Well it’s Sunday morning so it must be time to check out what’s been happening around the blook-o-sphere. Last weeks was a bit too long so I’m probably going to keep this weeks a bit shorter!

And we start with a very important question:

link: The Speculative Scotsman: How We Read: An Addendum

In the meantime, I thought it would be a fine idea to highlight the best of the comments and responses to Had We Worlds Enough and Time in a post of their very own. TS was first to answer the question I’d posed – how do you read?

Naill got some great answers from the likes of Mark Charan Newton, ediFanoB, Mark Chitty, and Aiden Moher. As usual I’m late to this party so I missed out on jumping in at the start but how would I answer?

Harry and I have a challenge this year to read 6 books a month. I’m on five this morning, almost, I have less than a hundred pages of Horns to go and I’m gonna try and see if I can read something short to make my six.

Six in a month doesn’t feel rushed and I should have read 72-ish by the end of the year. That in noway is a reflection of all the books that are released but as Mark CN said does reading as many and as fast as you can actually feel worthwhile?

I hope I can balance by own enjoyment with moving books down the line, which is actually a struggle when I’m not enjoying it, my whole motivation goes and I don’t really want to read. But when I’m in the groove I’ll read to exclusion of most of others things. Enjoyment is the biggest factor.

link: Floor to Ceiling Books: Quiz! UK vs US books covers – just for fun!

American and English books have different covers to appeal to the tastes of the two different nations. Question is, which do you favour? Here are ten books, click the dot underneath the cover which appeals to you the most, and find out where your tastes lie.

I like the UK one BTW :D

link: Temple Library Reviews: Social Stigma & Comic Books [by Graeme Flory]

I’d never really given this a lot of thought until Harry happened to drop the subject of the social ramifications of being a comic book reader into an email conversation that we were having. In Harry’s words, “Does that instantly make you a geek or whether social status upon what is read is pretty much a myth?” As it inevitably turned out, I was too busy reading comic books (‘Nemesis the Warlock’ rules!) to give the matter the level of consideration that it deserved…

I’m a geek and given up worrying about it.

link: gaskella: A tale of two families at war with themselves

While, at over 400 pages in hardback, the book was too long and I got fed up with most of the characters some of the time, I did have to keep reading to see if Meridia would get to the bottom of her parent’s cold war; to see if she could outwit the scheming Eva; amd most of all to see if her relationship with Daniel would survive. It has been billed as a fairy-tale, but the magic of the bees and mists is essentially incidental to the family drama within. An engrossing debut.

I just like the cover…

link: Review: Arms-Commander by L. E. Modesitt Jr. « King of the Nerds!!!

I’ve gone on quite long enough I think. Arms-Commander is a entertaining, if flawed, read. It is perhaps best suited for individuals who are already deep into the Saga of Recluce. That isn’t to say that new readers won’t find anything of value here, I definitely did, only that I think more experience with Recluse likely lends greater insight into the preceding. This is well-crafted, thought provoking high fantasy that is certainly worth a look if you have the time and patience.

See that’s always the problem I face, where to start? For example I’ve got a copy of The Preacher Camilla Lackberg but before I start it I just wanted to check it was a good place to start but some lovely person on Twitter said nope start with The Ice Princess so in went the order to a currently in the bad books online retailer.

Is it just me that has problems knowing where to start with a series or a writer?

link: gaskella: But darling the virus won’t affect us, will it?

This immediate transformation of the country into a miriad of small fiefdoms and garrisons, with its accompanying moral disintegration may have happened rather fast, but kept things moving towards the conclusion. John and Roger were ex-Army, so had the discipline to do what they had to do, the women were 1950s housewives, but at least Ann had a mind of her own, despite some rather dated, arch and cheesy dialogue.

It’s not the worlds best review, but one of my mates is reading it and was describing some of the details and it sounded very disturbing and so easy to bring about. Worth a read?

link: Ecstatic Days » Blog Archive » Genres of Fiction, and Why They Aren’t Discrete Entities

I have argued that genre disctinctions aren’t useless — they are ways of signaling expectations to readers, and establishing reading conventions, and all that is great. I think the problem comes when we start reifying genre and assuming that the barriers between genres are somehow real and important barriers, rather than being useful human constructions that can be argued over and negotiated.

Genre is a tool. It’s not a prophecy.

I am always disappointed when I see people using it as the latter. Yes, it happened to me occasionally in the academy. Here’s an anecdote from an acquaintance:

He walked into the workshop as a prospective student, having been accepted, so that he could attend a class and decide whether or not he wanted to enter the program. When current students asked what he wrote about, he told them he was writing a novel about the beginning of the world, taking apart and reassembling creation myths. One student sneered. “We don’t do fantasy here.”*

I agree. Great read.

link: Fantasy Book News & Reviews: Review: Nightchild by James Barclay

Overall, it reminded me of why fantasy done right can be so entertaining, fun, and emotional to read. The Raven really get dinged up, and it was a nice change seeing an author willing to risk his characters in that way. The story itself was the best of the trilogy, and while Nightchild does have a solid ending, there are other threads left to be explored in the next set of books

What else you do you want from the end of a trilogy? Sounds good.

