Monday, December 21, 2009

Who'd've thunk?

I get a knock on the door today and find a package lying on the ground. I'm thinking, Aubrey must have ordered something, but no, it's addressed to me. At this point I'm a bit excited, I don't get things in the mail all that often. To my surprise, it's The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.

I know I didn't order this, but how cool to just randomly get this. Come to find out, I won it at and I completely forgot that I even entered. This version is signed by both Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordon (although I have no idea how they got the latter). Thanks to only the best! This just made my day.

Just to let you know, anyone can have up to three chances to win this same book or another by heading over to the contest at the top right of the screen. :) Just trying to spread the love.

Any Vonnegut fans out there?

When I'm not reading fantasy or sci-fi, I try to fit in some classics or even some books by authors I think are awesome. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. happens to be one of those authors I will go to every now and then when I need a break from the usual, even though a lot of his novels have a sci-fi twist to them.

The Sirens of Titan was my first entrance into Vonnegut's crazy mind and it remains one of my all time favorite books. Never before (and I think never since then) have I actually laughed out loud while reading a book. And I'm talking an honest laugh, not a fake laugh to try to get people around me to ask me what I'm reading (although I've been guilty of that before). :)

I was at a used book store the other day and I got to talking with the owners about Vonnegut, since one of them happened to be a fan, and they found (on Wikipedia so it wasn't too hard to find) a list of his own books Kurt Vonnegut graded. The list is actually found at the end of his novel Palm Sunday and I thought it was interesting enough to repeat here:

Player Piano: B

The Sirens of Titan: A

Mother Night: A

Cat's Cradle: A+

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A

Slaughterhouse-Five: A+

Welcome to the Monkey House: B-

Happy Birthday, Wanda June: D

Breakfast of Chapions: C

Slapstick: D

Jailbird: A

Palm Sunday: C

I've only read books he considers to be A's or A+'s so I have yet to find out what he considers to be a "bad" book. Palm Sunday was published in 1981, so this list doesn't include a lot of the newer novels, of which there are quite a few.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Top 100 Fantasy Books

About a year ago I found this site that lists the top 100 fantasy books and I thought I'd share it here. Anyone can vote for their top 10 books and then the site prepares the top 100. I'm not quite sure how often it's updated, but it also contains a "Next 100 Fantasy Books" so I guess once you're done with the first there's plenty more.

When I first found this site, I was relatively new to the genre and decided to use it as a basis for my reading and it actually worked out pretty well until I found other places for my book addiction. Plus, I'm really obsessed with lists.

Below are the top 10:

1. The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
2. Harry Potter Series - J. K. Rowling
3. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Wheel of Time Series - Robert Jordan
5. A Song of Ice and Fire - George R.R. Martin
6. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
7. The Belgariad Series - David Eddings
8. Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind
9. Magician - Raymond E. Feist
10. His Dark Materials Trilogy - Philip Pullman

**I've read at least one book of 8 of the top 10 (all except Wizard's First Rule and His Dark Materials)

**I've read 32 of the top 100

The site also has links to the top 100 fantasy films, the top 100 sci fi books (and films), and you can click on any book or film to find a synopsis and a category where the book belongs (such as Misfits and Mavericks or Kid's stuff).

Monday, December 14, 2009


Sorry, Giveaway Winner already Chosen.

Seak's Stamp of Approval, Ubiquitous Absence, and State of Review are proud to announce their first book giveaway.

We all feel that some of our holiday gifts were not quite what we had hoped to receive. So, we are offering one novel from the books shown below to one lucky winner. You have three chances to win by emailing each of our blogsite emails. This contest will begin December 15, 2009 (tomorrow) and the winner will be announced on January 10, 2010. Sorry, but this is limited to those in the U.S. only.

The rules are simple -

First, you get one chance to win for each blog you visit and email (emails found on the front page of each blog - see my profile box)

Seak's Stamp of Approval

Ubiquitous Absence

State of Review

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail) otherwise your message will be deleted. Make sure to put "GIVEAWAY" in the subject line.

Lastly, multiple entries (to individual blog addresses) will disqualify whoever sends them. Please include your screen name and the message boards you are frequently using.

Good luck and happy holidays from us at Seak's Stamp of Approval, Ubiquitous Absence, and State of Review!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Song slash Video

The Bastion is Back

John Marco is a favorite author of mine who used to run a blog called The Bastion, but just decided to quit one day. Luckily he's back in action, but it sounds like with less giveaways than before. Either way I'm happy he's back, I guess he missed it. Find him at

I've only read his first series, Tyrants and Kings, which is a cool mix between fantasy and technology in a gritty world of political intrigue.

The Jackal of Nar
The Grand Design
The Saints of the Sword

His next series is the Lukien Trilogy, which I own, but have yet to get to and he recently came out with Starfinder, a young adult novel. Good to have you back!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

StampReview | Banewreaker

When I heard that this book was basically The Lord of the Rings told from the perspective of the losing side, I had to check it out. It’s told in a similar lyrical manner and it is reminiscent of LotR, but it is its own story in its own world just in case you were wondering.

I have to say that Banewreaker really grew on me. At first I thought it would be a likeable book that would be fun just for the fact that it’s told from the “bad” guys’ perspective. But, I’ve really grown to enjoy the world of Urulat along with the great cast of characters who are all trying their hardest to do their best, good or bad.

Book 1 in The Sundering

mmpb - 487 pages

In the first few pages, we find out that there are 7 Shapers who have created the world of Urulat. Each Shaper has a certain gift. Satoris, the third born, is free with his gift to all of the creations of his siblings, but he is refused by his older brother, Haomane, who created the Ellylon (or pretty much the Elves). Haomane wants Satoris to take his gift back from Men and Satoris refuses. Thus begins the Sundering of the world and a time when Haomane spreads rumors declaring Satoris evil and Satoris is forced to take shelter with the Fjel (or the orcs for all intensive purposes).

And there you have it. Those that are considered “evil” are really just misunderstood. Don’t worry, this isn’t a huge spoiler since you learn all this in the first bit. What is great about this book is that each character believes he or she is doing the right thing. And really, who’s to say? Is it really the Ellyllons’ fault for following something they believe to be true? Are the Fjel really evil for helping a fellow being who’s in distress?

And the wonderful grey area continues to spread throughout the book. Tanaros, the immortal human general of Satoris’ army, really exemplifies this. Betrayed by his wife and king who had an adulterous affair, Tanaros kills them both and then finds sanctuary with Satoris in Darkhaven. Even though he is despised as the Betrayer or the Kingslayer in the realm of man, he is a champion in the eyes of those in Darkhaven.

One negative thing, but it really only has to do with the publishers. The Sundering was split into two books, Banewreaker and Godslayer, because it was getting too big. Together they total around 880 pages in mass market paperback, which normally isn't a big problem. Anyway, it's happened before and it's not a huge problem. The book's still great and I guess not so unwieldy to carry.

Who should read this? This is epic and lyrical and yet moves the plot very nicely. Read this when you’re in the mood for a change, when you want to get the feeling of what the other side is thinking; maybe it’s not all bad. Maybe we’re all just selfish and prideful. Whatever you do, you really should read it soon because it’s a great book.

4/5 Stamps for Banewreaker

4/5 Stamps for Banewreaker’s cover


Monday, December 7, 2009

The Lost Symbol Giveaway

Over at they're giving away a limited, signed edition of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (i.e. the biggest book of the year). I'm entered in the giveaway, but I'm not the biggest Dan Brown fan in the world so don't worry about ruining my chances. :)

The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon, #3)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Speed Reading

Ever wish you could read a bit faster?

Think of all the time you could save in school, work, and especially think of how many more books you could get through in your spare time. I know I would have actually had a life this last semester in law school if I could speed read.

A good friend of mine got me hooked with this site called You can copy and paste anything you want to read into the program and it will help you learn to speed read. You can adjust the speed at which the words flash by and also the chunk size (the amount of words that flash by at a time). It helps you get rid of that inner-monologue or "subvocalization" and get better at comprehension while you go.

I'll put it as a quick link on the right side of the page so you can easily check it out. Also, it's a free program (I promise I'm not trying to sell anything). :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Suvudu, Giveaways, and Blogs is the blog for Random house and those good folks have been offering free e-books on a monthly basis. The great part is that it's not just any books are being given away. In the last few months they've had such titles as His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik, Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. and plenty more (like titles from R.A. Salvatore and Anne McCaffrey).

Moral of the story, check it out at least monthly for some good stuff. Right now they're giving away Already Dead by Charlie Huston.

In December, Suvudu has been running a series of contests where one book is being given away on a daily basis, you just have to sign up for every book you're interested in. That way they're hoping to make sure everyone gets a fair chance for the books they actually want.

This month, Pat at has been doing some amazing giveaways as well. He's asked publishers to put together packages of books to give away on his site. Definitely check this out too (even though I know this is ruining my chances). :)

One more thing. This is just a shout-out to my friend Tyson who's got a great blog going at There are already some nice reviews on some pretty cool (and not so cool) books that you should check out (or not).

StampReview | The Bonehunters

Book 6 in the Malazan Book of the Fallen

Publisher: Tor Fantasy

mmp: 1232 pages, 2008

I say this about every other book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, but The Bonehunters has to be one of my favorites in the series. This was one of the quickest 1200 pagers I’ve ever read. There was constant action, from Y’Ghatan to Seven Cities to Malaz Isle with the typical witty banter and unbelievable happenings we’ve come to expect.

The Blurb: A world in which a host of characters, familiar and new, including Heboric Ghost Hands; the possessed Apsalar; Cutter, once a thief now a killer; the warrior Karsa Orlong; and the two ancient wanderers Icarium and Mappo, each searching for such a fate as they might fashion with their own hands, guided by their own will. If only the gods would leave them alone. But now that knives have been unsheathed, the gods are disinclined to be kind. There shall be war, war in the heavens. And the prize? Nothing less than existence itself…

The Bonehunters seemed much more forthcoming with information that most installments, although the usual ambiguity and confusion continues to thrive. It was also good to see some of the original characters come back especially since there was about a thousand page break since we’ve last seen them.

Who should read this? This section is to help you know not only who should read the book, but when (or when not) to read it. The Bonehunters (really the Malazan series) should definitely be read when you’re in the mood for sprawling epic where you are ready to be in the world for a long time (10 books not including novellas and Malazan Empire books). It’s high on magic and hard to classify except as high epic fantasy. There’s a lot of comparison between this series and A Song of Ice and Fire, but really they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. If you did like ASoIaF (and not just for the limited use of magic), but for the grittiness and scope then you would probably like this series too.

5/5 and Seak’s Stamp J

2/5 for the Cover and Seak's Stamp is reserved for the UK cover only J