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While browsing my regular list of blogs last night, I came across this post by Mark Charan Newton, author of Nights of Villjamur.  I immediately sent him an email, and was rewarded this morning with my very own .pdf copy of Nights of Villjamur!

I’m very excited!  Nights of Villjamur has generated a lot of buzz, and the forthcoming followup, City of Ruin (available June 4,  2010), is doing the same.

Watch this space in the next couple of weeks for my review!

For more information about the books, and the author himself, visit his blog.

Quality vs. Quantity

This is a subject that has long been debated, especially with respect to speculative fiction.  Droves of ravenous fans want the next installment, and they want it yesterday.  While the publication timeline (aside from the actual writing) of any book is rarely (if ever) within the author’s control, it is the author themselves that takes the brunt of the backlash from impatient fans.

Some authors, such as R. A. Salvatore, publish on a regular basis (1-2 books per year), while others, like George R. R. Martin, can take years between installments.  Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss was originally scheduled for hardcover release last April, now amazon.ca lists the release date as August 2011.

I think a lot of fans forget that authors are people, first and foremost.  Like the rest of us, they have spouses, children, hobbies, etc.  They have jobs, take vacations, and get sick.  When they write, its for their enjoyment, as well as ours.  So, when I see people complaining about how long its taking for the next novel in their favorite series to be released, I get a little frustrated.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if I could have the last 5 novels in the Gentleman Bastard Sequence right now, I’d take them!  However, they have to be good, or really, what’s the point?

So Mr. Martin, Mr. Lynch, Mr. Rothfuss – please, take your time.  Push those release dates back, scrap half of what you’ve written and start over, do whatever it takes to make it amazing.  I’ll be ready when you are.

I’ll take Quality over Quantity any day …

Founded in 1974, Orbit UK is a British publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy, producing upwards of 80 titles per year.  Their sister imprint, Orbit US, was established in 2007, and currently publishes approximately 40 titles per year.

From their website:

“We are committed to attracting more readers to Science Fiction and Fantasy. Whether you’re an existing SFF reader, read it in the past and have given up, or never read it before, if you love imaginative fiction, you’re in the right place.”

With the use of high quality paper, eye-catching artwork and interest-piquing titles, I believe they are well on their way to meeting that goal.  And here’s what I really love – they publish quickly.  A prime example of this is the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks.  The first volume, The Way of Shadows, was published in October of 2008, quickly followed by Shadow’s Edge in November, and Beyond the Shadows in December.  This is a great marketing strategy, and one that was nearly unheard of in the industry prior to 3 years ago.  Not only does it mean keeping a new author prominent on the shelves and fresh in readers’ minds, but shorter wait times between installments.  Everyone wins!  (Note:  Not all Orbit titles are published this quickly, but you generally don’t have to wait long – a few months, as opposed to a year or longer).

While browsing through the Orbit US Publishing Schedule, I came across some exciting titles set for publication later this year (These dates may change).   Synopses for each of the novels listed below can be found here.

The Poison Throne & The Crowded ShadowsCeline Kiernan

April, 2010                                            July, 2010

Lord of the Changing Winds & Land of the Burning Sands – Rachel Neumeier

May, 2010                                         June, 2010

The Bone PalaceAmanda Downum (follow-up to The Drowning City, published September, 2009)

August, 2010

And finally, The Black PrismBrent Weeks

August, 2010

To learn more about this publisher, view Publishing Schedules for the UK, US and Australia, and read extracts of upcoming titles, visit the Orbit Books website.

Forthcoming …

There are a few titles coming up in the next couple of months that I am really excited about.  The first of which, is Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb.  This marks the long-awaited and much-anticipated return to the Rain Wilds.  An all-new story with appearances from some the characters we know and love from Hobb’s previous works.  Release Date:  January 26th, 2010.

The second book, Dragon Haven, is tentatively set to be released later this spring.  (I’m sure this date will be revised, if only to torment me!)

Next up is Jade Man’s Skin by Daniel Fox, the second book in the Moshui, the Books of Stone and Water trilogy.  From his website:

“In this second volume of his soaring epic, Daniel Fox weaves the ancient myths and legends of feudal China into a fantasy world of brutal war and brittle passion, immortal gods and mystical creatures.”

The first in the series, Dragon in Chains, caught my interest long before its release.  However, my local bookstore couldn’t keep it in stock long enough for me to get my hands on a copy.  I’m uploading the ebook to my iPod now, watch for a review in the coming weeks!  Release Date:  February 16, 2010.

And finally, we have The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin.

From her website:

“Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with a pair of cousins she never knew she had.”

Political intrigue, fallen Gods, a young girl suddenly named heir to the throne, thrust into a life she never expected, with a family she didn’t know she had?  My interest is definitely piqued!  Release Date:  February 25, 2010.

You can read Chapters 1-3 at N. K. Jemisin’s website (follow the link above), and one of her previously published short stories, The Narcomancer, here.

(A big thanks to Aidan over at A Dribble of Ink for bringing this author to my attention!)

Alright, I’ll admit, I’m a little behind the times on this one.  But as the proud new owner of a Playstation 3, I have a bit of catching up to do.

