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Saturday, August 1, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Win a Copy of The Unnoticeables by Robert Brockway





Fantasy Book Critic is celebrating the recent release of The Unnoticeables by Robert Brockway by offering a giveaway of this new fantasy/horror book! We have three copies to give away to three lucky winners!

If you haven't stopped by to see Robert Brockway's guest blog post last week at Fantasy Book Critic, you can do so by clicking here!

About The Unnoticeables

 There are angels, and they are not beneficent or loving. But they do watch over us. They watch our lives unfold, analyzing us for repeating patterns and redundancies. When they find them, the angels simplify those patterns, they remove the redundancies, and the problem that is you gets solved.

Carey doesn’t much like that idea. As a punk living in New York City, 1977, Carey is sick and tired of watching the strange kids with the unnoticeable faces abduct his friends. He doesn’t care about the rumors of tarmonsters in the sewers, or unkillable psychopaths invading the punk scene—all he wants is drink cheap beer and dispense asskickings.

Kaitlyn isn’t sure what she’s doing with her life. She came to Hollywood in 2013 to be a stunt woman, but last night a former teen heartthrob tried to eat her, her best friend has just gone missing, and there’s an angel outside her apartment.

Whatever she plans on doing with her life, it should probably happen in the few remaining minutes she has left of it.

There are angels. There are demons. They are the same thing. It’s up to Carey and Kaitlyn to stop them. The survival of the human race is in their hands.

We are, all of us, well and truly screwed.

******************************************************

Rules for Entry into the Giveaway


  1.  This giveaway is open to US and Canada addresses only. 
  2. Three winners will be chosen at random. 
  3. Contest starts August 1, 2015 at midnight PST and runs until August 8, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. PST.
  4. To enter please send an email with the subject UNNOTICEABLES to FBCgiveaway@gmail.com. Please include your name and address.
  5. Only one entry per person! Duplicate entries will be deleted.
  6. All entries will be deleted upon completion of the giveaway.
  7. Winners will be notified via email.
Thursday, July 30, 2015

"Book Scavenger" by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)


Visit Jennifer Chambliss Bertman's Website Here



OVERVIEW: A hidden book. A found cipher. A game begins . . . .

Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold's attackers make them their next target.
 

FORMAT: Book Scavenger is a children's novel. It has mystery, adventure, friendship, and a scavenger hunt with clues and codes to break. It is very similar to Westing Game and Egypt Game, but a modern literary version of it. 

Book Scavenger is part of a proposed series of books, but it can be read on its own. 

Book Scavenger was published on June 2, 2015 by Henry Holt and Company.

ANALYSIS: What if there was a worldwide scavenger hunt that involved all your favorite novels? Think of it. You take a favorite book of yours, read it, review it, and then go out into the world and hide it. Once hidden, other book lovers will hunt for your book (and thousands of other books hidden in the wild) using clues and codes you left on the website. It is like allowing your favorite books to go 'into the wild' where other readers can find them, read them, and enjoy them.

The above scene is exactly what happens in Jennifer Chambliss Bertman's newest novel Book Scavenger. Emily, a 12 year old book lover and avid player of the book hunt game Book Scavenger who has moved around from state to state, finds herself in the middle of a mysterious, yet epic book-themed scavenger hunt. She truly believes that Garrison Griswold, a Willy Wonka version for the literary world, has created this epic version in an effort to help someone win the ultimate prize.

Unfortunately, Griswold was attacked and lies in a coma in the hospital. Could his attack have something to do with this new game or is it unrelated? Emily embarks on a quest, along with her new friend James, to unravel the clues that are found in this epic game. But time is running out, as it appears other, stronger and dangerous individuals are after the same clues and want to get to the big prize before Emily does.

Book Scavenger is one of the best books I've read in 2015. It is the perfect blend of The Westing Game and The Egypt Game, but for book lovers and those that love to crack codes and mysteries. I view Book Scavenger as a modern version of these books, but with its own twists and turns.

I loved that while the actual game of Book Scavenger was played online, the majority of the book relied on good old fashioned thinking/team work. Many modern books try to shove the technological aspect in your face and go overboard. But Book Scavenger has the perfect blend of modern technology and adventure/clue scavenging. It is this ability to not rely on technology (and some of the other aspects, such as timeless plot and great characters) that gives this book the potential to be a timeless classic.

