Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along – Week 4

Welcome to another week’s questions and answers for Lies of Locke Lamora read along. Once again, do visit Andrea at Little Red Reviewer for everyone’s answers to the questions.

This week’s questions are brought to us by Ashley at SF Signal.

1. In the chapter “A Curious Tale for Countess Amberglass” we learn of the tradition of the night tea in Camorr. I found that not so much fantastical as realistic – how about you?
I really love these details that flesh out the world. It shows that there is life outside of the main arc of the story and the author has put in a lot of work into imagining all aspects of this world.

2. When Jean meets with what will become the Wicked Sisters for the first time, the meeting is described very much like how people feel when they find their true work or home. Agree? Disagree? Some of both?
It does sound like Jean has found his true love. I was pretty surprised how fast Jean picked up using the Wicked Sisters and how natural he was at fighting though.

3. Salt devils. Bug. Jean. The description is intense. Do you find that description a help in visualizing the scene? Do you find yourself wishing the description was occasionally – well – a little less descriptive?
I don’t mind descriptive scenes, as long as it’s not redundant or too flowery. I think the description Lynch used for the scene was spot on. It added to the tension and sense of danger that the gang faced in that situation and made it that much more exciting.

4. This section has so much action in it, it’s hard to find a place to pause. But…but.. oh, Locke. Oh, Jean. On their return to the House of Perelandro, their world is turned upside down. Did you see it coming?
Let just say I made the mistake of reading some discussion threads which spoiled the surprise. Anyway I would never have guessed it coming in a million years. It’s fitting but I would like see that GBs together for a few more novels.

5. Tavrin Callas’s service to the House of Aza Guilla is recalled at an opportune moment, and may have something to do with saving a life or three. Do you believe Chains knew what he set in motion? Why or why not?
Chains wanted the boys to be prepared for all kinds of situations. He might not know exactly what mess the GBs will get into but at least he gave them a good foundation.

6. As Locke and Jean prepare for Capa Raza, Dona Vorchenza’s remark that the Thorn of Camorr has never been violent – only greedy and resorting to trickery – comes to mind again. Will this pattern continue?
Well Locke learnt his lesson at a young age and he swore that he will never get anyone killed because of his schemes. So I don’t think he will hurt anyone unless they deserve it.

7. Does Locke Lamora or the Thorn of Camorr enter Meraggio’s Countinghouse that day? Is there a difference?
I don’t think there is a difference between the two. Both the actions of lying and conning are so ingrained in Locke that he can’t simply just be himself. The Thorn of Camorr will always live on in Locke.

Kindle Spring Sale

Amazon UK is running an awesome Kindle Spring Sale till the 12th April with plenty of great classic and newer books. I’ve already picked up Assassin’s Apprentice & The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb and also Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns too. It’s at the lowest price I’ve seen for this book.

Did you get any books in this sale? And have I missed any other gems?

Awesome Cover for Betrayer

Are you following Aaron Dembski Bowden on Facebook? If not, then you should be doing it right now. To celebrate the fan page reaching 2,000 fans, Aaron has released the cover for the upcoming Horus Heresy story, Betrayer on his blog.

Betrayer cover art by Neil Roberts

I’m really loving the details and the expressions on Lorgar’s and Angron’s faces. Also, who knew the Ultramarines can spill so much blood?

This is going to be another epic Horus Heresy novel to look forward to!

Caged View by Kenya Wright

Caged View is a collection of short stories set before the events of Fire Baptized. I know this is a prequel but to fully appreciate these short stories, I highly recommend reading Fire Baptized first as these stories serve as explorations into the main characters’ pasts. Just like Fire Baptized, the stories are well-written and extremely enjoyable.

Love lost, Love found is told from the point of view of a young MeShack. The story deals with the time the Werecheetah lost his mother and how his beast took control in hunting down his mother’s killer.

In The Heart Ripper’s Song, Zulu has a plan to stop the proliferation of drugs in the Mixbreeds neighbourhood which involves ripping out the hearts of drug dealers. Lanore correctly points out that this is not the most efficent way to do things and they should instead be going after the bigger fish, the cartels themselves.

Now we switch to the female lead and Lanore has to make up her mind on the two guys in her life in The Vicious Circle. But which is the right decision?

Last but not least is an excerpt from the upcoming YA novel, Chameleon. Cameo is a Mixbreed with an interesting ability to morph into another person. It already shows a promising start, can’t wait to see how things will turn out for Cameo.

You can pick up these short stories for free at Smashwords and if you like it, be sure to get a copy ofFire Baptized too.

Challenges read for:


2012 Self-Published Reading Challenge – Book 3

 


2012 Ebook Challenge – Book 10

Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm

Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls.

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.”
Before I begin the review, I would just like to say Wow! Is Dead Harvest really a debut novel? This book was such a fantastic read that I finished the book in no time at all. I was extremely impressed with the tension throughout the story and also with the cinematic quality feel that this book creates. To top it off, the protagonist Sam Thornton is a brilliant anti-hero that you can’t help but love.

One of the reasons I like this book so much is because I’m a big fan of supernatural movies and shows. When reading Dead Harvest I’m reminded of scenes from Supernatural, Fallen and End of Days. This book contains the best elements of these stories and has created something absolutely wonderful in the urban fantasy genre.

As you can tell from the blurb, the story deals with the fallout that Sam caused by saying no to a soul collection job. You see, Sam only collects soul of the damned and he believes that the girl has been set up. In order to clear her name, Sam abducts the girl from police custody while he comes up with a plan. However both angels and demons think that he has an ulterior motive for protecting the girl. So now Sam not only has to hide from the police but also from both heaven and hell in this frantic cat and mouse chase.

To balance the fast pacing storyline, we are treated to flashes of Sam’s past which cover how he first met demons and how he became a Collector. These glimpses show us why Sam still clings to his humanity and help build Sam into a more well-rounded character.

I really enjoy how the story turned out but there is one plot point that is nagging me. The following may contain spoiler so skip ahead if you haven’t read the book yet. So everything in the book hinges on the fact that the girl’s soul must be collected but why does it have to be Sam who collects it? Surely Lilith knows that Sam is one of the Collectors that remain the most human and he has the potential to screw up the plan. Couldn’t she have worked it so that Bishop or some other Collector like him was sent on the job instead?

The story comes to a satisfying conclusion and leaves plenty of room for further exploration. Has Sam stopped the apocalypse for good or merely delayed the inevitable? Guess we’ll find out in the sequel, The Wrong Goodbye when it comes out later on this year.

If you love gritty supernatural stories then you should give Dead Harvest a go. I believe this story would work well on the Big Screen and wouldn’t be surprised if this book gets picked up by a studio soon. Chris F. Holm is an author that you should definitely watch out for.

Challenges read for:


2012 Ebook Challenge – Book 9

The Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along – Week 3

It’s time for another The Lies of Locke Lamora read along. This week’s questions come from Bryce at My Awful Reviews. Once again you can find other people’s answer over at the Little Red Reviewer.

1. This section is where we finally get to sneak a peek at the magic in The Gentleman Bastards books. From what we read, what are your initial impressions of the magic Lynch is using? Is there any way that Locke and Company would be able to get around the Bondsmage’s powers?
I like it that magic isn’t that common in this world and it actually costs an arm and a leg just to even hire someone who can casts spells. I’ve read too many stories that are spoiled by way too powerful magic. This means that Locke and Co. have to rely on their wit to overcome the challenge that is the Bondsmage.

2. Not a question, but an area for rampant speculation: If you want to take a stab at who you think the Grey King might be, feel free to do it here.
At first I thought it could be Jean because his background is a mystery. Maybe he became an orphan because of the Capa and now poses as the Grey King to get his revenge. Then I thought maybe it’s Chains, he did say he wants to disrupt the Secret Peace. Where is he now anyway? We never know what happened to him in the story.

2.5 (since 2 wasn’t really a question) Anyone see the Nazca thing coming? Anyone? Do you think there are more crazy turns like this in store for the book? Would you like to speculate about them here? (yes, yes you would)
I didn’t see the Nazca thing coming at all. I think Lynch sucker punched me with the idea of a wedding between Locker and her. Since I’ve finished the book already, let’s just say I never expected what happens at the end of the book.

3. When Locke says “Nice bird, arsehole,” I lose it. EVERY TIME. And not just because I have the UK version of the book and the word arsehole is funnier than asshole. Have there been any other places in the books so far where you found yourself laughing out loud, or giggling like a crazy person on the subway?
I don’t remember laughing out loud but I do recall there were plenty of places that I thought were awesome. (Is it wrong that I love a particular scene with Locke and the Falconer which appears later on in the book?) I also really like the exchanges between Locke, Falconer and the Grey King. This definitely one of my favourites because Locke just wouldn’t take shit from them no matter what.

4. By the end of this reading section, have your opinions changed about how clever the Bastards are? Do you still feel like they’re “cleverer than all the rest?” Or have they been decidedly outplayed by the Grey King and his Bondsmage?
I still think they are clever but definitely not as smart as the Grey King who played them like a pawn. It was obvious that the Grey King never intended them to get out alive. I thought that Locke would have a better contigency plan before going to meet the Capa.

