Friday, May 28, 2010

I Was Lost But Now I'm Found

Posted by Simcha 3:45 AM, under | 7 comments

I've heard that blogs make great platforms for venting your troubles and I'm tempted to see if this holds true. I'd regal you with details of my lousy week spent chasing down my my blog which suddenly went AWOL, after I switched my main website to a new host. I'd tell you about the frustrating hours spent attempting one possible solution after another, in hopes that I would stumble upon the answer to getting back my blog (since I really have no idea what I'm doing, it would be a happy accident). But it would all be pretty boring, so I won't bother you with the details.
Let's just say that I'm happy to have my blog back as I felt very forlorn without it.

Though the solution I did come up with is a temporary redirection and I hope that my regular domain name will be transferred back to me soon.

I was particularity upset about my blog misplacement this week because there were some really cool things going on that I wanted to share with you.

First of all, this past Tuesday was Towel Day, in honor of Douglas Adams. I did actually post about this even though I knew it was unlikely anyone would find my blog to read the post, but you can take a look at it now. If you ended up attending any Towel Day events I'd love to hear about it.

Also on May 25th a new and really cool project was unveiled at the SF AppShow, called The Mongoliad, which is a sort of serialized story, created by Neal Stephenson, and written by Neal, Greg Bear, Nicole Galland, and a number of other great authors. This story will be told through
custom apps on iPad, iPhone, Kindle, and Android, and will be something of an experiment in post-book publishing and storytelling.

Here's an explanation of the project from The Mongoliad's Facebook Page

    The Mongoliad is a rip-roaring adventure tale set 1241, a pivotal year in history, when Europe thought that the Mongol Horde was about to completely destroy their world. The Mongoliad is also the beginning of an experiment in storytelling, technology, and community-driven creativity.

    Our story begins with a serial novel of sorts, which we will release over the course of about a year. Neal Stephenson created the world in which The Mongoliad is set, and presides benevolently over it. Our first set of stories is being written by Neal, Greg Bear, Nicole Galland, Mark Teppo, and a number of other authors; we're also working closely with artists, fight choreographers & other martial artists, programmers, film-makers, game designers, and a bunch of other folks to produce an ongoing stream of nontextual, para-narrative, and extra-narrative stuff which we think brings the story to life in ways that are pleasingly unique, and which can't be done in any single medium.

    Very shortly, once The Mongoliad has developed some mass and momentum, we will be asking fans to join us in creating the rest of the world and telling new stories in it. That’s where the real experiment part comes in. We are building some pretty cool tech to make that easy and fun, and we hope lots of you will use it.

    People will be able to get The Mongoliad over the web and via custom clients for mobile devices - we're going to start out with iPad, iPhone, Android, and Kindle apps, and will probably do more in the not too distant future.

There was also a really interesting interview with Brandon Sanderson over at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. Sanderson talks about fan's reactions to The Gathering Storm and how he feels about knowing that his WOT books will never be as good than Jordan's. And although I gave up on WOT many years ago I still really enjoyed this interview. You can read for yourself here

I'm sure there were many more interesting events taking place in the world and in the blogosphere that I missed out on because I was busy banging my head on my keyboard, but these were the ones I was lucky enough to have found and so I'm happy that I can now share them with you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Maze Runnner by James Dashner

Posted by Simcha 6:53 PM, under | 4 comments

One of the aspects I like best about dystopic books is how they present a futuristic world so different from our own, but with enough similarities to make the story seem believable. The characters in such books are often faced with interesting dilemmas, and I often pick up these books just to find out how the character ends up dealing with the situation described in the book blurb.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is black. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as they could remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the maze after dark.

The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl springs up—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might be able to find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the maze is unsolvable.
And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.

When I had first read a description of The Maze Runner I was immediately intrigued by the story and felt a strong need to find out what Thomas was doing in the box and what happened to his memory. And while The Maze Runner had sounded like the type of book I would really like, unfortunately it ended up falling short of my expectations.

