Chaos Theory Run Wild in Oracle Year by Charles Soule

“a cup of room coffee,” Will said. “It’s terrible, tastes like chemicals and poison.” 
― Charles Soule, The Oracle Year

About

From bestselling comic-book franchise writer Charles Soule comes a clever and witty first novel of a twentysomething New Yorker who wakes up one morning with the power to predict the future—perfect for fans of Joe Hill and Brad Meltzer, or books like This Book Is Full of Spiders and Welcome to Night Vale.

Knowledge is power. So when an unassuming Manhattan bassist named Will Dando awakens from a dream one morning with 108 predictions about the future in his head, he rapidly finds himself the most powerful man in the world. Protecting his anonymity by calling himself the Oracle, he sets up a heavily guarded Web site with the help of his friend Hamza to selectively announce his revelations. In no time, global corporations are offering him millions for exclusive access, eager to profit from his prophecies.

He’s also making a lot of high-powered enemies, from the President of the United States and a nationally prominent televangelist to a warlord with a nuclear missile and an assassin grandmother. Legions of cyber spies are unleashed to hack the Site—as it’s come to be called—and the best manhunters money can buy are deployed not only to unmask the Oracle but to take him out of the game entirely. With only a handful of people he can trust—including a beautiful journalist—it’s all Will can do to simply survive, elude exposure, and protect those he loves long enough to use his knowledge to save the world.

Delivering fast-paced adventure on a global scale as well as sharp-witted satire on our concepts of power and faith, Marvel writer Charles Soule’s audacious debut novel takes readers on a rollicking ride where it’s impossible to predict what will happen next.


Stats

“if she let you live, she would use her apparently endless levels of influence to ruin your life”

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Edition
  • 416 pages
  • Published April 3rd 2018 by Harper Perennial
  • Original Title The Oracle Year
  • ASIN B072HLSHDY
  • Edition Language English

My Thoughts

“It was like trying to play chess in a pitch-dark room, where you had to determine your opponent’s moves by sense of smell alone. And you had a cold. And your opponent was God.” 
― Charles Soule, The Oracle Year

How can 108 predictions destroy the world? In a wildly exciting and entertaining way. The real question is whether that world can be born anew from the ashes?

The Oracle Year is the story of Will Dando, struggling bassist and all around regular guy who happens upon 108 prophecies. He received in a dream. With the help of his Best friend Hamza, they create an anonymous website and release the prophesies slowly to the world, allowing each of them time to come true. What happens, is what always happens in a story when someone has ultimate power. The real forces in the world want that power and will do everything to get it back. It’s a fascinating thought experiment. What would you do if you knew what was going to happen? Would you try to make money? Would you try to save the world, or would you decide to change the world? Soule does an excellent job of making Will into a real character with real decisions and choices. Will isn’t brilliant, he’s a dude who likes music, and as the story progresses, Will’s personality changes and makes choices that the reader won’t see coming. As does the side characters Hamza and Miko. Characters grow and change, and it is well done. As much as I enjoyed Will, I think in most of the scenes where Hamza played Will’s foil, Hamza stole the show. Hamza is both Honda is both clever and intelligent in ways Will is not, and I enjoyed the pairing of these two.

“None of us are meant for anything, and none of us are meant for nothing. Life is chaos, but it’s also opportunity, risk, and how you manage them.” 
― Charles Soule, The Oracle Year

I know that Comic fans of Soules previous work in Star Wars and Red Devil will enjoy the style in which this story is written. It’s a very approachable book. It’s exciting, interesting, and sophisticated and I very much enjoyed it. Even though it started a little bit slow the narrative style and the dialogue style picked up and became thrilling. Although there are familiar tropes sprinkled throughout the story it still is a very original concept I think that anybody who checks it out will enjoy it. I am glad I picked this story up on a lark and gave it a chance, and I hope you will too.


Questions

  1. Do you think that there is a narrative style difference between comics and novels aside from the obvious structure differences.
  2. What would you do if you knew exactly what would happen for a short amount of time?

Procurement

I read this through Scribd


About the Author

Charles Soule is a Brooklyn, New York-based novelist, comic book writer, musician, and attorney. While he has worked for DC and other publishers, he is best known for writing DaredevilShe-HulkDeath of Wolverine, and various Star Wars comics from Marvel Comics (Darth VaderPoe DameronLando and more), and his creator-owned series Curse Words from Image Comics (with Ryan Browne) and Letter 44from Oni Press (with Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque.)

His first novel, The Oracle Year, about a man who can see the future and way this ability changes the world, will be released in April 2018 by the Harper Perennial imprint of HarperCollins.

Blackbird Vol. 1 by by Sam Humphries, Jen Bartel (Artist)

About

Nina Rodriguez knows a hidden magical world run by ruthless cabals is hiding in Los Angeles. When a giant magic beast kidnaps her sister, Nina must confront her past (and her demons) to get her sister back and reclaim her life. Don’t miss the first collection of the smash-hit neo-noir fantasy series from fan-favorite writer SAM HUMPHRIES (Harley Quinn, Nightwing) and red-hot artist JEN BARTEL (Mighty Thor)!

Stats

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Paperback
  • 168 pages
  • Expected publication: May 14th 2019 by Image Comics
  • ISBN1534312595 (ISBN13: 9781534312593)
  • Edition Language English
  • SeriesBlackbird #1-6

My Thoughts

Blackbird Vol. 1 was a decent comic. It is visually well put together. The story is interesting but I felt it was rough and flat in sections. More detail could be added to flush out the characters and back stories. Substance abuse was represented in the story, but that did not feel authentic. “I need my pills. I need my pills.” Then now what? It felt as if it was a side note, and not a major part of the characters life. As the issues progressed, the story and writing became better and more coherent.

The visuals were very well put together. Often when looking at the page it seemed like the colors would pop out at you and start blinking like a neon sign would. The character design and aesthetics had a manga vibe for me which was interesting. Over the top and over saturated. I will be looking into the next issues to see what happens with the characters if I happen upon the books. Otherwise I might give future reading a pass.


Procurement

I received an electronic copy of this via Edelweiss+ and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


About the Author

Sam Humphries is a comic artist living in Los Angeles.

Independent Author Spotlight – Carol A. Park. Writer of Dark Epic Sword and Sorcery Fantasy

Asking a fantasy author to write 400 to 800 words about themselves and their works is a bit of a dangerous proposition! I’d like to thank Beth Tabler for the opportunity to have a spot on her blog and for hosting the #indiespotlight project to bring more exposure to independent authors.

My name is Carol A. Park, and, as you have already deduced, being the astute readers that you are, I write fantasy. To be more precise, I write secondary world epic and sword & sorcery fantasy. To be even more precise (I did say it was a dangerous proposition, didn’t I?), I write character-driven sometimes-dark epic and sword & sorcery fantasy that likely has a strong romantic subplot and definitely has a nuanced magic system tied to some sort of made-up mythology.

It’s that last bit that I’d like to go into more depth about in this post.

I’ve always loved writing, I’ve always loved fantasy, and I’ve always been fascinated by mythology. And since I read my first Brandon Sanderson books, I’ve been intrigued by what has come to be known as “hard magic.” Since I have two master’s degrees in the areas of ancient near eastern history, language, and mythology, I suppose it makes sense that it all coalesced into my absolute favorite aspect of creating secondary world fantasy: making up magic and mythology—and in particular, magic and mythology that are deeply intertwined.

My debut book, Banebringer, which released in May 2018, is the first book of The Heretic Gods trilogy, an atmospherically dark sword & sorcery. It features a detailed magic system and, as you have once again deduced, heretical gods. The magic is closely related to this pantheon, which I had great fun making up (who wouldn’t have fun making up a pantheon, after all?), since these gods are the ones who bestow a variety of powers on certain mortals based on the deities own “profiles.” Of course, that the gods doing the bestowing are heretical complicates life a little for the unfortunate recipients of these unasked-for powers, the titular Banebringers, who do not—and never have—worshipped their “patron” deities.

You might be asking, “And how does one make up a pantheon, Carol?” Well, I can’t offer definitive advice, of course, but one way to go about is to find a fun-sounding example in our own ancient mythologies and run with it. In the case of Heretic Gods, I took inspiration from the Aztec pantheon for my heretical gods. (Me being me—a scholar of a few subjects in my own right—I now feel compelled to note for the most likely non-existent scholars of the ancient Aztecs that might be reading this: this is inspiration in the same way that a moving piece of music might inspire a musician to create something similarly emotive but wholly new—not an attempt to be historically accurate in any way, shape, or form!)

