Saturday, May 15, 2010

New Scifi and Fantasy Releases: Week of May 16

Posted by Simcha 5:20 PM, under | 9 comments

There aren't too many new releases this week, though considering all the books on my shelves that are still waiting to be read, this is actually a bit of a relief.

If you are a fan of the Vampire Academy books than you will probably be excited about the release of the fifth novel in the series, Spirit Bound, which will be available this Tuesday. Worldshaker, by Richard Harlen, is a new addition to the YA stempunk genre and it looks like it could be a pretty good book, and one which I will probably want to try sometime soon. And if you like graphic novels, perhaps Sweet Tooth, by Jeff Lemire, will appeal to you, though I don't know much about graphic novels so I have no idea if this is actually any good.

Hope you have a great reading week!


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Title: Dirty Rotten Aliens: An Anthology of Science Fiction
by Mike Resnick
Genre: Science Fiction Anthology
Publisher:
IBooks, Inc.
Release Date:
May 16
Description:
Science fiction writers have a long and honored history of borrowing and building upon each other's concepts. It's not commonly known, but they have an equally and only slightly less honored history of poking fun at each other. This light-hearted collection of science fiction parodies by some of the greats like Isaac Asimov, Paul Anderson, and Arthur C. Clarke, among many others, is a must-own for any fan of the genre.


Title: Sword of Fire
by William R. McGrath
Genre:
Fantasy
Publisher:
IBooks, Inc.
Release Date: May 16
Description:
A young prince is forced to choose between his own life, and that of his ancestor's as expertly, and some say hellishly, planned forces begin to usurp the throne that has been ruled by his blood for eons. His struggle to learn the truth behind recent deaths, and restore some order to a turbulent land, is aided and yet tossed by a mysterious cleric who tries to bring him comfort and assistance, while bringing a greater knowledge of his own savior to the world. The boy is torn between his own desires, the needs of his people, and the legacy his family has left for him.




Title: The Demon’s Covenant (The Demon’s Lexicon, Book 2)
by Sarah Rees Brennan
Genre:
YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Release Date:
May 18
Description:
The Demon's Covenant is the sequel to The Demon's Lexicon. Mae was always in control, but suddenly everyone she trusted is lying--and in danger.





Title: Worldshaker
by Richard Harlen
Genre:
YA steampunk
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Release Date:
May 18
Description:
Col is the grandson and nominated heir of the Supreme Commander. He’ll become the most powerful person on the juggernaut when he’s completed his schooling and training. But one night, a girl Filthy from the engine rooms down Below tries to hide in his bedroom. The Filthies are dirty and ragged, never spoken about in polite society—but this one is on the loose and running free. ‘Don’t let ‘em take me,’ she pleads. Every rational thought in Col’s head tells him to call the officers and hand her over. Yet there’s something about her …


Title: Sweet Tooth
by Jeff Lemire
Genre:
Graphic Novel
Publisher:
DC Comics
Release Date:
May 18
Description:
Following on the heels of THE NOBODY, his Vertigo graphic novel debut, writer/artist Jeff Lemire pens his very first ongoing series SWEET TOOTH. A cross between Bambi and Cormac McCarthy's The Road, SWEET TOOTH tells the story of Gus, a rare new breed of human/animal hybrid children, has been raised in isolation following an inexplicable pandemic that struck a decade earlier. Now, with the death of his father he's left to fend for himself . . . until he meets a hulking drifter named Jepperd who promises to help him. Jepperd and Gus set out on a post-apocalyptic journey into the devastated American landscape to find 'The Preserve' a refuge for hybrids.
This unique and haunting new series is written and illustrated by Eisner-nominated creator Lemire (The Essex County Trilogy) and colored by fellow Eisner nominee Jose Villarubia.


Title: Flight of Shadows
by Sigmund Brouwer
Genre:
Science Fiction
Publisher:
The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
Release Date:
May 18
Description
: Her genetic secret could change humanity forever.
Her DNA grants her the ultimate power.
But all she wants is to disappear.

Looming buildings rise into the sky of a near-future America, shadowing the desperate poverty of the soovie parks, death doctors, and fear bombs. In this world of walled cities, where status matters most, Caitlyn Brown is desperate to remain invisible, wrongly believing what she needs to hide is the deformity on her back.

The powerful want her for so much more. She’s forced to take flight again, relying on the help of Razor, a street-smart illusionist she can’t trust. Her only hope is to reach friends already tracked by government. With a twisted bounty hunter in full pursuit, she and Razor begin to learn the unthinkable about her past and the unique gifts of her DNA. It leads Caitlyn to a choice between the two men who love her, and whether to keep her freedom or sacrifice herself to change human destiny.