And we’re quite obsessional us reader. I know I am.

link: Stomping on Yeti: My White Whale

I like John, have a few SF Masterworks titles of my own. And by a few, I mean most of them. And by most of them I mean all of them, minus one. It’s taken a long time and a lot of help from the UK Book Depository but I’ve acquired a decent quality edition of every single one of Gollancz The one book missing from my collection is none other than H.G. Wells’s classic, The Invisible Man rereleased as SF Masterworks #47 and assigned ISBN 1-85798-949-X.

Well he found it:

And look where it goes!!!

link: Stomping on Yeti: Don’t Call Me Ahab…

..because I landed my white whale. After years of off-and-on searching that evoked memories of Harrison Ford’s The Fugitive, I finally turned up a copy of the unobtainium-bound book!

That was until:

link: Stomping on Yeti: SF Masterworks Relaunch (or Golancz Mocks Me)

You can see all the gory details here.

Out of the 16 books on the calender thus far, 4 of them are new releases. The rest are rereleases…

I guess the covers are decent (especially The Time Machine) but still I’m reluctant to get involved again. The biblioholic in me is scared. I need to know…
-Will the spines be different?
-Will the numbering restart?
-Will they line up nicely on the shelf?

I don’t know who makes these decisions but if you are they: What did I ever do to you?

link: PETRONA: The enduring appeal of Nordic novels

I’ve become a bit overwhelmed recently with links to articles in the media about Scandinavian, or Nordic, crime fiction. People kindly send me them, they crop up in my RSS reader, or they are added to the Friend Feed crime fiction room. I like to read them but it is getting hard to distinguish them in my mind. Almost all of them have the same structure – they ask why crime fiction from the region is suddenly so popular, and say that people must like gloom.

Seems like the media needs to start looking deeper into this rising star in genre…as do readers. This reader certainly is.

link: The Speculative Scotsman: Book Review: The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman

There are occasional glimmers of something worthwhile in The Left Hand of God, but for the most part, Hoffman’s first genre novel is derivative, distracted and downright dull. This early in the year, readers are no doubt keen to latch onto the next great fantasy; assuredly, however, this literary identity crisis falls far short of that high watermark. In all likelihood Penguin’s disproportionate publicity campaign will persuade enough readers to buy The Left Hand of God that sequels will come along to resolve the many plot threads left unresolved by this disappointing volume’s abrupt conclusion, but unless Hoffman hones the scattershot craft he exhibits herein, I truly don’t think I’ll care enough to find out.

I do usually go out of my way to try and get hold of HOT books like this one but the hype seems to have come from the publisher not for the readers. I usually go with my feelings and this one just wasn’t doing it somehow. It seems I could be right?

Or maybe not?

link: REVIEW | The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman (Penguin) ~ Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Review

Even with all the flaws The Left Hand of God is an unrepentantly evil yet enjoyable book for those into the darker side of Epic Fantasy that kept me thinking about it long after I finished. There are many questions unanswered that left me eager to get to the next volume to learn more about this world and its secrets. As of right now I’d be surprised if this made it into my year end best, but there is enough good to recommend it.

link: Fantasy Book Critic: “Incarceron” by Catherine Fisher (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

It’s a very rare book that can take on this approach to writing and not lose the reader. Instead Cathrine Fisher knows just when to drop clues and hints to the mystery of Incarceron that it captivates the reader and makes them want to know more. However, this approach isn’t for everyone and could cause readers to stop reading for fear of not understanding the entire plot or getting easily confused as to what is really going on.

The plot of the story is a fairly intriguing concept. Incarceron is really for the most part one big mysterious area, that slows starts to form as the reader progresses through the story. New information is constantly being added and readers can never know what to expect to find in Incarceron. By the end a fully formed picture is painted and it really is very fascinating.

and a second opinion:

link: FANTASTIC BOOK REVIEW: Review: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

The writing is impeccable. The plot is fast-paced and it kept me glued to the story down to the very last page. This is one of those books that I will be highly anticipating the sequel. Fisher has acquired a new fan. Readers of fantasy, be prepared to be a prisoner of Incarceron for it surely will keep you locked into its pages in the wee hours of the night.

