Review: Tarnished Knight (Lost Stars) by Jack Campbell

Tarnished Knight (The Lost Stars)
Jack Campbell
Audible Frontiers, 2012

Tarnished Knight  marks the first book outside of Jack Campbell’s two Lost Fleet series. Part of a new subseries entitled The Lost StarsThe Tarnished Knight, is Campbells first work to feature protagonists not from the Alliance worlds. Picking just before the Alliance fleet arrives in the Midway star system (I believe it was in Dreadnaught) this novel features two former Syndicate CEOs Artur Drakon, and Gwen Iceni. The two CEOs, having formed a tenuous alliance, have hatched a plan to overthrow the Syndicate security forces in their system and take control of Midway. Assuming you’ve read Dreadnaught you know that their initial coup succeeds but Tarnished Knight delves deeper into the shaky alliance between these two individuals and the actions they had to take to ensure the safety of the people of Midway and the strength of their own positions.

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Review: The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper

The Demonologist
Andrew Pyper
Simon and Schuster, 2013

Andrew Pyper’s The Demonologist is one of the books that I really hoped I would love. A supernatural thriller/horror novel  targeted a general audiences its press material initially put me off due to its comparisons with The Historian a novel whose nostalgia drenched narrative felt more like a travelogue than a horror novel. Pyper’s novel never comes even close to a similar level of eye rolling nostalgia and manages to tell a passably good story along the way. The story of The Demonologist centers around Milton and Paradise Lost expert Professer David Ullman whose unique knowledge of Milton’s most famous work made him famous and seen him consult on some rather fascinating cases in the past. A mysterious offer to visit Italy offers Dr. Ullman and his daughter a chance to escape his impending divorce and offer them a chance to bond. Ullman’s experience in Italy tests the bounds of his skepticism and the seeming suicide of his daughter sends him on a quest to rescue her from the clutches of beings who Ullman has spent his life believing don’t exist.

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Review: The Bones of the Old Ones by Howard Andrew Jones

The Bones of the Old Ones
Howard Andrew Jones
Thomas Dunne, 2013

Howard Andrew Jones’ debut novel The Desert of Souls was one of my favorite novels of 2011. The Bones of the Old Ones , released just this January , takes up bare months after the first novel left off.  Asim and Dabir have taken up positions in the city of Mosul and as an uncanny cold grips the desert city the two long time friends find themselves called to action once more this time to aid the mysterious Najya; a woman hunted by a cabal of ancient sorcerer-assassins. The Bones of the Old Ones, even more than in Jones’ first novel, is a pure and unadulterated Swords and Sorcery novel.

Featuring mysterious magicians, a beautiful woman in danger, and two very human yet extraordinarily capable heroes The Bones of the Old One rockets forth at breakneck pace barely pausing for a breath as our two hero manage to stay a hairsbreadth ahead of the villains. Whereas the first novel saw Jones taking time to introduce our Asim and Dabir he all but disposes of that formality here spending what felt like a very brief chapter reacquainting readers with the two protagonists before thrusting them into danger.

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Review: A Guile of Dragons by James Enge

A Guile of Dragons by James Enge
A Guile of Dragons by James Enge

A Guile of Dragons (A Tournament of Shadows #1)
James Enge
Pyr, 2012

A Guile of Dragons by James Enge features the return of Morlock Ambrosius though not in quite the same way as the previous novel, The Wolf Age. I rather loved the The Wolf Age with the fantastic character of Morlock and an original and fascinating setting it was a high water mark for the first three Morlock novels. A Guile of Dragons takes things back to the start detailing the birth and rise of Morlock Ambrosius and marks the beginning of a new serious of Morlock novels.

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Yes, I’m still alive.

I apparently forgot to post about my vacation last week.  Oops.  Well, I’m back now and I’ve got a couple of reviews to work on.  It was a fairly product vacation reading wise (I may have hoped for the sun and blue skies, but I will not complain too loudly about some rain) so expect to see reviews of these titles in the coming week or two:

A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin (a lot to process on this one)

The Ghosts of Watt O’Hugh by Steven S. Drachman

Ashes of the Earth by Eliot Patterson

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

Not quite done but will be soon: Ghost Story (audio) by Jim Butcher



Unofficial, Impromptu, Unintentded: Welcome to Cherie Priest Week

So the fact that I finished Bloodshot last week, and listened through the audio version of Clementine means I’ve decided to give over this week to Cherie Priest titles.  I’ve snagged Dreadnought as well and will hopefully be finishing that novel soon (especially since I decided to make this all “official” and what not)!   For those unfamiliar with Cherie Priest feel free to check out some of my earlier reviews of her work:

Fathom (Strong narrative drive combined with a fascinating use of combined and borrowed mythologies makes for an entertaining modern day fantasy.)

Those Who Went Remain There Still (Still my favorite Priest work. Should be available digitally now. A novel about home and the, sometimes literal, monsters that reside there.)

