The Qwillery | category: Paul Weimer


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Paul Weimer on Civilization VI

Paul Weimer on Civilization VI
“Just one more turn....”

That cry, said aloud or to oneself has propelled legions of gamers for the last 25 years. Ever since the original game came out in 1991, each iteration of Civilization has changed and expanded and reworked the game, sometimes subtly, and sometimes in rather radical departures from the previous iteration. There have been DLCs and add ons for the more recent versions as well, sometimes making a whole new game out of the core engine. There have been a few “spin off” games, like Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, which is “Civ in space” with the added wrinkle of telling a story of transhumanism and colonization of an alien world in the bargain.

I’ve played them all. Since the original Civilization, anticipating and buying the new Civilization has been in my blood. The anticipation of firing up Rome (the Civ I *always* play first by tradition, and the default when I want to play Civ in general) and expanding out that map, exploring, meeting neighbors, and taking over the world, one way or another.

Now, the latest iteration of Civilization, Civilization VI, is now out. How does it stack up to its predecessors? How intuitive is it for new players? Does it still have that one more turn feel?

Therein lies the story.

Paul Weimer on Civilization VI
After picking your civilization, and other options, the typical Civilization screen is to see your Settler, and sometimes another unit, in a small area surrounded by black. Revealing that blackness, finding out what’s there, discovering the world is very much a key Civilization experience. For many people, this is the most fun part of the game, and it is for me, too. So the start came as a bit of a surprise.

That sepia map of the world around is lovely, even if it's not what I expected. I’ve seen this effect used in other games before, other “4X” games that Civilization pioneered, but this is an early marker to a player of previous Civilizations that some things are going to be new. Cities are definitely something that follows this. In games past, cities took up one square, and everything you built, monuments to wonders was in that square. Or should I say, hex. The first four Civilization games used a square grid, but Civilization V, the previous game in the series, changed things to a hexagonal tile map.

Civilization VI takes the hex map further. Cities, and wonders take up space, sprawling across the map. This makes the planning of cities out into a mini game in a way it rarely was before in earlier games. In some earlier games, there were arguments as to the “optimal” build. Here, where you build a city and decide to place its districts, matters and changes things enormously. Not every city can potentially build every World Wonder, as one could in previous games. There are restrictions on tiles for many of them. The Terracotta Army, for example, needs to be built on flat land next to an encampment. If your city doesn’t have an encampment, or the right land next to one, you simply can’t build the wonder even if you’ve researched the prerequisites. It makes city building and planning a far more complicated process than previous games, where one could practically build to a predetermined schedule (assuming no calamities to change the pattern). It also means that your opponents cannot race to the same Wonders as you do without fail. (In Civilization, if another Civ builds a Wonder, no other Civ can build it. There is and can only be one Potala Palace or Oxford University)

It's not all new. Many of the things are still there. Civilizations, some old favorites, and some new ones, and some new leaders for those Civs. In previous Civilization games, Rome was always led by Julius or Augustus Caesar, or sometimes both. This time, Trajan steps up to be your leader, your Optimus Princeps. There are more female leaders than in years past, and some unusual choices in that direction, especially with new Civs like Tomyris leading the horse-riding Scythians, or even the inspired choice of Catherine de Medici as the leader of France. As a sign of things for the future, Greece has a choice of leaders with different bonuses. You can play as the domestic focused Pericles, or as the warlike Queen Gorgo. This suggests, and I hope, there will be more leaders for the existing civilizations in the future.

The speculative element of Civilization VI is in the stories you can create, on maps real and unreal. What would happen if the Japanese rose to power, and had to fight for dominance against the Spanish and the Egyptians? The culture rise of India, even as on the other side of the globe, Brazil strives for similar dominance, while Australia and the United States fight each other. The long story of the Persians, slowly and inevitably conquering the globe. It’s these alternate historical and never-could-have-happened stories that give Civilization VI (and its previous iterations) that alternate historical feel.