I loved Darkhenge and have a signed copy of it and I bought Incarceron on it’s UK release. I need to turn into a book rather than something pretty on the shelves…

link: Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review: ‘Heart of Veridon’ – Tim Akers (Solaris)

Jacob Burn is not the kind of person you want to be standing next to on an airship; having crashed the only one he ever piloted and been involved in the crash landing of another. These days he uses his connections with the nobility to make a living in the underworld of the ancient city of Veridon. That last crash landing is about to become a lot more painful than the injuries he sustained however. A strange artefact came into Burn’s possession just before the crash and it seems like the whole of Veridon now wants to get their hands on it. It’s not just the citizens of Veridon either; something strange is stalking Burn through the streets, something that will make Jacob question everything that he thought he knew about himself and the city he has always lived in…

You know that phrase, ‘don’t judge a book by a cover’, well I’m afraid I do and I don’t know what to make of this one.

link: Review: Drood by Dan Simmons | Only The Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy

What a book! 771 pages to narrate five years. Too much? With Drood Dan Simmons presents an opus which eludes any unequivocal categorization. It is an inimitable – which is also used as a description of Dickens, please forgive the pun – mix of a portrait of Victorian culture, manners and morals, mystery, gothic traces, partial biography of two men, history, drama, travelogue, relationship study, friendship and drug experience. Brilliant researched from Staplehurst Train Desaster via the oeuvre of Dickens and Wilkie to the events, places and persons appearing in Drood and reinterpreted, the reader is offered a deep insight to the psyche of Collins and Dickens as well as an insight to the moral vision of the 19th century.

It would be nice to read but I’m not sure what I’d get out of reading it? I guess I need something more definitive than a portrait, probably.

link: Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review: ‘Feast of Souls’ – Celia Friedman (Orbit)

As the opening book in a trilogy, ‘Feast of Souls’ is primarily about setting events up for future books as well as introducing the setting and characters within it. As such, the focus is more on politicking and world building and this does affect the pace of the book, slowing things down when I wanted them to speed up. The politicking is enthralling though (especially as the larger picture becomes apparent) and the world is beautifully drawn (albeit bleak…) As a payoff I found that this more than made up for the lack of pace in areas of the book. When events flare into life Friedman has her hands firmly on the reins and delivers scenes that are tightly controlled while sparkling with vitality.

I’m not adding this to the pile – I’m not… just cause I like the cover?

link: Mark Charan Newton – New Two Book Deal

Seems as though I’m late to my own party. Whilst the interwebs was busy fluttering with this news, I was getting my haircut and buying new shoes, and then I’ve got to cook dinner for four tonight. But anyway:

Mark’s a lovely chap and this is very exciting news – especially as the paperback ofNights of Villhamur isn’t out until June or the US release and book two City of Ruin has only just been finished.

link: Fantasy Book Critic: Spotlight on February Books

This month Robert Thompson provided most of the book titles with additions by Cindy Hannikman, Liviu Suciu and Mihir Wanchoo. We are featuring 54 books. The release dates are US unless marked otherwise and the books are first edition unless noted differently. The dates are on a best known basis so they are not guaranteed; same about the edition information. Since information sometimes is out of date even in the Amazon/Book Depository links we use for listings, books get delayed or sometimes even released earlier, we would truly appreciate if you would send us an email about any listing with incorrect information

Some highlights for me on the list – “Point Omega” by Don DeLillo, “The World House” by Guy Adams, “Lex Trent Versus the Gods” by Alex Bell, “A Dark Matter” by Peter Straub, and many others…

And as they used to say, ‘That’s All Folks!’

More next week.

Anything caught your eye?

6 Thoughts on “Book-o-sphere Round-up: 31 January Edition

  1. I gave up on Drood. By the mid-point of the book, it runs to about 1 page of story to 10-14 pages of Wikipedia-esque infodump. Add to that a lot of really rather good turns of phrase being used over and over again (sometimes just a single sentence apart), spoiling their impact, and it looks like Dan Simmons needs a better editor.

  2. nextread on 31 January, 2010 at 12:15 pm said:

    Ah, not for me then – I need action!!

  3. Harry Markov on 31 January, 2010 at 8:22 pm said:

    I got mentioned again. You are fantastic and you pass with 5 1/2, because it would be a big old asshole move, if I don't acknowledge the zest. :)

    Await my response tomorrow. :)

  4. nextread on 31 January, 2010 at 10:34 pm said:

    Thanks – will try for 6.5 next month though just to keep up!

    Looking forward to your post tomorrow :D

  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention Book-o-sphere Round-up: 31 January Edition – NextRead -- Topsy.com

  6. ediFanoB on 4 February, 2010 at 12:33 pm said:

    I love DROOD. For me it is one of my top reads in 2010. I know a lot of people doesn’t like it due to reasons like length, not enough action, uninteresting topic, boring and more.

    you wrote “It would be nice to read but I’m not sure what I’d get out of reading it? I guess I need something more definitive than a portrait, probably.”

    From my point of view you get entertainment in the truest sense of the word.
    As I wrote “the reader is offered a deep insight to the psyche of Collins and Dickens as well as an insight to the moral vision of the 19th century.”
    In case you don’t want this – don’t read it.
    You look for an action paced story – don’t read it
    You can’t copy with 771 pages – don’t read it

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