Lately you may have begun to see a lot of suggestions that SFF book bloggers be considered for Hugo Awards in the categories Best Fanzine and Best Fan Writer. It’s an interesting discussion, and I personally would love to see some of my favorite book bloggers recognized for their hard work in writing about authors and books. At this point, most of my reading recommendations come from the various book bloggers I follow. I don’t know what I ever did without them!

An excellent post on this topic written by Stefan Raets from Far Beyond Reality went up today at Staffer’s Book Review. It discusses both the voting process and why voters should consider recognizing some of their favorite book bloggers in the categories that apply.

As I’ve seen this topic come up, there has been one thing that has sort of bothered me about it. I’ve seen a few lists of book bloggers worthy of nomination, and they are all very heavily dominated by men. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen even one blog run by a woman mentioned. It’s not like I’ve seen a huge number of people post lists of their recommended blogs for Hugo nominations, and all the blogs I’ve seen mentioned are wonderful blogs that are worthy of recognition. However, I find it a worrying trend that just like female authors, female book bloggers are also being overlooked.

I’m wondering if it may partially be because female book bloggers seem to be more eclectic than a lot of male book bloggers. Most of the blogs run by men I read almost exclusively read and review science fiction and fantasy while most of the blogs by women I read review some fantasy and/or science fiction but tend to read and review books in other genres as well. Even if they don’t necessarily review SFF 100% of the time, there are a lot of great blogs run women raising awareness about great science fiction and fantasy authors. I’d love to see some book blogs run by women who read and write great reviews covering a lot of SFF books nominated, such as The Book Smugglers, Calico Reaction, Bookworm Blues, or The Little Red Reviewer.

If you are voting for the Hugos, consider nominating some of your favorite book bloggers. And while I’d certainly urge you to vote your conscience regardless of gender, please do give some thought and consideration to some of the fantastic women contributing to the SFF community!

Discount Armageddon
by Seanan McGuire
368pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 8.5/10
Amazon Rating: 5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.75/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.33/5

Discount Armageddon is the first book in a brand new urban fantasy series called InCryptid by Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of the Toby Daye series. It will be released in both mass market paperback and ebook on March 6. The next book in the series, entitled Midnight Blue-Light Special, is scheduled for release in March 2013.

Discount Armageddon is about Verity Price, ballroom dancer and monster hunter. Dancing has always been Verity’s passion, but monster hunting has been the family trade for a very long time. Verity’s ancestors were members of the Covenant of St. George, an order dedicated to protecting humanity by destroying cryptids. Cryptids range from man-eating dragons to over-enthusiastic but otherwise harmless mice, and Verity’s family is no longer with the Covenant because they began to question whether or not it was really best that all cryptids be destroyed. It seemed to be more detrimental to exterminate some cryptids than it would have been to let them live, and the family decided to go their own way and follow their own rules when it came to dealing with cryptids. For this, they are seen as traitors and must try to remain in hiding from the Covenant as they continue to study cryptids – and keep them in check, at least when they consider it necessary to do so.

Despite her upbringing as a cryptid expert, Verity has always wanted a chance to be a professional ballroom dancer and even moved to New York City to pursue that career. Yet with her own colony of religious mice constantly hailing her as their priestess and steady rumors of monsters disrupting her city, it’s not always easy to dedicate herself to her passion. It’s especially hard once she discovers the unpleasant way – by dangling upside down in a mini skirt in a snare set by him – that a member of the Covenant, Dominic De Luca, is hunting monsters in her city. Verity can’t quite decide whether to be attracted to his good looks and skills with weaponry or be appalled by his righteous attitude and Covenant-held ideas. However, she’s going to have to learn to work with him when they realize cryptids are disappearing and it’s not because of either of them, leading them to believe something far worse than the common cryptid is at work.

