Books Archives

A treat for Star Wars fans!

We have an audio excerpt from James Luceno’s new novel Tarkin, taken from the audiobook version of the novel.

Here’s what the story’s about:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Best-selling Star Wars veteran James Luceno gives Grand Moff Tarkin the Star Wars: Darth Plagueis treatment, bringing a legendary character from A New Hope to full, fascinating life.

He’s the scion of an honorable and revered family. A dedicated soldier and distinguished legislator. Loyal proponent of the Republic and trusted ally of the Jedi Order. Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority ever more mercilessly….and zealously pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion.

Rule through the fear of force rather than force itself, he advises his Emperor. Under Tarkin’s guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. When the so-called Death Star is completed, Tarkin is confident that the galaxy’s lingering pockets of Separatist rebellion will be brought to heel – by intimidation…or annihilation.

Until then, however, insurgency remains a genuine threat. Escalating guerrilla attacks by resistance forces and newfound evidence of a growing Separatist conspiracy are an immediate danger the Empire must meet with swift and brutal action. And to bring down a band of elusive freedom fighters, the Emperor turns to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer as remorseless as he is mysterious; and Tarkin – whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire’s supremacy…and its enemies’ extinction.

Listen below…
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Here’s a trio of books coming out soon that would get bounced to top of my TBR priority list!

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REVIEW SUMMARY: A diverse, eclectic, and fascinating collection of steampunk stories.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Editor Sean Wallace has brought together stories from such writers as Cherie Priest, Ken Liu, Gord Sellar, and others, that push the boundaries of the steampunk genre in new and exciting ways.

PROS: A broad range of steampunk tales that range from fantasy to hard scifi, and folk-tale to alternate-history.
CONS: Grouping the stories into themed sections would have made the similarities and differences among the approaches more apparent.
BOTTOM LINE: A fascinating romp through the steampunk imagination. (And there are pterodactyls. Just sayin’.)

The twenty-five steampunk stories in Sean Wallace’s The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures reveal just how rich and varied the genre can be. From fantasy to hard scifi, historical fiction to diary entries, they show us a whole range of ways to conceptualize and understand our world and many of its alternatives. Included are stories about circuses and mechanical birds, shape-shifters and pterodactyls, “mechanika” uprisings and political intrigue. Oh, and lobsters and golems. You get the picture.
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BOOK REVIEW: Dust by Hugh Howey

REVIEW SUMMARY: Satisfying conclusion to a remarkable science fiction series


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The end to a post-apocalyptic epic where people have survived underground in silos but are finally going to find out whether they can survive in the wasteland above.

PROS: Has the feel of a science fiction series we’ll tell our grandchildren about; shows improvement in pacing from previous books in series; surprise ending.
CONS: Lacked enough surviving characters to keep us as engaged as we were in earlier books of the series; subplot about the endangered child was not rewarding enough.
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Here’s the cover and synopsis for the upcoming novel Carousel Seas by Sharon Lee.

Here’s the synopsis:
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Joe Haldeman’s THE FOREVER WAR

When I was in high school, I devoured Ender’s Game and Starship Troopers, but it wasn’t until I’d left graduate school that someone forced me to read The Forever War. Since going back to it, I’ve found that it’s a book that’s grown on me each time I read it. It’s certainly one of the best SF novels that I’ve ever read.

Over on Kirkus Reviews, I’ve gone and taken a look at the background of the novel. Go read Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War.

Books Received: October 20, 2014

In the interest of full disclosure, here are the books we received this week.
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It’s time another Book Cover Smackdown! This time around, covers featuring illustrations and designs from books forthcoming in January 2015.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Pass artistic judgment!

Tell us:

  • Which of these covers do you like the most?
  • What works and what doesn’t work with these covers?
  • Do any of them make you want to learn more about and/or read the book?

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Here’s the cover and synopsis for Kate Elliott’s upcoming novel Court of Fives.

