Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 in the Rear View Mirror

And good riddance to it. But before I get to that, here’s a quick rundown of the publishers I thought had the best overall lines in 2014. Rather than do multiple posts across all the blogs, I’ll list everything here.

I received more review copies than I was able to read this year.  I would like to thank everyone, large publisher or individual, who sent me something to review.  I apologize if I didn’t get to it.  Personal factors also cut into my reading more than I would prefer.  Still, I managed to read quite a bit from a number of different publishers.  What follows is a list of who had some of the best overall material in 2014 with a brief commentary.  These are trade publishers, not indie publishers.  In most cases, I’ll not discuss individual titles. Nor will I do a best books list.  I wasn’t able to read as many titles as I wanted, and as a result there are some glaring omissions in what I did read.

The list is in alphabetical order, not ranked. Continue reading

New Weird West Anthology Announced

Weird Wild WestI received an email over the weekend about a new Kickstarter for a Weird West anthology called Tales of the Weird Wild West.    I think the theme is pretty self-explanatory.  Some of you who are regular followers of this blog enjoy weird westerns.  (I’m looking at you, David J. West.)

The anthology will be edited by Misty Massey, Emily Lavin, and Margaret McGraw.  The initial lineup will contain stories by stories by R S Belcher, Tonia Brown, Diana Pharaoh Francis, John Hartness, Jonathan Maberry, Gail Martin, Misty Massey, and James Tuck.  There are also four spots for open submissions, so if any of you are inclined to write in this vein (I’m looking at you again, David), you might want to give them a shot.

I’ll Continue Using My First Generation Nook (Even Though I Don’t Want to)

This post is going to be a lot of bitching and moaning.  Feel free to skip if you aren’t in the mood to hear me kvetch.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a rant about how the Nook Glowlight is a big step in the wrong direction, as least as far as my ereader needs are concerned.  Long story short, in spite of a much better battery life, the Glowlight limits how much of the internal memory can be used for files that aren’t Nookbooks, things like screensavers or, say, third party books.  Hint: not nearly enough.

GlowLight_imgI could only load about 2/3 of my third party books on it.  At the time, all of these would fit on the first generation Nook.  (I’ve since filled the device memory.)  The Glowlight (what Freudian slip is making me keep typing Blowlight?) does not allow for a memory card.  Time to switch  to a different brand of ereader.

The logical thing would be a Kindle, except that all of my third party books are in EPUB format.  Plus, none of the Kindles I looked at would allow the addition of a memory card. (I’m talking ereaders, not tablets.)

I did some research on Kobo, but they were a little pricey.  Then I noticed yesterday that they had the Aura on sale, which does allow the insertion of a memory card.  While I’m not willing to pay the full retail price, especially since I would rather have the Aura HD which is more expensive, I was willing to shell out the sale price.

So I set up a Kobo account and ordered one.  The transaction was declined.  I thought it was a security thing with my credit card, so I called to authorize the payment.  No, the payment went through.  After a day of emails and phone calls to Kobo that didn’t really go anywhere, I called the credit card company to cancel the payment.  Turns out that after I talked to them yesterday, the payment was automatically canceled.

I decided to give it one more try, and this evening I sent a new order in to Kobo.  During the checkout process, I realized what the problem was.  I had put my home address (i.e., the shipping address) in for the billing address.  I use a PO box for most of my mail, certainly for things like credit card bills.

Well, duh! No wonder the credit card transaction was declined.  The billing address I entered didn’t match the billing address on the credit card account.  Proof that you have to be smarter than what you’re working with.  Which, as least as far as yesterday is concerned, I wasn’t.

So I entered the correct information in the correct places.  I clicked the final SUBMIT button.

And the order didn’t go through.

Kobo refused to accept a PO box.  Not as a shipping address, because I put my home address for that.  As the billing address.  You know, the billing address that my credit card company declined yesterday because it wasn’t a PO box.

There is no number to call to make a direct order.  Which means I wont’ be buying a Kobo.  So there is no ereader that meets my needs that is available.

I will continue using my first generation Nook.  At least the battery dies.  (I suspect you can’t get batteries for the original Nook anymore.)  Or until someone comes up with an ereader that has a long battery life, will let me add a memory card, and actually is willing to take my order.

Until they do, I have a message to all B&N, Amazon, and Kobo: a pox on all your houses.

I Review Lud-in-the-Mist and The Book of Feasts and Seasons

Lud in the Mist front coverPart of the reason I’ve not posted much in the past week other than a few things Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is that I’ve been working on my other blogging gigs. (The rest of the reason is that Holiday Madness has totally disrupted my schedule.)

Over at Black Gate, the latest in my series on the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series is up.  The book in question is the wonderful Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees.  I really liked this one.  It was written before the tropes of modern fantasy had really been established.  As such, it had a freshness to it that many novels published these days don’t have.

Book of Feasts and SeasonsAlso, for Amazing Stories, I looked at John C. Wright’s The Book of Feasts and Seasons.  This is a short story collection that is centered around a number of holidays and feasts throughout the year.  Wright is an author I’ve begun reading in the last six months, although I had seen his books around for years.  I find him to be a writer of great heart and depth.  I’ll be reviewing more of his work over the course of the next year.

Christmas in Detroit, Grimnoir Style

9781451638622“The Grimnoir Chronicles: Detroit Christmas”
Larry Correia
A Cosmic Christmas
Hank Davis, ed.
Baen Books
paper $12.00
ebook $8.99 Baen Kindle Nook Kobo

I’ve been intending to read Larry Correia’s Grimnoir Chronicles for a while now.  After having read the short story “Detroit Christmas”, that series just moved up the list.

In this story, Jake Sullivan is hired by an attractive young woman to find her missing husband two days before Christmas 1931.  He’s a powerful healer and had served in the War in the same unit as Jake, although as a high ranking Healer, Jake had never met him. Continue reading

Merry Christmas 2014

santa be goodMerry Christmas to all.  Rather than try to have a Christmas greeting on all the blogs, I’m just going to post one here.  (I’ve got a sick kid, so things have been hectic the last day or so.)

Anyway, other than a pair of reviews of Christmas stories, I’m keeping it low key this year.  The reviews will be up some time on Christmas afternoon.  One will be here, and the other will be a Futures Past and Present.

I hope you all have a peaceful and joyous Christmas filled with family and love.

Have a Glass of Dragon Wine

Shatterwing_cover1Shatterwing: Dragon Wine Book 1
Donna Maree Hanson
Momentum Books
ebook regularly $5.99, as of this writing free
Amazon Amazon UK Google Play Nook ibooks Kobo

Shatterwing is the first part of what is probably a fantasy duology. I say probably, because in addition to dragons, it also contains some sections that remind me of science fiction from the 1930s. More on that later.

It seemed to me that Shatterwing is essentially two short novels that connect on the last couple of pages.

In the first half of the book, we’re introduced to Brill and Salinda.  Salinda is the former wife of an abusive nobleman.  She’s currently working in a prison vineyard where dragon wine is produced.  This involves using dragon dung and dragon urine as fertilizer.  Dragon wine, in addition to being highly intoxicating, has unusual healing properties and is highly prized.  It’s also a risky thing to produce. Continue reading

Free Speech Takes a Major Hit

If you’ve paid much attention to the news lately, you’ve surely heard about the major hacking attack Sony Pictures has suffered.  (This is an active news story, so I’m not going to put in links, because things may have changed considerably between the time I write this and you read it. Edited to add: Risk Based Security is compiling daily updates here.)

Everything stems from a movie called “The Interview”, the plot of which involves an attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.  The movie, a comedy, stars Seth Rogen and James Franco.  The movie was originally scheduled to be released on Christmas Day.  That’s not going to happen now after several major theater chains pulled the film and refused to show it.  It’s questionable now if “The Interview” will ever be released, at least officially. Someone leaked the death scene and posted it on YouTube today.  That’s it below.

The attack was launched by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace, which threatened violence at theaters where the movie was shown.  Today the US government released a statement claiming that they had evidence that North Korea was behind the attacks.

How is this not an act of war?

It’s still too early to tell what the US response is going to be.

Kim Jong Un seems to think he’s above criticism.  He’s not.  He’s a two bit dictator who deserves to be put on trial for numerous crimes and human rights violations.  And then executed.

No one in public life is above criticism.  Or being the subject of satire.  Not Congress.  Not the President.  Not the Queen.  Not the Pope.  Not a bunch ayatollahs.  Not ISIS.  Not monarchs, prime ministers, chancellors, members of parliament, university presidents, or celebrities.  And certainly not a sorry excuse for a human being like Kim Jong Un.

I’m appalled at the pathetic response of the theaters and the studio.  Cowards.  Craven cowards.  When you give the bullies what they want, they win.  And it only encourages them.  I get that theaters are worried about liabilities if something were to actually happen.  But let the public decide if they want to take the risk.  “The Interview” isn’t a movie I would normally have any interest in seeing.  But now I do.  That’s the way bullying and censorship always work.

In the meantime, I think we should show the Supreme Leader of North Korea all the respect he deserves.

Kim Jong Un

Another Strong Issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly

HFQ22The current issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (number 22) has been out for a little while now.  I’ve been reading it here and there when I have a slow few minutes at work.  (The fact that it’s taken me several weeks to finish should tell you how many slow minutes I have.)

Once again, this one is strong.  There are four pieces of fiction here, two long and two short, as well as two poems.  The longer stories are historical fantasy, while the shorter pieces are set in imaginary worlds.

Here’s a quick run down of what you’ll find. Continue reading

Look What I Got in the Mail Today

20141210_131341My reading plans for the evening have just been changed.

If you’re jealous, you can do something about that here.  My copy was 168 of 200.  I don’t know if the Foundation is shipping high number or low numbers first.

But like I said, my reading plans have just changed.