31 January, 2012

2012 January Wrap-Up

January was a great month for me review-wise. I can't promise a repeat next month since I don't have any long breaks from school coming up. I will say, however, that my Kindle has been a very positive influence on the reading stats.


Tisarian's Treasure - J.M. Martin
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Draculas - Blake Crouch, Jack Killborn, F. Paul Wilson, Jeff Strand
The Great Bazaar (A Demon Cycle Novella) - Peter V. Brett
The World House - Guy Adams
Perfect Shadow (Night Angel Novella) - Brent Weeks
The Thirteen Hallows - Michael Scott and Colette Freedman
Shadow Ops: Control Point - Myke Cole


Epic Wheel of Time Giveaway: The Eye of the World (Still time to enter)

We'll announce the winner of the giveaway in the next week or so and start the next giveaway for The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time book 2) right after.


The Kindle Conundrum - Alec

Random Category:

New Favorite Web Comic - Doghouse Diaries

30 January, 2012

Review - Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole

This book blew me away.

Shadow Ops: Control Point [US] [UK] [Kindle] by Myke Cole is one hell of a ride. Beware, if you pick it up, you may not be able to do anything until you finish. It's that good.

I'm going to attempt to explain this book in the next couple paragraphs, but bear with me, I just learned some military jargon by reading the book, I am in no way fluent. Plus there's military jargon specific to the book. See my problem? (This is not to mean that it's in anyway unbearable, it works really well)

The world has changed, and yet not. The Reawakening has come and a small percentage of the population has begun to manifest certain magical abilities. People can control fire, water, earth, air and health along with other prohibited types, but you'll find no Captain Planet here. As soon as you manifest, you enlist in the military otherwise risk being named a Selfer - a rogue magic-user who's all but dead in the eyes of the military.

Oscar Britton is a helicopter pilot for the Army, he flies Kiowas if you were wondering. As we jump into Control Point, Britton's team along with a team from the SOC (Supernatural Operations Corps) is on their way to take down a couple Selfers at a local school. The problem is - these are just kids and Britton has a tough time going in to take them out, thus introducing some of the difficult problems with getting rid of due process for a minority group. They take out the kids, not without some clashing between Britton and the SOC team head, Harlequin (an Aeromancer - controls air).

Then, Britton wakes up the next morning manifesting in a prohibited school of magic, he's a probe and probes are dead on sight. What's there to do but run?

There's so much more to go into, but I really hate ruining anything, but lets just say that there are quite a few twists and turns, lots of fighting (both hand-to-hand and with magic), alien species, moral quandaries, and lots more.

As the author, Cole, has been heavily involved in the military and its interesting to see his take on the X-Men premise, when people start exhibiting magical powers. Cole's vision in this book has the government making it illegal and the military enforcing it - no ifs, ands, or buts. It's hard to say the government would just eliminate due process, but at the same time we are living in the time of the Patriot Act.

Oscar Britton is our primary focus throughout the story even though it's told from an omniscient perspective. While he's made the military his career, he still sees the flaws in a system that allows people to essentially become slaves of the system especially when they have no control over whether they inherit powers or not. But then again, that's the problem, people can't always control their powers.

Britton struggles throughout the book with whether he supports the military or not and the constant theme that training and preparation wins out over power is also prominent. He knows the military does good things, but is it worth the cost?

I've almost painted the picture that this is some moody, contemplative work, but that's not the case and I'm sorry to have lead you astray. These elements are more islands in the river of plot movement and action, which are never bogged down, only enhanced by such expositions.

Myke Cole is an author to watch and Shadow Ops: Control Point is possibly the best debut of the year. I know it's early yet, but I couldn't put this book down and that goes a long way for me.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Your mission, should you choose to accept it - Find a copy of Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole by any (legal) means necessary and read it immediately. Release date: Tomorrow, January 31, 2012.

Check out the author's site and a great review from Justin at Staffer's Musings where he talks about the author's background some more and gives a good definition to the genre this book fits under - Military Urban Fantasy. I like it.

Shadow Ops: Control Point was received from the author.

27 January, 2012

Review - The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman

I have to admit, the cover got me. The cool looking sword, the hazy Big Ben in the background, the shades of blue, it's just a great cover. I'm sorry to say the rest of the book didn't quite live up to it.

