Around the Web

So many links, so little time… 

Here’s what caught my attention around the internets lately:

And that’s it for now!

Books for September

I started writing this post ages ago, but well. 

Anyway, September is a very good month for new releases.  I’m trying something slightly different this month by linking to reviews if I can find them – I’ve just done a quick Google search for these, so let me know if I’ve missed yours.

 

31ztn6o8nL._SL160_ Seanan McGuire’s “An Artificial Night” (urban fantasy): Oh, how much do I love these books (yes, rhetorical question).  I had such high expectations for this third book in Ms McGuire’s October Daye series and am glad to say AAN more than lived up to them.  Oh, did I mention that I’ve already bought and devoured read this?

AAN just worked for me – the story kept me engrossed from the first page to the last, a perfect combination of external plot elements (which verged on the side of really scary) with character-driven story-telling.  As always, Ms McGuire made me feel as though Toby’s world really existed – the world-building felt so natural, a wonderful mix of the fantastical and real.  And Toby and the cast of supporting characters were irresistible. 

I would never have said I would care for fae-based stories before this (in fact, this kept me from picking up the first book for ages*), but these books have proved once again, it’s the writing that matters. 

Blurb from Seanan McGuire’s website

Changeling knight in the court of the Duke of Shadowed Hills, October "Toby" Daye has survived numerous challenges that would destroy fae and mortal alike.

Now Toby must take on a nightmarish new assignment. Someone is stealing both fae and mortal children—and all signs point to Blind Michael. When the young son of Toby’s closest friends is snatched from their Northern California home and his sister falls into a coma-like state, the situation becomes way too personal. Toby has no choice but to track the villains down, even when there are only three magical roads by which to reach Blind Michael’s realm—home of the legendary Wild Hunt—and no road may be taken more than once. If she cannot escape with all the children before the candle that guides and protects her burns away, Toby herself will fall prey to the Wild Hunt and Blind Michael’s inescapable power.

And it doesn’t bode well for the success of her mission that her own personal Fetch, May Daye—the harbinger of Toby’s own death—has suddenly turned up on her doorstep…

Reviews: The Book Smugglers, Lurv a la Mode, Dreams and Speculations

Out now (book details on author’s site)

 

51iSIzXKspL._SL160_ Tanya Huff’s “The Truth of Valor” (military SF): This release caught me by surprise – in a good way, mind.  I had actually thought the series had wrapped up with the previous book, “Valor’s Trial”.  Obviously not, because here’s the latest installment.

What impresses me about Tanya Huff is her versatility and how she switches between different genres (high fantasy, urban fantasy, military SF) with such ease.  I just finished her newest paperback release, “The Enchantment Emporium”, which is an urban fantasy, and it could have been written by a totally different author (good read, btw – some rather wickedly funny bits and I loved how she trusted the reader to have the ability to connect the dots and figure out her world, instead of doing a full info-dump on page one).

Anyway, I’m certainly going to pick up this one up – blurb from publisher’s site:

Former Marine Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr is attempting to build a new life with salvage operator Craig Ryder on his ship, the Promise. Turns out civilian life is a lot rougher than she’d imagined-salvage operators are losing both cargo and lives to pirates. And when they attack the Promise, Craig is taken prisoner and Torin is left for dead.

When Torin finds out why the pirates needed Craig, she calls in the Marines to get him back – and to stop the pirates from changing the balance of power in known space.

Reviews: BookLoons

Out now (but I can’t find an excerpt)

 

51TdhQsWOL._SL160_ Sherwood Smith’s “Coronets and Steel” (fantasy): Yes, I’m aware I’m sort of stalking DAW’s releases this month.  I always end up getting Sherwood Smith’s releases, although not always in hardback. 

But I love Ms Smith’s description of this book:

This story is one of those few that wrote itself, beginning one night after I was listening to Greek folk music about ghosts. Four very intense weeks later it was done, I realized it was a kind of riff on Prisoner of Zenda, which I’d loved all my life. So it takes place in this world, right now, only in an Eastern European little country, with a magical overlay. Kim’s a grad student in L.A. Her passions are ballet, fencing, Jane Austen, and swashbuckling, romantic old movies. When her grandmother begs her to go east and see if "they" are safe, then slips into an uncommunicative silence, Kim goes to Vienna in search of her family, armed with only two clues. She’s having no luck when she first runs into a ghost, and then meets a guy she mentally dubs Mr. Darcy. Only this Mr. Darcy acts like he knows her. When she goes out for a drink and wakes up on a train, the adventure takes off.

This time it’s a gal, instead of a guy, having to prove her courage, dash . . . and honor. So there are no detectives or forensics, but otherwise I guess it could fit into the urban fantasy category, but really, it’s a Ruritanian romantic adventure.

A Ruritarian romantic adventure?  Lovely and evocative.  Count me in.

Reviews: The Book Binge

Out now (but I can’t find an excerpt)

 

31KGHeE2YbL._SL160_ Ilona Andrews’ “Bayou Moon” (paranormal romance):  Auto-buy author.  Need I say more? 

Oh, okay.  I’m a big fan of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels books, but equally loved the more romance-y “On the Edge” when it was released last September.  It took me two Kate books before I became a total Kate fangirl (trust me, don’t stop after the first one), but the writing has been consistently excellent since and the world of the Edge is a fascinating mix of frontier-style living and urban fantasy.

Blurb from authors’ site:

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Walmart and magic is a fairytale–and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life . William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.