But does it have that one more turn feel? Well, in the writing of this review I soon found myself immersed in a game where my Roman Empire was born, expanded, got into tangles with the Aztecs and Spanish (who,much to my disappointment, never got to fighting each other), got into a religious war declared on me by Greece, and eventually wound up sending a colony to Mars, with a science victory for the industrious citizens of the Eternal Empire. So, in the end, the answer is yes.

About Paul

Paul Weimer is a SF writer, reviewer, and podcaster and an avid amateur photographer. When he isn’t doing any of that, he’s often found rolling dice and roleplaying. His audio work can be found on the Skiffy and Fanty Show and SFF audio. His reviews and columns can also be found at and the Barnes and Noble SF/F blog, amongst other places. Paul is best seen on Twitter as @princejvstin.

Civilization VI was released on October 21, 2016. Developer: Firaxis Games. Publisher: 2K Games. More information at the Civilization VI site.

Michael J. Martinez Interviews Paul Weimer!

The Qwillery is extraordinarily thrilled to welcome Michael J. Martinez and Paul Weimer to The Qwillery discussing Paul's trip Down Under! The Qwillery highly recommends Paul's DUFF Report. It is beautifully written and lushly illustrated. And now over to Michael and Paul:

Fan Down Under: Paul Weimer on his DUFF experiences

By Michael J. Martinez

The absolutely lovely humans who run the Qwillery have been early and generous supporters of my work, for which I remain grateful indeed. And yes, I have a new book out Sept. 5, MJ-12: Shadows, the second in my series of super-powered Cold War spy thrillers.

But, you know, I figure if “super-powered Cold War spy thriller” didn’t grab you, I don’t know what a guest post could do to rectify that. So instead, I’m using this space to interview prolific SF/F reviewer, podcaster and super-fan Paul Weimer about his trip to Australia and New Zealand as part of the DUFF program. Because both Paul and DUFF are super cool.

What is DUFF? The Down Under Fan Fund helps American fans head to Australia and New Zealand for science fiction and fantasy conventions, and also helps fans from Down Under head to fan conventions elsewhere in the world. Paul was the DUFF delegate for 2017, and you can read about his adventures in his DUFF Report, available here for $7, with all proceeds going to the Down Under Fan Fund.

Without further ado, here’s the interview:

You've been involved in the SF/F community for a very long time. Tell me about the book, or books, that made you take the leap from reader to fan. Barring that, was there an incident or experience of some kind instead?

The advent of the High Blog Era of the Internet is what let me get into fandom in a real way, rather than just reading quietly. In the mid 2000's, I started to write short book reviews on my then-blog. This led to me participating in an online community that SF Signal was building. That got me gigs at The Functional Nerds, SF Signal itself, and I was off to the races. Podcasting came almost hand in hand with that, when I got invited to a SF Signal episode.

You're also an avid traveler. I've often thought travel has made me a better writer. Has it made you a better reader? A better community member/fan? A better reviewer?

Yes. Looking back on a travel adventure, its framed as a narrative, a story. Its moments, tender pieces, encounters, and an overall story from start to finish. Seeing how I construct my own story of my travels helps me write and think about how fictional stories work, or don't work.

What keeps you going within the fandom community? What keeps you coming back and staying involved?

Stubborness, persistence, determination and a desire to try and do good. I can try and do good, and use my powers to help illuminate authors, books, communities. Besides, I have one of the most mundane and boring jobs out there. Fandom is a way to channel my creative energies and escape the monochrome mundanity of daily life.

How different or similar is fandom in Aus/NZ? What stands out the most there?

For New Zealand, it was its tiny and very intertwined fandom/author community. The con in Taupo got 150 to attend, which means you could drop them into a Worldcon and have difficulty finding them again. There is also a strong recognition of the native (Maori) community and what that historical perspective and narrative brings to NZ SF and fantasy.

Australian fandom felt like a thousand points of light that do not interconnect as much as they themselves might like. The size of Australia meant that a National Convention (which moves every year) is mostly just the local population, with a few infusions from elsewhere. This means that the National Convention every year is a rotating set of people, rather than a repeat of the same far flung community. This gives Australian fandom the feel of a moveable feast.

