Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Video: Reverse Halloween

CommunityChannel does some fun humerous videos and recently released a great reverse Halloween video, where witches and ghosts, etc., dress up as humans.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Cover Reveal: The Void by Timothy S. Johnston

A Tanner Sequence Novel

Transporting a serial killer might seem like a simple job for Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner. But when his ship breaks down in interstellar space and another murderer starts carving a path through the people around him, Tanner realizes that he might be in over his head. Unfortunately there’s no one to call for help, and the days are ticking down to his probable death. He’s facing a mysterious threat in deep space, but he knows that if he can’t decipher the clues and capture the killer, he’ll at least die trying …

The Void is coming from Timothy S. Johnston and Carina Press on March 30, 2015. It is the third book in The Tanner Sequence, a series of standalone murder mysteries set in unique and claustrophobic environments. The first two are The Furnace (2013) and The Freezer (2014.)

Check out the author's website for more information and click here to preorder the book.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Book Review: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Pros: interesting world-building, great protagonist

Cons: banter between Jane and Rochart didn’t quite match Jane and Rochester

Jane Eliot has worn an iron mask over half of her face since the end of the fae war 5 years ago, when she was cursed with rage.  The mask keeps the rage at bay, but marks her as an ironskin, a reminder of worse times, and shunned by society.  Upon the engagement of her sister to an aristocrat greatly above their station, she takes a post as governess to a young girl who’s… different.  Jane believes she knows how to reach the child, but Dorie is not an ironskin like Jane.  And as Jane starts to fall for her brooding new master, she wonders if she’s the right person to help Dorie after all.

This is a fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre.  But while the plot remains largely the same, there are a lot of major and minor differences.  At times when she diverges from Jane Eyre, Connolly writes in a nod to the original.  For example, Jane in this one never went to a boarding school, but she did teach at one and comments that she’s glad she never had to attend it, given the horrible conditions the girls faced.  The ending is noticeably different, so don’t think that having read Jane Eyre will preclude your enjoying this book or remove all the plot surprises. 

I really enjoyed the fae aspects of the book, from the war to the curse to learning about the dwarvven and their interactions with the fae.  I liked that the fae had understandable reasons for the war (that you discover at the end of the book).  And I liked that the book kept much of the traditional view of fairy stories (the Irish and Welsh versions where someone who know someone was kidnapped by the fairies and later returned), rather than modern literary fairy tales.

Jane, as with her namesake, was a great protagonist.  Though young she’s determined and hard working, stubborn and loving.  I didn’t feel the same connection between her and Rochart as I did between Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, their banter not hitting quite the same notes, but the relationship did grow naturally over time, which I appreciated.  Their ending surprised me as things got pretty bleak fast and I wasn’t sure how the author would be able to resolve things.

One of the main divergences from the original is the fact that Jane has a living sister with whom she has a complicated relationship.  Both of them envy and resent things about the other.  It was nice to see how things developed between them as well as Jane’s relationships with the other female members of the staff.  

This is the start of a series and I’m curious to see where the author will take things, as book two is from her sister’s point of view.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Shout-Out: Superheroes Anonymous by Lexie Dunne

Everybody in Chicago has a "superhero sighting" story. So when a villain attacks editorial assistant Gail Godwin and she's rescued by superhero Blaze, it's a great story, and nothing more. Until it happens again. And again. Now the media has dubbed her Hostage Girl, nobody remembers her real name, and people are convinced that Blaze is just her boyfriend, Jeremy, in disguise.

Gail's not so sure. All she knows is that when both Jeremy and Blaze leave town in the same week, she's probably doomed. Who will save her now?

Yet, miraculously, the villains lose interest. Gail is able to return to her life … until she wakes up strapped to a metal table by a mad scientist who hasn't read the news. After escaping—now more than human herself—she's drawn into a secret underground world of superheroes. She'll have to come to terms with her powers (and weaknesses) to make it in the new society, and it's not easy. After all, there's a new villain on the rise, and she has her sights set on the one and only Hostage Girl.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Blast From the Past: The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Before I started reviewing books online I loved rereading my favourite SF/Fantasy books.  Since I don’t have time to do that anymore, this column is a trip down memory lane, where I’ll rave about books I love to read.  And then read again.  These aren’t reviews, as I won’t necessarily mention criticisms, they’re my chance to fan girl about books I love and hopefully garner some interest in some older titles.

In retrospect it’s a bit odd that I picked up the Death Gate Cycle.  I’d read, and had a wildly negative reaction to, their Darksword trilogy and while I really enjoyed the Legends trilogy I thought the Dragonlance Chronicles were simply ok.

But I found myself in a Coles store at my local mall as a teen and they were having a buy 3 get 1 free promotion.  And there on the shelf were 4 books of the Death Gate Cycle.  I was tired of waiting years for follow-up books, so this was perfect.  I’d get all the books, one free, and not have to worry about waiting to read the end of the story.  

It turned out to be a good thing that I bought those books together because I enjoyed the first book, Dragon Wing, but didn’t love it, and found the second one, Elven Star, kind of boring.  What I liked about Dragon Wing was the banter between Alfred and Haplo, the two protagonists.  Well, they don’t meet up in book 2, in fact, Haplo’s the only character to carry over from book 1, so it didn’t feel like a continuation of the story.  But I’d bought all 4 books and I was going to read all 4 books, so I picked up Fire Sea.  

Fire Sea not only brought the protagonists back together it did so in the most interesting setting, a lava filled world of stone where in order to fix the depleted population, those remaining started resurrecting their dead.  With horrible, unforeseen consequences.

From that book on I loved the series.  I whipped through Fire Sea and Serpent Mage only to discover… that there would be more books in the series.  I didn’t even know how many books, just that the story wasn't done, because while Dragon Wing and Elven Star had decent wrap ups, both book 3 & 4 ended on cliffhangers.

So, I ended up waiting 3 years for the series to finish.  At the end I loved the complexity of the series, how things brought into books 1 and 2 became important in books 6 and 7.  I loved the interplay between Alfred and Haplo, the idea that you have to make decisions for your own life and then stand by them and accept the consequences, good or bad, for those decisions.  I liked that the bad guys had actual grievances and that the so called good guys didn’t necessarily have the best interests of others in mind.  The protagonists had to make some very difficult choices.  The world-building was pretty awesome too.

It’s a series I’ve reread numerous times and I’m still impressed by how the authors pulled it all together.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Shout-Out: Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith

Many generations ago, a mysterious cataclysm struck the world. Governments collapsed and people scattered, to rebuild where they could. A mutation, "the Change,” arose, granting some people unique powers. Though the area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, its technological marvels have faded into legend. "Las Anclas" now resembles a Wild West frontier town… where the Sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can warp time to heal his patients, and the distant ruins of an ancient city bristle with deadly crystalline trees that take their jewel-like colors from the clothes of the people they killed.
Teenage prospector Ross Juarez’s best find ever – an ancient book he doesn’t know how to read – nearly costs him his life when a bounty hunter is set on him to kill him and steal the book. Ross barely makes it to Las Anclas, bringing with him a precious artifact, a power no one has ever had before, and a whole lot of trouble.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014