Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Finds

Posted by Simcha 4:10 AM, under | 4 comments

Unfortunately I haven't had any free time lately to go on my usual blog rounds and see what everyone is reading so I haven't discovered any new books to add to my TBR list. Though if you know of anything good I should be reading please tell me about it in the comments below (and I'm also really sorry that I haven't been responding to comments lately. I promise to get back to doing so).

But even though I don't have any books to tell you about I have managed to stumble across some interesting stuff on the web that I think you will like.

1) The awesome Jenny Lawson of the Bloggess shares a link to some pictures of her haunted dollhouse, and if you are a fan of horror I'm sure you will want to take a look at these. While I'm not into horror I have to admit that this is one awesome looking dollhouse, though if I played with it as a kid I would probably be a very different kind of person than I am today.

2) Shmuel Hoffman, the producer of the book trailer for The Unbecoming of Maya Dyer (a pretty cool trailer which has even caught the attention of MTV) has an interesting post about what's involved in creating a book trailer.

    Mara Dyer kind of lives two lives, one the unconscious one and the other a “real” one. I wanted to have this expressed in our style. That’s why I decided to go with black and white and using color to distort the reality. Michelle expressed that she wanted parts of it to look a bit like The Blair Witch Project. So we shot the asylum scenes on our phones and small cameras to have it look self-made and gritty. It was very important that we got a mixture of mystery and sexy across for the teenage audience.

I've really never given much thought to how book trailers are made, especially since most of those that I've seen haven't really impressed me, so I found this pretty interesting.

3)  Architecture students at MIT developed these really cool solar powered rocking chairs that allow you to lounge in the sun while charging your electrical devices. With a chair like this you never have to worry about your eReader suddenly running out on you (unless it gets cloudy, of course)

Plus the strip of battery allows it to light up at night for reading in the dark.

 4) I had just finished reading Ready Player One when I came across this video from Softkinect, demonstrating the possibilities that will be open to us with the use of gesture-recognition software, such as Microsoft's Kinect. It blew me away, coming right after the book I had just read.

It seems that it won't be long now before we can live within a virtual reality that won't require us to ever leave our houses. Kind of scary, though I imagine that with the cost involved in acquiring all the equipment necessary this isn't a danger most of us will be facing any time soon.

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Scifi and Fantasy Releases: Week of October 24

Posted by Simcha 10:27 PM, under | 4 comments

I have been so swamped at work lately that I wasn't sure I'd have time to get a list out to you this week but, although it's a bit late, here it is.

Now I hope you have some patience with me over the next couple of weeks as I may be posting less frequently than usual as I try to get myself back on schedule after the recent holidays. I have read a bunch of great books which I can't wait to tell you about and I have a really interesting interview coming up as well with Gili Bar-Hillel, who talks about her job as a book translator. So stayed tuned!

Hope you have a great reading week.


Science Fiction

Haruki Murakami

Release Date: October 25

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

Solaris Rising: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction
edited by Ian Whates

Publisher: Solaris
Release Date: October 25, 2011

Solaris Rising is the first in an exciting new series of anthologies that are set to reaffirm Solaris’s proud reputation for producing high quality science fiction.
The book will feature all original short stories from some of the foremost authors in the field; stories guaranteed to surprise, thrill and delight, demonstrating yet again why science fiction remains the most innovative, satisfying, and downright exciting genre of all.

Daring (Kris Longknife #9)
Mike Shepherd
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: October 25

Lieutenant Commander Kris Longknife leads a reconnaissance mission of the vast uncharted regions of space. No one, least of all Kris, expects to find a hostile alien starship. Now, she must determine the extent of the alien threat-and whether to start an interstellar war...

The Clone Redemption
Steven L. Kent
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: October 25

Earth, 2516 A.D.: The Unified Authority has spread human colonies across the Milky Way, keeping strict order with a powerful military made up almost entirely of clones. But now the clones have formed their own empire, and they aim to keep matter who they must defeat.

Stark's Command (Stark's War, #2)
John G. Hemry
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: October 25

United States military forces on the moon have overthrown the ranking officers and placed Sergeant Ethan Stark in command. Now, in addition to fighting a merciless enemy on the moon's surface, Stark must contend with the U.S. government's reaction to his mutiny...



Master of the House of Darts (Obsidian and Blood #3)
Aliette de Bodard

Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: October 25

The year is Three Rabbit, and the storm is coming...

The coronation war for the new Emperor has just ended in a failure, the armies retreating with a mere forty prisoners of war - not near enough sacrifices to ensure the favor of the gods.

