Books, Other People's Books

A tiny print book roundup with bonus complaints about ebook pricing

Noting this as I actually bought a couple of print books from Third Place the other day–things that fall into the general category of Authors Who Are Absolutely Vital For Me to Have In Print. The people for whom a lack of access to their books would make me sad, whether due to power outage or loss of reading devices or what have you.

The first of these purchases was In the Labyrinth of Drakes, Book Four in Marie Brennan’s excellent Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I’ve actually already read this and I did indeed love it immensely, but I definitely wanted the Lady Trents in print. And this one finally was available in trade now that the hardcover of Book Five is out.

Beren and Luthien

Beren and Luthi

Much more importantly, I acquired a hardback copy of the new Tolkien release, Beren and Luthien!

Y’all know my love of Tolkien, and you’ll probably also remember that I’m particularly fond of the tale of Beren and Luthien, which is hands down my favorite thing in the whole of The Silmarillion.

Relatedly, when Christopher Tolkien released the excellent Children of Hurin version of the other big tale from The Silmarillion–the tale of Turin Turambar–I nabbed that in hardback. I’ve said before how I had to have that in hardback just for the gorgeous illustrations, and out of general appreciation of the beauty of the work that went into putting that book together as an object.

So given all of these things together, you better believe I had to jump on the Beren and Luthien release.

Fair warning though to fellow Tolkien fans who may be covetously eying this release too: it is not cheap. (I got the hardback for $30.00, and while I could have gotten it for substantially cheaper at Barnes and Noble, I made a point of buying it from Third Place instead because local-to-my-house indie bookstores are love.) If you want that hardback and you’re more budget-pinched than I am, be aware you’ll get it for much cheaper on Amazon or with B&N, both of whom are showing prices for it around $18.

Likewise, the ebook is stupidly expensive right now. It’s clocking in at $16.99, and that price is the main reason I haven’t already nabbed this release as well in digital form. Do not mistake me: I will also be buying this book in digital form, because a) Tolkien pretty much would top the list of authors I require in both formats, and b) under no circumstances am I taking the hardback out of the house. But that price annoys me, as it’s yet another indicator of the return of agency pricing, and I have an ongoing gripe with the publishing industry seeming bound and determined to piss off digital readers by making ebooks as expensive as possible.

I’m genuinely torn, though, as to whether Tolkien is worth it to me to shell out for the ebook at that price anyway; if any author merits doing that out of all my favorites, it’s Tolkien.

Either way, the ebook edition will eventually be joining my collection too. And that’ll likely be the way I read it, just because I do most of my reading on commutes.

For now, that’s two additional book purchases to add to the tally this year, which has been quite small. (I’m actually trying to make an effort to put a dent in the backlog of books I actually own, doncha know.) 17 for the year.

Short Pieces

Here, have an excerpt about Caitlin and Gabien

As I’ve been lamenting a bit on social media lately, this year has, creatively speaking, blown so many donkeys that I’m pretty sure there isn’t a single unsatisfied donkey between here and Spokane.

But Dara having been working so hard on her Overwatch fic as of late (a fic which, by the way, you should read, because it’s totally awesome and you can find it here) has been a prod to my own ability to write, I think. So I’ve been lately instituting my strategy of “ridiculously stupidly low daily word counts”, just for the sake of being able to say I’ve written something.

I’ve also returned to dealing with my still-due novellas for the Warder universe, in no small part because I’ve realized that I really need to write Caitlin Hallett and Gabien Desroches’ meeting before I can really have them appear properly in Warder Soul.

So I’m back in dealing with their story. And hey, here’s an excerpt! Caitlin’s coming out of a very spiky conversation with her father Thomas, a conversation which has not gone well. Caitlin’s looking to console herself by busking on George Street.

Except she’s got a surprise waiting for her. Muahaha.

Excerpt behind the fold!

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Purveyors and Acquirers, by James D. Macon

Kinda awesome how, if I put out a reminder call for Boosting the Signal posts, I can get some! Today I have a post to share with you from a fellow NIWA member who hasn’t been here before: James D. Macon. James released Purveyors and Acqurirers, Book 1 of his Phosphire Journeys fantasy YA series, in November of last year. His piece today gives a glimpse of the mysterious organization known as The Trade. What are their goals? And do their stated goals align with how they truly function? That’s the ticket, as the Interested Party investigating them discovers in this scene.

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Purveyors and Acquirers

Purveyors and Acquirers

Interested Party, (IP), paced in the well-appointed room waiting for his guest to arrive. A dampened fire burned in the hearth and provided an unneeded warmth. The open window allowed a view of the rising moon. The door to the chamber opened and he saw a gentleman stylishly dressed in sky blue from head to toe, and wearing a wide brimmed hat sporting a blue feather from a bird IP did not recognize, walk in. The fellow smiled broadly and closed the door behind him.

“Hello, my name is Qwen. I am a Practitioner of the Arts and member of the Trade. I assume that you are Interested Party?” Qwen gestured with the fingers of his left hand and spoke softly, Aspscon Diatail Soni Visu.

IP stepped back. “Yes, I am. Welcome Master Qwen. I appreciate your agreeing to this interview. I am curious, did you conjure just now?”

“Only a small warding to keep our visit private.” Qwen answered pleasantly. His eyes darted about the chamber before settling on IP. Qwen said to no one in particular, “Please keep a look out for me.”

IP momentarily wondered who Qwen was talking to. IP gestured toward two chairs and eased into the one nearest him. “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but tell me what you know about the Trade?”

“Well, if I go into too much detail, then I would have to kill you. Don’t worry, it would only be business.” Qwen’s smile broadened as he sat.

Startled, IP stammered, “Ah, ah, I’m sorry. I was under the impression that this would be a candid discussion.”

Qwen assumed a listening posture with his head tilted to toward his shoulder. “Oh, that’s right, he’s supposedly safe from retribution. What was the Trade Master thinking arranging this interview?”

“Perhaps we should start with you telling me more about yourself.” IP decided a subject change was in order. He could push for more information on the Trade once his subject was no longer distracted.

Qwen leaned back and crossed his legs. “Earlier I stated that I was a Practitioner. What I didn’t say is that I am also a Tzefire, a person with an affinity to the element of air.” He glanced upward. “Yes, I was about to tell him about you.” He turned back to IP. “I have been privileged to be able to associate with beings from the Terrene of Air.”

IP was starting think Qwen was a bit eccentric, or worse. “No offence, but you seem to be conversing with the space above your shoulder. It is rather distracting.”

“Lean forward please.” Qwen conjured, Praesen Adspectis. He touched IP on the forehead.

IP looked with wonder at the four creatures he saw undulating in the air above Qwen. Serpentine in shape, their supple bodies were without appendages. Heads had large oval eyes and a maw that appeared and disappeared from view. IP thought it was nice to know that Qwen wasn’t touched in the head after all. “What marvelous entities.”

“They are known in our sphere as Zephyrs, although that is not what they call themselves.” Qwen informed IP.

This is fantastic, IP thought. What a story this may turn out to be. “What is most important to you, Master Qwen?”

Qwen sat thinking for a long moment before saying, “There are a lot of wrongs being done. Some by people with good intentions. If one could right just one of them, then change for the better can happen.”

“I see.” Now was the moment to get back to the purpose of this visit, IP thought to himself. “A source told me that the Trade has begun to have dealings with children. Is this true, Master Qwen?”

“It is not what you think. There is no nefarious plot for you to dig up. The children are orphans who have been offered apprenticeships. We are only doing our part to help the underserved of Arlanda.”

“Placed in that light, you make it seem as if there is nothing needing investigation.” IP intended to look into Qwen’s claim.

Qwen leaned forward. “How would you like to interview one or more of the children? I could broach the topic with the Trade Master if you wish. Better still I suggest you discuss your concern with Matriarch Izlan at the Temple of the Ladies of Life where the children live. You could even make a donation toward the children’s education. Any amount would be appreciated.”

“I’ll get back to you on that.” IP hadn’t planned on parting with his coin and didn’t want to admit to Qwen that he wasn’t comfortable around children.

A fifth Zephyr entered the room through the open window. It flew around Qwen’s head. Qwen stood. “My apologies Master Party, but my associate has brought an important matter to my attention. We will have to reschedule. By the way, nothing we discussed leaves this chamber.” Qwen didn’t conjure. He assumed the form of a Zephyr and sped out the window accompanied by his companions.

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About Me

And now, a nose report

I’m now seven weeks after the septorhinoplasty I had done to my nose, so here’s a bit of a checkin as to how I’m doing now!

I had my first fiddle lesson since the procedure yesterday (more on this in another post), and my teacher told me that my voice sounded different to her. This was not a thing I’d been easily able to discern myself, since of course I’m still hearing my voice from inside my head. But Lisa said my voice sounded less adenoidal to her, and given that she is of course a professional touring and teaching musician, she’s totally got the ear to clue in on that.

And if you’re wondering what ‘adenoidal’ means, don’t worry, I had to look up what the heck the adenoids are myself. Answer: they’re the uppermost of your tonsils, and they live behind your nose. Apparently enlarged adenoids can also cause breathing problems! Looking up ‘adenoidal’ as well, I saw that dictionary.com says that an ‘adenoidal’ voice is nasal and high-pitched. So by definition, this means my voice is sounding a little lower and perhaps not quite so constrained. And even if I’m not in a position to personally vouch for Lisa’s observation, it pleases me nonetheless.

Here are things I can vouch for, though.

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Happily Ever After, by Ruth A. Casie

It’s been a while since the last Boosting the Signal post, but one of the authors I’ve featured before reached out to me about her new release–and so I’m pleased to present to you another piece featuring romance author Ruth A. Casie. Her new book Happily Ever After dropped last week, and she’s sent me a character interview to give you all a taste of it! The character’s goal, I feel, probably dovetails rather well with Casie’s own–finding meaning as a writer. Though in Beth’s case, that meaning comes with a heaping side helping of meeting the love of her life bringing a spark to her work! Check out the interview below.

Special side note: I’m running this today rather than on Friday, as I’d asked Ruth for a revision to the piece which she kindly provided. So I’m going ahead and running this post today, in the interests of time and to still be as close to her release date as possible.

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Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After

Character Interview Questions
Beth Alexander in Ruth A. Casie’s Happily Ever After

Hi, I’m Beth Alexander, a New York Times, USA Today best-selling author. I want to thank you for inviting me to speak to you today.

How did you first meet your writer?

I met Ruth A. Casie at a book signing in a Bergen County New Jersey bookstore. We were both signing our new releases. We had a great time discussing the industry and finding out about each other. I look back on that discussion often. I knew she wrote historical fantasy, but had no idea she had branched out into contemporary romance. She was telling me about some of her concerns about changing genres. That turned out to be exactly what I did by the end of Part One of Happily Ever After.

Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

Actually, no. I write books. I’m not in them. I will say that this story shows you who I am, warts and all. But I learned a lot along this journey. (A chuckle) I thought it was all about getting back on lists, but it wasn’t that at all. It was finding a writer and, more importantly a better me. It wasn’t until then that I found my true writing voice and the love of my life.

What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?

Oh, the dialog. The repartee between me and Jarred is priceless, especially in the library scene. We were talking about the different way men and women react to stress and sex. That’s when my goal took a turn. We spoke so openly. I realized what I lacked and how it came across in my stories. I still can’t believe how open and frank I was with Jarred, nor the low timber of his voice and his eyes. Do you mind if I have a drink of water. It’s hot in here.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

I love to brainstorm new stories and think of ways to put my hero and heroine in danger. Sometime I have no idea how I’m going to get them out on the other side. That’s when they take the pen out of my hand and I’m simply their scribe. They never disappoint me.

