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Mildred's Resistence by Katie Cross (2015).

Like mauvir I did get the collected "Network Series" through that deal that Cross' Antebellum Publishing sent out.

I have to disagree with Cross: I think that "Resistence" reads better AFTER reading "Antebellum Awakening". While "Resistence" definitely should be read after "Miss Mabel's School for Girls" because "Resistence" itself lacks a sufficient general worldview, I think "Awakening" adds more to the political and social worlds of the Central Network than one will have after reading only "Miss Mabel's".

"Mildred's Resistence" is basically the tale of 3 friends who grew up together 2 generations before Bianca Monroe, the heroine of the chronologically later books. While each of them are different from each other--Mildred was seriously studious though chronically underconfident, Stella was the bubbling beauty, Evelyn was naturally gifted in witchcraft--they had formed an early bond. At one of their early birthday parties--they were all born in the same month but celebrated together at one party--they even cast a friendship vow--a literal magical binding--which helped keep them together despite even tragedy crossing their paths.

Unfortunately the Central Network was undergoing serious problems throughout the lifetimes of these girls/women. The High Priest Donovan was known for his lackadaisical leadership and his willingness to be led by the faction in the Council which was distinctly against "the poors" who were constantly protesting against high taxes and other problems. While some of those holes are being filled by the High Priestess Nell, she was limited by being only second-in-command and also by chronic bouts of depression. One of the few lights in Nell's life was being able to watch over and spoil Evelyn in part because Nell was a good friend of her parents which led to a fateful step. One time while spoiling Evelyn, Nell got the news that Evelyn's parents had died during a riot by the poors. Knowing that Evelyn had no close relatives, Nell decided to unofficially adopt Evelyn (both the High Priest and High Priestess are not allowed to marry or have families) which was the first step towards Evelyn's eventual downfall (which you would already know of in general from the other two books).

A good though somewhat depressing read in part knowing beforehand that it will get very dark. Again I will take a break reading other books before going on the next book in the Network Series.
maurvir Outlier
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I have to agree. It's pretty clear that Resistance was written later, because there is almost no world building. I suppose she assumes you have already read the first two books and know all about the Network, the structure of government, etc.

Still, I have enjoyed the book immensely so far, to the point I was up way too late last night reading. Mrs. Cross is an excellent story teller, despite the fact that the "first" book isn't a great first book for the series.
Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells (2018).

This is book 2 in the to-be 4 book series. Like its predecessor, All System Red, this is a novella.

I suppose that because of the change in Murderbot's situation--being semi-on-the-run instead of having to deal with the bureaucratic humans of the planet survey mission that it was assigned to--this story has fewer lighter touches than the first novella. It was still an interesting tale and I will be getting the next part when released in August.
Vertigo: Aurora Rising Book Two (Aurora Rhapsody 2) by G. S. Jennsen (2014).

This is book 2 in Jennsen's "Aurora Rhapsody" (book 1 reviewed in part here).

If you like your SF hard (meaning the only "fantasy" element is that humanity will develop such a future), DO GET THIS (though note that you will be stuck for a long haul with 9 books in total in "Aurora Rhapsody").

An interstellar war spanning thousands of light years. A secret conspiracy involving people thinking they are acting solely in their own interest. And dragons (yes, seriously, though they make sense in context).

Remember: you can get the first two e-books--Starshine and Vertigo--for free (AKA signing up for her newsletter) from the author here.
"Nancy Pearl's Rule of 50 for dropping a bad book".

Basically: give a book 50 pages to grab your interest.

She added these addenda to that basic rule:

1) no reason why you cannot start (re-)reading an abandoned book (even decades later).

2) if it is a whodunnit (or some other situation like "does the hero get the girl?") but otherwise you don't care enough to finish reading, then you can scan from the back until you can understand who did it. You probably will know enough to be able to fool most people that you had finished reading it.

3) after the age of 50, you get to substract your age from 100 to modify this rule: thus at 75 you can abandon a book after page 25.
Quote:
And the ultimate privilege of age, of course, is that when you turn 100, you are authorized (by the Rule of 50) to judge a book by its cover.

justine Elitist Beer Lover
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I'm going to be starting a book about managing your finances. I dunno how recreational that's going to be.
The High Priest's Daughter by Katie Cross (2015).

This is the chronologically fourth novel within Cross' Network Series with one more remaining for me (though there will be another book series which will take place some significant time before most (all?) of these books.

