Tuesday, July 31, 2007

WICKED, LOVELY - First Chapter

I read the first chapter to WICKED, LOVELY by Melissa Marr several weeks ago, so here's a quick post on it. After a short prologue, the first chapter begins with a girl and a boy playing pool. Seems ordinary enough -- almost boring. However, as they play, faeries torment them. They are unseen by most people. However, Aislinn can see them. And she must never let on, otherwise they will make her life miserable.

Then she felt it: warm air on her skin. A faery, its too-hot breath on her neck, sniffed her hair. His pointed chin pressed against her skin. All the focus in the world didn’t make Pointy-Face's attention tolerable.

I'm not crazy about authors referring to nameless characters in this manner; I find it rather distracting. However, I can ignore it, because the story gets more gripping with every page. Pretty soon, Aislinn finds herself being pursued by three faeries, a boy, a girl and a wolf. When the boy takes a human guise, Aislinn is not fooled. He speaks to her, but she rebuffs him. The chapter ends on a chilling note that begs the reader to turn the page. It really is very well done.

New Debut - PLAGUE YEAR by Jeff Carlson

Debuting today is Jeff Carlson's Plague Year (Amazon UK). Here is the blurb:

The nanotechnology was designed to fight cancer. Instead, it evolved into the machine plague, killing nearly five billion people and changing life on Earth forever.

The nanotech has one weakness: it self-destructs at altitudes above ten thousand feet. Those few who've managed to escape struggle to stay alive on the highest mountains, but time is running out. There is famine and war, and the environment is crashing worldwide. Humanity's last hope lies with a top nanotech researcher aboard the International Space Station—and with a small group of survivors in California who risk a daring journey below the death line.

The publisher has a page for to the novel, which includes a blurb by David Brin and an interview. The author also maintains a profile at Writertopia and has sample chapters available at his website. There is an entry for the author on Wikipedia. I also found a very enthusiastic blog entry about it by Lou Anders, the editorial director at Pyr entitled "The One That Got Away". I found reviews at SciFiWeekly, Alternative Worlds, and Publishers Weekly (scroll way down).

The premise reminds me of Alas, Babylon, published in 1959 by Pat Frank, where humanity survives a nuclear war in isolated pockets. I am tempted to read it to see how far the similarity goes. I may feature the first chapter within the next week or so.

Monday, July 30, 2007

And Now for Something Different

Since I am maddeningly undecided on which novel I want to feature next, I've decided to read some first chapters that are posted online. And since I'm reading first chapters, I might as well put up posts about them. The first one follows this post.


I'm not usually into horror, but THE HAUNTING OF CAMBRIA by Richard Taylor is unexpectedly charming.

The first chapter works for me. It is a blend of tragedy and humor which, as I stated in an earlier post, is almost irresistible for me. The first line:

"Lily died the day we signed the escrow papers for the bed and breakfast."

The first chapter tells the story of how a young widower lost is wife of only a few hours, from what it sounds like. They did jump into bed too rapidly for my taste, but that was only after months of the man romancing the woman until she no longer wanted to resist. So at least they knew each other.

Once she dies, he is left with the bed and breakfast that they just purchased hours before. It was her dream to run the bed and breakfast. His dream, as he told her, was her.

It has some delightful and touching humor, such as:

"You have a career." (Lily)
"I have a job." (Theo)
"You have a condo."
"It's an apartment with pretension. It has a fireplace and a mortgage. It means nothing."

It's not laugh-out-loud humor, but it shows a light touch that is promising for the rest of the novel.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Danger of the Mega-Series

I went through all my books yesterday, making room for the many books that I intend to read for this blog, and I noticed an interesting trend. The series that I set aside for the used book store were all series that I enjoyed, for the most part. But they had two things in common. Each book was ultra thick and each series went on for more than three books. I realized that -- even if I really enjoyed them -- I would most likely not invest the time in reading them again.

Into the pile went my Tad Williams Otherland series. I love everything Tad Williams has written. However, the only novel I kept is Tailchaser's Song. I have already sold Memory Sorrow and Thorn. I also am going to sell the volumes that I have left from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice and I've already sold my volumes from Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time.

I kept most the shorter series, even if they weren't my favorites. My favorite book by J. V. Jones is The Barbed Coil. But I also kept her The Book of Words series (that series title never made sense to me). I have Deborah Chester's The Sword, the Ring and the Chalice and Holly Lisle's The Secret Texts. I enjoyed them all, but if I lost them in a fire, I wouldn't replace them.

