Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Links

I recently took over the World Wide Wednesday column at It's a column that was traditionally handled by another reviewer. Well Amanda moved on to other things and I volunteered to take the reins. The article below is an exact copy of the one posted earlier in the week at FanLit. The links will remain pointed to fanlit as well as the Amazon associate links. This is a FanLit article, but also something I'm proud of that I wish to preserve routinely here on my own blog.

1) Amazon starts offering Bookscan data to authors: This is a big deal. Essentially Amazon has given authors a sales/marketing tool that publishers were dropping huge money for just a few years ago. The bad news is that some authors have already developed a complex from watching Amazon sales rankings, so watching sales in this kind of detail will likely drive them mad.

2) A Wrinkle in Time hits the stage : Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time is an important piece of children's literature, and the introduction of many kids into the world of Speculative Fiction. John Glore has taken this beloved classic and adapted it for stage, and has apparently done an excellent job of it.

3) Google Launches E-Book Store: Google takes a stab at Amazon by entering into the e-book market in a major way. Google not only has massive support from publishers, but it is also bringing along its substantial public domain library, too. So that copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel you’ve always wanted can finally be yours. Google books are both downloadable and web based. They are compatible with every device.... except Kindle.

4) A quick look at the bestselling Fantasy books on Amazon : I always find lists like these interesting. You are always going to see the regulars like Charlaine Harris and Stephenie Meyer hanging around. Then there are a few that surprise me like Michael Sullivan’s The Crown Conspiracy at #16. I’m not sure exactly how Amazon calculates the bestselling list, but it is nice to see some underdogs being listed up top.

5) World of Warcraft splits sales record skulls: I did my time in WoW, and then I got over it. I swore never to return, but this expansion sure did have me tempted. Couple that with $10 bundles for the game and first expansion... must... say... nooo.....

6) Five Sci-Fi Children's Books: This is just for laughs. Personally I like the Dr.Who cover the most.

7) Calling All Jim Butcher Fans…: Orbit UK wants to hear from you. Orbit has a busy Dresden schedule in 2011 in the UK and they wish to celebrate with a little feedback and some prizes. You can only win if you are in the UK, but it could still be fun to share why you're a Jim Butcher fan.

Author Chum

In this section I’ll post bits and pieces of news from various fantasy authors:

That wraps it up for this week. Thank you for joining me. Feel free to post your own links in the comments below, or submit them to me for next week via the contact form.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Review: Valentine's Resolve by E.E. Knight

Valentine's Resolve (Vampire Earth, Book 6)Some time has passed since the end of Valentine’s Exile, and in Valentine’s Resolve David Valentine is still in exile. He has spent many months wandering the Kurian zone exacting revenge on “Quisling” scum. When Styachowski and Duvalier find him in a remote outpost, he is alone, filthy, and just a little bitter. His former comrades convince him to take on a special mission for Southern Command. They need the help of the Lifeweavers and they believe Valentine may be the only one capable of finding them.

Valentine’s Resolve is a typical VAMPIRE EARTH novel, which is a good thing. At this point in a series it’s always great when the story is still fresh. E.E. Knight adds enough twists to keep the pages turning, and just enough drama to squeeze your heart a little. Great characters and good storytelling make this another solid edition to the tale of David Valentine.

I’ve read six of these books now and all have been a positive experience. The common themes are consistent from book to book. There is action, tragedy, violence, tough choices and a few moral lessons. These stories are like a favorite TV show that I anxiously await for each installment. You become so attached to the characters that you cringe with every bump they take. You definitely should pick up a VAMPIRE EARTH novel if you are looking for a fun and gritty read.

I think E.E. Knight might be afraid of his characters getting too predictable, though, so they have a tendency to do some strange and spontaneous things from time to time, and this holds true for Valentine’s Resolve. I’m very attached to these characters and always notice when they do something I wouldn’t think they would normally do. I also find there are a few plot devices often overused to move things along. I’m telling you now, if Valentine gets arrested and falsely imprisoned in the next book, I will scream.

I listened to Valentine’s Resolve on Audio CD from Brilliance Audio. It is read by Christian Rummel, who is manly man voice incarnate. Nobody in the business can go from sweet southern belle to battle-hardened drill sergeant like Mr. Rummel can. Congratulations to Rummel and the production team on another job well done. —Justin

You can also learn more about EE Knight’s books at the Fantasyliterature EE Knight page

Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Review: The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff

The Enchantment EmporiumAlysha Gale is 24 and jobless. Lack of funds ended the museum job she loved and has forced her to return back home. It is during this time she receives a mysterious letter from her estranged grandmother. The letter tells her she has inherited a store in Calgary, and must go and maintain it at once. The disappearance of the grandmother needs to be looked into, so the family agrees to let Alysha go and mind the store in order to solve the mystery.

There is a thing writers do to explain the world in which their story takes place, or to provide some history to the characters. This is called exposition, and some of it usually takes place at the start of a book. Exposition is important since it provides a foundation for the entire story. Too much exposition can be boring or tedious, but not enough can be disastrous. The Enchantment Emporium has no exposition at all. The story just starts and you’re left to figure things out from context. That might have been OK if the story was of a normal family in a setting you are familiar with. Unfortunately there is nothing normal about the Gale family or the world they live in.

The Gale family is governed by a collection of “Aunties.” The Aunties make all decisions regarding the family and generally give everyone, including each other, a hard time. Alysha’s return home coincides with a Gale family tradition called “Ritual,” so the house is abuzz with family coming home for the event Apparently “Ritual” is also rutting season for male family members, and their ethereal antlers are on display. Stay with me, it gets better. Family from all over the country are coming home for “Ritual,” and you meet around thirteen of them in the first few pages of the book. The Gales are a close family, so close, in fact, that they regularly have sex with one another. Cousin on cousin action is par for the course.