For some reason I thought The Thirteen Hallows [US] [UK] [Kindle] would be YA, but that's far from the truth. It's probably because Scott wrote The Alchemyst series (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel). Lots of bloody rituals, sex, and more bloody rituals.

Thirteen people, the keepers, charged with watching over the thirteen hallows, powerful objects that when brought together, well, that's just a bad idea. Evil and bad with a touch of scary happens.

The thirteen keepers are charged with keeping their respective hallow safe and never to bring them together. Judith Walker is a keeper and she's noticed that, while the police and media aren't acknowledging it, the keepers are being killed one by one and she's number four...wait, sorry, wrong book.

Did I mention Judith Walker is 77? So, we start out with a 77 year old protagonist, and while I felt bad about it, I had a hard time with a 77 year old running around trying to solve a mystery. It just breaks all kinds of tension. It could have also been the fact that I was picturing a nonexistent walker. That really never helps.

Luckily, there are more people who get involved and Judith doesn't remain the main protag for very long.

So, why didn't I like The Thirteen Hallows?

It's pretty simple. The characters are pretty shoddy. They are stale and boring to be honest. There's nothing that makes you want to hang out with the leads, buy them a drink. They aren't even sympathetic. Sarah Miller is in her 20s and repressed by her parents, so she stays and continues to take it? No, I have no sympathy. Grow a pair.

And then the antagonists are just evil for evil's sake. They're killing children brutally (luckily we're saved from that description for the most part) and they revel in it, have sex in it. It was pretty disgusting actually. There's some attempt at explaining why they're that way, but I wasn't ever convinced.

I ended up sticking it out to the end, so The Thirteen Hallows wasn't terrible, it just wasn't good. Okay is really the best way to describe it. I really can't recommend wasting your time, there's too much out there that's really good.

2 out of 5 Stars (Just Okay)

Ps. If you were wondering, yes, The Thirteen Hallows does mention Harry Potter. Thought you were wondering. :)

Pps. No, it's not the same Michael Scott as you're thinking.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher

24 January, 2012

Epic Wheel of Time Giveaway #1: The Eye of the World

Just like I said a little while ago, we're going to be giving away each of the audiobooks leading up the release of A Memory of Light in November.

So, now's your chance to listen to the first book in The Wheel of Time, The Eye of the World.

This book is probably my favorite in the series. I just loved being introduced to all these new ideas and magical places and it was just as good in my "reread" on audio.

Kate Reading and Michael Kramer do an incredible job; they really bring the point of views to life.

Here's a clip to get you going:

Giveaway Rules

If you are interested in getting your hands on the The Eye of the World on audiobook, then follow the exceedingly simple instructions below.

E-mail me your name and address at onlythebestsff@[removethis]gmail.com, with "I've got something in my eye...of the world" as the subject of the email (or at least something that lets me know what the email is about). This goes without saying, but double emails get you disqualified.

Snarky comments increase your chances of winning and win bonus entries for future giveaways. I'm sorry to say this is open in the US only as long as delivery doesn't require the mounting of an expedition into remote wilderness.

23 January, 2012

Review - Perfect Shadow: A Night Angel Novella by Brent Weeks

Assassins going to assassinate people all assassin-like. Add crazy awesome magical abilities, immortality, love, shadows, betrayals, and constant action. You may just have Perfect Shadow: A Night Angel Novella [US] [UK Kindle] [Kindle - only $2.99].

I don't think I'd recommend diving into Perfect Shadow without having already read the rest of the Night Angel Trilogy, or at least the first book, The Way of Shadows. It's a great series especially if you want a book/series that's really hard to put down. With all its faults, it's so much fun.

If you haven't read the trilogy, or at least book one, then you may not want to read further...

Perfect Shadow takes us back in Durzo Blint's history. He's just around 700 years old, so he's got plenty to go around. We learn things not only from his distant past, but also how he got to where he is at the start of the main sequence, just before Kylar comes into the picture.

In a kind of Name of the Wind style (but a little more confusing), Durzo Blint, tells us his story as he sees it.

As I mentioned above, there's plenty of assassinining going on and a nice little plot with Momma K, to take out all the wetboys (super-assassins) in the city.

The writing isn't going to win any awards, but the action and imagination are what keep me coming back.

