Ebook roundup, freebies and sales and All The Mira Grant edition

Acquired from Tor.com as a monthly freebie:

  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson. Fantasy. I know this got a lot of positive press when it first came out, but I know certain things about how this story plays out that make me leery to engage with it. But I’m willing to give it a shot for free.

Acquired from Subterranean Press as a freebie:

  • Kingdom of Needle and Bone, by Mira Grant. A Grant novella, dealing with a pandemic scenario. I hadn’t read this one before and you could make a good argument that maybe this isn’t the thing I want to read right this instant. But I’m also a fan of confronting personal fears through fiction! Plus, see commentary elsewhere on this list re: reading All the Grant/McGuire, and this is one of hers I haven’t read yet.

Acquired from Kobo:

  • Feedback, All the Pretty Little Horses, and Coming to You Live, all by Mira Grant. I’d read Feedback before from the library, and I’d read the other two as part of a library read of the Rise release that had all of the Grant novellas to date. But this is me finally acquiring ebook copies of all three of these, in the midst of a major Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire readathon.
  • The City of Brass, by S.A. Chakraborty. Fantasy. Grabbed this one when it was available at a discount.
  • Dreamer’s Pool, by Juliet Marillier. Fantasy. I had this on my list to read as a library book, but it went on sale for $1.99, so I went ahead and nabbed it.
  • Cold Fire and Cold Steel, by Kate Elliott. Fantasy, books 2 and 3 of her Spiritwalker Trilogy. I haven’t read book 1 yet, but these went on sale for a low price, so time to nab ’em!

Pre-ordered from Kobo:

  • The A.I. Who Loved Me, by Alyssa Cole. Sci-fi romance. I’ve already listened to this in audiobook form, but now it’s coming out in ebook, so I thought I’d nab an ebook copy too.

66 for the year.

Book roundup, Hugo nominees edition

Apparently, when I social distance during a quarantine, I go TIME TO BUY ALL THE BOOKS.

Acquired in print from Third Place Books:

  • The Return of the Shadow, by J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien. This is one of the extended History of Middle-Earth series that Christopher Tolkien put together out of his father’s papers, which I got interested in after seeing the excellent character study series of posts Tor.com put up citing these books as sources. Also bought to have an excuse to order something from Third Place during the covid-19 crisis.

Acquired from Subterranean Press:

  • The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard. Got this one because they were briefly offering it for free. SF/Space Opera, novella. I believe it’s also a Holmes pastiche?

Pre-ordered from Kobo:

  • The Immortal City, by May Peterson. Book 2 of her Sacred Dark series, Book 1 of which I’ve already bought but haven’t read yet. Buying Book 2 sight unseen just because fantasy romance!
  • Network Effect, by Martha Wells. The forthcoming Murderbot novel which is due out in another few weeks. I gotta get caught up on some Murderbot, clearly!

And outright bought from Kobo:

  • Horrorstör, by Grady Hendrix. Horror, but funny horror. Noted this when it came out some time ago, though the concept sounded cute. I.e., an IKEA-like store is totally haunted. Finally nabbed it at a sale price.
  • Storm of Locusts, by Rebecca Roanhorse. Urban fantasy. Book 2 of her Sixth World series. Book 1 was excellent, so I’m looking forward to reading this one!
  • The Blacksmith Queen, by G.A. Aiken. Fantasy. This one’s been talked up a lot on Smart Bitches as a fantasy with great female character interaction, and I’m for that!
  • Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland. YA horror, with zombies. Grabbed this one since it’s a post-Civil-War zombie story and I am quite interested to see how it plays out.
  • Thornfruit, by Felicia Davin. Book 1 of a fantasy romance series. Grabbed it because it was free at the time.
  • Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy, by Martha Wells. Books 3 and 4 of the Murderbot Diaries. Grabbed because I (heart) Murderbot!
  • In an Absent Dream and Come Tumbling Down, by Seanan McGuire. Books 4 and 5 of the Wayward Children series. Looking forward in particular to Come Tumbling Down.
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers. SF, book 3 of her Wayfarers series.
  • “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”, by P. Djèlí Clark. This is the short story that sets up the universe for The Haunting of Tram Car 015.

