Sunday, November 3, 2013

2013 British Fantasy Awards Winners

I've read Mieville and Abercrombie's offerings. Railsea was unique memorable, Red Country was fun but more of the same. I hope I get a chance to sample the winning novel and the other nominees.

Announcing the 2013 British Fantasy Awards Winners | The 2013 British Fantasy Awards were presented today at the Brighton World Fantasy convention. Nominees in each category were decided by a vote of the members of the British Fantasy Society and the attendees of FantasyCon 2012. Congratualtions to all the nominees and winners.
British Fantasy Special Award:
Iain M. Banks
Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award)
Winner: Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)
Blood and Feathers, Lou Morgan (Solaris)
The Brides of Rollrock Island, Margo Lanagan (David Fickling Books)
Railsea, China Mi�ville (Macmillan)
Red Country, Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver

signalandnoiseI read The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't over the summer (July). I don't read much non-fiction and this one was somewhat palatable. The book was populated with many charts and it was a bit of a challenge to read on a tablet. E-book apps are only just getting to the point where reading graphic-rich apps are feasible. Footnotes are also problematic.

Silver's main thrust is that the kind of statistical modelling the general public is often exposed to suffers from poorly understood raw data being run through overly idealized models. Nate Silver, again and again, using examples from weather, climate, earthquake, politics, and gambling, shows that many popular statistical techniques are seriously flawed. He believes that the Bayesian modelling technique, which incrementally changes probabilities based on prior data, is a superior approach that should be used more often.

I chose this book because I was impressed with Nate's political predictions on I came away a little less impressed after reading the book.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers

HideMeAmongTheGravesHide Me Among the Graves (2012) is a great take on vampires set in a very believable mid-19th century England. While not necessarily a sequel, it would be a good idea to read The Stress of Her Regard (1989) first. Set in the early 29 century, it shares the same alternate history with a slightly different viewpoint (and a much younger author).

Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis

necessary evilNec­es­sary Evil is the conclusion to Ian Tregillis’s Milkweed Triptych. The al­ter­nate-his­tory World War 2 series concludes with an alternate-alternate history where warlocks and superheroes meet in a final showdown. The action is fast paced and Tregillis skillfully ties up all plot lines with a neat and satisfying ending.

A great joy to read.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Codex Born by Jim C. Hines

codex bornCodex Born is the second book of the Magic Ex Libris series, a successful sequel to Libriomancer. The book hits all the marks: sound character development progressing from the first book, fast paced action with enough grit to keep it interesting without getting gory.

The world building is on an as-needed basis. This looks like the beginning of a long series and, given the quality of the writing, I'm hoping for a long run.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ex-Communication by Peter Clines

Ex-CommunicationFinished Ex-Communication by Peter Clines. A great continuation of the series. Zombies, superheroes, and zombie-superheroes... this series can do no wrong. Continuing characters are well developed and go through real changes; Clines is not afraid to break some eggs to make the omelet.

Looking forward to a fourth and fifth book in the series. If you haven't read the first two books (Ex-Heroes, and Ex-Patriots) in the series you'll probably still enjoy this book, but whats the point? The first two books are great.

From the author:
Three books in, and peo­ple are still in­ter­ested in a hand­ful of su­per­heroes I made up in fifth grade. This is a source of con­stant amaze­ment to me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wicked Bronze Ambition by Glen Cook

bronze ambitionFinished by Wicked Bronze Ambition by Glen Cook. A decent enough continuation of the series (14th book in the series) with the participation of all the (surviving) characters from previous books. Garrett P.I. is getting older and TunFaire is becoming a more law-abiding city but there is still room for some adventure.

Not crazy about the super-short chapter format, especially when continuing scenes are split for no apparent reason.

Monday, September 2, 2013

2013 Hugo Award Winner - Redshirts

Definitely deserved the win. Funny and poignant.

2013 Hugo Award Winners | The Hugo Awards: BEST NOVEL

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi (Tor)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Judgement Night (Bureau 13 vol 1) by Nick Pollotta

Judgement Night I enjoyed Judgement Night much more than the first Pollotta book I tried. Bureau 13 is a secret American organization that handles Alien and Occult threats to the the world. The action is fast paced.