For that matter, from what you've read and experienced, what perspectives to Aussies and Kiwis bring to the genre that we're missing out on?

The Aussies and Kiwis are very cognizant of being small players in the SF world. Getting visibility outside of their two smallish worlds is something they crave, and even more to the point, even New Zealand writers want more visibility just across "the ditch" in Australia.

There is also a strong ecological perspective in Australasian SF and fantasy, because climate change, invasive species, and other ecological problems are something they live with and cannot escape. It shows in their fiction, and in their panels and discussions.

What authors from Down Under should we be reading?

Plenty, but I will name just a couple: Thoraiya Dyer's debut fantasy novel, Crossroads of Canopy provides a lush world of Gods and life in the canopy of a rainforest. Cat Sparks strongly engages ecological perspectives in her fantasy and science fiction. Readers of Epic fantasy should be reading Helen Lowe, who has been quietly (too quietly from my perspective) putting out a strong, traditional epic fantasy series, the Wall of Night series. Even for its relatively comfortable lines, Lowe features strong female characters and a world where the often overweening patriarchal crap a lot of fantasy worlds revel in is nowhere to be seen.

What U.S. authors do you think would resonate particularly well with Aussie/Kiwi readers?

Kate Elliott, because I think writing in Hawaii as she does, has helped give her a perspective on worlds and societies and a global sort of understanding that Aussies and Kiwis can resonate with. Similarly, Max Gladstone, who has spent a lot of time in Asia, a part of the world very important to Australasia, has themes and ideas that will resonate well with readers down there. Similarly in the same vein, Ken Liu's fiction, both short and epic, would be something I think they could and should eat up with a spoon.

Your report has some gorgeous photography along with it. How long have you been shooting, what drew you to it, and for the photo nerds in the crowd, what rig are you using?

I came very late to photography in my life. Oh, I had a film camera since back in the early 90's, but many of the pictures I took on my first Trip to London them were plagued with pink blobs. I had no idea what I was doing and it showed. I discarded photography as a hobby worth doing for years.

Although I lost the roll and never developed the pictures, my last full day in Orange County, in 2003 was the next major attempt at trying photography again. I tried to document my trip to San Juan Capistrano, and started to feel what I had felt, and denied back on that London trip a decade earlier--that taking photographs of places, of adventures, was something I liked.

I got a digicam not long after arriving in Minnesota, ahead of a camping trip with my friends the Olsons. I thought taking some photos of our trip to Yellowstone might be fun. We went in 2005. Boy was I right. My first attempt at photography on a vacation turned out wonderfully, especially since I had a "big sister" in my friend Felicia, who had a DSLR and was not afraid to use it. I started practicing and learning more after that trip with my digicam, exploring Minnesota with my friends and on my own.

A second camping trip in 2007 to the Canadian Rockies was the clincher. Plenty of waterfalls and mountains convinced me that, yes, I liked this photography thing, especially a travel photography thing, and I wanted to capture better images. I bought a DSLR not long after that trip.

I currently shoot with a Canon 7D. My usual lens of choice is a 24mm Prime lens, although the "beast" of a 100mm macro lens got to see some good use on my DUFF trip.

Finally, waterfalls. What is it about shooting waterfalls?

Why waterfalls? First and foremost, the sound of rushing water makes them an appealing place to be around. I love visiting waterfalls because of the peace and balm they bring to me.

But why photograph them while I am at it?

Because waterfalls are in that space of being static and dynamic, remaining in place and yet ever changing, moment by moment, season by season. I can visit a waterfall in different seasons, different years, and due to the flow, the foliage, time of day, lighting and more, get an infinite variety of shots from the same cascade.

And if that wasn't enough, the sheer variety of waterfalls, from huge curtain ones to thin ones that plunge into a punchbowl means that a new-to-me waterfall will always have something I've not quite seen before.

Again, I urge you to buy Paul’s report and give it a read. It’s a very cool travelogue, has some great photos, and will make you want to book a trip post-haste. And the money is going to the Down Under Fan Fund to keep fans around the world connected.