4 out of 5 Stars

20 January, 2012

Goals - Looking Ahead To 2012

As I've alluded to before, I will be revising my goals for this year. I still want to have some solid numbers, but nothing too much in stone. I obviously can't deal with that.

1. Read 50 Books

This is down from last year but only because I'll be taking the bar this summer. I'm giving myself a couple months break. I'll probably still be reading/posting through May/June/July (although I will probably cut down quite a bit) and maybe I'll change this number if it's too easy. I just don't want any pressure in any way whatsoever. This baby does not lend itself well to multiple takings.

2. Finish more than 2 series

I finished only two series last year and I really want to do better. Finish and then move on so I don't have to waste time figuring out what was going on before. Blogging has really taken a toll on my ability to stick with a series. It has nothing to do with how good the series is, only that there's always something new and shiny coming through the door that MUST be read before the series is completed. Luckily this is the year of series completions as you can see here.

Series I'm debating finishing given the mood: Malazan Book of the Fallen by Erikson (1 more), Shadow Saga by Sprunk (1 more), Macht by Kearney (1 more), John Cleaver by wells (2 more), Riyria Revelations by Sullivan (2 more omnibi), Dark Tower by King (4 more), Wheel of Time by Jordan/Sanderson (9 more - this will be a toughy).

Also, if you were curious, I've been keeping track of the series' I'm working through at my other blog. It's pretty ridiculous. I would really like to take some of these off the list.

3. Read more from my shelves

(This shelf is now 2 rows thick and piled to the top, one of many and all unread)

I have hundreds of books just sitting there on my shelves and plenty of completed-yet-unread trilogies (before I started my "Read one book before buying more to see if you actually like it" rule). Last year, only 10 of the 58 came from my shelves.

As I mentioned before, the new and shiny is so easy to jump into, but then I look at my shelves that are overflowing and see that none have been touched. Where did all my plans of reading go?

And that's it. Nothing too complicated, yet I think I'll have to stretch a bit to get to some of these. I want this year to be the year of finishing. Finishing series' I've been working on for years and moving on.

UPDATE: The Epic Wheel of Time Giveaway I said would start this week is having a couple of technical difficulties. We're still on for the giveaway, but it may not begin until next week seeing as how today is Friday.

18 January, 2012

Review - The World House by Guy Adams

I heard a lot of different things before I started The World House [US] [UK] [Kindle - only $2.99] by Guy Adams. Some good, some not so good, but mostly I heard that it was weird. Really, I have to admit that they were pretty much all right.

I had a hard time getting into this book. Well, maybe that's not exactly it. I got into it really easily, but then 80 or so pages in, it was hard to keep going.

There was a great mystery going on with this box and this weird house...and then there's character after character introduced and slowly I wasn't quite as interested. The mystery didn't matter quite as much with my growing frustration at the lack of plot movement.

Kinda like my relationship with the show Lost. I had to take a break around the middle of season two.

But then, and just like Lost, I got back into it and it was kinda good.

You see, there's this mysterious house that people keep showing up at and the only way they end up there is when they have contact with this box, except that they have to be in a life or death situation and suddenly they're transported to a house...that's trying to kill them at every turn.

There's more underlying mystery, but I don't want to spoil too much now do I?

So, we meet character after character, but once the house starts trying to kill them in unique and interesting ways, it was pretty fun.

For instance, there are stuffed animals (both toy and taxidermy) that come alive at "night", worms with jagged teeth, wraiths, oh my!

One of the coolest [possible spoiler, but only because this occurs later in the book] was an entire ocean in the bathroom and the accompanying way it tries to kill you.

The main problems I had were with some of the characters and dialogue. I'll tackle dialogue first. The dialogue killed a lot of the tension in many of the scenes. They would joke, and usually I'm fine with joking and breaking some tension (Jim Butcher does it fine), but this joking was just a bit too much in terms of quantity.

Now the characters. Without spoiling too much, obviously this book is hard to talk about without spoilers, the characters were often just caricatures of their time period. Tom, from the '20s, drove me nuts cat. Yes, he said "cat" every other word.

This is not to mention a couple more who just made no sense, like Pablo, who seemed to be there for comic effect even though he really wasn't funny.

I actually enjoyed the character of Sophie, who's a mentally challenged young girl who thinks in the oddest way comparing everything to what she sees as "Right" and "Wrong" and sometimes what's "Just Have To Do," which she doesn't really understand (I might have the quote wrong since I don't have the book right here with me while I write this).

