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.

Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve last done a book review and I’ll get things started again with the long overdued review of Lee Collins’s The Dead of Winter. Another brilliant debut from Angry Robot’s amazing 2012 schedule. If you love supernatural stories then you’re in for a treat with this one.

The Dead of Winter stars Cora Oglesby and her husband Ben who specialises in hunting things that even the most hardened hunters are afraid of. Think of them as a Western version of Supernatural’s Sam and Dean Winchester if you will. Like Dean, Cora has a quick to anger temper and prefers action to words, whereas Ben is a more laid-back, thoughtful fellow. Despite how different they are, they do make an incredible pair and have a long history of monster slaying behind them. So that is why the marshal agreed to let Cora investigate the unnatural deaths of two local hunters in Leadville. But things are never this easy and soon they discover what is really lurking around in Leadville.

I really enjoyed the pacing and structure of this book. The first half serves an introduction to help you familiarise yourself with the characters and demonstrates just how effective and ruthless Cora is at her work. Once you reach the second half though, that is when the real meat of the story begins and you are exposed to a world bathed in rich lores and myths. Even though we’ve read these vampire stories hundred of times before, Collins still made it interesting and thrilling. I even managed to pick up a term for vampires that I never knew before!

A lot of credit goes to how well Cora is written. She is a conflicted character torn by a tragic event in her past. Cora wants to settle down to an easy life once she has made enough money but circumstances drive her to continue her journey on the road. Her character and attitude truly reflects on all the crap she has been through in her life. I can’t wait to see how she will evolve after the events in this story.

The Dead of Winter is a fantastic Supernatural tale set in Western setting with plenty of action and quirky humour. Definitely not to be missed and it makes a wonderful addition to your (virtual) bookshelf. Did you know that Collins was discovered because of Angry Robot’s Open Door Month? I’m just glad they did not pass on this gem.

Cora’s tale will continue in She Returns From War, which will be published in February 2013.

The Wrong Goodbye by Chris F. Holm

Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.

Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight-and-narrow.

Which sounds all well and good, but when the soul Sam’s sent to collect goes missing, Sam finds himself off the straight-and-narrow pretty quick.
Dead Harvest is one of the best supernatural debuts to come out this year. An explosive thriller that gave us Sam Thorton, a body hopping soul collector who just happens to be the lynchpin of the Apocalypse. Sam was given a nigh on impossible task and must see it through while caught in between the manipulations of both angels and demons. A fantastic action packed story that had all the elements of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie!

In The Wrong Goodbye, Sam Thornton is back once again collecting the souls of evildoers. We’re quickly thrust into the situation when the soul Sam was meant to collect ends up missing and the person responsible is an old buddy of Sam’s. Now Sam must find and inter the soul before his own is blast into nothingness by an angry and ancient god. Joined by a dead mobster and a transsexual fortune teller, Sam takes the road across America as he searches for the missing soul. Sounds like an odd combination right? But you just have to read it to believe it.

You would be glad to know that the thrill and tension that you enjoyed so much in the debut is back and dare I say it, even better in this book. The recently deceased small time mobster, Gio, provides much of the comic relief in this book and makes a good contrast to Sam who can be a little too serious and grim at times. The mythology of the world is further expanded in The Wrong Goodbye and now we realise there are other entities besides angels and demons at play.

The book also references to skirmishes between angels and demons across the world as a result of the events in the first book. To me, it feels like the final book in the trilogy will be about the forthcoming Apocalypse, so I wonder why the angels and demons take a backseat in this book? Although I would have liked a stronger apocalyptic theme in this book, the story here still satisfied my appetite.

You don’t need to have read Dead Harvest to enjoy The Wrong Goodbye as the story neatly fills in any gaps that you may have. If you really haven’t read the first book then you should definitely get it now. This action packed novel will keep you reading late into the night and provide hours of entertainment. An irresistible treat for all the urban fantasy fans out there. Now that much of the mythology and groundwork has been laid, I look forward to the finale when the end of days draws near!

The Collector Series: Dead Harvest, The Wrong Goodbye

The Wrong Goodbye by Chris F. Holm

Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.

Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight-and-narrow.

