Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Winner! AUDIO BOOK "White Night" by Jim Butcher (read by James Marsters)

I have randomly picked a winner for the AUDIO book contest featuring "White Night" by Jim Butcher and the winner is:
Wheels209 Congrats! Thanks to everyone who entered.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Download a Copy of Brandon Sanderson's "Warbreaker" Before it's Official Release!

One of the most highly anticipated book releases of this year is Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson and you can download a copy of it HERE. Enjoy!

LOST Parody #9 - Star Trek (S2, E4)

Silly take on time travel on television...

The Continuing Giveaway Saga

Okay, I was contacted by BlogHer and I now understand how the whole giveaway-with-advertising thing works. Most of the time I can post my giveaways on the main page, but if they're over a certain monetary value I must keep them separate from the ads. What I have decided to do is set up my old review page as an exclusive giveaway page. What that means is that if you're only interested in giveaways, you can link to the new page-- Fantasy & Sci-fi Lovin' GIVEAWAYS! and you'll just get updates on the giveaways. This way I can post giveaways without worrying about any advertising conflicts. I will still post notifications of all giveaways on this page, as well as continue to keep them on my sidebar-- so you will continue to remain well notified. **Quick Note** If you go to the new page and don't see the entry you've already entered for any contests already going- such as the WoW contest- I have all entries saved. Sorry if there is any inconvenience. ~SQT

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Book Review: "Keeper of Light and Dust" by Natasha Mostert

He was on top of her now, as she lay dazed and in pain. The face, draped in black cloth, looking down at her was unnerving. He was smiling, she could tell by the way the skin puckered around his eyes. She sensed his thoughts, as clear as though he had spoken them. You die in here. You die out there. She lunged at him, trying to rip the hood off his face, but he grabbed her hand and bent her ring finger violently away from her palm and she screamed and fell back. Gently he smoothed the hair away from her forehead and then touched her face deliberately-- the eyebrows, the cheekbones, the jaw. She tried to move her head away but he still had hold of her hand and the finger twist this time was so violent she screamed again and felt the tears come to her eyes. Slowly, slowly his other hand traveled down the side of her neck. His thumb came to rest on her collarbone, his middle finger on the hollow of her throat. ~Excerpt from Keeper of Light and Dust by Natasha Mostert Mia is a Keeper, a guardian and healer who watches over a small group of martial artists. She is descended from a line of women who have guarded warriors as they go into battle, though the tradition has been mostly lost over time and Mia is one of very few Keepers who still practice their mysterious art. Keepers are masters of the use of chi and can funnel their own energy into those in their care. But someone else has developed their own, deadly version of the Keeper's art. One that steals the chi, or life force, from the chosen victim and the latest target is one of Mia's fighters. After the death of one the fighters Mia used to protect, Nick Duffy, a childhood friend of Mia's, begins to suspect foul play and starts to investigate a series of deaths involving fighters. Little does Nick know that the killer, a man who refers to himself at the Thief, has targeted Nick as his next victim-- just as Nick finally gotten the courage to act on his longstanding love of Mia. "Keeper of Light and Dust" was a very interesting book for me to read, yet also very hard to review. There's no denying that Mostert is an excellent writer. She can command the reader's interest whether the story has a lot of action or not. Mostert heavily incorporates martial arts into her story, and as anyone who has read this blog should know, I have been a martial arts practitioner since 1992, so this aspect of the story had personal interest to me. The main character, Mia, is an expert at the style of martial arts that focuses heavily on the flow and movement of katas; in slang terms this kind of fighter is referred to as a "vogue." The down-and-dirty type of fighter is called a "grunt" (which is where I would categorize myself-- in case you wanted to know). But "Keeper of Light and Dust" goes way beyond martial arts as a subject matter. Mia is a tattoo artist as well as a Keeper so we spend as much time in the tattoo parlor as the dojo. But where Mostert gets really ambitious is when she tackles the topic of chi, or the life force that animates each of us, as well as the subjects of biochronology and astral travel. Whether or not someone would like "Keeper of Light and Dust" may very well depend on what they look for in a story. If you like introspective writing that delves into more esoteric territory then you will probably love this book; likewise if you're drawn to romance. If, on the other hand, you're drawn to action and suspense, you may find the story disappointing as the excerpt at the top of this review is one of very few scenes of its kind. As I read this book I found myself doing something I rarely do-- wanting to rewrite the story to fit my vision of what it should be. Quite a conceit on my part. I believe the reason for my need to rearrange things to my own liking comes from my background in martial arts. I won't, for a second, claim to have more knowledge than Mostert. I don't. What I do have is lots of first-hand fighting experience and because of that I know that sport fighting is not generally life threatening. Sure mixed-martial arts can be fierce and can lead to some pretty serious injuries, but it is still a controlled environment and that, in my opinion, takes a lot of tension out of what could have been a very suspenseful novel. Mostert never makes it clear why Mia guards martial artists who fight for sport versus men who put their life on the line in really dangerous occupations. I kept thinking the story would have made so much more sense if Mia's charges were soldiers heading onto a real battlefield, or even men with a dangerous profession such as police officers or firefighters. Because the men are not naturally in any real danger I felt that the plot-line involving the Thief was somewhat contrived to give the story a feeling of suspense that didn't naturally exist. I also wanted more detail about how Mia guarded her men. We learn that Mia uses a form of astral travel and during that time she goes to a place called the Retreat. But we're never taken through the process in which Mia either guards or heals the fighters and the reader is left without a clear idea of what Mia's process is. We're essentially told what Mia does without ever being shown how it's done. "Keeper of Light and Dust" is at its best when it explores the more mystical topics related to the chi-- and the romantic aspects are also well done. But the premise of the book led me to expect a much higher level of tension, so for me, the story was a slight disappointment when it didn't live up to that expectation. But I hesitate to discourage readers who find the premise interesting from picking up this book because it is well written and could be very interesting to someone who is looking for something more thoughtful and less action oriented. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will go toward funding the Cooperation For Peace and Unity's "CPAU Fighting for Peace." "Fighting for Peace" is an initiative aimed at empowering Afghan women through boxing. Visit Natasha's website to learn more about her involvement in this program.