Book Scavenger has everything that a reader could love. There is humor, a solid friendship between children, family bonds, mystery, and codes to crack. Readers will love playing along with Emily as she searches throughout the city to find the ultimate prize. The writing is tight and well thought out, the characters enjoyable, and there are just enough literary references to satisfy readers of all ages. Even though it is a children's novel, it really appeals to everyone's inner child.

Book Scavenger is one of my 2015 reads. I could read it over and over again. The only problem I have is I really wish Book Scavenger was a real thing and people all over would take part. Maybe someday!
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

One Good Dragon Deserves Another by Rachel Aaron (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Website  
Pre-order “One Good Dragon Deserves AnotherHERE
Read the first three chapters HERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Nice Dragons Finish Last"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "The Spirit Thief
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Rebellion” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Eater” & “Spirit’s Oath” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit War” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Spirit's End"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Fortune's Pawn"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Honor's Knight"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Heaven's Queen"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Eli Monpress series completion interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Bach

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rachel Aaron lives in Athens, Georgia with her family. She has graduated from University of Georgia with a B.A. in English Literature. She has been an avid reader since her childhood and now has an ever-growing collection to show for it. She loves gaming, Manga comics & reality TV police shows. She also posts regularly on her blog about publishing, books and several other intriguing things.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: After barely escaping the machinations of his terrifying mother, two all knowing seers, and countless bloodthirsty siblings, the last thing Julius wants to see is another dragon. Unfortunately for him, the only thing more dangerous than being a useless Heartstriker is being a useful one, and now that he’s got an in with the Three Sisters, Julius has become a key pawn in Bethesda the Heartstriker’s gamble to put her clan on top.

Refusal to play along with his mother’s plans means death, but there’s more going on than even Bethesda knows, and with Estella back in the game with a vengeance, Heartstriker futures disappearing, and Algonquin’s dragon hunter closing in, the stakes are higher than even a seer can calculate. But when his most powerful family members start dropping like flies, it falls to Julius to defend the clan that never respected him and prove that, sometimes, the world’s worst dragon is the best one to have on your side.

CLASSIFICATION: The Heartstriker series is an action-packed urban fantasy series with a strong dose of comedy, post-apocalyptic SF themes and dragons.

FORMAT/INFO: One Good Dragon Deserves Another is 463 pages long divided over twenty-one numbered chapters with a prologue and an epilogue. Narration is in the third person via Julius Heartstriker, Chelsie Heartstriker, Marci Novalli, Justin Heartstriker, Estella the Northern Star, and Bob “Brohomir” Heartstriker. This is the second volume of the Heartstriker series.

August 1, 2015 will mark the e-book publication of One Good Dragon Deserves Another and it will be self-published by the author. Cover art and design is by Anna Steinbauer.

ANALYSIS: Ever since I got my hands on The Spirit Thief, the debut book by Rachel Aaron, I’ve been enchanted by the worlds she imagines and the characters that inhabit them. When she announced this new series, I was very much looking forward to it with a lot of curiosity. After reading Nice Dragons Finish Last, I was thrilled to bits with the new series.

One Good Dragon Deserves Another or OGDDA as the abbreviation goes is the brilliant follow up to Nice Dragons Finish Last (NDFL). It's a cracker of a sequel that basically starts within a month of the climax of NDFL and basically widens up the world, and story in every way possible. I’ll be discussing some plot points of the story which will be spoiler-ish so please be forewarned of it.

The plot opens up with Julius and Marci happily forming a partnership and being able to do their job as curse-removal specialists. The problem arises when Bethesda returns to the DFZ and grabs Julius to go with her to a special meeting. Which turns out to be the upcoming nuptials (of sorts) of Ivan Heartstriker and Svena White Witch of the Three sisters. While this happy event is a very perfunctory one, it turns out Bob being a seer has invited a special dragon to this ceremony. That dragon being Amelia, who is the only surviving member of the A clutch and a mighty dragon in herself. While Julius is unaware of who she is, he does get to know her and is bemused by her interest in him.

Things however take a horrible turn when Estella, the oldest daughter of the Three sisters returns and hatches a plan to defeat Bob at his seer game. It will be up to Julius, Marci, Bob and the rest to help the Hearstriker clan survive the coming onslaught while also trying to survive Algonquin’s hunter who has a special interest in killing dragons.

This book in a word was magnificent and here's why:
a) It gives us the whole backstory about the dragons and why there seems to be so much infighting among dragon clans
b) Why Algonquin the lady of the lakes and other spirits hate the dragons so much
c) How does mankind fit into the magic equation

All of the above and much more is laid bare for the reader and the author truly gives us two protagonists to root for. This time Julius shares the spotlight with Marci who is frankly fantastic as a protagonist. The previous book focused on Julius and while it was a fun read. With OGDDA, Marci takes center stage and we get a stronger, multi-faceted story. The book’s cover kind of highlights this new shift and Marci also learns so much more from her association with Ghost. How and when this happens, is possibly the most surprising twist and only the second most shocking part of the story.

The story also focuses on Bob, Justin, Chelsie, Ghost and couple of other major characters. The character cast is suitably widened and I loved this aspect of the story-line. Bob, I believe is a character that is such a hit and in this volume, we get to know more about him and his powers. This just made me love Bob more even when he’s at his most infuriating. There’s also a strong light shined on Chelsie who has so far remained in the shadows and we kind of get an inkling why that is. Lastly the plot reveals the magical history of the world as well as the backstory of the Dragons. This revelation makes so much sense from a world-building point of view and has me intrigued for further exploration.

The story takes a suitable dark turn within a few pages of its start and Rachel Aaron does keep the tension evenly strung throughout the story. This book very much reads like a Jeffrey Deaver thriller wherein the entire plot unfolds over two to three days and the twists come left, right & center. This book possibly is the most twisted story-line that Rachel has written so far (among the 10 fiction books she has written so far). I couldn’t quite keep with all the happenings as there’s a seer battle going on as one of them reiterates “you can never be too sure with a seer”. The story unfolds at a wicked pace and the readers will be racing along to find what truly is happening.

Lastly while the book ends on a very surprising note, it’s the epilogue that’s the real stunner and I mean it. After all the twists and revelations that the main plot has in it, the last few paragraphs of the epilogue reveal so much more and further deepen the world and magic system so to speak. After finishing the book, I can only imagine the amount of email that Rachel will be getting about the epilogue.

As for any drawbacks, this story is definitely not a standalone; one cannot just jump into it. It needs to be read after Nice Dragons Finish Last, so that’s the only point I can think which detracts from this sumptuous thriller. On all other fronts, it aces its characterization, plot twists, plot pace, etc.

CONCLUSION: One Good Dragon Deserves Another is a first rate sequel that completely outshines its predecessor in every department. It reads like a thriller, is a urban fantasy, Sci-fi mashup in its plot and is a fantastic read overall. When it comes to books from author that we love, I don’t think we can ask more than that. Be sure to read One Good Dragon Deserves Another as it absolutely cements Rachel Aaron's reputation as a gifted storyteller.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015

GUEST POST: Robert Brockway: Author of The Unnoticeables




Visit Robert Brockway's Website Here
Watch the Book Trailer for The Unnoticeables Here



Fantasy Book Critic is pleased to welcome Robert Brockway. Robert is a Senior Editor and columnist for Cracked.com and is the author of the latest urban fantasy/horror novel, The Unnoticeables. The Unnoticeables was released by Tor on July 7, 2015.

Robert Brockway has stopped by to talk about his love of sci-fi/fantasy and his latest book. 

********************************************************************** 


My favorite part of sci-fi/fantasy is the world-building. I love coming up with premises and extrapolating out the rules of that world, its environments and creatures. It’s great fun.

If you’re lucky, you might even figure out a good story to tell in that world.

If you’re unlucky, somebody will then come along and ask you to explain it.

I wrote a book called The Unnoticeables — a weird genre mash-up somewhere between horror, sci-fi, and urban fantasy - and for some reason people keep asking me what it’s about. Did you know they do that, when you write a book?

If I had known, I would’ve written a book about divorce, or battleships, or something else that could be explained away in a word or two.

