Archive for August, 2017

Hello, now that summer is drawing to a close, we’re coming into prime book release time.  As usual, I have a metric tonne of books about whose release I am super excited.  Some of these are continuations of series in which I am already invested, some are new series from authors I love and some are reissues of old favourites.  So, let’s get into it, shall we?

To kick off, I was really excited by the recent news that Raymond E.Feist has managed to resolve the ebook rights issue for North America.  While most of his newer works have been released in ebook, his earlier novels have so far been unavailable in my preferred format.  This will all change on August 22nd when his Riftwar saga as well as his Empire trilogy with Janny Wurts will be released as ebooks.  I understand audiobook format will follow later this year.  Although I have read all of these, I am very happy to add them to my collection.  I consider Feist a true master storyteller and if you are not familiar with his work, this is a great opportunity to get started.  Be aware, though,that the series does have a somewhat slow start.  It just gets better and better.  Silverthorn remains one of my favourite books by this author.

Also in August, I will get to experience the mashup of one of my favourite authors with one of my favourite characters with the release of Leigh Bardugo’s take on Wonder Woman.  I’ve always adored this superhero and I can’t wait to read Bardugo’s take on her.  Wonder Woman: Warbringer is a coming-of-age story set before Diana of Themiscyra becomes Wonder Woman.  Sounds awesome.  Wonder Woman: Warbringer is released on August 29th.

On September 5th we have the release of Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas, the next instalment in the Throne of Glass series.  I think I’m unusual amongst Maas fans in that I’m more invested in the Throne of Glass series than her Court of Thorns and Roses series.  In fact, I’ve not yet read the third book in the latter series.   Tower of Dawn focusses on Chaol Westfall.  I look forward to reading about the continuation of this story.

Moving onto October, and this is going to be a really painful month for my bank balance.  

At some point in October, date not yet specified, we have the release of Harry Potter in his 80th translation – Scots.  The title is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stane.  Note this is isn’t Gaelic, but the lowland Scots dialect that I grew up hearing.  This will be a fascinating read, I’m sure. 

First off on October 3rd we have the release of the culmination of Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle, The Core.  I really love the wordbuidling in this series and am engaged in the stories of our protagonists  It takes a great deal of skill to write two characters who are both equally honourable, equally justified in their opposing beliefs and who both want the best for their world – and who are in direct conflict.  The previous instalment finished on a real cliffhanger, so I can’t wait to read the conclusion.

Ian Doescher will publish the next installment in his William Shakespeare’s Star Wars saga with The Force Doth Awaken on October 3rd.  In this series he reworks the Star Wars screenplays as if they were written by Shakeapeare complete with iambic pentameter.  This time I was overjoyed to see that Random House Audio is once again producing a full cast audiobook production.  Do yourselves a favour and pick up the audiobook – Shakespeare (and Star Wars) are not meant to be read but to be experienced through performance, and if previous instalments are any guide, this will knock it out of the park.  These audiobooks are presented like a radio production and the production values are incredible.  I can’t recommend them highly enough and can’t wait to listen to this one.

Robert Langdon returns on October 3rd in Dan Brown’s latest novel, Origin.  While I wouldn’t call Brown’s writing great literature, they are very entertaining reads and I’m looking forward to this one.

Also on October 3rd we have the release of Ringer by Lauren Oliver.  This is the sequel to Replica.  While I didn’t find the characters or plot of Replica anything special, I was intrigued by the format;  the book can be read in multiple ways.  Either you can read Gemma’s story through first, or Lyra’s – or read them chapter by chapter.  This is enough to make make me want to read the second book.  

October 10th is the book birthday of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black’s The Silver Mask. This is the fourth in the Harry Potteresque Magisterium series.  The synopsis for this book is very vague about the magic and the mystery intesifying.  I have really enjoyed this series so far, and am looking forward to the continuation.

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater is another book I’m anticipating.  This is a new series from the creator of the The Raven Cycle., which gave me such a book hangover.  I don’t know much about the new series, except that it’s set in Colorado.  Stiefvater’s name is enough for me to autobuy.  All the Crooked Saints is released on October 10th.

Kevin Hearne, author of The Iron Druid Chronicles, has a new seriesstarting off entitled A Plague of Giants.  Unlike in the Iron Chronicles Hearne has created a completely new world for this series in addition to a new mythology.  The synopsis indicates that one of the main characters is a kickass warrior and mother.  I’m interested to see how Hearne handles a female protagonist.  A Plague of Giants is also released on October 10th.

After a break of nearly 17 years, Philip Pullman is returning to his Dark Materials world with a new trilogy entitled the La Belle Sauvage. He describes it as an “equel” rather than sequel or prequel.  It will return to Lyra’ story both before she came to Oxford and as a young woman in her twenties.  I note that Michael Sheen is narrating the audiobook.  I’m a little surprised we don’t have a female narrator, but I’m sure it’ll be great anyway.  The first book in the trilogy, The Book of Dust will be published on October 19.

Moving onto November we have the release of Renegades by Marissa Meyer.  This is a new superhero series from the writer of the Lunar Chronicles.  Again an auto buy for me.  Renegades will be published on November 7th.

