More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can get your hands on the digital edition of Luke Scull's The Grim Company for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

First in an epic, gritty trilogy from the hottest new voice in British fantasy.

It is a time of darkness. The last magic of the dead gods is on the wane. Demons and half-formed monsters plague the land as the final barriers between the realms begin to fail. The jealous Magelords of three great cities sit in their towers of stone and brood over the scant power that remains...

It is not a time of heroes. Their songs are long forgotten, their deeds go unwritten.

But, even now, some few still nurse a spark of hope, an unlikely fellowship, united against the tyranny of their immortal overlords - THE GRIM COMPANY.

The Genius Plague


My review copies of David Walton's quantum physics murder mysteries Superposition and Supersymmetry have been sitting on my "books to read" pile for a long, long time. I've always known that I'll get to them at some point, but there's always another novel/series that gets in the way. Still, when Pyr sent me an advance reading copy of The Genius Plague, the premise immediately piqued my curiosity and I knew that I wouldn't wait forever to read this one. I scheduled things so that my review would go up around its pub date and here it is!

Let's be honest. The cover art is absolutely atrocious and likely won't attract potential readers' attention. Which is a shame, for this science fiction thriller is one of my favorite reads of 2017!

Here's the blurb:

THE CONTAGION IS IN YOUR MIND.

In this science fiction thriller, brothers are pitted against each other as a pandemic threatens to destabilize world governments by exerting a subtle mind control over survivors.

Neil Johns has just started his dream job as a code breaker in the NSA when his brother, Paul, a mycologist, goes missing on a trip to collect samples in the Amazon jungle. Paul returns with a gap in his memory and a fungal infection that almost kills him. But once he recuperates, he has enhanced communication, memory, and pattern recognition. Meanwhile, something is happening in South America; others, like Paul, have also fallen ill and recovered with abilities they didn’t have before.

But that’s not the only pattern–the survivors, from entire remote Brazilian tribes to American tourists, all seem to be working toward a common, and deadly, goal. Neil soon uncovers a secret and unexplained alliance between governments that have traditionally been enemies. Meanwhile Paul becomes increasingly secretive and erratic.

Paul sees the fungus as the next stage of human evolution, while Neil is convinced that it is driving its human hosts to destruction. Brother must oppose brother on an increasingly fraught international stage, with the stakes: the free will of every human on earth. Can humanity use this force for good, or are we becoming the pawns of an utterly alien intelligence?

The bulk of this novel takes place in Brazil and the Amazon rainforest, as well as in and around the National Security Agency compound in Maryland, and the Washington, D.C. area. Other than the presence of the intelligent fungus and everything that it engenders, The Genius Plague reads like an ordinary thriller. The best thing about this book is that it's not hard science fiction per se. David Walton did a wonderful job explaining the science and the concepts involved without dumbing down the plot. The author also managed to avoid the pitfall of peppering the narrative with info-dumps that would have killed its momentum. The result is a compelling science fiction thriller. With its relatively short chapters, The Genius Plague is a real page-turner.

As the blurb implies, brothers Neil and Paul Johns take center stage. Their father is battling with Alzheimer's disease, and the sad repercussions this has on the entire family touches the story in a myriad ways. The scenes involving Neil, his mother, and his father's memory loss are emotional and occasionally gut-wrenching. Like Neil, readers find out that the life of a cryptologist working at the NSA certainly isn't all that's cracked up to be. As interesting and three-dimensional as the two brothers turned out to be, there's no denying that it's the supporting cast that makes this novel such a memorable read. Indeed, it would never have been the same without the presence of characters such as Shaunessy Brennan, Melody Muniz, and Andrew.

One of my favorite facets of this book is that there are no true villains. Mother Nature can be unpredictable and scary. The fungus does what it feels is required to ensure its own survival. There are no definite plans behind its actions and the aftereffects of the plague on the human brain of its hosts are always unexpected and shocking. With The Genius Plague, David Walton keeps readers on the edge of their seats and you never know what's going to happen next.

The science fiction elements notwithstanding, The Genius Plague was meant to be a thriller and for it to work it must read like one. Short chapters ending with startling cliffhangers create a page-turning pace that makes this novel hard to put down. This is the kind of work that you go through in just a few sittings.

Intelligent, touching, and captivating, David Walton's environmentally consciousThe Genius Plague is a joyride from beginning to end! Highly recommended.

The final verdict: 8/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Quote of the Day

Religion and ethics were not always--or even frequently--mutually compatible. The demands of religious absolutism or fundamentalism or rampaging relativism often reflected the worst aspects of contemporary culture or prejudices rather than a system which both man and God could live under with a sense of real justice.

- DAN SIMMONS, The Fall of Hyperion (Canada, USA, Europe)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can get your hands on the digital edition of Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

WINNER OF THE 2015 BRAM STOKER AWARD FOR SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A NOVEL

A chilling thriller that brilliantly blends psychological suspense and supernatural horror, reminiscent of Stephen King's The Shining, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, and William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist.

The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Jim Butcher's Proven Guilty for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

There's no love lost between Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, and the White Council of Wizards, who find him brash and undisciplined. But war with the vampires has thinned their ranks, so the Council has drafted Harry as a Warden and assigned him to look into rumors of black magic in the Windy City.

As Harry adjusts to his new role, another problem arrives in the form of the tattooed and pierced daughter of an old friend, all grown-up and already in trouble. Her boyfriend is the only suspect in what looks like a supernatural assault straight out of a horror film. Malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in Chicago, but it's all in a day's work for a wizard, his faithful dog, and a talking skull named Bob...

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can still download Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian: 20 Adventure Tales of Conan for only 0.99$ here. 1339 pages featuring Conan the Cimmerian for less than 1$, it doesn't get much better than this!

Here's the blurb:

Conan The Barbarian is the original stories about adventure stories of conan the cimmerian written by Robert E. Howard in 1934-1936. In this book contains 20 stories of Conan The Cimmerian.

1.The Hyborian Age, first published in The Phantagraph, February-November 1936.
2.Shadows In the Moonlight, first published in Weird Tales, April 1934.
3.Queen Of the Black Coast, first published in Weird Tales, May 1934.
4.The Devil In Iron, first published in Weird Tales, August 1934.
5.The People Of the Black Circle, first published in Weird Tales, September, October and November 1934.
6.A Witch Shall Be Born, first published in Weird Tales in 1934.
7.The Jewels Of Gwahlur, first published in Weird Tales, March 1935.
8.Beyond the Black River, first published in Weird Tales magazine circa 1935.
9.Shadows In Zamboula, first published in Weird Tales, November 1935.
10.The Hour Of the Dragon, first published in Weird Tales, December 1935-April 1936.
11.Gods Of the North, first published in Fantasy Fan, March 1934.
12.Red Nails, First Published in Weird Tales, July, August-September, October 1936.
13. The Shadow of the Vulture, First published in the pulp magazine Magic Carpet Magazine, January 1934.
14.The Phoenix on the Sword, First published in 1932.
15.The Scarlet Citadel, First published in 1933.
16.The Tower of the Elephant, First published in 1933.
17.Black Colossus, First published in 1934.
18.The Slithering Shadow, First published in 1934.
19.The Pool of the Black One, First published in 1934.
20.Rogues in the House, First published in 1935.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 9th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King and Owen King’s Sleeping Beauties debuts at number 1. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Stephen King's It maintains its position at number 1 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is down one position, ending the week at number 3 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

---------------------

This probably ain't the first time this has happened, but King holding top spot on both the hardcover and paperback charts is pretty impressive!

Win a copy of Neil Gaiman's NEVERWHERE ILLUSTRATED EDITION


I have a copy of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere Illustrated Edition up for grabs, compliments of the folks at William Morrow. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author’s dark classic of modern fantasy, beautifully illustrated for the first time by award-winning artist Chris Riddell, and featuring the author’s preferred text and his Neverwhere tale, “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back.”

