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.

Best of 2009 and New Year’s Resolution for 2010

I liked looking back last year at 2008 so this year I’m also looking back at 2009. I didn’t make my goal of reading 100 books, but at 79 books I was above last year’s number (77). Anyway, here’s my Best of 2009 list, broken down in the same way I broke down books last year:

The Books that Blew Me Away – This is a very small list, just three books, like last year.  I only put books on the list when a book consumes me.

  • Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliosotti
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore
  • Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (this is technically a 2010 book. Review to come) –
Books that Came Close to Blowing Me Away This list is of books which I’d recommend without reservation and I loved them while reading them. There are more of these this year than last year (5 versus 4!)
  • Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre
  • Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James
  • Salt and Silver by Anna Katherine
  • Endless Blue by Wen Spencer
  • Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Books I Really Liked/ Keepersthese are also recommended and all have several moments that I loved in them and I think many people will like these books:

  • Soulless by Gail Carriger
  • Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Way of the Shadows by Brent Weeks
  • On the Edge by Ilona Andrews
  • Must Love Hellhounds (anthology) Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Meljean Brook, and Charlaine Harris — I liked 2 of the 4 stories a lot
  • Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
  • Heroes at Risk by Moira J. Moore
  • Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
  • Sins & Shadows (Shadows Inquiries) by Lyn Benedict
  • The Stars Down Under by Sandra McDonald
  • The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percey Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber
  • What Happens in London by Julia Quinn
  • Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
  • Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James
  • Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair
  • Blue Diablo (Corine Solomon, Bk 1) by Ann Aguirre
  • Kitty Raises Hell (Kitty Norville, Bk 6) by Carrie Vaughn
  • What I Did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  • Kitty and the Silver Bullet (Kitty Norville, Bk 4) by Carrie Vaughn
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale
  • Kitty Takes a Holiday (Kitty Norville, Bk 3) by Carrie Vaughn

And for my New Year’s Resolution – First I have the usual one which is to read 100 books.

  • 2006 – 103 books
  • 2007 – 99 books
  • 2008 – 77 books
  • 2009 – 79 books

The second resolution is to make the TBR go down. I was really bad over my Christmas vacation and the TBR is over 190 right now. The plan is that I can’t buy a book unless I read two or more. Let’s hope I have the willpower.

Interesting news

I’ve been meaning to post this. I loved Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti (my review on LJ | vox | wordpress), so I’m happy to hear via Fantasy Book Critic that the author has sold her second book. From her website:
“It’s official: Apex Book Company will be publishing my second novel, An Agreement with Hell.An Agreement with Hell is contemporary horror, and it includes a few of my favorite things: Christian folklore and apocrypha, chaos theory, labyrinths, and poststructuralist magick. Not to mention bizarre creatures laying waste to quiet little California Hills University….

It’s too early to set a firm publication date, but I’m told that Fall 2010 might be in the ballpark.”

A contemporary horror! Sounds interesting, though horror isn’t typically my thing. Meanwhile I see she’s still working on the Clockwork Heart sequel, which I am eagerly anticipating. 🙂

Steampunk – the Next Big Thing?

Above artwork is “Steampunk” by John Coulthart

Is Steampunk the new trend in the fantasy genre? I’m beginning to see it everywhere I look. But what is it? The image above has tongue-in-cheek a formula Jeff VanderMeer came up with: Mad Scientist Inventor [invention (steam x airship or metal man / baroque stylings) x (pseudo) Victorian setting] + progressive or reactionary politics x adventure plot = Steampunk.

Some books to look out for:

  • I just read and reviewed (LJ / vox / wordpress) Dru Pagliassotti’s Clockwork Heart. She’s busy working on the second book tentatively titled Obstruction Currents. She has also been working on a third novel with the working title King’s Monster, but I don’t know if that is also steampunk.
  • Karin Lowachee is working on The Gaslight Dogs (she’s the author of an amazing science fiction trilogy Warchild, Burndive, and Cagebird). I haven’t seen much about this one so it may be coming out later from orbit books:
    “Very different from her previous military science fiction novels, this is a Victorian era steampunk novel in the style of Philip Pullman taking us from the Arctic North to steeped rooftops of civilization and the savages to the east. (Fall/Winter 2009)”
  • Liz Maverick is working on Crimson and Steam, which should be out January 2010 and which is set in her Crimson city universe.
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy ParkerSteamed by Katie MacAlisterSoulless by Gail Carriger

  • Katie MacAlister is working on a Steampunk series that will have it’s first book out in 2010. Her website has this announcement: “I’ve just received the cover to Steamed, the first in a new series of Steampunk romances, which will be out February 2010. The cover isn’t quite finished (you can view a large version of it here), but you can get a sneak peek at it and the back cover copy to see what all the fuss is about. Fluff up your bustle, polish your pocket watch, adjust your goggles, and crank up the Abney Park! It’s steam time, ladies and gentlemen! ”
  • The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber is coming out from Dorchester on 09/09/09 and has a lovely cover. The author calls it a “ghostly, gothic Victorian fantasy”. Looks promising. Link to the book trailer. The cover blurb:
    “What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria’s Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow, the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent—and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death….”
  • Gail Carriger has a book out September from Orbit: Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate):Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.”
  • Meljean Brook has twittered about a steampunk book with pirates. Research reveals she’s got a new series in the works called the Iron Seas

The books coming out should be interesting. I see both authors with a background in romance and science fiction/fantasy coming into the same genre. I’m really looking forward to the results.

The Galaxy Express: Steampunk Romance Watch

Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti

Clockwork Heart
Dru Pagliassotti

I’d seen this book mentioned a couple of times online but for some reason I had labelled it in my mind as not so intriguing until I read a review at the Book Smugglers blog (they gave it a 9 – “damn near perfection”). I put it on my books to read list at that point but I wasn’t salivating over it like some other books.

A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I decided to go for a walk and ended up at Barnes and Noble. I saw a copy of Clockwork Heart and picked it up. I started reading a few pages. At first some of the terminology confused me.  What’s a wireferry? Lictors? Decator? Icarus? I would read for a bit then go back a page or two to reread something to understand a bit better. But the story itself started out in the middle of some action, so I was already interested.

The premise: This story starts when a metal car suspended by wires starts to tumble towards the ground as our heroine was stopping nearby for lunch. Taya is a citizen of Ondinium, a city divided into castes, “Primus for the exalteds; Secundus for the cardinals; and Tertius, for the plebians”. Taya herself is an icarus, someone who trained to fly with wings made out of the metal ondium (which is lighter than air), and who is allowed to freely pass between the city’s sections. She and her kind are messagers as well as trained for search and rescue, so of course Taya jumps into action to help the two passengers in the falling metal car.  This chance encounter pushes Taya into the world of the exalteds and soon she is caught up in betrayals and political plots happening within the city.  In particular, Taya is sucked into the world of two brothers – Cristof and Alister Forlore. Alister is the gracious, charming one who works as a decator (I translated this to something like – minister/politician), and Cristof is the gruff, abrupt one who works as a clockmaker.

By page 20 I was hooked. 50 pages in and I had the terminology down. I could not stop reading! And how did I miss Angie’s pimping it too? She only put it on her best of 2008 list! I really chastized myself for not having this book on my radar earlier.

What I really loved was the world building. I have a very basic idea of steampunk so I came into this book with no expectations and was just blown away at the images of Ondinium while I was reading this book – from a city with winding, intricate streets, to the costumes of members of the different castes, and all the little nooks and crannies in between like the interesting things in Alister’s crowded, paper filled office and in Cristof’s watch shop. I also enjoyed the idea of card-punch computing (old-school!) being a large part of the plot and a system built upon this that is used to help run Ondinium. It was fantastic! The cherry on the top of all this was the slow moving romance that did not take over the book and worked alongside the mystery of what is going on in Ondinium.

The only negatives I can think of for this story were very minor. One was that at times I ran into a few typos like repeated phrases next to each other and missing words. I’m not really the most observant person about this type of thing so when I do catch it I figure others will. The other comment I had was on the ending well there was a really satisfying HEA for the romance, but the mystery part somehow didn’t tie up to my complete satisfaction. The reveal was a bit of a surprise (when I mull this over I think that perhaps I was distracted by red herrings thrown in by the author), and yet WHY also didn’t fully make sense to me. Maybe I expected to understand the reasons for the villains’ actions more fully than was presented.

Overall: Already one of my favorite reads of this year, I think it’s a shoo in for my best of 2009 list. This combines fantasy, steampunk, romance, action, and intrigue into something new and fresh.  If you are the least bit interested go find this book. I was so addicted I just read this straight for hours and when I came up for air I was disoriented about how much time had passed.

I’d compare the romance aspect to Sandra McDonald’s The Outback Stars (where the hero isn’t exactly who you’d think he’d be at first, and there’s caste/rank issues, but he turns out to be more compatible and honorable than other characters seem to allow), and the world building to Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age or Snow Crash (this blew me away like those books did).

This is the debut novel by this author, however she has published some short stories. Dru Pagliassotti is currently working on a sequel to Clockwork Heart tentatively titled Obstruction Currents.  According to her blog she’s also working on another (unrelated) novel called King’s Monster. Which means no backlog for me to glom onto, and I have to wait for the next book. Meanwhile, new author to stalk and put on the auto-buy list. I’m excited to read whatever comes out next!

P.S Yes it really does kind of look like Leelee Sobieski on the cover.

Reviews elsewhere: