A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine
Mysteries abound, especially in Two Castles. A handsome cat trainer, black-and-white cats, thieves on four legs and two, suspicious townsfolk, a greedy king, a giddy princess, a shape-shifting ogre, a brilliant dragon. Which is the villainous whited sepulcher?
If the real world were a book, it would never find a publisher. Overlong, detailed to the point of distraction-and ultimately, without a major resolution.
Jasper Fforde, Something Rotten.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The books in the giveaway include:
by Brandon Sanderson
Published: June 2009
Synopsis: Epic fantasy heavyweight Sanderson (the Mistborn series) pens a powerful stand-alone tale of unpredictable loyalties, dark intrigue and dangerous magic. To keep a treaty made long ago, the king of Idris must send his daughter to marry Susebron, the God King of Hallandren. Loath to part with his eldest daughter, Vivenna, King Dedelin instead sends his youngest daughter, tomboyish 17-year-old Siri, who struggles to make sense of the schemers and spies in Susebron's court. Hoping to rescue her sister, Vivenna joins a group of Idrian operatives with questionable motives. As Vivenna comes to terms with her magical abilities, resurrected hero Lightsong questions the role of the undead Returned Gods, who command Hallandren's mighty army of zombie soldiers. Sanderson melds complex, believable characters, a marvelous world and thoughtful, ironic humor into an extraordinary and highly entertaining story.
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker -
by Leanna Renee Hieber
Published: Aug. 2009
This book was won by Revi
Synopsis: What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Hidden in the dark heart if Victorian London, the Romanesque school was dreadfully imposing, a veritable fortress, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met its powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadows, of the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She saw simply that she as different, haunted, with her snow white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gift. This arched stone doorway was a portanl to a new life, to an education far from what could be had at a convent-and it was an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death.
Read a review of Strangely Beautiful here
The Tel Aviv Dossier
by Lavie Tidhar and Nir Yaniv
Published: Sept. 2009
Synopsis: Into the city of Tel Aviv the whirlwinds come, and nothing will ever be the same.In a city torn apart by a violence they cannot comprehend, three disparate people—a documentary film-maker, a yeshiva student, and a psychotic fireman—must try to survive, and try to find meaning: even if it means being lost themselves. As Tel Aviv is consumed, a strange mountain rises at the heart of the city, and shows the outline of what may be another, alien world beyond. Can there be redemption there? Can the fevered rumours of a coming messiah be true?
As the city loses contact with the outside world and closes in on itself, as the few surviving children play and scavenge in the ruins, can innocence survive, and is it possible for hope to spring amid such chaos?
A potent mixture of biblical allusions, Lovecraftian echoes, and contemporary culture, The Tel Aviv Dossier is part supernatural thriller, part meditation on the nature of belief—an original and involving novel painted on a vast canvas in which, beneath the despair, humor is never absent.Experience the last days of Tel Aviv...
The Apex Book of World SF
Edited by Lavie Tidhar
Published: Sept. 2009
Synopsis: The world of speculative fiction is expansive; it covers more than one country, one continent, one culture. Collected here are sixteen stories penned by authors from Thailand, the Philippines, China, Israel, Pakistan, Serbia, Croatia, Malaysia, and other countries across the globe. Each one tells a tale breathtakingly vast and varied, whether caught in the ghosts of the past or entangled in a postmodern age. Among the spirits, technology, and deep recesses of the human mind, stories abound. Kites sail to the stars, technology transcends physics, and wheels cry out in the night. Memories come and go like fading echoes and a train carries its passengers through more than simple space and time. Dark and bright, beautiful and haunting, the stories herein represent speculative fiction from a sampling of the finest authors from around the world.
Dead Until Dark
by Charlaine Harris
Synopsis: Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability." She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome- and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life...But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs out with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of-big surprise-murder. And when one of Sookie's coworker's is killed, she fears she's next..
by Patricia Briggs (Please note: This copy of the book is an early addition that I received from the agent and did not yet have the cover image put on it. As such, the cover only contains the title and author, not the image that you see on the left. This can be a definite advantage if you are reading it in public and don't want strangers peeking over to see what you are reading)
Synopsis: Mated to werewolf Charles Cornick, the son -and enforcer -of the leader of the North American werewolves, Anna Latham now knows how dangerous being a werewolf is, especially when a werewolf opposes Charles and his father is struck down. Charles's reputation makes him the prime suspect, and the penalty for the crime is execution. Now Anna and Charles must combine their talents to hunt down the real killer -or Charles will take the fall.
Read a review of Hunting Ground
by Peter Brett
Published: March 2009
Synopsis As darkness falls each night, the corelings rise–demons who well up from the ground like hellish steam, taking on fearsome form and substance. They possess supernatural strength and powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards–symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and mystery, and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile.
Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault.
Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past.
The Dreaming Void
by Peter Hamilton
Synopsis: The year is 3589, fifteen hundred years after Commonwealth forces barely staved off human extinction in a war against the alien Prime. Now an even greater danger has surfaced: a threat to the existence of the universe itself.