Published in 1997, Neil Gaiman’s first novel, Neverwhere, heralded the arrival of a major talent. Over the years, various versions have been produced around the world. In 2016, this gorgeously illustrated edition of the novel was released in the UK. It is now available here, and features strikingly atmospheric, painstakingly detailed black-and-white line art by Chris Riddell, one of Gaiman’s favorite artistic interpreters of his work.

Richard Mayhew is a young London businessman with a good heart whose life is changed forever when he stops to help a bleeding girl—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed. Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth. Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Here in Neverwhere, Door is a powerful noblewoman who has vowed to find the evil agent of her family’s slaughter and thwart the destruction of this strange underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life and home, he must join Lady Door’s quest to save her world—and may well die trying.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "NEVERWHERE." 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.

Good luck to all the participants!

Kitty in the Underworld


Time was, Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville book sequence was one of the best urban fantasy series on the market. Nearly as enjoyable as Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. I loved the fact that Vaughn takes her characters and storylines along unexpected paths, keeping this series fresh and very entertaining. And while the early books were more episodic in style and tone, in the middle installments the author continued to unveil various hints and offered lots of glimpses of a much bigger and more ambitious overall story arc. Urban fantasy is often characterized by short works which are episodic in nature and don't always allow the plotlines to progress overmuch. Up until the tenth volume, Vaughn had always managed to dodge the bullet and keep things moving, making you eager to read the next installment to find out what occurs next.

Unfortunately, in the eleventh book the series lost a lot of steam. Indeed, Kitty Rocks the House turned out to be the one in which Carrie Vaughn failed to live up to expectations. I'm not sure there was enough material to sustain a full novel and it showed. A lot of filler and not much killer, that novel felt like some kind of interlude and didn't have a whole lot going for it. For the first time ever, a Kitty Norville title was a disappointment for me.

And if its predecessor marked the point where the series started losing steam, Kitty in the Underworld definitely brought it to a standstill. This is by far the most underwhelming and often downright boring installment thus far.

Here's the blurb:

As Denver adjusts to a new master vampire, Kitty gets word of an intruder in the Denver werewolf pack's territory, and she investigates the challenge to her authority. She follows the scent of the lycanthrope through the mountains where she is lured into a trap, tranquilized, and captured. When she wakes up, she finds herself in a defunct silver mine: the perfect cage for a werewolf. Her captors are a mysterious cult seeking to induct Kitty into their ranks in a ritual they hope will put an end to Dux Bellorum. Though skeptical of their power, even Kitty finds herself struggling to resist joining their cause. Whatever she decides, they expect Kitty to join them in their plot . . . willingly or otherwise, in Carrie Vaughn's Kitty in the Underworld.

My disappointment evidently stems from the fact that Kitty Steals the Show raised the bar to new heights. The conference in London allowed Kitty to come in contact with a lot of supernatural creatures, most of them centuries old. We were introduced to yet more players in the Long Game, and once again it became obvious that the endgame was approaching. And the surprising side-story fleshing out the Cormac/Amelia plotline added yet more layers to the plot. All in all, Kitty Rocks the House turned out to be sort of lackluster and at times a bit boring. In the end, we were left with a weak plot that could likely have been part of another Kitty installment and the series would have been better for it. Sadly, Kitty in the Underworld suffers from the same shortcomings. And then some. Once again, there is not enough material to sustain a full book. Kitty gets kidnapped and she spends the better part of the novel talking to herself. That's pretty much it in a nutshell.