You Mean, This Time it Really is All About Me?

Believe it or not, someone actually decided to interview little ole' me. Harry, over at Temple Library Reviews has a new feature in which he interviews review bloggers. He has a pretty impressive list of reviewers lined up, and somehow I ended up there too. I'm still stumped over that one; but flattered nonetheless. If you want to check it out, click HERE and you can see the thoughts that bounce around in my head on a regular basis.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Winner! Audio Book "Proven Guilty" by Jim Butcher

I have randomly picked a winner for a copy of the AUDIO book "Proven Guilty" by Jim Butcher and the winner is-- Craig Scott (via email) Congrats Craig! Thanks to everyone who entered. If you haven't entered to win the other two audio books still up for grabs, make sure you do. I also plan on having another "pick your title" contest up soon-- so be on the lookout for that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Just For Fun

I'm so mellow I'm lazy.
Greed:Very Low
 
Gluttony:Medium
 
Wrath:Very Low
 
Sloth:Medium
 
Envy:Medium
 
Lust:Very Low
 
Pride:Very Low
 

The Seven Deadly Sins Quiz on 4degreez.com

Giveaway! "Dead and Gone" by Charlaine Harris

Oh no, I'm under the gun on the review schedule again. Oh wait. That means I only have time to post giveaways. That doesn't bother you does it? Didn't think so. Thanks, as always, to Penguin Books, I have a copy of Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris to offer for giveaway. You know you want it. Product Description Now an HBO original series, True Blood—the New York Times bestselling Sookie Stackhouse series continues. Except for Sookie Stackhouse, folks in Bon Temps, Louisiana, know little about vamps—and nothing about weres. Until now. The weres and shifters have finally decided to reveal their existence to the ordinary world. At first all goes well. Then the mutilated body of a were-panther is found near the bar where Sookie works—and she feels compelled to discover who, human or otherwise, did it. But there’s a far greater danger threatening Bon Temps. A race of unhuman beings—older, more powerful, and more secretive than vampires or werewolves—is preparing for war. And Sookie finds herself an all-too human pawn in their battle. Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin' Review HERE To enter, either leave a comment here or email me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "Gone" and I will randomly pick a winner by Wednesday May 6th. Please make sure I can reach you easily (email, blog page etc.) if I cannot reach a winner within 48 hours I will pass the book onto another entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open everywhere. Good luck!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Giveaway! AUDIO BOOK "Turn Coat" by Jim Butcher (read by James Marsters)

Okay, you lucky people, thanks again to Penguin Books I have one last AUDIO book for giveaway, which just so happens to be the newest Harry Dresden book by Jim Butcher. ~Turn Coat (read by James Marsters from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") When it comes to the magical ruling body known as the White Council, Harry keeps his nose clean and his head down. For years, the council has held a death mark over Harry's head. He's still thought of as a black sheep by some -- and a sacrificial lamb by others. But none regard him with more suspicion and disdain than Morgan, a veteran Warden with a grudge against anyone who bends the rules. Like Harry. So when Morgan turns up asking for help, Harry isn't exactly eager to leap into action. Morgan has been accused of treason against the White Council-- and there's only one final punishment for that crime. He's on the run, he wants his name cleared, and he needs someone with a knack for backing the underdog. Like Harry. Now, Harry must undercover a traitor within the Council, keep a less than agreeable Morgan under wraps, and avoid coming under scrutiny himself. And a single mistake may cost someone his head. Like Harry... Sounds good doesn't it? If you'd like to win, either leave a comment here or email me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "Turn Coat" to enter and I will randomly pick a winner by Monday May 4th. Please be sure I can reach you easily. I have had to turn down entrants before because I had no contact information (email, blog page or otherwise). If I cannot reach the winner within 48 hours I will pass the prize onto another entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open everywhere. Good luck!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book Review: Brave Men Run by Matthew Selznick

