Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friday Finds (on Saturday)

Posted by Simcha 5:40 PM, under | 1 comment

This book blurb isn't very descriptive but I really enjoyed the one book that I have read by Marmell and I'm always drawn to books about thieves (for reasons that are probably best left unexplored), so when I heard about this book I immediately added it to my list. Plus I really like the cover.

Thief's Covenant by Ari Marmell

She is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon's underbelly looking to find answers, and justice with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshipers but Widdershins herself.


I always come across really interesting books over at At Home with Books, which is where I found this memoir, which I now desperately want to read.

Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden

In the summer of 1916, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, close friends from childhood and graduates of Smith College, left home in Auburn, New York, for the wilds of northwestern Colorado. Bored by their soci-ety luncheons, charity work, and the effete young men who courted them, they learned that two teach-ing jobs were available in a remote mountaintop schoolhouse and applied—shocking their families and friends. “No young lady in our town,” Dorothy later commented, “had ever been hired by anybody.”

They took the new railroad over the Continental Divide and made their way by spring wagon to the tiny settlement of Elkhead, where they lived with a family of homesteaders. They rode several miles to school each day on horseback, sometimes in blinding blizzards. Their students walked or skied on barrel staves, in tattered clothes and shoes tied together with string. The man who had lured them out west was Ferry Carpenter, a witty, idealistic, and occasionally outrageous young lawyer and cattle rancher. He had promised them the adventure of a lifetime and the most modern schoolhouse in Routt County; he hadn’t let on that the teachers would be considered dazzling prospective brides for the locals.

That year transformed the children, their families, and the undaunted teachers themselves. Dorothy and Rosamond learned how to handle unruly children who had never heard the Pledge of Allegiance and thought Ferry Carpenter was the president of the United States; they adeptly deflected the amorous advances of hopeful cowboys; and they saw one of their closest friends violently kidnapped by two coal miners. Carpenter’s marital scheme turned out to be more successful than even he had hoped and had a surprising twist some forty years later.


I've really been enjoying Y.S Lee's The Agency series (which includes A Spy in the House and The Body at the Tower) and was delighted to discover that the third book has just come out.

The Traitor and the Tunnel by Y.S Lee

Queen Victoria has a little problem: a series of petty thefts from Buckingham Palace. She calls the Agency for help, and they put Mary Quinn - on her first case as a full-fledged agent - on the case. Going undercover as a domestic servant, Mary's assignment seems simple enough. But before long, a scandal threatens to tear apart the Royal Family. One of the Prince of Wales' irresponsible young friends is murdered in scandalous circumstances and the story, if it became public, would disgrace the young prince. Should the Queen hush things up or permit justice to take its course?

Mary's interest in this private matter soon becomes deeply personal: the killer, a drug-addicted Chinese sailor, shares a name with her long-lost father. Meanwhile, James Easton's engineering firm wins a contract to repair some sewers beneath Buckingham Palace. Trouble is, there's a tunnel that's not on the plans. Its purpose is unclear. But it seems to be very much in use - it's just not clear by whom. These overlapping puzzles offer a perfect opportunity for James and Mary to work together again. If they can still trust one another. If they can suppress the emotions that still torture them. If Mary can forget the sight of that exquisite blonde she sees in James' drawing-room...In this, Mary's most personal case yet, she faces struggles at every level - legal, political, personal. And she has everything to lose.

Favorite Links

And another funny customer service anecdote from one of my favorite websites, Not Always Right:

Of Empty Threats And Even Emptier Stores

(I work at a large bookstore which is in the process of liquidation sales. One of the rules of this sale is that we don’t take any returns. There are huge signs all over the store that say, “Going out of business.”)

Customer: “I want to return this book, but I don’t have the receipt.”
Me: “I’m very sorry, ma’am, but we are no longer accepting returns since the store is closing.”

Customer: “What? You’ve always let me return books.”

Me: “I know, but we are closing now, so there are no returns.”

Customer: “This is ridiculous! I’m taking my business elsewhere.”

Me: “That’s fine. We’re closing.”

Customer: “I mean it. I’ll never shop here again.”

Me: “Yes, I know. We’ll be closed.”

Customer: “I spend a lot of money here, and now I’m going to go buy my books online or something.”

