Marked: I admire Adam the drug addict

Marked by Alex Hughes

For a couple more days you can still enter to win a copy of Clean or Sharp, the first two MINDSPACE INVESTIGATION novels.

My friendship with Adam has covered three novels now. Alex Hughes has taken me into a different future of the world I live in and made it very real for me, but the best part is that I’ve befriended a hero who I completely understand and admire. That’s right, I admire Adam the drug addict.

In Marked, the third book in Hughes’ MINDSPACE INVESTIG... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday (Giveaway!): Half in Love, by Alex Hughes

Today we welcome Alex Hughes, author of the MINDSPACE INVESTIGATIONS series. The second novel, Sharp, was one of my favorite reads last year. I've just finished the excellent third volume, Marked, which will be released on April 1. In Marked, Adam is investigating a case at the Telepath's Guild. Adam continues to be one of my favorite urban fantasy heroes because his struggles feel so viscerally real. The emotional agony and practical physical pain he combats as he struggles to maintain his sobriety in the face of difficult life transitions are poetically beautiful.

Here's your chance to try MINDSPACE INVESTIGATIONS. One commenter will win a copy of either Clean or Sharp (your choice). If you're in the US, you can choose a print or ebook... Read More

Breach Zone: An argument for change

Shadow Ops: Breach Zone by Myke Cole

If you take the time to look and consider, there are often important lessons you can learn from novels. Sometimes characters exhibit traits and growth that we, ourselves, would do well to emulate. Shadow Ops: Breach Zone contains some of those lessons and role models.

Good people do bad things. We call them mistakes. The hard part about being in a position of real responsibility is that the second and third order effects can greatly exceed even our most jaded expectations. For LTC Jan Thorsson, call-sign Harlequin, those effects manifested themselves when his former lover and the most dangerous woman in the world manages to rip a hole between the Source and downtown New York City to release a flood of goblins and other enemies of humanity.

As a result of having done the right, if not politically expedien... Read More

Iron Night: This urban fantasy series has a great protagonist

Iron Night  by M.L. Brennan

I really like it when an author can keep a character from growing stagnant. It’s not always obvious that it’s happening, but it’s very impressive when the author has enough vision to avoid it. In Iron Night, the second book in the GENERATION V series by M.L. Brennan, Fortitude Scott is a wonderful example of a main character that keeps growing.

Fortitude Scott has not given up on remaining as human as he can for as long as he can. After the drama and partial transformation that took place as a result of his heroic efforts to save innocent children from a terrible monster, it’s harder to do than ever before. After losing his job, getting a new room-mate and breaking up with his cheating manipulative girlfriend, the sky is the limit.

Fort is being expected to take a more active role in his mo... Read More

Generation V: Not a typical vampire novel

Generation V by M.L. Brennan 

Adolescent vampire novels are a dime a dozen and most of them revolve around a teenage girl with a love interest who happens to be a not-so evil, impossibly sexy vampire. It’s the kind of boring cliché that drives the male segment of the populace away from urban fantasy. There are exceptions to the rule and these stories can be not only fun to read, but also refreshing because they don’t follow the expected paths.

If you worked at a coffee shop, drove a terrible car, had a girlfriend who was unceasingly unkind and a room-mate who didn’t pay his half of the rent you would be Fortitude Scott. Being broke and working for an awful boss is tough, but lots of people have to deal with that. It’s the other side of Fort’s life that makes it especially rough. As the child of a vampire, Fortitude will eventually become a vampire, but he is fighting the process. The price ... Read More

The Emperor’s Blades: Starts a promising new epic fantasy series

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

Epic fantasy has been heavily stocked over the years with some powerhouse writers — Jordan, Erikson, Wurts, Rothfuss and Martin have been the standard bearers of this genre of fantasy. It’s a pretty challenging genre to break into, but after reading the first book of the CHRONICLE OF THE UNHEWN THRONE, The Emperor’s Blades, I am reminded that there is always room for someone new.

In epic fantasy, great empires are never allowed to simply exist in peace. It’s almost ine... Read More

Rex Regis: A very human tale

Rex Regis by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Regis Regis is the eighth book of the IMAGER PORTFOLIO and the fifth book following Quaeryt. After literally years of hard work, war, and nothing less than miraculous events, the curtain begins to close on this part of Solidar's history.

The fall of Antiago had been particularly painful for Quaeryt because of the loss of his child when his wife was injured. The reality of the constant threat of power-hungry competitors to influence the future of the continent of Lydar leaves Quaeryt with very little time to heal or mourn. In spite of his incredible success, Quaeryt knows that he must race back to report to Bhayar, now ruler of almost all of Lydar.

As in the previous four books, Quaeryt spends a great deal of time interacting with recalcitrant High Holders. These men enjoyed great power under the previous ruler of Bovaria, but are now very slow to adapt ... Read More

Bared Blade: Light fast-paced adventure

Bared Blade by Kelly McCullough

Bared Blade is the second book in the FALLEN BLADE series. Kelly McCullough continues the story of Aral Kingslayer, survivor of the destruction of the Goddess Namara turned petty thief and spy.

Aral is still struggling with the revelation that other members of his cult survived the fall of his goddess. His experiences in Broken Blade have started to give him an inkling that there may be more to look forward to than alcoholic oblivion. The relationship between Aral and his familiar/partner Triss has been an interesting twist on typical sword and sorcery tropes.

When a couple of oddly matched women are suddenly attacked in front of Aral, he chooses to get involved. The women have powers and skills far beyond the ordinary, which changes everything immediately. As further evidence of Aral’s re-orientation away from self-destruction via Kyle’s whiskey, Ara... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Identify last month’s covers

Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in October 2013. Once you identify a book cover, in the comment section list:

1. The number of the cover (1-12)
2. The author
3. The book title



Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday, you can come back and identify more.

Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember to check back in about 10 days.

Good Luck! Read More

Thoughtful Thursday (giveaway!): What splinters are stuck under your fingernails?

We’re pleased to once more welcome Max Gladstone, author of the excellent CRAFT series. Max is here to talk about the psychic origins of some of his influences and to ask about images and ideas that linger on in your mind. One commenter will win a copy of Max’s new book Two Serpents Rise which was one of the best books I read this year.



For every inspiration we admit, another lies buried. At book events (for my first book, Three Parts Dead, and for the most recent in the series, Read More

Two Serpents Rise: Impressive second book

Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone

Two Serpents Rise is the second book by Max Gladstone and is set in the same world as Three Parts Dead. I struggle to define the "genre" that this series fits into. There are elements of urban fantasy and steampunk, but none of that really fits. It doesn’t matter because the books are awesome and Gladstone has built something that really works.

Two Serpents Rise features Caleb Altemoc, a mid-level risk management analyst for Red King Consolidated (RKC). As with Three Parts Dead, the story follows the intriguing and complex corporate connections between powerful Craftsmen, wielders of magic, and the gods. Caleb is caught in the middle of a huge incident when one of the main water supplies for the city of Dresediel Lex becomes infested with demonic parasites. This is truly catastrophic because the city is in the middle of a desert, reminiscent of... Read More

Crossed Blades: Some really wonderful story telling

Crossed Blades by Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough’s FALLEN BLADE saga is a fun and fast moving fantasy series. I love a series that can incorporate humor along with the requisite action, magic and evil bad guys who need to be defeated. McCullough keeps things mockingly amusing by never letting the hero’s head get too big.

Crossed Blades tells the story of Aral, one time Blade of Namara before her fall. Since the death of his goddess, Aral’s life has been sad and dark, but the arrival of certain people and events are forcing him to drag himself out of the low life he has sunk to. With his new quasi-apprentice Faran keeping him on his toes, Aral is not yet ready to run into Jax, another former Blade of Namara, and his ex-fiancé. But Jax needs help. She has been through hard times and people who she is responsible for are in danger. Despite the risks and their unpleasant history, she has come to Tien looking for Ara... Read More

The One-Eyed Man: A Fugue, With Winds and Accompaniment

The One-Eyed Man: A Fugue, With Winds and Accompaniment by L.E. Modesitt Jr

I am a big fan of Modesitt’s science fiction work, even when he gets on his political soap box for gender, socially progressive politics, and environmental issues. The One-Eyed Man is a solo novel that encompasses all of these topics, but this time there is almost a feeling of cynicism that I really enjoyed.

Paulo Verano is an idealistic Environmental Analyst who has just been taken to the cleaners. In a scene that is familiar to many, his ex-spouse has left him for another person and has financially devastated him. His daughter is estranged from him and his business, while viable, is a means for his ex to continue to reap financial support. It’s a bleak picture.

Stittara is a distant world from the major planets of the Unity of the Cyelesian Arm. It produces a naturally occurring substance that essentially doubles the human li... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Best book you read in August 2013

It's the first Thursday of the month, which means it's time to report!

What is the best book you read in August 2013 and why did you love it? It doesn't have to be a newly published book, or even SFF. We just want to share some great reading material. Feel free to post a full review of the book here, or a link to the review on your blog, or just write a few sentences about why you thought it was awesome.

(And don't forget that we always have plenty more reading recommendations on our Fanlit Faves page and our 5-Star SFF page.)

As always, one commenter will choose a book from our stacks.

[Next week: Read More

The Thousand Names: A promising start

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

The Thousand Names is incredible. Yes, right out of the chute I am saying that I loved this book. It’s not going to be for everyone because it’s in this new Blackpowder genre that I am only recently getting acquainted with. Basically, it’s a mix of Napoleonic era military technology and aspects of magic. The exact mix depends on the author, but it certainly can create some fun interesting props to tell a story with. When you add that level of technology…. well, the lines between nobility and peasants, men and women, blur compared to traditional fantasy and that can be a refreshing change when it is done well.

The Thousand Names mostly revolves around three different characters. Jaffa, a quasi police administrator in the city of Khandar; Winter Ihernglass, a young Soldier in the Vordanai First Colonial Regiment who is hiding the fact that she is female from her fellow Sold... Read More

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