1) Think you can tell an author's gender from the prose alone? Fellow fantasy author Teresa Frohock is running an interesting little contest over at her blog right now. She's rounded up a gang of male and female SFF authors who've all provided scenes that will be posted anonymously. Guess the gender right, and you could win a bunch of free awesome books! The full contest rules are here, and the first contest entry post is here.
2) After the horrible murders in Newtown, I had the desperate desire to lose myself in a new SFF book, but I didn't much feel like reading something grim and/or dark - so I asked on twitter for recommendations of recent SFF that featured compelling characters and hope. People provided a host of great recs! Some books I've already read, some I haven't, but I thought it might be nice to collect all the recs in one spot (for my own reference if nothing else). Here's the lot, with stars next to the ones I've already read:
The Bones of the Old Ones (Howard Andrew Jones) - #2 in his Dabir & Asim series. Haven't yet read this one, but I've read and enjoyed the first novel, The Desert of Souls.
Existence (David Brin)
Spin the Sky (Katy Stauber)*
Adaptation (Malinda Lo)*
Pandaemonium (Ben Macallen)
Bitterblue (Kristin Cashore)*
The Emperor's Soul (Brandon Sanderson)
The novels of Marie Brennan
Raising Stony Mayhall (Daryl Gregory)
The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)*
The Merchant of Dreams (Anne Lyle) - haven't read this sequel to last year's excellent Alchemist of Souls yet, but it's definitely on my TBR pile!
The Iron Druid series (Kevin Hearne)*
The Nightrunner series (Lynn Flewelling)*
3) And one link that anyone who appreciates the beauty of mountains absolutely must see (thanks to Paul Weimer for tweeting it!): a billion-pixel image tour of Mt. Everest, put together by climber and filmmaker David Brashears.
It'll be quiet around here next week, as I've got family in town for Christmas, but I shall return to posting soon. I plan to share my list of books I read and loved in 2012, and show off a few more gorgeous pics of New Zealand - no better time, with The Hobbit in theaters, right? (Haven't seen it yet, very much hoping to beg my mom to babysit for a few hours next week so my husband and I can see it together. I don't care how many liberties Peter Jackson took with the source material, so long as he filmed plenty of stunning NZ scenery.) So on that note, I leave you with one of my favorite pics from our hike on the Routeburn track in December of 2006: