Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mihir's Thoughts: 18 Days by Grant Morrison with artwork by Mukesh Singh

18 Days was originally announced in early 2010 and was called MBX. It was Grant Morrison’s take on the great Indian Epic of Mahabharata which translates to the great Indian War. It is a story which every denizen of the Indian subcontinent is familiar with. It originally was written in Sanskrit which consists of about 100,000 verses. It’s an epic which has caused many a discussion amongst its readers as it encompasses many topics pertaining to human behavior, the interchangeability of the hero-villain title depending on the perspective and lastly what is dharma?

There are many such concepts discussed in it as well, and there's also much more in it namely huge battles and great characters among other things. Grant Morrison is a well known writer who has had various successful runs with many iconic characters so when he chose to associate himself with this project, I was super excited. The original plan was to feature it as web movie or in episode formats, on their official website. The following options are given:
- Two 90-minute movies
- Six 30-minute episodes
- Eighteen 10-minute web episodes
- A 200-minute DVD movie

It was supposed to be released sometime this spring; however spring-summer went by without any visible announcement. There was no new news about this project and currently it seems to be mired in pre-production or some problem which the creators refuse to discuss. However one great thing did come out earlier this year and that’s a hardcover book of 120 pages, featuring gorgeous artwork by Mukesh Singh, Grant Morrison’s notes, the script for the first three chapters detailing the start of the series. There are also detailed notes about the project conception, and how the collaboration took place.

And then there’s the artwork, which is described as Techno-Vedic by Morrison and I can think of adding "Incredible" to it as well. Here are some of the images below:

Rama Battling Ravana

The Pandavas ready for battle

The War Begins

Dinosaurs and Vimanas

The book 18 Days has a lot of incredible artwork and begins with a small introduction by Deepak Chopra. Then there’s the story bible wherein Grant details various aspects of the series, including geography, history, character information, weapons and basically explaining all the “Techno” and “Vedic” parts to the story. The bible is extensive detailing various facts and minutiae which are present in the story and are given a futuristic look. Then there’s the authorial script of the first three chapters which along with the art work detailing the scenes is pretty freaking AWESOME!!!

I consider myself to be an avid reader in matters of Indian mythology to be decently versed with it. In regards to Mahabharata, I’m a hardcore geek, always looking to read more about it and reading the various books written about it. So in this matter I found some mistakes in the book in regards of the characters like Jayadratha being counted as Kaurava, Dhristyadumna’s name being changed, Sahadeva being passed as the elder twin, etc. I’m willing to overlook these small mistakes for the simple fact that the creators are not recreating the Mahabhrata as the original version. But as a highly futuristic version wherein the characters are more akin to super powered versions of themselves. There’s also the addition of dinosaurs and several futuristic weaponry and flight vehicles. While the saga does mention weapons which seem a bit like the weapons mentioned here, but this version of the Mahabharata is more westernized and geared towards introducing the western world towards the awesome story that is the Mahabharata.

As a fan and person who would love to see more readers introduced to this epic, this is a huge step taken by Prospective Studio & Liquid comics and I hope we can get more soon. For all readers who have previous knowledge about this saga, should get this handbook as it’s simply too gorgeous to let go and for those with no knowledge, this would be a perfect opportunity to get yourself acquainted with it before 18 Days feature begins.

Highly highly recommended for all comic book lovers, just a reminder again this is not the compete story but acts like a handbook to the series which may or may not see the light of the day but if you are like me, seeing the ideas and artwork behind the series might just make you a convert as well.

You can find it over at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Book Depository. Lastly here’s a small teaser about this project.

Note: All images courtesy of Liquid Comics & Perspective Studios.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Guest Post & Giveaway: Underutilized goblins, demons, spirits by Carolyn Crane

Welcome Carolyn Crane, my guinea pig guest post author on the blog. So if something goes wrong, we know who to blame! Kidding, kidding...

Author of the much praised The Disillusionists Trilogy, Carolyn Crane is simply a wonderful person and one of the funnest people I've seen around. Mihir has enjoyed the first two installments in the series, Mind Games and Double Cross, so please take the time to give the series a try. Head Rush, third book in the trilogy, is due to be released soon so keep an eye out for it.

Let's get on with it and see what Carolyn has to say about goblins, demons, and spirits; and don't forget giveaway at the end of post:

Goblins, Demons & Spirits for your beautiful modern life

Hey Bastard and Mihir! Thanks so much for having me over to your awesome blog. And happy Halloween people!

So, I’m in this sort of fun period where I’m developing new writing projects. One of them requires a fair bit of research, which I have never really done, something anyone who has read my books can probably guess. I’d rather invent a thing that suits—it’s so much easier.  Which is why you get mutants and Disillusionists in my trilogy, instead of, like, demons, which, let’s be honest, you have to know a bit about demons if you’re going to have them in a story.

So, I’m working on one series now where I actually need to know about some obscure spirits and fairies and so forth. It’s a minor element, but still. Anyway, some years ago I got this awesome encyclopedia - Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins by Carol Rose. I am learning so much!

For one thing, in the old days, people blamed spirits for a lot of what went wrong.

It makes me sad we don’t have any spirits to blame stuff on. So, I’m proposing some contemporary adaptations. Because, these are perfectly good goblin and spirit-types I’m reading about here. Why are we letting them go to waste in the dusty annals of history???

One of my favorite demons is the German demon, BRUDER RAUSCH (Brother Intoxication), who enters monasteries posing as a monk, and tempts the other monks away from lives of piety and sobriety into drunkenness and wanton revelry. 

Possible contemporary usage for Bruder Rausch:
I can think of lots of uses for Bruder Rausch, can’t you?

Sample modern sentence:
“I didn’t mean to stay out at happy hour so long with my girlfriends last week…how did that happen? Who kept ordering more wine? One of those girls must have been Bruder Rausch!”

This is a spirit from Chinese folklore, a shifter that can take the shape of a member of the family, mostly to create confusion.

Possible contemporary usage for HSIEN:
Like many people, I’ll say things I regret during arguments with significant others, or make commitments I can’t fulfill - or don’t want to fulfill, or forget I said this or that.…but then again, was that me? Or was is the HSIEN? I feel that the HSIEN can translate onto the Web too. When a Hsien pretends to be you online, you can wake up to a whole world of trouble.

Used in a sentence: “Carolyn Crane would never make such a stupid and asinine blog comment (forum comment, tweet)…it must have been a HSIEN, pretending to be her!”

From the folklore of Albania, the Perit, often a lovely sprite in white, punishes people who waste bread by giving them a hunchback.

Possible contemporary usage for PERIT:
I think the modern Perit would give something less extreme for wasting bread — maybe something that alters your appearance in a less dramatic way…like, bad hair. I think the Perit is an awesome bad hair day or bad outfit excuse spirit. It would also be a face-saving way to alert your friend or wife to a bad look.

“Have you thrown out any bread lately, honey? Because your hair usually looks so perfect, but today…I think a Perit may have been here.”

From the folklore of Belgium, the Kludde appears in various forms, but one of the things it does is to jump on the back of a person outside, and the more they run and try to get it off, the heavier it becomes.

Possible contemporary usage for KLUDDE:
Hello! Exercise excuse.

“I went out for my run today, but a Kludde was on my back the whole time, so I had to come home.”

From Malaysia. A spirit that incites mayhem and discord. The Badi originally came from Adam’s blood.

Possible contemporary usage for BADI:
The Badi is a natural road rage spirit. Don’t you think we need one? I guess you could blame it on the Hsien, too, but the Badi seems more natural…it was you behind the wheel, but the Badi was in the passenger seat, sewing mayhem and discord.

“I know it was wrong to flip that guy off, and take my gun out of the glove compartment and wave it around…er…I can’t explain it! I’m pretty sure a Badi was been riding in the car with me!

This is also one of my favorites. The Mannikin are wee people who live in abandoned ruins—castles, churches. They will sometimes go to a farmhouse and steal food, but then, as payment, they will do some chore, like doing the threshing, or sweeping the place up.

Possible contemporary usage for Mannikin:
Does this behavior sound familiar to anyone? Somebody eats the entire bag of cookies or the entire wedge of cheese or the last piece of cake, and then wipes off the counter and throws out the wrappers? 

Sample exchange:
Mr. Crane: Where is the cake we were going to bring to the party?
Ms. Crane: * confused look * It’s gone?”
Mr. Crane: Yes!
Carolyn Crane: * narrows eyes * wait—was the counter all cleaned up? And the plate washed?
Mr. Crane: Yeah.
Carolyn Crane: * Shaking Mr. Crane by the shoulders* Don’t you see? That’s the sign of the Mannikin! OMG the Mannikin were in here!

It is kind of funny, in this book, how many spirits there are that lead people astray at night. Every culture seems to have several. The Keltemas comes from the Cheremis/Mari peoples of the former Soviet Republic. It preys on people walking in the dark, confusing them and getting them lost, so that, even though they may leave a place on time… the next thing they know, they are in the middle of a forest, miles away from home!

Possible contemporary usage for Keltemas:
Well, who doesn’t need a good excuse for finding themselves somewhere crazy at night?

Sample sentence:
“I didn’t intend to stay out at happy hour so long with my girlfriends last week…how did that happen? After Bruder Rausch kept ordering all that wine, I’m sure I left at a decent hour, but the next thing I knew, I was downtown dancing! Maybe the Keltemas brought me there!


Anyway, I hope this gives you some useful ideas, and helps to make things easier for you. I know my new knowledge will totally be making things easier for me!

Happy Halloween!

Bastard Giveaway: Mind Games and Double Cross by Carolyn Crane

Thanks Carolyn! That was great, and thanks for stopping by. Make sure to visit her website and her blog for more fun and information on her books.

Now for the good stuff that I know many of you are here for, the giveaway. Carolyn has been generous enough to provide one signed copy of Mind Games and Double Cross to one lucky winner, so here's your perfect opportunity to catch up on the series!

Participants have to be 18 years of age or older to participate. Void where prohibited by law. Giveaway rules are subject to change. 

The giveaway is open to anyone with a mailing address (world wide), and it will run from October 24, 2011 until 11:59pm ET on November 4, 2011.

How to participate:
  • To enter the giveaway, just place a comment in this post
  • One entry per person, or face disqualification.
  • Make sure to provide an email address to which I can contact you.
  • Winner will be chosen by random sorting entries, and then using a random number generator.
  • There will be one winner, who will get both prizes.
  • Will have to confirm email to be considered a winner within a week after November 4, 2011.

 Additional entries may be had by doing the following:
  • 3 additional entries if you suggest something you would need a goblin, demon, or spirit excuse for; ex., "I need a demon who I can blame for why my refrigerator stinks today!"
  • 2 additional entries if you share with us your plans for Halloween costume; what are you dressing up as?
  • Follow me on my blog publicly so that you appear on Google Friend Connect.
  • Follow me on twitter, @BastardBooks. Make sure to provide your twitter username in your entry.
If you do the steps above, and only by doing those steps, you'd end up with the possibility of 8 total entries:
+1 Comment Entry
+3 Suggest Excuse
+2 Halloween Costume
+1 Google Friend Connect (Mention your GFC username)
+1 Twitter Follower (Mention your twitter username)

For those who have trouble with posting comments, feel free to email me at bastardgiveaway @ gmail with all the information depicted above, and I'll manually make your comment entry for you personally.

Thanks, and good luck! And you got my permission to eat as much candy as you want.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bastard Reaction: Spellbound by Blake Charlton

Spellbound is right up there with my most entertaining novels so far this year. Blake Charlton puts the pedal to the metal from the get go, and doesn't let off until the last word is written. The book really has a bit of everything, interesting magic system, cool and fun characters, great action, some comedy, drama, romance, tragedy, horror, good dialogue and banter, etc. It's simply a fun and entertaining read from the get go, and I'm sure few will be disappointed, if any. Spellbound is the sequel to Charlton's highly praised debut, Spellwright.

Though there's always excitement about the second book in the series after a good introductory novel, particularly when it's the second book of a new author, the reality is that it often doesn't measure up to expectations. That's not the case here. It's quite evident that Charlton has become a better writer since his debut, Spellwright, and the sequel for all intents and purposes is a better novel than the first one. The prose seems more skillful and confident, and the author simply let himself loose in the world, not holding back on the limits of imagination.

As just mentioned, Charton really lets loose in this installment, and the only way I can come up to describe the book it's as an epic fantasy prosepunk. We got airships, flying kites, structures, constructs, organisms, dragons, medical tools and procedures, well the whole world really made up of some sort of prose. Which makes for some really distinct sentence structure in the narrative, which I think only a skillful writer is capable of pulling off. So in all, a very cool fun prose.

My only complaint is that it at time becomes a confusing read, the spells are a bit hard to follow often enough and I don't think it's really clear who's who, what's what as far as opposing factions go. So, towards the end of the battle when it became a bit of a free for all, I wasn't really sure who was fighting who. What cities are allies, which aren't, and all those fun political stuff. But the battle I'm particularly talking about was more of a side-plot thing which really wasn't the focus of the book, so it really didn't hamper the experience. By the end of the book though, when all is said and done I think a more clear picture of the world and the alliances are settled, so I wouldn't worry much about it. It might just be me too, being a sucky reader.

Spellbound takes place about a decade after the events of Spellwright. Our favorite characters return, though some of them at a diminished capacity. But that's not a problem, we get to introduced to a new variety of characters, in particular to our new heroine, Francesca, which might just be the best character in the series so far. Very interesting and tons of fun too.

We find ourselves in a new city where the demon Typhon has put under his control, and we got Nicodemus trying to get his emerald back to save his mentor. Deidre, being possessed by Typhon, is scheming and fighting Typhon's control by undermining his plans at the risk of being discovered. Lastly, we have Francesca, a skillful doctor who has been manipulated into killing a patient and then is left to her own devices as she learns Typhon has in mind to use her for his own nefarious plans. She's in a city where she can't trust anyone, not even an old lover recently arrived, and who might just be her only means to get out of this mess. The city is about to go into a civil war, we have all the factions, Halcyon and anti-Halcyon, making their moves in the background further complicating matters.

The novel is really about monsters, external and internal; both identifying and defining. It's about trust, acceptance, and overcoming one's limitations and disabilities. I think the acceptance of disabilities, and adapting to once disability theme was done really well. Also, with having a doctor protagonist, we're subjected to quite a few scenes of medical discussion and procedures. Blake Charlton is a doctor, so he really shows off his stuff here and it comes off quite enthusiastic and interesting.

Spellbound is another winner by Blake Charlton, and I'm highly recommending it to just about anyone. If not mistaken, the series has been marketed recently as a Young-Adult, but I think the book fits right at the boundary between YA and Adult; I recommend reading Spellwright first though. The book is a real page turner which I'm positive you won't regret reading.

Buy Spellbound in Hardcover from The Book Depository.

Make sure to visit Blake Charlton's website for more information.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bastard Reaction: Spider's Revenge by Jennifer Estep

The Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep has been one my more entertaining series in the past year, Spider's Revenge being the fifth book in the series. A book which promises to be the culmination of the arc which had begun in the first installment, so very much looked forward to by fans of the series. Gin Bianco is back, and someone is getting his throat slit.