My biggest problem with this book is the characters themselves, who I thought were flat and uninteresting. I was never really engaged by them or their struggles and I thought the side characters seemed interchangeable and I had a hard time remembering who was who. I was particularly disappointed in how the single female characters fails to live up to the high expectations that were set for her following her dramatic arrival in the Glade.

I also felt that there were too many inconsistencies in the story to make it believable, particularly in regard to the boys' behavior. For example, when Thomas arrives in the Glade the boys roughly refuse to explain anything to him about his new life, getting irritated and aggressive whenever he asks questions. I had assumed that eventually a reason for this irrational behavior would be revealed, particularly since everything else in the Glade was so well organized, but none is ever provided. I finally determined that it was a way for the author to add some drama to the story, but it left me feeling skeptical. I also got the impression, at one point, that the author wanted to suggest that this current lifestyle has bred a new wildness in the boys, in a Lord of the Flies kind of way, but he doesn’t carry this theme through so it ends up being just a single unexplained moment.

    Thomas squinted, confused by what Chuck had said. “What are you talking about?”
    “He’s being banished. Tonight, for trying to kill you.”
    “Banished? What does that mean?” Thomas had to ask, though he knew it couldn’t be good if Chuck though it was worse than being dead.
    And then Thomas saw perhaps the most disturbing thing he’d seen since he’s arrived at the Glade. Chuck didn’t answer; he only smiled. Smiled, despite it all, despite the sinister sound of what he’s just announced. Then he turned and ran, maybe to tell someone else the exciting news.

And while this would have been an interesting development in the story, this idea doesn’t appear again and the character mentioned above behaves perfectly normal the rest of the time.

I also had a hard time believing that in his few days in the Glade Thomas was able to make discoveries and accomplish things that no one else had over the span of two years. Perhaps if these actions were due to Thomas’s unique background, which is hinted at, it would have been more believable, but as it was he just seems to figure things out that no one else was able to, for no explainable reason.

The end itself was also a disappointment to me as it doesn’t provide the answers that I felt I had earned. While not everything had to be revealed, I thought more explanations should have been offered than there were. When I start a book in which there is a mystery, I feel confident that my reading will reward me with a solution to that mystery. So when the mystery is still largely unexplained in the end, I feel somewhat cheated.

The Maze Runner ends with a cliffhanger, which would normally really aggravate me, but in this situation I didn’t feel particularly anxious to find out what happens next. Nothing close to how I felt after reading The Hunger Games, when I would have given almost anything to get a hold of the sequel right there and then.

The Maze Runner had the potential to be a really great book but there were just too many inconsistencies, however small, to make it believable and not enough unique or thought provoking ideas to make it memorable. While The Maze Runner fell short of my expectations I think that younger readers, who are less critical in their reading, would probably enjoy it more than I did.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Towel Day!

Posted by Simcha 7:13 AM, under | 3 comments

Today Douglas Adams fans around the world will unit in shared love and appreciation for the genius of Douglas Adams by celebrating Towel Day, which takes place every year on May 25th.

You can pay tribute to Towel Day by carrying a towel with you throughout the day, though there are actually quite a few Towel Day events taking place all around the world.

  • The Mana Bar in Brisbane, Australia will have games and prizes for customers towels.
  • In Austria, ACHNUS Film invites you to a multidimensional presentation called "Don’t Panic - Tag mit Handtuch" at 20:30 in the Movie-Lounge, Bützestr. 7 in Wolfurt. Free admission. Don't forget your towel!
  • In Toronto there is going to be a Towel Day photo scavenger hunt/pub crawl.

  • In Columbia Dia de la toalla is being celebrated in Medellin with a flashmob.

  • In Finland, Tampere, towel-equipped hitchhikers will meet in Restaurant Plevna at 19:00. At Mozilla in Mountain View, California, any employee who brings a towel with them to work will be entitled to a complementary brownie, which will be available at a lunchtime group reading of the first few chapters of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

  • At Capital High School in Santa Fe, NM, Mrs. Gunter's 10th Grade English AP class will be celebrating Towel Day by dressing in a robe, pj's and of course carrying a towel! They will be having a "bring your favorite cereal" breakfast while partaking in a Vogon Poetry slam. (Man, I wish I had gotten to go to such an awesome school)

And for more great Towel Day Events visit the official Towel Day website,

Unfortunately I haven't heard of any Towel Day events taking place in Israel, so perhaps I'll have to organize something for next year. But if you are lucky enough to live someplace where there is something going on you should definitely check out out (towel in tow, of course). But even if there is nothing going on where you live you can still take part in Towel Day by uploading a picture to Flickr, tagging it with "towelday" (most interesting - latest - group) or make a YouTube video (most relevant - latest).

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on the importance of Towels:

A about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Have a Happy Towel Day!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New Scifi and Fantasy Releases: Week of May 23

Posted by Simcha 9:36 AM, under | 3 comments

This is a really awesome week for book releases, especially as it's the week that Ilona Andrews' newest Kate Daniels novel, Magic Bleeds, will be hitting the bookstores. Lynn Flewelling also has a new Nightrunner book coming out this week and there is a new fantasy novel from Dave Duncan which looks interesting. While compiling this list I also came across some great looking books that I have not yet heard of but which I definitely want to try, including Leviathan Wept, and other stories by Daniel Abrahams and Light Boxes by Shane Jones.

So which of this week's releases are you excited about?

Hope you have a great reading week!


Title: Magic Bleeds
by Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: May 25
Description: Kate Daniels cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to deal with-especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community.

And now there's a new player in town-a foe that may be too much for even Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family.

Title: Moon Sworn (Riley Jenson Guardian Series #9)
by Keri Arthur
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: May 25
Description:Shape-shifting werewolf and vampire Riley Jenson is through with death—causing it, solving it, surviving it. Her soul mate, Kye Murphy, is dead—and at Riley’s own hands. Not even the seductive embrace of her vampire lover, Quinn, can fully ease her mind, for she has begun questioning everything that makes her Riley—including her job at the Directorate.

Now, the ritualistically slain bodies of ex-cons have started turning up. Reluctantly, Riley takes the case, but something even worse is waiting in the wings. A vicious enemy from her past is determined to strip Riley of everything that gives her life any meaning: her lover, her brother—and even her own identity. Can Riley survive this ultimate assault? All she knows is, she must fight one last time to find answers, before everything goes dark forever.

Title: Inhuman Resources
by Jes Battis
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: May 25
Description: When a powerful necromancer is killed, Occult Special Investigator Tess Corday must handle the heavy politics in the occult community as carefully as she handles the scant evidence. But with her sometime lover Lucian Agrado representing the necromancers in the grisly matter, things are about to get out of

Title: Brains : A Zombie Memoir
by Robin Becker
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: May 25
Description: Becker's slender debut novella is an unusual take on the zombie genre: part Grapes of Wrath, part postmodern memoir. A virus outbreak turns millions of people into mindless zombies, and the remaining humans declare war on the undead. Zombified English professor Jack Barnes discovers that he has retained his memories and his consciousness. Joined by several other sentient zombies, Barnes sets off to find the virus's creator in hopes of presenting a treatise on zombie civil rights. Barnes's dogged entitlement and self-centeredness make him both uninteresting and unbearable, and while Becker's writing is crisp, the plot meanders like its characters, consisting of little more than cannibalistic feasts and tin-eared literary and pop culture references (“Hell is other zombies”; “Perhaps life as a zombie is better than no life at all”).

The Devil in GreenTitle: The Devil in Green (Dark Age Series #1)
by Mark Chadbourn
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Release Date: May 25
Description: Humanity has emerged, blinking, from the Age of Misrule into a world substantially changed: cities lie devasted, communications are limited, anarchy rages across the land. Society has been thrown into a new Dark Age where superstition holds sway.