When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

Reviews: Scooper Speaks, Dreams and Speculations

Out Sept 28 (excerpt)

 

51x3pylC1fL._SL160_ Diana Peterfreund’s “Ascendant” (YA fantasy): It’s no secret that I adored Diana Peterfreund’s Secret Society Girl series (thinking on it, adored may be too mild a term), and so followed her across to what is commonly known as her YA killer unicorn series.  “Ascendant” is the second book in this series, and promises to be just as fun a read as the first book, “Rampant”, was.

Blurb from author’s site:

The hunt continues…

Astrid Llewelyn is now a fully-trained unicorn hunter, but she’s learning she can’t solve all her problems with just a bow and arrow. Her boyfriend Giovanni has decided to leave Rome, the Cloisters is in dire financial straits, her best friend’s powers seem to be mysteriously disintegrating, and Astrid fears that school, home, and her hopes of becoming a scientist are nothing but impossible dreams.

So when she’s given the opportunity to leave the Cloisters and put her skills to use as part of a scientific quest to discover The Remedy, Astrid leaps at the chance. Finally, she can have exactly what she wants…or can she? At the Gordian Pharmaceuticals headquarters deep in the French countryside, Astrid begins to question everything she thought she believed: her love for Giovanni, her loyalty to the Cloisters, and – most of all – her duty as a hunter. Should Astrid be saving the world from killer unicorns, or saving the unicorns from the world?

Reviews: A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy, Sonder Books (starred), Sophistikatied Reviews (5 stars)

Out Sept 28 (book details on author’s site)

 

31uoDFUTyIL._SL160_ Patricia Briggs’ “Masques” (fantasy): Last but oh-so-definitely not least, Patricia Briggs is re-releasing one of her earliest fantasy books, “Masques”, but with some rewrites.  This long out-of-print book has apparently been going for crazy-high prices, and I’m glad that I finally get the chance to read it.  More on Ms Briggs’ site about how this book came to be re-released (with its previously-unpublished sequel “Wolfsbane” out next month). 

I actually started reading Patricia Briggs’ fantasy books and as much as I love her recent urban fantasies, it’ll be a pleasure to revisit her other worlds.

Blurb from Amazon:

After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. Her latest mission involves spying on the increasingly powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae’Magi. But in a war against an enemy armed with the powers of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is-or where he will strike next?

Reviews: Is it just me or are there no reviews for the re-released “Masques” yet? 

Out Sept 28 (excerpt)

 

*************

*I harbour the same irrational feeling about books written in present tense – once I actually start them though, I always regret not picking them up sooner.

Breaking Radio Silence… (and Something New!)

You would not believe the week I have had.  I was planning on taking part in the BBAW festivities, but the work events of this week completely put paid to that.  Probably my previous worst-ever week multiplied by ten.  Gah.

BUT.

I have a KINDLE 3!!!

Yeah, I caved and ordered one a few weeks back.  It was meant to arrive next week, so it landing on my doorstep this morning was a pleasant surprise.

It almost makes up for the week I have had.  Almost. 

Anyway, my first impressions of the Kindle (bear in mind my current ereader is a Sony PRS505 and is one I’ve had since January 2008 and is responsible for turning me into an ebook convert):

  • It’s slim.  Slightly tapered sides, so it looks a lot slimmer than my Sony (just done a side-by-side comparison and the Kindle is actually slimmer).
     
  • I like the colour (graphite, i.e. grey) a lot.  There wasn’t an option to get the white version (maybe that’s a US-only colour), but I think I would have chosen graphite anyway.  It’s also a matt plastic, which makes it prettier IMO.
     
  • It’s light.  I may get a cover for it.  Not sure if I should go for the official Kindle covers they’re selling on Amazon or something else.  Anyone have recs?
     
  • The refresh rate is so much faster than my Sony (which, admittedly, is two generations behind the current model).  But when I flip pages, or type, the refresh rate is pretty amazing.  Or have I just been stuck in the dark ages?
     
  • I said type.  Yes, the mini keyboard.  The Kindle is actually only ever so slightly longer than my Sony (which doesn’t have a keyboard), because the Sony has all the space under the screen for buttons.  I’ve logged on to my home wifi network and had no problems using the keyboard.  But then, I’m used to a Blackberry keyboard as well.
     
  • Good user experience.  Packaging very easy to open and tells you exactly what to do first, i.e. plug it into your PC (or wall outlet) and charge.  I was slightly taken aback when the instructions disappeared after I plugged it into my USB port, before realising that they were actually displayed on the eink screen – I thought they were on a plastic insert over the screen!
     
  • Which brings me to the excellent screen quality.  Very crisp and clear, and I’m sitting in a sunlit room at the moment.  Though I haven’t read a book yet nor done a direct comparison to my Sony, it all looks good. 
     
  • Very intuitive design.  I haven’t had to refer to the user guide for anything (though I did flip through because I’m obsessive like that).  So far, I’ve synced it up to my Amazon Kindle account, downloaded a free book, and connected to my home wifi without having to use the guide.  Though I am fairly techie and obviously have a ereader already.

So there you have it – my immediate thoughts on my oh-so-pretty Kindle. 

I’m slightly worried at the moment, as the Kindle appears to be going through an update and start-up cycle.  For the second time.  In the time it’s taken me to write this post.  If it heads into a third cycle, I may panic.

But I’m very pleased with it.

Now I need some good Kindle blogs – does anyone have any recs?