February 2013

Exciting news from Book View Café:

February 12, 2013 — Book View Café (BVC) is pleased to announce its first wholly owned title to hit the New York Times bestseller list (http://nyti.ms/ge6V1A). Chris Dolley’s FRENCH FRIED, a hilarious memoir detailing the author’s experiences with identity theft in the south of France, is listed with this week’s top sellers in nonfiction ebooks.

While most of Book View Café’s authors are major award nominees or best sellers, Dolley’s FRENCH FRIED marks the first title published by Book View Café to make the NY Times list.

Dolley credits BVC for much of his success. “Working with Book View Cafe is an author’s dream,” he says. “A publisher who listens, supports, advises and innovates. And has 40 of the savviest brains in publishing only an email away.”

Book View Café has been growing steadily since its inception in 2008. The number of authors joining the group has grown along with the number of books published. With authors such as Sherwood Smith, Patricia Rice, and Judith Tarr regularly publishing their backlists and new titles too, BVC is able to put out over forty new titles a year.

BVC ebooks are available at more than 25 online retailers worldwide including Amazon, B&N, Apple, Kobo, and Waterstones. The publisher has recently begun offering their books through libraries as well, establishing relationships with Overdrive and Wheelers. They sell directly to libraries such as Douglas County Libraries, too. Their books have been distributed through libraries in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, and Singapore. And soon select BVC titles will be translated into Chinese.

For more information on Book View Café or its authors, contact media.relations@bookviewcafe.com.

Visit the website at http://www.bookviewcafe.com.

French original: Vingt mille lieues sous les mers
Finnish translation: Kapteeni Nemo merten syvyyksissä
Publication year of the original: 1870
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2011
Finnish translator: Kristina Haataja
Format: print
Page count: 287

In 1866 many people on sailing ships have seen a mysterious sea monster and it has even damaged some ships. People in many countries are speculating what the strange, gigantic creature could be. Soon, the US sends a ship to end the creature’s threat to the ship lines. The ship’s captain invites professor Aronnax, his servant Conseil, and a famous Canadian harpooner Ned Land.

The ship Abraham Lincoln searches the seas for months until it finds the monster. At first the creature astonishes the men with its speed, because no matter how fast the ships goes, it can’t reach the monster. However, when the ship’s captain fires on the beast, it turns out to be bulletproof, too.

During the battle professor, his servant, and Ned Land are washed over board. After drifting for a night, they end up on the beast’s back and realize that it’s not an animal but a man made submarine. They are taken prisoner and taken into the gigantic submarine. They are locked into a small room, but given a good meal. After a day and night, they meet the ship’s captain: Captain Nemo is handsome, tall fellow and he allows the professor to have full access to his wondrous ship, the Nautilus. Aronnax is a scientist and he’s immediately fascinated by the many exploration opportunities Nautilus represents. He’s also curious about Nemo but the captain doesn’t answer any questions about himself. He just says that he has abandoned humanity and that the three men will be his guests for as long as they shall live.

Nautilus begins a long voyage under the seas of all the Earth’s oceans and Aronnax witnesses eagerly all of the wonders Nemo shows to him. They range from fish to underwater ruins and wrecks.

The characters have more personalities than in “From Earth to the Moon” or “Around the Moon”. They aren’t complete archetypes but I still feel that they are quite detached from the reader and they are still more a vehicle for moving the story along than real characters. Aronnax is happy to study everything outside the Nautilus but he doesn’t think even once about the people who might be missing him nor about the world and career he has left behind. He’s not even dismayed at the thought of being cut off from the rest of the humanity. Instead, when Ned Land comes up with escape plans, Aronnax is dismayed at the thought of leaving Nautilus. Conseil is even more of an archetype: he seems to have no life or thought beyond serving his master or cataloging animals. Ned Land seems to me to be the most human of the trio. Right when we meet him, he’s described as hot-blooded and indeed he yells and bellows and demands to be let out. He’s also very interested in hunting and is constantly trying to escape the submarine. Yet, even he doesn’t mention a family or friends in the outside world.

Captain Nemo seems to be a very cold and rational man, except for this hatred of mankind. However, right at the start he says that he’s no longer part of mankind and has no interest in them. Then, he does little things that show the reader that he isn’t an uncaring man. However, in the end we don’t find out his real name, just a hint of the great tragedy which shadows his life.

Like the previous two books I’ve read from Verne, this isn’t a modern adventure tale. It’s more like a travel book where the professor gapes at the fish and the undersea beauties of corals rather than the strange customs of other cultures.

Booking Through Thursday

Not the kind of “love” question you’re expecting for Valentine’s Day. No, what I want to know is:

What do you love most about reading?

Getting into the minds of other people and getting into completely different settings and situations.

The tenth Phyrne Fisher mystery.

Publication year: 1999
Format: Audio
Publisher: Belinda Audio
Narrator: Stephanie Daniel
Running Time: 8 hrs and 01 minutes

The Honorable Phryne Fisher and her maid Dot Williams have traveled to Sydney for a holiday and some cricket. However, as soon as they arrive, a couple of nice young men beg Phryne to investigate “a horrible event”. It turns out that their friend, Adam Harcourt, is in serious trouble. Someone broke into the Dean of Arts’ safe and Harcourt is being accused of it. Even worse, some of the papers which have been stolen were found on Harcourt’s things. But other items remain missing, among them an old papyrus, the Dean’s wife’s rubies, and the Faculty books.

Even though Phryne has promised her maid Dot that their stay in Sydney would be a holiday, she agrees to look into the theft. After all, it’s not a murder. She immerses herself into Sydney’s academic life which turns out to be full of secrets and lies. She also gets to dip her toe into black magic.

Meanwhile, Dot visits her Joan who is married to an ironmonger and they have two kids. However, to her horror she finds out that her sister has vanished and everyone, especially her husband, thinks that she has run away with a lover. However, Dot is convinced that Joan wouldn’t leave her kids. Phryne is afraid that something horrible has happened to Joan but because of Dot Phryne will find Joan. The search takes them to the bohemian side of Sydney. While Phryne knows all about the Bohemia in Paris and Melbourne, she finds out that Sydney is a bit stranger..

We find out about Phryne’s old hobby: cricket. I have no idea if the cricket information in the book is historically true but the majority of Greenwood’s facts tend to be correct.

This time Phryne is away from her friends who usually help her with investigations. Dot is the only familiar supporting character. The new characters are entertaining enough, especially the artists. Phryne is looking for Joan among Sydney’s artists and night clubs, and they tend to be entertaining. However, I missed Phryne’s lover Lin Chung.

Another entertaining Phryne story.

The first book in the SF trilogy set in the year 2062.

Publication year: 2005
Page count: 324 + a preview of Scardown
Format: print
Publisher: Bantam Spectra

Genevieve, Jenny, Casey is a veteran of the Canadian Army. Twenty-five years ago she was in a helicopter accident which should have killed her. Instead, the army replaced her left arm with a metal arm, replaced her left eye with a targeting scope, and put first generation cybernetics into her. She still has flashbacks and nightmares about the accident.

Now, she lives in Hartford, runs a small mechanics shop, and goes by the name Maker. The local gangster boss, Razorface, is a good friend and when he brings in one of his boys who has taken tainted drugs, Jenny realizes that the drugs come from the Canadian Army and shouldn’t be on the streets in the first place. She starts to look into who had brought the drug to US and why. Also, her implants are starting to break down. She’s in constant pain and her neurologist is saying that she might have only five years left to live. However, what she finds out is that her former boss, Valens, wants her back, doing something that’s more dangerous than anything else she’s ever done. It might have something to do with a spaceship that the Canadians found on Mars ten years ago.

The plot follows a lot of other people and a bit fragmentary at first. Doctor Elspeth Dunsany has just been released from jail where she has been for the past 16 years because of her work with artificial intelligences. One of the AIs has become independent and is roaming the net, looking for information.
The AI has been modeled after the physicist Richard Feynman. Elspeth is also pressured into working for Valens on a top-secret project.

A 12-year old kid is playing a virtual reality game in the hopes of getting the grand prize: a full paid scholarship. The object of the game is to become a pilot.

Casey’s other friend is a cop who whose girlfriend has just been murdered and he’s looking into it even though it might cost him his badge.

Unfortunately, many of the characters start as clichés, especially the gangster boss who just wants what’s best for the people in his neighborhood. However, most of them evolve into more than a bag of clichés and become characters who the reader might care about. Unfortunately, the cop and the gangster boss never engaged me but apparently other readers liked them. However, for me Jenny and Elspeth are the most interesting characters.

Jenny is almost fifty and she feels that she has no business still being alive. People she cares about are dead and she isn’t really interested in living anymore. She thinks of herself as a cripple and when her old boss gives her a chance to upgrade the failing implants, she doesn’t want to do that. She’s trying to help Razorface and his boys, and is mostly interested in finding dirt about her former boss so that he can be brought to justice.

Elspeth is a scientist who is more interested in science than morals, mostly. She made several AIs based on famous scientists (one of the others was Nikola Tesla) but she was then a bit dismayed when she found out that one of them has grown to independence. She had a lot of time to think about in jail and now she’s working for the same people again.

The writing style is a bit choppy. The book doesn’t have chapters, just POV changes which are prefaced by time and date. Each POV is usually just a couple of pages long, resulting in really short scenes and then going to the next one. Jenny’s POV is in first person, present tense and the rest are in third person, past tense which didn’t really work for me because they drew too much attention to the tense and first/third person shifts and made the complex plot seem a little bit more convoluted.

Still, the pace is quick and we soon find out that the VR game is something more and that everyone is connected to each other. I liked figuring out the SF references and influences. The world feels very similar to BladeRunner and Casey lives in Sigourney Street and Canada has Clarke Station in orbit.

The world seems to be a dystopia. The weather patterns have changed and so the world has changed, too. US is no longer a world power but more isolationist. Canada has been more or less taken over by a big corporation which runs the country. Canada is in a space race with the Chinese who are presented as a threat.

Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the cyperpunk style: a setting were everything is miserable and you’re going to die young, anyway. I was actually more interested in the side plot of the spaceship than the scheming. It seems like the sequel will have far more space travel.

Collects Uncanny X-Men #526-529; Uncanny X-Men: The Heroic Age (one shot).
I read the issues when they were published in the montly Finnish edition of the X-Men.

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artists: Whilce Portacio, Leonard Kirk, Ed Tadeo, Jay Leisten, Harvey Tolibao, Sandu Florea
Publication year: 2010

This isn’t really a stand-alone story, but an epilogue to Second Coming and a prolog to the next story arc. In the Second Coming, Hope Summers came back to the present X-Men continuity and when she came, new mutants began manifesting their powers again. Cerebera identified five new mutants on Earth, and Hope and a group of X-Men are going around the world to meet them. However, it seems that all of them are manifesting their powers in erratic way and are older than when the previous mutants first manifested their powers. In this story we meet four of the five new mutants: a 19-year old woman in Canada, a young student boy in Mexico, a 12-year old girl in Nigeria, and a man in Tokyo. The X-Men only have to fight one of them; with the others, the X-Men end up saving them from their powers.

Hope also visits her mother’s grave and finds out more about her family. She and Cable went to the future when she was just a baby, so she doesn’t know anything about her biological parents.

Meanwhile, Emma Frost is scheming behind the other X-Men’s back (that’s what you get when you allow into your group someone who tortures other people for fun). While Scott knows that Emma is meeting with Tony Stark, who is trying to convince Emma that it’s a good idea for all hero types to work together, poor Scott doesn’t know that Emma is making an alliance with Namor and keeping Sebastian Shaw a prisoner right on the Utopia island. Hilariously, (to us readers waiting/fearing for the train wreck to arrive, not so to the characters) Bobby is talking a PR woman who insists that if she will work for the X-Men she must know everything that’s going on.

In Second Coming Kitty Pryde came back to Earth. She had been inside a bullet shaped bomb keeping it intangible so that it wouldn’t explode. Magneto was able to get her out. However, she’s still in intangible form and the X-Men scientists are looking for a way to cure her. Meanwhile, she’s confined into a tank which has a low EM field but she can’t talk. When Emma reluctantly agrees to become a telepathic link between Kitty and her love Peter, Emma finds out to her horror that Kitty finds out all about Emma’s dirty little secrets. This is a very interesting development because Kitty has never trusted nor liked Emma and she’s sure to keep the ex-villain on her toes.

I recommend reading Second Coming before this.

Booking Through Thursday

Do other people influence what you choose to read? When a family member recommends something, or a friend says they hated a book you were planning to read … does it affect your reading choices?

Yes, they do. These days it’s pretty rare for me to read a book from a new to me author without first reading reviews or recommendations, mostly online. I seem to have pretty strange tastes so I tend to find out first if the book is to my taste before buying it. For example, I’m not a romance reader so a romancer lover complaining about a lack of romance in a book is in fact a recommendation to me. Of course, if I can find the book in a library, I might try it even if it sounds that it’s not going to be the best book in the world.

But I have several hundred unread books already, so I’m currently trying to read them first before actively searching for new books.

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