It is also the first one where I think that Cross had made significant errors in her storyline. Not so very flawed that I will stop reading especially since I have liked nearly all of the other elements in her storymaking. Unfortunately these also involve rather crucial plot points such that a full discussion would require spoilers galore, so let it suffice for me to state that I am still bothered by this. Perhaps Cross will spend part of the final book to explain what I feel are significant problems.

Because there is a lot to like here. Our heroine, Bianca Monroe, was undergoing the usual growing pains that anyone might have growing up anywhere, but her situation was additionally complicated by how up to her 17th birthday she had a literal existential crisis which almost certainly should have resulted in her death, so having survived that she was still getting used to the very idea of having any sort of future.

She had also been able to settle into Chatham Castle, the capital for the Central Network, bringing 3 of her closest and somewhat idiosyncratic friends from Miss Mabel's School for Girls with her. BUT being girls in their late teens (one of them being a third-year student when Bianca and her other 2 friends were first-years), there were now the usual distractions (boys).

There were also rumors of war brewing, though a significant portion of the Central Network was rather studiously ignoring such while grumbling about all of the problems their leaders were causing such as laying in supplies in preparation.
Transcendence by G. S. Jennsen (2015).

This is part 3 of "Aurora Rising", the first trilogy within the 9-book series of "Aurora Rhapsody".

I was aided in part because some work on a telephone pole in front of my house required them to shut down power on my side of the street for a few hours (that's right: on a Sunday night too), so being cut off from everything online I was confined to reading e-books on my iPhone, though after the first hour or so I needed nothing else to prompt me to continue (even when power was restored for a hour or so before being shut down again).

Some of you had complained that some authors have gone the self-publishing route with some books having embarassing errors. Let me assure you that this is not the case with Jennsen and her Hypernova Publishing. Not only are there not any editing errors that I can recall, but she writes complete and super-tight plots despite it ranging over a dozen planets and a huge interstellar war with about a dozen sub-plots.

And I LOVE the main characters. I grinned with their lighter moments, sympathized over their tragedies, literally cried over some of their more tender passages. As much as I have merely liked other characters by other authors, I'm afraid that none of them measure up to Jennsen's writing.

Jennsen is still offering the first two books of "Aurora Rising" for free (well, for the cost of signing up for Hypernova Publishing's newsletter) here.

At the moment I am undecided if I should employ my usual habit of switching to something else or to plunge ahead.
maurvir Outlier
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DEyncourt posted:
The High Priest's Daughter by Katie Cross (2015).

This is the chronologically fourth novel within Cross' Network Series with one more remaining for me (though there will be another book series which will take place some significant time before most (all?) of these books.

It is also the first one where I think that Cross had made significant errors in her storyline. Not so very flawed that I will stop reading especially since I have liked nearly all of the other elements in her storymaking. Unfortunately these also involve rather crucial plot points such that a full discussion would require spoilers galore, so let it suffice for me to state that I am still bothered by this. Perhaps Cross will spend part of the final book to explain what I feel are significant problems.

Because there is a lot to like here. Our heroine, Bianca Monroe, was undergoing the usual growing pains that anyone might have growing up anywhere, but her situation was additionally complicated by how up to her 17th birthday she had a literal existential crisis which almost certainly should have resulted in her death, so having survived that she was still getting used to the very idea of having any sort of future.

She had also been able to settle into Chatham Castle, the capital for the Central Network, bringing 3 of her closest and somewhat idiosyncratic friends from Miss Mabel's School for Girls with her. BUT being girls in their late teens (one of them being a third-year student when Bianca and her other 2 friends were first-years), there were now the usual distractions (boys).

There were also rumors of war brewing, though a significant portion of the Central Network was rather studiously ignoring such while grumbling about all of the problems their leaders were causing such as laying in supplies in preparation.


I finished the series a few days ago, and yes, there were definitely some flaws. I was a bit distressed to find my mental editor kicking in a few times as well, but that seems to be the norm these days.

There was one plot twist near the end of the last book that still has me scratching my head. The twist is possible, particularly in a world which appears to be a slightly modern medieval setting, but I admit it felt a bit like a deus ex machina. Still, as you say, Cross' writing is good enough to get past that. I also noticed that her ability to write battle scenes improved dramatically from the first book, where the "end fight" felt a bit flat. Nonetheless, I greatly enjoyed the series and really fell in love (so to speak) with the characters. I'm willing to tolerate a fair bit if I like the characters and feel engaged in the story.
Time for another Tor Books free e-book. This time it is a fantasy by Daniel Abraham: "A Shadow in Summer". This is likewise the first book in an already fully published "quadrology" (first book published in 2006; last in 2009). The usual limitations: available only in the US and Canada, sign-up for Tor Books' newsletter to qualify for free downloads in either ePub (Apple) or mobi (Kindle) formats, download must be completed by 11:59 ET on July 13th, offer may be withdrawn at any time.

