Around the Web

Diana Gabaldon posted the news that she put up a sample script and page from her graphic novel on her website.  I think it’s rather cool to have a behind-the-scenes peek at the novel and the process of putting it together.  I’ve said before I’m not a graphic novel fan (I think I focus too much on the words and don’t really take in the visuals), but I’ll be very tempted to get this when it comes out in 2009.

Anne Bishop‘s new novel “Tangled Webs” (out March 2008 – and no, I can’t wait) has an Australian cover, which is quite different to the US one.  I think I prefer the Australian one, which strikes me as more traditional fantasy, whereas the US one has, for some reason, an urban fantasy feel to it.  I also usually prefer not to have the model’s face on the cover – it’s a bit hit or miss whether the model looks like how you picture the character in your mind.  However, it doesn’t matter what the cover looks like – I’m definitely going to get this book regardless!

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Tor Listens

I mentioned the Tor ebook giveaway last week, and had a bit of a grumble that they were using PDF format (non-DRM’d admittedly, but still…).  Well, I wasn’t the only one – and this week’s free book (John Scalzi‘s “Old Man’s War” – good book, btw) is provided in PDF, HTML, and Mobipocket.  Nice.

Next week’s book is “Spin” by Robert Charles Wilson – I haven’t read this one, so looking forward to it!

Also, based on the slideshow on their MySpace page (isn’t MySpace so err… 2006??), some of the remaining book giveaways are:

  • Jane Lindskold‘s “Through Wolf’s Eyes” – I have this and liked it very much, though the later books in the series have lacked something
  • Jo Walton‘s “Farthing” – Haven’t read this, but there was rather good buzz around it, and it’s been on my “I should really go out and have a look at it” list for ages
  • Charles Stross‘ “The Family Trade” – No idea, but I like the title  🙂
  • David Drake‘s “Lord of the Isles”
  • Cherie Priest‘s “Four and Twenty Blackbirds”

I don’t like change

I had a bit of spare time today, so decided to play around with my blog template.  I’ve changed it – don’t all rush to see it at once, because it’s not that exciting!  I think I need to come up with a nice picture for the top. 

I may actually swap back – mainly because I’m not keen on full justification for the text, and also because I don’t think it’s clear where the hyperlinks are.  Or maybe that’s just me.  I’ll give it a couple of days and see.

The other thing I did (which took waaaay too long) was to introduce sub-categories for my err… categories.  Which I think helps with the organisation side of things.  I nearly gave up halfway though, because it involved *manually* editing each and every category. 

Finally (and I did this a couple of weeks back), I moved my list of books read in 2008 to Google Docs (thanks Jennie for the idea), so here it is (accessible via my 2008 Books page as well).

New Books

I couldn’t resist – I bought two books today.

21ag0jf5f3l__aa_sl160_.jpg“Young Warriors: Stories of Strength” (YA anthology, edited by Tamora Pierce and Josepha Sherman):  A review by Thea over at The Book Smugglers reminded me of how much I like Tamora Pierce’s work (and inspired me to start a reread of “Trickster’s Choice” – I know, like I don’t have enough new books to read already).  So I went to Ms Pierce’s website to see what she has coming out – not a whole lot for 2008 (sigh) but there was a Tortall short story in this anthology (published back in 2006).  And umm… there was an ebook version available…

And obviously, I couldn’t just buy one book, could I?  By the way, I think this is related to me being used to having to buy £15 worth of books at a time at Amazon to get free shipping.  So I bought Barbara Michaels‘ “Stitches in Time” as well, for which I’ve been searching high and low.  Note to self:  start looking for ebook versions as well.

Oh, and in keeping with my vow to read a book from my TBR pile before buying a new one?  Here are two books I finished recently:

21-pjhr4egl__aa_sl160_.jpg“My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon” (paranormal romance anthology) – I admit I bought this rather pricey trade paperback because of Kelley Armstrong‘s contribution. Which was okay (Clay and Elena go on a belated honeymoon), but slightly predictable.  I also liked Jim Butcher‘s Dresden Files story, but then again, I usually like his style.  The only other story that piqued my interest was PN Elrod‘s vampire detective story – will have to keep a look out for her books.  Apart from that, not a great anthology for me – C+ overall.

31082aw7hdl__aa_sl160_.jpg“Lord Darcy” by Randall Garrett (alternate-history/fantasy mystery) – Picked this one up at the Baen ebook store.  It’s actually a collection of short stories (and one full-length work).  I’d never heard of Randall Garrett before, but the premise intrigued me.  The alternate-history part is where Mr Garrett imagines how our world today (okay, 1960s/70s, which was when it was written) would be like if Richard the Lion-Hearted came back from the Crusades and continued to rule.  So the Plantagenets still rule a vast Anglo-French empire, with the Polish empire its great enemy.  Oh, and magic works as well.  More about the world here.  Lord Darcy (yes, you can probably see what grabbed my attention) is the Chief Investigator for Normandy, and this is a series of whodunnit stories.  Entertaining – a straight B for me.  (Errr… thank goodness for ebooks!  Ignore the cover – the inside’s much better!)

Yes, yes, yes!

Sharon Shinn will be writing one more book in her Twelve Houses series – “Fortune and Fate”, out Fall 2008.  Also in the pipeline is an anthology with stories set in the world of “Archangel” (yay!), “Heart of Gold”, “Summers at Castle Auburn” (double yay!), and “Mystic and Rider”.  Bad news?  This is only due out 2009.

Full info on the News page on her website (which has had a minor revamp).  Err… I’m not really complaining (because I remember the days when she didn’t even have a website), but I had to enlarge the font size to 150% to read.  Sigh.  I’m not blind, I swear.

