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jpsorrow posted to dawbooks July 24 2014, 16:33

Book Review: "Chimes at Midnight" by Seanan McGuire

This is the seventh book in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. This is a dark, urban fantasy series, with an emphasis on the dark, focusing on how the fae are living in their knowes adjacent to our more mundane real world. The series starts off a little rocky in my opinion, but has steadily been improving both in the quality and focus in the most recent books, starting with Late Eclipses (book four). This book continue that trend.





The premise here is that October is investigating the sudden appearance of goblin fruit on the streets, which is highly addictive to changelings and humans, so addictive it kills them. Once she has proof that multiple changelings have died from the addiction, she goes to the Queen of the Mists to get help with the problem . . . and is promptly banished from the realm, given three days to pack up and ship out. Now she's scrambling to save herself from eviction from faerie completely, her allies banding behind her, and the only option may be to depose the Queen.

Again, the quality of the books has increased steadily and this book was solid. The characters are, once again, engaging and the plot moves along at a swift pace. In earlier books, the plot and some of October's decisions were . . . well, rocky and sometime didn't make sense. Not so here (or in the previous few books). Seanan appears to have completely settled into this world and this character. Probably the best part of this book is how October finds her allies supporting her in her efforts, all of the actions in previous books coming into play to help her achieve her goal. Also great, October doesn't wallow in angst and being alone, nor does she hesitate to accept the help she's offered. In past books, she'd refuse help or shove it to one side, which was always annoying. As a character, she's grown, and this book brings all of that growth to the forefront. Also nice, some of the plot threads that were alluded to in previous books (such as the goblin fruit being a problem on the streets, and multiple other side comments) are finally pulled together and addressed. Not all of them, and there's obviously some loose ends in this book that need to be tied up, but many of them come together here.

So, overall, a great book in this series. One or two minor things were overplayed (the kissing of Tybalt got slightly annoying and also the reliance on the Luideag in the first part of the book) but those were, as I said, minor. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series, which should be out sometime this fall.
ninharris posted to sfandf_writers July 24 2014, 13:57

Calls for Submission: Delinquent's Spice &Truancy!

New calls for submissions! Delinquent's Spice & Truancy are two microzines focused on diverse, inclusive and hybrid retellings of folktales/fairytales. Delinquent's Spice (hypertext, collaborative storytelling project:formerly Demeter's Spicebox)'s reading period opens in October. Truancy's reading period is now open. Do check it out.

Submissions calls for two new folk and fairytale microzines:http://delinquentspice.com

jpsorrow posted to dawbooks July 24 2014, 13:05

Book Discussion: "How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back" by Diana Rowland

Time for the next book discussion! We're looking at the fourth novel in the White Trash Zombie series from Dianan Rowland, How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back. I've been enjoying this series and have this book on my short TBR list. How about you guys? Who's read it? What did you think?





Cover Copy: Our favorite zombie Angel Crawford has come a long way from her days as a pain-pill-addicted high school dropout with a felony record. After a year highlighted by murder, kidnapping, and the loss of her home, all she wants to do is kick back, relax, and maybe even think about college.

But when key members of the "Zombie Mafia" go missing, she has no choice but to get involved. Angel is certain Saberton Corporation is behind the disappearances, yet she can't shake the sense that a far deeper conspiracy is at work. With the small band of friends she can trust, Angel strikes out to track down the missing zombies.

From a seedy redneck bar in the backwoods of south Louisiana to a high society cocktail party halfway across the country, Angel claws her way through corporate intrigue, zombie drugs, and undead trafficking. In no time at all she's embroiled in kidnapping plots and hostage negotiations--though for once she's the one calling the felonious shots. Add some breaking and entering, criminal damage, and a wee bit of terrorism, and Angel's up to her undead ears in the kind of trouble she excels at.

But when unexpected danger threatens to destroy her, all the brains and bravado in the world may not be enough to keep her from going to pieces.
ninharris posted to specficmarkets July 24 2014, 05:44

Calls for Submission: Delinquent's Spice &Truancy!

New calls for submissions! Delinquent's Spice & Truancy are two microzines focused on diverse, inclusive and hybrid retellings of folktales/fairytales. Delinquent's Spice (hypertext, collaborative storytelling project:formerly Demeter's Spicebox)'s reading period opens in October. Truancy's reading period is now open. Do check it out.

Submissions calls for two new folk and fairytale microzines:http://delinquentspice.com

cszego posted to bakkaphoenix July 22 2014, 21:37

HOT NEW BOOKS

... for a hot, hot week.