Which brings me to my point. When it comes to my favorite series, I have actually gone through the expense of replacing worn-out copies. I have purchased no fewer than three copies of Dragonlance over the years, including two omnibus copies and one copy of each individual book. I have purchased two omnibus copies of The Deed of Paksenarrion. I have purchased at least three copies of The Once and Future King, including standalone copies of The Sword in the Stone and The Book of Merlyn.

Why did I replace these? Because I read each series so many times that I actually wore them out. This has turned into extra sales for the authors. True, these aren't mega-authors. But most authors aren't.

Which brings me to Acacia. The jury is still out for this one. The first book took me three weeks to read, but David Anthony Durham has promised only three titles in the series. This alone makes me more likely to keep them.

Do you reread the novels that you love? What titles have you purchased more than once, if any?

Friday, July 27, 2007

ACACIA - Final Review

If I were to have to describe ACACIA in one word, I would have to say it is intense.

ACACIA tells the tale of the four children of a king, and of their individual attempts to win back the kingdom of their father from the Mein invaders.

The kingdom of Acacia owes its stranglehold on the known world through the widespread use of a drug, which it obtains from a mysterious land in the unknown world. In exchange, Acacia pays an annual and horrific sort of a tax, called a Quota, which is paid in human lives. When the Mein take over, they find themselves beholden to the Quota as well. And at the end of the book . . . well, let's just say that this particular situation is unresolved. It is clear that the ultimate villain in this series is whoever it is who lives in the unknown world.

The book has multiple viewpoints. The viewpoints switch every chapter, George R. R. Martin style and includes:

Thasren, the assassin
his older brother Maeander,
their oldest brother, Hamish, chieftain of the Mein
Leodan, the king of Acacia,
each of his four children, including
Aliver, the oldest and the heir,
the beautiful and treacherous Corinn,
the smart and deadly Mena,
and the personable and passionate Dariel,
Thaddeus, the king's councilor,
Leeka, the aging general,
Rialus, a treacherous ambassador

And a few others. One thing that frustrated me about the novel was how often the viewpoint changed in the opening chapters. It interfered with my ability to develop an affinity with any of them. Only during Part Two did I finally learn to like most of the royal family. I also wish Durham could have pruned some of the point-of-view (POV) characters. Was it really necessary to make the reader endure Rialus's point of view when when other POV characters were present? Maybe Durham has a good reason us to know him so intimately, but as a reader when I got to another scene about Rialus (and others), I would more often than not put the book down for a while.

However, Durham is too generous and good of a writer to make me suffer for long. Since the chapters tended to be short, I usually didn't have to read very far before catching up with the less repugnant characters. I'd have to say may favorite characters were Mena, Dariel and Leeka. My least favorite were Maeander, Rialus and Corrine. I don't think Durham really expected me to like any of those characters. Some of them make great villains. Others are merely slimy.

I thought the Santoth would turn out to be bad guys. I was glad to be surprised otherwise. Hanish didn't turned out to be quite the villain than I expected, and a certain other character turned out to be much more of a villain than I expected. Aliver and Corinne turned out to be stronger than I expected, while Dariel and Leodan turned out to be weaker than I expected.

And the death of a certain messiah-type was not really that unexpected. After all, messiahs tend to die, do they not?

Speaking of messiahs, this novel has definite Christian underpinnings. However, they are very subtle. It speaks of the power of the creator not meant to be wielded by the created. I found this a powerful concept. It was behind the world's warped -- almost cursed -- magic system.

Would I recommend this book? Well, that depends on what you want from your novels. This book is not for readers who want a lighthearted yarn. It's not for readers who want a book that makes them laugh. It's not for readers who want a page-turning thriller. It's not for readers who want to finish within 24 hours.

It is for readers who appreciate suburb worldbuilding. It is for readers who enjoy being provoked to think. It is for readers who crave a long-term commitment to an epic fantasy (especially when they have been disappointed by such epics in the past). And it is for readers who enjoy truly unique ideas, and who don't aren't turned off by occasional brutality.

Will I read the next book in the series? Absolutely. As always, I am interested in hearing your opinions as well. I just love discussing books! This post will remain on top throughout the weekend.

The Amazon link for the US and the UK
David Anthony Durham's website, blog and forum
My other posts about ACACIA


Over the last week or so, I've noticed more referrals popping up in my Google Analytics and Technorati. Thanks to The Fantasy Review, The Gravel Pit, The Soulless Machine Review, The Book Swede and Graeme's Fantasy Book Review for adding me to your blogrolls! I'll be updating my blogroll this weekend. If you've blogrolled Fantasy Debut and I've missed it, please leave a comment.

