What I’m up to

I’m around, really I am, but this blog is on semi-hiatus as you can tell by the non-updates. :\
I make no more promises on when I’ll be posting again (I feel pretty challenged and rewarded by my work, and that’s really great except for that pesky work-life balance). HOWEVER, I did join a group speculative fiction blog on a part-time basis. Check it out:

 

 

This is a fanzine formed by a fellow blogger I have “known” and been online friends with for years (you may know her as calico-reaction on livejournal). She’s brought together a great group of fellow bloggers and writers and fans of speculative fiction and we all contribute to talk about all things in the “Speculative” arena, like movies, TV, games, and books. It’s a lot of fun.

I’m mostly contributing to the “My Favorite Things” posts every few weeks, where I talk about some new-to-me Science Fiction or Fantasy related thing that I’m currently loving, but also wrote the first review I’ve written in a really long while (I reviewed Anne Leckie’s Ancillary Mercy as part of our series on Hugo Award nominees). You can see my posts here.

Hope you take a look and like what we’re doing over there!

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Humble ebook bundle, Cobweb Bride Kickstarter, Clockwork Heart Trilogy, and Readathon

OK, so I’ve seen some stuff online that has me excited and I wanted to talk about them ALL so this is a catch-all post to tell you about it.

For the next 13 days you can contribute whatever amount you want and get 6 DRM free ebooks by Cory Doctrow, Kelly Link, Mercedes Lackey, Lauren Beukes, and Paolo Bacigalupi. If you pay more than the average (currently $12.11), you will unlock 2 more books, by John Scalzi and Neil Gaiman. Your contribution will go to charity and these authors, and you can customize how it will be split up. Kinda cool, huh? Check it out at The Humble Bundle.


There’s a Kickstarter campaign right now for a book with a premise that sounds interesting. It’s “is a history-flavored fantasy novel with romantic elements of the Persephone myth”, and it has to do with Death stopping his work everywhere, and searching for his bride in an alternate Renaissance world.  This is a kickstarter by the author Vera Nazarian, who has published several books already, and was nominated for a Nebula Award twice. This campaign has 4 days to go and has made about half of its $5000 goal, so if interested, I say get on it sooner rather than later.

ETA: Here’s an excerpt of Cobweb Bride to get an idea of the writing.


I have Angie to thank for the heads up on this one.  I unreservedly LOVED Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti and have been checking her blog periodically for news about the sequel (which I knew she had finished and was shopping around). Well, EDGE has picked up the trilogy! According to Pagliasotti’s website, “Clockwork Heart will be republished in March 2013, the second book in September 2013, and the third in March 2014″. I am so happy! I cannot WAIT.


The last news I have is about Dewey’s 24 hour readathon. It’s happening this weekend, October 13th, and I thought I would remind/tell people because I know people often want to do it but don’t realize what day it was until the day of. (Sorry for the 2 day notice.. ). I’m still debating if I will be able to join in on this one, but I recommend it. Lots of fun and an excuse to read all day. Sign up is here.

YAckers discuss Unspoken, upcoming Bloggiesta

unspoken by sarah rees brennan

My time as Keeper of the Book this month at YAckers resulted in a lively discussion of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. You can check it out over here. I will be writing up my own review and posting it up here soon.

Next month’s book is Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick. This is the second book of a series so I have to get cracking and read the first one (horror? meep). In the meantime, we’re offering up copies of Shadows to followers of the blog (there’s two books up for grabs: one for US, one for UK). For more details, check out the YAckers blog.


Bloggiesta is back again. This is an event hosted this year by There’s a Book and It’s All About Books. It’s an event where book bloggers work on their blog related “To Do” lists. I like to join when I can because it gives me some motivation. Once I put up my list of “To Do’s” on the Internet, I feel more accountable for actually doing them. Here’s what I want to do to improve this blog:

  • Work on my About page and my Review policy
  • Update my Review Index
  • Put more of my reviews on goodreads
  • Catch up on my reviews (I have 5 reviews to write)

For anyone else interested, Bloggiesta is September 28-30th, is very loose on what you have to do (you can do as much or as little as you want), and sign up is here.

 

Modern Pride & Prejudice in Vlog form

If you follow my blog, you know that I am a big sucker for modern Jane Austen retellings. So I’m delighted that there’s a web series that just started, styled as a vlog diary from the point of view of a modern Lizzie Bennet – a 24-year old grad student in Mass Communications. Her best friend Charlotte Lu is in school for for TV and film production and holds the camera while Lizzie wryly describes her mother’s quest for her daughters to be married to a rich young man so they can have the White Picket Fence and 2.5 kids. Her sisters Lydia and Jane make appearances, and so far the three episodes (out of a reported eight that have been recorded so far) set up the story where a certain med student named Bing Lee has moved into “that house on Netherfield” (for $3 million).