Throughout the beginning of the book, Alysha is often on the phone with other people. Her conversations with these people are sometimes used as narration. In one such scene Alysha has just entered the store she inherited from her Grandma and is “investigating” her disappearance. The person she is chatting with whilst rummaging through her grandma’s drawers is Michael, the gay love of her life who is now living with his boyfriend somewhere far away. The conversation goes as follows:

I don't care if one of them looks like yours, I'm not even considering the word interesting as a reaction to a drawer full of my grandmother's sex toys.

I ejected the CD, put it away and slid it back into the glove compartment. I turned on the radio and began to contemplate this review.

Tanya Huff has a lot of fans, and is obviously a talented author. The Enchantment Emporium is regularly given 4 and 5 star reviews. Our very own Ruth gave it 4.5 stars. I am quite confident the problem with the book is actually a problem with me. I can see no other explanation. I feel like I just tried to read the greatest book ever written and it’s in a language that everyone understands but me. I will probably lose sleep thinking about this book and wonder how I failed it. Maybe the context for this novel is in other Huff books? Tell me Tanya Huff fans, why isn’t this book as terrible as the opening chapter makes it out to be?

I took away at least one positive from my experience, and that was Teri Clark Linden. Teri is the voice actor of the Brilliance Audio version of the book. Teri captures the individual personalities of the many characters very well. She uses a Canadian accent for the Aunties that is both amusing and charming. The bickering amongst the Aunties around the kitchen is how I imagine the Palin household might sound like around Thanksgiving, “Dontchya know.” —Justin

You can also learn more about Tanya Huff’s books at the Fantasyliterature Tanaya Huff page

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Book Review:The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

The Broken Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy)The world has changed over the last several years and the opportunities that are now possible are too hard for Oree to resist, so she left home to seek a new life in Sky. Oree is an artist with a gift for seeing magic, but magic is the only thing she can see. She has set up shop in a promenade section of the great city and has created a pleasant life for herself there amongst friends and Godlings. Things start to get ugly, though, when Oree stumbles upon a dead Godling. The gods have become angry and the religious factions are looking for someone to blame. Oree’s unique abilities and proximity to the crime make her a prime suspect.

When I read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms I was taken completely by surprise. It was one of those rare moments where I read a book I was confident I wouldn’t like, only to be left speechless at my misjudgment when I was done. I had tremendous expectations for The Broken Kingdoms right from the start. I would even admit to saying my expectations were unreasonable, since there would be no way to repeat the feeling of surprise I had during the first book. Keep that in mind when I say that The Broken Kingdoms is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read.

The relationship between mortals and gods is expanded upon exponentially in this book. You learn about “Godlings” and some more about the original few gods introduced in book one. After the events of the first book, the Godlings have been confined within the city limits of Sky. Oree can see magic, so having Godlings running around leaving traces of it everywhere provides Oree a way to describe things in a very unique way. This is the primary device N.K. Jemisin uses to skirt around the fact her narrator is blind, and it works quite well.

The writing in The Broken Kingdoms feels uncluttered and natural. N.K. Jemisin is the very definition of a good storyteller. There is not a single moment anywhere in this book where I am taken out of her world by an awkward turn of phrase or a careless word. Considering how many words there are in the novel, that’s just a little more than impressive. In my opinion this is as close to flawless as you can get.

I was a little disappointed again that we still know so little about the actual Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. We get a glimpse at a few more lands and people, but not many when you consider how large the world is implied to be. This is not really a big issue, since I was kept in rapt attention from page one. I just hope Jemisin has plans beyond this trilogy for the world she created.

The tone of The Broken Kingdoms is a bit darker than that of the first book. A beautiful mesh of adventure and tragedy make up the heart of the book. I was definitely emotionally affected by the events that transpired. I was horrified, excited, and heartbroken many times over the course of the story. It’s been awhile since I read a book that took me on such a rollercoaster.

I listened to this story on Audio CD by Brilliance Audio. They retained Casaundra Freeman from the first book, which I was glad to hear. Oree has a subtle fearlessness that Freeman’s voice portrays very well. Freeman gives life to Jemisin’s characters in a way I think very few could. The Broken Kingdoms is a wonderful story, and is on my shortlist for book of the year. —Justin

You can also learn more about N.K. Jemisin's’s books at the Fantasyliterature N.K. Jemisin page

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Silliest "Green Product" I Could Find: Spoons are Hurting the Planet

We've all been the local department store and have seen the vast array of "Green" products available. Going "Green" is a good thing and I encourage corporations to keep pushing the Green agenda. It's one of those win win type of policies. The safer your product is for the environment the better off we are regardless of how small the actual impact might be.. However, I am not going to be highlighting any of the good products out there( does that). I plan to highlight the fringes of the Green marketing fad. Whether you accept the scientific consensus of Climate Change or not, you should enjoy this segment on really silly green products. I f happen across any silly green products send me a picture at geeksonfireblog (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll post it up in another segment.

Green Spoons

Seriously? Spoons are a problem?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Review: Side Jobs by Jim Butcher

Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden FilesSide Jobs is a collection of short stories from THE DRESDEN FILES. Some of the stories have been previously published in other collections, and some are being published for the first time. The timeline for the stories range from before Storm Front to after Changes, so aspects from every possible point in time in Harry Dresden’s life are represented.

