BOOK TRAVELING THURSDAY: SWORD AND SORCERY

booktravelingthursdays5Book Traveling Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Catia and Danielle.  Each week everyone picks a book related to that week’s theme, then you write a blog post explaining explain why you choose that book and spotlight all the different covers from different countries. To find out more check out about BTT go to the Goodreads group!

This week’s theme is: Sword and Sorcery! That is the theme I picked anyway.  This week was actually set aside as “Choose a book from one of your favorite genres!” week, so I decided to give a little love to S&S.

Many times I agonize over what selection to make in this meme, but this week I had no problem, because, for me, Robert E. Howard’s Conan was the only choice I could make to represent this genre.

ORIGINAL COVER

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Classic cover from around 1967.  Not my favorite cover, but it certainly captures the look and feel of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories.

FAVORITE COVERS

 

Both these covers are good ones to me (though I definitely prefer the one on the left.)  The combat scene cover really grabs your attention with the brilliant reds and the ferocious nature of our heroes fight captured up-close.  On the other hand, the black and white cover is very unique and eye-catching, depicting the mysterious, magical nature of sword and sorcery tales, especially the Hyborian Age.  Can’t go wrong with either cover in my opinion.

LEAST FAVORITE COVERS

I always tend to use the same descriptive term when explaining my least favorite covers, but I have to use it again when talking about the above four: generic.  Nothing really exciting about any of them.  Nothing unique.  They are all typical fantasy sword and sorcery covers.  Honestly, you could put any name on them, and they would immediately cease being Conan covers and become the new character.  I don’t like generic covers, so I’m lumping these four together here.

So what do you think?  Agree or disagree?

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WRAP-UP — NOVEMBER 2016

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Welcome to my monthly wrap up!  A final tip of the hat to the month behind and all the great (at least, we hope they were all great) books that have been reviewed, as well as anything else exciting that happened.

So if you’ve missed something on Bookwraiths and want to check it out without having to cycle through all the old posts, look below and click on a pic which interests you.  Hopefully, you’ll discover something which helps you on your quest to discover all the great books out there!

dotted lineBOOK REVIEWS THIS MONTH

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dark-shadowsarcanum-unboundedLEVIATHAN'S BLOOD

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song-of-the-deeplegends-of-camberthe-builders

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dotted lineSPECIAL FEATURES

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TOP TEN TUESDAYSwaiting-on-wednesday

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WAITING ON WEDNESDAY — SINS OF EMPIRE

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Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to let readers share their excitement for books coming out soon, and the novel I’m eagerly awaiting is . . .

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sins-of-empireSins of Empire by Brian McClellan

Genre: Fantasy – Flintlock

Series: Gods of Blood and Powder #1

Publisher:  Orbit (March 7, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 624 pages

An epic new fantasy series from Brian McClellan, set in the same world as his wildly popular Powder Mage trilogy.

The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place – a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of a suppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.

The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with wile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.

As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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FUNDAY MONDAY, OR THE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP ME SURVIVE THE WEEK AHEAD (NOVEMBER 28, 2016)

funday-monday

The work week begins. I quickly slip into my business suit and head back into the office to save a few innocent people. But while I try to fool myself into being excited about the grind, deep down, I’m not, so I’m going to escape dreary reality by reading some great books.

Well, the holiday week really played havoc with my reading schedule: Friends, family, travel and post-holiday stomach bug (Yeah, my family brought it home from our family get together.) took up A LOT of my time.  So, as the week after rolls around, I find myself behind yet again, trying to play catch up, and only able to commit to one new book this week.  If I tried to read anymore I know I would certainly fail.  But my new novel is a great one, which I’ve been dying to start ever since I finished book two of the series.