Which sounds all well and good, but when the soul Sam’s sent to collect goes missing, Sam finds himself off the straight-and-narrow pretty quick.
Dead Harvest is one of the best supernatural debuts to come out this year. An explosive thriller that gave us Sam Thorton, a body hopping soul collector who just happens to be the lynchpin of the Apocalypse. Sam was given a nigh on impossible task and must see it through while caught in between the manipulations of both angels and demons. A fantastic action packed story that had all the elements of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie!

In The Wrong Goodbye, Sam Thornton is back once again collecting the souls of evildoers. We’re quickly thrust into the situation when the soul Sam was meant to collect ends up missing and the person responsible is an old buddy of Sam’s. Now Sam must find and inter the soul before his own is blast into nothingness by an angry and ancient god. Joined by a dead mobster and a transsexual fortune teller, Sam takes the road across America as he searches for the missing soul. Sounds like an odd combination right? But you just have to read it to believe it.

You would be glad to know that the thrill and tension that you enjoyed so much in the debut is back and dare I say it, even better in this book. The recently deceased small time mobster, Gio, provides much of the comic relief in this book and makes a good contrast to Sam who can be a little too serious and grim at times. The mythology of the world is further expanded in The Wrong Goodbye and now we realise there are other entities besides angels and demons at play.

The book also references to skirmishes between angels and demons across the world as a result of the events in the first book. To me, it feels like the final book in the trilogy will be about the forthcoming Apocalypse, so I wonder why the angels and demons take a backseat in this book? Although I would have liked a stronger apocalyptic theme in this book, the story here still satisfied my appetite.

You don’t need to have read Dead Harvest to enjoy The Wrong Goodbye as the story neatly fills in any gaps that you may have. If you really haven’t read the first book then you should definitely get it now. This action packed novel will keep you reading late into the night and provide hours of entertainment. An irresistible treat for all the urban fantasy fans out there. Now that much of the mythology and groundwork has been laid, I look forward to the finale when the end of days draws near!

The Collector Series: Dead Harvest, The Wrong Goodbye

Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher

Tony Prosdocimi lives in the bustling Metropolis of San Ventura — a city gripped in fear, a city under siege by the hooded supervillain, The Cowl.

When Tony develops super-powers and acts to take down The Cowl, however, he finds that the local superhero team Seven Wonders aren’t as grateful as he assumed they’d be…
I’ve been reading a lot of superhero novels lately and each book handles this subgenre differently. With Wild Cards you have very political driven stories and with Matt Forbeck’s Brave New World series, you get a lot of action-packed entertainment. Now with Seven Wonders you have a story that stays true to its comic book origin and one where you can feel just how passionate the author is to these stories.

With a name like Seven Wonders, you might mistakenly think that the book is about the exploits and adventures of the superheroes in the title like the Fantastic Four or the X-men. In fact this story follows the rise and fall of Tony Prosdocimi as he suddenly develops super-powers. Tony tries to put an end to The Cowl, the last supervillain left on Earth and asks to join the Seven Wonders but realises that the local superhero team may not have the city’s best interest at heart.

There is a wide variety of superheroes featured in this book. There’s the aforementioned Seven Wonders, each with their own distinctive style and ability that makes for great reading. Towards the end of the book we are shown just how big the superhero family on Earth is when they gather up for the final showdown. I thought all these backstories would be great additions to Angry Robot’s WorldBuilder project and was surprised that Seven Wonders hasn’t been included in it. I guess that since the world isn’t as unique as it is in Empire State maybe that’s why Seven Wonders wasn’t included into the project.

As we all know superheroes alone do not make a great comic story, we also need villains that we despise but secretly love and The Cowl fits perfectly into this role. There are certain points in the story where we see events through The Cowl’s eyes and learn of his failing superpowers and later of his redemption. Christopher has seized these opportunities to expand and add a lot more depth in The Cowl and made him into a fully fleshed out character that you will not forget.

When I was reading the book, I was reminded of Nolan’s Batman movies. The reason is that the story just keeps on giving. Just when you think the main villain has been stopped, you realise there are actually more afoot and the story continues on this fantastic yet unexpected journey.