When one of those prisoners of war dies of a magical illness, ACATL, High Priest for the Dead, is summoned to investigate.

King's War (Knights of Breton Court #3)

Maurice Broaddus
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: October 25

King has been betrayed, but he has no time to lick his wounds - he has to draw his people together to fight the ultimate foe in this conclusion to the stunning Knights of Breton Court trilogy.

Initiate's Trial (Wars of Light and Shadow #9)
Janny Wurts
Publisher: Harper Voyage
Release Date: October 27

The first book in the fourth arc, Sword of the Canon, finds Arithon and Lysaer on an unstoppable path toward direct conflict

Half-brothers Arithon and Lysaer were laid under a curse of lifelong enmity when they defeated the Mistwraith and freed the world of Athera. Now Arithon has been magically imprisoned and his memories have been removed. Meanwhile his daughter is being raised and trained by his enemy, the Koriani enchantress, but when she eventually learns of her father's existence, she chooses her own destruction to secure his freedom. Still ruled by the Mistwraith's curse, Lysaer will stop at nothing to find and destroy the newly freed Arithon.

The Kingdom of Gods (The Inheritance Trilogy, #3)
N.K. Jemison
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: October 27

For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameri’s ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war.

Shahar, last scion of the family, must choose her loyalties. She yearns to trust Sieh, the godling she loves. Yet her duty as Arameri heir is to uphold the family’s interests, even if that means using and destroying everyone she cares for.

As long-suppressed rage and terrible new magics consume the world, the Maelstrom — which even gods fear — is summoned forth. Shahar and Sieh: mortal and god, lovers and enemies. Can they stand together against the chaos that threatens the Kingdom of the Gods?

Richard Ford
Publisher: Solaris
Release Date: October 25

Thaddeus Blaklok – mercenary, demonist, bastard and thug-for-hire – is pressed into retrieving a mysterious key for his clandestine benefactors. Little does he know that other parties seek to secure this artefact for their own nefarious ends and soon he is pursued by brutal cultists, bloodthirsty gangsters, deadly mercenaries and hell spawned monsters, all bent on stopping him by any means necessary.

In a lightning paced quest that takes him across the length and breadth of the steam-fuelled city of Manufactory, Blaklok must use his wits and his own demonic powers to keep the key from those who would use it for ill, and open the gates to Hell itself.


Urban Fantasy

The Hollows Insider
Kim Harrison
Publisher: Harper Voyage
Release Date: October 25

Welcome to the Hollows—Kim Harrison’s remarkable shadow world of vampires, pixies, demons…and one unstoppable bounty hunter witch named Rachel Morgan. The Hollows Insider is your guide through the dark mysteries of this grimly twisted Cincinnati—featuring maps and illustrations, spells and character profiles, and much more, including an all-new Rachel Morgan short story. Fans of New York Times bestseller Harrison will not want to miss The Hollows Insider, a visitor’s handbook to this creepy capital of the urban fantasy universe—on the same alternate globe, perhaps, as Charlaine Harris’s vampire-ridden Louisiana, Jim Butcher’s sinister Chicago, and Patricia Brigg’s shape-shifting Pacific Northwest.

Flesh and Blood (House of Comarré, #2)
Kristen Painter
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: October 25

Those born into the comarré life produced blood in rich, pure, powerful abundance...

With the Ring of Sorrows still missing, and the covenant between othernaturals and mortals broken, Chrysabelle and Malkolm’s problems are just beginning. Chrysabelle still owes Malkolm for his help, but fulfilling that debt means returning to Corvinestri, the hidden vampire city where neither is welcome.

Angel Town
Lilith Saintcrow

Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: October 25

Jill Kismet is back from the grave in this explosive conclusion to Lilith Saintcrow's urban fantasy series.
She wakes up in her own grave. She doesn't know who put her there, she doesn't know where she is, and she has no friends or family.

She only knows two things: She has a job to do: cleansing the night of evil. And she knows her name.

Jill Kismet

Extinction Agenda (Skinners, Bk 6)
Marcus Pelegrimas
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: October 25

The human race is under siege—with shapeshifters, vampires, and half-blood werewolves freely prowling the streets of the world’s cities . . . and Full Bloods about to descend en masse from out of the dark wilderness. The police and the military are helpless, and only the Skinners can forestall the tactical nuke strikes the Army has planned as a last resort.
Skinners, partners, lovers, Paige Strobel and Cole Warnecki know Armageddon is at hand, and seek a union with the mysterious European blood hunters, the Gypsy Amriany, as a final, desperate means to preventing the monster apocalypse. But power-mad traitors from the ranks of their own kind could doom humanity’s valiant efforts to survive. And the only possible outcome at the end of the ultimate war is total extinction. But for whom . . . or what?

