This week I have a giveaway, and I’m hoping to revise a draft of a post for the week.  Then I’ll move on to reviewing A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge and Dust by Elizabeth Bear (which I just read for this month’s Women of Science Fiction Book Club).  I’ll also be writing a review of Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire, but I won’t be posting it until closer to the release date in March.  So for now I’ll just leave it at: I liked it very much and think it is the best book in the series so far.  So much happens!  Awesomeness!  And I’m very glad book 5 will be out later this year and that there is no long wait.

This week I received two review copies.  Someday when we quit having a snowstorm a day (seriously, Maine winter, where do you think we’re going to put all this snow?!) I’m going to go over to the bookstore to look for February’s Women of Science Fiction Book Club selection.

The Skin MapThe Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead

This is the first book in the Bright Empires series, which will be 5 books long according to Lawhead’s website.  At the moment, it is available in hardcover or as an e-book, and it will be coming out in trade paperback format in May.  Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle about Merlin and King Arthur were some of the very first fantasy books I read (the second book, Merlin, was my favorite), and I also liked his novel Hood, the first book in the King Raven trilogy, a Robin Hood retelling (still need to finish the rest of the series).  I had seen a copy of this in the bookstore toward the end of last year and was curious about it, so when I was offered a review copy, I didn’t have to think twice about accepting.  An excerpt from The Skin Map is available on the publisher’s website.

It is the ultimate quest for the ultimate treasure. Chasing a map tattooed on human skin. Across an omniverse of intereing realities. To unravel the future of the future.

Kit Livingston’s great-grandfather appears to him in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm. He reveals an unbelievable story: that the ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks, but pathways to other worlds. To those who know how to use them, they grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily inhabit only a tiny part.

One explorer knew more than most. Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery. Ever on his guard, and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code–a roadmap of symbols–that he tattooed onto his own body. This Skin Map has since been lost in time. Now the race is on to recover all the pieces and discover its secrets.

But the Skin Map itself is not the ultimate goal. It is merely the beginning of a vast and marvelous quest for a prize beyond imagining.

The Bright Empires series–from acclaimed author Stephen Lawhead–is a unique blending of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery. The result is a page-turning, fantastical adventure like no other.

The InitiateInitiate by Tara Maya

I actually received this e-book as a gift from the author while I was writing this post and had to go back and change it from 1 book received to 2.  It’s the first book in a series called The Unfinished Song.  I can’t find a lot of information on it other than that the second book is in progress.  It looks like it is self-published and I don’t accept self-published books for review anymore, but I’ll at least take a look at it at some point since I already downloaded it before looking it up.

Dindi can’t do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi’s clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.

Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn’t commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don’t kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father’s wars and his mother’s curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her… assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.