Anyway, this is fantastic news – am so looking forward to these books *happy dance*

Around the Web

Tor is offering free ebooks if you sign up for a mysterious online project (via SF Signal).  First up is “Mistborn” by Brandon Sanderson (a B+ for me), while next week’s will be “Old Man’s War” by John Scalzi (I gave this a B – ah, the days when I actually wrote reviews!).  Anyway, I received the link for “Mistborn” today – rather annoyingly, it’s a PDF file, though no DRM, so I should be able to get it onto my Sony Reader relatively easily. 

The email also hinted that there will be eleven more free ebooks (well, ten after OMW) – hopefully books I haven’t yet read already!  Am quite pleased that I will have ebook versions of these books to carry around though – both are worth re-reads, IMO.  I just have to get the PDF conversion sorted – it’s one of the formats I have the most trouble with.  Sigh.

Also around the web, Keishon’s blog is back up and she has a post with the TBR Wednesday specifics.  First one will be the third Wed of March – by my calculations, that’s 19 March.  Time to choose a book from my TBR pile…

Finally, Nath, Ames and Chantal have started a new blog, Breezing Through – they have an excellent chatty review on Nalini Singh’s “Mine to Possess” to kick things off.

Some covers…

It’s been, oh, a week since I last mentioned my ebook reader so…

It’s the little things that add to the experience, like when I press the Bookmark button on my Sony Reader, it changes the top right corner of the page so that it looks as though I’ve folded the corner of the page.  Rather clever.  I have to say though – if Apple came out with an ebook reader, I’ll be the first in the queue.  I don’t think anyone can top Apple when it comes to design. 

What I do miss about print books though are the covers.  Sigh.  Some ebooks have covers, but black-and-white pictures don’t do it.   Just to indulge myself, here are some covers from upcoming releases this year:

21eebmda3vl__aa_sl160_.jpg31b98aegstl__aa_sl160_.jpg

Kelley Armstrong‘s “Personal Demon” (March 2008) – The UK cover (left) beats the US one (right), IMO.  Too many colours on the US cover, I think.  The girl looks orange, and the purple background and green letters don’t help!  Maybe it’ll look better in real life.  On the UK cover, I wonder what the mask represents?  The UK covers in this series can sometimes be a bit blah, but they have a pretty consistent look and feel.

21yskqc-xpl__aa_sl160_.jpgElizabeth Vaughan‘s “Dagger-Star” (April 2008) – Ms Vaughan has posted some info on her new book (finally!) – same universe as the Warlands trilogy, but different characters.  Sample chapter here.  A rather eye-catching cover, methinks.

TBR Wednesdays and other news

Looks like I’m not the only one out there struggling with the ever-growing TBR pile.  If you think you need a bit of a kickstart, go read Keishon’s blog.  She’s suggesting monthly TBR Wednesdays (exact day TBC) where you post a review from your TBR pile – copyright 2006 or earlier.  I’m so completely up for this – I just *know* there are so many good books sitting in my TBR pile.  I’ll do proper links and all once Keishon does an official post!

And random bits of author news:

Jo Beverley‘s February newsletter is out.  More excerpts from her upcoming book “A Lady’s Secret” (April 2008) and also news of a reissue for two of her old regencies from the early 90s (“The Fortune Hunter” and “Deirdre and Don Juan“). I don’t think I’ve read them yet, so the two-in-one book “Lovers and Ladies” is going on my wishlist.

Patricia Briggs has done a revamp of her website – mainly look and feel, I think.  Also a bit of an update on her current projects here – the Anna and Charles book, “Cry Wolf”, sounds great.  August seems so far away…

Julia Quinn‘s releasing two books this year – yay!  I thought “The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever” was okay, but I’m looking forward to two brand-new books from her.

Why I should read more from my TBR

21d9qx6llkl__aa_sl160_.jpgYou know that feeling when you’re a couple of chapters in and just *know* it’s going to be a good book?  That’s how I felt when I was reading Julie Hyzy‘s “State of the Onion” yesterday.

It’s a cosy mystery – this is one of the genres where I’m always looking for new authors.  And if I’m honest, not usually succeeding.  The last cosy mystery author I got excited about (and completely glommed) was Deborah Donnelly and her Wedding Planner series, and that was about a year ago.  By the way, I only found out this category of books had a name last year.  I’m slow.   

Right, back to “State of the Onion”, Olivia Paras (Ollie) is a White House chef, who’s in the running for promotion to executive chef when her boss retires.  But it’s not all smooth going for Ollie.  Not only does she have competition for the executive chef role (an old rival who now hosts a television show), she starts the book off by braining a suspected terrorist with a frying pan.  And then gets tangled up in a whole assassination plot which strains her relatively new relationship with her boyfriend (who just happens to be a Secret Service agent).

My thoughts?  Great set-up, tight plotting.  Ollie’s a woman you’ll want to be friends with, and thankfully, avoids the TSTL trap.  Excellent cast of secondary characters too.  The mystery kept me guessing until the end (caveat: I’m not fantastic at figuring out whodunnits anyway).  And all of this is combined really well with the cooking bits and White House insider info.  I loved the trivia, not just the recipes and culinary tips, but also the White House protocol and traditions.  I never once felt as though Ms Hyzy was info-dumping (unlike a scrapbooking mystery I read some time back which felt like a how-to guide). 

Can you guess that I really really liked it?  I’m disappointed that it’s Ms Hyzy’s first cosy.  Darn.  On the other hand, it looks as though she’s written a couple of romantic suspense books I may just look up.

Oh, and it’s been in my TBR for less than a month.