Thanks again!

BTW, I've finished ACACIA and am working on my review now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

THE HOWLING DELVE by Jaleigh Johnson

Instead of doing a weekly or twice-weekly debut round-up, I've decided to announce them one at a time. It's just too time-consuming the other way. Besides, the individual novels will get more exposure this way.

Another novel that released on the 10th of July was The Howling Delve by Jaleigh Johnson. It is a Forgotten Realms novel. It seems to me that writing a novel for a franchise such as Forgotten Realms can be a smart thing to do. On the one hand, you don't hold your own copyright. But on the other, you have a huge hoard of fans who pick up every Forgotten Realms book that comes out. Many authors got their break by writing for such shared worlds as the many owned by Wizards of the Coast along with Battletech and Star Wars. It would have to be a labor of love, and I imagine that you would have to know that world extremely well. I also know that the competition to get a contract to write such a book can be tough. Unlike other publishers, you generally submit a proposal to write such a book, even if you are an unknown author.

The blurb reads: "An orphan mage returns to the only home she's ever known to find if transformed into a dungeon, her former master missing or trapped within. To make matters worse, the thieves that hold the dungeon won't let her leave --not for supplies, not for help. It will take all of her courage, skill, and magic to survive long enough to figure out what happened to her home." There is a sample chapter at the Wizard's website. Johnson also keeps a blog and she updates it fairly often.

Remy did a review over at The Fantasy Review. In fact, he deserves a hat tip; were it not for his review I would have missed this novel. The Beezer Review also has a review up.


I usually post every. However, I have not for the past few days because I'm nursing a toe that is either dislocated or fractured. After spending all day at work in front of a computer, I come home, keep my foot elevated and read David's novel.

Its taken me a shockingly long time to read this book, mostly because life keeps getting in the way. My usual reading time on the weekend has not been available in recent weeks. However, I'm almost done! I only have about a quarter-inch left.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Debut Round-Up - 7/22/07

This week, Locus put out feeds for week 2 and 3, even though week 3 is not yet available via a link on their website. Never one to miss an opportunity, I have gleaned one debut from each week (other than the ones that I've already covered).

The Hidden Worlds by Kristin Landon came out on June 26th, published by Ace. It is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel where humanity hides on hidden worlds from ruthless machine intelligences -- except now the machine intelligences have discovered these hidden worlds. Her site has links to a number of reviews. This novel was blurbed by Linnea Sinclair, who also blurbed Lisa Shearin's Magic Lost, Trouble Found. Since I liked that, Linnea's blurb makes this book tempting. I found reviews at The Best Reviews, Harriet Klausner and Deborah Hern's blog.

The Haunting of Cambria by Richard Taylor also came out on the 26, published by Tor Books. It is a haunted love story, about a recent widower who investigates the haunting of his new home. His website has a sample chapter along with reviews and events. I found reviews at Armchair Interviews, Huntress Book Reviews and another one at Harriet Klausner.

Although I've noted Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible, I have yet to include a Debut Round-Up entry on it. So here it is. But first, an aside.

I was doing my usual geek thing, which is Googling the book title and then loading a bunch of browser tabs with the most pertinent results. Well, I loaded the book's website and quickly moved on, opening about 3 or4 tabs without looking at them. Then, I heard a bunch of thunder, lightening and electronic arcing sounds. I hurried over to the novel's website and sure enough, it looks like Grossman pulled out all the stops, just like Jennifer Estep did with Karma Girl. There's even a button for the Department of Metahuman Affairs that you can easily miss if you only skim the page. But if you miss it, then you miss out on the chance of getting something like this:

check the Metahuman Activity Map

Tia Nevitt


And who would want to miss that? This site is chock full of stuff, a fun time-eater.

Anyway, as I've noted in my Debut Bestseller Round-Ups, Grossman's novel has been on the Amazon Fantasy top seller list. Trashotron has reviewed it along with Newsday, and In Which Our Hero, and a lot of other people.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Poll - Which Debut Should I Read Next?

I don't swear to be bound by the results of this poll, but I'd like your opinion. It's over on the left, just under David's book. Which book would you like to see me read next? I chose three that I've been mulling over:

Wicked, Lovely by Melissa Marr
Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
Hurricane Moon by Alexis Glynn Latner

Friday, July 20, 2007

ACACIA Review - Character Impressions

One device I see a lot in any sort of fiction is that when a character has a "gut feeling", often he or she is right. The gut feeling is rarely a red herring; instead it is a foreshadowing.

