Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Links

I recently took over the World Wide Wednesday column at The links will remain pointed to fanlit as well as the Amazon associate links.

Today I've got robot heads, zombies, and no less than two Pat Rothfuss links. That's right the bearded one is twice linked below, go ahead and count 'em. Hope you all enjoy, and don't hesitate to leave a comment or two. In the coming weeks if you find something interesting you think everyone should read, drop me a line via the contact form and let me know, or just post it as a comment below. Let's get started:

1) Walking Dead tops Graphic Novel Charts: We're living in the Zombie era at the moment. The groaning shamblers are everywhere, and they are making millions.

2) Phillip K. Dick's Robotic Head: I have only one question... Does it dream of electric sheep?

3) Best SFF of the Decade: Well at least according to the Tor readers. Some really good ones on that list. My TBR list just grew some more.

4) Hard to Love: James Knapp wrote an interesting blog on the relationships between characters and their readers. Personally I need a character to be emotionally engaging. It's ok if I hate them and want them to die, but I need to feel something for them. Morally obtuse or "grey" characters will often lose my interest quickly.

5) Rewritten after publication?: A selection of books that were re-released after being re-written. Some of these were kind of surprising.

6) Signed copies of Wise Man's Fear: Where, when and how to get one... and for charity.

7) Publisher to decide Borders fate: This is a topic near and dear to me. You see I have serious love for Borders Books. I do not have any independent book sellers remotely close to my locale, so Borders is where I go. Borders also has kick-ass coupons. I'm not kidding. Barnes and Nobles will send me these laughable 10% off a selection of books they choose. Borders on the other hand regularly sends 33%-50% off any item in the store. I am cheap, and when you read as much as I do, it can become a real expense. Coupons aside, this is a major retailer that is on the verge of biting the dust. If Borders were to sink I would essentially have B&N as a my only brick and mortar book store, and they suck (at least my local one does). I hope Borders convinces the publishers to cut them some slack and they can restructure their business model successfully.

8) Hey, if you like us, we're up for Preditors & Editors Best Review Site. Won't you please click the link and vote for Fantasy Literature?

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 news links in the comments below, or submit them to me for next week via the contact form.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review:Wereworld:Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling

Werewolf: Rise of the Wolf. by Curtis Jobling (Wereworld)Drew Ferran was raised on a rural farmstead in an area called the Cold Coast. Drew lived the simple life with his family until tragedy struck one night while his father and brother were away at market. A monster invades their home. While terrified, Drew unleashes a beast from within himself that he never knew existed. His father and brother return to a gruesome scene of Drew huddled over his bloodied mother. Confusion and rage ensue as the blame quickly falls on Drew. He is forced to flee his own home to the forests where he has to survive on his own. Isolated and alone, Drew must come to terms with his demons and his destiny.

It has been awhile since I’ve read something in the young adult category. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy the simple way these stories are told. The drawback of its simplicity is that the plot is quite transparent — I knew what was ultimately going to happen by the end of the second or third chapter. Even so, it was still a very enjoyable journey. Despite my initial reservations about the simple plot, I found myself excited to come home from work and buzz through a few chapters before bed.

The characters are likable in Rise of the Wolf, even if they are the typical Rurals, Royalty, and Renegades (my three R’s of fantasy characters) you see in most medieval fantasy. It’s also the Werecreateures themselves. The Weres retain most of their cognitive ability when transformed; They can even talk. Weres are also the royalty of this world. They pass down the transforming abilities genetically. Families of Werebears, boars, lions, and others are the nobles that control the various lands that make up the kingdom of Lyssia.

I changed my star rating for Rise of the Wolf three times. Bouncing from 3 to 3.5 before settling on the higher score of 4 stars. I was torn because I actually liked the book a great deal, but could not shake the feeling that such a cool idea for a world was wasted on another “farm boy finds his destiny” story line. I then came to the conclusion that I’m not your typical 13 year old. I am in fact 30, and have read more fantasy than your average young adult. If I had stumbled across Rise of the Wolf at an earlier age, it might very well be listed as one my favorite books and I’d think back on it fondly. Kind of like books you read a long time ago which might not now speak to you as they once did. The classic concepts used in Rise of the Wolf would have been new to me when I was the age this book was intended for. I figured it wasn’t quite fair to hold it to the same standards as the books I typically read.

Rise of the Wolf is the start of a new series by Curtis Jobling. Jobling has vast experience in communicating to a young audience. He is after all, the creator of Bob the Builder. If you are familiar with Jobling then you need to rid yourself of any preconceptions immediately. Rise of the Wolf is very much young adult complete with lots of blood, torture, and general mayhem. Nothing too graphic for 12 or 13 year olds, but I hesitate to recommend it for anyone younger than that. Parents should definitely give it a read first. Overall I found the characters to be charming, and the story engaging and fun — exactly what a YA book should be. The ending left no question that the intention is to release more WEREWORLD books, and I truly hope they do.

You can also learn more about Jobling's books at the Fantasyliterature Curtis Jobling page

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Book Review: Blood Trinioty by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love

Blood Trinity: Book 1 in the Belador SeriesEvalle is not human, nor is she a full blooded Belador. She is an Alterant and straddles the line between man… err… woman and monster every day of her life. She has maintained a precarious relationship with the Belador tribe over the years, and is employed by them as part of a group that protects humanity from the nasties of the night. Things begin to go wrong for Evalle when she comes under suspicion for a grisly murder that bears the marking of her kind. She must find a way to prove her innocence and protect those she cares about at the same time.