There isn’t much of a central theme to Side Jobs, besides Harry himself. This collection is exclusively for Dresden fans — it makes no sense for anyone who hasn’t read all 13 novels to even take a peek at Side Jobs. Since it’s for fans, one of the most enjoyable parts of this collection is the opening comments by Butcher prior to each story. He provides some personal insight into the making of the story and THE DRESDEN FILES as a whole.

Side Jobs opens with the first story ever written about Harry Dresden which Mr. Butcher wrote as a writing assignment for a class at a local university. He has this to say about “A Restoration of Faith”:

It was perhaps the third or fourth short story I’d ever written, if you include projects in grade school…. Read this story for what it is — an anxious beginner’s first effort, meant to be simple, straightforward fun.

He’s a little hard on himself since the story was actually quite good. It was cool to see the DRESDEN characters in their infancy, only hinting at the fully developed versions in the books today. Side Jobs progresses chronologically in the DRESDEN Universe. Along the way you get treated to some real gems, like the very hard to find Subterranean Press novella Backup. There are many fans that have never read this, and will now finally get the chance.

Backup isn’t the only novella included. Aftermath is the final story, and it takes on the perspective of Sgt. Karen Murphy just hours after the events of Changes. There isn’t much progression in the overall DRESDEN story, but it is a nice teaser to get you through until Ghost Story is released next spring.

DRESDEN fans will be delighted with this collection of stories. The quality of the writing varies depending on the time and circumstances in which they were written. Most of the stories are meant to be as Butcher said: “simple, straightforward fun,” and mostly it’s the novellas that take a more serious tone.

I listened to Side Jobs on MP3 audio from Penguin Audio (downloadable now). James Marsters returns as the voice of Harry Dresden and he's fantastic, as always. The day they switch to a different voice actor will be the last time I listen to DRESDEN on audio — for me, Marsters has become essential to the DRESDEN audio experience. —Justin

You can also learn more about Jim Butcher's books at the Fantasyliterature Butcher's page

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review:Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey

Kill the Dead: A Sandman Slim Novel (Sandman Slim Novels)Richard Kadrey’s Kill the Dead is the sequel to Sandman Slim, and James Stark has been keeping himself busy working for various entities in order to pay the rent. The Devil is one of the entities that makes use of Stark’s services, and he wants Stark to serve as his bodyguard while he’s in town on business. Stark is forced to juggle the obligations of both Heaven and Hell, and manages to place himself in the middle of a conflict that started at the dawn of time.

Richard Kadrey’s writing style is awesome. Seriously, I want this guy to write my epitaph after I die. I imagine it would go something like this:

“Here lies Justin Blazier. If you owe him money, you’re a lucky son of a bitch.”

Kadrey continues the gritty shit-kicking approach to writing that made the first novel so great. However, I do use the word “gritty” with some reservations. If I were to create a “Justin’s Scale O’Grittiness” and use it to grade the SANDMAN SLIM novels — it would look something like this:

Normal Gritty = Rugged cowboy squints at the sun and then says something manly.

Using that as a base of grittiness and then applying it to a SANDMAN SLIM novel:

Sandman Slim Gritty = Rugged cowboy squeals in terror whilst getting gang raped by coyotes and left to die on a cactus in the middle of the desert.

Now that I’ve established some perspective you might understand why “gritty” fails as an adequate descriptor.

If you thought Sandman Slim was sparse on the secondary characters’ development, book 2 doesn’t even try. Stark’s friends Vidocq, Allegra, Kinsky and Candy are all relegated to just a few pages. I found their lack of face time to be rather disappointing, since all the characters I just mentioned were worth spending more time with. Stark’s character comes off as sort of whiny, which is a contrast from the previous book. Stark was always prone to complaining, but in Kill the Dead it’s all he does. Stark redeems himself by the end of the story, and in hindsight the change in Stark is more than likely intentional, but it’s just a tad overdone.

The plot of Kill the Dead is fun and exciting. Kadrey uses a few Urban Fantasy staples, but does so in creative ways. Kadrey’s Zombies, for example, come in several varieties, ranging from the shuffling groaning kind to the chess-playing savant kind. Kill the Dead also contains angels, demons, homeland security, warrior gypsies and even a porn star. Kadrey brings all these elements together to create a truly unique universe.

I listened to Kill the Dead on audio CD by Brilliance Audio. The audiobook is voiced by MacLeod Andrews. Mr. Andrews sounds abrasive with a sarcastic edge, the perfect voice to portray Stark. However, his portrayal of Vidocq’s French accent makes him sound more mentally challenged than anything else. The other characters are fine, but none possess the personality he imbues into Stark. The audio version is worth listening to simply to hear Macleod give life to James Stark.

Kadrey has an awesome writing formula and has solidified Sandman Slim as one of my favorite fantasy characters. Fans of urban or dark fantasy should be required by law to read at least the first novel, which is the better one. Richard Kadrey is a man with a lot of talent and strange interests, and I for one am glad he has chosen to express some of them in the form of SANDMAN SLIM. —Justin

You can also learn more about Richard Kadreye’s books at the Fantasyliterature Richard Kadrey page

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review:Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Sandman SlimI’m not sure what’s wrong with me lately. I keep finding myself reading some gloriously blasphemous works of fantasy literature. I reviewed Jesse Bullington’s The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart and accepted that it could very well show up as a stain on my soul’s credit report. Now, having just finished Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim, I might as well file eternal bankruptcy.

James Stark was betrayed and sent to hell for 11 years. While in Hell he learned a few things like killing, drinking heavily, and swearing like it was an Olympic sport. James Stark’s only goals are payback for his banishment, and revenge for the murder of his one true love... Anything else that happens along the way is just a bonus.