And yet despite these problems I had, I'm really looking forward to the next book, The World House: Restoration. That could be because of the largish cliffhanger ending, but I also really started to like it by then too.

Adams' imagination is vast and demented and I love it. His characters need some work (not all of them), but they'll work for now if only to see what other craziness exists in this world.

3.5 out of 5 Stars (Really liked it)

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher

16 January, 2012

Review - The Great Bazaar and Other Stories (A Demon Cycle Novella) by Peter V. Brett

I probably don't need to mention this again, but I love the Demon Cycle by Peter Brett. It just gets me. It's not perfect, but there are so many great things about it that I can easily dismiss/overlook/completely ignore any shortcomings. I keep reading and I can't get enough.

Brett has created literary crack.

The Great Bazaar and Other Stories [US] [UK] [Kindle - only $4.99] takes place somewhere in the middle (time-wise) of The Warded Man, book one of the Demon Cycle. Our hero, Arlen Bales, is working as a messenger -those who brave the night and accompanying demons to bring messages to different towns. Brett explains in the introduction that this was a hugely fertile ground for stories that were mostly skipped over in the main sequence of novels because they would have taken a toll on the timing and pace.

Let me just say that I greatly appreciate authors who do this, streamlining the main sequence and releasing other stories, less important stories, that fans will read anyway, but that drag down an otherwise excellent book. Something I wish other authors would replicate...*looks to Erikson*.

So what's included in The Great Bazaar and Other Stories you may ask. Well, let me tell you...

The Great Bazaar is the main bulk of this book, as you can imagine, but also included are deleted scenes (one of which was the original beginning written for a writing class project), a Krasian Dictionary, and a Ward Grimoire.

The Great Bazaar is an excellent story of one of Arlen's visits to Krasia. Having already built up a name for himself as the only non-Krasian to enter alagai'sharak, the Krasian's nightly fight against the demons, Arlen learns of places that haven't been visited in ages, but which are supposed to contain many riches.

Sadly, they neglected to mention the clay demons, against which Arlen had no protecting wards. The Great Bazaar also delves into Arlen's relationship with the kaffit (essentially means coward), Abban, who helps Arlen out in The Warded Man.

The Krasians are a very interesting, hardly putting any value in anyone who can't fight, which means women and the weak are not much thought of. While I loved the action and adventure that was Arlen's trek through the desert, my favorite parts were probably in the bazaar where a former warrior picks a fight with Abban and Arlen.

I have to say I enjoyed The Great Bazaar more even more than I did Brayan's Gold. While Brayan's Gold was high in action, there wasn't a whole lot of incite into the story, Brett's intention being only to showcase Snow demons and that's about it. Go read it, it's great.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

13 January, 2012

It's News To Me - The Kitchies and Final Cover for Shadow's Master by Jon Sprunk

If you were wondering, yes, I do randomly call some news "It's News To Me" and other news whatever that happens to be. I guess some is news for everyone and some just for me. That's the extent of an explanation I can give. :)

The Kitschies: The finalists for the Kitschies have been announced, so check out Pornokitsch.com right now. I can't think of a better award than multiple colored tentacles. Also, here's an interview with the Pornokitsch editors at Staffer's Musings.

Shadow's Master: The final volume in the Shadow Saga by Jon Sprunk gets a new cover. Disregard the cover I posted yesterday.

12 January, 2012

2011 Stats and Books I'm Looking Forward To

In my continuing series of posts concluding 2011 about goals/top reads/etc., I thought I'd put together some stats as well. I still have a goals post for 2012 under my sleeve, but it won't be much so don't get your hopes up too high. :)

Books read: 58 (5 books more than last year, and goodreads says )
Audiobooks: 7
Fantasy: 29
Science Fiction: 6 (Need to work on this one)
Urban Fantasy: 6
First in a Series (Series started this year): 13
Continuing a Series (Books in a series read other than first book): 12
Series Finished: 2
Small Press: 9
Authors New To Me: 33

I'd really like to do better in the science fiction category, although Alec does a good job in that area as far as the blog goes. I own some Reynolds and Hamilton so I think I'll start there.

