28 December, 2013

(audiobook) Review - The Garden of Stones (Echoes of Empire #1) by Mark T. Barnes

As usual, you can find this review for The Garden of Stones by Mark T. Barnes on SFFaudio.com where I do all my audiobook reviews. I really enjoyed this one although I'm sure it would have been better had I read it with my eyes instead of ears because of the amount of characters and the fact that it's like Erikson in that it drops you right in without explaining much.
With The Garden of Stones, I wonder if I would have stalled in my reading. I’m no stranger to being thrown into the action having survived (and thoroughly enjoyed!) Erikson’s masterpiece, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, so that probably wouldn’t have been a problem. I did, however, have a difficult time keeping a lot of the characters, names, and races straight through listening only. Had I had my eyes on this one, I probably would have enjoyed it even more than I already did.

26 December, 2013

Looking Forward to 2014 - Most Anticipated Books

Last year, I had high hopes, as I usually do, that I would read quite a few books in the year. I wasn't too far off, having read 57 or so, but lots of those were in the form of audiobooks, none of which were on my list last year. I'm getting a bit more conservative this year in terms of what I think I can actually read and leave a bit more open to what I randomly pick up throughout the year, which I know I will do regardless of any plans I make. It makes for happier reading that way anyway. In bold are those books I actually think I have a chance of reading this year.

Keep in mind, this is by no means an exhaustive list (or even remotely close), these are just the titles I'm especially interested in and I know I'm probably missing quite a few that I'll have to add later.


Brian Stavely, The Emperor's Blades - January 14
Myke Cole, Breach Zone (Shadow Ops #3) - January 28
Paul Kearney, A Different Kingdom - January 28
Miles Cameron, The Fell Sword (Traitor Son #2) - January 30


David Edison, The Waking Engine - February 11


Scott Lynch, The Bastards and the Knives (Gentlemen Bastards Novellas) - March 3 (UK)
Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) - March 4
Jon Sprunk, Blood and Iron (The Book of the Black Earth #1) - March 11


Michael J. Sullivan, The Hollow World - April 8 (Just finished)
Elizabeth Bear, Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3) - April 8
Robin Hobb, The Fool's Assassin (The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy #1) - April 10
Sam Sykes, The City Stained Red - April 17 (UK Date)


Brian McClellan, The Crimson Campaign (Powder Mages #2) - May 6
Jim Butcher, Skin Game (Dresden #15) - May 27
Douglas Hulick, Sworn in Steel (Tales of the Kin #2)


Mark Lawrence, Prince of Fools (The Red Queen's War #1) - June 3


Joe Abercrombie, Half a King


Lev Grossman, The Magician's Land (Magician's #3) - August
Daniel Abraham, The Widow's House (The Dagger and the Coin #4) - August 5
Jim Butcher, The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) - August 7
Brent Weeks, The Broken Eye (Lightbringer #3) - August 26
Ian Cameron Esslemont, Assail (Malazan Empire #6)


Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Stairs - September 9


Bradley P. Beaulieu, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai - October 1
Ernest Cline, Armada - October 7



Steven Erikson, Willfull Child - December 4 (says Goodreads)

TBD: (Mostly just hoping all these come out in 2014)
John Marco, The Bloody Chorus
Courtney Schafer, The Labyrinth of Flame (Shattered Sigil #3) 
Scott Lynch, The Thorn of Emberlain (Gentlemen Bastards #4)
Orson Scott Card,  (Mithermages #3)
Jeff Salyards, Veil of the Deserters (Bloodsounder's Arc #2)
Steven Erikson, Fall of Light (Kharkanas Trilogy #2) - Have to read Forge of Darkness first.
Janny Wurts, Destiny's Conflict (Wars of Light and Shadow #10)

Not Counting On:

Patrick Rothfuss, The Doors of Stone (Kingkiller Chronicle #3)
George R.R. Martin, The Winds of Winter (ASoIaF #6) 
Peter V. Brett, The Skull Throne (Demon Cycle #4) - Probably 2015

EDIT: Added a few I'd completely forgotten (like Cline's Armada for instance!), which makes no sense because I'm dying to read them. 

EDIT #2: Bennett's City of Stairs apparently has a release date in September.