Stark’s one-track mind makes him seem a little self-centered. Combine that with his colorful vocabulary, and Stark is nearly unapproachable. On the other hand, he’s also funny, tremendously powerful, and becoming a better person despite his best efforts to the contrary. Stark grew on me, and by the end of the story I ranked him among my favorite characters in fantasy literature.

Kadrey’s writing is solid and surprisingly eloquent in its own way. You literary nerds who just spit your drink on your monitors, please clean off your screen and hear me out. Richard Kadrey has a way with words; his descriptions and images are vivid and creative and his metaphors are simultaneously both funny and accurate. For example, when Stark walks in on a dark magic ceremony, he comments:

Don't devil worshipers have any imagination? It's like a Hot Topic Halloween party.

Or when he tries on some Kevlar:

I’ll wear the liner under the over-coat and hope it’s not so bulky I look like a robot in a bathrobe.

In just a couple of concise sentences, Kadrey lets me know exactly what the scene looks like — and he makes me laugh. The verbiage is also very modern. It’s rife with pop-culture references and slang, so in 20 years it will feel a little dated, but who chooses a fantasy book purely based on its potential future relevance? I also didn’t mind the vulgarity, and found it quite refreshing compared to the politically-correct word choices in a lot of today’s books.

Sandman Slim hit the bull's-eye for me. It contained humor, a gritty style, and a fast pace — everything I love about urban fantasy. —Justin

You can also learn more about Richard Kadreye’s books at the Fantasyliterature Richard Kadrey page

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Review:Beyond Exile by J.L. Bourne

Day by Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile (Book 2)Your personal guide in this rotten wasteland is the still unnamed naval officer from Day by Day Armageddon. J.L. Bourne’s Beyond Exile starts immediately following the journal entry at the end of the first book with the narrator and his companions residing in a relatively secure location. Life has begun to feel somewhat normal. However, normalcy quickly deteriorates, and the places that were once safe are now death traps. With bravery, luck, and a little ingenuity they may just find a way to be safe again.

J.L. Bourne steps up his game in Beyond Exile and really weaves a great story. Bourne backs off a little from the “dear diary” premise of Day by Day Armageddon, and the story is no longer solely delivered through the journal entries. There are extended dialog and action sequences, neither of which is as prevalent in the first novel. Relaxing the rules of his first person narrative has allowed Bourne to tell his story in an exciting way. Bourne doesn’t hesitate to write dialog or give details that would not be normally be transcribed in someone’s journal. While I was pretty ho-hum about the first book, I found myself enjoying Beyond Exile a great deal. This is quality writing, and Bourne has taken the Zombie Apocalypse premise and has made a little niche of his own.

The narrator is a reluctant bad ass with a lot of heart and a good head on his shoulders. He is a very likeable character and he is easy to identify with. The drawback of the epistolary style is that the journal writer is really the only character you get to know.

Beyond Exile is a must read for zombie fans, and may likely provide an interesting diversion for non-undead aficionados too. I listened to Beyond Exile on audio CDs (Brilliance Audio). Once again, Jay Snyder who does an excellent job portraying Bourne’s narrator. Beyond Exile makes for a great listen, and audio may be the best way to experience the zombie apocalypse. —Justin

You can also learn more about J.L. Bourne’s books at the Fantasyliterature J.L. Bourne page

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book Review: Valentine's Exile by E.E. Knight

Valentine's Exile (Vampire Earth, Book 5)E.E. Knight’s Valentine’s Exile begins shortly after the events of Valentine’s Rising. David Valentine and his platoon of Razorbacks have just finished playing the key role in saving Southern Command from complete destruction. Valentine’s troops are mobilized to Dallas, a city currently held by the Kurians. When the Razorbacks save the day again, Valentine is promoted and is given three months leave. Things do not work out as planned, and Valentine finds himself exiled from his homeland as a fugitive under suspicion of murder.

Valentine’s Exile is a standard addition to the VAMPIRE EARTH series. Like the rest of the series, it is a violent romp through a post-apocalyptic war zone of gooey vampires and enemy agents. The VAMPIRE EARTH series does many things extremely well. The cast is colorful and unique, and they almost always return for another adventure. The stories are just shallow enough to leave you wanting to read the next installment. However, there are some things they do very poorly, and Valentine’s Exile just happens to be one of the clearest examples of some things I don’t like about VAMPIRE EARTH.

Characters have a tendency to act out of character in order to move the plot along in a certain directions. E.E. Knight also likes to use courtroom drama to make major plot shifts in the overall story. So far there have been at least three courtroom battles that have generated major plot twists. In VAMPIRE EARTH, it seems you cannot change direction in a story without one an act of random homicidal violence or a trumped up criminal charge.

Despite a few “what the fuh..?” moments, I did enjoy Vampire’s Exile. Once again I listened to Knight’s story on Brilliance Audio CD. Christian Rummel is the voice talent, and he is, as always, superb. Some day, I will do a recorded interview with Rummel and make him do the entire piece in his Alessa Duvalier voice. —Justin

You can also learn more about EE Knight’s books at the Fantasyliterature EE Knight page

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Book Review:The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy)I’m not quite sure where to begin talking about N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I guess I should start with my pre-reading impressions. This book came recommended to me from a few here at Fanlit, and from many authors and blogs, but I resisted reading it for quite some time. There was nothing in the descriptions that really caught my fancy. It sounded like a typical high or epic fantasy, and even the title, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, seemed to confirm my initial thoughts. I kept thinking, a whole hundred thousand? Will there be a hundred thousand royal family members with a hundred thousand titles? How about a hundred thousand political squabbles? I’m not a big fan of the type of fantasy with long lists of families and loads of political intrigue, and I was so sure that The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was going to be just like that. I was an idiot.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is the first person account of Yeine Darr. Yeine is one of three heirs to the Arameri crown. After her mother’s death she was whisked away from her northern barbarian home to the capital city of Sky. She is to compete with the two other heirs for the right to succeed the reigning king, Dakarta. No one knows why Dakarta brought Yeine out of the rural north to be a part of the succession events. You can imagine what would happen in a game of deadly politics between a highly intelligent and savage young lady and the spoiled and educated master schemers of the royal family. To say the least, things quickly get interesting.

