The Cusp of Something, by Jai Claire

Welcome to Day 3 of Small Press Week II! I don’t have a great deal of knowledge about British small presses, anabolics so when Elastic Press offered me a review copy of a book, about it I asked Andrew to provide a short bio of his press. He gave me this:

Elastic Press was founded in 2002 by Andrew Hook, specifically to plug the gap in the short story collection market. It has regularly published at least one book every three months since that date, and has most recently released its twenty-ninth title – The Turing Test by Chris Beckett. They publish a mix of genres and have won four British Fantasy Society awards (Best Small Press 2005, and Best Anthology for the years 2005, 2006 and 2007). They can be found at www.elasticpress.com.

I’m impressed. The book I chose was written by a woman named Jai Claire; she looks extremely young, but based on the amount of things she’s accomplished in her life, she must be somewhat older than she looks. She teaches creative writing to adults and has what appears to be the British equivalent of an MFA in creative writing. Her website (here) is interesting although not exactly full of the normal information I put in these little blurbs.

Anyway, The Cusp of Something is a collection of twenty-five short stories; many have been published in other places such as literary magazines. The earliest piece in the collection was published in 1998; a few are original to the collection. The stories all have in common a similar dark, lush tone; some are in first person, others in second or third. They are mostly set during the current time, but they do range into misty times in the future and intimations of the past, as well. The author describes them as literary fiction; most are such, but a few involve magic, mysticism, and the unknown in various forms. Continue reading The Cusp of Something, by Jai Claire

The Duke in his Castle, by Vera Nazarian

Vera Nazarian is the head of Norilana Books, discount a small press born just over two years ago in California. In a strange way, ask reviewing a book written by Vera Nazarian when she’s the head of the publisher would also be an example of self-publishing, but considering that she’s published several other novels with various other publishers, I don’t think this was her main impetus. She’s quite amazing, in that in addition to being the head of the publisher, she also does nearly everything else, including book design, cover design, and web geekery. Norilana specializes in reprints of classics (such as very lovely editions of two of Georges Sands’s novels) as well as original titles; they have more than ten different imprints, and more might be coming. I included Norilana in the first installment of Small Press Week, but I happened to have a second novel (novella, actually) of theirs to read, so I included this one. The Duke in his Castle was published on June 1st of this year.

Rossian, the Duke of Violet, like all the other dukes in his country (all named after colors), is imprisoned in his castle. They have been thus for several generations now; other people are free to come and go, but the dukes, duchesses, and their heirs cannot leave. It is not very healthy for them; Rossian feels that he is dying a slow death. When an emissary from the Duchess of White comes, bearing a box of bones that she swears belong to Nairis the Fabled One, he treats her as a combination of distraction and annoyance. It’s been said that if one of the dukes, duchesses, or heirs can discover the secret of each of the other houses (a secret arcane power), then the spell of imprisonment will be broken. Is that what the White Duchess’s emissary wants? Continue reading The Duke in his Castle, by Vera Nazarian

Small Press Week II at Someone’s Read it Already

A couple months ago, cure we had the first installment of Small Press Week. I’ve managed to collect another five publishers, pilule so we’re having our second installment of Small Press Week (Small Press Week — the Sequel!) already. I’m very happy to be doing this; there is a wealth of small publishers out there, stomach for every kind of book you can imagine.

As I said last time, there are many reasons to publish with a small press; there are also many reasons to start a small publishing company. In some cases, the publishers decided that they could do better in some way, shape, or fashion. In other cases, the publishers saw a hole in the market and wanted to fill it. In all cases, though, the publishers (at least the ones I’ve selected) are dedicated to providing the best product possible for their readers.

Some of the publishers I’ve selected specialize in classics; some specialize in women’s fiction; some specialize in short-story collections. Some are British (actually, 3 of them are); some are American. (I haven’t tempted an Australian, New Zealander, or Canadian publisher yet, and I can only read in English. Unfortunately.) Some have been around for quite a few years; one is barely two. Some we’ve seen before in Small Press Week — the Original; most of them are brand-new to me as well as to Small Press Week.

As always, if you are a small publisher and you’d like to be included in Small Press Week III, please send me an email (see the ‘Contact’ button above).

Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen is from Miami; he’s apparently been writing about Florida and Miami for many years. At the moment he’s a columnist for the Miami Herald; I don’t actually know what his columns are about, allergy but I’m sure I should. He’s written a good deal of strangely funny books for adults, sales including Sick Puppy and Skinny Dip. Hoot is his first novel intended for children/YAs, and considering that it was a Newbery Honor Book a few years ago, I’d say he did just fine for his first time out. It was turned into a movie by Walden Media some time recently. I haven’t seen it yet, because I thought I ought to read the book first. After reading the book, I definitely intend to find the movie at some point.

Roy is the new kid at Trace Middle School; he’s usually the new kid somewhere. His father works for the Department of Justice, and therefore the family moves around a lot. Being the new kid, of course people want to beat him up; one day, as Dana Mathewson is trying to strangle him, he sees a strange boy without any shoes running fast and far. Roy jumps off the bus and follows the kid, but before he can catch him, he’s hit by a golf ball. Who is this kid, and why is he running around without shoes? Secondarily, why has there been random acts of vandalism (pulling up the survey stakes, painting a sleeping cop’s car windows black, removing the seats of the heavy equipment) on a construction site for Mother Paula’s Pancake House? Does someone hate flapjacks? Continue reading Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen

Night Watcher (Watchers, book 1), by Lilith Saintcrow

I’ve reviewed two of Lilith Saintcrow’s other novels here before. Yes, caries strangely enough, skincare that appears to be her real name. She writes urban fantasy and the occasional high fantasy novels; the Dante Valentine series, of which I’ve reviewed the first novel, appears to be complete in five volumes. Her Steelflower series (review here) has just begun; and she has a YA series entitled “Strange Angels” due to hit next year, I believe. She also has a novel she’s serializing on her website; entitled Selene and found here, it’s about a couple of characters who show up in the Dante Valentine series. (Free Book on the Internet alert!) They have a prequel novella entitled “Brother’s Keeper” in the Hotter than Hell anthology; the serial is updated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s got an adult content advisory, as Selene is a sexwitch, by the way.

Dante is a Watcher (no relation to Dante Valentine); they’re members of Circle Lightfall who aren’t Lightbringers (roughly, Good Witches) but who watch over the Lightbringers both while they are outside of Circle Lightfall, and after they’ve been offered membership to Circle Lightfall. Dante’s been assigned to Theodora (Theo) Morgan, who is a rather powerful green witch (plants and healing); the Crusade is in town, and they’re after her. (The Crusade, of course, is a bunch of zombie knights who hunt down witches and kill them, whether they’re good witches or bad witches. They were originally a secret branch of the Catholic church, but now they’re evilly independent.) Can Dante keep Theo alive? Continue reading Night Watcher (Watchers, book 1), by Lilith Saintcrow

Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, by Adrienne Kress

Adrienne Kress is involved in the theatre, buy cialis apparently. She either currently teaches or recently taught drama to 8-12-year-olds; she must be very brave. After attending the University of Toronto, rubella she went on to study and act in London. Her parents are also theatrical sorts, nurse and she not only dedicated the book to them, but reiterated her thanks in the afterword. This book was a birthday present from Ben; I think he primarily bought it because of the title. Admittedly, the title is quite good. This seems to be Ms. Kress’s first novel, although she appears to have written several plays; the second, Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate, will be published next year.

Alexandra Morningside, more commonly called Alex, lives with her uncle, who sells doorknobs, on or near a bridge. She has just started sixth grade at the prestigious Wigpowder-Steele Academy (her uncle is inexplicably on the board of directors), and she has a brand-new teacher: Mr. Underwood. Mr. Underwood turns out to be a descendent of the Wigpowder who founded the school; that man was a pirate, and he still has some treasure somewhere. However, the descendant of the Steele is currently a pirate, and he thinks that Mr. Underwood knows where the map to the treasure is. Before too long, the pirate kidnaps Mr. Underwood. Alex, having very little other family (Mr. Underwood and her uncle have become great friends), must go after him. She’s only ten-and-a-half years old, though. What can she do? Continue reading Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, by Adrienne Kress

Claimed by Shadow (Cassandra Palmer, book 2), by Karen Chance

Karen Chance’s website is entitled “Take a Chance.” I don’t know if that’s her real name or not, health but if it is, diabetes and pregnancy she has a great name for someone writing either romance novels or urban-fantasy-paranormal-spec-fic-crossover type books. (Or perhaps gaming guides.) Her name isn’t quite as great as Lilith Saintcrow’s, viagra 60mg but I don’t suspect anyone’s will be. I reviewed her novel Touch the Dark last week; I ended the review by indicating that I’d certainly read on in the Cassandra Palmer series. Fortunately, I had the second volume within reach, so I could make good on my offer.

