Extract from Myke Cole's SIEGE LINE


Here's an extract from Myke Cole's soon-to-be-released Siege Line, courtesy of the folks at Ace. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

In Myke Cole’s latest high-octane, action-packed military fantasy, the fate of undead Navy SEAL James Schweitzer will be decided—one way or another…

The Gemini Cell took everything from Jim Schweitzer: his family, his career as a Navy SEAL, even his life. Hounded across the country, Schweitzer knows the only way he can ever stop running, the only way his son can ever be safe, is to take the fight to the enemy and annihilate the Cell once and for all.

But the Cell won’t be easily destroyed. Out of control and fighting a secret war with the government it once served, it has dispatched its shadowy Director to the far reaches of the subarctic in search of a secret magic that could tip the balance of power in its favor. Schweitzer must join with the elite warriors of both America and Canada in a desperate bid to get there first—and avert a disaster that could put the Cell in control.

Enjoy!
-----------------------------

Mankiller threw the spear.

Her grandpa had taught her to play snowsnake when she was six, and thirty-six years later, the motion was second nature. Two shuffling steps, the arm whipping low, gently. She gave a little hiss of air as she released the shaft, not because she needed to, but because she always had.

The spear did look like a snake, a thin brown line skipping through the unbroken snow, sending up white puffs that revealed the thick ice of the frozen lake beneath. There was a soft thud as it struck the hay bale dead center, sending a spray of yellow across the white. Grampy always pumped a fist when he got a bull’s-eye, but Mankiller stood frozen in her throw. Moving too quickly after letting the spear go could alter its course if you weren’t careful.

Joe Yakecan snorted hard enough to set the fur edges of his hood waving. “Weak. That’d been a caribou, he’d ’a jus’ sniffed it and gone back to sleep.”

“Ain’t a caribou,” Mankiller said, still not moving. “’S a hay bale.”

“Ya think?”

Mankiller didn’t answer, trying to take in the moment like Grampy told her. The sun reflecting off the smooth white surface of the snow. The sharp bite of the air against her nose. The spear pointing like a compass needle perfectly centered in the hay bale’s side. Save the good ones, Wilma, Grampy always said. Remember ’em for the times when the sun won’t come up.

Yakecan must have taken her silence for anger, because he added, “I’m just kiddin’, Sheriff. It’s a good shot.”

“Great shot.” Mankiller finally turned to look at him, giving the tiny quirk of her hard line of a mouth that passed for a smile.

Yakecan looked like God had come down from heaven and stapled half a dozen animals together. He was as big as a grizzly, had a face like a Saint Bernard. His wide cheeks hung down to his neck, chins overlapping just enough to tell the world that this was a man who liked beer, fried chicken, and chocolate. He was as furry as a beaver, and it didn’t help that he was always cold despite all that blubber. He covered himself in even more furs until he looked like a walrus.

Yakecan had been her deputy since Mankiller came to Fort Resolution after her tour in Afghanistan. She’d read his file from the Army, knew what he’d done in Iraq. Their first job together had been putting cuffs on Albert Haida after he beat up his wife. Haida was even bigger than Joe, and a mean drunk to boot. Haida had resisted, and turned out to be more than Mankiller had bargained for. She knew that he’d have hurt her, maybe even killed her, if it hadn’t been for Yakecan. He might be as big as a grizzly, but Joe was as fast as a striking eagle. Haida was on his back, knocked senseless, before Mankiller knew Yakecan had even moved. When the Yellowknife cops came to take custody of Haida, they’d asked Mankiller how she’d got so banged up. Yakecan could have said Haida’d gotten the drop on her, that she’d needed him to save her. But he only stood there, smiling. I’ve got you covered, that smile said.

She never forgot it.

Yakecan smiled his usual smile now, open and easy, the kind of smile that made you feel rested. “A great shot,” he conceded. “Even harder jus’ goin’ over the open snow.”

“But you think you can do better.”

“Hell, I know I can.” Yakecan’s smile got so big, his cheeks disappeared inside his hood. “Watch thi—”

A howl split the air, long and mournful.

Yakecan’s smile vanished. He glanced up at the bright sun, bent to retrieve the rifle where it lay propped against a small boulder of ice.

She put a hand on his elbow. “C’mon, Joe. You know that . . .”

But Yakecan’s eyes were scanning the horizon, the gun already at the low ready. “All right, Wilma. Can’t be too careful . . .”

He only called her by her first name when he was frightened.

“Joe, look at me.”

His eyes stopped scanning, met hers. She stared back. Her calming stare, “Sergeant’s Eyes,” her lieutenant had called them.

