Wednesday, December 15, 2010

News and Covers Tchaikovsky and Buchanon

First, I hear people are already getting limited, numbered ARCs of Wise Man's Fear [US] [UK] (Kingkiller Chronicle Day 2) by Patrick Rothfuss. Consider me extremely jealous. But mostly I'm just happy that it is in fact a reality.

Love this one:
Not so much of a fan here outside of the background:

Not a huge fan of models dressed up medievally on my covers. Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Some Books in the Mail

Here's another couple in the mail from the nice people at Tor. I mentioned last week that I'm copying (somewhat) The Speculative Scotsman's form in rating each book as his review priority.

Note: All blurbs from Goodreads unless otherwise specified.

Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time Book 13)
by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson [US] [UK]

3 out of 5
(There's a few in between I haven't read yet)
The Last Battle has started. The seals on the Dark One’s prison are crumbling. The Pattern itself is unraveling, and the armies of the Shadow have begun to boil out of the Blight.

The sun has begun to set upon the Third Age.

Perrin Aybara is now hunted by specters from his past: Whitecloaks, a slayer of wolves, and the responsibilities of leadership. All the while, an unseen foe is slowly pulling a noose tight around his neck. To prevail, he must seek answers in Tel’aran’rhiod and find a way—at long last—to master the wolf within him or lose himself to it forever.

Meanwhile, Matrim Cauthon prepares for the most difficult challenge of his life. The creatures beyond the stone gateways—the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn—have confused him, taunted him, and left him hanged, his memory stuffed with bits and pieces of other men’s lives. He had hoped that his last confrontation with them would be the end of it, but the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. The time is coming when he will again have to dance with the Snakes and the Foxes, playing a game that cannot be won. The Tower of Ghenjei awaits, and its secrets will reveal the fate of a friend long lost.
Songs of the Dying Earth
Edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois [US] [UK]

3 out of 5
(Looks cool, but never read Vance)
Today, in order to honor the magnificent career of Jack Vance, one unparalleled in achievement and impact, GEORGE R.R. MARTIN and GARDNER DOZOIS, with the full cooperation of Jack Vance, his family, and his agents, suggest a Jack Vance tribute anthology called Songs of the Dying Earth, to encourage the best of today's fantasy writers to return to the unique and evocative milieu of The Dying Earth, from which they and so many others have drawn so much inspiration, to create their own brand-new adventures in the world of Jack Vance s greatest novel.

Half a century ago, Jack Vance created the world of the Dying Earth, and fantasy has never been the same. Now, for the first time ever, Jack has agreed to open this bizarre and darkly beautiful world to other fantasists, to play in as their very own. To say that other fantasy writers are excited by this prospect is a gross understatement; one has told us that he'd crawl through broken glass for the chance to write for the anthology, another that he'd gladly give up his right arm for the privilege that's the kind of regard in which Jack Vance and The Dying Earth are held by generations of his peers.
Passion Play
by Beth Bernobich [US] [UK]

4 out of 5
The daughter of one of Melnek’s more prominent merchants, Ilse Zhalina has lived most of her life surrounded by the trappings of wealth and privilege. She has wanted for nothing and many would consider her lot a most happy one. But there are dark secrets even in the best of families and Isle and the women in her family have learned that to be beautiful and silent is the best way to survive.

However, when Ilse fianlly meets the colleague of her father’s selected to marry her, she realizes that this man would lock in her a gilded cage. In her soul, she knows he is far crueler and more deadly than her father could ever be.

Ilse chooses to run from this life. Her choice will have devastating consequences and she will never be the same.

But she will meet Raul Kosenmark, a man of mystery who is the master of one of the land’s most notorious pleasure houses…and who is, as Ilse discovers, a puppetmaster of a different sort altogether. Together they will embark on a journey that will reshape their world.

Lush fantasy. Wild magic. Political intrigue and the games of seduction and treachery to gain control of a kingdom. PASSION PLAY is all of these and more. It is the journey of a woman who must conquer her passions in order to win all that she desires.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reviews - Supernatural: The Unholy Cause by Joe Schrieber and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Here are a couple reviews I've put up at Only the Best, but that I've been slacking on getting up here:

Review of Supernatural: The Unholy Cause by Joe Schreiber
"(Scene: The 90210ers are at school when the new kid shows up. He wants to fit in but doesn't quite know what to say and just happened to have read Supernatural: The Unholy Cause the night before.)

New kid (blurting out the first thing on his mind): So, have you ever heard of this Supernatural thing, it's kind of like the Dresden Files except the main people are much prettier...

Annie: think I've like heard of the TV show like... Never heard of these Bresnan Files, is it like the X-Files?

Dixon: Yeah dude, that's like my favorite show and like I watch it all the time. It's about demons and ghosts and like all kinds of creepy cool stuff.

Naomi (the mean one): It's like the worst ever and you guys are all like dumb. Why would you like ever watch such trash?

New kid: Well, I technically didn't watch anything, I read the book by Joe

Annie, Dixon, Naomi (uncomprehending): A book? Sick... (all turn and walk away)"

Audiobook review of Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay (Hunger Games book 3)
Well, if you read speculative fiction at all, you've probably already read this series and moved on. If you are one of the few who haven't, it's not a bad series. The characters are likable, the situations are made realistic, the story is straight-forward and fast-paced, and it's even thought-provoking at times. It is told in first person, of which I know some aren't the biggest of fans, but overall Recommended.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Some Books in the Mail

I always like it when others do posts like this so here goes another attempt. I thought I'd also borrow The Speculative Scotsman's rating system for review priority.