"Where the hell have you been?"
I was startled.  "I missed the bus..."
"I called the school.  Ms. Elp looked in all your usual places, and you weren't there."
"Well..."  I fought a minor panic that she'd called the school and I wasn't around, but I was also totally confused.  Why did she need to look for me in the first place?
"I'm not late, or anything..."  In fact, with Lina driving us more directly than the bus, I was a little early.
Lina leaned over and stuck her head out the passenger window.  "Hello, Mrs. Charters.  I'm Lina Porter."
My mother glanced at her, then glared at me.  "We don't have time for your friends right now.  I need you in the house."
"But..."
"Right now!"
I looked at Lina, who looked as confused as me, and a little angry.  I shrugged emphatically.  "I--I guess I have to go..."
"Can I still call you for Saturday?"
"Yes!"  I pulled a pen out of my jeans pocket, grabbed her hand, and quickly scrawled my number on her palm.  Lina beamed like it was the combination to Fort Knox.
My mother stood by the front door.  I could hear the television inside, which was another oddity for a weekday afternoon.  "Right now, Nathan!"
Lina backed her car out of the driveway and onto the street.  I could see her watching me in the rear view mirror as she drove away.
I followed my mother into the house.
"Have you heard the news?"
"About what?"
She looked at me, her mouth slightly open, and shook her head.  "That explains that."  She hustled me into the living room.  "Sit down."
I sat down  on the couch, facing the television.  She stood behind me, her hands gripping the back cushions.  There was adrenaline in her perspiration, a sharp tang to my nostrils.
On television, a middle-aged man in a business suit floated over the heads of a crowd of reporters.  In the background, the Washington Monument gleamed like bone.
--Excerpt from Brave Men Run by Matthew Selznick
Brave Men Run is an interesting take on the superhero genre.  It follows Nate Charters--an outsider with an unusual appearance and special abilities that he must keep secret--as he deals with the daily trials and tribulations of high school.  Then Dr. William Donner appears on the scene, declaring to the world that super-powered humans exist and they are demanding autonomy.  Before long, Nate finds himself caught up in a world entering the Sovereign Era and the confusion of learning the truth of where he came from and what happened to his father.
This is my first exposure to a podcast novel turned into a published one.  I've never really been into the whole podcast fiction thing.  It's not that I don't think there's value in them, it's just that I've never found them particularly interesting and some of the key players have become, in my opinion, a bit full of themselves, which really irritates me when it comes to writers.  There needs to be a lot more humility in the podcast community.
But none of this really influenced how I felt about Brave Men Run coming in.  Brave Men Run is a fairly short novel, clocking in at 227 pages (with a fairly large typeface).  The one thing that should be made clear about this novel is that it is not an action-packed superhero story.  Brave Men Run focuses on the characters, putting them first and the events happening in the world second.  This is, for me, a different approach to the genre:  I'm used to explosions and superhero battles; this novel isn't about such things, but about what these characters go through as the world around them changes.  All of this is a strength for Brave Men Run.  Selznick has managed to create a character-driven story about people with special abilities (and their friends and family).  The characters are fairly realistic and the story progresses at a pace that seems worthy of their struggles.  
I think calling Brave Men Run's vision part Stan Lee (as one of the blurbs on the back says) is misleading, because this is not a story about superheroes living daily lives.  Nate isn't a superhero, and he doesn't really want to be one either.  He has gifts, but he is not running about saving people or blowing up buildings.  I'm not sure what you'd compare it to, because I have little exposure to stories like this.  I think this goes with the territory these days:  we're seeing more novels put out there that take cliche elements and drag them into areas not usually explored.  We have vampire novels that have little to do with the popular blood-sucking renditions and now a novel about extraordinary people living normal lives.
The only problem I had with Brave Men Run was the beginning.  The first few chapters failed to grab me immediately primarily because the writing style is simplistic.  The writing isn't bad (there are some noticeable flaws), just straightforward.  The more I read, however, the more I found myself interested in the characters and what was going on.  This is a novel that grows on you, and it all has to do with the characters, who seem to become more life-like the more you read.  Selznick has put together an entertaining story, if not a little flawed.
All in all, it was a good read.  Maybe we'll see some more of Selznick in print in the future.  If you're interested in Brave Men Run, you can find it for sale at Swarm Press (or Amazon, etc.).  Matthew Selznick also has a website with plenty of other fiction you might want to check out.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Book Review: Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow

"Uncle Sam doesn't want you in uniform, but he does want you in a suit," Agent Jones told me.
"A clown suit?" I said.  "I'm supposed to tour the Pacific with the USO, cheering up the troops?  I don't do clowns, only monsters."
"That's exactly the idea," Agent Brown said.  "Uncle Sam wants you in a monster suit.  Nick and I have to decide if you're a security risk.  We're also supposed to soften you up."
"With your fists?"
"With the news that the assignment pays ten thousand dollars."
"Ten thousand?  Jeez."
"Personally, I think you should do it out of sheer bare-assed patriotism," Agent Jones said, "especially since you're so assimilated and everything."
"To tell you the truth, we were thinking of recommending your co-star Dagover, but the Navy seems to think you're the better actor," Agent Brown said.
"The Navy knows what they're talking about," I said.
--Excerpt from Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow Syms Thorley is a B-movie actor and writer renowned for his award-winning portrayals of monsters in 1940s Hollywood.  Things are going well for Thorley:  he's got the admiration of his fans, a steady work stream, and a brilliant script he and his girlfriend cooked up that could change the face of monster movies forever.  But then the government shows up asking for his help:  they need him for a top secret project to get the Japanese to surrender.  What Thorley doesn't understand is why the need him.  What good can a B-list monster movie actor do for the government?  With this question looming overhead, Thorley soon discoveries that sometimes monsters aren't only in the movies...
Morrow's novel is a short one, but it sure packs a punch.  A merger of the edginess of pulp fiction (the literary form, not the movie) and popular media drawn into reality, Shambling Towards Hiroshima sends us on what might be the ultimate top secret adventure.  This isn't a novel that wants you to take it too seriously, though; it's a novel that is aware of the absurdity of its speculative claim and is all too prepared to capitalize on that in Morrow's writing style and characters.  There is something both subtle and outrageous about the idea of the U.S. government using real-life monsters against the Japanese, particularly now that we think of Japan in terms of Godzilla jokes or production quality.
And I think this is Shambling Towards Hiroshima's strong point.  Because it didn't take itself to seriously, I was able to set aside the little parts of me that wanted to call B.S. throughout the story.  After all, this is an alternative history, of sorts, and it proposes something that is not only outlandish, but appropriately nostalgic.  It works, too, because Thorley is an interesting character surrounded by a band of comical stereotypes who constantly add conflict to the main character's secret mission.
Morrow's style is clear and precise, with just enough comedic flare to keep things interesting.  Even though Shambling Towards Hiroshima is a short novel, I found it incredibly enjoyable from start to finish, following the exploits of Thorley as he processed everything that was going on around him and attempted to put on a damn good show.  There's something fascinating in being pulled back to the "good ole days" of science fiction television and film.  From the start, I was immediately reminded on the Sci Fi Channel back when it used to run old Japanese monster movies practically on a loop.  Those were the days, and being reminded of those nostalgic moments in childhood turned this novel into more than just another read, but something I could connect to my youth.  
If you like the occasional pulp fiction novel, or even want to read about giant monsters tearing down cities and what not, then this is certainly a novel for you.  You can find it at Tachyon Publications, a small press located in San Francisco, or pretty much anywhere you can order books from.  Give it a look!

