July 31, 2011

Summer Giveaway Hop & Author Interview: D.L Atha

Summer Hop Giveaway time! We’re having a very special event here: you’ve a chance to win a copy of D.L. Atha’s Blood Reaction: a vampire novel, that I reviewed recently in this post here. She’s kindly agreed to send it to our winners (yes, that was plural, people!), so I would ask everyone to say a big thank you to her...

And to welcome her to the interview we’re hosting today!

In My Mailbox #3

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started over at The Story Siren (and honestly, I don't know why I keep explaining when you surely know about it better than I do, but anyway).

So, what is new and coming this week? Check it out!

July 30, 2011

Review: Blood Reaction, by D.L. Atha

Author: D.L. Atha
Title: Blood Reaction: a vampire novel
Publisher: Foxboro Press
Disclosure: Received a copy from the author to review with total honesty.

Go to Amazon page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Annalice, a single mother and physician, is ready to immerse herself in the mundane chores of her farm as a diversion from her hectic professional life. But she becomes the victim of a home invasion, the supernatural kind. Vindictive and cruel, Asa, a century old vampire, takes brutal control of her life and home.

Forcing her to strike a bargain in exchange for her daughter's life, Annalice must not only accept his presence but also bow to his depravity. Facing threats to her only child, she relies on her skills as a physician to unravel the clues to the vampire's existence, attempting to beat him at his own game.

Caught in a race against a genetic timeline, Annalice struggles to survive the Blood Reaction
.” (GoodRead’s blurb) 


This is one vampire adult novel, and the implication made me, perhaps, a bit wary of the story. Boy, was I wrong!

July 29, 2011

Random Q&A #4: So who do you read?

This is such a dangerous question... 

I love the classics. I mean the golden classics: Homer's Iliad and Odysey and Vergil's Aeneid are good starting points.

The other "classics" I'd highlight include Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, Milton's Paradise Lost, Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice or Beaudelaire's Small Prose Poems: all of them noteworthy works and recommended readings - though, of course, I'm just naming my favorite handful!

A list of realism writers should include Fyodor Dostoevski's Crime and Punishment, Tolstoy's War and Peace and Perez Galdos' National Episodes. All of them master the art of creating an epic story through round characters following real (or plausible) events and there is much to be learnt and enjoyed.

Fantasy must-reads include George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire along with the obvious choice of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: both series should give you a vision of what a good epic should be all about. Terry Pratchet's Discworld has an amazing way of telling stories which are several levels deep in complexity and R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms books are a testament to interesting secondary characters, full of potential.

Then, there's Frank Herbert's Dune, a masterpiece of sci-fi and philosophy which should not be overlooked, and Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, a study of human nature and conflict. Since we're in the genre, Isaac Asimov's Short Stories may be pointed out as a sci-fi version of Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected.

And there is more. There is always more...

If you'd like to know what I'm reading now, check the small reviews on this blog about whatever book has caught my fancy at the moment!

July 25, 2011

Review: Beyond the Shadows, by Brent Weeks

Author: Brent Weeks
Title: Beyond the Shadows
Series: The Night Angel
ISBN: 9780316033664
Publisher. Orbit (2008)

Go to Amazon page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“In this action-packed conclusion to the Night Angel Trilogy, the assassin Kylar Stern faces an assignment that might prove impossible even for his deadly skills—-kill a goddess.” (GoodRead’s blurb)


I’m of two minds about Beyond the Shadows, can’t lie about it.

In a sense, it is the next logical progression after Shadow’s Edge: world shaking, epic, choral. We’ve far moved from the point wherein we just had Kylar and Cenaria. This time around we will follow more characters, we will try to move the storylines to a converging grand finale and will, perhaps, feel that it should not have been like that.

July 24, 2011

In My Mailbox #2

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started over at The Story Siren about what we have borrowed, bought or acquired for the upcoming week. I'm still feeling this meme out, but here it goes: the stuff I'll be reading this week!

July 22, 2011

Random Q&A #3: Let's talk influences. Who has influenced your writing the most?

I couldn't say. Honestly!

Sometimes I'm reading a book which leaves an impression and then, suddenly, a faint influence appears on whatever piece I'm writing at the time. Also, depending on the particular genre I'm writing, on the feel I want to give to a text, I guess I draw upon the devices I learnt from a particular writer or a particular source. 

For example, my humor tends to be heavily influenced by the kind of dry wit present on the Garfield comic strip or the 80's sitcom Alf. What does this say about me? Nothing too bad, I hope.

What about you?

July 20, 2011

Review: Shadow's Edge, by Brent Weeks

Author: Brent Weeks
Title: Shadow’s Edge
Series: The Night Angel
ISBN: 9780316033657
Publisher. Orbit (2008)

Go to Amazon page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Kylar Stern has rejected the assassin's life. The Godking's successful coup has left Kylar's master, Durzo, and his best friend, Logan, dead. He is starting over: new city, new friends, and new profession.

But when he learns that Logan might actually be alive and in hiding, Kylar is faced with an agonizing choice: will he give up the way of shadows forever and live in peace with his new family, or will he risk everything by taking on the ultimate hit?” (GoodRead’s blurb)


This book was a roller coaster ride and I loved it. The basis for the plot is quite straightforward but Mr. Weeks does some amazing things along the way that will leave you hanging on to his storytelling for dear life.

One of the best things about this second volume is the broadening. Everything broadens: the world is larger, the cast is larger, the scale and the consequences are larger... and does it work.

July 18, 2011

Review: The Way of Shadows, by Brent Weeks

Author: Brent Weeks
Title: The Way of Shadows
Series: The Night Angel
ISBN: 9780316033671
Publisher. Orbit (2008)

Go to Amazon page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city's most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he's grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly - and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins' world of dangerous politics and strange magics - and cultivate a flair for death” (GoodReads blurb)


Two things to be said: one, as you can see, I’ve decided to start adding the blurb to the reviews, to have some kind-of impartial, kind-of summary. And two, this series was a phenomenal return to the best classic fantasy ever.

July 17, 2011

In My Mailbox #1

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started over at the Story Siren. I’m supposed to show you what I got this week to read... Ready? Let’s see how this works out!

July 15, 2011

Random Q&A #2: Fantasy writers were gamers once. True?

In my case? 

Yes. Oh, yes... Absolutely. I have been a gamer since the tender age of twelve. I have played (or, in some cases, endured) long hours of good old Dungeons and Dragons, of World of Darkness, of computer myths such as Baldur's Gate or Neverwinter Nights... 

Now, up to what point gaming has shaped my writing? I wonder about that. There's some gaming habits I consciously apply to my writing (mainly, the story arc structure planning) and there's some gaming traits I consciously suppress (like the hero characters). All in all, I like to think that gaming has been another experience in life that has helped me to improve my story telling abilities, but I guess the reader must be the one to judge. 

How about you?

July 13, 2011

Writing tips #3: To research or not to research

So we have ascertained that we want to write, and we have a mild idea about what we’d like to write about. That’s great! But, unfortunately, it’s not time to start typing furiously away just yet.

Well, I mean, you can, of course. But sooner rather than later you’ll have to come back to this point. It’s not a very pleasant part of business, and I’d understand if you wanted to shirk from duty as it were... but really, it’s unavoidable.

It’s “research”.

And, before someone asks the question, the answer is: no, research is not something done by historical novelists only. Even if you want to write a sci-fi novel 5.000 years into the future or a riveting fantasy in a world with three suns and one purple moon, you’ll have to research.

July 12, 2011

Review: Anvil of Tears by E. D Lindquist

Anvil of Tears (Reforged Trilogy)Author:E.D. Lindquist
Title: Anvil of Tears 
Series: Reforged trilogy
Publisher: Loose Leaf Stories

Go to Amazon page

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The alien Arcadians always want to fly, not to run. But whatever else she might like to call it, Maeve Cavainna is running. She is chased closely by the infamous bounty hunter, Logan Coldhand, who intends to drag her back to Axis to collect the high price on her head.

When he finally corners Maeve, the long chase seems to be over... until a frightened girl stumbles into the middle of their fight and begs for their protection. Maeve and Logan call a reluctant end to their battle and promise to help the girl, but they have agreed to far more than they know. Can the fragile peace between hunter and mark hold long enough to save the lives that depend on them? (GoodRead's blurb)


To sum it up in one word: Potential.

I had not read sci-fi for a while, more focused on fantasy and young adult, but Anvil of Tears brought me back to the genre and I don’t regret it. The concept that made me grab it from the virtual shelf involved the mixture of two genres that are too often lumped together in spite of their differences and to be honest the book makes a more than decent enough job of throwing fantasy fairies in a world of interstellar trips.

There were several qualities I’d point out, but perhaps one of the best is world building. The alien races and culture were detailed and original –even thought I kept seeing “Avatar” every time the Dailon were mentioned and I had to wonder about how furry two-legged dogs could make for good mechanics. The fairies are just another alien race, the destitute ones without a home planet, and we learn extensive bits of their medieval-like customs in the middle of superluminal flights and laser guns.

July 11, 2011

Review: A Song of Ice and Fire, by George RR Martin

Author: George RR Martin
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire
Book 1: A Game of Thrones
Book 2: A Clash of Kings
Book 3: A Storm of Swords
Book 4: A Feast for Crows

Go to Amazon page (for the boxed set)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To celebrate the publishing of the fifth book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, I decided to write a feature on one of the very best fantasy works. It feels like a good excuse to share my love for A Song of Ice and Fire!

A recurrent comparison is to say that George RR Martin is the American JRR Tolkien. My humble opinion is that they share the genius but are opposite writers in so many aspects that I feel it is unfair to equate them. While the Lord of the Rings presents a surge of hope against the greatest evil and draws from ancient myths and ancient epic poems in order to create a high fantasy, heroic setting, A Song of Ice and Fire presents a study of human nature and draws from history and medieval epics tales to present an entirely different result.

The first few chapters of A Game of Thrones hint at a masterful tale. They set up an intriguing premise and deliver a solid piece of low fantasy in its own right. But as we move forward, even before we hit the middle point mark of this first volume, we know that we were wrong – A Song of Ice and Fire is so much more than another tale.