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Alma Alexander‘s life so far has prepared her very well for her chosen career. She was born in a country which no longer exists on the maps, has lived and worked in seven countries on four continents (and in cyberspace!), has climbed mountains, dived in coral reefs, flown small planes, swum with dolphins, touched two-thousand-year-old tiles in a gate out of Babylon. She is a novelist, anthologist and short story writer who currently shares her life between the Pacific Northwest of the USA (where she lives with her husband and two cats) and the wonderful fantasy worlds of her own imagination. You can find out more about Alma on her website (, her Facebook page or her blog.”

High Science and High Fantasy Walk Into a Bar…

by Alma Alexander

I have a science degree. Well, I have three, actually. I got my basic undergraduate BSc back in 1984, and then followed that up with what in South Africa at the time was a stepping-stone half-undergraduate and half-postgrad degree known as BSc (Hons.) In my Honours year, there were five of us – three young women, two young men, all eager-beaver young scientists all dewy fresh and enthusiastic. At our post-graduation-ceremony celebration, gathered together at the worst-kept secret at my University (a watering hole called Spanish Gardens…you might have heard about it…I used it as a setting for a novel I wrote back before the Mayans said the world would end…), the five of us were joined by one of our lecturers, himself a young postgrad, probably closer in age to us than he was to the elder echelon of the other academic staff at our department. On this occasion, he prophesied for us – he looked at each of the five of us and told us what our scientific futures would be. This one would go on to earn a PhD and end their lives in the halls of academe…this one would probably go into industry…this one this…this one that…and then he came to me.

He looked at me for a long time, and then said, “You…you are just misguided.”
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Over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I’m taking a look at a new graphic novel adaptation of Brent Weeks’ The Way of Shadows.

From the post:

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks is the first book in The Night Angel Trilogy. Yen Press, an imprint of Hachette Book Group has just released a graphic novel adaptation by Ivan Brandon and Andy MacDonald. I first learned about the graphic novel when Weeks visited Denver as part of his book tour for The Broken Eye, book three in his Lightbringer series. Having enjoyed the Yen Pres adaptations of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate books, I was excited to see how Shadows transferred to the comics medium. For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed.

Click over to the Kirkus Reviews Blog to read the rest of the review.

In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.

Today’s recommendations are by Teresa Frohock. T. Frohock has turned a love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. T is the author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale and has a short story, “Naked the Night Sings,” in the urban fantasy anthology Manifesto: UF. Another short story, “Love, Crystal and Stone” appears in The Neverland’s Library Fantasy Anthology.

Her newest work is the novella, The Broken Road, which is a dark fantasy similar to the Dark Tower series.

T lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.

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Adrian Cole was born in 1949 (Plymouth, UK) and his first published work was a trilogy of sword-and-planet novels, THE DREAM LORDS (Zebra, 1975-77) written in his early twenties. He has since gone on to have 27 books published, including the acclaimed OMARAN SAGA, a four volume fantasy and the STAR REQUIEM books, another fantasy quartet. Some of his early short stories were nominated for the British Fantasy Award and the Balrog Award and he has been published in the Year’s Best Fantasy (Daw)and also the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (St. Martin’s Press) More recently he has edited YOUNG THONGOR (Wildside Press) and has two new books released in September 2014, these being the science fiction THE SHADOW ACADEMY (EDGE Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing, Canada) and also the pulp hero collection of shorts, NICK NIGHTMARE INVESTIGATES (Alchemy Press, UK), featuring the hard-boiled occult private eye, Nick Nightmare. Victor Gollancz have recently released the OMARAN SAGA and the STAR REQUIEM as ebooks and they are also to be released as audio books from Audible, who have already released THE SHADOW ACADEMY.

A Perspective on Writing: Then and Now

by Adrian Cole

As a kid I was a voracious reader and I’d always had an ambition to be a writer: even then I started scribbling down (longhand) various books, none of which ever got completed – horror, crime, westerns, science fiction. When I first started writing seriously, in the 1960s, I had at least graduated to a manual typewriter and set about a magnum opus called THE BARBARIANS, inspired by Tolkien, Edgar Rice Burroughs and, for variety, Dennis Wheatley’s occult books. My zest and enthusiasm paid off and the work was picked up by Zebra Books (New York) and the final revisions turned out as THE DREAM LORD trilogy. Convinced that a glittering career was ahead of me, I threw in my day job and rattled off novels and short stories at a good rate of knots. I did sell stuff, but none of my work reached best seller status and certainly didn’t earn me enough to make a living for me and my family.
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Hands up: Who likes fantasy?