Boneshaker (The first Clockwork Century novel with strong characters in a vivid alt-history Steampunk zombie-filled version of a downtrodden 19th century Seattle.)

One day I’ll get around to reading the Eden Moore novels (Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Wings to the Kingdom, and Not Flesh For Feathers) as well as Dreadful Skin.   Both  Eden Moore (a horror influenced, paranormal tinged southern gothic series) and Dreadful Skin (about a nun tracking down a werewolf during the Civil War)  sound right up my ally.  This time out though I’ll be sticking to her newer work.  For those new to Cherie Priest you can find her on the web either on her own site or via her twitter account.

Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
N. K. Jemisin
Orbit, 2010

Yes, I know things have been a bit sparse here as of late.  December is always a bit of a rough month between holiday related obligations and two jobs I tend to be split a bit thin and, during the free time I do have, tend be a little bit exhausted.  Thankfully, I have been able to sit down for enough time read several books though finding the time to write about them hasn’t been easy.  I actually managed to read through The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in about three days or so which was a surprise because in truth I really hadn’t even expected to start reading the book.

What sold me on the novel wasn’t the back of the book, or the multitude of good reviews it has received but rather the single opening sentence from Brent Weeks’s (the Night Angel Trilogy, The Black Prism) review of it Goodreads: “What if gods were real…and walked among us…enslaved…and were used as weapons…and were really pissed off about it?”  That sounded pretty cool to me.  In fact, it reminded a little of Scalzi’s The God Engines; a novella I quite enjoyed.

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A(nother) Whiny Rant Wondering Where All the New Horror Books Are

Ok, there will be a review up later, in the meantime “enjoy” this whiny semi-coherent rant.

Last year, when doing my October month of horror fiction (and likely at least once before that) I’ve mentioned the difficulty I’ve had in finding and locating new and interesting horror fiction. While my reading has been slow this month I struggled again this year in trying to track down horror fiction to read. In the course of my brief and hardly comprehensive search for new fiction of the supernatural and macabre I’ve still struggled to find titles.

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Serendipitous Find: Aurorama

Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat
Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat

Despite being a member of sff blogging community, spending more time then I probably should flipping around goodreads and (less frequently) librarything, the fact that I work in (and buy books for) a library, and that I occasionally moonlight on the sales floor of a major bookstore I still somehow manage to miss interesting titles before they hit the shelves.  Such is the case when, browinsing the new sff titles at the bookstore while on my 15 minute break at the bookstore I stumbled across Jean-Cristophe Valtat’s Aurorama tucked away out-of-sight on the bottom shelf.  Take a look at the blurb:

1908: New Venice—”the pearl of the Arctic”—a place of ice palaces and pneumatic tubes, of beautifully ornate carriage-sleds and elegant victorian garb, of long nights and vistas of ice.

But as the city prepares for spring, it feels more like qaartsiluni, “the time when something is about to explode in the dark.” Local “poletics” are wracked by tensions with the Eskimos circling the city, with suffragette riots led by an underground music star, with drug round-ups by the secret police force known as the Gentlemen of the Night. An ominous black airship hovers over the city, and the Gentlemen are hunting for the author of a radical pamphlet calling for revolt.

Their lead suspect is Brentford Orsini, one of the city’s most prominent figures. But as the Gentlemen of the Night tighten the net around him, Orsini receives a mysterious message from a long-lost love that compels him to act.

What transpires is a literary adventure novel unlike anything you’ve ever read before. Brilliant in its conception, masterful in its prose, thrilling in its plot twists, and laced with humor, suspense, and intelligence, it marks the beginning of a great new series of books set in New Venice-and the launch of an astonishing new writer.

Sounds neat right? Melville House did a pretty nifty job with the jacket design with some gorgeous cover (and a nice map, you’ve  gotta love maps).  Of course, there is no buzz whatsoever on the internet at the moment; at least so far as I can find.  Even LocusMag pointed towards only a single review over in The National.  This was a definite impulse by, though I ended up with the nook version rather than the print version.  I don’t know when I’ll get around to reading it but I’m certainly looking forward to doing so.  If it sounds like something you might be interested in go ahead and give it a try.

Note: Going along with the steampunk theme there will be a launch party at the Clover Club in Brooklyn on Sept. 24.

Review: The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

The Ghost Brigades
John Scalzi
Tor, 2006

I tore through The Ghost Brigades, sequel to Old Man’s War, on a Friday evening and found it as engrossing and entertaining as its progenitor.  The Ghost Brigades focuses on the the titular soldiers, the elite special forces charged with the defense of the colonies and whose bodies are created out of the DNA of the dead who receive the experimental edge of enhancements from the military they serve.  Born as adults the average special forces soldier isn’t more then a couple of years old, born as adults but with personality to speak of their reliance on their BrainPals as a form of communication isolates them from regular troops and keeps them apart from the rest of humanity.

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