I do not know this author but the flyer from Tor mentions that he is one of the co-authors of the book series upon which the SyFy series "The Expanse" is based.
DEyncourt posted:
[snip]
At the moment I am undecided if I should employ my usual habit of switching to something else or to plunge ahead.

I decided to plunge ahead.

"Sidespace" is the first book in the SECOND trilogy, "Aurora Renegades", within the overall 9-book series "Aurora Rhapsody" and, boy, it has been a hoot! I'm only about a quarter three-quarters of the way through, but Jennsen being able to play around with different alien cultures has been about as much fun as I had when I read John Varley's "Titan" way back when (hmm...I should re-read that trilogy sometime).

That storyline is interspersed with another taking place back in "Aurora" (the alien name for humanity's universe) where there are...complications, mostly political.

EDIT: oops, sorry. I misread the e-page numbering. I thought I was that shorter amount of the way through "Sidespace" but the total number of pages is for ALL of "Aurora Renegades", not just "Sidespace".

I finished "Sidespace". Definitely a part 1 which left a lot of stories in their middles.
maurvir posted:
DEyncourt posted:
The High Priest's Daughter by Katie Cross (2015).

This is the chronologically fourth novel within Cross' Network Series with one more remaining for me (though there will be another book series which will take place some significant time before most (all?) of these books.

It is also the first one where I think that Cross had made significant errors in her storyline. Not so very flawed that I will stop reading especially since I have liked nearly all of the other elements in her storymaking. Unfortunately these also involve rather crucial plot points such that a full discussion would require spoilers galore, so let it suffice for me to state that I am still bothered by this. Perhaps Cross will spend part of the final book to explain what I feel are significant problems.

Because there is a lot to like here. Our heroine, Bianca Monroe, was undergoing the usual growing pains that anyone might have growing up anywhere, but her situation was additionally complicated by how up to her 17th birthday she had a literal existential crisis which almost certainly should have resulted in her death, so having survived that she was still getting used to the very idea of having any sort of future.

She had also been able to settle into Chatham Castle, the capital for the Central Network, bringing 3 of her closest and somewhat idiosyncratic friends from Miss Mabel's School for Girls with her. BUT being girls in their late teens (one of them being a third-year student when Bianca and her other 2 friends were first-years), there were now the usual distractions (boys).

There were also rumors of war brewing, though a significant portion of the Central Network was rather studiously ignoring such while grumbling about all of the problems their leaders were causing such as laying in supplies in preparation.


I finished the series a few days ago, and yes, there were definitely some flaws. I was a bit distressed to find my mental editor kicking in a few times as well, but that seems to be the norm these days.

There was one plot twist near the end of the last book that still has me scratching my head. The twist is possible, particularly in a world which appears to be a slightly modern medieval setting, but I admit it felt a bit like a deus ex machina. Still, as you say, Cross' writing is good enough to get past that. I also noticed that her ability to write battle scenes improved dramatically from the first book, where the "end fight" felt a bit flat. Nonetheless, I greatly enjoyed the series and really fell in love (so to speak) with the characters. I'm willing to tolerate a fair bit if I like the characters and feel engaged in the story.

I finished "War of the Networks" too. I agree with you mostly although I disagree with that "deus ex machina" characterization in that Bianca was using the specific tool she had--her mental connection with Mabel--to provide the distraction which allowed her father to fatally wound Mabel. While the description of that fight was totally lacking, I think that Cross was "playing fair" with her overall narrative being exclusively from Bianca's POV: Bianca was unable to watch being totally preoccupied with her task.

And Cross did NOT provide any sort of explanation of that problem I saw in the previous book. Maybe I'll discuss this with mauvir via messages, not wanting to fill this thread with spoilers.

Cross does have out a collection of short stories (to be read AFTER "The Network Series") based in Antebellum, and the first book in a prequel to-be-trilogy, "Flame". From one of the last pages in "The Network Series" apparently Cross is planning to write another 7 books in Antebellum: the 2 remaining books to complete that prequel trilogy, a DIFFERENT collection of short stories, and another 4 books (unknown how they may be related to "The Network Series"; perhaps expansions upon some of the short stories?).

I anticipate getting them all.
maurvir Outlier
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DEyncourt posted:
maurvir posted:
DEyncourt posted:
The High Priest's Daughter by Katie Cross (2015).