If your hand is up, then you might want to check out Robert Evert’s Riddle in Stone which — for a limited time — is a mere 99 cents for SF Signal readers!

Read on to see how to jump on this deal…

But hurry! This deal expires on October 31st!
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Here’s an audio treat: it’s an excerpt from the audiobook version of The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp, narrated by Steve West.

Here’s what the book is about:

The Accidental Highwayman is the first swashbuckling adventure for young adults by talented author and illustrator, Ben Tripp. This thrilling tale of dark magic and true love is the perfect story for fans of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.

In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher “Kit” Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man’s riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.

Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master’s quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, gobling attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….

Fans of classic fairy-tale fantasies such as Stardust by Neil Gaiman and will find much to love in this irresistible YA debut by Ben Tripp, the son of one of America’s most beloved illustrators, Wallace Tripp (Amelia Bedelia). Following in his father’s footsteps, Ben has woven illustrations throughout the story.

“Delightful and charming. A swashbuckling adventure in the vein of Robert Louis Stevenson.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson

Listen below…
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Tina Connolly lives with her family in Portland, Oregon. Her first fantasy novel, Ironskin, was a Nebula finalist, and the sequels Copperhead and Silverblind are now out from Tor. Her stories have appeared in Lightspeed,, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She narrates for Podcastle and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, runs the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake, and her website is

Friendship in SILVERBLIND

by Tina Connolly

There’s a trope, it seems to me, of the friendless woman. The one who soldiers on through her story with no support, no network. There’s a valid writing reason to this-make your character alone and friendless and they are in a more dire position. Sometimes it comes out of the Smurfette problem (if there’s only one girl in a story, she’s not going to have the opportunity to form a relationship with any other girls.) Sometimes, I think, it’s an exceptionalism problem. This girl, this girl we’re writing about, is different from all those other girls. (The mean girls, the makeup girls, the whatever girls.) Of course she couldn’t possibly be friends with those sorts of ordinary girls! She’s as good as a man! (Something my grandfather on my dad’s side once said to my feminist grandmother on my mom’s side. She was not amused.)
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October is my favorite month for reading horror stories. For this month’s Adaptation Watch at Kirkus Reviews, I take a look at horror stories that are being adapted for television and film.

Go check out ‘Tis the Season to Be Frightened! Check Out These Scary Stories Before You See Them on TV and Film.

In addition to the 399 Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror eBooks Priced at $3.99 or Less we found last week…here’s another 141 tempting eTreats!

NOTE: All of these titles are priced under $4 at the time of writing this post. But prices are subject to change, so check the price before clicking “buy”. If Amazon is not your eBook ecosystem, please do look up the titles wherever you buy your eBooks; discounts are often applied at other outlets, so check there.

  1. Zomburbia (A Zombie Apocalypse Novel) by Adam Gallardo (Kensington Books)
  2. Empire Of The Undead by Ahimsa Kerp (Severed Press)
  3. Lockdown: Escape from Furnace 1 by Alexander Gordon Smith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR))

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Here’s the table of contents (for real, this time!) for the upcoming anthology Dangerous Games edited by Jonathan Oliver, described thusly:

In a world of chances, one decision can bring down the house, one roll of the dice could bring untold wealth, or the end of everything. In this anthology of all new short stories the players gather, their stories often dark, and always compelling.

The players and the played, this new anthology from Jonathan Oliver (Magic, End of The Road, House of Fear, The End of The Line, World War Cthulhu) brings together brand new stories from an international team of talented authors, each with their own deadly game. This collection is set to include a full house of top authors including Hugo award-winning American writer Pat Cadigan, Brit Gary McMahon, Mexican Silvia Moreno Garcia, plus Tade Thompson, Rebecca Levene and more!

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Open Road Media has announced that eight seminal works of fantasy by Robin McKinley (including The Hero and the Crown) will be released as ebooks on November 18, 2014.

Press release follows…

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