The most amazing part of this book is Yeine herself. She is one of the most engaging and charming characters I’ve ever read. She is the sole voice of the story and always stays in character while describing the events of the story.

There are also plenty of gods with unique personalities who each bring something different to the table. There are only a few characters who Jemisin spends a lot of ink on, and the rest are left a little underdeveloped. The world itself is also left a little unexplained. The story’s focus is on the capital city of Sky, and the Arameri family that resides there, so the other lands and peoples, except Yeine’s homeland of Darr, are left in the background. I hope that will change in the sequels.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is beautifully written and I enjoyed the story a great deal. The fact that this is Jemisin’s debut novel is disgusting. That one person could contain this much talent is a crime upon humanity. Jemisin will join Pat Rothfuss on my “List Of Disgustingly Talented Authors Who I Should Hate From Jealousy, But Can’t Because They Are Too Awesome Not To Love” (The LODTAWISHFJBCBTATANTL, for short). Seriously, the writing is both vivid and entertaining with a very reader-friendly pace and I appreciated that there was none of the hoighty-toighty self-indulgent Arthurian hooey in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

I listened to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms on Brilliance Audio CD. It was narrated by Casaundra Freeman. Casaundra was amazing. It’s extremely important that the voice actor of a first-person story become that character in the reader’s mind. If a voice is too different than what you would imagine then it is difficult to become engaged. That is definitely not a problem in this version of the book. Ms. Freeman is Yeine, and a delight to listen to. I highly recommend this version, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting the sequel, The Broken Kingdoms coming in November 2010. —Justin

You can also learn more about N.K. Jemisin's’s books at the Fantasyliterature N.K. Jemisin page

Book Review:Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne

Day by Day ArmageddonDay by Day Armageddon is a fictional journal of an unnamed Navy pilot depicting the daily events of the zombie apocalypse. The journal begins with a new year’s resolution, describes newscasts about a virus outbreak in china, then continues to describe each day as things around the world get progressively worse, leading to the eventual total collapse of modern society.

J.L. Bourne has not brought anything new to the table as far as zombie lore goes. He sticks to the fundamentals laid out by George A. Romero’s films. These zombies are slow, stupid, and they bite. They also moan and shuffle around. Many zombie fans see this as a purist’s approach to zombie fiction; I see it as unoriginal.

However, despite the lack of an original premise, I was able to enjoy the story quite a bit. Bourne is a good writer, sticking with the concise verbiage you might expect from a military officer keeping a journal. At first I was taken aback by the intensity in the journal entries — I kept thinking there is no way a real person would take the time to write that much detail — and then I decided to stop being an ass and enjoy the book for what it was: a good story.

Zombie fans will adore Day by Day Armageddon. Non-zombie enthusiasts should probably give it a pass. Personally, I’ve never been all that frightened by zombie stories, and the slow moving stupid-heads that run amok in this story are the least frightening of all. Of all the possible Armageddons, a zombie apocalypse is at the bottom of my anxiety list. Shuffling moaners that cannot turn a doorknob are nothing more than target practice. However, a robot army apocalypse is another matter entirely, or even worse… sentient squirrels. —Justin

You can also learn more about J.L. Bourne’s books at the Fantasyliterature J.L. Bourne page

Mayfair Games to Sponsor Gen Con Indy for 2011

*Press Release*

INDIANAPOLIS (September 30, 2010) Gen Con is pleased to announce that Mayfair Games will be an official co-sponsor of Gen Con Indy 2011. Mayfair Games will be increasing the scope of its activities at the show in a number of ways, certain to resonate with attendees. Gen Con Indy will take place at the Indiana Convention Center August 4-7, 2011.

³Mayfair Games is thrilled to be a co-sponsor of Gen Con,² said Larry Roznai, President, Mayfair Games. ³Mayfair is totally dedicated to making the gaming experience for the entire family the best it can be and being a co-sponsor of Gen Con will allow us to create that kind of amazing experience.²

The Settlers of CatanAttendees can look forward to Mayfair Games and its licensees having an increased presence in the Exhibit Hall. Attendees will walk along Mayfair Blvd, Catan Strasse and Funfair St. to see and demo the latest products in the Mayfair Games product lines. Mayfair will add additional demo tables and increase the scope of The Great Mayfair Ribbon Quest. By playing in tournaments, events and demos conducted by Mayfair, attendees will have the opportunity to earn ribbons that will allow them to become Knights and Defenders of Catan (along with the fabulous prizes that go with their rank).

³Mayfair Games is going to blow the roof off at Gen Con Indy 2011! The Mayfair Games staff really understands how to build fun for all ages. Gen Con is so happy to have Mayfair games helping us to fulfill our mission, which is to create ŒThe Best Four Days In Gaming¹ every year.² said Adrian Swartout, CEO of Gen Con.

Mayfair will continue to sponsor the Training Grounds as well. This, along with the Mayfair Pages and Squires Program will offer fun for families and younger gamers.