The first book I tried, Illegal Aliens, is widely touted as one of Pollotta's best (and best known) forays into the sci-fi/fantasy-humour genre. The plot was intriguing and the choice of characters was inspiring. The humor, however, was overly over the top. I have never experienced anything so baldly hacky before.

Bureau 13 was toned down enough for me to appreciate the hyperbole.

Pollotta was a very prolific author, often writing under the pseudonyms James Axler and Don Pendleton.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Announcing the 2013 Locus Award Winners! |

Announcing the 2013 Locus Award Winners! | The winners of the 2013 Locus Awards were announced today at the annual Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Wertzone: RIVERS OF LONDON optioned for TV

The Wertzone: RIVERS OF LONDON optioned for TV: Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London books have been optioned for TV. Feel Films has picked up the rights, possibly with a view to producing in cooperation with one of the main British TV networks.

This would make a great TV series. Great characters and the supernatural aspects can be handled easily with practical effects (no CGI).

Saturday, June 15, 2013

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

2312 An interesting vision of future Earth and the solar system populated by genetically modified humans. Terraforming planets, moons, and asteroids and artificial intelligence are also explored in the book.

While the book has been lauded by the critics and won many awards, I found the plot sluggish. What conflict there was seemed unimportant to character development (if there was any).

There were a great many cool ideas but there was no adventure.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

London Falling by Paul Cornell

London FallingI really enjoyed this new British urban fantasy offering. The gritty realism of the police protagonists is strongly reminiscent of the style of British police procedurals that began with the BBC classic The Sweeney.

The slow start to the story focused on world building and the introduction of the protagonists. They are flawed and do not exhibit any extraordinary talents. This sets the table for a gritty story more often found in the horror genre.

I like the banter among the team mates. It is often witty without sounding forced.

The West Ham football club details add verisimilitude, but I dislike English soccer because its so historically deep and jock heavy. Its NFL fanaticism to the nth power.
Decades ago, these characters were first created for a television series pitch overseen by the tremendous talents of Steven Moffat and Beryl and Sue Vertue. The story has changed out of all recognition since those days, but their support and encouragement remain, and I owe them many thanks.
Haha! I knew it.
‘Good. It is time that defines whether something is real or not. Time is what makes what people experience a tragedy or a love story or a triumph. Hell is where time has stopped, where there’s no more innovation. No horizon. No change. I sometimes think Hell would suit the British down to the ground, and that, given the chance, they’d vote for it. You’d better make sure they never get the chance, eh?’
A little bit of politics never hurts.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Science Fiction Pioneer and Grand Master Jack Vance, 1916-2013 |

Science Fiction Pioneer and Grand Master Jack Vance, 1916-2013 | In his long and prolific career, Vance won many awards and accolades, including the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and inspired countless readers and fellow writers with his work in fantasy, science fiction, and mystery.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Meet Earl, the Back-Country Android Tablet With a 6" E-ink Screen - The Digital Reader

Meet Earl, the Back-Country Android Tablet With a 6" E-ink Screen - The Digital Reader
the screen on the Earl is flexible, making it much more likely to survive rough treatment. This screen is also equipped with a frontlight and a glove/pointer friendly IR touchscreen.

And that’s not all. Earl can also double as a weather station – and then some. It’s equipped with a magnetometer, thermometer, barometer, humidity sensor, and an anemometer. Other sensors include GLONASS, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and an IR blaster for communicating with other gadgets.

Plus it can recharge itself with the solar panel conveniently mounted on the back.
This tablet is awesome.

I'm on my second tablet and I'm a bit disappointed by how fragile they feel. My first e-reader, the eBookwise, had a rugged form factor that I miss. My third tablet will probably be something like the Earl. Even the lanyard makes sense.

Illegal Aliens by Nick Pollotta and Phil Foglio

This is a disappointing example of humor in sci-fi and fantasy. The jokes are ham-fisted and the characters are two-dimensional. Everything is taken to the extreme of absurdity but there is no serious character or world building as a starting point so the humor falls flat.
It was horrible. It was madness. It was WAR! Worse, it was like an E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith space battle—only more so.
Satire can be a great deal of fun and a good way to deliver a message. Pollotta sets up and knocks down as many sci-fi tropes as he can fit onto a page. The problem is that he goes for quantity over quality.

