how different the Mortifators are from the Ultramarines, the Iron Snakes too have their quirks. The Chapter’s homeworld is covered by vast oceans and water from the planet is considered sacred. Before each mission, the marines would hold ceremonies to share and anoint themselves with the sacred water. Also instead of working as a company, each 10 men squad operate independently of each other. Usually a few squads are enough to take care of most situations and only in times of crisis will you find the might of the Chapter brought together.

I’ve always been fascinated by the selection and training processes of the Space Marines. I absolutely loved those parts in Mitchel Scanlon’s Descent of Angels and Ian Watson’s Space Marine. So I was thrilled to read about the “cheese run” that the initiates have to undertake and in order to become a full-fledged squad member, the initiates must first best the existing squad members in one-on-one duels.

Even though Priad was promoted to the rank of Sergeant a little too quickly, he did make a brilliant leader. His unwavering sense of honour and selflessness is very reminiscent of the Ultramarines. Despite suffering from heavy losses which resulted in frequent replacement of squad members, the squad never lost the bond between brothers. Abnett brilliantly conveyed the relationship and camaraderie between battle brothers. New members are welcomed into the squad and given plenty of opportunity to prove their worth.

I love the connection between the short stories; especially how the first and last story wrap things up to give a satisfying conclusion. With each story we learn just a little more about this lesser known Chapter.

This a brilliant one off Space Marine novel with epic action and timeless characters. The Iron Snakes definitely deserve more stories devoted to them.

Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole

The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop terrifying powers—summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Overnight the rules changed…but not for everyone.

Colonel Alan Bookbinder is an army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops magical powers, he is torn from everything he knows and thrown onto the front-lines.

Drafted into the Supernatural Operations Corps in a new and dangerous world, Bookbinder finds himself in command of Forward Operating Base Frontier—cut off, surrounded by monsters, and on the brink of being overrun.

Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the one hope of salvation lies in teaming up with the man whose own magical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place—Oscar Britton, public enemy number one…

Myke Cole’s Control Point was one of my favourite debuts last year. It had action, a sophisticated magic system and most importantly characters that you care about. Now with the sequel Fortress Frontier, Cole has done the impossible and produced an even better novel. Not only are we introduced to a new lead character Colonel Alan Bookbinder, which I’m sorry to say has overtaken my love for Oscar Britton, but Cole has also greatly expanded the world as well as enhanced the magic system.

The thing that annoyed me the most in Control Point was Oscar Britton’s indecisiveness. One moment he would root for the US government and next he would condemn them for their actions. For a soldier, he sure doesn’t like to follow orders. However with Bookbinder, you have a true war hero. Cole does a marvellous job painting Bookbinder as a reluctant leader, an unlikely hero that brings people together in times of need. Colonel Bookbinder has never seen any action as he’s been pushing paper his entire career and when the Colonel suddenly finds himself in charge, he does the only thing he can which was to fake it until he made it. In the end the base was saved because of Bookbinder’s decisive actions.

Oscar on the other hand is on the run with his group after wrecking the Forward Operating Base and cutting it off from the Home Plane. While Oscar’s transformation in this book is less spectacular than Colonel Bookbinder, his need to do the right thing and his sense of honour is still very admirable. Even though his character takes a backseat in this book, Oscar still lights up the scene whenever he appears on the page.

In Fortress Frontier we learn that Americans are not the only force to have a presence in the Source. The Sahir Corps, India’s counterpart to SOC has also established a base in the magical plane. Bookbinder’s suicidal trek across the Source to the Indian base allows Cole to reveal all sort of creatures that he has been hiding from us. When you get the book, remember to pay attention to the gorgeous map drawn by Priscilla Spencer.

A sequel that focuses on an entirely new character would put the fear in most authors. Will it confuse the fans? Will this new character hold its weight? With Fortress Frontier Cole proves that he has the skill and ability to pull it off. I’m sure anyone reading this book would come to love Bookbinder in the end.

Fortress Frontier is a superb follow up to the series and like its predecessor, full of non-stop action and entertainment. Based on these two outstanding books I have complete faith the Cole will continue to do a brilliant job in the next book Breach Zone.