The book is told in the first-person narrative of the up-until-this point endearing werewolf radio host. With her supernatural knack for attracting trouble and the fact she's not always be the sharpest tool in the shed, there is seldom a dull moment in Kitty's life. And yet, with the odds stacked against her and the stakes always getting higher, her stubbornness keeps putting herself and her loved ones in mortal danger. In my last couple of reviews I've said that it doesn't always sit well with me and this continues to be the case. Kitty is definitely changing with each new installment. Although her heart remains in the right place, I think that Ben and Cormac need to have a serious talk with her. Especially Ben, who truly needs to start acting like a true man and not just a pillar on which she can lean on. Their relationship makes no sense and it's getting worse. The main problem with Kitty in the Underworld is that the bulk of the novel features Kitty by herself. And if she has grown particularly reckless in the last few volumes, she acts absurdly dumb in this one. Her inner monologue gets old after only a couple of chapters, and things keep going downhill after that. The supporting cast remains absent for most of the book and this is what kills the story. Kitty, at this juncture in the series, cannot, on her own at least, carry the weight of the tale on her shoulders. Not only is she acting stupid, but her association with a bunch of nutjobs while she is acutely aware that what they're doing could kill them all goes against everything she stands for.

Both Kitty's Big Trouble and Kitty Steals the Show were transition titles linking past plotlines and weaving them into the tapestry of threads that will lead us to the series' finale. The stage was set for other thrilling reads, but Kitty Rocks the House and Kitty in the Underworld were little more than subpar intermissions. At this point, it's obvious that both the author and Tor Books were milking Kitty's popularity for all it was worth. Here's to hoping that the last two installments will refocus and end this series on a high note.

The pace was terrible. I'm sorry, but there is no way to sugarcoat it. Thankfully, Vaughn has been laying out a lot of groundwork over the course of the last couple of books, and the endgame is approaching. For that reason, I'm more than willing to overlook two disappointing and uninspired novels if the subsequent books live up to the hype generated by what came before.

It would be a shame for the Kitty Norville book sequence to end in forgettable fashion. But the Long Game has been introduced years ago and it's obvious that the proliferation of sequels has hurt what used to be a quality series. Quality will always win over quantity.

Hopefully Low Midnight and Kitty Saves the World will be a return to form for Carrie Vaughn. . .

The final verdict: 6/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Win a set of Peter Newman's The Vagrant trilogy


To help promote the release of Peter Newman's The Seven (Canada, USA, Europe), I have a full set of the series up for grabs, compliments of the folks at HarperVoyager. The prize pack includes:

- The Vagrant
- The Malice
- The Seven

Here's the blurb for the final volume:

Years have passed since the Vagrant journeyed to the Shining City, Vesper in arm and Gamma’s sword in hand.

Since then the world has changed. Vesper, following the footsteps of her father, journeyed to the breach and closed the tear between worlds, protecting the last of humanity, but also trapping the infernal horde and all those that fell to its corruptions: willing or otherwise.

In this new age it is Vesper who leads the charge towards unity and peace, with seemingly nothing standing between the world and a bright new future.

That is until eyes open.

And The Seven awaken.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "SEVEN." 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.

Good luck to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download PJ Manney's just-released (R)evolution for 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Scientist Peter Bernhardt has dedicated his life to nanotechnology, the science of manipulating matter on the atomic scale. As the founder of Biogineers, he is on the cusp of revolutionizing brain therapies with microscopic nanorobots that will make certain degenerative diseases become a thing of the past. But after his research is stolen by an unknown enemy, seventy thousand people die in Las Vegas in one abominable moment. No one is more horrified than Peter, as this catastrophe sets in motion events that will forever change not only his life but also the course of human evolution.

Peter’s company is torn from his grasp as the public clamors for his blood. Desperate, he turns to an old friend, who introduces him to the Phoenix Club, a cabal of the most powerful people in the world. To make himself more valuable to his new colleagues, Peter infuses his brain with experimental technology, exponentially upgrading his mental prowess and transforming him irrevocably.

As he’s exposed to unimaginable wealth and influence, Peter’s sense of reality begins to unravel. Do the club members want to help him, or do they just want to claim his technology? What will they do to him once they have their prize? And while he’s already evolved beyond mere humanity, is he advanced enough to take on such formidable enemies and win?

Win a copy of David Walton's THE GENIUS PLAGUE


I have two copies of David Walton's The Genius Plague for you to win, courtesy of the folks at Pyr. Don't let the atrocious cover art fool you. I'm almost done and it's one of my favorite reads of 2017! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

THE CONTAGION IS IN YOUR MIND.

