Bookish Gifts: Mystery Edition

I was about to begin another general Bookish Gifts posts (any excuse to window shop online), but suddenly I was searching for things with a certain detective novel theme. I think it is because I am in the middle of watching the latest Sherlock (don’t tell me what happens). Anyway, there’s something comforting in reading a mystery: you always find out who did it in the end, but you get to have fun guessing along the way. Nancy Drew was my gateway into reading, way back when. I will always have a soft spot for Agatha Christie and Dick Francis too. And of course I’m a fan of the modern-day screen adaptions of Sherlock Holmes (I like the movies, and both Elementary and Sherlock). What are your favorite mystery series?
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1. The Big Sleep and Murder at the Vicarage mugs (£8.95, AU$14.99, US$9.95) 2. Poirot Mustache stud earrings ($60) 3. Green Popular Penquins (AU$7.99-$9.95) 4. Detective Novel scented candle ($10) 5. Nancy Drew Drawer Pulls ($40) 6. Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson felt dolls ($80) – also available Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot ($45 ea).    7. Sherlock Holmes in The Hounds of the Baskervilles, a Baby Lit sound primer ($8.99)   8. Whodunnit applique pillow ($101.29) 9. 221B button ($2.56)
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10.  The Complete Sherlock Holmes box set ($59.99) 11. Nancy Drew Pillow Cover ($38 to $41, depending on size) 12. Hardy Boys Pillow Cover ($35 to $45, depending on size) 13. Crime Classics phone wallpaper (FREE) 14. Nancy Drew Girl Detective Doll ($149) – other versions available, see link. Also The Hardy Boys and Dick Tracy) 15. The Complete Adventures of Tintin (from about $100) 16. Red Herring Greeting Cards ($2.40 ea) 17. Nancy Drew Taxi Wallet ($49) 18. Question Mark Ring ($13) 19. Private Eye perfume oil ($15)
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20. The novelist & the detective (set of 6 pencils – $8) 21. Tiny gun necklace ($15) 22. Secret Message Writing set ($9.59) 23. Secret Decoder Ring, Pig Pen Cipher ($15) 24. White’s Books Fine Edition Sherlock Holmes: His Greatest Cases (from $23.82)  25. Pipe pin badge ($8.56) 26. Agatha Christie 1″ buttons (set of 10 for $11) 27. Nancy Drew with redesigned covers ($6.99 ea)

Guest Post: Rachel Neumeier on Under the Radar books

Hi everyone!  I’d like to introduce Rachel Neumeier, author of the recently released Black Dog (watch this space for a review soon), as well as The House of Shadows, The Griffin Mage trilogy, The Floating Islands, and The City in the Lake.

neumeier

I love hearing recommendations from other readers, and today Rachel has a fantastic list of books that might not have gotten the attention they deserve. There’s a few here I’ve not heard of that I have to get my hands on now, and I can tell you she’s not wrong about the books that I have read.


Thanks for inviting me over to Spec Fic Romantic – it’s a pleasure to be here!

I’ve been writing a good many guest posts about Black Dog lately, so this time I’d like to try writing on a topic that’s slightly removed:  I’d like to share with you a handful of my favorite books that should be right at the top of your TBR pile, but that you might not have heard of because they are old, or have been “flying under the radar,” or are simply outside your normal reading range.

These days, I think many of us get most of our book recommendations from blogs and Twitter.  Certainly I do, especially now that I have a Kindle.  One enthusiastic recommendation from a blogger whose taste matches mine, and I may very well just pick the book up immediately.  Naturally, following book-review blogs leads to a huge TBR pile and promotes some excellent books, but I suspect it also leads to a concentration of social-media attention, so that a handful of new releases pick up the lion’s share of notice.  Often those books are great and deserve every bit of the attention they get, but all too often an equally great title languishes because it didn’t happen to get that initial buzz. And, of course, anything published before the social media Phenomenon is simply out of luck.  With all the new, shiny titles hitting the shelves, it’s almost impossible to generate buzz for anything published more than a year ago, much less more than a decade ago.