5. I imagine that you’ve probably read ahead, since this was a huge cliffhanger of an ending for the “present” storyline, but I’ll ask this anyway: Where do you see the story going from here, now that the Grey King is thought to be dead?
Now that the Grey King is dead, Capa Barsavi will think he got his revenge and begin to relax… Can’t say much more since I know what happens but what came afterwards didn’t surprise me.

6. What do you think of the characters Scott Lynch has given us so far? Are they believable? Real? Fleshed out? If not, what are they lacking?
I’m really loving the characters so far. Locke is maybe too good at what he does but it doesn’t mean he is invincible. Scott Lynch shows that nothing is safe even if your character has talent.

7. Now that you’ve seen how clever Chains is about his “apprenticeships,” why do you think he’s doing all of this? Does he have an endgame in sight? Is there a goal he wants them to achieve, or is it something more emotional like revenge?
Chains wants to use the Gentleman Bastards to destroy the Secret Peace but why does he hate it so much? He’s training the boys to be well-versed in high society, so he must be planning something to get back at the nobles. Exactly what Chains is planning though, I’m not too sure.

Carpathia by Matt Forbeck

It’s Titanic meets 30 Days of Night.

When the survivors of the Titanic are picked up by the passenger steamship Carpathia, they thought their problems were over.

But something’s sleeping in the darkest recesses of the ship. Something old. Something hungry.
What do you get when you put two of the most popular topic, Titanic and Vampires together? You get Matt Forebeck’s Carpathia, a fun alternate history about the survivors of Titanic. The story pays a big homage to the old school vampires, the ones that are vicious, afraid of garlic and can shapeshift into bats and wolves. None of that silly sparkle in the sunlight stuff.

If you’re into your vampire lore, you will immediately recognise that the names of the main characters inCarpathia are an amalgamation of character names in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Like the characters they are based on, the survivors must take up arms against the vampires or be forever damned.

Initially I had a lot of hope for Dushko, the vampire pack leader and thought he would put up more of a fight but it turns out that he is a pushover and is disposed of rather easily. Luckily there is still Brody who manages to put the survivors through hell and back.

You won’t be disappointed to know that this book contains vast amount of blood and gore. Something that any good vampire stories should have. As each chapter is only a few pages long, it is easy to convince yourself to read on for another chapter and before you know it, you’ve already reached the end of the book.

I would liken Carpathia to Hammer’s horror films. Even though the plot may be predictable and a little cheesy, the story never takes itself too seriously and is a whole lot of fun. You can really feel the danger during the action sequences and you will come to root for the characters and wish that they can pull through in the end.

This may not be the most sophisticated story, but if you’re a fan of classic horror films and looking for a bit of fun, do make sure to pick up a copy of Carpathia.

Challenges read for:


2012 Ebook Challenge – Book 8

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy – from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons – the Dilemma Prison – against countless copies of himself. Jean’s routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self – in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed…

The Quantum Thief is a hard SciFi novel that has received plenty of praise and has been on my radar for quite some time now. So I immediately jumped to it when Fantasy Faction chose this book as its March book club read.

Now having finished reading this, I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand this book is packed with some brilliant ideas that can fill many books on what future could hold for humankind. What if we are no longer bound by our mortal bodies and that we can simply live forever by uploading our minds and spreading our consciousness across the galaxy? What if we can share our memories and our most intimate information with others as simply as sending an instant message?

However on the other hand, I felt these ideas are wrapped in what is essentially a weak story, one where I never cared about the characters at all. At certain points, the book has the reader buried in so many unfamiliar concepts and terminologies that makes identifying with the characters less of a concern. Maybe the author wanted to keep the story short and snappy and decided to sacrifice depth for a fast-moving pace?

The problem is that the story doesn’t guide you by the hand but rather expect you to figure out everything by yourself. I come from a science background so the concepts weren’t that hard for me to figure out but at times you just feel so overwhelmed and lost that you want to give up. Luckily there is also a glossary available on Wikipedia. Even with the glossary at hand, I didn’t have much idea of what was happening in the story until I was in the final chapters when everything finally clicked and realised what a clever ending this is. I felt my “Eureka” moment came too late and spoiled my enjoyment of the story.

This is a book that will definitely benefit from rereading. By the second or third time, you will already be familiar enough with the concepts and can just focus tackling the story. I will let you know if my opinion changes if I ever decide to reread this book.

The Quantum Thief is a book full of potential but not quite getting there yet. Let’s see how the sequel,The Fractal Prince will do when it comes out in September.