At the very heart of the galaxy is the Void, a self-contained microuniverse that cannot be breached, cannot be destroyed, and cannot be stopped as it steadily expands in all directions, consuming everything in its path: planets, stars, civilizations. The Void has existed for untold millions of years. Even the oldest and most technologically advanced of the galaxy’s sentient races, the Raiel, do not know its origin, its makers, or its purpose.
But then Inigo, an astrophysicist studying the Void, begins dreaming of human beings who live within it. Inigo’s dreams reveal a world in which thoughts become actions and dreams become reality. Inside the Void, Inigo sees paradise. Thanks to the gaiafield, a neural entanglement wired into most humans, Inigo’s dreams are shared by hundreds of millions–and a religion, the Living Dream, is born, with Inigo as its prophet. But then he vanishes.
Suddenly there is a new wave of dreams. Dreams broadcast by an unknown Second Dreamer serve as the inspiration for a massive Pilgrimage into the Void. But there is a chance that by attempting to enter the Void, the pilgrims will trigger a catastrophic expansion, an accelerated devourment phase that will swallow up thousands of worlds.
The winners of each day's drawing will get to choose which book they would like to receive, from the books available.
This contest is open to Israeli residents only.
To Enter the Book Giveaway
To enter the book drawing all you have to do is sign up for my mailing list
which, in addition to giving you the opportunity of winning one of these awesome books, will also inform you of updates to my website and provide you with interesting scifi and fantasy news.
To receive a second entry into the book drawing, help promote the giveaway through Twitter. The message should say something like this: "Book-A-Day Giveaway. Win free Scifi and Fantasy books. In Israel only! #42SFF" Make sure to include a link to this blog post and the hashtag #42SFF so that I will know you Tweeted the message. You can also leave me a message, here on the blog, letting me know that you tweeted it, just to make sure.
You can receive a third entry into the drawing by visiting my table at the Icon, on Oct. 6th and 7th, where the books in the contest will be displayed, so that you may view them in all their glory. I will also be selling second-hand science fiction and fantasy books there, most of which you can browse through on my website 42SciFi-Fantasy.com.
The Book drawing will begin on the first day of the ICon, October 4th though you can enter the drawing up until October 8th, though I suggest you don't wait so long because you will miss out on winning from the full selection of books.
For more information about the ICon, visit www.42scifi-fantasy.com/ICon.html
Monday, September 21, 2009
Since I am not much of a science fiction reader I didn't start out with high expectations of enjoying the book, but to my surprise I did become rather engrossed by it. At least in the first half of the book. In the second half, the tone and pace suddenly changed and I found myself plodding along, continuously hoping the end was near.
Here's a brief summery of Stranger in a Strange Land:
A delegation to Mars discovers that while the members of the previous expedition had all died, there had been one survivor, the newborn son of two of the crew members. This baby, Valentine Michael Smith, remained on Mars where he was raised by the local Martians, for the past 20 years. Excited by their discovery, the members of the second expedition bundle Smith off onto their ship and bring him back to Earth.
On Earth, Smith is faced with a culture and mind set that he is completely unfamiliar with. While he is human in body, Smith's mindset is utterly alien. And so, with the help of friends, he attempts to learn about humans and their behaviors. At the same time, Smith causes the people around him to reevaluate their own beliefs and standards of behavior. Eventually Smith starts the "Church of All Worlds" where he encourages his followers to shed all of their inhibitions and ingrained conceptions of what's acceptable in order to become happier and healthier human beings, thereby becoming more like the Martians that Smith was raised by.
As I mentioned above, the first half of the book went smoothly enough and I even found myself enjoying it. There was action, suspense, a little romance- everything that I usually enjoy in a book. But in the second part of the book, all of the characters that I had come to like, were suddenly behaving like whacked-out nut jobs on pot. All of Smith's friends and followers were suddenly running around naked, participating in wild orgies, babbling on about how everyone is God and dropping the word "grok" into every sentence at least twice.
As a side note, apparently the word "grok" had become so popular after the publication of Stranger in a Strange Land that it was even included in the Oxford English Dictionary. I warn you though, that one is likely to find themselves unconsciously using this word in casual conversation after reading this book. I'm not sure of it's the catchy sound of the word itself or the fact that it is repeated so frequently that, but if you are not careful you will find your self using it as well. I'm embarrassed to admit that I myself came close to doing it once.
But back to my review. I just found it unbelievable how easily everyone in the book gave in to Smith's beliefs and point of view. A couple of characters showed some slight resistance but they were soon converted, though the reason why is not quite clear. But Heinlein did do a very good job of evaluating accepted social mores by viewing them through the eyes of someone who is completely unfamiliar with them. Smith arrives on Earth with vastly different ideas about everything, from marriage and death to cannibalism. And while I was not quite as taken in by the Martian theology and lifestyle as the characters of the book, I did find the different view points that were presented to be interesting.
While I doubt I will be rereading Stranger in a Strange Land anytime soon, I do at least feel like I have taken a step forward in my goal of familiarizing myself with the scifi genre. And if I ever find myself drowning in a conversation with a group of scifi devotees, at least I have one book I can casually bring up inorder to save face. I bet I even get extra points if I throw in a "grok."