Note: All blurbs from Goodreads unless otherwise specified.

Hawkwood and the Kings [US] [UK], Century of the Soldier [US] [UK] Omnibuses
by Paul Kearney

5 out of 5
(Loved The Ten Thousand)
In a land torn by religious war and chaos, rogue mariner Richard Hawkwood leads an expedition to find a lost continent where safe haven may be found. But before the explorers find sanctuary-they must first survive the journey.

The Elephant Tree
by RD Ronald [US] [UK]

4 out of 5
Reminiscent of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting, this debut novel, The Elephant Tree challenges the reader's sense of morality with shocking plot twists and vivid characters.

Mark Fallon is an overworked detective investigating a spate of attacks at a string of high profile city center nightclubs. Scott is a dejected 24 year old struggling to make ends meet working for his brother and supplementing his income with a small-scale drug dealing operation. Angela is an attractive 23 year old, raised by her father, a career criminal and small time drug dealer who supplies Scott with cannabis.

This is a chilling tale spanning a few months in the lives of Scott and Angela, where realizations about the present combine with shocking revelations from the past leading to an apocalyptic climax where they no longer know whom they can trust.

Nyphron Rising
[US] [UK], Emerald Storm [US] [UK], Wintertide [US] [UK]
by Michael J. Sullivan

5 out of 5
(Can't wait to continue this great series)
Books 3 through 5 of Riyria Revelations. Here's the blurb for book 1, Crown Conspiracy:

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats to the murder of the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out…and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

Betrayer of Worlds
by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner [US] [UK]

3 out of 5
(Ringworld is supposed to be good, but therein lies the problem)
Since fleeing the supernova chain reaction at the galactic core, the cowardly Puppeteers of the Fleet of Worlds have just barely survived one crisis after another. The rebellion of their human slaves. The relentless questing of the species of Known Space. The spectacular rise of the starfish-like Gw’oth. The onslaught of the genocidal Pak.

Now fresh disaster looms, as though past crises have returned and converged. Who can possibly save the Fleet this time?

This is the first in a series which is the prequel to Larry Niven's Ringworld series.

by Jared Southwick [US] [UK]

4 out of 5
An action-packed story filled with monsters and tyrants, heroes and heroines.

John Casey was ten years old when his mother was murdered...and ten when his father hid the truth from him. Without that knowledge, he has no idea of the enemies that lie in wait.

Now grown up, John lives a solitary life, in a world enslaved by ignorance and superstition, when anyone unusual is treated with distrust and even killed...and John has some very unusual gifts. When he is accused of witchcraft, John does the ony thing he's ever done - Run! That is, until he meets Jane, who lives in the bleak, imprisoned town of Marysvale. Life outside the safety of the town walls means certain death from the brutal monsters that hunt there. However, life inside, under the rule of a tyrannical leader, means no life at all.

As the love between John and Jane grows, the dangers of Marysvale unfold; and for the first time in his life, John discovers that there is something worth dying for.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Review - State of Decay by James Knapp

This looks to be a spin on the zombie theme in a dystopian society. I think I have to read this. Alec's review is up at Only the Best.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

HBO's Game of Thrones - 10 Minutes!


This is mostly new with a couple of the other videos/interviews showing up, but I'll take anything I can get.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Press Release: Dream of Legends by Steven Zimmer

For Immediate Release
November 23, 2010

Seventh Star Press is proud to announce the release of DREAM OF LEGENDS,
the second book in the epic fantasy Fires in Eden Series from Stephen

Now available for pre-order in a specially priced limited edition
hardcover and trade paperback, DREAM OF LEGENDS continues the adventures
begun in CROWN OF VENGEANCE, when it was released in fall of 2009.

DREAM OF LEGENDS journeys forward with several characters from the modern
world, who discover that finding themselves in the fantastical lands of
Ave was just the beginning. The assault upon the Kingdom of Saxany and
the tribes of the Five Realms ignites, as the eyes of The Unifier turn
southward, across the seas towards faraway Midragard. Within this
maelstrom, some find themselves on a path of discovery, to uncover powers
that lie within, while others must brave perilous journeys, to seek out
the things said to exist only in the faded mists of myth and legend. Epic
battles, plot twists, and new environments abound in DREAM OF LEGENDS.

Book Two of the Fires in Eden Series, DREAM OF LEGENDS is immersive, epic
fantasy, for those who love to explore richly developed fantasy worlds
alongside an ensemble of intriguing, diverse characters. Readers of the
great epic fantasy authors such as Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, and
J.R.R. Tolkien will find a wondrous trove of adventure, characters, and
depth in this next step of the Fires in Eden series.

Working with Stephen for the first time, and taking on the editorial reins
of the Fires in Eden Series to keep the dedicated yearly release schedule
on course, was Karen Leet.

"Working with Stephen has been a joy. He is totally professional about his
work, meets deadlines and edits cheerfully," Karen commented. "He makes
editing easy for me, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know his
characters, who now seem to me like actual people with genuine depth. His
plotlines stride across the pages on swift, sure feet and sweep the reader
along with them."

“Having Karen as my editor on DREAM OF LEGENDS was a wonderful experience.
She did a meticulous analysis of Crown of Vengeance to ensure full
continuity of tone and style with the new book. I am fortunate to be
working with two excellent editors on my two series. The new book is
loaded with action, and there are some very big revelations in regards to
the full series,” Stephen said. “DREAM OF LEGENDS builds strongly upon
the foundation set in place by Crown of Vengeance, keeping storylines
tight while introducing many new and exciting elements. I am confident
that readers who enjoyed the first book are going to be elated with this
new installment of the series.”