Episode one:

 

Episode 2 – My Sisters: Problematic to Practically Perfect / Episode 3 – My Parents: Opposingly Supportive

I’m liking it so far – it’s a lot of fun. Here’s the link to the mashable interview with Hank Green and Bernie Su, who are behind this series, and this is Hank Green’s vlog post introducing it, and Bernie Su’s tumblr.

And here are some stills of Lizzie with Charlotte, Lydia, and Jane.

A couple of things I’m looking forward to


So a heads up for people: next week (October 22nd) is Dewey’s 24 hour readathon. I have cleared my schedule (aka, told my husband), and plan on hunkering down to read all day. Sign up is here, start times are here. Hope people can make it. The more the merrier.

Yay! I don’t know why, but I always get excited over a readathon. 🙂


And I started my wishlist for next year. These books, I must have them. Look how pretty they are. I am over the moon that Bitterblue is FINALLY coming out and has a date (May 2012).  And it has a cover which looks like it will match Graceling and Fire. I’m also excited about Head Rush, the final book of the Disillusionist Trilogy. That one is out December but just got a cover. I’m full of squee about it.

What are some books you are anticipating for 2012? I love hearing what people are looking forward to reading.

Mini-break pictures and additions to the TBR

I was in Arizona last week. I saw a double rainbow in Sedona:

And a dust storm in Phoenix:

I also saw my little brother graduate with honors. Imagine. This kid now has a masters and everything:

It was a nice week, but vacation wise, very short (2 days) because I have deadlines with work as usual. But what vacation I had was awesome, and much food was consumed.

During the trip I made my annual/semi-annual pilgrimage to my Book Mecca – Bookmans. We went to the Phoenix Bookmans, which is a branch I’ve never been to before. I have to say, they have the best selection of any of the branches I’ve been to so far. I love how there was an urban fantasy/paranormal romance section separate from the Speculative Fiction section.

Also, I may have spied on what other people were picking up and may have gushed when I found someone holding onto N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Kingdoms. I may have told them that the book was really good and that I can’t wait for book 3. Then I may have slunk off.

I  got:

  • The City of Pearl and Crossing the Line by Karen Traviss – These buys are a result of positive reviews by fellow book blogger, calico reaction. The first three books(it may be 6 books?) in this science fiction series with a female protagonist has received 8s and 9s (out of 10) from her along with comments about “devouring this puppy in two days”.  Sold, I tell you.
  • Tangled Up in Blue by Joan D. Vinge – This continues the story after The Snow Queen and The Summer Queen, and I think I’m going to use it as an excuse to reread those books.
  • A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin – I bought this because I have book 2 The Midnight Mayor and book 3, The Neon Court thanks to Orbit, and I’ve been interested in the premise (a protagonist who is a sorcerer in London, and who is resurrected? Want!)
  • Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison – I’ve been off paranormal romance for a little while now, but I heard SUCH good things about this one (by people who were also off paranormal romance), I thought I’d make an exception. I’ve read it now, and may review it sometime soon, but I ended up not really loving it as much as I’d hoped to.

When I got home to NY, there were more books (and a DVD) waiting for me:

Beast is a graphic novel I bought because.. well I love Beauty and the Beast. This promises to have really great art and a story that’s not so much a retelling as it is based on the fairytale, and I hear that the ending is ambiguous.

My husband sneakily bought me a copy of Jane Eyre on Blu-Ray. I think I shall keep him.

I bought A Weekend with Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly, and Personally, I Blame My Fairy Godmother by Claudia Carroll, through Bookcloseouts. Both are due to my weaknesses: for deals at Bookcloseouts, and for anything to do with modern day Jane Austen related stories or fairytale retellings. A Weekend with Mr. Darcy has a male regency romance writer who has fallen for a Janeite, and Personally, I Blame My Fairy Godmother is a modern Cinderella homage.

All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin was sent to me by the publisher for review. This is a young adult story with a teen who is the daughter of a mobster and who may be falling in love with the son of the District Attorney. And it’s set in 2083!

AND…


Somebody very awesome nominated this blog for the Best Speculative Fiction Book Blog! Whoever you are that nominated me,  thank you. It is very happy-making that someone out there thought of my blog as being a contender as best (!!) in that category. I am very grateful and I’m BASKING in being nominated. I did send the BBAW administration 5 links, but my thought is “maybe more people will find my blog”, rather than having high hopes of winning. I have a lot of respect for other book bloggers and whoever wins, I don’t doubt that they deserved it, but whether you were nominated or not, and win or not, there there are a lot of very hard working people that spend their personal time and energy reading and reviewing. That is pretty cool, and I’m happy that these people exist. Here’s to you.

Off to sea

I’m about to get on a ship for a 7-day cruise and I’m not sure how great the internet will be – so this is a heads up if there’s a lack of posts for the next 7 days. In the meantime, here’s a picture of the world’s largest indoor photo (it’s a 360 view of the Strahov library)! Man, I would not say no to bookshelves like these.

Reading Challenges & News

I suck at reading challenges. I have no idea why I keep entering them because I’ve never been successful with any of them, but I have the best intentions. I always think, “Yes! This is just the thing to keep me honest!” and imagine myself actually reading books within the time frame of the challenge successfully, the TBR melting before me as I stand victorious and smiling before it. Of course, somehow time slips past me, I end up having other things to do that get higher priority and suddenly I am no where near where I wanted to be with a challenge, and the TBR looks bigger than when I first started the whole doomed exercise.

I know I’m not the only one. Right?

On that note, I’ve entered the following this year! They all have the benefit of being “participate when you can” sort of things.

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Calico Reaction’s Book Club:

This one is a club where participants read the monthly selection (selected via poll & calico_reaction) which is presented in alphabetical order. So far the books have been:

January: Lois McMaster Bujold: The Curse of Chalion
February: Octavia E. Butler: Fledgling
March: Patrick Ness: The Knife of Never Letting Go
April: Robert A. Heinlein: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Reason for joining: I go to calico_reaction’s reviews for the nitty-gritty low-down on a book if I’ve read it, or I glance at her rating if I haven’t.  I signed up for this club because the book selections aren’t what I’d normally try on my own and I’ve enjoyed the selections I’ve given a go. Also – love that I can participate as much as I am able. I participated (somewhat dismally), last year and enjoyed it.

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The Book Smugglers’ Nebula Readathon:

Schedule:
March 13: The Native Star / Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
March 26: Blackout / Ship Breaker / Behemoth
April 9: All Clear / White Cat / Mockingjay
April 23: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms / The Boy From Ilysies / Who Fears Death
May 7: Echo / A Conspiracy of Kings
May 21: Shades of Milk and Honey / I Shall Wear Midnight + Our Final Nebula Readathon Ballot (in which we Smugglers and fellow readers pick the novels we believe should win the award)

 
Reason for joining: I really want to read Shades of Milk and Honey! Yes, that is it, joining this challenge is an excuse to read one book. So after I joined, I just HAD to buy the copy of Shades of Milk and Honey I found on Bookcloseouts for $4.99 (only 2 left!). I’ve also already read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Native Star so I feel like I am actually a little ahead on this challenge. It doesn’t take much with me.

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Jawas Read, Too! Women of Fantasy Book Club

Schedule:
January: One Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
February: Elfland by Freda Warrington
March: Prospero Lost by L. Jagi Lamplighter
April: Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest
May: War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
June: The Dark Mirror by Juliet Marillier
July: All the Windwracked Stars by Elizabeth Bear
August: Indigo Springs by A. M. Dellamonica
September: Firebird by Mercedes Lackey
October: Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
November: The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee
December: Readers Choice

 
Reason for joining: I love the choices in this book club. Indigo Springs and The Gaslight Dogs are on my TBR. I want to read Tooth and Claw and Elfland and Firebird and.. ok I want to read all of these. Also I’ve already read One Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and War for the Oaks so I have two down. It kills me that I have Elfland in the TBR but didn’t get to it for the February selection though. I will try to read that ASAP and join the discussion late.

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Dreams and Speculation Women of Science Fiction Book Club:


Schedule:
January: Dust by Elizabeth Bear
February: The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin
March: Darkship Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt
April: The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
May: Mappa Mundi by Justina Robson
June: Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler
July: Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
August: China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh
September: Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon
October: Farthing by Jo Walton
November: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
December: City of Pearl by Karen Traviss

 
Reason for joining: I’ve read 3 out of the 12 books. That’s like a quarter, no? Also I’ve wanted to read The Doomsday Book so I thought this would kick my butt into gear. So far, not really. I feel some regret in not reading Dust for the January selection.


In other news, I’m now one of the fantasy reviewers over at the Paperback Swap Blog. I will be posting there monthly, and my first review should be up tomorrow. It will be a review of Masques by Patricia Briggs. But never fear, I’m allowed to cross-posts my reviews over here so you’ll be seeing the same number of reviews from me.

These are a few of my favorite things

Last week was a busy one at work so I didn’t get much reading done, but I’m halfway through Joe Abercrombie’s The Heroes so hopefully that review will be one I’ll be posting this week. Not usually my typical reading fare (it’s about a battle) but I thought I’d challenge myself.

In the meantime, I am guest posting over at one of my favorite book blogs, Tempting Persephone. I’m posting about some of my favorite things to see in books, along with a list of examples of books that have them. Come on over and read about animal sidekicks, grovelling heroes, Beauty and the Beast retellings and other tropes that make me happy.