Since Toby Daye is one of my favorite urban fantasy series and Seanan McGuire (as Mira Grant) wrote the only piece of zombie fiction I’ve ever actually enjoyed, I was really looking forward to Discount Armageddon. When starting a new series by an author whose other books I’ve enjoyed, I sometimes worry it will either be too much like the earlier books or too wildly different and won’t live up to my expectations. I think Discount Armageddon is just right, though. It manages to have the sense of humor and pacing expected by Toby Daye fans, but the world and characters are different enough that it doesn’t feel like it’s retreading old ground, either. It’s quite a strong start to the series and is much better than the first Toby Daye book. In fact, I think it’s about as good as the later Toby Daye books, and the only reason I don’t quite like it as much as the latter books in that series is that I don’t have the same investment in the characters yet that I do in that series.

There are two things that really make this book great aside from the wonderful sense of humor: the world and the Price family. As evidenced by the numerous pop culture references (and as is often the case with urban fantasy) it could almost be our world. Most of humanity is completely oblivious to the existence of cryptids and the work of the Covenant of St. George in trying to keep them under control. A lot of detail went into the different types of monsters and the various experiences the Price family has had with them. Not all of the cryptids are deadly monsters, though – for example, the Aeslin mice are just very noisy, very devout talking mice that enthusiastically celebrate religious ceremonies for events in the Price family. These observances range from the marriage of the Noisy Priestess to the God of Things That It Is Almost Certainly Better Not To Be Aware Of to the Holy Feast of I Swear, Daddy, I’ll Kiss the Next Man That Walks Through That Door. The Aeslin mice are partially responsible for Verity’s family’s split from the Covenant and its black and white rules regarding the lives of cryptids.

That brings me to the Price family and one of the things I kept thinking as I read this: I want to be Verity Price when I grow up. Here’s why:

1. She’s like a superhero, only better.

Better, only because she is like one but much more plausible. Any skills she has are real skills. She does freerunning on the roofs of New York City and carries knives under her clothes at all times, even if it’s a skimpy ballroom dancing dress she has to have specially made for concealing weapons. She does martial arts and can fight an army of Sleestaks. That’s not to say Verity is invincible by any means, but she certainly is talented.

2. Even with all her fighting prowess, Verity still has to use her brain to survive.

She can certainly hold her own in a fight, but she also has to use her brain and all the knowledge she’s gathered about the different cryptids to survive. Study and research is involved, not just kicking monster butt.

3. Verity doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Whether she’s hanging upside down in a mini-skirt or fighting lizard men in the sewers, she always has a sense of humor.  It also comes through in her narrative voice, which is funny and engaging.

4. Being interesting runs in the family.

If the fact that her mother and grandmother go spelunking in hell didn’t convince me of this, the quotes from the various Price women at the beginning of each chapter would have.

In spite of loving all of the above, the book does have a few flaws. There was a lot of infodumping as Verity filled in pieces of her family history and explained the various monsters. However, it wasn’t really annoying infodumping because, while it may not be the smoothest writing, the history that was filled in was interesting and entertaining. There was some slight cheesiness, but it fit in well with the overall tone of the book (Dave’s Fish and Strips, the name of the strip club where Verity waited tables, is one example that springs to mind). The biggest problem I had with it was that I felt Verity and Dominic were a bit quick to come to the conclusion that they must work together considering they were enemies, but I can’t complain too much since I definitely enjoyed how it all played out (even if it was a bit predictable at times).

Discount Armageddon completely lived up to my expectations for a book written by Seanan McGuire. It is about on par with the later Toby Daye books in terms of enjoyment, even without the satisfaction of spending several books getting to know the characters. It’s entertaining, well-paced, and humorous with a memorable main character – and a memorable family, even though we haven’t really met most of them yet. I think I may have discovered my fourth urban fantasy series that I must keep up with.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the publisher at the request of the author.

Other Reviews:

This was a great week for books – 2 ARCs and 2 finished review copies showed up unexpectedly, including an ARC of one of my very most anticipated books of the year.

On the reviewing front, it was a bit quiet last week because my home was in complete chaos due to the construction of a new bookshelf in the bedroom. Part of my bedroom was in the living room and it was such a mess I found it hard to concentrate on reviewing, especially since I felt like I needed to clean up construction dust every night after getting home from work. Next week should be better, though, since I have a draft of The Spirit Rebellion by Rachel Aaron done and I have a review of Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire in progress.

On to the books!

Bitterblue by Kristin CashoreBitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! It’s Bitterblue! I’ve only been wanting to read this since, oh, about the time I finished Fire (Fire review). Fire was one of my 3 favorite books of 2009, and it was one of the books that convinced me I needed to read more young adult fantasy books at a time when I didn’t really read them (along with Laini Taylor’s Lips Touch: Three Times, which was one of my other 3  favorite books that year).

I’ve already featured this in a books of 2012 post, so I thought about leaving it out of here and linking to that since I’ve already talked about it. Since there is some new information I’ve found since then, I decided to include it, though. There is a new blurb that has actual information instead of the generic one I found when I wrote that, and I saw this week that there is an excerpt containing the prologue and chapter one. I just love the first line in chapter one:


Queen Bitterblue never meant to tell so many people so many lies.

It’s a great line to hook readers since it makes me want to know exactly who she’s been lying to, what about, and why. I am reading this very soon.

Bitterblue will be released on May 1 in both hardcover and ebook. It’s a sequel to Graceling with Bitterblue as the main character instead of Katsa (Graceling review).

The long-awaited companion to New York Times bestsellers Graceling and Fire

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle–disguised and alone–to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart..

The Troupe by Robert Jackson BennettThe Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett

This is a stand alone novel that came out the end of last month. Robert Jackson Bennett is also the author of The Company Man, nominated for both the 2012 Edgar and Philip K. Dick Awards, and Mr. Shivers, winner of the 2011 Shirley Jackson Award. It was released in trade paperback and ebook. An excerpt from The Troupe is available, and there is an official website for The Troupe.

I have been hearing great things about this book, and after reading the description and the first couple of pages I’m really interested in reading it!

Vaudeville: mad, mercenary, dreamy, and absurd, a world of clashing cultures and ferocious showmanship and wickedly delightful deceptions.

But sixteen-year-old pianist George Carole has joined vaudeville for one reason only: to find the man he suspects to be his father, the great Heironomo Silenus. Yet as he chases down his father’s troupe, he begins to understand that their performances are strange even for vaudeville: for wherever they happen to tour, the very nature of the world seems to change.

Because there is a secret within Silenus’s show so ancient and dangerous that it has won him many powerful enemies. And it’s not until after he joins them that George realizes the troupe is not simply touring: they are running for their lives.

And soon…he is as well. 

Soulbound by Heather BrewerSoulbound by Heather Brewer

This is the first book in a young adult fantasy series, Legacy of Tril. It will be released as both a hardcover book and an ebook in July. In February, Heather Brewer said on her blog that she will be posting a first chapter and she also wrote a little bit about the book there.

I’m a little confused by the chain mail veil on the cover, but this is a book I may try reading. It sounds like it could be interesting, and I’m always happy to see a young adult book come in the mail that is epic fantasy instead of paranormal (since it seems most of them are the latter and I’m much more interested in reading epic fantasy).

A brand-new fantasy with a kick-butt heroine from the author of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

Tril is a world where Barrons and Healers are Bound to each other: Barrons fight and Healers cure their Barrons’ wounds in the ongoing war with the evil Graplar King. Seventeen-year-old Kaya was born a Healer, but she wants to fight. In Tril, and at Shadow Academy, where she is sent to learn to heal, it is against Protocol for Healers to fight. So Kaya must learn in secret. Enter two young men: One charming, rule-following Barron who becomes Bound to Kaya and whose life she must protect at all costs. And one with a mysterious past who seems bent on making Kaya’s life as difficult as possible. Kaya asks both to train her, but only one will, and the consequences will change their lives forever.