Hardcover
Full Fathom Five, Max Gladstone
Seeders, A.J. Colucci

Trade Paperback
More Than This, Patrick Ness
Ace Of Skulls, Chris Wooding
Eye Of Minds, James Dashner
Fall Of Five, Pittacus Lore
Silent History, Eli Horowitz

Mass Market
The Troop, Nick Cutter
Poison Promise, Jennifer Estep
Second Nature, David Mack
cszego posted to bakkaphoenix July 21 2014, 16:22

BEN'S BIRTHDAY SALE

It's Ben's birthday, so we're having a sale! It's a pretty good sale, too. We have a clearance table full of books: you can fill a bag for just $5.

That's right, a whole bag of books for $5. Of course, there's some fine print. Like:
- we'll give you the bag.
- if it rips, we'll give you another.
- if that one rips, consider getting two bags
- you can only fill your bag from the clearance table. But that table is filled with Very Cool Books in excellent condition. And we'll refresh it regularly.
- the sale runs right through to the end of Sunday July 27th.
jpsorrow posted to dawbooks July 21 2014, 14:24

Book Discussion: "Shattering the Ley" by Joshua Palmatier

Time for the next book discussion for the July releases! And it happens to be the second hardcover release this month, Shattering the Ley, by me, Joshua Palmatier. This is the first book of a new series, so if you've never read me before, now's your chance to get started. Here's the cover art and cover copy. If you've already read it, what did you think? And since I'm the author, if you have questions about the book (before or after reading it), just ask!





Cover Copy: Erenthrall--sprawling city of light and magic, whose streets are packed with traders from a dozen lands and whose buildings and towers are grown and shaped in the space of a day. At the heart of the city is the Nexus, the hub of the ley line system that fuels Erenthrall and links the city and the Baronial plains to the rest of the continent and the world beyond. The Prime Wielders control the Nexus, but it is the Baron who controls the Wielders and the rest of the Baronies through a web of brutal intimidation enforced by his bloodthirsty guardsmen--the Dogs--and his unnatural assassins--the Hounds. When a rebel group called the Kormanley seeks to destroy the power network and break the Baron's chokehold on the ley, two people find themselves caught in the chaos that sweeps through Erenthrall and threatens their entire world.

At the age of twelve, Kara Tremain thinks she knows what her life will be like after she finishes school: she'll work on repairing old clocks--both the mechanical ones and those powered by the ley--just like her father. But, drawn to Halliel's Park, called there by a low, persistent hum only she can hear, Kara learns that she can manipulate the ley, that she is a Wielder, destined for something far greater. Yet as she grows up and masters her abilities, she also uncovers the forbidden truth behind the ley lines, a truth that the Prime Wielders will do anything to keep hidden.

Allan Garrett wants nothing more than to be one of the Baron's Dogs. Charged with rooting out the Kormanley, he finds he has a talent for investigation. Yet the tactics of the Dogs are too brutal and vicious for his taste. But that revelation comes too late, for no one can leave the Baron's guards--once a Dog, always a Dog. As the terrorist attacks escalate, he finds himself trapped . . . even as he discovers he is the key to the secret that could shake the ley system to its core and destroy the Baron's tyrannical reign.

As both Kara and Allan become inextricably caught up in the political battles of the Barons and the Wielders, they are also sucked into the violent turmoil caused by the Kormanley. And they soon find that the city holds more mysteries and danger than they could possibly have imagined. As the tension between the Barons, the Wielders, and the Kormanley reaches its peak, Allan and Kara may prove the pivotal factors in Erenthrall's destruction . . . or its salvation.
inverarity posted to sf_book_reviews July 20 2014, 17:55

Hugo Reviews 2014: Best Novelettes

I've now read all the Hugo nominees for Best Novelette (a category I still think is an unnecessary insertion between "short story" and "novella"), and I was more impressed than I was by the Short Story nominations. That said, nothing stood out as something destined to be a classic of the genre.

Ted Chiang, Vox Day, Aliette de Bodard, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Brad Torgersen.




My complete list of book reviews.
jpsorrow posted to dawbooks July 17 2014, 15:14

Book Discussion: "Elisha Magus" by E.C. Ambrose

Time for the first July book discussion. We have two hardcovers this month, so let's start with Elisha Magus by E.C. Ambrose, the second book in the Dark Apostle series. I enjoyed the first book in this series and can't wait to get to the second. What about you guys? Who's read it, and what did you think?





Cover Copy: Elisha, a barber-surgeon from the poorest streets of benighted fourteenth-century London, has come a long way from home. He was always skilled at his work, but skill alone could not protect him on the day that disaster left his family ruined and Elisha himself accused of murder. With no other options, Elisha accepted a devil's bargain from Lucius, a haughty physician, to avoid death by hanging--by serving under the sadistic doctor as a battle surgeon of the king's army, at the front lines of an unjust war.

