28 February 2012

Reading List for March

Just finished reading the Eisenhorn omnibus, a really great trilogy that I've put off for far too long. The omnibus really gives you a strong sense of the grim dark future of the 40k universe and the tense war between the Imperium and agents of the Warp. I had a great time reading it and will put up my review of the stories shortly.

In March, I'll be taking a short break from the 40k universe and will concentrate on some of the authors that I have yet to read. First off will be The Lies of Locke Lamora, book one of The Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch. I know it's been out for a while but I will be reading it for the first time as part of a book club. I've heard a lot of good praise for this book and how it kicked off a whole trend of books on thieves in fantasy.

25 February 2012

Empire State by Adam Christopher

The stunning superhero-noir fantasy thriller set in the other New York.

It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State - a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New York.

When the rift starts to close, both worlds are threatened, and both must fight for the right to exist.

Adam Christopher's stunning debut novel heralds the arrival of an amazing new talent.

I actually read Empire State a while ago but it's taken me over a month to gather my thoughts and to finally write a review on this book. It's a book that I found really hard to write a review for. I'll start by saying that Empire State reminds me a lot of Fringe and The Thirteenth Floor. The stories are about people crossing over to another world that looks similar to the original but yet with many things different. Since I love both Fringe and The Thirteenth Floor, the thought of a detective novel set in a parallel universe with superheroes during the prohibition era should be the sort of thing that I would also love. However the story just didn't work for me. The ideas presented in the book are neat but I couldn't buy into the characters and felt that things were too easily explained away by saying that it was the pocket's effect.

24 February 2012

Diablo III: Book of Cain by Blizzard Entertainment

Diablo III: Book of Cain is written from Deckard Cain's point of view. The book is intended as a legacy to his niece Leah, who after reading this book, would have the knowledge to continue the work of the Horadrim before the coming apocalypse.

This book is packed with gorgeous artworks and lore that give the reader a better understanding of the Diablo universe. The first half of the book goes through the history of Sanctuary, including the eternal conflict between the High Heavens and Burning Hells, its creation, the Sin War, Mage Wars and the trapping of the three Prime Evils. The second half of the book goes through the story of the first two games including their expansions and foreshadows the things to come in the long awaited third game of the series.

My favourite parts of the book are the sections on the Angels and Evils. Each character comes with a beautifully rendered sketch along with their description and for the Angels, there are further information on the weapons they wield. My only gripe with this book is that the Dark Wanderer has been changed from the player to Prince Aidan, son of the mad King Leoric in the first game.

On the whole, the book is a fun quick read. Each entry is only a few pages long and provides just enough to wet the reader's appetite. If you are interested in the Diablo universe and want to dig deeper into the story, I would recommend reading the tie-in books.

Book of Cain comes in a solid hardback, printed on quality paper and also contains a map of Sanctuary in the back envelope. This book is well worth its price and is a must have for fans of the Diablo series.

16 February 2012

In My Mailbox #2

It's been a long week, lots of things needed to be done which left not much time to write reviews. Anyway, one of my most recent purchases have finally came through the post last week.

Myke Cole's Control Point, is a fantastic debut that mixes military action with magic. You really need to check it out if you haven't already. I also got a lovely signed SOC bookplate from Myke to go with the book.

8 February 2012

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn't been able to dredge up any kind of work—magical or mundane.

But just when it looks like he can't afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.

A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses — and the first two don't count...

In Fool Moon, Chicago’s wizard for hire, Harry Dresden is once again called up by the Chicago Police Department to investigate a gruesome death with suspected supernatural connections. It didn’t take Dresden long to figure out that werewolves are involved and it turns out this is just one murder in a series of deaths. And now Dresden has to help catch the culprits before the next full moon but can he do it while keeping the people he cares about from harm?

So the Dresden Files, the amazing series about a wizard in modern day Chicago that everyone seems to be raving about. Having now read two of these, I’m still not quite sure on the series yet. Yeah sure, this book is fun. There are werewolves, not just one type but four! Humans who are cursed to live as wolves, humans shifting to wolves with an enchantment, wolves shifting to humans and humans acting like wolves! There is also a massive bloodbath. An entire police station wiped out by a werewolf! How cool is that?

