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Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops Series

John Brown John, translator of the Zamonia Novels

Jim C. Hines author of Libriomancer

Nick Harkaway author of Angelmaker (review here)

Martha Wells author of The Cloud Roads

David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

Mazarkis Williams author of The Emperor's Knife

Rob Ziegler author of Seed

Steven Gould author of 7th Sigma

Douglas Hulick author of Among Thieves (review here)

Mark Charan Newton author of Nights of Villjamur (review here)

Kameron Hurley author of God's War (review here)

Brent Weeks author of The Black Prism (review here)

Anthony Huso author of The Last Page (review here)

Brandon Sanderson author of The Way of Kings (review here)

Lou Anders Editor of Pyr Books

Ian Tregillis author of Bitter Seeds (review here)

Sam Sykes author of Tome of the Undergates (review here)

Benjamin Parzybok author of Couch (review here)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch author of Diving Into the Wreck (review here)

Ken Scholes author of Lamentation

Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker (review here)

Lev Grossman author of The Magicians (review here)

Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded


The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Year Zero by Rob Reid

Alif: The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Control Point by Myke Cole

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
My BlogCatalog BlogRank Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature

MISHMASH | Abercrombie, Lynch, and Inside Fantasy Worlds

Quite a bit has been happening in the SFF world. Here are some of the highlights: Scott Lynch has posted the prologue to the long awaited The Republic of Thieves on his site. Lynch also mentioned he will be contributing to a new Swords & Sorcery anthology titled Conquering Swords edited by Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan with contributions by Glen Cook, James Enge, Steven Erikson, C.J. Cherryh, Joe Abercrombie, and Michael Moorcock. This should be released in mid to later 2010 and will be published by EOS. I'm quite excited by this line-up. Speaking of Abercrombie he has announced the title of his next First Law World book: The Heroes. Here is the synopsis from his site:

Both because the action centres around a ring of standing stones called the Heroes, and because it's about heroism and that (meant semi-ironically, of course). It mostly takes place over the course of three days, and is the story of a single battle for control of the North. Think Lord of the Rings meets A Bridge Too Far, with a sprinkling of Band of Brothers and Generation Kill. It's about war, you get me? Principally it follows the (mis)adventures of six assorted persons on both sides and different levels of command, whose paths intersect during the course of the battle in various fateful, horrible, wonderful, surprisingly violent, surprisingly unviolent, and hilarious ways. With the Northmen: a veteran losing his nerve who just wants to keep his crew alive, an ex-Prince determined to claw his way back to power by any means necessary, a young lad determined to win a place in the songs for himself. With the Union: A depressive swordsman who used to be the king's bodyguard, a profiteering standard-bearer, and the venomously ambitious daughter of the Marshal in command. But of course a fair few familiar faces show up on both sides...

I'm a little surprised Abercrombie is heading back to the North already as I was hoping for something South of the Union, but it will certainly be at the top of my to-read list. The Heroes most likely will not be published until around February 2011, so his short story to Conquering Swords will have to tide us over until than.

Lastly, John at Grasping included me in his latest Inside the Blogosphere question with this edition focusing on Fantasy Worlds. I'm included in the first post as the second entry here. Check out the 2nd half of the posting here.

REVIEW | The Cry of the Sloth by Sam Savage (Coffee House)

This one is a bit different from the typical book I would review here, but I think very highly of the author and many would enjoy Savage's stories as they involve the love of a literary life in some fashion. Sam Savage gained fame for Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife, which was an endearingly sad tale about a rat born in a bookstore that is intelligent beyond his meager stature. Savage again takes up the reins of blending a love for the written word with a sad and lamentable character, but in the case of The Cry of the Sloth he has also created an ill-mannered logophile. Told through four months worth of letters written by the main character Andrew Whittaker, a small-time literary magazine Publisher and landlord of dilapidated apartments is a supreme ne'er-do-well. If Whittaker gets involved in anything it is sure to crumble to pieces. Whittaker is on a downward spiral into loneliness and madness as he laments where his life is while being chased by his tenants who are tired of apartments infested with rats and roofs caving in. It takes a few chapters/letters to get into the style of The Cry of the Sloth, as the tone and often the truthfulness of the letters is seemingly rambling or unrelated. Yet that is often the point and once you get into the meat all the pieces start falling together with cringing laughter. There is a surprising amount of action given the style, but Whittaker's run-in with the local literary community and his attempts at organizing a literary festival more than keep things going. His letters to the local paper were my favorite sections, especially the pseudonyms he created.