Me: “Yes, you probably should. This store will be gone.”

Customer: “I’m leaving here and I’m never coming back. Do you hear me? Never!” *storms out*

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Free eBook: The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan

Posted by Simcha 7:48 PM, under | 2 comments

I've been wanting to read Michael Sullivan's The Crown Conspiracy for ages and so I was really excited when I discovered the audiobook today on Podibooks (it's not new to the site though, I just haven't been to Podibooks in a long time). I am already on chapter Four and I'm enjoying it immensely. In addition to being a very captivating story, the narrator, Nathan Lowell, does an excellent job of reading it. 

They killed the king. They pinned it on two men. They chose poorly.

There's no ancient evil to defeat, no orphan destined for greatness, just two guys in the wrong place at the wrong time. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats in a plot to kill the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out…and so begins this tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

The Crown Conspiracy is book one of the six-book saga: The Riyria Revelations. Eschewing recent trends toward the lengthy, gritty, and dark, the Riyria Revelations is a return to traditional fantasy combining great characters, humor, and drama in appropriate measures. The series is told through six novels each a separate episode in a single epic tale . Across the entire chronicle, mysteries build, characters evolve, and plots thicken, but each is a self-contained story that can be enjoyed in its own right.

To listen to The Crown Conspiracy audio book just click on this link.

And if you enjoy the book you have the option to donate a little something (or not so little- up to you) to Podibooks, the majority of which will go to the author.

I'm now trying to think up some more chores that I can do so that I'll have an excuse to keep listening to this book...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Invisibility cloaks- good idea, or bad?

Posted by Simcha 6:49 PM, under | 5 comments

When I was younger I though it would be so cool to have an invisibility cloak of my own. To be able to sneak in and out of movie theaters or museums without anyone seeing me. Or to listen in to private conversations without anyone knowing. But what would happen if invisibilty cloaks were no longer relegated to the realm of fiction, but were actually a reality? 

Well, apparently science is not so far from creating the material for such a cloak, and a student at the University of St Andrews has just brought us even closer with his use of an 'invisible sphere', to bend light in a way that can make object invisible.

The optical device, known as an 'invisible sphere', would slow down all of the light that approaches a potential cloak, meaning that the light rays would not need to be accelerated around the cloaked objects at great speeds ― a requirement that has limited invisibility cloaks to work only in a specified region of the visible spectrum.

This new research, published today, Tuesday 9 August, in the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society's New Journal of Physics, could open up the possibility for a potential invisibility cloak wearer to move around amongst ever-changing backgrounds of a variety of colours.

So this article got me thinking about what the actual ramifications would be of having invisibility cloaks in existence. The idea of having people wandering around the streets, invisible to me, kind of creeps me out. There are actually very few uses that I could think of for invisibility cloaks that aren't just plain nefarious.

What do you think? Invisibility cloaks- good idea, or bad?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Posted by Simcha 10:21 PM, under | 6 comments

She can whisper to horses and communicate with birds, but the crown princess Ani has a difficult time finding her place in the royal family and measuring up to her imperial mother. When she is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom as a bride, her scheming entourage mounts a bloody mutiny to replace her with a jealous lady-in-waiting, Selia, and to allow an inner circle of guards more power in the new land. 

Barely escaping with her life, Ani disguises herself as a goose girl and wanders on the royal estate. Does she have the pluck to reclaim her rightful place? 

I have read several of Shannon Hales’s books and I’ve enjoyed them all, but so far The Goose Girl is my favorite.

Hales’s The Goose Girl is based on the Grimm’s fairy tale of the same name, about a princess who is sent off to be married to a prince in a far-off kingdom, and on the way is attacked by her lady’s maid and forced to switch places . Hales’s story closely follows the original tale, even using the same names for several of the characters, and so those who are already familiar with the fairy tale won’t face too many surprises here. For this reason I was glad that I only knew the story vaguely so that I was able to enjoy the suspense as events unfolded, but I do think that even readers who already know what to expect will still find the story entertaining and delightful.

