This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

31 January, 2012


Cover photograph: Getty Images
Cover design: Keenan


ISBN: 978-0-340-97716-3
Pages: 353
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: 12 November 2008

On the cover:
   "Did you maybe leave the oven on? or forget to turn off the gas under your patio barbecue? What about the lock on your back door? Did you remember to give it a twist? Things like that are so easy to forget, and someone could be slipping in right now..."*

   A blind girl visits a dying man and saves his life...with a kiss. A crime writer is faced with a real crime - and has to draw upon his alter-ego for courage. And a young couple seek the bright lights of a nearby town - and end up playing the jukebox for eternity.

   What would you do if your everyday world were turned upside down?

   *From the author's afterword.

   As usual I'll give a short review of each story in this anthology before I conclude with my overall impression.


   It's not east to see what this story is really about in the beginning, and when you do realise it doesn't come as a huge surprise considering who the author is. I found it a very thoughtful story about perceptions and expectations, and it is in my opinion a very good story that has some moments of melancholy beauty. It's a great start to the collection that gets you excited to read on.


   This story about a woman who runs away from her husband suddenly takes a sharp turn. What we then get is a tense suspense-filled tale that is full of action. It's the longest story in the collection, but King really draws the reader in and it is a fast read that may have you cringing at times.


   A chilling story about a man telling his wife of a dream he has had during the night. This may not seem like much to base a horror story on, but in this case it is a good basis. King really manages to accomplish much with few words here, proving that he is as much a master of short stories as he is of masonry-sized novels. -And I just loved the ending.


   An author on his way home hears a man beating his girlfriend/wife at an otherwise empty rest stop. This is a pretty conventional story but it has got the Stephen King twist added to it, there's another layer to it that makes it better than it otherwise could have been. A story that shows King can be good without adding any supernatural elements.


   A check-up at the doctor leads an artist to take up training, and sends him down a road that may lead to insanity. While I really enjoyed this story, I I felt it was too short, and I would have liked King to have explored it in a longer format. As it stands it is a very good story that leaves you craving for more to be really satisfied.


   This is a story about memories and what makes you remember. King himself says it is an idea that came to him soon after 9/11. It's a very good story, respectful without being preachy.


   The shortest story in this collection is a pretty strange one by King-standards. There's plenty of information given for such a short story, and we actually get a well developed background for the main character. A very good story that proves you can tell a lot with a few words.


   Can you say "Lovecraftian Horror"? King has managed to create a very good modern version of some of H.P. Lovecraft's tales. If you have read Lovecraft you may not find very original, but king does it very well. And this is one story worth getting hold of for everyone who is into Lovecraft.
Note: King mentions inspiration from an earlier writer than Lovecraft in the notes. While that may be correct, I wouldn't hesitate to call this a Lovecraftian-style tale.


   A story about a hit man and a cat. It's a really good story with a slightly creepy ending. One for those who love cats, but also great for those who find cats to be somewhat creepy. Personally I love cats and thoroughly enjoyed this story.


   This story is about a phone call. It's a pretty standard paranormal story but King does it very well. There is also some interesting ideas in it that elevates it above other stories with similar themes. A good quick read.


   It isn't often you get a story about a confessional in church that is this interesting. It is not really horror, in fact it is barely thriller, but as most of King's stories it still has that feel to it. I really liked this one, it's an Tales of the Unexpected-type story, and a good one at that.


   This is a man's story about miracles. Not really my kind of story, and I didn't really feel it had much to say either. This is the weakest story in the collection. The craftsmanship is as good as the other stories but this was just not my cup of tea.


   The last story in this collection is the tale of a neighbour feud taken to the extreme. King is on great form here, and the story turns suitably disgusting. One of the best stories in this collection.


   This is a great collection of short stories. For me there was only one real miss here, and if you have read a few short story collections and anthologies you'll know that it is rare that the rate of good stories is so high.
   This is of course essential for anyone who likes King. But it is also a good collection for anyone who enjoys short stories and/or horror in general. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone, and I think it is a good tarting point for anyone who has read little or no short stories too.
    I should also add that King gives us notes about each of the stories at the back. I find that interesting to read, and think that would be an extra value to both readers and anyone who writes themselves.

24 January, 2012


Cover illustration: Steve Stone


ISBN: 978-0-553-81311-1
Pages: 934
Publisher: Bantam Books
First published: 1 September 2000
This edition published: 1 October 2001

On the cover:

   In the Holy Desert Raraku, the seer Sha'ik and her followers prepare for the long-prophesied uprising named the Whirlwind. Enslaved in the Otataral mines, Felisin, youngest scion of the disgraced House of Paran, dreams of freedom and vows revenge, while the outlawed Bridgeburners Fiddler and Kalam conspire to rid the world of Empress Laseen (although it seems the gods would, as always, have it otherwise). And as two ancient worriors - bearers of a devastating secret - enter this blighted land, so an untried commander of the Malaz 7th Army leads his war-weary troops in a last, valiant running battle to save the lives of thisrty thousand refugees.

   As in Gardens of the Moon this is a complex story. Erikson again presents us with several story threads and a large cast of characters, some of which will be familiar from the first book, but many which are new.
   The different storylines are all part of the whole, and sometimes they weave together - often in unexpected ways. It can be hard at times to follow everything that is going on. There is just so much happening to keep track of. But Erikson is good at rewarding the reader, as the story progresses more and more of the overall events are revealed.
   There's is also a strength in the way it is difficult to get a good idea of what is going to happen, and in some cases it is even hard to get a good grip on what is happening at that moment. I for one was several times surprised by events both large and small, and there are some twists that really will take you by surprise.

   Arguably the main storyline in this novel is the one with the 7th Malaz Army and the refugees it leads. This storyline is a gruelling march through a land that is often unforgiving, not only for the characters but also for the reader.
   Erikson has written some of the best battle-scenes ever put on paper. He really shows he has a knack for pulling you into the action, and you shouldn't be surprised if you find yourself with your heart in your throat as the battle rages on the page.
   This storyline is also a draining one, I found myself emotionally exhausted by the time it reaches its conclusion. In many ways the end is as brutal for the reader as it is for the warriors. If you are at all capable of feeling empathy for fictional characters this is a story that will stick with you.

   The world we are presented here is very real, it doesn't feel as much worldbuilding as it feels like history. The reader will learn a lot more about the setting as the story progresses. And, to me at least, it didn't really feel like it is a made-up world. Erikson has managed to make the Malazan world come to life very vividly, and even with a weaker story it would be a compelling place to visit.
   We also learn more about the magic of the world, and about the ever-present gods. And I liked that Erikson manages to give the reader a lot of information without it ever feeling like he is resorting to infodumping.

   I can't deny that I loved this book. And I see it as a very good example of how Epic Fantasy can be done very well. There's characters and a story here that will drag you in, and complexity and realism that will keep you going.
   But I have to say that this book takes commitment. I had a few days break about 200 pages into, and it took a while to get back into it. So I suggest that you give this book everything you got as a reader, if you do it will reward you and take you on one hell of a journey.

Review: Gardens of the Moon

Links: Steven Erikson  Bantam Books/Transworld Books

23 January, 2012


Cover design: Blacksheep


ISBN: 978-1-85723-135-9
Pages: 411
Publisher: Orbit
First published: 13 September 1990
This edition published: 26 March 1992

The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances' foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks or military action.

The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought.

The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman’s life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a burnt-out case. But not even its machine intelligence could see the horrors in his past.

   This is the third in the series of Culture novels. And as the others this is technically a stand alone novel. Even though I came late to Banks' Culture and am reading them in publication order, I find it refreshing that he has chosen to not make an endless series, but instead tells different stories set in the same universe.
   There is a steady trickle of information about the Culture here, and reading them in order will give you a feeling that the world(/universe) is growing, much like you would get in a Fantasy novel when the characters travel to different areas of the map.

   This time we get the story of "super-spy" Cheradenine Zakalwe, a character it is very easy to write off a "outer space James Bond". Comparisons to Bond are almost inevitable, and I noted it myself, but I felt that this was a much more realistic portrayal of such an agent. And there certainly is much more to Zakalwe than just being a Bond clone.

   Banks actually give us two stories in this novel, the main linear plot and a side-plot consisting of the story of Zakalwe. These two narratives work very well together, instead of taking attention away from each other they serve to give more depth, and the "B-story" doesn't feel like it is thrown in to increase the page-count, as is sometime the case.
   Both plots keep building up suspense as they progress, and this keeps up the level of suspense as you are reading. And you are rewarded with a reveal that, to me at least, was pretty mind-blowing.

   All in all this is a great book. Both the characters and the story is very interesting and the Culture setting just gets better the more you read about it. I can see the reason that Banks is hailed by many as the master of Space Opera.
   This is a great book for fans of Science Fiction, and the Culture series makes a good start to written SF for those who like SF movies but have never gotten around to reading Science Fiction.

Reviews: Consider Phlebas  The Player of Games

Links: Iain M. Banks  Orbit

04 January, 2012


   This is a bit late. I was planning to post this on New Years Eve, but my internet has not been cooperating (again).
   The list below is not a list of "best books published in 2011", it's a list of what I feel are the highlights of what I have been reading in 2011, so some of the books were published some years back. Anyway, here we go:


GJENFERD by Jo Nesbø

This is the latest of Nesbø's Harry Hole books, it was published in Norwegian on 9 June 2011. The English (UK) edition is out 15 March 2012 and is called Phantom (, see here for more info on UK edition).

I love Nesbø's books and this was no exception. If you're reading his books in English you have a treat coming.


After reading these two books, I can't help but wonder why it took me so long to get started on this series. I plan to read the rest of the books this year.

VEGAS KNIGHTS by Matt Forbeck

This was fun and action filled, and I found it to be great entertainment. 
Forbeck was a new author for me, and I look forward to reading more of his books.

EMBEDDED by Dan Abnett

This is actually the first Military Science Fiction novel I have read, and if this is representative for that genre I'll certainly read more of it.
Abnett was also a new author for me, and I'm eying several of his books for later reading.


Historical (Medieval) Crime. I love history, and especially the Medieval period, so this book was perfect for me. I'm going to read more of Sansom's books in the future.
I would never have known this book existed if Amanda Rutter hadn't sent it to me as part of her World Book Night sharing. And I owe her a big thank you for that.

Thank you very much, Amanda!


These books are great Fantasy books. Anyone who doesn't hate dragons should read them. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment.
Deas is another new author for me, and I will definitely seek out his other books.

BONESHAKER by Cherie Priest

This book falls into the Steampunk category. Unlike most Steampunk, it is set in the US or to be more specific, Seattle.
I thought this was great and look forward to reading the follow-up books.
This is becoming quite the trend in this post, but this is a new author to me, one I will be following.

HARBOR by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Swedish set psychological horror. A great book.
Blah, blah, new author etc...


   Other authors who might as well be on this list (, but didn't make it because I felt it was long enough already); Sam Sykes, Mark Charan Newton, Gail Carriger, M. D. Lachlan, Blake Charlton, Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm, K. W. Jeter, Stephen King and K. J. Parker.

   You may notice that I haven't reviewed all of these books. The reason is my internet has been really crappy in 2011, but most of the books mentioned will get reviewed as soon as I can get to it.


   I plan on getting an internet connection that works when I want to use it and not when it feels like it, so I can get back to blogging more regularly.
   As for reading, my goal is to read at least 100 books this year, and I plan to review all of them

   I hope 2012 turns out to be a great year for all of you :-)