Random Thoughts

This is one of those instances where I’ve been busier behind-the-scenes than up front and center on the blog. As you can see, the logos are done, are in place, and the rest of the site changed to match. Anne had a great idea of having a lighter color on one of the sidebars. I’m thinking about washing out the gold color and making the inner sidebar a pale gold. Now I have to figure out how to wash out colors. Were I using paint, I would add white. Not sure how to do that with Paint.Net.

I finished Joely Sue Burkhart‘s Survive My Fire. I’ll try to post the review by Tuesday. It will be my first-ever ebook review! I read Survive My Fire as a test read on my iPod touch. I thought of this book because Joely has been a longterm friend and supporter of this blog. It’s hard to pin down why I didn’t care for reading on the iPod. The text was clear and crisp. Scrolling was intuitive. The Stanza software was very easy to use, with a crisp typeface. But I still found it slightly uncomfortable.

So for now, I’m still not reading e-books, except for special circumstances that I will initiate.

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I’ve been having a conversational interview with Sonya Bateman, the author of the upcoming Master of None. I call it — somewhat redundantly — a conversational interview because I’m conducting it as a back-and-forth with the author, rather than emailing a list of questions and then making the poor author tackle them all at once. It’s easier on me, too, which is another perk. And I’m hoping it will be funner to read.

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I need to email a certain author to invite him to a Writer Wednesday. I meant to do that this weekend, and I remembered just now. This is why these weekly posts are a good thing — they remind me to do things. So I’m going to try to get that going.

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Books I’m reading:

The River King’s Road by Liane Merciel. This is an epic fantasy by a female author! And it’s not a young-boy-comes-of-age novel! The only underage characters are two infants and an almost-man who’s quite the villain. And guess what — you’re going to love this — one of the main characters is a young mother! Nursing two babies — her baby and a little baby who needs her! A baby who is also the heir to a stolen kingdom! And that kingdom is enemy of the mother’s kingdom!

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni. This is my first foray into supernatural thrillers. Normally, I would avoid a book about angels or demons like the plague, but this looked very well-researched and quite promising. I haven’t actually started it yet, but I need to read it right on the heels of The River King’s Road because the last time I checked, they both come out on the same day.

You can tell this book is a different genre by the presentation of the book, itself. Fantasies and science fiction usually have the pages cut smooth, but these are ragged. The color scheme isn’t in keeping with fantasies, either. The review copy came with a handy insert called, “A Field Guide to Angelology”. It defines terms such as angelology, and has the key players and important places. Nice touch. Normally, book swag like this goes on my wall, but this will stay with the book until I read it. Then, I’ll have to make room on my wall because it’s a full page.

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I’m still thinking about going to the Book Blogger Convention. My husband and I are talking about going together and taking the train up to see something other than I-95 on the way. The con is the reason I designed some logos for this site at last. At a con, you need business cards. I was trying to design some business cards when I realized that I needed a logo on it. Therefore, my site now has a logo. Even if I don’t go to the con, this blog will have benefited in this small way. And, when my blog comes up in conversations, I’ll have cards to hand out.

And I guess that’s all for now. See ya ’round the comments!

Finished Tinkering

I finally finished tinkering with my layout. As I mentioned in the comments of the post below, I had to turn the header image-handling off in this theme and use a plug-in called Dynamic Headers in order to make it look close to the way I envisioned. I also incorporated my color scheme throughout, but I tried not to overwhelm the site with brown and gold. I allowed gray to be a neutral color to give it some balance.

I am going to incorporate the image in the header with a larger design, but I think this is enough for now.

My main area of concern is the sidebars. I’m afraid there’s too much brown there. I tried both black and gold for the widget headers, but neither looked good. Ideas?

