dimanche 14 septembre 2014

New On The Library Shelves 14 09 14

AKA Showcase Sunday

A new segment here, participating in the Showcase Sunday meme over at Books, Biscuits & Tea.

Another Doctor Who book through Netgalley this month plus a biography of Napoleon - I've been looking forward to reading a biography of the Corsican for a long time now, so this will probably be going in quite high on my To Read List. In terms of bought books, can't wait to get stuck in to Perfidia and Sleeping Late on Judgement Day.  

For review:
Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror by Mike Tucker
The German Agent by J. Sydney Jones
Napoleon by Andrew Roberts
The Vines by Christopher Rice
Blood Aces by Doug J Swanson
The Ship by Antonia Honeywell

Perfidia by James Ellroy
Seven Wonders by Ben Mezrich
Sleeping Late on Judgement Day by Tad Williams
The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
The Lazarus Prophecy by F.G. Cottam
The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller
Extinction Game by Gary Gibson
Death of a King by Travis Smiley


So, what's new on your shelves this week?

mercredi 10 septembre 2014

The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

In the aftermath of the Yellowstone eruption on Datum Earth, massive movements of population have spread mankind into the Long Earth worlds. As governments fall and people struggle to survive, Sally, Joshua, Lobsang and Maggie work to rescue the survivors, two incredible journeys are born: one to the outer limits of the Long Earth... and another across the vastness of space to join the Long Mars. As Sally and Maggie embark on their respective journeys, Joshua faces a crisis much closer to home - a new race of mankind has been born out amongst the furthest reaches of Long Earth, a group of super-bright children calling themselves the Next. As hatred and fear rises, the fate of all will be decided at the place called Happy Landings...

Pratchett and Baxter continue to amaze and delight with their Long Earth series, a fantastic collaboration that has now spawned three novels with another three to come. In this latest installment, our heroes are dispatched on a number of varied and disparate missions, each one full of fantastic vistas, and strange and wonderful worlds. While I enjoyed Kauffman's adventures to the further reaches of the Long Earth, including some incredible acid-based lifeforms, the highlight of the book was definitely the journey across the Long Mars that Sarah takes with her father. Full of great ideas and imaginative creations, the Long Mars also holds the key to space travel, a fact that does not become apparent until much later in the novel. Throughout, the story of the Next slowly comes to a boil, ending in an unexpected way. All in all, The Long Mars is a great addition to this series, full of the wonderful imagination and writing of these two giants.

I gave The Long Mars 4 stars.

mardi 9 septembre 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Underrated Series or Books in the Fantasy Genre

This week's theme: Top Ten Underrated Authors or Books in x genre. I decided to go with fantasy series from mostly well-known authors that don't get as much hype as they deserve.

Top Ten Underrated Series or Books in the Fantasy Genre

Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet

Not much buzz around this one when it came out and rarely mentioned on blogs or discussions, this is a fantastic epic fantasy with intriguing characters and wonderful world building.

Robin Hobb’s Soldier Son Quartet

Often forgotten next to Hobb’s more well known Farseer series, this is just as well written, with a main character whose angst and voice is almost on par with Fitz, and a very different world reminiscent of turn of the century America.

Raymond E Feist’s Riftwar Saga
Although Feist’s Riftwar Saga definitely has its ups and downs in terms of quality, it is hard to argue with the fact that it is a vast epic with a clear ending, written as historical fiction in a secondary world. A huge achievement and one that is not recognized enough in my opinion.

Steve Cash’s The Meq trilogy

Not a very well known trilogy, this is historical fantasy done well, with a race of child-like immortals and their internecine battles across the ages.

S.L. Farrell’s The Nessantico Cycle

I came across this one over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist and was delighted to pick them up. I’ll point you to the Hotlist for reviews, but these are well worth picking up.

Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon

Here’s my review of the novel – secondary world fiction in an Arabian Nights type world, with an unexpected hero and some great magic.

Kate Elliot’s Crossroads Series

Again, one of those authors who does not get enough recognition. The Crossroads series is one of her best (and it has giant eagles flying into battle!)

Anne Lyle’s Night’s Masque Trilogy

Another historical fantasy, this one set in Elizabethan times. A great story with a clear ending that is a globe-trotting adventure that also manages to play with politics, magic and reincarnation.

M.L.N Hanover’s The Black Sun's Daughter Series

Another of Daniel Abraham’s series’ to be included on the list – this one under his Hanover pseudonym. A great urban fantasy adventure that starts with a bang.

Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor

I loved this when I read it at the beginning of the summer but it doesn’t seem to be getting all the hype it deserves. A fantastic fantasy epic with a main character it is easy to become attached to.
What about you? What books, authors or series in any genre do you feel are underrated?

lundi 8 septembre 2014

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes


What if you were called upon to investigate the perfect crime? What if you realized that the person who had committed that crime had used a book you wrote to achieve it? That is the situation facing Pilgrim, codename for a man who does not exist. Pilgrim used to be a spy. Now he’s retired. But his retirement is about to end… When a terrifying weapon threatens America, Pilgrim will have to begin a race against time that will take him from Mecca to Turkey to Alsace to the Hindu Kush in order to find a faceless man. A man who may be closer to him than he could possibly expect…

I Am Pilgrim has received a lot of hype over the past few months – even here in France, every time I go into a bookshop I find it on the shelves, showered in praise from readers and critics alike. I am glad to say that it more than lives up to the hype – in fact I would imagine that this book will be up there in my top-ten list by the end of the year. Opening in a hotel room in the US, the book starts out as a murder mystery before delving into the history of the main character, the man who introduces himself as Pilgrim. From there, we are taken on a whirlwind tour of espionage, terrorism and murder, a globe-trotting thrill ride that also manages to delve into such themes as growing old, family, love and the cost of freedom. I loved the fact that while the entire story is told in first person, Terry Hayes manages to use that to segue into an omniscient third person at times, giving us a glimpse into the lives of various other characters along the way. I was hooked from the first page and it did not let up until the end. If you haven’t already, pick it up, read it and enjoy!

I gave I Am Pilgrim 5 stars (because I couldn't give it any more)!

samedi 6 septembre 2014

La Reine Etranglee (The Strangled Queen) by Maurice Druon


After the events of The Iron King, The Strangled Queen picks up immediately after King Phillip’s death, with his weakling son, Louis X, coming to the throne. As Louis struggles to assert himself and navigate the tangled strands of family and politics that surround him, the chief worry of the court is his wife – Marguerite of Bourgogne, the adulteress locked in prison and waiting to know her fate. As the church attempts to choose a new Pope and the country falls into famine, the complex rivalries at court will tear the country apart, leading to a crime that will haunt the country for years to come…

The Strangled Queen was a great continuation of The Iron King, picking up almost immediately after the last book and continuing the storylines introduced in the first book. We once again follow as courtiers, bankers and kings struggle within the tangled web of rivalries, family fueds and class wars, and it is definitely a good idea to pick this one up not too long after the first. The title gives away a major plotpoint later in the book, obviously, but for anyone with a knowledge of history the eventual fate of Marguerite of Bourgogne is not a major surprise. That fate, though, is really secondary to the complex plotting, scheming and intrigue that goes on between Charles of Valois and Enguerrand de Marigny, plotting that takes many twists and turns before the end of the book. In the centre of this is Louis, a weak man who has responsibility and power foisted on him and who deals with it as best he can… which unfortunately is not very well at all. Louis’ character is not appealing but it is interesting, giving us a glimpse into the fractured psyche of a man whose fears and insecurities look set to drag his country down with him. Thanks to this character, and the constant comparison with his younger brother, Maurice Druon does a good job of shining a light on the utterly illogical means of choosing a leader under any kind of political system where the first bon son follows his father, thus putting aside other siblings who might be much more suited to the job.

I gave The Strangled Queen 4 stars.

vendredi 5 septembre 2014

The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler


Returning from their victorious – but costly – campaign in Khandar, Janus bet Vhalnich and his loyal deputies Marcus d’Ivoire and Winter Ihernglass find that the kingdom of Vordan is in turmoil. The king is on his deathbed, leaving no one but his daughter to take his place. Princess Raesinia, though, is a woman with a secret, one that may have placed herself – and the kingdom – into the hands of the dangerous Duke Orlanko. When she turns to Janus, newly named Minister of Justice, the kingdom finds itself on a collision course with events that may throw the entire nation into chaos…

The Thousand Names was a highlight of the fantasy world last year, a well-written, exciting debut that introduced an intriguing world and some fantastic characters. The book wrapped up its own story but introduced a large amount of new possibilities, many of which are explored in The Shadow Throne. Django Wexler does a great job of expanding on those, creating a society at boiling point and a city that is about to explode. Thanks to a couple of new point of view characters, including the Crown Princess, we are introduced to the capital city of Vordan, a place reminiscent of 19th century Paris in the stresses and tensions lying just below the surface. Wexler brings all of this to boil and allows it to overflow, creating a tense, exciting second half to the novel after a more leisurely build up. Everything builds to a fantastic climax that bodes well for the future of the series, introducing some major new antagonists for our characters to deal with. A fantastic follow up to what is shaping up to be a major fantasy.

I gave The Shadow Throne 5 stars.