Supporting Authors Through the Library

I love my local public library.  I frequent my local library more than any other place in the city.  I drop by the local branch several times a week to pick up books I have reserved and do a quick browse on my way home from work.  Saturday’s are special though, it is the one day of the week I go to just browse.  I grew up in a small town and the closest library was one town over.  My mother used to drop me off there while she ran her errands and did the grocery shopping.  That tradition has carried over into my adult life as well.  Most Saturday’s include a trip to the library where I leave with a stack of books.   It is the best bookstore in the world because everything is free.

I love supporting authors.  Without these people that create such fantastic and magical places, the world would be dimmer, a hollow place.  They inject brightness and color to the humdrum of life and without them, well let’s just say that I would not like to think of a world without them.  Therefore, I try to support them whenever I can. I have shelves upon shelves of books yet to be read and I continue to add to them weekly. I try to show my support by buying their books, talking about them, and blogging about them. One other way to support them is through your public library.  One of your favorite authors has a new book coming out?  Ask your library to order a copy, even if you own one yourself.  The new arrival section is a great way for people to find new authors and  I can’t tell you the number of great books I found while perusing it, ones that I might not have bought otherwise.  This is how I found Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind.

Most libraries have a presence online and allow you browse the stacks virtually and request books.  There is usually a place to suggest a new book.  Suggest all formats; hardcover/softcover, ebook, and audiobook.  Typically when I see a new book release, I always check the to see if the library has a copy, and if not I suggest it, even if I own the title. I like going into the library and seeing a book that I suggested in the new arrival section. It is small thing, I know, but I like to spread the joy of reading to others, and give a signal boost to the authors as well.

It is Saturday, how about a trip to the library?  You’ll never know what you’ll find.

For the Love of Audiobooks

I am a longtime fan of audiobooks.  I have a 30 minute commute oneway and usually listen to an audiobook on the drive so at a minimum I am getting about an hours worth of “reading” time.  Lately I have been increasing my listening time during slow moments at work when I am performing some mindless task that does not require intense concentration.  I also listen to them when washing dishes, mowing the lawn, and washing the car, etc.  There are some days that I have gotten as much as 8 hours of listening time. I have noticed that many times events from the story stick with me much longer than when I read the book.  This is not always the case and may have more to do with a really good narrator than my reading comprehension.

A good narrator can make or break the audio experience for me.  Some of my favorite narrators are Nick Podhel (The Name of the Wind), Marc Thompson (Star Wars), Jim Dale (Harry Potter series) and Luke Daniels (The Iron Druid series).  I also really enjoy when the author reads their own work.  Neil Gaiman comes to mind with his latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I moved back and forth between the physical book and audiobook and found the audio experience much more enjoyable.  Neil poured himself into the book and made it come alive.  I enjoyed it so much that I went back and listened to the audiobook again in its entirety.

I get most of my audiobooks from Audible and listen to them on my iPhone, but I get a fair number of them at my local library through Overdrive.  I can download the audiobook straight to my iPhone for up to 3 weeks.  I used to listen to audiobooks on CD but with the rise the rise of MP3 players and smartphones I quickly made the switch.  There is nothing more frustrating than being the the middle of an audiobook and having to switch CDs only to find they are out of order.  I have spoiled many a book by accidently putting in the wrong CD when I was not paying attention.

Some of my recent “reads” are NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, read by Kate Mulgrew, Feast of Souls and Wings of Wrath by C.S. Friedman (both books in her amazing Magister series), read by Elisabeth Rodgers.  All three of these were amazing and made even better by the fantastic narration.

There are also some great audiobook review sites out there.  My favorite is The Guilded Earlobe.  I enjoy his style of reviewing.  He not only talks about his thoughts on the book but also of the audio presentation itself.

If you have never listened to an audiobook give it a try.  It can be an amazing experience.


Book Review: Liar’s Blade by Tim Pratt

Liar’s Blade

Liar’s Blade

Author: Tim Pratt

Publisher: Paizo Publishing

With strength, wit, rakish charm, and a talking sword named Hrym, Rodrick has all the makings of a classic hero – except for the conscience. Instead, he and Hrym live a high life as scoundrels, pulling cons and parting the weak from their gold. When a mysterious woman invites them along on a quest into the frozen north in pursuit of a legendary artifact, it seems like a prime opportunity to make some easy coin – especially if there’s a chance for a double-cross. Along with a hooded priest and a half-elven tracker, the team sets forth into a land of witches, yetis, and ancient magic. As the miles wear on, however, Rodrick’s companions begin acting steadily stranger, leading man and sword to wonder what exactly they’ve gotten themselves into… (text from Goodreads listing)

I am a big fan of shared world fiction. Some of my most favorite books are in fantasy settings such as the Forgotten Realms, Eberron, and Ravenloft. I found Paizo’s Pathfinder Tales through some of the author’s I have read in previous shared world settings. After reading Liar’s Blade I think Golarion is a place I could hang my hat for a while.

Liar’s Blade introduces two reluctant heroes, Rodrick, a sharp tongued rogue, and his partner in crime, Hrym, who happens to be a sentient sword made of living ice. Rodrick is really not that good of a fighter, preferring to use his silver tongue and sharp wits to win the day. When it comes down to a fight Roderick would much rather rely on Hrym and his powers.

One of the best things about the book was the banter between Rodrick and Hrym. It is cutting (no pun intended) and sarcastic even in the heat of battle. It reminded me of Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law in the Sherlock Holmes movies. In fact, Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes/Tony Stark was the first person that popped in my mind when I read Rodrick’s introduction. The duo also reminded me of Frizt Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, which is high praise as they are the epitome of the swords and sorcery genre.

On a deeper level the banter between Rodrick and Hrym revealed a true friendship. It was interesting to see this type of relationship between a man and a sentient sword. When I think of sentient swords I think of Michael Moorcock’s Stormbringer and his parasitic relationship with Elric of Melnibone. This was not the case with Rodrick and Hrym and added an interesting perspective to the story.

I enjoy a good “quest” story. One in which there is treacherous terrain to traverse, deep caverns to explore, and ancient relics protected by formidable guardians. Add to the mix excellent supporting characters; a zealot priest seeking an legendary artifact, a deformed sorceress, and a destiny seeking half-elf, throw in a dash of treachery and deceit, and you have one hell of a fun read.

Liar’s Blade leaves you hoping (and anticipating) more of Rodrick and Hrym and I will certainly be adding more Tim Pratt and Pathfinder Tales to my collection.