Winner! Ballistic Babes and Flaxen Femme Fatale by John Zakour and Lawrence Ganem

I have randomly picked a winner for copies of "The Flaxen Femme Fatale" and "Ballistic Babes" by John Zakour and Lawrence Ganem, and the winner is: ediFanoB Congrats! Thanks to everyone who entered. I have one more audio book coming in the next few days, so be sure to keep and eye out for that one.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Who would you cast as 'Green Lantern'?

I'm not well-versed in Green Lantern mythology but if I had my way I'd probably pick Jared Padalecki to play the title character in the upcoming movie. Padalecki already has a superhero physique and his work on Supernatural has been good training ground. There's been talk that Brian Austin Green has been gunning for the role and Ryan Gosling's name has been tossed around. And if not Padalecki, I think Austin Nichols (One Tree Hill) could be a good fit. But who would you choose and why? Green Lantern has a reported $150 million budget and will be shot in Australia with a scheduled 2010 release.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Book Review: "Dead and Gone" by Charlaine Harris

I don't request many books for review specifically, but I never miss an opportunity to read Charlaine Harris. Ever. I'm not sure what it is that draws me to her fiction, but if I had to guess I'd say it's the "voice" of her characters: Sookie Stackhouse in particular. I know I'm not the only person who has found Harris' brand of fiction to be particularly appealing. Last year HBO created a series based on Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries called True Blood, and if any of you have seen it, you've probably gone out and picked up one of Harris' books. But if you haven't, let me tell you what you're missing. Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress in a bar in Bon Temps Louisiana who just so happens to be a telepath. Not knowing where she gets her "disability" Sookie makes do as best she can, but it's not easy when you're bombarded with unwanted thoughts all day. Until, unexpectedly, a vampire walks into the bar and Sookie realizes she can't hear his thoughts. Thanks to a synthetic blood developed by the Japanese, vampires no longer need to live on human blood to survive, and that development has prompted them to come forward and announce their existence to the rest of the world. The vampires claim that their condition is the result of a virus that results in severe anemia and an allergy to garlic, but it's hardly that simple. Many vampires are still monsters who don't see humans as much more than a convenient source of nourishment. But Sookie finds herself drawn to Bill Compton, a 170+ year old vampire who becomes her first real boyfriend. Over the course of The Southern Vampire Mysteries Sookie becomes intimately involved in the world of the "supes" as she calls them, including vampires, Weres, fairies, witches and other assorted creatures. Most people aren't aware of any supernatural creatures other than vampires but there is a vast world that exists beneath the surface and Sookie, because of her unusual ability, can't seem to escape. Sookie has fallen in and out of love with a vampire and had a fling with a were-tiger. She's also been the victim of incredible violence and seen how monstrous and inhuman the supernatural world can be. The first five or six books of the series mostly took place in Bon Temps, then Sookie found herself anywhere from Dallas to New Orleans. A lot of new characters were introduced and the series seemed to be in a transitional period for awhile; not a bad thing, but the series did lose some of it's consistency. But Dead and Gone takes Sookie back to Bon Temps and in this book, the ninth in the series, it feels as if Sookie has settled back where she belongs. After observing how the public responded to the revelation that vampires exist, the Weres have decided to come out. Like the vampires, the Weres make the announcement on live television, demonstrating their abilities in real time. Predictably the reception is mixed. Some people respond with excitement and others with revulsion. But overall it seems as if the vampires have paved the way to a smooth transition. That is, until a Were is killed in a very gruesome manner in Bon Temps. Compounding Sookie's worry is the fact that her brother Jason is a recently turned Were himself. And if that wasn't enough, Sookie's great-grandfather, a literal fairy prince, is at war with a faction of anti-human fairies and Sookie has become a target. Like all of Harris' books, "Dead and Gone" is just over 300 pages. Short, sweet and action packed. And while The Southern Vampire Mysteries aren't meant to be deep, they still manage to make some firm statements about the costs of prejudice and the dangers of naïvité; lessons Sookie has learned the hard way. I won't go so far as to say "Dead and Gone" is the best book in the series, but it's the best one to come along in awhile. The last two books seemed to be looking for something but I'm not sure what. I think in a way they were necessary for the character development but the new characters never fully gelled the way the original cast of did. So this time around I really enjoyed seeing Sookie come home. But really, it isn't the action or even the supernatural elements that make the series special. It's Sookie. If you watch "True Blood" I think you'd get the same impression. Anna Paquin has really impressed me with her ability to tap into Sookie's sweet but feisty character. She's full of Southern manners and sass but most importantly she has steel core that makes her one of my favorite fictional characters. And that's saying something. I don't know that this series would appeal to everyone the same way it has to me. But I do know that there are a lot of people who have really enjoyed authors like Patricia Briggs, Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison, and if you're one of those people, you have to pick up Harris. If you like Mercy Thompson or Elena Michaels-- you'll love Sookie Stackhouse.