Heather Brewer has created a thrilling, action-packed, and romantic first installment of the Legacy of Tril series, where one strong heroine must break the rules to claim her destiny and her heart.

The Isis Collar by Cat Adams
The Isis Collar by Cat Adams (aka C. T. Adams and Cathy Clamp)

This is the fourth book in the Blood Singer series, following Blood Song, Siren Song, and Demon Song. I haven’t read any of the books in the series, but there are some descriptions and excerpts from the first three books on the authors’ site if you are interested in learning more. An excerpt from The Isis Collar is also available if this is a series you follow.

The Isis Collar will be available in trade paperback and ebook on March 13, 2012.

Celia Graves was once an ordinary human, but those days are long gone. Now she strives to maintain her sanity and her soul while juggling both vampire abilities and the powers of a Siren.

Warned of a magical “bomb” at a local elementary school, Celia forces an evacuation. Oddly, the explosion seems to have no effect, puzzling both Celia and the FBI. Two weeks later, a strangely persistent bruise on Celia’s leg turns out to be the first sign of a magical zombie plague.

Finding the source of the plague isn’t Celia’s only concern. Her alcoholic mother has broken out of prison on the Sirens’ island; her little sister’s ghost has possessed a young girl; and one of Celia’s boyfriends, a powerful mage, has disappeared.

Instead of writing one huge post of all the books I’m looking forward to in 2012 with info on them, I had decided to highlight some of these books in their own posts throughout the rest of 2011. I’ve decided to carry this feature forward into this year as I discover new books coming out this year that sound interesting and continue with books of 2013 as it gets closer to the end of the year.

Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

Glamour in Glass is the sequel to Mary Robinette Kowal’s Nebula nominated debut novel, Shades of Milk and Honey. It will be released on April 10 in hardcover and ebook formats. An excerpt from Glamour in Glass is available on (please note this page does contain spoilers for the first book).

I’m really curious to see what happens to Jane next after the end of Shades of Milk and Honey (review).  Also, I was delighted to see Mary Robinette Kowal described the sequel as “a little more swashbuckling than the first book” on her FAQs page.

Beware, the following description does contain spoilers for the outcome of the romance in Shades of Milk and Honey!

About Glamour in Glass:

Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey, a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel. Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.

In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon…to escaping it.

Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison . . . and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country’s war.

Other Books of 2012:

This week I got two cheap bargain books off Amazon. One’s for me and one is for my husband. As of when I’m writing this, there are still a few copies available as bargain books.

The Soul Mirror by Carol BergThe Soul Mirror by Carol Berg

This is the second book in Carol Berg’s latest trilogy, Collegia Magica. The first book is The Spirit Lens, and the third book entitled The Daemon Prism just came out last month.

In spite of having bought it right when it came out, I haven’t yet read the first book in this series. However, Carol Berg is one of my favorite authors and I have such confidence that I’ll like this series that I got the second book anyway when I saw it was about $6 (especially since I was concerned that the trade paperback may not be available by the time I was ready for it and that I might end up with – horror of  horrors – MISMATCHED BOOKS IN A SERIES).

If you haven’t read anything by Carol Berg, I highly recommend her books and think she is an author who deserves to be talked about a lot more than she is. Her Rai-kirah series starting with Transformation is one of my favorite books ever. I also really enjoyed Song of the Beast and loved her Lighthouse duology. Unfortunately, I read most of those before I started a blog and don’t have reviews, but I did review the Lighthouse duology (Flesh and Spirit – #1 | Breath and Bone – #2).

Since I haven’t read book 1, I’m not sure just how spoiler-filled the plot description below for this one is to those who haven’t read the first book. I just skimmed it myself since I’m sure I will have forgotten any important details by the time I read the first book.