Estep delivers once again on an action packed violent ride, my main reason for reading the series. Gin Bianco is simply a kickass character, and has a blunt narrating style very much to my liking. I like how she sees the world, and how ruthless she can be when needed. If someone is a threat, and needs to "get dead", there's no hesitation; a quick stab to the heart and a cut throat for good measure is standard practice. In Spider's Revenge we see a more vulnerable Gin, as she deals with various failures of her life and how she has to adapt to push forward to do what needs doing.

The book did contain a few elements that I thought could be a bit problematic for some readers. One is that it seems like some facts became a bit repetitive and redundant through the narrative, and also maybe a bit too much recapping of previous events. In my opinion, more trust to the reader should be granted. On the other hand, the book does grant a great opportunity for new readers to jump on the series. But, I think it could have been better balanced. Also, one has to give some allowances that many of these facts get repeated because we're inside the narrators head, we're dealing with her emotions often in this book, so it at times might become disingenuous if some of these things weren't mentioned with some regularity. It does set the right atmosphere, particularly during portions of introspection. At the same time, this is a very easy series to follow and quite straightforward in many regards. So it's all about finding the right balance. Though these issues didn't hamper my reading much, I thought they should be mentioned.

The above issues aside, still a very cool read for me. There's little down time, always on the move, and plenty of fun moments. One of my favorite things of the book is when Gin is talking with people who she has to hide her identity from for whatever reason. Though not a fan of heroes hiding their identities, I like being in Gin's POV as she feigns weakness or misleads people, just plenty of fun for me particularly with how Gin depicts the scene. Looking for more of that when possible in future installments.

As mentioned before, Spider's Revenge indeed closes the arc which began on the first book of the series. Those readers that hesitate on starting a series because they don't know when it'll finish, at least know that Spider's Revenge provides a very good stopping point as pretty much all main plot-lines get a satisfactory resolution, and we also got plenty of backstory on some of our side characters. So for all intents and purposes, after reading this book you'll feel like you've read a series to it's totality. I for one am glad that the arc is finished and not dragged longer than needed. I'm looking for a fresh start in the series, and very much looking forward to what comes next.

Spider's Revenge is another solid entry in the urban fantasy scene and the Elemental Assassin series. While not a perfect novel, it does serve it's purpose and it gave me the satisfaction read I was looking for. Violent and gritty at times, as expected from a revenge tale, it's also a book about making peace with one's self, acceptance, and sacrifice. So I recommend the book with little hesitation, it should be welcomed by new readers of the series and fans of the series alike. And at the chance that it doesn't work for you, it should at least give you a satisfactory finality and know that the book's narrative is a page turner. Regardless, I'm looking forward to more Jennifer Estep novels, including the next installment By a Thread.

Buy Spider's Revenge at The Book Depository.

Please visit Jennifer Estep's website for more information on the series and her other books, also for information on short stories, some of them free.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bastard Giveaway: The Iron Elves by Chris Evans

Here's the perfect opportunity to catch up to The Iron Elves series by Chris Evans with the next book, Ashes of a Black Frost, coming out tomorrow October 18, 2011.

Thanks to the generosity of Simon & Schuster, one lucky winner will come away with the first two books of the series, A Darkness Forged in Fire and The Light of Burning Shadows. Also, you can complete the series by entering Seak's giveaway of Ashes of a Black Frost on Only The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy blog.

Participants have to be 18 years of age or older to participate. Void where prohibited by law. Giveaway rules are subject to change. 

The giveaway is open for US mailing addresses only (sorry, but no PO Boxes), and it will run from October 17, 2011 until 11:59pm ET on October 21, 2011.

How to participate:
  • To enter the giveaway, just place a comment in this post and declare intention to participate.
  • One entry per person, or face disqualification.
  • Make sure to provide an email address to which I can contact you.
  • Entries accepted until 11:59pm ET on October 21, 2011
  • Winners will be chosen by random sorting entries, and then using a random number generator.
  • There will be one winner, who will get both prizes.
  • Will have to confirm email to be considered a winner within a week after October 21, 2011.