Kelly Meding

Publisher: Pocket
Release Date: October 25

Kelly Meding’s war-ravaged Los Angeles is ground zero for the ultimate Meta human showdown in this sexy, action-packed new series. Fifteen years ago, Teresa “Trance” West was a skilled telepath and a proud member of the Ranger Corps. But ever since the Rangers were inexplicably rendered powerless at the climax of the devastating Meta War, she’s bounced from one dead-end job to another. Now her powers have reappeared just as mysteriously as they vanished— only they’re completely transformed and more potent than ever. And they’re threatening to destroy her.
Trance heads to Los Angeles to track down the surviving Rangers and discover who restored her powers—and why—but a phantom enemy is determined to kill them before they can reassemble. As they dodge his deadly attacks and come to terms with their new role as heroes, Trance and the rest of the team set out to annihilate the sinister madman . . . only to discover their own powers are his greatest weapons.

Mirror Maze
Michaele Jordan

Publisher: Pyr
Release Date: October 25

Jacob, Liva, and Cecily are all victims of a single curse, which entrapped and destroyed their parents before them. Fate has drawn their descendants together again, and the curse is playing out in an erotic, chilling ghost story in a Victorian setting.

The Shadow Reader
Sandy Williams

Publisher: Ace
Release Date: October 25

Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.

A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.

But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.



The Night Eternal (The Strain Trilogy #3)
Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: October 25

From the authors of the New York Times bestsellers The Strain and The Fall comes the final volume in one of the most electrifying thriller series in years.

It’s been two years since the vampiric virus was unleashed in The Strain and the entire world now lies on the brink of annihilation.

Humankind’s only hope for salvation is Dr. Ephraim Goodweather—head of the Centers for Disease Control’s team—and his ragtag band of freedom fighters. But who will pay the ultimate sacrifice—so that others may be saved?

Dead of Night
Jonathan Maberry
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: October 25

A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave.  But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects.  Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up.  Hungry.  Infected.  Contagious.  This is the way the world ends.  Not with a bang…but a bite. 


Young Adult

Between the Sky and Sea
Jaclyn Dolamore
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Release Date: October 25

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.

Mastiff (Beka Cooper, BK 3)
Tamora Pierce

Publisher: Random House
Release Date: October 25

The Legend of Beka Cooper gives Tamora Pierce's fans exactly what they want—a smart and savvy heroine making a name for herself on the mean streets of Tortall's Lower City—while offering plenty of appeal for new readers as well.

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal.

Lauren McLaughlin

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 25

Set in the future when teenagers are monitored via camera and their recorded actions and confessions plugged into a computer program that determines their ability to succeed. All kids given a "score" that determines their future potential. This score has the ability to get kids into colleges, grant scholarships, or destroy all hope for the above. Scored's reluctant heroine is Imani, a girl whose high score is brought down when her best friend's score plummets. Where do you draw the line between doing what feels morally right and what can mean your future? Friendship, romance, loyalty, family, human connection and human value: all are questioned in this fresh and compelling dystopian novel set in the scarily forseeable future.

PC Cast
Publisher: ATOM
Release Date: October 25

In Destined, the forces of Light and Dark collide as their epic struggle focuses on Tulsa's House of Night. Zoey is home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side and preparing to face off against Neferet. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx's gift of a human form, he and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together if Rephaim can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father's shadow.

But is Zoey really safe? Does she truly know those who are closest to her? And will love win when it is tested by the very soul of Darkness? Find out what s destined in the next thrilling chapter of the House of Night series.

The Iron Knight (Iron Fey, Bk 4)
Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: October 25

My name—my True Name—is Ashallayn'darkmyr Tallyn.
I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her.
My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…

Nightshade (Poison Diaries #2)
Maryrose Wood
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: October 25

A dark, gothic tale of romance… and murder.
The latest book in the grippingly dark series, The Poison Diaries.