“Joe, they’re howling in the middle of the day. You know what kind of wolves these are.”

As if on cue, another howl sounded, closer this time. Yakecan’s eyes snapped away, and Mankiller followed his gaze to a low line of stunted trees, jagged gray limbs struggling through the thick snow.

A small shape, gray as the dead growth around it, detached itself from the trees, slunk along the icy ridge, its head turned toward them. Two dots burned in the center, brighter than the shining snow around them. Twin dancing fires, silver threaded with lines of thin gold. Wilma looked into the wolf’s eyes for a moment, and then it turned its head away, trotted along the ridge.

Mankiller gave the animal a tentative wave, felt her heart swell. She swallowed the emotion, kept her hand on Yakecan’s elbow until he finally sighed, letting the rifle barrel dip to the ground. She couldn’t resist crossing herself with her other hand.

It was a moment before she could speak. “Come on, Joe. It’s your throw.”

Yakecan didn’t move, tracking the wolf’s progress. “I don’t like turnin’ my back on ’em.”

“You know they ain’t gonna hurt you,” Mankiller says. “Might be your grandma under that fur.”

“Yeah,” Yakecan said, setting the rifle down. “S’pose you’re right. Might as well show you how the game is played, eh?” The smile was back, but there was no warmth in it now. “Need the spear.” He nodded toward the brown line sticking out of the hay bale.

“That’s right,” Mankiller said. “So, go get it, Deputy.”

Yakecan’s laugh was genuine. “Aye, ma’am.”

He trotted toward the spear, froze as another sound echoed toward them.

Not a howl this time. A low, rhythmic thudding. Distant but growing closer.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Helicopter?” Mankiller asked, but she already knew she was right.

“Yeah. We expectin’ anybody?”

Mankiller shook her head. “Probably droppin’ off hunters, or a research team.”

Yakecan looked doubtful. “We’d have heard ’bout that.”

Mankiller grunted. “Maybe they’re jus’ . . . passin’ through.”

“We’re in the middle of fuckin’ nowhere, boss. Nobody jus’ passes through.”

Mankiller grunted again. The rotors were much closer now, loud enough for the roaring of the turbines to be heard. “Sounds like a pretty big helo.”

“Military,” Yakecan said.

“Why would they be flyin’—”

“They wouldn’t. At least, they never have before.”

Mankiller nodded. “Think we better get out of sight.”

Yakecan moved with his deceptive speed, snatching up spear and hay bale in a single smooth motion. Mankiller retrieved the rifle and led the way toward an icy gulch carved by the runoff of a day that passed for warm this far north. The melting snow had washed a sizeable pile of bracken down the slope, forming it into a makeshift lean-to when it refroze.

Yakecan fell in behind her instinctively, crouching his way down the slope, his tread surprisingly quiet despite the frozen crust over the snow. He held the hay bale easily in his huge arms, his breathing smooth and even. Ever since Afghanistan, Mankiller had always felt uncomfortable with her back exposed. On the few occasions she ate at Bullock’s in Yellowknife, she always chose a chair with her back to the wall. Not when Yakecan was around. She kept her eyes front and scrambled under the frozen cover, felt Yakecan jostle her shoulder as he joined her.

The roar of the helo engine was even louder now, the dull whup whup whup of the rotors sounding like they were just over the ridge where she’d seen the wolf. Yakecan wedged his giant head up toward the icy cracks in the sticks overhead, his broad cheek pushing against her own with all the grace of a drunken bear.

“Move, you idiot,” she whispered.

He ignored her, “I can’t see it, boss. Sounds like it’s right over us.”

“Calm down,” Mankiller said, grabbing a fistful of Yakecan’s hood and pulling his head back. “Let me look.”

The film of ice over the sticks refracted the light, a prismatic spray of color that danced at the edges of her vision, but Mankiller had been squinting practically since the day she was born. There was an art to it, a thing that every Dene mastered by the time they were a few years old, scrunching your eyes just enough to keep you from seeing stars, but not so much that you missed what you were after. Yakecan said it was bright like that in Iraq, only it was the sun shining off the sand instead of the snow.

The bright white outside first wavered, then bent, then finally resolved as she got her eyes just the right degree of closed. She swept her gaze up, over the hill, unerringly tracking the echo of the rotors to their source in the ice-blue sky.

A huge rotor churned above a gray oval, no bigger than a football from this distance. It looked a little like a much larger version of the American Black Hawks that had shuttled her from hilltop to hilltop in the Korengal Valley, jammed shoulder to shoulder with soldiers from Montreal or Kansas or Tbilisi or any other of a legion of places she’d never see.

