I hope everyone who celebrated had a good holiday!  Due to Christmas this week’s leaning pile of books post is pretty long – I got a few signed books and some books off my wish list.  Often I include books my husband gets since there’s potential I’ll read them, especially if he says they are good, but this took me forever to put together so I’m just going to list them at the end.

In other news I’m on vacation this week so I’m hoping to get lots of reading done (at least if I don’t get caught up in playing Dragon Age which I also got for Christmas) and get started on some of those “end of the year” posts.  I’ll wait until I’ve read everything I’m going to read for the year before posting about favorites but might as well get them started since they’re not likely to change more than a little!  Maybe I’ll even be able to coerce my husband into writing a post now that he’s out of school for a couple of weeks.

Ash: A Secret HistoryAsh: A Secret History by Mary Gentle

This has been on my wish list for a very long time because I’ve heard a lot about how good it is.  Unfortunately, it’s also very hard to find (at least in the United States).  This year my husband got me a copy from England, though, and I was thrilled to open it.  Now to find the time to read such a massive book…  Between the page count and the size of the print, I have a feeling this one will take quite a while to read.

For the beautiful young woman Ash, life has always been arquebuses and artillery, swords and armour and the true horrors of hand-to-hand combat. War is her job. She has fought her way to the command of a mercenary company, and on her unlikely shoulders lies the destiny of a Europe threatened by the depredations of an Infidel army more terrible than any nightmare.

Anansi BoysAnansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

This is the only book on this list that I have already read – the copy I received for Christmas is a signed first edition.  I didn’t have anything signed by Neil Gaiman so I was quite happy although a bit confused when I opened it.  A couple of weeks ago my husband told me how upset he was that he ordered me something that wasn’t what he had thought.  So he said he’d just give it to me now since it wasn’t the right thing so we already had it.  He brought out a copy of Anansi Boys and said he had thought it was signed, but it wasn’t and that must have been why it was so cheap.  He also told me he had checked around and made it sound like signed copies were too expensive for him to buy.  So imagine my surprise when I opened a copy.  It turned out he bought the extra copy just so he could put on that whole act about being disappointed about not getting it.  That sneak!

Fat Charlie Nancy’s normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn’t know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother. Now brother Spider is on his doorstep—about to make Fat Charlie’s life more interesting . . . and a lot more dangerous.

Death NoteDeath Note Box Set (Volumes 1 – 12) by Tsugumi Ohba

The box set contains the entire manga plus a “how to read guide.”  This was a little puzzling since I wasn’t sure why you needed a whole volume on how to read, but it just seems to be a collection of information on the series.  I’ve seen the anime series and really liked it so I’m looking forward to reading the manga.  It looks like it is very similar from when I was flipping through it.  The art looks the same and the small part I read toward the beginning seemed to be much the same.  I’m considering trying to read one of these a month next year, but we’ll see – it probably depends on just how busy I am, but one of these really shouldn’t take long to read through at all.

Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects – and he’s bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal…or his life? Light tests the boundaries of the Death Note powers as L and the police begin to close in. Luckily Light’s father is the head of the Japanese National Police Agency and leaves vital information about the case lying around the house. With access to his father’s files, Light can keep one step ahead of the authorities. But who is the strange man following him, and how can Light guard against enemies whose names he doesn’t know?

LaviniaLavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

This is another signed first edition, but this time it’s a book I didn’t have yet.  I didn’t have a book signed by Le Guin, and this retelling of The Aeneid sounded particularly interesting to me so I’m looking forward to reading it.  It came out around the same time as Black Ships by Jo Graham, which was another retelling of this poem from a female perspective.  I’m hoping it’s been long enough since I’ve read the latter now that I won’t compare the two since it seems a lot of people did compare them and usually seemed to prefer the one they had read first.

Troy has fallen. Rome is a tiny village by the seven hills… At the end of Vergil’s epic poem The Aeneid, the Trojan hero Aeneas, following his destiny, is about to marry the Italian girl Lavinia. But in the poem, she has played only the slightest part, and has never spoken a word.

Daughter of a local king, Lavinia has lived in peace and freedom, till suitors came seeking her hand, and a foreign fleet sailed up the Tiber. Now her mother wants her to marry handsome, ambitious Turnus, but strange omens, prophecies spoken by the voices of the sacred trees and springs, foretell that she must marry a stranger. And that she will be the cause of a bitter war. And that her husband will not live long.

Lavinia is determined to follow her own destiny. And when she talks with the spirit of the poet in the sacred grove, she begins to see that destiny. So she gains her own voice, learning how to tell the story Vergil left untold — her story, her life, and the love of her life.

The Misted CliffsThe Misted Cliffs by Catherine Asaro

This is another signed book and the second book in Catherine Asaro’s romantic fantasy series.  I’ve read the first book and while I much prefer her science fiction series, I did like it enough that I wanted to read the next one.  Technically, I felt it had a lot of problems with too much coincidence and some bizarre naming, but I did love the characters in the book and their different situations.  Plus I’m thrilled to have a book signed by Catherine Asaro – I have one other book by her that is signed, but it’s actually got one of those stickers inside that’s signed instead of the book itself being signed.  For some reason, that’s not quite the same to me.

Award winning author Catherine Asaro, creator of The Skolian Empire, returns to the world of Aronsdale, a place rich with magic and power. One generation after war had nearly destroyed three nations, evil was returning. And only Mel Dawnfield’s daring sacrifice could stop it.

