Tuesday 31 March 2015

Book Review: The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett

Note: This book picks up exactly where book 3 ends, therefore everything in the review is a spoiler, including the synopsis.  I highly recommend the Demon Cycle series, because while there are some grimdark elements (rape, murder, etc) it also has something a lot of grimdark fantasies lack: a sense of hope.  In this way it reminds me of books by the authors I grew up reading (Brooks, Eddings, etc.), books that are now classics of the genre.  Here's my review of book 1, The Warded Man (The Painted Man in the UK) if you've not read the previous books.

Pros: lots of politics, lots of intrigue, complex characters, the last 100 pages will blow you away

Cons: have to wait for the next book

Both Arlen and Jardir disappear after their fall from the cliff, putting Inevera in a difficult position to keep her sons alive and off the Skull Throne, while maintaining the unity of the clans that she and Jardir fought so hard for.  Leesha and her companions return to the Hollow where she agonizes over what to do about her coming child, her growing love for Count Thamos, and organizing the gatherers.  The Hollow leaders are soon called to Angiers by the royal family.  Leesha, to help cure the Duke’s infertility; Gared, to find a wife; and Rojer, to introduce his Krasian wives to the court.   Meanwhile, Arlen has a dangerous plan in mind.

Get ready for deep intrigues and a lot of politics.  This book is fast paced and a quick read, despite its near 700 pages (which includes the ever helpful Krasian dictionary at the end).  

The characters remain complex, with tough decisions to make and lots of compromises between how they want the world to become versus dealing with how it actually is.  I loved the scenes from Ashia’s point of view, getting to know her and the other sharum’ting (female warriors).  Their training was interesting, as was the family politics she was thrown into with regards to her marriage.  I felt both admiration for her and pity for her situation.  Though I started to find Leesha irritating in book 3, here she’s back to the woman I admired in books 1 and 2, only with more responsibilities and harder choices to make.  I love Inevera as a character, even though she can be quite horrible at times.  This book made me again appreciate her intelligence and drive while pitying her when things start to spiral out of control.  Abban’s manipulation of power made him less sympathetic in this book, but his storyline remains intriguing.  The interplay between Rojer and his wives is so interesting, especially given their various abilities.

Unlike book 3, this one doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, but it will have you cursing the fact that book 5 isn’t out yet. The last hundred pages or so really ramps up the action as all of the political maneuvering comes to fruition in unexpected ways.  This series continues to get better and I can’t wait to read what’s going to happen next.





The day after I finished the book I thought of something that’s potentially a plot hole.  After the Milnese use their fire weapons (ie guns) so successfully to defeat the Krasians I was left wondering why Lord Sament of Miln and his 50 soldiers, weren’t equipped with them as well.  It’s possible that the guns were supposed to be part of the leverage of the marriage contract between the Duke and Lorain, and were therefore kept under lock and key until that marriage took place.  But had I been one of Sament’s men, I’d have been pissed knowing our side was about to die because the higher ups wanted to keep the guns secret and/or used for political leverage.  Then again, given the forces they faced, 50 men with guns may not have turned the battle, so logistically it probably was a smart idea to keep them hidden until a more strategic time.

I REALLY wanted to comment in my review about how Peter V. Brett George R. R. Martined the ending of this book.  Those last 100 pages where so many people dropped dead was such a surprise to read.  But I didn’t want to ruin that for others.

Monday 30 March 2015

Books Received in March 2015

Many thanks, as always, to the publishers who send me books for review. 

The Revolution Trade by Charles Stross - This is the third 2-book omnibus edition of the Merchant Princes series and consists of The Revolution Business and Trade of Queens.

Miriam Beckstein has said good-bye to her comfort zone. The transition from journalist to captive in an alternative timeline was challenging to say the least, she discovered that her long-lost family, the Clan, were world-skipping assassins. Now, while civil war rages in her adopted home, she's pregnant with the heir to their throne and a splinter group want her on their side of a desperate power struggle. But as a leader or figurehead?
Meanwhile, unknown to the Clan, the US government is on to them and preparing to exploit this knowledge. But it hadn't foreseen a dissident Clan faction carrying nuclear devices between worlds—with the US president in their sights. The War on Terror is about to go transdimensional. But Mike Fleming, CIA agent, knows the most terrifying secret of all: His government's true intentions.

Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan - I've already read and reviewed this title, which is the third book of Isabella, Lady Trent's memoirs as a female dragon researcher from Scirland.  As with the previous volumes, the book's got a fair amount of adventure.  This time she's on a ship and visiting numerous locations, rather than just one, like she did in the others.  It's a fun and quick read.

Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella's in ways both professional and personal.
Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella's life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons.

The Exile by C. T. Adams - A new urban fantasy from one of the authors who writes the Cat Adams novels.
Brianna Hai runs an occult shop that sells useless trinkets to tourists--and real magic supplies to witches and warlocks. The magical painting that hangs in Brianna''s apartment is the last portal between the fae and human worlds.

A shocking magical assault on her home reveals to Brianna that her father, High King Liu of the Fae, is under attack. With the help of her gargoyle, Pug, her friend David, and Angelo, a police detective who doesn't believe in magic, Brianna recovers what was stolen from her and becomes an unwilling potential heir to the throne.

A suspenseful urban fantasy with a hint of romance, The Exile is the first solo novel by C. T. Adams, who is half of USA Today bestselling author Cat Adams. Like the Cat Adams Blood Singer novels, The Exile is set in a world where magic is real and contains Adams's trademark blend of suspense, action, humor, and strongly emotional writing.

Sunday 29 March 2015

Shout-Out: The Void by Timothy Johnston

2403 AD

It would be easier to kill him than to trust him.

Transporting a serial killer might seem like a simple job for CCF Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner. After spending years apprehending murderers, he's ready to hang up his pistol. Babysitting a prisoner will bring him to Alpha Centauri, where he can search for a way to escape the CCF forever.

