Post-Christmas Linkage

For those of you who celebrated Christmas, I hope you had a wonderfully festive time with friends and family.

I love this period between Christmas and New Year – it always struck me as a quiet (and much-needed) lull before the year starts in earnest. ¬†I’m usually still off work (using up those days before the end of the year – every year I say I’ll plan my holidays better…), but the mad Christmas rush is over, and the most stressful thing on my plate is checking out the Boxing Day sales – usually from the peace and quiet of my living room as opposed to tackling the crowds on the high street ūüėČ

And of course, I can ease back into that blogging habit…

A couple of time-sensitive links to start off with:

ewein-special-ops

Other links that caught my eye over the past month or so:

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Books for December

The countdown to Christmas is in full swing and there are SO many things to do. ¬†I’m ticking off the number of working days left in the year myself (ten more days here!) and trying to make time for the (very many) new releases I want to read this month.

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10487466Andrea K H√∂st‘s BONES OF THE FAIR (fantasy): She’s an auto-buy author for me, so this is really a no-brainer. ¬†It’s a companion novel to CHAMPION OF THE ROSE – I’m looking forward to revisiting that world!

Darest stands on the verge of a Golden Age. The revival of the Rathen line and a blood price won from the Fair has drawn a flood of visitors eager to snatch their share of changing fortune ‚Äď or at least one of the fabulous prizes offered at the Spring Festival.

Among those coaxed back to the once-failing kingdom is Gentian Calder, daughter of Shapers. Before she can decide whether to risk her life by staying, news arrives to put all other considerations aside. The Atlaran Ambassador and half the heirs of the western kingdoms have disappeared on Darest’s border.

Gentian agrees to join the Diamond Coeurveur and his apprentice in a rush to join the search. Will they find the missing? A plot against Darest? Or uncover older secrets, buried deep?

Out now

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15980677KICKING IT edited by Faith Hunter and Kalayna Price (UF): I love Kalayna Price’s writing, so she’s the main attraction for me in this one. ¬†But I’m also keen to read the contributions by other authors and figure out if I should be trying any other UF series.

Featuring stories by FAITH HUNTER * KALAYNA PRICE * RACHEL CAINE * CHLOE NEILL * ROB THURMAN * SHANNON K. BUTCHER * LUCIENNE DIVER * CHRIS MARIE GREEN * CHRISTINA HENRY

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine has modern-day potions witches Holly and Andrew facing off against a firebrand politician who wears literally killer boots in a Texas-sized rodeo of trouble.

Boot-loving Cadogan vampire Lindsey must team up with off-again, on-again vampire partner Luc when a woman from her past is targeted by supernaturals in New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill’s all-new adventure.

And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman features Trixa Iktomi from her Trickster series dealing with magical vengeance and magical footwear.

Taking kick-ass urban fantasy literally, USA Today bestselling authors Kalayna Price and Faith Hunter bring together the best of the genre to once again prove when you’re fighting supernatural forces, it helps to keep your feet on the ground.

Out now

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16045296Miranda Kenneally‘s RACING SAVANNAH (NA): I’ve enjoyed all of Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks books¬†– she has this breezy writing style which sucks you straight into the story, and this should be no exception. Plus horse racing!

They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin‚ÄĒcocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

Out now

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17279560DANGEROUS WOMEN edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois (UF): Every single GRRM/Dozois anthology makes me think “I want!” and this is no exception. It probably would be worth it just for the new Diana Gabaldon story (okay, and the new Jim Butcher), but there are also many others.

All new and original to this volume, the 21 stories in¬†Dangerous Women¬†include work by twelve¬†New York Times¬†bestsellers, and seven¬†stories set in¬†the authors‚Äô bestselling continuities‚ÄĒincluding a new¬†‚ÄúOutlander‚ÄĚ story by Diana Gabaldon, a tale of Harry Dresden‚Äôs world by Jim Butcher, a story¬†from Lev Grossman¬†set in the world of¬†The Magicians,¬†and a 35,000-word novella by George R.¬†R. Martin about the Dance of the Dragons, the vast civil¬†war that tore Westeros¬†apart nearly two centuries before the events of¬†A Game of Thrones.

Also included are original stories of dangerous women–heroines¬†and villains alike–by Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Sherilynn Kenyon,¬†Lawrence Block, Carrie Vaughn,¬†¬†S. M.¬†Stirling, Sharon Kay Penman, and many others.