Looking Forward to 2012 Books:
(I've also included where I am in the series in [brackets])

Orb, Sceptre, Throne by Iain C. Esslemont (Malazan Empire Book 4) - January (UK), May (US)
[Read books 1, 2]
Darujhistan, city of dreams, city of blue flames, is peaceful at last; its citizens free to return to politicking, bickering, trading and, above all, enjoying the good things in life. Yet there are those who will not allow the past to remain buried. A scholar digging in the plains stumbles across an ancient sealed vault. The merchant Humble Measure schemes to drive out the remaining Malazan invaders. And the surviving agents of a long-lost power are stirring, for they sense change and so, opportunity. While, as ever at the centre of everything, a thief in a red waistcoat and of rotund proportions walks the streets, juggling in one hand custard pastries, and in the other the fate of the city itself.

Far to the south, fragments of the titanic Moon's Spawn have crashed into the Rivan Sea creating a series of isles... and a fortune hunter's dream. A Malazan veteran calling himself 'Red' ventures out to try his luck -- and perhaps say goodbye to old friends. But there he finds far more than he'd bargained for as the rush to claim the Spawn's treasures descends into a mad scramble of chaos and bloodshed. For powers from across the world have gathered here, searching for the legendary Throne of Night. The impact of these events are far reaching, it seems. On an unremarkable island off the coast of Genabackis, a people who had turned their backs upon all such strivings now lift their masked faces towards the mainland and recall the ancient prophesy of a return.

And what about the ex-Claw of the Malazan Empire who now walks the uttermost edge of creation? His mission -- the success or failure of which the Queen of Dreams saw long ago -- is destined to shape far more than anyone could have ever imagined.

Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan (Riyria Revelations ominbus 3 and conclusion) - January
[Read omnibus 1]
The New Empire intends to mark its victory over the Nationalists with a bloody celebration. On the high holiday of Wintertide, the Witch of Melengar will be burned and the Heir of Novron executed. On that same day the Empress faces a forced marriage, with a fatal accident soon follow. The New Empire is confident in the totality of its triumph but there's just one problem-Royce and Hadrian have finally found the true Heir of Novron---and they have their own holiday plans. When author Michael J. Sullivan self-published the first books of his Riyria Revelations series online, they rapidly became ebook bestsellers. Now, Orbit is pleased to present the complete series for the first time in bookstores everywhere. Heir of Novron is the final volume of The Riyria Revelations and includes "Wintertide" and ---available for the first time--- the final volume, "Percepliquis." BOOKS IN THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS Theft of Swords (The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha) Rise of Empire (Nyphron Rising & The Emerald Storm) Heir of Novron (Wintertide & Percepliquis)

Shadow's Master by Jon Sprunk (Shadow Saga book 3 and conclusion) - March
[Read books 1, 2 - caught up]
The northern wastes. . . .
A land of death and shadow where only the strongest survive. Yet that is where Caim must go to follow the mystery at the heart of his life. Armed only with his knives and his companions, he plunges into a world of eternal night where the sun is never seen and every hand is turned against him.
Caim has buried his father’s sword and found some measure of peace, but deep in the north an unfathomable power lays waiting. To succeed on this mission, Caim will have to more than just survive. He must face the Shadow’s Master.

The Kings of the Morning by Paul Kearney (Macht Trilogy book 3) - March
[Read books 1, 2 - caught up]
For the first time in recorded history, the ferocious city-states of the Macht now acknowledge a single man as their overlord. Corvus, the strange and brilliant boy-general, is now High King, having united his people in a fearsome, bloody series of battles and sieges. He is not yet thirty years old.

A generation ago, ten thousand of the Macht marched into the heart of the ancient Asurian Empire, and then fought their way back out again, passing into legend. It has been the enduring myth of Corvus' life, for his father was one of those who undertook that march, and his most trusted general, Rictus, was leader of those ten thousand. But he intends to do more. The preparations will take years, but when they are complete, Corvus will lead an invasion the like of which the world of Kuf has never seen. Under him, the Macht will undertake nothing less than the overthrow of the entire Asurian Empire.

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (Broken Empire book 2) - August
[Read book 1 - caught up]
The Broken Empire burns with the fires of a hundred battles as lords and petty kings battle for the all-throne. The long road to avenge the slaughter of his mother and brother has shown Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath the hidden hands behind this endless war. He saw the game and vowed to sweep the board. First though he must gather his own pieces, learn the rules of play, and discover how to break them.