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden’s faced some pretty terrifying foes during his career. Giant scorpions. Oversexed vampires. Psychotic werewolves. All par for the course for Chicago’s only professional wizard. But in all of Harry’s years of supernatural sleuthing, he’s never faced anything like this: the spirit world’s gone postal. All over Chicago, ghosts are causing trouble-and not just of the door-slamming, ‘boo’–shouting variety. These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly. Someone–or something–is stirring them up to wreak unearthly havoc. But why? And why do so many of the victims have ties to Harry? If Harry doesn’t figure it out soon, he could wind up a ghost himself.

The previous two books in the Dresden File series were very episodic. Cases were started, monsters were met, but luckily Harry Dresden came to save the day and everyone went home happy. This monster of the week style does make for some fun reading but I desired more. Many people have said that the third book is the turning point in the series and things will begin to heat up. While this third book still uses the same formula, I’m glad that there are finally hints to a greater story arc.

The majority of Grave Peril deals with the ghosts that are terrorising Chicago. Someone or something is stirring up the spirits and is targeting Harry’s associates. At the same time, the vampires have invited Harry to a masquerade celebrating the elevation of Madame Bianca, who you might remember from Storm Front, to Margravine of the Red Court of vampires. Harry knows that something is up but he couldn’t have guessed the impact of this vampire ball will have on his life.

One of the things I enjoy in this book are the new characters. Michael Carpenter is a Knight of the Cross and battles monster with his giant sword Amoracchius. Like all the magic in Dresden Files, the more you believe in something, the more powerful the magic effect will be. Being a devout Christian, Michael’s faith naturally becomes his armour and when vampires touch him, they will automatically burst into flame. Michael complements Harry nicely and often guides Harry to do the right thing.

Another interesting character is Harry’s faerie godmother, Leanansidhe or Lea for short. Harry had made a pact with her when he was younger and now she has shown up to claim what he owes her. She makes Harry’s life miserable as soon as she comes on the page and I wonder how far she would go to make Harry honour his pact.

My only issue with the books I’ve read is that the world building still feels like your usual urban fantasy setting. The monsters are still rather bland and forgettable. So far, Butcher has done some great work on his leading characters but the villains require much more work. I guess the plot formula doesn’t allow much room to add depth to those characters.

Although this book still hasn’t won me over on the series yet, I appreciate the new direction that Butcher is heading to with this book. The series is definitely improving as it reveals more of the world with each book. The one thing I can say for sure is that it is fun to read these books and I can understand why there is such a huge demand for this series.

Week in Review

Books for 2013


Courtesy of Amazing Photography

What book are you most looking forward to reading in 2013? io9 has compiled an extensive list of essential reads here. If you’re still stuck for ideas, take a look at Abhinav Jain’s (aka Shadowhawk over at The Founding Fields) most anticipated novels here.

Triumph Over Tragedy


Triumph Over Tragedy is an anthology organized by R.T. Kaelin, author of Progeny and Sarah Chorn ofBookworm Blues for the victims affected by Hurricane Sandy. Around 40 of today’s top authors are involved in this project, so you can expect to find a diverse range of short stories in this anthology. All the proceeds go to Sandy relief so grab your copy today at Amazon or at Barnes & Noble.

Gender Bending
Teresa Frohock just completed a fascinating experiment on her website. A number of authors wrote a short piece each under a pseudonym and the readers have to correctly guess the gender of the author. Try it for yourself and see how many you can get right.

  1. Bearna by Jamie Sears
  2. The Ballad of Sophie Nu by Dirigible Elephant
  3. The Education of Rebecca Cavendish by Alice Leakey
  4. Untitled by Jackson Harris
  5. Untitled by S.A. Daniels
  6. Untitled by Kyle Schuler
  7. The Hated by A.K. Reid
  8. White Space by T.J. Breckenridge
  9. The Sea-Folk’s Price by Z. Riddle
  10. Meghan’s Bike by Marian Westwood

And finally the big reveal here.

All the D&D audio books you can ever want

Hundreds of D&D adventures are now available for the first time as audio books. Head over to Audible to catch up with your favourite Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms or Eberron series.

Do you like to re-read?
In this week’s Mind Meld, SF Signal asks a number of authors whether they like to re-read and what are some of the books or series that they re-read. Take a look at this interesting discussion at SF Signal

Evolution of Sci-Fi book covers
The Atlantic has an interesting article on the evolution of Sci-Fi book covers from cartoon to pop art and back again. Which style do you prefer more?