If he makes it.

When his ship breaks down in deep space and a CCF research vessel comes to his aid, Tanner realizes he's in terrible danger: the scientists on board have blocked his distress call. And when Tanner's prisoner escapes, he begins to suspect that the proximity of the research vessel had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with the CCF's relentless reach.

Facing near-certain death by his own organization, Tanner must unravel a tangled skein of vengeance, duplicity and murder in deep space. But he's being held at the will of master puppeteers, and if he can't cut the strings, he'll dance straight to a gruesome, excruciating death.

Friday 27 March 2015

Movie Review: Predestination

Diercted by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig

Pros: great acting, thought provoking, self-contained plot

Cons: plot depends on an impossible paradox

A man walks into a bar and, on a bet, tells the bartender the unusual story of his life, beginning with when he was a little girl.  But the bartender’s story is even more unusual, because he is a temporal agent, travelling through time to catch a terrorist bomber.

Based on the short story “All You Zombies” by Robert Heinlein, this is a difficult movie to review because the entire plot revolves around a series of revelations that would spoil the film to mention.  Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook give amazing performances in their roles.  Sarah has to play both a woman and a man, which she does very well, though it’s obvious when he appears in the bar that it’s a woman transitioning.

This is a movie that will make you think.  The premise revolves around the belief that it’s possible to change events in time, even as the characters find themselves acting out their lives as if following a script.  The question becomes whether they actually have agency or if their lives really are predestined, as the title suggests.  The storytelling isn’t entirely linear so don’t be surprised if there are aspects of the plot that don’t seem to make sense right away.  When you get to the end you’ll find yourself thinking and rethinking about the plot of the film, putting the pieces into place and realizing the genius of the movie.

The downside is that the film depends on a paradox that doesn’t actually work, even if it’s an interesting, if creepy, idea.

I did wonder how Sarah’s character didn’t get an idea of what was coming, based on her changed appearance, but that’s a minor quibble.

Ultimately, this is an unsettling but interesting film that will stay with you after the credits end. 

Thursday 26 March 2015

Shout-Out: The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

Book 1: Phoenix Rising
Evil is most assuredly afoot-and Britain's fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade . . . and a librarian.
These are dark days indeed in Victoria's England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences-the Crown's clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling-will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest . . . and she's prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.

For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun-he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices-must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot . . . or see England fall to the Phoenix!
Book 2: The Janus Affair

Evildoers beware! Retribution is at hand, thanks to Britain''s best-kept secret agents!!

Certainly no strangers to peculiar occurrences, agents Wellington Books and Eliza Braun are nonetheless stunned to observe a fellow passenger aboard Britain''s latest hypersteam train suddenly vanish in a dazzling bolt of lightning. They soon discover this is not the only such disappearance . . . with each case going inexplicably unexamined by the Crown.

The fate of England is once again in the hands of an ingenious archivist paired with a beautiful, fearless lady of adventure. And though their foe be fiendishly clever, so then is Mr. Books . . . and Miss Braun still has a number of useful and unusual devices hidden beneath her petticoats.

Book 3: Dawn's Early Light

Working for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, one sees innumerable technological wonders. But even veteran agents Braun and Books are unprepared for what the electrifying future holds…
After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States—intended to keep them out of trouble—suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen.
Even with the help of two American agents from the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical, Braun and Books have their work cut out for them as their chief suspect in a rash of nautical and aerial disasters is none other than Thomas Edison. Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious machinations of a new threat known only as the Maestro, they may find themselves in far worse danger than they ever have been in before…

Book 4: The Diamond Conspiracy
For years, the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences has enjoyed the favor of Her Majesty the Queen. But even the oldest loyalties can turn in a moment…
Having narrowly escaped the electrifying machinations of Thomas Edison, Books and Braun are looking forward to a relaxing and possibly romantic voyage home. But when Braun’s emergency signal goes off, all thoughts of recreation vanish. Braun’s street-wise team of child informants, the Ministry Seven, is in grave peril, and Books and Braun must return to England immediately.
But when the intrepid agents finally arrive in London, the situation is even more dire than they imagined. The Ministry has been disavowed, and the Department of Imperial Inconveniences has been called in to decommission its agents in a most deadly fashion. The plan reeks of the Maestro’s dastardly scheming. Only, this time, he has a dangerous new ally—a duplicitous doctor whose pernicious poisons have infected the highest levels of society, reaching even the Queen herself...

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Video: Princess Rap Battle

Whitney Avalon's been making some awesome Princess Rap Battle videos, similar to the Epic Rap Battles of History videos, only there's a clear winner at the end.  There's swearing, so they're not kid friendly.  So far she's got Snow White vs Elsa, Galadriel vs Leia, Mrs. Claus vs Mary Poppins, and Cinderella vs Belle.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Book Review: Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

Pros: excellent world-building, fun protagonist, quick read

Cons: ending felt rushed

This is the third volume of Isabella, Lady Trent’s memoirs and deals with the 2 year research voyage she took on the RSS Basilik.  With her she brings Tom, who accompanied her on previous journeys, her nine year old son, Jake, and his governess, Abby.

As with the other books in this series, this is a character driven fantasy novel, following the extraordinary adventures of a female dragon researcher from Scirland.  While the previous books focused on one area for her excursions, this one covers several locations where she researches various types of dragons in an effort to create a proper taxonomy for the species.

I love the degree of detail Brennan adds to these book, particularly the background tidbits that don’t strictly need to be there but show the amount of behind the scenes thought that goes into the stories.  For example, it doesn’t really matter to the story that this trip took 2 years or more to plan (besides aging the characters), but it acknowledges that such travel in the past was not only expensive but also difficult to arrange.  I also appreciated the occasional bureaucratic, medical, and cultural problems they encountered.