Review: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters


Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

by Ben H. Winters
Quirk Books
Trade Paperback – $12.95
Author Article – “How I Wrote Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Reviewed by Superwench83

“The family of Dashwood had been settled in Sussex since before the Alteration, when the waters of the world grew cold and hateful to the sons of man, and darkness moved on the face of the deep.” So begins Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters, and a fine beginning it is—setting us up for a mannerly, man-eating tale full of wit and wonder.

When their father is eaten by a hammerhead shark, the Dashwood sisters and their mother are forced to leave their home behind, for it is their brother’s inheritance. In a world where the ocean has crept inland and even the gentlest sea creatures have acquired a taste for human flesh, a home with proper defenses round the perimeter is a must. The Dashwoods’ new home on Pestilent Isle has such defenses, but it is a strange place, and becoming stranger still. Nonetheless, it is a home, and they are pleased to have it. Now the sisters only need suitors who can protect them from giant octopi and devil-dolphins. In their world, such a man is one to swoon over.

If you think it sounds absurd to mash a Jane Austen novel up with a nautical horror tale, you’re right. It’s absurd. And brilliant. Far from ruining Austen’s clever prose, the startling contrast of manners and monsters makes her social commentary even more biting. I have so many favorite lines from the book that I can’t even begin to quote them all.

The book’s basic plot is the same as in Sense and Sensibility: It is about the Dashwood sisters’ trials in love. But there is much more, just as the original is more than a romance. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters has an amusing yet disturbing undercurrent, blending delightful wit and a feeling of unease about what darkness lies beneath the surface. While the casual mentions of “the giant tuna that had lately tried to consume her mother” or “taking appropriate enjoyment in every opportunity to dine upon the hated foe” are humorous, there is also a strong sense that terrors unknown are just around the bend.

Only Margaret senses the deeply unsettling air of Pestilent Isle. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters expands this youngest Dashwood sister’s role, which I enjoyed because Margaret seems like almost an afterthought in the original story. Marianne is too absorbed with herself and Willoughby to notice anything amiss, but Elinor’s strange visions of a five-pointed star add to the unease. These flashes of foreboding lend Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters a very different kind of suspense than what the original story had.

Yet despite all the gloom, there is a sense of wonder in this book. Best of all is Sub-Marine Station Beta, an undersea city where the streets are canals and tamed sea creatures replace gondolas as the usual transportation. Beneath this dome of glass, residents must wear Float-Suits at all times. These suits act as breathing and floatation devices in case of emergency. This city is accessible only by submarine, but it is worth the trip, for Sub-Marine Station Beta is home to a host of sights, such as museums and the famed Kensington Undersea Gardens. Such inclusions almost lend Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters the feel of a steampunk novel.

The only issue I had was that some of the added storylines weren’t resolved as adequately as I would have liked. There was never a clear answer as to what caused the Alteration, and I felt that this was the one explanation that needed to be given. The focus of this book is Austen’s original story with some new settings and twists, and I understand that a long passage devoted to the Alteration’s origins might have taken away from that. But I still feel that there should have been more closure on some of the added fantasy elements.

If you’re not familiar with Sense and Sensibility, you can certainly enjoy Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and you probably will if you enjoy both classic literature and fantasy. But Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is definitely an experience which is best appreciated if you’re familiar with the original work. It is amazing how well the new bits of text blend with the old, and you’ll only be able to enjoy that if you know Sense and Sensibility. Ben Winter’s writing masterfully captures Austen’s own style so that his additions fit into the original text almost seamlessly. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters has all of that Austen charm, but is a venture into uncharted literary seas.

Debut Review – The Manual of Detection


The Manual of Detection
by Jedediah Berry (blog)
Penguin
Hardcover and Trade Paperback

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berrywill probably end up in my year end “Best Of” list. It was just about perfectly conceived, perfectly executed, perfectly written, and perfectly charming. I’m hard pressed to think of any critiques. It’s that good.

With that said, it’s not for everyone. This review copy originally went to Raven, who thought it was good but perhaps she wasn’t the right reviewer for it. So she sent it to me. And by sheer luck, I read it just shy of a month after the paperback release date.