One thing I am finding about ACACIA, is that you should expect the unexpected, and just like in real life, gut feelings are often not to be trusted. Leeka, the down-to-earth, tough-as-nails general, was convinced that he found his reason for existing, and that his reason for existing was to bring word of an impending attack to his countrymen.

Another character, the preteen Princess Mena, had a gut feeling that she could trust a guardian that was sent to protect her.

Whose gut feeling do you think was accurate? You don't really expect me to say, do you?

I love being surprised. When I encountered a chapter featuring a new character named Spratling, I admit that I felt a bit impatient. Not another viewpoint character, I thought. Well, I turned out to be wrong. Spratling has another identity, one that I was familiar with and that I didn't expect at all. And so now I have a new favorite character.

I only have misgivings about one character. There are two female viewpoint characters in ACACIA, and I'm wondering if Durham means for his readers to dislike one of them. She is now a captive and seems to be falling in love with her captor. It reminds me of a similar situation in Guy Gavirel Kay's Tigana. So far, the character in ACACIA is remaining strong, but I dearly wish she would develop more of a backbone. At the very least, she could stop being so obedient to her captor. I would be elated if she managed to escape. However, I am going to reserve judgment until the end of the book, because she certainly has plenty of time to redeem herself.

I am hoping, now that I've reached the part where the four royal siblings are scattered about the globe, that the viewpoints focus more on them. So far, so good.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Week of Debuts!

There are a lot debuts in recent and upcoming weeks. This round-up has more hard science fiction and dark fiction than I usually see.

Mary Modern by Camille Deangelis came out in hardcover by Shaye Areheart Books, an imprint of Random House, on July 10, 2007. This novel is about a cloning gone awry, and has been compared to the Frankenstein story. Her website has a FAQ that reads like a self-interview and a prologue, There are reviews at Publisher's Weekly (4th one down) and at Armchair Interviews (requires registration) and Book Reporter.

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey also came out in hardcover on the 10th. It's about a freelance exorcist who takes on a job that proves to be more than he expected. His website is actually a blog. He has a UK-based website here. The novel came out last year in the UK and is now available over there in paperback. There are reviews at Infinity Plus, Fantasy Book Critic and SFReview.

Hurricane Moon by Alexis Glynn Latner comes out today! It is a trade paperback about a group of human exiles who flee a doomed earth, only to find that their long hibernation damaged their genome, dooming them anew. This one looks tempting to me. The first three chapters are avalable at Pyr, the publisher. Read reviews at Publisher's Weekly (scroll way down) and Alternative Worlds.

Slaves of the Shinar by Justin Allen comes out on July 19th. It is about two men in the ancient middle east who battle a fictional Niphilim onslaught. I'm not able to find many links on this book except for the publisher's website, Overlook Press. There is a review at Publisher's Weekly (again, scroll way down), but I have not been able to find much else except, interestingly enough, his involvement with ballet. Since I am an ancient history buff, this one looks interesting to me.

The odd title of Warren Ellis's debut, Crooked Little Vein, gives me a case of the willies. Who knows, maybe this is on purpose? Anyway, the plot -- where some detective types look for the other constitution -- looks convoluted enough to make Carl Hiaasen proud. It is due out on the 24th. I found reviews at Paperback Reader, Comic Timing and Discorder. I also found an interview at Publishers Weekly. He has a LiveJournal blog, a MySpace and something called a BadSignal.

Hat Tip: Robert, the Fantasy Book Critic! Thanks!

Small Press - What do you think?

I've started getting requests to review small press books here. I've given it some thought and my decision is somewhat mixed.

When I started this blog, I decided to focus it on major press debuts because my time is so limited. Even so, there are many debuts that I simply do not get to. One debut that I never got to despite wanting to review, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, is actually on the bestseller lists.

Therefore, for the most part, I will not make any attempt to keep up with all the debuts from small presses. It would take way too much time. This week alone, I have five books that I'm preparing for my weekly debut round-up. However, if a small press author contacts me about his or her book, I will include it in the weekly round-up on the week it is released. If it is not available on the bookshelves of bricks-and-mortar stores, I will say so. If I start getting a lot of such tips, I'll put then in a separate post.