Challenges read for:


2012 Ebook Challenge – Book 7

In My Mailbox #3

 

First off I got these two lovely books, War of the Spider Queen Volume 1 & 2 from Wizards of the Coast. I’m a big fan of Forgotten Realms and absolutely love the Drizzt series that R.A. Salvatore has created. Can’t wait to see what Bob and the other authors have in mind for the Drows of the Underdark.

While on the topic of Dark Elves, check out this book called Waiting Game by J.L. Ficks and J.E. Dugue. This is story about a Dark Elf assassin living amongst humans. I know there’s some similarities with the Forgotten Realms series but the author assures me that they are in fact very different.

Be sure to check out their website too (http://www.chroniclesofcovent.com/). It is one of the most detailed and interactive website I have seen for a book series. I guarantee you will loose yourself for hours on that website.

Caged View is a prequel to Kenya Wright’s Fire Baptized (Click here to read my review). This book contains a series of short stories told from the view point of each the main characters in Fire Baptizedas well as one new character from the upcoming YA novel Chameleon. You can grab this for free atSmashwords. Also Fire Baptized is available for free on Amazon till the 18th March.

Finally there’s Spirits of Glory by Emily Devenport. This is a YA SciFi story about a girl’s journey to uncover the reason for the disappearance of the people of the South.

I still have plenty of independently published books that I have to catch up on. So I might have to declare April to be an Indie month for me.

The Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along – Week 2

This is the second week into the Lies of Locke Lamora read along and this week’s questions were supplied by Susan at Dark Cargo. Click here, if you missed my responses for week one’s questions andhere to see what other people has answered for week two.

1. Do you think Locke can pull off his scheme of playing a Midnighter who is working with Don Salvara to capture the Thorn of Camorr? I mean, he is now playing two roles in this game – and thank goodness for that costume room the Gentlemen Bastards have!
When I found out Locke is also the Midnighter I thought how is this con going to work? Then I realised that the Midnighter role gives him a way out of the situation he set up. But why does it have to be so elaborate and complicated? I think it’s because Locke is cocky and in order to look for some excitement and challenges, he has to create these handicaps for himself in the games he plays.

Since we’re only at around the half-way point of the book, it’s obvious that something’s bound to happen to make it difficult for Locke to pull off the con.

2. Are you digging the detail the author has put into the alcoholic drinks in this story?
The Austershalin brandy sounds so good. An alcoholic drink that gives you all the benefits of getting drunk but without the hangover‽ Sign me up! Now where can I find a bottle of 502?

3. Who is this mysterious lady Gentlemen Bastard Sabetha and what does she mean to Locke?
Actually I really want to know more about this mysterious Sabetha. From the dialogue it’s obvious that Sabetha is the one that got away but who is she? And at what point in Locke’s life did he meet her?

4. Are you as creeped out over the use of Wraithstone to create Gentled animals as I am?
Yeah I was a little taken aback by the usage of Wraithstone. I admit the thought of creating Gentled animals is tempting but it’s not necessary. If we can’t tame them by normal means then what right do we have to force them into a life of servitude? It will be a complete disaster if Wraithstone ever falls into the wrong hands and used for nefarious purposes.

5. I got a kick out of child Locke’s first meeting with Capa Barsavi and his daughter Nazca, which was shortly followed up in the story by Barsavi granting adult Locke permission to court his daughter! Where do you think that will lead? Can you see these two together?
I think Nazca has a crush on Locke but his heart will forever be with someone else. The marriage is just going to be a marriage of convenience, something to keep the Capa happy and take his mind off other things.

I think both of them can work well together if they marry. Locke has the brains and Nazca has the authority. However this can only work if Locke lets Nazca into his little secret about the Gentleman Bastards’ real job.

6. Capa Barsavi is freaked out over rumors of The Gray King and, in fact, us readers are privy to a gruesome torture scene. The Gray King is knocking garristas off left and right. What do you think that means?
Oh is he known as the “Gray King” in the US edition? I prefer to call him the Grey King. Anyway I think Capa Barsavi has gotten too old and not as powerful as before. He has finally met his match in the Grey King and looks like he won’t be able to keep his reign over the city for much longer.

7. In the Interlude: The Boy Who Cried for a Corpse, we learn that Father Chains owes an alchemist a favor, and that favor is a fresh corpse. He sets the boys to figuring out how to provide one, and they can’t ‘create’ the corpse themselves. How did you like Locke’s solution to this conundrum?
I had something similar in mind when I first read about the task. If you can’t create a corpse then the most logical place to look for one is a place where they store dead people, like a morgue. Locke’s solution is pretty creative and shows just how convincing his lies can be.

It’s funny how Locke cannot resist complicating such a “simple” task with his over the top theatrics. Good thing that everything worked out according to his plans.