CRYPT #1: The Gallows Curse by Andrew Hammond

The police is calling it a terrorist attack, but Jud knows better. It was ghosts. Ghosts murdered the subway riders. Ghosts pulled out the victims' tongues and stabbed them in their eyeballs. Not terrorists. You can tell from the "crazy ramblings" of the survivors, but no one will believe them, just like no one believed that ghosts, not he, killed his mom years ago. The only reason why Jud is not locked up is because people don't really know who he truly is. His father has given him a new identity, and has asked him to join his secret organization, CRYPT.  Any case that MI6 thinks has anything to do with paranormal activity goes to CRYPT, and the group is not particularly welcomed by others. Not only are people skeptical about the existence of ghosts, but the group is also a laughing stock because the team is made up of... teenagers.  What do they know?

If you're not prepared for an intense ride, don't pick up this book. The first ten pages or so will show you right away that the author is not kidding and he's not going to let you go easy.  If a reader is looking for thrills and chills, he/she will be hooked right away. The vivid goriness is at its best, but the rest of the writing somewhat pales in comparison, and the lines, like characters puking at crime scenes, can get repetitive and old. Nevertheless, CRYPT is an interesting spinoff from the teen spy fiction genre, and readers will sympathize with Jud's daily struggle, pretending to be another person, one who can't even talk to his own father, and living in fear that someone may recognize him.  It will be interesting to read the rest of the series and see how Jud and the other characters develop.

Here's the book trailer:

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Article: Thinking outside the (X) box

I've talked about video game books a bit before, but here is an article that really gets into what they are all about.  One quote in the article that really jumps out to me, and really is why I talk about video games books so frequently.  From the National Post's Mark Medley, quoting Hugo Award winning SF author and video game adapter Greg Bear:

Bear hopes the [Halo prequel] trilogy acts as a sort of gateway drug for gamers who might not be regular readers.
“These people haven’t read a lot of science fiction,” he notes. “And with the Halo trilogy … they’re being introduced to Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, my own fiction — all that sort of stuff. The classic SF that I was raised on in the 1950s.”

These books aren't always very good (often not), but they are still worthwhile.  Read the article here.
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How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein

I'm Canadian, but curiosity knows no borders, so even if the book is almost exclusively about the US, it still catches my attention.  Especially if the book is about borders.  How the States Got Their Shapes is such a book.  In 50 chapters, it explains how each US state became as oddly shaped, regardless of physical geography.  The book is, in other words, exactly what the title says it is.

Shapes is great for history and trivia buffs. the book does provide frequent historical context on why things are, include brief overviews of colonial America, Canada and Mexico, plus plenty of wars.  The chapters are bite-sized, no more than a couple of pages per state, and it does get a bit repetitive, but it is well worth a look.

This would be particularly of interest to fans of Maphead by Ken Jennings
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Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride

See also our review on the first book Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.

Oh, how nice it is to see Sam and the gang in action again. What I love most about this series is the cast, so I am happy to read about them doing just about anything and eavesdrop on their conversation.

There is a good story in the sequel Necromancing the Stone too of course. Now that Sam has killed the evil Douglas, he has to adjust to his new life as he takes Douglas' place on the magical council as the necromancer. Unsure of his power and guilty about the changes he's caused in his friends (after all, one of them has been turned into a ghost and the other a werebear), he is not feeling any love either from the magical council, his girlfriend's entire clan, not even the garden gnomes in his new mansion.

When a mysterious murder happens, everyone is looking towards Sam to prove himself by finding the killer, and he better does it quickly, since the evidence all points to the victim dying at the hands of a necromancer. Now, wait a second, isn't Sam the only necromancer left?
Yes, he is.

As crazy as Necromancing the Stone sounds, with a full ensemble of any paranormal creatures you can imagine (and some you never dream of), the book is ultimately about a boy growing up, being thrown into a strange world of responsibility, and trying to do the right thing.  McBride's writing is plenty funny and witty and the dialogue is spot on, and yes, there is swearing but never excessive. The additions of James the house spirit and Minion round up an already charming cast. You'll smile when you figure out who Minion is supposed to be.

Visit Lish McBride's website and follow @TeamDamnation on Twitter.

And what do you guys think of the redesigned covers?

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