A six nation army, twenty thousand strong, marches toward Jorg's gates, led by a champion beloved of the people. Every decent man prays this shining hero will unite the empire and heal its wounds. Every omen says he will. Every good king knows to bend the knee in the face of overwhelming odds, if only to save their people and their lands. But King Jorg is not a good king.

Faced by an enemy many times his strength Jorg knows that he cannot win a fair fight. But playing fair was never part of Jorg’s game plan.

Forge of Darkness by Stephen Erikson (Kharkanas Trilogy book 1) - August
[Read Malazan books 1-9]
No blurbage, but it's Malazan, so that's really all you need to know.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch (Gentlemen Bastards book 3) - October (UK), Unknown (US)
[Read book 1]
Having pulled off the greatest heist of their career, Locke and his trusted partner in thievery, Jean, have escaped with a tidy fortune. But Locke's body is paying the price. Poisoned by an enemy from his past, he is slowly dying. And no physiker or alchemist can help him. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmagi offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him - or finish him off once and for all.

Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body - though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean's imploring - and the Bondsmagi's mention of a woman from Locke's past . . . Sabetha. The love of his life. His equal in skill and wit. And now his greatest rival.

Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow-orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha - or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (WoT book 14 and conclusion) - November
[Read books 1-5]
No blurbage here either, but again, it's Wheel of Time and a conclusion, this has been a long time coming. I need to get back to my reread.

Not only do we get some great conclusions this year, but some new books in series that I love. Now if I could just catch up in time.

11 January, 2012

Review - Draculas by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand, and F. Paul Wilson

The author, Joe Konrath (aka Jack Kilborn), writes in the introduction to Draculas that this is an attempt to make vampires scary again. As he explains, "There are no sexy teen heartthrobs herein." This had me salivating. I'm a sucker for a scary vampire.

Draculas [US] [UK] [Kindle - Free!!] begins with a pretty simple story premise - there's a skull found in Romania that the insanely rich, but dying Mortimer Moorcoock buys for a small fortune. Upon receiving the skull, which is very close to being human except it is filled with huge fangs, he proceeds to bite himself with the skull.

He is taken to the hospital...and all hell breaks lose.

You might be wary of a book with four different authors, and you would be right to question this, but it's amazingly seamless. I'm not an expert by any means, but I couldn't tell you when there was a switch in writers.

Because there's not much to the plot, I won't go into too much detail there, I just want to explain a couple things I thought were interesting and unique to these authors' take on vampires.

These vampires are scary as hell. They have more fangs than your average vamp. and superhuman strength to go along with it. In addition, they also have the ability to think rationally, the only problem is that they have an insane thirst that makes them go crazy for blood and do anything to get it.

This aspect had me sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time. While some Draculas, as the characters refer to them, don't think outside the blood (hehe), but others are a little more patient and cunning when it comes to tracking their prey. What are the authors trying to do to me here, give me a heart attack?

Then there's the characters. Not only did I love those trying to escape the Draculas, but we even see the point of views of some of the Draculas themselves. Of course they're pretty focused on BLOODBLOODBLOODBLOOD, but it shows their rational sides as well as they track our favorites (and not so favorites).

My favorite Draculas had to be one, the clown. Every time I read, "Squeak, squeak, squeak." I was terrified. And two, the little girl, who just wants some red candy. It's sick, but I couldn't help but kinda root for her, at least against the adult Draculas.

If I haven't yet convinced you to start, Draculas, it's the best horror novel I've ever read. It's full of violence and gore aplenty, so beware, but it's also full of great characters and situations that had me reading until late in the night multiple times. And I was on a cruise while I read this. I still couldn't put it down.

5 out of 5 Stars

Note on the eBook version: This book actually ends at the 50% mark. I was a little confused with the climax was happening around 45%, I wondered what the heck they were going to do for the rest of the book.

The authors include a lot of extras, including three short stories, which are collaborations between pairs of the authors, previews of all the authors work, and an interview where the authors interview themselves and talk about writing a book with four authors. It's pretty interesting.

Ps. Here's a great/hilarious review and the reason why I picked this book up in the first place.

10 January, 2012

Exciting News - Epic Wheel of Time Giveaway

I was way too excited about this, I had to share immediately.