The world expands greatly as the ship stops at numerous ports, sometimes leaving Isabella’s group behind for a month or more to do research, sometimes carrying on immediately to the next location.  Once again the world-building is excellent.  It’s possible at times to see what real world cultures she’s adapting for her book, but each society is very different from the others and there’s a wide variety of characters and customs that show up.

I’m not generally a fan of character driven fantasy but Isabella is such an interesting person that I race through these volumes.  Part way through this book they encounter another researcher, who helps them out.  Suhail was just as fun and interesting as Isabella, and I have my suspicions about his hidden last name.

While it’s possible to read this volume on its own, there are several allusions to the events of the previous books, and a few spoilerish conversations.

The ending feels a little rushed.  There’s a climactic event, after which events are narrated rather quickly through the denouement.  It works for the structure of a novel but would be somewhat unusual for the memoir this purports to be.

These are lighthearted books that don’t take long to read and are accompanied by gorgeous illustrations by Todd Lockwood.  It’s a series I highly recommend.

Out March 31st.

Sunday 22 March 2015

Shout-Out: The Feminine Future: Early Science Fiction by Women Writers - Mike Ashley, Ed.

Featuring hard-to-find short stories published between 1873 and 1930, this original anthology spotlights a variety of important sci-fi pioneers, including Ethel Watts Mumford, Edith Nesbit, and Clare Winger Harris. Imaginative scenarios include a feminist society in another dimension, the east/west division of the United States with men and women on opposite sides, a man who converts himself into a cyborg, a drug that confers superhuman qualities, and many other curious situations.

Editor Mike Ashley provides an informative introduction to the stories. Highlights include "When Time Turned" (1901), which centers on a grieving widower who contrives to relive his life backwards; "The Painter of Dead Women" (1910), the tale of a woman in thrall to a Svengali-like character who promises to preserve her beauty forever; "The Automaton Ear" (1876), in which an inventor struggles to create a machine to detect sounds from the distant past; "Ely's Automatic Housemaid" (1899), a lighthearted fable concerning a robot housemaid; and ten other captivating tales.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Liebster Award

I've been nominated for a Liebster Award by Steven Rose Jr. of A Far Out Fantastic Site.  So, first off, thank you Steven, that's pretty cool.
Image Credit: curveballsandmedschool.files.wordpress.com
Here are the questions he's asked me and my responses:

1) What is your dream car?  I'm not really in to cars, but I've always thought Ferrari's look amazing.  I wouldn't want to own one though, because I can't drive manual. (My husband insists that I pick a specific one, therefore he told me my answer is a Ferrari 488 GTB.)

2) What is your favourite/favourite kind of food?  I have lots of favourites, as I like food from a variety of cultures.  Roladin, a german dish where you take thin strips of beef and roll them up with onions and mustard before frying them and simmering them in gravy is one of my childhood favourites.  As is pizza.  For Japanese food (since I lived in Japan for 2 years) I love tempura (deep fried veggies and shrimp) and okonomiyaki (a savoury pancake).

3) What is your favourite genre/subgenre of reading?  I love science fiction and fantasy with an emphasis on epic fantasy, dystopian, and post-apocalyptic novels.

4) Do you prefer Star Trek, Star Wars or neither?  I'm a fan of both.  I love the original Star Wars trilogy and read a few of the extended universe novels and I loved watching the original Star Trek series on TV.  I also watched most of Next Generation when it first aired.  I don't think the rebooted films follow the spirit of Star Trek.

5) Of these classic/old school horror films, do you prefer Halloween, Friday the 13th, Universal’s original Frankenstein, Psycho or none of the above?  I love the first Halloween film and liked the next 2 well enough (yes, that includes The Season of the Witch).  I also love Psycho.  I only saw Friday the 13th for the first time a few years ago and wasn't impressed by it.  As for Frankenstein, the movie's pretty good but it led to people believing they know the book when the monster in the book is highly intelligent, and very different from how it's portrayed in the film.

6) If you won the lottery, you would . . . (do what?)  I would invest all of the money and then use the interest I made on it every year to take a trip.

7) How would you respond to a film agent who offered you a part in a big budget film?  I'd do it as long as the script was decent.  Sounds like a lot of fun (though it's probably really a lot of work).

8) Do you have anything (interest, toy, habit, etc.) from childhood that you will not let go of as an adult? If so, what is it?  I collected a lot of things as a child and still have them now.  I've got a jar of nifty feathers, including several peacock tail feathers.  I've also got a semi-precious gem collection with some nice tiger's eye stones and an amethyst geode.  And I used to collect soapstone sculptures and still have the panther ones I loved as a kid.

9) What do you do when a person you’ve met for the first time bores you with their talk?  I'm not good with small talk but I'm worse at extricating myself from conversations so I'd probably suffer quietly and hope someone interrupts us soon.

10) Do you believe the world’s ready for commercial space flight? If so, why? If not, why not?  I think commercial space flight is still WAY too expensive to be a realistic option for all but a very tiny portion of humanity.  As science keeps improving the price will fall and having a commercial option keeps the idea of space travel alive.  

11) What is more important to you, money or love (of humanity, including significant others/family and friends)?  I would like to say 'love' because it sounds nicer, but the reality is that money - by which I mean a lack thereof - causes stress and hardship and can make relationships break down, so I have to say money.  Without enough money you can't stay home to raise your kids if you'd like to, you can't eat healthily, you can't get the medical care that will keep you alive longer, you can't really help others.  If your basic needs are met you can start looking outside yourself and making the world a better place.

I'm supposed to nominate 11 other sites and ask them questions but I won't be doing that.  It's too much like the chain letters I got as a kid and couldn't stand.  I will however recommend you check out these blogs.  Some of them are author's blogs, but I don't follow that many people (as I don't want other book reviewers' impressions to affect my own reviews).

Friday 20 March 2015

Blast From the Past: Mort by Terry Pratchett

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.