Also acquired from Kobo, but these ones in particular are all because they’re Hugo nominees, either for Best Novel or Best Novella:

  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers. Same author who wrote The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which I liked, and I have been meaning to catch up on her work. Contender for Best Novella.
  • This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Been hearing a lot of good things about this one. Contender for Best Novella.
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow. Contender for Best Novel.
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015, by P. Djèlí Clark. Contender for Best Novella.
  • Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire. Because boy howdy have I heard a lot of good things about this one. Contender for Best Novel.
  • A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine. SF. Contender for Best Novel.

And lastly, acquired from Amazon:

  • Problem Child, by Victoria Helen Stone. Book 2 of her Jane Doe thriller series. I quite liked book 1 and will be interested to see how this one goes.

56 for the year.

Because coronavirus sucks ebook roundup

So um, yeah, how about that pandemic then.

Like I daresay everybody else who reads my posts, I’m spending a lot of time compulsively refreshing news feeds and watching the case counts for COVID-19 go up all over the world. In Washington state, we’ve got the second highest case count in the U.S. after New York. In King County, the county I live it, we’ve got over 560 cases alone.

My household’s all okay at the moment. My day job has us all working from home. And since I am extremely grateful that I have a day job that allows me to do that, I’ve been trying to contribute what I can to fellow authors and some musicians as well. I’ll be looking at possibly signing up for some Patreons.

And for now, here’s a list of the books I just picked up. Acquired from Kobo:

  • Paper and Fire, Ash and Quill, Smoke and Iron, and Sword and Pen, Books 2-5 of Rachel Caine’s Great Library series. YA, SF dystopia. Nabbing these because not only do I have a long history of loving Caine’s books, but also because she’s undergoing a second round of cancer treatment right now and whoo boy howdy is this not a good time to have to be undergoing cancer treatment. Not like there’s ever a good time, but hey.
  • A Death of No Importance, by Mariah Fredericks. Mystery, book 1 of her Jane Prescott series. Got this one because it’s a period mystery, set in New York in 1910, and because it was on sale at the time for $2.99.
  • The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. The third Night Vale novel. This is a pre-order because the book isn’t out yet, but it’ll be out very soon and I wanted to make sure to support the book right now. Because Night Vale has been a joy to me for years, and because the coronavirus has scuttled their ability to do their current round of touring, too.
  • Lady Helena Investigates, by Jane Steen. Mystery, book 1 of her Scott-DeQuincy series. Also a period mystery, which I went ahead and grabbed because it was on sale for 99 cents.
  • Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir. SF/space opera. Nabbed this one because a bunch of folks have been raving about it, and because the words “lesbian space necromancers” certainly caught my attention.
  • The Sun Down Motel, by Simone St. James. Mystery. Nabbed this one thanks to a splendid review of it on Smart Bitches, and because I’d recognized the author’s name as somebody who had previous books I wanted to read. I have already now read this as I write this post, and I can say I loved it. I’ll definitely be grabbing more of this author’s work now that I know I like it.
  • Turning Darkness into Light, by Marie Brennan. Fantasy. Sequel to her splendid Lady Trent series, which I adored, so naturally I needed to get my mitts on this title.

Acquired from Amazon:

  • Raven Heart, by Murphy Lawless. A.k.a. C.E. Murphy, who, as y’all know, is another longstanding favorite of mine. This is paranormal romance and I am certainly down for that from known good authors. <3 (Didn’t suck that she was handing it out for free at the time, either!)
  • The Night Girl, by James Bow. Standalone urban fantasy, set in Toronto. Picked this up on the strength of this review by James Nicoll.
  • The Richmond Thief, by Lisa Boero. Another period mystery, which I grabbed because it was on sale for 99 cents. (And fair play to Smart Bitches for their regular alerts regarding ebooks on sale!)

Acquired for free because a lot of authors are starting to offer titles for free to help tide people over during quarantine:

  • High Lonesome Sound, by Jaye Wells. Southern Gothic/horror. The author is handing out this book for free until the end of April. More details are in this tweet.

35 for the year.