Since this follows pretty hard on the heels of the last volume, I’ll cut all plot discussion. Continue reading Claimed by Shadow (Cassandra Palmer, book 2), by Karen Chance

Greywalker (Book 1), by Kat Richardson

Kat Richardson was born in California, healing got a degree from Cal State Long Beach, and lived and worked there for some years before moving to Seattle. She currently lives on a sailboat, with two ferrets (something that will surprise no one who has read this book) and, well, the rest of her family. She’s done magazine work as well as curriculum and technical writing for various institutions. Her books are generally described as spec-fic/paranormal mysteries, in the more literal definition of ‘paranormal’ and not a shortening for ‘paranormal romance.’ This novel is the first in a series; books 2 and 3 are already released, and if I’m not horribly mistaken, book 4 will be out in January of next year. (Books 5 and 6 are already contracted, so we know we’re going that far, at least.)

Harper Blaine is a P.I.; mostly this involves chasing paperwork, until one day she’s beaten senseless — well, actually, to death — by someone she was paid to find. She’s dead for two minutes before the EMTs revive her; after this, she starts having weird dizziness and headaches. Eventually she finds out that she now is a Greywalker — someone who can see into and go into the Grey, the sort of something that separates this world from the next. So she can see ghosts and she can disappear, in practical terms. Unfortunately, she doesn’t like it — not one bit. And now all sorts of paranormal beings are coming to her, since they know she can see them and help them with their problems. Can she make it go away? Barring that, can she help the people (vampires and ghosts) who are asking her for help, and what’s with this parlor organ? Continue reading Greywalker (Book 1), by Kat Richardson

Call for Publishers and Self-Publishers

Recently, otolaryngologist we at Someone’s Read it Already had a Small Press Week. Some of you may remember it, although it was a whole month and a half ago. In any case, we’ve got books lined up for a second Small Press Week — except we don’t actually have a week’s worth. We’ve got three, and we need five for it to be a whole week. If any small/independent publishers would like to have us review their books and discuss their press a little bit, I’ve got two slots open.

Secondarily, we’ve got perhaps three solid examples of self-publishing (people who have opted out of the traditional publishing structure, for whatever reason) and we need two more in order to have a full week. If you happen to be an author who has self-published any work (whether you’ve also published stuff through a traditional press is irrelevant to us) and you think that we’d like to read it, feel free to tell us about it.

Publishers, authors, publicists, and interested members of the public can contact us either by leaving a comment, or by clicking the “Contact” button up to your right. (If you’re reading this via RSS, you’ll have to go to the actual page.) There’s more information up there.

We of course accept e-copies of books for review; unfortunately, our book-buying budget is limited at the moment (got a wedding coming up!) so dropping $20 on a book by an author we’ve never heard of that no one else has ever reviewed isn’t exactly going to happen (not with Tamora Pierce publishing a new book that is STILL not in our possession, it isn’t). However, we will consider any and all suggestions, even if they don’t come with a free book attached.

(Also, um, if you’re a publicist or author waiting for us to review your book and you’re a small press or self-pubbed, well, that’s what’s going on — they’re being saved for a big feature week. No, really. And if you’re none of the above but Stephanie is still holding one of your books hostage, then she would like to mention that she’s very much enjoying it, but at five books a week, she is having trouble budgeting time to finish an awesome epic very long novel, and she’d like to apologize.)

It should of course be mentioned that primarily over here we review SF and fantasy, both YA and adult. Stephanie doesn’t particularly love super-hard or military SF, but she has guest/occasional reviewers who do; some of them don’t like romance novels disguised as SF/fantasy, but Stephanie does.

Again, we hope you’d like to send us something!

Firestorm (Weather Wardens, book 5), by Rachel Caine

Ah, prosthetic Rachel Caine. What can I say that I hadn’t adequately covered in the intros to my eight previous reviews of her books? Well, pill she had a leopard tortoise named Shelley who passed away recently; apparently it was the cutest tortoise on record, phlebologist who gave Ms. Caine sorrowful looks when her food dish was empty. Ms. Caine has been under attack by wasps recently; I think she managed to get them under control enough that she could continue writing. She tends to write books in furious blasts; by watching her little counter, I’ve seen evidence that she can write well over 10,000 words in one day. Also, she lives somewhere in Texas; I do very much hope that she wasn’t much affected by the recent meteorological phenomena.

Joanne Baldwin is still a Weather Warden, although sort of on the outs with the whole organization. After surviving a hurricane in Florida, she keeps her friend Cherise (from the previous book) with her (partially for her car) and goes straight to the Weather Warden headquarters in New York City. There, she realizes that the entire organization is in a shambles; they grudgingly accept her because she’s very powerful (even more so after a stint as a djinn; see book 2) and knows more about the situation than anyone else. Apparently Mother Earth is awakening, and it’s not pleasant. Due to her connection to the djinni, Jo is able to find out a little bit more about what she needs to do to save all of humanity. But will it be enough? Continue reading Firestorm (Weather Wardens, book 5), by Rachel Caine