As for actual reviews, I'll decide on a case-by-case basis. In keeping with my usual practice, I won't let the author know about my decision to review until after I have already started reviewing it.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

ACACIA Review - Pacing

I'm almost finished with part one of ACACIA, so I thought I'd pause and say a few words about the pacing. It reminds me of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. In that novel, I went into the book knowing that everything up to a certain point was a prologue. I knew that Claire would go back in time, but getting to that point was agony. However, once I got there, I was blown away by the rest of the book.

I'm going through a bit of the same thing with ACACIA. Like Outlander, it is a book that you read for the long haul. Some books are like snack-packs, devoured quickly. This novel is a giant bag of M&Ms, best read in chunks.

However, I know that what one person finds fast-paced, another will find hopelessly plodding. I could not put down Charles Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop, but when I lent it to a friend, she returned it to me, unfinished.

I'm not nearly to that point, and I don't expect to be. The king is not quite dead yet. He has made a last request to his treacherous chancellor , but since the chancellor is not really evil, he is conflicted about what to do next. Maeander, the middle-born prince of the Mein, is every bit as evil and despicable as I thought he would be. Really, some of the things that David thought of for this villain just chills the blood.

My favorite character so far is Leeka, the general. I feel the most connection to him. For all the other characters, there is still a bit of separation. But Leeka is fighting for his life to bring word of an invasion, and who can't help but admire a 48 year old general who still kicks butt? However, I have the terrible suspicion that this character is doomed to die. I hope I'm wrong.

Aliver, young heir to the Acacian throne, is my next favorite character. The conflict between him and his peers is still unresolved; in fact it has not even been mentioned again. The prince has done nothing that makes me think he will turn out evil. Since I know from the cover blurb that there will be a jump in time, I find myself looking forward to seeing him as a grown man. In fact, I'm downright impatient for it.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

ACACIA Review - A Dark Secret

Ok, so maybe the assassin isn't such a sympathetic character after all. But in a way, he still is even though he murders and maims people without a second thought. I have not yet reached the point of the assassination in the book, but I sense that I am close. (I don't think I'm giving anything away here since the blurb makes it plain that someone is assassinated.)

If you've read the book (or wrote it) and are thinking "Oh, come on! You haven't reached the assassination, yet?" I'd have to say yeah, you're right. It's turned out to be a bad week for book reading and the weekend probably won't be much better. But hey! I get to feature David's book for two weeks instead of one! (Always look at the bright side, I say.)

The kingdom of Acacia has a dark secret to its longstanding chokehold on the rest of the Known World. However, everyone seems to know the dark secret except the king's four children. I expect that the prince and heir will be finding out soon. He has lived a sheltered existence up until now, so the revelation should be pretty shattering. The secret, which is a bargain of sorts, is chilling. The other partner in the bargain now seem to be working with the Mein, which makes me wonder if they'll make the Mein strike the same bargain if the Mein are successful in taking over the kingdom.

Few elements of a fantasy nature have popped up so far, except for a brief mention of the a sect of sorcerers early on. However, I wonder if the mist drug might have some magical qualities.

Friday, July 13, 2007

New Debut - Kop by Warren Hammond

Kop, by Warren Hammond, a science fiction noir detective novel turned up in Tor's most recent newsletter. It has enough subgenres to catch my eye. It released on June 26. There is an excerpt here. Robert at FantasyBookCritic is reading it now.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Debut Fantasy Bestsellers

Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely continues on the NYT bestseller list at number 3 in children's chapter books. It is also number 23 in Amazon's Teens Fantasy and Science Fiction and occupies the 10th position on Locus's list. Patrick Rothfuss's Name of the Wind is on Amazon's Fantasy and Science Fiction list at number 72 (41 in Fantasy only). Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible is at number 95 (53 in Fantasy only).

I haven't mentioned Grossman's debut, Soon I Will Be Invincible, because it is one of those that debuted at about the same time I started this blog. However, I love the title and I love the blurb over at his site, so I may end up featuring it here. I'll put up all the info I can find on it in a separate post, but probably not until Sunday, at the very earliest.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

ACACIA - Cringeworthy Moments

How do you take an unappealing character and put the reader firmly on his side? Humiliate him.

I generally don't like princes and princesses in fantasy novels; I think there are entirely too many of them. However, I recognize that princes and princesses would be the natural movers and shakers of any medieval world. When this particular prince was introduced, I didn't like him much. He seemed arrogant and petty. However, after he got thoroughly trounced in a sparring match that he instigated, I found myself thoroughly on his side, mostly because he was angry at himself more than at his opponent. It told me that he does have a core of decency.