The promise of peace rested on this young woman’s noble vow: to marry Cobalt the Dark heir to a family of legendary cruelty. With only her uncontrolled spells to guide her, isolated in Cobalt’s solitary home in the Misted Cliffs, knowing poisoned blood ran through her husband’s veins, Mel struggled to embrace her unexplored mage powers and unveil the light in her shadowy new world including the radiance hidden in her husband’s soul. For her enemies were gathering strength and they would soon unleash the darkest of evils in the name of war.

Against a Dark BackgroundAgainst a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks

This is not signed – it’s just a book off my wish list that I’m excited about reading.  This is one of the books by Banks that is science fiction but not a Culture book.  I really enjoyed both The Player of Games and Use of Weapons by him so I’ve been working on getting more of his books to read, and I thought this one sounded very interesting.

Sharrow was once the leader of a personality-attuned combat team in one of the sporadic little commercial wars in the civilization based around the planet Golter. Now she is hunted by the Huhsz, a religious cult which believes that she is the last obstacle before the faith’s apotheosis, and her only hope of escape is to find the last of the apocalyptically powerful Lazy Guns before the Huhsz find her.

Her journey through the exotic Golterian system is a destructive and savage odyssey into her past, and that of her family and of the system itself.

China Mountain ZhangChina Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh

I’ve wanted to read this one for quite a while since I keep hearing it is excellent.  It was bumped up as a higher priority on my wish list when I found out it was the August selection for the Women of Science Fiction Book Club, though, and I ended up unwrapping it this Christmas.  I’ll save it until sometime closer to August so I can remember the details for discussion.

When talking about this book you have to list the awards it’s won–the Hugo, the Tiptree, the Lambda, the Locus, a Nebula nomination–after that you can skip the effusive praise from the New York Times and get to the heart of things: This is a book about a future many don’t agree with. It’s set in a 22nd century dominated by Communist China and the protagonist is a gay man. These aren’t the usual tropes of science fiction, and they aren’t written in the usual way. But, wow, it’s one heck of a story.

Mythago WoodMythago Wood by Robert Holdstock

This is a book I’ve thought maybe I wanted to read for a while, but I decided I had to read it after reading Sarah’s review at Bookworm Blues.  She described it as an exploration of myth with layers and I knew I had to read it.

Myth and Terror in the Forest Deeps

The mystery of Ryhope Wood, Britain’s last fragment of primeval forest, consumed George Huxley’s entire long life. Now, after his death, his sons have taken up his work. But what they discover is numinous and perilous beyond all expectation.

For the Wood, larger inside than out, is a labyrinth full of myths come to life, “mythagos” that can change you forever. A labyrinth where love and beauty haunt your dreams. . .and may drive you insane.

Mythago WoodThe Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny

This is a collection of all 10 books in the Chronicles of Amber.  It’s been on my wish list for a long time and I’m excited about reading it!  It’s a massive tome, but since it’s 10 books total each book isn’t actually all that long.

Roger Zelazny’s books have three things in common: a flawed hero who sometimes fails, endlessly surprising plot twists, and a blend of lyricism, literary allusions, and sly puns that makes the pages fly. The Great Book of Amber, collecting all 10 Amber novels, is vintage Zelazny. Despite some irritating typographical errors, it’s invaluable for anyone who wants to read or reread the tales of Corwin and his son, Merlin.

Corwin is a prince of Amber, the “immortal city from which every other city has taken its shape.” All other worlds, including Earth, are shadows of that reality. Corwin has spent centuries on Earth as an amnesiac. But when someone in the family tries to kill him there, Corwin begins a search for his past. He quickly learns that his family has some very unusual powers. They can travel between Amber, its shadows, and Chaos by manipulating reality; use magical playing cards to communicate and travel instantaneously; and are able to walk the Pattern that created Amber. Corwin regains his memory, solves the mystery of his father Oberon’s disappearance, and fulfills his destiny–only to disappear into Chaos.

Merlin searches for Corwin and his destiny as a son of both Amber and the Courts of Chaos. His story parallels Corwin’s, answering many questions about Amber, Chaos, and the next generation in the family.

Many readers have complained that the series goes on too long and the ending is disappointing. None, however, would deny that it’s filled with fascinating ideas, complex characters, and action-adventure. Don’t miss a chance to make up your own mind.

There’s one more book I am getting later since it is not out yet.  My husband pre-ordered me a signed copy of Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss from The Signed Page.  I was excited even if I have to wait a few months!

Here’s what my husband got for Christmas for books:

  • Myth-Interpretations by Robert Asprin (short stories associated with his Myth series, of which my husband is a huge fan)
  • Dragons Deal by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye (third book in the Dragon series – this was one Robert Asprin was writing by himself, but sadly he died before it was completed)
  • The Philosophical Strangler by Eric Flint (I bought him this after looking up books that were supposed to be somewhat similar to Discworld)
  • Bring Me The Head of Prince Charming by Roger Zelazny and Robert Sheckley (another one I got based on recommendations for books similar to Discworld)
  • We3 by Grant Morrison (a comic book – he’s already read it and thought the quote on the back about it being “creepily touching” summed it up pretty well)
  • Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (which he actually downloaded for his new Kindle from a wonderful individual and is reading now)
  • The Discworld Graphic Novels: The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett (which he’s also already read)

What did you get for books for the holidays?