The Tuatha De Danaan roam the land once more, their terrible powers dwarfing anything mortals have to offer. And in their wake come all the creatures of myth and legend, no longer confined to the shadows.

Fighting to find their place in this new world, the last remnants of the Christian Church call for a group of heroes: a new Knights Templar to guard the priesthood as they set out on their quest for souls. But as everything begin to fall apart, the Knights begin to realise their only hope is to call on the pagan gods of Celtic myth for help...

Speak to the DevilTitle: Speak to the Devil
by Dave Duncan
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: May 25
Description: A new adventure of brotherhood and magic from beloved fantasist Dave Duncan

In the Kingdom of Jorgary, the days of feudal chivalry are fading as national armies are formed. But Ottokar Magnus is still baron, and his host of brothers include Anton, an ambitious young soldier, and Wulfgang, an amiable teenager. Unable to seek his fortune as a knight errant, Anton has enlisted with the royal Jorgarian hussars and taken Wulf along as his servant.

There is magic in Jorgary, but it is regarded as Satanism, rituals performed by Speakers who are in contact with the Devil. The Speakers, though, believe that the Voices they hear belong to saints. Anton is not a Speaker...but Wulf is.

Anxious to impress the court, Anton exhibits spectacular horsemanship at a royal hunt, with a little boost from Wulf. Two nights later he is dragged before Cardinal Zdenek, the king’s chief minister. Zdenek offers him an earldom and anything else he could dream of if he will ride at once to a strategic fortress at Cardice and take command there. The count and his son have died, victims of both treason and witchcraft. The cardinal thinks that neighboring enemies are preparing to invade, using “modern” arms to capture the fort. Mortal resources alone will not suffice, but Zdenek knows that Anton’s improbable jump at the hunt was aided by supernatural power.

Anton wants nothing to do with this mission, but Wulf’s Voices tell him that they should accept the charge. The result is a harrowing ride through limbo with astonishing results.

Title: The White Road (Nightrunner)
Author: Lynn Flewelling
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Spectra
Release Date: May 25
Description: Dissolute nobles, master spies, and the unlikeliest of heroes, Alec and Seregil have survived exile, treachery, and black magic. But the road that lies ahead is the most hazardous they’ve ever traveled. For with enemies on all sides, they must walk a narrow path between good and evil where one misstep might be their last.

Having escaped death and slavery in Plenimar, Alec and Seregil want nothing more than to go back to their nightrunning life in Rhíminee. Instead they find themselves saddled with Sebrahn, a strange, alchemically created creature—the prophesied “child of no woman.” Its moon-white skin and frightening powers make Sebrahn a danger to all whom Alec and Seregil come into contact with, leaving them no choice but to learn more about Sebrahn’s true nature.

With the help of trusted friends and Seregil’s clan, the duo set out to discover the truth about this living homunculus—a journey that can lead only to danger or death. For Seregil’s old nemesis Ulan í Sathil of Virèsse and Alec’s own long-lost kin are after them, intent on possessing both Alec and Sebrahn. On the run and hunted, Alec and his comrades must fight against time to accomplish their most personal mission ever.

Title: Skin Trade (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series #17)
by Laurell K. Hamilton
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: May 25
Description: A proven series with a hot new look. The #1 bestselling author returns with her most anticipated novel yet. When a vampire serial killer sends Anita Blake a grisly souvenir from Las Vegas, she has to warn Sin City's local authorities what they're dealing with. Only it's worse than she thought. Ten officers and one executioner have been slain—paranormal style. Anita heads to Vegas, where's she's joined by three other federal marshals, including the ruthless Edward. It's a good thing he always has her back, because when she gets close to the bodies, Anita senses "tiger" too strongly to ignore it. The weretigers are very powerful in Las Vegas, which means the odds of her rubbing someone important the wrong way just got a lot higher.