Given the recent news of his passing, it seems appropriate to dedicate a column to Sir Terry Pratchett’s books.  

I was first introduced to the Discworld in high school when a friend gave me a copy of Interesting Times for my birthday.  While parts of the book were confusing (as it’s a direct sequel to the story told in The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, which I hadn’t read) I really enjoyed the story and characters.  I loved that the book had a dry sense of humour that matched my own.  But more than anything, I loved that the book had pithy sayings and bits of wisdom hidden in the pages.  At the time I collected sayings in a book and Interesting Times gave me several, as did many other Pratchett titles.  Sayings like: “Adventure! People talked about the idea as if it was something worthwhile, rather than a mess of bad food, no sleep and strange people inexplicably trying to stick pointed objects into bits of you.”

Pratchett’s novels always make me think, and I like thinking.  They’ve made me look at the world in different ways.  

I have to admit, I haven’t read them all (though I’d like to), and I haven’t liked them all (you can’t like everything).  But so many of his books have stuck with me because he wrote so insightfully.

If you’re new to the Discworld there are a few main groups of people the books focus on: members of the Unseen University, predominately Rincewind, a failed wizzard; the witches, a traditional coven with some untraditional beliefs; the guards of Ankh-Morpork, the main city the books take place in; and the personification of death.  While some of these can be picked up and read irrespective of the other books in the world, some storylines continue and are better off read in order (I made the mistake of reading several of the witches books in reverse order and boy, was that ever confusing). 

When I worked at the bookstore I’d recommend that people start with Mort.  The books that focus around Death are, on the whole, my favourites. And Mort is short, punchy, hilarious, and gives a good idea of what you’re getting when you pick up these books.  It's about a boy named Mort who's uncoordinated and rather bad at farming.  With no idea what to do with the boy, his father brings him to a fair and tries to apprentice him to someone.  Death offers him a job, which has interesting consequences for everyone.

My other favourites include: Hogfather, Truth, Thief of Time, Going Postal, Monstrous Regiment, Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms, Lords & Ladies, Small Gods, Carpe Jugulum, and The Last Hero.  I also love his pseudo kids book, Where’s My Cow, that Sam Vimes reads to his son in the books (and was made into a real picture book). 

If you haven’t read any books by Terry Pratchett, he’s one of those authors you shouldn’t miss.  If a story about Death doesn’t interest you, Guards! Guards! and Going Postal are other great introductory books and Monstrous Regiment is independent of the other storylines.  If you want something a little more… apocalyptic, then Good Omens, the novel he wrote with Neil Gaiman, is quite fun too.

And if you're not a reader, then the TV adaptations of Hogfather (a kind of Christmas story) and Going Postal are wonderful.

Thursday 19 March 2015

Shout-Out: The Darkside War by Zachary Brown

Aliens have conquered Earth, but they haven’t conquered humanity—yet. A young army conscript battles for survival in this action-packed futuristic thriller that will appeal to fans of Halo and Inglorious Bastards.

People used to wonder if we were alone in the universe. Well, we’re not. Not by a long shot. Aliens come in all shapes and sizes, and even the good guys are likely to haunt your nightmares. And oh, you’ll have nightmares, even after you leave the service. If you leave the service.

Devin is a reluctant conscript to an alien-run army: when the Accordance conquered Earth, they said it was to prepare against the incoming alien Conglomeration forces. But as Devin travels to the dark side of the moon for boot camp and better acquaints himself with his so-called allies, his loyalties are increasingly tested. Because the enemy of the enemy is not always a friend. Sometimes they’re a far, far worse threat.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Video: Super Hero Soccer

Ever wonder what would happen if video game, book, movie and comic book characters played soccer, when allowed to used their powers?  Wonder no more, because Ronnie Street Stunts has the answer.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Book Review: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Pros: excellent world-building, interesting and varied characters, political intrigue 

Cons: less mystery, Seraphina misses some obvious connections 

With the dragons fighting a civil war and Comonot living in exile in the palace, things in Goredd remain tense.  When word of a possible half-dragon mind weapon is uncovered, Seraphina is sent to find the others from her ‘mind garden’ and bring them back with her.  She’s also tasked with sending aid in the form of men and supplies from the southern states she’ll be travelling through.  But her task is hard and her allies few, especially when a powerful figure from her past reappears.

This is the sequel to Seraphina, a novel I thoroughly enjoyed.  For those who read Seraphina a long time ago, there’s a fantastic summary at the beginning going over all the important elements of the previous book.  I really wish more series books would do this.  

While Seraphina had elements of mystery and romance, Shadow Scale is more of a quest story, with Seraphina combing the world for others of her kind.  I have to admit I missed the interplay between Seraphina and Kiggs, who stayed behind as she travelled.  While I enjoyed the whole book (seeing how other lands functioned was really interesting), I liked the second half the best.  Porphyry was really fun, especially their contempt for the more barbaric southlands, which put the protagonist in the position of being the uncouth foreigner.  The second half is also when the villain’s actions start to have real effects on the story.

There’s a wide variety of characters, humans (from 4 distinct cultures), dragons, half-humans, quigutl (draconic cousins), as well as people from different statuses and belief structures.  Another thing I loved about Porphyry was the complexity of its language - that it has six genders and seven cases and that “[y]ou use cosmic neuter for a stranger, …  And he’s a stranger until you’ve asked, ‘How may I pronoun you?’” (p207).  I love the idea that this culture allows people to choose their own gender and form of address, and that you ask people when you meet, how they prefer to be addressed.

As with the previous book Seraphina is forced to grow as a person.  As her dearest wish becomes a nightmare, she’s forced to make difficult decisions.  There were a few times when she misses what seemed like obvious connections, but she’s 16 and in some of those cases the final result wasn’t quite what I’d expected either.