In this science fiction thriller, brothers are pitted against each other as a pandemic threatens to destabilize world governments by exerting a subtle mind control over survivors.

Neil Johns has just started his dream job as a code breaker in the NSA when his brother, Paul, a mycologist, goes missing on a trip to collect samples in the Amazon jungle. Paul returns with a gap in his memory and a fungal infection that almost kills him. But once he recuperates, he has enhanced communication, memory, and pattern recognition. Meanwhile, something is happening in South America; others, like Paul, have also fallen ill and recovered with abilities they didn’t have before.

But that’s not the only pattern–the survivors, from entire remote Brazilian tribes to American tourists, all seem to be working toward a common, and deadly, goal. Neil soon uncovers a secret and unexplained alliance between governments that have traditionally been enemies. Meanwhile Paul becomes increasingly secretive and erratic.

Paul sees the fungus as the next stage of human evolution, while Neil is convinced that it is driving its human hosts to destruction. Brother must oppose brother on an increasingly fraught international stage, with the stakes: the free will of every human on earth. Can humanity use this force for good, or are we becoming the pawns of an utterly alien intelligence?

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "GENIUS." 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.

Good luck to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth for only 0.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

In the year A.D. 3000, Earth is a barren wasteland, plundered of its natural resources by alien conquerors known as Psychlos. Fewer than thirty-five thousand humans survive in a handful of communities scattered across the face of a post-apocalyptic Earth.

From the ashes of humanity rises a young hero, Jonnie Goodboy Tyler. Setting off on an initial quest to discover a hidden evil, Jonnie unlocks the mystery of humanity’s demise and unearths a crucial weakness in their oppressors. Spreading the seeds of revolt, Jonnie and a small band of survivors pit their quest for freedom in an all-out rebellion that erupts across the continents of Earth and the cosmic sprawl of the Psychlo empire.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 2nd)

In paperback:

Stephen King's It maintains its position at number 1 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is up five positions, ending the week at number 2 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is down two positions, ending the week at number 10 (trade paperback).

Win a copy of Kevin Hearne's A PLAGUE OF GIANTS


I was eager to read the first installment in Kevin Hearne's new series. But about 150 pages into A Plague of Giants, I had no choice but to give up. I wasn't feeling it at all and there was no way I could keep going. It's such a disappointment, for I had high hopes for this one. :/ So I'm giving my review copy away to one lucky winner. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

From the author of The Iron Druid Chronicles, a thrilling novel that kicks off a fantasy series with an entirely new mythology—complete with shape-shifting bards, fire-wielding giants, and children who can speak to astonishing beasts.

MOTHER AND WARRIOR
Tallynd is a soldier who has already survived her toughest battle: losing her husband. But now she finds herself on the front lines of an invasion of giants, intent on wiping out the entire kingdom, including Tallynd’s two sons—all that she has left. The stakes have never been higher. If Tallynd fails, her boys may never become men.

SCHOLAR AND SPY
Dervan is an historian who longs for a simple, quiet life. But he’s drawn into intrigue when he’s hired to record the tales of a mysterious bard who may be a spy or even an assassin for a rival kingdom. As the bard shares his fantastical stories, Dervan makes a shocking discovery: He may have a connection to the tales, one that will bring his own secrets to light.

REBEL AND HERO
Abhi’s family have always been hunters, but Abhi wants to choose a different life for himself. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery, Abhi soon learns that his destiny is far greater than he imagined: a powerful new magic thrust upon him may hold the key to defeating the giants once and for all—if it doesn’t destroy him first.

Set in a magical world of terror and wonder, this novel is a deeply felt epic of courage and war, in which the fates of these characters intertwine—and where ordinary people become heroes, and their lives become legend.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "PLAGUE." 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.

Good luck to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download George R. R. Martin's A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Taking place nearly a century before the events of A Game of Thrones, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms compiles the first three official prequel novellas to George R. R. Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire. These never-before-collected adventures recount an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living consciousness.