Despite all this, this book still feels more like a monster of the week kinda thing. Bad guys show up, Dresden hits on some girls, gets into trouble and then proceeds to save the day, all in a day’s work. There seems to be some progression in the romance department for Dresden but little in terms of character development.

Maybe I’m expecting too much from the series, because if you read this book by itself, it’s actually quite enjoyable. A little too predictable perhaps but at least you get a satisfying end that ties up nicely.
I may sound a little negative in this review but I still have confidence for this series. My thinking is that I would invest in the Dresden Files like I would in a new TV series. With the first few stories, the series is still establishing its audience so it just throws everything out there. Afterwards the story will begin to focus on the bigger arc and show the audience how everything is linked together.

From the people I’ve been talking to, this series is supposed to get amazing from book 4 onwards. So I’m going to stick with it and hope for the best.

Challenges read for:

2012 Ebook Challenge - Book 4

6 February 2012

Reality 36 by Guy Haley

Something is amiss in the renegade digital realm of Reality 36. Richards—a Level 5 AI with a PI fetish—and his partner, a decommissioned German military cyborg, are on the trail of a murderer, but the killer has hidden inside an artificial reality. Richards and Klein must stop him before he becomes a god - for the good of all the realms.

Reality 36 is a thrilling mystery novel set in a world run by Artificial Intelligence. Richards, a self-aware AI and his partner Otto Klein, a German decommissioned cyborg are approached by EuPol Five to investigate a case most peculiar, the apparent deaths of one of the world’s most renowned AI scientist, Zhang Qifang. That’s right, the good professor has somehow managed to die twice. Things get stranger as the duo probes deeper into the mystery of the deaths and soon they unravel a massive cover-up that would shatter both the physical and virtual world.

Sure there are plenty of action and humour in this book. The banter between Richards and Hughie comes to mind. However what makes the story exceptional is Haley’s vision of the future and the thought provoking questions he asks.

The title, Reality 36 is actually a collection of 36 virtual realms that used to be the playing ground of people. The world’s governments have ruled that the self-aware artificial intelligence within these realms can be considered as real life forms and humans should be trialed as they are in real-life for committing any acts of murders in these realms. The governments have also ruled that if intelligent agents like Richards and his kin are to have the same rights as humans, they should be bound by the same laws. This means they have to exist as a singular identity and no form of duplication of themselves are allowed. So, is AI life and do these entities have souls? These are some great questions to ask the future generation of scientists as our world grow more reliant on intelligent agents to do our work.

Despite the excellent vision of the future, there are some problems that I have with this novel. One, the story just took too long to get started. The first third of the book was used to introduce Richards, Klein and Veronique Valdaire and what their lives are like before the main events of the story kicked in. While it’s interesting to know that Richards is tracking down a human trafficker, this little subplot isn’t related to the whole scheme of things. Second, the subtitle, A Richards and Klein novel indicates that Reality 36 is perhaps a standalone story in a series of novels like the Sherlock Holmes stories. It really threw me off to find out the book ends in a cliffhanger! There’s nothing wrong with cliffhangers but maybe I feel cheated because of the misleading subtitle.

On the whole, I think the good points outweigh the bad and that there should be more Science Fiction writers like Haley who asks these thought provoking questions on what it means to be alive.

Challenges read for:

2012 Ebook Challenge - Book 3

4 February 2012

In My Mailbox #1

I've decided to borrow The Story Siren's idea and finally start recording the books that I purchased and received.


Diablo III: Book of Cain by Blizzard Entertainment - I've been waiting a long time for this. A quality book with great looking illustrations. Well worth the price!
The Word Bearers Omnibus by Anthony Reynolds

Angry Robot Subscription
Giant Thief by David Tallerman
The Great Game by Lavie Tidhar

For Review
Incursion by Aaron Rosenberg
Jack Hunter - The Secret of the King by Martin King

I'm still waiting for my copy of Myke Cole's Control Point to arrive. If you still have bought your copy yet, do it now because Myke will sign your book in whichever way he can!