Continuing one of the most extensive collaborations between an artist and
an author in the fantasy sphere, a brand new set of illustrations and
cover art were created for DREAM OF LEGENDS by fantasy artist Matthew
Perry. With the two Rising Dawn Saga books and the two Fires in Eden
books, a growing body of over 50 full page illustrations have been created
by Matthew for Stephen’s literary work.

In addition to writing two active epic-scale fantasy series, The Rising
Dawn Saga and the Fires in Eden Series, Stephen also saw his first foray
into the steampunk genre published a couple of months ago with “In the
Mountain Skies”, which was included in the Dreams of Steam Anthology
(Editor Kimberly Richardson, Kerlak Publishing). Stephen is also a
screenwriter and director in the world of film, with a new fantasy short
film on the horizon in early 2011, “Swordbearer”, which features
professional wrestler Al Snow, and is based on the H. David Blalock novel
Ascendant (Sam’s Dot Publishing).

By the third week of December, DREAM OF LEGENDS will be available in
hardcover, trade paperback, and several eBook formats, for owners of the
Kindle, the iPad, the Nook, Sony eReaders, and other compatible electronic
reading devices.

Already maintaining one of the most active year-round appearance schedules
of any fantasy author, Stephen will be hitting the road extensively in
2011 in support of the Fires in Eden Series, the Rising Dawn Saga, and the
“Swordbearer” short film. The third book in the Rising Dawn Saga is
slated for summer of 2011, and the next Fires in Eden Book for December of

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site
for Seventh Star Press, at , or at the author's
site at

Plus, here're some really great illustrations:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The little guy

I meant to put these up a while ago, but here's the little guy at Halloween in his monkey costume:

And here's the monkey family:

Happy Thanksgiving, I fully realize this is about a month late. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Indie Lit Awards

The Independent Literary Awards are probably best explained by the site itself:

Independent Literary Awards are given to books that have been recommended and voted on by independent literary bloggers. Nominations are open to independent literary bloggers only, and are then voted upon by a panel of bloggers who are proficient in the genre they represent. Each panel is led by a judge who oversees the integrity of the process.
I will be participating as a judge with a panel of bloggers next year to help select the Independent Literary Awards for Speculative Fiction. You may have seen the badge on the right side of the screen. It's also a link, so you can check out the website and even submit nominations if you want.

The bloggers who will also be participating are (in no particular order... except favorites :D):

Gem from Gemzina

Jared from Pornokitch, and

Jamie from Mithril Wisdom

Sarah from Book Worm Blues was the one who got us all started on this, but she's had to bow out sadly.

This should be a fun venture and I'll try to keep you updated as we get things going. Nominations are going on right now, so check out the Indie Lit. site to make sure your favorites that were published this year get on the list.

Friday, November 19, 2010


No it's not my birthday, but it has been a year since I started this blog. I haven't been kicked out of Law School yet and I've even had a baby (not personally - my wife did) since the start, not to mention 49 reviews. It's amazing I still enjoy it this much. :)

I'm still working on providing better reviews and content, but I think it'll take a couple more years for that to actually start working. :D

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Press Release: Thrall by Steven Shrewsbury

Seventh Star Press has been busy and here's their latest:

For Immediate Release
November 5, 2010

Seventh Star Press Proudly Introduces Steven L. Shrewsbury's Thrall.

Seventh Star Press is proud to announce the release of THRALL, the new
heroic fantasy novel from author Steven L. Shrewsbury.

Now available for pre-order in limited edition hardcover and trade
paperback, THRALL is the first published adventure of a brand new hero in
fantasy literature, Gorias La Gaul.

Set in an ancient world, Thrall is gritty, dark-edged heroic fantasy in
the vein of Robert E. Howard and David Gemmell. It tells the story of
Gorias La Gaul, an aging warrior who has lived for centuries battling the
monstrosities of legend and lore. It is an age when the Nephilum walk the
earth, and dragons still soar through the air … living or undead. On a
journey to find one of his own blood, Gorias' path crosses with familiar
enemies ... some of whom not even death can hold bound.

Having also worked with Steven on his novel Tormentor (Lachesis
Publishing), Louise Bohmer served as the editor on Thrall. "Working with
Steven Shrewsbury on a novel is an enjoyable experience. Steve is a
conscientious author who is easy to work with. His stories are grand
adventures in imagination,” Bohmer commented.

Steven Shrewsbury is a rising star in fantasy, with a host of published
work spanning novels, magazines, anthologies, and other publications. In
addition to the release of THRALL, Steven recently saw his collaboration
with Nate Southard, BAD MAGICK, published in hardcover by Bloodletting
Press. He has two other highly-anticipated releases on the horizon. His
collab novel with Peter Welmerink, BEDLAM UNLEASHED, was recently accepted
by Belfire Press for an early 2011 release. The novel HELL BILLY is to
be published by Bad Moon Books in 2012.

“Sometimes I think Steven Shrewsbury could very well be the reincarnation
of Robert E. Howard, in a writing sense,” commented fellow Seventh Star
Press author Stephen Zimmer. “As a huge fan of David Gemmell and Robert
E. Howard, I can say with absolute confidence that Steven Shrewsbury is
exceptional at writing dark-edged heroic fantasy. It is not an
exaggeration to say that Gorias La Gaul could one day join the heroic
fantasy pantheon with Conan, Druss the Legend, and other legendary fantasy
figures. I can’t wait to read more adventures with Gorias in the future.”