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dead-mans-steelDead Man’s Steel by Luke Scull

Genre: Fantasy – Grimdark

Series: The Grim Company #3

Publisher: Roc (January 3, 2017)

Author Information:Website | Twitter

Length: 448 pages

As the “gripping”* epic from the author of Sword of the Northcontinues, the Grim Company must battle a dangerous new enemy that is determined to destroy all of humanity…
 
In the City of Towers, former rebel Sasha and her comrade Davarus Cole struggle to keep the peace between the warring mages who vie for dominion. But when the White Lady sends Davarus south to the Shattered Realms to seek allies among the fallen kingdoms, he finds that his hardest battle may be one fought within. The godly essence now residing within him offers power that could be used against the Fade—but with every death that feeds It, Cole risks losing a part of himself.

An association with a Fade officer grants the Halfmage Eremul a position of privilege among Dorminia’s new masters. He witnesses firsthand the fate that awaits humanity. But with his magic pitiful in the face of the Fade’s advanced technology, the Halfmage must rely on his wits alone to save whom he can…

And in the frozen north, the legendary warrior Brodar Kayne fights a desperate battle for his people. He is running out of time: an ancient evil sealed beneath the mountains is about to break free, an evil that is older than humanity, older than the Fade, older even than the gods—and it will not stop until the entire world is drowned in blood…

Purchase the book at Amazon

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BOOK TRAVELING THURSDAY: BOOK I AM THANKFUL I READ

booktravelingthursdays5Book Traveling Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Catia and Danielle.  Each week everyone picks a book related to that week’s theme, then you write a blog post explaining explain why you choose that book and spotlight all the different covers from different countries. To find out more check out about BTT go to the Goodreads group!

This week’s theme is: Book I am thankful I read! It is Thanksgiving Day here in the USA, so it seems like a good day to reflect back on this topic.

I had a tough time narrowing this down to just one book.  I’ve been so very fortunate to find myself introduced to many amazing authors and stories since I began blogging a few years ago.  But, after a lot of reflection, my pick finally became fairly self-evident: Traitor’s Blade.

ORIGINAL COVER

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The US cover for this amazing book.  A very fitting representation of the Three Musketeers-esque feeling of the narrative.

FAVORITE COVERS

I really love both these covers.  If I have to pick my absolute favorite it would be the lone figure on the right, heading toward his fate with both his rapiers drawn.  The image just captures the essence of Falcio val Mond, whom I absolutely adore reading about.

LEAST FAVORITE COVERS

Too plain and generic for my tastes.  I suppose the one on the right is going for the Joe Abercrombie First Law look, but it does not excite me in the least.  Others may certainly disagree, and if the covers get them to buy the book and discover this amazing series, then I too love these covers for that single reason.

So what do you think?  Agree or disagree?  And to everyone who is celebrating the US holiday: Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

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DARK SHADOWS: HEIRESS OF COLLINWOOD

dark-shadowsDark Shadows: Heiress of Collinwood by                              Lara Parker

Genre: Horror – Mystery

Series: Dark Shadows #4

Publisher: Tor Books (November 8, 2016)

Author Information: Website 

Length: 320 pages

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Dark Shadows was a guilty pleasure of mine when I was growing up back in the dark ages of the 1980s. Reruns of the show always seemed to be on the tv after school and kept me glued to the couch. Hell, I even loved the 1991 remake. (Wasn’t a big fan of the 2012 movie, though I loved Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard.) So when the opportunity to revisit creepy Collinwood came along, I had to take it.

Things start off with Victoria Winters having left the 18th Century and returned to the present of 1972. Her time in the past still a vivid memory, but one which is slowly fading from her mind, as she returns to her normal life as a news reporter for a television station in Bangor, Maine. Soon, however, a letter finds her and implores her to come to Collinwood due to important business, and so Victoria finds herself drawn back into the tangled web of the Collinses.

Returning to Collinwood immediately immerses Victoria in the mysterious goings-on there: ghostly sightings, the eternal Barnabas Collins, and a neighbor, who is the twin of our heroine’s lost Peter Bradford. But most troubling of all is the disappearance of the entire Collins family! Everyone going missing, and no one knowing where they went. This fact causing a will to be triggered; a will which names Victoria as the heir to the Collinwood Estate. All she has to do to inherit: prove her identity.