Recent ebook roundup

Picked up from Kobo:

  • The Unleashing, by Shelly Laurenston. Urban fantasy/paranormal romance. Book 1 of her Call of Crows series. Nabbed this because of it going on sale, and because I keep hearing this series get gushed about on Smart Bitches as an example of a series with excellent camaraderie between female characters. (I really wish the cover wasn’t a shirtless dude in a hoodie, if there’s that much emphasis on female relationships, but hey, romance marketers don’t listen to me!) Also a heaping helping of Norse-based worldbuilding going on in this series, and I’m here for that.
  • An Illusion of Thieves, by Cate Glass. Fantasy. Book 1 of her Chimera series. This has gotten a lot of buzz about being essentially a heist story, but in a fantasy setting. It sounds fun, so when it went on sale I snapped it up.
  • Untamed Shore, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This is Moreno-Garcia’s first thriller, and I thought the plot sounded intriguing. Plus, I’ve read a little bit by this author before and I want to read more of her.
  • The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco. Nabbed this by spending some Super Points on my Kobo account, and because we’re reading this in book club.
  • Stormsong, by C.L. Polk. Book 2 of her Kingston Cycle series. Nabbed this because I really enjoyed Witchmark, and I’m looking forward to this second book in the series, starring the sister of the hero from the first one. And an F/F romance too!
  • The Unspoken Name, by A.K. Larkwood. Fantasy, book 1 of The Serpent Gate. Grabbed this one on the strength of this review at Tor.com, and because LESBIAN. ORC. ASSASSIN. Yes please I’ll have some!
  • The Dragonbone Chair, The Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower, by Tad Williams. Books 1-3 of the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy. Fantasy, a series I’ve read before and which I own in print. Nabbing these in ebook because my print copies of these are gigantic hardbacks and I’d rather like to read these again.

Picked up from Comixology:

  • Harleen, by Stjepan Šejić. Graphic novel. This is a retelling of Harley Quinn’s origin story, which I nabbed in digital form after seeing it mentioned in the comments on the Tor.com review of Birds of Prey. Since I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, I was very much in the mood to check out this graphic novel. And I burned through it as soon as I bought it, because the art is gorgeous and the story is thoroughly engrossing.

And, pre-ordered from Kobo:

  • The Shadow of Kyoshi, by F.C. Yee. Book 2 of the Kyoshi duology from the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Book 1 rocked and I am VERY on board for book 2. :D
  • Mexican Gothic, also by Silvia Morena-Garcia. Saw this mentioned when I went looking for the author’s Twitter account and went ZOMG at the description of it as a re-invention of the Gothic horror/suspense novel. This one’s set in 1950’s Mexico, and the author’s page for it includes an endorsement that compares it to Mary Stewart . I need it in my brain RIGHT NOW.

21 for the year.

Now commencing the 2020 ebook roundups

I’ve been doing website juggling what with having to transfer my main author site operations from angelahighland.com to angelahighland.info. Which means my more non-writing related posts are going up on annathepiper.org instead!

Like my book purchase roundups. Here’s the first for 2020.

Acquired from Kobo:

  • Destiny’s Embrace, Destiny’s Surrender, and Destiny’s Captive, all by Beverly Jenkins. These are all historical romances, and specifically featuring protagonists of color in Civil-War-era (and I think post-Civil-War?) America. Jenkins has been on the Smart Bitches podcast a couple of times, and she seems delightful, so I finally bought a few of her books when I saw them on sale for $1.99 each.
  • Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard. YA fantasy. Grabbed this because I had liked the cover when I first saw this one come out a couple of years ago, and because it went on sale for $2.99. (And I was slightly chagrined to see that shortly after that, Tor.com offered this as their free book for the month for January.)
  • Lord of the Last Heartbeat, by May Peterson. Fantasy romance. Grabbed this because a) hey, it’s another Carina author writing fantasy romance, and b) one of the protagonists is non-binary. Awesome. \0/

Acquired from Amazon:

Grabbed all three of these because they’re titles that were pulled out of the RITAs due to the big scandal with RWA over the tail end of December and the beginning of this month. There was a nice roundup page on Amazon with links off to the titles to buy and support the authors, and these were all ones that looked interesting.