By order of His Royal Majesty Philippe de Savin-Journia y Sabria, Anne de Vernase is hereby summoned to attend His Majesty’s Court at Merona…

Anne de Vernase rejoices that she has no talent for magic. Her father’s pursuit of depraved sorcery has left her family in ruins, and he remains at large, convicted of treason and murder by Anne’s own testimony. Now, the tutors at Collegia Seravain inform her that her gifted younger sister has died in a magical accident. It seems but life’s final mockery that cool, distant Portier de Savin-Duplais, the librarian turned royal prosecutor, arrives with the news that the king intends to barter her hand in marriage.

Anne recognizes that the summoning carries implications far beyond a bleak personal future – and they are all about magic. Merona, the royal city, is beset by plagues of rats and birds, and mysterious sinkholes that swallow light and collapse buildings. Whispers of hauntings and illicit necromancy swirl about the queen’s volatile sorcerer. And a murder in the queen’s inner circle convinces Anne that her sister’s death was no accident. With no one to trust but a friend she cannot see, Anne takes up her sister’s magical puzzle, plunging into the midst of a centuries-old rivalry and coming face-to-face with the most dangerous sorcerer in Sabria. His name is Dante.

True Names by Vernor VingeTrue Names and the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier by Vernor Vinge/edited by James Frenkel

This includes a reprint of Vernor Vinge’s story “True Names,” first published in 1981.  The story is about 100 pages long and the rest of the book contains essays about the Internet.

My husband is a huge fan of Vernor Vinge’s (and has reviewed many of his books here) so when I saw this existed and was available around $6 I asked him if he wanted it. Of course, he said yes and that gave me a good excuse he couldn’t complain too much about reason to get Soul Mirror.

Once in a great while a science fiction story is so visionary, yet so close to impending scientific developments that it becomes not only an accurate predictor, but itself the locus for new discoveries and development. True Names by Vernor Vinge, first published in 1981, is such a work.

Here is a feast of articles by computer scientists and journalists on the cutting edge of the field, writing about innovations and developments of the Internet, including, among others:

Danny Hillis: Founder of thinking machines and the first Disney Fellow.

Timothy C. May: former chief scientist at Intel–a major insider in the field of computers and technology.

Marvin Minsky: Cofounder of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab.

Chip Morningstar and F. Randall Farmer: Codevelopers of habitat, the first real computer interactive environment.

Mark Pesce: Cocreator of VRML and the author of the Playful World: How Technology Transforms Our Imagination.

Richard M. Stallman: Research affiliate with MIT; the founder of the Free Software Movement.


Yesterday Elizabeth Bear announced that Promethean Age novel #5 will be published. One-Eyed Jack and the Suicide King will most likely be released next year! Although it is book 5 in publication order, it is a stand alone novel with part of it taking place long before Blood and Iron and Whiskey and Water and part of it taking place between these two books.

After the first four Promethean Age novels came out, there was a long period of time when Elizabeth Bear wasn’t sure if any of the rest would be published, which made me terribly sad because I really enjoyed the first four and wanted to read more stories set in this world. When I interviewed Elizabeth Bear last year, I asked her about them both because I was hoping maybe there was news about them and because I was curious about the series as a whole and its vast scope, taking place in different locations and different time periods. At the time, they were without a publisher, but she had mentioned that book #5 was written but without a publisher and briefly described it:


It’s set in Las Vegas, and has a lot of focus on our modern myths and stories.

That little bit made me desperately want to read it!

Blood and Iron, the first published Promethean Age book, was actually my introduction to Elizabeth Bear’s writing and it’s a special book to me for that reason. Plus I enjoyed it immensely for its gorgeous prose, gray characters, mythology, and subtlety. I am so glad a new book will be released in this setting.

In case you’re unfamiliar with but curious about the Promethean Age books, here are my reviews of the books released so far:

  • Blood and Iron (#1 in publication order)
  • Whiskey and Water (#2 in publication order and a direct sequel to the first book)
  • The Stratford Man (#3 and #4 in publication order but can be read without reading Blood and Iron/Whiskey and Water first)