Giveaway! AUDIO BOOK "White Night" by Jim Butcher (Read by James Marsters)

Thanks to Penguin Books I have another great audio book to offer for giveaway-- also read by James Marsters (Spike from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). ~White Night by Jim Butcher Someone is targeting Chicago's magic practitioners, the members of the supernatural underclass who don't possess enough power to become full-fledged wizards. Some have vanished. Other appear to be victims of suicide. But now the culprit has left a calling card at one of the crime scenes-- a message for Harry Dresden. Harry sets out to find the killer, but his investigation turns up evidence pointing to the one suspect he cannot possibly believe is guilty: his half brother, Thomas. To clear his brother's name, Harry rushes into a supernatural power struggle that renders him outnumbered, outclassed, and dangerously susceptible to temptation. And Harry knows if he screws this one up, people will die-- and one of them will be his brother. To enter, either leave a comment here or email me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "White Night." Make sure I can reach you easily. I have turned down entrants because I couldn't find any method of contact (email, blog page or otherwise) I need to be able to notify you somehow-- so please make sure that's available to me. If I cannot reach a winner within 48 hours I will pass the book on to another entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified. I will randomly pick a winner by Wednesday April 29th. Open everywhere. Good luck!

"The Ninth Avatar" by Todd Newton

Today’s book shout out and announcement is a slightly different than the ones I have done over the nearly a year of doing the reviewer gig. I am for the first time to announce the release of a self-published novel, something you probably have sensed, seeing the cover is not your usual glossy big publisher production. Also please don’t run from this post as if it will transmit some sort of brain disease. There has been a lot of bias and disdainful attitude towards self published books, which in its roots is understandable and I can relate to. I have the burnt fingers as proof of that, but before we condemn all self published books as crap and waste of money, let us remind ourselves that not every book published the traditional way has contributed to the excellence of literature and that gems can be found anywhere, plus self publishing has come to stay, so we might as hell give it a chance. Small rant aside I shall now present “The Ninth Avatar” by Todd Newton.
“The Ninth Avatar”, Todd Newton's debut novel, is an epic fantasy about Starka, an incest-accused outcast girl who receives a disturbing prophecy. She seeks the courage to become the leader of her entire faith while those she meets along the way battle to save the world. As the girl travels through warring nations, Starka meets sorcerers and warriors alike who aid her in the fight against the evil Carrion and their leader.
The book is available to purchase through CreateSpace.com and on Amazon.com. A free podcast version will also be release via Podiobooks.com in the coming weeks. You can email the author (initialdraft@gmail.com) to inquire about a signed copy with free shipping!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Giveaway! Win One of 5 Copies of the Book "World of Warcraft: Arthas: Rise of the Lich King"

Thanks to Simon & Schuster, and Sneak Attack Media, I have 5 Copies of the book World of Warcraft: Arthas: Rise of the Lich King for some lucky winners. (U.S. and Canadian entries only) Frostmourne. It was caught in a hovering, jagged chunk of ice, the runes that ran the length of its blade glowing a cool blue. Below it was a dais of some sort, standing on a large gently raised mound that was covered in a dusting of snow. A soft light, coming from somewhere high above where the cavern was open to daylight, shone down on the runeblade. The icy prison hid some details of the sword's shape and form, exaggerated others. It was revealed and concealed at the same time, and all the more tempting, like a new lover imperfectly glimpsed through a gauzy curtain. Arthas knew the blade -- it was the selfsame sword he had seen in his dream when he first arrived. The sword that had not killed Invincible, but that had brought him back healed and healthy. He'd thought it a good omen then, but now he knew it was a true sign. This was what he had come to find. This sword would change everything. Arthas stared raptly at it, his hands almost physically aching to grasp it, his fingers to wrap themselves around the hilt, his arms to feel the weapon swinging smoothly in the blow that would end Mal'Ganis, end the torment he had visited upon the people of Lordaeron, end this lust for revenge. Drawn, he stepped forward. The uncanny elemental spirit drew its icy sword. "Turn away, before it is too late," it intoned. * * * His evil is legend. Lord of the undead Scourge, wielder of the runeblade Frostmourne, and enemy of the free peoples of Azeroth. The Lich King is an entity of incalculable power and unparalleled malice -- his icy soul utterly consumed by his plans to destroy all life on the... WORLD OF WARCRAFT But it was not always so. Long before his soul was fused with that of the orc shaman Ner'zhul, the Lich King was Arthas Menethil, crown prince of Lordaeron and faithful paladin of the Silver Hand. When a plague of undeath threatened all that he loved, Arthas was driven to pursue an ill-fated quest for a runeblade powerful enough to save his homeland. Yet the object of his search would exact a heavy price from its new master, beginning a horrifying descent into damnation. Arthas's path would lead him through the arctic northern wastes toward the Frozen Throne, where he would face, at long last, the darkest of destinies. Go HERE for an extended excerpt from the book. You can also find Arthas: Rise of the Lich King on My Space and Facebook You can also click HERE to get newsletters and updates from Simon & Schuster So, for all you WoW fans out there, and you know who you are, you can sign up to win a copy of "World of Warcraft: Arthas: Rise of the Lich King" by Christie Golden either by leaving a comment here or emailing me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "Arthas" and I will randomly pick the winner by Tuesday May 5th. Please make sure I can reach you easily. I have had to turn down entrants in the past due to lack of contact information (no email, blog page, profile or otherwise). If I cannot reach a winner within 48 hours I will pass the prize onto another entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open in the U.S. and Canada only. Good luck!

