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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Getting It Back, by Elizabeth Harmon

I meant to have this post ready to go earlier today–but if you follow me on the social networks, you’ll probably have seen that we had a windstorm in Seattle earlier this week, and I was without power for a couple of days. THAT SAID: neither wind nor rain will stand in the way of boosting a signal for long! Particularly if a fellow Carina author is involved. I had Elizabeth Harmon on the blog earlier this year, and she’s back now for an early look at her next Carina release, the contemporary romance Getting It Back. This is book three in her Red Hot Russians series, and she’d like you all to meet her hero Misha, who has very firm ideas about what he wants to do in the world of figure skating! Pre-order links for the book are below!


Getting It Back

Getting It Back

Imagine sacrificing everything to achieve your dream…and falling short.

Since leaving competitive figure skating, Mikhail “Misha” Zaikov, the hero of Getting It Back, my upcoming contemporary romance, and the third book in the Carina Press Red Hot Russians series, has been haunted by what might have been.

Once Russia’s top male figure skater, Misha was the favorite to win gold at the Lake Placid Winter Games. But an unlucky fall cost him victory. Though he hoped for another chance…a devastating injury brought a too-early end to his skating career.

He’s tried to turn his back on figure skating, but Misha is unmoored and drifting—until he decides to return to competitive ice.

Misha is sure a successful comeback will help him get back everything he’s lost—fame, fortune, and the love he’d thought was gone forever. But if the stakes are high, the risks are higher. Another injury could prove catastrophic, and he needs the help of Amy Shepherd, a young American athletic trainer, who is the only woman he’s ever loved. Amy wants to help Misha reach his dream…but is just as determined not to risk her heart.

Read on, as Misha shares a little of his story.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a figure skater.

That might sound like exaggeration, I know. How can a little kid be a skater? But in Western Siberia where I grew up, skating was as natural as running or jumping. I started, wearing my cousin’s old hockey skates. But when I was five, I got brand new black figure skates for New Year. From then on, there was never doubt of what I would be.

A skater, just like my papa.

You see, my father was Ilya Zaikov, one of the best men’s singles figure skaters in Russia, if not the world, in early 1980s. He competed in many championships and would have skated at Sarajevo in 1984, but was injured and forced to retire. His life after skating didn’t go as planned. Ilya hoped to coach in Moscow or St. Petersburg, working with our country’s best skaters. Instead, he was sent to work as skating instructor in the poor, coal-mining town where I was born.

His life was filled with hardship and disappointment, but there was nothing I loved more than watching him skate. When he gave me his old medal from Soviet National Championship, and said that one day I would win one too, I swore to make him proud.

But the years after Soviet Union fell were hard for many in Russia, and my family was no exception. Both my parents lost their jobs, and when Ilya could no longer afford medicine to relieve pain in his knees, he turned to vodka. Out of work, he put everything he had into coaching me.

When I was twelve, I competed for first time in Russian National Championships. It was exciting to come to Moscow and when I placed fifth, I was very happy. Unfortuantely, my father wasn’t. Drunk, he confronted some of the judges in the hotel bar. It was humiliating, and the best day of my life became the worst. One fortunate thing did come of it, though. My performance attracted interest from great coach, Yuri Bogdanov. When Bogdanov invited me to train with him in St. Petersburg, I left everything else behind, including my father.

For the next ten years, skating was what I lived, ate, and breathed. At seventeen, I skated in Winter Games in Oslo and four years later, was favored to take gold in Lake Placid Games. I took bronze instead. Most people see that as an accomplishment to feel proud of. But considering everything I sacrificed, it’s never felt like enough.

Even so, skating was my sport, my identity, my life. And then one day, it was gone.

I tried other jobs…I was coach for a time in Chicago, but it didn’t last. I was short order cook for an even shorter time. That didn’t last either, thanks to beautiful and fearless woman I like to call Tiger. Amy Shepherd was my athletic trainer, and she is the one person who makes me question whether going back to the ice is really what will make me happy.

But just as Amy uses ice to soothe aches and pains after training, for me, the ice is the only thing that seems to soothe the ache deep inside. I know that I’m becoming my father in a way I never wanted to be—a broken man, tormented by what he lost. I don’t want that to be the end of my story. That’s why I’ve decided to return to competition.

Amy fears I’ll be injured again. With two fused discs in my spine, another injury would be very bad. Catastrophic, some doctors say. Others in the skating world say at twenty-seven, I’m too old, and can no longer master the quadruple jumps I’ll need to compete against up and coming teenagers. Do you know what I say?

Watch me.

You see, I am skater. It’s what defines me. It’s what I’ve sacrificed everything for. Would winning gold make those sacrifices seem worth it? Between you and me, I don’t know. All I know is that I have to try.


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A book roundup brought to you by the Brownstone Spire



Two quick purchases from Kobo:

Welcome to Night Vale, the new novel from Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, the folks who’ve brought us the amazing podcast by the same name. (Which I heartily recommend if you haven’t gotten into listening to it already.) I’m going to be plowing through this pretty soon!

Also, Earthrise, which I nabbed when I saw James Nicoll post about it. The cover attracted me, both for having a heroine of color and an elven-looking male who seems to be a primary other character and possibly a love interest. Also, set in space, which apparently means ELVES IN SPACE, and I’m down with that.

BONUS: Earthrise is apparently book 1 of a trilogy, and at least as of this writing, it’s FREE. Which I’m also down with. And the covers on the other two books are also lovely, so I’m hoping it’ll be a fun read!

77 for the year.


Quick ebook roundup

I’ve been fighting a cold for the last several days, the one that Dara brought home from VCON. Blergh. So I haven’t had much to post about, because I haven’t had enough brain to spare to post anything coherent. But here’s a very quick ebook roundup, just to try to clear out my queue a little:

Grabbed from Kobo:

  • The Girl With All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey. SF, zombies. Grabbed because this was getting quite a bit of good buzz, and I was in the mood. I’ve already read it, and it was a good solid little zombie story.

Pulled down from Project Gutenberg:

  • The Year When Stardust Fell, by Raymond F. Jones. SF. World-destroying type of story that sounded halfway interesting thanks to James Nicoll’s review. Since it’s available on Gutenberg, I went and yoinked down a copy.

75 for the year.


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.

View all my reviews