Harry Harrison did the same kind of absurdist satire of sci-fi with his Bil the Galactic Hero series. Harrison was successful because he created a protagonist that we cared about despite many repulsive character flaws. All of the characters in Illegal Aliens are throw-away sock puppets for hack jokes and send ups of standard sci-fi themes.

I'm a big fan of humor in sci-fi and fantasy so I'm going to give his work another chance with the Bureau 13 series.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Killing Moon by N K Jemisin

Killing MoonIt took a while to finish The Killing Moon by NK Jemisin.

The magic system was interesting but not particularly fleshed out. One draws lifeforce energy from dreamspace or somesuch. The addition of magic stones from the sky was a sour note but the religious aspect was well thought out. The Egyptian parallels were well done but maybe overly researched at the cost of creating characters we cared about. The homosexual and slightly pedophilic undertones were uncomfortable but probably historically accurate.

The book has garnered a great deal of praise in the book world so I'm likely going to keep reading the series.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The 2013 Locus Award Finalists |

The 2013 Locus Award Finalists | The Locus Science Fiction Foundation realeased the finalists for the 2013 Locus Awards. Winners will be announced during the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle WA, June 28-30, 2013.

  • The Hydrogen Sonata, Iain M. Banks (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
  • Caliban’s War, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Redshirts, John Scalzi (Tor; Gollancz)
  • The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc)
  • Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
  • Hide Me Among the Graves, Tim Powers (Morrow; Corvus)
  • The Apocalypse Codex, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
  • The Drowned Cities, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown; Atom)
  • Pirate Cinema, Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen)
  • Railsea, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan)
  • Dodger, Terry Pratchett (Harper; Doubleday UK)
  • The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. Valente (Feiwel and Friends; Much-in-Little ’13)

My picks in bold.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

14 by Peter Clines

Peter Clines said he took some time off from writing about superheroes and zombies to try something a little different. Good choice. 14 is a great sci-fi/horror novel. By the time the monsters come out of the proverbial closet we have a cast of believable characters whose fate we care about.

Clines is the poster boy for authors who has come out of the self-publishing world to become a success. I look forward to reading the next books in his zombie apocalypse series Ex-Communication and Ex-Purgatory (2013) and hope he continues to offer more standalone novels.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Libriomancer by Jim Hines

LibriomancerI really enjoyed Libriomancer. Its the first book in a new Urban Fantasy series. The magical system is based on pulling objects out of books. This leads to a healthy amount of fan service for sci-fi/fantasy fans. Throw in some vampires and golems (and a cute spider sidekick) and you have a fun series. The characters are well crafted and the action scales with the more we know about the world created.

The book pays tribute to the genre, but stands on it own. Well worth the read and looking forward to the next book in the series.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Might Be The Highest Form of Literature on the Planet |

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Might Be The Highest Form of Literature on the Planet |

Here’s the core of my argument, then. Pratchett isn’t just funny, Pratchett is transcendent. There are lots of funny writers. Some are hilarious. A few are good at making you think at the same time. But most humorists, while brilliant, have trouble with story. If I put their book down, I remember the laughter, but feel no urgency to return. Those narratives don’t get their hooks in me—they don’t have that pull, like gravity, that a good plot builds. In short, they don’t make me think—bleary-eyed at 3:00 a.m.—that I need to read one more chapter.

Pratchett, on the other hand, routinely makes me lose sleep.

Couldn't agree more.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Caliban's War by James S A Corey

Calibans WarCaliban's War is the second book in the Expanse series. I really enjoyed the first book, Leviathan Wakes. It combined classic space opera adventure with some cool zombie horror themes. Characters were well developed and not 'series safe'.

The sequel is a logical continuation of the first book. picking up the story a year later. With the introduction of more fascinating characters we have a book that is just as gripping as the first.

The cliffhanger tease for the third book was a real kick. Can't wait for the third book.