Princess Anidori-Kiladra, or Ani, is a wonderful character who had a large part in bringing this 19th-century fairy tale to life. At the start of the story Ani is unhappy and full of self-doubt about her ability to be as a successful a ruler as her mother, though when that role is given to her brother instead, Ani is understandably hurt and confused. Instead Ani is sent off to be married to a faceless prince in a distant kingdom, though she never makes it to her prince due to the treachery of those she had relied on for protection. But as Ani faces one challenge after another she comes to discover her own unexpected strengths and sources of happiness which will eventually lead her to be the kind of queen that her new kingdom needs. 

I enjoyed following along with Ani on her journey of self-discovery and meeting some of the companions who join her on that journey.

While we don’t get to know the prince as well as I would have liked, I enjoyed the scenes between the two of them and the sweet way their romance develops, though they know it’s impossible due to their (seemingly) different ranks. And I especially liked it that when the prince broke off the relationship Ani doesn’t wallow in sadness for the rest of the story, but acknowledges it and moves on with her life.

There is another memorable character in the story, one who is wholly Hale’s creation, and that is Enna, Ani’s first real friend. She takes Ani under her wing when she’s assigned her new job as a goose girl and when danger comes looking for Ani, Enna is right by her side, ready to defend her friend. I was happy to see that there is actually a sequel to The Goose Girl that features Enna as it’s protagonist and I am very much looking forward to reading that next.

Highly recommended to fans of fairy tales, magic, and fantasy of all ages.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Scifi & Fantasy Releases: Week of August 9

Posted by Simcha 5:18 AM, under , | 6 comments

From this week's selection of new releases the book that I am looking forward to reading the most is A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan, which I had mentioned in one of my Friday Finds. Though there are several other books that have caught my eye, such as Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay and The Machine Man by Max Barry. And, of course, there is Lev Grossman's much-anticipated sequel to The Magicians, The Magician King, which I know is high on many people's TBR lists.

This week I'm actually going to focus my attention on The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, which is a good book but really (really) long, so it's taking me a while to get through it. I also just started Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, which I have been wanting to read for a while and was lucky enough to find a copy of at a recent yard sale.

Hope you have a great reading week!


The Blackhope Enigma

Teresa Flavin
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: August 9

When Sunni Forrest’s stepbrother accidentally transports himself into a Renaissance painting, she and her friend Blaise set out to bring him back. They find themselves in a strange world of labyrinths, monsters and pirates.

Can they evade their greedy pursuers? And will they ever find their way home?


The Bridge to Never Land
Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Genre: Middle Grade fantasy
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Release Date: August 9

Aidan and Sarah cooper have no idea what they’re getting into one afternoon when they discover a mysterious coded document in a secret compartment of an antique English desk their father recently bought at an auction. Something about the document seems familiar to Sarah, and that night she realizes what it is: the document seems to be referring to some books she has read—the Starcatchers series, about the origin of Peter Pan. But how could that be? The document seems far older than the books. And of course, the books are just stories.
Curious, Sarah and Aidan begin to decipher the mysterious document. At first it’s a game—unraveling the mystery piece by piece, each piece leading them to a new, deeper puzzle. But soon the game turns strange—and scary. Pursued by a being that can take any form and will stop at nothing to get what it wants from them, Aidan and Sarah embark on a desperate, thrilling quest for help—a quest that leads them to some unforgettable people in some unlikely places, including one that’s not supposed to exist at all.


The Cupid War
Timothy Carter
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: August 8

Ricky Fallon had decided against killing himself — just before slipping off a bridge to his death. Now he's a Cupid in the afterlife, helping people fall in love. The job would be cool if it weren't for the dorky pink bodysuits, his jerky boss, and attacks from joy-sucking shadowy entities called Suicides.
When Fallon discovers a dangerous new breed of Suicide, a terrific battle erupts. To save the girl he's falling for — oh, and prevent total world domination — Fallon uses a secret weapon to kick some serious Suicide butt.


Elemental Reality (Elemental, Bk 1)
Cesya MaRae Cuono
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Revolution Publishing
Release Date: August 11

When Callie Pierce was ten, her mother disappeared without a trace. On the eve of her disappearance twelve years later, the Earth seemingly comes alive. The elements speak to Callie, and that's only the beginning. Everything she has ever known was a twisted fabrication to protect her. Now the truth is set free. Callie and her sister are more powerful than any Faerie ever born. Now they have to use their powers to save their mother and family from the evil hands of fate that threaten to tear them apart. Welcome to her elemental reality


Game of Triumphs
Laura Powell
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 9

At an exclusive Soho party one rainy night, Cat stumbles into an ancient and dangerous game of fortune. A mysterious quartet of game masters deal out challenges—moves that unfold in the Arcanum, a dream-scape version of our world. Success can earn players fame, fortune, inspiration. Failure can be deadly.

At first Cat is skeptical, but undeniably curious. And when a journey into the Arcanum reveals a shocking glimpse of her family's past, Cat begins to understand what drives people to play. Sometimes it's greed or longing—other times desperation. She must know more.

Right now, the game masters hold all the cards. But Cat finds others like herself on the fringes of the game. And together an unlikely group of chancers hope to change the rules in their favor.

In the Game of Triumphs, the risks are high, but the rewards may just be worth dying for. . .


Juliet, Immortal
Stacey Jay
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 9

The most tragic love story in history . . .
Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.


A Long, Long Sleep
Anna Sheehan
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: August 9

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss.

Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose -- hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire -- is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat.

Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existance, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes -- or be left without any future at all.


Machine Man
Max Barry
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Vintage
Release Date: August 9

Scientist Charles Neumann loses a leg in an industrial accident. It's not a tragedy. It's an opportunity. Charlie always thought his body could be better. He begins to explore a few ideas. To build parts. Better parts.

Prosthetist Lola Shanks loves a good artificial limb. In Charlie, she sees a man on his way to becoming artificial everything. But others see a madman. Or a product. Or a weapon.

A story for the age of pervasive technology, Machine Man is a gruesomely funny unraveling of one man's quest for ultimate self-improvement.


The Magician King (The Magicians #2)

Lev Grossman
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Viking
Release Date: August 9

Return to Fillory in the riveting sequel to The New York Times bestseller and literary phenomenon of 2009--The Magicians.

The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.

Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent's house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the modern heir to C.S. Lewis, and the cutting edge of literary fantasy


Michael Vey: Prisoner of Cell 25
Richard Paul Evans
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher: Mercury Ink
Release Date: August 9

My name is Michael Vey, and the story I’m about to tell you is strange. Very strange. It’s my story.
To everyone at Meridian High School, Michael Vey is an ordinary fourteen-year-old. In fact, the only thing that seems to set him apart is the fact that he has Tourette’s syndrome. But Michael is anything but ordinary. Michael has special powers. Electric powers.

Michael thinks he's unique until he discovers that a cheerleader named Taylor also has special powers. With the help of Michael’s friend, Ostin, the three of them set out to discover how Michael and Taylor ended up this way, but their investigation brings them to the attention of a powerful group who wants to control the electric children – and through them the world. Michael will have to rely on his wits, powers, and friends if he’s to survive.


The Shadow of Death (Thirst, Bk 4)
Christopher Pike
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Release Date: August 9
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The conclusion to the phenomenally successful Thirst series follows five-thousand-year-old vampire Alisa Perne as she battles a new race of immortals: the Telar. The Telar are a challenging threat. But Alisa is hungry for blood - and thirsty for revenge.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Free eBook: The Multiplex Man by James P. Hogan

Posted by Simcha 3:59 AM, under | 5 comments

For the month of August Phoenix Pick is offering free download's of James P. Hogan's award winning scifi novel, The Multiplex Man.

Richard Jarrow was a mild and unassuming teacher who was sure that the government knew best, with its strong environmental controls on industry and its equally stringent control of education and the media. He knew that the countries of the former Eastern Block, who now claimed to have more freedom than the United States, as well as booming economies fueled by their exploitation of the resources of space, were only spreading ridiculous propaganda, and they either would soon collapse, starved by their diminishing natural resources and choked in their own pollution—or else they would attempt to steal the resources of the rest of the world, and have to be destroyed. Didn't the government say that was so?

And then his world went to hell...

Follow this link to download the book.

You need a coupon code to download the book, which you can get by signing up for Phoenix Pick's newsletter, or can use the one supplied by Free eBooks Blog in their post about this book, which is 99922991.


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