This is the chronologically fourth novel within Cross' Network Series with one more remaining for me (though there will be another book series which will take place some significant time before most (all?) of these books.

It is also the first one where I think that Cross had made significant errors in her storyline. Not so very flawed that I will stop reading especially since I have liked nearly all of the other elements in her storymaking. Unfortunately these also involve rather crucial plot points such that a full discussion would require spoilers galore, so let it suffice for me to state that I am still bothered by this. Perhaps Cross will spend part of the final book to explain what I feel are significant problems.

Because there is a lot to like here. Our heroine, Bianca Monroe, was undergoing the usual growing pains that anyone might have growing up anywhere, but her situation was additionally complicated by how up to her 17th birthday she had a literal existential crisis which almost certainly should have resulted in her death, so having survived that she was still getting used to the very idea of having any sort of future.

She had also been able to settle into Chatham Castle, the capital for the Central Network, bringing 3 of her closest and somewhat idiosyncratic friends from Miss Mabel's School for Girls with her. BUT being girls in their late teens (one of them being a third-year student when Bianca and her other 2 friends were first-years), there were now the usual distractions (boys).

There were also rumors of war brewing, though a significant portion of the Central Network was rather studiously ignoring such while grumbling about all of the problems their leaders were causing such as laying in supplies in preparation.


I finished the series a few days ago, and yes, there were definitely some flaws. I was a bit distressed to find my mental editor kicking in a few times as well, but that seems to be the norm these days.

There was one plot twist near the end of the last book that still has me scratching my head. The twist is possible, particularly in a world which appears to be a slightly modern medieval setting, but I admit it felt a bit like a deus ex machina. Still, as you say, Cross' writing is good enough to get past that. I also noticed that her ability to write battle scenes improved dramatically from the first book, where the "end fight" felt a bit flat. Nonetheless, I greatly enjoyed the series and really fell in love (so to speak) with the characters. I'm willing to tolerate a fair bit if I like the characters and feel engaged in the story.

I finished "War of the Networks" too. I agree with you mostly although I disagree with that "deus ex machina" characterization in that Bianca was using the specific tool she had--her mental connection with Mabel--to provide the distraction which allowed her father to fatally wound Mabel. While the description of that fight was totally lacking, I think that Cross was "playing fair" with her overall narrative being exclusively from Bianca's POV: Bianca was unable to watch being totally preoccupied with her task.

And Cross did NOT provide any sort of explanation of that problem I saw in the previous book. Maybe I'll discuss this with mauvir via messages, not wanting to fill this thread with spoilers.

Cross does have out a collection of short stories (to be read AFTER "The Network Series") based in Antebellum, and the first book in a prequel to-be-trilogy, "Flame". From one of the last pages in "The Network Series" apparently Cross is planning to write another 7 books in Antebellum: the 2 remaining books to complete that prequel trilogy, a DIFFERENT collection of short stories, and another 4 books (unknown how they may be related to "The Network Series"; perhaps expansions upon some of the short stories?).

I anticipate getting them all.


That actually wasn't what I was referring to. :lol: I actually expected Bianca's mental link to come into play during the end fight. No, what I was referring to was Derek and Bianca being Mildred's child/grandchild. Hazel was Mildred's brother's child, so her own child would have been born around the time Hazel was 18. The math does work out, but it felt more like it came out of nowhere than a legit plot twist.
In celebration of Tor.com turning 10 years old today, Tor Books is offering Rocket Fuel, a collection of 34 non-fiction essays for free. Available from Amazon (Kindle), Barnes&Noble (Nook) and Apple iBooks.
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You folks read a lot of modern sci-fi anthologies. I usually won't read anything post-Zalazney, as I figure it can't have any social relevance, being a product of a Logan's Run society.
Here are a LOT of e-books.

Pay what you want for 10 FOUR e-books which were finalists or winners of Canada's Aurora Award.

The Aurora Award is for speculative fiction. While you can buy these 10 4 books for free as little as $5 (see my later post below), if you exceed $15 then you can get 6 more books by the same other authors which were also finalists or winners. Oh, that price includes submitting a valid e-mail address.

There is a similar offer for "dark fantasy" e-books. 11 FOUR (note that 2 of these books are by the same author so only 10 authors for the expanded deal) books for free a minimum of $5, but you can get another 7 books by exceeding $15.

I should note that these are limited time offers (closing after 1 am ET on July 27th August 10th. My guess is that their timer clock is set to standard time). These e-books are available in epub (Apple) and mobi (Kindle) formats.

I am uncertain if those prices are in Canadian dollars or US dollars (apparently the latter for US buyers).

