Tag Archives: science fiction

Waiting on Wednesday (82) PEACEMAKER by Marianne de Pierres

Waiting on Wednesday copy

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a fun way to share the books we’re excited about with other bloggers and readers. There are only two Wednesdays left in 2013 after today, and one of those is Christmas! It’s hard to believe this year went by so fast. But luckily for us readers, there will always be a steady supply of new books to read. This week I’m waiting on:

PeacemakerPeacemaker by Marianne de Pierres. Release date: April 29 2014 (Angry Robot). Those Angry Robots are at it again. They have the coolest covers and the wackiest mash-ups of genres of almost any publisher I know. If you live in Australia, you may recognize de Pierres’ name, since she’s written some books for Random House Australia (Night Creatures series), plus she lives there! Check out this story description:

When an imaginary animal from her troubled teenage years reappears, Virgin takes it to mean one of two things: a breakdown (hers!) or a warning. When the dead bodies start piling up around her and Nate, she decides on the latter. Something terrible is about to happen in the park and Virgin and her new partner are standing in its path…

Virgin Jackson is the senior ranger in Birrimun Park – the world’s last natural landscape, overshadowed though it is by a sprawling coastal megacity. She maintains public safety and order in the park, but her bosses have brought out a hotshot cowboy to help her catch some drug runners who are affecting tourism. She senses the company is holding something back from her, and she’s not keen on working with an outsider like Nate Sixkiller.

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Not sure how I feel about a character’s name being “Virgin,” but perhaps it will all make sense when I read it. What do you think? Let me know your WOW link in the comments!

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Waiting on Wednesday (68) ARMADA by Ernest Cline

Waiting on Wednesday copy

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is my favorite way to see what upcoming releases everyone is excited about. I’m stealing my idea this week from Lucy at The Reading Date who highlighted this last week. I’m beyond excited for this book, as Ready Player One was one of my top ten favorite books of 2011. Ernest Cline’s latest won’t hit stores until next summer, but the cover has already been revealed:

Armada

Armada by Ernest Cline. Release date: July 2014 (Crown Publishing). I adored Ready Player One, and I have high hopes for Cline’s follow-up. This has an Ender’s Game vibe to it, but I’m sure Cline will put his own crazy spin on it. Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Zack Lightman is daydreaming through another dull math class when the high-tech dropship lands in his school’s courtyard-and when the men in the dark suits and sunglasses leap out of the ship and start calling his name, he’s sure he’s still dreaming.

But the dream is all too real; the people of Earth need him. As Zack soon discovers, the videogame he’s been playing obsessively for years isn’t just a game; it’s part of a massive, top-secret government training program, designed to teach gamers the skills they’ll need to defend Earth from a possible alien invasion. And now…that invasion is coming.

As he and his companions prepare to enter their ships and do battle, Zack learns that the father he thought was dead is actually a key player in this secret war. And together with his father, he’ll uncover the truth about the alien threat, race to prevent a genocide, and discover a mysterious third player in the interplanetary chess game he’s been thrown into.

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The retro-video game looking cover is pretty cool. Whatever this book turns out to be, I’m sure it will rock. Ernest Cline is like, well, one of my book heroes:) What are you waiting on this week?

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THREE by Jay Posey – Blog Tour + Author Interview + Giveaway!

Three Blog Tour Banner

I am thrilled to be part of the Three blog tour—in fact, I pretty much inserted myself into this tour after it had already been scheduled, LOL! Huge thanks and hugs to the lovely Caroline at Angry Robot for finding me a spot at the last minute. I ADORED this book (you can read my review here) and any chance I get to promote a book I adore is one I jump at!

For my stop on the tour, I’ve interviewed Jay. He’s such a great guy, and I hope you enjoy the interview.

But wait—there’s more! Angry Robot is giving away TWO signed copies of Three. You have lots of chances to win, but for some of those chances you will have to do some reading, something we’re all good at, right? Each blog that is participating in the tour has a specific question relating to the book. You will need to hop to each blog, find their question, and enter the answer in the Rafflecopter on the blog My Shelf Confessions. (And Tabitha and April are pretty awesome, so make sure to check out their blog while you are visiting!) The Rafflecopter has links and explains everything, so you shouldn’t have a problem.

For my stop, you will need to answer this question: Question #18 - There is a group of men in the bar in chapter 1, what does the protagonist call them?

Some of the answers to the questions are in the book description, and some of them are in a special excerpt of Three, which can be found here on the Angry Robot website. (Now keep in mind that Angry Robot is a British publisher, and they use funny words like “extract” instead of “excerpt.”)

So it’s kind of like a scavenger hunt! Go forth and scavenge and have fun! But first, here’s my interview with Jay:

Author Interview new

First of all, welcome Jay, to Books, Bones & Buffy! I feel very fortunate that I could join your blog tour.  Tell us a little bit about your publishing experience for Three. As a debut author, what have been the highs and lows of getting a publishing contract?

Thanks so much for having me! For me, once I finished up the manuscript for Three, I had a good author friend of mine, Richard Dansky, read it through and give me feedback, and over the course of our discussion of what I should do with it, he pointed me to Angry Robot.  When I read the description of the kind of work they were looking for, I felt like they would be a great fit, and was fortunate to have Richard and another writer friend Matt Forbeck make the necessary introductions.  There was of course the usual Long Wait as the Robot Overlords evaluated the manuscript, and to my great excitement (and relief), they liked what they read enough to assimilate me.

They really have been great to work with, and have been very supportive through the whole process.  Some of the highs have included (of course) reading that first “we’d like to make you an offer” email, seeing the cover for the first time (by the excellent artist Steven Meyer-Rassow), and getting such a positive response from so many early reviewers.