For more competitive game players, Mayfair will host the 2011 North American Catan Championship tournament. The NACC Champion will receive a trip to the
2012 Worldwide Catan Championship to compete in the tournament as the North American Representative. Players not yet qualified will be able to compete for admission to the NACC through Masters tournaments running on Thursday and Friday at Gen Con.

About Mayfair Games
Mayfair Games, founded in 1981, is an independent publisher of high quality games designed for gamers and family play. More information at .

About Gen Con
Gen Con, LLC produces the largest consumer hobby, fantasy, sci-fi and adventure game convention in North America. It was acquired in 2002 by former CEO and founder of Wizards of the Coast Peter Adkison, who owns the company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Gen Con is a consumer and trade experience dedicated to gaming culture and community. Follow us at, and for more information visit

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lorrie Morgan and Blue Oyster Cult Lawrenceburg FallFest in Indiana

The Lawrenceburg FallFest was going on this week. Two musical groups came to eat in our restaurant, Blue Oyster Cult and Lorrie Morgan. Everyone was super nice. I appreciate that they all decided to come a give Thai Seasons a try. It probably helped a little that we were 30 feet from the
Lorrie was a sweet heart, Thanks!
Thank you Blue Oyster Cult!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Book Review: Valentine's Rising by E.E. Knight

Valentine's Rising (Vampire Earth)Valentine’s Rising takes place immediately following the disastrous end of the previous novel, Tale of the Thunderbolt. The disaster was widespread and has changed Southern Command forever, and David Valentine and his remaining men must find ways to survive the situation. Valentine’s Rising is a tale of espionage, sacrifices, and all-out war.

E.E. Knight sticks with the same format he’s always used in the VAMPIRE EARTH novels: plenty of action, hard choices, and cool characters. Over the course of the series I’ve gotten to know the cast of characters quite well. I often know what each of them would do in a given situation. Valentine, for instance, always has to make the tough choices for the greater good. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty when it comes to neutralizing the enemy or asking his men to die for him. He will almost always find the optimum solution, usually at some great expense to himself. He carries the burdens of those decisions so others don’t have to.

There are several instances in Valentine’s Rising, though, that made me reconsider my understanding of David Valentine. Some of the decisions he makes feel out of character. I almost stopped reading at one point, thinking Knight had suffered a stroke while writing this novel. I stuck with the story and by the end I was feeling better, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in the way some things turned out. This is merely the nitpicking of a fan, rather than an actual literary criticism, though.

E.E. Knight’s no-nonsense writing style is solid and makes for a fun and quick read. Page-long descriptions of the color of the grass are not to be found in the VAMPIRE EARTH series. The clipped tone and fast pace fit the world very well, and are major reasons why I enjoy this series so much.

Valentine’s Rising is available in audiobook form from Brilliance Audio. Christian Rummel puts on a stellar performance. Like so many of the narrators in the Audible/Brilliance coffers, Rummel is the permanent voice of the VAMPIRE EARTH characters in my head. I would love to someday visit the studio where these books are recorded. These are not just books being read to you; they are performances, and I bet they would be fun to watch.

You can also learn more about EE Knight’s books at the Fantasyliterature EE Knight page

Friday, September 3, 2010

Testing my new phone

I got an HTC aria, android phone. I'm using Blogger-Droid app to post this. I've attached a picture of my restaurant to test with.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.8

Friday, August 20, 2010

Geeks on Fire goes to Gencon Indy 2010...meets famous people.

Each year in Indianapolis thousands gather for what’s called “The Best 4 days in gaming.” Gencon Indy was held from August 5th though the 8th. This gathering of nerds is the largest of its kind in the country. If you are into Dungeons and Dragons or board games, this is your Mecca. Over 8600 gaming related activities are held over the four days the convention takes place. Gencon is awesome, but you may be wondering how much it relates to fantasy. The truth is, without fantasy as inspiration, Gary Gygax would have never created Dungeons and Dragons. Without Fantasy or Science Fiction the worlds in which these games are based would not exist. At Gencon you will find long lines for both Will Wheaton and R.A. Salvatore. I decided to attend Gencon on behalf of FantasyLiterature in order to explore the elements that relate to us fantasy fans, and to take pictures of people much nerdier than me.

I arrived at the Indiana convention center at about 9am, found a parking space.  I soon spotted what I would lovingly call a “Nerd Herd” headed east. It was easy to spot, at least three of the group were carrying foam battle axes, in full armor complete with wire framed glasses. I was able to blend in smoothly with my sandal shod feet and FanLit dragon t-shirt. Don’t let me fool you, I was just as excited as the myopic barbarian next to me. I’ve been attending Gencon for years, and I’ve rarely felt more amongst my kind than among the slightly overweight warriors, wizards and pink haired Japanese school girls.