With the exception of Robert Sawyer, I do not recognize any of these authors' names. I have not read any of these titles. Note that some are first books in series.

EDIT: changed the minimum price and added more info and corrected the number of books being offered. I THINK they may have extended the time period of availabilty from ending on July 27th to August 10th.

Last edited by DEyncourt on Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:14 pm.

user Stupid cockwomble
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must have done something wrong - lowest was $5
user posted:
must have done something wrong - lowest was $5

They have modified those offers, changing their FAQ to reflect this:
Quote:
Hey wait a minute, you said I can pay whatever I want. Why can't I pay nothing?

As much as we would like to truly let everyone pay what they want, there are some logistical reasons why we've set the minimum bundle price at $3 for most bundles (and for some bundles with a LOT of content, we set it at $5). We believe that most people are honest, but there are some people that think that the bundle is worth $0 to them, and thus would be downloading all the books for free. That's fine in a theoretical sense, since people should have a right to set their own prices, but it's hard to think that five author's work is worth absolutely nothing!

In addition, if we allowed people to download bundles for free, they're using up resources and bandwidth that would otherwise be serving other customers who paid for a bundle. Ultimately, we decided that $3 was a fair price in order to see that each author receives at least something for their effort, and that StoryBundle isn't losing money on each download.

My apologies: in my earlier post about free cheap e-books being offered by StoryBundle I had badly misinterpreted the number of books being offered. I have made corrections in that post to fix this. In short: both INITIAL offers are for "only" 4 books with those additional books being offered if the buyer pays at least $15 for each of those "bundles".

I should note that unlike the free Tor Books offers, there is a SEPARATE offer for signing up for the otherwise-free StoryBundle newsletter where you can read about future deals.

I have a LOT of reading ahead of me....
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (2015).

TL; DR: an "updated" version of a fairy tale. Worth your time.

I had picked this up a while back but had gotten "distracted" by some of my more recent e-books, so it took me too long to get to this. I decided I needed to at least start this book in order to determine whether or not to get Novik's recently released "Spinning Silver". It took me far less than 50 pages to decide to pick up "Silver". I should note from the liner notes for "Silver" that Novik had used a different fairy tale.

While there may be some who place a "feminist" label upon "Uprooted", I believe that this is wrong. This is not so much empowering the female lead--Novik does do THAT--but this is more giving her much more self-agency than had been given to female "protagonists" in classic fairy tales. Of course the worst example of this may have been "Sleeping Beauty" where the title character's ONLY other characteristic aside from her beauty was that she was an overly curious child who liked to explore her family's castle so that she could come across the spinning wheel--and thus its needle--that puts her/the castle/the country to sleep (depending upon which version you read/had read to you). Oh, and her willingness to fall in love with the hero who rescues her by waking her with a kiss.

Set in medieval times along the borderlands of Polnya, the Dragon is the name given to the wizard who is the lord of a mostly bucolic narrow river valley. During the annual harvest festival at which during most years he simply collects taxes as their feudal lord, every ten years the Dragon will select one among that year's 17-year-old girls. The presumption is that he does this for carnal purposes even though at the end of those ten years all of the previously selected now-women claim that during their time with the Dragon he never touched them that way, though there is a pattern: while those women DO come back to their villiages with a sizable purse for a dowry, this is only for a month at most, most often moving away from the valley to the local big city outside of the valley if not the capital.

Of course the families in the valley pray that in the third year hence that will not have any girls that year, but if they do they become resigned to the prospect that 17 years afterwards that girl might be the one selected.

Kasia was one of THOSE girls but even early on everyone KNEW she would be the one selected. Naturally beautiful with long golden hair, she was also blessed by grace and courtesy such that her own mother encouraged her talents in sewing and cooking that would make Kasia the envy of most noblewomen.

Agnieszka (pronounced ag-NYESH-kah according to Novik) was also another one of those girls but being Kasia's immediate neighbor Agnieska never had to worry about being selected. While pretty enough she wasn't a great beauty like Kasia. Agnieszka also had a developed early on her own reputation: according to HER own mother Agnieszka could get grass stains and mud up to her knees, catch her dress hem on twigs, AND get brambles in her hair in between the door to their home and their front gate.

Agnieszka also had some distinction as being that girl who could find things. While it varied by time of the year, Agnieszka could find that early OR late cache of berries in the forest, or that set of naturally flat stones that could be used for cobblestone to repair the village streets. Of course to be able to find such she had to scramble around a lot (and thus that other reputation).

