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February 2018 ebook roundup

Binti: The Night Masquerade

Binti: The Night Masquerade

And now: the February 2018 ebook roundup!

This might wind up being my last one involving Barnes and Noble, after news this week that they’ve instituted some brutal layoffs. The Digital Reader talks about this story here, and there’s a similar and more in-depth post on tumblr here.

It’s very telling that the only ebooks I’ve bought from B&N in the last couple years have been due to ebook settlement credit or gift cards to spend. Most of the B&N purchases in this post were because I got my yearly VISA gift card from work. And I blew half of that on a B&N card because Kobo doesn’t sell gift cards here in the States, or at least not anywhere I’m likely to shop.

A few of these are ebook rebuys, for things I’d already bought on the iBooks store but which I wanted in a more accessible form. And getting B&N books into my master library in Calibre is slightly less irritating than doing iBooks.

The Amazon purchases are also because I had credit to spend. (In this case, from returning a gifted CD that I had already.)

Anyway, here’s the list!

From Amazon

Under the Empyrean Sky, Blightborn, and The Harvest, by Chuck Wendig. This is a YA dystopian trilogy by Wendig, and I got ’em all because they were on sale for 99 cents each.

From B&N

  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West. I don’t normally read non-fiction, but this came recommended to me. And since Dara and I got to see Lindy West as the Not My Job guest at the Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me show in Seattle this past December, where she was quite awesome, I went ahead and picked this up.
  • Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer. This must have gotten recommended to me at some point? It’s a middle grade series about a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind, with fairies involved, and probably other supernatural hijinx as well. It seems like fun along the lines of Phineas and Ferb. We’ll see!
  • Rebels and Lovers, by Linnea Sinclair. SFR.
  • The Hobbit, which of course needs no introduction. This ebook edition is the special enhanced version that has additional art and audio embedded in it.
  • Semiosis, by Sue Burke. SF. This one has been getting talked up a lot on Tor.com and I thought it sounded intriguing, so I snapped it up. Liz Bourke reviews it for Tor.com here.
  • Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor. SF. The final book of Okorafor’s Binti series, which so far I have enjoyed quite a bit.
  • It Devours!, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. The second Night Vale novel!
  • Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz. SF. Another book I’ve seen talked up on Tor.com in the last several months, and which I’ve picked up out of interest in the samples and reviews I’ve read there. Notably, this review by Brit Mandelo.
  • Wind From a Foreign Sky, by Katya Reimann. Fantasy. This is an ebook rebuy of a book I meant to read a very long time ago.
  • The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin. Fantasy. I’ve received multiple recommendations for this. And on general grounds of “this won a Hugo” and “why yes I do want to read more things by women and by WoC in particular”, this clearly needs to be in my library.

But wait there’s more

I do also have one more book to mention, which I didn’t pick up from a bookstore. This is Capricious: The Gender Diverse Pronouns Issue, a special issue of the magazine called Capricious. I supported their Indiegogo to do this special issue, and received it in both ebook and print form.

If this sounds like a neat thing to you, you can find out more about the special issue right over here! They’re selling the print edition through Amazon as well as B&N, although in light of the news I mentioned at the top of the post, if you want the print copy, Amazon is probably your best bet. (I can however say that the print copy is nice. It’s shaped like a book, not a magazine at all.)

17 for the year.

Other People's Books

Last ebook roundup from 2017, first of 2018

An overlapping ebook roundup post, because I was too laggardly to do part of this in the tail end of December. So here it is now, halfway into January!

Picked up from Kobo:

  • Into the Drowning Deep, by Mira Grant. For general obvious “because Mira Grant” reasons!
  • Beren and Luthien, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’d already bought this in print form, of course, but I wanted it in ebook too. And the ebook finally went on sale for $2.99, so I leapt all over that!

Dara gave me two titles from Amazon as a holiday gift, and I asked for these on the grounds that they were cheapest on Amazon:

  • Patience and Sarah, by Isabel Miller. Wanted this because it is described as a historical lesbian romance, and that certainly sounds like something that requires exploration.
  • The Tale of Mu, by Richard Beckham II. This has been on my list for quite a while, and as I recall, I probably noted it at a con and found it interesting enough to look up later in digital form. We’ll see if that holds true.