Do you like the way the book ended?

I’m humbled by learning to love and trust myself and others. That enabled me to find my true love. Resurrecting my career was a nice secondary benefit. I wouldn’t have Ruth change a word.

What is your least favorite characteristic your writer has attributed to you?

I had been snarky on a social media chat that went viral. My fan base abandoned me. Let’s just say my reaction wasn’t pretty, nor something I want to remember.

What do you wear when you go to sleep?

Hmmm, nothing.

What is your most prized possession?

My Jimmy Choos!

What do you like most about where you live?

I live in Havenport, Rhode Island, a small town on the coast. It’s very similar to Newport. I’ve lived here all my life. My parents have retired to Florida and gave the house to me, my two brothers and my sister as a vacation home. Vacations became only Christmas. So I bought my brothers and sister out and now live there year round. They still invade for Christmas which suites me just fine.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy fall Sunday?

If Jarred is home and not giving lectures in New York City, he’s glued to the television watching a game and I’m right there next to him. When he’s away is like to catch up on my reading.

Thank you so much for having me today. I had a great time speaking with you. I hope your readers enjoy Ruth A. Casie’s Happily Ever After.

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Books

Audiobook review: The Dispatcher, by John Scalzi

The DispatcherThe Dispatcher by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Took me a while to finally get to this, since it’s been sitting around on my computer ever since it was originally released last year. I finally realized I had to sync it down to my phone so I could actually listen to it–which I have finally now done. And I am pleased to report it was quite satisfying.

I’ve generally always liked what I’ve read of Scalzi, although sometimes I like him better as a blogger than I do as a storyteller. In this case, though, I’d heard him do a reading of a chapter out of this at a recent convention, and I liked the premise well enough that I leapt on the offered free audiobook when it was released. Bonus that it was narrated by Zachary Quinto.

Story-wise, I found this to rank pretty high on the list of what Scalzi stories I’ve read (or in this case listened to) so far. The deliberate lack of description on a lot of his characters sometimes leaves me discontent, but in this case it worked well, and contributed to the lean, tight delivery of the story. Plus, given the overall schtick of the worldbuilding–i.e., if you’re murdered, chances are very high you will come back to life at home in your bed–was intriguing and added a dash of interesting philosophical discussion in some of the character dialogue.

Audiobook-wise, I found Quinto’s narration engaging as well. As one would certainly hope with a high-caliber actor, he brought some skill to his reading. Doing audiobook narration is not quite the same thing as a performance in a full-cast storyline, but Quinto did a great job differentiating the characters as he read for them. I was particularly impressed by the changes in his delivery for the female characters, particularly Detective Langdon. None of his changes in vocal delivery were blatant, but they were distinctive, and it was always clear to me who was speaking even when dialogue tags were not provided by the actual prose.

All in all a great little story. I liked it well enough that I’ll be buying the ebook edition, given that I originally got the audiobook while it was available for free. Four stars.

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Movies

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

Ever since I heard that there was finally going to be a standalone Wonder Woman movie, I’ve been living in anticipation of seeing it. Last night, my household went to do so. Picoreview: goddamn, you guys, that was satisfying. 😀 I had a few quibbles with it, but they were minor quibbles at best. I teared up twice during the movie. Chris Pine is now certainly my favorite of the small sample set of versions of Steve Trevor I’ve seen. And most importantly, Gal Gadot was a complete delight to watch, from start to finish.

I shall also note for the record that even at our showing at the local iPic theater, we had two different women in full on cosplay, one as Wonder Woman and another as Supergirl. And I spotted a third woman wearing a Wondy tiara. Because we are a nerd town. It’s TRUE.

Spoilers lie beyond the veil that hides Themiscyra from the world of men! And I DO MEAN SPOILERS.

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