The book was such a joy to read and the scenes were so vivid that I swear it was like reading the comic book version. I’m sure any superhero fan would appreciate and love this story too. This is a brilliant story that would make a great standalone novel but I wouldn’t be surprised if we visit this setting again at a later date.

vN by Madeline Ashby

Amy Peterson is a von Neumann machine, a self-replicating humanoid robot.

For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, little Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive.

Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history – like the fact that the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed… Which means that everyone wants a piece of her, some to use her as a weapon, others to destroy her.
I was so excited about Madeline Ashby’s vN when I first read the short story, The Education of Junior Number 12 at http://angryrobotbooks.com/vnshort/ back in Christmas. The short story provides a good foundation to the world of vN and I highly recommend you to read it before the book as it gives you a better insight into the character of Javier.

Like the androids in Spielberg’s A.I., the Von Neumann machines (vN for short) are used for pretty much everything that you can imagine. Some people truly love them and marry them whereas others use them as no strings attached sex toys. Due to the built in failsafe control, the vNs can’t help but love their human masters and will obey any given command even if it puts them at risk.

Instead of another modern day interpretation of Pinocchio’s tale, the book explores what would happen if vNs can overcome the restrictions that they were created with and how society reacts once it learns that the machines can hurt humans. Ashby describes a world where intelligent, almost human like androids are treated as third class citizens who live and die by their masters’ commands. There are times you pity the vNs and wonder why no one has demanded greater rights for them.

Throughout Amy’s adventure with Javier we see the contrast between a vN with functioning failsafe control and one without. The failsafe not only affect their behaviour but also their entire outlook and the story uses this to offer a fascinating look into the issue of self-identity. In the case of Javier, it explains why he abandons his young as soon as he’s able to and his reluctance to relate to other beings.

The writing, especially the parts surrounding the growth of Amy is excellent. We see the once naive and innocent Amy adapting to the world as circumstances force her to part with her parents and escape from the authorities. However there are a couple of times in the book where the scene suddenly jumps and I have to go back to check if I have not missed anything.

Despite the slightly awkward transitions in the book, Ashby’s writing is still promising and I look forward to the sequel. On the whole, vN is an impressive début that brings a much needed human aspect to the tried and tested robot stories.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Miriam Black knows when you will die.

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.

Blackbirds by Chung Wendig has been on my radar due to the amazing amount of praise I’ve been hearing around the blogosphere. So I was extremely thrilled when the book was chosen as the June book club read with Fantasy Faction as I get to share with others on their reading experience.

Now that I have some time to reflect, I can honestly say that the book is one hell of a ride. 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 but be warned that this book does contain some strong language.

Through a series of well-crafted interludes, we begin to understand how this prophetic gift that Miriam has works and how it has cursed her life. It is also in these interludes that we learn who Miriam really is and why she is trekking all over the country. However things are never easy for her because of her gift, and soon she finds herself involved with a smug conman on the run from a group of blood thirsty criminals.

The book has some memorable and convincing villains but my one complaint is the trucker Louis who just seemed to good too be true. No matter what happened to him in the book, he is always cheery and for some reason, extremely tolerant of Miriam. However he does make an interesting contrast to Miriam and I wonder if they can ever work out due to how different they are in character.

This book is well paced and well put together. It had me racing to the end to see if Miriam could succeed in altering what Fate has planned. Blackbirds is a fantastic book and I will definitely read the sequel,Mockingbird which comes out in September 2012 through Angry Robot.

The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods–and a skrayling ambassador–to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador’s bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally–and Mal his soul.

Anne Lyle’s The Alchemist of Souls was my May book club read with Fantasy Faction. I don’t usually read fantasy stories based on real history but I think Lyle has found the right balance between the real and the imaginary. For me the story would have worked just as well as a historical fiction with the fantasy elements omitted.

Lyle is a great writer as evident in her expertly described vision of Elizabethan England and her fascinating characters. Although I struggled a bit at the beginning as I found the pacing a little slow but the plot and mystery had me intrigued right to the end. I really want to understand why the skrayling ambassador is so interested in Mal, who seems like just a regular sword for hire. Besides the plot, I also enjoyed reading the developing relationship between Mal and Coby and I hope we get to see more of it in the next book.