The Seventh Star Press editions feature cover art and additional
illustrations from fantasy artist Matthew Perry. The limited edition
packages feature the artwork in a special set of 5X7 glossy prints, a set
of bookmarks, and a full-sized Gorias poster that come with every
pre-ordered hardcover or trade paperback.

By the first week of December, the book will be available in hardcover,
trade paperback, and several eBook formats, for owners of the Kindle, the
iPad, the Nook, Sony eReaders, and other compatible electronic reading

An extensive series of special events and signings in support of THRALL
are in the planning stages, slated to begin in early 2011.

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site
for Seventh Star Press, at , or at the author's
site at

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Look

As you can see, I've updated The Stamp. I was getting a bit tired of the old look and I think I'm liking this a bit better.

I'll probably be updating a bit more, mostly just tweaking some things here and there and fixing the header since I'm not a big fan right now, but the picture I used to have is on my other computer (the one that is kaputt).

Hope you like. :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Towers of Midnight, 1 Star Reviews, eBooks, and Price Discrimination

While there are a few blogs that have mentioned this fun situation, most notably Pat, James, and Jeff, I have been silently fuming and therefore need to put pen to paper...or...fingers to keys.

Brandon Sanderson's Tweets from a few weeks back deal with, in large majority, the fact that the eBook for Towers of Midnight comes out much later than the Hardback version that just came out this week. He concedes that it's coming out too late, talks to the right people, and gets the date moved up a bit.

Then we see a slew (13 out of 63) of one star reviews coming in for Towers of Midnight solely because people are mad that it's not coming out right away electronically.

I admit, I have yet to jump on the eReader bandwagon and I probably will soon enough (I think I've mentioned the lack of funds before). I don't have an ebook and therefore I have no passion for ebooks yet. That's my warning.

What this really comes down to is Price Discrimination. The Publishing market has been the prime example of Price Discrimination for just about every economics professor known to man. In order to decrease the amount of consumer surplus (and therefore increase revenues), the publishing market takes advantage of the fact that many people are very excited about the newest book coming out. So much so that they are willing to pay extra for that opportunity to read the book immediately.

I know there are other reasons for people wanting to buy hardback books. They're nice to have, they look good, they're more durable for multiple readings...but they also represent the opportunity for the publisher to make some extra money on those people who do not want to wait. Hence why the mass market paperback doesn't come out for another year or so after the hardback. Why aren't we complaining that the mmpb isn't coming out now?

Now there are eBooks. And even with the increased price (which I think is the only part where complaints are legitimate), they still take away quite a bit from the hardback sales. A publisher is not going to do this. That's their bread and butter.

Coming to my point. I think it's really sad that people have gone to Amazon to post 1 star reviews about the book. I know we're in the age of instant gratification. We need cell phones that let us check email because we can't be out of touch for more than a second.

But, if you want to read a book, you still have to pay the premium, just like we always have. If you want the discount, you have to wait a bit.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blogs That Made Even Better Books

I got an email this morning from a blog with an interesting post that I figured I could mention here. The post is called "15 Blogs that Made Even Better Books". I may have to buy one or two of these in fact.

I looked really hard for an appropriately themed (SFF) one, but this was pretty funny

Some on the list include a blog/book that makes charts, graphs, and Venn diagrams explaining just about everything, a blog/book of funny Japanese/English translations, and even a (very sad) blog/book that took out Garfield from the Garfield comic, which turned it into one very depressing comic.

Like I needed more things to waste my time with. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Press Release from Seventh Star Press

Yes, i've been a huge slacker post-wise these last few weeks. I'm sorry, it's been busy...I'm sure unlike anyone else who actually posts regularly. Okay, so the real reason is I'm not as talented of a multitasker.

So, here's something:
For Immediate Release
October 27, 2010

Seventh Star Press Proudly Announces the Acquisition of Award-Winning Author Jackie Gamber’s Leland Dragon Series

Seventh Star Press is proud to announce the addition of award winning author Jackie Gamber to its family of writers, with the acquisition of her YA Fantasy saga, The Leland Dragon Series.

The first book of the series, Redheart, was originally released by Meadowhawk Press, an exceptional small press publisher based in Memphis, TN, one of only four indie presses to ever win a Philip K. Dick Memorial Award (for the David Walton novel, Terminal Mind). When Meadowhawk Press decided to close its business operations, Seventh Star Press was thrilled
to have the opportunity to sign Jackie Gamber, and commit to the entire Leland Dragon Series.

“I'll always have a heart for indy press, and Seventh Star is the epitome of what it's about: dedication to a vision and enthusiasm for writers.
Seventh Star Press is an exciting ride, and I'm thrilled they offered me a seat,” commented Jackie about coming aboard with the Lexington, Kentucky-based publisher.

A wondrous coming of age tale, Redheart tells the stories of village girl Riza Diantus, and the dragon Kallon Redheart. Both are outcasts, struggling with the conventions of their respective societies, during an
age in which tensions are high between dragons and humans. The Leland Province teeters on the edge of war, as the Dragon Council Leader, Fordon
Blackclaw, seeks to drive humans into submission, or outright destruction.Under a blackening cloud of danger, the friendship grows between Riza and Kallon, as both face their respective destinies, embracing a host of challenges and threats, not the least of which includes regaining hope,
and confronting the difficult things of one’s past.

Jackie Gamber is a versatile and prolific writer, whose work has appeared in an array of anthologies and magazines, in addition to published novels.
Among her accolades, Jackie was the winner of the 2009 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction, was named honorable
mention in L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Award, and has been selected as the Editor Guest of Honor for the 2011 MidSouthCon, one of the
southern United States’ premiere genre conventions.