Okay, and actually there have been a few lows.  When the cover was first revealed to the world, it came out with an excerpt on a high-profile website, and of course when I got the email from Angry Robot that it was live, I was very excited to see it, so I immediately clicked through the link to bask in all the glory that was sure to be waiting for me there.  I didn’t actually know what the excerpt was going to be, and I was scrolling down the page to see how long it was, and naturally, there at the bottom, waiting for me, was my First Comment.  To put it mildly, it wasn’t quite as effusive in its praise and adulation of my writing as I had hoped.  So my total enjoyment of that Big Moment was around seven seconds before my sensitive writer side went all “WOE IS ME I KNEW I WAS TERRIBLE I’LL NEVER WRITE AGAIN”.

On another level, working on Book Two has been really tough for me, both because I’m on a deadline, and because there’s a level of insecurity there I really hadn’t been expecting.  During the first book I had the occasional bouts of “what if this is all for nothing and no one will ever want to read it.”  With the second one, it’s been all “what if the first book was a fluke and it was the only thing I’ll ever write that anyone will want to read.”  I think, too, I know now that there are readers out there who Have Expectations, and I feel that pressure sometimes more acutely than I was anticipating.

Don’t worry Jay. You are seriously talented. It wasn’t a fluke! Your background is in gaming and you describe your job title as “narrative designer.” Can you tell us exactly what that entails? Also, how did you decide to veer off into writing a novel?

For my day job, I’m a Senior Narrative Designer at Red Storm Entertainment (founded by Tom Clancy), and narrative design is really the marriage between writing, storytelling, and game design.  It’s understanding the game mechanics, and the overall game experience, and then helping to create the tools and systems and content necessary to deliver a narrative that works with the game as a whole.

The title itself is still fairly new in the industry, even though people have been doing that work for a long time.  Mary DeMarle (of Myst 3: Exile and Deus Ex: Human Revolution fame, among other things) was the one who coined the title, because neither “writer” nor “designer” really captured all the things that a narrative designer does.

As far as what the job entails, it really depends on the studio and the project, and can vary wildly.  I’ve been on projects where I had the privilege of working closely with the Creative Director and Lead Designer to help plan out the overall vision for the game, and I’ve been on projects where I’ve been in a pure writing role, just writing the dialogue for someone else’s story.  But usually there’s a mix of tasks that balance design and writing;  for example, working with concept artists to flesh out character design, or helping design the AI dialogue system, or working with the audio team to cast and direct voice actors (Red Storm has one of the most talented audio teams in the industry), or even just consulting with level designers about how particular moments in a mission might impact story.

There’s a lot of crossover between what it takes to write a game and what’s involved in writing a novel, so I think for me the novels were a place I could go exercise a lot of similar skills but in my own creative playground.  Working in games, I’m usually writing well-established franchises that have clearly defined rules.  In the novels, I have a lot more creative freedom to tell the stories I want to tell.

Three

I’m going to have to introduce you to my son. He definitely wants to go into gaming design as a career…You are generously donating 10% of your Three royalties to Hope For The Warriors®. Can you tell us a bit about how you got involved in this organization?

I’ve had the true honor and privilege through Red Storm to get to work with both active duty and retired members of the US Military, and I’ve always been both humbled and impressed by the quality and character of the men and women that we have serving our nation in that capacity.  I knew with this novel that I wanted to find some way to contribute to that community, and while my wife was researching our options, she found Hope For The Warriors®.  Hope For The Warriors® has consistently received the highest ratings for both financial transparency and efficiency, and we felt like the goals of their organization strongly aligned with the kind of support we wanted to help provide.

The mission of Hope For The Warriors® is to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty. Hope For The Warriors® is dedicated to restoring a sense of self, restoring the family unit, and restoring hope for our service members and our military families.

It’s the least we can do as citizens to make sure that our veterans and their families are getting the kind of care and support they need as they transition.  I’m often at a loss for how I can personally help, so I’m really glad to be able to connect with Hope For The Warriors® and trust that they know the needs of the community and can help bridge the gaps.

What is a day in the life of Jay Posey like? How do you balance writing, a job, and downtime in your schedule?

The secret is, you just cut out all the downtime.  Actually, it really is a day-by-day kind of thing for me.  For the most part, during the week I work a normal day, then come home and have dinner and some time with the family, and then once the kids are in bed, I head down into the word mines for a few hours.  Depending on how I’m feeling about deadlines, I might give myself a night or two off a week, but I generally try to write at least five nights, with extra time on Saturdays when I can manage it.  Lately I’ve been writing every night.

It helps that my family has been super supportive through this whole process, so they’ve given me a lot of extra writing time on the weekends and things.  It can definitely be a challenge.  I’ve had to scale back on a number of other things to make room for it, but I think a lot of it just comes down to how you arrange your priorities.  We’ll usually find a way to make time for the things that are important to us.

What and who are some of your favorite books and authors?

J.R.R. Tolkien is always at the top of my list, both for the usual suspects (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings) but also for a lot of his other lesser known works like Farmer Giles of Ham, Leaf by Niggle, and his essay On Fairy Stories. William Gibson is another big one that I’ve always admired.  I’m also a fan of Barry Hughart, though I’ve only read Bridge of Birds and The Story of the Stone.  (If anyone has a copy of Eight Skilled Gentlemen they’d like to send me, that’d be great.)  And Douglas Adams, of course.  And Dave Barry.  And Daniel Silva.  And there are so many other ones I feel bad for not listing, but I’ll just stop there.

Please tell us three things about Jay Posey that can’t be found on your website—come on, spill the beans!