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.
Rivers of London is Aaronovitch’s fun and humourous take on the urban fantasy genre. It’s got a little bit of everything in it, an unsolved murder; magic; alternate history; ghosts and gods. What this novel did well in is combining all these different elements to create an amusing and fresh look into London. However this very same decision means that the story tries to be a bit of everything and in the end none of it made a big impact on me.

Rivers of London follows probationary policeman PC Peter Grant who is working on the streets of London. By chance a ghost gives Peter insights into a mysterious murder and suddenly Peter finds himself assigned to the only wizard in the entire police force. Peter might not the brightest copper but his heart is in the right place. What he lacks in judgement and experience, he makes up for it with hard work. In one scene, Peter has to intervene between two feuding river gods and Aaronovitch uses Peter’s eagerness and awkwardness to great comedic effect. Peter’s voice in the book matches his character perfectly as it really captures the whole fish out of water concept when Peter finds himself thrust into this alternate London that not many people knows about.

While I did enjoy Peter as a character, what failed to impress me was the plot for the book. The first half is wonderful as we follow Peter around, discovering a whole new side of London that few people knew about. We learn that Newton is not only responsible for defining the laws of motion but also that of magic. Instead of building on top of this foundation, the second half focuses on the crime investigation aspect of the novel, which was so dry that I needed a re-read to remind myself how the crime was solved.

Although I wasn’t that impressed with the plot, I did find Peter’s narration charming and the interaction between Peter and Inspector Nightingale more than makes up for the disappointments. I think the Rivers of London/Peter Grant series is a bit like the Dresden Files in that it gets better as the series progresses and with each novel sucks you a little further into its world. Rivers of London remains a fun book to read and I’m interested to see how Peter will end up in the later books.

Reading Resolutions for 2013

According to Goodreads I read 102 books last year, of which around 90 of them are actual books and the rest are comics and audio books. So for 2013, I’m going to aim for a little more at 120 actual books which means I will need to read between 2 to 3 books per week. Pretty doable I think.

I’ve been buying plenty of books during the holiday sales and while my “to read” pile is growing ever larger, I hope this year would be a productive year and I’ll make some progress in clearing the pile. So here’s my target for 2013:

Series to Finish

 

  • Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks – It’s been a while since I finished the first two books but I can never bring myself to finishing the series.
  • The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie – Loved the world building in the first book and can’t wait to see how everything will end.
  • Bel Dame Apocrypha by Kameron Hurley – Another great series with fascinating settings and also love the unique magic/science system.


Series to Catch up on

 

  • Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
  • Horus Heresy by Various authors
  • Legend of Drizzt by R. A. Salvatore
I love these series. Even though there are a lot of books in these series, I hope I can catch up with the latest release this year.

Series to Start

 

  • Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett
  • Space Marines Battles by Various authors
  • Newsflesh by Mira Grant
  • Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
  • Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky

These are all great series that I wanted to read last year but for some reason or another I didn’t start them. I already have the first book in Demon Cycle, Farseer Trilogy and Shadows of the Apt sitting on my Kindle already and I hope to tackle them soon.

Series to re-read

 

  • Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert

I loved this series when I was younger. I would love to revisit the books and see if I understand the concepts better now that I’m older.

Any Others?
I’m sure I haven’t covered all the books that I want to read, so what else do you think I should be reading this year?

2012 Recap and My Best Ofs

2012 came and went just like that. Christmas and New Year celebrations are finished and we’re still alive, still waiting for an apocalypse to come.

At the beginning of last year, I set myself some challenges. I wanted to read more than 50 ebooks, well I certainly read more than that but only managed to write up 37 reviews. I wanted to read at least 10 self published novels and in the end I have 16 reviews written.

I’m not good at ranking things. It depends on my mood and my feelings at that moment in time. So here is a list of the best books I’ve read in 2012. I’ll keep it simple by picking only 5 debut novels and 5 non debut novels. The following lists are ordered alphabetically by the authors’ names.

Debut Novels

Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole

Army Officer. Fugitive. Sorcerer.

Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.

Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it. A lieutenant attached to the military’s Supernatural Operations Corps, his mission is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly manifests a rare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from government agent to public enemy number one.

The SOC knows how to handle this kind of situation: hunt him down–and take him out. Driven into an underground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known, and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for.

