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.
The 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
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.)
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.
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.
A Natural History of Dragons
Picked up from Kobo electronically:
- The Gate to Futures Past, by Julie E. Czerneda. Book 2 of her Reunification series. Picked up on general “Because I Love Julie Czerneda’s Work” principles!
- “The High Lonesome Frontier”, by Rebecca Campbell. This is an SF short story that I read over on Tor.com, and which I found quite delightful thanks to it being about something as simple as tracking the history of a song across about a hundred and fifty years. You can read it for free on Tor.com here, but since I liked it so much, I wanted to buy a copy to support the author.
- A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan. This is book 1 of her Memoirs of Lady Trent series, which I’ve had my eye on for a while and which I’ve finally begun delving into. I very much enjoyed this book and have reviewed it here.
- The Family Plot, by Cherie Priest. Because new Southern Gothic-flavored novel by Cherie Priest? Why yes I WILL have some.
Picked up digitally from Project Gutenberg:
- The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World, by Margaret Cavendish. Grabbing this because Tor.com had a post up about it here, and as a result, I’m quite intrigued by the notion of reading a very early forerunner of the SF genre. Particularly given that this was written by a woman!
And, picked up in print from Third Place:
- A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, books 1 and 2 of the aforementioned Lady Trent novels. Because I liked book 1 well enough that I need them in print as well as in digital. 😀
44 for the year. (Counting A Natural History of Dragons twice since I bought it in both forms!)
Earlier this year, y’all may recall, a lot of ebook customers got a lot of credit from the settlement of the lawsuits pertaining to ebook pricing. I’m still annoyed that agency pricing has returned as fallout from this, because it’s put a big dent in my ebook buying.
On the other hand, it also means I got a boatload of credit from Barnes and Noble for my history of purchases with them.
Part of me is a bit wry about this, given that I have moved my ebook purchasing by and large over to Kobo. But hey, I’m still willing to go scarf books on barnesandnoble.com if I don’t have to pay for them, so hey! It took me a while to decide on the titles I want to get. I have however finally finished up spending that credit tonight, so here’s a roundup of all the things I got as a result of the credit drop.
Purchased from bn.com in print:
- Elfquest: The Final Quest Volume 2, for generally obvious “because it’s delightful to be able to buy new Elfquest graphic novels again” reasons. I’ve been buying the individual issues in digital form direct from Dark Horse, but I absolutely wanted print copies as well. So I’m racking those up in print as they come out.
And, here are the ebooks I’ve gotten over the last several weeks, most of which were acquired tonight:
- The Bone Whistle, by Erzebet YellowBoy. Contemporary fantasy. I had my eye on this story way back in 2007 when it was originally published by Juno Books, with the author using the name Eva Swan. I never was able to get a copy, though, before Juno shut down. She later released it herself under the name Erzebet YellowBoy, so I finally was able to grab it in ebook form.
- Le combat des dieux, by Élodie Tirel. High fantasy. Book 3 of her Luna series for young readers. This is of course the third of the series I’ve been reading in French to try to improve my reading comprehension in that language, and since I enjoyed the second one (at least what I could pick up of it), I’m moving onward to the third. I continue to be rather charmed by how the series seems entirely unrepentant about hitting all the classic fantasy tropes hard. 😀
- Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal. Historical/WWI fantasy. Grabbing this one because I’ll pretty much grab anything Kowal chooses to release, and this is her latest novel, about a squadron of mediums whose job it is to get intelligence on the front from the ghosts of recently slain soldiers.
- Arabella of Mars, by David D. Levine. SF. Pretty much my entire feed of followed blogs and social media pals lost their minds over this release, so yeah, the buzz, it is strong with this one. And it sounds like great fun, with a blend of SF and steampunk viewed through a lens of English colonialism. Sure why not, I’ll have some.
- Radiance: A Novel, by Catherynne M. Valente. SF. This is another recent title in the vein of SF with a heavy side helping of classic/pulp flavor, only this one also throws in a hefty dash of classic cinema flavor as well.
- An Accident of Stars, by Foz Meadows. Fantasy. Specifically, portal fantasy. Grabbing this because I’ve read several of Meadows’ blog posts and appreciate her way of expressing herself. And also because portal fantasy with several leading female characters? Fuck yeah, I’m on board!
- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers. SF. Because again, the buzz is strong with this one, a novel that started life as a self-pub release and later got itself a formal book deal. Plus any SF novel that invokes Firefly in its buzz is pretty much bound to get my attention.
- The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle. Horror/Lovecraft pastiche. This one got a lot of attention because of revisiting Lovecraft–and specifically, one of his most racism-steeped stories, “The Horror at Red Hook”, bringing an African-American perspective to the events that story mentions. Since I’m one of the folks who likes Lovecraft’s worldbuilding but has a hard time dealing with his racism, I expect to particularly appreciate this one.
- The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson. Another Lovecraft pastiche, this time bringing in a female perspective. Given that I very much liked the She Walks in Shadows anthology that came out last year, I expect to like this too. Particularly given how I came out of The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath with a very strong “WTF DID I JUST READ?!” reaction!
- The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match, by Juliana Gray. Historical romance. Picked this up because I saw it favorably reviewed on dearauthor.com (you can see me in the comments on that link). And because I’m charmed by the idea of a romance featuring older characters.
- HEX, by Thomas Olde Heuvelt. Horror. This is the English translation of a best-selling Dutch horror novel, which I saw get some positive buzz on Tor.com, such as this review here. This story sounds like it blends the modern and the gothic very well, and I liked what I read of excerpts, so I’m going to dive into the full book. Plus I appreciate being able to read something that originated in a non-US market.
- False Hearts: A Novel, by Laura Lam. SF. Picking this up again because of seeing it plugged on Tor.com (really, those folks at Tor.com are a large contributor to my book purchasing decisions!), and specifically, because I saw this nice little short story set in the universe of this novel. Between that and being intrigued by the premise of a pair of (originally) conjoined twins as the protagonists of the story, I wanted to pick this up.
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm, by Greg Keyes. Bought because I’ve quite liked the two movies in the current Apes franchise, and because I wanted to see what the prequel story setting up the plague we see in Dawn would be like. Also, because I’ve read stuff by Keyes in the past so I know he’s capable of laying down a good story.
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, by Alex Irvine. This is the official novelization of the movie which came out a couple years ago. Because hey, I liked the story! And I do still like a movie novelization every so often!
- It Takes Two to Tangle, by Theresa Romain. Historical romance. This went onto my queue a couple years ago entirely because of this review on Smart Bitches Trashy Books. And, now that I’m refreshing my memory about the book and see that I had in fact dropped a comment on that review, I am pleased to be reminded about this novel’s delightful opening line.
- Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho. Steampunk/fantasy. Yet another strong-buzz book, with Tor.com contributing heavily to my hearing about this one. I particularly like that both of the lead characters are people of color.
- The Last Witness, by K.J. Parker. Fantasy. I heard about this one through Tor.com because it is in fact one of their releases! The protagonist is someone who makes his living by ridding people of unwanted memories. Except now he’s been targeted by someone because of one of the secrets he now holds. Sounds fun!
This roundup all by itself doubles my total of acquired books for the year, taking me up to 36.
(And I should note for the record that some of my ebook settlement credit went to things that are not books: namely, two MST3K DVD boxed sets! But I think that any of my fellow fans of cheesy movies will agree that more MST3K in one’s library is always a good thing.)
ETA: OH HEY I forgot one. I also grabbed Jo Walton’s The Just City, because Tor.com has an ebook club now and that was this month’s freebie. Make that 37 for the year!