22 December, 2013

eBook Deals - Sanderson, Gaiman, Martin, Beaulieu, Cameron

I haven't read any of Brandon Sanderson's novellas for the Infinity Blade game on iPhone, but I've played the first game and it's pretty fun until everything gets ridiculously pricy. They've always been $2.99, but I just saw they are reduced at the moment so of course I'm jumping on it. Anyone know how good they are?

[$0.99] Infinity Blade: Awakening (Infinity Blade #1) by Brandon Sanderson (novella set in Infinity Blade world)
[$0.99] Infinity Blade: Redemption (Infinity Blade #2)by Brandon Sanderson (novella set in Infinity Blade world)
[$1.99] Stardust by Neil Gaiman
[$2.99] A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire #5) by George R.R. Martin
[$2.99] The Winds of Khalakovo (Lays of Anuskay #1) by Bradley P. Beaulieu
[$2.99The Red Knight (Traitor Son #1) by Miles Cameron

21 December, 2013

(movie) Review - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (The Hobbit #2)

The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy is my all-time favorite movie trilogy ever. It was pure bliss watching these movies in the theaters and last year around this time I spoke about the grin on my face as I watched the first of The Hobbit movie trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (review). I absolutely loved it even despite all the rancor.

I can't say I felt exactly the same way this time.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug starts to show some of the bloat we all knew would be in a trilogy of movies surrounding a single book that was shorter than any of the books in the former trilogy that only needed a movie a piece. Even I, who couldn't get enough of the first movie, thought this one was getting a bit ridiculous with every single event getting turned into impossible action scenes. And then there's the, spoiler alert, scene with Gandalf and Sauron that was not only odd but at least twice as long as it needed to be ... which could be said about a few more scenes, especially the final one where the dwarves are chased by Smaug.

Last time, I made the argument that it doesn't make logical sense to expect a movie to actually follow the books when we know going into the movies that it's three movies out of a relatively short book. In all reality, these movies actually do follow the book pretty well ... for what it is. The main events are all there even though it's easy to get lost in the shenanigans. Then, of course, there are things such as the needless love interest, Evangeline Lily, getting added that just didn't need to be there.

It's easy to complain, and very many are taking advantage, but I don't mean to say I hated it, only that I felt the bloat this time. I enjoyed myself, I enjoyed the scenery, and I enjoyed the non-stop action. It's just that I'm finally finding myself questioning the need for three movies when two, though still much, might have been just right.

16 December, 2013

Giveaway Winner! Dangerous Women, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

I know I promised a giveaway winner on Friday, but the fact that I finally got a job and started this last week made that ... difficult. Now that I've caught my breath, our giveaway winner for Dangerous Women, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois is:

Mark Cooper from Ohio

Congrats to Mark and thanks to all who entered. We had record numbers for this pretty stellar anthology. If Mark doesn't respond in the next 24 hours I'll draw a new one, but don't get your hopes up. :)

07 December, 2013

eBook Deals - Brooks, King, Barnes

Luckily I already own these or my pocket book would really be suffering ... as if it's not already, but I figured someone out there might want to know about these.

[$2.49] World War Z by Max Brooks - My review. While impressed, I wasn't head-over-heals for it.
[$3.99] The Shining by Stephen King

Today Only:
[$1.99] The Garden of Stones (Echoes of Empire #1) by Mark T. Barnes - My review hasn't gone up yet, but I was very impressed with this unique world Barnes has created.
[$1.99] The Obsidian Heart (Echoes of Empire #2) by Mark T. Barnes

06 December, 2013

Review - The Last Colony (Old Man's War #3) by John Scalzi

I think John Scalzi is a fun author to read, one you can always go back to knowing you'll have an entertaining read. He's got smart, compassionate characters you can root for, fast-paced plots, and you always know you won't have to think too hard. I love to be challenged in my reading, but I don't want to be challenged with every single book I read. Thus, authors like John Scalzi make for the perfect break in your complex readings.

The Last Colony [US] [UK] is the final Old Man's War universe novel with John Perry and Jane Sagan. At least until the next one comes out right. I haven't read Zoe's Tale, but I assume it's predominately her (I'm good at making inferences from my reading aren't I?), at least I know it's her perspective of the events in The Last Colony. 

Here, John and Jane have been living the life on the planet of Huckleberry. Low key is the word and they couldn't be happier, maybe. Then, they're offered the chance to head a new colony that really needs them. Of course they agree and soon find out that things are not quite as expected. The good ol' Colonial Union isn't the most forthcoming with information about just about anything and they find themselves in lots of trouble (another 'of course' belongs here too). 