Writes Gardner Dozois in his Introduction, ‚ÄúHere you‚Äôll find¬†no hapless victims who stand by whimpering in dread while the male hero fights¬†the¬†monster or clashes swords with the villain, and if you want to tie¬†these¬†women to the railroad tracks, you‚Äôll find you have a real fight on your¬†hands.¬†¬†Instead, you will find¬†sword-wielding women warriors, intrepid women fighter pilots and far-ranging¬†spacewomen, deadly female serial killers,¬†formidable female superheroes, sly¬†and seductive femmes fatale, female wizards, hard-living Bad Girls, female¬†bandits and rebels, embattled¬†survivors in Post-Apocalyptic futures, female¬†Private Investigators, stern female hanging judges, haughty queens who rule¬†nations and whose¬†jealousies and ambitions send thousands to grisly deaths,¬†daring dragonriders, and many more.‚ÄĚ

Out now

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17859577ELEMENTARY edited by Mercedes Lackey (fantasy): Nothing says Christmas like a Lackey anthology – oh, is that just me? ¬†This is the annual DAW anthology of stories set in one of Mercedes Lackey’s fantasy worlds – like last year, she’s chosen her Elemental Masters universe. ¬†I would have preferred her Valdemar setting, but I’ll get this regardless…

In March 1987, Mercedes Lackey, a young author from Oklahoma, published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. No one could have envisioned that this modest book would be the beginning of a fantasy career that would span decades and more than a hundred novels, with no signs of slowing yet.

And among Ms. Lackey’s many novels, few are as critically-acclaimed and beloved as those of the Elemental Masters. The novels in this series are loosely based on classic fairy tales, and take place in a fantasy version of turn-of-the-century London, where magic is real and Elemental Masters control the powers of Fire, Water, Air and Earth.

Now the voices of other authors join Mercedes Lackey to add their own special touches to this delightful alternate history, in a world where magic is always just around the corner…

Out now

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18221555Kelley Armstrong‘s BRAZEN¬†(UF): This is a Subterranean Press release – I’m glad they’re doing an ebook edition as well, because as beautifully-produced as their hardcovers are, I can’t really justify the shipping costs to the UK.

Nicholas Sorrentino knows everyone in the supernatural world considers him the Pack’s playboy, the pretty but not very useful werewolf whose only reputation involves his amorous exploits.

Usually, Nick couldn’t care less what anyone outside the Pack thinks of him. But when it affects his hunt for Malcolm Danvers, a psychotic bogeyman from the Pack’s past, it matters.

Necessity forces Nick to team up with mercenary half-demon Vanessa Callas to run Malcolm to ground in Detroit. Together, they discover Malcolm is more deadly than ever. And he wants to play.

It’s time for Nick to prove he’s not just a lover.

Out now

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Other books I want to get:

  • Kelly Hunter‘s THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (contemporary romance): It’s a Kelly Hunter! ¬†It’s also a novella, so I’m counting on this filling the need for ¬†a quick satisfying read amidst the Christmas bustle.
  • EL Tettensor‘s DARKWALKER (fantasy): Jan brought this to my attention and I’m intrigued now – I’m a sucker for a fantasy/mystery.
  • Julie Cross‘¬†RETURN TO YOU¬†(NA): The third installment in Julie Cross’s Letters to Nowhere series – I’m looking forward to catching up with Karen & co!
  • Harper Fox‘s TINSEL FISH (contemporary m/m romance): An unexpected sequel but welcome to ONCE UPON A HAUNTED MOOR.
  • Joanna Chambers‘¬†BEGUILED (historical m/m romance): Another sequel, this time to PROVOKED – I’m hoping for a HEA this time around.

Free/Cheap Ebooks: An Update (Plus a Couple of Reviews)

reviewafreeebookA while back, I posted about my plan to run an irregular feature on free/cheap ebooks as a way of saying thanks to the authors/publishers for their promotional offers – a year on, I’ve posted a total of umm… one post.¬† Slow but steady, possibly. Or quality, not quantity.¬† Something along those lines.

A quick update on the original post where I covered sources for bargain-priced ebooks – the websites for the public domain books are still good, and I haven’t really ventured beyond them as I can pretty much source any PD books I want there (plus their ebooks are generally formatted beautifully):

As for newer releases, there are some changes:

Sadly, Fictionwise closed operations in December 2012 (though it feels like it was years ago now).¬† On a side note, while I did opt into transferring my books to a B&N Nook account, the ebooks never arrived in my new account – it wasn’t a real issue for me as I had all my ebooks saved locally, but the transfer debacle has not encouraged me to shop at the UK Nook store at all.