Before Tyrion Lannister and Podrick Payne, there was Dunk and Egg. A young, naïve but ultimately courageous hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall towers above his rivals—in stature if not experience. Tagging along is his diminutive squire, a boy called Egg—whose true name (hidden from all he and Dunk encounter) is Aegon Targaryen. Though more improbable heroes may not be found in all of Westeros, great destinies lay ahead for these two… as do powerful foes, royal intrigue, and outrageous exploits.

Featuring more than 160 all-new illustrations by Gary Gianni, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a must-have collection that proves chivalry isn’t dead—yet.

Geeks doing good: Puerto Rico fundraiser


A little over a week ago, I got in touch with a number of SFF authors, editors, and artists because I wanted to organize a fundraiser for Puerto Rico. I soon realized that the logistics involved would quickly overwhelm my efforts to do good. But Patrick Rothfuss said that he was considering launching his own fundraiser. Since he's the brain behind a number of highly successful fundraisers with Worldbuilders, we were all happy to support his newest effort!

Rothfuss is even putting up 50,000$ in matching funds, which means that every dollar people donate will have twice the impact.

As things stand, over 63,000$ have been raised out of the 100,000$ goal.

So if you want to help by donating a few bucks, please follow this link and help us do some good. =)

Thank you all for your time and consideration.

R. Scott Bakker contest winner!

This lucky winner is getting my extra copy of R. Scott Bakker's The Unholy Consult! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Robin Goodman, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Many thanks to all the participants!

Win a copy of L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s THE MONGREL MAGE


I have a copy of L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s The Mongrel Mage up for grabs, compliments of the folks at Tor Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The Saga of Recluce chronicles the history of this world with world-building detail and an ingenious and disciplined magic system. L. E. Modesitt, Jr. returns to his longest and bestselling fantasy series with volume nineteen, The Mongrel Mage, which marks the beginning of a new story arc.

In the world of Recluce, powerful mages can wield two kinds of magic—the white of Chaos or the black of Order. Beltur, however, has talents no one dreamed of, talents not seen in hundreds of years that blend both magics.

On the run from a power hungry white mage, Beltur is taken in by Order mages who set him on the path to discover and hone his own unique gifts and in the process find a home.

However, when the white mage he fled attempts to invade his new home, Beltur must hope his new found power will be enough to save them all.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "MONGREL." 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.

Good luck to all the participants!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 25th)

In paperback:

Stephen King's It maintains its position at number 1 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale maintains its position at number 7 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is up one position, ending the week at number 8 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Peter Newman's The Vagrant for only 0.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The Vagrant is his name. He has no other.

Years have passed since humanity’s destruction emerged from the Breach.

Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape.

As each day passes the world tumbles further into depravity, bent and twisted by the new order, corrupted by the Usurper, the enemy, and his infernal horde.

His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war.

What little hope remains is dying. Abandoned by its leader, The Seven, and its heroes, The Seraph Knights, the last defences of a once great civilisation are crumbling into dust.

But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.

The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack


In its blurb for this novel, The Guardian claimed that it was a nautical sci-fi space battle zombie horror comedy adventure tale. Add to that the actual cover blurb and I knew I had no choice but to read Nate Crowley's The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack. I'm not too keen on zombies to begin with, but my curiosity was thoroughly piqued. If nothing else, I felt as though this book would be unlike anything else I had ever read. And believe you me, it was just that!

Needless to say, The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack was not what any reader would expect. Some times, this works in the novel's favor. On the other hand, occasionally it can be detrimental to the tale Crowley is telling.

Moreover, had I known of the book's genesis, perhaps my enthusiasm would have been a little more subdued going in. Problem is, you only find out at the very end, in the afterword and the acknowledgements, just how this work became a reality. And this explains the various shortcomings found therein. . .