In this lightning-fast chase through an all-too-plausible future, best-selling author Sigmund Brouwer is at his best. Flight of Shadows is a terrifying ride into the heart of compelling moral questions about science and society.


Title: Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, Bk 5)
by Richelle Mead
Genre:
YA Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher:
Razorbill
Release Date:
May 18
Description:
Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong... After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri's birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir's-and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can't wait for their real lives beyond the Academy's iron gates to begin. But Rose's heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he's out there, somewhere. She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. And this time he won't rest until Rose joins him... forever.


Title: Wolfsangel
by M.D Lachlan
Genre:
Fantasy
Publisher:
Gollancz
Release Date:
May 20
Description:
The Viking King Authun leads his men on a raid against an Anglo-Saxon village. Men and women are killed indiscriminately but Authun demands that no child be touched. He is acting on prophecy. A prophecy that tells him that the Saxons have stolen a child from the Gods. If Authun, in turn, takes the child and raises him as an heir, the child will lead his people to glory. But Authun discovers not one child, but twin baby boys.

Ensuring that his faithful warriors, witness to what has happened, die during the raid Authun takes the children and their mother home, back to the witches who live on the troll wall. And he places his destiny in their hands.


And so begins a stunning multi-volume fantasy epic that will take a werewolf from his beginnings as the heir to a brutal viking king, down through the ages. It is a journey that will see him hunt for his lost love
through centuries and lives, and see the endless battle between the wolf, Odin and Loki - the eternal trickster - spill over into countless bloody conflicts from our history, and over into our lives. This is the myth of the werewolf as it has never been told before and marks the beginning of an extraordinary new fantasy series from Gollancz.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Urban Fantasy Book Giveaway

Posted by Simcha 5:31 AM, under | 14 comments

Unfortunately I don't have any quotes to share with you this Friday, but I do have some books to give away. These are all urban fantasy books, some bought others won (The Blood Lines books I won from Tia at Reviews and Debuts) and have all been previously read.

These are the books:

1.
Hell Fire by Anne Aguirre
2. Heart of Stone by C.E Murphy
3. A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton
4. Blood Lines Trilogy (Matters of the Blood, Blood Kin & Blood Bargain) by Maria Lima











I am going to do a separate drawing for each book, using Random.org, so there will be four winners, or the same person might be chosen more than once (if the fates so decree).
I do offer the opportunity to earn some bonus entries by helping spread the word about the giveaway, and all bonus points go towards each drawing that you choose to participate in.

To enter please fill out this form.

The contest is open internationally and will end on May 31st. You must be a follower to enter.

Good luck and have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Witches of Eileanan by Kate Forsyth

Posted by Simcha 5:03 PM, under | 6 comments

Abandoned as an infant, Isabeau is taken in by the elderly witch, Meghan, who raises her with love and affection. In their secret pocket of the forest, Meghan passes on to Isbeau her knowledge of witchcraft and magic, although witchcraft has been forbidden and the punishment for practicing it is death. While at one time witches had been respected, and even revered, now they are hunted down and murdered, as commanded by the king’s new foreign bride. And the king, who had once been a friend to the witches, appears to have been ensorcelled by his new wife, agreeing to her every whim.

But with the queen’s new edicts against all magic and magical creatures, there is unrest in the kingdom. The sea monsters have grown bold, with no sea witches to hold them back, and the forests are filled with bandits. The people are starting to notice that the king has become no more than the queen’s puppet and there are rumors of a possible rebellion, and of a mysterious man who has been rescuing witches from fires and helping the downtrodden.

In her secluded valley Isabeau is about to turn sixteen, which means that it is time for her to be tested for the Coven, although most of the Coven members are now dead. But as the examination is underway, Isabeau and Meghan’s home is suddenly attacked by the queen’s soldiers and Isabeau is forced to flee, in order to deliver an important package to safety. Having rarely ventured from her forest home, Isabeau is suddenly thrust out in to the world where she must rely on her wits and magical skills to guide her and keep her out of the hands of the witch hunter who are on her trail

This was the first time that I have read anything by Kate Forsyth, though I’ve been familiar with her name from seeing her books around. Although she does have some newer books out, I decided to start with the first book from her first series, mostly because I like stories about sheltered young women who are sent out into the world to defeat some evil force, usually with the use of magic. I suppose this is the female version of the classic “young farm-boy” theme, and I have enjoyed a number of other books with a similar story-line

Isabeau is young and inexperienced with the darker side of humanity, though her journey will serve to strip her of her previous naivety showing her the darkness that lurks behind many human facade. In sharp contrast to Isabeau’s guilesness personality are some other harder characters that are introduced into the story, and whom are connected to Isabeau in unexpected ways.

Unfortunately the book ended before I got the chance to discover how the characters were affected by their experiences, and I believe my enjoyment of the rest of the series will strongly depend on how the author proceeds with the character development. I would expect Isabeau’s character in particular to be more nuanced, though I hope to see some real growth in all the other characters as well, in the following book.

The Witches of Eileannen was a pretty good book which- for the most part- I enjoyed, though it did have its slow moments. While Isabeau starts off as the central characters, the focus of the story branches off to follow the progress of some of the other characters, and not all of these side stories interested me as much as Isabeau’s did. Though once the narration caught up with Isabeau again, my interest was rekindled.

I think this would be a good book for someone starting out in fantasy who doesn’t already have set expectations. The tone reminds me of a David Eddings or Terry Brooks novel, with the prose being more mild and the characters less complex than in the more recent fantasies. It’s a good book to start with before trying out some of the edgier and more complex recent fantasies. Though the vanilla tone of the prose can be misleading, as events do get surprisingly dark at some points, which I was really not expecting.

Had The Witches of Eileannen been a recent release I would have been really frustrated at the abrupt ending, and irritated at having to wait for the sequel. But one of the advantages of reading an older book is that the following books have already been written and are usually easily attainable. And so, I have already gotten a hold of the sequel, The Pool of Two Moons, and I look forward to getting started on it soon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character

Posted by Simcha 4:08 AM, under | 9 comments

Favorite Fictional Character
Hosted by Ryan at Wordsmithonia


It's been a while since I last did a FFC post but I really want to get started again since I very much enjoy them. So this week I've chosen a very special fictional character who has been a favorite of mine since I was a child. A character who is practically perfect in every way...

Mary Poppins!!

I don't think I need to explain who Mary Poppins is since I can't imagine there is anyone who is not familiar with her, though I do want to clarify that I'm referring to the Disney version of Mary Poppins (played by the wonderful Julie Andrews). While I've never read the books on which the movie is based, I've heard that the original Mary Poppins is not quite as pleasant as the movie one, so she is the one that I'm going with (which I will openly state, despite being given a hard time when I made a similar comment regarding Peter Pan)

Mary Poppins is amazing for so many different reasons, from her ability to clean a room with the snap of a finger to the way she can fly with only a simple black umbrella. Spending time with Mary Poppins, one can always expect an exciting adventure and I would have loved to have had a babysitter like her (I didn't get a nanny). Plus she always managed to look calm and collected, no matter what disaster was taking place, and you knew Mary Poppins would take care of everything. And boy, could she dance and sing! Despite her great dignity, she is still willing to join in with the chimney sweeps and dancing on roof tops. (Though as a parent, I'm not so sure if this is such great nanny behavior)

My children were actually just watching Mary Poppins for the first time and they were laughing hysterically while watching that scene where the children are trying to clean their room by snapping their fingers and the boy gets stuck in the closet which keeps closing on him. And even though I must have seen this movie hundreds of times, I couldn't help laughing myself.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Habits Meme

Posted by Simcha 2:26 PM, under | 5 comments

I came across this fun meme today at Floor to Ceiling Books (who got it from The World in the Satin Bag) about books and reading habits and I thought I would give it a shot myself.

Here I go...everything you ever wanted to know about my reading habits...

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack:

While I sometimes read while eating I rarely eat while reading. I don't think I could concentrate on a book while snacking at the same time.

What is your favorite drink while reading?

Nope, no drinking either.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?


I'm horrified by the idea of writing in books, which I suspect might have to do with the time I was severly punished by my father for coloring in one of my picture books when I was little. (I actually still have that book and I rather enjoy seeing my little drawing there)


How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

I usually grab whatever object is handy to use as a bookmark. Only if the book is already in bad shape will I dog-ear the corners or lay it flat.

Fiction, nonfiction, or both?

While lately I've mostly been reading fiction, I do love a good memoir or travel book.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

I can stop reading at any point, which I often have to do because my reading is usually interrupted by small (but lovable) children.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

Only mentally. I don't think I could ever bring myself to actually physically harm a book on purpose.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

No. I would just figure out what it means from the context and move on.

What are you currently reading?

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin (yeah, I've been reading this one for a while)

What is the last book you bought?

Changeless by Gail Carriger

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

I'm almost always reading a few different books at the same time. I like to read different books depending on my mood, and I also like to have various books around the house that I can pick up and read at any time.

Do you have a favorite time/place to read?

My favorite place to read is in my comfortable cushioned chair and the best time is at night, after all the kids have gone to bed.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?

Hmm..I think stand-alones.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

I recommend Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods to everyone and I've been recommending The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society pretty frequently as well. While I read a lot of fantasy, most of my friends don't, so I don't even bother recommending genre books to them.

How do you organize your books?(by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)

Currently my books are not organized in any fashion. Many of my books are still in boxes and only my very favorites, or those I'm currently reading, get shelf space.


So what's your relationship with reading and books like? If you'd like to do this meme as well, leave me your link and I'll come check it out.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Girl with the Glass Feet by Ali Shaw

Posted by Simcha 5:36 AM, under | 8 comments

In the late Middle Ages several cases were recorded of
people who were convinced that they were made out of glass. One such person was King Charles IV of France who wouldn’t allow people to touch him and who wore special padded clothing to prevent his body from shattering. This syndrome, known as Glass Delusion, inspired Ali Shaw’s novel of a young woman whose body is slowly transforming into glass.

A mysterious metamorphosis has taken hold of Ida MacLaird- she is slowly turning into glass. Fragile and determined to find a cure, she returns to the strange, enchanted island where she believes the transformation began, in search of reclusive Henry Fuwa, the one man who might just be able to help. Instead she meets Midas Crook, and another transformation begins; as Midas helps Ida come to terms with her condition, they fall in love. What they need most is more time- and time is slipping away fast.

The Girl with Glass Feet is a beautifully written novel with a fairy tale-like atmosphere that is both whimsical and melancholic. While many readers are probably drawn to the book because of its unique premises of a girl turning into glass, the story actually focuses more on the themes of relationships and love than on Ida’s strange condition. And for this reason, despite my enjoyment of the book I found myself unsatisfied with the story, once I finished it.

I think that some of my dissatisfaction with The Girl with Glass Feet has to do with the fact that I generally read fantasy and was therefore attracted to the magical elements of this book, which were largely downplayed. While we discover that Ida’s condition has likely been caused by a creature whose gaze turns people into glass, the book does not go any further in investigating this creature, which I thought was odd. If the source of Ida’s ailment was of so little import that it did not bare examination, why was it included at all? There is also no explanation for why different people are affected in different ways by this creature, which niggled at me as well. I felt like throughout the story I was being given pieces to a puzzle only to discover at the end that there was no puzzle at all. In fact, Ida’s glass feet seemed to have very little consequence on the plot and could have been replaced by any other disease, with the same results.


There were also some other magical elements in the book for which there didn’t seem to be a purpose, and there were characters behaving in ways for which no satisfactory motive is given. I was also pretty disappointed in how predictably the events of the story played out, veering very little off the foreseeable path.


Perhaps if this had just been a story about relationships and the consequences of love then I would have been much more pleased with this book. The characters are all well-drawn and believable and the narrative is both poetic and real, vividly conjuring up the images in my mind so that I clearly see every detail in each scene.

Midas was washing up with his eyes closed. Often it was best to do it this way, cleaning the knives and the coffee cups by touch. He found it strange that among any number of unpleasant impressions of his father, the most vivid was of the man washing up. That was why he washed up blind, because his own arms dipping into the dishwater, the trails of bubbles on his skin, the purple the water turned his fingers, the involuntary mannerism he used to pull a plate from the bowl and hold it up to drain, all dug the memory up.
Dishwater was a crystal ball on his childhood.

Each of the characters is caught up in an inner struggle in which they yearn for a love that they can not receive. Midas has difficulty getting physically and emotionally close to others, because of his bitter relationship with his own father, and only Ida's appearance opens him up for the first time. Carl is obsessed with Ida's mother, whom he had loved and lost, and now thinks that Ida may be his answer. Midas's mother has suffered for years in a loveless marriage and is now only a shadow of her former self, unable to respond to those she once loved. And Ida, who realizes she no longer has time to search for love, will forcibly grab it for herself where she can find it, despite the obstacles the seem to be in her way.

She thought of Midas's lips coming closer then jerking away. She thought, suddenly of what she had invested in him. If soon she was immobile, half girl half ornament, then soon there could be no sex, perhaps no passion. She panicked that she had unwittingly picked him to be the last romance of her life, and that he would be too slow to trust her. She wanted to know him better and understand him, yes, but sleeping alone here in a strange bed, she wanted a warm body at her side and some recognition that she was alive. Could he give her that?

The Girl with the Glass Feet is a good book that most readers will probably enjoy due to the beautiful prose and wonderful storytelling, though I would have been a lot more pleased with this book if it had dealt with the magical elements that it introduced in a more satisfactory manner.

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