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Excerpt – The War Against the Assholes


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The War Against the AssholesThe fine folks over at Saga Press (through their PR firm) were kind enough to send me a review copy of this book, but since I’m a bit backed up on my reading, I asked nicely if they could send me over an excerpt to share with everyone while you’re waiting on me to read the book and do an actual review. They obliged, and below you’ll find a nice excerpt from Sam Munson’s book, The War Against the Assholes. I should note that I had some issues with the formatting of the excerpt, so please excuse any strange bits and bobs as they are probably my fault and not that of the publisher.

Enjoy.

The barrel hole steady. A dark eye. It echoed the bruise under the tip of her pale chin. “Just be calm, Michael,” said Hob. The crane moaned. “We’re getting close,” said Charthouse. I tried to crouch, to get stable. “Stand up,” said Alabama. I was still thinking about what she would look like naked. “Where did you get that bruise,” I said. “Listen to Charthouse,” she said. I was more concerned with the gun. “Did you come to us of your own free will,” he asked me. “Are you joking,” I said. “Don’t be disingenuous,” said Charthouse, “Alabama will shoot you.” “Yes,” I said. It was for the most part true. “With no promises or inducements,” he asked. I looked at Hob. “You gave me all that whiskey or whatever it was, does that count,” I asked. “‘Whatever it was,’” said Chartreuse. “That’s eloquent,” said Alabama. “Does not count, by the way,” said Vincent. The wind moved the loose cloth of Charthouse’s dark windbreaker. Purple, eggplant purple. White stripes down the sleeves. A robe. I thought, His windbreaker looks like a robe. I am literal minded. Secret of my success. Such as it is. “And what do you mean it’s the valley of bones,” I said. A stupid question. “It’s a metaphor,” said Alabama, “now get moving.” “But what do you mean, though,” I said. Another stupid question. “Son, you know what she means,” said Charthouse. Alabama twitched the gun toward the outer edge of the platform. “Turn and get walking,” she said, “or you know the deal.” I didn’t move. She widened her stance. My bladder ached. I thought about pissing myself. I didn’t. I walked up to the platform edge and stared down. More levels like the one we stood on, more blaring lights in cages. I heard a clicking sound. I knew it was Alabama chambering a round. Drawing back the hammer. Had to be. “All right, you ready,” said Charthouse. “For what, ready for what,” I said. “You should feel lucky,” said Charthouse, “few get the chance.” “He doesn’t look ready,” said Vincent. “Shut up,” said Hob, and then to me: “Don’t listen, it’s totally fine, trust me.” This I had trouble with. “I don’t know what the salto is,” I said, “and I don’t know how to take it.” “I trust you can figure it out,” said Alabama. “She’s right,” said Charthouse, “it’s not genius-level perception we’re talking about here.”

At the bottom of the shaft, two-by-fours, cement sacks, eleven wheelbarrows. I counted them twice. A yellow hard-hat topping a pile of white dust. “Valley of bones,” crowed Charthouse. “I don’t see any bones,” I said. I knew I was going to die. These cocksuckers were going to kill me for no reason. “You lack a sense for poetry,” said Charthouse. True. I’m no poet. I’m no philosopher, either. I wasn’t then. I was a kid suffering an already-coming-on hangover, standing on top of a building with a hot girl pointing a gun at him and ordering him to take the salto. “I don’t know what that means,” I said, “I don’t.” “Just jump,” said Hob. “Or she’ll shoot you,” said Vincent, “and I’ve seen her do it before.” You could tell by their reedy voices they were brothers. In the shaft, wind-carried fragments of paper circled. On the streets below, the amber and red lights of cars. The air smelled like snow. “Nothing hard to understand about it,” said Alabama. “He’s not going to do it,” said Vincent. “I didn’t say that,” I called. “You have a point,” said Charthouse, “but you need to decide.” I pushed my toes over the wooden lip. “Can I just ask you one thing real quick,” I said. “Last question,” said Charthouse. “How does the rug get back down flat if you close the hatch behind you when you come down. In the store, I mean.” Charthouse hooted a long laugh. The cold wind whistled. “You’re an observant guy,” he said. “And you might even find out. But right now you need to decide.” So I decided. I didn’t want to get shot in the back. I took three breaths. I clenched my teeth. I leaped into the empty air.

Excerpted from THE WAR AGAINST THE ASSHOLES by Sam Munson. Copyright 2015 by Sam Munson. Published by Saga Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Sam Munson’s writing has appeared in n+1, Tablet, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The National, The Daily Beast,Commentary, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Observer, The Utopian, and numerous other publications.
His first novel, The November Criminals, is being adapted into a film starring Ansel Elgort and Chloe Moretz, and will be released by Sony Pictures Worldwide in spring 2016.
His latest novel, The War Against the Assholes, is out this summer from Simon & Schuster’s Saga Press. He lives in Harlem with his wife and son. Visit him on the web at http://sammunson.com/

The Fold by Peter Clines Giveaway!


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I’ve reviewed a few books by Peter Clines here before, and I’ve loved each and every one of them. I’ll be reviewing his newest book, The Fold sometime in the near future too. But, in the mean time, I’ve got a copy to give away! You can record your entries below.

The Fold

The giveaway is open to US Residents only. It starts now, and will close at midnight on the night of June 26th, 2015.

The Fold by Peter Clines

Persona


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Persona

By: Genevieve Valentine

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

The best way I can describe this is as a sci-fi thriller.  It’s set in a near-future world where something like the UN rules the world and the diplomats that we see on the television are nothing more than faces that do and say what the rest of their committee says.

By the end of the book, I found myself rooting for the main character and wanting to know more about what the future holds for her.  The secondary character is just as well written.  Overall, the plot and writing were well done, and the story was well executed.

If you’re a fan of science fiction that takes place in a world that’s only a few degrees from the world that we live in, you should give Persona a try.  I really enjoyed it, and am hoping that there’s a sequel upcoming.

 

Little Black Lies


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Little Black Lies

By: Sandra Block

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again.  I really like it when a book grabs hold of me as a reader and drags me into the story.  It’s something special when a story is so well written that you jump into it and end up trying to find any extra time that you can to advance further into it.  Little Black Lies was such a book.

The one bad thing that I have to say about this book is that I had the ending figured out about half way through the book.  But, even with that fact, I still raced through it to find out if I was right.  The story is a gripping one that is fast paced and easy to read.  The characters that Block has written are both believable and lovable.

I’m not really sure how best to classify this book.  It’s both a psychological suspense and a detective book of sorts.  A mashup of genres if you want to call it that, I suppose.  In the end, it’s a highly readable book in either case.

Righteous Fury


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Righteous Fury

By: Markus Heitz

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

This is the first book by Heitz that I’ve read.  The book, along with most of the rest of Heitz’s books were originally published in his native German before being translated over into English for those of us who are mono-lingual.  There’s a series that comes before this series, The Dwarves series.  From what I can tell from other reviews, and from having read this book, it’s not necessary to have read any of the other books in order to read this one.  The Dwarves series, as it’s name implies, tells the stories from the perspectives of the dwarves in this world, while Righteous Fury is the first in the Alfar series told from the perspective of the Alfar.

The Alfar are Heitz’s version of a dark elf.  At least, from what I can tell.  They’re an evil race with visual similarities to the Elven race.  The two main characters are Alfar who begin as rivals, but are forced to get along in order to execute on a plan that their rulers have chosen them for.  From there, we’re led through a journey as they fight amongst themselves, as well as with many of the other inhabitants of the world.

It’s hard for me to comment much on the actual writing of a book that’s been translated.  By default, when translated, the language had to be restructured in that most languages have a different grammatical structure than English.  So, I just won’t.  I can comment on the structure of the story though.  From a structure piece, there were a few places where it was a bit weak, and it seemed like we jumped from some dire circumstance right into the saving action.  Perhaps it was necessary, but it almost felt like the story had been written into a corner and it was the most convenient way of getting it out.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  It’s a well written fantasy story that doesn’t extend itself into the length of the epic tomes that seem to be dominating the market just now.  I suppose it bears warning that the main characters are evil Alfar, so you’ve got to be able to get through a few grotesque descriptions and overall evilness of the people in order to really enjoy the story.

 

Pardon The Ravens


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Pardon the Ravens

By: Alan Hruska

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

Ravens is billed as a legal thriller.  In that regard, I think it falls down.  While it is technically set with a main character that is a lawyer, and has some legal elements in it because of that, there’s very little of it that really qualifies it as a legal thriller, in my mind.  It does live up to the thriller part of that though.  From very nearly the start to the end, there’s plenty of twists and turns as the characters find a way to make plans then have them tossed and turned by events.

Hruska’s writing is pretty good.  Some of the dialogue felt a bit flat, but overall, that characters were well rounded and easy to understand.  This is a thriller, so don’t expect to get heaps of plot.  You get a main issue, with a few minor plot lines and an ultimate tying up of the main plot.

If you like thrillers (with a side helping of legal) that are quick reads and well done, Pardon the Ravens is worth the pickup.

Lucifer’s Hammer


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Lucifer’s Hammer

By: Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

Of the many genre’s I read, my favorites are Science Fiction, Fantasy, and the subset of both called Apocalyptic fiction.  If you look at most lists of the influential novels in those genres, you’ll most likely find Lucifer’s Hammer.  That’s what convinced me that I needed to add it to my to-read list and, eventually, to get around to reading it.  Having read it, I see why it’s on many of those lists.

Hammer is a novel that is based around the discovery of a new comet, and the eventual meeting of that comet with planet Earth.  The story follows a host of characters that are involved in some way before the comet arrives and then after it arrives.  Having been written in the late 70’s, some of the ideas and references are dated, but the writing has certainly stood the test of time.

Nearly the first half of the book is spent building up to the eventual impact of the comet.  We meet the characters who all have their own independent lives, and are led through so many avenues of how people might feel should they be faced with a comet that is going to pass threateningly close to Earth.  After the comet arrives, we get a wonderful post-apocalyptic story about the survival of the human race, and how those humans react to the upsetting of the world as they know it.

Lucifer’s Hammer is a great apocalyptic story that’s maintained that story despite being almost 4 decades old.  If you’re at all interested in apocalyptic fiction and haven’t read it yet, now’s the time to add it to your list.

A Better World


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A Better World (Brilliance Saga #2)

By: Marcus Sakey

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

A Better World is the second book in the Brilliance Saga, a series of books about an evolution in the human race, and how the world reacts to it.  It will elicit lots of comparisons to the popular X-Men comic books, although the “mutations” are not as pronounced as they are in X-Men.  In a way, the evolutions in the world of Brilliance are a bit more believable.  The main character, for instance, has an advanced ability to recognize patterns and use those recognitions to anticipate what it is that people are going to do before they do them.  Another character has an evolved perception of time where each second for a non-brilliant is perceived as 11 seconds to him.

The world, and the characters that live in it, are all believable written. Of course, there’s a certain level of suspension of belief if you’re to fully immerse yourself into the story, but that is pretty easy in this case.  The plot lends itself to a quick read that draws the reader deeper until you find yourself pulling from all your spare time to finish it up and find out what happens.  That’s a huge sign of a great book.

If you’re a fan of well written science fiction without spaceships, or love a story with a great human story to it, the Brilliance Saga should find it’s way onto your reading list.

 

Scarlet Tides


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Scarlet Tides (Moontide Quartet #2)

By David Hair

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

In my review of the first Moontide Quartet book, Mage’s Blood, I closed with some pretty hefty praise:

When completed, the Moontide Quartet, of which Mage’s Blood is the first book, will likely be thought of as one of the best examples, in recent memory, of epic fantasy.

Fortunately, the second book in the series didn’t disappoint.  Hair maintained the same level of excellent storytelling that was throughout the first book while escaping some of the heavy world building that was necessary in Mage’s Blood.  Where some authors might be content to leave the same amount of story in a book, and just write a shorter book without as much world building, Hair didn’t do that.  Scarlet Tides is still a heavy tome with lots of excellent story inside of it.  The magic system becomes even more fleshed out as things are revealed, the world grows with new locations and characters, and there were a minimum of 3 or 4 double-cross plot twists that brought a fun level of “what next” to the story.

The copy I read was an ARC, so I won’t say too much about the writing.  There were some obvious grammatical and spelling issues, but that’s to be expected when it isn’t a final draft.  I’m sure the finished version has all of that nailed down.  Those typical ARC issues aside, Hair’s style is one that still screams epic fantasist to me.  The books are long and full of really deep character development.

If you’re a fan of epic fantasy, you’ll want to pick up Mage’s Blood and Scarlet Tides and give them a read through.  Mage’s Blood has a 3.82 star rating at Goodreads, and Scarlet Tides is currently holding on to a 4.32 star rating.

Traitor’s Blade


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Traitor’s Blade

By: Sebastien De Castell

Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.

I’m a big fan of fantasy novels.  The Name of the Wind is one of my favorite novels of all time.  I set a pretty high bar when it comes to fantasy.  It has to be fun to read.  I don’t want to get mired down in uber complex magic systems that the author takes half the novel to describe and explain.  Exposition is good in small doses, but I read fantasy to indulge in something fantastical, not long sections of droll.

Traitor’s Blade avoids all of that stuff I don’t like about fantasy, and excels at all the stuff I do like.  In fact, it’s easily in the top 5 books I’ve read so far this year.  It tells the story of three Greatcoats.  The Greatcoats were the elite guard of the King.  Until the King was usurped and beheaded.  Now, they’re labeled as traitors (thus the name of the novel) and cutthroats.

Traitor’s Blade pulled me into it’s world quickly, and the writing and plot kept me there for long periods of time.  Sure signs of a well written story.  It falls somewhere between the shorter fantasy novels and the epic ones.  It’s an excellent read that any fan of fantasy will enjoy on every page.


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