To do this, Victoria determines to travel to places in her past. The orphanage where she grew up, as well as several other important locales. And, naturally, what she finds out is not what she (or readers) was expecting at all!

Like most horror/mysteries, this novel is a slow burn: it starts out slow, feeding you tidbits of information, introducing (or re-introducing) characters, then picks up toward the end, as it speeds to its stunning conclusion. Nothing wrong with that at all, especially if you (like me) enjoy the creepy world of Dark Shadows. I can, however, see many readers who will long for more excitement, more action, earlier in the narrative. But that isn’t the kind of story Lara Parker has penned, which is actually very fitting since Dark Shadows: Heiress of Collinwood reads like a logical continuation of the story line from the actual series.

Overall, this novel is a wonderful return to the world of Dark Shadows. While the setting is modern 1970s (instead of the 18th Century past which I always preferred) with characters who have definitely evolved, the atmosphere and mood of the original tv series is wonderfully captured and replicated in print form, as well as the story a fitting evolution of the ongoing tale. With that in mind, this is a must read for all Dark Shadows fans!

I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: BOOKS I WANT TO RE-READ

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Today, the guys in the Goodreads Top 5 Wednesday group have an interesting topic this week: BOOKS I WANT TO RE-READ! Even though it seems like we are all constantly chasing the next upcoming release, let’s take a trip down memory lane and talk about some books that we’d like to re-visit.

There are a handful of books/series that I generally return to or intend to get around to re-reading.  Stories I crave to experience again and again.  I might not always find the time, but I always intend to do so.  And here are my top five picks from that list.

EYE OF THE WORLD5. WHEEL OF TIME

Yeah, yeah, I always say every year I am going to re-read this series.  My fear of the enormity of this endeavor always keeps me from doing it though.  Sad thing about the whole situation is that I really want to re-read those first few books which I found among the best epic fantasy ever when I first experienced them years ago.  Plus, I’d like to know how it actually ends, since I have refused up to this point to read the latter volumes.  Maybe, 2017 will be the year I finally do it.

 

Dune-COVER4. DUNE 

My favorite scifi series every is one I will read every so often.  Naturally, my favorite novels are the first two, but I don’t hate the later stories either.  Certainly, they are not to every reader’s taste, which is only to be expected.  Last time I did a complete read through of the series was 2009, so it is definitely time to take a look at dusting off the old hard covers and opening them up again in the near future.

 

Chronicles of the Black Company3. THE CHRONICLES OF THE BLACK COMPANY

Comes as no surprise to anyone who follows me here or on Goodreads that I am a huge fan of Glen Cook’s Black Company books.  Love them all.   And I return to re-read them all every so often; the last time was in 2012.  And the great thing is I never get tired of following along behind these guys, which amazes me more than a little, since I’ve been reading these stories for most of my adult life.  Guess somethings you just never grow out of.

 

the time of the dark2. DARWATH

Another of favorite series of mine.  One I’ve been re-read every few years since I was a teenager back in the 1980s.  Certainly, my perception of the narrative has changed over the years: my focus less on the daring-do now and more on the subtle characterization and mysterious elements.  But no matter what I’m most interested in, Darwath never fails to entertain me and recapture the wonder I had when I first read it so many years ago. For those who are keeping track, my last re-read was Christmas 2013.

 

lord of the rings1. THE LORD OF THE RINGS

Tolkien’s classic fantasy trilogy is probably the book series which most inspired my love of the genre and kept me returning to its familiar embrace the most often — until the movies that is.  Since the movie trilogy ended in 2003, I’ve found myself turning to them whenever I need a hit of LoTR, which is sad because it has kept me from re-reading this magical adventure for over a decade now.  So, yes, it is time to schedule these books in for a read sometime in 2017, because 13 years is too long to go without a return to Middle-Earth.

 

So there is my top five.  What books/series do you want to re-read or find yourself consistently returning to over the years?

 

 

 

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ARCANUM UNBOUNDED: THE COSMERE COLLECTION

arcanum-unboundedArcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection by       Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Short Story Collection

Publisher: Tor Books (November 22, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 672 pages

My Rating: 5 stars

Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection is Brandon Sanderson’s first short story collection. Yes, it does an amazing job collecting every previously released Cosmere story in one beautifully illustrated volume, but this collection is more than merely a convenient compilation: It is a mesmerizing study of the Cosmere Universe itself.

What is the Cosmere Universe, you ask? Well, Brandon Sanderson has always asserted his plans to unite all his adult fantasy books into one overarching story. Each “Shardworld” portrayed in his stories as part of a group of planets bound together by a shared creation. Hints and expositions of the true nature of the cosmere subtly inserted into the individual books until they eventually burst to the forefront in later stories. But this underlying theme has never been fully explored until now.

In Arcanum Unbounded, the cosmere is the focus. Every story is organized based upon its Shardworld. There are essays and illustrations of how magic works in each one, written by Khriss, the author of the Ars Arcanum in Mr. Sanderson’s books. Much of the information espoused here new, never having been discussed or explained exactly this way before. So for fans of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere Universe, this book is more than a story collection, but rather a wealth of tantalizing tidbits which will feed their theories of Cosmere for years to come.

For those who are merely interested in the stories themselves, have no fear, because each and every one of them are amazing. They run the gamut of Brandon Sanderson’s amazing creative mind, filled with old familiar characters and introducing new faces, as well as adding further details to the worlds they inhabit.

Mistborn gets the most love here and had my favorite stories from the collection: The Eleventh Metal and Mistborn: Secret History. The former was an interesting prequel tale, which showed me a different side of Kelsier’s difficult past, and the later brings us back to Kelsier, following the events of the first Mistborn novel. Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania rounded out this trio with its homage to pulp fiction.

Next up with two entries is the World of Elantris. The Emperor’s Soul is a great standalone novella, and the fact that it’s set in the same world as Elantris gave it a little more meaning for me personally. The Hope of Elantris was fairly short, but did give a lot of background information regarding characters from Elantris itself.

White Sand was a unique look at both the graphic novel and written version of this story. Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell was a dark standalone story, set in a haunted forest and centered on revenge, much more serious and gloomy than most Sanderson faire. Sixth of the Dusk was an interesting piece dealing with the struggles of a people as they deal with the societal stresses of an industrial revolution-like change in their land.

Edgedancer seems to be the novella most people desperately wish to read however, which is easy to understand considering it comes from the ongoing Stormlight Archive. And for fans of the series, they will not be disappointed, as the magic of the world is spotlighted, as well as Sanderson doing his usual great job of characterization, weaving sadness and humor into this story of Lift.

Overall, Arcanum Unbounded is a great collection, which is definitely a must read for long-time Sanderson fans and would be thoroughly enjoyed by new readers (though I would encourage them not to read Mistborn: Secret History and The Hope of Elantris until after enjoying the novels themselves.) Filled with great stories, amazing illustrations, prefaces by Khriss, and with postscripts by the author himself, this is a story collection not to be missed.

I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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FUNDAY MONDAY, OR THE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP ME SURVIVE THE WEEK AHEAD (NOVEMBER 21, 2016)

funday-monday

The work week begins. I quickly slip into my business suit and head back into the office to save a few innocent people. But while I try to fool myself into being excited about the grind, deep down, I’m not, so I’m going to escape dreary reality by reading some great books.

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the-city-of-iceThe City of Ice by K.M. McKinley

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Gates of the World #2

Publisher: Solaris (December 27, 2016)

Length: 400 pages

An ancient city. A wondrous invention. A perilous journey.