Michael J. Martinez Interviews Paul Weimer!
About Paul

Paul Weimer is a SF writer, reviewer, and podcaster and an avid amateur photographer. When he isn’t doing any of that, he’s often found rolling dice and roleplaying. His audio work can be found on the Skiffy and Fanty Show and SFF audio. His reviews and columns can also be found at and the Barnes and Noble SF/F blog, amongst other places. Paul is best seen on Twitter as @princejvstin.

Michael J. Martinez Interviews Paul Weimer!
About Michael

Michael J. Martinez is the author of five novels, including the Daedalus trilogy of Napoleonic era space opera adventures and the MAJESTIC-12 series of spy-fi thrillers. His short fiction has appeared in Cthulhu Fhtagn!, Unidentified Funny Objects 4, Geeky Giving and Endless Ages: Vampire. He's a proud member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. You can find him online at or on Twitter at @mikemartinez72.

Michael's latest novel:

Michael J. Martinez Interviews Paul Weimer!
MJ-12: Shadows
A MAJESTIC-12 Thriller 2
Night Shade Books, September 5, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

It’s 1949, and the Cold War is heating up across the world. For the United States, the key to winning might be Variants—once ordinary US citizens, now imbued with strange paranormal abilities and corralled into covert service by the government’s top secret MAJESTIC-12 program.

Some Variants are testing the murky international waters in Syria, while others are back at home, fighting to stay ahead of a political power struggle in Washington. And back at Area 51, the operation’s headquarters, the next wave of recruits is anxiously awaiting their first mission. All the while, dangerous figures flit among the shadows and it’s unclear whether they are threatening to expose the Variants for what they are . . . or to completely destroy them. Are they working for the Soviet Union, or something far worse?

In which I ask several fellow bloggers, "Which book would you give for the holidays?"

I asked several of my blogger friends to name one book that they would give for the holidays. There were no limits on genre, year of publication, etc.  Here is how they answered my question (in order by book title). You should absolutely check out their blogs too!

Mihir from Fantasy Book Critic and Bastard Books

Qwill had put out a call among reviewers for books that would make lovely holiday gifts. Now that is a very dicey topic as there are so many great books out there that it’s almost impossible to decide upon one. I decided to focus on books that I read this year and among them my choice was easy as I decided to go with the one that I enjoyed the most. Blood Song by Anthony Ryan was simply the best book I’ve read in this year and as far as debuts go, it stands proudly among those by Scott Lynch and Patrick Rothfuss. The book has a narrative structure that is similar to The Name Of The Wind and also a protagonist whose talents propel him in his military school setting. However that’s not the only shining point, there are several mysteries that are present in the story and the world settings and not to mention there’s also the devious narrative voice that makes it hard for the reader to decide on the veracity of the tale being narrated. Lastly here’s what I wrote in my review, which I believe encompasses all its salient features and gives the readers the reason why they might want to gift this marvelous debut:

“It has a fast paced, action packed and character driven story. Qualities to admire in any genre story and most of all in an epic fantasy one. Give this book a read, if you have ever felt that Indie books have no quality to them, give this book a read if you are tired of the same morass of stories in the epic fantasy genre, give this book a read if you want a well written story by a newbie author and lastly give this book a read if you want to read a story that’s closest to those written by David Gemmell.”

Blood Song
Raven's Shadow 1
Ace, November 20, 2012

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,
From “a new master storyteller” comes the beginning of an epic fantasy saga of blood, honor, and destiny… “The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm.” Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order. The Brothers of the Sixth Order are devoted to battle, and Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate, and dangerous life of a Warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord of the Empire of King Janus. Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright and dropped at the doorstep of the Sixth Order like a foundling knows no bounds. He has little memory of his mother, and what he will come to learn of her at the Order will confound him. His father, too, has motives that Vaelin will come to understand. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the Empire, but the world.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Books-A-Million (hardcover) : IndieBound (hardcover)

Blood Song is being published in Hardcover by Ace in July 2013.