Friday, April 12, 2013

No Hero by Jonathan Wood

No Hero Combining Urban Fantasy with Police Procedural should be pretty much a no-brainer for a competent author and this is what we have with No Hero by Jonathan Wood. A middle aged police detective switches careers and joins British super-secret agency that deals with horrors from another dimension.

In the end it is a fairly good read but not nearly as good as Charles Stross's Laundry series, nor Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London. The characters are a bit lightly sketched out and the action is predictable, though entertainingly gory.

I'd recommend reading it if you love the cross-genre and have read the top-tier stuff.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi

Fractal PrinceThis is the sequel to The Quantum Thief. We learn more about the fate of the Earth and the nature of the politics among the most powerful beings created by the virtualization of life. This is what happens post-Singularity.

Keeping track of the stories and what kind of virtuality/reality is involved can be somewhat taxing. It was like the movie Inception except not as linear. An interesting read nonetheless.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ex-Patriots by Peter Clines

ex-patriotsEx-Patriots, by Peter Clines, is the second book in the Ex-Heroes series. It continues the story of a group of superheroes in a post-zombie apocalypse. The Los Angeles enclave is found by, perhaps, the last military outpost. Clines maintains the quality of writing found in the first book.

The third book, Ex-Communication, comes out later this year (2013). I can see this series going on for quite a few books and there is nothing wrong with that. Comic book-type stories in a novel format are fun to read. As a matter of fact I don;t see why Clines doesn't open his world up to a more authors in a shared universe a la Wildcards.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

ex-heroesReally enjoyed Ex-Heroes. A zombies vs. superheroes story should be a winner for a lightweight read. Clines, however, is a skilled writer who knows how to write interesting characters that we give a damn about. The plot is well-devised to balance action with character development and mood. Flashbacks are used as mini origin stories to good effect.

Lots of fun to read. Essentially the fun of a comic book with the depth of a decent genre novel. Looking forward to reading the sequel, Ex-Patriots.
"I loved this pop culture-infused tale of shamed superheroes struggling to survive a zombie apocalypse in the ruins of Hollywood. It's The Avengers meets The Walking Dead with a large order of epic served on the side."
—Ernest Cline, New York Times bestselling author of Ready Player One

"Zombies? Check. Superheroes? Check. Awesome? Check. Ex-Heroes has it all. You’re in for a treat!"
—Mira Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Feed

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett

The TroupeThe cover of the book has the blurb "...Thriller, Cerebral Horror and American Gothic", and this is mostly true. The thriller aspect is present, but the teen protagonist is so in his own head that the tension is muted and the action scenes have a fuzzy dreamlike quality.

The horror is also rather muted, considering some of the fare out there, but this is definitely a classic example of American Gothic, hitting every note of sin, self-destruction, and evil embodied in supernatural creatures.

There are some interesting characters developed in the novel. So much so that I wish that the book were a hundred pages longer so as to give them more depth. The romantic entanglements were never explicitly explored; and some flashbacks wouldn't have hurt.

The bittersweet ending was a bit pat, but overall the solid writing makes this is a strong book. Believable, sometimes sparse dialog is set against and a muted gray world (or worlds). Perhaps this is something to read on a rainy day.

Some reviewers have called this the top fantasy novel of 2012. I'd put it in the top ten, perhaps as an exception, but Gothic is horror, not fantasy.

"...a melancholy coming-of-age tale with a moody atmosphere... The Troupe is a genuinely powerful piece of work." -SFX

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In the Mouth of the Whale by Paul McAuley

In the Mouth of the Whale by Paul McAuley is set in the Quiet War universe. I thought it was the 3rd book in the series but it is, apparently, a standalone novel. A thousand years after the Quiet War mankind has moved from the outer planets to new star systems.

Three varieties of post-humans, Ghosts, Quicks, and Trues, seek their destiny in the Fomalhaut system while a human from the far past is on its way to change everything.

The plight of the Quick, the decadence of the 'originalist' Trues, and the aberrational Ghosts are all portrayed with great imagination and verisimilitude. The fantastical settings of Fomalhaut are nicely set off against the 'flashbacks' to pre-Quiet War Earth. Again, though, some of the descriptions of planetary settings go on for so long in detail that they are impossible to picture.