1 February 2012

Introducing Urban Fantasy Author: Kenya Wright

I would like to welcome Kenya Wright onto the blog. Her debut novel, Fire Baptized is an exciting mix of urban fantasy, paranormal romance and crime fiction. You can read my review of the book here. If you still don't believe me, pick up a copy of the book at the usual places and see for yourself!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started writing urban fantasy?
I’m a big geek. I love anything that’s sci-fi/fantasy from movies to books, conventions to magazines. This weirdness of mine pretty much started around eight years old when I would sneak and read Stephen King. Later, I became the crazy lady that hung out at Borders until midnight waiting for the next Harry Potter book.

How I began writing urban fantasy is interesting. I was walking with my ten year old step son in Barnes and Nobles, complaining that there wasn’t more diversity in urban fantasy novels. He looked up at me and simply said, “You should write that book. You’re smart.”

I laughed, thinking that kids are just so confident and there was no way I could write a book. Later that night, I replayed the story to my husband. He completely agreed that I should write the book and supported me through the writing process.

How does it feel now that your first book is completed? Terrified or like a great weight as been lifted?
I do feel like a great weight has been lifted. It’s exactly like seeing this huge mountain in front of you, thinking you couldn’t do it, and then finally standing at the top. Now I’m motivated to write many more, especially in this Habitat Series.

Lanore is a feisty character. How much of you did you put into character and did it take you a long time to get her correct?
Lanore and I only have one thing in common. We both can create and manipulate fire. LOL. Seriously, Lanore and I both had rough childhoods. Like Lanore, there was some drug use in my family that directly affected my upbringing to the point where it was neglectful at times. When I began to develop Lanore and MeShack, I didn’t intend on giving them those rough childhoods, but the freaking pen and paper just would not cooperate. Their bonded survival through neglect and poverty continued to come through the surface.

It didn’t take long to get Lanore correct. Lanore is such a flawed character that I knew the readers would either hate her or love her. The guys were the characters that took a lot of time to get correct.

I'm really fascinated by the rich alternate history that you have created for the Habitat series. Have you considered exploring different time periods of this world?
Yes. I’ve wanted to write a prequel of the events that lead to the humans forcing supernaturals to live in cages. Your review actually pushed that prequel book idea higher up in the queue. I’m currently writing the sequel to Fire Baptized, which is The Burning Bush. Additionally, I’m writing short stories of events that happened before Fire Baptized, and posting them on my goodreads’ blog in February.

Religion and worship play a major role in the book. What made you decide to use the Santeria religion rather than create a new one?
At first I wanted to create my own religion and so I figured it would be smart to research existent religions so that mine would be realistic. Santeria was a religion that really captivated me. I loved the Afro-Cuban influence. I ended up changing my original plan and using Santeria. In the end, it was perfect for a fantasy story set in Miami which has an extremely huge Cuban population.

In Fire Baptized, there are many scenes that involve equal rights for the Mixies. Have you always intended this to be a strong theme in your book?
Definitely! Authors like Octavia Butler and Margaret Atwood are my biggest influences. These are writers that create amazing futuristic settings and throw in powerful themes of racism and gender discrimination.

I remember one sociology course where my professor discussed that if you got a huge group of people into one room, and they all are similar: race, background, economic status, age, gender, etc, there is still a 75% chance that the group will divide into two groups and then one group will attempt to oppress the other.

As you can imagine, the class had a heated discussion after that statement, but I remember being so interested in this concept. This is why there is this continuous down flow of oppression within Fire Baptized. The humans are oppressing supernaturals. Purebloods have segregated themselves from mixbreeds. Shapeshifters have rejected the Rebels, and so on.

To me, Fire Baptized is more like a crime fiction with supernatural elements. Are you a fan of crime fiction and are there any other genres you would like to explore in your writings?
Crime fiction is my second love.

I definitely plan on writing other genres. I have recently been reading a lot of cyberpunk lately, and am brainstorming on a couple of book ideas in that area.

Besides the Habitat series, are there any projects you are working on or in the pipeline?
I will be releasing an erotic paranormal romance novella on February 13, 2012 called Incubus Hunter. This is not my typical writing genre. Writing Incubus Hunter scenes started off as practice for me to work on sensory and setting development. The next you know I have a novella with a clear plot line. The world is completely different from Fire Baptized. Here, the supernaturals secretly exist among humans. My two main characters are Carmen an elf with venomous fangs who hunts demons and Blaze a two hundred year old Incubus demon.

For more information on Kenya Wright and her projects, visit her blog, twitter or Goodreads profile.