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Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic: the Thirteenth Rib by David J. Schwartz is the first Kindle Serial I've tried. Serials are one time purchases episodically delivered as the author completes shorter installments.
Kindle Serials hold the hope of performing like an old time radio show. I enjoy looking forward to them.
Very much in the vein of the Magicians by Lev Grossman, Gooseberry Bluff is set in a future where magic is real and taught. The first episode hooked me as a Federal Bureau of Magic agent is sent undercover to investigate a community college professor's disappearance, apparently related to a larger demonic summoning/terrorist plot.
Schwartz uses 30-40 page installments to develop the story very well. I hope this format catches on.
I had a lot of time on my hands this holiday season and decided to get an arduino kit (I have solar panels I want to aim for max efficiency during the day, on a VW van.) A lot of intro titles seemed interesting but Simon Monk's 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius grabbed my attention. Good title!
Sadly, this is no guide to building shark-mountable lasers. There are however a lot of simple, short projects that help you understand building with an arduino controller. Monk uses very clear pictures and schematics to show what needs doing. His text is precise and understandable. The steps are easy to follow and the thing you should learn from an exercise is blatantly obvious. Most importantly these projects are fun! I'm not just making an LED blink or a speaker chirp when I work with this book. Projects like the temperature monitor and computer controlled fan are giving me the foundation I need to aim my solar panels. The results and functions are easy to apply to the types of things I want to do with an arduino.
Lasers would have been nice.
Sean Hammer's Cornbread is a dark kindle single that made me laugh.
With an empty life and nothing to look forward to ever, Jenny's sole pride is the cornbread she feeds her husband once-a-week. When Jenny messes up the recipe, everything changes.
Well paced, Cornbread went by just a little too quickly.
If the only new author I'd been introduced to in 2012 was Hugh Howey, then 2012 would have been a fantastic year. His series Wool is the best set of kindle shorts I've read, bar none.
To avoid spoilers, Wool is a tale of discovery that shines through the open holes in its backstory. Howey takes advantage of the short form to create an amazing and full world, skillfully letting you imagine huge swaths of history. Parts 6 & 7 represent a prequel trilogy, First Shift and Second Shift tell part of the story, the beginning.
Trapped is the fifth novel in Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles. A Harry Dresden-esque story of Atticus, the last remaining druid.
Atticus largely spends his time hanging out, loving the earth and being all druid-y. This is how he has stayed alive when all the other druids were killed off! The series, however, shows how events unfold to lead Atticus in bringing the magic back and training an apprentice, a hot one. In book five it appears Granuaile, said apprentice, is ready to be sworn in or, conveniently "bound," when everything goes awry.
I really enjoy these books. They are clever, fast paced and a good escape. Hounded is the first in the series.
Trapped (The Iron Druid Chronicles, book five) by Kevin Hearne
Holland recounts the lawlessness, mob rule and colorful characters that the 1849 Gold Rush brought to San Francisco. Tales of gangs like "the Hounds" wandering the streets, the massive in-flux of wealth seekers and the poverty that followed. You can easily see how today's San Francisco evolved.
Cold Days is the latest installment in Butcher's series about the politics and antics of the magical realm and how they cross over into ours. The entire quirky cast is back and Harry isn't even dead! I'll hold off on other spoilers and suffice to say I loved it.
Mark Ernest Pothier's The First Light of Evening explores the life of Jim, who would rather not have it explored. Marriage over and retired Jim has spent the last few years reading all the books he said he would, and then his daughter sets him up on a date.
An elegantly written Kindle Single, Pothier makes every word count without creating the rushed or crammed feeling the format can often take. I'll be looking for additional works by this author!
Blue Skies is a great start to Matthew Mather's Atopia Chronicles. In just a few pages he introduces you to believable future and a character I immediately identified with.
Olympia is an advertising exec run out of steam, but she can't admit it. She is past the edge of a nervous breakdown and needs to find some control. She doesn't like to use drugs but agrees to test a new technology, nanobots embed 'smaticles' into her nervous system and give complete control over the reality she perceives -- bots aren't drugs! With the help of her new poly-synthetic sensory interface, or "pssi," Olympia learns one of those "be careful what you wish for" lessons.
or consider the entire collection:
Warm Moonlight is the second Kindle Single I've read by Joseph Wurtenbaugh. I really like his style!
Warm Moonlight reveals a former 20's gun moll turned grandmother, sharing a supernatural story of their family past with her granddaughter. While the story isn't the most original and you've heard it before, Wurtenbaugh does a wonderful job of drawing you in. Do not, however, expect a repeat of Old Soul, which was told from the pov of a microscopic parasite/symbiote, this story is very different.
China and the U.S. apparently let the nukes fly and absolutely nothing good comes of it; society has collapsed. 30-40 years later a young reclamation engineer is sent out on his first mission: survey some former housing with the idea of securing more arable land. He finds something else entirely.
Howey's The Plagiarist is the tale of a college professor who moonlights prospecting virtual worlds for great works of art and literature. The moral quandaries, his love life and general lack of mental health all blend to tell an engrossing tale.
As usual Howey's work is hard to put down. If you enjoyed Wool, be sure to read the Plagiarist.
Providing examples of Einstein's theory of relativity at work today (why satellite clocks run faster than ground based ones), Cohen documents a number of different views about the possibility, inevitability and futility of time travel. This very short romp through topics like string theory, wormholes and light will make you think.
While not a DIY handbook for construction of my own T.A.R.D.I.S. this was certainly worth the quick read.
Set in not-to-far-in-the-future Seattle, Walters paints a picture of a broken America. People frustrated by reproduction laws, intelligence testing that dictates the course of their lives, and Starbucks playing a lead role in US economy can apparently turn to zombie-ism as an escape! Through the abuse of a club drug they become quasi-functional zombies and forget all their cares; a pseudo-suicide that society seems desperate to accept.
A super fast read for lovers of zombie lit.