The three interwoven plot lines combine in the end in a neat conclusion. McAuley finds the right balance between rich futurist speculation and action-adventure with compelling ethical issues.

The '3rd book' in the series, Evening's Empires comes out in 2013. Myself, I'd call this the fourth book and read In the Mouth of the Whale after The Quiet War and  Gardens of the Sun.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Timeless by Gail Carriger

Timeless takes Alexia Tarabotti to Egypt with her precocious, preternatural, daughter Prudence, her werewolf husband Lord Maccon, and her hat-crazy best friend Ivy. The story moves the series along nicely and the mix of steampunk and Victorian slashfic parody is still fun to read. The series may be able to live on for a book or two but any mysteries or cliff-hangers left in this book could be easily be left unanswered.

Looking forward to more books in the series as well as the new spin-off series Parasol Protectorate Abroad and the YA series Finishing School.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The City's Son by Tom Pollock

The Citys SonThe City's Son is the first book in a new Urban Fantasy series (Skyscraper Throne) set in London. Its pretty well written and the fantasy elements are quite unique for the genre. Instead of elves and fairies or vampires and werewolves we have elements of the city itself (cranes, scaffolding, lightposts, statues and garbage) as anthropomorphized characters.

The plot elements and character choices leave the impression that this story would be better served as a graphic novel. Although there is murder and rape portrayed in the novel it scans more as a Young Adult novel than a gritty mature offering.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

The TwelveThe Twelve by Justin Cronin is the second book in The Passage Trilogy. The story is picked up a year or two after the first book (The Passage) where one of the twelve super-vampires is taken down. The book's action and character development is just as good as the first book.

If you liked the first book you will not be disappointed by the second.

The large cast of characters and the time skipping is a little ragged in places, but everything ties up nicely in the end. The scope of the vampires' psychic powers seems boundaryless. Are we dealing with biological aberrations or are we bleeding in to godlike supernaturalism?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Shadowmarch by Tad Williams

Shadowmarch: Shadowmarch: Volume IShadowmarch by Tad Williams is the first of the 4 books in the Shadowmarch series. This is classic high fantasy, with court intrigue, swordplay, magic and mythical races. It took a while to plod through the first two thirds of the book but the ending was fairly satisfying. Its pretty mundane fare as far as this genre goes but the character development is sound, if slow.

It took me a couple of months to get through the book so I'm in no hurry to start on the second book, but it is definitely on my to read pile. Now that the table has been set there will probably be more plot-driven action to enjoy. If a concluding book to the series ever comes out I'll make more of an effort to play catch-up.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Throne of The Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Throne of The Crescent Moon The first book in the Crescent Moon series by Saladin Ahmed, Throne of The Crescent Moon is a promising beginning to the series. The middle eastern theme is authentic without being stereotypical. There is a bit more character development than plot development and action but that is understandable given that there is a trilogy that has to be fleshed out.

While the book is well written its kind of surprising that the book is a finalist for the Nebula and Campbell awards. The authenticity of the middle eastern fantasy is undeniable, but there is nothing significantly unique or groundbreaking about its treatment. That's not to say that it isn't a fun read, just don't expect anything shocking or innovative.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Leviathan Wakes By James S.A. Corey

Leviathan WakesLeviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey, is the first book in the Expanse series. It is a space opera set only within our solar system. Corey is writing a series that spans the sub-genres of planetary to galactic space opera. It will be interesting to see if the galactic aspect involves warp drive, worm holes, or generation ships (as already established).

Reading Leviathan Wakes has reminded me that I have not read the 3rd book in the The Quiet War series (In The Mouth of the Whale) by Paul McAuley since it also spans from a planetary to an extra-solar space opera milieu. The difference is that the post-human aspect of the Quiet War series is homegrown while the Expanse's is introduced by an alien 'virus'.

Many authors use the novel structuring technique of alternating point of view into chapters among a collection of several main characters, both hero and villain. In Leviathan Wakes the authors alternate between two fascinating characters. Jim Holden is an officer on a ship of little importance thrust into a position of power. His self-righteousness and dedication to the truth and justice meets the real world. Detective Miller is a classic noir character. An alcoholic world-weary cop knows too much about the darker side of human nature. His love for a girl he's never met leads him down a rabbit hole bordering on insanity and possibly the salvation of the human race. The skill with which Corey alternates the stories of the two men from chapter to chapter is masterful.