It is interesting to see how Lyle’s believe was brought to life in this book in regards to gender issues. Coby is a budding young woman who has to hide her sex in order to survive on her own in a male dominated world; the skraylings revolve around a matriarchy where they would seek approval from the females and then there are the gay characters who have to deal with persecution. I think it is great that Lyle is calling attention to these issues as we still face them in this day and age.

The ending leaves me with plenty of questions and I wonder how they will be addressed in the forthcoming book The Merchant of Dreams?

The Alchemist of Souls is a wonderful début and a brilliant start to the Night’s Masque series and will definitely appeal to both historical fiction and fantasy fans.

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

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

Giant Thief by David Tallerman

Even the wicked can’t rest when a vicious warlord and the force of enslaved giants he commands invade their homeland. Damasco might get away in one piece, but he’s going to need help.

Big time.

I’ve been reading a lot of books on thieves lately and each author manage to bring something different with their creation. Giant Thief is a fun and humorous take on this trend, and on many ways it succeeds. In this book we have a thief who has the charisma to charm his way out of any situation, and there are plenty of scenes where Easie Damasco uses his wit to weasel his way out of the direst confrontations. However its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness for me. At no point I felt that Easie is in any danger because I know that he will always get out of him. In fact he made it through the story pretty much unharmed.

Another weak point is that the story can be considered as one long chase sequence and after a while you just get tired of all the running. Since most of the book is filled with action and running, very little space is left for world building. Due to this, the world just failed to make an impression on me. The setting feels very much like a generic version of a medieval fantasy land with the usual nobles and peasants that inhabit it. For an imprint that is known for its genre-bending stories, Giant Thief feels a little too linear and ordinary.

As for the characters, I never liked Easie as the protagonist but maybe that’s the point. He is a typical selfish egotistical thief who has tremendous confidence in himself and the only person he cares about is himself. There is nothing wrong with that but I just find it harder to get into a story when I can’t emphasise with the lead.

There are a few other important characters in the book but they too failed to make an impact on me. Moaradrid is supposed to be the villain of the story but at no point was the reader made clear on his motivation for his actions and we just have to trust that he is the bad guy. Marina Estrada, the mayor of Muena Palaiya is a fierce woman and the source of her town’s strength against the invasion. Here’s an interesting character that I wanted to get into but feel that the part wasn’t as fleshed out as I hoped.

I think one thing that all readers would agree on is how adorable the stolen giant Saltlick is. Most of the time the giant just bumbles along and acts as the butt end of the jokes. As the story goes on we realise that he may not be as dumb as we think and that there is real intelligence behind those dopey eyes. Saltlick may seem simple but at least he knows what his values are and what he needs to do to keep them intact. For me, Saltlick is the real undeniable hero of the book. It would be a shame if he doesn’t feature in the sequel book titled Crown Thief.

Even though I didn’t enjoy the protagonist that much, I still had a good time reading the book. Giant Thiefis one of those books that is a bit of a laugh and is interesting enough to keep your turning the pages. It is a fun adventure that you can relax and escape to during your downtime.

Challenges read for:


2012 Ebook Challenge – Book 6

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.


After reading about thieves in Fantasy setting, I will follow up with another novel about thieves but this time in Science Fiction setting. The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, is said to be amongst the best Science Fiction debuts of 2011 and I will be reading it with Fantasy Faction’s March book club read. It will be interesting to see how the two books compare with each other.

I will also be getting two books from my Angry Robot subscription, Carpathia by Matt Forbeck and Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm. There’s already plenty of strong advance reviews for both novels and for once I can read both books from the subscription because they are not sequels to any series. The books also have these gorgeous retro style covers, hats off to Angry Robot for their design choice.

Here’s just a few of the books that I’m planning to read in March. If I still have time left, maybe I’ll go through some of the indie books that I’ve yet to read. What will you read in March?

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.


Really the laws of the pocket’s effects are just strange. Some people in the parallel world is completely opposite to their real world counterparts whereas others only in name. Some require special breathing apparatus to crossover but others can manage fine without them. Some land on the otherside having missed a few decades while others immediately crossed over. To me it just felt like the laws were whatever fitted with the needs of the story.

