I'm about 250 pages into this one, and for quite a while it was more of the same as the first two volumes. But the author recently added a little scifi twist to one of the storylines and all of a sudden I'm hooked! Hopefully it will last... =)
You can now download Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus for only 4.99$ here.
Here's the blurb:
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.
Given the enormous size of his novels, I had always wondered if Brandon Sanderson could write good short fiction. Considering just how bloated his latest works were, I doubted that short stories and novellas could be a format that he would be comfortable with. And yet, his Legion novella turned out to be the opening chapter of what I felt could be Sanderson's most fascinating creation yet. Some say that good things come in small packages and in this case they were absolutely right!
So when the sequel, Legion: Skin Deep, was part of a Subpress package I recently picked up at the post office, I knew I was giving this one a shot ASAP!
Here's the blurb:
Brandon Sanderson is one of the most significant fantasists to enter the field in a good many years. His ambitious, multi-volume epics (Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive) and his stellar continuation of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series have earned both critical acclaim and a substantial popular following. In Legion, a short, distinctly contemporary novella filled with suspense, humor, and an endless flow of invention, Sanderson revealed a startling new facet of his singular narrative talent. In the stunning sequel, Legion: Skin Deep, that talent is on full display. Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion,” is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the new story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are hired by I3 (Innovative Information Incorporated) to recover a corpse stolen from the local morgue. But there’s a catch. The corpse is that of a pioneer in the field of experimental biotechnology, a man whose work concerned the use of the human body as a massive storage device. He may have embedded something in the cells of his now dead body. And that something might be dangerous… What follows is a visionary thriller about the potential uses of technology, the mysteries of the human personality, and the ancient human need to believe that death is not the end. Legion: Skin Deep is speculative fiction at it most highly developed. It reaffirms Sanderson’s place as one of contemporary fiction’s most intelligent—and unpredictable—voices. Legion: Skin Deep will feature a full-color dust jacket, and two full-page, full-color interior illustrations by Jon Foster. In addition, upon publication, everyone who has preordered Legion: Skin Deep direct from SubPress will receive a free copy of the ebook.
It was with pleasure that I got reacquainted with the main protagonist, Stephen Leeds. The man suffers or benefits from a very strange mental condition. He has the ability to create a variety of hallucinations possessing a vast array of personalities and skills. These personae live with Leeds and continue to help/hinder him as he attempts to live a life as normal as a man with such a mental condition can hope for. While reading the first novella, I was afraid that having to deal with multiple personalities would be tricky, but Sanderson pulled it off with aplomb. Indeed, this is what gave Legion such a unique flavor. And the author pushes the envelope even more by introducing yet more hallucinatory men and women to help Leeds crack this new case. Somehow, he pulls it off again and Legion: Skin Deep is even more ambitious than its predecessor.
The first person narrative of Stephen Leeds continues to be what makes these novellas so special. Witnessing events unfold through Leeds'e eyes allows readers to get better acquainted with the various hallucinatory personae, which is a real treat. The decidedly thought-provoking premise, that the human body and its cells can be used as vast receptacles to store information, leads Sanderson to explore the potential use of biotechnology and its repercussions. Which makes for a very interesting read.
The novella format keeps the pace moving briskly. Even if it is more than twice as long as its predecessor, all too quickly we reach the end of Legion: Skin Deep, hoping that there is more to come. Once more, there is a lot more depth than meets the eye, and it is evident that the Legion novellas will doubtless be an engrossing and entertaining series. Brandon Sanderson remains ambitious as ever, even if with a novella he couldn't work with the sort of scope he is used to with novel-length projects.
Once again, I find myself hoping that we'll have the opportunity to discover more about Stephen Leeds and his hallucinations in the near future, and that those new adventures will also be in the form of short stories or novellas. The strictures of writing short fiction forces Sanderson to write with a much tighter focus, which makes for a more satisfying reading experience. The author has a tendency to concentrate on extraneous plotlines that don't always have much importance in the greater scheme of things. These meandering storylines habitually kill the flow of a novel and are often just filler material. Not so in Legion: Skin Deep. The format insures that it's mostly killer and no filler.
Legion: Skin Deep will please Sanderson's legions (Sorry for the same pun again. I couldn't resist!) of fans and will probably gain him some new followers. God knows I'm looking forward to what comes next!
The final verdict: 7.75/10
For more info about this title, check out the Subterranean Press website.
For those interested in these novellas, you can still download the first one, Legion, for only 2.99$ here.
For a limited time only, you can download The Best Horror of the Year, volume 4, edited by Ellen Datlow, for only 1.99$ here.
Here's the blurb:
The first three volumes of The Best Horror of the Year have been widely praised for their quality, variety, and comprehensiveness. With tales from Laird Barron, Stephen King, John Langan, Peter Straub, and many others, and featuring Datlow’s comprehensive overview of the year in horror, now, more than ever, The Best Horror of the Year provides the petrifying horror fiction readers have come to expect—and enjoy.
You can now download Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas for only 1.99$ here.
Here's the blurb:
Now a major motion picture starring Anton Yelchin, Willem Dafoe, and Addison Timlin, and directed by Stephen Sommers. NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Dean Koontz's The City. “The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Meet Odd Thomas, the unassuming young hero of Dean Koontz’s dazzling New York Times bestseller, a gallant sentinel at the crossroads of life and death who offers up his heart in these pages and will forever capture yours. Sometimes the silent souls who seek out Odd want justice. Occasionally their otherworldly tips help him prevent a crime. But this time it’s different. A stranger comes to Pico Mundo, accompanied by a horde of hyena-like shades who herald an imminent catastrophe. Aided by his soul mate, Stormy Llewellyn, and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, Odd will race against time to thwart the gathering evil. His account of these shattering hours, in which past and present, fate and destiny, converge, is a testament by which to live—an unforgettable fable for our time destined to rank among Dean Koontz’s most enduring works.
I have an autographed copy of Tad Williams' Sleeping Late on Judgement Day up for grabs, compliments of the author himself! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.
Here's the blurb:
Where does an angel go when he’s been to Hell and back? Renegade angel Bobby Dollar does not have an easy afterlife. After surviving the myriad gruesome dangers Hell oh-so-kindly offered him, Bobby has returned empty-handed – his demon girlfriend Casmira, the Countess of Cold Hands, is still in the clutches of Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell. Some hell of a rescue. Forced to admit his failure, Bobby ends up back at his job as an angel advocate. That is, until Walter, an old angel friend whom Bobby never thought he’d see again, shows up at the local bar. The last time he saw Walter was in Hell, when Walter had tried to warn him about one of Bobby’s angel superiors. But now Walter can’t remember anything, and Bobby doesn’t know whom to trust. Turns out that there’s corruption hidden within the higher ranks of Heaven and Hell, but the only proof Bobby has is a single feather. Before he knows it, he’s in the High Hall of Heavenly Judgement – no longer a bastion for the moral high ground, if it ever was, but instead just another rigged system – on trial for his immortal soul… Sleeping Late on Judgement Day is the third installment of Tad Williams’ urban fantasy Bobby Dollar series!
The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "JUDGEMENT DAY." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.
Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.
Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.
I first read William Gibson's Neuromancer when I was a teenager more than 25 years ago. Other than a few vague images imprinted inside my brain, I'm afraid that I almost forgot everything about it and I've been meaning to give it another shot for a long time. I bought a copy of the mass market paperback last year and I felt that it was time to finally give it a go. To see if I would enjoy it as much as my adolescent self, of course, but mostly to see if this science fiction classic had aged well and could still amaze a new generation of SFF readers.
As was the case when I reread James Clavell's Shogun, I was afraid that it wouldn't live up to the lofty expectations associated with such a seminal work. After all, Neuromancer sold millions of copies and earned Gibson the science-fiction "triple crown" by winning the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award. It was the very first novel to win all three awards. But that was in 1984. Would it be as good thirty years down the line?
Here's the blurb:
The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus-hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace . . . Case had been the sharpest data-thief in the business, until vengeful former employees crippled his nervous system. But now a new and very mysterious employer recruits him for a last-chance run. The target: an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister Tessier-Ashpool business clan. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case embarks on an adventure that ups the ante on an entire genre of fiction. Hotwired to the leading edges of art and technology, Neuromancer ranks with 1984 and Brave New World as one of the century’s most potent visions of the future.
William Gibson popularised the concept of cyberspace and even coined the word. Gibson's debut also launched the cyberpunk subgenre.Thirty years ago, the idea of a junkie-hacker forced to hack the computer system of a major corporation was something edgy. What was so futuristic in 1984 now sounds incredibly familiar, right? Which goes to prove just how avant-gardeNeuromancer was when it was initially released. Three decades later, Gibson's vision of the future may not be as noir, but it is quite recognizable in several aspects of our lives.
The author's prose creates a vividly realized imagery. That, as much as the plot itself, makes Neuromancer such an unforgettable read. Caught stealing from his last employer, Case, the main protagonist, found himself with a crippled nervous system preventing him from accessing the Matrix. Unemployed, addicted to hard drugs, and suicidal, Case desperately searches for a miracle cure in various illegal clinics. Case is saved by Molly, an augmented mercenary for a mysterious ex-military officer known as Armitage. The man offers to cure Case in exchange for his services as a hacker. What follows is the kind of rollercoaster ride that captured the imagination of a generation of genre readers.
Case, drug addict, douchebag, and cyberspace hacker, is the book's anti-hero. He forms an unlikely duo with Molly, a Razorgirl with extensive cybernetic modifications. Blackmailed and with his death assured if he doesn't follow Armitage's orders, Case has no choice to to go along with the other man's schemes. But it soon appears that Wintermute, a powerful artificial intelligence created by the Tessier-Ashpool family, is in control. Soon, Case and Molly find themselves in something that could change the world forever. The supporting cast don't always play a major role as the story progresses, and yet Neuromancer would never have been such a memorable read without the presence of characters such as the Finn, Dixie Flatline, Maelcum, and Peter Riviera.
The pace is brisk throughout. The relatively short and quick chapters keep the plot moving forward, often at breakneck speed. Weighing in at only 271 pages, one gets through Neuromancer in no time. The vivid setting, the disparate characters, and the rhythm make this novel a true page-turner! Neuromancer may have been published in 1984, yet William Gibson's debut is still a thoroughly enjoyable book today, even if it may not be as edgy and prophetic as it was thirty years ago.
Give it a shot and see why it remained in print for three decades and has astonished countless readers around the world!
You can now download Karen Miller's latest novel, The Falcon Throne, for only 2.99$ here.
Here's the blurb:
WHEN KINGDOMS CLASH, EVERY CROWN WILL BE TARNISHED BY THE BLOODY PRICE OF AMBITION. A bastard lord leads a rebellion against his tyrant king -- and must live with the consequences of victory. A royal widow plots to win her daughter's freedom from the ambitious lords who would control them both. An orphaned prince sets his eyes on regaining his father's stolen throne. And two brothers, divided by ambition, will learn that the greater the power, the more dangerous the game. A masterful tale of the thirst for power and the cost of betrayal. Epic fantasy at its bloodiest, action-packed best.
You can now download Charlie N. Holmberg's The Paper Magician for only 4.99$ here.
Here's the blurb:
Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever. Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic. An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man. From the imaginative mind of debut author Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician is an extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that will delight readers of all ages.
You can now download Ania Ahlborn's The Neighbors for only 3.99$ here.
Here's the blurb:
Andrew Morrison sacrificed everything—his childhood, his education, and the girl of his dreams—to look after his alcoholic mother. But enough is enough, and now he’s determined to get out and live his life. That means trading the home he grew up in for a rented room in the house of an old childhood friend—both of which are in sorry shape. The only thing worse than Drew’s squalid new digs and sullen new roommate is the envy he feels for the house next door: a picture-perfect suburban domicile straight out of Norman Rockwell, with a couple of happy householders to match. But the better acquainted he gets with his new neighbors—especially the sweet and sexy Harlow Ward—the more he suspects unspeakable darkness beyond the white picket fence. At the intersection of Blue Velvet and Basic Instinct lies The Neighbors, an insidiously entertaining tale of psychological suspense and mounting terror by the boldest new master of the form, Ania Ahlborn.
Every week or so, I receive random emails and messages from SFF fans requesting recommendations regarding what to read next. Most of them ask me about finished series or stand-alone novels, hopefully available in paperback or ebook formats.
So again, here's my old list of the usual suspects: