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other people’s books


Preordering a bunch of things ebook roundup

This Gulf of Time and Stars

This Gulf of Time and Stars

Picked up from Kobo:

  • Zen of eBook Formatting, by Guido Henkel. Because this is the guy who wrote the excellent nine-part tutorial for how to do ebook formatting which I followed to do Faerie Blood, Bone Walker, and both of my short stories currently available. This is his extended guide for doing ebook stuff, and I wanted to give him some money to show some support. And also because I want to dive into the more detailed guide he has to offer.
  • Forever Your Earl, by Eva Leigh. Historical romance. Grabbed this because Eva Leigh is a pen name of Zoe Archer’s, and previous stuff I’ve read of hers (i.e., the very fun Blades of the Rose series) was awesome. This is Zoe trying her hand at historicals. Sign me up.
  • Bryony and Roses, by T. Kingfisher. Fantasy, a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale. T. Kingfisher is a.k.a. Ursula Vernon, and I grabbed this on the strength of James Nicoll’s excellent review.
  • A Strange and Ancient Name, by Josepha Sherman. Fantasy. Nabbed this because it’s the e-release of a book I very, very much loved when I originally read it, and my paperback copy is getting kind of worn around the edges. Sherman was actually also arguably a strong influence on my own writing, and if you like my stuff, you’ll probably like this book.

And, preordered from Kobo, on the general grounds of I NEED ALL OF THESE BOOKS RIGHT NOW and since I can’t have ’em, I will preorder them, and then will be able to go “OH HEY LOOK A BOOK HAS SHOWN UP WHAT AWESOME PERSON THOUGHT OF THIS? Thank you, Me of the Past!”:

  • This Gulf of Time and Stars, by Julie E. Czerneda. SF. This is not only a new book by Julie Czerneda, not only book 1 of a new trilogy following up on her previous stories involving the species known to the Galaxy only as ‘the Clan’, it’s specifically book 1 of a trilogy revisiting Sira and Morgan from A Thousand Words for Stranger. It’s going to bring the history of Sira’s people full circle, and reunite the split factions.
  • Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie. Also SF, and book 3 of Leckie’s amazing trilogy that’s been duking it out with other titles in the last couple rounds of the Hugos.
  • She Walks in Shadows, by assorted authors. Forthcoming Lovecraft-themed anthology, revisiting the Cthulhu mythos from a feminine perspective. GIMME.
  • Scandal Takes the Stage, by Eva Leigh. Book 2 of the series she’s started with the aforementioned Forever Your Earl

73 for the year.


Steampunk and urban fantasy and SF book roundup!

By Hook or By Crook

By Hook or By Crook

Picked up in print from Third Place Books:

  • Chapelwood, by Cherie Priest. Already bought in ebook, but Priest IS on my list of “people I want in both formats”! And also, see previous commentary re: Lizzie Borden taking an axe to Cthulhu. 😀
  • A Red-Rose Chain, by Seanan McGuire. Her latest October Daye novel, and since I’m finally starting to get caught up on these, I figured I should go ahead and buy the new one while I’m at it! Let it also be said that I really like the cover on this one, both for color scheme and for how the woman in the picture a) is facing forward and b) has a HEAD. But Chris McGrath’s art is consistently excellent that way, and I like seeing his interpretations of Toby as much as I’ve liked seeing his interpretations of Harry Dresden and Harper Blaine!

Picked up electronically from Amazon:

  • Dark Beyond the Stars. SF anthology, with all female authors. Grabbed this on general principles after seeing this post on the Mary Sue, describing how a troll in the Amazon reviews of this anthology took it upon himself to deride women writing SF. All signs point to this chucklehead doing it on purpose to try to draw attention to his own book, to wit, ugh. I’m not going to bother to name him; you can figure it out for yourself if you care, if you dig through the comments on the post. Me, I’d rather call attention to the antho, which I grabbed in no small part because Julie Czerneda did the intro on it and I DO love me some Czerneda. The ebook is an Amazon-only release, unfortunately, and the print edition is through CreateSpace–which is also Amazon. So if you care about either of those things but still want to support the anthology, you might consider contacting the publisher and asking if they’ll do a non-Amazon release.

Picked up electronically from Kobo:

  • Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor. SF. Novella released directly by, which I’m snagging out of general interest in increasing the presence of writers of color AND protagonists of color in my library, and also because the concept sounds awesome.
  • Demon Fare, by Cory Dale. Urban fantasy. Snagged this because of having featured it on Boosting the Signal!
  • City of Pearl and Crossing the Line, by Karen Traviss. SF. Books 1 and 2 of her Wess’har Wars series. I read Book 1 ages ago and quite liked it, and kept meaning to continue the series. Rebuy of both in ebook since they’re currently available for $3.99 each.
  • By Hook or By Crook, by Eleri Stone. Steampunk romance. Snagged this because Eleri is a fellow member of the Here Be Magic blog! But also because I LOVE her cover. Her heroine has a HEAD. And she’s actually LOOKING AT THE READER. AND! I love that “excuse me?” look on her face, as if she’s just lifted up her goggles to get a better look at whatever damnfool thing has just been done in her presence. Probably by the hero. ;D This? This is a cover that makes me want to learn more about who this person is, and what her story is. For bonus awesome, it’s currently available for 99 cents!

65 for the year.


Multi-genre ebook roundup

A Lily Among Thorns

A Lily Among Thorns

Picked up from Kobo:

  • Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. YA fantasy. Gotten since I’ve been hearing buzz about this all summer, and because I’m eager to see what Novik will do with a non-Temeraire novel.
  • Chapelwood, by Cherie Priest. Fantasy/Horror. Book Two of her Borden Dispatches, because Lizzie Borden had an axe and gave Cthulhu forty whacks FUCK YEAH. (And when she saw what she had done, she gave Azathoth forty-one! Presumably that’ll happen in this book. >:D Or so I would like to HOPE.)
  • A Lily Among Thorns, by Rose Lerner. Historical romance. Gotten because it’s on sale as of this writing for 99 cents, because I saw it posted about over here on Dear Author, because it got my attention with the description of “gender flipping historical” (by which it means, the heroine is the one who’s a hardened experienced individual with a criminal background, and the hero is the innocent one), and because I really rather love that cover. I like its color scheme and the relative chasteness of the kiss, and how both parties are in fact fully clothed. A refreshing change of pace. 😉

Preordered from Crossed Genres:

Ordered from O’Reilly Media:

  • Designing for Performance: Weighing Aesthetics and Speed, by Lara Callender Hogan. I saw this getting plugged on the Mary Sue, and after clicking over to the official site to read about it, I realized that a) this might actually be a decent book to brush up my day job skills, and b) I really like that the author is donating proceeds from sales to programs that encourage girls and women to get into coding. If you think this is an awesome thing too, go check the book’s site out.

Picked up from Smashwords:

  • Mad Science Institute, by Sechin Tower. YA. This was one of the books we were selling on the NIWA table at Worldcon, and I really loved fellow author Lee French’s pitch of this as “it’s a James Bond story, only with Tesla instead of Bond, and Tesla is a girl”. Plus book 2 has the title The Non-Zombie Apocalypse, which I gotta admit is a great title.

And lastly, picked up from Amazon:

  • Night Hawk, by Jolene Loraine. SF. This was another book being sold by the NIWA table at Worldcon–and in this particular case, the author herself was one of the ones working the table. I was very happy to have her as a co-table-runner, and was also quite envious of her gorgeous cover art. After hearing her talk to visitors to the table about how her book had a space-opera feel similar to Star Wars, as well as descriptions of her fully sapient horse-like creatures, I went ahead and snagged book 1 off of Amazon. (She’s Amazon-exclusive for the ebooks, so I’m buying from them for once.)

57 for the year.

Book Log

Book review: La Rivière des morts, by Esther Rochon

La Rivière des mortsLa Rivière des morts by Esther Rochon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It’s tough for me to review this novel properly. My French isn’t good enough yet to have truly understood the majority of what I read here–and it didn’t help either that certain aspects of Mme. Rochon’s style here made it difficult for me to follow the action.

One, I did at least figure out that the book’s divided into a section involving protagonist Laura Fraser as a young girl, and a section involving her as an older woman (post-menopausal? Again, my French isn’t that solid yet, so I wasn’t able to nail that down for sure). It baffled me that the book changed tenses between these two sections, from first person in the earlier part to third in the latter. That was a baffling decision, one beyond my meager French to properly understand; it may well have made much more sense to Quebecois SF/F readers, I don’t know.

Two, in both sections, there was a certain distinct detachment to the action. In the first part, Laura tells the reader a lot of her history, along the lines of “this happened to me” and “I felt such-and-such a way”, with very little of what was going on actually played out directly. The same held true in the second part, although at least there, there were a few more scenes of direct interaction between Laura and other characters, notably Valtar and Sirwala. This made it a lot harder for me to feel engaged by any of the characters.

Three, instead of getting much in the way of action and character dialogue played out directly, we get a lot of lengthy paragraphs of Laura being introspective about assorted things that trouble her as a girl (mostly “the French speakers think I’m weird because I have an English name, and the English speakers think I’m weird because I speak with a French accent, and I HATE ALL OF THEM and I’m going to go dream about being a spider now”), and later, assorted things that trouble her as an adult. Later, when she does actually have direct interaction with other characters (mostly Valtar), each paragraph of dialogue is likewise very long. On the one hand, I regret that my French was not up to the task of following much of this, because I’m certain I’d have engaged with Laura as a character much more if I could actually understand most of what the text was saying. On the other hand, even as an Anglophone reader who’s barely able to dip her toes into Quebecois SF/F so far, I kept feeling like the lengthy, expository nature of the dialogue was forced. I’d be really curious to know if it reads that way to Quebecois readers as well, or if this is just a matter of my being a beginner at French.

So far, the one other Quebecois SF/F novel I’ve successfully read was significantly different stylistically, and targeted for younger readers as well–so it was much easier for me to follow. This one, I’ll straight-up admit, was a hard slog. So for now I’m going to have to give it two stars. But I’ll want to try it again later, as my French improves, and see whether my reading experience is different.

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Boosting the Signal, Carina Press

Boosting the Signal: Lonely Shore, by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen

Earlier this spring I featured fellow Carina authors Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen, with their debut SF novel Chaos Station. Book 2 of that series, Lonely Shore, is now available from Carina, and so Jenn and Kelly return to follow up on the tale of Felix and Zander with a peek at another character–Zander’s brother, who is very motivated to track down his sibling and find out what’s happened to him! Check it out.


Lonely Shore

Still Searching

Brennan Anatolius signed the holographic invoice and with a few key swipes sent it back to his assistant for routing to the appropriate department before closing his wallet’s interface. Darkness settled around him like an old, worn blanket. The emulated sunset beyond his office’s windows had come and gone God knew how long ago—he’d noted it, in the vague way you’d notice the air circulators switching off on their usual cycle. Nothing to worry about.

Leaning back in his chair, he rubbed the bridge of his nose. He should go home. His wife, Roz, was waiting for him and she’d been damned patient these last few weeks. She knew how hard it had been to almost catch up to his youngest brother on Chloris Station, only to have Zander avoid him so completely it couldn’t be an accident. But what, really, had he expected?

After falling into the black hole of Allied Earth Forces covert ops, Zed had stopped carrying a wallet. Any messages sent to his official, AEF-sanctioned account had gone unanswered. Then there’d been the viral holo of Zed and his team saving a bunch of civilians against orders—followed closely by the end of the war. Brennan had been sure that Zed would contact his family then. But he hadn’t. Six months had crawled by without any contact—until Zed’s override code had been used on their family-controlled station, Chloris.

Brennan slouched into his chair, a posture he’d never allow himself during business hours. He had to be calm, in control, a CEO worthy of his father’s legacy. Part of him knew that worrying about Zed wasn’t helping his health—the doctor had suggested his recent bout of insomnia was due to stress. Brennan figured it just gave him extra time to track down his brother.

He pushed forward and pulled out his wallet again. All right. The last lead he’d gotten was about a week ago, when the Chaos had passed through the gate near Mars. He tried not to think about how close Zed had been to their family’s home station of Alpha—Anatolius Industries’ oldest and most luxurious station, in orbit around Earth. Brennan had already established that the Chaos hadn’t docked on Hemera Station at the Hub—the central location where all the galactic gates led—but it wouldn’t hurt to check again.

In the back of his mind, he knew his search was fruitless. The only reason he’d found a trace of Zed before was that Zed had been desperate to get aboard Chloris to help an old friend. His little brother had skills. If he wanted to stay hidden—and clearly he did—Brennan wasn’t going to find him.

Still, he had to try.

When his wallet chirped with an incoming call, Brennan almost let it go to mail. Until he saw the name accompanying it. He scrambled for his wallet, fingers shaking.

“Zed? Zed? Please don’t have hung up!”


Buy the Book: Amazon | Amazon UK | Nook | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play | Carina Press

Follow the Authors On: Official Site | Jenn’s Twitter | Jenn’s Facebook | Kelly’s Twitter | Kelly’s Facebook

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Oubliette, by E.M. Prazeman

The first piece for Today’s Boosting the Signal doubleheader comes from fellow NIWA member E.M. Prazeman! She’s the author of the Lord Jester’s Legacy trilogy, and having laid personal eyes on her covers, I can report that they got a LOT of attention at Norwescon this past April. I’m looking forward to checking out her work, although from what I’m seeing in this piece, one will clearly want to tread lightly around her bad guys. She’s going to let you into the head of one of them now.



E.M. Prazeman writes secondary world fantasies with strong historical leanings. Current works include The Lord Jester’s Legacy Trilogy (Masks, Confidante, and Innocence & Silence) and a short story which will appear in an upcoming anthology that will go on sale in November. Current works in progress are The Poisoned Past (Oubliette, Penumbra and A Dark Radiance), sequel series to The Lord Jester’s Legacy, and The Kilhellion, a sword and sorcery fantasy. The Poisoned Past will go on sale this summer. Oubliette looks good for an early June release! Now, please let me introduce to you a certain person from Oubliette whom you would not want to meet under any circumstances. If he succeeds, you’ll all get to see him again in Penumbra.


I’m a villain. I like it, and I’m good at it. I wouldn’t have become one, if people weren’t slow, stupid liars. Are you afraid? I don’t care if you are. Not anymore. I used to like fear, and blubbering, and people pissing themselves. I’m not sure what happened. For a while I thought I got bored with it, but honestly … don’t you look for a way to escape when I’m talking to you. I thought you weren’t as idiotic as the others, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered with you. That’s a compliment, and a gift. You’re exceptional. Too bad for you, hmm?

Anyway. Years ago when I raped a man, something went wrong. He liked it, in a way. He killed himself later, but that wasn’t what changed me. I’m pissed that he changed me, by the way. He and his wife. I can’t stop thinking about that look in his eyes. Release. A strange joy behind his fear, as if I’d set him free. He wanted to die then. I didn’t want to kill him. Fuck, I wanted more from him. I wanted to make him mine forever.

I find it curious that both people I harmed who liked it were men. I should have enjoyed it better, I think, if they were women, but a hole is a hole when it all comes down to it, don’t you agree? No? It’s all right if you disagree. I don’t mind. Truly. As if I would care what people think of me.

Anyway, since then, for the most part, I kept my work simple. I interrogated, mainly using my wits and their lack thereof. I tortured people sometimes if I thought they’d respond in the way that normal, rational people do when they’re in pain, but that seemed risky to me. I should have trusted my instincts. Because that boy.

That boy.

I can still hear his exquisite voice calling my name softly down the dungeon hall. Cock. His mouth cupped the word like he wanted to take me in. A Trace. A lover’s whisper. Cock, a trace. Cockatrice.

Oh for pity’s sake you didn’t know who I was? Am? Whatever. It’s so obvious to anyone who’s paying attention. They called me Cock in school. I deserved it, earned it, both for the good and the wicked reasons, though they tried to humiliate me and make fun of it. And then, when I graduated, I took the name Trace. Cock. Trace. I have no idea why no one makes the connection between Trace the Master Jester and Cockatrice, the dreaded highwayman. It’s not even that clever. What can I say? I was young and I think part of me wanted to give the people who hunted me a little help because I didn’t feel hunted. I wanted to play the fox to their hounds and I wanted them to get close because that is about as thrilling as you can imagine. But they never got close to catching me, no matter how many sacred guards they sent after me. Now I’m employed rather than a free agent. I work alongside sacred guards every day. My employer would protect me if I was accused, but the pathetic nut rubbers that try to play mavson these days still haven’t caught on.

The boy, you ask? None other than the infamous regicide, that dreaded and feared little boy, Lord Jester Lark. Have you seen him? He’s as short and slight as they describe, with his angelic little innocent face. You’d never dream he was dangerous at all, especially when he’s not wearing his jester’s mask. I made the mistake of hurting him. And oooohhh, how he yielded to me, gave in to the pain. How he took strength from his endurance. I wanted to whip him bloody and then force myself upon him.

I’ve gotten quite carried away. Hand me that drink.

Thank you.

He got away and I want him back. I don’t want you. But I need you. Not like I need him. I need your skills. Track him for me. They say he ran off into the woods. That’s rather like saying he sailed away across the wide ocean, isn’t it? But you’re going to find him for me. It shouldn’t take you long. I know where he began, and I think I know where he’s going. We need to intercept him. And when you find him for me, I’ll be so preoccupied with my prize you’ll be able to slip away from me. I won’t care. I’ll happily let you go. Here. I’ll even pay you in advance.

Ha! You’ve never seen five sol together in one palm? Well now you have, in your own hand, my friend. I might give you another five if you find him.

But. If you don’t find him, I’ll have to take my money back and try to satisfy myself with you. For this boy does inspire a strange lust in me, and the closer I get to him, the stronger my lust becomes. Now, don’t you worry about him. He’ll be far more interested in me than you. He might be strong enough to kill me, which will be a great relief to the living world. But I’m betting he won’t hurt me. I’m betting that he felt the same thrill I did when I gripped his hair so hard that some tore free from his scalp, when I forced him against that cold, hard stone.

A shame we were so rudely interrupted.

Compared to him, you’re not at all interesting. But if you’re all I’ve got, I will use you. So go get him for me. And make it quick. I’m more patient than I was as a youth, but that does not make me a patient man.


Buy the Book: Oubliette is not yet released, but follow the author for news on when it becomes available!

Follow the Author On: Official Site | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Log

Book review: Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before I continued my sweep of reviews of the Hugo nominees for Best Novel–and in particular, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword, I had to go back and get caught up on Ancillary Justice. And wow, am I glad I did. I’m very late to the game on this book, but I can see why it won ALL THE THINGS last year. Much has been said already about what Leckie pulls off with this novel, not only with the gender-agnostic society occupied by the main characters, but also with the dual plotline involving our protagonist, Breq. But I do have some thoughts on both.

Re: the gender-agnosticism of the Radch, this didn’t strike me as quite the Revelation(TM) as it might have done if I hadn’t read Samuel Delany’s Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand. But I have, and so the notion of people referring to one another as “she” no matter what their actual physical gender wasn’t particularly startling to me. I did appreciate how the worldbuilding allowed that even if the Radchaai’s language was gender-agnostic, the people themselves still had physical gender; the author has herself described that the Radchaai are after all humans, so yes, they do still have actual physical gender. This is supported in the text, when non-Radchaai react to gender cues that Breq has to work to actually parse.

That said, I’m of two minds about it. Half of me certainly delighted in being able to read a story wherein, if I so chose, I could imagine every single character as female. The other half of me wishes that Leckie would have gone further and used truly neutral pronouns–while at the same time, with my writer hat on, I can understand how that might have made her book harder to digest for the vast majority of readers. We do, after all, live in a still predominantly two-gender society, and furthermore, one which still considers “male” the dominant gender. There are factions of SF readers who have trouble admitting that women can star in SF novels–never mind write them. Heads already explode at trying to handle that. Asking them to handle people who don’t fit so easily into a gender binary is probably asking too much. (Though yeah, I’d like to see it happen anyway.)

And, re: the dual nature of the plotline in this book: yes, we’ve got a non-linear plot here, but one which has a coherent structure nonetheless, jumping back and forth between “present” time and a point twenty years prior. Once you get into the rhythm of it, you can follow along pretty clearly, even without obvious markers in chapter headers or anything of that nature. I appreciated that the book expected me to be clever enough to keep up.

But all of the above pertains to worldbuilding and plot structure. What about our protagonist? I loved Breq/One Esk Nineteen/Justice of Toren, and the entire notion of her being one segment of an entire ship’s consciousness. The book does a wonderful job at portraying what that multiplicity is like, even as it throws strong implications at you about the horrifying practices that make ancillaries for Swords and Mercies and Justices in the first place. But Breq in general is an awesome character, both as a ship and as the now-sole ex-ancillary bent on killing the Lord of the Radch. Breq’s body may be human (and there are hints that that body’s original personality might be recoverable), but her consciousness is not. Yet there are little quirks and nuances throughout Justice of Toren’s portrayal that tell you that the Ship has had literal centuries of time to absorb personality traits from all of its ancillaries. And to be sure, I’m particularly partial to how Justice of Toren liked to sing. Often with multiple mouths at once.

I do have to admit that despite the gender-agnosticism of Radchaai society, I kept looking for cues as to the genders of characters–notably, Seivarden, but others as well. I caught myself doing it, and in fact tried to force myself not to once I realized what I was doing, because I think that was part of the book’s overall point. Though in Seivarden’s case, gender cues are in fact explicitly called out early on, and it’s obvious that Seivarden is in fact male. (And now, writing about that character, I find myself actively torn between saying ‘her’ and saying ‘him’ because HA YES I see you what did there, Leckie.)

Plot-wise, I found the whole thing very focused, honed to crystalline clarity, with the dual plots ultimately leading to an intriguing and explosive resolution. Breq’s grudging caring for Seivarden is an excellent counterpoint to the drama that unfolds on Shis’urna, and Justice of Toren’s eventual destruction, with One Esk Nineteen as the only survivor. Overall, it was a distinct pleasure to read, particularly as preparation for going straight into Ancillary Sword. Five stars.

(Editing to add: and OH YES, I totally forgot to mention: in the Ancillary Justice Movie In My Brain, Breq is totally played by Summer Glau.)

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