Looking forward to reading the next two books in the series: Caliban's War (out now) and Abaddon's Gate (later in 2013).

James S.A. Corey is the pen name for authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sharps by KJ Parker - magic free fantasy

Sharps by K. J. Parker is an fun adventure tale that focuses on political intrigue set in an intricately designed feudal world. A fencing team is sent on a diplomatic mission under the guise of a series exhibition matches. A series of misadventures eventually culminates in the exposure of and thwarting of various plots. A splash of wry humour rounds out a well-written action-adventure story.

If you enjoyed The Folding Knife by Parker, but found it a bit depressing, then you will really enjoy this tale that is set in the same world.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks

Just finished The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks. It is the second book in the Lightbringer series. I enjoyed the second book even more than the first. The first book introduced a novel but, I thought, simplistic, magic system and a number of interesting characters in a variation of a court politics plot.

The second book fleshes out the magic system admirably and firmly embeds it into the religious and political context. The character development is very good. The plot is well-paced and the action is believable.

The ending is pretty good considering it is the second book in whats planned to be a four book series. Looking forward to the next book.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2012 Nebula Award Finalists Announced |

2012 Nebula Award Finalists Announced |


Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW; Gollancz ’13)
Ironskin, Tina Connolly (Tor)
The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Drowning Girl, Caitlin R. Kiernan (Roc)
Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

I haven't read any of these.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Moon Reader (app review) TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics

Moon Reader (app review) TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics: After Moon Reader was reinstated in the app store, I bought a copy to play around with. I figured it would be like other e-reading apps I’ve tried: I’ll use it for a couple of books, but find it’s just not compelling enough to make me switch from the Kindle app.

Not so with Moon Reader. It’s a great app, and worth taking the extra step of manually syncing between my Kindle Touch and Moon Reader.

I still prefer FBReader for its speed and simplicity.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Captain Vorpatril's Alliance By Lois McMaster Bujold - comfortable

Read Captain Vorpatril's Alliance  by Lois McMaster Bujold. If you have read the rest of the series you are going to enjoy this. If you haven't then you should start from the beginning. Its a light-hearted story set in the Miles world but centered around his cousin Ivan. Its one of the romance-centric books in the series so its lots of fun and an easy read by an author who knows her craft.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams - flavorless

Dirty StreetsThe Dirty Streets of Heaven is the first volume of Tad Williams's new Bobby Dollar urban fantasy series. While a decent enough read, there was nothing especially outstanding to recommend it. The plot is tight and the action is well written. Coming up with a cast of interesting characters was the main difficulty. The world-weary gumshoe/angel Bobby Dollar wasn't particularly endearing as a protagonist. The cast of supernatural characters were mundane and the mundane characters were cookie-cutter stereotypes.

I'll probably read the next book in the series only to see if the author can find a way to put a unique spin on the sub-genre. If you want to read urban fantasy with an angelic hero dealing with hell on earth you're better off reading Kadrey's Sandman Slim series or Simon Green's Nightside.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Jack Glass by Adam Roberts - weak 3rd act

The full title is Jack Glass The Story of a Murderer. The book is structured as three short stories, each paying homage to the classic Arthur Conan Doyle-esque murder mystery. The inspired twist is that the protagonist in the stories is the murderer (not a spoiler since its in the Prologue). The author combines the classic murder mystery with the classic rocket ship space adventure.

The first story is an incredible tale of a locked room murder told from the inside out. The gritty story is a masterpiece of pacing and tension and the dramatic reveal of how the crime is committed is inspirational. Unfortunately the remaining two stories, while entertaining and innovative, do not raise the dramatic stakes. A bit of a let down.