Blood Trinity is fairly well-written, and you can tell that this is not the authors’ first go round at writing a novel. However, some of the transitions between scenes are a little confusing. There are some fundamentals of the world left unexplained, like what exactly is a Belador. The plot moves along quickly, though, and the action is tight and exciting. The tone of the novel leans female and dips into the paranormal romance category a bit. All the men are built like professional athletes and are amazing kissers. Evalle herself is drop dead gorgeous and has bright green eyes. She wears BDU t-shirts, sunglasses and rides a GSX-R motorcycle. She is cool incarnate. It sounds really cheesy, and it kind of is, but this is what we’ve come to expect from this type of urban fantasy. I’m just as guilty as the next UF fan in that I get a kick out of this kind of story, and will often pick one up at the store.

The characters in Blood Trinity are not all that deep. There are a few that show promise, but mostly they all exist to support Evalle. My problem with Evalle is her psychological issues. She was abused as a teenager and has trouble trusting people to such an extent that in inhibits nearly every decision she makes. She also has a severe fear of men, and then is surrounded by them at all times. She freaks out at the slightest touch, yet swaps slobber with most of the leading males in the story. It’s confusing. Evalle is also severely paranoid. I’m not sure what impression the authors wanted to give me from Evalle’s paranoia, but all it did was make her seem kind of dumb. Her leaps of logic in order to make the conspiratory connections were thin at best.

I have never read anything by Sherrilyn Kenyon or Dianna Love, so I came into this series with a clean slate. I’m a pretty big fan of UF and the back cover blurb convinced me this would be a book I liked. The book has a strong heroine, a modern setting, various monsters, and lots of action. All the ingredients that make for a good standard UF novel are here, but that is also its limitation. Blood Trinity doesn’t offer anything that really sets it apart from the field. If you are a fan of the authors or really into urban fantasy, however, then this series opener should be a solid read for you.

I listened to this on Audio CD by Brilliance Audio. It's narrated by Christina Traiste who does a fine job with all the different characters. Atlanta is the setting, so Ms. Traiste gives most everyone a slight southern accent. The accents were a little distracting at first, but grew on me as the novel progressed. Overall it is another quality production from Brilliance, and if you want to read Blood Trinity, I highly recommend the audio version. —Justin Blazier

You can also learn more about Sherrilyn’s books at the Fantasyliterature Sherrilyn Kenyon page

Friday, January 7, 2011

Book Review: Hellforged by Nancy Holzner

Hellforged (A Deadtown Novel)After saving the world from the clutches of the Destroyer Demon and its evil puppeteer, Victory Vaughn is finally falling back into the routine of professional demon hunting. Victory pays the bills by exterminating the myriad of demons that inhabit the DEADTOWN world. While on a routine case Victory is paid a visit in a dream by the Destroyer she thought she had banished. She might have been able to handle the fact that the Destroyer has returned, but that’s not quite all... Every time the demon stops by to say hello and deliver an evil message, someone close to her bites the dust. Victory has to piece it all together. Her friends are dying and she’s running out of time.

The storyline for Hellforged takes Vicky out of Deadtown. Deadtown is a fun and crazy place, but it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the players. Hellforged simplifies the story a bit by pushing a lot of the first book’s characters out of focus so we can spend more time getting to know Victory Vaughn. It was refreshing to not have so many people to keep track of. Vicky is such a great character, and the more time we have with her, the better.

I also like how things start to get a little more serious. In the line of work that our typical urban fantasy heroes engage in, it’s amazing how often everyone ends up OK in the end. Hellforged doesn’t necessarily hold to that philosophy. Granted, Nancy Holzner’s stories are not like a George R.R. Martin novel in which you should give up getting attached to anyone. She does, however, give you reason to doubt that everyone will make it to the end of the book. That doubt hangs in the back your mind throughout the story, giving serious depth to the suspense.

Deadtown was good, but Hellforged is even better. A superficial glance would suggest that this series is typical leather-clad bad-girl urban fantasy, but that conclusion would be a mistake. Dr. Holzner surprised me in Deadtown with her writing ability, and her original twists on some classic urban fantasy tropes, and Hellforged surprised me by taking everything I liked about the first book a few steps further. The writing is airtight; her characters have been honed to an edge. There is comedy, drama, romance, and a whole lot of ass kicking. Hellforged is the total package, and a superb example of why I still love urban fantasy.

Like I said, Hellforged is great urban fantasy, but that might also be its limitation. Holzner doesn’t take many risks that might make her story appeal to those not already on the urban fantasy bandwagon. The DEADTOWN series is not going to convert anyone who already has a distaste for zombies, werewolves and vampires. I would, however, recommend the series to anyone who might be sitting on the fence. If you love urban fantasy, then buy Nancy Holzner’s books right this minute. If you are not sure whether you like urban fantasy, then pick these up the next time you’re in the mood for a change a pace. I think you’ll like them. —Justin Blazier

You can also learn more about Nancy’s books at the Fantasyliterature Nancy Holzner page