A brilliant, high-octane action novel that explores the implications of magic in the modern world. How would governments react if any civilian has the potential to become a weapon of mass destruction and is the regulation worth the sacrifices? Review

The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins

Cora and her husband hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist. When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible, but if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.

Take some monsters; a kickass female lead; place them in a western setting; mix well and you get a fantastic adventure that you would not be able to put down. Review

Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before.

“No.”

Another amazing debut from Angry Robot Books. A tale of heaven and hell with a damned soul in between. This is one story that I would love to see translated on to the big screen. Review

Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. Born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora dodges both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains, neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected family of orphans “Gentlemen Bastards.” Locke grows to lead, delightedly pulling off one outrageous trick after another, infamous as the Thorn of Camorr—no wealthy noble is safe from his sting. But the Gray King is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game—or die trying

I know this has been out for many years but I only got round to reading it in 2012. In Lies of Locke Lamora Lynch creates a vibrant, living world with every little detail accounted for. This book is filled to the brim with culture, history and lore. The Blade Itself is another book with great world building that I read in 2012 but in the end I picked LoLL because the story is more self contained. Review

Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

Since the 1970s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.

Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend MeShack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.

While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: Will she find the psycho or die trying?

On one level this thrilling story tells of an unsolved murder with an urban fantasy twist but on another level, it is also a statement for the unfair treatment of minorities. Definitely my surprise hit of the year.Review

Non Debut Novels

 

Eisenhorn Omnibus by Dan Abnett

Inquisitor Eisenhorn is one on the most senior members of the Imperial Inquisition. With his warband he scourges the galaxy in order to root out heresy. When that heresy is found to infiltrate the hierarchy of the Imperium and the Inquisition itself, he must rely on himself alone to deal with it – even if it means making deals with the enemy. All three books of the Eisenhorn trilogy along with two short stories and Eisenhorn’s case book and compendium are included in one big volume.

If Jack Bauer was born in the 41st millenium then he would be Eisenhorn. Even branded as a rogue agent, Eisenhorn will go to any length to bring down the enemies of the Imperium. A classic Warhammer 40k story. Review

Seasons of War by Daniel Abraham

The poets and their magical andat have protected the cities of the Khaiem against their rivals in Galt for generations. Otah, Khai of the Winter City of Machi, has tried for years to prepare his people for a future in which the andat can no longer be safely harnessed. But his warnings have been ignored, and now it’s too late. A ruthless, charismatic Galtic general believes he has found a way to strip the andat of their power. If he is wrong, Galt will be destroyed. If he is right, the Khaiem will fall. Only one thing is certain: conflict is inevitable, and Otah and his old friend and enemy the disgraced poet, Maati, must fight a desperate battle to protect their cities from slaughter. These two men, bound together by shadow and betrayal, will bring the world to the edge of a cataclysm unlike anything either side had imagined. For if the cost of war is high, the price of peace may be unimaginable …

It’s rare to find a book that can be so beautiful yet so sad at the same time. The final two books in the Long Price Quartet shows how amazingly talented Abraham is at his craft. I know some people struggled with the first book due to its pace but the entire series is well worth the effort. I still need to write down my thoughts for this book.

Emperor’s Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The Grey Knights are all that stands between mankind and the ravages of Chaos. Since their secretive beginnings during the Horus Heresy, these legendary Space Marine daemon hunters have journeyed into the dark realms of the warp – and beyond – in pursuit of their supernatural enemies. Through an intensive regime of psychic training, new recruits are brought to the clandestine fortress of Titan to join the hallowed and vaunted ranks of the 666th Chapter. More than ever, these legendary battle-brothers must be vigilant and ever ready to defend the Imperium for the forces of Chaos are never truly defeated, and Armageddon beckons…

One of the most outstanding 40k books I’ve read. This story is not just about the first war for Armageddon but also the aftermath of that war when the Inquisition has to purge all taint from the survivors. This story is ultimately about characters doing their best to survive in the grim dark future. ADB is among the very best in creating characters that you truly care about. Review

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

Stephen Leeds, AKA ‘Legion,’ is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his ‘aspects’ are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.

My first exposure to Sanderson and what a real treat this was. This was everything I could have hoped for and more. Now I see why so many people hold Sanderson in such high regards.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

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

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

The book reads like a Tarantino movie and grabs you from the very beginning with its enigmatic protagonist Miriam. If you are looking for a dark, gritty urban fantasy then this one is for you. Review