The Guild: Seasons 1 & 2My first surprise was when I walked into the press to get my credentials. I was warned an interview was going on and to be careful not to make any noise. Sitting at a long table was Sandeep Parikh and Robin Thornsen from the very popular web series The Guild. I love The Guild in its high quality independent awesomeness. As I made for the exit I noticed that Felicia Day was sitting in one of the chairs along the wall. In the realm of geekdom, she is a queen. I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was for the press ambushing the guests of honor in the press room, but I decided a handshake and a few nervously mumbled words of appreciation would be below the threshold. She was nice, and probably frightened, but I did get across that point that I was a big fan and The Guild is awesome. I then ran from the room before I squealed in a very non journalistic fashion.
Salvatore reacts to seeing my homemade 8x10..of himself
It was going to be hard to top greeting Felecia day, but I was determined to try. I met up with my brother and his girlfriend and we made our way towards Author Alley in order to meet R.A. Salvatore. The line was long, but the wait was worth it. Mr. Salvatore was gracious with his time. He was chatty, friendly, and I walked away with some autographs and a free signed copy of The Ghost King. While in Author Alley I also approached Anton Strout, author of the Simon Canderous series and a Fanlit favorite. Anton was super awesome and my copy of Dead Matter was signed "Deadly Yours,". Whenever I go to meet an author, I generally try to bring along a paper with their promo photo and have them sign it. It goes up on the wall in my office. I’ve only recently started to do this, and it’s always fun to get author reactions at signing a picture of themselves. The reactions have varied. Jim butcher was “oh wow”, Pat Rothfuss was flattered and maybe a little frightened. Anton’s reply was simply “I’m such a beautiful man” which is by far the best response yet. Thanks Anton Strout!
Nerd Shrine

After harassing the literary talent, we made our way to the art gallery. Rows and rows of disgustingly talented artists displaying their works. All the artists were there with their pieces and all were very accessible. I met a couple of fantasy artists that stood out. Jessica Cox, an Indiana native had many beautiful pieces, and was very nice. Alain Viesca (link NSFW) and his asian themed fantasy works, blew me away. Everything he had was simply stunning.

Alain Viesca
Jessica Cox
Prior to going to Gencon I did do a little research to find some things the Fanlit readers would definitely be interested in. One of the places I wanted to stop at was the Evil Hat Productions booth. Evil Hat is a the creator of the Fate RPG engine, and happens to the company behind the Dresden Files RPG. I’m a huge Dresden fan and I was eager to talk with Evil Hat and have a look at the game materials. The looks to be incredibly detailed and it makes me wish I lived somewhere where I might find a group that played these kinds of games. The worked closely with Jim while creating the game, and wrote some things exclusively to be included in the materials. My Butcher library will always be incomplete so long as Dresden RPG Volumes 1 and 2 are not among my shelves.
Dresden Files Rpg Volume One; Your StoryI spent the rest of my time wandering the exhibit hall, buying geeky things I didn’t need, but love to have. I had a wonderful time at Gencon and met some amazing people while there. I would encourage any fantasy fan to find their way to a local convention. There is no experience that can match the feeling of being among thousands of likeminded individuals. Where the stars of the shows are bigger nerds than you. I will definitely be back next year, and maybe next time I’ll be able to spend a couple more days.

Head over and comment on this article at fanlit and you could win Bookmark signed by RA Salvatore

And submit your e-mail address via the webform 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Book Review: World's End by Mark Chadbourn

World's End (Age of Misrule, Book 1)You hear an argument close by and you make in its direction to investigate. What you end up seeing is a man being murdered by a creature so hideous it makes you vomit then completely lose consciousness. That’s exactly what happened to Jack “Church” Churchill and Ruth Gallagher in Mark Chadbourn’s World’s End. The horrific experience has been permanently etched into their subconscious and it has changed their lives forever. Together they embark on a journey to find items that could save mankind from complete destruction by sinister forces.

World’s End is quintessential contemporary dark fantasy. The story setting is a mix of modern day society and various elements from mythology. It’s quite obvious Chadbourn has done his homework, given how well he links all these mythological pieces in with modern theological and philosophical concepts. Chadbourn creates a unique, believable, and complex tapestry of myth and folklore for this world. He pulls this off extremely well and authors-to-be should take note, because it’s this kind of detail in world building that writers often miss in their stories.

The characters in World’s End are many. There are at least six main characters that all get equal time. I’m usually wary when books have too many central characters; someone usually gets left undeveloped. That is not the case in this book. Each character is given the right amount of attention to make you feel for each of them and their unique situations. They have all come from different backgrounds and have very different personalities, but they are forced to rely on each other in deep and personal ways. I grew to love and respect each character as the story progressed. I even grew to like Laura, who at the beginning of the story made me cringe each time she spoke. The character development in World’s End is some of the best I’ve read.

The plotting of the story is where World’s End falters a bit, and was the only thing that kept it from getting 5 stars. The characters find themselves in predictable situations and are often saved in predictable ways. As Stefan said in his review (on fanlit), many of the plot twists are transparent. It almost seems that so much time and effort was put into building an amazing world filled with strong characters, that some of the actual plot devices were left wanting

Don’t let my quibbles about plotting stop you from reading the book, though. Complaining about predictable plotting in fantasy is like whining about there being dragons on the front cover. World’s End is brilliant in almost every other aspect of its storytelling, and I’m amazed that Mr. Chadbourn’s books don’t get as much attention as they should. I see vampire/zombie trash all the time cluttering up shelves. THE AGE OF MISRULE series blows away a large portion of bestselling fantasy available today. I look forward to reading the next installment, and only regret I didn’t read it sooner.

You can also learn more about Mark Chadbourn's books at the Fantasyliterature Mark Chadbourn page

You should also stop buy Mark's blog  Lots of interesting discussions. In just the two books of Mark's I've read, I already list him among my favorite authors. An active web citizen and talented writer that deserves your attention.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Book Review: Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn

Discord's AppleEvie Walker is a comic book writer who is to inherit a magical storeroom from her terminally ill father. Unbeknownst to her, it has been the duty of her family for thousands of years to keep this storeroom safe. The storeroom contains artifacts from myth and legend, such as the Golden Fleece, Cinderella’s slippers, and of course Discord’s apple. Not only is Evie about to inherit these objects of legend, but she is also about to inherit the attention of powerful beings that would love to obtain them.