There’s a decent amount of political intrigue.  I loved that though Seraphina was travelling and time was obviously passing, her communications with Queen Glisselda reminded her - and the reader - that things were happening elsewhere in the world.  While some action happens off page, there’s enough on page to keep you invested in the story and the end of the book will have you flipping pages pretty fast to see how things are resolved.  While the ending doesn’t tie up everything, it’s a satisfying conclusion to the duology.

Sunday 15 March 2015

Shout-Out: The Bionics by Alicia Michaels

All Blythe Sol ever wanted was to be a normal girl. Yet, her dreams of following in her father’s footsteps by joining the military after graduation are crushed when nuclear war comes to the United States in the year 4006. Tens of thousands are killed in a series of attacks on many major cities, while thousands more are left injured from the devastation of the blasts, or terminally ill from the effects of radiation.

When the government offers the sick and injured a second chance as part of the Restoration Project, how could they refuse? Hoping to put her life back together after the blasts take both her arm and her eye, Blythe enrolls in the program filled with hope. She never expects that the bionic additions will change her life so drastically. When it is discovered that those outfitted with the robotic parts have become enhanced beyond the limits of ordinary human ability, normal can never exist for her again.

The Bionics become targets of the government, as fear of them spreads across the nation, further enflamed by media propaganda and political conspiracy. Forced to go into hiding or face execution, society’s outcasts band together to form the Restoration Resistance—an underground rebellion which Blythe becomes a part of in order to survive. She could never imagine that joining them would thrust her at the forefront of an imminent revolution, or that it would put her in a confusing tug-of-war between two of her fellow soldiers—Gage Bronson, the mysterious new addition to the Resistance, and Dax Janner, her best friend. Even though Gage is rapidly capturing her heart, she is forced to face the possibility that her feelings for Dax might just go beyond friendship. However, with impending war and the threat of death hanging over her head, Blythe hardly has time to worry about anything as trivial as a love life...

Saturday 14 March 2015

Happy Pi Day...

...even though Canada reads the date differently.

I made a cherry cheesecake (which, technically isn't pi, but it's what I can do so...) and quiche to celebrate.  Hope you all have an awesome day.

Friday 13 March 2015

3D Metal Millennium Falcon Model

I got my husband a 3D metal model pirate ship last year and loved how it turned out.  Well, for Christmas he got a few more of these metal puzzles, and here's the Millennium Falcon.  The pieces fit together using tiny tabs that go into slots and must be either folded over or twisted.  My husband found the tabs hard to manipulate (for fear of breaking them and due to curves, etc.) so I got to make this one for him.  :D

Here's the 2 metal sheets the pieces come in with the instructions and the top of the ship partially done.

And here's the completed model.  It looks really cool.  The company did a great job of etching the metal so the finished ship has a lot of detail. 

The tabs are a bit hard to manipulate (sometimes one tab won't fit while all the others are in and it's hard to coax it into its hole without popping the others out), and doing curves was kind of tough.  The model itself took somewhere around 2 hours to complete, but once I got the hang of it, it was a lot of fun.  My only real complaint was that using pliers to bend the tabs down scuffed the metal plates, which looks fine on the Millennium Falcon (as it's supposed to be a beat up ship), but wouldn't look so great on some of the other models they produce.

The same company does some Star Trek models too.  I'm thinking of asking for the U.S.S Enterprise for Christmas this year.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Shout-Out: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that has laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha—physically perfect in every way; and the other an Omega—burdened with deformity, small or large. With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other.
Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Video: Docomo "3 Second Cooking" Commercials

Docomo (ドコモ) is a Japanese cell phone company that's made some great commercials.  Last November they posted this video showing how to cook fried shrimp in 3 seconds using a cannon.

Last month they came out with a new commercial using a cannon to make gyoza (dumplings).

I just love the woman's reaction to the abruptness of the chef, and her expression when eating the food at the end of the videos.  Ah technology.  Won't it be awesome when we all have fast cooking cannons in our own kitchens?

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Pros: brilliant world-building, interesting characters, interesting politics, thought provoking


For Parents: no swearing, minor suggestive content, a few kisses, some violence, nothing graphic

Seraphina has a secret to hide regarding her mother.  Her distant father warns her to avoid calling attention to herself, but her love of music makes it hard for her, especially when she becomes the assistant to the court composer.  It’s a mere two weeks before the Treaty Eve festivities when the Ardmagar Comonot visits to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the peace pact between the Goredd nation and dragonkind.  Not everyone is happy with the peace, especially since Prince Rufus recently died in a suspiciously draconic way.  The Sons of St. Ogdo are stirring up the populace against the vile scourge even as members of the royal court make snide remarks behind the backs of the draconic embassy members.  The depth of Seraphina’s knowledge of dragons and her willingness to stand up for them in the face of prejudice, brings her to the attention of Prince Lucian Kiggs, Captain of the Queen’s Guard, as more and more incidents occur.  As the days count down both her secret and the peace pact are in danger.  

This is a brilliant novel.  The writing is top notch and the world-building excellent.  It’s a pseudo-European world, but one that remembers there are other nations with other peoples, many of whom travel and have political and economic ties to each other.  The religion is obviously based on Catholicism, with a plethora of interesting saints (including St. Ogdo the dragon slayer).  I loved that the politics around the peace weren’t simple.  The racism of humans to dragons and vice versa is covered (in multiple forms), as is the peace pact between the human nations that came about beforehand, which allowed the humans to present a united front to the dragons.  I also liked that the book pointed out the uncertainty that people feel when forced to trust that their former enemy is trading in good faith.  

The dragons are coldly logical, refusing to allow feelings to affect them.  But when they take human form, they can have trouble dealing with the wash of emotions that come over them.  Dragons that forget themselves face harsh punishments - the excision of those emotions and any memories that could revive them.