I just talked to a publicist at Macmillan Audio (I don't know whether she wants her name here, so I'll leave it at that) and we are going to host a giveaway for each of the audiobooks of the Wheel of Time leading up to the publication of A Memory of Light in November (not including A Memory of Light or New Spring).

(and The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight, minus New Spring)

These are amazingly well done, read by Kate Reading and Michael Cramer, and I think it's the perfect way to do a reread.

(My collection)

We'll start next week and hold a giveaway every few weeks until the final volume comes out in November. Anyone excited?

Goals - Looking Back at 2011

This is the update post looking back at 2011 goals and later this week I'll put up my goals for this year. I didn't do the best this year at achieving my goals, so I'll be doing things a little different this year.

In bold are the goals from last year, followed by a non-bold number or update on the goal and then some thoughts.

Read 60 books in 2011 - 58 (not completed)

To be honest, I didn't think I could even get this close. I'm actually pretty proud of this. I projected 5 books a month, but then I started reading some rather long books and that set me back a bit. To compensate, I cheated a bit by throwing in some novellas at the end, but what with the couple thousand-pagers I read throughout the year, I don't feel too bad. :)

Read at least two of these authors (Tad Williams, Stephen R. Donaldson, Glen Cook) - Songs of the Dying Earth (completed)

This was a bit of a cop-out since all three authors wrote short stories in Songs of the Dying Earth, but then again, I didn't specify. :)

Read one of these books by Melanie Rawn (The Golden Key, Stronghold) - Neither read. (not completed)

I read a page or two of The Golden Key, but got side-tracked and didn't pick it up again. Whoops.

Read at least one of these trilogies (Coldfire, Rai Kirah) - Neither read. (not completed)

Yep, almost started Rai Kirah by Carol Berg, but no dice.

Read further in the Dark Tower series - The Drawing of the Three and The Wastelands (completed)

My goal was only to read one more and I read two. I'm excited to get back into this series and hopefully finish it this year.

Read further in the Dresden Files - Summer Knight, Book 4 (completed)

Yay, I need to get some more read this year. Great series.

Added Goal:
Finish the Malazan Book of the Fallen series - Dust of Dreams, Book 9 (not completed)

I thought I could finish the series, but I just didn't get there. I better read The Crippled God before the new Forge of Darkness (Kharkanas book 1) comes out this year.

Final Thoughts:

Out of 7 goals, I only completed 3, although I was very close with completing my 60 books goal. I'm not too proud of this, but it's caused me to rethink how I make my goals.

I've learned I don't do well with a set list of books I have to read. For some reason being locked into certain books gives me absolutely no desire to read them, so I won't be doing that again.

Here's to 2012, Happy New Year!

09 January, 2012

Review - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I always have a hard time reviewing the "classics." Not so much because I don't have anything new to say - I have my own impressions at least - but more because what if I didn't like it? Does that make me poorly read or did I just not get what everyone else got? There's a very good chance of the latter no matter what I'm reading, let's be honest.

But that's not that I didn't like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I really enjoyed it, but I didn't love it as I thought I would.

What sucked me into reading this book was the writing. Lewis Carroll takes everything from Alice's perspective, her very young perspective. And it's hilarious. The way she sees things is just like you would picture in a child. She looks at everything the way she's learned, but also according to how she's put things together in her young life.

Then, she also rambles and ends up on tangents that had me chuckling. You ever start thinking of one thing and suddenly you're at a whole new place and you have no idea how you got there and you can't help but laugh out loud? And then other people look at you weird. It's like that.

I do the same, as I'm sure many others do.

I'm sure you know the story, I won't bore you with the details, but there are some differences from the movie(s)...at least I think. I better not say what I think they are before I watch the movie again. :) Here's some blurbage:
Weary of her storybook, one "without pictures or conversations," the young and imaginitive[sic] Alice follows a hasty hare underground -- to come face-to-face with some of the strangest adventures and most fantastic characters in all of literature. The Ugly Duchess, the Mad Hatter, the weeping Mock Turtle, the diabolical Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat -- each more eccentric than the last -- could only have come from that master of sublime nonsense, Lewis Carroll. In penning this brilliant burlesque of children's literature, this farcical satire of rigid Victorian society, this arresting parody of the fears, anxieties, and complexities of growing up, Carroll was one of the few adult writers to enter successfully the children's world of make-believe, where the impossible becomes possible, the unreal, real, and where the heights of adventure are limited only by the depths of imagination.