But the Army helos were green or, if they were one of the newer ones, that weird digital camouflage pattern that was so easy to see, it might as well have been hot pink. This one was a silk gray that matched the tenor of the sky. The angles of the airframe were different, softer and more numerous, a deft series of geometrical tweaks that made her eye want to slide right off it. Army Black Hawks flew rough, huge wheels dragging at the air, the shuddering cabin making all inside sore, tired, and vaguely sick after just a few minutes in the air. This helo was as smooth as a bullet. No lights. No weapon pods. No markings of any kind.

She could feel Yakecan digging in his pockets, jostling her as he searched. “Mighta left my field glasses in he—”

“Don’t need ’em.” Mankiller cut him off, elbowing him back. Just as there was an art to squinting, there was an art to seeing too, and the two were closely related. She squeezed her eyes shut more, shrinking the light down further. Her peripheral vision vanished, but in the tunnel that remained, all was made clear.

It took her a moment to reacquire the helo, but once she did, it looked much as she’d expected. The huge bay doors were open, a gunner hidden behind the hardpoint affixed to the airframe. Mankiller could see the telltale lined cylinder of a minigun barrel, the long cable of the ammunition feed snaking inside.

“Is it military?” Yakecan asked.

“Looks like a Black Hawk, only four times the size,” Mankiller said. “Loaded for bear. They have twenty-mil cannons on your ride in Iraq?”

“Yeah,” Yakecan said. “Vulcan or some shit. That what’s on there?”

“I count two. Guns out. Barrel’s moving a bit; someone’s harnessed up and watching. Good thing we got cover.”

“What, did a war break out in Canada?”

“Not as far as I know.”

“Well, shit. Is it American?”

“How the hell am I supposed to know?”

Yakecan sounded frustrated. “Well, what flag’s on the tailboom, boss?”

“No flag.”

“There’s always a flag.”

“No flag. No number. No nothing.”

“That’s some spy shit.”

The tenor of the rotors changed from a dull thudding to a higher-pitched whirring, the blades sounding almost frantic as they took on more load.

“It’s comin’ down,” Mankiller said.

Yakecan crowded up toward the gap in the sticks again. “Why?”

“’S a transport,” Mankiller said. “Probably lettin’ folks off.”

“Why the heck would they let folks off here?”

The helo sank lower and lower, so fast that Mankiller’s stomach dropped a little, just as it would have had she been inside during so rapid a descent. It was a skilled pilot who could lower a bird that big that fast without crashing it, but it wasn’t a pilot overly concerned with the comfort of their troops.

The pilot stopped the descent roughly fifty feet off the ground, jerking the airframe so hard that it practically bounced, making Mankiller wince. Ropes came flying out of the airframe, three to a side, thick black hawsers covered in some kind of fabric that she guessed would make them quiet as a whisper. A moment later, the first of the operators came down them. They were uniformly dressed in white, trousers bloused into combat boots, tactical vests and packs, carbines and pistols with enough mods and add-ons to make any holster-kisser drool. All were painted the exact color of the snow around them, slashed through with gray that mirrored the landscape. Even using her squinting trick, it was hard for Mankiller to focus on them.

Yakecan couldn’t miss them now. “What the . . .”

The men reached the end of the ropes, dropping into the snow, guns coming up to the low ready, spreading out from the circle of the helo’s rotor wash. She’d seen armed professionals execute the same maneuver every day in the war. These people knew their business. But the soldiers she knew had worn patches on their sleeves, flags of the nations that paid for all the expensive gear they carried. These operators were utterly unmarked, the gray-white surface of their parkas and tac vests marred only by the straps that held their ammunition and armor.

With a click, the belly of the airframe swung open, issuing a grinding roar almost as loud as the turbines spinning the rotors. Military transport helicopters usually offloaded from the ramp in the back, and Mankiller watched in shock as a giant metal cage lowered directly out from the bottom of the airframe, sinking slowly earthward on a thick metal cable. Somewhere in the cabin, there had to be a capstan, a winch, and one hell of a motor.

She looked at the helo’s modified airframe, the gear on the operators moving out beneath it. The metal winch and cable. All customizations off aftermarket military hardware. Whoever outfitted this mission had an awful lot of money.

The cage thudded into the snow, the cable detaching and hauling skyward.

Yakecan didn’t even bother speaking now. He stared, jaw open so wide, his chin disappeared below the parka’s zipper.

The operators had turned. They were pointing their weapons inward now, at the cage.

She did her squinting trick, brought it into better focus.

It writhed.

For a moment, she had the crazy idea that it was filled with fat, gray snakes, giant pale worms, sliding and crawling over one another, but a moment later, her vision came into full focus and she saw they weren’t worms. They were people.

