Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Night Shade Books Sale!

Thanks go out to The Mad Hatter for bringing this sale to my attention and I thought I'd pass it along to anyone else who's reading this blog.

Here's the wording directly from Night Shade Books website:

It’s that time of year again, sale time at Night Shade Books. We’ve got a lot of big new titles coming in, and we need to clear space in a big way (and pay off a few print bills)! So for the next two weeks, from Wednesday, June 3 until midnight on Wednesday, June 17, we’re offering 50% off all in-stock and forthcoming* Night Shade books, with a four book minimum order.

This sale is a doozy and I've made full use of it. Picking up a ton of great books. You can check it out here

Need a few recommendations? Well alright I'm happy to oblige.

You can't go wrong with any of the novels by Glen Cook. Night Shade has an extensive selection of his work.

Likewise John Joseph Adam's anthologies The Wastelands and the Living Dead are both fantastic. Also he's got a new Vampire anthology coming out By Blood We Live and I'm guessing it'll be of the same high quality of his previous work.

Pump Six and Other Stories
by Paolo Bacigalupi is also excellent.

There's so much more so if you're interested in saving yourself some dough and picking up some great books give it a gander.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Review: Fevre Dream

Vampires on the great Mississippi River, who’d have thunk? George R.R. Martin, of course. Martin is a genius. He's able to take a genre in this instance Vampire Horror and reimagine it in a completely fresh and compelling way. Much like he did with his werewolf novella The Skin Trade Martin takes the vampire mythos and completely shatters it and then begins piecing it back together. That's all I want to say on that front as seeing how Martin twists the Vampire lore around is a huge part of the fun with this novel and I don't want to detract from your experience.

The novel is what we've come to expect from Martin as its littered with intriguing central characters with a plethora of supporting characters to bolster the story. The story focuses on our main protaginist; Abner Marsh the ugly, honorable, overweight Riverboatmen who's fallen on hard times. Then three main supporting characters: The mysterious, light skinned Joshua York. The enigmatic plantation owner and vampire Damon Julian. And lastly the riverboat herself the Fevre Dream.

From the beginning Martin hooks you as you can't help but enjoy the character of Abner Marsh. He's gruff and he's a straight shooter. He'll tell you what he thinks whether you want to hear it or not. He has a very interesting perspective and as I read the novel it was much like reading the Tyrion sections from ASoIaF. I couldn't wait to see what would happen to the character. How was Abner Marsh going to handle this situation or what would he say when confronted by a beautiful vampress. Abner Marsh is simply a phenominal character and then you have a host of supporting characters that are equally as fleshed out.

The characterization that Martin gives each person that inhabit his world is outstanding. A couple paragraph's of dialogue lend so much personality to characters you become totally immersed in the world that Martin has created.Martin must have done a great deal of research on Riverboats and the Mississippi River as the inner workings of the Riverboat felt realistic. Not only was there great detail about how a river boat functions, but the piloting, securing loads in various ports, the woodyards along the river where riverboats would stop to get more wood all contributed to the sense of immersion I felt as I read the story. Martin made me feel as if I was traveling on the Fevre Dream as we made our way down the Mississippi.

Never was there a dull moment where I had to slog through a portion of the story it flowed; like the Mississippi River unrestrained and free. This is truly a fantastic novel and its made me want to do more research on riverboats as I'm fascinated by the entire subject now.

Get your hands on a copy of this novel.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

June Releases I'm Excited About

With May winding down and June quickly approaching I thought I'd share with you the new releases that I'm excited about. These four books are all ones that I'll be picking up upon their release.

An Empire Unacquainted with Defeat by Glen Cook
Release Date:
TBD (Preorders are shipping at the moment so shouldn't be long before anyone can get their hands on a copy.)

I've been looking forward to the release of this book for months now. I preordered my copy back in February and my credit card was just charged yesterday so think its on its way. (Fingers Crossed)

This book collects of all the short fiction set in the Dread Empire along with a brand new story from Cook entitled "Hell's Forge." Apparently it's a story of haunted pirates in far off lands. Arrrrr! Can't wait to read the pirate's tale and catch up with my old friends Mocker and Bragi.

Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton
Release Date: June 5, 2009 (UK Only Release)

This book is the current belle of the blogosphre in that it's the pretty girl that everyone seems to have a crush on. This book has garned so many rave reviews I'm in a fever pitch to get my hands on it. Unfortunately for us in the good ole' USA its only going to see a U.K. release.