I think the thing that brought this book down a peg or two for me was the ending. That's right the ending. Skip this paragraph if you don't wanna go there. But come on Carroll. Really? It was all a dream. I've heard that one before - I'm looking at you Oz.

Also Tweedledee and Tweedledum don't appear in this one, I'm guessing they do in Through the Looking Glass, the sequel. I was a bit disappointed when I didn't see them, but I'm now looking forward to Looking Glass.

Overall this was a highly enjoyable book and at only 93 pages (and free on Kindle), it's worth a go. Come on, it's a classic.

3.5 out of 5 Stars

Ps. I have yet to read Through the Looking Glass, but it's on my Kindle and ready whenever the mood strikes.

05 January, 2012

The Kindle Conundrum

I love my Kindle. It gets me books on the fly, wherever I am, and is actually starting to generate some fairly good recommendations. But there is a problem, and its a big one.

Page numbers. When you hold a dusty old paperback, that relic of a previous age, you feel its weight, you fold its pages (I do at least), and you have a very good idea of how close to the end of it you are. You can't help but realize that the story is about to end. The bittersweet sense of ending that comes with those final few chapters always heightens the denouement. Bibliophiles of all sorts manage their expectations and readjust their predictions when entering the homestretch. This hard learned skill, which comes with years of reading, doesn't work with the Kindle.

Case in point, I was reading Leviathan Wakes (at 48% completion on the Kindle when the book ended. That made me mad. To be fair it felt like an ending but I didn't know it was the ending. I wasn't ready for it. I was expecting another 52% of adventure and intrigue. Instead I got a second book I had absolutely no interest in. This made me even more mad.

I don't mind moving from paper to digital. For me it makes a lot of sense. Lower costs and fewer bookshelves are big advantages of the digital revolution. Well, perhaps not costs. If you read spec fic most of the hot items are at a premium, but that is a conversation for another day. After I go buy a pitchfork or two. 

Back to premature endings. I hate them. I hate endings to start with, but with the knowledge that they are coming, I can get myself ready. In the words of a somewhat popular television show, I can "brace for impact". Not so with the Kindle. With the Kindle the ending is thrust upon me without warning or explanation because some industrious publisher thinks that giving me a free book (the first book in a 5 part series I might add) makes good business sense. And maybe it does. But it also destroys the illusion that what I am reading is an old-fashioned book. And I like my illusions.

Hear me o Kindle gods and place dividers in your books so that your endings are no longer premature. No one likes premature endings. 

04 January, 2012

Quick Update

Hope you have enjoyed the posts the last few weeks. I just got back from a cruise down to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and La Paz, Mexico. Yeah, life has been rough, I've been in a food coma for a solid week.

Anyway, I finished a number of books, so I'll have reviews up soon. Plus, I'll be reviewing my goals from last year and add some new goals for this year...ones that aren't nearly as constraining.

Oh, and lastly, we're going to be starting a challenge soon dealing with judging a book by its cover. It'll be good.

02 January, 2012

Review - Tisarian's Treasure by J. M. Martin

Pyr author Jon Sprunk (SHADOW’S SON, SHADOW’S LURE) says, “Martin weaves a breath-taking tale of pirates, treasure, sorcery, and uncommon bravery. Here is a yarn from a true storyteller, rife with traditional fantasy influences. I couldn’t put it down.”

Tisarian's Treasure [US] [UK] [Kindle - only $0.99] is a rip-roarin' pirate's tale along the lines of one of my all-time favorites from Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island.

I met the author through Goodreads and while I usually don't get books from that outlet, he was never pushy and actually shared a lot of good recommendations with me, so I decided to give it a try.

The beginning was a little difficult to get into, since there are lots of characters to introduce, but once it gets going, it's a stellar read. I couldn't put it down.

The most feared pirate on the seas, Thadieus Drake, has tracked our protagonist Doctor Alex Mallory and his mysterious companion to an island and through the jungle, seeking the fabled treasure.

Filled with romance, action, twists and turns, and a surprising ending, Tisarian's Treasure is a wonderful novella and Highly Recommended.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher