Nominated for the 2007 Fantasy/Science Fiction Cybil.

Extras by Scott Westerfeld

Aya is desperate for fame and attention, but she is just the 15-year-old younger sister of the famous Hiro.  In a society built entirely on feeds and online reputation, Aya seeks the perfect story to kick that will bring her immediate fame.  She finds it in the Sly Girls, a gang of girls who shun the reputation economy and refuse to seek the limelight.  The group do danger stunts like surfing trains, and Aya finds herself invited into the gang.  It is on one of their surfing stunts that Aya discovers a story far bigger than the Sly Girls.  One that is infinitely kickable.

Westerfeld has done it again with this fourth book in the Uglies Trilogy.  He has again created a fascinating society that carries part of our current society to an extreme.  In Extras it is the MySpace, Facebook factor that we see revealed before us.  Westerfeld does this with dynamic action, fascinating complications and reaches far beyond a dystopian look at an extreme society. 
Westerfeld excels at not only society building, but creating heroines who are flawed and human but at the same time wildly exceptional.  Aya is exactly that type of heroine, and will be a welcome addition to any list of strong females in science fiction.

Highly recommended for lovers of the trilogy, this book has to be read as fourth in a series.  The exceptional cover will have teens grabbing it off the shelf and then desperately returning for the first three novels. 

Musing on Small Presses

When I started my blog several years ago, I had always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to focus more on small press publications than on the big books making news everywhere.  So I tried.  I contacted small presses for review copies, got on some lists but very few, and eventually got swept up by other larger publishers and their glossy covers.

When I get books from small presses, they usually fall into similar categories as larger press.  There are the ones that exceed their promise, those that disappoint and those that are simply OK.  But what I love about small presses is that there are true undiscovered gems in there.  And even better, there are books that take real chances, risk it all and some work and others fail horribly.  But at least the risk was taken. 

So I wonder, how do we get copies of books by small presses to review?  How do we
bring to people’s attention great books that are being overlooked
simply because of the size of their printing?  How do small presses
afford to even consider sending review copies? 

And my question to all of you is if you are reading small press materials, how did you get your hands on them?  I would much rather wade through unknown material never before reviewed than find yet another book whose marketing promises the moon and then the book is mediocre at best.