Elisha worked night and day, both tending to the wounded soldiers and protecting them from the physician's experiments. Even so, he soon found that he had a talent for a surprising and deadly sort of magic, and was drawn into the clandestine world of sorcery by the enchanting young witch Brigit--who had baffling ties to his past, and ambitious plans for his future. Yet even Brigit did not understand the terrible power Elisha could wield, until the day he was forced to embrace it and end the war . . . by killing the king.

Now, Elisha has become a wanted man--not only by those who hate and fear him, but by those who'd seek to woo his support. Because, hidden behind the politics of court and castle, it is magic that offers power in its purest form. And the players in that deeper game are stranger and more terrifying than Elisha could ever have dreamed.

There are the magi, those who have grasped the secrets of affinity and knowledge to manipulate mind and matter, always working behind the scenes. There are indivisi, thought mad by the rest of the magical world: those so devoted to their subject of study that they have become "indivisible" from it, and whose influence in their realm is wondrous beyond even the imaginations of "normal" magi. And then there are--there may be--the necromancers, whose methods, motives, and very existence remain mysterious. Where rumors of their passing go, death follows.

But death follows Elisha, too.
jpsorrow posted to dawbooks July 17 2014, 15:01

Book Review: "Alien in the House" by Gini Koch

This is the seventh book in the Alien series from Gini Koch. I'm desperately trying to catch up on this series, since the books are fairly large in size and she's producing them at two per year. I'm now two books behind, but hope to catch up before the tenth one comes out at the end of the year. This is a fun, action-packed quasi-SF series, with some romance elements thrown in. But in the recent novels, the romance aspects have taken a back seat, which makes the books much more appealing to me. Not that I hate romance, but I'm much more interested in the SF aspects. And of course the fun.





In this book, Kitty Martini and crew host a party for the DC elite, since they're now part of the Diplomatic Corps, and of course one of the newest Representatives in the House (and an Alien sympathizer) is murdered almost immediately. Everyone at the party is a suspect . . . except everyone who's anyone is at the party, so it doesn't narrow down the list much. But as Kitty begins to investigate, they discover that an unhealthy number of Representatives have been "accidentally" killed during the past year, and the deaths are escalating. When Jeff is asked to replace the Representative killed at the party, he becomes one of the targets. Now Kitty must find out who's behind the killings before they have a chance to kill anyone else. But in the process, she finds out that maybe there's really one Mastermind behind not just the deaths in the House, but perhaps all of the conspiracies she's uncovered since she killed her first Superbeing with hairspray and a pen.

Again, this series is really just good old fashioned rollicking fun. It's fast-paced, with conspiracies oozing out of every opening, bad guys (some thought dead) appearing around every corner, assassins on every rooftop, and SF elements that are more along the lines of the 50s B movies than hardcore science. Not that it's all fluff. You have to keep your brain engaged so you can follow all of the unraveling plotlines. For a brief time in this series, those plot threads were far too complicated to follow, but this book and the most recent ones have backed off on the complexity a little, and I think they're better books for it. Focusing in one a few of the ongoing conspiracies, while keeping the others in the background, makes for better reading and gives the reader more focus.

This book has a pretty clear plotline, easy to follow, with only a few side elements that confuse the matter in the beginnings. Basically, those are the red herrings. I enjoyed the murder mystery here, as well as the added thriller aspects introduced because of the plot; it starts to feel like a political suspense novel with the politics, assassins and conspiracies. So it has a slightly different flavor than the previous books, which is good. My biggest issue with the plot is that I felt it took far too long for the characters to figure out the reason why the Representatives were being killed. It seemed obvious to me what the reason would be almost from the start, and yet Kitty and crew don't figure it out until well after the halfway point, and then they take even longer trying to convince others that this is the reason when those other people should have realized it much sooner as well. It was a little hard to believe some of the characters took that much prodding to convince.

But, aside from that, I loved the noir-ish, suspense feel of the book, especially the political assassination aspects. The romance elements in the book were extremely light, which I like, but I know some of you will be disappointed with. I think it's one of the better of the recent books in the series. If you're looking for some action-packed SF with romance on the side, check this series out.
sfwa_admin posted to sfwa July 17 2014, 01:04

Caren Gussoff and the Birthday Problem

Interview by Cat Rambo.

Photo by Folly Blaine

Seattle writer and frequent SFWA blog contributor Caren Gussoff describes her newest novel, The Birthday Problem, as her “zombie book.” If she’s telling the truth, then The Birthday Problem turns all zombie novels, literally, on their head; in the book, a pandemic-level mental illness caused by malfunctioning nanobots is the root of the transformation. Originally conceived as an homage to Greg Bear’s Blood Music, Gussoff’s novel, out from Massachusetts-based publisher Pink Narcissus Press, strives to answer many of the same questions Bear’s masterpiece does while drawing deeply from her literary background and the Pacific Northwest setting.