Often sad, yet humorous The Cry of the Sloth is one to pass on to friends. I give The Cry of the Sloth 9 out of 10 Hats. Savage has established himself an original niche of short but deep books for lovers of the written word that stay with you. Do yourself a favor and check out his Firmin or Sloth. In the end I did like Firmin more, but that mostly had to do with the character Firmin being so charming and it being set in a bookstore.

Book link: US Europe Canada

Contest for Mark Teppo's Lightbreaker

I have one mass market copy of Mark Teppo's Lightbreaker to give away. Check out my review here to see why this is a great new entry into the Urban Fantasy fold. I brought a copy during Night Shade's big sale a little while back, but I also received a galley, so I'm putting the extra copy up for grabs. I'll be doing an interview with Teppo in next few weeks as well, so stay tuned to the Hat Channel ;)

Send an email to madpye (AT) yahoo (dot) com with your full name and snail mail address and "BREAKER" in the subject line. The deadline is midnight September 8th. I'll announce the winner on the following day. This contest is open to the people of the United States and Canada only. If you send multiple entries you will be disqualified from the contest.


Here is an index to all my reviews to date in alphabetical order by the author's last name. If the line is bolded than I highly recommend you check it out.


Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

The Winds of Khalakovo by Bradley P. Beaulieu

The Sword-Edged Blonde (Eddie LaCrosse 1) by Alex Bledsoe

Burn Me Deadly (Eddie LaCrosse 2) by Alex Bledsoe

Farlander by Col Buchanan

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington

Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton

Spellwright by Blake Charlton

The Patriot Witch (Traitor to the Crown 1) by C.C. Finlay

A Spell for the Revolution (Traitor to the Crown 2) by C.C. Finlay

The Demon Redcoat (Traitor to the Crown 3) by C.C. Finlay

Time and Again by Jack Finney

The Stranger by Max Frei

The Magicians by Lev Grossman  See my interview with Grossman here.

The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman

Horns by Joe Hill

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman

The Last Page by Anthony Huso - See interview here.

Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick  See interview with Hulick here.

The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones

Wolfsangel by M.D. Lachlan

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

The City & The City by China Miéville

The Prodigal Mage by Karen Miller  See my interview with Miller here.

The Alchemaster's Apprentice by Walter Moers

Orcs: Bad Blood by Stan Nicholls

The Unremembered by Peter Orullian

Purple and Black by K.J. Parker

Blue and Gold by K. J. Parker

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Part 1 & Part 2) *Re-read

Fall of Thanes (Godless World 3) by Brian Ruckley

Homeland by R.A. Salvatore (Drizzit 1)

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson - See interview here.

Blood of Elves (The Witcher 1) by Andrej Sapkowski

The God Engines by John Scalzi

Interview with Ken Scholes author of Lamentation and Canticle

Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk, see interview with Sprunk here.

Swords & Dark Magic ed. by Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders

Midwinter by Matthew Sturges

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes

Black Halo by Sam Sykes

Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt 1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt 2) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Blood of the Mantis (Shadows of the Apt 3) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Urban Fantasy

The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer -  See interview here.

Turn Coat (Dresden Files 11) by Jim Butcher

Ghost Story (Dresden 13) by Jim Butcher

Vicious Circle (Felix Castor 2) by Mike Carey

Dead Men's Boots (Felix Castor 3) by Mike Carey

Child of Fire by Harry Connolly

Moonheart by Charles de Lint

Hunter's Moon by David Devereux

Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout

The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny (Nightside 10) by Simon R. Green

The Map of Moments by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

The Golden City (Fourth Realm Book 3) by John Twelve Hawks

Already Dead by Charlie Huston

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey (Sandman Slim Book 2)

Aloha From Hell by Richard Kadrey (Sandman Slim Book 3)

Monster by A. Lee Martinez

Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

Kraken by China Mieville

Couch by Benjamin Parzybok  See interview with Ben here.

Ghost Ocean by S.M. Peters  See my interview with Peters here.

Low Town by Daniel Polansky

Paper Cities An Anthology of Urban Fantasy Ed. by Ekaterina Sedia

The House of Discarded Dreams by Ekaterina Sedia

Dancing on the Head of a Pin (Remy Chandler 2) by Thomas E. Sniegoski

Lightbreaker (Codex of Souls) by Mark Teppo  See my interview with Teppo here.

Heartland (Codex of Souls 2) by Mark Teppo

Science Fiction

Brave New Worlds ed. by John Joseph Adams

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

In the Garden of Iden (Company 1) by Kage Baker

Machine Man by Max Barry

Ars Memoriae by Beth Bernobich

Moxyland by Lauren Beukes

The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition by Ray Bradbury

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Is Anybody Out There? ed. by Nick Givers & Marty Halpern

God's War by Kameron Hurley   See interview with Hurley here.

Sleepless by Charlie Huston

Faith by John Love

The Walls of the Universe by Paul Melko

The Quiet War by Paul McAuley.  See my interview with Paul here.

Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley

Soft Apocalypse by Will McInTosh

Ringworld by Larry Niven

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds

Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson

Diving Into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch  See interview with Kris here.

Metatropolis edited by John Scalzi

Health Agent by Jeffrey Thomas

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

Implied Spaces by Walter Jon Williams

The Mirrored Heavens by David J. Williams

Julian Comstock: A Novel of the 22nd Century by Robert Charles Wilson

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu


Heart of Veridon by Tim Akers (Jacob Burn 1)

The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers (Eva Forge 1)

Anti-Ice by Stephen Baxter

Ars Memoriae by Beth Bernobich

Soulless by Gail Carriger.  See my character interviews of Alexia and Lord Maccon here and Lord Akeldama here.

The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder (Burton & Swinburne 1)

The Last Page by Anthony Huso

The Affinity Bridge (Newbury and Hobbes) by George Mann

Ghosts of Manhattan by George Mann

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest  - A Novel of the Clockwork Century - See interview here.

Clementine by Cherie Priest  - A Novel of the Clockwork Century

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest - A Novel of the Clockwork Century

Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds

The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar

Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

The Clockwork Jungle Book (Shimmer 11) with stories by Jay Lake, Shweta Narayan, Jess Nevins, Lou Anders, Chris Roberson, and more.

See my Steampunk Recommendation list for more titles.


Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Young Adult

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Graphic Novels

Thor: Ages of Thunder by Matt Fraction

The Mice Templar (Vol. 1) by Bryan Glass & Michael Avon Oeming

3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man by Matt Kindt


Horns by Joe Hill

The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle

B is for Beer by Tom Robbins

The Cry of the Sloth by Sam Savage

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper


Was Superman a Spy? by Brian Cronin

The Ridiculous Race by Steve Hely & Vali Chandrasekaran

In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent

Speculative Fiction Reviewer's Database Link-Up

John from Grasping for the Wind has finished the second iteration of his SF/F Link-up Meme. Take a look below to find some other great reviewers you may not be familiar with. For the collectors out there I would suggest The Ostentatious Ogre and Blood of the Muse. Enter the Octopus usually has some of the most interesting Link posts, but there is something for every taste below. I'll definitely be checking out the ones new to me.



7 Foot Shelves

The Accidental Bard

A Boy Goes on a Journey

A Dribble Of Ink

Adventures in Reading

A Fantasy Reader

The Agony Column

A Hoyden's Look at Literature

A Journey of Books

All Booked Up

Alexia's Books and Such...

Andromeda Spaceways

The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Ask Daphne

ask nicola

Audiobook DJ


Australia Specfic In Focus

Author 2 Author



Barbara Martin

Babbling about Books

Bees (and Books) on the Knob

Best SF

Bewildering Stories

Bibliophile Stalker


Big Dumb Object

The Billion Light-Year Bookshelf

Bitten by Books

The Black Library Blog

Blog, Jvstin Style

Blood of the Muse

The Book Bind



Booksies Blog


The Book Smugglers


The Book Swede

Book View Cafe [Authors Group Blog]

Breeni Books


Cheaper Ironies [pro columnist]

Charlotte's Library

Circlet 2.0

Cheryl's Musings

Club Jade

Cranking Plot

Critical Mass

The Crotchety Old Fan


Daily Dose - Fantasy and Romance

Damien G. Walter

Danger Gal

It's Dark in the Dark

Dark Parables

Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews

Darque Reviews

Dave Brendon's Fantasy and Sci-Fi Weblog

Dead Book Darling

Dear Author

The Deckled Edge

The Doctor is In...