Title: Early to Death, Early to Rise
by Kim Harrison
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: May 25
Description: Seventeen, dead, and in charge of heaven's dark angels—all itching to kill someone.
Madison Avery's dreams of ever fitting in at her new school died when she did. Especially since she was able to maintain the illusion of a body, deal with a pesky guardian angel, and oh yeah, bring the reaper who killed her to his untimely end. Not exactly in-crowd material. It's amazing that her crush, Josh, doesn't think she's totally nuts.
Now Madison has learned that she's the dark timekeeper, in charge of angels who follow the murky guidelines of fate. Never one to abide by the rules, she decides it's time for a major change to the system. With the help of some unlikely allies, Madison forms a rogue group of reapers who definitely don't adhere to the rules of the heavens.
But as she grapples with the terrifying new skills that come with being a timekeeper, Madison realizes she may not be prepared for what lies ahead—unless she gets some seriously divine intervention.

Title: The Kingdom Beyond the Waves
by Stephen Hunt
Genre: Steampunk
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: May 25
Description: Professor Amelia Harsh is obsessed with finding the lost civilization of Camlantis, a legendary city from pre-history that is said to have conquered hunger, war, and disease with the creation of the perfect pacifist society. Without official funding, Amelia is forced to accept an offer of patronage from Abraham Quest, the man she blames for her father’s bankruptcy and suicide. She hates him, but he has something that Amelia desperately wants--evidence that proves that Camlantis existed and that the Camlantean ruins are buried under one of the sea-like lakes that dot the murderous jungles of Liongeli.
Amelia will blackmail her old friend Commodore Black into ferrying her along a huge river on his ancient U-boat. With an untrusty crew of freed convicts, Quest’s force of fearsome female mercenaries on board, and a lunatic steamman acting as their guide, Amelia’s luck seems to be going from bad to worse. Her quest for the perfect society has a good chance of bringing her own world to the brink of destruction…
The Kingdom Beyond The Waves is Stephen Hunt’s third novel, set in the same universe as The Court of the Air. Amelia Harsh is a female Indiana Jones if there ever was one, and this novel is a rollicking steampunk adventure that will hook readers for one dynamite ride.

Title: Light Boxes
by Shane Jones
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: May 25
Description: With all the elements of a classic fable, vivid descriptions, and a wholly unique style, this idiosyncratic debut introduces a new and exciting voice to readers of such authors as George Saunders, Kurt Vonnegut, and Yann Martel.

In Light Boxes, the inhabitants of one closely-knit town are experiencing perpetual February. It turns out that a god-like spirit who lives in the sky, named February, is punishing the town for flying, and bans flight of all kind, including hot air balloons and even children's kites. It's February who makes the sun nothing but a faint memory, who blankets the ground with snow, who freezes the rivers and the lakes. As endless February continues, children go missing and more and more adults become nearly catatonic with depression. But others find the strength to fight back, waging war on February.

Title: Unholy Ghosts
by Stacia Kane
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: May 25

The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.

Title: Infinity (Chronicles of Nick Series)
by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: May 25
Description: At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. . .until the night when his best friends try to kill him. Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity.

Nick quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one: a world where the captain of the football team is a werewolf and the girl he has a crush on goes out at night to stake the undead.

But before he can even learn the rules of this new world, his fellow students are turning into flesh eating zombies. And he's next on the menu.

As if starting high school isn't hard enough. . .now Nick has to hide his new friends from his mom, his chainsaw from the principal, and keep the zombies and the demon Simi from eating his brains, all without getting grounded or suspended. How in the world is he supposed to do that?