I rarely go to the Kindle forum nowadays – too many titles to wade through, but it’s probably still there if you have some time to kill.

Dear Author and the MobileRead forums are still excellent sources of deals – the latter also have dedicated monthly threads for romance, SFF, and mystery (amongst others), which is useful. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books also do daily deals – their posts are more romance-focused than DA’s (or that’s my impression anyway), there can be some overlap between SBTB and DA deals, and sometimes they have Australia/NZ-specific deals.

Also on MobileRead is a Kobo discount codes thread, which tracks current codes for Kobo – I always check there before making any Kobo purchases.¬† I’ve to say Kobo has come up trumps in the discount codes arena this year – there’s been a flood of 50% to 80% off codes over the past few months.¬† A couple of caveats – a lot of Kobo codes are one-time only, so use wisely (i.e. not on the $0.99 books!), and even with the discount, Kobo can prove to be more expensive than, say, Amazon (I’m not sure why that’s the case).

There are a couple of mailing lists I’ve joined – BookBub and Riffle Select specifically – that send you daily emails with free/cheap ebooks. They’re US-centric and I’ve not actually bought any books from them, but they’re out there if you’re interested.¬† I believe authors pay to be promoted on BookBub, but I’m not sure about the Riffle model.

But (obviously saving the best for the last) – my big find is eReaderIQ (I’ve linked to the Amazon UK site, but there is one for Amazon US and Canada too). Obviously, it’s a lot more useful if you have a Kindle, but would be applicable for any price drops mirrored across the different retailer sites.¬† Here’s what I use it for (and I’m not affiliated in them in any way, I just think it’s a great service!):

  • Tracking ebooks of the interested-but-not-entirely-sure-because-of-the-price variety – eReaderIQ sends you an email if the price drops for that book.¬† You can add a bookmarklet to your browser bar to make it even easier to add books to your tracker when you’re on the Amazon website (why yes, I’ve done that).
  • Tracking all ebooks for an author – again,¬†eReaderIQ sends you an email if any of their books drop in price.¬† Useful if you’ve just discovered an author and want to explore his/her backlist without spending tons of money.
  • Checking the price history for ebooks – it lets you know if the publisher has a habit of dropping the price every now and again, so you don’t end up paying full price for a book that goes on sale the next weekend.
  • Browsing through recent freebies or price drops (I spent too much money on impulse buys due to the latter, so I’m trying to stop doing that!) – you can choose the genres you’re interested in and maximum price to limit the number of books shown.

Have I missed any free/cheap ebook sources that you use?

Note: Most of the sites I’ve linked to above use affiliate links (i.e. they get a % of your purchase (the price you pay stays the same) for any purchases you make at the relevant retailer while the link is active) except for MobileRead, who are pretty vigilant about no affiliate links unless explicitly stated.¬† I don’t mind using the affiliate links as I appreciate the time/effort in curating the deals, but YMMV.¬† You can remove the affiliate tags before clicking through if you prefer (or clear your browser cache).

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And a couple of quick reviews for recent freebies (cross-posted from Goodreads, additional comments in italics):

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The Girl With the Cat Tattoo (Cool Cat Trilogy, #1)The Girl With the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir (contemporary romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a freebie with good reviews – I obviously had to give it a go. For a story narrated from a cat’s POV, this avoided the cute-sy trap and turned out to have more emotional punch (and plot) than I expected. And I loved the ending.

I kept on seeing this reviewed on various sites, and while it isn’t a re-read for me, I’m certainly interested in checking out more of Weir’s backlist.

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Shadow Unit 1Shadow Unit 1 by Emma Bull (UF)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kindle freebie on Amazon, IIRC. Each contribution is written like a TV episode (which I believe is the intention – more at www.shadowunit.org), and I found it easy to dip in and out. I connected the most with Will Shetterly’s and Sarah Monette’s contributions – would be open to reading more in this universe.

I believe all stories are free at the Shadow Unit website (there’s also a Paypal Donate button there).¬† I already knew I loved Sarah Monette’s writing (new book out next year under a pseudonym – I’m excited!), but I’ve to check out Will Shetterly’s writing now.¬† Emma Bull and Elizabeth Bear were the other two contributors in this one.