Sunday, July 18, 2010

NetGalley, My Kindle's New Friend

The other day, I learned from Valerie Comer over at Little Worlds about NetGalley, a website where publishers can submit unbound galleys of as-yet-unpublished books that early reviewers can request and read as eBooks and then, it is hoped, review.

I signed up right away (because I don't have enough books to read), clicked on a bunch that I thought looked good, and right away got two eBook galleys from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  I've already started reading them ~ The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths and The Diviner's Tale by Bradford Morrow (both of which I'm relieved to say are quite good so far).  The Diviner's Tale and The Janus Stone are both due out next January.  I'll be reviewing them here any day now, but here's what the publisher has to say about The Diviner's Tale:
Walking a lonely forested valley on a spring morning in upstate New York, having been hired by a developer to dowse the land, Cassandra Brooks comes upon the shocking vision of a young girl hanged from a tree. When she returns with authorities to the site, the body has vanished, leaving in question Cassandra’s credibility if not her sanity. The next day, on a return visit with the sheriff to have another look, a dazed, mute missing girl emerges from the woods, alive and the very picture of Cassandra’s hanged girl. 
What follows is the narrative of ever-deepening and increasingly bizarre divinations that will lead this gifted young woman, the struggling single mother of twin boys, hurtling toward a past she’d long since thought was behind her. The Diviner’s Tale is at once a journey of self-discovery and an unorthodox murder mystery, a tale of the fantastic and a family chronicle told by an otherwise ordinary woman.
When Cassandra’s dark forebodings take on tangible form, she is forced to confront a life spiraling out of control. And soon she is locked in a mortal chess match with a real-life killer who has haunted her since before she can remember.
And a blurb from Joyce Carol Oates: “Luminous and magical, fraught with suspense, beautifully and subtly rendered—a feat of prose divination.”

Sounds yummy, doesn't it!

Having stayed up late into the night reading The Janus Stone, I'm a bit further into it so can discuss it from my own perspective rather than relying solely on the opinions of the publisher and others.

The Janus Stone begins with Ruth Galloway, an archaelogist, being sent to a dig in Norwich where some old bones, apparently without a skull, have been unearthed from beneath an ancient mound thought to be the remains of the wall of a Roman villa.  Not long after that, in a nearby town, the bones of a child ~ also missing its skull ~ are found buried under the front door step of a Victorian mansion that is being demolished to build a fancy hotel, and Ruth is called in to investigate that grisly find.  Are the bones from a Roman-era ritual sacrifice, or is the killer closer at hand?

The Janus Stone is a follow-up to The Crossing Places, Griffiths’s first mystery, which I confess I have not yet read.  (Based on how good the second book is, I'll be remedying that little oversight as soon as I can.)  I think it would have been better had I read the first book in the series before starting the second.  The relationship between Ruth and the investigating detective D.I. Harry Nelson is a developing one and, I suspect, would have been better understood had I been with them from the inception.  The mystery itself, of course, is fine on its own and, despite not having read the first, I'm really enjoying it. 

Still, if you are new to this author, I urge you to begin at the beginning, with The Crossing Places.  This works out well, since The Janus Stone won't be available for another six months.


Steven Till said...

That's a pretty interesting site. I hadn't heard of it before. Is there a limit to the number of books you can request to review? Or are you pretty much guaranteed a book when you submit a request?

Mary K. from L.A. said...

Hey, Steven ~ Saw your pictures from your recent trip to Colorado. Beautiful!

Yes, NetGalley is a very interesting site, and very very addictive. I don't think there's a limit, at least none of which I'm aware. I started out asking for six, which I got, then went back and asked for about four more and got those too. I'm almost done with one and about 1/4 way into a second, and plan to finish them both (they're good; with publishers like HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin they should be). The only thing is, they're galleys and unproofed, so sometimes there are little formatting glitches and obvious typos, but so far I haven't been bothered by that at all.

Steven Till said...

Sounds like a great site. Now if I only had an e-reader. I'm guessing you like the Kindle a lot?