Title: Angel
by Garry D. Kilworth
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: May 25
Description: There is a citywide epidemic of arson in San Francisco, and Detective Dave Peters and his partner, Danny, are on the case. Their routine investigation becomes more and more bizarre as the fires seem more and more spontaneous and impossible. An astonishing scenario emerges: the War in Heaven, which takes place outside of time, is still being fought. Sometimes a minor demon drops out of that war and into time, on Earth, to hide—masquerading as human. Sometimes an angel is sent to Earth to destroy these evil beings. But an angel on such an errand may care nothing for human life. Those who die go to Heaven, or elsewhere—not the angel’s concern.
Such an angel now stalks its prey in San Francisco—but it is newly fallen because it has begun to enjoy destruction. Dave and Danny, the only ones who believe in the angel, must track it down and, with the help of the Church, exorcise it.

30 Days of NightTitle: 30 Days of Night: Fear of the Dark
by Tim Lebbon
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult
Release Date: May 25
Description: Marty Volk has a guardian angel. For the past five years, since he was twelve years old, it has saved Marty whenever he’s been in danger. And from a single darkened glimpse one night on the streets of London, he thinks it’s his long-lost sister Rose—ten years older than him, beautiful, intelligent . . . and deceased. For Rose has become a creature of legend that thrives, along with her undead companions, in the shadows of the human world . . . one who tenaciously holds on to her new existence, and who will do anything to survive. . . .

Title: Courage and Honour
by Graham McNeill
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Games Workshop
Release Date: May 25
Description: Book five in the Ultramarines series follows the tale of Uriel Ventris as he tries to regain the trust of the 4th company and the Ultramarines chapter after his time in the Eye of Terror and his continued fight against the powers of chaos.

Title: Overthrowing Heaven
by Mark L. Van Name
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Baen
Release Date: May 25
Description: It began as a favor to a woman trying to get away from her abusive husband. Jon Moore grew up in a prison laboratory. When he escaped with nothing but his body's nanotech enhancements and more anger than even a long lifetime could wash away, an entire planet died behind him. Memories of the things he'd done still haunted him; because of them, he often ended up helping those in need. His kindnesses frequently didn't work out well. This one really didn't work out well. It hurled Jon and Lobo, the intelligent assault vehicle and Jon's only friend, down an accelerating, ever more dangerous spiral!

Title: Cheat the Grave (Signs of the Zodiac Series #5)
by Vicki Pettersson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: May 25
Description: Las Vegas socialite and otherwordly avenger Joanna Archer gave up everything when she embraced mortality—abandoning her powers and altering her destiny to save a child . . . and a city. Now her former allies are her enemies—and her enemies have nothing to fear.

Yet still she is bound to a prophecy that condemns her to roam a nightmare landscape that ordinary humans cannot see and dare not enter. And a beast is on her trail—an insane killer blinded by bloodlust, who's determined to rip much more from Joanna than merely her now-fragile life. Survival is no longer an option in this dark realm where good and evil have blurred into confusing shades of gray—unless she can gather together an army of onetime foes and destroy everything she once believed in.

Title: House of Suns
by Alastair Reynolds
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: May 25
Description: Six million years ago, at the dawn of the star-faring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones, which she called shatterlings. But now, someone is eliminating the Gentian line. Campion and Purslane-two shatterlings who have fallen in love and shared forbidden experiences-must determine exactly who, or what, their enemy is, before they are wiped out of existence.

Title: The Necromancer (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #4)
by Michael Scott
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Release Date: May 25
Description: The fourth book in the New York Times bestselling series The Secrets of the Nicholas Flamel-The Necromancer

San Francisco:
After fleeing to Ojai, then Paris, and escaping to London, Josh and Sophie Newman are finally home. And after everything they've seen and learned in the past week, they're both more confused than ever about their future. Neither of them has mastered the magics they'll need to protect themselves from the Dark Elders, they've lost Scatty, and they're still being pursued by Dr. John Dee. Most disturbing of all, however, is that now they must ask themselves, can they trust Nicholas Flamel? Can they trust anyone?