Seraphina is a wonderful character.  She lies to protect herself, knowing that she’s hurting herself by doing so.  I loved that many of her lies are uncovered, forcing her to face the consequences of her actions and make difficult decisions based on them.  Lucian’s great, always asking questions and sometimes getting burned by the answers.  Princess Glisselda was fun to read about, with her obvious intelligence and political savvy.  It was refreshing to see a friendship develop between women that didn’t involve any backbiting or gossip.  I also loved Orma, who tries so hard to appear human but doesn’t quite grasp all of the intricacies involved even as he often has to prove he has no emotional attachment to Seraphina.  

The book has some great examples of how to stand up for yourself - and others - when facing bigotry.  It isn’t easy and Seraphina sometimes does the wrong thing, but it’s great seeing examples of how to deal with bullying behaviour head on.  It’s equally good that it shows the potential backlash and consequences that standing up for something can elicit.

I personally found the jump between the prologue and the first chapter very confusing.  The prologue shows Seraphina’s birth, which made me think the book would progress through her life, but the first chapter jumps several years ahead, and you have to read a few chapters to understand how she got where she is now.  Logically prologues tend to stand apart from the rest of the book so that was my failure of attention rather than a flaw in the text.

I loved this book.  The characters felt so real and Seraphina’s loneliness so heartbreaking that I cried several times while reading it.  The mystery is a little on the slow side, but I found the world and happenings so fascinating that I didn’t care.  If you love fantasy, get this book.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Shout-Out: The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

Only nine people have ever been chosen by renowned children’s author Laura White to join the Rabbit Back Literature Society, an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected: a young literature teacher named Ella.

Soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual known as "The Game"? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura White’s winter party? Why are the words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there once another tenth member, before her? Slowly, as Ella explores the Society and its history, disturbing secrets that had been buried for years start to come to light. . . .

Friday 6 March 2015

Medieval Plants: Aconite

A column looking at medieval plants and what they were use for.

Aconitum variegatum 110807f
Photo by: Bernd Haynold
Note: Aconite is extremely poisonous, even just through skin contact.  Be careful when dealing with this plant and do NOT try any 'remedies' mentioned here.

Latin name: Aconitum napellus

aka Monkshood and Wolfsbane, more anciently: thelyphonou, cammaron, pardalianches or scorpio

The name ‘monkshood’ was applied to the plant because the shape of the flowers look like the hood monks wear (Kowalchik, p. 1-2).

According to Pliny, Aconite was created during a fight between Hercules and Cerebus, the three headed hound that guarded the gate to the underworld.  The spittle of Cerebus hit the earth and the plant popped up.  This is why the plant is such a powerful and fast acting poison.  Pliny also said that aconite, taken in mulled wine, could neutralize scorpion venum (the idea here is that the poison in aconite would attack the venom instead of the host, thereby neutralizing both poisons).  He also claimed it was good for eye ailments. (Pliny v5, p218-221).

Pliny believed taking a mixture of castorea (a liquid excreted from beavers’ testes) with milk or water could neutralize the effects of aconite [for a fun and disturbing look at what castoreum is still used for today, look on this wikipedia page] (v6, p15).

Aconite was used during war time to poison wells.  At other times it was used to poison rats (Freeman, 34) and as bait for wolves (hence its name ‘wolfsbane’) and panthers.  In ancient India, arrow-heads were treated with it for hunting tigers (Lehner, p53).

There was a belief that witches mixed aconite with belladona to create an ointment they then rubbed on their bodies in order to ‘fly’.  Legends claim that women exposed to small amounts of the poison from infancy could poison their lovers through sexual contact (Kowalchik, p. 1-2)

In the language of flowers, aconite stands for misanthropy and poisonous words.  It symbolizes crime and is considered the herb of Satan (probably due to its witchcraft connection) (Lehner, p53). 


Kowalchick, Claire and William Hylton, Ed. Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 1998.

Lehner, Ernst and Johanna Lehner. Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees. New York: Dover Publications, 2003

Pliny. Natural History v. 1-6. Trans. John Bostock and H. T. Riley. London: Henry Bohn, 1851.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Shout-Out: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for nearly ninety years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.

So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphan and assistant to a doctor with a most unusual specialty: monster hunting. In the short time he has lived with the doctor, Will has grown accustomed to his late night callers and dangerous business. But when one visitor comes with the body of a young girl and the monster that was eating her, Will's world changes forever. The doctor has discovered a baby Anthropophagus--a headless monster that feeds through a mouth in its chest--and it signals a growing number of Anthropophagi. Now, Will and the doctor must face the horror threatening to overtake and consume our world before it is too late.

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Video: Beyond

I've been watching Mystery Guitar Man's videos for quite some time and like them a lot.  He's recently started directing short film, and this one's got some sci-fi elements.  Though the movie revolves around a paradox, the acting's excellent and there are some great special effects.

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Book Review: Nexus by Ramez Naam

Pros: lots of action, interesting characters, thought provoking, accessible science

Cons: some of the characters were underused, not as much emotional connection with characters as I would have liked

Kaden Lane and a small group of other brilliant college students come up with a way to add programmable code to Nexus 3, a drug that allows people to communicated telepathically.  Their still incomplete code, which has the potential to transform humans into transhumans, puts them and their upgraded Nexus 5 on the hit list of the Emerging Risks Directorate, a subsection of Homeland Security, taxed with maintaining laws restricting research into certain areas of science.  Kaden believes in the best of humanity, and knows that Nexus 5 could do great things for people.  ERD officer Samantha Cataranes has seen the worst that mind altering drugs can do, and believes - along with her organization - that Nexus 5 will be horribly abused.

This is a novel that examines the morality of augmenting humans to help them become more than human and how the tools of such augmentation can be used to benefit and harm people.  Both Kaden and Sam start the book firmly entrenched in their positions, but the events of the story make them both question what they believe.  This questioning is thought provoking for the reader, for whom the various pros and cons aren’t immediately obvious, but also allow the characters the chance to grow as individuals.

There’s a fair amount of action, culminating in numerous showdowns at the end of the book.  