“Jackie truly embodies the spirit of the growing family at Seventh Star Press,” fellow Seventh Star Press author Stephen Zimmer said. “Her talent as a writer is well established, and she is a very popular, well-loved guest at conventions and events, in addition to being a dedicated
educator. She will be a fantastic ambassador for Seventh Star Press, and I know that everyone here, from our editors like Amanda Debord, to our art
director Matthew Perry, to authors like myself and Steven Shrewsbury, will be fully committed to raising awareness of Jackie and her exceptional

The Seventh Star Press edition will feature cover art and additional illustrations from fantasy artist Matthew Perry, whose work has been rapidly gaining attention on the convention circuit. The projected release date window for the new edition of Redheart is late February/March of 2011, in hardcover, trade paperback, and several eBook formats,
covering owners of the Kindle, the iPad, the Nook, Sony eReaders, and other electronic reading devices.

Sela, Book Two of the series, is targeted for a mid-late summer release in 2011, with Book Three scheduled for mid-2012 release in all of the
aforementioned formats.

An extensive series of special events and signings in support of the novels are in the planning stages, slated to begin in early 2011.

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site for Seventh Star Press, at , or at the author's site at

Have a great Halloween weekend everyone.

Any good costume ideas? My family has a bit of a theme going, I'll post pictures later. :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Stamp is a Wasteland (this week)

Because I have so much free time, I signed up for Moot Court Competition, which means the next two weeks will be insane. Hence the lack of posting. Apologies in advance.

I do hope to post some reviews this week and the next (because luckily they're already to mostly done).

Here's hoping I don't keel over this week!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Towers of Midnight First Chapter - Apples First

Tor's got the first chapter of the newest book in The Wheel of Time, Towers of Midnight. One of these days I'll be able to actually read these things once I catch up. Next year mayhap.
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose above the misty peaks of Imfaral. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
What? That's how it begins? :D

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review - Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian C. Esslemont

The review is up and boy did it turn out to be a tough one. There's so much going on in these books it's hard enough to wrap your mind around everything let alone review it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

(Audiobook) Quick Review - Metatropolis - Edited by John Scalzi

I'll try to keep it short as in just my thoughts about Metatropolis: The Dawn of Uncivilization [US] [UK]. In very short form, not a huge fan.

Some blurbage:
Sci-fi creators, Battlestar Galactica cast members, and star narrators have teamed up to craft a world of zero-footprint cities and virtual nations. It is a world where armed camps of eco-survivalists battle purveyors of technology. Where once-thriving suburbs have crumbled into treacherous Wilds. Welcome to the dawn of uncivilization.
Metatropolis is a collaboration of 5 science fiction authors; Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, and Karl Schroeder - with Scalzi as editor. They came together and thought up a distant future that they all sat down and started writing about. This anthology has the added benefit of having a short story collection that was built by the entire group and which stories could feed off each other.

Not to mention a great cast of audiobook readers staring some actors from Battlestar Galactica and the legendary Stefan Rudnicki, with John Scalzi giving an introduction to each story.

Great idea right? Until you start listening.

Now, I should have expected this, and I fully realize that especially after reading the blurb above, but Metatropolis was just too "messagy" - a word Kat from FanLit and I came up with when we were talking about the book (over email). I'm fine if you have a political agenda, but don't throw it down my throat...over and over and over again. (and over again)

I can say, however, that the stories that weren't all message were actually pretty good. Tobias Buckell's "Stochasti-city" and Karl Schroeder's "To Hie From Far Celinia" were both great reads (4 out of 5 stars). Scalzi's was pretty good too. Elisabeth Bear's story has no point whatsoever except the message I guess and I won't even go Jay Lake's.

Overall, the narration was amazing, some stories were pretty good, but I can't recommend it.

2.5 out of 5 Stars

Friday, September 17, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blog Updates

In an effort to make my blog less annoying I've moved some stuff around, deleted some things (like that pesky LinkedIn at the bottom of each post), and added a search function, which I always find handy on others' blogs.

Hopefully that will help The Stamp load faster, generally keep things from getting bogged down, and make it easier to get around.

Now I just need to think about changing the rest of the blog look. I still like my header with the picture of my bookshelf (which has drastically changed since), so that may still change a bit, but I'm liking the crowns less and less.

Any ideas to improve the blog? Was the LinkedIn function even helpful?

Thanks in advance. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Towers of Midnight Book Trailer

I can't watch this yet, but for those of you who've actually read through book 12, which I've heard there are a few, here ya go. Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, book 13 in the Wheel of Time, which means it's almost time for me to be able to start this series again.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Challenge... Fail

I tried really hard, I mean really hard. I even made it halfway through the book. But...

I could do it, I had to put it down. Even though I felt like I needed to finish for the sake of the challenge. Flight to the Savage Empire is just not worth my time. Forgive me please.

But, I figure that's one of the goals of the challenge. Let's find out what's good and what's not and warn each other if we have to. :D

"Full" challenge review will come later this week.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book Challenge

Feeling Challengy?

I was thinking not too long ago about what if I just grabbed a random book from the bookstore and tried it out. One whose author I've never heard of before and maybe just because the cover strikes me in a certain way.

This challenge is particularly poignant for me because I'm normally one who has to research every purchase, especially books. Why don't I give that many bad reviews? Because I look up multiple blogs, forums, etc. to find something I'm almost 100% positive I will like.