As for the characters, I initially enjoyed reading about the detective Rad. I liked the journey he goes through as he discovers the true nature of the Empire State and what is ultimately at stake. However I lost interest in him when it is revealed that Rad is the way he is all because he is a reflection of his real world counterpart. Nevertheless I carried on but by that point, I couldn’t find anything else that gripped me and in the end I just gave up on the struggles of both worlds. Even the outcome of the final battle felt a little too easy and convenient with everything wrapped up too perfectly.

Although the story didn’t live up to my expectation, the redeeming feature for me is the prohibition-era setting with superheroes that is reminiscence of the Golden Age of comics. Adam Christopher has written a story that blends multiple genres and created something that is truly unique, and is a fabulous addition to Angry Robot’s genre bending catalogue. If you want to explore more of this setting, you can head over to the Worldbuilder project where readers can share their own contribution to this fictional universe.

Empire State is a book that I desperately wanted to love but couldn’t. Despite this, Empire State is still a strong debut with many great ideas and concepts that should be further explored in the Worldbuilder project. Adam Christopher shows a lot of promise and I am interested to see what else he has in store in the future.

Challenges read for:


2012 Ebook Challenge – Book 5

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

Fantastic eBook Sale at Angry Robot

Just in case you don’t know already, there’s an amazing sale going at Angry Robot where you can pick up some awesome genre fiction at half price!

There’s no way I can pass up on such a great deal, and here’s what I bought.

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

A Red Tentacle Award winner and shortlisted for both Arthur C Clarke and British Science Fiction Award. Now there’s even a plan to turn the book into a movie. I’m going to see if it really does live up to its hype.

Reality 36 by Guy Haley

I’m a sucker for detective novels and mysteries. So when Reality 36 is described as Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd century, it definitely has piqued my interest. Also Erik at I Will Read Books has given so muchpraise to this book and I trust his judgement.

Embedded by Dan Abnett

Dan Abnett writing science-fiction again but this time using his own world instead of the 40k universe. I enjoy his writing, and I’m looking forward to see what he can do when given a world of his own making.

6 Month Subscription

I decided to get the subscription because Angry Robot is going to publish so many great books that I want to read. Empire State, Giant Thief, Dead Harvest, Carpathia and The Alchemist of Souls are just some of them. I also can’t wait to discover new authors through the subscription.

So looks like I will be posting a lot more reviews of Angry Robot books in the coming months.

Amanda Rutter to Run Angry Robot’s New Imprint

I’ve been a fan of Amanda‘s book reviews for a while. So I’m really glad to see Angry Robot has hired her to run their new imprint, Strange Chemistry, which will be publishing Young Adult genre fiction. However due to a potential conflict of interest, she will stop her reviews. I will miss her reviews but at the same time I wish her every success with her new role.

Angry Robot, the award-winning publisher of SF, F and WTF are pleased to announce their newest venture – a sister imprint, Strange Chemistry, which will publish Young Adult genre fiction.

The imprint will launch in September 2012, with five titles appearing before the end of that year, before settling down to one book each month. Strange Chemistry will follow AR’s strategy of co-publishing its books simultaneously in the US and UK, in both eBook and paperback formats. Subject matter will include fantasy, science fiction, supernatural and horror, and as with Angry Robot the lines between those genres are likely to be very blurry at times.

Running the imprint will be Amanda Rutter, until recently best known as the tireless blogger behind genre review site, Floor-to-Ceiling Books. She takes up her position in Angry Robot’s headquarters in Nottingham on December 12th.

Angry Robot’s managing director Marc Gascoigne said: “The key to any truly successful genre imprint is the personality of its editors. In Amanda we’ve found the perfect mix of editing skills and wild, wild enthusiasm for the subject. Her first signings are already making us jump up and down in excitement. We’re beyond delighted to welcome her to the team.”

Amanda Rutter commented, “Angry Robot have quickly become one of the most exciting and challenging genre publishers around, and I have so much admiration for the types of novels that the guys are bringing to the world of speculative fiction. I’m absolutely thrilled that I have the opportunity to join the team, and create a list full of Young Adult novels that share the same sharpness and passion as those in the AR list.”