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On Urban Fantasy…

If anyone actually knows me IRL, I’m a definite bookaholic.  I love reading.  Always have.  From the first time I read “Seven Chinese Brothers” in my Granny’s biiig storybook when I was six or seven, to the horror and sci-fi books of adolescence, I’ve always read.  I haven’t completely catalogued my current collection, but I am up to 603 books.  That’s only the ones in print.  I have hundreds more in ebook format.  Heck, I even have a few comics stashed somewhere.

Thing is, I don’t stay with one genre.  I’ll go from high fantasy, to horror, to military sci-fi.  Currently, I’m on an Urban Fantasy kick.  Urban Fantasy, if you’re not aware, is a fairly recent genre that puts supernatural, magical, or mythical characters, powers, or situations into modern (not necessarily “urban”) settings.  A good example are the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.  Wizard in Chicago?

I’ve recently started reading several new (to me) authors.  Among them Kim Harrison, author of the “The Hollows” series.  I’ve also started reading Rachel Caine, author of the “Weather Wardens” and the new “Outcast” series.  Also Patricia Briggs, Devon Monk, and Stephenie Meyer.  Now, all of these authors have something in common that I’m curious about.  No, it’s not that they’re all women.  I have many authors of both the male and female persuasion that I love.  It’s close to that, though.  All of these authors have their main protagonist as women.  Usually strong, kick-ass women.  All of these series are worth reading.  They’re all well written stories, with excellent character development.  Looking on the bookshelves right now is almost like going to a Buffy the Vampire Slayer convention.

I’m just a little curious why the genre seems to be skewing that way.  Just a kind of offhand observation.  I really am into the “Alpha and Omega” series by Patricia Briggs, and I’m going to get her “Mercy Thompson” series as well, since the two are set in the same world.  Also, the new “Outcast” series by Rachel Caine is turning out to be pretty interesting.  I haven’t even finished the first book yet, and I’m already feeling good about the series.  Very emotionally charged so far.

Ok, I suppose I didn’t really have a point to this post, except for this:  Don’t read the Gormenghast trilogy unless you WANT to gouge your eyes out with a grimy spoon.

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Science Fiction & Fantasy from Baen Books – Home Page

Science Fiction & Fantasy from Baen Books – Home Page

I’ve talked about Baen Books in passing before, but I thought I’d  devote a whole post to them.  Baen Books has been my favorite publisher for years.  Their stable of authors has included some of my all time favorite SciFi/Fantasy authors.  Mercedes Lackey, David Weber, and more recently John Ringo and others have kept me entertained for years.  Baen has always been a progressive publisher, but with the rise of ebooks, they’ve catapulted into readership stardom.  Check out what people are saying about them on Amazon.com…Link to Reviews.

The biggest thing about Baen Books’ ebooks that push them far ahead of all other publishers, is the fact their ebooks are released DRM-free, with no restrictions on who you can lend them to, or any other encumbrance.   Additionally, the ebooks cost LESS than the print version.  When I look on Amazon or other publisher sites, the ebooks always cost the same or MORE than the printed version of a book I’m wanting to buy.  What foolishness is this???  Ebooks are cheaper to distribute.  They shouldn’t cost MORE than a book that costs much more to make!  Also, Baen books pays higher royalties to authors for ebooks.  That’s right, they pay MORE to an author for a book that costs LESS to produce.  Of all current publishers, it appears that Baen is the only one being run by people with some common sense.

I’m a devoted reader of their ebooks, and in fact I own every current Webscription month.  I go to the local public library, and I still buy paper books, but every month, I pay $15, and get FOUR to SIX currently released novels.   Try to do that with Del Rey, Tor, or any other publisher.  Won’t happen.  With their ebooks priced at around $8 (the same price as a paperback), you’ll only get two for that price.  And they’ll be locked down to one device/computer, with DRM dripping from the seams.

All-in-all, Baen Books is my favorite publisher, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

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Storm Front: – Jim Butcher – Penguin Group (USA)

Storm Front: – Jim Butcher – Penguin Group (USA)

Storm Front: Book One of the Dresden FilesStorm Front is the first book in the Dresden Files series. Now, if you’re a big SciFi Channel fan, then you’ve probably already seen the new series “The Dresden Files”. But I’ve actually had this book for years. I read it not too long after it was published back in 2000, and loved it. But typical of me, I forgot all about the series. I’ve often had that problem. I have many first and second books of series that I just simply forgot about, and never found them again. Luckily for me, not long after I saw the promos for the new SciFi channel series, I was looking through my shelves for an old book to re-read, and found Storm Front. I went, “Dresden Files? Isn’t that the new series I’ve been hearing about? I didn’t know I had the book!” What a surprise! A quick look on Amazon.com for Jim Butcher (the author) found not one, but eight novels. I’ve recently bought books 2 and 3, but I wanted to point out book 1 especially. As the first book, it sets the tone for the series. A cross between the hard-boiled detective novels of yesteryear, and modern fantasy novels. The main character, Harry Dresden, is cynical, careworn, and sarcastic as only a hardbitten (and hungry) detective can be. He just also happens to be a powerful wizard. Unfortunately, “powerful” isn’t usually enough to keep from getting the crap beat out him. What I enjoy most about the first three books I’ve read, is that Dresden, while he is a powerful wizard, uses magic as only a tool. Every mystery he’s solved, was solved by using his most powerful tool: his brain. Sure, it’s usually AFTER he’s gotten beat upon, but still, he figures out what’s going on in the end. If you like modern horror/fantasy, pick up this series. You won’t be disappointed.

A note on the SciFi channel series. While it has a lot of the same characters, its tone is completely different. Harry Dresden in the TV series just doesn’t have the same “feel”. I prefer the books. I like the TV series, but the books are better. Big surprise, huh?

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Unto The Breach by John Ringo – Baen Books

Unto The Breach by John Ringo – Baen Books

Cover Image “Unto The Breach” is another in book in the Ghost series of novels by John Ringo. Warning: This is not for children! It has strong sexual content, and a lot of violence. Still, it’s a very good book. I love most of John’s books. He writes well, and his books tend to be controversial or at least very politically INcorrect. This one is no different.

If Harlequin wrote romance novels for men, this would exemplify them as a genre. Guns, sex, women, and violence. What more could a guy want? You can’t help but chuckle when the main character gets to blow up terrorists, save the damsel in distress, and show her that “happily ever after” actually means “happily ever after in bed”.

In this fourth novel, Michael Harmon, aka Mike {insertnamehere} and the Keldara are tracking down terrorists (a hobby of Mike’s), rogue Russian bio-scientists (will they never learn?) and a doomsday weapon (fortunately, one of Mike’s specialties).

Without giving away too much, Mike and his trusty band of Viking warriors sneak across a border to attack terrorists with a super-smallpox bio-weapon.  It’s considered impossible, which is why Mike is asked to do it.  It’s as exciting as all the other books, so if you enjoyed them, you’ll enjoy this one as well.  This series is going strong, and Ringo hasn’t let it lose it’s sparkle.  So check it out!

Remember that Baen books sells ebooks of frontline authors much, much cheaper than any other publisher, and even has free ones available.  So check the link above out.  Buy it, read it, love it!

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