Instead I wrote this strange trilogy about angels, monsters, faceless kids, punk rockers, and stuntwomen that spans decades and jumps back and forth in time. I really screwed myself here.

Honestly, it all went awry from the central premise, which started like this: There’s a theory that everything can be described with sufficiently complex numbers. Given enough space and time, you could map every particle in the universe — assign it a space on a grid, describe its functions, behaviors, composition, etc. — and if you can do that, well, then everything is basically just numbers, right?

Oof, already you see the problem.

Let’s try again: There’s a thought experiment which says that everything that could possibly exist is described within pi. Pi is, as far as we know it, a non-repeating infinite number. Since it goes on forever without reliably repeating itself, somewhere in that string of numbers there’s eventually going to be a bit that describes something real. Let’s say it describes a small rock. In a non-repeating infinite number there will be a string of digits that describes the shape of the rock, the weight, how old it is, etc. Eventually, because we’re talking about infinity here, there will be a string of numbers that describes that rock and the beach it sits on — how many grains of sand, their relative positions to one another, the strength of the waves. And so forth. Carry that thought far enough, and you’ll come across a string of numbers that describes that rock, that beach, and you, stubbing your toe on it - the number of cells in your body, the series in which your neurons fire to form your thoughts, the wrinkles at the corners of your eyes, the intensity and volume at which you screamed when you kicked this stupid pebble.

Somewhere in pi, our entire universe is mapped out. Not only that, but every possible universe is described as well — infinity is infinite, after all.

Yeah, I know. My next book is going to be about ‘a down on his luck airline pilot trying to find love’ or something.

Working from the premise that the universe and everything in it can be described mathematically, I came to the conclusion that, for most things, there’s probably a simpler way to express those numbers. There are probably bits that cancel each other out, more efficient algorithms that could model the same behaviors, redundancies in the code. In short, everything is a math problem.

What if something could solve it?

That’s how I got my villains: things my characters call angels — bright balls of light that sound like screaming static and exist solely to maintain the purity of the universe. They’re problem solvers. And the problems they’re solving are human beings.

Hopefully you followed my thought process down the rabbit hole far enough to see how I came up with this world. But then there was the whole mess of coming up with characters. For that, I had to think about who would hate this premise the most: Who is least amenable to a universe where we’re all just numbers, waiting to be neatly solved and filed away? I came up with two wildly different types of people united by a shared concept: Punk rockers, and aspiring actresses. Punks despise the idea of conformity, of doing what you’re told just because you’re told to it. Aspiring actresses, by their very nature, have to believe  that they’re so inherently talented and special that they can make it in a field where literally millions are trying and failing every day. Despite how awkward they would both find each other’s company, those two types of people share one defining character trait: They love and treasure individuality.

That all follows logically, right? The premise, the world, the monsters, the characters, the conflict — it all just sort of fits together. I was confident of that, in writing the book. Perhaps too confident. Because it all came crashing down the moment somebody asked me the big, impossible question:

“In one sentence, describe your book.”

If you figure out how to do that, email me. I’ll buy you a coke. 

**********************************************************************
 More about The Unnoticeables 

There are angels, and they are not beneficent or loving. But they do watch over us. They watch our lives unfold, analyzing us for repeating patterns and redundancies. When they find them, the angels simplify those patterns, they remove the redundancies, and the problem that is you gets solved.

Carey doesn’t much like that idea. As a punk living in New York City, 1977, Carey is sick and tired of watching the strange kids with the unnoticeable faces abduct his friends. He doesn’t care about the rumors of tarmonsters in the sewers, or unkillable psychopaths invading the punk scene—all he wants is drink cheap beer and dispense asskickings.

Kaitlyn isn’t sure what she’s doing with her life. She came to Hollywood in 2013 to be a stunt woman, but last night a former teen heartthrob tried to eat her, her best friend has just gone missing, and there’s an angel outside her apartment.

Whatever she plans on doing with her life, it should probably happen in the few remaining minutes she has left of it.

There are angels. There are demons. They are the same thing. It’s up to Carey and Kaitlyn to stop them. The survival of the human race is in their hands.

We are, all of us, well and truly screwed.
 

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “The Instruments Of Control”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “Uprooted”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “Queen of Fire”
Review HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click here to find out more about “Uprooted”
Review HERE