I’ve had even more fun with the sequel, Cursebreaker, which releases (fingers crossed) Dec 2019, because I’ve had the opportunity to expand on both the magic and especially the mythology in some ways that were fun for me, and I hope are fun for readers looking forward to the next installment.

Obviously, I have other stories bubbling about in my brain, and by way of a teaser, the next series I’ll be working on is an epic fantasy which also features a nuanced magic system, once again intricately tied to a (different!) made-up pantheon—and is in some ways the opposite of Banebringer in how that plays a role in the plot.

I must mention before I wrap up that I also have another book available, Sweetblade, which delves into the backstory of one of the characters from Banebringer. It can be read by itself, or before or after Banebringer. Sweetblade epitomizes the character-driven aspect of my books, which I (alas!) lack space to delve into here.

I could go on, but I won’t, mostly because I want to behave myself and stick to my word limit (said no epic fantasy author ever). Once again, thanks to Beth for hosting this series and providing me the opportunity to blab about some aspects of writing near and dear to my heart.

About the Author – Carol A. Park


Author Bio:
Carol A. Park is a fantasy author who lives in the Lancaster, PA area with her husband and two young and active boys–which is another way of saying, “adorable vampires.” She loves reading (duh), writing (double-duh), music, movies, and other perfectly normal things like parsing Hebrew verbs and teaching herself new dead languages. She has two master’s degrees in the areas of ancient near eastern studies and languages.


Amazon links:

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Carol-A.-Park/e/B07C3NM18R/

Amazon link to Banebringer: https://www.amazon.com/Banebringer-Heretic-Gods-Book-1-ebook/dp/B07C29DQH5/

Amazon link to Sweetblade: https://www.amazon.com/Sweetblade-Carol-Park-ebook/dp/B07M869WGZ/

Online excerpts of both books are available through the Amazon “Look Inside” feature on the Amazon product pages.


Goodreads links:


Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17950418.Carol_A_Park

Goodreads link to Banebringer: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39866516-banebringer

Goodreads link to Sweetblade: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43082471-sweetblade


Social media/contact:


Twitter: https://twitter.com/parkcarola

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/parkcarola/

Website/Newsletter Signup: https://carolapark.com/

Email: contact@carolapark.com

What am I Reading Wednesday? May 15th 2019

What Am I Reading?

This Time

by Azaaa Davis

Legendary demon hunter Nadira Holden paid the ultimate price to end the war between demons and hunters.

Resurrected in present-day New York, many years have passed, everyone moved on without her, and the demons she once battled have made peace with humans. Nadira no longer has a purpose here. Dying again might be her ticket back to that “next life” she experienced.

Except humans are disappearing, and Nadira’s father is one of the missing. Feeling a strong obligation to find him before sorting out her own fate, she begins investigating. 

She won’t rest in peace unless she can prove the demons are behind the disappearances. But Nadira is running out of time. The darkness within her is causing her to lose her humanity while the rest of mankind is on the verge of enslavement to the demons they now worship.

Fight with Nadira in a new urban fantasy series that combines monster-slaying action, family drama, and simmering romance. Experience why not even death can stop her. 

Fans of Vampire Hunter Anita Blake, Succubus Georgina Kincaid, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Vampire Death Dealer Selene are possessed and eagerly awaiting the next book by fantasy author Azaaa Davis.


What Have I Just Finished?

Hallow

by Olga Gibbs

Review to come May 14th!

Being one of the most formidable archangels with the power to end the world doesn’t serve you well if you don’t know how to use it.

Thrown into a battle of courts and factions, tangled in a web of intrigues and palatial games, naïve Ariel is surrounded by powerful angels, chasing their own agendas.

There’s no one she can trust. Everyone stands to gain something from her death.

To avoid the bloody battle that Baza brought to her door at Uras, Ariel retreats back to Apkallu (Earth) to find her sister, but the Heavenly battles and intrigues she flees follow her, as Baza’s immense hold on Apkallu forces Ariel and Rafe to make uncomfortable choices.

Ariel’s fight for survival is far from over and it looks like it’s going to be a deadly one.


The Grey Bastards

by Jonathan French

LIVE IN THE SADDLE. DIE ON THE HOG. 

Such is the creed of the half-orcs dwelling in the Lot Lands. Sworn to hardened brotherhoods known as hoofs, these former slaves patrol their unforgiving country astride massive swine bred for war. They are all that stand between the decadent heart of noble Hispartha and marauding bands of full-blood orcs. 

Jackal rides with the Grey Bastards, one of eight hoofs that have survived the harsh embrace of the Lots. Young, cunning and ambitious, he schemes to unseat the increasingly tyrannical founder of the Bastards, a plague-ridden warlord called the Claymaster. Supporting Jackal’s dangerous bid for leadership are Oats, a hulking mongrel with more orc than human blood, and Fetching, the only female rider in all the hoofs. 

When the troubling appearance of a foreign sorcerer comes upon the heels of a faceless betrayal, Jackal’s plans are thrown into turmoil. He finds himself saddled with a captive elf girl whose very presence begins to unravel his alliances. With the anarchic blood rite of the Betrayer Moon close at hand, Jackal must decide where his loyalties truly lie, and carve out his place in a world that rewards only the vicious. 


What Have Am I Reading Next?

Autobiography of a Traitor and a Half-Savage

by Alix E. Harrow

Original Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, Novelette || 

Oona’s blood is a river delta blending east and west, her hair red as Tennessee clay, her heart tangled as the wild lands she maps. By tracing rivers in ink on paper, Oona pins the land down to one reality and betrays her people. Can she escape the bonds of gold and blood and bone that tie her to the Imperial American River Company?

Edited by Carl Engle-Laird

Descendant of the Crane

by Joan He

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.

Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?


The Blighted City

by Scott Kaelen

To challenge the gods is to invite their wrath. So it is written of Lachyla, the Blighted City, in the Codex of the Ages. But who reads codices? And who really believes the tall stories of the Taleweavers?
Dagra does. If it’s a story about the gods – even a dead god – he believes every word. When his sellsword team is offered a contract to cross the Deadlands and find a burial jewel in the crypts of the Blighted City, Dagra wants no part of it. His companions are undaunted by the legend; to them, the blurred divide between the living and the dead is superstitious nonsense. Completing the contract would earn their guild’s failing reputation a much-needed boost and secure them the bounty of a lifetime. They’re going, with or without him. Torn between the convictions of his beliefs and the importance of his friendships, Dagra reluctantly journeys into the godless region in search of the fabled city. But the Deadlands are only the first challenge.
The sellswords uncover an age-old deception when they learn that Lachyla’s foul seed is much darker than its legend, that its truth must forever remain untold or risk plunging humanity into an eternal nightmare. Snagged on the barbs of the blight, Dagra faces the toughest choice of his life … and of his death.

First Chapter, First Paragraph – The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

“You’re some kind of thief, then?”
“That a very narrow-minded way of looking at it. I prefer to think of myself as a merchant of delicate tasks.”

About

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Library Journal | Vulture | The Verge | SYFYWire

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty perfect for fans of The Golem and the JinniThe Grace of Kings, and Uprooted, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts.

On the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, Nahri is a con woman of unsurpassed skill. She makes her living swindling Ottoman nobles, hoping to one day earn enough to change her fortunes. But when Nahri accidentally summons Dara, an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior, during one of her cons, she learns that even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

Forced to flee Cairo, Dara and Nahri journey together across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire and rivers where the mythical marid sleep, past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises and mountains where the circling birds of prey are more than what they seem, to Daevabad, the legendary city of brass.

It’s a city steeped in magic and fire, where blood can be as dangerous as any spell; a city where old resentments run deep and the royal court rules with a tenuous grip; a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound—and where her very presence threatens to ignite a war that has been simmering for centuries. 

*Finalist for the World Fantasy Award: Best Novel

*Nominated for the Locus Award: Best First Novel

*Finalist for the British Fantasy Award: Best Newcomer

Featuring a stepback and extra content including a bonus scene and an excerpt from The Kingdom of Copper.


“Can I swim?” he snapped, as if the very idea offended him. “Can you burn?” 
― S.A. Chakraborty, The City of Brass

First Chapter, First Paragraph

He was an easy mark. Nahri smiled behind her veil, watching the two men bicker as they approached her stall. The younger one glanced anxiously down the alley while the older man— her client—sweated in the cool dawn air. Save for the men, the alley was empty; fajr had already been called and anyone devout enough for public prayer—not that there were many in her neighborhood—was already ensconced in the small mosque at the end of the street. She fought a yawn. Nahri was not one for dawn prayer, but her client had cho- sen the early hour and paid handsomely for discretion. She studied the men as they approached, noting their light features and the cut of their expensive coats. Turks, she suspected. The eldest might even be a basha, one of the few who hadn’t fled Cairo when the Franks invaded. She crossed her arms over her black abaya, growing intrigued. She didn’t have many Turkish clients; they were too snobbish. Indeed, when the Franks and Turks weren’t fighting over Egypt, the only thing they seemed to agree on was that the Egyptians couldn’t govern it themselves. God for- bid. It’s not as though the Egyptians were the inheritors of a great civilization whose mighty monuments still littered the land. Oh, no. They were peasants, superstitious fools who ate too many beans. 

#MusicMonday Light Years by The National

A beautiful song. Listening to it feels like your skin is being stroked by fur.


Lyrics

You were waiting outside for me in the sun
Laying down to soak it all in before we had to run
I was always ten feet behind you from the start
Didn’t know you were gone ’til we were in the car

Oh, the glory of it all was lost on me
‘Til I saw how hard it’d be to reach you
And I would always be light years, light years away from you
Light years, light years away from you

I thought I saw your mother last weekend in the park
It could’ve been anybody, it was after dark
Everyone was lighting up in the shadows alone
You could’ve been right there next to me, and I’d have never known

Oh, the glory of it all was lost on me
‘Til I saw how hard it’d be to reach you
And I would always be light years, light years away from you
Light years, light years away from you
Light years, light years away from you
Light years, light years away from you

As always, a nod to Drew at Sarcastic Book Geek for the #MusicMonday idea.

Review of Cryptofauna by Patrick Canning

Jim held a stern look on Oz. This was insane. Even for your-crazy-is-our-normal St. Militrude’s, this was insane.

Synopsis

A young janitor working at an insane asylum is about to commit suicide when he’s rudely interrupted by one of the residents and recruited to play in a game called Cryptofauna—a bizarre competition of worldwide meddling and mischief that might actually give the blue custodian a reason to live, assuming he survives the dangerous world of the game.


Stats

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Edition
  • 289 pages
  • Published December 7th 2018

So Jim’s glass was half full 98% of the time. Now though, he risked wandering into that realm of healthier milk, the 2%.

My Thoughts

Aside from his steak-and-cherry-only diet, Oz practiced another ritual that might have been considered strange were it performed outside the context of St. Mili’s. Months ago, the persuasive giant had used his slick cajolery to secure one of the only rooms in the facility equipped with its own bathtub. A man of seemingly endless skill, Oz had jerry-rigged St. Mili’s behemoth water heater to produce water at two hundred and eleven degrees Fahrenheit, just a notch below boiling point. Every night he’d fill his tub with the scalding water, add a sprinkling of a homemade spice mix (comprised principally of garlic and gunpowder), and slide his body in to cook.

Cryptofauna is a crazy batshit insane book. But in a good way. It is almost impossible to describe the plot to you, and If I even tried you would look at me like I lost my damn mind. Imagine writing a bunch of randomly selected nouns on papers, tossing them in a hat and producing a great story out of them. That is what Patrick Canning did.

Nouns include a Job at an insane asylum, cilantro, a bag of ash, the color blue, a dog, a Belgian, being marooned, leprous long living French monks, a body press made of mint, and shape-shifting animals.

That is just the start. It is a fantastically strange book where you completely fall in love with the characters and cheer Jim and his cohorts on in the grand competition. You want Jim to win, and you want to keep reading to see what else Canning can pull out of a hat. It is a great adventure, well worth checking out. You will not believe the Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy/Alice in Wonderland type journey the author will take you on. Give it a try.


Procurement

I received a copy of this from the author in exchange for my open and honest review.


About the Author – Patrick Canning

Patrick was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Illinois, and now lives in California with his dog, HANK.