Dr. Dee underestimated Perenelle Flamel's power. Alcatraz could not hold her, Nereus was no match for her, and she was able to align herself with the most unlikely of allies. But she wasn't the only one being held on the island. Behind the prison's bars and protective sigils were a menagerie of monsters-
-an army for Dee to use in the final battle. And now Machiavelli has come to Alcatraz to loose those monsters on San Francisco.
Perenelle might be powerful, but each day she weakens, and even with Nicholas back at her side, a battle of this size could be too much for her. Nicholas and Perenelle must fight to protect the city, but the effort will probably kill them both.

Having been unable to regain the two final pages of the Codex, Dee has failed his Elder and is now an outlaw-and the new prey of all the creatures formerly sent to hunt down Flamel.
But Dee has a plan. With the Codex and the creatures on Alcatraz, he can control the world. All he needs is the help of the Archons. But for his plan to work, he must raise the Mother of the Gods from the dead. For that, he'll have to train a necromancer. And the twins of legend will make the perfect pupils. . . .

Title: The Darkest Passion (Lords of the Underworld Series #8)
by Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: May 25
Description: For weeks, the immortal warrior Aeron has sensed an invisible female presence. An angel—demon-assassin—has been sent to kill him. Or has she? Olivia claims she fell from the heavens, giving up immortality because she couldn't bear to harm him. But trusting—and falling for—Olivia will endanger them all. So how has this "mortal" with the huge blue eyes already unleashed Aeron's darkest passion?

Now, with an enemy hot on his trail and his faithful demon companion determined to remove Olivia from his life, Aeron is trapped between duty and consuming desire. Worse still, a new executioner has been sent to do the job Olivia wouldn't….

Title: God of War
by Matthew Stover
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: May 25
Description: Offering deeper insights into the critically acclaimed God of War® franchise, this novel returns us to the dark world of ancient Greek mythology explored in the heart-pounding action of God of War I, the bestselling video game.

A brutal warrior, Kratos is a slave to the gods of Olympus. Plagued by the nightmares of his past and yearning for freedom, the Ghost of Sparta would do anything to be free of his debt to the gods. He is on the verge of losing all hope when the gods give him one last task to end his servitude.

He must destroy Ares, the god of war.

But what chance does a mere mortal have against a god? Armed with the deadly chained Blades of Chaos, guided by the goddess Athena, and driven by his own insatiable thirst for vengeance, Kratos seeks the only relic powerful enough to slay Ares . . . a quest that will take him deep into the mysterious temple borne by the Titan Cronos!

From the black depths of Hades to the war-torn city of Athens to the lost desert beyond, God of War sheds a brutal new light on the bestselling video game and on the legend of Kratos.

Blood of the MantisTitle: Blood of the Mantis (Shadows of the Apt Series #3)God of War
by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Release Date: May 25
Description: Driven by the ghosts of the Darakyon, Achaeos has tracked the stolen Shadow Box to the marsh-town of Jerez, but he has only days before the magical box is lost to him forever. Meanwhile, the forces of the Empire are mustering over winter for their great offensive, gathering their soldiers and perfecting their new weapons. Stenwold and his followers have only a short time to gather what allies they can before the Wasp armies march again, conquering everything in their path. If they cannot throw back the Wasps this spring then the imperial black-and-gold flag will fly over every city in the Lowlands before the year's end. In Jerez begins a fierce struggle over the Shadow Box, as lake creatures, secret police and renegade magicians compete to take possession. If it falls into the hands of the Wasp Emperor, however, then no amount of fighting will suffice to save the world from his relentless ambition.

ElflandTitle: Elfland
by Freda Warrington
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: May 25
Description: Elfland is an intimate, sensual novel of people—both human and Aetherial—caught between duty and desire. It is a story of families, and of Rose Fox, a woman born to magic but tormented by her place in her adopted world.

Led by Auberon Fox, a group of Aetherials—call them the Fair Folk, if you will—live among us, indistinguishable from humans. Every seven years, on the Night of the Summer Stars, Lawrence Wilder, the Gatekeeper, throws open all gates to the Other World. But this time, something has gone wrong. Wilder has sealed the gates, warning of a great danger lurking in the realm beyond them. The Aetherial community is outraged. What will become of them, deprived of the home realm from which their essential life force flows?

Rose Fox and Sam Wilder are drawn to the lands beyond the gates, even as their families feud over Lawrence’s refusal to do his duty. Struggling with their own too-human urges, they discover hidden truths that draw them together in a forbidden alliance. Only by breaching the dreaded gates and daring the danger beyond can they confront that which they fear most— their otherness—and claim their birthright.

Julian ComstockTitle: Julian Comstock
by Robert Charles Wilson
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: May 25
Description: In the reign of President Deklan Comstock, a reborn United States is struggling back to prosperity. Over a century after the Efflorescence of Oil, after the Fall of the Cities, after the False Tribulation, after the days of the Pious Presidents, the sixty stars and thirteen stripes wave from the plains of Athabaska to the national capital in New York. In Colorado Springs, the Dominion sees to the nation's spiritual needs. In Labrador, the Army wages war on the Dutch. America, unified, is rising once again.

Then out of Labrador come tales of the war hero “Captain Commongold.” The masses follow his adventures in the popular press. The Army adores him. The President is...troubled. Especially when the dashing Captain turns out to be his nephew Julian, son of the President’s late brother Bryce--a popular general who challenged the President’s power, and paid the ultimate price.

As Julian ascends to the pinnacle of power, his admiration for the works of the Secular Ancients sets him at fatal odds with the Dominion. Treachery and intrigue will dog him as he closes in on the accomplishment of his lifelong ambition: to make a film about the life of Charles Darwin.

Title: Phantasm (Zoe Martinique, Book 3)
by Phaedra Weldon
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: May 25
Description: Just when Zoë Martinique, formerly ordinary twenty-something, was getting used to the idea that she was possessed of extraordinary powers, she lost them. Without cause or warning. And at the worst possible time.

Now, unless she can figure out how to go Wraith again, she won't be able to rescue her mother, whose soul is trapped on the Abysmal plane.

Her only hope is to join forces with an old enemy, who has his own dark reasons for helping her. From him she learns that only a traumatic experience can bring the Wraith back. To get out-of-body, Zoë will have to look for big, dangerous trouble-and fast.

For there is a deadly and powerful being within the Abysmal that wishes Zoë never existed...and it's coming for her.

Title: Leviathan Wept, and other stories
by Daniel Abraham
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Release Date: May 28
Description: Hugo and Nebula finalist Abraham's first collection of nine stories showcases his work in an admirably wide range of genres, but the range of quality is likewise considerable. “Flat Diane,” an eerie tale about a young girl who sees through the eyes of a cardboard cutout mistreated by her relatives, addresses the horror cliché of child abuse in new and meaningful ways. “The Curandero and the Swede: A Tale from the 1001 American Nights” weaves history, humor, folklore, and vivid characterizations together with a deftness that would leave Scheherazade gasping with admiration. By contrast, “A Hunter in Arin-Qin” generates neither a sense of reality nor mythic resonance. Abraham (the Long Price Quartet) has undeniable skill, and readers will wish only for more of it to be on display here. (June)

Dark FaithTitle: Dark Faith
by Maurice Broaddus
Publisher: Apex
Release Date: May 28
Description: The destructiveness of passion, both earthly and supernatural, makes cities bleed and souls burn across worlds, through endless time. Experience the spiritual side of the zombie apocalypse in "The Days of Flaming Motorcycles" and transcend both hell and nirvana in "Zen and the Art of Gordon Dratch's Damnation." Look into "The Mad Eyes of the Heron King" to find the beautiful brutality written in the moment of epiphany or "Go and Tell it On the Mountain," where Jesus Christ awaits your last plea to enter heaven—if there is a heaven to enter when all is said and done.


Book Reviews

Blog Archive

Blog Archive