Fortunately we live in the Internet Age and can get our hands on anything we want. Including The Nights of Villjamur. I've already preordered my copy from Have you?

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Release Date: June 16, 2009

The Angel's Game is Zafon's follow-up to The Shadow of the Wind. This one is a no brainer for me. With the Shadow of the Wind Zafon crated an amazing story that I recommend everyone reading (immediately!)

It appears that this novel will loosely follow the events of Shadow of the Wind with the story happening a few years down the road featuring a new cast of characters. If it's even 50% as good as the Shadow of the Wind I'm going to love it.

Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd Century America by Robert Charles Wilson
Release Date: June 23, 2009

Lastly that brings us to Robert Charles Wilson's Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd Century America. In my review of Julian: A Christmas Story I noted how the novella felt like a chapter in an overall larger biographical work and this my friends is that larger biographical work. It'll be interesting to see how Wilson expands the story. For those of you who haven't read the original its narrative is almost Twain-like in its delivery and the alternate history that Wilson has created is fascinating.

Nice how the release dates worked out. Leaves me with roughly one new book a week.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Impressions of Postscripts 18

Impressions aren't a review per say rather just some thoughts on what I've been reading. Impressions will usually consist of a cluster of short stories seeing as I usually read short stories in spurts between novels. I feel this will be a good way to get my thoughts down and more digestible for you the reader.Postscripts 18: This is the Summer of Love from PS Publishing focuses on some newcomers to the field of Speculative Fiction. For the most part these authors are unknown to me and as far as I know the public at large. It's always a treat discovering new authors and so far I've only read three stories but I've already found an author who I think is great. So without further adieu let me give you my impressions of the stories I've read so far.

In the Porches of My Ears by Norman Prentiss

The first story of the anthology touches upon a pet peeve of mine and that is people who talk in the movie theater. Apparently the author has just as much distaste for the act as I do; however he puts a nice spin on it here as the person doing the talking is describing the movie to her blind husband. Seated directly behind the couple what do you do? Get up and move? Remain seated and have the movie ruined for you? A difficult position to be put in.

There's some nice paranormal activity added into the story but I wasn't overly impressed with it. I'd say its fairly mediocre.

Horses by Livia Llewellyn

I skipped this story for the moment as the premise didn't grab me. I'll read it at a later time or then again maybe not.

The Wages of Salt by Deborah Kalin

Set in a Desert Dystopia an archeoligist and her crew dig up something that should have remained buried. That's all I'll say as far as the story's plot goes but this one is worth the price of admission alone. Kalin from the first paragraph brought me into this world she's created and I'll be honest; I'm feinding for more. I've already read the story twice now and I want, no I need more. Can't wait to get my hands on some more material by this author.

Shem-El-Nessim by Chris Bell

As a child I loved everything about Egypt. The Pharoahs, The Mythology, The Mummies the Pyramids I was fascinated by all of it. Chris Bell has done a great job of capturing the essence of everything I loved as a child and putting it in an adult context. The central focus of the plot revolves around a mysterious fragerance and a haunting woman which leads our protagnist to Egypt. Another exceptional story.

Well that's all for these impressions look for another one of these in a week or two after I've got some more short stories under my belt.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Collector's Corner: Some Recent Pick-Ups

Huge Lot of Glen Cook Books

It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that I'm a huge fan of Glen Cook. So when I saw this huge lot of Cook novels up for auction on eBay I couldn't pass it up. I placed my bid and kept my fingers crossed and for once no one sniped me on the auction at the last second.

So for $45 shipped I received all the novels you see above. Some good books there especially a few of Cook's stand alone novels such as The Tower of Fear, Passage At Arms, The Sword Bearer and The first three novels in The Dread Empire series along with the entire run of The Black Company.

You read that correctly the entire run of the Black Company! Including the very rare Bleak Seasons and She is the Darkness. These are the hard cover copies complete with dust jacket both in Near Fine condition.

Each book cost me roughly $2.65 which I couldn't be happier about seeing as:

The Softcover edition of Bleak Seasons is selling for an average of $23:

Completed eBay listings for Bleak Seasons

And the softcover edition of She is the Darkness is selling for between $50 and $60:

Completed eBay listings for She is the Darkness

Gunpowder by Joe Hill (Signed Jacked Hardcover, Limited edition #91/300)

Joe Hill has made quite a name for himself in a short amount of time so I was looking forward to checking out some of his work. Unfortunately for me by the time I became aware of Gunpowder released by PS Publishing it was out of print prior to publication. So with the books huge popularity sellers were and still are asking exorbitant prices for it. Luckily one popped up at auction and I won it for $45. (OH YEAH!) So it's currently sitting on my shelf besides its PS brethren.