What is the most interesting way you have explained the mathematical concept of the birthday problem?

I’ve mostly just had fun having people guess! I’ve yet to have someone not already familiar with the birthday problem even come close.

The birthday problem is a mathematical concept that tests both what we know about probability and the ways we, as individuals, subconsciously think about our own special uniqueness. The problem itself asks a simple question: how many people do you need in one room to have a greater than 50% chance that two of them will have the same birthday?

The answer is just 23. You need 23 people in one room, randomly selected, to have a greater than even chance two will share the same birthday. With 23 people, there are 253 combinations of people/birthdays, which brings the probability of two people/one birthday above 50%.

Most folks are shocked it’s so few. Firstly, humans tend to be terrible at predicting how probable something is in reality…there are many theories why, but none that fully answer why our subjectivity is so off. Secondly, birthdays have significance in our culture, and we personalize the day on which we were born so much, to the point where it feels unlikely, somehow — though most people can’t fully explain why — that the math shakes out like that.

That entire notion, of how we consider probability, and therefore luck, coincidence, and even fate, is a driving theme in the novel…in fact, important enough to give the book its title (The Birthday Problem).

–What are you doing to promote the book?

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from SFWA | Comment at SFWA

cszego posted to bakkaphoenix July 15 2014, 20:20

MOST OF THIS WEEK'S NEW BOOKS

(except for the ones that will probably arrive ten minutes after I post this. OF COURSE.)

Hardcover
Half A King, Joe Abercrombie

Long Mars, Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter
Book Of Life, Deborah Harkness
Ninja Red Riding Hood, Corey Rosen Schwartz
Shadow's Curse, Amy McCulloch

Seconds, Bryan Lee O'Malley
Last Orders, Harry Turtledove
Dr. Who: The Shakespeare Notebooks, Justin Richards

Trade Paperback
Year's Best Science Fiction Vol #31, Gardner Dozois, ed.
Rebel Spring, Morgan Rhodes
Queen Of The Tearling, Erika Johansen
Wells Bequest, Polly Shulman
Fist Of Demetrius, William King
Through The Woods, Emily Carroll
World Of Trouble, Ben Winters
Doomed, Chuck Palahniuk
Outsorcerer's Apprentice, Tom Holt
Raven Flight, Juliet Marillier
Raising Hell, Norman Spinrad
Eleanor, Johnny Worthen
Help For The Haunted, John Searles
sfwa_admin posted to sfwa July 14 2014, 16:16

Prometheus Award Winners Announced

The Libertarian Futurist Society has announced its Prometheus Award winners for 2014.

There was a tie for Best Novel: The winners are Homeland (TOR Books) by Cory Doctorow and Nexus (Angry Robot Books) by Ramez Naam.

The other Prometheus finalists for best pro-freedom novel of 2013 were Sarah Hoyt’s A Few Good Men (Baen Books); Naam’s Crux, the sequel to Nexus (Angry Robot Books); and Marcus Sakey’s Brilliance (Thomas & Mercer).

Lois McMaster Bujold wins Hall of Fame for Falling Free

The Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) winner is Falling Free, Lois McMaster Bujold ‘s 1988 novel that explores free will and self-ownership by considering the legal and ethical implications of human genetic engineering.

The other 2014 Hall of Fame finalists: “As Easy as A.B.C.,” a 1912 short story by Rudyard Kipling;  “Sam Hall,” a 1953 short story by Poul Anderson; “ ‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” a 1965 short story by Harlan Ellison; andCourtship Rite, a 1982 novel by Donald M. Kingsbury.

The Prometheus Hall of Fame award for Best Classic Fiction honors novels, novellas, stories, graphic novels, anthologies, films, TV shows/series, plays, poems, music recordings and other works of fiction first published or broadcast more than five years ago.

Leslie Fish wins Special Award

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from SFWA | Comment at SFWA

jpsorrow posted to dawbooks July 14 2014, 12:51

Book Discussion: "Blood Pact" by Tanya Huff

The next book discussion is for the trade release of Tanya Huff's popular Blood series, Blood Pact. This is the last of the June releases, and then we'll start up the July ones. I'm pretty sure a ton of people have read this book already. So what did you think?





Vicki Nelson has received the call that no daughter ever wants to receive--that her mother has died. Marjory Nelson’s coworkers at the Queen’s University Life Science Department told her that she suffered a heart attack, and that they’d be waiting for Vicki to arrive in Kingston to make the funeral arrangements. But what begins as a personal tragedy turns into the most terrifying case of Vicki’s career, when her mother’s body disappears mysteriously from the funeral home. Someone at the University is determined to learn the secret of life after death . . . and they’ve decided to make Vicki’s mother part of their horrifying experiments.

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