 Additional entries may be had by doing the following:
If you do the steps above, and only by doing those steps, you'd end up with the possibility of 3 total entries:
+1 Comment Entry
+1 Google Friend Connect (Mention your GFC username)
+1 Twitter Follower (Mention your twitter username)

Even though you don't get an additional entry, consider subscribing to my Facebook Bastard Books page.

Thanks, and good luck!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mihir's Thoughts: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall by Susan Ee is a book which is hard to fit in any specific genre corner. I was intrigued by its description and bought it of Amazon. It was described as a dark urban fantasy post-apocalyptic thriller. While that long description does manage to cover the main details, it does not gives us a clear idea about its essence.

The story opens up with a desolate city appearance and Penryn along with her crazy mother and her younger sister Paige, they slowly try to forage food while avoiding street gangs and other predators. However the biggest predators are those which travel the sky looking to kill any humans they can find. These are the heavenly angels who were thought of to be legend until six weeks ago when all of humanity saw their fury. Wave after wave of angels have attacked human cities and left desolation in their wake. Now they troll the nights looking for further things to destroy while humanity has broken down, and the pockets of humans live in terror just hoping to survive another day. The human gangs who make up the other half of the terror haven’t helped the people who are just trying to survive.

Into this scenario, a normal teenager is inserted who has to look after her physically disabled sister as well as her Mom who is to sanity as the Joker is to justice. Penryn struggles, as do other humans, however life throws her a curveball when she steps into a fight between angels, and has her sister Paige taken by one group and she is left with an angel named Raffe who has had a precious part taken away from him. Desperate to get her sister back, she forms an uneasy alliance with Raffe and thus begins their sojourn which has Raffe aiming to reclaim back his previous status quo and Penryn to rescue her sister from whatever scourge she has been taken to.

This book has a very dark premise and it does not shy away from showing the graphic sequences or violence. The world is torn asunder and the author remarkably demonstrates how the pieces have fallen. The chapters are small and end leaving the reader curious enough to turn the page. This was reminiscent of James Patterson’s earlier books and was one of the best parts about the book. The second strong front was the characterization and the strength of its primary narrative voice. Penryn is a fascinating character who has faced several ordeals previously and is still facing them with a calm mind. She however is still a teenager and is still learning about herself and her place in the world when it was turned upside down by the arrival of the angels. The relationship between Penryn and Raffe is also laid bare slowly and steadily and it was good to see where the author was taking them. The prose is also good enough to slowly peel back layers of the characters and the world and this helps the reader to acclimatize themselves in the crumbling world of the story.

The big mystery in the tale is the abduction of her sister and Penryn’s odyssey to reclaim her and also the overall mystery about the angels, their appearance, their hand in destroying humanity and their ultimate goal. This is what keeps the narrative tuned to a sharp edge as the reader is given bits and pieces here and there to form a bigger picture. The dual mystery concept on a worldly as well as a personal level keeps the reader engaged and also propels the story forward aggressively. The book cover isn’t much of a big deal in e-books however I must say Angelfall has quite an understated one and this one fits well with the overall story.

There isn’t much to complain in this book but one confounding part for me was the presence of the Mother through out the book. The Mother is shown to be quite a scary character and the author uses her like a hook in various situations however her presence or her activities are never quite properly explained. This was one big loophole for me as I could discount some of the things to plot requirement but from then on, without any reasonable justifications it seemed like a trick and one which was being used a little too much. The author will have to present an explanation for the Mother soon and hopefully it will be forthcoming in the second book.

Angelfall was quite a surprise, I don’t know whether to call it a YA read or not. But it is a book which has a reasonable amount of darkness in it and Susan’s writing skill which manages to give the reader a story which will resonate within ourselves and have us rooting for Penryn. Heartily recommended for fans of YA apocalyptic fiction and the The Hunger Games Trilogy as well the Escape From Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith.

