Saturday, October 27, 2007

Skewed Throne - Book Review

I just finished reading Joshua Palmatier's debut novel, the third of which, the Vacant Throne, comes out in January.

Varis, the main character, is a street urchin, mistrustful, wary and fast. As the novel progresses, she develops another skill, assassination. But unlike other books where theft and killing are the protagonists occupation, she takes no pleasure in her skill. (I'm thinking here specifically of Jimmy the Hand, who didn't like being a thief but took great pride in being a great thief.)

At first I thought it strange that we see so much emotion from her. Whenever she kills someone in self-defense she breaks down and sobs. Later on though, I realized what the author was doing. Normally, by the end of the book, with what she'd turned into, I would have found my sympathy waning, might have put the book down being no longer able to empathize with the main character (if I don't care what happens to the main character, why keep reading? For this reason I was never able to finish book one of Stephen Donaldson's White Gold Wielder series, from about page 60 I wanted him to fail the quest. Since logic dictated that he wouldn't I had no desire to read on. I had no sympathy for the character's plight and only disgust for his choices). The same might have held true for Varis except for that gleam of humanity that her life as an assassin can't diminish. She sobs. She has a conscience and continually sees the faces of the people she has killed.

Now that's not to say that a conscienceless protagonist isn't fun at times. I love the Dexter books by Jeff Lindsay. But the direction of those books is entirely different. They're designed to show, in a darkly humourous way, what humanity is capable of. You laugh as you read the books and feel slightly chilled at the end. The horror though, comes from the thought of meeting someone in real life like that, where the situation would be anything but funny.

But back to Varis. The end of the book works. You look over the course of her life and see both how she ends up there and how that seems right for her. A masterful story with amazing character development.

You can check out Joshua's website here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lady of Light and Shadows

I was lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy of C.L. Wilson's conclusion to Lord of the Fading Lands. I'm just under half way through, but it's as well written as the first book. The author does a remarkable job of recapping what occured in the previous novel without boring you with needless repetitions. In fact, her writing is so good that I find an hour's passed and I barely noticed, I was so caught up in the story. This novel does read more like a romance than Lord, but it's worth the few love scenes to find out what will happen between Ellie and Rain. C.L. Wilson also has an excellent grasp of character and what motivates people. Each character's reactions to the events of the first book as well as their personal loves, hates and wishes, makes this book a lot of fun to read.

And the cover is simply gorgeous.

Lord of the Fading Lands - Book Review

Well, a lot has happened since I last posted. I've moved, I've cut my hair short and a review I wrote has been quoted in the author's book! Here's the full review, though only the last line made the novel.

Lord of the Fading Lands
By: C. L. Wilson
If you enjoy the blend of romance and fantasy employed by LUNA books, then you will love this new book by Dorchester Publishing: Lord of the Fading Lands.
C.L. Wilson’s city of Celieria is impeccably detailed and populated with an interesting and yet wholly realistic cast of characters.
The Fey Truthspeaker is coming for her annual visit, and this year the Feyreisen, King of the Fey, is accompanying her. He is searching for the woman whom their oracle showed could save the dying tairen, magical winged cats, whose fates are intertwined with those of his people.
Little does he realize that this woman is his shei’tani, his soul-mate, and that she is already unwillingly betrothed to another. As if that weren’t enough, the Eld, mages and ancient enemy of the Fey, are plotting once more.
This debut will draw you into a magical weave of spirit and air that won’t release you until the last word is read.

If you want to see the rest of the reviews, check out the World's Biggest Bookstore's Sci-Fi Fan Letter here.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Unshapely Things - Book Review

Anyone who likes Jim Butcher's Dresden Files will love Mark Del Franco's debut novel, Unshapely Things. The book revolves around disabled druid Connor Gray, a man who wants to do more and be more than his currently magic crippled state allows. When his friend, Leo Morgan, a detective for the Boston PD, asks for his help on a case of murdered fairy prostitutes, he gets his wish.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Fan Expo 07

The World's Biggest Bookstore once again had a booth at this year's Fan Expo. We were in a much better location than last year with better stock, and so had a much busier show. It meant I wasn't able to browse as much myself, but hey, you have to live with small disappointments.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Before they Are Hanged - Joe Abercrombie

I simply can't get enough of Abercrombie's fantasy satire. I was going to take a short break from reading (as I've had to read several books in a short period and I wanted to get some writing done) but come on, Before They are Hanged? How can you resist a title like that? And the writing is as engaging and compelling as that of his first novel.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sleeping God - Book Review

Violette Malan has crafted another marvelous novel. This one (as opposed to Mirror Prince, her first) takes place entirely in a fantasy world. Dhulyn Wolfshead is a mercenary brother, Partnered to Parno Lionsmane, and a Marked Seer. Their story is captivating (I had trouble putting the book down to go to sleep and ended up reading a few extra hours). The country they travel through in this book is being turned against the Marked, persecuting and casting them out much the way the Nazi's did to the Jews before WWII. What makes the novel stand out, is that the propaganda is so well written you almost believe the priests that the Marked are evil, before being pulled back from the hysteria and seeing it for what it is. Misapplied logic. The ending is very satisfying, making you wonder how you missed predicting it.

The Blade Itself - Book Review

Alright, so I've finished The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. And boy was it ever a good read. My only complaint was that there was too much swearing. I know people think it's more 'realistic', but honestly, what's realistic about an old bald, bearded wizard mouthing off? Can you picture Gandolf asking what the S**t is wrong with kids nowadays? I can't. And really, the excessive use made the scenes where it would have added to the effect paler by comparison. Consider the lack of effect the one swear word in book 7 of Harry Potter would have had if we'd seen that character (or indeed any characters) swear excessively in that or earlier books. The line works so well that my roommate almost fell off the couch when she read it.

Still, if you want a phenomenal read, with gritty realism concerning magic, barbarian living and war (not to mention some delightfully hateful characters) than definitely pick up this book.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

World's Biggest Bookstore's Sci-Fi Fan Letter

The store's science fiction and fantasy newsletter I edit is now online! Visit it at www.scififanletter There you'll find all our back issues as well as photos from sci-fi related events in store. You'll also find links to various publishers' websites and a listing of books coming out next month. You can also sign up to have the newsletter emailed to you each month by sending a blank email to: Simply put 'subscribe' in the subject line and you're in.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Stardust - Movie Review

The movie has been dubbed the new Princess Bride. As someone who's read the story, I couldn't understand how this could be. The story is not at all humourous. It's about a young man who decides he will prove his love to a rather haughty young lady by bringing her a fallen star. Yet, the movie achieves a sort of delightfully evil slant that makes you laugh while at the same time makes you wonder if you really should be laughing. In other words, it's very British.

But most importantly, the movie stars Mark Strong as Septimus, one of several brothers sent to find the necklace that knocked the star out of the sky. And his performance is as masterful as the one he gave in the 1997 version of Emma when he played Mr. Knightley to perfection. It was quite a joy to be sitting in the theater and seeing him appear on screen. Especially when none of the ads for the film mention him (which is a crying shame).

The Slacker

Once again I've been slacking off. At least as far as this blog's concerned.
From now on I'll probably be changing the content of this site to what I'm currently reading at any given time. And as I read several books a week that should have me posting more often.

My current book is the Blade Itself, due out in September from Pyr books. I'm only a few chapters in so far, but the book is wonderful. (In a scary, twisted sort of way - you'll understand that when you read the book.)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Anne Bishop Event

Anne Bishop comes to the World's Biggest Bookstore for a reading from her new book Belladonna. And I got to meet her (and help set up the event). If you haven't already done so, check out her books!