The epic sequel to the incredible debut novel The Iron Ship.

Deep in the polar south stands a city like no other, a city built aeons ago by a civilisation mighty and wise.

The City of Ice promises the secrets of the ancients to whomever can reach it first. It may prove too little knowledge too late, for the closest approach of the Twin in 4000 years draws near, an event that has heralded terrible destruction in past ages.

As the Kressind siblings pursue their fortunes, the world stands upon the dawn of a new era, but it may yet be consumed by a darkness from the past.

Industry and magic, gods and steampower collide in the captivating sequel to The Iron Ship.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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storm-wielderStormwielder by Aaron D. Hodges

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Sword of Light #1

Publisher: Self-Published (April 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 319 pages

For five hundred years the Gods have united the Three Lands in harmony.
Now that balance has been shattered, and chaos threatens.

A town burns and flames light the night sky. Hunted and alone, seventeen year old Eric flees through the wreckage. The mob grows closer, baying for the blood of their tormentor. Guilt weighs on his soul, but he cannot stop, cannot turn back.

If he stops, they die.

For two years he has carried this curse, bringing death and destruction wherever he goes. But now there is another searching for him – one who offers salvation. His name is Alastair and he knows the true nature of the curse.

Magic.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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BOOK SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: ARCANUM UNBOUNDED

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arcanum-unboundedArcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection by       Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Short Story Collection

Publisher: Tor Books (November 22, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 672 pages

 

Brandon Sanderson’s first story collection: novellas and short stories set in the Shardworlds, the worlds of Stormlight, Mistborn, Elantris, and more.

An all-new Stormlight Archive novella will be the crown jewel of Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection, the first book of short fiction by #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson.

The collection will include eight works in all. The first seven are:
“The Hope of Elantris” (Elantris)
“The Eleventh Metal” (Mistborn)
“The Emperor’s Soul” (Elantris)
“Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania, Epsiodes 28 through 30” (Mistborn)
“Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” (Threnody)
“Sixth of Dusk” (First of the Sun)
“Mistborn: Secret History” (Mistborn)

Originally published on Tor.com and other websites, or published by the author, these wonderful tales convey the expanse of the Shardworlds and tell exciting tales of adventure Sanderson fans have come to expect, including the Hugo Award-winning novella, “The Emperor’s Soul.”

Arcanum Unbounded will also contain a currently untitled Stormlight Archive novella which will appear in this book for the first time anywhere.

sandersonAuthor Bio

BRANDON SANDERSON was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested to him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This changed when an eighth grade teacher gave him Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly.

Brandon was working on his thirteenth novel when Moshe Feder at Tor Books bought the sixth he had written. Tor has published Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy and its followup The Alloy of Law, Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, the first two in the planned ten-volume series The Stormlight Archive. He was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; 2009’s The Gathering Storm and 2010’s Towers of Midnight were followed by the final book in the series, A Memory of Light, in January 2013. Four books in his middle-grade Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series have been released in new editions by Starscape, and his novella Infinity Blade Awakening was an ebook bestseller for Epic Games accompanying their acclaimed Infinity Blade iOS video game series. Two more novellas, Legion and The Emperor’s Soul, were released by Subterranean Press and Tachyon Publications in 2012, and 2013 brought two young adult novels, The Rithmatist from Tor and Steelheart from Delacorte.

The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award six times in four years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of Kings. The Emperor’s Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella. He has appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List multiple times, with five novels hitting the #1 spot.

Currently living in Utah with his wife and children, Brandon teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.

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With thanks to the great people over at Tor Books, this giveaway is for a chance to win Brandon Sanderson’s latest, Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection. This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada. Two lucky winners will receive a copy of the novel. To enter, check out the  Rafflecopter giveaway.  The winner will be randomly selected, then be notified by email of your great victory!

UPDATE: Our giveaway has ended, and Trevor Sherman and Jordan Rose are our winners.  Congratulations, guys!  The books will be in the mail soon.

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