Hence a challenge.

So, we're trying to find those "diamonds in the rough". And while we know this won't work out best for everyone, as a collective, maybe we can find some really good stuff that no one has read.

Consider yourself challenged.

If you have a blog, let us know and we'll link to you when you get a review up of your challenge book. If not, give us a comment or an email and we'll post about it.

Here are some books/people that will be joining us (compiled and written by Tyson of Speculative Book Review):

Shadows on the Glass by Ian Irvine

An ancient war closed the Way between the Worlds, leaving the four human races of Aachim, Faellem, Charon, and Santhenar to inhabit a single realm. Thousands of years later, Llian the Chronicler discovers an ancient and dangerous secret, while a young woman gifted with magic embarks on a search for a powerful artifact. Irvine's series opener promises a grand-scale epic fantasy that features a pair of unusual heroes and a complex world rich in history and variety.

PeterWilliam of Speculative Book Review stated that he picked the novel due to the fact that there were runes running along the edge of the cover.
(Mmmm, runes. Milk please)

The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke

Shale is the lowest of the low-an outcast from a poor village in the heart of the desert. In the desert water is life, and currency, and Shale has none. But he has a secret. It's the one thing that keeps him alive and may save all the cities of the Quartern in the days to come. If it doesn't get him killed first...

Terelle is a slave fleeing a life as a courtesan. She finds shelter in the home of an elderly painter but as she learns the strange and powerful secrets of his art she fears she may have traded a life of servitude for something far more perilous...

The Stormlord is dying in his tower and there is no one, by accident or design, to take his place. He brings the rain from the distant seas to his people. Without a Stormlord, the cities of the Quartern will wither and die.

Their civilization is at the brink of disaster. If Shale and Terelle can find a way to save themselves, they may just save them all. Water is life and the wells are running dry...

I (Tyson) picked this one because my mom sent it to me thinking that I would enjoy it.

Seak's choice is also a good one.....

Flight to the Savage Empire by Jean Lorrah and Winston Howlett

"Bloodlust! In the Aventine Empire, gladiator games still slake the multitudes' undying thirst for blood. Magister Astra hated the games - with her telepathic powers, she felt the warriors' agonies as her own. But the Master had once again sent her there to tend the wounded: it was a punishment - but for what? Even her strongest Reading couldn't tell her. Not until an unexpected death and an exotic, mind-bending drug brought her into the path of the ex-slave warrior Zanos did Astra begin to understand the web of deceit, greed, and vengeance that would send them both in a desperate - Flight To the Savage Empire."

In the coming days and possibly weeks we will be posting our reviews of the challenge issued by Seak and Seak himself will be posting his review.

Since all three of us have gone out on a limb we now are challenging our readers to go out there and find a book from an author you have never heard of or have heard of but know virtually nothing about them and give that author a chance. You just might find a new series to read and at the very worst you have something to complain about to your friends and families. Best of luck and good hunting

Also, if you have not stopped by and checked out these other great sites, please do and check out the books they chose for the Book Challenge:

Simcha at SFF Chat

Thanks and Happy Challenging!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Review - The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

As one of the biggest releases of the year in one of the only genre's that count, The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive Book 1) [US] [UK] comes out tomorrow (in the US) and the word that normally comes to many people's minds is... hype. Does it live up to the hype? Well, let's see...

King Gavilar has been killed by an assassin in white and Alethkar's forces have been battling for years against the Parshendi on the Shattered Plains, a not-too-distant land filled with giant chasmfiends and valuable gemhearts, to right the wrong done to their king.

Kaladin is a warrior who dreams of fighting with the rest of the soldiers of Alethkar on the Shattered Plains, but quickly becomes embittered especially when he is sold into slavery and becomes even worse, a bridgeman. In other parts of the world, we follow Shallan on her quest to become the ward of not only the most famous scholar in the world, but also the sister to the king.

While taking the word "doorstop" to new levels, The Way of Kings is surprisingly fast paced. It's a thousand pages that reads like only a couple hundred, but this is also because the reader gets sucked into a world all it's own.

The Characters

Brandon Sanderson does an impressive job of creating an epic story while only focusing on a few central characters. The epic-ness, however, does suffer somewhat (not a lot) because of this. The main p.o.v.'s being Kaladin, Shalan, Dalinar, and Adolin, but there is hardly ever a time when it is not one of these outside of the interludes.

Kaladin is disenchanted (to say the least) with the world, with honor, and especially with lighteyes. He tries his best, but still leads everyone who follows to their deaths. If I had to say there was a central protagonist, I'd have to go with Kaladin and I'm glad of that. His were my favorite chapters, but not by much.

Shallan is a quick-witted lighteye from a smaller holding in the empire, but she's on a mission to save her family with some ulterior motives than those aforementioned. Her chapters were always fun to read, what with her tongue that gets her into or out of lots of trouble.

Dalinar Kholin and Adolin, Dalinar's son, are on the Shattered Plains fighting the interminable war against the Parshendi. The only house to hold to the Alethi Codes of War in a society that sees war as a competition, they have become somewhat outcast. These chapters were always full of debate on what it is to be a leader. What is it that makes one honorable and why? Always happy to go back to the Shattered Plains.

The Magic

Sanderson is definitely spoiling us with his inventive magic systems and The Stormlight Archive is no exception to his arsenal. Believability keeps up with inventiveness and we have a character unto itself.

Almost immediately, in the prologue, we're introduced to Lashings, which isn't a magic that is used very often throughout the rest of the book, although it's implications are great and have me more than a little excited for the next volumes in the series. With Lashings, the user is able to essentially turn gravity on its head for either the user or the one it's being used against. Lots of potential here.

Next, the magic we see throughout the majority of the book are the Shardblades and Shardbearers. A Shardblade is an ancient weapon used by the Knights Radiant and a Shardbearer is one who wears Shardplate, the only thing that can stand up to a Shardblade. One who kills a Shardbearer is able to inherit that plate and weapon. I can never get enough of these guys.

There are other systems that are mentioned such as Fabrials and all of the systems depend to some degree on stormlight, so one could make the argument that they're all of the same magic.

While the characters and magic are amazing, Sanderson tells a great story that shows what it is to be honorable, to lead others, and to find one's humanity even in the midst of inhumanity.

The Way of Kings is an opening to a series that is much more vast than what we've seen so far. This is, however, one of the drawbacks, that it is an introduction. There's a lot that I still have questions about, but I must say that this introduction does it's job well.

So, does The Way of Kings live up to the hype? With my vast credentials at judging such a thing, I'd have to say it does. The only real drawback is we have to wait a few years to get the second volume as Sanderson is planning on (rightfully so) finishing The Wheel of Time first.

4.5 to 5 out of 5 Stars

Thursday, August 26, 2010

(Audiobook) Review - On Basilisk Station by David Weber

This is a cult classic in military science fiction and I finally found a chance to get started on this 12 book (and counting) series. On Basilisk Station review at OTBSFF.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Some Books in the Mail

A nice haul came in this last week or so, mostly thanks to Book Chick City and Fantasy Literature (thanks a bunch). (Blurbs are from Goodreads)

Legend by David Gemmell This is the 25th Anniversary edition. I have already read it, but this is sure perty. :)
Druss is a warrior of legend who chooses to spend his last days in a mountaintop lair, alone. But when the fortress of Dros Delnoch is attacked by the Nadir hordes, the old and rusty hero returns to save the land. . .
Gridlinked by Neal Asher I realized I hadn't read anything by Neal Asher, so why not start from the beginning.
Cormac is a legendary Earth Central Security agent, the James Bond of a wealthy future where "runcibles" (matter transmitters controlled by AIs) allow interstellar travel in an eye blink throughout the settled worlds of the Polity. Unfortunately Cormac is nearly burnt out, "gridlinked" to the AI net so long that his humanity has begun to drain away. He has to take the cold-turkey cure and shake his addiction to having his brain on the net.Now he must do without just as he's sent to investigate the unique runcible disaster that's wiped out the entire human colony on planet Samarkand in a thirty-megaton explosion. With the runcible out, Cormac must get there by ship, but he has incurred the wrath of a vicious psychopath called Arian Pelter, who now follows him across the galaxy with a terrifying psychotic killer android in tow. And deep beneath Samarkand's surface there are buried mysteries, fiercely guarded.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman I have always considered myself a Neil Gaiman fan. I loved all the film adaptations, especially Stardust, and Good Omens is one of my favorites. Wait a sec. I haven't actually read anything that he's done on his own. What the heck is my problem? Here's the beginning of a solution.
When Richard Mayhew stops one day to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk, his life is forever altered, for he finds himself propelled into an alternate reality that exists in a subterranean labyrinth of sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. He has fallen through the cracks of reality and has landed somewhere different, somewhere that is Neverwhere.
Metatropolis by a whole slew of authors (John Scalzi, Jay Lake, and Tobias Buckell to name a few) This is only available on audio with not only some great authors (a bunch whose books I own yet have never read) but also a great production cast.
Sci-fi creators, Battlestar Galactica cast members, and star narrators have teamed up to craft a world of zero-footprint cities and virtual nations. It is a world where armed camps of eco-survivalists battle purveyors of technology. Where once-thriving suburbs have crumbled into treacherous Wilds. Welcome to the dawn of uncivilization.
Full Circle (Book 3 in the Castings Trilogy) by Pamela Freeman This one and the next are obviously winnings as I do not own the first two in either of these series'. The more I read about them, the more I can't wait to start each (series that is).
Saker's ghost army is slaughtering those of the new blood, fueled by an ancient wrong. But while he'd thought revenge would be simple, he's now plagued by voices foreshadowing a calamity beyond his comprehension.

Ash and Bramble raise the warrior spirit of Acton, mighty in life and powerful in death. Only he can stop Saker's rampage. But is Acton, Lord of War, murderer or savior?

And why would he help strangers protect a world he's never known?
Fall of Thanes (Book 3 in the Godless World) by Brian Ruckley
"The world has fallen from its former state. The war between the clans of the Black Road and the True Bloods has spread. For Orisian, thane of the ruined Lannis Blood, there is no time to grieve the loss of his family, brutally slain by the invading armies. The Black Road must be stopped. However, as more blood is spilled on the battlefields, each side in the conflict becomes more riven by internal dissent and disunity." "Amid the mounting chaos, Aeglyss the na'kyrim uses his newfound powers to twist everything and everyone around him to serve his own mad desires." Meanwhile, the long-dormant Anain are stirring and when the most potent race the world has ever known returns, the bloodletting may never stop.
Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky Do I really need to say anything about this book? Can't wait to read it.
Seventeen years ago Stenwold witnessed the Wasp Empire storming the city of Myna in a brutal war of conquest. Since then he has preached vainly against this threat in his home city of Collegium, but now the Empire is on the march, with its spies and its armies everywhere, and the Lowlands lie directly in its path. All the while, Stenwold has been training youthful agents to fight the Wasp advance, and the latest recruits include his niece, Che, and his mysterious ward, Tynisa. When his home is violently attacked, he is forced to send them ahead of him and, hotly pursued, they fly by airship to Helleron, the first city in line for the latest Wasp invasion. Stenwold and Che are Beetle-kinden, one of many human races that take their powers and inspiration each from a totem insect, but he also has allies of many breeds: Mantis, Spider, Ant, with their own particular skills. Foremost is the deadly Mantis-kinden warrior, Tisamon, but other very unlikely allies also join the cause.