Unfortunatley, I was unable to finish the chapter before I had to rush off to work. Don't you hate that?

Monday, July 9, 2007

ACACIA - Opening Chapters

Starting a series like ACACIA is like making a commitment. You know that the series is going to be around for a while, and it is like embarking on an exciting quest, yourself. The quest will take a few years to complete. I can think of a few other series that evoked this feeling. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. A Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin. Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and Otherland by Tad Williams.

Of these, I only finished reading two series by Tad Williams. The Wheel of Time just ground on too long for me. Rand al'Thor lost his humanity and I grew weary of reading about endless Ass Sedai squabbles. I loved Martin books and recently purchased the 4th book, only to feel cheated. Where are all the characters that I read through the first three books? Chapter after chapter went by without encountering any of them, until I lost patience. There is an apology of sorts, at the end of the book, along with a promise that they'll show up in the next book. Too bad. I won't be reading it. Too many other great books are clamoring for my attention.

Durham promises only three books. Who knows? I may want to read on after three books. At least I know that the series will be finished before my first-grader graduates from high school.

Acacia makes a good start. It obviously will have a large cast, since the first three chapters are about three separate people. There is an assassin in the first chapter, a princess in the second and a councilor in the third. They all manage to be sympathetic despite an evil act by one and the planning of an evil act by another. The princess is sympathetic by default, since she is only twelve.

Of the three, I like the assassin the best. I didn't expect this. He is, after all, an assassin. However, he also has a deep humanity about him in that he has good reasons for wanting to commit his assassination. I love all his disguises. However, I fear he is doomed to die. He expects to. For this reason, I hope he doesn't. It would be a nice twist.

The person that he wants to assassinate also has my sympathy. He really doesn't deserve assassination. But this doesn't stop me from feeling sympathy for the assassin. I like this sort of moral complexity. People usually don't just commit evil acts because they are evil. They justify the actions to themselves so that they are good and virtuous. And Durham's characters do the same.

I know several of you have already read Acacia. I invite you to throw in your comments as I put up these posts.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A Trip to the Bookstore

Sigh. Since starting this blog, I don't go to the bookstore like a normal person these days. I go to the bookstore to report on specific titles. For this trip, I went to Barnes and Noble.

For David Anthony Durham's Acacia, I first looked in the front of the store, to see if it appeared in any of the promotional displays or New Books sections. Alas. Very few fantasy books appeared in these sections. So I headed back to the Science Fiction and Fantasy section, where I found it with the New Hardcovers section. It was very close to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, which also debuted this year, in March.

I must say, the cover to Acacia is BEAUTIFUL. The graphics available on the Internet do not do it justice. It is mostly a matte finish, but has this shiny oval filigree that is only visible when held at an angle.

Once I had picked out a nice, pristine copy, I headed to the Ws to see how they positioned Wraith by Phaedra Peldon. It is a trade paperback, which always stands out, placed spine-out. Then I went around to the Rs to check out Lane Robin's Maledicte. Its cover was also stunning. As far as trade paperbacks go, it is rather larger than usual. It was also placed spine-out.

Of these two, I may end up featuring Wraith. Maledicte looks fascinating, but I've never read much dark fantasy and I'm afraid that I'll end up doing what I did the few times I tried -- that is to say, fail to finish the book. For that reason, I'll continue to hunt down as many interviews and reviews on it as I can. I would also be thrilled if someone would review it for me here as a guest blogger. To volunteer to guest blog on any of the titles that I've mentioned except Acacia (which I've already purchased), please either leave a comment or send me an email to tia dot nevitt at gmail dot com.

More Interviews

I seem to be remiss in not mentioning Aidan Moher's interview with David Anthony Durham over at A Dribble of Ink. I also checked out some other authors and discovered that Melissa Marr also seems to be friendly toward blogger interviews. She has interviews at YA Author's Cafe, Milady Insanity and Teens Read Too. I cannot find any interviews of Lane Robins. If anyone knows of one, please let me know and I'll link to it.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Quick Thanks

I just wanted to say a quick thanks to Adian Moher, Scooper and the Bookie Monster for adding me to their blogrolls during the past few days!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Debut News

Debuting this week is The Wanderer's Tale by David Bilsborough. The author does not keep a website. This is the first book that I've seen since I started this site that has gotten poor reviews. You can read reviews at SFFWorld, Pat's Fantasy Hotlist, and Publisher's Weekly (scroll down). There is a positive review forthcoming at Fantasy BookSpot, so I'll keep my eye open for that.