Hmm, I have a terrible time thinking of things about me that other people might find interesting.  But I guess you didn’t say they had to be interesting so how about:

  • I was once an extra in a movie that starred Robin Williams, and I very nearly got to meet him.  The movie was Patch Adams, released in 1998, and I played Medical School Student (uncredited) during the “courtroom scene” towards the end of the film.  As extras, we were instructed never to approach any of The Talent, but were also told it was fine to interact with the actors if they ever initiated a conversation.  During a break, Robin Williams came out of his trailer and started walking over towards me and two of my newly-made extra friends, and right before he got to us, another extra let out an absolutely ear-splitting scream, and then started half-hyperventilating/half-freaking out and telling him how amazing it was to be so close to him.  He was very kind and generous, and then he promptly returned to his trailer.
  • I grew up, went to college, and now live all within about a 30 mile radius.  It’s not that I haven’t gotten to travel around and visit other great places.  It’s just that I might be a really big fan of North Carolina.
  • I’ve been playing guitar for over 20 years.  Not continually, of course, but you know.

Ha ha…Awesome interview, Jay! Thanks so much for visiting today:)

Posey-Headshot-ResizeJay is a narrative designer, author, and screenwriter by trade. He started working in the video game industry in 1998, and has been writing professionally for over a decade. Currently employed as Senior Narrative Designer at Red Storm Entertainment, he’s spent around eight years writing and designing for Tom Clancy’s award-winning Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six franchises.

A contributing author to the book Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, Jay has lectured at conferences, colleges, and universities, on topics ranging from basic creative writing skills to advanced material specific to the video game industry. (from the Angry Robot website)

Find Jay & Three:

* Author Website * Twitter * Goodreads * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * IndieBound * The Book Depository

Don’t forget to stop by My Shelf Confessions to enter your answer to the question at the beginning of this post, and to visit the other blogs on the tour and answer their questions, too! It’s a bunch of fun! You could win your own signed copy of Three!

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THREE by Jay Posey – Review

Three 3D

Three by Jay Posey
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: July 30 2013
Source: ARC from publisher
Pages: 421

crystal Chandelier Award round2

five stars

In a word: One of the best examples of world building I’ve seen in quite some time, gorgeously written, with a finely paced plot and characters that will break your heart.

Once in a while, a book comes along that deserves more than five stars. These special few are awarded my Crystal Chandelier Award of Awesome! Three is only the second book to receive this award…so far!

Overpasses stacked ten high lay inert, arteries of a city embalmed. The wind was light but weighty with the falling autumn, like the hand of a blacksmith gently laid.

Could you please read the above quote and tell me you aren’t dying to read Three right now?! I can’t believe this is Jay Posey’s first novel. Everything about Three is polished and honed as sharp as a knife blade. Posey has created an unusual dystopian world that feels completely unfamiliar, and yet there are glimpses of familiar things that have been turned inside out and re-imagined. Like many other books of its kind, humans have banded together and locked themselves behind walls in order to keep the monsters at bay. In this case, the “monsters” are called the Weir, large humanoid creatures with electric blue eyes and the strength to tear a man to pieces. So far it feels familiar, right? But Three’s resemblance to other dystopians ends there. Posey’s unique future includes people who are “plugged in” to a datastream, “chemics”  who use drugs that give them super-strength and speed, and “brainhackers,” individuals with the ability to retrieve information from someone’s brain.

But Three has more than just cool futuristic elements. It is filled with complicated characters who have unexpected emotional ties to each other. Posey takes emotional angst to a whole new level with his relationships, and I guarantee you will fall in love with these characters. Add in a dangerous escape across a barren landscape and writing that is more like poetry than prose in some cases, and you have a combination that will be irresistible to discerning readers.

Three is a bounty hunter that mostly keeps to himself, bringing in bounty (both dead and alive) for Hard (cash) during the daylight hours when the Weir stay hidden. But one day he runs into a woman and her son who are clearly in trouble. Cass and Wren are on the run from someone, and Three reluctantly agrees to help them. But Cass has some dangerous people looking for her, and Three doesn’t realize until too late that he’s gotten himself into a heap of trouble.

As Three leads them outside of the safety of the Enclave and across the dangerous Strand, they will face not only the terrifying Weir who stalk the night looking for victims, but some monsters of the human variety who are just as treacherous. Three must use all his wits, and then some, to get Cass and Wren to safety before either threat can find them.

One of the things I appreciated most about Three (and believe me, there are many!) is the way the author doesn’t explain anything about the set-up of this story. Posey throws us right into the action and simply lets us figure things out as we go. Strange terms like “chemic” and “nerve-rig” are never explained so much as used in context. With the author’s wonderful prose as the backdrop, this strange and wonderful story begins to emerge. Now, I know drugs are bad, but some of my favorite books lately have used drugs as a key story element, including Three. Cass is a chemic, a human with a special implant that allows her to dose herself quickly with a drug called quint. Yes, she is an addict, but when you finally figure out why she’s using quint you’ll feel better about the whole drug thing. Her addiction also makes her vulnerable and I loved her all the more for it. Even though Cass seems to be weak at the beginning of the story, she eventually morphs into a kick-ass heroine.

There were so many characters that I loved, including Three. He’s quite the mystery man and Posey doles out clues about his back story slowly. He’s the reluctant hero, and he reminded me a bit of Kevin Costner’s character in Waterworld. He finds it almost impossible to leave Cass and Wren alone, because he knows the men and women who are chasing them are bad. I loved the way the two eventually worm their way into his heart, even if he’s not too thrilled about it. I expected Three and Cass to fall for each other, but Posey allows this to happen in such an excruciatingly slow way that it was completely believable.

In Posey’s world, cities are in ruin and civilization has collapsed, yet futuristic technology still exists. I loved the juxtaposition of the gray and dust-filled landscape with the idea of people being able to access a GPS system in their heads. There are also unfamiliar techy weapons, like laser guns; yet one of Three’s most cherished possessions is an old-fashioned pistol that only has six bullets when the story begins. (Bullets are very hard to come by.) Every time the pistol was fired brought Three closer and closer to not having any bullets left at all.

Many of the mysteries of Three are not revealed by the end of the book, which was frustrating in some ways, but made me anxious to read the next book even more. Who exactly are the Weir? Why do they have glowing blue eyes? And what is the mystery behind “shipping”? I hope to find these answers in the next book, but if Posey chooses to draw things out, well, that’s fine too. I’ll go anywhere he wants to take me, as long as he keeps writing like this. You are in for a treat, my friends. Highly recommended!

Many thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ from the finished version.

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Angry Robot is giving away two signed copies of Three during the Three blog tour! My tour stop is this Thursday August 8th, so make sure and come back and read my interview with Jay! And you can enter to win your very own copy of Three!

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THE LIVES OF TAO – Interview with Wesley Chu + ARC Giveaway!

Lives of Tao 3DI recently had the opportunity to read and review Wesley Chu’s amazingly inventive and hysterically funny debut, The Lives of Tao, published on April 30th by Angry Robot (you can read my review here). I was very happy when Wesley agreed to answer a few questions about his book and give us a peek into his life as a writer. Keep reading to the end, because after the interview I’m giving away my ARC of The Lives of Tao to one U.S. winner!

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Books, Bones & Buffy: First of all Wesley, welcome to Books, Bones & Buffy! I know you are a super-busy human right now, and I appreciate you finding the time to do another interview. I thought the concept of The Lives of Tao was amazing—an ancient and very intelligent alien life form, stranded on Earth with no way to get home, is mostly responsible for many of the great and terrifying actions and ideas that have shaped our history. How did this idea evolve?

Wesley Chu: The setup for The Lives of Tao started with aliens in the head manipulating mankind. I’m a history buff and wanted not so much to rewrite it, but explain the motives behind why things went down the way they did.

However, as I was world building, I changed one of the mechanics of the alien physiology that made the entire story come to life. I decided that the Quasing couldn’t control their hosts; they could only speak with them. Once that dynamic was created, the relationship between the host and the Quasing changed dramatically. The original plot took a back seat to a much more interesting and organic story about a fat loser and his alien, and how they had to learn to get along and avoid getting killed.

One of the things I loved about your book was how multi-layered it was. One of those layers is the amount of world history that you wove into the plot. Now, normally history lessons tend to make my brain turn to Jello, but for some reason, I didn’t have that problem with The Lives of Tao. Being a history buff already, how much research was actually involved?

I did have to do a lot of research, and it was a challenge to get all the storylines and dates lined up in order for all of Tao’s past lives to make sense. For me, history is the best storytelling out there.

Think about it. The stuff that happened in our history books, someone actually did it! I mean, I can read Harry Potter and think to myself, “that Tom Riddle is such a little bastard,” but I know it’s fiction. I mean, Hannibal crossed the Alps with thirty-seven elephants to invade Italy. Do you know how crazy that is? I can’t even watch the Tour De France without getting tired.

Here’s another one. The Mayans were probably one of the strangest cultures to have ever lived on Earth. Besides the human sacrifices that everyone knows about, they were the first ballers, as in they were one of the first to build arenas for ball games. And their medicine, I might add, at 3000BC was as advanced, if not more than, the mud wallowing bumpkins of the Dark Ages four thousand years later. They also were big fans of shrooming.

Imagine for a moment that you have just become a host for a Quasing. What kind of scenario would you hope to find yourself in? (Or not find yourself in!)

First of all, I’d prefer to be a vessel, as in I’d rather work for the baddies. There’s a level of sacrifice required for a host that I just don’t think I have.

Here’s what we know about the Prophus. They’re losing a war against a stronger enemy. They’re outgunned, out-funded, and out-maneuvered politically as well as militarily. The chances of death are extraordinarily high, and you’ll spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder. On top of that, their pay sucks. Let’s face it, the guys the Prophus recruits have to be saints or idiots. Oh yeah, I also have a pretty damn low tolerance to death and pain.

But say I had to join the Prophus, I hope I’d get an administrative rainmaking Quasing who just wanted me to make money for the organization. In a perfect world, this Quasing’s old hosts would be Victor Hugo or JD Salinger or Neil Gaiman (damn, can’t be Neil; he’s still alive) or any other great literary mind. Then he’d just help me write all day and make lots of money to fund the war. After all, as a writer, I already have the best job in the world.

I’d love to read more of Tao’s amazing stories. Would you ever consider writing a novella or short story about some of those adventures before he met Roen?

In the original draft of the novel, the historical pieces at the beginning of most chapters were a completely separate storyline which amounted to about 22k words, or approximately 60-80 pages. I’d love to release them at a later date on my website or as a novella. For now though, I’m focused on prepping The Deaths of Tao (Book Two) and mapping out the third book, tentatively titled The Rebirth of Tao.

There are a lot of directions this universe can go. All of history is my playground. At one point, I’d love to open the sandbox up and let others play in it. For now, it’s a planned trilogy. In the future, I could envision Tao becoming a series or possibly an extended series of trilogies.

So what’s next for Roen/Tao and Jill/Baji? Book Two, The Deaths of Tao comes out later this year, and I’m dying to see what happens!

I can’t give too much away. Deaths takes place a few years after Lives, and the readers are in for a treat. Jill takes equal billing with Roen and really comes into her own. Let’s just say fighting a losing war puts a strain on their relationship.

There’s also a new baddie named Enzo who’s much less civil and more dangerous than Sean Diamont. He’s a product of the Genjix eugenics program called the Hatchery. He’s better than you in every way and he’ll make sure you know it. His demeanor is also a little different than Sean… as in he might be a little unstable.

I’m a huge fan of Angry Robot and Strange Chemistry. What’s it like to be one of their authors?

As a debut author, I couldn’t be happier with where I began my career. AR/SC has the perfect mix of cutting-edge books and internet savvy that a smaller publisher needs to make a splash in the industry.

Not only that, we all like and support each other. Um… at least I think they like me. I’ve met many of their authors and consider all of them friends. It’s such a close group of good people. I feel very blessed to have joined the Robot family. And no, the chip in my head from the overlords did not force me to say these things.

Ha ha:) What is a day in the life of Wesley Chu like? What kind of writing schedule do you keep, and how do you reward yourself for putting in a hard day’s work?

My day consists of waking up, doing the day job, hanging with the family, walking the dog, and writing. Rinse and repeat. I don’t have a set schedule but I do my best writing late at night when it’s okay to drink a nice scotch without feeling like an alcoholic. I think that’s why writing early in the morning doesn’t work for me. If I drank scotch that early, I’d definitely feel like an alcoholic.

It’s funny. I took some time off from writing recently after a tough couple days of editing. The only thing I wanted to do while on “break” was to get my ass back to my story. I’m an OCD kind of guy; once I get my mind set on something, it’s all I can think about.

List three things about Wesley Chu that can’t be found on your website.

  1. Hm… I love thermal underwear. Like LOVE thermals. Does that make me an old man?
  2. I’m scuba certified but can’t swim. I can’t even tread water.
  3. I wasn’t kidding when I said I had a low pain threshold. When I was young and got kicked in the head, I’d say “wow, that’s a good hit!” Once I hit a certain age, I’m more like “wow, that’s a concussion!”

I know what you mean about thermal underwear…but it’s not something you really need living in Southern California, unfortunately:) Thanks so much for stopping by today, Wesley! Congrats on your book, and I can’t wait to read the next one!

About the Author:

Wesley ChuWesley Chu was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Chicago, Illinois when he was just a pup. It was there he became a Kung Fu master and gymnast.

Wesley is an avid gamer and a contributing writer for the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. A former stunt man and a member of the Screen Actors Guild, he can also be seen in film and television playing roles such as “Banzai Chef” in Fred Claus and putting out Oscar worthy performances as a bank teller in Chicago Blackhawks commercials.

Besides working as an Associate Vice President at a bank, he spends his time writing and hanging out with his wife Paula Kim and their Airedale Terrier, Eva.

You can find Wesley here: * Website * Twitter * Goodreads * Amazon * The Book Depository *

Giveaway button

This giveaway is now over. Congratulations to Tammy George for winning an ARC of The Lives of Tao!

Have you read The Lives of Tao yet? Want a chance to win a copy? One ARC is up for grabs, as long as you have a U.S. shipping address. And entering is super easy: simply leave a comment on this post! You can also get extra entries if you tweet this post or share it on Facebook. Just let me know in the comments what you’ve done.  One random commenter will be chosen on Saturday July 6th.

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THE LIVES OF TAO by Wesley Chu – Review

Lives of Tao 3DThe Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

Genre: Adult Science Fiction

Publisher: Angry Robot

Release date: April 30 2013

Source: ARC from publisher

Pages: 375

five stars

In a word:  an ingenious concept, flawed but likable characters, exciting action sequences, with an emotional payoff at the end.

This whole alien-in-his-body was starting to sound better and better. First, he got to hang out with a hot girl, and now he was going to be James Bond. He would have to go shopping for a new wardrobe to fit his new role. Roen imagined a long trench coat like Neo with cool sunglasses and a big gun hanging at his waist.

The premise of The Lives of Tao is startlingly simple: what if every artistic, brilliant and charismatic game-changer throughout history was controlled by an alien life force inhabiting their body and directing their actions and decisions? This is the impetus behind Wesley Chu’s debut, and it makes for a very interesting and lively story. Imagine an intelligent race of aliens traveling through space, who crash landed on a developing planet millions of years ago. With no way to get back to their own planet, they must figure out how to survive, and so they inhabit the bodies of living creatures—fish, dinosaurs, mammals, and eventually humans—jumping from body to body when necessary, and trying to advance human technology so that they can eventual go home. These aliens, called Quasings, have split into two groups: the Prophus, who want a peaceful existence with humans, and the Genjix, who are driven by their lust for war and conflict. This story had everything I love in a book: great pacing, characters who are conflicted and have lots of growing to do, and all sorts of layers that add unexpected emotional depth.

The story begins right in the middle of the action, as our hero Tao, a Prophus currently in the host body of a man named Edward Blair, is trying to escape from the Genjix who is after him, but has just discovered he’s been double-crossed by a fellow Prophus. Edward knows the only way to save Tao is to “release” him by killing himself, allowing Tao to find a new host and continue his work. Not a great situation to be in, but Edward’s been Tao’s host for years and knows the drill. By the end of the first chapter (which by the way, was one of the best first chapters I’ve ever read), Tao is floating around without a host, with only minutes left to find someone new to call home. Enter Roen Tan, an over-weight computer geek with low self-esteem, whose life is about to change forever. Because Tao has just chosen Roen as his new host, and boy does he have a lot of work to do! When Roen wakes up the next morning and hears Tao speaking in his head, he has no idea what he’s in for.

So begins the strange and dangerous journey of Tao and Roen, as they try to avoid capture by the Genjix.  Roen is the perfect anti-hero, which makes this situation so funny. After convincing him that he has no choice but to act as a host for an alien being, Tao must not only get him in shape, but teach him how to fight, use weapons, and eventually kill in order to stay alive. One of the funniest parts of this book was the ongoing dialog between Roen and Tao. As Tao gives Roen pep talks about how to eat right and lose weight, he also begins to tell him stories about his past lives, and some of the famous (and infamous) people he’s influenced. That’s one of the layers I was talking about. Not only is this a rip-roaring story about spies and infiltrating enemy secrets, but it’s a history lesson as well.

Soon Roen meets Sonya, a human host for a Prophus named Baji. Sonya is sent to help train Roen and get him ready to go on assignments. I expected there might be a romance between the two, but instead Roen meets a woman named Jill who knows nothing about the Quasing, and he begins to date her. Jill’s character was the only thing I didn’t like about The Lives of Tao. I just couldn’t figure out why Roen was attracted to her, because she felt so two-dimensional to me. However, by the end I could see why she might be important (as this is the first in a series), and hopefully Chu will flesh out her character and make her more likeable in the next book. A Tai Chi master named Sifu Lin was a fantastic character with a Yoda vibe to him. But for me, Roen and Tao stole the show. Not only are they great characters by themselves, but the friendship that develops between them is priceless.

About nine chapters into the book, Tao begins to tell Roen his history, in the form of short paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter. In this way, the reader starts to get an idea of just how broad an influence the Quasing have had over the human race. It was a brilliant way to convey a lot of information in a subtle way, without the dreaded “info-dump.” Tao describes the ongoing war between the Genjix and the Prophus, which escalates into unspeakable horrors as each act of vengeance spins out of control. Chu wisely gives Tao a fatal human flaw: despite having lived for thousands of years, he continues to make the same mistakes over and over again. Including some cool ideas in these history lessons, like imprisoning the enemy Quasing in the body of a turtle for hundreds of years, made me downright giddy!

And the emotional payoff I mentioned at the beginning of this review? Just as the reader starts to invest in the characters, the author puts everyone in danger, and you won’t know who makes it until the last page. Chu doesn’t leave us hanging at the end, but he does set things up for book two, The Deaths of Tao, out this October.

Full of heart, humor, danger and a couple of jaw-dropping moments of “what if,” The Lives of Tao is highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.

Find The Lives of Tao: Goodreads * Amazon * Wesley Chu’s Website

I’m happy to report I’m doing an interview with Wesley in a couple of weeks, and I’ll be giving away my (rare and precious) ARC  of The Lives of Tao to one U.S. winner! Follow this blog so you don’t miss it!

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THE PROPHECY by Rachel Deagan – BOOK BLITZ + GIVEAWAY!

ProphecyBlitzBannerI’m happy to be a part of the Book Blitz for The Prophecy by Rachel Deagan, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours! Keep reading to find out more about the book and the author, read an excerpt, and enter a giveaway for a copy of The Prophecy:

Prophecy

The Prophecy by Rachel Deagan
Publication date: February 8th, 2013
Genre:
YA Urban Fantasy/Science Fiction

“The cards tell me of the children of the stars.”

Jacey thinks her life is worthless, when she finds herself in a psychiatric hospital after a failed attempt to end her life; her wounds miraculously healed. Devin, who claims to kill on touch, is also there. When Michael arrives, bearing telekinetic powers, he insists the government, and an even darker, more powerful force, wants them dead.

In a desperate attempt to escape for their lives, the three teens find they must confront an even greater adversary, themselves – and with a prophecy forced upon them, they must find a way to accept their fate, or rebel together, as one.

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Purchase The Prophecy from Amazon here.

About the Author:

RachelRachel Deagan 

Rachel grew up in small town Massachusetts where she spent most of her time writing about strange paranormal creatures instead of paying attention in class. She has always been considered the ‘dreamy’ one with her head in the clouds. She now lives in Nevada with her two sons, a cat, and a rat named Sam.

Author Links:

Website * Goodreads * Facebook * Twitter:

Read an excerpt from the novel:

Michael grabbed us both by the arms, as he bolted for the fully closed and barred window, which faced nothing but blacktop and honking cars below. “Don’t worry, we’ve got Jacey. Heal us, love.”

I didn’t have time to think about what that meant. He let go of me briefly as he extended his arm in front of him. The bars snapped and the glass exploded free from the pane in an array of pixelated fragments—colored jewels against the starry sky. “Close your eyes,” Michael said, as he took my arm, and leapt through.

Everything dropped away as I fell. Time had momentarily suspended, and the air around me hollered in my ears. In the distance I heard men yelling, and even the crack of a gunshot—at least it sounded like one—but that commotion was soon drowned out by the low hum of car engines and blasting horns. My senses caught up to me as I saw the pavement closing in.

I was going to die.

“Tuck your chin and roll” Michael’s words sounded faint through the rush in my ears. “It’ll lessen the impact.”

A billion thoughts flushed through my mind faster than I would have thought humanly possible, the main one being: He’s insane. What’s the point? Even so, in a last-ditch effort to survive, I closed my eyes and bent my chin to my chest, just as the ground met me.

The bones in my upper back cracked with the impact, along with a stinging roar of pain. I felt my legs bounce, as I rolled out onto the blacktop. A buzz sounded in my head. I couldn’t move. The sound of a car skidding, its tires ripping with the smell of burnt rubber, shuddered through me, and then everything went white.

Now for the giveaway! You can enter to win one of two paperback copies (U.S. & Canada) of The Prophecy or one of two Kindle copies (International)! CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER!