The Manual of Detection is a very quirky, well-mannered steampunk fantasy mystery. It is somewhat literary, but never boring. It’s the story of Charles Unwin, clerk of a huge detective agency, who is unexpectedly promoted to Detective shortly after the disappearance of the most famous Agency detective, Travis Sivart.

Mr. Unwin is a man who knows his limitations. He knows that he has no business being a detective. After all, he wears a green trilby hat rather than a fedora, and his shoes always squeak. So his goal is to find Detective Sivart so he can get his old job back.

Permit me to rave about the presentation of the hardcover edition. It’s designed to look like a manual. It has a government-issue green cover, with black embellishments, within which alarm clocks, fingerprints, keys and footprints can be found. It also has a prominent eye. The eye is on the back as well, along with the motto, “Never Sleeping”. It’s a treat, mostly because everything on the cover becomes significant as the story unfolds.

The chapters are each accompanied by a quote from the fictional Manual of Detection. Each quote applies to something that’s going to happen in that chapter. One of these chapters becomes part of the story, and when I read that chapter number, I had to laugh out loud.

The Manual of Detection is a novel of typewriters, if immense filing cabinets, of umbrellas, of alarm clocks, of dumbwaiters, of bicycles, of telephones and of record players. It’s also a novel of steam trucks, of dream recording engines, of ever-winding watches, of traveling carnivals that travel no more, and of unofficial trips for unofficial reasons. No year is given, but I’d guess it takes place in the thirties or forties. There are telephones, electricity, radios, and cars, but no hint of anything like computers, which might have existed in a huge detective agency by the fifties.

Although the novel is told strictly from Charles Unwin’s point-of-view, you never know exactly what he is thinking until he speaks, or what he’s going to do until he’s already doing it. He’s both fussy and bold. When he sneaks into the archives, he gets caught, but then manages to get the archivists to trust him. All three of them. And he’s completely sincere when he is doing it–he takes advantage of no one. He’s an expert clerk, bicyclist, and umbrella wielder. And, he’s a meticulous dreamer.

The only thing I would have wished for was more of the detective agency in its “before” state. Because once it goes “after”, there’s no going back. However, I understand that to include any more might have bogged down the story.

If you read this novel, my advice is to pay attention. Try to read it over a short timespan and pay particular attention to characters who seem to talk about irrelevant things. All is relevant. This will be a wonderful book to reread.

Mr. Barry has achieved critical acclaim with The Manual of Detection, and it is well-deserved. I can’t wait to read his next book.

Debuts & Reviews Logos

I designed some logos and I wondered what you guys thought. I wanted two logos — one with just initials, and a logo with the site name spelled out. So I came up with this design set:

This would be in the header, probably shrunk up so it isn’t so tall.

This goes in the sidebar.

Please note: these images have no borders. WordPress helpfully (or unhelpfully) puts a border around all my images, and I’ve never bothered to figure out how to get it to stop.

The intertwined D & R gave me a lot of trouble because I couldn’t get over the fact that it looked like the abbreviation for Doctor. I tried to get around that by including the ampersand.

Right away, I can tell that I need to outline the gold letters in slightly darker pixels, because they look blurry. I picked these colors because I thought they’d go well with book covers.

Any other suggestions?

Review: The Swordbearer by Glen Cook


The Swordbearer

by Glen Cook (Wiki)
Night Shade Books
Trade Paperback – $14.95

Genre: High Fantasy

Publisher’s Blurb:
A young man’s dreams of warfare and glory turn into a bitter nightmare when an invading army, led by the Dark Champion Nevenka Nieroda and his twelve Dead Captains, the Toal, besieges his father’s feudal fortress. Nieroda and the Toal demand the surrender of an ancient artifact long-believed to be a myth. With the walls breached and his family slaughtered–or worse–Gathrid flees into the wilderness beyond his familiar castle walls.

Lost and alone in the woods, hounded by the Dead Captains, Gathrid takes refuge in a vast cavern. There he discovers an ancient sword–Daubendiek, the Great Sword of Suchara, the fabled weapon once wielded by the legendary tragic hero of an ancient age, Tureck Aarant. Daubendiek, a restless and thirsty blade, promises Gathrid the ability to claim his vengeance. But as he begins to take that vengeance, Gathrid starts to understand the terrible price that the sword will exact of him. Enemies soon become allies and strange bedfellows abound as the prophesies of an age swirl into chaos.

Reviewed by Superwench83

Afflicted by polio at a young age, Gathrid has never been allowed to play the hero. While his brothers train with weapons and prepare for the glories their prowess will bring, Gathrid watches, and dreams of things that can never be. But when tragedy strikes, destiny calls…in the form of a sentient sword which makes Gathrid its Swordbearer.

Glen Cook’s novel The Swordbearer doesn’t break new ground. It features a magic sword, a dark lord, and a boy thirsty for adventure. But to be fair, these now-cliché elements weren’t so overused when The Sowrdbearer was first published in 1982. Though re-released just last year, this is an early novel from a very respected author known for his gritty high fantasy books. And anyhow, the familiar territory alone shouldn’t deter you. In the hands of a master storyteller, such a tale can be gripping no matter how many times you’ve seen those tropes.

However…

I’ve been a Glen Cook fan ever since my husband introduced me to his Black Company books. And I’ll admit to feeling a bit of déjà vu while reading The Swordbearer. Some of the concepts and twists have strong glimmerings of the Black Company books. Especially regarding the super-magical bad guys and their bickering. It was like meeting the Lady, the Limper, and Soulcatcher all over again. The characterization, though, was very different. The characters in the Black Company books were vivid. The ones in The Swordbearer were flat. Cook writes action and battle and adventure that make you breathless, but what does that matter when you’re not passionate about the characters? It’s mystifying because in his other novels, his characters are deep and living. I think he hadn’t really come into his own as an author yet when he wrote this one. The makings of a great author were there, but he hadn’t developed that skill with creating unforgettable characters yet.

But the signs of what a master storyteller Glen Cook would become are apparent in this novel. Yes, the characterization issues make the book forgettable in the end, but it’s hard to put down nonetheless. You’re in the moment as you read. The action and magic—some of which was explained inadequately, I admit—propel you through the book, compel you to keep reading. Gathrid, while not vivid, is still sympathetic, and you want to see him find a measure of peace.

Ultimately, I felt like this book had great potential, potential which is fulfilled in the Black Company books. (Though I wouldn’t mind seeing The Swordbearer rewritten with more attention to characterization.) If you want to read a Glen Cook novel for the first time, I’d definitely recommend The Black Company. But unless you’re already a Glen Cook fan who’s curious about his other works, I would leave The Swordbearer be.

Debut Showcase – Feburary 16, 1020

I did a little experiment on you guys. I posted the last Showcase without any of my usual impressions after each book. Superwench was the only one who commented. Therefore, this time, I added my comments and left off the images. Something has to go; these posts take hours to assemble as it is. And since we bloggers live for comments — they feed our blogging energies — I’ve dropped the images. I figure a post with just images and blurbs would be boring, anyway.

Also, in most cases, the author’s website had sufficient information, in my opinion, to inform your buying decision. In areas where the information was insufficient, I included a link to the publisher’s buy page.

Some additional catalogs became available on Edelweiss, so this is a bit of a catch-up post. I’ve also included everything from my Debut Calendar up to today.

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Alcestis
by Katharine Beutner

In Greek mythology, Alcestis is known as the good wife; she loved her husband so much that she died to save his life and was sent to the underworld in his place. In this poetic and vividly imagined debut, Katharine Beutner gives voice to the woman behind the ideal, bringing to life the world of Mycenaean Greece, a world peopled by capricious gods, where royal women are confined to the palace grounds and passed as possessions from father to husband.