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,
About Mihir:  Mihir Wanchoo is a physician and also a longtime reader of speculation fiction in all its forms. He is an avid book collector and contends that while e-books are fascinatingly easy to keep, he will not ever want to give up his physical collection.

Mihir was born and brought up in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. As a child his favorite pastime was to be lost in books, comics and historical stories, since he was born into a culture rich in mythology and history therefore he contends his love with those is a thing of fate. His reading interests range from mystery/thrillers to epic fantasy to historical fiction and lastly to urban fantasy. His favorite mystery writers are Jeffrey Deaver, John Connolly and Douglas Preston, amongst fantasy he is fascinated by David Gemmell, J. K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin, lastly he also loves the works of James Clemens/Rollins, Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews, Tad Williams among others.

Mihir is also an avid fan of the Indian Cricket team and Chelsea Football Club, it would be safe to say Blue is his favorite color. He currently lives in Minnesota with his patient and loving wife, and is ever looking forward to discovering new authors and old books.

Mihir is a member of the Fantasy Book Critic team and Bastard Books blog. On both blogs he helps out with Reviews, Interviews and managing FBC’s Facebook page as well as its Twitter page.


Justin from Staffer's Book Review

I'm writing a review for the second book in this series as I type this, but there is not a better piece of fiction published in genre over the last two years than Howard Andrew Jones' The Desert of Souls. Told in the tradition of Arabian folk tales One Thousand and One Nights, Desert of Souls and its sequel, Bones of the Old Ones, are perfect examples of modern sword and sorcery. Part Harold Lamb, part Robert E. Howard, and mostly just himself, Jones has crafted two quick, interesting, and entertaining novels that have far more to say in them than many novels three time their length. If you want to give someone a book they never expected to love for the holidays, start with Desert of Souls. I'm confident a purchase of Bones of the Old Ones will be right behind it.

The Desert of Souls
St. Martin's Press, January 17, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,  
The glittering tradition of sword-and-sorcery sweeps into the sands of ancient Arabia with the heart-stopping speed of a whirling dervish in this thrilling debut

In 8th century Baghdad, the scholar Dabir realizes that a jeweled tablet may unlock secrets hidden within the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the sands. But when the tablet is stolen by a cunning Greek spy and a fire wizard of the Magi, Dabir and Captain Asim go after it on the life-or-death adventure of a lifetime...

About Justin:  Justin Landon is the man behind Staffer's Book Review. He also contributes regularly at SF Signal and his reviews are syndicated at A Dribble Ink. Follow him on Twitter @jdiddyesquire.


Paul Weimer contributor at The Functional Nerds and SF Signal

The ideal gift to someone, in my mind, is to give a gift that the recipient desperately would want and crave, but would not necessarily buy for themselves. And it’s even better if that present ties into the zeitgeist.

A small, modest, fantasy movie based on a book is coming out at the beginning of December that some genre fans might be interested in seeing. In keeping with that, my pick for a gift for the 2012 Holiday Season is Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit". Written by Corey Olsen, who is well known for doing a longrunning series of podcasts and lectures under the aegis of The Tolkien Professor, the book goes into a deep and thoughtful analysis of the book, illuminating the writing, characters and themes that make the story timeless. His style is engaging, illuminating, extremely readable, and the book is essential to anyone who loves Tolkien story and work.

Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 18, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,
The Hobbit is one of the most widely read and best-loved books of the twentieth century. Now Corey Olsen takes readers deep within the text to uncover its secrets and delights.

Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” is a fun, thoughtful, and insightful companion volume, designed to bring a thorough and original new reading of this great work to a general audience. Professor Corey Olsen takes readers on an in-depth journey through The Hobbit chapter by chapter, revealing the stories within the story: the dark desires of dwarves and the sublime laughter of elves, the nature of evil and its hopelessness, the mystery of divine providence and human choice, and, most of all, the transformation within the life of Bilbo Baggins. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” is a book that will make The Hobbit come alive for readers as never before.

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,
Paul Weimer is a contributor at both The Functional Nerds and SF Signal and works with the Skiffy and Fanty show as well. You can also follow him on Twitter.