Dragons, Heroes and Wizards

Drey's Library

The Discriminating Fangirl

Dusk Before the Dawn


Enter the Octopus

Erotic Horizon

Errant Dreams Reviews

Eve's Alexandria


Falcata Times

Fan News Denmark [in English]

Fantastic Reviews

Fantastic Reviews Blog

Fantasy Book Banner

Fantasy Book Critic

Fantasy Book Reviews and News

Fantasy By the Tale

Fantasy Cafe

Fantasy Debut

Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings


Fantasy Magazine

Fantasy and Sci-fi Lovin' News and Reviews

Feminist SF - The Blog!


Fiction is so Overrated

The Fix

The Foghorn Review

Follow that Raven

Forbidden Planet

Frances Writes

Free SF Reader

From a Sci-Fi Standpoint

From the Heart of Europe

Fruitless Recursion

Fundamentally Alien

The Future Fire


The Galaxy Express


Game Couch

The Gamer Rat

Garbled Signals

Genre Reviews


Got Schephs

Graeme's Fantasy Book Review

Grasping for the Wind

a GREAT read

The Green Man Review

Gripping Books



Hero Complex

Highlander's Book Reviews


The Hub Magazine

Hyperpat's Hyper Day


I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away The Ending

Ink and Keys

Ink and Paper

The Internet Review of Science Fiction



Janicu's Book Blog

Jenn's Bookshelf

Jumpdrives and Cantrips


Kat Bryan's Corner

Keeping the Door

King of the Nerds


Lair of the Undead Rat

Largehearted Boy

Layers of Thought

League of Reluctant Adults

The Lensman's Children

Library Dad

Libri Touches

Literary Escapism

Literaturely Speaking

ludis inventio

Lundblog: Beautiful Letters


Mad Hatter's Bookshelf and Book Review

Mari's Midnight Garden

Mark Freeman's Journal

Mark Lord's Writing Blog

Marooned: Science Fiction Books on Mars

Martin's Booklog


Michele Lee's Book Love

Missions Unknown [Author and Artist Blog Devoted to SF/F/H in San Antonio]

The Mistress of Ancient Revelry

MIT Science Fiction Society

Monster Librarian

More Words, Deeper Hole

Mostly Harmless Books

Multi-Genre Fan

Musings from the Weirdside

My Favourite Books

My Overstuffed Bookshelf


Neth Space

The New Book Review


Not Free SF Reader



OF Blog of the Fallen

The Old Bat's Belfry

Only The Best SciFi/Fantasy

The Ostentatious Ogre

Outside of a Dog



Pat's Fantasy Hotlist

Patricia's Vampire Notes

The Persistence of Vision

Piaw's Blog

Pizza's Book Discussion

Poisoned Rationality

Popin's Lair


Post-Weird Thoughts

Publisher's Weekly

Pussreboots: A Book Review a Day



Ramblings of a Raconteur

Random Acts of Mediocrity

Ray Gun Revival

Realms of Speculative Fiction

Reading the Leaves

Review From Here

Reviewer X

Revolution SF

Rhiannon Hart

The Road Not Taken

Rob's Blog o' Stuff

Robots and Vamps


Sandstorm Reviews

Satisfying the Need to Read

Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics

Science Fiction Times


Sci-Fi Blog


Sci-Fi Fan Letter

The Sci-Fi Gene

Sci-Fi Songs [Musical Reviews]

SciFi Squad

Scifi UK Reviews

Sci Fi Wire

Self-Publishing Review

The Sequential Rat

Severian's Fantastic Worlds

SF Diplomat



SF Gospel


SF Revu

SF Safari


SF Signal

SF Site

SFF World's Book Reviews

Silver Reviews

Simply Vamptastic

Slice of SciFi

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Solar Flare

Speculative Fiction

Speculative Fiction Junkie

Speculative Horizons

The Specusphere


Spiral Galaxy Reviews

Spontaneous Derivation

Sporadic Book Reviews

Stainless Steel Droppings

Starting Fresh

Stella Matutina

Stuff as Dreams are Made on...