  • The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan, by Sherry Thomas. I’ve read some Thomas (her Lady Sherlock series), and I’d like to see her take on Mulan.
  • The Orchid Throne, by Jeffe Kennedy. Fantasy romance. I know of Kennedy via Carina as well! And I’ve been meaning to read her work for a while now.
  • Polaris Rising, by Jessie Mihalik. SF romance. Grabbed this one, I’ll say straight out, because of the similarity of title to Jupiter Ascending. If this book hits the same sort of “big silly fun” sweet spot that movie did for me, I’ll enjoy it immensely.

Acquired from Gutenberg.org:

  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman / With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects, by Mary Wollstonecraft. Pulled this down from Gutenberg because we’re going to read this for book club.

Acquired so far for the year: 9

Book Log #8: Death Troopers, by Joe Schreiber

Death Troopers (Star Wars)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Y’know how sometimes, even if you know the book is probably going to be mediocre at best and is even likely to outright suck, you kind of have to read it anyway? Death Troopers, a Star Wars novel by Joe Schreiber, was like that for me.

‘Cause, okay, yeah, Star Wars plus zombies.

I know, I know. But I’m still enough of a Star Wars fan, and definitely enough of a zombie fan, that I could not resist seeing how an author tried to get a zombie story into the Star Wars universe. Plus, given that I saw a spoiler about two of the main Star Wars characters getting grafted into this plot (and it will probably not be much of a stretch for anyone familiar with me to guess which characters would pull me in), well okay yeah fine I’m there.

Survey says: overall, meh. I had two main beefs with this story: one, that the aforementioned grafting of primary Star Wars characters into this plot had no real suspense to it, since you knew they were going to survive. The story’s set before A New Hope, so there wasn’t any doubt at all that these characters would make it. Two, that pretty much every other character is thinly sketched in at best. They’re all archetypes zombie fans have seen in countless stories elsewhere.

Although, that said, the two main characters grafted into the story are the exact right characters you’d want to graft in. And, I do have to give Schrieber props for making the one female in the plot, the prison ship’s doctor, halfway interesting.

Also, props have to be given for a reasonably creepy Star Wars-based zombie scenario. Our protagonists are on board a prison ship that comes across a seemingly abandoned Star Destroyer, which has gone adrift thanks to its crew being devastated by the unleashing of a potent virus that, of course, the Empire had been trying to develop as a weapon. A Star Destroyer IS pretty much perfect for a zombie scenario; it’s huge, and there are thousands of crewmembers at your disposal to turn into undead. Since this is Star Wars, you get the added amusement value of non-human zombies–and I must say, zombie Wookiees? Okay yeah. That’s disturbing. So are the moments with the doomed command staff of the Destroyer being discovered barricaded inside one of the shuttles, where they’ve been slowly starving to death.

And to be fair, I did actually like the ending. The Destroyer zombies start exhibiting creepier behavior (I shan’t specify what, because spoilers), and the surviving protagonists (well, aside from the aforementioned two main characters who we knew were going to survive anyway) go out on a respectably gritty note.

I gave this two stars originally, but I’m bumping up to three ’cause yeah, there was some decent creepiness here.

Book Log #7: The Spurned Viscountess, by Shelley Munro

The Spurned Viscountess

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love me some Gothic romance, and Shelley Munro’s The Spurned Viscountess is certainly that, with all the right elements to yoink me right in. We have your innocent young woman with strange abilities. We have your nobleman with a mysterious secret, getting his brood on. We have your string of mysterious accidents. And we have your suitably spooky, remote mansion, chock full of potentially dangerous people. For bonus Get Anna Engaged mileage, we’ve even got a bit of an amnesia plot going on, since our hero has memory issues on top of his angst about the murder of his first love.

The atmosphere worked for me, and I found Munro’s prose solidly executed. I’m partial to healers as characters, which inclined me to like Rosalind as a heroine, though I liked her best when she expressed worry over the fate of her lost maid; she seemed a stronger character there than she did even in her interactions with hero Lucien. The mystery of what happened to Lucien and Rosalind in Europe provided a reasonable backbone for the plot, although it never really gelled for me until the very end.

Overall I liked this one well enough, definitely enough to read it through to the end, even if it never quite managed to be more than the sum of its parts. Three stars.