You see, Nate Crowley was offered a book deal after coming up with 76 consecutive daily birthday tweets for one of his friends, tweets that soon became little stories in which said friend was portrayed as a fragile and vicious tyrant. The whole thing became viral and, wada wada wada, here we are with this work. This explains the author's ability to come up with countless witty and entertaining snippets throughout the novel. Alas, it also explains why these simply cannot form a cohesive whole that works as a plot.

Here's the blurb:

SCHNEIDER WRACK WAS DEAD.

Until he wasn’t.

Convicted of a crime he’s almost completely sure he didn’t commit, executed, reanimated, then pressed into service aboard a vast trawler on the terrible world of Ocean, he was set to spend his afterlife working until his mindless corpse fell apart.

But now he’s woken up, trapped in a rotting body, arm-deep in the stinking meat and blubber of a sea monster, and he’s not happy. It’s time for the dead to rise up.

From the stench and brine of Ocean to the fetid jungle of Grand Amazon, Schneider’s career as a revolutionary won’t be easy.

But sometimes a zombie’s gotta do what a zombie’s gotta do.

The worldbuilding is a bit of a mess. Another book review claims that the tale set in a thoughtfully constructed fantasy world, but I beg to differ. More often than not, Crowley doesn't even attempt to shine some light on the various concepts and ideas which are at the heart of The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack. There are plenty of questions throughout the novel. Yet the answers, when they come, are extremely few and far between. The author appears way more interested in coming up with a panoply of sea monsters and excuses for battle scenes filled with industrial quantities of blood and gore. If you're the kind of reader who doesn't ask too many questions and who can just buckle up and enjoy the ride, Crowley's debut just might work for you. It is a fun and easy read, no doubt about it. But the plot suffers from a little analysis. If you are the sort of reader who asks questions, who wants answers, who wants things to ultimately make sense, then things will quickly go down the crapper for you. As they did for me. To the vast majority of the "why this?" and "why that?" questions that come up in basically every chapter, Nate Crowley refuses to provide answers. It's not a failure of execution. The author doesn't even try to do so. The reader is expected to take everything on faith, hoping that the answers will be revealed at the end of the book and that things will make sense then. Unfortunately, answers are seldom offered, secrets are rarely unveiled, and nothing really makes sense, even when you reach the last page. What exactly was that tech that allowed people to create and control zombies and how did the city of Lipos-Tholos come into possession and control of it? How were they able to withstand such a siege forever. What were the Pipers fighting for? What are those gates and worlds? Continents on one planet, or different dimensions/worlds? What exactly was Teuthis and why is it drawn to High Sarawak? How did Dust puzzle out the truth behind the Tavuto and how it was the greatest prize to go for? The list goes on and on and on.

Nate Crowley's descriptive prose creates a stark and vivid imagery. It's often particularly gross, but the author makes you feel as though you are right in the thick of it. In that regard, the narrative deserves kudos for being such a multi-sensory experience. I kid you not. At times, you feel like you want to gag.

The characterization is by far the best aspect of this work. Events unfold through three different perspectives. That of Schneider Wrack, a librarian sentenced to death for being part of the Piper rebellion. That of Mouana, a dead soldier who used to be part of one of the mercenary companies laying siege to Lipos-Tholos. And that of General Dust, Mouana's former commander and leader of the Blades of Titan. Both Wrack and Mouana regain consciousness with almost no memories of who they used to be. But as the tale progresses, their back stories take shape as vague memories become clearer and clearer. It's at this juncture that Dust's POV gets introduced and from then on there is somewhat of a balance between the three perspectives. Although it was well-done, the characterization is often bogged down by too much bantering or inane dialogue.

But in the end, what truly sunk The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack was the fact that there is no ending whatsoever. No resolution to any of the main storylines, no answers regarding most of those aforementioned questions. No ending, period. It's as if the final chapters are missing. Imagine if Star Wars: A New Hope had ended with the scene of the rebel fleet taking off for the Battle of Yavin and that's pretty much how I felt when I reached the end of the book. I've never been a fan of those make-your-own-ending kind of novels and I found this quite off-putting. It's also a major cop-out for an author, especially when we're not talking about an ending that can be interpretated in various ways. With no sequel in the making, it makes you wonder why you actually read the whole novel. A variety of things made little or no sense as you read along. But the absence of a true ending that offers some resolution pretty much ensures that almost nothing makes sense.