On the other hand, blogger recommendations can lead you straight to titles or authors you wouldn’t ordinarily try, which is an unmixed blessing.

So, here we go.  I think that anyone whose taste runs toward character-driven stories with beautifully drawn settings ought to consider trying the following titles.

Thursdays Children by Rumer Godden1.  I thought I’d start with the oldest.  How many of you have ever read anything by Rumer Godden?

Godden wrote a whole lot of books from 1936 right up through 1997, an amazing career that ended a trifle in advance of the social media explosion.  In This House of Brede was published in 1969.  It is not fantasy.  It is not adventure.  It is not a romance.  It is a contemporary novel (not actually contemporary anymore, true, but set in our world).

I read mostly fantasy, with some science fiction, mysteries, and historicals thrown in.  I don’t read many contemporary novels.  But this one?  This one is simply one of the best and most powerful novels I’ve ever read, of any genre.

For those who particularly enjoy YA, Godden’s Thursday’s Children is one you should really look up.  Especially if you love dance.  I don’t know anything about ballet, but this perfect little novel had me completely enthralled with the story of a gifted boy who tags along with his sister to ballet class. Read it the first time for pure enjoyment and a second time as a character study, because the depth of characterization is amazing.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson2.  The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson is a true contemporary published only a year or so ago.  This one is a good example of a single blogger recommendation leading to an out-of-the-usual purchase for me.  Ana at The Book Smugglers raved about this book, so even though it’s a YA contemporary, I picked it up.  It is a very intense book and you should have a box of kleenix handy when you read it – but you should read it.  And then go back through and read all the scraps of poetry:

At 4:48 pm on a Friday in April / my sister was rehearsing the role of Juliet / and less than one minute later / she was dead. / To my astonishment, time didn’t stop / with her heart.

This is a story about grief and recovery, but it is also a story that celebrates friendship, family, and love.  I think absolutely everyone should have this title right at the top of their TBR pile.

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand3.  I really don’t read many romances, so this next one, a contemporary romance series set in Paris, represents an even greater departure from my normal reading range.  In fact, this is another example of a series I tried solely because of a blogger’s review.  But, whether romance is your first love or not, you just have to try Laura Florand’s Chocolate mysteries.

The first is The Chocolate Thief, which is light and fun; the series deepens as you go on.  My favorite is the third, but all of them are wonderful.  Florand can make any character sympathetic; it’s amazing.  The poor little rich girl?  Yep, sympathetic.  Anyone could learn plenty about characterization and using backstory to deepen character from this author.  Luckily, she is a fast writer and has brought a good many titles out over just the past couple of years.

Dolly and the Singing Bird by Dorothy Dunnett4.  I do like mysteries and read a fair number of them, but one mystery series that has completely faded from view is the “Dolly” series by Dorothy Dunnett.  You’ll also find them referred to as the “Johnson Johnson” mysteries.  I think a lot more people have read Dunnett’s fat historicals – which I like a lot – than have even heard of her mysteries. Dunnett wrote these in the seventies, but they’ve all been recently republished under different titles.

I discovered this series when I was just starting to think seriously about writing, and I found Dunnett’s technique fascinating.  Every book in this series is told in the first person by a different young woman, but the real protagonist is arguably Johnson Johnson himself – famous painter, owner of the yacht Dolly, and perhaps a bit more than he seems at first glance – whose point of view is never shown to the reader.

Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy5.  RA MacAvoy wrote a good handful of fantasy novels in the eighties, of which one of my favorites is Tea With the Black Dragon.  This is a wonderful little gem of a novel, with just the most subtle fantasy elements laid into what seems on the surface a straight contemporary.  I mean, is Mayland Long really a dragon or isn’t he?  (Personally, I’m positive he is.)