Scalzi's tight plotting keep things moving nicely and the mysteries keep the pages moving as well. The actual intent behind the colony is slowly revealed and not once did it lose me in believability (unlike Redshirts I might add). This was a great conclusion to John and Jane's story although the surprises in the first book, Old Man's War, just can't be beat for me. 

3.5 out of 5 stars (recommended)

Old Man's War Universe: (read in red)
1) Old Man's War (review - if you can call it that)
2) The Ghost Brigades (review)
3) The Last Colony
4) Zoe's Tale
5) The Human Division (2013 release)

The Sagan Diary
Questions for a Soldier
After the Coup

04 December, 2013

Giveaway - Dangerous Women, Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (With Stories from Joe Abercrombie, Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher, Martin Himself, and Plenty More!)

I'm very excited to bring this giveaway to you today, this is one of the biggest releases of the year with some of the greats of the fantasy genre and other genres as well. Dangerous Women [US] [UK] is exactly what the title says, it's an anthology with stories about dangerous women across multiple genres with some of the best authors writing today. This is one of the books I've been looking forward to all year and I'm happy to offer it to you, via the nice folks at Tor, as a giveaway.

But first, here's the lineup:
The Dangerous Women anthology contains following stories:
- Introduction by Gardner Dozois
- “Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie - A Red Country story
- “My Heart is Either Broken” by Megan Abbott
- “Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland
- “The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass
- “Bombshells” by Jim Butcher - A Harry Dresden story
- “Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn
- “Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale
- “Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm
- “I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block
- “Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson
- “A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman
- “The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman - A Magicians story
- “Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress
- “City Lazarus” by Diana Rowland
- “Virgins” by Diana Gabaldon - An Outlander story
- “Hell Hath No Fury” by Sherilynn Kenyon
- “Pronouncing Doom” by S.M. Stirling - An Emberverse story
- “Name the Beast” by Sam Sykes
- “Caretakers” by Pat Cadigan
- “Lies My Mother Told Me” by Caroline Spector - A Wild Cards story
- “The Princess and the Queen” by George R.R. Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire story
As you can see, we get stories from great authors like Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Jim Butcher, and even a George R.R. Martin novella from A Song of Ice and Fire. One of the big ones I've been looking forward to is Lev Grossman's story about Brakebills from his trilogy, The Magicians.

But wait, there's more.

No, actually that was it. Sorry, I started feeling like an infomercial for a sec. My excitement has turned into a sales pitch, doh! Well, suffice it to say, I'm really looking forward to reading just about everything in this anthology, but for now I've already jumped into Martin's The Princess and the Queen, because yeah.

The Giveaway!

If you are interested in getting your hands on Dangerous Women, then follow the exceedingly simple instructions below:

E-mail me your name and address at onlythebestsff@[removethis]gmail.com, with "Definitely Not Femme Fatales" as the subject of the email (or at least something that lets me know what the email is about). This goes without saying, but double emails get you disqualified.

Snarky comments increase your chances of winning by getting you bonus entries for future giveaways. This is US Only (sorry!) as long as delivery doesn't require the mounting of an expedition into remote wilderness.

03 December, 2013

eBook Deals - Weeks, Gaiman, Card, McClellan, Cornwell, Sanderson, Butcher, Martin, Jordan

I thought I was keeping my spending under control, until the last couple weeks. These deals are insane. I hate them. So much that I can't stop buying everything that ever went on sale. And of course I have to pass them on to you. Does that mean I hate you?

[$1.79] The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks - I still have fond memories of this series years later.

[$1.99] Stardust by Neil Gaiman - My review.
[$1.99] Ender's Game (Ender #1) by Orson Scott Card
[$1.99] Promise of Blood (Powder Mages #1) by Brian McClellan - My review.
[$1.99] Death of Kings (Saxon Stories #6) by Bernard Cornwell - Not fantasy, but it does have a GRRM quote on the cover.

[$2.49] Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson
[$2.49] The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer #2) by Brent Weeks
[$2.49] Cold Days (Dresden Files #14) by Jim Butcher

[$2.99] The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson - My review.
[$2.99] A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire #5) by George R.R. Martin

[$4.29] A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time #14) by Robert Jordan

[$9.99 or $1.99 a piece] All 5 Books of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (usually around $27)