This, by far, is one of the best games I’ve played, and Nathan Drake has quickly become my favorite video game character – he’s smart, funny, tough-as-nails, and *ahem* hot.  That’s right, I said it …

Being an Xbox / Wii gamer, I found the controls to be a little awkward to begin with.  The tutorial chapters were very helpful, without being boring or dumbed-down, and I soon got the hang of Nate’s capabilities.  And while he’s no Altair, he’s still pretty impressive!

The story is very well written, and moves along at a nice pace.  It never feels rushed, nor does it lag.  There’s lots of action, puzzles, humor and great dialogue to keep you entertained and engaged, the graphics are absolutely amazing, and the voice casting couldn’t have been better.  I had a great time just exploring every nook and cranny, marveling at the detail that went into the creation of each environment.

The game is challenging, without being overly frustrating (I played on Normal).  I did walk away from it a couple of times, only to pass the chapter on the first try the next day.  The puzzles require some thinking, but you do have a Journal to give you clues, so you shouldn’t be stuck for long.  There are also a few Quick-Time events to keep you on your toes, and lots of treasures to look for along the way.

All in all, well-rounded gaming experience.  With 4 Difficulty settings and 60 treasures to find, there’s lots of replayability here.  The only downside is the lack of online play.  Do yourself a favor – beg, borrow or steal yourself a copy of this game!  9.5/10

P.S.  I thought I’d throw this in, as well.  If you haven’t seen the commercial for Uncharted 2:  Among Thieves, I’ve posted it below.  Its funny, because its true.  (I happily sat and watched my boyfriend play it for 3 days after getting it for Christmas – its just that good!)

Enjoy!!

I have a few goals when it comes to the reading I’ll be doing in 2010, a little “to do” list, if you will, that will keep me on track.

1.  Read More – in December of 2008, I started a group on the Chapters Community website called “52 in 52”.  The intention was to read an average of 1 book per week, and while I had some success, I didn’t quite make it to 52 books.  I’ve decided to give it another try, though, and am about to finish book #2.  If you’re interested, you can find the group here.

2.  Catch Up – as a general rule, I don’t like to start reading a series until all of the books have been completed and published.  I’ve made a few exceptions when an author has really caught my attention (Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora and Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, for instance), but I hate waiting for the next book to come out.  There are a couple of series on my radar that I want to at least start on, and given that they have multiple books already published, I shouldn’t have to do much waiting.  George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and Steven Erikson’s The Malazan Book of the Fallen series are high on this list.

3.  Review – I spent 4 years working in the only bookstore in the city.  In that time, I did a lot of hand-selling.  Some of the recommendations I made were based on previous sales history, reviews that I had read, or buzz generated by the publisher.  Most of the time, I made recommendations based on what I had previously read and enjoyed.  Customers trusted me, and valued my opinions.  I no longer work at the bookstore, but I still find myself hand-selling to fellow browsers (my apologies if I’ve freaked you out).  By reviewing more of what I read, I hope to help others find a truly rewarding reading experience.

4.  Diversify – I stick pretty exclusively to Fantasy, although I’ve been known to read Fiction, Horror, Mystery, and even the odd Romance novel.  One thing I don’t read is Science Fiction.  To me, it’s like reading the instruction manual for an alternate reality/other dimension/futuristic world/alien planet.  Perhaps I’ve been reading the wrong stuff??  I know that I probably haven’t read enough to make an informed decision about the genre as a whole.  So, that being said, any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

What are your reading goals for 2010?

Ebooks vs. The Real Deal

Ebooks.  They seem to be everywhere this year.  With the release of the Kindle earlier this fall (here in Canada), and a multiple of ever-popular iPod, iPhone and Blackberry apps, ebooks seem to have taken on a life of their own.  I’ve even seen statements made that ebooks have out-sold tangible copies this Christmas season, perhaps marking the beginning of the end for bookstores as we know them.  Now, I can neither confirm nor deny this statement, as I haven’t seen the numbers, but it seems to me that this is a bold statement to be making.

As the owner of over 1,000 books, and someone who is in the process of moving, I can’t deny the convenience of the ebook.  I would love nothing better than to jam them all onto my iPod, stuff it in my purse and be done with it.  However, curling up in my big armchair with my iPod just doesn’t “feel” the same.  And, let’s face it, you can’t beat that “new-book” smell, either.

Then there’s the issue of “browsing”.  Plainly stated, browsing for ebooks is a chore.  I find that you need to know what you’re looking for before you even start.  How will I discover hidden treasures when I already have preconceived notions of what I’m looking for?  There’s nothing I love more than poking around a bookstore for a couple of hours and walking out with, not only what I went in for, but a few new discoveries as well.

While I currently have 45 or so ebooks on my iPod, I still prefer the real thing.  The smell of the ink and paper, the feel of the embossed cover, and the sight of rows upon rows of books lining my living room make the work of moving them worth it.  I don’t think traditional bookstores have anything to worry about.  While the convenience of ebooks is a major selling feature, its not enough to put the print publishers out of business.  You just can’t beat the feel of the real thing.

So tell me, what’s your preference?