Plus, Tea is one of those vanishingly rare stories where the romance involves middle-aged people.  How often do you see that, right?  I can’t really talk, because most of my protagonists are young, too.  But I really enjoy seeing a great story where one of the central characters is an older woman.

Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wellsthe cloud roads by martha wells

6.  While on that topic, anybody who hasn’t read Martha Wells is missing out.  Her standalone fantasy Wheel of the Infinite is a great story, with wonderful worldbuilding – wonderful everything, actually, but Martha Wells just excels at worldbuilding.  This one has a Southeast Asian feel to it.  Plus, the main protagonist in Wheel is an older woman who is at the height of her power and basically doesn’t ever need to be afraid of any ordinary threats.  How often do you see that in a fantasy novel, right?

Wheel has been out for more than a decade, but Wells’ more recent Raksura trilogy, starting with The Cloud Roads, was only completed in 2012.  Again, spectacular worldbuilding, this time of a world that is completely unique among fantasy settings.  You trip over an ancient city built on an immense turning platform, or whatever, everywhere you go.  The nonhuman shapeshifter protagonists are equally unique; these are not just funny-looking humans who sometimes have wings, but a different species with their own body language and ways of thinking.

Plus, people, let me tell you, you really don’t want to miss the giant zombie sea serpent.

Hero by Daniel R. KernsBorder Dispute by Daniel R. Kerns

7.  I wonder how many people know that Jacqueline Lichtenberg wrote two books as Daniel R Kerns?  Hero was first published in 1993 and Border Dispute in 1994, and it’s a crying shame Lichtenberg didn’t go on to write half a dozen more.  I don’t know whether to call these books space opera or military SF, but either way, if nonhuman protagonists appeal to you, these slim little novels will make you stand up and cheer.  It’s not that there aren’t humans in these books, but the protagonist, Indiw, certainly is not human.  His confusion at human behavior is endless, and Commander Falstaff  is certainly equally confused by Ardr behavior.  I don’t know of anyone who has ever done this kind of culture clash better than Lichtenberg.

Valor's Choice by Tanya Huff8.  Speaking of military SF, Tanya Huff’s Valor series is amazing.  If military SF doesn’t normally appeal to you, well, pick up Valor’s Choice and see if that doesn’t change your mind at least for this one series.  Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr is a wonderful protagonist, smoothly handling her superior officers so that she can do her best by her mission and her people.  I don’t know what inspired Huff to make the protagonist a sergeant rather than the commander, but it was an excellent choice.  Every book stands pretty well on its own, but there’s also plenty of room in this five-book series for another installment, and I sure hope Huff has one in the works.

The Magic and the Healing by Nick O'Donohoe9.  Nick O’Donohoe wrote a handful of widely disparate books in the eighties and nineties, of which the best, if you ever thought you might like to be a veterinarian, is the Crossroads trilogy.  The first book, and probably the best, is The Magic and the Healing.  If you’d like to know how to repair the horn of a unicorn or diagnose gout in a griffin, this is the series for you.  The veterinary medicine is well done (says my vet, who borrowed these books from me), and the actual story is top notch as well.  I have a soft spot for The Magic and the Healing, which demonstrated to me the difference between an author declaring a character is smart when she is actually stupid as a post; and the author actually writing a smart character.  Obviously, this is book offers an example of the latter.  BJ Vaughn is one of the most perceptive characters I can think of, in her quiet way.

The griffin in this book also directly inspired the griffins in my Griffin Mage trilogy.  Though O’Donohoe’s griffin is actually nothing at all like mine, he made me fall in love with griffins.

And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst10.  I don’t usually read self-published books, but enthusiastic reviews from The Book Smugglers and from Heidi at Bunbury in the Stacks made me pick up And All the Stars by Andrea Höst.  That one was good enough that I went on to pick up Höst’s Touchstone trilogy.  And that was so good it was my top read of 2013 and led me to pick up the rest of Höst’s backlist.

Lovers of romance should particularly look for her Medair duology and And All the Stars, both of which offer stunning plot twists that will leave you absolutely dumbstruck.  Everyone should read the Touchstone trilogy, which is a wonderful portal SF story that explores issues of technology and privacy while following the battle of, um, psychic space ninjas against extradimensional monsters.  Sort of.  Anyway, Cassandra’s voice is wonderful, the slow-burn romance is wonderful, the setting is wonderful, and this trilogy (plus the Gratuitous Epilogue) belongs right at the top of everyone’s TBR pile.

So there you go, ten excellent authors that might not be the subject of a lot of current buzz, but are well worth a look.  I hope you’ll look up one or two of them no matter how many new titles you have cluttering up your TBR piles.  Enjoy!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.

She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition.

Bookish Gifts: Jane Austen Edition

I’ve been thinking of doing a bookish gift post that had a specific fan theme, and since it’s the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice I spent this weekend surfing the web for Jane Austen themed doodads. It should be no surprise, knowing how popular Jane Austen is, that I found a lot of Jane Austen themed objects. This is even with me making sure I wasn’t repeating bookish gifts I had featured here before. Enjoy. (Click pictures for enlarged views).

bookish austen gifts 1

1. Jane Austen bandages ($5) 2. Jane Austen Literary Chocolate (set of 6, €25) 3. Pride & Prejudice Hollow book safe ($62) 4. Jane Austen – Pride & Prejudice illustrated postcards (set of 5 -  about $10) 5. Replica of Jane Austen’s ring (£130 in gold, £60 in silver) 6. Pride & Prejudice Literary Transport mug (£7.95) 7. Made You Book sweatshirt ($42.99) 8. Pride & Prejudice peacock cuff ($40) 9. Pride & Prejudice book scarf ($42)

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10. Totes Adorbs pillow ($20) 11. Persuasion Book Purse ($55) 12. Jane Austen Bust (£18.00) 13. Austen hand drawn quote bookmarks ($12.51) 14. Jane Austen Book Titles Tote ($23.63) 15. Mr Darcy Literary T-shirt ($24.95) 16. Baby Lit Board books – Pride & Prejudice (counting); Sense & Sensibility (opposites) ($9.99) 17. PBS: The Complete Jane Austen Collection DVD combo ($111.99)

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18. Cozy Classics Board Books (Emma and Pride & Prejudice – $9.95 each) 19. Pemberley Rose Soy Candle ($12) 20. Jane Austen Silhouette necklace (pendant is laser cut in acrylic) ($19.90) 21. Pride and Prejudice pouch ($12) 22. “I Dearly Love a Laugh” quote pendant ($37.39) 23. Jane Austen mini button ($3) 24. Jane Austen library travel tin candle ($8) 25. Jane Austen graphic novels – Marvel classics (retail price between $15-$20 each) 26. Jane Austen stamp set (£5.30) 27. I Heart Darcy tote ($20) 28. From the Desk of Jane Austen – 100 postcard set ($20) 29. Gail Wilson Jane Austen inspired doll ($595 finished, $125 kit, extras from $10)

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30. Penguin Clothbound/Hardcover Classics (about $20 each) 31. Persuasion mug, Pride and Prejudice mug (£8.95) 32. Jane Austen/Mr. Darcy cookie cutter set (about $16) 33. Persuasion book clutch (other Austen covers available! – 60€) 34. Jane Austen and modern day DVDs: Lost in Austen and Clueless ($4-$10) 35. Jane Austen font (free for personal use) 36. Jane Austen and Bollywood DVDs: Bride & Prejudice, Aisha (Emma adapation), and I Have Found It (S&S adaptation) ($6-$15 each) 37. Jane Austen quote pencils (6 NZD)

Hope you liked these! If you’re interested in more of this kind of thing, check out the bookish gifts tag. P.S. There are so many Austen-inspired books I could have put here but I restrained myself. And if they existed, I would have included pre-order links for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Austenland. Next time.

Bookish Gifts III

My mind is so pooped at the end of the day by my new job that I’m not quite there yet with the mental fortitude and discipline I need to write reviews (I really am working on that though). Strangely, I seem to have no problems surfing the web and playing with MS Paint. I’ve been having a grand ol’ time putting together another Bookish Gifts post, where I collect cute reader themed things for your favorite book nerd (or for yourself). Here are the fruits of my labors. (As always, click for bigger versions of these pictures, and check the “bookish gift” tag for my previous Bookish Gifts posts).

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1. Bookshelf Bandit Tote in Jane, Caterpillar, Anthony (see also Alice, Scott, Louisa;$17.99) 2. Penguin Drop Caps ($22 ea) 3. Stacked Paper Wallpaper ($198/roll) 4. Demeter fragrance in Paperback (from $6) 5. Vintage Book Vase ($39-$69) 6. The Definition of Darling Wallet ($52.99) 7. Vintage Book iPhone Charger ($68)

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8. Libraries – Where Shhh Happens mug (£9.95) 9. Lumio Lamp (available for pre-order for Oct 2013 – $125) 10. Gold Bird Metal Bookmark (£4.00) 11. Customizable Wool Felt eReader Case ($44) 12. Reading Fox Bookends (€39.00 / about $51.70) 13. Bracket Bookends in velvety black (€34.00 / about $44.70) 14. Book Bookend (€19.00 / about $25.19) – many other styles of bookends available 15. Buttons: Second Breakfast and Weasly is our King ($1.70) 16. Chipboard Classic novel bookmarks ($1 each)

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17. Bookrest Reading Lamp ($85) 18. Engraved ‘Words are for Nerds’ pencils (£3.50/ about $5.51, set of 3) 19. Lowercase Scarf ($58. Also available in Uppercase, Numbers, & Helvetica) 20. 2b Or Not 2b Pouch ($20) 21. Egar Allen Poe Art Doll ($120) 22. Bookworm Plush ($6.99) 23. Ring hand carved from a book ($17) 24. Bookworm Statement Socks ($10.99) 25. Novel Tea ($12.50/box or $2.50/pouch) 26. Furst Edition Sweatshirt ($50) 27. Hanging Book Rack ($210 fullsize, $110 MINI. All available in different finishes)

Bookish Gifts II

Last year I had a lot of fun window shopping on the Internet for a post on gifts for book nerds. Since it’s been almost a year and I don’t really need much of an excuse to look at pretty things, I bring you even more booky things, the 2012 edition. (click to embiggen)


1. The Little Prince inspired pendants (€55.00 EUR/ about $73) (also available in silver and in ring form) 2. Literary Posters (€13.00 / about $17) 3. Wooden Book Necklaces (8 colors) (£9.00 GBP / about $15) 4. Handdrawn Literary Bookmarks (€8.00 / about $10.57) 5. Literary Scented Candles ($9.50-$18.50) 6. Metal Art Bookends ($49.99) 7. Wolf Slippers inspired by Where The Wild Things Are (Child: $35, Adult: $50)


8. NovelT Shirts ($24.95) 9. Paperback Book Covers (cotton $10, embroidered faux suede $24) 10. Jane Austen Quote Cameo – ($30 various colors) 11. Paper Passion ($98) 12. Dead Writers, a bookish blend of Heliotrope, Vetiver, Black Tea, Clove, Tabacco, Musk, & Vanilla (from $10) 13. In the Library (from $12) 14. Book scented candle ($49) 15. NYPL Building, metal bookmark ($9.95) 16. Quote Couture Earrings ($9.99) 17. the official Roald Dahl Stamps (from £3.04) 18. Hunger Games Lip Balm Tints ($19.50 set, $6.50 individual)