Agnieszka and Kasia naturally grew up together in a close, almost sisterly relationship, so Agnieszka grew to HATE the Dragon especially when their time of choosing approached. It shouldn't be a surprise to learn that Kasia was not selected.

The other main "character" is the Wood. While the forest around Agnieszka's village was relatively safe, the Wood began a few miles south of her village. Things emerged from the Wood changed whether they were people or farm animals or wild animals. During some years seeds or pollen would spread from the Wood causing monstrous growths killing crops. It is for such occurrences that the Dragon earned his status as protector of the valley, though most often his acts were to kill off whatever had become afflicted sometimes usng spells, sometimes to lead burns along the edge of the Wood to prevent it from spreading further northward.

Of course part of "Uprooted" was to explain how the Wood became so and what Agnieszka does to heal the Wood.
maurvir Outlier
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A great part of true feminism is merely giving women self-agency; since the root of many of the problems that women faced, which led to the rise of feminism, was the overwhelmingly popular concept of women as either property or mindless children requiring the steady hand of a man to get by. From that perspective, the book you describe would be feminist, but in the positive, empowering form rather than the man-hating drivel that is passed off as feminism these days.
dv
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maurvir posted:
A great part of true feminism is merely giving women self-agency; since the root of many of the problems that women faced, which led to the rise of feminism, was the overwhelmingly popular concept of women as either property or mindless children requiring the steady hand of a man to get by. From that perspective, the book you describe would be feminist, but in the positive, empowering form rather than the man-hating drivel that is passed off as feminism these days.


Thanks for mansplaining feminism to us.
maurvir Outlier
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dv posted:
maurvir posted:
A great part of true feminism is merely giving women self-agency; since the root of many of the problems that women faced, which led to the rise of feminism, was the overwhelmingly popular concept of women as either property or mindless children requiring the steady hand of a man to get by. From that perspective, the book you describe would be feminist, but in the positive, empowering form rather than the man-hating drivel that is passed off as feminism these days.


Thanks for mansplaining feminism to us.


:lol:

Unfortunately, these days it actually does have to be explained.
(Mostly) free anthology of SF stories written by women.

The e-book is free (though available only in epub format). If you prefer, there is a physical paperback available for £3.34 basically to cover shipping.
dv
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In their August newsletter, Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick mentions 2 deals--one upcoming--at Amazon for Heinlein books:

Kindle version of "Friday" for $2.99 now and

Kindle version of "Podkayne of Mars" also for $2.99 but do note: this sale will begin on August 20th and will last for 3 days. Currently that version is for sale at $6.99. This version does have the original ending that was modified by Heinlein at the publisher's request when first published in 1963. I do recommend this.

Their close-to-free book for August is Catherine Wells' "Mother Grimm". You can get just this book for free, OR you can buy their bundle of 4 books in Wells' series including "Mother Grimm" for a minimum purchase of $2.99. Available in epub (Apple) and mobi (Kindle) formats.

I don't recall reading anything by Wells so I cannot personally recommend her books.

Though...boy! I now have more unread books on my iPhone that I have sitting on my bookshelves (well, really, in those stacks on my floor because I have literally run out of bookshelf space).
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (2015).

TL; DR: this is one of those e-books that Tor Books offered for free this past June, and that worked: I'm in it for the long haul and plan to get the following 2 books in this 3-book series.

The time is during the 1810's. In "Darker Place" there are FOUR Londons:

Grey London is basically the London from our historical past. Being largely devoid of magic, it is filled with all sorts of mechanical wonders that the other Londons lack. King George III has been confined to a sanitorium due to both physical and mental problems and the government is headed by his son George (to be IV), the Prince of Wales, as Prince Regent.

Red London is the capital of Arnes, a country which controls the western half of central Europe (i.e., not including Scandinavia). This world is filled with magic which is literally flowing out of the Isle (which we know as the River Thames). It is largely prosperous being led by a popular king and queen and prince, the last of whom is on the verge of adulthood of 20 years.

White London also has magic but is largely starved for magical power. What power remains is largely controlled by the Danes, a pair of twins who relatively recently seized the crown here.

There is also Black London. While the most magical, about 3 centuries prior to "Darker Shade" there began a problem: the magic in Black London became an entity of its own and began to seize magical power from the other Londons, mostly from White London due to its magical "proximity". To prevent this from being spread further the other Londons had sealed the gateways between each other.