The Sudden Curve

The Sword Review


Tangent Online

Tehani Wessely

Temple Library Reviews

Tez Says

things mean a lot [also a publisher]

True Science Fiction


Ubiquitous Absence



Urban Fantasy Land


Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic

Variety SF

Veritas Omnia Vincula


Walker of Worlds

Wands and Worlds


Wendy Palmer: Reading and Writing Genre Books and ebooks

The Weirdside

The Wertzone

With Intent to Commit Horror

The Wizard of Duke Street

WJ Fantasy Reviews

The Word Nest


The World in a Satin Bag


The Written World




Young Adult Science Fiction

REVIEW | Lightbreaker by Mark Teppo (Night Shade Books)

Lightbreaker is Mark Teppo's first entry in the Codex of Souls series and his debut Urban Fantasy effort, which sets a dark tone for the series well. From page 1 you join an exciting chase with the main character Markham as he follows a body jumping soul and Teppo more than keeps up the pace. Things are a bit cloudy with Markham's past, but Teppo quickly covers the highlights yet still leaves you wanting more. I had an immediate liking to Markham even when he sometimes goes about things not in the nicest manner. He is painted as a grey man and an outsider, which has allowed him to learn all types of magical techniques. The story is set in and around Seattle, which was a nice change up from most UF. Lightbreaker effortlessly melds many styles of magic such as Hermeticism, Shamanism, and Western magick with a healthy dose of Aleister Crowley and tarot symbolism. The story gets bigger and bigger quite unexpectedly, especially towards the end. What starts as a unusual chase develops into a soul stealing cataclysm. The first section mostly has to do with Markham wanting to get revenge for a great wrong done him, which is quickly turned around on him a bit too easily. However, Teppo quickly made up for this flaw with a broader story and the introduction of great characters and some cool magic. One of the things I've loved about the past few Dresden Files is the magical politics, which Lightbreaker has in spades with more to come. Lightbreak is a fine entry into Urban Fantasy that is sure to standout from the pack. I give Lightbreaker 8 out of 10 Hats. Fans of strong male protagonist Urban Fantasy are sure to have an immediate connection to Markham and the world Teppo has concocted. There are many plot holes left open, which I hope are address in future volumes. Regardless, the book does standalone on it own fairly well with a quite unexpected ending. Heartland, the second Codex of Souls book, is due out early in 2010 along with a third sometime in the future. I also enjoyed Teppo's short story in Paper Cities (reviewed here), which I recommend picking up. Teppo is an author with a bright future ahead of him and is sure to only get better. Book link: US Europe Canada You Might Also Like: Moonheart by Charles de Lint Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey Ghost Ocean by S.M. Peters