19. Mental Floss Tees ($19.97) 20. Olympia Le-Tan Book clutches and ipad mini-cases (€950.00) 21. Harry Potter Glasses & Scar jewelery (from $21) 22. round book ring ($84) 23. Sterling Publishing Classic Lines ($8.95 ea) 24. Kindle Paperwhite ($119) 25. Nook Simple Touch ($99, with GlowLight: $119) 26. Kate Spade book clutches ($325) 27. Go Away, I’m Reading mug (£9.95)

Reading Raves: Floating Islands, A Trope I Like

Ranting & raving is something I do periodically on this blog. Look for the “rants and raves” category for past rants and raves.
flying city by bzzz88 on deviantart
Image is by Bzzz88)

While reading The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells I was reminded of how much I enjoy stories with a floating island in them. It doesn’t seem to be a really common trope, and it got me digging into my bookshelves to find instances of it.

Endless Blue by Wen Spencer:


(There’s a floating island on the cover, but it’s obscured by the author and title)

A newcomer sees a floating island for the first time:

Floating landmasses, like the one they had hit, dotted the sky. One plowed through the clouds, roiling the white into a gray. Lightening flickered in the tight knot of polarized air, like a storm inside a bottle. That island was a wedge of stone, perspective obscuring its topside. An island farther in the distance, though, showed a crown of thick green. He would only see the top of the island if it was traveling up a curve.

A local worries it will destroy her boat:

“Orin, have you figured out which vimana it is?”
“It’s — Icarus — I think.” He pushed his work towards her to confirm. “This is where we are.” He tapped the glass covering their chart, their position marked in grease pencil. “There are twenty vimanas on this orbit band. Only one crosses zero around this time. Icarus.”
She turned the book so she could read the detailed listing. Like most vimanas Icarus was roughly boat-shaped with the tapered bow cutting the wind. It was the stern of the landmass that they needed to worry about. Icarus was sixty miles wide and a hundred miles long — one giant sized rain-collector. the overflow poured down off the back end of the vimana in a mile high waterfall. If they were hit by it, nothing on the Rosetta would survive.

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells:

the cloud roads by martha wells
(nice floating islands behind the Raksura on the cover of The Cloud Roads)

The floating islands of The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells hold mysterious ruins of old civilizations on them:

Moon turned back toward the sky-island where it floated in isolation over the plain. He pushed himself higher until he was well above it.
He circled over the island. Its shape was irregular, with jagged edges. It had been hard to tell how large it was from the ground; from above he could see it was barely four hundred paces across, smaller than the Cordans’ camp. It was covered with vegetation, trees with narrow trunks winding up into spirals, heavy falls of vines, and white, night-blooming flowers. But he could still make out the round shape of a tower, and a building that was a series of stacked squares of vine-covered stone. There were broken sections of walls, choked pools and fountains.
He spotted a balcony jutting out of curtains of foliage and dropped down toward it.

The Death Gate cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman:


(the floating islands can only be seen on the back side of this cover, which you can check out here- it took a lot of googling to find that online)

In the Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman has several worlds created by a Sundering.  Arianius, Realm of Sky, is where the first book, Dragon Wing is set. It has floating islands all over, on three different levels – the High realm, the Mid realm, and the Low realm. These islands are vast, and dragons or flying ships are used to fly between them.

All the floating isles in the Realm of Sky are composed of coralite. The secretion of a small, harmless, snake-shaped creature known as the coral grubb, coralite is spongelike in appearance. When it hardens, it is as strong as granite, though it cannot be cut and polished. Coralite forms very fast; structures made out of the substance are not built so much as grown. Coral grubbs give off a gas that is lighter than air. This keeps the isles suspended in the sky, but can be a nuisance when attempting to construct buildings. The magic of first-house land wizards is necessary to remove it.


Coralite gives off a faint blush of light, causing strands of forest to show up black against the silvery radiance of the ground. Landmarks were easy to locate. Castles or fortresses made of coralite that have not been covered over with a paste of crushed granite gleam softly. Towns, with their shining ribbons of coralite streets, show up easily from the air.


Can you think of other books with this trope in them? I already have my eye on The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier, but I don’t know what else is out there.

Just to be clear: the floating island is different from say a floating castle or other man-made floating thing (like the moving castle in Howl’s Moving Castle or airships in many books).

Pet peeves: derogatory names for genres


Ranting & raving is something I do periodically on this blog. Look for the “rants and raves” category for past rants and raves.

Man it is hard to muster up some blogging mojo this week, but if one thing fires me up it is this: ridiculous nicknames for genres that essentially put down the people who read them. Am I wrong in thinking the people who COME UP with these names have never read the genre they’re generalizing?

“bodice-ripper” – I don’t recall the last romance I read with an actual bodice in it, nor the last one where a bodice was actually ripped. This name irritates me so much. And everyone uses it. People I know use it and I wince. I know it conjures up covers like the one above, but romance is a genre that encompasses a lot MORE than that.

“Mommy porn” – Thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey, this awful label has suddenly appeared out of nowhere to describe.. whatever Fifty Shades is – light erotica? I don’t know, I just know I hate the term. Yes, lets define a genre with an assumption of who is reading it. And I don’t think “porn” is the right word there either.

I’m trying to think if there are terms like this for other genres that AREN’T usually associated with female readers, and all I can come up with was the one time I saw someone call SF&F fans “airship captains” and not in a very nice way. Hmm. There’s also the people who say they only read “real books” about “real people”, as opposed to fake books about fake people.  Am I missing some annoying little turns of phrase?

Reading Raves: Author recommendations (part 2)

 
Ranting & raving is something I do periodically on this blog. Look for the “rants and raves” category for past rants and raves.

A little while ago (Gasp! Almost two years!), I did a Reading Rave post about how I love book recommendations by authors. I like a good list of recs, and in that post I found recommendations by Kristen Cashore, Rachel Neumeier, Linnea Sinclair, Holly Black, Shannon Hale, Garth Nix, Ann Aguirre, and Diana Peterfreund. I thought it would revisit the idea with some MORE recommendations.

More Author Recommendations:

the land of green ginger by noel langley once upon a time by a. a. milne the dolls house by rumor godden
Franny Billingsley lists her favorite books as a kid in her FAQ. These include the funny (like The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley and Once on a Time by A. A. Milne) and the more serious (like The Doll’s House by Rumor Godden and Mistress Masham’s Repose by T. H. White). I have not heard of any of these, but they all look charming and old-school in a good way. I’m very curious.

a college of magics by caroline stevermer fall of a kingdom by hilari bell
Tamora Pierce is the official QUEEN of recommendations. I hit the motherload on her site when I found.. am I counting this right? THIRTY? lists broken down into categories and year! Looks like Chachic pointed this out to me the last time I did this author rec post and I guess I forgot. Anyway – mind happily blown! There’s Recommended SF/F for Teens, Gifted 8-Year Old Booklist, The So Not White Medieval Europe Booklist… it goes on and on people. I’m focusing on her Ultimate Ever Fantasy List at the moment, where I’m eying Caroline Stevermer’s A College of Magics and A Scholar of Magics, Fall of a Kingdom by Hilari Bell, The Gods In Winter by Patricia Miles, A Sorcerer’s Treason by Sarah Zettel, and Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, but there’s so many more books on here.

the spellman files by lisa lutz lord of scoundrels by loretta chase Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
Susan Elizabeth Phillips recommends “Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels, Laura Kinsale’s Flowers in the Storm, Jill Barnett’s Bewitching, and Pam Morsi’s Simple Jess” in the historical romance genre. She’s a “big fan of Kristin Hannah, Patricia Gaffney, and Sarah Bird”, enjoys the Spellman series by Lisa Lutz (looks interesting to me), and Margaret Watson, Cathie Linzand, and Jayne Ann Krentz in the romance genre. She reads non-fiction as well and has some recs there too.

the magicians and mrs. quent by galen beckett dealing with dragons by patricia c. wrede blood and iron by elizabeth bear
Marie Brennan has a lot of fantasy recommendations on her site (if you go to this link, her list is clickable – each title takes you to her review). I agree with her recs that I’ve read, like War For the Oaks by Emma Bull and Sunshine by Robin McKinley, but there’s a lot here I haven’t read that I’m interested in, like The Magicians and Mrs Quent by Galen Beckett, Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, and Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear.

the drowning girl by caitlin r kiernan the lies of locke lamora by scott lynch Throne of The Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
Speaking of Elizabeth Bear, she has book reports on her blog where she recommends Caitlìn R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora and its sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies, Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon, and more.

the game of kings by dorothy dunnett moomin the catalogue of the universe by margaret mahy
Juliet Marillier answers a question about influences in her FAQ with a list of some of her favorite books: “these include the Lymond Chronicles (Dorothy Dunnett), John Crowley’s Little, Big, a young adult book called The Catalogue of the Universe by Margaret Mahy, and Women who run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, which examines the power of story in terms of women’s psychology. And Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll books!”

Phew! That’s a lot of recs. Any books up there you agree are good books people (and maybe me in particular?) should read? Any lists I missed and should be aware of?

Pet Peeves: eBooks only available in one format and one place

Ranting & raving is something I do periodically on this blog. Look for the “rants and raves” category for past rants and raves.

It is currently my review policy not to accept self-published books for review, but if I’m interested enough, I will go buy a self-published book.

What’s driving me crazy is I’m noticing that sometimes an eBook is only available in one place, in one format. Usually this one place is Amazon, and in their .azw format, which is incompatible with oh, most of the other eReaders on the market. Now, I don’t know anything about how difficult it is to sell your book elsewhere and provide different formats, but as a customer, I really don’t care. That’s a lost sale. I’m NOT going to buy a Kindle if I already have an eReader that isn’t a Kindle. And I’m not going to read the book on my computer or phone or some other device because I have an eReader to read my eBooks on! It doesn’t make sense to me to download something and then NOT read it on my eReader, so I won’t do it. I’m not going to go trying to convert an .azw file into what I want – I heard Calibre could do it but stripping the DRM is illegal, so there’s that pickle.

Limiting a customer’s choice of format and expecting a customer to jump through hoops in order to read a book is wildly optimistic, given all the other books I could be reading. It’s even more optimistic when you are a completely new-to-me author, and thus a risk in the first place.

Please, please, if you are self-publishing an eBook, make sure that you reach more readers by making it available in different formats! And while you’re at it, if you’re offering your book for free or discounted on Amazon, consider making the same offer for the other formats too, because that’s another rant.

Bookish Gifts

This is a post that I wanted to do last year, but I got lazy. Seeing as it’s November, and the Book Holiday blogger swap has begun again, I finally got around to showing you some shiny pretty bookish things. Really, it’s an excuse for me to window shop on the web. (Click on images for bigger versions).


1. Tillybloom bookmarks ($13 each) 2. Miniature books 3. Book Journal ($15) 4. Penquin Hardcover Classics ($20 ea) 5. Jane Austen action figure ($8.95) 6. Spineless classics (from £39.99) 7. Sterling silver block letter initial necklace ($72)


8. read sign ($42) 9. Penguin Classics mug (£7.95 and up) 10. Oh for a Book print ($25) 11. I like Big Books bag ($14.95) 12. Eat, Sleep, Read shirt ($29.99) 13. Barnes and Noble Leatherbound Classics ($18 ea) 14. Penguin Threads ($16 ea)


15. Pride & Prejudice vintage subway print ($50) 16. Book Book case ($79.99-$99.99) 17. A Book Lover tee ($20) 18. Kindle/nook cases (from $45) 19. White Rabbit ring ($7) 20. Nook Tablet ($249) 21. Kindle Fire ($199) 22. We’re All Mad Here necklace ($22) 23. Books tote bag ($16)