These were the December purchases, and they finish my 2017 tally up at 62.

Onward into 2018! Picked up from Barnes and Noble because I had a bit more backlogged credit to spend:

  • Crooked, by Richard Pett. Got this one because it’s one part fantasy and one part horror, from what I see in its blurb. With a side helping of Lovecraftian atmosphere, too.
  • Fortune’s Pawn, by Rachel Bach. SF/Romance. Grabbed this one because it sounded like fluffy fun, and because it was on sale for $2.99.

Editing to add: NO WAIT I forgot one. I just went and saw Alan Doyle perform at the Triple Door this week! And while I was at that show, I grabbed a hardback copy of his second book, A Newfoundlander in Canada. I already have this in ebook form, but I wanted a print copy too on general Because Supporting Alan grounds.

And that’s 3 so far for this new year.

Other People's Books

Gorgeous French romance covers ebook roundup

La Gouvernante insoumise

La Gouvernante insoumise

Time for another ebook roundup post! Courtney Milan is one of the authors in the narrow band of “historical romance authors I enjoy reading”. And Goodreads has helpfully informed me that she has a giveaway going on their site for the French edition of her book The Duchess War, which is called Le Secret de la duchess! I already have the English edition of this in ebook form, but as soon as I laid eyes on the cover, I jumped on this giveaway, because:

  • Always up for an opportunity to amuse myself with practicing my French
  • Courtney Milan is an awesome writer, and
  • Gadzooks, the covers on the French editions of this series’ books are eye-poppingly gorgeous.

The English edition ones are pretty as well, don’t get me wrong. As romance novel covers go, I like the ones that have vividly colored gowns on the heroines. But oh goodness the French editions. Lovely.

You should, I think, be able to see them here on Kobo’s site!

Also worthy of note: the novella that opens this series, which is The Governess Affair in English and La Gouvernante insoumise in French, is available for free. If you’re a romance reader who likes to read in languages other than English, note as well that she has other translations available for this same book. I saw German, Spanish, and Dutch editions of this available on her Smashwords page. (Note, however, that only the German and Spanish editions as of this writing are free.)

Anyhow: I scarfed the French edition of the novella for important Gorgeous Cover and Language Nerdery reasons. Which also reminded me that I needed to do an ebook update in general, as my inbox is teetering! So here you go.

Acquired from Kobo

  • La Gouvernante insoumise, by Courtney Milan. French translation of her novella The Governess Affair, which is book 0 of her The Brothers Sinister series. (Or, in French, Les frères ténébreux.)
  • Taste of Marrow, by Sarah Gailey. SF (of the alternate history variety). Book 2 of her River of Teeth books. Liked book 1 quite a bit, so had to get this one too!
  • All Systems Red, by Martha Wells. SF. Book 1 of her Murderbot Diaries series, which I am getting on the general grounds of being highly amused at her protagonist being an android calling itself Murderbot. ;D
  • Bloodline, by Claudia Gray. I’ve already read this; it’s the Star Wars novel Gray wrote to give some lead-in to the story in The Force Awakens. Snapped this up when it went on sale for a good price, because I quite enjoyed this story, and all the mileage of Leia being badass.
  • Wake of Vultures, by Lila Bowen. Book 1 of her Shadow series. This was another one I nabbed because it went on sale for a low price in digital format. Had my eye on this one due to a genderfluid protagonist!
  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire. Book 2 of the Wayward Children series, another of the Tor.com sales I jumped on a couple weeks ago. Read this pretty much as soon as I got it, because I was looking forward to reading the story about Jack and Jill and their door!

Acquired from Barnes and Noble

Grabbed these two books after meeting their authors in passing at Orycon this year, and being deeply amused that they were billing themselves as the gayest table in the dealers’ room. I had to reward that kind of promotional spirit!

Also, I had to spend some of the credit I still have at B&N.

Those books, both of which are put out by NineStar Press, are:

  • Ardulum: First Don, by J.S. Fields. SF. Lesbian protagonist! She’s a smuggler confronted with a slave girl who resembles one of the deities from her homeworld.
  • Trans Liberty Riot Brigade, by L.M. Pierce. SF. Intersex protagonist! And I gotta say I love the title.

8 total for this post, and 58 for the year.

Books, Other People's Books

Ebook roundup time: all the Mary Stewart!

It’s ebook roundup time again! I’ve been backing off a lot on ebook purchases lately. But this week, sufficient motivation has inspired me to splurge! Namely: Mary Stewart’s novels have finally come out in digital format. And as covered over here at the Bitchery, goodness gracious, the covers on those are gorgeous. And I do love me some Mary Stewart.

Thunder on the Right

Thunder on the Right

Better yet, I haven’t read a few of these, still. Doublechecking my library, I find that I have print copies of ten of the fifteen titles that I just bought off of Kobo. I’ll be re-reading those, along with the new ones! Just because a Mary Stewart comfort reading binge sounds delightful to me right now–partly due to our heading into storm season in the PNW, but also due to the general state of the world.

So here’s a roundup of stuff bought lately, because the Stewarts aren’t all of it, either. First, picked up at Kobo, here is the full list of Stewarts I just nabbed:

The ones I haven’t read yet

  • The Wind Off the Small Isles and The Lost One (which is actually a novella with a bonus added short story)
  • Thunder on the Right
  • This Rough Magic (a title which amuses me, as there is a Russell Crowe film called Rough Magic)
  • Stormy Petrel (I feel like I may have read this one ages ago, but I do not remember it and do not own a print copy)
  • Rose Cottage (whose cover amuses me as there is a distinct lack of roses in otherwise nice art)

The ones I have already read

  • The Gabriel Hounds
  • Wildfire at Midnight
  • Touch Not the Cat (AW YEAH and this one in particular is the one that triggered the Stewart bonanza, as I have high-school-era memories of reading this one!)
  • Thornyhold
  • The Moonspinners (except the cover art says The Moon-Spinners, even though the text does not, so I wonder about the discrepancy there)
  • The Ivy Tree, which apparently differs between the UK and US editions; I’ll be particularly intrigued to find out how
  • Nine Coaches Waiting
  • My Brother Michael
  • Madam, Will You Talk?
  • Airs Above the Ground

Meanwhile, also picked up from Kobo

I grabbed Alan Doyle’s second memoir, A Newfoundlander in Canada: Always Going Somewhere, Always Coming Home, because Alan Doyle. Of course I’m buying Alan’s next book. 😀

Nabbed in print

The mass market paperback edition of Julie E. Czerneda’s The Gate to Futures Past, book 2 of her Reunification trilogy.

I’ve also gotten a new influx of ebook settlement credit, so I’ll be picking out some titles on B&N again soon. But for now let’s get this post up.

17 total titles in this post, and 50 for the year.

Other People's Books

Sudden ebook binge roundup post

The Seafarer's Kiss

The Seafarer’s Kiss

I went on a bit of an ebook buying binge on Kobo, because every so often I just gotta, y’know?

Here’s what I got:

  • The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker. Fantasy. Grabbed this because it was on sale, and because I’d heard quite a few good things about it when it came out. It seems like an unusual premise and I am here for that!
  • It’s a regular C.E. Murphy marathon, because as y’all know, I do love me some Kitbooks. She’s just released an honest-to-god romance novel, Bewitching Benedict, which I nabbed because “historical romance” does fall into the narrow category of “romance I like to read”. But I also went back and got her Roses in Amber, which is her take on Beauty and the Beast, and Take a Chance, her superhero graphic novel.
  • Stars of Fortune, by Nora Roberts. Paranormal romance, book 1 of her Guardians trilogy. I don’t quite like Nora’s paranormals (or, “ParaNoras”, as the Smart Bitches site likes to call them) as much as I like her standalone romantic suspense or the J.D. Robbs. But I do occasionally like ’em for potato-chip type reading, and hey, I haven’t read this one yet. Plus, I saw it mentioned on this recent post on the Bitchery, and thought okay yeah sure, that might be some silly fun.
  • Acadie, by Dave Hutchinson. SF. Nabbed this newly released novella from Tor.com entirely because of the title, and because I am curious as to how big a parallel it’ll have to Acadian history in real life.
  • The Seafarer’s Kiss, by Julia Ember. YA fantasy romance. Nabbed this on the strength of this review on the Bitchery, because if you say the words “f/f retelling of The Little Mermaid wherein the little mermaid falls in love with a Viking shield maiden” to me, the words I’ll be saying in reply are “GET THIS INTO MY LIBRARY STAT”.
  • Final Girls, by Mira Grant. Horror. Because “new horror novella by Mira Grant”, you say? Why yes I WILL have some.
  • And last but not least, A Study in Scarlet Women, by Sherry Thomas. Mystery. Nabbed this because while I’d already heard about it and had half an eye on it on the strength of buzz about “genderbent Sherlock Holmes”, I finally caught up on a Smart Podcast Trashy Books episode in which the author is interviewed. And I would totally not have guessed by a pen name like “Sherry Thomas” that the author is ethnically Chinese–and when she described how her writing style sometimes incorporates anglicized versions of idioms from Chinese, the language nerd in me just had to see what her style is like. Plus, genderbent Sherlock Holmes. SIGN ME UP.

Alert readers may note that that’s three, count ’em, three different books that are on this list specifically because of the fine ladies at Smart Bitches Trashy Books. They ARE a huge influence on my reading, it’s true! (Duking it out recently a lot with Tor.com, in fact.)

33 titles now for the year.

Other People's Books

Clearing the inbox before I go to Quebec book roundup post

Snarfed off the Tor.com ebook club:

  • Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey. Fantasy, rather renowned, and it’s been on my To Read shelf for a stupidly long time. Grabbed the ebook to up the chances I might actually eventually read this thing. ;D

And meanwhile my author friend userinfommegaera‘s got a lot of medical challenges she’s got to deal with right now, and selling books is hard enough when you’re NOT dealing with medical challenges. (She said, from experience.) So I grabbed everything of hers on Smashwords that I didn’t have yet, to wit:

  • Sojourn, Book 1 of her Tales of the Unearthly Northwest. Cop crashes his car and winds up in a ghost town–and his version of Brigadoon is not a carefree musical.
  • Much Ado in Montana. Contemporary romance. Which, I might add, has been previously featured on Boosting the Signal!
  • Cross-Country: Adventures Alone Across America and Back. Non-fiction. An account of the author’s travels across the country! If you like travelogues, you might want to check this out.
  • Homesick: A Time in Yellowstone Story. This is a novella, Book 4 of her Time in Yellowstone series.
  • New Year’s Eve in Conconully, another Tales of the Unearthly Northwest book.
  • Reunion, the third Tales book.

24 for the year.

Other People's Books

Re-reading the Silmarillion, Part 2

I finished my re-read of The Silmarillion over the long weekend, so here are some more thoughts about what I noticed this time through!

Tolkien Re-Used Names, Like, A LOT

Here is a short list of names I totally recognized from The Lord of the Rings, and which still to this day cause me a little cognitive dissonance when I see them outside that story:

  • Minas Tirith
  • Echthelion
  • Denethor
  • Glorfindel

And hell, even within this specific book, the name Míriel shows up twice: once as the mother of Fëanor, and once as the last ruling Queen of Númenor.

The First Age Was Surprisingly Short

A big chunk of the book is devoted to the Quenta Silmarillion proper, which is the part of it easily conflated with the overall title. It’s in this part that the big highlights of the book happen–notably, the tale of Beren and Lúthien, and the tale of Turin. And, of course, the First Age is all about the Silmarils, as well as the smackdown eventually finally delivered to Morgoth.

But given this, if you look at the overall timeline of the world of Arda (which is what the world Middle-Earth is on is actually called), the First Age is surprisingly short compared to the other ages of the world. It’s only about 590 years long, compared to the multiple thousands of years that lead up to the First Age, and how the Second and Third Ages are both over three thousand years in length.

Yep, Still Love Me Some Beren and Lúthien

This really goes without saying, but I’ll say it again anyway. 😀 Here are the things about which Lúthien has zero fucks to give:

  • Her father trying to lock her up to keep her away from her man
  • The sons of Fëanor trying to lock her up to keep her away from her man
  • Morgoth himself trying to keep her away from her man
  • Her man trying to leave her behind on the mistaken assumption that he can handle going on a Silmaril-hunting quest all by himself
  • Death itself trying to keep her away from her man

And she is delightful from start to finish. It was a joy to be reminded as well about how friggin’ powerful she is–she uses her “arts” to grow her own hair Rapunzel-style to break out the high tree-house her father locked her up in, and then for good measure takes that hair, slaps a sleep-spell on it, and makes herself a cloak that she uses a bunch later to take down anybody in her way.

And she pretty much sings Morgoth’s crown right off his head, since she knocks him out with her power. Fuck yeah, daughter of Mélian!

Speaking of Mélian

I noticed and appreciated her more throughout this re-read. She’s on record as being the only one of the Maiar to fall in love with one of the Children of Iluvatar, enough that she bothered to physically incarnate herself so that she could be with Thingol. She is also on record as being the major power in Middle-Earth that Morgoth actually fears. Which is impressive, given that he’s a Vala on the order of Manwë himself, and she’s a Maia, and in theory of “lesser” degree.

Shoutout to the Women of the Silmarillion in General

This time through I noticed way more women having active things to do than I really remembered. Mélian and Lúthien are obvious, as is Nienor/Niniel in the tale of Turin and Elwing in the tale of Eärendil. But there are other women of note scattered all throughout the story, and who, even if they’re only passingly mentioned, clearly have an impact on the events that unfold:

  • Nerdanel, wife of Fëanor
  • Haleth, leader of the Haladin, who rules her people as a chieftain and who never marries
  • Morwen Eledhwen, wife of Húrin, mother of Túrin
  • Aredhel, wife of Eöl, mother of Maeglin
  • Emeldir the Manhearted, mother of Beren, who brings her people to safety at the urging of her spouse Barahir
  • Galadriel!
  • Míriel Ar-Zimraphel of Númenor, whose rightful place as Queen is usurped by her husband, and who tragically drowns in the sinking of Númenor by Iluvatar

And Emeldir as well as Galadriel are examples of Tolkien’s making his bolder females get nicknamed in ways that invoke masculinity–Galadriel’s mother names her Nerwen, “man-maiden”, in reference to her height and strength. Part of me is irritated at this conflation of strength and masculinity, I must admit, and yet!

Let it also be noted that before it finally fell, some of Númenor’s rightful rulers were in fact women.

Tuor and Idril Don’t Get Nearly Enough Camera Time

After the awesomeness of the tale of Beren and Lúthien, the second recorded joining of an Elf and a Man, Tuor and Idril, seems regretfully anticlimactic. Tuor basically shows up in Gondolin, hangs out for a few years, and gets permission to wed Idril, Turgon’s daughter. But there’s very little there to show why these two characters loved each other to begin with, and Idril’s marrying Tuor is mostly contrasted to how she doesn’t want to marry Maeglin.

Plus, at least for me as a reader, their story is eclipsed by the fall of Gondolin in general. Maeglin’s part of this I get, just because it’s his being captured by Morgoth’s forces that leads to Gondolin’s location being revealed. Maeglin’s motivations aren’t exactly complicated, but in contrast to him, Tuor and Idril are even less well sketched out. And that does a disservice, I feel, to the second recorded joining of Elf and Man EVER, not to mention the parents of Eärendil.

I do at least like that Idril had some agency in encouraging Tuor to make a secret way out, in case disaster befell. (Which it did.) And I also like that Tuor and Idril apparently eventually went into the West and were allowed to stay, despite Tuor being mortal, which I had forgotten. Tuor managed to get himself counted among the Firstborn, which, well done there.

Elwing: Also Pretty Awesome

Eärendil gets a lot of the press in his tale, as well as repeated mentions over in The Lord of the Rings–but re-reading his tale this time through, I had renewed appreciation for his wife Elwing. This woman, rather than give up the Silmaril she possesses to Fëanor’s remaining sons, tosses herself into the sea to escape. At which point she is transformed into a great white bird, which lets her fly to Valinor and eventually catch up with her husband.

Thus she gets to carry on the tradition of women being awesome in the family tree of Beren and Lúthien, as seems entirely befitting for the mother of Elrond.

More to Come

All of these thoughts are for events in the First Age–but I’ve got more to come regarding events in the Second Age. So I’ll put that into another post!