Alcestis tells of a childhood spent with her sisters in the bedchamber where her mother died giving birth to her and of her marriage at the age of fifteen to Admetus, the young king of Pherae, a man she barely knows, who is kind but whose heart belongs to a god. She also tells the part of the story that’s never been told: What happened to Alcestis in the three days she spent in the underworld before being rescued by Heracles? In the realm of the dead, Alcestis falls in love with the goddess Persephone and discovers the true horror and beauty of death.

A lot here appeals to me. The ancient-world setting, the retelling of a myth. Kelly reviewed it over at Fantasy Literature, and she thinks those who liked Black Ships might like this one.

Spellwright
by Blake Charlton

Hat Tip: A Dribble of Ink (links to review)

Imagine a world in which you could peel written words off a page and make them physically real. You might pick your teeth with a sentence fragment, protect yourself with defensive paragraphs, or thrust a sharply-worded sentence at an enemy’s throat.

Such a world is home to Nicodemus Weal, an apprentice at the wizardly academy of Starhaven. Because of how fast he can forge the magical runes that create spells, Nicodemus was thought to be the Halcyon, a powerful spellwright prophesied to prevent an event called the War of Disjunction, which would destroy all human language. There was only one problem: Nicodemus couldn’t spell.

Runes must be placed in the correct order to create a spell. Deviation results in a “misspell”—a flawed text that behaves in an erratic, sometimes lethal, manner. And Nicodemus has a disability, called cacography, that causes him to misspell texts simply by touching them.

Now twenty-five, Nicodemus lives in the aftermath of failing to fulfill prophecy. He finds solace only in reading knightly romances and in the teachings of Magister Shannon, an old blind wizard who’s left academic politics to care for Starhaven’s disabled students.

But when a powerful wizard is murdered with a misspell, Shannon and Nicodemus becomes the primary suspects. Proving their innocence becomes harder when the murderer begins killing male cacographers one by one…and all evidence suggests that Nicodemus will be next. Hunted by both investigators and a hidden killer, Shannon and Nicodemus must race to discover the truth about the murders, the nature of magic, and themselves.

Ok, this one looks very interesting, even though I had a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of spelling-based magic. The invented magical disability looks especially intriguing.

Lake Magic
by Kimberly Fisk
Berkley
Paperback – $7.99
Contemporary Romance

After the sudden loss of her fiancé, Steven, Jenny Beckinsale has more than a broken heart to deal with—she’s also facing too many financial surprises over Blue Sky, the fledgling seaplane service she and Steven built. Too late she’s discovered Steven was in over his head, and deeply in debt to his best friend and fellow Navy pilot Jared Worth. The sexy, cynical Top Gun demands his money back now. He doesn’t care what will happen to Jenny or her small town dreams of success.

But Jenny has a few surprises of her own, including a way out of her predicament—she’ll force this steel-eyed flyboy into service for Blue Sky. It’s the only way Jared will ever see a dime. But as the summer fades, these two lost souls will discover they’re saving more than a business…they’re saving each other.

Ooh. A Top Gun? This one might tempt me into reading a romance. The author posted an excerpt on her website, and it looks so fun.

Roses
by Leila Meacham
Grand Central Publishing
Hardback – $24.99
Literary Fiction

Spanning the 20th century, the story of Roses takes place in a small East Texas town against the backdrop of the powerful timber and cotton industries, industries controlled by the scions of the town’s founding families. Cotton tycoon Mary Toliver and timber magnate Percy Warwick should have married but unwisely did not, and now must deal with the deceit, secrets, and tragedies of their choice and the loss of what might have been–not just for themselves but for their children, and children’s children. With expert, unabashed, big-canvas storytelling, Roses covers a hundred years, three generations of Texans and the explosive combination of passion for work and longing for love.

The author has no website. 🙁 However, she has written an article that is on her publisher’s website about her experience of being first published at age 69.

Damaged
by Kia DuPree
Grand Central Publishing
Paperback – $13.99
Fiction

Camille Logan feels trapped. After she is sexually and emotionally abused by her foster parents, she turns to the one person she knows she can trust–her boyfriend Chu, a mid-level drug dealer. But when life finally starts looking up for Camille, Chu is brutally murdered. Again feeling abandoned and helpless, and refusing to return to the system, Camille finds herself living with a stable of women in a tiny run-down apartment building in Washington, D.C., working for Nut, a deranged pimp. Fed up with her life, Camille is forced to right her wrongs, and slowly learns that her past does not necessarily determine her future.

This novel looks awfully intense. I like the part about her righting her wrongs, and I’m intrigued by how she is going to escape the pimp.

Mr. Shivers
by Robert Jackson Bennett (blog)
Orbit
Hardback – $19.99
Historical Fiction

It is the time of the Great Depression.

Thousands have left their homes looking for a better life, a new life. But Marcus Connelly is not one of them. He searches for one thing, and one thing only. Revenge.

Because out there, riding the rails, stalking the camps, is the scarred vagrant who murdered Connelly’s daughter. No one knows him, but everyone knows his name: Mr. Shivers.

In this extraordinary debut, Robert Jackson Bennett tells the story of an America haunted by murder and desperation. A world in which one man must face a dark truth and answer the question-how much is he willing to sacrifice for his satisfaction?

I find myself wanting a more fleshed-out blurb. This is classified as a historical novel, but the title and blurb reads more like horror. On his blog, the author calls it a “horror-ish, literary-ish novel”.

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
by Tiffany Baker
Grand Central Publishing
Trade Paperback – $13.99
General Fiction

When Truly Plaice’s mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how recordbreakingly huge the baby boy would ultimately be. The girl who proved to be Truly paid the price of her enormity; her father blamed her for her mother’s death in childbirth, and was totally ill equipped to raise either this giant child or her polar opposite sister Serena Jane, the epitome of femine perfection. When he, too, relinquished his increasingly tenuous grip on life, Truly and Serena Jane are separated–Serena Jane to live a life of privilege as the future May Queen and Truly to live on the outskirts of town on the farm of the town sadsack, the subject of constant abuse and humiliation at the hands of her peers.

Serena Jane’s beauty proves to be her greatest blessing and her biggest curse, for it makes her the obsession of classmate Bob Bob Morgan, the youngest in a line of Robert Morgans who have been doctors in Aberdeen for generations. Though they have long been the pillars of the community, the earliest Robert Morgan married the town witch, Tabitha Dyerson, and the location of her fabled shadow book–containing mysterious secrets for healing and darker powers–has been the subject of town gossip ever since. Bob Bob Morgan, one of Truly’s biggest tormentors, does the unthinkable to claim the prize of Serena Jane, and changes the destiny of all Aberdeen from there on.

When Serena Jane flees town and a loveless marriage to Bob Bob, it is Truly who must become the woman of a house that she did not choose and mother to her eight-year-old nephew Bobbie. Truly’s brother-in-law is relentless and brutal; he criticizes her physique and the limitations of her health as a result, and degrades her more than any one human could bear. It is only when Truly finds her calling–the ability to heal illness with herbs and naturopathic techniques–hidden within the folds of Robert Morgan’s family quilt, that she begins to regain control over her life and herself. Unearthed family secrets, however, will lead to the kind of betrayal that eventually break the Morgan family apart forever, but Truly’s reckoning with her own demons allows for both an uprooting of Aberdeen County, and the possibility of love in unexpected places.

This novel appeals to the writer in me, because I have written a novel about a giantesque woman as well. The blurb — which is rather long — makes the novel sound a bit otherworldly, almost a fantasy, but not quite. This novel has already hit the NYTimes bestseller list.

