Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Memory Lane: "Sourcery" by Terry Pratchett

This has been a very strange year for me. I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten through August of a year only having read about a half-dozen books. Certainly it hasn’t happened in the last 30 years or so. I really can’t say what’s made it that way. I find myself at another one of those strange turns in life, but I’m used to those now, and I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve read outside of a few DNFs.

The general funk around my reading this year, though, made me decide it was time to dive back into my Discworld re-read, and just my luck, I was at the book that started it all, “Sourcery” ($9.99, Harper).

During my college years, I was a regular at several local used book stores. I didn’t have the money for new books, but I could drop a dollar or two on a used one. Most of the stores around here gave you credit for the type of book you traded – fantasy/SF could only be traded for fantasy/SF, for example – but then I found one that traded for anything. I collected boxes of romance novels that my older female relatives had laying around, westerns from a grandfather and anything else that I could find and built a huge pile of credit there.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Review: "Summerland" by Hannu Rajaniemi

Hannu Rajaniemi’s “Summerland” ($25.99, Tor) proved an unusual read for me in more ways than one.

In 1930s Europe, no one fears death anymore. At least not if they have a Ticket to Summerland. Not only do the living know about the afterlife in Rajaniemi’s alternate history, but they can communicate with people there, and the dead can visit the world of the living whenever they want through mediums and other means.

It’s no surprise, then, that the European powers of the time would wrangle over control of the world of the dead, just as they do the world of the living.

Rachel White is a good, but dissatisfied SIS agent with the British Empire. As a woman in the 1930s, she doesn’t get the respect of her fellow agents or superiors, no matter how good her work. Then she learns of a Soviet mole in Summerland. Instead of being put on the case, she’s removed from her position and placed in an accounting position.

But with the possible fate of the afterlife on the line, Rachel isn’t going to give up the chase.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Review: "Orconomics" by J. Zachary Pike

As you may have noticed if you visit this site occasionally, my reading has been pretty slow this year. I’m only averaging about one book per month, and May was the first month in my memory that I didn’t finish one at all. There are a few DNFs in the mix, but despite there being new books by some authors I really like that I haven’t gotten to yet, I’ve been in a bit of a slump.

Then I stumbled across J. Zachary Pike’s “Orconomics” ($13.99, Gnomish Press). After getting a few chuckles out of the sample, I still wasn’t sure about it, but the book turned out to be just what I needed.

Gorm Ingerson is a disgraced professional hero. Once known as the Pyrebeard, he was one of the most feared berserkers in the game. Then, a raid on a necromancer’s stronghold went south. He was stripped of his rank, and now wakes up drunk in a ditch most every day. That is until, quite accidentally, he befriends a goblin. He sets out to get the goblin his NPC papers (making him off limits for heroes to claim a bounty). That move sets Gorm on a world-changing path.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Review: "Where Loyalties Lie" by Rob J. Hayes

I start my dive into the most recent Self Published Fantasy Blog Off finalists with the book currently sitting in the lead by a slim margin, Rob J. Hayes’ “Where Loyalties Lie.”

Keelin Stillwater is not your typical pirate captain. Drawn into the lifestyle by swashbuckling tales, he’s found it quite different than he expected, but he’s risen through the ranks due to his own cunning and commitment. He prefers to avoid bloodshed when possible, which doesn’t always sit well with his crew, and he has his own agenda in the pirate trade.

His relationship with his sometimes lover Elaina Black is even more complicated than the one with his crew. For one thing, his ship, The Phoenix, was stolen from her, which her father, the bloodthirsty and cruel captain Tanner Black, views as an offense that can only be answered with Keelin’s death.

Then there’s Drake Morass, a legendary rogue and sworn enemy of the Blacks, who has designs on setting himself up as the king of the pirates, but he needs Keelin’s help to do it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Review: "Child of a Mad God" by R.A. Salvatore

If you’d asked me 15 years ago who my favorite authors were, R.A. Salvatore would have been near the top of the list. One of the highlights of my early entertainment writing career was chatting with Salvatore about his dark elf hero Drizzt Do’Urden, his task of killing Chewbacca in the now uncanonized Star Wars novels and various other projects.

Times change, though. Drizzt, who first brought me to Salvatore’s work, outlived my interest in him, his adventures getting a bit stale. I also never truly got into the Demon Wars saga the way that I connected with the dark elf books. Looking back through my reviews, it appears that it’s been about 14 years since I’ve read anything by Salvatore, that being a re-read of one of the earlier Dark Elf novels.

I was intrigued a month or so ago when presented with “Child of a Mad God” ($25.99, Tor), the first in a new series by Salvatore, and decided to give it a shot.

I was initially disappointed to discover that this was not a completely new project and was set in his Demon Wars world of Corona. Perhaps it was that, which led me to not be incredibly interested in the early going. Then, I met the young girl named Aoleyn, and the book turned around for me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Review: "Assassin's Fate" by Robin Hobb

Since I suspect it will be my last trip with FitzChivalry Farseer, I put off reading Robin Hobb’s “Assassin’s Fate” ($32, Del Rey). Then, when I finally began, I took it slowly to savor this last journey.

Fitz and the Fool, masquerading in his Amber character, open the story in the Rain Wilds, on their journey to avenge the death of Fitz’s daughter Bee at the hands of the Servants of Clerres. Ravaged by grief, Fitz plans to bring the city down around its prophets and go out in a blaze of glory.

Unbeknownst to our favorite assassin, though, Bee is still alive. She’s held captive by a Servant named Dwalia and her minion Vindeliar, who can control minds. Dwalia is convinced that Fitz’s daughter is the Unexpected Son of prophecy, and she must bring her to Clerres to wring secrets from her and regain her standing among the Servants. Bee believes that her father has given up on her and put the Fool ahead of her. She’s beaten and abused, but not broken.

Meanwhile, as he usually does, the Fool is playing his own game in addition to helping Fitz seek revenge.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

My favorite reads of 2017

I had a lot going on in the latter quarter of the year that led me to slack off a bit in my reading, but it was still a pretty good year.

It was a year of discovering new voices for me. At least three quarters of the books that I read were by authors that I had not read before – some brand new, and at least one a classic author that I’d never given a shot. A few of my favorites also delivered solid additions to my library, and I took a few trips down memory lane, as well.

As I do every year, I want to make it clear that this list is in no way a “best of.” I simply don’t get to read enough books to qualify me to say what was the best of the year. These are just my favorite reads of 2017 (some of which are not from 2017). They also are in no particular order, though I’ll admit the first few are definitely my favorites.