Definitely worth reading. Many reviewers are putting this book on their top ten lists of 2012, even book of the year. It definitely deserves a top ten nod but that's as far as I will go.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Little Brother - Cory Doctorow - Scifi light on the fiction

Little BrotherFinished reading Little Brother last night and boy was I impressed. This book is going to deservedly win some awards. I have not read anything that presents the erosion of civil rights in the US as well as this book. The teenage angst/love story sub-plot is necessary but gives the book the aura of the YA novel.

The sequel is coming out February 5th and, as usual, Mr. Doctorow is doing what he can to market and distribute his works as fairly as possible.

via BoingBoing:
Teachers, librarians, etc: sign up for free copies...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig - Urban Fantasy or Horror?

MockingbirdStayed up until the wee hours to finish Mockingbird, the second of the Miriam Black series. The action is fast paced and explicit and the superb character development makes what happens to primary and secondary characters matter. A fast paced ending was a satisfying payoff for a story that started off a bit slowly. Well-written gore and violence with clever twists and turns. The supernatural framework and the level of violence tilts the book a bit toward the horror genre.

Looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

BlackbirdsYou will definitely want to read the first book, Blackbirds, before reading Mockingbird. Flashbacks that reveal more and more of what makes Miriam tick need to be read as the author intended. The main characters are changing in significant ways throughout both books. Miriam is not the typical private-eye/good Samaritan with special powers found in many urban fantasy series. Her gift has (so far) been truly a curse to her - leaving her alone and bitter. Learning to use her 'gift' is essential to holding on to her humanity.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

Finished reading The Black Prism by Brent Weeks last night.

Its the first book in the Lightbringer series. Its in the high fantasy genre with a few interesting twists. The magic system is based on the light spectrum with each primary color representing a different flavour of magic that manipulates the raw energy of magic called luxin. The system is seems internally sound and not overly complicated. There is a fair bit of color-based wordplay but not to the point of being annoying (with one exception).

Kip looked, torn. Lord Omnichrome was disappearing up the hill, rejoining his entourage. He was the heart of this; Kip knew it. He should kill him. Orholam, his chance was passing through his fingertips. But to the south, Karris was charging to her death, and to the east, that snake Zymun was stealing the only thing Kip had to remember his mother by. Kill Lord Omnichrome and stop the war. Kill Zymun and take the knife. Or save Karris and have a chance at King Garadul.

All the major players are introduced and the table is set for the conflicts to follow. The Man in the Iron Mask aspect is a sharp twist to the standard underdog youth becoming a heroic figure. Some of the characters are a bit flat, but there are at least two more books to flesh them out (or kill them off). As always (read Weeks's Night Angel Trilogy) the action scenes are gory and well choreographed.

Looking forward to the rest of the series.

P.S. Exercise your vocabulary building skills and look up "promachos". Brent Weeks is quite enamored with the term and Wikipedia doesn't do the word justice.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The 47 Books I Read in 2012

Here are the books I read in 2012. The list is in chronological order. My favourite read of the year was Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy. Best Urban Fantasy was Mike Carey's Felix Castor series. Best Sci-fi novel was David Brin's Existence.

1) Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton
2) Iron Jackal by Chris Wooding
3) Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
4) Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
5) Vicious Circle by Mike Carey
6) Dead Men's Boots by Mike Carey
7) Thicker Than Water by Mike Carey
8) The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
9) The Naming of the Beasts by Mike Carey
10) The Quiet War by Paul McAuley
11) Soulless by Gail Carriger
12) Dead To Me by Anton Strout
13) The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde
14) The Bride Wore Black Leather by Simon R. Green
15) Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith
16) His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
17) Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
18) Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
19) Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
20) Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik
21) Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
22) Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik
23) Feed by Mira Grant
24) Deadline by Mira Grant
25) Blackout by Mira Grant
26) Tricked by Kevin Hearne
27) Redshirts by John Scalzi
28) Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
29) The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett; Stephen Baxter
30) Changeless by Gail Carriger
31) 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
32) The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross
33) Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
34) Blameless by Gail Carriger
35) Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley
36) The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis
37) The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde
38) Existence by David Brin
39) Dodger by Terry Pratchett
40) Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
41) Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
42) Heartless by Gail Carriger
43) The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks
44) The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
45) Railsea by China Mieville
46) Cold Days by Jim Butcher
47) Devil Said Bang by Richard Kadrey