Note: To get an idea about the book, read the first five chapters over HERE. This is Book I in the Penryn and the End of Days saga.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bastard Promotion: Ashes of a Black Frost by Chris Evans

The Iron Elves series is one that I've been very curious about, seems like a fun one. As always, time restraints have prevented me from trying the series out. With a new book, Ashes of a Black Frost, coming up soon, seems like now is the perfect opportunity to do so. Hopefully, I'll manage to catch up soon. First two books in the series are A Darkness Forged in Fire and The Light of Burning Shadows.

Of interest, don't miss out on a live chat on Twitter with hashtag #NYCC with @simonschuster & @CEvans_Author next week on October 13th. It will be from noon until 4pm EST.

Title: Ashes of a Black Frost: Book Three of the Iron Elves
By: Chris Evans
ISBN: 9781439180662
Format: HC
Price: $25.99/$29.99 CAN
On Sale: 10/18/11


Bones jutted from the sand at angles—not odd angles, though, for that would suggest that there were ways bones could protrude that made sense—and the eyes of those still living stared and saw nothing.

Amidst a scene of carnage on a desert battlefield blanketed in metallic snow, Major Konowa Swift Dragon sees his future, and it is one drenched in shadow and blood. Never mind that he has won a grand victory for the Calahrian Empire. He came here in search of his lost regiment of elves, while the Imperial Prince came looking for the treasures of a mystical library, and both ventures have failed. But Konowa knows, as do the Iron Elves—both living and dead—that another, far more important battle now looms before them. The campaign in the desert was only the latest obstacle on the twisted, darkening path leading inexorably to the Hyntaland, and the final confrontation with the dreaded Shadow Monarch.

In this third novel of musket and magic in Chris Evans's Iron Elves saga, Konowa's ultimate journey is fraught with escalating danger. A vast, black forest finds a new source of dark power, spawning creatures even more monstrous than the blood trees from which they evolve. The maniacally unstable former emissary of the Shadow Monarch hungers for revenge, leading an army of ravenous beasts bent on utterly destroying the Iron Elves. A reluctant hero, Private Alwyn Renwar, struggles to maintain his connection to this world and that of the loyalty of the shades of the dead. And in a maze of underground tunnels, Visyna Tekoy, whom Konowa counts among those he has loved and lost, fights for her life against the very elves he so desperately wants to find.

And so Konowa sets off from this Canyon of Bones, pursuing his freedom from a curse that has cast his life in darkness. For though his long, violent trek may indeed lead him to his destiny, he is ill prepared for the discovery he will make . . . with the fate of the Iron Elves, and the world, hinging on the courage of one wrathful elf.

To get caught up with the Series click here or visit

Live Twitter chat! Join @simonschuster for a Live Twitter Chat with @CEvans_Author on Thursday, October 13th from noon-4PM EST.  Hashtag #NYCC

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bastard Reaction: Ascension by Meljean Brook

Angels of Darkness is an anthology containing four novellas from the authors Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Sharon Shinn, and Meljean Brook. For review purposes, me and three friends decided to split the stories between us, so each of us reviewed one story in our respective blogs:

I've only known of Meljean Brook in passing as her books tend to be romances, something that I'm quite averse reading about. Her "Ascension" novella is no different, being of a paranormal romance nature. I was very hesitant on trying it, but I like to think of myself as open minded and willing to read books outside my comfort level, so gave it a shot and ultimately was glad I did. "Ascension" is part of The Guardian Series, and is considered part #7.5 of it.

There are two main plot aspects to this story: the first being the relationship angle between our heroes and the other being the hunt for a possible demon who has been killing vampires and influencing behavior in town. On the relationship angle we got two Guardians, former humans that upon death have been granted gifts to help protect humanity, in the process of reconciling from some events that occurred more than a hundred years ago between them. Marc and Radha, after a year or so of friendship, succumbed to the temptations of sex and they had to deal with the consequences. Further complicated because Marc has a vow of celibacy; tempers flared, trust was broken, rejections, and betrayals of friendship later, they went their separate ways until when we find ourselves at the start of the story more than a hundred years later.

On the romantic side, I'm really not one who can really have much of an opinion on it. Though a story of love all told, I think this story was one more of friendship, and how the relationship grew from there. But those issues aside, I really can't comment if the romance aspect would be something appealing to paranormal romance readers. What I can say though is that I rather enjoyed this story much more than various urban fantasy novels that are really romances in disguise. And even though romance and erotic scenes are not for me, I wasn't annoyed by them with their inclusion in the story as I often am; in all a well balanced story I thought.

What surprised me as I read the book was how procedural focused the story was in some regards, which is something I really enjoyed. We got a real investigation going on and we follow various leads. I was glad to see plenty of dialogue, something I think many urban fantasies I read lack, as they tend to be introspective. But we visited a few witnesses and persons of interest, and had some good dialogue with all of them. We also got a scene where a crime was committed, and we go through all the evidence, and deductions are made, and evidence gets processed; the whole shebang, and this was all quite appreciated. When all is said and done, we got some action scenes leading up to the conclusion.

"Ascension" was an enjoyable read for me despite the odds being against me coming away with a positive experience, and I'm glad I read it. Though I don't envision myself reading any PNR any time soon, this series has me tempted a bit, and at the very least I have a starting point if I ever feel like testing the waters. One thing that impressed me was Meljean Brook's site, which contained a very detailed page of the series including term explanations and summaries of the series through The Guardian Series Primer; something I read some of to prepare for reading the novella. I can say I liked the author's writing style, and I can honestly recommend her to fans of the sub-genre, even with my ignorance in it. I can tell that the world building in the series is a good one, and it has me quite interested. So if this novella is of any indication, I'm recommending the Angels of Darkness anthology to fans of the sub-genre.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bastard Giveaway: Den of Thieves by David Chandler

Thanks to the generosity of HarperCollins Publishers, I have the opportunity to offer two copies of Den of Thieves by David Chandler, first book in The Ancient Blades Trilogy. Second book in the series, A Thief in the Night just came out recently, and the third book, Honor Among Thieves is due out November 29, 2011.

I've been quite interested in the series personally, but haven't had a chance to have a look at it yet. I have bought the first book, so hopefully I'll have a chance of reading it soon.

Here's a description from their site:
"Born and raised in the squalid depths of the Free City of Ness, Malden became a thief by necessity. Now he must pay a fortune to join the criminal operation of Cutbill, lord of the underworld—and one does not refuse the master . . . and live.
The coronet of the Burgrave would fulfill Malden’s obligations, though it is guarded by hungry demons that would tear the soul from any interloper. But the desperate endeavor leads to a more terrible destiny, as Malden, an outlaw knight, and an ensorcelled lady must face the most terrifying evil in the land."

Participants have to be 18 years of age or older to participate. Void where prohibited by law. Giveaway rules are subject to change. 

The giveaway is open for US mailing addresses only, and it will run from October 2, 2011 until 11:59pm ET on October 6, 2011.

How to participate:
  • To enter the giveaway, just place a comment in this post and declare intention to participate.
  • One entry per person, or face disqualification.
  • Make sure to provide an email address to which I can contact you.
  • Entries accepted until 11:59pm ET on October 6, 2011
  • Winners will be chosen by random sorting entries, and then using a random number generator.
  • Limit of one prize per winner.
  • There will be two winners total.
  • Will have to confirm email to be considered a winner within a week after October 6, 2011.

Additional entries may be had by doing the following:
If you do the steps above, and only by doing those steps, you'd end up with the possibility of 3 total entries:
+1 Comment Entry
+1 Google Friend Connect (Mention your GFC username)
+1 Twitter Follower (Mention your twitter username)

Even though you don't get an additional entry, consider subscribing to my Facebook Bastard Books page.

Thanks, and good luck!

It has come to my attention that some people are having problems leaving comments. If that's the case, feel free to email me with the proper information of entry (name, GFC, and/or Twitter nicknames).