New Urban Fantasy Trilogy

“BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER” ACTRESS AMBER BENSON LAUNCHES URBAN FANTASY TRILOGY FIRST BOOK IN THE TRILOGY: DEATH’S DAUGHTER AVAILABLE NOW FOLLOWS BENSON’S ACCLAIMED GHOSTS OF ALBION SERIES
“A fabulously entertaining combination of Victorian conventions, sensuous undertones, and some seriously evil magic.”—New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris, on Ghosts of Albion: Accursed Amber Benson, who earned a large following for her popular role as Tara Maclay on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” has launched a new trilogy of urban fantasy novels. The first book in the trilogy, Death’s Daughter, was recently released via Penguin Books and arrives on the heels of Benson’s acclaimed Ghosts of Albion series, which she co-wrote with Christopher Golden, successful author of the Hellboy novels. Kirkus Reviews calls Ghosts of Albion: Accursed, “all one can ask for in a dark night’s reading,” while Library Journal praises Ghosts of Albion: Witchery as “Equal doses of dark humor and genuine horror.” Benson’s new novel introduces Calliope Reaper-Jones, a normal girl, who also happens to be Death’s daughter. Details on the next two novels in the series are forthcoming. Death’s Daughter tells the story of Calliope Reaper-Jones, a girl torn between an immortal life helping her father run Death, Inc., and a normal human existence. When Callie chooses to leave the family business behind and pursue a career in fashion, she finds herself in a dead end job, relegated to a life of perpetual stasis. That is, until someone kidnaps her father, the CEO of Death, Inc., as well as Callie’s older sister Thalia. Now it’s up to Callie to find her father and sister, while trying to keep the business running smoothly. If she fails, Callie dooms her family to morality and allows the Devil to choose the new head of Death, Inc. Of the book, Benson says, “Death’s Daughter is my take on the classic Hero’s Journey, but told from the female perspective. I tried to create a flawed, female protagonist who––even though she makes some really selfish choices during the course of the book––still makes the reader root for her to learn and grow from her experiences.” Prior to the Calliope Reaper-Jones trilogy, Benson co-wrote and directed the animated web-series, Ghosts of Albion, (with Christopher Golden) for the BBC, then novelized the series in two books for Random House. As an actress, Benson spent three seasons as Tara Maclay on the cult show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” She has also written, produced and directed three feature films, including her latest, Drones, which she co-directed with Adam Busch (Warren Meers on “Buffy”) and will be released later this year. Following the publication of Death’s Daughter, Benson’s children’s book for Simon and Schuster, The New Newbridge Academy, will be released in late 2009.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Stars of New Star Trek Movie Show Film and Visit Troops in Kuwait

This alone is enough to persuade me to pay the the price of tickets to see this in the theatre-- not that I wasn't going to anyway. But still. ~TrekMovie.com JJ Abrams Star Trek promotional tour took a side-step from the red carpet gala premieres and press events, to stop in Kuwait and give some lucky US service people an early look at the Star Trek movie. We have pictures and details from the event, plus some more Tidbits, including Pine in Vanity Fair, interviews with Cho and Urban and more. Star Trek world tour in Kuwait Today JJ Abrams and his actors from the new Star Trek movie stopped at Camp Arijan in Kuwait to show the film to a group of US service members. According to a report issued by the US Army, actors Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, John Cho and Eric Bana along with executive producer Bryan Burk and director/producer J.J. Abrams presented the film to the service members. JJ Abrams is quoted as saying: "It struck us that there was an opportunity to not just have it be about the movie, but to have it be about something that’s more important than all that stuff … It’s an honor to come here to say hi and shake hands with the people who protect us" For more on this story, and more pics, go HERE.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Muppets vs. Zombies

Credit goes to SF Signal for finding this little gem. As with any zombie-themed post, I dedicate this to Steve.

Keira Knightley to Star in Sci-Fi Film

Long ago she was the splitting image of Natalie Portman in Star Wars: Episode I. Now, she'll be playing a clone (or just dealing with them) in an upcoming sci-fi thriller, Never Let Me Go, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Who else is excited about this pairing?