Our heroine, Jessamine, has lost her faith in the men she loved, and her innocence as well. She turns to the dark side and plots to kill her father, using his own poisons, before becoming an assassin, a poisoner for hire. Can she recover from her heartache and reunite with her true love, Weed? Find out in this thrilling story where poisons, darkness and horror are a part of everyday life, and love is the only cur


Paranormal Romance

Adam (Nightwalkers #6)
Jacquelyn Frank
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: October 25

Hunted by magic, beset by evil, the Nightwalkers face their darkest hour yet. And when the unthinkable happens, only one legendary male has the power, the will, to save them: Adam…

For 400 Years He Was Lost To Her, But He Is Hers Tonight…

From their first tantalizing touch, Jasmine knows he is different. What other lover could unlock her tight control, flood vampire senses jaded by a lifetime of decadent self indulgence? Centuries ago, when he disappeared without a trace, she had given up hope of ever fulfilling the promise of incomparable passion. But here he is, against the very laws of nature, ready to bring down their most vicious enemy, ready to bring her blood to the boiling point…if she will only let him.

Pleasure rules the night.

The Real Werewives of Vampire County
by Alexandra Ivy, Angie Fox, Tawny Taylor, Jess Haines
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: October 25

"Where Darkness Lives" by Alexandra Ivy - No one's more surprised than Sophia when she's struck by an unfamiliar maternal urge to move near her daughters. But instead of being greeted by a welcome committee, she's targeted by kidnappers...and saddled with a gorgeous bodyguard on a mission to protect - and seduce..."Murder on Mysteria Lane" by Angie Fox - When a werewolf trophy wife is found dead in Vampire County, Heather McPhee goes undercover to investigate. Heather's never been a mascara-and-manicures sort of girl, but she's willing to learn. Especially with sexy vampire detective Lucien Mead posing as her husband..."What's Yours is Mine" by Jess Haines - Still Waters is like many other exclusive gated communities - except that it's home to one of the largest werewolf packs in the state. But Tiffany Winters isn't frightened of her big, bad new neighbours. In fact, she intends to take her place among the pack..."Werewolves in Chic Clothing" by Tami Dane - Ever since Christine Price moved in with her fiance, Jonathan, and his twelve-year-old son, she's worked hard to fit in with a cadre of local women whose lives seem picture-perfect. Except no one in Jon's upscale neighbourhood is quite who they appear to be. Least of all Jon...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A real steampunk world: Israeli car commercial

Posted by Simcha 5:33 PM, under | 6 comments

I just came across this Israeli commercial for electric cars and I had to share it with you. I just love it!  Especially that little steam-powered toy dog.

In case you're curious, the voice in Hebrew is saying "the world has already advanced to electricity, and what about you?"

P.S. Ok, now that I think about it I realize that these objects are probably all meant to be running on gas, not steam, but I like thinking of them as being run by steam anyways. It's a lot cooler that way (even if it doesn't make sense for a car commercial)

Celebrities Turn to Audio Book Narration

Posted by Simcha 5:20 PM, under | 2 comments

According to an article in the Guardian, Audible will be launching a new series of literary classic audiobooks which will be narrated by Hollywood celebrities. Kate Winslet is already on-board, eager for the chance to read Thérèse Raquin,  and Nicole Kidman is all set to read Virgina Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Colin Firth is also among the actors to be cast as book narrators, and he has chosen to read Graham Greene's The End of the Affair.

From The Guardian:

    The recordings will be launched next year by Audible, the UK's largest provider of downloadable audiobooks, and a US subsidiary of Amazon. Its founder, Donald Katz, told the Observer: "Colin Firth could read me the back of a Marmite jar and I would listen… I'd pay Dustin Hoffman to read from a cereal box."  
    Katz believes big-name narrators could inspire new interest in classic literature. "Great actors add nuances and make these performances their own," he said. Winslet's recording has, he said, turned a dark, erotic tale into a compelling experience....

    Other readers include Kim Basinger (narrating The Awakening, Kate Chopin's 1899 novel set in New Orleans) and Samuel L Jackson (Chester Himes's 1965 book, A Rage in Harlem). Recordings take only a few days, fitting nicely into breaks between actors' other projects.

I think this sounds like a fantastic idea. I had recently tried to listen to an audio version of War and Peace but I had hard time paying attention because the narrator's voice was so quivery that it irritated me. But I imagine that if James Marsters were reading it (hint, hint Audible) then I probably would have listened to the book twice (that man got me through the first two Dresden books, after all).

And I'm sure that Katz is right that that this will help in getting more people to listen to classic audio books, both readers and non-readers alike. Just connecting the names of famous stars to particular classic works of literature will bring more attention to those books and make them seem more appealing and approachable.

I have been intending for a while now to listen to classic audio books more regularly, to make up for the fact that I don't have time to read them, and I'm really looking forward to this project. It will definitely make some of those challenging classics more palatable if I have my favorite actor or actress reading it directly to me.


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