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 Ε’The 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