I have already announced Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely, so I was ahead of Locus Magazine's Monitor announcement this week. It is currently number 3 on the NYT Children's Chapter Books bestseller list. It also has great reviews everywhere, such as the Washington Post, Powell's Books and Dear Author, which includes a parental warning. It's great to see a debut author attracting so much attention.

I have not yet announced Phaedra Weldon's Wraith, which actually came out on June 5th -- just before I started this site. This author apparently does not have a website, either. Wraith is about an out-of-body snoop who spies on the wrong person one night, when he is actually able to touch her -- and leave his brand upon her. I will definitely consider it for a review. In the meantime, there is an an interview at Penguin. I have not found many reviews for it, but I will keep looking.

In my last Debut News, I gave a brief mention of Acacia by David Anthony Durham, and I've since decided to feature it. It is getting a lot of positive attention in places like SFFWorld and Fantasy BookSpot, plus there is a long interview at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist.

I also have not made much mention of Lane Robins's Maledicte. If she has a website, I cannot find it, which makes her the third author mentioned in this article without a website. Is this a new trend? I hope not, since I enjoy reading author's websites. Anyway, I found reviews at SciFi.com and Fantasy Book Critic, and there is a sample chapter at DelRey Online.

Does anyone else know of any upcoming debuts by major publishers that I may have missed?

UPDATE! That positive review of The Wanderer's Tale is now available at Fantasy BookSpot.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Feedback, Please

I've come up with a few ideas for this site and I'd be interested in hearing yours as well.

I decided to put my reviews on a schedule. I am basing this schedule on web traffic patterns that I have observed during the month that this site has been live so far.

All featured debuts will now start on a Monday, and will be featured at least a week. I will put up posts at specific milestones in the book. The first post will be on the first chapter, which is usually available for free on author websites. I will put up a second post when I am about halfway through the book. The third post will be about the ending. And a forth post will wrap-up with all the links I always give on the final post. I will try to finish the book by Friday.

I'll also put up short posts if something really wows me or turns me off. Any extras, such as author interviews or chats, will take place after my last post. If a book runs for longer than a week, I will wait until the next Monday before starting the next review.

Every Wednesday, I will post any debut news that I have been able to glean over the past week. Tips are always appreciated! On weekends and in between milestone posts, I'll put up any relevant news items that I may come across (especially about authors that I have featured), or the odd frivolous post.

Between featured debuts, I may have one-shot historical reviews of books I have read in the past, guest reviews, or one-shot reviews of subsequent books by my authors.

Do you have any helpful ideas?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

An Interview with Jennifer Estep!

Jennifer was kind enough to answer a few questions about KARMA GIRL and her writing in general.

I was delighted to discover that HOT MAMA is told from Fiera's point of view. Could you give us any teasers about this novel?
Sure. As you said, Hot Mama is from Fiera’s point of view (all the books focus on a different main character). In the book, two new ubervillains come to town – Siren and Intelligal – and wreck havoc in Bigtime. Fiera, of course, has to stop them while dealing with the death of her fiancĂ© and her struggle to move on with her life. Luckily, there’s a suave playboy named Johnny Bulluci who’s willing to help her. But Johnny has his own secrets that put him on a crash course with Fiera.

Lots of fun. Lots of action. Lots of romance.

What is your favorite scene in KARMA GIRL?
Probably the scene near the end where Carmen gets dropped into the vat of radioactive goo – and comes out with a very interesting new ability. I love writing action scenes. Plus, it was a lot of fun to finally give Malefica and the Terrible Triad their comeuppance.

What scene gave you the most trouble?
Probably the love scenes. You want your reader to see why these two people are falling in love with each other and how they express themselves. You want the scenes to be realistic and emotional and touching and a thousand other things. It’s a tough balancing act.

You seem incredibly prolific. Did you have a bunch of Bigtime novels written ahead of your first sale, or do you have a writing superpower?
I had the first novel, Karma Girl, finished, and a rough draft of the second book, Hot Mama, done. After I sold the first two books, I started working on book three, Jinx, which is coming out in April 2008. Right now, I’m finishing up the fourth book, tentatively called Nightingale, and thinking about book five, Fangirl.

If I had a writing superpower, I’d want it to be superspeed, so I could type a thousand words a minute and write even more!

Have you finished any other novels that are not in the Bigtime world?
I’m currently writing a novel called Live and Let Spy. It’s about a Druid who’s forced to become a spy. Only she’s not very good at being a Druid and even worse at being a spy. It’s a spy spoof with a strong paranormal element (think Alias crossed with Buffy).