While many (but not all) people in Red London have a bit of magic, theirs are mostly confined to one of the classical "elements": earth, air, fire, and water (with some variations/combination). On the other hand there are few people known as the Antari who have a broad control over all "schools" of magic on top of blood magic which--among other properties--allow them to traverse between the various Londons under their own power. This was not always such an advantage: during those troubles 3 centuries earlier the Antari were mistakenly believed to have contributed to that problem, a belief which practically wiped them out such that there was only one remaining Antari in Red London at the time of "Darker Shade".

Kell (no last name) is that last Antari. When he was a youngster his magical abilities were recognized as having this unique combination so he was sold to the royal household. Fortunately for Kell the prince Rhys--having a kindly heart--insisted that Kell should be treated as a family member, and is treated by the public as royalty, but Kell does recognize that distinction: while he is part of the royal household, he is merely a possesion. Kell does love Rhys like a brother to the point of laying down his life to defend Rhys, but is a bit more standoffish with the king and queen even if the latter insists that Kell call her "Mother".

The world of Delilah "Lila" Bard could hardly have been more different from Kell's. Growing up in magic-less Grey London, Lila had only known a life of deprivation and hunger but somehow had managed to have become one of the more notorious pickpockets of London--though the authorities were still mistaking her of being a man in part due to her being rather tall for a woman--at the ripe old age of 17.

How Kell and Lila get together would involve retelling the first third of the book.

A complex and different tale of magic, so I look forward to those further books.
maurvir Outlier
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I really enjoyed that book, though I would point out that Kell is actually K.L. The significance of that fact was never explained, so I imagine it will be relevant in the following books. Also, Delilah Bard intentionally dressed as a man precisely to keep the authorities off of her back. As a disguise, it was a brilliant piece of subterfuge. It will be interesting to see how she adapts to a world where petty theft isn't nearly so simple without knowledge of something that didn't even exist to her before the story begins.

That said, the book is absolutely fantastic, and really does bring a fresh perspective to tales about magic. However, what I liked about the story is that the magic was in a supporting role - it was much more about intrigue and adventure. I found it exceedingly hard to put it down.
Well, being only a brief review I did leave out a lot of details. Sure, Lila was dressed as a man while living in Grey London if only because pickpocketing (and especially sometimes running away to hide) would be considerably more difficult dressed as a woman, and a "man" could be excused for dressing relatively shabbily even in highly stratified London of that time, but obtaining (and worse: properly maintaining) the clothing of even a modestly wealthy woman such as an innkeeper would be nigh impossible.

There is also THAT small detail which likely will have future consequences in the latter books: when Lila and Kell brought Prince Rhys to Master Tieren for him to heal and protect Rhys away from the "infected" royal palace, after Kell had turned to leave Tieren's magic seminary, Tieren had questioned Lila out of Kell's hearing, asking her, "How did you lose it?...Your eye." Lila explained, "I was a child, and it was an accident, I’m told."

T: Does [Kell] know [about your glass eye]?
L: Does it matter?
T (after a bit): I suppose not.

One of the distinguishing characteristics that Kell and Holland shared as Antari was how they had one eye with a black (due to magic?) iris which was different from their other normally colored eyes--blue for Kell, green for Holland.

While Kell had dismissed Tieren's assessment of Lila of having a talent for magic simply because she is from Grey London, Tieren did reply, "No London is truly without magic." I'm willing to bet--having NOT read any reviews for the latter two books--that Lila will be Antari as well (though completely untrained and unpracticed, of course) which would also help to explain PART of what Lila was able to do with magic throughout "Darker Shade", although I had been thinking this would be so well before that scene with Master Tieren.

maurvir Outlier
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I picked up on that as well, but I'm certain the rest of the books were planned in advance, hence leaving foreshadowing for events in those. I won't be surprised to find you are correct. I'm also curious what, if anything, becomes of Holland after his being dumped in Black London - since you have to know that his story isn't over quite yet.
maurvir posted:
[snip]
It will be interesting to see how she adapts to a world where petty theft isn't nearly so simple without knowledge of something that didn't even exist to her before the story begins.
[snip]

I still haven't picked up the following books in the trilogy, but my prediction is that Lila will quickly express her frustration to Kell in NOT being able to practice her "craft" of pickpocketing in Red London. There will be two problems:

1) the wealthier inhabitants of Red London/Arnes will be protected by magic, either self-created or purchased from others. And even when Lila is caught by such magic,

2) it will become quickly known that Lila is Kell's "foreign" friend. Her inability to understand the local "Arnesian" (did Schwab call the local language this? I don't recall) in combination with Lila speaking the crown's language of English "so well" (in the movie version of "Darker Shade" I want the actress playing Lila to speak in a "gutter" English accent so extreme that she will require subtitles for American audiences), that the previously offended person will immediately offer in (perhaps halting) English whatever was pickpocketed as a gift to Kell's friend. Royalty--albeit peripheral by two steps--has its privileges.