Falling Out

After leaving Megatron, that town built around the undetonated nuclear bomb, I headed for downtown D.C. Not much was left of the old city. The Washington Monument still stood (a miracle, if you ask me) and so did parts of some of the old museums. But travel there was dangerous thanks to the presence of super-mutants and the disgusting centaurs who are their watch dogs. Still, I had to find the broadcasting center and speak to Three Dog, that voice of freedom. If anyone would know where my father was, it was him. Yeah. I'm a nerd. And nothing makes one nerdier than role play games. I should have written about this game a long time ago; it's been out since late last year, but better late than never. What game am I talking about? My XBOX360 version of FALLOUT 3. Put out by Bethesda, the same people who gave us the incredible Morrowind: Oblivion, Fallout is a sci-fan's dream, if that sci-fi fan dreams of playing in an post-apocalyptic world where mutants and raiders make traveling cross country a suicidal romp. Fallout 3 isn't just a gorgeous game, it's an addictive and immersive game. It's the sort of game you jump into and don't return from for a long time. "Okay, just a few more kills and I'll quit. After I first barter for more ammunition, that is. Then, I'll quit. Maybe. Okay, a few more kills, and then just a trip to the clinic and I'll quit." Warcraft is addictive, but Warcraft, for all its freedom, lacks the pure story that is the genius of Fallout. As a young survivor in search of your father, a scientist seeking to save humanity from itself, you start cheering for each hard-fought victory, for each raider downed, for each green skinned mutant killed. And as you become more powerful, you discover that someone has sent mercenaries after you. Someone with a nefarious scheme of his own. This is a deep game. Very deep. And just in case you start to think you might finish it and restart your life outside the cyber world, XBOX LIVE has two downloads for you; additional scenarios. One a battle for Alaska (I wonder what Sarah's mutated into) and the other a battle for Pittsburgh. Come on...this is the sort of stuff that makes me want to erect a statue to John Agar.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Winner! Corambis by Sarah Monette

Wow! This series must be gooood. I haven't had a chance to read the first two books but I may have to make time. I got a lot of entries for this one. Unfortunately I could only pick one, so thanks to random.org I was able to choose an entrant for a copy of "Corambis" and the winner is-- Karen Oland Congrats Karen! Thanks to everyone who entered. I got more good stuff coming up. Some audio books and series titles that I plan on giving away together. So keep an eye out!

New Series Review: KRÖD MÄNDOON AND THE FLAMING SWORD OF FIRE

In the best tradition of Mel Brooks and "Spaceballs," Comedy Central has developed a screw-ball comedy just for us fantasy fans. Premiering April 9th at 10:00 p.m., Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire takes us to "the time of the long ago past" as we follow the adventures of Krod Mandoon (Sean Maguire) and his inept band of heroes as they take on the evil Chancellor Dongalor (Matt Lucas). In the season premier Krod (the son of a blacksmith and a stay-at-home mom) is on a mission to save his mentor, the great General Arcadius. Helping him are his band of trusty, but not so skilled warriors: Krod's girlfriend Aneka (India de Beaufort) a beautiful Pagan whose weapon is sex; Zezelryck (Kevin Hart), the magician whose only magic trick is his fast talking; Loquasto (Steve Speirs), the half-man/half-swine servant; and Bruce (Marques Ray) an unexpected addition to the group due to his, uh, relationship with General Arcadius. Narrated by Chris Parnell ("30 Rock"), Krod Mandoon is kind of a slap-stick version of "Hercules," with fast dialogue and asides reminiscent of Monty Python movies. Krod is well meaning but slightly sensitive, as demonstrated when an assassin reads a passage from Krod's journal.. what I miss more than the sex is the cuddling..., so Aneka's promiscuity tends to be an issue. His band of warriors is just as likely to hurt his cause as help-- as Krod learns when he is repeatedly hit by arrows shot from Loquasto's crossbow. The gags are over-the-top and sometimes predictable but they're still funny. When Krod urges Aneka to go to the nearest town and get some underwear, you can't help but laugh. When Dongalor is interviewing prospective assassins and exclaims, I love everything about him! He has flair, panache, even brio! Which almost no one has anymore! it's silly in a good way. I liked Krod Mandoon and I've noticed the show is getting pretty good reviews around the net, with Slice of SciFi and SF Signal giving the show lots of love. Reuters came back with a negative review, which shocked me because they had good things to say about "Reno 911," and frankly, I think Krod is funnier. At the very least Krod keeps to an ongoing storyline and I appreciated that. It's not just prat-falls and double entendres. It is, however, heavy on the sexual content, so watch after the kids are in bed. I suggest you take a look at the preview here and check it out. It's good fun and I'm going to go ahead and set my Tivo for a season pass. I'm optimistic like that.
Krod MandoonThursdays 10p / 9c
Krod Mandoon Series Preview
comedycentral.com
Matt LucasKevin HartSean Mcguire

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Giveaway! AUDIO BOOK Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher (read by James Marsters)