Many thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for hosting this book blitz!

Xpresso Book Tours

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THE MAD SCIENTIST’S DAUGHTER by Cassandra Rose Clarke – Review

Mad Scientist's DaughterThe Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Genre: Adult Science Fiction

Publisher: Angry Robot

Release Date: January 29 2013

Pages: 380

Source: ARC from publisher

five stars

In a word: Strange, melancholy, heartbreaking, and nostalgic.

“They went into his room and she climbed backwards onto his bed, the bed he never slept in because he did not need to sleep, and pulled him on top of her. She took off his shirt, kissed his pale, hairless chest. He had no heartbeat but she could hear something spinning inside of him. She was entranced by it. Like white noise, like the recorded sound of stars.”

The story—girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy back—may sound familiar, but Clarke’s execution of it is anything but. Once again I have been surprised by a book. This seems to be happening a lot lately, for which I am very grateful. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a reading rut and every book I read feels just like the one before. But The Mad Scientist’s Daughter reminded me of a couple of books I haven’t read in years, books I loved dearly that still haunt me. It has the strange feel of Geoff Ryman’s The Child Garden, a terribly sad story that was ultimately so rewarding. It also sparked some of the same emotions I feel when reading anything by China Miéville. This beautifully written and sprawling tale takes place over many years and follows the relationship between Cat, a young girl trying to figure out her place in the world, and Finn, the android that comes to tutor Cat and assist her father.

Cat’s father, the “mad scientist” of the title, brings Finn home one day when Cat is very young. Finn is an adult android who is the only one of his kind. He looks and sounds human, but is unable to feel emotions. (Think Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.) Cat’s childhood is mostly happy and carefree, as she spends her days studying with Finn and roaming the forests near her home. As time passes and Cat grows into a young woman, she realizes that she is falling in love with Finn—but that he can never love her back. When Finn decides to sell himself to the government and go to the moon to work on the Lunar Station, Cat is forced to evaluate her true feelings for Finn.

The setting of The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a future America that has been devastated by an unexplained disaster, an event that has left many families struggling to survive. Cat’s family is luckier than most since her father is a well-known engineer and works with robotics; nonetheless, an air of desolation and sadness lingers over everything.  Although this story is science fiction, it has such an old-fashioned feel to it, and the “nostalgic” label I used above describes the vibe perfectly. Details like robots and comm slates and computer monitors built into the walls of houses compete with cigarettes and worn clothing and dust, elements you don’t imagine when you think of a futuristic setting. This is one of the brilliant things Clarke does in her book, skewing our notion of what a science fiction story should be. The shiny toys of the future live side by side with human misery and despair, and the science fiction elements take a back seat to the more important human issues that Clarke is writing about.

As a main character, Cat was refreshingly different. She seems to go through life with little ambition, and I felt the choices she made were mostly out of boredom. She works as a “Vice Girl” selling hand-rolled cigarettes, and feeds her artistic leanings by creating tapestries on her loom. (One of my favorite parts of this story involves a tapestry Cat spends years making for Finn.) After Finn leaves, she meets a man named Richard and accepts his proposal of marriage because she can’t really think of a reason not to. Cat is not happy being married and is still pining for Finn, and it isn’t until Richard turns abusive that she finds the courage to leave him. As for Finn, you may think it would be difficult to root for an android with no emotions, but Finn was a big surprise for me. He starts out very robotic, but as the story progresses you can see that he is much more than just a tangle of wires and circuits. The blossoming relationship between Finn and Cat is tender and unexpected, and I loved some of the surprising moments they share, moments I don’t want to spoil for you.

Throughout the book the author explores the idea of sentience and what constitutes a human being, using Finn as the example. Cat has always believed Finn to be sentient, and she defends his rights to anyone who tries to call him “it.” But for me, the main theme of the story is isolation and how it can harm us. Cat spends her life trying to connect to other people and usually fails, but ironically she feels happiest when she is with Finn. The author captures the idea of lonely people circling around each other, coming together briefly and then separating again. I think it’s part of what makes this book so melancholy, but it also makes the times the characters do connect extra sweet.

This book is pretty special, and for readers who can appreciate unusual stories, this is one you shouldn’t miss.

Many thanks to Angry Robot for supplying a review copy. Quote is taken from an uncorrected proof and may be different from the finished copy.

You can purchase The Mad Scientist’s Daughter here and visit the author’s website here.

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There’s Still Time to Win a Copy of GHOST PLANET!

Do you love strong world-building,  lovable characters and a story that will keep you reading (and guessing!) until the last page? Then you will love Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher. My giveaway ends today, so click here to read my interview with Sharon and enter to win one of THREE paperback copies of Ghost Planet.

I also just found an extremely interesting article that Sharon wrote for Tor about how she took a crazy idea and turned it into a published novel. You can read it here.

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GHOST PLANET Interview with Sharon Lynn Fisher & Giveaway!

Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher
A Tor Mass Market
ISBN: 978-0-7653-6897-3
On Sale October 30 2012

I’m so excited to welcome Sharon Lynn Fisher to the blog today! Ghost Planet was such a great read (you can read my review here), and Sharon has been kind enough to answer some of my burning questions. I also have an excerpt from Ghost Planet that will make you want to read more. And don’t forget to read all the way to the end for a GIVEAWAY of the book!

Welcome Sharon! I’m thrilled to have you visiting Books, Bones & Buffy. Your idea of an alien ghost that attaches itself to each colonist and appears in the form of a dead loved one is so unique. How did you come up with the idea?

Thanks for having me, Tammy!

I was trying to think of a science fiction story idea for the Writers of the Future Contest. I had mostly written fantasy up to that point, but was having trouble coming up with unique ideas. The first thing that came to me was the title, and I asked myself what would be the story behind a world called GHOST PLANET.

Next came the idea for a first scene: A woman travels to an Earth-like world to work as a scientist, meets a man she’s attracted to, and discovers he’s an alien that’s tethered to her. Finally, the moment that really got me excited about this book: “The heroine should be the sexy alien. Only she doesn’t know it.”

The sci-fi classic SOLARIS has a similar premise (I discussed the connection over on SF Signal), but the two books go in very different directions.

Ghost Planet is a very character-driven story and focuses on different kinds of complex relationships. Did you find that writing in the science fiction genre gave you more freedom to explore unusual relationships?

Yes, that’s an insightful question! It’s what I love about both writing and reading speculative romance – exploring relationship dynamics in extreme or unique settings and situations. It really makes for some great conflict too!

By setting your story on another planet, it seems that you would have more freedom to invent details about Ardagh 1 and that research would take a backseat to the more creative parts of writing like character development. Did you have to do much research for Ghost Planet?

Ha ha, more good insights. It’s one reason I like writing fictional worlds: If you get a detail wrong, no one is going to call you on it because it’s all in your head! However, I did not manage to escape research. Since Ardagh 1 and its indigenous inhabitants are symbiotic, I had to research both symbiogenesis and Gaia theory. I also had to do research to help me fill in details about construction of the colonies.

I think world-building probably involves as much research as using a real location. In my second book for Tor I’m having to do both!

I was thrilled to read a science fiction romance, a genre that I’ll have to admit I have not seen or read a lot of. Do you plan on writing more in this genre, and do you have plans for another installment with Elizabeth and Murphy?

I am fairly new to writing this genre, myself, but am loving it. I like how including science-based elements in any type of story can help you come up with unique twists and angles.

My second book for Tor is a post-apocalyptic biopunk romance, about a man with praying mantis DNA and a human archivist-turned-sleeper-agent who is his prisoner. I do have an idea for a follow-up to GHOST PLANET, and am also thinking of writing a short story set soon after colonization.

I’m dying to see exactly what a “biopunk romance” is! OK, this is a two-part question. What writers do you love to read yourself, and have any of them influenced your own writing? And do you read a lot while you’re working on a manuscript? I know some writers worry about being too heavily influenced by other writers and try to stay away from reading completely while they write.

The bad news is I don’t seem to have much time for reading anymore! What with writing, promo, and being a mom. And yes, I do have to be careful reading while writing. I don’t think I’m influenced so much by story as by voice. If someone has a distinctive style I can find myself channeling it a bit.

As for writers I love, I’m a huge fan of classics, and love the Brontes, Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, and George Eliot to name a few. JANE EYRE is probably my favorite book, and it was also my “gateway” classic novel. I also always mention WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams, and A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle, both of which I read numerous times. WRINKLE was the first sci-fi book I loved. WATERSHIP is hard to explain, but it’s brilliant. I think I probably learned a lot about including mystery and plot twists from Adams.

WATERSHIP DOWN is one of my favorite books, too! I understand you’ve written a novel called ECHO 8. Is it available yet to purchase? Can you tell us a little bit about it?

ECHO 8 was my second RWA Golden Heart finalist manuscript. Here’s the pitch:

The fate of two worlds hangs in the balance as three lives entangle: Jake, a man shifted to an alternate Earth, where he must drain energy from others to survive. Tess, the parapsychologist trying to save him. Ross, the FBI agent torn between duty and his love for Tess.

There are some excerpts and such on my web site. It’s not available for purchase yet. Stay tuned!

I’m sure you’ve probably thought about this question! If you lived on Ardagh 1 and you could choose who your ghost would be, who would you choose?

Love this question! I answered it recently (a bit tongue-in-cheek) for a blog that used it for their giveaway. Jane Austen – I think she could give me good writing and relationship advice, and would keep me laughing. If you want me to stick to the rules and choose someone I personally knew, I’d have to say my Granny, for almost exactly the same reasons.

Thanks Sharon! And now, a teaser from Ghost Planet:

We trotted up half a dozen steps and were passing through the glass doors when Murphy said, “We’ll be scanned by security just inside. I hate them being here, raising people’s anxiety level in a place where we want them to feel safe. But all new arrivals pass through here, and someone decided it was a good idea.”

Thinking about the illicit-substance and weapons scans in all the airports and public buildings back home, I raised my eyebrows. “What’s it for?”

“To get a sort of fingerprint on everyone,” he explained, walking through the doorframe-shaped scanner. “Just to make sure we know who’s who. They can’t do it at the transport terminal because no one has ghosts when they first arrive.”

I followed him through the scanner, and a long beep sounded somewhere off to my left as I joined him inside. Murphy’s head jerked toward the sound. His eyes moved to the glass doors we’d just come through, and slowly back to me. He glanced at the security desk on our right.

“Where is it?” Murphy called to the guard, whose fingers were flying over his keyboard. The guard’s ghost leaned against the wall behind him, little more than a shadow.

The man stopped typing and looked up. “I’m sorry, Dr. Murphy?”

“I heard the alert go off, but I don’t see her. My ghost, Simon,” Murphy added, growing impatient. “Do you see her?”

The guard blinked at him a couple times. Then he cleared his throat. “She’s standing right next to you, Dr. Murphy.”

Find Sharon Lynn Fisher here:

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * IndieBound * BooksAMillion * Powells

And now for a Giveaway! Three winners will receive a paperback copy of Ghost Planet! JUST CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM. Contest goes until November 13th and is open to US & Canadian residents.

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