Next up we have Oathbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. This is the third book in Sanderson’s epic fantasy The Stormlight Archive.  This is another bookstopper at 1200+ pages or 49 hours of listening.  I might consider listening to the Graphic Audio adaptations of the earlier books to get caught up.  Still, it’s another auto buy for me, despite the fact that I’m not reading much epic fantasy these days.  Oathbringer is released on November 14th.

The final book I have on my upcoming releases list is Artemis by Andy Weir, the writer of the Martian.  I LOVED the blend of science and character development in the Martian and I”m hoping for more from Artemis.  Artemis is also released on November 14th.

Upcoming book releases Autumn 2017 was originally published on Canadian eReader

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I was lucky enough to receive an advanced Netgalley copy of Invictus by Ryan Graudin – thanks so much to Hachette for giving me a copy.  I ADORED Graudin’s earlier series Wolf by Wolf so I was very excited to read Invictus.Invictus is described as young adult time-travel adventure with a dash of Doctor Who (guys, you already had me at “Ryan Graudin,” no need for overkill) and Firefly.  So without further ado, here’s my review.

What I liked

Characters

From my enjoyment of her previous books, character development is one of Graudin’s strengths as a writer and this is borne out by those we meet in Invictus.  I really enjoyed them all and was very much invested in their journeys, romances and challenges.  Each person was nicely developed with his or her quirks, wishes and weaknesses.  The interrelationships between them all were very well done and I really enjoyed seeing how they developed.  Certain characters start out as quasi antagonists, but by the end, I came to care for them as much as for our heroes.

Plot

Without saying too much – spoilers!- I did like where Graudin went with the storyline.  There are some really nicely done twists.  Enjoy.

What I didn’t like

Worldbuilding 

Don’t get me wrong; I loved what we got in terms of worldbuilding. The world and story did fit together well.  However, I would have liked a lot more.  There was so much we didn’t know about the world Graudin has created and the book was the poorer for it.  For example, time travel; awesome!  But what are the rules in this world?  What are the consequences of breaking those rules?  What are the limitations?  As I’ve said often before, you can learn as much about a system by what you can’t do as what you can do.  To return to that old chestnut, can you go back and kill Hitler in Far’s world?  These are all questions I had which weren’t answered in the book.  I think I see where Graudin was going, but I would have liked a fuller explanation.

In a similar vein, I would have loved to have seen some of Far’s and his friends’ adventures prior to the attempted heist that started this particular story.  I would have enjoyed seeing his crew handle a couple of successful missions.  It would also have added to the character development.

I would have liked to have seen this as a duology, with expanded worldbuilding and more shenanigans developed.  There is a natural breaking point halfway through the book which would have been an excellent point to make the reader wait to build excitement for the second part.   

All in all, I really enjoyed Invictus and gave it four stars out of five.

four-stars

Invictus by Ryan Graudin – Review was originally published on Canadian eReader

Hello, I thought I’d give you an update into my adventures in the Amazon Echo and home automation.  I’m still really enjoying my virtual assistant.  Since my last post I’ve added a few more items to my home automation setup.  My home now includes two Philips Hue Bloom lights, a Philips Hue Go (thank you, employer, for your rewards program 😀 ) a Harmony hub and a second Amazon Echo Dot for our bedroom.  My husband prefers more tried and true methods of controlling our home, but even he has occasionally tried having Alexa control stuff.  It certainly amuses him when Alexa doesn’t quite… perform as expected shall we say.

The part of my home automation setup I love the most is my Philips Hue lights.  Being able to play around with them is awesome and they can make such a difference to my room.  I think I’ve just about resolved my issue with being able to set scenes with Alexa – you do need to be quite particular with the syntax you use unfortunately.  Once I got that down it was much easier.  The addition of the Harmony hub made combining routines much easier.  Now I can say Alexa, set bedtime and she will turn off the living room lights, turn on a nightlight in the bathroom and turn on the bedroom lights to a gentle glow for me.  

I also tried to configure geolocation as well so that our hall lights will turn on as soon as I (or to be more specific, my iPhone) gets near home.  I only set it up a couple of days ago and so far I’ve not been out after dark to test it.  We lead a quiet life!

My impression of the Harmony hub is somewhat mixed.  I’ve not had the time to really configure it yet.  I’ve set it up to do some basic things like turn on and off my TV and dim the lights, but configuration of it to work perfectly will take a bit of time.  I’ll continue to work on it though.  I do like how it combines managing my entertainment systems and my Philips Hue lights together, so that one command will turn on the TV and Apple TV, switch to Netflix and dim the lights.  It’s neat.

I really wish Amazon would provide support for the Echo in Canada.  There’s a lot you can do, but also a lot that is missing, specifically location based information.  It would be lovely not to have to add “in Montreal” when asking for the weather or to be able to ask when the local Home Depot is open.  My Alexa goal is to be able to ask her when the next number 57 bus to town will leave!

Let me know of your experiences with home automation in the comments.

Update on the Amazon Echo and Home Automation was originally published on Canadian eReader