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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.

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.

View all my reviews

Books

Not sure how long since my last ebook roundup

It’s been a while since I did a proper book roundup, particularly given that I’ve been out of commission with the recent surgery. But in the name of cleaning out my inbox, let’s get caught up, shall we?

Acquired from Barnes and Noble as I was spending backlogged ebook credit:

  • Winter Tide, by Ruthanna Emrys. Grabbed this because I’d liked the author’s short Lovecraftian story that was posted up on Tor.com, and because she and a colleague have been running a Lovecraft re-read on that same site. This novel is Emrys’ first novel, #1 of her Innsmouth Legacy series, expanding on her shorter piece “The Litany of Earth”.
  • Brimstone, by Cherie Priest. Historical fantasy. Purchased this on general “because Cherie Priest” grounds.
  • The Scholast in the Low Waters Kingdom, by Max Gladstone. This is a shorter story set in the world of his Craft Sequence novels, one which was posted up on Tor.com. I read enough of it to note that I liked what I saw, and that I wanted to have it around to read in depth.
  • Come See the Living Dryad, by Theodora Goss. This is another Tor.com piece, one which I read in full up on the site. I quite liked it and decided it was worth my 99 cents to have a local copy.
  • An Extraordinary Union, by Alyssa Cole. Historical romance. Nabbed this on the general strength of its review up on Smart Bitches, and also on grounds of diverse protagonists! I rather love this cover.
  • Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty. SF. Or rather, SF with a heaping helping of locked room murder mystery! The general conceit of this, six clones of a crew of a generation ship waking up to discover one of them is a murderer, sounds like fun.
  • Lightborn and Shadowborn, by Alison Sinclair. High fantasy. Books 2 and 3 of her Darkborn series, which I snapped up as soon as I finished reading book 1, Darkborn. As the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia series, this was my particularly savory cuppa tea.
  • The Collapsing Empire and Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, by John Scalzi. SF. Scalzi’s current release as well as one of his older ones which I was behind on acquiring!

15 for the year. (And, checking my older posts, I see it’s been over two months since my first ebook roundup post of the year! Which just goes to show how my rate of buying ebooks has dropped off dramatically since its heyday. But this is what happens when the price of ebooks goes up.)

Books

First book roundup of the year

Catalyst

Catalyst

A bit delayed on this, but it’s taken a while to get enough titles queued up as acquisitions to actually make it worth doing a post! I’ve been focusing lately on reading the books I actually own versus buying a whole lot of new ones–and as a result, I’ve actually built up a sizable credit balance on Barnes and Noble’s website. Which is kinda funny, given that I’ve stopped using them as my major source of ebooks!

But ANYWAY, here’s some recent titles I’ve picked up.

Acquired in print:

  • Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, by James Luceno. This is exactly what it says on the tin. More specifically, it’s the prequel story to the events of the movie Rogue One, getting into the backstory of the Erso family, and how Galen became involved in building the Death Star. I felt this sounded like fun, and to my pleasure, Dara gave me a hardback copy for my birthday.

Acquired in digital from B&N.com:

  • Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor. SF. Grabbed this because it’s the sequel to Binti, which I enjoyed quite a bit.
  • Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan McGuire. Grabbed on general “because it’s Seanan McGuire, duh” grounds, but also because a) I’ve been enjoying reading novellas lately, and b) I liked the base concept of this, a ghost who’s working on a suicide hotline.
  • Passing Strange, by Ellen Klages. Another Tor.com novella (see previous commentary re: enjoying these lately), which I have grabbed because why yes, a story about queer women in San Francisco in 1940 has my attention.
  • The City, Not Long After, by Pat Murphy. SF. Got this on the strength of James Nicoll’s review of it. It sounds like a surprisingly pacifistic post-apocalyptic scenario, and given the times we live in, that feels strangely reassuring. This’ll be the second thing of Murphy’s I’ll have read and while I was ambivalent about her Hobbit pastiche, I liked it well enough that I’m willing to try another book of hers.

This’ll make five so far for the year.

Books, Other People's Books

Post-Orycon book roundup post

Picked up on Kobo last month, and it’s taken me this long to actually post about it:

  • In the Labyrinth of Drakes, by Marie Brennan. Book 4 of her Lady Trent series. Which I have indeed already read, and good lord I loved it. (heart)

Picked up in print at Orycon this past weekend:

  • The Venomsword, by Stephen Hagelin. Fantasy. Picked this up because the author was working a table in the dealers’ room two tables down from me and Madison Keller. And he was a friendly young fellow who also is writing books about the fey, which is Relevant to My Interests! Also, I have to admit that I actually rather liked his extremely minimalist cover design, which he said was influenced by his affection for Japanese design sensibilities in book covers.

Pre-ordered on Kobo, so even though this doesn’t actually release till next year I’m counting it as acquired in this year’s tally:

  • River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey. Alternate history SF, a Tor.com novella which will be released in 2017. Grabbed this because I’ve been following the author on Twitter ever since her delightful livetweeting of watching the Star Wars movies, and lately I have also seen her reaching out to her readers in constructive ways as we all try to find our way through the bombshell of the election. Also, I totally want to read about her hippopotamus wranglers. More data on this story here.

61 for the year.

Books, Other People's Books

An undaunted by Typhoon Songda book roundup post

The last gasp of Typhoon Songda is on the way into the Puget Sound region as I type this, and chances are high we’ll lose power! But before that happens, hey, let’s get this post out of my Drafts queue, shall we?

Had a little bit of credit on the iTunes/iBooks store, so I grabbed a few Tor titles from that store–since Tor publishes DRM-free and DRM-free is the ONLY way I will buy from the iBooks store:

  • Song in the Silence, The Lesser Kindred, and Redeeming the Lost, all by Elizabeth Kerner. This is a complete trilogy, The Tale of Lanen Kaelar. I read Book 1 ages ago in print, and kept meaning to get caught up on it. It’s a fantasy story with a side helping of romance, which as y’all know is Relevant to My Interests. And this one had a decent take on a dragon hero that could ever so helpfully shapeshift to human form, as I recall. It’s been long enough ago since I read Book 1 that rereading it will be basically a clean slate.
  • Karen Memory, by Elizabeth Bear. Historical fantasy. Grabbed this because it’s set in the early days of Seattle, in our days of “seamstresses”! (And if you have ever taken the Underground Tour in downtown Seattle, you know why that’s a significant word in our history!)
  • Updraft, by Fran Wilde. Fantasy, YA. Have had my eye on this one since it came out last year, and since Book 2 just dropped, the price on this ebook finally dropped to 9.99. Wanted this because I thought the description of the society where it’s set sounded interesting, oriented around flight and altitude.
  • Last Song Before Night, by Ilana C. Meyer. Fantasy. Got this one because of the protagonist being a musician, and music appears to play very heavily into the plot. And I’m definitely partial to music-related SF/F, as y’all know!

And while I was at it, I also happened to pick up a couple of books in print from Third Place:

  • Voyage of the Basilisk, by Marie Brennan. Book 3 of the Lady Trents because yep, keeping up with the whole “I want this in print as well as digital” thing for this series.
  • This Gulf of Time and Stars, by Julie Czerneda. Paperback of Book 1 of her current Clan series, because yep, Czerneda I buy in print and digital as well!

58 for the year.

Books, Other People's Books

Post-VCON book roundup post

The Tropic of Serpents

The Tropic of Serpents

Acquired at VCON as freebies in my and Dara’s swag bags:

  • Far Arena and Avim’s Oath, by Lynda Williams. SF. These happen to be books 5 and 6 of her Okal Rel Saga, so there’s some question as to whether I could read these without having read books 1-4. I went and found the author’s website, where I learned that this saga is apparently a shared world effort. So I pinged the relevant Twitter address and am informed that I should be able to read these, though I may miss some backstory as a result. We’ll see what happens.

Acquired as a freebie from Audible:

  • The Dispatcher, by John Scalzi. SF. This is Mr. Scalzi’s latest novella release, and as he describes in this post on his blog, it’s currently available as a free audio download from Audible. (A print and ebook edition will be coming later.) I heard him do a reading of part of this at Westercon this past summer, and found it quite entertaining, definitely enough to get me interested in hearing the whole story. Plus, I want to hear how Zachary Quinto handles audiobook narration!

And, acquired as ebooks from Kobo:

  • The Tropic of Serpents, The Voyage of the Basilisk, and “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review”, all by Marie Brennan, all part of her Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I have already plowed through Tropic of Serpents, and have enjoyed it immensely. 😀 Basilisk is Book 3, and chances are high I will be acquiring this in print ASAP. The last title of these three is a Tor.com short, and takes place right after Book 3. I went ahead and snagged it to support the author, even though it can be read on Tor.com here.

50 for the year.

ETA: Whoops, forgot this month’s Tor.com ebook freebie: Range of Ghosts, by Elizabeth Bear. Make that 51 for the year.