As things go from bad to worse amid escalating dangers, Stenwold learns that the Wasps intend to use the newly completed railroad between Helleron and Collegium to launch a lightning strike into the heart of the Lowlands. Then he gathers all of his agents to force a final showdown in the engine yard…

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Article - Why You Should Read... John Marco

You probably already saw this because you just can't get enough of me, but here's the link to my article on on "Why You Should Read... John Marco."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

(Audiobook) Review - The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett

Peter V. Brett stays consistent with this great installment in the Demon Cycle, The Desert Spear. Review here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Edi's Book Lighthouse Giveaway - The Affinity Bridge

Edi's Book Lighthouse is having it's first giveaway with George Mann's The Affinity Bridge, Book 1 in the Newbury and Hobbs series. I've been eyeing George Mann's work lately, especially given Edi's praise, so you can count me in.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The "To-Read" Pile at a Glance

I saw this on Edi's Book Lighthouse and thought it was a great idea. He put up pictures of the next books he plans on reading so I figured I'd do the same. The only difference is that he will actually finish his books and some whim will have me reading something completely different.

I really wish I had his dedication. :)

Anyway, the plan for the next month or so is to either finish or continue some of the series' I've been working through. All but two of the books pictured below are either the next book in the series I need to read or the end of a series.

Part 1 (from left to right): An Autumn War and The Price of Spring by Daniel Abraham, The Machinery of Light by David J. Williams, and Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian C. Esslemont

Yes, I'm finally planning on finishing The Long Price Quartet. I wouldn't blame you if you thought I forgot, but I finally found a copy of The Price of Spring and didn't want to continue without it.

Part 2 (from left to right): CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh, Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch, The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King, and Flight to the Savage Empire by Jean Lorrah and Winston A. Howlett

That last one you'll find out more about soon; at least as to why I'm reading it.

The beautiful background color in the pictures is courtesy of my wonderful law library desk. Just love the color choices.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Media Commentary or It's Slug-Bug not Slug Volkswagen

I just needed to get some things off my chest. Yes I've had too much time at work to watch mindless TV, but I don't know what I'd do without Hulu. I apologize that this will have little to no relation to SFF. Sorry.

Has anyone seen the Volkswagen commercials that have been playing lately? Some type of Volkswagen car zips by and an onlooker slugs his neighbor saying "Blue one", "Red one", "Green one" and you get the picture. Here's an example:

Now, when did it become okay to slug on any Volkswagen? Last I checked it was Slug-Bug and that was it. Have the shotgun rules changed on me too? I sure hope not because I still wait to call it until you're within eyesight of the car.

This is another clarification point but on reality TV's inbred 2nd cousin, America's Got Talent (or insert other country's name). I submit that any solo singer should be banned from the show. Isn't there already a contest solely based around singing? I think it's called hmm...American Idol. I realize the name's a bit similar, but why do singers do so well on this show?

Not to mention, I have a hard time trusting the judges anyway when they let this guy through to the semi-finals:

I can understand letting him go through the first round, because it's funny (at first), but letting him go on? Like I thought this show had any credibility to begin with.

Now, my wife "forces" me to watch So You Think You Can Dance. At least that's what I claim to anyone who says otherwise. :) But, what if dancing were a superpower that you were born with/gain? That's something that the League of Extraordinary Dancers (The LXD) attempts to answer:

I thought it was a cool idea and pretty fun to watch especially since episodes are anywhere from 4 to 13 minutes long and there are 7 out so far on

Ahh, I feel better now.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Some Books in the Mail

Received a couple series finishers in the mail as well as an ARC from Alex J. Cavanaugh. Will be reading all of these soon. :)

The Machinery of Light by David J. Williams [US] [UK]

Goodreads: "With The Machinery of Light, David J. Williams completes his furiously paced, stunningly imagined trilogy—a work of vision, beauty, and pulse-pounding futuristic action."

Very excited for this one. Absolutely loved the first two. (Book 1, Book 2)

CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh [Available October 19, 2010]

Dancing Lemur Press:

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron’s chagrin the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

The Price of Spring by Daniel Abraham [US] [UK]

Goodreads: Fifteen years have passed since the devastating war between the Galt Empire and the cities of the Khaiem in which the Khaiem’s poets and their magical power known as “andat” were destroyed, leaving the women of the Khaiem and the men of Galt infertile.

The emperor of the Khaiem tries to form a marriage alliance between his son and the daughter of a Galtic lord, hoping the Khaiem men and Galtic women will produce a new generation to help create a peaceful future.

But Maati, a poet who has been in hiding for years, driven by guilt over his part in the disastrous end of the war, defies tradition and begins training female poets. With Eiah, the emperor’s daughter, helping him, he intends to create andat, to restore the world as it was before the war.

Vanjit, a woman haunted by her family’s death in the war, creates a new andat. But hope turns to ashes as her creation unleashes a power that cripples all she touches.

As the prospect of peace dims under the lash of Vanjit’s creation, Maati and Eiah try to end her reign of terror. But time is running out for both the Galts and the Khaiem.