Reading List for the Coming Week

I'll be on vacation next week, which means I won't be tending to the blog as obsessively. But don't worry I have a few posts all set up for next week including a couple reviews and even the start of a contest. In a recent article I mentioned I was picking out books for this trip so I thought I'd post the list. I don't expect to read all of these next week, but the majority will be and I'll probably grab another before I head out. Here is what I'll be hauling with me: The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte - Some people compare this to The Shadow of the Wind. I doubt it will be that good, but even if it is half as entertaining I'll be happy. "A cross between Umberto Eco and Anne Rice. . . .Think of The Club Dumas as a beach book for intellectuals." --New York Daily News Lucas Corso, middle-aged, tired, and cynical, is a book detective, a mercenary hired to hunt down rare editions for wealthy and unscrupulous clients. When a well-known bibliophile is found hanged, leaving behind part of the original manuscript of Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers, Corso is brought in to authenticate the fragment.The task seems straightforward, but the unsuspecting Corso is soon drawn into a swirling plot involving devil worship, occult practices, and swashbuckling derring-do among a cast of characters bearing a suspicious resemblance to those of Dumas's masterpiece. Aided by a mysterious beauty named for a Conan Doyle heroine, Corso travels from Madrid to Toledo to Paris in pursuit of a sinister and seemingly omniscient killer. Part mystery, part puzzle, part witty intertextual game, The Club Dumas is a wholly original intellectual thriller by the internationally bestselling author of The Flanders Panel and The Seville Communion. In the Garden Iden (The Company) by Kage Baker - After my little diatribe on Sci-fi I decide to bring this one along as the series is supposed to be superb and I still like time travel. Library Journal "Baker's witty debut novel is a pip. Full of exquisite descriptions of 16th-century England and the Spanish Inquisition (Baker was an actor and director at the Living History Centre and has taught Elizabethan English as a second language), this is a bittersweet tale of a young woman's first love. The initial assignment for 18-year-old Mendoza, transformed into an immortal cyborg by the 24th-century Company, is to retrieve from Renaissance England an endangered plant that cures cancer. Posing as a Spanish lady accompanying her doctor father, she falls in love with the mortal Nicholas Harpole, secretary to the owner of Iden Hall and its exotic gardens. Amidst the raging Catholic/Protestant powerplays revolving around the English throne and the fervent religious bloodlust of common folk, Mendoza is torn between her task and her love. Baker's story comments powerfully on religious hypocrisy and xenophobia." The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines - I loved Hines's Jig the Goblin series, so I trust him as much as it is a girly title. Plus we all need a little humor on vacation. What would happen if an author went back to the darker themes of the original fairy tales for his plots, and then crossed the Disney princesses with Charlie’s Angels? What’s delivered is The Stepsister Scheme—a whole new take on what happened to Cinderella and her prince after the wedding. And with Jim C. Hines penning the tale readers can bet it won’t be “and they lived happily ever after.” Dishwasher by Pete Jordan - I love funny travel narratives. Dishwasher is the true story of a man on a mission: to clean dirty dishes professionally in every state in America. Part adventure, part parody, and part miraculous journey of self-discovery, it is the unforgettable account of Pete Jordan's transformation from itinerant seeker into "Dishwasher Pete"—unlikely folk hero, writer, publisher of his own cult zine, and the ultimate professional dish dog—and how he gave it all up for love. The Sun: A Biography by David Whitehouse - Science entertainment to break up all the fiction. In The Sun, David Whitehouse takes us on a journey to the heart of our local star and beyond, relating how it was born, the many ways it influences life on Earth and how it will die. He recounts the many myths surrounding the Sun and the fascinating stories of scientists throughout history who have attempted to discover its secrets – occasionally at the price of their lives. The Sun explores the role of the sun for those on Earth, from the earliest civilizations that worshipped it, through its emulation in art and literature to the present day. He describes the inferno at its core, the magnetic chaos of its surface and the furthest reaches of its atmosphere that stretches beyond the planets out into the galaxy. Within our lifetime he considers that changes in the sun will become noticeable, an issue that we ignore at our peril. Finally, David Whitehouse speculates on the future of life on Earth with a Sun that must ultimately turn into a red giant. From its birth in a cloud of gas and dust, its long lifetime nurturing life on our own planet, to its death as a cosmic cinder, this is our Sun’s story Already Dead by Charlie Huston - For my Urban Fantasy fix. Those stories you hear? The ones about things that only come out at night? Things that feed on blood, feed on us? Got news for you: they’re true. Only it’s not like the movies or old man Stoker’s storybook. It’s worse. Especially if you happen to be one of them. Just ask Joe Pitt. There’s a shambler on the loose. Some fool who got himself infected with a flesh-eating bacteria is lurching around, trying to munch on folks’ brains. Joe hates shamblers, but he’s still the one who has to deal with them. That’s just the kind of life he has. Except afterlife might be better word. From the Battery to the Bronx, and from river to river, Manhattan is crawling with Vampyres. Joe is one of them, and he’s not happy about it. Yeah, he gets to be stronger and faster than you, and he’s tough as nails and hard to kill. But spending his nights trying to score a pint of blood to feed the Vyrus that’s eating at him isn’t his idea of a good time. And Joe doesn’t make it any easier on himself. Going his own way, refusing to ally with the Clans that run the undead underside of Manhattan–it ain’t easy. It’s worse once he gets mixed up with the Coalition–the city’s most powerful Clan–and finds himself searching for a poor little rich girl who’s gone missing in Alphabet City. Now the Coalition and the girl’s high-society parents are breathing down his neck, anarchist Vampyres are pushing him around, and a crazy Vampyre cult is stalking him. No time to complain, though. Got to find that girl and kill that shambler before the whip comes down . . . and before the sun comes up. Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon - As mentioned earlier comparing this to The Big Lebowski was all I needed to hear. Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon— private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L.A. fog. It's been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It's the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy," except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Topper - For my male lit fix. The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family—including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister—have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family. As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, it’s a week long attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd's father died: She’s pregnant. This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper's most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind—whether we like it or not.