Discord’s Apple is a straightforward tale featuring the classic themes of love, friendship and sacrifice, played out by classic characters drawn from sources ranging from the Greek mythos to Arthurian legend. When I first read the back cover I was expecting to find worn-out clichés within. I figured there would be timeless true love, sacrificing heroics, and predictability of the kind one might expect of a story that contains several legendary heroes. I was sort of right — I did indeed get everything I expected — but the classic tropes were employed in a refreshing and unexpected way.

Carrie Vaughn breaks up the narrative into multiple storylines. In addition to Evie’s plot arc, there is a plotline following Tracker, a comic book character created by Evie. Tracker is everything Evie never could be, and Evie lives vicariously through her adventures. A third strand focuses on Sinon of Ithaca, or Sinon the Liar, the man who convinced King Priam to bring the Trojan horse within the walls of Troy. Sinon is a legendary character who has not had much face time in modern fiction, and it’s fun to see Carrie Vaughn’s portrayal of him.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by Discord’s Apple. Carrie Vaughn is a talented writer and she did very well in her first adult foray outside of the KITTY NORVILLE series. I must emphasize that Discord’s Apple is very much an adult novel. There is nothing overly graphic in the novel, but the sexual themes might prove unsuitable for younger readers.

I listened to this on audio CD produced by Brilliance Audio. The story is read to us by Angela Dawe and Luke Daniels. The majority of the story is told from Evie’s perspective, and Dawe’s smooth youthful voice is perfect for her. Daniels, who voices Sinon, is also excellent. I enjoyed listening to this a great deal, and highly recommend the audio version.

You can also learn more about Carrie Vaughn's books at the Fantasyliterature Carrie Vaughn page

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Review: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

Blood Rites: A Novel of the Dresden Files“The building was on fire and it wasn’t my fault,” says Harry in the opening line of Blood Rites. This has to be one of my favorite DRESDEN FILES books, and the very first line is quite possibly one of the most memorable in the series. Harry has been asked for a favor by his pseudo-friend and White Court Vampire, Thomas Raith: he is to investigate a possible death curse at an independent adult film studio. As with all DRESDEN stories, not everything is as it appears to be. Harry finds himself in multiple perilous situations, all of which are over his head. Jim Butcher masterfully weaves the reader through the chaotic mess that is Harry’s life, all culminating in a dramatic finale that deserves a standing ovation.

There are so many great moments in Blood Rites, from demon monkeys throwing flaming poo, battle meetings held in an IHOP, to the endless humorous banter between Thomas and Harry. The events that take place in Blood Rites have a lasting impact that still lingers six books later. Several wonderful characters are introduced, and many existing ones are fleshed out. You learn more about the White Court vampires, and Harry’s relationship to them. Mouse the Fu-Dog is introduced, and Kincaid the mercenary body guard becomes one of my favorite characters.

Blood Rites is what I call a keystone book in a series, and long-running series like THE DRESDEN FILES generally have a few of these. The events taking place are essential to the overall story arc that will end many books later. I like to be given the feeling of a “big picture,” and Blood Rites is one of the first DRESDEN FILES books that really move the overall story further along. It was after Blood Rites that I first realized that Jim Butcher had a plan for how he was going to end this series.

I cannot recommend Blood Rites highly enough, and I'm excited that Roc is re-releasing it in hardcover. The middle books of the DRESDEN FILES certainly deserve this sort of attention, as they are some of the best books in the urban fantasy genre. I never read books twice, but though I’ve read Blood Rites before, I found myself unable to put it down when Roc sent me a review copy of their new hardcover edition. It is simply an amazing and fun experience from the very first sentence!

You can also learn more about Jim Butcher's books at the Fantasyliterature Butcher's page

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review: The Princess and Mr. Whiffle by Patrick Rothfuss

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed (The Adventure of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle)The Princess and her teddy bear, Mr.Whiffle, live in a marzipan castle and spend their days in various childhood adventures such as fighting pirates, squashing stuffed toy rebellions, and hiding from monsters under the bed. Patrick Rothfuss’s simple and cheery writing style and Nate Taylor’s beautifully comic artwork, full of clean lines and plenty of little details to look for, add to the childish atmosphere.

But The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed is not a children’s book. It’s a picture book for adults, and there will be a lot of adults who hate it. That’s right, and I mean Haaaaaaate it. Why? Because they won’t get it — they’ll be looking for a message that just isn’t there. There is no deep hidden meaning that someone must be enlightened enough to understand. There is no more point in the Princess’s story than there is to a child running through the mud pretending to be a cowboy. You need to be able to think like a demented 10 year old. (Fortunately for me, I spend a fair amount of my time chuckling over immature silliness, and apparently so do Patrick Rothfuss and Nate Taylor.) The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle has three different endings ranging from the sweet to the sick, so you can let your mood determine your experience each time you read it.

I loved this little book for a lot of reasons, but most importantly I loved The Princess and Mr. Whiffle because it was different in every way imaginable. It’s not a typical fantasy book and it isn’t even a children’s story. I applaud Mr. Rothfuss for trying something unique and imaginative and Subterranean Press for giving a book like The Princess and Mr. Whiffle a home. We are all a little too stiff in our expectations from literature sometimes. It’s nice to be silly on occasion, and this little book is so very silly. Thank you Patrick Rothfuss for making me smile

You can also learn more about Patrick Rothfuss's books at the Fantasyliterature Rothfuss page

Sorry for the delay...

I'm still getting used to being a full time restaurateur, so my schedule is a little out of sync. I used to be online 10hrs a day at work and posting a quick blog was I have to set aside blogging time. I now have a netbook that I bring with me to the restaurant and will be posting from there.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010