21 May, 2015

Review - Superposition by David Walton

For some reason I'm always impressed when something both entertains me and educates me. It's as if all those years of torture schooling gave me unreasonable expectations.

But that is the case here. David Walton's Superposition is a fun romp through quantum physics. Jacob Kelly is a brilliant physicist who is confronted by an old friend who pretty much destroys his life.

His old friend has some secrets, mostly involving his scientific research and he arrives at Jacob's house, uninvited, and points a gun at Jacob's wife. He shoots, but nothing happens to her. He's discovered something big, but this discovery ends up with Jacob on trial for murder.

The whole book switches back and forth between two viewpoints. One is the present time where Jacob is figuring out the mysteries surrounding his friend's odd behavior, the other time period is Jacob on trial for the murder of that same friend. All of this is told in the first person.

As an attorney, I was actually quite impressed with Walton's grasp of the courtroom. I spend quite a bit of time there and just ask my wife, she can't stand watching shows with any amount of court. But I can't help it, the stuff Hollywood does in a courtroom tends to make no sense at least half the time.

Walton does a great job, however, making the courtroom both realistic and entertaining, which is why Hollywood tends to not follow the realistic approach I'm lead to believe. And the worst part is, the District Attorney has a pretty great case against Jacob only made worse by the fact that the real explanation is absolutely ludicrous.

Throughout the entirety of the book, you're also learning a lot about how quantum physics work. How probability plays more of a role than just about anything and how that is just about impossible to wrap your mind around because how can probability have anything to do with things that exist!

And that's not to say the narrative gets bogged down in explanations, it's a smooth thriller and the science only adds to the wonder.

I quite thoroughly enjoyed Superposition and probably mostly for how much I get to bug people with my new found knowledge of particle physics. It's a fascinating concept on display in an entertaining read. Highly Recommended. The finale of this duology, Supersymmetry, comes out September 1, 2015 from Pyr.

4 out of 5 Stars.

19 May, 2015

Giveaway - Trial of Intentions (Vault of Heaven #2) by Peter Orullian

Somehow I ended up with an extra copy of Peter Orullian's Trial of Intentions. While technically book two of the Vault of Heaven series (preceded by The Unremembered), the author tells us Trial can be read on it's own.

I really enjoyed The Unremembered, perhaps because of the similarities to the Wheel of Time, but the characters are also all their own. This is one hefty book, but since it's me running the giveaway on my own, I'll open this one up internationally.

The rules for those who want to enter for their chance to win one copy of Peter Orullian's Trial of Intentions:

1 - Send me an email to onlythebestsff@[remove this]gmail.com with your name and address.
2 - Enter the subject, "Emails of Intentions" which is my book where I have so many intentions of getting back with people and don't. I can't say I recommend reading it.
3 - This is an international giveaway, so ... no aliens from outer space I guess.
4 - Snark increases chances of winning future giveaways! I know I'm terrible, but how can I know how terrible I am? This is how.

01 May, 2015

Review - The Vagrant by Peter Newman

I actually accepted a copy of The Vagrant from the publisher knowing just about nothing about the book. The synopsis coupled with an intriguing, if somewhat cliche, cover (but wait, a baby?!?) sold me alone. This doesn't happen all the time and usually when this is all that sells me on a book, I end up about as disappointed as you can get. 

That's why I scour blogs and Goodreads so regularly. I can't trust my gut reaction on these things...normally.

The Vagrant is a hard book to nail down. It involves a mysterious man, the Vagrant, who can't speak and who's on some kind of pilgrimage with a baby in tow as well as a goat he picks up. He carries a huge, mythical sword and it seems like he's trying to save the world or some such thing.

Right away, you're thinking, epic fantasy right?

Well, that's not quite it. It obviously also takes place in some type of futuristic landscape because there are neon lights and all kinds of other technologies the reader begins to meet along the way.

The closest I can put it is probably Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire series. A good mix of fantasy and science fiction and lots of dark, unspeakable doings. I think I can firmly put it in grimdark at the very least ... whatever that means.

In a book where the main character can't speak, I'm quite impressed at the degree of emotions I felt, almost on par with Janny Wurts, who really gets the feels out of me. 

The Vagrant, as mentioned, is on a quest and many are out to stop him. Demons have taken over the land, corrupted the people with a taint, though not all, and submitted humanity to their wills. 

With their own factions vying for power, the demons have different ways of subjugating humanity. However, they end up hurting their cause with all the infighting. Filled with grotesque monsters, one which has literally built itself out of masses of dead humans, The Vagrant is dark and twisted and make for excellent juxtaposition of the goodness of The Vagrant and those who follow in his wake.

The novel itself is broken into chapters with interludes going back to the beginning of the demon infestation, starting with "Eight Years Ago" and moving up to the present. One of the things that threw me for a bit was during these sections, the action would go back to the present without a chapter break in between. This only happened a few times and I found myself wondering if it was an accident. It's not a huge deal, just an odd thing I wanted to discuss with anyone who's read it.

Though dark, more likely because of the dark, The Vagrant emphasizes the light. The emotions were deep, I was amazed how deeply I felt for this character who can't even speak. And then there's the goat, who also can't speak (he's not some magic goat, just a run-of-the-mill one) which was probably one of my favorite characters in this book.

I can't recommend The Vagrant enough. It's different than anything else I've read. It's dark and brooding, but filled with so much beauty at the same time. Peter Newman is an author to watch.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (very highly recommended)