Brasyl by Ian McDonald (1st Edition/1st Printing)

I've heard so many good things about Ian McDonald's River of the Gods and Brasyl I had to get copies of both. (I just had to.) Picked up the beauty above for an even 20 bones.

The Reef by Mark Charan Newton (Signed, Dated, Lined with a Quote, Doodled. THEN signed, dated doodled by the cover artis
ts Darius Sinks.) So basically this is The Reef: Everything But the Kitchen Sink Editon.

Sometimes as collector's we have to throw caution to the wind and just go with our gut and my gut was telling me to pick up this book. After reading The Fantasy Book Critic's interview with Netwon where I learned that his first novel was not in fact Nights of Villajmur but rather The Reef which was released in March 2008 by a small publisher in Britain known as Pendragon Press it became my quest to track down a copy of this novel.

At the beginning of my quest I had no idea it would end with me shelling out a substantial amount of quid in order to get my hands on a copy.

The Reef has a supposed print run of only 300 copies. With the upcoming release of Nights of Villajmur one would think Pendragon Press would begin to print more copies however at this time the publisher is saying there are no plans at this time to print more.

The copy pictured above is one of only 26 Lettered Editions. (I got "D" if anyone is interested.) However this seller is claiming that he was the one that personally commissioned the lettered editions and there are also two more copies (One for the prologue and one for the epilogue.) So that would make 28 Lettered Editions. I have no reason to doubt this seller as he has superlative feedback on a number of other books.

The copy he's selling however is priced much higher than what I paid for mine. I purchased mine for $85 which included shipping from the U.K. A hefty sum no doubt, but one I feel is worth it to add such a unique book to my collection.

So what have you picked up this week? I always love to hear about what other readers/collectors are adding to their collection.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Review: The House of the Stag

The House of the Stag by Kage Baker knocked me out with its one two combination of humor and world building. Previous to finding this book on the shelves of my local library it wasn’t just below my radar it wasn’t even a blip. As I scanned the titles of the novels in hopes of finding Baker’s Gardens of Iden the title The House of the Stag jumped out at me. So I took it down off the shelf and read the blurb:

It begins with a tragedy. Before the Riders came to their remote valley, the Yendri led a tranquil pastoral life. When the Riders conquered and enslaved them, just a few escaped to the forests. Only one of them possessed the necessary rage to fight back: Gard the foundling, half-demon, began a one man guerilla war against the riders. But his struggle ended in the loss of the family he loved and condemnation from his own people.

I was sold. Sitting down in my lazy boy recliner and cracking the cover I didn’t quite know what to expect and sometimes it’s the unexpected that turns out to be just what I was looking for.

From the beginning the story seems to draw influence from of all books; The Bible. In the beginning the Yendri live in a Garden of Eden environment content to live out their days in harmony with nature. Unfortunately this harmony is shattered when the Riders appear and enslave the Yendri and ravish the land

Other similarities exist as well. Cain and Abel is revisited in the form of Gard and his brother Ranwyr, The Beloved in a Moses type role, Lendreth in the role of Joshua and even a foretold savior that will arrive to deliver the Yendri from their enslavement.

Along with the biblical motifs Baker also mixes in quite a bit of primitive mythology and in turn creates a unique mythos for her world. The world Baker creates will look vaguely familiar; like someone you went to high school with who has had some work done. Baker offers the fantasy genre a face lift with numerous fresh ideas.

The concept of The Mountain in the second section of the book is wholly unique to any fantasy I’ve read. Also the way she handles the race of demons is exceptional and completely different than any demons I’ve ever come across. (in the pages of a book.)

Along with these fresh ideas Baker infuses the story with humor throughout. She takes more than a few shots at the Fantasy Genre in particular. You can’t help but smile when you see the Theatre company perform variations of The Great Theme time after time. Each play is just like the one before in much the same way many Epic Fantasies are derivative of each other.

With this humor and a number of fresh ideas The House of the Stag was an unexpected surprise for me and one that I hope many others will take the time to search out along with its predecessor The Anvil of the World.

The House of the Stag is truly a unique book and to me feels like several different novellas collected into one book and that’s not a knock on it at all. Each section of the book has its own “feel” which makes for a very pleasurable reading experience.


You'd have to pay me to finish: The Caryatids by Bruce Sterling

This book is not good. Not good at all. You'd have to pay me to finish this novel.

How much?

About $60.00