-----

Oh, about Holland: he wasn't even dead when sent to Black London, and even though it is possible it is tough to kill an Antari. I know that he will be back and probably even more powerful than before. Perhaps even a bit self-disappointed that he had never made the attempt to go to Black London by himself, being "prejudiced" against it by all the stories.
I can imaging a scene like this at some point:

Kell (after hearing Prince Rhys say something in English): Wait...what did you say?
Rhys: Wha...? Lila says that all the time!
K: Well, that's not proper "King's English".
R: What do you mean? Is Lila not a NATIVE speaker? I thought that she could give me the best English lessons.
K (frustrated): <sigh> You know how there is a "street" Arnesian which is distinct from "courtly" Arnesian, right?
R: Sure, but....
K: Lila speaks "street" English. VERY much so. Hers is practically another language.
R (chagrined): Oh. Well, you're too late because EVERYTHING she says is being taught to EVERYONE.

I can also imagine that Rhys will also be involved in the revelation that Lila is Antari:

Rhys and Lila are being taught basic lessons in magic by Kell. Kell begins with fire since Rhys showed aptitude towards that before, so both Rhys and Lila do the lesson relatively easily.

Kell switches to water. Again Lila does this with complete ease while Rhys struggles to just move the water, much less do anything else with it. Lila taunts Rhys, asking how anyone in Red London could have any problems with magic?

This is followed by a variation of that scene with Master Tieren from my earlier post.

Time again for Tor Book's free e-book of the month: Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon. It is the usual deal:

1) you must first sign-up to get Tor Book's newsletter or confirm you are on their mailing list.
2) only available for download in the US and Canada.
3) available in epub (Apple) and mobi (Kindle) formats.
4) it is the first book in a to-be series with book 2, Stygian, set to be published on August 28th.
5) download must be completed by 11:59 pm EDT on August 17th.
6) the offer may be withdrawn at any time.

Though <sigh> this is the 60th e-book on my iPhone that I have not yet started or only partially read.
justine Elitist Beer Lover
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I just finished The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. I really liked it, and there's 4 more books in the series.
BookBub.com is offering Aurora Rising (do note: the link is to their page for current deals for SF books so you may have to scroll downward to find Aurora Rising, but to see the details you will have to log in)--the first trilogy of G.S. Jennsen's 9-book Aurora Rhapsody--for only $0.99. This is a discount upon downloading the first two books for free from Jennsen's site because to buy the third book from Apple Books is $4, and the usual price for buying Aurora Rising is $6.

This is a limited time offer. No idea as to when BookBub will end it.
'"In Search of Doors": Read V.E. Schwab’s 2018 J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature'.

I'm not sure why, but for some reason the creator of that linked page put the YouTube video of Schwab's lecture at the end of the lecture's transcription. That video also includes a Q&A session which followed her lecture which takes up the first 26:30 of the video. That Q&A session is NOT part of the transcription. Unfortunately the questions themselves are often not very loud despite the questioners being given a microphone.
DEyncourt posted:
[snip]
Kindle version of "Podkayne of Mars" also for $2.99 but do note: this sale will begin on August 20th and will last for 3 days. Currently that version is for sale at $6.99. This version does have the original ending that was modified by Heinlein at the publisher's request when first published in 1963. I do recommend this.
[snip]

Just a reminder that this deal (unless cancelled) should be active NOW.

Do note that BookBub.com is repeating this offer though for other e-book formats as well (so not just Kindle).
OK, this was unexpected being out of schedule: Tor Books is offering The Black Company by Glen Cook as a free e-book (aside from the required signing up with their newsletter) from now until 11:59 pm EDT on August 30th. Usual restrictions and limitations apply (see my previous post for most of them).

The Black Company was the first book in Cook's series "the Chronicles of the Black Company" and was published in 1990. The TENTH book, "Port of Shadows", will be released on September 11th. Do note that while "Port of Shadows" will be the latest book in "Chronicles", it takes up the story immediately following that first book.

I have most of Cook's "Garrett, P.I." fantasy detective series which started with Sweet Silver Blues. It followed that common detective trope with the brains of the operation not leaving lair while his lieutenant (the main narrator in this case) does all of the active investigations. For whatever reasons I never picked up any book from "Chronicles", but I liked the Garrett novels.
justine Elitist Beer Lover
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I just started the second book in the Darkest Minds series.
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