The cage was packed with people straining and clawing at the bars.

“Jesus,” Yakecan crossed himself. “Are they naked?”

“Yeah,” Mankiller said. “All of ’em.”

“They’ll freeze. Ten minutes tops.”

“No,” Mankiller said. “I don’t think they will.”

The people in the cage were naked, but their skin was the color of old fish, the dirty gray of the snow on a well-used highway.

Their eyes burned. Like the wolf.

A shape appeared in the cabin door, leaning on the gun hardpoint. Now that Yakecan was looking at the cage and the ring of operators around it, he found the helo easily, eyes tracking up as the last of the cable winched in and disappeared inside the cabin. His eyes were wide enough already, but they looked like they were going to pop out of his head when they settled on what Mankiller was seeing.

“Is that a . . . a guy in a suit?”

“Yup,” Mankiller said.

“His head looks like a lightbulb.”

“He’s got a white hood on, or a mask or somethin’. It’s stretched over his face.”

“Wilma, what the hell is going on? This is the weirdest damn thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Mankiller nodded, put her hand out for the rifle. “We’re going back to town. We’ll come back for the ATV later. I don’t want to be throwin’ up that much noise now. We’ll walk.”

Yakecan looked grateful for the chance to put distance between himself and the spectacle outside their crude shelter. He immediately turned to scramble out from beneath the woven canopy of broken branches and ice, crouching as he made his way up the gulch’s far side. “You think they see us?” He whispered.

If they do, there ain’t much we’ll be able to do about it, Mankiller thought, but she said nothing. They hadn’t brought snowshoes, relying instead on the ATV’s broad tires. Now, hurrying on foot, they crunched and plunged through the crust on the surface of the snow with each step, making so much noise that it seemed to Mankiller they’d be heard even over the rotors. Her shoulders tensed with every step, waiting for a shot to ring out, to hear footsteps coming behind her.

But in the end, there was nothing, and before long, the rotors were fading in the distance and she and Yakecan entered a stand of stunted trees, following a winding logging trail that would see them back to Fort Resolution in an hour or so.

Mankiller plunged on in silence. There was a rhythm to labor, a drumbeat that reminded her of drum gatherings, or the beats they played at hand games. Following that beat let her lose herself in work, feeling only the steady pulsing of her feet crunching on the snow, rather than her aching legs, or the cold nipping at her nose.

But Yakecan had no ear for that rhythm. Fast and strong as he was, he didn’t like hard work, and Mankiller could always tell when he was avoiding it. It was the same when he was frightened, or hurting, or almost anything else. He talked. He talked and talked and never stopped.

“Boss.” Yakecan sounded winded, the snow sucking at his boots, sapping his strength as much as it did hers. “What the hell just happened?”

“I don’t know.”

“Yeah, but . . .” Yakecan began. There was more to the stuttering cadence of his speech. He wasn’t just winded; he was hesitant, timid. He was deeply frightened.

Mankiller didn’t blame him. So was she.

“Who were they? What do they want?”

“Nothing good,” Mankiller said. The light sputtered in the trees around them. The sun was going down, and it wouldn’t be long before the temperature plunged. “Come on.”

Quote of the Day

"Right," Thomas said. "Where are we headed?"

"To where they treat me like royalty," I said.

"We're going to Burger King?"

- JIM BUTCHER, Small Favor (Canada, USA, Europe)

It's so much fun to have Harry and Thomas together again!

Extract from Ian Cameron Esslemont's DEADHOUSE LANDING


The folks at tor.com have just posted an extract from Ian Cameron Esslemont's Deadhouse Landing. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Return to the turbulent history of what would become the Malazan Empire…

After the disappointments in Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To do so they join forces with a small band of Napans who have fled their home. However, Kellanved is soon distracted by a strange and dangerous ancient structure. Back in Li Heng, Dassem, now the proclaimed Sword of Hood, finds himself being blamed for a plague which leads him to a crisis of faith - and searching for answers.

During all this, the neighboring island of Nap threatens war and allies are beginning to wonder about Kellanved's sanity. Dancer now faces a hard choice: should he give up on his partnership? Especially when his friend’s obsession with shadows and ancient artifacts brings the both of them alarmingly close to death and destruction. After all, who in his right mind would actually wish to enter the Deadhouse?

Follow this link to read the excerpt.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 16th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King and Owen King’s Sleeping Beauties is down one spot, finishing the week at number 2. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View debuts at number 12.

In paperback:

Stephen King's It is down one position, ending the week at number 2 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is down two positions, ending the week at number 5 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Musical Interlude



RIP Gord Downie. =(

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!