If so, can we expect to see any of them in print or are they permanently trunked?
I hope Live and Let Spy will be the first of a series of books about the same character and her adventures. I do have a couple of other novels I wrote before Karma Girl. I may go back someday and rework a couple of those, but there are no plans to publish any of those right now.

Your website mentions that you have a day job as a newspaper designer. When do you do most of your writing?
I write at night and on the weekends.

What are your favorite comic books?
This is a toughie, as there are so many great books out there. I have to say my favorite comic book character is Wonder Woman. I’ve always loved her. Batman too. I’m really enjoying the new Buffy comic, and I just finished reading Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. It’s a really interesting story with Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and tons of other heroes set in a very grim future.

Please share your publishing story and/or any writing advice that you may have.
I would say the best advice I could give someone would be this quote from the movie “Galaxy Quest” – Never give up, never surrender! I think this philosophy can be applied to a lot of things in life, including writing. If you’re really serious about writing a book and getting it published, keep at it and don’t ever give up. It may take a while for you to find success, (it took me about seven years and seven books before I sold), but it will happen. Hang in there until it does.

Thank you, Jennifer! It's been great!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

KARMA GIRL - All the Info

There's not really much more to say about KARMA GIRL other than the usual last post stuff. I thought the book was a lot of fun with a dollop of depth and lots of suspense. Not only do I recommend it, but I intend to buy HOT MAMA when it is released in the fall.

Here is the Amazon link for the US and the UK.
Jennifer Estep's website and blog.
The sample chapters for KARMA GIRL, HOT MAMA and JINX.
Don't take my word for it! Reviews at Publisher's Weekly (scroll down), Monsters and Critics and BookLoons.

Oh, and I'm posting an interview with Jennifer Estep tomorrow night, after the 4th of July fireworks!

Fred Saberhagen

Fred Saberhagen, author of fantasy and science fiction since 1976, died in June 29th. Saberhagen was one of the first fantasy authors I ever read. I read a bunch of his Book of Swords novels in the mid '80s.

He was 77.

Coming Soon . . .

. . . an interview with Jennifer Estep!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Jennifer Estep's Website

I don't usually review websites, but I loved Jennifer's so much that I had to put up a post on it. Across the top is a graphic of Bigtime, New York, where most of the action takes place. There are easter eggs hidden in the graphic; be sure to look for them. Along the right side of the page are various trivia items that changes depending on the page you are looking at.

If you click on the Bigtime link, you will be taken to a page with more information on Bigtime that even appears in the first novel. It appears to me that every person, place and thing from the book is covered in this page, along with a few things I haven't heard of yet. I am assuming those are from other books.

Jennifer also maintains a blog on this site, and she responds to comments. She has sample chapters from all three of her books (two are forthcoming, and quite soon). You can also sign up for her newsletter in the lower right corner of every page.

She put a lot of effort into this blog, and I really think it will pay off for her. Check it out here.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

ACACIA by David Anthony Durham

Readers who have been around a while will know that I've been looking for a male debut author to feature here. I've decided to read ACACIA, by David Anthony Durham. He is not a new author, but he is a new fantasy author.

You may not think this makes much of a difference, but my own mother feels betrayed by Nora Roberts for going fantasy, and she refuses to read any of her newest books. Therefore, Durham actually risks alienating some of his former readers by going speculative.

From the blurbs, it appears to be just the sort of epic, sweeping fantasy that I like.

KARMA GIRL - Too Fun to Stop Reading

Ok, so I finished KARMA GIRL ahead of schedule. I'll continue to feature this book until Wednesday. I should be able to throw tidbits your way until then, in addition to a final review.

Favorite line in the book: "That's ok. I don't mind. You can take advantage of me anytime."

This book is basically about the birth of a superhero, but you can tell that from the title of the book. The way that the superhero was created is deliciously satisfying when an ubervillainess's scheme to destroy Carmen goes horribly awry. The ubervillainess was deliciously smug and it was great to see her comeuppance. I also loved to see Carmen take on the fabulous challenge of rescuing a superteam without a single power of her own. Of course, she has plenty of explodium, and she's not afraid to use it.

There's a bit of angst in the book, but no comic book would be complete without it. Would we have loved Peter Parker as much without his guilt over Uncle Ben? Would we have loved Colossus as much had he not had such a tragic family life? The important thing is that the angst is not dragged out too much.

I'll post a final wrap-up later in the week, but before then, I want to post a review of Jennifer Estep's fabulous website!