The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack is a dark, often funny, entertaining, and gore-filled affair that is unlike anything else I've ever read. The book certainly had potential. Lots of it, in fact. Ultimately, it suffered from too many shortcomings to live up to it. Still, if you're looking for something that will surprise even the most jaded genre readers, this novel is definitely for you!

The final verdict: 6/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

John Picacio: LOTERIA ORIGINAL ART: HELP DISASTER VICTIMS


This from Hugo Award-winning illustrator John Picacio's website:

Our fellow humans in Houston, Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean Islands have been walloped by natural disaster in recent days — and they need our help. Earlier this month, I made available one of my much-coveted shadowbox assemblages and it sold within minutes of being posted. A portion of that sale will be going to benefit Mexican earthquake relief efforts in Oaxaca, where they were devastated by an 8.1 earthquake on September 7th.

Now, I’m parting with five of my cherished Loteria drawings to generate more donation money toward recovery endeavors. A portion of these purchases will be donated to the food bank or relief effort of the buyer’s choice. I’m partial to the Mexican relief efforts because they delivered personnel and supplies to the US when Hurricane Harvey roared through Houston, and the honorable thing to do as Americans is reciprocate. Mexico City is recovering from a horrific 7.1 disaster on September 19th and I want to do all I can to help them. That said, I have friends and family in Houston, and while I’ve already donated to the Harvey effort, I would be thrilled to see more relief funds sent directly to Houston’s food banks. And of course, Florida and the Caribbean Islanders deserve our continuing attention as well, in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Many of you are aware of my ongoing Loteria art series. I feel that these Loteria drawings are some of the most resonant I’ve done in my career to date. I’m 100% Mexican American, so every time I work on one of these — it’s PERSONAL. These visions are not just about me. They’re about my culture, our identity, and our dreams. There will be only be fifty-four of these final drawings when the series is completed, and several have previously sold immediately.

Follow this link to check out the five original works that are now available for the first time.

Diana Gabaldon contest winners!

Our winners will get their hands on a copy of Diana Gabaldon's Seven Stones to Stand or Fall, compliments of the folks at Delacorte. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Parto Barkhordari, from Leesburg, Virginia, USA

- Raman Ohri, from Fishers, Indiana, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


For a limited time, you can get your hands on the digital edition of Richard Kadrey's The Everything Box for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Reminiscent of the edgy, offbeat humor of Chris Moore and Matt Ruff, the first entry in a whimsical, fast-paced supernatural series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim novels—a dark and humorous story involving a doomsday gizmo, a horde of baddies determined to possess its power, and a clever thief who must steal it back . . . again and again.

22000 B.C. A beautiful, ambitious angel stands on a mountaintop, surveying the world and its little inhabitants below. He smiles because soon, the last of humanity who survived the great flood will meet its end, too. And he should know. He’s going to play a big part in it. Our angel usually doesn’t get to do field work, and if he does well, he’s certain he’ll get a big promotion.

And now it’s time . . . .

The angel reaches into his pocket for the instrument of humanity’s doom. Must be in the other pocket. Then he frantically begins to pat himself down. Dejected, he realizes he has lost the object. Looking over the Earth at all that could have been, the majestic angel utters a single word.

“Crap.”

2015. A thief named Coop—a specialist in purloining magic objects—steals and delivers a small box to the mysterious client who engaged his services. Coop doesn’t know that his latest job could be the end of him—and the rest of the world. Suddenly he finds himself in the company of The Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome enforcement agency that polices the odd and strange. The box isn’t just a supernatural heirloom with quaint powers, they tell him.

It’s a doomsday device. They think . . .

And suddenly, everyone is out to get it.

The sequel, The Wrong Dead Guy, is available for 2.99$ here. Same price in Canada.