Melissa from My words and pages

One book I'd recommend to gift this year....that's a tough one as there are so many, but I've pondered over this for over a week now and came up with one. (and a few mentions.) Hey, I'm a book lover! What can I say. lol.

The one book I'd highly recommend this year is Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson. Whether you enjoy werewolf reads or not, this one is for everyone. There is a great blend of humor, lots of action, and surprise to the story. There is a blooming love/romance as well. Jessica is one strong character and woman in this supernatural world. So there is the right blend of everything in one place.

Mentions I have to add, as I loved them as well:
Urban Fantasy ~ Bloodlines by Skyla Dawn Cameron (I'm a long time fan of this series)
Fantasy ~ Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan (Again a long time fan of this series)
Science Fiction ~ with Romance, Start with the Novella The High Priestess by Katee Robert in Sanctify series

Full Blooded
Jessica McClain 1
Orbit, September 11, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,
After living in hiding for the last twenty-six years, Jessica wakes up to find she's become a full-blooded werewolf -- claws, fangs, fur, everything. It was never supposed to happen: female werewolves don't exist.

When a mercenary killer comes looking for her, her Pack finds themselves caught in the middle of a war. They must rise up to protect her, but no one knows if she's means the end of their race-or just a new beginning.

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,
About Melissa:  A bookkeeper by day and fantasy reader by night (and when can slip into books on lunch hour) with a family who shakes their heads at me, as I always have my nose buried in a book, and two German Shepard's that relax with me. I enjoy visiting my own version of the world, no matter how weird and distorted it may be -- there is always magic there to explore -- hence the blog name My words and pages.


Bastard from Bastard Books

I already know what books I'm getting for myself this Christmas, but what novel should you gift to someone else you ask? The first book that came to mind, and the more I thought on it the better the choice became, was the omnibus of The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron which collects the first three novels in the series. I really feel you can't go wrong with this choice, without knowing the particulars of the individuals who'll be receiving the gifts, this series has a very broad audience. It's fun, it's dynamic, and a strong (and did I mention fun) group of characters you won't mind spending your time with. Plus it has a lot of adventure and action. It starts light-hearted, but it becomes darker as the series goes along, but it never lets go of its fun nature that should appeal to just about anyone. The last book of the series was published last month, so it's the perfect time to begin the series. It has very good price, and they'll be getting three novels in one. Seems like a great deal to me.

The Legend of Eli Monpress
Eli Monpress Omnibus
Orbit, February 24, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 1040 pages

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,
Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief.

But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age - and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start small for now. He'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while.

Like a king.

The Legend of Eli Monpress includes the novels: The Spirit Thief, The Sprit Rebellion, and The Spirit Eater.

About Bastard:  Bastard from Bastard Books (and other crap) blog swears he has psychic powers. Hated reading through all his life, but laziness forced him to become an avid reader. Now he can't get enough. Die hard Boston sports fan, except the Patriots (they suck). Currently counting the days until Jack Bauer's return. If you talk to him, chances are he's doing so naked.

You can find him on his website which he shares with Mihir Wanchoo, his Twitter @BastardBooks, Facebook Page, Goodreads, and Google+.


Natasha from Wicked Little Pixie

I would gift Libriomancer by Jim Hines. it's the start of a new series and is totally original, his sidekick is a fire spider! I had never read Hines before and had only heard about his hilarious self through his cover model exploits. So glad I picked up Libriomancer and would totally gift it to the book readers in my life.

Magic Ex Libris 1
DAW, August 7, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,
Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,
About Natasha:  Natasha Carty reviews Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy on her website Wicked Little Pixie and lives in Toronto, Canada, with her cat, Seamus. Find Natasha on Facebook and Twitter.


