Books

would you like an awesome book for free?

I have been remiss in mentioning one of my favorite fantasy books of the year, The Winds of Khalakovo by Bradley P. Beaulieu. It was published by Night Shade Books on March 15th, which gives you an idea of how long it’s taken me to get around to blogging about it. In the meantime, it’s been getting a ton of terrific reviews–no thanks to me–but I figure now is a perfect time to point it out since you can download a free Nook copy now through June 9th for your Nook, smartphone, or computer. (Actually, a few weeks ago would have been a better time to mention it, as I intended, but so it goes.)

I encourage you to grab this remarkable book while you can, because it will cost you nothing more than a few minutes of your time to decide if it’s for you. If you enjoy it, and I suspect you will, maybe post a favorable review, and/or buy a copy printed on a dead tree for you or a friend. I think it’s worth owning just for that gorgeous cover. Look at that artwork!

I had the privilege of reading a draft of Winds before publication, and was instantly drawn to Brad’s creative world-building, colorful and sympathetic characters, unique magic system, and the political intrigue. Plus, you know, airships. Airships! I think Paul Genesse’s blurb says it best:

The Winds of Khalakovo by Bradley P. Beaulieu is awesome epic fantasy with a Russian Czarist slant by an award-winning author. A Song of Ice and Fire meets Earthsea in this highly original and exciting novel set in the Grand Duchy of Anuskaya, an archipelago of bitterly cold islands where flying ships soar on dangerous winds.

If you’re still undecided even after that stellar endorsement, there’s plenty more information on Brad’s site. But the book’s free for a few more days, so might as well check it out for yourself, yeah?

cutting teeth

Please check out these two short videos I cut for Teeth: Vampire Tales, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Each poses a question of the contributors to the anthology: “Would you like to be a vampire for a month?” and “What attribute of a vampire would you like to have?” These were a lot of fun to work on and I’m looking forward to reading the stories when the book comes out on April 5, 2011 from Harper Teen.

The videos include responses from Nathan Ballingrud, Chris Barzak, Steve Berman, Holly Black,  Emma Bull, Cecil Castellucci, Suzy McKee Charnas, Cassandra Clare, Ellen Datlow, Jeff Ford, Neil Gaiman, Kathe Koja, Ellen Kushner, Garth Nix, Lucius Shepard, Delia Sherman, Cat Valente, Genevieve Valentine, Kaaron Warren, and Terri Windling.

children’s literary salon

This afternoon I joined some friends at the New York Public Library Children’s Literary Salon, a monthly gathering of adults who love children’s fiction of all age groups and genres. I used to frequent this series when it was the Children’s Lit Cafe at the now-defunct Donnell branch of the NYPL, but despite my best intentions, this is the first event I’ve attended since the Children’s Room moved to the Main Branch. (You know, the one with the lions.)

The room was mostly full, which is encouraging when the media keeps trying to convince us that no one reads anymore. It’s also wonderful that so many grownups are interested in children’s literature. (There actually were some kids there too, though this seems to be frowned upon.) Betsy Bird moderated a panel on the topic of “Blood, Bones, and Gore: Horror and the Modern Children’s Book,” which featured authors Kate Milford (The Boneshaker), Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark & Grimm), and Michael Teitelbaum (The Scary States of America). The Boneshaker and Dark & Grimm were already on my to-read list, now joined by Teitelbaum’s short story collection of 50 scary “true” stories from across America. The authors preferred to classify their books as scary/creepy rather than horror, which they defined as the uncanny–a twisting of the familiar into the unfamiliar–and an exploration of the things that frighten us in real life.

I was glad that the “ARC cart” is still a feature of the Salon: a library cart full of advance reading copies up for grabs. Have you ever seen a group of avid readers descend on a pile of free books? Watch out! Actually, everyone is polite and orderly–even when someone takes the last copy of a book you really want just before you can get to it. (Not that this has ever happened to me, mind.) I made out pretty well though, which is good since I have three new books to buy.


I love getting early release copies of books, partly because I’m impatient to read an upcoming book I’m excited about, and partly because it makes me feel special to have something before most other people and I’m needy that way. I’m not alone in this, right? Unfortunately, I’m also usually way behind on my reading, so I may not read an ARC until long after the actual book has been published (eg. Fire by Kristin Cashore). I’ve been hearing about Cindy Pon’s Fury of the Phoenix for a while though, so that moves pretty high on my list of next reads, even though it’s on the bottom in this picture for structural integrity. What’s next on your reading pile?

The Salon is generally held on the first Saturday of the month at 2pm at the NYPL Children’s Center at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue. Next month they’re going to discuss children’s poetry on February 5.

spreading some holiday cheer

Stephanie Burgis and Patrick Samphire have come up with something really special for anyone who likes fiction, especially cheerful and uplifting stories: The December Lights Project, an online collection of free short stories “to light up the winter season.” They’re publishing two or three a week through the end of this month, and are already sharing work by many fantastic authors, including Sarah Prineas, Karen HealeyMaurissa Guibord, Sherwood Smith, and of course Steph and Patrick themselves. Check out what they have up so far and keep coming back for a regular fix of warmth and joy, and a reminder of what holidays should really be about.

But wait! There’s more good news for fiction lovers: Senses Five Press has a 50% discount on everything in their store this month, which includes every issue of Sybil’s Garage and the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology Paper Cities, which are available in paper and/or various digital editions. Just use coupon code HOLIDAZE2010 when checking out. Might I suggest you pick up a copy of Sybil’s Garage No. 7?

(Image courtesy of Comics N Things)