I loved that Naam has an ‘extras’ section at the end of the book where he explains the science that he extrapolated from to come up with Nexus and the other scientific advances in the book.  It’s amazing the things we’re currently capable of, and both inspiring and terrifying to see what might come next.  The science contained in the book is clearly and concisely explained.  There are no long expository passages weighing the book down.  It starts fast paced and continues so throughout.

I had two complaints about the book.  The first was that one of the characters was underused, in that I expected interesting things to happen with that person’s storyline but nothing really came of it.  The second is that though you really get into Sam and Kaden’s heads, you don’t feel a close connection to them, or the other people who they interact with in the book.  When the bodies started piling up I didn’t really care about anyone that was dying.  I wasn’t too afraid for Sam and Kaden, mainly due to Sam’s augmentations, but again, I wasn’t as invested in them as I wanted to be. 

This isn’t a subgenre of SFF that I normally read, so I was afraid I’d find the science over my head.  Naam does a great job of making the science accessible and the action fast and furious.  There’s enough down time to appreciate the difficult position Kaden is in while wondering how (and if) he’ll escape it.  It’s a book that makes you think about science and technology and where we’re headed as well as what role governments should play - if any - with regards to regulating the advancements to come.  In other words, it’s a great hard sf novel.

Monday 2 March 2015

Shout-Out: The Karma Booth by Jeff Pearce

They say that executing a murderer won't bring your loved one back. But what if it could? A new development in modern science has mind-bending repercussions: the Karma Booth can execute a murderer and return one of their victims to life. Ethics consultant Timothy Cale is hired by the US government to investigate this earth-shattering scientific breakthrough. He soon discovers that the returned victims possess unique and disturbing ‘gifts’. When notorious war criminal Viktor Limonov escapes from a Karma Booth execution unharmed and begins murdering returned victims across the globe, Cale realises that the technology may hide a more sinister secret than anybody could have possibly imagined…

Sunday 1 March 2015

Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in April, 2015

Once again, this list was compiled using Amazon's Canadian website, meaning it reflects Canadian release dates.  I try to make it as accurate as possible, but if you notice a mistake or a missing book, please mention it in the comments.


A Few Words for the Dead – Guy Adams
The Silver Witch – Paula Brackston
Tracker – C. J. Cherryh
The Machine Awakes – Adam Christopher
William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace – Ian Doescher
Emissary – Betsy Dornbusch
Grantville Gazette VII – Eric Flint, Ed.
Redemption – Dinah Geof-Craigs & Vincent Wales
Rolling in the Deep – Mira Grant
The Warring States – Aidan Harte
Pirate’s Alley – Suzanne Johnson
Star Wars: Lords of the Sith – Paul Kemp
Of Noble Family – Mary Robinette Kowal
The Grace of Kings – Ken Liu
A Crown for Cold Silver – Alex Marshall
Something Coming Through – Paul McAuley
The Vagrant – Peter Newman
Charm – Sarah Pinborough
Window Wall – Melanie Rawn
Depth – Lev A. C. Rosen
Battlestar Gattica Vault – Paul Ruditis
Was – Geoff Ryman
Trial of Evil – Travis Taylor
Smith of Wootton Major – J. R. R. Tolkien
Joe Steele – Harry Turtledove
The Affinities – Robert Charles Wilson
The Architect of Aeons – John Wright

Trade Paperback:

The Motives Trilogy – Harriet Alder
The End of the End of Everything: Stories – Dale Bailey
Gathering Shadows – Simon Barron
Eden’s Ore Revelations – B. V. Bayly
Disciple of the Wind – Steve Bein
Dave vs the Monsters – John Birmingham
Lucid – Jay Bonansinga
The Girl With All the Gifts – M. R. Carey
The Guardian Interviews Omnibus – Michael Clary
The Outer Harbour – Wayde Compton
Survival of the Fittest – Crawford Cray
The Acolyte – Nick Cutter
Tithe of the Saviours – A. J. Dalton
Resonance – C. L. Davies
Against a Darkening Sky – Lauren Davis
Greatcoat’s Lament – Sebastien de Castell
By Tooth and Claw – Bill Fawcett
Wild West Exodus: Family Blood – Craig Gallant
Cloud & Ashes: Three Winter’s Tales – Greer Gilman
The Revolutions – Felix Gilman
Scripture From the Past – C. J. Gleave
Contagious – Emily Goodwin
The Gemini Effect – Chuck Grossart
New Cthulhu 2 – Paula Guran, Ed.
The Kindred of Darkness – Barbara Hambly
Games Creatures Play – Charlaine Harris & Toni Kelner, Ed.
Alien Wars – Vaughn Heppner
Cyber Rogues – James Hogan
Apocalypse Now Now – Charlie Human
Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements – Walidah Imarisha & Adrienne Maree Brown, Ed.
The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen
Warhammer 40K: Damocles – Phil Kelly, Guy Haley, Ben Counter & Josh Reynolds
Tesseracts Eighteen: Wrestling With Gods – Liana Kerzner & Jerome Stueart, Ed.
Expiration Date – Nancy Kilpatrick, Ed.
Valkyrie’s Song – M. D. Lachlan
Hunting the Shadows – Tanith Lee
Imaginary Things – Andrea Lochen
Channel Blue – Jay Martel
Inspector Hobbes and the Gold Diggers – Wilkie Martin
War of Shadows – Gail Martin
Mage Wars – Will McDermott
Hunt for Valamon – D. K. Mok
The Aftermath – Michela Montgomery
The Cave – Michela Montgomery
Waking Beauty – Sarah Morin
The Night Mayor – Kim Newman
The Unremembered: Author’s Definitive Edition - Peter Orullian
Captive Prince – C. S. Pacat
Garden of Dreams and Desires – Kristen Painter
The Boy With the Porcelain Blade – Den Patrick
The Death House – Sarah Pinborough
The Adjacent – Christopher Priest
The Holy Drinker – Neil Randall
The Wild West Exodus Anthology – Brandon Respond, Ed.
Ritual Crime Unit: Disturbed Earth – E. E. Richardson
Briar Blackwood’s Grimmest of Fairytales – Timothy Roderick
The Imundari Hunt – Brandon Sharp
A Kill in the Morning – Graeme Shimmin
Contagion: Eyre – Alison Sinclair
The Edge of Reason – Melinda Snodgrass
Science Fact and Science Fiction: An Encyclopedia – Brian Stableford
Exigencies – Richard Thomas, Ed.
Warhammer 40K: Angels of Darkness – Gav Thorpe
Warhammer: The Curse of Khaine – Gav Thorpe
Fusion Fire – Kathy Tyers
Warhammer 40K: Legacies of Betrayal – various
Sundogz – Mark von Schlegell
The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk – Sean Wallace
Superposition – David Walton
Clash of Iron – Angus Watson
Children of Arkadia – M. Darusha Wehm
The World to Come – Patrick West & Om Prakash Dwivedi, Ed.
Poisonwell – Jeff Wheeler
Zoo and Crowbar – David Zieroth 

Mass Market Paperback:

Warhammer 40K: The Damnation of Pythos – David Annandale 
The High Druid’s Blade – Terry Brooks
The Lost Fleet: Steadfast – Jack Campbell
Peacemaker – C. J. Cherryh
Star Trek: Crisis of Consciousness – Dave Galanter
Every Breath You Take – Chris Marie Green
A Shiver of Light – Laurell Hamilton
The Witch With No Name – Kim Harrison
Dark Heir – Faith Hunter
Baltic Gambit – E. E. Knight
Darkened Blade – Kelly McCullough
The Hercules Text – Jack McDevitt
Man-Kzin XIV – Larry Niven, creator
Jinn and Juice – Nicole Peeler
The Originals: The Loss – Julie Plec
The Shattered Court – M. J. Scott
Dragon Thief – S. Andrew Swann
Dream Stalkers – Tim Waggoner
Shadow of Freedom – David Weber


Lotus Saga – Nimai Agarwal
’Til Undeath Do Us Part – Jessica Alter
Princess – Nicolette Andrews
The Envoy – Ros Baxter
Heroes in Name – F. M. Beasley
Prodigal Star – Nuah Belleton
Wormhole to Heaven or Wormhole to Hell – J. Jack Bergeron
Storm Surge – R. J. Blain
Seeds of a New Power – Orrin Jason Bradford
Savior – A. King Bradley
The Immortalist – Scott Britz
The Day Before – Liana Brooks
The Berserker – E. B. Brown
Going Through the Change – Samantha Bryant
Heir of Hope – Morgan Busse
The Raven’s Oracle – Deborah Cannon
The Deepest Poison – Beth Cato
Dragon of the Stars – Alex Cavanaugh
Saving the Dragon – Sara Cleveland
Seed of Creation – Valmore Daniels
Bound to You – A. R. DeClerck
Demon’s Vengeance: The Complete Final Asylum Tales – Jocelynn Drake
Architects of Destiny – Amy DuBoff
Lake of Stone – K. Eastkott
Lie Down With Dogs – Hailey Edwards
Carnival on Union Station – E. M. Foner
Temporary Human – Craig Shaw Gardner
Beyond the Veil – David Gatwood
Enemies From Within – David Gatwood
Godsquad – Heide Goody & Iain Grant
Desert Rising – Kelley Grant
Monochrome Dream: Apostrophe – S. R. Groberg
Winglight – Sabine Hale
Gallow: Solace – Nathan Hawke
Alien Abattoir and Other Stories – Sean Hazlett
Intrepid – Tony Healey
Victory of the Hawk – Angela Highland
Fortress of Fire – D. K. Holmberg
The Science of Magic – HoneysuckleP
Chains of Water and Stone – Katherine Hurley
Reckoning – Megg Jensen
Intrusions – Wilf Jones
Apex – Aer-ki Jyr
Saira and the Mad Scientist of the North – Moira Katson
The Turning War – Richard Knaak
Fall of Pritu – Ravi Krishnan
The Warlords of Antares – Brian Larson
The Last Quarrel – Duncan Lay
Fire Above – C. H. MacLean
Kal Moonheart Omnibus – Rob May
Sirens Bane – Rob May
Avanaux – P. J. McDermott
Prison of Hope – Steve McHugh
Virtual Reality – Daniel Naylor 
Arrival Day – K. C. Neal
Origins of Power – Neal Noakes
Iron Ghost – Tom Noel-Morgan
The Novice – Tom Noel-Morgan
The Warden – Tom Noel-Morgan
Lake of Sins – L. S. O’Dea
Light Energy – John O’Riley
Bonds, Broken & Silent – Kris Austen Radcliffe
The Keeper – Kaytie Reade
My Favourite Colour is Aubrey – M. W. Rowe
Vigilantes – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Dark Road – Rowan Scot-Ryder
Ignite the Shadows – Ingrid Seymour
Secrets of the Tomb – Deva Shore
The Sanctum of the Sphere – Luther Siler
Priestess of the Dragons’ Temple – Amelia Smith
The New Morality – Lance Smith
Redemption – Richard Stephenson
Fresh Blood – Ricardo Steyner
Landon the Time Controller – Fairlie Sweet
Chimera – N. J. Tanger
The Kura – Mary Patterson Thornburg
Veil of the Corrupter – J. L. Tomlinson
Anchors No More – David Edward Wagner
Dreadnought – Michael Wallace
Second Activation – Darren Wearmouth & Marcus Wearmouth 
Monsters of Pittsburgh Omnibus – Kate Whitaker
Grey – Christi Whitney
The Enlightened – Dima Zales

Dwarves in Space – S. E. Zbasnik