Kristin from My Bookish Ways

When Sally asked me to pick a book (from any year) that I’d give as a gift, I hemmed and hawed a bit. This was a hard one. There are sooooo many good ones, especially from the last year, and if I add all the wonderful books from all the years before, ALL the years I’ve been reading (we’re talking, say, from 1986 on-yes, now you know about how old I am), my brain feels like it’s going to explode. So, I’m going to cheat a bit here, and before I get to the main event, I’m going to ask that you make sure to take a look at releases from Robert Jackson Bennett, John Hornor Jacobs, Stephen M. Irwin, and James Renner-and that’s just the tip of this year’s awesome. Can you tell that this was agonizing for me?

So, without further ado, my gift book pick is…Salsa Nocturna by Daniel José Older.

Salsa Nocturna is the author’s first collection of 13 intertwining stories that take place in the city he loves so much, New York. Carlos, a half-dead soul collector (resurrection-gone-wrong) who works for the Council of the Dead, and is disgruntled at how his bosses are running things, is one of his most prominent characters, and Tenderfoot, the first story in the book, introduces him in a wonderful way. Then you’ll meet Gordo, the portly musician and protector of the city’s children. Those are only two of the wonderful cast of characters, but you’ll immediately fall in love with each story, and each inhabitant of the magical, and ghostly, world that Older has created. The stories are by turns terrifying and tender and the writing is flawless. The prose is a sparkling display of light and sound in words, which is no surprise, since the author is a musician himself. Themes of love, loss and yearning are explored and the radiance of the human spirit is always at the forefront.

Salsa Nocturna has much to love for fans of urban fantasy, horror, and even noir. There’s a reason this novel is called “ghost noir”, after all. It works perfectly as a gift because at 137 pages, it takes no time to read, and you certainly don’t have to read the stories all together (though you may not be able to resist doing so). In my review, I called it “flawless.” That tells you pretty much everything right there!

Salsa Nocturna
Crossed Genres, July 13, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 144 pages

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,
A 300 year-old story collector enlists the help of the computer hacker next door to save her dying sister. A half-resurrected cleanup man for Death’s sprawling bureaucracy faces a phantom pachyderm, doll-collecting sorceresses and his own ghoulish bosses. Gordo, the old Cubano that watches over the graveyards and sleeping children of Brooklyn, stirs and lights another Malagueña. Down the midnight streets of New York, a whole invisible universe churns to life in Daniel José Older’s debut collection of ghost noir.

About Kristin: Kristin is a mom of 3 whose superpower is useless movie trivia. The inmates run the asylum, but in moments of quiet, she reviews speculative fiction for her own review blog, My Bookish Ways, and contributes to a few other sites where she indulges her other love of crime fiction. She’s known for her massive library which has already taken over the house, and threatens the entire block. Eventually she will finish her English degree and begin raking in the big bucks, but until then, reviewing books makes her deliriously happy, as does boxed wine, Supernatural, and traveling the world as a secret agent. One of those things isn’t true.


Chelsea from Vampire Book Club

The book I gift the most often is Stacia Kane's Unholy Ghosts. This is one of those books that you can give an avid reader and they'll fall for it every time. Why? It is completely original. The writing is fresh to the point that there is a unique dialect used within the book by characters other than the narrator (as in, it won't grate on you, but adds so much depth to the reading experience). The plot is twisty, which I always appreciate. There are vibrant characters with real problems—no Mary Sue's here!—and rich world that feels real. If you think your reader friend is stuck in a book rut, I highly suggest gifting them a copy of Unholy Ghosts. It's the first in the series, and they'll thank you when they get hooked.

Unholy Ghosts
Chess Putnam 1
Del Rey, May 25, 2010
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,

The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.

In which I ask several fellow bloggers,
About Chelsea:  When not crafting tales full of ass-kicking and kissing, Chelsea Mueller runs the totally fun blog Vampire Book Club, dishes on the latest book and TV hotties for Heroes & Heartbreakers and *gasp* hangs out with her incredibly awesome husband and two giant dogs. She loves bad cover songs, dramatic movies and TV vampires. She lives in Texas and has been known to say y’all.


Which book or books would you give as gifts?

Paul Weimer on Civilization VIMichael J. Martinez Interviews Paul Weimer!In which I ask several fellow bloggers, "Which book would you give for the holidays?"

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