The Book of Fires: A Novel
by Jane Borodale
Viking Books
Hardback – $26.95
Literary Fiction

1752. As winter approaches, two guilty secrets drive seventeen-year-old Agnes Trussel to run away from her home in rural Sussex. Pregnant with an unwanted child and carrying stolen coins, she is shocked by the squalor and poverty of London.

She finds work as an assistant to John Blacklock, a dark, laconic firework-maker. As her weaver’s fingers learn to make rockets, portfires, stars, fiery rain, she becomes intrigued by the glitter and roar of fireworks.

Soon she meets Cornelius Soul, seller of gunpowder, and hatches a plan which could save her. But why does Blacklock so vehemently disapprove of Mr Soul? And what is Blacklock hiding from her? Could he be on the brink of a discovery that will change pyrotechny forever?

Meanwhile, her own secret is becoming harder to conceal, especially from the suspicious eye of Mrs Blight, the housekeeper with a thirst for hangings. Caught between her crime and her condition it appears that ruin must be inevitable…

I’ve only been announcing debuts outside of the fantasy and science fiction genres for a while, but already I’m seeing that a pregnant heroine as a recurring theme. I wish I understood why Mrs. Blight’s thirst for hangings was a factor, and what Agnes’s crime is. Does she face a hanging for being pregnant out of wedlock?

The Bird Room: A Novel
by Chris Killen
Harper Perennial
Paperback  – $13.99
Literary Fiction

Painfully average and introverted Will finally has a bird. Her name is Alice. She’s smart, sexy, and much to Will’s surprise, she is in love with him. But the course of love never did run smooth, and soon devotion—and its uglier manifestations—lead Will to a dark place within himself.

Elsewhere in the city, Helen is an actress—or she will be some day. For now, she finds work as a “model”—or whatever her online acquaintances need her to be. Her real name is Clair, but she desperately wants to be someone new, someone glamorous and real—someone worth something.

A love story with a twist, this exuberant and funny debut novel brings Will and Helen’s lives together in a tale as tight as a rope and as black as tar. Sharp, playful, and brimming over with wicked comedy, The Bird Room heralds the arrival of a major new literary talent.

The author’s experimental website didn’t have the usual information, so I linked the title to the publisher’s page for this novel. Not sure what to think here — again, I find myself wanting a longer blurb.

Congratulations to all these debut authors!

What I'm Reading

Since nothing’s ready for review, I thought I’d put up a post about what I’m reading now, and have read recently, and what I have going on behind the scenes. I find it helpful to do these kinds of posts every once in a while — it helps keep me organized.

I finished Sonya Bateman‘s Master of None, but it doesn’t come out until the end of March, so I’m going to sit on that review for a while. I’ve been in touch with the author and she’s agreed to a rather nonstandard interview, which I hope will be a lot of fun to read.

I’m halfway through The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry. I’m loving it. It just came out in paperback a few weeks ago, so the timing of my reading is better than I thought it would be. I’ve been tweeting on it, but I haven’t put up any tweets in a few days. Look for hashtag #manualofdetection. I’m due a tweet so I’ll do that today.

I’ve also started The King’s River Road by Liane Merciel. It leaps right into the action, and it looks promising, especially since a young mother is involved, and gets to be heroic in a way that only mothers can be.  Shadow Blade, by Seressia Glass, looks promising as well. It puts fallen angels squarely in the enemy camp, where I personally think they belong — but what about this 4000 year old Nubian warrior? The opening chapters are very engaging. This novel is currently available.

Because all this stuff is pending, this blog is somewhat lacking in actual content at the moment — but never fear! Superwench83 has jumped up to the plate with a review of an oldie, which I have scheduled for Thursday. Plus I have a whopper of a Debut Showcase going up on Tusday. What about Monday and Wednesday? You never know! I’ve got a movie review kicking around in my mind. . . .