The Monstrous

Posted: May 18, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love
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tm_ebrThere is a certain way that little old ladies look at you when they find you reading books with covers like this one. There were several times while reading the book, however, that not only did I catch some of those little-old-lady glances, but I caught myself looking at the book itself with what I imagine to be a very similar facial expression to those ladies. It’s been a while since I’ve come across quite so many great stories as those that have been contained in these horror anthologies compiled by Ellen Datlow. The best part is that I have one more of these beauties sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to sink my claws into it. And after this one, I can’t wait to do just that.
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We’ve followed Lady Trent from the mountains of Vystrana to war-torn Eriga to the high seas to the deserts of the Akhia all for the sake of studying dragons. Now here we are at the fifth and final novel in this fantastic series, WITHIN THE SANCTUARY OF WINGS, and finale well worthy of Isabella and company.

After years of making a name for herself as a result of her study of dragons, Isabella, Lady Trent, has settled into a routine of study from her home in Scirland, supporting her husband’s linguistic endeavors, and encouraging her son’s education. While she’s happy with her life, she yearns for the adventure associated with her scientific finds that changed the face of the study of dragons. But what else is there for the woman who’s done everything?

Until one fateful day when a man brings her the story of the remains of a strange species of dragon found in the snow of the highest mountains in the world. Unfortunately in order to see it, she would have to travel to a territory claimed by Scirland’s enemies. Remember, this is Isabella we’re talking about, and little things like being banned from a country or traversing the highest mountain range will never deter her from her profound curiosity for all things dragon. Read the rest of this entry »

Sins of Empire

Posted: May 4, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love
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I’ve been meaning to read this guy’s books for quite a while now. Well, ever since his first book came out, because I heard it was pretty awesome, and how could you not love a story that mixed magic with black powder? For whatever reason, though, I just never picked one up. Until I listened to him speak at a writer’s convention. He mentioned something about how awesome Daniel Abraham’s most recent fantasy series was, and I figured if the guy loved Abraham’s method of storytelling, then he likely wouldn’t have written a bad book about black-powder mages, which was still a freaking cool idea, and I should give the guy a shot. The sooner the better. And after reading it, I think if you haven’t read his books yet, then you should “give him a shot” too. Ha. I kill myself sometimes.
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Do you remember, as a young child, that one fantastical story which captured your imagination? Of course you do, because it’s the story that molded your childhood. It’s the story that filled you with a new wonder about the world around you, and of all that was possible. For me it was the story of Robin Hood. It had adventure, dashing heroes, young love, forests to explore, castles, and evil villains. I read many versions of Robin Hood in my youth and have probably watched every movie or TV show made on the subject. It’s stories like these that help us—when we’re children trying to understand the world—to discover our own role in the world.

MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY by Fredrik Backman captures the wonder and joy these kinds of stories have for us. Now, I know MY GRANDMOTHER is strictly a fiction novel, there’s no fantasy, not even any unexplainable events—just so you know, because I don’t want you to read it expecting that. But I’m sure you do remember what it was like to have those fantastical stories of your youth permeate your life and shape the kind of person you want to be. This is the book that will help you re-live those days.

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Character is the third-most important aspect of a story. Hah! Bet you never expected to hear something like that come out of my mouth. Great character is not the most important piece of a story? Blasphemy! The fact of the matter is that the ability to string words together in a manner coherent enough that someone will actually want to pick up the result and read it is arguably the most important piece of the storybook puzzle. Fortunately, it is also one of those things that you can get better at with practice at reading and writing. So, not difficult, just time consuming. Second on that list of importance is likely the hook: that piece of “zing” (as John Brown says) that grabs a reader’s attention and gives you a little temporal real estate to work with. Those are pretty much one-offs, though. You find ’em, you stick ’em into the beginning of your story, and then you’re done with ’em. What is it then that comes next, if not for character? What else will capture a reader’s mind or heart in such a way that they will not only keep reading that particular story, but will also keep them coming back to you for more story again and again? There is no other answer. It can only be character. And yet, for how vitally important character is to a story, it seems I find stories time and again that fail to get it right. So I thought I’d make a few notes and write a thing or two about it in connection with the SPFBO in hopes that it might help someone along their path to being a great author. (We’re all just charitable like that here at EBR, and this has nothing to do with the fact that we only want to spend our time reading amazing stories. Okay. Maybe that last part, just a teensy bit.)
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Giveaway: Recluce Tales

Posted: April 10, 2017 by Vanessa in Giveaways
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This giveaway is closed.

Update 4/10/17: The winner is Darren from Virginia. Congrats! Your book is already in the mail.

EBR has a spare hardcopy of RECLUCE TALES by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. to give away to one of our readers. If you’re a fan of The World of Recluce, this collection of short stories based on the series is for you. To enter this giveaway:

1. Email us at elitistbookreviews@gmail.com

2. Include the following on the subject line: RECLUCE TALES GIVEAWAY

3. In the body of the email include your name and mailing address. This giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

Giveaway rules can be found here. Entries will be accepted until midnight of April 9 and the winner will be posted on April 10th. Good luck!

So every once in a while I’ll perform what I affectionately call a “dummy test” to check and make sure I’m not being a dummy about something in particular. I have my opinions, my habits, my modus operandi, but as the world is constantly changing I figure I had better allow myself to change along with it every once in a while as well. It’s no secret (based entirely on my most recent SPFBO review) that I thought The Grey Bastards was head and shoulders better than any of the other entries that made their way into the final ten novels in the contest. After finishing my read of ALL of them, I happened to come upon some comments that Mark Lawrence made about one of the books that hadn’t made it past the initial winnowing of the bevvy of novel hopefuls: SENLIN ASCENDS. Specifically, he said that it was, “my best read, one of my favourite books of all time in fact. So read it.” Whoa. How then, I wondered, had it not won out in round one? I tried to read the story that had taken the proverbial cake in the first round of that group of stories, THE PATH OF FLAMES (EBR review), and quit after about 65 pages. So the situation left me wondering if I was a dummy, or if perhaps I might just like Senlin Ascends. So, I decided to put my money where my mouth was–or more specifically, I guess, my money where Mark Lawrence’s mouth was–and I bought both of the currently self-published Books of Babel.
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