Penguin Books continues to be the BEST when it comes to supplying me with awesome items for giveaway. This time they have provided me with audio books from the Dresden Files collection by Jim Butcher. Because this is a particularly good prize I'm going to parcel them out so more people have a chance to get one of these babies. This week I'm offering Proven Guilty, narrated by James Marsters (Spike from "Buffy" fame). This one is so new I can't even find a picture of the audio book online... (Hence my clumsy editing) Book Description: There's no love lost between Harry Dresden, the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, and the White Council of Wizards, who find him brash and undisciplined. But war with the vampires has thinned their ranks, so the Council has drafted Harry as a Warden and assigned him to look into rumors of black magic in the Windy City. As Harry adjusts to his new role, another problem arrives in the form of the tattooed and pierced daughter of an old friend, all grown-up and already in trouble. Her boyfriend is the only suspect in what looks like a supernatural assault straight out of a horror film. Malevolent entities that feed on fear are loose in Chicago, but it's all in a day's work for a wizard, his faithful dog, and talking skull named Bob... I'm not supposed to feature this on my front page per-Blogher rules. But I'm going to leave this up prominently for at least one day-- I want you all to know this one is here. So, to enter, either leave a comment here or email me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "Guilty." Make sure I can reach you easily. I have turned down entrants because I couldn't find any method of contact (email, blog page or otherwise) I need to be able to notify you somehow-- so make sure that's available to me or I will make these email-only contests. If I cannot reach a winner within 48 hours I will pass the book on to another entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified. I will randomly pick a winner by Wednesday April 22nd. Open everywhere. Good luck!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Winner! Prophets by S. Andrew Swann

I have randomly picked a an entrant to receive a copy of "Prophets" by S. Andrew Swann and the winner is. Pissenlit Congrats! Also, a quick heads up. I have some audio books coming soon [today most likely] for giveaway, so keep an eye out!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Bedtime Stories: Never Let a Child's Imagination Go to Waste

Adam Sandler is a strange guy when it comes to making movies. He's not everyone's taste, understandably, but when he focuses on the sweeter side of his characters, you can get some pretty good movies out of him. As someone who grew up in the 80's, I could totally relate to "The Wedding Singer," and "50 First Dates" makes me feel good every time I watch it. Sandler frequently has misfires, like the dreadful "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," or the slightly less horrible "Mr. Deeds." But knowing that he can make an enjoyable movie like "Big Daddy" can still make me pick up his latest DVD. Sandler's latest outing is "Bedtime Stories," a PG rated movie innocuous enough to watch with your kids [which I did]. Sandler plays Skeeter, a hotel maintenance man who works at the hotel he once had dreams of running. He's a lovable, shlumpy guy who is mostly underrated by everyone who knows him but he's given a chance to prove himself after he is asked to babysit his niece and nephew for six days. Not knowing what to do to entertain the kids (there's no television at their house!) Skeeter goes back to his favorite childhood tradition and starts telling the kids bedtime stories. Before long Skeeter begins to realize that elements from the stories start to come true in real life-- though only the parts that are contributed by the kids. Thanks to his nighttime storytelling Skeeter ends up with the opportunity fulfill his lifelong dream to run the hotel if he can come up with a better hotel theme than his rival Kendall (Guy Pearce). So he goes back each night to tell the kids a new story and tries to guide their imaginations in a way that's favorable to his situation. Like a lot of Sandler movies "Bedtime Stories" is an ensemble comedy with game performances by the supporting cast including Pearce, Russell Brand, Keri Russell and Lucy Lawless. The kids are adorable, though often upstaged by a computer-enhanced guinea pig named Bugsy. But the best moments come from the goofiness that comes out of the stories the kids tell. Nothing ends up quite as expected and getting kicked by a midget is the least of the odd things that happen to Skeeter. The movie is it's best when it reminds us how important imagination is to a kid, and that sometimes Saturday morning cartoons and s'mores are as important to a child's well being as knowing that someone loves you. "Bedtime Stories" isn't Sandler's best movie, though it features a pretty terrific supporting cast (Guy Pearce proves he can do comedy every bit as well as drama). The comedy isn't quite as sharp as I've come to expect from Sandler and while he and Russell are cute together, they don't have the same chemistry as Sandler does with Drew Barrymore. I would also have liked to see more elements from the stories bleed into real life and maybe even create more outrageous situations than what did show up on screen. Nonetheless it's still good for quite a few laughs and my kids really enjoyed it. With all the bland kid's movies I've had to sit through for the last year [at least] I enjoyed "Bedtime Stories" and appreciated that it could keep all of us entertained for an evening. My family gives this one a thumbs up.

New Star Trek Trailer

Friday, April 03, 2009

Quick Note About Giveaways

Hello all..;) I just found out that if I put Blogher ads on my blog, I'm not supposed to have giveaways on the same page. Apparently it's considered competing advertising. *Shrug* My understanding is that Blogher is fairly strict about this because it's an understanding they have with their advertisers and they don't want to upset their paying sponsors-- understandably. So, out of respect to Blogher, and a hope that the advertising will eventually cover my shipping costs, I am going to change the way I put up my giveaways-- though it shouldn't be an issue for you, the reader. What I will do is post the giveaways but date them so they show up either way down my blog page [which I think should be okay by Blogher rules] or on another page. I will put a notification post at the top of the page--which shouldn't violate any agreements-- with a link to the giveaway. As usual I will also list the giveaway on my left sidebar with a picture link. I hope this works. My current giveaways are Flaxen Femme Fatale & Ballistic Babes by John Zakour and Lawrence Ganem Corambis by Sarah Monette and Prophets by S. Andrew Swann I hope this doesn't confuse anyone. I will do everything I can to make sure giveaways are well publicized as they are posted. Thanks! SQT